Liveblogging the Trump presidency, one catastrophe at a time.
There are lots of odds n’ ends going on today, but so far nothing too fiery or dramatic.
NEWS: The Senate has approved Montenegro’s entry into the UN. Montenegro is former ally of Russia and in the middle of a fight between the West and Moscow over influence in the Balkans. Montenegro’s membership gives NATO a contiguous border along the Adriatic coast. (AP)
EXPLAINER: AG Jeff Sessions threatened the funding of “sanctuary cities” this week, and the AP takes a look at what that means and what steps are coming next. Read it here.
NEWS: “A government watchdog on Wednesday identified what it called weaknesses in the Justice Department’s asset forfeiture program, including poor data collection and analysis and inadequate training of local and state officers.” (AP)
NEWS: Trump launched his commission to fight opioid addiction today. (AP)
QUOTE: “I don’t see myself meeting with him, sitting down with him, believing anything he would say or even respecting anything he would say. It would not be honest on my part to go to any ceremonies with him or to pretend I am having a decent conversation with him.” – Rep. Maxine Waters about Donald Trump. (AP)
NEWS: The House Science Committee had a hearing today that devolved into name-calling. (AP) That’s mature and helpful. Good job, guys.
FACT CHECK: “Although serial fabrication is currently popular in the White House, we believe facts matter. This is pertinent when examining President Donald Trump’s statements on Mexico. Trump’s many mischaracterizations threaten $500 billion in annual trade, U.S.-Mexico relations, and America’s national interests.” (Council on Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy)
STATS: “President Trump reached a new low on FiveThirtyEight’s job-approval tracker this week, when his approval rating hit 41.3 percent. It’s a low for Trump, but how good or bad is a 41 percent approval rating two months into a president’s tenure in historical terms? To help put Trump’s ratings in perspective, we’ve added a new section to our tracker: Charts for each of the previous 12 presidents, showing approval, disapproval and net approval ratings compared with Trump’s at the same point in their presidencies.” (FiveThirtyEight)
ANALYSIS: “Trump — along with many of his supporters in coal-producing states — blames Obama’s environmental policies for the coal industry’s struggles. And it’s true that U.S. coal consumption dropped precipitously during Obama’s time in office. But the timing is largely coincidental: Coal’s biggest problem isn’t regulation — it’s natural gas.” (FiveThirtyEight) Coal ain’t bell bottoms, folks. It’s not coming back.
NEWS: “New York Times reporter David Sanger talks about North Korea’s nuclear program and warns that the regime, which has been ‘fodder for late night comedians for many many years,’ is no joke.” (NPR Audio)
- RELATED: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is prepping the Senate GOP for the nuclear option. (Politico)
- RELATED: “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned Republicans not to choose the option to ‘go nuclear,’ and change Senate rules to overcome a potential filibuster of Judge Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court. ‘If they decide to change the rules, it’ll be on their back,’ he said.” (Washington Post Video)
- ANALYSIS: “A battle years in the making over the politicization of the Senate’s judicial confirmation process will come to a head next week with the final push to confirm federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.” (TPM)
EXPLAINER: If you think Republicans are done with the ACA, think again. There are still several things Trump can do to cripple the ACA, including cutting off the subsidies, stop enforcement on the individual mandate, let states decide what “essential health benefits” are, redefine the essential health benefits himself, let the states experiment more with fulfilling ACA requirements, and just let the architecture supporting the bill crumble. (NPR, Also: Politico)
- RELATED: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was at a hearing on the Hill today. lawmakers tried to pin him down on whether or not he would undermine Obamacare, and he dodged everything like a pro, leaving some doubt that he actually intends to uphold the administration of the ACA like he claimed he would in his confirmation hearing. (TPM)
- RELATED: The Democrats’ “Medicare for All” plan seems to be back on the table. (Vox, Washington Post)
NEWS: “The family of President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, has called off talks with Chinese insurance company Anbang to redevelop a Manhattan office tower — a deal that raised ethical concerns.” (NPR)
NEWS: “The House of Representatives has gone along with the Senate and voted 215-205 to overturn a yet-to-take-effect regulation that would have required Internet service providers — like Comcast, Verizon and Charter — to get consumers’ permission before selling their data. President Trump is expected to sign the rollback, according to a White House statement.” (NPR, Also: White House Statement, Politico)
NOTE: Now might be a good time to look into VPNs. I’ve used BTGuard, they weren’t awful, but neither were they especially good. I’m currently using Private Internet Access, which has been pretty cool so far. Learn more about good VPNs at TorrentFreak.
NEWS: “The Government Accountability Office has agreed to examine costs and security issues surrounding President Trump’s frequent visits to Mar-a-Lago. The president has spent half of his weekends since taking office at the private club he owns in Palm Beach, Fla.” (NPR) Trump’s costing us a fortune, guys.
NEWS: We already knew Trump wasn’t going to the Correspondent’s dinner, but now, apparently, no one from the White House will be attending. (Politico)
NEWS: Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) wants to completely bury Paul Ryan’s ACA repeal bill and fire up one of his own, which might make reviving Republicare for another go tricky. (Politico) Sounds a little bit like Roskam might be thinking about gunning for Ryan’s job.
NEWS: “Britain officially told the EU on Wednesday it will leave the bloc, setting the clock ticking on a two-year period for negotiating its departure.” (Politico) This isn’t really Trump related, but a lot of the sentiments and situations that got Trump elected were in play for the Brexit vote, too, so it’s worth keeping an eye on.
NEWS: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday morning that he is not interested in a job in the administration of President Donald Trump because he intends to serve out the remainder of his term as governor.” (Politico) Translated: I have enough of my own problems – I don’t need to add these guys’ dirt to the pile, too.
NEWS: “U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, making his first visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels this week, will reiterate Donald Trump’s demand that allies ramp up their military spending, a senior State Department official said.” (Politico)
NEWS: “Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tom Carper are requesting information from the Office of Government Ethics about Ivanka Trump’s compliance with federal ethics rules amid reports that the president’s elder daughter is expanding her unofficial role in the administration.” (Politico)
NEWS: “Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall may not completely be a ‘physical wall.'” (Politico) Considering how little political will there seems to be to get the thing funded, I won’t be surprised if most of it ends up being a line painted on the sand with a stern note tacked up on nearby brush.
- NEWS: “Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on Tuesday suggested that parts of President Donald Trump’s proposed wall could be on the Mexican side of the United States’ southern border.” (TPM)
POLL: “A majority of Americans believe traditional media outlets publish fake news reports, and Republicans are more likely to believe that fake news is being pushed to advance an agenda, according to a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday.” (Politico)
NEWS: The New York Times says they didn’t apologize. (Politico)
Remember when the failing @nytimes apologized to its subscribers, right after the election, because their coverage was so wrong. Now worse!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2017
.@realdonaldtrump False, we did not apologize. We stand by our coverage & thank our millions of subscribers for supporting our journalism.
— NYTCo Communications (@NYTimesComm) March 29, 2017
NEWS: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appears to have figured out that having reporters around to make sure he’s not cutting out early on state dinners to take a nap might not be a bad thing. He took some pool reporters along with him to Turkey and Belgium. (Politico)
NEWS: “Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke is expected to announce Friday he will challenge Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for Senate next year, people familiar with the decision confirmed.” (Politico)
- Related: Nunes claims it’s the Democrats who aren’t serious about investigating, but he doesn’t seem to have offered any proof or reasoning for that. It sounds more like he just went, “Nuh-uh, I’m not the problem, YOU ARE!” (Politico)
- QUOTE: “The Senate is gonna lead this discussion, or this investigation, on the Russian meddling into the election. I think that’s where it is. It’s unfortunate we are where we are in the House. It seems like there’s not gonna be a House report on intelligence, on the Russian meddling, and so I think we have to turn our eyes to the Senate to see if they can come to a resolution.” – Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.). (Politico)
- NEWS: “In a formal written request made to the leaders of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, [Senator Ron Wyden] said financial relationships between Trump, a real estate developer with properties around the world, and Russia are deserving of scrutiny because of resistance by Trump and some in his orbit have not been forthcoming about their finances.” (Reuters)
- NEWS: “Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) on Tuesday became the first Republican lawmaker to unequivocally call for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) to recuse himself from investigating Russia’s interference in the presidential election.” (TPM)
- NEWS: “Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) on Tuesday said that House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) should “clear things up” when it comes to questions about Nunes’ ability to remain impartial while leading an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.” (TPM)
- NEWS: Yesterday House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) said he would never reveal the source of his claim that information involving the Trump transition team was ‘incidentally collected’ by the US intelligence community. (TPM)
- NEWS: There are at least three investigations into the Trump-Russia ties currently happening in Washington. (Vox)
- NEWS: “The House Intelligence Committee’s probe of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, including potential ties between the Trump team and the Kremlin, is effectively on hold, after its chairman said the panel would not interview more witnesses until two intelligence chiefs return to Capitol Hill for a still-unscheduled private briefing.” (Washington Post)
NEWS: Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley and Richard Blumenthal have asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to explain if the firing of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara had anything to do with the reports that he was investigating Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. (ProPublica)
NEWS: “After weeks of heightened unease over the stance of the United States under the new administration of President Donald Trump, Arab leaders reaffirmed on Wednesday their commitment to a two-state solution to the decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict. They called for a new round of peace talks based on a two-state solution and renewed a 2002 offer of ‘reconciliation’ if Israel quit occupied Arab land and agreed a deal on Palestinian refugees, according to a statement read out after a summit.” (Reuters)
NEWS: “Nations led by China and the European Union rallied around a global plan to slow climate change on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump began undoing Obama-era plans for deep cuts in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.” (Reuters)
NEWS: “Leaders of the largest police union in the United States have warned President Donald Trump that he could endanger public safety if he follows through with cuts in federal grants to immigrant ‘sanctuary cities,’ the union’s director told Reuters after a White House meeting.” (Reuters, Also: TPM)
NEWS: During the Trump transition, Jared Kushner spoke to Sergey N. Gorkov, CEO of Vnesheconombank and close ally of President Vladimir Putin. Kushner says it was about business, but the Trump administration says Kushner was acting as a campaign surrogate. (TPM)
NEWS: Donald Trump probably got a lot of the money he used to finance his real estate and other businesses from Russian mobsters. (USA Today)
OPINION: “One of the most consistent things about the Trump/Russia story is the way that what we might call ‘the evidence’ is so frequently outstripped by the explanations for it and reactions to it in driving a fair-minded person’s suspicion that something just ain’t right. This isn’t to say ‘the evidence’ doesn’t hold its own weight; it does just fine. But the inability to give even remotely straight answers, the need for deflections and subterfuges that are demonstrably preposterous (Manafort was a marginal figure in the campaign) keeps coming up again and again.” (TPM EdBlog)
NEWS: Trump seems to think he’ll still be making a deal on health care. (TPM)
NEWS: “A Russian billionaire [Oleg Deripaska] who reportedly worked closely with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort took out ads in multiple major U.S. newspapers Tuesday, offering to be interviewed by congressional committees investigating Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election.” (TPM)
NEWS: The Trump Organization is hunting for another hotel deal in Washington DC. (TPM, Washington Post, NPR) No reason, I’m sure. It definitely doesn’t have anything to do with all the bank Trump would make from a hotel in Washington.
OVERVIEW: Vox has a good summary of the first 70 days of the Trump presidency. Read it here.
NEWS: “President Trump has taken steps to erase the Obama administration’s environmental record in an effort to buoy the struggling coal industry. But the move risks running afoul of public opinion, with majorities of the public in support of several rules that Trump is focused on dismantling.” (Washington Post)
SEAN SPICER SHOW: Spicer managed to keep his crap together a bit better today. He tried to squash the Nunes recusal idea (not particularly well, but he tried), talked about healthcare a bit and snarked about Democrats who wouldn’t go to dinner with Trump at the White House. (Axios)
- Sean Spicer says accusations that he treated reporter April Ryan badly are demeaning to April Ryan because she’s a tough woman so it’s apparently okay if Spicer is snotty to her? (Politico)
- “White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday that President Donald Trump was pursuing a new deal to repeal and replace Obamacare, but he was vague on details – even on whether the White House would seek Democratic support for the bill.” (TPM)
- “White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Wednesday said that questions about House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) meeting with a mystery source on White House grounds are the congressman’s problem, not his.” (TPM)
NEWS: Remember how Ivanka was expanding her unofficial role at the White House and everyone was all “Hey, ethics are a thing, not cool”? No worries – now her role will be official. She’s gonna be a Special Advisor to the President, just like her husband Jared Kushner. By they way: “Hey, nepotism is a thing, not cool.” (The Hill)
NEWS: FBI Director James Comey tried to go public with the Russia-2016 election stuff this past summer, suggesting he publish and op-ed in the New York Times that would have said much of what was said in the big report that came out just after the election. The idea was shot down because it wasn’t official enough, basically. (Newsweek)
NEWS: “Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has a message for parents at risk for deportation: Be prepared and select a guardian. His message doesn’t come entirely from a place of compassion for the state’s estimated 22,000 children who are U.S. citizens but whose parents aren’t. It also derives from fiscal considerations: If 10% of those children end up in the Connecticut’s foster system because their parents are deported, it could cost the state more than $60 million a year, he said.” (Wall Street Journal)
Looking for old Trumpster Fires? Look here.