Thursday, March 30, 2017, 8:00am

The Trumpster Fire (3-30-17)

The Trumpster Fire: Gallup Daily, 3-30-17

GALLUP DAILY: Real Unemployment 9.2% (-0.2) | Gallup Good Jobs 45.0% (-) | Engaged at Work 32.7% (-0.9) | Economic Confidence 9 (+2) | Consumer Spending $89 (+4) | Trump Approval 38% (+3)

Liveblogging the Trump presidency, one catastrophe at a time.

The Senate is doing Russia-Trump hearings today, plus Hawaii blocked the Muslim ban, Ivanka’s got a job, and more.


WATCH: The Senate has hearings on the 2016 election diddling by Russia today. They’ve already started, but you can watch them (and catch up with the first part) on CSPAN. Sounds like today is mostly going to be history and background stuff. (TechCrunch)

  • NEWS: Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr and his Democratic counterpart, Mark Warner have announced that they intend to be grownups about the Senate investigation into the Trump-Russia ties. Basically, they’ve seen what the House did and don’t want any part of looking that foolish. Which is great, except the Senate can’t impeach anyone. The House has to do that, so there’s still a lot riding on the House’s ability to do its job. (Politico)
  • NEWS: “The vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee [Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)] accused Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday of ordering a ‘deliberate campaign carefully constructed to undermine’ last year’s presidential election.” (NPR)
  • NEWS: “During a hearing on Thursday for the Senate Intelligence Committee’s probe into Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) called on the panel to investigate the finances of President Donald Trump and his associates. Wyden said that a ‘key to a successful investigation is following the money,’ specifying that the probe should look into entities associated with the Trump Organization.” (TPM)
  • NEWS: Clint Watts, Foreign Policy Research Institute fellow, said during his testimony today, that Russia used propaganda and social media/Internet trolls to undermine American political processes, and that they’d targeted Marco Rubio during the election and were now targeting Paul Ryan. (TPM)
  • NEWS: It seems that Russian targeting of the Clinton campaign might have been more widespread than previously thought. According to the testimony of Thomas Rid, a professor at King’s College, “Russian intelligence officials targeted 6,730 people with approximately 19,315 links over the course of a year, Motherboard reports. Clinton and 102 members of her staff were targeted by the links between March 10 and April 7, 2016.” (TechCrunch)
  • OPINION: “In a remarkable moment, one key witness, Clinton Watts, a senior fellow at the George Washington Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, bluntly informed Sen. Marco Rubio, who serves on the Intelligence Committee, that as one of Trump’s presidential primary opponents, Rubio ‘suffered from’ Russian disinformation efforts.” (Washington Post)
  • NEWS: “Sen. Marco Rubio says former members of his failed presidential bid have twice come under attack from possible Russian hackers.” (Politico, Also: Reuters, TPM)
  • NEWS: “Russia mounted a campaign of ‘propaganda on steroids’ seeking to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee said on Thursday, listing several areas of concern about possible links to Republican Donald Trump’s campaign.” (Reuters)

NEWS: The FCC is dropping the Lifeline program, which helped push broadband Internet into rural communities. (Ars Technica) We wouldn’t want all you backwoods hillbillies getting jobs and being informed or anything. Y’all might not vote for Trump next time around if you did.

NEWS: “A bill approved Wednesday by the GOP-controlled House would require that data used to support new regulations to protect human health and the environment be released to the public.” (AP)

NEWS: Ivanka Trump will become an official employee of the White House. She’d initially been planning to expand her role at the White House as a sort of unpaid volunteer, but the problem with that was that since she wouldn’t be an official employee, she wouldn’t be beholden to the ethics laws that govern employees. So she’s going to be an unpaid employee, instead, taking the title of “Special Assistant to the President,” the same as her husband Jared Kushner. The title is actually more like a rank. The Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, is also technically a “Special Assistant to the President.” If you’re wondering about nepotism laws, you’re not alone. As far as I’ve been able to tell, the law states that you can’t appoint relatives to cabinet or agency jobs, but you can hire them as staff. (New York Times, Mother Jones, NPR, Politico, TPM, Washington Post)

NEWS: Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet Trump next week at Mar-A-Lago. (NPR, Politico, Reuters)

NEWS: Democrats are trying to make a 2018 campaign issue out of the Republicans’ vote to block FCC privacy regulations, and there’s an even bigger fight on net neutrality probably coming up next. (Politico)

BACKGROUND: Sergei Millian is thought to be one of the sources behind the infamous “Russian Dossier” on Trump, compiled by UK spy Christopher Steele. The Washington Post has a nice backgrounder on Millian, covering the claims attributed to him and his connections to Russia and Trump. Read it here.

NEWS: “Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, announced late Wednesday that a widely used pesticide will remain available to farmers, despite agency scientists recommending last year that it be banned due to neurotoxicity risks to farm workers and children.” (Ars Technica, TPM)

NEWS: Hawaii came through: “President Trump’s executive order to restrict travel to the U.S. from six majority-Muslim countries and suspend the U.S. refugee program has been blocked indefinitely.” (NPR, Also: Reuters)

  • UPDATE: The injunction has been appealed and will be heading to the 9th Circuit. (Reuters)

NEWS: Trump had a little Twitter-hissy at the House Freedom Caucus this morning, and Paul Ryan agrees with him. (AP, TPM)

  • RELATED: In a second little Twitter-hissy, Trump floated the idea (again) of changing the libel laws. (Politico, TPM, AP) Those libel laws he wants to change are what allow journalists to report on bad actors who are also celebrities and politicians, by the way.
  • RELATED: Trump wasn’t done with his Twitter-hissies yet, apparently. This afternoon he tweeted some trash talk at three Freedom Caucus guys. (Politico)

BACKGROUND: The House Freedom Caucus is re-evaluating after they killed Republicare and are getting attacked by Trump for it. Mostly because they don’t want to get blamed for failing to repeal Obamacare. (Politico, Politico, Reuters, AP)

NEWS: “The Senate has sent to President Donald Trump legislation to scrap a regulation encouraging cities and counties to set up retirement savings plans for some private-sector workers. The White House has said Trump will sign the resolution into law.” (AP)

NEWS: “Florida law school dean Alexander Acosta has moved a step closer to becoming President Donald Trump’s secretary of labor. A Senate panel on Thursday voted along party lines, 12-11, to advance Acosta’s nomination to all 100 members of the chamber for a confirmation vote.” (AP, Also: Politico)

NEWS: Obama passed a rule last year that said states couldn’t deny family planning funds to organizations like Planned Parenthood that do abortions. Yesterday, the Senate Republicans had VP Mike Pence in to break a tie on legislation to revoke it. (AP, Politico, Reuters, TPM, Washington Post) Ladies, I’m telling you, if you’re not planning to have kids any time soon, you better get in somewhere for an IUD while you still can.

NEWS: The US needs Turkey in the fight against ISIS in Syria. The US also needs the Kurds. Turkey and the Kurds can’t stand each other, and Turkey (and probably the Kurds) are super annoyed with the US for trying to work with both. Secretary of State Tillerson is in Turkey trying to smooth things over and work out a plan, and he’s not having an easy time of it. (NPR, Reuters)

NEWS: You might remember that North Korea and Malaysia are at each other’s throats over the murder of NK leader Kim Jong Un’s half brother. Last time we checked in with them on that, they were refusing to let citizens of each other’s countries leave their country, and each had kicked the other’s ambassadors out. Then Malaysia refused to sent the brother’s body back until Malaysians in North Korea were sent home. Now, finally, they may be getting to a deal to send the body back. (NPR, Reuters: 1, 2, 3, TPM) We’re paying attention to this on account of North Korea feeling all belligerent and nuclear missile-y lately.

NEWS: House Speaker Paul Ryan’s been talkative this morning. He says that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’ source for his “incidental collection” claims is “a whistle blower-type person,” that we’re not going to have a government shutdown and that Trump was “very apologetic” to him after promoting that Fox News show that raked Ryan over the coals. He’s also warning the House GOP that Trump might turn to Democrats for a deal on health care if the GOP doesn’t get its crap together. Ryan said, too, that the House GOP isn’t stopping their “Obamacare-related lawsuit that could cripple the individual health insurance market,” but that the subsidies to insurers would continue while the lawsuit happened. (Politico: 1, 2, 3, 4, Reuters, TPM, TPM, TPM)

NEWS: The White House has a tax plan. So does the House GOP – a different tax plan they’ve been working on for a year. The House says they aren’t giving up all their hard work for the White House, and the White House says they certainly will. This should be fun. (Politico)

  • NEWS: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had a meeting with the Problem Solvers Caucus (a new bipartisan bunch of 40 people in the House) last month to fluff them for Trump’s tax reform plan. It looks like after getting burned on healthcare, the Trump team is going to try a different tack. (Politico)

NEWS: “House Republicans’ latest last-ditch effort to revive a GOP Obamacare replacement faltered late Wednesday night after talks between conservatives and moderates broke down.” (Politico)

NEWS: The GOP is worried that “Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old Democrat, could steal a district that’s been in GOP hands for decades,” in a special election for Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s old seat. (Politico)

NEWS: The Democrats are requesting and/or demanding information from the Trump administration on various things. The Trump administration is ignoring them. (ProPublica)

NEWS: Trump pledged to buy and hire American right after his Inauguration. The border wall is calling that pledge into question because current trade laws will allow Mexican companies to bid on and maybe win contracts to build the wall. (ProPublica)

NEWS: “The big data company credited with helping Donald Trump win the U.S. presidency has registered a company in Australia and plans to meet the country’s ruling conservative Liberal Party next week, according to documents and a government official.” (Reuters)

NEWS: “The Vatican urged U.S. President Donald Trump to listen to ‘dissenting voices’ and reconsider his position on climate change on Thursday, saying the United States risked losing its environmental protection leadership to China.” (Reuters)

NEWS: The Trump administration sent a document to Congress detailing changes it’s seeking to NAFTA. Changes include: re-imposing “tariffs if a flood of imports from Canada and Mexico causes ‘a threat of serious injury,'” eliminating “a requirement in the 23-year-old trade deal that anti-dumping and anti-subsidy disputes be settled via a special dispute panel,” regulatory support for Trump’s “Buy American” plan, and “protections of digital trade and commerce, tougher intellectual property enforcement and requirements that state-owned companies operate in a commercial fashion.” (Reuters, Also: Politico)

NEWS: “Six environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration on Thursday to challenge its decision to approve construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.” (Reuters)

NEWS: We’re due for another government shutdown showdown. The Trump administration has asked for a debt ceiling increase – this is normal. Rep. Nancy Pelosi has backed them on it – that’s sensible. The debt ceiling is nothing you want to fart around with. (TPM)

NEWS: AG Jeff Sessions met with Jewish community leaders today over the JCC bomb threats. Afterwards Sessions’ spokesperson said that the DoJ wouldn’t tolerate hate crimes, that the meeting had been productive, commended Jewish leaders, etc. All the usual stuff. (TPM)

NEWS: HIC Devin Nunes got his information from two White House officials, “Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel’s Office and formerly worked on the staff of the House Intelligence Committee.” He’s said in the past that he didn’t get his info from the White House. Turns out, not so. (New York Times, TPM, Reuters, Axios)

  • NEWS: Rep. Adam Schiff, top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, wants to know if the White House was trying to “launder” information through Nunes and the HIC. (Politico)
  • NEWS: The Washington Post appears to have identified a third person involved with giving Nunes that information: John Eisenberg, the top lawyer for the National Security Council. (Washington Post)

NEWS: “Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, will not be charged in connection to an investigation of his registering as a voter in Miami-Dade County, Florida, despite reports last year that he had not lived at his listed address for months.” (TPM, Also: Politico)

NEWS: “European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday said that he’ll encourage individual states to secede from the U.S. if President Donald Trump keeps pushing for other countries to leave the European Union.” (TPM)

NEWS: Hey, so everyone was all excited about Kansas accepting the Medicaid expansion, right? Well, Governor Brownback just vetoed it. (TPM)

EXPLAINER: “Bullshitting is easy, but governing is hard: Trump’s bluster and bombast, so effective on the campaign trail, has backfired spectacularly in office.” (Vox)

POLL: America does not trust the press, like, at all. Republicans particularly do not trust the press during elections. (Washington Post)

EXPLAINER: The GOP can go two ways on health care: unify fractured Republicans or work with Democrats. Trump and Speaker Ryan can’t agree on which way to go. (Vox)

NEWS: “President Donald Trump will hold bilateral meetings with Denmark’s Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen.” (AP)

NEWS: “Nineteen U.S. states have introduced bills that would curb freedom of expression and the right to protest since Donald Trump’s election as president, an ‘alarming and undemocratic’ trend, U.N. human rights investigators said on Thursday.” (Reuters)

POLL: “Nearly 6 in 10 Americans disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as president, according to a new poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research over five days before and after the collapse of a GOP proposal to replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law.” (AP)

SEAN SPICER SHOW: Spicer says he’s not at liberty to discuss news that Devin Nunes’ sources were White House officials and that they aren’t expecting any more staff changes after the Deputy Chief of Staff leaves, (the Deputy Chief of Staff is leaving, btw). He also thinks we don’t need an independent investigation into the Trump-Russia ties, and that the White House doesn’t want a shutdown over spending cuts. Spicer said that there’s new evidence in the Trump-Russia thing, and the White House has invited the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees up to the White House to see it. No word, apparently, on what it is. (Politico, TPM, TPM, TPM, Axios, Reuters)

  • “White House press secretary Sean Spicer dodged questions about a report that two White House officials helped give Rep. Devin Nunes the intelligence reports behind his allegations that Trump transition team communications were incidentally monitored last year.” (Politico)
  • “White House economic officials are at the beginning stages of engaging Congress and others on tax reform, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said after several administration officials met with President Donald Trump on the issue today.” (Politico)
  • “White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday declined to discuss whether President Donald Trump has discussed the family business with his sons since taking office.” (TPM)

FACT CHECK: Websites that shovel out fake news deny that they shovel out fake news or that they have anything to do with Russia, and even if they did, what about Clinton’s Russia connections? 🙄 In order, yes they do, yes they probably are, and the Clinton-Russia thing has been widely debunked. (MMFA)

BACKGROUND: Senate Democrats and Republicans are getting ready to die on Gorsuch Hill next week, despite misgivings. The Dems will filibuster Gorsuch, and the GOP will change the rules of the Senate and kill the filibuster, which doesn’t seem like that big a deal… unless another SCotUS judge dies or steps down and there’s no way for Dems to stop another appointee. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is stressing out over it in particular. (Politico, Politico, TPM)

  • BACKGROUND: Lawfare is doing a three-part dive into SCotUS nominee Neil Gorsuch’s ruling on cyber issues. Read Part One and Part Two (Part Three is coming soon).
  • NEWS: “Gorsuch submitted 76 pages of answers Thursday to written questions senators asked after the conclusion of the nominee’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings last week, but remained cagey about his personal views of most of the legal questions raised, often repeating boilerplate phrases contending that it would be “improper” and “risk violating my ethical obligations as a judge” to opine on matters that could come before the court.” (Politico)
  • NEWS: Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (ND) are saying they’ll vote for Gorsuch. That probably won’t stop the filibuster. (Politico, Reuters)

NEWS: AG Jeff Sessions says the Justice Department will expand an existing program (Institutional Hearing Program) aimed at holding deportation hearings for immigrants while they’re still in federal prison. Doing the hearings while they’re still in prison lets the government deport them immediately upon release. (AP)

ANALYSIS: “When Donald Trump ran for president, many Republican senators were reluctant to endorse him, with some even calling on him to end his candidacy. Now that Trump is in office, that reluctance isn’t visible in the way senators are voting: Republicans are, by and large, supporting the president.” (FiveThirtyEight)

NEWS: “Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, declared Thursday that the Trump administration does not consider it a priority that Syrian President Bashar Assad be removed from power — overtly signaling a U.S. policy shift that observers say quietly began under the Obama administration.” (Politico)

NEWS: Peabody Energy, Arch Coal and Cloud Peak Energy, the top three coal companies in the US, “indicated in recent meetings with White House officials that they would not publicly object to sticking with [the Paris climate change agreement].” They seem to think they can get some economic leverage that way. (Politico)

NEWS: “Carter Page, who advised President Donald Trump’s campaign on foreign policy, said on Thursday that allegations he collaborated with Russia to influence the 2016 election are ‘just literally completely false in every way, shape and form.'” (TPM) That’s probably not the case.

NEWS: “President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Thursday told the FBI and members of Congress that he is willing to be interviewed in exchange for a grant of immunity, the Wall Street Journal reported.” (TPM, WSJ)

EXPLAINER: “House Republicans just passed two bills that will make it harder for the Environmental Protection Agency to use scientific research to protect health and the environment. And they’ve done so under the deceptive guise of ‘transparency.'” (Vox)


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