Liveblogging the Trump presidency, one catastrophe at a time.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is landing in Russia today for what I’m certain will be a pleasant and friendly meeting. Meanwhile, we’re still stirring up trouble with North Korea and eyeballing Syria with no real plans. Plus apparently the White House can’t even get an Easter egg hunt together.
NEWS: More chest-beating over Syria with Russia: “Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said on Tuesday that President Bashar al-Assad’s reign in Syria was ‘coming to an end,’ and he warned that Russia was at risk of becoming irrelevant in the Middle East by continuing to support him.” (New York Times)
- RELATED: US Presidents have a tradition of coming into office with high hopes for getting along with Russia, and generally leave office happy if neither party has actively stabbed the other. The Trump administration is shaping up to hit the “happy just to not be stabbing each other” mark a bit earlier than usual. (NPR)
- NEWS: SoS Tillerson told Russia that they’re either with us or against us when it comes to Syria. (TPM)
- NOTE: Look, the gas attack was awful and I’m not necessarily against doing something to put a stop to that sort of thing, but are you actually telling me we bombed a country because a gal got upset and asked her daddy to make the mean men stop it? I mean, I don’t want to put Ivanka down, really, she’s a powerful woman in a powerful job whether I like her or not, but man, the optics on this whole thing are frickin’ terrible for everyone. There are so many bad tropes at work in this story: an incompetent president who bombs a place to no effect and with no plan in mind for the aftermath, a spoiled little rich girl who stamps her foot to make her rich daddy jump, a pile of fools and idiots mucking about in a deeply complicated and entangled problem in complete ignorance of those complications and entanglements… this is the worst.
- RELATED: Eric Trump also says the Syria strike proves there’s no Trump-Russia connection. (Politico) I mean, not really, but okay, Eric.
NEWS: “The U.S. Government Accountability Office is reviewing Donald Trump’s presidential transition, focusing on funding, ethics and communications with foreign governments. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) requested the review in November, citing concerns with ‘reports of “disarray” within a “chaotic” transition.'” (Huffington Post) HuffPo is not my favorite site to link to, but this story looks legit as far as I can tell.
FACT CHECK: “On 9 April 2017, political commentator, prolific Twitter user and former British member of Parliament Louise Mensch tweeted to her 224,000 followers that the Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 were funded by the Russian government.” This is unmitigated BS. Snopes calls it “unproven,” but I’m telling you straight up: this is BS. Louise Mensch is a pants-on-head-crazy conspiracy theorist and you can safely disregard anything she says or tweets, along with anyone who’s taking her seriously. (Snopes)
BACKGROUND: Trump has his panties in a bunch over the Iran nuclear deal, and has for awhile. He’s not a fan, and he’s made a lot of noise about undoing the deal some way or another. The Council on Foreign Relations has an extensive write-up on the deal and its effects so far. Read it here.
AMUSEMENT: Apparently the Trump White House can’t even get the annual Easter shindig together competently. (New York Times)
- NOTE: Event planning is difficult for smaller events with plenty of experienced staff on hand. I’ve done events stuff in the past and I watch a lot of it getting done in my current job; it’s a frickin’ hassle. Combine all that standard-issue mess with a lack of trained staff and plenty of ignorance, and apply it to one of the biggest events of the White House’s year, and you’ve got a catastrophe in the making. Here’s what I don’t get: Trump runs resorts. He must have events planners on hand. Why on Earth aren’t they using them?
NEWS: “The number of people who have been asked to hand over their cellphones and passwords by Customs and Border Protection agents has increased nearly threefold in recent years. This is happening to American citizens as well as foreign visitors.” (NPR)
NEWS: “A special election in Kansas on Tuesday has Republicans sounding worried about an enthusiasm gap in the Trump era. Trump himself was apparently worried enough that he cut a robo call for Republican state party Treasurer Ron Estes.” (NPR, Also: TPM)
NEWS: We bombed Syria and we’re sending gunboats to North Korea, rankling both Russia and China in the process. However, unlike with Syria, just firing off some missiles isn’t going to work in North Korea (not that it did anything spectacular for us in Syria). Syria has no real ability to respond to a US attack, not in a way that would hurt us or our allies, but North Korea does, and would: they could nuke South Korea, for starters. (NPR)
NEWS: “President Donald Trump is counting on his $1 trillion infrastructure proposal to produce the kind of bipartisan legislative victory that has eluded him on health care and pretty much everything else. Instead, he’s running into familiar roadblocks: suspicious Democrats, a divided GOP and questions about the math.” (Politico)
NEWS: Pretty much everybody is baffled as to why Syria’s Assad would launch a chemical weapon attack. A lot of theories have been tossed around about why he’d do that, but folks seem to be settling on “he’s desperate” as the answer. Assad’s getting his keister kicked and doesn’t know what else to do. (Politico)
NEWS: “The full bench of a federal appeals court in Virginia will consider the legality of President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban executive order at an argument session next month, the court announced Monday.” (Politico)
NEWS: There are hundreds of job vacancies in the Trump White House, which is making getting anything done a nightmare – including actually hiring people: “The process is bogged down as a result of micromanaging by the president and senior staff, turf wars between the West Wing and Cabinet secretaries and a largely inexperienced and overworked staff, say more than a dozen sources including administration insiders, lobbyists, lawyers and Republican strategists.” (Politico)
NEWS: Today Putin said Russia wants a UN investigation into last week’s chemical weapons attack in Syria. Everyone’s blaming Assad for that, but Russia claims it was a conventional attack that hit a rebel chemical weapons stash. (Politico)
NEWS: Trump is hassling China to do something about North Korea, insinuating there might be a trade war if they don’t. (Politico)
North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2017
QUOTE: “You see what’s going on. You see the numbers. We’ve created over 600,000 jobs already in a very short period of time, and it’s gonna really start catching on now because some of the things that we’ve done are big league, and they are catching on. Already, we’ve created more than almost 600,000 jobs.” – Trump. No one knows where he got that “600,000 jobs created” number from, but there doesn’t seem to be any proof for it. (Politico)
QUOTE: “For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned. This is a new era. This is the Trump era. The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigration laws, and the catch and release practices of old are over.” – Jeff Sessions, warning folks that ICE won’t be playing nice anymore. (Politico)
ANALYSIS: Josh Marshall takes a quick look at how Syria got where it is today, and how the repercussions of not intervening earlier may have led to the current nationalism wave that caused Brexit and the Trump presidency. (TPM Edblog)
QUOTE: “We need either a change in direction from this speaker, or we need a new speaker.” – Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) at a town hall yesterday, talking about House Speaker Paul Ryan. (TPM)
NEWS: “The Islamic State group has lost more than three-fourths of the territory it seized when it swept across Iraq in the summer of 2014, the Iraqi military said Tuesday.” (AP)
POLL: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is the most popular senator among his constituents in the country, according to a poll released Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is the least popular.” (TPM)
NEWS: Healthcare insurers aren’t feeling reassured by Congress’ statement that those Obamacare subsidies will continue with the GOP pushes their lawsuit. To recap, the House GOP sued over the subsidies Obamacare pays to cover the cost of healthcare insurance for folks. The GOP has said that those subsidies will continue while they sue, but the suit plus all the other uncertainty around the ACA is making insurers pretty skittish about offering plans on the ACA exchanges. In practice, that’s probably going to mean a lot fewer plans available on exchanges, which could lead to further uncertainty and maybe even people abandoning the exchanges because there aren’t enough plans, etc, until the exchanges fold. (TPM)
FACT CHECK: Trump has claimed credit for reduced illegal immigration (saying it’s down 61%) and reduced drug trade from across the border. Both claims are nominally true, but the “61%” comes with a lot of caveats (read: cherry picking) and it’s hard to fact check the drugs claims because Border Patrol won’t release the necessary numbers. (Washington Post)
NEWS: “The Trump administration has temporarily suspended the publication of weekly reports detailing cities and counties that fail to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement directives over concerns about the accuracy of those lists.” (Washington Post)
NEWS: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says that accomplishing tax reform is going to be a lot harder if Trump doesn’t release his tax returns. (Washington Post)
NEWS: Representative Tom Marino (R-PA) will probably be Trump’s nomination for the White House’s new drug czar. (Washington Post)
The Sean Spicer Show
- “We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You know, you had a — someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” – Sean Spicer, apparently unaware that Holocaust camp “showers” were a thing? He later clarified that he meant that Hitler didn’t gas his own people like Assad did, which, again, the showers in the Holocaust camps, dude. Many (most?) of the Jewish people who died there were German. No, he meant using them from planes to gas their own people. Aaaah, okay. Yeah, that Hitler didn’t do. (Washington Post, TPM, HistoryLearningSite.co.uk, Politico, Washington Post, Vox, AP)
- The Anne Frank Center is calling for Spicer to be fired. (TPM)
- Spicer said he was sure Trump had seen the United video of the old Asian doctor who was beat up and dragged off the plane because no one wanted to volunteer to be bumped to the next flight and that United’s response to the viral video was “troubling.” (TPM, Politico)
Looking for old Trumpster Fires? Look here.