This week’s (11-17 February) episode of Donald Trump’s America brings us the following:
Day 29, 17 February 2017
- The Wall Street Journal reported that General David Petraeus turned down the president’s offer to become national security adviser.
- AP reported that a leaked draft memo shows Trump is considering using National Guard troops to “round up unauthorized immigrants… Administration officials said the proposal, which called for mobilizing up to 100,000 troops in 11 states, was rejected.”
- ETHICS: After a closed door meeting between FBI chief Comey and the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Rubio (R-FL) tweeted, “I am now very confident Senate Intel Comm I serve on will conduct thorough bipartisan investigation of #Putin interference and influence.”
- TWITTER: Trump castigated the news media, calling it “the enemy of the American people.“
Day 28, 16 February 2017
- At his first press conference, Trump called the news media “the enemy of the American people.”
- Full transcript and video of Trump’s first news conference
- Trump castigated the media (“fake news”) on Twitter
- Reporter April Ryan asked Trump if he planned to arrange a meeting with the CBC (Congressional Black Caucus). Trump replied, “Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?” Ryan is black.
- Jake Turx, a reporter for a Jewish magazined, asked Trump about anti-semitism. Trump called him a liar,” told him to sit down, and said anti-Semitism was coming from ‘the other side’.”
- Ten members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) resigned; in their resignation letter, they objected to Trump’s “portrayal of immigrants, refugees, people of color and people of various faiths as untrustworthy, threatening, and a drain on our nation.”
- Retired Vice Admiral Bob Harward turned down the president’s offer to become national security adviser.
- BILLS SIGNED: The fourth piece of legislation signed by the Trump Administration, House Joint Resolution 38, rolled back stream protection rules. The rule was finalized during the last month of the Obama Administration, but the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement had worked on this rule since 2009. Prior to that, the agency had worked on a rule under the Bush Administration; that rule ran afoul of Endangered Species Act restrictions. In 1983 the agency published a “stream buffer zone rule” but it did NOT defined what it means not to cause “material damage to the environment to the extent that it is technologically and economically feasible.” This rule has not been clarified since it was written, 34 years ago. The resolution passed the House 228 – 194; it passed the Senate 54-45. Democratic Senators voting with the majority: Donnelly (IN) and McCaskill (MO).
- SENATE action:
- The Senate confirmed (52-46) Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. That same day, Oklahoma District Court Judge Aletia Timmon ordered Pruitt to “turn over thousands of emails related to his communication with the oil, gas and coal industry” in a case brought to court by the Center for Media and Democracy. Pruitt had sued the EPA 14 times on behalf of the State of Oklahoma.
- The Senate confirmed Mick Mulvaney as Director of the Office of Management and Budget (51-49, McCain voted with the minority).
- The Pentagon’s largest weapons program is the Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 jet. On February 16, Bloomberg reported that Trump called the Air Force general who manages that program prior to his taking office on January 20. In the room while Trump made the call: the CEO of Lockheed Martin rival Boeing.
- Six White House staffers were dismissed after they failed FBI background checks.
- The Washington Post reported that Flynn lied in a January 24 FBI interview; lying to the FBI is a felony, but the Department of Justice (headed by AG Sessions) would have to press charges.
- The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner “met with a senior Time Warner Inc. executive in recent weeks and expressed the administration’s deep concerns about CNN’s news coverage.”
- PUBLIC OPINION: Pew reported the results of its latest national survey: Trump’s overall job approval is much lower than those of prior presidents in their first weeks in office: 56% disapprove and only 39% approve of his job performance. The difference is outside of the margin of error.
Day 26, 15 February 2017
- Andrew Puzder Withdraws From Consideration as Labor Secretary.
Republican senators who expressed concerns included Susan Collins (ME), Johnny Isakson (GA), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), John Thune (SD), Thom Tillis (NC), and Tim Scott (SC).
- The FBI released 400 pages of records from the government’s race discrimination investigation into Trump’s real estate company. “In October 1973, the Civil Rights Division filed a lawsuit against Trump Management Company, Donald Trump and his father Fred Trump, alleging that African-Americans and Puerto Ricans were systematically excluded from apartments. The Trumps responded with a $100 million countersuit accusing the government of defamation.” The parties settled the litigation with a consent decree in 1975.
- TWITTER: Trump castigated the media (“fake news”).
Day 26, 14 February 2017
- BILLS SIGNED: In his third Congressional rubber-stamp, Trump signed a bill repealing a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule, written under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, that required energy companies to disclose payments to foreign governments. House Joint Resolution 41 “was meant to fight corruption in resource-rich countries by mandating that companies on United States stock exchanges disclose the royalties and other payments that oil, natural gas, coal and mineral companies make to governments.” This only the second time that a President has used the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal a regulation; the prior time was 16 years ago. The House passed the bill 235-187; the Senate, 52-47 in a pre-dawn vote.
- SENATE action: Linda E. McMahon confirmed as Administrator of the Small Business Administration (81-19).
- HOUSE action: On a vote of 23-15, Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee voted to not request Trump’s tax returns from the Treasury Department.
- CNN reported in that Trump campaign aides had been in constant contact with Russian officials. Yet Attorney General Sessions refused to recuse himself from any investigation, despite his ties to Trump during the campaign.
- In letter made public on Tuesday, director of the Office of Government Ethics wrote that there was a “strong reason” to think Conway violated rules, and that disciplinary action is warranted for her on-air comments to buy Ivanka’s “stuff.”
- JUDICIAL: Judge grants injunction against Trump travel ban in Virginia
Day 25, 13 February 2017
- SENATE action:
- Steve Mnuchin confirmed (53-47) as Secretary of the Treasury. West Virginia Democrat Manchin III voted with the majority (CabinetVotes).
- David J. Shulkin confirmed as Secretary of Veterans Affairs (unanimous)
- National security adviser Michael Flynn resigned. Flynn is the third Trump advisor to resign over ties to Russia; others are campaign manager Paul Manafort (August 2016) and campaign adviser Carter Page (September 2016).
- Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross Jr. “plans to keep millions of dollars invested in offshore entities whose values could be affected by policies that he implements as commerce secretary,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Day 24, 12 February 2017
- ETHICS: White House senior policy advisor Stephen Miller was awarded “bushels of Pinocchios” for a series of lies he repeated on Sunday talk shows.
- TWITTER: Trump castigated the media (“fake news”).
Day 23, 11 February 2017
- NATIONAL SECURITY: In public, at his private club Mar-a-Lago, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Abe conducted national security deliberations while waiters continued serving dinner. Aides used their smart phones as flashlights so that the men could read documents. A club member posted photos of the scene on his Facebook account. Trump then departed from the prepared remarks (photographers had captured images of the prepared remarks, which were on the podium) in the joint television statement. Later, he crashed a wedding party for a photo-op.
North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won’t happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2017
- TWITTER: Trump praised his daughter, Ivanka, with both his @realDonaldTrump and @POTUS accounts, continuing his feud with Nordstrom’s for dropping her fashion line.
Cabinet Tracker (link provides current information)
- February 16: Scott Pruitt confirmed as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (52-46)
- February 16: Mick Mulvaney confirmed as Director of the Office of Management and Budget (51-49, McCain voted with the minority)
- February 14: Linda E. McMahon confirmed as Administrator of the Small Business Administration (81-19)
- February 13: David J. Shulkin confirmed as Secretary of Veterans Affairs (unanimous)
- February 13: Steve Mnuchin confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury (53-47, Manchin III voted with the majority)
- February 10: Tom Price confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services (52-47)
- February 8: Jeff Sessions confirmed as Attorney General (52-47)
- February 7: Betsy DeVos confirmed as Secretary of Education (50-50, tie cast by Vice President Pence)
- February 1: Rex Tillerson confirmed as Secretary of State (56-43)
- January 31: Elaine L. Chao confirmed as Secretary of Transportation (93-6)
- January 24: Nikki R. Haley confirmed as Ambassador to the United Nations (96-4)
- January 23: Mike Pompeo confirmed as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (66-32)
- January 20: John Kelly confirmed as Secretary of Homeland Security (88–11)
- January 20: James Mattis confirmed as Secretary of Defense (98–1)