by Tirekicking Today

White House Woes

Latest Trump News Briefs

May 22, 2017

January 25: Meeting with representatives of major news organization, Stephen Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, warned news outlets to “keep your mouths shut.” Can any assault on the free press be more emphatic than that?

January 25: Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto cancels a planned meeting with President Trump, doubtless reacting to forceful opposition to Trump by ordinary Mexican people, as well as government leaders. Rather than sticking with that avoidance, however, the Mexican leader called Mr. Trump on the phone.

NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) is the foremost U.S./Mexico question, by far. Abandonment of NAFTA would be disastrous to Mexico’s economy; but allowing Mr. Trump to effectively rewrite the agreement would almost certainly be worse for our southern neighbor.

January 30: Trump fires Acting Attorney General. Because the nominee for Attorney General has not yet been confirmed, Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, has been serving as Acting Attorney General. Because she questioned the intent and ultimate legality of the president's Executive Order barring arrivals from specified Muslim countries, Ms. Yates sent a letter to that effect, to Justice Department attorneys, stating that they should not defend the ban. Mr. Trump reacted in a hurry. For "defying" the administration, Ms. Yates was fired. In the next two days, a thousand State Department employees, many stationed in embassies around the world, signed a notice backing her stand.

February 1: Federal judge rules that detained immigrants with visas should be allowed into the U.S. Federal judge Andre Birotte Jr. issued a temporary restraining order, stating that immigrants with visas, who had been detained upon arrival in the U.S. as part of the ban affecting persons from seven Muslim nations, should be released and permitted to enter the U.S. As reported by The New York Times, the ruling does not affect students or tourists; only those who anticipate becoming permanent residents.

February 6: President charges that news media have downplayed coverage of attacks by “radical Islamic terrorists. Speaking to an audience of military leaders in Florida, Mr. Trump alleged that “it’s gotten to a point where [attacks are] not even being reported.... And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it.” As published in The Hill, Mr. Trump further suggested that news media have a secret motive of their own. “They have their reasons,” he told the audience of senior commanders, “and you understand that.”

February 7: Senate confirms Betsy DeVos as education secretary – with aid of Vice President Pence. For the first time in U.S. history, a vice president has provided a tiebreaking vote to confirm a Cabinet appointee. After the Senate split 50/50, Pence voted to confirm Ms. DeVos, who has been criticized harshly for her intense advocacy of private and charter schools, to the detriment of public schools.

February 9: Travel ban blocked. A federal appeals court unanimously blocked revival of Mr. Trump's travel ban on travelers from seven Muslim-dominated countries, which had been initiated by Executive Order during his first day in office. Following a highly-criticized start to the ban, federal judges had ordered it halted temporarily.

February 10: Second travel ban is expected. President Trump plans to issue another Executive Order on immigration "by next week," according to The New York Times, while waiting for legal action on the original travel ban.

February 14: Professionals question Mr. Trump's mental health. 37 mental health professionals signed a letter to The New York Times, warning about Mr. Trump's mental state and aberrant behavior. In response, a prominent professor of psychiatry warned against attempting to diagnose mental illness without meeting the person in question, citing the "Goldwater Rule" established by the government in the 1970s. In 1964, some mental-health professionals and others had questioned the mental stability of the Republican candidate for president, Barry Goldwater.

February 16: "Day Without Immigrants" protest in various cities. Chicago Patch reported that immigrants had been urged to stay away from work and school, and not spend money, on Thursday February 16. Celebrity chef Rick Bayless and his staff were among those closing restaurants for a day, in support of what was termed a "national strike."

February 28: Suggesting a startling turnaround, President Trump is said to be leaning toward legalization of millions of non-criminal undocumented immigrants. (The New York Times, Feb. 28)

March 4: Proffering no evidence, Trump charges former President Obama with tapping phones in Trump Tower. In a batch of his many Tweets, President Trump accused his predecessor of authorizing wiretaps of phones used by Trump and his team in New York, stating that – if true – it would constitute a scandal bigger than Watergate. Mr. Obama and members of his administration denied that any wiretaps, of anyone, had been requested.

March 9: Bill to repeal Affordable Care Act passes two House committees. Republicans call their replacement for “Obamacare,” pushed most aggressively by Paul Ryan (R-WI), the American Health Care Act, claiming it will provide greater freedom in health care. Liberal critics charge that millions of now-insured Americans will lose coverage completely as premiums rise dramatically, and foresee undoing of Medicaid as catastrophic for low-income families. Resolute fiscal conservatives also express disapproval, insisting that subsidies to help non-affluent families pay for insurance are too generous.

March 9: Hawaii files suit to block second version of Trump’s travel ban. Rewriting of ban that barred visitors from seven predominantly-Muslim countries, halted in federal court, has dropped Iraq from the no-entry list. President Trump continues to claim that a ban is essential to protect against terrorists. Critics assert that it’s still a ban on religious grounds, thus of doubtful Constitutionality, also citing lack of terrorist threats by visitors from the affected nations.

March 11: President Trump reveals plan to hire 10,000 more immigration officers. Critics wonder how many of the new hires will be "rogue" officers, eager to mistreat undocumented persons. (The New York Times)

March 13: Congressional Budget Office estimates that under Trumpcare, the Republicans' health care bill, 14 million Americans could lose their health insurance in 2018.

March 15: Second federal judge blocks revised travel ban. Trump reacts by continuing to assail judges who block his Executive Order on restricted immigration.

March 17: President Trump appears to decline handshake with Germany’s Angela Merkel during photo-op. Later, press secretary Sean Spicer claims Trump did not hear her inquiry about a handshake.

March 20: Revised Obamacare replacement bill ready for vote in Congress.

March 20: FBI Director joins chorus denying any evidence of wiretapping Trump Tower. Previously, Director James Comey had acknowledged investigation of Trump camp’s connection to Russia, which could have included “incidental” wiretap of Trump aides.

March 21: Donald Trump and Paul Ryan’s health care – evidently something for just about everyone to detest.

March 22: House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes acknowledges that Trump’s personal communications could have been inadvertently intercepted, as part of an unrelated investigation. If true, is that enough to satisfy Mr. Trump that former President Obama did not order any wiretap? Or, will such a revelation serve to vindicate Mr. Trump’s claim, keeping it center stage indefinitely?

March 22: House to vote on Trump’s American Health Care Act, which has already been revised – and subjected to considerable criticism from various points on the political spectrum.

March 23: Trump threatens obstinate Republicans who oppose health care bill.

Late March: Trump continues to trumpet wiretap claim and alleged British agency participation. Despite continued lack of any evidence, President Trump has not backed off on his assertion that former President Obama ordered a British agency to wiretap Trump Tower. However, he altered his claim by insisting that “wiretap” didn’t necessarily mean tapping of phone wires; it could refer to other types of surveillance.

March 24: Anticipating failure to pass, Trump and Ryan “pull” revised health-care bill without a vote.

March 27: Trump Administration preparing to halt federal funds for “sanctuary cities.”

March 28: Trump signs Executive Order to begin curtailing climate-change program initiated by former President Obama. Mr. Trump’s stated goal is to reestablish coal mining and boost role of fossil-fuel industry. Critics quickly warned that this dramatic alteration would make it difficult or impossible for U.S. to meet standards set by 2015 Paris Agreement, signed by U.S. and most industrial nations. President Trump continues to insist that climate-change concerns are a hoax.

March 28: House of Representatives votes to let Internet providers gather and sell private data on their users, including marketers seeking to refine targeted advertising. Privacy advocates warn that the concept of privacy when using the Internet will basically be lost, if regulations set during the Obama Administration are tossed aside.

March 30: Trump threatens Congressional conservatives. According to The New York Times, Mr. Trump essentially threatened members of the Freedom Caucus, a far-right group in the House of Representatives. In one of his long string of Tweets, Trump asserted that the Caucus conservatives were “hurting” the agenda of the Republican party, and therefore must be fought in terms of the 2018 election.

March 30: Michael Flynn, the quickly-dismissed national security advisor, has agreed to testify about Russian interference in the U.S. election. The New York Times reports that Flynn was offering to testify, but only if he’s granted immunity. Congress soon said “no,” despite White House’s stated preference for immunity.

April 3: Trump prepares to meet Chinese leader at his Florida resort. Trump has shown preference for meeting foreign leaders at Mar-a-Lago resort, rather than privately at White House.

April 3: Senate Democrats contemplate filibuster against nomination of Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court. Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) warns that Republicans are ready to change Senate rules, so filibuster against Supreme Court appointees will not be allowed.

April 4: Susan Rice, national security advisor during Obama Administration, is charged with having revealed names of Trump aides heard “unintentionally” during legal surveillance of foreign agents, including Russians. Trump soon alleges that Ms. Rice committed a crime, leaking names for political purposes. (The New York Times)

April 5: Chief Trump strategist Stephen Bannon is removed from major role on principals committee of White House Security Council.

April 6: President Trump orders missiles to be fired at Syrian airfield, in retaliation for horrific nerve gas attack against civilians earlier in the week. Trump earns positive response from most world leaders, but not from Russia, which has backed Syria’s Assad regime.

April 7: After Republicans initiate “nuclear option” to ban Democratic filibustering, Neil Gorsuch is confirmed for the Supreme Court with 54 “Yes” votes.

April 15: In cities across the U.S., more than 100,000 protesters march to demand that Trump release his tax returns. Detailed coverage of Chicago's Tax Day protest. Responding to protests, President Trump calls for investigation of participating organizations, and states that he will not release any tax information.

April 16: Vice-president Pence visits Korea's Demilitarized Zone, issuing tough statements to North Korea. In U.S., Mr. Trump warns that North Korean leader has "gotta behave."

April 17: North Korean official warns that U.S. "recklessness" could lead to thermonuclear war.

April 20: Trump administration reveals another health care plan. Some elements sound like modifications of Obamacare, including coverage for persons with pre-existing conditions. But states would have the option of omitting portions of the plan, causing some critics to declare it even more “cruel” than the Republicans’ previous proposal, which was withdrawn from Congressional consideration after only 17 percent of surveyed Americans approved of it.

April 29: Climate-change protests take place nationwide, to oppose relaxation of environmental regulations put into place by President Obama. President Trump’s cabinet contains a number of climate-change deniers and skeptics, including head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

May 1: During May Day protests worldwide; violent incidents erupt in several countries. May 1 used to be Workers’ Day, celebrating the world’s working class. This year in the U.S., protesters target tightening of immigration and growth in deportation, repeal of President Obama’s affordable health care program, tax giveaways to the rich, and other proposals and actions emanating from the Trump administration.

May 1: Trump disses Face the Nation journalist John Dickerson, halting interview in Oval Office after question asked about alleged wiretapping of Trump Tower. Before walking off, Trump tells Dickerson he “loves” the show, which he calls “Deface the Nation.”

May 2: Congress approves additional $120 million allotment to protect the Trump family. That includes two sons of Donald Trump, who travel frequently on Trump business,.

May 3: Passage of latest health care bill looks doubtful, as moderate Republicans indicate intent to vote “No.” In response, $8 billion is added to the size of the bill, to alleviate concerns about inability of persons with pre-existing conditions to obtain health coverage.

May 3: In Budget proposal to prevent government shutdown, Democrats are pleased but Trump is not. Trump threatens more dramatic government shutdown in fall, when current fiscal years ends.

May 3:FBI Director James Comey says he is “mildly nauseous” over the possibility that his actions might have influenced the 2016 election.

May 4: U.S. House votes on third Republican health care bill, which barely passes, by a vote of 217 to 213. Bill now goes to Senate, where it’s not expected to pass in anything close to its current form. Some Senators have predicted that they might even start from scratch, using the House bill as little more than a group of suggestions. Critics charge that the new Trumpcare bill would do more harm to ordinary people and families than the previous one, which earned a 17-percent favorable score from the public and failed to pass the House.

May 9-10: Trump fires FBI Director James Comey. Days after testifying to Congress about the letter he made available prior to the November 8 election, regarding Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server, President Trump fires James Comey. In termination letter, Trump states that Comey had told the President on three occasions that he was not under investigation, but Comey had publicly called for forther investigation. Critics recall President Nixon's 1973 firing of the special prosecutor during Watergate investigation. (The New York Times)

May 10: One day after firing James Comey, President Trump meets Russian ambassador and foreign minister in White House, in a meeting that's closed to reporters. Russia provides photos of the meeting to news outlets.

May 11: In TV interview, President Trump claims to have intended to fire Comey for weeks, contradicting FBI statement. Democratic and some Republican critics label the situation serious - possibly even a "Constitutional crisis." Many assert that Trump's action is really an attempt to stifle ongoing investigation of Russian intervention in November election.

May 15: Washington Post and other news sources report that Trump revealed classified material to the Russians during their White House meeting. Trump administration denies the allegation.

May 17: Justice Department appoints Robert Mueller III as special counsel for the investigation of possible Russian meddling in the American presidential election.

May 17: While delivering Commencement Address to graduates of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, President Trump attacks the media. "No politician in history," he asserts, "has been treated worse or more unfairly.

May 18: In an early-morning Tweet, Mr. Trump "lashes out" at the appointment of a special counsel for the Russian-influence question, according to The New York Times. He also calls the investigation a ?witch hunt," while claiming (with no evidence) that former President Obama and the Hillary Clinton campaign committed "illegal acts," but no special counsel was appointed to investigate them.

May 22: Trump budget boosts military spending and slashes taxes, while making “severe cuts to Medcaid, nutritional assistance, welfare and disability programs,” according to The New York Times. The proposed budget also provides $1.6 billion for the Mexican border wall, and another $2.6 billion for border security.

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Text and photos by James M. Flammang
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