After a number of court battles and countless disrupted lives, Trump has finally come out with a revised travel and immigration ban. What’s going on? A new executive order has been signed which changes and replaces the existing travel and immigration ban which Trump signed shortly after taking office. The new version leaves existing visas intact and removes Iraqi nationals from its purview, meaning Iraqis are subject to same travel and immigration rules as people from any other country outside of the six still affected.
Today in “fake news from the Trump administration.” Yesterday, Trump claimed that the Obama administration tapped his phones during the election, presumably to gather information about him for the purposes of blackmail and other efforts to thwart his election bid. There is no evidence for this, of course. But that didn’t stop him from doubling down today, going as far as to have Press Secretary Sean Spicer release a statement demanding a Congressional investigation into whether President Obama abused his authority during the election.
Yup, time to review the sixth week of the Trump Presidency. Trump had two big speeches this week: one at CPAC (the largest conservative convention in the US), and one before a join session of Congress, filling the purpose a State of the Union speech would (but first-year Presidents don’t give a SotU). Trump did a good job with both, if by “good job” we mean “staying on script and not coming off like an Alex Jones call-in guest.
Trump wants to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by as much as 70% for some programs. This is an effort to gut the EPA as an effective regulatory body. What’s going on? It’s no secret that Trump’s administration represents a dangerous right-wing effort to disrupt, diminish, and destroy the functioning of the US government. With the release of Trump’s budget proposal for the EPA, we now have a very clear example of this agenda.
It seems that Trump administration officials just can’t avoid being implicated in improper contact with Russia. What gives? What’s going on? Newly-minted Attorney General Jeff Sessions said during his Senate confirmation hearings that he had no contact with Russian officials last year, when he was aiding the Trump campaign. Now, it turns out he met with the Russian ambassador twice last year. On the heels of the Flynn scandal, which was over a virtually identical issue, this looks especially bad.
Because he didn’t go on any bizarre tangents or spend 30 minutes ridiculing the media, reporting on Trump’s Tuesday night address to Congress has been almost flattering. But don’t buy it. Trump hasn’t changed at all. Anyone can read from a prepared script, and this one no doubt had a lot of hands on it, from Chief Advisor (and noted white supremacist) Steve Bannon to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka. Trump took credit for things he really has no control over, like the stock market’s meteoric rise since the election.
I just wanted to have that cheeky title. What’s going on? A new President doesn’t technically give a State of the Union address, but Trump will be delivering a speech tonight which is meant to be a progress report of his administration so far and his plans for the next few years. In the lead-up to this speech, he declared that he’d grade himself with an “A” so far but only a “C” for how well he’s communicated his greatness.
Trump is going to lay out his actual spending priorities, finally. Advance press indicates a huge spike in military spending, and cuts to just about everything else. What’s going on? Trump will soon propose his desired spending priorities to Congress. Included among them are a $54 increase for military spending, as if we need that, and most agencies, according to unnamed sources, will see cuts to domestic spending. Final spending decisions will be made by the Republican-led Congress, which may or may not follow Trump’s outline (but more likely will).
Just a couple quick things to point out today. First, the Huffington Post put out a list of 100 lies from the Trump administration. My personal top 10: 1. Lying about how big his inauguration crowd was. (He lied about this in various ways at many different times. It's a favorite topic of his.) 2. He only lost the popular vote because of "vote fraud." 3. The claim that he got the most electoral votes of any Republican since Reagan.
This past week wasn’t the complete trainwreck that has characterized Trump’s previous weeks in office. This is not a good sign. It was a notable week precisely because of how non-notable it was. Compared to his first month in office, last week was practically a breeze for Trump. No major scandals erupted. New executive orders and other actions came through which, while eliciting derision, weren’t blatantly illegal in conception or implementation.