Trump’s obsession with himself

Another leak, this time of transcripts of President Trumps conversations with Australian and Mexican leaders early this year, have shown again how obsessed with himself and his image that Trump is.

He said “I am the world’s greatest person” to Malcolm Turnbull in January.

And recent reports show how he seems to have trouble understanding the difference between leading a company, where the boss can dictate what he likes, compared to the complexities of the US system of government.

Reuters:  Trump, frustrated by Afghan war, suggests firing U.S. commander: officials

During a July 19 meeting in the White House Situation Room, Trump demanded that his top national security aides provide more information on what one official called “the end-state” in a country where the United States has spent 16 years fighting against the Taliban with no end in sight.

The meeting grew stormy when Trump said Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford, a Marine general, should consider firing Army General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, for not winning the war.

“We aren’t winning,” he told them, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Some officials left the meeting “stunned” by the president’s vehement complaints that the military was allowing the United States to lose the war.

Trump seems to have a habit of firing if he isn’t ‘winning’.

CNN: Trump’s Russia statement proves he doesn’t understand separation of powers

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed the Russia sanctions bill that the Republican-led Congress had approved overwhelmingly. But he made sure everyone knew he wasn’t happy about it — and in so doing revealed, again, that he has either little understanding of or little care for the separation of powers built into the US government.

What makes Trump’s derision of the division of power between the executive, legislative and judicial branches different is both how brazen he is about it and how many times he has expressed sentiments in his first six-plus months in office that suggest he simply doesn’t understand the fact that everyone in the government doesn’t work for him.

And the latest leaks from Washington Post: The Post’s latest bombshell 

Produced by White House staff, the documents provide an unfiltered glimpse of Trump’s approach to the diplomatic aspect of his job, subjecting even a close neighbor and long-standing ally to streams of threats and invective as if aimed at U.S. adversaries.

With Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull:

The Jan. 28 call with Turnbull became particularly acrimonious. “I have had it,” Trump erupted after the two argued about an agreement on refugees. “I have been making these calls all day, and this is the most unpleasant call all day.”

Before ending the call, Trump noted that at least one of his conversations that day had gone far more smoothly. “Putin was a pleasant call,” Trump said, referring to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. “This is ridiculous.” … “This is going to kill me,” he said to Turnbull. “I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people.”

With Mexican President Peña Nieto:

“On the wall, you and I both have a political problem,” Trump said. “My people stand up and say, ‘Mexico will pay for the wall,’ and your people probably say something in a similar but slightly different language.”

Trump seemed to acknowledge that his threats to make Mexico pay had left him cornered politically. “I have to have Mexico pay for the wall — I have to,” he said. “I have been talking about it for a two-year period.” …

Peña Nieto resisted, saying that Trump’s repeated threats had placed “a very big mark on our back, Mr. President.” He warned that “my position has been and will continue to be very firm, saying that Mexico cannot pay for the wall.”

Trump objected: “But you cannot say that to the press. The press is going to go with that, and I cannot live with that.”

Jennifer Rubin at WaPo: Why the leaked presidential transcripts are so frightening

It is shocking to see presidential conversations released in this way. Some in the executive branch, as Anthony Scaramucci aptly put it, are intent on protecting the country from Trump. This is a good thing, by the way. White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly has obviously failed to plug the flood leaks.

These transcripts may have been leaked before Kelly took over.

Trump is frighteningly obsessed with himself and his image to such an extent that he cannot fulfill the role of commander in chief. He cannot frame logical arguments based on public policy, and therefore comes across as, well, a fool to foreign leaders.

His desire to maintain his own image suggests he’d be more than willing to make the country’s interests subordinate to his own need for personal affirmations.

Trump’s narcissism leaves him open to flattery and threats (to reveal embarrassing material, for example). That’s the worry in the Russia investigation — namely, that Vladimir Putin has “something” on Trump, which compels Trump to act in ways inimical to U.S. interests.

Trump’s interests are paramount, so a cagey adversary can easily manipulate him.

There is no easy solution.

One cannot be impeached and removed for being an embarrassment to the United States or an egomaniac temperamentally unfit for the job (that was the argument for not electing him). Unless he really goes off the deep end, invoking the 25th Amendment is not a realistic option.

That leaves members of Congress and his administration with a few options.

And Trump keeps blaming everyone else. He recently tweeted:

But he can’t fire Congress, nor the Senate. He is stuck with the political and judicial system that the US has got. And the US is probably stuck with him until he throws a major hissy fit for not getting his own way and chucks the job in.

In the meantime it is likely that Russia, China, North Korea, and much of the Middle East will be trying to work out how they can exploit Trump’s ego.

With the amount of fire power available to lash out with this has to be a major concern.

One slightly reassuring thing – Trump seems to be relying more on generals to run his administration. They may be the best chance of keeping his flaws in check.

Trump’s stable approval rating

Since mid May Donald Trump’s approval rating has remained fairly stable around 40%. (His disapproval rating has also been fairly flat between 54-56%).

RCPTrumpAapproval2Aug17

His presidency seems to have been far from stable punctuated by significant events and actions, so why is his approval not changing much?

Analysis at RCP:  Five Theories on Trump’s Stable Approval Rating

So why are these numbers so stable when events are anything but? The world of political data has been busy debating this topic, so rather than simply lay out one view and argue for it, I’m going to describe five different views that have popped up.

Theory 1: The GOP Base and Strong Democrats Are Immovable Objects

The situation is simple: Trump has a high approval rating among the GOP base and low approval ratings among the Democratic base, and unless there are truly exceptional circumstances, neither group will change their mind.

In other words, Trump’s 40 percent approval rating might represent something close to his floor. On Election Day 2016, 37.5 percent of voters viewed candidate Trump favorably, yet he won 46 percent of the vote.

Since then, Trump may have lost some of those general election voters by pushing an unpopular health-care bill (or through some other actions they disapproved of), but this 40 percent approval rating represents party stalwarts sticking with him.

Trump’s brash manner, his habit of repeating falsities, his obsession with tweeting, and his ego were all well known when he became president.  He hasn’t changed apart from his expectation that he be adored and obeyed so there may be no strong reason for his core support to be disappointed.

Theory 2: Nothing “New” Is Happening

This might seem like a strange argument. News junkies remember James Comey’s testimony before Congress, Donald Trump Jr.’s emails, the ups and downs of the Senate’s efforts to repeal Obamacare and the whole host of related breaking news stories over the past few months.

But it appears that this information isn’t moving voter preference much.

If this theory is correct, we should expect Trump’s approval rating to change only if truly new events or information are introduced to the electorate. If the economy suddenly boomed or tanked, if Trump decided to push a popular infrastructure bill instead of a relatively unpopular health care bill, if the situation in North Korea escalated and Trump had to respond to it — basically if the national political conversation changes in a meaningful way — Trump’s support might change.

His approval was also down at 40% in April but rose when he visited the Middle East and Europe, then settled back down after a few weeks. Nothing much of importance for the country happening.

Theory 3: It’s the Domestic Policy, Stupid

It’s also possible that Americans don’t really care about Russia and that Trump’s approval rating is simply a result of the public’s mixed opinion on his domestic record.

The RealClearPolitics average shows that Trump has a 44.7 percent approval rating on economic issues, which isn’t so far off the 46 percent he won in the 2016 popular vote. Yet Americans are currently focused on health care. A July Bloomberg poll showed that 35 percentof respondents (a plurality) said that health care was the most important issue facing the country. And although it’s tough to compare polling results that differ the wording of the question, most polls show that the current GOP bill is unpopular.

This adds up to a dynamic where a decent economy is trying to pull up Trump’s job approval numbers, but his policy focus is pulling those numbers down.

That being said, Theory 3 does paint a very different portrait of voters and their concerns than Theory 2 does. Under this version, news about Russia doesn’t matter too much.

But it seems to matter a lot to Trump, he has helped keep it in the spotlight. He seems easily distracted from the things that matter most, or should matter most.

Theory 4: This Is the New Normal

It’s possible that there isn’t much to explain about Trump’s 40 percent approval rating. Someone could argue that this low, stable rating is almost unavoidable in our current political moment.

To see how this argument would work, imagine that Hillary Clinton had swung enough voters away from Trump in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to become president. She would have come into the office with a low favorability rating and likely wouldn’t have had much of a honeymoon period. She might accomplish some of her goals via executive action, but it would to be hard to get her policy priorities through a Republican-held Congress. Others have examined this possibility more thoroughly, but the point is that in some alternate universe there are other presidents who would also have a low approval rating.

It’s quite likely Hillary Clinton as president would have had consistently poor approval ratings too.

A President Rubio or a President Biden might take some similar actions to Trump or Clinton, respectively, yet have better approval ratings due to sheer likability.

A President Biden or Sanders would have had to battle against Republican majorities in the Senate and in Congress.

Would a President Jeb Bush have been more popular than Trump? We can only wonder.

Theory 5: We Don’t Know What’s Going On

This might sound like a cop-out, but it’s important to acknowledge the possibility that none of our other theories is right.

So it’s possible that we simply don’t yet know why Trump’s approval is low and consistent.

The reality is that it is likely to be some combination of all of these things and there are probably other reasons too.

Leadership approval requires tangible signs of leadership, and Trump hasn’t really done much of that yet.

He has had trouble leading his White House, and he has had difficulty getting the Senate and Congress to follow his lead, or do what he demands.

A solid core remain dedicated and hopeful he will achieve big things, and seem prepared to wait for him to figure out what leading a country actually means and involves.

The Oaf in the Oval Office

What sort of game changer will it take to sort out the Oaf in the Oval Office?

It has been an eventful week in US politics. The inability of Donald Trump and Republicans to progress major legislation was highlighted by the failure of a watered down (‘skinny’) health repeal bill failing to overturn ‘Obamacare’.

WSJ:  The Republican ObamaCare Crack Up

After promising Americans for seven years that it would fix the Affordable Care Act, the Republican Party failed. This is a historic debacle that will echo politically for years.

A divided GOP Senate could not muster a majority even for a simple bill repealing the individual and employer mandates they had long opposed. Nor were they able to repeal the medical-device tax that some 70 Senators had gone on record wanting to repeal in previous Congresses.

The so-called skinny bill that failed in the Senate would have gone to a conference with the House, which had signaled its willingness to work out a compromise. That arduous process is the way the American legislative system works. A strong majority of the GOP caucuses on both chambers supported the effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare, but that was undone by an intransigent and petulant minority

The sacking of Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus was done in a public and ugly way, but it may do something to sort out the chaos in the White House. May. Trump seems to be a significant cause of the chaos and may not be controllable.

Trump had campaigned he would ‘drain the swamp’, an attack on the mess that Washington politics has become and something that was a popular aim. If he cleaned up US politics he would deserve a lot of credit. But the jury is still not even out yet to decide whether trump is making Washington murkier, with his apparent inability to separate business interests from politics.

Trump’s declaration by tweet that transgender people would no longer be allowed to serve in the US military seems to have been a decision on personal whim that blindsided just about everyone, including the military and his own staff.

I think of greater concern is Trump’s concerted effort over a week to publicly undermine his attorney general Jeff Sessions.The legal balance and checking of political power and abuse of power is a fundamental cornerstone of US democracy. Trump seems to be prepared to drain judicial independence, which is alarming.

Andrew Sullivan sums up A Week of Reckoning

We have become, at this point, inured to having an irrational president in an increasingly post-rational America. We’ve also come to tell ourselves that somehow

(a) this isn’t really happening,

(b) by some miracle, it will be over soon, or

(c) at some point the Republican Party will have to acknowledge what they are abetting, and cut their losses.

And yet with each particular breach of decency, stability, and constitutionality, no breaking point seems to have arrived, even as the tribalism has deepened, the president’s madness has metastasized, and the norms of liberal democracy are hanging on by a thread.

But surely this week must mark some kind of moment in this vertiginous descent, some point at which the manifest unfitness of this president to continue in office becomes impossible to deny.

Compare it with any other week in modern political history. Day after day, the president has publicly savaged his own attorney general for doing the only thing possible with an investigation into a political campaign he was a key part of: recusing himself. And the point of the president’s fulminations was that the recusal prevented Sessions from obstructing that very investigation.

The president, in other words, has been openly attacking his own attorney general for not subverting the rule of law.

After the last few days, someone in the GOP leadership somewhere is surely going to have to take responsibility for running this country since we have a president who cannot.

Sullivan sees some hope that the system will hold out on a reckless president.

The Congress as a whole has effectively torpedoed any intention the president might have of lifting sanctions against Russia, by passing a bill by massive margins to prevent it.

And on the related matter of the investigation into Russian interference in the last election, Senator Chuck Grassley made it clear this week that, if the president were to fire Sessions, his Judiciary Committee would not hold any hearings on a successor.

That’s a checkmate for Trump for the time being, because it would leave the Justice Department under the control of Rod Rosenstein, who hired Robert Mueller in the first place. Put all these developments together and you have an inkling of how the Constitution can still protect us from the worst of this presidency — if the Senate wants to play the role it is designed to play.

Shunting Sessions sideways would look as bad as firing him.

Finding someone willing to replace him given Trump’s public displeasure at not being able to subvert justice may not be easy, especially if it is not a candidate who is widely considered to be credible and able to be act independently of the White House.

As new chief of staff John Kelly may be able to sort out most of the White House, but it must be doubtful he can straighten out the crucial part – the Oval Office, more particularly the Oaf in Office.

Witless House – Priebus mooched and trumped

Chaos at the White House continues.

Yesterday an interview with new communications chief Anthony Scaramucci whistled around the world, in which he abused Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

Now it seems that Priebus is being dumped.

Peggy Noonan summarises the Scaramucci  diatribe in Trump Is Woody Allen Without the Humor

The new communications chief, Anthony Scaramucci, who in his debut came across as affable and in control of himself, went on CNN Thursday to show he’ll fit right in. He’s surrounded by “nefarious, backstabbing” leakers. “The fish stinks from the head down. But I can tell you two fish that don’t stink, and that’s me and the president.” He’s strong and well connected: “I’ve got buddies of mine in the FBI”; “ Sean Hannity is one of my closest friends.” He is constantly with the president, at dinner, on the phone, in the sauna snapping towels. I made that up.

“The president and I would like to tell everybody we have a very, very good idea of who the leakers are.” Chief of Staff Reince Priebus better watch it. There are people in the White House who “think it is their job to save America from this president, okay?” So they leak. But we know who they are.

He seemed to think this diarrheic diatribe was professional, the kind of thing the big boys do with their media bros. But he came across as just another drama queen for this warring, riven, incontinent White House. As Scaramucci spoke, the historian Joshua Zeitz observed wonderingly, on Twitter: “It’s Team of Rivals but for morons.”

It is. And it stinks from the top.

Fox News: Scaramucci-Priebus feud: Who will survive White House war?

Anthony Scaramucci’s shocking, on-the-record tirade has blown the cover off long-simmering tensions between two of President Trump’s key men, prompting one White House worker to express safety concerns and triggering a countdown to the exit of either Scaramucci or his target, Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

Scaramucci, the newly minted White House communications director, set off a firestorm with a rambling rant loaded with expletives and threats that The New Yorker published. The coarse language directed at Priebus and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, as well as blanket threats to fire people, left some inside the White House shaken.

“This is getting out of hand,” a White House staffer told Fox News. “I am honestly concerned for my safety in the office tomorrow. This type of behavior is unbelievable. Working in the White House, and something like that is said … it’s a disgrace.”

Former Republican National Committee boss Priebus was left seemingly even more isolated in the aftermath. Scaramucci all but accused Priebus of media leaks, a recurring problem that has vexed the Trump administration.

Other RNC colleagues brought into the administration have been nudged out of the West Wing, and Scaramucci’s hiring came with the rider that he reports directly to Trump – not Priebus.

Despite absorbing a brutal attack, Priebus received no outward signs of support. As of Friday morning, Trump had not weighed in on the mushrooming controversy. The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., backed Scaramucci.

Scaramucci appears to have been employed as a hit man. Trump has now weighed in, heavily.

Details from NY Times: Reince Priebus Pushed Out After Rocky Tenure as Trump Chief of Staff

Reince Priebus, the establishment Republican-turned-loyalist to President Trump who served as his White House chief of staff for the last six months, was pushed out on Friday in the latest convulsion in a chaos-wracked West Wing to which he had repeatedly failed to bring some semblance of order.

Convinced that Mr. Priebus was not strong enough, Mr. Trump has been talking about bringing in “a general” as chief of staff and chose John F. Kelly, the retired Marine four-star general serving as secretary of homeland security.

Priebus had not been able to control the White House but I don’t think he was the biggest problem.

The story is still unfolding:

Some of Scarmuzzi’s tirade yesterday:

“They’ll all be fired by me. I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus—if you want to leak something—he’ll be asked to resign very shortly.” The issue, he said, was that he believed Priebus had been worried about the dinner because he hadn’t been invited. “Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac.”

He reiterated that Priebus would resign soon, and he noted that he told Trump that he expected Priebus to launch a campaign against him. “He didn’t get the hint that I was reporting directly to the President,” he said. “And I said to the President here are the four or five things that he will do to me.” His list of allegations included leaking the Hannity dinner and the details from his financial-disclosure form.

“O.K., the Mooch showed up a week ago. This is going to get cleaned up very shortly, O.K.? Because I nailed these guys. I’ve got digital fingerprints on everything they’ve done through the F.B.I. and the fucking Department of Justice.”

http://www.newyorker.com/news/ryan-lizza/anthony-scaramucci-called-me-to-unload-about-white-house-leakers-reince-priebus-and-steve-bannon

Woody Allen without the humour

This is fairly scathing from Peggy Noonan at Wall Street Journal:

Trump Is Woody Allen Without the Humor

The president’s primary problem as a leader is not that he is impetuous, brash or naive. It’s not that he is inexperienced, crude, an outsider. It is that he is weak and sniveling. It is that he undermines himself almost daily by ignoring traditional norms and forms of American masculinity.

He’s not strong and self-controlled, not cool and tough, not low-key and determined; he’s whiny, weepy and self-pitying. He throws himself, sobbing, on the body politic. He’s a drama queen.

It was once said, sarcastically, of George H.W. Bush that he reminded everyone of her first husband. Trump must remind people of their first wife.

Actually his wife, Melania, is tougher than he is with her stoicism and grace, her self-discipline and desire to show the world respect by presenting herself with dignity.

Half the president’s tweets show utter weakness. They are plaintive, shrill little cries, usually just after dawn.

Noonan can probably expect a near dawn attack by Twitter after this.

It’s all whimpering accusation and finger-pointing: Nobody’s nice to me. Why don’t they appreciate me?

His inability—not his refusal, but his inability—to embrace the public and rhetorical role of the presidency consistently and constructively is weak.

This is brutal but I think it is brutally perceptive.

Meanwhile the whole world is watching, a world that contains predators. How could they not be seeing this weakness, confusion and chaos and thinking it’s a good time to cause some trouble?

And that is a major concern, for the US and for the world.

If a country perceives weakness and takes an opportunity to take advantage of the US chaos to predate on another country then the chaos could spread.

It has already happened to an extent to Qatar, with other Middle East countries, under cover of Trump’s tacit support, dumping on them.

The biggest threat is that exploiting Trump’s weakness may push him into trying to assert some power, via the nuclear button.

Trump frequently goes nuclear on Twitter, attacking people who annoy him or won’t do what he wants. But to the world his twitty tweets are a harmless joke.  He is becoming a laughing stock, and by association the US is at risk of being dragged down with him.

A weak bully with a big button is a big risk.

There’s nothing we can do from here but watch with amusement, bemusement and concern, and hope that there are people with strength of character who will stand up to Trump when it really matters.

 

 

Holocaust by tweet?

The US Pacific Fleet Commander said he would launch a nuclear strike against China next week if President Donald Trump ordered it, and warned against the military ever shifting its allegiance from its commander in chief.

Admiral Scott Swift was responding to a hypothetical question at an Australian National University security conference following a major joint US- Australian military exercise off the Australian coast.

The drills were monitored by a Chinese intelligence-gathering ship off northeast Australia.

Asked by an academic in the audience whether he would make a nuclear attack on China next week if Trump ordered it, Swift replied: “The answer would be: yes.”

“Every member of the US military has sworn an oath to defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic and to obey the officers and the president of the United States as commander and chief appointed over us,” Swift said.

“This is core to the American democracy and any time you have a military that is moving away from a focus and an allegiance to civilian control, then we really have a significant problem,” he added.

Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. Charlie Brown later said Swift’s answer reaffirmed the principle of civilian control over the military.

“The admiral was not addressing the premise of the question, he was addressing the principle of civilian authority of the military,” Brown said. “The premise of the question was ridiculous.”

The premise of making military decisions by tweet may sound ridiculous but that seems to be how trump wants to run things. See Trump brain fart on transgender troops.

Trump brain fart on transgender troops

Donald Trump seems to have had a major brain fart (even by his standard of cerebral flatulence) in seeming to announce a total ban on transgender people serving “in any capacity” in the us military.

This seems to have blind sided the military, the Pentagon, Defense Secretary James Mattis who is on holiday, and the White House.

The tweets said:

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.

Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.

The Hill:  Trump triggers storm with transgender ban

President Trump announced Wednesday that he would end service by transgender people in the military, opening up a culture battle that caught much of Washington by surprise.

Trump made the announcement after House conservatives pushed the White House to curb Pentagon funding for transition-related medical care and indicated they may not support the spending bill currently on the floor over the issue.

But Trump went much further, and decisionmakers on Capitol Hill, including the Armed Services committees, were out of the loop.

Trump’s announcement, made in three morning posts on Twitter, also left more questions than answers — including whether the 250 openly transgender troops and thousands more who remain private about their gender identity could face immediate discharge.

The announcement came while Defense Secretary James Mattis is on vacation for the week.

The Pentagon, in a three-sentence statement, referred all questions to the White House and said more guidance would be given in the “near future.”

The White House press briefing on Wednesday did little to clear up confusion.

“I really don’t have anything else to add on that topic,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in evident frustration.

Estimates on the number of transgender troops vary widely. On the high end, LGBT advocates put it at 15,000. On the low end, a 2016 Rand Corporation study estimated there were 2,450 in active duty and 1,510 in the reserves.

About 250 troops have officially come out as transgender since the ban was lifted.

Asked whether currently serving transgender troops, including those now deployed to war zones, would be discharged, Sanders could not answer.

“The implementation policy is going to be something that the White House and the Department of Defense have to work together to lawfully determine, and I would imagine the Department of Defense will be the lead on that and keep you posted as that takes place,” she said.

Asked why such a decision was not made before announcing the new policy, Sanders said Trump did not feel the need to wait after making up his mind. Trump made the decision Tuesday, she said, and informed Mattis that day.

“I think sometimes you have to make decisions, and once he made a decision, he didn’t feel it was necessary to hold that decision and they’re going to work together with the Department of Defense to lawfully implement it,” she said.

There has been widespread surprise and astonishment.

This looks like a spur of the moment brain fart by Trump, with no thought of the implications or implementation.

Once he has purged the military of transgender people who next? Clinton supporters? Fake soldiers?

This is likely to encounter significant opposition.

Fake president doesn’t think he’s lying

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, has said that Trump doesn’t think he’s lying. This may well be correct, Trump may believe everything he says – but it doesn’t make his  repeated claims true.

ConwayStelton.jpg

CNN: Kellyanne Conway offers alternative fact to explain why Trump isn’t lying

Here’s an exchange on Sunday between CNN “Reliable Sources” anchor Brian Stelterand counselor to President Donald Trump Kellyanne Conway:

STELTER: “The scandals are about the President’s lies. About voter fraud, about wiretapping, his repeated lies about those issues. That’s the scandal.”

CONWAY: “[Donald Trump] doesn’t think he’s lying about those issues, and you know it.”

On voter fraud…

… Trump has repeatedly insisted that widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election led to 3 to 5 million illegal votes being cast. Those votes for Hillary Clinton are the sole reason she won the popular vote, he argues.

“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” Trump tweeted on November 27, 2016 — 19 days after he won the presidency.

 

According to the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, there were only four verified incidents of voter fraud in the 2016 election as of December. That accounts for 0.000002% of all ballots cast in the race.

Beyond just the 2016 election, there has never been a serious study of elections that suggests any widespread voter fraud. Not one. Let’s repeat that: There has never been a serious study of elections that suggests any widespread voter fraud.

Trump’s allegation that former President Barack Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower during the presidential campaign:

That comes from this tweet sent at 6:35 a.m. ET on March 4: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

Trump — and his administration — offered zero proof for this claim. James Clapper, who was Director of National Intelligence during the 2016 election, said, unequivocally, that it did not happen. “I have no information that supports those tweets,” former FBI Director James Comey told a congressional committee under oath in May.

Trump has no revised or reversed claims when it has been shown that they are untrue.

What Trump is doing is lying. He may believe it. But that doesn’t matter at all.

Kellyanne Conway knows that. Which makes her attempt to explain away lies the President keeps repeating all the more ridiculous.

It is ridiculous, but this sort of thing from Trump and is acolytes has seriously impact on Trump and White House credibility.

And that is contributing to a lack of progress.

Politico:  GOP despairs at inability to deliver

The Republican Party is more powerful than it’s been in more than a decade — and yet it has never seemed so weak.

Continuing chaos in the White House has been punctuated by the failure to deliver on the GOP’s seven-year pledge to overhaul Obamacare, and has many asking whether the party can capitalize on the sweeping victories it has achieved at the federal, state, and local levels.

Ahead of this week’s crucial Senate vote on health care, White House aides are already considering how to distance President Donald Trump from Congress and how to go after the Republicans who vote no — an idea the president seems fond of, according to people who have spoken to him. Several people said he plans to keep up the fight, no matter how this week’s vote goes.

He threatened Republicans on Twitter Sunday, saying they would face electoral consequences, and complained about his party not defending him — even though congressional Republicans are tired of defending him all the time.

“It’s very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, those close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell say they are frustrated that the president has shown little focus on his political agenda, particularly health care. Trump’s interview with the New York Times this week, for example, where he raged about Attorney General Jeff Sessions instead of promoting health care, was “political malpractice,” one senior GOP aide said.

With control of both Congress and the White House — and yet no major legislative successes to point to — the Republican Party is finding itself stuck. A GOP Congress is frustrated with the president, and is unsure what will happen next in his daily West Wing drama.

The president expanded the power of the political neophytes in his administration, elevating the Manhattan hedge fund manager Anthony Scaramucci to White House communications director, at the cost of an operative – press secretary Sean Spicer, who announced his resignation on Friday — with years of Washington experience.

Spicer was not the only establishment casualty. Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff who, at least in title holds one of the most powerful jobs in Washington, has been largely sidelined.

The hire of Scaramucci as communications director was the biggest shot yet at Priebus, White House officials say, because he was opposed by Priebus, will report directly to Trump, and will be far more powerful than a normal communications director.

Let “the president be the president” is how Scaramucci described his new job in a Fox News interview on Sunday.

Even Trump supporters are beginning to express frustration with the constant chaos in the West Wing. “There are a lot of missed opportunities,” said Julius Krein, who founded the pro-Trump journal American Affairs in February in an effort to give the Trump movement some intellectual heft. “It has all degenerated into D.C. tempests and teapots,” Krein said, characterizing policies championed by the administration in the first six months as “mediocre conventional Republicanism with a lot more noise.”

While Trump has specialized in delivering self-inflicted blows, the Senate Republican conference is demonstrating that it, too, is capable of administering them.

With the Republicans in the strongest political position they have been in for some time, and the Democrats in disarray,  the opportunity was there for the incoming president to make bold changes.

But Trump won and took over with a lot of Republican politicians less than enthralled. He seems to have failed to get them on his side.

Trump seems to be continually distracted with petty point scoring and fighting personal grudges and battling the ‘fake news’ with a fair amount of fakery of his own.

Believing his own bullshit doesn’t make him credible, nor powerful.

If this continues ‘fake president’ may stick.

 

The lame tweet president

How do you know when President trump has  arrived? The whining continues after the engines of Air Force One have shut down.

President Donald Trump seems to put a lot of effort into complaining about impediments to doing whatever he wants to do and criticisms of things he doesn’t want examined.

He gives the impression that he is owed unquestioning support, and doesn’t seem to think he needs to earn it.

It’s very said that he publicly complains so much.

Twitter was a successful weapon through his campaign, but it now seems to have lost it’s potency.

The more he resorts to tweeting ‘poor me’ complaints the lamer his presidency looks.

If he spent less time obsessing about media and spent more time doing his job he might manage to get a bit more done.

He might get media attention with his tweets still, but Congress and the Senate don’t seem to be swayed by his spraying one liners.

Russian ambassador spoked to Sessions about campaign

The Russian doesn’t like going away for Donald Trump and his administration.

Reuters: Russian envoy overheard saying he discussed campaign with Sessions

Russia’s ambassador to Washington was overheard by U.S. spy agencies telling his bosses that he had discussed campaign-related matters, including issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, the Washington Post reported on Friday, citing current and former U.S. officials.

A U.S. official confirmed to Reuters that Ambassador Sergei Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions, then a U.S. senator and key foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump, were intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was nothing automatically inappropriate about Sessions, then a U.S. senator as well as a Trump supporter, discussing policy matters or even Trump’s thinking about them with a foreign diplomat.

“The question is whether he crossed the line and discussed classified information or talked about deals like lifting sanctions if the Russians were interested in investing in the U.S. or had dirt on Secretary Clinton,” said a second official familiar with the intercepts, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity. “His memory is another matter.”

Sessions at first failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

As Attorney General, he recused himself in March from matters connected to an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and any connections to the Trump campaign following his admission that he had talked to the Russian envoy.

Sessions has denied discussing campaign issues with Russian officials and has said that he only met Kislyak in his role of U.S. senator.

The Post cited one U.S. official as saying that Sessions provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.”

The newspaper reported that a former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

A day or two ago:  Trump says he should not have picked Sessions as attorney general

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would not have appointed Jeff Sessions as attorney general if he had known Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation, according to a New York Times interview.

“Sessions should have never recused himself and if he was going to recuse himself he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” the Times quoted Trump as saying.

Not surprisingly this comment was strongly criticised. It is criticval the Attorney General be independent of the president, especially when investigating things related to the president. And when the Attorney General was also linked to aspects of any investigation they had no choice to recuse.