Gage Skidmore/CC 2.0
Just when we thought he was being restrained, Trump pulls us back in with 15 unhinged tweets. Here's all the important news you may have missed last week.
This article was made possible because of the generous support of DAME members. We urgently need your help to keep publishing. Will you contribute just $5 a month to support our journalism?
The best thing that can be said about this week is that it could have been worse. Monday was the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and it was entirely reasonable to expect Trump’s tweet feed to turn into a veritable orgy of bloodlust. For whatever reason, that didn’t happen as expected, but there were plenty of other dumb tweets to go around.
Scratch that. It wasn’t a truly terrible week, Twitter-wise, but then we hit today, Sunday morning, where Trump went on a veritable orgy of retweeting his followers with their memes that are equal parts dumb and cruel. He retweeted someone with the handle @fuctupmind who created a gif of Trump hitting Clinton with a golf ball. Violence against women isn’t just a joke to Trump—it’s something he and his followers are deeply devoted to. He retweeted a ridiculous drawing of a train wearing a MAGA hat. He retweeted someone who actually thinks that Trump will win all 50 states in 2020. He retweeted a random tumblr lady who really really loves him. It’s pathetic, mean-spirited, and deeply disturbing.
OK, back to the week that was. Trump decided that the twin tragedies of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey signaled that what people really need are tax cuts and tax reform. Yes, the best way to respond to expensive natural disasters is to starve the government of money. Hillary’s book came out this week, which must absolutely infuriate Trump, as he took to Twitter to call her names and explain how she lost the debates. He explained that the wall is now not really a new wall, but a renovation of existing walls and fences, which has got to be sort of a letdown for his most vicious supporters.
In perfect Trump fashion, he waited days to call Mexico’s president after a horrific earthquake, hilariously claiming that he couldn’t reach him because of spotty cell service in Mexico post-disaster. Contrast that with the fact that he couldn’t wait to jump on Twitter after an attack on London’s subway system to condemn the attacker as a sick and demented loser terrorist and to reinforce his call for an even stronger travel ban.
In gifters gonna grift news, President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee still hasn’t donated any leftover funds from their $107 million raise which were promised to charity.
Enough about Trump. Let’s turn to all the other bad things in the week that weren’t done (directly, at least) by Trump.
It wouldn’t be fair to talk about Trumpian-style behavior this week without giving a special shoutout to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is becoming a mini-Trump in her own right. This week, she called for James Comey to be investigated by the Justice Department, which is a totally appropriate thing to demand about someone that was tasked with investigating your boss until your boss fired him. She also called for ESPN’s Jemele Hill, who called Trump a white supremacist, to be fired, because that is also a totally appropriate thing to do. Not to be outdone, Trump had to weigh in and just stone cold lie about how people were unsubscribing from ESPN in droves over this. Have you ever tried to actually quit just one portion of your cable subscription? It isn’t possible.
The White House made clear it doesn’t believe it has to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests about the Mar-a-Lago visitor logs, because it thinks presidential schedule information isn’t public. How dare the American people have a right to know what their president is doing? After dragging their feet on responding, the White House released only 22 names of people that accompanied the Japanese Prime Minister on a visit back in February. Everything else remains secret. Truly we are nation of men, not laws, at this point.
Trump’s new ethics watchdog, who really isn’t much of a watchdog at all, said this week that anonymous lobbyists can donate to Trump staffers who face legal action because at this point probably each and every one of them is under investigation.
Speaking of ethics problems, it came to light this week that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a man who is worth 9 figures, tried to get the government to provide him with a military, government-funded, incredibly expensive jet to fly to Europe for his honeymoon. His explanation was that he needed a completely secure communications mode, which is actually not a thing for the treasury secretary, instead being reserved for government officials like the Secretary of State that actually deal with critical matters of national security.
It isn’t just Trump’s cabinet appointees who are kings of grift. Remember how Trump said that, after raising a staggering amount of money for his inauguration celebrations, he would donate the remainder to charity? Yeah, about that. Nothing has been donated yet, in large part because they are confused about how much money remains. The most hilarious part of this story? The fact that it cost Trump a cool $25 million to get fourth-string stars like Toby Keith and Three Doors Down to play at his inauguration, whereas Obama got people like Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, and Stevie Wonder for about ⅕ of that.
We could really do an entire Attorney General Jeff Sessions roundup each week, given the diligence with which Sessions endeavors to be hideous. Even though Trump absolutely humiliated him after the Mueller appointment, Sessions is so eager to harm people of color that he’s willing to stick it out. This week, the DOJ killed a program that had been instituted under Obama where the DOJ investigated police departments and issued public reports about their shortcomings. This DOJ never met a police department it didn’t like. Sessions did suffer a blow this week as a judge enjoined Sessions from enforcing his anti-sanctuary city policy, where he would withhold federal law enforcement money from any city that refuses to turn over names to ICE.
The EPA continued destroying the regulatory state (and, ultimately, will destroy the environment) because coal companies really really want them to. This week, they delayed implementing a rule that would set a limit on how much toxic water coal-fired power plants could emit. The rule was set to go into effect in late 2018, but now is bumped to 2020. Thank the EPA for the fact that your water will continue to contain arsenic, mercury, and lead, but at least coal companies will be happy.
Remember Trump’s election integrity aka voter suppression commission? They’ve been busy. First, co-chair Kris Kobach claimed that New Hampshire was rife with voter fraud during the election because approximately 5,000 voters who voted without an in-state driver’s license (which is totally legal in New Hampshire) did not eventually apply for a New Hampshire driver’s license. However, as Politifact points out, it is also totally legal to live in, and vote, in New Hampshire without ever trying to be a resident, so you’d never get a state driver’s license. The suppression commission is also kicking around a proposal to make people undergo a background check prior to voting in order to make sure they’re not a felon or an undocumented immigrant. Prior to the current Supreme Court, we might have mocked this as something that would get slapped down, but given that Chief Justice John Roberts isn’t super-into voting rights, we can’t be that confident. Finally, it came to light recently that commission members are using private emails to conduct government business, which is not legal, and flies in the face of Trump supporters’ deep concern over Hillary Clinton’s email practices.
Continuing a lockdown on the free flow of government information, employees at the Centers for Disease Control were informed that they aren’t allowed to speak directly to the press any longer. Instead, even for basic data requests, everything has to go through the CDC’s communications office. Combine this with the fact that both the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are currently stonewalling reporters who cover health issues, and you basically have a blackout on health info right now.
In case you thought that we’d go a week without finding out there’s even more corruption involving the usual suspects-Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, and Jared Kushner, this week is not that week. All of them seemed to forget that they had a secret meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah while Flynn was pushing for a multi-million dollar for-profit nuclear deal. (Never forget that Kushner has had to add at least 100 names to his security disclosure forms. How do you forget 100 names? How is it ok to forget 100 names?)
Russia was in the news again too, as Facebook revealed it had sold 100K of ads to a Russian “troll farm.” They’ve provided Special Counsel Robert Mueller with information on the ad buys and more because apparently Facebook and other social media is a focus of Mueller’s investigation.
Important government information throttled calls to prosecute people who investigate you, refusing to explain who you meet with and why petty grift galore…our banana republic is going to be so great.
Until next week.
Before you go, we hope you’ll consider supporting DAME’s journalism.
Today, just tiny number of corporations and billionaire owners are in control the news we watch and read. That influence shapes our culture and our understanding of the world. But at DAME, we serve as a counterbalance by doing things differently. We’re reader funded, which means our only agenda is to serve our readers. No both sides, no false equivalencies, no billionaire interests. Just our mission to publish the information and reporting that help you navigate the most complex issues we face.
But to keep publishing, stay independent and paywall free for all, we urgently need more support. During our Spring Membership drive, we hope you’ll join the community helping to build a more equitable media landscape with a monthly membership of just $5.00 per month or one-time gift in any amount.