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      Donald Trump’s highly abnormal presidency: a running guide for December

      Donald Trump’s highly abnormal presidency: a running guide for December Donald Trump’s highly abnormal presidency: a running guide for December Donald Trump’s highly abnormal presidency: a running guide for December

      VICE News

      Donald Trump’s highly abnormal presidency: a running guide for December

      By VICE News

      Donald Trump's presidency will be unprecedented for many reasons — perhaps the biggest is that he'll be the first president in American history never to have held elected office, served in the U.S. military, or occupied any other public position.

      Trump made it clear from the beginning of his campaign that he wasn't going to follow the normal rules or tone of politics. And since winning the election on Nov. 8, he has continued to defy precedents set by the 44 Oval Office occupants who came before him.

      We're keeping track of all the ways Trump's presidency veers from the norm, both in policy and in rhetoric, starting from Nov. 9, the day he became president-elect. We're also highlighting the ways in which policymakers and pundits normalize Trump's abnormal actions, words, and policies.

      Check here for November's updates.

      Day 34 — Dec. 12

      China blasts Trump for "One China" comments, calls him "as ignorant as a child"

      Donald Trump wants China to know that everything is negotiable, including the "One China" policy, the principle that the U.S. not recognize Taiwan as an independent democracy but a breakaway province of China.

      The agreement has allowed the U.S. and China to cooperate since 1979, and China is making it clear that if Trump plans to abandon it, relations between the two countries are about to get chilly.

      "In the field of diplomacy, he is as ignorant as a child," China's state-run Global Times wrote. And a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson told CNN that without the policy, "bilateral cooperation in major fields would be out of the question."

      Read the full story here.

      Day 33 — Dec. 11

      Trump doesn't believe a CIA report that Russia hacked the U.S. election

      Donald Trump continues to shrug off a CIA report that Russia meddled in the 2016 election with the specific goal of helping him win.

      "I think it's ridiculous. I think it's just another excuse," Trump said in an interview with "Fox News Sunday."

      A bipartisan group of high-profile lawmakers, including Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Chuck Schumer, however, released a joint statement Sunday morning stating that Russian interference in the U.S. election should "alarm every American."

      Read VICE News' full story here.

      Day 31 — Dec. 9

      Trump plans to use his "spare time" on a reality TV show

      When "The Apprentice" returns to NBC on Jan. 2 for its 14th season, President-elect Donald Trump will receive an executive producer credit, a spokeswoman for the creator of the reality-TV show told the New York Times Thursday.

      Previously Trump has held as much as a 50 percent stake in the show, but top adviser Kellyanne Conway said in an interview with CNN's "New Day" Friday that it's "doubtful" he will collect a salary from the role. She added the president-elect is still consulting with ethics experts about staying on the show.

      After arguing that no one seemed too concerned about President Obama's time on the golf course, Conway said, "I mean, presidents have a right to do things in their spare time or leisure time. I mean, nobody objects to that."

      The move, however, could raise more questions about Trump's already mounting number of conflicts of interest.

      David Simon, creator and producer of "The Wire" and no fan of Trump, pointed out on Twitter Friday that Trump's involvement, by way of royalties, may not mean much.

      Three members of Trump's brain trust — as well as Trump himself — have been accused of assault

      Donald Trump's pick for secretary of labor —Andrew Puzder, CEO of the company that owns the fast-food chains Hardee's and Carl's Jr. — was accused of domestic abuse by his first wife in the 1980s.

      Two other men Trump has surrounded himself with — as well as the president-elect himself — have faced similar allegations.

      Although the case was later dropped, Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist, was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery in 2001 after his then-wife accused him of grabbing her neck and wrist and smashing the phone when she tried to call the police after the two argued about grocery money. The police report reflected an officer seeing red marks on her neck and wrist.

      Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was also arrested in Florida and charged with misdemeanor simple battery of a female reporter, Michelle Fields. Three days after the alleged incident at a campaign press conference, Fields reported to police that when she went to ask Trump a question, she felt herself tugged backward. An officer wrote in the report that her arm showed finger-shaped bruising from a "grabbing type injury," according to CNN.

      Trump faces serious accusations himself in court on Dec. 16. An anonymous woman is alleging in a civil suit that the president-elect raped her at a sex party thrown by billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in 1994, when she was just 13 years old. The woman alleges she was also raped by Epstein, a registered sex offender.

      Trump would rather be "man of the year"

      At a rally in Louisiana Trump surveyed the crowd on the headline for his recent TIME magazine cover, which declared him "Person of the Year."


      Trump devoted more than a minute of his speech to the epithet and said the magazine had gone "very politically correct" when it changed to "Person of the Year" from "Man of the Year" in 1999.

      All but three U.S. presidents have been named to the list since it began in 1927. And since the United States has never elected a woman president, all of them — as Trump suggests — have been men of the year.

      Day 30 — Dec. 8

      Trump used Twitter to insult a union boss who criticized him

      Donald Trump took to his preferred public platform, Twitter, Wednesday night to insult Indianapolis' United Steelworkers Local 1999 and its president, Chuck Jones.

      Local 1999 represents the Carrier Corp. A deal negotiated by Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence (still governor of Indiana) saved Carrier's parent company, United Manufacturing, from outsourcing about 1,000 jobs (although Jones claims the actual number is more like 750) in exchange for $7 million in tax incentives.

      Jones has been critical of the deal, which he calls a "bargaining chip," leading to a contentious, albeit peripheral, relationship with Trump. He previously told The Washington Post that Trump has "lied his ass off" about the deal.

      Jones told the Indianapolis Star that Trump's latest comments, among the threats he's receiving, means the union leader is doing his job.

      Trump's web of LLCs makes his conflicts of interest nearly impossible to track

      Donald Trump owns his $7 million private helicopter — with four degrees of separation. In reality, Trump's revocable trust owns 99 percent of a limited liability corporation that owns 99 percent of another LLC that owns a Scottish LLC that owns another Scottish company that owns the helicopter, the Wall Street Journal found.

      In fact, Trump obscures at least $304 million of the revenue he reported from his private assets, including real estate, in 96 different LLCs, according to the Journal. The web of LLCs makes his wealth and business interests nearly impossible to track and, therefore, his conflicts of interests are difficult to foresee.

      None of the LLCs, many held in Delaware, often considered a U.S. tax haven, regularly release audited financial information, according to the Journal.

      Day 29 — Dec. 7

      Trump's now infamous call with Taiwan was all thanks to Bob Dole

      Far from an impromptu affair, Donald Trump's unprecedented phone call with Taiwan's president Friday — which has since disrupted nearly 40 years of diplomatic norms with China — has more than a little bit of history.

      Two-time Republican presidential candidate and one-time Viagra pitchman Bob Dole suddenly surfaced as an unexpected player in President-elect Trump's abnormal foreign policy forays of late. The New York Times reported the former senator spent six months machinating relations with Taiwan that eventually led to Trump's call.

      For their efforts, Dole and his lobbying firm, Alston & Bir, received $20,000 a month from the Taiwanese government. Throughout his campaign, Trump vowed to stamp out government corruption and took a tough stance on the lobbying industry's influence on U.S. foreign affairs,

      Trump picks another military official to fill a post normally headed by a civilian

      Donald Trump has reportedly picked retired four-star Marine Gen. John Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security, making him the third high-ranking military officer in the Trump administration to fill a post normally held by a civilian.


      Day 28 — Dec. 6

      Texas Republican becomes eighth elector to defect against Trump

      Another "faithless" elector announced he wouldn't cast his electoral vote on Dec. 19 for Donald Trump. This time, it's a Republican — and a 9/11 first-responder to boot — who joins the seven others.

      In an op-ed for the New York Times, Christopher Suprun of Dallas, a Texas elector who works as a paramedic, wrote that Trump "shows daily he is not qualified for office."

      "Five years ago, I swore an oath to defend my country and Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. On Dec. 19, I will do it again," he ended the piece.

      Trump needs at least 270 electoral votes to become president, and America voted to hand him 306 — including those from Wisconsin and Michigan now subject to a recount. To overturn Trump's election, at least 37 electors would have to vote differently than their states.

      Prominent Harvard law professor Larry Lessig announced a new effort Monday which he calls the "The Electors Trust" that will counsel electors who wish to defect and potentially help them coordinate.

      "It makes no sense to be elector number five who comes out against Trump. But it might make sense to be elector number 38," Lessig told Politico.

      Only 82 electors have ever decided to change their votes, according to Fair Vote — less than one percent, according to the National Archives. And not one has since 2004.

      Day 27 — Dec. 5

      Trump taps retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson for housing secretary

      Donald Trump announced Sunday that retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who ran against the president-elect in the unwieldy Republican primary, has formally accepted the position of secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The role oversees policy that influences the lives of roughly 2.2 million Americans who rely on public housing.

      Carson will certainly be looking at the problem with fresh eyes. Unlike most Housing and Urban Development secretaries, who tend to come from the ranks of mayors, governors, or other public officials who have dealt with urban issues, affordable housing, and economic development, Carson is a celebrated neurosurgeon.

      Only recently, when addressing rumors of his possible inclusion in Trump's cabinet, Carson said he would be a "fish out of water" as a federal bureaucrat.

      Here's what some of his predecessors were up to before they came to HUD:

      Jack Kemp (R), Feb. 1989 - Jan. 1993

      Kemp previously served nine terms as a congressman in western New York's 31st congressional district, from 1971 to 1989. He ran for president in 1988 and vice president in 1996.

      Henry Cisneros (D), Jan. 1993 - Jan. 1997

      Cisneros served as mayor of San Antonio, Texas from 1981 to 1989. Before he was elected mayor, he served two terms on the San Antonio city council.

      Andrew Cuomo (D), Jan. 1997 - Jan. 2001

      Cuomo served as assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 1993 to 1997 after working as an assistant district attorney in New York City and head of the New York City Commission on the Homeless.

      Mel Martinez (R), Jan. 2001 - Dec. 2003

      Martinez was elected chairman of Orange County Florida in 1998 (during his tenure, the position was relabeled "mayor") and served until 2000. He also served as chairman of the Orlando Housing Authority.

      Alphonso Jackson (R), March 2004 - April 2008

      Jackson worked as executive director of the St. Louis Housing Authority and directed the Department of Public and Assisted Housing for Washington, D.C. In 1989, he took over the Housing Authority of the City of Dallas as president and CEO.

      Shaun Donovan (D), Jan. 2009 - June 2014

      Donovan served as commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. As a visiting scholar at New York University, he conducted research on preserving federally assisted housing.

      Julian Castro (D), July 2014 - Jan. 2017

      Castro was elected to the San Antonio city council in 2001 and later served five years as the city's mayor before being appointed secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

      Trump tests U.S.-China relations via Twitter

      Donald Trump on Sunday night continued to test nearly 40 years of staid U.S. foreign policy relations with China. Instead of a casual phone call — the president-elect's preferred way of communicating with foreign leaders lately — Trump used his favorite public medium, Twitter, to make provocative comments about China.

      Trump's tweets came less than 24 hours after China lodged diplomatic protests in response to the president-elect's surprise phone call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday. Beijing considers Taiwan a rogue province that regularly challenges its "one China" policy.

      The U.S. formally broke off official diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979.

      Day 24 — Dec. 2

      UPDATE: Trump is still casually talking with world leaders

      On Friday, President-elect Trump took a phone call with Taiwan president Tsai Ying-wen, the Financial Times reported, stunning observers as the U.S. has had no official diplomatic relationship with Taiwan since it severed ties in 1979.

      U.S. relations with Taiwan have followed the "one China" policy that was introduced as part of President Richard Nixon's historic pivot to China in 1972. The policy stipulates that there is one China, of which Taiwan is a province.

      Regardless of its agenda or lack thereof, the call is almost certain to enrage China and further complicate already tense relations between the two world superpowers.

      Ned Price, a spokesperson for the White House's National Security Council, responded to news of the call Friday evening: "There is no change to our longstanding policy on cross-Strait issues. We remain firmly committed to our 'one China' policy based on the three Joint Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act. Our fundamental interest is in peaceful and stable cross-Strait relations."

      Trump's casual phone calls are freaking diplomats out

      Trump's unfiltered and candid way of talking was a large reason why people voted for him. Now that he's president-elect, Trump is adopting that same style when making calls to world leaders — and the casual chit-chat is worrying some diplomats, the New York Times reported.

      • When Trump called British Prime Minister Theresa May two days after he won the election he told her, "If you travel to the U.S., you should let me know." The British leader is usually the first or second person the U.S. president-elect calls. May was 10th on Trump's list, according to the Times.
      • Trump casually told Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaf Sharif that he was "a terrific guy" and that Trump would "love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people," according to a summary of the call released by the Pakistani government.
      • Trump's call to the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull only took place after world-famous golfer Greg Norman gave Trump's cell phone number to the Australian leader, CNN reported.

      Some conversations are more concerning than others.

      On Friday morning, the president-elect invited the controversial, tough-talking Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House for a visit next year during their brief, seven-minute call. One of Duterte's aides described the conversation as "very engaging" and "animated," Reuters reported.

      The two world leaders have often been compared to one another for their blunt rhetoric and populist streak. Yet Duterte has been widely criticized for his bloody crackdown on drugs, which has regularly relied on extrajudicial killings and indiscriminate arrests and claimed more than 3,000 lives since he took office. Over the summer, Duterte directed his ire at local journalists, whom he said were not exempt from his hit list if he deemed them "corrupt."

      Calls from the U.S. president-elect to world leaders usually follow a careful script assembled by the State Department. Trump, of course, isn't known for following talking points.

      "By taking such a cavalier attitude to these calls, he's encouraging people not to take him seriously," Daniel F. Feldman, a former State Department representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, told the New York Times. "He's made himself not only a bull in a china shop, but a bull in a nuclear china shop."

      Day 23 — Dec. 1

      Another "faithless" elector comes forward as Clinton's popular vote margin widens

      Among the more galling aspects of this election for Democrats is the margin by which Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.

      Her lead hit 2,526,094 Thursday and will no doubt expand once all of California's ballots are counted. As the New York Times noted, at 1.9 percentage points, it's a bigger margin than 10 other presidents had, and it approaches the historic margin of the Jimmy Carter vs. Gerald Ford election in 1976.

      Meanwhile, a seventh member of the 538-member Electoral College has declared herself "faithless." Levi Guerra, a 19-year-old Democrat elector from Vancouver, Washington, said she'll vote for an alternative Republican when the group meets for the official vote on Dec. 19. "I promised those who elected me that I would do everything I could to keep Donald Trump out of office," she told The Guardian.

      New York City officials are worried about spending $1 million a day protecting Trump

      New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called protecting president-elect Donald Trump "unsustainable" due to the high cost for the city: $1 million per day, DNA Info reported.

      The Secret Service handles the majority of Trump's protection, but the New York City Police Department is required to assist when Trump is in the city. Right now, the main challenge is securing Trump Tower, a public building and Trump's residence in Manhattan, where he has stayed almost every day since the election.

      While Trump confirmed he'll move to the White House after his inauguration, which would ease the burden on the city, a source also told The New York Post that future first lady Melania Trump and the Trumps' 10-year-old son, Barron, who also receive protection, won't be leaving New York so that Barron can stay in his current school. Trump will likely visit the city often to see his wife and son.

      Mark-Viverito's concern comes after Mayor Bill de Blasio already asked the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Secret Service, about reimbursement.

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