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Week 22 in one sentence: President Trump rescinded two Obama-era initiatives intended to protect undocumented parents and family members of U.S. citizens and expand an original program that allows certain people who came to the U.S. illegally as children to stay and work in the country; appointed his son’s wedding planner, who has no housing experience, to oversee billions in housing subsidies for New York City; called North Korea a “brutal regime;” offered his condolences to the Warmbier family; sent Jared Kushner to the Middle East for Israel-Palestine peace talks; received his lowest approval rating yet; admitted he didn’t have recordings of his conversations with former FBI director James Comey; said he just doesn’t want to hire poor people for cabinet positions; had a casual “drop-in” with Ukrainian President and Vice President Pence; tweeted that China’s efforts to “help with” North Korea were appreciated but unsatisfactory; congratulated Karen Handel on winning the Georgia special election and took a Twitter victory lap celebrating Republicans; tweeted in support of the Senate health care bill; and hosted his first White House congressional picnic.
Lawyers lawyer up with lawyers Day 148 — June 16
President Trump’s personal lawyer needed one himself. Michael Cohen, who worked as the Trump Organization lawyer for the past decade before becoming Trump’s personal lawyer in January, hired D.C.-based attorney Stephen Ryan after being subpoenaed as part of the investigation into Russia’s election meddling.
Trump might donate his presidential salary as he promised, but that doesn’t mean the presidency isn’t earning him big bucks. His Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, made $7.4 million more in 2016 than in 2015. Also contained in Trump’s recently released financial disclosure forms:the royalties from his book, the 1987 bestseller “The Art of the Deal,” which have increased massively since the beginning of his presidential run. Previous reported earnings from the book’s royalties totaled between $50,000 and $100,000 as of 2015. Trump’s most recent disclosures show that royalties grew to between $100,000 and $1 million in 2016.
The Department of Homeland Security overturned two Obama-era initiatives intended to protect undocumented parents and family members of U.S. citizens. Trump left Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that allows certain people who came to the U.S. illegally as children to stay and work in the country, untouched. The move appeared to break one of Trump’s campaign promises where he said he’d slash all of Obama’s “illegal” executive actions on immigration.
Trump appointed his son’s wedding planner to run the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Region II, which includes New York and New Jersey. Lynne Patton will oversee the distribution of billions of taxpayer dollars, despite having no housing experience. She also faced scrutiny of her credentials – including an ambiguous line on her LinkedIn page that appeared to claim she received a juris doctorate degree in 2000 from Quinnipiac University School of Law (the letters “N/A” appeared after the J.D. notation).
Just ignore himDay 151 — June 19
One of President Trump’s personal lawyers told the public to ignore Trump’s tweet in which he said he was under investigation in the FBI’s Russia probe. Jay Sekulow said Trump wasn’t actually under investigation by a special counsel investigating Russian involvement in the U.S. election, despite Trump saying so on Friday. Kellyanne Conway explained the contradiction during an appearance Monday on “Fox and Friends,” saying the tweets were meant to be ironic and in response to the Washington Post’s reports.
President Trump condemned North Korea following the death of 22-year-old student Otto Warmbier, who passed away days after being returned from an NK prison to the United States in a coma. Trump called Pyongyang a “brutal regime” and also expressed his condolences to the Warmbier family.
Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn returned to the spotlight with yet another case of undisclosed information. Flynn apparently didn’t disclose that he went on a business trip to Saudi Arabia in 2015 where he represented a joint U.S.-Russian business venture in nuclear power. He didn’t disclose the trip during his security clearance renewal in January.
The Trump administration still couldn’t come up with a coherent explanation for how the Navy ship USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan, an accident that killed seven Navy soldiers.
The White House sent Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and top national security aide Jason Greenblatt to the Middle East to further peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Kushner was given the job to forge the “ultimate deal” in one of most complex and long-standing conflicts.
All-time lowDay 152 — June 20
President Trump’s approval rating hit an all-time low of 36 percent, down from a previous low of 39 percent, according to a CBS poll. A third of Americans pointed to Trump’s handling of Russia as the reason their opinion dipped.
Another day, another escalation in Syria. The U.S. military shot down yet another pro-regime drone flying over Syria, U.S. Central Command reported. That didn’t help the rising tension with Russia, which had already been escalating after the U.S. shot down a drone on Sunday.
Sayonara, Spicey? White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer may be stepping down from the podium and taking a more behind-the-scenes position, Politico and Bloomberg reported. In Tuesday’s White House press briefing, Spicer answered a question regarding a possible role change, saying, “I’m right here. Uh, so, you can keep taking your selfies.”
President Trump’s pick for new FBI director, Christopher Wray, apparently tried to hide the fact that he worked on a case that involved defending an American energy executive from a Russian criminal investigation in 2006. Wray deleted the reference in his biography online, but CNN reviewed the web archives and revealed the info.
Vice President Mike Pence met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in a curiously low-key meeting after which they orchestrated a casual “drop-in” with President Trump. The Treasury Department announced new Russian sanctions the same day.
Trump tweeted that China’s efforts to “help with” North Korea were appreciated but that it “has not worked out.” China hit back, saying Chinese actions toward North Korea were “indispensable.” His comments came amid multiday meetings in Washington to tackle the escalating North Korean threat.
Trump ran victory laps all over Twitter after Democrats lost a ton of money trying to help Jon Ossoff win the special election in Georgia that was seen as a referendum on Trump’s presidency.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions lawyered up, hiring outside counsel to deal with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump is way behind on multiple benchmarks set by previous presidents. According to the American Presidency Project, that includes how many solo press conferences he’s done since taking office. Trump has held only one formal Q&A with the White House press corps since his inauguration.
Trump’s personal multimillion-dollar stake in housing subsidies won’t be affected by budget cuts to subsidies of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to a report by the Washington Post. Trump makes money every year from his stake in Starrett City, the nation’s largest subsidized housing complex, in Brooklyn, and the new budget would leave the subsidy paid to private landlords, like Trump, untouched.
“I just don’t want a poor person”Day 153 — June 21
Trump acknowledged that rural Americans hadn’t been on a “level playing field” in terms of employment, but he also said that he chose men like former Goldman Sachs exec Gary Cohn for director of the National Economic Council and Wilbur Ross for secretary of Commerce because of their status as “a rich person.” During a speech in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump said “in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person.”
The State Department issued a scathing statement on Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries’ embargo on Qatar, saying it was “mystified” as to why they had yet to publicly declare their demands to Qatar. The president had expressed praise for Saudi Arabia several times on Twitter in the days prior.
The Department of Homeland Security revealed that Russian hackers targeted “election-related systems” in 21 states and “successfully exploited” a small number of them. Though there’s been public speculation over how many states were affected, this marks the first time federal officials publicly stated the number of states penetrated successfully by Russian hacking.
The White House sent an invitation to each member of the Congressional Black Caucus to meet with the president, but they’re expected to reject the offer, sources told Politico. Sources said their last meeting in March did not bring substantial progress and they didn’t want to participate in another photo op.
VICE News’ coverage:
Trump calls his own bluffDay 154 — June 22
President Trump admitted he did not, in fact, have tapes or recordings of former FBI director James Comey, despite tweeting threateningly that he sure “hoped there are no tapes” of the two of them in conversation.
The revised health care bill drafted by 13 Republicans behind closed doors finally emerged into the light. The 142-page bill has similarities to its House of Representatives counterpart, with cuts to key aspects of Obamacare and billions of dollars slashed from Medicaid. Among other consequences, the GOP health care bill would make the American drug crisis even worse.
Trump’s new appointee to a presidential commission is a Saudi lobbyist who made six figures on deals for the kingdom, according to a report by the Center for Public Integrity. Trump has now tapped three registered foreign agents to join his administration, directly contradicting his campaign promise to #DrainTheSwamp.
“I will issue a lifetime ban against senior executive branch officials lobbying on behalf of a FOREIGN GOVERNMENT! #DrainTheSwamp,” Trump tweeted in October.
Senior intelligence officials confirmed they felt “odd” and “uncomfortable” in their conversations with Trump about the Russia investigations, according to CNN. Trump suggested they should publicly state there was no collusion between his campaign team and Russia, but neither official acted on it.
Democrats are seeking to suspend Jared Kushner’s security clearance. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asking for all of Kushner’s security clearance documents as well as any documents linked to his contact with the Russians.
Now you see it, now you don’tDay 155 — June 23
Trump is being sued again, this time by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the National Security Archive. The groups say that White House officials’ use of confidential messaging apps and deletion of Trump’s tweets are violations of the Presidential Records Act, which requires certain information to be preserved so that it can eventually be available to the public.
Trump tweeted out his support for the Senate health care bill. The president privately instructed senators last week to make their bill less “mean” than the House of Representatives’ version. His endorsement indicates he believes the Senate’s version has a little more heart in it, though many observers say it’s even worse in some ways, particularly for women or people suffering from drug addiction.