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It was a down week for President Trump, who failed in his efforts to stop the publication of Michael Wolff’s White House tell-all, failed to convince his detractors he is a "stable genius" after pundits debated his mental fitness, postponed the “Fake News Awards”, and failed to sell “F-52s” to Norway — despite bragging about doing so — because those planes only exist in "Call of Duty." He did, however, manage to take credit for record-low African-American unemployment, caused Republicans to panic after he briefly criticized and then endorsed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and announced a decision to kick more than 200,000 El Salvador immigrants out of the country before referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations as “shithole countries.”
He also discovered that there’s a very big river along part of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump reacts to “Fire and Fury” with fury Day 350 — January 5
Michael Wolff’s explosive new book on the Trump campaign and presidency, “Fire and Fury,” went on sale — despite Trump’s threats to sue the publisher the author if it hit shelves. In fact, publisher Henry Holt moved up the release date by four days, and the book immediately topped the New York Times and Amazon best-seller lists.
The book, based on 200 interviews over the course of 18 months, includes bombshell accusations that top White House staffers — and even Trump himself — were leaking information to the press. Wolff’s book also claims that Trump’s employees and Cabinet often disparaged his intelligence and mental fitness. For example, Gary Cohn called him “dumb as shit”; H.R. McMaster said he was “a hopeless idiot”; and Bannon said Trump had “lost his mind,” according to Wolff.
Of course, Trump responded to the book’s release with a series of tweets. In addition to Wolff, Trump targeted Bannon, dubbing him “Sloppy Steve,” who likely violated a nondisclosure agreement when he talked to Wolff for “Fire and Fury.” Trump has also threatened to sue him.
“Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book,” Trump tweeted. “He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!”
And Twitter decided we’re stuck with Trump’s tweets. In a press release, the social media company responded to widespread cries to deactivate Trump’s account after he threatened North Korea with nuclear annihilation when bragging about the size of his button. Twitter dismissed concerns because it believes Trump is too important to kick off the platform.
“Twitter is here to serve and help advance the global, public conversation,” the statement reads. “Elected world leaders play a critical role in that conversation because of their outsized impact on our society.”
A stable genius Day 351 — January 6
Trump met with GOP lawmakers in a closed-door meeting at Camp David, the president’s official retreat in Maryland. The goal of the private sessions, which Trump described as “incredible” and “perhaps transformative in certain ways,” was to hash out the 2018 GOP agenda.
When not perhaps transforming the U.S., Trump found more time to tweet. The president’s Saturday tweets addressed:
Being a “stable genius.” “I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star to President of the United States (on my first try),” Trump tweeted, even though he ran a presidential campaign back in 1999). “I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!”
The “African American unemployment rate” falling to 6.8 percent, the lowest point in 45 years.
Brian Ross, the ABC reporter who erroneously reported on the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, should have been fired. Ross reported that Trump had ordered Mike Flynn to make contact with Russian officials during the election but later “clarified” that he ordered Flynn to do so once he was already the president-elect.
Oprah 2020? Day 352 — January 7
News emerged about something Trump has some real authority on: TV stars running for president. A possible 2020 challenge came in the form of a woman you may have heard of, named Oprah Winfrey. Although Oprah herself has said she has no plans to run for president, she delivered a tremendously well-received speech at the Golden Globes that had even Oprah’s longtime partner convinced she may run. “She would absolutely do it,” Stedman Graham told the Los Angeles Times.
A few days later, Trump responded to all that #Oprah2020 speculation that the competition would be “fun” although he doesn’t think she’ll run. But if she did, she’d lose, of course.
The media, which doesn’t enjoy the same favor with the president that Oprah apparently does, was supposed to get Trump’s esteemed “Fake News Awards” on Monday. But the president postponed the ceremony until Jan. 17 to give his administration more time to identify the “most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media.”
A true patriot Day 353 — January 8
The Trump administration announced its decision to cancel temporary residency permits for more than 200,000 immigrants from El Salvador, many of whom have lived in the U.S. for more than a decade after a deadly earthquake struck their country. The move gives them 18 months to either leave the country or face deportation.
Also in the name of American greatness, Trump successfully delivered some of the words to the national anthem before the College Football Playoff National Championship in Atlanta. It’s unclear if the president didn’t know the words or simply favors singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in random bursts. You can watch the video here.
Trump continued his unwavering patriotism in a speech to farmers in which he proclaimed that the American dream was “roaring back to life.” Trump credited the upswing to $5.5 trillion in tax cuts from the Republican tax overhaul passed late last year. But the president was off by $4 billion and several years. The tax bill offers $1.5 billion over the next 10 years.
Weighing his options Day 354 — January 9
Trump met with Democrats and Republicans (on camera) to discuss Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a law passed by President Obama to protect immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation. Trump either does or doesn’t support the law, depending on who’s asking him and what time of day it is.
"I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with," Trump said. He’s been trying to use the DACA program as a bargaining chip to secure funding for the border wall, which he hasn’t yet been able to secure.
While we’re on the topic of policies Trump is considering, we can add a “bloody nose” strategy with North Korea to the list. In other words, the U.S. would reportedly respond to missile tests in the Hermit Kingdom with a targeted strike against a weapons facility, essentially a small-scale war, in hopes that it doesn’t turn into a nuclear war with Kim Jong Un. The next day, the State Department would also ask Congress to approve sale of four missiles to Japan to protect the country from North Korea.
Speaking of world leaders who despise Trump, Iran’s Supreme Leader called Trump “psychotic” on Twitter and accused the U.S. along with Britain of attempting to use social unrest in Iran to overthrow its leaders.
Back in the U.S., another alleged human rights abuser at home is gearing up for a congressional campaign, thanks in large part to the president. Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was pardoned by Trump after he was convicted of ignoring a federal court order in a racial profiling case, is running for the Senate seat that Republican Sen. Jeff Flake will leave vacant.
Arpaio said he was running for one reason: “to support the agenda and policies of President Donald Trump in his mission to Make America Great Again.”
Trump also once again touted the record-low unemployment numbers for black Americans, and then seemed to simultaneously scold black voters and take credit for their employment. “Dems did nothing for you but get your vote! #NeverForget,” Trump tweeted.
Avoiding the “Witch Hunt” Day 355 — January 10
In a reversal of yet another position, Trump said was “unlikely” he’d sit down with special counsel Robert Mueller. His attorneys previously said they’d be happy to cooperate with any requests, and Trump said he’d be "100 percent” willing to talk about the election under oath. Who could have seen that coming?
Trump also fired off several tweets about the Russian investigation, or as he likes to call it, “the single greatest Witch Hunt in American history.” “There was no collusion, everybody including the Dems knows there was no collusion, & yet on and on it goes,” he tweeted. By denying collusion, however, Trump may have doomed the U.S. to repeat its mistakes. In a new report, congressional Democrats found that the U.S. is still just as vulnerable to election hacking.
Trump also lashed out at the judiciary after another judge foiled his plans to cancel DACA.
“It just shows everyone how broken and unfair our Court System is when the opposing side in a case (such as DACA) always runs to the 9th Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts,” the president tweeted.
Much like the Democrats did with Russia, Trump invented something of his own: the F-52 planes his administration sold to Norway, which only exist in the video game franchise “Call of Duty.”
Only 24 hours Day 356 — January 11
The president had one hell of a Thursday, even by Trumpian standards.
Most notably, Trump let slip his true feelings about immigration from several countries during a meeting with legislators at the White House.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, several people briefed on the meeting told the Washington Post, referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries. Sen. Dick Durbin, who was in the meeting, later confirmed Trump definitely said that.
The meeting was held to discuss the possibility of allowing immigrants from certain countries to remain in the U.S after the Trump administration announced a plan earlier in the week to kick out 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants and 45,000 Haitian immigrants in the U.S. since deadly earthquakes struck their countries years ago.
Most Republicans wouldn’t touch the comment, but some, including Tim Scott, the only African-American Republican in the Senate, ventured to call them “disappointing.”
Foreign diplomats were less quiet. The Haitian government said that Trump’s comments reflect the president’s “racist view of the Haitian community.” Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned the comments too. "I'm sorry, but there's no other word one can use but racist," Colville said in a statement.
Trump, however, suggested he never made the comments at all and blamed the reports on Democrats.
“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings — unfortunately, no trust!” Trump tweeted.
While pondering immigration policies, Trump also “discovered” that there’s a very big river along part of the border, the 1,900-mile Rio Grande, so his wall wouldn’t necessarily have to cover the entire thing, Kellyanne Conway said on CNN Thursday.
Trump also remembered that his administration wants to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which gives intelligence agencies the authority to track the electronic communications of suspected foreign terrorists without a warrant.
At first, Trump tweeted his objections, based on a hunch that his campaign had been the target of spying from the law. “This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?” the president tweeted.
But a few hours later, he walked his criticism back.
“With that being said, I have personally directed the fix to the unmasking process since taking office and today’s vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it! Get smart!” he wrote on Twitter, hours before the House passed the legislation.
Trump’s quick flip-flop on the issue reportedly stunned Republican leaders.
Throughout the day, the administration also sprinkled in:
Trump saying that he “probably [has] a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un”
Trying to block a fourth undocumented teen from getting an abortion
Allowing states to require work permits before offering Medicaid benefits, which hasn’t ever been done
Blamed Obama for his decision not to attend the unveiling of the new London embassy