This week in Trump’s America
Week 8, in one sentence: President Donald Trump asked for the resignations of 46 U.S. attorneys via his Attorney General Jeff Sessions; dealt with more Russia drama after his adviser Roger Stone admitted that he slid into the DMs of the hacker who claims responsibility for the DNC breach; had his still unproven wiretap accusations defended by Kellyanne Conway’s theory about microwaves; maintained his full of support of the GOP health care bill despite the CBO’s report on the legislation, which said the plan would lead to 24 million more uninsured Americans by 2024; decided he wants the media to pick where he donates his salary at the end of the year; called two pages of his leaked 2005 tax returns “fake news;” had his second not-a-Muslim-ban travel ban blocked; released a budget proposal to spend a bunch of money on defense, cutting the budget for agencies like the EPA, and completely eliminating funding for a number of federal programs, including NPR, PBS, and Meals on Wheels; had his national security adviser issue a half-apology after Press Secretary Sean Spicer alleged that U.K. spies helped wiretap Trump Tower; and got owned by a McDonald’s Twitter account.
Trump gets to do his favorite thing: fire people
Day 50 — March 10: Forty-six U.S. attorneys appointed by Barack Obama were caught off-guard Friday when Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked each of them to resign and move out of their offices by the end of the day. In what’s normally a gradual transition, some of the officials this time around found out through social media, CNN reported. And none of their replacements were named.
A new sheriff in town — eventually
Day 51 — March 11: But the Trump administration had at least one opportunity to say “You’re fired.” Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York — famously known as the “Sheriff of Wall Street” — wouldn’t go without a fight, after being personally asked to stay in his role by Trump during the transition.
“But we’re just friends!”
Day 52 — March 12: Add Roger Stone to the growing list of Trump’s advisers and administration officials who kept in touch with Russia during the election. Stone admitted to the Washington Times that he exchanged “completely innocuous” messages with “Guccifer 2.0,” a self-described hacktivist who claims responsibility for breaching the DNC’s email servers last summer.
Trump’s senior adviser and jedi of spin Kellyanne Conway not only doubled down on the president’s wiretapping claims in an interview, she suggested the Obama administration may have used “microwaves that turn into cameras” to do it. “We know this as a fact of modern life,” she added.
Trump’s glacial transition is forcing major offices — including the State Department, the Pentagon, and the Treasury — to operate with vacancies in key roles.
Kellyanne Conway admits she’s not Inspector Gadget
Day 53 — March 13: Less than 24 hours after spouting her microwave conspiracy theory, Conway admitted on “Good Morning America” that she has zero evidence of Trump’s wiretapping claims — and also that she’s not Inspector Gadget, as many had long suspected.
The Congressional Budget Office released its highly anticipated (no, really) report on the Republicans’ plan to replace Obamacare, and the estimates didn’t go well for them — or poor Americans. While the report showed that phasing out Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid would save $337 billion over the next decade, the plan would also double the number of uninsured.
Although Republicans demanded to see the numbers before even thinking about Obamacare, they pushed ahead on their plan to dismantle it without the budget office’s report. Then, Press Secretary Sean Spicer slammed its accuracy. Still, even more GOPers dislike the plan after seeing the numbers, despite the president’s continued support.
Remember when Trump promised to donate his salary to charity? Well, so far, he’s received and kept $33,333. But Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the president wants to wait until the end of the year to donate a lump sum, and the press — which Trump likes to refer to as “dishonest and corrupt” — gets to decide where.
Documents seen by Bloomberg reveal that a company owned by the family of Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, could earn as much as $500 million in a planned real estate deal that’s an ethical minefield. Not only would members of the administration stand to profit, but the Chinese company on the buying end has close connections to the Communist Party.
Trump’s (2005) tax return
Day 54 — March 14: It was a fairly quiet day in Trumpland. Then Rachel Maddow tweeted.
BREAKING: We've got Trump tax returns. Tonight, 9pm ET. MSNBC.
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) March 14, 2017
Trump is the first major presidential candidate since Richard Nixon to not release his taxes to the public. After causing a stir, Maddow clarified the forms she had were from 2005, which turned out to be just two pages and didn’t reveal anything egregious. Find a rundown here. Investigative reporter David Cay Johnston said the forms just showed up in his mailbox, sent by an anonymous source, which Johnston suggested could have been Trump himself.
Trump used his favorite defense against the leak: fake news.
Outside of tax drama, the House Intelligence Committee gave the Justice Department extra time (until March 20) to provide any evidence of Trump’s wiretapping claims against Obama.
Trump can’t erase the past
Day 55 — March 15: Trump’s new travel ban (but not a Muslim ban, even though Trump has basically called it that in the past) wouldn’t go into effect as planned after two federal judges temporarily halted it. The second executive order was scaled back a bit from the first, removing Iraq from the list of restricted countries.
The judges ruled that future courts would likely find the ban unconstitutional because of religious discrimination. Apparently, you can take the word “Muslim” out of the executive order, but you can’t erase all the discriminatory statements you’ve made.
During an interview on Fox News, Trump vaguely explained where he got his Obama wiretap claims: a Jan. 20 article in the New York Times. But nowhere in the article that Trump seemed to reference does the Times report that Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower.
Making the military great again
Day 56 — March 16: Trump’s administration released its “America First” budget blueprint, and apparently, “America First” means putting the military first and Meals on Wheels not at all. (The program would be cut if the budget is approved as is, which budget chief Mick Mulvaney said was “one of the most compassionate things we can do.”)
Trumps wants Congress to increase military spending by more $50 billion and make sizable cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, the State Department, and other federal agencies. Trump is also the first president to call for the elimination of the nation’s arts and humanities endowments, which provide funding to museums, artists, and cultural organizations. See a more detailed look at Trump’s budgetary goals here.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, a licensed physician, argued that states should be able to pass anti-vaxxer laws if they want. The idea that vaccines can be harmful to child development has been forcefully and repeatedly discredited.
The Senate Intelligence Committee officially dismissed Trump’s wiretapping accusations against Obama. Spicer, however, stood by the president’s claim and spent nearly 10 minutes lambasting the media on live TV, quoting news reports that the White House previously called fake news.
Oh, and a verified McDonald’s Twitter account called Trump a “disgusting excuse for a president” with tiny hands, then pinned the tweet. (McDonald’s said its account was hacked.)
The White House apologized, or maybe it didn’t
Day 57 — March 17: U.K. officials said the White House gave them a rare apology after Sean Spicer, during Thursday’s daily press briefing, alleged that U.K. spies may have helped wiretap Trump Tower. But U.S. officials won’t say whether the White House actually apologized.
This week in POTUS tweets:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 16, 2017
Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama? Jail time!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2017
Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, "went to his mailbox" and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2017