By Robert A. Vella
This evening President Trump will give his State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress (Stacey Abrams will give the Democratic response). Few Americans are expected to watch and fewer still will take what he says seriously. What is very serious about this megalomaniac in the White House, however, are the voluminous scandals surrounding him as well as how the nation at large is ostracizing him at an ever increasing rate.
Today’s first story details a new criminal investigation into Trump’s presidential inauguration which could involve impeachable offenses such as conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud, and money laundering.
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York subpoenas Trump’s inauguration committee
President Trump’s inaugural committee was ordered on Monday to turn over documents about its donors, finances and activities to federal prosecutors in Manhattan, according to two people familiar with their investigation into the committee’s activities.
A lawyer working with the inaugural committee received a subpoena on Monday evening seeking documents related to all of the committee’s donors and event attendees; any benefits handed out, including tickets and photo opportunities with the president; federal disclosure filings; vendors; contracts; and more, one of the people said.
Prosecutors also showed interest in whether any foreigners illegally donated to the committee, as well as whether committee staff knew that such donations were illegal, asking for documents laying out legal requirements for donations. Federal law prohibits foreign contributions to federal campaigns, political action committees and inaugural funds.
GOP defies Trump on national emergency, border wall, and Syria troop withdrawal
Many Senate Republicans are deeply opposed to President Donald Trump declaring a national emergency to build his border wall, with enough resistance that the president might ultimately be forced to veto a measure intended to block him.
Interviews with a dozen GOP senators on Monday revealed broad efforts to wave Trump off from doing an end-run around Congress, part of an effort to avoid a politically perilous floor vote that could place them at odds with the president.
If the House passes a formal resolution of disapproval, the Senate would be forced to take it up with a majority threshold required for passage under procedural rules. That would mean just four GOP defections along with all Democrats would be enough to rebuke the president.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned on Monday that there could be a “war” among Republicans if President Trump declared a national emergency to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Graham, speaking in South Carolina, acknowledged that the idea divides Republicans, who he argued should unite behind the president if he ends up circumventing Congress to build the wall.
“It seems to me that he’s gonna have to go it alone, but there could be a war within the Republican Party over the wall,” Graham said.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican-led U.S. Senate backed largely symbolic legislation on Monday that broke with President Donald Trump by opposing plans for any abrupt withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
The Senate voted 70-26 in favor of a non-binding amendment, drafted by Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying it was the sense of the Senate that Islamist militant groups in both countries continued to pose a “serious threat” to the United States.
The amendment acknowledged progress against Islamic State and al Qaeda in Syria and Afghanistan but warned that “a precipitous withdrawal” without effective efforts to secure gains could destabilize the region and create a vacuum that could be filled by Iran or Russia.
Intelligence officials express concern over Trump’s “willful ignorance”
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s renewed attacks on the U.S. intelligence community this week, senior intelligence briefers are breaking two years of silence to warn that the President is endangering American security with what they say is a stubborn disregard for their assessments.
Citing multiple in-person episodes, these intelligence officials say Trump displays what one called “willful ignorance” when presented with analyses generated by America’s $81 billion-a-year intelligence services. The officials, who include analysts who prepare Trump’s briefs and the briefers themselves, describe futile attempts to keep his attention by using visual aids, confining some briefing points to two or three sentences, and repeating his name and title as frequently as possible.
What is most troubling, say these officials and others in government and on Capitol Hill who have been briefed on the episodes, are Trump’s angry reactions when he is given information that contradicts positions he has taken or beliefs he holds. Two intelligence officers even reported that they have been warned to avoid giving the President intelligence assessments that contradict stances he has taken in public.
The President’s “executive time”
Using data leaked to Axios detailing President Trump’s minute-by-minute schedule since the midterm elections and overlaying onto that the president’s prodigious Twitter regimen, we get a sense of how Trump’s day is driven.
What immediately jumps out are the dark gray bars representing Trump’s “executive time,” unstructured time in which the president can call friends and advisers, hold impromptu meetings or watch news programming. This was Axios’s focus in its report, noting that about 60 percent of the time from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the scheduled days is executive time.