Trump Watch: Day 38 Wrap-Up

Good evening, Trump watchers. I hope everyone’s week is off to a great start. Below is your Trump-related news from Monday, February 27, 2017:

— Trump’s budget blueprint was sent to government agencies today, and reports indicate that it proposes to raise defense and security spending by $54 billion, and non-defense spending will be cut by approximately the same amount. As reported in yesterday’s Trump Watch report, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will experience drastic cuts under the proposed budget, as will foreign aid.

— In response to Trump’s budget, over 120 retired generals and admirals “signed a letter Monday pushing back on the White House’s proposal to make major cuts to diplomacy and development”, according to CNN. One segment of the letter quoted by CNN stated, “The State Department, USAID, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Peace Corps and other development agencies are critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way.”

— Trump met with health insurance companies today seeking assistance in his quest to replace Obamacare.Trump said today that a new plan would be revealed soon. He also said, “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” Really? Nobody knew it could be so complicated? Well…I can think of some exceptions. Perhaps Hillary Clinton, who attempted to enact universal healthcare in the 1990s as First Lady? Maybe also President Obama, who enacted the Affordable Care Act in an effort to ensure that every American had healthcare coverage? Not to mention the many people who attempted similar healthcare efforts before both Clinton and Obama. But yeah, no one knew it was complicated.

— Trump also met with China’s top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, today despite the current tensions between Washington and Beijing. Yang was the first Chinese official to visit the White House since Trump took office. He reportedly met with National Security advisor H.R. McMaster as well as Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, to discuss issues of national security.

— House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, a Republican from California, said today that there is no need for a special prosecutor to investigate the Trump administration’s ties to Russian officials. According to Nunes, there is no evidence to base an investigation on. Nunes did say, however, that he believes there should be an investigation into the leaks to the media regarding the administration’s relationship with Russia and other topics like Trump’s phone call with the Australian Prime Minister. Nunes referred to these as “major crimes”. Democrats were critical of Nunes’ assessment of the situation, saying that a conclusion on Trump’s Russian ties couldn’t be reached at this point since the investigation hasn’t even begun. Intelligence Committee member Adam Schiff, a Democrat also from California, said, “When you begin an investigation, you don’t begin by stating what you believe to be the conclusion.”

— Today the New York Times published a very interesting piece titled, “Just How Abnormal Is the Trump Presidency?” They asked a panel of 15 experts (from both ends of the political spectrum) to rate 20 different things that have happened so far in the Trump presidency on a scale of 1–5 for normal to abnormal, and 1–5 for unimportant to important. One item (firing Sally Yates) ranked as “normal and not important”, two items (alienating Australia and Kellyanne Conway’s endorsement of Ivanka Trump’s products) rated as “abnormal and not important”, four items were rated as “normal and not important”, and a whopping 13 items rated as “abnormal and important”. The highest-ranking “abnormal and important” item was the use of the terms “alternative facts” and “fake news”. The full study’s results graphed on a matrix, along with commentary from the panelists, can be viewed by clicking the link above.

— Finally, George W. Bush, the last Republican to hold the office of President (2001–2009), spoke to NBC’s Today Show this morning and was critical of Trump’s travel ban and attacks on the media. Regarding the media, Bush said, “I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy.” When asked about the travel ban, he spoke about the freedom of religion, stating, “I think it’s very important for all of us to recognize one of our great strengths is for people to be able to worship the way they want to or to not worship at all. A bedrock of our freedom is the right to worship freely.” He also said, “I am for an immigration policy that’s welcoming and upholds the law.” In terms of the Trump campaigns ties to Russia, Bush said, “We all need answers.” You can read more about his interview in the link above.

That’s all for today. The next wrap-up on Wednesday is sure to be interesting, as Trump will address a joint session of Congress tomorrow and is expected to unveil his latest travel ban by Wednesday.