Trump Watch: Day 66 Wrap-Up

Good evening, Trump watchers! It was a busy Monday in Trump-land. Here is all the news you need to know from Monday, March 27, 2017 (plus a few stories that I missed last week):

— Today Trump signed four bills to roll back Obama-era regulations. Here is a brief description of each one, per USA Today: 1) Trump canceled the “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” rule, which “barred companies from receiving federal contracts if they had a history of violating wage, labor or workplace safety laws. That regulation, derided by critics as the ‘blacklisting’ rule, was already held up in court.” 2) “A Bureau of Land Management rule known as ‘Planning 2.0,’ that gave the federal government a bigger role in land use decisions. The rule was opposed by the energy industry.” 3 & 4) “Two regulations on measuring school performance and teacher training under the Every Student Succeeds Act, a law Obama signed in 2015 with bipartisan support.”

According to Reuters, the White House announced today that the Trump administration “plans to take a lead role in crafting major legislation to cut taxes with an eye toward meeting an August target date.” Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the administration plans to work with Congress on legislation that would cut taxes for businesses and the American people. After Trump’s failure to repeal and replace Obamacare, all eyes will be on his tax legislation and whether he can craft a feasible plan and gather support to pass it in Congress.

— The Senate Intelligence Committee announced that it plans to question Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, about meetings he set up with Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak. The meetings took place during the Trump team’s transition, and according to the New York Times, included “a previously unreported sit-down with the head of Russia’s state-owned development bank.”

— A quick memory refresher before I fully explain the next story: last week Republican Devin Nunes of California, the leader of the House Intelligence Committee, notoriously suddenly came up with evidence that Trump had accidentally been surveilled during routine surveillance of foreign targets, then immediately took the information to the President before telling anyone else on the House Intelligence Committee about it. This outraged his fellow committee members as well as many others in Congress who viewed it as evidence of the need for an independent investigation rather than a Congress-led one. Today it was revealed that Nunes met his source for the surveillance information at the White House. This has sparked questions as to whether the Trump administration was actually the source of the “information” and whether it was all a ruse to make it appear that Trump wasn’t completely incorrect in his wiretapping claims.

— Thirteen states filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia today stating their support for Trump’s travel ban executive order. Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and West Virginia all expressed their support for banning new visas for citizens from six Muslim-majority countries. The court is expected to consider the U.S. appeal on May 8. Stay tuned.

— This story didn’t get much coverage today and the details about it are scant, but this afternoon Trump met with a group of women who are small business owners. According to a story by the Associated Press, Trump said that “empowering and promoting women in business are priorities in his administration.” He held a roundtable discussion with the group and pledged to work on barriers women face, including making childcare more affordable and accessible. It’s certainly an interesting pledge from Trump, seeing how he tried to cut maternity benefits from healthcare last week. Make it more expensive to have a baby, but less expensive to find childcare for them? Hmmm.

— An interesting story from the weekend was one in which both House and Senate Democrats introduced a bill called the “Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness Act”, or MAR-A-LAGO Act when shortened to an acronym. The bill would require the Trump administration to make the names of any visitors to the White House or other business locations of the administration (i.e., Mar-a-Lago Resort) available via a publicly-accessible database to be updated every 90 days. According to NBC News, “Democrats say the move is necessary after a Whitehouse.gov page featuring visitor access records has said ‘this page is being updated’ ever since Trump took office — and remains unchanged.”

— Apologies for missing this story last week, but it’s a very important one. In a party-line vote last week, the Senate voted to “undo Obama-era regulations that would have forced internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon to ask customers’ permission before they could use or sell much of their personal information” according to CBS News. All of the votes in favor of rolling back this legislation came from Republicans, while all Democrats voted “no” (hoping to keep the Obama-era legislation in place). It still has to pass the House and be signed by Trump to go into effect. Thus far, Trump has been very much in favor of reversing any Obama-era legislation (as evidenced by the first point in today’s wrap-up), so it is likely he would agree with this if it reached his desk. Additionally, Trump’s FCC Chair, Ajit Pai, is on record as disagreeing with the Obama regulations. Rolling back this legislation would have significant impacts on American internet users, as it gives internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, etc. the ability to see exactly which websites you visit, to tell advertisers which websites you’ve visited, to share and sell your personal information without your permission, and to track your location without seeking your permission. If this upsets you, write or call your representative.

— Finally, Gallup released a new poll today showing that Trump’s approval rating has hit a new all-time low for his presidency: 36%. This is two points lower than President Obama’s all-time low of 38% in 2011 and 2014, and one point lower than President Clinton’s all-time low of 37% in 1993. In terms of the three most recent Republican presidents, Trump still hasn’t fallen as low as George W. Bush at his lowest point (25%), George H.W. Bush (29%), or Ronald Reagan (35%). Hey, give him time to catch those guys. He’s only 66 days into this gig.

That’s all for tonight! Also, just a quick heads-up that I have a work event Wednesday evening that won’t end until at least 8:30 p.m. (Eastern Time), so I probably won’t be able to post that night’s wrap-up until pretty late (~10–11 p.m.) instead of my usual time of between 6–9 p.m.