A Complete Breakdown Of Donald Trump’s 75th Unpresidented Week As POTUS
A disheartening week warrants a call for pragmatic hope
This week proved that if we don’t participate in our democracy, it will slip away from us.
Clear lines are being drawn in the sand between decency and depravity. Truth and dishonesty. Democracy and autocracy.
The Muslim ban was upheld, women’s reproductive rights and workers’ rights were harmed by the Supreme Court. Yet another mass shooting rattled America, this time targeting journalists — more thoughts and prayers followed but no meaningful gun reform. Plans for the indefinite internment of migrant families were put forward by the Trump administration. And on top of this, Justice Kennedy (the most important Justice, given his swing vote) announced his retirement from the Supreme Court.
There were countless pieces about the rights Americans could lose now that Trump is sure to appoint a reliably conservative Justice. This week felt like a gut punch to Americans who value women’s reproductive rights, civil rights, workers’ rights, human rights in general, as well as the rule of law. (The Supreme Court will likely have to make key decisions on the extent of presidential power, with rulings surrounding pardon power, compliance with subpoenas, and presidential immunity.) And President Barack Obama’s remarks to Democrats this week, opting for tough love rather than “hope and change,” didn’t make anyone feel reassured.
By now, you all know what’s at stake. But we can’t win if we only focus on how outnumbered and outgunned we are. We have to highlight what resources we do have and how we can use them to persevere. In light of this, I’ve decided to take a different approach with this week’s Unpresidented intro: a call for pragmatic hope.
I’ve written about and analyzed every day of Donald Trump’s presidency for over 500 days straight in this column. I’ve seen how much an incompetent and indecent governing political party can retool the country’s policies when they control all three branches of government. Imagine what a competent, decent party can do.
I understand President Trump has been stacking circuit courts with hardline conservatives. I understand that the dynamics of the Supreme Court are about to be changed for decades to come. But I also understand that long-game thinking and persistent optimism is necessary here if we hope to withstand, and in time, overcome this.
This week, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Latina community organizer from Brooklyn who was a bartender just last year, defeated Joe Crowley, a powerful 10-term Democrat in New York’s primary. She looks set to be the youngest Congresswoman in American history. A protest that was organized just two weeks ago, in response to President Trump’s inhumane family separation policy, took the world by storm with hundreds of thousands marching on the right side of history. And the March For Our Lives organizers are currently touring the country registering young people to vote.
I point to these examples because it showcases the trends we’ve been seeing. A record number of female candidates. A huge surge in activism. Young people engaged in the political process.
By 2019, millennials are set to surpass baby boomers as the largest generation in America, and will soon be the largest electorate. During the 2016 election, Pew Research Center found that 23% of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters under the age of 30 left the party. There are also polls indicating a surge in young people eager to vote ahead of the midterms.
Almost half of eligible voters in America didn’t vote in 2016. Yes, there was voter suppression. Yes, there was gerrymandering. Yes, there was Russian interference. Yes, there was the Comey letter. But those aren’t responsible for tens of millions of voters staying home on election day. It’s time to activate and ensure that no GOP antics or foreign interference can take control of our democracy. It’s time to lay the foundation for what will be a decade’s long initiative to reshape the country (Congress, state legislatures, the presidency, circuit courts, boardrooms, etc.) in our image.
Democrats have a real opportunity to tap into this surge of patriotic enthusiasm and build a political powerhouse that mobilizes voters for decades to come. One that ensures, in a post-Trump era, there can be sustained progress and political participation. An Executive, Legislative, and a Judicial Branch that works to encourage democratic participation, clean energy, cutting-edge technological innovation, human rights, and equal rights and opportunity for all.
This will also take a cultural shift with more politicians, influencers, and celebrities using their platforms to increase participation in our democracy.
And, most importantly, it will take everyday Americans to get involved.
President Trump and the Republican Party’s depravity has galvanized, what now-former GOP Strategist Steve Schmidt has dubbed, a coalition of the decent.
Let’s keep the hope and strap ourselves in for the long haul.
It’s the only way we overcome this.
And yes, we definitely can.
Day 522: Monday, June 25
Due Process And “Civility”
The Main Story: After systematically separating immigrant children from their parents for months, President Trump decided to call for the revocation of due process rights for asylum seekers at the border.
And Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders attempted to spin this.
The Side Show: “Civility”
Today, we were inundated with lectures on “civility.”
Rantt’s Tai Ragan reported:
The last week offered plenty of ammunition to those who wish to lament the decline and coarsening of America. Kirstjen Nielsen and Stephen Miller, both Trump appointees involved in Trump’s policy of family separation, were confronted publically in restaurants. Later in the week, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant by a management who felt it was immoral to serve her in light of this same policy. Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) then commented on such actions in a rally Saturday saying,
“If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
It was in response to these comments and actions that the media and public intellectuals began to lecture us on the importance of civility.
Our take on this was simple:
You would think President Trump’s apparent threat to Waters would’ve stopped the media from pushing this narrative, but it continued throughout the next couple days.
For more thoughts on the child separation policy and “civility,” check out our latest episode of the Rantt Podcast.
In other news…
- MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow revealed audio she obtained from inside a facility where migrant children are being held.
- ABC News dropped a report that indicates Special Counsel Robert Mueller may be probing what could amount to perjury for Blackwater Founder Erick Prince for lying to investigators about his contacts with foreign nationals.
ABC News has since learned that Mueller is also reviewing Prince’s communications, a sign that Mueller could try to squeeze Prince, as he has others, probing potential inconsistencies in his sworn testimony in an attempt to pressure him to turn into a witness against other targets of the investigation.
- NBC News reported that President Trump has left Defense Secretary James Mattis out of the loop on very important foreign policy decisions and continues to do so.
Day 523: Tuesday, June 26
The Ban And The Beginning Of A Movement
The Gut Punch: President Trump’s Muslim ban was upheld by the Supreme Court. It has been in place since a stay was lifted, but today made it official.
It also had a worrisome ruling within it that appears President Trump can ban the entry of people based on nationalities, sparking fears of what the ruling empowers him to do to Central Americans.
Another ruling on the side of anti-abortion pregnancy centers. The New York Times reported:
Ruling for opponents of abortion on free speech grounds, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday that the State of California may not require religiously oriented “crisis pregnancy centers” to supply women with information about how to end their pregnancies.
The Hope: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Latina from Brooklyn, defeated Joe Crowley, a powerful 10-term Democrat in New York’s primary. She is set to become the youngest Congresswoman in US history. Not to mention her incredibly progressive platform.
In other news…
- A federal judge ordered that the Trump administration reunite the families they separated at the border. The New York Times reported:
A federal judge in California issued a nationwide injunction late Tuesday temporarily stopping the Trump administration from separating children from their parents at the border and ordered that all families already separated be reunited within 30 days.
Judge Dana M. Sabraw of the Federal District Court in San Diego said children under 5 must be reunited with their parents within 14 days, and he ordered that all children must be allowed to talk to their parents within 10 days.
- Bloomberg reported:
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing to accelerate his probe into possible collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russians who sought to interfere in the 2016 election, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
Mueller and his team of prosecutors and investigators have an eye toward producing conclusions — and possible indictments — related to collusion by fall, said the person, who asked not to be identified. He’ll be able to turn his full attention to the issue as he resolves other questions, including deciding soon whether to find that Trump sought to obstruct justice.
- The Washington Post reported:
Silicon Valley companies and law enforcement are starting to talk about how to ward off meddling by malicious actors including Russia on social media in the November midterms, an attempt at dialogue and information-sharing that was absent during the 2016 presidential elections.
Facebook convened a meeting last month with representatives from the biggest players in the technology industry along with FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials who are responsible for protecting elections from foreign interference, according to eight people familiar with the discussions. Google, Twitter, Apple, Microsoft, Snap and the parent company of Yahoo and AOL, Verizon subsidiary Oath, attended, according to four of the people.
- The Guardians reported:
Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened Harley-Davidson with a “big tax” and said the motorbike company’s decision to shift some motorcycle production overseas, “will be the beginning of the end”.
A day after the company announced it was moving some production overseas to mitigate the impact of Trump’s tariffs on European steel and aluminium Trump used Twitter to say the company is using “Tariffs/Trade War as an excuse” to hide previously announced plans to move jobs to Asia.
Day 524: Wednesday, June 27
Rantt’s Managing Editor Remy Carreiro reported:
Wednesday afternoon, the news broke that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was planning to retire, giving President Donald Trump a second opportunity to appoint a justice to the court, prompting overwhelming pushback from both Congressional Democrats and the American people. Given the current breakdown of the court, a new justice will likely shape its direction for decades to come. With Trump’s own promise to appoint anti-choice judges, there is an immense possibility that a more conservatively slanted court would move to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade almost immediately, allowing states to ban abortions if they see fit.
Obviously, the potential of Roe being overturned is wildly terrifying given the GOP’s clear goal to limit a woman’s right to bodily autonomy. Beyond this, a successful attack on reproductive rights would undoubtedly embolden certain Republican politicians to seek the Court’s opinion on other cases protecting civil rights (marriage equality immediately comes to mind).
This would also hit Trump’s own voters as Rantt’s CIO Greg Fish points out (the current Supreme Court is already doing this):
Some of the current Supreme Courts’ greatest hits include legalizing low-level wage theft (Epic Systems v. Lewis), weakened public workers’ unions’ ability to collectively bargain by restricting how they can collect dues to lobby elected officials and management (Janus v. AFSCME), and allowing companies to force employees into individual arbitration to prevent them joining forces when suing over lost wages (EY v. Morris, NLRB v. Murphy Oil). And as the Trump administration stripped 12.5 million workers from overtime protections, allowed predatory tip pooling, and made reports of workplace injuries and illnesses to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration voluntary, among other moves, their track record indicates that any challenge to these policies would be in vain.
And the same goes for the extremely popular protections for pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act which another right-wing justice would be perfectly fine with eliminating, especially while the Trump administration refuses to defend them in court.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who stole this seat from President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, engaged in hypocrisy.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) hit back.
Unless GOP Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who have expressed support for Roe v. Wade, decline to vote for Trump’s nominee, then it appears a conservative will be appointed, shifting the balance of the court for decades.
In other news…
- President Trump sent out this tweet calling on House Republicans to pass the bill they were considering at the time.
The House struck it down. The Washington Post reported:
The House on Wednesday soundly rejected a wide-ranging GOP immigration bill that would have funded President Trump’s border wall, offered young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship and partially addressed the family-separation crisis at the southwest border.
The bill failed on a vote of 301 to 121 despite a last-minute tweet — in all-capital letters — of support from Trump, the backing of GOP leadership and weeks of negotiations between conservatives and moderate Republicans who sought an elusive intraparty compromise.
- Politico reported:
The GAO and the Health and Human Services inspector general both launched reviews Wednesday into the Trump administration’s handling of thousands of migrant children separated from their families at the border.
- The Washinton Post reported:
President Trump is in advanced talks with Bill Shine, a longtime Fox News executive, to become his communications director, administration officials said Wednesday.
- The Guardian reported:
North Korea has continued to upgrade its only known nuclear reactor used to fuel its weapons program, satellite imagery has shown, despite ongoing negotiations with the US and a pledge to denuclearise.
- The Hill reported:
A court ruled Wednesday that President Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission must hand over documents demanded by a Democratic member of the panel.
Day 525: Thursday, June 28
The Putin-Trump Summit And Capital Gazette Shooting
A time and place were set for President Trump to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. They’ll meet after the NATO summit in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16.
In spite of the administration’s assertions that President Trump plans to challenge Putin on election interference ahead of the midterms, Trump once again cast doubt on whether or not they interfered in the 2016 election at all.
This came as President Trump and the GOP yet again attacked the Russia investigation.
The House Judiciary Committee questioned FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. House Republicans fielded their various conspiracy theories, trying to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. And Republicans parroted one of their favorite talking points, claiming that this investigation has dragged on for too long.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), infamous for his Benghazi investigation into Hillary Clinton (which lasted longer than the Mueller probe so far and found no wrongdoing on Clinton’s part), called on the probe to end.
Another talking point the GOP and President Trump push is the notion that Mueller’s probe is too expensive.
All of these arguments aren’t based in reality, to say the least.
After this, a tragic event occurred. Rantt’s CEO Zak Ali reported:
An armed gunman, now in custody, shot and killed multiple people at the Capital Gazette Newspaper building in Annapolis, Maryland.
A briefing from Anne Arundel County Police confirmed that at least 5 people have died from this incident and several were injured and transferred to medical care facilities. The shooter is in custody and is being interrogated at this time.
Courts and Crime Reporter for the Capital Gazette, Phil Davis described the scene:
The suspect has been identified as Jarrod W. Ramos, 38, who appears to have had a personal vendetta against the paper. Ramos has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder.
President Trump refused to offer on-camera condolences, opting instead to release a short statement.
In other news…
- We learned of President Trump’s effort to get Justice Kennedy to retire, and how personal ties may have played a role. The New York Times reported:
President Trump singled him out for praise even while attacking other members of the Supreme Court. The White House nominated people close to him to important judicial posts. And members of the Trump family forged personal connections.
Their goal was to assure Justice Anthony M. Kennedy that his judicial legacy would be in good hands should he step down at the end of the court’s term this week, as he was rumored to be considering. Allies of the White House were more blunt, warning the 81-year-old justice that time was of the essence. There was no telling, they said, what would happen if Democrats gained control of the Senate after the November elections and had the power to block the president’s choice as his successor.
During Mr. Kennedy’s [Justice Kennedy’s son] tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr. Trump’s most important lender, dispensing well over $1 billion in loans to him for the renovation and construction of skyscrapers in New York and Chicago at a time other mainstream banks were wary of doing business with him because of his troubled business history.
- Rep. Maxine Waters had to cancel events due to death threats.
- ABC News reported yet another previously undisclosed Russian meeting…
- Reuters reported:
A search warrant application unsealed on Wednesday revealed closer links than previously known between President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and a Russian oligarch with close ties to the Kremlin.
In an affidavit attached to the July 2017 application, an FBI agent said he had reviewed tax returns for a company controlled by Manafort and his wife that showed a $10 million loan from a Russian lender identified as Oleg Deripaska.
For a deeper dive on Paul Manafort and his ties to Deripaska, read my piece here.
- Jon Stewart returned on Colbert.
Day 526: Friday, June 29
Trump’s Aim To End US Asylum
The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy has been making it more difficult for asylum seekers to gain entry into the US legally, and it looks set to go up a notch. Vox reported:
The Department of Justice, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is drafting a plan that would totally overhaul asylum policy in the United States.
Under the plan, people would be barred from getting asylum if they came into the US between ports of entry and were prosecuted for illegal entry. It would also add presumptions that would make it extremely difficult for Central Americans to qualify for asylum, and codify — in an even more restrictive form — an opinion written by Sessions in June that attempted to restrict asylum for victims of domestic and gang violence.
Vox has confirmed that the regulation is in the process of being evaluated, and has seen a copy of a draft of the regulation.
We also learned more about why children were being separated from their parents before the “zero tolerance” policy was put in place. According to NBC News, there was a pilot program:
The government was separating migrant parents from their kids for months prior to the official introduction of zero tolerance, running what a U.S. official called a “pilot program” for widespread prosecutions in Texas, but apparently did not create a clear system for parents to track or reunite with their kids.
Officials have said that at least 2,342 children were separated from their parents after being apprehended crossing the border unlawfully since May 5, when the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy towards migrants went into effect.
But numbers provided to NBC News by the Department of Homeland Security show that another 1,768 were separated from their parents between October 2016 and February 2018, bringing the total number of separated kids to more than 4,100.
Also, it looks like the indefinite internment camps to house over 100,000 migrants at naval and military bases the Trump administration is planning, will get some use.
In other news…
Reports of Trump voters who were hit hard by Trump’s trade war, and yet still support him, continued to circulate.
Over the weekend…
As the marches against family separation swept over 700 cities, the movement to abolish ICE grew.
Ahmed Baba is Co-Founder and COO/Editor-in-Chief of Rantt Media. Writer of Unpresidented and the Rantt Rundown, Ahmed has documented and analyzed every day of the Trump presidency — a very relaxing and non-terrifying experience for him. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or found on Twitter trying his hand at comedy and tweeting about Trump’s degradation of democratic norms.
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