Huffington Post: Trump Told Russia To Get Clinton’s Emails. The Same Day, They Obeyed.

The following is an excellent article written by Amanda Terkel on the Huffington post website on July 13, 2018 titled “Trump Told Russia To Get Clinton’s Emails. The Same Day, They Obeyed.” and I quote:

“Trump Told Russia To Get Clinton’s Emails. The Same Day, They Obeyed.”

A new indictment from Robert Mueller reveals that Russia appeared to be listening to what Trump wanted.

In the morning of July 27, 2016, Donald Trump encouraged Russian hackers to find emails that had been deleted from Hillary Clinton’s private server that she used while serving as secretary of state.

“I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said at a press conference in Florida. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Russia appeared to be listening and heeded Trump’s call, according to a bombshell revelation on Friday. A grand jury convened by special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officials for their involvement in hacking the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election.

The indictment states that on July 27 ― the same day as Trump’s press conference ― Russian hackers, “for the first time,” attempted to break into email accounts, including those used by Clinton’s personal office. Notably, the indictment specifies that the hack happened in the evening, meaning the Russian officials could have done it after Trump’s press conference.

Around the same time, they also tried hacking the Clinton campaign ― although the hacking of the campaign began earlier, before Trump’s call.


Shortly after his press conference, Trump tweeted about his comments, adding that the hackers should share the emails with the FBI ― something he left out of his initial remarks.

Donald J. Trump


If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!

The White House played down the revelations in the indictment, saying there was no evidence that anyone on the Trump campaign knowingly colluded with Russian officials.

“Today’s charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result,” said White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters. “This is consistent with what we have been saying all along.”

“We know that the Trump campaign and the Russians were in constant contact during the campaign, and it is increasingly apparent they were in fact coordinating their efforts,” said Max Bergmann, the director of the Moscow Project at the Center for American Progress. “That’s what collusion looks like.””


LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran


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Daily Kos: Front Pages From the Day After #TreasonSummit

The following is an excellent article written by AKALib on the Daily Kos website on July 17, 2018 titled “Front Pages From the Day After #TreasonSummit” and I quote:

Here are a few front pages today from publications around the world. The word “Treason” appears often; other words include poodle, mad, love, …

New York Daily News


.@realdonaldtrump derides reports with which he disagrees as “fake news,” then buys the Russian narrative hook, line, sinker, pole and boat. 

An early look at Tuesday’s front…

The Guardian


The Guardian front page, Tuesday 17 July 2018: ‘Nothing short of treasonous’. Trump accused over Putin talks

Chicago Sun-Times


Your Tuesday front page:

Mad about Vlad: Trump’s comments draw fire from Republicans: 

Viewpoints clash over South Shore police shooting: 

Read more at 

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Abby D. Phillip


A couple of brutal front page headlines for @realDonaldTrump this morning


Front cover of Finnish newspaper

Putin – 1
Trump -0

Rich Preston


President Trump strongly criticised in tomorrow’s editions of British newspapers following the meeting with President Putin. Here’s the front page of the @DailyMirror. “PUTIN’S POODLE”

These are from a few days ago —

Xavi Ruiz 🎗@xruiztru

👇🏽 Great front cover of this week’s Der Spiegel.

The National


Tomorrow’s front page: Scotland sends a message to Trump on a crazy day. Well done everybody 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿✊

Ezra 🌊 Levin


Churchill: I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.

Trump: Putin’s fine. He’s fine. We’re all fine. 


Tomorrow’s cover for the Daily Mirror…

View image on Twitter

Melanie Thompson@MelThompson2012

@DailyMirror newspaper cover page today. Yup, he is despised around the globe. A complete embarrassment. He’s doing everything he can to ruin the prestige of decent people all across America.😬 @realDonaldTrump


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Yahoo: Surely the Trump Administration Will Follow All the Rules When Stripping People of Citizenship

The following is an interesting article written by Jack Holmes of Esquire on the Yahoo website on July 5, 2018 titled “Surely the Trump Administration Will Follow All the Rules When Stripping People of Citizenship” and I quote:

“Surely the Trump Administration Will Follow All the Rules When Stripping People of Citizenship”

Jack Holmes


Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Esquire

Here’s a bit of dark poetry: just as Alan Dershowitz suggests his banishment from Martha’s Vineyard social circles is “McCarthyism,” the Trump regime breaks out a weapon last put to use in the Red Scare. That’s at least according to Columbia University history professor Mae Ngai, who joined NPR’s Ailsa Chang to put the administration’s new denaturalization task forcein context:

CHANG: Naturalization ceremonies carry with them a sense of permanence. They signify an end to an often long immigration process. But last month, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services started a task force to review cases where people may have lied in order to get citizenship. And now the administration says it could be denaturalizing potentially a few thousand people … Is what the Trump administration doing here new? I mean, is there historical precedent for devoting resources like this to trying to detect citizenship fraud?

NGAI: The last time the federal government tried to denaturalize citizens was during the McCarthy period. And they went after people who they were accusing of being Communists who were naturalized citizens. And they took away their citizenship and deported them. It wasn’t that many people because, actually, it’s not that easy to do. But that was the last time that there was a concerted effort. So it’s been…


NGAI: …Almost 75 years…


NGAI: …Since the government has tried to do it. And I think most people would say that the Red Scare, or the McCarthy period, was not the nation’s proudest moment.

Indeed! The Red Scare is actually on the Not The Nation’s Proudest Moment bingo card, alongside, say, Japanese internment. Someone will be shouting BINGO! any day now.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Essentially, while the government has always investigated when someone comes forward with a charge against a naturalized American citizen, this is the first time since Joe McCarthy we have a dedicated task force to try to ferret people out. As Jamelle Bouie put it very neatly in Slate, this is simply the latest attempt on the part of Republicans-before and, with a turbo charge, under this president-to prevent the browning of America, or at least the American electorate.

But perhaps the most immediately pressing issue is that this administration cannot be trusted to restrict the task force’s operations to investigating people who allegedly lied during the naturalization process. Trump’s White House has displayed a generalized hostility to immigration best summed up in its proposal to cut legal immigration in half. At the border, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has sought to criminalize asylum-seekers-who are pursuing a human right under international law and treaties to which the United States is a signatory-by preventing them from presenting themselves at official checkpoints and restricting the criteria for seeking asylum.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

And most precisely, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a pattern of arresting people without warrantsdenying them due process, and even accusing people of having gang affiliationswithout evidence in order to detain them. Clearly, this is not an administration whose respect for individual rights or domestic and international law outweighs its desire to remove Certain People from the country. It would be foolish to believe that will change once they start trying to strip people of citizenship.”


LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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Time: No Matter What Happens in Helsinki, Putin Has Already Won

The following is an excellent article written by Anna Arutunyan on the Time website on July 10, 2018 titled “No Matter What Happens in Helsinki, Putin Has Already Won” and I quote:



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July 10, 2018
Arutunyan is a senior analyst for Russia at Crisis Group and the author of The Putin Mystique.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has a flair for understated drama. When he met with Donald Trump last July, his cool gaze at the floor contrasted with the more animated gestures of the U.S. president. And so when the two meet again on Monday, Putin is unlikely to greet Trump with a bouquet of flowers as he did German Chancellor Angela Merkel in May. But the Helsinki summit will nonetheless be a contest of theatrical power projection—and it’s one that Putin has perhaps already won.

The game Putin plays is not so much about practicing diplomacy or striking deals; it is about optics, both at home and abroad. Trump often seems to be playing a similar game—but Putin is by far the more experienced player. The fact that a state summit—the first between the two—is happening at all allows Putin to portray himself to Russians as indispensable to the U.S. president in resolving the world’s crises. Russian state television will revel in showcasing the country’s leader—fresh from hosting the World Cup—on an equal footing with the most powerful man in the world.

Moscow’s foreign policy advisers believe Putin is highly unlikely to score concessions from Trump on any of the major conflicts in which the two countries are involved. In private correspondences, they dismiss rumors of a breakthrough on Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014 to U.S. and global fury; or of Trump pledging any meaningful support for Russia (re)joining the G-8, the club of industrialized nations from which it was expelled after the Crimea invasion; or of the two presidents striking a lasting deal on Syria.

Trump might be an atypical U.S. leader. He may even make statements suggesting he would recognize Russian’s seizure of Crimea. But most observers in Moscow accept that—on Russia at least—he is still constrained by a Congress and foreign policy establishment deeply suspicious of Putin.

Moreover, Russia and the US have diametrically opposed perspectives on Ukraine, and, indeed, on what the Kremlin genuinely views as its sovereign right to throw its weight around within its historic sphere of influence. This view, in many respects, underpinned both its annexation of Crimea and its incursion into eastern Ukraine, contributing toward a conflict that has claimed 10,000 lives. Indeed, Russian and U.S. officials close to bilateral talks on a potential peacekeeping force in eastern Ukraine—arguably the best, if slim, hope of resolving the conflict in that region—describe the talks in private conversations as though both sides are operating in different realities.

For now, nor does it appear likely that the two presidents will cut any meaningful deal on Syria. Trump may have little sympathy for what remains of the rebels fighting Bashar Assad, who is backed by Moscow. But Trump’s main ask on Syria would likely be for Russia to curtail Iran’s role on the ground. The Kremlin has previously agreed that all foreign forces should leave Syria, by which it means that Iranian and Russian forces would leave only when all other foreign forces—which range from jihadists to Turkish troops—do so too. The two presidents might repeat similar pledges next week. But such statements will have no impact on the ground. Russia has no interest in the departure of Iranian forces, which are critical to Assad’s ability to reconquer the whole country. And Moscow probably has only a very limited ability to get them to leave even if it wanted to.

So if, in principle, the Kremlin might wish for a grand bargain—a Yalta 2.0, as has long been the case—in which the U.S. would recognize the annexation of Crimea in return for Russian support against Iran in Syriain reality few Russian officials expect such a deal.

More likely is that Putin will look to get something else entirely out of Trump: the appearance of being the adult in the room. Trump’s pattern of incendiary and self-contradictory statements makes Putin look polished by comparison. That is just the image the Russian president wants to project. The choreography can work in many ways: get Trump to drop another offhand remark about recognizing Crimea’s annexation, stopping NATO exercises in Europe, or allowing Russia back into the G8. Any one of those would mean Putin will look to be playing the U.S. president. All the better if Trump makes statements about Eastern Europe or NATO that sow discord and confusion within Western alliances. Meanwhile, there’s little harm for Putin if Trump starts talking tough: Putin gets to look statesmanlike next to an unpredictable world leader who just contradicted himself.

Some agreement may well come out of the summit—a statement on Syria or pledges to deepen cooperation on counter-terrorism, for example. But such deals would be the type of token understandings that make Putin look conciliatory without committing to much.

There are many reasons why Putin relies on optics and power projection. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russians have felt palpable insecurity about the country’s status as a global power. Putin’s support at home hinges on his ability to project power abroad. Moscow’s haphazard meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, for instance, appears likely to have aimed at proving—with plausible deniability—that it could make life difficult for Hillary Clinton and undercutting the legitimacy of her win rather than necessarily delivering the White House to Trump.

The result? The Kremlin gets to present the U.S. as decayed and dysfunctional, while projecting itself at home and abroad as a force to be reckoned with—a potential fixer of problems that, more often than not, it helped create in the first place.

In private, Kremlin insiders say that Moscow prefers dealing with Republican presidents, who ordinarily prize realpolitik above liberal democratic values. Trump has proven to be neither an artist of the deal nor heavy on values. But at least Moscow can take advantage of the fact that whatever Trump is trying to do, Putin already looks better doing it.

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Daily Kos: Remember How Justice Kagan was Treated by Republicans in 2010 When Obama WASN’T Under Investigation?

The following is an excellent article written by Walter Einenkel on the Daily Kos website on July 9, 2018 titled “Remember How Justice Kagan was Treated by Republicans in 2010 When Obama WASN’T Under Investigation?” and I quote:


White Supremacist-in-Chief Donald Trump just nominated conservative white guy Brett Kavanaugh to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. The move serves two obvious purposes—only one of which is of any interest to Donald: 1) Kavanaugh will likely side in favor of forced-birther challenges to Roe v. Wade, and 2) Kavanaugh has written glowingly about how sitting presidents shouldn’t have to deal with petty problems like special investigations into serious charges of illegal misconduct. Trump could give a rat’s ass about abortion, having been pro-choice all the way up until he wasn’t—a little while before the Republican primary in 2016. And be aware: Kavanaugh was birthed in the unconstitutional shitshow that was the 2000 election, working in the George W. Bush campaign and later making his way into Bush’s White House and finally, after a lot of fighting, into a position on the D.C. Court of Appeals.

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Now cast your mind back: Remember in 2010, when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan was first nominated? The Republican Party, behind awful people like Sen. Mitch McConnell saw a chance to revitalize their base via their homophobia and misogyny. Here’s the CBSNews reporting on the upcoming “fight” the Republican Party was planning for Kagan:

Now, with opinion polls showing a weakened president and critical midterm elections looming — and with a steady stream of documents from past jobs showing Kagan taking predictably liberal positions — Republicans are poised for a fight.

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said on Sunday’s “Face the Nation” that Kagan has “serious deficiencies,” citing her lack of judicial experience and her positions on a number of social issues.

This was after President Obama was popularly elected and had a considerably higher approval rating for the first part of his tenure in office, than the dirtbag there now. Republicans made a big to-do about the thousands of emails released by the Clinton Library—now let’s just watch if the thousands of Kavanaugh emails in the George W. Bush Library will be released as well.

It took about three months between President Obama’s announcement until Kagan was confirmed by the Senate. And during that time, scam artists and bigots like Jeff Sessions and Mitch McConnell griped about Kagan for everything from her supposed lack of  “experience” to questioning whether or not she broke the law by banning military recruiters on the Harvard campus because of their homophobic service policies at the time.* 

McConnell has already emerged from his secret cave of one thousand sorrows to wring his hands and ask for “fairness” for Kavanaugh. Considering that McConnell’s greatest legacy will always be that he helped orchestrate one of the most massive overreaches in legislative power in the history of the country by stealing away the executive’s decision on the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Anton Scalia’s death, Mitch McConnell could care about as much about “fairness” as Donald Trump cares about the facts or the law.

If Sen. Chuck Schumer doesn’t have the stamina to stand truly strong for something, it’s time for him to step aside. Our country is at stake.

*She didn’t.”


LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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Daily Kos: Experts Now Rank the United States Among the World’s ‘Declining Democracies’

The following is an excellent, alarming article written by Hunter on the Daily Kos website on July 7, 2018 titled “Experts Now Rank the United States Among the World’s ‘Declining Democracies'” and I quote:

And here are the four people most directly responsible for that.

A new report on the state of the world’s democracies makes for some grim reading. Writing in the Washington Post, the authors say the study “shows that democracy’s decline is gaining momentum: One-third of the world’s population lives in a backsliding democracy,” and within that tally of declining democracies is the United States itself.

The outlook in the United States is especially dark, say authors Anna Luhrmann and Matthew Wilson, with experts’ ratings sliding downward in “precipitous and unprecedented” fashion.

Experts lowered their estimates of democracy in the United States because they began to be skeptical that the U.S. Congress will rein in executive overreach. Similarly, experts lost faith that the opposition party can contribute to overseeing, investigating or otherwise checking the majority party. The U.S. executive branch was assessed as showing less respect for the Constitution and compliance with the judiciary, two indicators that the judicial branch can restrain the executive.For all four indicators, the score for the United States declined. The downward trend in the United States is much worse than in other countries. In terms of government compliance with decisions of the Supreme Court, the United States used to rank among the top countries of the world — but has now declined to No. 48.

There seems little room to argue any of these things. It is self-evident that the Republican Congress has no interest in curtailing corruption within the Trump administration or, in fact, even allowing full investigation of those acts. They are steadfastly blocking opposition efforts to do so, and will apparently continue to do so regardless of what else federal investigators discover. And the Constitution, apparently, has been reduced to a petty slogan.

If there is good news it is that all of this could be reversed if Americans saw fit to boot the lackeys responsible for it. A Democratic House would almost certainly resume the investigative role that Republicans abandoned entirely, after winning a presidential election; we might even come to the conclusion that allowing foreign actors to run roughshod over our elections is something that perhaps ought to be prevented in the future. The larger problems are the role of the ultra-rich in singlehandedly funding whichever campaigns and laws they most desire and a national political press that is forever devoted to both-sidesing our political decay into smarming nothingness.

You can find the full report here and the authors’ summation here; you probably don’t want to read either too close to bedtime, if you can help it.”


LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen member and USAF Veteran

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AP: Life in Trump’s Cabinet: Perks, Pestering, Power, Putdowns

The following is an excellent article written by Jonathan Lemire, Catherine Lucey and Zeke Miller on the AP website on July 6, 2018 titled “Life in Trump’s Cabinet: Perks, Pestering, Power, Putdowns” and I quote:

“Life in Trump’s Cabinet: Perks, pestering, power, putdowns”

Jul. 06, 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross came in for an Oval Office tongue-lashing after he used a mundane soup can as a TV prop. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis got overruled by President Donald Trump’s announcement that a new “Space Force” is in the offing. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt caught a sharp admonition from Trump to “knock it off” after his ethics problems dominated cable television — and he was gone within three months.

Welcome to the Trump Cabinet, where broad opportunities to reshape the government and advance a conservative agenda come with everyday doses of presidential adulation, humiliation, perks and pestering. Sometimes all at roughly the same time.

Members of the president’s Cabinet have a measure of prestige and power. They can streak across the skies in Air Force One with Trump, act unilaterally to roll back regulations not to their liking and set policies with far-reaching implications for millions of Americans. But they also can quickly find themselves in a harsh spotlight when an administration policy comes under question.

With the issue of migrant children separated from their families dominating headlines, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was so determined to get a better handle on the 12,000 migrant children under his department’s care that he was up until 1 a.m. one night last week personally poring through cases in the operations center of the bunker-like HHS building at the foot of Capitol Hill.

The Cabinet members are lashed to a mercurial president who has been known to quickly sour on those working for him and who doesn’t shy from subjecting subordinates — many of them formerly powerful figures in their own rights — to withering public humiliation. Think Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a former senator who was labeled “beleaguered” early on by presidential tweet and who has since been repeatedly subjected to public criticism.

For all his bad press, Pruitt managed to last longer than many in Washington had expected. But on Thursday, Trump tweeted that Pruitt had resigned, adding that the EPA chief had done an outstanding job — “within the agency.” A senior administration official not authorized to discuss the situation publicly later said that Pruitt had been pushed by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to tender his resignation Thursday amid the mounting scandals.

Trump’s Cabinet, a collection of corporate heavyweights, decorated generals and influential conservatives, has been beset by regular bouts of turnover and scandal. A Cabinet member’s standing with Trump — who’s up, who’s down; who’s relevant, who’s not —is closely tied to how that person or their issue is playing in the press, especially on cable TV.

Over the last 16 months, that dynamic has resulted in a Cabinet with varying tiers of influence with the president. Though all 24 Cabinet members, including the vice president, can have the president’s ear at times, some have been able to consistently influence Trump behind the scenes and mostly retained his respect. Others have fended off — so far — a swarm of accusations of ethical violations and moved steadily forward enacting the president’s agenda. A third group has largely flown under the radar, their names out of the headlines and their jobs seemingly secure.

Trump, like many modern presidents, has consolidated power in the West Wing and largely judges his Cabinet members by how well they reflect upon him, according to nearly two dozen administration officials, outside advisers and lawmakers. Most of those interviewed for this account spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about private discussions.



One key measure of the effectiveness of Cabinet members has been their ability to manage up to the president — and manage their disappointment when he ignores their counsel.

Mike Pompeo, first as Trump’s CIA director and now as his secretary of state, has seemingly cracked that code.

During a classified briefing on economic assistance for one African nation, the then-CIA director whipped out an annotated map, pointing out where U.S. troops were located and showing how aid contributed to their counter-terrorism mission. One official in the room said Pompeo presented the map as though he had worked it up the night before, rather than as something produced by his teams of analysts, earning brownie points and a sympathetic response from the president.

Pompeo’s stock with the president ran deep as an early supporter. But as CIA director, he worked with the national security team to try to steer the unconventional president toward more conventional approaches. Their personal relationship grew as Pompeo attended nearly every presidential daily intelligence briefing he could — always bringing visual aids.

His predecessor as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, never clicked with the president and often voiced his objections in a passive-aggressive manner that infuriated the president, delivering retorts like “if you say so” and “you know best, sir,” according to the official. Tillerson was fired in March, months after word leaked that he had reportedly privately referred to Trump as “a moron.”

Other officials have also remained in close orbit around Trump, in part by lavishing frequent praise on the president both publicly and privately. Trump has remained fond of hard-charging Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, praising his combative briefings with the press. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Ross, whose spokeswoman on Thursday disputed the account that Trump spoke harshly to the secretary about the soup can appearance, also have largely remained in Trump’s good graces. The president attended Mnuchin’s Washington wedding last year and the treasury secretary has become a regular on the Sunday talk shows.

Administration officials believe the Cabinet member who has been most successful in managing Trump has been Mattis. The retired Marine general, thought of as a warrior monk for his academic mindset, is soft-spoken in his interactions with the president — often passing up the chance to speak in meetings — but his advice carries outsized weight.

Mattis is a frequent guest at White House lunches and dinners, a sign of his elevated status. He frames his suggestions to the president in terms of his expertise, and when Trump is leaning in a different direction calmly makes his case. White House officials have noticed that Trump sometimes later repeats historical military anecdotes that Mattis related to him — evidence the president was really listening.

But even Mattis has seen his influence wane in recent weeks — he opposed the Space Force plan before Trump announced it — as the president has grown less tolerant of dissenting viewpoints in the Oval Office.



Winding down a presidential monologue extolling the EPA for rolling back regulations and shrinking staff, Trump turned to Pruitt across the Oval Office to discuss one other matter.

“Knock it off,” Trump said at the end of the April meeting.

With that terse yet mild reprimand, Pruitt retained his job — for a few more months, as it turned out — despite the long run of negative stories he had generated for a series of questionable ethical moves. The incidents number more than a dozen, including renting a lobbyist’s Capitol Hill home at below-market rate, spending millions on security and travel, and using government staff to try to get his wife a fast-food chicken franchise.

Congressional Democrats, some influential Republicans and even much of the West Wing, including chief of staff John Kelly, had long urged Trump to fire Pruitt. But the president kept him on for months, believing that Pruitt’s effectiveness on the job outweighed his personal transgressions.

Pruitt was far from alone in drawing scrutiny for possible ethical violations. Ryan Zinke, the interior secretary, was accused of spending tens of thousands of dollars on office renovations and private flights. David Shulkin was fired from his post as veterans affairs secretary amid a mutiny from his own staff after an internal review found ethics violations related to his trip to Europe with his wife last summer.

Trump berated his first health and human services secretary, Tom Price, for a series of misstatements last year that the president felt was complicating the administration’s push to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, according to a former administration official. Price was later fired amid his own ethical scandal involving spending hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars on private travel.

All told, Trump has had more turnover of Cabinet-level positions than any president at this point in their tenure in the last 100 years.

But what has angered Trump more than the substance of the scandals are the bad images they produced, according to four White House officials and outside advisers. The president has complained to confidants that more members of his Cabinet “weren’t good on TV.” He fumed to one ally in the spring, at the height of the ethical questions surrounding Pruitt, Zinke and Housing and Urban Development head Ben Carson, that he was only seeing his Cabinet on TV for scandals and not for fulfilling campaign promises.

Trump has also complained that he wants to see more of them on cable television defending his administration and showcasing his accomplishments. In recent months, the White House has pushed Cabinet members to make more public shows of support: They were encouraged to tweet about Trump’s 500th day in office; were asked to stop by an opioid exhibit on the Mall; and were urged to show up at the annual congressional baseball game.

Zinke may have gone a bit overboard. He showcased his support for Trump by tweeting out a photo of himself in late June wearing socks with Trump’s face and the slogan “Make America Great Again.” He later deleted it after outside groups complained he was violating federal law by endorsing a political slogan.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, for her part, had an angry exchange with protesters on the campus of Georgetown University while defending her husband — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — and the president’s policy of separating migrant families at the border.

“Why don’t you leave my husband alone?” she demanded.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders plays down reports of tension between Trump and his Cabinet, saying the president typically talks to at least one member a day and now has a better sense of “what he wants and what his expectations are” from them.

“The president likes to engage,” Sanders said. “He likes to talk to his team. He likes to get their feedback. He likes to throw out ideas.”



Every Wednesday morning at 7 a.m., up to a dozen Cabinet members leave their staffs behind and quietly gather, often at the mammoth Department of Agriculture building just south of the National Mall.

There, they dive into Bible study. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Carson are among the regular attendees, and at times they are joined by Vice President Mike Pence and others.

The members rarely speak about the sessions, reflecting the low-key, keep-their-heads-down approach most have taken to their positions. Some have had boomlets of bad press — Carson over a $31,000 dining set ordered for his office, DeVos for a disastrous television interview in which she had trouble with basic facts about her department — but they have mostly avoided the devastating headlines and cable chyrons generated by the likes of Pruitt and Price.

Perry has told allies that he wants to stay in his lane and build relationships on Capitol Hill while frequently turning up in the West Wing — including popping up at key events, like Pompeo’s swearing-in — to get valuable face time with the president. The former Texas governor, who turned down a chance to succeed Shulkin at the VA, has taken pride in his lower profile, joking about how he doesn’t get bad press like some of his colleagues.

While many of the Cabinet members are collegial, there have been moments of strain between agencies. During the onslaught of heartbreaking images from the border as migrant families were separated, a quiet turf battle emerged among the Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services departments. Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, who had been on shaky ground with Trump for an increase of border crossings, later became the public face of the policy and was heckled at a Mexican restaurant.

Trump likes to take Cabinet secretaries along with him on Air Force One trips — in part to defray the costs for the White House, according to a former administration official. Past administrations, including Obama’s, used the same tactic.

The White House tries to hold Cabinet meetings every two weeks — the beginnings are open to the press — to foster better interaction, aides have said, but also to project the feel of a corporate boardroom with Trump presiding as America’s CEO and overseeing the nation’s business.

Those sessions, held more frequently than under Obama, have become a signature image of the Trump White House. Cabinet members, accomplished individuals in their own rights, take turns around a table praising the president in a manner reminiscent of “Dear Leader” sessions in authoritarian nations.

Chao in June 2017 said, “I want to thank you for getting this country moving again, and also working again.” Price: “I can’t thank you enough for the privilege that you’ve given me, and the leadership you’ve shown.” Mnuchin: “It’s been a great honor traveling with you around the country for the past year, and an even greater honor to be serving you on your Cabinet.”

Trump returned the favor last month at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, turning a meeting on the upcoming hurricane season into a storm of compliments.

—To Chao: “All you do is produce. You do it in a very quiet way and so effective and so incredible.”

—To Azar: “Alex, I’m very proud of what you’ve done. We’re going to have a great health care bill planned.”

—To Carson: “What you’re doing is great, Ben. That’s really inspirational. More than just brick and mortar.”

On it went, as Trump went around the room to shower all of the present Cabinet members with praise. All but one, that is.

“Thank you, Jeff. Thank you very much,” is all Trump said to his attorney general.



About a half-dozen members of Trump’s inner circle, including then-chief of staff Reince Priebus, then-chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner, were hurriedly summoned to the Oval Office on a chilly Friday afternoon in March 2017. Once they were inside, Trump erupted.

The day before, Sessions had announced his recusal from the Russia probe, blindsiding the president. Trump screamed at the staffers, according to one person with direct knowledge of the conversation, demanding to know how Sessions could be so “disloyal” while musing that he should fire the attorney general, who had been one of his earliest and most loyal supporters.

From that moment forward, Sessions became a singular figure in Trump’s Cabinet. No Cabinet member in recent memory has been the target of so many broadsides from his own boss yet has still managed to hang onto his job.

In an onslaught of tweets and interviews, Trump has tormented Sessions publicly, while in private often refusing even to speak his name, sometimes just referring to him simply as “one of my attorneys.” He unloads to confidants whenever Sessions appears on the TV in his private West Wing kitchen or his office on Air Force One. And he has accused the Justice Department of conspiring against him.

But to his deep frustration, Trump has been restrained from firing Sessions, for at least as long as special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe continues. The attorney general has support from conservatives and Republican senators, and Trump’s confidants, including attorney Rudy Giuliani, believe that dismissing Sessions would upend the special counsel’s investigation.

Sessions, for his part, has largely been silent in the face of Trump’s attacks, his defense limited to a statement defending the department’s “integrity and honor” and a highly visible dinner with his two top lieutenants in February that was interpreted by some as a sign of a solidarity pact in case the president moved to fire one, or all, of them.

The attorney general has told allies that the post is his dream job and he aims to keep pushing his agenda, including a hawkish immigration stance, even if it means coming under fire from the White House. Earlier this year, to mark the one-year anniversary of his confirmation, his senior aides gave him a gift: a bulletproof vest emblazoned with his name.


Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Ken Thomas, Jill Colvin, Sadie Gurman, Juliet Linderman, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Matthew Daly contributed to this report.


Follow Lemire on Twitter at, Lucey at and Miller at


This story has been corrected to show Chao had an angry exchange with protesters on the campus of Georgetown University, not outside a restaurant.”


LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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