Posts Tagged ‘Trump Administration’

Scott Pruitt Slithers Out of Washington

July 5, 2018

Scott Pruitt Slithers Out of Washington

EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt resigned on Thursday, maybe because of the stern yet civil scolding he got from a sixth-grade teacher on Monday. More likely it was due to a mean tweet by Fox host Laura Ingraham. This is the Trump Administration, so the 13 active investigations into Mr. Pruitt’s conduct don’t count.

Lest you think the environment will now be saved and EPA will emerge from the swamp, the agency is now run by coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler. Fun fact: coal is the product of 300 million-year-old swamps.

More:

“Trump EPA head steps down after wave of ethics, management scandals,” Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post

“E.P.A. Chief Scott Pruitt Resigns Under a Cloud of Ethics Scandals,” Coral Davenport, New York Times

“Scott Pruitt resigns: Trump’s scandal-ridden EPA chief steps down,” Oliver Milman and Sabrina Siddiqui, The Guardian

“The scandals that led to Scott Pruitt’s resignation,” Haley Britzky, Axios

“Local Mom Who Told Scott Pruitt To Resign Reacts To His Departure,” Rachel Kurzius, DCist

“Trump Defends Pruitt Until the Very End,” Maria Mendez, Roll Call

“Pruitt Survived By Praising Trump, Who In Turn Fired Pruitt Without Speaking To Him,” Nicole LaFond, TPM Livewire

“Scott Pruitt’s parting words to Trump: you are president ‘because of God’s providence,’”Tara Isabella Burton, Vox 

“How things will (and won’t) change at EPA with Scott Pruitt gone,” Amy Harder, Axios

“Scott Pruitt’s replacement Andrew Wheeler could be even more dangerous for the EPA,” Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz

“Scott Pruitt is gone. His successor is already feeling the heat.” Dino Grandoni, Washington Post

(more…)

White House Staff Vacancies

June 14, 2018

White House Staff Vacancies

The understaffed Trump White House keeps losing employees. There’s been a steady exodus ( Steven Cheung is the latest), and now we hear talk that Sarah Huckabee SandersRaj Shah, and even John Kelly are eyeing the exit.

But it’s getting harder to find experienced people to work in the Trump Administration. That’s why the White House HR Department is going to be at a Capital Hill Job Fair on Friday. Greetings, interns!

More:

“Trump White House advertises at a Hill job fair amid staff exodus,” Annie Karni, Politico

Related:

“Nation Not Sure How Many Ex-Trump Staffers It Can Safely Reabsorb,” The Onion

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Steve Mnuchin Inadvertently Tells the Truth

April 9, 2018
Steve Mnuchin Inadvertently Tells the Truth

Steve Mnuchin and wife  view the tax refunds of average Americans.

“… government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites,” admits U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Mr. Mnuchin was referring to the Russian government, but we fail to see any distinction from the way he and other Trump Administration billionaires operate in the USA. “Oligarchy” is not just a Russian word.

And the world’s oligarchs are globalized:

“U.S. sanctions ensnare Russians with ties to Trump world,” John Hudson and Paul Sonne, Washington Post

“Mueller’s team questioning Russian oligarchs,” Kara Scannell and Shimon Prokupecz, CNN

“NRA’s ‘Man in Moscow’ Hit by New U.S. Sanctions,” Daily Beast

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Scott Pruitt’s DC Bargain Bedroom Guide

April 6, 2018

Scott Pruitt's DC Bargain Bedroom Guide

Let’s say you were an energy state Attorney General who sued the EPA 13 times to reduce clean air restrictions on oil, gas, and coal use. You’d expect energy companies to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to your election campaigns, even in 2014, when you ran unopposed. What you might not expect is for Donald Trump to name you EPA secretary. But he did, Scott Pruitt. Now you’ve got to stay in DC, at least when you can’t jet somewhere else.

Scott Pruitt doesn’t mind spending taxpayer dollars on first-class air travel, a custom soundproof phone booth for his office, dubious raises for his appointees, or a full-time security detail, but spending his own money when he’s in Washington? No way. Mr. Pruitt is the poorest member of the Trump Cabinet, so of course he accepted a sweetheart deal on a Capitol Hill condo owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist, $50 a night, at least half the AirBnB rate for the neighborhood.

Ethical lapses may mean Scott Pruitt is on the way out, but not before he’s destroyed his agency and America’s environmental safeguards.

More:

“Pruitt Had a $50-a-Day Condo Linked to Lobbyists. Their Client’s Project Got Approved,” Eric Lipton, New York Times

“Scott Pruitt’s D.C. Lobbyist Landlord Also Funded His Oklahoma Attorney General Campaign,” Sam Stein and Lachlan Markay, Daily Beast

“EPA chief Pruitt joined by family in condo tied to lobbyist ‘power couple,'” John Santucci, Matthew Mosk, and Stephanie Ebbs, ABC News

“EPA ethics official says he didn’t have all the facts on Pruitt’s lease,” Cristina Alesci, CNN

“5 lies Scott Pruitt told this week about his mounting scandals,” Umair Irfan, Vox

“Scott Pruitt’s defenses are crumbling,” Aaron Blake, Washington Post

“Scott Pruitt Stiffed Taxpayers for Around $3 Million in 24/7 Security and Expensive Flights,” Tom McKay, Gizmodo

“Top EPA staff who criticized Scott Pruitt were either demoted or reassigned,” Kyla Mandel, Think Progress

“Top Pruitt aide resigns amid growing scandal at EPA,” Katherine Faulders, John Santucci, Trish Turner, and Stephanie Ebbs, ABC News

“Inside the EPA: ‘It’s just a slow-motion train wreck,’” Emily Holden, Politico

“Chief of Staff Advised a Resistant Trump to Fire the E.P.A. Chief,” Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Lisa Friedman, New York Times

“Let’s Meet Scott Pruitt’s Potential Replacements,” Brian Kahn, Earther

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Guilty: Kellyanne Conway Violated the Hatch Act

March 16, 2018

Guilty: Kellyanne Conway Violated the Hatch Act

The federal U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) recently ruled that Presidential Counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act twice, both times while appearing on television in her official capacity.

“In the first interview, Conway advocated against one Senate candidate and gave an implied endorsement of another candidate. In the second interview, she advocated for the defeat of one Senate candidate and the election of another candidate. Both instances constituted prohibited political activity under the Hatch Act and occurred after Conway received significant training on Hatch Act prohibitions ….” — OSC

That “significant training” was mandated after an earlier televised ethical breach, when Ms. Conway shilled for Ivanka Trump products during an interview on Fox News.

Special Counsel Henry Kerner sent his office’s findings to President Donald Trump “for appropriate disciplinary action.” As a presidential appointee, it is up to the president to decide on Ms. Conway’s punishment, so naturally she received a firm executive shrug. A career federal employee would be terminated for this. “The White House cannot continue to have one standard for the federal workforce generally and a lower standard for appointees who are close to this President,” observed Walter Shaub, former Director of the Office of Government Ethics.

More:

“Kellyanne Conway found to have violated Hatch Act,” John Bowden, The Hill

“Kellyanne Conway broke the law. The White House shrugs.” Washington Post editorial

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Gina Haspel Behind CIA Water Torture, Evidence Destruction

March 15, 2018

Gina Haspel Behind CIA Water Torture, Evidence Destruction

President Donald Trump has nominated CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to be the next CIA Director, replacing Mike Pompeo. Ms. Haspel would be the first woman to head the intelligence agency, but her Senate confirmation is in doubt. Gina Haspel was involved in the CIA torture program at the “Cat’s Eye” secret prison in Thailand in 2002, and authorized the destruction of recordings of the brutal interrogations in a 2005 cover-up.

While those activities put her in good stead in the Bush-era CIA, and Mr. Trump believes “torture works” even though the facts say otherwise, Ms. Haspel’s confirmation hearings will be contentious. In the Senate, Republican John McCain (R-AZ), who was subjected to torture while a Vietnam POW, has some tough questions for Gina Haspel, and Rand Paul (R-TN) will not vote for  a nominee who “took joyful glee at someone who is being tortured.” So far, Ron Wyden, (D-OR) a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is the first Democratic Senator to flatly oppose the Haspel nomination because of the nominee’s involvement in the now-outlawed “enhanced interrogation techniques.” If the nomination moves forward, expect strenuous interrogation in the Senate.

Gina Haspel’s CIA torture program included several “enhanced interrogation techniques,” but we expect President Trump to repeat his claim that waterboarding isn’t torture. Look it up. Waterboarding is considered torture by the U.S. Army Field Manualinternational law, and U.N. Treaty. Many authorities believe waterboarding is forbidden under Title 18 of the U.S. legal code.

More:

“Gina Haspel, Trump’s CIA director pick, oversaw the torture of dozens of people,” Alex Ward, Vox

“The CIA’s new nominee director Gina Haspel once ran a torture site and destroyed evidence,” Max de Haldevang, Quartz

“Haspel, poised to become first female CIA chief, ran controversial ‘black site’ prison,” Critiano Lima, Politico

“Gina Haspel, Trump’s Pick for CIA Director, Ran a Black Site for Torture,” Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

“‘She Should Be in Jail’—Rights Groups Rally to Stop Torture Overseer Turned Trump CIA Pick Gina Haspel,” Spencer Ackerman, Daily Beast

Washington Breaks Out the ‘Just Following Orders’ Nazi Defense for CIA Director-Designate Gina Haspel,” Jon Schwarz, The Intercept

Related:

“Trump’s CIA Pick Took Part in Silencing Torture Suspect,”  Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

“German NGO seeks arrest warrant for Donald Trump’s deputy CIA director,” Deutsche Welle

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Trump White House: Exit Only

March 14, 2018

Trump White House Staff Stampedes for the Exit

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was dismissed over Twitter. Over three dozen Trump staffers that have resigned, been fired, or been reassigned since Trump took office, an attrition rate of 43%, more than five times the rate of recent administrations. One-third of the White House staff has left. Add to that the countless holdover appointees who have left and the career diplomats and civil servants who escaped the chaos, and you have a government that’s been hollowed out. And you can guess the kind of people who would want to work for such a capricious and studiously uniformed (and uninformable) Chief Executive.

And remember, Trump only fired 15 people each year on The Apprentice.

(more…)

Jared Kushner Is In Mexico for Spring Break

March 8, 2018

Jared Kushner Is In Mexico for Spring Break

Jared Kushner, Senior White House Advisor, is in Mexico today to meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto and Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray about security, immigration and trade. Mr. Kushner knows all about security, having just had his Top Secret security clearance revoked, and knows about immigration from selling U.S. EB-5 visas to wealthy foreign investors. Jared Kushner learned about foreign trade by marrying Chinese shmata importer Ivanka Trump.

Presidents Trump and Peña Nieto were scheduled to meet in Washington, but Mr. Peña Nieto canceled his DC trip after a phone call with Mr. Trump, who continues to demand Mexican money for a border wall and menace the NAFTA agreement. The U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, career diplomat Roberta S. Jacobson, who has announced her May 1 resignation, was not invited to Kushner’s Mexican meetings.

More:

“Kushner to visit Mexico after Trump tirades, testy phone call,” Ana Isabel Martinez, Reuters

“Jared Kushner to Meet Mexico President Despite Losing Top-Secret Security Clearance,” Jessica Kwong, Newsweek

Updates:

“Kushner Meets With Mexican President, Underscoring Shift in U.S. Diplomacy,” Azam Ahmed and Nicholas Casey, New York Times

“Kushner meets with top officials in Mexico amid strained relations,” By Joshua Partlow, Washington Post

Related:

“Uneasy US-Mexico relationship will survive ambassador’s resignation — but just barely,” Pamela K. Starr, The Conversation

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Civil Rights Cases To Be Scaled Back Under Betsy DeVos

January 22, 2018

Civil Rights Cases To Be Scaled Back Under Betsy DeVos

“The Education Department wants to narrow the scope of civil rights investigations at schools, focusing on individual complaints rather than systemic problems, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press.

Under the Obama administration, when a student complained of discrimination in a particular class or school, the education agency would examine the case but also look at whether the incident was part of a broader, systemic problem that needs to be fixed.

Proposed revisions to the department’s civil rights procedures, distributed last week among civil rights officials at the department, remove the word ‘systemic’ from the guidelines.”

— Education Department considers narrowing civil rights work, Maria Danilova, AP

As you may recall, Candice E. Jackson, appointed by Secretary DeVos to run Education’s Civil Rights office, first gained notoriety as a Stanford student when she complained that she had suffered discrimination because she is white. Who better to reverse Civil Rights progress than someone who claimed “reverse discrimination?”

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Image (“Civil Rights Office Renamed”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Ben Carson at HUD: Demolition By Neglect

August 25, 2017

Ben Carson at HUD: Demolition By Neglect

Retired neurosurgeon and noted pyramid expert Ben Carson, President Trump’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has a perfect record at HUD — he’s done absolutely nothing. Perhaps he thinks U.S. cities already have enough affordable housing and healthy economies. HUD is also charged with enforcing the Fair Housing Act, which Dr. Carson has diagnosed as “communist.”

But President Trump isn’t making Dr. Carson run HUD all by himself. He’s appointed Eric Trump’s wedding planner to run the federal housing office in New York City. Coincidentally, Donald Trump himself is part-owner of Brooklyn’s Starrett City, the nation’s largest subsidized housing complex, which earns him millions.

More:

“Ben Carson is dangerous for HUD. He got the job anyway because Trump has normalized incompetence,” Jumaane D. Williams, Quartz

Related:

“The impact of income inequality on rental affordability: An empirical study in large American metropolitan areas,” Hongwei Dong, Urban Studies

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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