Categories for A- Trump As President

13,546. 2/22/2018

HHS/NOMINATIONS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Indian Health Service has withdrawn from consideration for the job, people familiar with the matter said.
The move by Robert Weaver, an insurance broker, comes after The Wall Street Journal published two articles earlier this year in which former colleagues alleged he had in some cases exaggerated his work experience and left a former employer in financial disarray… Mr. Weaver, 39 years old, a member of the Quapaw tribe of Oklahoma, was nominated to lead the agency in October.
The Indian Health Service, which provides care for more than two million Native Americans, hasn’t had a permanent leader since 2015. It has endured a series of crises over poor treatment of patients. Tribal lobbyists and advocates said they had heard rumors that the nominee had backed out starting last weekend. For some, the first confirmation came Wednesday [2-21-18]:The agency’s current acting director, Michael Weahkee, disclosed that Mr. Weaver had withdrawn to tribal leaders who were attending a meeting that afternoon of an IHS advisory panel in Reno, Nev., according to a person who was there…
An IHS spokeswoman declined to comment. Mr. Weaver didn’t respond to a request for comment.”

-Dan Frosch and Christopher Weaver, “Trump’s Nominee for Indian Health Post Withdraws,” The Wall Street Journal online, Feb. 22, 2018 10:53am

13,545. 2/22/2018

2A/CRISIS/GUNS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “President Donald Trump on Thursday morning called for arming select, highly trained, ‘weapons talented’ teachers to thwart mass school shootings, arguing it would deter would-be ‘sicko’ shooters.
Mr. Trump outlined the plan a day earlier, while talking to students and parents at a White House event aimed at coming up with solutions to school gun violence. Following the shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school last week that killed 17 people, Mr. Trump has been rolling out ideas for preventing such tragedies, including stepping up gun background checks and banning ‘bump stock’ devices that turn certain firearms into automatic weapons. He also wants to stop designating schools ‘gun free zones’ so that properly trained teachers and coaches can carry concealed weapons and fire back at a school shooter…
Mr. Trump tweeted that he favors other measures to curb gun violence, including ‘comprehensive background checks’ that take into account a gun buyer’s mental health and raising the age to 21 for the purchase of certain firearms.
The president also praised the National Rifle Association, the foremost opponent of gun-control measures and a powerful fundraising and political organizing group. The NRA spent more than $30 million helping Mr. Trump win the 2016 election.”

-Peter Nicholas, “Trump Renews Call for Arming Select, Trained Teachers to Deter ‘Sicko’ Shooters,” The Wall Street Journal online, Feb. 22, 2018 10:25am

13,543. 2/22/2018

GUNS/NRA/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “President Donald Trump called the leaders of the National Rifle Association ‘Great People and Great American Patriots’ on Thursday [2-22-18] as the gun lobbyist faces a wave of backlash after last week’s deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
The president, who vowed to ‘come through’ for the NRA at its annual conference last year, said he believed the organization would ‘do the right thing’ in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a gunman killed 17 and injured more than a dozen…
On Wednesday, Trump expressed support for measures at odds with the NRA’s legislative agenda during a listening session at the White House with Stoneman Douglas students, gun control advocates, D.C.-area education officials and others. He vowed that his administration would be ‘very strong’ on age requirements for gun sales of assault weapons, a measure the NRA said in a statement it opposed.
In a Thursday morning Twitter spree, Trump pledged to push ‘Comprehensive Background Checks’ and end the sale of bump stocks, the gun accessory used in the deadly Las Vegas shooting. He also emphasized the need to improve mental health.
But at Wednesday’s listening session, Trump also voiced support for measures previously promoted by the major gun-rights lobbying organization, including backing ‘concealed carry’ by some teachers and trained officials on school campuses.
The president received the endorsement of the NRA during the 2016 presidential campaign.”

-Cristiano Lima, “Trump praises NRA leaders as ‘great American patriots’,” Politico, Feb. 22, 2018 10:03am

13,538. 2/21/2018

BORDER/DHS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “Border Patrol officers are working without permission on private property and setting up checkpoints up to 100 miles away from the border under a little-known federal law that is being used more widely in the Trump administration’s aggressive crackdown on illegal immigration.
In Texas, a rancher has accused the Border Patrol of trespassing after he said he found a surveillance camera the agency placed on his property. In New Hampshire, border officers working with state officials conducted what the American Civil Liberties Union described as illegal drug searches after residents were arrested at immigration checkpoints set up on a major interstate highway. One of the checkpoints was set up just before a local marijuana festival. And recently in Florida, New York and Washington State, Border Patrol officers have been criticized for boarding buses and trains to question riders — mostly American citizens — about their immigration status.
Trump administration officials defend the government’s decades-old authority to search people and property, even without a warrant, far from the border. They call it a vital part of preventing weapons, terrorists and other people from illegally entering the United States.
But officials conceded that some of the searches — particularly those aboard Greyhound buses or Amtrak trains on domestic routes — had increased since the Obama administration. And under President Trump, field supervisors have regained the authority to order the searches, instead of officials at Border Patrol headquarters in Washington.”

-Ron Nixon, “Under Trump, Border Patrol Steps Up Searches Far From the Border,” The New York Times online, Feb. 21, 2018

13,536. 2/21/2018

JEFF SESSIONS/JUSTICE DEPARTMENT/OBAMA ADMIN/RUSSIA/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “President Donald Trump on Wednesday [2-21-18] renewed his public pressure on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, suggesting the Justice Department should be looking at the Obama administration as it probes possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia… Mr. Sessions, who advised Mr. Trump during the 2016 campaign, has repeatedly come under fire from the president after having recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation last year. That decision led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, after Mr. Trump fired James Comey as Federal Bureau of Investigation director last May. That special counsel’s probe, which is examining Russian interference in the 2016 election and any links to the Trump campaign, has ensnared several top Trump campaign associates…
It also wasn’t clear what Mr. Trump was suggesting the Obama administration didn’t do about Russian election meddling. Less than a month before he left office, then-President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia related to its work in 2016. The State Department expelled what it described as 35 intelligence operatives from the U.S., and the administration imposed asset freezes and travel bans on Russian officials. As that was happening, members of the incoming Trump administration were working to undermine the impact of those sanctions, according to court documents.”

-Julie Bykowicz and Peter Nicholas, “Trump Again Presses Jeff Sessions Over Russia Probe,” The Wall Street Journal online, Feb. 21, 2018 10:14pm

13,529. 2/21/2018

CLIMATE CHANGE/NOMINATIONS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The Trump administration is considering a North Carolina regulator who questions mainstream climate science to be the next White House environmental adviser, just weeks after withdrawing a previous nominee who held similar views.
Donald van der Vaart, the former secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, said in a telephone interview that he had been in discussions with the White House for several positions in recent months, most recently to possibly lead the Council on Environmental Quality, which is responsible for coordinating federal environmental policy.
In the interview, Mr. van der Vaart expressed skepticism about the extent to which humans have contributed to climate change, a view that puts him at odds with scientific findings and echoes the views of other senior administration officials. He also expressed a willingness to challenge the legal foundation of federal climate-change policy, the 2009 Environmental Protection Agency decision known as the ‘endangerment finding,’ which declares that greenhouse gases are harmful to human health and must be regulated…
Ms. White declined to discuss either her appearance before the committee or Mr. Carper’s video compilation. The Texas Public Policy Foundation, where Ms. White works as a senior fellow, also declined to comment, as did the White House.”

-Lisa Friedman, “New Candidates Emerge for Trump’s Top Environmental Adviser,” The New York Times online, Feb. 21, 2018

13,528. 2/21/2018

2A/CRISIS/GUNS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “President Donald Trump has spent a week grappling with the school shooting that left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida, and Wednesday [2-21-18], he finally found his own way to respond, playing host on live television to dozens of grieving parents and students directly affected by a spate of shootings that have rocked the country.
For about an hour, the president moderated a frank and wide-ranging discussion among families from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Sandy Hook Elementary, Columbine High School and local Washington schools. On policy matters, the participants represented a range of views, with two participants sharply disagreeing over whether to impose greater restrictions on gun purchases and whether school staff should be armed.
Since the shooting, the president has been looking for a way to take action on guns in response to cries from gun-control advocates and emotional students, whose images have been plastered across television screens around the clock, without alienating his pro-gun base, which he courted with promises to support the Second Amendment… The conversation also provided a forum for grieving parents to air raw emotions and confront some of the leaders they say have failed them…
The White House said that Pollack, who was accompanied by his wife and two sons, decided to participate in the listening session after meeting privately with the president.”

-Eliana Johnson and Cristiano Lima, “Amid student anger, Trump hosts live White House special on gun violence,” Politico, Feb. 21, 2018 09:28pm

13,527. 2/21/2018

FOREIGN POLICY/CHINA/PAKISTAN/SAUDI ARABIA/TURKEY/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “Saudi Arabia joined Turkey and China in a move to block a U.S.-led attempt this week to place Pakistan on an international terror-financing watch list, according to officials involved in the process, in a rare disagreement between Riyadh and the Trump administration.
Saudi Arabia’s move on behalf of Pakistan came just days after Islamabad said it would send more than 1,000 troops to the Gulf kingdom, which has expanded its military posture in the region since its 2015 intervention in Yemen’s civil war.
A U.S. effort to reverse the decision on the watch list was under way Wednesday [2-21-18] at a meeting in Paris of the Financial Action Task Force, a secretive international body that monitors countries’ efforts to fight terror financing and money-laundering, according to the officials involved in the process.
The officials said the U.S. effort, which included pressure on the Saudis, raised the possibility of a fresh vote on action against Pakistan as soon as Thursday. The Pakistanis were scrambling to shore up support.
The Trump administration, angry with what it sees as inadequate efforts by Islamabad to combat terror groups, has sought to ratchet up pressure on Pakistan. Last month it said it was withholding $2 billion in security aid until it sees much stronger action against militants. U.S. officials also accuse Pakistan’s military of supporting some jihadist groups as proxies against neighboring India and Afghanistan.
Pakistan denies those accusations and says there are no terrorist sanctuaries within its territory.”

-Saeed Shah and Ian Talley, “Saudi Arabia Stymies U.S. Over Pakistan Terror List,” The Wall Street Journal online, Feb. 21, 2018 07:54pm

13,526. 2/21/2018

CRISIS/GUNS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “President Donald Trump heard emotional stories Wednesday [2-21-18] from people affected by the nation’s deadliest school shootings, and it appears he had an assist in responding to some of the powerful testimony.
In a photo from the event taken by Getty Images photographer Chip Somodevilla, the President is holding a piece of White House stationery with five discussion points written in black marker.
The visible points include prompts such as ‘1. What would you most want me to know about your experience?’ ‘2. What can we do to help you feel safe?’ and ‘5. I hear you.’
Trump didn’t appear to use the visible prompts, but he did cast a tender tone during the event, saying he grieved for those affected.
He was briefed by White House officials before participating in the listening and did not use a teleprompter during the event.
‘We’re fighting hard for you and we will not stop,’ Trump said. ‘I just grieve for you, I feel so — to me, there could be nothing worse than what you’ve gone through.’
He continued, ‘Thank you for pouring out your hearts because the world is watching and we’re going to come up with a solution.’ “

-Betsy Klein, “Trump’s note card for Parkland shooting discussion: ‘I hear you’,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Feb. 21, 2018 07:36pm

13,523. 2/21/2018

FOREIGN POLICY/NATO/TURKEY/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “Five months ago, President Donald Trump hailed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a friend and said the two North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies had never been closer.
But Mr. Trump’s optimistic view masked a more complicated reality: Turkey quickly has become one of the Trump administration’s most vexing relationships. Relations between the two countries, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson conceded last week, are at a ‘crisis point.’ And there appears to be no clear road map for the two countries to overcome their differences.
The Trump administration has embarked on a new campaign to try to repair ties and pull Turkey out of its deepening alliances with Russia and Iran. As part of that, senior U.S officials including Mr. Tillerson, National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, have held intensive talks with Turkish leaders in recent days as they try to persuade Mr. Erdogan to step back from his warming relations with Moscow and Tehran… The U.S. wants Turkey on its side as it steps up efforts to push Iran and its allies out of Syria. And it is worried that Russia is making progress in dividing NATO by selling advanced anti-missile defenses to Turkey.
Turkish officials declined to comment Wednesday [2-21-18], but the U.S. and Turkey agreed over the weekend to form new working groups on key issues to see if they can bridge their differences.”

-Dion Nissenbaum, “U.S. Moves to Halt Turkey’s Drift Toward Iran and Russia,” The Wall Street Journal online, Feb. 21, 2018 03:12pm

13,522. 2/21/2018

FBI/GOP/GUNS/NRA/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “President Donald Trump’s tentative embrace of a narrow background-checks bill is about to hit a towering hurdle: members of his own party. The White House is signaling support for a bipartisan bill that would enhance reporting of violent criminals to the FBI’s background-checks database in order to stop them from buying firearms. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) is trying to round up support for it along with the White House — a formidable duo from a party that typically shuns any talk of stricter gun measures.
But House conservatives are unwilling to sign on, unless the measure is coupled with so-called ‘concealed-carry’ legislation backed by the National Rifle Association. Combining the two ideas would have the net effect of loosening gun controls.
The House in December passed a bill that yoked the pair of proposals. Before the vote, House GOP leaders promised conservatives that they would not decouple the background-checks bill from the concealed-carry language, according to four leadership and conservative sources familiar with the whip effort.
That sets up the possibility of a clash between House and Senate Republicans. Trump will likely have to decide how hard he wants to push for the standalone background-checks bill, at the risk of antagonizing his pro-gun base and GOP allies in the House… The House Freedom Caucus has sent a warning shot to leaders before the debate heats up.”

-Rachael Bade and Elana Schor, “Trump on course for clash with House GOP over gun control,” Politico, Feb. 21, 2018 12:34pm

13,512. 2/20/2018

FBI/GUNS/RUSSIA/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/TRUMP PEOPLE: “White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tried to finesse a weekend tweet from President Donald Trump blaming the FBI’s Russia investigation for missing a tip about the Florida shooting, saying the agency should not focus on a ‘hoax in terms of investigating the Trump campaign.’…
Sanders, speaking to reporters Tuesday in her first briefing since the shooting, said the President wasn’t saying ‘necessarily’ that the Russia investigation was responsible for the FBI missing the signs on the Florida shooter.
‘I think he was speaking not necessarily that is the cause. I think we all have to be aware that the cause of this was a deranged individual that made a decision to take the lives of 17 other people,’ Sanders said. ‘That is the responsibility of the shooter, certainly not the responsibility of anybody else.’
She added: ‘I think he is making the point that we would like our FBI agencies to not be focused on something that is clearly a hoax in terms of investigating the Trump campaign.'”

-Dan Merica, “Sanders says Trump wasn’t blaming Florida shooting on FBI Russia investigation,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Feb. 20, 2018 06:07pm

13,511. 2/20/2018

HEALTHCARE/OBAMACARE(ACA)/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The Trump administration on Tuesday [2-20-18] released a proposal that would allow for the proliferation of less-comprehensive, cheaper health plans restricted under the Affordable Care Act, marking one of the most significant efforts by Republicans to roll back the Obama-era health law.
The proposed rule would loosen restrictions on short-term insurance policies, which are low-cost plans that have fewer benefits and limited consumer protections. Such plans can now only be carried for 90 days, and the new proposal would allow them to extend for a year. The plans are often sold only to people who qualify as healthy and they may have annual limits on the amount of care they will cover. The plans don’t have to cover people with pre-existing conditions, for example, and insurers can charge higher premiums based on a consumer’s health status. They also don’t have to include benefits mandated by ACA plans such as prescription-drug coverage.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters that ‘expanding options for more affordable, individual insurance’ is one of his top priorities… The proposal marks the latest Republican-led effort to roll back the ACA after GOP lawmakers in Congress failed to repeal it last year. Congressional Republicans ended the ACA’s penalty on people who don’t have health coverage.”

-Stephanie Armour, “Health Proposal Would Loosen Limits on Short-Term Insurance,” The Wall Street Journal online, Feb. 20, 2018 01:55pm

13,508. 2/20/2018

FAKE NEWS/MEDIA/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/WOMEN: “A woman I don’t know and, to the best of my knowledge, never met, is on the FRONT PAGE of the Fake News Washington Post saying I kissed her (for two minutes yet) in the lobby of Trump Tower 12 years ago. Never happened! Who would do this in a public space with live security….cameras running. Another False Accusation. Why doesn’t @washingtonpost report the story of the women taking money to make up stories about me? One had her home mortgage paid off. Only @FoxNews so reported…doesn’t fit the Mainstream Media narrative.”

-Donald Trump, Twitter.com, Feb. 20, 2018 10:16am and 10:29am

13,503. 2/20/2018

2016 ELECTION/OBAMA/VOTING/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: ” ‘There is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections, there’s no evidence that that has happened in the past or that it will happen this time, and so I’d invite Mr. Trump to stop whining and make his case to get votes.’ ….The President Obama quote just before election. That’s because he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win and he didn’t want to ‘rock the boat.’ When I easily won the Electoral College, the whole game changed and the Russian excuse became the narrative of the Dems.”

-Donald Trump, Twitter.com, Feb. 20, 2018 07:37am and 07:46am

13,501. 2/20/2018

FOREIGN POLICY/NUCLEAR ENERGY/SAUDI ARABIA/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The Trump administration is pursuing a deal to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia despite the kingdom’s refusal to accept the most stringent restrictions against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, U.S. officials say. Saudi Arabia’s nuclear energy ambitions could open a new market worth tens of billions of dollars, drawing countries including Russia, South Korea and China to compete for the business. Administration officials consider it too important to overlook, especially when the U.S. nuclear power industry is on the decline.
But Saudi Arabia’s resistance to the toughest proliferation controls—a ban on enriching uranium or reprocessing spent fuel—already is stirring concern among U.S. lawmakers, who must review any accord to transfer U.S. nuclear technology, known as a 123 agreement… The impending debate has confronted the administration with a dilemma: If it lowers standards in the hope of securing the Saudi deal it will spur criticism about its commitment to fighting proliferation.
Critics of reducing standards say it will send a signal at a time more countries across the volatile region aspire to acquire nuclear technology. But supporters of a deal with Saudi Arabia argue there are other ways to address nonproliferation concerns and that if the U.S. isn’t willing to sell nuclear technology, other nations will… Formal talks on the reactor sale are expected to start in coming months.”

-Michael R. Gordon, “U.S. Pursues Saudi Nuclear Deal, Despite Proliferation Risk,” The Wall Street Journal online, Feb. 20, 2018 05:30am

13,499. 2/20/2018

2A/GUNS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/TRUMP POSITION CHANGES: “President Donald Trump supports efforts to strengthen the federal background-check system for firearms, his press secretary said Monday [2-20-18], adding that he had spoken with a top GOP senator about legislation to do so following last week’s deadly school shooting in Florida.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Monday that Mr. Trump spoke Friday to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R., Texas) about legislation he and Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) have proposed to strengthen the background checks. Their bill would provide incentives for states to upload criminal-conviction records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Those records already are required to be uploaded, but can slip through the cracks…
Young people are leading the way in pushing for action after the latest shooting. And the White House statement, along with recent comments from some congressional Republicans that they could consider supporting some gun-safety measures, suggested the party is weighing options.
Such calls for action are common responses to years of mass shootings, although they have tended to fade as lawmakers, under pressure from influential gun groups, deadlock over how to proceed.”

-Julie Bykowicz and Siobhan Hughes, “Trump Backs Effort to Improve Background Checks for Guns,” The Wall Street Journal online, Feb. 20, 2018 12:01am

13,498. 2/19/2018

GOP/POLITICAL FIGURES/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “President Donald Trump Monday [2-19-18] night endorsed Republican Mitt Romney for a Utah Senate seat, backing a GOP candidate who is a favorite within the party but who has in the past been a vocal critic of the president… Mr. Romney, who was the Republic Party’s presidential candidate against incumbent Barack Obama in 2012, announced his candidacy for the Senate seat on Friday.
Mr. Trump had been a reluctant patron of Mr. Romney, who during the 2016 campaign season called Mr. Trump a ‘phony’ and a ‘fraud’ while urging fellow Republicans to force a contested convention to choose a different candidate. Mr. Romney also criticized Mr. Trump’s response to events in Charlottesville, Va., last year, when the president said that both white supremacist protesters and counter-demonstrators were to blame for clashes that killed one young woman. Mr. Romney said that the president had ’caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of American to mourn.’
Mr. Trump previously used Twitter to call Mr. Romney a ‘loser.’ In June 2016 he wrote: ‘Mitt Romney had his chance to beat a failed president but he choked like a dog. Now he calls me racist—but I am least racist person there is.’ Last year, Mr. Trump traveled to Utah to urge Mr. Hatch, whose term expires early next year, to run for another term.”

-Siobhan Hughes, “Trump Endorses Romney for Senate,” The Wall Street Journal online, Feb. 19, 2018 10:47pm

13,491. 2/19/2018

HOLIDAY/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “Have a great, but very reflective, President’s Day!”

-Donald Trump, Twitter.com, Feb. 19, 2018 08:42am

13,472. 2/17/2018

CRISIS/GUNS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/TRUMP FAMILY/MELANIA: “Melania and I met such incredible people last night in Broward County, Florida. Will never forget them, or the evening!”

-Donald Trump, Twitter.com, Feb. 17, 2018 02:04pm

13,467. 2/16/2018

FOREIGN POLICY/TRADE DEALS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The Trump administration on Friday [2-16-18] said it was weighing broad-based tariffs and quotas to curb imports of steel and aluminum to protect national security, though officials stressed no final decisions had yet been made and the ultimate policy could be considerably more limited.
The recommendations were part of internal administration reports released Friday laying out the options for President Donald Trump as he considers how to fulfill a campaign promise to take a more aggressive stance than predecessors to shield domestic steel and aluminum makers from growing foreign competition.
But they are opposed by many lawmakers and businesses who worry that the tariffs risk provoking a trade war and sparking higher prices on a range of domestic products.
The recommendations suggest the president choose among several options. One of them is a global tariff of at least 24% on all steel imports from all countries. Another is a tariff of at least 53% on steel imports from a dozen countries. Under the latter, targeted option, the tariffs of 53% would be applied on steel from Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.
The report from the Commerce Department also included, as an alternative, a quota on steel products from countries equal to 63% of the countries’ 2017 exports to the U.S.”

-Jacob M. Schlesinger and William Mauldin, “U.S. Weighs Tariffs and Quotas on Steel, Aluminum Imports,” Feb. 16, 2018 12:19pm

13,461. 2/16/2018

EPA/INFRASTRUCTURE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan would trigger one of the most significant regulation rollbacks in decades, benefiting not just roads and bridges, but businesses ranging from coal mines to homebuilders to factories… The proposed revisions to some of the nation’s bedrock environmental regulations are drawing heavy criticism from congressional Democrats — including in the Senate, where Republicans would need at least nine extra votes to enact Trump’s plan. Environmental groups say the ambition of the plan’s deregulation push contrasts with the relatively meager amount of federal money the White House is proposing to contribute toward the $1.5 trillion total…
But Democrats say the nation’s real infrastructure problem is money — and the Trump proposal calls for just $200 billion in federal investments over the next decade for needs including roads, bridges, airports, water plants, veterans’ hospitals and rural broadband service. And they questioned whether Trump’s aim is really just to make regulatory reviews more efficient…
Trump’s infrastructure proposal would go much further, setting strict deadlines for reviews and curtailing EPA’s say over projects… The blueprint would remove EPA’s authority to oversee the Army Corps of Engineers’ determinations about which streams and wetlands are subject to Clean Water Act protections. And it would take away the EPA’s ability to veto dredge-and-fill permits that it decides would cause undue harm to the environment.
The plan also calls for eliminating a section of the Clean Air Act that requires EPA to review, comment on and rate other agencies’ environmental impact statements.”

-Annie Snider and Anthony Adragna, “Trump’s latest strike against regulations: His infrastructure plan,” Politico, Feb. 16, 2018 05:01am

13,460. 2/15/2018

CONFLICT OF INTERESTS/ETHICS/IRS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/TRUMP FAMILY/MELANIA: “President Trump’s inaugural committee paid nearly $26 million to an event planning firm started by an adviser to the first lady, Melania Trump, while donating $5 million — less than expected — to charity, according to tax filings released on Thursday [2-15-18].
The nonprofit group that oversaw Mr. Trump’s inauguration and surrounding events in January 2017, the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee, had been under pressure from liberal government watchdog groups to reveal how it spent the record $107 million it had raised from wealthy donors and corporations. Its chairman, Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a longtime friend of Mr. Trump, had pledged that the committee would be thrifty with its spending, and would donate leftover funds to charity.
But the mandatory tax return it filed with the Internal Revenue Service indicates that the group’s charitable donations included only an already publicized $3 million for hurricane relief, plus a total of $1.75 million to groups involved in decorating and maintaining the White House and the vice president’s residence. The 116-page filing indicates that the overwhelming majority of the funds went toward expenses related to the inauguration, with the biggest share — nearly $51 million — split roughly evenly between two companies.
One of the companies, WIS Media Partners of Marina del Rey, California, was created by a longtime friend of Mrs. Trump, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, according to a person familiar with the firm. Records show that the firm was created in December 2016, but otherwise there is very little information available about it. Ms. Winston Wolkoff made her name planning Manhattan society galas and has subsequently been brought on as a senior adviser to the first lady’s official government office.”

-Maggie Haberman and Kenneth P. Vogel, “Trump’s Inaugural Committee Paid $26 Million to Firm of First Lady’s Adviser,” The New York Times online, Feb. 15, 2018

13,454. 2/15/2018

CRIME/EDUCATION/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The Senate’s top education leaders will consider reinstating Pell grants for incarcerated students, a move that would restore a federal lifeline to the nation’s cash-strapped prison education system.
Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee and the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said the committee would consider reinstating the federal financial aid grants in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act currently underway.
The move would reverse a decades-old decision to strike the benefit from the higher education law and signal a shift toward recognizing education as a centerpiece in efforts to overhaul criminal justice law. The federal student aid could be used to cover the cost of college courses taught in prisons, online or both.
Mr. Alexander said that he was open to re-examining Pell grants for prisoners, which were banned in the 1994 crime bill passed under President Bill Clinton. In 2015, President Barack Obama’s Education Department piloted an experimental program that allowed 12,000 incarcerated students to be eligible for the financial aid. If reinstated, millions of dollars would be made available to eligible students in the United States’ prison population of 1.5 million.”

-Erica L. Green, “Senate Leaders Reconsider Ban on Pell Grants for Prisoners,” The New York Times online, Feb. 15, 2018

13,453. 2/15/2018

CRISIS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “President Donald Trump has cast himself as a master brander and dealmaker, but rarely talks much about his crisis management style. The past week has, however, put that style on clear display.
The White House was slow to respond to the Parkland school shooting in any expansive way in the first several hours, waiting until overnight to make any formal statements beyond telling reporters the president was ‘aware’ and monitoring the situation… The response underscored the extent to which this White House, which is eternally engulfed by dramas — many of Trump’s own making — remains rudderless in a crisis and curiously flat-footed when true emergencies like the latest Florida shooting arise…
The shooting interrupted a slow-moving, nine-day scandal over the administration’s decision to allow a senior aide, Rob Porter, handle sensitive information as White House staff secretary, despite red flags in his background concerning domestic abuse… Multiple White House officials have said in recent days that morale has not been this low since the chaotic first 100 days of the Trump administration, when Reince Priebus worked as the chief of staff and warring factions threatened all decision-making…
A White House spokesman did not respond to comment on the president’s upcoming travel. He is still scheduled to make a weekend visit to his Mar-a-Lago resort in West Palm Beach, 40 miles from Parkland. The question remains whether Trump can pull the White House out of this funk and show the leadership chops to calm his staff and comfort the nation, not just his base.”

-Nancy Cook, “White House left feeling rudderless as Trump hangs back in crisis,” Politico, Feb. 15, 2018 08:36pm