December, 2017

‘Full Trump’ Is Coming

“If you ask some close to President Trump what worries them most about 2018, it’s not Robert Mueller’s probe. It’s that establishment guardrails of 2017 come down — and Trump’s actual instincts take over,” Axios reports.

“Next year will bring ‘full Trump,’ said one person who recently talked to the president.”

“Trump has governed mostly as a conventional conservative — on tax cuts, his Supreme Court pick, and rolling back regulations. Most of his top advisers are fairly conventional conservatives, so that makes sense… But top officials paint a different portrait of Trump when it comes to what he really wants on trade, immigration and North Korea — but has been tamped down by skeptical staff and Cabinet officials.”

Haley Tricked by Russian Crank Call

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley “may have been fooled by a pair of Russian pranksters pretending to be the prime minister of Poland. The duo, known as Vovan and Lexus, claims to have arranged a crank phone call Thursday with the former South Carolina governor,” the Charleston Post and Courier reports.

“The pair, whose real names are Alexei Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov, posted a nearly 22-minute video clip this weekend in which a woman who sounds like Haley speaks to a man who she thinks is the new Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Between questions about Ukraine and Russia, the fake prime minister asked Haley about Binomo — a fake island that does not exist.”

“You know Binomo?” the prankster said.

“Yes, yes,” Haley responded.

“They had elections and we suppose Russians had its intervention,” the joker said.

“Yes, of course they did, absolutely,” Haley said.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes. Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times. So they basically have to let me win.”

— President Trump, in an interview with the New York Times.

Mueller Zeroes In on Trump’s Data Operation

Special counsel Robert Mueller has begun to question RNC staffers about the party’s 2016 campaign data operation, which helped the Trump campaign target voters in key swing states, Yahoo News reports.

Mueller’s team is examining whether the joint RNC-Trump campaign data operation — which was managed by Jared Kushner — “was related to the activities of Russian trolls and bots aimed at influencing the American electorate.”

A Storm Is Gathering

Joe Scarborough: “A storm is gathering, and there is every reason to believe that 2018 will be the most consequential political year of our lives.”

“The reckoning upon us follows a year mercifully drawing to a close this weekend. Over that horrid year, President Trump has questioned the legitimacy of federal judges, used Stalinist barbs to attack the free press and cast contempt on the rule of law, while his campaign manager, his national security adviser and a foreign policy aide have been marched into federal courts. Those anti-democratic instincts were made all the more ominous by his praising of autocrats across the world as they were ruthlessly consolidating power in countries such as Russia, China and the Philippines.”

States Wait for Help to Defend Election Systems

“States rushing to guard their 2018 elections against hackers may be on a waiting list for up to nine months for the Department of Homeland Security’s most exhaustive security screening,” Politico reports.

“That means some states might not get the service until weeks before the November midterms and may remain unaware of flaws that could allow homegrown cyber vandals or foreign intelligence agencies to target voter registration databases and election offices’ computer networks, the officials said. Russian hackers targeted election systems in at least 21 states in 2016, according to DHS.”

Trump Breaks With 70 Years of American Foreign Policy

New York Times: “Nearly a year into his presidency, Mr. Trump remains an erratic, idiosyncratic leader on the global stage, an insurgent who attacks allies the United States has nurtured since World War II and who can seem more at home with America’s adversaries. His Twitter posts, delivered without warning or consultation, often make a mockery of his administration’s policies and subvert the messages his emissaries are trying to deliver abroad…”

“Above all, Mr. Trump has transformed the world’s view of the United States from a reliable anchor of the liberal, rules-based international order into something more inward-looking and unpredictable. That is a seminal change from the role the country has played for 70 years, under presidents from both parties, and it has lasting implications for how other countries chart their futures.”

Quote of the Day

“In the East, it could be the coldest New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old global warming that our country, but not other countries, was going to pay trillions of dollars to protect against. Bundle up!”

— President Trump, on Twitter.

Trump Falsely Claims Legislative Record

President Trump falsely claimed that he had signed more legislation than any of his predecessors at this point in their terms,” Politico reports.

Said Trump: “We broke the record of Harry Truman.”

“It is true that Trump had signed more bills in his first 100 days than any president since Truman, but as Trump nears the anniversary of his Jan. 20 inauguration, he is far removed from his 100th day. And he has now signed the fewest number of bills into law of any first-year president dating back to Dwight Eisenhower.”

Billionaires Follow Trump’s Lead In Florida

“After Donald Trump appeared to endorse Ron DeSantis’ campaign for Florida governor last week, a handful of the biggest and most influential billionaires in Republican politics threw their support behind the three-term GOP congressman, upending the race in the nation’s biggest swing state,” Politico reports.

“DeSantis has yet to formally announce his 2018 campaign for governor, but his intentions to seek the office became clear in May after he established a state political committee, called the Fund for Florida’s Future, that’s allowed to raise and spend unlimited soft money from corporate contributors.”

Trump Says Russia Probe Makes U.S. Look ‘Very Bad’

President Trump told the New York Times that he had absolute control over the Justice Department and that special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe should wrap up quickly because it is making the country look “very bad.”

Said Trump: “There’s been no collusion. But I think he’s going to be fair.”

He added: “It makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position. So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.”

Rush to Prepay Taxes Turns to Confusion and Anger

New York Times: “The new tax bill, and its $10,000 cap on all local and state tax deductions, has generated a variety of strong emotions — including anxiety and frustration — in places like Hempstead.”

“By Thursday, however, that stew of emotions had been replaced by utter confusion, as well as rage, including among people who had shelled out money only to discover that they might not get any benefit.”