Turns out, Donald Trump’s inauguration was the biggest ever, after all! (That is, if you count in terms of cash flowing in from big money donors.)
- Trump raised a record $106.7-million dollars with 250 donors accounting for the lion’s share. That about doubles the former record amount raised by President Obama’s inauguration committee in 2009.
- Most of the big Trump donors stand to gain or lose a lot depending on the President’s actions. (For instance Boeing and Lockheed Martin.) At the same time, most of them also donated to Obama. University of Virginia Professor Larry Sabato, who’s responsible for our headline quote today, calls at least some of the haul “make-up money.”
- Since the funds are really only intended to go toward throwing a big party, our biggest question is where all that money was actually spent? Did any go to Trump-owned businesses? And is there any left over? The inauguration committee is not required to answer any of those questions. It did promise to give leftover funds to charity but said it wouldn’t give specifics “until a later date.”
- If you really want to get wonky, here’s the very cumbersome actual FEC filing. For a more palatable summary, look here.
We try to answer a question we raised yesterday…
- That was: whether we should care that much about the government’s deception–intentional or not–on President Trump’s non-existent “armada”, since the strategy seems to have paid off at least in the short term. The U.S. aircraft carrier Carl Vinson was seen heading in the opposite direction after President Trump said it was on its way to the Korean peninsula.
- The White House again refused to take any responsibility and denied misleading the public, saying it never discussed timing, and the carrier group is now headed the way it said.
- One of our readers warned us not to underestimate the significance or peril of the situation, saying the probability that the President nor anyone else in the White House knew where a major carrier battle group was or what direction it was sailing in is unprecedented, contrasting it to President Kennedy’s unwavering diligence during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
- Secretary of State Rex Tillertson turned the tough talk toward Iran, saying it is actively undermining U.S. interests in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon. However, he stopped short of saying the U.S. would walk away from the 2015 nuclear deal (a deal which President Trump has repeatedly called “a disaster.”)
Exxon moves to drill in Russia
- Tillertson’s alma mater, Exxon is quietly moving to get special permission to drill for oil in the Black Sea, which would otherwise be in violation of economic sanctions against Russia. The Secretary of State was the CEO of Exxon before coming to Washington. Any waiver would be granted not by Tillertson’s State Department, but by the Treasury Department, which refused to comment.
When Is The Winning Going To Start?
- Some Democrats have been expecting their candidates to start winning after Trump took office. It hasn’t quite worked out that way in red states, following Tuesday’s special House election in Georgia and an earlier one in Kansas. Georgia Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff won the most votes but didn’t break the 50% barrier, sending it to a runoff. Hillary Clinton won the most votes too, but as Democrats painfully know, that doesn’t always win the election. [Politico]
- Here’s a number we haven’t seen widely reported heading into the June 20 Georgia runoff: 4,036. That’s the difference between the cumulative GOP vote total of 97,997 and the Democrat’s 93,961 votes on Tuesday. Ossoff will need some combination of winning Republicans over, getting them to stay home, and/or getting more Democrats to the polls in order to close the gap with Republican Karen Handel.
- Next up for special House contests are two more in red states: Montana at the end of May and South Carolina June 20th. An interesting article in the NY Times spoke with Democrats in Montana who are pushing the party to put up a fight in the state race. There’s a debate among those who say “we’re going to lose so stay out” vs. others, like the state’s Governor, who say it’s a winnable race. While Montana picked Trump with a 19 point margin, the state has a Democratic governor and one of its senators is Democrat Jon Tester.
Earth Day = March for Science
- Two big protest opportunities over the next two weekends: first, the March for Science coming up this Saturday, the 22nd. Here’s an excellent guide to the demonstration, including a lot of good info on local events in case you can’t make it to DC.
- Curiously, the website for the event itself makes no mention of President Trump and pointedly states “the application of science to policy is not a partisan issue.” Um, yeah it is. It shouldn’t be. But it is.
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