“I’m Looking Forward To It”

That’s Becoming Trump’s Standard Answer When Asked About An Imminent Interview By Mueller’s Team

In an impromptu news conference in Chief of Staff John Kelly’s office, prior to the President’s departure for Switzerland, an exuberant-sounding Trump mouthed off about a wide range of issues. Trump saying he expects the interview with Mueller’s team to occur in the next 2-3 weeks. And he’d do it “under oath”.

Trump somehow manages to wrap radical Right-wing conspiracy theories and Hillary Clinton (of course) into a question he’s basically answering “yes” to.

C-Span only provided audio, but it’s some remarkable stream-of-consciousness even by Trump’s standards, so well worth a listen. Click on the graphic:


The “5-months worth of missing texts” Trump refers to is one of several popular conspiracy theories among radical Right-wingers, designed to show the F.B.I. has long been out to get Trump. Another is a mysterious memo written by House Intelligence Committee Chair and Trump ally Devin Nunes allegedly detailing abuses of federal surveillance law to target Trump, except no one outside the Committee has seen it. Trump’s own Justice department took the unusual step of warning Nunes not to release it, saying doing so would be “extraordinarily reckless“. But of course that’s also bringing more attention to it’s existence.

And Fox News broke a story that many FBI agents found large numbers of texts missing from their phones, which would either indicate Trump’s reading too much into a particular set of texts, or there’s any even bigger conspiracy afoot.

The thing about these latest conspiracy theories, which all came out of efforts to justify Trump’s assertion on Twitter that Obama tapped his phones, is they’re all incredibly convoluted and complex. We won’t spend too much more time on them, but if you want to familiarize yourself, there’s a great guide from the Washington Post’s Philip Bump.


Trump departs for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland



This Whole Matter Of “Under Oath” Is A Bunch Of Baloney

Lying to the FBI is a federal crime whether or not you’re under oath. That’s what Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to, right? He “made false statements” when questioned by the F.B.I. even though he wasn’t under oath at the time.

Anyway, since we’re not lawyers, we looked it up. And Section 1001 of Title 18 of the United States Criminal Code states:

“….whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—

  1. falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
  2. makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
  3. makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry…
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.”


Trump Also Re-Makes All The Promises On DACA He Backed Off From Before, And A Few More

The White House was playing coy: saying Trump would make a major announcement about what he wants to see in an immigration deal next Monday, a day before his State of the Union Address. And because of that, they didn’t want to spoil it by giving out to many details.

But in the same back-and-forth with reporters we mentioned above, the President was very free with details, three in particular:

  1. Trump told undocumented immigrants protected by DACA not to worry.
  2. The President spoke of a path to citizenship for those currently protected by DACA in the vaguest possible terms: “we’re going to morph into it” and told Dreamers “not to worry”.
  3. He outlined how funding for his wall would work: $25-billion would to into a fund as a lump sum, and then the money would be drawn down from that fund as the wall is built. Trump also promised with the money left over when the wall is finished (and there will be money left over since he always builds “ahead of schedule and under budget”) he will “help people with health and medical”. WTF?

As we mentioned yesterday, it’s very important for Trump to get all his “wall money” up front. Because he well knows if Democrats take over the House or Senate next year, a downpayment this year just won’t do.

It’s also very interesting to us that the $25-billion Trump came up with is exactly the number Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump asked for in their face-to-face negotiations, and the White House insisted was a fabrication that “never existed”.



This Whole Matter Of “Countries Not Sending Us Their Best” In The Diversity Visa Lottery Is A Bunch Of Baloney

Simply because it just doesn’t work the way Trump continues to portray it.  This ain’t the Mariel boatlift. It’s not like the President of some “shithole” nation sits there and says “this person is a baddie, let’s put their name in the hat”! Individuals apply, no-fee, online, directly to the U.S. government.

Also, the odds are astronomically stacked against applicants getting picked: If you apply, your chance of not getting picked is 99.5%. Although if you win you can bring your spouse, so if a couple both apply it brings the odds of not winning down to 99%.

So hardly an efficient way of dumping a bunch of undesirable individuals in the U.S.



Trump Hornswoggles A Bunch Of Mayors

The President invited a select, bipartisan group of big city Mayors over to the White House, ostensibly to talk about infrastructure. But before they arrived he gave them a little surprise: a threatening letter from the Justice Department ordering some of them to regularly report on how they’re cooperating with federal authorities in cracking down on undocumented workers. If they refuse, Justice says they’ll subpoena the info. And if they’re found to be operating as “sanctuary cities” Justice explicitly says they’ll risk losing federal funds for things like infrastructure, as well as anti-terrorism efforts. Here are copies of all the letters that went out.

As a result, many of the Mayors decided not to go meet Trump. They included New Orleans Mayor, and President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mitch Landrieu. He said of Trump’s actions: “I can never recall a situation where someone professes to want to work with other people, punches them in the face first and says now I would like to talk to you.” (Funny, we said nearly the exact same thing yesterday).

Landrieu is occasionally mentioned as a 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate. While Mayors do not typically run for President, we’ve mentioned our fondness for him before. Watch him here and see if you agree:




Blue State Workarounds On State And Local Tax Deductions Could Blow A Big Hole In The Federal Budget

According to Bloomberg, it could amount to $154-billion dollars, adding an additional 15% to what government accountants have already said the tax bill will cost.

As indicated on the graphic above, instead of a state income tax (which is no longer deductible on your federal return), states may add a payroll tax that’ll be taken out of your paycheck by your employer. Since the Trump/Republican tax law is incredibly favorable to business, the amount can still completely be written off on the corporate side. The State of New York is leading this effort.

So why didn’t Republicans or the White House realize this kind of thing would happen? It’s very likely they did. But why bring it up when all it would do would give you less money to give away…?

A more “fun” idea that’s been proposed in California and elsewhere involves turning state taxes into charitable donations. Under federal law, any money you donate to the government is tax deductible. Problem with this is how do you make a “donation” mandatory? While changing the rules will save people money, it’ll save them even more money if they don’t pay. Also, probably, the IRS would issue guidance saying you can’t do it.



You’re The Most Reviled Governor In The Country? Don’t Worry. You’ve Got A Job With Trump!

Remember Trump saying he’d surround himself with “the best people”? Add Sam Brownback, the Governor who single-handedly ran the state of Kansas into the ground, to that list.

A jet-lagged Mike Pence, fresh back from his trip to Israel, had to rush to the Capitol and cast the tie-breaking vote confirming Brownback as U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom.


Newly confirmed U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been trying to get rid of many of the “At-Large” Ambassador positions, because with a few exceptions they’re ill-defined and have little real influence. And that’s something we completely agree with.