The Week on Planet Trump: White House steps up conflict with Mueller, North Korea and Climate Scientists

Monday: White House Fury as Mueller Files First Charges

Initially, Trump felt vindicated. Though frustrated that the media were linking him to the indictment and tarnishing his presidency, he cheered that the charges against [Paul] Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, were focused primarily on activities that began before his campaign. Trump tweeted at 10:28 a.m., “there is NO COLLUSION!”

But the president’s celebration was short-lived. A few minutes later, court documents were unsealed showing that George Papadopoulos, an unpaid foreign policy adviser on Trump’s campaign, pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI about his efforts to broker a relationship between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The case provides the clearest evidence yet of links between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.

Robert Costa, Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker, The Washington Post

Tuesday: Investigation Poses Existential Crisis for Trump Presidency

The past couple of days have proved that Steve Bannon was right when he said that Donald Trump’s decision to fire James Comey was the biggest mistake in “modern political history.” Speaking to “60 Minutes” in September, shortly after he left the White House, Bannon explained, “I don’t think there's any doubt that, if James Comey had not been fired, we would not have a special counsel.”

If Mueller does uncover concrete evidence of collusion, he could well recommend impeachment, which would obviously be disastrous for Trump. But, even if Mueller fails to substantiate the collusion accusation, Trump won’t necessarily be in the clear. He could still be vulnerable to obstruction-of-justice charges stemming from what he said to Comey about false statements made by Michael Flynn, his former national-security adviser—“I hope you can let this go”—and, indeed, from his firing of Comey. The President is facing a lengthy war of attrition that is likely to be marked by more indictments of people who worked for him, and in which a favorable outcome is far from guaranteed.

John Cassidy, The New Yorker

Wednesday: Trump Seizes New York Terror to Attack Democrats

President Donald Trump wasted no time pointing his finger at Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer after an alleged terrorist killed eight people in New York City this week.

Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to blast Schumer for authoring legislation in 1990 creating a green card lottery that the administration said the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, used to enter the United States seven years ago.

“It’s so typical of him,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said of Trump’s barrage. “He tries to find a political advantage and to divide this country at a time when he should be standing with him.”

Schumer also snuck in his own counter-punch, pointing out that Trump’s budget proposal had cut back on anti-terrorism funding, and he called on Trump to seek more money for those programs.

John Bresnahan and Seung Min Kim, Politico

Thursday: A Tax Plan for the One Percent

The treats for the rich include slashing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%; adding a new 25% rate for "pass through entities," of which President Trump has an ownership interest in approximately 500; repealing the alternative minimum tax, as a result of which Trump had to pay over $30 million in 2005, the last year in which we have proof that he actually paid taxes; and gradually phasing out the estate tax, which is paid, according to Gary Cohn, Trump's chief economic adviser, only by multimillionaire morons.

These treats for the rich go a long way to adding $1.5 trillion to our national debt -- a trick for the future to figure out how to pay.

When all the dust settles, we end up where we started, where Republicans have always been. As confusing as it is to figure out the many losers from this proposed law, it is abundantly clear who the winners are: America's plutocrats, including the man in the White House.

Edward McCaffery, CNN



Friday: State Agencies Defy Climate Change Denial

Directly contradicting much of the Trump administration’s position on climate change, 13 federal agencies unveiled an exhaustive scientific report on Friday that says humans are the dominant cause of the global temperature rise that has created the warmest period in the history of civilization.

Despite the scientific consensus presented in the report, the Environmental Protection Agency has scrubbed references to climate change from its website and barred its scientists from presenting scientific reports on the subject.

The E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, has said carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to warming. Rick Perry, the energy secretary, asserted Wednesday that “the science is out” on whether humans cause climate change.

In the United States, the report finds that every part of the country has been touched by warming, from droughts in the Southeast to flooding in the Midwest to a worrying rise in air and ground temperatures in Alaska, and conditions will continue to worsen.

Lisa Friedman and Glenn Thrush, New York Times

Saturday: Trump Camp Steps up Challenge to Mueller’s Authority

Politico reported Saturday that Jay Sekulow, a conservative attorney who joined Trump's team in June, said that Trump's attorneys are ready to challenge the legality of Mueller's actions if he detours into anything they consider "outside the scope" of the inquiry, such as looking at old real estate deals the president might have been involved in through his Trump Organization.

Trump himself has said that any investigation of his personal finances by Mueller would be out-of-bounds.

In July, Trump told The New York Times that Mueller would be in "violation" of his special counsel mandate to shift his probe's focus from Russia.

"No, I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia. So I think if he wants to go, my finances are extremely good, my company is an unbelievably successful company," Trump said.

John Bowden, The Hill

Sunday: Trump Begins Asia Tour with Threats against North Korea

President Trump kicked off his Asia tour Sunday with a warning that the U.S. will use its military might, if necessary, to fend off hostile threats.

"No one — no dictator, no regime and no nation — should underestimate, ever, American resolve," Trump told U.S. and Japanese troops, assembled inside a flag-draped aircraft hangar at the Yokota Air Base in Tokyo. "We will never yield, never waver and never falter in defense of our people, our freedom and our great American flag."

It was a message aimed, at least in part, at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whose aggressive nuclear and missile tests are expected to be a major focus of the president's trip.

During the campaign, Trump criticized Japan for not spending enough on its own defense and forcing U.S. taxpayers to make up the difference.

In South Korea, Trump will address the National Assembly, where he's expected to urge all countries to do more to combat the nuclear threat from North Korea. He'll continue to make that case when he visits China, which is North Korea's biggest trading partner.

Scott Horsley, NPR

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