Saturday, February 18, 2017
THE TRUMP DIARIES: WEEK FOUR
28 Days of Trump
By Jack Random
On the 27th day of the Trump presidency Breitbart News—gateway to an alternative reality – was seated in the front row of the White House press corps and concern over gross incompetence was supplanted by fear that the man elected to represent the American people in fact represents neither the people nor America.
Donald Trump began his presidency by handing down decree after decree as if he believed he was the king of the world. Resistance started on the streets of every major city in America and spread throughout much of the free world. Now the resistance is finding its way into town hall meetings and congressional offices. The fourth estate is finding a voice and the wall is beginning to crack.
This is the fourth installment of the Trump Diaries.
DAY 22: CRACKS IN THE WALL
Friday February 10, 2017
National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is caught in the lie that he never talked sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on the very day former president Barrack Obama imposed sanctions for interference in the American election. Flynn publicly denied the charge at the time and handed the lie to press secretary Sean Spicer as well as vice president Mike Pence. The Washington Post, however, spoke to nine former and current officials with direct knowledge of the recorded conversation. 
In a related story, FBI Director James Comey reportedly reviewed the conversation and found no evidence of wrongdoing.  The plot thickens and the possibility of a criminal conspiracy to undermine our democracy comes into focus.
This is the lie that will eventually take down the Trump presidency. Does anyone believe Flynn was acting without guidance? How sweet would it be to take down the vice president and the director of the FBI as well?
DAY 23: FIRST WAVE OF MASS DEPORTATION
Saturday February 11, 2017
Under the cover of darkness the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) conducted raids nationwide in compliance with Trump’s January 25th executive order, seizing hundreds from their homes and workplaces. In their efforts to make America safe again, the deportations included a mother whose only crime was using false documents to obtain employment eight years ago. 
ICE denies the raids are being conducted on the president’s order. Whether Trump gave the order or not is beside the point. They are being conducted under his guidance and under his guidelines you can be deported on suspicion of jaywalking.
A leaked Department of Homeland Security report estimates the cost of the Trump Wall at $21.6 billion over three and a half years. The cost trumps previous estimates of 12-15 billion.  Maybe Japan will pay for it.
Modeled on the Tea Party, the resistance movement organizes to confront representatives in congress at the local level. Republicans now fear town hall meetings and open door policies. They are reluctant to make public appearances. The pressure will build as they confront a choice: Stick with the president or yield to their constituents.
It turns out repealing Obamacare is not so popular without a replacement plan. Surprise us all, Mr. Trump: Give us universal Medicare. Reverse the polarity and watch your ratings rise! If you continue on the path your walking, nothing good can happen to your presidency or your brand.
Protesters gather in New York and other major cities to support Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to choose.
The resistance is rising.
DAY 24: FLYNN UNDER FIRE
Sunday February 12, 2017
With the president hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Florida, North Korea fires a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. Mr. Trump pledges to stand with Japan one hundred percent.
Thousands take to the streets across Mexico to protest Trump’s policies on immigration and the wall. Hundreds have been rounded up and summarily deported in what still appears to be the first wave of a mass deportation. Trump praises the actions of ICE while the ACLU and an army of Mexican immigration lawyers prepare for a fight. 
The White House chooses not to defend Michael Flynn concerning his misleading statements over pre-inauguration communications with Russia. Flynn may be the first of the Trump team to step down. He won’t be the last.
DAY 25: NSA BLOWBACK
Monday February 13, 2017
A former NSA analyst claims that the intelligence community is withholding sensitive information from the president’s eyes amid fears that “the Kremlin has ears” inside the White House circle. In a touch of irony the story was leaked through the New York Observer’s website, until recently owned by the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. 
Trump relates his full support for Flynn through surrogates. It has all the markings of a Mafia kiss of death.
Trump meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. No one has presented a stronger contrast to Trump’s immigrations policies than Trudeau – particularly when it comes to welcoming Syrian refugees. When Toronto Star reporter Tonda MacCharles inquires if Trump now considers the northern border dangerous, he skirts the issue. It may be the last time he takes questions from a legitimate reporter.
Come on, Donald! Go all in! What this country needs is a northern border wall, a southern border wall and an impenetrable force field in the Atlantic, Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico. Let Canada pay for it!
The senate confirms foreclosure king Steven Mnuchin as Secretary of the Treasury. Mnuchin capitalized on the financial crisis of 2009 by orchestrating an expedited foreclosure campaign, predating documents and implementing a robo-signing program to push people out of their homes. 
Is this what the president meant by “draining the swamp”? Mnuchin is the definitive swamp rat.
Late in the evening the White House announces Flynn’s resignation. His interim replacement is Lt. General Joseph Keith Kellogg. Trump loves the generals.
DAY 26: FLYNN BLOWBACK
Tuesday February 14, 2017
Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland becomes the first member of congress to ask the critical question: What did president Trump know and when did he know it?
This is the beginning of the end for the beleaguered chief executive. The evidence will lead directly to his desk. The White House reaction is telling: They do not deny the reports; they decry the leaks. This is the Nixon defense.
It is probably not the first time a president-elect has colluded with an antagonistic foreign nation. A persistent theory holds that Reagan defeated Carter partly by arranging a deal with Iran not to release American hostages until after the election. History will attest the hostages were released on inauguration day. Reagan later dealt arms to Iran to win the release of hostages held in Lebanon and to finance the Contras in Nicaragua in defiance of congress.  As so often happens, failure to address high crimes makes repetition of high crimes possible.
Trump is not Reagan. His support in congress is tenuous despite the GOP majorities. His support with the public is in decline. Maybe this time we’ll get it right and the president will pay the price.
Trump loses another round in federal court over the Muslim travel ban. District Judge Leonie Brinkema of Virginia finds that the ban violates first amendment protection against religious discrimination. No kidding.
DAY 27: PUTTING PALESTINE ON NOTICE
Wednesday February 15, 2017
In a joint news conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump serve notice that neither Israel nor America considers an independent Palestinian state essential to a peace settlement.
The rightwing Israeli leader proclaims two conditions to peace with the Palestinians: Unconditional recognition of the Israeli state’s right to exist and Israeli control “over all areas west of the Jordan River.” That designation encompasses all of the West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip.
It is doubtful that our president understands any of the issues regarding the Israeli-Palestine conflict. If he did he would know that Netanyahu is advocating perpetual occupation of all Palestinian lands. That is a prescription for perpetual war.
The president avoided questions concerning Flynn and the Russians except to say that the media has treated his good friend very unfairly.
With fresh reports that Trump’s staff had “repeated contacts” with Russian agents during the campaign, the pressure for an independent investigation only grows. 
Anti-labor CEO Andrew Puzder withdraws from consideration as Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor.
DAY 28: THE RUSSIAN RUSE
Thursday February 16, 2017
In his first solo press conference, Trump stands before the press and takes question after question, like a cornered pugilist, absorbing body blows and throwing punches at virtually every media institution and painting himself as the victim of unfair treatment. It seems he particularly disdains CNN, the Times and the BBC.
When all is said and done, Trump denies any wrongdoing in what he calls a ruse. He denies giving Flynn the order to contact Russia on the day of the sanctions. He denies knowledge of any Russian contacts by his staff during the campaign. He denies owning anything in Russia. He denies any Russian debts. He denies having any deals in Russia.
The president fired his good friend Flynn for misleading the vice president. As far as he’s concerned, contacting the Russian ambassador to undermine President Obama’s action was perfectly okay – so okay he would have ordered Flynn to make the contact if he hadn’t done so on his own.
Trump hasn’t worked out his argument. He saves all his venom for the illegal leaks of classified information. The problem is: It is not illegal to leak fictional information; it is only illegal if the information is both valid and classified.
The cards are on the table. The bets are placed. Either the president has told the truth and the story will pass or the president has lied and the truth will undo him.
Protesters march in support of “A Day Without Immigrants.” Documented and undocumented immigrants are called upon to miss work, skip school and forego shopping. The action is partly in response to the first wave of deportations.
The president promises to deal with the dreamers “with heart.” Tell that to the families your mass deportation raids have already divided.
He describes his administration as a “fine-tuned machine.” We would like to see what dysfunctional looks like if this is a fine-tuned machine.
In a departure from his norm the president nominates a highly qualified individual in Alexander Acosta to be Secretary of Labor. He will also be the first Hispanic in Trump’s cabinet.
After 28 days we are beginning to understand how much damage an unprepared president can do in a very short time. We wait for the Republicans in congress to initiate the investigations that will bring this president down. We will then continue the resistance against the new president.
There are two years to the midterm elections and congressional districts are still gerrymandered for Republican control. Any way you look at it, in the words of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld: It’s going to be a long, hard slog.
But we’re still here and we’re growing stronger.
1. “National security advisor Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials say” by Greg Miller, Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima. Washington Post, February 9, 2017.
2. “FBI reviewed Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador but found nothing illicit” by Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller. Washington Post, January 23, 2017.
3. “Federal agents conduct immigration enforcement raids in at least six states” by Lisa Rein, Abigail Hauslohner and Sandhya Somashekhar. Washington Post, February 11, 2017.
4. “Exclusive - Trump border 'wall' to cost $21.6 billion, take 3.5 years to build: internal report” by Julia Edwards Ainsley. Reuters, February 9, 2017.
5. “Can an army of lawyers stop Trump’s mass deportations?” by David Iaconangelo. Christian Science Monitor, February 11, 2017.
6. “NSA so concerned over Donald Trump’s ties to Russia they’ve ‘withheld information from presidential briefings’” by Jon Sharman. Independent, February 13, 2017.
7. “Treasury Nominee Steve Mnuchin’s Bank Accused of ‘Widespread Misconduct’ in Leaked Memo” by David Dayen. The Intercept, January 3, 2017.
8. “Did Iran Delay Hostages Release To Ensure Reagan’s Election?” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October 1987.
9. “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence” by Michael S. Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo. NY Times, February 14, 2017.
JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES - VOLUMES I-X, GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION, PAWNS TO PLAYERS, WASICHU AND A PATRIOT DIRGE.