This week, The Hill has drawn attention to the fact that nearly six months in the office, President Trump still does not have an official portrait.
Typically, taking the new portrait photo that hangs in over 7,000 agencies and office buildings around the country is among the first orders of business for a new president. Once the photo is sent to the Government Printing Office, portraits are distributed via the General Services Administration, as well as a few other agencies, for hanging at entrances and lobbies, The Hill explains. The issue in the Trump administration is that the White House hasn’t sent a photo to GPO for printing. President Obama had his official photo taken a week before his inauguration, and the new portraits were released just weeks later. When he was re-elected, a new presidential photo was taken and posted around the country. Those portraits were taken down at noon on the day of Trump’s inauguration, and since then frames at federal offices around the country have remained empty.
This is just one indicator of the White House’s casual pace on ramping up the functions of a new administration. “It’s one of the very first thing’s that’s typically done, but then again, so is getting your political leaders in place,” said Max Stier, the president and CEO of Partnership for Public Service (PPS).
According to PPS, Trump is well behind his predecessors in staffing the government, having submitted just 197 people for executive branch, civilian, non-judicial positions. Of those, only 46 have been confirmed by the Senate. Under Obama, the numbers were 323 and 183, respectively, at the same point in his administration. “This is a symptom of a group of individuals who collectively don’t have much prior experience in the executive branch, and I think as a result they haven’t fully understood the existing process,” said Stier.
While the portrait’s absence is largely symbolic, it may have practical repercussions for an administration that has gone head-to-head with career bureaucrats, portraying them as Obama-era holdovers or members of the “deep state” determined to block the president’s agenda.
“The government’s career workforce is built to serve whoever is the political leader. It’s part of their DNA, and that presidential portrait is ubiquitous and symbolizes the existing leadership,” Stier said.
According to ABC, other offices have been happy to hang the unofficial portraits. The Pentagon mounted a Trump portrait at a special VIP entrance, while some local buildings, such as a county courthouse in Vinton, Iowa, simply printed and mounted their own. Hopefully, it was not a fake Time magazine cover, previously spotted on the walls in several Trump properties.
Big day today as Trump will soon sit down for his first meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The meeting will likely overshadow anything else that Trump does at the G-20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany.
What will Trump say about Russian meddling, if anything?
Trump previously said: “I agree, I think it was Russia — but I think it was probably other people and/or countries. And I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure.” Nobody knows is such a good strategy, if only he did not have the FBI, CIA and NSA, all very capable investigative organisations.
Who will be there?
The meeting will reportedly be a small one, including only Trump and Putin, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, and two interpreters.
Assuming there are no last minute changes, that means there will be no place for Fiona Hill, a White House advisor who is more hawkish than some other Trump confidants when it comes to Russia. There has been speculation that some within the White House orbit were pushing for Hill to be included in the meeting, in part to counter suggestions that it would be an overly chummy affair.
What will the body language be like?
Trump and Putin’s meeting will last approximately 30 minutes and there is no suggestion that the duo will hold a news conference, or even answer any questions from reporters. But any footage of the two together will be closely scrutinized. Many of the president’s supporters expressed a view that a little coolness in the body language between him and Putin.
What will Putin do? (Oh, the suspense)
Substantive issues aside, plenty of people will be curious as to how Putin, a former KGB officer, will treat Trump. The Russian leader once brought his large black Labrador to a meeting with Merkel, who is afraid of dogs. So expect an anything-can-happen first meeting.
What will Trump-a-day be looking for?
As US is celebrating the Independence Day (from Britain), today’s Trump-a-day selection is just a handful of reasons why the upcoming 1984 film should be renamed into 2017.
North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2017
….and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2017
The missile test and Trump’s tweets come shortly before Trump is expected to meet with Xi and other world leaders (including Putin) at the upcoming Group of 20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, next week.
Trump again sent the media into a fury over the weekend when he tweeted a doctored video showing him at a fake wrestling match body-slamming the CNN logo superimposed over the face of WWE president Vince McMahon from a few years ago during a Trump cameo. Reporters accused Trump of encouraging violence against the press. According to a running tally maintained by the Upshot, the president has insulted CNN more than 100 times on Twitter alone.
The relationship between the White House and the media is in shambles, with the daily press briefings devolving into shouting matches and airing of grievances. Both sides engage in stunts, grandstanding and political theatre meant to undermine or embarrass the other. The nasty turn has also been a boon to the media and the individual reporters who register acts of protest against the administration. “Ratings are part of it, but the media’s open contempt for this administration is part of it, too,” said Tim Graham, the director of media analysis at the conservative Media Research Center. “I imagine it will continue as long as the ratings keep going up.”
Trump isn’t changing. This is how he’s going to act in his spare time and he’ll attack the media at least a few times per week for the rest of his time in office. From Friday morning until Sunday night, eight of Trump’s 14 tweets were about the Fourth Estate.
Does Trump’s anti-CNN tweet violate Twitter’s terms? This is the “hateful conduct” policy https://t.co/1oCoXPNNulhttps://t.co/AhEu7Hwn12
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) July 2, 2017
The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity — formed by President Trump to investigate his widely debunked claim that millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote in November’s election — sent letters last week to the 50 secretaries of state across the country requesting information about voters. The letter asked for names, addresses, birth dates and party affiliations of registered voters in each state. It also sought felony convictions, military statuses, the last four digits of Social Security numbers and voting records dating back to 2006. Scary what they can do with this information…
Multiple FBI staffers reportedly sported T-shirts that read “Comey is my homey” to a Family Day event on Monday, offering support for ousted FBI Director James Comey, whom President Trump fired earlier this year. The back of the shirts featured a quote attributed to Comey: “We choose to do good for a living.”
An FBI spokesperson said the annual Family Day event can showcase divisions in the agency, as well as giving families of agency employees a chance to visit the bureau.
A top Justice Department official who serves as a corporate compliance watchdog has left her job, saying she felt she could no longer force companies to comply with the government’s ethics laws when members of the administration she works for have conducted themselves in a manner that she claims would not be not tolerated.
Hui Chen had served in the department’s compliance counsel office from November 2015 until she resigned in June, breaking her silence in a LinkedIn post last week highlighted by The International Business Times, which points to the Trump administration’s behaviour as the reason for her job change. “To sit across the table from companies and question how committed they were to ethics and compliance felt not only hypocritical, but very much like shuffling the deck chair on the Titanic,” Chen wrote.
Before her resignation, Chen had posted tweets or retweeted articles that were considered critical of Trump. ”For those who truly care about #ethics, ignoring our current #conductatthetop requires abandonment of conscience,” she tweeted last month.
Chen said management in her office tried to silence her from publicly speaking out against the White House.
The purge of government employees that have scientific expertise continues. Last Friday, the last three members of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) closed the door to their office for the final time. “Science division out. Mic drop,” one of the employees tweeted. All three staff members were holdovers from the Obama administration. Under his leadership, the OSTP had nine employees that were the executive branch’s brain trust on issues like STEM education, biotechnology, and crisis response. According to CBS News, there is no one working in that division of the OSTP now and no clear indication that replacements will be chosen. One hallmark of this administration’s term has been to leave thousands of federal government positions empty. Areas that Trump isn’t particularly interested in have been left to atrophy. He has no interest in getting along with other countries or using soft power, so the State Department is languishing. He has no interest in science or protecting the environment so the EPA is avoiding staffing and eliminating over 1,200 jobs. The EPAs Board of Scientific Counsellors will be down to 11 members by 1 September. Just a few months ago there were 68 members on the board.
Iran is holding a weeklong “Trumpism” cartoon contest and exhibition to mock the U.S. president.
The first-prize winner, who received a $1,500 award, depicted President Trump drooling on books while sporting a jacket made of dollar bills, The Associated Press reported Monday. Hadi Asad said he wanted his cartoon to point out the “money-mindedness and war monger nature” of the president. “I wanted to show Trump while trampling symbols of culture,” Asadi told the AP.
Individuals from 74 countries participated in the exhibit that opened on Monday, including 1,614 Iranian cartoons and four American works. That is a lot of Trumpisms. Hopefully, they will publish a book and buying it will not be a sanctions violation.