Trump-a-day

White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney is touting a new term for President Trump’s economic agenda, calling it “MAGAnomics” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
“We are promoting MAGAnomics – and that means sustained 3 percent economic growth,” Mulvaney wrote. The substance of MAGAnomics, which uses an acronym for Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” is no different than what Mulvaney has been describing as Trumponomics for weeks. In May, The Economist published a withering cover story entitled, “Why Trumponomics won’t make America great again.” After interviewing the president on his economic agenda, the magazine concluded that Trumponomics “is not an economic doctrine at all.” In the aftermath of the article, Mulvaney made multiple appearances stating that Trumponomics meant achieving sustained 3 percent economic growth.

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President Trump this week lamented the difficulty of passing the Republican healthcare plan though Congress, likening it to the decades-long Israel-Palestine conflict. “I’d say the only thing more difficult than peace between Israel and the Palestinians is healthcare,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday night en route to France. Contrary to his previous proclamations that his administrations was absolutely going to broker peace deal in the Middle East, Trump has since admitted that the task was far more complicated that he had thought.


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Although thousands of Parisians were preparing to protest the US President’s visit to France, the rest of the capital gave a collective shrug as life continued as normal. The Independent interviewed a number of people on the streets of Paris and learned – “I don’t like him but if Emmanuel Macron decided to invite him it’s for some reason,” “Mr Trump can do whatever he wants – I don’t agree with it but it’s not like that here” and “the controversial state visit could do good by introducing Mr Trump to a “different culture.””
France has not forgotten the President’s previous remarks claiming “no go areas” existed in European cities and suggesting the country was incapable of fighting terror attacks on its soil, with protesters creating their own “no Trump zones” filled with music, dancing and performances.

On Thursday the French President and first lady, Brigitte Macron, took Mr and Mrs Trump sightseeing, which included a tour of the Les Invalides war memorial and Elysee Palace before a bilateral meeting, followed by a luxurious dinner in the Eiffel Tower’s famed Le Jules Verne restaurant. The dinner menu was rumoured to include blue lobster and caviar.

Somewhere along the way, Trump made ageist and sexist remarks to Madame Macron.


He also did that creepy handshake thing he is so famous for.


Trump also made a statement on the Paris Climate Agreement.  

Trump is to be the guest of honour at Friday’s military parade on the Champs-Elysees, the first time a US President had attended since George Bush in 1989.  

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Notable cover page 


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In genuinely good news, Michelle Obama made a rare public appearance at the 2017 ESPY Awards on Wednesday night. After receiving a standing ovation upon being introduced, Obama gave a heartfelt speech as she presented the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage to Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, posthumously.


Picture ABC News

“She knew that when we give others a chance to fulfil their greatest potential, we all win,” Obama said, according to The Hill.

Obama described how Shriver, a champion for people with intellectual disabilities, created the Special Olympics in the 1960s and turned the event into a global phenomenon. “Through her passionate service she made the world more welcoming,” Obama said. 

Shriver’s son, Tim, who accepted the award on her behalf, summed up Obama’s presence best: “Once a great first lady, still a great first lady.” It was so nice to see our favourite FLOTUS! 

Trump-a-day

A growing number of White House and Trump campaign officials are hiring their own lawyers to handle the wide-ranging probe into whether the president’s associates colluded with Russia’s 2016 election-meddling effort, The Hill reports.

Trump, Vice President Pence and the president’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner, have all hired personal lawyers, as did Trump’s long-time lawyer Michael Cohen and several former aides. Trump allies and White House veterans who have dealt with investigations say it’s prudent for staff members who might be swept up in the Russia probe to enlist their own legal help, even though hiring lawyers could place a heavy financial burden on some staff who did not enter government service with large bank accounts. Deep-pocketed Trump aides and confidants have retained veteran Washington lawyers who command high fees to help them navigate the investigation. Kushner, for example, has hired former Clinton Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick and renowned defence attorney Abbe Lowell. “There are famous stories from the Clinton White House about these astronomical fees,” said Robert Ray, a former independent counsel during the Whitewater scandal. 

Jennifer Palmieri, a long-time Democratic strategist who served as former President Clinton’s deputy press secretary, told The Hill that the experience of working in a White House under investigation is “even more disorienting than it appears.” “No one in a position of authority at the White House tells you what is happening,” she wrote in an op-ed last month. “No one knows. Your closest colleague could be under investigation and you would not know. You could be under investigation and not know. It can be impossible to stay focused on your job.” Inside the West Wing, staff are fearful that speaking out could result in them becoming entangled in the Mueller investigation. White House officials were reluctant to speak about the probe, even anonymously, out of concern about possible legal pitfalls. A dream job it is not.

President Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to hit back. He praised his son for doing “a good job” in a TV interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News on Tuesday night. 


Parents…the most objective people when it comes to their children. 

Trump also blasted the “fake media” for what he said was the use of imaginary sources (i.e. his son’s emails, which Trump Jr. personally released on Twitter).


Thirdly, Trump hit at Clinton and the Democratic Party, condemning what he implied were double-standards. 


If Trump did not mention Clinton, it would have been most strange. He always seems to turn to her in moments of distress.

Rick Wilson, a Florida-based GOP strategist and a long-standing Trump critic said that “administration is paralyzed from its own actions. Nothing is getting done.” The increasing number of lawyers could make life even more difficult for a White House staff that is struggling to advance President Trump’s policy agenda by limiting communication and creating divisions between aides.


Trump said he’ll be “very angry” if Senate Republicans aren’t able to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obama Care, as GOP leaders get ready to unveil their updated legislation. Trump said Republicans have been promising for years that they’d repeal Obama Care, and now with Republicans controlling Congress and the White House, he said he’s “waiting” to sign a repeal bill. What if Senate Republicans aren’t able to pass their bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act? “Well, I don’t even want to talk about it, because I think it would be very bad. I will be very angry about it and a lot of people will be very upset,” Trump said during an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network’s Pat Robertson.

Meanwhile, in Russia

Trump-a-day

As is its weekly tradition, the White House is facing yet another grave crisis in the wake of the publication of emails between the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and a go-between for a Russian lawyer. The emails from June 2016 call into question the main pillars of the White House’s defence against allegations of Russian involvement in the 2016 election. 


Picture: www.sickchirpse.com
In one of the messages, music publicist Rob Goldstone, who acted as an intermediary in setting up the meeting, said Russian government sources were offering information and documents that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. told Goldstone in an email six days before the meeting occurred.

Trump Jr. published the emails on Twitter moments before The New York Times released them. In an accompanying statement, the president’s son said he was releasing the emails “in order to be totally transparent.” Why wait so long (and until the Times was about to publish) if Trump Jr. is genuinely concerned about transparency? Also this somewhat voluntarily revelation contradicts Team Trump’s repeated statement that while Russia may indeed have meddled in the election, there was no coordination or communication between Moscow and their campaign. Where was Trump Jr. in the last year? Why was a music publicist involved in this? So many questions. All in all, a classic example of inexperienced people jumping above their heads…

The atmosphere of crisis was apparent at the White House and in the broader Trump orbit, where hatches were battened down amid the storm. At a press briefing that was conducted off camera and lasted 22 minutes, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly parried reporters’ questions on the emails by saying their queries should be directed to the personal lawyers of the people involved. Sanders read a brief statement from the president during the briefing. “My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency,” the statement read in full. Well, very predictable and Twitter-friendly (under 140 characters).

The president’s Twitter feed remained free of any mention of the controversy enveloping his son, though he did tweet about his efforts to bring the Olympics to the U.S. and about “big wins against ISIS!”

Joe Sandler, an attorney who specialises in election law and who represents Democratic and progressive clients, said that the email from Trump to Goldstone was “direct evidence that [Trump Jr.] solicited something of value, which counts as a contribution from a foreign national” — a potential violation of campaign law. That interpretation is a source of dispute among legal experts. Sandler also poured scorn on the idea that the kind of exchange represented in the emails is commonplace on political campaigns. “It is very common for people on campaigns and people on committees to talk to people who claim to have damaging information about the opponent. But that is not foreign governments,” he said. “That is the key.”


Picture: Huffington Post 

Trump Jr. said Tuesday he would be willing to testify under oath about his election-year meeting with a Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya who offered compromising information about Hillary Clinton.

“And you have nothing to hide,” Fox News host Sean Hannity told Trump Jr. during an interview that aired Tuesday night. “That means you’ll testify under oath, all of that?”

“All of it,” Trump Jr. responded. He also said the meeting “went nowhere and it was apparent that that wasn’t what the meeting was actually about. I wouldn’t have even remembered it until you started scouring through this stuff. It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame,” he said. Trump Jr. did not rule out the possibility that he spoke about the campaign with other Russians. “I don’t even know. I’ve probably met with other people from Russia but certainly not in the context of actual formalised meetings or anything,” he said. If he is asked to testify, he’ll need to get his story straight, that’s for sure.

In a Tuesday interview with NBC News, Veselnitskaya offered a different account of the meeting. She said she never had any damaging information on Clinton and it was never her intention to secure the meeting under the impression that she did. “It is quite possible that maybe they were longing for such an information. They wanted it so badly that they could only hear the thought that they wanted,” Veselnitskaya said. Veselnitskaya also denied any connection to the Russian government. The Kremlin has said it does not know anything about the meeting.

Although it is not clear what happened in that meeting, contrary to Goldstone’s assurances, there is nothing to say that Hillary Clinton had any incriminating dealings with Russia. Not a statement the Trump family can use anymore.  
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Notable tweet

Sunday Book Club: “Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?” by Alyssa Mastromonaco

Alyssa Mastromonaco is under the impression that Barack Obama did not like her very much when she interviewed for him in December 2004. Mastromonaco heard about a position in Senator Obama’s team from colleagues who she worked with on John Kerry’s presidential campaign. Lesson number one: your network is your most valuable asset. Getting a job in so many cases is about who you know as much as what you know. We are not talking nepotism, though. A diverse network of contacts is like a safety net. I had a very unpleasant work crisis last year, and it was a colleague and friend from my very first job, who lent me so much of her sanity, I did not even need a shoulder to cry on. Sure, families matter a lot, but if you want someone who just gets it about work and your specific career issues, reach out to people swimming in the same ocean.
Mastromonaco did get a job in the then-senator Obama’s office. In the decade that followed, she served as assistant to the president and director of scheduling and advance at the White House, and then as assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for operations at the White House until 2014. She was the youngest woman to hold that position. As part of her job, she coordinated logistics and operations of two presidential campaigns and inaugurations, devised plans for recovery during natural disasters, including floods and hurricanes, oversaw Obama’s foreign travels, including his trips to Afghanistan and Iraq, and so much more. This year, Mastromonaco published a book, reflecting on her experience and lessons learned. Her main goal was to get more women interested in and excited about working in government. As she admits, there never was a woman from the White House who had written such kind of book before. The lessons Mastromonaco shares could be useful to anyone in any industry.

Lesson Two: Be always prepared to defend your choices, whether just to yourself or to your coworkers, friends or family. “The quickest way for people to lose confidence in your ability to ever make a decision is for you to pass the buck, shrug your shoulders, or otherwise wuss out.” 

Mastromonaco gave insight in what it was like having Obama as your boss. The book is generously peppered with most amazing stories. As you might have guessed, Barack Obama is not someone who makes you feel small; there is no external pressure to make you take shortcuts. He assumed his team were adults and learned their own lessons when things did not exactly go as planned. 

Lesson Three: Do as much research as you can and keep your ears open. You will learn a lot about yourself by being open to hearing feedback. 

Lesson Four: The importance of self-awareness – knowing when you are at your best, what you are like on not so good days, and how much sleep you need to function without snapping at people – will allow you to keep your contacts, reputation and sanity throughout your career. Developing self-awareness is a life long process. Just stop and listen to yourself from time to time. In return, your mind and body will give you their optimal performance. 

Lesson Five: Know when it is time to leave. Mastromonaco left the White House when she reached the level of exhaustion, nervousness and insomnia that was beyond coping. We all have different reasons to say “that’s enough.” The point is, do not overstay when you know it is hopeless. I firmly believe that as we only have one life to live, we must make the most of it. Surviving in a place you hate is never a way forward. Remember, self-awareness.

Lesson Six: Know your worth. After leaving the White House, Mastromonaco accepted a job offer from VICE, where she had to negotiate her salary. Her advice: if a potential employer asks how much you want, the best response is “I’m sure there’s a salary band for the position, and my hope would be to come in at the high end of that.” For some of us, money talk will never be easy, but this is a diplomatic way to show that, as far as you are concerned, you deserve the best in your league.

Lesson Seven: Never underestimate the importance of kindness, which extends beyond “please” and “thank you.” Mastromonaco put it brilliantly: “Working in the White House is obviously heady, but it is also humbling – you are around the most brilliant, decorated brains in the country, that do not have to do anything for you, but they often do. If you approach it with grace – and a willingness to accept that many people know much more than you – you can walk away a much better person than you were when you came in.” 

At some point in your career, you will be the youngest, the oldest, the newbie, and, if you stick around long enough, the most experienced person in the room. How exciting is this! Nothing is truer than an old adage: “love what you do, and do what you love.” 

I considered keeping this book in my personal library. However, it is too good not to be shared. Therefore, as most of my books, I will be donating it to Oxfam, so it can inspire someone else. 

Trump-a-day

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. 

drawingimage.com

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.

Trump-a-day

That moment when you get on the train and see Trump doing his signature fist pump… 

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?

The artists and cartoonists’ take on the Trump-Putin meeting.