• Gorsuch Says Trump's Attacks on Judiciary Are "Demoralizing"
• Senate Confirms Sessions
• Puzder: At One Time, 40% of My Employees Were Undocumented Immigrants
• An Early Look Inside the Trump White House
• Is Spicer in Trouble?
• Evangelical Leaders Slam Travel Ban
• Bobby Kennedy's Son Will Run for Governor of Illinois
President Donald Trump thought there would be no downside to him and his family continuing to run their businesses while he was in the White House. He may soon find out otherwise. The luxury department store Nordstrom announced on Feb. 3 that it was dropping Ivanka Trump's line of clothing. The store announced that it was not performing well, but it is hard to tell whether that is true or the store was feeling pressure from the Democrats' calls to boycott Trump's businesses as well as stores that sell Trump-branded products. Trump responded yesterday with a tweet saying: "My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person—always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!"
The organization Grab Your Wallet has produced a website listing stores that carry Trump-branded products for the convenience of shoppers who want to avoid them. The site also provides contact addresses for the stores and encourages boycotters to contact management and announce that they are former customers, but potential future customers if the store will drop all the Trump-branded products. Most stores hate getting involved in politics and if enough of the 66 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton stop shopping at the boycotted stores and tell management why, it could tie the companies in knots. (V)
As Donald Trump continued to attack federal judges who have ruled against him concerning his ban on people from seven majority-Muslim countries entering the U.S., his nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, told Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) that he was demoralized and disheartened by the tweets. The big question here is why Gorsuch said this to Blumenthal, knowing it would leak within minutes. Maybe he really feels that way.
Or maybe his campaign manager, Ron Bonjean, thought this would be a good way to win some votes from Democrats. And yes, Supreme Court nominees have to wage campaigns to get confirmed, so naturally they have campaign managers. Bonjean is a long-time Republican operative and former chief of staff of the Republican Senate Conference as well as communications director to former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Of course, if Trump is unhappy enough about Gorsuch's commentary, he could yank the nomination, so an attempt to win Democratic votes could backfire. (V)
In a vote yesterday in the Senate, now-former-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was confirmed to be the next attorney general on a vote of 52-47. Every Democrat voted against Sessions except Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who supported him. Every Republican but one voted for Sessions. The one Republican who didn't vote for Sessions was Sessions himself. He voted "present." Theoretically, Sessions could have voted for himself since he was still a sitting senator until he resigned last night, but his vote wasn't needed and it would be unseemly to do so. After his confirmation, a jubilant Sessions said: "I have an interest in law enforcement. I have an interest in the rule of law." That is certainly true since he was formerly the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama and later the attorney general of Alabama. (V)
Andrew Puzder, the secretary of labor-designate, once said that something like 40% of the employees at the fast food restaurants he ran were undocumented immigrants. He noted that when someone said the immigration enforcement agents were coming, 40% of the workers wouldn't show up. Some never showed up again. Puzder also employed an undocumented maid.
Maybe Donald Trump should reconsider his nomination. After all, the reason that immigrants come to the U.S. illegally is that people like Puzder are willing to hire them. If they couldn't get jobs, they wouldn't come. There is a system, called e-verify, which employers can use to try to determine who is a legal immigrants and who is not, but it is far from perfect and the database is full of errors.
What Puzder didn't say, however, is that employers with a lot of dead-end jobs, like fast-food restaurants, love undocumented immigrants because the company can pay them less than the minimum wage, not pay them overtime, engage in wage theft and other illegal ways of not paying them what they are owed, and they know the illegal workers are not going to run to the police. Since Puzder and Trump have such different views on undocumented immigrants, they may end up on a collision course sooner or later. (V)
The New York Times' Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman have apparently been interviewing everyone in the White House that they can get their hands on. The result is a juicy look at the state of the administration in its early weeks. Among the highlights:
- Trump generally spends his evenings alone in his bedroom, watching television and
tweeting. Insiders use the word "cloistered," as Trump is largely isolated from his
fans and supporters. He often yells at the TV when he doesn't like what he sees.
- Steve Bannon works 16-hour days, and runs virtually everything. Reportedly, he wrote
the order putting him on the National Security Council and had Trump sign it without
reading it. The President was quite irritated when he found out, but is still
allowing Bannon to be the #1 guy on the totem pole.
- Trump and his staff have started to realize that "fast" does not always equate to
"good." The President is well aware of his poor poll numbers, and if they slip further,
heads will roll.
- Reince Priebus is pushing for an overhaul of the White House's policy and communication
operations; Trump is amenable.
- Jared Kushner also has much power, but spends a fair bit of time raising his kids,
and another fair bit enjoying the Washington night life.
- Trump is "obsessed" with the decor in the Oval Office, and likes to schedule as many
TV hits as possible to show it off. He claims the drapes in his office were created
for FDR, but in fact they were made for Bill Clinton.
- The only picture Trump has on his desk is of his father.
It's quite a profile, and might pass for an essay by Albert Camus, if it weren't the truth. (Z)
There is little question that the Trump administration has gotten off to a rocky start. And among the rockiest beginnings has been the one put forth by White House Press Secretary and interim communications director Sean Spicer. He's gained a reputation for being overly combative and temperamental (including, on Wednesday, launching into a harangue against Sen. John McCain, R-AZ). He's also demonstrated a rather low regard for the truth, peddling outright falsehoods on a regular basis (including, this week, multiple references to the Atlanta terrorist attacks—which never happened). Consequently, he's become the butt of quite a few jokes, including the killer send-up by Melissa McCarthy on this weekend's episode of "Saturday Night Live."
Insiders say that the President is unhappy with Spicer's performance so far (and with Reince Priebus for recommending Spicer). Trump was particularly upset after he saw the McCarthy sketch (why he continues to watch SNL is anyone's guess). At the very least, Spicer will soon be relieved of the interim communications director title, as it's become clear he's not up to both jobs. And it's well within the realm of possibility that if someone's head needs to roll in order to give the administration a "reboot," it could be Spicer's. As Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Corey Lewandowski, and many others can attest, The Donald has a hair trigger and a complete willingness to throw underlings under the bus when the need arises. (Z)
When Donald Trump issued his travel ban on visitors from seven majority-Muslim countries, he was playing to his base, at the expense of loud and angry denunciations from liberals across the country. Well, as it turns out, some of the base is none too happy either. Specifically, there would be no Trump administration without the votes of millions of evangelicals, but now some of them are pushing back against the ban. Over 100 evangelical leaders have signed an open letter that will appear in dozens of newspapers this week, led by the Washington Post. "As Christian pastors and leaders, we are deeply concerned by the recently announced moratorium on refugee resettlement," the letter declares. "As Christians, we have a historic call expressed over two thousand years, to serve the suffering. We cannot abandon this call now."
Of course, not all evangelicals oppose the ban—a slim majority of white evangelicals (54%) support it, as do heavyweights like Ralph Reed and the Graham family. Still, the individuals who signed the letter command the attention and the loyalty of a very large number of Trump supporters. Politically speaking, the thought of being denounced from some of the nation's largest pulpits certainly has to give him pause, at the very least. He may very well be relieved if the courts kill the order, since he would still get most of the credit, while at the same time avoiding a lot of the blowback. (Z)
Chris Kennedy (53), the 8th child of former senator Robert Kennedy, announced yesterday that he intends to challenge Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-IL) in 2018. Kennedy serves as chairman of Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises, Inc., the Kennedy family investment firm. He also founded and leads Top Box Foods, a nonprofit that provides healthy, affordable foods to residents of Chicago. Kennedy is very wealthy and said, "I'm not afraid of a billionaire," meaning Gov. Rauner. Now that the Clinton dynasty seems to be over for the moment (although Chelsea Clinton is rumored to have interest in the NY-17 seat, when the 79-year-old Rep. Nita Lowey, D-NY, retires), the Democrats may be looking even further back, to the Kennedy dynasty. (V)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Feb08 Things Get Snippy in the Senate
Feb08 Judges Hear Travel Ban Injunction Arguments
Feb08 House Committee Votes to Kill Agency that Protects Voting Machines from Hacking
Feb08 Trump Lies About Murder Rates
Feb08 Breitbart News Is More Popular than Many Mainstream News Outlets
Feb08 Congress Has the Power to Demand and Release Trump's Tax Returns
Feb07 Democratic Politicians Are Listening to Their Furious Base
Feb07 Democrats Talked All Night To Stop DeVos
Feb07 All Protests, All The Time
Feb07 Price Could Eviscerate the ACA as Early as This Week
Feb07 Puzder Employed Undocumented Worker
Feb07 Author of "Torture is OK" Memos Thinks Trump Has Exceeded His Authority
Feb07 Conway Did Not Misspeak
Feb07 Politics Will Only Get Worse
Feb07 Taxpayers Pay Nearly $100,000 for Eric Trump's Business Trip
Feb06 The Senate Is Completely Broken
Feb06 Republicans Denounce Trump for Defending Putin
Feb06 McConnell: Congress Won't Get Involved with Trump Travel Ban
Feb06 Tech Companies Attack Travel Ban
Feb06 Trump Looms Large Over Super Bowl
Feb06 Republicans Are Already Undoing Obama's Legacy in Four Areas
Feb06 Bad News, Good News for Obamacare
Feb06 Pence Will Lead the Vote-fraud Commission
Feb06 Could Supreme Court Nominations Be Made Less Contentious?
Feb06 SNL Skewers Spicer
Feb05 Trump Attacks "So-called" Judge
Feb05 Ninth Circuit Court Upholds Robart's Order
Feb05 Trump Using Obama as a Crutch
Feb05 Is Trump More Popular than the Polls Show?
Feb05 CNN to Conway: Thanks, but no Thanks
Feb05 Congress Begins to Feel Left Out
Feb05 French Presidential Candidate Macron Welcomes Americans to France
Feb05 Stern Weighs in on Trump
Feb04 Trump Wins, then Loses in Court
Feb04 Trump Takes First Step to Eviscerate Dodd-Frank
Feb04 Trump and Congressional Republicans Differ on Tariffs
Feb04 Trump and Congressional Republicans Differ on the Wall
Feb04 Trump Appointees Still in Flux
Feb04 Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Scuttle LGBTQ Executive Order
Feb04 Kellyanne Conway Issues Forth with More "Alternative Facts"
Feb04 South Dakota GOP Repeals Anti-Corruption Law
Feb03 Trump Wants to Allow Churches to Engage in Politics
Feb03 Trump Considering How to Let People Ignore Federal Policies on Religious Grounds
Feb03 Republicans Taking Their Time with Sessions
Feb03 GOP Appears to Be Evolving on Obamacare
Feb03 Poll: 47% Think Trump Is Moving Too Fast
Feb03 The Ten Democratic Senators Least Likely to Support a Filibuster against Gorsuch
Feb03 Protests Are Having an Impact
Feb03 Potential Target for the Democrats: Educated Voters
Feb03 Trump Could Cost the Australian Prime Minister His Job
Feb03 Trump and Schwarzenegger in Spat
Feb02 Senate Finance Committee Changes Rules to Thwart Democrats
Feb02 Tillerson Confirmed as Secretary of State
Feb02 Foreign Relations off to a Rocky Start
Feb02 Collins and Murkowski Will Vote against Confirming Betsy DeVos
Feb02 House Republicans Kill Two Obama-era Regulations
Feb02 Biden Endorses Perez for DNC Chair
Feb02 Airline Stocks Lose $5 Billion
Feb02 Trump Celebrates Black History Month
Feb01 Trump Picks Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court
Feb01 Jeff Sessions' Committee Vote Postponed until Today
Feb01 Democrats Boycott Senate Finance Committee Votes on Mnuchin and Price
Feb01 Betsy DeVos Approved by Committee on Party-line Vote
Feb01 Another Campaign Promise Bites the Dust
Feb01 Four States Sue Trump Administration
Feb01 EU President Slams Trump
Feb01 Republicans Plan to Sell Off 3 Million Acres of Public Land
Feb01 Poll: Nation Sharply Divided on Muslim Ban
Feb01 Trump's Voter Fraud "Expert" Is Registered in Three States
Jan31 It's a Monday Night Massacre
Jan31 Congressional Staffers Helped Write the Muslim Ban
Jan31 Obama Speaks Out Against Immigration Ban
Jan31 Trump Supporters Feel Safer, Probably Aren't