The machinations of the Trump/Bannon Administration move at a ferocious pace. I’m trying to find an efficient means of keeping up without giving up my day job. In the meantime, here’s my recap of just the events of Trump’s first week in office – BEFORE he issued the disastrous immigration orders that have set up the current constitutional crisis. Stay tuned.
Karoli Kuns and I signed off from our MOMochat podcast last Thursday with the knowledge that the inauguration of our new 45th President would signify the beginning of a frightening new era.
It has been much, much, worse than we ever anticipated. In the course of one week, our new authoritarian leader put a new meaning to “bully pulpit.” He and his merry band of liars also got creative with the definition of the word, “facts.” And as I tried to write this “quick” summary, the Trump immigration ban catastrophe continued to spin out of control.
Karoli has pointed out that what are now experiencing is a multi-front war. So I’m going to categorize some of them as I bounce through the highlights.
Team Trump’s Obsession with Crowd Size
President Donald J. Trump began his term in a celebratory mood, by signing an executive order proclaiming January 20 a National Day of Patriotism (although it is unsure if he understands that the unprecedented number of Americans protesting his presidency are expressing just that). But leaks out of the new White House staff revealed that privately, he was incensed at reporting that his Inaugural crowd was not, in fact, the most tremendous audience for such an event in history.
When the National Parks Department – which manages the National Mall – released a photo of Trump’s inaugural crowd alongside one showing Barack Obama’s record 2009 turnout, the new President reacted in typical Trumpian fashion: He banned the National Parks Service from using its official Twitter accounts.
According to crowd size analysts who use aerial photos and mathematics to come up with an estimate, Donald J. Trump’s inauguration on January 20 was attended by between 100-200,000 people. That’s not too shabby – until you compare his crowd to the enthusiastic throngs that spilled out past the Washington Monument in 2009 for the historic occasion of Barack Obama’s first inauguration.
On Saturday, Trump began his first full day as President at a prayer service. He then attempted to mend fences with the intelligence community by giving a speech to employees at CIA headquarters. It did not go well.
Additionally, Trump was reminded again of how sparse his crowd was when millions of protesters marched in cities around the world – all to protest his new administration. That afternoon, press secretary Sean Spicer called an emergency press conference, where he blasted the media for reporting accurately that Trump’s inauguration wasn’t that well attended compared with that of President Obama. He then proceeded to try to gaslight the nation by insisting that despite what we all could see with our own eyes, President Trump’s inauguration enjoyed enjoyed “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta fact-checked one of Spicer’s claims with the Secret Service:
A USSS spokesperson tells us no magnetometers were used on the National Mall for Trump's inauguration.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) January 22, 2017
But President Trump’s day got exponentially worse. While the Secret Service accomplished their job of keeping the Women’s March on Washington from getting too close to the White House, there was no way to ignore the swarming masses of people who had descended upon the Capital to protest the new Administration – especially since it was so easy to compare the volume of marchers with the much smaller audiences Trump drew just 24 hours earlier.
The World Learns About Alternative Facts
By Sunday, it was apparent that we were about to be hit by a tsunami of lies and propaganda. Kellyanne Conway appeared on Meet the Press and calmly told Chuck Todd that Spicer wasn’t lying, just stating “alternative facts.”
We learned that at the previous day’s speech at CIA headquarters, Trump had brought along his own studio audience to react to his jokes and applause points.
And a steady stream of leaks from the White House revealed a President described as a “clueless child,” absolutely obsessed with the size of his audience.
And it’s only going to get worse: As the week wore on, we learned that the White House was adding new staffers with resumes honed at Breitbart.
The Republican Congress Dictates and Trump Rubberstamps
As Trump took office, the White House website was updated to reflect the new administration. This was to be expected – but some of the decisions his team made were appalling and frightening, such as a decision to completely remove any mention of climate change.
HUD suspended an Obama mortgage insurance rate reduction that would have helped low-income home owners. He signed this executive action just one hour after taking office.
And the executive orders kept on coming at a dizzying pace: 15 as of January 30, which ironic from a party that constantly complained that President Obama ruled by executive fiat. (Obama, in fact, issued fewer executive orders than many of his immediate predecessors and averaged 35 orders per year – meaning that in one week, Trump is nearly halfway to Obama’s annual output).
But where are these policy ideas coming from? We’re pretty sure the executive orders sprang from the pen of Steve Bannon and the shadowy cabal that has been dictating conservative policy for the last three decades. We’re also pretty sure the Republicans in Congress take their marching orders from the same people. While the nation’s attention was in the hoopla surrounding the inauguration, the House quietly changed some language in their rules that would lay the groundwork to give away 640 MILLION ACRES of federally-owned land to the states, eliminating some $600 billion to the economy from recreational use. The fear is that the states would withdraw great swaths of parkland from the public and then award it to energy and mining companies instead. Think of that the next time Congress whines that there’s no money in the budget for social programs.
But the most frightening thing about this rapid flurry of executive action after executive action is that unlike those of previous Presidents, Trump’s orders have not been carefully vetted by staff legal experts – or anyone, as far as we can tell. This explains the utter turmoil and confusion caused by the weekend’s anti-immigration orders… and portends a busy calendar for the nation’s courts.
Voter Fraud and IOKIYAR: It’s OK If You Are Republican
On Wednesday, ABC aired a terrifying interview with our new Commander-in-Chief, where his narcissism was on full display as he continued to obsess over his crowd size and popularity.
Trump also reiterated his belief that he won the popular vote, and that at least 3 million votes for Hillary Clinton were the result of voter fraud – even though these are allegations that have been disproven again and again. It turned out that Trump based his claim on the output of an app called VoteStand, based on data from True the Vote, which has spent years actively working to deny voting rights to minorities that tend to vote for Democrats). He called for an investigation of states he lost, of people who are registered in more than one state.
Within 24 hours, it was reported that several people on Team Trump – including daugher Tiffany and son-in-law Jared Kushner – are also registered in two states. So was Bannon, until the day before the announcement.
The hypocrisy got worse when it was revealed that members of Trump’s staff are using private email accounts registered to the RNC. After all the rhetoric regarding Hillary Clinton’s private email server, one has to wonder: Where are the calls to “lock THEM up”?
But this kind of news kept getting worse, as we learned that Trump’s new official @POTUS Twitter was registered to an unsecured Gmail account. Buzzfeed further reported:
This week a hacker who identifies himself as as WauchulaGhost told CNN that he had been able to easily find the emails associated with @POTUS, @FLOTUS, and @VP accounts and suggested the White House update security settings. WauchulaGhost told CNN that the accounts “haven’t selected a basic security feature on Twitter that requires you to provide a phone number or email address to reset your password.”
And just this morning, White House press secretary Sean Spicer appeared to accidentally tweet out the password to one of his accounts. Some have suggested that Spicer was trying to log in to his Twitter account using two-factor authentication and accidentally copied in his password.
Keeping the Nation Safe
On Thursday, we learned that a purge of upper management at the State Department had occurred, draining the nation’s diplomatic corps of institutional memory and some of its most experienced staffers – just as the least-experienced Secretary of State in our history is about to take office.
Draining the Swamp
News that the cost of initiation fees at Mar-A-Lago had been doubled to $200,000 a year. ”
A spokesman for Trump Hotels told CNBC that the company sees “significant growth opportunity in the United States for both our hotel brands.”
In fact, the folks at Trump Hotels are bullish for their entire brand, announcing they plan to triple their number of locations in the U.S.
And What About Russia?
As the transition barreled on to culmination, classified documents were released that strongly indicated that Russia’s involvement in the 2016 US election aimed to do a lot more than merely influence it. On the eve of the Inauguration, Representative Elijah Cummings told CNN that he advocated an investigation into that interference with the weight of the one we launched after 9/11, because “members of Congress have a lot of information that the public does not have and…and if the public knew what members of Congress know” there would be a lot more support.
There wasn’t a lot of talk about this in Washington this week, but the news out of Moscow was especially troubling and appeared to confirm the allegations in the #GoldenShowerGate dossier made public earlier this month: It began with news that Russians arrested an intelligence officer and a Kaspersky employee tasked with preventing cybercrime at Kaspersky – for treason.
Let’s begin with that Women’s March on January 20 – the one that contributed to Trump becoming so unglued that he ordered Sean Spicer to hold that bizarre first press conference. The grassroots event began as a throwaway Facebook post by disappointed Hillary Clinton supporters on November 9… and grew into a worldwide phenomenon, with millions of marchers showing up in over 600 locations around the globe.
I marched along with Karoli Kuns in Los Angeles, and that protest was the most exhilarating thing I had experienced since the disastrous result of the election. We arrived at the Pershing Square meeting place with an expectation that there would be around 100,000 in attendance – but by the time we finished, LAPD estimated a crowd five times that size. We were stuck standing in place for the first 30 minutes or so, because the crowd was too big to fit onto the carefully planned route from Pershing Square to City Hall. The city had to close traffic off from several more streets before the marchers could spread out and proceed.
My Facebook and Twitter stream following the march was an unending — of photos and videos of women and men with pink pussyhats and funny signs. A woman was quoted by the press as saying that being a part of that gigantic outpouring of protest was the first time she’d felt hopeful since November 9. That’s how I felt,too.
Even before his inaugural gag order of the National Park Service, there was evidence that the new President might not be supportive of scientists on the government payroll. In December, the CDC canceled its own conference on climate change and health – prompting observers to fear that government departments would quash its own research.
Backlash was swift. NASA announced they were making all scientific data derived from their federally funded research available to the public for free.
On Tuesday of last week, a former social media employee from Badlands National Park began using the park’s official Twitter account to tweet facts about climate change. A few hours later, the tweets were promptly deleted – but not before they got noticed and amplified. The Administration asked the Interior Department to temporarily cease communicating on Twitter.
And that’s when all hell broke loose: Someone set up shop on Twitter as BadHombreLandsNPS and began a tweetstorm of information and messages of resistance. Support was swift. The following day, Reuters reported that rogue Twitter accounts had “been launched in defiance of what they say are President Donald Trump’s attempts to muzzle federal climate change research and other science,” by a dozen different agencies.
As of this writing, there are 59 alternate Twitter accounts for different National Parks and Federal agencies, as well as an unverified and likely Rogue POTUS Staff account that purports to spill the secrets emanating from Trump and his minions. These are the things that are giving hope to me and many of the majority of Americans who did not vote for this Administration.