Since election day, Trump has received over $30 million from Russia

When thinking about Donald Trump’s monetary dealings with Russia, it’s easy to think of them as being part of his past. Sure, he sold a Florida home to an oligarch for $100 million—well over twice its value. And, when his business was essentially bankrupt for the seventh time and no bank would give him a loan, Trump collected enough money from Russian mobsters for his rich guy act to continue. But that was … when was that?

Since Election Day, President Trump’s businesses have sold at least 30 luxury condos and oceanfront lots for about $33 million. That includes millions of dollars in properties to secretive shell companies, which can hide the identities of buyers or partners involved in the deals, a USA TODAY investigation has found.

Shell corporations, like those set up by friend of a friend Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze, who was the eighth man at that infamous Trump Tower get together. Kaveladze was there to represent Russian real estate family the Agaralovs. Before he became part of their operation to lobby Trump over the Magnitsky Act, Kaveladze had another job. He helped create more than 2,000 shell companies—most of which went right back to Aras and Emin Agaralov.

The use of shell companies by investors, added to the over 500 shell companies used by Donald Trump, can make the real actors behind real estate transactions hard for state and local officials to see without help. But they could be getting that help.

Details of some of those deals and other transactions by Trump’s family business could be unmasked as special counsel Robert Mueller expands his inquiry into election-meddling by Russia and whether Trump’s campaign colluded.

Which is why Trump is in a big, big hurry to stop Mueller.

Trump is more and more isolated . . .

On cue, in the wake of the stunning defeat of his health care initiative, President Trump is back sowing the seeds of division to appeal to his rapid base.

In a speech in front of law enforcement, he condoned police brutality. This is outrageous of course. But expect much more like it. The more isolated Mr. Trump gets, the more he is going to try to hold on to his political power by stirring up the seeds of intolerance. He will blame the “other” – no matter if that is transgender soldiers or past presidents at a Boy Scout rally. Both of those recent events backfired against Mr. Trump. The vast majority of the American public is not as hateful or spiteful as the president. The fissures in the GOP are cracking. They bought into Mr. Trump with the hopes of legislative victories. Now they see a self-described dealmaker dealing only in mounting losses and toxic rhetoric that riles up a few but turns off many more.

Playing up law and order as a culture war is a longtime tactic. But I don’t think it will play this time. Most people understand that we need police. Most police are good, decent, brave public servants. And the best police officers will tell you that the kind of policing that Mr. Trump is advocating is not only unconstitutional it is downright counterproductive. Most people are also horrified by police brutality. We need a lot of work on this issue. There is a lot of understandable tension between the police in many places and the people they are supposed to serve. There are longstanding racial histories at play. But I think we can overcome this. If we work together.

The role of a president should be about building unity. Those who are most powerful and most successful are the ones who do this. Only six months into office, Mr. Trump’s trajectory seems to be rapidly heading in the opposite direction.

Trump asked for it, McCain delivered

There is nothing Trump can do any more that will get to McCain.

Battling an aggressive form of brain cancer, McCain was willing to vote “NO” on the “skinny repeal” amendment so that other GOP colleagues who were also opposed to the measure could vote “yes” to save face with the conservative base.

To this day, Trump has never apologized for saying that the former fighter pilot was not a war hero because McCain was captured in Vietnam.

It gets less attention, but the president also besmirched the Arizona senator’s character by repeatedly accusing him of not taking care of other veterans.

McCain has never forgotten.

In addition to McCain, Trump has belittled, denigrated, and mocked a lot of other people.  The chickens are coming home to roost.  Trump has cut  himself off from all but the looniest of the loony.

Remember how Trump attacked McCain?? What goes around, comes around.

A dagger in Trump’s plans – BBC North America Correspondent Anthony Zurcher

The arc of history is long, but it bends towards revenge.

Just over two years after candidate Donald Trump mocked John McCain’s Vietnam War record, noting that he prefers heroes “who weren’t captured”, the Arizona senator stuck a dagger in President Trump’s healthcare reform plans.

There were gasps when Mr McCain, after being furiously lobbied by Vice-President Mike Pence, joined two other Republican senators in voting against the so-called “skinny” repeal plan, considered the bare minimum Senate Republicans could agree on.

Instead of a big step toward becoming law – either in its skinny form or after further negotiations with the House of Representatives – the future of Obamacare repeal has been thrown into doubt.

John McCain prefers Presidents who weren’t captured by Putin.

The Trump “presidency” ended last night . . . . and not a minute too soon

A remarkable thing happened in the Senate last night.

Enough Republican Senators realized that they could stop a bill that they did not want to become law by voting against it. The skinny Trumpcare bill failed, 49-51, when Republican Sens. Susan Collins (ME), John McCain (AZ), and Lisa Murkowski (AK) voted no. We might have to say nice things about McCain for a while. Stupid Sen. Dean Heller (NV), who has the most to lose, did not take this opportunity and voted with his leader.

Enough Senate Republicans decided that they didn’t want to  kick sixteen million people off of their health insurance next year. Or maybe they were just embarrassed by the whole dismal farce of a legislative process this whole thing has been.

What happens now is uncertain. Stay tuned.

Mitch McConnell clearly did not have a speech ready for this moment. McConnell was carrying only the “happy” envelope as Republicans called Mike Pence down to the Senate fully expecting that they had the votes they needed to pass the “skinny repeal.”

They didn’t.

And in the aftermath of the vote, McConnell was forced to admit that he was out of ideas. Out of options. And that, worst of all, the only option remaining to Republicans was to … work with the Democrats.

McConnell stumbled though a mumbled, downbeat speech in which he said he’d “like to hear their ideas, I really would.” And now, he will.

Finally, McConnell delivered a line that clearly cost him dearly … “No more votes tonight.”

More than just the defeat of an awful bill, this was a massive slap in the face to McConnell’s unprecedented short-circuiting of Senate process.  And where was “president” Trump?

 

Do not relax . . . THE WORST IS YET TO COME. This nation is headed into a deep, dark place with no exit

The Court of Mad King Donald is not a presidency. It is an affliction, one that saps the life out of our democratic institutions, and it must be fiercely resisted if the nation as we know it is to survive.

I wish that were hyperbole. The problem is not just that President Trump is selfish, insecure, egotistical, ignorant and unserious. It is that he neither fully grasps nor minimally respects the concept of honor, without which our governing system falls apart. He believes “honorable” means “obsequious in the service of Trump.” He believes everyone else’s motives are as base as his.

The Trump administration is, indeed, like the court of some accidental monarch who is tragically unsuited for the duties of his throne. However long it persists, we must never allow ourselves to think of the Trump White House as anything but aberrant. We must fight for the norms of American governance lest we forget them in their absence.

It gets worse and worse. The past week has marked a succession of new lows.

Trump has started a sustained campaign to goad or humiliate Attorney General Jeff Sessions into resigning. Trump has blasted Sessions on Twitter, at a news conference, in newspaper interviews and at a campaign-style rally. He has called Sessions “beleaguered” and said repeatedly how “disappointed” he is in the attorney general.

The relationship between President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has deteriorated in recent months. Here’s a look at how they got to this point.

Forget, for the moment, that Sessions was the first sitting U.S. senator to support Trump’s campaign, giving him credibility among conservatives. Forget also that Sessions is arguably having more success than any other Cabinet member in getting Trump’s agenda implemented. Those things aside, what kind of leader treats a lieutenant with such passive-aggressive obnoxiousness? Trump is too namby-pamby to look Sessions in the eye and say, “You’re fired.”

That’s what the president clearly is trying to summon the courage to do, however. The Post reported that Trump has been “musing” with his courtiers about the possibility of firing Sessions and naming a replacement during the August congressional recess.

Trump has no respect for the rule of law. He is enraged that Sessions recused himself from the investigation of Russia’s meddling in the election, and thus is not in a position to protect the House of Trump from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. According to the New York Times, “Sharing the president’s frustration have been people in his family, some of whom have come under scrutiny in the Russia investigation.” I’m guessing that means the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Who elected them , by the way?

Trump seeks to govern by whim and fiat. On Wednesday morning, he used Twitter to announce a ban on transgender people serving in the military, surprising his own top military leaders. A Pentagon spokesman told reporters to ask the White House for details; White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters to ask the Pentagon. Was Trump trying to reignite the culture wars? Would the thousands of transgender individuals now serving in the military be purged? Was this actual policy or just a fit of indigestion?

Inside the mad king’s court, the internecine battles are becoming ever more brutal. Members of Trump’s inner circle seek his favor by leaking negative information about their rivals. This administration is more hostile to the media than any in recent memory but is also more eager to whisper juicy dirt about the ambitious courtier down the hall.

Trump’s new favorite, Anthony Scaramucci, struts around more like a chief of staff than a communications director, which is his nominal role. Late Wednesday night — after dining with Trump and his head cheerleader, Sean Hannity — Scaramucci took a metaphorical rapier to the actual chief of staff, Reince Priebus, by strongly hinting on Twitter that Priebus leaks to reporters. The next morning, Scaramucci told CNN that “if Reince wants to explain that he’s not a leaker, let him do that.” And in a profanity-laden phone call to the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, Scaramucci called Priebus “a f—ing paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac.”

Why bring in Scaramucci? Because, I fear, the mad king is girding for war. Trump is reckless enough to fire Mueller if he digs too deeply into the business dealings of the Trump Organization and the Kushner Companies.

What then? Will Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) draft and push through a new special-prosecutor statute so that Mueller can quickly be reappointed? Will House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately open debate on articles of impeachment? Will we, the people, defend our democracy?

Do not become numb to the mad king’s outrages. The worst is yet to come.

Trump’s transgender ban has nothing to do with military service

“Inside Trump’s snap decision to ban transgender troops”


A congressional fight over sex reassignment surgery threatened funding for his border wall.

Excerpt:

“House Republicans were planning to pass a spending bill stacked with his campaign promises, including money to build his border wall with Mexico.

But an internal House Republican fight over transgender troops was threatening to blow up the bill. And House GOP insiders feared they might not have the votes to pass the legislation because defense hawks wanted a ban on Pentagon-funded sex reassignment operations — something GOP leaders wouldn’t give them.

They turned to Trump, who didn’t hesitate. In the flash of a tweet, he announced that transgender troops would be banned altogether.”