Covering

Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

President Trump blames the media (again) while admonishing Coast Guard grads to "never give up."

Lauds his work as president.

President Trump took his blame-the-media speech to New London, Connecticut Wednesday where he gave the commencement address to the 2017 graduating class of U.S. Coast Guard.

The president admonished the graduates to "never give up", suggesting he won the presidency because he never gave up his fight against "unfair" events, "especially by the media."

"Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media", Trump said.

"No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.  You can’t let them get you down.  You can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams."

The president told the graduates they "will find that things happen to you that you do not deserve and that are not always warranted.  But you have to put your head down and fight, fight, fight.  Never, ever, ever give up.  Things will work out just fine", he said.

Trump may be wondering if his tenure as president will 'work out just fine' as he has come under fire by the media (and by Democrats and Republicans alike) for his charge with Russia and his firing of then-FBI Director James Comey. Trump is accused of asking Comey to end an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and his ties with Russian officials.

[See: Dems call for impeachment of President Trump]
[See also: President Trump said Comey told him, three times, he was not  under investigation]

Trump lauds his work since becoming president.

Not all of the president's remarks were about his relationship with the media. He also praised the Coast Guard for their work, while lauding his own.

"I’ve accomplished a tremendous amount in a very short time as President", Trump said.

"Jobs pouring back in to our country; a brand-new Supreme Court justice; a historic investment in our military; border crossings are down more than 70 percent in just a short period of time (by a lot); we’ve saved the Second Amendment, expanded service for our veterans, and we are going to take care of our veterans like they’ve never been taken care of before", he said to audience applause.

[See: Trump's jobs claim fact checked].

And there are more claims the president said he has done since becoming president (parts truncated, see entire speech here).

"I’ve loosened up the strangling environmental chains wrapped around our country and our economy; we’ve begun plans and preparations for the border wall, (which he claims "is going along very, very well"); we’re working on major tax cuts for all, and we’re also getting closer and closer, day-by-day, to great health care for our citizens.

[See latest article on rising health care rates]

"And we are setting the stage right now for many, many more things to come", the president said to an enthusiastic audience.

With what the Trump administration has already brought in such a short period of time, more Americans may wonder if they can handle Trump's claim of "more to come", and wonder if America is really "winning like never before"?

New

President Trump responds to news Robert Mueller pegged to investigate U.S. elections tampering by Russia.

"As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity.  I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.  In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.






Monday, April 24, 2017

President Obama talks civic engagement with emerging youth leaders.

Today, in what could be seen as his first public forum since leaving office, President Obama reached out to young leaders during a civic engagement event at the University of Chicago to listen to thoughts and ideas on how youth can, and are, working to improve communities through engagement and opportunity.

President Obama talks with youth during University of Chicago youth forum.
The panel of youth who have forged ahead in their own lives to make positive differences talked about their own successes while providing ideas on how other youth can get involved to improve the quality of life and opportunity for today's youth.

Samuel Figueroa a student from Roosevelt University shared the ideal of making “personal connections” to private situations.

He said he believes in providing statistics to show where the need is in communities and said he likes to “connect the facts.” Figueroa also said that “listening” is key.

“It’s true”, said Obama. “When I was organizing I listened to find out way of connecting [people’s] immediate needs to the policies that address their immediate concern.”

Obama used the example of child care suggesting “You can tell someone they need child care”, but helping them get child care is where the engagement comes in.

Harish Patel of New America said the electoral politics is one of the many routes to engagement.

"I couldn’t vote, but civic engagement expands on what your parents did", said Patel.

Patel said he began his civic engagement by protesting the war in Iraq.  He said he went back to college to understand the “political jargon”.  

“I wanted to be eligible to participate in what is the most effective way to live my live and have impact.”

Other panel participants included Tiffany Brown, college grad (magna cum laude, pharmaceutical studies) and Max Freeman of the University of Chicago.

Obama is likely to make more public appearances like today's event at the University of Chicago. On November 18, the former president is scheduled to headline the Richmond Forum in Richmond, Va.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Did Attorney General Sessions Hear What Civil Rights Groups Said?

Members of civil rights groups met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice Tuesday with a list of concerns they say were meant to put Sessions “on notice.”

"The meeting was two-fold", said Wade Henderson, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. We met with Sessions "to present the agenda of national civil rights organizations and to discuss with the AG our expectations for his responsibility to the American people to address issues of national concern regarding civil and human rights", he said.


Civil rights groups met with the press after meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions Tuesday at the Department of Justice. Pictured are: Marc Morial, National Urban League. From left to right:  Rev. Al Sharpton, National Action Network; Wade Henderson, Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund (hidden); Kristen Clarke, president & executive director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and the Black Women's Roundtable. Photo/CD Brown.
Henderson said the second part of their discussion with Sessions focused on the group’s opposition and disagreement to several initiatives the DOJ has already undertaken on a range of civil and human rights matters.

“And we brought those issues to the attention of the attorney general”, Henderson said.

One of the issues concerning to the group includes President Trump's initial travel ban that affected middle eastern countries that mainly included Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen and Iraq. Trump’s revised ban now excludes Iraq but reports indicate the ban did nothing to keep 'bad apples' out of the country, but rather detained and inconvenienced people just because they had Muslim sounding names.

Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network said the group also wants the attorney general to investigate recent cases of police misconduct such as in the cases of Eric Garner and Walter Scott

Garner was ambushed by several police officers as he stood on the streets of New York, allegedly selling lose cigarettes. A video of the incident shows one officer putting Garner, who was not confrontational in the video, in a choke hold for seemingly no reason at all. Garner could be repeatedly heard saying he couldn’t breathe. 


“For two-and-a-half years that case has been laying there”, Sharpton said. “There has been a federal investigation. I asked him (Sessions) to move forward, aggressively on that case.”

Sharpton said Sessions had not looked into the case, but said he would now do so.

The group maintains that they also need Sessions to speak out on incidents of hate crimes.

“When we see what is going on in Jewish cemeteries, bomb threats, the targeting of Muslims, the targeting of people because of sexual orientation, he needs to be the voice against hate and he needs to speak out and he needs to prosecute those who are engaged in this activity", said Sharpton.

But did Sessions hear the words that were coming out of the mouths of the group also concerned about the rights of people of color, women, immigrants and other vulnerable groups, and their right to be protected from discrimination and violence?

“To our dismay, the Attorney General offered no commitment to ensure all of the nation’s civil rights laws are enforced”, said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Sessions has come under fire for his past record as senator from Alabama where he opposed legal and illegal immigration and amnesty and supported expansion of the border fence with Mexico.  

Since Trump's call to deport "bad people" out of the country, a growing number of Latino families have been separated from their children and family members.

Session’s stance on civil rights also comes into question after it was reported in the 1960's that he made remarks disparaging civil-rights organizations.  
We spoke to a well-known civil rights attorney about Sessions’ track record, prior to Sessions being nominated for attorney general. We were told (under anonymity) by the civil rights attorney that he felt Sessions was not fit for the job. He answered our question on whether Sessions would make a good attorney general by answering with an emphatic, "No!"
Sessions has come under fire as of late for having given false information into whether or not he met with Russian officials during last year’s presidential election, an act he denied – under oath – to Congress. Sessions has recused himself from any investigation, a decision that sparked controversy within the Trump administration.
Both Democrats and Republicans have called for Sessions to resign.
Given Sessions’ record, members of civil rights organizations insist they have put Sessions on notice and that they intend to “stay on the scene – watching – to insure fair and impartial justice for all Americans."

We asked Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, given Sessions’ track record if he was optimistic that Sessions would meet their demands.

“I don’t think we can expect optimism or pessimism today", said Morial. "This was a step needed to present our agenda and express our objection to steps that have already been taken."

Video of the presser can be found here.

Other members who met with sessions were Kristen Clarke, president & executive director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and the Black Women's Roundtable.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

White House Recognizes International Women's Day

The White House put out a statement honoring International Women's Day, a day where women around the world are recognized for their contributions to advance a civil society. 


THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 8, 2017

Statement from the Press Secretary in Honor of International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day gives us the opportunity to celebrate and reflect upon the meaningful progress women have made throughout society, while also acknowledging that there is still much work that remains to be done to ensure the complete and consequential participation of women in all spheres of economic, political, and public life. Throughout our history, women have made enormous contributions in the service of our country, and we know that as a Nation, America will only become stronger, more prosperous, and better able to meet our shared goals, as women achieve greater access to a level playing field.

The United States, as a beacon of hope and a leader in promoting women’s rights, is deeply committed to empowering women both at home and abroad.  Our policies will work to advance the economic empowerment of women by promoting entrepreneurship and equal access to education, employment opportunities, and training adapted to a new economic landscape.

Together, America looks forward to a bright future with women in higher-wage jobs throughout high-growth sectors.  America remains committed to empowering women around the world to realize their full potential within the global marketplace.  And with our international partners, America will build upon the legacy of previous generations of women who have bravely broken through both economic and political barriers.

It was with these goals in mind that, as one of its first initiatives, this Administration ramped up efforts to promote women in business by launching the United States-Canada Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders.  The United States will continue to work with Canada and other partners around the globe to ensure that all women have the opportunity to succeed.
Today, the United States renews its commitment to fostering economic growth and job creation by harnessing the full potential of women in our economy. This Administration will work diligently to encourage women to enter and succeed in the workforce while addressing the many barriers women still face in achieving economic success, including those that impede women’s access to capital, markets, and networking opportunities.

###


The month of March is the official month of Women's History/ International Women's Day. This year, perhaps in concert with the Day Without Immigrants demonstrations across the country, women's groups used the occasion to demonstrate by having a Day Without A Woman demonstration in an effort to recognize women's contributions to family, the workplace and the country. Organizers hope to gain support for equality and justice for women and other marginalized groups like LGBTQ communities.

First Lady Melania Trump, in her first term as FLOTUS,  held a women's luncheon in the State Dining Room Wednesday honoring International Women's Day. In the previous administration (and as former first lady) First Lady Michelle Obama participated in events honoring the occasion.

[See also: Melania Trump's approval ratings.]

Press secretary Sean Spicer was asked during Wednesday's press briefing if any female White House staff members participated in the Day Without Women demonstrations. Spicer said he was "unaware" if any female White House staffers had participated and remarked that women in the Trump administration are "busy working" to continue the work of the president.

"People have a right to express themselves', Spicer said, but expressed that there should be a "balance" when asked about several school closings on Wednesday in the wake of female school officials and teachers choosing not to work. 


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trump nominates Neil Gorsuch for United States Supreme Court; Dems already oppose

President Trump announced Tuesday, on prime-time television, his Supreme Court pick selecting Neil Gorsuch, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  If confirmed, Gorsuch will fill the SCOTUS seat left by Chief Justice Antonin Scalia who died in 2016.  
Trump selects Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court. Photo/AP.
“Judge Gorsuch has a superb intellect, an unparalleled legal education, and a commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its text", said Trump. "He will make an incredible Justice as soon as the Senate confirms him.”
While some consider Gorsuch to be “warm”, “open”, “generous” and willing to “find common ground”, Democratic Minority Speaker of House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in a statement issued soon after the announcement about Gorsuch:
“In the Hobby Lobby case, Judge Neil Gorsuch revealed his eagerness to single out women’s health for discrimination and enable employers to meddle in their workers’ most intimate health decisions. Judge Gorsuch’s record reveals he holds radical views far outside the mainstream of American legal thought.”  
In a CNN town hall Pelosi went on to say that the selection of Judge Gorsuch is a “very bad decision.”
“If you breathe air, eat food, drink water and take medicine you should be scared and oppose #SCOTUS nominee Gorusch”, Pelosi said.
Gorsuch is said to be against women’s rights and has taken staunch positions on environmental issues and law enforcement.
Trump picked Gorsuch over 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Thomas Hardiman who works alongside Trump’s sister MaryAnne Trump Barry.
“Was this a surprise? Was this a surprise?” Trump asked the attendees in the East Room of the White House after his remarks.
Gorsuch will need sixty required votes for confirmation which Republicans hope the Democrats will help provide. 
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he was “mucho happy” about Trump’s pick.

“He has the perfect disposition. I don’t know who would think he’s not qualified”, Graham said.

Republicans failed to vote on former President Obama’s Supreme Court selection of Merrick Garland, instead opting to wait until after the 2016 selection when they stood a better chance to nominate a Republican.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) tweeted after the president’s announcement:
"I encourage my Senate colleagues to give Neil Gorsuch the same courtesy Senate Republicans gave Merrick Garland." #SCOTUS
Gorsuch, 49, if confirmed, will have a lifetime appointment on the United States Supreme Court. 

About Neil Gorsuch

Gorsuch has served for over a decade as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate without opposition on July 20, 2006, to the U.S.

Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Judge Gorsuch attended Harvard Law School as a Harry Truman Scholar and graduated with honors in 1991. He graduated with honors from Columbia University in 1988, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After law school, he attended Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar and received his Doctorate in Philosophy in 2004. He clerked for Justice Byron White and Justice Kennedy of Supreme Court of the United States and Judge David Sentelle of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Judge Gorsuch attended Harvard Law School as a Harry Truman Scholar and graduated with 
honors in 1991. He graduated with honors from Columbia University in 1988, where he was
elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After law school, he attended Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar, 
and he received his Doctorate in Philosophy in 2004.He clerked for Justice Byron White and Justice Kennedy of Supreme Court of the United Statesand Judge David Sentelle of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Trump press office provides positive reinforcement against 'demoralizing' news coverage

The Trump administration PR machine is doing its best to point out positive items the administration believes it is accomplishing.

After Press Secretary Sean Spicer, on Monday, called the negative news about Trump "demoralizing" (2:00 mark), the administration put out 'positive' reinforcement by highlighting media coverage they say 'praises' Trump's actions his first week as president of the United States.

Spicer said it was "frustrating" to turn on the news to see "... a constant attempt to undermine [Trump's] credibility and the movement that he represents."

On Tuesday the administration, with facts to support their claims, provided a running list of news articles that show America's support. A White House email, leading with an article by The Atlantic titled, Praise For President Trump's Bold Action: The President Is “Coming Out As A Winner On Many Issues, provided a running list of articles that show the 'positive press' the administration is seeking.

Media supporting Trump's eagerness to get things done.
The President Is “Coming Out As A Winner On Many Issues…” – The Atlantic

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl: “Incredible Pace Of Activity In The Trump White House On Week One…” Karl Tweet: “Incredible pace of activity in the Trump White House on week one - when have we seen a public WH sked packed as yesterday's & today's?” (Twitter.com, 1/24/17)

Fox News’ Sean Hannity: “I Don't Think I've Ever Seen So Much Happen In Such A Short Period Of Time.” (Fox News’ “Hannity,” 1/24/17)

Chicago Tribune Editorial Board: “Trump Could Have Chosen Any Topic To Get His Presidency Rolling. He Picked Jobs. Good.” (Editorial, “What Trump Got Right On Day 1: The Jobs Agenda,” Chicago Tribune, 1/23/17).

Chicago Tribune Headline: “What Trump Got Right On Day 1: The Jobs Agenda” (Chicago Tribune, 1/23/17)

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board: “President Trump Is Making Short Work Of Campaign Promises…” “President Trump is making short work of campaign promises, and on Tuesday he signed executive orders reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.” (Editorial, “No More Keystone Capers,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/24/17)

Media coverage on Trump's promise to create jobs
USA Today Editorial Board: Trump “Came Down On The Right Side Of The Debate… By Advancing Construction Of The Keystone XL And Dakota Access Pipelines.” “President Trump, following through on a campaign promise, came down on the right side of the debate Tuesday by advancing construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, both of which had been blocked by the Obama administration.” (Editorial, “Trump Revives Pipeline Projects,” USA Today, 1/24/17)

The Atlantic: Trump’s “Coming Out As A Winner On Many Issues.” “But what if the Trump presidency is actually off to a surprisingly effective start? … The result, paradoxically, is that he’s coming out as a winner on many issues.” (David A. Graham, “Is Trump's Presidency Off To A Successful Start?,” The Atlantic, 1/24/17)

Detroit News Headline: “Mich. Could Benefit In Trump Infrastructure Order” (Detroit News, 1/25/17)

Rasmussen Reports: “57% Of Likely U.S. Voters Approve Of President Trump’s Job Performance…” “The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday shows that 57% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance.” (“Daily Presidential Tracking Poll,” Rasmussen Reports, 1/24/17)

The Daily Signal On Pipeline Executive Orders: “A Win For The Economy And The Environment.” “In a win for the economy and the environment, President Donald Trump signed executive orders backing the construction of two unnecessarily controversial energy infrastructure projects: the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline.” (Nicolas Loris, “Trump’s Pipeline Approvals Are A Win For The Economy And Environment,” The Daily Signal, 1/25/17)

Supporters voice their opinion on Trump nominations
Reuters: “A Slew Of Donald Trump's Picks Won Approval By The Senate Committees Overseeing Their Official Nominations…” “A slew of Donald Trump's picks won approval by the Senate committees overseeing their official nominations, suggesting that they will face little resistance to approval by the full Senate.” (“US Senate Panels Approve Carson, Ross, Chao, Haley,” Reuters, 1/24/17)

Sen. Ted Cruz: “I Could Not Be More Encouraged… The Cabinet Appointments Have Been Phenomenal.” HANNITY: “How do you feel about the agenda and the first few days so far?” CRUZ: “I could not be more encouraged. We are five days into it, but the cabinet appointments have been phenomenal.” (Fox News’ “Hannity,” 1/24/17)

Despite over a million Americans, across the country, came out in opposition to Trump being elected president, the White House points to data showing overwhelming support for his inaugural speech.

Fifty-One Percent Of Voters Described The Speech As 'Optimistic'…” “Fifty-one percent of voters described the speech as 'optimistic,' 46 percent of respondents say the speech was 'presidential,' and 44 percent say it was 'inspiring,' laying bare an alternative narrative that could have driven this week’s news cycle if the president had not started a multi-day debate about the crowd size on the National Mall.” (Jake Sherman, “Poll: Majority Of American Approve Of Trump's 'America First' Address,” Politico, 1/25/17)

Washington Examiner: “A Majority Of Americans Who Listened To President Trump's Inaugural Address Gave The 16-Minute Speech A Positive Review…” “A majority of Americans who listened to President Trump's inaugural address gave the 16-minute speech a positive review, according to a new poll by Gallup.” (Gabby Morrongiello, “Poll: Trump's Inaugural Speech Gets A Thumbs Up,” Washington Examiner, 1/23/17)

A New POLITICO/Morning Consult Poll Shows That The New President’s Message Is Resonating With Voters…” “A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows that the new president’s message is resonating with voters, refuting the idea that Trump bungled his first speech as commander in chief.” (Jake Sherman, “Poll: Majority Of American Approve Of Trump's 'America First' Address,” Politico, 1/25/17).

With their own facts, the Trump team has just refuted their claims that news media is biased and negative against President Trump. They did not however, provide evidence to support Spicer's claim that the inaugural audience "... was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.”

Monday, January 23, 2017

President Trump promises 'fair trade'; says trade policy 'not free'

Making good on one of his campaign promises, President Trump vowed to make changes to NAFTA, also known as the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Meeting with business leaders from Ford, Tesla, Dell and others at the White House Monday morning, Trump stated he will impose legislation that will charge tariffs (taxes) on companies that ship their products to the U.S.

President Trump meets with business leaders at the White House. Photo/Chicago Tribune.
"We're the only ones that make it free to come into the country", he said.

Trump said countries like China make it difficult to ship products to their country, but do not pay to ship their products to the U.S.

"We want fair trade", Trump said.

NAFTA was enacted under former president George H.W. Bush in 1992 and signed into legislation by Bill Clinton in 1994.

The president also wants to impose sanctions on U.S. companies who manufacture overseas as he vows to 'bring jobs back to America'.

Ford CEO, Mark Fields said the meeting was "positive for CEOs and American manufacturing."


Trump also signed today an executive order to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) enacted under President Obama.

In the afternoon, the president is also expected to meet with Union Leaders and American workers.

###

More...

Pool report indicates the president met with the following business leaders and CEOs:

Mr. Michael S. Dell, Dell Technologies

Mr. Jeff M. Fettig, Whirlpool

Mr. Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company

Mr. Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson

Ms. Marillyn A. Hewson, Lockheed Martin

Mr. Klaus Kleinfeld, Arconic

Mr. Andrew N. Liveris, Dow Chemical

Mr. Mario Longhi, U.S. Steel

Mr. Elon R. Musk, SpaceX

Mr. Kevin Plank, Under Armour

Mr. Mark S. Sutton, International Paper

Mr. Wendell P. Weeks, Corning