Tag Archives: donald

Trump’s Tweets Threaten His Travel Ban’s Chances in Court

Mother Jones

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President Donald Trump began the week with a barrage of early-morning tweets blasting the courts for blocking his travel ban executive order. But in doing so, he may have just made it more likely that the courts will keep blocking the ban.

These tweets followed upon several from over the weekend about the ban and the terrorist attack in London, including this one from Saturday evening:

In January, Trump signed an executive order banning nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days, as well as halting the refugee resettlement program for 120 days (and indefinitely for Syrian refugees). When the courts blocked it, rather than appeal to the Supreme Court, Trump signed a modified version of the order. The new ban repealed the old one, reduced the number of banned countries from seven to six, and added exceptions and waivers. Still, federal courts in Maryland and Hawaii blocked it, and now the Justice Department has appealed to the Supreme Court to have this second version of the ban reinstated.

The biggest question in the litigation over the ban is whether the courts should focus solely on the text of the order or also consider Trump’s comments from the campaign trail, and even during his presidency, to determine whether the order uses national security as a pretext for banning Muslims from the country. The president’s lawyers argue that the courts should focus on the text of the order and defer to the president’s authority over national security. Trump’s tweets Monday morning and over the weekend make it harder for the courts to justify doing that.

The travel ban is supposed to be a temporary remedy until the government can review its vetting procedures. But Trump’s tweets make it appear that the ban itself is his goal. Trump repeatedly and defiantly uses the word “ban” when his administration has instead sought to call it a pause.

The tweets “undermine the government’s best argument—that courts ought not look beyond the four corners of the Executive Order itself,” Stephen Vladeck, an expert on national security and constitutional law at the University of Texas School of Law, says via email. “Whether or not then-Candidate Trump’s statements should matter (a point on which reasonable folks will likely continue to disagree), the more President Trump says while the litigation is ongoing tending to suggest that the Order is pretextual, the harder it is to convince even sympathetic judges and justices that only the text of the Order matters.” And once the courts start looking at the president’s statements, it’s not hard to find ones that raise questions about anti-Muslim motivations.

Even the president’s allies acknowledge his tweets are a problem. George Conway, the husband of top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, responded to Trump on Twitter by pointing out that the work of the Office of the Solicitor General—which is defending the travel ban in court—just got harder.

Conway, who recently withdrew his name from consideration for a post at the Justice Department, then followed up to clarify his position.

Trump may soon see his tweets used against him in court. Omar Jadwat, the ACLU attorney who argued the case before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, told the Washington Post this morning that the ACLU’s legal team is considering adding Trump’s tweets to its arguments before the Supreme Court. “The tweets really undermine the factual narrative that the president’s lawyers have been trying to put forth, which is that regardless of what the president has actually said in the past, the second ban is kosher if you look at it entirely on its own terms,” Jadwat told the Post.

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Trump’s Tweets Threaten His Travel Ban’s Chances in Court

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Donald Trump Doubles Down on Boorish Temper Tantrums

Mother Jones

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President Trump was busy during his early morning “Fox & Friends” time. Around 6 am there was this:

First he deliberately undermines his own Justice Department by needlessly calling his immigration EO a “travel ban.” Why? Because he got criticized for accidentally doing this over the weekend, and by God, that means he needs to double down. Having done that, he then proceeds to slam the Justice Department as if they worked for someone else. If he wanted them to stay with the original travel ban, he should have told them to. If he wussed out, it’s his fault, not theirs.

It’s worth noting, by the way, that we’re now in the fifth month of Trump’s childish refusal to go ahead with new travel regulations while we wait for the courts to rule on his temporary travel ban that was meant to give him time to write new travel regulations.

Then, after a bit of random whining, Trump decides to go back to the well on the mayor of London:

Even for Trump, this is close to unbelievable. His original tweet about this yesterday was a lie, and would have been wildly inappropriate even if it weren’t. The city of London had just been hit by a deadly terrorist attack! Trump got blasted for this breathtaking display of churlishness, of course, and that meant he had to hit back today even more boorishly in front of the whole world. Because Donald Trump never, ever, backs down from anything, no matter how stupid.

Holy hell. 43 months to go.

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Donald Trump Doubles Down on Boorish Temper Tantrums

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Why Are Former Presidents Supposed to Shut Up About Their Successors?

Mother Jones

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Since leaving office, Barack Obama has made a few veiled criticisms of Donald Trump. Conservatives are pretty unhappy about this. It’s tradition for ex-presidents to maintain a dignified silence about their successors, after all.

This is mostly true, but when did it become a tradition? It certainly hasn’t been one forever. Herbert Hoover was a constant presence on the radio blasting FDR during the Depression, and Harry Truman remained a gadfly after he left office.

Eisenhower changed things up. After beating Hitler and serving two terms as president, he decided to adopt the elder statesman role. Then Kennedy died before leaving office, LBJ slunk back to Texas a broken man, and Nixon resigned in disgrace. By hook or by crook, the “tradition” of ex-presidential silence was two decades old by the time Reagan became president. It’s mostly held ever since.

Is there a good reason for this? The pretense seems kind of precious to me. Why treat sitting presidents like china dolls who can’t take some heat from their predecessors? Ex-presidents are among the greatest politicians alive, and usually the effective leaders of their party, at least for a while. They typically command a throng of admirers. The most natural thing in the world would be for them to maintain a robust political presence if they want to. Why shouldn’t they?

Ditto for losing presidential candidates. This is usually less of an issue, since most people don’t really want to listen to losers. But not always. Hillary Clinton should never run for office again—and she’s said she won’t—but why shouldn’t she stay loudly involved in politics if she can help lead the loyal opposition until Democrats coalesce around a new party leader?

Does anyone know the answer about this tradition? Is it really just an Eisenhower thing that somehow congealed into conventional wisdom? Do other countries have anything similar?

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Why Are Former Presidents Supposed to Shut Up About Their Successors?

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The US Brings Up the Rear When it Comes to Reducing Carbon Emissions

Mother Jones

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Donald Trump just finished up his speech about pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, and it was garden variety Trump bluster. Other countries are playing us for a sucker. It’s already cost us ONE BILLION DOLLARS. It’s crippling the American economy. They’re all laughing at us. Etc. The usual.

I was more interested in what EPA chief Scott Pruitt had to say afterward. His remarks were a seemingly endless tribute to the amazing foresight and singular vision of Donald Trump. It was really over the top, although I don’t know how many people noticed it since Pruitt has a fairly bland speaking style. Here’s a taste:

Your decision today to exit the Paris accord reflects your unflinching commitment to put America first….fulfilling yet one more campaign promise….fortitude, courage, steadfastness….America finally has a leader who answers only to the people….fighting for the forgotten men and women across this country….champion of the hardworking citizens all across this land….historic restoration of American economic independence….it takes courage, it takes commitment to say no to the plaudits of men while doing right by the American people. You have that courage.

Mussolini could hardly ask for better. But there was a tiny bit of substance in Pruitt’s remarks. In particular, he said that America had reduced its carbon emissions by 18 percent between 2000 and 2014. That’s actually not right: emissions have gone down about 8 percent over that period. Pruitt must have been talking about per-capita emissions or something. He also said that carbon emissions were now lower than 2014 levels, and he actually got that part right. But take a look at what caused this decline:

Every time the economy goes into recession, carbon emissions decline. When the economy goes into a massive recession, carbon emission decline a lot. That explains most of the reduction, which happened between 2008 and 2012.

But there are other things at work too. More fuel-efficient cars. More solar and wind. Replacement of coal by natural gas. Less heavy manufacturing.

So was Pruitt right to say this was accomplished “not through government mandate, but through innovation and technology of the American private sector”? Not really. Fracking lowered the price of natural gas, and that was certainly a triumph of innovation. But that was about it. The decline of heavy manufacturing was mostly a result of globalization. The recession was the result of an unsustainable housing bubble. Cars got more fuel efficient largely because of tighter CAFE standards. Solar and wind were the beneficiaries of improving technology, but also various tax credits and incentives.

What about Pruitt’s claim that we “do it better than anyone in the world,” “the rest of the world does little,” and “other nations talk a good game” while we lead by action? Compared to other industrialized economies, this is just wrong. Here are reductions in carbon emissions since 1990 for a representative assortment of peer countries:

The only country we beat is Japan. All the rest have reduced their carbon emissions more than us. Of course, this only shows reductions in percentage terms. In absolute terms it’s even worse: the United States emits carbon at nearly double the level of Japan and three times the level of most European countries. The other countries started at lower levels and still managed to cut emissions more than we did.

On the bright side, we’ve done pretty well at reducing our carbon intensity. In 1990, it took 0.8 kg of carbon to produce a dollar of GDP. Today it takes only 0.3 kg:

Sadly for our egos, the other advanced countries have done even better than us. Despite our reliance on private enterprise, we remain one of the least efficient producers of goods and services among our peers.

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The US Brings Up the Rear When it Comes to Reducing Carbon Emissions

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Trump Can Fire People, But He’s Having Trouble Hiring New Ones

Mother Jones

Gloria Borger reports:

Trump returns to the White House this week just as he left — lonely, angry and not happy with much of anyone. The presidency, Donald Trump is discovering, is not an easy or natural fit. “He now lives within himself, which is a dangerous place for Donald Trump to be,” says someone who speaks with the President. “I see him emotionally withdrawing. He’s gained weight. He doesn’t have anybody whom he trusts.

Unfortunately, Trump has a big problem hiring new staffers who he might trust:

The disclosures from investigations stemming from Russian meddling in last year’s election — coupled with the president’s habit of undercutting his staff — have driven away candidates for West Wing jobs that normally would be among the most coveted in American politics, according to people involved in the search.

By the time the first change in what may be a broader shake-up was announced Tuesday, the White House was left without a replacement. Michael Dubke, the White House communications director, said he would step down, but four possible successors contacted by the White House declined to be considered, according to an associate of Mr. Trump who like others asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.

At the same time, talks with two former advisers, Corey Lewandowski and David N. Bossie, about joining the White House staff grew more complicated. Mr. Bossie, a former deputy campaign manager, signaled that he does not plan to join the staff.

I can’t imagine why anyone even semi-competent would be willing to work for Trump, especially in the press operation. Trump undercuts them constantly, and he obviously wants to be the public face of the administration himself. The problem is that he’s afraid to face the press on a regular basis. Even he realizes that his administration is epically incompetent, and reporters have started calling him out on this. So he hides in the Oval Office and feeds his press staff to the lions instead.

As for every other position, too many people finally understand what Trump is really like:

There is this storyline about Donald Trump, one longtime Trump watcher says, that he’s a loyal guy. That he sticks with his old friends and defends them and supports them. “You have it all wrong,” he says. “Trump is not loyal, except to his family. He can be solicitous and ingratiating. But if there’s a moment you are not useful, forget it, you’re done. No matter what you have done for him.” Consider: Rudy Giuliani, Paul Manafort, Chris Christie.

I don’t know what took everyone so long to figure this out, but by now they have. There’s just no upside working for a shitshow of a White House and a shitshow of a man.

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Trump Can Fire People, But He’s Having Trouble Hiring New Ones

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