The U.S.’s top spies issue a challenge to Trump’s agenda

The following article by Ishaan Tharoor was posted on the Washington Post website February 14, 2018:

Credit: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg, Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE

On Tuesday, the top intelligence officials in the United States briefed senators on their annual assessments of the threats facing the country in the year ahead. Although most of these principals were Trump appointees, their testimony reflected the consensus of what some Trump supporters would probably tar as the “deep state,” the shadowy world of Washington bureaucrats and spooks operating at a remove from the public.

The headline concern of their report was something that exasperates the president: the role of Russian meddling in U.S. politics, whether in the form of direct attempts to interfere with the electoral system or the proliferation of Kremlin-sponsored social media bots and “news” websites. Read More

Longtime Trump attorney says he made $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels with his money

The following article by Mark Berman was posted on the Washington Post website February 14, 2018:

Here is what we know about the allegation that an adult-film star reportedly was paid to remain silent about a sexual relationship with Donald Trump. (The Washington Post)

A longtime personal attorney for President Trump said Tuesday that he paid $130,000 to an adult-film star who had told people she had an affair with Trump a decade before he won the presidency.

Michael Cohen, who had previously dismissed reports about the payment, said he paid Stormy Daniels — whose real name is Stephanie Clifford — using his own money, rather than involving the Trump Organization or the Trump presidential campaign. His comments came after a watchdog group argued that the payout should be viewed as an unreported campaign expense, which Cohen denied. Read More

Trump’s ‘Harvest Box’ Isn’t Viable in SNAP Overhaul, Officials Say

The following article by Glenn Thrush was posted on the New York Times website February 13, 2018:

People paid for fresh produce using federal assistance at a farmers market in Lake Orion, Mich., in 2013. Credit Lauren Abdel-Razzaq/The Detroit News, via AP

WASHINGTON — The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program offers about 46 million low-income Americans both sustenance and economic choice by providing an allowance to buy the fruit, meat, fresh vegetables, soda, ice cream and kind of bread they want to eat.

But on Monday, the Trump administration sprung a surprise: Under a proposal in the president’s budget many participants in the program would be given half their benefits in the form of a “Harvest Box” full of food preselected for nutritional value and economic benefit to American farmers. The cache of cheaper peanut butter, canned goods, pasta, cereal, “shelf stable” milk and other products would now be selected by the federal government, not by the people actually eating it. Read More

A Bad Budget for America’s Place in the World

The following article by John Norris was posted on the Center for American Progress website February 13, 2018:

President Trump walks from Marine One upon arrival on the South Lawn of the White House, August 27, 2017. Credit: Getty/Saul Loeb

As President Donald Trump dreams of a military parade in the streets of the nation’s capital and dishes out enormous tax breaks to billionaires, he continues to hobble American diplomacy and international development to an unprecedented degree.

The just-released budget, while thin on details, calls for devastating cuts of more than 30 percent to diplomacy and development programs from the levels enacted in 2017. These cuts, if adopted, would leave America less equipped to tackle conflict, pandemic disease, and extremism before they reach the nation’s shores; ill-prepared to champion American exports overseas; and more likely to end up in military conflict. It will also cause untold suffering for millions of people—particularly the most vulnerable women and children across the developing world. Read More

Sarah Sanders is at her worst at a strange time — when she’s talking about respect for women

The following column by Margaret Sullivan was posted on the Washington Post website February 13, 2018:

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Feb. 12 that President Trump “hopes for the best for all American citizens.” (Reuters)

She dripped disdain.

She oozed contempt.

“If you were paying attention to what I just read to you . . .” she huffed, like an exasperated teacher reprimanding a classroom troublemaker. Read More

FBI director contradicts White House account on background investigation of aide accused of spousal abuse

The following article by Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris was posted on the Washington Post website February 13, 2018:

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said Feb. 13 the FBI submitted a partial report on former White House aide Rob Porter’s background check in March 2017. (Reuters)

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray on Tuesday contradicted the White House’s account of when the bureau informed officials about the status of a senior aide’s security-clearance investigation.

White House officials said that they were first contacted in the summer by the FBI about senior aide Rob Porter’s clearance. They also said that the investigation was never completed and that they did not know the extent of the allegations against Porter. He stepped down last week after accusations of spousal abuse by his two ex-wives. Read More

Where Americans see a deadly tragedy, Trump sees an opportunity to score political points

The following article by Josh Israel was posted on the ThinkProgress website February 13, 2018:

Trump’s tweets about tragedies are often just political messaging.

Credit: Getty Images / Diana Ofosu

Since Donald Trump took office in January of 2017, it has been a year of disasters. Three massive hurricanes ravaged the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean. Mass shootings at a concert in Las Vegas and a church in Texas were among the deadliest in modern American history. Terrorist attacks around the world killed thousands. School shootings, naval ship crashes, white nationalist violence, wildfires, police killed in the line of duty, and innocent and unarmed people killed by police all cost lives here and abroad in the first year of the presidency. So how did a new president respond?

With Twitter, Trump’s chosen outlet for his response to the events each day. His Twitter timeline tells the story of the first 12-plus months of the Donald Trump era. As these calamities unfolded — some acts of nature and other acts of humanity — some drew Trump’s attention. Others he ignored totally. Some received a great deal of his immediate attention, ranging as high as 40-plus tweets about Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. Some served as little more than convenient pretext for a one-off tweet to smear critics and promote his Islamophobic and xenophobic worldview. In all, a ThinkProgress review of his feed from his inauguration to February 6, 2018 finds that 244 of his 2,632 tweets and retweets (including a few he later deleted, accessed via were responses of some kind to tragic event that happened on his watch. In more than 75 of those, the president overtly sought to politicize and exploit the tragedy for political gain. Read More

Trump’s budget cuts Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, breaking core campaign promise

The following article by Ryan Koronowski was posted on the ThinkProgress website February 12, 2018:

This would be over a trillion dollars in cuts to some of the nation’s most vulnerable.

Credit: Getty/Sebastian Rose

When he began his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to “save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts.”

This is a promise, however, President Trump would like to break. Trump’s 2018 budget proposal would cut all three programs, which help the most vulnerable in American society, by billions of dollars.

Fox News’s website tells readers that Medicare is spared “as he promised during the 2016 campaign,” but a cursory search of the White House’s own budget document reveals this is not true. Read More

White House tells $7 trillion lie about Trump’s budget proposal

The following article by Rebekah Entralgo was posted on the ThinkProgress website February 13, 2018:

The White House wants you to believe its budget will cut the deficit.

Credit: Mandel Nganan/AFP/Getty Images

Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah appeared on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning to defend President Trump’s 2019 budget.

“So it’s a great plan, but it also has serious deficit reduction […] It has over $3 trillion dollars in deficit reduction, which is the largest deficit reduction of a budget in terms of a 10-year outlay that we’ve ever seen,” he said. “It lays down a path toward fiscal responsibility, it allows us to keep this booming economy growing, and it funds this president’s priorities that he campaigned on and the American people voted for in support.” Read More

Trump’s Budget Reveals that He Wants Everyday Americans to Pay for His Tax Cuts for the Wealthy

The following article by Seth Hanlon, Rebecca Vallas, Rachel West, Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Eliza Schultz, Heidi Schultheis, Kevin DeGood, Annie McGrew, Thomas Huelskoetter, Angela Hans, Erin Auel, Stephenie Johnson, Ben Miller, Antoinette Flores, Michela Zonta, Rejane Frederick, Alex Rowell, Alan Cohen and John Norris was posted on the Center for American Progress website February 12, 2018:

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting, February 12, 2017. Credit: Getty/Chip Somodevilla

In December 2017, President Donald Trump and the Republican Congress enacted legislation providing large tax cuts overwhelmingly weighted to corporations and the wealthy. By draining federal revenue, the tax bill will increase deficits by an estimated $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Congressional Republicans have been loath to discuss how they plan on paying for these massive giveaways. But the president’s budget, released today, reveals how the Trump administration proposes to pay for the tax cuts—and the picture is not pretty.

Trump’s budget would cut $675 billion from federal health care spending over 10 years by repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and eviscerating the traditional Medicaid program, leaving millions fewer with health coverage. It would decimate education funding, making the most significant cuts in 30 years. It would cut programs that millions of Americans depend on to find a good job, keep a roof over their head, or put food on the table. It would also slash Social Security and other programs for people with disabilities. And it would severely cut public investments that are necessary for broad-based economic growth and a strong middle class. And as new polling by the Center for American Progress shows, this Robin-Hood-in-reverse agenda is the opposite of what the American people want. Read More