Welp, I think we’re all going to have a bitch of a time remembering all the fucking awful things Trump has done, because he keeps piling them on. So I am constructing the ultimate Your Fave Is Problematic post starting today (29 November).
My policy is going to be that I’ll only include stories and links to things that Trump and his hires have said; i.e., Trump’s friends and supporters may say and do things that won’t make the list. I’m trying to stick to just the things that are official words and deeds coming out of the Trump administration. It won’t be exhaustive because I am human and I get tired and miss things and take days off, but you’re welcome to pop into the comments and make note of big ones I missed. If you notice any mistakes, inaccuracies, etc., please comment and let me know!
If I don’t specifically mention where a link is headed in the text of my sentence, I’ll include a parenthetical note on the source. When referencing local stories I will do my best to cite local newspapers, TV, and radio rather than national. I don’t have time to watch video so I’ll be sharing articles rather than videos, nearly always. I will tend to cite neutral/conservative-leaning news sources over liberal-leaning ones where basic facts are concerned (though I’ll try to include both conservative and liberal analysis), since it’s been very difficult for right and left to agree on what actually happened at any given time.
China took possession of a US data collection drone in the hotly disputed South China Sea (NPR). The situation was resolved between the US and China fairly quickly through diplomatic channels, and the drone is scheduled to be returned to the US (Reuters). Here’s what Donald Trump had to say about this delicate diplomatic situation:
China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act.
Thanks, dude, really thrilled to have you in our corner. (He still won’t take intelligence briefings, by the way.) He later tweeted:
We should tell China that we don’t want the drone they stole back.- let them keep it!
The New York Times has some thoughts about the American position with China, given the muted response to the seizure of one of our drones. As regards the South China Sea, you can read about territorial disputes over who owns it on Wikipedia. Short version, China and Taiwan and Malaysia and Vietnam and the Philippines all believe that they own parts or all of the South China Sea, and it has been a complicated dance trying to navigate these competing claims of ownership.
With heightened attention being paid to the cyberattacks by Russia, Trump tweeted this:
Are we talking about the same cyberattack where it was revealed that head of the DNC illegally gave Hillary the questions to the debate?
The Washington Post reported that the FBI and the CIA are now in agreement that Russia interfered in the elections to help Trump win. Fox News confirms as well in case you’re in fear of the left-leaning media. Trump has ardently denied all allegations of Russian interference, although Reince Preibus has suggested (Wall Street Journal) that under certain circumstances, Trump would accept the conclusions of the nation’s intelligence agencies.
Trump continues to attack individuals in the press, and it has only been a month since the election but this already seems normal to me. I couldn’t decide if it was even worth including here. Fuck that. He tweeted:
Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of @VanityFair Magazine. Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!
It’s worth remembering that Trump allegedly sends regular letters to Graydon Carter, who once called him a “short-fingered vulgarian” in Spy magazine, to assure Graydon Carter that his fingers are a normal length. Please accept my assurance that I would love to be done with this idiotic joke about Trump having small hands, except that he absolutely cannot leave it alone. He has disliked Graydon Carter (International Business Times) for quite some time now, but hitherto without the power of the presidency behind him.
As the New York Times notes, this latest tweet may have been in response to Vanity Fair‘s negative review of Trump Grill in NYC, or their ridicule of his choice (“choice”) of inauguration singer. Or it could just be random! Who the shit knows.
The tech summit that Twitter was uninvited to because of the dumb fucking emoji thing. I don’t even the fuck know what this fucking presidency is.
I’ll get to this later, I am tired.
In the by-now grand tradition of selecting cabinet members who want to dismantle the agencies they’ve been tipped to lead, Trump has selected Rick Perry to run the Energy Department (NBC). Rick Perry once called Trump “a cancer on conservativism,” as ABC reported last year. Now I guess they are pals.
In a 2011 Republican presidential debate, Perry said the following (NBC):
I’ll tell you: It’s three agencies of government, when I get there, that are gone: Commerce, education and, the, uh, what’s the third one there? … Commerce, education and the uh, the uh… . . . . The third agency of government I would do away with — the education, uh the, uh, commerce, and let’s see — I can’t… the third one, I can’t. I’m sorry … oops. . . . By the way, that was the Department of Energy I was reaching for a while ago.”
Hey, remember the time Trump said he was going to give a press conference on December 15th explaining how he’s going to avoid conflicts of interest between his presidency and his businesses? (Scroll down to 30 November if not.) Well, he has now canceled that press conference (Wall Street Journal). Spokespeople for the Trump campaign gave no reason for the cancellation, nor has he named a date to reschedule it.
Trump tweeted (NO, OF COURSE NOT THREADED) here, here, and here:
Even though I am not mandated by law to do so, I will be leaving my busineses before January 20th so that I can focus full time on the……Presidency. Two of my children, Don and Eric, plus executives, will manage them. No new deals will be done during my term(s) in office. I will hold a press conference in the near future to discuss the business, Cabinet picks and all other topics of interest. Busy times!
Trump spokesperson KellyAnne Conway went on CNN’s New Day and defended, among other things, Trump’s announcement that he will continue to serve as executive producer of Celebrity Apprentice. Here’s the transcript. CNN had previously confirmed with NBC and the Trump campaign that an arrangement had been reached whereby Trump would remain EP of the show. (See also this statement from Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks to Fortune.)
After multiple people from his campaign had spoken publicly and to several different media outlets about his EP role, Trump tweeted this:
Reports by @CNN that I will be working on The Apprentice during my Presidency, even part time, are ridiculous & untrue – FAKE NEWS!
Again, his own spokespeople confirmed this was true. If you’re playing the drinking game (I have named it after my favorite quote from Welcome to Night Vale: “If you see something, say nothing, and drink to forget.”), take a drink for Trump substituting his own reality for what we all know really happened, and then take another drink for him targeting news outlets for criticism that attempts to delegitimize the free press.
This isn’t a new thing, but this The Hill article on Trump’s cabinet picks is worth reading.
With just over half of the jobs filled, he already has more high-end campaign donors in his Cabinet than either President Obama or President George W. Bush did when taking office.
Obama’s first Cabinet had more campaign donors (at least eight) in total than Trump, but the most any of them gave Obama was $9,000, according to Federal Election Commission records. Many of Obama’s initial picks were Democratic politicians.
But yeah, he’s draining the swamp.
I’ll just quote this, I guess. From Bloomberg, who broke the story:
The transition team has asked the agency to list employees and contractors who attended United Nations climate meetings, along with those who helped develop the Obama administration’s social cost of carbon metrics, used to estimate and justify the climate benefits of new rules. The advisers are also seeking information on agency loan programs, research activities and the basis for its statistics, according to a five-page internal document circulated by the Energy Department on Wednesday. The document lays out 65 questions from the Trump transition team, sources within the agency said.
You can see the document in full at the Washington Post.
Specifically Targeting a Union Leader
Trump said the following in two successive (YES, UNTHREADED) tweets:
Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country! If United Steelworkers 1999 was any good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana. Spend more time working-less time talking. Reduce dues
This appears to be in response to Chuck Jones’s recent criticism (Washington Post) of Trump for promising to save 1100 jobs at Carrier and actually only saving 800. Jones is now receiving telephoned threats, according to the Indianapolis Star.
United Steelworkers responded:
Dues have helped us file 45+ cases against bad trade; saving jobs in tire, paper, steel, etc. We walk the walk. #imwithchuck #wearewithchuck
I don’t even know what to do with this.
Small Business Administration
World Wrestling Entertainment co-founder Linda McMahon is to become (ABC News) the administrator of the Small Business Administration (a cabinet position that requires Senate confirmation). She was among the largest donors to Republican campaigns in this recent election, donating $6 million to a super PAC (Forbes) for the Trump campaign. She and her husband are the most generous donors to the Trump Foundation as well, giving $5 million to the foundation between 2009 and 2014. In September, she described Trump to the Associated Press as “an incredibly loyal, loyal friend.” Evidently.
(By the way, the top Trump donors this year were Miriam and Sheldon Adelson so I mean, stand by for them to get a job in the cabinet too.)
NDA Requirement for Trump Staffers
Members of Trump’s transition team were told to sign a stringent non-disclosure agreement, a copy of which was obtained by Politico. This is in line with what Trump told The Washington Post in an interview in April. Here’s the worst bit of the NDA:
It also demands that if anyone on the team suspects a colleague of leaking material, he or she must tell transition team leadership.
Campaign staffers had to sign an NDA as well, and the Associated Press obtained a copy of that document in June (Fortune). It prevented campaign staffers, including volunteers, from speaking disparagingly about Trump’s campaign or family, even after they leave the campaign. The new NDA does not (reports Politico) include a provision to prevent people from speaking ill of Trump. (The Clinton campaign also required staffers to sign an NDA, the contents of which have not been made public.)
When making his pick for who should head up the Environmental Protection Agency, Trump naturally selected someone who has no experience with environmental policy, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (Reuters).
(For context, this is not the first time the EPA has been headed up by a career politician. Both of Obama’s choices for EPA administrator had extensive experience in environmental policy, and George W. Bush’s final choice while he was in office, Stephen Johnson, was a laboratory scientist who had worked at the EPA since 1979. However, the previous two Bush Jr selections were career politicians, and Clinton’s choice had only a few years of experience in environmental issues prior to receiving the position.)
Last year, the New York Times reported on Pruitt’s close ties with energy companies and argued this about Pruitt and AGs like him:
Out of public view, corporate representatives and attorneys general are coordinating legal strategy and other efforts to fight federal regulations, according to a review of thousands of emails and court documents and dozens of interviews.
(Pruitt confirmed (The Oklahoman) the Times report but denied that there was anything wrong with what he was doing.)
The Atlantic has a rundown of lawsuits Pruitt has filed against the EPA, including one to block a rule that would restrict levels of mercury emitted into the air by coal plants, and their outcomes. Basically, this is yet another instance of Trump choosing opponents of federal agencies to run those agencies.
Goddamn y’all, this girl is going to be so motherfucking knowledgeable and wise by 2020. And when I say “knowledgeable and wise,” I of course mean “possessed of a very shallow comprehension of a wide range of topics.” Which is not ideal but is still I guess better than not knowing anything, right? Right? (How should a person be?)
Here is what Trump announced (via two tweets):
Masa (SoftBank) of Japan has agreed to invest $50 billion in the U.S. toward businesses and 50,000 new jobs…. Masa said he would never do this had we (Trump) not won the election!
(Trump Tweetwatch: No, he still has not learned to thread tweets. He did the ellipsis thing at the end of his first tweet.)
You’ll notice a pattern here, by the way, when Trump talks: Big rhetoric, few details. This administration is counting on all of us to remember that positive feeling (50K new jobs! Hooray!) and forget to keep asking questions about specifics even though, you know, the specifics are kind of important. So: when I say “few details of the deal have emerged,” you may take that to mean that I will goddamn believe it when I goddamn see it. Anyway, Reuters has the story.
Here’s two important pieces of background information. One, the proposed $50 billion investment is to come out of the Softbank Vision Fund, which was announced in October (New York Times). No specific investments were identified at that time, but for context, Financial Times documented the partnership between Saudi Arabia and Softbank’s CEO, Masayoshi Son, and Forbes speculated on possibly investments. In the wake of Trump’s announcement, CBS notes that Son did not confirm he said the thing Trump said he said, and reminds us that the fund existed already and could reasonably be supposed at its inception to be targeting the US, which is currently the world’s foremost locale for tech start-ups.
Two, Softbank owns Sprint, and in 2014 hoped to merge Sprint with T-Mobile, arguing that three robust telecom companies would make for healthier competition and better results for American consumers. The deal was dropped (Reuters) after the Justice Department’s antitrust division and the FCC indicated that it would not look with favor upon it. In 2014, Bloomberg had the case for and against the merger. So, yeah, that’s also potentially a factor at play here. Feel about it how you will.
Because why the fuck not, Trump tweeted that Boeing’s proposed costs to replace the existing fleet of Air Force One planes were too high:
Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!
Reuters has your rundown of where that number came from and what the Boeing order will consist of. Boeing stocks dipped immediately following the tweet, but had mostly recovered (Fortune) by the afternoon. Fox News notes that there is precedent to canceling Boeing contracts over cost overrun concerns (though this type of business is not typically conducted via Twitter), and that Trump’s public criticism of Boeing may be related to the company’s willingness to do business with China.
(Obviously, this one isn’t a big catastrophe. It seems clear, though, that Trump is planning to conduct business as president in a way that I find deeply, deeply troubling: i.e., to say things like “Cancel order!” that sound dramatic and impressive, while singling out individual companies and ignoring broader problems. Cf., the Carrier deal.)
There’s an update on the Carrier deal. According to Indiana NBC affiliate WTHR, only 800 jobs are actually staying in America, not the 1100 claimed by Trump’s office. More details (including Mike Pence’s office straight-up denying it) are below, under “Carrier” on 1 December.
Trump selected Ben Carson (Reuters) to head up the Department of Housing and Urban Development. A retired neurosurgeon and the first black person selected for participation in the Trump administration, Carson has no experience (The Blaze) working in government. His main qualification for the job appears to be that he grew up in the inner city (Fox News), which, I mean, if that’s all that’s required to get a job in government, I would like someone please to hire me to govern the whole of Louisiana. The Washington Post has more on Ben Carson’s record of commentary on housing policy. His mother took government aid sometimes, but she didn’t want to, so Ben Carson basically thinks it’d be best if nobody took government aid. NEAT.
This isn’t exactly a thing Trump has done, but I think it’s worth mentioning. This weekend, the US Army Corps of Engineers announced (Reuters) that they would not let the Dakota Access Pipeline drill underneath Lake Oahe. Trump has said that he supports the completion (Reuters) of this pipeline. This is another case where Trump’s personal business holdings present potential conflicts of interest with his presidency. As Bloomberg notes, he owns stock in several companies involved in the construction of the pipeline; and Kelcy Warren, the CEO of the pipeline’s owner, Energy Transfer, gave $100,000 to an organization supporting Trump’s candidacy.
The Financial Times broke the news that President-Elect Trump called Taiwan, marking the first contact between the Taiwanese and US governments since diplomatic relations were cut in 1979. According to Fox News, the White House did not know about the call until after it happened; and the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, said that China does not expect any alteration in US foreign policy towards China and Taiwan. China subsequently lodged a complaint (BBC News) about the call.
Trump tweeted (here and here) (still not threaded, please God someone teach the man to thread tweets):
The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you! Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.
A spokesman for Taiwan’s president confirmed to Reuters that the call was arranged in advance. Some additional info from CNN: The White House and State Department were not informed of the call until after it had happened. The mayor of the Taiwanese city Taoyuan (pop. 2.17 million) said last month that a representative from the Trump Organization visited Taoyuan with an eye to potentially building hotels there. An unnamed spokeswoman for the Trump Organization gave this statement to CNN:
There have been no authorized visits to Taiwan on behalf of Trump Hotels for the purposes of development nor are there any active conversations. Trump Organization is not planning any expansion into Taiwan.
So I guess we’ll see.
Incidentally, President Trump is correct that it’s interesting how the US sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but he should not accept a congratulatory call (arranged in advance without reference to the State Department and agreed up on by both sides). That is interesting. Here is a National Review and a Washington Post summary of why that’s interesting. The short version is that we’ve been doing this delicate dance with China since 1979 in which we get to have trade relations with China while also supporting Taiwan financially and militarily.
The balance here is important. As both of the above-linked articles note, when Clinton allowed a pro-independence Taiwanese President to visit Cornell University, China began engaging in missile tests near Taiwan. American policy towards Taiwan has, in other words, tried to find a middle ground where we can maintain an official relationship with China, an unofficial one with Taiwan, and (therefore) business interests with both, while not getting involved in a great big war between them.
Like Rich Lowry (believe me, I’m as surprised as you are that I am typing those words), while knowing very little about it, I’m not necessarily opposed to revisiting Taiwanese policy. The US has an absolutely awful track record of supporting violently repressive governments that we believe will ensure our economic interests (do some reading about Cold War proxy conflicts if you want to feel real real bad about the US). But also like Rich Lowry (I KNOW), I believe that this needs to happen with serious, serious deliberation and consideration of consequences — both for us and for Taiwan.
Victory rally in Cincinnati
President-Elect Trump’s totally normal, not at all disturbing series of victory rallies kicked off today in Cincinnati. According to Business Insider, he pointed out the members of the press assembled in the arena and said, “The people back there, the extremely dishonest press. Very dishonest people … I mean how dishonest.” The crowd booed enthusiastically. The Cincinnati Enquirer says that he then added, “I love this stuff. Should we go on with this a little bit longer?”
(You can watch all this on video, if you wish.)
So yeah. The rhetorical delegitimizing of a free press continues. It’s also alarming that Trump continues to point screaming mobs at specific people he doesn’t like.
Corey Lewandowski thing that I’m not going to worry about for now
A couple of people sent me this story about Corey Lewandowski, so I’ll address it quickly. At a Harvard event for Trump and Clinton staffers (which sounds like a shitshow (Bloomberg)), Lewandowski criticized Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, for expressing his willingness to go to jail (CNN) in order to publish Donald Trump’s tax returns. Lewandowski cited Baquet’s words from earlier in the year and added: “He’s willing to commit a felony on a private citizen to post his taxes? . . . It’s egregious. He should be in jail.”
Lewandowski is not currently employed with the Trump campaign / administration, but some people are spun up about this comment in the context of the possibility that he will get a job in the Trump administration. If he does, I’ll keep this story here. If not, I’ll try to remember (or you can remind me!) to come back and delete it.
Global Warming Jesus Christ
Okay, this one can’t be blamed on Trump but it’s so fucked up that I’m sharing it here anyway. The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (Wikipedia gives you an overview of its history and jurisdiction) retweeted (badly–can someone please teach our government officials how to use Twitter?) a story from Breitbart claiming that global temperatures had dropped by an unprecedented amount in the second half of the year.
The Breitbart story drew most of its information from a Daily Mail (I know) story by David Rose. The Weather Channel explores which data Rose was using and why they present a very incomplete picture (short version: he used data that only measure land temperature, i.e., only 29% of the entirety of the earth’s surface).
The Breitbart piece also cites David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate change skeptic that has about 80 annual members, doesn’t disclose its funding sources, and is directed by a social anthropologist and chaired by a Tory politician (i.e., actual climate scientists are not involved). David Whitehouse is a longtime science reporter whose science education and expertise is in astrophysics (space science), not climatology or any other branch of atmospheric science.
Also, the chairman of the House Science Committee writes for Breitbart sometimes. Not worrying at all.
Update: A statement at the time of the Carrier deal claimed that over 1000 jobs were saved (see Fox News link, below). According to Indiana NBC affiliate WTHR, details of the deal have now emerged, and only 800 jobs are staying in America (730 union jobs and 70 salaried positions). While Trump claimed that 1100 jobs were staying in the US, 350 of the jobs included in that claim were R&D positions that were never going to move to Mexico. Mike Pence’s office (via spokesman Matthew Lloyd) gave this statement to WTHR:
More than 1,000 jobs for hard working Hoosiers were going to leave Indiana for Mexico. Those jobs are now staying right here in Indiana thanks to the efforts of President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence.
So, uh, yeah. They’re just going to lie about it I guess, and hope that the American public a) never hears about it or b) hears about it but believes Pence’s office over the actual employees of and union reps for Carrier.
Trump announced a deal with heating and cooling company Carrier to reduce by half the number of jobs the company will send to Mexico, receiving criticism from liberals and conservatives. Though we don’t have a ton of details about the deal, Carrier received $7 million in tax credits, and we can safely assume that their parent company, United Technology Corporation, was aware of the potential loss of federal contracts (NYTimes) if they failed to agree. Fox News explores what we do and don’t know about this deal:
The prospect that the White House might directly intervene is also a concern to some economists. The incentives needed to keep jobs from moving often come at the public’s expense. They note that Trump’s activism might encourage companies to threaten to move jobs overseas in hopes of receiving tax breaks or contracts with the government.
“It sets up a race to the bottom,” said Diane Lim, chief economist at the nonprofit Committee for Economic Development.
NPR explores some of the job problems that a Trump presidency will need to address in the next four years. Reuters notes that United Technology Corporation still plans to close a separate Indiana branch that employs 700 American workers. The economic minister of Nueva Leon, Mexico, said this deal was reminiscent of “[what] they call banana (republics) in the United States” (Reuters). The National Review called the deal “straight-up corporate welfare.”
Rafael Sanchez, an investigative journalist at Indianapolis’s ABC affiliate TV station, has covered Carrier’s proposed closures and the lives of its workers extensively. He was refused press credentials to the event where the Carrier deal was announced, apparently at the behest of the Carrier team rather than the Trump/Pence camp.
Trump released a series of tweets in the wee hours of the morning saying that he’ll give a press conference on December 15th to explain the disposition of his business assets. Newsday makes the case that handing the running of his business over to his children would be sufficient. Washington Post explores why it may not be. The Sunlight Foundation is now maintaining a running list of potential and confirmed conflicts of interests between Trump’s administrative duties and his business ties.
Update (12 December): He canceled (Wall Street Journal) the 15 December press conference. It has not yet been rescheduled.
5:55 AM, Trump tweets:
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!
Context: The Supreme Court cases Texas v. Johnson (1989) and U.S. v. Eichman (1990) (links go to Oyez.org) ruled that flag-burning is constitutionally protected speech under the First Amendment. Since these Supreme Court cases, constitutional amendments prohibiting flag-burning have been proposed over a dozen times.
Since everybody seems to think I have forgotten a thing I have in no way forgotten and indeed brought up semi-regularly over the course of the last election season: In 2005, then-Senator Hillary Clinton sponsored a law that would have made flag-burning illegal in certain contexts. These contexts were vaguely defined in the language of the bill, and it was never assigned to committee or sent to Congress for a vote. Clinton voted against a constitutional amendment against flag-burning in 2006.
Also, “loss of citizenship” is a thing nobody, until today, has proposed as a response to flag-burning. Because it’s, you know, horrifying.
Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus went on Fox News to discuss some of the President-Elect’s positions and said this about climate change (from the Fox News transcript):
As far as this issue on climate change — the only thing he was saying after being asked a few questions about it is, look, he’ll have an open mind about it but he has his default position, which most of it is a bunch of bunk, but he’ll have an open mind and listen to people. I think that’s what he’s saying.
Trump scheduled, then canceled (via Twitter), then rescheduled a meeting with the New York Times. Three sources confirmed to the Times that chief of staff Reince Priebus, who had been urging the president-elect to cancel the meeting, incorrectly told Trump that the Times was changing the terms of the meeting, and that this was what led Trump to Twitter-cancel the meeting.
18 November (added on 5 December)
President-Elect Trump’s first meeting with an international leader was with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Ivanka Trump sat in on this meeting (Reuters), raising concerns (Washington Post) about creating a bright line between Trump’s presidency and the business interests of his company, as run by his children.
On 4 December, the New York Times reported that Ivanka will soon close a licensing deal with Japanese apparel company Sanei International, whose largest shareholder is a bank owned by the Japanese government. (Both sides of the deal confirmed to the Times that it exists.)
Okay, I’m not going back in time because it’s impossible for me to keep up, but real quick, here’s a New York Times article on some of Trump’s business holdings in foreign countries and why they are a problem.
And also here is the Southern Poverty Law Center’s report on hate crimes following the election.