Even by the standards of the Trump administration, this week took a turn for the surreal as the White House expanded its wiretapping allegations and dragged us Brits into the melee.
The White House was forced to make a grovelling apology to Downing Street but just hours later Trump and Spicer were both unrepentantly claiming they had nothing to be sorry about.
The saga occupied headlines and press conferences alike - but what wasn’t being discussed?
1) TRUMP’S BUDGET HURTS THE VERY PEOPLE HE PROMISED TO PROTECT
During the election campaign Trump claimed as President he would “drain the swamp” of the political elite and fight for “forgotten Americans”, those poorer, white voters from rural areas who turned out in droves to elect him.
Since his inauguration Trump has instead brought numerous billionaire banking and oil executives into his inner circle as well as personal friends and financial donors.
And his proposed budget slashes and even eliminates completely a range of government programs designed to help the most vulnerable.
2) CLIMATE CHANGE IS NOW COMPLETELY OFF TRUMP’S AGENDA
What’s clear is that Trump wants the US government to pull back sharply from any effort to stop global warming, adapt to its impacts — or even study it further. Under the proposal, a wide variety of Obama-era climate programs across multiple agencies would be scaled back or slashed entirely.
That includes eliminating much of the work the Environmental Protection Agency is doing to research climate impacts and limit emissions. It includes scaling back the Department of Energy’s efforts to accelerate low-carbon energy. It includes cuts to NASA’s Earth-monitoring programs. The proposal would also eliminate the Sea Grant program at NOAA, which helps coastal communities adapt to a warmer world. The document dubs this a “lower priority”.
3) TRUMP CALLED INTO QUESTION THE VERY CONSTITUTION HE WAS ELECTED TO SERVE
From Rolling Stone:
Trump has almost certainly been advised that Muslim Ban 2.0 – which he himself called a “watered-down version” of the original – was unlikely to fare any better in court. But at a rally in Tennessee on Wednesday, Trump claimed the ruling was “done by a judge for political reasons,” and read a portion of the statute he claims gives him the authority to do whatever he wants. It says that the president may “impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate” if he finds it is in the national interest.
Trump interprets this to mean that if he “thinks there is a danger out there,” he can say, “I’m sorry, folks. Not now. We have our own problems.”
There are two big problems with Trump’s theory.
4) FORMER TRUMP ADVISOR MICHAEL FLYNN’S RUSSIA LINKS ARE GETTING SO MUCH WORSE
From the Washington Post:
Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign as national security adviser amid controversy over his contacts with Russia’s ambassador, collected nearly $68,000 in fees and expenses from Russia-related entities in 2015, a higher amount than was previously known, according to newly released documents.
The records show that the bulk of the money, more than $45,000, came from the Russian government-backed television network RT, in connection to a December 2015 trip Flynn took to Moscow. Flynn has acknowledged that RT sponsored his trip, during which he attended a gala celebrating the network’s 10th anniversary and was seated near Russian President Vladimir Putin. His speakers bureau took a cut of the fee.
5) 26 MILLION AMERICANS COULD LOSE THEIR INSURANCE UNDER TRUMPCARE
With the help of Vox’s Jacob Gardenswartz, I collected and read absolutely everything Donald Trump has said publicly about the AHCA. The transcripts cover speeches, rallies, meetings with congressional leaders, interviews with friendly news outlets, and, of course, tweets.
I learned a few things from the exercise. First, Trump has a very limited set of talking points on health care, and he repeats the same words and sentences constantly — his comfort zone on both the issue and the legislation is very narrow.