Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Thursday, January 12th, 2017.


Abnormal Is the New Normal?

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Bad Hair, Congress

I was busy doing other things and missed all the fireworks. So I’m still catching up on the dossier scandal. What fun! And then there was Trump’s bizarre “press conference,” in which he pretty much dashed anyone’s lingering hopes that he’d drop out of Asshole Mode once elected.

Trump is going to turn his companies over to his sons, he said. PBS Newshour did a segment on this yesterday that’s very much worth watching.

See also Remarks of Walter M. Shaub, Jr., Director, U.S. Office of Government Ethics.

The only thing this has in common with a blind trust is the label, “trust.” His sons are still running the businesses, and, of course, he knows what he owns. His own attorney said today that he can’t “un-know” that he owns Trump tower. The same is true of his other holdings. The idea of limiting direct communication about the business is wholly inadequate. That’s not how a blind trust works. There’s not supposed to be any information at all.

Here too, his attorney said something important today. She said he’ll know about a deal if he reads it in the paper or sees in on TV. That wouldn’t happen with a blind trust. In addition, the notion that there won’t be new deals doesn’t solve the problem of all the existing deals and businesses. The enormous stack of documents on the stage when he spoke shows just how many deals and businesses there are.

I was especially troubled by the statement that the incoming administration is going to demand that OGE approve a diversified portfolio of assets. No one has ever talked to us about that idea, and there’s no legal mechanism to do that. Instead, Congress set up OGE’s blind trust program under the Ethics in Government Act. Under that law anyone who wants a blind trust has to work with OGE from the start, but OGE has been left out of this process. We would have told them that this arrangement fails to meet the statutory requirements.

Republicans will do their best to keep Trump’s butt covered on this matter, but it’s also the case that if, someday, they decide he’s a liability to the party and their careers, and they want to get rid of him, the guy comes with a built-in impeachable offense. So that’s something.

With everything else going on, you might not have noticed that yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill that could cripple the ability of government to regulate private industry. Also yesterday, as predicted, the Senate — at 1:30 a.m., no less — approved a budget procedure that will allow them to gut the Affordable Care Act through a simple majority vote. The actual repeal legislation is supposed to be ready to go by January 27.

Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearing yesterday went badly enough that Charles Pierce thinks he could nixed for the Secretary of State position.

Our journey into the Twilight Zone continued today, with the Justice Department announcing an investigation of the FBI.

Dr. Ben Carson was grilled by the Senate as the nominee for heading Housing and Urban Development. As expected, Carson barely knew where he was, but the hearing went smoothly enough. He could not promise that the Trump family would not profit from HUD decisions.

And then this happened:

C-SPAN confirmed Thursday afternoon that its online feed had been temporarily interrupted by the Kremlin-backed news outfit RT, formerly known as Russia Today.

Of course.

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