Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.
What an embarrassing, aggravating week to be an American -- or at least one who hasn't been lured into Trump's crackpot cult of personality.
The big stories this week were simply depressing. It began with a presidential tantrum at the G7 meeting in Quebec -- it looks like the bromance between Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to an ugly end with a barrage of obnoxious tweets. But the low-light might have been Tangerine Trujillo telling Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, "I can send you 25 million Mexicans and you’ll be out of office very soon.” According to Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic, a senior regime official defined the Trump Doctrine this week as, "We're America, bitch." Quite a departure from Obama's "don't do stupid shit."
There was a jarring juxtaposition between Trump shitting all over our closest allies and his fawning attitude toward North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Talking is better than shooting, but it was painful to see Trump being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize after getting totally rolled by KJU, who orchestrated a propaganda coup that was greater than anything he might have imagined. "A North Korean government video released Thursday shows Trump returning the salute of a North Korean general," according to The Washington Post. He even got Trump to make a cheesy sales video on his behalf. And all for some vague agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, someday, details TBD.
WaPo also reported that Trump tried to woo KJU with the kind of incentive that has marked his entire business career: Making a profit with other people's money…
As part of creating a personal rapport with Kim, Trump also privately talked about wanting to extend an unusual olive branch to the North Korean leader: The president suggested he might be able to orchestrate a meeting or proposal with some of his real estate developer and financier friends, who could bring lucrative development deals to Kim’s country…
In a news conference Tuesday before departing Singapore, Trump hinted at his dreams of real estate diplomacy… “As an example, they have great beaches,” Trump said. “You see that whenever they’re exploding their cannons into the ocean, right? I said, ‘Boy, look at the view. Wouldn’t that make a great condo behind?’ ”
The president continued: “You could have the best hotels in the world right there. Think of it from a real estate perspective.”
@kwelkernbc BREAKING: President Trump on North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un: "He speaks and his people sit up in att… https://t.co/eHfJUS1qW3— NBC News (@NBC News)1529068081.0
And the dystopian soundtrack accompanying this wretched week were the cries of children being ripped away from their families, an abomination that Attorney General Jeff Sessions justified by citing the same Bible passages that his forefathers used to defend slavery.
Infant ripped from mother's arms while she was breastfeeding the baby at border detention center; mother handcuffed… https://t.co/EMXx34yWDy— Kasie Hunt (@Kasie Hunt)1528919553.0
Which led to some of the most egregious lies this singularly mendacious regime has ever uttered…
This is Orwellian stuff. WH claiming in this email that family separations are policy of congressional Democrats. I… https://t.co/ua0TJ9Hd2f— Jim Acosta (@Jim Acosta)1529091756.0
REPORTER: Why did Sessions announce the family-separation policy? TRUMP: He's following the law. REPORTER: It's n… https://t.co/wEQx6sldXH— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar)1529069149.0
If you haven't registered to vote in November, please do so. Get some friends to the polls as well.
Now let's turn now to some less prominent outrages…
It's hard to piss off Canadians, but Trump's antics appear to have done the trick. Justin Wise reported for The Hill this week that some MPs are floating the idea of sanctioning Trump's businesses directly rather than punishing Americans as a whole. Appropriately, "the politician who posed the initial question, MP Erin Weir, invoked the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act as a way to sanction foreign nationals."
And be sure to check out Catherine Rampell's column about how Trump's attempts to protect US washing machine manufacturers from foreign competition is backfiring as laundry equipment prices have jumped by 17 percent this spring, "the biggest increase on record."
Speaking of immigration, and investment deals, the Associated Press reported that a Florida immigration firm tapped Michael Cohen to help stop a federal crackdown on EB-5 visas that allow wealthy foreigners to gain permanent residency if they invest in certain real estate projects, and the company "appears to have gotten nearly everything it wanted."
When Nicholas Mastroianni II hooked up with Cohen last year, his business was threatened by a looming regulatory crackdown on the federal EB-5 …Cohen put Mastroianni in touch with a lobbying firm that was paying him for referrals. And although it’s not clear exactly what the firm did, the proposed crackdown on the visa program collapsed and Mastroianni’s business — U.S. Immigration Fund — is now set to pocket tens of millions in fees for acting as a visa broker in a string of ongoing projects.
In any normal administration, competition for White House jobs is intense. But in this regime, which has become infamous for its back-stabbing and where you're as likely to get subpoenaed as promoted, an "exodus" of staffers has left Trump's team desperately looking for warm bodies.
"The White House – which has been having trouble filling positions as it bleeds staffers – is now trying to find recruits at a conservative job fair on the Hill," reported Annie Karni for Politico. "The fair is being hosted by the Conservative Partnership Institute, an organization founded by former Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint last year…"
"'CPI’s mission is to support conservatives in Washington and we are excited about giving hundreds of qualified, experienced conservatives an opportunity to meet with Trump administration officials and learn about career opportunities,' Rachel Bovard, senior policy director at Conservative Partnership said in an email."
Relatedly, Robert O'Harrow profiled What Fresh Hell alumnus Taylor Weyeneth for the WaPo. Weyeneth, you may recall, was a 24-year-old Trump campaign intern who ended up being promoted six times within the regime before being fired for being totally unqualified for the senior position he ended up in.
The latest of so many damning stories about serial grifter and EPA chief Scott Pruitt was from the WaPo, which reported this week that "the head of an Oklahoma-based public relations firm with a large energy practice helped Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt secure tickets for his family to go to the Rose Bowl in January."
A number of recent reports suggest that Pruitt's uniquely corrupt style is wearing thin at both the White House and among Republicans on Capitol Hill, and The New York Times reported that he's going to do as much to destroy the environment as possible on the way out. According to Coral Davenport, Pruitt is preparing to roll back two key Obama-era initiatives -- one to protect water from pollution and another to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. "While Mr. Pruitt has initiated the rollback of dozens of environmental rules over the past year and a half, the latest one-two push comes as he is battling allegations that he improperly used his government post to secure a job for his wife," wrote Davenport.
"A company run by former officials at Cambridge Analytica, the political consulting firm brought down by a scandal over how it obtained Facebook users’ private data, has quietly been working for President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election effort," reported the AP.
Meanwhile, according to The Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard, Donald Trump is more popular with his base than Obama, JFK or Ronald Reagan were with theirs at this point in his presidency. It turns out he could in fact shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and they'd stick with him.
We hate to call things "Orwellian" because it's such a tired cliché, but it really is the best word to describe a report in Foreign Policy about Mari Stull, "a former food and beverage lobbyist-turned-wine blogger" who recently got a gig as a senior State Department official and has since "been quietly vetting career diplomats and American employees of international institutions to determine whether they are loyal to President Donald Trump and his political agenda." According to the report, "she has researched the names of government officials to determine whether they signed off on Obama-era policies — though signing off does not mean officials personally endorsed them but merely cleared them through the bureaucratic chain. And she has inquired about Americans employed by international agencies, including the World Health Organization and the United Nations, asking their colleagues when they were hired and by whom."
Finally, in what should probably have been much bigger news, a group of researchers warned this week that if their habitats continue to diminish at their current pace, orangutans and chimpanzees could be extinct by the end of the century. They say that 60 percent of all primates could be wiped out if the primates with the most smarts don't get serious about preserving them.