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Trump just revealed he has no idea what’s going on in the government he’s supposed to run

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- Commentary

At many different points in his presidency, Donald Trump has appeared to have no idea what was actually happening in the administration he is supposed to run. And on Friday, Trump made that fact vividly clear yet again with a stunning — even for him — post on Twitter.

After the Treasury Department announced it would be levying new sanctions on shipping companies for working with North Korea, the president abruptly reversed that decision:

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(In fact, the announcement was made on Thursday, not Friday.)

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, trying to explain this decision, said simply, “President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary.”

Though he’s in charge of the executive branch, this is a completely unorthodox and reckless approach to sanctions policy. If Trump had a strong opinion in the Treasury Department’s coming sanctions decision, he could have intervened earlier and avoided sending such conflicting messages. Instead, he made clear that he had no idea what was going on right under his nose in the Treasury Department through the formal sanctions process, making himself look inept and weak. Perhaps more importantly, however, he sends the message to the rest of the world that nothing the executive branch does has any authority unless he has personally weighed in — a move which undermines the government’s ability to accomplish, well, almost anything, as well as the undercutting the rule of law.

“What?” said national security lawyer Bradley Moss in response to the tweet. “Treasury goes through their sanctions process and then at the drop of a hat you reverse it?”

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CNN reporter Kaitlin Collins noted that the turnabout was “Big.”

“The sanctions were on Chinese shipping companies that the Trump administration said helped North Korea evade international sanctions,” she said. “Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said the ‘full implementation’ of those UN sanctions is “crucial” to the success of North Korea denuclearizing.”

“The United States and our like-minded partners remain committed to achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea and believe that the full implementation of North Korea-related UN Security Council resolutions is crucial to a successful outcome,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a press release. “Treasury will continue to enforce our sanctions, and we are making it explicitly clear that shipping companies employing deceptive tactics to mask illicit trade with North Korea expose themselves to great risk.”

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John Bolton, the president’s national security adviser, had said Thursday that the sanctions were “important” and that “the maritime industry must do more to stop North Korea’s illicit shipping practices.”

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Alternet 2020

There’s a big problem if Joe Biden only wants to serve one term as president

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Former Vice President Joe Biden may intend to only serve one term if elected president in 2020, a new report from Politico found on Wednesday.

The idea of eschewing a second term had previously buzzed around the campaign, as well as the related notion that Biden could announce a one-term pledge. But according to Politico, Biden is currently against the “pledge” and is instead only saying privately that he “will almost certainly not run for a second term.”

If this is true, it’s a huge mistake.

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‘Useful Idiots’: Tonight’s impeachment debate will show how the GOP is now the ‘Grand Old Putin’ party

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When Congress begins debating changes in the articles of impeachment Wednesday night, we will see on full display how Congressional Republicans, to defend Donald Trump, have given up any pretense of principle, the rule of law and loyalty to the country.

House Republicans have embraced Trump’s win-for-Trump-at-all-costs philosophy.

Think of them as the kind of cowards who would never jump on a hand grenade, but would instinctively push the person next to them onto the explosive. This is a political extension of the economic philosophy that we’ve got ours, tough for you, in Republican tax, spend and regulatory policy,

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Commentary

Here are 5 terrible moments for Trump from IG Horowitz’ Senate Judiciary testimony

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Earlier this week, Michael Horowitz — inspector general for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) — delivered his 434-page report on the FBI’s 2016 investigation of Russian interference in the presidential election and possible Russian ties to Donald Trump’s first presidential campaign. And on Wednesday, Horowitz testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The hearing got underway shortly after 10 a.m. EST with a lengthy opening speech from Republican Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, followed by a speech from Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.

Neither Graham nor Feinstein were critical of Horowitz’ report, but during their questioning of Horowitz, they spun the report in different ways — with Graham jumping through hoops on Trump’s behalf, while Feinstein shot down the conspiracy theory that the FBI spied on Trump’s campaign in 2016.

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