The major Trump news this week was:
- There will be protests in cities nationwide on Friday and Saturday – to find one near you, click here
- The public release of a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence officer about incriminating material that Russia has allegedly collected on Mr. Trump
- FBI Director James Comey reveals a possible double standard in his pre-election handling of incriminating evidence against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton
- Trump’s first press conference in over five months, announcing plans to eliminate his conflicts of interest
- The confirmation hearings for Trump’s Cabinet picks, many of whom are controversial
- Washington DC prepares for protests
Articles and Editorials
Russia’s “Kompromat” on Trump
On Tuesday, CNN reported that the CIA’s briefing to Donald Trump and President Obama on Russian hacking included a two-page summary of a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence officer about incriminating financial and personal material that Russia had gathered on Donald Trump over the past five years– material which, if it does exist, Russia could presumably use to blackmail Donald Trump as President (Full Article – CNN). Online news source Buzzfeed later published what they asserted to be the entire contents of the dossier (Full Article and Alleged Dossier), which they admitted that they could not verify as factual.
The former British intelligence officer was initially hired by one of Trump’s Republican primary opponents, and was later paid to continue his work by an anonymous Democrat (Full Article – BBC). The former British spy has since gone into hiding, which MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow speculated Friday was out of fear of experiencing the same kind of high-profile London assassination as other individuals who have angered the Kremlin like Georgi Markov and Alexander Litvinenko.
Comey’s Double Standard?
Shortly before the election, FBI Director James Comey took the unprecedented step of notifying Congress shortly before the election that he had reopened an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. Although he informed Congress immediately before the election that he had again closed the investigation, many Democrats consider his earlier announcement to be a factor in Trump winning the election.
On Friday, January 13, members of Congress were given a classified briefing by Comey and other intelligence officials regarding Russia’s influence on the Presidential election. Although the members of Congress could not elaborate afterward due to the classified nature of what they had been told, many Democrats left the meeting enraged, stating that Comey had lost credibility (Full Article – Huffington Post).
Trump’s Press Conference
On Wednesday, January 11, Donald Trump held his first press conference since July, 2016 (Full Transcript and Video – New York Times). After weeks of vehement denial, Trump admitted during the conference that Russia probably did interfere with the US election which has resulted in his impending Presidency. However, when questioned about the dossier, he angrily denied any truth it, pointing out that the Kremlin had just offered reassurance that they do not have such information (Full Article – Washington Post). It should be noted that such documents and videotapes would be of far more use to Russia after Mr. Trump has been officially sworn into office on Friday, January 20.
At the press conference, Mr. Trump also announced his plans for ensuring that he will put the interests of the American people above those of his businesses. His plan consists largely of turning his businesses over to his sons while he is President, along with an assurance that he and his sons will not discuss the businesses for the duration of his Presidency. Many ethicists believe that this plan does not address conflict of interest issues (Full Article – Tha Atlantic). A true resolution to his conflicts of interests would involve Trump selling his businesses and putting the cash in a blind trust, to be invested in a way that he has no knowledge of during his Presidency.
Confirmation of Trump’s Cabinet Picks
With vetting of most Cabinet members still unfinished, the Senate packed numerous Cabinet confirmation hearings into a very short time period – unusual particularly given how controversial many of Trump’s Cabinet selections are (Schedule and Links to Coverage – Politico). Also unprecedented was the decision by three African American Congressmen to present testimony against their colleague, Senator Jeff Sessions, who has a questionable record on civil rights, but whom Trump has chosen as Attorney General (Full Article – Politico).
Many of Trump’s selections expressed differences of opinion with him on significant issues – building the wall, the Muslim registry, etc. (Full Article – NPR). While this may be reassuring to some, it should also be noted that Trump’s Cabinet picks could simply have made these statements to ensure that they could get through the hearings, fully aware that they can always “change their opinion based on new information” later.
DC Prepares for Conflict
What do you get when put Donald Trump’s most passionate supporters and most passionate protesters together in the same city – in adjacent hotel rooms, eating at the same restaurants, overhearing each other’s conversations, and finally turning out in force in the streets to express themselves? We’re about to find out. Tens of thousands of supporters and protesters are expected to arrive in Washington DC for Trump’s Friday Inauguration Ceremony (Full Article – Politico), with another 1,200 busloads of protesters expected to come to the city for a Women’s March on Washington scheduled for Saturday. (Many cities around the country will also be having local protests on Friday and Women’s Marches on Saturday).
Cartoons, Images & Videos
Cartoon originally published by Norwegian news outlet VG, and falsely rumored to have been banned from Twitter and Facebook:
Video of Donald Trump playing the accordion posted by Inga Love Belfast: