Miss Saigon, Mr. President?
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) went on CNN Monday morning to criticize President Donald Trump and support special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Soon, the tweets began.
“Interesting to watch Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut talking about hoax Russian collusion when he was a phony Vietnam con artist!” Trump wrote.
Blumenthal years ago misrepresented himself to voters as a Vietnam War veteran. A Marine reservist during that era, his service was entirely stateside.
Trump tweeted that “Blumenthal should take a nice long vacation in Vietnam, where he lied about his service, so he can at least say he was there.”
Should Trump be going there? He jokingly described avoiding sexually transmitted diseases in the ’80s as his “personal Vietnam.” Draft deferments — for college and temporary bone spurs in his heels — kept him out of the actual Vietnam.
Who did go? Mueller, for one. The special counsel was a Marine rifle platoon commander, Wounded in action, he was awarded the Bronze Star.
There’s a history behind the Trump-Blumenthal antagonism that has nothing to with Russia or Vietnam.
Blumenthal’s wife, Cynthia, is the daughter of Peter Malkin, a New York real estate figure and longtime Trump business rival. See this backgrounder from Roll Call.
Tweet control to MAGA Don
Maybe it was because he woke up to an all-rain, no-golf forecast. Maybe chief of staff John Kelly, who is supposed to get input on Trump’s social media output, needs to set his “Reveille” alarm for earlier. Maybe the idea that anyone can curb the excesses is just an impossible dream.
In any case, Trump was an avenging angel of the morning on Twitter Monday. Beside the attack on Blumenthal, Trump was back to grousing in 140-character bursts about “fake news,” focusing on the “Fake News Russia collusion story” instead of his list of accomplishments.
The take-away: LI accents
As Trump looks again to rebuild his communications team, Long Island accents have his ear, with Farmingville-raised Bill Shine, a former Fox News co-president, floated as a possible successor to quickly departed Anthony Scaramucci, a product of Port Washington.
Also with big influence: Fox host Sean Hannity, who grew up in Franklin Square. And Trump had a long bond with former Fox commentator, Levittown-reared Bill O’Reilly.
See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.
Ace of base
Also in Trump’s Monday morning tweetstorm: a claim that his base of popular support is “far bigger & stronger than ever before (despite some phony Fake News polling).”
Who’s to argue? Kellyanne Conway, for one. The White House counselor said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday that “his approval rating among Republicans and conservatives and Trump voters is down slightly.”
The message, she said, is “Don’t worry about a Congress that isn’t supporting legislation to get big-ticket items done. . . . Focus on the agenda.” Trump was still snarling on Twitter last week over the failure of Senate Republicans to repeal Obamacare.
Help wanted, barely
Before Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club could get Labor Department approval to hire 35 foreign workers as waiters, it had to show it tried to hire Americans first. It did — but only the minimum the law requires, The Washington Post reported.
A small-print ad ran in the Palm Beach Post, pointing out the job provided “no tips” and instructing: “Apply by fax.” The ad also gave a mailing address, but no email address or phone number.
The club’s request for visas came during “Made in America Week” at the White House, as Trump urged U.S. businesses to “hire American.”
Tangle over taxes
The bid to change the tax system in Washington involves a debate over whether investors or workers bear the greater burden of corporate taxes in the United States, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Treasury officials in the Trump administration argue that the corporate tax burdens employees by constraining wages, and therefore cutting it would help the middle class. Traditionally owners of capital were assumed to bear the burden of corporate taxes, which would undercut this assertion of middle-class relief.
Land o' leaks
Trump has tried to make a big deal about the leaks that can hurt him politically. Early Tuesday, however, he retweeted a report about North Korea cruise missiles based on anonymous intelligence sources. Although it's just the kind of drop he and AG Jeff Sessions have been issuing warnings about, this was clearly a point about North Korean non-cooperation Trump wanted to make.
The Fox News report states: “'North Korea is not showing any evidence it plans to halt its missile tests,' said one official who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive information."
What else is happening
- Trump is going to New York City early next week for meetings, report Newsday’s Emily Ngo and Laura Figueroa. It will be only his second return to his old home turf since becoming president.
- The managers of Trump’s hotel in the nation’s capital acknowledged to The Washington Post that they market to Republican and conservative groups to profit from the president’s popularity with them.
- Michael Cohen, Trump's longtime personal lawyer, owes New York State more than $37,000 in back taxes on his medallion cab companies, the Daily News reports.
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) tops Senate Democrats in opposing Trump nominees — she’s voted yes for only five of 53 of them, according to Roll Call. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) ranks ninth in disapproval votes, voting to confirm 20 who have received a roll-call vote.
- Senate Republicans want to move on from a failed sweeping Obamacare repeal to a tax overhaul if they’re going to have a chance to get it done this year, Politico reports. But the senators worry that if Trump carries out a threat to stop Obamacare subsidies, it will distract from the plan.
- Chicago is suing to prevent the Trump administration from enforcing policies that would withhold money from so-called sanctuary cities for immigrants without documentation.
- Farm country is often Trump country, but there’s anxiety in the agriculture business that spurning trade deals is going to put U.S. producers at a disadvantage selling exports in world markets, Politico reports.