Lock her/her/him up
Trump began his first workday of 2018 upset that the Justice Department still hasn’t slapped handcuffs on his political enemies of the past and possibly future.
A Tuesday morning tweet: “Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others.” (See this Washington Post story to help decipher what Trump is talking about.)
The State Department recently released emails that Abedin (a Clinton aide) backed up on her now-estranged husband Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Their discovery in late 2016 led the FBI to briefly reopen, then close without charges, the Clinton email investigation. Trump also has repeatedly questioned why Clinton hasn’t been prosecuted.
In targeting former FBI director James Comey, whom he has accused of leaking, Trump was going after a potential witness against him in the Russia investigation.
His description of Justice as “deep state” suggests his enemies list includes a pillar of the government he leads.
You don’t have to prove it
Trump tweeted Tuesday night: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
‘Rocket Man’ feeling squeeze?
After tweeting disappointment with how China is enforcing sanctions on North Korea, Trump has decided “Sanctions and "other" pressures are beginning to have a big impact on North Korea.”
As for overtures between the north and south about discussing Pyongyang’s participating in the Winter Olympics in South Korea, Trump tweeted: “Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not — we will see!”
Several reports said North Korea may be preparing for a new missile launch test within the next two weeks.
Janison: Man of the Iran street
Trump has plenty of company among both Republicans and Democrats in speaking up for anti-government protesters in Iran. For Trump, there’s a bonus: It gives him another line of attack against former President Barack Obama for the Iran nuclear deal and the lifting of sanctions that accompanied it.
“All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets,’ ” Trump tweeted. But Trump is still stopping short of saying he’ll seek to tear up the deal. See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.
Stop the checks
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley followed up on Trump’s Twitter blasts at Pakistan by confirming the administration will withhold $255 million in aid to the country for playing “a double game for years” on counterterrorism.
“They work with us at times, and they also harbor the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan,” Haley said. Pakistan complained the U.S. comments were “completely incomprehensible.”
Haley also warned the United States will cut off UN refugee agency funds for the Palestinians if they don’t agree to new peace talks with Israel, and Trump broadened the threat in tweets.
“ ... We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect ... with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”
The meaning of another part of that tweet was mystifying: “We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more.”
Democrats in power in high-tax states including New York are exploring ways to dodge the full impact of the new tax law’s limits on deductions their residents have long used, The New York Times reported.
One idea: Replace state income taxes, which are no longer fully deductible starting in 2018, with payroll taxes on employers, which are deductible. Another: Allow residents to replace their state income tax payments with tax-deductible charitable contributions to state governments.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said he’s working on a plan. “Let’s see if we can redesign our tax code to get out of the federal trap that they set,” Cuomo said recently. The governor is expected to be on the attack against Trump and Republicans in his State of the State speech Wednesday, reports Newsday’s Yancey Roy.
What else is happening
- Steve Bannon called the Donald Trump Jr. meeting with a Russian lawyer "treasonous" and said the FBI should have been called in, according to a new Michael Wolff book about the 2016 campaign.
- Trump tweeted he has been “very strict on Commercial Aviation” and the “zero deaths” in 2017 was “the best and safest year on record!” The same was true for 2010 through 2016 for U.S. carriers, and the last U.S. airline crash with fatalities was in 2009. But keep up the good work!
- Sen. Orrin Hatch, 83, a Trump ally, announced he not seek re-election this year. The president had urged the Utah Republican to seek another six-year term, and his exit opens the door for what Trump wanted to block — a run by Mitt Romney, who at times has been a harsh critic of the president.
- Foreign governments are doing plenty of favors for Trump-branded developments in their countries, including public works projects such as sewer systems and roads that benefit the properties, McClatchy reports.
- A Trump tweet insinuated he is more sincere than Democrats in wanting to help the “dreamers”: “DACA activists and Hispanics will go hard against Dems, will start ‘falling in love’ with Republicans and their President!” Trump is scheduled to meet with congressional leaders Wednesday.
- Trump’s economic policies have inspired enough optimism among business leaders for them to plan job-creating investment in new plants, equipment and factory upgrades, The New York Times writes.