16 Mar 2017 – What’s getting cut and funded in Trump’s budget

The proposal covers only discretionary, not mandatory, spending.

To pay for an increase in defense spending, a down payment on the border wall and school voucher programs, among other things, funding was cut from the discretionary budgets of other executive departments and agencies. The Environmental Protection Agency, the State Department and the Agriculture Department took the hardest hits. The proposal also completely defunded 19 agencies.

Discretionary spending limits, addressed by this proposal, are set by congressional budget resolutions. Congress typically makes changes to the president’s proposal — last year, lawmakers disregarded Obama’s budget altogether. Mandatory spending, by contrast, is set by other laws and is often determined by the size of the benefit and the eligible population

AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT

The Trump administration is seeking to cut 21 percent of the Agriculture Department’s discretionary spending budget, though it hasn’t detailed what precisely will be cut. The vulnerable programs include rural development and research grants but exclude SNAP (food stamps) and crop subsidies. The USDA will also reduce staff by an unspecified amount at various service center agencies around the country.

– Eliminates the $200 million McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program

– Eliminates the $500 million Water and Wastewater loan and grant program

– Cuts Women, Infants and Children nutrition assistance from $6.4 billion to $6.2 billion

– Unspecified staff reductions at USDA service center agencies around the country

– Cuts $95 million from the Rural Business and Cooperative Service

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT

As part of a 16 percent reduction to the Department of Commerce’s budget, the Trump administration is proposing sharp cuts to climate-change and ocean research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

– Cuts $250 million from coastal research programs that ready communities for rising seas and worsening storms

– Eliminates the popular $73 million Sea Grant program, which operates in conjunction with universities in 33 states

– Eliminates the Economic Development Administration, which gives out grants in struggling communities

– Cuts federal funding to the Manufacturing Extension Partnership

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

Under the Trump administration budget, the Defense Department would get a 10 percent increase in discretionary funding — but only about 3 percent more than what it spent last year. President Trump has cast it as a historic increase in defense spending, but critics say it is actually more of an incremental boost and much smaller than what he promised on the campaign trail.

– Increases the size of the Army and Marine Corps

– Increases the number of ships in the Navy’s fleet

– Buys F-35 Joint Strike Fighters more rapidly

– Increases spending to keep Air Force combat planes ready to fly

EDUCATION DEPARTMENT

The Education Department faces a 14 percent cut under the Trump administration budget, which would downsize or eliminate a raft of grants, including for teacher training, afterschool programs, and aid to low-income and minority college students. The cuts would be coupled with a historic investment — $1.4 billion — in charter schools, private schools and other school-choice initiatives.

– Cuts $3.7 billion in grants for teacher training, after-school and summer programs, and aid programs to first-generation and low-income students

– “Significantly” reduces federal work-study aid to college students

– Increases charter school funding by $168 million

– Creates new private-school choice program with $250 million

– Spends $1 billion to encourage districts to allow federal dollars meant for low-income students to follow those students to the public school of their choice

ENERGY DEPARTMENT

The Trump budget proposal, which cuts the Energy Department’s budget by 6 percent, would boost spending on managing the nation’s nuclear stockpile and revive the controversial Yucca Mountain storage facility for nuclear power plant waste. It would slash spending on a host of science and climate areas.

– Cuts $900 million from the Office of Science

– Eliminates the Energy Star, Weatherization Assistance Program, ARPA-E, Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, and Title 17 loan guarantees

– Gives the Yucca Mountain project $120 million to restart licensing operations

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

The Trump administration proposed an 18 percent decrease for HHS, one of the largest and most sprawling departments within the government. That sum excludes funding for the insurance provided by Medicare and Medicaid, two vast entitlement programs for older and lower-income Americans. In a rare move, those programs were omitted from the brief budget description the Trump administration has released.

– Increases funding for efforts to prevent and treat opioid addictions

– Decreases funding for the National Institutes of Health and certain programs to train health professionals

National Institutes of Health (part of HHS)

The 19 percent cut would affect the billions of dollars NIH gives out to researchers around the globe, as well as studies at its sprawling Bethesda, Md., campus.

– Eliminates the Fogarty International Center, which builds partnerships between U.S. and foreign health research institutions

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

The proposal would increase funding to DHS by 7 percent. This money primarily goes toward big boosts in spending on border and immigration enforcement — for a border wall, for 500 new Border Patrol agents, and 1,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

– Cuts $667 million from grant programs to state and local agencies, including pre-disaster mitigation grants and counterterrorism funding

– Raises the TSA Passenger Security Fee, currently $5.60 for a passenger flying out of a U.S. airport

DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

The 13 percent cut in funding for HUD will put tremendous strain on housing authorities across the country, which manage public housing and rely heavily on federal funding.

– Eliminates the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program

– Eliminates the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the Choice Neighborhoods program and the Self-help Homeownership Opportunity Program

– Raises funding for lead-hazard reduction from $110 million to $130 million

– Eliminates the $35 million of funding for Section 4 Community Development and Affordable Housing

INTERIOR DEPARTMENT

Under the Trump administration proposal, the Interior Department faces a 12 percent cut. That could strain everyday maintenance of national parks and historic sites, as well as enforcement of activity such as illegal wildlife trafficking at the nation’s borders.

– Eliminates funding for the 49 National Historic Sites

– Decreases funding for land acquisition by $120 million

– Wildfire suppression funding is likely to see a marginal increase

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT

The budget proposal boosts the DOJ’s tough-on-crime and anti-immigration efforts — putting money toward targeting criminal organizations and drug traffickers, and hiring immigration judges, border enforcement prosecutors and additional deputy U.S. marshals. The DOJ budget’s overall 4 percent decrease appears to come from a reduction in federal prison construction because of a reduced prison population and reducing spending on mostly unnamed “outdated” programs.

– Cuts funding to reimburse state and local governments for costs of incarcerating certain undocumented immigrants

– Cuts almost $1 billion of funding for federal prison construction

– Adds $249 million of funding for the FBI, largely aimed at counterterrorism, cyber threats, more timely firearms purchase background checks and more crime data

– Adds $80 million to adjudicate immigrant removal proceedings and hire more attorneys

LABOR DEPARTMENT

The 21 percent proposed cut in the Labor Department reduces funding for job training programs that benefit seniors and disadvantaged youth. The proposal would also shift funding responsibility to states for certain job placement programs.

– Eliminates the Senior Community Service Employment Program, which helps low-income seniors find work

– Closes poor-performing centers for Job Corps, a job-training program for disadvantaged youth

– Eliminates grants that help nonprofit groups and public agencies pay for safety and health training

– Expands efforts to reduce improper payments made to people receiving unemployment benefits

STATE DEPARTMENT, USAID AND TREASURY INTERNATIONAL PROGRAM

The 29 percent proposed cut to the State Department refocuses economic and development aid to countries of the greatest strategic importance to the U.S., and it shifts some foreign military aid from grants to loans. It also requires State and USAID to reorganize and consolidate.

– Eliminates climate-change prevention programs, including pledged payments to U.N. climate-change programs

– Reduces funding for U.N. peacekeeping

– Reduces funding for development banks such as the World Bank

– Reduces most cultural-exchange programs, but keeps the Fulbright Program

TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT

The Transportation Department’s budget would shrink by 13 percent. The spending plan would move what has been a core government function — air traffic control — outside of government hands, and push responsibility for many transit and other projects to localities.

– Shifts air traffic control outside the government

– Eliminates funding for many new transit projects and support for long-distance Amtrak trains

– Eliminates $175 million in subsidies for commercial flights to rural airports

– Cuts $499 million from the TIGER grant program, which has funded dozens of road, transit and other projects

TREASURY DEPARTMENT

The Treasury’s budget would shrink by 4 percent, with other funds reallocated toward the department’s security missions: preventing hacking, seizing terrorists’ bank accounts and enforcing sanctions on foreign adversaries.

– Reduces funding for the Internal Revenue Service by $239 million

– Eliminates grants for Community Development Financial Institutions, which provide financial services in economically distressed neighborhoods

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

VA would be one of the few departments to see its budget grow, by 6 percent to $78.9 billion. Most of the increase would improve veterans’ access to doctors and support services following a scandal in 2014 over patient wait times. The money would also help fill some of the agency’s more than 45,000 vacant medical positions. Veterans Choice, a program that gives patients the option to see private doctors outside the VA system, would also expand.

– Adds $4.4 billion in new funding to expand health services and modernize VA’s benefit claims system and other services

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

Trump’s budget begins to dismantle the EPA, shrinking its funding by 31 percent and eliminating a fifth of its workforce. More than 50 programs would be eliminated altogether, including Energy Star; grants that help states and cities fight air pollution; an office focused on environmental justice and cleanup efforts in the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes; and infrastructure assistance to Alaskan native villages and along the Mexican border. Funding for drinking water infrastructure would remain intact, but the agency’s scienctific research would suffer massive cuts.

– Eliminates more than 50 programs and 3,200 jobs

– Discontinues funding for international climate-change programs

– Cuts funding for the Office of Research and Development in half

– Cuts funding for the Superfund cleanup program and the Office of Enforcement and Compliance

– Prioritizes drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects.

NASA

NASA will see only a small cut — about 1 percent of its 2017 budget. But the cuts come almost entirely from Earth-observing and education programs, suggesting that Trump aims to make good on campaign promises to shift NASA’s focus away from our planet. The budget also directs NASA to find ways to collaborate with the commercial space industry. It makes no mention of the Journey to Mars, which is likely to add to speculation that Trump wants to shift NASA’s focus to the moon.

– Cuts $102 million of funding from Earth science, terminating four missions aimed at understanding climate-change

– Eliminates the $115 million Office of Education

– Cuts $88 million from the Robotic Refueling Mission, which develops techniques to repair satellites

SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION

The Trump administration is proposing to cut about 5 percent of the Small Business Administration’s budget. The new plan would eliminate $12 million worth of technical-assistance grants and other programs where the administration thinks the private sector already “provides efficient mechanisms” for small-business development and growth.

– Eliminates PRIME technical-assistance grants, Growth Accelerators and Regional Innovation Clusters, saving about $12 million

– Cuts $1 million of $46 million of loan guarantees currently available to small-business owners

ARTS AND CULTURAL AGENCIES

The Trump administration’s proposal calls for eliminating four cultural agencies and their collective $971 million budgets. Most of the funds support nonprofit groups across the country, such as dance companies, radio stations, orchestras and theaters.

– Eliminates all $148 million for the National Endowment for the Arts and all $148 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities

– Eliminates the $230 million Institute of Museum and Library Services

– Eliminates the $445 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports public television and radio, including PBS and NPR

In total, the budget proposes to eliminate funding for these 19 agencies:

– African Development Foundation

– Appalachian Regional Commission

– Chemical Safety Board

– Corporation for National and Community Service

– Corporation for Public Broadcasting

– Delta Regional Authority

– Denali Commission

– Institute of Museum and Library Services

– Inter-American Foundation

– U.S. Trade and Development Agency

– Legal Services Corporation

– National Endowment for the Arts

– National Endowment for the Humanities

– Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation

– Northern Border Regional Commission

– Overseas Private Investment Corporation

– U.S. Institute of Peace

– U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness

– Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Washington Post

https://archive.is/1JMRf

15 Mar 2017 – Trump calls Hawaii judge’s ruling against revised travel ban ‘unprecedented judicial overreach’

Less than two hours after a federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide temporary restraining order on the Trump administration’s revised travel ban, the president slammed the decision as “an unprecedented judicial overreach.”

A day before the executive order was to take effect, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson blocked the limitations on travel and immigration. Watson’s ruling in Hawaii Wednesday noted that “a reasonable, objective observer… would conclude” that the ban “was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion.”

Speaking Wednesday night at a rally at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium, President Trump said the court was motivated by “political reasons,” adding that he expected to be “criticized … for speaking harshly about our courts.”

“The order… blocked was a watered-down version of the first order that was also blocked by another judge and should have never been blocked to start with,” Trump said.

He added, “This ruling makes us look weak.”

ABC

https://archive.is/3Psqu

15 Mar 2017 – Trump’s Second Travel Ban Is Blocked by U.S. Judge

Donald Trump’s latest attempt to temporarily bar new immigrants and refugees from six Muslim-majority nations was put on hold by a judge, pushing the young administration toward a second defeat on one of the president’s core campaign pledges.

The ruling means the 90-day ban on new visa approvals won’t be enforced beginning Thursday, as intended by the White House. The decision by the judge in Honolulu to block the policy nationwide will almost certainly be appealed by the Trump administration and could reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

The judge is one of three across the U.S. who spent Wednesday weighing whether to impose a temporary halt on the president’s second travel ban, which was tailored by administration lawyers to stand up to the legal challenges that imperiled its predecessor. Revisions to the order weren’t enough to convince him that the ban was free of religious discrimination.

Bloomberg

https://archive.is/yfiIO

14 Mar 2017 – Trump paid $38 million in federal income taxes on reported income of $150 million, an effective tax rate of 25 percent

President Trump wrote off $100 million in business losses to reduce his federal taxes in 2005, according to forms made public on Tuesday night in a rare glimpse at documents that he has refused to disclose since becoming a candidate for the nation’s highest office.

The forms showed that Mr. Trump paid $38 million in federal income taxes on reported income of $150 million, an effective tax rate of 25 percent, according to Rachel Maddow, who aired them on her MSNBC show. By claiming losses from previous years, Mr. Trump was able to save tens of millions of dollars in taxes that he otherwise might have owed.

The White House responded without even waiting for the show to air, issuing a statement that seemed to confirm the authenticity of the forms even as it defended Mr. Trump and assailed the network for publicizing them. “You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago,” the statement said.

New York Times

https://archive.is/y0KtQ

14 Mar 2017 – Trump wiretap claims: White House softens stance on unproven tweets

Unsubstantiated claims by US President Donald Trump that he was wiretapped by Barack Obama were not meant literally, the White House press secretary says. Sean Spicer said Mr Trump had broadly meant “surveillance and other activities” when he made the allegation in a tweet earlier this month. He also suggested the president was not accusing his predecessor specifically.

A congressional committee had set a Monday deadline for the department to provide any evidence of President Trump’s claims but a spokeswoman said it needed “additional time… to determine what if any responsive documents may exist”.

The House Intelligence Committee said it would give the department until 20 March to comply with its request.

Earlier, Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said she did not have any evidence to back up the wiretapping claim but said there were “many ways to surveil each other now”.

“You can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets – any number of ways… microwaves that turn into cameras. We know this is a fact of modern life,” she told New Jersey’s Bergen County Record.

BBC

https://archive.is/pp3Of

Original Trump Track story

Update 16 Mar 2017 – Trump Tries to Explain his Reasoning

He said: “I’ve been reading about things. I read in, I think it was January 20 a New York Times article where they were talking about wiretapping. There was an article I think they used that exact term. I read other things.

“I watched your friend, Bret Baier, the day previous where he was talking about certain very complex sets of things happening, and wiretapping. I said, wait a minute, there’s a lot of wiretapping being talked about. I’ve been seeing a lot of things”.

He did not elaborate on his claims, which Mr Obama’s team have dismissed as “false”, nor provide any evidence to back them up.

When asked why he did not report his suspicions to the intelligence services before making them public he said he did not want “to do anything that’s going to violate any strength of an agency”.

He said they had “enough problems” and that the CIA itself had been hacked during the Obama administration and “had a lot of things” taken.

Mr Trump defended his decision to tweet his suspicions without proof because “The New York Times wrote about it”.

“Not that I respect The New York Times. I call it the failing New York Times. But they did write on January 20 using the word wiretap,” he explained.

He claimed he had subsequently gathered “a lot” of evidence and “some very interesting items are coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

Mr Trump’s confidence is at odds with the conclusion of the House Intelligence Committee that it had seen no evidence for it and did not believe it happened.

The Independent

https://archive.is/e1EZz

12 Mar 2017 – Trump’s revised travel ban order loses its first court battle

U.S. District Judge William Conley on Friday blocked President Trump’s administration from enforcing his new travel ban against a Syrian family looking to escape their war-torn homeland by fleeing to Wisconsin.

Conley issued a temporary restraining order barring enforcement against the family.

The order doesn’t block the entire travel ban.

It simply prevents Trump’s administration from enforcing it against this family pending a March 21 hearing.

There are various exemptions and waivers in the new ban, including some that give consular officers flexibility to decide cases.

The Hill

https://archive.is/CgA3s

11 Mar 2017 – US attorney Preet Bharara fired after refusing Jeff Sessions’ order to resign

Preet Bharara, the powerful Manhattan prosecutor, was fired on Saturday after he refused to resign, in reference to an order from attorney general Jeff Sessions.

“I did not resign,” Bharara tweeted on Saturday afternoon. “Moments ago I was fired.”

The afternoon announcement came less than a day after the Justice Department asked 46 holdover U.S. attorneys from the Obama administration to submit their resignations.

The Guardian

CNBC

https://archive.is/AqF0Y

10 Mar 2017 – Top Democrat sent letter to Mike Pence in November warning of Michael Flynn’s Turkey lobbying

In an interview with Fox on Thursday night, Vice President Mike Pence said he was not aware, and that he only heard about it as reports surfaced on Thursday that Flynn had registered as a foreign agent with the Justice Department earlier this week.

But Rep. Elijah Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent Pence a letter on November 18 requesting more information about the potential conflicts of interest posed by Flynn’s lobbying work.

“In addition to being in the press, I warned the Vice President directly three months ago about the conflicts created by Lt. General Flynn’s company lobbying on behalf of Turkish interests,” Cummings said.

Business Insider

09 Mar 2017 – Trump unaware that Michael Flynn was a ‘foreign agent’, Sean Spicer says

Donald Trump was unaware his former national security adviser Michael Flynn was working as a “foreign agent” when he gave him the job, according to his press secretary.

“I don’t believe that was known,” said Sean Spicer, when asked by reporters at his regular press briefing on Thursday.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that from September to November last year, while he was working as a top adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign, Flynn was lobbying for a firm linked to the Turkish government, earning $530,000. He and his company Flynn Intel Group Inc filed retroactive documents with the Department of Justice two days ago to register as a foreign agent.

The Guardian

https://archive.is/TQX56

09 Mar 2017 – House committee approves the Republican Party’s Obamacare repeal bill

A second House committee approved the Republican Party’s Obamacare repeal bill Thursday, as President Donald Trump flexed his deal-making skills to build momentum behind the legislation amid growing concern among prominent GOP figures that fast-tracking the measure could back fire.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted to move the bill to the House floor after a marathon hearing lasting 27 hours and 18 minutes, hours after the Ways and Means panel registered the first milestone for the American Health Care Act, endorsing it after their own 18-hour session.

The bill, which is strongly backed by the White House, marks a crucial first legislative test for Trump’s capacity to enact his agenda and could represent the Republican leadership’s last best hope for dismantling former Democratic President Barack Obama’s proudest domestic achievement.
 /
The White House is convinced that it can bring around skeptics of the bill in the House and the Senate — one reason why Trump is stepping up his engagement, with high-profile meetings with leading GOP figures in the debate.
 /
“He gets the complexity of this,” a senior administration official said. “It’s a sell for him,” the official said, adding that Trump sees himself as the ultimate deal maker and “I think he’s willing to cut deals,” to get this legislation passed, the official said.

09 Mar 2017 – EPA chief Scott Pruitt says carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming

“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“But we don’t know that yet. … We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”

 The statement contradicts the public stance of the agency Pruitt leads. The EPA’s webpage on the causes of climate change states, “Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change.”
https://archive.is/3b1Sd

08 Mar 2017 – Trump administration looks to resume Saudi arms sale

The State Department has approved a resumption of weapons sales that critics have linked to Saudi Arabia’s bombing of civilians in Yemen, a potential sign of reinvigorated U.S. support for the kingdom’s involvement in its neighbor’s ongoing civil war.

The proposal from the State Department would reverse a decision made late in the Obama administration to suspend the sale of precision guided munitions to Riyadh, which leads a mostly Arab coalition conducting airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Washington Post

https://archive.is/WBdIK

07 Mar 2017 – Trump personally met with Russian ambassador during campaign

Trump personally met with the Russian ambassador on April 27, 2016, prior to a major foreign policy speech. The Wall Street Journal, in a report that was little-noticed at the time but was recently picked up by AMERICABlog News, reported the meeting last year.

A few minutes before he made those remarks, Mr. Trump met at a VIP reception with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak. Mr. Trump warmly greeted Mr. Kislyak and three other foreign ambassadors who came to the reception.

Kislyak, according to multiple contemporaneous news reports, was seated in the front row. It was an invitation-only event.

Trump used the speech to call for warmer relations with Russia. “I believe an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia — from a position of strength only — is possible, absolutely possible,” Trump said. “Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out.”

Trump has repeatedly insisted that neither he nor anyone on his campaign was in contact with Russia during the election.

“Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years. Don’t speak to people from Russia,” Trump said during a February 16 press conference. He said he contacts with Russia were limited to talking twice to Vladimir Putin after election day.

On February 20, Trump spokesperson Sarah Sanders flatly declared that the Trump campaign had “no contacts” with Russia.

We’ve since learned that at least four members of the Trump campaign — Jeff Sessions, Michael Flynn, Carter Page, and J.D. Gordon — talked with Russian officials during the campaign.

Sessions, now the Attorney General, recused himself from any investigation of the Trump campaigns contacts with Russia after he falsely told the Judiciary Committee he had not met with any Russian officials.

Think Progress

Archive link

07 Mar 2017 – Trump blames Obama for 122 ‘vicious’ Guantanamo prisoners returning ‘to the battlefield’ — but 113 of them were released under Bush

President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning falsely accused Barack Obama’s administration of releasing “122 vicious prisoners” from the Guantanamo Bay military prison.

“122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!” Trump tweeted.

The timing of Trump’s tweet suggested it was inspired by a “Fox & Friends” segment Tuesday morning reporting on a US airstrike in Yemen that killedformer Guantanamo detainee Yasir al Silmi.

The president, however, appeared to have drawn the wrong conclusion from the Fox segment.

The Fox segment called the airstrike a “win in the war on terror” and credited the Trump administration with killing al Silmi, who the show said was “released by Barack Obama.”

But while the segment ended by saying “122 prisoners released from Gitmo have returned to the battlefield,” it had specifically named only al Silmi as being released under Obama.

As NBC News national correspondent Peter Alexander pointed out on Twitter, a report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence indicates that 113 of the 122 former Guantanamo detainees cited by Trump were released under President George W. Bush, compared with only nine under Obama.

Business Insider

https://archive.is/GrT4g

06 Mar 2017 – The White House copies and pastes a paragraph from an ExxonMobil press release into a Trump statement

A White House press release sent to reporters today contained a paragraph identical to a paragraph in an ExxonMobil press release, published an hour before.

The White House release, titled “President Trump Congratulates Exxon Mobil for Job-Creating Investment Program,” applauded the company for new oil refining and chemical manufacturing developments along the coasts of Louisiana and Texas.

Washington Post data reporter Christopher Ingraham noticed the identical paragraph in both releases.

The paragraph included in both the White House press release and the Exxon release read as follows. The only difference is the word “expansion,” bolded below, which appears only in the Exxon release:

“ExxonMobil is strategically investing in new refining and chemical-manufacturing projects in the United States Gulf Coast region to expand its manufacturing and export capacity. The company’s Growing the Gulf expansion program consists of 11 major chemical, refining, lubricant and liquefied natural gas projects at proposed new and existing facilities along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Investments began in 2013 and are expected to continue through at least 2022.”

Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is the former CEO of ExxonMobil.

The incident bears resemblance to the time former Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt received a letter from an oil and gas company opposing federal effort to limit methane gas leaking from drilling operations, and then copied and pasted it onto his own letterhead and sent it to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is currently the EPA administrator.

Quartz

https://archive.is/rpI6M

06 Mar 2017 – Trump Signs New Order Blocking Arrivals From 6 Majority-Muslim Countries, instead of 7

Like the initial order signed Jan. 27, the new executive order bars arrivals from specific majority-Muslim countries for 90 days and suspends the entire U.S. refugee program for 120 days. It also caps the total number of refugees admitted this fiscal year at 50,000, instead of 110,000.

But there are a series of differences. The ban announced Monday no longer includes Iraq. It explicitly doesn’t apply to lawful permanent residents (green card holders) or existing visa holders. Syrian refugees are not banned indefinitely. Refugees already formally scheduled for travel to the U.S. will be permitted to enter the country.

NPR

https://archive.is/0W8BY

06 Mar 2017 – White House spokeswoman: Trump doesn’t believe Comey that Obama didn’t wiretap

President Donald Trump does not accept an assertion from FBI Director James Comey that former President Barack Obama did not order an illegal wiretap of Trump Tower during last year’s presidential campaign, a White House spokeswoman said Monday.

Trump leveled the explosive accusation on Twitter over the weekend, delivering it without any evidence. Through a spokesman, Obama has flatly denied the charge, as has James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence under Obama. White House officials have yet to offer any proof to back Trump’s claim, instead suggesting that the matter should be investigated.

Politico

https://archive.is/DvtgR

04 Mar 2017 – Trump tweets Trump Tower tirade at 3am claiming Barack Obama ordered ‘wire tap’, but provides no evidence

03 Mar 2017 – Donald Trump tweets photo of Democrat Chuck Schumer with Vladimir Putin, Schumer replies: I’ll talk about my Putin meeting, will you?

 

02 Mar 2017 – Jeff Sessions recuses himself from all Trump campaign-related investigations

Under growing pressure from Democrats and Republicans alike, Attorney General Jeff Sessions agreed Thursday to recuse himself from an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. His action followed revelations he twice met with the Russian ambassador and didn’t say so when pressed by Congress.

Sessions rejected any suggestion that he tried to mislead anyone about his contacts with the Russian, saying, “That is not my intent. That is not correct.”

He did allow, though, that he should have been more careful in his testimony, saying, “I should have slowed down and said, ‘But I did meet one Russian official a couple of times.'”

Associated Press

https://archive.is/TsrZD

Update – 04 Mar 2017

Sessions said he made his decision after consulting with officials at the Justice Department, who recommended he should no longer participate in the probe.

Washington Post reporter Robert Costa tweeted Saturday morning that President Trump left the White House “in a fury” on Friday, “fuming about [Jeff] Sessions’s recusal and telling aides that Sessions shouldn’t have recused himself,” also calling the reports of his meeting “bull.”

The Hill

https://archive.is/qLeWP