Congress Defies President, Pardon Myself
Sunday, July 23, 2017
Vol. 6, No.186
Sanctions: In a signal of distrust of the President, Republican and Democratic leaders in both houses of Congress have agreed on a bill to place sanctions on Russia for meddling in foreign elections, including the US, and for its aggression toward neighboring countries. Russia stole Crimea from Ukraine.
The law would limit the President’s power to alter or suspend the sanctions that Donald Trump opposes. For the Republicans, it’s a remarkable repudiation of the President from their own party. President Trump has talking about easing or lifting existing sanctions on Russia.
The House is expected to vote on it Tuesday. If the bill passes, President Trump will have to tolerate sanctions he doesn’t want, or veto the bill and look like he’s cozy with Russia in the midst of investigations into Russian influence on the 2016 election.
Pardon Me, Again: While continuing to claim that there’s nothing to the Russian influence investigation, President Trump tweeted yesterday that he has the power to pardon his associates, family, and even himself in the event that any or all of them are accused of a crime. Trump appears to have spoken up over Twitter after news reports that he had asked his lawyers to look into his pardoning powers. He wrote, “While all agree the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us. FAKE NEWS.”
We don’t all agree that he has complete power to pardon, especially himself. That’s new legal ground Trump would be breaking, if he were to do so. And why is he even mentioning it if the Russia investigation is “FAKE NEWS?”
Trump doesn’t like having a target on his back. He tweeted, “So many people are asking why isn’t the A.G. or Special Council looking at the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes. 33,000 e-mails deleted?”
The Americans: Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a central figure in the investigation into election meddling and political influence, has ended his 10-year stint in Washington. That removes him from the American press spotlight. His conversations and meetings with the likes of Attorney Gen, Jeff Sessions, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and fired national security adviser Michael Flynn, have been a focus in the investigations.
Nation: Eight bodies were found in the back of a tractor trailer that was jammed with people in the parking lot of a San Antonio Walmart. Police are calling it a “horrific” human trafficking crime. At least 38 people were in the trailer, many of them dehydrated, and some in serious condition.
The Obit Page: Actor John Heard, who played the father of McCaulay Culkin in the 1990 movie “Home Alone,” was found dead in a hotel room in Palo Alto, Calif. where he was said to be recovering from minor back surgery. He was 71.
Heard was the flustered father who took the family to Paris, inadvertently leaving his son alone to handle a couple of hapless burglars.
He was leading-man handsome but had a career in lighter roles, including “Big” with Tom Hanks. He had a lot of work in both television and movies, but he had his personal difficulties. He had three marriages, one of which to actress Margot Kidder lasted only six days. His former wife Sharon described him as a “creative, tormented, beautiful genius.”
He was a nice guy, but when you watched a football game on television with him, he wouldn’t stop talking.
The Gaggle: Former Obama communications director Jennifer Palmieri writes in The Washington Post that the appointment of Anthony Scaramucci as Trump’s new comms director is a signal of the waning power and prestige of the White House press corps.
She says, “Scaramucci is well-suited to be Trump’s White House communications director. He is a more sincere representation of what Trump seeks in a spokesperson than Spicer. Scaramucci projects all that Trump respects — wealth, scrappiness, loyalty and an impressive ability to dissemble while defending Trump on television.”
Scaramucci is expected to be a slick-on camera presence for the President. Palmieri says, “Having the communications director serve as on-camera spokesperson seems an apt metaphor for Trump’s disdainful view of the press. In his mind, reporters do not exist to press him for answers on behalf of the American people but to communicate whatever message Trump chooses to give the American public.”