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Category Archives: Donald Trump

Donald Trump Is The Fast-Food President – HuffPost

Posted: August 6, 2017 at 3:40 am

Donald Trump lovesfast food. The 45th president has no problem wolfing down a Quarter Pounder or digging his way through a bucket of KFC. Great stuff, he once called the cheap, greasy fare.

Six months into Trumps presidency, the fast-food industry has plenty of reason to love him back.

The oil and gas sector, coal producers and for-profit colleges are all clear winnersin the Trump teams mission to deconstruct the administrative state. But so far, fast food, retail and other lower-wage industries have benefited as much as anyone from the administrations great regulatory rollback.

Lobbyists for restaurants, hotels and other franchised businesses spent the last several years fighting the Obama administration on one regulation after another. But the new White House occupant has heard their grievances, making industry-friendly changes to employment laws and how theyre enforced. Thats included abandoning Obamas overtime reforms, shying away from a minimum wage raise, and limiting whos considered an employer under the law all of which have a disproportionate effect on lower-wage, labor-intensive fields like fast food.

All told, the new administration has given McDonalds and its friends plenty to cheer about.

The early signs are that it can be more like night and day in terms of approach, said Matt Haller, senior vice president at the International Franchise Association, an industry group representing franchisers, including McDonalds. We just want regulations that are fair and reasonable and very clear.

The previous White House viewed regulation as a means to lift up workers at the bottom of the economic ladder, particularly folks doing low-paid service work like fast food and hospitality. Hence their push for a higher mandated wage floor, expanded overtime protections and aggressive enforcement of wage and hour laws. Like Obama, Trump speaks often of forgotten workers whose pay has stagnated, but so far his prescription for improving their lot mainly involves unfettering their employers.

That shouldnt come as a surprise for a president who made his fortune in hotels and went on to nominate a burger chain executive to be the countrys top workplace watchdog. (Andrew Puzder, the former CEO of Hardees and Carls Jr., ended up withdrawing his controversial nomination.) Still, the degree to which the administration is taking the reins off employers has distressed past officials who took a more aggressive tack.

Its the combination of these policies thats deeply troubling, said David Weil, who led the Labor Departments Wage and Hour Division under Obama. I see very little evidence that they are doing anything to address the needs of working people who have been left behind for a long time.

While he was in office, Weil tried to steer the agencys investigations toward the industries where he saw the most vulnerable workers fast food, sit-down restaurants, hotels and motels, janitorial companies and so forth. A Labor Department spokesman said the agency under Trump still carries out what it calls targeted enforcement programs. But pressed on whether they were targeting the same low-wage fields as before, the spokesman declined to say.

Some of the changes under Trump have little practical impact, but speak volumes about the administrations peculiar form of populism.

Employers in food and hospitality were apoplectic over the Obama administrations view on joint employment: the idea that more than one entity might be responsible when a worker gets injured or shorted on pay. The Obama administration put companies on notice that they, too, could be responsible for abuses against workers who are technically employed by temp firms and contractors. Fast-food brands like McDonalds recoiled at the idea they might be as liable for workplace violations as the franchisees who operate McDonalds restaurants.

After Trumps second pick for labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, assumed office in April, one of the first steps the agency took was to rescind the guidance on joint employment issued under Obama. Speaking to a retail lobby last month, Vice President Mike Pence proudly noted the change, drawing applause.

In another early move, the Labor Department brought back what are known as opinion letters. When employers are sued for allegedly not paying overtime or the minimum wage, they can ask the Labor Department to pen one of these letters in their defense, to be used in court. Weil likens them to a get-out-of-jail-free card for employers, and the Obama administration did not issue them. Trumps Labor Department, however, has trumpeted their return.

Trump also rescinded an executive order from Obama that would have made it harder for firms to secure federal contracts if they have a documented history of wage theft. Obamas order was the result of a campaign by fast-food workers who had been shorted on their pay while working on federal properties. (Two other orders from Obama one raising the minimum wage for federal contractors and another mandating sick leave for them have so far survived this administration.)

Other changes on the employment front are far more significant. The Obama administration tried to reform the nations overtime rules and guarantee more workers time and a half pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. The share of salaried employees who are protected by overtime law has dropped off a cliffsince the 1970s. The changes the Obama administration made would have extended overtime rights to 4 million additional workers, according to the previous White House.

Carlo Allegri/Reuters

After business groups sued to stop Obamas plan, the Trump White House declined to defend it. The new administration seems to share the view of business groups that Obamas proposal covered too many workers and was too costly for employers. If Trump takes his own crack at overtime reform, its likely hell make far fewer workers eligible for time and a half pay.

Many of the people Obamas reforms aimed to help work in food and retail jobs, earning relatively low salaries while clocking long days. A group of Chipotle workers recently sued the burrito chainfor backpay, arguing Obamas overtime changes should still apply even though the rule is now in legal limbo. The case hasnt yet been decided.

As with the overtime expansion, this White House has abandoned the push for a higher minimum wage made by Obama. The idea of hiking the minimum wage tends to poll well across party lines; although he flip-flopped on the issueas a candidate, Trump once said he would like to raise it to at least $10. But so far as president, he seems intent to leave such matters to the market. The federal minimum wage, which prevails in any state without a higher one, is currently $7.25 per hour and hasnt been raised in eight years.

Beyond the major policy shifts, Trumps effect on low-wage work will be felt in less obvious ways. He recently made two nominations to the five-member National Labor Relations Board, which interprets collective bargaining law and referees disputes between employers and unions. His conservative choices one is a management-side attorney, the other a former GOP staffer who served on the House labor committee would end the current liberal majority and push the board to the right. (One of them has already been confirmed.)

If history is any indication, the Republican board would likely reverse some union-friendly rulings and draw tighter boundaries around whos eligible to unionize. Celine McNicholas, a labor policy expert at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, said the board is one way Trump could chip away at what she considered modest gains made for lower-income workers during the Obama years.

These potential setbacks are going to prove to be incredibly damaging, particularly for folks who are low-wage workers, McNicholas said. They are certainly losers under the Trump administration.

One potential beneficiary of the new board is McDonalds. The fast-food giant recently went to trial before an administrative law judge at the labor board to determine whether it counts as a joint employer alongside its franchisees; McDonalds could be held jointly responsible for violating workers rights. In general, a conservative labor board would be more likely to side with employers in such contentious cases.

The boards general counsel, Richard Griffin, who functions as a quasi-prosecutor, brought the case against McDonalds on behalf of workers who claimed theyd been illegally retaliated against for their activism in the Fight for $15 protests. A former union lawyer, Griffin assumed the post in 2013 and has been a thorn in the side of not just McDonalds but also Walmart and other employers hes taken to trial. His aggressive tenure has so infuriated business groups that some Republicans have demanded that he step down.

But at this point, that would no longer be necessary. Griffins four-year term expires in November. It will be up to Trump to choose his replacement.


Donald Trump Is The Fast-Food President - HuffPost

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Week 11: Gone Fishing for Donald Trump – Politico

Posted: at 3:40 am

White House special counsel Kellyanne Conway daubed the airwaves with her usual dudgeon Thursday night and Friday morning, protesting in TV interviews that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigationnow issuing subpoenas from a grand juryhas become a "fishing expedition."

For a change, Conway's dudgeon was defensible. Once impaneled, any grand jury can sail the seven seas for months or years trawling for big fish, shellfish, pinnipeds, cetaceanseven kelp, and algae blooms should it be so moved. In the event that space travel proves feasible, nothing will stop grand juries from touring the planets on a quest to serve subpoenas. If a portal into the fifth dimension ever makes itself apparent, grand juries will mount expeditions there, too.

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The Constitution plus decades of judicial precedent have endowed grand juries with legal superpowers. The Supreme Court has ruled that a grand jury "does not depend on a case or controversy for power to get evidence, but can investigate merely on suspicion that the law is being violated, or even just because it wants assurance that it is not." [Emphasis added.] In another case, the court held that a grand jury can operate independently of "questions of propriety or forecasts of probable results" and elsewhere that a grand jury investigation isn't complete "until every available clue has been run down and all witnesses examined in every proper way to find if a crime has been committed."

In short, every grand jury is a fishing expedition. Mueller can start with Russia, his original mandate, but he can take his investigation wherever he finds crime. That's right, the bass fisherman could come home with a swordfish. Or even a sword.

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Aside from firing Captain Mueller, there's little Donald Trump can do to shield himself, his family, his political appointees, his business associates and his campaign buddies from the grand jury's scrutiny. And it's not clear that Trump can fire Mueller easily under the current set-up. A pair of bipartisan bills currently introduced this week in the Senate would give the special counsel the right to challenge his firing in court. "Any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency unless Mueller did something wrong," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R.-S.C., told reporters.

Think of a grand jury as an insatiable maw and you begin to understand Muellers task and Trumps terror. Mountains of phone records, business records, emails, and all manner of paperwork are likely to be subpoenaed by Mueller. Already, subpoenas covering the June 2016 meeting in Donald Jr.s Trump Tower office have been issued, and orders for principals to give grand jury testimony will surely follow. While the orders can be challenged or narrowed, Trump's people will find no easy escape from the dragnetwhatever Mueller points his flashlight at will glow with grand-jury illumination. According to the Washington Post, Trump burned with fury when he learned that Mueller would have access to several years of his tax returns.

The Trump protest against the Russia investigation was typical, as he called it "fake" and "demeaning" at West Virginia campaign-style rally this week. Such tirades will earn him no reprieve. Grand juries don't return to port until they've filled the hatches with fresh catch. This wasn't Trump's only act of non-persuasion this week. He also took to Twitter to blame Congress for the United States' poor relationship with Russia after it passed a veto-proof sanctions measure. Would it be reading too much into the president's thinking to conclude from his tweet that he desires to collude in public with Putin but the fact that the damn House and Senate just wont allow it has angered him to the point of tears?

Like Bill Clinton before him, Trump will be compelled to give testimony. He might want to start working on that honesty thing so the special counsel doesn't nail him on that perjury thing, like independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr did Clinton. He could use some practice on telling the truth. This week, the Washington Post proved him a liar not once but twice. Lie No. 1: You may recall that Trump deniedthrough his lawyersany knowledge of the meeting his son, Donald Jr., took in June 2016 with Russians at Trump Tower. But then the Post reported that Trump dictated Junior's original public statement that the meeting was primarily about adoption. Lie No. 2: Remember how Trump tweeted back in February that, contrary to the reporting from the "FAKE NEWS media" (specifically the Washington Post), he had enjoyed a "very civil conversation" on the phone with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull? Another whopper, as this Post published this week transcripts of the Trump-Turnbull conversation that proved the call was just as uncivil as the Post previously reported.

Like a carnival come to town, Mueller's grand jury performance promises high entertainment value over the 12-to-24 months some expect in to run. Expect representatives from Trump White House to storm the cable news studios to heckle, browbeat and insult Mueller with the same vehemence that Clinton's loyalists dealt Starr. Expect four or five journalists to come out of the investigation with big book contracts. Since the jurors and prosecutors are sworn to silence, expect most of the noise about the investigation to come from the witnesses and their lawyers, who bear no legal obligation to keep mum. Expect journalists to case the federal courthouse looking for arriving witnesseskeeping an eye on the back doors for sneak entrancesin hopes of divining Mueller's direction.

And expect Mueller to deliver something big. Very big. This is, after all, his last great hunt.


As we continue the search for a name for the no-name scandal, some of the entries are turning silly. Here are this week's "best" contributions, send yours to Lenin' on the Edge (Silas York), Wash Reince and spin (John Willoughby), Russian for Cover (Peter Kelly-Detwiler), Lyin' King (Bobbogram), Donald Trump Hocus POTUS (Douglas Hutchison), Trump Tower Sus-PENCE (Douglas Hutchison), Trump's Magnificent Putin Ob-SESSION (Douglas Hutchison), The Art of the Squeal (Lenai Boye), Samovar Dogs (Alex Khachaturian), and "Drag-Nyet (Alex Khachaturian). My email alerts will take the Fifth. My Twitter feed will implicate my email alerts. My RSS feed will leave the country.

Jack Shafer is Politicos senior media writer.

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Week 11: Gone Fishing for Donald Trump - Politico

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Donald Trump has a sickening fetish for cruelty – USA TODAY

Posted: at 3:40 am

Christian Schneider, Opinion columnist Published 3:06 p.m. ET Aug. 5, 2017

President-elect Trump and Mitt Romney on Nov. 29, 2016.(Photo: Drew Angerer, Getty Images)

It isn't very often that the public gets to see a man's soul die inside his body. To see his dignity immolated. His manhood ripped from his bones.

And to have it captured all in one picture. Oh, the picture.

Late last November, President-elect Donald Trump and former Republican nominee Mitt Romney settled into a four-course dinner at New York's Jean-Georges restaurant, dining on frog legs and diver scallops. Over the previous year, Romney had been bitterly critical of Trump, calling him "con man" and "a fraud" yet upon winning, Trump dangled the possibility of naming Romney to the position of Secretary of State, leading to what would soon become Romney's Last Supper.

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In a chilling photograph of the dinner, Romney has turned to the camera with the look of a man that would much prefer to be dining with the Grim Reaper. As Trump glowers at the camera with a mischievous grin, Romney's eyes yearn for a foregone era when he stood in resistance to the vulgarian-in-chief; a time before he was made to kiss the ring in exchange for serving his country as secretary of state. The only thing missing from the photo is a Sarah McLachlan song playing in the background and a phone number to call to stop the abuse.

Of course, two weeks later, Trump picked oil executive Rex Tillerson to be his secretary of state, ending Romney's parade of public humiliation. But Trump got exactly what he wanted after the dinner, Romney told reporters that Trump "continues with a message of inclusion and bringing people together," and that his "vision is something which obviously connected with the American people in a very powerful way. Romney became another well-coiffed head for Trump's trophy case.

It wasn't the first time Trump stripped a conquered foe naked and paraded him in the public square, Game of Thrones-style. (And just like the citizens of Westeros, the #MAGA crowd evidently has plenty of time to take off work to spit and yell "shame" at Trump's vanquished opponents.)

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Who can forget Trump holding an enormous umbrella and yet still forcing sycophantic Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey to walk in the pouring rain? Or Trump mocking Christie to his face as he forced Christie to stand behind him on stage like a hostage?

One can even forgive the American public being "Little Marco'ed," "Lyin' Ted'ed" and "Crooked Hillary'ed" to exhaustion during the election. This is something entirely new Trump clearly is a sadist who enjoys humiliating his opponents after he has already won.

Simply ask the third participant in the November dinner, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. After months of harming his own reputation defending Trump's indefensible actions, Priebus was not only pushed out, but done so in the most embarrassing way possible. As if to emphasize Priebus' "weakness," Trump brought in tough guy flesh-and-bone absurdity Anthony Scaramucci to show Priebus the door. Then "The Mooch" was dumped himself days later in his own whirlpool of humiliation.

Or ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Trump shreds on a daily basis because the president doesn't have the stomach to fire him. Or former FBI director James Comey, whose decision to decline Trump's request for a "loyalty pledge" led to a firing surgically engineered to ruin Comey's name.

These are not the actions of a well-adjusted person. Trump clearly has a maudlin fetish for cruelty given his pattern of humiliating both friend and foe, the president's brain is occupied with little else than Electoral College results and revenge fantasies. Trump is basically a 71-year old kid cackling in delight as he melts ants under his magnifying glass. Only these ants are attorneys general, senators, FBI directors and governors.

Naturally, Trump's supporters think toying with peoples' dignity is a show of strength but it is the exact opposite. He's a weak leader who wastes what little political capital he has settling personal scores. With apologies to Winston Churchill, Trump remains an immodest man with much to be modest about.

And it's just a matter of time before he's under Vladimir Putin's magnifying glass.

Christian Schneideris a member ofUSA TODAY's Board of Contributors and a columnist for theMilwaukee Journal Sentinel, where this piece wasfirst published. Follow him on Twitter@Schneider_CM

You can readdiverse opinions from ourBoard of Contributorsand other writers ontheOpinion front page,on Twitter@USATOpinionand in our dailyOpinion newsletter.To submit a letter, comment or column, check oursubmission guidelines.

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Donald Trump has a sickening fetish for cruelty - USA TODAY

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Donald Trump: A 71-Year-Old Man Who Needs a Military General to Manage His Twitter Use – Newsweek

Posted: at 3:40 am

John Kelly is a former United States Marine Corps general who has had multiple deployments in the battlefields of Iraq. However, he may have just embarked on his toughest assignment yet: controlling the Twitter habits and impulsive decision-making of a 71-year-old man.

Related:President Trump Has the Work Ethic of a Bored, Lazy Child

Formerly the secretary of Homeland Security, last week Kelly was appointed asPresident Donald Trump's new chief of staff, replacing Reince Priebus. But any notion that this might be a comfortable posting for a man more familiar with war zones than war rooms was quickly dispelled, according to Leon Panetta, a chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and a friend of Kellys who has spoken with him this week.

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He knows the problems. He knows how difficult its going to be, Panetta told The Washington Post Friday. Its like being dropped into the middle of a combat zone.

According to the Post, one major problem Kelly has identified as being in need of fixing is the way Trump makes decisions on important issues. Kelly has already assumed control of managing the paperwork and advice that reaches Trumps desk.

resident Donald Trump shakes hands with John Kelly after he was sworn in as White House Chief of Staff in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., July 31, 2017. Joshua Roberts/Reuters

The way Trump consumes advice and intelligence is a stark departure from previous incumbents of the Oval Office. Hampered by the presidents notoriously short attention span, National Security Council officials have resorted to tactics such as inserting Trumps name into as many paragraphs as possible because reading his own name is one way to maintain his interest.

Trump is said to favor an Oval Office with open access to the president, which has led to fierce competition from aides to get their desired information to the president. Kelly is not the first to try to control that flow. Priebus was long fighting that battle before he was ousted last month.

And then there is the cable news addiction. Television and particularly Fox News is a major source of Trumps information, often directly seen when he tweets out claims or arguments that only minutes later were raised on his network of choice.

That brings us to perhaps Kellys toughest job yet: controlling Trumps tweets. Trump has long lauded his Twitter use as being key to his outsider victory in last years election and regularly boasts about his number of followers. According to a Politico report Friday, he also marvels at how quickly his tweets appear on television after he hits the send button.

Trump often tweets early in the morning or late at night, with little or no consultation with his advisers beforehand. Such habits have long been discouraged by his legal advisers, among others, regarding an ongoing investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia. Indeed, his Twitter use was cited by multiple law firms as a major reason why they turned down an offer to represent the president.

Another example was his recent announcement of a transgender military ban, which caught the military, among others, off guard. Kelly, reports Politico, sees one of his major tasks as pushing his tweets in the right direction, although he has already given up the idea of preventing him from tweeting.

You can't have a president who gets up at 5 a.m. and tweets policy, Panetta told Politico. The best thing would be if the president stopped tweeting, but thats not going to happen.

But perhaps Kelly can succeed where others have failed. Since the days of his campaign, Trump has shown himself to respect generals above perhaps all others and has continued to surround himself with senior military officers since moving into the White House. If General Kelly cant rein in the president perhaps nobody can.

John is the kind of guy who will look you in the eye and tell you what the hell he is thinking, Panetta told The New York Times. The real question is whether the president will give him the authority he needs to do the job.

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Donald Trump: A 71-Year-Old Man Who Needs a Military General to Manage His Twitter Use - Newsweek

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Donald Trump is going on a 17-day vacation. Who cares? Except… – CNN

Posted: at 3:40 am

Presidential vacations and getaways

President Donald Trump listens to a high school marching band as he arrives at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, in February 2017. He and the first lady were spending a weekend away from the White House. Here's a look at how Trump and other US presidents have escaped the pressures of the Oval Office.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President Barack Obama prepares to putt as he plays golf with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at the Marine Corps Base in Hawaii in December 2014.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President George W. Bush rides a bicycle at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, in August 2007.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President-elect Bill Clinton plays volleyball on a Pacific Coast beach in November 1992.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President George H.W. Bush pauses to speak to the media while he plays golf in Kennebunkport, Maine, in August 1990.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan ride horses at their vacation home in Santa Barbara, California, in November 1982.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President-elect Jimmy Carter vacations at St. Simons, an island off the coast of Georgia, in November 1976.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President Gerald Ford opens a gift from his wife, Betty, during their usual Christmas vacation spot in Vail, Colorado, in December 1974.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President Richard Nixon and his wife, Pat, walk along the beach in San Clemente, California, in 1971.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird, often vacationed at the LBJ Ranch in Johnson City, Texas.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President John F. Kennedy vacations with his family in this undated photo. From left is daughter Caroline, first lady Jacqueline and son John Jr.

Presidential vacations and getaways

In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower fishes the North Platte River at the Swan Hereford Ranch in Colorado. Eisenhower also enjoyed golf trips to Augusta, Georgia.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President Harry Truman holds a news conference during a vacation in 1951.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President Franklin D. Roosevelt swims in Warm Springs, Georgia.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President Herbert Hoover and his wife, Lou Henry, sit on the porch of their Radipan Camp retreat, which is now part of the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Hoover originally bought the land for the vacation spot in 1929.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President Calvin Coolidge poses in personalized chaps with his wife, Grace, at a party in South Dakota in 1927. The party celebrated the Fourth of July as well as Coolidge's 55th birthday.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President Warren Harding, right, goes camping with Firestone Tire founder Harvey Firestone in 1921.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President William H. Taft, center, enjoys a round of golf at the Chevy Chase Country Club in Maryland in 1909.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President Theodore Roosevelt's Sagamore Hill home, in Oyster Bay, New York, often served as his vacation retreat.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President Ulysses Grant enjoys the porch of his cottage by the sea in Elberon, New Jersey, in 1872.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President Abraham Lincoln's summer retreat was just a few miles from the White House, and he used to commute between the two on horseback. Now known as the Lincoln Cottage, it features a life-size statue of the 16th president.

Presidential vacations and getaways

President Thomas Jefferson liked to spend time at Monticello, his home in Virginia. In 1805, he spent nearly four months there while in office.


Donald Trump is going on a 17-day vacation. Who cares? Except... - CNN

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Jeff Sessions: Active Leak Probes Have Tripled Under Donald Trump – TIME

Posted: at 3:40 am

(WASHINGTON) Attorney General Jeff Sessions has pledged to clamp down on government leaks that he said undermine American security, taking an aggressive public stand after being called weak on the matter by President Donald Trump.

The nation's top law enforcement official is citing no current investigations in which disclosures of information had jeopardized the country, but says the number of criminal leak probes had more than tripled in the early months of the Trump administration.

Justice Department officials are reviewing guidelines put in place to make it difficult for the government to subpoena journalists about their sources, and aren't ruling out the possibility that a reporter could be prosecuted.

"No one is entitled to surreptitiously fight to advance their battles in the media by revealing sensitive government information," Sessions said Friday in an announcement that followed a series of news reports this year on the Trump campaign and White House that have relied on classified information. "No government can be effective when its leaders cannot discuss sensitive matters in confidence or talk freely in confidence with foreign leaders."

Media advocacy organizations condemned the announcement, with Bruce Brown, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, saying the decision to review existing guidelines was "deeply troubling."

Meanwhile, a White House adviser raised the possibility of lie detector tests for the small number of people in the West Wing and elsewhere with access to transcripts of Trump's phone calls. The Washington Post on Thursday published transcripts of his conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia.

Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway told "Fox & Friends" that "it's easier to figure out who's leaking than the leakers may realize." And might lie detectors be used? She said: "Well, they may, they may not."

Trump's outbursts against media organizations he derides as "fake news" have led to predictions that his administration will more aggressively try to root out leakers, and the timing of the Justice Department's announcement one week after the president complained on Twitter that Sessions had been weak on "intel leakers" raised questions about whether the attorney general's action was aimed at quelling the anger of the man who appointed him.

Sessions said in his remarks that his department has more than tripled the number of active leaks investigations compared with the number pending when President Barack Obama left office, and the number of referrals to the Justice Department for potential investigation of unauthorized disclosures had "exploded." The Justice Department under Sessions is prosecuting a contractor in Georgia accused of leaking a classified government report to a media organization.

"This nation must end this culture of leaks. We will investigate and seek to bring criminals to justice. We will not allow rogue anonymous sources with security clearances to sell out our country," Sessions said in his remarks.

Media organizations also had an often-tense relationship with the Obama administration, whose Justice Department brought more leaks cases than during all previous administrations combined and was criticized for maneuvers seen as needlessly aggressive and intrusive.

That included a secret subpoena of phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors following a 2012 story about a foiled bomb plot, and the labeling of a Fox News journalist as a "co-conspirator" after a report on North Korea. The Justice Department also abandoned a yearslong effort to force a New York Times journalist to reveal his source in the trial of a former CIA officer who was later found guilty of disclosing classified information.

Following consultation with media lawyers, the Justice Department in 2015 revised its guidelines for leak investigations to require additional levels of approval before a reporter could be subpoenaed, including from the attorney general.

But Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Friday that they were reviewing how the department conducts leak investigations and whether current regulations impose too many hurdles on their work. Rosenstein declined to comment when asked whether the department would rule out prosecuting journalists.

Rosenstein said the department expected to consult with media representatives about possible changes to the regulations, though any efforts to undo protections for journalists or to make it easier to target sources will encounter deep opposition from news organizations.

"The current guidelines reflect a great deal of good-faith discussion between the news media and a wide range of interests from within the Department of Justice, including career prosecutors and key nonpolitical personnel," said Brown, of the press freedom group. "They carefully balance the need to enforce the law and protect national security with the value of a free press that can hold the government accountable to the people."

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The president’s conversation with Malcolm Turnbull offers a troubling window into his mind. – National Review

Posted: at 3:40 am

Im the worlds greatest person that does not want to let people into their country.

So proclaimed Donald Trump to Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in a January phone call, according a transcript published Thursday by the Washington Post. Presumably, he meant that he was the most recognizable immigration restrictionist in the world, although he may also have been complimenting his own virtue, crowning himself a great man of history on the strength of his restrictionism.

What is so striking about Trumps language is that it shows his own view of his authority and of his policymaking to be more royalist than republican. Law and order itself? That is nothing, compared to protecting the sovereigns image and obeying his personal wishes.

The contrast between these two men was also enlightening. Turnbull acknowledges the political realities confronting Trump, but speaks of the majesty of the law itself, not the ruler. He tries to explain how Australias consistent pattern of immigration enforcement accomplishes two things at once: 1) It insulates Australian immigration law from the pressure that such laws always face when facts on the ground make a mockery of them; and 2) It has a humanitarian benefit for potential migrants because it discourages the unscrupulous human smugglers who rush in to take advantage of the market opportunity that lax enforcement creates. Its a policy with a logic that Turnbull and other Australians have been saying will eventually become obvious to Europe as it continues to struggle with its own migration crisis.

So we said if you try to come to Australia by boat, Turnbull explained to Trump, even if we think you are the best person in the world, even if you are a Noble [sic] Prize winning genius, we will not let you in. He then tried to return to the point that this discourages people-smugglers, only to be interrupted by Trump, speaking with what the reader can only imagine must have been a note of admiration in his voice: Thats a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am.

In these words are a whole worldview.

This is the backhanded way that Trump talks about his own position on immigration. He practically admits that he does not think his own policy is good or just in its own right. In fact, he comes close to letting on that he thinks it is immoral.

Perhaps he believes that being a restrictionist is necessary all the same. Sometimes, a king has to greet lawlessness with mercy; other times, he has to show strength. It can depend on the sovereigns mood or on what is most expedient in a given moment. Trump is simply being tough. Hes misbehaving himself, but in the national interest. He looks up to Turnbull, because Turnbull has managed to be an even worse guy than he has.

It must be a burden for Trumps counterparts across the world to deal with his overly familiar and overly personal form of diplomacy. Turnbull tries to talk Trump down, noting that the agreement they are discussing essentially a swap of refugees between our two countries is already in place, implying that any trouble that came from their conversation could be blamed on the Obama administration. Trump says the deal to accept migrants is bad for his image. As if Australia were just one more television studios makeup room, and its head of state responsible for keeping the shine off Trumps chin.

Whatever his faults, President Obama never commented on his personal relationships with foreign leaders in real time. He soberly reflected on the shared interests between one nation, which he represented, and another, which his counterpart did. By contrast, Trump says he gets along with leaders as individuals, or has a great relationship with them.

You are in Trumps graces, or you are out of his graces. One week, China is trying to help with North Korea, and Beijing gets a kind tweet. A few weeks later, North Korea fires a few missiles into the Sea of Japan, and Beijing gets an unkind tweet.

The people who held their noses and voted for Trump in the hopes that he would bring sanity to American immigration policy should have new doubts after reading the Posts transcriptabout whether he has the stamina or strength of will to see the job through. If there was no real principle behind Trumps restrictionism if he was just telling his voters what they wanted to hear during the campaign then he is just as likely to abandon the position as hold onto it in the future.

We all know he is capable of turning on a dime. Even in the campaign, he went from saying that Mexico was sending bad hombres our way to whining that he had to hire foreign workers because America was too hot for Americans to work in during the busy season at his Florida hotels. If anything is clear about the man at this late date, its that no stance is truly non-negotiable.

Everyone acknowledges that Trump is a wildcard. He may believe hes a king, and act like it. But look again: Hes actually a Joker.

READ MORE: A Leak That Really Hurts Trump: The Series the Comedy We Want Invites the Tragedies We Dont Trumps Circular Firing Squad

Michael Brendan Dougherty is a senior writer at National Review.

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The president's conversation with Malcolm Turnbull offers a troubling window into his mind. - National Review

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Donald Trump Notifies UN of Paris Exit While Keeping Option to Return – TIME

Posted: at 3:40 am

The Trump administration began the formal process to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, but says its willing to "re-engage" if terms more favorable to the U.S. are met.

The State Department said it notified the United Nations that the U.S. will pull out of the global agreement as soon as it can under the terms of the 2015 accord, but President Donald Trump would agree to remain in the deal was reconfigured to be better for U.S. interests.

As the President indicated in his June 1 announcement and subsequently, he is open to re-engaging in the Paris Agreement if the U.S. can identify terms that are more favorable to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, and its taxpayers, the State Department said.

The U.S. will continue to participate in international climate negotiations, including the upcoming UN meeting on climate change "to protect U.S. interests and ensure all future policy options remain open to the administration."

The filing by the State Department kicks off a withdrawal process that will take years to unfold and is largely symbolic. Under terms of the deal, the earliest the U.S. can formally remove itself from the accord is in November 2020 -- just after the next presidential election.

The Secretary General welcomes any effort to reengage in the Paris agreement by the United States, said Stphane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antnio Guterres.

Trump announced in June that the U.S. would leave the Paris climate pact, saying it favors other nations at the expense of American workers, but remained open to seeking a better deal. That stance drew umbrage from world leaders, including those from France, Germany and Italy who have called the agreement "irreversible."

"We firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated, since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies," they said in a statement then.

Observers said they doubted the administration truly intended to renegotiate the climate deal.

"This reckless move by President Trump demonstrates that he has no real intent to renegotiate the Paris climate agreement, and would rather walk back from our international climate commitments altogether," Oxfam Americas Climate and Energy Director Heather Coleman said in a statement.

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Donald Trump Notifies UN of Paris Exit While Keeping Option to Return - TIME

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Donald Trump Is A Terrible President, According To His Own Tweets About Obama – Newsweek

Posted: July 29, 2017 at 7:41 pm

Donald Trump is a terrible president, and one of his own worst criticsat least, according to his own analysis of former President Barack Obama.

If Obama-era Donald Trump could offer his criticisms on the current White House administration, beleaguered by internal disorder and a stalled agenda, via some sort of Twitter time machinethey probably wouldnt sound toopretty.

That historic version of thecommander-in-chief would decry his own excuses for being unable to pass any major legislation in six months, saying its "BS since he had full control"in both Houses; just as he said about Obama.

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If somehow possible, 2012-Trump would slam 2017-Trump for his series of controversies following the G7 summit in Sicily, when he pulled out of the Paris Climate Accordand the G20 in Germany, when he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and discussed creating a cybersecurity group after his nation meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump "is a disaster at foreign policy,"hed likely say, as he did in September 2012. "Never had the experience or knowledge. He is not capable of doing the job."

"We pay for his golf,"hed complain.

When looking through the presidents tweets from days past, his views on the Obama White House and all of Washingtons flaws seem to foreshadow the exact problems hed soon face after assuming the Oval Office. Its as if a distant, previous Donald Trump is echoing through the Twittersphere, begging the new president to heed his own advice through the constant rebukes and rejection of then-President Obama.

Call it the theory of "Trumpodynamics, as some users have coined it: for every action he takes as president, there is an equal and opposite Trump tweet disagreeing with it.

Trump, the first president in over 40 years who hasnt released his tax returns, used to rail on Obama as "the least transparent presidentever."

Imagine what that Trump must think of the man now seated at the Resolute Desk.

Hed attack todays Trump for "constantly issuing executive orders that are major power grabs of authority,"as he did to Obama in July 2012 when the president signed an order on federal communications during national security and emergency preparedness.

In his first 100 days as the leader of the free world, Trump set a record for the most executive orders ever signed into law since World War Two.

His contradictions in shooting down Obama to his own time in office run the gamut.He apparently no longer believes the president needs to hold China accountable for currency manipulation (Trump hasstated as president that China does not manipulate its currency after tweeting that it does for years),to whether a leader should focus on governing, instead of campaign rallies and huge speeches in states he won a majority of the vote.

And when it comes to vacation time, pre-election Trump sold Americans the biggest dream of all in his tunnel-vision focus on Obama's travels.

It's virtually impossible to keep up with Trumps opinions on any number of issues, as the president is fluid in his stances on matters ranging from national topics like LGBT workplace protections to global policy concerns, including NATO. But the vast majority of his pre-White House tweets all seem to agree with one thing: by Trump's standards, his own presidency is failing.

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Donald Trump Hints at Ending Subsidy That Gives Health Care to the Poor – Fortune

Posted: at 7:41 pm

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. President Donald Trump (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)Win McNamee Getty Images

President Donald Trump hinted that he may end a key Affordable Care Act subsidy that makes insurance accessible to poorer Americans, a move that may critically destabilize health-insurance exchanges.

The administration has previously floated the idea to halt subsidies that help insurers offset health-care costs for low-income Americans, called a cost-sharing reduction, or CSR. In a tweet on Saturday, Trump hinted at ending that program.

If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon! the president said in a tweet on Saturday.

It was unclear if Trumps message means he also plans to directly target subsidies that are available to health insurance policies for some Congressional staff members. The White House declined to comment further on Trumps tweet.

A months-long effort by Senate Republicans to pass health-care legislation collapsed early Friday after Republican John McCain of Arizona joined two of his colleagues to block a stripped-down Obamacare repeal bill. McCains no vote came after weeks of brinkmanship and after his dramatic return from cancer treatment to cast the 50th vote to start debate on the bill earlier in the week. The skinny repeal bill was defeated 49-51, falling just short of the 50 votes needed to advance it. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska also voted against it.

For more on the efforts to repeal the ACA, click here.

Ending the CSR subsidies, paid monthly to insurers, is one way that Trump could hasten Obamacares demise without legislation, by prompting more companies to raise premiums in the individual market or stop offering coverage. The administration last made a payment about a week ago for the previous 30 days, but hasnt made a long-term commitment.

Responding on Twitter, Andrew Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Obama administration, said the impact of cutting off subsidy payments will be felt by the middle class who will pay more to subsidize low income.

The next payments are due Aug. 21. On Friday, health-care analyst Spencer Perlman at Veda Partners LLC said in a research note that theres a 30 percent chance Trump will end CSR payments, which may immediately destabilize the exchanges, perhaps fatally.

Americas Health Insurance Plans, a lobby group for the industry, has estimated that premiums would rise by about 20 percent if the CSR payments arent made. Many insurers have already dropped out of Obamacare markets in the face of mounting losses, and blamed the uncertainty over the future of the cost-sharing subsidies and the individual mandate as one of the reasons behind this years premium increases.

Moments after the Senate voted down the Republican bill on Friday morning, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called on Democrats to offer their ideas for moving forward with health care. But he warned, Bailing out insurance companies, with no thought of any kind of reform, is not something I want to be a part of.

A survey in April by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation showed that 61 percent Americans believe Trump and Republicans are responsible for future problems with the ACA, while 31 percent said President Barack Obama and Democrats would be at fault.

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