TrumpWatch, Day 143: No UK State Visit for Trump

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US and UK officials say Trump postpones visit until he is welcomed by British public


Developments on Day 143 of the Trump Administration:

Trump’s UK State Visit Cancelled

There will be no state visit to the United Kingdom for Donald Trump in the foreseeable future.

“Two administration officials” said Trump is considering postponement or even the scrapping of a visit this year, citing the criticism of Trump’s remarks about attacks in London on June 3 that killed seven people and wounded scores.

An advisor to Prime Minister Theresa May went farther. Present in the room during a Trump phone call, the official said the President told May that he will not come until the British public welcomes him. The call put the visit “on hold for some time”, the advisor said.

Trump gave the pretext of “large-scale protests” for the postponement, but the likelihood of the state visit has been remote ever since May broached the possibility during her trip to Washington in late January, a week after Trujmp’s inauguration. The Prime Minister’s office soon backed away amid widespread criticism of Trump’s statements and policies, from his public support for torture to his denial of climate change to his “Muslim ban” on entry into the US.

Downing Street officials leaked to the media that Trump might come to Birmingham, the UK’s second city, rather than London. They then said that any trip had been pushed back from July to October.

Since then, discussion of the visit had all but disappeared. A “person familiar with the situation” said the US National Security Council and State Department were working on details but had not undertaken the usual “preadvance” trip to work out logistics.

Even this preparation was put in jeopardy by Trump’s response after three assailants ran a van into pedestrians on London Bridge and then stabbed people in nearby restaurants. Instead of offering condolences, he tried to use the deaths to justify his Muslim Ban and then turned against the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

Distorting Khan’s words to the point of falsehood, Trump tweeted:

And when both US and UK media pointed out Trump’s maneuver — Khan has said that people should not be alarmed about an increase in armed people on London streets, rather than about the attacks — the President doubled his intervention:

US officials tried to maintain an opening, saying that Trump has not “definitively ruled out going” and that he might “warm to the idea”.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied any discussion at all of a postponement: “The President has tremendous respect for Prime Minister May. That subject never came up on the call.”

May’s office also tried to brush away the development: “We aren’t going to comment on speculation about the contents of private phone conversations. The Queen extended an invitation to President Trump to visit the U.K., and there is no change to those plans.”

However, the situation has been further complicated by May’s unexpected setback in Thursday’s UK Parliamentary elections, with her Government — which had looked towards a landslide victory — failing to even hold its majority. Many analysts expect that the Prime Minister will depart within weeks, if not days, amid the prospect of another vote.

TOP PHOTO: Donald Trump holds UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s hand during her visit to White House, January 2017


Study: Older, Low-Income Americans Could Spend More Than 100% of Income on GOP Healthcare

A new analysis details the impact of older, low-income Americans of the GOP’s replacement for ObamaCare, with the elderly spending most or even more than 100% of their income on coverage.

The American Health Care Act finally passed the House of Representatives on the third attempt in early May. It is now under consideration by the Senate.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says that, in New Hampshire, a 60-year-old with an income at or below poverty ― about $12,600 in the continental US in 2019 ― would have to pay 45% of income on health insurance under ACHA.

And that’s at the low end of the scale. While the costs vary from area to area, in nearly all of the 39 states surveyed, the cost of insurance exceeds a poor person’s income for the year. In Alaska, it is 188%.

In New Hampshire, a 60-year-old with an income at half the poverty level would have to pay 90% of income on health insurance. The cost is higher in other states, with Alaska reaching 376%.

The analysis decisively rebuffs Donald Trump’s sweeping assurance that “premiums will be lower” under the ACHA. Instead, costs are propelled by elimination of Medicaid expansion, reduction of funding of the program, decreases in tax credits, and removal of consumer protections.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that 23 million people will lose health coverage under the ACHA.


Maryland & Washington DC Attorneys General to Sue Trump Over His Benefits from Foreign Governments

Attorneys general for Maryland and Washington DC will sue Donald Trump over his acceptance of millions of dollars in payments and benefits from foreign governments since he moved into the White House.

The lawsuit, the first brought by Government officials, centers on Trump’s retention of ownership of his company when he became President.

Trump said in January that he was shifting his business assets into a trust managed by his sons, Eric and Donald Jr., to eliminate potential conflicts of interest. However, DC Attorney General Karl Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh say Trump has broken promises to separate public duties from private business interests, with Eric Trump regular updating his father about his company’s financial health.

The lawsuit says this leaves Trump “deeply enmeshed with a legion of foreign and domestic government actors”:

Fundamental to a President’s fidelity to [faithfully execute his oath of office] is the Constitution’s demand that the President…disentangle his private finances from those of domestic and foreign powers. Never before has a President acted with such disregard for this constitutional prescription.

If a federal judge allows the case to proceed, Racine and Frosh say they will demand copies of Trump’s personal tax returns, which he has refused to release both as candidate and as President.

The DC and Maryland Attorneys General say Trump’s business ownership are violations of the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses in the Constitution. Passed in the late 1700s to guard against foreign countries gaining sway over the US ambassadors, the clause prohibits “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust” from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State”.

A series of lawsuits have been filed since January challenging Trump over emoluments. The Justice Department claims none of the plaintiffs have standing to sue the President. In its latest response, the Department also said Trump’s businesses are legally permitted to accept payments from foreign governments while he is in office, using arguments going back to farm produce sold abroad by George Washington.

After initially saying the Trump organization would not pursue new deals while he was in office, Trump’s sons announced last week that the company would begin building a network of new hotels in states that the candidate won in last November’s election.


Essential Reading: How Trump Sought Money from “Terrorist-Supporting” Qatar

Writing for The Huffington Post, Clayton Swisher explains how the origins of Donald Trump’s animosity towards Qatar — supporting the Saudi-led cutting of relations with and blockade of the Gulf state; denouncing Doha for supposed support of “terrorism” and “extremism”; undercutting the State Department’s efforts to ease tensions — may lie in his failed attempts to get funding from the Qataris:

Trump Says Qatar Funds Terror. Here’s His Record Of Trying To Get It To Fund Him.

In 2010, as markets were still reeling from the 2008 global economic crisis, Qatar was flush with cash and countless business executives and foreign governments came calling. Some came to get liquidity; others searching for silver linings amidst the global chaos. Trump was in the latter category, then as CEO of the Trump Organization but also as host and star of the hit domestic American reality TV show, “The Apprentice.”

Traveling with his daughter Ivanka, Trump visited Doha in 2010 for separate meetings with Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) executive board member Dr. Hussain Al-Abdullah and as well as Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani (commonly abbreviated as “HBJ”), who was then serving as foreign minister and prime minister. Neither responded to requests for comment on this article.

At the time, the pair constituted the brain trust of Qatar’s financial and investment sector. QIA is the world’s second largest sovereign wealth fund (presently estimated at having $338 billion in assets under management). Then as now, Sheikh HBJ had renown for being kingmaker of not just political deals but financial ones too. Using his business and political savvy, he has sealed deals ranging from Britain’s Harrods to Germany’s Deutsch Bank to America’s Miramax Hollywood studios.

A source close to the 2010 talks with Trump say he made the Doha stopover (along with stops in Dubai and Abu Dhabi) to raise money for a distressed real estate fund he was assembling. Trump opened the discussion with QIA by bragging about the success of Trump International and the many deals he had personally put together. Trump had hardly got through his own biography when Dr. Al-Abdullah, QIA’s senior executive, interrupted to say words to the effect of: We know who you are and what you have done. Tell us what you can do for us right now.

That single, curt interruption apparently left Trump stunned. He had expected his hosts to be impressed, if not grateful, that a person of Trump’s stature would visit the Qatari capital. Apparently distracted by the lack of decorum, Trump barely continued with his pitch. The meeting abruptly ended, according to one account, with Trump exiting the room visibly angered.

According to another, the meeting ended pleasantly and the decision not to invest in Trump was simply about Trump’s lack of track record in doing real estate funds. The same source also said any coldness to Trump was more a function of Dr. Al-Abdullah’s becoming numb to the same repetitive proposals—QIA routinely received such pitches. In the Qataris view, if not Trump’s, all that distinguished his proposal from so many others was his own celebrity status.*

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