4th extension of supplemental funding fails to clear Senate

Developments on Day 365 of the Trump Administration:

See also Podcast: Government Shutdown — How and Why It Happened, What Happens Next
Debate: A Report Card on Trump’s 1st Year

Trump: “Democrats Want Illegal Immigration and Weak Borders”

The Federal Government officially shuts down after the Trump Administration refuses to budge over a plan to protect almost 800,000 young documented immigrants, “Dreamers”, from possible deportation.

The Senate voted only 50-49 late Friday for a supplemental funding measure, the fourth since last March, to maintain Government operations. Sixty votes were required for passage, but five Republicans joined 45 of the Senate’s 49 Democrats to vote No.

The supplemental funding has been required because the Trump Administration has failed to present a Federal budget for consideration after a year in office. Any budget is likely to have large spending cuts after the GOP finally pushed through a $1.5 trillion tax cut in December.

Last September, as Democrats agreed to supplemental funding, Donald Trump agreed that he would work with them on legislation to establish the right to remain of the Dreamers.

That right, established in 2012 by an order by Barack Obama as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was threatened by the Trump Administration’s announcement that the program would end on March 5. Earlier this month a federal judge in California blocked the termination, but the Trump Administration is pursuing an appeal to the Supreme Court.

In meetings on immigration last week, Trump and hardline Republicans insisted on a series of conditions if DACA was put into law. These included full funding of The Wall on the Mexican border, an end to immigrants bringing relatives to the US, and a sharp reduction in the admission of immigrants and refugees.

The discussions were further complicated by Trump’s remarks last Thursday criticizing immigrants from “shithole countries”.

The House of Representatives tried to get around the impasse on Thursday night by restoring the Children’s Health Insurance Program, covering nine million children, which had been suspended by the Trump Administration and the GOP in September. However, its version of the supplemental funding measure made no move over the Dreamers.

Trump maintained the demands on immigration Friday morning by attacking the Democrats:

Trump hosted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer over a cheeseburger lunch to seek a resolution. Schumer agreed to higher levels for military spending and discussed the possibility of fully funding The Wall. In exchange, Trump supported establishing the rights of Dreamers.

Schumer left the White House believing he had persuaded Trump to support a three- to four-day spending extension for an agreement which would also include disaster funding and health care measures.

Trump initially sent out a positive signal, while repeating the false claim that the military will not be funded if the Government shut down:

But during the afternoon Trump backed away. First he called Schumer claiming they had agreed on a three-week spending deal, opposed by the Democrats as a delaying tactic. Later Trump told Schumer that the concessions for Democrats were not enough for a tough stance on immigration. He demanded more border security measures and a tougher crackdown on undocumented immigrants far from the border.

Last night White House Chief of Staff John Kelly ended hopes of a deal by setting out the objections to Schumer. Trump then tweeted, “Not looking good for our great Military or Safety & Security on the very dangerous Southern Border.” He insisted that Democrats “to help diminish the great success of the Tax Cuts, and what they are doing for our booming economy”.

Evan McMullin, a Republican who ran for President in 2016:

As soon as the vote was announced, the White House rolled out its plan to blame the Democrats. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pronounced:

Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown. Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans.

Schumer responded, “Every American knows the Republican Party controls the White House, the Senate, the House. It’s their job to keep the government open.”

Democrats were also hoping for a measure to secure disaster aid for Puerto Rico, much of which is without power almost four months after Hurricane Marie, and to bolster a response to the opioid crisis.

But Sanders claimed that discussions over the Dreamers are over until supplemental funding is approved:

We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators. When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform.

Trump: I’m Going to Miss My Party

One of Trump’s concerns as the shutdown loomed was that he would have to stay in Washington and miss a party at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Trump had planned to spend Saturday at the fundraiser marking his first anniversary in office. “A White House official” and “a longtime confidant” spoke of how excited he was and how he was worried that he could not go to “my party”.

The White House officially cancelled Trump’s trip to Florida on Friday afternoon. There is no word on whether he will travel today.

Report: Kushner Firms Tied to Suspicious Transactions at Deutsche Bank

The companies of Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner are being investigated for “suspicious transactions” at Deutsche Bank, according to a German business magazine.

Manager Magazin said Deutsche Bank — one of the few international institutions willing to lend large amounts to Donald Trump Sr. and a key source for Kushner’s funds — had conducted an internal investigation with “troubling” outcomes. The details have been turned over to the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, Germany’s bank regulatory agency.

The magazine did not give additional details about “suspicious monies”; however, it said the investigation is not over although it is complicated by internal technical issues.

In December, a German newspaper reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed documents from Deutsche Bank. In late December, the New York Times said the US Attorney in Brooklyn has subpoenaed the German bank for information relating to Kushner.

Deutsche Bank loaned Kushner’s real estate company $285 million for a renovation of a building on Times Square in New York City, and Kushner faces a $1.2 billion mortgage payment in early 2019.

The White House advisor reportedly also sought loans for the project from Arab States and China, and it may have been a subject in his December 2016 meeting with Sergey Gorkov, the head of a Russian State bank.

Russia-Linked & Alt-Right Accounts Push Campaign to Undermine FBI

Russian-linked and alt-right social media are pressing a campaign to undermine the FBI and the Trump-Russia investigation, promoting a memorandum written by the pro-Trump chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes.

Some GOP lawmakers are calling on the committee to release a Nunes memo alleging inappropriate surveillance of the Trump transition.

Russian-linked Twitter “bots” helped push #ReleaseTheMemo to the top of Trending list.

The frequency with which the accounts promoted the hashtag spiked by 233,000% in 48 hours, according to Hamilton 68, a monitor of Russian propaganda in near-real time. the site. The accounts’ references to the “memo” have increased by 68,000%.

The most-shared domain among the accounts is WikiLeaks, and the most-shared URL has been a link to WikiLeaks’ “submit” page.

WikiLeaks said on Thursday that it would reward anyone with access to the “FISA abuse memo” — a reference to the top-secret court under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — who submits it to the site.

In July 2016, the FBI approached the FISA court for surveillance of Russian officials and entities as it investigated Moscow’s interference in the Presidential campaign and hacking of computers linked to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The warrant was finally granted in October.

There is no evidence that FISA procedures were violated but Nunes is an ally of the White House who has spent almost a year trying to suppress the Trump-Russia investigation or divert it away from Trump.

Last March Nunes had to recuse himself from chairing the committee inquiry because of his contacts with the White House; however, he has defied the recusal to press for investigation of the FBI and the private intelligence firm Fusion GPS, which compiled a dossier of contacts in 2016 between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Report: Trump Lawyer Formed Private Company to Pay Off Porn Star Over Sex with Donald

Weeks before the 2016 eleciton, Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen formed a private company to pay a porn star to keep silent about her sexual encounter with Trump, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Trump had sex with Stephanie Clifford, whose screen name is Stormy Daniels, in July 2006 after a celebrity golf tournament in Nevada.

Trump had married his third wife Melania in January 2005. Their son Barron was born in March 2006.

Clifford gave an interview in 2011 about the affair, passing a polygraph test over the details. She was in negotiations with several media outlets in October 2016, following revelations of Trump’s sexual harassment of women and his bragging about that harassment on a 2005 video. But she broke off the talks days before the election.

Cohen formed the company, Essential Consultants LLC, to pay Clifford $130,000, according to the Journal. It cited “corporate records and people familiar with the matter”.

The company was created in Delaware, which offers greater privacy to business owners.

The Journal first reported the Trump-Clifford encounter last week. At the time, Cohen denied it had taken place and produced a letter, supposedly from Clifford, which also said there was no sexual encounter.