donald trump

The Unraveling of the Trump Era   33%

As president, Donald Trump wasn’t known for his mastery of the federal regulatory process. The “Muslim ban” is perhaps the most famous example of a Trump policy that was enacted hastily, challenged repeatedly, and ultimately undone by his successor; others, like his attempted changes to the census, methane emissions, and payday lending, fell flat for similar reasons.

Trump’s failures to permanently change government policy were remarkably diverse. Even when his administration pursued classically Republican agenda items, such as cutting food stamps, and had lots of outside help from conservative advocacy groups, it ran into trouble. For a time, the Trump administration did significantly change the way food stamps worked. But in that realm, too, few of Trump’s changes stuck: Some were struck down by courts, and others were reversed by the Biden administration.

The Trump administration seems to have fundamentally underestimated the difficulty of changing U.S. government policy: As of April, out of the 259 regulations, guidance documents, and agency memoranda it issued that were challenged in court, 200, or 77 percent, were unsuccessful, according to a tracker from the Institute for Policy Integrity, a think tank at New York University that researches regulatory policy. A typical administration loses more like 30 percent of the time, the group says. (Though it is nonpartisan, the institute submitted critical comments and briefs on the Trump Department of Agriculture’s rules.)

Part of the reason so many of Trump’s changes were short-lived is simply that he was a one-term president. It’s easier for your successor to reverse your policies if they have only a few years to set in. But that doesn’t explain the huge number of times his regulations were struck down by courts. Trump’s team fell short because it often made mistakes in the nitty-gritty work of rule-making, experts told me. That might come as a relief to Democrats, but it’s actually a warning: All it will take is someone with the same priorities as Trump, but better discipline, to reshape the way the government works.

The food-stamp saga highlights Trump’s rule-making foibles. The Department of Agriculture controls the food-stamp program, otherwise known as SNAP, which provides free food to 38 million mostly poor Americans. Almost as soon as Trump was elected, the department, led by former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, set about tightening eligibility for the program.

Through a Freedom of Information Act request, I received emails that showed how Trump administration officials worked with conservative groups to reform SNAP. Perdue had help from an organization called the Foundation for Government Accountability, a Florida-based think tank that, broadly, wants Americans to get off government benefits and get back to work. On his biography page on FGA’s website, the founder Tarren Bragdon writes that he wants “more Americans to experience the freedom that work brings.”

Bragdon has long wanted to “ensure that people don’t remain in poverty, that they get back to work and on the path to the American dream,” he told me. Trump’s election presented the perfect opportunity to pursue those goals, and luckily, Trump’s USDA seemed extremely open to his group’s suggestions. Throughout the Trump years, FGA sent the agency research that advocated for tightening limits on food stamps and encouraging work requirements. Brandon Lipps, a former Republican congressional staffer Trump had picked as the acting head of the Food and Nutrition Service, had several meetings with FGA to discuss work requirements. Agency staff outlined FGA memos for their bosses. Robin Walker, FGA’s director of federal affairs, emailed Lipps and his colleagues in Washington, asking to drop off a document “for your review.”

Administration officials seemed to understand themselves to be working hand-in-glove with the outside group. In December 2017, Kailee Tkacz, one of the department’s policy advisers, sent USDA ​​Chief of Staff Heidi Green an email calling FGA “one of our conservative allies” and letting Green know that FGA had sent out a “complementary press release” about the agency’s approval of a waiver in Arizona, apparently one limiting the number of replacement food-stamp cards for recipients. In 2018, when Walker emailed another positive FGA press release to Lipps and Tkacz, Tkacz wrote back, “Thanks Robin and team we always appreciate the support from you!” Lipps wrote to Walker that an FGA op-ed had been “well written,” and later requested a meeting “to get briefed on what you are sharing with the Hill.”

All sorts of outside groups pressure bureaucrats to make rules friendlier to their interests, of course. Lipps told me that he’d had an open-door policy, and that he’d met with lots of different organizations, including more left-leaning ones, such as Feeding America. He took some suggestions from these groups, he said, and he ignored others.

But to some, FGA’s involvement was a sign of trouble. The Trump administration “simply didn’t have the type of personnel that knew how government works,” says Amit Narang, an expert on federal regulatory process at the consumer-rights organization Public Citizen. “It just felt like ideologues. These people came in, and they’re just like, ‘Who does the policy in this space?’ and they went straight for the most radical think tanks.”

FGA got much of what it wanted—at least initially. In 2019, the USDA proposed tightening eligibility rules that had made it easier for slightly less poor Americans to qualify for food stamps. Later that year, the agency issued a rule that would have limited the circumstances under which adults without children could qualify for more than three months of food stamps in three years. After the pandemic began, the Trump administration decided that if a person was already receiving the maximum SNAP benefit, he or she was not eligible for additional emergency benefits. All the proposals pointed in the same general direction: Cut the number of people on food stamps in hopes of getting them back into the workforce and saving the government money.

But few of these changes lasted. In October 2020, a judge struck down the rule that would have kicked an estimated 700,000 able-bodied adults without dependents off the program. “The agency has been icily silent about how many [recipients] would have been denied SNAP benefits had the changes sought in the Final Rule been in effect while the pandemic rapidly spread across the country,” Judge Beryl A. Howell wrote in a scathing opinion.

This past spring, the Biden administration withdrew the eligibility-rules proposal, which could have removed 3 million people from the program, and settled a lawsuit about the emergency benefits, essentially allowing people to access the funds. (Lipps noted that other rules his team wrote held up.) A few months after Joe Biden took office, he increased food-stamp benefits for 25 million people.

Trump’s agencies wrote fewer rules than past administrations, including other Republican ones, says Susan Yackee, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin who focuses on rule-making. Although many controversial regulations wind up in court, agencies typically win those cases, she told me. Here, too, the Trump administration was an outlier: It lost a lot.

The rule process is specific, technical, and tedious, which did not exactly fit Trump’s style. Some experts say Trump’s agencies wrote their rules carelessly, failing to provide good explanations for what they were doing. “​​You do have to explain why you’re making the change you’re making and give some good reasons for it. And you have to respond to criticism from the public,” Jack Lienke, the regulatory-policy director of the Institute for Policy Integrity, told me. “And the Trump administration often didn’t do that.” At this, Lienke let out a little laugh, as though amazed anyone could be so foolish as to not follow proper regulatory procedure.

The Trump administration did not like to acknowledge the negative consequences of its decisions, Lienke said. For example, its eligibility-rules proposal didn’t include a discussion of the regulation’s impact on free school lunches, according to a letter to Secretary Perdue from Representative Bobby Scott, a Democrat from Virginia. Other agencies had a tendency to leave unfavorable data out of their proposals, shielding the public from their true impact.

The USDA didn’t cite many benefits to removing people from the food-stamp program. “They would say, ‘Well, the government will save this many millions of dollars,’” Lienke said. “But that can’t be the reason for the policy change, because the best way to save the government money would be to just stop providing SNAP benefits at all.”

Lipps disagrees with Lienke’s critique. The Trump-era rules, he noted, were written by career staff, he said—lifelong bureaucrats, not political appointees. They were well thought out and well drafted. Cutting food-stamp waste is important, he said, because it bolsters Americans’ confidence in the program. A millionaire has reportedly collected food stamps. That’s the kind of thing that “makes so many Americans say that program’s just full of waste, fraud, and abuse,” he said.

As is typical for political appointees, Lipps and Tkacz resigned when Biden was elected. Lipps now runs his own consulting firm, and Tkacz became president of the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils, “advocating on behalf of refiners who produce 95 percent of domestic edible fats and oils.” (She did not return requests for comment.)

Bragdon, too, is taking a break from the D.C. bureaucracy. “We were happy with what we were able to accomplish during Trump and not surprised that the Biden administration moved in another direction,” Bragdon told me. He said he hasn’t worked as much with the Biden USDA as he had with Trump’s. “It doesn’t seem like, based on their policy priorities, they’re very interested.” Like many conservative groups, FGA is now pivoting to the states, trying to find governors who might be more receptive to its ideas.

To Democrats, this all might look as though the system worked. Trump tried to do something and courts stepped in, thwarting him. But this might not be the last attempt to slash the number of Americans on government benefits. “The Republican Party seems to be in the thrall of President Trump right now,” says Jeffrey S. Lubbers, an administrative-law professor at American University. “If the Republicans win in 2024, I would think the nominee is going to be somebody who would want to start trying to put back in place some of the Trump things that have gotten struck down during the Biden administration.” Liberal lovers of regulatory procedure might find themselves torn: unsure whether to hope that the next Republican president will be someone who is good at rule-making or blessedly bad at it.

Agency: Trump is due $1M tax refund for Chicago skyscraper  

An Illinois tax agency has ruled that former President Donald Trump is due a $1 million refund on the 2011 tax bill on his downtown Chicago skyscraper, but local officials are trying to block the refund

Trump tries to defend just say the election was corrupt demand   -50%

Donald Trump insisted on Saturday that when he told senior justice department officials to “Just say that the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me”, he was not attempting to subvert US democracy, but to “uphold the integrity and honesty of elections and the sanctity of our vote”.

Related: IRS must turn over Trump tax returns to Congress, DoJ says

Continue reading...

Rudy Giuliani says I committed no crime while working for Trump  

  • Former New York mayor makes unprompted assertion to NBC
  • Giuliani under federal investigation over dealings in Ukraine

Rudy Giuliani, under federal investigation over his dealings in Ukraine, has insisted he committed no crime while working as Donald Trump’s personal attorney.

Related: Trump tries to defend ‘just say the election was corrupt’ demand

Continue reading...

Trump raises millions online even as damaging details emerge   55%

Donald Trump remains the party’s most popular politician, though he has not yet said if he will run for president again in the 2024 election.

Bleach and insurrection: The endgame of a beaten president   20%

Two accounts shed light on the final, chaotic year of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Donald Trump is owed US$1 million tax refund for Chicago skyscraper, tax agency rules  

An Illinois tax agency has ruled that former President Donald Trump is due a US$1 million refund on the 2011 tax bill for his downtown Chicago skyscraper, but local officials are trying to block the refund.The Chicago Sun-Times newspaper reports that at issue is the Cook County Board of Review’s estimation of the value of the Trump International Hotel & Tower’s rooms and retail space. In June, the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board voted 5-0 to reduce the assessment on the building’s commercial…

Trumps tax returns available to investigators after US Justice Department reversal   -13%

Former US President Donald Trump suffered twin setbacks on Friday when the Justice Department cleared the way to release his tax records and disclosed a memo showing he had urged top officials last year to falsely claim his election defeat was “corrupt”.The department, reversing course from the stance it took when Trump was in office, told the Internal Revenue Service to provide the Republican businessman-turned-politician’s tax records to congressional investigators – a move he has long fought…

Donald Trump ally Thomas Barrack pleads not guilty in UAE illegal lobbying case   -27%

Former US President Donald Trump’s billionaire ally Thomas Barrack pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges of illegal lobbying for the United Arab Emirates, putting the case on course for a possible trial.Barrack entered his plea to seven criminal counts before US Magistrate Judge Sanket Bulsara in Brooklyn.The charges against Barrack, 74, included secretly lobbying the Trump administration for the UAE between 2016 and 2018, and lying to investigators about dealings with the Middle Eastern…

Donald Trump ally and fundraiser Tom Barrack charged with acting as a foreign agent for UAE   -3%

Tom Barrack, the founder of private equity from Colony Capital and a former top fundraiser for Donald Trump, has been arrested on charges of acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government.Barrack, 74, was arrested in California on Tuesday, according to a Justice Department statement. Two others are also named as defendants in an indictment unsealed the same day.Others tied to Trump have been charged with violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Among them are former top…

The Israeli painter obsessed with Donald Trump   -70%

Iddo Markus couldn't stop painting Donald Trump. Now he deals with people reacting with anger and disgust to his work

Megachurch pastor David Platt warns of a disinformation campaign and takeover attempt at his evangelical church  

Platt, who once prayed for former President Donald Trump, said he believes the recent controversy has been a collision of several things, including racial tensions and political tensions.

Tracking Bidens environmental actions   60%

President Biden is unwinding Donald Trump’s environmental legacy, while forging his own. The Washington Post is chronicling every step.

Thomas Walkom: North Koreas flirtation with the West is on again  

South Korea urged the U.S. to build on the 2018 Singapore agreement signed by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and then-president Donald Trump — an agreement roundly condemned by many analysts for its failure to rein in the North’s nuclear ambitions.

Opinion: January 6 rioters followed Trump's blueprint   -7%

When Congressman Mo Brooks attended Donald Trump's "Save America Rally" at the Ellipse Wednesday, January 6 -- the day Trump loyalists attacked the US Capitol and tried to overturn the 2020 election -- the Alabama Republican's big punchline was, "Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass." Faced, now, with a lawsuit alleging that he incited the violence that ensued, Brooks claimed he never advocated for violence. And he has said that his comment about "kicking ass" was about the 2022 and 2024 elections.

MyPillow CEO pulls ads from Fox News   6%

After Fox News rejected a promo from MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for a live streamed event that seeks to prove that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election, Lindell has pulled his ads from the network. CNN's Brian Stelter has the story.

Trump to DOJ last December: 'Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me'   -9%

Former President Donald Trump pressured his incoming acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to declare that the election was corrupt in an attempt to help Republican members of Congress try to overturn the election result, according to notes of a December 2020 call Trump held with Rosen and acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue.

Justice Department advises Biden administration to hand over Trump tax returns to Congress   12%

The Justice Department told the Treasury Department that it "must" turn over former President Donald Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, which first requested them more than two years ago.

Biden nominates Khizr Khan, a Gold Star father and Trump critic, to religious freedom post  

President Joe Biden announced Friday that he was appointing Khizr Khan, a Gold Star father who drew then-candidate Donald Trump's ire when he spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Trump faces another primary test in Ohio House race   -25%

Donald Trump has a lot on the line in suburbs and small towns south of Columbus, Ohio.

CNN analyst on why it's 'highly likely' Congress will get Trump tax returns   8%

CNN's Elie Honig explains why it's likely that Congress will get former President Donald Trump's tax returns, two years after the House Ways and Means Committee first requested them.

Why MyPillow CEO pulled ads from Fox News   6%

After Fox News rejected a promo from MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for a live streamed event that seeks to prove that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election, Lindell has pulled his ads from the network. CNN's Brian Stelter has the story.

Trump urged U.S. Justice Department officials to 'say the election was corrupt'  

Former U.S. president Donald Trump urged senior U.S. Justice Department officials to declare the 2020 election results "corrupt" in a December phone call, according to handwritten notes from one of the participants in the conversation.

In Alabama and Louisiana, partisan opposition to vaccine surges alongside Delta variant   2%

Many people are turning down Covid vaccines because they are angry that President Donald Trump lost the election and sick of Democrats thinking they know what’s best.

Enlist Trump Against Vaccine Hesitancy   25%

Readers urge Donald Trump to persuade the vaccine holdouts. Also: Prosecuting rapists; the appeal of Texas; Republicans and Jan. 6; China crackdown; higher education.

Tom Brady Jokes About Election Results as Buccaneers Visit White House  

President Biden’s administration has revived a tradition of championship invitations that had grown sporadic under former President Donald J. Trump.

US Justice Department orders Treasury to give Trump tax records to Congress   3%

The US Justice Department ordered the Treasury on Friday to hand Donald Trump's tax records to Congress, in a major break in an investigation involving the former president's finances launched in 2019.

Trump helped raise more than $56 million online in early 2021   12%

Former President Donald Trump helped raise more than $56 million from online donors during the first six months of this year, a campaign finance disclosure showed on Friday in a sign of Trump's power within the Republican Party.

Week In Politics: New Notes Further Show Trump's Attempt To Stop Transfer Of Power  

More troubles for former president Donald Trump, with the release of handwritten notes detailing the pressure he put on former Justice Department officials following the 2020 election.