Russia & #MeToo
As we said in the 6-month Trump tracker article, about the "Russia thing“... we will hear more about that in the coming months, as if the past six months haven't been enough!” And, sure enough, we have gone into Russian overload.
To date, two former Trump advisors (Michel Flynn and Paul Manafort) have plead guilty, in Federal Court, to the charges from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Two more have been indicted. The investigation has extended to Trump family members, both Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kusner, testifying before Congress and with the Mueller Investigation . . . and the investigation continues!
There have also been calls from Republicans for Trump to 'fire' Mueller and end the drip-drip- drip of the investigation. But, to his credit, Trump has stated his refusal to do so and his claims that he will be exonerated.
On another, even less attractive front, the campaign charges of sexual harrasment have resurfaced with the #MeToo movement, and the Silence Breakers being named Time's “Person(s) of the Year.” We have heard the rumors and jokes of the producer's couch in Hollywood for decades, but the Harvey Winestein revelations (by 90 women, to date) pushing the horror of its scope into the realm of a national tragedy, and the overflow of it getting into other areas of the entertainment field (costing Matt Lauer
his job as a Today anchor, and Charlie Rose his job as anchor of Good Morning America, and others) and even into Congress (Sen. Franken, Rep. Coyners, and others).
Not surprisingly the accusers of Trump have also come forward, again (perhaps funded and pushed by Soros?) Admittedly, Trump has NO high ground to take in this – after his Access Hollywood tape comments and such – so he must weather the storm, once again. The Presidency's 'Ivory Tower' may be a small blessing in that regard, yet it is still one more attack on the person and the office.
As mentioned in the last Trump tracking article, North Korea continues to be an issue. Kim Sun Un and Trump have exchanged tweets, yet Trump has not been as juvenile in his responses as during the heated tirades of the previous six months – have to give him credit for more control on that front.
Something to add to the previous timeline: on Nov. 28, North Korea launched a Hwasong-15 missile, their most sophisticated ICBM to date, which Korean officials have said is capable of reaching most of the Continential U.S. and US officials question. Whether or not Korean targeting is capable of hitting select cities or specific sites (such as the threat of launching against Guam about five or six months ago) is also still in question.
There have also been rumblings of another nuclear test being planned by North Korea – satellite recon shows activity of a possible test coming soon.
Further and more stingent sanctions against North Korea have been instituted by the United Nations, under prompting by UN Ambassador Nicki Hailey and the Trump Administration.
Immigration Issues: Travel Ban, DACA, Dreamers
One positive accomplishment for the Trump Administration was the Supreme Court allowing the implementation of the Travel Restrictions, after considerable opposition had mounted at the initial response to the concept.
In another controversy, Trump has called on Congress to end the 2012 DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) policy covering an estimated 700,000+ people, known as Dreamers. Trump has given Congress a window of opportunity, asking them to act by March 2018.
Over the past few months, Congress hasn't cooperated with the Trump agenda of repealing Obamacare, but they seem to be ready, willing, and able to undertake the proposed Tax reform.
Although it is not exactly as Trump promised, back in the campaign, it is a long sought step in several areas (reducing Corporate tax rates, simplifying deductions and tax rates, etc.).
Opposition over eliminating the State and Local Tax Deduction and other items from the House bill, which weren't in the Senate version, sent them both to a Conference Committee for compromise. A compromise bill was referred back to the floor of the House and Senate. Votes came before Christmas and the bill was signed by Trump in time for a promised “Christmas Present."
Although details have yet to be released and agreed upon, further information and specifics are anticipated as to what we can expect come April 15, 2019 - it came too late to involve 2017 taxes, and purportedly won't take any effect until Feb. 2018, for the 2019 Tax Day before the impact will be seen and felt more completely.
Transgender ban reversed by courts,
$700B Defense Budget authorized
One more bit of oppostion to one piece of the Trump Agenda came in the form of Trump's reversing the allowance of transgender soldiers in the military. Federal Courts has halted the implimentation of the new policy. Since this battle has just begun, more will be coming later.
Trump's $700B Defense Budget was approved by Congress and signed back in November. Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2018 by a voice vote and sent it to Pres. Trump. It provided $624.4 billion in base budget authority and roughtly $65.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (aka: Afganistan, etc.).
This year's bill exceeds the $54 billion defense budget increase requested by Trump for 2018 aimed for more aircraft and ships. It fully authorizes a 2.4% pay increase for service members (and blocks the Exec. ability to reduce troop pay), increased missle defense (adding $4.4 billion to meet critical missile defense needs – authorizing 28 additional ground-based interceptors and 'requiring' the Missile Defense Agency to develop a space-based sensor layer for ballistic missile defense), as well as adding three additional Litoral Combat Ships and 90 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters across the various branches (20 more than requested by Trump's initial budget). It does NOT include an Air Force proposal for a new Space Corps – in the mold of the Marine Corp, which is seperate yet housed within the Navy, but does contain language directing further 'long-term study' of the issue. Air Force
space programs ARE included as a series of managmeent and procedural changes to 'begin fixing the broken national security space enterprise,' holding the Secty. of Def. Responsible for the execution of improvements requiring oversight by a federally funded R&D corporation not affiliated with the Air Force, requiring the deputy secretary to 'provide Congress a road map to establish a separate military department responsible for national security space activities of the DoD.'
[Speaking of 'Space' Trump has come out and wants to re-invigorate NASA with an aim toward a mission to Mars – now that's a solid 'hit']!
The Next Home Run?
While it appears the first legislative home run, for the Trump Administration, was the Christmas Present for 2017, his Tax Reform & Jobs Bill. It hasn't taken effect yet, and there is still much to do to keep all the other promises.
Repeal of the Obamacare Healthcare was not done – although the requirment and penalty are repealed as part of a specific part of the Tax Reform bill.
No Home Run for Foreign Policy (declaring Jerusalem the Capital of Israel is a sure fire 'Hit' for the US, but the rest of the world wasn't too sure - especially the Palistinians and Arab allies) or Domestic Policy has been forthcoming – no infastructure solution yet, no wall, no 'draining the swamp' (perhaps just the opposite, so far), no replacement of 'free trade' with 'fair trade' (withdrawal from TPP is one 'small step for mankind,' no real actions to 'taking care of the military' - yet, Trumps first DOD budget is not a solution, because the battle over the Budget Control Act cap for DoD of $549B (well below the approved budget) and will be 'worked out' with Democrats later next year (Dems want equal increases for domestic programs).
Trump HAS made a handful of Home Runs with the appointment of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court bench (!), pulling out of the Paris Accords, ban on funding of abortion overseas, returning school control to the States, Pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, withdrawing the US from UNESCO. Yet, there is plenty of opportunity for more Home Runs in the coming three years: rebuilding the infrastructure, stopping the militarization of law enforcement, ethical government issues, transparency of government issues, et al. More to come!!
Finally, Another Opinion
Finally, we provide an independent opinion for a less than objective source. The guys at Liberty Counsel came up with the following 'TOP pro-faith, pro-family, pro-life actions of President Trump this year.' Their highlights include:
-Nominated one of the most pro-family cabinets in history...
-Stayed true to his pledge to nominate a true Constitutionalist to the Supreme Court in Justice Neil Gorsuch...
-Reversed the Obama Bathroom Mandate...
-Defunded the U.N. abortion agenda...
-Reinstated and expanded the pro-life Mexico City policy...
-Freed states to choose not to fund facilities that provide abortions...
-Supported the free speech rights of pastors and churches...
-Protected the military from radical transgenderism... (that one is still