Trump urged postmaster general to double rates on Amazon

President Trump has reportedly urged the U.S. postmaster general to double shipping rates for Amazon.com and other companies amid months of his continued criticism that the online retailer is costing the Postal Service “billions” of dollars in revenue.

Trump has personally met with Postmaster General Megan Brennan multiple times since 2017 to petition her for a hike on rates for Amazon and other firms that ship packages, The Washington Post reported Friday, citing officials familiar with the conversations.

The president’s demands came despite counsel from close advisers and top Postal Service employees that Amazon, the largest shipper of packages through USPS, actually helps keep it afloat financially.

According to the Post, Brennan explained to Trump in their conversations that the Postal Service is bound by its contracts with retail companies, noting that to change them would require a review by the independent regulatory agency that oversees the USPS.

Trump signed an executive order last month to create a task force to look into the Postal Service’s “unsustainable financial path.”

USPS has given Amazon a shipping discount due to the volume of packages it ships, but has not released details on its agreement with the retailer. Analysts have estimated that the company uses the Postal Service for about 40 percent of its shipping.

Trump also reportedly met with different groups of senior advisers including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and former National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn on the service’s financial dealings and whether Amazon was in fact costing the USPS “massive amounts of money,” as he once claimed in a tweet.

The president has frequently taken aim at The Washington Post, which Amazon owner Jeff Bezos purchased in 2013.

[The Hill]

Leak of Mueller Russia probe questions ‘disgraceful’, Trump tweets

President Trump said Tuesday it’s “disgraceful” that a list of questions that the special counsel investigating Russian election interference wants to ask him was “leaked” to the news media.

The New York Times late Monday published the nearly four dozen questions given to Trump’s attorneys, covering Trump’s motivations for firing FBI Director James Comey last May and contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russians.

“It is so disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were ‘leaked’ to the media,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “No questions on Collusion. Oh, I see…you have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice!”

In a second tweet, Trump said: “It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened.”

Trump repeatedly has called the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller a “witch hunt” and insists there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia. Trump has also accused Comey of leaking classified information. Mueller was appointed to oversee the investigation by the deputy attorney general after Trump fired Comey in May 2017.

Although Mueller’s team has indicated to Trump’s lawyers that he’s not considered a target, investigators remain interested in whether the president’s actions constitute obstruction of justice and want to interview him about several episodes in office.
Many of the questions obtained by the Times center on the obstruction issue, including his reaction to Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation, a decision Trump has angrily criticized.

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow declined to comment to the Associated Press on Monday night, as did White House lawyer Ty Cobb.

The questions also touch on Russian meddling and whether the Trump campaign coordinated in any way with the Kremlin. In one question obtained by the Times, Mueller asks what Trump knew about campaign staff, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, reaching out to Moscow.

[Los Angeles Times]

Trump declares unemployment problem solved and announces plan to let low-skill guest workers in

At his Saturday night rally in Michigan, Donald Trump said that the nation’s employment problems are solved and announced that he is let low-skill workers come into the country to do agriculture work.

“And for the farmers, OK, it is going to get good. And we’re going to let your guest workers come in,” he said. “We’re going to have strong borders, but we have to have your workers come in… The employment picture is so good, so strong, that we have to let people in.

While talking a lot about the wall, Trump said that he would allow guest workers to come in. But, he said, he would then want them to leave.

“Guest workers. Don’t we agree? We have to have ’em,” he said.

The line got tepid applause.

[Raw Story]

Media

President Trump threatens political repercussions over 2026 World Cup bid

President Donald Trump waded into the campaign aimed at bringing the 2026 FIFA World Cup to the United States on Thursday, tweeting out a veiled threat to withdraw political support from nations who vote against the bid.

In a wildly surprising development, Trump, who previously has shown little appetite for soccer, appeared to throw his full backing behind the three-pronged bid that would see the U.S., Mexico and Canada potentially act as co-hosts of soccer’s biggest tournament.

“The U.S. has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup,” Trump wrote. “It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)?”

The business mogul turned politician did not specify which countries he was referring to, but the only other contender in the race to be host is Morocco. Due to the political nature of FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, and the tactical nature of voting in such matters, it is widely expected that Morocco will have the support of virtually the entire African continent.

Other voting blocks, including those from Europe and Asia, still are seen as very much up for grabs, with the vote due to be finalized June 13, just before the start of this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

“From the beginning, we have received strong support from the Canadian, Mexican and United States governments,” a statement from the bid committee read, in response to Trump’s remarks. “We are grateful for that support and together our three countries are ready to welcome players and fans from around the world to an extraordinary FIFA World Cup in 2026.”

[USA Today]

Reality

FIFA pointed to its rules governing the selection of the 2026 World Cup hosts on Friday, one day after U.S. President Donald Trump questioned supporting countries that lobby against a joint North American bid.

The governing body’s code of ethics prohibits government interference in all member countries’ respective national soccer federations, and the bidding regulations also warn against “any undue influence on the outcome.”

Trump Thanks Mary Matalin for Praising His Job Performance by Saying ‘I Can Die Happy Now’

President Trump took to Twitter this morning to thank political commentator Mary Matalinfor recent comments she made praising him.

In an interview last month with PJ Media, Matalin said she can “die happy now” because of how well he’s doing.

She offered him specific praise on tax reform.

It’s unclear why Trump is only just now bringing up the comment from a month ago, but he thanked Matalin for it all the same:

[Mediaite]

Senate Confirms Climate Change Denier To Lead NASA

The Senate on Thursday narrowly confirmed Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a former Navy pilot with no scientific credentials and who doesn’t believe humans are primarily to blame for the global climate crisis, to lead NASA.

Bridenstine will become the first elected official to hold the NASA administrator job. He joins a Cabinet already loaded with people who question the near-universal scientific consensus that climate change is real and that human activity is the primary cause.

The final vote ― which was 50-49 along party lines ― came one day after the Senate narrowly advanced Bridenstine’s nomination, thanks to an about-face from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and a key vote from Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Rubio, who in September told Politico that he worried about Bridenstine’s nomination “could be devastating for the space program,” said in a statement Wednesday that he decided to support the nominee in order to avoid “a gaping leadership void” at NASA.

Much like the procedural vote on Wednesday, which was temporarily deadlocked at 49-49, Thursday’s confirmation ultimately hinged on Flake, who voted in favor only after a bit of drama that included a long discussion with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and stepping out for a phone call, as CNN’s Manu Raju reports.

Bridenstine will replace Robert Lightfoot Jr., who has been serving as acting administrator since previous NASA administrator, Charles Bolden Jr., resigned from his post in January.

In a statement following Thursday’s vote, Bridenstine said he is humbled by the opportunity. “I look forward to working with the outstanding team at NASA to achieve the President’s vision for American leadership in space,” he said.

[Huffington Post]

Trump threatens to pull funding for California National Guard deployment

President Donald Trump lashed out at California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday, insisting that his administration won’t pay for the state’s National Guard deployment unless the troops help enforce US immigration laws at the border.

“Governor Jerry Brown announced he will deploy ‘up to 400 National Guard Troops’ to do nothing,” Trump tweeted. “The crime rate in California is high enough, and the Federal Government will not be paying for Governor Brown’s charade. We need border security and action, not words!”

Later Thursday, Trump tweeted more about immigration policy.

“Sanctuary Cities released at least 142 Gang Members across the United States, making it easy for them to commit all forms of violent crimes where none would have existed. We are doing a great job of law enforcement, but things such as this make safety in America difficult!”

Trump’s tweets comes less than 24 hours after Brown, a Democrat, agreed to send more National Guard troops to the US-Mexico border. Brown said that the mission would be limited.

“Let’s be crystal clear on the scope of this mission,” Brown said. “This will not be a mission to build a new wall. It will not be a mission to round up women and children or detain people escaping violence and seeking a better life. And the California National Guard will not be enforcing federal immigration laws.”

Trump’s comments seemingly contradict an earlier tweet from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

“Just spoke w @JerryBrownGov about deploying the @USNationalGuard in California,” Nielsen wrote on Wednesday. “Final details are being worked out but we are looking forward to the support. Thank you Gov Brown!”

Asked for comment on Trump’s tweet, Brown’s office pointed to Nielsen’s comments.

[CNN]

Reality

Violent crime across the country is at an all time low.

Trump: We’ll put sanctions on Russia ‘as soon as they very much deserve it’

President Trump on Wednesday said his administration would levy additional sanctions on Russia “as soon as they very much deserve it.”

The comments, made at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, capped a four-day stretch of confusion over whether the Trump administration would punish Moscow for its alleged role in a recent chemical attack in Syria.

Trump began to walk away from the microphone, but returned to answer a shouted question about the sanctions. He then went on to tout his record on confronting Russia.

“There has been nobody tougher on Russia than Donald Trump,” the president said, restating one of his common talking points.

He noted that he has helped raise money for NATO, as well as touted a recent military strike in Syria that was carried out in coordination with France and the United Kingdom.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haleysaid on Sunday that additional sanctions against Russia would be announced as soon as Monday in response to its alleged role in a recent chemical attack in Syria.

However, the White House said Monday that Trump had decided not to impose sanctions, contradicting Haley’s comments.

Haley quickly fired back, saying “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”

Kudlow later apologized, but the incident sparked speculation that all of the Trump administration was not on the same page regarding its policy toward Russia.

Trump has faced criticism from lawmakers for being hesitant at times to speak out forcefully against Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

[The Hill]

Trump orders Postal Service review after blasting Amazon deal

After accusing Amazon for months of not paying its fair share of postage, President Trump has ordered a review of the US Postal Service’s finances via an executive order issued late Thursday night. The order calls for a task force to evaluate the operations and finances of the USPS. The order does not mention Amazon by name, but it seems clear that Trump is trying to back his claim that the USPS is losing “many billions of dollars a year” due to the financial arrangement with its biggest shipper of packages, or about $1.50 for every Amazon package it delivers.

Trump may very well be correct regarding the numbers, although his rage seems misplaced. Experts, and even Trump’s own advisers, have said that the enormous volume of packages shipped by Amazon have helped keep the Postal Service afloat. Rather, the long, slow decline in junk and first-class mail are the reasons for the USPS’s mounting financial losses. Trump’s executive order acknowledges this.

“A number of factors, including the steep decline in First-Class Mail volume, coupled with legal mandates that compel the USPS to incur substantial and inflexible costs, have resulted in a structural deficit,” the president says in the order. “The U.S.P.S. is on an unsustainable financial path and must be restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout.”

It’s unclear how quickly the task force will begin its review, but it has 120 days to respond to the president with a summary of its findings and recommendations. Trump created a similar commission last year to support his claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election — a claim thoroughly debunked by election experts from both parties. The commission was dissolved in January.

Trump often screams “FAKE NEWS!” on Twitter after The Washington Post, owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, publishes incriminating stories about Trump or his administration. Last week Trump calledThe Post “Amazon’s ‘chief lobbyist,’” a claim he’s fond of repeating. And during his presidential campaign, Trump saidthat Amazon had a “huge anti-trust problem” and “is getting away with murder, tax-wise.” It all makes you wonder what Trump’s real angle is.

[The Verge]

 

Trump bizarrely boasts about the strength of the military to children at White House Easter Egg Roll

President Donald Trump on Monday welcomed children to the White House for the annual Easter Egg Roll with a bizarre rant about the strength of the American military.

In his address to the children at the event, Trump began by referring to the White House as “this house or building or whatever you want to call it because there is no name for it, it is special.” Trump then said that he and his staff keep the White House “in tip-top shape, we call it sometimes tippy-top shape, and it’s a great, great place.”

He then pivoted to talking about the military, which he said would soon be “at a level it’s never been before” and “you see what’s happening with funding” and “just think of $700 billion, because that’s what’s going into our military this year.”

[Raw Story]

Media

 

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