the week of June 26 – VICE News

about President Donald Trump to be delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Donald Trump made it clear at the beginning of his campaign that he wasn’t going to follow the normal rules or tone of politics. We’re keeping track of all the ways his presidency veers from the norm in terms of policy and rhetoric.

See earlier updates from June here. 

Day 160 June 28

Though Trump often portrays himself as all-seeing and all-knowing, there’s a lot of issues on which the president appears to be unclear. This week, a barrage of reports indicated Trump is less-than-clear on several items in his current agenda. Here, compiled in one place, are some of the concepts Trump is reportedly struggling to understand:

HEALTHCARE: Trump confused Medicaid and Medicare at times during his presidential campaign and had to be reminded of their functions, a former senior Trump aide told The Daily Beast Wednesday.

“There would be times when he would describe what was clearly Medicare… but say Medicaid, and when we pointed that out, he would say, ‘That’s what I said, Medicare and Medicaid,’” the source said.

The Beast also spoke with six of Trump’s close aides and advisers about Trump’s knowledge of healthcare. Some of those sources “simply laughed at the very suggestion that the president knows much, or even cares, about health care policy in this country.”

CONGRESS: Numerous times on the campaign trail, Trump said “nobody knows the system better than I do,” referring to the American political landscape. But Trump’s inexperience and lack of know-how in terms of dealing with Congress was one of the reasons cited by Republican Sen. Susan Collins (ME) as to why the healthcare bill was struggling to move through.

“It has been a challenge to him to learn how to interact with Congress and how to push his agenda forward,” Collins told reporters on Tuesday, according to CNN.

“This President is the first president in our history who has had neither political nor military experience,” Collins also pointed out.

COMMUNICATION: Trump has often said, “There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.” But he apparently didn’t consider that issuing a warning against another government — especially one as volatile and relevant to American interests as Syria — should probably be accompanied by a discussion with the Pentagon.

Trump’s warning to Assad against using chemical weapons seemed to baffle many U.S. defense officials, some of whom who told the New York Times and BuzzFeed they weren’t aware of the potential chemical strike or what inspired Trump’s warning.

In the middle of a call with the newly elected Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar Tuesday, Donald Trump took the time to call a female Irish journalist over to his desk and compliment her on her smile.

The surreal encounter took place shortly after Trump had congratulated Varadkar on his “great victory.” Several Irish journalists were invited into the Oval Office to hear the opening of the conversation, including Caitriona Perry, the journalist in question. Perry is the Washington correspondent for Irish state broadcaster Raidio Teilifis Eireann (RTE).

In the video posted by Perry on Twitter, Trump can be heard saying, “We have a lot of your Irish press watching us,” before turning specifically to Perry and saying: “And where are you from? Go ahead, come here, come here. Where are you from? We have all of this beautiful Irish press.”

He then went on to tell Varadkar: “She has a nice smile on her face. So I bet she treats you well.”

Still talking, Trump added: “He thanks you for the newspapers, Caitriona.”

The encounter has been branded creepy by many on social media, while some U.S. women have been apologizing to Perry for their president’s conduct.

Trump’s mind may have wandered from the discussions after he was left on hold for 90 seconds before Varadkar picked up the phone in Dublin.

Day 159 June 27

The government has officially concluded the National Park Service did nothing wrong with regards to the now-famous photo comparing Trump’s inauguration crowd-size to Obama’s — despite the White House’s best attempts to hold the department accountable.

A formal investigation by the Office of Inspector General found that the National Park Service was entirely innocent after an unidentified complainant alleged that the Park Service told employees to alter records of crowd-sizes at the inauguration and that two of the agency’s employees had leaked information about a phone call between Trump and acting-National Park Service head Michael Reynolds to the press. Investigators concluded the story was false.

“We did not find evidence to substantiate any of these allegations,” the report said. “All of the witnesses we interviewed denied that the NAMA official instructed staff to alter records for the inauguration or to remove crowd size information. We also found no evidence that the public affairs employees released any information to the media about the President’s phone call.”

The day after the inauguration White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer claimed Trump’s inauguration had the “largest audience to witness an inauguration, period,” despite clear evidence to the contrary. Trump was also “directly involved” in searching for the Parks employee who retweeted the embarrassing photo using the department’s official Twitter account, according to emails obtained by CBS News.

Trump has spent most of his presidency decrying fake news — all the while building his own legend with the fakest of news. In fact, Trump has a fake TIME magazine cover of himself hanging up in at least five of his golf clubs, including Mar-a-Lago, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.


The cover, splashed with Trump’s portrait, is dated March 1, 2009 — a date on which there was no real issue released. The cover also has a slew of stylistic differences from authentic TIME covers, the Post reported.

One of the best parts? The barcode found on the bottom-right of the cover, which is also fake, was found in a graphic-design tutorial online. What was the tutorial for? How to make a fake TIME cover.

The fake cover’s headline made sure to boast about Trump’s great success. “Donald Trump: The ‘Apprentice’ is a television smash!”

TIME has since requested Trump stop displaying the fake cover.

This reminds us of yet another time Trump faked something in order to brag about himself — when he pretended to be his own publicist on phone calls with outlets like People Magazine, where, posing as “John Baron,” he spun heroic, albeit fake stories about his professional achievements and dating prowess. True story!

President Trump’s favorite “fake news” punching bag, CNN, had to retract a story it published Friday asserting the Senate was investigating a Trump transition team member’s ties to a Russian investment fund.  The resulting scandal has caused three CNN employees to resign and given the president fodder for an extended Twitter rant culminating in an accusation leveled at pretty much every major media outlet except Fox News.

Politicians often look ahead to the next election because, well, people in power generally like to stay there. But not everyone has their own venue for a fundraiser.

As the Associated Press reported, the Trump administration has decided to host their boss’ first re-election fundraiser at the marquee property of the company he just left to become president — and which his sons now run.

Although Eric and Donald Jr. insist they’re keeping the Trump Organization away from their father’s politics, a joint fundraising event for Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee (they didn’t see any issue either, apparently) is set for June 28 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Invitations for the $35,000-a-plate dinner went out four weeks ago. Attendees can also pay a cool $100,000 to be on the event’s host committee.

Considering the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia recently sued the administration over payments to the hotel potentially violating the Constitution, the planning committee kept the location of the fundraiser on the down low. According to NPR, attendees weren’t told where the event would be until they RSVP’d.

No word yet on the menu, but the president has expressed a fondness for taco bowls.

Day 158 June 26

The Trump administration has been downplaying the investigation into Russian meddling for months now, but this weekend Trump himself publicly acknowledged there was a problem — with the Obama administration.

“The reason that President Obama did NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win and did not want to ‘rock the boat.’ He didn’t ‘choke,’ he colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good,” the president said in a series of tweets. “The real story is that President Obama did NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling. With 4 months looking at Russia under a magnifying glass, they have zero ‘tapes’ of T people colluding. There is no collusion & no obstruction. I should be given apology!”

Adviser Kellyanne Conway — who previously called the idea of Russian interference in the election “laughable and ridiculous” — also argued Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that it was Obama’s fault for not stopping it.

“It’s the Obama administration that was responsible for doing absolutely nothing from August to January with the knowledge that Russia was hacking into our election,” Conway said. “They did absolutely nothing. They’re responsible for this.”

In a confusing and yet somewhat predictable twist, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at an off-camera briefing Monday that Trump isn’t sure if he even believes Russia was involved at all.

“He believes that Russia probably was involved, potentially some other countries as well could have been equally involved,” Spicer said. But if Russia did meddle, Spicer said, it was definitely Obama’s fault.

“There does seem to be a bit of hypocrisy, in terms of what [the Obama administration] didn’t clearly do if they truly believed all this was happening,” Spicer said. “The question is, if they didn’t take any action, does that make them complicit? I think there’s a lot of questions that have to get answered about who knew what and when.”

Back when Jared Kushner was just an adviser to his father-in-law’s campaign, he was also still an active executive in his family’s real estate company —  a company that  received a $285 million loan from Deutsche Bank just a month before the election, according to the Washington Post.

At the time, Deutsche Bank was attempting to settle a federal mortgage fraud case and charges from New York state regulators for its alleged role in a possible Russian money-laundering scheme, the Washington Post reported. The loan given to Kushner Cos. contributed to a refinancing package for one of its properties in Manhattan.

Kushner (now a top White House adviser, who divested although still stands to profit from the real estate company) didn’t include the personal guarantee he made on the loan in his financial disclosures to the Office of Government Ethics. Kushner’s lawyer, however, claims the loan didn’t need to go on the forms because Kushner doesn’t need to pay the money back right away.

The loan will now be yet another facet of special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into the connections between Russia and the Trump campaign, although Deutsche Bank, citing privacy laws, has refused to comply with a Congressional request for assistance.

US President Barack Obama greets guests during an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, July 22, 2015.

To say Trump has a poor relationship with the Muslim community would be an understatement.

Since the day he announced his bid for the White House, Trump has done a lot to alienate American Muslims — from calling for the surveillance of mosques to expressing his belief that “Islam hates us.”

Since taking office, President Trump has continued his efforts, hiring noted Islamophobes into the highest ranks, signing multiple “Muslim ban” executive orders, and all but ignoring hate crimes perpetrated on the Muslim community.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that Trump is the first president in 20 years not to host an Eid al-Fitr dinner at the White House.

Introduced by then-first lady Hillary Clinton in 1996, the presidential Iftar dinner, which celebrates the end of fasting and charitable giving during the holy month of Ramadan, has been a tradition ever since, hosting U.S. Muslim leaders and diplomats.

In May, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson received and rejected the recommendation of his own department’s office of religion and global affairs to hold the annual dinner.

The White House has yet to explain why it ended the annual tradition, but on Saturday, presumably from Trump National Golf Club in Virginia, the president released a brief statement acknowledging the holiday. “On behalf of the American people, Melania and I send our warm greetings to Muslims as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr.”

Clad in weekend wear, Trump resumed his favorite presidential pastime on Sunday, marking his his 31st visit to one of his company’s golf courses since becoming president.

First daughter Ivanka Trump told “Fox & Friends” in an interview Monday morning that she prefers to keep a distance from affairs of state. The struggle must be pretty real, considering she has a West Wing office within spitting distance of the Oval Office and her official title is assistant to the president, her father.

“I try to stay out of politics,” Ivanka said on the Trump-friendly cable show. She went on to tout her father’s political instincts as “phenomenal.” “He did something that no one could have imagined he’d be able to accomplish, I feel blessed just being part of the ride from Day One and before. But he did something pretty remarkable. But I don’t profess to be a political savant,” said the Trump offspring who’s most often portrayed as the voice of reason for her father and his politics.

Gabrielle Bluestone, Morgan Conley, Simone Landon, Josh Marcus, Nick Miriello, Carter Sherman contributed to these reports. 

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