FARM AID: Trump announces emergency aid for farmers hurt by trade war

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced plans to deliver up to $12 billion in financial aid to farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs in the ongoing trade fight with countries including China, Canada and Mexico.

The president unveiled his emergency economic plan as he spoke at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Kansas City.

“Farmers will be the biggest beneficiaries,” Trump promised of the embattled trade deals. “We’re going to do something that has never been done.”

“Just stick with us,” the president said as he asked farmers, who have been among those hit hardest by his trade agenda, for their continued patience as he continued to work out the details. “Don’t believe what you hear on the fake news.”

“Just be a little patient. They are all aiming for anybody who likes me,” he added.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the agency has been authorized by the president to provide $12 billion in programs to agricultural producers impacted by retaliatory tariffs.

“The actions today are a firm statement that other nations cannot bully our agricultural producers to force the United States to cave in,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters of the president’s announcement. “This administration will not stand by while our hard-working agricultural producers bear the brunt of unfriendly and illegal tariffs.”

Despite the president’s efforts, some of his fellow Republicans are choosing not to back him in his efforts to win the trade war.

“America’s farmers don’t want to be paid to lose — they want to win by feeding the world,” Sen. Ben Sasse, (R)-Neb., told reporters on Tuesday. This administration’s tariffs and bailouts aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he understood Trump’s plan but conceded that other options may yield better results.

“I think there are better tools that we can use to hold abusers of trade law and people whose countries perpetuate unfair trade practices,” Ryan said Tuesday, “and get them to play fairly.”

Meanwhile, undeterred by the criticism, the president took to Twitter to explain to the American people why he feels America has gotten the short end of the stick in regard to trade.

“Tariffs are the greatest! Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs,” Trump tweeted. “It’s as simple as that – and everybody’s talking! Remember, we are the “piggy bank” that’s being robbed. All will be Great!”



BATTLE FOR THE BORDER: Leaders warn Republicans against immigration vote

Washington, D.C. (The Hill) — Republican leaders warned rank-and-file members Wednesday not to move ahead with a discharge petition to force an immigration vote, saying the effort would effectively hand over power to the Democrats, according to lawmakers who attended the closed-door meeting.

“They said it’s a lot better to stick together as team than a few guys trying to do their own thing with a bill that simply switches the power over to the other party,” Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) told The Hill. “It turns the floor over to them.”

Leaders also said that the “the governing majority should be able to accomplish its agenda without resorting to discharge,” said Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.). “That’s fundamental to governing.”

After the meeting, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) reiterated his opposition to the discharge petition.

“Obviously, we do not agree with discharge petitions. We think they are a mistake. They disunify our majority,” Ryan told reporters during his weekly press conference. “There are members of our majority [who] fall into different camps, and they want a solution on [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals], and they want a solution on the border and the security issues, so we want to accommodate all of that.”

“We don’t want to advance something that won’t become law and just get vetoed even if it made it to the president’s desk. We want to advance something that has a chance of going into law that the president supports. That’s why we met with the president [yesterday].”

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) pushed back against the notion that the move would empower the minority, pointing out that Ryan would be able to bring up an immigration bill of his choosing under the petition.

“It takes away the argument that the majority loses control of the floor. The Speaker is allowed to bring up whatever bill he wants,” Upton said after the meeting. “You don’t really lose control of the floor, because you’re allowed to bring up whatever proposal you want, and you let the chips fall where they may.”

Ryan and his top lieutenants are facing intense pressure from members to bring immigration legislation to the floor.

Eighteen Republicans have signed on to a discharge petition to force a series of votes on several immigration bills. If a majority of House members sign the petition, it would force a vote on the floor.

If all Democrats back the petition, the sponsors would only need 25 Republicans to do so, a number that appears to be within reach despite opposition from GOP leaders.

Republican leaders, who met with President Trump on Tuesday to chart a path forward on immigration, assured members during Wednesday’s conference meeting that they are working on coming up with a solution to bring an immigration bill to the floor.

“They didn’t give a specific timeline, but every one of them looked me in the eye and said they planned to bring a bill to the floor,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas).

But Republicans who are pressing leaders for more details about what the compromise legislation would look like said they came up short on details.

“I have not seen what a final agreement would look like — or even close,” said Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), who is leading the discharge petition effort. “So we’re having good discussions, but right now our focus is making sure we have 218 people to sign.”


ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST: Prominent Republican Charlie Dent stepping down from Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep Charlie Dent announced Tuesday that he will be leaving his role in Congress “in the coming weeks.”

Dent, a high profile moderate from Pennsylvania, hinted in September that he wouldn’t seek another term in office after serving as a member of Congress since 2005.

“After discussions with my family and careful reflection, I have decided to leave Congress in the coming weeks,” Dent said in a statement. “Serving the people of the 15th Congressional district has been a tremendous responsibility and the privilege of a lifetime, and I am honored by the trust that so many of my constituents placed in me to represent them in Washington. Actively engaging in the legislative and political process presents many challenges, and in so doing, I believe I have had a positive impact on people’s lives and made a difference in Congress.

I am especially proud of the work I have done to give voice to the sensible center in our country that is often overlooked or ignored. It is my intention to continue to aggressively advocate for responsible governance and pragmatic solutions in the coming years.”

Dent becomes the twenty-third Republican to announce they would not be seeking another congressional term. His announcement follows that of Paul Ryan who announced last week that he too will be stepping down from his congressional role as Speaker of the House at the beginning of 2018.

Dent’s announcement angered some Pennsylvania Republicans who say worrying about replacing Dent ahead of what promises to be a hotly contested mid-term election has put undue pressure on the GOP.

“I had called on him [Charlie Dent] to tell the truth months ago,” Tom Carroll, the chairman of the Bethlehem Republican City Committee and vice chair of the Lehigh Valley Tea Party, told Salon. “I had heard that he was going to be resigning to set up a special election so that he could manipulate who would win because the party rules in special elections are different than just in a normal primary. He was confronted [by] numerous sources and said he wasn’t going to resign. So, once again, he has not told the truth. I find him quite honestly reprehensible at this point. I say, ‘Good riddance.'”

He added, “I think it’s disgusting that he’s done this in a way that now we’re forced to have a special election prior to a general election coming up. He’s costing taxpayers money, if that’s the way it goes.”




RYAN STEPS DOWN: Paul Ryan announces he will vacate role as Speaker of the House effective January

WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Wednesday that he will resign his role as the leader of the majority party effective January 2019.

“This year will be my last one as a member of the House,” Ryan told a sea of waiting reporters after notifying his GOP colleagues in a closed-door meeting moments before. “I will be retiring in January, leaving this majority in good hands with what I believe is a very bright future.”

“This is a job that does not last forever,” said Ryan, who became speaker in 2015 after former House Speaker, Ohio Republican John Boehner, abruptly resigned. “It’s fleeting, and that inspires you to do big things. And on that score, I think we’ve achieved a heck of a lot.”

Becoming visibly emotional during points of his announcement, Ryan said family considerations weighed heavily on his decision to step down, explaining that his daughter was 13 when he became speaker and he did not want to be a “weekend Dad” for the remainder of her teen years.

“This has been one of the two greatest honors of my life,” Ryan said. “The job provides incredible opportunities. But the truth is, it’s easy for it to take over everything in your life. And you can’t just let that happen. Because there are other things in life that can be fleeting as well — namely, your time as a husband and a dad, which is the other great honor of my life.”

Ryan said the upcoming midterm elections, which some say will be a battle for Republicans to win, did not factor into his retirement decision “at all.” Nor, said Ryan, did any rumored conflicts he may have with President Donald Trump.

“I’m grateful to the president for giving us this opportunity to do big things to get this country on the right track,” said Ryan.

Taking to Twitter following Ryan’s announcement, the president thanked Ryan for a job well done and wished the Wisconsin native well.

“Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man, and while he will not be seeking re-election, he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question. We are with you Paul!” Trump tweeted.

Mitt Ryan, who essentially put Ryan on the map by choosing him as his vice-president nominee during the 2012 presidential election, praised his former running mate and thanked him for stepping in to fill the Speaker role when duty called.

“He unified the House, passed scores of bills, and led with integrity, honor and dignity,” Romney wrote. “The country will miss Speaker Ryan.”

Rep. Charlie Dent, (R)-Penn., when asked by a reporter who may be tapped to replace Ryan, said it was too early to tell.

“The bigger issue right now is just trying to maintain the majority,” said Dent, who is retiring this year, adding that Republicans face a “toxic” environment during the 2018 mid-terms.

“This is going to be a challenging year,” said Dent.


‘I’VE RECEIVED ASSURANCES HE WON’T BE FIRED’: Paul Ryan weighs in on Meuller’s fate as rumors abound

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As rumors swirl that special counsel Robert Mueller will be fired by the Trump administration, House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has received “assurances” that Meuller’s job is safe. For now.

“I received assurances that his firing is not even under consideration,” Ryan told reporters during his weekly news conference on Tuesday. “We have a system based upon the rule of law in this country, we have a justice system, and no one is above that justice system.”

Ryan’s assurances follow weeks of speculation that Meuller, who is charged with leading the probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, was headed to the proverbial chopping block.

The rumors hit a fever pitch last weekend after President Donald Trump stepped up his attacks on Meuller via Twitter and hired a longtime Washington lawyer who has suggested that the FBI is seeking to frame the president.

Political watchers said they were certain Meuller would be next after Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week fired Andrew McCabe, the FBI’s second in command and a longtime Trump target.

White House spokesperson Ty Cobb made efforts to dispell the rumors on Sunday night that by issuing a statement that Trump is not considering firing Mueller.

“In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the special counsel, Robert Mueller,” Cobb said.

Sources close to the White House say Trump’s closest advisors are warning him that firing Meuller at this stage would do more harm than good in that doing so may look suspicious on the president’s part.

During his Tuesday presser, Ryan said Meuller will be encouraged to complete his investigation without undue influence from The White House.

“The special counsel should be free to follow through his investigation to its completion without interference, absolutely,” Ryan said. “I am confident that he will be able to do that.”

Calls for additional statement to a White House spokesperson were not immediately returned.



ROSIE’S RAGE: O’ Donnell goes on Christmas rant; Tells Paul Ryan he’s going ‘straight to hell’ over tax cuts

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a rambling Twitter rant on Christmas Day liberal comedian Rosie O’Donnell attacked Paul Ryan, telling the House speaker he’ll “go straight to hell” for leading the passage of a GOP tax cut bill that will likely save middle-class families thousands of dollars in annual taxes.

“Paul Ryan – don’t talk about Jesus after what u just did to our nation – u will go straight to hell,” O’Donnell tweeted on Monday in response to a Christmas message tweeted out by Ryan in which he mentioned the birth of Jesus Christ.

“U screwed up fake altar boy,” O’Donnell added before ending her rant with,”#JudasMuch?” referencing the Bible’s Judas, who betrayed Jesus Christ before Jesus’ crucifixion.

O’Donnell’s latest rant follows one last week where she openly tried to bribe sitting members of Congress to vote against the president’s tax reform bill, offering Sens. Jeff Flake and Susan Collins $2 million each if they voted against it.

Under 18 U.S. Code § 201, ( bribing a member of Congress is classified as a federal crime. The statute prohibits anyone from “corruptly” offering “anything of value to any public official” with the intent to influence the official or an official act.

O’Donnell claims that her offer to pay Flake and Collins was in jest, but the offer led to multiple calls for her arrest and prosecution. It is not yet known what, if any, action will be taken against O’Donnell based on her apparent bribe attempt, but if convicted, she could face up to 15 years in prison.

Meanwhile, taking the high ground, a rep for Ryan responded only by saying: “We wish everyone a Merry Christmas!” when asked to comment on O’Donnell’s tirade.






‘FAKE NEWS’: White House says reports of Ryan’s stepping down are false

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Reports which surfaced Thursday claiming Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was stepping down after the 2018 mid-term are untrue, says White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders.

“The president did speak to the speaker not too long ago and made sure that the speaker knew very clearly — and in no uncertain terms — that if that news was true, he was very unhappy with it,” Sanders said during Thursday’s White House press briefing. “The speaker assured the president that those were not accurate reports and that they look forward to working together for a long time to come.”

Reports of Ryan’s departure also seemed to catch the Speaker himself by surprise when he was asked about it during a press conference on Thursday.

“No,” Ryan replied with a smirk when asked if the claims were true.

The denials from Ryan and the White House come after a report surfaced from Politico ( which claimed Ryan told confidantes he planned on stepping down while “on top” if a proposed tax cut bill being pushed for by Republicans is passed.

“Despite several landmark legislative wins this year, and a better-than-expected relationship with President Donald Trump, Ryan has made it known to some of his closest confidants that this will be his final term as speaker,” the Politico report claimed. “He consults a small crew of family, friends and staff for career advice, and is always cautious not to telegraph his political maneuvers. But the expectation of his impending departure has escaped the hushed confines of Ryan’s inner circle and permeated the upper-most echelons of the GOP.”

“This is pure speculation. As the speaker himself said today, he’s not going anywhere any time soon,” spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in response to the Politico report .

Asked whether President Trump was caught off guard by reports of Ryan’s rumored departure, Sanders said that Trump and Ryan were both surprised “because I don’t think it was very accurate reporting.”

Calls for additional comment from Ryan’s spokesperson were not immediately returned.


MAKING THE MIDDLE CLASS GREAT AGAIN: Republicans unveil plan to slash, simplify tax code

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The GOP on Wednesday announced plans to overhaul the U.S. tax code, including sharply reduced tax rates on businesses and the middle class.

If approved, the proposed legislation ( would boost household incomes for millions of Americans by nearly doubling the standard IRS deduction used by most tax payers. The plan would increase the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for families, essentially doubling the amount of personal income that would be considered tax-free.

For mid size corporations, the plan calls for a tax rate at 20% and elimination of the corporate AMT (alternative minimum tax). The new maximum tax rate for business income of small and family-owned businesses (undefined) would be capped at 25%.

The plan would also impose a new, one-tax, lower tax on corporate profits held overseas, and create a new tax structure for overseas business operations of U.S. companies.

“My plan is for the working people and my plan is for jobs,” President Trump said of the plan on Wednesday. When asked by a reporter whether or not he would personally benefit from the proposed tax breaks the president replied,“No, I don’t benefit, I don’t benefit. In fact, very, very strongly, as you see, I think there’s very little benefit for people of wealth.”

“This has been a long time coming,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, (R)-Wis., said at a news conference on Capitol Hill where he pointed out that this type of major tax reform has not been seen in Washington in over 30 years.

“Instead of a source of pride, our tax code has become a constant source of frustration. It’s too big. It’s too complicated. It’s too expensive. Today, we are taking the next step to liberate America from our broken tax code.”

Republicans across the board praise the plan, calling the proposed legislation a giant step in the right direction for the middle class.

“We are moving forward with a unified framework that paves the way for bold, transformational tax reform—tax reform that will bring more jobs, fairer taxes and bigger paychecks,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R., Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said of the announcement. “We have a lot of work ahead. But this moment marks a major step forward in the process.”

However, despite the optimism shown by Republicans, Democrats were quick to condemn the plan, claiming it would only benefit the rich and do little to help the poor.

“As the sun rises in the east, so will you have a partisan Republican plan that cuts taxes disproportionately for the well-to-do, the very rich, the top of our economic system,” said Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.

Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, echoed Wyden’s comments.

“It’s clear from this plan that when it comes to tax reform, Republicans will always put the wealthy first,” said Neal. “After more than a year of work …. this tax plan would give big tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.”

Undeterred by the criticism from the left, Mitch McConnell, (R)-Ky, praised Repulican efforts and said the new plan is about “getting America going and growing again.”


BANNON SPEAKS: Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon tells all to 60 Minutes; Says Hillary’s ‘Not very bright’

New York, N.Y. — In an unapologetic CBS interview on Sunday night’s “60 Minutes”, former Trump strategist Steve Bannon took on everyone from his former boss to defeated Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. During his first interview since leaving the White House, Bannon raged against “pearl-clutching mainstream media,” his former West Wing colleagues and even the Roman Catholic Church.

Speaking to interviewer Charlie Rose (, Bannon said the president’s biggest enemies aren’t Democrats, but some of his fellow Republicans, and alleged that some in the GOP are “trying to nullify the 2016 election.”

“They do not want Donald Trump’s populist, economic nationalist agenda to be implemented,” Bannon told Rose. “It’s very obvious.”

“Oh, Mitch McConnell when we first met him, I mean, he was– he was– he– he said, I think in one of the first meetings– in Trump Tower with the president– as we’re wrapping up, he basically says, ‘I don’t want to hear any more of this ‘drain the swamp’ talk,’” Bannon said after Rose asked him for an example.

“He says, ‘I can’t– I can’t hire any smart people,’ because everybody’s all over him for reporting requirements and– and the pay, et cetera, and the scrutiny. You know, ‘You gotta back off that.’ The ‘drain the swamp’ thing was– is Mitch McConnell was day one did not want to– did not want to go there. Wanted us to back off.”

Asked if he wound now be “going to war” against establishment members of the GOP who are out to do the president harm, Bannon replied, “absolutely”.

But despite his obvious protection of Trump, Bannon’s former boss could not escape criticism of his own. When asked about the president’s decision to fire former FBI head James Comey, a visibly frustrated Bannon called the decision the “biggest mistake in modern political history”.

Had Comey not been fired, said Bannon, the Justice Department investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia’s election interference would not have been handed over to the special counsel Robert Meuller.

“We would not have the Mueller investigation and the breadth that clearly Mr. Mueller is going for,” said Bannon.

The chairman of Breitbart News also clarified the ongoing controversy over his leaving his role in the president’s administration, which many claimed was due to being fired.

Not true, said Bannon, saying his intent all along has been to be the president’s “wingman outside for the entire time” he is in office.

“Our purpose is to support Donald Trump,” he said. “I cannot take the fight to who we have to take the fight to when I’m an adviser to the president as a federal government employee.”

Speaking out on the president’s controversial decision to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program put in place by former president Barack Obama, Bannon warned his fellow Republicans they may have to be prepared to face a “civil war”.

“I’m worried about losing the House now because of this,” Bannon said over the battle on what to do with about 800,000 immigrants known as “Dreamers”. “If this goes all the way down to its logical conclusion, in February and March it will be a civil war inside the Republican Party and to me, doing that in the springboard of primary season for 2018 is extremely unwise.”

On that same topic, Bannon also slammed the Catholic Church for its stance on supporting the rights of illegal immigrants to stay in the United States.

“The bishops have been terrible about this,” Bannon said of church leaders.
“You know why? Because unable to really to come to grips with the problems in the church, they need illegal aliens, they need illegal aliens to fill the churches.”

On the president’s former political rival Hillary Clinton, Bannon said he could sum up his opinion of her in a single statement: “Hillary Clinton’s not very bright”.

Slamming Clinton for a speech she gave while campaigning last year attempting to connect the “alt-right” and white supremacists to the Trump campaign, Bannon called her comments “nonsense.”

“Everybody says she’s so smart, so much smarter than Donald Trump. She doesn’t really have a grasp . . . on what’s important and what’s not, and that’s what’s essential in a leader. Donald Trump has a grasp on what’s important and what’s marginalia.”





STANDING FIRM: Trump doubles down over threat to shut down government over funding of border wall

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Thursday doubled down on threats to shut down the federal government if Congress fails to pass funding to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

Trump, who heavily campaigned on a promise to build a wall along the southern border of the U.S. if elected, said building a wall is not a matter of racism, but of national security.

“We’re going to have our wall. The American people voted for immigration control. We’re going to get that wall,” Trump said to a crowd of cheering supporters at a Phoenix rally on Tuesday.

“Build the wall! Build the wall,” the crowd chanted in response.

As a Sept. 30 deadline approaches to continue funding the government, the president on Thursday reiterated his vow that, should Congress failed to pass a funding resolution, the government would shut down.

“Anybody who’s surprised by that has not been paying attention for over two years,” Trump administration aide Kellyanne Conway said told Fox News on Thursday. “So he’s telling Congress he’s building the wall, he expects the funding, and it’s up to them to work collaboratively. We hope they do.”

On Twitter, the president attacked GOP leaders, claiming they had ignored his instructions on debt ceiling legislation, which he referred to as a “mess.”

“I requested that Mitch M & Paul R tie the Debt Ceiling legislation into the popular V.A. Bill (which just passed) for easy approval. They…..didn’t do it so now we have a big deal with Dems holding them up (as usual) on Debt Ceiling approval. Could have been so easy-now a mess!” the president wrote of House Speaker Paul Ryan, (R)-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R)-Ky.

Last May, Trump’s 2018 budget proposal for border security asked for $2.6 billion, of which $1.6 billion of it would go to begin construction for a southern border wall. However, according to estimates, construction costs for the wall could reach as high as $15 billion (

In addition to building the wall, Trump campaigned heavily on the promise of making Mexico pay for it. Thus far, the Mexican government has refused to do so. As a result, the president said he will force Mexico to reimburse the U.S. for the border wall through a series of economic and trade sanctions to recoup the cost. Until then, the president says funding of the wall through the use of U.S. tax dollars is a priority and must be approved by Congress.

Democrats were quick to lash out against the president over his threats to shut down the government on Thursday, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi leading a strong opposition to his demands.

“Last night, President Trump yet again threatened to cause chaos in the lives of millions of Americans if he doesn’t get his way. Make no mistake: the President said he will purposefully hurt American communities to force American taxpayers to fund an immoral, ineffective and expensive border wall,” Pelosi said in a released statement (

“The last time Republicans shut down the government, their callous recklessness cost the American economy $24 billion and 120,000 jobs. With a Republican House, Senate and Administration, Republicans have absolutely no excuses for threatening America’s families with a destructive and pointless government shutdown,” the statement continued.

“President Trump’s multi-billion dollar border wall boondoggle is strongly opposed by Democrats and many Republicans. Democrats will stand fast against the immoral, ineffective border wall and the rest of Republicans’ unacceptable poison pill riders.”

Rep. Don Beyer (D) – Va., echoed Pelosi’s comments on Twitter.

“Trump threatens to shut down the government unless we vote to put taxpayers on the hook for a wall he promised Mexico would pay for. Nope,” Beyer tweeted.

For his part, Speaker Ryan seemed unconcerned with the President’s comments when asked about them during a stop in Oregon.

“I don’t think a government shutdown is necessary, and I don’t think most people want to see a government shutdown, ourselves included,” Ryan said.

When asked whether he thinks the president will follow through on his threats Ryan said he thinks Trump is merely “employing a strategy that he thinks is effective for him.”