Beltway Insider: Trump Talks 2020; Mueller Pushes Onward to Jared, Ivanka; Hicks Out; Syria’s Civil War; Nor’Easter

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President Donald Trump, still stinging from his multiple first year missteps and a continuing collusion investigation, officially announced his intent to seek a second term for the Office of the President for the United States.

According to Gallup, President Trump job approval, over the past week, decreased by four percentage points to 36% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President increased by four percentage points to 59%.

Trump Talks 2020 Re-Election Bid

President Donald Trump, whom historians will rate as possibly the worst president in history, has chosen this week, the thirteenth month from his inauguration, to announce his intent to seek a second term, a decision he made on the same day he was inaugurated January 20, 2017.

Trump officially announced his intent to seek a second term, filing the necessary paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission, on the day of his inauguration in January 2017.

Since that time he has faced continued scrutiny over his revolving door White House employment, a collusion investigation which has resulted in key members of his team indicted for a number of charges, his nepotism efforts short changed as his son-in-law and daughter are now both under investigation, and finally his faithful Communications Director resigning after a brutal public beat down by the President.

With rumors in this week alone that an additional three members of his inner circle, National Security Advisor HR McMaster, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who serves as White House Advisor, are expected to be the next to exit Trump's White House.

For the President, eliminating quickly those who are unable to perform the duties and tasks under his authoritarian leadership makes perfect sense from a business standpoint and is often considered best for both employer and employee.

The White House is not a business and those dedicated to serve are not the typical employees which is another reason this Administration is experiencing such high turnover rates.

Even as Trump is facing additional criticism for his historically early announcement as there are 974 days before the 2020 Presidential election, the idea of a permanent campaign mode is not unprecedented, as William "Bill" Clinton, also continued campaign mode after his election.

Needless to say, the obstacles are not daunting to Trump and he has already began to build his re-election war chest ending 2017 with nearly $22million in cash.

Trump Hires Digital Guru to Ramp Up 2020 Campaign

While many citizens are still adjusting to the idea that he was elected the first time around, the former New York State businessman has brought on Texan Brad Parscale, touted as a digital guru, to be his Campaign Manager.

Parscale, not the White House or Fifth Avenue inner circle, designed websites for the Trump Organization and assisted in developing a digital strategy for the Trump businesses including Trump's favorite communication tool, Twitter.

Rounding out his re-election committee are Michael Glassner, Campaign Committee Manger, John Pence, Campaign Committee Deputy Executive Director and Bradley Crate, Campaign Treasurer.

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Trump Attends Gridiron Club Dinner

In a surprise move, President Trump agreed to attend the Gridiron Club dinner putting aside his troubles and roasting himself.

A few of the President's Jokes - Courtesy of CNN: "My staff was concerned that I couldn't do self-deprecating humor," Trump said. "And I told them not to worry, nobody does self-deprecating humor better than I do."

On Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recusal from the Russia investigation: "I offered him a ride over, and he recused himself. What are you gonna do? But that's OK."

On the "failing New York Times": "You, The New York Times, are an icon. I'm a New York icon, you're a New York icon. And the only difference is, I still own my buildings."

On White House departures: "So many people have been leaving the White House. It's actually been really exciting and invigorating 'cause you want new thought. So, I like turnover. I like chaos. It really is good. Now the question everyone keeps asking is, 'Who is going to be the next to leave? Steve Miller or Melania?'

Hope Hicks, Trump's Communications Director Resigns

Hope Hicks, President Trump's loyal Communications Director unexpectantly resigned this week. Her resignation was a surprise as she had recently been given high marks across most major media outlets for her handling of the Rob Porter scandal.

Hicks, who was also rumored to be personally involved with the President, and from her background the personal involvement perception could be fueled by her long standing employment with Ivanka Trump's Fashion line.

In recent days Hicks has testified before the Congressional Investigative Committee, where, for nine hours, she was questioned, and finally admitted telling "white lies" on behalf of the president.

It was also rumored that she was heavily berated by the president presumable for her testimony as one month prior he was praising her for her handling of the Porter debacle.

There is also the possibility that many of the young staffers, who have held top positions with little political experience were placed in those positions to take the fall when the bottom fell out. As non-political entities with little or no background in party politics and no political career or aspiration, injury could be compared to rules of anaimal survival. The weakest rarely do. 

Jared and Ivanka Next to Depart

Special Counsel Robert A. Mueller, who was appointed to investigate any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, is taking a closer look at the activities of Jared Kushner, the son-in-law- of the President.

Kushner, who recently lost access to confidential White House documents and matters when his Top Secret Security Clearance was downgraded, has become the focal point with Mueller expanding his investigation beyond Kushner's many Russian contacts to include those in Qatar and the Emirates and is probing any financial and business dealings he may have engaged or initiated.

"Jared is still a valued member of the administration and he's going to continue to focus on the work that he's been doing, and we're going to continue pushing forward on that front as well," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.  

Ivanka Trump, Special Advisor to the President, and also known as Mrs. Jared Kushner, is also under scrutiny her for a recent $360million dollar Vancouver deal that is reportedly under investigation by the FBI. She is also facing more intense scrutiny for a controversial Trump Tower meeting during the campaign with a Russian lawyer.

All reports, rumblings, murmurs and whispers indicate Ivanka is next on Mueller's list and could and will face indictments if she played any part at all in involving, assisting, initiating, or insinuating favorable consequences, conclusions or outcomes to any Russian citizen or entity for the interference or meddling, in the 2016 Election.

Heavy Bombing in Syria's Civil War

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has increased bombing raids in Ghouta, the opposition held enclave near the capital of Damascus, causing those who have stayed in country during the eight year civil war to flee further into the countryside.

In what has been called the Scorched Earth Campaign, Assad, who has the support of Russia and Iran, has used all means to crush his citizens including outlawed chemical weapons, which violate the United Nations Proliferation of Life treaty, massive and unmerciful bombing campaigns, deprivation of humanitarian aid, food, water, shelter and medicine in his effort to bring the people under control.

President Trump, in separate calls with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, "agreed with President Trump that the Syrian regime, and its Russian and Iranian supporters, should immediately and fully implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2401, which calls for an immediate ceasefire across Syria." 

"The White House, in its strongest accusations of Moscow's complicity in the offensive to date, said on Sunday that Russian military aircraft carried out at least 20 daily bombing missions in Damascus and eastern Ghouta between Feb. 24 and Feb. 28. Russia has gone on to ignore (a U.N. ceasefire's) terms and to kill innocent civilians under the false auspices of counter-terrorism operations," the White House said in a statement, saying the Russian aircraft had taken off from Syria's Humaymim Airfield," Reuters reported.

Syria and The Last of the Arab Spring

In the Spring of 2010, unprecedented surges for democracy began toppling governments throughout the Middle East and Arab Peninsula, by the end of what would be labeled the Arab Spring seventeen nations, from Egypt to Tunisia, Libya, and Yemen, would have seen the governments fall and democracy prevail.

The belief was that Syria, also one of the nations, would fall and the dictional hand of Bashar al-Assad, who became the first in line for succession after his brother was killed in a car accident, would end and Assad would remove himself from office.

Assad, whose father ruled Syria from 1971 until 2000, refused to leave the position and chose to fight against the uprising. Soon Syria would be the only Arab Spring nation to enter into a full out, lengthy civil war.

The Cost of War

For Assad, who believes he is acting on behalf of the people of his nation, the cost of war has resulted in his global ostracizing. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who insisted his dealings with Assad were simply fulfilling business deals as Syria often purchases weapons and aircraft from Russia, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are his only allies.

With Russian still excluded from the G8, left over penalties from the Obama Administration for violating the territorial sovereignty of the Ukraine, and Iran, who has determined the U.S. Iranian Nuclear Deal is no longer a viable option for his nation, Assad has aligned himself with two nations who essentially are enemies of the United States and its allies.

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For the people of Syria, those who believe in the war and those who don't, the cost of war equates to being forced to flee in the middle of the night to escape, it means leaving everything, taking only what  can be carried, it means mass migration, with many dying in the process. It means refugee camps, some pristine other shanty towns, it means overfilled, dangerous, vessels, capsizing, and drowning victims carried in, on the beaches of Greece, with the tide.

For those who stayed, cities such as Aleppo, have become uninhabitable, scorched earth shells of bombed out buildings, no electricity, no water, no food, children realizing that surviving one bombing raid doesn't mean you'll survive the next one.

Eastern Seaboard Faces Catastrophic Nor'Easter

Over the weekend states along the eastern seaboard, from Washington D.C to Boston faced a catastrophic Nor'easter with high, damaging, winds slamming into region with Catagory 1 Hurricane strength.

The tiny Island of Nantucket off Massachusetts' Cape Cod, where the winds were considered the highest, was pummeled with 94mph wind strength and higher gusts.

More than 1million people were effected by massive power outages, The Nor'Easter brought flooding, in parts of Boston, as a full moon naturally increases the level of the tide, brought a tidal surge 14feet above normal, sent wind whipped waves crashing over barriers; nearly three foot of snow in some parts of upstate New York, toppled trees and power lines crippling the heavily used New York City transportation system.

Commuters in New York City who travel to Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut and even Pennsylvania were stranded, as power lines were snapped falling across the train tracks of the heavily used Long Island Railroad.

Up to 3000 flight were cancelled. Those who arrived on the tail end of the storm were telling ghastly stories of violent turbulence, with passengers strapped in and vomiting. Stranded passengers, fared as best they could. Amtrak also suspended service virtually bringing to a halt one of the most used transportation corridors in the nation on a Friday night. The deadly storm has killed at least six.

While cleanup for this past weekend storm likely to run into the billions, a significnt storm gathering streangth is heading up the eastern seaboard with an expected direct hit on Manhattan and the tri-state region. Heavy winds will again be a problem, additional snow totals especially on the east end of Long Island with rain, freezing rain, slush and a wintery mix expected inland.

When that passes on Wednesday, hopefully, it will be the final winter storm of the season. 

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