Trump touts unemployment drop — but a ‘WITCH HUNT’ remains on his mind

In a single tweet Friday, President Trump simultaneously hailed news of the lowest U.S. unemployment rate since 2000 and derided the ongoing special counsel probe of possible ties between his campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.

“JUST OUT: 3.9% Unemployment. 4% is Broken! In the meantime, WITCH HUNT!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The tweet was the president’s first public comment on the unemployment rate falling to 3.9 percent — a development that Trump allies argued was evidence of his strong stewardship of the economy.

But the tweet belied the fact that the president remains irritated by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s ongoing investigation, which has dominated headlines, along with a payment made by Trump’s personal attorney to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Trump has repeatedly called the Russia probe a ‘WITCH HUNT,” saying that Mueller has no evidence of collusion and is trying to trap him into committing perjury.

The president and his aides have sought to highlight the progress Trump is making on multiple fronts, including in negotiations over the denuclearization of North Korea, while Democrats and the media focus on issues Trump claims are less important to real people.

Trump’s latest tweet came shortly before he was scheduled to leave the White House en route to Dallas, where he is speaking to an annual gathering of the National Rifle Association.

[Washington Post]

Reality

Wow, it’s almost like a trend thanks to Democratic policies.

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

Trump challenges Native Americans’ historical standing

The Trump administration says Native Americans might need to get a job if they want to keep their health care — a policy that tribal leaders say will threaten access to care and reverse centuries-old protections.

Tribal leaders want an exemption from new Medicaid work rules being introduced in several states, and they say there are precedents for health care exceptions. Native Americans don’t have to pay penalties for not having health coverage under Obamacare’s individual mandate, for instance.

But the Trump administration contends the tribes are a race rather than separate governments, and exempting them from Medicaid work rules — which have been approved in three states and are being sought by at least 10 others — would be illegal preferential treatment. “HHS believes that such an exemption would raise constitutional and federal civil rights law concerns,” according to a review by administration lawyers.

The Health and Human Services Department confirmed it rebuffed the tribes’ request on the Medicaid rules several times. Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, conveyed the decision in January, and officials communicated it most recently at a meeting with the tribes this month. HHS’ ruling was driven by political appointees in the general counsel and civil rights offices, say three individuals with knowledge of the decision.

Senior HHS officials “have made it clear that HHS is open to considering other suggestions that tribes may have with respect to Medicaid community engagement demonstration projects,” spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said, using the administration’s term for work requirements that can also be fulfilled with job training, education and similar activities.

The tribes insist that any claim of “racial preference” is moot because they’re constitutionally protected as separate governments, dating back to treaties hammered out by President George Washington and reaffirmed in recent decades under Republican and Democratic presidents alike, including the Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama administrations.

“The United States has a legal responsibility to provide health care to Native Americans,” said Mary Smith, who was acting head of the Indian Health Service during the Obama administration and is a member of the Cherokee Nation. “It’s the largest prepaid health system in the world — they’ve paid through land and massacres — and now you’re going to take away health care and add a work requirement?”

Tribal leaders and public health advocates also worry that Medicaid work rules are just the start; President Donald Trump is eyeing similar changes across the nation’s welfare programs, which many of the nearly 3 million Native Americans rely on.

“It’s very troublesome,” said Caitrin McCarron Shuy of the National Indian Health Board, noting that Native Americans suffer from the nation’s highest drug overdose death rates, among other health concerns. “There’s high unemployment in Indian country, and it’s going to create a barrier to accessing necessary Medicaid services.”

Native Americans’ unemployment rate of 12 percent in 2016 was nearly three times the U.S. average, partly because jobs are scarce on reservations. Low federal spending on the Indian Health Service has also left tribes dependent on Medicaid to fill coverage gaps.

“Without supplemental Medicaid resources, the Indian health system will not survive,” W. Ron Allen — a tribal leader who chairs CMS’ Tribal Technical Advisory Group — warned Verma in a Feb. 14 letter.

The Trump administration has allowed three states — Arkansas, Kentucky and Indiana — to begin instituting Medicaid work requirements, and at least 10 other states have submitted or are preparing applications. More than 620,000 Native Americans live in those 13 states, according to 2014 Census data. And more states could move in that direction, heightening the impact.

Some states, like Arizona, are asking HHS for permission to exempt Native Americans from their proposed work requirements. But officials at the National Indian Health Board say that may be moot, as federal officials can reject state requests.

Tribal officials say their planning process has been complicated by HHS’ refusal to produce the actual documents detailing why Native Americans can’t be exempted from Medicaid work requirements. “The agency’s official response was that they couldn’t provide that [documentation] because of ongoing, unspecified litigation,” said Devin Delrow of the National Indian Health Board. HHS did not respond to a question about why those documents have not been made available.

While the tribes say they hope to avoid a legal fight, their go-to law firm — Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker LLP — in February submitted a 33-page memo to the Trump administration, sternly warning officials that the health agency was violating its responsibilities.

“CMS has a duty to ensure that [Native Americans] are not subjected to state-imposed work requirements that would present a barrier to their participation in the Medicaid program,” the memo concludes. “CMS not only has ample legal authority to make such accommodations, it has a duty to require them.”

Meanwhile, tribal leaders say the Trump administration has signaled it may be seeking to renegotiate other aspects of the government’s relationship with Native Americans’ health care, pointing to a series of interactions they say break from tradition.

“This doesn’t seem to be isolated to the work requirements,” said McCarron Shuy of the National Indian Health Board.

The Trump administration also targeted the Indian Health Service for significant cuts in last year’s budget, though Congress ignored those cuts in its omnibus funding package last month, H.R. 1625 (115). The White House budget this year proposed eliminating popular initiatives like the decades-old community health representative program — even though tribal health officials say it is essential.

Tribal officials noted that both HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan skipped HHS’ annual budget consultation with tribal leaders in Washington, D.C., last month. The secretary’s attendance is customary; then-HHS Secretary Tom Price joined last year. However, Azar canceled at the last minute. His scheduled replacement, Hargan, fell ill, so Associate Deputy Secretary Laura Caliguri participated in his place. That aggravated tribal leaders who were already concerned about the Trump administration’s policies.

Another point of contention for the tribes is that HHS’ civil rights office — while rejecting Native Americans’ Medicaid request on grounds that they’re seeking an illegal preference — simultaneously announced new protections sought by conservative religious groups.

HHS further stressed that the administration remains committed to Native Americans’ health.

“Secretary Azar, HHS, and the Trump administration have taken aggressive action and will continue to do so to improve the health and well-being for all American Indians and Alaska Natives,” according Oakley, of HHS.

But tribal leaders and public health experts say the administration’s record hasn’t matched its rhetoric. “Work requirements will be devastating,” said Smith, the former Indian Health Service acting director. “I don’t know how you would implement it. There are not jobs to be had on the reservation.”

[Politico]

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]

Trump’s EPA quietly revamps rules for air pollution

The Trump administration has quietly reshaped enforcement of air pollution standards in recent months through a series of regulatory memos.

The memos are fulfilling the top wishes of industry, which has long called for changes to how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees the nation’s factories, plants and other facilities. The EPA is now allowing certain facilities to be subject to less-stringent regulations and is letting companies use friendlier math in calculating their expected emissions.

Environmentalists and public health advocates say the memos could greatly increase levels of air pollutants like mercury, benzene and nitrogen oxides. They accuse the EPA of avoiding the transparency and public input requirements that regulatory changes usually go through.

“All of these, individually and taken together, will result in more air pollution and less enforcement of the Clean Air Act,” said Paul Billings, senior vice president for advocacy at the American Lung Association.

“These were radical departures of current law when they were proposed a decade ago and they’re just as radical today,” he said, referring to the Bush-era efforts, some of which were unsuccessful, to make changes to EPA air programs.

But for the EPA and its supporters, the memos simply bring the agency back to what the relevant laws and regulations are meant to be.

“They address specific concerns that people have had for years, and just make it much simpler for people to comply — especially for existing [facilities] — to make sure they can maintain their plants and replace worn-out components and those types of things, without the threat of enforcement litigation,” said Jeff Holmstead, a former head of the EPA’s air pollution office under the George W. Bush administration who now represents regulated companies at the law and lobbying firm Bracewell.

Bill Wehrum, head of the air office under EPA chief Scott Pruitt, wrote two of the three EPA memos. He recused himself from the third memo, which Pruitt wrote.

The first memo, issued in December, states that the EPA will no longer “second guess” companies’ calculations of their expected pollution output after certain big projects under what is known as New Source Review. Under that program, the EPA reviews the changes made to a facility to decide whether they need to go through the same process as if the facility were newly built.

The December memo effectively means the EPA will usually not take action against a company for its calculations if they turn out to be wrong.

The second memo, issued in January, repeals a Clinton-era policy known as “once in, always in.” Under the previous policy, facilities could never be considered “minor” sources of hazardous pollution if they were already considered “major” sources, and subject to much stricter rules.

Now, facilities can be regulated as “minor” if their emissions drop enough.

The third memo allows companies to use a procedure known as “project netting” when applying for permits for major projects under the New Source Review program. That means companies can use a more industry-friendly emissions calculation when they argue that a particular project would reduce emissions.

President Trump added to the memos last week, signing one himself that formally asks the EPA to use more industry-friendly practices in enforcing the National Ambient Air Quality Standards program, a key Clean Air Act program for air quality nationwide.

John Walke, director for clean air at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the EPA is working to implement the policies the Bush administration failed to finish.

“I think Mr. Wehrum has decided this is likely a one-term administration and he’s going to devote his full resources to rolling back clean air, climate and public health protections in the time available to him,” Walke said.

“The most expedient and hasty way to accomplish those rollbacks is through the regular guidance documents that we have seen so far from EPA,” he said. “Rulemakings take time, they require public notice and input and hearings, and Mr. Wehrum and Mr. Pruitt plainly have no patience for those tedious fodders.”

Walke said that, taken together, the memos could allow polluting facilities to greatly increase their emissions.

The EPA didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The focus among the memos for environmental and health advocates is the one repealing the “once in, always in” policy, and letting “major” pollution sources reduce their emissions and be regulated as “minor” ones.

A coalition of environmental groups sued the EPA to stop the policy change, arguing that it should have gone through the full regulatory process, including analysis of its environmental impact and an opportunity for public comment. Democratic states joined in with their own lawsuit.

“Instead of prioritizing the health of hard-working Americans, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt wants to let major polluters off the hook. That is unconscionable, and it is illegal,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D).

“If the ‘Once In, Always In’ policy is rescinded, children in California and around the country — particularly those who must live near the polluting plant or factory — may grow up in an environment with tons of additional hazardous pollutants in the air they breathe. California will not allow that to happen,” Becerra said.

Two environmental groups opposed to the EPA’s move have put out recent analyses of the change, focused on specific areas of the country.

The Environmental Integrity Project looked at 12 industrial plants in the Midwest and concluded they could increase their pollution to 540,000 pounds annually, a fourfold growth.

The Environmental Defense Fund looked at the Houston area, and said that 18 facilities there could increase their emissions to 900,000 pounds a year, two and a half times current levels.

Holmstead said opponents of the Trump administration’s policy are unlikely to prevail. The Supreme Court ruled in the 2015 Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association case that federal agencies can repeal policy memos with other policy memos and don’t have to go through the full regulatory process to do so.

“I think the environmental groups are going to have a real uphill battle trying to get through court that this is somehow improper,” he said. “That really does fly in the face of the Perez decision.”

As for the increase in emissions, Holmstead said environmentalists are wrong. In many cases, the new policies will allow facilities to carry out projects that reduce emissions, or simply operate under a lower paperwork burden.

“They have yet to come up with any real-world examples of how that might happen,” Holmstead said of the scenarios in which pollution might increase. “These reforms are not going to lead to pollution increases.

“I don’t think that there will be a meaningful impact one way or another.”

[The Hill]

Trump golf club in New York asks to hire more foreign workers

One of President Trump’s golf clubs is asking permission from the federal government to hire more foreign workers.

The Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York, filed petitions with the Department of Labor seeking permission to hire foreign staffers to be servers and cooks at the property.

BuzzFeed News first reported on the petitions, which were posted on Wednesday.

The club is making the request through the H-2 visa program, which allows American companies to employ foreign workers using temporary work visas, under the condition that no U.S. workers are qualified for or want the jobs.

The property is asking to hire 14 seasonal workers, with work dates starting in mid-May and ending at the end of October. Servers would earn a minimum wage of $15.20 an hour, with the possibility of overtime pay at $22.80 an hour.

Cooks would make $14.36 an hour, with the possibility of overtime at $21.54 an hour.

Trump properties have sought permission to hire foreign workers in the past. His Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., won permission to hire 70 foreign employees last year.

Trump defended the practice during a GOP primary in 2016, saying that it was “very, very hard to get people” for the jobs.

[The Hill]

Trump taunts Jay-Z about black unemployment

President Donald Trump mused about hip-hop icon Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter on Sunday morning, asking whether someone would inform him about the black unemployment rate.

“Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!” the president wrote on Twitter.

Jay-Z was interviewed on the debut episode of “The Van Jones Show” on CNN on Saturday night. Jones asked the rapper and business mogul whether Trump’s demeanor and actions, including Trump’s reported use of the word “shithole” in reference to African and other countries, were important given the state of the economy.

It’s “not about money at the end of the day,” Jay-Z told Jones. “Money is not — money doesn’t equate to happiness. It doesn’t. That’s missing the whole point. You treat people like human beings, then — that’s the main point.”

The president is correct in saying that black unemployment is at a record low. However, the decline began under former President Barack Obama, and the rate continues to be higher than overall employment, a disparity that has endured for decades.

When asked about the reported “shithole” comment, which came in the context of a discussion of U.S immigration policy, Jay-Z said it was “really hurtful.”

“Everyone feels anger. After the anger, it’s really hurtful because he’s like looking down on a whole population of people,” Jay-Z said. “You are so misinformed because these places have beautiful people and beautiful everything.”

Comparing Trump’s reported remarks to former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s private, racist comments in 2013, Jay-Z said, “That’s just how people talk behind close doors.” In a leaked tape published by TMZ.com, Sterling criticized his mistress for being out in public with black people, telling her “not to bring them to my games.”

The NBA stripped Sterling of his ownership and banned him from the league. Despite the harsh penalties, Jay-Z said Sterling’s punishment avoided tough conversations, which in his eyes, can lead to someone like Trump.

“You have sprayed perfume on the trash can. What you do, when you do that is the bugs come and you spray something, and you create a superbug because you don’t take care of the problem,” he said. “You don’t take the trash out, you keep spraying whatever over it to make it acceptable. As those things grow, you create a superbug.”

That superbug, Jay-Z said, now resides in the Oval Office.

“And then now we have Donald Trump, the superbug.”

[Politico]

Reality

Donald Trump and his allies keep bringing up the low black unemployment rate, as a sign that he isn’t racist.

The black unemployment rate has been steadily falling since 2010 when Barack Obama turned the economy around from one of the worst recessions this country has ever seen, caused by Republican policies of tax cuts and deregulation.

Trump Disbands Business Councils Before They Disband Themselves. Takes Credit.

Some of America’s top CEOs were preparing to issue a statement criticizing the president — so he effectively fired them from a White House council first.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced he was ending two business advisory councils amid a stampede of defections and after one of the groups had decided to disband over the president’s much-criticized response to the weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Va.

A person close to Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum said the group had already told the White House it had resolved to disband and condemn the president’s Tuesday claims that “both sides” were responsible for violence at a white supremacist and neo-Nazi gathering and that some “very fine people” were among the marchers defending a Confederate statue.

The group in a statement presented the decision as mutual with Trump, though EY CEO Mark Weinberger tweeted Wednesday that “we made the right call.” Members of the separate Manufacturing Council — which had already lost eight members this week — were due to hold their own call Wednesday.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!” Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, ending the debate.

The split likely won’t change Trump’s agenda — the long-time real estate developer still intends to slash corporate taxes and regulations. And the White House said a separate group of government officials called the American Technology Council, which met with top Sillicon Valley executives and Trump in June, will keep working. Still, the break-up of the two high-profile CEO groups shows increasing pressure on business leaders to distance themselves from the White House and could hurt Trump’s standing with the pro-business, establishment wing of voters and donors in the Republican Party.

“There is no room for equivocation here: the evil on display by these perpetrators of hate should be condemned and has no place in a country that draws strength from our diversity and humanity,” JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said in a statement Wednesday after Trump disbanded the Strategic and Policy Forum to which he belonged. Dimon had weighed in on the events in Charlottesville over the weekend but had not criticized the president directly.

“It is a leader’s role, in business or government, to bring people together, not tear them apart,” he said.

Executives historically have clamored to belong to White House business councils, which give them an opportunity to pitch the president behind closed doors.

Merck’s Kenneth Frazier — the first CEO to announce he was leaving Trump’s manufacturing council this week — repeatedly pressed Trump in private on reforming tax laws. Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris was initially granted a private sit-down with EPA head Scott Pruitt as the agency weighed a key regulation, though the meeting was trimmed down to a brief greeting.

In return, the executives served as surrogates for a White House trying to sell its pro-business message. Council members regularly flanked the president at a series of announcements and executive order signings. Executives like Campbell’s Soup CEO Denise Morrison told reporters they were optimistic about Trump’s effect on the economy. Dow donated about $1 million for the president’s inauguration.

The corporate backlash started Monday with Merck’s Frazier — the only African-American CEO on Trump’s manufacturing council — who said he was quitting “to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.” Within a day, the CEOs of Under Armour and Intel said they were leaving too.

The president on Tuesday called them “grandstanders” on Twitter and lashed out at Merck specifically. He claimed the defections wouldn’t hurt him.

“For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning. However, no other CEOs publicly stepped forward to join the council, and five more leaders said they were leaving.

On Tuesday — before Trump’s news conference but after he took heat Saturday for blaming “many sides” for violence in Charlottesville — Morrison of Campbell’s said she planned to remain on the manufacturing council. Social media campaigns in response called the company a “Soup Nazi” in reference to the television show Seinfeld; another circulated altered photos of fake Campbell’s products called “Cream of Complicity” and “Swastika Soup.”

On Wednesday, Morrison said she couldn’t serve on the council any longer. “Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville,” Morrison said in a statement.

Others also flipped their stances. “The President’s most recent statements equating those who are motivated by race-based hate with those who stand up against hatred is unacceptable and has changed our decision to participate in the White House Manufacturing Advisory Council,” Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said on Wednesday — less than 24 hours after telling reporters he planned to stay on the council so J&J would have a voice in high-level discussions.

Activists said the overnight campaigns and threats of boycotts motivated executives. Progressive groups have also pushed payment processing companies to cut ties with hate groups, collecting thousands of signatures on petitions, though Discover, Visa and Mastercard told POLITICO they had limited ability to force banks to cut off merchants conducting legal businesses.

“The collapse of the CEO councils is not due to an outbreak of conscience,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Instead, it is public pressure — pressure for the CEOs to evidence a measure of decency — that is driving them off the councils. That’s not exactly the most inspiring example of moral leadership. No profiles in courage here.”

Silicon Valley executives such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Apple’s Tim Cook also met with Trump in June through the administration’s American Technology Council, which is technically made up of government employees. Still, activists like Weissman are calling on the affiliated executives to condemn Trump’s comments too.

Until this week, Trump had spent months praising the same executives who are now rebuking him.

“I want to thank these great business leaders,” Trump said in February, when Merck’s Frazier, J&J’s Gorsky, Campbell’s Morrison and other CEO advisers joined him for a signing ceremony on an executive order on regulatory reform. “They’re helping us sort out what’s going on, because … it’s been disastrous for business. This is going to be a place for business to do well and to thrive.”

[Politico]

During Made in America Week, White House Defends Imported Trump Products

As the White House kicks off its Made in America Week, shining a spotlight on products manufactured domestically, President Donald Trump’s spokesman was forced Monday to defend the fact that goods bearing the Trump name are frequently produced abroad.

Made in America Week — continuing a trend of themed weeks, such as Infrastructure Week and Energy Week — saw the White House hosting a product showcase featuring a variety of items manufactured in the U.S., the president delivering a speech encouraging domestic manufacturing and a ceremony commissioning the latest American-built Navy aircraft carrier.

But asked at Monday’s press briefing about whether the Trump Organization or Ivanka Trump brands would commit “to stop manufacturing wares abroad,” press secretary Sean Spicer shifted the focus to Trump’s attempts to cultivate other companies’ domestic production efforts.

“I think what’s really important is the president’s agenda — regulatory relief and tax relief — are focused on trying to make sure that all companies can hire here, can expand here, can manufacture here,” said Spicer.

On the matter of Trump-branded items, he added, “I can tell you that in some cases, there are certain supply chains or scalability that may not be available in this country.”

Questions about Trump products’ creation and assembly abroad have dogged the businessman-turned-president since first announcing his America-first ambitions at the launch of his candidacy for president over two years ago.

During a memorable campaign stop in August 2016, Democratic rival Hillary Clinton held up a Trump-branded tie made China as she assailed the Republican nominee for suits stitched in Mexico, furniture created in Turkey and picture frames made in India.

But asked at Monday’s press briefing about whether the Trump Organization or Ivanka Trump brands would commit “to stop manufacturing wares abroad,” press secretary Sean Spicer shifted the focus to Trump’s attempts to cultivate other companies’ domestic production efforts.

“I think what’s really important is the president’s agenda — regulatory relief and tax relief — are focused on trying to make sure that all companies can hire here, can expand here, can manufacture here,” said Spicer.

On the matter of Trump-branded items, he added, “I can tell you that in some cases, there are certain supply chains or scalability that may not be available in this country.”

Questions about Trump products’ creation and assembly abroad have dogged the businessman-turned-president since first announcing his America-first ambitions at the launch of his candidacy for president over two years ago.

During a memorable campaign stop in August 2016, Democratic rival Hillary Clinton held up a Trump-branded tie made China as she assailed the Republican nominee for suits stitched in Mexico, furniture created in Turkey and picture frames made in India.

Trump shrugged off the criticism during the campaign, telling ABC News that Clinton didn’t need to raise the issue because he readily took ownership of the foreign items, chalking up the decisions as a financial one, given the costs of U.S. manufacturing. He pointed to the nature of the economy and blamed then-President Barack Obama’s policies for forcing his hand.

“Unfortunately, my ties are made in China, and I will say this, the hats — Make America great again — I searched long and hard to find somebody that made the hats in this country,” Trump told ABC News in June 2016.

“I pay a lot more money. It is a very hard thing, and it’s because they devalue their currency,” he added, referring to alleged Chinese efforts to make it less expensive to buy goods from the country.

Trump partially chalked up the production imbalance to “unfair trade practices” as he spoke at the product showcase Monday afternoon. Touting job creation in the manufacturing sector since he took office, he promised that the country would “once again rediscover our heritage as a manufacturing nation.”

“We’re here to celebrate American manufacturing and showcase all the products of the 50 states made in the U.S.A,” he said. “Remember in the old days, they used to have ‘Made in the U.S.A.’? ‘Made in America’ but ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ — we’re going to start doing that again. We’re going to put that brand on our product because it means it’s the best.”

Comments about the Trump Organization’s business efforts by the president and his advisers have waned since his election, particularly as critics decry what they view as potential conflicts of interest. Spicer expressed discomfort in fielding the query on the topic Monday.

“Again, it’s not appropriate me for to stand up here and comment about a business, and I believe that’s a little out of bounds,” he said, as the line of questioning wound down at the press briefing. “But again, I would go back to the president’s broader goal, which is to create investment here, to bring back the manufacturing base.”

[ABC News]

Trump Makes Up 45,000 New Mining Jobs

President Donald Trump boasted Monday that the nation added 45,000 mining jobs recently — but there’s scant data to back that up. One thing there is evidence for: Only 800 coal mining jobs have been created during his tenure.

“In Pennsylvania, two weeks ago, they opened a mine, the first mine that was opened in decades….Well, we picked up 45,000 mining jobs in a very short period of time,” Trump said during an event pegged to American manufacturing. “Everybody was saying, ‘Well, you won’t get any mining jobs,’ we picked up 45,000 mining jobs. Well, the miners are very happy with Trump and with Pence, and we’re very proud of that.”

President Donald Trump boasted Monday that the nation added 45,000 mining jobs recently — but there’s scant data to back that up. One thing there is evidence for: Only 800 coal mining jobs have been created during his tenure.

“In Pennsylvania, two weeks ago, they opened a mine, the first mine that was opened in decades….Well, we picked up 45,000 mining jobs in a very short period of time,” Trump said during an event pegged to American manufacturing. “Everybody was saying, ‘Well, you won’t get any mining jobs,’ we picked up 45,000 mining jobs. Well, the miners are very happy with Trump and with Pence, and we’re very proud of that.”

During the campaign, Trump repeatedly vowed to bring back coal jobs and attacked Hillary Clinton for turning her back on the industry.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates there are roughly 50,800 coal mining jobs nationwide, 800 of which have been added since Trump took office. (The six months before that, under President Barack Obama’s administration, 1,300 coal jobs were added.)

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard Trump’s numbers. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt made a similar claim speaking about all mining and logging jobs earlier this year, earning a PolitiFact ruling of “mostly false.”

BLS data estimates the nation has added roughly 41,500 new mining and logging jobs in the first six months of 2017, but just 1,000 of them are mining (not including oil and gas mining jobs, which account for another couple thousand.)

The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The coal industry often creates spinoff jobs as mining towns need doctors, schools and diners, for instance. There are notably many truck drivers, electricians and other professionals working with coal companies whose livelihood depends on coal production, but these jobs are not counted in federal BLS data on coal mining, according to Terry Headley, communications director for the American Coal Council.

The Pennsylvania mine opening that Trump touted on Monday is expected to create 70 jobs.

[NBC News]

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