Risk Increases – Healthy Cash Reserve a “Must”

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 21,812
S&P 500:2,444
Nasdaq  Comp.:6,2787
Russell 2000: 1,369
Thursday,  Aug  24, 2017   9:06 a.m.
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DANGER SIGNS:

       This market can plunge at any point.  It is vulnerable for the following reasons.  It may get another push up as a result of optimistic comments coming out of the Jackson Hole economic symposium, or renewed hope that tax reform can be crafted before year end.
        While I don’t think President Trump would veto the spending bill if it does not include funding for his wall, there will be heated debate on that issue and others before the September debt ceiling deadline.
        Overvalued markets continue in a state of vulnerability until something triggers a correction.  We are looking at the prospect for a 12% + correction, possibly a bear market (20%+) depending on how dysfunctional the Trump administration and Congress gets. September should be rough, in fact, the next 12 months should be divisive and turbulent.
        Especially disturbing is the possibility of a flash crash type plunge, a straight down 10% – 15% plunge that gives no one a chance to raise cash.  Most institutions are in a automatic pilot buy mode.  All would get a sell signal at the same time, ergo no buying support and heavy selling.
        The downside here is far greater than the upside. For that reason, a 70% cash position is warranted. Of course that depends on one’s tolerance for risk.  My point is preserve capital for less precarious and uncertain times.
>this market ran into selling when good Q2 earnings were announced

>the transportation index is so much weaker than the industrials
>The market was overvalued before the November election, much more so now.
>at 98 months, our economic expansion exceeds the average of  62 months for 9 cycles going back 60 years to 1957. Eight of the last nine recessions have occurred under a Republican President.
>at 101 months, this bull market is more than 3 times longer than the average of 30 months going back to 1957. To date, its gain of 267% is more than 3 times the average bull gain since 1957 (82%).
>decisions on Wall Street are mostly based on bullish algorithms. I doubt any are programmed to factor in President Trump’s divisiveness, unpredictability, and unsuitability for the office he holds. If most switch to a more cautious buying strategy, worse yet to a SELL, the market will get hammered.
>the public is still oblivious to the dangers of the dysfunction of this administration. Congress refuses to accept  reality. The New York Times has documented more than 1,000 falsehoods  by President Trump since taking office January 20. Is anyone “thinking” ?  If so, what are they thinking ?
>as a nation, we are as divided as during the Vietnam War, but in a worse way. Then it was Americans vs. the U.S. government.  Now it is American vs. American, and the biggest contributor is President Trump. Confidence drives the economy and stock market, not divisiveness.
>no one on Wall Street, in the media, or many of the blogs is talking MUELLER.  The outcome of the Mueller investigation could be the worst scandal ever.   
      How big is the elephant in the room. Why do so few see him ? 
>Even with control of the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court and Fox News, the Republicans cannot legislate. With Bannon’s exit and position of power at Breitbart News, the government will become even more divided and dysfunctional.
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WHAT COULD CHANGE MY MIND ?
>Trump must go !  He will not change, grow in the job, etc. – an absolute human wrecking ball.  He must be impeached, removed from office by way of Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, or forced to resign.
     The latter is most likely, possibly as part of a deal struck with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to keep him and/or people close to him out of jail.
>If the outcome of the Mueller investigation comes up with nothing of significance, the market will jump sharply but then sell off, because we would  still be left with Trump.
>If, somehow, Congress can pull off tax reform, significant deregulation and a big spend on the infrastructure within a year, the major correction or bull market top I am warning about here will be delayed. Just the perception it can be done can help stabilize it.
>if Trump is suddenly removed from office the market would plunge briefly then rebound.

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       This is one of those situations that would be so 20-20 visible in hindsight.  All the signs were there, people will ask why didn’t they see it ?
       One of the lessons I learned early on many years ago is “it is better to be wrong with money in your pocket, than in stocks.” It can take years to recover losses sustained in a bear market.  A 50% loss takes a double to recover from, and doubles are hard to pull off. A 50% loss occurred in the 1973 – 1974 and 2007 – 2009 bear markets.
        It is hard to sell at the top when everything look great. I is equally hard to buy at the bottom when all the news is bad. In late stage bull markets, it is wise to have a cash reserve.                                                                                                                                                    
        This is déjà vu for me taking me back to February and early March 2009 when I urgently blogged for readers to get ready to buy at a time I was fully aware no one would listen – after a 50% drop, few had any interest in my March 10, 2009 Special Bulletin “BUY” the day the DJIA hit its bear market low of  6,440.
       There is a difference between saying something and putting it in print. The latter cannot be denied. If wrong, it cuts deeply.
        Bull markets tend to go to slightly greater extremes than this one in terms of rank speculation and public participation.
TODAY

        The market will jump at the open, but there is no room for a rally failure. That would indicate sellers are using any strength to unload positions. The Street will be looking to the Jackson Hole economic symposium for a boost.  Talk of a 15% corporate tax rate has resurfaced. If it looks like it has a chance, a correction will be delayed !  In this divisive environment, that’s a big “if.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:21,756;S&P 500:2,437; Nasdaq Comp.:6,271
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:21,877;S&P 500:2,452;Nasdaq Comp.:6,286

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CORPORATE EARNINGS
(updated Aug. 18 , 2017)
Factset
      Q2 earnings growth  is projected at +10.2%,up from 6.5% at June 30. Q3 is projected at +4.2%, and Q4 at +5.3%. For 2017 as a whole growth is projected at a plus 9.4%.  Currently, the P/E on forward  earnings is 17.4 x. That compares with a 10-year average P/E of 14.0.
Note: These numbers change frequently. Factset.com is well worth a visit, it breaks its projections down by industry
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MY TECHNICAL ANALYSIS  of the 30 DJIA Companies
:  (UPDATED 7/14/17)
      On occasion, I technically analyze each of the 30 DJIA stocks  for a reasonable risk, a more extreme risk, and an upside potential over the near-term. I add the results of each, then divide by the new DJIA “divisor” (0.14602) to get the DJIA for those levels. This gives me an internal check on the DJIA itself, especially if certain higher priced stocks are distorting the averages.
      As of  Aug 19, 2017,  a reasonable risk is 21,547 extreme risk is 21,337. Near-term upside potential 21,856
 
POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
NOTE: Due to the seriousness of political developments, I find it necessary to retain the following issues here, even though it gets cumbersome, since past commentary  continues to be confirmed by unfolding events.  Prior to January, I have never injected my personal political feelings into a stock market blog.  What is happening has the potential to adversely impact stock prices.
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NO ONE CONCERNED ABOUT MUELLER ANY MORE ?
       Whether the emperor is wearing clothes or not wearing clothes is not the point.  Talk in the media of Trump running for re-election in 2020 takes bizarre to new highs.  We will be lucky to survive this presidency. None of the media is prefacing its projection of Trump’s  immediate future with speculation about the findings of the Mueller investigation.
       Conclusions arising out of the investigation may not give Congress grounds for impeachment, and even if it did, there is no assurance Congress would do so, unless Trump is such a huge liability he jeopardizes control of the House and Senate.
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APHGHANISTAN: Last night’s speech about Afghanistan was more about trying to look presidential, than setting a new military strategy.
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PHONEIX:
Tonight’s rally may wipe out anything he accomplished last night, as Trump addresses a rally at the Convention Center. It could get hot, especially if he announces his pardon of Joe Arpaio, former sheriff of Maricopa County, recently convicted of criminal contempt for racial profiling. All the protest groups will be there. Is this the one where shots are fired ?  
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CATHARSIS IMMINENT: I DON’T THINK WE AS A NATION WILL GET THROUGH THIS QUICKLY OR WITHOUT A LOT OF PAIN
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Trump, Bannon Gone By 2019  (Investor’s first read:  3/21/2017)
Friday, news came confirming my March  blog that Bannon was ousted, though a bit ahead of schedule. Why not Stephen Miller, another caustic right wing extremist and Breitbart supporter ?  TRUMP now  a short-timer ?  Still think he’ll be by 2019.

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THE BIGEST RISK FACING AMERICA IS:
The inability of Americans to mentally and emotionally process information accurately, objectively and without bias to arrive at logical and well balanced conclusions.
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ALL THE SIGNS ARE THERE FOR EVERYONE TO SEE. President Trump’s narcissistic personality disorder makes him UNFIT for the Presidency. We are at risk !
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LOOOOOOOOSING IT ! 
President Trump just disbanded the Manufacturing Council and the  Strategy &Policy Forum after 11 business leaders withdrew in protest of his support for the Alt-Right’s racist views. In truth, I think it’s more than that.  These leaders of the corporate world do not want to have any association with this very unpredictable, morally bankrupt president. This Narcissism 101. They see it for what it is and are trying to send a message – “Wake up, we have a problem – a big one !”
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The 24/7 news cycle has adversely impacted the accuracy of reporting.
The scramble to get the story first does not give reporters a chance to double check accuracy and report stories in depth. This is where print media has an edge,  unfortunately the news is old before their publication hits the street.
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917 HATE  GROUPS IN USA (Southern Poverty Law Center)
Go to: splcenter.org/hate-map for to see if you have any in your backyard. BUT, not all are what you may think. Included: anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim, black separatist, Christian identity, general hate, KKK, neo-confederate, neo-nazi, racist skinhead, holocaust denial, radical traditional Catholicism, white nationalist. That should make you feel better. I hate liver, but that’s beside the point.
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TRUMP LEGITIMIZES THE ALT-RIGHT

Yesterday Trump legitimized the Nazis, racist, white supremacy, and hate groups in general, but that should not surprise, three of his top advisers are Alt-Right graduates of Breitbart. What’s more, he loves to pit one person (group) against another, he craves it, just like an ancient Roman emperor, the ultimate in divisiveness.                                                                                                                       
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GIG ECONOMY: Temporary positions,freelance and independent contractors will account for an estimated 40% of workforce by 2020 work (what is.com)
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DeVos Unchecked in pursuit of Trump deregulation agenda and public funding of private schools, you know, the ones only a few can afford.
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DONT READ THIS AT BEDTIME ! – Radical right wing broadcaster, Sinclair Broadcast Group,  is on track to reach 70% of US households in its effort to match Fox News for neo-conservative impact with its pro-Trump media fake news. (Mother Jones 8/15/17)
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WILL CONGRESS IMPEACH TRUMP IF MUELLER’S PROBE JUSTIFIES IT ?
Only if Vice President Pence gets off scot free, giving them a fall back position.

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     CLOSET BIGOTS

Back from a week in Maine without my computer. Charlottesville was not the bombshell I warned about before leaving, however investors must be aware one or more are hovering.
    If white supremacists, Nazis, KKK, anti-semites, and haters of people of color think their ideas have a chance of developing a meaningful  following, let them watch people at the Newark airport for two hours. 
    My rough count put two-thirds of the people as people of color.  The terminal was packed, but everyone got along. Maybe all the trouble makers were in Charlottesville.
    What concerns me more than those out demonstrating are the
closet bigots. They talk equality and profess tolerance, but inwardly condone the behavior we saw in Virginia.
     Why should anyone be surprised if President Trump was slow to take on the white nationalists ? 
      He craves conflict between others, the kind of mentality that watches cock fights, dog fights. Yet he was too cowardly to serve in the military, getting 5 deferments during the Vietnam War.
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ALT-RIGHT (Investor’s first read Jan. 27, 2017)       

     The Alt-Right has been associated with nationalism, racism, xenophobia, which may well be true for some of its followers, but basically they are  well to the right of  neocons, and America does not want to go there, it isn’t who most of us are. 

        Some will call the current trend in our government fascist or totalitarianism, autocracy, even corporatocracy, kratocracy, or plutocracy, however, I see it simply as a rush to secure total control through rigging voting districts (gerrymandering) and voter suppression, repeatedly disseminating lies and misinformation often enough so people accept it as the truth, the manipulation of people’s priorities and simply taking advantage of their lack of information and inability to understand what is best for them. 

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TAX REFORM

An August 4 – 9  Bloomberg poll of economists reveals 28 of 39 polled expect Congress to pass tax cut legislation by November 2018. Unfortunately this action is not expected to add more than  0.2 percentage points to the GDP, and that growth is forecast  to only slightly exceed  that this year’s 2.1 percent, this forecast coming from 71 economists.  Worse yet, 2019 is projected to fall back to the 2 percent level.
     Right now, it is any one’s guess.
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DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN IN SEPTEMBER ? Expect brinkmanship –
a real cliff hanger and lots of scary press about the risk of default. Actually the debt ceiling was reached in March, bills are being paid using accounting tricks (used many times in the past). The bills that would come due and at risk of not being paid if we defaulted are ones already incurred.

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WAR – North Korea
      Sen. Lindsey Graham says a U.S. military strike of N. Korea is possible
,* that we cannot allow “this madman [Kim Jong-un] to have a missile to hit America.” His Tuesday, Aug 1, interview on the Today Show, follows N. Korea’s ICBM test days ago. Graham also said the Chinese  can stop such an attack. While such a war would take place on North Korean soil, South Korea  would incur huge casualties from N. Korean artillery.
OBSERVATION: Since January, I have warned Trump would put the U.S. on a war footing (see below) for political reasons, namely the mid-terms. Now I am convinced it is front burner because the Meuller investigations are  closing in.  
      Nuclear deterrence has been effective since the 1950s, for the obvious reasons.  The countries with the largest nuclear arsenals  and estimated warheads include United States (7,500), Russia (7,200), France (300), China (250), UK (215), Pakistan (110), India (100),Israel (80).
       The uncertainty of war would JOLT the market, especially if it disrupted  trade alliances. Reportedly, it would only take 33 minutes for a ballistic missile to reach the U.S.. If detonated high over the center of the U.S., it would cause an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which would shut down “everything”  A-to-Z indefinitely.
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WILL TRUMP MOVE SESSIONS to Dept. of Homeland Security *to appease conservatives, and open up the slot of Attorney General for him to pick his replacement who may be able to  and possibly impede Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, worse yet fire him ?  But Mueller, can only be fired for cause (dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause ?(?), violation of Department policy).
       If Trump fires Mueller, it may trigger  the revival of the US Office of the Independent Counsel, which reports to Congress.
       I THINK TRUMP WILL TRY AND WORRY ABOUT THE REPURCUSSIONS LATER.
       When Rosenstein appointed Mueller, he gave him plenty of leeway to investigate ”any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated” with Trump’s campaign, but also to examine “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation, including perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses”
       Wall Street and Congress clearly cannot ignore that, since it really smacks of “consciousness of guilt,”  small wonder why Trump is exploring the possibility of  PARDONING HIMSELF AND FAMILY.  Holy smoke, is this really happening ?
       Portions of this were provided by Businessinsider.com.
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GENERAL JOHN KELLY is Trump’s new chief of staff, replacing Reince Priebus, the goal being to establish some stability and discipline in the White House. 
     
I think, “someone” wanted a strong person between  our irrational and unpredictable President and the ability to initiate a nuclear attack on another nation. Reportedly, Trump would not press a red button on  desk (that’s for a diet coke) and it’s not the “football” that follows him everywhere, which a device used to confirm his identity via a “challenge code” with the National Military Command (Pentagon). Reportedly, the launch process involves more than pressing a button, takes several minutes, and  involves consultation with civilian and military officials, but the decision is the president’s. If under attack, the President can respond in seconds.  That’s the REAL REASON for Kelly – in my opinion.

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TRUMP A DRAFT DODGER ?  General Kelly
was emphatic with his feelings about duty to country recently telling NPR, “Back in my neighborhood in Boston, a working class neighborhood, when you got your draft notice, you went down, and got your draft physical,…if you passed it, you joined the Marine Corps.” 
      President Trump,
Kelly’s boss, responded to the “call” in the 1960’s as the Vietnam War heated up, with 5 deferments from military service.  Yikes !
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TRUMP – EARLY STAGE DEMENTIA ?  
Don’t know. Clearly he has personality disorder (Narcissism), but the question is being asked more and more with references to speech, use of words, disorientation, irritability, memory loss, late night tweets, confusion, paranoia.

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Trump, Bannon Gone By 2019  (my blog 3/21/2017)

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TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
    Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
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W HAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
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  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael Flynn – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.

       The Palmer Report.com  recently reported that Peter W. Smith (recent suicide) sought to collude with Russian hackers stealing emails from Trump’s opposition while claiming to be working with Michael Flynn.

      The Wall Street Journal  released two articles, one documenting Smith had some kind of recruiting connection with Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway. Unfortunately, Smith cannot be contacted to further confirm the story as he died of unknown causes shortly after his disclosure to the Journal.
            Additionally, IMHO, Vice President Mike Pence simply had to be aware of what was happening in the campaign, but is being shielded because he is the second in command if  President Trump is impeached and convicted  or forced to resign. Stephen Miller, Joseph E. Schmitz may be of interest to the FBI for information they possess relating to the FBI investigation.
      According to CNN Politics,  Marc Kasowitz  represented Trump for personal and business matters for years. Worth noting, Kasowitz is defending Russian bank, OJSC Sberbank in U.S. court, as well as a Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties with the Kremlin.
       As of July 21, Kasowitz’s is no longer Trump’s personal attorney   
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ROSENSTEIN and MUELLER OUT ?      Who Takes Over ?
       Will President Trump  fire special counsel Robert Mueller Donald Trump, Jr. to impede criminal charges against his son Donald Jr. and stall the investigation of he and his team ?
       As I understand it, he would first have to fire  Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General –
      
Obviously,  firing Mueller would smack of  “consciousness of guilt,” and could lead to impeachment proceedings by the House, and/or increase pressure for Trump to resign..

      With Rosenstein out of the way,  associate attorney general, Rachel Brand, would take over.  If she resigns, or is fired, Dana Boente, U.S. attorney general for the Eastern District of Virginia would take over.
       I believe this scandal reaches far beyond collusion with Russia to get Trump elected.
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     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
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IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Intitially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.
 

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Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com.

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George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
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Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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