R E S I S T sticker on the back of a bank in Stony Brook, Long Island on 18may2019. Week 131: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
May 18, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-131-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-ce28fa6a0c71
Closeup of R E S I S T sticker. Stony Brook, Long Island. 18may2019.
This week, in a letter, White House counsel Pat Cipollone issued a blanket refusal of records and testimony from Trump and dozens of current and former White House staff, saying Trump did not recognize Congress as a law enforcement body with the legitimate purpose to investigate. While the letter sent shock waves, Congress’s reaction was decidedly muted as House Democratic leaders sought to avoid impeachment, as other deadlines passed without cooperation.
This week Trump welcomed another far-right authoritarian to the White House, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whom Trump likened to a “twin brother.” Tensions escalated with Iran, and the regime issued conflicting statements and stances, and increasingly stood alone.
More troubling stories about atrocities being committed and contemplated against migrants surfaced, including a planned operational blitz to round up 10,000 migrants in 10 U.S. cities. Trump rolled out a new immigration plan, emphasizing skills over family ties, in an uncharacteristically low-energy Rose Garden speech that was met with a cool reception. Attacks on abortion rights were front and center of the national dialogue as Alabama passed the country’s most restrictive ban, setting up a possible challenge for Roe v. Wade. Other states are set to follow.
“I think If you’re going to terminate a pregnancy, it should be done sometime before the fetus becomes Governor of Alabama.” – Jim Carrey
This week, the
Nos. 1, 2, and 3 spots on the were the three different editions of the Mueller report. New York Times paperback nonfiction best-seller list The
White House has not held a press briefing for over two months, and only two so far this year. Briefings were a near-daily event in every recent administration going back to President Nixon.
WAPO observed in the first part of 2018 the briefings got shorter and shorter, then during the summer, they began to disappear. The Pentagon and State Department have also almost entirely stopped briefings.
The University of Virginia Center for Politics conducted a poll asking respondents whether the 2020 election should be delayed and Trump should get an extra two years in office. New data from the U.S. Social Security Administration revealed
the popularity of the name “Donald” dropped to its lowest ranking ever in 2018 to number 526, down from the 487th most popular name for boys in 2017. The
New York Post reported state Education Departments’ statistics show staffers flagged a record-high 5,875 incidents of harassment, discrimination, and bullying in 2017–2018, up 60% from the year prior. On Saturday,
Trump attacked Don McGahn, tweeting: “I was NOT going to fire Bob Mueller, and did not fire Bob Mueller,” adding, “McGahn had a much better chance of being fired than Mueller. Never a big fan!” On Sunday, on Mother’s Day,
Trump sent more than 30 tweets and retweets — only one mentioning the holiday. Between Saturday and Sunday, Trump sent a total of nearly three dozen tweets and 62 retweets. Trump
mocked Democrats, saying their “new and pathetically untrue sound bite is that we are in a “Constitutional Crisis,”” adding, “they and their partner, the Fake News Media,” say it “loud” and “often as possible.”
Trump called Democrats “a sad JOKE!” saying, “We may have the strongest Economy in our history,” but “we have had a giant SCAM…a Witch Hunt, a Treasonous Hoax,” adding, “That is the Constitutional Crisis.” Trump also tweeted, “Despite two years and millions of dollars spent, the
Democrats are acting like crazed lunatics” since the Mueller report came out, and adding, “It is all a big Hoax, the biggest in American history!” Trump also claimed “the Dems have been working overtime to damage me and the Republican Party” since the report came out, adding, “
issuing over 80 demands for documents and testimonies, and with NO REASON.” Trump also tweeted: “
The “Constitutional Crisis” is the Democrats refusing to work.” Despite Republican efforts to move on from the Russia probe, that was the number one topic by far of Trump’s weekend Twitter activity. On Monday,
Trump thanked “Fox & Friends” tweeting, “great show this morning and congratulations on your number one” and congratulated One America News Network (OANN) on “the great job you are doing.” OANN launched in 2013 and went all-in for Trump in 2016.
The network amplifies right-wing conspiracy theories and propaganda originating from the Kremlin. Trump is a loyal viewer, so segments are a way to reach him. Gulf Coast Media,
a media company that owns three Florida radio stations, will broadcast parts of Trump’s speeches every hour of every day until the 2020 election. The owner bought the stations in 2018. On Monday, in a series of tweets on space exploration,
Trump said, “Under my Administration, we are restoring @NASA to greatness,” adding he is upping the budget “so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!” Later Monday, the Trump regime sent a budget amendment to Congress, saying the regime
would use $1.9 billion in surplus Pell Grant money to fund other budget priorities, including a $1.6 billion NASA budget boost. On Monday, the stock market experienced a
dramatic drop off of close to 2.5% as China imposed $60 billion in tariffs in retaliation for Trump’s move last week, and the trade war escalated. On Monday,
Trump told reporters, “We’re taking in billions of dollars in tariffs. I love the position that we are in, we’ve gone up a lot since our great election.” There was no proof that this was true. On Monday, Sen. Tom Cotton told “CBS this Morning” on the farmers suffering, “
There will be some sacrifice on the part of Americans, I grant you that.” Arkansas farmers accused Cotton of mocking them. On Tuesday, Trump sent a series of tweets, saying “
Our great Patriot Farmers will be one of the biggest beneficiaries” of his trade war, falsely claiming “This money will come from the massive Tariffs being paid.”
Trump also tweeted, “In one year Tariffs have rebuilt our Steel Industry — it is booming!” The jobs moving back in the steel sector are estimated to cost U.S. businesses and consumers $900,000 per year for each job.
Trump also tweeted, “Billions of Dollars, and moving jobs back to the USA where they belong,” adding, “This should have been done by our leaders many years ago. Enjoy!” There is no proof for this claim. Trump also
attacked the Federal Reserve again, tweeting China “will be pumping money into their system and probably reducing interest rates,” adding if the Fed “ever did a “match,” it would be game over, we win!” Trump plugged
Sen. Cotton’s book, tweeting: “Our great Senator (and Star)… has just completed a wonderful book,” adding, “On sale today, make it big!” The plug helped make the book a bestseller. Trump told reporters the trade war with China was “
a little squabble,” and “We always win.” China state media said one person and his regime are threatening “the entire country and all the people of China.”
WAPO reported some Republicans are expressing concern. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said he planned to write Trump a letter and added, “I’m not sure if you talk to him face to face, he hears everything you say.” Republicans also expressed concern that Trump did not have a clear endgame. With
Trump’s shift to imposing tariffs last Friday, GOP lawmakers have fielded angry phone calls from constituents. On Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said
the regime could make between $15-20 billion of aid available to farmers in a second round of assistance to offset losses from Trump’s trade war. Officials are considering funding the aid through an expansion of bailout funds from the Commodity Credit Corp,
a division of the USDA that was created during the Great Depression. On Thursday,
a National Farmers Union executive told Fox News on the impact of Trump’s trade war with China, “We’ve had a lot of farmers — a lot more bankruptcies going on, a lot more farmer suicides.” On Thursday, the
Daily News reported the USDA purchased $62 million of pork from a U.S. company owned by Joesley and Wesley Batista, wealthy brothers who have confessed to bribing hundreds of top officials in Brazil. The purchase was
made using funds from a $12 billion program meant for U.S. farmers harmed by Trump’s trade wars, and raised outrage from watchdog groups for helping bailout a Brazilian-owned company. On Thursday, the Trump regime
defended the $62 million bailout, saying it will eventually trickle down to struggling U.S. farmers, adding the U.S. subsidiary owned by the Brazilian brothers was an “approved vendor.” On Thursday,
Walmart’s CFO said Trump’s trade war with China will result in higher prices for consumers, adding the company will try ease the pain to consumers by trying to obtain products from different countries. On Monday, Trump said he will attend the G-20 summit in Osaka next month, and meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping —
the first mention of another meeting with Putin. On Monday, Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo canceled his planned trip to Moscow and instead met with European Union allies in Brussels, as the Trump regime raised the possibility of a conflict with Iran. Shortly after Pompeo’s meetings, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, “
it would be a very bad mistake” if Iran does anything, adding, “I’m hearing little stories about Iran. If they do anything they will suffer greatly.” On Monday,
Trump hosted Hungary’s hard-right leader Prime Minister Viktor Orban, thumbing his nose at former presidents Obama and W. Bush who refused to host him. Orban also remains an outcast in Europe. Trump told reporters
Orban has “done a tremendous job in so many ways” and has “kept his country safe,” adding, “respected all over Europe” and “probably like me a little bit controversial, but that’s okay.” Orban said he and Trump have “similar approaches” to many global issues.
Trump failed to mention Hungary’s slide into authoritarianism, or its human rights and free speech abuses, or growing anti-Semitism. As their meeting ended, according to Hungarian media,
Trump told Orban “It’s like we’re twins.” The White House defended criticism of the meeting, saying it was about defending “freedom and prosperity.” On Monday, at a meeting with his top security aides, Trump reviewed military plans that could send as many as
120,000 troops to the Middle East amid a possible escalation with Iran. The plans were ordered by national security adviser
John Bolton, a long-time Iran hawk pushing for battle since working for President W. Bush. Trump. European allies worried tensions could boil over inadvertently. On Monday, Yleem Poblete, the assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance, and noted as an Iran hawk,
resigned after serving for one year in the regime. No explanation was given. On Tuesday,
a senior British military official told reporters at the Pentagon he saw no increased threat from Iran. Hours later, U.S. Central Command issued an unusual rebuke, citing “identified credible threats.”
NYT reported several European officials privately expressed concern that Bolton and Pompeo are pushing Trump on a course that could lead the U.S. to war, reminiscent of faulty intelligence that led to the Iraq invasion. On Thursday,
Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss used the Pentagon briefing room to address troops before visiting the White House. The White House did not comment on the reason for Simmons’ visit. On Monday, two Senators,
a Democrat and a Republican, asked in a letter to the Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary to turn over information on the treatment of migrant children in federally funded shelters.
The senators demanded information related to “horrific and intolerable allegations of excessive compensation, self-dealing, and sexual abuse,” asking whether the ORR has failed to uphold its statutory duties. On Monday,
WAPO reported before Trump’s purge at the Department of Homeland Security in April, officials had challenged a plan to arrest thousands of parents and children of migrants in 10 major U.S. cities. The regime sought to target families who had entered the country after Trump’s “
zero tolerance” policy, to show force and send a message the U.S. was going to be tough and detain and deport recent immigrants quickly. The plan would have targeted immigrants who did not show for their hearings. The
initial target list of the blitz operation was 2,500 adults and children, seen as a first step to arresting and deporting 10,000 migrants. Then DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and acting ICE director Ronald Vitiello fought against the plan,
citing operational and logistical issues, but not moral concerns, about arresting families. The plan was
strongly backed by Stephen Miller and ICE Deputy Director Matthew Albence. Reportedly, Nielsen and Vitiello’s pushback was a factor in Trump’s decision to oust both. Non-partisan watchdog group
CREW filed requested documents from DHS relating to former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and CaliburnInternational, after recent reports Kelly joined the company’s board. On Wednesday,
WAPO reported a fourth migrant from Guatemala, a 2 1/2 year-old boy, died three days after being apprehended by Customs and Border Protection at the southern border in the El Paso area. Guatemala’s Consul Tekandi Paniagua said
the boy developed appeared to have developed a form of pneumonia, after spending three days in federal custody, but the death remained under investigation. CBP officials are required to
notify Congress of a death in custody within 24 hours. The death occurred on April 6. When WAPO inquired if lawmakers were notified, an official said they would do so. On Wednesday, the White House announced T
rump would unveil a plan to overhaul parts of the immigration system to emphasize immigrants’ skill over family ties. Jared Kushner spent months working on the plan. The plan would vastly scale back
allowing immigrants to bring their spouses and children to live with them, and instead allow in immigrants who have specific skills, English proficiency, and educational attainment. The plan also calls for
constructing some of the border wall, reducing the number of immigrants, but did not address the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). On Thursday,
Trump rolled out the plan at the Rose Garden, but got a cool reception. Although Trump’s speech was meant to strike a centrist, conciliatory tone, Trump quickly went off script and started attacking. Trump attacked
Democrats as being for “open borders, lower wages and, frankly, lawless chaos,” saying if they refused to support his “merit-based, high-security plan,” he would pass it after the GOP wins back the House. Trump was
more low-energy than usual during the address, and his words seemed to drag and go off course at times. Trump also refused to take questions from the press.
NYT reported Kushner had wanted to elevate the moment and have Trump speak at the Statue of Liberty. Instead, staff chose the Rose Garden so members of Congress and Trump’s cabinet could come and show support.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the plan “repackaged the worst of its past failed immigration plans” and described it as “dead-on-arrival,” and “not a remotely serious proposal.” On Friday a
4th Circuit federal appeals court ruled that the Trump regime acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner when it sought to end the DACA program without adequately explaining why. The ruling
overturns a lower court ruling in Maryland last year, which Trump has praised on Twitter. The ruling will not have an immediate impact as other federal courts have already ruled against Trump.
Politico reported Trump’s pick for ICE director, Mark Morgan, told Fox News host Tucker Carlson earlier this year that he could tell which migrant children will become gang members by looking into their eyes. On Wednesday,
Daily Beast reported that children born to LGBTQ parents who had them out of wedlock and then moved to the U.S. may be stripped of their citizenship rights. On Monday, the New Haven Fire Department
chief said a fire at the Diyanet Mosque of New Haven, Connecticut was set intentionally. The blaze came during the month of Ramadan. On Friday, Massachusetts state officials said
three fires at a Rabbi’s home and nearby Chabad Jewish Center just outside Boston were “intentionallyset.” Police say they are investigating the fires as a possible hate crime. On Sunday,
International House of Pancakes stoked controversy when the chain tweeted a photo of a fake sonogram with a stack of pancakes in the womb, along with “Happy Mother’s Day to ALL the moms out there!” On Monday,
former Trump staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman submitted a court declaration as part of proposed collective-action lawsuit against Trump spearheaded by Alva Johnson for gender-based pay discrimination. On Tuesday,
the Alabama state senate approved a measure that would effectively ban abortion, criminalizing the procedure for doctors, punishable by up to 99 years in jail. The measure includes an exception when the mother’s life is at serious risk, but not for cases of rape or incest. The bill was
reportedly drafted with the hope of reaching the Supreme Court to challenge Roe v. Wade.
The Guttmacher Institute reported more than 300 proposals to restrict abortion were introduced in states from January to March, noting a shift in the strategy and moving toward “near-total and total abortion bans.” On Thursday, the Senate voted to confirm Wendy Vitter to the U.S. District Court.
Vitter said of Planned Parenthood “they kill over 150,000 females a year. The first step in promoting women’s health is to let them live.” On Friday,
Missouri’s House passed a bill banning abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for medical emergencies, but not rape or incest. Doctors who perform abortions could face 5–15 years in prison. GOP Gov. Mike Parson,
who said “Until the day that we no longer have abortions in this country, I will never waiver in the fight,” is expected to sign the bill. The law only kicks in if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Missouri Rep. Barry Hovis said during a debate of granting exceptions for
rape and incest, “Most of them were date rapes or consensual rapes.” Hovis later apologized for using the term consensual rape. On Friday, Austin City Council member Leslie Pool said
she is drafting a resolution for the city to boycott the state of Alabama over its extreme anti-abortion law, saying “Austin should help fight back.” On Saturday,
Louisiana’s Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said he is ready to sign an abortion ban bill awaiting one final vote in the state House, would prohibit abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. On Tuesday, the
Maine state senate voted to join an interstate effort with 15 other states that will award presidential electors based on the winner of the national popular vote, not as is currently done in the Electoral College. On Tuesday, on a trip to a liquefied natural gas facility in Louisiana, Trump knocked the Green New Deal and windmills, saying, “
you want to see a bird cemetery? Go under a windmill. You’ve got every type of bird.” On Wednesday,
the Interior Department renewed two mineral leases near the Boundary Waters Wilderness area in Minnesota, opening the wilderness area to copper mining despite heavy opposition. The move rolled back an
Obama era moratorium. Conservation groups say the regime conducted an insufficient environmental review and ignored 39,000 comments during the 41 day review period. A U.N. pact to add plastic waste to the Basel Convention, a treaty which regulates movement of hazardous materials from one country to another,
was approved by 187 countries, but not by the U.S. On Monday,
prosecutors asked Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson to further postpone sentencing for Rick Gates, citing Gates “continues to cooperate with the government as required by his Plea Agreement.” Prosecutors said in their filing that
Gates may be a trial witness against former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig and Trump ally Roger Stone. Judge Jackson approved their request. On Monday,
NYT reported AG William Barr assigned John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to examine the origins of the Russia investigation, a move that Trump has long called for — investigating the investigators. Durham’s
inquiry will be the third into the origins of the investigation, along with John Huber, the U.S. attorney in Utah’s inquiry, and the DOJ inspector general’s examination of the use of wiretapping applications.
Durham’s assignment complicates matters for three Senate committee chairs — Sens. Lindsey Graham, Ron Johnson, and Chuck Grassley — who were also set to open their own investigations into investigators. On Tuesday, CNN reported
Barr is also working in close collaboration withCIA Director Gina Haspel, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and FBI Director Christopher Wray to review the Russia probe origins. On Sunday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham told “Fox News Sunday” that
Donald Jr. should ignore the Senate Intelligence Committee subpoena and not show up to a hearing. On Monday,
Politico reported Senate Republicans were concerned about an ugly floor vote if Donald Jr. did not comply with the Senate Intelligence Committee’s subpoena, and hoped parties would work out a deal. On Monday, Chair Graham changed his stance, saying
Donald Jr. should “just show up and plead the Fifth and it’s over with,” adding, “This whole thing is nuts,” and “To me, it’s over.” On Monday, Sen. Joe Manchin,
a conservative Democrat, told CNN, “this is not the Lindsey I know,” adding, “Lindsey Graham has been a dear friend since I’ve been in the Senate. I can’t explain what’s going on right now.” On Tuesday,
Donald Jr. reached a deal with the Senate Intelligence Committee to have him testify in mid-June, but the interview will be for only two-to-four hours and limited in scope to five-to-six topics. On Monday, in a court filing,
Trump’s attorneys objected to Judge Amit Mehta’s intention to rule from the bench after Tuesday’s hearing on Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block the House Oversight Mazars subpoena. Lawyers cited they need more time to collect evidence and develop their cases, saying Trump’s rights were undermined by the accelerated timetable. Experts say
Trump’s strategy seemed to be to stall the probes. On Tuesday,
Judge Mehta raised doubts about arguments by Trump’s legal team that the subpoena was an invalid exercise of congressional power, adding Congress has a significant “informing function.” Although Trump’s lawyer argued Congress has no basis for investigating Trump’s financial disclosure,
Mehta pushed back that investigations of such financial violations are “strictly” under Congress’ purview. The
House Oversight lawyer pushed for a quick ruling, saying, “This Congress is limited in time…Any delay here undermines the House’s ability to do what the Constitution allows it to do.” Mehta’s ruling, expected Friday at the earliest,
will be the first and could provide a blueprint for other judges deciding on Trump’s attempts to block or hinder other congressional investigations. On Tuesday, House Democrat committee chairs wrote letters to Cipollone and Barr
demanding information on the regime’s decisions to call for the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, and if Trump was involved. On Monday, Serhiy Leshchenko, an Ukrainian lawmaker,
told journalists Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko made up claims about possible 2020 foe Joe Biden in an alleged bid to curry favor with Trump. Leshchenko shared a
parts of a letter send by Lutsenko through unofficial channels to Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. The prosecutor’s spokeswoman denied the letter came from him. On Tuesday,
Bloomberg reported Yuriy Lutsenko said that neither Hunter Biden nor Burisma, the company Biden sat on the board of, were currently the focus of an investigation, countering allegations by Giuliani.
Lutsenko said he would turn over information to Barr about Burisma’s payments to Biden, but added, “I do not want Ukraine to again be the subject of U.S. presidential elections.” On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters, “
two Florida counties experienced intrusion into the supervisor of election networks” during the 2016 election, but added no votes were manipulated or results altered. DeSantis got the information in an FBI briefing. While S
en. Marco Rubio said the Mueller report said Russia was in a position to manipulate voter registration data, DeSantis claimed the FBI told him that did not occur. On Thursday, NPR reported
Florida lawmakers were angry after leaving an FBI briefing which left many of their questions on the 2016 hacking unanswered, and frustrated that they were not notified sooner. Lawmakers said even after the Mueller report and briefing, they do not know exactly what happened. A Republican lawmaker responded to a reporter asking
if more than two counties were hacked, “It’s possible.” On Tuesday, at a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Pompeo,
Lavrov rejected claims of Russian election interference and accused the U.S. of interfering in Russian domestic policy. Lavrov said “The facts tell us that there is no proof of those trying to hype up this topic,” to
which Pompeo responded with a smirk, “You can see we have some disagreements on this issue.” On Tuesday,
NYT reported the House Intelligence Committee sent document requests to four lawyers who represented Trump or his familyon whether they helped obstruct the panel’s Russia investigation.
Letters went to Jay Sekulow; Alan Futerfas, who represents Donald Jr.; Alan Garten, the top lawyer at the Trump Organization; and Abbe Lowell, who represents Ivanka. All were part of the joint defense agreement. Chair Adam Schiff’s
letter suggested the four may have “shaped and edited the false statement” by Micheal Cohen and “engaged in discussions about potential pardons” in an effort to deter witnesses from cooperating. On Tuesday, the
House Judiciary Committee formally scheduled a hearing for former White House counsel Don McGahn on May 21. Chair Jerry Nadler said McGahn will be held in contempt if he does not appear. On Tuesday, NBC News reported
some members of the House Judiciary Committee are expressing frustration and urging leadership to take a “second look” at impeachment as a tool to get the regime to comply. The committee had hoped that
Mueller would testify on May 15, but members said Trump’s action were behind that not happening. The DOJ declined to comment on why Mueller has not yet agreed to testify. On Wednesday,
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said House Democrats will not hold floor votes on contempt resolutions against Attorney General Barr or any other Trump regime officials until at least June. Hoyer added, “We don’t want to do it just individually.”
There was a divide among Democrats, with Chairs Nadler and Jim McGovern and others pushing for more aggressive action. On Wednesday, in a letter to Chair Nadler,
White House counsel Pat Cipollone said Congress has no right to a “do-over” of the special counsel’sinvestigation, issuing a sweeping rejection of House demands. Cipollone’s letter issued a blanket refusal of records and testimony from dozens of current and former White House staff,
rejecting Congress’s standing to investigate Trump for possible obstruction of justice. Cipollone said
Congress is not a law enforcement body and does not have a legitimate purpose to investigate what it is pursuing, and without asserting executive privilege, said it would only consider narrow requests. The White House also said it is
instructing the 81 Trump allies or Trump-related entities who received document requests from Chair Nadler in early March not to comply. Chair Nadler responded, “The American people ought to be astonished by a claim by the White House that the president cannot be held accountable, that
he’s above the law, that he is in fact a dictator.” Nadler said of the
81 recipients, “We will subpoena whoever we have to subpoena. We will hear from Mueller, we will hear from McGahn…We will hold in contempt whoever doesn’t comply with subpoenas.” On Wednesday, Nadler said in an interview with CNBC that
he believed Trump committed crimes while in office, and said of Barr, “Bill Barr is just a liar. And, he’s just representing the president.” When asked if we are heading for impeachment, Nadler said, “
Probably, but I don’t know,” adding that Trump is making it “increasingly difficult” to avoid. On Wednesday, when he encountered Speaker Pelosi at at a law enforcement ceremony,
Barr asked if she “brought your handcuffs.” Pelosi told Barr that the Sergeant at Arms was there should an arrest be needed. On Wednesday,
Vice President Mike Pence, Leader Mitch McConnell, and Supreme Court Justice John Roberts flew on Air Force Two to a funeral — notably unusual for the three to be together, especially on a flight. On Wednesday,
WAPO reported despite Trump’s unwillingness to cooperate with 20 congressional investigations, Speaker Pelosi told House members in a closed-door meeting to stick with policy, not focus on impeachment. On Wednesday,
Trump granted a full pardon to Conrad Black, a billionaire friend who wrote a complimentary book about him. Black was convicted in 2007 on fraud charges, including embezzlement and obstruction. On Wednesday,
Senate Democrats introduced legislation requiring hand-marked paper ballots and “statistically rigorous” cybersecurity audits. Sen. Ron Wyden, who is leading the legislation, accused the White House of taking insufficient steps. On Thursday, 20 House Democrats, led by Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, vice chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee,
did a public reading of the redacted Mueller report on a C-SPAN station starting at noon. On Thursday,
House Intelligence Committee Chair Schiff said his committee will hold hearings next week on whether to hold Barr in contempt for ignoring their subpoena of the unredacted Mueller report. In a letter to Barr,
Chair Schiff wrote that the DOJ’s refusal “leaves the Committee no choice but to initiate action next week to enforce the subpoena.” The subpoena deadline was Wednesday. On Thursday, a group of Democratic lawmakers with top roles on committees overseeing the
Treasury Department sent a letter to Sec. Steven Mnuchin relating to Rusal’s investment in the Kentucky mill. Rusal’s board approved a a $200 million investment in an aluminum plant with Braidy Industries on Thursday,
four months after Congress voted to lift sanctions on the company owned by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Braidy’s CEO told
NYT his company did not discuss the Rusal investment before it was announced with the Trump regime or Kentucky’s senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul. McConnell backed lifting sanctions. On Thursday, in response to a motion filed by
WAPO earlier in the year, Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered prosecutors to publicly release conversations Micheal Flynn had with Russian ambassador in late 2016.
Sullivan also ordered the government to provide a public transcript of a November 2017 voice mail from then Trump attorney John Dowd involving Flynn reminding him of Trump’s fondness for him. Per Mueller report,
Dowd said it wouldn’t surprise him if Flynn cooperates but “[I]f… there’s information that implicates the President, then we’ve got a national security issue [so] … we need some kind of heads-up.” In his order,
Sullivan also ordered the government to provide him with a copy of all relevant recordings, including any calls Flynn made to the Russians, so he can review them.
Sullivan also ordered still-redacted portions of the Mueller report related to Flynn be given to the court and made public. Newly unsealed court records show Flynn was a deep source of useful information to Mueller. Newly unredacted portions of the Mueller report also revealed
Flynn told Mueller’s team that people linked to the Trump regime and Congress reached out to him in an effort to impact his willingness to cooperate. Prosecutors
did not identify which member(s) of Congress reached out to Flynn. The Mueller report revealed Trump asked Reince Priebus and K.T. McFarland to reach out to Flynn and tell him to stay strong. On Friday, CNN reported in April 2018,
Flynn sent a Twitter direct message to Rep. Matt Gaetz, saying, “You stay on top of what you’re doing. Your leadership is so vital for our country now. Keep the pressure on.” The message was
sent months after the December 2017 start of Flynn’s cooperation, and within an hour of Rep. Gaetz appearing on Fox Business’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” where he criticized the Mueller investigation. On Thursday, Barr told Fox News
the public must know if the “government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale” in the early stages of the Mueller probe. On Friday, in an interview with
WSJ, Barr said there may be rule changes at the DOJ in the wake of the Russia probe, saying, “Government power was used to spy on American citizens.” Barr also said, “I can’t imagine any world where we wouldn’t take a look and make sure that was done properly,” adding, “
we need to ensure that the government doesn’t use its powers to put a thumb on the scale.” On Friday,
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said during an interview on “America’s Newsroom” that Barr “clearly is protecting” Trump, and “advocating his point of view.” Fox News contributor Judge Andrew Napolitano said in an op-ed
we have lost sight of the basic constitutional norms. Napolitano said on Fox News Trump violated the separation of powers three times in the past week. On Friday,
Trump sent a series of 13 morning tweets, many during the airing of “Fox & Friends,” including his campaign lines “DRAIN THE SWAMP!” and “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump also quoted “Fox & Friends,” tweeting, “
What happened is that Donald Trump won. Down goes Comey.” Trump also tweeted: “My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on. Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics,” adding, “
TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!” Trump also tweeted, “
Will Jerry Nadler ever look into the fact that Crooked Hillary deleted and acid washed 33,000 emails AFTER getting a most powerful demand notice for them from Congress?” Trump also tweeted about Michael Flynn, saying it seems he “
was under investigation long before was common knowledge,” adding, “It would have been impossible for me to know this.” This statement is false. Trump also tweeted, “
the Fake News Media is hurting our Country with its fraudulent and highly inaccurate coverage of Iran,” calling it “made up” and “DANGEROUS.”
Trump also tweeted, “At least Iran doesn’t know what to think, which at this point may very well be a good thing!”
Bloomberg reported Trump was increasingly isolated on Iran, as the world saw confusion on U.S. strategy. Beyond Israel and Saudi Arabia, allied support is not forthcoming.
A few hours later, Trump tweeted, “With all of the Fake and Made Up News out there, Iran can have no idea what is actually going on!” On Friday, at a speech to the National Association of Realtors in Washington, D.C. went off topic,
criticizing the media’s coverage which claims he is at odds with top security officials in the regime on Iran. Trump said of the media using anonymous sources: “Everything is ‘a source says.’ There is no source.
The person doesn’t exist. The person’s not alive. It’s bullshit, OK? It’s bullshit.”
Trump also referred to journalists as “bad people,” complaining that he has to uses speeches and social media to get his message across, saying the media not him has led to confusion on U.S. strategy on Iran. On Friday, at the 5 p.m. deadline,
the Treasury Department refused to comply with a House subpoena for Trump’s tax returns, saying in a letter “the Committee’s request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.” House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard
Neal said the law provides “clear statutory authority” for the committee’s request, and said he would consult with counsel “on how best to enforce the subpoenas.” On Friday, Chair Nadler told
Politico that there is no Mueller hearing planned for next week. Nadler had set a new tentative date of May 23. Nadler said this could change if Mueller wanted to come in. On Friday,
WAPO reported a group of House Judiciary Committee Democrats are growing impatient and have privately discussed ways to increase pressure on House leadership for impeachment. Some senior Democrats
hope the courts will come to their rescue; but if Democrats choose to litigate all the cases of Trump stonewalling, it could take months or years — as Trump runs out the clock. Democratic leaders have backed the idea of
bundling citations and scheduling one major contempt vote, before then taking them to court. But that process will take weeks more. On Saturday,
AP reported some Democrats say Trump’s stonewalling leaves them almost no choice but to open an impeachment inquiry — not necessarily to impeach Trump, but as part of a legal strategy. Experts cited
the Constitution gives Congress the sole power to impeach, and courts are wary of interfering. Impeachment inquiry may be the only way to get Trump to comply with requests for documents and testimony. On Saturday,
WAPO reported an attempt by Stephen Miller to push for another DHS shake-up was thwarted by acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who threatened to resign if he was not given more time. Tempers flared when
Miller urged Trump to elevate Mark Morgan, who Trump picked to be the new director of ICE to become the new commissioner of CBP instead, without McAleenan’s knowledge or consent. On Saturday,
Austria’s far-right Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resigned after a 2017 video surfaced, showing him promising government contracts to a woman claiming to be the niece of a Russian oligarch. The video was filmed on the Spanish island of Ibiza three months before the Austrian elections, and
revealed Strache eagerly willing to promise Russia government contracts in exchange for campaign donations. The scandal and resignation
come just ahead of next week’s elections for the European Parliament where far-right, populist leaders were campaigning to increase their share of power, benefiting Russia.
The Weekly List podcast is here! You can find more information here by
THE LIST — weeks 1–52 of The Weekly List is out as a book! You can order your copy by
The Weekly List
website is live! Find resources, videos, and information.
Migrants, mostly from Central America, wait to board a van which will take them to a processing center, on May 16, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. — About 1,100 migrants from Central America and other countries are crossing into the El Paso border sector each day.
10may2019. Orlando, Florida.
7may19. Orlando, Florida.