Week 62 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
January 20, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-62-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-e261e4c56fab
Trump marked his one-year anniversary in office with Trump’s erratic behavior and fluid positions on issues were fuel on the flames of a country and Congress torn and divided. Conversely, the anniversary of the Women’s March celebrated millions marching in 250 cities across the country, and marked a record number of women running for office and becoming politically involved. a government shutdown, the first shutdown in history when a single party is in control of the House, Senate, and White House.
This week new evidence emerged of Russia’s effort to financially support Trump’s 2016 campaign, while the Mueller probe engulfed more Trump insiders quoted in Wolff’s book. With all the noise and chaos, it was again easy to miss the continued dismantling of our federal agencies, and disappearing rules and protections for women and marginalized communities.
The art featured in this week’s post is by Jim Carrey, a multi-talented, “WOKE” human. Three more brilliant pieces are featured at the bottom of this, unfortunately, extensive list:
In Week 61 a false missile warning was sent to Hawaiians on Saturday. At the time, Trump was golfing at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, and was informed within minutes while having lunch.
Residents and visitors of Hawaii were not informed it was a false alarm for 38 minutes, despite state officials and Trump knowing within minutes. Frantic messages between loved ones show “goodbyes”, and “I love yous”.
Trump made no mention of the incident on Saturday, instead tweeting about “fake news” and the Wolff book. On Sunday evening, Trump told the press, “Well, that was a state thing…I love that they took responsibility.”
Politico reported the erroneous alert sent the White House scrambling, and raised concern about the regime’s preparedness. The regime has not yet tested a formal plan for how to respond to a domestic missile attack.
On Tuesday, Japanese public broadcaster NHK issued an apology after the company’s app issued a false alert saying North Korea had likely launched a ballistic missile, warning, “evacuate inside the building or underground.”
On Saturday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted a meme, “Fake news is at it again!” accusing the . The Wall Street Journal of misquoting Trump Journal quoted Trump as saying, “I probably have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un.”
Late Saturday, the WSJ released the tape of the interview via a tweet. The by an external service, and stand by what we reported.” Journal stated they have reviewed the audio “as well as the transcript provided
On Sunday morning, Trump attacked the ,” and in a second tweet, “and they knew exactly what I said and meant. They just wanted a story. FAKE NEWS!” WSJ, tweeting, “Obviously I didn’t say that
On Sunday, the WSJ issued a statement, again refuting Trump and saying the Journal stands by what was reported.
Trump also said in the WSJ interview that he “should get credit for firing” James Comey, saying “it turned out I was right” because “many things have been found out about Comey” since his departure.
Dozens of refugees from Puerto Rico who came to Connecticut after Hurricane Maria are set to be evicted from hotels by FEMA, after the agency said their homes back on the island are “habitable,” so they should go back.
The Detroit Free Press reported after 30 years in the US, 40 year-old Jorge Garcia, a husband and father, was deported to Mexico. Garcia has no criminal record, not even a traffic ticket, and paid his taxes every year.
Economic Policy Institute said if Trump’s Department of Labor proposed rule allowing employers to pocket tips so long as they pay minimum wagegoes into effect, women workers would lose $4.6 billion, 80% of the $5.8 billion lost.
Politico reported Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services is planning to expand “conscience” protections for those who do not want to perform abortions or treat transgender patients based on their gender identity on the basis of moral objections.
Intercept reported on a prosecutor in Whatcom County, Washington who sought a warrant to get Facebook to disclose names of anti-pipeline activists. The first two attempts were fought and won by the ACLU and Facebook.
Facebook advised the prosecutor to seek formal guidance from the Department of Justice, and on the third request, using a DOJ template, the prosecutor was successful in obtaining a warrant and gained access tomessages to and from the page and a list of everyone “invited” to the protest event.
Simon Edelman, a photographer for the Department of Energy, was fired after leaking a photo of Secretary Rick Perry embracing Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy, at private meeting. Edelman is seeking whistleblower protections.
According to a report released by Gallup, the number of Americans without health insurance grew by 1.3%, the biggest increase since 2008, as 3.2 million Americans went uninsured during Trump’s first year.
The House unveiled a bipartisan landmark sexual assault bill under which taxpayers would no longer pay for sexual harassment settlements in cases involving members of Congress, and victims would have more rights and resources when filing a complaint.
An employee of the Agriculture Department anonymously issued a statement saying the USDA is being dismantled from within, citing talent flow are retiring or quitting, and positions on the front lines going unfilled.
Betsy DeVos’s Education Department awarded two companies with contracts to collect overdue student loans, including Performant Financial, a company with ties to DeVos. The contracts are worth hundreds of millions.
Reuters reported Simon Henshaw, a top US diplomat in charge of refugee issues resigned, becoming the third State Department senior official to depart or be reassigned from refugee work in recent weeks.
McClatchy reported the unexpected departure of top ranked diplomat John Feeley sent shock waves through the State Department. Sixty percent of top-ranking career diplomats have left, and staffers wonder who will leave next.
Staffers said the departure caused them reassess their commitment to a regime they feel is undercutting the department’s work and US influence in the world. New applications to join the foreign service have fallen by half.
The New York Times reported that under the Trump regime, which has embraced corporate interests, the uranium mining industry is making a renewed push into areas of the Grand Canyon and Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument.
Mining companies lobbied Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke extensively to shrink Utah’s national monuments, which the regime did in Week 56. Abandoned mines have already left a toxic legacy in these areas, included tainted groundwater.
On Wednesday, 10 of the 12 members of the National Park Service advisory board resigned. In May 2017, Zinke suspended all outside committees while he reviewed their work. No meetings have taken place.
The resignations leave the federal government without a body to designate national historic and natural landmarks, and again illustrates the extent to which the Trump regime has marginalized federal advisory boards.
Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency, in a shift from past practices, is “streamlining” the safety review of new chemicals. Experts and advocates warn the regime is skipping important steps to “protect the public from hazardous chemicals.”
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, now under Mick Mulvaney’s leadership, is considering repealing of a key set of rules enacted last year which protect consumers against predatory payday lenders.
WSJ reported, citing funding cuts, the CDC plans to scale back or halt its work to prevent infectious-disease epidemics and other health threats in 39 foreign countries, narrowing their work down from 49 to 10 countries.
Politico reported Teresa Manning, the anti-birth control official who led Trump’s HHS Title X federal family planning program, was fired last Friday. Manning maintains she resigned.
On Thursday, Trump appointee Carl Higbie resigned as chief of external affairs for the volunteer service organization after CNN unearthed racist, sexist, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBTQ comments he made on radio shows.
The Washington Post reported Trump has yet to put forth a nominee for 245 of the 633 key roles in the executive branch which require Senate confirmation, including the role of ambassador to South Korea.
On Sunday, conservative columnist Erick Erickson tweeted Trump called friends to brag about his “shithole” countries remark, adding according to one friend, Trump “thought it would play well with the base.”
On Sunday talk shows, Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue changed their recollection of not recalling Trump’s comments in Week 61, to aggressively going after Senator Dick Durbin for “gross misrepresentation,” saying the words were not spoken.
On Sunday, Department of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, told “Fox News Sunday” that she did not recall Trump “saying that exact phrase,” adding Trump “will continue to use strong language” because he feels “very passionate about immigration.”
On Sunday evening, Trump again denied the “shithole” countries remark to reporters, saying “I’m not a racist,” and “I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you.”
On Monday, Trump attacked Durbin, branding him as “Dicky Durbin” and saying Durbin “misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting.”
On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Trump went golfing and held no public events. Past US leaders from both parties have done some form of community service to commemorate King’s life of service.
On Monday, in a slight towards Cotton and Purdue, Sen. Lindsey Graham said “My memory hasn’t evolved. I know what was said and I know what I said.”
On Monday, WaPo reported on the past Thursday meeting on immigration. On a 10:15 a.m. call with Durbin, Trump expressed pleasure and was on board with Durbin and Graham’s bipartisan immigration pact.
When Durbin and Graham arrived at the White House at noon, Trump was surrounded by immigration hardliners and was “fired up.” Trump said he was not interested in the bipartisan plan, and started his racist rant.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, based on a “Fox & Friends” segment, that his approval ratings with Black Americans has doubled and unemployment for Black Americans is the lowest ever. The approval statement is false, and unemployment for Black Americans has been declining since 2011.
On Tuesday, Nielsen testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was pressed by Democrats. She told Durbin she remembered just “general profanity.” Sen. Cory Booker told Nielsen her silence and amnesia are “complicity.”
A Quinnipiac poll found American voters say 58–35 percent that Trump’s alleged comments on immigrants are racist. Americans disapprove 57–38 of the job Trump is doing.
On Saturday, the Trump regime’s US Citizenship and Immigration Services, following a federal court order in Week 61, resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA.
On Tuesday, the Trump’s DOJ said it would take the rare step of asking the Supreme Court to overturn the federal judge’s DACA ruling and allow the regime to phase out DACA, beginning in March.
On Tuesday, Jeff Sessions told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that a “good nation” does not admit immigrants who are “illiterate” and have “no skills.” Sessions also criticized Graham for reciting Emma Lazarus’ poem inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
On Wednesday, Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly told Democratic lawmakers that Trump’s hard-line immigration policies were “uninformed,” and the US would never construct a wall and that Mexico would never pay for it.
On Thursday, Trump took to Twitter to push back on Kelly’s remarks, saying NAFTA was “a bad joke,” and saying a reworked trade deal would make Mexico pay for his wall “directly or indirectly.”
On Thursday, GOP Rep. Scott Perry falsely claimed on Tucker Carlson’s show that ISIS was behind the Las Vegas shooting, based he said on what he “believed” to be “credible evidence.”
Corey Lewandowski said he would voluntarily appear before the House Intelligence Committee this week for the committee’s Russian investigation. On Tuesday, he hired lawyer Peter Chavkin, of Mintz Levin, to represent him.
On Tuesday, NYT reported Steve Bannon was subpoenaed last week by Mueller, the first grand jury subpoena to a member of Trump’s inner circle. Bannon was cast aside by the Trump regime and Breitbart in Week 61.
The subpoena was issued shortly after Wolff’s book, quoting Bannon, was released. of the Mueller probe since the DOJ rarely allows targets to be subpoenaed. NYT reported the subpoena may be a sign Bannon is not a target
On Tuesday, Bannon went before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors. WaPo reported that Mueller subpoenaing Bannon before he spoke to Congress may have been a way to cement his cooperation.
Bannon arrived on Tuesday without documents and refused to answer questions about conversations. Bannon’s attorney William Burck said the White House had told Bannon not to respond, “executive privilege belongs to the President of the United States. It’s not Mr. Bannon’s right to waive it.”
The House then issued a subpoena, but Bannon still refused to cooperate. Bannon spent more than 10 hours behind closed doors, and will be called back. As per Week 61, Burck also represents McGahn and Priebus.
Late Tuesday, the Daily Beast reported according to sources, although Bannon is not cooperating with the House Intelligence Committee, he will tell all to Mueller. The House subpoena was issued by Trump ally Devin Nunes.
Bloomberg reported Don McGahn’s office was deeply involved with instructing Burck on which questions Bannon could answer, raising questions of conflicts with McGahn’s role as a witness and Burck representing him.
On Wednesday, chief of staff Kelly told Fox News that the White House didn’t urge Bannon to invoke executive privilege, saying, “Steve has had very, very little contact with the White House since he left.”
On Wednesday, Reps. Michael Conaway and Adam Schiff instructed Bannon to return on Thursday. Burck responded the committee did not give Bannon sufficient time to prepare and to complete discussions with the White House.
The committee then proposed an alternative date for Bannon to return on January 29. Bannon has yet to agree to that date.
Foreign Policy reported Trump made the decision to curtail Bannon’s testimony to the House citing executive privilege based on legal advice from deputy White House counsel Uttam Dhillon. This privilege will not extend to Mueller.
NBC News reported FBI agents visited Bannon’s home last week to serve him with a subpoena to testify before a grand jury as part of the Trump-Russia probe. This indicates Mueller still has a grand jury empaneled.
The agents were unaware Bannon had retained Burck hours earlier. The agents then served Burck. Bannon could be interviewed by Mueller’s team before the end of the month.
Axios reported Bannon made one important slip up in his House testimony, when he admitted he’d had conversations with Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, and former legal spokesman Mark Corallo about Donald Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting with Russians.
Politico reported Corallo, who is mentioned in Wolff’s book, hired attorneys Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova ahead of possible being called in by Mueller’s team.
Corallo spent a two-month stint on Trump’s legal team, and resigned in July 2017. Wolff’s book speculates Corallo quit in part over Trump’s role in crafting Don Jr.’s statement on the June 9 meeting.
AP reported that the White House’s contention is that “pretty much everything is off limits” until Trump says it’s not. This week the House Intelligence Committee also interviewed Trump insiders Lewandowski, Rick Dearborn, and Hope Hicks.
BuzzFeed reported Mueller’s team is investigating transactions marked as “suspicious activity” by Citibank, which handles Russian embassy accounts, which were sent to the US Treasury’s financial crimes unit.
Included in the unusual activity was a $120,000 payment to Sergey Kislyak ten days after the election, and an attempt to withdraw $150,000 from the Russian embassy account five days after Trump’s inauguration.
On Thursday, McClatchy reported the FBI is investigating whether Alexander Torshin, a top Russian banker with ties to Putin, illegally funneled money to the NRA to help Trump win the 2016 election.
The NRA spent a record $55 million in 2016, including $30 million to Trump, three times what the group donated to Romney in 2012. Most was spent by an arm of the NRA which is not required to disclose donors.
Torshin has ties to organized crime, and has been implicated of money laundering in Spain. Per Week 53, Torshin tried to arrange a meeting with Trump through Jared Kushner, but instead sat with Donald Jr. at a NRA dinner.
On Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee released testimony by Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS. Much of the information overlaps with the Senate testimony release in Week 61, but there is additional detail,
Simpson testified that he believes Trump’s golf courses in Scotland and Ireland may have been financed by illicit Russian money, something Eric Trump discussed in a radio interview with WBUR, then later denied.
Simpson also singled out Trump properties in Panama and Toronto where Russian mafia figures were listed as buyers. Simpson said Russia’s mafia is under the dominion of the Russian government and Russian intelligence.
Simpson said the Russian government had “infiltrated” the NRA via Torshin, and other conservative organizations to influence the US election. Ironically Simpson said, Putin is not in favor of universal gun ownership.
Yahoo News reported that hacking group Shadow Brokers, which leaked hacked classified NSA manuals, very likely used Kaspersky software to exfiltrate the documents as part of a Russian intelligence operation.
A status hearing for George Papadopoulos, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating in the Mueller probe, was postponed for up to 90 days, an indication the probe will stay active at least until spring.
German monthly Manager Magazin reported Deutsche Bank could have information about suspicious money transfers by Kushner and Kushner Companies. Deutsche Bank has submitted the suspicious information to the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority for Germany, BaFin.
Politico reported the criminal trial for Paul Manafort and Rick Gates is likely to start in September, just before the midterm elections. The judge admonished Gates for an event where lobbyists said Mueller’s team was “very unfair.”
Trump attorney Ty Cobb revised his timing of when Mueller would complete the special counsel probe, saying it will be wrapped up in 4 to 6 weeks. Cobb also speculated the investigation will ultimately be immaterial.
Daily News reported Omarosa Manigault-Newman may have taped West Wing conversations, and now fears being subject to the Mueller probe. A source said the WH cell phone ban was due to Omarosa’s history of recording conversations.
A new poll by PBS Newshour, NPR, and Marist found that 42% of Americans have not heard of Mueller. Whether they know him or not, two-thirds of Americans want his team to be able to finish the investigation.
Tristan Harris, a former Facebook manager told NBC News Facebook, which put profits ahead of users, is a “living, breathing crime scene” for the 2016 election,” adding, “only they have full access to what happened.”
On Friday, Twitter announced as part of their efforts towards transparency following Congressional hearings, 677,775 people in the US were notified they had followed, tweeted or liked content from a Russia-linked bots.
Twitter also updated the number of Russia-linked bots involved in US election interference to over 50,000, and raised the number associated with Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency from 1,000 to 3,800.
Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock, which manages $6 trillion in investments, said he would be informing public companies they need to contribute to society, not just make profits, for BlackRock to support them.
On Monday, the WSJ reported that in early 2017, US counterintelligence told Kushner that Wendi Deng Murdoch could be using her relationship with Ivanka to further the interests of the Chinese government.
Kushner and Ivanka emerged as important contact points within the Trump regime for the Chinese government in early 2017. Both Kushner Companies and Ivanka’s brand have continuing business ties to China.
Rep. Elijah Cummings is pushing House Oversight Committee chair Trey Gowdy to subpoena the WH for documents related to Flynn and Kushner’s security clearance. Cummings questions why their clearances were not suspended.
NBC News reported watchdog group Public Citizen, in a report titled “Presidency for Sale,” analyzed monies spent at Trump properties during 2017 in order to curry favor with the president, raising concerns of conflicts of interest.
The report cited four foreign governments, 16 special interest groups, and 35 Republican congressional campaign committees spent money at Trump properties in 2017. The biggest spender was Saudi Arabia.
Documents obtained by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch show Trump spent an additional $3.2 million since June on flights to his properties, bringing the total money spent on Trump travel to $15.5 million.
Miami Herald reported a November inspection of Mar-a-Lago turned up two priority lodging violations which could pose a “significant threat to the public health” and 15 violations in the club’s two main kitchens.
Bloomberg reported that Wolff got access to the White House by pitching a sympathetic view of Trump’s first 100 days. In the inexperienced White House , almost everyone who spoke to him thought someone else had approved it.
On Tuesday, Trump hosted Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, at the White House. Nazarbayev has been accused of committing human rights violations and cracking down on political opposition.
At a press conference with the two leaders, Trump ordered CNN’s Jim Acosta, “Out!” after Acosta peppered Trump with questions about which immigrants Trump would let in: “Just Caucasian or white countries, sir?”
On Wednesday, Sen. Jeff Flake delivered a speech on the Senate floor about Trump’s attacks on the press and the truth. Flake said Trump’s lies have eroded “trust in our vital institution.”
Flake compared Trump’s rhetoric towards the media to that of Joseph Stalin, citing his repeated use of “enemy of the people,” and adding “the free press is the guardian of democracy.”
Flake also criticized his colleagues for not standing up to Trump, saying “a Congress that fails to act as a check on the president adds to the danger.”
Also on Wednesday, Flake’s fellow Arizona senator, John McCain, penned an op-ed telling Trump to stop attacking the press, saying Trump’s rhetoric is providing cover for regimes around the world to crack down on free press.
McCain cited the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) data showing 2017 was “one of the most dangerous years to be a journalist.” CPJ also documented 21 journalists were jailed on “fake news” charges in 2017.
That evening, Trump launched what was, according to him, his “Highly-Anticipated 2017 Fake News Awards,” which he tweeted were selected to single out “the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media.”
Trump chose to launch his awards on the Republican National Committee website, which proceeded to crash with the incoming traffic. The website finally came back online a little over an hour later.
CNN reported that Trump has used the word “fake” — “fake news,” “fake polls,” “fake media,” and “fake stories” — as an insult more than 400 timessince taking office, averaging more than once per day.
On Thursday, in lieu of normal editorial page content, the . NYT editorial board devoted the page entirely to letters from Trump supporters
The owner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a Trump ally, ordered the paper to run an editorial defending Trump from charges of racism. The move sparked outrage in a city where Hillary won 75% of the vote.
CNN reported that a Fox News reporters, Diana Falzone, had filed a story about the alleged sexual relationship between Trump and Stephanie Clifford in October 2016, but executives at Fox News killed it. Clifford uses the stage name “Stormy Daniels.”
WSJ reported Trump lawyer Michael Cohen used a private Delaware company, Essential Consultants LLC, established on October 17, 2016, to make the $130,000 payment to Stephanie Clifford cited in Week 61.
Cohen listed himself as the “ authorized person” for the company, rather than hiring a lawyer or an agent, a tactic used to obscure identity. Clifford was identified as “Peggy Peterson” in the agreement to hide her identity.
Cohen had planned to use a Delaware company called Resolution Consultants LLC, created September 30, to make the payment. On the morning he created Essential, he dissolved Resolution two minutes later.
Mother Jones reported that during a series of sexual and romantic encounters between Stephanie Clifford and Trump, he had her spank him with a . Forbes magazine with him, Ivanka, and Donald Jr. on the cover
On Friday, the Trump regime rescinded 2016 guidance from the Obama administration which said defunding Planned Parenthood could be against federal law.
Variety reported Trump may skip the Super Bowl pre-game interview, breaking a decades-old tradition. Trump has been highly-critical of NFLplayers for kneeling during the national anthem.
On Tuesday, in a special election in the 10th state senate district in Wisconsin, Democrat Patty Schachtner won by nine points, in a district Trump carried by 17 points in 2016.
On Thursday, Trump visited Pennsylvania’s 18th district where a special election for a congressional seat will be held in March. Trump tweeted he was going “to give my total support to RICK SACCONE,” a “great guy.”
Later that morning, the White House denied Trump’s visit to Pennsylvania was for Saccone’s campaign. Press secretary Sanders said the trip was instead “to discuss the incredible successes his tax plan is already achieving.”
A Gallup survey of 134 countries found approval of US leadership at 30% after Trump’s first year, a record low and down from 48% in Obama’s last year. China is second at 31%, and Germany is now the top-rated global power at 41%.
In the Western Hemisphere, Trump’s approval plummeted: Canadian approval of US leadership fell from 60% to 20%, and Mexico approval fell from 44% to 16%. Approval of US leadership in Iceland is just 8%.
Trump finished his first year with 37% approval, the lowest in modern history. Unlike his predecessors, Trump’s approval stayed in a narrow 10 point range since he took office, the least movement since Johnson.
On Thursday, Bloomberg reported Trump would mark the one-year anniversary of his inauguration with a gala at Mar-a-Lago, with tickets starting at $100K a couple, and $250K to participate in a roundtable.
At the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, the government shut down. This is the first government shutdown in which one party is in the control of the House, Senate, and White House.
Trump was originally scheduled to fly to Mar-a-Lago on Friday at 4 p.m. He canceled due to the shutdown, but the Mar-a-Lago Saturday gala moved forward without him, with Donald Jr. and Eric hosting in his place.
In Week 9, before taking office, Trump said he would hand over the family businesses to Donald Jr. and Eric, and not mix politics with business.
USA Today reported a year after Trump’s inauguration, for which the committee raised a record $106.7 million, there is still no clarity or accounting of where the leftover funds have gone.
Trump raised double what Obama’s committee raised, for a much smaller event. Thomas Barrack, the inaugural committee’s chairman, had said extra money would go to charity, but would not comment to USA Today.
Mother Jones outlined women’s political activism in the year since the Women’s March: a record 602 are running for office in 2018, 480 of who are not incumbents; 441,808 donated $200 or more to a federal political campaign in the first half of 2017, eight times higher than 2013.
On the anniversary of the historic Women’s March, millions of women, children, and male allies again took to the streets in cities across the country.
The size of the Women’s March in Chicago exceeded last year, as over 300K showed. Hundreds of thousands showed up at marches in DC, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and tens of thousands in 250 cities across the country including Austin, Charlotte, Cleveland, Chattanooga, and more.
Week 61 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
January 13, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-61-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-1691307f33d5
This is the longest weekly list so far, and contains historic moments. Senator Dianne Feinstein released 300 pages of Fusion GPS testimony on the Steele dossier, days after her Republican colleagues had unilaterally issued the committee’s first criminal referral to the FBI, implicating Steele. Trump’s “shithole” countries statement prompted worldwide condemnation and questions of whether he is eroding US moral authority — while concerns about his fitness for office continued to swirl.
This week there were innumerable shocking and important developments, including proposed changes to Medicaid, exempting Florida from offshore drilling, and waiving fines for five megabanks, including Deutsche Bank — all of which, in a week of sheer bedlam, got little or no attention. Oprah Winfrey’s historic “a new day is on the horizon” speech at the Golden Globes, which captured the country’s attention Sunday night and prompted speculation of a possible presidential run, was a distant memory by Tuesday.
This week the featured art is from Loretto, a London-based street artist. *Not my photos.
WAPO reported that Trump has made more than 2,000 false or misleading claims in his first 355 days in office — on average, 5.6 claims per day. The Twitter account for the
House Committee on Natural Resources attacked outdoor apparel company Patagonia in a tweet with a graphic referring to the company as “lying” and “hiding.” On Sunday’s “
State of the Union,” Jake Tapper cut off Stephen Miller, saying “There’s one viewer that you care about right now and you’re being obsequious,” adding “You’re being a factotum in order to please him.” Contradicting Trump regime talking points,
Sebastian Gorka said he was told to cooperate with he got a bad feeling and did not. Steve Bannon was set to meet with Wolff after him. Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff, but said after meeting him in Reince Priebus’s office On Sunday, the same day as the Golden Globes,
Trump delayed his “fake news awards” he has teased about on Twitter, adding interest had exceeded his expectations. On Sunday, in her speech accepting her Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes, Oprah spoke of being “inspired” by the
women coming forward as part of #MeToo, and harkened “A new day is on the horizon.” In response to Trump’s fake news awards, the
Committee to Protect Journalists announced their Press Oppressors awards. Trump won the category, “Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom” and was the runner-up in “Most Thin-skinned.” On Sunday,
Axios reported according to a copy of his real schedule, Trump’s time in the Oval Office has shrunk to 11am to 6pm, then he’s back to the residence. During the day he also has blocks of “Executive Time.” According to a source,
Axios reported Executive Time means TV and Twitter time alone in the residence. Trump schedule also lists 8 am to 11 am as Executive Time in the Oval Office, but most is spent at the residence. On Sunday, Trump
tweeted then deleted a column in the .” He then tweeted a corrected form, “consequential presidency.” NY Post which he incorrectly said referred to his “enormously consensual presidency Trump also mistakenly linked to
the email address of the author of the column, Michael Goodwin, rather than to the article. On Sunday,
Bannon apologized for his role in Wolff’s book in a statement given to Axios — expressing “regret” to Trump, praising Donald Jr., and adding, “There was no collusion and the investigation is a witch hunt.” On Monday, CNN reported in
early 2016, before Bannon and Trump became allies, a watchdog group led by Bannon tried to shop anti-Trump research alleging ties between Trump companies and organized crime. On Monday, Trump spokesman
Hogan Gidley said the WH is not accepting Bannon’s apology over his attacks on Trump and his family, adding Jared Kushner and Ivanka are “sacrificing” for the nation. On Tuesday,
Bannon stepped down as executive chairman of the departure was forced by his one-time patron, Rebekah Mercer. Breitbart over the controversy sparked by this remarks in the Wolff book. NYT reported On Monday,
at a speech to the American Farm Bureau in Nashville, Trump told the crowd it was a privilege to have voted for him: “Oh, are you happy you voted for me? You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege.”
Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Detroit ICE will proceed with deporting Yancarlos Mendez, a 27 year-old caregiver for a 6-year-old paraplegic boy. ICE says Mendez has overstayed his visit under a visa program. The County Sheriff in Williamson,TX
is investigating a noose found on a campaign sign outside the home of a supporter of Democrat Christine Mann, who is running for Texas’ 31st congressional district. A federal judge in NJ
lifted a decree dating back to 1982 which had barred the RNC from poll watching and other election day activities. Democrats had cited Sean Spicer’s presence in poll watching activities in their case. Joe Arpaio, the 85 year-old former sheriff with a history of racial profiling and mistreating immigrants, who in
Week 41 was pardoned by Trump, announced he will run for the AZ senate seat vacated by Jeff Flake. On Monday,
the Trump regime announced the end of the Temporary Protected Status permits for about 200,000 Salvadorans who have lived in the country since at least 2001, leaving them to face deportation. In Trump’s first year, arrests by
ICE are up by 40%. Trump has also slashed the number of refugees accepted into the US to the lowest levels since 1980. Nearly 700,000 are also set to lose protection under DACA.
Miami Herald reported Trump’s DHS is considering a new regulation that would prevent H-1B visa extensions for hundreds of thousands of workers, predominantly from India, who work in the technology field.
ICE conducted pre-dawn raids on 98 7-Eleven stores across the country to check employees’ immigration status in one of the most sweeping probes taken against an employer under Trump. Twenty-one were arrested. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that
while a legal challenge to ending the Obama-era DACA program proceeds, protections against deportation for the 690,000 Dreamers must stay in place. Also in the ruling, the judge said
anyone who has DACA protection expiring can renew it. On Wednesday, the WH responded, calling the injunction “outrageous.” The Trump regime vowed to fight the ruling. Deyshia Hargrave,
a Louisiana teacher, was handcuffed and forcibly removed from a school board meeting after questioning the superintendent’s pay raise. Hundreds of teachers, parents and officials rallied in her support.
WAPO reported Renee Thole, a white social studies teacher in Ohio, told a 13 year-old black student that he would be lynched if he didn’t stop talking in class. Thole was reprimanded and sent for cultural sensitivity training. A panel of federal judges
struck down NC’s congressional map saying it unconstitutionally gerrymandered, and demanded state Republicans redraw lines ahead of midterms. This is a first by federal courts. On Thursday, the Trump regime issued guidelines to states which will
require people to work or prepare for jobs in order to receive Medicaid, the first time this requirement would exist in Medicaid’s half-century history.
IBT reported during the Christmas holiday, the Trump regime quietly waived part of the punishment for five megabanks who were convicted and fined for manipulating global interest rates, including Deutsche Bank.
NYT reported that the blueprint for what has become Trump’s energy policy looks similar to confidential memo by Robert Murray, CEO of coal company Murray Energy, who donated $300K to Trump’s inauguration. On Tuesday,
the Trump regime granted an exception to the state of Florida for the announced plan to open offshore drilling off the US coastline in Week 60. Observers noted Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is located in FL. On Monday,
Trump renominated K.T. McFarland for ambassador to Singapore. In Week 56, NYT reported on McFarland’s emails revealing she had knowledge of a crucial email exchange between Michael Flynn and Sergey Kislyak. On Monday,
Trump renominated 21 judicial nominees, including two rated “not qualified” to be federal judges by the American Bar Association.
WSJ reported Robert Weaver, Trump’s nominee to lead the troubled Indian Health Service, misrepresented his leadership roles and work experience at a Missouri hospital to a Senate sub-committee. On Monday,
Trump nominated Marie Royce, wife of Republican Rep. Ed Royce from CA, to a senior State Department role. Also on Monday,
Rep. Royce said he would retire. Royce became the eighth Republican committee chair to not seek re-election in November 2018. On Tuesday, another CA congressman,
conservative attack dog Darrell Issa said he would not seek re-election. Trump’s unpopularity continues to weigh on Republicans, and many expect a blue wave in midterms. Second lady Karen
Pence’s chief of staff, Kristan King Nevins, resigned. On Tuesday, CNN reported
WH aides have been told to decide by the end of January if they plan to stay on through the November midterms. Chief of staff John Kelly is finding it difficult to replace top advisors who have already left. People in the
WH say exhaustion for employees is magnified by the chaos and unpredictability under Trump. Potential and existing employees are also concerned about the ongoing Mueller probe and legal fees.
Don McGahn, the WH counsel, and HR McMaster, Trump’s second NSA, are considering resigning. McGahn’s wife Shannon resigned from the Treasury Department in Week 60.
Bloomberg reported Geoffrey Berman, Trump’s interim Southern District of NY AG, has longstanding business ties to Deutsche Bank starting when he worked for law firm Greenberg Traurig, and continuing until recently.
A decade ago, Berman was brought in by Robert Khuzami, then general counsel for Deutsche’s US operations. Now, Berman has tapped Khuzamito be his deputy.
Kirsten Gillibrand said she will use her “blue-slip,” which gives senators a way to block confirmation of nominees in their state, to block Berman, citing his conflicts of interest with Trump, including the fact that Trump interviewed him as part of the nomination process. On Monday,
NBC News reported initial talks between Trump’s lawyers and Mueller are underway for Trump to be interviewed. A range of possibilities from handwritten responses to a formal sit-down are being discussed. Trump’s lawyers are seeking clarification on whether Trump would be interviewed by Mueller, legal standard, location, topics, and duration.
Trump’s lawyers are trying to avoid an in-person interview. On Monday,
WAPO reported Mueller is likely to seek an interview of Trump. A source said Mueller’s team could interview Trump in the next several weeks, saying “This is moving faster than anyone really realizes.” On Wednesday,
at a press conference with Norwegian PM Erna Solberg, Trump again complained about Hillary Clinton and the FBI, saying “A lot of people looked on that as being a very serious breach, and it really was,” referring to a 2016 interview Clinton had with the FBI regarding her email server. Trump also said there was
“no collusion” with Russia seven times. He called the Russian investigation a “phony cloud,” calling it a “Democratic hoax that was brought up as an excuse for losing the election.” Also at the press conference,
Trump lauded the delivery of F-52s to Norway. No such plane exists, except in a popular video game. Also at the press conference,
Trump deflected questions on whether he would do a sit-down interview with Mueller, saying “we’ll see what happens…it seems unlikely that you’d even have an interview.” On Friday,
Bloomberg reported despite Trump’s statement, his lawyers and Mueller’s team are continuing talks about an interview. The next call will be next week, and working out the details could take several weeks.
BuzzFeed reported the biography for Joseph Mifsud, the professor who met with George Papadopoulos and told him the Russians had dirt on Hillary, was removed from the website at the university in Italy where works.
BuzzFeed reported the Trump regime is seeking a broad reset with Russia in 2018, setting up numerous high-level engagements with the Russian government, the first such meetings since the Ukraine crisis in 2013.
Daily Beast reported in February 2017, Kevin Harrington, a senior official for strategic planning on Trump’s NSC, proposed withdrawing US forces Eastern Europe as an overture to Putin. On Tuesday,
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee released the senate testimony of Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS, breaking with her Republican colleague, committee chair Chuck Grassley.
The release reflects a growing partisan divide: in Week 60, Sens. Grassley and Lindsey Graham made the committee’s first criminal referral against Steele without consulting Democrats, including Feinstein, the ranking member.
Feinstein stated, “The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice.” Feinstein also noted,
“to my knowledge, there is not a single fact that’s proven to be incorrect” in the dossier. A spokesperson for
Grassley said Feinstein’s action “undermines the integrity of the committee’s oversight work and jeopardizes its ability to secure candid voluntary testimony.” Republican Sen
Sen. John Cornyn, also on the committee, broke from Grassley saying, “I respect Chairman Grassley, and I don’t really understand how this happened, but I do think more transparency is important.” The transcript indicates that
Steele first reached out to the FBI in July 2016, because, according to Simpson’s testimony, Steele felt there was a crime in progress, “He said he was professionally obligated to do it,” According to Simpson’s testimony,
Steele was concerned that Trump could be blackmailed by the Russians over an alleged 2013 sexual escapadebelieved to have been recorded at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Moscow, Based on the transcript, when the
FBI met with Steele in September 2016 for a full debriefing in Rome, the bureau already knew about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Per the transcript, and as reported by the
NYT in Week 60, an Australian diplomat had informed the FBI about his conversation with Papadopoulos regarding Hillary’s hacked emails, and an investigation was opened. Republicans have in recent weeks sought to discredit the Trump-Russia probe by diminishing the credibility of Steele and the dossier, thought to be the original source of the FBI investigation.
This appears to be false.
Steele ended contact with the FBI after a front-page story at the between Trump and Russia. This was inaccurate reporting — the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation began in July 2016. NYT on October 31, 2016 said the FBI found no conclusive link But after the NYT story, Simpson testified, “
There was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people and that we didn’t really understand what was going on.” Simpson testified when he started doing his research on
Trump, he was struck by Trump’s many connections to people linked to Russian organized crime, and his frequent travel to Russia. At the time Simpson was working for Steele, he was also working at a New York law firm with Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin on another case;
but Simpson was not aware at the time of the June 9 Trump Tower meeting. Simpson also testified that based on his research,
Trump is not as rich as he appears to be, saying Trump has a lot of questionable business entanglements which should be investigated. Fusion GPS
lawyer Joshua Levy claimed in the transcript someone has already been killed “as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work.” On Wednesday,
Trump attacked “Sneaky Dianne Feinstein,” who he falsely claimed had on “numerous occasions stated that collusion between Trump/Russia has not been found,” and calling the release “a disgrace.” On Tuesday,
Michael Cohen filed lawsuit in federal court against Fusion GPS and “false and defamatory” allegations that harmed his reputation and business interests. BuzzFeed, claiming the dossier contains
Politico reported Republicans are ramping up scrutiny of DOJ and FBI officials’ contacts with the media. Experts raised concern that the effort is meant to intimidate officials and chill investigative reporting. On Wednesday,
Sen. Ben Cardin released a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff report detailing two decades of Putin’s attackson democratic institutions, universal values, and the rule of law across Europe and the US. The report includes 30 recommendations, and says that the US remains
vulnerable to Russia’s aggressive and sophisticated malign influence operations without unequivocal leadership from Trump. On Friday, the
Des Moines Register reported Grassley faced relentless questioning about Trump’s fitness for office and his own handling of the Russia investigation at a rural town meeting Friday morning.
WAPO reported that Mueller’s team added a veteran cyber prosecutor to his team in early November. Ryan Dickey was assigned from the DOJ’s computer crime and intellectual-property section. Russian oligarch
Oleg Deripaska again sued Paul Manafort and Rick Gates in a NY court for more than $25 million in damages over a failed business deal. The new suit cites Manafort and Gates’ recent indictments in the Mueller probe. On Thursday,
Daily Beast reported Bannon hired attorney Bill Burck of the firm Quinn Emanuel as he prepares to be questioned by the House Intelligence Committee in the Trump-Russia probe, possibly next week.
Burck also represents McGahn and Priebus. Experts say having three Trump insiders represented by the same attorney may irk investigators over concern they are coordinating their stories.
Politico reported Mueller is seeking a May 14 trial date for Manafort and Gates. In a new report, the special counsel says they’ve produced 590k electronic items, considerable more than the 400k last reported.
AP reported hacking group Fancy Bear, who infiltrated the 2016 US election, is now laying the groundwork for an espionage campaign against the US Senate, according to a cybersecurity firm report issued Friday.
US intelligence believes the Russia’s military intelligence service is behind Fancy Bear’s activities. Several other democracies and the upcoming Olympics, from which Russia has been excluded, have also been targeted. Despite Trump’s pledge not to expand overseas while in office,
Trump Towers made its debut in north India — 250 ultra luxury residences under a brand license from the Trump Organization. In a letter, Democrats on the
House Oversight Committee called on the committee’s chair to subpoena the Trump Organization for documents detailing payments from foreign governments received during 2017.
BuzzFeed reported that since the 1980s, Trump has sold more than 1,300 condos to shell companies, and that the purchases were made without a mortgage — signals of possible money laundering per the Treasury Department.
’s analysis revealed 21% of the 6,400 condos sold by Trump in the US, yielding $1.5 billion in sales, fit this pattern. Sales of these type surged in the late 2000s and early 2010s, when Trump was in financial trouble. BuzzFeed At the
Trump SoHo, 77% of condo sales were to shell companies that paid cash. In The Weekly List, Felix Sater, who has ties to Russian organized crime and is under scrutiny by Mueller, worked on the Trump SoHo deal.
USA Today reported Trump’s companies sold $35 million of real estate in 2017, 70% of which went to LLCs or other unnamed buyers. In the two years prior to Trump’s nomination, 4% of sales went to such buyers.
NYT reported that Kushner Companies’ financial ties to Israel have deepened with Kushner’s role in the Trump regime. Menora Mivtachim, Israel’s largest financial institutions, recently invested $30 million in a Kushner Cos. apartment complex in MD. In addition to
Menora transaction, Kushner Cos. also has deals with Israel’s wealthiest families and a large Israeli bank that is the subject of a US criminal investigation. Abbe D. Lowell, Kushner’s attorney, said Kushner is not involved with the deals.
WSJ reported the Securities and Exchange Commission launched a probe into the Kushner Companies’ use of the EB-5 visa program in May 2017. The probe is in collaboration with the Brooklyn’s US attorney’s office, which also subpoenaed the company. On Monday, the five member
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, four of whom were appointed by Trump, unanimously rejected Energy Secretary Perry’s proposal to prop up nuclear and coal power plants in competitive electricity markets.
WSJ reported as South Korea and North Korea resume diplomacy and prepare to meet, Trump is considering a limited strike against North Korea, known as a “bloody nose” strategy. Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis are trying to hold him back. On Tuesday,
North Korea agreed to send athletes to the February Winter Olympics in South Korea, a symbolic breakthrough. In Week 56, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and UN ambassador Nikki Haley said it was uncertain if the US would attend.
The Guardian reported that according to a draft of a policy review, the Trump regime plans to loosen constraints on the use of nuclear weaponsand develop more usable nuclear warheads. UK media reported
Trump canceled his planned trip to the UK to open the new US embassy in London, amid fears he won’t be welcome. Trump is also unhappy about the lack of “bells and whistles,” and not being able to meet the Queen. Late night Thursday,
Trump tweeted the reason he canceled the trip is because Obama “sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts.”” The new location was actually picked under George W. Bush. Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, issued a statement saying Trump’s visit would be met with “mass peaceful protests,” adding
Trump “is not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda.” At his first press conference,
Trump’s ambassador to the Netherlands was peppered with questions about false claims he made in 2015 about chaos that the “Islamic movement” to the country. Ambassador Peter Hoekstra couldn’t answer. On Tuesday, seemingly to refute Wolff’s book accusations of his being mentally unfit,
Trump hosted a televised negotiation meeting on DACA which included a bipartisan group of lawmakers. When asked, Trump said, contrary to his prior statements,
he would support a “clean” bill protecting dreamers, and take up comprehensive immigration reform later. GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy then corrected him. By the end of the meeting,
Trump seemed to indicate that his Wall was not a must have for him. Later Tuesday, he reversed himself, tweeting he made clear today that the Wall “must be part of any DACA approval.” On Tuesday, Rep. Brendan Boyle introduced the
“Stable Genius Act” which would require presidential candidates to take a mental health exam. On Wednesday, Trump welcomed the media to his first cabinet meeting of 2018, saying, “
Welcome back to the studio.” At the cabinet meeting,
Trump announced a push for new federal libel laws as part of his 2018 agenda: “our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace,” and people should have “meaningful recourse.”
Trump also complained to reporters about their coverage of his DACA meeting Tuesday, saying news anchors were complimentary — even sending Trump letters telling him so — before network bosses weighed in.
On Thursday at 7:33 am, ahead of a planned House vote, Trump ripped the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act , which his own WH had publicly supported the day before, tweeting the bill might be have been used to spy on his campaign. On Thursday at
9:14 am, Trump changed course and tweeted to reaffirm his support for the bill, saying “today’s vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it! Get smart!”
Trump’s first tweet appeared around the time of a . The on-screen graphic read, “House votes on controversial FISA act today.” Fox & Friends segment in which Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano railed against the bill NBC News reported that
in between the tweets, Kelly raced to Trump to explain the situation and compose the second tweet. Kelly then rushed to Capitol Hill to ensure wavering lawmakers. The bills passed handily.
Newsweek reported that Trump speaks at a fourth-grade level, the worst vocabulary of any modern US leader according to Factbase, which analyzed the first 30,000 words each leader spoke while in office.
A Quinnipiac poll grading Trump’s first year in office found 39% gave him an “F,”17% a “D,” 11% a “C,” 16% a “B,” and 16% an “A.” The poll also found 69–28 he is not level-headed, and 57–40 he is not fit to serve.
WAPO reported a Koch-backed group called The Libre Institute is launching new outreach programs targeting hundreds-of-thousands of Puerto Ricans moving to FL and other states, ahead of the 2018 election. A year after
Trump and Pence touted Carrier Corp in their plan to save American jobs, the company announced new layoffs at its factory in Indianapolis, bringing the headcount there of workers down from 1,600 to 1,100. NBC News reported, based on information obtained through the FOIA,
40 federal workplace safety inspectors in OSHA have departed since Trump took office, and as of October 2, 2016, none had been replaced. On Thursday,
WAPO reported at a meeting to discuss protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries, Trump said, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Instead, Trump suggested the US should bring in more people from countries such as Norway. Trump also reportedly singled out people from Haiti, saying, “
Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.” The meeting was originally to discuss a bipartisan immigration deal with Sen. Richard Durbin and Lindsey Graham.
Trump also invited GOP immigration hardliners Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue, and Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Bob Goodlatte, and Mario Díaz-Balart. On Friday morning,
Trump tweeting a vague denial saying he did not use the term “shithole,” but acknowledged he used “tough” language during the negotiations. At Friday morning news conference,
Durbin, the only Democrat in the room, described Trump’s words as “hate filled, vile, and racist,” adding Trump “said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly.” Graham issued a statement saying “
I said my piece directly to him yesterday,” but not confirming whether Trump used the word “shithole.” Speaker Paul Ryan called Trump’s remarks, “unhelpful” and “unfortunate.” On Friday, Trump followed through with a pre-scheduled news conference at which he said, before signing the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day proclamation, “
Congratulations to him and to everybody.” After Trump signed the proclamation and was leaving the room,
reporter April Ryan shouted the question, “Mr. President, are you a racist?” Trump did not respond. Two of the Republicans senators in the room,
Cotton and Perdue, said in a statement they “do not recall” Trump saying those comments specifically. White supremacist
Richard Spencer defended Trump, and neo-Nazi website celebrated Trump’s comments saying he is “more or less on the same page with us.” The Daily Stormer
World leaders and activists spoke out against Trump’s comments. Several countries called in US ambassadors for an explanation. The African Union Mission expressed its “infuriation, disappointment and outrage.” The
African group of ambassadors to the UN said in a statement they were “appalled” and condemned Trump’s “outrageous, racist and xenophobic remarks.” They demanded “a retraction and an apology.” Rep. Cedric Richmond, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee,
announced they will introduce a censure resolution next week for Trump’s remarks. Rep. John
Lewis announced he will skip Trump’s State of the Union, saying “I cannot in all good conscience be in a room with what he has said about so many Americans.” On Friday,
WSJ reported Trump lawyer Michael Cohen arranged a $130K payment to Stephanie Clifford, an adult-film star, in October 2016 to silence her from speaking about her sexual encounter with Trump. Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels, has
privately alleged the encounter took place at a July 2006 celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, months after Melania had given birth to Barron Trump. Clifford was set to go on “
Good Morning America” in the fall of 2016 to discuss her relationship with Trump, but the National Enquirer agreed to pay her $150K for her story — which the paper then buried. On Saturday, residents of
Hawaii received an emergency alert on their mobile devices and television screens, warning of a “ballistic missile threat inbound” and telling them to “seek immediate shelter.” The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said the alert was sent in error.
“Christopher Maslow is a Miami-based fine artist whose creative practice centers primarily around painting and sculpture. A former Los Angeles resident, Maslow graduated in 2003 from The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising with a degree in product development. He quickly grew into a notable clothing designer and produced for multiple labels in Southern California. A few years into his career as a fashion designer, Maslow found himself gravitating towards street art. Subsequently, after many years of experimentation with multi-media, Maslow realized a greater calling to fine art. Since his transition onto canvas, Maslow has shown artwork in galleries across the United States and has experienced equal success in curation as well. Maslow has been a resident artist at Viophilia since November 2013, and simultaneously runs a studio-gallery in his hometown of Melbourne, Florida.” http://www.viophiliawynwood.com/maslow/
11jan2018, Eau Gallie, Melbourne, FL
Week 60 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
January 6, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-60-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-458d00c10416
This week, as a new book by Michael Wolff on Trump’s White House dominated the news cycle, a myriad of important news stories and alarming actions and trends went largely unnoticed. , and left many new threads to be explored. Wolff’s book confirmed much of what has been speculated about Trump’s mental health and competence for the job
This week Republicans have largely united in their efforts to undermine the Russia probe, and congressional committees continued to implode, save for the Senate Intelligence Committee. Sessions, whose job as AG is again in danger, heeded Trump’s repeated call to investigate his political opponents. Resignations and chaos continued at Trump’s WH, as well as at federal agencies, which despite lacking leadership and staffing, continue to roll back regulations, rights and protections. Mueller’s probe continues to broaden and deepen, this week for the first time drawing in Ivanka.
trees were planted at Trump’s golf course in Florida where a cameraman in Week 59 had tried to get footage of Trump golfing. After saying he was getting back to work, Trump golfed seven consecutive days. According to a NBC News tally, Trump’s New Year’s Day golf-round was his
91st day at a Trump golf course, and 117th day at a Trump property in his first 349 days in office.
Politico reported tickets for Mar-a-Lago’s New Year’s Eve party increased to $600 for members and $750 for guests, up from $525 and $575 last year. Trump attended the party, allowing attendees potential access.
Trump sent a divisive tweet to usher in the New Year, addressed to “friends, supporters, enemies, haters, and even the very dishonest Fake News Media,” adding “2018 will be a great year for America!” During 2017,
Trump also tweeted to his “enemies” and “haters” on Easter, Thanksgiving and September 11. On Monday,
Trump attacked Pakistan, tweeting that despite US aid, the country has “given us nothing but lies & deceit.” The WH said it would withhold $225 million of aid. Pakistan convened an emergency government meeting. On Tuesday,
after giving them an exclusive interview in Week 59, Trump ripped the warning its new head to hire reporters “of a much higher standard,” and to treat him ‘’fairly” or risk their reputation. NYT On Tuesday, in a tweet,
Trump said the “Deep State Justice Department must finally act” on “Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin” as well as on “Comey & others.” Seemingly heeding Trump’s repeated request,
the FBI started to actively investigate the Clinton Foundation over allegations donors were promised policy favors or special access to Hillary as Secretary of State.
Daily Beast reported the Department of Justice is also taking a fresh look at Hillary’s use of a private email server while SoS, focusing on what classified information was sent and the immunity agreements that Clinton aides may have made. Also on Tuesday,
Trump took credit for being “very strict” on commercial aviation and there being “ZERO deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!” There has not been a fatal US passenger airline crash since 2009. Also on Tuesday,
Trump tweeted, then deleted, a tweet urging his followers to watch Sean Hannity’s show “tonight at 9:00 P.M.” CREW pointed out Trump used his official platform to promote a TV show. Trump ally
Sheriff David Clarke was temporarily blocked on Twitter after sending tweets calling for violence against the liberal media, including “Punch them in the nose & MAKE THEM TASTE THEIR OWN BLOOD.”
Clarke will face trial on January 22 over an incident at Milwaukee’s Mitchell airport last year, for retaliating against Daniel Black on Facebook: if I “were to really harass you, you wouldn’t be around to whine about it.” At his New Year’s address,
Kim Jong-un said the US should know North Korea’s nuclear force is a reality, saying he has a “button for nuclear weapons” on his table, and “the entire area of the U.S. mainland” is within striking range. He struck a conciliatory note with South Korea, however. On Tuesday,
Trump responded to Kim’s threat, tweeting that my nuclear button “is a much bigger & more powerful one” and that “my Button works!” The escalation of rhetoric alarmed many on both sides. When asked by reporters about Trump’s tweet,
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said Tuesday Trump “speaks for himself.”
North Korea accepted an offer from South Korea to meet for peace talks, the first official contact in two years. Like the situation with Israel and Palestine, Trump’s actions have removed the US from a leadership role in diplomacy. The
CDC scheduled a briefing for later this month on how to plan and prepare for a nuclear detonation, citing “Despite the fear surrounding such an event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness.” Jan Morgan, who gained national attention in 2014 for declaring her gun range a “
Muslim Free Zone,” and who served as a national spokesperson for Citizens for Trump, announced her candidacy for governor of Arkansas. On Wednesday,
Washington state AG Bob Ferguson sued Motel 6, saying the hotel chain disclosed information on at least 9,150 guests to ICE, including names, birth dates, driver’s license numbers, and license-plate numbers. In
Week 44, Phoenix New Times reported on a Motel 6 in a predominantly Latino neighborhood sharing its guest list with ICE. Following a public outcry, Motel 6 had said the company would stop sharing lists with ICE. The
OR Court of Appeals upheld a $135K fine against Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery for refusing to bake a wedding cake for two lesbians. Sessions’ DoJ filed a brief in support of bakers in CO for the same offense. The Trump regime has until Monday to decide
whether to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for about 200,000 Salvadorans who have been living in the US since at least 2001. The
White House and DHS have signaled for months they intend to end TPS protection as a matter of principle. In Week 52, protections were cut off for 5,300 Nicaraguans and extended for six months for 57,000 Hondurans.
WAPO reported on Trump shrinking down federal agencies. As of September, all cabinet departments except Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Interior have fewer employees than in January 2017 when Trump took office. Trump’s WH, which
proposed funding cuts of 30% at some agencies for 2018, warned about deeper cuts in the 2019 budget. The president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said “morale has never been lower.” Trump has also been far slower than his predecessors
make appointments for key leadership roles in the executive branch, with just 240 of 624 positions that require Senate confirmation filled so far.
Trump is expected to pick Thomas Brunell to run the 2020 Census, a job typically held by nonpartisan civil servants. Picking Brunell, a deeply partisan professor with no government experience, is causing alarm. The Federal Transit Administration notified New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie that the
Trump regime is canceling the Obama administration’s commitment to fund 50% of a multibillion-dollar tunnel connecting NJ to Penn Station.
WV Public Broadcasting reported t he total number of US coal mining fatalities almost doubled in 2017, reaching 15, up from 8 in 2016. On Wednesday,
Sessions used executive authority to name seventeen interim US Attorneys. Seven of the appointed attorneys have reached the 300-day limit on the role they’d been serving as acting attorney, and the remainder will replace other acting attorneys. In March 2017 Trump fired dozens of attorneys general. Sessions appointed
Geoffrey Berman, a law partner of Rudy Giuliani, as interim US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the district where Trump lives and the Trump Organization operates. In
Week 50, Trump personally interviewed Berman and candidates for the Eastern District and the District of Columbia. Sen. Richard Blumenthal called the appointment, “absolutely abhorrent to the rule of law.” NY
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she found it “deeply disturbing” that Trump had interviewed Berman, saying it raises concerns about Berman’s independence. Gillibrand said she would oppose a Berman nomination. On Wednesday,
Trump signed an order disbanding his Election Integrity Commission amid infighting, lawsuits and state officials’ refusal to cooperate. Trump still claims 3 to 5 million people voted illegally in 2016. The commission’s controversial vice-chair
Kris Kobach described the decision as a “tactical change,” arguing the DHS can pursue an investigation of election fraud more quickly and efficiently. On Thursday, the
Trump regime unveiled a draft of a controversial proposal which would permit drilling in most US continental-shelf waters, including protected areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said, “This is a clear difference between energy weakness and energy dominance.”
The plan, which will open 47 potential areas where companies can buy leases, was cheered by oil and gas industry groups.
Governors from both parties immediately spoke out against the plan, saying oil drilling should not be allowed off their coast. Offshore drilling led to one of the worst environmental disasters in US history, Deepwater Horizon.
Sen. Bill Nelson said he would try to use the Congressional Review Act put in place after that oil spill to try to block the plan.
WAPO reported Congressional Republicans quietly allowed a tax on oil companies of 9 cents-per-barrel, that generated an average of $500 million annually for federal oil-spill response efforts, to expire this week. Trump’s
HUD announced in a notice published Friday that it will delay enforcement of an Obama-era federal housing rule that requires communities to address patterns of racial residential segregation. HUD’s notice said the delay is necessary to give local communities technical assistance.
Advocates fear the Trump regime will entirely undo the rule, which HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Republicans in Congress are against. On Thursday,
Sessions rescinded Obama-era rules which stopped the federal government from interfering with marijuana-friendly state laws. Sessions said future prosecutions would be up individual US attorneys.
Gary Cohn told to exempt small and mid-size banks from the most stringent rules would “hopefully” hit the floor in January and pass the House in the first quarter. Bloomberg a Senate bill to roll back the Dodd-Frank Act IBT reported, according to corporate documents,
Goldman Sachs moved to block an initiative brought forward by its shareholders to force the company’s executives to disclose their efforts to influence politicians.
WSJ examined millions of public comments on federal regulations, and found thousands of fraudulent comments in hot button areas like net neutrality and payday lending, favoring an anti-regulation stance. The
WSJ contacted a random sample of 2,757 people whose emails were used to post 818,000 comments, and 72% said they had nothing to do with the comments posted using their email address. Fake comments were found on FCC, FERC, CFPB, and SEC websites.
A spokesperson for the FCC said the agency received more than 400,000 comments “from the same address in Russia.”
Politico reported WH aides are anxious about 2018. The WH has already faced a brain drain with more departures expected in the coming year. At the same time, the WH is having trouble recruiting top talent. Working in the shadow of the Mueller probe and heading into what will very likely be punishing midterms for Republicans,
aides expect limited prospects of accomplishing any major legislation. Aides also
fear the wrath of Trump, and his dark moods as the Mueller probe progresses, and Trump realizes it is not coming to a quick end as his attorneys have been promising.
WAPO reported Rep. Devin Nunes’s targeting of Mueller and the FBI, after Nunes was cleared of allegations of disclosing confidential information in December, is alarming Democrats and even some of his Republican allies. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee also say
Nunes is rushing to shut the committee down and absolve Trump, and has in the meantime squashed their attempts to subpoena key figures including Sessions and Donald Jr. On Wednesday,
Rod Rosenstein and Chris Wray made an unannounced visit to the office of Speaker Paul Ryan, reportedly to discuss requests issued over the summer by House Intelligence Committee chair Nunes. The investigative documents Nunes subpoenaed are
related to the Steele dossier, and are considered sensitive by the FBI and are rarely released or shared outside the bureau. On Thursday, CNN reported that
Ryan backed Nunes, and an agreement was reached to allow House Intelligence Committee members to view the documents at the DoJ, but not taken from DoJ or FBI possession. CNN reported Trump’s lawyers met with Mueller’s team a few days before Christmas. Despite earlier statements,
Trump’s lawyers are no longer putting a date on when the investigation will end. On Thursday,
NYT reported Trump instructed Don McGahn to stop Sessions from recusing himself from the DoJ Trump-Russia probe, saying he needed his AG to protect him. Trump reportedly said, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Mueller’s team is aware of this interaction, and
has also received handwritten notes from Priebus, which say Trump told him he had called Comey to urge him to publicly say that he was not under investigation.
NYT also reported Uttam Dhillon, one of McGahn’s deputies, misled Trump about his ability to fire Comey because he was convinced if Trump did, the DoJ would open an investigation into Trump derailing the probe. NBC News further reported that
not only McGahn, but also multiple other WH officials tried to talk Sessions out of recusing himself from the Russia probe. Trump reportedly was behind these efforts. Counting Trump’s efforts to try to prevent Sessions’ recusal,
WAPO counted a total of eight times Trump took heavy-handed actions in an effort to try to end the Russia probe. Four days before Comey was fired,
an aide to Sessions asked a Capitol Hill staffer for derogatory information about Comey. Reportedly, Sessions wanted one negative article per day in the media about Comey. In an op-ed,
Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch, founders of Fusion GPS, expressed frustration that their 21 hours of congressional testimony has not been made public, while Republicans selectively leak pieces of it.
Simpson and Fritsch say the dossier did not give rise to the FBI investigation. They also suggested congress look into Trump’s bank records at Deutsche Bank, and property sales with laundered money. They said
Steele’s investigation revealed the Kremlin helped elect Trump. Steele saw this as a crime in progress and decided he needed to report it to the FBI, which he did without involvement of Fusion or its clients. CNN reported the
House Intelligence Committee probe is likely to break down along partisan lines, with the two sides likely to issue competing reports with vastly different conclusions on the Russia investigation.
Paul Manafort sued Mueller and asked a federal court to narrow the special counsel’s authority, arguing Mueller has gone too far. The suit is part of a pattern of Republicans seeking to discredit the Mueller investigation. On Friday,
Sen Chuck Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham sent the committee’s first criminal referral to the DoJ, suggesting they investigate dossier author Steele for possibly lying to the FBI. The letter is part of
Republicans’ growing chorus of challenges to the credibility of the FBI, asserting the dossier is being used by the FBI as a weapon in a political smear campaign. CNN reported
the Trump Organization gave Mueller documents on a range of events, conversations, and meetings that took place between June 2015, when Trump announced his candidacy, and January 2017. Investigators also received documents about
Donald Jr.’s paid speech to a Russia-friendly think tank in Paris shortly before the 2016 election, and Trump’s foreign policy speech in April 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel, which Sergey Kislyak attended. George Papadopoulos helped edit Trump’s speech. The Trump Org also turned over documents about
Sergei Millian, a Russian-American businessman who has had contacts with Trump’s teamover the years, and according to WAPO, could be a source in the dossier. On Friday, the FBI published internal documents on their website which show,
contrary to Trump’s assertions, Andrew McCabe had no conflicts when he assumed oversight of the Clinton investigation in February 2016. His wife lost her bid for a VA senate seat three months prior.
LA Times reported Mueller’s team is calling back at least one participant from the June 9 Trump Tower meeting, possibly as part of investigating obstruction of justice by Trump for his role in Donald Jr.’s statement.
Investigators are also exploring Ivanka’s involvement. Although she did not attend the June 9 meeting, she did speak to Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin on the elevator as they were leaving the building. In Wolff’s book,
Steve Bannon is cited as speculating that Donald Jr. brought the Russians up to meet Trump: “The chance that Don Jr. did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero.” AP reported
despite Trump frequently evoking Chicago in racist ways as an example of uncontrolled violence, the city actually saw a drop in homicides from 771 in 2016 to 650 in 2017. Trump became the
first US leader in 40 years not to visit Canada in his first calendar year in office. On Wednesday, the
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland criticized Wilbur Ross’s decision to impose lumber duties, calling them “unfair, unwarranted and troubling,” and vowed to fight the US action. The US trade deficit
ballooned to the highest level in almost six years. On Wednesday,
two Democrats were sworn into the Senate, cutting the Republicans edge to 51–49. Doug Jones was the winner of AL’s special election for Sessions’ seat, and Tina Smith of MN after Franken resigned. The home of
Tina Johnson, who publicly accused Roy Moore of groping her, was destroyed in a fire on Wednesday. An investigation into possible arson is underway. On Tuesday, four months after rescinding DACA, Trump attacked Democrats tweeting,
“Democrats are doing nothing for DACA,” adding Hispanics will be “falling in love” with him and Republicans for results. Republicans and Democrats worked on a DACA compromise, but remained divided over
Trump’s insistence on getting funding to build his Wall on the border of Mexico. On Friday, the
Trump regime asked Congress to set aside $18 billion over 10 years to build his Wall, and provided the most detailed description yet of a 700-mile barrier to Mexico.
Newsweek reported on a short-supply of IV bags on the US mainland because the bags are manufactured in Puerto Rico at a factory still damaged by Hurricane Maria. On Wednesday, news broke of an explosive new book by Michael Wolff. Among the early headlines were
Bannon describing Donald Jr.’s June 9 Trump Tower meeting with Russians as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” Wolff also asserts in
Fire and Fury that Trump didn’t expect or want to win the election, and was totally unprepared to staff the WH and for what came next, explaining in part why Bannon had so much power at the start. Also from Wolff’s book, when Hope Hicks expressed concern to Trump and sons about Corey Lewandowski’s treatment by the media,
Trump responded, “You’ve already done enough for him. You’re the best piece of tail he’ll ever have.”
Also on women, Trump allegedly called Sally Yates “such a cunt” for blocking his request; Melania allegedly cried on Election Day and Kellyanne Conway didn’t think Trump would win; and Ivanka fancies herself as the first woman president. According to the book,
Mark Corallo, a spokesperson for Trump’s legal team, resigned after the Air Force One trip where Trump crafted Donald Jr.’s June 9 meeting response, fearing it represented obstruction of justice.
Bloomberg reported former deputy WH chief of staff Katie Walsh may be fired from a pro-Trump political group and the RNC for comments in the book that working with Trump is “like trying to figure out what a child wants.” On Wednesday,
Trump issued a written statement lambasting Bannon, saying Bannon “has nothing to do with me or my presidency” and after being fired, Bannon has “lost his mind.” On Thursday,
WSJ reported Robert and Rebekah Mercer are distancing themselves from Bannon. Also, they and other Breitbart News Network LLC board members were discussing ousting Bannon as chairman.
NYT reported the Mercers have also cut off funding for Bannon’s personal protective detail. Ties to Bannon are cited as one of the reason’s Robert Mercer was forced to step down from running Renaissance Technologies. Late Wednesday,
Trump’s attorney sent Bannon a cease and desist letter demanding he refrain from making disparaging comments against Trump and his family.
Trump tweeted that Wolff had “zero access to the White House” and the book is “Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist.” Politifact rated Trump’s claim that Wolff didn’t have access as false.
Axios reported that Wolff has dozens of hours of interview tapes to back up his book. Wolff also spent hours at a time in private areas of the West Wing, including Reince Priebus’ office. In an excerpt published in
New York Magazine, Wolff said he conducted “more than 200 interviews” over a period of 18 months with Trump, most members of his senior staff, and many people who they spoke to. On Thursday, Trump attorney Charles Harder sent a letter to Wolff and his publisher, Henry Holt,
demanding the publisher “cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination” of the book. Henry Holt
moved up the release date of the book by four days, from January 9 to January 5 “due to unprecedented demand.” The publisher acknowledged receiving the letter, but proceeded with publication. The contents in Wolff’s book confirmed many of the suspicions, or as one journalists called it, the “
open secret,” about Trump’s temperament, mental health and incompetence — and the chaos of his White House.
Politico reported that concerned lawmakers invited Yale University psychiatry professor Dr. Bandy X. Lee to Capitol Hill for two days in December to testify about Trump’s mental health. Lee reportedly told the Democrats and one Republican senator,
“We feel that the rush of tweeting is an indication of his falling apart under stress.” Concern grew about Trump’s fitness to serve after his tweet to Kim Jong-un.
Wolff wrote in his op-ed on Trump, “Everybody was painfully aware of the increasing pace of his repetitions. It used to be inside of 30 minutes he’d repeat, word-for-word and expression-for-expression, the same three stories — now it was within 10 minutes.” Wolff also claimed at Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a “
heavily made-up Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends.” Hoda Kotb was named co-anchor of NBC’s “Today” show, as NBC replaced disgraced Matt Lauer.
This marks the first time a pair of women will co-anchor the show.
Out Smart reported at least 42 openly LGBTQ Texans are running for office in 2018, roughly three-times the number in any previous cycle. On Thursday, citing security concerns and leaks,
Trump’s WH banned staff from using personal mobile phones while at work. Kelly imposed the ban, which had was previously announced, but now will be enacted.
Roger Stone retroactively registered as a lobbyist for Capstone Financial Group, a venture capital firm seeking to invest in commodities in Somalia. Stone’s work began May 1, 2017, and the deadline to register is 45 days.
Recode reported FCC chair Ajit Pai canceled his scheduled appearances at 2018 International CES, a major tech industry trade show, because according to sources, he has received death threats.
McClatchy reported foreign governments are finding ways to give the Trump Organization business in order to curry favor with Trump, possibly in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause. Trump’s name is on resorts and golf courses in over two dozen countries.
. McClatchy cited conflicts of interest involving Indonesia, Panama, Uruguay, India, the Philippines, China, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea
Politico reported Kushner, who has an extensive international portfolio, is very dismissive about the role of international institutions and alliances, reportedly saying “I’m a businessman, and I don’t care about the past.”
Politico also reported on infighting in the Trump regime on foreign policy, leading to a high level of dysfunction. High level officials have not been able to tame Trump or get him to adhere to consistent policy.
WAPO reported Trump has made 1,950 false or misleading claims in his first 347 days of office, averaging 5.6 per day.
BuzzFeed reported Peter Thiel, working with the Mercers, is exploring setting up a conservative cable news network to compete with Fox News. Thiel had originally enlisted Roger Ailes to help, according to Wolff’s book. At Thursday’s press briefing,
Trump addressed the press about the tax bill, but rather than walk down the hall to do it in person, the message was delivered via a video displayed on screens behind press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Pence lost two more senior aides as Mark Paoletta and Daris Meeks, his chief lawyer and domestic policy director, resigned. This follows the recent departure of Pence’s chief of staff and press secretary.
National Security Agency director Mike Rogers announced he plans to retire this spring. Rogers said he hopes to have his successor named and confirmed this month.
Senior Treasury official Shannon McGahn announced her resignation, becoming the first high-profile departure from the department. Shannon is the wife of Don McGahn, the chief WH counsel. Twitter announced Friday that
world leaders like Trump have special status on the social media network, and blocking a world leader “would hide important information people should be able to see and debate.” This weekend, Trump is hosting a retreat at
Camp David for congressional leaders and members of his cabinet, allegedly to discuss 2018 legislative priorities. Noticeably, Sessions was excluded from the weekend. On Friday,
Politico reported Scott Pruitt has told friends and associates he is interested in the job of attorney general. Pruitt was invited to the Camp David retreat. Late Friday,
Trump attacked Bannon and Wolff again, tweeting “Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories” to sell his book, and used “Sloppy Steve Bannon who cried when he got fired and begged for his job.” On Saturday morning,
Trump continued his pushback on the book’s assertions about his mental health and competence, tweeting he’s “like, really smart” and a “very stable genius.” Trump also tweeted
Russian collusion after a year of study is a “total hoax” by “the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media.”
New York City in November 2017.
“Dump Trump” by Hanksy. New York City.
Brooklyn, New York
Halloween mask in a a store window in the West Village, New York City. October 2017.
Week 59 of liar-in-chief’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
December 30, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-59-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-cb6ff326e3b1
In what was expected to be a quiet holiday week, Trump managed to generate a fair amount of controversy and concern. Along with his regime and some in the Republican Party, A NYT interview revealed Trump continued to attack American institutions and Mueller. — and Trump still does not understand, or choose to accept, the boundaries of his power in our democracy . he continues to lie, irreverently . The issue of Trump’s mental health also resurfaced this week
As Republicans and Trump’s White House prepare for the wrath of the American people in 2018 — the Resistance and even their own shrinking base — Trump seems cocooned from news and real information. The Mueller probe continues in earnest and is expanding its focus, just as Trump’s lawyers continue to assure him the investigation will soon conclude — setting the two on a collision course heading into 2018.
One of the top murals of 2017: Artist RAMSTEKO in Mexico. Photographer unknown.
, WAPO reported FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe plans to retire when he becomes eligible for his full pension in early March. McCabe has been a target of Republicans for more than a year. Shortly after,
Trump attacked McCabe, tweeting how can he “along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation…be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?” Trump’s claims on both the source of the donation and it being made while McCabe was involved in the Clinton email investigation
are false. Trump also tweeted, “McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits.” Following his Twitter attacks on McCabe,
Trump next attacked the FBI’s top lawyer, who in Week 58 is being reassigned by FBI director Christopher Wray: “Wow, “FBI lawyer James Baker reassigned,” according to @FoxNews.”
On Christmas Eve, Trump continued his attacks on McCabe, tweeting in addition to his other false claim about donations to McCabe’s wife, McCabe used “his FBI Official Email Account to promote her campaign.” On Tuesday,
Trump attacked the FBI and Clinton, this time related to the “bogus” and “pile of garbage” dossier, tweeting, “Clinton Campaign, DNC funded Dossier. FBI CANNOT (after all of this time) VERIFY CLAIMS.” On Tuesday, Republican
Rep. Francis Rooney called for a “purge” of the FBI, telling MSNBC the FBI leadership should get rid of “deep state” figures at work in the agency. A 17 year-old was charged with murdering his girlfriend’s parents in Reston, VA.
Her parents had reported the boyfriend’s neo-Nazi texts to the children’s school, and pushed their daughter to break-up with him. Two months before the murder,
a swastika roughly 40 feet across was mowed into the grass of a community field, allegedly by the same teen. Residents now regret telling the parents rather than the police. A
WH intern posing in a group photo with Trump in November flashed a white power sign while the other interns gave a thumbs up. The intern, Jack Breuer, has worked for Stephen Miller since September. At the request of the nursing home industry,
the Trump regime scaled back the use of fines against nursing homes that harm residents or place them in grave risk of injury — such as neglect, mistreatment, and bedsores.
Slate reported under the new temporary leadership of Mick Mulvaney, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s mission statement now lists as its first order of business hunting down “outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome regulations.” The
Tennessean reported on a new policy which expressly prohibits “hand-carried signs and signs on hand sticks” at the new home of the state legislature, calling them a safety hazard. Guns, however, are allowed.
WAPO reported on other efforts within the Trump regime to control the usage of words: the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention issued a “language guidance” document to employees and contractors.
The one-page document suggests changes such as using “all youth” instead of “underserved youth,” and referring to young people who commit crimes as “offenders” rather than “system-involved or justice-involved youths.”
WSJ reported many of the thousands of comments criticizing the Obama-era Labor Department “fiduciary rule,” which requires investment advisers handling retirement accounts to act in the best interest of clients, are fake. On Wednesday,
the remaining 16 members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS were notified via a FedExed letter that they were fired. Six other members resigned in Week 32 in a public letter, saying Trump doesn’t care about HIV/AIDS or have a strategy. On Christmas Eve,
Trump also took credit that “People are proud to be saying Merry Christmas again,” tweeting he “led the charge against the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase.” A
$1 million propaganda-like TV ad campaign featuring ‘everyday Americans’ thanking Trump for many things including “for letting us say, ‘merry Christmas’ again,” started airing Christmas Day.
Trump retweeted an image depicting the letters ‘CNN’ squashed in a blood-like splatter beneath his shoe, originally tweeted by oregon4TRUMP as a reply to one of his tweets boasting about his first-year achievements. Numerous journalists criticized Trump’s retweet of the CNN imagery.
This is the third time Trump has tweeted violent imagery against CNN, including a train hitting the CNN logo and Trump wrestling down the logo.
NYT reported that ahead of the sale of 21st Century Fox to the Walt Disney Company, Trump called Rupert Murdoch to get his assurance that Fox News Channel would not be affected. On Friday,
Trump attacked Amazon in a tweet, asking “Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer? Should be charging MUCH MORE!” Amazon’s shares traded down on the tweet. A senior editor at conservative
National Review noted that the owner of Amazon owns WAPO, but if Jeff Bezos “owned a Trump-friendly outlet, would the president be tweeting this way? Is this really the way a president ought to act?” As repeatedly noted in The Weekly List, Trump has attacked other public companies on Twitter to try to influence their behavior including Boeing and Lockheed, Ford and Fiat, and AT&T and Time Warner.
AP reported over three months since Hurricane Maria, just 55% or 1.5 million Puerto Ricans have electricity. The US Army Corps of Engineers has said it will take until May for the entire island to have power.
ABC reported on the lack of supplies to repair electricity: PREPA needs 52,480 poles, had 6,228 on December 15 with another 8,500 to arrive by year-end. PREPA needs 17 million conductors but has just 347,000.
Vox reported as we approach 100 days since Maria, hundreds of thousands have fled the island; FEMA in its longest activation in history is “tapped out;” the death count is unknown; and Trump as a leader has failed.
Guardian reported that in November, the FBI and US Treasury asked officials in Cyprus for financial information about FBME Bank, a Russian-linked defunct bank, accused by the US government of money laundering. The request for information from FBME Bank
may be tied to Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign, specifically Paul Manafort. Mueller’s team is continuing to examine money flows from Cyprus.
Bloomberg reported FBME Bank is subject of an investigation by the US attorney’s office in New York for possible money laundering, specifically the flow of illegal Russian funds into the New York real estate market.
GQ reported that in June the Commercial Bank of Dubai asked to subpoena Ivanka’s now-defunct fine jewelry line in the Southern District of NY, claiming its diamonds were used to hide money owed to the bank. The bank alleges the Al-Saris family borrowed more than $100 million from the bank, defaulted on the loan,
then hid the money by buying diamonds, including some from Ivanka’s jewelry line. Although permission was
granted for the subpoena in August, the bank has yet to move forward. In recent months, Trump and Kushner have sided with the Saudis and Emiratis, owner of the bank, on the blockade of Qatar.
Russian election officials barred opposition leader Alexei Navalny from running for president in the upcoming election. Navalny called for a boycott in an effort to lower turnout and show a lack of support of Putin. On Monday,
WSJ reported Jay Sekulow reasserted that the parts of the Mueller investigation having to do with Trump will end soon, saying Trump’s legal team is “looking forward to an expeditious wrapping up.”
WAPO reported on Russia’s disinformation campaign which sought to influence our election. Miscalculations, inertia, and an underfunded bureaucracy to counter disinformation left the US vulnerable. Russia hacked the State Department and WH in 2014, before hacking the DNC and others.
A US government delegation flew to NATO headquarters before Trump took office to warn our allies, who said they already knew.
WAPO cited a FBI counterintelligence operation, “Northern Night,” which followed Kremlin-tied freelance journalists, who, using pseudonyms, wrote articles to undermine US democratic institutions during the 2016 election. With the 2018 election approaching,
Trump and the WH have played down Russian interference, which is likely to continue, instead saying US intelligence is doing the bidding of the Democrats to undermine Trump.
BuzzFeed reported the Senate Intelligence Committee plans to wrap up its Trump-Russia probe in the early part of 2018. Chairs Richard Burr and Mark Warner face public pressure to conclude the investigation, including for Burr from Trump. Warner credits
the committee with exposing social media’s role in Russian interference, and having concluded that “Russia massively interfered” in the election and “attempted to tap into” the electoral systems of 21 states. A witness list for January has not been provided, and Burr said it is unlikely there will be more public hearings.
The hope is that the committee will be able to release a bipartisan report. The House committee was plagued by partisan issues. A
WAPO op-ed noted that Russia hasn’t stopped its cyberattacks on the US. Russian trolls still play an active role in attacking the FBI, our media, and Republicans who oppose Trump, as well as spreading conspiracy theories. Michael Morell, former CIA director, and Michael Rogers, former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, co-authors of the op-ed,
also noted Russia continues to actively work to sow doubt about Mueller.
BuzzFeed reported that according to documents and two whistleblowers, the fingerprint-analysis software used by the FBI and more than 18K US law enforcement agencies contains code created by a Russian firm, Papillon. The code was inserted by a French company,
a subsidiary of Safran, which hid the information from the FBI. Papillon has close ties to the Kremlin, and its products are widely used by Russian agencies and the FSB.
Yahoo reported the Mueller probe has outgrown Trump’s dismissive “witch hunt” label, and as is heading to a crossroads as Trump’s legal team presses Mueller to wind things down while Mueller’s team is pursuing new leads. In the last few weeks,
Mueller’s team has started questioning Republican National Committee staffers about the party’s digital operation that worked with the Trump campaign to target voters in key swing states. Mueller’s team is investigation
whether the Trump campaign worked with Russian trolls and bots to influence the election. Kushner, head of digital operations for the campaign, is seeking a crisis management firm.
Axios confirmed one recent contact made by Mueller’s team to a former Republican National Committee staffer. DC insiders believe if there was Trump-Russia collusion, it likely occurred through Trump’s data operation.
WAPO reported federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have requested records on the $285 million loan that Deutsche Bank made to Kushner’s family real estate company one month before the election. Kushner Cos. is cooperating. The $285 million loan
refinanced a 2015 purchase Kushner made from Putin crony Lev Leviev of four floors at the New York Times headquarters, and provided Kushner $74 million more than he had paid for the transaction.
Washington Examiner reported Rep. Devin Nunes issued a subpoena to David Kramer, a senior fellow at the McCain Institute for International Leadership, who traveled to traveled to London to pick up a copy of the dossier for Sen. John McCain. On Thursday,
Nunes wrote a letter to Rod Rosenstein accusing the DOJ of ignoring his subpoenas sent in August for information on the dossier, and saying the response is “disingenuous at best.”
WAPO reported Trump’s legal team is preparing a strategy to portray Michael Flynn as a liar seeking to protect himself if he accuses Trump or his senior aides of wrongdoing in the Mueller probe. Lawyers say this is standard practice. Trump’s lawyers cite Flynn signing the plea deal after admitting he had lied to the FBI. The approach would
break from what Trump has been publicly saying, often complimenting and defending Flynn.
NYT reported the FBI’s Russia inquiry began because of a May 2016 conversation between George Papadopoulos and Australia’s top diplomat in Britain at a London bar. Papadopoulos bragged Russia had dirt on Hillary. In July 2016, when hacked
Democratic emails started appearing online, Australian officials passed information about the Papadopoulos conversation to their American counterparts. Shortly after,
the FBI opened an investigation into Russian interference in the election, and whether the Trump campaign conspired. The Trump regime has been alleging the investigation began because of the dossier. Although the Trump regime dismissed him as a “coffee boy,”
Papadopoulos edited Trump’s first major foreign policy speech in April 2016, and told a Russian contact the speech should be taken as “the signal to meet.” On Tuesday,
Trump again claimed Obamacare is repealed, tweeting, “our Tax Cut Bill […] essentially Repeals (over time) ObamaCare.” According to an Economist/YouGov poll almost half of Republicans believe this false claim.
NYT reported on a surge in Democrats running for Congress in 2018: so far, Democrats have filed to run in all but 20 districts held by Republicans, while Republicans have yet to field a candidate in 80 districts. Following UN pushback on Trump’s Jerusalem decision,
ambassador Nikki Haley announced the US will cut $285 million from its 2018–2019 UN budget, vowing to “no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of.”
WSJ reported Trump has spent nearly one-third of his first year in office at Trump-owned properties, including 40 days at his golf course in Bedminster, 40 days at Mar-a-Lago, and various others.
WSJ noted Trump had said he would transfer profits earned from foreign government at his properties to the US Treasury this year, but he has yet to provide tracking information or disclose how much will be transferred.
Daily Beast reported although many Trump properties are losing business, the Trump Hotel DC is thriving. Trump and his advisers visit frequently, and it has become a place to be seen for both Republicans and tourists. Although Trump said he not be involved with the family business, an
email from the hotel director of revenue shows Trump is very involved still, asking “about banquet revenues and demographics” at a recent meeting. CBS News reported
Trump told friends at a dinner Friday night at Mar-a-Lago, “You all just got a lot richer,” referencing the Republican tax bill he had just signed into law hours earlier.
WSJ reported Ivanka is a “walking billboard” for her brands. The Journal analyzed what Ivanka wore in her social media posts about official appearances, and found 68% include her dresses, shoes, bags, or jewelry.
LA Times reported that while Trump claims he has boosted US influence in his first year, in fact, the opposite is true: he has reduced or altered the country’s influence in ways which are less constructive.
Areas of lost influence include: China now leading on climate change, Russia has taken over Syrian peace talks, Germany and France effectively the NATO leaders, and leading talks in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Breaking a 15 year tradition for Defense Secretaries, Jim Mattis did not visit US troops in a war zone during December to thank service members in combat and separated from their families.
AP reported Trump is the first US leader since Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s to end his first year in office without hosting a single state dinner for foreign counterparts. Close interest will be paid to the first invitation.
Politico reported on the lack of transparency surrounding Trump’s Cabinet. Eight of the 17 Cabinet heads do not release information on their planned schedules or travels, and four provide only sporadic details. In addition,
at least six won’t release appointment calendars, or who their leaders had met with, what they discussed and where they traveled — a potential violation of the Freedom of Information Act. Information released reveals cabinet members
meeting with businesses, and their lobbyists, that they are meant to regulate. There is also concern about hidden policy agendas, and taxpayer reimbursement for personal travel. On Thursday,
Trump mocked climate change, tweeting “it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record,” and “we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming.”
Weather Channel explained that Trump had “confused” the difference between weather and climate, the latter being “how the atmosphere ‘behaves’ over relatively long periods of time.”
Ten more US cities, for a total of 67, have signed on to the Chicago Climate Charter, which requires participating cities to abide by many of the climate guidelines set by the Paris climate accord. Sen. Orrin Hatch tweeted he was “Grateful for this great Christmas honor” from the
Salt Lake Tribune before reading the scathing editorial, calling Hatch out for his power grab and for his complicity with Trump on shrinking two Utah national monuments in Week 56. A Marist poll found “
being a better person” as the top New Year’s resolution for 2018 for the second year in a row. In the previous decade, “losing weight” topped the list 80% of the time. The Library of Congress announced that
starting January 1, 2018, it will acquire tweets on a selective basis only. For the first 12 years (2006–2017) of Twitter’s existence, every tweet was archived. On Tuesday, the
FBI Agents Association announced it received $140K in donations amid the ongoing criticism of the agency led by Trump. Friends of the FBI agents attacked had led the call for donations on Twitter. On Monday, Christmas Day, Trump tweeted he would get
“back to work in order to make America Great Again,” starting tomorrow. Instead, Trump spent the next five days at Trump branded golf courses. On Thursday, CNN reported when their cameraman tried to get footage of Trump golfing at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach,
a large white truck pulled up and obscured journalists’ views. On Wednesday, at a West Palm Beach fire station, Trump bragged he had
“signed more legislation than anybody. We broke the record of Harry Truman.” Politifact rated this claim as “false,” finding Trump ranks lastamong the past 10 US leaders who began their term on the regular cycle. A new poll of
New Hampshire voters by American Research Group showed Trump’s approval has fallen to 27%, with 63% disapproval. On Wednesday,
Roy Moore filed a complaint alleging voter fraud in Alabama’s special election and urging a delay in certifying the results. The judge denied Moore’s complaint. On Thursday,
Alabama election officials certified Doug Jones as the winner of the special Senate election. Nonetheless, Moore stood by his claimsincluding that the election was fraudulent, and refused to concede. On Thursday, Trump attacked Vanity Fair on Twitter for their apology for a Hillary video,
while mocking Anna Wintour saying she is “beside herself in grief & begging for forgiveness!” Wintour is EIC of Vogue, not Vanity Fair. An op-ed titled, “2017 Was The Year That The Internet Destroyed Our Shared Reality,” described how
Trump, pro-Trump media and conspiratorial hyper-partisans have fomented two versions of reality.
Newsweek reported the Interior Department mistakenly used $39K in wildfire preparedness funds for an unrelated helicopter trip for Secretary Ryan Zinke last summer. Zinke faces continuing criticism and scrutiny of this travel expenses.
WAPO reported while Trump is in Mar-a-Lago, his WH aides are looking to revamp the West Wing operations ahead of what is expected to be a difficult year. Proposed changes are being overseen by chief of staff John Kelly. Aides and friends have told Trump
if the GOP loses the House in 2018, not only would Democrats likely begin impeachment hearings, but his legislative agenda would be imperiled and his 2020 re-election in trouble. On Thursday,
Trump gave a 30-minute interview to a NYT reporter. The reporter was criticized for letting Trump ramble on without questioning false assertions, and issued an explanation on the impromptu interview. The alarming
interview is full of false statements such as Trump saying, “Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion.” Not a single congressional Democrat has said there was no collusion. One of Trump’s
most alarming statements was, “I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department,” which indicates Trump’s lack of understanding of how things work, and his authoritarian leanings. Trump
asserted a detailed knowledge on legislation, which it is widely believed he hasn’t read: “I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A.” He made same claim on health care. Another alarming statement came amid Trump’s repeated claims throughout the interview that there was no collusion with Russia, when he added “
and even if there was, it’s not a crime. But there’s no collusion.”
Vox founder and editor-at-large Ezra Klein described the interview as “incoherent, authoritarian, uninformed” and “a scary read.” Klein also asserted, “The president of the United States is not well.” The
Toronto Star reported Trump made a total of 25 false claims in his NYT interview, nearly one per minute.
WAPO reported Trump’s interview with the NYT has caused consternation with WH staff. No aide or adviser was there, or knew about the interview in advance. One frustrated aid called the interview “embarrassing.”
New Republic noted white nationalists entered 2017 on a high note with Trump taking office, but the racist right couldn’t find common goals, and ended the year without accomplishments and in disarray.
Sticker in Miami, Florida. December 2017.
Miami, Florida. December 2017. Artist: 8BitLexicon (sic)
MAKE AMERICA SK8 AGAIN. On display in Wynwood, Miami, Florida for Art Basel 2017
“Fuck Trump, Fuck Hate” – Marlon Brando image on display in Miami, Florida. December 2017.