POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 81: FIRST AMENDMENT ASSAULTS ~ PAY ATTENTION

This week, a new street art piece depicting America and its gun problem is featured with three very relevant political cartoons related to the NFL controversy. The artists’ names are clearly visible for credits.

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Shoreditch, London. Pegasus Art. https://www.instagram.com/pegasusart/

Week 80 of this presidency:  Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

May 26, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-80-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-2feacda0c6f0

This week, despite the White House providing no evidence to back Trump’s claim that the Obama administration spied on his 2016 campaign for political reasons, and despite Trump ostensibly branding “spy” and “Spygate” to rile his base and hurt the credibility of the FBI, Justice Department, and Mueller probe, the media was nonetheless consumed the entire week with covering this manufactured storyline. Reminiscent of Trump’s success in using the Nunes memo as a shiny coin to distract in Week 64, this week important stories and storylines received little or no national coverage.

After a social media barrage at the end of the week, the story that finally captured the country’s and some media attention was the Trump regime’s increasingly cruel and racist policies at the border. Immigrants are being dehumanized by Trump in words, and his regime is enacting inhumane policies resulting in families being separated, and children going missing.

This week had numerous examples of assaults on the First Amendment, including arrests of high school students protesting gun violence, media outlets being barred from an EPA event, and NFL owners banning public protests by their players in an effort to appease Trump.

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  1. Border Patrol detained and questioned two women for 35 minutes after hearing them speak Spanish at a gas station in Havre, Montana, a town in the northern part of the state, near the border with Canada.
  2. On Monday, Rep. Steve King introduced the Mayor Libby Schaaf Act of 2018, named for the Oakland mayor, which calls for up to five years’ imprisonment for officials who warn residents of ICE raids.
  3. On Monday, former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, pardoned by Trump last year after being convicted of contempt of court in a racial profiling case, filed a petition to run for U.S. Senator of Arizona.
  4. On Monday, tripling-down on Trump’s “animals” comments in Week 79, the White House issued a statement saying, “The violent animals of MS-13 have committed heinous, violent attacks in communities across America.”
  5. On Tuesday, in testimony before the House, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said it’s up to individual schools to decide whether to call ICE if they suspect their students are undocumented.
  6. Civil rights groups said DeVos’ comments violate the Supreme Court‘s 1982 ruling in Plyler v. Doe, which guarantees the rights of students to receive a public education regardless of their immigration status.
  7. NBC News reported as the Trump regime prepares to ramp up separating immigrant children from their parents coming over the border, that fromOctober 2017 to mid-April, more than 700 children have been separated.
  8. Children are turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and the government tries to connect them with family members in the US. Under a new proposal from the Department of Homeland Security, relatives would also need to go through security checks, making it less likely they will come forward.
  9. On Wednesday, NPR reported according to an ACLU report, immigrant children who are detained by border patrol suffer physical, verbal, sexual, and psychological abuse, including denial of drinking water and food.
  10. Allegations in the ACLU report included denying a pregnant teen medical care, forcing a 16 year-old girl to forcibly spread her legs and be touched, and threatening a child with sexual abuse by an adult male detainee.
  11. The Arizona Daily Star reported Alma Jacinto, a 36 year-old from Guatemala, was separated from her sons, ages 8 and 11, and forced to wear a yellow bracelet on her left wrist.
  12. The yellow bracelet identifies parents who are arrested with their children and prosecuted in Operation Streamline, a fast-track program of the Trump regime. Prosecutors refuse to tell Jacinto where her children are.
  13. According to The Arizona Republic, the Office of Refugee Resettlement reported that at the end of 2017 the agency did not know the location of 1,475 of the that of the 7,635 children placed with sponsored individuals.
  14. PBS reported Department of Health and Human Services officials came under fire during Congressional testimony in April for the missing children. It was revealed that some of the children had been victims of sex trafficking.
  15. Steven Wagner, the acting assistant secretary of HHS’ Administration for Children and Families said from October 2016 and December 2017 the agency was unable to locate 19% of immigrant children taken in.
  16. NYT reported most of the children taken into government care are from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, and were fleeing from drug cartels, gang violence, and domestic abuse, government data shows.
  17. The Trump regime appointed Ronald Mortensen, an immigrant hard-liner who advocates for restricting legal and illegal immigration and is opposed to DACA, to a senior role in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.
  18. CNN reported an undocumented woman, Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, 20, from Guatemala was shot in the head and killed by a Border Patrol agent near Laredo, Texas on Wednesday. The agent claimed he came under attack by migrants armed with “blunt objects.”
  19. On Friday, Border Patrol changed their account of shooting of the undocumented woman, saying the migrants did not have blunt objects, but “rushed” the officer after ignoring orders to get on the ground.
  20. The revised statement also refers to the gunshot victim as a “member of the group.” Customs and Border Protection canceled a press conference that was supposed to take place on Friday.
  21. WAPO reported in addition to Trump’s tirade against DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in Week 78, he has been berating her all spring over a rise in illegal crossings. The rise, due to migration patterns returning to historic seasonal norms, has stripped Trump of his proudest accomplishment.
  22. Trump is also furious at Nielsen for not securing money for his border wall, even though she was not party to the spending deal struck by senior White House aides that Trump signed.
  23. Nielsen has said Trump doesn’t understand the nuances of immigration law. One expert said Trump wants Nielsen to deliver a crackdown that looks like the Iraq War: “He wants to do shock and awe,”
  24. Trump met with Stephen Miller and Kushner ahead of his February 2017 speech to Congress, and acting like he was at a rally, “recited a few made-up Hispanic names and described potential crimes they could have committed, such as rape or murder.” Miller and Kushner laughed.
  25. LA Times reported that Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council union which represents 15,000 agents, called Trump’s National Guard deployment to the border a “colossal waste.”
  26. The union endorsed Trump in 2016. Judd said when he heard the National Guard was going to the border “I was extremely excited” for help to alleviate the Border Patrol workload, but “that has not happened at all.”
  27. Houston Chronicle reported on Esteban Pastor, a 28 year-old escaping from Guatemala who was detained in Texas and separated from his sick 18 month-old crossing the border. When he was deported three months later, agents were unable to locate his baby.
  28. Few procedures are in place to track and reunify families. Nielsen has defended the regime’s practice of separating parents from children, saying children are taken from criminals imprisoned for breaking the law.
  29. Before the Trump regime, most parents with children weren’t prosecuted for crossing the border illegally, a misdemeanor for first offenders, but deported or freed together under a practice called “catch and release.”
  30. On Saturday, facing pressure for news about separated families and missing children, Trump tweeted blaming Democrats for the “horrible horrible law that separates children from there parents.”
  31. Trump also blamed Democrats for “PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS,” and added, “ Catch and Release, Lottery and Chain must also go with it.” Trump also said we “MUST continue building the WALL!”
  32. On Friday, DHS said, for a second year in a row, it would issue 15,000 additional guest workers visas for 2018, following an outcry from businesses over being hurt by the country’s labor squeeze.
  33. Capitol Police arrested four of the eights students from the Montgomery County Students for Gun Control who staged a sit-in outside of Speaker Paul Ryan’s office last Friday. The students were calling on Ryan to pass common-sense gun control legislation.
  34. On Tuesday, AP reported the Environmental Protection Agency barred the Associated Press, CNN, and the environmental-focused news organization E&E from a national summit on harmful water contaminants convened by Scott Pruitt in Washington DC.
  35. According to AP, when their reporter asked to speak to an EPA public-affairs person, “the security guards grabbed the reporter by the shoulders and shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building.”
  36. On Tuesday, when asked at the press briefing about the EPA turning away reporters, press secretary Sarah Sanders said she would “look into” it, saying “I can’t speak to a situation I don’t have a lot of visibility into.”
  37. On Wednesday, reporters were again barred from attending the EPA water pollution event. Journalists from AP, Politico, and many others were turned away, told the sessions were were closed to reporters.
  38. On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that Trump cannot blocking Twitter users, saying it is a violation of the First Amendment. Twitter is a public forum and silencing critics is not permissible under the U.S. Constitution.
  39. On Wednesday, the NFL announced players will be allowed to stay in the locker room during the national anthem, but teams will be fined if their players kneel during the anthem.
  40. The policy was adopted without the players’ union involvement. In a statement Wednesday, the union said it would review and “challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”
  41. On Thursday, when asked about the NFL move on “Fox & Friends,” Trump said the owners did the right thing, “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem…maybe they shouldn’t be in the country.”
  42. Conversely, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told athletes, “do not [just] stick to sports.” This week, Milwaukee police released a disturbing video of Bucks player, Sterling Brown’s arrest, with obvious racial undertones.
  43. On Monday, at a private White House signing ceremony, Trump repealed auto-lending guidance from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that protected minority customers from predatory practices.
  44. Trump’s Interior Department said it would reverse Obama-era rules barring hunters in Alaska from baiting brown bears with bacon and doughnuts and using spotlights to shoot mother black bears and cubs hibernating in their dens.
  45. On Tuesday, Trump’s DHS unveiled the regime’s proposed regulations which would ban organizations that perform or refer patients for abortions from receiving Title X dollars.
  46. The regulation would also remove “medically approved” family planning services from the requirement, meaning formerly ineligible organizations, some of which oppose contraception, could now received Title X funding.
  47. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher told a group of realtors that homeowners should be able to refuse to sell their homes to gays and lesbians, saying they should not be forced to do business with “someone they think is doing something that is immoral.”
  48. On Thursday, the House passed a bill to reauthorize funds for the military, which includes authorization for Trump’s request to hold a military parade.
  49. Speaking at a Naval Academy commencement, Trump told graduates, “our ancestors tamed a continent,” adding “We are not going to apologize for America. We are going to stand up for America.”
  50. The Arizona Republic reported the Arizona Department of Education plans to make changes to the K-12 curriculum, including removing the word “evolution” in some areas and describing it as a “theory” in others.
  51. In a letter, Democrat Sen. Jeff Merkley and GOP Sen. Pat Toomey,demanded the FCC investigate identity theft and fraud of two million Americans, including the two senators, in public comments for net neutrality.
  52. Politico reported that John Bolton relied on Matthew Freedman, a consultant and former lobbyist who worked for Paul Manafort and was fired from Trump’s transition team, to meet with potential job applicants for the National Security Council.
  53. Mark Inch, a retired Army major general who was appointed nine months ago to oversee the Federal Bureau of Prisons and its more than 180,000 inmates, resigned citing the regime continually flouting “departmental norms.”
  54. On Saturday, Trump attacked the FBI and DOJ, tweeting, “If the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal,” and called for the release or review of documents.
  55. On Saturday, Jeanine Pirro opened her Fox News show, calling Jeff Sessions, “the single most dangerous person,” saying that Sessions is,“the most of powerful prosecutor in the world,” who “hides behind” Rosenstein.
  56. On Sunday, Fox News host Maria Bartiromo told “Fox & Friends” thateither Obama or Hillary “were sort of masterminding all of this,” saying agencies “were all involved in trying to take down Donald Trump.”
  57. On Sunday, Trump vented in a series of seven tweets, deriding the “$20,000,000 Witch Hunt,” and attacking his political opponents, including Hillary Clinton, Andrew McCabe, Obama and the Podesta brothers.
  58. Trump also tweeted “The Failing and Crooked” NYT published a “long & boring story,” adding the “World’s most expensive Witch Hunt” found nothing on Russia, so “now they are looking at the rest of the World!
  59. Later Sunday, Trump tweeted, “I hereby demand….the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes,” and if the requests came from the Obama administration.
  60. Hours later, Rod Rosenstein announced the Justice Department inspector general will expand an ongoing review to include an inquiry to determine “whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation.”
  61. Over the weekend, media widely reported Stefan Halper is the FBI source.Halper is a Republican who worked for Nixon and Ford and donated to George W. Bush, and is an emeritus professor at the University of Cambridge.
  62. On Sunday, former CIA director John Brennan tweeted at Speaker Ryan and Leader Mitch McConnell, saying Trump was on a “disastrous path” and Republican leaders would bear responsibility for the “harm done to our democracy” if they did not intervene.
  63. On Monday, hours before attending the swearing in of his new CIA director, Trump attacked Brennan in a series of tweets, saying he “has disgraced” himself, the country, and the entire intelligence community.
  64. Trump also quoted Dan Bongino who had appeared on “Fox & Friends” that morning, saying of Brennan, “This was a Political hit job, this was not an Intelligence Investigation,” and Brennan is “worried about staying out of Jail.”
  65. On Monday, Michael Caputo hinted on Fox News that there is a second informant that penetrated Trump’s campaign, adding when the truth comes out, “[James] Clapper and the rest of them are going to be wearing some orange suits.”
  66. On Monday, Trump met privately for about an hour with Rosenstein, Christopher Wray, and Daniel Coats. Sanders said the meeting had been on the schedule since last week.
  67. After the meeting, the White House announced John Kelly would convene another gathering between the officials and congressional leaders to “review highly classified and other information.”
  68. On Monday, Rudy Giuliani told HuffPost that Robert Mueller will not be allowed to interview Trump until Trump learns more about the secret FBI informant, saying “I don’t care so much about the name as I do about the content.”
  69. On Tuesday, Rep. Lee Zeldin and 11 House conservatives introduced a resolution calling for a second special counsel to investigate possible misconduct by the Justice Department and FBI during the 2016 election.
  70. On Tuesday, DHS Secretary Nielsen told a reporter she was unaware of the finding in the January 2017 intelligence community’s assessment that Russia intervened to help Trump win: “I do not believe that I’ve seen that conclusion.”
  71. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, saying things have turned for the “Criminal Deep State,” saying they are “caught in a major SPY scandal” and calling the Russia probe, “phony” and a “made up Scam.”
  72. Trump later tweeted his branded term for the ongoing attack on the FBI and Justice Department: “SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!”
  73. On Wednesday, as he left the White House, Trump told reporters asking for proof of his spying allegations, Trump, “All you have to do is look at the basics and you’ll see it. Looks like a very serious event, but we’ll find out.”
  74. On Thursday, Trump tweeted, “Clapper has now admitted that there was Spying in my campaign,” adding, “Starting to look like one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history. SPYGATE.”
  75. Trump incorrectly attributed a statement by former DNI Clapper on “The View” speaking about his new book. Clapper had said, “They were spying on — a term I don’t particularly like … what the Russians were doing.”
  76. On Thursday, Trump also tweeted, without citing evidence, “Large dollars were paid to the Spy, far beyond normal,” adding this is “one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history.”
  77. On Thursday, AP reported Trump told an ally this week that he wanted “to brand” the informant a spy, believing the term would resonate more in the media and with the public, and came up with the term “Spygate.”
  78. On Tuesday, the White House announced that FBI and Justice Department officials would brief only Reps. Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy on confidential intelligence on the FBI’s Russia informant.
  79. After complaints by top House and Senate Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, a second meeting was scheduled at 2 p.m., including the “Gang of Eight” and Gowdy, immediately after the noon meeting for Nunes and Gowdy.
  80. At the last minute, Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, was also invited to attend both meetings. Speaker Ryan said due to a scheduling conflict, he would attend the first meeting.
  81. On Thursday, without advance notice and raising suspicions from lawmakers on both sides, chief of staff Kelly and White House lawyer Emmet Flood attended both meetings.
  82. Reportedly, Kelly and Flood delivered a message from Trump and then left. Rep. Schiff said Flood’s “involvement — in any capacity — was entirely improper, and I made this clear to him.”
  83. Later Thursday, the White House released a statement, saying Kelly and Flood made only, “brief remarks before the meetings started to relay the President’s desire for as much openness as possible under the law.”
  84. After the meeting, Schiff read a statement on behalf of Pelosi, Schumer, Warner and himself: “Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intel agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign.”
  85. Sen. McConnell told Fox News of the meeting that he learned “nothing particularly surprising.” He also told NPR he supports the Mueller investigation, as well as the inspector general’s investigation of the Justice Department.
  86. On Friday, Trump again attacked the FBI on Twitter, repeating his claim without evidence that the informant was “paid a fortune.”
  87. Trump also tweeted, without evidence, “imagine having Spies placed in a competing campaign, by the people and party in absolute power,” saying it was for “political advantage and gain,” but they still “LOST!”
  88. On Friday, Giuliani told the AP Trump’s legal team wants a briefing on the classified information shared with lawmakers, and may use it to take to the Justice Department as part of an effort to try to end the Mueller probe.
  89. Giuliani said the White House is hoping for a readout next week, adding “If the spying was inappropriate, that means we may have an entirely illegitimate investigation.”
  90. On Thursday, WSJ reported, according to emails reviewed by the Journal,Roger Stone privately sought emails he thought were damaging to Hillary Clinton from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
  91. In a September 18, 2016 message, Stone asked Randy Credico, a New York radio personality who had interviewed Assange, for Hillary’s emailsrelated to the 2011 Libyan peace deal. Credico eventually responded, “That batch probably coming out in the next drop.”
  92. Credito told WSJ he first got to know Stone in August 2016 when Stone agreed to be on his show. Credito said Stone had claimed to be in touch with Assange, and had predicted the release of damaging information.
  93. The emails contradict Stone’s testimony to Congress, in which he said he “merely wanted confirmation” from an acquaintance that Assange had information on Hillary. Stone maintains he hasn’t been contacted by Mueller’s office.
  94. On Wednesday, Mueller’s team asked a federal judge to deny a request byAP, CNN, NYT, Politico, and WAPO for a “broad unsealing” of search warrants, affidavits, and other materials related to Manafort.
  95. Mueller’s team argued in its filing that the investigation is “not a closed matter but an ongoing criminal investigation with multiple lines of non-public inquiry.”
  96. The filing noted the probe has resulted in criminal charges against 22 individuals and entities, adding unsealing materials would create “a serious risk of jeopardizing the ongoing and interconnected aspects of the investigation.”
  97. On Saturday, NYT reported on a meeting arranged by Erik Prince at Trump Tower on August 3, 2016 between Donald Jr., George Nader, and Joel Zamel, an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation.
  98. Nader, an emissary for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the UAE and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, said the princes were eager to help Trump win the election.
  99. Zamel came to with a multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation. Reportedly, Donald Jr. responded positively to the offers for help, and Nader was embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers.
  100. After Trump was elected, Nader paid Zamel as much as $2 million after a presentation by Zamel demonstrating the significance of their help. Mueller is investigating these interactions, and Nader is cooperating.
  101. On Saturday, WSJ said it has reviewed a subpoena by Mueller team for Zamel, which has not yet been issued. Zamel runs two companies that were involved in the 2016 election, Wikistrat and Psy-Group. Mueller’s team has conducting interviews about Zamel’s work.
  102. Psy-Group, which is a secretive private intelligence firm with the motto “shape reality,” has veteran Israeli intelligence officials linked to it. Wikistrat uses a network of experts to analyze geopolitical problems.
  103. Zamel’s attorney said his client offered nothing to and received nothing from the Trump campaign. Donald Jr.’s attorney said in a statement that Donald Jr. “was not interested and that was the end of it.”

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  1. On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported Mueller’s team has subpoenaed bank records for payments made to Psy-Group’s Cyprus bank accounts. While Psy-Group is based in Israel, it’s headquartered in Cyprus.
  2. Following Trump’s victory, Psy-Group formed an alliance with Cambridge Analytica to try to win U.S. government business. A proposal sent to the State Department offers Psy-Group “has conducted messaging/influence operations in well over a dozen languages and dialects.”
  3. Mueller’s team interviewed people associated with Psy-Group’s U.S. operation in February. Shortly after, the company’s CEO Royi Burstien told employees in Tel Aviv the company was closing down. Burstien is a former commander of an Israeli psychological warfare unit.
  4. On Wednesday, WSJ reported Mueller’s team has also interviewed Zamel, likely as part of their investigation into the influence of the UAE in the 2016 election. Zamel is said to be close to top officials in the UAE.
  5. Zamel starting making contacts with the UAE in 2014, and founded Psy-Group in 2016. Some of Psy-Group’s work included setting up “honey traps” — creating compromising information to be used for leverage.
  6. On Sunday, WAPO reported Andrew Intrater, chief executive of Columbus Nova and cousin of Viktor Vekselberg, not only made donations to Trump, but also signed a $1 million annual contract with Cohen for help finding investors.
  7. Intrater was reportedly impressed with the large number of wealthy people Cohen seemed to know, but after Cohen was unable to identify any new investors, the contract was terminated and Cohen was paid $500,000.
  8. On Sunday, a newly-filed Federal Election Commission report showed theRNC paid $451,780 to Trout Cacheris & Janis, a law firm that represents Hope Hicks and others Mueller’s Russia probe.
  9. On Tuesday, NYT reported Evgeny Freidman, a Russian immigrant known as the Taxi King, and significant business partner of Cohen, has agreed to cooperate with state or federal investigations as part of a plea deal.
  10. Friedman is accused of failing to pay more than $5 million in taxes and faced four counts of criminal tax fraud and one of grand larceny. Under the plea deal, he will plead guilty to a single count and get no jail time.
  11. Giuliani changed his position on whether Trump would speak to Mueller — telling the WSJ he opposed it, then WAPO he was for it. Giuliani later told BuzzFeed that he and Trump last talked a “couple weeks ago.
  12. Giuliani also told WAPO he was concerned about a perjury trap saying the “truth is relative,” adding, reminiscent of Kellyanne Conway’s alternative facts, “They may have a different version of the truth than we do.”
  13. CNN reported Trump’s lawyers are trying to narrow the scope of the Mueller interview to limit or eliminate questions regarding Trump’s conduct after he took office, especially related to obstruction of justice.
  14. Mueller is reportedly against written responses, and will insist on asking Trump questions about his time in office. The Mueller team continues to be tight lipped, not speaking publicly, about the investigation.
  15. On Tuesday, AP reported based on a review of the emails and documents,Elliott Broidy and Nader worked to cultivate the princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, then lobby Congress and the White House on the gulf state’s behalf.
  16. Summaries written by Broidy reveal he had two meeting with Trump. Broidy was also passing messages to the Trump from the two princes, and told Trump he was seeking business with them.
  17. Neither Broidy or Nader registered under Foreign Agents Registration Act, although both waged an anti-Qatar campaign on behalf of foreign client. Broidy came close to netting more than $1 billion in business as payment for his work.
  18. Cadre, a real estate technology startup co-founded and partly owned by Kushner, is in discussions about a $100 million investment with SoftBank, a private fund that gets almost half its capital from the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
  19. On Wednesday, BBC reported Cohen received a payment of at least $400,000 through an intermediary to broker talks between the Ukrainian president Poroshenko and Trump. The meeting took place at the White House last June.
  20. A senior intelligence official in Kiev said that Sater also helped Cohen. A week after Poroshenko returned home, Ukraine’s National Anti Corruption Bureau announced it was dropping its investigation of Manafort.
  21. On Wednesday, Mueller’s team asked a federal judge to start the process ofpreparing a pre-sentencing report for George Papadopoulos.
  22. On Friday, NYT reported according to video footage from C-Span and and an interview with Intrater who also attended, Donald Jr. and Cohen met with Vekselberg at Trump Tower on January 9, 2017.
  23. According to Intrater, the meeting took place in Cohen’s office on the 26th floor. The topics discussed were shared interests and a mutual desire to strengthen Russia’s relations with the U.S. under Trump.
  24. Intrater claimed Vekselberg, his cousin and biggest client, had no role in Columbus Nova’s decision to hire Cohen for $1 million contract shortly after the election, or the multiple donations made to Trump.
  25. On Friday, Politico reported bankruptcy lawyers for Jeffrey Yohai, Manafort’s son-in-law who is cooperating in the Mueller probe, areseeking to drop partial representation citing unpaid bills and lack of candor.
  26. On Friday, Yahoo News reported the FBI has obtained a secret wiretaps collected by Spanish police of conversations involving Alexander Torshinthat lead up to his meeting with Donald Jr. at the NRA convention in May 2016.
  27. The conversations took place between Torshin and Alexander Romanov, a convicted Russian money launderer, and were wiretapped as part of officials’ investigation into Spanish organized crime.
  28. Despite allegations of ties to Russian money laundering, Torshin continues to travel to the U.S., including to the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2017 where he was supposed to meet with Trump, but that meeting was canceled the night prior.
  29. On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the regime had decided to put the trade war with China “on hold,” despite the fact that meetings in Beijing and Washington DC produced no major agreement.
  30. On Tuesday, following action rebuking Trump in the House in Week 79,the Senate Banking Committee voted 23–2 to make it harder for Trump to modify penalties against ZTE.
  31. On Tuesday, speaking at the White House, Trump floated a new plan to fine ZTE and shake up its management in lieu of sanctions, saying the company has been hurt by an April Commerce Department decision.
  32. On Friday, the Trump regime told Congress it had a new deal to revive ZTE, under which the company would pay a substantial fine, hire an American compliance officers, and change its management team.
  33. WAPO reported a letter being circulated to dozens of wealthy entrepreneurs in China last week, topped with the insignia of a real Republican committee, offered access to Trump at a fundraiser.
  34. The invitation offers a handshake and a one-on-one photo with Trump for $100,000. U.S. election law allows foreign visitors to attend fundraisers as long as they do not pay their own entry, but the invitation does raise ethical concerns.
  35. Watchdog group CREW noted that Ivanka’s business has won approval for Chinese trademarks recently, including on May 7 her business received “registration” approval for five trademark applications.
  36. Politico reported that Trump uses at least two at least two iPhones to contact friends and tweet, which are not equipped with sophisticated security features designed to shield his communications.
  37. On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by reading a letter from Trump to Kim Jong Un cancelling the Singapore summit.
  38. The letter thanked Kim Jong Un for releasing three prisoners, but included a threat, “You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”
  39. Shortly after canceling the summit, Trump told the press, “It’s possible that the existing summit could take place, or a summit at some later date.”
  40. South Korea President Moon, who had visited Trump at the White House Tuesday, convened an emergency meeting after the announcement. Spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters, “We are trying to figure out what President Trump’s intention is and the exact meaning of it.
  41. On Friday, NYT reported the summit with North Korea may be on again, a startling reversal which speaks to Trump improvising and erratic style, as well as deep divisions within the regime on how to proceed.
  42. On Saturday, Trump tweeted attacked the NYT in two tweets, saying unlike what “the Failing and Corrupt New York Times” has said, there is “ZERO disagreement” in the regime on how to deal with North Korea.
  43. Trump also said the “Failing” Timesquotes “a senior White House official,” who doesn’t exist.” The NYT countered, saying Trump falsely claimed the Times made up a source.
  44. On Wednesday, CNN reported Kushner had his White House security clearance restored, after months of uncertainty stemming in part from Kushner being questioned in the Mueller probe.
  45. Kushner’s attorney Abbe Lowell said Kushner met with Mueller’s team for a second time in April for a seven hour interview. Lowell claimed Kushner is finished with Mueller’s inquiries. Mueller did not comment.
  46. On Thursday, Axios reported Ivanka now also has full security clearance.Both Ivanka and Kushner were reportedly given full Top Secret clearance on May 1.
  47. USA Today reported T Retail LLC, a company formed in May 2017 and listed in Trump’s financial disclosure statement as earning over $100,000, is a store that sells items from t-shirts to hats to dog leashes, branded with the “Trump” name.
  48. On Thursday, in a statement, T-Mobile said it hired Turnberry Solutions in August to help in the lobbying effort to secure federal approval for its proposed takeover of Sprint. Corey Lewandowski is affiliated with Turnberry.
  49. WSJ reported Lewandowski receives a cut of the fees paid to the lobbying firm on the T-Mobile contract. Lewandowski has denied any relationship to Turnberry, although they share Capitol Hill office space.
  50. On Friday, in three executive orders, Trump rolled back civil-service protections federal employees have enjoyed for a generation, making it easier to fire poor performers and change rules related to unions.
  51. One order will limit the time federal employees can spend doing union business to no more than a quarter of their workday on “official time,”taking away a benefit granted by Congress four decades ago.
  52. Firing based on performance will change a long-standing tradition of basing layoffs on seniority. The order will now require agencies to charge unions for space in federal buildings they now use for free.
  53. WAPO reported it has now been more than two weeks since First lady Melania Trump was seen in public, prior to her kidney procedure. Melania was last seen on May 10. There has been no update on her health.
  54. On Friday, a reporter asked Trump as he was boarding Marine One about Melania, and Trump pointed to a window in the White House residence, and said: “She’s doing great. She’s looking at us right there.” She was not there.
  55. On Tuesday, women of color, LGBTQ women, and women who have served in the military made historic firsts winning their Democratic primaries. Stacey Abrams of Georgia will have a shot to become the first black female governor.
  56. The Center for American Women and Politics found in primaries so far,women make up more than 40% of House Democratic nominees, a record. Republican House women are down from prior years to under 10%.
  57. The Senate, led by Amy Klobuchar and Roy Blunt, passed a long-stalled bill to overhaul how sexual harassment complaints are made and handled, and to make lawmakers pay settlements out of their own pockets.
  58. On Friday, Harvey Weinstein, whose allegations of sexual assault were part of the start of the #MeToo movement, came handcuffed into a courtroom where he was charged with rape and sexual abuse.

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VERO BEACH, FLORIDA STREET ART: XO LOVE

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Vero Beach-based artist CR Sweeney’s “XO Robot.” https://www.instagram.com/crsweeney1/
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Miami & Brooklyn-based artist Nicole Salgar. https://www.instagram.com/nmsalgar/
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“Tuggin’ at the heart strings” ~ CR Sweeney
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Vero mural

23may18 Vero Beach, FL

COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA: I’M NOT IN YOUR HURRY

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“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.” ~ R. B. Fuller
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“In the Background”
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“I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
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“Be not the slave of your own past – plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so you shall come back with new self-respect, with new power, and with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
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“You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
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“In it.”
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“How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also If I am to be whole”
― C.G. Jung
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“They both listened silently to the water, which to them was not just water, but the voice of life, the voice of Being, the voice of perpetual Becoming.”
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
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“All the effort in the world won’t matter if you’re not inspired.”
― Chuck Palahniuk
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“Two”
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“The only journey is the one within.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

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 “No Damage”
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“As far as the eye can see. As far as the soul can comprehend.”
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Art by Skull and Crossfaders from Jackson, Mississippi.

may2018. Cocoa Beach, FL

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 80: AMERICA HAS GUNORRHEA

Week 79 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

May 19, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-79-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-8703d04269ab

This was the first week in many, many months that the Republican Party showed any signs of standing up to Trump. Meanwhile, Trump and his allies spent the week attacking the FBI, alleging without evidence that the agency spied on his campaign as a means to discredit the Mueller probe—which continues to escalate as it reached its one-year mark.

This week, Trump shocked the country, referring to undocumented immigrants as “animals,” then trying to legitimize his comments by saying the reference was only to gang members. Days prior, the Trump regime took steps to open military bases to house immigrants who are unaccompanied minors, or children the regime separates from their parents, evoking comparisons to “camps.” This week also marked escalating acts of racism, transphobia, xenophobia, and new assaults on the rights of women.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were the faces of our country as Trump moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, leading to protests, scores of deaths, and hundreds of injuries. Kushner, who is still without full security clearance and has no foreign policy experience but is related to Trump, spoke for the US at the opening ceremony, evoking comparisons to autocratic regimes. Signs of misuse of power and pay for play in the Trump regime abound this week, domestically, and with regard to questionable dealings relating to China and Qatar.

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Los Angeles, CA. March 2018
  1. Late Saturday, Rudy Giuliani again tried to walk back his comments about Trump blocking the AT&T-Time Warner merger, telling ABC News Trump “did not interfere with the Justice Department going ahead with the case.”
  2. Giuliani also told ABC News Trump “had every right and power” to block the merger, adding as “other presidents have done in anti-trust cases.”
  3. WAPO reported Trump personally pushed US Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon, and other firms, to ship packages.
  4. Brennan resisted, explaining in multiple conversations with Trump during 2017 and 2018 that the these arrangements are bound by contracts, and that the Amazon relationship is beneficial to the Post Office.
  5. Although Trump and Brennan have met on the matter at the White House several times, the meetings have never appeared on Trump’s public schedule.
  6. Trump has also had ongoing meetings during 2017 and 2018 with at least three groups of senior advisers to discuss Amazon’s business practices. Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, also owns The Washington Post.
  7. On Sunday, WAPO reported as the Mueller probe hits the one-year mark, Mueller is steaming ahead in a methodical, secretive way, while 10 blocks away, Trump combats the probe with “bluster, disarray and defiance.”
  8. Trump reportedly vents as often as “20 times a day” about the FBI raid on Michael Cohen. Trump reportedly brought in Giuliani as a confidant, as he is feeling increasingly isolated in the West Wing.
  9. The number of witnesses called from Trump’s campaign and staff have been “breathtaking,” including Avi Berkowitz, the personal assistant to Kushner, called twice. Some enter through the back of the building to avoid the press.
  10. On Sunday, Axios reported on the record number of leaks from Trump’s White House. A veteran reporter noted more leaks in a week from the Trump regime than in an entire year under George W. Bush.
  11. White House officials attribute their leaks to personal vendettas, ensuring there is an accurate record of what is happening, grudges, frustrations with incompetent or tone-deaf leadership, and an unhappy workplace.
  12. On Monday, Trump tweeted the “so-called leaks coming out of the White House” are exaggerated by the “Fake New Media,” adding of leakers, they “are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!
  13. On Monday, at the daily briefing, deputy press secretary Raj Shah reiterated the leaks coming from the White House, not the disparaging statement made about John McCain, were the focus, and said there will be no apology for the remark.
  14. On Thursday, NYT reported the White House has canceled a large daily morning meeting of 30 communications staffers in response to the leaking of Kelly Sadler’s comments on McCain.
  15. The New Yorker reported that Sean Hannity typically calls Trump after his 9 p.m. Fox News show, and on some days they speak multiple times. White House staffers are used to Trump referencing these conversations.
  16. In the mornings, Trump is alone watching cable-TV and tweeting. Staffers are concerned with this pattern of behavior: Trump formally starts his day at 11 a.m. with his daily intelligence briefings in the Oval Office.
  17. On Tuesday, WAPO reported that according to Defense Department communications, the Trump regime is making preparations to hold immigrant children on military bases.
  18. The Department of Health and Human Services will visit four military installations in Texas and Arkansas to evaluate their suitability to shelter children. The bases would be used for unaccompanied minors, and children the regime separates from their parents.
  19. On Tuesday, at an appeals hearing for the Trump regime’s effort to end DACA, the panel scrutinized Trump’s past statements, repeatedly questioning whether racial bias played a role in the decision to wind down the program.
  20. On Tuesday, a Seattle judge blocked ICE from revoking a Mexican man, Daniel Ramirez Medina’s DACA protection, saying ICE had provided no evidence to back their claim that Ramirez is gang-affiliated.
  21. On Wednesday, Trump called for stronger immigration laws and hammered California for its sanctuary cities, saying of undocumented immigrants, “These aren’t people. These are animals.
  22. Trump also called on Jeff Sessions to investigate Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf for warning undocumented immigrants of an upcoming ICE sweep, saying, “You talk about obstruction of justice.”
  23. On Thursday, at the press briefing, press secretary Sarah Sanders defended Trump, saying his “animals” comment referred to MS-13 gang members, adding “Frankly, I don’t think the term the president used is strong enough.”
  24. On Thursday, the Anne Frank Center tweeted, “When we ask, “how could the Holocaust have happened?” this is the answer. When we think of anyone as less than human, that opens the door to atrocity.”
  25. On Friday, the Mexican government lodged a complaint with the State Department over Trump’s comments that some immigrants are “animals,” saying, “the assertions of the U.S. president are absolutely unacceptable.”
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Los Angeles, CA. March 2018
  1. A 13-year-old black boy in Houston was kidnapped after getting off a school bus Monday. His abductors, suspected of being white supremacists, took him to an abandoned building and assaulted him.
  2. A white woman in Memphis called the police on a black real estate investor who was inspecting a house. The woman demanded to know why he was outside. The police listened to his explanation, then told the woman she would be arrested if she interfered.
  3. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appointed Tony Perkins, head of Family Research Council (FRC), for a spot on the Commission on International Religious Freedom. Southern Poverty Law Center considers FRC to be a hate group, and Perkins is a longtime anti-LGBTQ activist.
  4. Supporters of Patrick Little’s campaign for the Senate released anti-Semitic robocalls calling Sen. Dianne Feinstein a “traitorous Jew,”’ and saying Little will “get rid of all the nation-wrecking Jews from our country.”
  5. On Tuesday, Aaron Schlossberg, a lawyer, was captured in a video becoming enraged after overhearing two employees at a Fresh Kitchen in Manhattan speaking Spanish. Schlossberg raged, “this is America,” and “my next call is to ICE.”
  6. On Thursday, Rep. Adriano Espaillat and Bronx Borough President Diaz Jr. filed a formal complaint with the state court disciplinary system. Also on Thursday, Schlossberg was kicked out of his office space.
  7. A Starbucks barista in suburban Los Angeles is accused of printing a racial slur on a Latino customer’s drinks: instead of writing the customer’s name, Pedro, they wrote “Beaner,” a derogatory term for Mexicans in the US.
  8. Jazmina Saavedra, a GOP candidate for Congress in California, filmed herself confronting a transgender woman using a bathroom at a Denny’s in Los Angeles.
  9. Saavedra approached the woman, says, “I’m trying to use the ladies’ room and there is a man here claiming that he is a lady.” She confronted the transgender woman again while exiting, and later posted the video online.
  10. On Friday, the Trump regime announced a new rule under which clinics that provide abortions or refer patients to places that do would lose federal funding. The rule takes direct aim at Planned Parenthood.
  11. WAPO reported Virginia election officials mis-assigned 28 voters living in a predominantly African American precinct during the November 2017 election, possibly costing Democrats a pivotal race.
  12. The race between David Yancey and Shelly Simonds was decided by picking a name from a bowl. Yancey’s victory allowed Republicans to maintain control of the House of Delegates, 51 to 49, even as Democrats picked up 15 seats.
  13. On Friday, a school shooting at Santa Fe High School in southeast Texas killed ten. WAPO reported that in 2018 so far, more people have been killed at schools than have been killed while serving in the military.
  14. The FCC announced net neutrality rules will expire on June 11. Chairman Ajit Pai said, “these unnecessary and harmful internet regulations will be repealed and the bipartisan, light touch approach” will be restored.
  15. On Sunday, NYT reported Betsy DeVos’ Education Department plans to unwind a unit that was investigating widespread abuses and fraud by for-profit colleges. As Obama left office there were about a dozen employees; now there are three.
  16. The unit was investigating fraudulent activities at institutions, including DeVry Education Group. That investigated ended early 2018, and in the summer, DeVos named Julian Schmoke, a former dean at DeVry, as the team’s new supervisor.
  17. On Monday, Politico reported newly disclosed emails reveal Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency and the White House sought to block publication of a federal health study on a nationwide water-contamination crisis earlier this year.
  18. The report found toxic chemicals have contaminated water supplies near military bases, chemical plants, and other sites from New York to Michigan to West Virginia. The regime said releasing it would be a “public relations nightmare.”
  19. On Monday, CNN reported that a letter from the EPA’s inspector general revealed that contrary to his public statements, Pruitt’s requested 24/7 security detail on his first day working for the agency.
  20. On Tuesday, Trump nominated Gordon Hartogensis, a self-described entrepreneur who is Speaker McConnell and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s brother-in-law to lead the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
  21. The PBGC pays worker pensions when employers terminate their retirement plans. The state of the agency is dire: assets of $2.3 billion and liabilities of $67 billion. The White House did not provide a biographical information for Hartogensis with the announcement.
  22. On Tuesday, the Trump regime officially eliminated the White House’s top cyber adviser role, a position created under Obama. In Week 78, John Bolton had pushed to cut the role.
  23. The cyber adviser led a team who worked with agencies to develop a unified strategy for issues like election security and digital deterrence. Experts and government officials criticized the move as a step backwards.
  24. On Tuesday, the EPA inspector general announced it is investigating Pruitt’s use of nonpublic email accounts to assess whether he is keeping a record of his emails, and whether the EPA is searching all his accounts when fulfilling public records requests.
  25. On Tuesday and Wednesday, DeVos toured two New York City schools, but did not visit any of the city’s public schools. DeVos has yet to visit a district-run school in New York.
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Los Angeles, CA. March 2018
  1. The Scotsman reported Trump’s Scottish resort received £5,600 in US government funds for VIP visits by officials in his regime, marking the first known instance of the property receiving US taxpayer money.
  2. CNN reported that a former Trump campaign aide, Bryan Lanza, is lobbying on behalf of the chairman of EN+ Group, a company controlled by Deripaska. The company is seeking to reduce Deripaska’s stake in order to be freed of US sanctions.
  3. USA Today reported lobbying firms with ties to Trump and Pence collected at least $28 million in federal lobbying fees since Trump took office.
  4. Ballard Partners, overseen by Brian Ballard, has seen the biggest benefit, including a one-year contract with the government of Qatar that is worth as much as $2.1 million, reportedly for potential investments in Florida.
  5. On Sunday, Trump tweeted he would help a Chinese company, tweeting, “President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast.”
  6. ZTE, the fourth-largest phone maker in the US, violated US sanctions by doing business with Iran. In March 2017, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced an “unprecedented” $1.19 billion penalty against the company.
  7. In April 2018, citing ZTE engaged in a “extensive conspiracy” to evade U.S. laws, the Commerce Department banned American companies from buying or selling the phone-maker’s products for the next seven years.
  8. In Week 78, Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, and has re-imposed sanctions on Iran this last and this week, as well as threatening to go after European allies if they continue to do business with Iran.
  9. Trump tweeted, “China and the United States are working well together on trade, but past negotiations have been so one sided in favor of China,” adding, “But be cool, it will all work out!”
  10. On Sunday, press secretary Sanders said the regime is in touch with China, and Trump expected Ross to “exercise his independent judgment … to resolve the regulatory action involving ZTE based on its facts.”
  11. Agence France-Presse reported last Thursday, the developer of a resort outside of Jakarta signed a deal to receive as much as $500 million from the Chinese government. The Trump Organization has a deal to license the Trump name to the resort.
  12. At Monday’s press briefing, deputy press secretary Shah referred questions on the Indonesian project to the Trump Organization. The Trump Organization acknowledged its involvement, but refused to comment.
  13. On Tuesday, top intelligence officials told the Senate Intelligence Committee that ZTE cell phones could pose a national security risk to the US, saying their products could be used by the Chinese government to spy.
  14. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted,“Nothing has happened with ZTE except as it pertains to the larger trade deal,” contradicting Ross, who said Monday, “Our position has been that that’s an enforcement action separate from trade.”
  15. Trump also attacked media coverage of ZTE, tweeting “The Washington Post and CNN have typically written false stories about our trade negotiations with China.”
  16. On Thursday, in a rebuke to Trump, the House Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to accept an amendment that reinforces sanctions against ZTE, preventing the Commerce Department from renegotiating sanctions it enacted last month.
  17. On Sunday, Michael Avenatti tweeted photos, alleging that on December 12, 2016, members of the Trump transition team met with a group from Qatar that included Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, the head of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.
  18. On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Ahmed Al-Rumaihi confirmed he did meet with Trump transition officials that day, “in his then role as head of Qatar Investments,” but that he did not participate in meetings with Michael Flynn.
  19. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Cohen solicited at least $1 million from the government of Qatar in exchange for access on December 12, the same day the Qatari foreign minister was meeting with Flynn and Steve Bannon.
  20. Cohen did not participate in the official meeting at Trump Tower, but spoke separately with Ahmed al-­Rumaihi, who declined the offer. This is the first known time that Cohen pitched his influence.
  21. Rumaihi told the Post of Cohen, “He just threw it out there” as a cost of “doing business.” At the time, Cohen was also angling for a White House position, possibly chief of staff.
  22. NBC News reported Qatari officials have information showing illicit influence by the United Arab Emirates on Jared Kushner, including secret meetings. Trump associates George Nader and Elliott Broidy also attended the meetings.
  23. Qatari officials believe the secret meetings, as well as Qataris turning down the 666 Fifth Avenue deal with Kushner, influenced Trump’s public endorsement of an economic blockade of Qatar by its neighbors.
  24. Qataris did not share information with Mueller out of concern for harming their relationship with the Trump regime, after a Qatari delegation came to DC in early 2018 and felt the meetings were productive.
  25. On Thursday, NYT reported the Kushners are near a deal to get bailed out of the failing 666 Fifth Avenue deal by Brookfield Properties, whose second-largest shareholder is the Qatar Investment Authority.
  26. Foreign Policy reported Cohen met with Qatar’s minister of economy and commerce, Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thanilast, last month in Miami, just days before the FBI raided his office and hotel room.
  27. The meeting took place on the sidelines of the Qatar-U.S. Economic Forum in Miami. A Qatari embassy spokesperson said Cohen requested a meeting with Al Thani, adding “The State of Qatar has never been a client of Mr. Cohen.”
  28. On Monday, Kushner and Ivanka were the smiling faces of America as the new US embassy opened in Jerusalem. In the protests that ensued, dozens of Palestinians were shot dead and thousands were injured.
  29. Trump did not attend, so after an introduction by the US ambassador to Israel, Kushner was the main US speaker at the opening. Kushner has no foreign policy expertise and continues to be denied full security clearance.
  30. Trump picked evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress to give a blessing at the opening. Jeffress has in the past said, “You can’t be saved by being a Jew,” and that “Islam is a false religion that is based on a false book.”
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Los Angeles, CA. March 2018
  1. On Monday, first lady Melania Trump was admitted to the hospital for a kidney procedure. Trump did not accompany her for the procedure, and it was noted the day prior, did not tweet about Melania on Mother’s Day.
  2. On Tuesday, the White House abruptly canceled their daily press briefing. No reason was given for the cancellation. On Wednesday, the White House news briefing was removed from the schedule.
  3. On Tuesday, the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency reported Kim Jong Un threatened to cancel the upcoming summit with Trump, citing ongoing joint military drills involving South Korea and the US.
  4. On Wednesday, North Korea canceled its summit with South Korea, and said it may cancel the US summit if the US continues to insist on scrapping the country’s nuclear program.
  5. On Thursday, Trump sought to reassure Kim Jong Un, saying at an Oval Office meeting with NATO’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg that North Korea “will get protections that are very strong,” if they surrender their nuclear weapons.
  6. On Monday evening, a court filing revealed Mueller had obtained a secret order to suspend the statute of limitations on one of the charges brought against Paul Manafort. The secret order was made public after Manafort requested that the charge be thrown out.
  7. On Tuesday, a federal judge denied Manafort’s motion to dismiss the indictment against him in Washington DC, saying it “falls squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel.”
  8. On Monday, Facebook announced it will suspend an additional 200 apps as part of its investigation and audit process in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica revelations.
  9. On Tuesday, NYT reported the Justice Department and FBI have an open investigation into Cambridge Analytica and “associated U.S. persons.” The inquiry appears to be in it early stages.
  10. The investigation is focused on the company’s financial dealings, and how it acquired and used personal data pulled from Facebook and other sources. Prosecutors from the Justice Department’s securities and financial fraud division and the FBI’s cybercrime unit are involved.
  11. On Wednesday, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying the company offered services to discourage or suppress voting from targeted sections of Americans.
  12. Wylie said Bannon’s “goals was to suppress voting or discourage certain individuals in the US from voting,” adding African-Americans were particular targets of Cambridge Analytica’s “voter disengagement tactics.”
  13. Wylie explained how the Facebook data could have been shared with Russians, saying professor Aleksandr Kogan, who gathered the data, made numerous trips to Russia as part of his work with St. Petersburg University.
  14. On Monday, Politico reported Andrii Artemenko, the Ukrainian lawmaker who served as a conduit for the Russia-backed Ukrainian peace plan, will testify before a grand jury connected to the Mueller investigation.
  15. Artemenko contacted Felix Sater to find the best way to get his plan to the Trump regime during the transition. Sater introduced him to Cohen, who left the plan with then National Security Adviser Flynn.
  16. On Friday, Artemenko told Politico that in “at least” two interviews, FBI agents have peppered him with “assorted questions” about his “meetings, dealings and the questions discussed” with American politicians.
  17. Artemenko said these included congressmen, senators and members of the Trump regime. He was presented with a list of more than 140 questions, and is scheduled to appear before a grand jury on June 1.
  18. On Wednesday, Felix Ehrat, a top lawyer at Novartis who co-signed a $1.2 million contract to hire Cohen, said he would step down in June, saying, “Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error.”
  19. On Wednesday, Yahoo News reported prosecutors and congressional investigators have obtained text messages and emails which show Cohen was still working on the Trump Tower Moscow deal as late as May 2016.
  20. Text messages and emails from Sater provided to the government contradict Cohen’s statement that he gave up on the deal in January 2016. Sater and Cohen first met when they were both in high school.
  21. On Thursday, BuzzFeed reported that in December 30, 2015, when negotiations on Trump Tower stalled, Cohen texted Sater, “I will not let you fuck with my job and playing point person,” adding “Not you or anyone you know will embarrass me in front of Mr. T.”
  22. FBI agents told BuzzFeed that Cohen was speaking to multiple Russians about Trump Tower Moscow, even though he tried to reach and push the deal through Peskov, the Kremlin’s press secretary, on January 21, 2016.
  23. Sater reportedly kept working the Trump Tower Moscow deal through the RNC Convention, until July 26, 2016 when he read Trump tweet: “For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia.”
  24. On Thursday, Reuters reported Jeffrey Yohai, a former business partner of Manafort who was divorced from Manafort’s daughter last August, cut a plea deal which requires him to cooperate with criminal probes.
  25. WSJ reported Yohai pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges in a sealed proceeding in California in January. Yohai also pleaded guilty to misrepresenting his income and assets to obtain a no limit credit card.
  26. Yohai has met with Mueller’s team, who have brought charges against Manafort, and also in recent months with the New York attorney general’soffice as part of the probe investigating both Manafort and Yohai.
  27. On Friday, Reuters reported Mueller recently subpoenaed John Kakanis, a key assistant to Roger Stone. Kakanis has worked as a driver, accountant, and operative for Stone, indicating the investigation is focusing on Stone.
  28. Reportedly, Kakanis has been briefly questioned by the FBI on topics including Russian interference in the 2016 election, WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, and the hackers known as Guccifer 2.0.
  29. During the 2016 Republican primaries, a Stone PAC paid $130,000 to Citroen Associates for “voter fraud research and documentation” and “research services consulting.” Kakanis is the owner of Citroen.
  30. On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee released 2,500 pages of documents related to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. The materials include transcripts and other exhibits.
  31. The roots of the meeting trace back to Trump’s Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, financed by Aras and Emin Agalarov in 2013. Trump wanted to meet with Putin, and continued pressing for that throughout the years.
  32. The transcripts reveal Donald Jr. did not think there was anything wrong with meeting with a Russian lawyer in hopes of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton. According to an attendee, he opened the meeting, saying, “I believe you have some information for us.”
  33. The transcripts also reveal the disappointment of Donald Jr., Kushner, and Manafort that the meeting did not yield harmful information. Rob Goldstone was also disappointed, and had reservations about setting the meeting up, “I believed it was a bad idea and that we shouldn’t do it.”
  34. Ike Kaveladze said Donald Jr. closed out the meeting by telling the Russians they could revisit the discussions about lifting sanctions should Trump win the election. Kaveladze said the Magnitsky Act dominated discussion.
  35. When asked if Trump was involved in drafting the statement about the meeting, Donald Jr. responded, “I don’t know. I never spoke to my father about it.” Later, Donald Jr. said he may have edited it through Hope Hicks.
  36. Donald Jr.’s frequently answered that he did not recall, including saying he did not remember ever discussing the Russia investigation with Trump, or many of the calls or emails leading up to the June 2016 meeting.
  37. Also in the documents is an email from Anthony Scaramucci to Goldstone on July 2017, after Trump appointed him a senior White House role, saying, “Obviously there is still pressure on all sides, but if we remain consistent and united I don’t envisage any issues we can’t ride out.”
  38. Documents revealed the Nov. 28, 2016 Goldstone email to Trump’s assistant, Rhona Graff sent to undermine US sanctions, was forwarded by Graff to Bannon, with a note, “The PE [president elect] knows Aras well. Rob is his rep in the US.”
  39. The Senate Judiciary Committee report also said the Kremlin used the NRA to help Trump in 2016, including an offer for a potential meeting between Trump and Putin, and possibly secretly funding the campaign.
  40. The report found the committee’s work is incomplete, “We still do not know the full story about the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower or, more broadly, the degree to which the campaign cooperated or communicated with Russia.”
  41. On Wednesday, Richard Burr and Mark Warner, leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, broke from the House Intelligence Committee, saying they agreed with the intelligence assessment.
  42. Warner said there was an “extensive, sophisticated” effort that was “ordered by President Putin himself,” with the purpose of helping Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
  43. Several top Republicans in the Senate also voiced support for the intelligence community’s findings, including James Lankford, Susan Collins, and John Cornyn, who said the assessment was “by and large well done.”
  44. On Wednesday, according to a federally required annual financial disclosure form released by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels.
  45. The payment was disclosed in a note at the bottom of Page 45 of the 92-page report states. “Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Cohen in 2017” in the category of value between $100,001 and $250,000.
  46. Federal law requires White House officials to “report liabilities owed to any creditor that exceeded $10,000 at any time during the reporting period.”Trump did not report the payment in his 2017 filing.
  47. On Wednesday, OGE acting director David Apol referred Trump’s financial disclosures to the Justice Department, after determining Trump should have disclosed his reimbursement payment in last year’s form.
  48. In May 2017, information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows Trump’s former attorney, Sheri Dillon, wanted to submit last year’s financial disclosure without having him certify the information as true.
  49. Trump also listed $315 million in debt, including $175 million to Deutsche Bank, and $100 million to a far-less well-known lender, Ladder Capital.
  50. Trump’s disclosure also revealed Trump Hotel DC earned $40 million for calendar year 2017, Trump’s first year in office. Revenue included $350,000 in campaign funds, 60% from Republican National Committee events.
  51. Hotel customers included officials or lobbyists for the governments of Malaysia, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Trump Hotel DC also hosted events for a number of domestic industries, including mining and confections.
  52. On Wednesday, The New Yorker reported the motivation for the official who leaked Cohen’s financial records was that two suspicious-activity reports (SARs), had gone missing from the FinCEN database.
  53. The official said that those two reports detail more than $3 million in additional questionable transactions from Cohen’s account, adding, “When something’s not there that should be, I immediately became concerned.”
  54. The three SARS were filed by First Republic. The one made public by Avenatti details only transactions from September of 2017 to January of 2018, and alludes to the previous two reports which have gone missing.
  55. On Thursday, WAPO reported the Treasury Department’s inspector general is expanding its probe into leaks, to include reports leaked to Avenatti as well as the source of The New Yorker story.
  56. Treasury officials said in a statement that since 2009, FinCEN has had the ability restrict access to sensitive SARs.
  57. On Friday, BuzzFeed reported that according to three sources, the two Cohen SARs are not missing, but rather Treasury Department officials have taken the highly unusual step of restricting access to them.
  58. Sources said limiting access is rare, and most likely came from the top of the Treasury Department. Limiting access to the SARs may have been an effort to crack down on leaks.
  59. On Wednesday, Axios reported a major rift between Peter Navarro and Steven Mnuchin has opened, with the two exchanging snipes during the Trump delegation’s trip to China two weeks ago.
  60. As China’s top trade negotiator Liu He arrived in Washington DC, regime members set to attend the meeting were Mnuchin, Ross, Robert Lighthizer, and Larry Kudlow. China hardliner Navarro was initially excluded.
  61. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported Navarro will take part in China talks. It was not known why the regime decided to reinstate him in the talks, or what role Navarro would play.
  62. On Wednesday, at a commencement address at the Virginia Military Institute, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned of a “growing crisis in ethics and integrity,” and said if we don’t confront it, “then American democracy, as we know it, is entering its twilight years.”
  63. Tillerson also said if our leaders conceal the truth or if “we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts,” then we are “are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.”
  64. On Wednesday, the Senate approved overturning the FCC’s net neutrality repeal by a 52-47 vote, with Sens. Collins, Lisa, Murkowski, and John Kennedy joining Democrats. The House does not intend to take the measure up.
  65. On Wednesday, NYT reported the FBI opened an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia in the summer of 2016, dispatching agents to London for a highly secret meeting, privy to only a handful.
  66. Two agents met with the Australian ambassador, Alexander Downer, who had evidence that one of Trump’s advisers knew about Russia’s election meddling — that adviser turned out to be George Papadopoulos.
  67. The agents summarized their findings on August 2, 2016 for a small group of FBI officials who knew it by its code name: Crossfire Hurricane. Agents considered, then rejected, interviewing key Trump associates, for fear of revealing the existence of the case.
  68. The FBI investigated four unidentified Trump campaign aides in the early months: Flynn, Manafort, Papadopoulos, and Carter Page. Top officials were convinced there was almost no chance they could conclude if there was collusion before Election Day, and chose to keep it under wraps.
  69. On Wednesday, in testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee,FBI director Christopher Wray defended the bureau against criticism by House Republicans. Wray said he doubled the number of staff in March to keep up with GOP document requests.
  70. Wray underscored the importance of protecting the identity of sources, saying, “The day that we can’t protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe.”
  71. On Thursday, Trump marked the one-year anniversary of the Mueller probe, tweeting, “Congratulations America, we are now into the second year of the greatest Witch Hunt in American History.”
  72. Trump also repeated accusations the FBI had an informant inside his 2016 campaign, tweeting “word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI ‘SPIED ON THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH AN EMBEDDED INFORMANT.’”
  73. On Thursday morning, Trump surrogates parroted this mantra. Giuliani told “Fox & Friends” that he was “shocked to hear that they put a spy in the campaign,” and “I think the investigation should be thrown out.”
  74. Kellyanne Conway also appeared on “Fox & Friends,” saying “It looks like the Trump campaign may have been surveilled.” Corey Lewandowski went on Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria,” and repeated the same allegations.
  75. On Thursday, WAPO reported Trump is joining forces with Rep. Devin Nunes and other of his allies on Capitol Hill and in the conservative mediato out a top-secret FBI source in order to undercut the Russia investigation.
  76. Reportedly the stakes are so high, the FBI is working to mitigate the potential damage if the sources is revealed, including steps to protect other live investigations and danger to associates of the informer.
  77. Trump allies believe outing the source and revealing details about their work could help them challenge the investigation, and give them grounds to remove Mueller, or his overseer, Rod Rosenstein.
  78. Trump complains the Mueller probe is “all-encompassing,” and encourages his allies to go on television and “beat the drums.” Bannon is back, acting as an informal adviser to Trump allies in and outside the White House.
  79. On Friday, Trump tweeted, “Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes,” adding “It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a ‘hot’ Fake News story.”
  80. Trump also tweeted is was the “all time biggest political scandal!” Trump also questioned in tweets why “disgraced FBI official Andrew McCabe” wasn’t being investigated, and why the Clinton case was dropped.
  81. On Friday, Sen. Warner warned in a statement that attempts to expose an FBI source during an active investigation was “potentially illegal,” adding, “Publicly outing a source risks not only their life, but the lives of every American.”
  82. On Friday, NYT reported that the FBI used an informant, not to spy, to talk to Page and Papadopoulos only after the FBI received evidence that the two had suspicious contacts linked to Russia during the campaign.
  83. The informant is an American academic who teaches in Britain, and was used, as opposed to an FBI agent, to ensure details of the inquiry were more closely held than is typical given it took place during the campaign.
  84. The informant had also contact with Flynn in 2014 at the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar. The source was alarmed by the general’s apparent closeness with a Russian woman and warned American authorities that Flynn could be compromised.
  85. On Friday, WAPO also reported the secret FBI source was a professor interested in American politics, not a spy. Some time in 2016, he began working as secret informant for the FBI.
  86. In addition to Papadopoulos and Page, WAPO also reported the professor met with Trump campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis for coffee in Northern Virginia, offering to lend the Trump team his foreign-policy experience.
  87. On Friday, NBC News reported the professor who met with both Page and Papadopoulos is Stefan Halper, a former official in the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations.
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Los Angeles, CA. March 2018
  1. On Thursday, a poll released by Survey Monkey found that just 13% of Americans consider Trump honest and trustworthy. The poll was conducted between February 1 and May 9.
  2. On Thursday, while meeting with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg at the White House, Trump again said NATO members that do not contribute fully would be “dealt with,” singling out Germany.
  3. On Friday, Giuliani told CNN Mueller has agreed to narrow the scope of a potential Trump interview from five to two topics, and agreed not to ask Trump about Cohen. Giuliani added “the main focus we want … is Russia.”
  4. Giuliani also backed off from saying there were informants embedded with the Trump campaign who spoke to federal authorities, saying, “I don’t know for sure, nor does the President, if there really was. We’re told that.”
  5. On Thursday, an appeals court denied Trump’s request to stay proceedings in the Summer Zervos defamation suit. The legal setback for Trump could open him up to discovery in the case, although Trump is likely to appeal.
  6. On Thursday, Avenatti told MSNBC that two other women with solid caseswho claim to have had affairs with Trump signed NDAs and received payments may soon come forward. Other cases are also being vetted.
  7. On Friday, lawyers for Cohen and Stephanie Clifford continued to attack each other in dueling memos. Cohen’s lawyers filed a scathing motion asking a judge to keep Avenatti from formally entering the case, saying he was “fanning a media storm” and “smearing” Cohen.
  8. Avenatti answered with a motion, arguing that many of his adversaries’ assaults on him were “unsubstantiated,” “baseless,” and lacking in “admissible evidence.”
  9. One year in on the Mueller probe, FiveThirtyEight found Mueller to be more productive than past investigations like Watergate, Iran-Contra, and Whitewater. Mueller has racked up five guilty pleas, 14 indictments of individuals, and the Cohen referral to the Southern District of New York.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 79: “FRAUDULENT SHYSTER” ~ WHY WASN’T THAT ENOUGH?

* A couple of thoughts before heading into the weekly list from Amy Siskind – I think I saw somewhere today that in Week 1 when she began this, she had like a list of “9.” The evidence of treason, kleptocracy, corruption, and collusion has increased so rapidly that, today, we are looking at a list of “170.” Remarkable. And frightening.

** Today’s artwork featured is that of Jim Carrey, the actor/artist. I used a couple pieces of his before, but this week, he was really on a roll with spot-on interpretations of the various ‘characters’ in this ‘shitshow’ we are being forced to endure.

*** An interesting point was brought up today on Twitter: If we had been more forceful in insisting that candidates divulge their tax information, we would have known without a doubt the extent of his corruption and we never would have gotten to this place. 

WHY WASN’T THAT ENOUGH ? : 

**** And I just had thoughts (regularly consumed by thoughts about this treasonous leadership) – When he dodged the draft FIVE times and said his personal Vietnam was seeing how many women he could sleep with, why wasn’t that enough? (to at least lose the support of the current military and every other American who has ever served for this country) – When he said he’d bring jobs back to America, but had all of his campaign merchandise made in China, why wasn’t that enough? (Factories are closing up and leaving left and right. Today we hear Harley Davidson is moving to Thailand) – When he mocked the disabled, why wasn’t that enough? – When he asked people how hot they think his daughter is, why wasn’t that enough? – When he said he’d like to date her if she wasn’t his daughter, why wasn’t that enough? – When he said he grabs women by their pussies, why wasn’t that enough? – 

What has this country become that we are so divided with an element of citizens that embrace this fraudulent shyster? My anger has just become sadness. I don’t want to fight. I want common sense and humanity to prevail. 

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“Scam-a-Gram”

Week 78 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

May 12, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-78-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-e2f79899deae

This week Trump threatened to take away media credentials, equating negative coverage to fake news. Trump and his surrogates continued to publicly undermine the Mueller probe, pressing for its completion and questioning the validity of its outcome; yet, seemed unprepared to handle the fallout of information made public by Stephanie Clifford’s attorney, Michael Avenatti.

This was another week of resignations and disquiet within Trump’s cabinet as he continues to bully dissent and turn a blind eye to kleptocracy, incompetence, and ethics violations. Against the advice of former senior officials, Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, further isolating America on the world stage. Acts of hate and distrust of “others” continue to escalate, as does the regime’s cruelty towards those not white, straight, and male. While Trump remains popular with his base, increasingly Americans are worried about aspects of everyday life that are forebodingly shifting ever-so subtly.

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“Psycho Mike-O”
  1. The Guardian reported the Trump regime hired an Israeli private intelligence agency to conduct a “dirty ops” campaign against Obama diplomats who negotiated the deal with Tehran.
  2. Individuals targeted include Ben Rhodes, a top national security adviser, and Colin Kahl, deputy assistant to Obama. Trump has a May 12 deadlinedecide whether to scrap or continue the Iran nuclear program.
  3. The New Yorker reported the intel firm was Black Cube, the same retained by Harvey Weinstein in 2016 to investigate the women and journalists who might come forward against him for sexual misconduct.
  4. On Sunday, WAPO reported Gina Haspel, Trump’s nominee for CIA director, sought to withdraw her nomination last Friday rather than face expected tough Senate questioning about her role in the agency’s interrogation program.
  5. White House aides, including press secretary Sarah Sanders and legislative affairs head Marc Short rushed to Langley Friday to push her to not withdraw. Saturday afternoon, Haspel agreed to move forward.
  6. On Sunday, NYT reported Sen. John McCain, as part of his final wishes,has told his inner circle does not want Trump to attend his funeral. McCain would however like Obama and George W. Bush to deliver eulogies.
  7. Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale” which has been made into a TV-series, told ABC News, “We’re not living in Gilead yet, but there are Gilead-like symptoms going on,” pointing to examples like attacks on the free press and attempts to roll back reproductive rights.
  8. On Monday, Trump called on Congress to pull back more than $15 billion in spending approved in the recent budget, half of which would come from two accounts within the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  9. HuffPost reported after several years of dramatic decline, the uninsured rate rose to 12.2% last year, up from 10.9% at the end of 2016, as Trump’s efforts to undermine Obamacare continue.
  10. In Rialto, California, a neighbor called the police on three black women who carried their luggage out of an Airbnb they had rented. The police responded as if it were an in-progress burglary, sending six police officers and a helicopter.
  11. On Monday, a white graduate student at Yale called the police on Lolade Siyonbola, a black student who was napping in a common area of their dorm. Siyonbola was questioned for 15 minutes by police, and forced to show her student ID.
  12. On Monday, Jeff Sessions announced the Trump regime will separate parents who enter the US illegally from their children, instead of keeping them in detention together.
  13. Sessions said, “If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you,” adding, “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.” The goal is to prosecute 100% who enter the US illegally.
  14. On Thursday, in an interview with NPR, when asked about separating migrant families at the border, chief of staff John Kelly said of immigrants, “They don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills” to assimilate well.
  15. Kelly also said he supported the Department of Homeland Securities recent decisions to end temporary protected status (TPS) for Haiti, El Salvador, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sudan, and Honduras.
  16. On Tuesday, Axios reported an annual study of 18–24 year-olds in 16 Arab states found a sharp spike in negative sentiment against the US: 57% see the US as the enemy (up from 32% in 2016) versus 35% who view the country as an ally.
  17. Further, 73% of Arab youth said Trump’s election has had a negative impact on their view of the US. Arab youth view Russia more favorably than the US, as the US fell out of the top five spots for the first time.
  18. The World reported a North Bend, Oregon school district is facing discrimination claims after a LGBTQ student was allegedly forced to read Bible passages as a form of punishment. The ACLU is involved in the case.
  19. On Friday, the Trump regime rolled back Obama-era rules that protected transgender inmates by allowing them to use facilities that match their gender identity, including cell blocks and bathrooms.
  20. Mediaite reported that in a video made last December Juan Pablo Andrade, a policy advisor for the Trump-tied nonprofit America First, praised Nazisand expressed disappointment that they didn’t “keep fucking going.”
  21. On Wednesday, at Senate hearings for Gina Haspel, former CIA operative turned activist 78 year-old Ray McGovern was tackled and thrown to the ground by police after protesting Haspel’s use of waterboarding, possibly dislocating his arm.
  22. BuzzFeed reported only families of Parkland shooting victims who are Trump supporters have received condolence letters or any sort of communication from Trump or the White House.
  23. On Thursday, Oliver North, the newly elected National Rifle Association President, said that gun control activists like the students from Parkland, are “civil terrorists.”
  24. On Tuesday, Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, the top White House official in charge of pandemic response, abruptly resigned after the the global health security team he oversaw was disbanded by John Bolton.
  25. The upheaval at Scott Pruitt’s EPA continued, as John Konkus, the press office’s second in command, became the fourth senior official to resign in the past week.
  26. BuzzFeed reported Elizabeth Erin Walsh, a high-ranking Commerce Department official, was escorted out of the department’s headquarters last Thursday. Sources say she is part of an internal investigation. Walsh is a former Goldman Sachs executive nominated by Trump.
  27. The publication Science reported Trump’s White House canceled NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System, a $10-million-a-year research line used to verify the national emission cuts agreed to in the Paris climate accords.
  28. After Sen. Tammy Baldwin announced she would not turn in a so-called blue slip for Trump judicial nominee Michael Brennan, judiciary chair Chuck Glassley broke Senate tradition by ignoring her and gave Brennan a hearing.
  29. On Tuesday, Rep. Daniel Donovan introduced a bill that would require post offices around the country to display pictures of Trump and Pence.
  30. Trump appointed Mehmet Oz, a discredited doctor who has long used his tv-show “Dr. Oz Show” as a platform to market alternative medicine, to his council on sport, fitness, and nutrition.
  31. On Monday, two top Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) to investigate that the three GOP FCC commissioners attended the CPAC conference in February.
  32. The letter comes after the OSC had concluded that one of the commissioners, Mike O’Rielly, had violated the Hatch Act during a CPAC panel discussion by urging voters to re-elect Trump, and issued a warning.
  33. On Monday, incoming Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held his first press conference, welcoming reporters but taking no questions.
  34. Politico reported Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has done numerous interviews with her father, chairman of a shipping company in China, in front of the Department of Transportation emblem, raising ethics concerns she is using her position to benefit her family business.
  35. On Tuesday, fair-housing advocates filed a lawsuit against the Department of Housing and Urban Development and HUD Secretary Ben Carson for suspending a 2015 Obama-era rule requiring communities to examine and address barriers to racial integration.
  36. On Wednesday, Mick Mulvaney’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said it will shut its student lending office, ending investigations on potential abuses by companies in the $1.5 trillion student loan market. The office had been responsible for returning $750 million in relief.
  37. On Monday, more than 10,000 EPA documents were made public under a Freedom of Information Act filed by the Sierra Club revealed the agency’s efforts to shield Pruitt from tough questions and public scrutiny.
  38. Emails show decisions to limit advance notice of Pruitt’s schedule, to limit questioning and control the message. Breaking from EPA tradition of 25 years, Pruitt does not do public speaking events on most official trips.
  39. On Monday, NYT reported that senior White House staffers are urging Trump to fire Pruitt. Aides say Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist and Pruitt’s deputy, could be just as effective at undoing regulations.
  40. NYT reported Pruitt dined last year in Rome with Cardinal George Pell, a prominent climate-science denialist who has sexual abuse allegations since 2016. The EPA’s official description of the dinner intentionally omitted the cardinal’s attendance.
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Scott Pruitt, “Environment Plundering Ass”
  1. Twenty days after the dinner, authorities in Australia charged Cardinal Pell with sexual assault. Whistleblower Kevin Chmielewski said EPA officials were concerned the meeting would reflect poorly on Pruitt if made public.
  2. On Friday, Trump continued to stand by Pruitt, saying “I do” have confidence in him despite Pruitt facing a dozen active investigations over lavish spending and ethical lapses.
  3. On Sunday, NYT reported Michael Cohen has spent much of his personal and professional life with immigrants from Russia and Ukraine. His father-in-law is from Ukraine, as was one of Cohen’s partners in the taxi business.
  4. As Cohen started working for Trump, limited liability companies he controlled started to amass real estate in all-cash deals, including five buildings in Manhattan between 2011 and 2015.
  5. Cohen also has a history of turning all-cash real estate deals for a huge profit in a short time. On one day in 2014, he sold four buildings in Manhattan for $32 million in cash. Banks steered clear of him.
  6. On Saturday, Rudy Giuliani appeared on Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News show, appearing to backpedal, saying, “I’m still learning [the facts] … I’ve been in the case for two weeks.”
  7. Giuliani insisted Trump did not violate campaign finance laws, “Every campaign finance expert, Republican and Democrat, will tell you…it was to save his family, to save embarrassment, it’s not a campaign donation.”
  8. On Sunday, Giuliani appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” changing his story again on Clifford, “You know, I’m not really involved in the — in the Daniels thing. So I don’t — I don’t know. I mean, he denies that it happened.”
  9. Giuliani smeared Clifford, calling her the “woman you saw on SNL last nite trying to make more money.” He also said, “I never thought $130k was a real payment. It’s a nuisance payment.”
  10. Giuliani also said Trump doesn’t need to comply with a subpoena from Mueller’s team, adding, “He’s the President of the United States. We can assert the same privileges other presidents have,” and said he wouldn’t rule out Trump asserting his Fifth Amendment right.
  11. Giuliani also said it was time for Rod Rosenstein to shut down the Mueller probe: “There’s no question that the amount of government misconduct is accumulating. I happen to believe it’s greater than anybody realizes.”
  12. Giuliani also said he can’t speak to whether Trump lied when he denied knowledge of the silencing agreement, adding, “But in any event, that’s not the crime.”
  13. On Sunday, Giuliani told CNN he is still getting up to speed on Trump’s legal situation two weeks later, adding “I am focused on the law more than the facts right now.”
  14. On Monday, Giuliani said Trump’s lawyers hope to decide by May 17, the one-year anniversary of Mueller’s appointment, whether Trump will testify in the Mueller probe. Trump’s lawyers remain divided.
  15. On Monday, Politico reported Trump had initially told aides he was bringing on Emmet Flood to replace Don McGahn, and did not want to lose Ty Cobb, who reportedly resigned in part because of the confusion over reporting lines.
  16. Reportedly, as Giuliani continues his media tour, and while they still speak daily, Trump is growing frustrated. Aides expect Trump to fire Giuliani if his behavior does not change.
  17. On Tuesday, AP reported Trump is annoyed Giuliani has reinvigorated the Clifford story and extended its lifespan. Concern has also been raised by the State Department and Pentagon that Giuliani is weighing in on foreign policy matters.
  18. On Monday, Trump suggested legal action is coming against Mueller’s team, tweeting, “The 13 Angry Democrats in charge of the Russian Witch Hunt are starting to find out that there is a Court System in place.”
  19. Trump accused the team of “unrevealed Conflicts of Interest!” without offering any proof. Several members of Mueller’s team have donated to Democrats. Mueller is a Republican appointed by George W. Bush, and Rosenstein was appointed by Trump.
  20. Trump also tweeted “Why is Peter S still there?” — referring to Strzok who remains at the FBI after Lisa Page resigned in Week 77. Trump again tweeted about the “Phony Witch Hunt” which he said will “wrongfully impacts the Mid-Term Elections.”
  21. On Monday, First Lady Melania Trump rolled out her first initiative, “Be Best,” which she said would tackle opioid abuse, social media pressures, and mental health issues for children. The link to “Be Best” website initially delivered an error message.
  22. Critics noted the similarities to a speech delivered by former First Lady Michelle Obama last year, urging men to “be better.”
  23. Critics also noted the similarities between the “Be Best” campaign materialand an educational booklet, “Talking With Kids About Being Online,” produced in the Obama-era by the Federal Trade Commission.
  24. On Tuesday, Trump announced he would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, despite pleas from our European allies. He called the agreement, “a great embarrassment to me as a citizen and all citizens of the United States.”
  25. Pence told Congress the US would no longer participate in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and would restore sanctions with 90- and 180-day wind-down periods.
  26. Former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, both pushed out by Trump, had been advocates for remaining in JCPOA. Bolton, the new NSA, has advocated for bombing Iran as recently as 2015.
  27. Iranian President Rouhani said he directed his country’s diplomats to negotiate with the Europeans, Russia, and China about remaining in the nuclear deal. Iran is ready to start unlimited uranium enrichment if negotiations fail.
  28. In a joint statement, Macron, Merkel and May expressed “regret and concern” over Trump’s decision, saying of JCPOA, “This agreement remains important for our shared security.”
  29. On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Boeing and Airbus licenses to replenish Iran’s aging fleet of commercial planes “will be revoked,” causing the companies to lose $39 billion in contracts.
  30. On Wednesday, the Agence France-Presse reported that Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia will “do everything we can” to build nuclear weapons if regional rival Iran does the same.
  31. On Thursday, in a speech honoring French President Macron, German Chancellor Merkel said Europe can no longer rely on US protection, saying “Europe must take its destiny in its own hands.”
  32. Foreign Policy reported Richard Johnson, a career civil servant and one of the State Department’s top experts on nuclear proliferation, resigned this week after Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.
  33. The resignation is a part of a brain drain officials warn about across the government, and especially in the State Department. The office Johnson led has gone from seven full-time staffers when Trump took office to none.
  34. On Thursday, Iran’s supreme leader shared a photo of himself reading Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” on Instagram. The photo was taken at this year’s Tehran International Book Fair.
  35. On Wednesday, Trump suggested pulling credentials from the media, citing a study by right-leaning Media Research Center which found 91% of media coverage of him was negative in 2018.
  36. Trump tweeted, “The Fake News is working overtime,” adding “91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake),” insinuating negative news is fake news, and threatened, “Take away credentials?”
  37. Margaret Talev, President of the White House Correspondents Association tweeted in response, “A free press must be able to report on the good, the bad, the momentous and the mundane, without fear or favor,”
  38. Talev added that a leader “preventing a free and independent press from covering the workings of our republic would be an unconscionable assault on the First Amendment.”
  39. On Wednesday, press secretary Sanders defended Trump, saying the regime is “very committed to a free press,” citing her near-daily briefings. Sanders added, “At the same time, the press has a responsibility to put out accurate information.”
  40. On Wednesday, the Trump regime hosted a gathering of 52 military mothers and spouses for Mothers Day. Attendees were all white women, despite racial and ethnic minority groups making up roughly 40% of armed services, and women serving as well.
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“Ukraine stops investigating Manafort (who helped destroy their democracy, and maybe ours) in exchange for a missile shipment from Trump. Congrats America, we are now a global protection racket.”
  1. At the gathering, Trump claimed earlier this year he approved the first pay raises for service members in a decade. This claim is false: pay has increased every year for more than three decades.
  2. On Sunday, Rep. Devin Nunes threatened that he planned to urge lawmakers to hold Sessions with contempt of court for failing to hand over classified materials related to the Russia investigation.
  3. On Tuesday, WAPO reported that last Wednesday senior FBI and national intelligence officials relayed an urgent message to the White House that the information Nunes is seeking could endanger a top-secret intelligence source.
  4. Top White House officials and Trump backed the decision after being persuaded that Sessions turning over documents could risk lives by exposing the source, a US citizen who has provided intelligence to the CIA and FBI.
  5. The information however has been turned over to Mueller. Nunes reportedly vented his frustration Sunday when he threatened Sessions.Several officials are concerned Trump may shift to support Nunes.
  6. On Wednesday, CBS News reported the Justice Department invited Reps. Nunes and Trey Gowdy to a briefing Thursday on the classified information Nunes demanded in a subpoena last week.
  7. On Thursday, Speaker Paul Ryan said he supports Nunes’ request to review surveillance documents, saying, “This request is perfectly appropriate.”
  8. On Thursday, after the private meeting, Nunes backed away from his open confrontation with the Justice Department after senior intelligence officials said they could not give him top-secret information about an intelligence source who aided Mueller.
  9. On Saturday, NYT reported that since the House Republicans issued their report finding no collusion between Trump and Russia in Week 76, Nunes’ committee has turned their attention from investigation to investigators.
  10. Top officials at the Justice Department are increasingly concerned that Nunes and Republican lawmakers are mining government secrets to weaponize against those investigating Trump, including Mueller.
  11. Nunes’ relationship with the Justice Department has so eroded that Speaker Ryan suggested Rep. Gowdy accompany Nunes on Thursday to help keep the meeting civil.
  12. AP reported that Mueller’s team has questioned Tom Barrack, one of Trump’s closest friends and confidants over decades, about possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.
  13. The interview, which reportedly happened months ago, focused on Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and included financial matters about the campaign, the transition, and Trump’s inauguration.
  14. On Sunday, WSJ reported that Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are planning to publicly release 3,000 Facebook ads bought by Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency (IRA).
  15. On Thursday the IRA ads were released. Some 3.7 million users clicked on the ads, and they were seen by over 33 million users, according to Facebook statistics. IRA spent $100,000 on the ads. Trump has yet to acknowledge Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  16. On Tuesday, NPR reported the US voting system is still vulnerable to cyberattacks six months ahead of midterms. Much of the process — registering to vote, finding the polling place, checking in, and voting — is still digital.
  17. The Department of Homeland Security said Russian hackers targeted 21 states in 2016. Hackers did break in to the registration system in Illinois, and stole the username and password of an election official in Arizona.
  18. On Wednesday, Politico reported Bolton is pushing to eliminate the top White House cybersecurity job, at a time the US faces growing digital threats. The role is currently held by Rob Joyce, who is departing.
  19. On Tuesday, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr said he hoped to wrap up the committee’s Russia probe in August, with a handful of witnesses left to interview and a number of interim reports to prepare.
  20. On Tuesday, Dutch attorney Alex van der Zwaan become the first person convicted in the Mueller probe to go to prison. His projected release date is June 4.
  21. On Friday, UK’s Electoral Commission fined Leave.EU £77,380 for breaches of election law in the 2016 EU referendum, and referred Leave.EU’s chief executive Liz Bilney to the police for “serious offenses.”
  22. On Thursday, Giuliani said Trump’s new lawyers have not held a lengthy prep session with Trump for a potential interview with Mueller’s team. Giuliani also said real negotiations about an interview are not happening.
  23. On Friday, in an interview with AP, Giuliani said Trump and his legal team will not decide whether Trump will agree to be interviewed by Muelleruntil after Trump’s summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on June 12.
  24. Giuliani said he did not expect Mueller to interview Ivanka, Donald Jr., Eric, or Kushner, adding “our understanding is that he’s pretty much finished,” and that Trump is “basically the last witness.”
  25. On Tuesday, Rachel Crooks, who alleges Trump kissed her without her consent when she was working as a receptionist in Trump Tower in 2006, secured her primary bid for state office in Ohio.
  26. In Tuesday’s primaries, women candidates won 17 of 20 Democratic races for open seats. Women donors have also set a new record, accounting for 31% of all monies going to House candidates, up from 27% in 2014.
  27. On Monday, New York AG Eric Schneiderman resigned after he was accused of physically abusing four women in an article published by The New Yorker. Trump had tweeted in 2013 on Schneiderman, “ Wait and see, worse than Spitzer or Weiner.”
  28. On Friday, Peter Gleason, who represented two additional alleged victims of Schneiderman, in a letter urged Judge Kimba Wood for an order to protect any records Cohen might have concerning their discussion of the women.
  29. On Tuesday, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney Michael Avenatti released a 7-page executive summary detailing payments to Essential Consultants, LLC, the entity established in October 2016 to make the hush payment to Clifford.
  30. Cohen set up an account at First Republic Bank in October 2016. In setting up the account, Cohen made certain representations that were false, constituting bank fraud. From October 2016 to January 2018 Cohen used the First Republic to engage in $4,425,033 of suspicious transactions.
  31. Essential received approximately $500,000 in eight payments from Russian oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg and his cousin Andrew Intrater through a company named Columbus Nova between January and August 2017. In Week 77, Vekselberg was interviewed by Mueller’s team.
  32. Intrater is the CEO of Columbus Nova, which was listed on the website of the Renova Group, a Russian asset management company, as one of its “companies” until November 2017. Renova’s website is currently listed as “under construction.”
  33. Intrater made several political donations, including $29,600 to the Republican National Committee in June 2017, $35,000 to the Trump Victory PAC in June 2017, and $250,000 to the Trump Inauguration Fund.
  34. Essential also received four payments of $99,980 each from Novartis from late 2017 to early 2018. Following these payments, Trump took a dinner meeting with the incoming Novartis CEO in Davos in late January 2018.
  35. Essential also received four payments of $50,000 from AT&T in late 2017 to early 2018. Essential also received a payment of $150,000 from Korea Aerospace Industries on November 27, 2017.
  36. Cohen also received, through Essential and/or Michael D. Cohen & Associates, at least $187,500 from Elliott Broidy.
  37. On Tuesday evening, AT&T confirmed it paid Cohen’s company $200,000 in four transactions, saying he “did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017.” AT&T asserted Cohen provided information about what made Trump tick.
  38. On Wednesday, Giuliani told TIME that Trump told him Tuesday night thathe does not know anything about payments from Vekselberg. But when asked about AT&T and Novartis, Giuliani said, “I have no idea. I doubt it.”
  39. On Wednesday, press secretary Sanders when asked about Avenatti’s allegations for Cohen selling access to Trump, responded, “I haven’t heard the president express any specific concerns about that.”
  40. Giuliani also said Trump’s legal team is confident that Mueller does not believe that Trump had a role in the transactions, saying, “He was good on it. Nobody’s concerned about it. It doesn’t involve us.”
  41. Later Wednesday, Giuliani told Bloomberg on the payments to Cohen,Trump “was unaware of this,” adding, Trump “is not involved in any respect. It’s a dead issue as far as I’m concerned.”
  42. On Wednesday, CNN reported Mueller’s team questioned Vekselberg, chairman of Renova Group, about payments made by the US subsidiary, Columbus Nova, to Cohen and Trump’s campaign and inaugural fund.
  43. Vekselberg was questioned about Intrater’s $300,000 in political donations to Trump. Intrater was also questioned in the Mueller probe. Vekselberg is under US sanction as of last month for actions including interfering in the 2016 election, so can no longer travel to the US.

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  1. In a statement, Columbus Nova said the company is “solely owned and controlled by Americans.” Cohen’s attorney has said Cohen has seven clients, but did not specify if Columbus Nova is one.
  2. Vekselberg, who attended Trump’s inauguration, this week attended the inauguration for Putin’s fourth term.
  3. On Friday, NPR reported that the FBI cautioned four years ago that a foundation controlled by Vekselberg, the Skolkovo Foundation, might have been acting on behalf of Russia’s intelligence services.
  4. In April 2014, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Lucia Ziobro wrote a column warning Vekselberg’s foundation may be part of a Moscow spying campaign seeking to siphon up American science and technology.
  5. On Wednesday, ProPublica reported Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s personal lawyer, also represented Columbus Nova in recent years in a commercial case. A spokesperson for Kasowitz said the case settled in early 2017.
  6. Kasowitz’s work for Columbus Nova stretches back to at least 2010. ProPublica also reported that Cohen spent a short period in February 2017 working at the offices of Kasowitz Benson Torres in midtown Manhattan
  7. On Wednesday, AT&T and Novartis both said they asked for information by Mueller’s team in November 2017 about their relationship with Essential Consulting. Both companies said they fully cooperated.
  8. On Wednesday, AT&T said it paid Cohen $600,000 (not $200,000), composed of a year’s payment of $50,000 per month, as part of a consulting contract to get insight into Trump’s thinking.
  9. On Wednesday, STAT reported that Cohen pitched himself to Novartis’ then-chief executive officer Joe Jimenez in early 2017, promising help gaining access to Trump and influential officials in the new regime.
  10. On Wednesday, Novartis issued a statement, saying the company had paid Cohen’s Essential Consultants $100,000 per month ($1.2 million total) for advice on how Trump would approach US health-care policy.
  11. Novartis said a month after signing the deal, executives met with Cohen and he “would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated.” The contract expired on February 2018.
  12. On Wednesday, the Treasury Department inspector general said it is investigating whether Suspicious Activity Reports on Cohen’s banking transactions were “improperly disseminated” to Avenatti.
  13. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Columbus Nova is listed as the owner of several websites targeted toward white nationalists, including Alt-right.co, Alternate-right.com, Alternate-rt.com, Alt-rite.com and others, created during the 2016 election.
  14. Intrater’s brother Frederick, who is a design manager at Columbus Nova, is also named alongside the company on the registration for the websites. Frederick claimed he was not acting on behalf of Columbus Nova, although he used his company email address.
  15. On Thursday, WAPO reported that according to documents obtained, the $600,000 payment by AT&T was part of a deal for Cohen to provide advice on the $85 billion merger with Time Warner.
  16. On Friday, AT&T issued a memo saying it did not hire Cohen to lobby on its behalf. AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson wrote in the memo, “our past association with Cohen was a serious misjudgment.”
  17. Also in the memo, Bob Quinn, AT&T’s head lobbyist who oversaw the hiring of Cohen, announced he is retiring. Two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters Quinn was forced to retire.
  18. On Friday, Giuliani escalated his battle with Avenatti, telling Business Insider he wouldn’t debate Avenatti as offered, because “I don’t get involved with pimps.
  19. Avenatti responded, tweeting “Hey Rudy — It turns out I’m not the only “pimp” you have experience with,” along with a video from Independent UK showing Giuliani dressed in drag while being seduced by Trump.
  20. On Friday, Avenatti tweeted, “Why was Mr. Cohen paying Demeter Direct Inc. in Los Angeles large sums of money from his Essential Consultants LLC account? Keep attacking me Mr. Giuliani and @foxnews.”
  21. On Friday, CNN reported Mark Ko, the head of a company called Demeter Direct, served as a middle person between Cohen and Korea Aerospace Industries. Ko said, “The payment was all legal based on the contract.”
  22. On Friday, WSJ reported Cohen had also made an overture to provide consulting services to Ford Motor Co. in January 2017, but was quickly rejected. Cohen had touted his proximity to Trump.
  23. Mueller’s team has since requested information from Ford about Cohen’s outreach including emails and records, and has interviewed Ford’s head of government affairs, Ziad Ojakli, who was the recipient of Cohen’s pitch.
  24. On Friday, Giuliani told HuffPost that Cohen never spoke with Trump about his big-dollar clients, saying “Whatever lobbying was done didn’t reach the president.”
  25. To offer proof, Giuliani admitted AT&T’s planned merger with Time Warner did not go through because of Trump, “ He did drain the swamp …The president denied the merger. They didn’t get the result they wanted.”
  26. On Saturday, Giuliani attempted to backtrack in the morning, telling CNN “He told me directly he didn’t interfere.” The White House also issued a statement saying, “The Department of Justice denied the deal.”
  27. On Thursday, Trump greeted three Americans freed from North Korean prison, two who were imprisoned while he was in office, at an air base in Maryland along with Melania, Pence, and Pompeo when they arrived at 3 a.m.
  28. Hours before the freed Americans arrived, Trump said in a cabinet meeting that “everyone thinks” he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for their release, adding “But I would never say it. The prize I want is victory for the world.”
  29. As Trump boarded Marine One back to the White House, he told reporters,“I think you probably broke the all-time in history television rating for 3 o’clock in the morning.”
  30. On Thursday, at a rally in Elkhart, Indiana with Pence, Trump got cheers from the crowd when he said he deserves an “extension” of his presidency past 8 years.
  31. Trump then tried to walk back the comment, saying the media would be “happy” when he is no longer in office, but that, “When I’m not here, their ratings are going to sink.”
  32. On Wednesday, NRATV host Dan Bongino warned that Trump will be impeached if Republicans lose the House in the midterms, urging his viewers, “It’s time for us to protect the crown.”
  33. On Thursday, a day after Sen. McCain opposed Haspel’s nomination, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney supported the use of torture on Fox Business, saying, “it worked on John. That’s why they call him ‘Songbird John.’”
  34. On Thursday, Kelly Sadler, a special assistant in the White House, said of McCain during a discussion among the White House communications staffers about Haspel’s nomination, “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.
  35. The White House refused to apologize for comments by Sadler, who showed up for work Friday. Sanders told reporters, “I’m not going to validate a leak one way or the other out of an internal staff meeting.”
  36. ABC News reported at a staff meeting Friday, Sanders called Sadler’s comment “unacceptable,” but was more upset about the leaks. Sadler apologized to Meghan McCain, but is not expected to be fired.
  37. On Friday, former Vice President Joe Biden, whose son died from the same type of brain cancer as McCain was diagnosed with, said, “People have wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration. It happened yesterday.”
  38. On Thursday, on NBC’s “Today” show, parroting Trump, Pence said that one year in it’s time to end the Mueller probe: “we’ve fully cooperated…I think it’s time to wrap it up.”
  39. On Thursday, Kelly told NPR of the Mueller probe, “Something that has gone on this long without any real meat on the bone, it suggests to me that there is nothing there, relative to our president.”
  40. Kelly also said Trump was “somewhat embarrassed, frankly” about the Russia probe, and that he and Trump have “a close relationship” and spend up to eight hours a day together.
  41. On Thursday, NYT reported Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told colleagues she almost resigned after Trump berated her in a lengthy tirade in front of his entire cabinet Wednesday for her failure to adequately secure the nation’s borders.
  42. One persistent issue which has upset Trump is Nielsen resisting his direction that parents be separated from their children when crossing illegally as a way to deter immigration.
  43. Nielsen, a Kelly protege, had drafted a resignation letter, but had not submitted it. One person close to Nielsen said she is miserable in the job. Trump reportedly views her with suspicion because she worked for years for George W. Bush.
  44. As Pruitt and Nielsen and Kelly have all been rumored to fired or resign, NPR reported Trump has already had more Cabinet turnover in his first term than any US leader in the past 100 years.
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“Elephants take a long time to decompose… and the stench can be unbearable.”
  1. Politico reported that based on a report it obtained, the first stage of a multibillion-dollar military-VA digital health program championed by Kushner was so riddled with problems it could have led to patient deaths.
  2. The Pentagon’s evaluation lists 156 “critical” or “severe” incident reports with the potential to result in patient deaths. The program’s price tag was $20 billion, and was designed to address problems with military and veteran health care.
  3. On Friday, Trump laid out his strategy to reduce prescription drug prices, but in a break from one of his most popular campaign promises, dropped his call for Medicare to negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers.
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“And let’s not kid ourselves… rotting donkeys stink too.”

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 78: NO MORE SEPARATION OF CHURCH & STATE AND 3,000 LIES

Week 77 of this regime: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

May 5, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-77-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-f847ed1b1a87

Have we normalized that Trump lies to the American people? That was a central question after Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani publicly contradicted recent statements by Trump and the White House, saying Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen for a $130,000 payment to silence Stephanie Clifford, made days before the 2016 election. According to The Washington Post, Trump has told over 3,000 false or misleading statements since taking office.

This week we learned that Trump had himself dictated the medical letter used during his campaign, and as his White House doctor exited in disgrace, questions surfaced about access to accurate information about Trump’s health — another broken norm. This was another week plagued by resignations, attacks on our institutions and norms, and our values. The morning after Giuliani’s bombshell disclosure, Trump signed an executive order at the National Day of Prayer eliminating a boundary between religious groups and government.

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Photo by Lois Brunet in Paris, France on May 3, 2018
  1. On Saturday, for the second time,Trump skipped the White House Correspondents Dinner (WHCD). The last US leader to skip the dinner was Ronald Reagan, shortly after he was shot in an assassination attempt.
  2. Instead, Trump held a rally in Washington Township, Michigan, delivering an 80-minute campaign-style speech, full of factually incorrect and dystopian statements, including, “We have the worst laws anywhere in the world,” and “We don’t have borders.”
  3. During his speech, Trump asked, “Any Hispanics in the room?” The crowd booed, then Trump continued “Naw, not so many? That’s OK,” before repeating his demand for a border wall.
  4. Trump also continued his attacks on Sen. Jon Tester: “I know things about the senator I can say, too. If I said them, he would never be elected again,” as well as attacks on James Comey: “He is a liar and a leaker.”
  5. On Sunday and Monday, Trump attacked the WHCD, tweeting the dinner “is DEAD as we know it,” saying it “was a total disaster and an embarrassment to our great Country,” and, “FAKE NEWS is alive and well.”
  6. A tree gifted to Trump by Macron last week, and planted together by the two men on the White House lawn, disappeared. The sapling was taken from the site of a World War One battle in north-east France, and Macron said should serve as reminder of “these ties that bind us”.
  7. On Monday, WAPO reported Trump has made 3,001 false or misleading claims in the 466 days since he took office, averaging 6.5 claims a day.
  8. On Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria visited the White House. Both leaders tried to avoid conflict over Trump’s “shithole countries” comment. Trump said, “You do have some countries that are in very bad shape and very tough places to live in.”
  9. Trump stirred controversy, saying, “We have had very serious problems with Christians who are being murdered in Nigeria,” ignoring the deaths of Muslims. A Muslim rights groups claimed, Trump “is luring Nigerian Christians into bolder confrontation with Muslims”.
  10. Intercept reported that since Trump took office, from January 2017 to November 2017, Muslim refugee admissions dropped by 94%, from 50% of all refugees to just 10%.
  11. Even while the Supreme Court considers Trump’s Travel Ban, the regime is taking other steps. US embassies have been ordered to intensify their screening process to identify “populations warranting increased scrutiny.”
  12. Trump’s Department of Homeland Security has explored surveillance software and social media screening that could be used to profile Muslims and other minorities. In February, the DHS established a National Vetting Center to identify terrorists and criminals, which has also sounded alarms about surveillance.
  13. Patrick Little, an extremist who has called for the country to be “free from Jews,” and who is backed by David Duke and other far-right extremists, could be the Republican candidate who will face Sen. Dianne Feinstein in November.
  14. Army Times reported the Army is investigating the 101st Airborne chaplains over allegations that without providing any reason, they ended Friday night Shabbat services for Jewish soldiers and their families.
  15. On Tuesday, despite Trump’s vows to keep them out and calling up the National Guard, US officials started allowing in caravan members who are seeking asylum from brutal violence in countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, bowing to US and international law.
  16. On Wednesday, Jeff Sessions said 35 assistant US attorneys and 18 immigration judges would be sent to the southern border to allow for more cases to be brought against illegal crossings and human smuggling.
  17. On Friday, US border officers granted entry to the last 83 of the 288 caravan members. Concern grew that asylum seekers would be detained indefinitely, or that children would be separated from their parents.
  18. On Friday, Trump’s DHS ended temporary protection status for 57,000 Hondurans in the US since 1999. This follows the regime ending protections for 200,000 Salvadorans, 50,000 Haitians, and 9,000 Nepalis.
  19. On Wednesday, at an event in Arizona, Vice President Pence praised Sheriff Joe Arpaio as a “great friend” of Trump and a “tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law.”
  20. On Tuesday, Jacob Scott Goodwin, 23, one of the white supremacists who viciously beat a black man in a parking garage in Charlottesville during last year’s “Unite the Right” rally, was found guilty of malicious wounding.
  21. On Wednesday, Iowa’s Republican controlled legislature fast-tracked a bill that would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically around six weeks, sending what could be the nation’s most restrictive legislation to the governor.
  22. On Friday, in what the Iowa Starting Line described as “A Dark Day in Iowa,” Governor Kim Reynolds signed the bill, banning nearly all abortions in Iowa.
  23. AP reported after two Native American teen brothers visiting Colorado State University arrived 30 minutes late and joined for a campus tour underway, a parent called the campus police to report feeling “nervous” about their presence.
  24. Campus police patted down the teens and released them only after they provided an email proving they had reserved spots on the tour. The school apologized to the boys’ family and issued a letter to the student body.
  25. BuzzFeed reported Sessions’ Justice Department overhauled its manual for federal prosecutors: a section titled “Need for Free Press and Public Trial” was removed, as were references to the department’s work on racial gerrymandering.
  26. New sections include Sessions’ focus on religious liberty and the Trump regime’s efforts to crack down on government leaks. Also added are admonishments not to share classified information and directing prosecutors to report contacts with the media.
  27. On Monday, Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control, asked to have his salary reduced after Sen. Patty Murray sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, questioning why Redfield’s $375,000 annual compensation is more than double that of his predecessor.
  28. On Monday, Reuters reported the Environmental Protection Agency granted Trump ally Carl Icahn’s company, CVR Energy, a waiver which will allow it to avoid tens of millions of dollars in costs related to the US Renewable Fuel Standard program.
  29. Foreign Policy reported that 38 US ambassadorship positions remain unfilled by Trump, leaving the State Department to rely on lower-level officials to pick up the slack, even in embassies of strategic importance.
  30. Unfilled US ambassadorships include hot spots and key allies such as South Korea, Turkey, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and the European Union.
  31. On Tuesday, The Wichita Eagle reported that Kansas lawmakers abandoned a plan to force Kris Kobach to pay contempt of court charges out of his own pocket, meaning Kobach will be able to use state monies.
  32. On Tuesday, California and 17 other states sued the Trump regime, saying Scott Pruitt’s EPA acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” in changing course on greenhouse gas regulations related to auto emissions.
  33. On Thursday, as the position of VA Secretary remained vacant and now without a nominee from Trump, a key healthcare program, Veterans Choice Program, will run out of money in the coming weeks.
  34. Michael Stoker, credited with coining the “Lock her up” chant, was nominated by Trump to lead the EPA’s San Francisco-based regional office, a long-open vacancy. The regime has struggled to find people interested in taking the appointment.
  35. On Sunday, Politico reported Ronny Jackson will not return to his role as White House physician.
  36. On Monday, deputy press secretary Raj Shah said, “Despite published reports, there are no personnel announcements at this time,” and that Jackson “is currently on active duty, assigned to the White House.”
  37. On Monday, CNN reported Vice President Pence’s doctor alerted White House aides that Jackson may have violated federal privacy protections for Pence’s wife, Karen, and intimidated the doctor in confrontations about the violation last fall.
  38. On Friday, Jennifer Pena, the White House physician assigned to Vice President Pence, resigned.
  39. NBC News reported Trump’s former personal doctor for more than 35 years, Dr. Harold Bornstein, said his offices were raided by Keith Schiller, a Trump lawyer, and a third man in February 2017. At the time, Schiller was director of Oval Office operations at the White House.
  40. All medical records were removed. The raid took place two days after Bornstein told a newspaper he had prescribed hair growth medicine for Trump. Bornstein said he felt “raped, frightened and sad.”
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New York City February 2018
  1. On Tuesday, Bornstein told CNN that Trump dictated the glowing letter he issued about Trump’s health, “(Trump) dictated the letter and I would tell him what he couldn’t put in there.”
  2. On Monday, Thomas Homan, Trump’s nominee in November to lead ICE, said he would retire in June after a tumultuous tenure as the agency’s acting director. Homan never had a confirmation hearing.
  3. On Monday night, Nino Perrotta, head of Pruitt’s security team who led his 24-hour detail, resigned. Perrotta is set to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
  4. On Monday, Albert Kelly, a top aide in charge of Superfund sites, also resigned. Kelly is a former banker from Oklahoma who was banned from the industry for life by the FDIC . Last week, lawmakers asked Pruitt to order Kelly to testify before their committee.
  5. On Thursday, Liz Bowman, the top public affairs official at the EPA, became the third top EPA official to resign during the week.
  6. Sam Clovis, former co-chairman on the Trump campaign then nominated to and withdrew from a USDA undersecretary role by Trump, resigned from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
  7. On Friday, two top FBI aides who worked alongside Comey resigned: James Baker and Lisa Page. Although they came the same day, their resignations were not related.
  8. Baker was one of Comey’s closest confidants. Baker was the FBI’s top lawyer until December 2017, when he was reassigned by FBI director Christopher Wray. Baker has been investigated by the Justice Department on suspicion of sharing classified information with reporters.
  9. Page advised Comey, while serving under his then deputy, Andrew McCabe. She advised FBI leadership on Comey’s decision to hold a news conference to announce the bureau was recommending Hillary Clinton face no charges.
  10. On Monday, Kevin Chmielewski, a whistleblower from the EPA told ABC News Pruitt was “bold-faced” lying in his congressional hearing when he said no EPA employees faced retaliation for raising concerns about his spending decisions.
  11. WAPO reported that shortly after he took office, Pruitt came up a list of at least a dozen countries he wanted to visit, and asked aides to help him find official reasons to travel to each.
  12. Pruitt then recruited friends and political allies to help make the trips happen, raising ethical concerns. So far, Pruitt has travelled to Italy and Morocco, and canceled trips to Australia, Japan, and Israel.
  13. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Richard Smotkin, a former Comcast lobbyist who has known Pruitt for years, helped arrange Pruitt’s controversial trip to Morocco in December 2017.
  14. Records obtained by WAPO show the visit’s cost exceeded $100,000, more than twice what was previously reported. Pruitt was accompanied by eight staffers and his round-the-clock security detail.
  15. In April, Smotkin won a $40,000-a-month contract, retroactive to January, with the Moroccan government to promote the kingdom’s interests. Smotkin registered recently as a foreign agent representing Morocco.
  16. On Thursday, The Atlantic reported Michael Abboud, a member of Pruitt’s press team, shopped negative stories about Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to multiple outlets in order to divert attention away from Pruitt.
  17. CNN calculated that during Pruitt’s 2010 campaign for Oklahoma attorney general and 2014 re-election campaign, he reimbursed himself for nearly $65,000 of expenses without proper documentation.
  18. Politico reported Michael Roman, a longtime opposition researcher who served in the White House as a special assistant to Trump, resigned. Roman acted as a right-hand man to White House counsel Don McGahn.
  19. On Monday, the cover story for Trump ally David Pecker’s National Enquirer targeted Michael Cohen, trumpeting, “Trump Fixer’s Secrets & Lies,” with a subhead reading: “Payoffs and threats exposed.”
  20. On Tuesday, CNN asked Cohen whether he thought a message was being sent by the story’s publication, and he responded, “What do you think?”
  21. On Monday, ABC News reported that the Trump campaign has spent nearly $228,000 to cover some of the legal defense expenses for Cohenbetween October 2017 and January 2018, possibly violating campaign finance laws.
  22. On Monday, Stephanie Clifford filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump, alleging he attempted to tarnish her reputation by dismissing her account of a man who threatened her in 2011, tweeting the composite sketch was “a total con job.”
  23. On Wednesday, the lawyer for Summer Zervos subpoenaed Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which owns archives of “The Apprentice,” and the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Zervos says Trump groped her, seeking records to prove that he defamed her.
  24. On Monday, Sen. John McCain released a new book, saying Trump’s“reality show facsimile of toughness” matters more to him than the nation’s values, and comparing the actions of our government under Trump to “crimes of despotic ones.”
  25. On Monday, hours before tariffs on steel and aluminum were scheduled to take effect against Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Brazi,l and the EU, the Trump regime announced it would hold off until at least June 1.
  26. Sen. Marco Rubio told the Economist that the GOP tax law was a boon to big corporations only saying, “there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”
  27. On Tuesday, former HHS Secretary Tom Price said at the World Health Care Congress that the Republicans repeal of the individual mandate “will harm” people insured through Obamacare because of higher cost.
  28. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted the Obama Administration “has long been asking for three hostages to be released from a North Korean Labor camp, but to no avail.” This is false. Two of the three were arrested after Trump took office.
  29. The Guardian reported the government of Qatar bought a $6.5 million apartment in New York’s Trump World Tower on January 17, soon after an emoluments lawsuit was thrown out on December 21, 2017.
  30. On Thursday, AT&T and Time Warner said in a court filing said they were the victims of differential treatment by the DOJ from other similar transactions. Trump’s DOJ has demanded they sell off networks including CNN.
  31. On Thursday, ProPublica reported Jared Kushner’s ethics disclosure forms have been updated at least 40 times, most recently for misstating financials on two Brooklyn loans.
  32. For one of the Brooklyn projects, 215 Moore Street, BofI Federal Bank took over the mortgage, as the bank did for another Kushner Cos. project in New Jersey. BofI Federal Bank faced a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation last year.
  33. On Thursday, New York State Supreme Court Judge Eileen Bransten ruled that a condominium on the Upper West Side could remove the bronze letters that spell T-R-U-M-P from the building.
  34. On Thursday, House Chaplain Patrick Conroy rescinded his resignation and vowed to stay until the end of the year, saying in a letter that there was no just cause for him to be ousted from the position.
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Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY February 2018
  1. Within hours, Speaker Paul Ryan reversed his position and said Conroy will remain. Ryan claimed his original rationale was questioning whether Conroy was delivering sufficient “pastoral services” to the entire House.
  2. Trump’s delegation to Beijing left with scant progress in trade talks. China’s President Xi and Vice President Wang refused to meet with the US delegation which included Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Lighthizer.
  3. On Monday, Paul Manafort asked a judge to investigate who is leaking nonpublic and possibly classified information about his case to the media, saying the leaks interfere with his right to a free trial and may violate grand jury secrecy rules.
  4. The Atlantic reported the DCCC said it is pledging not to use “illegally stolen and hacked materials” against Republicans in any campaigns in the midterms. The NRCC has so far declined to match that commitment.
  5. On Monday, NYT reported Mueller has 49 questions on an array of subjects he wants to ask Trump about his ties to Russia and to determine whether he obstructed the inquiry itself.
  6. The questions chiefly deal with Trump’s firing of Comey and Michael Flynn, his treatment of Sessions, and the June 9 Trump Tower meeting. They also deal with Trump’s business dealings, including his knowledge of Cohen’s discussions on a Moscow deal.
  7. Questions also include Jared’s attempt to set up back channel communications with Russia; whether Trump had contact with Roger Stone about the DNC hacking; and Trump’s 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant.
  8. Mueller is also seeking information on what Trump knew about a potential pardon for Flynn, and what Trump knew about campaign aides, including the former chairman Manafort, reaching out for assistance from Moscow.
  9. In January, John Dowd gave Mueller written explanations for a short list of questions, but in early March, Mueller said he needed to interview Trump. When Mueller’s team gave a revised longer list, it cemented Dowd’s view Trump should not sit for an interview. Dowd resigned shortly after.
  10. On Monday, WAPO reported that members of the Trump-allied conservative House Freedom Caucus have drafted a one-page articles of impeachment against Rod Rosenstein.
  11. The draft relates to a dispute with Rosenstein over requests for documents about the decisions and behavior of federal law enforcement in the Russia probe and other probes, including Hillary Clinton’s email server.
  12. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were “leaked” to the media. No questions on Collusion.” This is false. There were more than a dozen on collusion.
  13. Trump also tweeted, “you have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information,” and “It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!”
  14. On Tuesday, at the Newseum, Rosenstein was asked about the draft articles of impeachments and responded, “I think they should understand by now that the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.”
  15. Rosenstein also said he would not comment on documents “that nobody has the courage to put their name on,” adding the threats would not change his behavior.
  16. On Wednesday, Trump joined the House conservatives, tweeting the legal system was “rigged,” and threatening, “At some point I will have no choicebut to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!”
  17. On Wednesday, the Justice Department denied a request by the House Freedom Caucus to view an unredacted version of the August memosigned by Rosenstein, saying turning over the memo would “threaten the integrity” of Mueller investigation.
  18. On Tuesday, WAPO reported on a tense March 5 meeting, at which Trump’s lawyers told Mueller that Trump had no obligation to speak with federal investigators, and Mueller responded he could subpoena Trump to appear before a grand jury.
  19. This was the first mention of a subpoena. Dowd reportedly responded, “This isn’t some game. You are screwing with the work of the president of the United States.”
  20. After the meeting, Mueller’s team agreed to provide more information about the subjects prosecutors wanted to discuss with Trump, from which Jay Sekulow compiled a list of 49 questions he believed Trump would be asked.
  21. On Tuesday, the special counsel office and Flynn agreed to delay Flynn’s sentencing for another 60 days, on top of the original 90 days extension, saying the delay was necessary “due to the status” of the investigation.
  22. On Tuesday, Jill Stein said her campaign would only provide some of the documents requested by the Senate Intelligence Committee about her campaign’s contact with Russians, saying the request was too broad.
  23. On Wednesday, Trump hired Emmet Flood, who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment, signaling Trump advisers do not see the Mueller probe ending soon, and are worried about Democrats taking control of the House in November.
  24. Flood also worked for George W. Bush to fend off congressional investigators. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “Emmet Flood will be joining the White House staff to represent the president and the administration against the Russia witch hunt.”
  25. Flood will replace Ty Cobb who had tried to convince Trump that cooperating would bring the Mueller probe to an end. Flood is expected to take a much more adversarial approach.
  26. On Wednesday, former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo slammed the Senate Intelligence Committee for its Russia probe which he said had cost him $125,000 in legal fees and is forcing him to relocate to pay off legal fees.
  27. On Wednesday, NYT reported while Manafort faces US charges for money laundering and financial fraud related to his work in Ukraine, in Ukraine, four cases against him have been effectively frozen.
  28. The decision to halt the investigations was handed down to an anti-corruption prosecutor, and coincided with the Trump regime finalizing plans to sell Ukraine sophisticated anti-tank missiles.
  29. Additionally, Ukrainian law enforcement allowed a possible witness of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to leave for Russia. Ukrainian politicians have reportedly concluded that any help prosecuting Manafort could bring down Mr. Trump’s wrath.
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New York City February 2018
  1. On Friday, NYT reported the Russian oligarch who was reported in Week 73 to be stopped by Mueller’s team as he stepped off his private plane when it landed at a New York area airport was Viktor Vekselberg.
  2. Federal agents questioned Vekselberg and searched his electronic devices.Vekselberg attended Trump’s inauguration, as well as the 2015 RT dinnerin Russia where Michael Flynn and Jill Stein sat at Putin’s table.
  3. Vekselberg controls a company that has been the largest single shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus. At the time Vekselberg’s company was making the investment, Wilbur Ross was its vice chairman.
  4. Vekselberg, a native of Ukraine, is believed to have a favorable relation with Putin, and is one of the Russian oligarchs on the recent sanction list. He also has long-running business ties to the US.
  5. On Friday, the House Intelligence Committee released a newly unredacted section of its final Russia report detailing testimony from Comey and McCabe. Per the report, McCabe said the two agents who interviewed Michael Flynn “didn’t think he was lying.”
  6. On Friday, CNN reported that Rep. Devin Nunes, after months of demanding an unredacted version of a document from the Justice Department explaining how the Russia investigation began in 2016, has not read the document.
  7. On Wednesday, on Fox News’ “Hannity,” Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani gave a wide-ranging interview. Giuliani revealed Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford, contradicting recent prior statement by both Trump and the White House.
  8. Giuliani told Hannity the $130,000 reimbursement “is going to turn out to be perfectly legal. That money was not campaign money,” adding they “funneled it through a law firm and the president repaid it.”
  9. Later in the interview, Giuliani said Trump “didn’t know about the specifics of [the payment] as far as I know,” but Trump “did know about the general arrangement that Michael would take care of things like this.”
  10. Also in the interview, Giuliani said Trump fired Comey because “Comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn’t a target of the investigation.”
  11. Giuliani attacked Comey, saying he should be prosecuted and calling him a “disgraceful liar” and a “very perverted man,” and said, “every FBI agent in America has his head down because of you.”
  12. Giuliani called Hillary “a criminal,” saying, “she should go to jail. I do not know why the Justice Department is not investigating her,” adding, “Comey fixed the whole case.”
  13. Giuliani however warned Mueller to not go after Ivanka, “Ivanka Trump? I think I would get on my charger and go ride into their offices with a lance,” adding “If they go after her, the whole country will turn on them.
  14. When asked about Jared, who has testified in the Mueller probe, Giuliani said, Giuliani called him a “fine man,” but said, “men are disposable.”
  15. Giuliani said of the Mueller probe, “This has become a witch hunt like the president said. And if you look at the questions that are being asked, they’re trap questions. A first-year prosecutor would do better than that.”
  16. Giuliani attacked the Department of Justice, saying the department underSessions is “completely unhinged and out of control. It breaks my heart” adding on Trump’s view of Sessions: he “isn’t that he’s angry, he’s heartbroken. He never expected this from Jeff.
  17. After attacking both Sessions and Rosenstein, Giuliani said, “The two of them can redeem themselves…They should order the investigation over,” adding “the whole investigation was totally unnecessary.”
  18. Giuliani also referred to the FBI agents who searched Cohen’s home, office and hotel room as “storm troopers.”
  19. Late Wednesday, Giuliani told the WSJ that Trump authorized him to announce the reimbursement after a discussion last week, saying Trump told him he was “very pleased…We finally got our side of the story.”
  20. Late Wednesday, Giuliani told BuzzFeed that Cohen “had complained to some people” after the 2016 election that he’d not been fully paid by Trump. Cohen later reportedly met with Trump about the matter.
  21. According to Giuliani, Trump told Cohen, “We’ll cover your expenses,” and agreed to pay him $35,000 a month “out of his personal funds” over the course of a year-long period that began in the first few months of 2017.
  22. On Wednesday, Caputo told CNN about being interviewed in the Mueller probe: “they are still really focused on Russia collusion. They know more about the Trump campaign than anyone who ever worked there.”
  23. Caputo also said of the Mueller probe, “The Senate and the House are net fishing. The special counsel is spearfishing. They know what they are aiming at and are deadly accurate.”
  24. On Thursday, Trump, in a series of tweets, acknowledged the payment to Stephanie Clifford, saying a non-disclosure agreement was “used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair.”
  25. Contrary to his prior statement that he knew nothing of the payment, Trump tweeted these agreements are “very common among celebrities and people of wealth,” adding he “played no roll in this transaction” — misspelling the word “role.”
  26. Trump also tweeted Cohen “received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign,” adding “money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction.”
  27. Shortly after, George Conway, husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, tweeted out a section of the campaign finance lawwhich indicates the payment would be subject to the law, and should have been reported.
  28. On Thursday, at the National Day of Prayer, Trump announced an executive order which would establish a new faith-based office to expand government grants to and partnerships with religiously-affiliated groups.
  29. At the ceremony, Trump said he was responsible for people saying “Merry Christmas” more, and people talking more openly about prayer. Since Trump took office, the position of director of the White House faith-based office has been vacant.
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New York City February 2018
  1. Trump has expanded White House access for conservative Christians — evangelicals, in particular, and also Catholics who are alarmed by the issues like gay rights, and seek to promote conservative religious rights.
  2. On Thursday, Giuliani appeared on “Fox & Friends,” saying Trump didn’t know the details of the payment to Clifford, “$135,000 seems like a lot of money. It’s not when you are putting $100 million into your campaign.”
  3. Giuliani said the payment was not political for Trump, saying Trump “had been hurt personally — not politically, personally — and the first lady by some of the false allegations, that one more false allegation, six years old.”
  4. Giuliani said politics was behind the payment by Cohen, “Imagine if that came out on Oct. 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton … Cohen didn’t even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.”
  5. On Thursday, Mueller’s team requested an additional 70 blank subpoenas ahead of their trial against Manafort in Alexandria, Virginia, where Manafort faces several charges, including bank fraud.
  6. On Thursday, WAPO reported that McGahn, John Kelly, Sanders, and Flood were not aware of Giuliani’s strategy, or did they know that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 paid to Stephanie Clifford.
  7. The shifting story left Trump’s White House in turmoil again. WAPO noted, “It has become standard operating procedure for Trump and his aides to deceive the public with false statements and shifting accounts.”
  8. Giuliani told WAPO he discussed the issue with Trump a few days ago and claimed they agreed to get in front of the narrative by releasing the story publicly: “I saw the opportunity, I was going to get this over with.”
  9. Stephen Ryan, Cohen’s attorney, has been aware of the payment for weeks or months, but didn’t share it because Cohen did not want to appear to be contradicting Trump’s denial in early April.
  10. On Thursday, NBC News reported Cohen’s phones were being wiretapped by federal investigators. The story was later corrected.
  11. On Thursday, when asked for his reaction, Giuliani told The Hill of thefederal investigators in the Cohen case that Sessions should “step in, in his role as defender of justice, and put these people under investigation.”
  12. Later Thursday, NBC News corrected their earlier reporting, saying Cohen’s phone logs were being monitored, not wiretapped where investigators listen in. At least one phone call between Cohen and the White House was logged.
  13. The monitoring of Cohen’s phones was in place in the weeks leading up to the raids on Cohen’s offices, hotel room and home. It is not yet known when the monitoring was originally authorized.
  14. On Friday, Trump slammed NBC News, tweeting “NBC NEWS is wrong again!” adding “They cite “sources” which are constantly wrong….they are fabricated, fiction!” and saying, “now as bad as Fake News CNN. Sad!”
  15. On Friday, Giuliani told NBC News in a telephone interview that Trump wasn’t aware of the payment to Clifford until recently, saying Trump responded, “Oh my goodness, I guess that’s what it was for.”
  16. Giuliani said Trump was subsequently on board with the decision to go public, saying, “You’re not going to see daylight between the president and me. We’re going to work hard to have a consistent strategy.”
  17. On Friday, Trump told reporters Giuliani needed more time to “get his facts straight,” adding “virtually everything said has been said incorrectly,” and noting Giuliani “just started a day ago.”
  18. On Friday, Giuliani released a cryptic statement clarifying his remarks and trying to walk back his claim Trump had repaid Cohen, saying, “My references to timing were…my understanding of these matters.”
  19. On Friday, WAPO reported that press secretary Sanders has told colleagues the Giuliani interview left her in an untenable position. The interview was the first she heard of Trump reimbursing Cohen.
  20. Sanders responded to reporters, “I’ve given the best information I had at the time,” six times when pressed with questions, also answering, “Some information I am aware of, and some I’m not.”
  21. Sanders does not have the personal access to Trump that Hope Hicks enjoyed. Although combative with reporters in public, Sanders is largely regarded as more pleasant and helpful behind the scenes.
  22. On Friday, NYT reported Trump had known about the payment to silence Stephanie Clifford at least several months before he told reporters aboard Air Force One that he had no knowledge of it.
  23. On Friday, WSJ reported according to public records, Cohen gained access to as much as $774,000 through two financial transactions during the 2016 presidential campaign. Giuliani said this week Cohen had resolved problems for Trump beyond Clifford.
  24. Cohen gained access to $529,000 through a new mortgage cosigned by him and his wife on a condominium owned by her parents at Trump World Tower and an additional $245,000 by nearly doubled the amount he could borrow under his bank credit line tied to his Manhattan apartment.
  25. Federal investigators are examining whether Cohen committed bank fraudby making false statements inflating the value of his assets to obtain loans or by misstating the intended purpose of the loans.
  26. Giuliani said this week that Trump had reimbursed Cohen for the Clifford payment through a $35,000-a-month retainer. On Friday, Giuliani said Trump would have done this whether he was running for office or not.
  27. Dallas Morning News reported guns will be banned for appearances by both Pence and Trump at the upcoming National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas.
  28. On Friday, at the NRA convention, Pence urged state and local leaders to allow qualified school personnel to carry concealed firearms, saying,“The quickest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
  29. On Air Force One on the way to the convention, Trump told reporters the NRA is a “great organization that loves this country.” Trump also said he has a “record crowd” attending the convention.
  30. Trump went off script to ridicule former Secretary of State John Kerry : “not the best negotiator we’ve ever seen. He never walked away from the table except to be in that bicycle race where he fell and broke his leg.
  31. On Wednesday, 18 House Republicans and five running for Congress nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to get North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear weapons program.
  32. On Friday, federal judge T.S. Ellis expressed skepticism about Mueller team’s bank fraud case against Manafort, saying prosecutors’ interest in Manafort was to provide material that would lead to Trump’s “prosecution or impeachment.”
  33. Ellis repeated this suspicion several times, and suggested the charges brought by Mueller’s team in Virginia were designed to pressure Manafort into giving information on Trump or others in the campaign.
  34. Ellis mimicked a prosecutor, saying they weren’t interested in material that didn’t “further our core effort to get Trump” — saying that is why they moved the Cohen case to New York, but kept the Manafort case in Virginia.
  35. Ellis ordered Mueller’s prosecutors to turn over a full, unredacted version of Rosenstein’s August 2 memo which describes the criminal allegations Mueller’s team can investigate, under seal, in two weeks.
  36. On Friday, at the NRA convention, Trump held up the CNN article. As the crowd booed, Trump said, “they have a headline: ‘Judge in Manafort case says Mueller’s aim is to hurt Trump,’” adding “It’s called the witch hunt.”
  37. On Friday, Trump threatened another immigration fight on the upcoming spending bill, saying at the NRA convention, and repeating a mantra from his campaign speech, “They’re not sending their finest, that I can tell you.”
  38. On Friday, Trump reiterated his battle call on immigration, tweeting, “We are going to demand Congress secure the border in the upcoming CR. Illegal immigration must end!”
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New York City February 2018