Week 70: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
March 17, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-70-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-84a521ec35c6
In another frenzied week in America, Trump fired his secretary of state through a tweet, and continued to stoke fears of imminent additional departures, in what was described as a White House verging on mania. Trump is reportedly joyful, feeling liberated to act on his impulses and authoritarian instincts. Even as the Mueller probe and allegations of paying to silence Stephanie Clifford close in, Trump is cocky and irreverent — as if signaling he has matters in hand.
Russia seems increasingly aggressive and emboldened, in sharp contrast to, and perhaps with the silent complicity of Trump. Alarming reports surfaced not only of Russia’s use of chemical weapons and possibly murdering another Russian exiles in the UK, but also attacking US and European nuclear and energy infrastructure. In response, our Treasury Department took the first baby steps in imposing sanctions, while Nikki Haley and the White House issued a stark warning on Russia’s use of nerve gas. Amid an almost completely decimated leadership structure at our State Department, Trump, Kushner and Ivanka — although under clouds for self-dealing and security clearance issues — consolidated worldwide diplomacy in their hands.
Wynwood, Miami, FL December 2017
On Saturday night,
Trump gave a 73-minute campaign-style dystopian and unhinged speech in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, ahead of Tuesday’s special election, campaigning for Republican candidate Rick Saccone. Trump occasionally mentioned Saccone and insulted his opponent (“Lamb the sham”), but
mostly it was a campaign speech about Trump. Trump announced his new slogan for the 2020 campaign: Keep America Great. Trump called MSNBC’s
Chuck Todd “a sleeping son of a bitch,” and mocked Rep. Maxine Waters for calling for his impeachment, referring to her as “a low-IQ individual.”
Trump again called for the death penalty for drug dealers, saying “toughness” is the solution, adding drug dealers “who kill thousands” of people, “do you think they care who’s on a blue-ribbon committee?”
Toronto Star calculated that Trump made 30 false claims during the speech, including “We put an infrastructure bill in for $1.7 billion,” “they want to stop DACA,” and “we have a big deficit with Canada too.” On Saturday, in a speech to the France National Front while touring Europe,
Steve Bannon said “Let them call you racists. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor.” On Saturday, in an interview with
NBC News, Putin said the Russian government was not behind interference in the US election, saying, “Maybe they’re Ukrainian, Tatars, Jews — just with Russian citizenship.” Jewish groups and US lawmakers condemned Putin’s statement, including the Anti-Defamation League, saying “
It is deeply disturbing to see the Russian president giving new life to classic anti-Semitic stereotypes.” Trump did not respond. On Saturday
, NYT reported Trump is in discussions with Emmet Flood, who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment process, about joining the legal team and helping him navigate his DOJ communication.
Trump is also considering a shake-up of his legal team. Some allies say Ty Cobb’s approach of being cooperative with Robert Mueller is not working. In the summer of 2017, Flood turned down an offer to work for Trump. On Sunday,
Trump denied the , “The Failing New York Times purposely wrote a false story stating that I am unhappy with my legal team on the Russia case….Wrong.” NYT’s report of a shake-up, tweeting
The Boston Globe reported a rider added to the Homeland Security reauthorization bill would allow Trump to dispatch Secret Service agents to polling places nationwide during federal elections, a vast expansion of executive authority.
AP reported that Trump’s effort to discredit the news media by continually using the term “fake news” is being mimicked by officials at all levels of government as a weapon against unflattering stories.
Experts on the media and democracy warned the continual use of “fake news” could do long-term damage by sowing confusion and contempt for journalists, and by undermining the media’s role as a watchdog.
AP reported, based on their analysis of data, the Trump regime censored, withheld or said it couldn’t find records sought by citizens, journalists, or others more than any other administration in the past decade. Of the
823,222 FOIA requests received by the regime, 78% received censored files or nothing. The number of times the regime said it would be illegal under US law to turn over information doubled from last year. On Thursday,
Bloomberg reported that FEMA has removed all mention of anything climate change related from the documents meant to guide the agency’s strategic plan for 2018–2022. The new document for FEMA, an agency responsible for dealing with the effects of disasters, have removed references to
climate, global warming, sea-level rise, extreme weather, and other scientific predictions.
WAPO reported audio of a fundraising speech Trump made on Wednesday revealing he bragged about making up information — saying the US runs a trade deficit with Canada — in a meeting with Canadian PM Trudeau.
Trump mimicked Trudeau in the audio, “Nice guy, good-looking guy, comes in — ‘Donald, we have no trade deficit,’” then Trump bragged, “I didn’t even know. … I had no idea. I just said, ‘You’re wrong.’” On Thursday,
Trump doubled down, tweeting, “We do have a Trade Deficit with Canada.” This statement is false: the Office of the United States Trade Representative says the US has a trade surplus with Canada. After delaying it three times,
Trump’s USDA withdrew an Obama-era animal welfare rule which would have set new standards for the treatment of animals if their meat is going to be sold as “certified organic.” CNN reported six months after Hurricane Maria hit,
Puerto Ricans are still dying. 10% of the island is still without electricity, much slower than the recoveries after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Medical treatment is precarious. On Friday,
AP reported that Trump’s International Wildlife Conservation Council, a newly created advisory board, is stacked with trophy hunters, including ones with ties to Trump and his family. The 16 member board is appointed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and
will help rewrite federal rules for importing the heads and hides of African elephants, lions, and rhinos. A $250,000 budget of taxpayer dollars has been set aside for travel expenses, staff time, and other costs. In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the head of ICE, and the Department of Labor,
18 Republican members of Congress defended private prison company GEO Group’s practice of forced labor for undocumented immigrants. On Monday,
USA Today reported white supremacist leader Richard Spencer tweeted a YouTube video in which he bemoaned that because of violent clashes, his rallies are no longer “fun.” On Friday,
a resolution denouncing white nationalists and neo-Nazis in the Tennessee legislature didn’t make it out of committee. A motion brought by a Democrat to talk about the bill could not find a Republican to second.
Dallas Morning News reported that a local newspaper, the Olton Enterprise, removed reference of a same-sex couple, the son and his partner, from a mother’s obituary, citing “religious and ethical reasons.” On Thursday,
Politico reported on emails which reveal conservatives, including Newt Gingrich, targeted Obama holdovers “burrowed into the government,” including State Department Iran expert Sahar Nowrouzzadeh. Nowrouzzadeh, born in Connecticut, was attacked by conservative media. Brian Hook, chief of State Department’s Policy Planning Staff,
sent an email to himself in April which included a list of names, questioning their loyalties. On Sunday,
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave an alarming interview to “60 Minutes” in which she admitted she hasn’t “intentionally” visited underperforming schools, and struggled to answer basic questions about the nation’s schools.
DeVos continued Monday on the “Today” show, when asked about Trump’s proposal for school safety measures, she contradicted the NRA-friendly White House report just out saying, “everything is on the table.” Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, told
Bloomberg, “My function, really, as an economist is to try to provide the underlying analytics that confirm his intuition. And his intuition is always right in these matters.” CNN reported at a meeting set up at chief of staff John Kelly’s request, officials from the White House counsel’s office and the Cabinet liaison
met with Ryan Zinke, David Shulkin, Ben Carson, and Scott Pruitt last month to provide “a clear message that optics matter.” On Wednesday, CNN reported
emails show Carson and his wife selected the $31,000 dining set for the Department of Housing and Urban Development dining room, in contrast to Carson’s statement in Week 68that he had little or no involvement. On Thursday,
The Guardian reported Naved Jafry, a senior adviser at Carson’s HUD, had multiple allegations of fraud and had exaggerated his military record. Jafry apologized for inflating his biography and resigned. On Thursday,
Zinke said his department cut the cost of replacing six historical doors in his office from $139k to $75k. Zinke said the episode shows the need for “a little more flexibility or common sense” in laws. Secretary of Defense
James Mattis was linked to Theranos, which was involved in a massive corporate fraud uncovered this week. Mattis served on the company’s board, and advocated for use of their technology (which is fake) inside the military. On Tuesday,
Democrat Conor Lamb narrowly won a House special election in Pennsylvania in a district which has traditionally gone Republican. Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016.
Republicans massively outspent Democrats on the race: outside groups had spent more than $14 million on Republican Rick Saccone’s behalf, compared to just $2 million for Lamb. After the election Trump and the GOP said Saccone was a bad candidate, and that Lamb embraced Trump policy, which is false. Two House Democrats
asked the US special counsel to investigate if a trip by Zinke to Pennsylvania weeks before the special election may have violated the Hatch Act.
AP reported that despite promises by Trump to drain the swamp, he has filled federal agencies with ex-lobbyists and corporate lawyers who now regulate the industries they previously worked in. White House counsel Don McGahn has
issued at least 37 ethics waivers to key administration officials at the White House and executive branch agencies. Under Obama, just five ethics waivers went to former lobbyists.
NYT reported the Kushner Companies and the Trump Organization are quietly working together, and have signed a letter of intent on at least one real estate deal, raising concerns from experts in government ethics.
Kansas City Business Journal reported that Sprint will cut 500 jobs at its Oakland Park headquarters. In Week 7, Trump took credit for 5,000 jobs at Sprint which were created under the Obama Administration. On Monday
, AP reported on Donald Jr.’s previously undisclosed business dealings with Texas hedge fund manager Gentry Beach, a longtime hunting buddy who raised millions for the Trump campaign.
Beach has been granted special access, including to top National Security Council officials to push for curbing US sanctions in Venezuela to open business for US companies. NSC lawyers raised red flags about the meeting. On Monday,
McClatchy reported Ivanka, while acting as a White House adviser, hasn’t cut ties with the Trump Organization, and will pull in more than $1 million from family business deals across the globe. Some
Trump-branded developments are hiring state-owned companies, receiving gifts from foreign governments such as eased regulations, and accepting payments from customers who are foreign officials. On Tuesday,
Bloomberg reported two months after Kushner joined the White House, his family sold a stake in a Brooklyn building to Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, whose controlling shareholder is the Japanese government. At the time of the deal, March 31,
Kushner was helping Trump oversee trade policy. The purchase price represented a premium of more than 60% over the basis Kushner Cos. and their partners paid four years earlier.
The deal freed up cash for Kushner Cos. to take ownership stakes in nearby buildings in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood, while the building NTT invested in remains vacant. On Wednesday, CNN reported
Department of Defense employees charged almost $140,000 on department-issued Visa cards at Trump branded properties during Trump’s first eight months of being in office. On Sunday,
BuzzFeed reported Trump lawyers are considering a challenge to stop “60 Minutes” from airing an interview of Stephanie Clifford, the performer who uses the stage name Stormy Daniels. On Monday,
Dallas Morning News reported Texas officials are investigating whether a Dallas-area notary properly signed off on Clifford’s agreement. As a notary, she did not sign or date the 2016 agreement. In a complaint
filed with the DOJ and Office of Government Ethics, watchdog group CREW argued Michael Cohen’s payment to Clifford “constituted a loan” to Trump’s campaign, and Trump “seemingly violated a federal law by failing to disclose it” in campaign filings. On Monday,
NYT reported on a letter from Stephanie Clifford’s attorney to Cohen, in which Clifford offered to wire $130,000 into any account of Trump’s choosing to buy her way out the hush agreement. The offer, which had a deadline of Tuesday at noon, also seeks an agreement that
neither Trump or the shell company set up by Cohen, would block the broadcast of Clifford’s “60 Minutes” interview. On Wednesday,
WSJ reported a second lawyer who works for Trump Organization, Jill Martin, is listed as counsel in an arbitration demand for Essential Consultants to pay $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford in 2016 in exchange for her silence. In a statement, the
Trump Organization said Martin filed the document “in her individual capacity” while waiting for a New York-based lawyer to get approval to practice in California. On Thursday,
WAPO reported CBS tentatively plans to air the “60 Minutes” episode on March 25. CBS president David Rhodes said at the Innovative TV conference on Tuesday that the hold up is routine fact checking. On Thursday,
AP reported that lawyers representing Trump’s family hotel business threatened a Panamanian judicial official handling the dispute of the hotel previously known as Trump International Hotel in Panama. In the complaint, the justice of the peace,
Marisol Carrera, said Trump’s lawyers accosted her in her office after she ruled against Trump in Week 69. The abuse continued, she said, after she called for the police to come. On Friday, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney told MSNBC in a morning interview that
Clifford was threatened with physical harm, and suggested she had only signed the hush agreement because of threats against her. On Friday, in an afternoon interview with CNN,
Stephanie Clifford’s attorney said some of the alleged threats continued to take place while Trump was in the office. On Friday, in papers filed in federal court via Essential Consultants,
Michael Cohen accused Stephanie Clifford of violating the hush agreement 20 times, and claimed he had the right to seek $20 million of damages. Also in the filing, Cohen seeks to
move the case out of the public eye, and back into private arbitration. In a separate filing, a lawyer representing Trump said he intends to join the push to return to private arbitration. On Monday,
Bloomberg reported Mueller is considering setting aside the obstruction of justice case against Trump, which is almost complete, while his team finishes work on possible collusion and the hacking of Democrats. Mueller’s team is concerned that bringing obstruction of justice first, the part that might hit Trump closest personally,
may cause witnesses to become less cooperative and lead Trump to move to shut down the probe. Obstruction of justice includes
the James Comey firing, Trump’s input on Donald Jr.’s misleading June 9 meeting statement, and Trump considering firing Mueller. Trump, Ivanka and Donald Jr. have not yet been interviewed. On Monday, deputy attorney general
Rod Rosenstein offered unqualified support for Mueller despite White House criticism, adding, “I don’t believe there is any justification at this point for terminating the special counsel.” On Monday,
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee brought the committee’s investigation of the 2016 election to an end, over fierce objections by Democrats. Republicans drafted a 150-page report on their findings without consulting with Democrats. Among the findings in the report, Republicans said that
Russia did meddle, that the Obama administration had a “lackluster” response, but there was no preference by Russia for Trump and no collusion.
The Republicans reached the exact opposite finding of US intelligence agencies, which unanimously found that Russia interfered with the intention of helping Trump win.
Trump tweeted after the report was released, in all capitalized letters, the House Intelligence Committee, “FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA.” On Tuesday, Rep. Trey Gowdy
broke from his Republican colleagues, saying evidence gathered by the committee clearly showed Russia did work to undermine Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday,
Rep. K. Michael Conaway, who is technically leading the committee, backed off from the Republican report findings saying “it’s clear [Russian officials] were trying to hurt Hillary [Clinton].” On Tuesday,
Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee issued a 21-page “status report” which laid out their case to continue the probe. The report finds Russia’s “active measures” efforts were intended to help Trump win.
The status-report included a long list of key witnesses they have yet to call, including Reince Priebus, Stephen Miller, KT McFarland, Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, Sam Nunberg, and others who met with the regime like Natalia Veselnitskaya, and social media companies. Democrats also cited a previously unreported item, that
Trump’s business had been “actively negotiating a business deal in Moscow with a sanctioned Russian bank” during the 2016 campaign season.
Business Insider reported Joseph Mifsud, the professor who met with George Papadopoulos and told him Russia had “dirt”on Hillary Clinton, has gone missing. His fiancée, with whom he has a baby, has not heard from him. On Tuesday,
WAPO reported that in the spring of 2016, months before the emails were released, Roger Stone had a conversation with Julian Assange, in which Assange said his organization had obtained emails of senior Democrats.
At least two people were informed of the conversation: the source for the WAPO story who chose to remain anonymous due to the ongoing FBI investigation and Nunberg, who testified before a grand jury in Week 69.
BuzzFeed reported, based on testimony given by Felix Sater to the House Intelligence Committee, he has worked as an American spy, both as an asset for the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (or DIA) tracking Osama bin Laden, and then for the FBI for over a decade providing intel. Some say Sater may still be working with the FBI and knows many agents. Reportedly he did some of this work to avoid jail time for a financial crime.
Today he is being questioned on Trump’s business deals and ties to Russia.
BuzzFeed reporters interviewed Sater in Los Angeles, where he is now living. Sater says he is telling his full story to the FBI agents, at least six of whom he allegedly knows from past dealings, as part of the Mueller probe. On Monday,
Daily Mail reported Hamad al Mazroie, the spy chief for the UAE intelligence service, and Mohammed Dahlan, the UAE crown prince’s personal conduit to the Kremlin, were also at the Seychelles meeting. On Wednesday,
Paul Manafort asked a federal judge again to dismiss the criminal case filed against him in Washington, DC, arguing Mueller’s appointment was invalid and that he exceeded the scope of his authority. On Thursday,
NYT reported that in recent weeks, Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization to hand over all documents related to Russia and other topics he is investigating. It is unclear why Mueller used a subpoena. This marks
the first Mueller subpoena of Trump’s business. In Week 36, Trump said Mueller would be crossing a “red line” if he looked into Trump’s family business. CNN reported the
FBI contacted Thailand’s immigration bureau last week to set up a meeting with Anastasia Vashukevich and Alexander Kirillov, escorts held in Thai jail. In Week 69, Vashukevich said she has 16 hours of tapes of conversations with Russians on US election interference. On Tuesday, US District Judge T.S. Ellis, III, in Alexandria, Virginia said given the nature of the charges and weight of the evidence against him,
Manafort “faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.” The judge
placed Manafort on a 24-hour-a-day lockdown,” citing “The defendant is a person of great wealth who has the financial means and international connections to flee…and every incentive to do so.” On Thursday,
four GOP Senators — Chuck Grassley, Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, and Thom Tillis — called on the DOJ to appoint a second special prosecutor to investigate the FBI’s mishandling of the Russia probe prior to Mueller’s appointment. On Monday,
James Schwab, the San Francisco spokesperson for ICE resigned, citing “false” and “misleading” statements made by top-ranking officials, including Sessions and ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan. On Monday, Robert Lightfoot Jr.,
who has served as acting director of NASA for more than a year awaiting a qualified Trump nominee to replace him, will retire without a clear successor. On Tuesday,
Trump opened the door to establishing a new “space force” inside the Pentagon to oversee all space activities, even though the Pentagon brass and his own Air Force secretary have opposed the idea. On Monday,
John McEntee, Trump’s personal assistant, was fired and escorted out of the White House. A White House official said the cause for the firing was an unspecified security issue. On Thursday,
WAPO reported McEntee was fired over a gambling habit: betting tens of thousands of dollars at a time, leaving him vulnerable to outside influence. Formerly, he was a production assistant at Fox News.
Rex Tillerson cut his trip to Africa short, returning on Monday, explaining to reporters on the plane home, “I felt like, look, I just need to get back.” Tillerson was in Africa for an apology tour after Trump’s “shithole countries” comment in Week 61. On his way back,
Tillerson said of the UK spy poisoning “a really egregious act” that appears to have “clearly” come from Russia, adding once the facts are in, “we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be.” On Tuesday,
Trump fired Tillerson as Secretary of State, and replaced him with CIA director Pompeo. Tillerson learned he was fired, hours after returning from his Africa trip, through a staffer who saw Trump’s tweet. Trump met reporters shortly after, on Tuesday morning, and told them
he had made the decision to fire Tillerson “by myself.” Trump claimed he had called Tillerson from Air Force One around noon. On Tuesday, Under SoS
Steve Goldstein disputed that claim, saying Tillerson learned of his firing through Twitter and “did not speak to the president” and is unaware of why he was fired. Goldstein was then fired. On Friday, in an off-the-record meeting with Kelly and a small group of reporters,
Kelly said he informed Tillerson Sunday that Trump would likely fire him soon. Kelly added Tillerson was suffering from a stomach bug, so the conversation took place while Tillerson was on the toilet. On Wednesday,
Vanity Fair reported H.R. McMaster could be next, and that Trump is considering firing Sessions and replacing him with Pruitt, who would not be recused from overseeing the Russia probe. With Tillerson and Goldstein out,
eight of the top 10 positions in the State Department are vacant. Only deputy secretary John Sullivan, who will now be the acting SoS, and spokesperson Heather Nauert, a former co-host of “Fox & Friends,” remain. On Wednesday,
Trump picked Larry Kudlow to replace Gary Cohn as director of the National Economic Council. Kudlow is best known for his CNBC television show, and for making grand prognostications and provocative statements. Trump is
considering replacing VA Secretary Shulkin with Pete Hegseth, a co-host of “Fox & Friends Weekend.” Trump reportedly frequently calls Hegseth to discuss veterans’ policy. On Thursday, at a discussion at the Holocaust Memorial Museum,
McMaster called for further US action against Russia as punishment for crimes in Syria, saying “Russia is also complicit in Assad’s atrocities.” On Thursday night,
WAPO reported Trump plans to fire McMaster, his second national security adviser. Trump is comfortable removing McMaster, with whom he never gelled, but says he doesn’t want to humiliate him (as he did with Tillerson). Also on Thursday,
Trump indicated there will be more firings, telling reporters, “There will always be change. And I think you want to see change. I want to also see different ideas.”
The mood in the White House this week has “verged on mania.” White House aides are anxious and nervous, and on edge not knowing if they will be next. “Everybody fears the perp walk,” one White House official said.
Remaining staff are clashing with each other, vying for vacated positions. Trump reportedly said last week, “I like conflict,” while wrapping his fists toward one another to simulate a clash. “I like watching it.” On Thursday, CBS News reported that a
shake-up, which some in the White House are calling a purge, could result in the firings of Kelly, McMaster, and three cabinet members, depending on Trump’s volatile moods. On Friday,
WSJ reported after making cryptic comments by Kelly indicating he may step down, he and Trump reached temporary “truce” in their tumultuous relationship. Kushner and Ivanka continue to undercut Kelly. Trump told advisers afterward that
Mr. Kelly was “100% safe.” Kelly told his worried staffers, at least for the moment, he and Trump had patched things up. “I’m in.” Also on Friday, when an ABC News reporter caught McMaster giving a tour in the West Wing and asked his status,
McMaster said, “Everybody has got to leave the White House at some point. I’m doing my job.” KBS World Radio, a South Korean public international broadcaster, reported
Ivanka will, in Tillerson’s stead, meet with South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha on her visit to the US. Ivanka has interim security clearance. On Wednesday, dubbed National School Walkout Day one month after the Parkland shooting,
students at high schools around the country walked out at 10 a.m. and for 17 minutes recognized the 17 murdered. On Monday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered “fullest condemnation” of the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter,
but declined to blame Russia as Prime Minister Theresa May did earlier that day. On Wednesday, the
UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats over the attempted assassination attempt. PM May also announced increased checks on private flights, customs and freight from Russia, and other measures. On Wednesday,
US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the UN, “Russia is responsible…using a military-grade nerve agent,” adding “the credibility of this council will not survive if we fail to hold Russia accountable.” On Wednesday, the White House changed its position. Sanders
issued a statement blaming Russia, and adding the attack, “fits into a pattern of behavior in which Russia disregards the international rules-based order, undermines the sovereignty and security of countries worldwide.” On Thursday, the US, France, and Germany joined Britain in a joint statement saying Russia was likely responsible for attack, and
calling it the “first offensive use of a nerve agent” in Europe since World War II. On Thursday,
Trump’s Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Russia, including five entities and 19 individuals for election interference. This marks the first steps to impose sanctions, well past the deadline of a law passed by Congress. The entities sanctioned include those listed on Mueller’s indictment. The move was seen as
largely symbolic as many on the list were already under sanction. The Trump regime also
accused Russia of a series of cyberattacks on American and European nuclear power plants and water and electric systems, allowing Russia to sabotage infrastructure at will. Computer screenshots released by the Department of Homeland Security show
Russian state hackers were in a position to manipulate or shut down power plants. Most US power plants are privately owned, many with older versions of software.
Three separate Russian cyber-operations were underway simultaneouslyconducted by separate Russian groups for energy attacks, those who hacked DNC emails, and those who used social media to sow discord.
Russian cyberattacks surged last year, starting three months after Trump took office. Trump has said little to nothing about Russia’s cyberattacks, and has yet to acknowledge they interfered in our election. On Tuesday, the Guardian reported
Russian exile Nikolai Glushkov was found dead in his London home. The cause of death is unknown, and there is not yet an established link to the nerve gas attack in Salisbury. On Friday, a post-mortem of Glushkov revealed he died of “compression to the neck.”
Glushkov’s death is now being investigated as a murder inquiry.
Miami Herald reported the Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov, which the Pentagon has been monitoring because it has sailed too close to US waters on several occasions, docked at the port of Havana on Friday. On Thursday,
Vanessa Trump took legal steps to formally end her 12-year marriage to Donald Jr. The couple have five children together. On Thursday,
Politico reported the Trump regime is finalizing its plan to solve the opioid crisis, which will include allowing harsher law enforcement measures, including the death penalty, for drug dealers.
The parents of slain DNC staffer Seth Rich sued Fox News, reporter Malia Zimmerman and Fox News commenter Ed Butowsky over their coverage which contained “false and fabricated facts,” and was later retracted. In
Week 38, ABC News reported then press secretary Sean Spicer met with Zimmerman and Butowsky about the Seth Rich story at the White House, and asked to be “kept abreast of developments.” On Friday,
Facebook banned the Trump campaign’s data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, and its parent company SCL Group, as well as University of Cambridge psychologist Aleksandr Kogan, and Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies. Kogan had gained access to the personal information of 270,000 Facebook members after they chose to download his app, “thisisyourdigitallife.”
Kogan passed the information on to Cambridge Analytica and Wylie. Facebook learned of Kogan’s actions in 2015, and demanded the information be destroyed.
Cambridge Analytica, Kogan and Wylie certified to Facebook that they had done so. Facebook learned this was not true. On Saturday,
NYT reported a joint examination with The Observer of London found Cambridge Analytica had harvested private information from Facebook of more than 50 million users without their permission. Wylie, who worked at Cambridge Analytica until 2014 said, “Rules don’t matter for them. For them, this is a war, and it’s all fair,” adding “
They want to fight a culture war in America,” and analytics were the arsenal.
Cambridge Analytica was also involved in the 2014 election when the firm secured a $15 million investment from Robert Mercer and wooed Bannon. At that time, the company did not have the data to make its products work.
Facebook downplayed the scope of the leak, and questioned whether any of the data was still out of their control. Of the 50 million hacked, 30 million contained enough information to build psychographic profiles. Also of note is
Cambridge Analytica’s use of non-US employees in US elections, which would be illegal. Mueller has demanded emails of Cambridge Analytica employees who worked for the Trump team. On Friday,
Sessions fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, about 24 hours before he could retire and collect his full pension. His firing stems from an Inspector General investigation which found he leaked information to the media about the Clinton-related case. McCabe, who had more than two decades of service in the FBI, could lose a portion of his anticipated pension.
A spokesperson for McCabe said he learned of his firing from Sessions’ press release. Sessions fired McCabe just before 10 p.m.
Hours earlier, Fox News posted a story that McCabe had been fired. The story was up for 45 minutes before Fox News took it down, claiming the draft was posted by mistake. Just after midnight,
Trump tweeted his support for Sessions’ move, “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI — A great day for Democracy.”
Trump also bashed Comey, tweeting, “Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!” On Saturday, former
CIA director John Brennan responded to Trump, tweeting, “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history.” On Saturday, CNN reported
McCabe wrote memos documenting his conversations with Trump. Those memos have now been turned over to Mueller’s team. On Friday,
Sen. Jeff Flake told CNN the Republican Party “might not deserve to lead” due to its support of Trump. Thursday Flake said, “Never has a party abandoned, fled its principles and deeply held beliefs so quickly.”
Michael Flynn make his first appearance since pleading guilty in the Mueller probe, campaigning for Republican congressional candidate Omar Navarro who is running against Maxine Waters in November. On Saturday, in a morning interview with the
Daily Beast, Trump attorney John Dowd said he hopes Deputy AG Rosenstein will shut down Mueller’s probe into Russia’s election interference. When asked if he was speaking on behalf of Trump, Dowd answered, “Yes as his counsel.” In a
subsequent statement Saturday morning, Dowd backtracked saying he had been “speaking for myself, not the president.”
On a street sign in New York City, November 2017
New York City, 2018
New York City, 2018
by Mf13. – Intagram: https://www.instagram.com/mara.f13/
2mar18. Orlando, FL. West Arts District.
2mar18. Orlando, FL. West Arts District
Miami, FL – based Golden 305. To check out more of his work, here is his Instagram link: https://www.instagram.com/golden305/
27feb18. Jacksonville, FL
Week 69 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
March 10, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-69-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-da89823dc88b
Artist: Tee Wat
This week, , taking policy matters into his own hands. After praising China’s President Xi for ending term limits, Trump took controversial actions, imposing tariffs and setting up a meeting with Kim Jong-un — both against his party’s positions, and taken after foregoing or ignoring experts’ and allies’ advice. Trump acted like a dictator
Amid record turnover, Trump’s inner-circle continues to shrink, which is likely to continue as Trump reportedly tells friends the White House problems come from those around him, not him. With almost one-third of key roles in the executive branch key roles remaining unfilled, and many senior White House roles vacated, increasingly power and control lies in the hands of Trump alone, while the legislative branch remains largely compliant.
Despite Trump’s success in taking back the narrative this week by diverting media attention with the shiny coins of tariffs and a North Korea meeting, trouble lies ahead. This week a new cooperating witness was reported in the intensifying Mueller probe, and the Stormy Daniels story entered potentially dangerous legal territory for Trump and Michael Cohen.
On Saturday, WAPO reported on the air of anxiety and volatility inside the White House as Trump rages. White House officials say these are darkest days in at least half a year, with one adding, “We haven’t bottomed out.”
Retired four-star Army general Barry McCaffrey warned the American people and especially Congress should be alarmed, saying Trump is “starting to wobble in his emotional stability and this is not going to end well.”
On Saturday, CNN obtained a recording of a closed-door campaign fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago that evening. Trump complained that his campaign was still under scrutiny while Hillary’s is not, blaming a “rigged system” that doesn’t have the “right people” in place to fix it.
Trump called the Iraq invasion “the single worst decision ever made,” criticizing George W. Bush, “That was Bush. Another real genius,” as well as US intelligence: “Great intelligence agency there.”
Trump praised China’s President Xi, who in Week 68, did away with term limits, saying “He’s now president for life. President for life,” adding, “I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”
On Monday, NY Post reported a New Jersey Transit worker made an announcement on a Manhattan-bound train warning passengers that ICE agents were on board “looking for illegals.” The worker was suspended.
On Monday, fights broke out and police made arrests as white supremacists clashed with protesters ahead of Richard Spencer delivering a speech at Michigan State University to what was reportedly a tiny crowd.
AP reported Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services issued new guidelines and priorities for $260 million of Title X grant applications, giving preference to groups that stress abstinence at the expense of reproductive health organizations.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists called it turning “back the clock on women’s health,” and others noted the regime’s continued practice of shifting away from science to unscientific ideologies.
On Thursday, Mississippi legislature passed a ban on abortion after 15 weeks, the nation’s most restrictive abortion bill. The bill will now head to the governor, who has publicly said he will sign it.
Des Moines Register reported the Iowa Senate approved a ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The ban will now move to the state’s House of Representatives where its outcome is uncertain.
Alejandra Pablos, a 32-year-old prominent reproductive justice activist, was detained by ICE while traveling to Phoenix from Virginia this week to check in with immigration officials, necessitated by a DUI three years ago.
Pablos will be held in a detention center outside Tucson until her December court date. The Supreme Court ruled in Week 68 that people being held for deportation are not entitled to a bond hearing.
On Friday, the ACLU filed a class-action suit against the Trump regime, accusing it of broadly separating immigrant families seeking asylum. The lawsuit follows a case in Week 68 of ICE separating a Congolese woman from her 7-year-old daughter.
Trump’s DHS has not announced a formal policy to separate adults seeking asylum from their children, but the regime has said they are considering doing this broadly to discourage asylum seekers from coming to the US.
Dallas Morning News reported that Stacy Bailey, a popular art teacher at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School in Mansfield, was suspended for asking that LGBTQ language be added to school district’s policy.
WAPO reported on a nationwide analysis issued by California’s insurance marketplace which found premiums for ACA health insurance plans could rise by 35–94% around the country in the next three years.
In a Fish and Wildlife Service memorandum quietly issued by the Trump regime last Thursday, the regime said it will now consider elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe and Zambia on a case-by-case basis.
In South Cumberland Elementary School, 100 miles east of Nashville, a mural depicting a lynching was removed from the gymnasium wall after months of calls and emails to the superintendent and the school board.
On Monday, California-based cartoonist Matt Furie, who created Pepe the Frog, sued website Infowars for selling a poster using the character alongside Alex Jones, Trump, Milo Yiannopoulos, and other right-wing figures.
HuffPost reported Ben Carson changed the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s mission statement, deleting a reference to protecting consumers, and removing the mandate to “build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.”
On Monday, a federal judge declined a request from the state of California to immediately stop enforcement of a key part of the Trump regime’s policy to punish sanctuary cities for protecting undocumented immigrants.
On Tuesday, Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice sued the state of California and two top state officials for impeding immigration enforcement, citing the Constitution gives the government sweeping authority over immigration.
Sessions’ DOJ claims California is blocking enforcement efforts by DHS. Tuesday evening, Gov. Jerry Brown responded calling the federal lawsuit a political stunt and “SAD!”
On Sunday, NYT reported Rex Tillerson’s State Department has yet to spend any of $120 million it was allocated since late 2016 to counter Russia’s efforts to meddle in elections and sow distrust in democracy.
None of the 23 analysts in the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, tasked with countering Moscow’s disinformation, speak Russian. A hiring freeze has hindered bringing on computer experts to track Russian efforts.
Tillerson continues to focus on drastically shrinking the State Department. Last year, the department spent just 79% of the money allocated by Congress, the lowest in 15 years.
Axios reported VA secretary David Shulkin started handling his own media, saying Trump appointees in his agency are conspiring to undermine him. Shulkin also told Politico he has the green light to “purge” his agency.
On Friday, WAPO reported Shulkin has canceled morning meetings with Trump’s political appointees, gathering instead with only aides he trusts. Shulkin has also placed an armed guard outside his office.
William Otis, a Trump pick for a seat on the US Sentencing Commission, the body that sets policy used to punish federal criminals, has called for abolishing the agency and made racially charged comments about crime.
On Tuesday, AP reported John Konkus, a Republican consultant and key aide to Scott Pruitt, was granted permission by the Environmental Protection Agency to make extra money moonlighting for private clientswhose identities are being kept secret.
The letter detailing the arrangement, which was released to Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, gave Konkus approval to work for at least two clients, whose names were redacted in the letter.
On Tuesday, the US Office of Special Counsel announced Kellyanne Conway had violated the Hatch Act on two cable-TV interviews by “advocating for and against candidates” in last year’s Alabama Senate special election.
OSC special counsel, Henry Kerner, said Conway “impermissibly mixed official government business with political views,” and referred her violation to Trump for “consideration of appropriate disciplinary action.”
On Tuesday, the White House said Conway did not violate the Hatch Act because she “did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate,” rather broadly for people who would support Trump’s agenda.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, called on Trump to take disciplinary action. UN ambassador Nikki Haley and social media director Dan Scavino have also received reprimands or warnings on the Hatch Act.
On Tuesday, Gary Cohn resigned as head of the National Economic Council, saying there was no single factor in his decision, but Trump’s choice to impose tariffs seemed to be the final straw.
On Wednesday, ABC News reported John Kelly has terminated or reassigned several White House staffers for issues related to their security clearances, including at least one staffer who worked in the Office of the First Lady.
In an op-ed John Feeley, US ambassador to Panama resigned “because the traditional core values of the US…have been warped and betrayed.” Feeley said he made a private decision to step down after Charlottesville.
On Wednesday, NPR reported that 13 1/2 months in a record-setting 43% of top-level positions in the Trump White House have seen turnover. After two full years, Obama was at 24% and George W. Bush at 33%.
On Tuesday, during Congressional testimony, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao admitted that Trump personally killed the Gateway project, a plan for a new tunnel between Manhattan and New Jersey, in Week 60.
On Wednesday, Betsy DeVos visited Parkland high school. One student tweeted, “Betsy Devos came to my school, talked to three people, and pet a dog.” DeVos also held a press conference which lasted only eight minutes.
CNN reported on a Sinclair internal memo, branded an “anchor delivered journalistic responsibility message,” telling local TV stations to decry “fake stories” from national news outlets — echoing Trump’s “fake news” claims.
AP reported the Interior Department plans to spend $139,000 to upgrade three sets of double doors in Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office. Zinke’s spokesperson said he was not aware. The contractor at Conquest Solutions hung up on AP.
On Thursday, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short declined to provide the details to the House Oversight Committee on how Rob Porter was permitted to work for the White House with an interim security clearance
On Friday, Rep. Cummings, ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, wrote a letter to Trey Gowdy, chair of the committee, asking that a subpoena be issued to force the White House to turn over the security clearance documents.
On Friday, NYT reported EPA chief Pruitt wanted to host public debates challenging climate change science, but Kelly nixed the idea. Pruitt said Trump has expressed enthusiasm for the idea.
WAPO reported the Trump regime’s Domestic Policy Council and the Department of Justice is studying new policy which would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty for drug dealers.
The regime cites the death penalty as part of their strategy to address the opioid crisis. As per Week 68, Trump has said he admires the Chinese and Filipinos who don’t have drug problem, because “they just kill them.”
On Monday, calling it “Bigger than Watergate,” Trump took to Twitter to blame Obama for launching the Russia probe in order to discredit his campaign “so Crooked H would win.” Trump also tweeted Obama “did NOTHING about Russian meddling.”
On Tuesday, Trump denounced as “ wrong” reporting that his White House is in chaos, tweeting it is a “Fake News narrative,” and his White House has “great Energy!” adding “I still have some people that I want to change.”
On Sunday, Axios reported on a grand jury subpoena sent to a witness by Robert Mueller last month seeking all communications sent and receivedwith Carter Page, Corey Lewandowski, Trump, Hope Hicks, Keith Schiller, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roger Stone, and Steve Bannon from November 1, 2015 to the present.
Trump launched his campaign 4 1/2 months earlier. On Monday, NBC News reported Sam Nunberg was the witness who received the subpoena. Nunberg spent much of Monday making media appearances.
After telling the media Monday that he would defy a subpoena from Mueller, on Tuesday, Nunberg changed course, telling .” AP, “I’m going to end up cooperating with them
On Friday, Nunberg appeared at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC. Nunberg is the first Trump campaign affiliate to appear in front of a grand jury in the Mueller probe and walk through the main entrance.
On Saturday, after spending six hours in front of the grand jury, Nunberg told .” ABC News he now believes the Mueller probe is “warranted,” adding “there’s a lot there
On Monday, a deep dive on Christopher Steele by Jane Mayer in several previously unreported stories. The New Yorker revealed Mayer says Steele’s life “is sort of a mess at this point, thanks to American politics.”
Initially Steele did not know he was doing research for the Clinton campaign. The campaign in turn didn’t know at the time that Steele had gone to the FBI with his findings, or that the FBI opened an investigation.
Mayer reported that the CIA became convinced by the very end of the summer that the Russians were not only interfering, but also trying to help Trump, as Steele had been saying. Obama wanted to issue a bi-partisan public statement but Sen. Mitch McConnell blocked it, saying he would not sign off.
In a second short memo written in November 2016, Steele cites one Russian source who claimed Moscow intervened to block Trump from picking Mitt Romney for his SoS, because Romney would be unfriendly to Russian interests. Steele shared this information with Mueller’s team.
Mayer also reports that Obama and Biden didn’t know about Russian hacking until August 2016, and didn’t know about the dossier until an Oval Office meeting in January 2017.
On Thursday, WSJ reported on analysis which shows that weeks after Trump won the election, Russia-backed online “trolls” flooded social media trying to block Romney from becoming SoS.
The trolls used terms like “two headed snake” and a “globalist puppet” to describe Romney, and promoted a rally outside Trump Tower and helped spread a petition to block Romney from being nominated.
On Monday, the Senate Intelligence Committee investigators said it will question Reddit and Tumblr, amid recent reporting that Internet Research Agency had accounts on both social media platforms during the 2016 election.
On Monday, NYT reported Anastasia Vashukevich, a Belarusian escort, said from jail in Bangkok that she had more than 16 hours of audio recordings that could help shed light on Russian interference in the US election.
Vashukevich said she is close to Oleg Deripaska, and the recordings made in August 2016 feature his discussions about the US presidential election. She said she would turn over the tapes in return for asylum in the US.
ABC News reported Flynn put his Virginia home up for sale to pay his mounting legal fees in the Mueller probe. Flynn’s youngest brother said, “This has been a trying experience. It has been a crucible and it’s not over.”
On Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was grilled by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Trump’s response to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Coats said there are ongoing conversations between Trump and US intelligence agencies.
Coats said, “We assess that Russia is likely to continue to pursue even more aggressive cyber attacks with the intent of degrading our democratic values and weakening our alliances.”
When pressed on what is being done, Coats said that information is classified, and answered Trump “directs me to do my job and my job is to provide the intelligence.”
On Sunday, NYT reported Mueller’s team is focused on George Nader, an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed of the UAE. Last year. Nader was a frequent visitor to Trump’s WH to meet with Bannon and Jared Kushner.
In recent weeks, Mueller’s team has interviewed Nader about possible attempts by the UAE to buy influence by contributing financial support to Trump during the presidential campaign. It is illegal for foreign entities to contribute to campaigns or for campaigns to accept foreign money.
Around Trump’s inauguration, Nader meet with Elliott Broidy, a Republican fund-raiser, whom he later introduced to Prince Mohammed. Broidy lobbied Trump to meet privately “in an informal setting” with Prince Mohammad.
On October 6, 2017 Broidy sent a detailed memorandum to the crown prince and Nader through an encrypted email address about his advocacy for the UAE in his meetings with Trump and others in the White House.
On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported Broidy learned last week that his email accounts used in his capacity as a deputy finance chairman of the RNC and in foreign affairs circles, had been hacked.
Law-enforcement officials have been notified and are investigating. Broidy used his political ties to advance his business interests and those of foreign leaders. All the information will be released soon on “the dark web.”
In 2009, Broidy pleaded guilty to paying nearly $1 million in gifts to officials with close ties to the comptroller overseeing the NY state pension fund in exchange $250 million of public funds to manage and $18 million in management fees.
On Tuesday, NYT reported Nader is cooperating and gave testimony to a grand jury last week. Nader is being questioned by Mueller’s team on the influence of foreign money on Trump’s political activities and about the January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles, which Nader attended.
The Seychelles meeting was arranged by Prince Mohammed between Erik Prince, as a representative of Trump, and Kirill Dmitriev, a Putin ally, and Nader, reportedly per Week 21 to set up back-channel communication.
Shortly after Seychelles, Dmitriev met with Anthony Scaramucci, then an informal advisor to Trump, at Davos. In an interview there with Russia-news agency TASS, Scaramucci criticized Obama’s economic sanctions as ineffective.
On Wednesday, WAPO reported Nader started cooperating with Mueller after he arrived at Dulles airport in mid-January. Nader, who helped organize the Seychelles meeting, has testified in front of a grand jury.
Nader’s testimony was part of Mueller’s effort to gather information which indicated the Seychelles meeting in January 2017 was an effort to establish a back channel between the incoming regime and the Kremlin.
Nader also told Mueller’s team the meeting was set up before the inauguration so a member of the Trump transition could meet with an emissary from Moscow to discuss future relations between the countries.
Erik Prince gave a false statement in his House Intelligence Committee testimony, telling lawmakers the meeting was a chance encounter that was not a planned discussion.
On Wednesday, CNN reported after meeting Nader as he arrived at Dulles with search warrants, the FBI imaged his electronic devices and served him with a subpoena to appear before a grand jury on January 21.
Reportedly Mueller is interested in at least two meetings Nader attended: the December 2016 meeting in New York which the Obama Administration was not notified about, and the Seychelles meeting.
CNN reported there is no indication Nader is suspected of wrongdoing, but his knowledge of these meeting could help investigators understand possible efforts to influence key figures in the administration.
On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham said there should be a second special counsel to investigate Republican’s claims of improper surveillance of Page, saying the DOJ and FBI “got off the rails” by approving the warrant.
On Wednesday, NBC News reported Hicks told the House Intelligence Committee last week that one of her email accounts was hacked, and she could no longer access either her personal or Trump campaign accounts.
On Wednesday, NYT reported that Mueller has learned of two conversations between Trump and key witnesses, Don McGahn and Reince Priebus, to ask them about their testimony in the Russia probe.
In one conversation, Trump told Porter to instruct McGahn to issue a statement denying the January 7 , which reported Trump told McGahn to fire Mueller. McGahn said no, and reminded Trump he did ask that. NYT article
After McGahn would not deny the NYT article, Trump confronted him in the Oval Office in front of Kelly. Trump also asked Priebus in December2017 how his interview with Mueller’s team went, and if they were nice.
Trump lawyers’ advised him to avoid anything that could be construed as interfering. Witnesses and lawyers who learned of the conversationthought they could be problematic and reported them to Mueller.
On Thursday, Manafort was arraigned on 18 tax and fraud charges in a federal court in Virginia. The judge mandated home confinement and that Manafort wear a second GPS monitoring device.
A trial date was set for July 10, ahead of the Washington DC trial which is scheduled to start September 17. Jurors will hear from 20 to 25 witnesses, and the trial is expected to last eight to 10 days.
On Friday, WSJ reported Trump’s lawyers are negotiating with Mueller. One idea is Trump would give an interview in exchange for a deadline to the probe 60 days after the interview.
Trump is pressuring his legal team to bring an end to the probe. Another consideration is reaching agreement on the scope of Trump’s testimony, which his lawyers want to limit to the firings of Flynn and James Comey.
On Friday, WAPO reported Trump was so eager to have Putin attend the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow that he made his first direct outreach in a personal letter, including a personal handwritten note.
Trump also tweeted from the pageant, “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow — if so, will he become my new best friend?”
Trump wrote the letter, which has been turned over to Mueller, at a time he was looking to expand his real estate empire. Mueller’s team has questioned witnesses about the Miss Universe pageant and Trump’s interest in having Putin attend the event.
Mueller is also examining Trump’s relationship with the Agalarovs. Emin Agalarov emailed Donald Jr. in June 2016 to ask if he would like to meet with Natalia Veselnitskaya, which led to the June 9 Trump Tower meeting.
On Tuesday, WAPO reported Mueller’s team has requested documents and interviewed witnesses about incidents involving Cohen over the past several months, including in recent weeks.
Mueller’s team is interested in Cohen’s roles in the discussions around a possible Trump Tower Moscow project, as well as a Russia-friendly peace proposal for Ukraine delivered by a Ukrainian lawmaker to Cohen one week after Trump took office.
On Monday, WSJ reported that First Republic Bank flagged the October 27, 2016 $130,000 payment from Cohen to Stephanie Clifford as suspicious, and reported it to the Treasury Department.
WSJ reported Cohen said he missed two deadlines earlier that month to make the $130,000 payment because he couldn’t get in touch with Trumpin the hectic final days of the campaign to reimburse him for the payment.
WAPO also reported City National Bank, the bank which received the payment on behalf of Clifford launched an internal inquiry about the payment a full year after receiving the funds.
On Tuesday, Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, sued Trump, alleging that since he never signed the non-disclosure agreement, the “hush agreement” in invalid.
In the agreement, Trump is referred to as David Dennison, and Clifford as Peggy Peterson. The agreement and side letter have a DD where Trump was supposed to sign. According to Clifford’s lawyer, he did not.
Clifford’s lawsuit adds credence to the legal complaint filed by Common Cause in Week 67 that the $130,000 payment amounted to an undeclared in-kind contribution to Trump’s presidential campaign.
On Wednesday, NYT reported Trump’s lawyer obtained a restraining order last week in California to prevent Clifford from speaking out about her alleged affair with Trump.
Although Clifford had reached an agreement to keep silent about her affair with Trump, her newly released settlement agreement reveals she did share her story with four people.
One person was adult-film actress Jessica Drake, listed as “Angel Ryan” in the agreement, who is now being represented by Gloria Allred. Others known are Clifford’s manager Gina Rodriguez and Keith Munyan.
Jessica Drake had also accused Trump of sexual misconduct a month before the election. A Trump spokesperson had said that Trump didn’t know the woman and had “no interest in ever knowing her.”
On Wednesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump denied the affair or making the payment himself, and that “there was no knowledge of any payments from the president.”
Sanders said the arbitration was won in Trump’s favor, admitting the nondisclosure agreement exists and directly involves Trump, marking the first time the White House admitted Trump was involved in any way with Daniels.
On Thursday, CNN reported Trump was upset at Sanders over her responses to questions about Clifford, with one source saying Sanders “gave the Stormy Daniels storyline steroids yesterday.”
On Friday, NBC News reported Cohen used his Trump Organization email while negotiating with Clifford and arranging to wire funds for her silence, indicating Cohen may have been acting in an official capacity.
Cohen also used his Trump Organization email account in an email dated October 26 with a representative of First Republic Bank as the funds were being wired.
Experts say the payment to Clifford could be a violation of election law. If Cohen paid out of his own money as stated, and intended to help the campaign, that would be an excessive contribution and illegal.
If Trump paid the $130,000 out of his own funds, he would have had to disclose the payment, otherwise it could be construed as a knowing and willful violation of federal election law, which is a federal crime.
On Monday, the majority owner of the Panama Hotel, Orestes Fintiklis, declared victory as Trump’s name was removed from his hotel, following a Panamanian court order authorizing a change of administration.
WNYC reported Trump ordered new tee markers for his golf courses using with the Presidential Seal. Under federal law, the seal’s use is permitted only for official government business, and misuse can be a crime.
Forbes reported one year after taking office, Trump’s fortune dropped by $400 million to $3.1 billion on Forbes World’s Billionaires list, citing market declines in NYC real estate and Trump’s polarizing personality.
On Thursday, in a federal court filing, a group of former Justice Department officials raised concerns about Trump’s possible interference in the AT&T-Time Warner merger, over his grudge with CNN.
The Young Turks reported King & Spalding, a law firm that has worked on Trump’s real estate concerns, filed a disclosure with the FARA revealing Saudi Arabia paid the firm up to $450,000 for a 30-day period.
The contract was registered with the DOJ on February 21. Five days later, Secretary Rick Perry canceled a scheduled trip to India to instead fly to London to discuss a nuclear cooperation agreement with senior Saudi officials.
On Friday, Trump pardoned Kristian Saucier, a former Navy sailor. Saucier’s lawyer strategically planned to go on Fox News at a time of day Trump watches, and invoked Hillary’s use of a private email server.
On Friday, the Trump Organization said it has donated $151,470 in foreign government profits from its hotels and similar businesses last yearto the US Treasury, but refused to provide any details.
Few public records are available. The DOJ foreign agent records reveal a public relations firm working with the Saudi government spent $270,000 for lodging and catering between Oct. 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, alone.
On Tuesday, the UK government warned Russia of a robust response if the Kremlin is behind the sudden illness of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, both of whom were exposed to an unknown substance Sunday.
On Wednesday, Mark Rowley, head of Counter Terrorism Policing, said a nerve agent was used to try to kill Skripal and his daughter. Both are in critical condition.
On Thursday, The Telegraph reported Skripal has close ties to a security consultant who worked for Steele’s Orbis Business Intelligence, the company that compiled the dossier.
On Friday, Britain deployed 180 special troops to Salisbury. Russia’s Sergei Lavrov dismissed the UK government’s threat of retaliation as propaganda. There was no response from the White House or State Department.
On Wednesday, the EU unveiled an array of tariffs they would place on US goods if Trump follows through with tariffs, adding Trump’s move would put “thousands of European jobs in jeopardy” and would be met with a “proportionate response”
On Wednesday, 107 House Republicans urged Trump to “to take action against China and other unfair trading partners,” but avoid broad tariffs that would hurt jobs, manufacturing and consumers.
On Thursday, a study done by the Council on Foreign Relations found Trump’s steel tariffs could kill up to 40,000 auto jobs by the end of 2019, equal to nearly one-third of the steel workforce.
On Thursday, Trump tweeted that China has been asked to “develop a plan for the year of a One Billion Dollar reduction in their massive Trade Deficit.” The actual trade deficit is $100 billion, not $1 billion.
On Thursday, in defiance of allies, Trump signed an order imposing tariffs on every country except Canada and Mexico. Shortly after, Sen. Jeff Flake he would immediately “draft and introduce legislation to nullify” the tariffs.
On Thursday, a group of 11 countries, including close US allies Japan, Canada, and Australia, signed a revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership without the US. Countries involved with TPP, originally conceived by the US to counter China’s influence, have left the door open for China to join.
On Thursday, during a press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Tillerson said on North Korea, “ In terms of direct talks with the United States, you ask negotiations and we’re a long ways from negotiations.”
On Thursday, at the State Department press briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert said of North Korea, “We are not going to schedule talks about talks or any kind of chat or anything like that at this point.”
Later Thursday, in an unusual breach of protocol, South Korea official Chung Eui-yong, not a US official, announced at the White House that Kim Jong-un had invited Trump to meet for negotiations, and Trump had accepted.
Trump would become the first sitting US leader to meet with a North Korea dictator — an act which will elevate Kim Jong-un on the world stage. Previously, the highest level US official to meet was SoS Madeleine Albright in 2000.
The State Department was not involved in Trump’s decision making. The department’s chief North Korea negotiator, Joseph Yun, recently resigned, and the posts of US ambassador to South Korea and North Korea remain unfilled.
Previously, Trump had said he would start talks with North Korea “only under the right conditions.” Like tariffs, Trump appears to have made the decision to meet impulsively and without consulting experts.
On Friday, WSJ reported late Thursday, Trump interrupted three South Koreans officials as they analyzed an offer to meet with Kim Jong-un and outlined possible diplomatic options, saying “OK, OK, tell them I’ll do it.”
The South Korean officials reportedly looked at each other in disbelief. White House aides, State Department officials, U.S. intelligence officers and others were left scrambling to work out arrangements for a meeting.
On Friday, press secretary Sanders told reporters at the daily press briefing that Trump “will not have the meeting without seeing concrete steps and concrete actions take place by North Korea.”
In a sign of the disarray by Trump’s sudden decision, a White House spokesperson shortly after issued a statement contradicting Sanders, saying, “The invitation has been extended and accepted, and that stands.”
On Friday, Vanity Fair reported Trump has told close friends he is tired of being reined in. Republican sources say Trump believes the problem is the team around him, and he will replace his senior staff in the coming weeks.
Sources say Trump plans to fire Kelly next, adding Cohn wanted the position, but Trump laughed at him. H.R. McMaster, Kushner, and Ivanka could come after according to sources. Trump recently met with John Bolton.
On Friday, CNN reported on a Pentagon memo outlining the initial guidance for Trump’s military parade on Veterans Day. The parade will not include tanks in order to “minimize damage to local infrastructure.”
On the streets of New York City, 2018
Artist: Tee Pop – Miami, FL 2017