Week 31 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
June 17, 2017
Another week for the history books: Trump is under investigation for obstruction of justice — a fact he confirmed through a tweet. With his increasingly erratic behavior, Trump has become his own worst enemy. While investigations by the House, Senate, FBI, federal investigators and special counsel into Trump-Russia steam ahead, Trump’s continued efforts to interfere with investigations may prove to be his ultimate undoing.
This week the tentacles of the Trump-Russia probe reached new members of the Trump regime, and several chose to lawyer up. Congress is singularly focused on Trump-Russia, save for McConnell’s odd, clandestine AHCA efforts.
canceled his UK visit, saying he didn’t want to come until the British public supports him. Large-scale protests were expected. Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ has
been coined “the summer White House,” and similar to Mar-a-Lago, offers access — such as Trump crashing parties – as part of the marketing plan. Since taking office, Trump has been at
one of his properties every 3.5 days, and at one of his golf courses every 6.2 days. On Sunday, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow, said
Trump is considering firing Mueller. Trump allies, including Gingrich and Conway,
attacked Mueller, claiming he was biased for Comey, and that members of his staff have donated to Democrats of liberal causes. Gingrich also accused
Mueller of being part of the “deep state” plot to undermine Trump. Bharara told
ABC Sunday that Trump called him three times. Bharara was fired the day after he did not return the third call. Bharara noted Obama did not call him once while he served. Bharara also described his contact as “a little bit uncomfortable, and said reading about Trump’s contact with Comey “
felt a little bit like deja vu.”
Kasowitz bragged that he was behind the firing of Bharara. According to a ProPublica source, Kasowitz told Trump, “This guy is going to get you.” In response to a
FOIA request, the Secret Service said it has no audio or transcripts of any tapes made in the WH. Trump has still not verified if he lied about the existence of tapes, despite promises to do so soon.
Hundreds of Kremlin critics were arrested amid anti-corruption protests, including opposition leader Navalny who was detained near his home. A Moscow court
sentenced Navalny to 30 days in prison for staging an unsanctioned rally. The WH and State Dept were silent on all of this.
Gianforte was sentenced to a 180-day deferred sentence, and ordered to complete 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management counseling for assaulting reporter Ben Jacobs. The
9th Circuit upheld an injunction blocking part of Trump’s second Muslim Ban. In their ruling, the judges cited Trump’s own tweets. Trump
changed the expiration date of the Muslim Ban in an effort to prevent the Supreme Court from declaring it moot. Monday, in a bizarre display in front of cameras,
Trump’s cabinet members took turns praising him. A journalist noted: “
Putin televises the beginnings of his cabinet meetings.”
Rep Quigley introduced the “COVFEFE Act,” to require the preservation of Trump’s tweets. The original covfefe tweet was deleted. Also of note, Trump has been
actively blocking users on Twitter, despite using his Twitter account for policy and other announcements. Trump’s approval sunk again in a new
AP/NORC poll, with his net favorability falling to -29 (approve 35, disapprove 64). The
AP/NORC poll also found that 7 in 10 Americans are at least moderately concerned that Trump or his campaign associates had inappropriate ties to Russia. A survey of CEOs, business execs, government officials and academics at the Yale CEO summit found that
50% gave Trump a “F” and 21% a “D” for his first 130 days in office.
Bloomberg reported that Russian cyber hack of the US electoral system was far wider than reported — including 39 states in all. The attacks included incursions into voter databases and software system. Further, in Illinois, which became known as “Patient Zero” in the government probe,
Russian hackers gained access to personal information on 15mm people, half of whom were active voters.
Cindy McCain agreed to join the State Dept, after being aggressively courted by Trump. Dana Shell Smith, the
US ambassador to Qatar, resigned. Trump’s EPA head, Pruitt,
skipped much of the G7 environmental summit. The Dept of Energy said it will
close an office that works with other countries to develop clean energy technology. At a Senate Appropriations hearing,
Tillerson said he would not be staffing the State Dept until next year.
Trump’s Commerce Dept removed sexual orientation and gender identification from its anti-discrimination policies.
Trump appointed loyalist Lynne Patton, who planned Eric’s wedding and golf tournaments at Trump courses, to run the office that oversees federal housing programs in New York. She has no housing experience. OGE director Shaub responded to a request from four Senate democrats, saying
Steve Bannon had in fact violated WH ethics rules, noting Bannon’s ethics waiver was retroactive and neither dated nor signed.
USA Today reported that in the last 12 months, 70% of Trump property buyers have been LLCs, compared to 4% two years ago.
China approved nine Trump trademark requests which were previously rejected. Intellectual property lawyers suggested “special treatment.”
AP reported a company that partners with both Trump and Kushner is a finalist for a $1.7bn contract to build the new FBI headquarters. While Ivanka has made attempts to reset her public image,
Guardianreported at her clothing factory in China workers complain of verbal abuse, impossible targets, and poverty pay. During Sen Judiciary Comm testimony,
Rosenstein said he now agrees that Russia interfered in our election. Rosenstein had not taken a position during his confirmation hearings. On Tuesday, reporters at the Capitol were told they were
no longer allowed to interview senators in the hallways, contrary to years of precedent. Karen Tumulty, a reporter for
WAPO, was expelled from the Capitol for doing just that. Following a backlash, later that day
Senate Republicans backed off from their restrictions on the media. DC police said
they will charge 12 of Erdogan’s security guards for assaulting protestors outside the Turkish embassy. In response to a FOIA requests,
a DC judge ordered the DOJ to produce Sessions’ clearance form, on which he was required to disclose contacts with Russians, within one month. The DC judge
also ordered the DOJ and FBI to release any records of Priebus reaching out to the FBI to request they refute reports of communications between the Trump campaign and Russia. Tuesday, Sessions testified in front of the Senate Intel Comm,
but largely refused to answer important questions. He did not mention any further contact with Russian officials, nor confirm the third meeting.
McCain asked Sessions if he had “any contacts with any representative, including any American lobbyist or agent of any Russian company” at the hearing Tuesday. Sessions said, “I don’t believe so.”
Guardian reported that Richard Burt, a lobbyist for Russia who helped craft a foreign policy speech for Trump, said he attended two dinners hosted by Sessions during the 2016 campaign. Burt also
served on the advisory board of Alfa Capital Partners, a private equity fund in which Alfa Bank was an investor. Per Week 21, the FBI is looking in links between Alfa Bank and Trump during the campaign. Sen Kamala Harris was
interrupted by McCain and then Burr during her questioning of Sessions. Harris was also scolded by Burr for not being “courteous” in the hearing last week of Coats, Rogers and Rosenstein. By a 98–2 vote, the Senate passed a new Russian sanctions bill which would impose additional sanctions, and
limit Trump’s ability to lift them.
WIRED reported on Mueller assembling a “dream team” of lawyers, including attorneys who specialize in money laundering and organized crime, and a former prosecutor for the Watergate investigation. On Wednesday, a lone gunman, who had volunteered for Bernie Sanders,
shot at Congressional Republicans who were practicing for a baseball game at a park in Alexandria, VA. Extreme rhetoric was blamed. The next night as the bi-partisan game was being played, the Trump regime
rescinded Obama’s protections for parents of ‘Dreamers,’ and reduced protections for ‘Dreamers.’ In Ossining, NY,
ICE detained a 19 year-old on the day of his prom and weeks before his high school graduation. On Wednesday,
WAPO reported that Mueller is investigating Trump for obstruction of justice.
WAPO also reported that Mueller will interview Coats, Rogers and Ledgett as part of the investigation. In a poignant moment on primetime TV, Lester Holt said on NBC Nightly News, “
NBC News has learned the president of the United States is now under criminal investigation.” Late Thursday,
Rosenstein issued an odd statement prodding the media for “anonymous allegations” on Russia, and saying “Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true” anonymous sources. Pelosi predicted that
Trump will “self-impeach.” On Friday in
a tweet, Trump acknowledged he was under investigation, and described it as a “Witch Hunt.” Trump’s tweet also took a
swipe at Rosenstein, raising questions of whether Trump would fire him. Doing so could make it possible for Trump to put in place a process to fire Mueller. Sen Feinstein said
she is increasingly concerned that Trump will fire Mueller. In a strong statement she noted, “We’re a nation of laws that apply equally to everyone, a lesson the president would be wise to learn.”
AP reported Trump advisors and confidant describe him as increasingly angry over the investigation and yelling at televisions carrying coverage.
NYT reported that Trump’s private attorney, Kasowitz, has advised WH staffers not to hire private lawyers yet.
Kasowitz was hit with ethics complaints in NY and DC over this advice.
WAPO reported that Mueller is investigating Kushner for his finances and business dealings. This is in addition to previously reported investigations of Kushner’s meetings in December with Kislyak and Gorkov.
WAPO also reported that the FBI and federal prosecutors are investigating the financial dealing of Flynn, Manafort and Page.
CNN reported the House Intel Comm is planning to call Brad Parscale, the digital director for Trump’s campaign, in their investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
CNN also reported that Kushner is under federal investigation for his role in overseeing Trump’s data operations, and is expected to talk to Senate investigators about the campaign’s data operation.
Pence hired big-name experienced, top dollar lawyer with Watergate experience to represent him in the Russian probe. Pence’s PAC held a fundraiser in Indianapolis Friday night. When Rachel Maddow’s staff asked whether funds go towards legal costs, t
he response was: “His legal fees will be paid by non-tax dollars.” Trump personal lawyer,
Michael Cohen, hired counsel for the Russian probe. Cohen is under investigation by the special counsel, and will testify in front of the House Intel Comm on September 5. Michael Caputo, a Manafort ally who
served as a senior communications adviser on Trump’s campaign, hired a lawyer. Caputo lived in Moscow, and in 2000 worked to improve Putin’s image in the US.
Manafort and Page also hired counsel for the Russia probe.
CNBC reported that the Trump regime is touting that they created coal jobs which might not actually exist.
Putin offered Comey political asylum in Russia, continuing to publicly insert himself into US politics.
BuzzFeed reported that 14 recent deaths in the UK appear tied to Russia. Frustrating House Republicans,
Trump called their version of AHCA/Trumpcare — which he had celebrated in the Rose Garden — “mean,” and said he hoped the Senate would pass a better version. McConnell has been leading an oddly closed-door effort to pass AHCA in the Senate with no hearings or input. Open frustration was expressed by Democrats, some Republicans, and
major patient advocacy groups. The
OGE released Trump’s most recent financial disclosure Friday. Trump reported $315mm of loans, including $130mm from Deutsche Bank, the bank known for Russian ties which refused Democrats request for info. The 98 pages of financial disclosure showed
a sharp rise in revenue at places Trump frequented including Mar-a-Lago and nearby golf courses. Trump also made
$20mm at the newly opened Trump Hotel DC. Despite early promised to turn over payments from foreign government to the US Treasury, Trump is not tracking all payments. The Attorneys General for
DC and Maryland sued Trump for breaching his constitutional oath by accepting millions in payments and benefits from foreign governments. Nearly
200 Congressional Democrats filed an emoluments lawsuit against Trump saying he has violated constitutional restrictions on taking gifts and benefits from foreign leaders. A Russian oil tycoon
parked his giant yacht in front of the Statue of Liberty. The yacht was a gift from a Roman Abramovich, who in Week 20 was skiing in Aspen at the same time as Kushner and Ivanka. In an early sign of cracks from unfilled key roles in the executive branch, after the USS Fitzgerald collision,
Trump was criticized for leaving the positions of US navy secretary and ambassador to Japan unfilled.
Artist’s March in Wynwood Art District. Miami, FL. Photo: Alessandro Abate
Syrian Artist Abdalla Al Omari depicting trump as a REFUGEE.
Artist Christophe Verdon in Paris, France. Photo: Frederic Steimer
Pure beauty is beginning and not end
Begin with the sun and drop from sun to cloud… – Robert Francis
16jun17. Cocoa Beach, FL.
Week 30 of donald trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
June 10, 2017
This week all eyes were on the Comey testimony, which opened the door for what could be obstruction of justice, an impeachable offense. Despite Republicans controlling the House, Senate and White House, legislative progress has largely come to a halt amid weekly and sometimes daily bombshells, as all eyes turn to the Trump-Russia scandal. Also of note is the complete disarray of the Trump regime, and the difficulty Trump is having hiring staff and even finding legal representation.
In the aftermath of terrorists attacks in London Saturday night,
Trump attacked the Mayor tweeting, “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is “no reason to be alarmed!” The US ambassador to the
UK contradicted Trump, tweeting from the embassy account we “Commend the strong leadership” of the Mayor. Trump used the attack as an opportunity
to promote his Muslim Ban, “I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” Ironically, the Trump regime spent months denying it was a “ban.” Trump also criticized Sessions, tweeting the
DOJ should have stayed with the first Muslim ban, “not the watered down, politically correct version.” Experts said Trump’s tweets would
likely hurt the chances on appeal at the Supreme Court.
NYT reported that Trump is fuming at Sessions, especially over his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Mattis tried to reassure allies at a conference in Singapore, asking them to “
bear with us” after Trump’s disastrous foreign trip.
POLITICO reported that Trump’s national security team was blind-sighted when he left out the planned language reaffirming US commitment to Article 5 from his NATO summit speech in Brussels. A
noose was found at a construction site in DC, marking the third noose found in the DC area this week. The
Ku Klux Klan applied to hold a rally in Charlottesville on July 8th.
Reuters reported that the Trump regime is seeking to reopen hundreds of cases of illegal immigrants who were granted a reprieve under Obama.
Buzzfeed reviewed more than 50 reports of school bullying, and found that kids nationwide are using Trump’s words to taunt their classmates. Kim Weaver
dropped her run for Congress against Trump ally, Steve King, after receiving multiple death threats.
POLITICO reported that Tillerson has made himself largely inaccessible to staff and outsiders, funneling all inquiries through two staffers. The Mayor of Los Angeles said
ICE’s aggressive raids could cause high tensions in his city to boil over: “I fear a tinderbox out there.” Canadian searches for flights to US cities have
dropped by 43% since Trump’s first proposed Muslim Ban. Ivanka continued her efforts to reset her image,
appearing on the cover of with a headline, “Why I Disagree with My Dad.” US Weekly Questions arose of
whether it is constitutional for Trump to block users, given he Twitter communicate about domestic and foreign policy.
Trump filed a 6 month extension for filing his 2016 taxes. His rationale for the extension is unknown.
WSJ reported Saudi Arabia’s lobbyists and consultants spent $270k at the Trump Hotel DC as part of an effort to lobby Trump against a bi-partisan Act that lets Americans sue foreign countries over terrorist attacks. The DOJ argued
Trump can accept payments from foreign governments, saying the emoluments clause doesn’t apply to “fair-market commercial transactions” like payments for hotel rooms and golf club fees. As questions remain on why Kushner met with VEB’s Gorkov,
Bloombergreported that Kushner is seeking a $250mm loan to pay back Chinese investors for a New Jersey luxury tower. US banks are wary to lend.
WNYC reported the Kushner family is set to lose $6.5mm in annual tax credits for a property in Jersey City. The
acting US ambassador to China resigned over Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord. The
head of the US Patent Office resigned.
85% of the top science jobs in Trump’s executive branch remain unfilled and do not have a nominee.
The chief executive of Newseum warned that Trump’s denigration of the media would lead to the “delegitimization of journalists,” and encourage authoritarians to target reporters and newspapers around the world. Rep Gianforte agreed to
pay $50k to the Committee to Project Journalists in a civil settlement for assaulting journalist Ben Jacobs.
Mueller brought in several, well-known attorneys with relevant experience to join his special counsel Russia probe, including Michael Dreeben, the DOJ’s top criminal law expert.
Yahoo reported four top law firmed turned down requests to represent Trump citing his unwillingness to listen to advice, potential harm to recruiting and client relationships, and his history of not paying bills.
Forbes reported that at a charity golf tournament run by Eric Trump for St. Jude Children’s Research, $1.2 million of expenses paid to the Trump Organization had no documented receipts. Additionally,
$500k was re-donated to other charities (4 of whom subsequently held tournaments at Trump golf courses), and $100k was funneled though the Eric Trump Foundation to the Trump Organization. The
NY Attorney General’s office said it will look into these payouts by Eric Trump’s Foundation.
Flynn turned over more than 600 pages of documents to the Senate Intel Comm. Most are business records, but also some personal documents.
The Intercept published a leaked top-secret NSA document which detailed the efforts of Russian hackers to target a voting-software supplier and more than 100 local election officials just prior to Election Day. The
FBI arrested the leaker: 25 year-old Reality Winner, a federal contractor in Augusta, Georgia. The FBI was able to track the leak to Winner after . The Intercept provided a copy to the NSA for comment Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intel Comm said Russian attacks on our election were
broader and targeted more states than reported in The Intercept. Sen Klobuchar asked that the
Senate Rules Comm get a classified briefing on the Russian vote hacking attempts.
Deutsche Bank ignored the House Democrats’ request for information on Trump’s accounts and possible ties to Russia.
Thursday, Deutsche Bank blamed privacy laws for preventing the bank from disclosing the information requested. At a Senate Intel Comm hearing Wednesday,
Coats, Rogers and Rosenstein largely refused to answer senators’ questions. One conservative journalist called it contempt of Congress. A
pro-Trump PAC ran ads attacking Comey as a “showboat” and a failure on the day of his testimony.
WAPO reported Coats told associates Trump asked him to intervene to get Comey to back off the FBI’s investigation of Flynn in its Russia probe. Sources said the ask was made at the end of a briefing at the WH, when
Trump asked everyone to leave the room, except Coats and Pompeo. NYT reported the day after Trump asked Comey to end the investigation of Trump,
Comey told Sessions not to leave him alone with Trump. ABC reported that
Trump lashed out repeatedly at Sessions in private meetings about recusing himself from Russia, and that Sessions in turn suggested he could resign. After allegations Nunes was behind the House Intel subpoenas on “unmasking,”
Nunes refused to confirm if he had stepped aside in the Russia probe. VOX reported that Comey had spoken to
three senior FBI officials (Rybicki, Baker, McCabe), who could vouch for his story that Trump asked him to shut down the Flynn investigation. Trump’s approval hit a
new low in a Quinnipiac poll: approve 34%, disapprove 57%. Of note, Trump is almost underwater with white men! A
senior State Dept official will travel to Russia to help solve the “irritants” in our relationship. Putin
threatened Sweden with a military response to “eliminate the threat” if the country joins NATO. Former DNI
Clapper said “Watergate pales” compared to what the US is confronting now. Ahead of his testimony Thursday, on Wednesday the Sen Intel Comm released
seven pages of Comey’s testimony.
Highlights include: unusually frequent contacts with Trump, Trump requested a loyalty pledge, Comey documented all contact, Trump focused on Russian hooker report, and Trump asked him to let Flynn off. Trump’s pick for FBI director,
Wray, works for a law firm that counts among it’s clients Russian-state oil companies Rosneft and Gazprom Comey testified in an open session Thursday. Major networks covered the testimony as over 19 million watched. Many in DC
caught “Comey fever” and played hooky to watch at restaurants and pubs.
Among the highlights: Comey said Trump lied about him and the FBI; that Sessions had no choice but to recuse himself; and that he was fired because of the Russia investigation. Comey said he took notes starting directly after the first meeting on January 6 because
he was concerned Trump “might lie.” Comey did not feel the need to take notes with Obama or W Bush. On Trump’s threat of having taped his conversations, Comey said, “
Lordy, I hope there are tapes.” This spurred another round of demands by Democrats for Trump to produce the tapes, or admit he lied. Comey said
Sessions seemed uncomfortable when Trump asked him to leave the room, “My sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn’t be leaving.” Comey said the same of Kushner. Comey
said he leaked a memo about his meeting with Trump through a friend at Columbia to the in hopes of getting a special counsel appointed. NYT Comey testified he has given his memos to Mueller, and
suggested the special counsel is investigating Trump for obstruction of justice. Comey said there was no doubt that Russia interfered in our election, saying, “
they’re coming after America” and “ they will be back.” He also noted this is an attack on our democracy, not a particular political party. Trump’s lawyer, Kasowitz responded, included a written statement where he
misspelled President. He also got the timeline of the Comey memo wrong, and falsely accused Comey of leaking classified information. After the Comey testimony, Republicans mostly shied away from the camera this week, while
Speaker Ryan offered a tepid defense for Trump’s actions: “he’s just new to this.” Numerous Trump surrogates spent the days surrounding Comey’s testimony by trying to
smear him as a liar and attention seeker. NBC reported that during the Senate Intel Comm’s closed hearing, senators learned about a
third, undisclosed meeting between Sessions and Russia. This confirms an item in Week 29, which the DOJ denied.
PM May suffered a major setback in the UK elections, as her Conservative Party lost the majority. Her party’s loss also could spell trouble for Brexit.
Senate Intel Comm staff will interview Kushner next week. NBC reported that Congress wants to ask Kushner if he was seeking funding for his NYC tower. Pelosi told
MSNBC that she is looking into why Trump picked Saudi Arabia as his first country to visit. Past presidents, going back to Reagan had visited close allies Canada or Mexico first. Pelosi also said she is looking into why while at the visit in Saudi Arabia,
Trump had cleared the room. Trump and Tillerson had
an embarrassing difference in foreign policy on Qatar as Tillerson said there should “be no further escalation by parties in the region,” and Trump sided with Saudi Arabia and others, slamming Qatar as a sponsor of terrorism. Trump’s attorney said he would
file a complaint against Comey for leaking his memo to his friend at Columbia. According to a letter from the US Office of Special Counsel, Trump’s social media director
Scavino violated the Hatch Act in April when he tweeted a call to oust a member of the House. He was issued a warning. In a Friday speech with the president of Romania in the Rose Garden, Trump
switched course again and said he would support Article 5 of the NATO pact. Trump also
called Comey a liar and a “leaker,” and that Comey’s testimony showed there was “no collusion, no obstruction.” Trump also said he would be willing to
tell his side of story under oath, “100 percent,” but still would not confirm if the “tapes” really exist. Top Democratic donor
Tom Steyer called for impeachment hearings over obstruction of justice.
Artist NYChopper: work in progress at Welling Court in Queens, NY. 10june 2017. Photo: Nicole Gordon
Artist NYChopper: work in progress at Welling Court in Queens, NY. 10june 2017. Photo: Nicole Gordon
Artist SubDude London in East London, UK.
SubDude London. June 2017. London, England, UK.
SubDude London. June 2017. London, England, UK.