POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 41: EVIL MONKEY

Week 40 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

August 19, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-40-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-eb3a830375a9

This week’s list is not the longest, but it is certainly the most heartbreaking. Trump’s comments on Charlottesville legitimized the worst of us, and spawned a watershed moment for our country. His remarks were met with widespread condemnation and reactions, and precipitated a mass exodus of corporate CEOs, wiping away any lingering doubts that Trump’s goals were ever truly linked to job creation. For the first time, real questions about fitness for office were raised out loud by both sides.

This week in Trump’s shrinking, chaotic regime it became even clearer that Trump answers to no one but himself. He continues to attack and attempt to intimidate Republicans into submission, as part of his continuing efforts to consolidate power.

  1. In an impromptu news conference on Charlottesville late Saturday afternoon, Trump said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.
  2. White supremacists and neo-Nazi leaders cheered Trump’s “on many sides” comments, taking his words as a defense, or even as a tacit approval, of their action.
  3. On Sunday, the WH issued a statement to “clarify” Trump’s Saturday comments, saying Trump condemns all forms of “violence, bigotry and hatred” while naming white supremacists, KKK, and neo-Nazis.
  4. 32 year-old Heather Heyer was killed Saturday after a car driven by James Fields rammed into a crowd of counter-protestors in Charlottesville. Nineteen others were injured.
  5. Daily Caller and Fox News deleted a post titled, “Here’s A Reel Of Cars Plowing Through Protesters Trying To Block The Road,” which included a video encouraging people to drive through protests.
  6. Two state troopers, Lieutenant Cullen and Trooper Bates, who were keeping watch on the demonstrations in Charlottesville, were killed when their helicopter went down.
  7. On Sunday, a candlelight vigil planned for Heather Heyer in Charlottesville was cancelled due to a “credible threat from white supremacists.
  8. Neo-Nazis disparaged Heyer, and the KKK celebrated her death. Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer was taken down after activists, led by my Sunday tweet, contacted domain hosts Go Daddy, Google, etc.
  9. After US hosting companies refused to host The Daily Stormer, the website briefly relocated to Russia, for which they thanked Trump, before being kicked off there too. China rebuffed them too.
  10. In the wake of Charlottesville, numerous tech companies including Facebook, Google, Spotify, Uber, Squarespace and many others took action to curb use of their services and platforms by alt-right groups.
  11. A Unite the Right organizer was disavowed by his family. Several marchers who were identified on social media lost their jobs. Others were asked to denounce their activities or were expelled by colleges.
  12. On Sunday, Trump’s popularity hit a new low at Gallup with 34% approving and 61% disapproving (-27).
  13. On Monday, Sessions said the car ramming into Heather Heyer and 19 others “does meet the definition of domestic terrorism” under US law.
  14. On Monday morning, Merck’s CEO resigned from Trump’s American Manufacturing Council saying as a “matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”
  15. Later Monday, Trump tweeted @Merck is a leader in “higher & higher drug prices,” and “taking jobs out of the U.S.
  16. Later Monday and Tuesday, four more CEOs resigned from Trump’s American Manufacturing Council over his handling of Charlottesville.
  17. Trump countered, “I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on.” Trump offered no new names publicly.
  18. On Wednesday, NYT reported the CEOs on Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum held a morning conference call to discuss whether to disband the policy forum. The Manufacturing Council planned a call that afternoon.
  19. Before the policy forum, and possible manufacturing council could formally disband, midday Wednesday Trump tweeted “rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople,” he was ending both.
  20. On Thursday, the WH announced the Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure, which was still being formed, would not move forward.
  21. On Monday, Trump said he is “seriously considering” a pardon for ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio, saying, “He’s a great American patriot.”
  22. In the aftermath of Charlottesville, the Phoenix mayor called on Trump to delay his planned rally next week, saying Trump’s plan to pardon Arpaio could “enflame emotions and further divide our nation.”
  23. Minutes after the Phoenix mayor’s statement, Trump tweeted a link for tickets to his Phoenix event.
  24. Advocates said there has been a spike in reports of anti-LGBTQ violence since Trump took office. As of August, there are already more hate-related homicides than in all of 2016, excluding Pulse.
  25. A Virginia high school sent a letter to parents saying selection for AP and Honors classes would at least partly based on race.
  26. On Monday, the Holocaust memorial in Boston was vandalized for the second time this summer.
  27. On Monday, reading from a teleprompter, Trump gave his third version of comments on Charlottesville, calling the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists “repugnant” and saying, “racism is evil.”
  28. On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted then deleted an image of a train running over a CNN reporter.
  29. On Tuesday at Trump Tower, with Mnuchin, Chao and Cohn by this side, Trump turned what was supposed to be remarks about his infrastructure plan into an “off-the-rails” news conference on Charlottesville.
  30. Reversing himself for the fourth time in four days, Trump said “I think there’s blame on both sides” — insinuating that the “alt-left” was just as much to blame as white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
  31. Trump claimed not all the white supremacists and neo-Nazis were bad people, “you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”
  32. When asked about Bannon, Trump said “He’s a good man. He’s not a racist,” and that the press treats him, “frankly, very unfairly.”
  33. Trump claimed alt-right protestors had a permit, but counter-protesters “came charging in without a permit” and “were very, very violent.” WAPOgave the claim that counter-protestors had no permit 4 Pinocchios.
  34. Trump equated taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville to taking down statues of Washington (“George Washington was a slave owner”) and Jefferson (“Because he was a major slave owner”).
  35. Trump’s staff, expecting brief remarks on infrastructure, were stunned by his action. One senior WH official told NBC, Trump “went rogue.”
  36. POLITICO reported Trump was “in good spirits” Tuesday night, and felt the “new conference went much better” than his Monday speech.
  37. Alt-right leaders praised Trump’s Tuesday comments. Richard Spencer said he was “really proud of him,” and David Duke tweeted, “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth.”
  38. Axios reported within the Trump WH, Bannon unapologetically supported Trump’s instinct to blame “both sides,” and that he and Trump “instinctively searched for “their” people in that group of protesters.”
  39. Mnuchin’s Yale classmates wrote an open letter calling on him to resign immediately, saying Trump “declared himself a sympathizer with groups” whose values are antithetical to Yale and decent human beings.
  40. In a Republican primary in Alabama Tuesday, Trump’s chosen candidate Luther Strange, who he very publicly supported, came in second.
  41. On Wednesday, Pence cut his international trip to Central and South America short to come home. The stated reason was to join a national security meeting on Friday, although rumors flew with other theories.
  42. On Wednesday, Fox News’ Shep Smith said his show “reached out to Republicans of all stripes across the country today” and couldn’t find a single one willing to come on and discuss Trump’s Tuesday comments.
  43. In a letter, fmr CIA director Brennan told CNN’s Blitzer Trump’s comments on Charlottesville were “despicable,” and that Trump “is putting our national security and our collective futures at grave risk.
  44. On Wednesday, the Generals of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard tweeted to condemn the racist violence in Charlottesville, declaring the nation’s armed forces unequivocally against hatred.
  45. Sen Corker, one of Trump’s first senate supporters who was also under consideration for VP, said Trump “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence” to be a successful leader.
  46. European leaders, including Merkel and May, denounced Trump’s comments on Charlottesville. Martin Schulz of German said Trump “is betraying our Western value.”
  47. Rep Steve Cohen of TN, a ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, introduced articles of impeachment in response to Trump’s comments on Charlottesville.
  48. On Wednesday, Sessions told NBC News that the Charlottesville car attack may be considered a “hate crime.
  49. USA Today Editorial Board called on Congress to censure Trump for his “shocking equivocations about the white-supremacist,” challenging Republicans to “stand up for American values” or be Trump enablers.
  50. On Thursday, the Cleveland Clinic pulled their 2018 Florida gala from Mar-a-Lago. Cleveland Clinic had held their event there for eight years.
  51. By Friday evening, 16 charities had pulled their events from Mar-a-Lago, costing the Trump Organization hundreds of thousands, or possibly millions in lost revenues.
  52. Citing violence at Charlottesville, Texas A&M and the University of Florida cancelled scheduled speaking appearances by white supremacist Richard Spencer, both citing safety concerns.
  53. On Thursday, Michigan State University denied a request by Spencer to rent space on the campus for a September event.
  54. Students and graduates of Lehigh University students petitioned trustees to revoke Trump’s honorary degree, citing Trump’s “both sides” remarks.
  55. Thousands gathered at UVA on Wednesday night for an unannounced candlelight vigil. They chanted “love wins,” and sang “We Shall Overcome” and “Amazing Grace.”
  56. At a funeral for Heather Heyer mother, Susan Bro said, “They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her.” Bro told NBC Thursday she has received death threats from hate groups.
  57. Bro said she will not meet with Trump after he blamed “both sides” for violence in Charlottesville. She also has not picked up his phone calls.
  58. Trump continued to tweet about Confederate statues after his news conference, “can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson — who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!”
  59. The great-great grandchildren of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson called for Confederate statues to be removed. They also condemned the white supremacist and violence in Charlottesville.
  60. They also suggested statues be moved to museums. Bertram Hayes-Davis, great-great-grandson of Jefferson Davis suggested, “In a public place, if it is offensive and people are taking issue with it, let’s move it.”
  61. In the days following the Charlottesville alt-right rally, 13 US cities and Duke University said they would remove Confederate monuments. Several other cities are considering same.
  62. After a terrorist attack in Spain, Trump tweeted about what General Pershing did when terrorist were caught: “There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” Politifact rated Trump’s claim, Pants on Fire.
  63. Trump continued to do battle with Republicans, targeting Flake who he called “toxic” and “WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate,” and Graham who he said “can’t forget his election trouncing.”
  64. Countering Trump, McConnell offered his “full support” for Flake.
  65. James Murdoch donated $1mm to the Anti-Defamation League in the wake of Charlottesville. As many of social media noted, Fox News played a major role in stoking the hate of far-right extremists.
  66. According to government documents published by one of Murdoch’s newspapers Tuesday, Australian authorities denied a bid by Trump to build a casino in 1988 due to his ties to the mafia and organized crime.
  67. HuffPost reported on Trump aide Katharine Gorka’s role in helping to pull DHS funding for Life After Hate, a group dedicated to countering neo-Nazis and white supremacists, as noted in Week 33. Of note: also in Week 33, the State Dept’s anti-Semitism monitoring office was shuttered.
  68. In an interview Thursday, former VP Gore said if he could give Trump one piece of advice, it would be to resign.
  69. On Friday, the 17 remaining members of Trump’s presidential arts and humanities panel resigned Friday in protest over his Charlottesville comments.
  70. Trump’s WH responded late Friday, saying Trump was going to disband the arts and humanities panel anyway.
  71. Trump and Melania said they will not attend this year’s Kennedy Center Honors in December. According to Huckabee Sanders, the decision is meant to allow “honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”
  72. The decision was made after numerous honorees announced their intentions to skip or protest if Trump attended. After Trump’s cancelation, event organizers said, “We are grateful for this gesture.”
  73. NBC called this week Trump’s “worst week yet,” and said he was more isolated than ever.
  74. Hope Hicks took over as the interim WH communications director, as Trump continued his search to replace Scaramucci. Hicks is the fourth person in that role.
  75. Trump’s personal lawyer John Dowd forwarded an email with secessionist Civil War propaganda. The email also stated the group Black Lives Matter “has been totally infiltrated by terrorist groups.”
  76. Trump’s DOJ issued a warrant to DreamHost demanding the company turn over all IP addresses related to DisruptJ20.org, a website used in planning actions to interrupt Trump’s inauguration.
  77. A week after the inauguration, the DOJ had asked for information such as people’s physical and email addresses and DreamHost had complied. DreamHost’s lawyers called the latest request a “complete overreach.
  78. NYT reported Mueller, for the first time, is seeking to interview past and current members of Trump’s WH beyond Manafort, including members of the communications team.
  79. Mueller is interested in interviewing Priebus about what occurred during the campaign and in the WH, especially as it relates to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting and the Comey firing.
  80. During a press conference on his visit to Columbia, Pence told reporters he “never witnessed” any evidence of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, and that he was “not aware” of it ever having occurred.
  81. WAPO reported Trump aid George Papadopoulos, starting in March 2016 with an email headed, “Meeting with Russian Leadership — Including Putin,” repeatedly tried to get Trump aides to meet with Russians.
  82. Experts on Russian intelligence speculated his email chain offers further evidence that Russians were looking for entry points into the Trump campaign. Papalopoulos said he was acting as a Russian intermediary.
  83. NYT reported on an investigation by Ukrainian investigators and the FBI of a Ukrainian malware expert named “Profexer,” for his part in a network of hackers allegedly engaged by Russia to hack the US election.
  84. Also under investigation is a Russian government hacking group, Advanced Persistent Threat 28 or Fancy Bear, believed to be involved in the DNC hacking. Much of the work was outsourced to private vendors.
  85. In the first know hitch, Mueller’s special counsel lost a top FBI investigator, Peter Strzok. It is unclear why Strzok stepped away.
  86. A US District court judge ruled that as part of a libel suit brought by Webzilla CEO Aleksej Gubarev against Buzzfeed, Steele could be questioned about the funding and sourcing of the dossier.
  87. Rep Rohrabacher, an advocate for the Kremlin, said he plans to brief Trump on his meeting with Assange. Assange told Rohrabacher that he was not behind the DNC hack, and that the Russians were not involved.
  88. Assange is trying to strike a deal so he can stop living in asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. In Week 23, Sessions said the DOJ was preparing charges against Assange whose “arrest is a priority.”
  89. The National Parks Service reversed a ban on plastic water bottles at national parks. The move came after confirmation of Trump’s Deputy Interior Secretary, who previously represented Deer Park Water.
  90. In a tweet, the Trump Organization featured a photo with the caption, “From our Presidential ballroom to intimate historic room,” to advertise meeting and event space.
  91. Raising ethical concerns, Justice Gorsuch is scheduled to address conservative groups at Trump Hotel DC in September, less than two weeks before the court will hear arguments on Trump’s Muslim Ban.
  92. Mattis’ DoD parted ways with senior media adviser, Steve Warren. Pentagon reporters have complained about lack of access to Mattis, and some recently being kicked off Mattis’s Middle East trip last minute.
  93. On Friday, Trump friend and ally Carl Icahn resigned as a special adviser to Trump, although Icahn had done nothing in that role. The WH said Icahn had been fired on Monday.
  94. Icahn resigned hours before The New Yorker published a piece on his conflicts of interest (see Week 20). The head of a watchdog group said, “This kind of self-enrichment and influence” was “unprecedented.”
  95. Trump tweeted photos from Camp David of him signing the Global War on Terrorism War Memorial Act. Of the 14 people at the signing, there was only one woman and not a single person of color.
  96. In an interview with The American Prospect on Wednesday, a venting Bannon referred to white supremacists as “clowns” and “losers.
  97. Contradicting Trump, Bannon said on N. Korea, “there’s no military solution here, they got us,” and added, “it’s just a sideshow.”
  98. In new interviews, Bannon said he viewed the post-Charlotte racial strife and turmoil as a political winner for Trump.
  99. On Friday, Trump fired Bannon. According to Bannon allies, he submitted his intention to leave the WH on August 7.
  100. Axios reported Bannon met with the billionaire Mercer family for five hours Friday in New York and “together they will be a well-funded force on the outside.”
  101. Bannon told Bloomberg that he would be returning to run Breitbart, and that he would be “going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America.”
  102. Bannon told the Weekly Standard, “The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” saying Trump will not achieve his campaign promises. Bannon vowed to continue the fight from the outside.
  103. In an op-ed titled, “I Voted for Trump, And I Sorely Regret It,” past avid supporter Julius Krein wrote of his disillusionment with Trump, and the realization that Trump would not achieve his stated goals.
  104. Right-wing radio host Limbaugh backed white nationalists and told his 26 million listeners that America is on the “cusp of a second civil war,” blaming international financiers who are trying to bring down America.
  105. On Saturday, Boston hosted a Free Speech Rally organized by conservatives and libertarians at Boston Commons. Friday, Mayor Walsh said 500 police officers would be there, and urged people to stay away.
  106. Thousands of counter-protestors marched through downtown Boston to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Police estimated 15k peacefully marched.

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 40: SHIP OF FOOLS

Week 39 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

August 12, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-39-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-1b911b954f30

Despite Congress being out of session and Trump on vacation, this was one of the most alarming weeks so far. Without provocation, Trump made aggressive statements towards three countries, and escalated the possibility of nuclear war with N. Korea. The country continued to burn in hate as violence surrounding a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville led to a state of emergency in Virginia.

Other troubling trends continued this week including: an increase of media controlled by Trump and his allies, an unstaffed and unprepared executive branch, and steps taken to suppress the vote in future elections. Even with his new chief of staff, it is apparent Trump is consolidating power and answering to no one. He is also stepping up his attacks on the legislative branch.

  1. On Sunday, reminiscent of state-owned propaganda, Trump launched the first broadcast of “real” Trump TV featuring Kayleigh McEnany, formerly a commentator on CNN.
  2. On Monday, the RNC named McEnany to be its national spokesperson, meaning she will get paid by the RNC for her Trump TV work.
  3. Lara Trump will run Trump TV as part of her job with consulting group Giles-Parscale. Per Week 31, Parscale has been called by Congressional investigators to testify on his role in the Trump campaign and Russia.
  4. Trump’s FCC chair, Ajit Pai, revived a regulatory loophole allowing Sinclair Broadcasting to vastly exceed federal limits on media ownership. When a pending deal closes, Sinclair will reach 72% of US households.
  5. VOX analyzed 17 months of Fox & Friends transcripts and found a symbiotic relationship between Trump and the show. Since the election, data reveals the show’s primary goal is talk to Trump, not their audience.
  6. On Fox News Sunday, Rosenstein said he has not been directed by Trump to investigate Hillary’s email, as suggested by Trump. Rosenstein added, “That wouldn’t be right. That’s not the way we operate.”
  7. Rosenstein also dismissed that the Russia probe is a “total fabrication” — the reference by Trump. He also said Mueller can investigate any crimes he discovers within the scope of his probe.
  8. Conway suggested WH staffers may be required to take lie-detector testsas part of the regime’s efforts to find leakers.
  9. WAPO Editorial Board wrote Trump’s DOJ is joining the GOP’s crusade to suppress voting, citing an Ohio case of culling voters before the SCOTUS. The Obama administration found this unlawful, Trump’s does not.
  10. Indiana NCAAP and Priorities USA are suing the state over a law which results in closing voting precincts in black and Latino areas.
  11. A WAPO survey found 52% of Republicans believe Trump won the popular vote, and would support postponing the 2020 election to make sure that only eligible American citizens could vote if Trump proposed it.
  12. AP reported Ivy League schools are bracing for scrutiny from the Trump regime for their efforts to make their campuses diverse.
  13. A bomb was tossed through the window of a Mosque in Bloomington, MN. Minnesota’s governor declared the bombing “an act of terrorism.”
  14. Trump did not acknowledge the bombing. Tuesday, Gorka said the WH would “wait and see” in case the blast turned out to be a hoax. By week end, Trump still had no comment.
  15. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted out a Fox News story about a vehicle ramming into soldiers in France, which the news agency insinuated, without having evidence yet, was carried out by Islamic terrorists.
  16. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund will appeal a federal judge’s ruling allowing a white Alabama town to secede from a racially-mixed county school district and start its own system.
  17. CNN fired conservative pundit Jeffrey Lord after he tweeted the Nazi salute, “Sieg Heil!” at a prominent liberal activist.
  18. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found Trump’s moves to undermine Obamacare have already triggered double-digit premium increases on individual health insurance policies in many states.
  19. NYT reported government scientists are concerned that a report by scientists in 13 federal agencies, which finds a drastic impact of climate change in the US, will be suppressed by Trump.
  20. In a series of emails obtained by The Guardian, the Trump regime advised staff at the USDA not to use certain terms like “climate change”and “climate change adaption.”
  21. Karina Brown, an Asian American woman who attended a Bon Jovi concert in Columbus, OH was told by a fellow concert-goer, “You don’t belong in this country.
  22. Five transgender troops sued Trump over his tweet to instate a transgender military ban.
  23. The Canadian military is building a refugee camp in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle near Plattsburgh, NY to house up to 500 US asylum seekers. This is in addition to a shelter at Montreal Olympic Stadium in Week 38.
  24. CNN reported Sam Clovis, Trump’s nominee to be chief scientist at the USDA, had on his conservative radio show stoked the birther conspiracy, called Eric Holder a “a racist black,” and Tom Perez “a racist Latino.”
  25. More than 75 consumer, health and advocacy groups came together to stop the Trump regime from stripping nursing home residents and their families of rights to take facilities to court over alleged abuse or neglect.
  26. As the Trump Organization tweeted about the launch of The Trump Estates and golf in Dubai, concerns continued to surface about ways US foreign policy has been impacted by the Trump family’s investments.
  27. WAPO reported on how Trump hotel DC has become a center of influence, where members of industry and others seeking access meet with Trump regime members. And Trump financially benefits.
  28. Trump Hotel DC turned a $2mm profit for the first four months of 2017, far exceeding the Trump Organization’s projected loss of $2.1mm. Driving profits were sky-high room prices and spending on food and beverages.
  29. WSJ reported rooms at Trump Hotel DC’s average daily room rate was $660 compared with $496 for comparable hotels. The room rates are 60% higher than the hotel’s original budget.
  30. The 18 Democrats on the House Oversight Comm sent letters to 15 cabinet departments and nine executive branch agencies requesting information on their spending at Trump Organization businesses.
  31. POLITICO reported Trump’s slow pace in filling vacancies at FERC has caused $13bn of infrastructure projects, expected to create 23k new jobs, to be indefinitely delayed.
  32. NYT and ProPublica continued to track Trump appointees put in charge of dismantling government regulations. 85 appointees have been identified, many with industry or legal ties, or other conflicts of interest.
  33. A US District Court judge in NY will hear arguments in the Trump foreign emoluments lawsuit starting on October 18.
  34. According to a letter to the Senate, the OGE has rejected retroactive waivers for the Trump regime.
  35. Trump ally Robert Mercer donated $300k to Flake’s Republican primary challenger after Flake spoke out against Trump. Among other benefits, the Mercers’ hedge fund has avoided $6.8bn of back taxes under Trump.
  36. AP reported Trump companies applied to a casino trademark in Macau, the world’s largest gambling market. Past applications by Trump had been rejected. Trump had pledged no new foreign deals while in office.
  37. Two top aides for UN ambassador Haley — her chief of staff and communications director — resigned. Haley said on Twitter it was because of “family concerns.”
  38. Four top cybersecurity officials resigned from their posts, including the chief information security officer for the EPA and the CIO for the DHS, both of whom had been in their jobs for just a few months.
  39. FORTUNE reported vegetable prices may be going up soon as Trump’s immigration policies have led to a farmworker shortage, and crops are rotting in the fields.
  40. The Toronto Star reported Trump has made 500 false claims in his first 200 days in office.
  41. A CNN poll taken at 200 days found just 24% of Americans trust most of what they hear from the WH.
  42. In another sign of Trump’s waning popularity, Democrat Phil Miller won a special election (+10) in a Iowa district Trump had won by 22 in 2016.
  43. AP reported Pence has been quietly carving out his own political foot-print, noting Republicans privately admit Trump could be the first president since Nixon to leave office or not to seek re-election.
  44. After Sen Blumenthal appeared on CNN to discuss the Russian probe, Trump attacked him on Twitter for 2 days, calling him a “phony Vietnam con artist,” and saying he “should take a nice long vacation in Vietnam.”
  45. Trump tweeted, “Thank you Nicole!” to an account @ProTrump45. The account, under the name Nicole Mincey, was deleted and appears to have been a bot, part of the Russia-backed disinformation campaign.
  46. VICE reported that since taking office, Trump receives a folder full of positive news about himself twice a day. Some in the WH refer to the folder as “the propaganda document.”
  47. Bloomberg reported Manafort and Donald Jr. turned over thousands of documents in August to the Senate Judiciary Comm in the Russia probe.
  48. Bloomberg also reported Fusion GPS, a company linked to the dossier, and its CEO have yet to turn over requested documents. Senate Judiciary Comm chair Grassley wants to know if Russians paid for the dossier.
  49. Page Six reported Trump’s story about a renovation at the 21 Club, which Trump told the generals while berating them about losing in Afghanistan (Week 38), was “completely wrong in every detail.
  50. On Wednesday, WAPO reported the FBI conducted a predawn raid on Manafort’s home in Alexandria, VA, seizing documents and other materials related to Mueller’s Russia probe.
  51. The raid occurred on July 26, the day Manafort was scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Comm and a day after he met with the Senate Intel Comm.
  52. The FBI search warrant was for documents relating to tax, banking and other matters. Sources said the FBI agents left with a “trove of material.”
  53. ABC reported Manafort was awoken in the predawn hours by a group of armed FBI agents knocking on his bedroom door.
  54. On July 26 Trump called for acting FBI director McCabe to be fired. Also, that morning he inexplicably tweeted his transgender military banwithout notifying the DoD or having a strategy in place.
  55. Bloomberg reported Manafort alerted Congressional investigators about the June 9 Trump Tower meeting three months ago.
  56. Trump ally the National Enquirer posted a story, “Trump Advisor Sex Scandal — Paul Manafort’s Sick Affair,” shortly after the WAPO article hit.
  57. POLITICO reported Federal investigators sought cooperation from Jeffrey Yohai, Manafort’s son-in-law, early in the summer, in an effort to increase pressure on Manafort.
  58. On Thursday, Manafort fired WilmerHale and switched to Miller and Chevalier, a boutique firm in Washington that specializes in complicated financial crimes.
  59. A story in The New Yorker noted that with Manafort’s sophistication and links to Russia oligarchs, he was in a good position to “understand what Vladimir Putin wanted from the Trump campaign.
  60. ABC reported Congressional investigators want to question Rhona Graff, Trump’s assistant for 30 years, on the email exchange and meeting at Trump Tower on June 9 with Russians.
  61. The bipartisan Sen Judiciary Comm asked the WH to respond to questions about changes to Kushner’s security clearance forms related to undisclosed meetings with Russians. The deadline to reply was July 6.
  62. On Tuesday afternoon, WAPO reported that analysis by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) concluded N. Korea has passed the key threshold of producing missile-ready nuclear weapons.
  63. Later Tuesday, from his golf course in Bedminster, Trump warned N. Korea against threatening US cities, saying threats “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.
  64. Late Tuesday, in reaction to Trump’s ‘red line’ of N. Korea threatening US cities, Kim Jong-un’s regime said it may strike Guam.
  65. Trump’s “fire and fury” comments broke the Dow’s 10-day winning streak.
  66. Trump’s comments were condemned by Democrats, Republicans and nuclear weapons experts, saying his incendiary rhetoric would make things worse.
  67. The Toronto Star reported on the numerous time Trump has used varieties of the hyperbolic phrase, “like the world has never seen,” to make a point, including while a businessman and running for office.
  68. Wednesday, NYT reported Trump’s “fire and fury” threat to N. Korea was improvised. The sheet of paper in front of him was about the opioid crisis, and he ad-libbed without input from his team on wording.
  69. As the N. Korea crisis unfolds, Trump has yet to appoint an ambassador to S. Korea. As per Week 38, 22 of 24 assistant secretary positions in the State Dept are either unfilled or staffed by Obama holdovers.
  70. Blumenthal told MSNBC the Sen Armed Services Comm has been informed as N. Koreans moved from milestone to milestone, indicating Trump also should have known progress and not been alarmist.
  71. A 30-foot inflatable chicken with Trump-like hair floated next to the WH on Wednesday. The balloon was set up by documentary filmmaker Taran Singh Brar to protest Trump “being a weak and ineffective leader.”
  72. Foreign Policy reported on a 7-page memo written by Rich Higgins about the “deep state” targeting Trump, thought to be behind the recent NSC shake-up, including McMaster firing Higgins.
  73. On Thursday, Trump escalated the rhetoric on N. Korea further, saying his “fire and fury” comment may not have been “tough enough.” Asked how he could of been tougher, Trump replied, “You’ll see. You’ll see.”
  74. Shortly after, flanked by Pence and McMaster in Bedminster, Trump did a 20 minute lie-ridden press conference. A historian described Trump’s bizarre outpouring as “he was a dam that had suddenly burst free.”
  75. Trump called it a “disgrace” that the Senate didn’t pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, placing blame on McConnell and saying he wants him to get back to work and get it done.
  76. Trump also twice tweeted about McConnell’s failure to repeal and replace Obamacare, and retweeted a Fox & Friends story Friday saying Trump was leaving the door open on whether McConnell should step down.
  77. On the other hand, Trump said he was “very thankful” to Putin for expelling hundreds of US diplomats “because now we have a smaller payroll.” This is a false statement: diplomats remain on the payroll.
  78. Reuters reported the State Dept was “horrified and rattled,” by Trump’s remarks on expelling diplomats. The third ranking State member under W. Bush called the remarks, “grotesque.”
  79. Also at the press conference, in contrast to what his regime said days earlier, Trump seemingly impromptu declared the opioids a federal emergency: “I’m saying officially, right now, it is an emergency.”
  80. Also, on the transgender military ban, Trump said “I think I’m doing the military a great favor.” and on the transgender community: “I think I have great support…I got a lot of votes.”
  81. On Kim Jong-un, Trump said, “He got away with it for a long time…He’s not getting away with it. This is a whole new ballgame.” Adding, “And nobody, including N. Korea, is going to be threatening us with anything.”
  82. Also at the press conference, Trump said “I don’t think Iran is in compliance,” on the 2015 deal to curtail nuclear weapons.
  83. Trump also said there was “no collusion between us and Russia. In fact, the opposite. Russia spent a lot of money on fighting me.”
  84. Gordon Humphrey, a former GOP senator, suggested Congress should use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, saying of Trump “He is sick of mind, impetuous, arrogant, belligerent and dangerous.”
  85. Tillerson sought calm on N Korea, saying Wednesday “Americans should sleep well at night.” Gorka told BBC radio, “the idea that Secretary Tillerson is going to discuss military matters is simply nonsensical.
  86. On Friday, Trump escalated tensions further, tweeting the US military is “locked and loaded” should N. Korea “act unwisely.
  87. As tensions rose, US allies and adversaries urged caution. Germany PM Merkel said, “verbal escalation will not contribute to a resolution,” and Russia foreign minister Lavrov said rhetoric was “over the top.”
  88. In a phone call Friday night, China’s President Xi Jinping also urged Trump to exercise restraint according to Chinese state media.
  89. As tensions heightened with N Korea, former Defense Secretary Panetta told CNN “we’re dealing with probably the most serious crisis involving a potential nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis.”
  90. In Hawaii, emergency management officials are working on reinstating alarm sirens to warn of a nuclear attack, last used during the Cold War.
  91. On Friday evening, Trump spoke to reporters with Tillerson, McMaster and Haley by his side. Speculation was this was to assure Americans that diplomacy was also being used with N. Korea.
  92. Instead, Trump escalated the rhetoric yet again, saying Jong-un “will not get away with” what he’s doing, and if he attacks Guam, or American territory or ally, “he will truly regret it and he will regret it fast.”
  93. When asked about Venezuela, Trump said we have many options, “including a possible military option if necessary.
  94. His threat played into Maduro’s hands. Venezuelan officials have long said the US is planning an invasion. Maduro requested a phone call with Trump on Friday, which was rejected.
  95. A DoD spokesperson said Friday evening the US is not planning to invade Venezuela, and “any insinuations by the Maduro regime that we are planning an invasion are baseless.”
  96. Trump called the governor of Guam Friday night to reassure him of US protection. He also joked that Governor Calvo has become “extremely famous,” and offered, “your tourism [is] going to go up like tenfold.
  97. On Friday night, hundreds of white supremacists marched on University of Virginia’s campus carrying torches and chanting “White lives matter,” and “You will not replace us,” and “Jew will not replace us.”
  98. On Saturday morning, white supremacists in Charlottesville to attend the Unite the Right rally carried Confederate flags and flag with the Nazi Swastikas. Militia groups carrying guns also attended.
  99. Violent clashes between white supremacists and protestors broke out. Local police declared a state of emergency.
  100. Later Saturday, the Virginia governor declared a state of emergency in response to the Unite the Right white nationalist rally. White supremacists were ordered to vacate the park before the rally.
  101. Trump addressed Charlottesville hours later, but failed to condemn white supremacists, many of whom were wearing Trump gear, instead tweeting, “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for.”
IMG_7085
From SOLD Magazine: Artist RamiroStudios in New York, August 2017

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 39: INCOMPETENT & UNWORTHY HE IS

Week 38 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

August 5, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-38-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-4730486b719a

This week, as his popularity hit new lows, Trump and his regime’s white nationalist push became more conspicuous and aggressive. Trump continues to irreverently lie — one such false statement on Donald Jr.’s June 9 meeting could directly implicate him in covering up the Russia scandal, which entered a new phase as Mueller impaneled a grand jury in Washington DC.

As a continuation of a theme over the past two weeks, the Republicans are finally pushing back on Trump, as Congress took steps to keep him in check. Trump seems prepared to fight Congress, along with battles he is already waging against the judicial branch and the media.

  1. On a Fox News interview, Conway advised WH staffers not to address Trump by his first name, and to treat him with “deference and humility.”
  2. On his Sunday show, Fareed Zakaria cautioned with Trump in power, the US faces something worse than being feared or derided — the US is “becoming irrelevant.”
  3. On Sunday, Putin ordered the US diplomatic missions in Russia to reduce their staff by 755 personnel, the single largest forced reduction, comparable only to the months after the Communist revolution in 1917.
  4. The Trump regime had no response to Putin’s order on Sunday, or for the entire week.
  5. ProPublica reported Customs and Border Protection is set to jumpstart Trump’s wall in a Texas national wildlife refuge. The agency will use money allotted by Congress for other purposes.
  6. A spokesperson for Pruitt’s EPA told WAPO the agency will make changes to the EPA Museum. For example, the exhibit on Obama’s Clean Power Plan will be removed, and coal may be added.
  7. CBN News reported nearly all of Trump’s cabinet officials attend Bible lessons with a pastor who compares Trump to biblical heroes.
  8. In a statement released Tuesday, 56 retired generals and admirals came out against Trump’s transgender military ban, arguing it would be disruptive and degrade military readiness.
  9. CBC News reported Montreal’s Olympic Stadium is being used to house a surge in asylum seekers crossing from the US. More than 1k crossed from the US into Quebec in July alone.
  10. The NAACP issued its first-ever travel advisory for a state. NAACP cited Missouri legislation making discrimination cases harder to win, recent racist incidents, and racial disparities in traffic enforcement.
  11. Kobach appealed an order requiring him to answer question under oathabout two documents containing plans for changes to US election law.
  12. A top EPA official, Elizabeth Sutherland, resigned after 30 years at the agency. In a scathing letter, she wrote, “The environmental field is suffering from the temporary triumph of myth over truth.”
  13. The Trump regime will redirect resources of the DOJ toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies, which the regime claim discriminate against white applicants.
  14. ProPublica reported Candice Jackson, DeVos’s pick to head the Civil Rights Office, said she faced discrimination for being white while at Stanford because of a help section reserved for minority students.
  15. WAPO reported Lizandro Claros Saravia, a standout soccer player who had a scholarship to play college soccer, was deported to El Salvador along with his brother after going to ICE to report he got into college.
  16. Documents released to the Daily Beast under the FOIA show high-level DHS officials ordered staff to stiff-arm members of Congress and treat lawyers with deep suspicion in the first hours of Trump’s Muslim Ban.
  17. In an ICE press release, the agency admitted in Kelly’s final sweep as DHS head, designed to catch Central Americans who had come to the US as family unit, 70% of those captured were not people being targeted.
  18. Tillerson’s State Dept is considering eliminating the promotion of democracy from its mission statement.
  19. Amateur hackers at the DefCon conference in Las Vegas were able to exploit vulnerabilities in five voting machine types within 24 hours.
  20. POLITICO reported that by firing of Priebus, Trump severed one of his few remaining ties to the Republican Party.
  21. In a bombshell story, WAPO reported Trump dictated Donald Jr.’s misleading statement claiming Russian adoption was the rationale for the June 9 meeting, while flying back from the G20.
  22. While at the G20, the NYT asked for comment on their pending story. Ivanka, Trump and Kushner met on the sidelines with advisers, who recommended telling the truth. Trump disregarded all advice.
  23. WAPO further reported Kushner’s lawyers first learned about the June 9 email trail while researching their response to Congressional investigators weeks prior. Advisers and lawyers for Trump, Donald Jr. and Kushner had mapped out a strategy for disclosing the information.
  24. WAPO further reported that with this misleading statement, Trump is now directly implicated in trying to cover up Russia scandal.
  25. The day after reports that Trump crafted Donald Jr.’s statement, CBS reported Congressional investigators requested Donald Jr.’s phone records around the time of the June 9 meeting.
  26. Trump ally former Sheriff Joe Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt of court for defying a court order to stop detaining suspected undocumented immigrants.
  27. Phoenix New Times reported Arpaio was a no-show for his pre-sentencing hearing on Thursday.
  28. Ahead of his first cabinet meeting with Kelly as chief of staff, Trump referred to the Cabinet Room as a “board room.
  29. Sec of Interior Zinke told GQ in an interview that Rick Perry was didn’t understand what his position is about, “I think he thought his department was more about energy than…science. Mostly, it’s science.”
  30. WAPO reported lobbyists are taking credit in the Trump era for writing bills to protect their industry that are passed in Congress with minimal input from the public, and little of no discussion in Congress.
  31. NYT reported Lewandowski has a new “advisory” business, which again is testing the ethical boundaries of Trump giving significant access and power to friends and loyalists not on the government payroll.
  32. WAPO reported Secret Service vacated its command post inside Trump Tower following a dispute over terms of the lease for the space. The post has been relocated to a trailer on the sidewalk.
  33. Six months after leaving office, Pence handed over state-related emailstransmitted from his personal AOL account. Some requests for Pence’s emails are more than a year old.
  34. Pence’s attorney, also a top fundraiser for Trump and Pence, determined which emails to release, raising concerns from watchdog groups.
  35. A US Court of Appeals ruled that 17 states and DC could pursue the Trump regime for their efforts to sabotage Obamacare.
  36. Ivanka said, “We are committed to supporting the American worker,” as 100% of her companies’ goods are manufactured overseas, and the Trump Organization and Eric’s winery seek to bring in foreign workers.
  37. WSJ reported the US attorney issued subpoenas to Kushner Cos. Employees and Kushner family members have allegedly been offering green cards in exchange for $500k investments in their properties.
  38. Kelly asserted his authority as chief of staff on Monday, firing Scaramucci immediately.
  39. Kelly’s first priority will be to gain control of the information that reaches Trump, with a goal of cutting out backchannels and bad information.
  40. Kelly reportedly called Sessions to tell him his job is safe.
  41. CNN reported Kelly was so upset about the handling of Comey’s firing, Kelly called Comey afterward and said he was considering resigning.
  42. On Tuesday, bowing to criticism on transparency, Tillerson held his first press briefing, saying he is not “very happy” with Congress’ vote to sanction Russia.
  43. Tillerson acknowledged the understaffed State Dept: 22 of 24 assistant secretary slots are either unfilled or staffed by Obama holdovers.
  44. On Tuesday, Greg Andres, a former DOJ official, became the 16th member of Mueller’s team. Andres has vast experience with white-collar crime, including fraud and illegal foreign bribery.
  45. On Tuesday, a story on Golf.com recounted a scene at Trump’s Bedminster golf club, in which he tells members the reason he stays away from Washington is because the White House is a “real dump.
  46. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “I love the White House, one of the most beautiful buildings (homes) I have ever seen,” and referred to Golf.com as “Fake News.”
  47. On Thursday, Golf.com responded with a podcast about the story, saying at least 8 people heard Trump call the WH a dump.
  48. At a tense July 19 meeting with generals, Trump complained about the options in Afghanistan, saying, “We are losing.” Trump also compared US efforts to the renovation of the 21 Club, infuriating the generals.
  49. Trump complained the US wasn’t getting a piece of Afghan’s mineral wealth, and said he was considering firing Gen. Nicholson.
  50. As Kelly established an organizational structure, McMaster fired two Bannon loyalists from the NSC: Rich Higgins and Ezra Cohen-Watnick.
  51. As the turf battle heated up between McMaster and Bannon, rumors circulated that Trump may send McMaster off to Afghanistan to replace Nicholson.
  52. On Thursday, McMaster cleared Susan Rice and said she will keep her top-secret security clearance. Circa reported Trump was not aware of McMaster’s decision.
  53. Conservative media turned on McMaster, calling him a “sycophant” and “deeply hostile to Israel and Trump.” A new app that tracks Russian troll activity also found “firemcmaster” as the most tweeted item.
  54. NPR reported on a lawsuit that alleges Fox News and Ed Butowsky, a wealthy Trump supporter, with the knowledge of the WH, created a fake story about murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich leaking DNC emails to WikiLeaks to help Trump deflect from Russian involvement.
  55. The story started May 10, the day after the Comey firing. A few days later, Butowsky texted Wheeler, the expert suing for being inaccurately cited in the story, that Trump “wants the article out immediately.”
  56. ABC reported Spicer met with two Fox News contributors about the Seth Rich story at the WH, and asked to be “kept abreast of developments.”
  57. Yahoo reported the lawyer who is suing Fox News on behalf of Wheeler will seek to depose Trump and Spicer.
  58. Reporter Andrew Feinberg, who worked at Sputnik, said he was pushed to cover the Seth Rich story: “It’s really telling that the White House is pushing the same narrative as a state-run Russian propaganda outlet.”
  59. Newsweek reported Russia is using LinkedIn to target critics by damaging their reputations and chances for employment, and possible exposing them to physical harm beyond social media.
  60. On Wednesday, flanked by senators Cotton and Perdue, Trump introduced a bill to slash immigration levels in half over the next decade.
  61. Trump said the bill, named the RAISE Act, will favor green card applicants who speak English, financially support themselves, and contribute to the economy.
  62. AP fact checked Trump’s speech and found it was full of false statements.
  63. The bill was sharply rebuked by Democrats and Republicans. Catholic Bishops issued a strong statement against RAISE, saying it will weaken family bonds and impact ability to respond to those in crisis.
  64. At a contentious press briefing after the RAISE Act announcement, Stephen Miller said the 1883 “huddled masses” poem inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty doesn’t matter since it was “added later.
  65. Miller also acted aggressively towards a NYT and CNN reporters. Miller said CNN’s Jim Acosta, son of Cuban immigrants who did not speak English, had a “Cosmopolitan bias.
  66. ‘Cosmopolitan’ is an anti-Semitic term used by 20th century authoritarian regimes.
  67. The Anne Frank Center tweeted that Nazis found Anne Frank on August 4, 1944, after her family was denied entrance to the US in 1941, for “Reasons refugees hear now.
  68. Trump told the WSJ the head of the boy scouts called him to say his jamboree speech was “the greatest speech that was ever made to them.” The Boy Scouts denied any call from national leadership was made.
  69. Trump also told the WSJ that Mexican president Peña Nieto called him and told him fewer people were crossing the border. This is also a lie.
  70. WH press secretary Sanders revised Trump’s statements to say an individual Boy Scout leader called Trump, and the statement from Peña Nieto took place in a conversation at the G20.
  71. On Wednesday Trump signed the Russia sanctions bill behind closed doors and with no press coverage. Trump criticized Congress, but said nothing of Russia interference or the 755 US embassy members removed.
  72. In a statement, Trump called the measure “significantly flawed.” Trump also said it “encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate,” adding, “I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars.”
  73. On Thursday, Trump again attacked Congress, tweeting, “Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low,” and you can thank “the same people that can’t even give us HCare!”
  74. McCain responded, “You can thank Putin for attacking our democracy, invading neighbors & threatening our allies” for the dangerous low.
  75. Russia PM Medvedev said the Trump regime “has demonstrated full impotence.” He also tweeted the Trump regime has shown its “total weakness” in handing power to Congress “in the most humiliating way.”
  76. On Wednesday, Trump approval dropped to new lows: Rasmussen (38 approve), Gallup (36–60) and Quinnipiac (33–61). Trump used to cite Rasmussen as his favorite when his approval there reached high 50s.
  77. Quinnipiac also found American voters say 54–26 that they are embarrassed to have Trump as a leader.
  78. On Thursday, two bipartisan pairs of senators (Graham/Booker, Tillis/Coons) released legislation to block Trump from firing Mueller without good reason.
  79. Buzzfeed reported the RNC has instructed staff not to delete or modify any documents related to last year’s campaign, given “the potentially expansive scope of the inquiries and investigations.”
  80. WSJ reported Mueller impaneled a grand jury in Washington to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, a sign his inquiry is growing in intensity. Trump’s special counsel Cobb, was not aware.
  81. A grand jury is already impaneled in Alexandria, VA to investigate Flynn. The second grand jury and recent hires shows the investigation has entered a new phase. The location gives Mueller’s team easy proximity.
  82. Reuters reported grand jury subpoenas have been issued in connection to the June 9 meeting between Donald Jr., Veselnitskaya and others.
  83. On Thursday, Trump held a campaign rally in WV in which he called the Russia investigation a “hoax,” and presided over cheers of “Lock her up!”as he called for an investigation into Hillary’s deleted emails.
  84. Also of note at the rally, the supporters standing behind Trump as he spoke, a group typically carefully selected by staffers, was 100% white.
  85. As the Senate adjourned for the summer, WAPO reported this is a historically unproductive period of governance as Republicans had no major legislative achievements despite controlling Congress and the WH.
  86. The Senate unanimously agreed to a “pro forma” sessions before leaving for break, meaning Trump cannot make recess appointments. Murkowski, attacked by Trump in Week 37, did the wrap-up.
  87. The Interior Dept’s Office of the Inspector General launched a preliminary investigation of Zinke’s threats to the Alaska senators in an apparent effort to sway Murkowski to vote for the Obamacare repeal.
  88. NBC reported SCL Group, a private British behavioral research company related to Cambridge Analytica, was awarded several contracts by the State Dept.
  89. On their website, SCL Group advertised “our methodology has been approved by” with the State Dept and NATO logos. After NBC’s report, NATO and the State Dept asked that their logos be removed.
  90. AP reported Flynn will file an amended public financial filing to show he entered into a consulting agreement with SCL Group, a subsidiary of Cambridge Analytica.
  91. Cambridge Analytica is funded by Trump ally the Mercers, and per Week 26 is under investigation for possible interference in both Brexit and the 2016 US election.
  92. Flynn’s amended filing will also include $28k from the Trump transition team, and $5k as a consultant for an aborted Middle East nuclear power deal. Per Week 32, that Middle East deal was a venture with Russia.
  93. CNN reported that one year into the FBI’s Russia investigation, now headed by Mueller, the probe has expanded to focus on possible financial crimes, some of which are not connected to the 2016 elections.
  94. Investigators are looking into whether financial laws were broken, and whether Trump dealings could put members of the regime in a compromising position with Russia.
  95. Further, the FBI noticed a spate of curious communications between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence in the summer of 2016,including contact with Manafort on information damaging to Hillary.
  96. CNN also reported Page has been under a FISA warrant since 2014.
  97. VOX reported that as many as 10 or more senior intelligence officials, including Comey and McCabe, are likely to be interviewed as part of Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation.
  98. WAPO released the transcripts of Trump’s phone calls with Mexican President Peña Nieto and Australian PM Turnbull during Trump’s first week in office.
  99. When Peña Nieto said Mexico would not pay for the wall, Trump responded, “You cannot say that to the press,” acknowledging talk about the wall was more about image management than economic policy.
  100. Trump told Peña Nieto he won New Hampshire (a lie) because the state is “a drug-infested den.”
  101. Despite Trump claiming early on that reports of him berating Turnbull on the call were “fake news,” the transcript does confirm this. Trump told Turnbull he had a more pleasant call earlier with Putin.
  102. Trump balked at taking refugees from Australia as required in a deal struck by Obama, saying he hates taking these people, and they could “become the Boston bomber in five years.”
  103. As Trump departed for a three-week vacation at this golf course in Bedminster, GQ labelled him “the laziest president in American history.
  104. Likewise, the cover of Newsweek referred to Trump as “Lazy Boy” and pictures him a chair watching television and eating junk food. The accompanying article refers to him as “America’s boy king.
  105. Staffers of Republicans on the House Intel Comm traveled to London to track down Steele, author of the dossier. POLITICO reported growing tensions as Democrats on the House Intel Comm, Sen Intel Comm members, and Mueller were not notified.
  106. In a press conference Friday, Sessions threatened the DOJ may prosecute journalists over suspected leaks. Sessions also said he is reviewing the DOJ’s policies affecting media subpoenas.
  107. NYT reported Mueller’s special counsel made its first formal request to the WH to hand over documents. Mueller seeks information on the financial dealing of Flynn related his company’s work for Turkey.
  108. Flynn was paid $530k. Investigators want to know if the Turkish government was behind the payments, and if Flynn Intel Group made kickbacks to Ekim Alptekin, for concealing the source of the money.
  109. Flynn’s now third version of financial disclosure forms list $1.8mm in income, $400k more than in his prior forms.
  110. Failing to register as a foreign agent is a felony, and trying to hide to source of money by routing it through a private company, and using kickbacks to a middle man, could lead to criminal charges.

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 38: TINY “DICK RUSHMORE”

Week 37: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

July 29, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-37-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-95953670b72a

This was a week of complete disarray within the Trump regime: firings, resignations, withdrawals. Trump distracted and played to his remaining base all week by targeting marginalized groups, and ramping up hateful rhetoric.

Also of note, and a continuation from Week 36: Republicans are turning on Trump — this week, not just in words this week, but in actions. And in response, by firing Priebus and replacing him with a general, Trump seems to be preparing for an aggressive approach towards the legislative branch.

  1. On Sunday, Trump’s comm director Scaramucci told State of the Union Trump is still not sure if Russia interfered in our election. This, just after Pompei, Coats and Dunford confirmed Russia meddled (Week 36).
  2. As Trump floated the idea of firing Mueller, Former CIA director Brennan said elected officials need to “stand up” if this happens.
  3. After Trump said, “we’ll let Obamacare fail,” Trump has taken several steps to sabotage ACA, and make that a reality.
  4. Since taking office, Trump has spent nearly 1 in 3 days at a Trump property, and 1 in 5 days at a Trump golf property.
  5. CNBC reported investors have dumped the majority of ‘Trump trades.’ Investors are no longer confident tax reform, deregulation and fiscal stimulus will happen.
  6. New Yorker interviewed a veteran ICE agent, disillusioned under Trump. The agent said they are explicitly encouraged to pursue undocumented as aggressively as possible, adding “We’re going to get sued.”
  7. He also noted agents no longer look at the “totality of the circumstances,” and that it’s not just the person being removed, but “their entire family.”
  8. Several people were arrested by ICE at the Houston INS office when they went for their marriage interviews for green cards.
  9. Pew Research found that 75% of Muslim Americans believe there is a lot of discrimination against Muslims in the US, and 74% believe Trump is unfriendly towards them.
  10. Thousands marched in Warsaw to protest their right-wing government’s attempted control of the Supreme Court and judiciary. Trump chose Poland en route to the G20 to deliver a nationalistic speech (Week 34).
  11. On Monday, Trump continued to signal the possibility of firing Sessions, referring to him in a tweet as “our beleaguered A.G.
  12. Trump floated the idea of Rudy Giuliani as a replacement for Sessions. WAPO reported replacing Sessions is viewed by some Trump associates as part of a possible strategy to fire Mueller.
  13. Trump continued to target Sessions on Tuesday, tweeting he “has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes,” and asking on a phone call with an associate, “What would happen if I fired Sessions?
  14. Trump continued attacking Sessions on Twitter Wednesday, questioning why he hadn’t fired acting FBI director McCabe.
  15. WAPO reported Trump spoke privately with confidants and advisers about the possibility of replacing Sessions with a recess appointment.
  16. Grassley responded tweeting the agenda for the Senate Judiciary Comm is set for the rest of 2017, and would not have time for an AG nomination. Democrats threatened to block recess appointments.
  17. Breaking their typical silence, several Senate Republicans spoke out against Trump’s treatment of their former colleague, Sessions. Sen Roberts (KS) said, “It’s very difficult, it’s disconcerting, it’s inexplicable.”
  18. Sessions told Fox News that Trump’s attacks are “kind of hurtful,” but that he intended to stay on and serve as long as Trump will let him.
  19. In an op-ed, Yates warned Trump is trying to “dismantle the rule of law, destroy the time-honored independence” of the DOJ, and if we’re not careful, “our justice system may be broken beyond recognition.”
  20. Yates cited as examples Trump’s efforts to bully Sessions into resigning, his goading Sessions to re-opening an investigation on a former political rival, and his efforts to get Comey to back off from Flynn then firing him.
  21. NYT reported David Apol, Trump’s choice to replace Shaub, has clashed with OGE employees over his efforts to roll back or loosen ethics requirements on federal employees, including those in the WH.
  22. The Center for Public Integrity reported Bannon is potentially violating the Antideficiency Act, by using an outside shadow press office not employed by the Trump regime, and providing services for free.
  23. In another blow to the credibility of Trump’s Election Integrity Comm, a federal judge upheld a fine against Kobach, citing a “pattern” of “misleading the Court” in voter-ID cases.
  24. A lawyer in West Palm Beach filed a lawsuit with a federal judge in FL, saying Trump is violating the Constitution by making money from renting rooms in his hotels or other buildings to federal agencies.
  25. According to Gallup, Trump’s approval in underwater in 11 of the states he won in November, including NC (-11), MI (-10), WI (-9) and PA (-9).
  26. Trump’s Boy Scouts jamboree speech turned into a political rally, as Trump led the crowd to boo Hillary and Obama, chided the “fake news” and Washington “cesspool,” and promised to bring back Christmas.
  27. Boy Scouts of America faced a backlash after Trump’s speech, which some compared to Hitler’s Youth. Former scouts called for a public denouncement, and called the speech “a disgrace.”
  28. Randall Stephenson, the national president of the Boy Scouts of America is also CEO of AT&T, whose pending merger with Time Warner requires government approval. In Week 34, the Trump regime discussed using this pending merger as leverage over CNN’s reporting and president.
  29. The day after reporting on Stephenson’s role as CEO of AT&T, the Chief Scout Executive for the Boy Scouts of America issued an apology.
  30. After the State Dept’s Cyber Coordinator resigned (Week 36), Tillerson plans to shutter the State’s Office for the Coordination of Cyber Issues.
  31. The State Dept’s head of diplomatic security bureau, Bill Miller, resigned. Miller is one of a long list of senior State Dept officials who have resigned since Trump took office.
  32. CNN reported Tillerson is considering resigning, citing his frustration and doubt that “the tug-of-war” with the WH would subside. Tillerson is also upset about Trump’s unprofessional treatment of Sessions.
  33. Many of State Dept’s typical responsibilities have been re-assigned to the WH in a consolidation of power, including Kushner taking the Middle East, and in Week 36, the WH taking over Iran compliance certification.
  34. On Tuesday, Tillerson said he would taking time off. The State Dept refused to comment on if he is happy.
  35. Longtime chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell criticized the lack of transparency from and access to Trump’s State Dept.
  36. Speculation grew that McMaster may resign. POLITICO reported on a meeting on Afghan policy, described as a “s*** show.” Axios reported McMaster is frustrated by the “disorganization and indiscipline.”
  37. Scaramucci threatened mass firings, saying he will purge aides who are not loyal to Trump or leak. His first firing happened Tuesday: assistant press secretary Michael Short, who is close to Priebus and Spicer.
  38. Trump’s nominee to lead the DOJ’s criminal division, Brian Benczkowski, disclosed to Congress that he previously represented Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s largest banks, whose owners have close ties to Putin.
  39. The FBI is investigating data transmission between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization’s servers during the election, which may indicate back-channel communications.
  40. Benczkowski took on representing Alfa Bank after serving as part of Trump’s transition team. He continued despite reports of the FBI investigation (Week 21), and continued until his nomination in June.
  41. A complaint filed by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control alleges Trump ally Rohrbacher violated the Magnitsky Act by trying to get Russia’s deputy general prosecutor removed from the US sanctions list.
  42. Ahead of his Monday, closed-door testimony to the Senate Intel Comm, Kushner publicly released the full text of his testimony in which he denied participating in, or knowledge about, collusion with Russia.
  43. After his Senate testimony, the WH set up a podium with the White House seal for Kushner to make his statement to the media.
  44. Kushner stood at the podium and said, “I did not collude,” nor did he know anyone in the campaign who did. He said his actions were “proper and occurred in the normal course of events of a very unique campaign.”
  45. On the June 9 Trump Tower meeting with Russians, Kushner claimed he was unaware of the promise of damaging information, despite the email subject line: “Re: Russia — Clinton — private and confidential.”
  46. Kushner claimed he met with four Russians but did not discuss specific policies, including US sanctions against Russia.
  47. Kushner also said, “I have not relied on Russian funds for my businesses.” ‘Relied’ seemed a carefully chosen term for its possibility to obfuscate.
  48. Guardian reported Kushner bought part of the old New York Times building from a Russian oligarch, Lev Leviev, known as the “king of diamonds,” for $295mm in 2015.
  49. Kushner’s recently disclosed $285mm loan from Deutsche Bank was used to refinance this deal. The purchase is part of Mueller’s investigation of Trump-Russia ties.
  50. Leviev also sold properties to Prevezon, the Russian company represented by Veselnitskaya: apartments at 20 Pine Street in NYC. The property was subject to a money laundering case.
  51. The Prevezon money laundering case, originally brought by Bharara for $230mm before he was fired, was settled by Sessions two days before trial for $6mm. The 20 Pine Street apartments were also released.
  52. Mother Jones reported on Monday, former senator Carl Levin sent a letter to Mueller about his 2000 investigation of Kaveladze, who he described as a “poster child” for Russian money laundering.
  53. Levin said Kaveladze circulated more than $1.4bn through US bank accounts. Kaveladze was Aras Agalarov’s representative at Donald Jr.’s June 9 Trump Tower meeting.
  54. Ivanka hired a defense lawyer to represent her in the Russia investigation. Donald Jr. hired an additional lawyer with congressional experience to his legal team.
  55. On Tuesday, Manafort testified in front of the Senate Intel Comm on the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower. Tuesday, he was also subpoenaed by the Senate Judiciary Comm to appear.
  56. On Tuesday, Kushner testified behind closed doors for the House Intel Comm. Democratic leader Schiff said Kushner had agreed to come back.
  57. On Thursday, Bill Browder, founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management which was looted by Russian kleptocrats in a case that gave rise to the Magnitsky Act, testified in front of the Sen Judiciary Comm.
  58. Browder testified he believed there was more than one meeting between Veselnitskaya and Donald Jr., Kushner and Manafort, and that Veselnitskaya’s goal would be to repeal the Magnitsky Act.
  59. Browder also testified that Russian intelligence knew about the June 9 meeting in advance, and that he believes Fusion GPS — the firm behind the Russian dossier to get dirt on Trump — was hired by the Russians.
  60. On Tuesday, by a vote of 419–3, the House passed a Russian sanctions bill, punishing Russia for election interference, and curbing Trump’s power to roll back sanctions.
  61. Russia warned of a “painful” response if Trump backed the sanction bill, calling it “anti-Russian hysteria.”
  62. Weekly Standard reported their interview with Vladimir Kara-Mirza, a Russian journalist, politician and filmmaker, started late because he was in the hospital being treated for poison, again.
  63. Buzzfeed filed a lawsuit to compel the release of information on the death of Putin’s former media czar, Mikhail Lesin, who was brutally murdered in DC the night before a planned meeting with DOJ in November 2015.
  64. The Senate passed a motion to proceed on healthcare Tuesday with no input, no debate, no CBO score, and without knowing what they would be voting on once the motion passed. 13% support Obamacare repeal.
  65. The vote was 50–50, with Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. After the passage, uncharacteristic chants erupted on the Senate floor of “kill the bill,” and “shame, shame, shame.”
  66. Ahead of the vote, reporters were blocked from the Senate halls where protestors were being arrested. Reporters were told, “no photos. Delete your photos.
  67. A hot mic in the Senate captured a conversation between senators Reed and Collins, with Reed saying of Trump, “I think — I think he’s crazy,” and Collins responding, “I’m worried.”
  68. Trump’s s actions have galvanized many who care about health care, climate change and research funding to run for office. A PAC called “314 ACT” (named for pi) was set up to recruit and assist scientists to run.
  69. At a rally in Ohio Tuesday, Trump said he could act more presidential than any other president except, “the late, great Abraham Lincoln.” He also joked he should be on Mount Rushmore.
  70. Trump also told a graphic tale about illegal immigrants slicing up beautiful teenage girls with knives, “They don’t want to use guns because it’s too fast and it’s not painful enough.” The story is a lie.
  71. WAPO reported between the Ohio and Boy Scout rally, Trump made 29 false or misleading statements.
  72. On Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted the US government would “will not accept or allowTransgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.
  73. The Pentagon was not informed of Trump’s announcement ahead of time, and was left scrambling with no plan in place for implementation, including how to deal with transgender individuals now serving.
  74. The House and Senate Armed Services Committees were also not notified. The committees were awaiting results from a 6 month review of potential impact ordered by Mattis in Week 33.
  75. On Thursday, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff instructed the military policy on who is allowed to serve would not change until the WH sends DoD new rules and the secretary of defense issues new guidelines.
  76. Mattis was on vacation when Trump tweeted. According to the NYT, he was given only one day’s notice about the decision, and per people close to him, was appalled that Trump used Twitter for the announcement.
  77. Even Republicans spoke out against Trump’s plan to ban transgender individuals. Conservative Sen Hatch said, “Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them.”
  78. Trump’s candidate for a senior position at the DHS, John Fluharty, withdrew from consideration because of Trump’s transgender ban.
  79. Wednesday, in a second attack on the LGBTQ community, Sessions’s DOJ filed a brief saying that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not cover employment discrimination “based on sexual orientation.
  80. Rep Farenthold said of “some female senators from the Northeast” who were against an Obamacare repeal, if they were a guy from south Texas, “I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.
  81. Wednesday, Trump chastised Sen Murkowski tweeting she had let the Republicans and country down by not voting to repeal Obamacare.
  82. Later that afternoon, Interior Sec Ryan Zinke called both of Alaska’s senators, saying Murkowski’s vote would impact the Trump’s administrations view on issues that are a priority for Alaska.
  83. Of note, all during the week, Republican men insulted and threatened their female colleagues for not supporting their healthcare bills. Male senators not in support did not face the same harassment.
  84. Graham said Thursday, “there will be holy hell to pay” if Trump fires Sessions, and said if Trump fires Mueller without good reason, it would be “the beginning of the end” of Trump’s presidency.
  85. Later that day, Graham and Booker said they will introduce a bi-partisan bill next week that will limit Trump’s ability to fire Mueller.
  86. On Wednesday night, Scaramucci accused Priebus of leaking his financial disclosure information, and said he would be contacting the FBI. Shortly after POLITICO indicated the information is public, he deleted the tweet.
  87. Scaramucci gave an interview to The New Yorker Thursday, saying of his colleagues, “Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” and “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock.
  88. Scaramucci also threatened leakers, saying, “What I want to do is I want to fucking kill all the leakers.
  89. Later that evening, Scaramucci tried to shift the blame to the reporter, tweeting, “I made a mistake in trusting in a reporter,” but Lizza shot back saying he had a recording of the call which was “100% on the record.”
  90. On Thursday, the Senate passed a new sanction bill by a 98–2 vote, which would sharply limit Mr. Trump’s ability to suspend or lift sanctions on Russia. With House and Senate passage, the bill now goes to Trump.
  91. On Friday, Russia retaliated, expelling a large number of US diplomats and seizing US diplomatic properties.
  92. Late Friday, the WH announced Trump plans to sign the bill.
  93. Trump encouraged officers to be rough with suspects in a speech to police Friday on Long Island, addressing the gang MS-13.
  94. Trump also used the speech to encourage Congress to find money to pay for 10k more ICE officers “so that we can eliminate MS-13.”
  95. After the speech, the Suffolk County PD tweeted, “As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.”
  96. Later that evening, a second police department, Gainevilles Police (FL), also rejected Trump’s remarks, citing “The @POTUS made remarks today that endorsed and condoned police brutality.”
  97. The International Association of Chiefs of Police issued a statement Friday night countering Trump, saying officers are trained to treat all individuals “with dignity and respect.”
  98. After all other versions of Senate healthcare bills failed, late Friday, the Senate voted on the “Skinny Repeal.” An 8-page copy of the bill was provided to Democrats at 10 pm Friday night, ahead of a midnight vote.
  99. The night prior, GOP senators Johnson, Graham and Cassidy announced they would only vote for the “Skinny Repeal” if House Republicans assured them that it would never become law. Still the vote proceeded.
  100. Ahead of the vote, Enzi filibustered the Senate floor for an hour. Democrats tried to interrupt and ask questions. Enzi told Murray, “Perhaps your time might be better spent taking a look at the bill.
  101. At 1:30 am Friday morning, after over an hour spent by Pence and other Republicans to change McCain’s mind, the Skinny Repeal bill was voted down 49–51: Collins, Murkowski and McCain voted with Democrats.
  102. After the failed vote, at 2:25 am, Trump tweeted, “let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!
  103. Trump also again pushed for the Republicans to end the legislative filibuster, a long-time norm in the Senate, so bills can pass with 51 votes.
  104. Trump unceremoniously fired Priebus, informing press and staff shortly after Air Force One landed in DC. WSJ reported that part of Trump’s rationale was that Priebus did not fire back at Scaramucci.
  105. Priebus served the shortest time of any chief of staff in a president’s first term since WW2.
  106. The WSJ Editorial Board excoriated Trump over the Priebus firing, writing “this shuffling of the staff furniture won’t matter unless Mr. Trump accepts that the White House problem isn’t Mr. Priebus. It’s him.”
  107. WAPO tracked the Trump regime’s unusually long list of firings, resignations, and withdrawals from consideration. Trump also has far less appointed and confirmed candidates for key executive roles.
  108. Trump appointed General John Kelly, current Secretary of DHS. Kelly little political and legislative experience. One Ryan-Priebus ally said the next phase of Trump presidency will be warfare against GOP Congress.
  109. On Saturday morning, Trump tweeted attacks Republicans, saying they “look like fools” and that Democrats “are laughing at R’s.
  110. Trump also commanded Republicans to change norms: “Republican Senate must get rid of 60 vote NOW!” and he threatened if healthcare did not pass, he would end “BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress.

A meme this week:

20431232_10213672151066447_4753152623172907815_n

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 37: PARDON ME & MY REGIME

Week 36 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

July 22, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-36-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-5f21d774631e

This week Trump’s ties to Russia came increasingly front and center, as news of a second, clandestine meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 surfaced, and Trump moved forward with actions that seemed oddly pro-Moscow. Trump also caused alarm on both sides by raising the specter of firing Mueller and the possibility of pardoning himself and members of his regime.

For the first time this week there was bi-partisan reaction: there were resignations, and pushback from national security officials who called out Russia for election meddling. Also of major importance, Congress agreed on an outline for a bi-partisan bill to impose sweeping sanctions on Russia — a direct repudiation of Trump.

  1. According to a FEC filing, Trump’s re-election campaign paid $50k to Donald Jr.’s attorney on June 27, six days after Kushner updated his security clearance form to include the meeting with Veselnitskaya.
  2. WIRED reported that according to FEC filings, Trump re-election campaign has already paid out $600k to Trump-owned properties.
  3. Trump lawyer, Jay Sekulow, was the sole face for the Trump regime on all five of the Sunday shows.
  4. Sekulow suggested that US Secret Service would have vetted Donald Jr.’s meetings. The USSS issued a statement denying they screened anyone: “Donald Trump, Jr. was not a protected of the USSS in June, 2016.”
  5. The US Women’s Open, hosted at a Trump golf course, posted its lowest final round rating in at least 30 years. Trump had tweeted about attending the event.
  6. WSJ reported there were nearly 150k attempts to penetrate South Carolina’s voter-registration system on Election Day, even though SC was not a competitive state. So far, there is evidence 21 states were targeted.
  7. TIME reported on a previously undisclosed 15-page plan produced by Obama’s cybersecurity officials which shows how concerned the administration was about Russian hacking.
  8. The concern was so grave, on November 1, the Obama administration did a war-game, practice attack. Obama’s NSC ran a fictional attack and rehearsed how federal agencies would communicate and respond.
  9. TIME reported concern was born over a California primary in which some voters were prevented from voting because their registrations had been altered. Russia was suspected of the hacking.
  10. A WAPO/ABC poll showed Trump approval rating has fallen to 36% from 42% in April. His net approval fell from -11 to -22. Trump’s support from Independents has fallen to 32%.
  11. A Monmouth Poll found that 41% of Americans support impeaching Trump, significantly higher than Nixon at the start of Watergate (24%).
  12. A PPP poll found 45% support impeaching Trump, and 43% are opposed.
  13. CNN tracked highlights of Trump’s first six months: he passed no major legislation, held just one press conference, sent 991 tweets, golfed 40 times, and spent 21 of 26 weekends at Trump properties.
  14. Criticism of Kobach and the Election Integrity Commission continued from all sides as their first public meeting took place, with many calling it a veiled attempt at voter suppression and purging.
  15. Kobach responded to MSNBC when asked if Hillary won the popular vote, “We will probably never know the answer to that question.”
  16. Daily Beast reported that civilian casualties have skyrocketed under Trump from the U.S.-led war against ISIS. Trump’s air war has already killed more than 2k civilians.
  17. CREW won a legal battle to compel Trump to turn over the Mar-A-Lago visitor logs by September 8. CREW said they will make the information available to the public, when and if they receive it.
  18. Outgoing OGE chair Shaub told NYT that actions by Trump and his regime have created a historic ethics crisis. On the world stage, this has rendered US “close to the laughingstock,” and it “affects our credibility.”
  19. DHS announced a one-time increase of 15k H-2B visas, a reversal from Trump’s rhetoric as he launched Made in America Week. The change came after lobbying by industries that rely on temporary foreign workers.
  20. AP reported the Trump Organization has asked the federal government to grant dozens of special visas to allow foreign nationals to work at two of Trump’s private clubs in Florida.
  21. Of note, this occurred during Trump’s ‘Made in America’ week. Also of note, none of Ivanka’s products are produced in the US.
  22. In a vote along party lines, the Senate confirmed political blogger John Bush, Trump’s most controversial nominee yet, to the federal courts of appeal in Kentucky. Bush’s blog posts disparage gays, women and people of color, and contain conspiracy theories and false information.
  23. Poland, the country chosen by Trump for a major speech en route to the G20, may be stripped of EU voting rights for the rightwing government’s plan to abolish the independence of the country’s judiciary.
  24. Former diplomats and national security officials urged Tillerson not to eliminate the State Dept’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), citing “profound and negative implications” of doing so.
  25. FP reported Tillerson is set to also shutter the State Dept’s War Crimes Office, the office that for two decades held war criminals accountable.
  26. Christopher Painter, the top cyber diplomat, will leave his State Depart job at the end of the month. Painter has led the American delegations to international cyber meetings since 2011.
  27. US Treasury fined Exxon-Mobil $2mm, saying the company showed “reckless disregard” for Russian sanctions while Tillerson was CEO.
  28. House Republicans will seek to defund the Election Assistance Commission, the only federal agency that exclusively works to ensure the voting process is secure.
  29. The defunding comes as the Election Assistance Commission is working with the FBI to examine an attack late last year on the agency’s computer systems by a Russian hacker.
  30. Manafort filed reports with the DOJ showing his firm received nearly $17mm for two years of work for a Ukrainian political party with links to the Kremlin — more than the party’s operations reported spending.
  31. Manhattan’s DA office subpoenaed Federal Savings Bank, a Chicago bank run by Steve Calk, for records on a $16mm in loans made to Manafort in November and January. At the time, Manafort was underwater on loans to a Brooklyn townhouse and a family investment in CA properties.
  32. The loans to Manafort represent 24% of the bank’s reported $67 million of equity capital. Calk was a member of Trump’s economic advisory panel, and had expressed interest in becoming Army Secretary.
  33. On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Rybakov said the Russian government is “almost” at a deal to get their seized compounds returned.
  34. On Tuesday, Trump again tweeted his demand that the Senate must change its rules to make repealing Obamacare easier.
  35. In a memo sent to station news directors, Sinclair’s VP of News defended the company from charges of being biased. In Week 35, Sinclair has mandated segments by Trump ally Epshteyn.
  36. Sessions said he would be issuing a new directive aimed at increasing police seizures of cash and property.
  37. Sen Paul called on Sessions to stop, tweeting, “Asset forfeiture is an unconstitutional taking of property without trial.”
  38. After Republicans failed in their repeal and replace, and then failed again at repeal, Trump said Republicans should “let Obamacare fail,” adding, “I’m not going to own it.”
  39. CNN reported Trump aides could face scrutiny by Mueller over their role in strategizing with Trump to craft the initial statement issued by Donald Jr. as the NYT story broke about the June 9 meeting.
  40. AP reported that according to Akhmetshin, Veselnitskaya brought a plastic folder with printed-out documents thought to be damaging to Clinton to the meeting with Donald Jr., Kushner and Manafort.
  41. WAPO reported the eighth person in the Donald Jr./Veselnitskaya meeting was Ike Kaveladze, who attended as a representative of Aras and Emin Agalarov.
  42. Kaveladze’s attorney said he had received a phone call over the weekend from a representative of Mueller, asking to set up an interview.
  43. Kaveladze was once the focus of a Congressional money laundering probe involving Russian oligarchs.
  44. On an interview with Charlie Rose, Ian Bremmer said Trump and Putin had a second hour-long private meeting on sidelines of the G20.
  45. Trump’s WH was forced to confirm the meeting Tuesday, as reports surfaced that some guests had been surprised that it occurred.
  46. Trump’s WH sought to minimize the disclosure, claiming in a statement the private meeting was “just a brief conversation at the end of dinner.” Spicer said of the meeting, “It was pleasantries and small talk.”
  47. Daily Beast reported that after being sent a secret document by officials in Moscow in April 2016, GOP Rep Rohrabacher, a long-time Russia advocate, aimed to alter the Magnitsky Act.
  48. Without stated rationale, Trump ended a covert CIA program to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels battling al-Assad, a victory for Russia.
  49. The day after a shocking announcing he had been diagnosed with brain cancer, McCain issued a statement condemning the Trump’s action in Syria, saying this is, “playing right into the hands of Vladimir Putin.”
  50. Reuters reported that Russia says it is in talk with the US to create a cyber security working group.
  51. Trump gave a bizarre, wide-ranging interview to the NYT, which made it apparent he believes he is accountable to no one, and has full control over who occupies positions of power.
  52. Trump said he would never have hired Sessions if he knew he would recuse himself from the Trump-Russia probe. Expectations for Sessions resignation followed, but Sessions said he would stay on.
  53. Trump started to diminish Deputy AG Rosenstein for appointing a special prosecutor, saying, “There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he’s from Baltimore.”
  54. On the topic of his private conversation with Putin at the G20, Trump repeated Donald Jr. initial false claim: “We talked about Russian adoption. Yeah. I always found that interesting.”
  55. Trump also claimed he spoke to Putin because he was seated next to the First Lady of Japan, and didn’t have a Japanese language interpreter.Videos surfaced of Akie Abe speaking fluent English.
  56. Trump also opened the door for firing Mueller, saying the special prosecutor would cross a red line if investigations delve into Trump family finances unrelated to Russia.
  57. Bloomberg reported Mueller has expanded the probe into Trump’s businesses ties to Russia, including Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump SoHo, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch.
  58. Mueller’s team is also absorbing the money laundering probe of Manafort, started by federal prosecutors in New York.
  59. WSJ reported the Senate and House Intel Comm are also investigating Manafort for possible money laundering. The Senate committee received reports by the Treasury Depart’s FinCen unit which track Russian ties.
  60. Manafort has borrowed and spent tens of millions of dollars over the past decade to finance real estate purchases in Brooklyn, NY and CA.
  61. NYT reported Deutsche Bank is under investigation by regulators for their lending relationship with Trump. The bank is also likely to have to provide information to Mueller as part of the Trump-Russia probe.
  62. As per Week 19, Deutsche Bank recently paid a $630mm settlement over charges of laundering $10bn for Russia from the bank’s Moscow office.
  63. In the past six years, Deutsche’s private wealth area financed three Trump deals, lending $300mm.
  64. The commercial real estate area, which would typically lend for such transactions, would not finance the deals. It is also highly unusual for a private wealth area to lend such a high dollar amount.
  65. NYT also reported that Deutsche Bank was the referenced European financial institution that had partnered with Russia’s Prevezon, the massive money laundering tax fraud mentioned in Week 35.
  66. Prevezon’s case was settled by Sessions’s DOJ two days before trial.
  67. AP reported Trump repeated overtures towards Russia are increasingly putting him at odds with his national security and foreign policy advisers. The second meeting with Putin at the G20 exacerbated the rift.
  68. AP reported it was highly unusual for only Tillerson, but not McMaster to have attended the meeting with Putin at the G20. McMaster has been warning Trump that Putin is not to be trusted.
  69. The legal team defending Trump in the Russia probe had a shake-up on Thursday, with long-time personal attorney Kasowitz leaving. Mark Corrallo, a spokesperson for Trump’s legal team also resigned.
  70. Spicer resigned Friday after Trump appointed New York financier Anthony Scaramucci to communications director. Sarah Huckabee Sanders was named his replacement.
  71. Senators Cardin and Warren have pushed for an investigation into whether Scaramucci’s company, SkyBridge Capital, violated sanctions against Russia.
  72. On Friday following Spicer’s resignation, Sanders held an on-camera press briefing, the first one since June 29 (22 days ago).
  73. Breaking from Trump, CIA Director Pompeo, Homeland Security Secretary Kelly, and WH Homeland and Counterterrorism adviser Bossert said they believe Russia meddled in our election.
  74. Reuters reported Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Jr., had Russian spy agency FSB as a client.
  75. After interviewing Susan Rice as part of the Senate Intel Comm, Republican chairman Burr commented, “The unmasking thing was all created by Devin Nunes.
  76. Michael Flynn opened a new consulting firm, Resilient Patriot, LLC. Flynn’s new firm will advise private equity firms.
  77. Trump named a temporary director, Apol, to replace Shaub as head of the OGE as he seeks a permanent director. Watchdogs groups expressed concern that Trump bypassed Shaub’s designated successor, Finlayson.
  78. WAPO reported some of Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut Mueller’s Trump-Russia probe, building a case around alleged conflicts of interest of Mueller and his staff.
  79. Sekulow said Mueller investigating Trump’s business dealings, including transactions like a Russian oligarch’s purchase of Trump’s Palm Beach mansion, “is far outside the scope of a legitimate investigation.”
  80. WAPO also reported Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and himself.
  81. Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intel Comm, warned Trump that pardoning targets of the Russia probe would be “crossing a fundamental line.”
  82. Trump loyalist Newt Gingrich told FoxNews Friday, “The Mueller investigation has so many conflicts of interests, it’s almost an absurdity.”
  83. A New Republic op-ed titled, “We’re on the Brink of an Authoritarian Crisis, cited Trump’s NYT interview, information on efforts to attack Mueller and questions about issuing pardons, as cause for concern.
  84. WAPO reported Kislyak told his superiors he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Sessions. The conversations were intercepted by US spy agencies.
  85. In March, Sessions had said he never had meetings with Russian operatives or intermediaries about the Trump campaign. He also lied under oath during the Senate confirmation hearings about the meetings.
  86. WAPO reported Sessions had three meetings with Kislyak including at his Senate office in September, at the Republican National Convention in July, and at the Mayflower Hotel in April.
  87. Kushner agreed to testify in front of the Senate Intel Comm next Monday, and the House Intel Comm on Tuesday.
  88. Bypassing Tillerson and the State Dept after a contentious meeting, Trump assigned a WH team of loyalists to review the Iran Nuclear Deal and give him the option to say Tehran was not in compliance.
  89. WAPO reported late Friday that Kushner filed a revised financial disclosure form, showing he had failed to disclose dozens of financial holdings that he was required to declare when he joined the WH.
  90. Of note, Kushner had failed to disclose a $285mm loan that his company received from Deutsche Bank one month before the election.
  91. A separate form filed Friday showed Ivanka has personally profited by as much as $5mm since Trump took office from her outside businesses, despite a promise to distance herself from her private holdings.
  92. Also late Friday, a deal between Donald Jr., Manafort and the Senate Judiciary Comm was announced, in which the two will provide records and be interviewed in a closed-door session to avoid being subpoenaed.
  93. On Saturday morning, starting at 6:30 a.m EST, Trump sent a bizarre litany of tweets on topics ranging from his usual trashing of the media, Hillary and Comey, to the topic of pardons and Mueller.
  94. Trump continued to tweet, despite a new ABC/WAPO poll that showed 67% of Americans disapprove of his using Twitter, including 68% saying his tweets were inappropriate, and half said his tweets were dangerous.
  95. Saturday, in a repudiation of Trump, Congress reached a deal on sweeping sanctions to punish Russia for election-meddling. The legislation will limit Trump’s ability to suspend or terminate sanctions.
IMG_5290
trump by street artist Izzy IZVNE in Chisinau, Moldova. 23july17

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 36: GAG ME ~ maga…

Week 35 of ‘36% liked’ (as of today) trump presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

July 15, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-35-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-b903f89596c9

I’m pleased to share that “The Weekly List” has found a safe home at the Library of Congress. May future generations learn from our slow slide to authoritarianism, and never let it happen again!

This week the bombshell story about Donald Jr.’s emails, the first direct evidence of possible collusion and intent between the Trump campaign and Russia, dominated media coverage and conversation. But as with each week, amidst the bedlam, there were a myriad of less-covered, important stories on how the fabric of our country is changing, and kleptocracy is omnipresent.

  1. After the G20, Pope Francis warned about “dangerous” international alliances, including the one between the US and Russia.
  2. On Sunday after returning from the G20, Trump sent a bizarre set of tweets, including his apparent acceptance that Putin did not meddle in our election, and his plan to set up a Cyber Security unit with Putin.
  3. After widespread condemnation of his Cyber Security unit idea, Trump tweeted Sunday night that he didn’t really mean it.
  4. US officials say Russia government hackers were behind recent cyber-intrusions into the administrative and business networks of a US nuclear power plant and other energy companies.
  5. Reuters reported European infrastructure networks have also recently been hacked, and the Russian government is thought to be the culprit.
  6. An Arkansas bill scheduled to go into effect July 30 would make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion without notifying the man who impregnated her, even in cases of rape.
  7. On Monday, Capitol police arrested citizens protesting the GOP health care bill outside of Republican senate offices.
  8. A federal judge halted the deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals, including many Christians fearing persecution. The Trump’s regime efforts to deport took on new urgency because Iraq has agreed to accept deportees.
  9. An Iranian cancer researcher traveling on a valid visa to the US to work as a visiting scholar at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, was detained at Logan Airport, along with his wife and three children.
  10. Pew Research found the percentage of Muslim refugees has steadily declined under Trump from 50% in February to 31% in June, while the percentage of Christian refugees has increased from 41% to 57%.
  11. A federal judge’s ruling in Hawaii narrowed the scope of Trump’s Muslim Ban by vastly expanding the list of family relationships with U.S. citizens that visa applicants can use to get into the US.
  12. Trump ally Steve King called for using federal funds set aside for Planned Parenthood and welfare programs like food stamps to be reallocated for funding Trump’s Mexican Wall.
  13. POLITICO reported that Trump and his regime are quietly working with conservative senators Cotton and Perdue to cut the number of legal immigrants allowed into the US by half over the next decade.
  14. According to a memo obtained by WAPO, the Trump regime is considering expanding the DHS’s power to expedite the deportation of illegal immigrants, a major expansion of the agency’s power.
  15. DeVos met with MRA groups who believe campus sexual assault is a hoax, including The National Coalition for Men, an organization with a history of harassing and intimidating alleged sexual-assault survivors.
  16. DeVos also met with Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), an organization SPLC described as promoting misogyny. SAVE has lobbied against efforts to address military sexual assault, calling it a “witch hunt.”
  17. Ahead of these pivotal meeting, Candice Jackson, the acting assistant secretary for civil right at the Education Dept said 90% of campus sexual accusations come after drunk sex or break-ups. She later apologized.
  18. Sessions delivered a speech to Alliance Defending Freedom, a group designated as an “anti-LGBT hate group” by the SPLC in 2016, off camera on Tuesday. The DOJ refused to release his remarks.
  19. Rep Martha McSally stood on the House floor Wednesday in a sleeveless dress and open-toed shoes to say she would not comply with the dress code in the chamber and Speaker’s lobby.
  20. On Friday, female members of the House wore sleeveless clothing to work, tweeting in support of “Sleeveless Friday.”
  21. Price’s HHS quietly defunded teen pregnancy programs designed by the Obama administration to fund scientifically valid ways to help teenagers make healthy decisions that avoid unwanted pregnancy.
  22. The ACLU filed a suit against Trump’s Election Integrity Commission, saying it isn’t following federal law requiring it to be open to the public.
  23. Trump’s Election Integrity Commission published a 112 page document of public feedback (mostly negative), which exposed personal informationincluding email addresses, phone numbers and home addresses of some.
  24. Over 3k Colorado voters have canceled their registrations since Trump’s Election Integrity Commission requested voter roll information.
  25. A non-partisan campaign finance watchdog group filed a complaint with the FEC alleging Price improperly used his congressional campaign fund to promote his confirmation to HHS Secretary.
  26. Center for Public Integrity reported Bannon failed to properly disclose more than $2mm in mortgage debt on his financial disclosure form.
  27. Trump’s expected pick for chief of the Wage and Hour Division of the Dept of Labor, Cheryl Stanton, was named in a lawsuit last year for allegedly not paying her house cleaners.
  28. WAPO reported that while Trump has chastised companies for outsourcing jobs and Ivanka branded herself a feminist, Ivanka’s clothing lines are exclusively produced at low-wage foreign factories, and women employees are not well treated.
  29. After Trump’s much ballyhooed deal with Carrier to keep American jobs, Indiana has lost 5k manufacturing jobs since February.
  30. WSJ reported the CEO of a OpenGov, a small start-up that Kushner’s brother has a stake in, got a seat at a WH roundtable for prominent technology-industry leaders last month. Kushner owned the stake before selling it to his brother early in the year.
  31. POLITICO reported that conservative Sinclair Broadcasting increased “must run” segments featuring former Trump adviser Epshteyn to nine times per week, across its affiliates.
  32. Sputnik, a Russian government-funded news outlet, started broadcasting on 105.5 FM last week from K-Street offices, a few blocks from the WH.
  33. Within 24 hours of announcing “The Weekly List” will be archived in the Library of Congress, I was the target of two hit pieces in Sputnik News, one in RT, and other various Russia-friendly blogs.
  34. NYT reported that Pence has quietly hosted at least four private dinners, and has more in the works, to court big donors and corporate executives.
  35. The Trump regime’s deregulation teams is full of appointees with deep industry ties. NYT and ProPublica reported on 71 appointees with industry links, including 28 with potential conflicts.
  36. Intercept reported Kushner tried to get a half-billion loan bailout for his 666 Fifth Avenue from a Qatar sovereign wealth fund, and the deal not coming to fruition may have influenced US policy towards Qatar.
  37. USA Today reported a US Golf Association exec told USGA executive committee members that Trump threatened to sue the organization if it moved the 2017 US Women’s Open from Trump‘s golf club in Bedminster.
  38. Trump tweeted: “I will be at the @USGA #USWomensOpen in Bedminster,” advertising one of his properties again.
  39. Documents released to WAPO under the FOIA show the State Dept spent more than $15k for rooms at the new Trump hotel in Vancouver.
  40. At the behest of Bannon, Trump aides Prince and Feinberg, both who benefited from military contracting, developed an alternative plan to the one proposed by the Pentagon for Afghanistan. Their plan was to rely on contractors (mostly non-American) instead of American military troops.
  41. Twitter users who were blocked by Trump’s personal account are suing him in federal court, saying he violated their First Amendment rights.
  42. Trump tweeted that Comey had “leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION” and “That is so illegal!” The Columbia law professor who received some of Comey’s memos, said the memos he received were not classified.
  43. Saturday evening, NYT reported that Donald Jr., Kushner and Manafort met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer with close Kremlin ties, at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016.
  44. Donald Jr. initially claimed the meeting was related to an adoption program. Kushner had failed to disclose the meeting in his security clearance. Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign manager at the time, had no comment on the meeting.
  45. On Sunday, NYT reported Donald Jr. met with the Veselnitskaya after being promised damaging information on Hillary. The meeting took place two weeks after Trump became the GOP nominee.
  46. On the question of whether Trump campaign colluded with Russia, NYTnoted Donald Jr.’s meeting is “the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help.”
  47. A spokesperson for Trump’s lawyer told the NYT, “the president was not aware of and did not attend the meeting.”
  48. Donald Jr. hired attorney Alan Futerfas to represent him in the Russiaprobe, adding to a long list of attorneys defending Team Trump.
  49. WAPO reported the acquaintance who set up the meeting was Rob Goldstone, who was active in the Miss Universe pageant and works as a manager for Russian pop singer, Emin Agalarov.
  50. As news was breaking on Donald Jr., Russia’s Lavrov threatened that Russia is “considering specific measures” as retribution for Trump not returning two compounds seized by the Obama administration.
  51. On Tuesday, Donald Jr. preemptively tweeted his email exchange in setting up the Trump Tower meeting. Donald Jr had been contacted by the NYT for comment, asked for more time, then tweeted.
  52. Shortly after his tweet, the NYT story broke. In addition to the emails, the story details the changing accounts by all involved parties.
  53. Per emails, Donald Jr was offered information that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” and “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
  54. Donald Jr.’s response was: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.
  55. Donald Jr. forwarded the email chain — with the subject line, “Re: Russia — Clinton — private and confidential” — to Kusher and Manafort ahead of the meeting.
  56. The email was sent by Rod Goldstone on behalf of a mutual friend, Emin Agalarov. Emin is the son of Aras Agalarov, a real estate tycoon referred to as the “Donald Trump of Russia,” who has close ties to, and was awarded the “Order of Honor of the Russian Federation” by, Putin.
  57. The meeting took place in Trump Tower, one floor below Trump’s offices.Trump continued to deny knowledge or involvement all week.
  58. According to emails, the meeting took place at 4:00 pm. Donald Jr. said it lasted 20–30 minutes. At 4:40 pm same day, Trump tweeted in response to a tweet by Hillary, “where are your 33,000 emails that you deleted?”
  59. Julian Assange tweeted, “Contacted Trump Jr this morning on why he should publish his emails (i.e with us),” indicating he has been in contact with Donald Jr.
  60. WAPO reported Donald Jr. changed his story about the meeting with Veselnitskaya four times in the first four days of the story coming to light.
  61. NYT reported Trump personally signed off on Donald Jr.’s first statement Saturday night saying his meeting with a Russian lawyer was to discuss adoption policy — a known lie.
  62. After releasing his emails, Donald Jr. gave an interview to Fox News telling his side of the story. Trump called his son “a high-quality person” and added, “I applaud his transparency.”
  63. Yahoo reported that Trump had a Moscow real estate deal with Aras Agalarov, the same Russian oligarch who set up the meeting with Veselnitskaya, to construct a Trump Tower in Moscow.
  64. A letter intent was signed by Trump, then as the presidential campaign got underway, Donald Jr. was assigned to take the lead. Ivanka also looked at spots for Trump Tower Moscow with Emin Agalarov.
  65. The deal did not happen because the Russian economy floundered, in part because of US and EU sanctions imposed after Crimea and Ukraine. Doing away with US sanctions could help put the deal back on track.
  66. In April 2016, Emin and Aras Agalarov told WAPO they wanted Trump to be elected. Emin said Trump’s election would be “an amazing breakthrough” that would forge peace between Russia and the US.
  67. CNN reported Mueller’s investigators plan to examine the meeting and email exchanges disclosed by Donald Jr. as part of their broader Russian-meddling investigation.
  68. On “The Late Show” Tuesday night, Joe Scarborough announced he is leaving the Republican Party. “It’s a shame there are so few Republicans speaking truth to power,” Scarborough tweeted.
  69. NYT reported Tuesday that Trump’s long-time personal attorney and lead counsel for the Russia probe, Kasowitz, has been the target of Trump’s frustration and ire, and may resign.
  70. ProPublica reported that as Trump’s lead attorney on the Russia probe, Kasowitz is unable to see classified information because he isn’t seeking security clearance, and may have trouble getting one.
  71. On Wednesday night, Kasowitz threatened a stranger in an email, saying “I’m on you now,” and “Watch your back, bitch,” etc. Later, he apologized through a spokesperson, saying he was working late that night.
  72. McClatchy reported that Congressional and DOJ investigators are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states.
  73. Kushner, who is already a “person of interest” for the DOJ investigations, will be investigated for his role overseeing the digital operations, and for possible cooperation with Russian efforts.
  74. Of note, the Russians knew to target women and African-Americans in two of the three decisive states, Wisconsin and Michigan. Clinton lost WI, MI and PA by a combined 77,744 votes out of 13.9 million ballots cast.
  75. WSJ reported that in light of Donald Jr. emails, US intel investigators are re-examining conversations captured in the spring of 2015 of Russian government officials discussing associates of Trump.
  76. Rep Brad Sherman of CA introduced articles of impeachment against Trump. Rep Green of TX was the only other Democrat to join.
  77. AP reported that Trump’s mysterious friend “Jim,” who Trump frequently referenced on the campaign trail and more recently ahead of his trip to Paris, may not actually exist.
  78. Trump faced heavy criticism after telling France’s first lady during his first state visit to the country, “You’re in such good shape.”
  79. Democratic members of the House Judiciary Comm sent a letter to Sessions asking why the DOJ settled a $230mm Russian money laundering case against Prevezon for $6mm two days before trial in May.
  80. Veselnitskaya represented the family of Pyotr Katsyv, whose son owns Prevezon. Democrats want to know is she was involved at any point in settlement negotiations.
  81. Prevezon was part of Russia’s largest tax fraud scheme. Magnitsky, the lawyer who exposed the alleged fraud, was jailed, tortured and killed in Russia. Veselnitskaya has been trying to undo the Act in his name.
  82. The case against Prevezon was initially brought by US attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by Trump.
  83. Axios reported Trump’s outside legal teams wants him to wall off Kushner from discussing the Russian investigation with Trump.
  84. On Thursday morning, NPR reported Sessions had defied a judge’s order by not supplying the required forms to show his foreign contacts. The court’s 30-day deadline expired Wednesday.
  85. Later that afternoon, a day late, the DOJ did release one heavily redacted page of Sessions’s SF86, showing only that he had checked a box “no” on whether he had met with any foreign governments in the past 7 years.
  86. New Republic reported that Trump’s relationship with Russia dates back to the 1980s, and over decades Russia has laundered money through Trump’s real estate and casinos.
  87. Gorka told CNN that Trump is considering returning the Russian compounds because “we want to give collaboration” a chance. US intel found evidence the compounds were used for spying on the US.
  88. Thursday, Trump said he would invite Putin to the WH at the right time. Trump also continued to not acknowledge that Russia who hacked our election, saying it could have been China or N. Korea.
  89. NYT reported that Kushner has supplemented his federal disclosure form three times, adding more than 100 foreign contact names.
  90. Chicago Tribune reported that Peter W. Smith, the GOP operative who detailed his efforts along with members of the Trump campaign to get Hillary’s deleted emails from Russian hackers, committed suicide.
  91. Smith’s interview with WSJ’s Shane Harris was the first report of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Smith’s suicide happened nine days after the interview occurred.
  92. Smith left a curious suicide note, citing a bad turn in his health, and writing, “NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER.” Harris said when he spoke to Smith, he had no indication “he was ill or planning to take his own life.
  93. NBC reported at the June 9 meeting, Veselnitskaya was accompanied by Rinat Akhmetshin a Russian-American lobbyist, and former Soviet counterintelligence officer with ongoing ties to Russian intelligence.
  94. AP confirmed that Akhmetshin attended the meeting. Donald Jr. had not disclosed Akhmetshin’s attendance, not had Kushner in his forms.
  95. Daily Beast reported Akhmetshin was previously accused in federal and state courts of orchestrating an international hacking conspiracy.
  96. Grassley, chair of the Sen Judiciary Comm, called on Donald Jr. to testify as early as next week. Grassley said he would subpoena him if necessary.
  97. Grassley filed a complaint against Akhmetshin in March, saying he was effectively engaged in lobbying work as an unregistered agent for Russian interests. Akhmetshin lobbied for Congress to repeal the Magnitsky Act.
  98. FP reported that the private email account of a top US intelligence officer working in the secretive arm of the State Dept focusing on Russia, was hacked. Russia is suspected of being behind the hack.
  99. Yahoo reported Trump lawyers knew about the emails three weeks ago, although Trump claimed he learned about them, “a couple of days ago.”
  100. Friday, CNN said there were at least 8 people at the Donald Jr./Veselnitskaya meeting.
  101. On the Friday Fox News hand-off from Shepard Smith to Chris Wallace, Smith said “Why is it lie after lie after lie?….The deception, Chris, is mind-boggling…Where are we, and why are we getting told all these lies?” Wallace answered, “I don’t know what to say.”
  102. Veselnitskaya told WSJ that she had been meeting regularly and sharing information with Russian authorities and Russia’s top prosecutor, Yuri Chaika — the “Crown prosecutor” referenced in Goldstone’s emails.
  103. Amid a legal team shake-up, Trump hired Ty Cobb to become point person inside the WH for matters related to Russia, and Kushner lawyer Jamie Gorelick stepped away from representing him on Russia.
  104. Maddow reported on a lawsuit filed by United to Protect Democracy on behalf of three citizens against Trump and Stone for their role in the public sharing of information hacked by the Russians. If it goes to trial, discovery could reveal information on how stolen info was disseminated.
  105. Friday, a judge order a retrial of the Code Pink activist who was arrested after she laughed during Sessions’s confirmation hearing.
  106. Lawyers for the only known DREAMer to be deported, filed supporting statement showing ICE agents wrongly forced him across the border.
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NYC-based street artist Andrea Cook. – photo by me in Chisinau, Moldova. 15july17.
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“Use Your Collusion, Vol. 1” by Orlando-based artist Andrew Spear.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 35: TWITTER TWAT

Week 34 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

July 8, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-34-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-a15f5f9de76b

This is arguably the most alarming weekly list so far. A plot that has played out week-by-week as Trump alienated our allies while cozying up to authoritarians, followed by his embarrassing behavior at the NATO and G7 meetings, culminated this week at the G20 with US isolationism. This videohttps://goo.gl/VR1zxi, which traces weekly not normal items, explains why Putin is the winner in this new world alignment.

This week Trump amped-up his assault on the media, including encouraging violence. With this, Trump has distracted the country and media, and taken back the narrative. In the atmosphere of chaos, this week also stands out for the number of important stories that received little or no media coverage.

  1. As more and more states refused to comply with what Trump described as his “very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL”, he questioned, “What are they trying to hide?
  2. By midweek, 44 states and DC refused to provide some or all of the voter roll data requested by Trump’s Election Integrity Commission.
  3. States are denying the request based on concerns over privacy and federal overreach, and also concern that the effort of identifying voter affiliation will be used to purge Democrats from voter rolls.
  4. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a Hatch Act complaint against Kobach, saying he used Trump’s commission to solicit political campaign money.
  5. A Maryland official, Deputy SoS Luis Borunda, resigned from Trump’s commission.
  6. Several experts on the regulatory process told The Hill that Trump’s commission may have violated the law by failing to submit the requests to states through OIRA, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act.
  7. A DOJ letter sent to 44 states’ election officials on the same day Kobach and Pence made their requests, asks states to detail their compliance with the NVRA. This request also raised concerns about voter purging.
  8. At a rally in DC Saturday night, Trump continued his attacks on the “fake” media, saying, “I’m President and they’re not.”
  9. On Sunday, Trump tweeted a video created by a Reddit user from both his personal account and the official @POTUS account, showing him violently wrestling down a person whose face is the CNN logo.
  10. The Reddit user was named “HanAssholeSolo” and his posts were full of anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic and other white supremacists materials.
  11. The Reddit user later apologized, but Trump did not. The parents and wife of the CNN reporter who covered the story received around 50 harassing phone calls. Allegedly, CNN did not defend the reporter.
  12. As Trump continued his anti-CNN rhetoric, the cable network’s anchors and executives received death threats and other harassing messages.
  13. Following Trump’s tweet, three media watchdog groups have started to do something they never imagined: documenting violent threats and actions against the media in the US.
  14. Maine’s Governor LePage said he makes up stories to mislead the press. LePage also called the media “vile” and “inaccurate.”
  15. NYT reported the Trump regime discussed using the pending merger between Time Warner and AT&T as leverage over CNN.
  16. On Thursday, Trump media ally Daily Caller reported the WH doesn’t support the merger if Zucker still heads CNN.
  17. Trump ally and Bannon patron Bob Mercer bought 2.5mm shares of Time Inc., owner of Time magazine in the first quarter of 2017. Per Week 33, David Pecker, owner of National Enquirer is also interested in Time Inc.
  18. Maddow reported that TRMS was sent a forged NSA document. Maddow speculated this was an attempt to trick her show into reporting a false story, and hence weakening her credibility and dulling that storyline.
  19. Maddow said that other media outlets may also be receiving forged documents as well, citing recently retracted stories at CNN and Vice.
  20. POLITICO reported on the Trump regime’s obsessive crackdown on leaks from the intelligence community, which has led to an “increasingly tense and paranoid working environment” in the national security community.
  21. On Sunday, protestors gathered at rallies in dozens of cities around the country to call for Trump’s impeachment.
  22. NBC reported that in Trump’s first 168 days in office, he spent 50 days at Trump properties and 36 days at Trump golf resorts.
  23. NYT reported that while working with industry players, not EPA staff, Pruitt has moved to undo, delay or block 30 environmental rules, a rollback larger in scope than any other in the agency’s 47-year history.
  24. Several states sued over the EPA’s decision to keep a Dow pesticide, which studies show can harm children’s brains, on the market. Per Week 33, Dow spent millions lobbying and donated to Trump’s inauguration.
  25. The Wisconsin assembly passed a bill which would block students from protesting conservative speakers on college campuses.
  26. NYT reported the Trump regime’s latest anti-immigrant tactic is to target undocumented parents suspected of having paid to have their children smuggled into the US.
  27. POLITICO reported that Trump insider Stephen Miller has been holding meetings with agencies on how to further curb the entry of refugees. Miller clashed with Tillerson, who demanded autonomy.
  28. A new law in Florida allows parents and residents to file complaints with school boards to challenge what’s taught in science classes.
  29. Attorneys general for 18 states and DC sued DeVos and the Dept of Education over a decision to roll back rules put in place to help students who have been defrauded by their colleges.
  30. Devos’s Dept of Education may stop publishing the list of college and universities in violation of Title IX for mishandling campus sexual assault. The Obama Administration started the list to hold schools accountable for an issue which impacts 1 in 5 college women and 1 in 20 college men.
  31. WAPO reported the WH gender pay gap until has more tripled under Trump, with female staffers earning on average 63% of what their male counterparts make. This is the biggest WH gender pay gap in decades.
  32. Female journalists were banned from the Speaker’s lobby, a room area where reporters speak to members of Congress, because their sleeveless dressed were not viewed as “appropriate attire.”
  33. In a 53 page memo to the court, Trump attorney Kasowitz argued for the dismissal of a sexual harassment lawsuit against Trump, claiming Trump cannot be sued in state court while in office.
  34. The Auschwitz Memorial condemned a political video posted by Louisiana Republican Clay Higgins, which the congressman filmed inside an Auschwitz gas chamber.
  35. At a protest outside Sen Portman’s office in Columbus, OH, a woman in a wheelchair was pushed out of her chair to the ground by a police officer.
  36. The KKK plans a rally in downtown Charlottesville today, and warned that many of its 80–100 members and supporters will be armed.
  37. Pro-Trump Twitter operatives are marketing their services to candidates and others, promising to mobilize their followers and networks for pay.
  38. Guardian reported investigators are looking into whether the Trump campaign and far-right websites coordinated with Russia in spreading fake news. Sen Warner noted key voters in swing states were targeted.
  39. Motherboard reported on an analysis of the Twitter bots that helped Trump, and found the same bots and alt-right narrative emerged in the French election against Macron.
  40. On July 4, NRP tweeted the Declaration of Independence, and was attacked by Trump supporters who called it “propaganda” and “spam.
  41. A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found Trump’s net approval with Independents has fallen by 17 points since he took office.
  42. The poll also found that the majority (54%) of Americans believe Trump did something illegal or unethical with Russia.
  43. While his predecessors Clinton, W. Bush and Obama celebrated July 4th by visiting troops, Trump spent the day on a Trump-branded golf course. McCain, Warren and Graham visited troops in Afghanistan.
  44. Despite his recusal, Sessions spoke to Fox & Friends about the Trump-Russia probe, offering advice to Mueller on hiring practices and tempo.
  45. WSJ reported the OGE will release an additional two dozen ethics waivers just filed for Trump regime members working on issues they handled in their private-sector jobs. Trump has already granted as many waivers to WH officials as Mr. Obama did in his eight years in office.
  46. The State Depart’s Office of the Inspector General said the State Dept and USAID have failed to adequately track more than $30bn of foreign aid.
  47. In a survey of 35k employees in the State Dept and USAID, workers said they were concerned about the future of their agencies and the lack of support from the Trump regime and Tillerson.
  48. An Indiana nonprofit is suing Pence’s successor for keeping residents in the dark on the deal between the Trump regime and Pence with Carrier. The group’s request for information in December went unanswered.
  49. In another sign the Trump regime won’t take civil rights seriously, Trump nominated Eric Dreiband to the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. Dreiband has spent his career defending companies from charges of discrimination.
  50. One of the DOJ’s top corporate crime watchdogs, Hui Chen, resigned, saying holding companies to standards the Trump regime wasn’t living up to was “creating a cognitive dissonance that I could not overcome.”
  51. Walter Shaub, director of the OGE resigned in frustration, six months before his term ended, saying, “It’s clear that there isn’t more I could accomplish.” Shaub and OGE have 24 items in The Weekly List.
  52. Shaub said in post-resignation interview that Trump’s ethics program is “a very serious disappointment,” and that his efforts to get basic information from the regime was “like pulling teeth.”
  53. CREW filed an ethics complaint against Kushner, saying he failed to make the required disclosure of his ownership interest in Cadre. The online real estate investment company has a value of $800mm.
  54. The Russian sanctions bill, which passed in the Senate 98–2, stalled in the House as Republican Pete Sessions, chair of the House Rules Comm, said it would make American energy companies less competitive.
  55. WSJ reported energy companies including Exxon and Chevron, and other industries, are lobbying against the Russian sanctions bill, saying it would hurt their business with Russian partners.
  56. Trump Organization renewed more than 1k web domains, including many which refer to Trump and Russia, like TrumpTowerMoscow.com., indicating possible interest in future development.
  57. Axios reported that Russian government-owned Sputnik news is coming to the DC airwaves after taking over a FM radio station. The FCC has not yet been notified according to a spokesperson.
  58. Matt Tait, who is cited in the WSJ story on possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia on Hillary’s deleted emails, wrote an op-ed, “The Time I Got Recruited to Collude with the Russians,” to tell his story.
  59. Tait said it was clear to him that Smith knew Flynn and his son, well, and that they knew the “dark web” was likely Russia but didn’t care. Tait warned it could be “part of a wider Russian campaign against the US.”
  60. Tait also received a document titled “A Demonstrative Pedagogical Summary to be Developed and Released Prior to November 8, 2016,” which list four groups involved, including group one which listed: Bannon, Conway, Clovis, Flynn and Lisa Nelson.
  61. McClatchy reported a Kremlin documents shows Kaspersky Lab, a leading global seller of anti-virus programs, has ties to Russia’s spying apparatus. Kaspersky’s certification has a FSB military intelligence unit number.
  62. Kaspersky security software is available globally, including at Target and Walmart. The company also serves as a subcontractor for US federal software contracts, and was used by the DNC last summer.
  63. CNN reported that Russia is stepping up spying efforts in the US post the US elections. Officials cited said Russia feels emboldened by the lack of a significant retaliatory response by Trump and Obama.
  64. US Intel estimates that Russia has 150 operatives in the US. Since the election, many have tried to sneak in under the guise of business.
  65. Strangely, the State Dept reportedly continues to grant temporary duty visas to suspected Russian intelligence officers, despite knowledge.
  66. AP reported on a lawsuit filed by Coalition for Good Governance, saying Georgia’s 6th Congressional election results should be voided because of previously identified problem with the touchscreen voting system.
  67. The suit cites the work of a private cybersecurity researcher who found that a misconfigured server had left Georgia’s 6.7 million voter records exposed to hackers last August.
  68. Republican SoS in Georgia, Brian Kemp blamed the media for developing a false narrative about Russia hacking, and said states are doing enough to keep elections secure and “anything to the contrary is fake news.
  69. WSJ reported that Mueller has hired an “absolute cream of the crop” team of 15 top attorneys with experience in national security, public corruption and financial crimes for the Russia probe.
  70. FT reported Russian-born Sater has agreed to co-operate with an international investigation into a money-laundering network. Per Week 32, Sater has extensive ties to organized crime and the Trump family.
  71. In their campaign for the upcoming election, Merkel’s party has dropped the reference to the US as a “friend.” Four years ago, her party referred to the US as Germany’s “most important friend” outside of Europe.
  72. Bloomberg reported China and Germany have stepped up to lead this year’s G20 summit, a role formerly held by the US.
  73. Pew Research found that 17 of the 19 G20 countries in their survey look to Merkel, not Trump, to lead in world affairs.
  74. Guardian reported Trump considered a sneak visit to Downing Street in order to avoid massive UK protests en route to or from the G20 summit. After the story broke, the WH said Trump would not visit.
  75. Instead, on his way to the G20, Trump chose to stop off at Poland, despite the new far-right government’s authoritarian leanings including cracking down on judges and the media.
  76. AP reported the Polish government promised the WH cheering crowds as part of the invitation. Members of the ruling party and pro-government activists bussed in groups of people for Trump’s speech.
  77. Trump gave another of his dystopian speeches in Poland, saying Western civilization was at risk of decline because of “radical Islamic terrorism” and government bureaucracy.
  78. At a news conference in Poland, Trump said he thinks meddling in the US election was done by Russia, but “it could have been other people in other countries” and that “nobody really knows for sure.”
  79. Also on his trip to Poland, Trump continued to dismiss and belittle US intelligence, saying, “Do we even have seventeen intelligence agencies?
  80. The day before Trump was set to meet with Putin, seemingly as a bargaining chip, The Moscow Times reported the Russian embassy to the US is accusing the US of “kidnapping” a man accused of cyber-fraud.
  81. Ahead of his meeting with Putin, top Senate Democrats sent a letter to Trump saying not raising Russia’s interference in our election would be “a severe dereliction of the duty of the office to which you were elected.”
  82. LA Times reported that in preparing Trump for his meeting with Putin, aids had written a list of “tweet-length sentences,” which summarize the main points.
  83. Trump met with Mexico’s Pena Nieto at the G20. After the meeting, Trump was asked if Mexico will pay for the wall to which he responded, “absolutely.” Mexico’s foreign minister said the wall was not discussed.
  84. Friday, without provocation or reason, Trump tweeted a random lieabout Podesta: “Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!”
  85. At the G20, Trump and Putin met for 2:16 hours off-camera, behind closed doors. The meeting was originally scheduled to last 30 minutes.
  86. Only Tillerson and Trump were present from the US side, despite media speculation that McMaster and Fiona Hill would be included.
  87. Lavrov and Tillerson gave different accounts of what happened behind closed doors. Lavrov said Trump told Putin some circles in America were “exaggerating” allegations of Russian interference in the US election.
  88. Sally Yates tweeted Trump’s refusal to confirm Russian interference“insults career intel pros & hinders our ability to prevent in future.”
  89. Tillerson’s version differed, but both said they agreed to put whatever happened behind them: “There was not a lot of re-litigating of the past.” Tillerson added, “This is a very important relationship.
  90. Russia faces no consequences from Trump for interfering in our election. It was unclear if Trump returned the two Russian compounds seized by Obama as punishment for Russia interfering in our election.
  91. In an op-ed, “Trump Caves to Putin,” conservative journalist Stephen Hayes laid out an indictment of how Trump bowed to Putin on Russian interference and foreign policy. Elected Republicans however were silent.
  92. AP reported Saturday that Putin said, “he thinks Trump believes his denial of Russian meddling in US vote, but better to ask Trump himself.”
  93. Ivanka took her father’s seat at a G20 meeting on Saturday. Normally, government ministers or senior officials would take such a role.
  94. Trump isolated the US from other G20 countries on a series of policies ranging from climate to free trade.
  95. The US abstained from signing onto the G20 communique on climate-related issues, the sole country at the summit to do so.
  96. As the summit came to a close, leaders feared for that the G20 summits may be ineffective while Trump is in office. President Macron said, “Our world has never been so divided.”
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Artist: Subdude in London, England

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