Week 29 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
June 3, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-29-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-c9e9f26fc799
This was an abbreviated week with Memorial Day and Congress out of session. Republicans were largely in hiding. Without the background noise in DC, two major themes played out: the spreading Russia crisis, and the shaping of a new world order.
Even before Megyn Kelly’s prime-time interview of Putin, Russia has become a national obsession. Several bombshells on Trump-Russia broke this week, as the collusion puzzle continues to piece together. And seemingly at Putin’s behest, a new world order is shaping with Trump distancing himself from our democratic allies, and cozying up to brutal authoritarian states.
As the Trump-Russia scandal spread, Donald Jr, Eric and Eric’s wife Lara
met with GOP leaders to discuss strategy. Donald Jr and Eric were supposed to steer clear from politics while running the family business. SoS Tillerson, Exxon’s former CEO, was present in Saudi Arabia at the same time
Exxon’s current CEO was signing a major deal with state-owned Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC). The Trump regime planned to
quietly sell $1.2mm of semiautomatic handguns to Ergodan’s security guards. After these guards beat American protestors at the Turkish embassy in DC, members of Congress objected. Belgian newspaper
Le Soir reported that during his Brussels visit, Trump complained to the Belgian PM about his difficulties in setting up golf courses in the EU. In the final leg of his trip, Trump continued to ignore US press. Trump was the
only G7 leader to not hold a press conference after the summit. The WH
omitted the name of the husband of Luxembourg’s gay PM from the caption of a photo taken at the NATO summit. It was later corrected. Merkel warned Europeans that the US and Britain are no longer reliable partners, and that
Europe “must take its fate into its own hands.” Macron said his prolonged,
white-knuckled handshake with Trump was “not innocent,” telling French media, “we must show that we will not make small concessions, even symbolic ones.” In an interview with Megyn Kelly,
Putin it would be a good thing for Moscow if NATO were completely “falling apart.” In sharp contrast to Trump, on Monday France’s Macron stood on stage next to Putin and called Russian media outlets “
organs of influence and propaganda.” France also accepted LGBTQ refugees from Chechnya. While visiting Australia,
McCain sought to reassure our important ally, telling them Trump’s actions have “unsettled many Americans as well.”
CNN reported that Trump’s return from his first foreign trip finds him lonely and angry. One source said, “I see him emotionally withdrawing. He’s gained weight. He doesn’t have anybody whom he trusts.” A furious Trump threatened a WH shake-up again and again this week
amid the broadening Russia crisis; however it also became clear that few are interested in working for Trump. Trump’s
Communications Director quit Tuesday. Other than that, no changes were made this week despite all the drama. Kellyanne Conway’s husband,
George Conway, withdrew his name from consideration to lead the Civil Division of the DOJ.
Reuters reported that Trump FBI director search has become “chaotic,”and said Trump interviewed candidates for 10–20 minutes, and in one case, mostly talked about himself. AP reported Trump
gave his cell number to world leaders and urged them to call him directly, raising concerns about security and secrecy. Trump’s Twitter account
experienced a strange surge of followers in the month of May. Nearly half his new followers are likely fake accounts. Rolling back 40 years of progress,
the Trump regime plans to disband the Labor Department division responsible for policing discrimination among federal contractors. Also as part of this move,
Trump will also roll back protections for the LGBTQ community, and for victims of campus sexual assault. Amid racial tensions in Portland, OR after a two men were killed by a white supremacist while coming to the aid of Muslims women, a Republican said the party
should use militia groups at public events. Three days after the Portland attack, Trump tweeted attack was “unacceptable;” although
he did so through the @POTUS Twitter account, not the personal account he typically uses.
One hundred eighth graders on a field trip to DC refused to pose with Paul Ryan. One student added, “I don’t want to be associated with him.”
WNYC reported Trump SoHo plans layoffs, citing in the past five months room and event bookings are down sharply. As Trump lost the appeal in federal court on his second Muslim Ban, the regime gave US embassies broad discretion to
limit travelers through intensified screening measures for visa applicants. In another act of violence against US media,
several windows at the Lexington Herald-Leader were shattered by bullets. Texas’s House passed SB 4,
which attempts to abolish “sanctuary cities” by making local officials who refuse to enforce the Trump’s regime’s extremist measures liable and subject to removal from office. A Texas state representation, Matt Rinaldi,
called ICE on SB 4 protesters. He also threatened to “put a bullet in one of his colleague’s heads” during a scuffle on the House floor. A man arrested for failing to pay fare on Minneapolis light rail
faces deportation after undergoing inappropriate questioning by a transit officer on his immigration status. The exchange was captured on video.
In Michigan, ICE agents ate breakfast at an Ann Arbor restaurant, complimented the chef on the waffles and bacon and eggs and toast, and then went to the kitchen area and arrested three restaurant workers. A
Guardian article described ICE agents as “out of control” and “getting worse” as arrests of non-violent undocumented immigrants explode across the country. Agents have also been accused of targeting protestors. The Trump regime
filed a petition with the SCOTUS to appeal the second Muslim Ban rulings. Ironically the Ban, marketed as imperative to protecting America, had a 90 day tenor. It is now over 120 days later. A
noose was found at the segregation exhibition of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. NYC sculptor Alex Gardena, upset about the Fearless Girl statue looking at the bull,
placed a statue of a urinating dog next to the girl. Signaling his lack of knowledge on governing and his continued authoritarian bent, Trump
tweeted the Senate ‘should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved.’
China arrested one activist, and two others disappeared, after investigating alleged labor abuse at a factory that makes Ivanka’s shoes. Sen Judiciary Comm chair Grassley called for an investigation into a
Chinese co marketing investments in a property partly managed by Kushner using EB-5 visas (granting visas for $500k investments). McCain said
Russia is a bigger threat to the US than ISIS, and said “We have done nothing since the election last November to respond to Vladimir Putin’s attempt to change the outcome of our elections.”
POLITICO reported as Mueller ramps up his Russia investigation, Trump aids are responsible for preserving materials, despite many using auto-delete apps. Destroying materials could expose aids to criminal charges. On
Meet the Press, Clapper said of the Kushner-Russia reports his warning light was clearly on, and “all of us in the intelligence community, very concerned about the nature of these approaches to the Russians.”
NYT reported that the FBI is investigating Kushner’s motives for meeting with Gorkov, head of VEB, a Russian state bank, and whether it had to do with Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. CNN reported on intercepted conversations during the 2016 election which reveal
Russians believed they had “derogatory” information on Trump and some of his tops aides that could be used to influence them. At a
Recode conference, Hillary said the Russians “ could not have known how best to weaponize that information” without help from Americans. Trump’s close confidant and personal attorney, Michael Cohen was asked by
House and Senate investigators “to provide information and testimony” on contacts he had with Russia. So far Cohen has declined. The House Intel Comm
sent a preliminary request for information to former Trump aid, Boris Epshteyn.
The New Yorker reported that Trump reached out to ally Roger Stone, who is at the center of congressional and FBI investigations, on May 11th and told him, “good job.”
CNN reported that Congress is investigating a possible third undisclosed meeting between Sessions and Kislyak. The
House Intel Comm issued seven subpoenas Wednesday on the Trump-Russia probe — four subpoenas related to Russia investigation, and three were issued to the NSA, FBI and CIA on “unmasking.” Schiff said
no Democrats were consulted on the “unmasking” subpoenas. Democrats on the House Intel Comm said that Nunes violated his Russian recusal by issuing these subpoenas. The WH finally disclosed waivers granted.
VOX reported that Trump has granted more lobbyist waivers in 4 months than Obama did in 8 years! The
waiver granted to Bannon for communicating with Breitbart may have violated ethics rules, as it was granted retroactively. WH Office of Management Director Mulvaney said
the day of the CBO “has probably come and gone.” It has been
36 days since the State Dept held a daily press briefing.
POLITICO reported the WH ordered agencies not to comply with Democrat’s oversight requests, as Republicans fear the information could be used against Trump. None of these requests have been honored so far. Trump tweeted at 12:06 a.m.: “
Despite the constant negative press covfefe…” While Twitter stayed awake lambasting Trump, the tweet remained up until morning, when it was replaced by a humorous version. When Spicer was asked about the Trump tweet the next day, he refused to admit wrong or a mistake instead saying, “
The president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.” Amid outrage by corporate CEOs, US and international politicians and experts, and a clear
majority of US citizens, Trump formally withdrew from the Paris Accord with another of his hallmark dystopian speeches. While delivering his speech, Trump referred to a
casino robbery in a Manila casino as an “act of terrorism.” This was a false statement. Trump also
bragged in his speech about adding one million jobs. The actual number is closer to 600k. Trump’s top economic adviser Cohn said Trump was using the ADP number, ignoring its own government report.
May’s nonfarm payroll number came in Friday well below expectations (138k actual vs. 185k expected). After Trump pulled from the Paris Accord, Ivanka sought to recreate her image, tweeting
support for the LGBTQ community and being featured as the “ most powerful Jewish woman.” Both were met with outrage. A poll by
POLITICO/Morning Consult found support for Trump impeachment is rising: 43% this week, up from 38% last week.
WAPO reported that the Trump regime is moving to return the two US compounds the Obama administration had taken away from Russia as punishment for interfering in the 2016 election.
Yahoo reported that days after taking office, the Trump regime tasked the State Dept with finding ways to lift economic sanctions, to return the two US compounds, and to relieve tensions Russia As these were the same State Dept employees that helped develop punitive measures,
they were alarmed and rallied congressional allies.
WAPO reported that while Kushner and VEB’s Gorkov have given different accounts for why they met, shortly after their meeting, Gorkov met with Putin in Japan. Congressional investigators are looking into whether
Kushner was vulnerable to Russian influence because his real estate holding are over-leveraged, and whether this led to his meeting with Gorkov.
WAPO reported that Kushner financed a luxury skyscraper in Jersey City using federal loans meant to help poor, job-starved areas.
NBC reported that five current and former officials say Trump participated in a private meeting in April 2016 with Kushner, Sessions and Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel. Nigel Farage is a “
person of interest” in the FBI’s Trump-Russia scandal, in part for meeting with Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in March. James Comey is scheduled to testify in front of the Senate Intel Comm next Thursday, and is
expected to say that Trump asked him to back off the investigation of Flynn.
ABC reported that Comey is angry, saying Rosenstein and Sessions never relayed any concerns about his job performance before firing him.
NYT reported that Trump could try to block Comey’s from testifying citing executive privilege. As of today, Trump has not decided if he will try to block Comey’s testimony. Going a step further than Trump,
Putin said maybe “patriotically minded” private Russian hackers meddled in the US election DOJ’s
Weissman, who oversaw foreign bribery and bank cases, is joining Mueller’s Russia investigation team.
AP reported Mueller has taken over a separate DOJ criminal probe into Manafort, which predates the 2016 election. Mueller may also
expand his inquiry to investigate Sessions’s and Rosenstein’s roles in firing Comey.
Reuters reported special counsel will also probe Flynn’s ties to Turkey.
POLITICO reported the Trump regime is pushing Congress for legislative victories as Trump grows impatient; but as the Trump-Russia scandal heats up, it’s unlikely any legislation will be passed in coming months. Today,
Americans in 150+ cities will participate in the “March for Truth”to demand the urgency and transparency on Trump-Russia.
A closing note: the number of items we have normalized and/or forgotten about from the early lists is astounding. Each week brings new bombshells and scandals – stories that in normal times would be front page news for weeks or months — for example,
Pence’s (Week 16) and Tillerson’s (Week 19) email scandals. In the chaos, we have forgotten.
And to the increasing number of people equating our loathing of this person with being anti-American, I’ll just say that that is the absolute OPPOSITE of what we are. On the other hand, a true measure of being anti-American is actually dodging military service, not three times, not four, but FIVE times (!) when mandated to serve this country like everyone else at the time. Other examples of him being anti-American, hmm…how about…aligning with dictatorships (Russia, Philippines, Turkey) and destroying western relationships. He despises freedom and he’s convincing uninformed people (i.e. Fox News viewers) that if they don’t blindly follow his regime, then they are against our country. FALSE. We are FOR our country. You deserve better. Believe in your ability to THINK.
As a true minimalist, and as airport security standards were becoming more stressful and cumbersome, I found myself seeking solutions for traveling with as little as possible at the outset of this year. The first thing I did, was ask myself how I could have one lightning cable to sync devices (not 3 or 4 – every reduction of items counts when your aim is to travel as lightly as possible, trust me!) Then, I wondered how I could have something that was easily accessible (not having to search numerous pockets in bags for it) and I found this Nomad Carabiner-Lightning Clip. It truly has been the answer to my travel quandary. https://www.hellonomad.com/carabiner-lightning?gclid=Cj0KEQjwmIrJBRCRmJ_x7KDo-9oBEiQAuUPKMl5LdtR4h8W4NM3jLgavFPceIxNwXGbnFOB3U3tMCy0aAtuo8P8HAQ
I love it because I can clip it on and take it off of any bag at any moment, depending on my needs. It is so compact that I don’t have to deal with unruly cables when I sync my Mini iPad to my laptop. There’s no “mess” when I need to do this quickly, like on a short layover in an airport or a transfer at a bus station (and it doesn’t draw attention to all of the devices I’m carrying, with cables expansively spread – in case ‘strangers’ are curious and want to illegally obtain my belongings.)
Thus far this year, I’ve taken it to Beirut, Lebanon, on my street art adventures in New York City, on my trail adventures in upstate New York, on graffiti hunts in Orlando, Florida, and on bike riding excursions along the beach coast in Florida. It is durable, the clip stays strong, it hasn’t loosened at all. It’s capable of rugged living, for sure, but it is not certified to serve as an actual climbing carabiner if you’re planning an Everest trip, let’s say. For more information on this incredible minimalist travel accessory, please check it (and all of the other products they offer!) out at: https://www.hellonomad.com
Strong and durable clip.
Charging and syncing in a hotel in Beirut, Lebanon. Feb2017
At the beach. April 2017.
Being “rugged” in upstate New York. March 2017.
As a keychain…
With the iPAD mini. (Apple MFi approved)
Hanging out on a rucksack on Florida’s Space Coast. May 2017
More charging and syncing in Cocoa Beach, FL. May 2017.
Week 26 of donald trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
May 13, 2017
What stands out in Week 26 is our normalization of a leader who bold-faced lies to us, and the ease with which Trump continues to indulge in this behavior. We’ve entered uncharted territory: Trump fired the FBI director in charge of investigating him and his regime’s ties to Russia, and admitted he did so because of the investigation.
The other take-away of Week 26 is what you missed. We’re in such a state of constant chaos, it’s easy to overlook the ways the Trump regime continues to tear the fabric of our values, to loot every cent they can, and to move us further away from democracy.
Despite Russian involvement,
Macron defeated Le Pen handily in France’s presidential election, marking the third European country (Austria, Netherlands) to reject the Trump-like candidate since the US election. A shocking
Guardian article detailed the use of data to influence the outcome of Brexit and the US election. Names tied to the scandal include Trump, Farage, Thiel, Bannon, and Mercer and his Cambridge Analytica.
The article also warned that the Trump regime is already weaponizing US data for future elections, citing the company that helped Trump win has “been awarded contracts in the Pentagon and the US state.” While in Beijing for a meeting with potential investors for the family’s
New Jersey project, Kushner’s sister mentioned Jared and the EB-5 visa program to market the investment. EB-5 visas allow immigrants a path to a green card for investing $500,000 in a project that creates US jobs.
The Kushner family later apologized after being accused of kleptocracy by the media. A WAPO researcher who attended the meeting tweeted, “
I was threatened, harassed and forced to delete recordings and photos of The Kushner family recruiting Chinese investors in US Green cards.” Page said he would
no longer cooperate with the Senate Intel Comm’s request, saying he wants information he requested on the “unjustified civil rights violations by the Clinton/Obama regime.” Eric Trump reportedly told a reporter back in 2014, when asked about funding golf courses, “
Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.” Eric Trump later denied having said this, but Donald Jr. had similarly said at a real estate conference in 2008: “
We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
Trump-connected lobbyists are making millions at major companies and foreign governments by touting their access to the Trump regime.
Goldman Sachs hired a top Trump campaign staffer, David Urban, as a lobbyist. Eight Senate Democrats asked regulators to investigate
whether Trump friend Carl Icahn violated insider trading laws in the biofuel market. Wilbur Ross doubled down on the Trump regime rhetoric with Canada on tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber, and warned Canada that “
threats of retaliatory action” are “inappropriate.”
Nikki Haley issued a strong statement on Venezuela, citing Maduro’s ‘disregard for the fundamental rights of his own people.’ As Venezuela’s state-owned oil company donated $500k to Trump inauguration, the rest of the regime has been silent. The State Depart
has yet to resume daily press briefings. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel
revived the deleted EPA climate change webpage, which as cited in Week 24 was mysteriously taken down on a Friday night, and put the information up on Chicago’s website. Minutes after an
ABC reporter asked Spicer why Trump’s campaign website still calls for a Muslim ban, that reference was deleted. Despite Trump’s promises to keep jobs in the US, Indiana’s Rexnord — in Pence’s home state nearby Carrier which Trump visited to much ballyhoo —
is moving jobs to Mexico. Trump tweeted to blame Obama. On
CBS’s “60 Minutes,” residents in Granger, IN l amented their neighbor, who had no criminal record and had been in the US for 20-years, being deported and separated from his wife and children, who are all citizens.
AP reported the Trump regime targeted Haitian immigrants, seeking evidence of crimes as an excuse to deport them. A bill that passed the Texas house would
allow adoption agencies to reject families on the basis of religion or sexual orientation. Dan Heyman, a
Public News Service reporter, was arrested Tuesday night in West Virginia for persistently asking Secretary Price questions.
Price commended the police who arrested the journalist. EPA dismissed five scientists from a major scientific review board, and
replaced them with representatives from industries the EPA regulates. Later in the week,
two EPA science board members resigned in protest. Trump signed an EO creating
a commission on ‘election integrity’ to re-examine Hillary’s 3 million vote win and “fraud.” The commission will be led by Pence and noted xenophobe Kobach of Kansas.
Rep Lewis issued a statement on the commission, saying “It’s only been 54 years since we were jailed, beaten, and killed for trying to cast a vote.” Reversing progress,
Sessions instituted a tougher new criminal charging and sentencing policy — a noted failure from the 1980 and 1990s. Sessions policy will disproportionately impact people of color.
ICE arrested 1,378 suspected “gang members” in what Fox Newscharacterized as the largest gang sweep ever.
Trump tweeted that China ‘just agreed that the U.S. will be allowed to sell beef, and other major products’ into China again. This deal was brokered by Obama last September.
FP reported on Bannon’s attempts to get NSA McMaster fired, calling it the WH “Games of Thrones for morons.” McMaster remains one of the few Trump senior officials who was not part of the campaign. When asked about NSC’s duties at a daily press briefing, McMaster said “
a lot of what we do at the NSC is trying to keep up with the President.” During the day of the Yates/Clapper hearing, Trump sent a total of 7 tweets at Yates, including one from the @POTUS account.
CNN anchors Dana Bash and John King likened
Trump’s tweets ahead of the hearing to “witness intimidation.” Yates testified that she met with WH counsel McGahn twice to warn him that
Flynn had lied to Pence about his conversations with the Russian envoy and therefore Pence’s public statements were false. Yates warned McGahn that Flynn was compromised and could be blackmailed by the Russians.
Yates met with McGahn on January 26 and 27, and was fired on Monday, January 30, allegedly for saying she would not defend the Muslim ban. Despite her warning,
Flynn remained as Trump NSA for 18 days, sitting in on important foreign meetings and receiving classified information. The day after the Yates/Clapper hearing, Sen Graham said based on what he heard,
he wants to investigate Trump’s business dealings. After
Trump blamed Obama for Flynn having security clearance, NBC reported Flynn never received the broader security clearance required for an NSA. Trump briefly changed his Twitter cover Monday night to a statement that Clapper said ‘
there is “no evidence” of collusion w/Russia and Trump.’ Trump repeated this lie all week, including in a Friday morning tweet. On Friday, Clapper told Andrea Mitchell that
he didn’t say what Trump claimed.
ProPublica reported that part of Comey’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Comm on Huma Abedin was inaccurate. The FBI issued corrections just hours before Trump fired Comey. Following Clapper’s testimony on Monday, t
he Senate Intel Comm asked Treasury Dept agency FinCEN for more information on Trump’s business dealings.
WSJ reported Friday FinCEN will provide info on businesses owned by Trump and family members to the Senate Intel Comm and the FBI. Ranking member Wyden is interested in shell companies and money laundering through property transfers.
Vanity Fair reported that FBI sources said there are multiple inquiries in progress, including the cyber investigation and the business side. Bharara would have been investigating the business side as US AG SDNY. Late Friday night, the
US Attorney SDNY Twitter account tweeted from acting AG Kim, ‘We will not allow the US financial system to be used to launder proceeds of crimes committed anywhere-here or in Russia.’ On Friday,
a bi-partisan group of 178 former US AGs and asst US AGs of SDNY wrote a letter to Rosenstein calling for a Special Prosecutor Law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius provided a letter showing Trump has limited business dealings with Russia.
ABC reported Morgan, Lewis has deep ties to Russia and received a “Russia Law Firm of the Year” award in 2016. Trump’s initial stated basis for firing Comey was a letter from AG Sessions and Deputy AG Rosenstein, relating to Hillary’s emails. Of note, Sessions had agreed to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation.
Comey became the third person, after Yates and Bharara,
fired by Trump while investigating him. Mary McCord who was the DOJ assistant AG overseeing the Trump-Russia probe also resigned without explanation. Shortly after the firing,
CNN reported grand jury subpoenas for business records have been issued to Flynn as part of the FBI’s Russia investigation. The
Senate Intel Comm also subpoenaed Flynn after he declined to comply with their April 28th letter unless he was offered immunity Trump’s
popularity hit a new low in a Quinnipiac poll: 36% approve, 58% disapprove. The poll was conducted before the Comey firing. The morning after firing Comey,
Tillerson and then Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.
Lavrov scolded Andrea Mitchell for asking Tillerson a question — “Who was giving you your manners, you know?” Tillerson did not intervene. Trump’s meeting took place at the WH, and included Lavrov and Kislyak.
Photo credited to Russian news agency TASS emerged, showing of a joyous meeting. US media was excluded from both meetings. The WH readout of the meeting with Lavrov
did not mention Kislyak. If not for Russian new agency photos, no one would know he was there.
POLITICO reported the idea to exclude US press came from Putin. As did the insistence for the meeting at the WH. The Senate Intelligence Committee
invited Comey to testify next Tuesday. He declined for now, saying he needed some time off first.
NYT reported that days before the firing, Comey had asked Deputy AG Rosenstein for a significant increase in resources for the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the US election. General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and NSA, said of Trump’s successive firing of Yates, Bharara and Comey, “
…it’s beginning to feel a little bit like Nicaragua around here.”
FT said of Comey’s firing, “ Putin chalked up another victory,” as Trump’s action resembles that of a non-democracy. Trump claimed that
he followed the recommendation of his Deputy AG Rosenstein that Comey be fired over his handling of Hillary’s emails. By the next day, leaks led to multiple stories which contradicted that claim. This story would change again and again in the coming days — leaving surrogates having lied to the media. Pence said Trump fired Comey at the
“recommendation of the Deputy AG,” seven times during a presser.
WAPO reported that in fact Trump made a decision to fire Comey, and then met with Sessions and Rosenstein to craft a plan for how. Trump was totally unprepared for the media explosion and political backlash. Trump himself said in a
NBC interview Thursday that he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he fired Comey, saying “…Russia is a made up story.”
WAPO also reported that Trump was angry that Comey would not back his false Obama wiretapping claim, and that Comey focused on the Trump-Russia probe and not leaks.
Reuters reported that Trump was infuriated that Comey would not preview his Senate testimony for Trump, Sessions and Rosenstein ahead of the May 3rd hearing.
NYT reported that Trump and Comey’s dislike each another. Comey told associated that Trump was “outside the realm of normal,” even “crazy.”
WSJ reported that Comey had started getting daily instead of weekly briefings in the past three weeks due to potential evidence of collusion.
WSJ also reported that on Monday, Comey briefed lawmakers on his request to boost the investigation, and requested additional personnel from Rosenstein. In an open-letter to Rosenstein,
20 attorney generals called for an independent investigation, saying Trump’s firing of Comey was a violation of the public trust.
Trump abandoned plans to visit the FBI after the Comey firing. According to NBC, Trump was told agents might not provide a warm reception.
McClatchy reported Comey sought to expand his Trump-Russia probe to include Manafort, citing Manafort earned $80–100mm for political and business consulting work done for clients, including a Russian billionaire. Rachel Maddow reported that despite earlier indications he would do so, Manafort has yet to register as a foreign agent. Also, Sessions would not confirm if he has recused himself from matters involving Manafort.
WSJ reported the Justice Dept requested Manafort’s bank records as part of a probe into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 election.
WSJ also reported that NY AG Schneiderman and Manhattan DA Vance have been examining real-estate transactions by Mr. Manafort. On Thursday, acting FBI Director McCabe testified at a Sen Intel Comm open, televised hearing. McCabe said
he will not update the WH on the Russian investigation. McCabe contradicted the Trump regime’s assertion that Comey was not well-liked at the FBI, saying “
the vast majority of employees enjoyed a deep, positive connection to Director Comey.” Also contradicting WH claims, McCabe called the Trump-Russia investigation “
highly significant.” Trump still claimed on Thursday that
he had spoken to Comey three times about whether he was under investigation. When Sen Collins asked if that would standard practice, McCabe answered, “It is not.”
POLITICO reported Rosenstein arrived at the Senate Intel Comm’s office while the open, televised hearing was taking place. Burr and Warner left the hearing, for what Burr said was a meeting “we can’t push off.” Sarah Flores,
DOJ spokesperson lied that the meeting with Burr was previously planned, and is “nothing unusual.”
NYT reported that at a WH dinner shortly after Trump took office, at Trump’s request, Comey declined to pledge his loyalty or discuss the Trump-Russia investigation. The dinner took place on January 27,
the day after Yates initially informed the WH counsel that Flynn was compromised and subject to blackmail. Rudy Giuliani, who was also photographed at Trump Hotel DC the night of the Comey firing,
was given a May 19 deadline by a judge in Detroit to produce his memo for Trump on the Muslim Ban. In a series of erratic early morning tweets Friday, Trump threatened to cease press daily briefings, and tweeted ‘
Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!’ A source close to Comey said he is “
not worried about any tapes.”
Presidential historian Michael Beschloss noted in a tweet, “Presidents are supposed to have stopped routinely taping visitors without their knowledge when Nixon’s taping system was revealed in 1973.” Top House and Senate Democrats demanded that
Trump release any tapes of communication between he and Comey. Chaffetz asked the DOJ Inspector General to look at Comey’s firing. Democrats also asked him to look into whether Sessions has recused himself and whether the FBI investigation into Russia is properly staffed.
Durbin and Feinstein called on Rosenstein to resign if he refuses to appoint a special counsel. Klobuchar said Senators plan next week to further push this demand in close doored meetings.
On the backs of visit by Duterte and the Russian envoy,
Trump will host brutal authoritarian Erdogan for a WH visit on May 16.
Bumper sticker in a car window in Cocoa Beach, FL 11may17
Week 23 of Donald Trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
April 22, 2017
This week the Trump-Russia scandal continued to unfold, but that wasn’t the big story. What stands out in Week 23 is the kleptocracy — a pattern of conflicts of interest and pay-to-play — and the Trump regime’s utter irreverence towards ethics and past standards.
As the 100-day mark approaches, Trump has no legislative accomplishments and his foreign policy can best be described as an embarrassing mess. Instead, Trump seems focused on enriching himself, his regime, and his business contacts. The pace and boldness of corruption whiff of a man who is aware his days in this gig are numbered.
Seven weeks have passed since Trump’s tweet accusing Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower. He has yet to offer any evidence or apologize.
American Oversight, a group of liberal lawyers,
is suing the DOJ and FBI seeking proof for Trump’s wiretapping claim. Trump has yet to offer any evidence or apologize for his accusations that Susan Rice committed a crime by spying on his campaign.
The New Yorker reported not only did bi-partisan members of the House find nothing in the Rice intercepts, but also the rationale came clear: per an intelligence source, the WH said, “ We are going to mobilize to find something to justify the President’s tweet that he was being surveilled.’ Trump hosted a disastrous Easter Egg Roll, including
telling the children, “We will be stronger and bigger and better as a nation than ever before,” and forgetting to lift his hand to his heart during the National Anthem. NYT reported on
violations and a raft of potential conflicts-of-interest as Trump appoints former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants to craft policies in industries where they formerly worked.
OGE director Shaub noted that Trump rolled back an Obama requirement that appointees not accept jobs in agencies they recently lobbied, and that Trump has granted waivers allowing appointees to take up matters which benefit their former clients.
WAPO reported 168 corporate interests have made requests to Trump for regulatory relief, all likely to be granted, “especially those designed to advance environmental protection and safeguard worker rights.” On Tax Day, breaking precedent with every modern-day president, Trump did not release his tax returns, nor explain why.
WSJ reported that in the first quarter, Trump’s campaign funds paid $500k to Trump’s companies including hotels, golf clubs and restaurants. Trump
raised $107mm for his inaugural, doubling Obama, although Trump’s crowds and festivities were markedly smaller. It’s unclear where unspent money has gone, while numerous “pay-to-play” stories emerge. For example, Rachel Maddow reported on a $666,ooo gift from a businessman named R. W. Habboush, which led to a meetings between
his son and both an NSC official and Bannon to discuss how to open up business with Venezuela, which is heavily sanctioned by the US. Trump dropped his campaign promise to let Medicare negotiate bulk discounts on prescription drugs
after meeting with pharma lobbyists. Ivanka was
granted China trademarks during dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago. As reported in Week 22, Trump also changed his position saying China does not manipulate its currency.
FT reported Manafort stepped in to the China action, advising Chinese billionaire Jiehe on how to access to Trump’s $1tn infrastructure plan.
CREW filed an amended complaint to its emoluments challenge against Trump in federal court, adding new plaintiffs who claim they’ve been “directly harmed by a loss of business and wages.” Dow Chemical
donated $1mm to Trump’s inauguration, then asked the regime to ignore a study on its pesticide which was “originally derived from a nerve gas developed by Nazi Germany,” Trump billionaire outside adviser, Steve Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone which has significant holdings in China,
stands to gain from US-China policies he helped to shape.
USA Today reporters pieced together that Trump companies own 400+ luxury condos and homes worth $250mm up for sale or rent presenting people, corporations or foreign interests an opportunity gain influence through purchases. Further, since Trump launched his presidential bid, Trump companies have sold at least 58 units for $90mm —
almost half to LLCs. Since Election Day, 14 units have been sold for $23mm — half to LLCs. The
House Oversight Committee sent a letter asking Trump for details on how and when the Trump will donate profits made from foreign government officials. Reps Cummings and Chaffetz signed the letter. Two days earlier, without explanation,
Chaffetz said he would not run for re-election in 2018, and that he may leave office early to return to the private sector. Despite denials by the Trump,
Erik Prince’s had close ties to the Trump regime, including riding the Acela with Conway, providing advice to Trump’s inner-circle including Flynn, and entering Trump Tower through the back entrance. As mentioned in Week 21, Prince had a one-on-one meeting with a Putin insider in Seychelles on January 11. He is also Betsy DeVos’s brother.
Without explanation, the national security official l
eading the DOJ investigation into whether the Trump regime colluded with Russia, abruptly resigned.
CNN reported that the FBI used information in the Steele dossier, which they independently confirmed, for their FISA warrant against Page.
CNN reported Russia tried to use Trump advisers, including Page, to infiltrate the campaign. Page is one of several advisers US and European intel found to be in contact with Russian officials during the campaign. The DOJ said is it preparing charges against
WikiLeaks founder Assange, with Sessions saying Assange’s arrest is a priority. Strangely, the Trump regime has turned on Assange, after lauding him during the campaign. Sessions
left open the possibility of prosecuting US news organizations for publishing leaked information, and stories on the Trump-Russia scandal continue to pour out. As part of a custody battle,
” As noted in Week 19, InfoWars’ Alex Jones said he is a “performance artist. InfoWars and Breitbart are under FBI investigation for their roles in Russian hacking of our election.
NBC compiled a seating chart of attendees at Putin’s December 2015 RT celebration dinner. Other than F lynn seated next to Putin, Stein was also at Putin’s table and Assange appeared via satellite. NBC also reported on efforts by RT to promote Stein (and hurt Hillary) in the primary. The House Intel Committee announced it will reopen its Trump-Russia probe ex Nunes.
Yates, Comey, Rogers, Brennan and Clapper have all been invited to testify. Nikolai Andrushchenko, a Russian journalist and Putin critic,
was beaten to death by strangers. He is the 12th “mysterious” Russian death in recent months. Like their interference in the US,
Russian sources are flooding French social media with fake news ahead of France’s election.
Reuters reported on a Putin-linked think tank that very purposefully and carefully orchestrated an attack on the US election. Fake news, pro-Kremlin bloggers and cyber-attacks were all part of the plan. Exxon sought a
US waiver to resume drilling in their Russian jv with Rosneft — a deal forged by Tillerson, who is ring fenced from Exxon for only one year. Amid outcry, permission was denied by the Treasury Dept.
The UK Election Commission has launched an investigation of Farage’s Leave.EU for its funding. The involvement of Cambridge Analytica — which also allegedly has ties to Bannon and the Mercers and the Russian hacking of the US election — was not declared to the election watchdog. Sessions said he was
“amazed” that a US judge “on an Island in the Pacific” (aka Hawaii) could block Trump’s Muslim Ban. Sessions took a fact-free swipe at another ethnically diverse city, saying New York City was
soft on crime and plagued by gangs murders. ICE immigrant arrests were
up 33% in the first two months of the Trump regime, including a doubling of noncriminal arrests.
The first protected DREAMer, Juan Manuel Montes, who is 23 and have lived here since age 9, was deported by Trump. Trump ally Rep Steve King celebrated the deportation by tweeting a photo of a frosty beer mug with the words, “
First non-valedictorian DREAMer deported. Border Patrol, this one’s for you.” Ironically, a federal
lawsuit brought on behalf of Montes has been assigned to Judge Curiel, the jurist infamously attacked by Trump for his Mexican heritage during the Trump University case. Trump signed
an executive order to review high-skilled H-1B immigration visas. Trump’s order
does not, however, impact low-skilled H2A or H2B visas. According to CNN, Trump businesses have received 1,024 H-2B visas since 2000, and Trump Vineyards has received 64 H-2A permits since 2006 In a troubling provocation,
Russian aircraft were spotted flying off the coast of Alaska four times in four day this week. Amidst silence from Trump and our State Department,
pogroms of gay men in Russia’s Chechnya region escalated. Russia also banned Jehovah’s Witnesses, claiming “extremist activities.” Trump shocked US and international officials when he called Turkey’s Erdogan to congratulate him on
passage of a referendum which allows Erdogan to further consolidate power as an autocrat. International monitors have said the vote was not “genuinely democratic.” Trump held a
secret meeting at Mar-a-Lago with former presidents of Colombia, threatening to undermine the country’s peace agreement with rebel leaders. The meeting was arranged by Rubio, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and was not on Trump’s schedule. Meanwhile, at a speech in WI, Trump called
some of Canada’s trade practices a “disgrace” and claimed NAFTA is “a disaster for our country.” In another embarrassment of US foreign policy,
Trump promised “we are sending an armada”– the USS Carl Vinson carrier group was being deployed to waters off the Korean Peninsula. This was not true.
Mattis and McMaster also made similar misstatement about the USS Carl Vinson’s location. While traveling in the region, Pence assured our allies the misstatements were “ not made intentionally.” On Wednesday,
Tillerson said that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal. On Thursday, Trump said Iran was not in complaint.
Trump offended our S. Korea allies with a claim that the country “actually used to be part of China.” Trump apparently gleaned this “knowledge” from his conversation with Xi Jinping. For his upcoming visit to London,
Trump demanded a carriage ride with Queen Elizabeth II down a strip that leads to Buckingham Palace. Three month in, Trump has
only filled 4% of key roles in the executive branch. And with all the international hot spots and conflicts, the State Department remains largely vacant, including Deputy Secretary. A State Department official who helped shape the Iran nuclear deal was
summarily reassigned for criticizing Conservative Review and Breitbart.
The Surgeon General was also quietly dismissed on Friday evening, without explanation or a full-time replacement. DeVos’s pick to head the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights said
she faced discrimination for being white. In his first three months of office, Trump has made
417 false or misleading claims. Trump first quarter job approval stood at 41%, t
he lowest of any modern day president by 14 points in Gallup polling. The Resistance claimed a major victory, bringing down
FoxNews icon Bill O’Reilly. Some speculated that the rise of Trump, and his backing of O’Reilly after recent allegations, laid the groundwork for O’Reilly’s fall. Hundreds of thousands are expected to march on Earth Day in the global
March for Science in DC and at 609 satellite locations.
All photos taken by me:
Cocoa Beach, FL 21apr17. Kind of hard to believe that veterans would support a FIVE-TIME DRAFT DODGER, so let’s hope it’s a SAD JOKE. Pussy Power from NYC reigns supreme in this photo.
Philadelphia, PA 12apr17
Philadelphia, PA 12apr17