It’s been a whirlwind of a year, and I am now back in the States, hopefully in time to see a massive on November 6th. Blue Wave
*3 of the photos below were taken by me in the past couple of weeks in Germany, and 1 is by a street photographer in New York of a character spotted on Halloween night.
Week 103: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
November 3, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-103-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-dcf4cdf871fc
In normal times, after shootings and assassination attempts, our country would expect our head of state to calm things and seek unity. Instead, this week Trump did the exact opposite, Trump announced he will send an additional 5,200 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, then upped it to 15,000, despite the migrants being weeks away and possibly never arriving. He and his allies and conservative media branded the migrants as carrying diseases, and being MS-13 gang members, child molesters, and violent young men. fanning the flames of hate with a manufactured crisis to gin up his base ahead of midterms.
Trump , and admitting in an interview with ABC News, “When I can, I tell the truth.” Trump continued to attack his political opponents and blame the media — which again this week he called the “enemy of the people” — for the growing violence, divisions, and unrest in our country. With the exception of House Speaker Paul Ryan speaking out one time, the Republicans have been silent, refusing to criticize Trump or ask him to tone down his rhetoric. And at a time of increasing domestic terrorism and uprise of white supremacists, this week Trump continues to ramp up his pace of lies, now averaging 30 false or misleading statement per day cut funding to an Obama-era program to fight violent extremism.
As midterms approach, early voting indicates voter enthusiasm not seen in decades, including a huge surge in young voters in some states.
Was stunned into silence when I saw this. Assumed to be an American tourist. The first-time EVER seeing an actual human being in front of me, wearing that disgusting hat. You truly can’t spell “HAT RED” without that “RED HAT.” Equally shocking, was to see this in Höchst (a district of Frankfurt), Germany, a quaint, quiet, beautiful, little town. I had SO many questions for this guy, but again, I was honestly rendered speechless. Now, I would ask: Who do you think you are? Do you think it’s funny to wear that in Germany? You don’t represent me AT ALL. So, you hate women, blacks, …? I wouldn’t be able to stop. So, I never started. 21oct18.
Following the synagogue attack in Pennsylvania, this was spotted on a wall on Zeil street (the biggest shopping street in Frankfurt seeing thousands of pedestrians a day) – 1nov18 – Germany
This is a photo by Dusty Rebel, NYC street photographer on Halloween night in Brooklyn, NY.
Found this on a wall near Hauptwache station in Frankfurt, Germany earlier this week.
On Saturday, appearing at the Future Farmers of America (FFA) convention shortly after the Pittsburgh massacre,
Trump joked he almost cancelled because his hair got wet, adding, “At least you know it’s mine.” Trump
considered cancelling his evening campaign rally in Illinois — as would be typical for a head of state after a mass shooting — but instead decided to proceed. Trump delivered
pre-scripted remarks at the FFA event, but starting that evening at a campaign rally, he was back to attacking his political opponents, including Rep. Maxine Waters. The attorney for musician
Pharrell Williams sent Trump a cease-and-desist letter after Trump played Williams’ song “Happy” to open his Illinois rally. On Sunday,
the names of the 11 victims were released: Rose Mallinger, 97; Joyce Fienberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; Irving Younger, 69; Daniel Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 88; Bernice Simon, 84; Sylvan Simon, 86; David Rosenthal, 54; and Cecil Rosenthal, 59. On Sunday,
Trump attacked Democratic megadonor Tom Steyer, a target of a bomb in Week 102, tweeting “Just watched Wacky Tom Steyer,” and “he comes off as a crazed & stumbling lunatic who should be running out of money pretty soon.” Trump later tweeted “
the Fake News is doing everything in their power to blame Republicans, Conservatives and me” for division and hatred, claiming the “Fake & Dishonest reporting” is what causes problems. On Monday, Trump again blamed the media, tweeting the anger in our country is “caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news,” and
called the media “the true Enemy of the People.” Trump also tweeted the “
Fake News Media…must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly,” in order to “bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony. Fake News Must End!” On Monday, press secretary Sarah Sanders
held the first daily press briefing since October 3.
Sanders got in several testy exchanges with reporters. When asked if Trump was capable of toning it down, Sanders said, “You guys have a huge responsibility to play in the divisive nature of this country.” Sanders, two years after the election,
lied saying Trump “got elected by an overwhelming majority of 63 million Americans who came out and supported him.” Trump lost the popular vote by over 3 million ballots. On Sunday,
far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro won the presidential election in Brazil, capping one of the most polarized and violent political campaigns in the country’s history. Bolsonaro’s presidential campaign was punctuated by openly racist, sexist, and homophobic comments.
Trump called to congratulate him. National security adviser John Bolton praised him as a “like-minded” partner. On Sunday,
Bend the Arc Pittsburgh Steering Committee, a group of Jewish leaders, wrote in an open letter,“Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism.” The letter also called on Trump to stop targeting and endangering all minorities, and to recognize the dignity of all of us.
Over 70,000 signed the open letter. On Monday,
Vice President Pence invited Messianic Rabbi Loren Jacobs to say a prayer for the victims in Pittsburgh during a rally in Michigan. Jacobs drew outrage from many Jews after invoking Jesus during the prayer. On Tuesday, NBC News reported, according to a spokeswoman for the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations,
Jacobs was defrocked 15 years ago, “after our judicial board found him guilty of libel.” On Tuesday,
Trump visited Pittsburgh to pay tribute to the 11 victims. Mayor Bill Peduto had urged Trump not to visit until after the funerals, saying, “all attention [Tuesday] should be on the victims.” Trump also traveled with
no official public itinerary and little advance planning, and without Pennsylvania Sen. Patrick Toomey ®, or local leaders whom the White House had invited. House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer
all declined Trump’s invitation to join him.
Thousands of Pittsburgh residents marched in protest of Trump’s visit. Signs read Trump is not welcome in Pittsburgh “until you stop targeting and endangering all minorities.”
Trump has repeatedly denigrated “globalists” despite warnings from Jewish groups that the word is code for Jews in anti-Semitic circles. The word appeared in one of Robert Bowers’ online rants. A mailer for Republican Ed Charamut in Connecticut showed his
Jewish opponent for state Senate wide-eyed with a fistful of money. On Tuesday, a synagogue in Irvine, California was
defaced overnight with anti-Semitic graffiti, including “Fuck Jews.” On Wednesday, when asked by reporters if the unfounded conspiracy theory about
George Soros funding caravan is true, Trump responded “I don’t know who, but I wouldn’t be surprised. A lot of people say yes.” On Friday,
anti-Semitic graffiti was found inside a Brooklyn, New York synagogue, saying “Hitler,” “Jews better be ready,” and “Die Jew rats, we are here!” An event planned for that evening was cancelled. On Monday,
a suspicious package headed to CNN’s worldwide headquarters in Atlanta was intercepted. The FBI said the package was “similar in appearance” to the other 14 found last week. On Monday, federal authorities said
Cesar Sayoc Jr. had prepared a list of 100 potential targets, but did not publicly name the individuals or news organizations. On Sunday, at Game 5 of the World Series between the Red Sox and the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium,
protestors unveiled a banner which read, “TRANS PEOPLE DESERVE TO LIVE.” Bryant Goldbach, a father in Kentucky,
apologized for dressing as a Nazi soldier and his son in an Adolf Hitler costume for a trick or treat event. On Monday, William Dugat,
an eighth-grade principal in Texas, was placed on leave after describing the U.S. on Facebook as “looking like Mexico and South America” with citizens “doomed to have a dirty country.”
Susan Westwood, a white woman, harassed two black women who were waiting for their car to be jumped outside their North Carolina apartment complex, saying disparaging things, and “I’m white” three times. Students at an elementary school in La Quinta, California were
ordered to remove depictions of Mexican culture from a performance about Mexican Independence Day, and told next time to sing ‘Yankee Doodle’ instead. An Idaho school district apologized after photos circulated showing
elementary school staffers wearing Mexican stereotype Halloween costumes and standing behind a cardboard “Make America Great Again” wall. On Monday,
Gab.com, the website used by Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers including his post before the shooting, and a platform for anti-Semitism and white nationalism, was suspended. On Tuesday,
Facebook banned Proud Boys and its founder Gavin McInnes from Facebook and Instagram, citing the New York assaults in Week 101, and the company’s rules against hate groups. On Wednesday, CNN reported that
more than 100 immigrants have waited in line in more than 10 cities carrying paperwork ordering them to appear before a judge, only to find out that court dates had not been scheduled. Some
notices were issued for dates that did not exist (September 31) or for times when the court is closed. Lawyers and advocates say this reflects how chaotic the system has become under the Trump regime. On Friday, the African Burial Ground Monument in Lower Manhattan, a symbol of
New York’s prominent and long-ignored role in colonial African-American culture, was defaced with the words “KILL NIGGERS.” On Tuesday, agricultural dairy cooperative
Land O’Lakes withdrew its support for Rep. Steve King, citing his inflammatory comments on immigration and support for candidates with tie to white supremacists. During a recent trip to
Europe paid for by a Holocaust memorial group, King met with an Austrian far-right party with ties to neo-Nazi groups. Tuesday, King’s seat was moved from “leans” to “likely” Republican. On Tuesday, Rep. Steve Stivers,
chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, tweeted “King’s recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate.”
Stivers added, “We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior.” The Sioux City Journal, which had endorsed King in previous races, endorsed his opponent. On Friday,
AT&T’s political action committee pulled its support from King over his ties to white nationalists. Semiconductor maker Intel Corp and Purina PetCare also pulled their support from King. On Monday, “Fox & Friends” co-host
Brian Kilmeade suggested migrants may bring diseases into the U.S., saying, “What about diseases? I mean, there’s a reason you can’t bring a kid to school unless he’s inoculated.” Shortly after,
Trump tweeted “many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan,” adding, “This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!” On Monday,
the Department of Defense announced it will deploy at least 5,200 active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent migrants from illegally entering the U.S. According to a Homeland Security official,
the troops will join about 2,100 National Guardsmen who are already deployed along the border. The migrants are still nearly 1,000 miles away from the U.S. border. Immigrant advocacy groups and the ACLU criticized the regime sending military forces,
saying migrants are exercising their rights under international and federal laws to seek asylum. The Trump regime is
considering restricting or blocking the migrants’ ability to enter the country, including denying asylum. In a migrant group in the spring, 93% passed the first hurdle towards seeking asylum. On Tuesday,
Newsweek reported on a document that shows the Trump regime was informed that “ only a small percentage” of the migrants traveling with several “caravans” will likely make it to the U.S. border. The Operational documents by a Pentagon official outlining the deployment, dubbed Operation Faithful Patriot, were
sent to the Trump regime before the deployment of the additional 5,200 troops. On Tuesday,
Axios released an interview in which Trump said he plans to sign an executive order that would remove the right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born on U.S. soil. Trump said, “You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re
saying I can do it just with an executive order,” claiming he would not need a constitutional amendment to the 14th Amendment.
Trump also falsely claimed, “We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen.” This claim is false: more than 30 countries provide birthright citizenship. Hours later,
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who rarely breaks from Trump, rejected his comments in an interview, saying ”You obviously cannot do that. You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order,” NPR issued a fact check saying
the 14th Amendment cannot be overridden by executive order. On Wednesday,
Trump tweeted “Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship,” adding, “our new Republican Majority will work on this.” On Wednesday,
Trump tweeted “the Caravans are made up of some very tough fighters and people,” adding they “fought back hard and viciously against Mexico” and soldiers were “unable, or unwilling to stop Caravan.” Trump was referencing an incident Sunday in which some in a caravan of roughly 3,000 migrants threw rocks and bottles when they crossed into Mexico.
One migrant was killed, and dozens were injured. Trump also tweeted, “these Caravans, which are also made up of some very
bad thugs and gang members…TURN AROUND!” Most of those traveling in the caravans are mothers and children seeking asylum. On Wednesday, speaking to reporters,
Trump said he could send up to 15,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, surpassing the number of soldiers currently stationed in Afghanistan. As of
Tuesday, there were 5,239 troops deployed to the border, as well as 2,092 National Guard members. The roughly 7,300 total troops is roughly equal to the number of troops in Iraq and Syria combined. The two caravans, fleeing poverty and violence, each have over 3,000 migrants. At the speed they are traveling,
they are weeks away from the U.S. border. According to a research fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, the cost to
deploy 15,000 active-duty troops through mid-December would range from $90 million to $110 million. On Wednesday,
WAPO reported Trump is mobilizing the powers of the military and federal government in the final days leading up to the midterms to stoke fear and anxieties of his supporters. In addition to the vast deployment to the southern border,
Trump has moved to lower Medicare drug prices and suggested the idea of a 10% tax cut for the middle class, sending officials scrambling.
WAPO reports the cumulative effect has been that Trump has “transformed parts of the federal bureaucracy into a factory of threats, directives and actions — an outgrowth of a campaign strategy.” On Wednesday,
Trump and House and Ways Means Chair Kevin Brady conceded there is no chance of a middle class tax cut this year, despite Trump’s promises in Weeks 101 and 102. On Wednesday, in an interview with ABC News, Trump said he tries to tell the truth: “Well, I try. I do try … and I always want to tell the truth.
When I can, I tell the truth.” Trump said he believes
reporting on the number of migrants in the caravan is too low, saying “I’m pretty good at estimating crowd size. And I’ll tell you they look a lot bigger than people would think.” When asked women and children fleeing violence and seeking asylum, Trump said the crowds are “
mostly young men,” and that women and children in pictures are being purposefully posed for the cameras. On Wednesday,
Trump revived the ‘Willie Horton’ tactic, tweeting a new ad linking Luis Bracamontes, a twice-deported Mexican immigrant who was given the death penalty for killing police officers, to the Democrats. The ad says, “Illegal immigrant, Luis Bracamontes, killed our people!” and “
Democrats let him into our country. . . . Democrats let him stay.” Bracamontes can be heard saying, “I’m going to kill more cops soon.” In 1988, when a similar ad ran supporting George H.W. Bush,
the Bush campaign had publicly distanced itself from the ad. Trump instead pinned the videos, which critics say is “far worse” than the 1988 ad, to his page. On Wednesday, at a campaign rally in Florida, Trump attacked Democrats, immigrants, and the media,
which he called the “enemy of the people.” On Thursday, providing no evidence, Sen. Chuck Grassley cited “Law Enforcement Sensitive” information, but provided no details and said
members of the caravan are child molesters and MS-13 gang members. On Thursday, in an address from the White House, Trump said
the regime was preparing to change the country’s asylum practices ahead of the caravans of migrants approaching. Trump said migrants were taking advantage of the asylum process by making false claims of persecution, and
vowed to build “tent cities” to detain asylum seekers until their court hearings. Trump also
falsely claimed that just 3% of asylum seekers show up for court. According to the Justice Department, it was 89% last year, 91% in 2016, 93% in 2015, and 94% in 2014. Trump also said, unlike Mexico, U.S. troops would not accept bottles or stones being thrown at them, telling reporters “
They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. I told them to consider it a rifle.” On Friday,
NYT reported the Nigerian Army, which has been criticized for rampant human rights abuses, used Trump’s words to justify its fatal shootings of rock-throwing protesters. The Nigerian Army claimed to have killed
three of the protestors who had hurled rocks at heavily armed soldiers. Amnesty International and leaders of the protest said more than 40 people were killed. On Friday,
Trump backed off from his Thursday remarks, telling reporters on the South Lawn that migrants who throw stones at members of the U.S. military at the border will be arrested, not shot. Trump again invoked Mexico, calling it “disgraceful,”adding, “they hit them with rocks and some were very seriously injured.” But,
Trump falsely claimed, “I didn’t say shoot,” saying rock throwers will be arrested. On Friday, CNN reported that
the Pentagon rejected an October 26 request by the Trump regime for troops to take on duties viewed as law enforcement functions, such as crowd and traffic control. NBC News reported the
Trump regime will not renew the Obama-era Countering Violent Extremism Grant Program set up to fight domestic terrorism. The program has a $10 million budget run through the Department of Homeland Security. The
only grant that specifically fought white supremacists, made to Chicago-based Life After Hate to dissuade young people them from following supremacist ideology, was excluded from funding. Recipients who did receive funding through the DHS Office of Terrorism Prevention Partnerships were told it was a “one time” opportunity, and on Tuesday,
reference to future funding was removed from the website.
Motherboard reported social media posts of American citizens who oppose Trump are the focus of the latest U.S. military research, funded by the U.S. Army and West Point Military Academy. The research is part of a
wider effort by the Trump regime to consolidate the U.S. military’s role and influence on domestic intelligence, and keeps details of the program outside the scope of Freedom of Information Act. The
ACLU filed several FOIA requests to U.S. government agencies over concern had “spiked” under Trump. FOIA requests have not revealed the technologies being deployed. s that domestic social media surveillance On Monday, the
U.S. Treasury estimated it will issue $1.3 trillion in debt in 2018, compared to $546 billion in 2017, citing higher government spending and sluggish tax revenues resulting from the GOP tax cut. On Monday,
Julian Assange told reporters that Ecuador is seeking to end his asylum in its London embassy and hand him over to the U.S., claiming newly imposed rules were meant to push him out.
Assange is challenging the Ecuadorian government in a lawsuit for requiring him to pay for medical bills, phone calls, and clean up after his cat. An official said Assange’s stay had cost the country $6 million. On Tuesday,
WSJ reported Mueller’s team is examining at least two August conference calls advertised online to the public in which Roger Stonepromoted himself as “the ultimate political insider.” Stone reportedly
told listeners about WikiLeaks’ plans to release information that would affect the 2016 presidential campaign before the election. In one call, Stone said he was in touch with Julian Assange. On Tuesday, the
Atlantic reported Mueller has asked the FBI to investigate a company run by a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist which offered to paywomen to make false claims against him in the days ahead of midterms. A spokesperson for Mueller’s team
confirmed allegations came to their attention by several journalists, who were contacted by a Lorraine Parsons. Jennifer Taub also contacted Mueller’s office with similar information. Parsons said in an email
she had been offered $20,000 by a man claiming to work for a firm called Surefire Intelligence “to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment” against Mueller.
Surefire Intelligence was hired by Republican activist Jack Burkman. Taub, a law professor who had never met Mueller, was also contacted by Surefire, which was incorporated in Delaware less than three weeks ago. On Tuesday, Burkman, who has peddled other conspiracy theories, tweeted that
he would hold a press conference two days later to “reveal the first of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sex assault victims.” Also Tuesday,
Jacob Wohl, a writer for , tweeted “Several media sources tell me that a scandalous story about Mueller is breaking tomorrow. Should be interesting. Stay tuned!” Gateway Pundit On Tuesday, NBC News reported Wohl’s email is listed in the domain records for Surefire Intelligence’s website and
calls to a number listed on its website went to voicemail for a phone number listed as Wohl’s mother. On Thursday, at a news conference organized by
Burkman and Wohl, the alleged victim of Mueller was a no-show. Instead Wohl and Burkman took turns speaking at the podium, detailing the allegations. On Tuesday,
WAPO reported as part of its investigation, Mueller’s team is examining whether WikiLeaks coordinated its activities with Roger Stone and the Trump campaign, including the group’s timing.
Mueller’s team interviewed Stephen Bannon, Trump’s then chief strategist, about claims Stone is said to have made privately about WikiLeaks before the group released emails that prosecutors said were hacked by Russians. On Wednesday,
Reuters reported the Senate Intelligence Committee is pursuing a wide-ranging examination of Bannon’s activities during the 2016 presidential campaign. The committee is
investigating what information Bannon might have about contacts during the campaign between Moscow and Trump campaign advisers George Papadopoulos and Carter Page. On Thursday,
NYT revealed emails between Stone, Bannon, and Matthew Boyle, Breitbart’s Washington editor, in early October 2016 discussing the release of Hillary Clinton campaign emails stolen by Russians. The emails discuss the timing of Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks releasing the stolen emails, and provide
evidence of a connection to the Trump campaign, where Bannon, formerly of Breitbart, was chief executive. The emails reveal Breitbart News was closely intertwined with the Trump campaign, and that people in
Bannon’s orbit saw Stone as a direct link to WikiLeaks. Stone had been trying to get in touch with Bannon to tell him about Assange’s plan. When Assange publicly announced the release of the stolen emails,
Bannon contacted Stone to ask about Assange’s plan. On Thursday, the
Guardian reported Arron Banks faces a criminal inquiry of his unofficial leave campaign in the Brexit referendum. Some MP’s have called for the process of departing the European Union to be suspended. The National Crime Agency will
examine Arron Banks’ contacts with Russian officials, and a series of deals offered to him by Moscow. Banks has repeated denied taking money from Russians.
The Daily Beast reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the National Rifle Association to provide documents on its connections to Russia, including a 2015 trip some of its top leaders made to Moscow. On Monday, at a religious freedom conference,
Rev. Will Green interrupted Attorney General Jeff Sessions, saying “Brother Jeff, as a fellow United Methodist I call upon you to repent, to care for those in need.” Security escorted Green out of the room. Rev. Darrell Hamilton II said “That is a person that
represents the Christian tradition, the faith that everyone here professes to believe in.” He was also escorted out. On Monday,
AP obtained an October 22 letter sent by former president Jimmy Carter to secretary of state Brian Kemp, calling on him to resign in order to “ensure the confidence of our citizens in the outcome.” On Tuesday,
NYT reported in North Dakota, tribal governments are working feverishly to provide the necessary identification to voters. Some Native Americans believe their anger could actually fuel higher turnout. On Tuesday,
the Spirit Lake Tribe filed a complaint against North Dakota Secretary of State to stop the new voter identification law before the midterms, saying the law disenfranchises voters living on reservations. The suit, also filed by the Campaign Legal Center,
described mass confusion and bureaucratic obstacles as Native Americans tried to obtain the addresses and corresponding identification now required. On Thursday, a federal judge, appointed by George W. Bush, refused to block North Dakota’s ID law, and said in a brief, two-page order that
it was simply too close to Election Day to do so. On Thursday, a judge
ruled against a restraining order requesting an additional polling place in Dodge City, Kansas, saying “the court cannot order defendant to open another polling location” five days prior to the election. The judge noted that Ford County Clerk Deborah Cox’s response to the ACLU’s October 19 letter was troubling: instead of replying,
she forwarded the letter to the Secretary of State’s office with the comment “LOL.” On Wednesday,
federal judges ordered Ohio to allow voters who had been purged for not voting over a six-year period to participate in midterms. The ruling overturned a federal judge’s ruling from early October which said the purge was not illegal. On Friday, a federal judge in
Georgia ordered new U.S. citizens must be allowed to vote if they show proof of citizenship at the polls, citing with Kemp’s process, citizens were being turned away. The ruling
could affect more than 3,000 people whose registrations have been placed on hold. In all, there are still nearly 47,000 pending voter registrations in Georgia because of the state’s “exact match” law. On Wednesday,
WAPO reported the office of acting inspector general, Mary Kendall referred one of its three probes into the conduct of Secretary Ryan Zinke to the Justice Department for further investigation.
Zinke is reportedly looking for a political nominee to replace Kendall. In Week 101, Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said in an email to his staff that Suzanne Tufts would take the role, but Zinke later denied this. The probe referred
relates to Zinke’s role in a Montana land development deal backed by David Lesar, chairman of the oil services firm Halliburton, first reported in Week 89. The foundation is now headed by Zinke’s wife. On Wednesday, CNN reported that
Don McGahn ended his time as White House counsel with a contentious last conversation with Trump, in which Trump blamed him for Robert Mueller being appointed special counsel. Trump complained that the appointment happened on McGahn’s watch. One source said
Trump’s frustration about Mueller is another example of him shifting blame for the ongoing Russia investigation.
Politico reported Trump could see a further exodus of up to six Cabinet officials after midterms. Nikki Haley has already resigned, and Sessions, whom Trump frequently criticizes, is expected to be fired.
Others could include Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Zinke, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. An aide said Trump is looking to bring on better performers.
Foreign Policy reported under a proposal being floated to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. diplomats at the United Nations would be prohibited from using phrases like “sexual and reproductive health.” Internal memos show the growing influence of conservative Christians inside the regime, and efforts to
scale back programs vital to women’s health relating to abortion and sexual activity among young people.
Motherboard reported the EPA.gov pages that provided information about climate change have been changed from claiming that they are “updating” to an error message indicating they have been removed. On Wednesday,
WAPO reported according to a proposed order, Trump has agreed to produce portions of his calendar from 2007 and 2008 as part of discovery in a defamation lawsuit brought by Summer Zervos. On Friday, a judge in Maryland
denied the Justice Department’s request to pause the emoluments clause lawsuit alleging that Trump is violating the Constitution in order to allow a higher court to intervene. The judge also sharply questioned Trump’s position that his business does not improperly accept gifts or payments. The decision could
pave the way for plaintiffs to seek documents related to Trump’s D.C. hotel. On Friday,
Michael Cohen shares numerous examples with , including “Name one country run by a black person that’s not a shithole…Name one city.” Vanity Fair of racist remarks made by Trump
Cohen also alleges that Trump told him, “black people are too stupid to vote for me,” and said about Kwame Jackson, a contestant on “The Apprentice,” “There’s no way I can let this black f-g win.”
NYT reported the candidates in the midterms are the most diverse set to run in U.S. history: 272 of the 964 are women, 215 are black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American or multiracial, and 26 are LGBTQ individuals. Polling firms reported a
sharp increase in early voting for 18–29 year-olds in midterms compared to 2014: Tennessee, after Taylor Swift’s urging, is up 767%, Georgia up 415%, Texas up 448%, and Nevada up 364%. On Friday, Twitter announced it has
removed more than 10,000 automated accounts that appeared to be Democrats, and were posting messages discouraging people from voting in the midterms. An ABC News/
Washington Post poll found 49% of Americans believe the way Trump speaks motivates violence, versus 19% who believe it discourages violence. On Friday, when asked about the poll by an ABC News reporter, Trump responded, “You know what,
you’re creating violence by your question. You are creating. You,” pointing directly at the reporter.
Trump also said, “The fake news is creating violence,” adding, “I’ll tell you what, if the media would write correctly and write accurately and write fairly, you’d have a lot less violence in the country.” On Friday, for the first time in the newspaper’s history,
the Pittsburgh , a traditional Jewish mourners’ prayer, on its front page to honor synagogue shooting victims. Post-Gazette put the opening words of the Kaddish On Friday,
WAPO reported according to The Fact Checker’s database, Trump has made 6,420 false or misleading claims in his 649 days in office. In the first nine months in office, Trump averaged five false or misleading claims per day. In the seven weeks leading up the midterms,
Trump is averaging 30 false or misleading claims per day. On Friday, CREW reported
the White House secretly granted an ethics waiver for Solicitor General Noel Francisco, which would allow him to take on oversight of the Mueller probe if Rod Rosenstein was fired or quit. Francisco’s former firm,
Jones Day, represents the Trump Presidential Campaign in the Special Counsel investigation. The firm still owes Francisco half a million dollars. Additionally, Francisco appeared before the DOJ as a member of a “Landing Team” on behalf of Trump’s Transition Team.
The waiver is not included on an online list maintained by the Office of Government Ethics.
Week 102 of a nationalist government: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
October 27, 2018
This was a heartbreaking week in America, after several domestic attacks left the country shaken, frightened, and on edge. On Monday, an explosive device mailed in a package to the home of George Soros was discovered. Then starting Wednesday, one by one, 13 more packages addressed to high profile Democrats, all of whom were Trump critics and people Trump had publicly and repeatedly attacked, were found. There was a deadly shooting of two Black Americans in a supermarket in Kentucky, minutes after the shooter was unable to gain access to a predominantly black church in Jeffersontown. Then, the week closed with mass shooting during Shabbat services at Pittsburgh’s oldest Jewish congregation, killing 11 and injuring 6, likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history, which was charged as a hate crime.
Unlike his predecessors, Trump was unable or unwilling to rise to the occasion and seek to unite and comfort the country. Instead, he blamed the media, lightened but continued his attacks on political opponents, and complained these crimes were distracting from his messaging ahead of midterms. Trump also refused to call out hate or the rise of white supremacist groups, who view themselves as on his side and his defenders. Instead, Trump announced he is a “nationalist” — a term with historical connotations to white nationalism, seemingly a guiding philosophy behind much of his regime’s actions and policies. All the attacks this week were carried out by middle-aged white men.
Here is the whole piece of “Make America Dumb Again,” as promised last week. It is an expansive mural located under a roadway in Mainz-Kastel (Wiesbaden), Germany. Photo taken 20October2018.
Trump warned of non-existent voter fraud, tweeting “All levels of government and Law Enforcement are watching carefully for VOTER FRAUD,” adding, “Cheat at your own peril.” On Sunday, Carl Bernstein told CNN that
Trump is already having discussions at the White House for plans to call the midterms “illegitimate” if Democrats win the House by a small margin. Bernstein said his sources tell him
Trump’s plan is to throw legal challenges into the courts, sow confusion, declare victory, and say that the election was illegitimate. On Saturday, at a rally in Nevada,
Trump falsely claimed that Californians are “rioting” in protest of sanctuary cities, saying “They’re rioting now. They want to get out of their sanctuary cities.” Trump also claimed, without evidence, that
the caravan of Central American migrants is full of criminals, claiming the group will bring waves of crime and drugs over the border, and “this country doesn’t want them.” Trump also claimed that the “
fake news media” is the Democrats’ “single greatest ally.” The crowd then pointed to reporters at the rally and booed at them.
Trump also promised a new “major tax cut” for middle-income people “just prior to November.” The House is out of session until November 13. On Monday, Trump told reporters that the regime plans to produce a “
resolution” calling for a 10% tax cut for middle-income earners, leaving confused White House staffers scrambling to understand what he meant. On Monday,
NYT Editorial Board wrote ahead of the election, Trump is “lyin’ up a storm,” both at this campaign rallies and on Twitter, noting Americans are “already exhausted” and this is “really bad for the country.” On Monday,
Politico reported Trump is distancing himself from a possible GOP midterm thumping, telling confidants he does not see it as a referendum on himself and will blame Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. On Sunday, the
NYT reported the Department of Health and Human Services is leading an effort to change the legal definition of sex under Title IX and to narrowly define gender as determined by genitalia at birth. This marks the most dramatic move by the Trump regime yet in its efforts to
roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law and reverses policy by the Obama administration. On Thursday, the
Guardian reported the Trump regime is seeking to eliminate the word “gender” from U.N. general assembly policy statement documents, most often replacing it with “woman.” Nelson Diaz, chair of the GOP of Miami-Dade County, apologized for “unbecoming” action after
organizing a protest involving members of the “Proud Boys” outside congressional candidate Donna Shalala’s office. A Latina woman with family visiting from Guatemala was
verbally harassed for speaking Spanish by a white woman at a restaurant in Virginia, saying “You get the f — — out, back to your f — — — country.” On a Ryanair flight,
a white man went on a tirade about sitting next to a black woman in a wheelchair. The flight attendant then asked the black woman and her daughter to move to a different row. David Thomas Sr., a Veterans Affairs official,
took down a portrait of the KKK’s first grand wizard from his office after a explained who the subject is. His senior staff is mostly Black Americans. WAPO reporter Gay bars in Nashville received pamphlets with the acronym and images of the Statue of Liberty (L), a gun (G), a beer bottle (B), and Trump (T). The
gun pictured is the one used in the shooting at Orlando nightclub Pulse. NBC News reported on
a robocall in Florida targeting Andrew Gillum, in which a man impersonating him says, “Well hello there. I is the negro Andrew Gillum,” and “My state opponent, who done call me monkey…” ABC News reported Bruce Alexander, who is accused of touching a woman’s breast twice on an airplane flight,
told authorities “the president of the United States says it’s OK to grab women by their private parts.” The
FBI arrested Robert Rundo, the leader of Rise Above Movement, a violent California neo-Nazi gang, who fled the country for Central America, on a federal conspiracy charge. Rise Above Movement members were
involved in violent activity at protests throughout California in 2017. Rundo and three other gang members were charged with inciting riots. On Sunday, CNN reported
Gwinnett County, northeast of Atlanta, faces two federal lawsuits after rejecting hundreds of mail-in absentee ballots, disproportionately impacting Asian American and Black American voters. An analysis done by
WAPO showed Georgia’s “exact match” policy could clear just 70% of eligible voters and disproportionately impacts Black American and Hispanic American voters.
Rolling Stone reported on a leaked audio of a “Georgia Professionals for Kemp” campaign event last Friday in which Brian Kemp raised concern about his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams’ voter turnout operation. Kemp can be heard saying it “
continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote.” Abrams’ campaign continued to call on Kemp to resign as Georgia’s Secretary of State. On Tuesday,
USA Today reported the Georgia NAACP filed complaints with state election officials, alleging some voting machines mistakenly registered votes cast for Abrams as votes for Kemp. On Wednesday, a federal judge in Georgia sided with the ACLU,
temporarily blocking the state from tossing out absentee ballots on which voters’ signatures do not match the ones on their voter registration cards. On Thursday, a federal judge in Georgia
issued a formal injunction, stopping Georgia from rejecting absentee ballots because of signatures deemed not to match those on file. On Thursday,
NYT reported Georgia state Democratic officials said more than 4,700 vote-by-mail applications were missing in DeKalb County, one the state’s most populous and liberal-leaning regions. On Thursday,
police arrested Jason Donald Wayne, 28, in North Carolina after he threatened to assault a black GOP campaign worker who was working at an early voting location in Charlotte. On Thursday,
AP reported after moving the sole polling place for 27,000 residents outside city lines in Week 101, Dodge City, Kansas, election official sent voters notices listing the wrong place to cast their vote. Kansas Director of Elections Bryan Caskey admitted that the notices were “confusing,” and said
he informed Ford County Clerk Debbie Cox she needed to send another notice with the correct location. On Friday, the ACLU sued Dodge City over voter access. The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order that would
force Ford County to open a second polling place in time for midterms in Dodge City. On Friday,
ABC 13 reported at some voting machines in Texas, when voters selected the straight-party vote for Democrat, their vote for Senator, on the last page of the ballot, was changed to Republican Ted Cruz. On Monday,
the Supreme Court shielded Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross from having to answer lawyers’ questions in a lawsuit challenging his decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census form.
WAPO reported the Trump regime is politicizing the traditionally non-partisan Board of Veterans’ Appeals, judges who determine whether an injured veteran is entitled to lifetime benefits. This is unprecedented. The White House
rejected half of the candidates selected by the board chairwoman, after requiring them to disclose their party affiliations. Of the four rejected, three were Democrats and one was an independent. On Tuesday, after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, national security adviser John
Bolton announced Putin and Trump will meet in Paris one-on-one just five days after the midterms. The scheduled meeting
marks another reversal by Trump. In July, after the controversial meeting between Trump and Putin in Helsinki, the White House said the two would not meet again until “after the Russia witch hunt is over.”
Guardian reported in 2001, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh lobbied to ensure Timothy Tymkovich would secure a lifetime appointment as a Colorado federal judge. Tymkovich is now handling Kavanaugh ethics complaints. A
USA Today/Suffolk poll found the “ Kavanaugh effect” makes Americans more likely to vote for Democrats (35%) than Republicans (27%) in the midterms. A study conducted at Arizona State University, and published in the
Journal of American College Health, found 25% of college students have “clinically significant event-related distress” resulting from the 2016 election. The study argues event-related distress can predict future distress and diagnoses of
PTSD, a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it.
The most useful predictors of stress were sex, political party, and religion — more so than race or social class. The majority of students — 76% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans — said they were stressed. On Sunday,
WAPO reported special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has been aggressively pursuing leads on whether Roger Stone, or any other Trump associates, had advance knowledge of the WikiLeaks’ plan to release hacked emails. In addition to Randy Credico, Mueller’s team is also examining Stone’s relationship with conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, and
whether Corsi was a conduit between Stone and Julian Assange. Mueller’s team is also examining if
Stone lied in his Congressional testimony about his contact with WikiLeaks. On Thursday,
Mother Jones reported in early January, Stone sent a text message to Credico saying he was working to get a pardon from Trump for Assange, writing “It’s very real and very possible. Don’t fuck it up.” On Tuesday,
NYT reported in recent days the United States Cyber Command has been targeting individual Russian operatives, telling them they have identified them and are being tracked, in order to deter them. On Thursday,
House Republicans interviewed George Papadopoulos behind closed doors for roughly seven hours. Republicans claim his testimony raises questions about the start of the FBI’s Russia probe. Trump ally
Rep. Mark Meadows said that Papadopoulos’ testimony shows the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia should never have been started. On Monday,
WAPO reported Trump has settled on a strategy of fear, laced with lies and racially tinged rhetoric, as a way to motivate Republicanvoters to get to the polls for the midterms, instead of touting his achievements.
Trump is especially focused on the caravan, which he claimed is full of gang members, violent criminals and “unknown Middle Easterners. Stephen Miller is one of the chief authors of Trump’s rally remarks. On Monday,
in a series of tweets, Trump attacked the “caravan” of migrants from Central America, claiming without evidence, “Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in.” Trump also tweeted, “
every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming… blame the Democrats,” and he threatened again to substantially reduce foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. On Monday, when asked by reporters for proof there are terrorists in the caravan, Trump said, “
take your camera, go into the middle, and search. You’re going to find MS-13, you’re going to find Middle Eastern.” A
WAPO journalist called out the media for amplifying Trump’s caravan messaging with non-stop coverage, using his words like “caravan crisis” and “onslaught,” employing false-equivalency, and not calling out his lies. On Monday, at a rally in Texas,
Trump delivered a speech laden with lies and fear mongering, reminiscent of his 2016 campaign. He also evoked nationalism directly.
Trump told a string of lies, including that the Democrats will kick seniors off their health insurance, end coverage for pre-existing conditions, and destroy the Social Security retirement system.
Trump also lied that Democrats will give illegal immigrants free cars and abolish our borders. Trump also said Democrats are behind the migrant caravan and lied the caravan includes people from the Middle East. Trump also told the crowd, “You know, they have a word. It sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist,” adding “
we’re not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I am a nationalist. Use that word.”
Trump also said “Radical Democrats want to turn back the clock. Restore the rule of corrupt, power-hungry globalists,” adding, “a globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well,” but not “our country so much.” On Tuesday, when pressed by reporters for proof that there are Middle Easterners in the caravan,
Trump responded, “There’s no proof of anything. But there could very well be.” Trump also claimed, without evidence, that there will be
forthcoming proof to show Democrats are paying for the caravan of migrants. On Tuesday,
former KKK leader David Duke celebrated Trump saying he is a nationalist, tweeting Trump “Defends the Rights and Heritage of White People & White people love him for it!” On Tuesday, in an interview with the
WSJ after another down day in the markets, Trump again attacked Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. There is no precedent for a U.S. leader publicly criticizing a Fed Chair.
Trump said of Powell, “every time we do something great, he raises the interest rates,” adding it “almost looks like he’s happy raising interest rates.”
Trump added, “To me the Fed is the biggest risk.” When asked if he regrets nominating Powell, Trump said it’s “too early to say, but maybe.” On Wednesday, the
Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 600 points, continuing its correction. Year-to-date, the Dow is flat. On Wednesday,
NYT reported when Trump calls old friends on one of his iPhones, Chinese and Russians spies often listen in and gather information on how to best work with Trump and affect policy change. Trump’s aides have warned him that
his calls are not secure, but he refuses to stop using his cell phones. Officials who spoke to the NYT said they did so out of frustration with his indifference towards electronic security. China uses information from the calls to understand how Mr. Trump thinks, what arguments tend to sway him and which of his friends they can use to sway him in order to keep a trade war from escalating.
Aides said Trump’s longtime paranoia about surveillance gives them hope that he is
not discussing classified information on calls. They also take comfort that Trump rarely reads the intelligence he is shown. Trump is supposed to
swap his two cell phones for new ones every 30 days but rarely does so, citing inconvenience. Last year, Trump left one of the phones in a golf cart at his Bedminster club and had to scramble to find it. On Thursday, Trump attacked the
NYT in two tweets, saying it “wrote a long and boring article,” calling it “so incorrect” and “soooo wrong,” adding, “I only use Government Phones.”
Hours later, Trump tweeted “the New York Times has a new Fake Story” saying “I rarely use a cellphone, & when I do it’s government authorized. I like Hard Lines.” On Thursday,
several Democrats, citing the and whether he compromised classified information. NYT report, called for an investigation into Trump’s cell phone use On Thursday,
WAPO reported CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed Trumpabout her trip to Turkey, where she reportedly listened to an audio recording capturing the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. On Thursday, Saudi Arabia
acknowledged its agents had murdered Khashoggi in a “premeditated” operation. Trump has yet to take any action against the Saudis or condemn the killing. On Thursday, the judge overseeing the
New York attorney general’s lawsuit against Trump’s foundation said she will wait to hear if a sitting president can be sued before proceeding with the state’s case.
A New York appeals court is currently weighing that question in a defamation lawsuit against Trump brought by Summer Zervos. On Thursday, at a
WAPO event, Newt Gingrich said if Democrats take the House and subpoena Trump’s tax records, likely forcing a Supreme Court fight, “ we’ll see whether or not the Kavanaugh fight was worth it.” On Thursday, Roberta Jacobson, who resigned as U.S. ambassador to Mexico in
Week 68, said in an op-ed some chaos is normal at the start of an administration, but that under Trump “it has been extreme.” Jacobson also pointed out that
about 30 ambassadorships still remain vacant, including those to vitally important countries. Jacobson also said the
disconnect between the State Department and the White House seems intentional, leaving ambassadors in impossible positions and allies “infuriated, alienated and bewildered.” On Thursday,
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley referred Julie Swetnick and her lawyer Michael Avenatti to the DOJ for investigation over allegations they made false statements to Congress about Kavanaugh. On Monday, an explosive device was found
in the mailbox of George Soros’s home outside New York City. Soros is a favorite target of right-wing groups, including Trump who recently claimed he paid for Kavanaugh protests. On Wednesday, in the early morning, reports came out in local New York media that a suspicious device was sent to the Clintons’ home near New York City. Shortly after, it was reported a package was also sent to the Obamas.
Later that morning, the Time Warner Center was evacuated after a suspicious package was found.
CNN anchors continued to provide coverage of what was happening from their cell phones on the streets near the building. By late morning, reporting indicated the packages contained a pipe bomb.
The package sent to CNN was addressed to “JON BRENAN” [sic], a former CIA director under Obama and a frequent Trump critic. According to the FBI, all the devices were packed in envelopes lined with
bubble wrap and bearing return addresses with the name “DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ” [sic], former chairperson of the Democratic National Committee.
Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s offices were evacuated after a fifth device sent to former Attorney General Eric Holder, which was incorrectly addressed, was returned to her office. In the early afternoon,
a sixth package addressed to Rep. Maxine Waters, whom Trump repeatedly refers to at his rallies as a “very low IQ individual,” was intercepted at a congressional mail facility. In the afternoon, speaking at the White House and reading off a teleprompter,
Trump called the attempted bombings “despicable acts,” saying “we have to unify,” and “threats of political violence” have no place. In the afternoon, CNN President
Jeff Zucker, in a statement, accused Trump of demonizing journalists, adding “The president, and especially the White House press secretary, should understand their words matter.” In the evening, a seventh package,
also addressed to Rep. Waters was discovered at a mail facility near downtown Los Angeles. The facility was evacuated. On Wednesday, the FBI issued a statement to the public on the suspicious packages,
describing the packages, who received them, and steps being taken to find who is behind them. Contact information was also given for tips. On Wednesday,
House Republicans’ campaign committee launched a new ad attacking Soros as a “radical.” The ad is aimed at Minnesota House candidate Dan Feehan, who the ad says is owned by Soros. On Wednesday,
AP reported, according to law enforcement officials, the pipe bombs that were sent to prominent Democrats and CNN were packed with powder and shards of glass. On Wednesday, CNN reported that
the White House did not reach out toformer President Obama, the Clintons, or any of the other Democratic officials who received packages.
Trump also refused to mention CNN as a recipient of a package in any of his remarks, including his call for unity. On Wednesday,
WAPO reported the targets of the bombs are all people who Trump has directly and repeatedly attacked, using his bully pulpit. Republicans largely stood by him, denying his rhetoric was the cause. Also Wednesday, several of Trump’s supporters advanced the “false flag” theory on social media and talk radio,
arguing the bombs could have been sent by liberals in order to reverse the “mob” argument. On Wednesday, at a rally in Wisconsin, before Trump arrived,
the crowd burst into chants of “Lock her up.” Trump refrained from attacking his regular targets like Hillary, Rep. Waters, and Joe Biden and
commented repeatedly on his restraint, saying“I’m trying to be nice,” and “do you see how nice I’m behaving tonight?” Trump decried the threats of political violence, saying “we want all sides to come together in peace and harmony,”
but called on the media to end its “hostility.”
Trump also said, “The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks.” Trump, however, did not take any responsibility. On Thursday,
two additional pipe bombs were discovered that had been sent to former Vice President Biden. The packages were misaddressed and were intercepted at a U.S. Postal Service facility in Delaware. Also Thursday,
a package to Robert De Niro was discovered. The package had been at the mailroom at his movie company, TriBeCa Productions, since at least Tuesday. De Niro has been a frequent critic of Trump. On Thursday,
Trump again blamed the media, tweeting “a very big part of the Anger we see today” is caused by purposely false and inaccurate reporting” by the “Fake News,” and “Media must clean up its act, FAST!” On Thursday,
John Brennan tweeted in response, “Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror. Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies, & encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful. Clean up your act.” Press secretary Sarah Sanders said
Trump is “certainly not responsible for sending suspicious packages” any more than Bernie Sanders is responsible for “shooting up a Republican baseball field practice last year.” Hours later,
Sen. Lindsey Graham repeated the same false equivalency, tweeting, “I didn’t blame Bernie Sanders when a Bernie supporter shot Congressman Steve Scalise and I’m not going to blame Trump.”
Fox Business host Lou Hobbs tweeted, “Fake News ― Fake Bombs,” adding “Who could possibly benefit by so much fakery?” Dobbs later deleted the tweet. On Thursday, at an
Axios event in Washington, D.C., Newt Gingrich said he believes that the media has “earned” Trump’s attacks on them as “the enemy of the people.” On Thursday,
more than 200 journalists, many well-known and most retired or semi-retired, signed a letter of condemning political violence as a part of a “sustained pattern of attack on a free press.” The letter also accused Trump of “utterly failing” to uphold his oath of office and said he is “
actively working not simply to undermine the press, but to incite violence against it as well.” On Thursday,
Trump tweeted about the migrant caravan in the morning, saying “I am bringing out the military for this National Emergency,” adding: “They will be stopped!” The caravan is
more than 1,000 miles away from the U.S. border. It is unclear when or if the migrants will arrive or how many will seek to cross into the U.S. On Thursday,
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was expected to sign deployment orders that could send 800 or more troops to the border of Mexico. The troops are expected to be in position next week. Later Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told Fox News “
everything is on the table” in response to the migrant caravan. Nielsen also echoed an afternoon tweet by Trump that said, “To those in the Caravan, turn around,”
telling Fox News that any migrants who illegally cross the U.S. border “will be returned home.” On Thursday,
NYT reported Trump is considering taking executive action to bar migrants, including asylum seekers, from entering the country at the southern border. On Friday,
Daily Beast reported Bolton pushed a plan with Trump to send U.S. troops to the southern border to keep migrants out, circumventingNielsen, Chief of Staff John Kelly, and other White House officials.
Bolton also rejected a proposal by the Department of Homeland Security to enlist the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to set up migrant camps in Mexico. Officials say Bolton was responding to Trump’s tweet, saying “CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER.” One senior official told the
Daily Beast, “ John Bolton is yelling fire in the crowded movie theater that is Trump’s mind.” An executive order would be a
sweeping use of presidential power and would undoubtedly prompt legal challenges in federal courts.
In the middle of the night at 3:14 a.m. Friday, Trump attacked CNN, tweeting, “Funny how lowly rated CNN” and others can criticize him, but when he criticizes them back, “they go wild and scream, ‘it’s just not Presidential!’” On Friday morning,
an eleventh package was found addressed to Sen. Cory Booker, another Trump critic, which the FBI said was “similar in appearance to the others,” was found in Florida. Also Friday morning,
a twelfth package addressed to former director of national intelligence James Clapper, another Trump critic, was discovered. It was addressed to the New York offices of CNN, where he works as an analyst. The package to
Clapper was intercepted at a mail facility in Midtown Manhattan, where a worker recognized it as similar to other suspicious packages discovered this week and “froze it in the system.”
Appearing on CNN shortly after the package was discovered, Clapper said “This is definitely domestic terrorism, no doubt about it in my mind,” adding, “This is not going to silence the administration’s critics.” After the two additional bombs had been reported, Trump took to Twitter, to
complain first about the government spending “Billions of Dollars a year on Illegal Immigration. This will not continue.”
Trump also complained “Twitter has removed many people from my account,” saying the company has “seemingly done something that makes it much harder to join,” and asking, “Total Bias?”
Trump also complained “Republicans are doing so well in early voting, in the polls,” but that now “this ‘Bomb; stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows,” asking “Very unfortunate, what is going on.” By late morning Friday,
NYT reported a man in Florida was arrested by federal authorities in connection with the pipe bombs sent to Trump critics. The pipe bomb suspect,
Cesar Sayoc, Jr., 56, was taken into custody. Sayoc’s white van was plastered with stickers of Trump and Pence, Democrats with bulls-eyes on them and, one with “CNN SUCKS.” Sayoc worked formerly as a
pizza deliveryman and strip-club worker, and he is a Trump superfan. He was very active on social media, frequently posting conservative talking points and conspiracy theories. Charges against Sayoc revealed
a thirteenth package had been sent to Sen. Kamala Harris, which was discovered at a Sacramento mail facility. Sen. Harris has also been a vocal critic of Trump. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Sayoc was
charged with five federal crimes, including the mailing of explosives. Charges could carry a maximum of 58 years in prison. He will be tried in the Southern District of New York. Sessions also said it is not yet known why Sayoc sent pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and CNN, but said Sayoc “
appears to be a partisan.” FBI Director Christopher Wray said 13 pipe bombs were sent to prominent Democrats and CNN, and that
they were “not hoax devices.” On Friday, speaking to reporters on the South Lawn, when asked if he
planned to reach out to the two former presidents, Trump said, ”If they wanted me to, but I think we’ll probably pass.” Trump says he knows the pipe bomb suspect was a supporter but says he bears “
no blame” for the suspect’s actions. Trump again evoked the shooting of Rep. Scalise by a Bernie Sanders supporter. Later Friday, the FBI said a
fourteenth package seized near San Francisco was sent to billionaire political activist Tom Steyer, an outspoken critic of Trump who has led a charge to have him impeached. On Friday evening, at a rally in North Carolina, Trump opened his remarks by pledging to do “everything in my power to stop” politically motivated attacks, and that “
we must unify as a nation in peace love and harmony.”
Trump then shifted to blame the media, saying “we do not blame the Democrat party for the radical, leftists,” adding “the media try to attack incredible Americans who are trying to support our movement.”
Trump talked about sending troops to the border, “Watch next week what’s going to happen.” The caravan is still weeks from the U.S. border, and this week the number of migrants dwindled from 7,200 to 3,000.
Trump also attacked Democrats, using old refrains including “Crooked Hillary” and “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer.” He also evoked Maxine Waters then stopped himself, saying “I want them to say, ‘He was so nice tonight.’” On Friday,
the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a statement, “While we cannot say that Trump’s speech directly incites violence, it is clear that some people are influenced by it.”
CPJ called on Trump to dial back the rhetoric: “Journalists across the country feel unsafe because of the constant hostility and belittling of their role in our democracy by the head of state. It needs to stop.” Central European University, a university founded by the philanthropist
George Soros, has announced it has been forced out of Hungary by the government of Viktor Orbán after 26 years. On Wednesday, Gregory Bush, 51, fatally shot two Vicki Lee Jones, 67, and Maurice E. Stallard, 69, at a
Kroger supermarket in Kentucky. Bush did not know either victim. They were both Black Americans. Jeffersontown, Kentucky police said Bush had first tried to enter the First Baptist Church,
a predominantly black church, minutes before the supermarket shooting, but was unable to gain access. On Saturday,
Robert Bowers, 46, armed with an assault rifle and at least three handguns, went on a shooting rampage at the Tree of Life synagogue, the city of Pittsburgh’s oldest Jewish congregation.
Eleven adults were killed in the attack, which the Anti-Defamation League called “likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.” Six were wounded, including four police officers. Bowers, who has a history of making virulently anti-Semitic statements online, burst into the synagogue shortly after Shabbat services began, and was yelled “
All Jews must die,” then started shooting. The DOJ said it would file hate crimes and other criminal charges.
On his social media, Bowers posted several messages supporting Trump’s political agenda, but others implying that Jews were manipulating Trump. In his first remarks on the shooting,
Trump told reporters, “It’s a terrible, terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country, frankly, and all over the world,” adding, “The results are very devastating.” When asked by reporters about stricter gun laws, Trump said “this has little to do with it” and asserted that
if they had “protection inside, the results would have been far better.” Speaking to the press shortly after,
the public safety director on Pittsburgh, holding back tears said, “It’s a very horrific crime scene — one of the worst that I’ve seen, and I’ve been on some plane crashes. It’s very bad.”
Week 79 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
May 19, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-79-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-8703d04269ab
This was the first week in many, many months that the Republican Party showed any signs of standing up to Trump. Meanwhile, Trump and his allies spent the week attacking the FBI, alleging without evidence that the agency spied on his campaign as a means to discredit the Mueller probe—which continues to escalate as it reached its one-year mark.
This week, Trump shocked the country, referring to undocumented immigrants as “animals,” then trying to legitimize his comments by saying the reference was only to gang members. Days prior, the Trump regime took steps to open military bases to house immigrants who are unaccompanied minors, or children the regime separates from their parents, evoking comparisons to “camps.” This week also marked escalating acts of racism, transphobia, xenophobia, and new assaults on the rights of women.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were the faces of our country as Trump moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, leading to protests, scores of deaths, and hundreds of injuries. Kushner, who is still without full security clearance and has no foreign policy experience but is related to Trump, spoke for the US at the opening ceremony, evoking comparisons to autocratic regimes. Signs of misuse of power and pay for play in the Trump regime abound this week, domestically, and with regard to questionable dealings relating to China and Qatar.
Los Angeles, CA. March 2018
Late Saturday, Rudy Giuliani again tried to walk back his comments about Trump blocking the AT&T-Time Warner merger, telling ABC News Trump “did not interfere with the Justice Department going ahead with the case.”
Giuliani also told ABC News Trump “ had every right and power” to block the merger, adding as “other presidents have done in anti-trust cases.”
WAPO reported Trump personally pushed US Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon, and other firms, to ship packages.
Brennan resisted, explaining in multiple conversations with Trump during 2017 and 2018 that the these arrangements are bound by contracts, and that the Amazon relationship is beneficial to the Post Office.
Although Trump and Brennan have met on the matter at the White House several times, the meetings have never appeared on Trump’s public schedule.
Trump has also had ongoing meetings during 2017 and 2018 with at least three groups of senior advisers to discuss Amazon’s business practices. Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, also owns The Washington Post.
On Sunday, WAPO reported as the Mueller probe hits the one-year mark, Mueller is steaming ahead in a methodical, secretive way, while 10 blocks away, Trump combats the probe with “bluster, disarray and defiance.”
Trump reportedly vents as often as “ 20 times a day” about the FBI raid on Michael Cohen. Trump reportedly brought in Giuliani as a confidant, as he is feeling increasingly isolated in the West Wing.
The number of witnesses called from Trump’s campaign and staff have been “ breathtaking,” including Avi Berkowitz, the personal assistant to Kushner, called twice. Some enter through the back of the building to avoid the press.
On Sunday, Axios reported on the record number of leaks from Trump’s White House. A veteran reporter noted more leaks in a week from the Trump regime than in an entire year under George W. Bush.
White House officials attribute their leaks to personal vendettas, ensuring there is an accurate record of what is happening, grudges, frustrations with incompetent or tone-deaf leadership, and an unhappy workplace.
On Monday, Trump tweeted the “so-called leaks coming out of the White House” are exaggerated by the “Fake New Media,” adding of leakers, they “ are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!”
On Monday, at the daily briefing, deputy press secretary Raj Shah reiterated the leaks coming from the White House, not the disparaging statement made about John McCain, were the focus, and said there will be no apology for the remark.
On Thursday, NYT reported the White House has canceled a large daily morning meeting of 30 communications staffers in response to the leaking of Kelly Sadler’s comments on McCain.
The New Yorker reported that Sean Hannity typically calls Trump after his 9 p.m. Fox News show, and on some days they speak multiple times. White House staffers are used to Trump referencing these conversations.
In the mornings, Trump is alone watching cable-TV and tweeting. Staffers are concerned with this pattern of behavior: Trump formally starts his day at 11 a.m. with his daily intelligence briefings in the Oval Office.
On Tuesday, WAPO reported that according to Defense Department communications, the Trump regime is making preparations to hold immigrant children on military bases.
The Department of Health and Human Services will visit four military installations in Texas and Arkansas to evaluate their suitability to shelter children. The bases would be used for unaccompanied minors, and children the regime separates from their parents.
On Tuesday, at an appeals hearing for the Trump regime’s effort to end DACA, the panel scrutinized Trump’s past statements, repeatedly questioning whether racial bias played a role in the decision to wind down the program.
On Tuesday, a Seattle judge blocked ICE from revoking a Mexican man, Daniel Ramirez Medina’s DACA protection, saying ICE had provided no evidence to back their claim that Ramirez is gang-affiliated.
On Wednesday, Trump called for stronger immigration laws and hammered California for its sanctuary cities, saying of undocumented immigrants, “ These aren’t people. These are animals.”
Trump also called on Jeff Sessions to investigate Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf for warning undocumented immigrants of an upcoming ICE sweep, saying, “You talk about obstruction of justice.”
On Thursday, at the press briefing, press secretary Sarah Sanders defended Trump, saying his “animals” comment referred to MS-13 gang members, adding “Frankly, I don’t think the term the president used is strong enough.”
On Thursday, the Anne Frank Center tweeted, “When we ask, “how could the Holocaust have happened?” this is the answer. When we think of anyone as less than human, that opens the door to atrocity.”
On Friday, the Mexican government lodged a complaint with the State Department over Trump’s comments that some immigrants are “animals,” saying, “the assertions of the U.S. president are absolutely unacceptable.”
Los Angeles, CA. March 2018
A 13-year-old black boy in Houston was kidnapped after getting off a school bus Monday. His abductors, suspected of being white supremacists, took him to an abandoned building and assaulted him.
A white woman in Memphis called the police on a black real estate investor who was inspecting a house. The woman demanded to know why he was outside. The police listened to his explanation, then told the woman she would be arrested if she interfered.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appointed Tony Perkins, head of Family Research Council (FRC), for a spot on the Commission on International Religious Freedom. Southern Poverty Law Center considers FRC to be a hate group, and Perkins is a longtime anti-LGBTQ activist.
Supporters of Patrick Little’s campaign for the Senate released anti-Semitic robocalls calling Sen. Dianne Feinstein a “traitorous Jew,”’ and saying Little will “get rid of all the nation-wrecking Jews from our country.”
On Tuesday, Aaron Schlossberg, a lawyer, was captured in a video becoming enraged after overhearing two employees at a Fresh Kitchen in Manhattan speaking Spanish. Schlossberg raged, “this is America,” and “my next call is to ICE.”
On Thursday, Rep. Adriano Espaillat and Bronx Borough President Diaz Jr. filed a formal complaint with the state court disciplinary system. Also on Thursday, Schlossberg was kicked out of his office space.
A Starbucks barista in suburban Los Angeles is accused of printing a racial slur on a Latino customer’s drinks: instead of writing the customer’s name, Pedro, they wrote “Beaner,” a derogatory term for Mexicans in the US.
Jazmina Saavedra, a GOP candidate for Congress in California, filmed herself confronting a transgender woman using a bathroom at a Denny’s in Los Angeles.
Saavedra approached the woman, says, “I’m trying to use the ladies’ room and there is a man here claiming that he is a lady.” She confronted the transgender woman again while exiting, and later posted the video online.
On Friday, the Trump regime announced a new rule under which clinics that provide abortions or refer patients to places that do would lose federal funding. The rule takes direct aim at Planned Parenthood.
WAPO reported Virginia election officials mis-assigned 28 voters living in a predominantly African American precinct during the November 2017 election, possibly costing Democrats a pivotal race.
The race between David Yancey and Shelly Simonds was decided by picking a name from a bowl. Yancey’s victory allowed Republicans to maintain control of the House of Delegates, 51 to 49, even as Democrats picked up 15 seats.
On Friday, a school shooting at Santa Fe High School in southeast Texas killed ten. WAPO reported that in 2018 so far, more people have been killed at schools than have been killed while serving in the military.
The FCC announced net neutrality rules will expire on June 11. Chairman Ajit Pai said, “these unnecessary and harmful internet regulations will be repealed and the bipartisan, light touch approach” will be restored.
On Sunday, NYT reported Betsy DeVos’ Education Department plans to unwind a unit that was investigating widespread abuses and fraud by for-profit colleges. As Obama left office there were about a dozen employees; now there are three.
The unit was investigating fraudulent activities at institutions, including DeVry Education Group. That investigated ended early 2018, and in the summer, DeVos named Julian Schmoke, a former dean at DeVry, as the team’s new supervisor.
On Monday, Politico reported newly disclosed emails reveal Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency and the White House sought to block publication of a federal health study on a nationwide water-contamination crisis earlier this year.
The report found toxic chemicals have contaminated water supplies near military bases, chemical plants, and other sites from New York to Michigan to West Virginia. The regime said releasing it would be a “public relations nightmare.”
On Monday, CNN reported that a letter from the EPA’s inspector general revealed that contrary to his public statements, Pruitt’s requested 24/7 security detail on his first day working for the agency.
On Tuesday, Trump nominated Gordon Hartogensis, a self-described entrepreneur who is Speaker McConnell and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s brother-in-law to lead the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
The PBGC pays worker pensions when employers terminate their retirement plans. The state of the agency is dire: assets of $2.3 billion and liabilities of $67 billion. The White House did not provide a biographical information for Hartogensis with the announcement.
On Tuesday, the Trump regime officially eliminated the White House’s top cyber adviser role, a position created under Obama. In Week 78, John Bolton had pushed to cut the role.
The cyber adviser led a team who worked with agencies to develop a unified strategy for issues like election security and digital deterrence. Experts and government officials criticized the move as a step backwards.
On Tuesday, the EPA inspector general announced it is investigating Pruitt’s use of nonpublic email accounts to assess whether he is keeping a record of his emails, and whether the EPA is searching all his accounts when fulfilling public records requests.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, DeVos toured two New York City schools, but did not visit any of the city’s public schools. DeVos has yet to visit a district-run school in New York.
Los Angeles, CA. March 2018
The Scotsman reported Trump’s Scottish resort received £5,600 in US government funds for VIP visits by officials in his regime, marking the first known instance of the property receiving US taxpayer money.
CNN reported that a former Trump campaign aide, Bryan Lanza, is lobbying on behalf of the chairman of EN+ Group, a company controlled by Deripaska. The company is seeking to reduce Deripaska’s stake in order to be freed of US sanctions.
USA Today reported lobbying firms with ties to Trump and Pence collected at least $28 million in federal lobbying fees since Trump took office.
Ballard Partners, overseen by Brian Ballard, has seen the biggest benefit, including a one-year contract with the government of Qatar that is worth as much as $2.1 million, reportedly for potential investments in Florida.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted he would help a Chinese company, tweeting, “President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast.”
ZTE, the fourth-largest phone maker in the US, violated US sanctions by doing business with Iran. In March 2017, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced an “unprecedented” $1.19 billion penalty against the company.
In April 2018, citing ZTE engaged in a “extensive conspiracy” to evade U.S. laws, the Commerce Department banned American companies from buying or selling the phone-maker’s products for the next seven years.
In Week 78, Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, and has re-imposed sanctions on Iran this last and this week, as well as threatening to go after European allies if they continue to do business with Iran.
Trump tweeted, “China and the United States are working well together on trade, but past negotiations have been so one sided in favor of China,” adding, “But be cool, it will all work out!”
On Sunday, press secretary Sanders said the regime is in touch with China, and Trump expected Ross to “exercise his independent judgment … to resolve the regulatory action involving ZTE based on its facts.”
Agence France-Presse reported last Thursday, the developer of a resort outside of Jakarta signed a deal to receive as much as $500 million from the Chinese government. The Trump Organization has a deal to license the Trump name to the resort.
At Monday’s press briefing, deputy press secretary Shah referred questions on the Indonesian project to the Trump Organization. The Trump Organization acknowledged its involvement, but refused to comment.
On Tuesday, top intelligence officials told the Senate Intelligence Committee that ZTE cell phones could pose a national security risk to the US, saying their products could be used by the Chinese government to spy.
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted,“Nothing has happened with ZTE except as it pertains to the larger trade deal,” contradicting Ross, who said Monday, “Our position has been that that’s an enforcement action separate from trade.”
Trump also attacked media coverage of ZTE, tweeting “The Washington Post and CNN have typically written false stories about our trade negotiations with China.”
On Thursday, in a rebuke to Trump, the House Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to accept an amendment that reinforces sanctions against ZTE, preventing the Commerce Department from renegotiating sanctions it enacted last month.
On Sunday, Michael Avenatti tweeted photos, alleging that on December 12, 2016, members of the Trump transition team met with a group from Qatar that included Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, the head of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Ahmed Al-Rumaihi confirmed he did meet with Trump transition officials that day, “in his then role as head of Qatar Investments,” but that he did not participate in meetings with Michael Flynn.
On Wednesday, WAPO reported Cohen solicited at least $1 million from the government of Qatar in exchange for access on December 12, the same day the Qatari foreign minister was meeting with Flynn and Steve Bannon.
Cohen did not participate in the official meeting at Trump Tower, but spoke separately with Ahmed al-Rumaihi, who declined the offer. This is the first known time that Cohen pitched his influence.
Rumaihi told the Post of Cohen, “He just threw it out there” as a cost of “doing business.” At the time, Cohen was also angling for a White House position, possibly chief of staff.
NBC News reported Qatari officials have information showing illicit influence by the United Arab Emirates on Jared Kushner, including secret meetings. Trump associates George Nader and Elliott Broidy also attended the meetings.
Qatari officials believe the secret meetings, as well as Qataris turning down the 666 Fifth Avenue deal with Kushner, influenced Trump’s public endorsement of an economic blockade of Qatar by its neighbors.
Qataris did not share information with Mueller out of concern for harming their relationship with the Trump regime, after a Qatari delegation came to DC in early 2018 and felt the meetings were productive.
On Thursday, NYT reported the Kushners are near a deal to get bailed out of the failing 666 Fifth Avenue deal by Brookfield Properties, whose second-largest shareholder is the Qatar Investment Authority.
Foreign Policy reported Cohen met with Qatar’s minister of economy and commerce, Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thanilast, last month in Miami, just days before the FBI raided his office and hotel room.
The meeting took place on the sidelines of the Qatar-U.S. Economic Forum in Miami. A Qatari embassy spokesperson said Cohen requested a meeting with Al Thani, adding “The State of Qatar has never been a client of Mr. Cohen.”
On Monday, Kushner and Ivanka were the smiling faces of America as the new US embassy opened in Jerusalem. In the protests that ensued, dozens of Palestinians were shot dead and thousands were injured.
Trump did not attend, so after an introduction by the US ambassador to Israel, Kushner was the main US speaker at the opening. Kushner has no foreign policy expertise and continues to be denied full security clearance.
Trump picked evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress to give a blessing at the opening. Jeffress has in the past said, “You can’t be saved by being a Jew,” and that “Islam is a false religion that is based on a false book.”
Los Angeles, CA. March 2018
On Monday, first lady Melania Trump was admitted to the hospital for a kidney procedure. Trump did not accompany her for the procedure, and it was noted the day prior, did not tweet about Melania on Mother’s Day.
On Tuesday, the White House abruptly canceled their daily press briefing. No reason was given for the cancellation. On Wednesday, the White House news briefing was removed from the schedule.
On Tuesday, the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency reported Kim Jong Un threatened to cancel the upcoming summit with Trump, citing ongoing joint military drills involving South Korea and the US.
On Wednesday, North Korea canceled its summit with South Korea, and said it may cancel the US summit if the US continues to insist on scrapping the country’s nuclear program.
On Thursday, Trump sought to reassure Kim Jong Un, saying at an Oval Office meeting with NATO’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg that North Korea “will get protections that are very strong,” if they surrender their nuclear weapons.
On Monday evening, a court filing revealed Mueller had obtained a secret order to suspend the statute of limitations on one of the charges brought against Paul Manafort. The secret order was made public after Manafort requested that the charge be thrown out.
On Tuesday, a federal judge denied Manafort’s motion to dismiss the indictment against him in Washington DC, saying it “falls squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel.”
On Monday, Facebook announced it will suspend an additional 200 apps as part of its investigation and audit process in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica revelations.
On Tuesday, NYT reported the Justice Department and FBI have an open investigation into Cambridge Analytica and “associated U.S. persons.” The inquiry appears to be in it early stages.
The investigation is focused on the company’s financial dealings, and how it acquired and used personal data pulled from Facebook and other sources. Prosecutors from the Justice Department’s securities and financial fraud division and the FBI’s cybercrime unit are involved.
On Wednesday, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying the company offered services to discourage or suppress voting from targeted sections of Americans.
Wylie said Bannon’s “goals was to suppress voting or discourage certain individuals in the US from voting,” adding African-Americans were particular targets of Cambridge Analytica’s “voter disengagement tactics.”
Wylie explained how the Facebook data could have been shared with Russians, saying professor Aleksandr Kogan, who gathered the data, made numerous trips to Russia as part of his work with St. Petersburg University.
On Monday, Politico reported Andrii Artemenko, the Ukrainian lawmaker who served as a conduit for the Russia-backed Ukrainian peace plan, will testify before a grand jury connected to the Mueller investigation.
Artemenko contacted Felix Sater to find the best way to get his plan to the Trump regime during the transition. Sater introduced him to Cohen, who left the plan with then National Security Adviser Flynn.
On Friday, Artemenko told Politico that in “ at least” two interviews, FBI agents have peppered him with “assorted questions” about his “meetings, dealings and the questions discussed” with American politicians.
Artemenko said these included congressmen, senators and members of the Trump regime. He was presented with a list of more than 140 questions, and is scheduled to appear before a grand jury on June 1.
On Wednesday, Felix Ehrat, a top lawyer at Novartis who co-signed a $1.2 million contract to hire Cohen, said he would step down in June, saying, “Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error.”
On Wednesday, Yahoo News reported prosecutors and congressional investigators have obtained text messages and emails which show Cohen was still working on the Trump Tower Moscow deal as late as May 2016.
Text messages and emails from Sater provided to the government contradict Cohen’s statement that he gave up on the deal in January 2016. Sater and Cohen first met when they were both in high school.
On Thursday, BuzzFeed reported that in December 30, 2015, when negotiations on Trump Tower stalled, Cohen texted Sater, “I will not let you fuck with my job and playing point person,” adding “Not you or anyone you know will embarrass me in front of Mr. T.”
FBI agents told BuzzFeed that Cohen was speaking to multiple Russians about Trump Tower Moscow, even though he tried to reach and push the deal through Peskov, the Kremlin’s press secretary, on January 21, 2016.
Sater reportedly kept working the Trump Tower Moscow deal through the RNC Convention, until July 26, 2016 when he read Trump tweet: “For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia.”
On Thursday, Reuters reported Jeffrey Yohai, a former business partner of Manafort who was divorced from Manafort’s daughter last August, cut a plea deal which requires him to cooperate with criminal probes.
WSJ reported Yohai pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges in a sealed proceeding in California in January. Yohai also pleaded guilty to misrepresenting his income and assets to obtain a no limit credit card.
Yohai has met with Mueller’s team, who have brought charges against Manafort, and also in recent months with the New York attorney general’soffice as part of the probe investigating both Manafort and Yohai.
On Friday, Reuters reported Mueller recently subpoenaed John Kakanis, a key assistant to Roger Stone. Kakanis has worked as a driver, accountant, and operative for Stone, indicating the investigation is focusing on Stone.
Reportedly, Kakanis has been briefly questioned by the FBI on topics including Russian interference in the 2016 election, WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, and the hackers known as Guccifer 2.0.
During the 2016 Republican primaries, a Stone PAC paid $130,000 to Citroen Associates for “voter fraud research and documentation” and “research services consulting.” Kakanis is the owner of Citroen.
On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee released 2,500 pages of documents related to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. The materials include transcripts and other exhibits.
The roots of the meeting trace back to Trump’s Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, financed by Aras and Emin Agalarov in 2013. Trump wanted to meet with Putin, and continued pressing for that throughout the years.
The transcripts reveal Donald Jr. did not think there was anything wrong with meeting with a Russian lawyer in hopes of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton. According to an attendee, he opened the meeting, saying, “I believe you have some information for us.”
The transcripts also reveal the disappointment of Donald Jr., Kushner, and Manafort that the meeting did not yield harmful information. Rob Goldstone was also disappointed, and had reservations about setting the meeting up, “I believed it was a bad idea and that we shouldn’t do it.”
Ike Kaveladze said Donald Jr. closed out the meeting by telling the Russians they could revisit the discussions about lifting sanctions should Trump win the election. Kaveladze said the Magnitsky Act dominated discussion.
When asked if Trump was involved in drafting the statement about the meeting, Donald Jr. responded, “ I don’t know. I never spoke to my father about it.” Later, Donald Jr. said he may have edited it through Hope Hicks.
Donald Jr.’s frequently answered that he did not recall, including saying he did not remember ever discussing the Russia investigation with Trump, or many of the calls or emails leading up to the June 2016 meeting.
Also in the documents is an email from Anthony Scaramucci to Goldstone on July 2017, after Trump appointed him a senior White House role, saying, “Obviously there is still pressure on all sides, but if we remain consistent and united I don’t envisage any issues we can’t ride out.”
Documents revealed the Nov. 28, 2016 Goldstone email to Trump’s assistant, Rhona Graff sent to undermine US sanctions, was forwarded by Graff to Bannon, with a note, “The PE [president elect] knows Aras well. Rob is his rep in the US.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee report also said the Kremlin used the NRA to help Trump in 2016, including an offer for a potential meeting between Trump and Putin, and possibly secretly funding the campaign.
The report found the committee’s work is incomplete, “We still do not know the full story about the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower or, more broadly, the degree to which the campaign cooperated or communicated with Russia.”
On Wednesday, Richard Burr and Mark Warner, leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, broke from the House Intelligence Committee, saying they agreed with the intelligence assessment.
Warner said there was an “ extensive, sophisticated” effort that was “ordered by President Putin himself,” with the purpose of helping Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
Several top Republicans in the Senate also voiced support for the intelligence community’s findings, including James Lankford, Susan Collins, and John Cornyn, who said the assessment was “by and large well done.”
On Wednesday, according to a federally required annual financial disclosure form released by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels.
The payment was disclosed in a note at the bottom of Page 45 of the 92-page report states. “Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Cohen in 2017” in the category of value between $100,001 and $250,000.
Federal law requires White House officials to “report liabilities owed to any creditor that exceeded $10,000 at any time during the reporting period.” Trump did not report the payment in his 2017 filing.
On Wednesday, OGE acting director David Apol referred Trump’s financial disclosures to the Justice Department, after determining Trump should have disclosed his reimbursement payment in last year’s form.
In May 2017, information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows Trump’s former attorney, Sheri Dillon, wanted to submit last year’s financial disclosure without having him certify the information as true.
Trump also listed $315 million in debt, including $175 million to Deutsche Bank, and $100 million to a far-less well-known lender, Ladder Capital.
Trump’s disclosure also revealed Trump Hotel DC earned $40 million for calendar year 2017, Trump’s first year in office. Revenue included $350,000 in campaign funds, 60% from Republican National Committee events.
Hotel customers included officials or lobbyists for the governments of Malaysia, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Trump Hotel DC also hosted events for a number of domestic industries, including mining and confections.
On Wednesday, The New Yorker reported the motivation for the official who leaked Cohen’s financial records was that two suspicious-activity reports (SARs), had gone missing from the FinCEN database.
The official said that those two reports detail more than $3 million in additional questionable transactions from Cohen’s account, adding, “When something’s not there that should be, I immediately became concerned.”
The three SARS were filed by First Republic. The one made public by Avenatti details only transactions from September of 2017 to January of 2018, and alludes to the previous two reports which have gone missing.
On Thursday, WAPO reported the Treasury Department’s inspector general is expanding its probe into leaks, to include reports leaked to Avenatti as well as the source of The New Yorker story.
Treasury officials said in a statement that since 2009, FinCEN has had the ability restrict access to sensitive SARs.
On Friday, BuzzFeed reported that according to three sources, the two Cohen SARs are not missing, but rather Treasury Department officials have taken the highly unusual step of restricting access to them.
Sources said limiting access is rare, and most likely came from the top of the Treasury Department. Limiting access to the SARs may have been an effort to crack down on leaks.
On Wednesday, Axios reported a major rift between Peter Navarro and Steven Mnuchin has opened, with the two exchanging snipes during the Trump delegation’s trip to China two weeks ago.
As China’s top trade negotiator Liu He arrived in Washington DC, regime members set to attend the meeting were Mnuchin, Ross, Robert Lighthizer, and Larry Kudlow. China hardliner Navarro was initially excluded.
On Thursday, Bloomberg reported Navarro will take part in China talks. It was not known why the regime decided to reinstate him in the talks, or what role Navarro would play.
On Wednesday, at a commencement address at the Virginia Military Institute, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned of a “growing crisis in ethics and integrity,” and said if we don’t confront it, “then American democracy, as we know it, is entering its twilight years.”
Tillerson also said if our leaders conceal the truth or if “we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts,” then we are “are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.”
On Wednesday, the Senate approved overturning the FCC’s net neutrality repeal by a 52-47 vote, with Sens. Collins, Lisa, Murkowski, and John Kennedy joining Democrats. The House does not intend to take the measure up.
On Wednesday, NYT reported the FBI opened an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia in the summer of 2016, dispatching agents to London for a highly secret meeting, privy to only a handful.
Two agents met with the Australian ambassador, Alexander Downer, who had evidence that one of Trump’s advisers knew about Russia’s election meddling — that adviser turned out to be George Papadopoulos.
The agents summarized their findings on August 2, 2016 for a small group of FBI officials who knew it by its code name: Crossfire Hurricane. Agents considered, then rejected, interviewing key Trump associates, for fear of revealing the existence of the case.
The FBI investigated four unidentified Trump campaign aides in the early months: Flynn, Manafort, Papadopoulos, and Carter Page. Top officials were convinced there was almost no chance they could conclude if there was collusion before Election Day, and chose to keep it under wraps.
On Wednesday, in testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, FBI director Christopher Wray defended the bureau against criticism by House Republicans. Wray said he doubled the number of staff in March to keep up with GOP document requests.
Wray underscored the importance of protecting the identity of sources, saying, “The day that we can’t protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe.”
On Thursday, Trump marked the one-year anniversary of the Mueller probe, tweeting, “Congratulations America, we are now into the second year of the greatest Witch Hunt in American History.”
Trump also repeated accusations the FBI had an informant inside his 2016 campaign, tweeting “word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI ‘SPIED ON THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH AN EMBEDDED INFORMANT.’”
On Thursday morning, Trump surrogates parroted this mantra. Giuliani told “Fox & Friends” that he was “shocked to hear that they put a spy in the campaign,” and “I think the investigation should be thrown out.”
Kellyanne Conway also appeared on “Fox & Friends,” saying “It looks like the Trump campaign may have been surveilled.” Corey Lewandowski went on Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria,” and repeated the same allegations.
On Thursday, WAPO reported Trump is joining forces with Rep. Devin Nunes and other of his allies on Capitol Hill and in the conservative media to out a top-secret FBI source in order to undercut the Russia investigation.
Reportedly the stakes are so high, the FBI is working to mitigate the potential damage if the sources is revealed, including steps to protect other live investigations and danger to associates of the informer.
Trump allies believe outing the source and revealing details about their work could help them challenge the investigation, and give them grounds to remove Mueller, or his overseer, Rod Rosenstein.
Trump complains the Mueller probe is “all-encompassing,” and encourages his allies to go on television and “beat the drums.” Bannon is back, acting as an informal adviser to Trump allies in and outside the White House.
On Friday, Trump tweeted, “ Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes,” adding “It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a ‘hot’ Fake News story.”
Trump also tweeted is was the “ all time biggest political scandal!” Trump also questioned in tweets why “disgraced FBI official Andrew McCabe” wasn’t being investigated, and why the Clinton case was dropped.
On Friday, Sen. Warner warned in a statement that attempts to expose an FBI source during an active investigation was “potentially illegal,” adding, “Publicly outing a source risks not only their life, but the lives of every American.”
On Friday, NYT reported that the FBI used an informant, not to spy, to talk to Page and Papadopoulos only after the FBI received evidence that the two had suspicious contacts linked to Russia during the campaign.
The informant is an American academic who teaches in Britain, and was used, as opposed to an FBI agent, to ensure details of the inquiry were more closely held than is typical given it took place during the campaign.
The informant had also contact with Flynn in 2014 at the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar. The source was alarmed by the general’s apparent closeness with a Russian woman and warned American authorities that Flynn could be compromised.
On Friday, WAPO also reported the secret FBI source was a professor interested in American politics, not a spy. Some time in 2016, he began working as secret informant for the FBI.
In addition to Papadopoulos and Page, WAPO also reported t he professor met with Trump campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis for coffee in Northern Virginia, offering to lend the Trump team his foreign-policy experience.
On Friday, NBC News reported the professor who met with both Page and Papadopoulos is Stefan Halper, a former official in the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations.
Los Angeles, CA. March 2018
On Thursday, a poll released by Survey Monkey found that just 13% of Americans consider Trump honest and trustworthy. The poll was conducted between February 1 and May 9.
On Thursday, while meeting with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg at the White House, Trump again said NATO members that do not contribute fully would be “dealt with,” singling out Germany.
On Friday, Giuliani told CNN Mueller has agreed to narrow the scope of a potential Trump interview from five to two topics, and agreed not to ask Trump about Cohen. Giuliani added “the main focus we want … is Russia.”
Giuliani also backed off from saying there were informants embedded with the Trump campaign who spoke to federal authorities, saying, “I don’t know for sure, nor does the President, if there really was. We’re told that.”
On Thursday, an appeals court denied Trump’s request to stay proceedings in the Summer Zervos defamation suit. The legal setback for Trump could open him up to discovery in the case, although Trump is likely to appeal.
On Thursday, Avenatti told MSNBC that two other women with solid caseswho claim to have had affairs with Trump signed NDAs and received payments may soon come forward. Other cases are also being vetted.
On Friday, lawyers for Cohen and Stephanie Clifford continued to attack each other in dueling memos. Cohen’s lawyers filed a scathing motion asking a judge to keep Avenatti from formally entering the case, saying he was “fanning a media storm” and “smearing” Cohen.
Avenatti answered with a motion, arguing that many of his adversaries’ assaults on him were “ unsubstantiated,” “baseless,” and lacking in “admissible evidence.”
One year in on the Mueller probe, FiveThirtyEight found Mueller to be more productive than past investigations like Watergate, Iran-Contra, and Whitewater. Mueller has racked up five guilty pleas, 14 indictments of individuals, and the Cohen referral to the Southern District of New York.
Week 67 of this ‘presidency’: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
February 24, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-67-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-6bc3c6c84d02
On a holiday week with Congress out of session, gun control and the Mueller probe dominated the headlines and the country’s attention. The youth-led activism on gun control sparked by Parkland students has been compared to the successful youth movement against the Vietnam War. The Trump regime was caught flat-footed on the issue, left to parrot NRA talking points; while one White House described the mass shooting as a “reprieve” from a series of negative news and scandals starting in Week 65.
The Mueller probe made news this week with new indictments, and the probe’s fourth and fifth guilty pleas. A comparison of public knowledge on where the probe was headed was made to the “tip of the iceberg,” as charges against a previously unknown Dutch man whose father-in-law is a Russian oligarch came Tuesday. Trump’s White House continues its high-drama chaos with continuing threats of firings and actual resignations, and amid controversy over access to highly classified materials.
On a sign in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. February 2018
On Saturday, at the Munich Security Conference, US lawmakers from both parties and top national security officials
told Europe’s foreign policy elite to ignore Trump’s tweets, Trump’s main mode of communication. On Saturday, in the opening of her show, Fox News’
Jeanine Pirro slammed the FBI again, this time over the Parkland shooting, saying “The FBI needs a complete overhaul, a complete cleansing.” On Sunday,
Rep. Trey Gowdy defended Mueller on “Face the Nation” after the indictments, saying “Russia is not our friend,” adding about Mueller, “This is exactly what we wanted him to do.” Other Republicans have been silent.
WAPO reported Trump spent the weekend at Mar-a-Lago stewing, watching cable news and calling friends to vent. On Saturday and Sunday Trump skipped golf, reportedly to honor the Parkland victims. Starting after 11 p.m. Saturday night and continuing through midday Sunday,
Trump sent a series of 10 tweets lashing out at the Russia probe. The tweets were laden with false statements, profanity, and misspellings. Trump seized on Mueller’s Russian indictments and Rod Rosenstein’s statement that there is
“no allegation in the indictment that any American had any knowledge” of Russian election interference in this indictment to yet again claim he was exonerated. Trump tweeted he
“never said Russia did not meddle in the election.” This is false. Trump has called Russian meddling a “hoax” and a “witch hunt” ginned up by Democrats numerous times before and after taking office. Trump also
criticized H.R. McMaster’s incontrovertible statement tweeting McMaster forgot to add the 2016 results were not impacted, and “the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems.” Trump tweeted that
he had “never gotten over the fact” that Obama “was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran,” which Trump complained no one in Congress, the DOJ, or FBI is investigating.
Trump lashed out at Rep. Schiff, tweeting “Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control” is now blaming Obama for Russian meddling as an excuse for why “Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election.” Trump tweeted that the FBI missed “signals” sent out about the school shooting because the agency was too focused on Russian collusion, drawing widespread condemnation, including
from survivors on Twitter. Asked about Trump, Emma Gonzalez, a Parkland student who is helping organize gun-control marches in DC and other cities on March 24 said,
“the best thing for us to do is ignore him,” calling his words “disgraceful.” On Sunday night, Trump was again tweeting,
this time mocking a “very insecure” Oprah for her performance on “60 Minutes,” adding “Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!” On Monday, which was President’s Day, after golfing, Trump took to Twitter
to again criticize Obama, saying Obama was president during the election, asking “So why didn’t he do something about Russian meddling?” On Monday,
WAPO reported according to a White House official, after the flurry of negative news to hit the regime in the last week, the school shooting which killed 17 was viewed as a “a distraction or a reprieve.”
Baltimore Sun reported Republican Aaron Penman, who is running for state delegate, hosted a “gun bingo” campaign fundraiser that included raffling off an AR-15 gun, three days after the Parkland shooting. The Chicago Blackhawks
banned four fans from their home games for directing racist taunts at Black American hockey player Devante Smith-Pelly of the Washington Capitals while he was in the penalty box.
Politico reported the Trump regime is trimming language on women’s reproductive rights and discrimination from the soon-to-be-released State Department annual report on global human rights. By order of the regime, passages which deal with women’s access to contraceptives and abortion will be removed, and a broader section which chronicles racial, ethnic and sexual discrimination will be pared down.
The State Department report is relied on by a range of people, from U.S. lawmakers to political activists. Officials say these late, unusual revisions reflect Trump regime orders while many key roles remain unstaffed.
Reuters reported Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House are replacing Matthew Masterson, chair of the Election Assistance Commission who has helped states protect election systems from cyber-attacks by Russia.
Masterson is a popular figure among state election officials, who praised his expertise. He was picked by GOP speaker John Boehner and nominated by Obama to a four-year term. Ryan and Trump will pick his replacement.
Politico reported Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services is taking steps to dismantle LGBTQ health initiatives: regulations to protect LGBTQ worker and patients have halted or rolled back, LGBTQ-friendly language removed from documents. Senior advisers
dedicated to LGBTQ health have been reassigned. Officials are also concerned that many Trump appointees at the agency have records of anti-LGBTQ beliefs or actions. NY Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin proposed sweeping reforms to federal Immigration and Nationality Law that
would allow the government to revoke citizenship within 10 years for a broad range of alleged offenses. On Thursday,
Intercept reported an email sent to US Citizenship and Immigration Services staff members by director L. Francis Cissna announced a new agency mission statement which omits the words “nation of immigrants.” In its annual audit of the world’s human rights, Amnesty International accused Trump of taking “actions that violate human rights at home and abroad,”
grouping Trump with other authoritarian leaders from Egypt, Russia, China, the Philippines, and Venezuela. Amnesty International said
Trump’s policies created a year of “hate-filled rhetoric,” citing his Muslim Bans, anti-immigration policies, and his attacks on the rights of women and girls, the LGBTQ community, and more.
AP reported the Trump regime is calling for the elimination of LIHEAP — Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program — which provides heating assistance for low-income families, as part of his 2019 budget. Also as part the 2019 budget, Ryan Zinke’s
Interior Department plans to use money raised from drilling on public lands to fund $18 billion of backlogged infrastructure plans at his department’s choosing. On Wednesday,
WAPO reported two senior US Geological Survey officials resigned after Zinke asked them to provide confidential data on the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska before it was released to the public, an action which would violated the USGS’s scientific integrity policy. On Monday,
Scott Pruitt postponed canceled a trip scheduled to Israel amid scrutiny over his travel costs. According to Week 66, Pruitt reportedly has been flying in first class and on military jets. On Wednesday, Rep. Gowdy, chair the House Oversight Committee,
demanded Pruitt turn over documents related to his first-class travel, and raised concerns about conflicting statements from Pruitt’s press office.
Trump’s nominee to become ambassador to the Bahamas, billionaire Doug Manchester, headed a newspaper where former employees said the “‘Mad Men’-style,” was uncomfortable and often disrespectful toward women.
WAPO reported that two weeks after Trump nominated Florida businessman Leandro Rizzuto Jr. to become ambassador to Barbados, Rizzuto pledged thousands to underwrite a gala at Mar-a-Lago. Since Trump has yet to nominate a head of the Office of Science and Technology Policy,
the position is held by Michael Kratsios, a 31 year-old former chief of staff to Peter Thiel who has a political science degree. CNN reported
The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s inspector general is looking in the role secretary Ben Carson’s family has played at the agency. In Week 64, Carson was warned by agency lawyers about his sending his son on a listening tour.
WSJ reported watchdog group Common Cause filed complaints with the FEC and DOJ asking the agencies to investigate the $150k payment to Karen McDougal who sold her Trump story to the National Enquirer (AMI). Common Cause said the “catch and kill”
payment made by AMI was intended to influence the election. Michael Cohen was in touch with AMI’s CEO and chief content officer during the investigation. CNBC reported
Trump’s former bodyguard, Keith Schiller, worked for Trump for nearly 20 years, is being paid $15k a month from a GOP slush fund. Schiller has been questioned as part of the Mueller probe. CNBC reported
the RNC has been quietly paying more than $37,000 a month in rent to Trump’s companies and thousands more in salary to Pence’s nephew for expenses previously covered by the Trump campaign. These
payments started shortly after the RNC came under pressure for paying legal bills for Trump and Donald Jr. in the Mueller probe, and stopped doing so.
Forbes reported based on identifying 164 tenants of Trump properties, at least 36 have meaningful relationships with the federal government, from contractors to lobbying firms to regulatory targets.
Forbes noted China’s largest bank, the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China is a tenant on the 20th floor of Trump Tower, six floors below Trump’s desk. The Chinese government is majority owner of the bank. Donald Jr. made an
“unofficial” business trip to India to promote Trump Organization real estate transactions. While there, he delivered a foreign policy speech on Indo-Pacific relations at an event with Indian PM Narendra Modi. Indian newspapers have been running full-page advertisements about the Trump Tower project under the headline: “Trump is Here — Are You Invited?”
inviting people to spend a $38k booking fee and meet Donald Jr. During his trip,
Donald Jr. praised the “spirit” of people in poverty-stricken areas of India, adding that he likes that they “smile.” Trump Tower apartments in a New Delhi suburb run from $775,000 to $1.5 million.
Donald Jr. called accusations that his family is profiting from Trump’s position “nonsense,” adding “It’s sort of a shame. Because we put on all these impositions on ourselves and essentially got no credit.” On Tuesday,
a review board overseeing Puerto Rico’s housing contracts suspended a $133 million contract awarded to Adjusters International, whose senior vice presidents is Trump’s failed FEMA nominee Daniel Craig.
Craig helped his firm with the bid for the contract which should have been disqualified for failing to comply with FEMA requirements. Craig is under federal investigation for ethics issues involving FEMA contracts for Hurricane Katrina.
AP reported six-months after Hurricane Harvey in Texas, recovery has lagged well behind earlier post-disaster efforts. Relief efforts have been slow to unfold and tangled with bureaucracy. Federal records show
it took four times as long to house people in trailers after Harvey than Katrina, and housing repairs are running months behind Sandy. Local communities have been left to their own devices. On Tuesday, the regime held its first daily press briefing in over a week, and first since the Parkland shooting, with unanswered questions on the Rob Porter scandal, Russian indictments, and hush money for Trump’s affairs.
The briefing started 88 minutes late, the longest delay to date, and lasted only 20 minutes long. Sanders left many questions unanswered, cutting off at 3:30 p.m. for Trump’s Public Safety Medal of Valor Awards Ceremony. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said
Trump has repeatedly acknowledged Russian interference, and that Trump “has been tougher on Russia in the first year than Obama was in eight years combined.” Both statements are false.
Sanders also said VA chief David Shulkin’s job is safe, despite alleged misuse of taxpayer money during a 10-day trip to Europe and attempts to conceal it in Week 66, unless “other stuff comes up.”
Politico reported it has been a year since Trump held a news conference. In their first years in office, Obama held 11 formal news conferences, George W. Bush held four, Clinton held 14, and George H.W. Bush held 26. On Tuesday,
a front page story at , who claims Trump kissed her for two minutes when she worked as a secretary at Trump Tower in 2006. WAPO was “Is anyone listening?” the story of Rachel Crooks On Tuesday, Trump sent two tweets denying Crooks’ claim, calling it “Another False Accusation,” saying of
Crooks, “to the best of my knowledge, never met,” and “Never happened!”
Trump also lashed out at , calling the paper “Fake News Washington Post,” and asking why WAPO in his tweets WAPO doesn’t “report the story of the women taking money to make up stories about me?”
Crooks is one of 16 women who have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump. Crooks is also running in November 2018 for a seat in Ohio’s state Legislature. On Tuesday in a Kentucky rural district,
Democrat Linda Belcher won a state House of Representative seat by 36 points. Trump won the district by 49 points in 2016, an 85 point swing. On Tuesday,
NYT reported Jared Kushner is resisting giving up his access to highly classified information, sparking an internal struggle with chief of staff John Kelly, who announced an overhaul of the security process in a memo in Week 66. Kelly’s public statements, in which
he said policy change would not harm Kushner’s ability to do his job, have ratcheted up tensions. Kushner and Ivanka reportedly were critical of Kelly when speaking to Trump. On Wednesday,
Trump again attacked his beleaguered Attorney General, tweeting the Obama administration did nothing about Russian meddling so “why aren’t they the subject of the investigation?” adding “Ask Jeff Sessions!” On Sunday, the
LA Times reported Rick Gates will change his plea to guilty of fraud-related charges, and testify against Paul Manafort. Gates will become the fourth person in the Mueller probe to plead guilty and cooperate. On Monday,
CNN reported Mueller’s interest in Kushner has expanded to include Kushner’s efforts to secure financing for his company from foreign investors during the presidential transition. Mueller is interested in Kushner’s discussions with Chinese investors, including
Anbang’s chairman, Wu Xiaohui, a week after the election, as well as negotiations with a Qatari investor, relating to 666 Fifth Avenue. In
Week 35, Intercept reported Kushner not getting a deal with a Qatar sovereign wealth fund on 666 Fifth Avenue may have influenced US policy towards Qatar. Mueller is
also reportedly investigating Kushner’s involvement in the Trump campaign’s 2016 data analytics operation, his relationship with Flynn, and Kushner’s contacts with Russians. On Monday,
Politico reported conservatives are urging Trump to grant pardons to limit the impact of the Mueller probe. Supporters said Trump should consider pardoning Michael Flynn, Manafort, Gates, and George Papadopoulos. On Wednesday,
conservative media floated a false narrative that based on a new filing in his case, Flynn should withdraw his guilty plea because the special counsel “withheld” evidence which could exonerate him. Director of National Intelligence
Dan Coats defended hosting the controversial secret visit by Russian spy chiefs in Week 64, telling Sen. Chuck Schumer in a letter that the meetings focused on counterterrorism cooperation. One of the visitors was
GRU chief, Igor Korobov, who was sanctioned for interfering in the US election. When MSNBC asked the State Department about his travel waiver, they were directed by State to the Russian government.
BuzzFeed reported Mueller’s team has now identified more than $40 million in “suspicious” financial transactions to and from companies controlled by Manafort. Mueller’s October indicted listed just $18 million. On Tuesday,
Alex van der Zwaan, son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan, pleaded guilty to making false statements in a November 3 interview by Mueller’s team, days after Manafort and Gates were indicted. False statements were
related to a 2016 recorded phone call about a 2012 report prepared by van der Zwaan’s law firm, Skadden, Arps, about the jailing of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Van der Zwaan was hired by Manafort and Gates to prepare the reportwhile working for Skadden. Last year, Skadden fired van der Zwaan and has been cooperating in the Mueller probe. German Khan is an owner of
Alfa Group, Russia’s largest financial and industrial group. In Week 21, Alfa Bank was being investigated by the FBI over frequently pings of Trump Organization servers during the campaign. Alfa Bank is also mentioned in the dossier. Khan and other Alfa Bank owners sued Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson in
Week 47, and BuzzFeed in Week 28, saying their reputations had been tattered by the dossier. On Thursday,
Mueller filed a new indictment against Manafort and Gates which included 32 additional counts, including tax and bank fraud charges. The initial indictment last October had 12 counts. Manafort and Gates received
large amounts of money for their work in Ukraine from 2006–2015 which they laundered by bringing it into the US as corporate loans, also avoiding reporting the money as income. When the money dried up,
Manafort and Gates lied to lenders about their finances, and set up a real estate scheme under which they were able to obtain millions in financing in 2015 and 2016.
Lawfare reported while there are no allegations about the Trump campaign directly, the indictment alleges bank fraud between 2015 and 2017 during which Manafort and Gates were both involved with Trump. In previous weekly lists, at the time Manafort took the position as Trump’s campaign chair, although he was cash poor, he offered to do the job for free, potentially to relieve pressure to repay Russian oligarch Deripaska.
WSJ reported Mueller’s team and federal prosecutors in NY are also examining a $16 million loan made to Manafort by Federal Savings Bank, a small bank in Chicago run by Steve Calk. In
Week 26, the loan represented 24% of the bank’s reported capital. Mueller’s team wants to know if the loan was part of a possible quid pro quo for Calk to secure the position of Army secretary in the Trump regime. Early Thursday,
. His three lawyers asked to leave the case, citing “highly sensitive matters” that would “potentially be prejudicial as well as embarrassing.” WAPO reported Gates’ legal defense is in question Late Thursday, shortly after Mueller filed the new charges, the judge granted the three lawyers’ request, and Gates’ new lawyer
Thomas C. Green, filed notice with the court that he is now representing Gates. On Thursday,
The Daily Beast reported that Gates fired Tom Green, and is replacing him with lawyer Barry Pollack of Miller Chevalier. Reportedly Gates is, at this point, not cooperating in the Mueller probe. On Thursday afternoon, Green denied the report that he been fired, and the next day
The Daily Beast completely rewrote their story leaving out any mention of Green and printed a correction. On Friday morning,
NYT reported Gates will plead guilty in the Mueller probe and will cooperate. The deal reportedly came after Mueller filed additional charges. Gates became the fifth to plead guilty in the probe.
Gates pleaded guilty in court to participating in a financial conspiracy with Manafort. He also admitted that he lied to investigators on February 1, while negotiating with prosecutors.
Gates lied about a conversation he had with Manafort in March 2013, after Manafort had met with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher to discuss the situation in Ukraine. Gates falsely claimed Manafort said Ukraine did not come up.
Gates’ three attorneys had asked to step off the case on February 1 after Gates’ lie, saying “Irreconcilable differences have developed with the client which make our effective representation of the client impossible.” Court documents revealed
Gates has been discussing a deal with Mueller’s team since January. If Gates fully cooperates he could ask for probation, or he could face up to 71 months in prison on the two felony counts. Gates was deputy campaign manager
as Trump was developing policy positions and engaging with voters on social media. Gates stayed on after Manafort resigned in August and was a consultant on the transition team. On Friday,
less than two hours after Gates agreed to cooperate, new charges were filed against Manafort in the Mueller probe, alleging Manafort paid European politicians to push positions favorable to Ukraine. Charges say
Manafort, with assistance from Gates, orchestrated a group of former European politicians, called the “Hapsburg group,” to appear independent, while being secretly paid 2 million euros by Manafort. Manafort funded the
payments from an offshore account, similar to $4 million payments he made to Alex van der Zwaan to produce the report on jailing Tymoshenko. Manafort maintained his innocence on Friday. On Friday, Susan Rice’s attorney responded to Sens. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham’s request in
Week 66, saying she documented the January 2017 meeting before Obama left the White House because they were “justifiably concerned” about ties between Russia and the incoming Trump regime. Rice’s attorney added
Rice memorialized the meeting based on advice she received from the White House counsel, and that Rice was not aware of the existence of the FBI’s investigation at the time. On Wednesday,
Trump met with grieving parents and students impacted by school gun violence at the White House. Several attendees showed raw emotion and tears, which reportedly overshadowed a policy discussion. During the meeting,
Trump held a card captured in photographs with items including, “What would you most want me to know about your experience?” and a reminder to express empathy: “I hear you.” After listening,
Trump suggested arming teachers to increase school safety. On Thursday morning, Trump lashed out at news organizations for reporting this, tweeting that he “never said ‘give teachers guns.’” On Thursday, Trump hosted a second White House meeting on gun violence.
Trump floated the idea of paying teachers “a little bit of a bonus” for carrying guns in class, and promised federal funds to train them. Trump fired back at Education secretary Betsy DeVos for suggesting active shooter drills, saying
“active shooter drills is a very negative thing,” adding “I think it’s crazy, I think it’s very bad for children.” Trump
blamed video games and movies for youth violence, suggesting “maybe they have to put a rating system for that.” Ratings systems for movies and video games have existed for decades. Trump repeated the terms “hardening” numerous times, meaning adding armed guards and arming teachers. He also spoke against banning guns, saying that
a school “is frankly no different” than a military base. Trump added, “
we have to let the bad guy know that they are hardened,” harkening back to National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre’s talking points after Sandy Hook that the only way to stop bad guys with guns is having good guys with guns. NPR reported many of Trump’s words seem to come from a NRA script. Trump said of the
NRA, “I don’t think I’ll be going up against them,” adding “I’m very close to them; they’re very, very great people.” On Thursday evening, the night after a widely-watched CNN Town Hall on gun control,
Trump tweeted, “School shooting survivor says he quit @CNN Town Hall after refusing scripted question.” CNN denied the charge. On Friday, Trump called deputy Scot Peterson,
the Parkland security guard who failed to stop the shooting, a “coward.” Critics pointed to the armed guard who froze to show the fallacy of Trump’s proposal to arm teachers. In speeches at CPAC, both
Trump and LaPierre delivered dystopian speeches, harkening the culture wars. LaPierre attacked the FBI, saying it was “not free of its own corruption and its own unethical agents.” At the Ronald Reagan dinner Friday, CPAC’s communication director Ian Walters stirred controversy by saying, “
We elected Mike Steele as chairman because he was a black guy, that was the wrong thing to do.” Curtis Rhodes, the superintendent of
Needville Independent School District in Texas said in a letter to families and on social media that students who take part in protests on gun violence will be suspended. On Thursday, amid customer feedback and complaints,
the First National Bank of Omaha ended its relationship with the NRA. Car rental companiesEnterprise, National, and Alamo also cut ties. By Saturday,
Delta and United became the latest companies to cut ties with the NRA, bringing the total to 13 including hotels, insurance companies and more. On Tuesday,
22 Democratic state attorneys general filed a lawsuit to preserve net neutrality. The suit cites the Administrative Procedure Act, which prevents the FCC from “arbitrary and capricious” redactions. On Thursday, the
FCC’s repeal of net neutrality became official, and was published in the Federal Register, the government’s official record of all administrative actions. On Friday,
the NRA awarded FCC chair Ajit Pai its “Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award” for withstanding months of criticism and repealing net neutrality. On Thursday,
Trump said he is considering pulling ICE out of California, blaming the state for doing a “lousy management job” in patrolling illegal immigration. He added if he pulls ICE, “you would have a crime nest.” The
regime has stepped up enforcement of immigration laws in Californiaas part of their efforts to pressure sanctuary cities. ICE director Tom Homan told Fox News, “There’s no sanctuary from federal law enforcement.” California
Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Trump’s “obsession with our state is growing more outrageous by the day,” and Sen. Kamala Harris added the regime has “continually put a target on California’s back and we won’t be bullied.” On Thursday,
CNN reported Trump is considering firing McMaster as National Security Adviser. In Week 66, McMaster said evidence of Russian interference was “incontrovertible.” Reportedly some in the Pentagon believe McMaster has become too politicized to return to the military.
Amid tension between the two, Trump could also go as far as not to offer him a fourth star and force him to retire. On Thursday,
Reuters reported both McMaster and Kelly may resign from the White House over tensions with Trump, especially as it relates to clearance for Kushner. WH officials have been working on a compromise. Ivanka led a delegation to South Korea for the Olympic closing ceremony and
to brief President Moon Jae-in on new North Korea sanctions Trump imposed on Friday. Ivanka still lacks permanent security clearance. On Friday,
would further delay Kushner’s security process. WAPO reported Rosenstein alerted Don McGahn on February 9 that significant information requiring additional investigation Two sources said new important information came light.
Security experts say it is rare to have a high level of interim clearance for such a long period of time. Typically, this interim clearance would last for only three months. Kelly’s memo in
Week 66 could mean Kushner and Ivanka could lose their high-level security clearance as early as Friday, February 23. On Friday, Trump told the press he would leave the decision to Kelly. On Friday,
Elaine Duke, deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security resigned after serving less than a year on the job. Duke worked as a high-ranking DHS official under George W. Bush and was recruited back by then-Secretary Kelly. The
Trump regime soured on Duke after she refused as acting secretary in Week 52 to expel 57,000 Hondurans who have lived in the US for nearly two decades under temporary protected status. Over a week has passed since Mueller unsealed criminal indictments against Russians for interfering in our 2016 election. Trump has taken no actions nor did he issue any statement or tweet on the subject this week.
Scrawled on a wall in New York City. February 2018
Stencil on the sidewalk in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. February 2018
Artist who ‘doctored’ this image to add trump, not known. A witty addition to Kehinde Wiley’s Obama presidential portrait.
8MAY13. Downtown, San Diego, CA.