POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 80: AMERICA HAS GUNORRHEA

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.

IMG_1470
Los Angeles, CA. March 2018
  1. 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.”
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.”
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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!
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. On Tuesday, WAPO reported that according to Defense Department communications, the Trump regime is making preparations to hold immigrant children on military bases.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.”
  23. 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.”
  24. 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.”
  25. 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.”
IMG_1397
Los Angeles, CA. March 2018
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.”
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.”
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
IMG_1307
Los Angeles, CA. March 2018
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. USA Today reported lobbying firms with ties to Trump and Pence collected at least $28 million in federal lobbying fees since Trump took office.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.”
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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!”
  10. 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.”
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.”
  15. Trump also attacked media coverage of ZTE, tweeting “The Washington Post and CNN have typically written false stories about our trade negotiations with China.”
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.”
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.”
IMG_1306
Los Angeles, CA. March 2018
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.”
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.”
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.”
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.”
  22. 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.
  23. 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.”
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.”
  33. 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.”
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.”
  38. 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.”
  39. 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.
  40. 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.”
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.”
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.”
  54. 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.
  55. 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.
  56. Treasury officials said in a statement that since 2009, FinCEN has had the ability restrict access to sensitive SARs.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.”
  63. 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.”
  64. 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.
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
  67. 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.
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. 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.”
  71. 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.”
  72. 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.’”
  73. 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.”
  74. 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.
  75. On Thursday, WAPO reported Trump is joining forces with Rep. Devin Nunes and other of his allies on Capitol Hill and in the conservative mediato out a top-secret FBI source in order to undercut the Russia investigation.
  76. 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.
  77. 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.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.”
  80. 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.
  81. 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.”
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. 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.
  85. 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.
  86. In addition to Papadopoulos and Page, WAPO also reported the professor met with Trump campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis for coffee in Northern Virginia, offering to lend the Trump team his foreign-policy experience.
  87. 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.
IMG_1309
Los Angeles, CA. March 2018
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Avenatti answered with a motion, arguing that many of his adversaries’ assaults on him were “unsubstantiated,” “baseless,” and lacking in “admissible evidence.”
  9. 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.
Advertisements

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 68: PEEK-A-BOO, WE SEE YOU

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.

IMG_8698
On a sign in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. February 2018
  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.
  4. WAPO reported Trump spent the weekend at Mar-a-Lago stewing, watching cable news and calling friends to vent. On Saturday and SundayTrump skipped golf, reportedly to honor the Parkland victims.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.”
  9. 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.
  10. 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.”
  11. 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.
  12. 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.”
  13. 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!”
  14. 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?”
  15. 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.”
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. On Thursday, 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.”
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. On Wednesday, WAPO reported two senior US Geological Survey officialsresigned 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. 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).
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.”
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. 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.
  55. 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.
  56. 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.”
  57. 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.
  58. On Tuesday, a front page story at WAPO was “Is anyone listening?” the story of Rachel Crooks, who claims Trump kissed her for two minutes when she worked as a secretary at Trump Tower in 2006.
  59. 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!
  60. Trump also lashed out at WAPO in his tweets, calling the paper “Fake News Washington Post,” and asking why WAPO doesn’t “report the story of the women taking money to make up stories about me?”
  61. 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.
  62. 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.
  63. 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.
  64. 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.
  65. 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!”
  66. 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.
  67. 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.
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. 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.
  71. 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.
  72. 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.
  73. 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.
  74. 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.
  75. 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.
  76. 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.
  77. 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.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.
  80. 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.
  81. 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.
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. 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.
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. 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.
  88. Early Thursday, WAPO reported Gates’ legal defense is in question. His three lawyers asked to leave the case, citing “highly sensitive matters” that would “potentially be prejudicial as well as embarrassing.”
  89. 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.
  90. 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.
  91. 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.
  92. 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.
  93. 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.
  94. 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.
  95. 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.”
  96. 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.
  97. 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.
  98. 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.
  99. 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.
  100. 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.
  101. 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.
  102. 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.
  103. 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.
  104. 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.”
  105. 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.’”
  106. 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.
  107. 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.”
  108. 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.
  109. 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.
  110. 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.
  111. 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.”
  112. 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.
  113. 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.
  114. 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.”
  115. 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.”
  116. 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.
  117. 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.
  118. 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.
  119. 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.
  120. 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.
  121. 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.
  122. 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.”
  123. 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.”
  124. 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.”
  125. On Thursday, CNN reported Trump is considering firing McMaster as National Security Adviser. In Week 66, McMaster said evidence of Russian interference was “incontrovertible.”
  126. 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.
  127. 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.
  128. 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.
  129. On Friday, WAPO reported Rosenstein alerted Don McGahn on February 9 that significant information requiring additional investigation would further delay Kushner’s security process.
  130. 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.
  131. 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.
  132. 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.
  133. 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.
  134. 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.
IMG_8871
Scrawled on a wall in New York City. February 2018
IMG_8684
Stencil on the sidewalk in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. February 2018
IMG_8919
Artist who ‘doctored’ this image to add trump, not known. A witty addition to Kehinde Wiley’s Obama presidential portrait.

LONG ISLAND IMAGES: STARTS WITH A BARN, ENDS WITH A DECREPIT DRIVE-IN SIGN

“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” ― Alexis de TocquevilleImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

6JUL13. Long Island, NY.