The content of that paraphrase above is what freaked me the fuck out this week as I observed from abroad, the tightening grip his preposterous lies and mentally ill despotic behavior are having on his gullible, violent base. America is unrecognizable…
Week 83: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
June 16, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-83-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-aa4da2f1782a
This week the atrocities at our southern border finally garnered widespread attention, as stories on the scope and the devastating impact of the Trump regime’s zero-tolerance policy were reported. Sessions invoked the Bible to justify the regime’s practice of separating migrant children from their parents, and exacerbated the crisis by ordering immigration judges to stop granting asylum to most victims of domestic abuse and gang violence. Amid widespread condemnation, Trump repeated false claims blaming Democrats for the border crisis — continuing his pattern of constructing an alternative version of reality to feed his base.
Trump held a well choreographed summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, which received media attention on the scale of a Super Bowl, but resulted in little in the way of substance. Trump continues his pattern of ignoring human rights abuses abroad, while Trump’s capacity and culpability for human rights abuses at home may explain why. cozying up to dictators and alienating former democratic allies.
This week Trump’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, was sent to jail, pending his trial, and Trump insider Michael Cohen lost his legal representation, amid persistent rumors that he may cooperate. As the week came to a close, Rudy Giuliani bragged that Trump would clean things up by issuing pardons.
“PLAYED LIKE A FIDDLE.” How “unprecedented” is an agreement by North Korea to end its nuclear program and cease hostilities? 1985: North Korea signs Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty 1992: North Korea signs historic agreement to halt nuclear program! (#1) 1994: North Korea signs historic agreement to halt nuclear program! (#2) 1999: North Korea signs historic agreement to end missile tests 2000: North Korea signs historic agreement to reunify Korea! Nobel Peace Prize is awarded 2005: North Korea declares support for “denuclearization” of Korean peninsula 2005: North Korea signs historic agreement to halt nuclear program and “denuclearize”! (#3) 2006: North Korea declares support for “denuclearization” of Korean peninsula 2006: North Korea again support for “denuclearization” of Korean peninsula 2007: North Korea signs historic agreement to halt nuclear program! (#4) 2007: N&S Korea sign agreement on reunification 2010: North Korea commits to ending Korean War 2010: North Korea announces commitment to “denuclearize” 2010: North Korea again announces commitment to “denuclearize” 2011: North Korea announces plan to halt nuclear and missile tests 2012: North Korea announces halt to nuclear program 2015: North Korea offers to halt nuclear tests 2016: North Korea again announces support for “denuclearization” (source: D. Neal) *To be clear: THIS WAS NO DEAL. China is reaping the benefits of a photo op (AND NOTHING MORE) by 45. Oh, 45 mentioned some hotels he’d like to see on the beaches there. So, again, a business deal for him, A DESTRUCTION DEAL FOR AMERICA. WE ARE SO FUCKED.
Artist and location unknown, but this popped up somewhere in the world this week. AMERICA IS A JOKE TO THE REST OF THE WORLD, if you haven’t realized it yet.
Late Saturday, after departing the G7 summit early,
Trump announced that he was backing out of the joint communique, repeating his mantra, “We must put the American worker first!” Late Saturday, while aboard Air Force One,
Trump lashed out at Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau in a tweet, calling him “Very dishonest & weak.” On Sunday, Peter Navarro, a trade adviser to Trump, further escalated the rhetoric against Trudeau on “Fox News Sunday,” saying, “
There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy.” On Sunday, top White House economic adviser
Larry Kudlow told “State of the Union” that Trudeau “stabbed us in the back,” saying, “He did a great disservice to the whole G7.” On Monday,
Kudlow was hospitalized after suffering a mild heart attack. On Sunday,
other G7 leaders issued statements in support of Trudeau, with Britain’s Prime Minister May saying she is “fully supportive of Justin Trudeau,” and France and Germany issuing similar statements. On Sunday,
NYT reported Trump did not want to go to the G7, but aides pushed him to do so. He rebelled by showing up late and leaving early, as well as by acting out by crossing his arms and swiveling in his seat. On Sunday,
Axios reported that at a White House visit in April, French President Macron told Trump that France and the U.S. should work together on their “China problem,” Trump said the European Union is “worse than China.” Rep. Louie Gohmert told “Fox & Friends Weekend” that
Mueller is “covering up” for Hillary Clinton, and “he’s trying to have a coup against” against Trump. On Sunday,
NYT reported while Trump was at the G7 summit, burned-out White House staffers are considering resigning, including chief of staff John Kelly and one of his deputies, Joe Hagin. Turnover is at 51%. Trump does not mind people leaving, and is
comfortable removing barriers that might challenge him. Trump believes he can function as his own chief of staff, communications director, and HR manager. Trump is re-energized, and
feels he gained ground in dictating the narrative of news coverage. He continues to be paranoid about leakers — aides seeking his favor try to identify people who could be disloyal. On Monday, Canada’s House of Commons
unanimously condemned the personal attacks on Trudeau by Trump and his surrogates.
AP conducted a fact check of Trump’s statements on trade, and found his examples to be factually incorrect, adding Trump glossed over the parts of the economy “that don’t support his faulty contention.” On Tuesday, amid growing tensions with Canada,
Trump’s Department of Homeland Security announced a “strengthened” Northern Border Strategyto help “combat terrorism” and “help facilitate travel and trade” at its border.
WAPO reported on mass trials in courtrooms packed with parents in the Southwest who were separated from their children after crossing the border. The number of defendants has soared under Trump’s new crackdown.
Migrant parents face the decision of pleading guilty and hoping to be reunified with their children, or pleading innocent and waiting days or weeks for trial without their children. In
McAllen, Texas alone, 415 children had been separated from their parents between May 21 and June 5. In one day in court, the judge sentenced 100 people, including 28 parents. On Sunday,
WAPO reported that 206 undocumented immigrants were transferred last week to the Federal Detention Center in Seattle, 174 of which were women. The women were kept in three concrete pods. Rep. Pramila Jayapal said
half the women said they were forcibly separated from their children. Some said children as young as 12 monthshad been taken away — some heard their children screaming for them in the next room. The women were
fleeing threats of rape and gang violence in Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. ICE confirmed it has moved 1,600migrants to federal prisons due to the surge of illegal crossings and implementation of the zero-tolerance policy. On Monday,
Jeff Sessions ordered immigration judges to stop granting asylum to most victims of domestic abuse and gang violence, continuing the regime’s efforts to change immigration laws to make them less friendly. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,
there was a backlog of 311,000 asylum claims in late January. Immigration attorneys said a substantial portion fall under the categories Sessions targeted.
WAPO reported the Honduran father, Marco Antonio Muñoz, who killed himself in Week 82 after being separated from his wife and son, was seeking asylum after the murder of his brother-in-law in Honduras. The parents also have a
older son who is an American citizen who they put in a plane to flee, while the couple went by land with the younger son.
AP reported U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency which oversees immigration applications, will focus on identifying Americans suspected of cheating to get their citizenship and seek to strip them of it. Up until now, the agency pursued cases as they arose, but not through a coordinated effort.
The new steps come as the regime cracks down on illegal immigration and looks to reduce legal immigration to the U.S. On Tuesday,
McClatchy reported the Trump regime is looking to erect tent cities at military posts around Texas to shelter the growing number of children separated from their parents crossing the border. Trump’s
Department of Health and Human Services confirmed they are looking at the Fort Bliss site along with Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene and Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo to hold between 1,000 and 5,000 children. The Office of Refugee Resettlement at HHS is responsible for the care of more than
11,200 migrant children and growing. The approximately 100 shelters designated for children are 95% full. CNN interviewed an attorney in McAllen, Texas who said an undocumented immigrant from Honduras said
federal authorities took her daughter while she was breastfeeding in a detention center. When the mother tried to resist, she was handcuffed. An assistant public defender in Texas said
some parents also claim they have been told their children are being taken to be bathed or cleaned up, then disappear. On Thursday,
images inside a migrant children center at a former Walmart in Brownsville, Texas, revealed a large mural of Trump with a quote — in English and Spanish — from his 1987 book The Art of the Deal. DHS said the mural is one of 20 depicting U.S. presidents at shelters. The
others feature inspiring quotes about immigration, while Trump’s quote reads, “Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.” On Thursday, NBC News reported the regime will
house the overflow of migrant children in tents in Tornillo, Texas. The DHS will erect a “tent city” full of large tents, which are estimated to hold 450 beds for children. On Thursday,
Daily Beast reported that MVM Inc., a scandal plagued defense contractor company, is set to benefit from the migrant children detention centers. The company is advertising to hire all sorts of personnel, in fields not in their expertise. MVM bills itself as an “extensive domain expertise in counter-narcotics, criminal and civil investigations,
public safety, and national security,” and has no relevant experience with the care of migrant children. On Thursday,
WAPO reported House Republicans are circulating a proposal to limit Trump’s policy of separating migrant children. The policy has been criticized by human rights groups, clergy, and lawmakers on both sides. On Thursday, Sessions continued to defend the policy in a speech in Indiana, saying the previous policy
amounted to “a declaration of open borders,” and the short-term separation was “not unusual or unjustified.” Sessions
countered a cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church who called the policy, “immoral,” by citing Romans 13 in the Bible: “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.” On Friday, DHS revealed that in the six weeks since Sessions’ zero tolerance policy took effect,
1,995 children have been separated from 1,940 adults. On Friday, the
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a nonpartisan fact-finding agency, issued a letter asking Sessions and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsento halt the family separations, saying the policy raises “grave concerns” about due process and coercive tactics. On Friday, in a speech in Scranton, PA,
Sessions criticized Philadelphia and its mayor over the city’s ‘sanctuary’ status, saying the city is coddling dangerous criminals and refusing to turn them over to ICE. On Friday, NPR reported
pediatricians are sounding the alarm, saying migrant children separated from their parents suffer “irreparable harm,” including “toxic stress” that disrupts a child’s brain development and harms long-term health. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who saw a young girl crying, was told by
staff that federal regulations prevented them from touching or holding the child to soothe her. Antar Davidson, an employee of Southwest Key, which
operates more than two dozen shelters for migrant children from Texas to California, quit his job, saying staffers are not trained to handle the influx of younger, more traumatized children. Davidson said the breaking point was when he was called over the radio and asked to translate for
two siblings, ages 6 and 10, that they couldn’t hug each other after being separated from their parents. The
U.S. is expected to quit the U.N. human rights panel when sessions open on Monday. The U.S. had long played a “leadership role” in the council, which was set up in 2006. The ACLU highlighted
Tiana Smalls, who reported that on a Greyhound bus to Las Vegas, as the bus approached an agricultural checkpoint at the Nevada state line, the bus driver said, “We are being boarded by Border Patrol. Please be prepared to show your documentation upon request.” Smalls stood and said, “
This is a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights… We are not within 100 miles of a border.” She used Google translate to repeat her message in Spanish. The agents left. On Tuesday,
Rep. Steve King linked to an anti-immigrant tweet by Mark Collett, Britain’s most high-profile white supremacists, and added, “Europe is waking up… Will America… in time?”
Bloomberg reported that according to advocacy group Alliance for Justice, so far 88% of Trump’s additions to the federal bench are white and 76% are male. There is only one Hispanic justice. During Obama’s presidency, just 38% of judicial nominees were white males.
Trump’s picks are the least diverse in 24 years — since Ronald Reagan was in office. On Monday,
Politico reported Steven Cheung, a senior communications directed, resigned. Cheung was one of the last remaining campaign-era Trump aides still working at the White House. On Tuesday,
WAPO reported Joel McElvain, who has worked at the Justice Department for more than 20 years, resigned last Friday, the morning after Sessions notified Congress the agency will not defend the ACA. Sessions defended himself, saying
he acknowledged the executive branch “has a long-standing tradition of defending the constitutionality of duly enacted statutes,” but said the move is not unprecedented. CBS News reported
both press secretary Sarah Sanders and deputy press secretary Raj Shah are planning to resign. Sanders has told friends she plans to leave at the end of the year. Shah has not settled on a date.
Politico reported Trump’s White House is hosting a jobs fair amid the exodus of employees. The “Executive Branch Job Fair” was advertised with an email that was blasted out widely to Republicans on the Hill.
Politico reported despite requirement under the Presidential Records Act that the White House must preserve all memos, letters, emails, and papers that Trump touches, Trump has a routine habit of ripping every paper up. Solomon Lartey, a career government official, and his colleagues have had
to tape together large piles of shredded paper and send them to the National Archives to be properly filed away. On Monday, the
Supreme Court ruled 5–4 that Ohio can purge voters from voter rolls if they fail to return a card sent after their first missed election. Other conservative states are expected to follow. On Tuesday,
Trump praised the ruling from Singapore, tweeting, “Just won big Supreme Court decision on Voting! Great News!” According to financial disclosure forms released Monday,
Jared Kushner and Ivanka brought in at least $82 million during 2017 while serving as senior White House advisers. Ivanka earned almost $ 3.9 million from the Trump Hotel DC.
The couple earned immense sums from other enterprises, which ethics experts say could create conflicts of interest. Acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mick Mulvaney
changed the name of the agency founded by Sen. Elizabeth Warren to BCFP, which stands for the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
Foreign Policy reported Mari Stull, a former food and beverage lobbyist recently hired as a senior adviser in the State Department, is quietly vetting career diplomats and American employees of international institutions to determine if they are loyal to Trump.
Sources say Stull is gathering intel and making lists. She has the full support of her boss, Kevin Moley, who was appointed by the White House in January. One State Department official said, “Everyone is looking to bail.” NPR reported the Commerce Department released 1,320 pages of internal memos, emails and other documents
as part of a lawsuit related to Wilbur Ross’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. A July 2017 email reveals “
at the direction of Steve Bannon,” Kris Kobach and Ross spoke on the phone. Kobach told Ross including “aliens” in census numbers for congressional reapportionment is a “problem.” On Friday,
WAPO reported that Pence’s VP office is a gateway to influence the Trump regime. Under Pence, twice as many companies and other interests hired lobbyists contacted the office than under Biden or Cheney. Lobbyists, who rake in millions for access, also donate to Trump or advocates for Pence, in one case helping him get on the ticket.
Actions taken by Pence and his staff as a result of lobbying are not disclosed in federal filings. On Wednesday,
WAPO reported last year Scott Pruitt enlisted Samantha Dravis, a top aide, to contact Republican donors to help his wife find a job. Pruitt’s wife landed a temporary position with conservative group. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to Renzi Stone, founder of public relations firm Saxum,
asking for documentation on how he helped Pruitt get tickets for the Rose Bowl. Saxum, which is based in Oklahoma,
represented Plains All American Pipeline LP, a company which has a petition pending before the EPA. On Friday, the Office of Government Affairs Director David Apol said in a letter
he is considering “formal corrective action proceeding” regarding alleged improper behavior by Pruitt, an unprecedented step against a sitting Cabinet member. Apol
urged the EPA’s in-house watchdog to expand its ongoing investigations to review the latest allegations about Pruitt, including that he used EPA resources to find a job for his wife. On Monday,
McClatchy reported in addition to Alexander Torshin and Maria Butina, other prominent Russian officials — Dmitry Rogozin and Sergei Rudov — met with NRA representatives, mostly in Moscow, during the 2016 campaign. The NRA reported $30 million in donations to the Trump campaign, $21 million from its lobbying arm which does not disclose donors.
NRA insiders said the group spent $70 million overall, including field operations and online advertising. The
NRA also spent $24.4 million to back Republican candidates for Congress in 2016. It is a crime to donate or use foreign money in U.S. election campaigns.
Mueller’s team and the Senate Intelligence Committee are both investigating whether Russian money was donated to Trump’s campaign. On Tuesday,
Vanity Fair reported that within the next month, Mueller is reportedly planning to deliver his findings in the obstruction of justiceinvestigation to Rod Rosenstein, and per sources, “Donald is very worried.” According to a source,
Michael Cohen has told friends he expects to be arrested any day now. Trump is concerned that Cohen might flip. In the meantime, Trump is enjoying acting on his impulses, unchecked. Kushner reportedly is also
flaunting his status in front of Kelly since he had his security clearance restored. Republican sources say Kushner recently stood up and walked out of a meeting that Kelly was leading. On Tuesday,
Mueller’s team filed a motion to limit evidence-sharing in its case against 13 Russians and three Russian entities, citing the risk of revealing the identities of “uncharged co-conspirators.” The motion also indicates the investigation is far from over, mentioning “
uncharged individuals and entities” which are believed to be “continuing to engage in interference operations” in the U.S. On Tuesday, Fox News reported that
according to two unnamed House Intelligence Committee staffers, at a January 2018 meeting, Rosenstein threatened to use the power of his office to subpoena Devin Nunes and the committee. CNN reported according to a DOJ staffer,
Rosenstein plans to “request that the House general counsel conduct an internal investigation of these Congressional staffers’ conduct” when he returns from a foreign trip. On Wednesday, a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll showed
Mueller’s public image was at an all-time low after months of attacks by Trump, with 36% of voters seeing him unfavorably. By party, 53% of Republicans, 24% of Democrats and 33% of Independents see Mueller unfavorably.
The biggest spike came from Republicans, with unfavorable up 26% from July. On Wednesday, ABC News reported
Cohen’s legal team from McDermott, Will & Emery LLP are expected to leave the case. A source familiar said the change in counsel is due to a fee dispute. No replacement has been named. On Thursday,
WSJ reported federal prosecutors are investigating whether Cohen illegally engaged in secret lobbying. Prosecutors have contacted companies that hired Cohen as a consultant, including AT&T and Novartis. On Thursday, CBS News reported sources say
Cohen is feeling increasingly isolated and believes Trump and his allies are turning on him. Cohen is especially upset over statements made by Rudy Giuliani. On Friday, CNN reported Cohen has expressed anger at his treatment by Trump, and
indicated to family and friends he is willing to cooperate with federal investigators to alleviate pressure on himself and his family. Cohen has
not yet met with prosecutors to discuss a deal. He is currently trying to find a new legal team, as his current lawyers have until Friday at noon to complete the review of 3.7 million files seized in the FBI raid. On Friday, federal prosecutors told the court they
have reassembled 16 pages of shredded documents and recovered 731 pages of encrypted text messages seized in the Cohen raid. On Friday,
a federal judge revoked Manafort’s bail and sent him to jail to await trial, citing charges that Manafort tried to influence testimony of two government witnesses. Judge Amy Berman said Manafort cannot remain free, even under the strictest conditions, saying, “
This is not middle school. I can’t take away his cellphone.” Manafort’s first trial is scheduled for next month. Two hours later, Trump tweeted that
jailing Manafort was a “tough sentence” and “very unfair.”
Trump also tweeted that he “Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob,” and then continued his attack on Comey, “What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all of the others?”
Trump also tweeted that Manafort “represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns.” On Friday, when asked about Manafort, Giuliani told the
New York Daily News, “When the whole thing is over, things might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons.” Giuliani also said he didn’t understand “
the justification” for putting Manafort in jail, adding the Mueller probe “should not go forward,” and “It’s time for Justice to investigate the investigators.” On Monday,
the repeal of net neutrality, which had required internet service providers to offer equal access to all web content, took effect. As of late May,
29 state legislatures had introduced bills to ensure net neutrality. Two governors have signed executive orders to force net neutrality, and Washington state has signed net neutrality into law. On Monday, George Conway, husband of Kellyanne Conway,
penned an op-ed defending the constitutionality of the Mueller probe, after Trump tweeted “the Special Councel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!” On Tuesday, Trump met with Kim Jong Un in Singapore. All major U.S. media attended the well choreographed event, which
was dubbed “historic,” with non-stop coverage on every major outlet. As Trump and Kim both declared the summit a success,
the two sides differed on what was agreed to publicly, and their agreement was summarized in a short document which lacked details. Trump said in a series of tweets, “
There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” adding, everybody “can now feel much safer than the day I took office” and people could “sleep well tonight!” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the regime expected “major disarmament” before the end of Trump’s first term.
Kim described the beginning of a “step-by-step and simultaneous” process towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. As Trump and Kim were signing the document in front of reporters,
CNN’s Jim Acosta asked, “did he agree to denuclearize?” Trump responded, “We’re starting that process very quickly.” Acosta then asked if Trump and Kim had discussed Otto Warmbier. Trump did not respond. On Tuesday, Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign manager, tweeted, “
Jim @Acosta should immediately have his press credentials suspended. He is an absolute disgrace!” In an interview with George Stephanopoulos after the summit,
Trump said of Kim Jong Un, a brutal dictator, “His country does love him. His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor.” On Tuesday morning, in a stunning concession,
Trump said the U.S. will halt joint military exercises with South Korea, an announcement which baffled allies, military officials, and lawmakers from the GOP.
Reuters reported leaders of U.S. ally South Korean were caught by surprise. The South Korean presidential office said “ we need to find out the precise meaning or intentions” of Trump announcement. A January 2018
WSJ article noted Trump may have gotten this idea from a conversation with Putin: “If the U.S. stopped joint military exercises with the South Koreans, it could help moderate Kim Jong Un’s behavior.” KPNA, North Korea’s official news agency, described the summit as an “epoch-making meeting,” and
asserted Trump had “expressed his intention” to lift sanctions when nukes are no longer a factor. On Tuesday,
Trump held his first official solo press conference in 16 months. As reporters waited for Trump to come on stage,
two huge screens came down instead, with a movie type production portraying North Korea as a paradise. The film lasted four minutes. Reporters thought it was North Korean propaganda
The film then looped and played in English. The film was made in America, by or on the orders of his White House, for the benefit of Kim. Trump then came on stage and said, “I hope you liked it. I thought it was good.” Trump said
Kim, “is very talented. Anybody that takes over a situation like he did, at 26 years of age, and is able to run it, and run it tough.” An estimated 80,000 to 120,000 people are imprisoned in North Korea. Trump also lauded North Korea’s “great beaches,” and said he told Kim, “You know, instead of doing that (develop nuclear weapons), you could have the
best hotels in the world right there.” On Wednesday, upon returning to the U.S., in a series of tweets,
Trump called the press America’s “biggest enemy” — singling out “Fake News, especially NBC and CNN” for downplaying his deal with North Korea. On Thursday, Trump faced a backlash after he was seen in a 42-minute video of the summit, first
broadcast by North Korea’s state news channel, saluting a North Korean general. Sanders called it a “common courtesy.” Military and intelligence experts said
U.S. leaders typically do not salute military officials from adversarial nations. U.S. ally South Korea is still technically at war with North Korea. On Sunday, at the Tony Awards, actor
Robert DeNiro said expletives about Trump, “First, I wanna say: ‘F — — Trump.’ It’s no longer ‘down with Trump,’ it’s ‘f — — Trump.’” On Tuesday,
Trump attacked DeNiro in two tweets, calling him a “very Low IQ individual,” who has “received to many shots to the head by real boxers in movies,” adding, “Wake up Punchy!” On Tuesday, after GOP leaders blocked a vote on legislation which would give Congress veto power over certain Trump tariffs,
Sen. Bob Corker accused the GOP of cowering to Trump, “let’s don’t do anything that might upset” him. On Friday,
Trump unilaterally imposed tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese products. Within an hour, the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing pledged to erect trade barriers of the “same scale and the same strength.” On Thursday,
the New York attorney general filed a civil lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation, accusing the campaign and family of violating campaign finance laws, self-dealing and illegal coordination with the presidential campaign. The lawsuit seeks to dissolve the foundation and bar Trump, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric from serving on nonprofit organizations. The attorney general also
sent referrals to the IRS and FEC for further action. The lawsuit gives numerous examples of
Trump using foundation monies to win political favor or settle legal claims against his various businesses, as well as pay off his legal bills and promote Trump hotels. The lawsuit also claims that $2.8 million raised by the foundation at an Iowa event in 2016 was allocated by senior campaign officials to veteran groups, making it an “
improper in-kind contribution” to the campaign.
NY AG Barbara Underwood tweeted, “Our investigation found that the Trump Foundation raised in excess of $2.8 million in a manner designed to influence the 2016 presidential election.” On Thursday,
the Justice Department inspector general issued a report rebuking James Comey for breaking FBI and Justice Department protocolin his handling of the 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. The 568-page report by IG Michael Horowitz
found Comey was not motivated by political bias when he cleared Hillary Clinton of criminal wrongdoing. Horowitz wrote
Comey acted “unilaterally” and outside the scope of his authority when he held the July 2016 press conference, and rebuked Comey for sending a letter to Congress in late October 2016. The report also included
previously unreported text messages between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok in which Page asked, Trump’s “not ever going to become president, right?,”and Strzok responded, “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.” Horowitz wrote
Strzok, Page, and three other bureau staffers were being passed on to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility for possible disciplinary action. Strzok is still with the FBI. Page left last month. On Friday, Trump told reporters that
he is “totally exonerated” by Justice Department IG report. He also accused the FBI of “plotting against my election,” saying Comey was the ringleader in a “den of thieves.” Trump also claimed
the Mueller investigation “has been totally discredited,” by the report. The Mueller probe was not mentioned in the report. On Friday, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who is vying to win House leadership when Paul Ryan resigns, told “Fox and Friends”
that “I think the Mueller investigation has got to stop,” citing the texts. On Friday, in a wide-ranging surprise interview with “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy on the North Lawn of the White House,
Trump said he opposes the immigration bill cobbled together by House Republicans. Trump’s opposition
caught House Republican leaders by surprise. Ryan had told members he had been briefing Trump on their legislative strategy, and Trump was on board. The bill would have provided $25 billion for Trump’s border wall and a new visa program to give Dreamers a path to residency and citizenship, but
would have ended the regime’s practice of separating migrant children from parents. Trump also said, “I hate the children being taken away.
The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law.” Sanders had also blamed the Democrats at the daily briefing on Thursday. These statements are untrue. Later Friday, the
White House changed positions, saying Trump “fully supports both the Goodlatte bill and the House leadership bill,” saying Trump has misunderstood the question by Doocy. Later Friday, the
White House issued a statement by Trump on “Democrats’ Dangerous Immigration Policies,” blaming “CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS’ FAMILY SEPARATION POLICY.” On Saturday, for the
fourth time in 24 hours, Trump falsely blamed Democrats for “their forced family breakup at the Border,” and accusing them of “High Crime and Obstruction. Sad!” Trump also told Doocy that Kim Jong Un is a “strong head” of his country, adding of Kim, “
He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.” When pressed on his comment,
Trump insisted it was a joke and attacked the media, saying, “I’m kidding. You don’t understand sarcasm. Hey, who are you with? …You’re with CNN? Hey, you are the worst.” Trump also said “
Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign,” adding that he felt “a little badly” that prosecutors were targeting the longtime Republican operative, “He worked for many other Republicans.” After naming other Republicans (Reagan, Dole, McCain) Trump said Manafort worked for him “for
49 days or something? A very short period of time.” Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager for 114 days. Trump also said of Michael Flynn, “
Some people say [Flynn] lied and some people say he didn’t lie.” Flynn pled guilty to lying. On Friday, Trump also told a CBS News reporter who was asking questions to “
quiet” at least five time. He also said to reporters, “She’s so obnoxious.” MSNBC host Katy Tur detailed a total of
19 lies or misleading statements in Trump’s interview with Doocy on her show Friday.
AP reported at least four former Cambridge Analytica employees affiliated with Data Propria, a new company specializing in voter and consumer targeting work, have been quietly working for the 2020 Trump campaign. In a conversation overheard by
AP, Matt Oczkowski, who led Cambridge Analytica data team, said he and Parscale were “doing the president’s work for 2020.” Parscale is a part owner of Data Propria’s parent company, Cloud Commerce. Cloud Commerce is also paying Parscale other amounts. A former FEC chair said it was
unusual for an incumbent’s campaign to direct large amounts of business to outside firms tied to his campaign manager. On Thursday, Rob Rogers, who joined the Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette as an editorial cartoonist in 1993 and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 1999, was fired, as the paper has shifted to the right. Rogers cartoons had appeared in the paper roughly five times a week, but around Memorial Day, started disappearing.
Rogers said in the past three months, 19 cartoons or proposals for cartoons were rejected. On Saturday,
in an op-ed, Rogers said he was fired for making fun of Trump. He said starting in March, management said his cartoons on Trump were “too angry” and said he was “obsessed with Trump.” Russian news agency
TASS reported that according to a White House spokesperson, Moscow and Washington are exploring “the opportunity of a meeting” between Putin and Trump, with Austria as a possible venue. On Saturday,
WAPO reported Trump is planning to meet with Putin in July, after months of prodding by Trump, who has faced resistance from senior political aides and diplomats questioning the value of a meeting. A U.S. official said after meeting with Kim Jong Un,
Trump said he wanted to invite Putin to the White House. The official said, “We ignored it.” Trump has become a strong public advocate for engagement with Russia. According to a new Ipsos poll, for Global News and Reuters,
Americans approve of how Trudeau is handling the trade dispute over Trump, by a 57–37 margin.
You should hope NOT. My photo of a sticker on the streets of Chisinau , Moldova, on 10June2018.
While Fox (Faux) News (Opinions) reported on Meghan Markle’s off-the-shoulder dress, here’s what actually happened, and matters, in our country (and to the world) this week ~
Week 82 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
June 9, 2018
This week started with Trump pushing yet another norm, saying he could pardon himself. This comes after a string of recent pardons, and Trump bragging to reporters that he is considering 3,000 more — crowning himself the arbiter of what is fair, not the judicial branch. In two moves that alarmed legal experts, Sessions’ Justice Department sided with a frivolous lawsuit instead of defending the Affordable Care Act, and seized phone and email records from a New York Times reporter.
Trump continued to divide the country, creating controversy by disinviting the NFL champions the Philadelphia Eagles from the White House, and later in the week, the NBA champions. The regime continues its cruel Zero Tolerance policy at the southern border, which has drawn international outcry and lawsuits.
and achieving nothing before leaving for his summit with Kim Jong Un next Tuesday. However, this week, the Republican Party showed signs of standing up to Trump on several issues including trade, the FBI informant, ZTE and protections for “dreamers.” Trump continues to act as if he is solely in charge, attending the Group of Seven summit in Toronto where he arrived late, left early, delivered a harsh, toothless speech, and complained Russia wasn’t invited — further alienating our former allies
Sen. Jeff Merkley posted a video showing he was denied entry to a former Walmart in Brownsville, Texas used as a detention center for migrant children who had been separated from their parents. The facility in Brownsville is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Merkley tweeted, “Asked repeatedly to speak to a supervisor — he finally came out and said he can’t tell us anything. Police were called on us.” On Monday, Ray Zaccaro, a spokesperson for Merkley, added that on Sunday, in a separate visit to a
Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, Texas, “Senator Merkley and his staff saw children in cages.” On Monday, deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley
accused Merkley of “irresponsibly spreading blatant lies” and “smearing hardworking, dedicated law enforcement officials.” On Tuesday, in one of a series of 13 tweets, Trump also attacked Merkley and Democrats, tweeting, “Separating families at the Border is
the fault of bad legislation passed by the Democrats.” This statement is false. On Tuesday, the
United Nations human rights office called on the Trump regime to “immediately halt” its policy of separating children from their parents after they cross the U.S. border with Mexico.
A U.N. spokeswoman said, “The use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles,” adding, “the child’s best interest should always come first.” On Tuesday,
Jeff Sessions defended separating migrant parents and children, telling conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, “If people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them.”
Sessions also likened the practice to what happens in the U.S., saying when an American “gets prosecuted” for a crime, “American citizens, and they go to jail, they’re separated from their children.” On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced for a
third month in a row, U.S. border agents made more than 50,000 arrests in May, triple the amount in May 2017, despite the Trump regime separating children from their parents.
NYT reported police departments in several cities with large Hispanic populations are seeing a decline in reports of domestic violence and sexual assault. Police blame fear of being deported. Cities experiencing a decline include Los Angeles, Denver, San Diego, and
Houston, which saw a decline from 7,460 reports from Hispanics in 2016, to 6,273 in 2017.
WAPO reported about 200 ICE officers blitzed two locations of Corso’s Flower and Garden Center in Ohio in an immigration raid. They arrested 114 workers thought to be illegal and loaded them on buses to be taken to ICE detention centers. Local activists say
dozens of children were left stranded at daycare centers and with babysitters. ICE plans to charge the undocumented workers with identity theft and tax evasion. ICE is also investigating the employer.
This marks third mass round-up conducted by ICE. In April, 97 immigrants were arrested at a meat-processing plant in rural Tennessee, and in January, ICE raided 98 7-Eleven stores.
Daily Beast reported Honduran native Martina Blasina Romero, the mother of Ronal Francisco Romero, an undocumented immigrant who died of bacterial meningitis while in ICE custody, is preparing to sue. Border Patrol arrested Romero on May 9 as he illegally entered the U.S. He died May 16. Advocates say the
facility where Romero was held is severely lacking in medical assistance, one saying it is “virtually nonexistent.” On Wednesday, a
U.S. District Judge in San Diego denied a motion made by the Trump regime to dismiss an ACLU lawsuit which argues that splitting up families at the border violates their due process rights. The judge wrote that allegations that the government “arbitrarily tears at the sacred bond between parent and child,” if true, “
is brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency.”
Intercept reported that the ACLU estimates between 1,500 and 2,000 migrant children have been separated from their parents at the southern border, with the number escalating with Sessions’ Zero Tolerance policy. According to a police report obtained by
WAPO, a Honduran father separated from his wife and child suffered a breakdown at a Texas jail and killed himself in a padded cell on May 13. The Starr County sheriff’s deputy reports quotes Border Patrol agents. The
death of Marco Antonio Muñoz, 39, has not been publicly disclosed by the Department of Homeland Security. The
Des Moines Register reported Manuel Antonio Cano Pacheco, who was scheduled to graduate high school in Des Moines last month, died a brutal death in Mexico three weeks after being escorted out of the U.S. by ICE. Cano Pacheco had been
granted DACA status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, but it was revoked over a speeding ticket. He was the oldest of four siblings.
For a second year in a row, Trump failed to recognize LGBTQ Pride Month. Shortly after his inauguration, the Trump regime removed references to LGBTQ people from a number of federal government websites. On Monday,
the Supreme Court ruled that the baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple was discriminated against by a Colorado agency which displayed religious bias when it sanctioned him. The narrow Supreme Court ruling
did not address whether businesses can refuse service to same-sex couples based on religious beliefs. Trump fanned misinformation, tweeting, “Big Supreme Court ruling for Baker just out!” On Monday, following the ruling,
state Rep. Michael Clark of South Dakota wrote on Facebook that businesses should be able to turn away customers based on race. He later apologized. Following the ruling, Jeff Amyx, owner of a hardware store in Tennessee,
displayed a sign which read, ‘No Gays Allowed.’ Amyx said, “Christianity is under attack…this is not the end, this is just the beginning.” Amyx had
first posted the sign in the store window in 2015 when gay marriage became legal, but later removed it after facing a sharp backlash. On Thursday, an Arizona appeals court ruled that
a Phoenix-based calligraphy business cannot refuse service to same-sex couples. After the White House drew fired in 2017 for not hosting an Iftar dinner to commemorate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, this year the regime hosted a dinner, but
failed to invite any Muslim-American leaders or activists.
NYT reported on a 20-page confidential letter sent to Robert Mueller on January 29 from Trump attorneys John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, making the untested assertion that Trump cannot illegally obstruct any aspect of the Russia investigation. Trump’s lawyers argue it is impossible for him to obstruct justice by shutting down a case or firing a subordinate, no matter his motivation,
since the Constitution gives him power to supervise the executive branch. Trump’s attorneys are looking to head off a subpoena for fear that if he answers questions in front of a grand jury,
he risks exposing himself to accusations of lying to investigators, a potential crime or impeachable offense.
To counter Mueller, Trump and his lawyers are attacking James Comey’s credibility, and have started a public-relations campaign to discredit the investigation to preempt a potentially damaging special counsel report. Trump’s lawyers
also disclosed in the letter that Trump “dictated a short but accurate response to the on behalf of his son” relating to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians. New York Times article Shortly after the
NYT article came out, Trump tweeted, “ Is the Special Counsel/Justice Department leaking my lawyers letters to the Fake News Media?” adding “When will this very expensive Witch Hunt Hoax ever end?” This statement
contradicts multiple public statements made by both Sekulow and press secretary Sarah Sanders in the past year, both who asserted to the press that Trump did not dictate the misleading statement. On Monday, at the daily briefing, when
asked about her past false statements, Sanders refused to explain, saying, “You’re referencing a letter that came directly from outside counsel and I would refer you to them,” On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani told “This Week” that
Trump has the ability to pardon himself, but said it is “unthinkable” he would pardon himself, saying, “He has no intention of pardoning himself.” On Sunday, Giuliani told
HuffPost, “ In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted,” claiming Trump’s Constitutional powers are that broad. On Sunday, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who hopes to take over House leadership when Paul Ryan retires, told “State of the Union” regarding the
Mueller probe, “if there is no collusion, it’s time to wind this down.” On Monday, Trump tweeted, “As has been stated by numerous legal scholars,
I have the absolute right to PARDON myself,” adding “ but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” Trump also
called the Mueller probe “the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats,” and said, “The appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!” In a
scathing op-ed “Mourning America,” by Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan’s daughter, Davis accused Trump of “sullying” the American dream,” and called out Republicans in Congress for refusing to stand up to him.
WAPO reported that in Trump’s first 497 days, he has made 3,251 false or misleading claims. In his first 100 days, Trump averaged 4.9 false claims a day. Now, Trump is up to 6.5 false claims each day. On Monday, the Pentagon inspector general issued a statement, saying the watchdog has “
initiated an investigation into allegations” against Trump’s former personal physician, Ronny Jackson. U.S. ambassador to Germany,
Richard Grenell told Breitbart London he wants to “empower other conservatives” to rise up against “elites.” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said Grenell should be recalled if political statements continue.
Trump nominated Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker and close Steve Bannon ally, to lead the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the agency which oversees U.S.-funded media outlets, including Voice of America.
WSJ reported the Trump regime has put the search for the Justice Department’s number 3 position on hold, after failing to lure several candidates, who would take over the Mueller probe if Rod Rosenstein were fired. The Justice Department has been a frequent target for Trump. The
department lacks permanent, appointed leaders to oversee at least five high-profile units, including the criminal, civil, and tax divisions. On Tuesday,
Trump continued to attack Sessions, tweeting, “The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself,” adding, “So much time and money wasted.” On Wednesday,
WAPO reported Mick Mulvaney fired the 25-member advisory board of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, after 11 of its members Monday publicly criticized his leadership of the agency. Carl Higbie, a former Trump appointee,
resigned from Trump-aligned America First Policies after companies said they would no longer donate due to his racist comments, like black women “think that breeding is a form of government employment.” On Thursday, in a big victory for the chemical industry after heavy lobbying,
Trump’s EPA is scaling back the way the government determines health and safety risks associated with the most dangerous chemicals. According to documents released last week by the Environmental Protection Agency, testing will now
exclude potential exposure caused by the substances’ presence in the air, the ground or water, and instead focus on direct contact with a chemical.
Politico reported Trump has considered Judge Jeanine Pirro for a senior job in the regime. The two speak by phone frequently, and Trump watches her Fox News show every Saturday night, sometimes calling in. On Monday,
WAPO reported Scott Pruitt had aides do various personal tasks, including having the EPA’s chief’s director of scheduling call the Trump International DC to inquire about purchasing one of its used mattresses. Emails released under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Sierra Club reveal
Pruitt tried twice to get a job for his wife. Federal ethics laws bar public officials from using their position or staff for private gain. On Wednesday,
a second top Pruitt aide, senior adviser Sarah Greenwalt, resigned from the EPA and said she is returning to Oklahoma to work at a state agency. On Thursday,
WAPO reported Pruitt enlisted his 24/7 security detail to run errands for him, including picking up his dry cleaning and picking up his favorite moisturizing lotion. Documents obtained by
The Hill under the FOIA reveal Bob Murray, CEO of coal company Murray Energy, offered six suggested executive orders on coal to the EPA and Department of Energy. In Week 62, a photographer was fired for leaking a photo of Rick Perry hugging Bob Murray. The executive orders would have halted and repealed rules on coal pollution.
Although Trump did not sign the orders, the regime has started to implement many of those policies. On Friday,
Trump said he continues to back Pruitt despite the growing list of ethical scandals, saying Pruitt is “doing a great job.” Documents obtained by
BuzzFeed in a FOIA lawsuit reveal that as head of DHS, John Kelly instructed an official not to email staffers for fear of scrutiny of the FOIA. At the time, the agency’s main focus was immigration.
WAPO reported that in early 2018, China hacked the computers of a Navy contractor, stealing massive amounts of highly sensitive data, including secret plans to develop a supersonic anti-ship missile by 2020. On Thursday, the House voted 210–206 to
rescind $15 billion in unspent funding that had been approved, including $7 billion for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which covers low-income children. Late Monday,
Mueller’s team accused Paul Manafort of witness tampering by contacting two witnesses by phone and through encrypted messaging apps, and asked a federal judge to consider revoking or revising Manafort’s release. Mueller’s team said
Manafort and an unnamed associate linked to Russian intelligence repeatedly contacted two members of a public relations firm and asked them to falsely testify about secret lobbying. On Tuesday, a federal judge ordered Manafort to respond by Friday to Mueller’s request to revoke or revise his release, and
set a June 15 hearing date. On Thursday,
Reuters reported Bruce Baldinger, a longtime lawyer for Manafort hired Marc Garfinkle, a New Jersey ethics attorney, to advise him. On Friday,
Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national, were indicted by Mueller on charges of obstructing justice: trying to influence two witnesses relating to the failure to register as foreign lobbyists. Manafort and Kilimnik allegedly began reaching out in February and April
and tried to convince former colleagues to lie that Manafort’s lobbying work was done exclusively in Europe, and not in the U.S. Kilimnik has worked with Manafort since 2005. Mueller’s team claimed in a court filing this year that the
FBI believes Kilimnik still has “ties to a Russian intelligence service.” Rick Gates, Manafort’s former business partner, who is cooperating in the probe,
has said Kilimnik is a former officer of Russia’s foreign military intelligence agency, the GRU. With these indictments, the year-old Mueller probe has thus far resulted in
20 individuals and three businesses having been either indicted or pled guilty, and a total of 75 charges have been filed. On Tuesday, Simona Mangiante, wife of George Papadopoulos, changed her previous account of her husband’s intentions, and
asked Trump on Fox News to pardon him. On Tuesday,
Alex van der Zwaan, the first person to serve prison time in the Mueller probe, was deported to the Netherlands. On Wednesday,
Speaker Ryan said he agreed with Rep. Trey Gowdy’s initial assessment that there is no evidence the FBI spied on the Trump’s campaign. Shortly after, Sen. Richard Burr also said he agreed with Gowdy. So far
Gowdy and three of the four Republicans (Mitch McConnell, Ryan, Burr) in the Gang of Eight agree there is no evidence. Only Devin Nunes differs. On Wednesday, the
Guardian reported according to visitor logs, Brittany Kaiser, then a director at Cambridge Analytica, visited Julian Assange in February 17, 2017 to discuss what happened in the U.S. election. Kaiser also claimed to have
channelled cryptocurrency payments and donations, given to her by a third party, to WikiLeaks. In a tweet Wednesday, WikiLeaks said, “WikiLeaks has no knowledge of donations.” According to emails reviewed and sources,
BuzzFeed reported during the campaign Ivanka emailed with former Olympic weightlifter Dmitry Klokov, who offered to introduce Trump to Putin to facilitate a Trump tower in Moscow.
Ivanka connected Klokov with Michael Cohen. Reportedly congressional investigators have reviewed the emails and questioned witnesses, as has Mueller’s team.
Trump abruptly disinvited the Philadelphia Eagles from a White House Super Bowl celebration, saying in a statement, “They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem.” The regime claimed 70 Eagles had promised to come, then 10 to 12 said they would attend Monday.
Aides said Trump deemed the smaller crowd unsatisfactory. No Eagles knelt during the national anthem last season. On Tuesday,
Fox News’ reporting on the canceled trip featured images of Eagles players down on a knee. The players were praying, not protesting. Fox News later apologized. On Tuesday, the
White House issued another statement saying, “the vast majority of the Eagles decided to abandon their fans.” The White House claimed 81 players had last week committed to come. On Tuesday, in lieu of welcoming the Eagles,
Trump held a “Celebration of America” event at the White House. Trump appeared alongside U.S. flags and military troops. The event, which Trump hailed as a “beautiful, big celebration,” lasted about 10 minutes. At the ceremony,
Trump struggled with lyrics to “God Bless America,” and took the opportunity to talk about the economy. On Tuesday,
AP reported stars from the teams in the NBA finals, Stephen Curry and LeBron James, said they will not go to the White House. James said “I know no matter who wins this series, no one wants the invite anyway.”
AP also reported Trump did not invite the WNBA champions the Minnesota Lynx to the White House to celebrate their most recent title. LeBron James called this “laughable.” On Thursday,
Yahoo Sports reported Colin Kaepernick’s lawyers are expected to subpoena to compel testimony from Trump, Pence, and other officials familiar with Trump’s agenda on protesting NFL players. As part of the lawsuit, lawyers will
seek information on the Trump regime’s political involvement with the NFL during Kaepernick’s free agency and the league’s handling of player protests. On Friday, ahead of the NBA championship game,
Trump told reporters that he will not invite the NBA champions to the White House. On Wednesday, Trump gathered his cabinet at FEMA headquarters for an annual briefing.
Trump praised his entire cabinet except Sessions. While at FEMA,
Trump made no mention of the revised death toll estimates in Puerto Rico, and gave no indication the regime was reviewing its response to the hurricane in Puerto Rico.
First Lady Melania Trump also appeared with Trump at FEMA — her first time in public in nearly a month. Trump said, “The people of our country love you. So thank you, honey.” Trump chastised the media, saying, “
The Fake News Media has been so unfair, and vicious, to my wife.” Kellyanne Conway called the media’s coverage of Melania “conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact.” On Friday, when asked why Melania did not accompany him to the G7 summit and Singapore,
Trump said, “Can’t fly for one month, the doctors say. She had a big operation, that was close to a four-hour operation.”
Medical experts said it would be unusual for the procedure Melania received to last four hours, and that doctors don’t typically curtail flying after an embolization procedure, if it went normally as described. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader
McConnell canceled three of the four weeks of August recess. Democrats are defending 26 seats in November to Republicans’ nine, and would typically use that time to campaign. The House, however, will recess for the entire month. On Tuesday, the
LA Times reported 118,522 voters were accidentally left off the voting rosters in California’s primary due to a printing error. About 35% of L.A. County’s 4,357 precincts were affected. Santa Clara County residents voted 59–39 to recall Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, the judge who presided over Brock Turner’s sexual assault case.
He is the first California judge to be recalled in more than 85 years. On Tuesday, CNN reported
Kelly Sadler, the White House communications aide who made disparaging comments about Sen. John McCain and refused to publicly apologize, is no longer working at the White House. On Tuesday, in tweets, Trump
criticized “numerous delays” in release of the report on Clinton emails: “What is taking so long with the Inspector General’s Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey.” On Thursday,
Trump again urged the Justice Department to investigate his political enemies, tweeting, “Justice Department must not let Awan & Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook,” adding “Where is Server? Really bad!” Trump also accused the Obama administration of “trying to give Iran secret access to the financial system,” and
using his new term for Mueller’s team, the “13 Angry Democrats,” telling them to investigate. On Wednesday,
Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a first-time nonviolent drug offender. In Week 81, Kim Kardashian West visited Trump in the Oval Office to make this request. On Friday,
Trump told reporters he is considering pardoning some 3,000 people, including Muhammad Ali.
Ron Tweel, an attorney for Ali, who died in 2016, said in a tweet, “a pardon is unnecessary.” Ali’s conviction was overturned in 1971. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled
Trump can be deposed in the Summer Zervos defamation lawsuit. Zervos’ attorneys have already issued a subpoena to the Trump campaign related to other women accused. Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz said before the case moves forward, the issue of whether or not a sitting president can be sued in state court
should be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court. On Wednesday, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney
filed a lawsuit saying Cohen “colluded” with her then-lawyer, Keith Davidson, in an attempt to get her to go on Fox News’ “Hannity” in January and deny she had an affair with Trump. On Wednesday, at an investment conference in Israel, Giuliani told the audience why the summit with North Korea was off, then on: “Well,
Kim Jong Un got back on his hands and knees and begged for it.” Giuliani said of Mueller’s team, “They are a group of 13 highly partisan Democrats” who are “
trying very, very hard to frame” Trump. He also repeated his claim that Trump could pardon himself of any federal crimes. Giuliani also
said derogatory things about Clifford, including “I’m sorry I don’t respect a porn star,” and a woman who respects herself, “isn’t going to sell her body for sexual exploitation.” Giuliani also
he finds Clifford to be unattractive and therefore not credible, saying Trump’s three wives are “Beautiful women, classy women, women of great substance. Stormy Daniels? Pfft.” Giuliani drew sharp rebukes from many, calling him sexist and misogynist. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said
his comments were a slur and “an insult to every woman in this country.” On Friday, when asked about Giuliani’s comments,
Trump said, “I’m not going to disagree with him on that.” Trump has appeared in three Playboy videos between 1994 and 2001. On Thursday,
Sessions’ DOJ filed a brief supporting an obscure lawsuit brought by conservative states, led by Texas, arguing the protections for people with preexisting conditions under ACA should be invalidated. If those protections are invalidated, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation,
approximately 52 million Americans under the age of 65 could lose access to health care. Legal experts expressed shock that the DOJ sided with a frivolous lawsuit. Law professor Nicholas Bagley wrote,“
the Justice Department has a durable, longstanding, bipartisan commitment to defending the law.” On Thursday, James Wolfe, a former Senate Intelligence Committee director of security, was
arrested and charged with lying repeatedly to FBI investigators about his contacts with three reporters. The DOJ seized records of a
Times reporter, Ali Watkins, who had been in a three-year relationship with Wolfe. This is the first known instance of Trump’s Justice Department going after a reporter’s data. Watkins’s data, which was seized without her
being notified, included phone records from her time working at with Wolfe to all three employers. BuzzFeed and Politico. She disclosed her personal relationship Wolfe was
responsible for safeguarding classified and sensitive information. Court documents describe Wolfe’s communications with four reporters, including Watkins, using encrypted messaging applications. On Thursday,
the , saying the move “will endanger reporters’ ability to promise confidentiality to their sources and, ultimately, undermine the ability of a free press.” Times denounced the seizure of Atkins’ phone and email records On Friday, the Committee to Protect Journalists also expressed concern about the seizure, and
called the move “a fundamental threat to press freedom.” On Friday,
Trump applauded the arrest, saying, “I’m a very big believer in freedom of the press, but I’m also a believer that you cannot leak classified information.” Trump has been pressuring Sessions to take action. On Friday, Jim Jordan,
a senior member of the House Oversight Committee, said he was “very nervous” about the DOJ’s surveillance of a NYT reporter, and said he may hold hearings. On Thursday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC that at about 6 a.m., the
Trump regime “executed a definitive agreement with ZTE.” China lobbied the Trump regime for a compromise on ZTE. On Thursday, senators, including Trump ally Tom Cotton, said they would introduce an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act which
would restore penalties on ZTE for violating sanctions against Iran and North Korea. The amendment would also
ban government agencies from buying or leasing equipment and services from ZTE and Chinese telecom company Huawei, citing national security concerns about spying. On Friday, the Chairman of
ZTE apologized to staff and customers in a memo, saying the company had agreed to pay a $1 billion fine and overhaul its leadership. ZTE said it will restart restart operations. On Wednesday,
Sen. Bob Corker, along with eight Democratic and Republican co-sponsors, introduced a bill to check Trump’s tariff authority, rebuffing a personal request from Trump to back off. This marks the first time Republicans have stood up to Trump on trade. The
U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Koch Industries backed the bill, but McConnell said he would not bring it to the floor as a stand-alone bill. On Thursday, a group of two dozen moderate House Republicans broke from Trump,
demanding a vote to reinstate deportation protections for “dreamers” taken away by the regime. On Thursday,
former House Speaker John Boehner said at the Mackinac Policy Conference in Michigan, “There is no Republican Party. There’s a Trump party. The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere.” CNN reported on a testy conversation between Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on May 25, in which
Trump invoked the War of 1812 to justify tariffs, “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” That was British troops. On Thursday, ahead of the G7 meeting in Toronto, France’s Prime Minister Macron tweeted, the will to have a text “signed by 7 countries” must not overcome the content, adding, “
we must not rule out a 6+1 agreement.” On Thursday,
Trudeau tweeted an article detailing an “even closer collaboration” with France.
Trump responded in a series of tweets, saying, “Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs,” and accusing Trudeau of “being so indignant.” Late Thursday, the
White House announced Trump would leave the G7 summit early, after sparring with Macron and Trudeau on the issue of trade. On Friday morning, before heading to the G7 summit,
Trump told reporters Russia should be reinstated in the group, saying “Russia should be in this meeting…They should let Russia come back in.” Russia was
suspended from the then G8 in 2014 over the annexation of Crimea, the first violation of a European country’s borders since World War II. Trump’s statement signals the growing divide with former allies. On Saturday, Trump arrived late to the G7 summit breakfast on empowering women, and
walked in after Trudeau had welcomed everyone to the session. On Saturday,
Trump delivered his most defiant trade threat yet, telling the G7 summit that they must dramatically reduce trade barriers, “We’re like the piggy bank that everybody is robbing. And that ends.” Trump asked the six countries
to remove every single tariff or trade barrier on American goods and in return, he would do the same for products from their countries. Else, they risk severe penalties. He also said of trade wars, “We win that war a thousand times out of a thousand.”
WAPO reported before Trump had grumbled about having to attend the G7, and had considered sending Pence in his place.
Trump also again called for readmitting Russia to the G7, and said “Crimea was let go during the Obama administration…I might have had a very different” response. Trump departed early Saturday,
skipping meetings on climate change, energy policy and oceans. The White House Trump will leave early to prepare for his summit in Singapore on June 12 with Kim Jong Un. On Thursday,
Politico reported National security adviser John Bolton has yet to convene a cabinet-level meeting to discuss Trump’s upcoming summit with Kim Jong Un, a striking break from decades of precedent. On Thursday, when asked about preparation by reporters at the White House before a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Abe, Trump said “I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude.”
New York Post reported former NBA player Dennis Rodman will be in Singapore for the Trump-Kim summit. Sources say Rodman may play some part in the negotiation, and “One thing’s for sure the ratings will be huge.” On Thursday, Trump said that
Rodman had not been invited to the summit but called him a “nice guy.” Trump added that he did not know about Rodman’s intention to be in Singapore during the summit. On Friday, Rodman confirmed on Instagram that
he’s heading to Singapore to “give whatever support is needed to my friends, President Trump and Marshall Kim Jong Un.”
This week, a new street art piece depicting America and its gun problem is featured with three very relevant political cartoons related to the NFL controversy. The artists’ names are clearly visible for credits.
Shoreditch, London. Pegasus Art. https://www.instagram.com/pegasusart/
Week 80 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
May 26, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-80-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-2feacda0c6f0
This week, despite the White House providing no evidence to back Trump’s claim that the Obama administration spied on his 2016 campaign for political reasons, and despite Trump ostensibly branding “spy” and “Spygate” to rile his base and hurt the credibility of the FBI, Justice Department, and Mueller probe, the media was nonetheless consumed the entire week with covering this manufactured storyline. Reminiscent of Trump’s success in using the Nunes memo as a shiny coin to distract in Week 64, this week important stories and storylines received little or no national coverage.
After a social media barrage at the end of the week, the story that finally captured the country’s and some media attention was the Trump regime’s increasingly cruel and racist policies at the border. Immigrants are being dehumanized by Trump in words, and his regime is enacting inhumane policies resulting in families being separated, and children going missing.
This week had numerous examples of assaults on the First Amendment, including arrests of high school students protesting gun violence, media outlets being barred from an EPA event, and NFL owners banning public protests by their players in an effort to appease Trump.
Border Patrol detained and questioned two women for 35 minutes after hearing them speak Spanish at a gas station in Havre, Montana, a town in the northern part of the state, near the border with Canada.
On Monday, Rep. Steve King introduced the Mayor Libby Schaaf Act of 2018, named for the Oakland mayor, which calls for up to five years’ imprisonment for officials who warn residents of ICE raids.
On Monday, former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, pardoned by Trump last year after being convicted of contempt of court in a racial profiling case, filed a petition to run for U.S. Senator of Arizona.
On Monday, tripling-down on Trump’s “animals” comments in Week 79, the White House issued a statement saying, “The violent animals of MS-13 have committed heinous, violent attacks in communities across America.”
On Tuesday, in testimony before the House, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said it’s up to individual schools to decide whether to call ICE if they suspect their students are undocumented.
Civil rights groups said DeVos’ comments violate the Supreme Court‘s 1982 ruling in Plyler v. Doe, which guarantees the rights of students to receive a public education regardless of their immigration status.
NBC News reported as the Trump regime prepares to ramp up separating immigrant children from their parents coming over the border, that from October 2017 to mid-April, more than 700 children have been separated.
Children are turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and the government tries to connect them with family members in the US. Under a new proposal from the Department of Homeland Security, relatives would also need to go through security checks, making it less likely they will come forward.
On Wednesday, NPR reported according to an ACLU report, immigrant children who are detained by border patrol suffer physical, verbal, sexual, and psychological abuse, including denial of drinking water and food.
Allegations in the ACLU report included denying a pregnant teen medical care, forcing a 16 year-old girl to forcibly spread her legs and be touched, and threatening a child with sexual abuse by an adult male detainee.
The Arizona Daily Star reported Alma Jacinto, a 36 year-old from Guatemala, was separated from her sons, ages 8 and 11, and forced to wear a yellow bracelet on her left wrist.
The yellow bracelet identifies parents who are arrested with their children and prosecuted in Operation Streamline, a fast-track program of the Trump regime. Prosecutors refuse to tell Jacinto where her children are.
According to The Arizona Republic, the Office of Refugee Resettlement reported that at the end of 2017 the agency did not know the location of 1,475 of the that of the 7,635 children placed with sponsored individuals.
PBS reported Department of Health and Human Services officials came under fire during Congressional testimony in April for the missing children. It was revealed that some of the children had been victims of sex trafficking.
Steven Wagner, the acting assistant secretary of HHS’ Administration for Children and Families said from October 2016 and December 2017 the agency was unable to locate 19% of immigrant children taken in.
NYT reported most of the children taken into government care are from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, and were fleeing from drug cartels, gang violence, and domestic abuse, government data shows.
The Trump regime appointed Ronald Mortensen, an immigrant hard-liner who advocates for restricting legal and illegal immigration and is opposed to DACA, to a senior role in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.
CNN reported an undocumented woman, Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, 20, from Guatemala was shot in the head and killed by a Border Patrol agent near Laredo, Texas on Wednesday. The agent claimed he came under attack by migrants armed with “blunt objects.”
On Friday, Border Patrol changed their account of shooting of the undocumented woman, saying the migrants did not have blunt objects, but “rushed” the officer after ignoring orders to get on the ground.
The revised statement also refers to the gunshot victim as a “member of the group.” Customs and Border Protection canceled a press conference that was supposed to take place on Friday.
WAPO reported in addition to Trump’s tirade against DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in Week 78, he has been berating her all spring over a rise in illegal crossings. The rise, due to migration patterns returning to historic seasonal norms, has stripped Trump of his proudest accomplishment.
Trump is also furious at Nielsen for not securing money for his border wall, even though she was not party to the spending deal struck by senior White House aides that Trump signed.
Nielsen has said Trump doesn’t understand the nuances of immigration law. One expert said Trump wants Nielsen to deliver a crackdown that looks like the Iraq War: “He wants to do shock and awe,”
Trump met with Stephen Miller and Kushner ahead of his February 2017 speech to Congress, and acting like he was at a rally, “recited a few made-up Hispanic names and described potential crimes they could have committed, such as rape or murder.” Miller and Kushner laughed.
LA Times reported that Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council union which represents 15,000 agents, called Trump’s National Guard deployment to the border a “colossal waste.”
The union endorsed Trump in 2016. Judd said when he heard the National Guard was going to the border “I was extremely excited” for help to alleviate the Border Patrol workload, but “that has not happened at all.”
Houston Chronicle reported on Esteban Pastor, a 28 year-old escaping from Guatemala who was detained in Texas and separated from his sick 18 month-old crossing the border. When he was deported three months later, agents were unable to locate his baby.
Few procedures are in place to track and reunify families. Nielsen has defended the regime’s practice of separating parents from children, saying children are taken from criminals imprisoned for breaking the law.
Before the Trump regime, most parents with children weren’t prosecuted for crossing the border illegally, a misdemeanor for first offenders, but deported or freed together under a practice called “catch and release.”
On Saturday, facing pressure for news about separated families and missing children, Trump tweeted blaming Democrats for the “horrible horrible law that separates children from there parents.”
Trump also blamed Democrats for “PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS,” and added, “ Catch and Release, Lottery and Chain must also go with it.” Trump also said we “MUST continue building the WALL!”
On Friday, DHS said, for a second year in a row, it would issue 15,000 additional guest workers visas for 2018, following an outcry from businesses over being hurt by the country’s labor squeeze.
Capitol Police arrested four of the eights students from the Montgomery County Students for Gun Control who staged a sit-in outside of Speaker Paul Ryan’s office last Friday. The students were calling on Ryan to pass common-sense gun control legislation.
On Tuesday, AP reported the Environmental Protection Agency barred the on harmful water contaminants convened by Scott Pruitt in Washington DC. Associated Press, CNN, and the environmental-focused news organization E&E from a national summit
According to to an EPA public-affairs person, “the security guards grabbed the reporter by the shoulders and shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building.” AP, when their reporter asked to speak
On Tuesday, when asked at the press briefing about the EPA turning away reporters, press secretary Sarah Sanders said she would “look into” it, saying “I can’t speak to a situation I don’t have a lot of visibility into.”
On Wednesday, reporters were again barred from attending the EPA water pollution event. Journalists from AP, Politico, and many others were turned away, told the sessions were were closed to reporters.
On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that Trump cannot blocking Twitter users, saying it is a violation of the First Amendment. Twitter is a public forum and silencing critics is not permissible under the U.S. Constitution.
On Wednesday, the NFL announced players will be allowed to stay in the locker room during the national anthem, but teams will be fined if their players kneel during the anthem.
The policy was adopted without the players’ union involvement. In a statement Wednesday, the union said it would review and “challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”
On Thursday, when asked about the NFL move on “Fox & Friends,” Trump said the owners did the right thing, “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem…maybe they shouldn’t be in the country.”
Conversely, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told athletes, “do not [just] stick to sports.” This week, Milwaukee police released a disturbing video of Bucks player, Sterling Brown’s arrest, with obvious racial undertones.
On Monday, at a private White House signing ceremony, Trump repealed auto-lending guidance from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that protected minority customers from predatory practices.
Trump’s Interior Department said it would reverse Obama-era rules barring hunters in Alaska from baiting brown bears with bacon and doughnuts and using spotlights to shoot mother black bears and cubs hibernating in their dens.
On Tuesday, Trump’s DHS unveiled the regime’s proposed regulations which would ban organizations that perform or refer patients for abortions from receiving Title X dollars.
The regulation would also remove “medically approved” family planning services from the requirement, meaning formerly ineligible organizations, some of which oppose contraception, could now received Title X funding.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher told a group of realtors that homeowners should be able to refuse to sell their homes to gays and lesbians, saying they should not be forced to do business with “someone they think is doing something that is immoral.”
On Thursday, the House passed a bill to reauthorize funds for the military, which includes authorization for Trump’s request to hold a military parade.
Speaking at a Naval Academy commencement, Trump told graduates, “our ancestors tamed a continent,” adding “We are not going to apologize for America. We are going to stand up for America.”
The Arizona Republic reported the Arizona Department of Education plans to make changes to the K-12 curriculum, including removing the word “evolution” in some areas and describing it as a “theory” in others.
In a letter, Democrat Sen. Jeff Merkley and GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, demanded the FCC investigate identity theft and fraud of two million Americans, including the two senators, in public comments for net neutrality.
Politico reported that John Bolton relied on Matthew Freedman, a consultant and former lobbyist who worked for Paul Manafort and was fired from Trump’s transition team, to meet with potential job applicants for the National Security Council.
Mark Inch, a retired Army major general who was appointed nine months ago to oversee the Federal Bureau of Prisons and its more than 180,000 inmates, resigned citing the regime continually flouting “departmental norms.”
On Saturday, Trump attacked the FBI and DOJ, tweeting, “ If the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal,” and called for the release or review of documents.
On Saturday, Jeanine Pirro opened her Fox News show, calling Jeff Sessions, “the single most dangerous person,” saying that Sessions is,“the most of powerful prosecutor in the world,” who “hides behind” Rosenstein.
On Sunday, Fox News host Maria Bartiromo told “Fox & Friends” that either Obama or Hillary “were sort of masterminding all of this,” saying agencies “were all involved in trying to take down Donald Trump.”
On Sunday, Trump vented in a series of seven tweets, deriding the “$20,000,000 Witch Hunt,” and attacking his political opponents, including Hillary Clinton, Andrew McCabe, Obama and the Podesta brothers.
Trump also tweeted “The Failing and Crooked” NYT published a “long & boring story,” adding the “ World’s most expensive Witch Hunt” found nothing on Russia, so “now they are looking at the rest of the World!”
Later Sunday, Trump tweeted, “I hereby demand….the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes,” and if the requests came from the Obama administration.
Hours later, Rod Rosenstein announced the Justice Department inspector general will expand an ongoing review to include an inquiry to determine “whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation.”
Over the weekend, media widely reported Stefan Halper is the FBI source. Halper is a Republican who worked for Nixon and Ford and donated to George W. Bush, and is an emeritus professor at the University of Cambridge.
On Sunday, former CIA director John Brennan tweeted at Speaker Ryan and Leader Mitch McConnell, saying Trump was on a “disastrous path” and Republican leaders would bear responsibility for the “harm done to our democracy” if they did not intervene.
On Monday, hours before attending the swearing in of his new CIA director, Trump attacked Brennan in a series of tweets, saying he “has disgraced” himself, the country, and the entire intelligence community.
Trump also quoted Dan Bongino who had appeared on “Fox & Friends” that morning, saying of Brennan, “This was a Political hit job, this was not an Intelligence Investigation,” and Brennan is “worried about staying out of Jail.”
On Monday, Michael Caputo hinted on Fox News that there is a second informant that penetrated Trump’s campaign, adding when the truth comes out, “[James] Clapper and the rest of them are going to be wearing some orange suits.”
On Monday, Trump met privately for about an hour with Rosenstein, Christopher Wray, and Daniel Coats. Sanders said the meeting had been on the schedule since last week.
After the meeting, the White House announced John Kelly would convene another gathering between the officials and congressional leaders to “review highly classified and other information.”
On Monday, Rudy Giuliani told HuffPost that Robert Mueller will not be allowed to interview Trump until Trump learns more about the secret FBI informant, saying “I don’t care so much about the name as I do about the content.”
On Tuesday, Rep. Lee Zeldin and 11 House conservatives introduced a resolution calling for a second special counsel to investigate possible misconduct by the Justice Department and FBI during the 2016 election.
On Tuesday, DHS Secretary Nielsen told a reporter she was unaware of the finding in the January 2017 intelligence community’s assessment that Russia intervened to help Trump win: “I do not believe that I’ve seen that conclusion.”
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, saying things have turned for the “ Criminal Deep State,” saying they are “caught in a major SPY scandal” and calling the Russia probe, “phony” and a “made up Scam.”
Trump later tweeted his branded term for the ongoing attack on the FBI and Justice Department: “SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!”
On Wednesday, as he left the White House, Trump told reporters asking for proof of his spying allegations, Trump, “All you have to do is look at the basics and you’ll see it. Looks like a very serious event, but we’ll find out.”
On Thursday, Trump tweeted, “ Clapper has now admitted that there was Spying in my campaign,” adding, “Starting to look like one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history. SPYGATE.”
Trump incorrectly attributed a statement by former DNI Clapper on “The View” speaking about his new book. Clapper had said, “They were spying on — a term I don’t particularly like … what the Russians were doing.”
On Thursday, Trump also tweeted, without citing evidence, “Large dollars were paid to the Spy, far beyond normal,” adding this is “one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history.”
On Thursday, AP reported Trump told an ally this week that he wanted “to brand” the informant a spy, believing the term would resonate more in the media and with the public, and came up with the term “Spygate.”
On Tuesday, the White House announced that FBI and Justice Department officials would brief only Reps. Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy on confidential intelligence on the FBI’s Russia informant.
After complaints by top House and Senate Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, a second meeting was scheduled at 2 p.m., including the “Gang of Eight” and Gowdy, immediately after the noon meeting for Nunes and Gowdy.
At the last minute, Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, was also invited to attend both meetings. Speaker Ryan said due to a scheduling conflict, he would attend the first meeting.
On Thursday, without advance notice and raising suspicions from lawmakers on both sides, chief of staff Kelly and White House lawyer Emmet Flood attended both meetings.
Reportedly, Kelly and Flood delivered a message from Trump and then left. Rep. Schiff said Flood’s “involvement — in any capacity — was entirely improper, and I made this clear to him.”
Later Thursday, the White House released a statement, saying Kelly and Flood made only, “brief remarks before the meetings started to relay the President’s desire for as much openness as possible under the law.”
After the meeting, Schiff read a statement on behalf of Pelosi, Schumer, Warner and himself: “Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intel agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign.”
Sen. McConnell told Fox News of the meeting that he learned “nothing particularly surprising.” He also told NPR he supports the Mueller investigation, as well as the inspector general’s investigation of the Justice Department.
On Friday, Trump again attacked the FBI on Twitter, repeating his claim without evidence that the informant was “paid a fortune.”
Trump also tweeted, without evidence, “ imagine having Spies placed in a competing campaign, by the people and party in absolute power,” saying it was for “political advantage and gain,” but they still “LOST!”
On Friday, Giuliani told the AP Trump’s legal team wants a briefing on the classified information shared with lawmakers, and may use it to take to the Justice Department as part of an effort to try to end the Mueller probe.
Giuliani said the White House is hoping for a readout next week, adding “If the spying was inappropriate, that means we may have an entirely illegitimate investigation.”
On Thursday, WSJ reported, according to emails reviewed by the Journal, Roger Stone privately sought emails he thought were damaging to Hillary Clinton from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
In a September 18, 2016 message, Stone asked Randy Credico, a New York radio personality who had interviewed Assange, for Hillary’s emailsrelated to the 2011 Libyan peace deal. Credico eventually responded, “That batch probably coming out in the next drop.”
Credito told WSJ he first got to know Stone in August 2016 when Stone agreed to be on his show. Credito said Stone had claimed to be in touch with Assange, and had predicted the release of damaging information.
The emails contradict Stone’s testimony to Congress, in which he said he “merely wanted confirmation” from an acquaintance that Assange had information on Hillary. Stone maintains he hasn’t been contacted by Mueller’s office.
On Wednesday, Mueller’s team asked a federal judge to deny a request by AP, CNN, NYT, Politico, and WAPO for a “broad unsealing” of search warrants, affidavits, and other materials related to Manafort.
Mueller’s team argued in its filing that the investigation is “not a closed matter but an ongoing criminal investigation with multiple lines of non-public inquiry.”
The filing noted the probe has resulted in criminal charges against 22 individuals and entities, adding unsealing materials would create “a serious risk of jeopardizing the ongoing and interconnected aspects of the investigation.”
On Saturday , NYT reported on a meeting arranged by Erik Prince at Trump Tower on August 3, 2016 between Donald Jr., George Nader, and Joel Zamel, an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation.
Nader, an emissary for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the UAE and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, said the princes were eager to help Trump win the election.
Zamel came to with a multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation. Reportedly, Donald Jr. responded positively to the offers for help, and Nader was embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers.
After Trump was elected, Nader paid Zamel as much as $2 million after a presentation by Zamel demonstrating the significance of their help. Mueller is investigating these interactions, and Nader is cooperating.
On Saturday, WSJ said it has reviewed a subpoena by Mueller team for Zamel, which has not yet been issued. Zamel runs two companies that were involved in the 2016 election, Wikistrat and Psy-Group. Mueller’s team has conducting interviews about Zamel’s work.
Psy-Group, which is a secretive private intelligence firm with the motto “ shape reality,” has veteran Israeli intelligence officials linked to it. Wikistrat uses a network of experts to analyze geopolitical problems.
Zamel’s attorney said his client offered nothing to and received nothing from the Trump campaign. Donald Jr.’s attorney said in a statement that Donald Jr. “was not interested and that was the end of it.”
On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported Mueller’s team has subpoenaed bank records for payments made to Psy-Group’s Cyprus bank accounts. While Psy-Group is based in Israel, it’s headquartered in Cyprus.
Following Trump’s victory, Psy-Group formed an alliance with Cambridge Analytica to try to win U.S. government business. A proposal sent to the State Department offers Psy-Group “has conducted messaging/influence operations in well over a dozen languages and dialects.”
Mueller’s team interviewed people associated with Psy-Group’s U.S. operation in February. Shortly after, the company’s CEO Royi Burstien told employees in Tel Aviv the company was closing down. Burstien is a former commander of an Israeli psychological warfare unit.
On Wednesday, WSJ reported Mueller’s team has also interviewed Zamel, likely as part of their investigation into the influence of the UAE in the 2016 election. Zamel is said to be close to top officials in the UAE.
Zamel starting making contacts with the UAE in 2014, and founded Psy-Group in 2016. Some of Psy-Group’s work included setting up “honey traps” — creating compromising information to be used for leverage.
On Sunday, WAPO reported Andrew Intrater, chief executive of Columbus Nova and cousin of Viktor Vekselberg, not only made donations to Trump, but also signed a $1 million annual contract with Cohen for help finding investors.
Intrater was reportedly impressed with the large number of wealthy people Cohen seemed to know, but after Cohen was unable to identify any new investors, the contract was terminated and Cohen was paid $500,000.
On Sunday, a newly-filed Federal Election Commission report showed the RNC paid $451,780 to Trout Cacheris & Janis, a law firm that represents Hope Hicks and others Mueller’s Russia probe.
On Tuesday, NYT reported Evgeny Freidman, a Russian immigrant known as the Taxi King, and significant business partner of Cohen, has agreed to cooperate with state or federal investigations as part of a plea deal.
Friedman is accused of failing to pay more than $5 million in taxes and faced four counts of criminal tax fraud and one of grand larceny. Under the plea deal, he will plead guilty to a single count and get no jail time.
Giuliani changed his position on whether Trump would speak to Mueller — telling the WSJ he opposed it, then WAPO he was for it. Giuliani later told BuzzFeed that he and Trump last talked a “couple weeks ago.”
Giuliani also told WAPO he was concerned about a perjury trap saying the “truth is relative,” adding, reminiscent of Kellyanne Conway’s alternative facts, “They may have a different version of the truth than we do.”
CNN reported Trump’s lawyers are trying to narrow the scope of the Mueller interview to limit or eliminate questions regarding Trump’s conduct after he took office, especially related to obstruction of justice.
Mueller is reportedly against written responses, and will insist on asking Trump questions about his time in office. The Mueller team continues to be tight lipped, not speaking publicly, about the investigation.
On Tuesday, AP reported based on a review of the emails and documents, Elliott Broidy and Nader worked to cultivate the princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, then lobby Congress and the White House on the gulf state’s behalf.
Summaries written by Broidy reveal he had two meeting with Trump. Broidy was also passing messages to the Trump from the two princes, and told Trump he was seeking business with them.
Neither Broidy or Nader registered under Foreign Agents Registration Act, although both waged an anti-Qatar campaign on behalf of foreign client. Broidy came close to netting more than $1 billion in business as payment for his work.
Cadre, a real estate technology startup co-founded and partly owned by Kushner, is in discussions about a $100 million investment with SoftBank, a private fund that gets almost half its capital from the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
On Wednesday, BBC reported Cohen received a payment of at least $400,000 through an intermediary to broker talks between the Ukrainian president Poroshenko and Trump. The meeting took place at the White House last June.
A senior intelligence official in Kiev said that Sater also helped Cohen. A week after Poroshenko returned home, Ukraine’s National Anti Corruption Bureau announced it was dropping its investigation of Manafort.
On Wednesday, Mueller’s team asked a federal judge to start the process of preparing a pre-sentencing report for George Papadopoulos.
On Friday, NYT reported according to video footage from C-Span and and an interview with Intrater who also attended, Donald Jr. and Cohen met with Vekselberg at Trump Tower on January 9, 2017.
According to Intrater, the meeting took place in Cohen’s office on the 26th floor. The topics discussed were shared interests and a mutual desire to strengthen Russia’s relations with the U.S. under Trump.
Intrater claimed Vekselberg, his cousin and biggest client, had no role in Columbus Nova’s decision to hire Cohen for $1 million contract shortly after the election, or the multiple donations made to Trump.
On Friday, Politico reported bankruptcy lawyers for Jeffrey Yohai, Manafort’s son-in-law who is cooperating in the Mueller probe, are seeking to drop partial representation citing unpaid bills and lack of candor.
On Friday, Yahoo News reported the FBI has obtained a secret wiretaps collected by Spanish police of conversations involving Alexander Torshinthat lead up to his meeting with Donald Jr. at the NRA convention in May 2016.
The conversations took place between Torshin and Alexander Romanov, a convicted Russian money launderer, and were wiretapped as part of officials’ investigation into Spanish organized crime.
Despite allegations of ties to Russian money laundering, Torshin continues to travel to the U.S., including to the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2017 where he was supposed to meet with Trump, but that meeting was canceled the night prior.
On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the regime had decided to put the trade war with China “on hold,” despite the fact that meetings in Beijing and Washington DC produced no major agreement.
On Tuesday, following action rebuking Trump in the House in Week 79,the Senate Banking Committee voted 23–2 to make it harder for Trump to modify penalties against ZTE.
On Tuesday, speaking at the White House, Trump floated a new plan to fine ZTE and shake up its management in lieu of sanctions, saying the company has been hurt by an April Commerce Department decision.
On Friday, the Trump regime told Congress it had a new deal to revive ZTE, under which the company would pay a substantial fine, hire an American compliance officers, and change its management team.
WAPO reported a letter being circulated to dozens of wealthy entrepreneurs in China last week, topped with the insignia of a real Republican committee, offered access to Trump at a fundraiser.
The invitation offers a handshake and a one-on-one photo with Trump for $100,000. U.S. election law allows foreign visitors to attend fundraisers as long as they do not pay their own entry, but the invitation does raise ethical concerns.
Watchdog group CREW noted that Ivanka’s business has won approval for Chinese trademarks recently, including on May 7 her business received “registration” approval for five trademark applications.
Politico reported that Trump uses at least two at least two iPhones to contact friends and tweet, which are not equipped with sophisticated security features designed to shield his communications.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by reading a letter from Trump to Kim Jong Un cancelling the Singapore summit.
The letter thanked Kim Jong Un for releasing three prisoners, but included a threat, “You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”
Shortly after canceling the summit, Trump told the press, “It’s possible that the existing summit could take place, or a summit at some later date.”
South Korea President Moon, who had visited Trump at the White House Tuesday, convened an emergency meeting after the announcement. Spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters, “ We are trying to figure out what President Trump’s intention is and the exact meaning of it.”
On Friday, NYT reported the summit with North Korea may be on again, a startling reversal which speaks to Trump improvising and erratic style, as well as deep divisions within the regime on how to proceed.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted attacked the , saying unlike what “the Failing and Corrupt New York Times” has said, there is “ZERO disagreement” in the regime on how to deal with North Korea. NYT in two tweets
Trump also said the “Failing” Times “ quotes “a senior White House official,” who doesn’t exist.” The NYT countered, saying Trump falsely claimed the Times made up a source.
On Wednesday, CNN reported Kushner had his White House security clearance restored, after months of uncertainty stemming in part from Kushner being questioned in the Mueller probe.
Kushner’s attorney Abbe Lowell said Kushner met with Mueller’s team for a second time in April for a seven hour interview. Lowell claimed Kushner is finished with Mueller’s inquiries. Mueller did not comment.
On Thursday, Axios reported Ivanka now also has full security clearance. Both Ivanka and Kushner were reportedly given full Top Secret clearance on May 1.
USA Today reported T Retail LLC, a company formed in May 2017 and listed in Trump’s financial disclosure statement as earning over $100,000, is a store that sells items from t-shirts to hats to dog leashes, branded with the “Trump” name.
On Thursday, in a statement, T-Mobile said it hired Turnberry Solutions in August to help in the lobbying effort to secure federal approval for its proposed takeover of Sprint. Corey Lewandowski is affiliated with Turnberry.
WSJ reported Lewandowski receives a cut of the fees paid to the lobbying firm on the T-Mobile contract. Lewandowski has denied any relationship to Turnberry, although they share Capitol Hill office space.
On Friday, in three executive orders, Trump rolled back civil-service protections federal employees have enjoyed for a generation, making it easier to fire poor performers and change rules related to unions.
One order will limit the time federal employees can spend doing union business to no more than a quarter of their workday on “official time,” taking away a benefit granted by Congress four decades ago.
Firing based on performance will change a long-standing tradition of basing layoffs on seniority. The order will now require agencies to charge unions for space in federal buildings they now use for free.
WAPO reported it has now been more than two weeks since First lady Melania Trump was seen in public, prior to her kidney procedure. Melania was last seen on May 10. There has been no update on her health.
On Friday, a reporter asked Trump as he was boarding Marine One about Melania, and Trump pointed to a window in the White House residence, and said: “ She’s doing great. She’s looking at us right there.” She was not there.
On Tuesday, women of color, LGBTQ women, and women who have served in the military made historic firsts winning their Democratic primaries. Stacey Abrams of Georgia will have a shot to become the first black female governor.
The Center for American Women and Politics found in primaries so far, women make up more than 40% of House Democratic nominees, a record. Republican House women are down from prior years to under 10%.
The Senate, led by Amy Klobuchar and Roy Blunt, passed a long-stalled bill to overhaul how sexual harassment complaints are made and handled, and to make lawmakers pay settlements out of their own pockets.
On Friday, Harvey Weinstein, whose allegations of sexual assault were part of the start of the #MeToo movement, came handcuffed into a courtroom where he was charged with rape and sexual abuse.
Week 77 of this regime: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
May 5, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-77-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-f847ed1b1a87
Have we normalized that Trump lies to the American people? That was a central question after Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani publicly contradicted recent statements by Trump and the White House, saying Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen for a $130,000 payment to silence Stephanie Clifford, made days before the 2016 election. According to The Washington Post, Trump has told over 3,000 false or misleading statements since taking office.
This week we learned that Trump had himself dictated the medical letter used during his campaign, and as his White House doctor exited in disgrace, questions surfaced about access to accurate information about Trump’s health — another broken norm. This was another week plagued by resignations, attacks on our institutions and norms, and our values. The morning after Giuliani’s bombshell disclosure, Trump signed an executive order at the National Day of Prayer eliminating a boundary between religious groups and government.
Photo by Lois Brunet in Paris, France on May 3, 2018
for the second time,Trump skipped the White House Correspondents Dinner (WHCD). The last US leader to skip the dinner was Ronald Reagan, shortly after he was shot in an assassination attempt. Instead,
Trump held a rally in Washington Township, Michigan, delivering an 80-minute campaign-style speech, full of factually incorrect and dystopian statements, including, “We have the worst laws anywhere in the world,” and “We don’t have borders.” During his speech,
Trump asked, “Any Hispanics in the room?” The crowd booed, then Trump continued “Naw, not so many? That’s OK,” before repeating his demand for a border wall. Trump also continued
his attacks on Sen. Jon Tester: “I know things about the senator I can say, too. If I said them, he would never be elected again,” as well as attacks on James Comey: “He is a liar and a leaker.” On Sunday and Monday,
Trump attacked the WHCD, tweeting the dinner “is DEAD as we know it,” saying it “was a total disaster and an embarrassment to our great Country,” and, “FAKE NEWS is alive and well.” A tree
gifted to Trump by Macron last week, and planted together by the two men on the White House lawn, disappeared. The sapling was taken from the site of a World War One battle in north-east France, and Macron said should serve as reminder of “these ties that bind us”. On Monday,
WAPO reported Trump has made 3,001 false or misleading claims in the 466 days since he took office, averaging 6.5 claims a day. On Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria visited the White House. Both leaders tried to avoid conflict over Trump’s “shithole countries” comment.
Trump said, “You do have some countries that are in very bad shape and very tough places to live in.” Trump stirred controversy, saying, “We have had
very serious problems with Christians who are being murdered in Nigeria,” ignoring the deaths of Muslims. A Muslim rights groups claimed, Trump “is luring Nigerian Christians into bolder confrontation with Muslims”.
Intercept reported that since Trump took office, from January 2017 to November 2017, Muslim refugee admissions dropped by 94%, from 50% of all refugees to just 10%. Even while the Supreme Court considers Trump’s Travel Ban, the regime is taking other steps.
US embassies have been ordered to intensify their screening process to identify “populations warranting increased scrutiny.” Trump’s
Department of Homeland Security has explored surveillance software and social media screening that could be used to profile Muslims and other minorities. In February, the DHS established a National Vetting Center to identify terrorists and criminals, which has also sounded alarms about surveillance. Patrick Little,
an extremist who has called for the country to be “free from Jews,” and who is backed by David Duke and other far-right extremists, could be the Republican candidate who will face Sen. Dianne Feinstein in November.
Army Times reported the Army is investigating the 101st Airborne chaplains over allegations that without providing any reason, they ended Friday night Shabbat services for Jewish soldiers and their families. On Tuesday, despite
Trump’s vows to keep them out and calling up the National Guard, US officials started allowing in caravan members who are seeking asylum from brutal violence in countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, bowing to US and international law. On Wednesday,
Jeff Sessions said 35 assistant US attorneys and 18 immigration judges would be sent to the southern border to allow for more cases to be brought against illegal crossings and human smuggling. On Friday,
US border officers granted entry to the last 83 of the 288 caravan members. Concern grew that asylum seekers would be detained indefinitely, or that children would be separated from their parents. On Friday,
Trump’s DHS ended temporary protection status for 57,000 Hondurans in the US since 1999. This follows the regime ending protections for 200,000 Salvadorans, 50,000 Haitians, and 9,000 Nepalis. On Wednesday, at an event in Arizona,
Vice President Pence praised Sheriff Joe Arpaio as a “great friend” of Trump and a “tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law.” On Tuesday, Jacob Scott Goodwin, 23,
one of the white supremacists who viciously beat a black man in a parking garage in Charlottesville during last year’s “Unite the Right” rally, was found guilty of malicious wounding. On Wednesday, Iowa’s Republican controlled legislature fast-tracked a bill that
would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically around six weeks, sending what could be the nation’s most restrictive legislation to the governor. On Friday, in what the
Iowa Starting Line described as “A Dark Day in Iowa,” Governor Kim Reynolds signed the bill, banning nearly all abortions in Iowa.
AP reported after two Native American teen brothers visiting Colorado State University arrived 30 minutes late and joined for a campus tour underway, a parent called the campus police to report feeling “nervous” about their presence.
Campus police patted down the teens and released them only after they provided an email proving they had reserved spots on the tour. The school apologized to the boys’ family and issued a letter to the student body.
BuzzFeed reported Sessions’ Justice Department overhauled its manual for federal prosecutors: a section titled “Need for Free Press and Public Trial” was removed, as were references to the department’s work on racial gerrymandering. New sections include
Sessions’ focus on religious liberty and the Trump regime’s efforts to crack down on government leaks. Also added are admonishments not to share classified information and directing prosecutors to report contacts with the media. On Monday,
Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control, asked to have his salary reduced after Sen. Patty Murray sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, questioning why Redfield’s $375,000 annual compensation is more than double that of his predecessor. On Monday,
Reuters reported the Environmental Protection Agency granted Trump ally Carl Icahn’s company, CVR Energy, a waiver which will allow it to avoid tens of millions of dollars in costs related to the US Renewable Fuel Standard program.
Foreign Policy reported that 38 US ambassadorship positions remain unfilled by Trump, leaving the State Department to rely on lower-level officials to pick up the slack, even in embassies of strategic importance.
Unfilled US ambassadorships include hot spots and key allies such as South Korea, Turkey, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and the European Union. On Tuesday,
The Wichita Eagle reported that Kansas lawmakers abandoned a plan to force Kris Kobach to pay contempt of court charges out of his own pocket, meaning Kobach will be able to use state monies. On Tuesday,
California and 17 other states sued the Trump regime, saying Scott Pruitt’s EPA acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” in changing course on greenhouse gas regulations related to auto emissions. On Thursday, as the position of VA Secretary remained vacant and
now without a nominee from Trump, a key healthcare program, Veterans Choice Program, will run out of money in the coming weeks.
Michael Stoker, credited with coining the “Lock her up” chant, was nominated by Trump to lead the EPA’s San Francisco-based regional office, a long-open vacancy. The regime has struggled to find people interested in taking the appointment. On Sunday,
Politico reported Ronny Jackson will not return to his role as White House physician. On Monday, deputy press secretary
Raj Shah said, “Despite published reports, there are no personnel announcements at this time,” and that Jackson “is currently on active duty, assigned to the White House.” On Monday, CNN reported
Vice President Pence’s doctor alerted White House aides that Jackson may have violated federal privacy protections for Pence’s wife, Karen, and intimidated the doctor in confrontations about the violation last fall. On Friday,
Jennifer Pena, the White House physician assigned to Vice President Pence, resigned.
NBC News reported Trump’s former personal doctor for more than 35 years, Dr. Harold Bornstein, said his offices were raided by Keith Schiller, a Trump lawyer, and a third man in February 2017. At the time, Schiller was director of Oval Office operations at the White House. All medical records were removed.
The raid took place two days after Bornstein told a newspaper he had prescribed hair growth medicine for Trump. Bornstein said he felt “raped, frightened and sad.”
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On Tuesday, Bornstein told CNN that
Trump dictated the glowing letter he issued about Trump’s health, “(Trump) dictated the letter and I would tell him what he couldn’t put in there.” On Monday,
Thomas Homan, Trump’s nominee in November to lead ICE, said he would retire in June after a tumultuous tenure as the agency’s acting director. Homan never had a confirmation hearing. On Monday night,
Nino Perrotta, head of Pruitt’s security team who led his 24-hour detail, resigned. Perrotta is set to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. On Monday,
Albert Kelly, a top aide in charge of Superfund sites, also resigned. Kelly is a former banker from Oklahoma who was banned from the industry for life by the FDIC . Last week, lawmakers asked Pruitt to order Kelly to testify before their committee. On Thursday, Liz Bowman, the top public affairs official at the EPA, became
the third top EPA official to resign during the week. Sam Clovis, former co-chairman on the Trump campaign then nominated to and withdrew from a USDA undersecretary role by Trump,
resigned from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. On Friday,
two top FBI aides who worked alongside Comey resigned: James Baker and Lisa Page. Although they came the same day, their resignations were not related.
Baker was one of Comey’s closest confidants. Baker was the FBI’s top lawyer until December 2017, when he was reassigned by FBI director Christopher Wray. Baker has been investigated by the Justice Department on suspicion of sharing classified information with reporters.
Page advised Comey, while serving under his then deputy, Andrew McCabe. She advised FBI leadership on Comey’s decision to hold a news conference to announce the bureau was recommending Hillary Clinton face no charges. On Monday, Kevin Chmielewski, a whistleblower from the EPA told ABC News
Pruitt was “bold-faced” lying in his congressional hearing when he said no EPA employees faced retaliation for raising concerns about his spending decisions.
WAPO reported that shortly after he took office, Pruitt came up a list of at least a dozen countries he wanted to visit, and asked aides to help him find official reasons to travel to each. Pruitt then
recruited friends and political allies to help make the trips happen, raising ethical concerns. So far, Pruitt has travelled to Italy and Morocco, and canceled trips to Australia, Japan, and Israel. On Tuesday,
WAPO reported Richard Smotkin, a former Comcast lobbyist who has known Pruitt for years, helped arrange Pruitt’s controversial trip to Morocco in December 2017. Records obtained by
WAPO show the visit’s cost exceeded $100,000, more than twice what was previously reported. Pruitt was accompanied by eight staffers and his round-the-clock security detail. In April, Smotkin
won a $40,000-a-month contract, retroactive to January, with the Moroccan government to promote the kingdom’s interests. Smotkin registered recently as a foreign agent representing Morocco. On Thursday,
The Atlantic reported Michael Abboud, a member of Pruitt’s press team, shopped negative stories about Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to multiple outlets in order to divert attention away from Pruitt. CNN calculated that during Pruitt’s 2010 campaign for Oklahoma attorney general and 2014 re-election campaign,
he reimbursed himself for nearly $65,000 of expenses without proper documentation.
Politico reported Michael Roman, a longtime opposition researcher who served in the White House as a special assistant to Trump, resigned. Roman acted as a right-hand man to White House counsel Don McGahn. On Monday, the cover story for Trump ally David Pecker’s
,” with a subhead reading: “Payoffs and threats exposed.” National Enquirer targeted Michael Cohen, trumpeting, “Trump Fixer’s Secrets & Lies On Tuesday, CNN asked Cohen
whether he thought a message was being sent by the story’s publication, and he responded, “What do you think?” On Monday, ABC News reported that the
Trump campaign has spent nearly $228,000 to cover some of the legal defense expenses for Cohenbetween October 2017 and January 2018, possibly violating campaign finance laws. On Monday,
Stephanie Clifford filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump, alleging he attempted to tarnish her reputation by dismissing her account of a man who threatened her in 2011, tweeting the composite sketch was “a total con job.” On Wednesday,
the lawyer for Summer Zervos subpoenaed Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which owns archives of “The Apprentice,” and the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Zervos says Trump groped her, seeking records to prove that he defamed her. On Monday,
Sen. John McCain released a new book, saying Trump’s“reality show facsimile of toughness” matters more to him than the nation’s values, and comparing the actions of our government under Trump to “crimes of despotic ones.” On Monday,
hours before tariffs on steel and aluminum were scheduled to take effect against Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Brazi,l and the EU, the Trump regime announced it would hold off until at least June 1. Sen. Marco Rubio told the
Economist that the GOP tax law was a boon to big corporations only saying, “there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.” On Tuesday, former HHS Secretary Tom Price said at the World Health Care Congress that
the Republicans repeal of the individual mandate “will harm” people insured through Obamacare because of higher cost. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted the Obama Administration “has long been asking for three hostages to be released from a North Korean Labor camp, but to no avail.”
This is false. Two of the three were arrested after Trump took office.
The Guardian reported the government of Qatar bought a $6.5 million apartment in New York’s Trump World Tower on January 17, soon after an emoluments lawsuit was thrown out on December 21, 2017. On Thursday, AT&T and Time Warner said in a court filing said
they were the victims of differential treatment by the DOJ from other similar transactions. Trump’s DOJ has demanded they sell off networks including CNN. On Thursday,
ProPublica reported Jared Kushner’s ethics disclosure forms have been updated at least 40 times, most recently for misstating financials on two Brooklyn loans. For one of the Brooklyn projects,
215 Moore Street, BofI Federal Bank took over the mortgage, as the bank did for another Kushner Cos. project in New Jersey. BofI Federal Bank faced a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation last year. On Thursday, New York State Supreme Court Judge Eileen Bransten ruled that a condominium on the Upper West Side
could remove the bronze letters that spell T-R-U-M-P from the building. On Thursday,
House Chaplain Patrick Conroy rescinded his resignation and vowed to stay until the end of the year, saying in a letter that there was no just cause for him to be ousted from the position.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY February 2018
Speaker Paul Ryan reversed his position and said Conroy will remain. Ryan claimed his original rationale was questioning whether Conroy was delivering sufficient “pastoral services” to the entire House.
Trump’s delegation to Beijing left with scant progress in trade talks. China’s President Xi and Vice President Wang refused to meet with the US delegation which included Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Lighthizer. On Monday,
Paul Manafort asked a judge to investigate who is leaking nonpublic and possibly classified information about his case to the media, saying the leaks interfere with his right to a free trial and may violate grand jury secrecy rules. The
Atlantic reported the DCCC said it is pledging not to use “illegally stolen and hacked materials” against Republicans in any campaigns in the midterms. The NRCC has so far declined to match that commitment. On Monday,
NYT reported Mueller has 49 questions on an array of subjects he wants to ask Trump about his ties to Russia and to determine whether he obstructed the inquiry itself.
The questions chiefly deal with Trump’s firing of Comey and Michael Flynn, his treatment of Sessions, and the June 9 Trump Tower meeting. They also deal with Trump’s business dealings, including his knowledge of Cohen’s discussions on a Moscow deal. Questions also include
Jared’s attempt to set up back channel communications with Russia; whether Trump had contact with Roger Stone about the DNC hacking; and Trump’s 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant.
Mueller is also seeking information on what Trump knew about a potential pardon for Flynn, and what Trump knew about campaign aides, including the former chairman Manafort, reaching out for assistance from Moscow. In January, John Dowd gave Mueller written explanations for a short list of questions, but in early March, Mueller said he needed to interview Trump. When
Mueller’s team gave a revised longer list, it cemented Dowd’s view Trump should not sit for an interview. Dowd resigned shortly after. On Monday,
WAPO reported that members of the Trump-allied conservative House Freedom Caucus have drafted a one-page articles of impeachment against Rod Rosenstein. The draft relates to a
dispute with Rosenstein over requests for documents about the decisions and behavior of federal law enforcement in the Russia probe and other probes, including Hillary Clinton’s email server. On Tuesday,
Trump tweeted, “So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were “leaked” to the media. No questions on Collusion.” This is false. There were more than a dozen on collusion.
Trump also tweeted, “you have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information,” and “It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!” On Tuesday, at the Newseum, Rosenstein was asked about the draft articles of impeachments and responded, “
I think they should understand by now that the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.”
Rosenstein also said he would not comment on documents “that nobody has the courage to put their name on,” adding the threats would not change his behavior. On Wednesday, Trump joined the House conservatives,
tweeting the legal system was “rigged,” and threatening, “At some point I will have no choicebut to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!” On Wednesday, the
Justice Department denied a request by the House Freedom Caucus to view an unredacted version of the August memosigned by Rosenstein, saying turning over the memo would “threaten the integrity” of Mueller investigation. On Tuesday,
WAPO reported on a tense March 5 meeting, at which Trump’s lawyers told Mueller that Trump had no obligation to speak with federal investigators, and Mueller responded he could subpoena Trump to appear before a grand jury.
This was the first mention of a subpoena. Dowd reportedly responded, “This isn’t some game. You are screwing with the work of the president of the United States.” After the meeting, Mueller’s team agreed to provide more information about the subjects prosecutors wanted to discuss with Trump,
from which Jay Sekulow compiled a list of 49 questions he believed Trump would be asked. On Tuesday, the special counsel office and Flynn
agreed to delay Flynn’s sentencing for another 60 days, on top of the original 90 days extension, saying the delay was necessary “due to the status” of the investigation. On Tuesday,
Jill Stein said her campaign would only provide some of the documents requested by the Senate Intelligence Committee about her campaign’s contact with Russians, saying the request was too broad. On Wednesday, Trump hired Emmet Flood, who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment,
signaling Trump advisers do not see the Mueller probe ending soon, and are worried about Democrats taking control of the House in November. Flood also worked for George W. Bush to fend off congressional investigators. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “Emmet Flood will be joining the
White House staff to represent the president and the administration against the Russia witch hunt.” Flood will
replace Ty Cobb who had tried to convince Trump that cooperating would bring the Mueller probe to an end. Flood is expected to take a much more adversarial approach. On Wednesday, former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo slammed the Senate Intelligence Committee for its
Russia probe which he said had cost him $125,000 in legal fees and is forcing him to relocate to pay off legal fees. On Wednesday,
NYT reported while Manafort faces US charges for money laundering and financial fraud related to his work in Ukraine, in Ukraine, four cases against him have been effectively frozen. The decision to halt the investigations was handed down to an anti-corruption prosecutor, and
coincided with the Trump regime finalizing plans to sell Ukraine sophisticated anti-tank missiles. Additionally, Ukrainian law enforcement
allowed a possible witness of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to leave for Russia. Ukrainian politicians have reportedly concluded that any help prosecuting Manafort could bring down Mr. Trump’s wrath.
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NYT reported the Russian oligarch who was reported in Week 73 to be stopped by Mueller’s team as he stepped off his private plane when it landed at a New York area airport was Viktor Vekselberg. Federal agents questioned Vekselberg and searched his electronic devices.
Vekselberg attended Trump’s inauguration, as well as the 2015 in Russia where Michael Flynn and Jill Stein sat at Putin’s table. RT dinner
Vekselberg controls a company that has been the largest single shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus. At the time Vekselberg’s company was making the investment, Wilbur Ross was its vice chairman.
Vekselberg, a native of Ukraine, is believed to have a favorable relation with Putin, and is one of the Russian oligarchs on the recent sanction list. He also has long-running business ties to the US. On Friday, the House Intelligence Committee released a newly unredacted section of its final Russia report detailing testimony from Comey and McCabe. Per the report,
McCabe said the two agents who interviewed Michael Flynn “didn’t think he was lying.” On Friday, CNN reported that Rep. Devin Nunes, after months of demanding an
unredacted version of a document from the Justice Department explaining how the Russia investigation began in 2016, has not read the document. On Wednesday, on Fox News’ “Hannity,” Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani gave a wide-ranging interview.
Giuliani revealed Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford, contradicting recent prior statement by both Trump and the White House.
Giuliani told Hannity the $130,000 reimbursement “is going to turn out to be perfectly legal. That money was not campaign money,” adding they “funneled it through a law firm and the president repaid it.” Later in the interview,
Giuliani said Trump “didn’t know about the specifics of [the payment] as far as I know,” but Trump “did know about the general arrangement that Michael would take care of things like this.” Also in the interview,
Giuliani said Trump fired Comey because “Comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn’t a target of the investigation.”
Giuliani attacked Comey, saying he should be prosecuted and calling him a “disgraceful liar” and a “very perverted man,” and said, “every FBI agent in America has his head down because of you.” Giuliani called
Hillary “a criminal,” saying, “she should go to jail. I do not know why the Justice Department is not investigating her,” adding, “Comey fixed the whole case.”
Giuliani however warned Mueller to not go after Ivanka, “Ivanka Trump? I think I would get on my charger and go ride into their offices with a lance,” adding “If they go after her, the whole country will turn on them. When asked about Jared, who has testified in the Mueller probe,
Giuliani said, Giuliani called him a “fine man,” but said, “men are disposable.” Giuliani said of the
Mueller probe, “This has become a witch hunt like the president said. And if you look at the questions that are being asked, they’re trap questions. A first-year prosecutor would do better than that.” Giuliani attacked the Department of Justice, saying the department under
Sessions is “completely unhinged and out of control. It breaks my heart” adding on Trump’s view of Sessions: he “isn’t that he’s angry, he’s heartbroken. He never expected this from Jeff. After attacking both Sessions and Rosenstein, Giuliani said, “The two of them can redeem themselves…
They should order the investigation over,” adding “the whole investigation was totally unnecessary.” Giuliani also referred to the
FBI agents who searched Cohen’s home, office and hotel room as “storm troopers.” Late Wednesday, Giuliani told the
WSJ that Trump authorized him to announce the reimbursement after a discussion last week, saying Trump told him he was “very pleased…We finally got our side of the story.” Late Wednesday, Giuliani told
BuzzFeed that Cohen “had complained to some people” after the 2016 election that he’d not been fully paid by Trump. Cohen later reportedly met with Trump about the matter. According to Giuliani,
Trump told Cohen, “We’ll cover your expenses,” and agreed to pay him $35,000 a month “out of his personal funds” over the course of a year-long period that began in the first few months of 2017. On Wednesday,
Caputo told CNN about being interviewed in the Mueller probe: “they are still really focused on Russia collusion. They know more about the Trump campaign than anyone who ever worked there.” Caputo also said of the Mueller probe, “The Senate and the House are net fishing.
The special counsel is spearfishing. They know what they are aiming at and are deadly accurate.” On Thursday, Trump, in a series of tweets,
acknowledged the payment to Stephanie Clifford, saying a non-disclosure agreement was “used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair.”
Contrary to his prior statement that he knew nothing of the payment, Trump tweeted these agreements are “very common among celebrities and people of wealth,” adding he “played no roll in this transaction” — misspelling the word “role.” Trump also tweeted
Cohen “received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign,” adding “money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction.” Shortly after,
George Conway, husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, tweeted out a section of the campaign finance lawwhich indicates the payment would be subject to the law, and should have been reported. On Thursday, at the National Day of Prayer,
Trump announced an executive order which would establish a new faith-based office to expand government grants to and partnerships with religiously-affiliated groups. At the ceremony,
Trump said he was responsible for people saying “Merry Christmas” more, and people talking more openly about prayer. Since Trump took office, the position of director of the White House faith-based office has been vacant.
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Trump has expanded White House access for conservative Christians — evangelicals, in particular, and also Catholics who are alarmed by the issues like gay rights, and seek to promote conservative religious rights. On Thursday, Giuliani appeared on “Fox & Friends,” saying
Trump didn’t know the details of the payment to Clifford, “$135,000 seems like a lot of money. It’s not when you are putting $100 million into your campaign.” Giuliani said the payment was not political for Trump,
saying Trump “had been hurt personally — not politically, personally — and the first lady by some of the false allegations, that one more false allegation, six years old.” Giuliani said
politics was behind the payment by Cohen, “Imagine if that came out on Oct. 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton … Cohen didn’t even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.” On Thursday, Mueller’s team
requested an additional 70 blank subpoenas ahead of their trial against Manafort in Alexandria, Virginia, where Manafort faces several charges, including bank fraud. On Thursday,
WAPO reported that McGahn, John Kelly, Sanders, and Flood were not aware of Giuliani’s strategy, or did they know that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 paid to Stephanie Clifford.
The shifting story left Trump’s White House in turmoil again. WAPO noted, “It has become standard operating procedure for Trump and his aides to deceive the public with false statements and shifting accounts.” Giuliani told
WAPO he discussed the issue with Trump a few days ago and claimed they agreed to get in front of the narrative by releasing the story publicly: “I saw the opportunity, I was going to get this over with.”
Stephen Ryan, Cohen’s attorney, has been aware of the payment for weeks or months, but didn’t share it because Cohen did not want to appear to be contradicting Trump’s denial in early April. On Thursday, NBC News reported
Cohen’s phones were being wiretapped by federal investigators. The story was later corrected. On Thursday, when asked for his reaction, Giuliani told
The Hill of the federal investigators in the Cohen case that Sessions should “step in, in his role as defender of justice, and put these people under investigation.” Later Thursday, NBC News
corrected their earlier reporting, saying Cohen’s phone logs were being monitored, not wiretapped where investigators listen in. At least one phone call between Cohen and the White House was logged.
The monitoring of Cohen’s phones was in place in the weeks leading up to the raids on Cohen’s offices, hotel room and home. It is not yet known when the monitoring was originally authorized. On Friday,
Trump slammed NBC News, tweeting “NBC NEWS is wrong again!” adding “They cite “sources” which are constantly wrong….they are fabricated, fiction!” and saying, “now as bad as Fake News CNN. Sad!” On Friday, Giuliani told NBC News in a telephone interview that
Trump wasn’t aware of the payment to Clifford until recently, saying Trump responded, “Oh my goodness, I guess that’s what it was for.” Giuliani said Trump was subsequently on board with the decision to go public, saying, “
You’re not going to see daylight between the president and me. We’re going to work hard to have a consistent strategy.” On Friday, Trump told reporters
Giuliani needed more time to “get his facts straight,” adding “virtually everything said has been said incorrectly,” and noting Giuliani “just started a day ago.” On Friday,
Giuliani released a cryptic statement clarifying his remarks and trying to walk back his claim Trump had repaid Cohen, saying, “My references to timing were…my understanding of these matters.” On Friday,
WAPO reported that press secretary Sanders has told colleagues the Giuliani interview left her in an untenable position. The interview was the first she heard of Trump reimbursing Cohen.
Sanders responded to reporters, “I’ve given the best information I had at the time,” six times when pressed with questions, also answering, “Some information I am aware of, and some I’m not.” Sanders does not have the personal access to Trump that Hope Hicks enjoyed. Although combative with reporters in public,
Sanders is largely regarded as more pleasant and helpful behind the scenes. On Friday,
NYT reported Trump had known about the payment to silence Stephanie Clifford at least several months before he told reporters aboard Air Force One that he had no knowledge of it. On Friday,
WSJ reported according to public records, Cohen gained access to as much as $774,000 through two financial transactions during the 2016 presidential campaign. Giuliani said this week Cohen had resolved problems for Trump beyond Clifford.
Cohen gained access to $529,000 through a new mortgage cosigned by him and his wife on a condominium owned by her parents at Trump World Tower and an additional $245,000 by nearly doubled the amount he could borrow under his bank credit line tied to his Manhattan apartment.
Federal investigators are examining whether Cohen committed bank fraudby making false statements inflating the value of his assets to obtain loans or by misstating the intended purpose of the loans.
Giuliani said this week that Trump had reimbursed Cohen for the Clifford payment through a $35,000-a-month retainer. On Friday, Giuliani said Trump would have done this whether he was running for office or not.
Dallas Morning News reported guns will be banned for appearances by both Pence and Trump at the upcoming National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas. On Friday, at the NRA convention,
Pence urged state and local leaders to allow qualified school personnel to carry concealed firearms, saying,“The quickest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” On Air Force One on the way to the convention,
Trump told reporters the NRA is a “great organization that loves this country.” Trump also said he has a “record crowd” attending the convention. Trump went off script
to ridicule former Secretary of State John Kerry : “not the best negotiator we’ve ever seen. He never walked away from the table except to be in that bicycle race where he fell and broke his leg. On Wednesday,
18 House Republicans and five running for Congress nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to get North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear weapons program. On Friday, federal judge T.S. Ellis expressed skepticism about Mueller team’s bank fraud case against Manafort,
saying prosecutors’ interest in Manafort was to provide material that would lead to Trump’s “prosecution or impeachment.” Ellis repeated this suspicion several times, and suggested the charges brought by Mueller’s team in Virginia were
designed to pressure Manafort into giving information on Trump or others in the campaign. Ellis mimicked a prosecutor, saying
they weren’t interested in material that didn’t “further our core effort to get Trump” — saying that is why they moved the Cohen case to New York, but kept the Manafort case in Virginia. Ellis ordered Mueller’s prosecutors
to turn over a full, unredacted version of Rosenstein’s August 2 memo which describes the criminal allegations Mueller’s team can investigate, under seal, in two weeks. On Friday, at the NRA convention,
Trump held up the CNN article. As the crowd booed, Trump said, “they have a headline: ‘Judge in Manafort case says Mueller’s aim is to hurt Trump,’” adding “It’s called the witch hunt.” On Friday,
Trump threatened another immigration fight on the upcoming spending bill, saying at the NRA convention, and repeating a mantra from his campaign speech, “They’re not sending their finest, that I can tell you.” On Friday,
Trump reiterated his battle call on immigration, tweeting, “We are going to demand Congress secure the border in the upcoming CR. Illegal immigration must end!”
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Week 76 of this dysfunctional regime: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
April 28, 2018
In some ways this week felt normal as leaders of France and Germany visited the White House, and the leaders of North and South Korea met for a historic summit and spoke of the denuclearizing the peninsula. In the days Macron was in America, the country seemed relatively calm with less news breaking and Trump refraining from his typical banter and tweets.
But beneath the veneer, Amid the firing and attempted nominations of top officials, Trump continues to unilaterally pick from a small circle of unqualified sycophants. This week the the dysfunction and chaos of the Trump regime continued. As the week ended, the country endured country was shocked when Speaker Ryan fired the House chaplain for speaking up for the less fortunate — symbolic for Republicans in the era of Trump who have joined in the weekly attacks on “the others” and those who would advocate for them. another fallen norm: a functional House Intelligence Committee.
Photo by Paul Hehn in Portland, Oregon this week.
The National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group, held a rally in Draketown, Georgia on Saturday. Approximately two dozen people participated in the event, which included burning swastikas 12–18 feet high.
On Saturday, Trump said he is considering a posthumous pardon for boxer Jack Johnson at the request of Sylvester Stallone, tweeting of Johnson, “His trials and tribulations were great…I am considering a Full Pardon!”
On Sunday, Trump quoted Fox News, tweeting: “GOP Lawmakers asking Sessions to Investigate Comey and Hillary Clinton,” and adding, “Good luck with that request!”
On Sunday, after Chuck Todd’s show, “Meet the Press,” Trump referred to Todd in a tweet, for a second time, as “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd.” It was noted on social media that “sleepy-eyes” has been used as an anti-Semitic slur.
On Monday, Trump quoted Kim Strassel, a WSJ opinion writer, tweeting, “after reviewing the dumb Comey Memos, ‘you got to ask, what was the purpose of the Special Counsel?’”adding “there’s no there there.’”
Trump also tweeted, “Dan Henninger of the WSJ said Memos would show that this would be one of the weakest obstruction cases ever brought!”
The Trump regime is challenging Native Americans’ historic standing, saying the tribes are a race rather than a separate government, and therefore should not be exempt from Medicaid work requirements.
New York City police searched for man wearing a ‘ Make America Great Again’ hat and t-shirt who made derogatory statements to a 24-year-old Hispanic man and then physically assaulted him on a Manhattan subway.
The co-owner of Grandview Golf Club in Pennsylvania and his son called the police to complain that a group of black women were playing too slowly and refused to leave the course.
The five women golfers, who call themselves Sisters in the Fairway, have been around for over a decade, have golfed around the country and world, and are very familiar with golf etiquette. The golf club apologized.
A senior at Riverview High School in Sarasota, Florida asked a girl to the prom by holding up a sign which read, “If I was black I’d be picking cotton, but I’m white so I’m picking u 4 Prom?”
A newly released report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) found the Trump regime has shown an “unprecedented level of government hostility” towards Muslims.
Of the nearly 2,599 reports of anti-Muslim incidents CAIR received, about 35% involved a government agency. Customs and Border Patrol accounted for 348 of the reported incidents (38% of government agency reports).
On Tuesday, a DC federal judge called the Trump regime’s decision to end the DACA program “virtually unexplained” and therefore “unlawful,” becoming the third judge to rule against the regime’s decision to rescind DACA.
The judge found the decision to phase out the program starting in March “was arbitrary and capricious.” The judge ordered the Trump regime to continue the Obama-era program and re-open it to new applicants.
On Friday, Oklahoma’s House of Representatives approved a measure that would allow adoption and foster care agencies to reject same-sex couples on religious grounds.
A new in-depth study released by University of Pennsylvania political scientist Diana Mutz examining data from 2012 to 2016 revealed a growing body of evidence that the 2016 election was not about economic hardship.
Mutz found “ dominant groups that felt threatened by change” voted for Trump and he took advantage of the trend. Mutz noted “For the first time since Europeans arrived in this country,” white Americans are told they will become the minority race.
BuzzFeed reported a TV-station owned by Sinclair Broadcasting fired reporter Suri Crowe after she clashed with station management over refusing to seed doubt about man-made climate change.
Politico reported US colleges are blaming Trump’s immigration policies as for a second year, fewer international students are applying, while countries such as Australia, Canada, Spain and Japan are seeing a spike.
Intercept reported the US Border Patrol has faked statistics to make it appear there was a dramatic increase in assault on agents, up 73% from 2016 to 2017, when in reality, the number of assaults was down.
The Border Patrol has made up cases, like the death of Agent Rogelio Martinez which the FBI ruled was death caused by a fall. The calculation methodology has also changed, so each attack is multiplied agents by number of attacks by number of objects.
On Saturday, NYT reported contrary to Scott Pruitt’s previous statements, he did meet with J. Steven Hart, co-owner of the condominium he rented. The meeting was set up on behalf of an executive associated with Smithfield Foods in 2017.
On Saturday, NYT reported Pruitt’s fancy Oklahoma City home, worth well more than his modest salary could afford, was purchased alongside law school friend, Kenneth Wagner, who now has a top political job at the EPA.
Mortgage financing for the home was provided by a local bank led by Albert Kelly, another business associate of Pruitt. Kelly is now a top aide to Pruitt in the EPA, and runs the agency’s Superfund program.
A school in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where Betsy DeVos suggested teachers needed to be armed to protect children from grizzly bears, voted to arm school employees,who would need at least 24 hours of initial firearms training.
ProPublica reported Devos’ Education Department is considering rolling back Obama-era guidelines which address racial discrimination in school discipline: black students are almost four times as likely to receive an out-of-school suspension.
Devos’ department has already closed 65 discrimination cases without any mandated reform. Hans Bader, an attorney adviser to DeVos, has accused the Obama administration of using disparate impact to create “racial quotas.”
On Tuesday, Pruitt’s EPA proposed a rule that would limit the kinds of scientific research it can use in crafting regulations. The rule would exclude research based on confidential medical and industry data.
Pruitt claimed the measure was a way to boost transparency for the industries the EPA regulates. Experts say the rule is a boon to big business which has long requested this change.
On Tuesday, Mick Mulvaney, director of the OMB and acting director of the CFPB, told 1,300 bankers at an American Bankers Association conference in Washington that when he was in Congress, he would only meet with lobbyists who had contributed to his campaign.
Mulvaney also told the bankers about his plans to reduce the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s power, including cutting public access to the bureau’s database of consumer complaints.
On Wednesday, HUD Secretary Ben Carson proposed far-reaching changes to federal housing subsidies aimed at low-income Americans receiving federal assistance.
Carson’s proposal, part of what the regime has dubbed “ Welfare Reform 2.0,” would triple rent for the poorest households and make it easier for housing authorities to impose work requirements.
HuffPost obtained a draft copy of Jeff Session’s Justice Department’s five-year strategic plan which includes cracking down on undocumented immigrants and security leaks, focusing on campus speech issues, and targeting the MS-13 gang.
Absent from Sessions’ DOJ strategic plan were items focused on during the Obama administration, including civil rights enforcement and criminal justice reform.
According to annual data published Wednesday by US Courts, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court denied more surveillance orders during Trump’s first year than in the court’s 40-year history.
On Sunday, Axios reported there is increasing concern in the White House that Ronny Jackson, Trump nominee for VA secretary, will not get confirmed. Jackson faces skepticism from senators of both parties.
On Monday, when asked about Mike Pompeo’s nomination, press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News that “Democrats have to decide whether they love this country more than they hate” Trump.
On Monday, in a letter to the Senate, 109 retired generals and admirals said they were “deeply troubled” by Trump’s pick of Gina Haspel for CIA director, citing her links to a former US torture program.
On Monday, Trump expressed frustration over the confirmation of his nominees, tweeting “Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against” Pompeo, adding, “The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people.”
Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, has also been held up as Democrats, citing his history of misogynistic statements online and his dismissiveness about Russia meddling in the US election.
Trump nominee Stuart Kyle Duncan was confirmed to the US Fifth Circuit Court, 50–47. Duncan has a disturbing record of anti-LGBTQ advocacy, and has fought his entire career against abortion and voting rights.
On Tuesday, allegations against Jackson publicly surfaced, including drinking while on duty, creating a hostile workplace, and improperlyhanding out prescriptions to staff during trips.
On Tuesday, at a joint news conference with French President Macron, Trump suggested Jackson should drop out, “I said to Dr. Jackson, what do you need it for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians? . . . If I was him . . . I wouldn’t do it.”
On Tuesday, Sen. Jon Tester, ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, told NPR that 20 active duty or former military members had come forward with allegations against Jackson.
On Tuesday, CNN reported that during an overseas trip in 2015, when Jackson was the White House physician, he was intoxicated and banged on the hotel room door of a female employee.
On Wednesday, WAPO reported Jackson has grown frustrated and told colleagues he may withdraw. Later that day, Democrats released a document summarizing interviews of 23 of Jackson’s current and former colleagues alleging professional misconduct.
The reported cites Jackson provided “a large supply” of Percocet to a White House military official that left his staff scrambling to account for the missing drugs, and that Jackson got intoxicated and “wrecked a government vehicle.” Jackson denied all allegations.
On Thursday, Washington Examiner reported more than a half-dozen veterans groups expressed frustration, saying they were never contactedby the White House or VA officials in the lead up to Jackson’s nomination.
Photo by Paul Hehn in Portland, Oregon this week.
On Thursday, Jackson withdrew from consideration for VA nominee, thanking Trump and saying in a statement, “ I did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity.”
On Thursday, Pruitt testified before two House committees about controversial spending and management decisions while heading the EPA. Pruitt accused critics of attacking him in order to derail Trump’s agenda.
Pruitt defended himself on spending, claiming “I was not aware of the amount,” and “I was not aware of the approval,” and said there was “no truth” to charges of retaliation and didn’t recall related conversations.
Pruitt told Congress allegations against him are “fiction,” “lies,” and “half-truths.” He is the subject of at least five investigations into his conduct by agency watchdogs.
On Thursday, after the hearing, California’s AG Xavier Becerra said Pruitt violated impartiality requirements in the rulemaking process over his refusal to recuse himself from the process of repealing a landmark power plant rule.
In his previous job as Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA more than a dozen times to block the Clean Power Plan. Eight other states and the District of Columbia joined Becerra in his letter.
Bryan Rice resigned just six months after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appointed him to lead the Bureau of Indian Affairs, following a negative inspector general report on the reassignment of dozens of senior staff.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is part of the Interior Department and has 8,000 employees and a $2.5 billion annual budget, and handles government relations with more than 500 federally-recognized tribes.
On Thursday, WAPO reported a timeline provided by the FBI to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee revealed Don McGahn first received “derogatory information” about Rob Porter in March 2017.
McGahn has said he was not aware of allegations against Porter until just before they became public, which happened in February 2018. The White House has given shifting stories about what they knew and when.
Also at his joint news conference with Macron Tuesday, Trump brushed a speck of dandruff off Macron’s shoulder, remarking he needed to look “perfect.” Trump also said the US special relationship with France is not “fake news.”
On Wednesday, Macron addressed a joint meeting of the US Congress. Macron criticized Trump’s isolationist principles, and said the US participation in the global community is vital.
Macron was critical of Trump’s opposition to the Paris climate accord — calling for the US to “make our planet great again,” and said Trump’s attacks on international trade agreements was short-sighted.
Macron got a standing ovation when he said we must “protect our democracies” against “ the ever-growing virus of fake news, which exposes our people to irrational fear and imaginary risks.”
On Monday, Robert Mueller’s team defended the search of Paul Manafort’s storage locker, stating prosecutors had the cooperation of an assistant to Manafort, Alexander Trusko, to gain access before the court-ordered search.
CNN reported Trump has been ramping up usage of his personal cell phone to contact outside adviser recently. Sources said that Trump has also used his cell phone for direct outreach to GOP lawmakers.
Experts say Trump’s cell phone usage makes his communications vulnerable to eavesdropping from foreign governments. Also, Trump’s private calls will not be captured for government accountability and history.
Sources say Trump’s cell phone use is also an indication of John Kelly’s waning influence. Corey Lewandowski reportedly bragged of unfettered access, and John Bolton and Larry Kudlow are direct reports to Trump, bypassing Kelly.
On Monday, Bloomberg reported that despite the excuse Trump gave to James Comey, per the Comey memos, that he never spent an overnight in Russia as denial for salacious reports in the dossier about his trip to the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. This is not true.
Flight records obtained, combined with Trump’s social-media posts, show Trump’s jet landed on a Friday, and left pre-dawn on Sunday. Vnukovo airport, where Trump landed, is less than an hour from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
On Tuesday, Daily Beast reported that Thomas Roberts, a former NBC anchor and host of the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, confirmed that Trump did stay overnight in Moscow.
On Thursday, Trump denied he told Comey that he didn’t stay overnight in Moscow, telling “Fox & Friends,” “Of course I stayed there.” Trump added Comey “ didn’t write those memos accurately. He put a lot of phony stuff.”
On Tuesday, TPM reported Comey brought on former US attorney Pat Fitzgerald to represent him as a potential witness in the Mueller probe. Fitzgerald told TPM he has been representing Comey since 2017.
In 2003, when Comey was deputy attorney general, he selected Fitzgerald to run the special counsel to investigate Scooter Libby for disclosure of a CIA employee’s identity. In Week 74, Trump pardoned Libby.
On Tuesday, Christopher Wylie, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, provided a closed-door briefing to the House Judiciary Committee on how the company obtained data on tens of millions of Facebook users.
Not a single Republican on the committee attended the briefing. Wylie told reporters after that he hopes Congress will investigate whether the company, which worked for the Trump campaign, broke US law.
Rev. Patrick Conroy, the 60th Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives, said in a letter that he was fired by Speaker Paul Ryan because of a prayer he offered about the GOP tax bill.
In his speech, Rev. Conroy told House members to “be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle.”
Rev. Conroy told the NYT, “A staffer came down and said, We are upset with this prayer; you are getting too political.” Representatives of both sides expressed outrage about the firing.
In a special election Tuesday, the GOP won an open Congressional seat in Arizona by just 6 points after winning the seat by 37 points in 2016. This follows a trend of Republicans losing support since Trump took office.
On Wednesday, former Sen. Harry Reid broke his silence in an interview with NBC News, saying he is worried US institutions have been “decimated” under Trump, and blaming Republicans for being lax on Russian meddling.
Reid said Trump, Comey, and the Koch brothers are all responsible for the American people not knowing earlier about Russian interference in the US election. Reid said Republicans are scared of the Koch brothers.
On Wednesday, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Sheldon Whitehouse asked eight banks, including Deutsche Bank, for details about accounts, assets or services the banks provided to any of the 96 Russian oligarchs identified by the Treasury Department to have ties to Putin.
On Wednesday, WAPO reported Rudy Giuliani met with Mueller Tuesday to reopen negotiations on the special counsel interviewing Trump. Giuliani conveyed the ongoing resistance of Trump and his advisers to an interview.
Giuliani pressed for clarity on when the probe would wrap up. Mueller reportedly said he is seeking to question Trump about steps he took during the transition and early months of his regime
Vanity Fair reported that, according to sources, Giuliani was the best Trump could do given all better-qualified white-collar defense lawyers who said no. Trump views Giuliani as a marquee name and a vocal advocate.
Trump’s former lead lawyer, John Dowd, said of Giuliani, “I haven’t talked to him yet…I’m not aware of him ever defending a case.” Sources also noted Giuliani was formerly the AG of the Southern District of New York, the jurisdiction where Michael Cohen’s case is being tried.
Mueller also reiterated that an interview is essential for investigators to understand Trump’s intent in making key decisions as they seek to wrap up their investigation of possible obstruction of justice.
On Wednesday, CNN reported dozens of the Russian diplomats expelled last month were suspected spies, believed to have been tracking Russian defectors and their families who had resettled in the US.
That and other US intelligence has raised concerns that Russia was seeking to target Russian émigrés viewed as traitors or enemies of the Kremlin, similar to the former Russian spy and his daughter in the UK.
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 14–7 to advance legislation that would protect Mueller. Committee chair Chuck Grassley said he is working to change Mitch McConnell’s position of not bringing a bill to the floor.
The committee’s legislation would delay any action to fire a special counsel by 10 days, and guarantee the ousted special counsel a chance to have three federal judges swiftly review the decision.
Grassley added an amendment which was adopted by the panel which would require that Congress be notified 30 days in advance of any special counsel being terminated. Four Republicans voted along with Democrats.
On Thursday, a House Judiciary Committee hearing headlined by pro-Trump video-bloggers Diamond and Silk, Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, devolved into yelling and partisan bickering, with the two claiming, “We’ve been censored.”
On Thursday, hours before the hearing on his “Fox & Friends” interview, Trump praised Diamond and Silk as “amazing … beautiful, wonderful women,” and called them “warriors.”
The two said under oath that they weren’t paid. FEC filings reveal the Trump campaign paid the duo $1,275 on November 22, 2016. Richardson called the figures “ fake news.”
On Friday, a federal court in Washington threw out a civil lawsuit by Manafort which challenged Mueller’s authority in the Russia investigation. Manafort’s attorneys also filed lawsuits to dismiss two criminal cases against him.
On Friday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a 250 page-long report on its findings. Partisan bickering led to a total breakdown of the committee, as Devin Nunes re-seized control after being recused months prior.
While the majority report is critical of Russia for meddling in the election, the report questions the Intelligence Committee’s conclusion that the Kremlin wanted Trump to win.
The majority report also accuses the FBI of “significant intelligence tradecraft failings,” echoing charges by Trump that the bureau is inept, biased, and corrupt. The report is also full of strange redactions.
The majority report downplays the outreach of Alexander Nix, then CEO of Cambridge Analytica, to Wikileaks, but found the Trump campaign’s outreach, “highly objectionable and inconsistent with U.S. national security interests.”
Among the revelation in the majority report are that Michael Flynn and his son went to the home of Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak for a private meeting before traveling to Russia in 2015 for a dinner hosted by RT.
The majority report said none of the evidence from testimony pointed to collusion. Democrats cited the uncooperative central witnesses who were not called to task, as well as the 30 plus witnesses they were unable to call.
Trump immediately praised the report, tweeting, “Just Out:…“No evidence” that the Trump Campaign “colluded, coordinated or conspired with Russia.” Clinton Campaign paid for Opposition Research obtained from Russia- Wow! A total Witch Hunt! MUST END NOW!”
On Friday, the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released a report called “Minority View,” citing, “the Committee’s Majority has shattered its commitment by rushing to end its investigation prematurely.”
The Democrat’s report also claims Republicans “ failed to meet the mandate given to the HPSCI” and “engaged in a systematic effort to muddy the waters, and to deflect attention” away from Trump.
Among the revelations in the minority report is that the Agalarovs and Trumps have a relationship dating back to 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and were in regular contact before and after the Trump Tower meeting.
The minority report also points to a strong possibility that Trump himself was communicating with Donald Jr. as he worked to schedule the June 9 Trump Tower meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya.
On Friday, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said House Democrats will continue to investigate alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
On Friday, in an interview with NBC News, Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya acknowledged she was not just a private lawyer, but also a source of information for top Kremlin official, Yuri Chaika, the prosecutor general.
Veselnitskaya has maintained until now that she met with Donald Jr., Jared Kushner, and Manafort on June 9 at Trump Tower in a private capacity, not as a representative of the Russian government.
On Friday, as Trump met with German Chancellor Merkel in the Oval Office, he told reporters, “No collusion…No coordination, no nothing,” adding he was “very honored by the report. It was totally conclusive. Strong. Powerful.”
Trump did remember to shake Merkel’s hand this year, telling reporters, “we actually have had a great relationship right from the beginning,” adding later, “We need a reciprocal relationship, which we don’t have.”
At a joint news conference, Merkel looked perplexed as Trump rambled on about the withdrawal of Ronny Jackson, saying Washington DC can be a “very mean place” and people an be fired “as fast as they fire people in Germany.”
Late Friday evening, Trump again tweeted about the report, after deleting a tweet with a misspelling, calling the investigation a “big Hoax” and “Witch Hunt,” and saying “There should never have been a Special Counsel appointed.”
On Friday, CNN reported the NRA is gathering up documents related to its interactions with the Kremlin-linked banker Alexander Torshin ahead of a possible Congressional investigation.
On Wednesday, Cohen invoked his Fifth Amendment right in federal court in a lawsuit brought by Stephanie Clifford, citing an “ongoing criminal investigation” by the FBI and US Attorney for the SDNY.
In letters to the court filed Wednesday, lawyers for Cohen, Trump, and the Trump Organization asked to review documents seized from Cohen in the FBI raid, adding Trump himself would be available for the review process.
On Thursday, US District Judge Kimba Wood appointed Barbara Jones as special-master to review materials seized from Cohen and determine if they include confidential communications between him and his legal clients, including Trump.
Jones served as a federal judge for 16 years in the SDNY, and was the first woman to lead a federal organized crime task force.
By Teachr1 in Los Angeles, CA – April 7, 2018
On Thursday, New York Post reported feds seized as many as 16 cell phones in the raid of Cohen’s office and hotel room, including two BlackBerrys, suggesting Cohen has been holding on to his devices for many years.
On Thursday, WSJ reported on the relationship between Cohen and Trump, and how hurt Cohen was about Trump leaving him behind in New York after moving to the White House.
Cohen believed he would get a key role, either as a campaign manager after Manafort left, or as chief of staff after Reince Priebus departed. Cohen reportedly told Trump, “Boss, I miss you so much.”
Trump reportedly said of why he didn’t bring Cohen to Washington DC, he’s like a “bull in a china shop,” who when brought in to fix a problem sometimes breaks more china.
Trump has been mean to Cohen in the past, including showing up late for Cohen’s son’s bar mitzvah speech and telling guests he only came after Cohen had repeatedly called him, his secretary, and his children begging him to appear.
Cohen was even kept on the outside at Trump’s inauguration festivities: he and his guests were not given priority access, and Cohen was very hurt. Questions remain as to whether Cohen will remain loyal to Trump.
Since the FBI raid, Cohen has been frequently been seen out on the town at fancy restaurants with friends, smoking cigars, which may be interpreted as an attempt to show he is not frightened by the investigation.
WSJ also reported that privately Cohen has begun complaining to associates, both about being left in New York and about Trump’s failure to repay him for the $130,000 he had drawn off his home-equity line to pay Clifford.
On Thursday, in a rambling 30-minute interview with “Fox & Friends,” Trump said Cohen represented him in silencing Stephanie Clifford: “Michael represents me, like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me,”
In Week 73, Trump denied any knowledge of the $130,000 payment to Clifford arranged by Cohen. Trump’s White House has denied allegations that Trump had an affair with Clifford.
Trump also tried to distance himself from Cohen, saying, “This doesn’t have to do with me. Michael is a businessman…I would say, probably, the big thing is his business. I have nothing to do with his business.”
Trump further tried to distance himself from Cohen, saying “I have so many attorneys you wouldn’t believe,” adding his legal work using Cohen was, “As a percentage of my overall legal work, a tiny, tiny fraction.”
When asked about his alleged ties to Russia on “Fox & Friends,” Trump said he was “very disappointed in my Justice Department,” adding “ I have decided I won’t be involved. I may change my mind at some point.”
Trump threatened the FBI, “ You look at the corruption at the top of the FBI, it’s a disgrace, and our Justice Department — which I try to stay away from, but at some point, I won’t,” adding “ That’s not the FBI. That’s a fix.”
Trump said, “the special counsel — and by the way, and Intelligence Committee and everybody else has found no collusion.” Trump added that the Russia investigation is like a “cloud over my head.”
On Thursday, Sessions, who is recused from the Russia investigation, criticized how long Mueller is taking, saying, “This thing needs to conclude.”
Trump also attacked Sen. Tester on “Fox & Friends” over his passing along concerns of whistleblowers on Jackson, “I want to tell you that Jon Tester — I think this is going to cause him a lot of problems in his state.”
Trump said of Comey, “I did a great thing for the American people by firing him,” adding, “Those memos were about me and they’re phony memos. He didn’t write those memos accurately. He put a lot of phony stuff.”
Trump also repeated his lie about the election, “The Electoral College is set up perfectly for the Democrats and this was an absolute total beating in the Electoral College.” And to rate himself: “I would give myself an A+.”
On Friday, the judge in the Stephanie Clifford’ lawsuit against Trump agreed to delay the case by three months as requested by Cohen, citing a criminal investigation Cohen is facing.
On Thursday, another cache of text messages between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were released to Congress. The cache included messages from December 2016 to May 2017, which were originally thought to be missing.
The messages express dismay over Comey’s firing, and discuss the prospect of working for Mueller. There is also a cryptic text from May: “”We need to open the case we’ve been waiting on now while Andy is acting.”
Page called Trump an “idiot” and “a douche,” among other insults, but also sent insulting texts about Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, and Bernie Sanders. There was no evidence of the “secret society” alleged by Sen. Ron Johnson.
Early Friday morning, Trump again attacked Comey, tweeting, “He illegally leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION,” adding, “He lied all over the place to cover it up. He’s either very sick or very dumb.”
A Pew Research study found the longstanding partisan gap over compromise has disappeared: 46% of Democrats believe elected officials should compromise, down from 69% in 2017 (Republicans at 44%).
Several Republicans embroiled in tough primaries are using Trump’s tactics, using phrases like “drain the swamp,” “build the wall,” and “fake news,” and calling for the jailing of Hillary Clinton and Comey.
A new Quinnipiac poll found 53% believe the Russian government has compromising information about Trump, 35% do not. Only Republicans and white men don’t believe this.
The poll also found 74% say Trump should not fire Mueller (13% disagree), and that 37% of Republican voters say the news media is “an important part of democracy, while 51% says it’s “the enemy of the people.”
On Friday, influential conservative website RedState fired a handful of prominent writers, all of whom were anti-Trump voices.
Brooklyn, New York – February 2018
Jacksonville, Florida – February 2018
Week 75 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
April 21, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-75-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-ac41bda4c55d
This week Trump became increasingly frantic about the fed raid on Michael Cohen, as innuendo swirled that Cohen could cooperate with federal prosecutors if indicted. Trump spent much of the week attacking James Comey, and teetering on firing Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller. Yet again this week, the national focus continued to be on Trump’s gyrations, with no visible efforts in Congress towards the typical discussions and debates on policy or legislation.
The untold and less-covered stories continue to be loss of rights and protections for marginalized communities and women, and the outright cruelty of the Trump regime when it comes to immigrants. Kleptocracy and corruption continues unabated, and in a sign of our country’s normalization of the previously unthinkable, Tax Day came and went this week with barely a whimper for Trump not sharing past returns.
Wynwood, Miami, Florida. December 2017. Apparently, the “Neo Fascism” tag was added by a “woke” citizen some time in the night…
On Sunday, Trump attacked Comey in a series of tweets, calling him a “slimeball,” “Slippery James Comey,” and adding, “(he is not smart!), will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!”
Trump also tweeted, “The big questions in Comey’s badly reviewed book aren’t answered like, how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail).”
Trump also attacked a former president again, “Why can’t we all find out what happened on the tarmac” between “Wild Bill and Lynch?” Trump asked if Loretta Lynch was “promised a Supreme Court seat, or AG” to lay off Hillary.
A NBC News /WSJ poll found Trump’s approval dropped back down to 39%, down 4 points from last month. His disapproval rose to 57%.
On Sunday, shortly after the poll was released, Trump tweeted “Just hit 50% in the Rasmussen Poll much higher than President Obama at same point.” The Rasmussen number is 7.5 points above the average poll.
On Sunday, in his first TV interview about his book, Comey castigated Trump for being a serial liar, “morally unfit,” and a “stain” on all around him. Comey said Trump was incinerating the country’s norms like wildfire.
Two black men waiting for a friend to arrive at a Starbucks in Philadelphia were handcuffed and arrested after a white Starbucks employee called the police. The men were held by police for nine hours before being released.
On Tuesday, Starbucks announced the company will close 8,000 of its stores on the afternoon of May 29 to conduct “racial-bias education”training for nearly 175,000 employees.
HuffPost reported a federal judge in Washington barred the federal government from implementing Trump’s transgender military ban, saying transgender people have been “subjected to systemic oppression and forced to live in silence,” and are therefore a protected class.
On Tuesday, Miami Herald reported ICE arrested Juan Gaspar-García, an undocumented Guatemalan man with Down syndrome, as part of a raid at TentLogix. Gaspar-García, 22, was one of 28 people detained.
Gaspar-García’s sister launched a petition, saying, “My brother does not have the ability to understand certain situations and probably does not understand why he is there or what is happening.” He also has diabetes.
World-famous Muslim author and activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied, who who holds dual citizenships in Sudan and Australia, was detained at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport by US Customs and Border Protection.
American authorities said Abdel-Magied, who was being paid to speak at the conference, was in violation of her visitor’s visa. She was denied entry to the US, and after a three hour detainment, was sent back to London.
Politico reported, as part of the Trump regime’s broader plan to reduce immigration, Jeff Sessions is seeking to remove domestic violence and sexual violence as persecution that would justify asylum in the US.
The city of Albuquerque passed a measure making it harder for federal officials to deport undocumented immigrants, a week after a judge blocked the Trump regime from withholding funding from cities that took such steps.
AP reported Manuel Duran Ortega, a reporter working for Spanish-language media outlet Memphis Noticias, was detained by ICE, allegedly because he has been critical of local police cooperating with federal ICE.
Ortega, who is originally from El Salvador, was arrested by police in Memphis, then taken into custody ICE and detained in Louisiana. Southern Poverty Law Center asked a federal court to release Ortega.
On Wednesday, Syracuse.com reported ICE agents stormed a farm owned by John Collins in upstate New York without a warrant. The agents pinned his worker, Marcial de Leon Aguilar, up against a window.
Collins said the men did not identify themselves and were screaming at Aguilar. The seven officers cuffed Aguilar and took him across the road to their vehicles as Collins’ children, waiting for the school bus, looked on. Collins said Aguilar had proper documentation to work for him.
On Wednesday, Trump attacked California and its sanctuary cities in a tweet, saying, “there is a Revolution going on in California,” which he called “crime infested & breeding concept.”
On Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown reached an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security and Defense officials on the terms of California’s National Guard deployment at the border: the state’s 400 troops will work solely against drug trafficking and cross-border criminal groups.
On Thursday, Trump shot back at Brown, tweeting Brown deployed troops “to do nothing,” and “The crime rate in California is high enough,” and the federal government “will not be paying for Governor Brown’s charade.”
NYT reported, according to data prepared by DHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, more than 700 immigrant children have been taken from their parents at the US border, including more than 100 under the age of four.
Officials claim the agency does not separate families at the border for deterrence purposes, but Trump officials, including Kelly, have publicly suggested this in the past. A spokesman for DHS said, “As required by law, D.H.S. must protect the best interests of minor children crossing our borders.”
On Wednesday, in the biggest power outage since Hurricane Maria, a toppled transmission line left all of Puerto Rico without power. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority said power restoration could take up to 36 hours.
BuzzFeed reported at a closed-door UN meeting in March, Trump regime officials called the US a “pro-life nation,” and pushed for references to contraception, abortion, and comprehensive sex education to be struck.
On Thursday, a federal judge in Washington DC ruled the Trump regime’s cuts to the Obama-era Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) were unlawful, and ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to accept and process applications of four grantees.
On Friday, Trump’s HHS announced the TPPP will shift federal funding aimed at reducing teen pregnancy rates to programs that teach abstinence. The changes mark a major shift in the way the federal government treats teen pregnancy.
On Thursday, a federal appeals court found an Indiana abortion law signed by then Gov. Mike Pence is unconstitutional. The law banned women from having abortions based on the gender, race, or disability of the fetus.
A UK parliamentary committee released audio from November in which Nigel Oakes, the founder and CEO of SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, told a reporter Trump deliberately demonized Muslims and stoked fears about ISIS to appease his base — as Hitler did with Jews.
VICE News reported that following their inquiry to Facebook, the company removed two pages associated with white supremacist Richard Spencer.
On Saturday, WAPO reported that eight months after the white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, the alt-right movement is in disarray amid lawsuits, arrests, infighting, tepid recruitment, and banishment from social media.
One of the biggest groups, the Traditionalist Worker Party, dissolved in March; Andrew Anglin, founder of The Daily Stormer, has gone into hiding; and Richard Spencer canceled a college speaking tour.
Elizabeth Pierce, FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s pick to run a federal advisory committee, was arrested after federal prosecutors accused her of forging contracts to induce firms to invest more than $250 million in a fraud scheme.
On Monday, Rob Joyce, a top White House cybersecurity official, became the fourth member of Trump’s National Security Council to resign in the days since John Bolton took over at National Security Adviser.
On Tuesday, Republican Rep. Charlie Dent, a critic of Trump and leader of a moderate band of Republicans, said he would quit Congress next month before serving out his term. Dent had already announced his retirement.
On Tuesday, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a strong advocate for net neutrality, announced she will step down from the commission. Clyburn has served on the commission since 2009.
On Monday, NPR reported the Environmental Protection Agency removed the San Jacinto Waste Pits, a heavily contaminated site near Houston, from a list of sites that require special attention by Scott Pruitt, citing significant clean-up progress.
The site, which is next to homes and schools and took decades to get federal attention, saw significant damage from Hurricane Harvey. Pruitt is leaving it to two companies responsible for the contamination to come up with a court-ordered plan within 29 months.
Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department announced the killing of birds resulting from an activity, such as an oil spill, is no longer prohibited under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, sapping the strength of a century-old law to protect birds.
A federal judge ruled Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was in contempt of court for failing to comply with a 2016 preliminary injunctionthat blocked a Kansas law requiring people to provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote.
Kobach, who also serves as co-chair of Trump’s Election Integrity Commission, had assured the judge he would send out postcards to the roughly 18,000 people whose registrations were being held up. He did not.
Betsy DeVos’ Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has begun dismissing hundreds of civil rights cases under a new protocol, saying serial filing have become burdensome to the office.
The new provision resulted in the dismissal of more than 500 disability rights complaints. DeVos has already rescinded guidances meant to protect students against campus sexual assault, and black and transgender students against bias.
The Government Accountability Office concluded the EPA did not comply with the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act by spending $43,000 to install a private phone booth in Pruitt’s office without notifying Congress spending was above the $5,000 limit.
CNN reported Samantha Dravis, one of Pruitt’s most trusted advisers and top EPA official, tried to back-date her resignation letter after the House oversight committee requested to interview her as part of its investigation.
On Wednesday, a group of 170 Democratic lawmakers, including 131 representatives and 39 senators, signed a resolution calling on Pruitt to resign.
On Wednesday, Daily Beast reported Rep. James Bridenstine, Trump NASA nominee, led a small non-profit organization into losses. Some of the losses were the result of a company that Bridenstine co-owned using the non-profit’s resources.
On Thursday, the Senate confirmed Bridenstine to lead NASA, by a vote of 50–49. Bridenstine has no scientific credentials, does not believe humans are primarily to blame for the global climate crisis, and is the first elected official to hold the position.
The Philippine Embassy sent invitations for its Independence Day celebration on June 12, which will be held at the Trump Hotel DC. The hotel is seen by foreign delegations as a place to be seen and curry favor.
Hard to believe, hard to digest, facts about the state of our union. Los Angeles, CA. 7apr18
On Thursday, WSJ reported that the Kushner Cos. received a federal grand-jury subpoena in mid-March for information related to paperwork the company filed in New York City on its rent-regulated tenants.
On Wednesday, the parents of two children who died in the 2012 Newtown school shooting sued InfoWars’ Alex Jones for defamation. Jones is a right-wing conspiracy theorist who said the shooting never happened.
In a YouTube video, Jones backtracked and said he now believes the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting did really happen, and that the families are being used by the Democratic Party and the news media.
On Friday, Intercept reported, according to documents, in February 2017 Elliott Broidy provided Russian gas giant Novatek a $26 million lobbying plan aimed at removing the company from a US sanctions list.
When Broidy sought legal advice on the plan and avoiding registering under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, a law firm flagged the avoidance of lobbying registration as a problem. That advice was a factor in the decision not to move forward with the agreement.
On Sunday, WSJ reported federal prosecutors are investigating money flowing in and out of Essential Consultants, the Delaware limited-liability company used by Michael Cohen for payment deals to at least two women.
Cohen used Essential Consultants to make pay $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford. Installments were also made by Broidy towards the payment made for negotiating a nondisclosure agreement related to his affair.
On Sunday, Axios reported Trump tried to block Pence from getting his pick for his national security adviser. Pence has planned to pick Nikki Haley’s deputy Jon Lerner, who was part of the “Never Trump” movement.
On Sunday, US ambassador to the UN Haley told “Face the Nation” the US is preparing new sanctions against Russia for their role in Assad’s use of chemical weapons in Syria, adding Secretary Steven Mnuchin would be announcing the sanctions on Monday.
WAPO reported Trump met with his national security advisers late Sunday, and told them he was uncomfortable rolling out new sanctions. On Monday, White House officials put the brakes on new sanctions.
On Monday, the White House was said to be in a “holding pattern” on sanctions, enacting them only if Russia does something which threatens US interests. The Trump regime reportedly decided to characterize Haley’s announcement as a misstatement.
On Tuesday, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told reporters Haley “ got ahead of the curve.” Haley responded, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” Kudlow reportedly called Haley Tuesday to apologize.
On Tuesday, WAPO’s Carol Leonnig told MSNBC the Russian government was given a backdoor assurance on Sunday night that the threats of sanctions were nothing to worry about, and to just ignore Haley.
On Tuesday, NYT reported that Trump grew angry while watching television Sunday and seeing Haley announce sanctions were coming, when he had not decided yet.
The miscue highlights crossed circuits in a regime without a secretary of state, Bolton starting anew and several members of the national security officials resigning, and a marginalized White House staff.
Trump is at odds with Haley, who is among the most hawkish senior officials on Russia. Recently, he saw her on television criticizing Russia over its intervention in Ukraine, and yelled at the screen, “Who wrote that for her?”
On Friday, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported Foreign Minister Lavrov said Trump invited Putin to the White House during a phone call, and that Trump said he would be happy for a reciprocal visit to Moscow.
On Sunday, the LA Times reported Trump’s Solicitor Gen. Noel Francisco intervened in a minor SEC case to ask the Supreme Court to clarify the president’s constitutional power to fire all “officers of the United States.”
On Sunday, the , “it will be up to Congress to affirm the rule of law, the separation of powers and the American constitutional order.” NYT Editorial Board wrote that if Trump moves against Mueller or Rosenstein
On Sunday night, in a letter to US District Judge Kimba Wood, Trump asked the judge to allow him to review documents seized by the FBI from Cohen’s office before criminal investigators see the material.
The FBI is using a “ taint team” of prosecutors outside the investigation to review all materials seized from Cohen’s office, hotel room, and security deposit box to access what is covered by attorney-client privilege.
On Monday, Justice Wood said she would not grant the President exclusive first access to documents seized in the raids, but said she would consider appointing an independent lawyer to review the seized materials.
Also in court Monday, Cohen’s attorneys acknowledged he represented Broidy, and sought to avoid naming a third client. Under orders from the judge, the third client was disclosed to be Sean Hannity.
Shortly after, Hannity tweeted, “Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions.”
On Tuesday, The Atlantic reported Hannity has ties to two other lawyers who are close to Trump: Jay Sekulow and Victoria Toensing, wife and law partner of Joseph diGenova.
The two sent a cease and desist letter on May 25, 2017 to KFAQ, a radio station based in Tulsa, when conservative activist Debbie Schlussel said Hannity was “creepy” towards her. Sekulow, Toensing, and diGenova are frequently on Hannity’s show.
On Tuesday, Fox News said it was “unaware” and “surprised” by Hannity’s business relationship with Cohen, but expressed “ we have reviewed the matter and spoken to Sean and he continues to have our full support.”
On Tuesday, WAPO reported Trump is now leaning against granting an interview to Mueller’s team, following the FBI raids on Cohen. When the news broke on Cohen, Sekulow and other Trump advisers were in a preparatory session for a meeting with Mueller’s team.
Mark Corallo, former spokesperson for Trump’s legal team said unexpected raids “are generally reserved for mafia dons and drug kingpins.” Trump continues to have trouble staffing his legal team.
WAPO also reported Trump was so upset by the raids, he had trouble concentrating on the options laid out to him by his national security team for missile strikes in Syria.
On Wednesday, WSJ reported Jay Goldberg, who represented Trump in the 1990s and early 2000s, cautioned Trump not to trust Cohen, saying Cohen is likely to cooperate with federal prosecutors if facing criminal charges.
In a fifteen-minute conversation, Goldberg reportedly told Trump, on a scale of 100 to 1, where 100 is fully protecting, Cohen “isn’t even a 1.” Trump is seeking advice as prosecutors ramp up their investigation of Cohen.
On Thursday, Cohen dropped his libel suit against . Letting go of the defamation lawsuit could give Cohen more time to focus on the high-profile cases against him. BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS over the dossier
On Tuesday, April 17, taxes were due. Trump filed an extension because of the complexity of preparing his 2017 returns, and plans to file by mid-October. Trump is the only modern day US leader not to release his taxes.
On Tuesday, WAPO reported that CIA director Mike Pompeo made a previously undisclosed trip to meet with Kim Jong Un over Easter weekend, shortly after he was nominated as Trump’s secretary of state.
Trump hinted about the meeting while speaking to the press from Mar-a-Lago Tuesday while meeting with Japan PM Abe. The meeting marks the highest-level meeting between the two countries since 2000.
On Sunday, Steven Molo, a former prosecutor who specializes in white collar defense and courtroom litigation, turned down the opportunity to represent Trump in the Mueller probe, citing an unidentified conflict.
On Tuesday, AP reported as Trump left for a two-day summit with Japanese PM Abe, his anger against the probe has intensified, with him musing publicly about firing Mueller and Rosenstein.
On Tuesday, at the start of his visit with Abe, Trump plugged Mar-a-Lago as a destination, saying, “Many of the world’s great leaders request to come to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. They like it. I like it.”
On Wednesday, Trump changed his prior story, claiming in a tweet “Comey, the worst FBI Director in history” was “not fired because of the phony Russia investigation,” adding “ NO COLLUSION (except by the Dems)!”
On Wednesday, CNN reported that Trump believes “all of this will eventually collapse on itself,” and since he is innocent of wrongdoing with Russia, he can represent himself in the Mueller probe.
On Wednesday, at a new conference with Abe at Mar-a-Lago, Trump reiterated, “There’s been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump,” adding he would sanction Russia as soon as they deserve it.
Trump declined to say whether he would fire Mueller or Rosenstein, saying, “We are hopefully coming to the end,” about the probe, and adding “It is a bad thing for our country — very, very bad thing for our country.”
Trump also referred to the Mueller probe as “a hoax created largely by the Democrats as a way of softening the blow of a loss,” and said there had been no collusion five times.
On Wednesday, WTAE reporter Marcie Cipriani obtained emails sent to Pittsburgh police detectives warning them of a “potential large scale protest” Trump fires Mueller. Detectives have been instructed to bring their riot gear to work.
On Wednesday, in a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers, New York AG Eric Schneiderman said he is moving to change state law so he and local prosecutors could bring criminal charges against aides of Trump who are pardoned.
On Thursday, WAPO reported Rudy Giuliani, former New York AG, says he is joining Trump’s legal team dealing with the Mueller probe, saying he hopes to “negotiate an end to this for the good of the country.”
Giuliani will work alongside Ty Cobb and Sekulow on a team that has had a hard time recruiting legal talent. On whether Trump will sit for an interview with Mueller, Giuliani said, “It’s too early for me to say.”
Politico reported Giuliani’s new role could be complicated by him becoming a witness in the Mueller probe in several areas including his ties to Turkish-Iranian gold dealer Reza Zarrab. Trump’s lawyers deny there are any conflicts of interest.
On Friday, WAPO reported that Sessions told Don McGahn last weekend in a phone call that he might leave his job if Trump fires Rosenstein.
Sessions also reportedly asked for details about Trump’s meeting with Rosenstein at the White House on April 12, and expressed relief to learn it was largely cordial.
As of Friday, more than 800 former Justice Department employees had signed an open letter calling on Congress to “swiftly and forcefully respond to protect the founding principles of our Republic and the rule of law” if Trump fires Rosenstein or Mueller.
On Friday, Axios reported Trump has not cooled off on Rosenstein. According to a source, Trump is still trying to figure out a clean way to get rid of him, then Rosenstein will be fired.
On Tuesday on “The View,” Stephanie Clifford and her lawyer unveiled a sketch of the man who allegedly threatened her in 2011 after she agreed to tell her story. A $100,000 reward is being offered to identify the man.
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted about the sketch posted by Clifford, saying it was “about a nonexistent man. A total con job.” The tweet was accompanied by another tweet suggesting the man looked like Clifford’s former husband.
On Wednesday, Karen McDougal settled her lawsuit seeking to invalidate her contract with AMI, parent of National Enquirer, over $150,000 paid to her in 2016 for her story about her affair with Trump which never ran.
Under the settlement, McDougal will keep the $150,000 she was paid and AMI has the rights to up to $75,000 for any future profits from her story. She is no longer prohibited from discussing her relationship publicly.
Vanity Fair interviewed Michael Avenatti, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney, who claimed there have been three raids of Cohen in eight days and “there’s a significant level of cooperation” between he and Clifford and the SDNY AG’s office.
Avenatti alleges he has evidence of bank fraud involving Cohen, which he shared with the FBI and believes the smoking gun are the Suspicious Activities Reports flagging transactions. He thinks Cohen will be indicted.
On Friday, WAPO reported that Keith Davidson, the former lawyer for both Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal, is said to be cooperating in the federal probe of Cohen. Davidson’s lawyer confirmed.
Californians reminding mike pence some things he’s apparently forgotten from his dear bible. Los Angeles, CA. 7apr18
Davidson represented both women while they negotiated their settlements in 2016. According to CNN, as part of the raids on Cohen, federal investigators have taped conversations between Cohen and Davidson.
On Friday, a federal judge in Los Angeles said there were “gaping holes” in a request by Trump’s personal lawyer to delay Stephanie Clifford’s lawsuit to end her non-disclosure agreement.
On Sunday, Speaker Paul Ryan told “Meet the Press” that he doesn’t think it’s necessary to pass legislation to protect Mueller from being fired, saying, “It’s not in the president’s interest to do that. We have a rule of law system.”
On Tuesday, six House Republicans endorsed legislation to block Trump from firing Mueller, despite assurances from Speaker Ryan that the effort was unnecessary. A handful of other Republicans are also evaluating it.
On Tuesday, Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News he would not put legislation on the Senate floor to block Trump from firing Mueller, saying, “I don’t think he should fire Mueller and I don’t think he’s going to.”
On Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley said his committee will vote next week on a bill to protect Mueller from being fired by Trump.
Grassley said he had promised senators Lindsey Graham, Thom Tillis, Chris Coons, and Cory Booker that if they could merge their two bipartisan bills into one, he would bring the bill up for a committee vote.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted about online retailers in his continued attacks on Amazon, tweeting “States and Cities throughout our Country are being cheated and treated so badly by online retailers,” calling it “very unfair.”
On Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee chair Bob Goodlatte said he plans to issue a subpoena to Justice Department demanding the Comey memos on his meetings with Trump be released to his committee.
Goodlatte’s move would make him the third Republican committee chair, including Devin Nunes of the House Intelligence Committee and Trey Gowdy of the House Oversight Committee, to demand access to the Comey memos.
Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee said in a statement Wednesday that he feared the Republicans “have manufactured an excuse” to hold Rosenstein in contempt of Congress.
On Thursday, the Justice Department released the Comey memos with congressional leaders. In a letter to Goodlatte, Nunes, and Gowdy, the agency said it was releasing both redacted and un-redacted versions.
On Thursday, the Associated Press obtained the 15 pages of seven Comey memos. Although the memos were unclassified, some portions were blacked out as classified.
Although much of the content had already been made public, details emerged of Trump’s obsession with political rivalries and fears the bureaucrats and government officials were trying to undermine him.
The memos also reveal Trump’s obsession with his inaugural crowd size, his venting about subordinates and leaks, and not appreciating or caringabout protocol boundaries for the White House and DOJ.
The memos reveal that after Comey’s meeting at Trump Tower about the dossier and alleged tapes with prostitutes, Trump brought up the subject at least two more times.
The memos also reveal that US intelligence agencies had corroborated at least part of the dossier, and that Trump gave contradictory statements to Comey on whether then chief of staff Reince Priebus knew they were meeting.
The memos also reveal that Priebus asked Comey if Michael Flynn were being wiretapped. The response was redacted. Comey tried to explain that such inquiries should be routed from the White House counsel’s office to the DOJ.
Comey described an irate Trump when then-NSA Flynn did not tell him right away that Putin had called to congratulate him. Trump said, “Six days was not an appropriate period of time to return a call” from the leader of a country like Russia.
The memos show Trump’s focus on Andrew McCabe, including a January dinner at which Trump asked Comey whether Mr. McCabe “had a problem” with the him. In an Oval Office meeting weeks later, Trump brought it up again.
On Friday, WSJ reported the Justice Department inspector general is probing Comey for at least two of the memos he gave to a friend outside the government which contained information now considered classified.
Comey considered the memos personal rather than government documents, and gave four memos to his friend Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor who is now a professor at Columbia Law School.
A poll released by NPR, PBS NewsHour, and Marist University showed an increasing number of Americans believe the FBI is biased against Trump, including more than half of all Republicans.
On Thursday, Bloomberg reported Rosenstein told Trump last Thursday at a White House meeting that Trump is not a target of any part of the Mueller probe, or the federal investigation into Cohen. This seemed to have cooled Trump from firing Rosenstein or Mueller.
The meeting was also attended by McGahn, Kelly, and FBI general counsel Dana Boente. Despite Rosenstein’s assurance, Mueller has not ruled out making Trump a target a future point.
On Thursday, NBC News reported in January the Justice Department’s inspector general had recommended a criminal investigation into whether McCabe lied to federal officials about a leak to the WSJ.
On Thursday, Comey told CNN he feels “conflicted” about McCabe’s criminal referral, adding “I like him very much as a person, but sometimes even good people do things they shouldn’t do.”
McCabe’s lawyer Michael Bromwich responded, “We are confident that, unless there is inappropriate pressure from high levels of the administration, the U.S. attorney’s office will conclude that it should decline to prosecute.”
On Friday, Axios reported Bromwich said McCabe plans to sue for defamation, wrongful termination and other possible civil claims. Bromwich also accused McCabe’s opponents, including Trump, of “continuing slander.”
Bromwich also said McCabe was “upset and disappointed” about some of the things Comey said about him. Bromwich added of Comey, “Nobody’s memory is perfect, people are fallible.”
On Friday, Vox reported at a January 22, 2017 White House meeting with Sessions and Christopher Wray, Trump asked why two senior FBI officialswho were disloyal to him, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, were still in their jobs.
Trump pressed Sessions and Wray to move aggressively to uncover derogatory information on Strzok and Page within FBI files and turn it over to congressional Republicans working to discredit the them.
Jonathan Greenberg, an investigative journalist, revealed that Trump had repeatedly lied to him, starting in May 1984, about Trump’s wealth, in hopes of staying and rising on the Fortune 400 list.
Greenberg said Trump used an alter ego of himself, John Barron, on phone calls to make inflated claims about his net worth, like “You have down Fred Trump [as half owner]…but I think you can really use Donald Trump now.”
Over time, Greenberg discovered Trump should not have been on the first three Fortune 400 list at all. In 1982, Fortune listed Trump at $100 million, but really he was worth roughly $5 million.
On Friday, the Democratic Party filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Russian government, the Trump campaign, and the WikiLeaks organization for conspiring to disrupt the 2016 campaign and elect Trump.
The complaint was filed in federal district court in Manhattan and alleges top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Hillary by disseminating stolen information.
The suit does not name Trump, but does name Donald Jr., Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Rick Gates, as well as Roger Stone who claimed he was in contact with Julian Assange. It also names the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU.
Trump Campaign Manager Brad Parscale called it a “ sham lawsuit,” and Trump tweeted “this can be good news in that we will now counter for the DNC Server that they refused to give to the FBI.”
On Friday, Sen. Coons of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he will not support Mike Pompeo’s nomination for secretary of state, marking the first time since 1945 the full senate will vote on a cabinet-level nominee with an unfavorable report from a committee.
On Friday at 11:13 pm, Trump hinted at a flawed premise for Mueller in a misspelled tweet: “Comey illegally leaked classified documents to the press in order to generate a Special Council?”
Trump hinted therefore that Mueller should be fired: “Therefore, the Special Council was established based on an illegal act?” adding: “Really, does everybody know what that means?”
On Friday, NYT reported that while Cohen said he would “take a bullet” for Trump, for years Trump treated Cohen poorly, with insults, dismissive statements, and threats to fire him at least twice.
Federal agents seized decades of documents in their raids on Cohen’s office and hotel room. While Cohen has been a staunch defender of Trump, after the raid, the leverage has shifted to Cohen.
On Saturday, in a series of tweets, some of which were deleted and tweeted again due to misspelling, Trump attacked the . NYT over the Cohen story, saying Cohen will not “flip” and cooperate against him
Trump complimented Cohen, calling him “a fine person with a wonderful family,” and “a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected.”
Trump also lashed out at one of the , tweeting, “a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H flunkie who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with.” NYT reporters on the story
The tweets were sent Saturday morning from Mar-a-Lago, where Trump has spent almost the entire week, just before he headed out to to one of his golf course for the second consecutive day.
Four former presidents and Melania attended the funeral for Barbara Bush on Saturday. Trump tweeted he was headed to the “Southern White House,” his second nickname for Mar-a-Lago, to watch the funeral service, after golfing.
Trump will host French President Macron for his first state dinner next Tuesday. Unlike his predecessors, Trump has not invited any members of Congress from the opposing party or any members of the media.
Again demonstrating his affinity for military ceremonies, the White House announced Trump said he will speak at the US Naval Academy Commencement next month.
New York City. February 2018.
Sidewalk stencil. Brooklyn, New York. February 2018.
Week 74 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
April 14, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-74-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-d1b245a5a811
This week, Trump became angry and stormy after the office and hotel room of his longtime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen were raided by the FBI. The country stood on edge as Trump threatened to fire Mueller, Sessions, and Rosenstein. Other than a few hollow warnings, Republicans in leadership did nothing by way of passing legislation or any other measures to block Trump from taking steps to dull or end the Mueller probe. And as Speaker Paul Ryan became the latest Republican leader to announce he will not seek re-election in November, increasingly it appears the party will abdicate its responsibility to counter Trump.
In a week without any real focus, policy, or direction, Trump careened on trade and on Syria. After spending much of week attacking and discrediting institutions and familiar targets like Obama, Hillary, McCabe, and Comey, Trump ended the week late Friday by addressing the nation on a US missile attack on Syria, which, unlike a year ago, will be an open-ended military engagement. With a non-functioning and unstaffed State Department, many senior national security roles vacated, and disagreement voiced by Secretary Mattis, the decision to strike — as with most decisions in recent weeks — was made by one man.
LA-legend/stencil artist, https://www.instagram.com/teachr1/ ~ 7apr18 on Melrose in Los Angeles.
Late Saturday, a fire broke out at Trump Tower on the 50th floor, leaving one dead and four New York City firefighters injured. This is the second fire in the sprinkler-free residential tower in 2018.
Trump tweeted “Very confined (well built building). Firemen (and women) did a great job,” but failed to acknowledge the death in his building. Trump was one of the developers in the late 1990s who lobbied against requiring sprinklers in buildings.
Late Saturday, Trump again defended Scott Pruitt and his security spending, tweeting Pruitt “received death threats because of his bold actions at EPA,” adding “Scott is doing a great job!”
Also on Saturday, Trump attacked the Justice Department and FBI of slow-walking documents “relating to FISA abuse, FBI, Comey, Lynch, McCabe, Clinton Emails and much more,” tweeting what do they “have to hide?”
WAPO reported on repeated clashes between Trump and chief of staff John Kelly, and Kelly’s downward arc of influence in the White House. Kelly’s credibility has also suffered amid misstatements, including his handling of the Rob Porter scandal.
Kelly has instituted “Policy Time” sessions once or twice a day where advisers would address Trump on specific issues and bi-monthly cabinet meetings. Kelly’s efforts to create an atmosphere of discipline clashed with Trump’s freewheeling impulses.
Reportedly, Kelly has threatened to resign multiple times — one senior White House official jokingly called it “a weekly event.” Trump has told friends recently he likes rallies where he can escape Kelly’s shackles.
On Sunday, Trump attacked The Washington Post on Twitter, calling the paper “far more fiction than fact,” and saying the story on Kelly “is made up garbage.”
On Sunday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro echoed Trump on “Meet the Press,” calling .” The Washington Post “fake news most of the time
On Sunday, NYT Executive Editor Dean Baquet told CNN that Trump’s rhetoric against the media is “out of control” adding, “his advisers should tell him to stop.”
On Saturday, Syrian activist groups reported Assad’s regime used chemical weapons on the rebel-held city of Douma. At least 25 were killed and 500 wounded. In Week 73, Trump said he would withdraw troops from Syria.
On Monday, Trump signed an executive order calling for enforcing work requirements for the poor, and directing agencies to consider adding work requirements to government aid programs that lack them.
On Tuesday, Trump’s Justice Department announced it would halt a program that offers legal assistance to detained foreign nationals facing deportation as it audits the program’s cost-effectiveness.
Last year, the Vera Institute of Justice held information sessions for 53,000 immigrants in more than a dozen states. The federal government will also evaluate Vera’s “help desk,” which offers tips to non-detained immigrants.
On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown of California heeded Trump’s call to send the National Guard to the Mexico border, but said his 400 troops will have nothing to do with immigration enforcement.
Jamie Allman, who hosted a nightly show on the Sinclair-owned ABC affiliate in St. Louis, was fired and his show canceled after he sent a vulgar tweet threatening to sexually assault Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg.
Brennan Walker, a 14 year-old black teen in Rochester Hills, Michigan who missed his school bus and stopped at a neighbor’s house while walking to school to ask for directions, was shot by homeowner Jeffrey Ziegler, whose wife initially answered the door and yelled at Walker.
Ximena Barreto, a Trump appointee to deputy communications director at the Department of Health and Human Services, shared an image in 2017 that said “our forefathers would have hung” Obama and Clinton for treason. Barreto was suspended earlier this week for insulting Islam and spreading conspiracy theories.
AP reported in the 135 days since Mick Mulvaney took over as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency has not recorded a single enforcement action against banks, credit card companies, debt collectors, or finance companies.
Politico reported that the EPA fired Mario Caraballo, a career staffer who approved an internal report undermining Pruitt’s claims he needed around-the-clock bodyguards and other expensive security protection.
Expo Park in Los Angeles, CA – March 2018
NYT reported Kevin Chmielewski, the former EPA deputy chief of staff, told lawmakers Pruitt insisted on staying at luxury hotels costlier than allowed and flying airlines not on the government approved list to get frequent flyer miles.
Chmielewski also told lawmakers Pruitt often scheduled trips back to Oklahoma so he could stay for the weekend, and if he wanted to travel somewhere, told his staff to“find me something to do,” to justify travel.
ABC News reported almost 30 senior employees at the Interior Department said they were reassigned last year, and some have formally complained it was in retaliation for their work on issues like climate change.
On Thursday, the Senate approved Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist whose clients include Murray Energy, as the EPA’s deputy administrator, the agency’s №2 official. Democrats complained of Wheeler’s efforts to block regulations that protect Americans’ health and climate change.
AP reported Wheeler accompanied Murray CEO Robert Murray to a series of closed-door meetings to lobby the Trump regime to kill environmental regulations affecting coal mines.
Guardian reported Sinclair-TV chairman David Smith met with Trump at the White House. Smith claimed the meeting was to pitch a new product: chips for cell phones and other devices that can receive transmissions.
On Wednesday, Wendy Vitter, Trump’s nominee for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, refused to answer whether Brown v. the Board of Education was correctly decided at her confirmation hearing.
On Monday, La Prensa reported Trump Panama Hotel Management has pressured the Panamanian government to step in to its dispute with Orestes Fintiklis over control of the hotel formerly named after Trump.
In Week 69, a Panamanian court ruled for Fintiklis, and Trump’s name was removed. The US Embassy in Panama said that “matters related to the Trump Organization are sent directly to the White House.”
ProPublica reported the Trump Organization has filed at least nine new lawsuits against municipalities alleging Trump’s properties are worth far less than he claims, and therefore they owe much less in taxes.
This marks the first time a US leader has been in legal battles with local governments. Experts say it creates a “dangerous precedent” because local governments rely on the federal government for resources.
On Thursday, following his frequent attacks on Amazon, Trump issued an executive order forming a task force to be chaired by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to evaluate the Postal Service’s finances and operations.
Denver Post reported Centennial Coalition, a Republican “dark money” nonprofit in Colorado, hired Cambridge Analytica to help the party win the state Senate in 2014. Centennial used targeted abortion mailers.
Concerned Citizens for Colorado, controlled by Senate Republican leader Bill Cadman, also hired the company in 2014 and 2015. Concerned Citizens sent $100,000 to the Centennial Coalition in 2014.
On Monday, in a morning tweet, Trump attacked “STUPID TRADE” with China. Later at a Cabinet meeting, Trump assured farmers, who have been targeted by China’s tariffs, that they “will be better off than they ever were” under Obama.
The Trump regime is considering using a Depression-era program, the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) created in 1933, to bail out farmerscaught in his trade war with China.
The CCC can borrow up to $30 billion from the Treasury Department and extend that money to farm groups. Republican lawmakers have told the regime the approach will not provide the needed relief to farmers.
On Thursday, Trump told a gathering of farm-state lawmakers and governors that he is looking into rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal he pulled the US out of days after he took office.
Politico reported Paul Manafort’s lawyers filed a motion to suppress evidence found in a storage unit, arguing entry was illegal because the storage unit employee did not not have authority to let the FBI into the locker.
The May 27 search warrant for the storage locker authorized FBI agents to seize financial or tax records relating to Manafort, Rick Gates, or former Ukrainian President Yanukovych. Manafort’s lawyers argue the warrant was overbroad.
A sobering message on Melrose in Los Angeles, CA – 7apr18
Daily Beast reported according to court documents, one of Manafort’s associates led an FBI agent to a storage locker filled with paperwork on Manafort’s businesses and finances. The name is redacted from the filings.
On Monday, NYT reported the FBI raided Michael Cohen’s Rockefeller Center office and hotel room, seizing business records, emails, and documents related to several topics, including the payment to Stephanie Clifford.
The Southern District of New York prosecutors obtained a search warrant after having the case referred to them by Mueller. To obtain a search warrant, prosecutors must convince a federal judge they are likely to discover evidence of criminal activity.
On Monday, WAPO reported Cohen is being investigated for bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations. The FBI took Cohen’s computer, phone and personal financial records, including tax returns.
Search requests indicate prosecutors’ interest in possible violations of election law by Cohen. As the acting attorney general supervising Mueller’s work, Rod Rosenstein would have determined if the topic needed to be referred.
On Monday, WSJ reported the probe is being conducted out of the FBI’s public-corruption unit. Investigators would have had to receive high-level approval to seize documents of a personal lawyer because of sensitivities around attorney-client privilege.
Trump spoke to the press at the White House before meeting with senior military commanders on Syria, calling the raid a “disgraceful situation,” an “attack on our country in a true sense” and “a total witch hunt.”
Trump said they “they broke into” Cohen’s office, who he said is a “good man.” Asked if he will fire Mueller, Trump said “We’ll see what happens,” adding “And many people have said, “You should fire him.””
Trump again complained about Sessions recusing himself, saying Sessions made a “terrible decision” and “what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country,” adding he would have chosen another person if he had known.
On Tuesday, Trump continued his attack on the raid, tweeting “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!” and “Attorney–client privilege is dead!” There are exceptions to attorney-client privilege for crime or fraud, past or future.
On Monday, NYT reported Mueller is investigating a $150,000 donation from Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk to the Donald Trump Foundation in September 2015 for a 20-minute appearance through a video link to a conference in Kiev. Cohen solicited the donation.
Records on the payment came as Mueller’s team subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents, emails, and other communications about several Russians, including names not publicly tied to Trump.
On Tuesday, WSJ reported that in connection with the raids, federal prosecutors asked the Trump Organization for its records relating to the $130,000 payment to Clifford.
WSJ reported the search warrant also sought information on the $150,000 payment by AMI, publisher of , as well as information on Cohen’s associates in the taxi industry. National Enquirer, to Karen McDougal
On Tuesday, NBC News reported Stephanie Clifford is cooperating with federal investigators in their probe of Cohen.
On Tuesday, NYT reported Trump considered firing Mueller in December 2017 after hearing news that the special counsel obtained subpoenas targeted Trump’s and his family’s banking records at Deutsche Bank.
Trump’s lawyers and advisers worked quickly to learn that report was false, and Trump backed off. Trump has openly discussed ways to shut down the probe, but lawyers and advisers have convinced him this would only exacerbate his problems.
On Tuesday, Rachel Maddow reported Dana Boente, the former acting Attorney General, has been asked to be interviewed by Mueller’s team in the Russia investigation.
Maddow also revealed handwritten notes, allegedly by Boente about his conversation with Comey, which would be the first contemporaneous evidence of what Comey told colleagues about his conversations with Trump.
On Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Sanders said a press briefing that Trump could fire Mueller, “He certainly believes that he has the power to do so,” adding Trump believes Mueller has “gone too far.”
On Tuesday, NYT reported on Trump’s mood the day after the raids on Cohen’s office and hotel room, reporting he was “brooding and fearful” and according to two people close to the West Wing near a “meltdown.”
Aides said they felt “anxious” Tuesday that Trump might use the raid as a pretext to fire Mueller. Trump reportedly said the raids were proof that Mueller was out to get him.
Over the weekend, Trump engaged in few activities, and after watching Fox News reports that the deep state was looking to sink him, he came unglued and said he wanted to fire Sessions, Rosenstein, and Mueller.
On Tuesday, CNN reported Trump is considering firing Rosenstein as a way to put greater limits on Mueller. Trump is also weighing firing Sessionswhom he feels has not done enough to protect him in the probe.
On Tuesday, Politico reported Trump will host a dinner for Republican leaders at the White House on Wednesday. Reportedly, the dinner was planned before Trump’s attack on Mueller and others on Monday.
A perfectly placed message on a mannequin in Venice Beach, CA 25mar18
On Tuesday, Trump canceled his trip to attend the Summit of the Americas in Peru, citing the need to oversee the “response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world.”
This marks the first time a US leader has not attended the summit since 1994, and Trump has yet to make a trip to Latin America. Trump’s rhetoric on immigration and protectionism are not well received in the region.
The White House said Vice President Pence will attend in Trump’s stead. Pence’s office advertised he would be attending “a banquet hosted byPresident Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of Peru.” Kuczynski resigned three weeks ago, following a corruption scandal.
On Wednesday, Ivanka told the media that she and Jared are heading to Peru for the summit amid drama at the White House. Ivanka said she would unveil a new economic empowerment program for women of the region.
On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee said it would move forward with legislation to limit Trump’s ability to fire Mueller. Committee chair Chuck Grassley is seeking assent to add it to the committee’s agenda for Thursday.
In a letter responding to Sen. Ron Wyden, the NRA acknowledged to Congress that it has accepted contributions from about 23 Russians, or Americans living in Russia, since 2015, saying most were for membership dues.
The NRA acknowledged that Kremlin-linked Alexander Torshin, placed under US sanctions in Week 73, has been a member of the NRA since 2012, and has paid membership dues but not made any contributions.
On Wednesday, a day after Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee had threatened to impeach FBI director Christopher Wray and Rosenstein, the Justice Department turned over the document that launched the FBI’s Russia investigation in 2016.
On Wednesday, NYT reported that the FBI agents who raided Cohen’s office and hotel room were seeking information about whether he worked with the Trump campaign to suppress negative information about Trump.
The warrant, which was striking in its breadth, allowed prosecutors to gather information, including documents related to the “Access Hollywood” tape, as part of an investigation into whether Cohen’s possible coordination violated campaign finance laws.
The investigation is being run by Robert Khuzami, whose boss, Geoffrey Berman, the interim United States attorney in Manhattan recently appointed by Trump, has recused himself.
On Wednesday, New Yorker reported Dino Sajudin, a Trump Tower doorman, met with a reporter from the and agreed to grant exclusive rights to his information for $30,000. National Enquirer in late 2015
Sajudin’s story was that Trump may have fathered a child with a former employee in the late 1980’s. The payment from AMI, parent company of the National Enquirer, came five months after Trump launched his presidential campaign.
The story never ran, similar to those of Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal. Two former employees said Cohen was in close contact with the AMI executives at the time reporters were looking into Sajudin’s story.
On Thursday, Sajudin released a statement, which said in part, “I can confirm that while working at Trump World Tower I was instructed not to criticize President Trump’s former housekeeper due to a prior relationship she had with President Trump which produced a child.”
On Wednesday, WAPO reported Steve Bannon has stayed in touch with some members of Trump’s circle, and is now pitching them a plan to help Trump cripple Mueller’s Russia probe.
Bannon’s plan is for Trump to fire Rosenstein, to stop cooperating with Mueller including allowing staff members to be interviewed, and to have Trump protect himself by asserting executive privilege.
Mueller’s team asked a judge in Alexandria, Virginia, to issue 35 sets of subpoenas to witnesses for a trial set to begin on July 10. Mueller asked for blank subpoenas, with names to be added later.
On Friday, NBC News reported Rosenstein invoked the quote Martin Luther “Here I stand,” telling confidants he is prepared to be fired by Trump, and said he had done his job with integrity.
Rosenstein also said in private conversations that he did the right thing in firing Comey in May 2017, saying the American people did not have all the facts that led to his decision to the write the memo.
On Friday, WAPO reported that Trump allies are worried Cohen, who is known to store the conversations using digital files and then replay them for colleagues, may have had recordings seized in the raids Monday.
It is not known if Cohen taped his conversations with Trump, but people familiar say Cohen taped both business and political conversations, with one adding, “It was his standard practice to do it.”
On Friday, lawyers for Cohen and Trump appeared in court seeking to temporarily bar prosecutors from examining records and electronic devices, including two cell phones, seized by the FBI.
The Justice Department’s 22-page motion said Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months by federal prosecutors for his business dealings, and that a grand jury was empaneled.
The motion revealed authorities had searched a number of email accounts used by Cohen, and the results indicate “Cohen is in fact performing little to no legal work, and that zero emails were exchanged” with Trump.”
The motion also revealed prosecutors examined a safe-deposit box used by Cohen, carrying out the search for fear that evidence might be destroyed if they just served him with a subpoena.
After three separate hearings on Friday, US District Court Judge Kimba Wood indicated that she did not have enough information to make a decision. She ordered lawyers, and Cohen personally, back on Monday.
NYT reported Trump sees the inquiry into Cohen as a greater threat to him than the Mueller probe. Reportedly Trump finds himself isolated as he tries to find a new criminal lawyer, and aides are hesitant to advise him for fear of being dragged into the investigation.
According to sources, Trump called Cohen on Friday to “check in.” Depending on what was discussed, the call could be problematic as lawyers typically advise clients against discussing investigations.
Cohen has said he would defend Trump until the end. He has served Trump for more than a decade as a trusted fixer, including during the campaign when he helped with hush scandals.
“Sin is a disgrace to any people.” Expo Park – Los Angeles, CA. March 2018
Search warrants indicate authorities are interested in Cohen’s unofficial role in the Trump campaign, including demanding all his communication with the campaign, and in particular with Corey Lewandowski and Hope Hicks.
Bloomberg reported Trump’s legal team has an open gap in defending against the Mueller probe: Jay Sekulow, who is in charge of legal strategy and negotiations with Mueller, is an expert in constitutional law, not criminal defense.
On Friday, WSJ reported Cohen negotiated a $1.6 million settlement on behalf of Elliott Broidy, a top Republican fundraiser with ties to Trump, with a former Playboy model who said she was impregnated by Broidy.
Cohen arranged the payments to the woman as part of an agreement with the Los Angeles woman which prohibits her from disclosing her relationship with Broidy. The first payment was due December 1st.
In a statement, Broidy acknowledged the “consensual relationship” adding “I offered to help her financially during this difficult period.” Cohen turned down requests to comment.
On Friday, Broidy resigned as deputy national finance chairman at the Republican National Committee. Steve Wynn had recently also resigned as a deputy national finance chair, but Cohen remains in his position.
On Monday, ProPublica reported Sessions became friendly with Broidy as part of the Trump campaign, and turned to Broidy for advice and recommendations for positions in the Justice Department.
Sessions gave Broidy a private email address — firstname.lastname@example.org — to send along his picks. As noted in Week 69, Broidy was convicted in 2009 for his role in a major New York state public corruption and bribery case.
On Friday, CNN reported the FBI seized recordings of conversations between Cohen and lawyers for Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal.
Cohen recorded some of his calls with attorney Keith Davidson, who at the time represented both women, but no longer represents either. Cohen contacted Davidson recently and encouraged him to go public with what he knew about his former clients and their agreements.
McDougal alleges in a lawsuit that Cohen has a close relationship with Davidson, and that Davidson was part of a “broad effort to silence and intimidate her and others.”
One source told CNN that Cohen played recordings of conversations he had with political and media figures during the exploratory part of the campaign for Trump and other associates.
On Friday, McClatchy reported Mueller has evidence that Cohen secretly made a trip to Prague months before the presidential election, as described in the Steele dossier.
The dossier cited information from a “Kremlin insider,” who said the Prague meeting was to “sweep it all under the carpet and make sure no connection could be fully established or proven” between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Investigators have traced evidence that Cohen entered the Czech Republic through Germany in August or early September. It is unclear if Mueller’s team has evidence Cohen actually met with Konstantin Kosachev, a Putin ally.
Cohen has vehemently denied that he made a trip to Prague or colluded with Russians during the campaign. Kosachev, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of a body of the Russian legislature, has also denied that he visited Prague.
On Saturday, Cohen tweeted, again denying he has been to Prague, saying he was in LA with his son, and accusing the reporter of “bad reporting, bad information.”
On Monday, Facebook announced it will create an independent commission that partners with academics and researchers to study the effects of social media on democracy and political elections.
On Tuesday, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg testified before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees. Zuckerberg apologized at the opening of the hearing, but this did not appease senators of either party, with Richard Blumenthal saying, “We’ve seen the apology tours before…”
Zuckerberg faced tough questioning from senators of both sides, which between the two committees was almost half the senate. Lawmakers plan to interview other technology companies, including Google and Twitter.
Democratic Sen. Ed Markey plans to introduce a new bill, the CONSENT Act, which would require social media companies and other major web platforms to obtain explicit consent before they share or sell personal data.
The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook violated a 2011 decree over data on 71 million Americans in the hands of Cambridge Analytica. The fine could potentially be huge.
The Guardian reported British and US lawyers plan to file a class action lawsuit against Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, SCL Group Limited, and Global Science Research Limited for misusing the personal data of more than 71 million people.
On Sunday, Trump called out Putin and Russia for the chemical attacks, tweeting, “President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price…” This is the first time Trump has attacked Putin by name.
On Sunday, Michael Anton, Trump’s National Security Council spokesman resigned. Anton was brought in by Flynn, and was one of the sharpest defenders of Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.
On Tuesday, Tom Bossert, Trump’s homeland security adviser, resigned at the request of National Security Adviser John Bolton. Bossert advised Trump on cybersecurity and counterterrorism since the beginning of his regime.
On Tuesday, Nadia Schadlow, deputy national security adviser for strategy, resigned. Schadlow was the third senior national security official to resign or be pushed out with Bolton’s entree to the White House.
On Monday, Yulia Skripal, the daughter of Sergei Skripal, both of whom were poisoned in a nerve gas attack allegedly carried out by Russia in the UK, was discharged from the hospital and taken to a secure location.
On Wednesday, in a series of tweets, Trump warned US airstrikes are coming in Syria, “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’”
In his most direct criticism of Moscow yet, Trump tweeted, “You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” Trump also tweeted, “Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War.”
On Thursday, Trump reversed himself tweeting, “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!”
On Thursday, after Trump’s Twitter threats, Defense Secretary Mattis tried to put the brakes on a possible military strike warning it could escalateinto a wider conflict between Russia, Iran, and the West.
Mattis detailed his concerns in closed-door meetings to Trump’s White House and Trump’s top national security advisers. Mattis also pushed for more evidence that al-Assad was behind the chemical weapons attack.
On Friday night, Trump addressed the nation about his decision to order strikes on Syria. Many pundits drew a comparison to “wag the dog” — creating a crisis to divert attention from a scandal.
Citing al-Assad’s use of chemical weapon against his own people, the US, along with the UK and France, struck Syrian research, storage, and military targets. Trump said earlier in the week, “We are very concerned…this is about humanity.”
Unlike the US missile attack in Syria a year ago, this operation was described by US generals as open-ended; although Mattis was careful to say at a press conference Friday, the missiles were not the opening of a broader campaign.
NPR reported that so far in 2018, the US has accepted only 11 Syrian refugees. This follows a dramatic decrease from 15,479 Syrian refugees resettled in 2016 under Obama, to just 3,024 in 2017 under Trump.
On Friday, Reuters reported that pro-Assad officials claim that, similar to US strikes a year ago, the targeted bases were evacuated days ago thanks to warnings by the Russians.
There were too many “Douche” stickers to count on Melrose in Los Angeles, CA on 7apr18 … just as there are too many to count in our actual government…
On Saturday, in a morning tweet, Trump bragged about the missile strike in Syria, saying “Mission Accomplished!” The words were reminiscent of George W. Bush’s haunting phrase in 2003 about the supposed end of major combat in Iraq.
On Saturday, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the Security Council that US forces are “locked and loaded” if Assad stages another chemical attack.
At the time of the Syrian air strike, acting Secretary of State John Sullivan was in Peru at the Summit of the Americas. Eight of the top ten roles at State remain unfilled, as well as many key ambassador roles.
On Wednesday, McClatchy reported Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo failed to disclose last year in his questionnaire to lead the CIA that he owned a Kansas business that imported equipment from a company owned by the Chinese government.
The issue, which troubled several senators, never came up in Pompeo’s Senate confirmation hearing to become CIA director. Pompeo’s Senate confirmation hearings to become Secretary of State began on Thursday.
On Thursday, two key Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tim Kaine and Jeanne Shaheen said they won’t back Pompeo for secretary of state. Republican Sen. Rand Paul also indicated he would vote against him.
Trump nominee Pompeo could be the first state nominee since 1925 not to get a favorable vote from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to support his nomination for secretary of state.
On Sunday, conservative pollster Frank Luntz told Fox News, “I think the Republicans are in deep trouble,” saying if the elections were held today, the Republicans would lose the House and the Senate.
On Wednesday, Axios reported Paul Ryan will not run for re-election in November. Insiders say Ryan passed tax reform, his longtime dream, but is ready to step out of an endlessly frustrating job, in part due to Trump.
A Republican insider said, “This is a Titanic, tectonic shift. … This is going to make every Republican donor believe the House can’t be held,” saying now funds will be diverted to help Republicans keep control of the Senate.
Politico reported, according to Nielsen ratings, MSNBC’s rating surged 30% from first quarter of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018, while Fox News’ rating fell 16%. Analysts said some of Fox News’ audience may be experiencing Trump fatigue.
On Wednesday, Axios reported on a clip from Comey’s first interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos scheduled for Sunday night, in which Comey compares Trump to a mob boss.
Comey said he was asked by Trump to investigate the salacious allegations from the dossier to “prove that it didn’t happen,” adding Trump said it would be “terrible” if Melania would believe them to be true.
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted promoting Fox News’ Sean Hannity’s show, “Big show tonight on @seanhannity!” On his show that night, Hannity attacked Hillary Clinton, Mueller, and Comey.
On Thursday, CNN obtained a copy of the battle plan to discredit Comey to be used by Trump allies which includes branding Comey as “Lyin’ Comey,” digital advertising and talking points to be sent to Republicans nationwide.
On Friday, Trump lashed out at Comey in a series of tweets, calling him “a proven LEAKER & LIAR,” and a “weak and untruthful slime ball” who deserved to be fired “for the terrible job he did.”
Trump also tweeted that Comey “leaked CLASSIFIED information” for which he “should be prosecuted,” and Comey “lied to Congress under OATH,” adding “It was my great honor to fire James Comey!”
On Friday, CNN obtained a copy of the Justice Department inspector general’s report on Andrew McCabe, which found McCabe “lacked candor” on four occasions when discussing the disclosure of information to the WSJ.
The disclosures were related to the FBI’s investigation of the Clinton Foundation. In addition, the report found that McCabe was not authorized to disclose the existence of the investigation.
The report also cited McCabe’s conversations with federal investigators and Comey. The report, which went to Congress on Friday and is expected to be made public, formed the basis of Sessions’ firing of McCabe.
Trump used it to attack Comey, calling the report “a total disaster,” adding “He LIED! LIED! LIED! McCabe was totally controlled by Comey — McCabe is Comey!!” And referring to them both as a “den of thieves and lowlifes!”
On Friday, Trump pardoned Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a former Bush administration official convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in 2007. This follows his controversial pardon of Joe Arpaio in Week 41, which he also announced on a Friday, as Hurricane Harvey was about to hit.
Trump acknowledged Friday he has no personal relationship to Libby, “I don’t know Mr. Libby, but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly.” Trump does have an ongoing feud with the Bush family.
Trump said Libby was unfairly convicted because of an overzealous prosecutor. A number of Trump aides have pleaded guilty to similar charges such as lying to the FBI, and Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation.
The pardon also telegraphed Trump’s open hostility to the criminal justice system and institutions, as well as signaling Trump’s willingness to use the power of the presidency as a personal political tool.
Bloomberg reported Trump ordered the DOJ to hire Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who was forced out of the National Security Council by H.R. McMaster for showing Nunes classified documents. Cohen-Watnick went to work for Oracle after he was fired.
When Trump learned in the fall of 2017 Cohen-Watnick was not at the Justice Department, he told staff he wanted him on the job as soon as possible. Generally, the White House has a policy against the rehiring of staff who are dismissed.
VICE News reported two senior officials in the Trump regime, Makan Delrahim and David Bernhardt, were once registered as lobbyists for Access Industries, a holding company controlled by Russian oligarch Leonard Blavatnik.
An ABC News/ Washington Post poll found that 69% of Americans support Mueller’s investigation of possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russian government attempts to influence the 2016 election.
The polls also found 64% of Americans support investigating Trump’s business activities, and 58% support investigations in alleged hush money.
Wynwood, Miami, FL – December 2017
*Unfortunately, for our country, this list, PROVEN, as well as supported by The National Library of Congress, is getting longer and longer every week.
** In an effort to make it more reader-friendly and easier to digest, I’ve broken it up most of the way, by inserting a photo (all taken by me,) between every 20 facts.
*** This list is by Amy Siskind and the link to her actual list is highlighted below. PLEASE, if these facts strike a chord and mean something to you, PLEASE share this post. Street Art comes in many forms, but no matter what, it gives a voice to the voiceless. Help us to make their voices heard. Resoundingly.
Week 72 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
March 31, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-72-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-15d0c913ef70
In a week some described as relatively quiet on the news front heading into Passover and Easter, Trump is acting increasingly strident and confident in his — and solely his — abilities and judgment. As Hope Hicks departed and Trump had yet to name her replacement, news stories indicated Trump is considering becoming his own press secretary, as well as possibly his own chief of staff. Trump continues to be scattered legislatively, save his obsession with his border wall, while continuing to strike out at adversaries, this week’s favored target being Amazon. Trump continued to seize power.
With the exit of attorney John Dowd, Trump is without a lead counsel in the Mueller probe, as he also faces threats on a number of other fronts including Stephanie Clifford, the emoluments clause and the unraveling of Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in the US election. Trump’s remaining inner-circle continues to be plagued by possible ethics violations and incompetence.
Venice Beach, California. 25march2018.
In a case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,
a federal appeals court rejected the position of Sessions’ DOJ and ruled transgender people are protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bans workplace discrimination based on sex.
Fake photos of the teens who spoke at March For Our Lives went viral on the far right. One photo showed leader Emma Gonzalez and other leaders ripping up what was photoshopped to be the Constitution.
Rep. Steve King attacked Gonzalez for her Cuban heritage on his Facebook page: “This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don’t speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island.” Rep. King was excoriated by critics for his
post about Emma Gonzalez. His staff responded, “just pointing out the irony of someone wearing a communist flag while advocating for gun control. — Team King” On Sunday, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said
Joseph DiGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing would not be joining Trump’s legal team in the Mueller probe, citing conflicts of interest. Having lost lead attorney John Dowd as well last week, this
leaves Trump without a traditional criminal defense attorney as Mueller’s team enters a critical phase in its investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. On Sunday,
Trump sent two tweets, claiming top lawyers want to represent him and “Fame & fortune will NEVER be turned down by a lawyer, though some are conflicted,” adding “there was NO COLLUSION.” Trump also tweeted about “the $1.6 Billion given to building and fixing the border wall” in the spending bill.
The law says funds can be used only to repair and build previously approved fencing, not to build a new wall. The law
also bars construction on a Texas wildlife preserve that the Trump regime had previously identified as a starting point for work on a new border wall in Week 37. On Tuesday,
WAPO reported that privately, Trump has started pushing the US military to fund construction of his border wall, saying Jim Mattis and congressional leaders could push for the funding citing a “national security” risk. On Wednesday,
Trump tweeted construction of his border wall has begun, and included four photos. This statement false: Trump’s border wall has not been started, and the photos are from a 2009 replacement project. California’s senators and Democratic colleagues
called for a probe into the resignation of San Francisco ICE spokesperson James Schwab, who resigned in Week 70 citing false statements made by the Trump regime. A new Indiana law requires
all doctors to ask every woman seeking treatment for a physical or psychological condition whether she haspreviously had an abortion “in any way connected to the ailment.”
Intercept reported, according to a string of emails and documents obtained through a public records request, ICE uses backend Facebook data to locate and track immigrants that it is working to round up. According to a directive shared by ICE on Thursday,
the Trump regime will abandon a policy of generally releasing pregnant women from immigrant detention, instead deciding on a case-by-case basis. On Friday, in
a big victory for the ACLU, a US District Court judge in Washington DC ruled that the Trump regime cannot block undocumented teens from getting abortions. On Friday,
ABC News reported halfway through the fiscal year (October 1, 2017), the Trump regime has admitted less than a quarter of its proposed refugees ceiling: just 10,548 out of the 45,000. The regime’s
cap of 45,000 is the lowest since the refugee admissions program began in 1975. Obama has set the cap at 110,000 for the fiscal year, and Trump lowered it once taking office. Under rules proposed by the
State Department Friday, nearly all applicants for a visa to the US, an estimated 14.7 million people per year, will be asked to submit their social-media usernames for the past five years. The proposal covers
20 social media platforms, and includes people wanting to come to the US for business or pleasure, including countries such as Brazil, China, India and Mexico.
On a t-shirt through the window in an East Village, New York City shop. November 2017.
On Monday the Commerce Department announced that
the 2020 US Census will include a question about citizenship. Opponents fear this will lead to inaccurate population counts, affecting the distribution of federal funding and redistricting for House seats.
Career officials at the Census Bureau were critical of the plan to add the question, but Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross decided to include it despite their input. The census has not asked participants about citizenship since 1950. In a draft of the
2020 US Census released Tuesday, questions regarding categories of sexual orientation and gender identity were removed, sparking outrage from LGBTQ advocacy groups. Data in census categories — for example race, gender, length of commute —
are used by federal agencies make decisions about law enforcement, health care, equal employment opportunities, and more.
Politico reported, based on interviews, public documents, and FEMA records the hurricane response by the Trump regime in Puerto Rico was significantly undersized compared to the response to Hurricane Harvey. Within 9 days of the storms,
FEMA had approved $141.8 million in individual assistance for victims of Harvey, and only $6.2 million for victims of Hurricane Maria. Also nine days in, the federal government had dispatched
30,000 personnel in the Houston region, compared to only 10,000 at the same point after Maria. Puerto Rico was strong-armed into using
an experimental funding formula to access federal funds for rebuilding. The formula requires that Puerto Rico pay for any excess costs in the rebuilding effort. The funding formula has never been used for a disaster of this scale.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Seattle’s KOMO-TV is now being forced by owner Sinclair Broadcasting to read Sinclair-written scripts warning of the dangers of “one-sided news stories plaguing our country.” Sinclair has also
imposed must-run segments on things like the “Deep State” produced by Sinclair’s Kristine Frazao, who prior worked as a reporter and anchor for the Russian-government funded news network RT. On Monday, CNN reported
Secretary Ryan Zinke told Interior Department staffers that diversity isn’t important. Three high ranking officials in say he said, “I don’t care about diversity,” or “I don’t really think that’s important anymore.” On Monday,
three more contractors in Secretary Ben Carson’s Department of Housing and Urban Development lost their jobs over a widening ethics controversy surrounding Accel Corporation, a private employment agency, and their staffing arrangement with HUD. After interviewing over 20 insiders and reviewing internal emails
NYT reported that HUD appears to be abandoning efforts to enforce fair housing laws. In
Week 69 Carson changed HUD’s mission statement, eliminating the mandate to “build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.” Diana Flynn, a top civil rights lawyer in the Justice Department, is resigning and
will become the litigation director at Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ advocacy organization which is currently suing to stop Trump’s transgender military ban. The Trump administration has established
an anti-regulation litmus test for judicial appointments, with the hope to weaken what they have labeled the “administrative state.”
WSJ reported Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency agreed to test a water-purification system developed by Water-Gen Ltd., an Israeli technology company, at the request of Republican donor and Trump ally, Sheldon Adelson. The Trump regime picked a new fight with the state of California, as the EPA’s Pruitt reportedly will move to roll back an
Obama-era goal to have car makers meet a 54.5 mpg standard by 2025, one of Obama’s signature efforts to fight climate change. The move would be a
victory for carmakers, and could allow them to roll back industry standards worldwide. The move would also be likely to spark a courtroom challenge from California.
HuffPost received a leaked memo from the Office of Public Affairs at Pruitt’s EPA which listed eight approved talking points regarding climate change. The talking points downplay the role humans play in climate change, stating that the toll of human action on the climate is unknown.
Chelsea, Manhattan, NYC. November 2017.
ABC News reported Pruitt has been living in a DC condo co-owned with his wife by Stephen Hart, CEO of the lobbying firm Williams and Jensen, which represents a roster of fossil fuel companies.
WAPO reported that clients of Hart’s firm include Exxon Mobil Corp. and the major liquefied natural gas exporter Cheniere Energy Inc. Market rate rent in the area run at more than $3,000 for two bedrooms per month. On Friday,
WAPO reported Pruitt is paying just $50 per night for the nights he stays in the condo. According to EPA officials, Pruitt has paid a total of $6,100 to stay in the condo for roughly six months. ABC News reported that
Pruitt’s daughter also stayed in the condo. Justina Fugh, a EPA ethics lawyer, did not know about the arrangement, but said she did not immediately see it as an ethical concern since Pruitt was paying for the room. On Friday, CNN reported that according to a letter by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse,
Pruitt used his security detail while on non-official business, including trips home to Tulsa, a family vacation to Disneyland, and the Rose Bowl. According to a July 2014 memo obtained by MSNBC,
Rudy Giuliani’s law firm warned Cambridge Analytica foreign citizens could not play “substantive management” roles in the running of US election campaigns. On Sunday, Sen. Mark Warner told “Meet the Press” that
Facebook has not been fully transparent with Congress about the data leak, saying when he questioned the company about Cambridge Analytica they “blew that off.”
Corey Lewandowski said Sunday he never approved contact with Cambridge Analytica while working for Trump, saying, “They pitched me three times, three times I said no.” On Monday, watchdog group Common Cause filed legal complaints with the FEC and DOJ accusing Cambridge Analytica, SCL Group, Nix, Christopher Wylie, and others of
violating US election laws as non-US citizens by participating in the decision-making process of US political campaigns.
Mark Zuckerberg has been called to testify before Congress on April 10 at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on data privacy, and on April 12 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
NYT reported that an employee of Palantir, the data analysis company co-founded by Trump supporter Peter Thiel, was directly involved with Cambridge Analytica and the creation of an app that was used to scrape Facebook users’ data. Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie alleged that pro-Brexit campaign Vote Leave
engaged in fraud to skirt election spending laws. In an interview with
The Daily Beast Wylie said he didn’t come forward earlier with information about Cambridge Analytica, waiting until long after the US election and Brexit, because he “didn’t fully appreciate the impact.”
A super PAC run by John Bolton was one of the first organizations to use the Facebook data mined by Cambridge Analytica in 2014. The super PAC held a $454,700 contract with the company to gain “behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging.” On Thursday,
Bloomberg reported, according to records released to the UK Parliament, Cambridge Analytica gave Bolton’s PAC data harvested from millions of Facebook users. The papers were produced by Wylie. Emails released show
SCL Group discussed with Aggregate IQ, a Canadian company that worked closely with both Cambridge Analytica and SCL, how it could release information on how to target voters in several US states to Bolton’s PAC. On Sunday,
Stephanie Clifford appeared on “60 Minutes,” saying she stayed silent because of fear. She said she was threatened with a lawsuit by Michael Cohen in 2011 after selling her story for $15,000. Shortly after, she was approached by a stranger in a parking lot who told her, “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,” adding, of her daughter, “
That’s a beautiful little girl, it would be a shame if something happened to her mom.” The night they met,
Clifford said she told Trump, “Someone should take that magazine and spank you with it,” to get him to stop talking about himself. It was a magazine with Trump on the cover, and she claims she spanked him with it, wearing his underwear. Trevor Potter, former chair of the Federal Election Commission, was also interviewed and
compared the case to John Edwards, but said the paying off was worse because it happened right before election day on a hot topic.
New York City, February 2018.
Potter also said
Mueller could look into Clifford’s case as part of his investigation of Cohen, also the middleman for the Trump Organization for negotiations with Russia for a Trump Tower Moscow. The interview was the
highest-rated episode of “60 Minutes” in 10 years, attracting 22 million viewers. On Monday,
Trump was uncharacteristically silent on Clifford’s interview, refraining from sending a single tweet or making any comment. On Monday,
Clifford’s lawyer Michael Avenatti sued Cohen for defamation, saying Cohen defamed Clifford by insinuating she lied about an affair with Trump. The complaint also says the hush agreement is invalid since Trump did not sign it. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders
angrily deflected questions about Stephanie Clifford at a press conference on Tuesday, two days after Clifford’s appearance on “60 Minutes.” On Wednesday, Michael Avenatti
filed a motion in a federal court in California seeking to depose Trump and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohenover the $130,000 payment made to Clifford. On Wednesday,
David Schwartz, the lawyer for Cohen, said in an CNN interview that Cohen did not tell Trump about the hush agreement to pay Clifford $130,000 in 2016. Avenatti said Schwartz’s comments
prove the hush agreement was invalid. Experts say Schwartz’s comments could also result in an ethics complaintagainst Cohen with the New York bar association. On Monday, Dan Webb,
a prominent white-collar-defense lawyer for the firm Winston and Strawn, declined an offer to lead Trump’s legal defensein the Mueller probe. Trump had
also reached out to Tom Buchanan, a DC-based partner of Winston and Strawn, to join his legal team. The firm issued a statement citing “business conflicts” for why the two declined. Most top-tier lawyers have refused to represent Trump in Mueller’s Russia investigation. Instead,
Reuters reports, an assistant DA from Georgia, Andrew Ekonomou, has been elevated on Jay Sekulow’s legal team working on the case. On Monday,
a new CNN poll found Trump’s approval up to 42%, the highest in eleven months. Trump showed improvement from February with Republican voters (80% to 86%) and independents (35% to 41%). On Monday,
NYT reported with Trump’s inner circle thinning, he is increasingly in touch with Rob Porter. Trump has spoken with aides about bringing Porter back, although he knows he probably cannot do so. On Monday,
WSJ reported White House attorneys are examining whether two loans, from Apollo and Citigroup, to Kushner’s family business may have violated any criminal laws or federal ethics regulations. The Office of Government Ethics is
investigating after receiving a letter from Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, saying the loans, “raise serious ethical questions that need to be investigated.” Reps. Elijah Cummings and Krishnamoorthi wrote attorney Don McGahn
requesting documents from a White House review into dealings Kushner Cos. had with Citigroup and Apollo Group Management. Jared held meetings in the White House with leaders from both financial groups. On Monday,
Politico reported associates of Trump are concerned about what Rick Gates may reveal to Robert Mueller following last month’s plea deal. One Republican consultant commented, “He saw everything.” On Tuesday Mueller’s team
filed court papers arguing for jail time for Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer and Dutch citizen who lied about his interactions with Gates and an unidentified person. Van der Zwaan will be the first person to be sentenced in the investigation.
Sen. Ron Wyden requested internal records from the NRA regarding foreign funding received over the past three years. Wyden wants to determine if any foreign funds were used to influence US elections. On Tuesday,
Mueller released documents revealing top Trump campaign official Gates had frequent conversations in September and October 2016 with a person believed to have active links to Russian spy services.
East Village, New York City. February 2018.
The documents revealed
Gates told an associate his contact “was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with the G.R.U.,” the Russian military intelligence agency. In the document, he is known as “Person A.” The document states
communications between Gates and Person A are “pertinent to the investigation.” Sources say Person A is likely Konstantin Kilimnik, Manafort’s right-hand man in Ukraine. The document is a
sentencing memo for Alex van der Zwaan, who worked closed with Gates and Person A to prepare a report used to defend Viktor Yanukovych, and in Week 67 was revealed to have lied to Mueller’s team. On Friday,
VICE reported Congress is looking into an August 2016 flight on a private jet linked to Deripaska which traveled from Moscow to Newark, then flew back to Moscow that same afternoon. The
flight arrived with hours of a meeting in Manhattan between Manafort and Kilimnik. Weeks prior, Manafort had Kilimnik reach out to Deripaska and told him “to extend an offer of ‘private briefings.’” On Wednesday,
NYT reported Dowd broached the idea of Trump pardoning Manafort and Michael Flynn with their attorneys, suggesting Trump’s lawyers were concerned the two would cut a deal in exchange for leniency. The revelation raises concerns that Dowd, who resigned as Trump’s lead counsel in
Week 71, was offering pardons to influence their decisions on whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the Mueller probe. Dowd’s conversation with
Flynn’s attorney took place during the summerof 2017, at a time when a grand jury was hearing evidence against Flynn. His conversation with Manafort’s attorney took place before Manafort was indicted in October.
It is not known if Dowd discussed the pardons with Trump. When contacted by the NYT, Dowd said, “There were no discussions. Period. As far as I know, no discussions.” On Thursday,
The Guardian reported that in 2010 a small group of businessmen, including wealthy supporters of Putin, started working with Trump on plans for a glitzy hotel in Riga, the capital of Latvia. Talks with Trump’s company were
abandoned after Russian Igor Krutoy, who had met with Trump and Ivanka at Trump Tower, was questioned by Latvian authorities as part of a major criminal inquiry. Latvian authorities also reached out to the FBI.
Krutoy has written music for Emin Agalarov, the Russian singer involved with setting up the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. Krutoy was also a celebrity representative for Putin’s 2018 election campaign. On Thursday,
Reuters reported Mueller’s team is questioning witnesses about the Trump campaign’s contact with Russians at the Republican National Convention in July 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. Witnesses have been asked about a
convention-related event attended by both Kislyak and Sessions, and also about why Republican Party platformlanguage hostile to Russia was deleted from a section on Ukraine. One witness said they were also asked by Mueller’s team about
a meeting Sessions had with Kislyak on the sidelines of a campaign speech Trump gave at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel in April 2016. The government of Ecuador
cut off Julian Assange’s internet access after he made a series of tweets stating that the evidence Russia poisoned a former spy and his daughter was “circumstantial.” Assange lives in the London embassy of Ecuador, where he is seeking asylum. On Friday, Ted Malloch, an American touted as a possible candidate to serve as US ambassador to the EU last year, was
detained as he landed at Logan Airport, and issued a subpoena to testify in the Mueller probe. Malloch is a controversial London-based academic with close ties to Nigel Farage.
Guardian reported Malloch was questioned about his involvement in the Trump campaign and instructed lying to the FBI is a felony. Malloch said
the FBI asked about Roger Stone, and whether he had ever visited the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Assange resided. He will appear before Mueller’s grand jury in Washington DC on April 13. On Friday,
Yevgeniy Nikulin, a Russian accused of hacking US technology companies in 2012, was extradited to the Czech Republic. Sessions called the case “deeply troubling behavior once again emanating from Russia.”
Wynwood, Miami, Florida. December 2017.
The Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship
has been renamed by the State Department as the Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship. An insider suggested it may have been renamed to escape Trump’s budget cuts. Seth Rich’s brother has filed a lawsuit accusing right-wing activists Ed Butowsky and Matt Crouch, Crouch’s media company America First Media, and
The Washington Times of acting “with reckless disregard for the truth” by perpetuating conspiracy theories. On Wednesday Trump
tweeted that his administration “stands in solidarity” with Orange County, which joined the administration’s lawsuit challenging the “sanctuary state” law, SB 54. On Wednesday,
all 22 female senators wrote in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that the Senate must begin to debate anti-harassment legislation. On Wednesday, a federal judge in Maryland ruled a
lawsuit accusing Trump of violating the emoluments clause by refusing to divorce himself from his businesses may proceed. The judge
refused a plea from Sessions’ DOJ to dismiss the lawsuit. A similar lawsuit was dismissed in New York in December, when the judge ruled the watchdog group CREW did not have standing. On Wednesday, CBS News reported as communication director Hope Hicks prepares to leave the White House, the
communication department is filled with chaos and in-fighting. Staffers are reportedly unsure what to expect “
in a lawless White House,” noting Trump thrives on chaos and resents authority, process and order. Hicks’ last day of work was Wednesday. As Wednesday came to a close, even though Hicks resigned in
Week 68, Trump had yet to name an interim communication director. On Wednesday,
Trump hired 22 year-old Disney star Caroline Sunshine to join the White House communications team as a press assistant. Sunshine has no prior relevant experience in communications.
Trump is reportedly being told by outside advisers that the doesn’t need a communications or chief of staff. Trump is frustrated at the management structure in the West Wing, believing it doesn’t suit his freewheeling style. On Thursday,
Bloomberg reported John Kelly is losing some clout in Trump’s White House as he has been out of the decision making process on several occasions recently, including the firing of H.R. McMaster in Week 71. Kelly is also now
rarely on the line when Trump speaks with foreign leaders, including Trump’s recent call with Putin. Aides say recently Kelly is less aware of what’s on Trump’s mind and what he’s planning to do next, On Wednesday Trump
fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and hopes to replace him with the White House doctor Ronny Jackson, a White House physician and rear admiral in the Navy. Trump announced his nomination
via Twitter. Jackson has no experience running a bureaucratic institution, and would inherit an agency with major problems and quickly face crucial, multibillion-dollar decisions. On an op-ed Wednesday,
Shulkin said he was fired so Trump could privatize the VA and turn into a money making operation for his friends, warning they would put their personal agendas in front of the well-being of our veterans. On Friday, Shulkin told MSNBC
he spoken to Trump hours before he was fired, and Trump didn’t mention his imminent firing. Shulkin said he was informed by Kelly of his firing shortly before Trump’s tweet.
Trump had considered “Fox & Friends Weekend” co-host Pete Hegseth for the position of VA Secretary, but reportedly Hegseth, who has had issues in his personal life, did not want to go through the confirmation process. Defense Secretary James Mattis is finding himself
more isolated in the administration after Trump appointed the aggressive hawks John Bolton to national security adviser and Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State.
WAPO reported Trump’s Presidential Personnel Office (PPO), the office responsible for recruiting and vetting thousands of political appointees, is hobbled by inexperience and being short-staffed.
New York City, February 2108.
PPO is responsible for recruiting and vetting candidates for more than 4,000 jobs, more than 1,200 requiring Senate approval.
The office has just 30 employees, less than a third of prior administrations. Six of the staffers over the age of 35 left shortly after Trump took office.
Most staffers are in their 20s and have not relevant experience but worked on the Trump campaign. The PPO floor has become a social hub. On Monday,
the US and 14 European Union members expelled scores of Russian diplomats in response to Russia’s alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.
Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russians, including 12 people identified as Russian intelligence officers who have been stationed at the United Nations, as well as closing the Russian consulate in Seattle. On Thursday,
the Kremlin ordered an equivalent number of expulsions, as well as the closing of the American Consulate in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, citing an “anti-Russian campaign” orchestrated by the US and UK. On Thursday, NBC News reported that when Trump finally signed off on providing US weapons to Ukraine to help in their fight against Russian-backed separatists,
Trump told aides not to talk about it publicly. Reportedly, Trump was
concerned speaking about it publicly may agitate Putin. However officials claim in Trump’s phone call to congratulate Putin, he also said, “If you want to have an arms race we can do that, but I’ll win.” On Friday,
Russia released a video of a missile test for ‘Satan 2,’ its new intercontinental ballistic missile. Sputnik claimed the missile is “capable of striking targets both via the North and South Poles.” On Wednesday,
Axios reported that, according to inside sources, Trump is “obsessed with Amazon” and wants “to go after Amazon with antitrust or competition law.” Amazon’s owner, Jeff Bezos,
owns about Amazon’s impact on their shopping mall holdings. The Washington Post — a media outlet frequently attacked by Trump. Reportedly, Trump’s friends in real estate are also upset On Wednesday,
Amazon stock dropped more than 4%, wiping out more than $31 billion in shareholder value, and was down 6% for the week. On Thursday, Trump
tweeted attacks on Amazon: “Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy,” and “Amazon is doing great damage to tax paying retailers.” On Saturday,
Trump was again tweeting about Amazon, calling the company a “scam” and falsely claiming the post offices loses “Billions of Dollars” because of Amazon. At a speech at Yale, after joking he wasn’t going to talk about the 2016 election, saying “I’m still in therapy,”
Jeb Bush attacked Trump as “Republican in basically name only,” adding he goes home to children who “actually love me.”
Eric and Donald Jr. took to Twitter to fire back at Bush, with Donald Jr. tweeting, Trump learned enough about politics in a few weeks to “dismantle you piece by piece despite it being your life’s work.” On Thursday, in what was
billed as an infrastructure event before a crowd of union builders in Richfield, Ohio, Trump instead turned it into stream of consciousness-type of campaign rally-style speech. Trump harped on his Mexico wall, while
comparing the border to the “demilitarized zone between North and South Korea,” adding “But our own border, we don’t take care of it. Think of it.” Trump
mocked Obama for leaving so many judicial posts vacant, ignoring the Republican-controlled Senate for two years, “When I got in, we had over 100 federal judges that weren’t appointed…Why the hell did he leave that?” Trump also
dismissed the country’s community colleges saying, “We do not know what a ‘community college’ means,” saying “call it vocational and technical,” indicating he didn’t know the difference between the two.
Trump also said the US will end its military presence in Syria “very soon,” contradicting statements by his new SoS Pompeo and his incoming national security John Bolton, who have both said US troops should stay there for the foreseeable future.
Trump also touched on random topics including the firing of Shulkin, North Korea, and complimented the success of his supporter Roseanne Barr’s reboot of her sitcom, “Look at Roseanne — look at her ratings.” On Friday, Roseanne tweeted, “Trump has freed so many children held in bondage to pimps all over this world. Hundreds each month.” This pro-Trump
conspiracy theory originated with QAnon, a user on the anonymous message board 4chan. On Thursday,
Andrew McCabe set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for his legal fees. In the first 24 hours, McCabe raised close to half a million dollars. On Thursday,
Sessions rebuffed a call by Republicans to appoint a second special counsel to look into the FBI’s handling of its most high profile probes, saying such appointments occur only in “extraordinary circumstances.” Sessions revealed
he instead has named US Attorney John Huber to look into these topics, including the DOJ’s and FBI’s actions in 2016 and 2017, and several matters related to Hillary Clinton and her family’s foundation. On Friday, after apologizing for mocking Parkland student David Hogg, and
losing 14 of her show’s sponsors, Fox News host Laura Ingraham announced on her show that she would be taking a break being on-air. Despite being accused by at least 15 women of sexual misconduct, several of which are currently live cases,
Trump issued a proclamation Friday designating April National Sexual Assault Awareness month.
New York City, February 2018.
Week 71 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
March 24, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-71-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-e56ab486d504
This week Cambridge Analytica became a full-blown UK and US scandal, as the company came under scrutiny for harvesting the data of 50 million Facebook users and using it to impact the 2016 US election, possibly in cooperation with Russia. British authorities raided the company late Friday, while back home, Facebook faced a backlash from users and Congress for mishandling the security of personal information and for the company’s flat-footed and weak response to the crisis.
This week After losing his national security advisor and lead attorney in the Mueller probe, Trump is leaving positions unfilled or filling them with sycophants and cable-tv personalities. This week, Trump heightened his attacks on Mueller, as he has shifted to a more aggressive stance in all matters, including the Russia probe. Trump is increasingly ruling as a party of one, making decisions and taking actions on his own, without consultation or planning. Trump is in danger from several looming threats including the Mueller probe, fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and women coming forward to tell their stories.
Jacksonville, FL February 2018. Artist: Tommy Amgdn
On Saturday, Axios reported Andrew McCabe met with Mueller’s team, and turned over memos, including information that will corroborate James Comey’s account of his firing by Trump.
On Saturday and Sunday, Trump sent a series of error-filled tweets blasting the Russia probe and familiar targets like Comey and Hillary Clinton, and for the first time, directly attacking Mueller.
As he had hours after the firing, Trump again attacking McCabe with false claims, “How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife’s campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M,” adding “Comey knew it all.”
Trump also tweeted “The Mueller probe should never have been started,” saying there was “no collusion and there was no crime.” This is false. Four Trump aides and 13 Russians have been charged with crimes.
Trump tweeted the investigation was based on a “Fake Dossier paid for by Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!” This is also false.
Trump tweeted, “House Intelligence Committee has concluded, there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign.” This is not true. Trump also accused Comey of lying under oath to Senators.
Trump complained that Mueller’s team has “13 hardened Democrats,” and “Zero Republicans.” Both Mueller and Rod Rosenstein are Republicans, and federal regulation prohibits the Department of Justice from considering political affiliation.
On Monday, Trump plugged Hannity, “.@seanhannity on @foxandfriends now! Great! 8:18 A.M.” Hannity told “Fox & Friends” he expects “criminal charges” against McCabe, and that Trump will not fire Mueller.
On Monday, Mississippi’s governor signed into law an abortion ban at 15 weeks, the earliest abortion ban in the country. On Tuesday, a federal judge temporarily blocked the ban.
On Tuesday, Trump ally Rep. Louie Gohmert introduced a resolution in the House which would declare March 31st, Cesar Chavez’s birthday, “National Border Control Day.”
On Tuesday, NPR reported Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services, created a new division, the Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom, saying religious freedom is “the first freedom.”
On Friday evening, the White House announced a policy to ban most transgender individuals, including those requiring medications and surgery, from serving in the military.
According to press secretary Sarah Sanders, unlike Trump’s July 2017 tweet which occurred without foresight or planning, the new policy was “developed through extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders, including combat veterans.”
On Tuesday, as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos prepared to go before Congress, NYT reported she had withheld vital information from her staff on the department’s budget for the fiscal year that begins in October.
DeVos’s budget calls for a 5% spending cut, including eliminating dozens of programs, and pitches a $1 billion school choice proposal. Information driving budget decisions was omitted from materials given to Congress.
Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters quit as a Fox News analyst, saying the cable-tv network had degenerated into a “propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration,” adding, “now I am ashamed.”
On Wednesday, Trump’s golf club in Westchester County, New York petitioned the Department of Labor to use the federal H-2 visa program to bring in foreign workers to serve as waiters, waitresses, and cooks.
AP reported EPA administrator Scott Pruitt spent more than $120,000 in public funds last summer for a trip to Italy that included a meeting with G-7 ministers and a private tour of the Vatican. Pruitt’s security detail cost more than $30,500.
On Wednesday, Politico reported Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his wife took a security detail on their vacation to Greece and Turkey last year. Unlike Pruitt, Zinke was not conducting government business on his two-week vacation.
On Tuesday, a filing by the Republican National Committee showed the committee spent $271,000 at Trump private businesses in February, and 86% of expenses were categorized as “venue rental and catering.”
CNBC reported the RNC spent a total of $424,000 in the first two months of 2018, more than 100 times what the committee spent at Trump’s properties during the same two-month period in 2017.
On Saturday, NYT reported despite CEO Alexander Nix telling the UK Parliament, “We’ve never worked in Russia,” employees of Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group had contact with Russian oil giant Lukoil in 2014 and 2015.
According to two former employees, there were at least three meetings with Lukoil executives in London and Turkey, and Lukoil was interested in how data was used to target American voters.
Lukoil is not state-owned, but depends on Kremlin support, and its CEO has met with Putin on numerous occasions. The company has been used as a vehicle of government influence, and is on the US sanctions list.
On Saturday, The Observer reported Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge University academic who harvested Facebook data, had a previously undisclosed teaching position and grants from a Russian university.
On Sunday, a shocking exposé in The Guardian told the story of Christopher Wylie, and his role as an employee at Cambridge Analytica, where he used data hacked from Facebook to influence to target the US electorate.
The story also detailed Wylie’s meetings with Steve Bannon in 2013, who then booked him to meet with Robert and Rebekah Mercer. Wylie, who says he “made Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool,” is now a whistleblower.
On Monday, UK’s Channel 4 News broadcast an undercover investigation of Cambridge Analytica taped between November 2017 and January 2018 at various meeting with senior company officials, including CEO Nix.
In the tapes, Cambridge Analytica executives explain harvesting damaging material on opponents and spreading it through social media, as well as using bribes, ex-spies, fake IDs, and sex workers to influence elections.
On Monday evening, Elizabeth Denham, the UK Information Commissioner, said her office is applying for a warrant to raid the offices of Cambridge Analytica and seize their servers.
Facebook’s forensics investigators, firm Stroz Friedberg, were at Cambridge Analytica’s offices Monday night were told by Facebook to “stand down” at the request of the Information Commissioner’s Office.
On Monday, the European Commission said its region’s data protection authorities will investigate Facebook’s sharing of data with Cambridge Analytica as a possible breach of data protection laws.
The European Commission’s Justice commissioner, Vera Jourova, said she will raise the issue with in Washington DC this week during her scheduled meetings with Jeff Sessions and Wilbur Ross on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Cambridge Analytica suspended its CEO Nix and launched an independent investigation to determine if the company engaged in any wrongdoing. Nix was set to arrive from London to the US on Tuesday.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Cambridge Analytica said its political division did not use Facebook data. The company also said the Channel 4 video “edited and scripted to grossly misrepresent” the conversations.
On Monday, Wylie, told “The Today Show” that while he was at Cambridge Analytica, the company met with Trump’s campaign manager at the time, Corey Lewandowski.
On Tuesday, WAPO reported Wylie also said Bannon oversaw Cambridge Analytica’s early efforts in 2014 to collect data to build detailed profiles on millions of American voters ahead of the 2016 election.
Bannon served as vice president and secretary from June 2014 to August 2016, when he joined the Trump campaign. Bannon okayed the $1 million expenditure to acquire the data, including Facebook profiles, in 2014.
Bannon tested the messages “ drain the swamp” and “deep state.” The company also tested views on Putin. Wylie added, “there’s a lot of Americans who really like this idea of a really strong authoritarian leader.”
Wylie noted Trump started to utilize those terms in his stump speeches once Bannon joined the campaign. Wylie also fears the Facebook data was turned over to Russians who aimed to interfere with the US election.
Facebook staffers were set to brief several congressional committees, including House Energy and Commerce, Senate and House Intelligence, and Senate and House Judiciary. Democrats want hear from CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
On Wednesday, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg broke his silence with a post on Facebook saying the company made “mistakes” and outlined how it has changed its policies to make sure that user data is protected.
Later that day in his first tv-interview, Zuckerberg told CNN, “I’m really sorry that this happened,” and said he’d “be happy” to testify. Both House and Senate committees have requested his testimony.
On Wednesday, Aleksandr Kogan said he was being used as a “scapegoat.” He told BBC he was approached by Cambridge Analytica, and that all the information he provided was obtained legitimately.
On Wednesday, AP reported that company filings show Cambridge Analytica has a link to a Chinese security and logistics company run by Erik Prince.
On Friday, The Guardian reported the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) was granted a warrant to examine the records of Cambridge Analytica. Investigators completed a seven-hour search at 3 a.m. Saturday.
On Friday, a leaked 27-page Cambridge Analytica internal memo obtained by The Guardian claimed the company won the White House for Trump by using Google, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
On Monday, Trump hired Joseph diGenova for his legal team in the Mueller probe. A former United States attorney, diGenova is expected to usher in more aggressive and less cooperative stance with Mueller.
Mr. diGenova is a frequent guest on Fox News, where he espouses a conspiracy theory that a group of people in the FBI and DOJ were trying to “frame Donald Trump” by concocting the Russia probe.
On Monday, WAPO reported Trump’s team has turned over to Mueller written descriptions that chronicle key moments in hopes of avoiding a prolonged interview, and limiting the scope of what would be discussed.
Trump has told aides he is “chomping at the bit” to be interviewed by Mueller’s team, but his lawyers, especially after his attacks on Twitter, are trying to limit the in-person exposure.
On Monday, WAPO reported that diGenova’s hire caught many Trump advisers by surprise, prompting fears Trump is planning a shake-up. Trump continues to complain his lawyers and are not protecting him.
Trump is also not consulting with top advisers, including chief of staff John Kelly and chief White House attorney Don McGahn, on his comments about the probe. Reportedly, he is instead watching television and calling friends.
On Monday, NYT reported Trump is considering reshuffling his legal team. including firing Ty Cobb, who has advocated for cooperating with Mueller. Trump is also discussing adding additional lawyers to the team.
On Monday, NYT reported John Dowd is considering resigning from Trump’s legal team, fearing he has no control of Trump’s behavior, especially recently when Trump has gone on an aggressive attack of Mueller himself.
On Tuesday, WAPO reported Trump reached out to Theodore Olson, a former solicitor general to George W. Bush and seasoned litigator, to join his legal team. Olson declined.
On Thursday, Dowd resigned as Trump’ lead lawyer in the Mueller probe. Reportedly, Trump broke with Dowd on whether he should agree to be questioned by Mueller’s team.
Dowd has also said Trump has ignored his advice, including tweeting about Mueller and other topics hours about Dowd told him not to. Dowd was also “blindsided” that Trump was interviewing other candidates.
Shortly after Dowd resigned, Trump said he would like to clear his name by testifying. With Dowd gone, Trump is likely to adopt a more aggressive stance against Mueller.
On Thursday, WAPO reported Trump is having trouble finding top-notch lawyers to represent him in the Mueller probe. Several prominent white-collar lawyers have, like Olson and Emmet Flood, turned down offers.
Some law firms have signaled they don’t want the controversy of representing a unpopular and divisive leader, while others are claiming they have clients with conflicting interest.
On Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Flake said he would support impeachment proceedings against Trump as a “remedy” if Trump moves to end the Mueller probe before it is completed “without cause.”
On Wednesday, Trump kept up his attacks of Mueller, sending a series of typo-ridden tweets including, “I think President Trump was right when he said there never should have been a Special Council appointed.”
Reuters reported three sources who have spoken to Mueller’s team contradicted Sessions’ testimony he “pushed back” against the proposalmade by George Papadopoulos at a March 2016 meeting to meet with Russians.
On Tuesday at a news conference, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan list of a half-dozen recommendations for state and federal government to improve election security.
Chairman Richard Burr said the committee is completing work on four core topics: election security, the intelligence community’s assessment of Russian meddling, the Obama administration’s response in 2016, and social media.
Burr also said the committee would try to come to a conclusion about where the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. The bipartisan functioning put his committee in stark contrast to the House Intelligence Committee.
On Wednesday, Department of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former department head Jeh Johnson testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the government’s response to Russian hacking and what was being done to protect us going forward.
Senators from both parties knocked the Trump regime for not working quickly enough before the upcoming midterms, and also questioned missteps by the Obama administration for the 2016 election.
Senators from both parties complained about the lack of urgency of state election officials getting security clearance to prepare for midterms: Nielsen said only 20 of 150 have cleared.
On Thursday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to end their Russia probe, saying contacts between Trump associates and Russia feel short of collusion, saying contacts did not amount to active cooperation.
The committee’s report recommended dramatic new steps to crack down on intelligence leaks, including administering “mandatory polygraphs” and stiffening legal penalties for leaking classified information.
The report also accused Obama’s DNI James Clapper, an outspoken critic of Trump and the regime, of providing “inconsistent testimony” about his contacts with the media.
On Friday, Trump tweeted just his delight about the finding, citing no collusion, and “The Obama Administrations Post election response was insufficient.” Trump also started targeting Clapper.
Russia-state news agency RT also tweeted about committee’s finding: “No collusion: ‘We disagree with narrative that Russians were trying to help #Trump’ — House Intelligence Committee”
Democratic-aligned group Center for American Progress prepared a report showing the Republicans had either no or incomplete information about 81 percent of the known contacts between Trump associates and Russia.
The Center for American Progress report documents at least 70 contacts, including at least 22 high-ranking Trump campaign officials who knew about the contacts during the 2016 campaign and the transition.
Daily Beast reported Guccifer 2.0, the hacker who took credit with providing WikiLeaks emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, was an officer in Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU).
Trump’s close ally, Roger Stone, admitted to being in direct touch with Guccifer 2.0 during the campaign. Mueller’s team has taken over the investigation of Guccifer 2.0.
Using IP addresses, investigators identified Guccifer 2.0 as a particular GRU officer working out of the agency’s headquarters in Moscow. Hacking organization “Fancy Bear” has also been traced to the GRU.
On Friday, AP reported Mueller is examining the connections between the Trump campaign and Cambridge Analytica. Mueller’s team has asked former staffers about the Trump campaign’s data operations.
Reportedly, Mueller’s team is interested in how the Trump campaign collected and utilized voter data in battleground states.
Mueller is also asking members of Trump’s data team, which included analysts from the RNC, about its relationship with Cambridge Analytica, for which the campaign paid just under $6 million in 2016.
Cambridge Analytica made several approaches to the Trump campaign starting in the spring of 2015 before Trump launched his campaign. The Trump campaign’s first payment of $100,000 came in July 2016.
On Friday, WAPO reported that when a Russian news agency reached out to Papadopoulos in September 2016 election for an interview, he was told by deputy communications director Bryan Lanza, “You should do it.”
Emails described to WAPO indicate Papadopoulos had much more extensive contact with the Trump campaign and transition team, including Bannon and Michael Flynn, than has been publicly acknowledged.
On Monday, WAPO reported Charles Kushner, Jared’s father, confirmed meeting with Qatar’s finance minister three months after Trump took office, and said he turned down possible funding to avoid questions of conflict of interest.
On Monday, AP reported Kushner Cos. routinely filed false paperwork with New York City, declaring the company had no rent-regulated tenants in dozens of buildings across the city, when it actually had hundreds.
In 2015, Kushner Cos. bought three apartment building in a gentrifying area of Queens and turned a 50% profit selling two years later by doing away with rent protections, raising rents, and pushing tenants out.
On Wednesday, AP reported the New York City’s buildings regulator launched an investigation into more than a dozen Kushner Cos. properties for filing false paperwork claiming it had zero rent-regulated tenants.
On Wednesday, NYT reported UAE political adviser George Nader worked more than a year to turn top Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy into an instrument of influence at the White House for the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Nader’s cultivation of Broidy included the prospect of being awarded huge contracts for his private security company. Nader also paid Broidy $2.7 million for “consulting, marketing and other advisory services rendered,”
Nader and Broidy both pushed for the firing of Rex Tillerson, backed confrontational approaches to Iran and Qatar, and pushed for a private meeting between Trump and the rule of the UAE outside the White House.
Nader is the first witness in the Mueller probe to be granted immunity for his cooperation. Sources say Nader’s relationship with Broidy may offer clues as to the direction of the inquiry.
On Wednesday, Intercept reported the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman boasted he has Kushner “in his pocket.” In later October 2017, Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh, spending several nights with the crown prince.
On November 4, 2017 the crown prince launched an anti-corruption crackdown, arresting dozens of members of the Saudi royal family and imprisoning them at the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh.
Reportedly, the Saudi figures named in the President’s Daily Brief, said to be critics of the crown prince, were among those rounded up, including at least one who was reportedly tortured.
On Wednesday, Trump hosted the Saudi Crown Prince in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Of the 20 attendees — 10 from Saudi Arabia and 10 US — none were women.
On Wednesday, WSJ reported federal prosecutors have dropped charges against 11 of the 15 bodyguards for Turkey’s Erdogan who were accused of beating protesters outside the Turkish Embassy in DC in Week 27.
Seven of the charges were dropped on February 14, 2018, the day before Tillerson flew to Ankara for a meeting with Erdogan to ease tensions. US officials said no one pressured prosecutors to drop charges.
On Wednesday, Citigroup said in a letter its loan to the Kushner Cos. was “completely appropriate,” despite the loan closing on March 31, 2017, less than a month after the bank’s CEO met with Kushner at the White House.
The letter from Citigroup was in response to questions by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings and other Democrats. The bank wrote, “The Kushner family has been a client of Citi for decades.”
On Wednesday, retired four-star general Barry McCaffrey called it “simply outrageous” that Kushner, who has no relevant experience but has ties to family business dealings is a leading representative of US foreign policy.
On Sunday, WAPO reported in the early months of Trump taking office, senior White House staffers were asked to sign a nondisclosure agreementbecause Trump was upset about leaks.
Reportedly Reince Priebus and McGahn both complied, knowing the agreement ultimately would not be enforceable. The agreement was similar to one Trump campaign staffers were forced to sign.
On Wednesday, CNN reported senior White House officials did sign nondisclosure agreements. Trump was advised the agreements weren’t feasible for federal government employees and couldn’t be enforced.
Ivanka and Jason Greenblatt, a former lawyer for the Trump Organization, supported the idea of the agreements. Eventually, McGahn relented and drafted a watered-down, unenforceable version of an agreement.
News broke of a second Trump insider getting divorced in two weeks: White House aide Dan Scavino’s wife filed for divorce in mid-January.
A bipartisan overhaul of Congress’ sexual misconduct system that was speeding along will not be attached a must-pass government spending bill this week, perhaps ending momentum for the harassment reform plan.
Trump again pushed Republicans to change longstanding rules in the Senate in order to speed along his nominees, arguing for putting an end to 60 votes needed to invoke cloture.
On Tuesday, the Kremlin was the first to report Trump called Putin to congratulate him on his re-election. Trump confirmed a “very good call” with Putin, and said the two would meet in the “not too distant future.”
Trump also did not mention Russia’s meddling in the US election, instead focusing on “shared interests,” including North Korea and Ukraine, overruling his national security advisers.
On Tuesday, WAPO reported Trump ignored specific warnings from his national security advisers for his call with Putin, including a section in his briefing materials which read, “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.”
Trump also disregarded instructions to condemn Putin for the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK using nerve gas. Aside from the call, Trump has also yet to forcefully call out the attack.
Trump saying “probably we’ll be seeing President Putin in the not-too-distant future,” caught aides by surprise. The two are not scheduled to be in the same country until November for a Group of 20 summit.
Sen. John McCain issued a statement, saying a US leader “does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections.” In Week 23, Trump congratulated Turkey’s Erdogan on passing a referendum to consolidate power. Trump also praised China’s Xi for ending term limits.
On Tuesday, CNN reported Trump was furious over how quickly it leaked that advisers told him not to congratulate Putin, reinforcing his beliefmembers of his national security team are seeking to undermine him.
On Wednesday, according to a White House statement, Trump joined with French President Macron in reiterating “their solidarity with the United Kingdom in the wake of Russia’s use of chemical weapons.”
On Tuesday, WSJ reported that on a February call, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney told Michael Cohen he breached the nondisclosure agreement by publicly saying he paid Clifford $130,000. Cohen said, “I didn’t f — ing breach it!”
Stephanie Clifford underwent a lie detector test. The examiner found there was a more than 99% probability she told the truth when she said she had unprotected sex with Trump in 2006.
On Tuesday, the New York Post reported a Manhattan judge ruled in a first-of-its-kind decision that Trump could not claim immunity through his job, and must face a defamation lawsuit brought by Summer Zervos.
On Tuesday, ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal sued . McDougal alleges Cohen was secretly involved in her talks. The National Enquirer’s parent company AMI to be released from her 2016 hush agreement
McDougal sold her story to AMI, whose owner is a personal friend of Trump, for $150,000, wanting to go public her story about Trump. McDougal said the parameters of the agreement were never clear to her.
On Wednesday, CBS announced that Stephanie Clifford’s “60 Minutes” interview will air on Sunday.
On Thursday, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney demanded the Trump Organization and the two banks involved in the $130,000 payment preserve all records, saying he plans to subpoena them
Attorney Michael Avenatti cited “unmistakable links” between Trump’s company and a secrecy agreement she signed. Avenatti told NBC News, we plan to “uncover the truth about the cover-up and what happened.”
On Wednesday, ABC News reported nearly a year before being fired by Sessions for “lack of candor,” McCabe authorized a criminal probe against Sessions for his lack of candor about his contacts with Russian operatives.
McCabe authorized the probe after letters from Sens. Patrick Leahy and Al Franken from the Senate Judiciary Committee, following Sessions’ senate confirmation hearing in January 2017, in which he said he had not been in touch, nor was he aware of others on the campaign who were, with Russians.
On Wednesday, CNN reported, according to his lawyer, Sessions is not under investigation for perjury for his statements by Mueller’s team.
On Thursday, Bob Goodlatte, a Republican on the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the DOJ for the FBI’s 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton, as well as the internal report that lead to Sessions firing McCabe.
On Friday, in op-ed, McCabe said he learned of his firing after 21-years in the FBI from “a friend called to tell me that CNN was reporting that I had been fired” and read him Sessions’ statement.
On Wednesday, ABC News reported that at a “It’s on Us” rally at University of Miami on Tuesday, Joe Biden told students of Trump, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him,” for disrespecting women.
On Thursday, Trump responded to Biden on Twitter, saying “Crazy Joe Biden…threatens me, for a second time,” adding “he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don’t threaten people Joe!”
On Thursday, H.R. McMaster resigned, saying he had discussed his departure with Trump for several weeks, and questions about his status were casting a shadow over his exchanges with foreign officials.
Trump chose John Bolton as his third National Security Advisor in 14 months. Bolton is an outspoken advocate for military action, and has recently called for action against North Korea and Iran.
On Thursday, NBC News reported Trump is also considering firing Kelly and operating without a formal chief of staff, instead acting as his own chief of staff and having a handful of aides who report directly to him.
On Friday, Foreign Policy reported Bolton is planning a massive shake-up of the National Security Council. Dozens of current White House officials are expected to be removed.
Source say firings will start with getting rid of every Obama holdover. Bolton will also be targeting those of who been disloyal to Trump or are suspected of having leaked to the media.
On Friday, NYT reported Bolton’s political committee, known as The John Bolton Super PAC, first hired Cambridge Analytica in August 2014, while the company was still harvesting Facebook data.
Bolton’s super PAC used the company for two years, paying $1.2 million primarily for “survey research,” and was provided information on “behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging.”
On Friday morning, Trump threatened in a tweet to veto a $1.3 trillion spending bill passed hours earlier by Congress, reportedly furious over the failure of Congress to pay for his wall on the border of Mexico.
On Friday afternoon, Trump told reporters at a news conference by himself that he signed what he called “ this ridiculous situation, but threatened, “I will never sign another bill like this again — I’m not going to do it again.”
Trump continued, disparaging the legislation to reporters, saying “Nobody read it,” adding he only signed it as a matter of national security, “We had no choice but to fund our military,” an angle Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis had reported pushed.
Trump also requested a line-item veto for future government spending bills and demanded an end to the filibuster rule.
On Thursday evening, Karen McDougal told CNN she had a 10 month affair with Trump, after she met him in the summer of 2006, during the filming of “Celebrity Apprentice” at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.
Although a White House schedule released Thursday evening showed the first couple would depart the White House together aboard Marine One, on Friday Melania did not join Trump for the flight.
On Friday, AP reported after six weeks of firings and 14 months on the job, Trump is becoming more confident, bucking the advice of White House staffers and congressional Republicans and going it alone.
Trump has floated to outside advisers a plan to do away with the traditional West Wing power structure, and run the White House with a more free-wheeling atmosphere, like he did with his business.
Reportedly, the sense of apprehension is palpable in the West Wing, where tempers are running short and staffers are considering future employment prospects behind closed doors.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index had their worst week in two years, leaving investors hoping for a Trump respite. Trump unilaterally started a trade war with China without preparation or planning.
On Friday, NYT reported the mood in the White House as “bewildered resignation” as staffers are left with predicting and reacting in real time to Trump’s shifting moods.
NYT also reported Trump is feeling increasingly confident in his own abilities, while feeling embattled by Congress, the Russia investigation, foreign entanglements, a potential trade war, and women from his past speaking out.
On Saturday, Bloomberg reported Trump is considering a National Security Council recommendation to expel dozens of Russian diplomats from the US in response to the nerve-agent poisoning in the UK.
On Saturday, tens of thousands of students converged on DC for “March For Our Lives,” a rally to toughen gun laws. Additional rallies took place in cities and towns around the country.
Artist: Margete Griffin. Jacksonville, FL. February 2018
New York City. February 2018.
New York City. February 2018.
New York City. February 2018.
Week 69 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
March 10, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-69-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-da89823dc88b
Artist: Tee Wat
This week, , taking policy matters into his own hands. After praising China’s President Xi for ending term limits, Trump took controversial actions, imposing tariffs and setting up a meeting with Kim Jong-un — both against his party’s positions, and taken after foregoing or ignoring experts’ and allies’ advice. Trump acted like a dictator
Amid record turnover, Trump’s inner-circle continues to shrink, which is likely to continue as Trump reportedly tells friends the White House problems come from those around him, not him. With almost one-third of key roles in the executive branch key roles remaining unfilled, and many senior White House roles vacated, increasingly power and control lies in the hands of Trump alone, while the legislative branch remains largely compliant.
Despite Trump’s success in taking back the narrative this week by diverting media attention with the shiny coins of tariffs and a North Korea meeting, trouble lies ahead. This week a new cooperating witness was reported in the intensifying Mueller probe, and the Stormy Daniels story entered potentially dangerous legal territory for Trump and Michael Cohen.
On Saturday, WAPO reported on the air of anxiety and volatility inside the White House as Trump rages. White House officials say these are darkest days in at least half a year, with one adding, “We haven’t bottomed out.”
Retired four-star Army general Barry McCaffrey warned the American people and especially Congress should be alarmed, saying Trump is “starting to wobble in his emotional stability and this is not going to end well.”
On Saturday, CNN obtained a recording of a closed-door campaign fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago that evening. Trump complained that his campaign was still under scrutiny while Hillary’s is not, blaming a “rigged system” that doesn’t have the “right people” in place to fix it.
Trump called the Iraq invasion “the single worst decision ever made,” criticizing George W. Bush, “That was Bush. Another real genius,” as well as US intelligence: “Great intelligence agency there.”
Trump praised China’s President Xi, who in Week 68, did away with term limits, saying “He’s now president for life. President for life,” adding, “I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”
On Monday, NY Post reported a New Jersey Transit worker made an announcement on a Manhattan-bound train warning passengers that ICE agents were on board “looking for illegals.” The worker was suspended.
On Monday, fights broke out and police made arrests as white supremacists clashed with protesters ahead of Richard Spencer delivering a speech at Michigan State University to what was reportedly a tiny crowd.
AP reported Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services issued new guidelines and priorities for $260 million of Title X grant applications, giving preference to groups that stress abstinence at the expense of reproductive health organizations.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists called it turning “back the clock on women’s health,” and others noted the regime’s continued practice of shifting away from science to unscientific ideologies.
On Thursday, Mississippi legislature passed a ban on abortion after 15 weeks, the nation’s most restrictive abortion bill. The bill will now head to the governor, who has publicly said he will sign it.
Des Moines Register reported the Iowa Senate approved a ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The ban will now move to the state’s House of Representatives where its outcome is uncertain.
Alejandra Pablos, a 32-year-old prominent reproductive justice activist, was detained by ICE while traveling to Phoenix from Virginia this week to check in with immigration officials, necessitated by a DUI three years ago.
Pablos will be held in a detention center outside Tucson until her December court date. The Supreme Court ruled in Week 68 that people being held for deportation are not entitled to a bond hearing.
On Friday, the ACLU filed a class-action suit against the Trump regime, accusing it of broadly separating immigrant families seeking asylum. The lawsuit follows a case in Week 68 of ICE separating a Congolese woman from her 7-year-old daughter.
Trump’s DHS has not announced a formal policy to separate adults seeking asylum from their children, but the regime has said they are considering doing this broadly to discourage asylum seekers from coming to the US.
Dallas Morning News reported that Stacy Bailey, a popular art teacher at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School in Mansfield, was suspended for asking that LGBTQ language be added to school district’s policy.
WAPO reported on a nationwide analysis issued by California’s insurance marketplace which found premiums for ACA health insurance plans could rise by 35–94% around the country in the next three years.
In a Fish and Wildlife Service memorandum quietly issued by the Trump regime last Thursday, the regime said it will now consider elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe and Zambia on a case-by-case basis.
In South Cumberland Elementary School, 100 miles east of Nashville, a mural depicting a lynching was removed from the gymnasium wall after months of calls and emails to the superintendent and the school board.
On Monday, California-based cartoonist Matt Furie, who created Pepe the Frog, sued website Infowars for selling a poster using the character alongside Alex Jones, Trump, Milo Yiannopoulos, and other right-wing figures.
HuffPost reported Ben Carson changed the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s mission statement, deleting a reference to protecting consumers, and removing the mandate to “build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.”
On Monday, a federal judge declined a request from the state of California to immediately stop enforcement of a key part of the Trump regime’s policy to punish sanctuary cities for protecting undocumented immigrants.
On Tuesday, Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice sued the state of California and two top state officials for impeding immigration enforcement, citing the Constitution gives the government sweeping authority over immigration.
Sessions’ DOJ claims California is blocking enforcement efforts by DHS. Tuesday evening, Gov. Jerry Brown responded calling the federal lawsuit a political stunt and “SAD!”
On Sunday, NYT reported Rex Tillerson’s State Department has yet to spend any of $120 million it was allocated since late 2016 to counter Russia’s efforts to meddle in elections and sow distrust in democracy.
None of the 23 analysts in the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, tasked with countering Moscow’s disinformation, speak Russian. A hiring freeze has hindered bringing on computer experts to track Russian efforts.
Tillerson continues to focus on drastically shrinking the State Department. Last year, the department spent just 79% of the money allocated by Congress, the lowest in 15 years.
Axios reported VA secretary David Shulkin started handling his own media, saying Trump appointees in his agency are conspiring to undermine him. Shulkin also told Politico he has the green light to “purge” his agency.
On Friday, WAPO reported Shulkin has canceled morning meetings with Trump’s political appointees, gathering instead with only aides he trusts. Shulkin has also placed an armed guard outside his office.
William Otis, a Trump pick for a seat on the US Sentencing Commission, the body that sets policy used to punish federal criminals, has called for abolishing the agency and made racially charged comments about crime.
On Tuesday, AP reported John Konkus, a Republican consultant and key aide to Scott Pruitt, was granted permission by the Environmental Protection Agency to make extra money moonlighting for private clientswhose identities are being kept secret.
The letter detailing the arrangement, which was released to Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, gave Konkus approval to work for at least two clients, whose names were redacted in the letter.
On Tuesday, the US Office of Special Counsel announced Kellyanne Conway had violated the Hatch Act on two cable-TV interviews by “advocating for and against candidates” in last year’s Alabama Senate special election.
OSC special counsel, Henry Kerner, said Conway “impermissibly mixed official government business with political views,” and referred her violation to Trump for “consideration of appropriate disciplinary action.”
On Tuesday, the White House said Conway did not violate the Hatch Act because she “did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate,” rather broadly for people who would support Trump’s agenda.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, called on Trump to take disciplinary action. UN ambassador Nikki Haley and social media director Dan Scavino have also received reprimands or warnings on the Hatch Act.
On Tuesday, Gary Cohn resigned as head of the National Economic Council, saying there was no single factor in his decision, but Trump’s choice to impose tariffs seemed to be the final straw.
On Wednesday, ABC News reported John Kelly has terminated or reassigned several White House staffers for issues related to their security clearances, including at least one staffer who worked in the Office of the First Lady.
In an op-ed John Feeley, US ambassador to Panama resigned “because the traditional core values of the US…have been warped and betrayed.” Feeley said he made a private decision to step down after Charlottesville.
On Wednesday, NPR reported that 13 1/2 months in a record-setting 43% of top-level positions in the Trump White House have seen turnover. After two full years, Obama was at 24% and George W. Bush at 33%.
On Tuesday, during Congressional testimony, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao admitted that Trump personally killed the Gateway project, a plan for a new tunnel between Manhattan and New Jersey, in Week 60.
On Wednesday, Betsy DeVos visited Parkland high school. One student tweeted, “Betsy Devos came to my school, talked to three people, and pet a dog.” DeVos also held a press conference which lasted only eight minutes.
CNN reported on a Sinclair internal memo, branded an “anchor delivered journalistic responsibility message,” telling local TV stations to decry “fake stories” from national news outlets — echoing Trump’s “fake news” claims.
AP reported the Interior Department plans to spend $139,000 to upgrade three sets of double doors in Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office. Zinke’s spokesperson said he was not aware. The contractor at Conquest Solutions hung up on AP.
On Thursday, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short declined to provide the details to the House Oversight Committee on how Rob Porter was permitted to work for the White House with an interim security clearance
On Friday, Rep. Cummings, ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, wrote a letter to Trey Gowdy, chair of the committee, asking that a subpoena be issued to force the White House to turn over the security clearance documents.
On Friday, NYT reported EPA chief Pruitt wanted to host public debates challenging climate change science, but Kelly nixed the idea. Pruitt said Trump has expressed enthusiasm for the idea.
WAPO reported the Trump regime’s Domestic Policy Council and the Department of Justice is studying new policy which would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty for drug dealers.
The regime cites the death penalty as part of their strategy to address the opioid crisis. As per Week 68, Trump has said he admires the Chinese and Filipinos who don’t have drug problem, because “they just kill them.”
On Monday, calling it “Bigger than Watergate,” Trump took to Twitter to blame Obama for launching the Russia probe in order to discredit his campaign “so Crooked H would win.” Trump also tweeted Obama “did NOTHING about Russian meddling.”
On Tuesday, Trump denounced as “ wrong” reporting that his White House is in chaos, tweeting it is a “Fake News narrative,” and his White House has “great Energy!” adding “I still have some people that I want to change.”
On Sunday, Axios reported on a grand jury subpoena sent to a witness by Robert Mueller last month seeking all communications sent and receivedwith Carter Page, Corey Lewandowski, Trump, Hope Hicks, Keith Schiller, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roger Stone, and Steve Bannon from November 1, 2015 to the present.
Trump launched his campaign 4 1/2 months earlier. On Monday, NBC News reported Sam Nunberg was the witness who received the subpoena. Nunberg spent much of Monday making media appearances.
After telling the media Monday that he would defy a subpoena from Mueller, on Tuesday, Nunberg changed course, telling .” AP, “I’m going to end up cooperating with them
On Friday, Nunberg appeared at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC. Nunberg is the first Trump campaign affiliate to appear in front of a grand jury in the Mueller probe and walk through the main entrance.
On Saturday, after spending six hours in front of the grand jury, Nunberg told .” ABC News he now believes the Mueller probe is “warranted,” adding “there’s a lot there
On Monday, a deep dive on Christopher Steele by Jane Mayer in several previously unreported stories. The New Yorker revealed Mayer says Steele’s life “is sort of a mess at this point, thanks to American politics.”
Initially Steele did not know he was doing research for the Clinton campaign. The campaign in turn didn’t know at the time that Steele had gone to the FBI with his findings, or that the FBI opened an investigation.
Mayer reported that the CIA became convinced by the very end of the summer that the Russians were not only interfering, but also trying to help Trump, as Steele had been saying. Obama wanted to issue a bi-partisan public statement but Sen. Mitch McConnell blocked it, saying he would not sign off.
In a second short memo written in November 2016, Steele cites one Russian source who claimed Moscow intervened to block Trump from picking Mitt Romney for his SoS, because Romney would be unfriendly to Russian interests. Steele shared this information with Mueller’s team.
Mayer also reports that Obama and Biden didn’t know about Russian hacking until August 2016, and didn’t know about the dossier until an Oval Office meeting in January 2017.
On Thursday, WSJ reported on analysis which shows that weeks after Trump won the election, Russia-backed online “trolls” flooded social media trying to block Romney from becoming SoS.
The trolls used terms like “two headed snake” and a “globalist puppet” to describe Romney, and promoted a rally outside Trump Tower and helped spread a petition to block Romney from being nominated.
On Monday, the Senate Intelligence Committee investigators said it will question Reddit and Tumblr, amid recent reporting that Internet Research Agency had accounts on both social media platforms during the 2016 election.
On Monday, NYT reported Anastasia Vashukevich, a Belarusian escort, said from jail in Bangkok that she had more than 16 hours of audio recordings that could help shed light on Russian interference in the US election.
Vashukevich said she is close to Oleg Deripaska, and the recordings made in August 2016 feature his discussions about the US presidential election. She said she would turn over the tapes in return for asylum in the US.
ABC News reported Flynn put his Virginia home up for sale to pay his mounting legal fees in the Mueller probe. Flynn’s youngest brother said, “This has been a trying experience. It has been a crucible and it’s not over.”
On Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was grilled by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Trump’s response to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Coats said there are ongoing conversations between Trump and US intelligence agencies.
Coats said, “We assess that Russia is likely to continue to pursue even more aggressive cyber attacks with the intent of degrading our democratic values and weakening our alliances.”
When pressed on what is being done, Coats said that information is classified, and answered Trump “directs me to do my job and my job is to provide the intelligence.”
On Sunday, NYT reported Mueller’s team is focused on George Nader, an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed of the UAE. Last year. Nader was a frequent visitor to Trump’s WH to meet with Bannon and Jared Kushner.
In recent weeks, Mueller’s team has interviewed Nader about possible attempts by the UAE to buy influence by contributing financial support to Trump during the presidential campaign. It is illegal for foreign entities to contribute to campaigns or for campaigns to accept foreign money.
Around Trump’s inauguration, Nader meet with Elliott Broidy, a Republican fund-raiser, whom he later introduced to Prince Mohammed. Broidy lobbied Trump to meet privately “in an informal setting” with Prince Mohammad.
On October 6, 2017 Broidy sent a detailed memorandum to the crown prince and Nader through an encrypted email address about his advocacy for the UAE in his meetings with Trump and others in the White House.
On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported Broidy learned last week that his email accounts used in his capacity as a deputy finance chairman of the RNC and in foreign affairs circles, had been hacked.
Law-enforcement officials have been notified and are investigating. Broidy used his political ties to advance his business interests and those of foreign leaders. All the information will be released soon on “the dark web.”
In 2009, Broidy pleaded guilty to paying nearly $1 million in gifts to officials with close ties to the comptroller overseeing the NY state pension fund in exchange $250 million of public funds to manage and $18 million in management fees.
On Tuesday, NYT reported Nader is cooperating and gave testimony to a grand jury last week. Nader is being questioned by Mueller’s team on the influence of foreign money on Trump’s political activities and about the January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles, which Nader attended.
The Seychelles meeting was arranged by Prince Mohammed between Erik Prince, as a representative of Trump, and Kirill Dmitriev, a Putin ally, and Nader, reportedly per Week 21 to set up back-channel communication.
Shortly after Seychelles, Dmitriev met with Anthony Scaramucci, then an informal advisor to Trump, at Davos. In an interview there with Russia-news agency TASS, Scaramucci criticized Obama’s economic sanctions as ineffective.
On Wednesday, WAPO reported Nader started cooperating with Mueller after he arrived at Dulles airport in mid-January. Nader, who helped organize the Seychelles meeting, has testified in front of a grand jury.
Nader’s testimony was part of Mueller’s effort to gather information which indicated the Seychelles meeting in January 2017 was an effort to establish a back channel between the incoming regime and the Kremlin.
Nader also told Mueller’s team the meeting was set up before the inauguration so a member of the Trump transition could meet with an emissary from Moscow to discuss future relations between the countries.
Erik Prince gave a false statement in his House Intelligence Committee testimony, telling lawmakers the meeting was a chance encounter that was not a planned discussion.
On Wednesday, CNN reported after meeting Nader as he arrived at Dulles with search warrants, the FBI imaged his electronic devices and served him with a subpoena to appear before a grand jury on January 21.
Reportedly Mueller is interested in at least two meetings Nader attended: the December 2016 meeting in New York which the Obama Administration was not notified about, and the Seychelles meeting.
CNN reported there is no indication Nader is suspected of wrongdoing, but his knowledge of these meeting could help investigators understand possible efforts to influence key figures in the administration.
On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham said there should be a second special counsel to investigate Republican’s claims of improper surveillance of Page, saying the DOJ and FBI “got off the rails” by approving the warrant.
On Wednesday, NBC News reported Hicks told the House Intelligence Committee last week that one of her email accounts was hacked, and she could no longer access either her personal or Trump campaign accounts.
On Wednesday, NYT reported that Mueller has learned of two conversations between Trump and key witnesses, Don McGahn and Reince Priebus, to ask them about their testimony in the Russia probe.
In one conversation, Trump told Porter to instruct McGahn to issue a statement denying the January 7 , which reported Trump told McGahn to fire Mueller. McGahn said no, and reminded Trump he did ask that. NYT article
After McGahn would not deny the NYT article, Trump confronted him in the Oval Office in front of Kelly. Trump also asked Priebus in December2017 how his interview with Mueller’s team went, and if they were nice.
Trump lawyers’ advised him to avoid anything that could be construed as interfering. Witnesses and lawyers who learned of the conversationthought they could be problematic and reported them to Mueller.
On Thursday, Manafort was arraigned on 18 tax and fraud charges in a federal court in Virginia. The judge mandated home confinement and that Manafort wear a second GPS monitoring device.
A trial date was set for July 10, ahead of the Washington DC trial which is scheduled to start September 17. Jurors will hear from 20 to 25 witnesses, and the trial is expected to last eight to 10 days.
On Friday, WSJ reported Trump’s lawyers are negotiating with Mueller. One idea is Trump would give an interview in exchange for a deadline to the probe 60 days after the interview.
Trump is pressuring his legal team to bring an end to the probe. Another consideration is reaching agreement on the scope of Trump’s testimony, which his lawyers want to limit to the firings of Flynn and James Comey.
On Friday, WAPO reported Trump was so eager to have Putin attend the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow that he made his first direct outreach in a personal letter, including a personal handwritten note.
Trump also tweeted from the pageant, “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow — if so, will he become my new best friend?”
Trump wrote the letter, which has been turned over to Mueller, at a time he was looking to expand his real estate empire. Mueller’s team has questioned witnesses about the Miss Universe pageant and Trump’s interest in having Putin attend the event.
Mueller is also examining Trump’s relationship with the Agalarovs. Emin Agalarov emailed Donald Jr. in June 2016 to ask if he would like to meet with Natalia Veselnitskaya, which led to the June 9 Trump Tower meeting.
On Tuesday, WAPO reported Mueller’s team has requested documents and interviewed witnesses about incidents involving Cohen over the past several months, including in recent weeks.
Mueller’s team is interested in Cohen’s roles in the discussions around a possible Trump Tower Moscow project, as well as a Russia-friendly peace proposal for Ukraine delivered by a Ukrainian lawmaker to Cohen one week after Trump took office.
On Monday, WSJ reported that First Republic Bank flagged the October 27, 2016 $130,000 payment from Cohen to Stephanie Clifford as suspicious, and reported it to the Treasury Department.
WSJ reported Cohen said he missed two deadlines earlier that month to make the $130,000 payment because he couldn’t get in touch with Trumpin the hectic final days of the campaign to reimburse him for the payment.
WAPO also reported City National Bank, the bank which received the payment on behalf of Clifford launched an internal inquiry about the payment a full year after receiving the funds.
On Tuesday, Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, sued Trump, alleging that since he never signed the non-disclosure agreement, the “hush agreement” in invalid.
In the agreement, Trump is referred to as David Dennison, and Clifford as Peggy Peterson. The agreement and side letter have a DD where Trump was supposed to sign. According to Clifford’s lawyer, he did not.
Clifford’s lawsuit adds credence to the legal complaint filed by Common Cause in Week 67 that the $130,000 payment amounted to an undeclared in-kind contribution to Trump’s presidential campaign.
On Wednesday, NYT reported Trump’s lawyer obtained a restraining order last week in California to prevent Clifford from speaking out about her alleged affair with Trump.
Although Clifford had reached an agreement to keep silent about her affair with Trump, her newly released settlement agreement reveals she did share her story with four people.
One person was adult-film actress Jessica Drake, listed as “Angel Ryan” in the agreement, who is now being represented by Gloria Allred. Others known are Clifford’s manager Gina Rodriguez and Keith Munyan.
Jessica Drake had also accused Trump of sexual misconduct a month before the election. A Trump spokesperson had said that Trump didn’t know the woman and had “no interest in ever knowing her.”
On Wednesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump denied the affair or making the payment himself, and that “there was no knowledge of any payments from the president.”
Sanders said the arbitration was won in Trump’s favor, admitting the nondisclosure agreement exists and directly involves Trump, marking the first time the White House admitted Trump was involved in any way with Daniels.
On Thursday, CNN reported Trump was upset at Sanders over her responses to questions about Clifford, with one source saying Sanders “gave the Stormy Daniels storyline steroids yesterday.”
On Friday, NBC News reported Cohen used his Trump Organization email while negotiating with Clifford and arranging to wire funds for her silence, indicating Cohen may have been acting in an official capacity.
Cohen also used his Trump Organization email account in an email dated October 26 with a representative of First Republic Bank as the funds were being wired.
Experts say the payment to Clifford could be a violation of election law. If Cohen paid out of his own money as stated, and intended to help the campaign, that would be an excessive contribution and illegal.
If Trump paid the $130,000 out of his own funds, he would have had to disclose the payment, otherwise it could be construed as a knowing and willful violation of federal election law, which is a federal crime.
On Monday, the majority owner of the Panama Hotel, Orestes Fintiklis, declared victory as Trump’s name was removed from his hotel, following a Panamanian court order authorizing a change of administration.
WNYC reported Trump ordered new tee markers for his golf courses using with the Presidential Seal. Under federal law, the seal’s use is permitted only for official government business, and misuse can be a crime.
Forbes reported one year after taking office, Trump’s fortune dropped by $400 million to $3.1 billion on Forbes World’s Billionaires list, citing market declines in NYC real estate and Trump’s polarizing personality.
On Thursday, in a federal court filing, a group of former Justice Department officials raised concerns about Trump’s possible interference in the AT&T-Time Warner merger, over his grudge with CNN.
The Young Turks reported King & Spalding, a law firm that has worked on Trump’s real estate concerns, filed a disclosure with the FARA revealing Saudi Arabia paid the firm up to $450,000 for a 30-day period.
The contract was registered with the DOJ on February 21. Five days later, Secretary Rick Perry canceled a scheduled trip to India to instead fly to London to discuss a nuclear cooperation agreement with senior Saudi officials.
On Friday, Trump pardoned Kristian Saucier, a former Navy sailor. Saucier’s lawyer strategically planned to go on Fox News at a time of day Trump watches, and invoked Hillary’s use of a private email server.
On Friday, the Trump Organization said it has donated $151,470 in foreign government profits from its hotels and similar businesses last yearto the US Treasury, but refused to provide any details.
Few public records are available. The DOJ foreign agent records reveal a public relations firm working with the Saudi government spent $270,000 for lodging and catering between Oct. 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, alone.
On Tuesday, the UK government warned Russia of a robust response if the Kremlin is behind the sudden illness of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, both of whom were exposed to an unknown substance Sunday.
On Wednesday, Mark Rowley, head of Counter Terrorism Policing, said a nerve agent was used to try to kill Skripal and his daughter. Both are in critical condition.
On Thursday, The Telegraph reported Skripal has close ties to a security consultant who worked for Steele’s Orbis Business Intelligence, the company that compiled the dossier.
On Friday, Britain deployed 180 special troops to Salisbury. Russia’s Sergei Lavrov dismissed the UK government’s threat of retaliation as propaganda. There was no response from the White House or State Department.
On Wednesday, the EU unveiled an array of tariffs they would place on US goods if Trump follows through with tariffs, adding Trump’s move would put “thousands of European jobs in jeopardy” and would be met with a “proportionate response”
On Wednesday, 107 House Republicans urged Trump to “to take action against China and other unfair trading partners,” but avoid broad tariffs that would hurt jobs, manufacturing and consumers.
On Thursday, a study done by the Council on Foreign Relations found Trump’s steel tariffs could kill up to 40,000 auto jobs by the end of 2019, equal to nearly one-third of the steel workforce.
On Thursday, Trump tweeted that China has been asked to “develop a plan for the year of a One Billion Dollar reduction in their massive Trade Deficit.” The actual trade deficit is $100 billion, not $1 billion.
On Thursday, in defiance of allies, Trump signed an order imposing tariffs on every country except Canada and Mexico. Shortly after, Sen. Jeff Flake he would immediately “draft and introduce legislation to nullify” the tariffs.
On Thursday, a group of 11 countries, including close US allies Japan, Canada, and Australia, signed a revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership without the US. Countries involved with TPP, originally conceived by the US to counter China’s influence, have left the door open for China to join.
On Thursday, during a press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Tillerson said on North Korea, “ In terms of direct talks with the United States, you ask negotiations and we’re a long ways from negotiations.”
On Thursday, at the State Department press briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert said of North Korea, “We are not going to schedule talks about talks or any kind of chat or anything like that at this point.”
Later Thursday, in an unusual breach of protocol, South Korea official Chung Eui-yong, not a US official, announced at the White House that Kim Jong-un had invited Trump to meet for negotiations, and Trump had accepted.
Trump would become the first sitting US leader to meet with a North Korea dictator — an act which will elevate Kim Jong-un on the world stage. Previously, the highest level US official to meet was SoS Madeleine Albright in 2000.
The State Department was not involved in Trump’s decision making. The department’s chief North Korea negotiator, Joseph Yun, recently resigned, and the posts of US ambassador to South Korea and North Korea remain unfilled.
Previously, Trump had said he would start talks with North Korea “only under the right conditions.” Like tariffs, Trump appears to have made the decision to meet impulsively and without consulting experts.
On Friday, WSJ reported late Thursday, Trump interrupted three South Koreans officials as they analyzed an offer to meet with Kim Jong-un and outlined possible diplomatic options, saying “OK, OK, tell them I’ll do it.”
The South Korean officials reportedly looked at each other in disbelief. White House aides, State Department officials, U.S. intelligence officers and others were left scrambling to work out arrangements for a meeting.
On Friday, press secretary Sanders told reporters at the daily press briefing that Trump “will not have the meeting without seeing concrete steps and concrete actions take place by North Korea.”
In a sign of the disarray by Trump’s sudden decision, a White House spokesperson shortly after issued a statement contradicting Sanders, saying, “The invitation has been extended and accepted, and that stands.”
On Friday, Vanity Fair reported Trump has told close friends he is tired of being reined in. Republican sources say Trump believes the problem is the team around him, and he will replace his senior staff in the coming weeks.
Sources say Trump plans to fire Kelly next, adding Cohn wanted the position, but Trump laughed at him. H.R. McMaster, Kushner, and Ivanka could come after according to sources. Trump recently met with John Bolton.
On Friday, CNN reported on a Pentagon memo outlining the initial guidance for Trump’s military parade on Veterans Day. The parade will not include tanks in order to “minimize damage to local infrastructure.”
On the streets of New York City, 2018
Artist: Tee Pop – Miami, FL 2017