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, Trump acted like a dictator, 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.

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.

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.”
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. In South Cumberland Elementary School, 100 miles east of Nashville, amural depicting a lynching was removed from the gymnasium wall after months of calls and emails to the superintendent and the school board.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.”
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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!
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.”
  35. 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.
  36. Rep. Elijah Cummings, ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, called on Trump to take disciplinary action. UN ambassadorNikki Haley and social media director Dan Scavino have also received reprimands or warnings on the Hatch Act.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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%.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. 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
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.”
  50. 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.”
  51. 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.”
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. 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.”
  55. 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.
  56. 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.”
  57. On Monday, a deep dive on Christopher Steele by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker revealed several previously unreported stories. Mayer says Steele’s life “is sort of a mess at this point, thanks to American politics.”
  58. 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.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.
  63. 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.
  64. 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.
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
  67. 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.”
  68. 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.
  69. 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.”
  70. 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.”
  71. 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.
  72. 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.
  73. 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.
  74. 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.
  75. 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.
  76. 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.”
  77. 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.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.
  80. 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.
  81. 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.
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. 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.
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. 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.
  88. 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.
  89. 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.
  90. 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.
  91. In one conversation, Trump told Porter to instruct McGahn to issue a statement denying the January 7 NYT article, which reported Trump told McGahn to fire Mueller. McGahn said no, and reminded Trump he did ask that.
  92. 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.
  93. 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.
  94. 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.
  95. 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.
  96. 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.
  97. 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.
  98. 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.
  99. 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?”
  100. 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.
  101. 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.
  102. 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.
  103. Mueller’s team is interested in Cohen’s roles in the discussions around apossible 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.
  104. 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.
  105. 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.
  106. 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.
  107. 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.
  108. 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.
  109. 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.
  110. 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.
  111. 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.
  112. 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.
  113. 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.”
  114. 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.”
  115. 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.
  116. 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.”
  117. 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.
  118. 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.
  119. 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.
  120. 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.
  121. 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.
  122. 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.
  123. 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.
  124. 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.
  125. 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.
  126. 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.
  127. 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.
  128. 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.
  129. 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.
  130. 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.
  131. 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.
  132. 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.
  133. 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.
  134. 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”
  135. 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.
  136. 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.
  137. 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.
  138. 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.
  139. 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.
  140. 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.”
  141. 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.”
  142. 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.
  143. 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.
  144. 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.
  145. 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.
  146. 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.”
  147. 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.
  148. 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.”
  149. 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.”
  150. 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.
  151. 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.
  152. 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


Week 68 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

March 3, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-68-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-a3c0728c9376

This was Trump’s worst week since taking office. So far.

This week Trump lost loyalist Hope Hicks, and along with the broadening and deepening Trump-Russia probe, Trump became even more unhinged, angry and erratic, deciding by midweek he would ignore all experts and party loyalists and unilaterally act — first on gun control, which he retracted a day later, and then imposing tariffs, again against the counsel of all around him. Also striking out at and threatening to fire or push out almost everybody left in leadership in his shrinking regime, including his son-in-law and daughter, while low and mid-level staffers raced for the exits.

The length of this list will stand testament to what it felt like to live in America this week. Trump’s daily rages and outrageous, puerile, unpredictable behavior have stunned our country and the world. There is almost no aspect of Trump or his White House operating with a semblance of what have been our democratic norms, or a sense of order and balance. Complete, and ongoing meltdown.

Artist: Chip Southworth. Jacksonville, Florida. 26feb18
  1. The Trump campaign used a photo of a 17-year-old Parkland survivor surrounded by her family in a hospital room in an email sent Saturday soliciting donations for the campaign.
  2. On Saturday, at CPAC, columnist Mona Charen criticized the “hypocrites” in the GOP for being silent about sexual harassers and abusers of womenwho are in the party. Charen was booed and had to be escorted out.
  3. On Saturday, tentative plans for Mexican President Peña Nieto to make his first visit to the White House were canceled after a testy call with Trump in which Trump refused to publicly affirm that Mexico won’t pay for his wall.
  4. Roberta Jacobson, US ambassador to Mexico, quit amid tense relations with Trump. Jacobson was one of the most experienced Latin America experts in the State Department, with 31 years of experience in the region.
  5. Numerous colleges sent emails and tweets to students and parents advising high schoolers that getting suspended for being involved in protests on gun control will not hurt them in the admissions process.
  6. On Saturday, House Democrats released a 10-page rebuttal to the Nunes memo, redacted over a two week period by the FBI, countering claims that top FBI and DOJ officials abused their power spying on Carter Page.
  7. The memo said Page was interviewed by the FBI “multiple times about his Russian intelligence contacts” in March 2016, the same month he joined the Trump campaign. The FBI originally took interest in Page in 2013.
  8. The memo also says the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Russian election interference began on July 31, and by September 2016the bureau had numerous “sub-inquiries” into Trump campaign associates
  9. Contrary to the Nunes memo’s accusation, the FBI received the dossier in September 2016, so the dossier played no role in the FBI’s initial probe.
  10. The October 2016 surveillance warrant application against Page, as well as the three subsequent renewals, were approved by federal judges appointed by Republicans. The court knew who paid for the dossier.
  11. The memo also says Russian agents previewed their hack and dissemination of stolen emails to George Papadopoulos. Shortly after, Trump said publicly that Russia would be richly rewarded for releasing the emails.
  12. On Saturday, after the memo was released, Trump took to Twitter, tweeting the Democratic memo is “a total political and legal BUST,” and “FBI did not disclose who the clients were” — which is false.
  13. Trump’s Twitter rant coincided with Fox News programming. He tweeted the Russia investigation is a “Witch Hunt” and parroted a line on Fox News, “Russians had no compromising information on Donald Trump.”
  14. Trump partially quoted a Fox News anchor in a tweet, but omitted five words, changing the meaning: “Congressman [Adam] Schiff, he argues the Republican memo omitted and distorted key facts,” was changed to, “Congressman Schiff omitted and distorted key facts.”
  15. On Saturday evening, Trump made an unscheduled appearance on Jeanine Pirro’s show, calling Democrats sore losers, the memo “a very bad document for their side” and attacking Rep. Schiff, referring him “a bad guy.”’
  16. NYT reported that Sens. Richard Burr and Mark Warner, the chair and top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, demanded a meeting with Speaker Paul Ryan last month after learning Rep. Devin Nunes had leaked Warner’s private texts.
  17. The texts were between Warner and Adam Waldman, a Russian-connected lawyer in an effort to arrange a meeting with Christopher Steele. Fox News, Trump and others used the texts in an effort to discredit Warner in Week 65.
  18. Trump said Saturday he would like a military parade “with a lot of plane flyovers” to be held in Washington DC on Veterans Day, adding we’ll see if we can do it at a “reasonable cost,” but “the generals would love to do it.”
  19. On Sunday, China’s Communist Party abolished term limits, clearing the way for President Xi to stay in power indefinitely. Neither the State Department nor Trump had a statement to this surprising move.
  20. On Sunday, Axios reported Trump talks privately about executing all big drug dealers. According to a source, Trump admires the Chinese and Filipinos who don’t have drug problem, because “they just kill them.”
  21. NYT reported the Norwegian Nobel Committee has uncovered what appears to be two forged nominations of Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. The matter has been referred to the Oslo police for investigation.
  22. On Monday, a new CNN poll found Trump’s approval was down to 35%, matching the low point. Trump’s disapproval stood at 58%.
  23. An AP-NORC poll found 57% of adults think Trump is racist, including more than 8 in 10 blacks and three-quarters of Hispanics.
  24. A report released by the Urban Institute found in 2019 6.4 million fewer Americans will have health insurance as a result of the GOP eliminating the individual health care mandate, and other policy changes by Trump.
  25. On Monday, the ACLU sued the Trump regime for unlawfully separating a Congolese woman from her 7-year-old daughter by holding them in far apart immigration facilities, after they sought asylum four months ago.
  26. On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected the regime’s request to speed up the legal fight over protections for Dreamers, removing some of the urgency for Congress to craft a legislative fix for DACA.
  27. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled immigrants can be held by US immigration officials indefinitely without receiving bond hearings, a blow to immigrant advocates who asked for a six-month maximum period.
  28. BuzzFeed reported Scott Lloyd, head of Trump’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, said under deposition that he does not believe undocumented immigrants have the constitutional right to an abortion “because of their immigration status.”
  29. ProPublica obtained chat logs of Atomwaffen, a white supremacist group, revealing they celebrated the fatal stabbing of a 19-year-old gay and Jewish University of Pennsylvania student Blaze Bernstein by Samuel Woodward, an avowed neo-Nazi.
  30. On Tuesday, a report released by the Anti-Defamation League showed anti-Semitic activity shot up 57% in 2017 (1,986 incidents), the largest single-year increase since the organization started tracking data in the 1970s.
  31. On Monday, in a rebuke to Jeff Sessions, a federal court ruled that a 1964 civil rights law bans workplace discrimination against LGBTQ individuals: “sexual orientation discrimination constitutes a form of discrimination.”
  32. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expressed solidarity in a statement with “Last Men in Aleppo” producer Kareem Abeed, who was denied a visa to attend the Academy Awards due to Trump’s travel ban.
  33. On Tuesday, the faculty at Lehigh University voted to rescind Trump’s honorary degree bestowed on him in 1988. Last October, the Lehigh board was presented a petition signed by 35,000, but took no action.
  34. On Tuesday, NYT reported Housing and Urban Development officials spent $31,000 on a new dining room set for Secretary Ben Carson in late 2017, at the same time as the agency proposed cuts to programs for the homeless, elderly, and poor.
  35. On Thursday, CNN reported Carson plans to cancel the order, saying “I was as surprised as anyone to find out that a $31,000 dining set had been ordered,” adding he will find other options, perhaps used furniture.
  36. On Thursday, Equifax announced an additional 2.4 million customers had their information breached in a hack. In Week 65, acting director Mick Mulvaney said he would pull back on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s investigation of Equifax.
  37. WSJ reported Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked UCLA not to post a video of his recent public appearance where he was repeatedly heckled by students. Marketplace did post the audio and transcript of the event.
  38. On Monday, Politico reported Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency has experienced a surge in open records lawsuits due to lack of transparency: 55 FOIA requests have been filed since Trump took office, compared to 11 in Obama’s final year.
  39. On Monday, Pruitt’s EPA announced a reorganization in which the National Center for Environmental Research, best known for studying the effects of chemicals on children, will no longer exist, but will merge with other groups.
  40. On Tuesday, Trump directed the EPA to roll back the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule, a sweeping clean water rule viewed as one of Obama’s signature environmental legacies.
  41. On Thursday, bowing to widespread criticism, Pruitt said he would fly coach, despite “unprecedented” threats against him. In Week 67, Rep. Trey Gowdy asked Pruitt’s office for waivers that would allow Pruitt to fly first class.
  42. Politico revealed tapes of Pruitt on talk radio in 2005. He dismissed evolution as unproven theory, said majority religions were under attack, and said the Constitution should be amended to ban abortion and gay marriage.
  43. Politico reported former head of the Federal Railroad Administration Heath Hall’s side gig as a public relations consultant was far more extensive than previously reported, including communicating with county officials on PR work and regularly sending invoices.
  44. Axios reported Trump has put his personal pilot, John Dunkin, on the short list to head the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency has a budget of over $16 billion, 45,000 employees, and oversees all US civil aviation.
  45. On Friday, Trump tapped Peter Wright, a corporate lawyer at Dow Chemical since 1999, to run an EPA office which oversees emergency response to hazardous spills and cleanups of the nation’s most toxic sites.
  46. On Monday, in a meeting with national governors, Trump said he would have rushed in to Parkland high school if a shooting was happening, adding “I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon.”
  47. Trump added at the meeting he was misunderstood, and doesn’t want to arm all teachers, rather only the teachers with “natural talent,” comparing it to “hitting a baseball, or hitting a golf ball, or putting.”
  48. WSJ reported the White House legal team is considering ways Trump could testify before Robert Mueller, providing questions are limited in scope and don’t test Trump’s recollections in ways that could trap him into perjuring himself.
  49. NYT reported Mueller’s team has requested and received documents from Skadden on its Ukraine work, beyond Alex van der Zwaan. Skadden also does work for Russian oligarchs and companies with close ties to Putin.
  50. On Tuesday, the Patriot Legal Expense Fund Trust filed paperwork with the IRS and registered in Delaware as a political committee to help defray the legal costs of “eligible persons” involved in the Russia investigation.
  51. Questions remain about the vetting of donors, transparency on contribution amounts, and how the funds will be allocated. WAPO counts at least 48 staffers who have given interviews to Mueller and/or Congress.
  52. ABC News reported Michael Flynn has said he will not accept support from the fund. Flynn will also not accept funds from “Trump, the Trump Organization, or the campaign.” Others have yet to publicly respond.
  53. On Tuesday, in the UK, MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee grilled Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica, over the company’s role in the US election and Brexit. Nix denied any wrongdoing.
  54. On Tuesday, NBC News that reported US intelligence developed substantial evidence that Russia compromised seven states before the 2016 presidential election, but the states were not notified.
  55. Russian breaches of the seven states — Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas, and Wisconsin — range from entry into state websites to penetration of actual voter registration databases.
  56. Not until September 2017, Week 45, did the Department of Homeland Security contact all states, letting 21 of them know they were targeted by Russia and some attacks were successful. The DHS informed them and the media on a Friday evening.
  57. On Tuesday, when asked by Sen. Jack Reed at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, National Security Agency chief Mike Rogers testified he has not been formally asked by Trump to take steps to disrupt Russian election hacking activity.
  58. Rogers added when asked if Russia is seeking to interfere still, “I believe they are attempting to undermine our institutions.” Press secretary Sarah Sanders said there could be action in the “coming weeks and months.”
  59. On Wednesday, CNN reported Mueller’s team has been asking witnesses about Trump’s business activities in Russia in the time prior to his announcement that he would run for president in 2016.
  60. Questions include when Trump became serious about running and how it coincided with his business ventures, centering on the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and discussions to brand a Trump Tower Moscow.
  61. Trump’s lawyers told the Senate Judiciary Committee he made $12.2 million and a “substantial portion” came from the Miss Universe pageant. Mueller also wants to know if Trump’s meetings with Russian government and business could have resulted in possible “kompromat.”
  62. On Wednesday, Reuters reported that regulator New York State Department of Financial Services requested information from Deutsche Bank, Signature Bank, and New York Community Bank on their lending relationships with Jared Kushner.
  63. On Wednesday, NYT reported Kushner’s family real estate got loans from Apollo and Citigroup shortly after executives from those companies met with Kushner at the White House, in his capacity as a White House official.
  64. Apollo lent $184 million in November to refinance a skyscraper in Chicago, triple the size of the average Apollo property loan. Apollo advised the Trump regime on infrastructure and Joshua Harris, a founder of Apollo who met with Kushner, discussed a possible White House position.
  65. Citigroup lent the family and one of its partners $325 million to finance office buildings in Brooklyn. The loan was made in the spring of 2017, shortly after Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat met with Kushner at the White House.
  66. On Friday, AP reported that the SEC dropped its inquiry into Apollo’s loan to Kushner late last year. The SEC declined to comment on why they had halted the investigation.
  67. On Wednesday, NBC News reported Mueller’s team is asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Trump knew in advance Democratic emails had been stolen and that WikiLeaks planned to publish the emails.
  68. Mueller’s team has been questioning on a news conference Trump held on July 27, 2016, days after WikiLeaks began publishing the emails, when he said “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
  69. At this same time, Trump said he said he was open to lifting sanctions on Russia and possibly recognizing its annexation of Crimea in Ukraine, an unusual position for a Republican and not popular with the base.
  70. Witnesses were asked if Trump knew John Podesta had been targeted, if Trump was advised to make the statement about emails from someone outside his campaign, and if Trump tried to coordinate the release to damage Hillary.
  71. Witnesses are also being asked about Roger Stone’s contacts with WikiLeaks during the campaign and if he’s ever met with Julian Assange, and whether this was part of a larger plot.
  72. On Tuesday, The Atlantic revealed a screenshot of private Twitter messages between Stone and WikiLeaks. Stone told the House Intelligence Committee in September he had communicated with WikiLeaks via an “intermediary.”
  73. On Wednesday, in an interview on CNN, Republican Rep. Tom Rooney, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, called for the committee to end its Russia investigation, saying “because I don’t think it’s appropriate.”
  74. On Thursday, Putin unveiled a new array of nuclear-capable weapons which he claimed renders defenses “useless.” Trump has yet to acknowledge or speak out against Russian interference in our election.
  75. Putin also boasted about Russia’s military might with a video which show nuclear warheads raining down on what appears to be an outline of Florida, home of Trump’s winter White House, Mar-a-Lago.
  76. On Thursday, Rick Gates told a federal court that he and his wife believe it’s “not prudent” to travel to Boston with their children for a family vacation after feeling threatened by an online commenter invoking Russian mafia.
  77. The DOJ’s inspector general is expected to criticize former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe for authorizing the disclosure of information about a continuing investigation into Hillary and Obama’s DOJ to journalists, giving Trump further reason to condemn McCabe, even though McCabe’s revelations were not about Trump.
  78. On Wednesday, Paul Manafort was arraigned in Washington DC, where he pleaded not guilty to a revised, five-count indictment. Manafort was set to be arraigned in Alexandria on Friday to 18 new and modified charges, but the hearing was postponed due to weather.
  79. ABC7 in Chicago reported that records relating to Stephen Calk’s $16 million in loans to Manafort described in Week 67 have been subpoenaedby his wife’s attorney in divorce court.
  80. On Thursday, CNN reported FBI counterintelligence officials are investigating Ivanka’s involvement with the negotiations and financingsurrounding Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver.
  81. The development opened in February 2017, just after Trump took office, and was done with Joo Kim Tiah, a member of one of Malaysia’s wealthiest families. It is unclear whether Mueller is interested in this deal.
  82. On Thursday, NBC News reported Mueller is building a case for criminal charges against Russians who hacked and leaked DNC and Podesta emails in order to hurt Democrats in the 2016 election.
  83. The leak of the emails through WikiLeaks was cited by Trump at least 145 times during the campaign. Indictments would delve into the details of, and the people behind, the Russian intelligence operation to hack emails.
  84. On Friday, NBC News reported Mueller’s team is investigating whether Kushner’s business discussions with foreign officials during the transitionshaped White House policies to benefit or retaliate against people he spoke with.
  85. Mueller’s team has asked witnesses about Kushner’s efforts to secure financing for his family’s real estate transactions, and discussions with individuals from Qatar, Turkey, Russia, China, and the UAE.
  86. Kushner’s family reached out to a Qatar sovereign fund about investing in troubled 666 Fifth Avenue. Kushner also held a meeting in December 2016in Trump Tower with the former PM of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim (HBJ).
  87. After talks with the fund and HBJ collapsed, the White House backed a punishing blockade against Qatar lead by Saudi Arabia and UAE. Qatari government officials claim to have evidence of Saudi Arabia and UAE coordinating with Kushner, but have not yet turned it over to Mueller.
  88. Mueller’s team also has reached out for information on Kushner to Turkish nationals through the FBI’s legal attache office in Ankara. It is unclear if Mueller has reached the Turkish nationals, and what is under scrutiny.
  89. On Friday, WAPO reported the payment to Stephanie Clifford took place on October 27, 13 days after the initial deadline after the deal fell apart and then came together again, as more women were coming forward.
  90. That the payment was made just 12 days before the election could impact two complaints filed with the FEC which argue that the payment was intended to influence the election and violated campaign finance law.
  91. NPR reported Russian politician Alexander Torshin has methodically cultivated ties with leaders of the NRA over six years in an effort to leverage those connections and gain deeper access into US politics.
  92. In Week 62, McClatchy reported the NRA had funneled $30 million to the Trump campaign. In a letter to Ron Wyden of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the NRA denied wrongdoing and said the FBI is investigating Torshin, not the NRA.
  93. On Monday, the Trump Organization said it has donated the hotel profits from foreign governments to the US Treasury, but declined to identify the foreign customers or the amounts.
  94. On Monday, when asked about Trump’s sexual misconduct in an interview with NBC News, Ivanka said “I believe my father, I know my father. So I think I have that right as a daughter to believe my father.”
  95. On Monday, Melania parted ways with Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who was working as an unpaid senior adviser to the First Lady, amid backlashon Winston Wolkoff’s $26 million inauguration contract.
  96. On Tuesday, Trump’s White House finally began the process of responding to petitions on their website with over 100,000 signatures. Only a few petitions gained a response including a request not to defund the National Endowment for the Arts.
  97. On a petition with 1.1 million signatures requesting that Trump release his tax returns, the White House answered no, saying “this petition is not within the scope of the Terms of Participation of We the People.”
  98. WAPO reported on lingering questions on how Melania was able to obtain a green card in the elite EB-1 program, typically reserved for the likes of renowned academics, multinational business executives, or Olympians.
  99. Melania was also then in a position to sponsor US residency for her parents. Trump has proposed ending the sponsorship of relatives, tweeting “CHAIN MIGRATION must end now!” saying relatives “can be truly evil.”
  100. On Saturday, AP reported Trump officials were fighting efforts to be physically evicted from the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Pamana they manage. The owner claims the Trump name is hurting business.
  101. Orestes Fintiklis, who owns the property, filed termination notices for Trump management. Witnesses told AP Trump officials were seen carrying files to an office where the sounds of a shredding machine could be heard.
  102. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Panamanian police handcuffed a security guard working for Trump, who was detained for denying officers access to hotel offices. Physical altercations between security guards continued.
  103. The Panamanian Labor Ministry is investigating whether Trump employees have disregarded lawful orders from their employer. Trump and US officials have not made any public statements about the situation.
  104. On Tuesday, breaking a three day silence, Trump tweeted about the Russia investigation, calling it a “WITCH HUNT,” again included commentary from Fox News, and adding Hillary should investigated for “criminality.”
  105. On Tuesday, Trump tapped Brad Parscale, digital media director of his 2016 campaign, to run his re-election bid. The news was first reported by The Drudge Report. Experts noted the announcement came unusually early.
  106. AP reported Parscale sold his company, Giles-Parscale, in August for $9 million to CloudCommerce Inc., which is listed as a penny stock. In 2006, the CEO of CloudCommerce was caught trying to bribe a FBI agent.
  107. On Tuesday, Politico reported White House aides working on the highest-level interim clearances were notified last Friday in a memo that their clearance would be downgraded to the Secret level.
  108. Kushner is among the officials who lost access to Top Secret/SCI-level(sensitive compartmented information) information, who will no longer be able to see presidential daily briefs or have unfettered access.
  109. On Tuesday, WAPO reported four Commerce Department appointees lost their security clearance over issues with background checks. CNN noted the White House chief calligrapher has a higher security clearance than Kushner.
  110. Bloomberg reported more than 30 Trump aides were downgraded to lower-level “secret” interim security clearances. None have yet been asked to leave, but their portfolios on top secret matters will be redistributed.
  111. Sen. Chuck Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for answers from the WH and the FBI on how several of these staffers, including Kushner, had access to the highly classified President’s Daily Brief.
  112. On Tuesday, WAPO reported officials in at least four countries have discussed ways to manipulate Kushner by taking advantage of his complex financial dealings, liquidity issues, and lack of foreign policy experience.
  113. The four countries are the UAE, China, Israel, and Mexico; but it is unclear if any acted on their discussions. Mueller has asked what protocols Kushner used to set up conversations with foreign leaders.
  114. Sources say H.R. McMaster learned that Kushner had contact with foreign officials that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report. White House officials were concerned Kushner was “naive and being tricked.”
  115. McMaster learned about Kushner’s contacts at daily intelligence briefings, where reports of foreign officials talking about their meetings with Kushner and their perceptions of his vulnerabilities were raised.
  116. On Tuesday, Axios reported senior communications official Josh Raffel resigned from the White House. Raffel was a point person internally for Kushner and Ivanka.
  117. Last fall, Raffel was promoted to deputy communications director and worked closely with Hope Hicks. His departure comes as the Muellerprobe intensifies, and Kushner’s security clearance was revoked.
  118. On Tuesday, Hope Hicks spent nine hours behind closed doors testifying before the House Intelligence Committee. Hicks would only answer questions about her time on the campaign, and a limited amount about the transition.
  119. NYT reported that Hicks acknowledged to lawmakers that her work for Trump sometimes requires her to tell “white lies,” but claimed she did not lie to Mueller about the Russia investigation and links to Trump associates.
  120. On Wednesday, Hope Hicks resigned as White House communications director. Hicks was one of Trump’s longest-serving, and one of his most loyal advisers. Hicks was Trump’s fourth communications director.
  121. On Wednesday, CNN’s Erin Burnett reported that according to one of Trump’s close allies, Trump berated Hicks after her House Intelligence Committee hearing where she revealed she was sometimes required to tell “white lies.”
  122. On Wednesday, Trump attacked Sessions again, tweeting why is Sessions“asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse…..Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!”
  123. For the first time, Sessions responded in a statement, saying he acted appropriately referring the case, and the DOJ “will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution.”
  124. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Trump referred to Sessions as “Mr. Magoo,” the bumbling cartoon character. Trump is also complaining to associates that Sessions isn’t defending him to the best of his abilities.
  125. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Mueller is investigating Trump’s efforts to fire Sessions last July, and whether the goal was to pick a replacement who would exercise control over the probe into Trump-Russia coordination.
  126. Mueller’s team is also investigating Trump’s effort to fire Sessions in the spring of 2017. Mueller is examining whether the firing is part of a pattern of attempted obstruction, by changing the direction of the Russia probe.
  127. On Wednesday, WAPO reported aides for Trump keep folders on Republicans who have criticized Trump. When Sen. Bob Corker reconsidered running in 2018, Trump aides reminded him to not fully support Corker.
  128. On Thursday, NBC News reported McMaster will be leaving the White House as early as next month, in a move supposedly orchestrated by John Kelly and James Mattis. This would be the second NSA to leave the Trump regime.
  129. McMaster is a widely respected military general. He has clashed repeatedly with Trump, most recently in Week 66 when McMaster said at the German conference that Russian interference is “incontrovertible.”
  130. On Thursday, BuzzFeed reported that many mid- and low-level White House staffers viewed loyalist Hicks’ resignation as a tipping point, and are actively looking for jobs. The White House has an atmosphere of low morale.
  131. Also causing frustration is Trump going rogue on issues like gun control and tariffs, breaking with GOP positions. Although Trump values loyalty above all else, many Trump loyalist have left or are trying to leave.
  132. On Thursday, CNN reported the tumult of recent days has left Trump seething with anger. Although Trump is trying to change the subject, allies of Trump’s describe a sense of “meltdown” at the White House.
  133. On Thursday, NYT reported Trump is isolated and angry, and carries a bitter feud with Sessions, lashing out with a vitriol that is stunning members of his staff. Trump calls Sessions’ recusal the “original sin.”
  134. NYT reported White House morale has sunk to a new low. Kelly reportedly joked about his move to the White House from the Department of Homeland Security: “God punished me.”
  135. NYT also reported that aides claim while Trump has told Kushner and Ivanka that they should stay and keep serving in their roles, he has also privately asked Kelly for his help in moving them out.
  136. On Thursday, despite it not being on his schedule as of 9 p.m. the night before, Trump summoned business leaders in the steel and aluminum industries for what was described as a listening session.
  137. Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic adviser, had warned Trump not to impose tariffs, and had said he would resign if Trump did so. Trump did not actually listen to industry leaders, instead he mostly talked.
  138. At the end of the session, in a populist move seemingly designed to appeal to his base, Trump announced he would impose long-term tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, without a White House legal review. TheDJIA plunged roughly 500 points after Trump made his announcement.
  139. This marked the second time this week — gun control and tariffs — that Trump had, without notice, broken from GOP traditional positions. Republicans spoke out publicly against him, especially on tariffs.
  140. Thursday evening, after meeting with Trump and Pence in the Oval Office, Chris Cox, an NRA lobbyist, tweeted that Trump had backed off from his Wednesday support for gun control measures.
  141. Trump acknowledged the same, tweeting an hour later at 10 p.m., “Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!.”
  142. Trump was widely criticized by conservatives and conservative media forcomments at the gun control meeting with lawmakers, when he said “take the guns first, go through due process second.”
  143. Think Progress reported Trump ally Carl Icahn sold off his $31.3 million stake in Manitowoc Company, a company heavily dependent on steel to manufacture its products, a week before Trump’s decision on tariffs.
  144. On Friday, Electrolux, Europe’s largest home appliance maker, said it would delay a planned $250 million investment in Tennessee, citing Trump’s tariff hike could cause a “pretty significant” hike in steel prices.
  145. On Friday, Bloomberg reported that Anthony Scaramucci is on the White House “exclusion list” for entrance. Scaramucci believes Kelly is behind the move, “Does the president want to lose everyone because of General Jackass?”
  146. McClatchy reported Sen. Bill Nelson, the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, called on Twitter to explain how imposter accounts undermined the Miami Herald and inflamed the public after Parkland.
  147. Of concern is that Russia-linked accounts and propaganda which influenced the 2016 election are still here, and are attempting to discredit established media and sow public alarm and discord.
  148. On Thursday, in a Twitter thread, CEO Jack Dorsey said his platform is in many ways, broken, adding Twitter “didn’t fully predict or understand the real-world negative consequences.” Dorsey confessed Twitter’s failures, and said the company is rethinking everything.
  149. On Friday, in a scathing op-ed on Kushner, the NYT Editorial Board cited Kushner’s bad advice, shady deals, and incompetence, and as a lesson learned called for firming up the anti-nepotism law.
  150. On Friday, AP reported the Trump regime awarded the first border wall construction contract to SWF Constructors, a tiny Nebraska-based offshoot of Edgewood, New York-based Coastal Environmental Group.
  151. It is unclear why SWF was listed on the bid. Coastal is a construction company that has been sued repeatedly for failing to pay subcontractors, and was accused of shady billing practices in a 2016 government audit.
  152. Following Alec’s Baldwin’s interview in the Hollywood Reporter on Thursday about how impersonating Trump on SNL is “agony,” on Friday, Trump took to Twitter at 5:42 a.m. to attack Baldwin.
  153. In the tweet, which was deleted, Trump misspelled “dying” and mistyped Baldwin’s name as “Alex.” Trump tweeted Baldwin’s “dying mediocre career was saved by his terrible impersonation of me,” adding “it was agony for those who were forced to watch.”
  154. On Friday, Baldwin replied, tweeting, “Agony though it may be, I’d like to hang in there for the impeachment hearings, the resignation speech…You know. The Good Stuff. That we’ve all been waiting for.”
  155. Companies continued to distance themselves from the NRA and take a harder line against guns, raising the age to buy weapons, and limiting what they sell. Companies include Dicks, Walmart, Kroger, and REI.
  156. After Delta cuts ties with the NRA in Week 67, the Georgia legislature voted to pull a jet-fuel tax break the company enjoyed from a tax bill, Delta’s CEO said Friday, “Our values are not for sale.”
  157. On Saturday, CNN reported Trump hit a milestone having spent 100 days in office at one of his golf clubs at taxpayers’ expense. In total, Trump has spent nearly 1 in 4 of his days in office at one of his golf clubs.
  158. On Saturday, Trump will host a campaign fundraiser for his 2020 run at Mar-a-Lago. Tickets start at $2,700, with $25,000 and $50,000 options.
On a street pole in New York City. 2018.
Message from the people in NYC. 2018.
Suffice it to say, he’s not a well-liked dictator in New York City. 2018.


Week 67 of this ‘presidency’: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

February 24, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-67-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-6bc3c6c84d02

On a holiday week with Congress out of session, gun control and the Mueller probe dominated the headlines and the country’s attention. The youth-led activism on gun control sparked by Parkland students has been compared to the successful youth movement against the Vietnam War. The Trump regime was caught flat-footed on the issue, left to parrot NRA talking points; while one White House described the mass shooting as a “reprieve” from a series of negative news and scandals starting in Week 65.

The Mueller probe made news this week with new indictments, and the probe’s fourth and fifth guilty pleas. A comparison of public knowledge on where the probe was headed was made to the “tip of the iceberg,” as charges against a previously unknown Dutch man whose father-in-law is a Russian oligarch came Tuesday. Trump’s White House continues its high-drama chaos with continuing threats of firings and actual resignations, and amid controversy over access to highly classified materials.

On a sign in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. February 2018
  1. On Saturday, at the Munich Security Conference, US lawmakers from both parties and top national security officials told Europe’s foreign policy elite to ignore Trump’s tweets, Trump’s main mode of communication.
  2. On Saturday, in the opening of her show, Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro slammed the FBI again, this time over the Parkland shooting, saying “The FBI needs a complete overhaul, a complete cleansing.”
  3. On Sunday, Rep. Trey Gowdy defended Mueller on “Face the Nation” after the indictments, saying “Russia is not our friend,” adding about Mueller, “This is exactly what we wanted him to do.” Other Republicans have been silent.
  4. WAPO reported Trump spent the weekend at Mar-a-Lago stewing, watching cable news and calling friends to vent. On Saturday and SundayTrump skipped golf, reportedly to honor the Parkland victims.
  5. Starting after 11 p.m. Saturday night and continuing through midday Sunday, Trump sent a series of 10 tweets lashing out at the Russia probe. The tweets were laden with false statements, profanity, and misspellings.
  6. Trump seized on Mueller’s Russian indictments and Rod Rosenstein’s statement that there is “no allegation in the indictment that any American had any knowledge” of Russian election interference in this indictment to yet again claim he was exonerated.
  7. Trump tweeted he “never said Russia did not meddle in the election.” This is false. Trump has called Russian meddling a “hoax” and a “witch hunt” ginned up by Democrats numerous times before and after taking office.
  8. Trump also criticized H.R. McMaster’s incontrovertible statement tweeting McMaster forgot to add the 2016 results were not impacted, and “the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems.”
  9. Trump tweeted that he had “never gotten over the fact” that Obama “was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran,” which Trump complained no one in Congress, the DOJ, or FBI is investigating.
  10. Trump lashed out at Rep. Schiff, tweeting “Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control” is now blaming Obama for Russian meddling as an excuse for why “Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election.”
  11. Trump tweeted that the FBI missed “signals” sent out about the school shooting because the agency was too focused on Russian collusion, drawing widespread condemnation, including from survivors on Twitter.
  12. Asked about Trump, Emma Gonzalez, a Parkland student who is helping organize gun-control marches in DC and other cities on March 24 said, “the best thing for us to do is ignore him,” calling his words “disgraceful.”
  13. On Sunday night, Trump was again tweeting, this time mocking a “very insecure” Oprah for her performance on “60 Minutes,” adding “Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!”
  14. On Monday, which was President’s Day, after golfing, Trump took to Twitter to again criticize Obama, saying Obama was president during the election, asking “So why didn’t he do something about Russian meddling?”
  15. On Monday, WAPO reported according to a White House official, after the flurry of negative news to hit the regime in the last week, the school shooting which killed 17 was viewed as a “a distraction or a reprieve.”
  16. Baltimore Sun reported Republican Aaron Penman, who is running for state delegate, hosted a “gun bingo” campaign fundraiser that included raffling off an AR-15 gun, three days after the Parkland shooting.
  17. The Chicago Blackhawks banned four fans from their home games for directing racist taunts at Black American hockey player Devante Smith-Pelly of the Washington Capitals while he was in the penalty box.
  18. Politico reported the Trump regime is trimming language on women’s reproductive rights and discrimination from the soon-to-be-released State Department annual report on global human rights.
  19. By order of the regime, passages which deal with women’s access to contraceptives and abortion will be removed, and a broader section which chronicles racial, ethnic and sexual discrimination will be pared down.
  20. The State Department report is relied on by a range of people, from U.S. lawmakers to political activists. Officials say these late, unusual revisions reflect Trump regime orders while many key roles remain unstaffed.
  21. On Thursday, Reuters reported Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House are replacing Matthew Masterson, chair of the Election Assistance Commission who has helped states protect election systems from cyber-attacks by Russia.
  22. Masterson is a popular figure among state election officials, who praised his expertise. He was picked by GOP speaker John Boehner and nominated by Obama to a four-year term. Ryan and Trump will pick his replacement.
  23. Politico reported Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services is taking steps to dismantle LGBTQ health initiatives: regulations to protect LGBTQ worker and patients have halted or rolled back, LGBTQ-friendly language removed from documents.
  24. Senior advisers dedicated to LGBTQ health have been reassigned. Officials are also concerned that many Trump appointees at the agency have records of anti-LGBTQ beliefs or actions.
  25. NY Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin proposed sweeping reforms to federal Immigration and Nationality Law that would allow the government to revoke citizenship within 10 years for a broad range of alleged offenses.
  26. On Thursday, Intercept reported an email sent to US Citizenship and Immigration Services staff members by director L. Francis Cissna announced a new agency mission statement which omits the words “nation of immigrants.”
  27. In its annual audit of the world’s human rights, Amnesty International accused Trump of taking “actions that violate human rights at home and abroad,” grouping Trump with other authoritarian leaders from Egypt, Russia, China, the Philippines, and Venezuela.
  28. Amnesty International said Trump’s policies created a year of “hate-filled rhetoric,” citing his Muslim Bans, anti-immigration policies, and his attacks on the rights of women and girls, the LGBTQ community, and more.
  29. AP reported the Trump regime is calling for the elimination of LIHEAP — Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program — which provides heating assistance for low-income families, as part of his 2019 budget.
  30. Also as part the 2019 budget, Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department plans to use money raised from drilling on public lands to fund $18 billion of backlogged infrastructure plans at his department’s choosing.
  31. On Wednesday, WAPO reported two senior US Geological Survey officialsresigned after Zinke asked them to provide confidential data on the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska before it was released to the public, an action which would violated the USGS’s scientific integrity policy.
  32. On Monday, Scott Pruitt postponed canceled a trip scheduled to Israel amid scrutiny over his travel costs. According to Week 66, Pruitt reportedly has been flying in first class and on military jets.
  33. On Wednesday, Rep. Gowdy, chair the House Oversight Committee,demanded Pruitt turn over documents related to his first-class travel, and raised concerns about conflicting statements from Pruitt’s press office.
  34. Trump’s nominee to become ambassador to the Bahamas, billionaire Doug Manchester, headed a newspaper where former employees said the “‘Mad Men’-style,” was uncomfortable and often disrespectful toward women.
  35. WAPO reported that two weeks after Trump nominated Florida businessman Leandro Rizzuto Jr. to become ambassador to Barbados, Rizzuto pledged thousands to underwrite a gala at Mar-a-Lago.
  36. Since Trump has yet to nominate a head of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the position is held by Michael Kratsios, a 31 year-old former chief of staff to Peter Thiel who has a political science degree.
  37. CNN reported The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s inspector general is looking in the role secretary Ben Carson’s family has played at the agency. In Week 64, Carson was warned by agency lawyers about his sending his son on a listening tour.
  38. WSJ reported watchdog group Common Cause filed complaints with the FEC and DOJ asking the agencies to investigate the $150k payment to Karen McDougal who sold her Trump story to the National Enquirer (AMI).
  39. Common Cause said the “catch and kill” payment made by AMI was intended to influence the election. Michael Cohen was in touch with AMI’s CEO and chief content officer during the investigation.
  40. CNBC reported Trump’s former bodyguard, Keith Schiller, worked for Trump for nearly 20 years, is being paid $15k a month from a GOP slush fund. Schiller has been questioned as part of the Mueller probe.
  41. CNBC reported the RNC has been quietly paying more than $37,000 a month in rent to Trump’s companies and thousands more in salary to Pence’s nephew for expenses previously covered by the Trump campaign.
  42. These payments started shortly after the RNC came under pressure for paying legal bills for Trump and Donald Jr. in the Mueller probe, and stopped doing so.
  43. Forbes reported based on identifying 164 tenants of Trump properties, at least 36 have meaningful relationships with the federal government, from contractors to lobbying firms to regulatory targets.
  44. Forbes noted China’s largest bank, the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China is a tenant on the 20th floor of Trump Tower, six floors below Trump’s desk. The Chinese government is majority owner of the bank.
  45. Donald Jr. made an “unofficial” business trip to India to promote Trump Organization real estate transactions. While there, he delivered a foreign policy speech on Indo-Pacific relations at an event with Indian PM Narendra Modi.
  46. Indian newspapers have been running full-page advertisements about the Trump Tower project under the headline: “Trump is Here — Are You Invited?” inviting people to spend a $38k booking fee and meet Donald Jr.
  47. During his trip, Donald Jr. praised the “spirit” of people in poverty-stricken areas of India, adding that he likes that they “smile.” Trump Tower apartments in a New Delhi suburb run from $775,000 to $1.5 million.
  48. Donald Jr. called accusations that his family is profiting from Trump’s position “nonsense,” adding “It’s sort of a shame. Because we put on all these impositions on ourselves and essentially got no credit.”
  49. On Tuesday, a review board overseeing Puerto Rico’s housing contracts suspended a $133 million contract awarded to Adjusters International, whose senior vice presidents is Trump’s failed FEMA nominee Daniel Craig.
  50. Craig helped his firm with the bid for the contract which should have been disqualified for failing to comply with FEMA requirements. Craig is under federal investigation for ethics issues involving FEMA contracts for Hurricane Katrina.
  51. AP reported six-months after Hurricane Harvey in Texas, recovery has lagged well behind earlier post-disaster efforts. Relief efforts have been slow to unfold and tangled with bureaucracy.
  52. Federal records show it took four times as long to house people in trailers after Harvey than Katrina, and housing repairs are running months behind Sandy. Local communities have been left to their own devices.
  53. On Tuesday, the regime held its first daily press briefing in over a week, and first since the Parkland shooting, with unanswered questions on the Rob Porter scandal, Russian indictments, and hush money for Trump’s affairs.
  54. The briefing started 88 minutes late, the longest delay to date, and lasted only 20 minutes long. Sanders left many questions unanswered, cutting off at 3:30 p.m. for Trump’s Public Safety Medal of Valor Awards Ceremony.
  55. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump has repeatedly acknowledged Russian interference, and that Trump “has been tougher on Russia in the first year than Obama was in eight years combined.” Both statements are false.
  56. Sanders also said VA chief David Shulkin’s job is safe, despite alleged misuse of taxpayer money during a 10-day trip to Europe and attempts to conceal it in Week 66, unless “other stuff comes up.”
  57. Politico reported it has been a year since Trump held a news conference. In their first years in office, Obama held 11 formal news conferences, George W. Bush held four, Clinton held 14, and George H.W. Bush held 26.
  58. On Tuesday, a front page story at WAPO was “Is anyone listening?” the story of Rachel Crooks, who claims Trump kissed her for two minutes when she worked as a secretary at Trump Tower in 2006.
  59. On Tuesday, Trump sent two tweets denying Crooks’ claim, calling it “Another False Accusation,” saying of Crooks, “to the best of my knowledge, never met,” and “Never happened!
  60. Trump also lashed out at WAPO in his tweets, calling the paper “Fake News Washington Post,” and asking why WAPO doesn’t “report the story of the women taking money to make up stories about me?”
  61. Crooks is one of 16 women who have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump. Crooks is also running in November 2018 for a seat in Ohio’s state Legislature.
  62. On Tuesday in a Kentucky rural district, Democrat Linda Belcher won a state House of Representative seat by 36 points. Trump won the district by 49 points in 2016, an 85 point swing.
  63. On Tuesday, NYT reported Jared Kushner is resisting giving up his access to highly classified information, sparking an internal struggle with chief of staff John Kelly, who announced an overhaul of the security process in a memo in Week 66.
  64. Kelly’s public statements, in which he said policy change would not harm Kushner’s ability to do his job, have ratcheted up tensions. Kushner and Ivanka reportedly were critical of Kelly when speaking to Trump.
  65. On Wednesday, Trump again attacked his beleaguered Attorney General, tweeting the Obama administration did nothing about Russian meddling so “why aren’t they the subject of the investigation?” adding “Ask Jeff Sessions!”
  66. On Sunday, the LA Times reported Rick Gates will change his plea to guilty of fraud-related charges, and testify against Paul Manafort. Gates will become the fourth person in the Mueller probe to plead guilty and cooperate.
  67. On Monday, CNN reported Mueller’s interest in Kushner has expanded to include Kushner’s efforts to secure financing for his company from foreign investors during the presidential transition.
  68. Mueller is interested in Kushner’s discussions with Chinese investors, including Anbang’s chairman, Wu Xiaohui, a week after the election, as well as negotiations with a Qatari investor, relating to 666 Fifth Avenue.
  69. In Week 35, Intercept reported Kushner not getting a deal with a Qatar sovereign wealth fund on 666 Fifth Avenue may have influenced US policy towards Qatar.
  70. Mueller is also reportedly investigating Kushner’s involvement in the Trump campaign’s 2016 data analytics operation, his relationship with Flynn, and Kushner’s contacts with Russians.
  71. On Monday, Politico reported conservatives are urging Trump to grant pardons to limit the impact of the Mueller probe. Supporters said Trump should consider pardoning Michael Flynn, Manafort, Gates, and George Papadopoulos.
  72. On Wednesday, conservative media floated a false narrative that based on a new filing in his case, Flynn should withdraw his guilty plea because the special counsel “withheld” evidence which could exonerate him.
  73. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats defended hosting the controversial secret visit by Russian spy chiefs in Week 64, telling Sen. Chuck Schumer in a letter that the meetings focused on counterterrorism cooperation.
  74. One of the visitors was GRU chief, Igor Korobov, who was sanctioned for interfering in the US election. When MSNBC asked the State Department about his travel waiver, they were directed by State to the Russian government.
  75. BuzzFeed reported Mueller’s team has now identified more than $40 million in “suspicious” financial transactions to and from companies controlled by Manafort. Mueller’s October indicted listed just $18 million.
  76. On Tuesday, Alex van der Zwaan, son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan, pleaded guilty to making false statements in a November 3 interview by Mueller’s team, days after Manafort and Gates were indicted.
  77. False statements were related to a 2016 recorded phone call about a 2012 report prepared by van der Zwaan’s law firm, Skadden, Arps, about the jailing of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
  78. Van der Zwaan was hired by Manafort and Gates to prepare the reportwhile working for Skadden. Last year, Skadden fired van der Zwaan and has been cooperating in the Mueller probe.
  79. German Khan is an owner of Alfa Group, Russia’s largest financial and industrial group. In Week 21, Alfa Bank was being investigated by the FBI over frequently pings of Trump Organization servers during the campaign.
  80. Alfa Bank is also mentioned in the dossier. Khan and other Alfa Bank owners sued Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson in Week 47, and BuzzFeed in Week 28, saying their reputations had been tattered by the dossier.
  81. On Thursday, Mueller filed a new indictment against Manafort and Gates which included 32 additional counts, including tax and bank fraud charges. The initial indictment last October had 12 counts.
  82. Manafort and Gates received large amounts of money for their work in Ukraine from 2006–2015 which they laundered by bringing it into the US as corporate loans, also avoiding reporting the money as income.
  83. When the money dried up, Manafort and Gates lied to lenders about their finances, and set up a real estate scheme under which they were able to obtain millions in financing in 2015 and 2016.
  84. Lawfare reported while there are no allegations about the Trump campaign directly, the indictment alleges bank fraud between 2015 and 2017 during which Manafort and Gates were both involved with Trump.
  85. In previous weekly lists, at the time Manafort took the position as Trump’s campaign chair, although he was cash poor, he offered to do the job for free, potentially to relieve pressure to repay Russian oligarch Deripaska.
  86. WSJ reported Mueller’s team and federal prosecutors in NY are also examining a $16 million loan made to Manafort by Federal Savings Bank, a small bank in Chicago run by Steve Calk.
  87. In Week 26, the loan represented 24% of the bank’s reported capital. Mueller’s team wants to know if the loan was part of a possible quid pro quo for Calk to secure the position of Army secretary in the Trump regime.
  88. Early Thursday, WAPO reported Gates’ legal defense is in question. His three lawyers asked to leave the case, citing “highly sensitive matters” that would “potentially be prejudicial as well as embarrassing.”
  89. Late Thursday, shortly after Mueller filed the new charges, the judge granted the three lawyers’ request, and Gates’ new lawyer Thomas C. Green, filed notice with the court that he is now representing Gates.
  90. On Thursday, The Daily Beast reported that Gates fired Tom Green, and is replacing him with lawyer Barry Pollack of Miller Chevalier. Reportedly Gates is, at this point, not cooperating in the Mueller probe.
  91. On Thursday afternoon, Green denied the report that he been fired, and the next day The Daily Beast completely rewrote their story leaving out any mention of Green and printed a correction.
  92. On Friday morning, NYT reported Gates will plead guilty in the Mueller probe and will cooperate. The deal reportedly came after Mueller filed additional charges. Gates became the fifth to plead guilty in the probe.
  93. Gates pleaded guilty in court to participating in a financial conspiracy with Manafort. He also admitted that he lied to investigators on February 1, while negotiating with prosecutors.
  94. Gates lied about a conversation he had with Manafort in March 2013, after Manafort had met with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher to discuss the situation in Ukraine. Gates falsely claimed Manafort said Ukraine did not come up.
  95. Gates’ three attorneys had asked to step off the case on February 1 after Gates’ lie, saying “Irreconcilable differences have developed with the client which make our effective representation of the client impossible.”
  96. Court documents revealed Gates has been discussing a deal with Mueller’s team since January. If Gates fully cooperates he could ask for probation, or he could face up to 71 months in prison on the two felony counts.
  97. Gates was deputy campaign manager as Trump was developing policy positions and engaging with voters on social media. Gates stayed on after Manafort resigned in August and was a consultant on the transition team.
  98. On Friday, less than two hours after Gates agreed to cooperate, new charges were filed against Manafort in the Mueller probe, alleging Manafort paid European politicians to push positions favorable to Ukraine.
  99. Charges say Manafort, with assistance from Gates, orchestrated a group of former European politicians, called the “Hapsburg group,” to appear independent, while being secretly paid 2 million euros by Manafort.
  100. Manafort funded the payments from an offshore account, similar to $4 million payments he made to Alex van der Zwaan to produce the report on jailing Tymoshenko. Manafort maintained his innocence on Friday.
  101. On Friday, Susan Rice’s attorney responded to Sens. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham’s request in Week 66, saying she documented the January 2017 meeting before Obama left the White House because they were “justifiably concerned” about ties between Russia and the incoming Trump regime.
  102. Rice’s attorney added Rice memorialized the meeting based on advice she received from the White House counsel, and that Rice was not aware of the existence of the FBI’s investigation at the time.
  103. On Wednesday, Trump met with grieving parents and students impacted by school gun violence at the White House. Several attendees showed raw emotion and tears, which reportedly overshadowed a policy discussion.
  104. During the meeting, Trump held a card captured in photographs with items including, “What would you most want me to know about your experience?” and a reminder to express empathy: “I hear you.”
  105. After listening, Trump suggested arming teachers to increase school safety. On Thursday morning, Trump lashed out at news organizations for reporting this, tweeting that he “never said ‘give teachers guns.’”
  106. On Thursday, Trump hosted a second White House meeting on gun violence. Trump floated the idea of paying teachers “a little bit of a bonus” for carrying guns in class, and promised federal funds to train them.
  107. Trump fired back at Education secretary Betsy DeVos for suggesting active shooter drills, saying “active shooter drills is a very negative thing,” adding “I think it’s crazy, I think it’s very bad for children.”
  108. Trump blamed video games and movies for youth violence, suggesting “maybe they have to put a rating system for that.” Ratings systems for movies and video games have existed for decades.
  109. Trump repeated the terms “hardening” numerous times, meaning adding armed guards and arming teachers. He also spoke against banning guns, saying that a school “is frankly no different” than a military base.
  110. Trump added, “we have to let the bad guy know that they are hardened,” harkening back to National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre’s talking points after Sandy Hook that the only way to stop bad guys with guns is having good guys with guns.
  111. NPR reported many of Trump’s words seem to come from a NRA script. Trump said of the NRA, “I don’t think I’ll be going up against them,” adding “I’m very close to them; they’re very, very great people.”
  112. On Thursday evening, the night after a widely-watched CNN Town Hall on gun control, Trump tweeted, “School shooting survivor says he quit @CNN Town Hall after refusing scripted question.” CNN denied the charge.
  113. On Friday, Trump called deputy Scot Peterson, the Parkland security guard who failed to stop the shooting, a “coward.” Critics pointed to the armed guard who froze to show the fallacy of Trump’s proposal to arm teachers.
  114. In speeches at CPAC, both Trump and LaPierre delivered dystopian speeches, harkening the culture wars. LaPierre attacked the FBI, saying it was “not free of its own corruption and its own unethical agents.”
  115. At the Ronald Reagan dinner Friday, CPAC’s communication director Ian Walters stirred controversy by saying, “We elected Mike Steele as chairman because he was a black guy, that was the wrong thing to do.”
  116. Curtis Rhodes, the superintendent of Needville Independent School District in Texas said in a letter to families and on social media that students who take part in protests on gun violence will be suspended.
  117. On Thursday, amid customer feedback and complaints, the First National Bank of Omaha ended its relationship with the NRA. Car rental companiesEnterprise, National, and Alamo also cut ties.
  118. By Saturday, Delta and United became the latest companies to cut ties with the NRA, bringing the total to 13 including hotels, insurance companies and more.
  119. On Tuesday, 22 Democratic state attorneys general filed a lawsuit to preserve net neutrality. The suit cites the Administrative Procedure Act, which prevents the FCC from “arbitrary and capricious” redactions.
  120. On Thursday, the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality became official, and was published in the Federal Register, the government’s official record of all administrative actions.
  121. On Friday, the NRA awarded FCC chair Ajit Pai its “Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award” for withstanding months of criticism and repealing net neutrality.
  122. On Thursday, Trump said he is considering pulling ICE out of California, blaming the state for doing a “lousy management job” in patrolling illegal immigration. He added if he pulls ICE, “you would have a crime nest.”
  123. The regime has stepped up enforcement of immigration laws in Californiaas part of their efforts to pressure sanctuary cities. ICE director Tom Homan told Fox News, “There’s no sanctuary from federal law enforcement.”
  124. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Trump’s “obsession with our state is growing more outrageous by the day,” and Sen. Kamala Harris added the regime has “continually put a target on California’s back and we won’t be bullied.”
  125. On Thursday, CNN reported Trump is considering firing McMaster as National Security Adviser. In Week 66, McMaster said evidence of Russian interference was “incontrovertible.”
  126. Reportedly some in the Pentagon believe McMaster has become too politicized to return to the military. Amid tension between the two, Trump could also go as far as not to offer him a fourth star and force him to retire.
  127. On Thursday, Reuters reported both McMaster and Kelly may resign from the White House over tensions with Trump, especially as it relates to clearance for Kushner. WH officials have been working on a compromise.
  128. Ivanka led a delegation to South Korea for the Olympic closing ceremony and to brief President Moon Jae-in on new North Korea sanctions Trump imposed on Friday. Ivanka still lacks permanent security clearance.
  129. On Friday, WAPO reported Rosenstein alerted Don McGahn on February 9 that significant information requiring additional investigation would further delay Kushner’s security process.
  130. Two sources said new important information came light. Security experts say it is rare to have a high level of interim clearance for such a long period of time. Typically, this interim clearance would last for only three months.
  131. Kelly’s memo in Week 66 could mean Kushner and Ivanka could lose their high-level security clearance as early as Friday, February 23. On Friday,Trump told the press he would leave the decision to Kelly.
  132. On Friday, Elaine Duke, deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security resigned after serving less than a year on the job. Duke worked as a high-ranking DHS official under George W. Bush and was recruited back by then-Secretary Kelly.
  133. The Trump regime soured on Duke after she refused as acting secretary in Week 52 to expel 57,000 Hondurans who have lived in the US for nearly two decades under temporary protected status.
  134. Over a week has passed since Mueller unsealed criminal indictments against Russians for interfering in our 2016 election. Trump has taken no actions nor did he issue any statement or tweet on the subject this week.
Scrawled on a wall in New York City. February 2018
Stencil on the sidewalk in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. February 2018
Artist who ‘doctored’ this image to add trump, not known. A witty addition to Kehinde Wiley’s Obama presidential portrait.


Week 66 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

February 17, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-66-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-a3c69c829741

For the first time in quite a while, this week Trump had no control over the narrative. What was supposed to be his Infrastructure Week, was quickly supplanted by the Rob Porter scandal, which carried over from Week 65 and escalated, highlighting the Trump White House dysfunction. Another mass shooting shook the country and left Trump and his regime flat-footed ahead of bombshell indictments unsealed by Mueller against Russians on Friday.

The indictments highlight what heads of US intelligence unanimously agreed to in Senate hearings, and what H.R. McMaster called “incontrovertible” — that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s continued denial of Russian meddling leaves him in an isolated and untenable position, as the country awaits his response to Russia.

Of note, this week there was push-back from inspector generals, watchdog groups, and the judicial branch against the regime’s kleptocracy and corruption — some of the first signs of accountability.

by Consumerart in the East Village, NYC ~ Feb2018
  1. NBC News reported Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand resigned due to her frustration that key positions in her jurisdiction were unfilled, and her concern that Rod Rosenstein’s job was in danger and she would assume oversight of the Russia probe.
  2. On Sunday, Kellyanne Conway, Mick Mulvaney, and Marc Short appeared on Sunday shows to defend the White House’s handling of the Rob Porter abuse allegations. Mulvaney’s timeline on “Face the Nation” was differentthan John Kelly’s version.
  3. When asked if Hope Hicks was in danger dating Porter, Conway said “I’ve rarely met somebody so strong with such excellent instincts and loyalty and smarts.” Porter’s first ex-wife, Colbie Holderness, responded in an op-ed about domestic abuse.
  4. On Tuesday, Politico reported in the hours after Daily Mail broke the story about Porter’s abuse, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders hastily arranged an off-the-record meeting between Porter and four reporters to tell his side of the story.
  5. On Sunday, WAPO reported under Trump ICE arrests have surged by 40%. The biggest jump has been arrests of immigrants with no criminal convictions: 37,734 arrests in fiscal 2017, more than doubling 2016’s arrests.
  6. Street-level ICE officers and field directors have greater latitude to determine whom they arrest and under what conditions. Trump officials call it taking “the shackles off,” and happily report morale is up at ICE.
  7. Houston Chronicle reported Carlos Gudiel Andres, husband and father of five, was arrested early morning while packing his tools for work, the latest case of ICE targeting predominantly Hispanic apartment complexes.
  8. Community members held a rally in CT for Zhe Long Huang and Xiang Jin Li, known as “Kris and Tony,” who face deportation to China. The couple, who own a local nail salon, fear being separated from their two sons.
  9. In Kansas, ICE handcuffed a chemistry professor, Syed A. Jamal, who has been in the US for 30 years, as he was leaving to drive his daughter to school. Jamal, who coached kids in science and sports, awaits deportation.
  10. In Phoenix, ICE was set to deport Jesus Armando Berrones-Balderas, a father of five who has lived in the US since he was one and has a son battling cancer. After media coverage, ICE granted him a one-year stay.
  11. Toronto Star reported US Border Patrol is boarding buses and trains within 100 miles of Canada and asking passengers if they are citizens. A 1953 law gives the patrol the right to do this within 100 miles of our borders.
  12. On Tuesday, BuzzFeed reported Raphael Sanchez, while chief counsel for ICE in Seattle, stole the identities of multiple immigrants while their immigration cases were under review.
  13. Sanchez pleaded guilty to using the immigrants’ information to open up credit cards and loans in their names, taking payments of more than $190,000 from the false accounts. He resigned from the agency.
  14. Reuters reported the Trump regime is considering closing more than 20 US resettlement offices, and cutting back operations at more than 40 others as part of the State Department’s plan to reduce the number of refugees allowed in.
  15. On Tuesday, a second judge, US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn, ruled DACA could not end in March, saying the regime could eventually rescind DACA, but the reasons given in September were too arbitrary to stand.
  16. Vox analyzed the hiring records for three Trump properties in New York and Florida and found only one out of 144 jobs went to a US worker from 2016 to the end of 2017. The rest were foreign workers under H-2B visas.
  17. Jocelyn Morfii, an elementary school teacher at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School in Miami for seven years, was fired after marrying a woman. The principal said it was “difficult and necessary decision.”
  18. USA Today reported that 92% of Trump’s federal judge nominees are white. Of the 87 picks so far, just one is African American, one is Hispanic, and five are Asian American.
  19. Boston Globe reported Charles Johnson, a 29 year-old who questions if six million Jews died in the Holocaust, argues black people are “dumber” than white people, and is part of white supremacist circles, has found mainstream acceptance working for a pro-Trump super PAC in DC.
  20. On Sunday, Rick Blood, the GOP deputy mayor of Mendham, ex-Gov. Chris Christie’s hometown, published a Facebook post comparing immigrants to raccoons in the basement, and lauded Trump as the exterminator.
  21. Blood deleted the post, which was a version of a post circulating on conservative blogs since early 2016. On Monday he faced Mendham residents, and then, after a township committee meeting, resigned.
  22. On Monday, Brandon Defrain, GOP chair in Bay County, Michigan resigned his post and from the party. In a Facebook post he said “I can no longer remain silent” about Trump, citing racism, hatred, and violation of civil rights.
  23. Lissa Luca, a Democratic candidate in West Virginia’s House of Delegates, was forcibly escorted out after using a public hearing on the House floor to list the donations GOP lawmakers had received from the oil and gas industry.
  24. On Monday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, led by acting director Mulvaney, dropped its lawsuit against Golden Valley Lending, a payday lender that allegedly charged people interest rates of up to 950 percent.
  25. On Monday, is a speech to the National Sheriffs Association, Sessions broke from his prepared written remarks — “The sheriff is a critical part of our legal heritage” — to instead invoke the “Anglo-American heritage.”
  26. On Thursday, the US appeals court in Virginia said Trump’s Muslim Ban was probably unconstitutional, putting it on hold pending Supreme Court review. Trump’s comments and tweets were reviewed in the case.
  27. On Thursday, the House voted to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act, to require written notice of violations, and giving businesses 60 days to come up with a plan and an additional 60 days to take action.
  28. On Thursday, Planned Parenthood and eight other groups sued Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services, saying the agency unlawfully canceled their five-year grants for teen pregnancy prevention midstream and with no explanation
  29. Heath Hall, the Federal Railroad Administration’s acting chief since June, resigned following another deadly Amtrak crash. Politico reported Hall was simultaneously working as a public relations consultant in Mississippi.
  30. Trump’s pick to run the Census Bureau, Thomas Brunell, a deeply partisan professor with no government experience who had defended racial gerrymandering and voter suppression, withdrew from consideration.
  31. According to data obtained by McClatchy, the State Department is promoting 50% fewer people into the first levels of senior Foreign Service positions, creating a crisis for the future diplomatic corps and a leadership vacuum.
  32. The Trump regime has also proposed another steep cut in the diplomatic budget of more than 25%, raising concerns the regime is intentionally undercutting the department’s work and US influence in the world.
  33. According to WAPO in partnership with Partnership for Public Service, after 13 months in office, Trump has yet to put forth a nominee for 1 in 3 key roles in the executive branch: 225 of 636 positions have no nominee.
  34. On Sunday, Politico reported Rep. Devin Nunes created his own alternative news site. The website, “The California Republican,” is paid for by Nunes’ campaign committee, and is classified on Facebook as a “media/news company.”
  35. On Sunday, WAPO reported based on information obtained under the FOIA, unlike his predecessors, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt travels first-class and on military jets, and stays at very high-end hotels, costing taxpayers tens of thousands.
  36. Pruitt also tends to bring a larger entourage of political advisers on his trips than past administrators, and rarely discloses his schedule in advance citing “security concerns” and that it could be a “distraction.”
  37. NYT reported that a $225,000 donation resulted in special treatment for Fitzgerald trucks, as Pruitt helped the company secure a pollution loophole that Obama tried to close, and the Trump regime is championing.
  38. A federal court ruled Trump’s Department of Energy must implement four Obama-era energy efficiency regulations, which have been delayed for more than a year, saying failure is “a violation of the department’s duties.”
  39. The Veterans Affairs inspector general found Secretary David Shulkin’s chief of staff doctored an email and made false statements to justify having taxpayers cover expenses for his wife on a 10-day trip to Europe.
  40. The inspector general also found Shulkin improperly accepted tickets to Wimbledon worth thousands of dollars and other gifts, and directed an aide to act as a “personal travel concierge” to him and his wife.
  41. On Thursday, Shulkin refused to resign, instead saying his chief of staff’s email account had been hacked: “We’ve seen that somebody is impersonating her, and we have to fully investigate that.”
  42. NYT reported the FCC inspector general opened an investigation by the end of 2017 into whether commissioner Ajit Pai and his aides improperlypushed for rule changes which benefitted Sinclair Broadcasting.
  43. AT&T will seek testimony from the Department of Justice’s antitrust chief, in exploring whether Trump influenced the department’s decision to block the company’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner to retaliate at CNN.
  44. WAPO tabulated that in Trump’s first 13 months in office, more than 40% (9 out of 22) of the people he originally picked for Cabinet-level jobs have faced ethical or other controversies.
  45. On Thursday, the Trump regime agreed to settle a pending lawsuit by nonprofit group Public Citizen filed last August, and will post visitor logs for some White House offices, including Office of Management and Budget and the drug czar’s office.
  46. On Sunday, the day before the White House released its 2019 budget,Mulvaney told “Fox News Sunday” that the US will post a larger budget deficit this year and could see a “spike” in interest rates as a result.
  47. On Monday, Trump unveiled his $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan which his aides told Axios is not expected to pass, and his $4 trillion budget which his aides said reads like “science fiction.”
  48. The aides told Axios Trump’s real focus in 2018 is “looking for opportunities to stir up the base” — “unexpected cultural flashpoints” like the NFL and kneeling that Trump can latch onto in person and on Twitter.
  49. As part of the infrastructure plan, Trump would give Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke the unilateral power to approve construction of pipelines through national parks. Currently, construction requires an act of Congress.
  50. Also as part of the infrastructure plan, the Trump regime wants to sell off or privatize a broad array of government assets, including the Reagan National Airport and the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
  51. As part of the budget, the Trump regime wants to shake-up the SNAP program (food stamps). Under the regime’s proposal, recipients would get half their benefits in a “USDA Foods package” determined by the regime.
  52. The package includes “shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit and vegetables,” but not fresh produce. The regime says it will save $129 million over 10 years with these limitations.
  53. Trump’s budget also proposed ending federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides some funds to PBS and NPR. PBS CEO Paula Kerger said this would result in closing some local PBS stations.
  54. On Wednesday, Mulvaney told a congressional panel Trump’s military parade could cost up to $30 million, but it is not included in the budget because it came up late.
  55. On Tuesday, in Senate testimony, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said the nation’s debt, likely to escalate with the Republican’s $1.5 trillion tax cut and other fiscal measures, “represents a dire threat to our economic and national security.”
  56. AP reported the amount of money spent lobbying by corporations, trade associations, and special interest groups spiked in the final months of 2017, in the battle for tax breaks in the Republican tax bill.
  57. The GOP tax bill was mostly written in private. Watchdog group Public Citizens reported more than 4,600 lobbyists were engaged specifically on the tax rewrite, an average of 13 lobbyists for every member of Congress.
  58. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “4.2 million hard working Americans have already received a large Bonus and/or Pay Increase.” This is false. A survey found less than 2% of America benefited from the GOP tax law.
  59. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania announced a directive for counties replacing electronic voting systems to buy machines with a paper backup, citing hackers scanned voter registration databases in the 2016 election.
  60. Foreign Policy reported BuzzFeed has hired Anthony Ferrante, who works for FTI Consulting and is a former FBI and National Security Council cybersecurity expert, to lead a team in verifying the Steele dossier.
  61. BuzzFeed is being sued for libel by Russian technology executive Aleksej Gubarev who claims the website was reckless in publishing the dossier. A source said of BuzzFeed’s strategy: “If it’s fact, it’s not libel, that’s the idea.”
  62. On Monday, Russia news agency Tass was again the first to report a telephone conversation between Trump and Putin. According to Tass, the content discussed had to do with diplomacy in the Middle East.
  63. On Monday, Putin hosted Palestinian President Abbas in Moscow and reportedly told him Trump coveys “his best wishes.” Reuters reportedAbbas told Putin he wants the US peace role diluted.
  64. On Monday, CNN reported Sens. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham sent a letter to former National Security Adviser Susan Rice asking why she sent an email to herself the day of Trump’s inauguration about an Oval Office meeting on Russian interference.
  65. The email details a January 5 meeting attended by Rice, Obama, James Comey, Sally Yates, and Joe Biden. Obama stressed he wanted every aspect handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities “by the book.”
  66. In January, Comey, James Clapper, John Brennan, and Mike Rogers released a public report saying Russia meddled in the election to help Trump win. Obama was also briefed on conversations between Michael Flynn and Sergey Kislyak.
  67. The email states: “Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.” The email was sent at 12:15 p.m., just minutes before Obama left office.
  68. On Tuesday, leaders of the US intelligence agencies testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. DNI Coats warned, “There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 US midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.”
  69. Leaders laid out the challenges which include the flow of Russian misinformation and shoring up defenses of electoral systems. Almost every state is taking steps to protect voter databases and election equipment.
  70. Coats said, “We need to inform the American public that this is real,” adding, “there needs to be a national cry for that.” Trump continues to deny that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, calling it “a hoax.”
  71. Sen. Jack Reed asked the leaders if Trump has directed them to take “specific actions to confront and to blunt” Russian interference activities. All are taking some actions, but none have been specifically directed by Trump.
  72. On Wednesday, WAPO reported at the behest of Trump in April, Don McGahn called Dana Boente at DOJ and tried to get him to persuade Comey to publicly state Trump was not personally under investigation in the Russia probe.
  73. McGahn’s office has also reportedly prepared a detailed reconstruction of the 18 days between the time of Yates’s warning and Flynn’s firing, and turned the document over to Mueller for his review.
  74. On Thursday, CNN reported Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with Mueller, indicating he will become the third regime member to cooperatein the investigation. The plea negotiations had been ongoing for about a month.
  75. Gates has already had a “Queen for a Day” interview, in which he can answer any questions about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed, and not have it used against him if he cooperates.
  76. On Friday, as part of the wrangling over Paul Manafort’s bail, Mueller’s team told a federal judge they have found evidence of “additional criminal conduct” by Manafort not addressed in their indictment last October.
  77. Mueller’s filing shows Manafort obtained a mortgage using “doctored profit and loss statements” which overstated his consulting company’s income “by millions of dollars.” There are also references to “conspiracies,” suggesting that someone beyond Manafort was involved in the fraud.
  78. NBC News released, in a public database, more than 200,000 malicious activity tweets created by Russian-linked accounts during the 2016 presidential race, which were deleted by Twitter.
  79. Russia threatened to block YouTube and Instagram if they did not removecontent posted by opposition leader Aleksei Navalny of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and deputy prime minister Sergei Prikhodko on Deripaska’s yacht.
  80. On Thursday, Steve Bannon told the House Intelligence Committee he has been instructed by the White House to invoke executive privilege on behalf of Trump, saying he could only answer 25 pre-approved questions on the Russia investigation.
  81. Rep. Adam Schiff said Bannon’s claim of executive privilege is “breathtaking and insupportable.” He added Democrats will push for initiating contempt charges against Bannon, but it is unclear if Republicans will go along.
  82. On Thursday, NBC News reported Bannon spent 20 hours with Mueller’s team at multiple meetings over the past week as part of the investigation of Russian interference and other issues that have arisen in the probe.
  83. Daily Beast reported Mark Corallo, former legal spokesperson for Trump, was interviewed this week by Mueller. In Week 64, Corallo was said to be planning to share information relating to obstruction of justice.
  84. FBI director Christopher Wray contradicted the White House timeline on Porter. Wray said the FBI submitted a partial report to the White House in March, completed it in late July, and followed up in November with additional information requested by the White House, before closing the file in January.
  85. Later Tuesday, the White House again changed its story on Porter: Sanders said the White House Office of Personnel Security didn’t consider the investigation complete until November, and it had not made a final determination thereafter.
  86. On Tuesday, at the Senate hearings, Coats said officials with an interim clearance should have limited access to sensitive information. He called the security clearance process in Trump’s White House “broken.”
  87. On Tuesday, Rep. Trey Gowdy announced the House Oversight Committee has opened an investigation into Trump’s employment of Porter, and what White House officials knew about domestic abuse accusations against him.
  88. On Tuesday, WAPO reported many White House staffers feel misled and blame chief of staff John Kelly. One White House official called Kelly “a big fat liar,” and added, “his handling of the Porter scandal amounts to dereliction of duty.”
  89. There is also infighting as press secretary Sanders and her deputy Raj Shah echoed Vice President Pence saying the White House could have been handled this better, while Kelly disagrees, telling the WSJ Monday, “It was all done right.”
  90. WAPO’s Philip Rucker, a reporter on the story, told MSNBC they tried to get a subordinate of Kelly to go on the record and say something positiveabout him for balance, but were unable to find one.
  91. On Wednesday, Politico reported nine days into the Porter scandal, press secretary Sanders is pushing for senior officials who made the decisions around Porter’s security clearance to speak to the press directly.
  92. On Wednesday, NBC News reported more than 130 appointees working in Trump’s Executive Office did not have permanent security clearances as of November 2017, including Ivanka, Kushner, Dan Scavino, and McGahn.
  93. On Trump’s National Security Council, 10 of 24 officials had only interim security clearances as of November, including Dina Powell (who has resigned), Fiona Hill, Kevin Harrington, John Rader, and Joshua Steinman.
  94. On Wednesday, National Economic Council official George David Banks who served since February 2017 became the third White House official to resign after being told he would not receive permanent security clearance.
  95. NBC News reported that in addition to the basic questionnaire to gain security clearance, some members of the Trump regime were required to answer supplemental questions asking if they are vulnerable to blackmail.
  96. On Friday, WAPO reported, amid fallout from the Porter scandal, Kelly announced an overhaul of the White House security clearance processwhich places the onus on the FBI and DOJ to hand-deliver updates and information.
  97. The five-page document begins, “We should — and in the future, must — do better,” is addressed to McGahn and McMaster, with Sessions and Wray copied, and gives 48 hours to report derogatory information to the White House.
  98. Also Friday, Kelly announced starting next week, the White House will no longer allow some employees with interim security clearances access to top-secret information, which could impact Kushner in his role as senior adviser.
  99. Kushner may not be able to maintain his extensive portfolio, which necessitate classified briefings. Kushner has also attended meetings where classified info was discussed, and had access to the President’s Daily Brief.
  100. Bloomberg reported the IRS and DOJ have issued subpoenas for documents from lenders and investors in real estate projects managed by Kushner’s family in New York and New Jersey within the past year.
  101. Talking Points Memo reported that Kushner quietly filed an addendum to his personal financial disclosure on January 3, 2018, adding a number of additional business interests which were previously undisclosed.
  102. According to a recent update by Ivanka, Kushner has taken out millions more in loans, signaling liquidity issues. The couple is battling a lawsuit accusing them of illegally omitting information on 32 other companies.
  103. TPM asked Kushner’s lawyer about public documents of other undisclosed business interests. The lawyer said Kushner “has provided complete information” on his financial disclosure, but there may be further updates.
  104. On Friday, Reed Cordish, a senior Trump adviser on government-to-government and technology initiatives, and close friend of Kushner and Ivanka, resigned.
  105. On Tuesday, Michael Cohen told the NYT he paid $130,000 of hush money to Stephanie Clifford out of his own pocket, saying neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction.
  106. On Wednesday, NYT reported Cohen’s payment has raised potential legal questions ranging from breach of contract to ethics violations. Cohen has also been vague on whether he was reimbursed for his payment.
  107. On Thursday, tax documents released by Trump’s Inaugural Committee show the committee spent nearly all of the $107 million it raised. The majority of the funds, $57 million, went to four event-planning companies.
  108. The largest payment of $25.8 million went to WIS Media Partners, an event-production company formed 45 days before the inauguration, led by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a friend and now unpaid adviser to Melania.
  109. On Friday, Ronan Farrow reported on Trump’s nine month affair with Playboy model Karen McDougal starting in 2006, which she memorialized in an eight-page handwritten document provided to The New Yorker.
  110. McDougal was paid $150,000 by American Media, Inc. (AMI), publisher of the National Enquirer, on November 4, 2016 for exclusive rights to her story. David Pecker who owns AMI is a friend of Trump, and never ran her story.
  111. Six former employees of AMI said Pecker routinely made arrangements with women called “catch-and-kill” — paying for stories that would never run. One employee said Pecker used the unpublished stories as leverage.
  112. On Friday, First Lady Melania Trump broke with the tradition of walking as a couple across the South Lawn to Marine One amid the new allegations of Trump’s marital affairs.
  113. On Wednesday, 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. This marks the third mass shooting in the last five months: at a school, church, and concert, done with a AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
  114. On Thursday, Trump tweeted blaming the shooting on mental illness and later called for mental health action. In February 2017, Trump signed a GOP bill revoking Obama-era gun checks for people with mental illness.
  115. Trump’s budget proposed a $25 million reduction in funds designated for national school safety activities, and the elimination of a $400 million grant program used to prevent bullying and for mental health assistance.
  116. Wired reported that in the aftermath of the shooting, pro-gun Russian bots flooded Twitter. The top hashtags the bots were active in within 24 hours of the shooting included #Parkland, #guncontrol, and #guncontrolnow.
  117. On Thursday, Politico reported the White House is feeling rudderless as this week Trump hung back behind staff rather than take decisive action in the face of the Porter scandal and then the Parkland school shooting.
  118. On Friday, Mueller’s office unveiled criminal indictments against 13 Russian nationals and three foreign entities, which revealed a sophisticated network of interference in the 2016 presidential election.
  119. The 37-page indictment includes conspiracy to defraud the US and aggravated identity theft, and reveals how the campaign also relied on extensive intelligence work by Russian operatives on US soil.
  120. Two operatives, Aleksandra Krylova and Anna Bogacheva, traveled as tourists through at least nine states in June 2014 to gather intelligenceused to evaluate political targets on social media before the campaigns got into full swing.
  121. Russians stole the identities of American citizens and posed as political activists. They also set up US bank accounts and used computer servers located in the US.
  122. Charges say the operation was primarily meant to communicate derogatory information about Clinton, to denigrate Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and Trump. There was also a push to back Jill Stein.
  123. Political ads sought to chip away Black Americans’ support for Hillary and to lower Muslim American turnout. Operatives also pushed social media hashtags like #Hillary4Prison and #TrumpTrain.
  124. One of the three entities indicted was Internet Research Agency, whose operations targeted US social media and which employed hundreds of people, and at one point had a monthly budget of over $1.25 million.
  125. Starting in June 2016 when Trump had clinched the GOP nomination, the operatives began to organize and coordinate pro-Trump political rallies. In August, the operatives focused on Florida which Trump narrowly won.
  126. NYT reported the Federal Election Commission had also launched its own investigation into Internet Research Agency last year, on whether it may have violated the FEC Act of 1971 with the purchase of Facebook ads.
  127. In September 2017, as social media companies started disclosing Russia’s presence, one defendant, Viktorovna Kaverzina, emailed her family: “We had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity (not a joke).
  128. Mueller’s team also unsealed an indictment against 28-year-old Richard Pinedo, a California computer science major whose company opened bank accounts and sold them to shadowy purchasers for cash.
  129. Pinedo pleaded guilty to identity fraud, and has been cooperating with Mueller’s team. He also wrote a plea supporting the indictment of Russian nationals. His lawyer said Pinedo sold accounts to Russians unwittingly.
  130. After the indictments were released, Rosenstein held a press conference. Of note, he stood alone without Mueller or anyone from Mueller’s team. He said the defendants conducted information warfare against the US.
  131. Rosenstein said he and Wray had briefed Trump on the indictments Friday morning. Experts noted the time frame between informing Trump and the public was unusually short.
  132. Rosenstein noted the defendants “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign,” and added, “there’s no allegation in this indictment” (emphasis added) of knowing collusion.
  133. The DOJ said Mueller’s work is not complete. The charges did not address the hacking of Democratic email systems or whether Trump tried to obstruct the FBI investigation into Russian interference.
  134. None of the defendants were arrested, and it is highly unlikely Russia will extradite its citizens to the US. Experts speculated the level of detail given this may indicate Mueller is perhaps deterring Russia from further action, and it may also elicit relevant documents from businesses and banks.
  135. On Friday, the White House issued a statement saying the indictments show “there was NO COLLUSION between the Trump campaign and Russia and that the outcome of the election was not changed or affected.”
  136. On Friday, Trump suggested he was vindicated, tweeting Russia started their operation in 2014, “long before I announced that I would run,”adding “the Trump campaign did nothing wrong — no collusion!
  137. Trump made no mention of a foreign power disrupting our election or acknowledging it occurred, nor did he announce any steps to address it.He was conspicuously silent on all these points again on Saturday.
  138. On Saturday, at the 2018 Munich Security Conference, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov called the indictments “just blabber.” Lavrov also noted that Vice President Pence had raised questions about the investigation.
  139. Shortly after Lavrov spoke, McMaster told the audience that evidence of Russia interference in the 2016 presidential election is “now really incontrovertible.
  140. Former US ambassador Kislyak told the audience the indictments were “some kind of hunting spree throughout the world on Russian computer wizards,” adding they have “spoiled the trust” between the two countries.
East Village, NYC ~ Feb2018
Spineless, Corrupt, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan by Jim Carrey
Artist unknown ~ NYC ~ Feb2018
“Trump = Enemy of the People” sticker on 6th (Avenue of the Americas) in New York City. Feb2018


Week 65 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

February 10, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-65-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-28d95a0899dd

This week the chaos in our country infected Trump’s beloved stock market, which suffered its most volatile week since the financial crisis of 2008, as the Republican Party of Trump abandoned yet another of its guiding principles, fiscal responsibility. The regime suffered multiple resignations from its thinly staffed White House, as well as resignation of the third-ranking official at the Department of Justice amid escalating attacks on our institutions by Trump and his allies.

Troubling signs that Russia never left, and plans to meddle in our midterms emerged, although an increasingly autocratic Trump has conveniently yet to acknowledge Russian interference in our 2016 election. The whitewashing of America continues with statements and actions by Trump and his regime which are antithetical to American values. Trump also continues his pattern of siding with men facing allegations of abuse, ignoring victims’ suffering and accusing them of telling lies, despite Steve Bannon’s warnings that the “anti-patriarchy movement” is changing the US power structure.


  1. Late Saturday, WAPO reported Trump is hopeful that the release of the Devin Nunes memo release will pave the way for further shake-ups, including the firing of Rod Rosenstein, as he continues to take steps to derail the Mueller probe.
  2. Late Saturday, TIME reported that in an August 2013 letter to an academic press, Carter Page bragged about his tie to the Kremlin: “I have had the privilege to serve as an informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin.”
  3. On Sunday, Republicans lawmakers including Rep. Trey Gowdy tried to distance themselves from the Nunes memo. Four members of the House Intelligence Committee said the memo should not impact the Mueller probe.
  4. Asked about the Nunes memo release in an interview with CBS News, former CIA director Leon Panetta said, “I’ve been in public life for over 50 years. I have never in my lifetime seen anything like this happen.”
  5. On Monday, Nunes admitted a central part of his memo’s case against the FBI is untrue: the FBI did disclose a law firm working for Hillary’s campaign and the Democratic Party paid for the dossier in a footnote.
  6. Also on Monday, Nunes told Fox & Friends that George Papadopoulos who is mentioned in his memo, “never even knew who Trump — never even had met with” him. This is a lie. There a picture of the two together.
  7. Amid the onslaught of attacks, Republican voters have soured on the FBI. Gallup found 49% of GOP voters think the FBI is doing an “excellent” or “good” job in December 2017, down from 62% in 2014.
  8. On Monday, the House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously to release the Democratic rebuttal to the Nunes memo. Trump now has five days to review it and decide on redactions, if any, and if it should be released.
  9. On Tuesday, Trump met with Rosenstein to discuss the Democratic rebuttal memo. Chief of staff John Kelly told reporters he asked key lawyers and national security officials to complete a final evaluation of the memo by Thursday.
  10. On Monday, at a speech in Ohio, Trump called the Democrats who didn’t applaud his State of the Union speech “un-American” and “treasonous,” adding “I mean they certainly didn’t seem to love our country that much.”
  11. On Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Flake took to the Senate floor to rebuke Trump’s “not normal” comments, adding “Democratic colleagues love this country as much as we do. To suggest otherwise is simply unconscionable.”
  12. On Tuesday, Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries took the House floor saying, “how dare you lecture us,” asking if it is treason for a “campaign to meet with a hostile foreign power to sell out our democracy and rig the election?”
  13. On Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump was “clearly joking” when he made the comment about Democrats. Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley added that the remark was “tongue-in-cheek.”
  14. On Tuesday, White House officials say they have begun planning for a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America’s armed forces. Trump reportedly said, “I want a parade like the one in France.”
  15. Trump’s idea for a military parade was met with widespread bipartisan condemnation calling it a waste of money, and saying it would break from democratic traditions. Conservative Joe Walsh tweeted, “Trump isn’t a King.”
  16. Robert J. O’Neill, a Fox News contributor and former Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden, tweeted that Trump’s parade idea is “third world bullshit,” saying a “First World” country doesn’t do such things.
  17. On Thursday, Democrats introduced the PARADE (Preventing the Allocation of Resources for Absurd Defense Expenditures) Act, which would block Trump from spending taxpayers funds for his parade.
  18. Chicago Sun Times reported Arthur Jones, an outspoken Holocaust denier, activist anti-Semite, and white supremacist, is set to become the GOP nominee for an Illinois congressional seat, representing parts of Chicago.
  19. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported released a report, “The Alt-Right is Killing People.” Of 12 incidents which led to death or injuries, nine of those incidents occurred during 2017.
  20. The Guardian reported that court documents reveal California police worked with, and expressed sympathy for, neo-Nazis while working to identify anti-fascist activists and Trump protesters after violent clashes at rallies.
  21. Dallas Morning News reported the Trump regime capped the number of refugees it would admit at 45,000 for the fiscal year 2018, down from 85,000 allowed in Obama’s final year in office.
  22. In the first four months of fiscal year 2018, just 6,700 refugees have been admitted, putting the US on pace to take 20,000 refugees, the lowest since the 1980 Refugee Act gave US leaders the power to set caps.
  23. On Wednesday, the FBI released information that Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez, whose death in November 2017 was used by Trump to push for his border wall, was the result of an accident, not a homicide.
  24. Reuters reported the Trump regime plans to revamp a US government program called “Countering Violent Extremism,” from countering all violent ideologies to solely focusing on Islamist extremism.
  25. On Thursday, Trump tweeted “Time to end the visa lottery. Congress must secure the immigration system and protect Americans,” and linked to the 2010 case of Mubarak Ahmed Hamed, who illegally transferred money.
  26. WAPO reported an employee of the Montana Department of Labor resigned after learning ICE planned to subpoena the state for labor data which would be used to “hunt down & deport undocumented workers.”
  27. CNN reported Amer Adi, who has lived in the US for almost 40 years, has a wife and four daughters who are US citizens, and who Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan described as a “pillar” of his community, was deported to Jordan by ICE.
  28. Since Trump took office, ICE arrests have increased by 42%. Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants have been arrested, including many like Adi who are deeply rooted and have no criminal convictions.
  29. Reuters reported Trump’s Department of Homeland Security has drafted rules that would allow ICE to scrutinize immigrants’ use of certain taxpayer-funded public benefits, for them or their children, to determine if they could become a public burden.
  30. Under the draft, a person would be considered a “public charge” if they depend on “any government assistance,” the result of which is effectively barring lower- and middle-income people from immigrating.
  31. On Tuesday, at a meeting with Leader Mitch McConnell, Kelly said undocumented immigrants who hadn’t signed up for the DACA program were either “too afraid” or “too lazy to get off their asses.”
  32. When asked later that day by the media to clarify his comments, Kelly doubled-down saying, “I gotta say that some of them just should have probably gotten off the couch and signed up.”
  33. Kelly’s words were met with harsh condemnation from Democrats and advocates, calling his words “ignorant,” “discriminatory,” and “cruel.” Advocates cite fear, cost, and misinformation as the main barriers.
  34. On Tuesday, when asked by the media about the pending government shutdown, Trump said he would “love to see a shutdown” if it helped get a tough immigration deal, including his border wall, passed in Congress.
  35. On Wednesday, Rep. Nancy Pelosi held the House floor for over eight hours, the longest continuous speech in the chamber since 1909, to advocate for Dreamers, and for a vote on a bill to address DACA.
  36. On Monday, Reuters reported acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mick Mulvaney planned to pull-back from a full-scale probe of how hackers stole personal date of 143 million Americans from Equifax.
  37. Intercept reported coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler hosted fundraisers for Sens. John Barrasso and Jim Inhofe, Republicans on the Committee on Environment and Public Works, ahead of his nomination for a top EPA position.
  38. Association of Health Care Journalists reported The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services threatened to ban a reporter from press calls after he refused to delete parts of a published story at the request of CMS administrator Seema Verma.
  39. The agency followed through with its threat last week when Virgil Dickson of Modern Healthcare said his phone went mute during a CMS press calland a woman’s voice told him he was not allowed to participate.
  40. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said in an interview with KSNV News 3 Las Vegas, that the warming climate is not “necessarily is a bad thing,” suggesting instead that a warm climate could be beneficial.
  41. The state legislature in Idaho voted to strip all mentions of human-caused climate change from statewide science guidelines, the first state to do so. Parents, teachers, and students are pushing back for revised standards.
  42. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told Politico she found it “hurtful” being criticized for not upholding civil rights. She responded to lawsuits against her and her department for repealing Obama-era rules on campus sexual assault, saying she hoped “nobody who has been involved” would now not come forward.
  43. On Thursday, the two largest teachers union were blocked from entering the Education Department building to deliver complaints in the form of 80,000 report cards to DeVos, because they did not have an appointment.
  44. A three-month study conducted by Oxford, as part of the school’s Computational Propaganda Research Project, found Trump supporters consume and share the most fake news on Twitter and Facebook.
  45. Congressional Republicans took another step in quietly dismantling Obamacare, disbanding the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a board designed to tame runaway Medicare costs, should they ever arise.
  46. Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom Trump described in 2016 as a “hater” and a “Mexican” who disliked Trump because of his strong border stance, will hear a key environmental case on Trump’s border wall with Mexico.
  47. On Monday, the Supreme Court denied a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to delay redrawing congressional lines. The deadline to redraw districts, which will benefit Democrat, was Friday.
  48. Pennsylvania State Rep. Cris Dush sent a letter to fellow House Republicans calling for the impeachment of the five justices who ruled that the legislature must redraw the state’s gerrymandered maps.
  49. On Friday, Dallas Morning News reported that county Republicans filed a lawsuit alleging the Democratic Party chair did not sign petitions of 128 candidates, so they should be kicked off the March 6 primary ballot.
  50. Sen. Chuck Grassley sent a letter of rebuke to Jeff Sessions, saying a memo which instructs Department of Justice employees not to communicate with Congress without pre-approval discourages whistleblowers and does not comply with the law.
  51. Spain extradited Russian citizen Pyotr Levashov, aka Peter Severa, a spam kingpin, to the US to face charges of links to a series of powerful botnets that were capable of pumping out billions of spam emails.
  52. A counter-extradition request from Russia was rejected. Levashov was apprehended while vacationing with his family in Barcelona in April. In Week 22, his wife said he was arrested for being “linked to Trump’s win.”
  53. On Monday, NYT reported Trump’s lawyers have advised him against being interviewed by Mueller’s team over concern Trump would make false statements and contradict himself, and could be charged with lying.
  54. If Trump refuses to be interviewed, Mueller could subpoena him to testify before a grand jury, a court fight that could be determined by the Supreme Court. It could also prompt accusations that Trump has something to hide.
  55. On Tuesday, Steve Bannon did not show up to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, despite a subpoena. Bannon’s attorney said theWhite House would not let him testify beyond 14 pre-approved yes-or-no questions.
  56. On Tuesday, Rep. Adam Schiff said if Bannon maintains his refusal, the committee should commence contempt proceedings to compel his testimony. The House has given Bannon one week to comply with their subpoena.
  57. On Wednesday, Schiff said in a statement that neither Bannon and Corey Lewandowski have “articulated legitimate grounds for refusing to appear and answer questions.” Schiff plans to subpoena Lewandowski too.
  58. NBC News reported Bannon is likely to meet with Mueller’s team next week. Bannon has reportedly struck a deal with Mueller’s team to avoid having to testify before a grand jury.
  59. Politico reported that the FBI was monitoring Carter Page when he spoke to Bannon in January 2017, and may have picked up the call. In Page’s November testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, he mentioned the call.
  60. According to Page, Bannon called to ask him to cancel a planned television appearance shortly before Trump’s January 21 inauguration. The two then discussed the dossier which was made public on January 11 by BuzzFeed.
  61. Research findings by BuzzFeed and Jonathan Albright of Columbia University reveal Russian trolls were active on Tumblr during the 2016 election, although the company has yet to face Congressional scrutiny.
  62. Russian-run Tumblr accounts used the same or similar usernames as the list of confirmed Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency accounts on other social media. Accounts generated hundreds of thousands of interactions which were anti-Hillary Clinton.
  63. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Russia is already gearing up to meddle in the 2018 midterms, following the playbook it used in 2016. Tillerson warned the US is not “better prepared” and that Russia will adapt as well.
  64. In an interview with NBC News the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, Jeanette Manfra said, “We saw a targeting of 21 states and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated.”
  65. NBC News reported many of the states complained the federal government did not provide specific threat details. Manfra said clearances are being processed to make more sharing possible.
  66. On Thursday, George W. Bush said during his talk at an economic summit in Abu Dhabi that there is “pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled” in the 2016 US election.
  67. A poll by NBC News/SurveyMonkey found 79% of Americans are concerned our voting systems might be vulnerable to computer hackers, while just 55% say our federal government is doing enough about it.
  68. On Wednesday, the WSJ reported the Senate Intelligence Committee is drafting is a report on vulnerabilities in the US election system based on the committee’s Russia probe which is expected to be released in March.
  69. On Thursday, Fox News reported Sen. Mark Warner, ranking Democrat of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had extensive contact via texting with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch who was offering him access to Christopher Steele.
  70. Of note: last week in Week 64, Assange messaged a Twitter account he thought belonged to Fox News’ Sean Hannity offering, “Have some news about [Sen Mark] Warner.” Fox News broke the story on Warner.
  71. On Thursday, shortly after the Fox News story, Trump tweeted “Senator Mark Warner got caught having extensive contact with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch.” Russian bots were also active in attacking Warner.
  72. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, also on the Senate Intelligence Committee, tweeted in response to the Fox News story, “Sen.Warner fully disclosed this to the committee four months ago. Has had zero impact on our work.
  73. On Wednesday, Sen. Ron Johnson released a new report which included additional texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and Page. A September 2, 2016 text from Page says, “potus wants to know everything we’re doing.”
  74. Shortly after the next texts were released, Trump tweeted, “NEW FBI TEXTS ARE BOMBSHELLS!” Press secretary Sanders added the report, “further shows that there is reason for us to have great cause for concern.”
  75. Sen. Johnson asserted the text was Obama wanting to know about the Clinton email investigation, however the investigation was closed at that time. September 2 was three days before Obama confronted Putin for meddling in our election on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Hangzhou, China.
  76. On Thursday, FBI informant Douglas Campbell resurrected Uranium One, saying in a statement to three congressional committees that Russia routed $3 million through an American lobbying firm to influence Hillary and Obama.
  77. On Thursday, CBS News reported that House Intelligence Republicans will literally wall off their aides from Democratic staffers. Republicans on the committee claim to not be part of this, instead suggesting the move is by Nunes.
  78. A Marist College poll found Americans who strongly disapprove of Trump is up to 44% from 39% last month, while just 24% strongly approve.
  79. The poll also found 71% do not think the FBI is out to get Trump. Also, 55% said they would believe Mueller over Trump, compared to 30% who said the reverse.
  80. WAPO reported Christopher Steele, according to colleagues, was so concerned about what he learned from his Russia network on the Kremlin’s plans, he said “it was like “sitting on a nuclear weapon.”
  81. Steele was summoned to Rome to meet with the US intelligence. He shared that Russia had damaging information on Trump, and they planned to carry out an operation to tilt the US election, ordered by Putin.
  82. The FBI treated Steele as a peer. On Russian expertise, Steele had been sought out by the DOJ on past cases, as well as providing briefing material for British prime ministers and at least one US president.
  83. Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted then deleted a tweet celebrating a high school secretary’s $1.50/week pay increase under the GOP tax law. Ryan collected $500,000 from the Koch Brothers days after the law passed.
  84. Ryan, in turn, donated $5,000 to 143 Republican members of Congress.
  85. CNN reported under the Republican tax law, Exxon will lower its tax bill by $6 billion, as the company’s tax rate is lowered from 35% to 21%. Tillerson recused himself for one year only from matters relating to Exxon.
  86. WAPO reported according to a document released by the Treasury Department, the US government expects to borrow $955 billion in 2018 up from $519 billion last year, and the highest borrowing amount in six years.
  87. The jump in borrowing is the biggest since a spike under Reagan. The Congressional Budget Office said in a report the steep increase in borrowing is from lower tax receipts resulting from the GOP tax law.
  88. On Tuesday, the Commerce Department announced the trade gap in goods and services rose to $566 billion in 2017, the highest level since 2008.
  89. Following the sell-off Friday on the release of the Nunes memo, the global sell-off continued Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) plunging 1,175 points, the largest single-day drop in history.
  90. CNBC reported the DJIA traveled more than 20,000 points this week, the most volatility since October 2008, during the financial crisis.
  91. On Tuesday, Democrats picked up a seat in the Missouri state House of Representatives. Mike Revis, a 27-year-old, won the race by four points, in a deep-red district that Trump had won by 28 points.
  92. So far in nine 2018 special election races, Democratic candidates are running 27 points ahead of Clinton and 12 ahead of Obama. In 70 races in 2017, Democrats ran 10 points ahead of Clinton and 7 ahead of Obama.
  93. Lawfare reported, based on 103 FBI emails obtained under a FOIA request, that despite statements by Trump and Sanders, bureau employees were shocked by Comey’s firing, and were supportive of him as their leader.
  94. NYT reported FEMA awarded Tiffany Brown, an Atlanta entrepreneur and sole owner of her company with no experience in large-scale disaster relief, a $156 million contract to deliver meals for Puerto Ricans.
  95. Brown’s contract called for delivering 30 million meals. By the time 18.5 million meals were due, only 50,000 had been delivered. House Democrats have asked Rep. Gowdy to subpoena documents from FEMA.
  96. Reps. Elijah Cummings and Gerald Connolly, the Democratic leaders on the House Oversight Committee send a letter to committee chair Gowdy complaining that 13 of the 19 subpoenas put forth by Democrats have been rejected.
  97. On Friday, Sen. Tim Kaine demanded the release of a secret memo outlining Trump’s interpretation of his legal authority to wage war. Sessions was briefed on the memo last April, but Trump has yet to brief Congress.
  98. On Tuesday, the National Weather Service sent out an errant tsunami warning on Twitter to several East Coast locations. The warnings were supposed to be a test, but due to a glitch came out as an actual warning.
  99. In an op-ed, former Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub criticized the Russia probe legal defense fund set up by the Trump regime in Week 64 as “unethical” citing Trump’s ability to allocate funds and lack of visibility on donors.
  100. WAPO reported that, breaking with tradition, Trump does not read his daily intelligence reports, instead relying on oral briefings. Experts say by not reading the detailed classified info, Trump could miss detail and nuance.
  101. In the quickly shifting US media landscape, Time Inc. takeover by Meredith with funding by the Koch Brother was completed, Newsweek was in disarray after being raided by the Manhattan DA, and biotech billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong took over the LA Times.
  102. Daily Beast reported that a media startup Redfish, a Berlin-based media collective marketed as “grassroots,” is actually supported by the Kremlinand most of its in-house staff last worked for Russian government media.
  103. On Friday, at the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics in South Korea, Vice President Pence and the second lady sat stone faced while South Korean president Moon, North Korea officials and others stood together to applaud their athletes.
  104. As Pence led the US delegation, openly gay figure skater Adam Rippon told a reporter, “You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?” Rippon turned down a meeting request from Pence.
  105. On Tuesday, UK’s Daily Mail reported the two ex-wives of Trump aide Rob Porter say he was physically and emotionally abusive, and his second wife had an order of protection against him. Porter is currently dating Hope Hicks.
  106. Porter had a central role in the Trump regime, working for Kelly and as Staff Secretary, controlling the information that reached Trump, including highly classified information. On Wednesday, Kelly said “Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can’t say enough good things about him.
  107. Porter denied the allegations, but resigned on Wednesday. CNN reportedsenior aides to Trump had known about the abuse allegations for months. Trump reportedly learned of the allegations this week.
  108. Hicks did not recuse herself from the White House media strategy. A statement from Sen. Orrin Hatch was being released by the White House without his office’s knowledge as new facts came out and the senator’s office was issuing an updated statement. Porter formerly served as chief of staff to Hatch.
  109. A year into serving, Porter was unable to get permanent security clearance. Kelly and others had been aware since early fall that this was due to the FBI speaking to Porter’s ex-wives as part of routine background.
  110. Late Wednesday, reportedly after seeing photos of Porter’s first wife with a black eye, Kelly said in a statement he was “shocked” by the allegations against Porter, and “there is no place for domestic violence in our society.”
  111. On Thursday, Porter’s second ex-wife Jennifer Willoughby said she told the FBI about the abuse and protective order. She said when FBI agents asked if Porter could potentially be blackmailed, she answered, “maybe.”
  112. Intercept reported a friend of Porter tried to silence Porter’s first ex-wife Colbie Holderness by contacting her husband ahead of her FBI interview in January 2017. Holderness described her abuse in detail to the FBI, and told them she believed Porter’s history would make him easy to blackmail.
  113. On Thursday, WAPO reported that White House counsel Donald McGahn knew Porter’s ex-wives accused him of domestic violence in January 2017, but allowed him to continue as an influential aide and gatekeeper of information to Trump.
  114. McGahn’s views didn’t change in June when the FBI flagged some of its findings to the White House, or in September when he learned the domestic violence claims were delaying Porter’s security clearance, or in November when Porter’s former girlfriend contacted him about the allegations.
  115. Rep. Cummings slammed House Oversight Committee chair Gowdy in a letter for stonewalling efforts to get information on the security clearance process at the White House. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney called for an investigation of Porter.
  116. CNN reported 30 to 40 White House officials and political appointees are still operating without full security clearances, including Jared Kushner. Experts describe the backlog as unusual after more than a year in office.
  117. WAPO reported McGahn and others are hesitant to act on others not getting security clearance, because they have not taken steps on Kushner, who has access to highly classified materials including the daily briefings.
  118. On Friday, CNN reported Trump is frustrated with Hicks over her role in what has become the Porter scandal. Trump thinks Hicks let her romantic relationship cloud her judgment, and put her priorities ahead of his.
  119. WAPO reported Kelly told White House staff in a Friday morning meeting to communicate a new version of events, and to say he took action to remove Porter within 40 minutes of learning abuse allegations were credible.
  120. This version contradicts reporting and accounts of numerous White House officials who say Kelly knew about the allegations for months. Kelly also told his staff to convey to other White House aides that he cares about domestic violence.
  121. On Friday, Trump told reporters he was “very sad” about Porter’s departure and “we wish him well.” Trump did not express any sympathy for Porter’s victims, instead adding Porter “says he’s innocent.
  122. WAPO’s Jennifer Rubin noted Trump has yet to put forth a nominee for the DOJ’s director for the office of violence against women, nor has he named a White House adviser for violence against women, a position created by Obama.
  123. The House voted to change decades-old procedures handling reports of sexual harassment and assault accusations. The bill still has to pass through the Senate and Trump. Eight lawmakers have resigned or said they will not seek re-election since the start of #MeToo.
  124. Changes include a rule that lawmakers cannot have sexual relations with their staff, a new office will help guide victims, taxpayers will no longer pay lawmakers’ legal bills, and non-disclosure statements will no longer be required.
  125. In an interview with Bloomberg, Bannon warned Trump the “anti-patriarchy movement” is going to dramatically alter the power structure in the US, adding “I think it’s going to unfold like the tea party, only bigger.”
  126. On Friday, Rachel Brand, the third-highest-ranking official at the DOJ, a department under constant attack by Trump, resigned to take a position at Walmart. Brand was confirmed for the position just nine months ago.
  127. Brand would have been next in line to oversee the Mueller investigation if Trump fires Rosenstein, renewing concerns Trump will move to end the Mueller probe. Trump appointee Noel Francisco is now next in line.
  128. On Friday, Kelly’s deputy chief of staff, Jim Carroll, announced he will leave the White House to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Reportedly, the resignation was planned prior to the Porter scandal.
  129. Carroll is the third deputy chief of staff to resign in the first 13 months since Trump took office. Late Friday, the NYT reported Kelly has offered to resign over the Porter scandal.
  130. On Friday WAPO reported that a second White House staffer, David Sorensen, a speechwriter for Stephen Miller, resigned amid allegations by his ex-wife, Jessica Corbett, that he was physically and emotionally abusive.
  131. Corbett first contacted the Post after Porter’s case became public. Corbett said she detailed her domestic abuse allegations to an FBI agent in October 2017, as part of Sorensen’s background check process.
  132. NYT reported US spies paid a $100,000 down-payment in Berlin in September 2017 to a Russian who promised to deliver stolen NSA cyberweapons as well as compromising information on Trump.
  133. Reportedly the Russian handed over data in October and December, but all was related to the 2016 election and alleged ties between Trump and Russia, not the NSA or CIA hacking tools. The CIA then cut ties.
  134. Intercept further reported Trump appointee CIA director Mike Pompeo was at times reluctant to stay involved in the operation, fearing the information obtained from the Russians would be Trump-related material.
  135. Some sources claim that the CIA has become so politicized under Pompeo, agents fear taking in materials that could be damaging to Trump, and also fear Trump’s blowback on their agencies and firing senior officials.
  136. Late Friday, Trump announced he will not allow the Democrats’ rebuttal memo to be declassified and released. McGahn said in a letter the memo contains “numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages.”
  137. On Saturday, Trump tweeted he did not release the memo because it is “very political and long.” Sen. Dianne Feinstein called it “hypocrisy at its worst” adding she has read the classified materials and the Nunes memo is “misleading.”
  138. On Saturday, again following his pattern of supporting men accused of assault, Trump tweeted “lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” adding, “some are true and some are false.”
Sticker on trash bin in Manhattan, NYC. 9feb18


Artist SacSix in NYC. feb2018


*Pics at bottom of the list*

Week 63 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

January 27, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-63-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-d282dcba29d9

The fabric of our country is changing at an alarming pace, although in the chaos, related news is garnering little media coverage or attention. Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is becoming increasingly active and emboldened, using Gestapo-type tactics to target immigrants living lawfully in our country, as Trump and his regime continue to openly target and disparage marginalized communities.

This week a bombshell story revealed Trump tried to fire Robert Mueller in June 2017, and may still be considering this drastic measure as the Trump-Russia and obstruction of justice probe enters a more robust phase. Trump, his Republican allies, and conservative media continue to ramp up attacks on our American institutions and individuals whose testimony could hurt him.

  1. After the government shut down, the White House changed the outgoing message on the comment line: “Unfortunately, we cannot answer your call today, because Congressional Democrats are holding government funding…”
  2. On Sunday, while visiting troops in the Middle East, Vice President Pence laid blame for the government shutdown on Democrats, saying Democrats “had decided to play politics with military pay,” and telling troops, “you deserve better.”
  3. On Sunday, Trump called for Republicans to trigger the nuclear option if the stalemate continues, tweeting “Republicans are fighting for our Military and Safety at the Border. The Dems just want illegal immigrants.”
  4. Sen. Tom Cotton sent “cease-and-desist” letters to his own constituents, ordering them not to contact him. A spokesperson for Cotton’s office told Snopes such letters are issued “under extreme circumstances.”
  5. On Monday, White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley referred to Sens. Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin’s immigration plan as “amnesty,” and slammed them as “dishonest” in their presentation of the plan to Trump.
  6. The Trump campaign’s YouTube channel released “Complicit,” a racist, disturbing ad which claimed Democrats who stop Trump’s immigration plan are complicit in murders committed by illegal immigrants.
  7. Trump’s attempt to pin blame on Democrats was aided by Russian bots: tracking website Alliance for Securing Democracy found #SchumerShutdown was most tweeted hashtag by Russian bots.
  8. Daily Beast reported that a document released by the Trump regime which stated, “‘An analysis conducted by DHS’ concluded that 73% of terrorists were ‘foreign-born,’” was in fact not conducted by the DHS or true.
  9. The Washington Post reported Trump shifted his position on immigration. At the meeting with lawmakers in Week 61, after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen handed out a four-page memo, Trump said he did not agree. Sen. Chuck Schumer called it “negotiating with Jell-o.”
  10. On Sunday, Sen. Graham renewed his attack on the White House’s handling of immigration, saying nothing is going to get done with Stephen Miller leading negotiations, adding “He’s been an outlier for years.”
  11. Sunday night, in a statement the White House fired back saying Graham “chooses to support legislation that sides with people in this country illegally and unlawfully,” and that Graham has “been an outlier for years.”
  12. The Wall Street Journal reported the Trump regime inserted a provision in the House spending bill that allows them to spend on intelligence activities not authorized by Congress — sidestepping a longstanding law on notification.
  13. Also snuck into the spending bill were $31 billion in tax cuts, including a delay in implementing three ObamaCare taxes designed to offset the cost of expanding insurance coverage to low- and middle-income Americans.
  14. On Monday the government shutdown was ended. Tuesday, Sen. Schumer said funding for Trump’s wall was off the table, to which Trump tweeted, “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there is no Wall, there is no DACA.”
  15. On Friday, Trump continued to taunt Schumer on the flight back from Davos, tweeting “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer took such a beating over the shutdown that he is unable to act on immigration!”
  16. An ABC News/WaPo poll found Trump’s one-year approval rating at just 36%, with approval among women voters down to 29%. Also, 55% of women voters doubt Trump’s mental stability.
  17. ICE arrested and detained Lukasz Niec, a Polish doctor who came to the US at age 5, and is a respected doctor at Kalamazoo’s Bronson Methodist Hospital, just after he dropped his 12 year-old daughter off at school.
  18. WaPo reported ICE has detained or deported several prominent immigrant activists across the country, prompting accusations that the Trump regime is targeting political opponents.
  19. Immigrant activists already targeted include Maru Mora Villalpando in Washington, Eliseo Jurado in Colorado, and Jean Montrevil and Ravi Ragbir in New York. Villalpando said she has no criminal record, proof ICE is targeting activists.
  20. WPIX 11 reported two New Jersey dads, Gunawan Liem and Roby Sanger, were arrested by ICE as they dropped off their kids at school. A third manmanaged to escape and took shelter at the Reformed Church.
  21. Reverend Kaper-Dale said, “We had one night when 35 dads were taken in one night from Avenel, New Jersey, from the same apartment complex. I had 60 kids become orphans that night or become fatherless.”
  22. The Verge reported ICE has gained agency-wide access to a nationwide license plate recognition database. The source of the data is Vigilant Solutions, which has a database of more than 2 billion license plate photos.
  23. ICE will be able to query the database to track license plates’ movements over the past five years, and will get email alerts when a new record of a particular plate is found — raising significant privacy concerns.
  24. The Trump regime requested to add a citizenship question in the 2020 Census, potentially shifting more power to rural America. Advocates for the Hispanic community say this step is designed to suppress participation.
  25. On Wednesday, a prominent group of mayors gathered in DC for a mayor conference, canceled their meeting with Trump, citing the regime again threatening to withhold funding from nearly two dozen sanctuary cities.
  26. On Monday, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled the state’s congressional map “clearly, plainly and palpably” violated the state constitution, and blocked its use for the 2018 midterms.
  27. Puerto Rico’s governor said he would move to privatize the island’s public power company, citing slow progress. Four months after Hurricane Maria, nearly 30% of Puerto Ricans are still without power.
  28. A poll commissioned by GLAAD showed for the first time since the survey began in 2014, non-LGBT Americans said they are less comfortable with their LGBTQ neighbors. LGBTQ respondents reporting they experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender jumped 11%.
  29. CBS Atlanta reported a 19 year-old Michigan man was arrested by the FBI after making a series of calls threatening to come to Atlanta and commit mass murder at CNN headquarters. He also made derogatory comments about blacks and Muslims in the calls. He was released on bond.
  30. WaPo reported Brandon Griesemer, the man accused of threatening to attack CNN declared in high school that he identified with Hitler, and according to a classmate, said the “the Holocaust was exaggerated.”
  31. According to an FBI agent affidavit, Griesemer made 22 phone call to CNN in a span of two days earlier this month, four of which included threats. In one call he said, “Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down.”
  32. On Wednesday, in a speech about truth, Pope Francis said popularizing of the term ‘fake news,’ is a sign of “intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes, and leads only to the spread of arrogance and hatred.”
  33. Pope Francis compared lies to the snake in the Garden of Eden, and asked people to discern and seek out the truth, saying “even a seemingly slight distortion of the truth can have dangerous effects.”
  34. On Monday, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed an executive order requiring internet service providers with state contracts to abide by net neutrality, becoming the first state to take such action after the FCC repeal.
  35. On Monday, Secretary Nielsen said in a notice published in the Federal Register that she was waiving dozens of environmental regulations to accelerate construction on part of Trump’s proposed Wall in New Mexico.
  36. For the first time in 50 years, the Bureau of Land Management is considering culling wild horses, putting the lives of tens of thousands of animals at stake. Over 75,000 wild horses live on public lands.
  37. WaPo reported Trump’s Interior Department canceled an Obama-era review of how a ban on mining development of 234,000 acres in Minnesota would affect a neighboring wilderness, opening the area up to mining companies again.
  38. Shortly after taking office, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke met with Andrónico Luksic, who rents a DC home to Ivanka and Jared Kushner. His family owns a Chilean mining company whose expired lease in Minnesota wilderness is now renewed.
  39. On Monday, Trump dealt a huge blow to the renewable energy industry, approving duties of as much as 30% on imported solar equipment, a move that threatens an industry that relies on 80% of parts from abroad.
  40. Trump imposed tariffs of 20–50% on washing machines imported from close US ally, South Korea. In response, LG Electronics told US retailers they will raise prices US consumers pay by approximately $50.
  41. Axios reported Attorney General Jeff Sessions continually urged FBI director Christopher Wray to make a “fresh start” with his core team and fire deputy director Andrew McCabe. Sessions also urged Wray to dismiss top FBI’s lawyer James Baker, who was reassigned in December.
  42. The pressure by Sessions came at the urging of Trump. Axios also reportedWray threatened to resign if McCabe was removed. Reportedly after that threat, attorney Don McGahn told Sessions it was not worth losing Wray.
  43. On Tuesday, Wray announced he would bring in a new chief of staff — replacing James Rybicki, who also served as Jim Comey’s chief of staff.
  44. Rachel Maddow reported that of the six FBI witnesses to Comey’s interaction with Trump — Comey plus the five he contemporaneously informed — four have been fired, reassigned, or sidelined.
  45. The four — Comey, McCabe, Baker, and Rybicki — have also become the subject of attacks by Trump, his Republican allies, and conservative media.
  46. On Tuesday, Trump denied that Wray had threatened to resign after being pressured by Sessions to fire McCabe, saying “He didn’t at all. He did not even a little bit. Nope. And he’s gonna do a good job.”
  47. WaPo reported shortly after Comey was fired, Trump summoned acting FBI director McCabe to the Oval Office and asked him who he voted in the 2016 election. McCabe said he didn’t vote.
  48. Trump also berated McCabe for his wife’s campaign taking donations from a friend of Hillary Clinton in 2015. McCabe, who has worked at the FBI for two decades, found the conversation “disturbing.”
  49. WaPo identified at least six members of Russia’s elite who attended Trump’s inauguration, some with close access. Their presence drew the attention of counterintelligence officials at the FBI.
  50. Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who attended Donald Jr.’s June 9 meeting, was at both the inauguration and a black-tie inaugural partyhosted by the campaign committee of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.
  51. Various businessman attended with hopes of a thaw in the relationship between the two countries. Maria Butina, assistant to Alexander Torshin, who interacted with the Trump campaign in 2016, also attended.
  52. George Papadopoulos’ fiancée, Simona Mangiante said “I believe history will remember him like John Dean,” adding he is on the right side of history and was “the first one to break a hole on all of this.”
  53. On Tuesday, CNN reported Rick Gates has quietly added a prominent white-collar attorney, Tom Green, to his defense team, possibly signaling Gates may be in talks with Mueller’s team about cooperating.
  54. An errant court filing of a one-page memo by Paul Manafort’s lawyerssuggested federal investigators had an informant inside Manafort’s consulting firm, who provided information on his financial dealings.
  55. On Tuesday, the New York Times reported Sessions was questioned for several hours last week in the Mueller probe. Sessions is a key witness on the campaign’s possible ties to Russia and whether Trump obstructed the investigation.
  56. Sessions may be questioned about his role as head of the campaign’s foreign policy team, including overseeing Papadopoulos, his role in developing the position towards Russia, and his meetings with Sergey Kislyak.
  57. NBC News reported the FBI interviewed Michael Flynn on January 24, two days after he was sworn in as National Security Adviser. Flynn did not have a lawyer present, and did not report the meeting that day to the NSC or anyone in the Trump regime.
  58. McCabe, then deputy FBI director, called Flynn directly set up the meeting. It appears the purpose of the meeting was not disclosed to Flynn, prior. Peter Strzok conducted the interview of Flynn.
  59. On January 26, Sally Yates told McGahn about Flynn’s FBI interview. Yates also shared Flynn had lied to Pence and other top regime members about his meeting with Kislyak, and therefore could be blackmailed by Russia.
  60. Flynn stayed on until February 13, when it became public he had lied to Pence about his meeting with Kislyak. The next day, Trump summoned Comey to the White House and asked him to drop his investigation.
  61. Mueller’s team has interviewed Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Mike Rogers, director of the NSA, Comey, CIA director Mike Pompeo and numerous other members of Trump’s campaign and White House inner-circle by the end of 2017.
  62. Flynn’s tenure and firing by Trump are topics of the interviews. Reportedly, Pompeo, Coats, and Rogers are “peripheral witnesses” to the Comey firing. Sessions however played a key role in the Comey firing.
  63. Axios reported Mueller has spoken to George Nader, a Bannon associate who claims to have Middle East connections, at least twice. Nader often visited the White House in the regime’s early months, and also met with Kushner.
  64. WaPo reported Mueller’s team is looking to interview Trump in the coming weeks about the departures of Flynn and Comey, and whether he and his regime are seeking to obstruct of blunt the special counsel probe.
  65. Mueller is also interested in Trump’s efforts to remove Sessions as Attorney General or pressuring him to quit, and examining whether it is part of a “pattern” of behavior by Trump.
  66. Trump’s team is hoping for a hybrid testimony of some in-person and others in written statements. Trump insider Roger Stone has warned him that an in-person interview would be a “suicide mission.”
  67. On Wednesday, before departing for Davos, Trump told members of the media he is “looking forward” to being interviewed by Mueller, saying “I would love to do it.” He also said he would do the interview under oath.
  68. On Thursday, Trump attorney John Dowd tried to walk back Trump’s comments, telling CNN that he is the one who will decide if Trump talks to Mueller, and adding “I have not made any decision yet.”
  69. WSJ reported Trump’s legal team has been studying a 1997 federal court ruling that could serve as the basis for delaying, limiting, or avoidingTrump having to be interviewed by Mueller.
  70. Legal scholars said the 1997 case could be invoked to give Trump more favorable interview terms. Trump continues to publicly deny his campaign colluded with Russia or that he obstructed justice when he fired Comey.
  71. On Thursday, Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant reported Dutch intelligence agency AIVD, the equivalent of our CIA, provided US intelligence with crucial information about Russian interference in the US election.
  72. AIVD penetrated the computer network of Russian hacking group Cozy Bear, and was able to see everything the group was doing, including the DNC hack in 2016 and the State Department in 2014.
  73. US media had reported the CIA and NSA had been alerted to the hacks by an unnamed Western intelligence agency. The AIVD intelligence may have contributed to a subsequent FBI inquiry into Russian interference.
  74. On Thursday, Chuck Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee said the committee will redact and release transcripts of its interviews with Donald Jr. and “all witnesses” related to the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower.
  75. In response to questions by Sen. Kamala Harris, Facebook revealed Russian operatives created 129 events across 13 pages linked to Russian-troll farm Internet Research Agency, and reached 340,000 unique users.
  76. On Thursday, NYT reported Trump ordered McGahn to fire Mueller in June 2017. McGahn refused to order the Department of Justice to do so, saying he would instead quit. Trump backed off, but started publicly attacking Mueller.
  77. Trump cited three alleged, pretextual conflicts of interest as an excuse for the firing. Mueller learned about this attempt in recent months through interviewing current and former senior White House officials.
  78. Trump also considered firing deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, and elevating the department’s number 3 official, Rachel Brand, to oversee the Mueller probe. When Ty Cobb came on in July, Trump ratcheted back his criticism of Mueller.
  79. Trump has wavered in recent months about firing Mueller. Cobb has tried to keep him calm by assuring him the investigation is almost over. Since last month, Republicans have ramped up their attacks on Mueller.
  80. On Friday in Davos, when asked by reporters about the NYT story on his wanting to fire Mueller, Trump said, “Fake news, folks. Fake news. Typical New York Times fake stories,” but did not deny the story.
  81. On Friday, CNN reported Trump is still fuming about the Russian investigation, and has been venting about Rosenstein. Trump has also discussed firing Rosenstein, but so far his advisers convinced him not to.
  82. Steve Bannon is scheduled to be interviewed by Mueller’s team next week. A source said others White House officials who have been interviewed say of the probe, “they’re really digging into the Comey obstruction piece.
  83. Foreign Policy reported Trump pressed his senior aides in June 2017 to devise and carry out a campaign to discredit three FBI officials who would be witnesses against him in the Mueller probe.
  84. Trump attorney Dowd, who was hired shortly after Comey’s testimony on June 8, warned Trump that potential corroborative testimony of the senior FBI officials would play a central role in Mueller’s final conclusion.
  85. Repeating what Dowd said, he told allies they had to “fight back harder.” The three were McCabe, Rybicki, and Baker — the three mentioned in a June 7 Vox article as corroborating witnesses for Comey.
  86. The GOP war on the FBI continued, as Rep. Devin Nunes raised the specter of a secret memo which allegedly shows serious misconduct by the FBI and DOJ towards the Trump campaign — part of a Deep State plot.
  87. Reportedly, 200 Republicans have privately read the memo. Democrats dismissed the memo as a biased hack job, and said releasing it publicly would violate the House Intelligence Committee’s agreement with the FBI and DOJ.
  88. On Sunday, the Daily Beast reported Nunes refused to share the secret memo with the FBI. On Monday, Mother Jones reported Nunes also refused to share the secret memo with the DOJ.
  89. CNN reported that Richard Burr, GOP chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee was also denied access to Nunes’s memo. Ranking member Democrat Mark Warner said the memo is “sloppy, careless” and “has no grounding in fact.”
  90. Business Insider reported Twitter accounts associated with Russia began promoting the hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo, and the frequency spiked by 233,000% in the 48 hours after Nunes spoke of making the memo public.
  91. Also in that time period, references to the “memo” have increased by 68,000% with the most-shared URL being linked to WikiLeaks.
  92. Daily Beast reported Nunes’s secret memo alleges surveillance abuse, and specifically names McCabe, Rosenstein, and Comey — the three are also subjects of Trump’s frequent attacks.
  93. On Wednesday, in a letter, assistant AG Stephen Boyd told Nunes that releasing the memo without giving the FBI the opportunity to review it would be “extraordinarily reckless,” and cited the “risk of harm to national security.”
  94. The letter also states releasing the memo would violate the terms of the deal reached with Speaker Paul Ryan in Week 60: release would “represent a significant deviation from the terms of access negotiated in good faith.”
  95. Starting Monday, Republicans seized on a single text sent from FBI attorney Lisa Page to senior agent Peter Strzok the day after the election saying, “Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society,” to spread innuendo all over the media.
  96. Rep. John Ratcliffe told Fox Newsthere may have been a secret society of folks within the Department of Justice and the FBI” to prevent Trump from winning the 2016 election. Rep. Trey Gowdy called the FBI bias “stunning.”
  97. Sen. Ron Johnson told Fox News Tuesday that an informant told him about a group at the FBI that were holding secret meetings off site, and the text corroborated the possibility of collusion as at the highest levels.
  98. On Thursday, Johnson pulled back his claim, telling CNN “it’s a real possibility” that the “secret society” text was exchanged in jest. Asked if he owes an apology, Johnson said, “We will see what the next texts say.”
  99. On Friday, at a speech in Norfolk, Virginia, Sessions said some investigators in the DOJ have strayed from their duty to be fair and partial, and it is time to return to “protecting the safety of Americans with integrity and fairness.”
  100. While Sessions did not specifically attack Mueller or his team, he did imply that some of the criticism of the DOJ is justified and called for “eliminating political bias or favoritism…from our investigations and our prosecutions.”
  101. AP reported one year after Trump pledged to donate profits from any foreign governments staying in his namesake hotels to the US Treasury, no such payments have been made to the Treasury.
  102. AP also reported despite Trump’s promise to draw a “red line” between his businesses and his administration, he has exploited vague language and created the appearance he is in fact profiting from being in office.
  103. The Trump Organization has taken in more than $600,000 from dozens of political organizations, companies, foreign governments and officials using its hotels and resorts, including Saudi, Malaysian, and pro-Turkey groups.
  104. Politico reported that the Republican National Committee’s annual winter meeting on February 1 will be held at the Trump Hotel DC.
  105. McClatchy reported that one year in, five of Trump’s top staffers still have not secured final approval of their financial reports required by law to assure Americans they are not personally benefiting from their White House jobs.
  106. The delay resulted from staffers either refusing to disclose mandated information to the Office of Government Ethics, or failing to resolve a conflict of interest or other violations — aided by a White House not forcing staffers to comply.
  107. The New Yorker reported China has been aggressively courting Kushner since the election. Kushner met with Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the US, multiple times, including meetings with Flynn or alone.
  108. According to current and former officials briefed on US intelligence,Chinese officials said Cui and Kushner, preparing for a summit at Mar-a-Lago, discussed Kushner’s business interests along with policy.
  109. In March 2017, the FBI’s chief of counterintelligence briefed Kushner on the danger of foreign-influence operations, saying he was a top target. Kushner assured him saying New York real estate is not “a baby’s business.”
  110. Despite warnings given to then-head of his transition team, Chris Christie, on planning ahead of meetings with foreign counterparts, Trump met with more than two dozen heads of state before his campaign contacted the State Department.
  111. Kushner has been unable to get full security clearance; yet, he is one of up to fourteen who are recipients of the President’s Daily Brief (PDB). Never before has someone received a PDB after not getting cleared for this long.
  112. On Friday, a federal court ruled that Kushner Cos. must disclose the identities of its business partners in several Maryland properties. The motion was filed by AP, ProPublica, WaPo, and Baltimore local media.
  113. CNN reported on Trump Hotel DC. In the first 11 months of 2017, the hotel had a 50% occupancy rate, one-third below an industry average, yet room rates were 40% higher than those of nearly two dozen DC hotels.
  114. Axios reported Trump has turned on Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Sources say in the last six months Trump has attacked Ross, saying his trade deals are terrible and he “has lost his step.” Ross has also been falling asleep in meetings.
  115. Axios also reported that Trump has turned on Zinke, who he said has “gone rogue.” Trump’s White House was not informed in advance when Zinke publicly exempted Florida from offshore drilling in Week 61.
  116. On Monday, Vanity Fair reported Ivanka is taking charge of replacing John Kelly. After a public disagreement on immigration, Trump reportedly told friends, “I’ve got another nut job here who thinks he’s running things.”
  117. Politico reported watchdog group Common Cause filed two complaints alleging the $130,000 payment to Stephanie Clifford violated campaign finance laws over non-reporting of an in-kind donation to the campaign.
  118. Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, told Politico he is willing to give Trump a “mulligan” on his past and relationship with Stephanie Clifford, so long as Trump delivers to Evangelicals on policy.
  119. Billy Graham’s granddaughter, Jerushah Armfield, disagreed, telling CNNTrump’s bad behavior is sending the wrong message to the world, adding in order to forgive, “that individual needs to repent and apologize.”
  120. On Pence’s trip to Israel, female journalists were subjected to second class treatment. On Monday, a journalist from Finland was asked to remove her bra during a security check. When she refused, she was denied entrance.
  121. The next day, on his visit to the Western Wall, female journalists were relegated to the other side of a fence, while Pence prayed on the men’s side. Female journalist coined the hashtag #pencefence on Twitter.
  122. On Wednesday, Tal Schneider, an Israeli journalist with the Globesfinancial daily, said she planned to sue Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch for gender segregation.
  123. Bloomberg reported on the dysfunctional relationship between Trump and British PM Theresa May, including frequent clashes, and May being unable to get her points across on telephone calls amid Trump’s interruptions.
  124. Trump also reportedly told May that he will not visit the UK unless she bans protests. Trump also complained about the “negative coverage” he has received in the British press.
  125. WaPo reported that according to senior officials, Trump will “affect an Indian accent” when he quotes Indian PM Narendra Modi.
  126. On Wednesday at Davos, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin brushed off concerns about a decision by 11 Pacific Rim countries to forge a new commercial bloc without the US, saying the US is open to bilateral trade deals.
  127. Also, uncharacteristically for a Treasury secretary, Mnuchin publicly commented on the dollar, which has weakened sharply in recent weeks as Chinese investors are slowing their purchases of US securities.
  128. On Wednesday at Davos, French President Emmanuel Macron laid claim to being the leader of the free world in the vacuum created by Trump pulling back from trade deals and renouncing of the Paris climate accord — both at odds with Europe.
  129. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, “It’s a transformational moment for Europe,” adding European leaders believe in globalization. A coalition of pro-European orientation is building, leaving Trump behind.
  130. A Quinnipiac poll found 67% of Americans say Trump is not a good role model for our children, and 29% think he is. By a 2:1 margin, Americans say they are embarrassed to have Trump leading our country.
  131. A district court judge in Maryland seemed inclined to open a hearing on the emoluments suit against Trump, saying he was not persuaded by a ruling in a New York court in Week 58.
  132. Courtland Sykes, a Republican candidate for the US Senate in Missouri, said in a Facebook post that women should be homemakers and not “career obsessed banshees,” and that feminists are “she devils.”
  133. The #MeToo movement continued to dominate American conversation.Larry Nassar, the former doctor for the American gymnastics team, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for multiple sex crimes, as Judge Rosemarie Aquilina proclaimed, “I just signed your death warrant.”
  134. On Friday, Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn was accused of a pattern of sexual misconduct. Trump lawyer Cohen told NBC News, “Steve is a truly great man who has been the driving force behind the RNC finance committee.” On Saturday, Wynn resigned as RNC finance chair.


New York City, November 2017
Artist: Tee Wat
New York City, November 2017
New York City, November 2017


Week 62 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

January 20, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-62-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-e261e4c56fab

Trump marked his one-year anniversary in office with a government shutdown, the first shutdown in history when a single party is in control of the House, Senate, and White House. Trump’s erratic behavior and fluid positions on issues were fuel on the flames of a country and Congress torn and divided. Conversely, the anniversary of the Women’s March celebrated millions marching in 250 cities across the country, and marked a record number of women running for office and becoming politically involved.

This week new evidence emerged of Russia’s effort to financially support Trump’s 2016 campaign, while the Mueller probe engulfed more Trump insiders quoted in Wolff’s book. With all the noise and chaos, it was again easy to miss the continued dismantling of our federal agencies, and disappearing rules and protections for women and marginalized communities.

The art featured in this week’s post is by Jim Carrey, a multi-talented, “WOKE” human. Three more brilliant pieces are featured at the bottom of this, unfortunately, extensive list: 


  1. In Week 61 a false missile warning was sent to Hawaiians on Saturday. At the time, Trump was golfing at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, and was informed within minutes while having lunch.
  2. Residents and visitors of Hawaii were not informed it was a false alarm for 38 minutes, despite state officials and Trump knowing within minutes.Frantic messages between loved ones show “goodbyes”, and “I love yous”.
  3. Trump made no mention of the incident on Saturday, instead tweeting about “fake news” and the Wolff book. On Sunday evening, Trump told the press, “Well, that was a state thing…I love that they took responsibility.”
  4. Politico reported the erroneous alert sent the White House scrambling, and raised concern about the regime’s preparedness. The regime has not yet tested a formal plan for how to respond to a domestic missile attack.
  5. On Tuesday, Japanese public broadcaster NHK issued an apology after the company’s app issued a false alert saying North Korea had likely launched a ballistic missile, warning, “evacuate inside the building or underground.”
  6. On Saturday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted a meme, “Fake news is at it again!” accusing the Wall Street Journal of misquoting Trump. The Journal quoted Trump as saying, “I probably have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un.”
  7. Late Saturday, the WSJ released the tape of the interview via a tweet. The Journal stated they have reviewed the audio “as well as the transcript provided by an external service, and stand by what we reported.”
  8. On Sunday morning, Trump attacked the WSJ, tweeting, “Obviously I didn’t say that,” and in a second tweet, “and they knew exactly what I said and meant. They just wanted a story. FAKE NEWS!”
  9. On Sunday, the WSJ issued a statement, again refuting Trump and saying the Journal stands by what was reported.
  10. Trump also said in the WSJ interview that he “should get credit for firing” James Comey, saying “it turned out I was right” because “many things have been found out about Comey” since his departure.
  11. Dozens of refugees from Puerto Rico who came to Connecticut after Hurricane Maria are set to be evicted from hotels by FEMA, after the agency said their homes back on the island are “habitable,” so they should go back.
  12. The Detroit Free Press reported after 30 years in the US, 40 year-old Jorge Garcia, a husband and father, was deported to Mexico. Garcia has no criminal record, not even a traffic ticket, and paid his taxes every year.
  13. Economic Policy Institute said if Trump’s Department of Labor proposed rule allowing employers to pocket tips so long as they pay minimum wagegoes into effect, women workers would lose $4.6 billion, 80% of the $5.8 billion lost.
  14. Politico reported Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services is planning to expand “conscience” protections for those who do not want to perform abortions or treat transgender patients based on their gender identity on the basis of moral objections.
  15. Intercept reported on a prosecutor in Whatcom County, Washington who sought a warrant to get Facebook to disclose names of anti-pipeline activists. The first two attempts were fought and won by the ACLU and Facebook.
  16. Facebook advised the prosecutor to seek formal guidance from the Department of Justice, and on the third request, using a DOJ template, the prosecutor was successful in obtaining a warrant and gained access tomessages to and from the page and a list of everyone “invited” to the protest event.
  17. Simon Edelman, a photographer for the Department of Energy, was fired after leaking a photo of Secretary Rick Perry embracing Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy, at private meeting. Edelman is seeking whistleblower protections.
  18. According to a report released by Gallup, the number of Americans without health insurance grew by 1.3%, the biggest increase since 2008, as 3.2 million Americans went uninsured during Trump’s first year.
  19. The House unveiled a bipartisan landmark sexual assault bill under which taxpayers would no longer pay for sexual harassment settlements in cases involving members of Congress, and victims would have more rights and resources when filing a complaint.
  20. An employee of the Agriculture Department anonymously issued a statement saying the USDA is being dismantled from within, citing talent flow are retiring or quitting, and positions on the front lines going unfilled.
  21. Betsy DeVos’s Education Department awarded two companies with contracts to collect overdue student loans, including Performant Financial, a company with ties to DeVos. The contracts are worth hundreds of millions.
  22. Reuters reported Simon Henshaw, a top US diplomat in charge of refugee issues resigned, becoming the third State Department senior official to depart or be reassigned from refugee work in recent weeks.
  23. McClatchy reported the unexpected departure of top ranked diplomat John Feeley sent shock waves through the State Department. Sixty percent of top-ranking career diplomats have left, and staffers wonder who will leave next.
  24. Staffers said the departure caused them reassess their commitment to a regime they feel is undercutting the department’s work and US influence in the world. New applications to join the foreign service have fallen by half.
  25. The New York Times reported that under the Trump regime, which has embraced corporate interests, the uranium mining industry is making a renewed push into areas of the Grand Canyon and Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument.
  26. Mining companies lobbied Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke extensively to shrink Utah’s national monuments, which the regime did in Week 56. Abandoned mines have already left a toxic legacy in these areas, included tainted groundwater.
  27. On Wednesday, 10 of the 12 members of the National Park Service advisory board resigned. In May 2017, Zinke suspended all outside committees while he reviewed their work. No meetings have taken place.
  28. The resignations leave the federal government without a body to designate national historic and natural landmarks, and again illustrates the extent to which the Trump regime has marginalized federal advisory boards.
  29. Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency, in a shift from past practices, is “streamlining” the safety review of new chemicals. Experts and advocates warn the regime is skipping important steps to “protect the public from hazardous chemicals.”
  30. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, now under Mick Mulvaney’s leadership, is considering repealing of a key set of rules enacted last year which protect consumers against predatory payday lenders.
  31. WSJ reported, citing funding cuts, the CDC plans to scale back or halt its work to prevent infectious-disease epidemics and other health threats in 39 foreign countries, narrowing their work down from 49 to 10 countries.
  32. Politico reported Teresa Manning, the anti-birth control official who led Trump’s HHS Title X federal family planning program, was fired last Friday. Manning maintains she resigned.
  33. On Thursday, Trump appointee Carl Higbie resigned as chief of external affairs for the volunteer service organization after CNN unearthed racist, sexist, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBTQ comments he made on radio shows.
  34. The Washington Post reported Trump has yet to put forth a nominee for 245 of the 633 key roles in the executive branch which require Senate confirmation, including the role of ambassador to South Korea.
  35. On Sunday, conservative columnist Erick Erickson tweeted Trump called friends to brag about his “shithole” countries remark, adding according to one friend, Trump “thought it would play well with the base.”
  36. On Sunday talk shows, Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue changed their recollection of not recalling Trump’s comments in Week 61, to aggressively going after Senator Dick Durbin for “gross misrepresentation,” saying the words were not spoken.
  37. On Sunday, Department of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, told “Fox News Sunday” that she did not recall Trump “saying that exact phrase,” adding Trump “will continue to use strong language” because he feels “very passionate about immigration.”
  38. On Sunday evening, Trump again denied the “shithole” countries remark to reporters, saying “I’m not a racist,” and “I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you.”
  39. On Monday, Trump attacked Durbin, branding him as “Dicky Durbin” and saying Durbin “misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting.”
  40. On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Trump went golfing and held no public events. Past US leaders from both parties have done some form of community service to commemorate King’s life of service.
  41. On Monday, in a slight towards Cotton and Purdue, Sen. Lindsey Graham said “My memory hasn’t evolved. I know what was said and I know what I said.”
  42. On Monday, WaPo reported on the past Thursday meeting on immigration. On a 10:15 a.m. call with Durbin, Trump expressed pleasure and was on board with Durbin and Graham’s bipartisan immigration pact.
  43. When Durbin and Graham arrived at the White House at noon, Trump was surrounded by immigration hardliners and was “fired up.” Trump said he was not interested in the bipartisan plan, and started his racist rant.
  44. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, based on a “Fox & Friends” segment, that his approval ratings with Black Americans has doubled and unemployment for Black Americans is the lowest ever. The approval statement is false, and unemployment for Black Americans has been declining since 2011.
  45. On Tuesday, Nielsen testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was pressed by Democrats. She told Durbin she remembered just “general profanity.” Sen. Cory Booker told Nielsen her silence and amnesia are “complicity.”
  46. A Quinnipiac poll found American voters say 58–35 percent that Trump’s alleged comments on immigrants are racist. Americans disapprove 57–38 of the job Trump is doing.
  47. On Saturday, the Trump regime’s US Citizenship and Immigration Services, following a federal court order in Week 61, resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA.
  48. On Tuesday, the Trump’s DOJ said it would take the rare step of asking the Supreme Court to overturn the federal judge’s DACA ruling and allow the regime to phase out DACA, beginning in March.
  49. On Tuesday, Jeff Sessions told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that a “good nation” does not admit immigrants who are “illiterate” and have “no skills.” Sessions also criticized Graham for reciting Emma Lazarus’ poem inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
  50. On Wednesday, Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly told Democratic lawmakers that Trump’s hard-line immigration policies were “uninformed,” and the US would never construct a wall and that Mexico would never pay for it.
  51. On Thursday, Trump took to Twitter to push back on Kelly’s remarks, saying NAFTA was “a bad joke,” and saying a reworked trade deal would make Mexico pay for his wall “directly or indirectly.”
  52. On Thursday, GOP Rep. Scott Perry falsely claimed on Tucker Carlson’s show that ISIS was behind the Las Vegas shooting, based he said on what he “believed” to be “credible evidence.”
  53. Corey Lewandowski said he would voluntarily appear before the House Intelligence Committee this week for the committee’s Russian investigation. On Tuesday, he hired lawyer Peter Chavkin, of Mintz Levin, to represent him.
  54. On Tuesday, NYT reported Steve Bannon was subpoenaed last week by Mueller, the first grand jury subpoena to a member of Trump’s inner circle. Bannon was cast aside by the Trump regime and Breitbart in Week 61.
  55. The subpoena was issued shortly after Wolff’s book, quoting Bannon, was released. NYT reported the subpoena may be a sign Bannon is not a targetof the Mueller probe since the DOJ rarely allows targets to be subpoenaed.
  56. On Tuesday, Bannon went before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors. WaPo reported that Mueller subpoenaing Bannon before he spoke to Congress may have been a way to cement his cooperation.
  57. Bannon arrived on Tuesday without documents and refused to answer questions about conversations. Bannon’s attorney William Burck said the White House had told Bannon not to respond, “executive privilege belongs to the President of the United States. It’s not Mr. Bannon’s right to waive it.”
  58. The House then issued a subpoena, but Bannon still refused to cooperate. Bannon spent more than 10 hours behind closed doors, and will be called back. As per Week 61, Burck also represents McGahn and Priebus.
  59. Late Tuesday, the Daily Beast reported according to sources, although Bannon is not cooperating with the House Intelligence Committee, he will tell all to Mueller. The House subpoena was issued by Trump ally Devin Nunes.
  60. Bloomberg reported Don McGahn’s office was deeply involved with instructing Burck on which questions Bannon could answer, raising questions of conflicts with McGahn’s role as a witness and Burck representing him.
  61. On Wednesday, chief of staff Kelly told Fox News that the White House didn’t urge Bannon to invoke executive privilege, saying, “Steve has had very, very little contact with the White House since he left.”
  62. On Wednesday, Reps. Michael Conaway and Adam Schiff instructed Bannon to return on Thursday. Burck responded the committee did not give Bannon sufficient time to prepare and to complete discussions with the White House.
  63. The committee then proposed an alternative date for Bannon to return on January 29. Bannon has yet to agree to that date.
  64. Foreign Policy reported Trump made the decision to curtail Bannon’s testimony to the House citing executive privilege based on legal advice from deputy White House counsel Uttam Dhillon. This privilege will not extend to Mueller.
  65. NBC News reported FBI agents visited Bannon’s home last week to serve him with a subpoena to testify before a grand jury as part of the Trump-Russia probe. This indicates Mueller still has a grand jury empaneled.
  66. The agents were unaware Bannon had retained Burck hours earlier. The agents then served Burck. Bannon could be interviewed by Mueller’s team before the end of the month.
  67. Axios reported Bannon made one important slip up in his House testimony, when he admitted he’d had conversations with Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, and former legal spokesman Mark Corallo about Donald Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting with Russians.
  68. Politico reported Corallo, who is mentioned in Wolff’s book, hired attorneys Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova ahead of possible being called in by Mueller’s team.
  69. Corallo spent a two-month stint on Trump’s legal team, and resigned in July 2017. Wolff’s book speculates Corallo quit in part over Trump’s role in crafting Don Jr.’s statement on the June 9 meeting.
  70. AP reported that the White House’s contention is that “pretty much everything is off limits” until Trump says it’s not. This week the House Intelligence Committee also interviewed Trump insiders Lewandowski, Rick Dearborn, and Hope Hicks.
  71. BuzzFeed reported Mueller’s team is investigating transactions marked as “suspicious activity” by Citibank, which handles Russian embassy accounts, which were sent to the US Treasury’s financial crimes unit.
  72. Included in the unusual activity was a $120,000 payment to Sergey Kislyak ten days after the election, and an attempt to withdraw $150,000 from the Russian embassy account five days after Trump’s inauguration.
  73. On Thursday, McClatchy reported the FBI is investigating whether Alexander Torshin, a top Russian banker with ties to Putin, illegally funneled money to the NRA to help Trump win the 2016 election.
  74. The NRA spent a record $55 million in 2016, including $30 million to Trump, three times what the group donated to Romney in 2012. Most was spent by an arm of the NRA which is not required to disclose donors.
  75. Torshin has ties to organized crime, and has been implicated of money laundering in Spain. Per Week 53, Torshin tried to arrange a meeting with Trump through Jared Kushner, but instead sat with Donald Jr. at a NRA dinner.
  76. On Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee released testimony by Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS. Much of the information overlaps with the Senate testimony release in Week 61, but there is additional detail,
  77. Simpson testified that he believes Trump’s golf courses in Scotland and Ireland may have been financed by illicit Russian money, something Eric Trump discussed in a radio interview with WBUR, then later denied.
  78. Simpson also singled out Trump properties in Panama and Toronto where Russian mafia figures were listed as buyers. Simpson said Russia’s mafia is under the dominion of the Russian government and Russian intelligence.
  79. Simpson said the Russian government had “infiltrated” the NRA via Torshin, and other conservative organizations to influence the US election. Ironically Simpson said, Putin is not in favor of universal gun ownership.
  80. Yahoo News reported that hacking group Shadow Brokers, which leaked hacked classified NSA manuals, very likely used Kaspersky software to exfiltrate the documents as part of a Russian intelligence operation.
  81. A status hearing for George Papadopoulos, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating in the Mueller probe, was postponed for up to 90 days, an indication the probe will stay active at least until spring.
  82. German monthly Manager Magazin reported Deutsche Bank could have information about suspicious money transfers by Kushner and Kushner Companies. Deutsche Bank has submitted the suspicious information to the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority for Germany, BaFin.
  83. Politico reported the criminal trial for Paul Manafort and Rick Gates is likely to start in September, just before the midterm elections. The judge admonished Gates for an event where lobbyists said Mueller’s team was “very unfair.”
  84. Trump attorney Ty Cobb revised his timing of when Mueller would complete the special counsel probe, saying it will be wrapped up in 4 to 6 weeks. Cobb also speculated the investigation will ultimately be immaterial.
  85. Daily News reported Omarosa Manigault-Newman may have taped West Wing conversations, and now fears being subject to the Mueller probe. A source said the WH cell phone ban was due to Omarosa’s history of recording conversations.
  86. A new poll by PBS Newshour, NPR, and Marist found that 42% of Americans have not heard of Mueller. Whether they know him or not, two-thirds of Americans want his team to be able to finish the investigation.
  87. Tristan Harris, a former Facebook manager told NBC News Facebook, which put profits ahead of users, is a “living, breathing crime scene” for the 2016 election,” adding, “only they have full access to what happened.”
  88. On Friday, Twitter announced as part of their efforts towards transparency following Congressional hearings, 677,775 people in the US were notified they had followed, tweeted or liked content from a Russia-linked bots.
  89. Twitter also updated the number of Russia-linked bots involved in US election interference to over 50,000, and raised the number associated with Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency from 1,000 to 3,800.
  90. Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock, which manages $6 trillion in investments, said he would be informing public companies they need to contribute to society, not just make profits, for BlackRock to support them.
  91. On Monday, the WSJ reported that in early 2017, US counterintelligence told Kushner that Wendi Deng Murdoch could be using her relationship with Ivanka to further the interests of the Chinese government.
  92. Kushner and Ivanka emerged as important contact points within the Trump regime for the Chinese government in early 2017. Both Kushner Companies and Ivanka’s brand have continuing business ties to China.
  93. Rep. Elijah Cummings is pushing House Oversight Committee chair Trey Gowdy to subpoena the WH for documents related to Flynn and Kushner’s security clearance. Cummings questions why their clearances were not suspended.
  94. NBC News reported watchdog group Public Citizen, in a report titled “Presidency for Sale,” analyzed monies spent at Trump properties during 2017 in order to curry favor with the president, raising concerns of conflicts of interest.
  95. The report cited four foreign governments, 16 special interest groups, and 35 Republican congressional campaign committees spent money at Trump properties in 2017. The biggest spender was Saudi Arabia.
  96. Documents obtained by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch show Trump spent an additional $3.2 million since June on flights to his properties, bringing the total money spent on Trump travel to $15.5 million.
  97. Miami Herald reported a November inspection of Mar-a-Lago turned up two priority lodging violations which could pose a “significant threat to the public health” and 15 violations in the club’s two main kitchens.
  98. Bloomberg reported that Wolff got access to the White House by pitching a sympathetic view of Trump’s first 100 days. In the inexperienced White House , almost everyone who spoke to him thought someone else had approved it.
  99. On Tuesday, Trump hosted Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, at the White House. Nazarbayev has been accused of committing human rights violations and cracking down on political opposition.
  100. At a press conference with the two leaders, Trump ordered CNN’s Jim Acosta, “Out!” after Acosta peppered Trump with questions about which immigrants Trump would let in: “Just Caucasian or white countries, sir?”
  101. On Wednesday, Sen. Jeff Flake delivered a speech on the Senate floor about Trump’s attacks on the press and the truth. Flake said Trump’s lies have eroded “trust in our vital institution.”
  102. Flake compared Trump’s rhetoric towards the media to that of Joseph Stalin, citing his repeated use of “enemy of the people,” and adding “the free press is the guardian of democracy.”
  103. Flake also criticized his colleagues for not standing up to Trump, saying “a Congress that fails to act as a check on the president adds to the danger.”
  104. Also on Wednesday, Flake’s fellow Arizona senator, John McCain, penned an op-ed telling Trump to stop attacking the press, saying Trump’s rhetoric is providing cover for regimes around the world to crack down on free press.
  105. McCain cited the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) data showing 2017 was “one of the most dangerous years to be a journalist.” CPJ also documented 21 journalists were jailed on “fake news” charges in 2017.
  106. That evening, Trump launched what was, according to him, his “Highly-Anticipated 2017 Fake News Awards,” which he tweeted were selected to single out “the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media.”
  107. Trump chose to launch his awards on the Republican National Committee website, which proceeded to crash with the incoming traffic. The website finally came back online a little over an hour later.
  108. CNN reported that Trump has used the word “fake” — “fake news,” “fake polls,” “fake media,” and “fake stories” — as an insult more than 400 timessince taking office, averaging more than once per day.
  109. On Thursday, in lieu of normal editorial page content, the NYT editorial board devoted the page entirely to letters from Trump supporters.
  110. The owner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a Trump ally, ordered the paper to run an editorial defending Trump from charges of racism. The move sparked outrage in a city where Hillary won 75% of the vote.
  111. CNN reported that a Fox News reporters, Diana Falzone, had filed a story about the alleged sexual relationship between Trump and Stephanie Clifford in October 2016, but executives at Fox News killed it. Clifford uses the stage name “Stormy Daniels.”
  112. WSJ reported Trump lawyer Michael Cohen used a private Delaware company, Essential Consultants LLC, established on October 17, 2016, to make the $130,000 payment to Stephanie Clifford cited in Week 61.
  113. Cohen listed himself as the “authorized person” for the company, rather than hiring a lawyer or an agent, a tactic used to obscure identity. Clifford was identified as “Peggy Peterson” in the agreement to hide her identity.
  114. Cohen had planned to use a Delaware company called Resolution Consultants LLC, created September 30, to make the payment. On the morning he created Essential, he dissolved Resolution two minutes later.
  115. Mother Jones reported that during a series of sexual and romantic encounters between Stephanie Clifford and Trump, he had her spank him with a Forbes magazine with him, Ivanka, and Donald Jr. on the cover.
  116. On Friday, the Trump regime rescinded 2016 guidance from the Obama administration which said defunding Planned Parenthood could be against federal law.
  117. Variety reported Trump may skip the Super Bowl pre-game interview, breaking a decades-old tradition. Trump has been highly-critical of NFLplayers for kneeling during the national anthem.
  118. On Tuesday, in a special election in the 10th state senate district in Wisconsin, Democrat Patty Schachtner won by nine points, in a district Trump carried by 17 points in 2016.
  119. On Thursday, Trump visited Pennsylvania’s 18th district where a special election for a congressional seat will be held in March. Trump tweeted he was going “to give my total support to RICK SACCONE,” a “great guy.”
  120. Later that morning, the White House denied Trump’s visit to Pennsylvania was for Saccone’s campaign. Press secretary Sanders said the trip was instead “to discuss the incredible successes his tax plan is already achieving.”
  121. A Gallup survey of 134 countries found approval of US leadership at 30% after Trump’s first year, a record low and down from 48% in Obama’s last year. China is second at 31%, and Germany is now the top-rated global power at 41%.
  122. In the Western Hemisphere, Trump’s approval plummeted: Canadian approval of US leadership fell from 60% to 20%, and Mexico approval fell from 44% to 16%. Approval of US leadership in Iceland is just 8%.
  123. Trump finished his first year with 37% approval, the lowest in modern history. Unlike his predecessors, Trump’s approval stayed in a narrow 10 point range since he took office, the least movement since Johnson.
  124. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported Trump would mark the one-year anniversary of his inauguration with a gala at Mar-a-Lago, with tickets starting at $100K a couple, and $250K to participate in a roundtable.
  125. At the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, the government shut down. This is the first government shutdown in which one party is in the control of the House, Senate, and White House.
  126. Trump was originally scheduled to fly to Mar-a-Lago on Friday at 4 p.m. He canceled due to the shutdown, but the Mar-a-Lago Saturday gala moved forward without him, with Donald Jr. and Eric hosting in his place.
  127. In Week 9, before taking office, Trump said he would hand over the family businesses to Donald Jr. and Eric, and not mix politics with business.
  128. USA Today reported a year after Trump’s inauguration, for which the committee raised a record $106.7 million, there is still no clarity or accounting of where the leftover funds have gone.
  129. Trump raised double what Obama’s committee raised, for a much smaller event. Thomas Barrack, the inaugural committee’s chairman, had said extra money would go to charity, but would not comment to USA Today.
  130. Mother Jones outlined women’s political activism in the year since the Women’s March: a record 602 are running for office in 2018, 480 of who are not incumbents; 441,808 donated $200 or more to a federal political campaign in the first half of 2017, eight times higher than 2013.
  131. On the anniversary of the historic Women’s March, millions of women, children, and male allies again took to the streets in cities across the country.
  132. The size of the Women’s March in Chicago exceeded last year, as over 300K showed. Hundreds of thousands showed up at marches in DC, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and tens of thousands in 250 cities across the country including Austin, Charlotte, Cleveland, Chattanooga, and more.



Week 60 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

January 6, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-60-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-458d00c10416

This week, as a new book by Michael Wolff on Trump’s White House dominated the news cycle, a myriad of important news stories and alarming actions and trends went largely unnoticed. Wolff’s book confirmed much of what has been speculated about Trump’s mental health and competence for the job, and left many new threads to be explored.

This week Republicans have largely united in their efforts to undermine the Russia probe, and congressional committees continued to implode, save for the Senate Intelligence Committee. Sessions, whose job as AG is again in danger, heeded Trump’s repeated call to investigate his political opponents. Resignations and chaos continued at Trump’s WH, as well as at federal agencies, which despite lacking leadership and staffing, continue to roll back regulations, rights and protections. Mueller’s probe continues to broaden and deepen, this week for the first time drawing in Ivanka.


  1. CNN reported trees were planted at Trump’s golf course in Florida where a cameraman in Week 59 had tried to get footage of Trump golfing. After saying he was getting back to work, Trump golfed seven consecutive days.
  2. According to a NBC News tally, Trump’s New Year’s Day golf-round was his91st day at a Trump golf course, and 117th day at a Trump property in his first 349 days in office.
  3. Politico reported tickets for Mar-a-Lago’s New Year’s Eve party increased to $600 for members and $750 for guests, up from $525 and $575 last year. Trump attended the party, allowing attendees potential access.
  4. Trump sent a divisive tweet to usher in the New Year, addressed to “friends, supporters, enemies, haters, and even the very dishonest Fake News Media,” adding “2018 will be a great year for America!”
  5. During 2017, Trump also tweeted to his “enemies” and “haters” on Easter, Thanksgiving and September 11.
  6. On Monday, Trump attacked Pakistan, tweeting that despite US aid, the country has “given us nothing but lies & deceit.” The WH said it would withhold $225 million of aid. Pakistan convened an emergency government meeting.
  7. On Tuesday, after giving them an exclusive interview in Week 59, Trump ripped the NYT warning its new head to hire reporters “of a much higher standard,” and to treat him ‘’fairly” or risk their reputation.
  8. On Tuesday, in a tweet, Trump said the “Deep State Justice Department must finally act” on “Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin” as well as on “Comey & others.”
  9. Seemingly heeding Trump’s repeated request, the FBI started to actively investigate the Clinton Foundation over allegations donors were promised policy favors or special access to Hillary as Secretary of State.
  10. Daily Beast reported the Department of Justice is also taking a fresh look at Hillary’s use of a private email server while SoS, focusing on what classified information was sent and the immunity agreements that Clinton aides may have made.
  11. Also on Tuesday, Trump took credit for being “very strict” on commercial aviation and there being “ZERO deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!” There has not been a fatal US passenger airline crash since 2009.
  12. Also on Tuesday, Trump tweeted, then deleted, a tweet urging his followers to watch Sean Hannity’s show “tonight at 9:00 P.M.” CREW pointed out Trump used his official platform to promote a TV show.
  13. Trump ally Sheriff David Clarke was temporarily blocked on Twitter after sending tweets calling for violence against the liberal media, including “Punch them in the nose & MAKE THEM TASTE THEIR OWN BLOOD.”
  14. Clarke will face trial on January 22 over an incident at Milwaukee’s Mitchell airport last year, for retaliating against Daniel Black on Facebook: if I “were to really harass you, you wouldn’t be around to whine about it.”
  15. At his New Year’s address, Kim Jong-un said the US should know North Korea’s nuclear force is a reality, saying he has a “button for nuclear weapons” on his table, and “the entire area of the U.S. mainland” is within striking range. He struck a conciliatory note with South Korea, however.
  16. On Tuesday, Trump responded to Kim’s threat, tweeting that my nuclear button “is a much bigger & more powerful one” and that “my Button works!” The escalation of rhetoric alarmed many on both sides.
  17. When asked by reporters about Trump’s tweet, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said Tuesday Trump “speaks for himself.”
  18. North Korea accepted an offer from South Korea to meet for peace talks, the first official contact in two years. Like the situation with Israel and Palestine, Trump’s actions have removed the US from a leadership role in diplomacy.
  19. The CDC scheduled a briefing for later this month on how to plan and prepare for a nuclear detonation, citing “Despite the fear surrounding such an event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness.”
  20. Jan Morgan, who gained national attention in 2014 for declaring her gun range a “Muslim Free Zone,” and who served as a national spokesperson for Citizens for Trump, announced her candidacy for governor of Arkansas.
  21. On Wednesday, Washington state AG Bob Ferguson sued Motel 6, saying the hotel chain disclosed information on at least 9,150 guests to ICE, including names, birth dates, driver’s license numbers, and license-plate numbers.
  22. In Week 44, Phoenix New Times reported on a Motel 6 in a predominantly Latino neighborhood sharing its guest list with ICE. Following a public outcry, Motel 6 had said the company would stop sharing lists with ICE.
  23. The OR Court of Appeals upheld a $135K fine against Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery for refusing to bake a wedding cake for two lesbians. Sessions’ DoJ filed a brief in support of bakers in CO for the same offense.
  24. The Trump regime has until Monday to decide whether to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for about 200,000 Salvadorans who have been living in the US since at least 2001.
  25. The White House and DHS have signaled for months they intend to end TPS protection as a matter of principle. In Week 52, protections were cut off for 5,300 Nicaraguans and extended for six months for 57,000 Hondurans.
  26. WAPO reported on Trump shrinking down federal agencies. As of September, all cabinet departments except Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Interior have fewer employees than in January 2017 when Trump took office.
  27. Trump’s WH, which proposed funding cuts of 30% at some agencies for 2018, warned about deeper cuts in the 2019 budget. The president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said “morale has never been lower.”
  28. Trump has also been far slower than his predecessors make appointments for key leadership roles in the executive branch, with just 240 of 624 positions that require Senate confirmation filled so far.
  29. Trump is expected to pick Thomas Brunell to run the 2020 Census, a job typically held by nonpartisan civil servants. Picking Brunell, a deeply partisan professor with no government experience, is causing alarm.
  30. The Federal Transit Administration notified New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie that the Trump regime is canceling the Obama administration’s commitment to fund 50% of a multibillion-dollar tunnel connecting NJ to Penn Station.
  31. WV Public Broadcasting reported the total number of US coal mining fatalities almost doubled in 2017, reaching 15, up from 8 in 2016.
  32. On Wednesday, Sessions used executive authority to name seventeen interim US Attorneys. Seven of the appointed attorneys have reached the 300-day limit on the role they’d been serving as acting attorney, and the remainder will replace other acting attorneys. In March 2017 Trump fired dozens of attorneys general.
  33. Sessions appointed Geoffrey Berman, a law partner of Rudy Giuliani, as interim US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the district where Trump lives and the Trump Organization operates.
  34. In Week 50, Trump personally interviewed Berman and candidates for the Eastern District and the District of Columbia. Sen. Richard Blumenthal called the appointment, “absolutely abhorrent to the rule of law.”
  35. NY Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she found it “deeply disturbing” that Trump had interviewed Berman, saying it raises concerns about Berman’s independence. Gillibrand said she would oppose a Berman nomination.
  36. On Wednesday, Trump signed an order disbanding his Election Integrity Commission amid infighting, lawsuits and state officials’ refusal to cooperate. Trump still claims 3 to 5 million people voted illegally in 2016.
  37. The commission’s controversial vice-chair Kris Kobach described the decision as a “tactical change,” arguing the DHS can pursue an investigation of election fraud more quickly and efficiently.
  38. On Thursday, the Trump regime unveiled a draft of a controversial proposal which would permit drilling in most US continental-shelf waters, including protected areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic.
  39. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said, “This is a clear difference between energy weakness and energy dominance.” The plan, which will open 47 potential areas where companies can buy leases, was cheered by oil and gas industry groups.
  40. Governors from both parties immediately spoke out against the plan, saying oil drilling should not be allowed off their coast.
  41. Offshore drilling led to one of the worst environmental disasters in US history, Deepwater Horizon. Sen. Bill Nelson said he would try to use the Congressional Review Act put in place after that oil spill to try to block the plan.
  42. WAPO reported Congressional Republicans quietly allowed a tax on oil companies of 9 cents-per-barrel, that generated an average of $500 million annually for federal oil-spill response efforts, to expire this week.
  43. Trump’s HUD announced in a notice published Friday that it will delay enforcement of an Obama-era federal housing rule that requires communities to address patterns of racial residential segregation.
  44. HUD’s notice said the delay is necessary to give local communities technical assistance. Advocates fear the Trump regime will entirely undo the rule, which HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Republicans in Congress are against.
  45. On Thursday, Sessions rescinded Obama-era rules which stopped the federal government from interfering with marijuana-friendly state laws. Sessions said future prosecutions would be up individual US attorneys.
  46. Gary Cohn told Bloomberg a Senate bill to roll back the Dodd-Frank Act to exempt small and mid-size banks from the most stringent rules would “hopefully” hit the floor in January and pass the House in the first quarter.
  47. IBT reported, according to corporate documents, Goldman Sachs moved to block an initiative brought forward by its shareholders to force the company’s executives to disclose their efforts to influence politicians.
  48. WSJ examined millions of public comments on federal regulations, and found thousands of fraudulent comments in hot button areas like net neutrality and payday lending, favoring an anti-regulation stance.
  49. The WSJ contacted a random sample of 2,757 people whose emails were used to post 818,000 comments, and 72% said they had nothing to do with the comments posted using their email address.
  50. Fake comments were found on FCC, FERC, CFPB, and SEC websites. A spokesperson for the FCC said the agency received more than 400,000 comments “from the same address in Russia.”
  51. Politico reported WH aides are anxious about 2018. The WH has already faced a brain drain with more departures expected in the coming year. At the same time, the WH is having trouble recruiting top talent.
  52. Working in the shadow of the Mueller probe and heading into what will very likely be punishing midterms for Republicans, aides expect limited prospects of accomplishing any major legislation.
  53. Aides also fear the wrath of Trump, and his dark moods as the Mueller probe progresses, and Trump realizes it is not coming to a quick end as his attorneys have been promising.
  54. WAPO reported Rep. Devin Nunes’s targeting of Mueller and the FBI, after Nunes was cleared of allegations of disclosing confidential information in December, is alarming Democrats and even some of his Republican allies.
  55. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee also say Nunes is rushing to shut the committee down and absolve Trump, and has in the meantime squashed their attempts to subpoena key figures including Sessions and Donald Jr.
  56. On Wednesday, Rod Rosenstein and Chris Wray made an unannounced visit to the office of Speaker Paul Ryan, reportedly to discuss requests issued over the summer by House Intelligence Committee chair Nunes.
  57. The investigative documents Nunes subpoenaed are related to the Steele dossier, and are considered sensitive by the FBI and are rarely released or shared outside the bureau.
  58. On Thursday, CNN reported that Ryan backed Nunes, and an agreement was reached to allow House Intelligence Committee members to view the documents at the DoJ, but not taken from DoJ or FBI possession.
  59. CNN reported Trump’s lawyers met with Mueller’s team a few days before Christmas. Despite earlier statements, Trump’s lawyers are no longer putting a date on when the investigation will end.
  60. On Thursday, NYT reported Trump instructed Don McGahn to stop Sessions from recusing himself from the DoJ Trump-Russia probe, saying he needed his AG to protect him. Trump reportedly said, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?”
  61. Mueller’s team is aware of this interaction, and has also received handwritten notes from Priebus, which say Trump told him he had called Comey to urge him to publicly say that he was not under investigation.
  62. NYT also reported Uttam Dhillon, one of McGahn’s deputies, misled Trump about his ability to fire Comey because he was convinced if Trump did, the DoJ would open an investigation into Trump derailing the probe.
  63. NBC News further reported that not only McGahn, but also multiple other WH officials tried to talk Sessions out of recusing himself from the Russia probe. Trump reportedly was behind these efforts.
  64. Counting Trump’s efforts to try to prevent Sessions’ recusal, WAPO counted a total of eight times Trump took heavy-handed actions in an effort to try to end the Russia probe.
  65. Four days before Comey was fired, an aide to Sessions asked a Capitol Hill staffer for derogatory information about Comey. Reportedly, Sessions wanted one negative article per day in the media about Comey.
  66. In an op-ed, Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch, founders of Fusion GPS, expressed frustration that their 21 hours of congressional testimony has not been made public, while Republicans selectively leak pieces of it.
  67. Simpson and Fritsch say the dossier did not give rise to the FBI investigation. They also suggested congress look into Trump’s bank records at Deutsche Bank, and property sales with laundered money.
  68. They said Steele’s investigation revealed the Kremlin helped elect Trump. Steele saw this as a crime in progress and decided he needed to report it to the FBI, which he did without involvement of Fusion or its clients.
  69. CNN reported the House Intelligence Committee probe is likely to break down along partisan lines, with the two sides likely to issue competing reports with vastly different conclusions on the Russia investigation.
  70. Paul Manafort sued Mueller and asked a federal court to narrow the special counsel’s authority, arguing Mueller has gone too far. The suit is part of a pattern of Republicans seeking to discredit the Mueller investigation.
  71. On Friday, Sen Chuck Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham sent the committee’s first criminal referral to the DoJ, suggesting they investigate dossier author Steele for possibly lying to the FBI.
  72. The letter is part of Republicans’ growing chorus of challenges to the credibility of the FBI, asserting the dossier is being used by the FBI as a weapon in a political smear campaign.
  73. CNN reported the Trump Organization gave Mueller documents on a range of events, conversations, and meetings that took place between June 2015, when Trump announced his candidacy, and January 2017.
  74. Investigators also received documents about Donald Jr.’s paid speech to a Russia-friendly think tank in Paris shortly before the 2016 election, and Trump’s foreign policy speech in April 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel, which Sergey Kislyak attended. George Papadopoulos helped edit Trump’s speech.
  75. The Trump Org also turned over documents about Sergei Millian, a Russian-American businessman who has had contacts with Trump’s teamover the years, and according to WAPO, could be a source in the dossier.
  76. On Friday, the FBI published internal documents on their website which show, contrary to Trump’s assertions, Andrew McCabe had no conflicts when he assumed oversight of the Clinton investigation in February 2016. His wife lost her bid for a VA senate seat three months prior.
  77. LA Times reported Mueller’s team is calling back at least one participant from the June 9 Trump Tower meeting, possibly as part of investigating obstruction of justice by Trump for his role in Donald Jr.’s statement.
  78. Investigators are also exploring Ivanka’s involvement. Although she did not attend the June 9 meeting, she did speak to Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin on the elevator as they were leaving the building.
  79. In Wolff’s book, Steve Bannon is cited as speculating that Donald Jr. brought the Russians up to meet Trump: “The chance that Don Jr. did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero.”
  80. AP reported despite Trump frequently evoking Chicago in racist ways as an example of uncontrolled violence, the city actually saw a drop in homicides from 771 in 2016 to 650 in 2017.
  81. Trump became the first US leader in 40 years not to visit Canada in his first calendar year in office.
  82. On Wednesday, the Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland criticized Wilbur Ross’s decision to impose lumber duties, calling them “unfair, unwarranted and troubling,” and vowed to fight the US action.
  83. The US trade deficit ballooned to the highest level in almost six years.
  84. On Wednesday, two Democrats were sworn into the Senate, cutting the Republicans edge to 51–49. Doug Jones was the winner of AL’s special election for Sessions’ seat, and Tina Smith of MN after Franken resigned.
  85. The home of Tina Johnson, who publicly accused Roy Moore of groping her, was destroyed in a fire on Wednesday. An investigation into possible arson is underway.
  86. On Tuesday, four months after rescinding DACA, Trump attacked Democrats tweeting, “Democrats are doing nothing for DACA,” adding Hispanics will be “falling in love” with him and Republicans for results.
  87. Republicans and Democrats worked on a DACA compromise, but remained divided over Trump’s insistence on getting funding to build his Wall on the border of Mexico.
  88. On Friday, the Trump regime asked Congress to set aside $18 billion over 10 years to build his Wall, and provided the most detailed description yet of a 700-mile barrier to Mexico.
  89. Newsweek reported on a short-supply of IV bags on the US mainland because the bags are manufactured in Puerto Rico at a factory still damaged by Hurricane Maria.
  90. On Wednesday, news broke of an explosive new book by Michael Wolff. Among the early headlines were Bannon describing Donald Jr.’s June 9 Trump Tower meeting with Russians as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”
  91. Wolff also asserts in Fire and Fury that Trump didn’t expect or want to win the election, and was totally unprepared to staff the WH and for what came next, explaining in part why Bannon had so much power at the start.
  92. Also from Wolff’s book, when Hope Hicks expressed concern to Trump and sons about Corey Lewandowski’s treatment by the media, Trump responded, “You’ve already done enough for him. You’re the best piece of tail he’ll ever have.”
  93. Also on women, Trump allegedly called Sally Yates “such a cunt” for blocking his request; Melania allegedly cried on Election Day and Kellyanne Conway didn’t think Trump would win; and Ivanka fancies herself as the first woman president.
  94. According to the book, Mark Corallo, a spokesperson for Trump’s legal team, resigned after the Air Force One trip where Trump crafted Donald Jr.’s June 9 meeting response, fearing it represented obstruction of justice.
  95. Bloomberg reported former deputy WH chief of staff Katie Walsh may be fired from a pro-Trump political group and the RNC for comments in the book that working with Trump is “like trying to figure out what a child wants.”
  96. On Wednesday, Trump issued a written statement lambasting Bannon, saying Bannon “has nothing to do with me or my presidency” and after being fired, Bannon has “lost his mind.”
  97. On Thursday, WSJ reported Robert and Rebekah Mercer are distancing themselves from Bannon. Also, they and other Breitbart News Network LLC board members were discussing ousting Bannon as chairman.
  98. NYT reported the Mercers have also cut off funding for Bannon’s personal protective detail. Ties to Bannon are cited as one of the reason’s Robert Mercer was forced to step down from running Renaissance Technologies.
  99. Late Wednesday, Trump’s attorney sent Bannon a cease and desist letter demanding he refrain from making disparaging comments against Trump and his family.
  100. Trump tweeted that Wolff had “zero access to the White House” and the book is “Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist.” Politifact rated Trump’s claim that Wolff didn’t have access as false.
  101. Axios reported that Wolff has dozens of hours of interview tapes to back up his book. Wolff also spent hours at a time in private areas of the West Wing, including Reince Priebus’ office.
  102. In an excerpt published in New York Magazine, Wolff said he conducted “more than 200 interviews” over a period of 18 months with Trump, most members of his senior staff, and many people who they spoke to.
  103. On Thursday, Trump attorney Charles Harder sent a letter to Wolff and his publisher, Henry Holt, demanding the publisher “cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination” of the book.
  104. Henry Holt moved up the release date of the book by four days, from January 9 to January 5 “due to unprecedented demand.” The publisher acknowledged receiving the letter, but proceeded with publication.
  105. The contents in Wolff’s book confirmed many of the suspicions, or as one journalists called it, the “open secret,” about Trump’s temperament, mental health and incompetence — and the chaos of his White House.
  106. Politico reported that concerned lawmakers invited Yale University psychiatry professor Dr. Bandy X. Lee to Capitol Hill for two days in December to testify about Trump’s mental health.
  107. Lee reportedly told the Democrats and one Republican senator, “We feel that the rush of tweeting is an indication of his falling apart under stress.” Concern grew about Trump’s fitness to serve after his tweet to Kim Jong-un.
  108. Wolff wrote in his op-ed on Trump, “Everybody was painfully aware of the increasing pace of his repetitions. It used to be inside of 30 minutes he’d repeat, word-for-word and expression-for-expression, the same three stories — now it was within 10 minutes.”
  109. Wolff also claimed at Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a “heavily made-up Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends.”
  110. Hoda Kotb was named co-anchor of NBC’s “Today” show, as NBC replaced disgraced Matt Lauer. This marks the first time a pair of women will co-anchor the show.
  111. Out Smart reported at least 42 openly LGBTQ Texans are running for office in 2018, roughly three-times the number in any previous cycle.
  112. On Thursday, citing security concerns and leaks, Trump’s WH banned staff from using personal mobile phones while at work. Kelly imposed the ban, which had was previously announced, but now will be enacted.
  113. Roger Stone retroactively registered as a lobbyist for Capstone Financial Group, a venture capital firm seeking to invest in commodities in Somalia. Stone’s work began May 1, 2017, and the deadline to register is 45 days.
  114. Recode reported FCC chair Ajit Pai canceled his scheduled appearances at 2018 International CES, a major tech industry trade show, because according to sources, he has received death threats.
  115. McClatchy reported foreign governments are finding ways to give the Trump Organization business in order to curry favor with Trump, possibly in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
  116. Trump’s name is on resorts and golf courses in over two dozen countries.McClatchy cited conflicts of interest involving Indonesia, Panama, Uruguay, India, the Philippines, China, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea.
  117. Politico reported Kushner, who has an extensive international portfolio, is very dismissive about the role of international institutions and alliances, reportedly saying “I’m a businessman, and I don’t care about the past.”
  118. Politico also reported on infighting in the Trump regime on foreign policy, leading to a high level of dysfunction. High level officials have not been able to tame Trump or get him to adhere to consistent policy.
  119. WAPO reported Trump has made 1,950 false or misleading claims in his first 347 days of office, averaging 5.6 per day.
  120. BuzzFeed reported Peter Thiel, working with the Mercers, is exploring setting up a conservative cable news network to compete with Fox News. Thiel had originally enlisted Roger Ailes to help, according to Wolff’s book.
  121. At Thursday’s press briefing, Trump addressed the press about the tax bill, but rather than walk down the hall to do it in person, the message was delivered via a video displayed on screens behind press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
  122. Pence lost two more senior aides as Mark Paoletta and Daris Meeks, his chief lawyer and domestic policy director, resigned. This follows the recent departure of Pence’s chief of staff and press secretary.
  123. National Security Agency director Mike Rogers announced he plans to retire this spring. Rogers said he hopes to have his successor named and confirmed this month.
  124. Senior Treasury official Shannon McGahn announced her resignation, becoming the first high-profile departure from the department. Shannon is the wife of Don McGahn, the chief WH counsel.
  125. Twitter announced Friday that world leaders like Trump have special status on the social media network, and blocking a world leader “would hide important information people should be able to see and debate.”
  126. This weekend, Trump is hosting a retreat at Camp David for congressional leaders and members of his cabinet, allegedly to discuss 2018 legislative priorities. Noticeably, Sessions was excluded from the weekend.
  127. On Friday, Politico reported Scott Pruitt has told friends and associates he is interested in the job of attorney general. Pruitt was invited to the Camp David retreat.
  128. Late Friday, Trump attacked Bannon and Wolff again, tweeting “Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories” to sell his book, and used “Sloppy Steve Bannon who cried when he got fired and begged for his job.”
  129. On Saturday morning, Trump continued his pushback on the book’s assertions about his mental health and competence, tweeting he’s “like, really smart” and a “very stable genius.”
  130. Trump also tweeted Russian collusion after a year of study is a “total hoax” by “the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media.”
New York City in November 2017.
“Dump Trump” by Hanksy. New York City.
Brooklyn, New York
Halloween mask in a a store window in the West Village, New York City. October 2017.


Week 59 of liar-in-chief’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

December 30, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-59-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-cb6ff326e3b1

In what was expected to be a quiet holiday week, Trump managed to generate a fair amount of controversy and concern. Along with his regime and some in the Republican Party, Trump continued to attack American institutions and Mueller. A NYT interview revealed Trump still does not understand, or choose to accept, the boundaries of his power in our democracy — and he continues to lie, irreverently. The issue of Trump’s mental health also resurfaced this week.

As Republicans and Trump’s White House prepare for the wrath of the American people in 2018 — the Resistance and even their own shrinking base — Trump seems cocooned from news and real information. The Mueller probe continues in earnest and is expanding its focus, just as Trump’s lawyers continue to assure him the investigation will soon conclude — setting the two on a collision course heading into 2018.

One of the top murals of 2017: Artist RAMSTEKO in Mexico. Photographer unknown.
  1. On Saturday, WAPO reported FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe plans to retire when he becomes eligible for his full pension in early March. McCabe has been a target of Republicans for more than a year.
  2. Shortly after, Trump attacked McCabe, tweeting how can he “along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation…be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?”
  3. Trump’s claims on both the source of the donation and it being made while McCabe was involved in the Clinton email investigation are false. Trump also tweeted, “McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits.”
  4. Following his Twitter attacks on McCabe, Trump next attacked the FBI’s top lawyer, who in Week 58 is being reassigned by FBI director Christopher Wray: “Wow, “FBI lawyer James Baker reassigned,” according to @FoxNews.”
  5. On Christmas Eve, Trump continued his attacks on McCabe, tweeting in addition to his other false claim about donations to McCabe’s wife, McCabe used “his FBI Official Email Account to promote her campaign.”
  6. On Tuesday, Trump attacked the FBI and Clinton, this time related to the “bogus” and “pile of garbage” dossier, tweeting, “Clinton Campaign, DNC funded Dossier. FBI CANNOT (after all of this time) VERIFY CLAIMS.”
  7. On Tuesday, Republican Rep. Francis Rooney called for a “purge” of the FBI, telling MSNBC the FBI leadership should get rid of “deep state” figures at work in the agency.
  8. A 17 year-old was charged with murdering his girlfriend’s parents in Reston, VA. Her parents had reported the boyfriend’s neo-Nazi texts to the children’s school, and pushed their daughter to break-up with him.
  9. Two months before the murder, a swastika roughly 40 feet across was mowed into the grass of a community field, allegedly by the same teen. Residents now regret telling the parents rather than the police.
  10. A WH intern posing in a group photo with Trump in November flashed a white power sign while the other interns gave a thumbs up. The intern, Jack Breuer, has worked for Stephen Miller since September.
  11. At the request of the nursing home industry, the Trump regime scaled back the use of fines against nursing homes that harm residents or place them in grave risk of injury — such as neglect, mistreatment, and bedsores.
  12. Slate reported under the new temporary leadership of Mick Mulvaney, theConsumer Financial Protection Bureau’s mission statement now lists as its first order of business hunting down “outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome regulations.”
  13. The Tennessean reported on a new policy which expressly prohibits “hand-carried signs and signs on hand sticks” at the new home of the state legislature, calling them a safety hazard. Guns, however, are allowed.
  14. WAPO reported on other efforts within the Trump regime to control the usage of words: the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention issued a “language guidance” document to employees and contractors.
  15. The one-page document suggests changes such as using “all youth” instead of “underserved youth,” and referring to young people who commit crimes as “offenders” rather than “system-involved or justice-involved youths.”
  16. WSJ reported many of the thousands of comments criticizing the Obama-era Labor Department “fiduciary rule,” which requires investment advisers handling retirement accounts to act in the best interest of clients, are fake.
  17. On Wednesday, the remaining 16 members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS were notified via a FedExed letter that they were fired. Six other members resigned in Week 32 in a public letter, saying Trump doesn’t care about HIV/AIDS or have a strategy.
  18. On Christmas Eve, Trump also took credit that “People are proud to be saying Merry Christmas again,” tweeting he “led the charge against the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase.”
  19. A $1 million propaganda-like TV ad campaign featuring ‘everyday Americans’ thanking Trump for many things including “for letting us say, ‘merry Christmas’ again,” started airing Christmas Day.
  20. Trump retweeted an image depicting the letters ‘CNN’ squashed in a blood-like splatter beneath his shoe, originally tweeted by oregon4TRUMP as a reply to one of his tweets boasting about his first-year achievements.
  21. Numerous journalists criticized Trump’s retweet of the CNN imagery. This is the third time Trump has tweeted violent imagery against CNN, including a train hitting the CNN logo and Trump wrestling down the logo.
  22. NYT reported that ahead of the sale of 21st Century Fox to the Walt Disney Company, Trump called Rupert Murdoch to get his assurance that Fox News Channel would not be affected.
  23. On Friday, Trump attacked Amazon in a tweet, asking “Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer? Should be charging MUCH MORE!” Amazon’s shares traded down on the tweet.
  24. A senior editor at conservative National Review noted that the owner of Amazon owns WAPO, but if Jeff Bezos “owned a Trump-friendly outlet, would the president be tweeting this way? Is this really the way a president ought to act?”
  25. As repeatedly noted in The Weekly List, Trump has attacked other public companies on Twitter to try to influence their behavior including Boeing and Lockheed, Ford and Fiat, and AT&T and Time Warner.
  26. AP reported over three months since Hurricane Maria, just 55% or 1.5 million Puerto Ricans have electricity. The US Army Corps of Engineers has said it will take until May for the entire island to have power.
  27. ABC reported on the lack of supplies to repair electricity: PREPA needs 52,480 poles, had 6,228 on December 15 with another 8,500 to arrive by year-end. PREPA needs 17 million conductors but has just 347,000.
  28. Vox reported as we approach 100 days since Maria, hundreds of thousands have fled the island; FEMA in its longest activation in history is “tapped out;” the death count is unknown; and Trump as a leader has failed.
  29. Guardian reported that in November, the FBI and US Treasury asked officials in Cyprus for financial information about FBME Bank, a Russian-linked defunct bank, accused by the US government of money laundering.
  30. The request for information from FBME Bank may be tied to Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign, specifically Paul Manafort. Mueller’s team is continuing to examine money flows from Cyprus.
  31. Bloomberg reported FBME Bank is subject of an investigation by the US attorney’s office in New York for possible money laundering, specifically the flow of illegal Russian funds into the New York real estate market.
  32. GQ reported that in June the Commercial Bank of Dubai asked to subpoena Ivanka’s now-defunct fine jewelry line in the Southern District of NY, claiming its diamonds were used to hide money owed to the bank.
  33. The bank alleges the Al-Saris family borrowed more than $100 million from the bank, defaulted on the loan, then hid the money by buying diamonds, including some from Ivanka’s jewelry line.
  34. Although permission was granted for the subpoena in August, the bank has yet to move forward. In recent months, Trump and Kushner have sided with the Saudis and Emiratis, owner of the bank, on the blockade of Qatar.
  35. Russian election officials barred opposition leader Alexei Navalny from running for president in the upcoming election. Navalny called for a boycott in an effort to lower turnout and show a lack of support of Putin.
  36. On Monday, WSJ reported Jay Sekulow reasserted that the parts of the Mueller investigation having to do with Trump will end soon, saying Trump’s legal team is “looking forward to an expeditious wrapping up.”
  37. WAPO reported on Russia’s disinformation campaign which sought to influence our election. Miscalculations, inertia, and an underfunded bureaucracy to counter disinformation left the US vulnerable.
  38. Russia hacked the State Department and WH in 2014, before hacking the DNC and others. A US government delegation flew to NATO headquarters before Trump took office to warn our allies, who said they already knew.
  39. WAPO cited a FBI counterintelligence operation, “Northern Night,” which followed Kremlin-tied freelance journalists, who, using pseudonyms, wrote articles to undermine US democratic institutions during the 2016 election.
  40. With the 2018 election approaching, Trump and the WH have played down Russian interference, which is likely to continue, instead saying US intelligence is doing the bidding of the Democrats to undermine Trump.
  41. BuzzFeed reported the Senate Intelligence Committee plans to wrap up its Trump-Russia probe in the early part of 2018. Chairs Richard Burr and Mark Warner face public pressure to conclude the investigation, including for Burr from Trump.
  42. Warner credits the committee with exposing social media’s role in Russian interference, and having concluded that “Russia massively interfered” in the election and “attempted to tap into” the electoral systems of 21 states.
  43. A witness list for January has not been provided, and Burr said it is unlikely there will be more public hearings. The hope is that the committee will be able to release a bipartisan report. The House committee was plagued by partisan issues.
  44. A WAPO op-ed noted that Russia hasn’t stopped its cyberattacks on the US. Russian trolls still play an active role in attacking the FBI, our media, and Republicans who oppose Trump, as well as spreading conspiracy theories.
  45. Michael Morell, former CIA director, and Michael Rogers, former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, co-authors of the op-ed, also noted Russia continues to actively work to sow doubt about Mueller.
  46. BuzzFeed reported that according to documents and two whistleblowers, the fingerprint-analysis software used by the FBI and more than 18K US law enforcement agencies contains code created by a Russian firm, Papillon.
  47. The code was inserted by a French company, a subsidiary of Safran, which hid the information from the FBI. Papillon has close ties to the Kremlin, and its products are widely used by Russian agencies and the FSB.
  48. Yahoo reported the Mueller probe has outgrown Trump’s dismissive “witch hunt” label, and as is heading to a crossroads as Trump’s legal team presses Mueller to wind things down while Mueller’s team is pursuing new leads.
  49. In the last few weeks, Mueller’s team has started questioning Republican National Committee staffers about the party’s digital operation that worked with the Trump campaign to target voters in key swing states.
  50. Mueller’s team is investigation whether the Trump campaign worked with Russian trolls and bots to influence the election. Kushner, head of digital operations for the campaign, is seeking a crisis management firm.
  51. Axios confirmed one recent contact made by Mueller’s team to a former Republican National Committee staffer. DC insiders believe if there was Trump-Russia collusion, it likely occurred through Trump’s data operation.
  52. WAPO reported federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have requested records on the $285 million loan that Deutsche Bank made to Kushner’s family real estate company one month before the election. Kushner Cos. is cooperating.
  53. The $285 million loan refinanced a 2015 purchase Kushner made from Putin crony Lev Leviev of four floors at the New York Times headquarters, and provided Kushner $74 million more than he had paid for the transaction.
  54. Washington Examiner reported Rep. Devin Nunes issued a subpoena to David Kramer, a senior fellow at the McCain Institute for International Leadership, who traveled to traveled to London to pick up a copy of the dossier for Sen. John McCain.
  55. On Thursday, Nunes wrote a letter to Rod Rosenstein accusing the DOJ of ignoring his subpoenas sent in August for information on the dossier, and saying the response is “disingenuous at best.”
  56. WAPO reported Trump’s legal team is preparing a strategy to portray Michael Flynn as a liar seeking to protect himself if he accuses Trump or his senior aides of wrongdoing in the Mueller probe. Lawyers say this is standard practice.
  57. Trump’s lawyers cite Flynn signing the plea deal after admitting he had lied to the FBI. The approach would break from what Trump has been publicly saying, often complimenting and defending Flynn.
  58. NYT reported the FBI’s Russia inquiry began because of a May 2016 conversation between George Papadopoulos and Australia’s top diplomat in Britain at a London bar. Papadopoulos bragged Russia had dirt on Hillary.
  59. In July 2016, when hacked Democratic emails started appearing online, Australian officials passed information about the Papadopoulos conversation to their American counterparts.
  60. Shortly after, the FBI opened an investigation into Russian interference in the election, and whether the Trump campaign conspired. The Trump regime has been alleging the investigation began because of the dossier.
  61. Although the Trump regime dismissed him as a “coffee boy,” Papadopoulos edited Trump’s first major foreign policy speech in April 2016, and told a Russian contact the speech should be taken as “the signal to meet.”
  62. On Tuesday, Trump again claimed Obamacare is repealed, tweeting, “our Tax Cut Bill […] essentially Repeals (over time) ObamaCare.” According to an Economist/YouGov poll almost half of Republicans believe this false claim.
  63. NYT reported on a surge in Democrats running for Congress in 2018: so far, Democrats have filed to run in all but 20 districts held by Republicans, while Republicans have yet to field a candidate in 80 districts.
  64. Following UN pushback on Trump’s Jerusalem decision, ambassador Nikki Haley announced the US will cut $285 million from its 2018–2019 UN budget, vowing to “no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of.”
  65. WSJ reported Trump has spent nearly one-third of his first year in office at Trump-owned properties, including 40 days at his golf course in Bedminster, 40 days at Mar-a-Lago, and various others.
  66. WSJ noted Trump had said he would transfer profits earned from foreign government at his properties to the US Treasury this year, but he has yet to provide tracking information or disclose how much will be transferred.
  67. Daily Beast reported although many Trump properties are losing business, the Trump Hotel DC is thriving. Trump and his advisers visit frequently, and it has become a place to be seen for both Republicans and tourists.
  68. Although Trump said he not be involved with the family business, an email from the hotel director of revenue shows Trump is very involved still, asking “about banquet revenues and demographics” at a recent meeting.
  69. CBS News reported Trump told friends at a dinner Friday night at Mar-a-Lago, “You all just got a lot richer,” referencing the Republican tax bill he had just signed into law hours earlier.
  70. WSJ reported Ivanka is a “walking billboard” for her brands. The Journal analyzed what Ivanka wore in her social media posts about official appearances, and found 68% include her dresses, shoes, bags, or jewelry.
  71. LA Times reported that while Trump claims he has boosted US influence in his first year, in fact, the opposite is true: he has reduced or altered the country’s influence in ways which are less constructive.
  72. Areas of lost influence include: China now leading on climate change, Russia has taken over Syrian peace talks, Germany and France effectively the NATO leaders, and leading talks in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  73. Breaking a 15 year tradition for Defense Secretaries, Jim Mattis did not visit US troops in a war zone during December to thank service members in combat and separated from their families.
  74. AP reported Trump is the first US leader since Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s to end his first year in office without hosting a single state dinner for foreign counterparts. Close interest will be paid to the first invitation.
  75. Politico reported on the lack of transparency surrounding Trump’s Cabinet. Eight of the 17 Cabinet heads do not release information on their planned schedules or travels, and four provide only sporadic details.
  76. In addition, at least six won’t release appointment calendars, or who their leaders had met with, what they discussed and where they traveled — a potential violation of the Freedom of Information Act.
  77. Information released reveals cabinet members meeting with businesses, and their lobbyists, that they are meant to regulate. There is also concern about hidden policy agendas, and taxpayer reimbursement for personal travel.
  78. On Thursday, Trump mocked climate change, tweeting “it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record,” and “we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming.”
  79. Weather Channel explained that Trump had “confused” the difference between weather and climate, the latter being “how the atmosphere ‘behaves’ over relatively long periods of time.”
  80. Ten more US cities, for a total of 67, have signed on to the Chicago Climate Charter, which requires participating cities to abide by many of the climate guidelines set by the Paris climate accord.
  81. Sen. Orrin Hatch tweeted he was “Grateful for this great Christmas honor” from the Salt Lake Tribune before reading the scathing editorial, calling Hatch out for his power grab and for his complicity with Trump on shrinking two Utah national monuments in Week 56.
  82. A Marist poll found “being a better person” as the top New Year’s resolution for 2018 for the second year in a row. In the previous decade, “losing weight” topped the list 80% of the time.
  83. The Library of Congress announced that starting January 1, 2018, it will acquire tweets on a selective basis only. For the first 12 years (2006–2017) of Twitter’s existence, every tweet was archived.
  84. On Tuesday, the FBI Agents Association announced it received $140K in donations amid the ongoing criticism of the agency led by Trump. Friends of the FBI agents attacked had led the call for donations on Twitter.
  85. On Monday, Christmas Day, Trump tweeted he would get “back to work in order to make America Great Again,” starting tomorrow. Instead, Trump spent the next five days at Trump branded golf courses.
  86. On Thursday, CNN reported when their cameraman tried to get footage of Trump golfing at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, a large white truck pulled up and obscured journalists’ views.
  87. On Wednesday, at a West Palm Beach fire station, Trump bragged he had “signed more legislation than anybody. We broke the record of Harry Truman.” Politifact rated this claim as “false,” finding Trump ranks lastamong the past 10 US leaders who began their term on the regular cycle.
  88. A new poll of New Hampshire voters by American Research Group showed Trump’s approval has fallen to 27%, with 63% disapproval.
  89. On Wednesday, Roy Moore filed a complaint alleging voter fraud in Alabama’s special election and urging a delay in certifying the results. The judge denied Moore’s complaint.
  90. On Thursday, Alabama election officials certified Doug Jones as the winner of the special Senate election. Nonetheless, Moore stood by his claimsincluding that the election was fraudulent, and refused to concede.
  91. On Thursday, Trump attacked Vanity Fair on Twitter for their apology for a Hillary video, while mocking Anna Wintour saying she is “beside herself in grief & begging for forgiveness!” Wintour is EIC of Vogue, not Vanity Fair.
  92. An op-ed titled, “2017 Was The Year That The Internet Destroyed Our Shared Reality,” described how Trump, pro-Trump media and conspiratorial hyper-partisans have fomented two versions of reality.
  93. Newsweek reported the Interior Department mistakenly used $39K in wildfire preparedness funds for an unrelated helicopter trip for Secretary Ryan Zinke last summer. Zinke faces continuing criticism and scrutiny of this travel expenses.
  94. WAPO reported while Trump is in Mar-a-Lago, his WH aides are looking to revamp the West Wing operations ahead of what is expected to be a difficult year. Proposed changes are being overseen by chief of staff John Kelly.
  95. Aides and friends have told Trump if the GOP loses the House in 2018, not only would Democrats likely begin impeachment hearings, but his legislative agenda would be imperiled and his 2020 re-election in trouble.
  96. On Thursday, Trump gave a 30-minute interview to a NYT reporter. The reporter was criticized for letting Trump ramble on without questioning false assertions, and issued an explanation on the impromptu interview.
  97. The alarming interview is full of false statements such as Trump saying, “Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion.” Not a single congressional Democrat has said there was no collusion.
  98. One of Trump’s most alarming statements was, “I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department,” which indicates Trump’s lack of understanding of how things work, and his authoritarian leanings.
  99. Trump asserted a detailed knowledge on legislation, which it is widely believed he hasn’t read: “I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A.” He made same claim on health care.
  100. Another alarming statement came amid Trump’s repeated claims throughout the interview that there was no collusion with Russia, when he added “and even if there was, it’s not a crime. But there’s no collusion.”
  101. Vox founder and editor-at-large Ezra Klein described the interview as “incoherent, authoritarian, uninformed” and “a scary read.” Klein also asserted, “The president of the United States is not well.”
  102. The Toronto Star reported Trump made a total of 25 false claims in his NYT interview, nearly one per minute.
  103. WAPO reported Trump’s interview with the NYT has caused consternation with WH staff. No aide or adviser was there, or knew about the interview in advance. One frustrated aid called the interview “embarrassing.”
  104. New Republic noted white nationalists entered 2017 on a high note with Trump taking office, but the racist right couldn’t find common goals, andended the year without accomplishments and in disarray.
Sticker in Miami, Florida. December 2017. 
Miami, Florida. December 2017. Artist: 8BitLexicon (sic)
MAKE AMERICA SK8 AGAIN. On display in Wynwood, Miami, Florida for Art Basel 2017
“Fuck Trump, Fuck Hate” – Marlon Brando image on display in Miami, Florida. December 2017.



Photo by NYC-based photographer Kenny Vena at an anti-tax bill protest in NYC this past week.

Week 58 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

December 23, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-58-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-bb64d0f18ee6

This week Trump and the Republicans passed their first piece of major legislation, violating many democratic norms in the process: a wildly unpopular tax plan, which will massively redistribute wealth akin to an oligarchy. Polling shows the Republican Party could face a tsunami in 2018 as voters, especially women and voters under 35, are fleeing the party under Trump.

This week the Trump regime escalated their attacks on Mueller, the FBI, and the DOJ, seeking to discredit the probe and these institutions. The country braced for the very real possibility that Trump could fire Mueller, or replace Jeff Sessions or Rod Rosenstein as a way to do so indirectly. Many voices voiced concern about broken norms and our eroding democracy.

  1. On Saturday, Axios reported Mueller has obtained tens of thousands of emails from 12 members of Trump’s transition team. The Trump regime discovered Mueller had the emails based on questions posed to witnesses.
  2. Kory Langhofer, counsel for the transition team, sent letters to House and Senate committees claiming Mueller unlawfully obtained “tens of thousands of emails” from the General Services Administration.
  3. The special counsel dismissed the claim, saying they obtained the emails in the course the criminal investigation, and secured them with “either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process.”
  4. On Sunday, as Trump returned to the WH and was asked about Mueller obtaining the emails, he responded, “my people are very upset,” adding, “and as we said, there’s no collusion. There’s no collusion whatsoever.”
  5. WAPO reported Trump’s lawyers are set to meet with Mueller’s team this week. His lawyers have assured Trump the probe will wrap up by January or so, and they will ask Mueller what he needs to conclude the probe.
  6. Trump advisers reportedly said he is not considering firing Mueller, but has been sharply critical of Sessions and Rosenstein. Trump has ranted about Rosenstein being “a Democrat” when, in fact, he is a Republican.
  7. On Monday, WAPO further reported that despite Trump lawyers’ assurances, the Mueller probe could last at least another year. Mueller’s team continues to request new documents related to the campaign.
  8. On Sunday, the Kremlin was the first to share that Putin called Trump to thank him for sharing intelligence which thwarted a terrorist bomb plot in St. Petersburg. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later confirmed the call.
  9. This was the second time Trump and Putin have spoken in the past three days, and both calls were first made public by Russian sources. Trump’s Oval Office meeting in Week 26 was also reported by Russian sources.
  10. The WH released an odd readout of the call between Trump and Putin. It ishighly unusual for leaders to publicly disclose sharing intelligence information, or to publicly thank each other.
  11. Former DNI James Clapper told CNN the exchanges between Putin and Trump are “illustrative of what a great case officer Vladimir Putin is. He knows how to handle an asset, and that’s what he’s doing” with Trump.
  12. An AP-NORC poll found that 63% of Americans believe Trump tried to “impede or obstruct” the investigation into whether his campaign had ties to Russia.
  13. Pew Research found 60% of Americans say Trump has made race relations worse in the US, while 8% say he has been them better.
  14. Susan Bro, mother of slain Charlottesville heroine Heather Heyer, said she has had to hide her daughter’s grave because of hostility from neo-Nazis: “It’s a symptom of hate in society…I’m protecting my child now.”
  15. Jayda Fransen, a leader of far-right Britain First, whose anti-Muslim tweet was retweeted by Trump in Week 55, was suspended from Twitter as part of the social network’s efforts to crack down on hate speech.
  16. A federal judge in PA blocked the Trump regime’s rules which made it easier for employers to deny insurance coverage for birth control, saying the ACA has no statutory language allowing such “sweeping exemptions.”
  17. A second federal judge halted the Trump administration’s rollback of Obamacare birth control coverage. The CA ruling focused on the fact the regime issued interim final rules without a chance for the public to submit comment.
  18. LA Times reported Scott Lloyd, the anti-abortion activist who heads Trump’s refugee resettlement program, again unsuccessfully tried to block an undocumented teen from getting an abortion: a 17-year-old rape victim, “Jane Poe.”
  19. Trump’s DOJ plans to fight the issue of whether underage detainees have a right to access abortion, hoping to have the Supreme Court hear the case. Sessions said of losing the Jane Poe case, “We’re disturbed about it.”
  20. On Thursday, a federal court denied the Trump regime’s efforts to delay accepting transgender recruits into the military. Three judges have ruled the ban cannot go into effect while the case works through the courts.
  21. On Friday, an appeals court ruled against Trump’s travel ban 3.0, saying Trump has exceeded his authority in issuing the directive. The ruling won’t have an immediate effect due to a Supreme Court stay.
  22. LA Times reported Customs and Border Protection has awarded a division of Accenture with a $297 million contract to help recruit and hire the new agents and other workers as staffing levels continue to fall.
  23. NPR reported the Organization for Competitive Markets, a small-farmers think tank based in NE, filed a lawsuit against Trump’s USDA for rolling back two Obama-era rules which protected small farmers.
  24. Despite Trump’s promises to protect steel workers, steel imports have soared under Trump (some coming from Trump insiders and Russia per The Weekly List), and layoffs are coming.
  25. The Education Department announced it will slash debt relief for students defrauded by their colleges, which Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said will “protect taxpayers.” Under Obama, defrauded students were given complete loan forgiveness.
  26. In a boon to offshore drillers, the Trump regime concluded that the “incidental” killings of about 1,000 bird species are not illegal, reversing an Obama-era policy under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
  27. WSJ reported the Trump regime reversed an Obama-era decision, granting a mining lease to Andrónico Luksic, a Chilean billionaire who is currently renting a mansion he bought in 2016 outside DC to Ivanka and Kushner.
  28. Rick Dearborn, deputy chief of staff and one of Trump’s top aides, will step down early next year to pursue private sector work. Dearborn is the latest high-profile West Wing departure in recent weeks.
  29. A federal judge ordered Trump’s Election Integrity Committee to turn over documents to one of its Democratic commissioners, Matthew Dunlap, who says he has not received information since a September 12 public meeting.
  30. Sun Sentinel reported as Trump heads back to Mar-A-Lago, his “Winter White House” for the holidays, the Trump regime continues to thwart requests under the FOIA to publicly release visitor logs.
  31. Trump’s HHS defended its decision to hide public comments on a proposal that could affect access to abortion and care for transgender patients. HHS received 10,729 comments on its proposal and has only posted 80 so far.
  32. Sources say the HHS hand-picked the 80 comments posted, and almost all of them back the Trump regime’s policies or attack regulations advanced by the Obama administration. The move could lead to legal challenges.
  33. On Sunday, the CDC director insisted there are “no banned words” at the agency. The NYT reported eliminating these words was meant to be a technique to help secure Republican approval of the 2019 budget.
  34. WAPO reported Trump’s WH took down “We the People,” a popular online tool created by the Obama administration to create online petitions. Petitions with over 100K signatures required an official response.
  35. All active petitions, including the most popular petition calling on Trump to release his tax returns, with over one million signatures, disappeared. The regime cited a maintenance effort to improve website performance.
  36. On Thursday, Sessions’ DOJ revoked 25 guidance documents dating back to 1975. The documents interpreted and explained a wide range of federal laws, from accommodating people with disabilities to voting rights.
  37. Also revoked was an Obama-era DOJ letter that asked local courts nationwide to be wary of slapping poor defendants with hefty fines for local revenue. Sessions said all the guidance documents overreached.
  38. Matthew Petersen, a Trump nominee to the federal judiciary who in Week 57 struggled to answer basic legal questions posed by Senators, became the third Trump judicial pick to withdraw in the past 10 days.
  39. The other two were Brett Talley also withdrew in Week 57, and Jeffrey Mateer, whose homophobic statements became public, including calling same-sex marriage “disgusting” and likening it to polygamy and bestiality.
  40. Two Republicans joined Democrats to block Trump’s nominee to lead the Export-Import Bank, Scott Garrett. As a member of Congress, Garrett was a critic of the Export-Import Bank and voted twice to eliminate it.
  41. Through a FOIA request, Motherboard obtained FCC internal reports which show the FCC investigated the Congressional Republican allegation that net neutrality was an Obama-led takeover of the internet.
  42. The internal probe by the Inspector General found this claim, the premise for rescinding net neutrality, to be false. The findings were not made public prior to last Thursday’s 3–2 vote.
  43. The Hill reported the EPA paid $3K in March for a company to do a “sweep for covert/illegal surveillance devices” of EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s office. Pruitt also has 24-hour security detail and a secure phone booth in his office.
  44. ProPublica and NYT reported on a mass exodus from the EPA: more than 700 under Trump, including over 200 scientists, have left the agency.Dozens of environmental rules have been either opened for reconsideration or overturned.
  45. One example is the effluent rule, which the EPA is about to overturn, overruling science and prevailing industry practices to benefit a few coal-fired power plants that were having trouble meeting the new standards.
  46. AP reported on the EPA’s Superfund Task Force created by Pruitt in May. In June, the task force issued a report containing 42 detailed recommendations, all of which Pruitt immediately adopted.
  47. The task force was led by a political donor to Pruitt who has no environmental experience. Information released under a FOIA request shows the task force generated no record of its deliberations.
  48. On Monday, Trump outlined his National Security Strategy, again evoking a dystopian worldview and zero-sum game relating to allies. The strategy drew wide condemnation from experts and former NSA Susan Rice.
  49. WAPO Editorial Board issued a scathing rebuke titled, “Trump’s National Security Strategy isn’t much of a strategy at all,” noting inconsistencies, contrast to his actual approach, and noting Trump may not have read it.
  50. Crain’s reported the Trump Organization fell steeply in their rankings of the largest privately held New York companies, from number 3 last year to number 40 this year.
  51. Crain’s also noted the market for Trump-branded apartments in New York City is cooling fast: the price per square foot in Trump Tower has dropped 23% and Trump Tower on Central Park is down 24% since 2015.
  52. On Saturday, Fox News escalated the anti-Mueller rhetoric. Host Jesse Watters said, “we may now have proof the investigation was weaponized to destroy his presidency,” and “if that’s true, we have a coup on our hands.”
  53. In that same interview, as Kellyanne Conway spoke to Watters, the chyron on the screen read, “A COUP IN AMERICA?” Both were referring to Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who were removed from the special counsel investigation.
  54. On Saturday, Rep. Jim Jordan told Fox News he’s gotten a commitment from Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, to subpoena top officials at the FBI and DOJ in their inquiry into claims of bias against Trump.
  55. On Tuesday, Kevin Jackson, a guest co-host on Fox News suggested the FBI agents who sent anti-Trump text messages may have planned to kill Trumpafter the he defeated Hillary Clinton last November.
  56. On Tuesday, Donald Jr. told young conservatives in FL that FBI investigators are conspiring against Trump, “there are people at the highest levels of government that don’t want to let America be America.”
  57. On Wednesday, Politico reported a group of House Republicans, led by Rep. Devin Nunes, have been secretly meeting for weeks to build a case against senior officials at the DOJ and FBI for mishandling contents of the dossier.
  58. Their product could be used by Republicans to discredit the Mueller investigation, or to justify his dismissal. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee were not informed, although committee documents are being used.
  59. A WSJ/NBC News poll found American’s view on Mueller has become less favorable, with a net positive of 7 points in December, down from 13 point in June. The net decrease came from a shift in Republican sentiment.
  60. Chris Christie, who served as chairman for Trump’s transition team, told MSNBC Kushner deserves scrutiny for his involvement in the Russia meetings. Christie also defended Mueller, saying he is “an honest guy,” who “will do an honest, fair investigation.”
  61. In a pair of letters, 22 former US attorneys and 22 Republican and conservative officials pushed back against efforts to discredit Mueller, saying his team must be allowed to continue its work.
  62. NBC News reported in the weeks ahead of his first high-level intelligence briefing on August 17, Trump was warned by the FBI that foreign adversaries, including Russia, would likely try to spy on or infiltrate his campaign.
  63. Hillary got a similar warning. Both candidates were urged to alert the FBI to any suspicious overtures. The Trump campaign did not report overtures; although the FBI had started to investigate Trump campaign-Russia contacts.
  64. After the FBI warning, Donald Jr. exchanged Twitter messages with WikiLeaks in September. In October, US intelligence accused WikiLeaks of acting as an agent in Russia’s covert operation to interfere in the election.
  65. Bloomberg reported Mueller is looking at Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative, a foundation which claims to be about Russian adoption, but instead appears to be a lobbying vehicle against Russian sanctions.
  66. The foundation was financed by $500K in donations from wealthy Russians. A woman who contacted the foundation met with Rinat Akhmetshin, a former Soviet intel officer who attended the June 9 Trump Tower meeting.
  67. Akhmetshin asked the woman who her member of Congress was, so he could make an approach on her behalf. He also assured her, “things would change” after the upcoming elections.
  68. BuzzFeed reported the Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Jill Stein’s campaign to turn over documents. Stein attended a dinner in Moscow, along with Michael Flynn, hosted by RT in 2015. Both sat at Putin’s table.
  69. Foreign Policy reported WH counsel Don McGahn was looking into whether Flynn violated federal laws in the very first days of Trump taking office, according to confidential government documents.
  70. According to sources, McGahn researched federal law dealing with both lying to federal investigators and the Logan Act, and concluded Flynn possibly violated one or both. McGahn turned his records over to Mueller.
  71. Reince Priebus told “Meet the Press” on February 19 that Trump did not fire Flynn earlier because “the legal department came back and said that they didn’t see anything wrong.” Records given to Mueller’s team contradict this.
  72. Gizmodo reported days before Flynn’s conversations with Sergey Kislyak,members of Trump’s transition team made inquiries to the director of national intelligence’s office about ways to encrypt Flynn’s conversations.
  73. Internal conversations made public through a FOIA reveal that a messaging app called Signal, which allows users to exchange messages that can self-destruct, was recommended to the transition team. It is unclear if Signal was used.
  74. The next day, Flynn attended a secret meeting at Trump Tower with Kislyak and Kushner. Kislyak later reported to Moscow that they discussed establishing a secret and secure communication channel.
  75. Reuters reported Venezuela awarded licenses to a unit of Russian state-oil company Rosneft to develop two offshore gas fields. Rosneft’s CEO also discussed cooperation with Venezuelan state energy company PDVSA.
  76. In Week 25, Citgo, whose parent company is PDVSA, was represented by Trump insider Corey Lewandowski, and per Week 26, made a $500K donation to Trump’s inauguration.
  77. AP reported Russian hacking group Fancy Bear targeted 200 journalists, publishers and bloggers from 2014 until recently, providing new evidence to US intelligence that Russia intervened in the US election to help Trump.
  78. Bloomberg reported a late-added perk in the Republican tax plan is a windfall for real estate developers like Trump. Sen. Bob Corker, who changed his vote to yes and is a real estate investor, said he was unaware of the change.
  79. On Tuesday a WSJ/NBC News poll found support for the Republican tax plan has fallen to 24%, while 41% believe it’s a bad idea.
  80. The poll also found 63% of Americans say the plan was designed to help corporations and the wealthy, and just 7% say it helps the middle class.
  81. On Tuesday, the House passed the Republican tax bill, but because the version violated three provision of the Senate’s Byrd Rule, the vote was nullified and the House was forced to re-vote on Wednesday
  82. On Wednesday, the Senate and House passed the Republican tax bill, ahistorically unpopular piece of legislation, while breaking norms including not holding hearings or waiting for Doug Jones from AL to be seated.
  83. Guardian reported their analysis shows Trump will save up to $15 million under the bill, Kushner will save up to $12 million, and cabinet members Wilbur Ross, Linda McMahon, Betsy DeVos, Steven Mnuchin, and Rex Tillerson will save millions.
  84. After passage of the GOP tax bill, FiveThirtyEight reported House Republicans are in a historically poor position (-12.2), which could turn a November 2018 blue wave into a flood.
  85. In celebrating passage of the Republican tax plan, Trump falsely claimed he had “repealed Obamacare,” a key promise he made as a candidate.
  86. Almost nine million Americans signed up for Obamacare, close to 2016 levels despite the Trump regime cutting the enrollment period in half, not advertising, and other steps cited in The Weekly List to hobble sign-ups.
  87. On Tuesday, an Amtrak train derailed in WA. Trump said the derailment was “more reason why we must immediately start fixing the infrastructure of the US.” Trump’s 2018 budget cuts the Amtrak budget by $630 million.
  88. Breitbart EIC Alex Marlow told CNN his website tried to discredit sexual assault allegations against Moore to protect Trump: “it’s not just about Judge Moore…It’s about what’s coming next for President Trump.”
  89. Roy Moore has not conceded last Tuesday’s race. In a video, Moore said “immorality sweeps our land,” and “abortion, sodomy and materialism have taken the place of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
  90. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello ordered that every death on the island since Hurricane Maria be reviewed. While the “official” death count is 64, NYT, Vox and Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism have all estimated the actual count is closer to one-thousand.
  91. Center for Investigative Journalism reported the US Army Corps of Engineers hired only one company, Xperts, to collect the majority of Puerto Rico’s hurricane debris. In several municipalities, clean up has not begun.
  92. NPR reported Refugees International, a human rights organization, issued a scathing report on the US response in Puerto Rico, calling it “uncoordinated and poorly implemented,” and saying it prolonged the “humanitarian emergency.”
  93. Puerto Rico was hit hard in the Republican tax bill, which treats companies there the same as those operating outside the US, subjecting them to a tax of up to 12.5% percent on intellectual property.
  94. Saying the Republican tax bill could hobble their economy which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria, Rossello vowed revenge in the midterm elections by mobilizing 5.3 million Puerto Ricans living on the mainland.
  95. On Monday, NBC News reported senior Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are preparing to wrap up their Russia probe in the coming weeks, saying Democrats just want to prolong things.
  96. Business Insider reported the House Intelligence Committee has issued only one subpoena to a financial firm in eleven months, and not Deutsche Bank as Democrats requested. Nunes has subpoenaed Fusion GPS’s bank.
  97. On Tuesday, the House Intelligence Committee grilled FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe for nearly eight hours behind closed doors. Fox News’scoverage was critical, saying McCabe drew blanks on Democrats’ funding of the dossier.
  98. CNN reported McCabe told the House Intelligence Committee that Comey informed him of conversations he had with Trump soon after they occurred, suggesting McCabe could corroborate Comey’s account.
  99. Ahead of his committee’s interview of McCabe, Rep. Elijah Cummings said, “This is a fight for the soul of our democracy. Nothing less. I’m going to work hard to make sure we save that democracy and I will fight until I die.
  100. Washington Examiner reported “frustrated” lawmakers pressed McCabe on the dossier. McCabe said dossier met the FBI’s standards of credibility to open an investigation, but would not say which parts had been verified.
  101. On Wednesday, Sen. Mark Warner took to the Senate floor and warned of a “red line” if Trump moves to fire Mueller directly or indirectly, saying this could “provoke a constitutional crisis,” adding “no one, no one is above the law.”
  102. Warner also warned against Trump issuing pardons. Warner told reporters he spoke out before holiday break because he sees a “coordinate effort to undermine Mueller, and in many ways more broadly even the FBI.”
  103. On Friday, WAPO reported the FBI’s top lawyer, James Baker, is being reassigned. Baker was investigated in a leak probe, but has been cleared. Baker, like McCabe, is one of the senior FBI officials Comey confided in.
  104. Late Friday, Politico reported, according to GOP sources, Baker was in touch with David Corn of Mother Jones in fall 2016. Corn was the first US journalist to report on the dossier. Corn said Baker was not a source.
  105. Sally Yates penned a widely-read op-ed saying our country has “reach an inflection point,” our core values and democratic institutions are at stake, and it is time to “decide who we are as a country and what we stand for.”
  106. On Wednesday, at a cabinet meeting, Trump threatened to cut off American aid for countries who vote for an UN resolution condemning his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
  107. UN ambassador Nikki Haley also issued a stern warning, tweeting to UN members that the US is “taking names” on the vote. Haley also sent a letter to several UN members ahead of the vote.
  108. On Thursday, former CIA director John Brennan slammed Trump’s threat to retaliate, tweeting Trump “expects blind loyalty and subservience from everyone — qualities usually found in narcissistic, vengeful autocrats.”
  109. On Thursday, in a rebuke to Trump, the UN General Assembly voted 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions, passing a resolution demanding Trump rescind his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
  110. On Friday, Haley invited the 65 countries that voted no, abstained, or did not cast a ballot to a reception as a “thank you for your friendship to the United States” on January 3, 2018.
  111. Meredith, the company that purchased Time Inc. with backing from the Koch brothers, said the iconic Time Inc. name may be retired.
  112. Esquire reported how Murdoch’s WSJ has increasingly become more Trump-friendly, leading to departures of top talent. The Journal recently killed a story on Trump’s mob ties on the editorial page.
  113. Foreign Policy reported Jennifer Newstead, Trump’s pick for top State Department legal advisor, acknowledged Saudi Arabia could be violating US and international law by restricting the flow of humanitarian aid in Yemen.
  114. Mother Jones reported Definers, the overtly partisan PR firm which was awarded a $120K no-bid EPA contract in Week 57 for to perform opposition research on the media, has pulled out of the deal.
  115. Foreign Policy reported Dan Meyer, the ED of Intelligence Community Whistleblowing and Source Protection, was escorted out of his office, pending a tribunal. Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley demanded to know why.
  116. NY Daily News reported a law firm which represented Kushner’s real estate company in dozens of eviction and housing court cases is suing the company for over $100K of unpaid legal fees.
  117. On Friday, NYT reported the US attorney’s office in the Eastern District of NY subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for records relating to hundreds of millions of dollars of loans to the Kushner family real estate business.
  118. The Deutsche Bank subpoena is not related to the Mueller investigation.Kushner Companies also received inquiries from Brooklyn prosecutors about its use of the EB-5 visa program to finance two NJ projects.
  119. CDC director Brenda Fitzgerald faced scrutiny from Senate Democrats on her ability to perform her duties, having pledged not to conduct government business where she has financial interests, including cancer and opioids.
  120. Several states announced their Children Health Insurance Funding (CHIP) monies would run out at year-end. On Thursday, Congress finally passed a short-term fix which allows the program to run through March 2018.
  121. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Trump considered rescinding Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination, questioning his loyalty after Gorsuch said he found Trump’s attacks on the federal judiciary “disheartening” and “demoralizing.”
  122. On Wednesday, Trump hosted a cabinet meeting. Similar to a cabinet meeting in Week 31, Trump’s cabinet took turns praising him after Trump started the meeting with 12 minutes of boasting to the press.
  123. Pence praised Trump for nearly three minutes, offering 14 commendations — one every 12 seconds — on Trump’s words, his strategy and his results in light of the passage of tax cuts.
  124. Following the cabinet meeting, the WH issued a statement, “Cabinet Meeting Marks Tremendous Year of Progress,” citing the praise for Trump by every cabinet member.
  125. On Thursday, NBC News reported on order by Sessions, DOJ prosecutors have begun asking FBI agents for information on the now dormant criminal investigation of the Clintons and the Uranium One deal.
  126. DOJ prosecutors have asked FBI agents if there was any improper effort to squash a prosecution. A DOJ official told NBC News this was prompted by allegations from Congressional Republicans that the case was mishandled.
  127. Trump has also frequently tweeted and mentioned the Uranium One case, imploring Sessions and the DOJ to investigate. WAPO gave Trump’s repeated allegations against Hillary’s role “Four Pinocchios.”
  128. A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit alleging Trump violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause, ruling the plaintiffs, led by CREW, lacked standing to bring the case, saying it was up to Congress.
  129. On Friday, Bloomberg reported the House Intelligence Committee sent voluntary invitations to Bannon and Lewandowski to be interviewed behind closed doors as part of the committee’s Russia investigation.
  130. WAPO reported the presidential coin has undergone a makeover: the national motto, “E pluribus unum” — Latin for “out of many, one” — will be replace with “Make America Great Again,” now on both sides of the coin.
  131. Peter Hoekstra, US ambassador to the Netherlands, was asked by a Dutch reporter why he said there are “no go” areas in the Netherlands where radical Muslims are setting cars and politicians on fire. Hoekstra responded, “That’s fake news, I never said that,” and then the reporter showed him the clip where he’d discussed the zones.
  132. NYT reported on a June WH meeting where Trump was furious so many non-white immigrants had entered our country since January. Reportedly Trump said his friends were calling to say he looked like a fool.
  133. Of 15K from Haiti, Trump said they “all have AIDS.” Of 40K from Nigeria, Trump said once they had seen the US, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa. Trump, John Kelly, and Stephen Miller blamed Tillerson for the inflow of immigrants.
at Art Basel in Wynwood, Miami, FL, Dec2017
“Trumputin” by artist Tee Pop in Miami, FL Dec2017
Lady Pink’s wall in Wynwood Walls in Miami, FL Dec2017
artist @Lucrative_Nova in Miami, FL Dec2107