POLITIKKKS OF GRAFFITI 117: VIKTORIES FOR PUTIN

Week 116

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-116/

This week concerns about Trump’s foreign policy were front and center, as the regime rolled back sanctions against a Russian oligarch, and withdrew from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty — both seen as victories for Putin. The Financial Times reported on a previously undisclosed one-on-one meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 just months after Helsinki. Congress rebuked Trump’s foreign policy again this week in a piece of legislation drafted by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over Trump’s withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Heads of U.S. Intelligence agencies testified before the Senate on their annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment,” revealing findings in sharp contrast from Trump on Iran, ISIS, and North Korea, as well as the southern border. Trump reacted by castigating his appointed agency heads, then later inviting them to the Oval office and blaming the media instead.

This week Trump continued to threaten to do whatever it takes to build his wall, including declaring a national emergency if the bipartisan congressional group does not fully fund it. Meanwhile, Trump continued his false narrative that the wall is being built, while spreading other disinformation about immigration and voter fraud. The far-right has increasingly adopted Trump’s strategy of creating alternative realities and embracing conspiracy theories — this week claiming an attack on a gay, black actor was a hoax, and spreading conspiracies about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s health. The country is increasingly divided, as the U.S. Intelligence assessment also warned that Russia and other countries are looking to sow dissent, spread disinformation, and interfere in future U.S. elections.

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Meme from Rosie O’Donnell’s Twitter Page, 3Feb19
  1. Watchdog group Transparency International released its Corruption Perceptions Index for 2018. The U.S. dropped four points to 71 over 2017, and dropped out of the top 20 nations for the first time since 2011.
  2. The scale is 1 to 100, with 1 being very corrupt and 100 the cleanest. The report cites the U.S. drop “is a red flag and comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balance, as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power.”
  3. On Saturday, in a series of evening tweets, Trump railed against the indictment of Roger Stone, claiming Stone “didn’t even work for me anywhere near the Election!”
  4. Trump also tried to draw a whataboutism type comparison: “What about the Fake and Unverified “Dossier,” a total phony conjob, that was paid for by Crooked Hillary to damage me and the Trump Campaign?”
  5. Trump also complained he had endured “one sided Fake Media coverage (collusion with Crooked H?)” during his “very successful presidential campaign,” adding in a third tweet, “WITCH HUNT!”
  6. On Sunday, on “This Week,” Roger Stone accused Mueller of using “Gestapo tactics,” saying, “They could simply have called my lawyers and I would have turned myself in…It’s an attempt to poison the jury pool.”
  7. On Saturday, NYT reported Trump’s defeat in the border wall standoff with Congress has left him vulnerable to a primary fight, as anti-Trump Republicans are urging fellow Republicans to run.
  8. A top Trump campaign official, Bill Stepien, traveled to the Republican National Committee meeting in New Mexico to orchestrate a unanimous resolution of support for Trump, in an effort to project party unity.
  9. The resolution, although largely symbolic, was also a sign of the RNC’s deepening ties to Trump. The RNC has historically waited for candidates to clinch the primary to give “undivided support.”
  10. On Sunday, in an interview with WSJ, Trump said he thinks it is “less than 50-50” that the 17 members of congress charged with negotiating a deal over border wall funding would come up with something he could accept.
  11. Trump vowed he would build a wall anyway by using executive powers to declare a national emergency. When asked if he would accept less than $5.7 billion for his wall, he responded, “I doubt it. I have to do it right.”
  12. On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “58,000 non-citizens voted in Texas, with 95,000 non-citizens registered to vote,” citing a list compiled by the Texas secretary of state’s office, and mentioned on a “Fox & Friends” segment.
  13. Texas politicians and voters’ advocates asked officials to investigate both figures, suggesting the notion of voter fraud has been conjured in the past as a way to remove voters from the rolls.
  14. Trump also tweeted Sunday, “the cost of illegal immigration so far this year is $18,959,495,168. Cost Friday was $603,331,392.” It is unclear where Trump got his numbers from, but experts said they were too high.
  15. Trump also tweeted “There are at least 25,772,342 illegal aliens, not the 11,000,000 that have been reported.” Most studies put the number close to 11 million, and Trump’s Department of Homeland Security recently estimated 12 million.
  16. On Saturday, Reuters reported after NATO and Russia failed to resolve a dispute over a new Russian missile allies say is a threat to Europe, the U.S. may pull out from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
  17. On Sunday, at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, actress Patricia Arquette thanked Robert Mueller and “everyone working to make sure that we have sovereignty for the United States of America” while accepting an award.
  18. WAPO reported that Trump, who often spends days in the presidential residence, relishes giving tours of the White House to hundreds of acquaintances and strangers, bragging about how he has improved it.
  19. Trump reportedly has claimed, without evidence, that his private dining room off the Oval Office was in “rough shape” and had a hole in the wall, saying of Obama, “he just sat in here and watched basketball all day.”
  20. Although former President Obama typically does not respond to Trump, an Obama White House official told WAPO there was no hole in the wall, and that Obama rarely worked in the room and did not watch basketball there.
  21. On Monday, a Congressional Budget Office report found the 35 day government shutdown cost the U.S. economy about $3 billion in forgone economic activity that will not be recovered, not including indirect effects.
  22. The agency’s annual report also out Monday found the federal budget deficit will hit about $900 billion this year, and exceed $1 trillion every year beginning in 2022, two years earlier than the CBO estimated last year.
  23. The CBO also estimated the national debt will soar to almost $29 trillion in 10 years — making debt held by the public the largest percentage since 1947, and more than twice the average of the past 50 years.
  24. On Monday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow pushed back on the CBO assessment of the government shutdown cost, saying, “We frequently disagree with CBO with all respect.”
  25. A new Politico/Morning Consult poll found just 31% support shutting the government down again to force Congress to appropriate money for the wall, while 58% oppose it.
  26. On Tuesday, Harley-Davidson announced Trump’s tariffs had wiped out its profits in the fourth quarter of 2018. The company’s stock plunged 7.6% on the day, and overall was down by 33% for the year.
  27. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve said it will not raise rates this year. When chairman Jerome Powell was asked if Trump swayed the decision, he responded the Fed did not take “political considerations into account.”
  28. On Wednesday, NBC News reported Foxconn may not build a $10 billion plant in Wisconsin, citing the high cost of U.S. labor. Trump announced the Foxconn deal with much ballyhoo at a White House ceremony in 2017.
  29. On Wednesday, Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chief Executive Terry Gou, told Reuters the company would instead create a “technology hub” in Wisconsin that would largely consist of research facilities.
  30. On Friday, after talks with the White House, Foxconn said it is moving forward with construction of the Wisconsin factory, but would not clarify what kind of jobs will be housed at the $10 billion plant.
  31. On Monday, New Jersey state Sen. Dawn Addiego became the latest to leave the Republican Party and become a Democrat. Addiego’s defection gave the Democrats in New Jersey their largest majority in decades.
  32. On Monday, an AP-NORC poll found 35% approve of Trump’s handling of foreign policy, 63% disapprove. Also, 53% say U.S. standing in the world will get worse next year, while 21% say get better, and 25% stay the same.
  33. On Monday, Trump again denied global warming, tweeting in the Midwest “windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded,” adding “What the hell is going on with Global Waming [sic]?”
  34. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Twitter account responded, “Winter storms don’t prove that global warming isn’t happening,” with an accompanying illustration to explain.
  35. On Monday, Politico reported Senate Rules Committee chair Roy Blunt plans to take up a measure in his committee to cut debate time on some lower-level Trump nominees for the judicial and executive branch.
  36. Sen. Blunt said he hopes the measure can be passed in a bipartisan way, but added if it cannot, Republicans are prepared to use the “nuclear option” and act unilaterally and add a permanent reduction.
  37. On Sunday, a Washington Post-ABC News poll taken before Stone’s indictment found half of Americans are skeptical that Mueller’s report will be fair, with 28% having “just some” confidence, and 22% “none at all.”
  38. Most Americans favored Congressional Democrats: getting Trump’s tax returns (60%), investigating campaign collusion with Russia (57%), ties to foreign governments (61%), and Trump’s relationship with Putin (59%).
  39. On Sunday, the Trump regime lifted sanctions on Oleg Deripaska, one of Russia’s most influential oligarchs. The sanctions were put in place against Deripaska and six other oligarchs in April over 2016 election interference.
  40. One Deripaska company, EN+, announced seven new directors as part of the deal, including Christopher Bancroft Burnham, a banker who served on Trump’s State Department transition team.
  41. Rep. Jackie Speier wrote to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin raising concerns that he sold a stake in his film company to Len Blavatnik. A spokesperson for Mnuchin tweeted that this was false information.
  42. Democrats Rep. Elijah Cummings and Sen. Ron Wyden wrote to Treasury seeking information on Mnuchin’s relationship with Blavatnik, and whether he sought ethics guidance or to minimize conflicts of interest.
  43. NBC News reported even as the European Union moved forward last week with sanctions against Russia for poisoning Sergei Skripal in the U.K., three months after deeming Russia in violation, the U.S. has yet to do so.
  44. On Saturday, The Daily Beast reported, three weeks into the term, House Republican leadership has yet to name the intelligence committee’s GOP membership, stalling the committee from conducting hearings.
  45. On Monday, Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said Michael Cohen will testify before his panel on February 8; however, it will be closed-door testimony.
  46. On Monday, WAPO reported Lanny Davis said Cohen has swapped attorneys, wanting new representation as he navigates testifying before congressional panels. This is the third iteration of his legal team.
  47. Cohen is bringing on Michael Monico and Barry Spevack, two Chicago-based lawyers, and firing Guy Petrillo and Amy Lester. Reportedly, Cohen has fallen behind in payments to Petrillo and Lester.
  48. On Monday, in a written response to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Trump’s attorney general nominee William Barr said he has discussed the Mueller probe with Vice President Michael Pence, including a “general discussion”
  49. Barr cited occasional conversations in the spring of 2017 on policy and personnel, and “In these conversations, I did not provide legal advice, nor, to the best of my recollection, did he provide confidential information.”
  50. On Monday, Judge T.S. Ellis abruptly canceled sentencing for Paul Manafort in the Virginia case scheduled for February 8, citing the current dispute in D.C. court over whether Manafort broke his plea deal.
  51. On Monday, press secretary Sarah Sanders convened the first White House briefing since December 18, the first in 41 days. Both CNN and MSNBC did not cover the briefing.
  52. National security adviser John Bolton said the U.S. will impose sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., cutting off President Nicolás Maduro’s main source of cash.
  53. At the White House briefing, Bolton held a yellow notepad with what appeared to be the words “5,000 troops to Colombia,” sparking reporters to speculate on a military intervention.
  54. When asked by reporters to clarify Bolton’s notes, a White House spokesman reiterated Trump’s “all options are on the table” declaration.
  55. Sanders fielded questions, ducking answering as in the past. When asked if Trump is considering pardoning Stone, she responded, “I’m not aware of that. I haven’t had any discussions with him on that matter.”
  56. Sanders also said of Stone, “This has nothing to do with the president, and certainly nothing to do with the White House,” adding, “This is something that has to do solely with that individual.”
  57. On Monday, at a Justice Department news conference on an unrelated topic, acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker told reporters he had been “fully briefed” on the Mueller probe and it is “close to being completed.”
  58. Experts noted it was highly unusual for a DOJ official to publicly comment on an ongoing investigation, and expressed concern that Whitaker might participate in the review process after the investigation concludes.
  59. On Tuesday, Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Charles Grassley of the Senate Judiciary Committee introduced a bill to ensure the Mueller report would be released directly to Congress and the public.
  60. The Senate Judiciary Committee also delayed a scheduled vote to move William Barr’s confirmation forward by one week, citing concerns based on his testimony that the Mueller report would be released.
  61. On Monday, CNN reported Mueller’s team still wants to have Stone associate Andrew Miller appear before the grand jury. Miller has been fighting a subpoena in Mueller’s Russia probe of the 2016 election.
  62. Miller’s attorney told CNN that Mueller’s team made clear to him that they and the Justice Department are considering an additional indictment of Stone and may have plans to charge others.
  63. On Tuesday, the National Rifle Association made its first attempt to distance itself from a December 2015 trip taken by a group of its high-ranking members to Moscow, saying the trip was not “official.”
  64. ABC News reported that NRA emails and photos posted on social media show the organization was significantly involved in planning the trip to meet with senior Kremlin officials.
  65. In one email, a NRA employee helps Maria Butina make travel arrangements for the delegation which included the NRA president and future president, as well Trump campaign surrogate sheriff David Clarke.
  66. Dozens of pages of emails between August 2015 and November 2016 detail Butina’s efforts to organize the summit. Sen. Ron Wyden is investigating the meeting and seeking “information and documentation” from the NRA.
  67. On Tuesday, Financial Times reported that Trump and Putin spoke during last November’s G20 summit in Argentina without a U.S. official present to take notes. Only First Lady Melania Trump attended.
  68. The White House had previously disclosed that Trump met Putin for an “informal” talk, but did not disclose that Trump had no official member of his team present. Putin had a translator present, Trump did not.
  69. According to a Russian government official, the two spoke for about 15 minutes about a number of foreign policy issues. Trump had canceled formal bilateral talks due to a dispute over Ukrainian naval vessels.
  70. In a new memoir, Chris Christie said Trump and Jared Kushner thought firing then national security adviser Michael Flynn would end the “Russia thing” as a side effect. Trump comes off well in Christie’s book
  71. On Tuesday, Trump attacked former aide Cliff Sims, whose book was much more critical, calling him “ a low level staffer that I hardly knew,” and saying his book is “boring” and based on “made up stories and fiction.”
  72. Trump also tweeted that Sims “signed a non-disclosure agreement. He is a mess!” Trump campaign chief operating officer Michael Glassner said it may sue Sims, claiming he violated his NDA.
  73. On Wednesday, a court filing by Mueller’s team revealed Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency, currently facing a legal battle for interference in the 2016 election, is waging a disinformation campaign against Mueller.
  74. According to the filing, Mueller’s team turned over one million pages of evidence to lawyer for for Concord Management, owned by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, known as “Putin’s chef,” as part of discovery.
  75. Concord is accused of funding IRA. Allegedly someone connected to Concord manipulated and leaked the documents to reporters to make it appear that Mueller’s case against IRA and Concord were flimsy.
  76. According to the filing, a Twitter account called @HackingRedstone tweeted: “We’ve got access to the Special Counsel Mueller’s probe database,” and sent the altered documents. The account was suspended.
  77. On Friday, an unsealed docket confirmed that it is Mueller’s team that is involved in the mysterious grand jury subpoena fight that a government-owned foreign company has taken to the Supreme Court.
  78. WAPO reported that on January 18 about a dozen long-time employees from Latin America at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York were summoned, one by one, and fired.
  79. The employees, who compose about half the wintertime staff, claim they were fired over their undocumented status, following reporting on undocumented labor at Trump’s club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
  80. A former manager said the club emphasized finding cheap labor, and despite Trump’s public pronouncements of “America first,” the attitude towards hiring undocumented workers was “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
  81. On Monday, BuzzFeed reported according to a petition posted by the Department of Labor, Eric Trump’s Virginia winery is looking to hire 23 foreign guest workers under the federal H-2 visa program.
  82. The program allows U.S. employers to hire foreign laborers on a temporary basis so long as no qualified U.S. worker wants to the job. Trump Vineyard Estates, LLC pays $12.25 per hour for the positions.
  83. A report by the Anti-Defamation League on murder and extremism in the U.S. found domestic extremists killed at least 50 people in 2018, the fourth-deadliest year on record for extremist-related killings since 1970.
  84. The report also noted “every single extremist killing had a link to right-wing extremism,” and that “white supremacists were responsible for the great majority of the killings.”
  85. LA Times reported two years after Trump signed an order to hire 5,000 new Border Patrol agents and 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, thousands of positions remain unfilled.
  86. The regime has spent tens of millions on hiring, yet Border Patrol has about 2,000 more vacancies than when Trump signed the order. ICE has hired 1,325 investigators and deportation officers, but lost about 1,600.
  87. On Sunday, veteran journalist Tom Brokaw said on a “Meet the Press” panel about xenophobia in the U.S. that Hispanics should “work harder at assimilation.” Brokaw later apologized in a series of tweets.
  88. On Monday, NBC News reported comedian Mohanad Elshieky, who was traveling home to Oregon after a performance, was ordered off a Greyhound bus after two Customs and Border Protection officers boarded.
  89. The officers asked if he was an American citizen, so he showed his driver’s license and valid work authorization card. They made him call for details on his asylum document. CBP called the incident a misunderstanding.
  90. On Tuesday, Jussie Smollett, a gay, Black actor, was attacked by two men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs, hit him, poured an unknown chemical substance on him, and wrapped a rope around his neck.
  91. Smollett plays a gay musician on TV, and he also self-identifies as being gay, and is an activist for LGBTQ rights and HIV education. Chicago police said they were investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
  92. In a follow-up interview with Chicago police, Smollett said his attackers yelled “MAGA country” during the assault. He was attacked while walking downtown around 2 a.m.
  93. Right-wing internet and social media accounts put forward, without evidence or by citing false information, that Jussie’s attack was a hoax — similar to the Covington kids alternative narrative in Week 115.
  94. In an impassioned appearance on Smollett, actress Ellen Page accused Trump and Vice President Pence of fostering a climate of hate, saying “connect the dots” with the rise in crimes against marginalized people.
  95. On Thursday, when asked about the attack on Smollett, Trump said “That I can tell you is horrible. I’ve seen it. Last night. It’s horrible. Doesn’t get worse.” Trump then pivoted the discussion to the need for his wall.
  96. On Thursday, AP reported ICE has started force-feeding immigrants at a Texas location, after immigrants at several facilities have gone on hunger strikes over the past month to protest conditions inside detention facilities.
  97. At an El Paso, Texas ICE detention center, nearly 30 men, mostly from India and Cuba, have been striking to protest what they say is rampant verbal abuse and threats of deportation from guards.
  98. There are also hungers strikes at ICE facilities in Miami, Phoenix, San Diego, and San Francisco. The men in El Paso are being force-fed through nasal tubes leading to persistent nose bleeds and vomiting.
  99. On Thursday, CBS News reported ICE told hundreds of immigrants they were issued a Notice to Appear (NTA) for hearings scheduled January 31 or risk being deported. For many immigrants, the notices were fake.
  100. Immigration attorneys in Chicago, Miami, Texas, and Virginia said they learned the dates were not real when they called the courts to confirm after an advisory from the Executive Office of Immigration Review.
  101. ICE blamed the confusion from the government shutdown and a Supreme Court ruling last summer which necessitates having a date on the NTA, as opposed to ICE’s former practice of listing date at “to be determined.”
  102. On Wednesday, WAPO reported nearly 100,000 comments were posted with the Education Department website on Secretary Betsy DeVos’s plan to overhaul rules on campus sexual assault — 20 times what is typical.
  103. A spokesperson for the American Council on Education, which represents university presidents, said DeVos’s plan is the most controversial regulatory undertaking in the history of the Education Department.
  104. Several figures in the pro-Trump media, including Sebastian Gorka, falsely claimed online that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is hiding a secret illness or is dead. The claims were based on a QAnon conspiracy theory.
  105. HuffPost reported Rep. Steve King’s house.gov official government website links to a white nationalist blog that contains racists, anti-Semitic, and Nazi sympathizing content.
  106. ABC News reported according to court papers filed Friday night, the Trump regime does not know how manymigrant children were separated from their parents at the southern border before the “zero-tolerance” policy.
  107. The filings, in response to the findings by the department of Health and Human Services inspector general in Week 114 and mandated by a California judge, showed the regime could not confirm or deny reports of thousands of additional family separations.
  108. The deputy director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement told the judge that identifying separated children between July 2017 and June 2018 was not feasible, and that the regime does not intend to figure it out.
  109. On Friday, photos surfaced from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook which showeda man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe. Northam apologized and said he was in the photo.
  110. On Saturday, despite a flood of calls from numerous prominent Democrats and progressive organizations and activists for him to resign, Northam refused and changed his story to say he was not pictured in the photo.
  111. On Tuesday, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found 56% of all adults say they would not consider voting for Trump in 2020, while just 28% said they definitely will vote for him, and 14% said they would consider it.
  112. Among mainline Republicans, 27% want a Republican other than Trump. When including GOP leaners, 41% of women, 42% of independents, and 49% of moderates want another Republican alternative.
  113. On Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and other top U.S. intelligence officials gave annual testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on national security challenges.
  114. The testimony highlighted the distance between intelligence officials and Trump on several critical fronts, and are detailed in an annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment” released on Tuesday.
  115. The report stressed the growing cyberthreat from two U.S. adversaries, Russia and China, which it said are “more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s.”
  116. None of the officials said there is a security crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, negating the need for a national emergency. Coats said high crime rates and a weak job market were spurring Central Americans to migrate.
  117. Coats said, contrary to Trump’s assertions, North Korea was “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities,” which the country’s leaders consider “critical to the regime’s survival.”
  118. Officials also warned that ISIS has not been defeated as Trump asserted in his plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, but rather is a still-formidable organization capable of attacking the U.S.
  119. Haspel said Iran was in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement, but Iranian leaders are discussing reneging on the deal if they fail to reap the economic benefits given Trump pulled the U.S. out.
  120. Officials warned that Russia, and other countries, continues to interfere with U.S. politics via “information warfare” and “refine their capabilities and add new tactics as they learn from each other’s experiences.”
  121. On Wednesday, in a series of five morning tweets, Trump blasted the U.S. intelligence chiefs. On Iran, he called them “extremely passive and naive” adding, “They are wrong!” and perhaps they “should go back to school!”
  122. Trump tweeted on Iran: “They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There [sic] economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back,” adding, “Be careful of Iran.”
  123. Trump also celebrated what he claimed were his accomplishments, saying ISIS’s control in parts of Iraq and Syria “will soon be destroyed,” and that there was a “decent chance of Denuclearization” in North Korea.
  124. On Thursday, Trump tweeted a photo of him meeting with Haspel, Coats, and others in the Oval office, sayingthey “told me that what they said on Tuesday at the Senate Hearing was mischaracterized by the media.”
  125. Trump said their testimony on Iran, ISIS, North Korea was “was distorted” by the press, saying “a false narrative is so bad for our Country” adding, “happily, we had a very good meeting” and “we are all on the same page!”
  126. Representatives from the CIA and DNI declined to comment. None of the agencies whose leaders testified have issued retractions or amendments to their written or spoken statements.
  127. On Tuesday, WAPO reported U.S. intelligence officials learned in late 2018 that Russia made a secret proposal to North Korea in the fall 2018 to build and operate a nuclear power plant there.
  128. Byproduct and waste would be transferred back to Russia, reducing the risk North Korea would use it to build nuclear weapons. The offer marked a new attempt by Moscow to intervene in the high-stakes nuclear talks.
  129. On Thursday, Trump announced he is planning to meet with Kim Jong Un for a second summit at the end of February. CNN reported sources say the location will be the Vietnamese coastal city of Da Nang.
  130. On Wednesday, a Gallup poll found Republican Party favorability dropped to 37% from 45% in September, due to the government shutdown. Favorability for Democrats stayed at 45%.
  131. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted the Democrats’ bill that would make Election Day a federal holiday, calling it “another paid holiday and a bunch of government workers being paid.”
  132. On Wednesday, press secretary Sanders told the Christian Broadcasting Network that “God calls all of us to fill different roles” and that he wanted “Trump to become president, and that’s why he’s there.”
  133. Sanders also said “I think he has done a tremendous job in supporting a lot of the things that people of faith really care about,” adding Speaker Pelosi calling his wall “immoral is a ridiculous charge.”
  134. On Wednesday, in a letter, Senate Judiciary Committee chair Lindsey Graham asked FBI director Wray for a briefing on Stone’s arrest , including “the number of agents involved, the tactics employed, the timing.”
  135. Graham also asked if the FBI had tipped off the media, writing “the American public has had enough of the media circus that surrounds the Special Counsel’s investigation.” CNN has insisted they were not tipped off.
  136. On Wednesday, in an interview with the Daily Caller, Trump criticized the FBI’s arrest of Stone, saying he was “disappointed to see that go down that way…where it was on camera…a very, very disappointing scene.”
  137. Trump also said “I thought it was very unusual. You know, I’ve stayed out of that whole situation because there was no collusion whatsoever,” adding, “you have 29 people and you have armored vehicles.”
  138. When Daily Caller asked if he would ask the FBI to review its use of force, Trump responded, “I think it’s a good question for you to ask, and it’s something I’ll think about.”
  139. Daily Caller also compared FBI resources spent on the Las Vegas shooting to the Mueller probe, Trump said of the probe “well over 30 million dollars now on this Russian collusion hoax, and everybody knows it’s a hoax.”
  140. On Thursday, NPR provided a fact check of whether the FBI used unusual force when arresting Stone, and found the answer to be no, the arrest was typical for law enforcement agencies.
  141. On Thursday, in a court filing, Mueller’s team described evidence seized in the FBI raid of Stone as “voluminous and complex,” and asked the judge to delay the trial to give them more time to sift through the information.
  142. Investigators seized hard drives with “several terabytes of information” including “FBI case reports, search warrant applications and results, bank and financial records, and the contents of numerous physical devices.”
  143. On Friday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she is considering slapping a gag order on Stone, who has been on a media blitz since his indictment. Jackson said the trial will likely take place in July or August.
  144. The judge admonished Stone about witness tampering. When Judge Jackson asked if he understood an agreement not to contact any witnesses or potential victims, he replied, “I do, your honor.”
  145. On Thursday, CNN reported according to records provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Donald Jr.’s calls to a blocked number before and after the June 9 Trump Tower meeting were not with Trump.
  146. ABC News reported Donald Jr.’s calls on June 6 and June 9 were with two family friends: NASCAR CEO Brian France, and real estate developer Howard Lorber, who has done business in Russia.
  147. Trump’s ties to Lorber have drawn the interest of congressional investigators. In the 1990s, when Trump explored real estate options in Russia, Lorber accompanied him on a tour of Moscow.
  148. On Thursday, Trump touted the calls were not made to him, tweeting, “Just out: The big deal…Don jr telephone calls, after the innocent Trump Tower meeting…conclusively found NOT to be made to me.”
  149. Trump also tweeted a Daily Caller article saying “New Evidence Destroys Adam Schiff’s Theory About Trump Tower Meeting.” Trump added, “This Witch Hunt must end!”
  150. Trump also conjured a Daily Caller article, tweeting “Nellie Ohr…was long ago investigating for pay (GPS Fusion) members of my family,” adding, “created by ousted & discredited Christopher Steele. Illegal! WITCH HUNT.”
  151. On Thursday, NBC News reported Tricia Newbold, the “whistleblower” in the story about Carl Kline’s role in granting security clearance to Kushner and at least 30 others against expert advice in Week 115, was suspended
  152. The notice, proposed on December 3 but signed Wednesday, said in Newbold’s 18-year career she has not faced any “prior formal disciplinary action,” but harshly criticizes Newbold for her “defiance.”
  153. On Thursday, Democratic Reps. Ted Lieu and Don Beyer in a letter called on acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to revoke Jared Kushner’s security clearance, citing reporting in Week 115.
  154. On Thursday, Trump sent a series of morning tweets, alternating between demanding a wall and saying that one was already built, saying, “Large sections of WALL have already been built.” This is a false claim.
  155. Trump also tweeted, “the Wall is getting done one way or the other,” and that Republicans “are wasting their time” talking with Democrats, adding, “I’ve got you covered. Wall is already being built.”
  156. In response, Speaker Pelosi told reporters “It doesn’t matter what Congress does? Really, a president who wants Congress to become completely irrelevant in how we meet the needs of the American people? No.”
  157. Later Thursday, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office of the bipartisan congressional committee met for the first time that they must fund $5.7 billion for his wall, saying, “I don’t think they’re going to make a deal.”
  158. Trump added, “And if it’s not going to work, then the politicians are really wasting a lot of time,” saying he could end up circumventing Congress by declaring a national emergency to fund his wall.
  159. On Thursday, in a rebuke of Trump’s foreign policy, the Senate voted 68-to-23 to advance legislation drafted by Leader Mitch McConnell strongly opposing Trump withdrawing troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
  160. Contrary to Trump’s assertions, McConnell said “I believe the threats remain. ISIS and Al Qaeda have yet to be defeated, and American national security interests require continued commitment to our mission there.”
  161. The rebuke, along with the House vote to prohibit the use of funds to withdraw from NATO in Week 115,signals an increasing trend of growing dissent to Trump’s foreign policy by Congress.
  162. Congress is also questioning Trump’s moves in Venezuela, where he is following the lead of Sen. Marco Rubio. Sens. Cory Gardner and Bob Menendez plan to reintroduce the North Korea Policy Oversight Act.
  163. On Thursday, the Trump regime cut off all U.S. aid to Palestinian security forces for training and equipment, an unintended consequence of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) signed by Trump last October.
  164. ATCA was meant to make the Palestinian Authority pays compensation to terror victims who won civil suits against the PLO in U.S. courts in exchange for U.S. aid. Palestinians chose not to sign or receive aid.
  165. On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the U.S. will withdraw in six-months from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, one of the last major nuclear arms control treaties with Russia.
  166. Trump did not say if the U.S. would replace the I.N.F., telling reporters “I hope we’re able to get everybody in a big, beautiful room and do a new treaty that would be much better,” without specifying who he meant.
  167. Trump’s decision, when first leaked in October, took European allies by surprise, leaving allies fearful of Trump’s unilateral instincts and their recognition that Putin poses a growing threat.
  168. On Friday, WAPO reported Leader McConnell has privately cautioned Trump about declaring a national emergency, telling him the move could trigger political blowback and divide the GOP.
  169. At least six Republican senators are fiercely opposed to the move, and polling during the shutdown found that 66% of Americans were against it as well — 12 points higher than opposition to the wall.
  170. On Thursday, NYT interviewed Trump in the Oval office for 85 minutes, after publisher A.G. Sulzberger declined an off-the-record dinner invitation from Trump and asked for an on-the-record interview.
  171. The Times drew criticism that the paper was normalizing Trump. In the interview, Trump took credit for popularizing the term “fake news,” and called himself a victim of “unfair” coverage, saying, “I’m a victim of that.”
  172. In a rambling interview, Trump insisted he forced Jim Mattis to resign, said Rudy Giuliani “has been wrong” on Trump Tower Moscow and other matters, and signaled forgiveness for Steve Bannon.
  173. Trump claimed it was not he who directed a senior campaign official to contact Stone about WikiLeaks, and claimed deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein told him he is “not a target of the investigation.”
  174. On Friday, Trump hinted to reporters he will unveil some action on to the wall at the State of the Union, saying “you’ll hear the State of the Union, and then you’ll see what happens right after the State of the Union.”
  175. Trump said “I think there’s a good chance we’ll have to” declare a national emergency in order to appropriate the funds to build his border wall, adding “we have very, very strong legal standing to win.”
  176. Trump also falsely claimed several time the wall is being built, saying “We’re building the wall, and we’re building a lot of wall,” adding, “but I can do it a lot faster the other way.”
  177. Trump also claimed, without evidence, that Democrats are “not being honest” in their conference negotiations because of the forthcoming 2020 election, but “I know the Republicans want to do something.”
  178. On Saturday, NYT reported Trump sought a previously unreported loan from Deutsche Bank in early 2016 to get money for Trump’s Turnberry property, at a time when he was lending tens of millions to his campaign.
  179. Although Deutsche Bank had been a lender of last resort for Trump for years, they turned down the loan, fearing the reputation of the bank could be harmed because of Trump’s polarizing statements during his campaign.
  180. Bankers in the private banking unit appealed the denial to Deutsche Bank’s top executives in Frankfurt. Reportedly it was upon this review that senior officials realized the scope of lending to Trump.
  181. On Saturday, NBC News reported analysis of the main English-language news sites used by Russia in the 2016 election show Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who is about to announce her 2020 run, is the favored Democrat.
  182. Websites and social media linked to the Kremlin noted sites associated with propaganda, including RT, the Russian-owned TV outlet; Sputnik News, a radio outlet; and blog Russia Insider are all backing Gabbard.
  183. Washington Examiner fired two reporters who were nonpartisan, straight-news reporters on Friday, while hiring new staff, signaling a possible shift in news coverage to be more conservative and Trump-friendly.

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Trump participates in a meeting with National Security Adviser Ambassador John Bolton; Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, right, in the Oval Office Thursday, Jan. 31. 2019, at the White House. (Official White House Photo)

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 116: SUBVERSION & INDICTMENTS

JANUARY 26, 2019

Week 115

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.  https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-115/

This is the longest and perhaps most perilous week for Trump so far. Not only did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outmaneuver him in the government shutdown, but by week’s end she was publicly questioning if Trump is beholden to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and if his campaign coordinated efforts to subvert the 2016 U.S. election. Meanwhile, House committees, now chaired by Democrats, geared up to challenge Trump and his regime on a number of fronts, including inquiries into Deutsche Bank’s handling of Trump’s accounts and the regime’s process of granting of security clearances.

Following dire warnings from agencies, unions, and former government officials about safety and security risks, public outcries and protests from unpaid furloughed workers, and plummeting approval, Trump finally agreed to reopen the government Friday. The final impetus appeared to be delayed flights at New York’s LaGuardia Airport due to staffing issues with unpaid air traffic controllers.

This week a sixth Trump insider, Roger Stone, was indicted on seven counts Friday, raising further concerns that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to subvert the election. A line in the indictment document, a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone,” left pundits speculating if the person directing Stone to gather information on the WikiLeaks’ release of Clinton Campaign emails stolen by Russia was Trump or a family member. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani also made incriminating public statements about the timing of Trump’s discussions with Michael Cohen on the Trump Tower Moscow project, as Trump continued to publicly threaten Cohen and his family, raising concerns of witness tampering.

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Artwork by Jim Carrey this week. Pic 1: 45. Pic 2: Roger Stone.

  1. WAPO reported Trump has made 8,158 false or misleading claims in his first two years in office, including more than 6,000 in the second year alone.
  2. Trump averaged 5.9 false or misleading claims per day in his first year in office, and almost triple that, 16.5 per day, in his second year. The biggest topic of Trump’s misleading claims is immigration.
  3. On Saturday, Trump gave a 13 minute speech in which he offered a 3-year reprieve on his attempts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and temporary protected status, in exchange for $5.7 billion for his wall.
  4. The proposal was put together by a small group of Trump insiders, without consulting Democrats. House Speaker Pelosi called it a “non-starter,” and vowed to pass legislation in the coming week to reopen the government.
  5. WAPO reported Trump’s speech and handling of the shutdown accentuated traits of his time in office: a shortage of empathy; difficulty accepting responsibility; and a desire for revenge against political foes.
  6. Trump has approached the shutdown like a public relations challenge. White House aides acknowledge he is losing the battle of public opinion. One friend said even if his base is intact, he is ripping the nation apart.
  7. Trump has also drawn criticism for his competence as an executive. West Wing aides acknowledge they hadno contingency plans for the shutdown, and are learning about problems at agencies though reporting in real time.
  8. On Sunday, Brett McGurk, the former U.S. envoy to fight against ISIS who resigned after Trump announced withdrawal from Syria, told “Face the Nation” that “there is no plan” for what comes after troops are withdrawn.
  9. On Sunday, amid trade negotiations between the countries, China granted Ivanka Trump’s company preliminary approval for another five trademarks. The applications were filed in 2016 and 2017.
  10. On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “The Media is not giving us credit for the tremendous progress we have made with North Korea,” adding “Looking forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at end of February!”
  11. On Tuesday, NBC News reported according to a report from Beyond Parallel, a project sponsored by a defense think tank, North Korea has as many as 20 undisclosed missile sites in the country.
  12. Reportedly, some Trump officials and U.S. allies are nervous because they know so little about what Trump and Kim Jong Un talked about in Singapore, and are concerned about what Trump might agree to next.
  13. On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani told “Meet the Press” that discussions to build a Trump Tower in Moscow remained an “active proposal” as late as November of 2016, months later than Trump previously publicly admitted.
  14. Giuliani said Trump can “remember having conversations” with Michael Cohen “throughout 2016.” Cohen admitted he worked on the project through June 2016, after telling Congress talks ended January 2016.
  15. On Sunday, Giuliani told the Times that Trump had said discussions about the project were “going on from the day I announced to the day I won.”
  16. On Monday, Giuliani tried to walk back his comments in a statement, saying his remarks about discussions between Trump and Cohen “were hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the president.”
  17. Hours later, in an interview with The New Yorker, Giuliani said “I have been through all the tapes” of conversation between Trump and Cohen. The existence of tapes had not been previously discussed.
  18. When pressed about the tapes in the interview, Giuliani responded “I shouldn’t have said tapes,” adding, “No tapes. Well, I have listened to tapes, but none of them concern this.”
  19. Vanity Fair reported Trump is “furious” about Giuliani’s recent botched press appearances. Reportedly Trump is being advised by Ivanka and Jared and others to fire Giuliani before he does more damage.
  20. AP reported that Trump’s close allies have urged him to bench Giuliani, with some suggesting he be barred from evening interviews because of concerns that he was going on TV after drinking.
  21. On Monday, NYT reported that a confidential document, titled “Terms of Removal” and signed by representatives of Oleg Deripaska and the Treasury Department, is significantly different than what has been publicly shared.
  22. The Treasury Department described the broad contours of the agreement in a letter to Congress, which was released publicly. However, major details were not provided to Congress, which voted last week.
  23. The deal is significantly less punitive and contains provisions that free Deripaska from hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, while leaving him and his allies with majority ownership of his most important company.
  24. Despite the Treasury Department indicating that Deripaska had lowered his stake in the sanctioned companies below the 50% threshold to 44.95%, the document reveals the actual overall stake is closer to 57%.
  25. Also Viktor Vekselberg, who has attracted Mueller’s attention, has a stake in Mr. Deripaska’s empire,as does Len Blavatnik, a Ukrainian-born billionaire, who donated $1 million to Trump inauguration.
  26. On Monday, Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny announced he has heard audio recordings of Deripaska’s associates plotting to have Anastasia Vashukevich arrested.
  27. Vashukevich was supposed to be deported, when released from prison in Thailand, to her home to Belarus, but instead she was arrested during their layover at Moscow in connection with a prostitution case.
  28. On Tuesday, Vashukevich, who said she had evidence Russia interfered in the U.S. election, was freed from Russian police custody. TASS News reported she remains a suspect in an unrelated criminal case.
  29. On Tuesday, ABC News reported congressional investigators are looking into Robert Foresman, now vice chairman of UBS’s investment arm, who lived for years in Moscow and led a $3 billion Russian investment fund.
  30. Foresman, who has ties to the Kremlin, sought a sit down with Trump through the producer of “The Apprentice,” Mark Burnett, during the transition period. Burnett helped get him a meeting with Tom Barrack.
  31. The meeting with Barrack was canceled, but Foresman continued to pursue a role on Trump’s team by meeting with Michael Flynn. Foresman did not support Trump in the primary or general election.
  32. Records also show Foresman had a December 2016 meeting with Sergei Gorkov, chairman of a state-owned Russian development bank. Gorkov also flew in for one day in December for a meeting with Jared Kushner.
  33. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court allowed the mystery foreign government-owned company thought to be part of the Mueller probe to file appeal papers under seal.
  34. On Saturday, the Diocese of Covington criticized any students involved in taunting Native Americans at the Indigenous Peoples March, adding the matter is under investigation and students could be expelled.
  35. Nathan Phillips, a veteran in the indigenous rights movement, said he felt threatened by the teens. The Indigenous Peoples Movement called the incident “emblematic of our discourse in Trump’s America.”
  36. On Monday, USA Today reported the Sandmann family hired Louisville public relations firm RunSwitch PR, which was instrumental in a 3-page statement in which Nick defended his actions, and an extended video.
  37. On Monday, Trump tweeted “Looking like Nick Sandman & Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly with early judgements proving out to be false — smeared by media.”
  38. The tweet was sent during Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show, whom Trump quoted in a tweet: “‘New footage shows that media was wrong about teen’s encounter with Native American’ @TuckerCarlson.”
  39. On Tuesday, in the morning Trump again tweeted on Covington, invoking his common anti-media theme: “Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be.”
  40. ICE arrested Carmen Puerto Diaz at a green card interview with her husband. Diaz, who is five months into a high risk pregnancy, was denied medication for days, and was later released after public outrage.
  41. Star Tribune reported coach Michael Walker, whose high school team is predominantly black, pulled out of a MLK Day game in Minneapolis, citing the host team had a front row Trump 2020 banner last time they played.
  42. On Monday, Mark Bartlett, 51, was arrested in Florida, after a video showed him drawing a gun, and yelling racial slurs at a group of Black Americans participating in an anti-gun violence event on MLK Day.
  43. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to allow Trump’s transgender military ban to proceed, clearing the way for it to go into effect while lower courts hear additional arguments.
  44. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court took no action on the Trump regime’s appeal in the “Dreamers” case, leaving the program in place, and signaling that the court will not hear the regime’s challenge in the current term.
  45. On Tuesday, Trump’s Justice Department said it plans to ask the Supreme Court to take up hearing the case on adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census on an expedited basis in order to decide the case by June.
  46. Trump, who tried to end the program in 2017, said in a cabinet meeting this month that he had expected to use a victory in the Supreme Court as leverage in negotiations with Democrats on immigration.
  47. On Tuesday, the day after Sen. Kamala Harris announced her 2020 presidential run, Trump supporters rekindled birtherism, claiming she is not eligible to run because her parents were not born in the U.S. Harris was born in Oakland.
  48. On Wednesday, James Jackson, a 30 year-old white supremacist, pleaded guilty to killing a Black man with a sword in New York. Jackson had planned to carry out many attacks against Black men.
  49. Jackson picked New York because it’s “the media capital of the world” and he “wanted to make a statement.” The criminal complaint states Jackson “was angered by black men mixing with white women.”
  50. On Wednesday, Colorado police arrested Christopher Cleary, 27, who threatened to kill “as many girls as I see,” because he is a virgin and had been rejected by women multiple times.
  51. On Wednesday, the Trump regime granted a waiver to give Miracle Hill Ministries in South Carolina permission to participate in the federally funded foster-care program, even though the group openly discriminates.
  52. Miracle Hill does not permit adoption by LGBTQ and non-Christian parents. The waiver overrides an Obama-era regulation barring groups that discriminate on the basis of religion from receiving federal money.
  53. On Thursday, newly-appointed Florida secretary of state Michael Ertel resigned after photos emerged of him posing as a Hurricane Katrina victim in blackface at a private Halloween party 14 years ago.
  54. On Thursday, NBC News reported the Trump regime plans to begin turning asylum-seekers back at the southern border on Friday to wait in Mexico under a new policy designed to crack down on immigration.
  55. Customs and Border Protection officers will begin turning back asylum-seekers from Central America at the San Ysidro port of entry in California from Tijuana, Mexico, where thousands are waiting in poor conditions.
  56. Currently, immigrants who pass an initial “credible fear” interview are allowed to remain in the U.S. to see an immigration judge. The new policy dubbed Migration Protection Policy is likely to be sued by advocates.
  57. Beginning Friday, asylum-seekers will be sent back to Tijuana with a notice to appear in court in San Diego. On their court dates, I.C.E. will provide transportation from the port of entry to immigration court.
  58. On Monday, Trump marked Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a 2-minute visit to Washington’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. This was Trump’s only public event for the day.
  59. On Monday, National Review reported that Rep. Joe Neguse said the House Judiciary Committee will likely investigate whether Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh committed perjury during his confirmation hearing.
  60. On Tuesday, a North Carolina Superior Court judge denied Republican Mark Harris’ request to certify the still-disputed 9th District congressional race, saying the Board of Elections should complete its investigation.
  61. On Tuesday, the House voted 357-22 on legislation to prevent Trump from pulling out of the North Atlantic Treaty Association, after reporting that Trump considered pulling out during 2018. The bill will now move to the Senate.
  62. On Wednesday, Trump backed a coup in Venezuela by opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, the 35-year-old National Assembly leader. President Nicolás Maduro dismissed Guaidó’s claim to the presidency.
  63. Maduro responded by giving American diplomats 72 hours to leave the country with a derisive “be gone!” and accused the Trump regime of plotting to overthrow him. The U.S. said it would ignore the deadline.
  64. On Tuesday, as Congress returned to session on Day 32 of the shutdown, Trump tweeted, “Without a Wall our Country can never have Border or National Security,” adding, “Must finally be done correctly. No Cave!”
  65. Speaker Pelosi told reporters “We cannot have the president, every time he has an objection, to say I’ll shut down the government until you come to my way of thinking…If we hold the employees hostage now, they’re hostage forever.”
  66. The Transportation Security Administration reported TSA employees called out at a national rate of 10% on Sunday, a record high and a jump from 3.1% one year ago on the same weekend.
  67. A TSA spokesperson told ABC News we are in “uncharted territory.” Employees say they are unable to continue to unpaid work, and at February 1, when rent and mortgages are due, things will get worse.
  68. On Tuesday, Politico reported furloughed federal workers are running up credit card debt, taking out loans, flocking to pawn shops, finding temporary work, and asking friends and family to help.
  69. A spokesperson for the Consumer Bankers Association, which represents retail lenders, said calls for help have picked up tenfold, and will increase further nearing February 1 when mortgage and rent payments are due.
  70. On Tuesday, a report issued by the FBI Agents Association, the group representing 13,000 agents, said the shutdown has impeded the agency’s efforts to crack down on child trafficking, violent crime, and terrorism.
  71. The 72-page report says the FBI has been unable to issue grand jury subpoenas and indictments in several cases. Field offices have run out of basic supplies like copy paper, forensic supplies, and DNA swab kits.
  72. On Tuesday, the State Department canceled the 16th International Export Control and Border Security Conference, focused on border security and scheduled to take place in Scotland in mid-February, citing the shutdown.
  73. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that he told press secretary Sarah Sanders “not to bother” with giving formal press briefings from the “podium” anymore, saying, “the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately.”
  74. Sanders has not taken questions from the podium since December 18, and she appeared just once in September, November, and December. The number of press briefings has steadily declining since Trump took office.
  75. According to data collected by The American Presidency Project, in 2018, the Trump regime averaged less than 5 press briefings per month, fewer than any president in recent history.
  76. CNN reported the lack of briefings is also a result of an ongoing power struggle for control between Sanders, Bill Shine, Kellyanne Conway, and Mercedes Schlapp on the communications team, going on for months.
  77. Also staffing of the White House press office has dwindled. Roles of many younger press aides who have departed, including “assistant press secretary” or “deputy press secretary” positions, remain unfilled.
  78. Unlike in past administrations, there has not been a rush of candidates to fill empty seats. The White House has not prioritized hiring, but Trump’s campaign is actively hiring for the 2020 re-election.
  79. On Tuesday, A. Wess Mitchell, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, resigned effective February. The resignation comes at a time when Europeans are questioning Trump’s commitment to alliances.
  80. Mitchell’s departure creates another assistant secretary of state vacancy at the State Department. Six of the 24 spots have nominees awaiting Senate confirmation. Mitchell was the first assistant secretary under Trump.
  81. On Tuesday, Politico reported Shahira Knight, Trump’s legislative affairs director who acts as his liaison to Congress, is planning to leave in the coming months what many insiders say is a thankless job.
  82. Slate reported that the Trump regime’s Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women quietly changed the definition of domestic violence last April with little notice, making the definition substantially more limited.
  83. Under the new definition, only harms that constitute a felony or misdemeanor crime may be called domestic violence, excluding critical components of the phenomenon like the dynamics of power and control.
  84. Rolling Stone reported Susan Combs, Trump’s unconfirmed appointee who is leading the Interior Department’s reorganization, earned almost $2.1 million in recent years from oil companies who stand to benefit.
  85. Combs, who was nominated by Trump in July 2017, has also been fiercely opposed to protecting endangered species during her time in Texas government — a position in line with the oil and gas industry.
  86. On Thursday, California Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, who serves in a conservative stronghold, announced he would switch parties and become a Democrat, blaming Trump’s behavior and divisiveness.
  87. On Thursday, the Golden State Warriors made their annual trip to Washington D.C. as NBA champions.Rather than visit the White House, the team was seen in photos visiting with former President Obama.
  88. On Wednesday, Trump sent a letter to Pelosi, saying he had checked, and that there were no such concerns from the Secret Service, and “therefore, I will be honoring your invitation” and delivering the State of the Union.
  89. Hours later, Pelosi sent a letter to Trump, saying she would not pass a resolution authorizing him to come, saying “I look forward to welcoming you” to the House to speak “when government has been opened.”
  90. On Wednesday, Trump said he would look for alternative venues for the State of the Union, telling reporters, “The State of the Union has been canceled by Nancy Pelosi because she doesn’t want to hear the truth.”
  91. Trump also told reporters, “It’s a great, great horrible mark.” Ronald Reagan’s address was postponed after the Challenger space shuttle exploded, but there is no precedent for a SOTU invitation being rescinded.
  92. On Wednesday, after 11 p.m. EST, Trump tweeted that Pelosi had “changed her mind because of the Shutdown, suggesting a later date. This is her prerogative,” adding, “I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over.
  93. On Wednesday, a CBS News poll found that 71% of Americans do not believe that Trump’s wall is worth the government shutdown, while just 28% believe it is.
  94. The poll found 47% believe Pelosi is doing a better job handling shutdown negotiations, to 35% for Trump. Also, 60% believe the shutdown is causing serious problems, 34% said some problems, 5% no problems.
  95. Trump’s approval fell 3 points from November down to 36%, while 59% of Americans disapprove, a high for his time in office for this poll.
  96. On Wednesday, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found 57% of Americans believe it is likely that Russia “has compromising information“ on Trump, compared to 31% who do not think it is likely.
  97. On Wednesday, an AP-NORC poll found Trump’s approval at a yearlong low of 34%, down from 42% in December. Trump’s standing with independents is among its lowest points of his time in office.
  98. The polls also found that 71% of women and independents disapprove of Trump, both up from 58% in December, and 76% of college graduates disapprove, up from 65% in December.
  99. The polls also found 60% of Americans blame Trump for the government shutdown, while just 31% blame congressional Democrats and 36% congressional Republicans.
  100. On Wednesday, Trump unveiled a new slogan in the early morning, tweeting, “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!,” adding “this is the new theme, for two years until the Wall is finished,” and, “Use it and pray!”
  101. Minutes later, Trump again tweeted, “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!” And again in the afternoon, Trump tweeted, “Even Trump Haters like (MS)NBC acknowledge you “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!”
  102. On Wednesday, Day 33 of the shutdown, led by several unions that represent furloughed federal employees and out-of-work contractors, hundreds of workers staged a sit-in inside the Hart Senate Office Building.
  103. Protesters stood in silence for 33 minutes, holding Styrofoam plates with messages like: “Jobs not walls,” “Will work for pay,” and “Please let us work.” The empty plates signified the need to feed their families.
  104. After the silence, protestors shouted, “No more food banks,” and, “They need paychecks!” Some staged a sit-inoutside senators’ offices, and demanded a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
  105. When McConnell’s office staff refused, a dozen took seats in the hallway outside his office, and were later pulled up from the floor and arrested, their arms zip tied behind their backs, by the U.S. Capitol Police.
  106. On Wednesday, McConnell blocked a bill to temporarily reopen the Department of Homeland Security, the fourth time he has blocked a House’s DHS bill from coming to the floor
  107. McConnell has also blocked legislation three times that would have opened other departments and agencies, arguing it would be a “show” vote because Trump will not sign it.
  108. On Wednesday, WAPO reported acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has pressed agency heads to provide him with a list by Friday of programs which would be impacted if the shutdown lasts until March or April.
  109. Mulvaney’s request is the first known by a top White House official for a broad accounting of the spreading impact of the shutdown. So far officials have been focused on the wait times at airports, but not other programs.
  110. Officials are already grappling with keeping their agencies functioning as unpaid workers refuse to show up. Over months, the impact is expected to extend to tens of millions of Americans who rely on government services.
  111. Federal workers will miss their second paycheck on Friday. Unions are filing legal action against the regime for making employees work without pay. Agencies are still trying to understand the scope of their problems.
  112. Other impacts include the federal court system is likely to halt major operations after February 1, and the Department of Agriculture will run out of funding to pay food stamp benefits in March to 40 million people.
  113. On Wednesday, a joint statement by air traffic controllers, pilots, and flight attendants unions said, “We have a growing concern for the safety and security of our members, our airlines and the traveling public.”
  114. The 130,000 aviation professionals said, “We cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break,” adding, “It is unprecedented.”
  115. On Wednesday, five bipartisan former secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security, including John Kelly, sent a letter to Trump and Congress calling for an end to the shutdown, calling it “unconscionable.”
  116. The letter said “DHS employees who protect the traveling public, investigate and counter terrorism, and protect critical infrastructure should not have to rely on the charitable generosity of others.”
  117. On Thursday, former secretary Jeh Johnson said at an event “from a security standpoint we are letting our guard down,” adding, the “very people we depend on for security are made to suffer.”
  118. On Monday, Lara Trump, campaign adviser and wife of Eric Trump, told Bold TV said federal workers are going through “a little bit of pain,” but that Trump’s wall “is so much bigger than any one person.”
  119. Kevin Hassett, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, appeared to compare the shutdown to a vacation, saying it could leave workers “better off” since they will receive back pay and without having to report to work.
  120. On Thursday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC, “I don’t really quite understand why” federal workers need to go to food banks, adding, “these folks will get back pay once this whole thing gets settled down.”
  121. Ross also said “It’s kind of disappointing that the air traffic controllers are calling in sick.” The anchor said it is because they cannot support their families, Ross responded, “They are eventually going to be paid.”
  122. On Thursday, Pelosi took a swipe at Ross and Trump, telling reporters “I don’t know if it’s a “let them eat cake” kind of attitude, or “call your father for money,” or this is character building for you, it is all going to end well.”
  123. Minutes later, suggesting he was watching Pelosi’s press conference, Trump tweeted “Nancy just said she “just doesn’t understand why?” Very simply, without a Wall it all doesn’t work,” adding, “We will not Cave!”
  124. On Wednesday, Michael Cohen indefinitely postponed his scheduled February 7 testimony to Congress, with his attorney Lanny Davis citing verbal attacks by Trump, including unspecified threats against Cohen’s family.
  125. Trump allies Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows also sent a letter to Cohen’s attorney, Guy Petrillo, suggesting Cohen would face aggressive questioning from House Republicans.
  126. Trump allies have privately said Cohen’s disclosures are one of the most significant threats to Trump. Cohen has spent more than 70 hours in interviews with investigators for the Southern District of New York and with Mueller’s team.
  127. On Wednesday, committee chairs Reps. Elijah Cummings and Adam Schiff said they understood Cohen’s concerns for his family’s safety and repeated their earlier warning against efforts to intimidate witnesses.
  128. On Thursday, in an early morning tweet, Trump called Cohen a “bad lawyer” who “sadly will not be testifying before Congress,” adding Cohen, “is using the lawyer of Crooked Hillary Clinton to represent him.”
  129. That lawyer, Lanny Davis, in an interview on Thursday accused Giuliani of witness tampering for recent comments he made about Cohen’s father-in-law, suggesting he might have ties to organized crime.
  130. On Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena for Cohen to appear privately before the panel next month and correct false testimony he delivered last year about the Trump Tower Moscow project.
  131. On Wednesday, House committee chairs Reps. Maxine Waters and Adam Schiff said they are planning to launch a joint investigation of Deutsche Bank over its business dealings with Trump.
  132. Waters asked Deutsche Bank for details of its handling of Trump’s accounts in May 2017, but the bank refused to cooperate, citing privacy. She now has subpoena power as chair of the House Financial Service Committee.
  133. On Thursday, Deutsche Bank AG said it received an inquiry from the two House committees on its ties to Trump. Reps. Waters and Schiff said they are in talks with the bank and expect its cooperation in its inquiries.
  134. On Wednesday, in a letter sent by committee chair Rep. Elijah Cummings to White House counsel Pat Cipollone, the House Oversight Committee announced it will investigate White House security clearances.
  135. The letter also states the investigation will look into why the regime is “defying federal law by failing to provide to Congress information about its security clearance process required by the SECRET Act.”
  136. The letter seeks information about security clearance issued for Jared Kushner, John Bolton, Michael Flynn, Michael Flynn Jr., K.T. McFarland, Robert Porter, Robin Townley, John McEntee, and Sebastian Gorka.
  137. Cummings said he also sent a letter to the National Rifle Association about Bolton, seeking information about his contacts with Maria Butina. Democrats vowed to subpoena Trump if documents are not turned over.
  138. On Thursday, NBC News reported Jared Kushner’s application for a top-secret clearance was rejected by two career White House security specialists, but was overruled by their supervisor, Carl Kline.
  139. Kline became director of the personnel security office in the Executive Office of the President in May 2017.Kushner was one of at least 30 cases in which he overruled security experts, approving top security clearance.
  140. The FBI background check on Kushner raised concerns about potential foreign influence on him, citing questions about his family’s business, his foreign contacts, his foreign travel, and meetings during the campaign.
  141. Kline recommended to the CIA that Kushner be granted “sensitive compartmented information” (SCI) clearance. CIA officials wondered how Kusher was granted top-secret clearance and denied the SCI request.
  142. On Thursday, Trump tweeted promotion of a book by conservative commentator Doug Wead, who had appeared on “Fox & Friends” that morning calling Trump the “most accessible” president in history.
  143. Trump also quoted Wead, tweeting, “This is everything FDR dreamed about, the New Deal to put America back to work. Think of LBJ, he gave people food stamps & welfare. Donald Trump’s giving them a job.”
  144. Trump also repeated his new slogan, tweeting, “Without a Wall there cannot be safety and security at the Border or for the U.S.A. BUILD THE WALL AND CRIME WILL FALL!”
  145. On Thursday, the Senate rejected dueling proposals to end the shutdown. The Senate voted 52-44 to reject House-backed legislation that would fund the government through February 8, with six Republicans joining the Democrats.
  146. The Senate also voted down Trump’s proposal by a 50-47 vote which would have provided $5.7 billion for his border wall and granted temporary protection for some undocumented immigrants.
  147. On Thursday, in an unplanned evening press availability, Trump claimed, “In fact, I see a lot of the Democrats — almost all of them are breaking saying, ‘Walls are good. Walls are good.’” This is a false statement.
  148. Trump floated the idea of a prorated down payment for his wall to reopen the government. Speaker Pelosi scoffed at the idea being discussed in the Senate, and added of Trump, “I don’t think he knows what he wants.”
  149. Trump threatened to declare a national emergency, saying: “I have other alternatives,” and adding, “A lot of people who wants this to happen. The military wants this to happen. This is a virtual invasion of our country.”
  150. Trump defended Wilbur Ross, saying “perhaps he should have said it differently,” and claiming, without evidence, that grocery stores and banks “are working along” with furloughed federal workers.
  151. On Thursday, CNN reported the White House is preparing a draft proclamation for Trump to declare a national emergency. The questions of legality and legal challenges are the main hold ups in acting.
  152. The draft states: “The massive amount of aliens who unlawfully enter the United States each day is a direct threat to the safety and security of our nation and constitutes a national emergency.”
  153. Also $7 billion in possible funding for the wall has been identified: $681 million in Treasury forfeiture funds, $3.6 billion in military construction, $3 billion in Pentagon civil works funds, and $200 million in DHS funds.
  154. On Thursday, Trump attacked Michael D’Antonio, a commentator and Trump biographer, for “playing his biggest con of all on Fake News CNN,” tweeting D’Antonio is “a broken down hack who knows nothing about me.”
  155. On Friday, in an early morning raid, FBI agents arrested Roger Stone at his home in Fort Lauderdale. In Mueller’s team 24-page document, Stone was indicted on seven counts of lying, obstruction and witness tampering.
  156. CNN video footage showed FBI agents at Stone’s door: “FBI. Open the door,” before adding, “FBI. Warrant.” The FBI agents who arrested Stone were working without pay given the government shutdown.
  157. The indictment said Stone sought stolen emails from WikiLeaks that could damage Trump’s opponents. In July 2018, Mueller indicted 12 Russians of orchestrating the hacks and distributing documents to WikiLeaks.
  158. The indictment also notes before Stone’s actions in the summer of 2016, the Democratic National Committee had already announced it had been hacked by Russians, implying Stone knew that too.
  159. The indictment said “a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone” about future releases by “Organization 1,” thought to be WikiLeaks. It was unclear who directed the senior campaign official.
  160. After WikiLeaks released its first set of Clinton campaign emails on October 7, 2016, Stone received a text message from “an associate of the high-ranking Trump campaign official” saying “well done.”
  161. In an October 2016 email to Steve Bannon, then-campaign chief executive, Stone implied he had information about WikiLeaks’ plans. It was not clear if Bannon is the high-ranking official and his lawyer declined to comment.
  162. Stone tried to cover up what he had done by lying to Congress. He also tried persuade another witness, identified as “Person 2” — thought to be Randy Credico —  to refuse to talk to the House Intelligence Committee.
  163. Jerome Corsi confirmed to CNN that he is “Person 1” in the indictment and that the statements about him in the indictment are “accurate.” Corsi also said what the indictment contains “confirms I did nothing wrong.”
  164. After Stone’s arrest, Trump tweeted, “Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country! NO COLLUSION!”
  165. Trump also tweeted, “Who alerted CNN to be there?” echoing a tweet by former Fox News host Greta van Susteren, who falsely claimed the FBI had tipped off CNN to cover Stone’s arrest. CNN monitored grand jury activity.
  166. Stone appeared in a Fort Lauderdale court with steel shackles on his wrists and ankles Friday morning, and was released on a bond. On the courthouse steps, he made the V-for-victory gesture used by Richard Nixon.
  167. Stone said “There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president, nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself.” The crowd booed and chanted, “Lock him up!”
  168. With Stone’s indictment, the Mueller probe has now led to charges against 34 people and guilty pleas by six Trump associates and advisers. Stone got his start in politics working for Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign.
  169. Agents also moved to search Stone’s New York City apartment. His case was assigned to assigned to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia, who is also hearing Paul Manafort’s case.
  170. On Friday, House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff said his committee will release all interview transcripts from its Russia probe to Mueller, citing Stone is second witness to be indicted for lying.
  171. On Friday, the Nixon Foundation distanced itself from Stone, tweeting during his time as a college student, Stone “was a junior scheduler on the Nixon reelection committee. Mr. Stone was not a campaign aide or adviser.”
  172. On Friday, Mueller’s team said in court that Manafort should not any get credit for cooperating when he is sentenced on February 8, saying the “multiple discernible lies” were not instances of “mere memory lapses.”
  173. On Friday, TSA Administrator David Pekoske tweeted that the department had scraped together funds left over from last year to make a “a partial payment” to TSA screeners for the first two-weeks of the shutdown.
  174. On Friday, WAPO reported at least 14,000 of the 26,000 unpaid Internal Revenue Service employees, whose work includes tax processing and call centers, did not show up this week after being called back last week.
  175. On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration announced it was restricting flights into and out of New York’s LaGuardia Airport, saying there were not enough air traffic controllers to manage flights safely.
  176. Within hours, delays at LaGuardia had a ripple effect on other East Coast airports. The FAA’s action was the first time staffing shortages hit air traffic control centers during the shutdown.
  177. On Friday, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found Trump’s approval at 37%, one point off the low in his first two years, as 60% of Americans disapproved of his handling of the shutdown.
  178. Trump’s two-year average approval rating of 38% is the lowest on record for a president in 72 years of polls, compared with an average of 61% for the 12 previous presidents since 1945.
  179. The poll also found Trump’s approval among women dropped to a new low of 27 %, down 9 points since November, while 49% of men approved. His rating with independents dropped to 32%, matching its low.
  180. Shortly after the FAA’s action, the White House announced Trump would address the press from the Rose Garden. In the afternoon, cabinet officials and White House aides lined the sides and applauded him as he spoke.
  181. Trump claimed victory, saying he was “very proud to announce” what he called “a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government.” The government would reopen for three weeks with no funding for his wall.
  182. At a joint press conference after the speech, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer thanked federal workers for working a month without pay. Rather than accepting credit, Pelosi praised the unity of her caucus.
  183. Pelosi said McConnell “is a professional” so it is painful to see him kowtowing to Trump, saying she asked him, “Do you just want to abolish the Congress or maybe just the United States Senate? Because that is effectively what you’re doing.” Pelosi said his response was “nothing.”
  184. Later, Trump gave no explanation for his capitulation, tweeting, “This was in no way a concession. It was taking care of millions of people” hurt by the shutdown, adding, “in 21 days, if no deal is done, it’s off to the races!”
  185. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter expressed outrage, tweeting “Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush: As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States.”
  186. On Friday evening, press secretary Sanders quoted Trump’s tweet saying this was in no way a concession,” adding that in 21 days, Trump “is moving forward building the wall with or without the Democrats.”
  187. Late Friday, Trump signed a bill to temporarily reopen the government, ending a 35 day shutdown, the longest in the nation’s history. Over one million government contractors will not be reimbursed for missed pay.
  188. Late Friday, in a series of tweets, Pelosi said Trump’s “continued efforts to undermine” the Mueller probe “raises the questions,” adding, “What does Putin have on @realDonaldTrump, politically, personally or financially?”
  189. Pelosi also asked, mirroring a statement issued by her office Friday, why has the Trump regime “continued to discuss pulling the U.S. out of NATO, which would be a massive victory for Putin?
  190. Pelosi also tweeted “Stone’s indictment makes clear there was a deliberate, coordinated effort by top Trump campaign officials to subvert the will of the American people during the 2016 Election. #FollowTheFacts.”
  191. On Saturday, Trump sought to shift the narrative, tweeting, “If Roger Stone was indicted for lying to Congress, what about the lying done by Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Lisa Page & lover, Baker and soooo many others?”
  192. Trump also sent a series of five tweets arguing for his wall, culminating with a video of snippets Schumer and Pelosi, with his new slogan “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!”
  193. On Saturday, NYT compiled a list of more than 100 in-person meetings, phone calls, text messages, emails, and private messages on Twitter that Trump and his campaign associates had with Russians during the 2016 election.
  194. Gizmodo reported that some of Trump’s photos on Facebook and Instagram have been manipulated to make him appear thinner, and to make his fingers appear slightly longer.

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Roger Stone, a former advisor to President Donald Trump, exits the Federal Courthouse on January 25, 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Stone strikes the famous pose of his personal hero, the late former president Richard M. Nixon, by raising his arms high and making V-for-victory signs with his fingers.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 115: XENOPHOBIA AND CONCEALMENT ~ THE “NEW BLACK” IN THE USA

This was a soul-sucking week if there’s ever been one. I can’t believe this nightmare anymore. In addition to my photos from December in Miami, there is this generation’s answer to the “Segregation Diner” Pic at the bottom of Amy’s list. The longest list so far, by the way. SMH.

JANUARY 19, 2019

Week 114

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-114/
img_2090img_2791img_2858

This week marked 29 days of the government being shuttered, with no end in sight. Agencies continued to feel the effects, as thousands of furloughed employees were called back to work unpaid. Federal workers formed blocks-long lines at food banks, and borrowed from retirement accounts to make ends meet. Trump’s approval continued to fall this week, with one poll indicating he is losing support from his base. Conversely, House Speaker Pelosi’s popularity hit a 10-year high as the two did battle, and Trump reckoned with the first check on his power.

This week was full of bombshell stories which, along with the continued shutdown, rocked the country and made people increasingly anxious and scared about the direction of the country. Major storylines included Trump concealing contents of meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump’s continued fixation of withdrawing the U.S. from NATO — a boon to Russia, and Michael Cohen paying an IT firm to rig online polls to boost Trump. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani made headlines, telling CNN, “I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign,” which he later retracted. A bombshell BuzzFeed News story suggesting Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress on Trump Tower Moscow was refuted by Mueller’s team, which Trump and his allies quickly weaponized to attack the credibility of the media.

This week had shocking stories of racism and xenophobia being normalized, including a lawsuit citing alarming racism at a General Motors plant in Ohio, a group of white teens taunting a Native American at the Indigenous Peoples March — days after Trump himself invoked Wounded Knee Massacre to attack Sen. Elizabeth Warren who he still refers to as “Pocahontas,” and reports that the regime drastically undercounted the number of migrant children separated from their parents at the southern border.

  1. On Saturday, WAPO reported Trump has concealed the contents of his five face-to-face interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin since taking office, leaving even members of his own regime largely in the dark.
  2. Trump’s behavior is a break from norms of previous presidents who required senior aides to attend meetings with adversaries, including Russia, and especially noteworthy given investigations into Trump’s Russia ties.
  3. After Trump’s meeting with Putin in Hamburg in 2017, also attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump confiscated the notes of his interpreter and instructed the linguist not to discuss the contents.
  4. White House officials and then-National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster were unable to get a full account of the Hamburg meeting, even from Tillerson. The contents of the Helsinki meeting are also unknown.
  5. As a result, there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s meeting with Putin, breaking from past norms. Concerns have been compounded by the Trump’s pro-Kremlin actions and positions.
  6. On Saturday, after the WAPO story broke, Trump spoke to Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, attacking the Postand its owner Jeff Bezos, and falsely claiming he did not try to conceal contents of his meetings with Putin.
  7. Before going on the show, Trump promoted his appearance in a tweet, adding, “I am in the White House waiting for Cryin’ Chuck and Nancy to call,” and, “Watch @JesseBWatters before and @greggutfeld after.”
  8. When Pirro asked Trump if he is or has ever been working for Russia, rather than answer directly, Trump responded, “I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.”
  9. Trump said Michael Cohen “should give information maybe on his father-in-law,” adding, “And I guess he didn’t want to talk about his father — he’s trying to get his sentence reduced.”
  10. Pirro painted Speaker Pelosi as uncaring, saying, “Nancy Pelosi’s in Hawaii over the holidays. Now she’s in Puerto Rico with a bunch of Democrats and lobbyists enjoying the sun and partying down there.”
  11. On Sunday, Pirro retracted her false claim about Speaker Pelosi, tweeting “The Speaker’s office says she has been in DC all weekend.” Pirro said she had “based that on numerous reports that turned out to be wrong.”
  12. On Sunday, three Democrats who chair House committees issued a statement calling on Trump to cease “efforts to discourage, intimidate, or otherwise pressure” Cohen “not to provide testimony to Congress.”
  13. WSJ reported Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee on February 7 is expected to be highly restricted to avoid interfering with Mueller’s Russia investigation.
  14. On Sunday, in a series of morning tweets on immigration and his wall, Trump tweeted, “I’m in the White House, waiting. The Democrats are everywhere but Washington as people await their pay.”
  15. Trump also tweeted another misleading claim he has repeatedly used to push for his wall: “Thousands of illegal aliens who have committed sexual crimes against children…Most came through our Southern Border.”
  16. On Sunday, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found 53% of American blame Trump and the GOP for the government shutdown, while just 29% blame Congressional Democrats.
  17. On Sunday, a CNN poll found 56% of Americans oppose Trump’s wall, while 39% support it. The poll also found 55% blame Trump for the government shutdown, while 32% blame the Democrats.
  18. On Sunday, CBC News reported units of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association sent pizzas to their counterparts at U.S. control centers as a gesture of solidarity and respect.
  19. On Sunday, Trump again attacked WAPO owner Bezos, tweeting, “So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor,” referring to the National Enquirer exposé that led to his divorce.
  20. Trump also tweeted the Enquirer is “far more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Amazon Washington Post,” and that he hopes the Post will be “placed in better & more responsible hands!”
  21. Trump then invoked Wounded Knee, one of the worst Native American massacres, while attacking Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Congress formally apologized in 1990 for the massacre, which killed and maimed hundreds.
  22. Trump tweeted about a video created by Warren, “If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen…in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash!”
  23. On Sunday, an op-ed titled “Brexit and the U.S. Shutdown: Two Governments in Paralysis” explored two venerable democracies in crisis over populist projects — Brexit and Trump’s wall — both of which are stalled.
  24. On Tuesday, British Parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal in a 432 to 202 landslide, leaving withdrawal from the European Union, and her political future, in doubt.
  25. Historians said not since the Victorian age has there been a comparable party split and defeat. Britain risks crashing out of the E.U. in a way which would have harsh economic and humanitarian consequences.
  26. On Sunday, WAPO reported on Trump’s erratic Syria withdrawal, which included announcing a full withdrawal, then sending national security adviser John Bolton to reassure allies and say there would be preconditions.
  27. Days later, Trump again switched positions and starting withdrawing troops. Trump’s impulsive behavior resulted in Jim Mattis resigning, and rattled allies and partners unsure about U.S. commitment to the region.
  28. On Monday, WSJ reported Turkey is seeking the extradition of Enes Kanter, a Turkish center for the N.B.A.’s New York Knicks, who prosecutors in Istanbul claim is part of the movement by of cleric Fethullah Gulen.
  29. On Monday, NYT reported according to senior officials, Trump said privately that he wanted to withdraw the U.S. from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization several times during 2018.
  30. Such a move would essentially destroy NATO, and be a coup for Russia. Officials say when they think the issue of NATO membership has been settled, Trump again brings up his desire to leave the 70 year-old alliance.
  31. In his resignation letter, Mattis cited his commitment to America’s alliances. European and American officials said Mattis, a former top NATO commander, had reassured allies, and his exit has increased worries.
  32. On Monday, House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees met with lawyers to evaluate legal options for subpoenaing the interpreters who were present when Trump privately spoke to Putin.
  33. On Monday, speaking to reporters in front of the White House, Trump said, “I never worked for Russia,” adding, “I think it’s a disgrace that you even asked that question because it’s a whole big fat hoax. It’s just a hoax.”
  34. Trump said of James Comey, “He was a bad cop and he was a dirty cop,” and called the F.B.I. officials who launched the counterintelligence investigation of his ties to Russia “known scoundrels” and “dirty cops.”
  35. On Monday, Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett told host Sean Hannity that it is time to disband and replace the F.B.I., saying, “Frankly, it’s time that it be halted in its tracks, reorganized and replaced.”
  36. On Monday, conservative-leaning Rasmussen Reports said Trump’s approval in its daily tracking poll had fallen to 43%, the lowest in nearly a year. Trump’s approval has been falling since his Oval Office address.
  37. Conversely, Speaker Pelosi has seen her popularity rise since the midterms due to a 13 point rise in Democratic support with her opposition to Trump. Gallup ratings has her more popular than she has been in a decade.
  38. Gallup reported Trump’s year two approval average is the lowest for second-year presidents elected to office since World War II. At 39%, he is on track to have the lowest approval rating of any president.
  39. Trump’s job approval also set a new record for polarization of 79 points, as he averaged 87% job approval among Republicans and 8% among Democrats. The previous high was 77 points under Obama.
  40. On Monday, two Transportation Security Administration officers were fired after a passenger was able to get a gun through a checkpoint in Atlanta. TSA said in a statement it was not because of the shutdown.
  41. In an anonymous op-ed at the conservative Daily Caller a senior Trump official wrote they hope for a long government shutdown, calling it “an opportunity to strip wasteful government agencies for good.”
  42. The official also wrote of “targeting the resistance,” saying, “Now that we are shut down, not only are we identifying and eliminating much of the sabotage and waste, but we are finally working on the president’s agenda.”
  43. Donald Jr. tweeted the Daily Caller op-ed, writing, “Worth the read,” on Monday. On Tuesday, Trump sharedit as well, retweeting Donald Jr.’s tweet.
  44. On Monday, Politico reported White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah resigned, and will be joining lobbying firm Ballard Partners.
  45. WAPO reported Deputy Secretary Pam Patenaude, second-in-command at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, resigned after butting heads with the Trump regime over her 16-month tenure.
  46. Patenaude, widely regarded as HUD’s most capable political leader and the main administrator of the department, departed over housing policy and the regime’s attempt to block disaster-recovery money for Puerto Rico.
  47. On Monday, The Guardian reported two are dead and 40 detained in a new crackdown on LGBTQ people in Russia’s Chechnya region. Activists say the deaths were caused by the use of torture by police.
  48. On Monday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters that the GOP had voted unanimously to strip Rep. Steve King of his committee assignments, following King’s white supremacy remarks in Week 113.
  49. On Tuesday, the Des Moines Register and Sioux City Journal editorial boards both called on Rep. King to resign.
  50. On Tuesday, the WAPO Editorial Board noted after a 40 seat House drubbing in the midterms, theRepublicans have finally spoke out about Rep. King’s bigotry. The board ask, “What about Trump’s?
  51. On Wednesday, HuffPost reported Reps. Andy Harris and Phil Roe met with Holocaust-denying white nationalist Chuck Johnson to discuss “DNA sequencing” at the Capitol.
  52. On Tuesday, HuffPost reported Second Lady Karen Pence started working as an art teacher this week at Immanuel Christian School, a private school that openly bans LGBTQ teachers and students.
  53. The school’s “parent agreement” says it will refuse admission to students who participate in or condone homosexual activity. The employment application says faculty pledge not to engage in homosexual activity.
  54. On Thursday, CNN reported on a lawsuit against General Motors by eight employees, saying managers at the Toledo Powertrain plant in Ohio did little or nothing to stop racism and intimidation during 2018.
  55. Employees described bathrooms declared for “whites only,” black supervisors denounced as “boy” and ignored by their subordinates, and black employees being called “monkey,” or told to “go back to Africa.”
  56. Employees described nooses being hung around the plant. The lawsuit said GM responded by having mandatory meetings after the nooses, but the focus was on violence, not racial discrimination or intimidation.
  57. On Thursday, the House floor erupted after Republican Rep. Jason Smith yelled “Go back to Puerto Rico” across the aisle as Democratic Rep. Tony Cárdenas was at the podium.
  58. Smith’s spokesman claimed the remark was not directed at Cárdenas, but rather at Democrats who vacationed there last week. Rep. Smith also apologized to Rep. Cárdenas.
  59. On Thursday, the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services issued a report finding the Trump regime separated thousands more migrant children at the border than previously reported.
  60. The regime also separated 118 children from July to November, after the end of its zero-tolerance policy, andthousands more who were taken in before the regime announced its policy of separating families.
  61. The report found separated children accounted for 0.3% of unaccompanied minors in HHS custody in late 2016, but the number surged to more than tenfold to 3.6% by August 2017.
  62. The report also found flawed data systems and poor communication between federal agencies. Migrant children also were also kept longer in Border Patrol holding cells, with 860 staying for longer than three days.
  63. On Thursday, NBC News reported according to a draft plan of the regime zero-tolerance policy leaked by a whistleblower to Sen. Jeff Merkley, the Trump regime weighed speeding up the deportation of migrant children.
  64. The plan would deny migrant children their legal right to asylum hearings after separating them from their parents, and also showed the regime would target parents in migrant families for increased prosecutions.
  65. On Friday, Sen. Merkley requested an FBI investigation into whether Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen lied under oath while testifying before Congress on Trump’s family separation policy.
  66. On Saturday, Covington Catholic High School faced a backlash after viral videos of its students, many wearing “Make America Great Again” caps, taunted a man who was drumming at the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington DC.
  67. Covington is a private, all-boys schools in Kentucky. The school’s website showed students planned to attend the March for Life event on Friday. After fielding calls and emails, the school made their social media private.
  68. On Monday, Trump hosted the College Football National Champion Clemson Tigers at the White House, andserved fast food from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King, calling it “great American food.”
  69. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted about the event “Because of the Shutdown I served them massive amounts of Fast Food (I paid), over 1000 hamberders.” Trump deleted the tweet, and spelled hamburger correctly in a replacement tweet.
  70. In response, the Twitter account for Burger King poked fun at Trump’s misspelling, tweeting, “due to a large order placed yesterday, we’re all out of hamberders. just serving hamburgers today.”
  71. On Monday, CNN reported Trump’s legal team rebuffed Mueller’s request in recent weeks for an in-person session with Trump to ask follow-up questions. Reportedly, Mueller was not satisfied with the written answers.
  72. On Monday, The Daily Beast reported Mueller’s team and and federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating a meeting attended by Rep. Devin Nunes, then NSA Michael Flynn, and dozens of foreign officials.
  73. The breakfast event took place at Trump Hotel DC on Jan. 18, 2017, two days before Trump’s inauguration. Investigators are examining Trump inaugural committee misspent funds and foreign contributions.
  74. On Tuesday, Paul Manafort’s team filed a 31-page court document with 406 nearly black-out exhibitsdetailing the deliberate falsehoods told by Manafort to support the government’s argument his plea deal is now void.
  75. The heavily redacted document cites Manafort lied about payments and financial relationships, his dealings with Konstantin Kilimnik, his contacts with people in the Trump regime, and other topics.
  76. Based on the document, Kilimnik appears to a central figure in Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and that Manafort communicated with Kilimnik beginning on August 2, 2016.
  77. On Tuesday, Mueller’s team told a federal judge former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates is cooperating with “several ongoing investigations,” and asked the judge to delay his sentencing for financial crimes.
  78. The Daily Beast reported Gates is cooperating in the ongoing investigation into possible Middle Eastern election influence, and has answered questions about Psy Group, which alleged helped with social media manipulation.
  79. On Thursday, Facebook took down hundreds of pages from an account that posed as independent news sites in eastern Europe, but was actually run by employees of Russian state-owned news agency Sputnik.
  80. Facebook said the 364 pages and accounts removed had almost 800,000 followers, and were targeting users in Romania, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Georgia, and Moldova and posting anti-NATO messaging.
  81. On Wednesday, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani told CNN, “I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign,” adding, “I said the president of the United States.”
  82. Giuliani’s backpedaling was the latest in a series of conflicting statements. Previously, he had denied that there was any coordination by Trump campaign aides. His comments received much public attention
  83. On Thursday, Giuliani changed his story again, telling the Times, “I have no knowledge of collusion involving the campaign, nor does the president. However, I only represent the president, and that’s all I can speak for.”
  84. On Thursday, the Belarusian escort Anastasia Vashukevich, who claimed to have tapes that could link Russia to Trump’s election, and had links to Deripaska, was deported from Thailand to Russia.
  85. Aleksei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, posted a video on Twitter Friday showing that Vashukevich was forcibly detained — struggling as two men tried to put her in a wheelchair, and drag her into an elevator.
  86. On Thursday, WSJ reported in early 2015, Cohen hired IT firm RedFinch Solutions LLC, run by John Gauger, who is chief information officer at Liberty University, to rig polls in favor of Trump.
  87. In January 2014, Cohen asked Gauger to help push up Trump’s ranking in a CNBC online poll of the country’s top business leaders, and in February 2015 in a Drudge Report poll of potential Republican candidates.
  88. Cohen had asked Gauger to create a Twitter account, @WomenForCohen, which was created in May 2016 and described Cohen as a “sex symbol,” promoting his appearances and statements on Trump’s candidacy.
  89. Cohen had said he would pay Gauger $50,000, but when Gauger showed up at Trump Tower to collect, Cohen instead gave him between $12,000 and $13,000 in cash and a boxing glove — allegedly pocketing the rest.
  90. On Thursday, Lanny Davis, an attorney who has been advising Cohen on his media strategy, told MSNBC thatCohen is reconsidering his plan to testify before Congress because of intimidation by Trump.
  91. On Thursday, WSJ reported on a settlement reached between Mueller’s team and law firm Skadden Arps. The settlement is fallout from Manafort’s years of work in Ukraine for pro-Russia politicians.
  92. Skadden agreed to turn over $4.6 million in fees for work it did for Ukraine in 2012 with Manafort, to register as lobbyists for a foreign government in connection with that work, and to acknowledge it misled the DOJ.
  93. On Friday, the Hill reported the Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed Jerome Corsi for an interview and documents. Corsi’s attorney said his legal team plans to contest the subpoena.
  94. On Monday, the White House announced Ivanka Trump will play a role in selecting the next president of the World Bank. The White House also said despite rumors in Week 113, Ivanka is not a candidate for the position.
  95. Officials claim Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked Ivanka for her help. Ethics experts raised concerns about Ivanka’s involvement given she continues to hold trademarks around the world.
  96. On Monday, a federal judge in Philadelphia put a nationwide hold on the Trump regime’s rules set to take effect that day allowing employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control.
  97. Judge Wendy Beetlestone noted that the Trump regime violated procedural requirements for how regulations must be created, and that the rules exceed the scope of authority under the Affordable Care Act.
  98. On Tuesday, a federal judge in New York blocked the Trump regime from adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, saying Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to add the question broke the law.
  99. The Trump regime claimed they needed to add the question to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The government has not asked about citizenship status of the entire population since the 1950 census.
  100. WAPO reported in April 2018, the day after T-Mobile announced its $26 billion merger with Sprint, which would require approval from the Trump regime, executives started staying at the Trump Hotel DC.
  101. By mid-June, one T-mobile executive had stayed at the hotel ten times. Celebrity CEO John Legere stayed for three days after the announcement and at least three other times, wearing his company t-shirt in the lobby.
  102. On Friday, NYT reported Treasury Secretary Mnuchin flew to Los Angeles on a private jet owned by billionaire Michael Milken, the latest example of regime officials using luxury or government aircraft for personal reasons.
  103. Trump regime officials, including Mnuchin, had been encouraging Trump to pardon Milken, who pleaded guilty to six criminal charges related to securities transactions undertaken in the 1980s and served jail time.
  104. On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted “A big new Caravan is heading up to our Southern Border from Honduras,” adding, “Tell Nancy and Chuck that a drone flying around will not stop them. Only a Wall will work.”
  105. Tens of thousands of Hondurans and other Central Americans have migrated north in recent years to flee violence and poverty; but until last year under Trump, got little notice.
  106. On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee William Barr. He faced tough questions on the department remaining independent, and on the Mueller probe.
  107. Asked about a 2017 email he sent to the NYT saying he saw more reason to investigate Uranium One and the Clinton Foundation than Russia, Barr said an investigation “shouldn’t be launched just because” Trump wants it.
  108. When asked if the Mueller report will be made fully public, Barr suggested Mueller’s findings would be filtered through the attorney general, who would decide what Congress and the public would be allowed to see.
  109. Barr said he saw no reason to revise DOJ guidelines that sitting presidents cannot be indicted, but that if Trump pardoned someone in exchange for not incriminating him, that it would be a crime.
  110. Barr committed to not fire Mueller, and said he would make sure Mueller had the funds and time necessary to finish his work. Barr also said Giuliani would not be allowed to “correct” the report as Giuliani said in Week 113.
  111. Barr said that he would seek the advice of DOJ career ethics personnel on recusal, but he would make the final decision on his own recusal. Barr also said would resign if Trump fired someone to try to stop the investigations.
  112. On Tuesday, House Judiciary Committee chair Jerome Nadler said acting attorney general Matt Whitaker has agreed to testify next month about his views on the Mueller probe and his decision not to recuse himself.
  113. National Geographic reported key environmental impacts of the shutdown include national parks at risk, halt to monitoring toxic chemicals and food screenings, disrupting long-term science, and marine animals at risk.
  114. On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration called back hundreds of furloughed workers, without pay, to resume inspections of some high-risk foods. It was unclear how many of the workers would return.
  115. On Monday, Glamour reported domestic violence shelters nationwide are struggling to remain open as federal funding that was set aside for them last year for reimbursement has not arrived.
  116. On Tuesday, the White House called tens of thousands of employees back to work, without pay, at the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure flight safety and the Internal Revenue Service to process tax returns.
  117. Trump also tried a new strategy of reaching out to moderate House Democrats in districts that voted for him in 2016 and inviting them to lunch at the White House to go around Speaker Pelosi. None showed up.
  118. On Tuesday, a revised estimate by the Council of Economic Advisers showed that the shutdown is beginning to have real economic consequences, and could push the U.S. economy into a contraction.
  119. On Tuesday, active Coast Guard members missed their first paycheck — the only military branch to work without pay during the shutdown. The Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security.
  120. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz said in a statement, “To the best of my knowledge, this marks the first time in our Nation’s history that service members in a U.S. Armed Force have not been paid during a lapse in government appropriations.”
  121. On Tuesday, six prominent veterans’ groups held a rare, joint news conference calling for an end to the shutdown, saying tens of thousands of veterans are facing financial hardships as they go without pay.
  122. Bloomberg reported furloughed federal workers are pulling money out of retirement plans to make ends meet. One data point showed a 34% jump in hardship withdrawals in the two and 1/2 weeks after Christmas.
  123. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “Why is Nancy Pelosi getting paid when people who are working are not?” Pelosi responded: “stop holding the paychecks of 800,000 Americans hostage. Re-open the government!”
  124. On Tuesday, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell for a second time blocked a House bill to reopen the government from coming to the floor for a vote.
  125. On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced he plans to introduce a resolution which wouldblock the Trump regime from lifting sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s businesses.
  126. On Wednesday, Democrats fell short in the Senate on a measure to keep sanctions on Deripaska’s companies, as 11 Republicans joined Democrats in a 57-42 vote, short of the 60 needed. Sen. Bernie Sanders did not vote.
  127. On Thursday, in a rebuke to Trump, 136 House Republicans joined Democrats in a 362-53 vote to oppose a Treasury Department plan to lift sanctions against Deripaska’s companies.
  128. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Whip Steve Scalise broke with Trump to join Democrats to support the resolution, as did the with the rest of their leadership team, leaving Leader McConnell in an awkward spot.
  129. Politico reported the Border Patrol union deleted a webpage from 2012 which said building walls and fencesalong the border to stop illegal immigration would be “wasting taxpayer money.”
  130. On Wednesday, popular rapper Cardi B blasted Trump over the government shutdown in a viral, expletive-laden message to her nearly 40 million Instagram followers, that was shared all over social media.
  131. In the 58-second video, Cardi B says “Our country is in a hellhole right now,” adding “all for a f‐‐‐ing wall,” and “And I really feel bad for these people that gotta go to f‐‐‐ing work to not get motherf‐‐‐ing paid.”
  132. On Wednesday, day 26 of the shutdown, the House passed a disaster relief bill to reopen parts of the government through February 8. Trump said he will not support any bill without $5.7 billion of funding for his wall.
  133. On Thursday, Trump tweeted “The Left has become totally unhinged. They no longer care what is Right for our Countrty! [sic]” and later saying Schumer is “groveling” to end the shutdown, but Pelosi will not.
  134. On Friday, the Senate Republicans blocked the legislation. This marks the third time McConnell has blocked House stop-gap measures.
  135. On Thursday, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found as Trump’s approval with parts of his base is slipping. Trump had a net 18 point loss with suburban men, from 51-to-39 approve to 42-to-48 from December.
  136. Trump also lost 24 points with white women without a college degree from 54-to-34 down to 43-to-47. Overall, he has lost a net 10 points with Republicans from 90-to-7 percent approve to 83-to-10 percent.
  137. On Wednesday, Pelosi sent a letter to Trump, asking him to postpone his State of the Union addressscheduled for January 29 in the House chamber or deliver it in writing, citing security concerns related to the shutdown.
  138. Pelosi cited the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security have key responsibilities for planning and implementing security, and are both hamstrung by furloughs. Pelosi suggested using the Oval Office instead.
  139. AP reported while he remained publicly silent, behind the scenes Trump was stewing about how Pelosi’s movewas being received on cable TV, reiterating fears he was being outmaneuvered in the public eye.
  140. On Thursday, as her delegation was set to depart, Trump advised Pelosi in a letter made public that he was postponing the House delegation’s trip to Afghanistan due to the shutdown and called it a “public relations event.”
  141. Trump wrote, “Due to the Shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over.”
  142. Trump wrote, “Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative.” The trip was to visit troops and commanders in Afghanistan, an active U.S. combat zone.
  143. In a statement, Pelosi’s spokesperson said the stop in Brussels was mainly to allow the pilot to rest, and also was set to have included meetings with NATO leadership. He also noted Egypt was not on her itinerary.
  144. It is typical for members of Congress to travel around the world as part of their congressional business on military planes arranged by the State Department. Details are kept secret for security reasons until they return.
  145. Trump then canceled the trip by several Cabinet officials to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, citing the partial government shutdown. Trump canceled his own appearance at Davos last week.
  146. Two hours after Trump grounded Pelosi, Melania Trump took off on an Air Force-modified Boeing 757 — the same type of plane Pelosi’s delegation was set to use — from Joint Base Andrews, and headed to Mar-a-Lago.
  147. On Friday, Pelosi spokesperson said as the delegation “prepared to fly commercially to proceed with this vital trip…This morning, we learned that the administration had leaked the commercial travel plans as well.”
  148. On Friday, Trump tweeted, “Why would Nancy Pelosi leave the Country with other Democrats on a seven day excursion,” adding, “Nancy & her ‘big donors’ in wine country” want farm workers to “have easy access in!”
  149. On Friday, the Official Twitter Account of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey tweeted a photo of Sen. Lindsey Graham shaking hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at Turkey’s Presidential Complex.
  150. On Friday, Pelosi told reporters the leak was a shocking break of protocol. She said Trump’s “inexperience” may have led him to leak the information, but his staff should have known the “danger not only to us but to other people.”
  151. When asked by reporters if she thought Trump was retaliating over her request to postpone the State of the Union, Pelosi said “I would hope not. I don’t think the president would be that petty, do you?
  152. WAPO reported that Trump has regularly breached security protocols, also including having a Russian photographer in the Oval Office and inadvertently revealing Jared Kushner heading to Iraq in advance.
  153. On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said his state will offer the federal workers unemployment coverage, despite the federal government telling the state that it cannot do so.
  154. On Friday, former president George W. Bush posted a photograph on Instagram of him delivering pizza to his unpaid secret service detail, and calling for both sides to end the government shutdown.
  155. On Friday, in a series of tweets on immigration, Trump tweeted, “Another big Caravan heading our way. Very hard to stop without a Wall!”
  156. Trump also tweeted an unfounded claim by the Washington Examiner, saying, “Border rancher: ‘We’ve found prayer rugs out here,’” claiming Islamic prayer rugs are being found at the southern border.
  157. Ahead of the midterms, Trump had also claimed “there very well could be” large number of Middle Easterners in the caravan, but later acknowledged “there’s no proof of anything.”
  158. Trump also claimed in a tweet that the GOP is behind him on keeping the government shut for his wall, “Never seen the Republican Party so unified. No “Cave” on the issue of Border and National Security.”
  159. On Friday, Trump had a 90-minute meeting in the Oval Office with Kim Yong-chol, a former North Korean intelligence chief, who has acted as the top nuclear negotiator.
  160. After the meeting, press secretary Sarah Sanders announced Trump and Kim Jong-un will hold a second summit in February, despite North Korea’s failure to dismantle its nuclear arsenal following the meeting in Singapore.
  161. On Friday, Trump’s 2020 campaign sent an email seeking donations of $20.20, and pledging to send fake bricks to Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer over their refusal to pay for the wall.
  162. On Thursday late evening, BuzzFeed News released a bombshell story that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow Project (NOTE: Mueller’s team later refuted this story).
  163. BuzzFeed’s sources for the story were two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation. Cohen was not interviewed for the story.
  164. Mueller’s team learned about Trump directing Cohen to lie through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.
  165. Attorneys close to the regime helped Cohen prepare his testimony and draft his statement to the Senate panel. An attorney for Don McGahn said he had “no involvement with or knowledge of Michael Cohen’s testimony.”
  166. Trump was aware Cohen was speaking to Russian government officials about the deal, and supported a plan to personally visit Moscow and meet with Putin during the presidential campaign to jump-start negotiations.
  167. Donald Jr. and Ivanka also received regular briefings from Cohen, who was put in charge of the project. Federal investigators are seeking to clarify the roles the two played in the Moscow tower negotiation.
  168. The deal reportedly would have brought Trump in excess of $300 million in profits. Reportedly, Trump had more at least 10 face-to-face meetings with Cohen about the project during the campaign.
  169. A spokesperson for Ivanka, who was slated to manage the project’s spa, told BuzzFeed she was only “minimally involved.” Donald Jr. told Congress in September 2017 he was only “peripherally aware” of the project.
  170. On Thursday, Giuliani dismissed the report, telling a WAPO reporter, “If you believe Cohen I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge.” Cohen was not a source for the story.
  171. On Thursday, in reaction to the BuzzFeed story, the Twitter account for dictionary Merriam Webster tweeted, “‘Suborn’ — specifically: to induce to commit perjury — broadly: to induce secretly to do an unlawful thing.”
  172. On Friday, Trump tweeted a quote by Kevin Corke on Fox News that Cohen is “convicted of perjury and fraud,” and adding “Lying to reduce his jail time!” and again threatening Fima Shusterman, “Watch father-in-law!”
  173. On Friday evening, Mueller’s office issued a rare statement: “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate.”
  174. The statement from Mueller’s team shook the country, after the media had been covering the BuzzFeed Newsstory and its impact all day long, and Democratic lawmakers had suggested it could spell the end of Trump.
  175. Mueller’s team speaks exceedingly rarely in public on any matter, and had never previously issued a statement regarding evidence in its investigation. No other media outlets were able to confirm BuzzFeed’s reporting.
  176. WAPO reported Mueller’s denial aimed to make clear that none of the statements in the story are accurate. Reportedly concern grew over Democrats in Congress demanding answers and investigations in the story.
  177. BuzzFeed News said in a statement Friday night, “We are continuing to report and determine what the special counsel is disputing. We remain confident in the accuracy of our report.”
  178. On Friday, Trump retweeted tweets disparaging BuzzFeed, saying, “This isn’t journalism,” and, “many journalists have lost their integrity,” and the story “blew up in their face and the rest of the fake news are casualties.”
  179. Trump also tweeted “Remember it was Buzzfeed that released the totally discredited “Dossier,” paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the Democrats,” adding: “on which the entire Russian probe is based!”
  180. Trump also tweeted: “A very sad day for journalism, but a great day for our Country!” Trump later repeated a familiar line, tweeting, “Fake News is truly the ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”
  181. Trump told reporters, “I appreciate the special counsel coming out with a statement,” calling it “appropriate,” and adding, “I think that the BuzzFeed piece was a disgrace to our country. It was a disgrace to journalism.”
  182. On Saturday, Trump tweeted a quote by Newt Gingrich saying “no president since Abraham Lincoln who has been treated worse or more unfairly by the media,” adding, “other than your favorite President, me!”
  183. Trump also tweeted, “Many people are saying that the Mainstream Media will have a very hard time restoring credibility,” adding including “the disgraceful Buzzfeed story & the even more disgraceful coverage!”
  184. A Pew Research poll found just 29% of Americans think Trump’s presidency will be successful in the long-term, 47% think it’ll be unsuccessful, and 23% say it is too early to tell. The results are the most pessimistic in 25 years.
  185. Also notably the 47% who say unsuccessful is higher than ever measured at any point in any term in the last 25 years for any president, and also suggests Trump’s approval rating has little chance or room to improve.
  186. As the week came to a close, and the government shutdown hit day 29, Trump prepared to deliver a speech, reportedly to offer protections from deportation for some undocumented immigrants in exchange for his wall.

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A student from Covington Catholic High School in a MAGA hat mocks Native American elder Nathan Phillips at the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington, DC on January 18, 2019.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 114: EMPATHY

JANUARY 12, 2019

Week 113

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-113/

This week Trump struggled to create stagecraft and find narratives to justify funding for his border wall, while keeping the government shuttered. Trump delivered a prime-time Oval Office address, visited the U.S.-Mexico border, and held an immigration round-table to make his case, while the reality of the shutdown hurt federal workers and contractors, and agencies started to cut back or cease operations and functions.

This was a week of bombshells on the Trump-Russia front, as an inadvertently unredacted filing by Paul Manafort’s attorneys revealed Manafort had delivered 2016 president campaign polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik, who the FBI believes has ties to Russian intelligence. Michael Cohen set a date to testify before the House, and Natalie Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin who attended the June 9 Trump Tower meeting was back in the news. Late Friday, a bombshell story by the Times revealed the FBI had opened an inquiry in May 2017 into whether Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.

As the week came to a close, the government shutdown reached Day 22, making it the longest shutdown in history, with no end in sight. Federal workers got their first $0 paycheck on Friday, week three of the shutdown.img_3133img_3171img_3170

  1. On Saturday, Pentagon chief of staff Kevin Sweeney resigned, after serving for two years. Sweeney is the second senior Pentagon official to depart in the wake of Jim Mattis’ resignation. Reportedly, he was forced out.
  2. NYT reported the idea of Trump’s border wall was hatched in 2014 as Trump explored a presidential run, as a memory trick for an undisciplined candidate to remember to talk about getting tough on immigration.
  3. The wall was a simple concept to feed to his base like ‘crooked Hillary’ and ‘lock her up.’ Now, Trump is obsessed by the idea of a wall because it was the most memorable and tangible promise he made during his campaign.
  4. Most Republicans privately agree with Democrats that the wall is only a minor piece of a broad set of actionsneeded to overhaul the immigration system. Democrats add the wall is immoral, expensive, and ineffective.
  5. On Saturday, the Trump regime sent a letter to congressional leaders demanding $5.7 billion for “a steel barrier,” as well as $800 million to address “urgent humanitarian needs” of unaccompanied migrant children.
  6. On Sunday, incoming House Intelligence chair Adam Schiff told “State of the Union” that “as one of our first acts,” he plans to make transcripts of witness interviews fully available to Mueller’s team.
  7. Rep. Schiff also said, “This is a real danger, a present danger for the United States, this rise of authoritarianism, and we need to better understand it, and we need to figure out a better strategy to counter it.”
  8. On Sunday, press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News host Chris Wallace, “nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally,” and our most vulnerable entry is at our southern border.
  9. Wallace responded, “The state department says there hasn’t been any terrorists found coming across the southern border.” Sanders tried to dance around the facts, saying terrorists are “coming a number of ways.”
  10. On Monday, NBC News reported according to May 2018 Customs and Border Protection data, just six immigrants who were in the terrorism database were stopped at the U.S.-Mexico border in the first half of 2018.
  11. The Terrorist Screening Database revealed 41 in the database from October 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, 35 of which were U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. At the northern border, 91 were stopped.
  12. On Sunday, during a trip to Israel, national security adviser, John Bolton laid out conditions for U.S. withdrawal from Syria, breaking from Trump’s previous statements of an immediate withdrawal.
  13. Bolton suggested a delay of months or years, until the Islamic State was completely defeated and Turkey provided guarantees that it would not strike Kurdish forces allied with the U.S.
  14. On Sunday, when asked by reporters about the change, Trump responded he had “never said we were doing it that quickly.” In the video of his announcement on December 9, Trump said troops are “coming back now.”
  15. On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan scolded Bolton and refused to meet with him, saying he had made a “very serious mistake” by demanding protection for U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria.
  16. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed to the Middle East to give a major speech about America’s role in the region and assure allies in the region given the unpredictable behavior and recent actions of Trump.
  17. Early drafts of the speech suggest that in a rebuke to Obama, Pompeo will say Iran is the real terrorist culprit, and suggest the country could learn from the Saudis about human rights and the rule of law. Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive countries.
  18. The drafts also applaud Saudi Arabia for purportedly bringing to killers of Jamal Khashoggi to justice — counter to the CIA and Congress findings which concluded Crown Prince MBS ordered the killing.
  19. On Sunday, Trump told reporters at the White House that he “can relate” to the furloughed federal workerswho are not getting paychecks, adding, “I’m sure the people that are on the receiving end will make adjustments.”
  20. Trump also claimed, despite ample evidence to the contrary, “Many of those people that won’t be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100 percent with what I’m doing.”
  21. The shutdown, in its third week, has affected a wide range of professions, including the Coast Guard and air traffic controllers. When asked if federal workers will get a check on Friday, Trump said “we’ll see what happens.”
  22. Trump also said he “informed my folks to say that we’ll build a steel barrier” at his weekend meeting at Camp David with senior officials, adding the Democrats “don’t like concrete, so we’ll give them steel.”
  23. On Monday, in a series of tweets, Trump attacked the media, saying “the Fake News & totally dishonest Media concerning me and my presidency has never been worse,” adding “Many have become crazed lunatics.”
  24. Trump accused the media of hiding his successes, tweeting “The Fake News will knowingly lie and demean” to make him look as bad as possible, and “use non-existent sources & write stories that are total fiction.”
  25. Trump also tweeted, “The Fake News Media in our Country is the real Opposition Party,” adding, “It is truly the Enemy of the People! We must bring honesty back to journalism and reporting!”
  26. Trump criticized coverage of his shift on troop withdrawal from Syria: “The Failing New York Times has knowingly written a very inaccurate story on my intentions on Syria. No different from my original statements.”
  27. Hours later, NYT reported Trump said he would deliver a prime-time address on Tuesday, and visit the southern border on Thursday to make a case for his wall and to cast immigration as a national security crisis.
  28. Trump’s address sparked debate inside and outside TV networks, noting Trump’s frequent lies, fear-mongering, and attacks on the press. That day, networks did decide to cover Trump’s address from the Oval Office.
  29. Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence on his behalf, threatened that Trump may consider using “emergency powers” to order that the wall be built, and Democrats continued to call out Trump’s falsehoods.
  30. On Monday, Day 17, the impacts of the shutdown spread including mortgage applications being delayed, public companies unable to get approval to raise capital, and Secret Service agents working without pay.
  31. Seeking to minimize public outrage, the Trump regime directed the Internal Revenue Service to issue tax refunds during the shutdown.The IRS workers called back from furlough to process checks were unpaid.
  32. On Monday, the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents 61,000 pilots, sent Trump a scathing letter urging him to immediately end the shutdown, saying it could adversely affect safety and security.
  33. On Tuesday, the Detroit Free Press reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the agency responsible for inspecting defects in cars, trucks, and SUVs, said it will not be doing so during the shutdown.
  34. On Tuesday, WAPO reported the shutdown is hindering some of the poorest college students from receiving federal student loans and grants, including Pell grants, student loans, and other forms of financial aid.
  35. On Tuesday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called on Congress to end the government shutdown, saying in a letter, “The shutdown is harming the American people, the business community, and the economy.”
  36. On Tuesday, a Reuters-Ipsos found a growing number of Americans blame Trump for the shutdown: 51% blame Trump, up 4 points from 2 weeks ago, while just 32% blame congressional Democrats.
  37. On Tuesday, ahead of his prime-time address, Trump invited representatives from cable and broadcast news channels to an off-the-record lunch, including Bill Shine, Kellyanne Conway, and Sarah Sanders.
  38. NYT reported that Trump dismissed his own new strategy of giving a speech and going to Texas as pointless, telling reporters “It’s not going to change a damn thing,” but that Shine, Conway, and Sanders think it’s worth it.
  39. Ahead of Trump’s address from the Oval Office, WAPO compiled a fact-checking cheat sheet of 20 false assertions related to immigration recently used repeatedly by Trump and the regime to make the case for his wall.
  40. WAPO dispelled the notion that the situation at the border is a national crisis , as  apprehensions have been declining since 2000. They also clarified that the wall is not being paid for by Mexico, the wall has not been built, and other repeated lies.
  41. Before his address, the Trump campaign emailed an urgent fundraising appeal to supporters in Trump’s name, saying “I want to do something so HUGE, even Democrats and the Fake News won’t be able to ignore.”
  42. In a 9-minute address, Trump painted a misleading and bleak picture of the situation at the southern border. He inflated numbers, exaggerated public safety risks, and repeated false claims about funding the wall.
  43. Although speeches from the Oval Office are typically used to unify the country, Trump used it to try to gain a political advantage. Trump did not declare a national emergency, despite threats during the day he might.
  44. Trump started the address with a lie that the U.S. has a “growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border,” and inflated or gave misleading numbers related to arrests, sex crimes, and violent killings.
  45. Trump falsely claimed the “border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs.” While 90% of illegal drugs come from Mexico, virtually all of it comes through legal points of entry, so the wall would not address this.
  46. Trump also again falsely claimed “The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.” Trump made this same promise more than 200 times during the presidential campaign.
  47. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered a joint response, saying Democrats want to reopen the government, immigrants are not a security threat, and that Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall but it has not.
  48. TV hosts said Trump’s speech offered little in the way of news, but rather featured points, including misinformation, that he has said repeatedly as part of his speeches and tweets. Critics said the networks got played.
  49. According to numbers from Nielsen, the Pelosi-Schumer response rated slightly higher than Trump’s address,as many organized on social media to boycott the address, saying the networks should not have covered it.
  50. Also during Trump’s address, over 100,000 viewers instead watched Stormy Daniels fold clothes on Instagram Live with the song Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” playing in the background.
  51. On Tuesday, Donald Jr. showed support for his father’s wall, with an Instagram post comparing the wall to a zoo fence, saying, “You know why you can enjoy a day at the zoo? Because walls work.”
  52. On Wednesday, rating agency Fitch said the U.S. is in danger of losing its triple-A sovereign credit rating, citing the ongoing government shutdown.
  53. On Wednesday, WAPO reported the Food and Drug Administration, whose inspectors oversee 80% of the country’s food supply, has suspended all routine inspections of domestic food-processing facilities.
  54. On Wednesday, a meeting between Trump and congressional leaders over the shutdown collapsed when Trump stormed out. The meeting started with Democratic leaders pleading with Trump to reopen the government.
  55. Democrats claimed Trump asked Speaker Pelosi “Will you agree to my wall?’”She said no, then he reportedly got up, slammed his hand on the table, and said “Then we have nothing to discuss,” then walked out.
  56. Shortly after, Trump tweeted “Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time,” saying he asked for Border Security including a wall, and when “Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!”
  57. On Wednesday, in a meeting with Senate Republicans, Trump threatened to circumvent Congress and declare a national emergency to get funds to build his wall, if he does not get what he wants from “Chuck and Nancy.”
  58. WAPO reported that Trump, who views himself as a “gut politician,” is finding his arsenal of bluster, falsehoods, threats, and theatrics has not worked as a negotiator, now that the Democrats control the House.
  59. Trump continues to believe that federal workers support him, telling reporters the workers “are on my side” and adding they would be paid and “be happy.” Trump also remarkably said, “This is not a fight I wanted.”
  60. On Wednesday, the National Treasury Employees Union became the second union to sue the Trump regime. The union workers, including Border Protection officers, are being forced to work without pay.
  61. On Wednesday, the House passed another bill that would end the shutdown, reopening several agencies, without money for Trump’s wall. Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the bill from coming to the Senate floor.
  62. On Wednesday, Trump ended his day by attacking the media, tweeting: “the Mainstream Media has NEVER been more dishonest than it is now,” adding, “They are truly the Opposition Party working with the Dems.”
  63. Trump complained that the media “quickly leaked the contents” of an “OFF THE RECORD luncheon,” adding, “Who would believe how bad it has gotten with the mainstream media, which has gone totally bonkers!”
  64. Trump then retweeted four flattering posts by Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, a pro-Trump organization, saying, “We support the shutdown for a wall!” and “Stand your ground.”
  65. On Thursday, in response to Schumer describing Trump’s behavior in the Wednesday meeting as a “temper tantrum,” Trump tweeted, “Cryin Chuck told his favorite lie when he used his standard sound bite.”
  66. Trump also denied allegations about his temperament by Democrats, tweeting “after Nancy said no to proper Border Security, I politely said bye-bye and left, no slamming!”
  67. On Thursday, Trump admitted Mexico would not pay directly for his wall, telling reporters outside the White House, “When I said Mexico would pay for the wall….obviously I never meant Mexico would write a check.”
  68. In fact, Trump did say numerous times on the campaign trail that Mexico would pay for the wall, and his campaign also outlined steps he would take to compel Mexico to directly pay $5 to 10 billion for his wall.
  69. On Thursday, in a conference call with reporters, the president of the FBI Agents Association said 5,000 special agents, intelligence analysts, attorneys, and professional staff are currently furloughed without pay.
  70. He warned of reduced staffing for “critical functions that support field operations,” adding, “We really feel that the financial insecurities we are facing right now equate to a national-security issue.”
  71. He also warned of a mounting backlog at Quantico labs, which provide forensic-analysis support services, and said funds supporting drug trafficking and undercover operations have been dangerously limited.
  72. With FBI morale already in steady decline with the barrage of attacks by Trump resulting in a loss of trust in the institution, the Atlantic reported there’s talk of staging a mass “sick-out” if funding is not restored.
  73. As Trump made his way to McAllen, Texas for his border visit, the historic Cine El Rey Theater posted on its sign: “Welcome to McAllen — The 7th Safest City in America.”
  74. Trump held a press conference in McAllen, surrounded by border agents, victims of crimes, a display of illegal drugs, an AK-47 and an AR-15 rifle, and a trash bag stuffed with cash confiscated by law enforcement officials.
  75. Trump called the situation a “crisis,” saying the only solution was his wall, although the props for the press conference were mostly from criminals at international bridges and conventional ports of entry.
  76. After, Trump traveled a few miles south of McAllen for an exclusive interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on a bluff overlooking Mexico, with border agents, military vehicles, and a helicopter flyover for effect.
  77. Trump told Hannity he may declare a national emergency, saying “If we don’t make a deal with Congress, most likely I will do that,” adding, “because I’m allowed to do it. The law is 100 percent on my side.”
  78. During his trip to McAllen, Trump canceled his Davos trip, citing “the Democrats intransigence on Border Security” and the “great importance of Safety for our Nation” in a tweet.
  79. Hours earlier Trump had said his trip to Davos was still on, telling reporters before he departed, “I have planned to go; it’s been very successful when I went. We have a great story to tell.”
  80. On Thursday, NBC News reported under a proposal, Trump could take billions set aside to fund civil works projects at disaster areas to pay for his wall by declaring a national emergency.
  81. The money is designated for projects all over the country, including $2.5 billion for reconstruction of Puerto Rico and $2.4 billions for projects in California, through fiscal year 2020.
  82. Senior Defense Department officials discussed the proposal with Trump on the flight to McAllen. The 315 mile barrier would be 30-feet high with a feature designed to prevent climbing, and would take 18 months to build.
  83. On Thursday evening, Trump tweeted, “Dear Diary…,” sharing a video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta in McAllen, saying of a steel fence, “Occasionally migrants come thru but residents say their community is quite safe.”
  84. Donald Jr. then joined in, and had back and forth jabs in tweets with Acosta. Donald Jr. then retweeting a doctored video depicting Acosta getting run over by a golf cart.
  85. Also late Thursday, Trump tweeted, “We lose 300 Americans a week, 90% of which comes through the Southern Border,” saying the number would drastically decrease with his wall. It was unclear what Trump meant.
  86. On Monday, Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell was fired after saying a racial slur -“Martin Luther coon King Jr. Park” — during a live weather broadcast from Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park in Rochester, New York.
  87. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam granted Cyntoia Brown clemency, following calls, petitions and messages from supporters. Brown, a Black woman, could have served 51 years in prison for self-defense at age 16.
  88. Police in Ventura, California are investigating a swastika painted outside Temple Beth Torah as a hate crime. There have been several reported cases of hate incidents in Ventura County in the past two years.
  89. A new study published in Educational Researcher found school bullying among seventh and eighth graders in areas that voted for Trump were 18% higher than students living in areas that went for Hillary Clinton.
  90. On Thursday, NYT published an interview of Rep. Steve King in which he asks, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”
  91. The Times reported Trump’s first hire for the 2016 presidential primary in Iowa, Chuck Laudner, was a former chief of staff to Rep. King, and that Rep. King has been has further emboldened with Trump in power.
  92. On Friday, the Trump regime removed all teenagers from a tent camp for unaccompanied migrants in Tornillo, Texas, after a federal watchdog warned about “serious safety and health” concerns at the facility.
  93. About 5,500 of the 6,200 teens who cycled through Tornillo since June have been released to a parent or guardian while they await the outcome of their immigration cases, and 700 were transferred to other facilities.
  94. The tent city, originally intended to house migrants for 30 days, but ultimately were used and expanded over seven months amidst criticism from lawmakers, will be dismantled.
  95. Germany news agency Deutsche Welle reported the Trump regime quietly downgraded the European Union mission to the U.S. from member state to international organization. EU officials were not notified of the change.
  96. The State Department did not respond to EU officials or press on the issue, citing limited operations due to the government shutdown. The downgrade reverses an Obama-era enhanced EU diplomatic role.
  97. On Tuesday, an unsealed indictment revealed Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Donald Jr. at Trump Tower, was charged with obstructing justice in a separate money-laundering investigation.
  98. The indictment cited Veselnitskaya made a “misleading declaration” to the court in 2015 while representing Prevezon Holdings, as part of a civil case arising from into suspected Russian money laundering and tax fraud.
  99. The Prevezon case, originally brought by Preet Bharara for $230 million before he was fired, was mysteriously settled by then Attorney General Jeff Sessions two days before trial for $5.8 million in Week 37.
  100. The indictment argues Veselnitskaya has worked closely with senior Russian officials for years. She is also a central figure in Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  101. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to intercede in a mysterious fight over a sealed grand jury subpoenato a corporation owned by an unnamed foreign government by Mueller’s team.
  102. The court’s action means the corporation must provide information to Mueller’s team, or face financial penalties. The order also vacated chief justice John Roberts’ temporary stay.
  103. On Tuesday, a filing by Paul Manafort’s attorneys, which inadvertently included details not intended to be made public, revealed Manafort shared 2016 presidential campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik.
  104. Kilimnik, a business associate of Manafort, is believed by the FBI to have ties to Russian intelligence. In the filing, Manafort’s attorneys deny that he broke his plea deal by lying repeatedly to Mueller’s team.
  105. In the unredacted filing, Mueller’s team alleged that Manafort “lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik,” and lied about discussing a Ukrainian peace plan with Kilimnik during the 2016 campaign.
  106. Michael Cohen has said he was given a Russian-friendly peace plan for Ukraine by a Ukrainian lawmaker and Felix Sater in January 2017, which would have paved the way for the U.S. to lift sanctions on Russia.
  107. On Thursday, NYT reported attendance by at least a dozen Ukrainian political and business figures at Trump’s inauguration got Mueller’s attention, and spawned several related inquiries by federal prosecutors.
  108. Indications are that at least some of the Ukrainians, who paid at least $25,000 per ticket for inauguration events, were there promoting “peace” plans that aligned with Russia’s interests, including lifting U.S. sanctions.
  109. According to information disclosed in the Manafort filing, he told Kilimnik to pass polling data to two Ukrainian oligarchs who helped finance the Russia-aligned Ukrainian political parties for which Manafort had worked.
  110. One of the two oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin, attended the Liberty Ball. Within days of the inauguration,Trump’s White House made inquiries to the State Department and Congress about easing Russian sanctions.
  111. The abrupt shift set off alarms. Several officials said that the National Security Council under Mike Flynn inquired whether Ukraine was really part of Russia and whether Crimea wanted to be part of Russia.
  112. On Thursday, Michael Cohen announced that he will voluntarily testify before the House Oversight Committee on February 7, a month before he begins a three-year prison term in March.
  113. House Oversight Committee chair Elijah Cummings said the hearing will be public, and that Mueller cleared Cohen’s testimony before it was agreed to, meaning it can include Trump Tower Moscow and other Russian ties.
  114. On Wednesday, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Elections Ltd, was fined by the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office for failing to comply with the ICO notice to return information to Prof. David Carroll.
  115. Carroll, who is U.S. based, sued to get his personal data back in Week 47, saying he was one of millions who had his information harvested. The company refused to disclose how much data they held or how they used it.
  116. On Thursday, WSJ reported on a hack by Russia of America’s electric system. U.S. officials were so concerned by the hack, they took the unusual step in early 2018 of publicly blaming the Russian government.
  117. The Journal reconstructed the hack, revealing glaring vulnerabilities. Rather than strike the utilities, the Russian hackers went after the system’s unprotected underbelly — hundreds of contractors and subcontractors.
  118. Russian hackers planted malware on sites of online publications, sent out fake résumés with tainted attachments, and slipped through hidden portals to get into systems that monitor and control electricity flows.
  119. On Wednesday, WAPO reported that newly arrived White House Counsel Pat Cipollone has hired 17 lawyers in recent weeks to help in a new strategy to strongly assert Trump’s executive privilege.
  120. The strategy would prevent Trump’s confidential discussions with top advisers from being disclosed to House Democratic investigators, and revealed in Mueller’s report. Cipollone is coordinating with Emmet Flood.
  121. The White House Counsel’s Office was down to fewer than 20 lawyers late last year, compared with 40 to 50 in past administrations. Cipollone has plans to bolster the ranks to 40 in the coming weeks.
  122. On Wednesday, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the Mueller probe and was a frequent target of Trump, said he will resign as soon as Trump’s attorney general nominee is confirmed.
  123. NBC News reported Rosenstein intends to stay on until the Mueller probe is complete. A source said that would mean Rosenstein would remain until early March. Officials said Rosenstein was not being forced out by Trump.
  124. On Wednesday, as GOP senators promise Trump’s nominee for attorney general William Barr will not touch the Mueller probe, Barr has refused to meet with most Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  125. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the regime cited the “truncated schedule” as an excuse, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she was refused as the DOJ cited reduced staff and resources due to the partial government shutdown.
  126. On Friday, Rudy Giuliani told the Hill that Trump’s team should be allowed to “correct” Mueller’s final report before Congress or the American people get the chance to read it.
  127. On Friday, CNN reported the Trump Organization has hired Stefan Passantino, a lawyer who formerly worked in the White House Counsel’s Office, to oversee the response to investigations by House Democrats.
  128. On Wednesday, Trump threatened to cut off Federal Emergency Management Agency aid to California, tweeting: “Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money.”
  129. Trump also tweeted, “It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!” The FEMA response for clarification by WAPO read, “Due to the federal funding hiatus, we are not able to respond to general press queries.”
  130. On Wednesday, Speaker Pelosi, whose district is in California, tweeted that Trump’s threat “insults the memory of scores of Americans who perished in wildfires last year & thousands more who lost their homes.”
  131. On Tuesday, the chairs of seven House committees sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin demanding information on why sanctions against Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s businesses were lifted.
  132. On Thursday, Mnuchin delivered a classified briefing to U.S. House lawmakers. Mnuchin, who served as the Trump campaign’s national finance chairman in 2016, has up until now faced little scrutiny.
  133. Pelosi slammed Mnuchin for “wasting” lawmakers’ time during the classified briefing, saying his remarks give “stiff competition” for “one of the worst classified briefings we have received” from the Trump regime.
  134. On Wednesday, four Democratic senators requested information from the EPA about a financial filing which revealed a $50,000 donation to Scott Pruitt’s legal defense fund from a Republican donor and businesswoman.
  135. Forbes reported Trump sold $35 million of real estate in 2018. Although Eric and Don Jr. are running day-to-day operations, Trump kept ownership of the business, which has continued to liquidate properties.
  136. On Monday, Jim Yong Kim, the president of the 189-nation World Bank, said he would resign, three years before his term expires. As the U.S. is the largest shareholder in the bank, Trump will appoint his successor.
  137. On Friday, Financial Times reported Ivanka Trump is being considered to replace Kim, whose sudden departure leaves the bank’s future uncertain. The Trump regime has been negatively inclined towards the bank.
  138. On Friday, Trump suggested a path to citizenship for specialized visa holders, tweeting: “H1-B [sic] holders in the United States can rest assured” changes are coming soon. The H1-B program is for highly skilled workers.
  139. Trump also tweeted, “We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people.” It was unclear what Trump meant. The regime has tightened regulations that govern the program.
  140. On Friday, as many as 800,000 federal workers missed their paycheck, the first in the three weeks of the shutdown. Missing paychecks are likely to trigger at least some unemployment claims and resignations.
  141. WAPO reported furloughed workers are selling household and personal items on websites like Craigslist and Facebook to try to make ends meet. Many Americans continue to live from paycheck to paycheck.
  142. Tampa International Airport, working with United Way, started a food bank for the airport’s 700 Transportation Security Administration, CBP, and Federal Aviation Administration employees, which will open Monday.
  143. On Friday, pictures shared by the National Park Service and National Parks Traveler showed vandals in the currently unstaffed Joshua Tree National Park cut down Joshua trees to make new roads into out-of-bounds areas during the shutdown.
  144. On Friday, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, whose 16,000 controllers are working without pay, became the third union to sue the government over the shutdown.
  145. On Friday, unions with a combined 244,000 members of federal and government employees, weather service, and machinists, and aerospace workers also filed suit demanding full compensation plus overtime.
  146. On Friday, Foreign Policy reported that U.S. diplomats are filing for unemployment benefits and seeking school lunches for their children, while Pompeo is making unpaid workers organize an upcoming conference.
  147. A group of current and former employees pooled money to buy groceries for their colleagues who are running out of money, while others fundraise for janitors and other low-level contractors, who will not get back pay.
  148. On Friday,Trump ally Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Mark Meadows said in a tweet that Trump should “use asset forfeiture money” to pay for the wall, and if not, “he should declare a national emergency.”
  149. On Friday, Senate Leader McConnell adjourned the Senate before 2 p.m. for the weekend, ensuring the government shutdown, then tied for the longest at 21 days, will be the longest in U.S. history.
  150. On Friday, Trump during an immigration roundtable at the White House, Trump told reporters he could call a national emergency but would “rather not,” calling it an “easy way out,” and saying instead Congress should act.
  151. Later Friday, Speaker Pelosi told reporters on the protracted shutdown: “It’s a temper tantrum by the president. I’m the mother of five, grandmother of nine. I know a temper tantrum when I see one.”
  152. A new NPR/Ipsos poll found, as the shutdown matched the longest in history on Friday, three-quarters of Americans say the shutdown is “embarrassing for the country,” including 58% of Republicans.
  153. The polls also found that 71% of Americans believe the shutdown will hurt our country, and 72% think Congress should pass a bill to reopen the government now while budget talks continue.
  154. On Thursday, Politico reported Trump’s White House reached out to allies and conservative activist groups to prepare for an ailing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s possible death or departure from the Supreme Court.
  155. On Friday, the Supreme Court issued a statement saying Justice Ginsburg shows “no evidence of remaining disease,” and her recovery is “on track.” This week, for the first time, Ginsburg missed oral arguments.
  156. On Friday, a NYT bombshell reported the F.B.I. opened investigations into Trump almost immediately after he fired James Comey, including whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.
  157. The investigation included a counterintelligence component into whether Trump’s actions constituted a threat to national security, and whether he was knowingly working for Russia or had fallen under their influence.
  158. The investigation had a criminal component, considering whether the Comey firing was obstruction of justice. F.B.I. agents grew suspicious of Trump during the campaign given his statements and the change in RNC platform.
  159. The criminal and counterintelligence elements were coupled together into one investigation, because if Trump fired Comey to impede or end the Russia investigation, that would be a crime and national security concern.
  160. In the months before the election, the F.B.I. was already investigating four Trump associates for ties to Russia. Agents were also concerned about claims in the Steele dossier that Russians could blackmail or bribe Trump.
  161. Investigators were also troubled by Trump’s NBC News interview after firing Comey, as well as his Oval Office meeting with Russian officials where he said, “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
  162. Given the historic nature of investigating a sitting president, agents were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry. But Trump twice publicly tying the Comey firing to the Russia investigation prompted them to take action.
  163. Mueller’s team took over the inquiry into Trump when he was appointed, just days after it had been opened. Agents were concerned Trump would appoint a new F.B.I. head who would impede the investigations.
  164. Giuliani told NYT, “I think it’s of no concern at all. It goes back a year and a half ago. If they found something that imperiled national security, they would have had to report it,” adding it shows “how out of control they are.”
  165. On Friday, press secretary Sanders denounced the Times reporting, saying “This is absurd. James Comey was fired because he’s a disgraced partisan hack,” adding, unlike Obama, “Trump has actually been tough on Russia.”
  166. Reuters reported Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at the Russia Calling annual forum, said Russia would supply so beans and poultry meat to China given that the U.S. had effectively given up on that market.
  167. On Wednesday, Russian news agency TASS reported the head of Russia’s Roscosmos State Space Corporation had his visit to the U.S. at NASA’s invitation canceled because the “second American civil war” is underway.
  168. As midnight passed on Saturday, the government shutdown became the longest in U.S. history, breaking the previous record of 21 days in 1995–1996 under former President Bill Clinton.
  169. On Friday, NYT reported Republican lawmakers and aides are privately concerned with Trump’s handling of the shutdown, and admit even members of his own party do not know what to expect from him.
  170. Trump has undercut Vice President Mike Pence, his delegate meant to negotiate an end to the stalemate, on several occasions. Kushner has also been brought on, but given his inexperience has not been productive.
  171. White House officials acknowledge Trump dove into the fight with no clear end game. Trump and Republicans also wrongly assumed that when federal workers missed their first paycheck Friday, Democrats would cave.
  172. On Saturday, Trump sent a Twitter storm of 12 tweets before noon on topics related to the Times, the FBI, former FBI Director James Comey, Hillary Clinton, Robert Mueller, and the government shutdown.
  173. Trump tweeted, “Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI” opened an investigation for no reason and with no proof “after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!”
  174. Trump raged, tweeting on Comey: “Everybody wanted him fired, Republican and Democrat alike…after the rigged & botched Crooked Hillary investigation, where she said she didn’t know anything (a lie).”
  175. Trump also tweeted: “the FBI was in complete turmoil (see N.Y. Post) because of Comey’s poor leadership,” adding “My firing of James Comey was a great day for America. He was a Crooked Cop.”
  176. Trump also tweeted that Comey was being “protected by his best friend, Bob Mueller, & the 13 Angry Democrats,” who have “NO interest in going after the Real Collusion (and much more) by Crooked Hillary Clinton.”
  177. Trump also tweeted, “I have been FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton,” adding, “as I have often said, getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing.”
  178. Trump also tweeted, “Lyin’ James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter S and his lover, agent Lisa Page” are all “part of the Witch Hunt. Remember the “insurance policy?” This is it!”
  179. Trump then shifted to the government shutdown, tweeting: “Democrats should come back to Washington and work to end the Shutdown,” adding, “I am in the White House waiting for you!”
  180. Trump then quoted some misleading statistics, and tweeted: “Democrats come back!” adding, “Democrats could solve the Shutdown in 15 minutes! Call your Dem Senator or Congresswoman..Humanitarian Crisis.”
  181. Trump also tweeted, “I just watched a Fake reporter from the Amazon Washington Post say the White House is ‘chaotic,’” and “the Fakes always like talking Chaos,” but “there’s almost nobody in the W.H. but me.”
  182. Trump also tweeted: “We have a massive Humanitarian Crisis at our Southern Border,” adding, “We will be out for a long time unless the Democrats come back from their “vacations” and get back to work.”

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Government workers protest the government shutdown during a demonstration in the Federal Building Plaza on January 10, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. The protest, on the 20th day of a partial shutdown, was one of several held around the country today.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 113: THE TRAITOR HAS A “PELOSI PROBLEM” NOW

JANUARY 05, 2019

Week 112

 Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-112/

Here are my political art finds paired with activist Amy Siskind’s weekly list of what’s happening in politics in our country. For more information, please click the link to her page above. 

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By artist, LEAF, in New York City. Jan 2019. (not my photo)

This week, for the first time since he took office, Trump faced a check on his power as the 116th Congress was sworn in. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took back the gavel, she made clear she will take Trump on, telling the Times she considers herself Trump’s equal, and the “TODAY” show that Trump can be indicted while in office. The 116th Congress, the most diverse by race, religion, and gender — on the Democratic side — stood in sharp contrast to Trump, who increasingly surrounds himself with rooms full of white men.

The government shutdown passed three weeks, with no end in sight, as Trump dug in his heels and Pelosi’s House voted to reopen the government without any funding for his wall. As the shutdown’s impact was increasingly felt across the country, including unpaid essential TSA workers calling in sick at four major airports, reporting indicated the Trump regime had not planned for or anticipated a long-term shutdown, and is caught flat-footed. Trump’s lack of empathy for those impacted by the shutdown, and threat to call a national emergency, further belied his autocratic tendencies.

Trump held a bizarre cabinet meeting in which he rambled on for 95 minutes, full of lies, revisionist history and self-aggrandizement — as his cabinet members took turns praising him. Although displays like this in his first year would be the topic of discussion for days, there was a notably shorter focus and reaction to the spectacle, as if truly we are the frogs in water close to boil. The federal grand jury seated in Washington D.C. for the Mueller probe was extended for an additional six months, as the 18 month mark passed.

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Photo: Pascal Doytier. Miami, Florida. End of December 2018.
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Shared by Hunter Schwarz on IG. This was spotted on the window of Trump Tower, Chicago. 
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Wynwood, Miami, Florida. December 2018. 
  1. The International Federation of Journalists, an international trade association, said in its annual report 94 journalists and media workers died in 2018, 12 more than 2017, after declining for the last six years.
  2. Reporters Without Borders also found journalists faced an “unprecedented level of hostility” in 2018. The group blamed politicians and public figures for encouraging disdain for the news media.
  3. In 2018, 348 reporters were detained, 60 held hostage, 3 missing, and 80 were killed. Of those killed, 61% were murdered or deliberately targeted for their reporting, while 39% were killed while reporting.
  4. Also in 2018, for the first time the U.S. joined the list of the deadliest countries for journalists, with six killed, including the four murdered at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland in Week 85.
  5. On Saturday, a server outage caused by a malware attack which originated from outside the U.S. disrupted deliveries of the LA Times and other newspapers across the country.
  6. On Saturday, CNET reported CenturyLink customers, including those trying to reach 911 emergency service, experienced outages which dragged on for two days. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called for an investigation.
  7. On Saturday, at 10:01 p.m., Trump tweeted “Absolutely nothing” (on Russian Collusion). Kimberley Strassel, The Wall Street Journal,” adding, “The only Russian Collusion was with Hillary and the Democrats!”
  8. Trump also quoted Fox News co-host Jesse Watters, tweeting, “the FBI, under President Obama, rigged the investigation for Hillary and really turned the screws on Trump,” adding, “Whole Hoax exposed.”
  9. On Sunday, in an interview with the LA Times, departing chief of staff John Kelly painted a dim portrait of Trump, saying his tenure would be best measured by what he stopped Trump from doing.
  10. Kelly also said Trump never told him to do anything illegal, and that Trump “was fully informed on the impact” of every decision he made. Kelly has opposed withdrawing from Syria and Afghanistan.
  11. Kelly admitted that he was not consulted when he served as secretary of homeland security about Trump’s Muslim Ban, saying “I had very little opportunity to look at them” before the orders were issued.
  12. Kelly also tried to distance himself from Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, saying “What happened was Jeff Sessions — he was the one that instituted the zero-tolerance process on the border,” adding, “He surprised us.”
  13. Kelly also said Trump has backed away from the idea of a solid concrete wall long ago, saying Trump “still says ‘wall’ — oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward steel slats.”
  14. Yahoo News reported that with continued White House resignations, Trump has increasingly turned to Stephen Miller to be the public face with the media. Several called Miller’s reemergence a “public relations catastrophe.”
  15. Miller’s reemergence also comes as the White House press operation retreats. Since December 19, the communications team has ceased basic tasks like daily press briefings and distributing Trump’s public schedule.
  16. According to data compiled by The American Presidency Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara, press secretary Sarah Sanders has slowed daily press briefings down to just one per month recently.
  17. WAPO reported that increasingly Trump’s White House has no response to inquiries. Instead of the typical “no comment” response from prior administrations, the Trump regime simply does not answer inquiries at all.
  18. The White House has also stopped explaining or seeking to clarify Trump’s tweets, like the one on Christmas Eve day that he “just gave out a 115 mile long contract.” No response was given inquiries on multiple tweets.
  19. On Sunday, arguing for his wall, Trump tweeted, “President and Mrs. Obama built/has a ten foot Wall around their D.C. mansion/compound…the U.S. needs the same thing.” The Obamas do not have a ten foot wall.
  20. On Monday, New Year’s Eve, Trump sent a total of 13 tweets. Trump attacked critics of his decision towithdraw from Syria as “failed generals” and complained about coverage by the “Fake News Media.”
  21. Trump also tweeted, “I’m in the Oval Office. Democrats, come back from vacation now” to discuss his border wall. Politico reported there was no Marine posted outside the West Wing, meaning Trump was not in the Oval Office.
  22. Trump also tweeted, “It’s incredible how Democrats can all use their ridiculous sound bite and say that a Wall doesn’t work,” adding “They now say it is immoral- but it is far more immoral for people to be dying!”
  23. Trump also falsely claimed in a tweet, “MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL through the many billions of dollars a year that the U.S.A. is saving through the new Trade Deal.”
  24. Trump also tweeted “without the Wall there can be no Border Security.” He added, “Throughout the ages some things NEVER get better and NEVER change. You have Walls and you have Wheels.”
  25. On Monday, the U.S. stock markets closed out 2018, posting its worst performance in a decade, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor’s 500 were down 6.2%.
  26. On Monday, the U.S. Strategic Command deleted a tweet which noted the “big” Times Square ball drop celebration at midnight, and joked “if ever needed, we are #ready to drop something much, much bigger.”
  27. In a follow-up tweet, U.S. Strategic Command, a government account, apologized: “Our previous NYE tweet was in poor taste & does not reflect our values…We are dedicated to the security of America & allies.”
  28. On Monday, Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White resigned, tweeting it has been her honor and privilege to serve alongside “Secretary Mattis, our Service members and the civilians who support them.”
  29. Trump closed out 2018 with an interview on Fox News, marking his 41st since his inauguration. The phone interview with Pete Hegseth aired on the cable network’s New Year’s Eve countdown show.
  30. During his time in office, Trump has formed symbiotic relationships with several Fox News and Fox Business hosts and contributors, drawing criticism and comparisons to state-run TV.
  31. On Tuesday, the first day of the new year, Trump’s first tweet was to promote a pro-Trump book by former White House aide Sebastian Gorka, “a very good and talented guy,” adding, “Lots of insight — Enjoy!”
  32. Trump then tweeted, “HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE, INCLUDING THE HATERS AND THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA! 2019 WILL BE A FANTASTIC YEAR FOR THOSE NOT SUFFERING FROM TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. JUST CALM DOWN AND ENJOY THE RIDE, GREAT THINGS ARE HAPPENING FOR OUR COUNTRY!”
  33. Trump spent New Year’s Eve holed up in the White House also continued his attacks on Democrats, tweeting, “The Democrats do not care about Open Borders and all of the crime and drugs that Open Borders bring!”
  34. Trump also attacked retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, tweeting, “‘General’ McChrystal” got fired like a dog by Obama,” adding, “Known for big, dumb mouth. Hillary lover!” Notably, Trump put the word General in quotes.
  35. The tweet was in response to McChrystal telling “This Week” on Sunday he would not work for Trump, saying, “It’s important for me to work for people who I think are basically honest,” adding, “I don’t think he tells the truth.”
  36. On Saturday, CNN reported Trump quietly issued an executive order Friday freezing federal workers’ pay for 2019, canceling a 2.1% across-the-board pay raise that was set to take effect in January.
  37. Trump had initially told lawmakers of his plan in August, saying the federal budget could not support the raise, and describing a pay raise as “inappropriate.” The 2.6% raise for U.S. troops in 2019 was not effected.
  38. WAPO reported the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is facing scrutiny after tweeting a sample letter for furloughed federal workers suggesting they bargain with landlords and offer to do chores to cover their rent.
  39. On Tuesday, WSJ reported as the government shutdown continues, federal workers are worried about paying their bills. Some are filing unemployment claims or telling landlords they cannot pay their rent on time.
  40. Of the 800,000 employees impacted, 420,000 have been deemed essential and are working without pay. The American Federation of Government Employees sued Monday, saying requiring employees to work without pay is illegal.
  41. PBS “Newshour” reported national parks, left open to visitors but with little staff on duty, were impacted byvandalism, overflowing garbage and toilets, illegal off-roading, and other damaging behavior in fragile areas.
  42. However, E&E News reported the Old Post Office tower which shares facilities with the Trump Hotel DC, will remain open during the shutdown, with funds provided by the General Services Administration.
  43. On Sunday, Jazmine Barnes, a 7-year-old Black girl, was shot and killed while riding in a car leaving a Walmart in Texas with her mom and three sisters by an unidentified white man in his 40s, driving a red truck.
  44. In Florida, Daniel Taylor, a white man who grabbed a Black female employee and later kicked another at a McDonald’s during an argument over straws, was arrested after a video of the incident went viral.
  45. The Arizona Republic reported on videos obtained from the Arizona Department of Health Services which show migrant children being dragged and shoved at an Arizona shelter operated by Southwest Key.
  46. The incidents involving three children were reported in mid September, and the shelter closed in late October. State regulators said the company failed to perform background checks on all its employees.
  47. On Tuesday, AP reported U.S. authorities fired tear gas into Mexico to stop migrants from crossing the border. Customs and Border Protection claimed in a statement that tear gas was used to target rock throwers.
  48. An AP photographer contradicted CBP, saying at least three volleys of gas were launched at migrants, including women and children, before rocks were thrown. An AP journalist also saw plastic pellets fired by U.S. agents.
  49. On Thursday, in a statement, Mexico’s foreign affairs ministry formally asked the U.S. government to conduct a thorough investigation of the tear-gassing, reiterating its commitment to the safety of migrants.
  50. WAPO reported Emma Torres, a former kitchen employee at Trump’s Bedminster golf club, said she informed a human resources officer at the club that she did not have papers to live in the U.S. legally.
  51. Torres said superiors kept her name, and those of other undocumented workers, off a list of people to be vetted by the Secret Service before Trump visited the club, because of their status and because they did not have papers.
  52. Victorina Morales, mentioned in the NYT story, said Secret Service agents gave her a pin to wear every time Trump visited. It is unclear if Morales received a screening from Secret Service, or the purpose of the pin.
  53. On Wednesday, in a segment titled “Men in Decline,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed there is “more drug and alcohol abuse” and “higher incarceration rates” in areas where women earn more than men.
  54. Carlson added “before you applaud that as a victory for feminism, consider some of the effects. Study after study has shown that when men make less than women, women generally don’t want to marry them.”
  55. On Thursday, Carlson compared the barrage of criticism he received to “how we wound up in the dark ages,” saying, “This is why important science is no longer being conducted. This is why art isn’t being made.”
  56. On Friday, a D.C. court sided with the Trump regime, saying restrictions on transgender people serving in the military can stand. The decision lifted an injunction barring the regime from limiting their service.
  57. The order does not change the status quo since three other cases have temporarily prevented the regime from implementing its policy, but the ruling was seen as a blow to civil rights and gay rights organizations.
  58. On Friday, the Guardian reported the Trump regime has stopped cooperating with UN investigators on investigations of potential human rights violations occurring inside America.
  59. The State Department stopped responded to queries on May 7, 2018, leaving at least 13 requests unanswered, and sending a dangerous signal to authoritarian regimes around the world.
  60. In his televised New Year’s Eve message, Kim Jong-un said international sanctions must be lifted before North Korea will give up weapons or stop producing nuclear material — the position prior to the Singapore Summit.
  61. Responding in a tweet, Trump mischaracterized the statement saying “North Korea will not make or test nuclear weapons, or give them to others,” adding, “I also look forward to meeting with Chairman Kim.”
  62. On Monday, federal prosecutors filed a status report under seal in the case of Sam Patten, a Republican consultant who pleaded guilty to failing to register as a lobbyist for a political party in Ukraine in August.
  63. Patten, a business associate of Paul Manafort, ran a company with a Russian national identified only as “Person A,” thought to be Konstantin Kilimnik. Patten has been cooperating in the Mueller probe.
  64. On Monday, Russia’s state security service, the FSB, said it had arrested Paul Whelan, an American citizen, on suspicion of spying. Foreigners found guilty of spying on Russia face 10 to 20 years in prison.
  65. Putin has publicly said Maria Butina was not known to any of his spy agencies, and Russia’s Foreign Ministry has extensively used social media to portray her as a political prisoner.
  66. On Thursday, Russia charged Whelan with espionage, claiming he spent years cultivating confidential sources, and allegedly received a flash drive containing a list of employees for a secret Russian agency.
  67. The family said Whelan, a Marine Corps veteran, was in Russia for a wedding. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said U.S. officials hoped to gain consular access to see Whelan.
  68. On Saturday, Russia foreign ministry dismissed chances of a swap of Whelan for Dmitry Makarenko, a Russian arrested on December 29, after being indicted in Miami in 2017 for breaking U.S. law.
  69. On Friday, CNN reported a federal grand jury convened in D.C. for the Mueller probe has been extended for up to six additional months. The grand jury’s term was set to expire over the weekend.
  70. On Friday, The Daily Beast reported Democrats are looking at ways to block the Trump regime from lifting U.S. sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska-controlled companies EN+ and Rusal.
  71. On Friday, WSJ reported the FBI is investigating fake texts sent to Republican House members by someone impersonating a top aide to Vice President Mike Pence.
  72. Netflix blocked an episode of its show “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj” which was critical of Crown Prince MBS, from streaming in Saudi Arabia, after the Saudi government said the episode violated its cybercrime laws.
  73. The Saudi Press Agency reported prosecutors will seek the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects accused of killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudis claims neither MBS or King Salman knew of the operation.
  74. On Wednesday, in an interview with The New York Times Magazine, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Trump an “amoral” person and said he’s “the worst President we’ve ever had.”
  75. On Wednesday, incoming Utah Sen. Mitt Romney wrote a sharp rebuke of Trump in an op-ed the day before he was sworn in. Romney said that two years in, Trump has “not risen to the mantle of the office.”
  76. Romney wrote a “president shapes the public character of a nation,” saying a leader “should unite us and inspire us,” and “demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity,” but that Trump’s character falls short.
  77. Romney also noted “the world needs American leadership, and it is in America’s interest to provide it,” adding, the world is increasingly under leadership by China and Russia which is “autocratic, corrupt and brutal.”
  78. In response to Romney’s op-ed, Trump tweeted in the morning, “Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not,” adding, “I won big, and he didn’t…Be a TEAM player & WIN!”
  79. GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Romney’s niece, tweeted “For an incoming Republican freshman senator” to attack Trump is what the “Democrats and media want” and is “disappointing and unproductive.”
  80. On Wednesday, ahead of a meeting with party leaders, Trump again tweeted false claims about the wall, including “Mexico is paying for the Wall through the new USMCA Trade Deal.”
  81. Trump also tweeted another false claim: “Much of the Wall has already been fully renovated or built.” Some walls and fencing have been replaced during Trump’s time in office, but no new wall has been built.
  82. Wednesday marked the 12th day of the shutdown. Trump said he will veto any measure that did not include $5.6 billion for his wall, telling Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer he would “look foolish” if he backed down.
  83. On Wednesday, Trump also held a cabinet meeting open to the press in which he went on a 95-minute stream-of-consciousness diatribe full of lies, revisionist history, and self-aggrandizement.
  84. On the table where the meeting took place there was a noticeable “Game of Thrones”-style poster with a photo of Trump which read “SANCTIONS ARE COMING NOVEMBER 4.” Trump did not mention the poster in his diatribe.
  85. Trump again trashed Mattis, saying he “essentially” fired him, adding, “What’s he done for me?” Trump also suggested even though he dodged the draft, “I think I would have been a good general, but who knows?”
  86. Trump again took credit for falling oil prices, falsely claiming his calls to leaders were the reason for the fall, “I called up certain people, and I said let that damn oil and gasoline — you let it flow, the oil.”
  87. Trump also took a swipe at Democrats for calling his wall immoral, saying, “Then we have to do something about the Vatican, because the Vatican has the biggest wall of them all.”
  88. Trump also complained that Democrats left D.C. over the holiday, saying “I was here on Christmas evening. I was all by myself in the White House — it’s a big, big house — except for the guys on the lawn with machine guns.”
  89. Trump falsely claimed there were 35 million immigrants illegally in the U.S. In 2016, Pew Research estimated 10.7 million, and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen told Congress there were between 11 and 22 million last week.
  90. Trump described the recent stock market downturn in late 2018 as a “glitch,” saying the markets will soar again on the strength of his trade deals.
  91. Trump also addressed Romney’s op-ed, saying “They say I am the most popular president in the history of the Republican Party,” and adding Romney is not a “team player.”
  92. Trump claimed he could have any government job and be the “most popular person” in Europe, despite a recent poll showing just 16% think he would “do the right thing in world affairs,” down from 84% for Obama.
  93. Trump also defended pulling troops from Afghanistan giving an inaccurate and incomplete account: “Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan.”
  94. Several cabinet members interjected praise for Trump, including Vice President Pence who thanked him for his strong stand on border security, and Secretary Nielsen who said “now more than ever we need the wall.”
  95. Acting AG Matthew Whitaker added, “Sir, Mr. President, I will start by highlighting the fact that you stayed” in D.C., giving up Christmas and New Year’s with your family while “some members of Congress went on vacation.”
  96. On Wednesday, Whitaker had breakfast with former AG Ed Meese, who told an AP reporter Whitaker said U.S. Attorney John Huber is continuing to investigate FBI-related concerns raised in the last year by GOP lawmakers.
  97. Huber is investigating FBI surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, and whether the FBI should have done more to investigate the Clinton Foundation. The DOJ has provided no public updates on his work.
  98. Later, Trump held a meeting with Congressional leaders to discuss the government shutdown. Axios reportedTrump chose the Situation Room as a location as a way to dramatize security concerns at the border.
  99. On Wednesday, Apple lowered its first quarter guidance. CEO Tim Cook cited lower-than-anticipated revenue in China following the trade tensions between the U.S. and China resulting from the trade war.
  100. On Thursday, the Dow Jones tumbled more than 600 points, amid Apple’s shares plunging 10%, a weaker-than-expected manufacturing monthly number, and rising fears of an economic slowdown.
  101. On Thursday, the Treasury Department released numbers showing the U.S. national debt reached a record $22 trillion at the end of 2018, more than $2 trillion higher than when Trump took office.
  102. On Thursday, with Pelosi set to be sworn in as Speaker of the 116th Congress, she told “TODAY” in an interview that she will not rule out indicting Trump, despite Justice Department guidelines against it.
  103. On impeachment, Pelosi said, “We have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report. We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason,” and on funding for Trump’s wall, “No, no. Nothing for the wall.”
  104. Asked about Trump criticizing her vacation in Hawaii during the shutdown, Pelosi said Trump “may not know this, but Hawaii is part of the United States of America; maybe he doesn’t realize that.”
  105. Pelosi will reclaim the House Speaker gavel she last had from 2007 until eight years ago. When the NYT asked Pelosi whether she considers herself Trump’s equal, she responded, “the Constitution does.”
  106. The 116th Congress sworn in Thursday is the most racially diverse and most female group of representatives ever elected to the House, after an election dubbed the “Year of the Woman.”
  107. The freshman class included historic firsts, including the first two Native American women and first two Muslim American women, as well as several who are the first African-American women elected in their states.
  108. The diversity was only on the Democratic side, where 60% of the incoming class is women. The Republican freshman class included just two women in the House and two in the Senate, and just one person of color.
  109. Pelosi took her speaker’s oath surrounded by scores of children who were her family members and family members of the incoming class, saying, “I now call the House to order on behalf of all of America’s children.”
  110. On Thursday, shortly after Pelosi spoke, Trump convened an impromptu news conference, his first in the White House briefing room. CNN and Fox News broke away from other coverage; MSNBC did only for a short time.
  111. Trump stood alongside notably all white male border patrol agents to give his standard message about immigration and border patrol, delivered no new news, and left after without taking any questions from reporters.
  112. On Thursday, Trump posted a “Game of Thrones”-style image similar to the one of the table in the cabinet meeting Wednesday, which read “THE WALL IS COMING” on his official Instagram page.
  113. On Thursday, Trump tweeted an image from conservative outlet The Daily Wire that read “Warren 1/2020th,” a reference to DNA results, after Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her 2020 presidential run.
  114. On Thursday, in the evening, the House voted to reopen the government without giving Trump any money for his wall. A handful of House Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the bill.
  115. When reporters asked Pelosi if she would accept “even a dollar” for Trump’s wall, she joked “A dollar? A dollar? Yeah, one dollar,” adding, “We are not doing a wall. So that’s that.
  116. On Thursday, at a MoveOn rally in the evening near Capitol Hill, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the two freshman Muslim American women told the crowd, “‘We’re going to go in there and impeach the motherfucker.”
  117. On Friday, Trump tweeted “How do you impeach a president who has won perhaps the greatest election of all time,” and “had the most successful first two years of any president, and is the most popular Republican.”
  118. Trump also asserted, without evidence, “no Collusion with Russia, it was the Dems that Colluded.” The grounds for impeachment are “high crimes and misdemeanors,” and not related to job performance or popularity.
  119. Trump continues to take credit for stock market gains and positive economic announcements, while blaming others including the Fed Chair, the Treasury Secretary, and Democrats for bad news.
  120. On Friday, Trump blamed Thursday’s stock market sell-off on Democrats, saying in a tweet he had warned that “if the Democrats take over the House or Senate, there will be disruption to the Financial Markets.”
  121. On Friday, when asked by the moderator at the American Economic Association’s annual meeting, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he would not resign if Trump asked him to.
  122. On Friday, press secretary Sanders, speaking to reporters outside the White House, falsely claimed CBP picked up nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists “that came across our southern border” last year.
  123. According to DOJ public records and two former counterterrorism officials who spoke to NBC News, not a single immigrant has been arrested at the southwest border on terrorism charges in recent years.
  124. Also, a head of Trump’s meeting with Congressional leaders Friday, the White House issued a misleading statement: “3,775 known or suspected terrorists [were] prevented from traveling or entering the U.S.” in 2017.
  125. WAPO reported the DOJ also acknowledged errors and deficiencies in a controversial report issued in January 2018, which implied a link between terrorism and immigration, but again refusing to correct or retract it.
  126. The report was written in compliance with Trump’s March 2017 executive order to justify his Muslim ban. Critics expressed alarm at highly misleading data without context, and sued for corrections or retraction.
  127. For example, the DOJ claimed between 2003 and 2009, immigrants were convicted of 69,929 sex offenses.The offenses actually spanned a period from 1955 to 2010–55 years, according to GAO date.
  128. On Friday, sitting congressman and Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz co-hosted the Fox News show “Outnumbered.”
  129. On Friday, The Daily Beast reported Trump kicked off the meeting with Congressional leaders with a 15-minute long, profanity-laced rant including a demand for a wall, saying the word “fuck” at least three times.
  130. Pelosi and Schumer urged Trump to reopen the government, saying he was holding the government hostage.Trump responded, “I’m not going to say it’s for leverage, but I’m not going to get a deal unless I do this.”
  131. Trump threatened to keep the government closed for “years” if that is what it took to get his wall. Trump also said he did not want to call the partial government shutdown a “shutdown,” but rather to use the term “strike.”
  132. Trump also blamed Pelosi for Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s comments, and telling the leaders he was too popular to impeach. Trump also then reportedly apologized to Pelosi for cursing so much in the meeting.
  133. After the meeting, Trump spoke to the press in the Rose Garden. In a rambling, hour-long news conference,Trump asserted he had the power to declare a national emergency to build the wall without Congress.
  134. Trump also said the government would stay closed until he got funding for his wall, and claimed, without providing evidence, that previous presidents have told him they wished they had built a wall themselves.
  135. Trump offered no empathy for federal workers, saying the “safety net is going to be having a strong border because we’re going to be safe,” and landlords would “work with” them and be “nice and easy.”
  136. Trump also offered the possibility that the shutdown would not end, “We’ll see what happens. It may get solved; it may not get solved.” Senate Leader Mitch McConnell was silent in the meeting, and did not attend the press briefing.
  137. When asked about comments by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Trump told reporters “I thought her comments were disgraceful,” adding he thought her remarks “dishonored” the country.
  138. On Friday, Leader McConnell took to the Senate floor and took the unusual position that the shutdown fight was between Trump and the Democrats. Republicans facing tough 2020 re-elections are speaking out.
  139. On Friday, Politico reported that contrary to Trump’s claims in the news conference, former presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama did not confide in him that they regretted not building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
  140. WAPO reported while federal workers go without pay, senior members of the Trump regime, includingcabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries, and Vice President Mike Pence will get a roughly $10,000 raise as of January 5.
  141. WAPO reported the shutdown has put further strain on the immigration system, as employees at the borderare working but not getting paid, and judges and clerks in backlogged immigration courts have been sent home.
  142. Agents are taking an average of more than 2,000 migrants per day into custody. With nowhere to detain them, the Trump regime is releasing hundreds onto the streets in El Paso, Yuma, and other border cities.
  143. Also, while the Trump regime has threatened to crack down on companies that hire unauthorized workers, the shutdown has crippled the main compliance tool for employers to make sure they are following the law.
  144. On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham told Fox News host Sean Hannity if Trump gives in on funding for his wall, “that’s the end of 2019, in terms of him being” effective in office, and “probably the end of his presidency.”
  145. NBC News reported the shutdown is jeopardizing the welfare of some of the poorest families and the elderly. Most of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s enforcement activities have been suspended.
  146. Public housing officials are concerned about rental assistance payments from the government — a suspension could put millions of tenants at risk if the shutdown continues to February.
  147. On Friday, CNN reported that hundreds of Transportation Security Administration officers, who are required to work without pay during the shutdown, have called out sick at four major U.S. airports.
  148. Some of the reasons given for calling in sick include parents cannot afford child care without a paycheck, and workers finding cash-paying jobs outside of the government to pay their rent and other bills.
  149. The TSA is bracing for more call outs next week, and are working closely to rearrange scheduling to maintain normal wait times in security lines, and well as manage concerns about the safety of air travel.
  150. On Friday, WAPO reported the Trump regime, which had not anticipated a long-term shutdown, recognized only this week the breadth of the potential impact of keeping the government closed.
  151. Thousands of federal programs are affected by the shutdown, including food stamps for 38 million low-income Americans, which would start to run of funding in February. Grocers and retailers would also be hurt.
  152. The White House has not briefed lawmakers on the expanding consequences of a continuing shutdown, leading to confusion. Economists warn of the impact to the economy with a drop-off in spending.
  153. On Friday, Mary Mayhew, the director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services who joined the regime in October 2018, resigned to join the incoming Florida governor’s office.
  154. On Saturday, Trump took a combative tone in a series of tweets. Trump complained about the media coverage: “Washington Post and NBC reporting of events, including Fake sources, has been very inaccurate.”
  155. Trump also tweeted, “we need a WALL! In 2018, 1.7 million pounds of narcotics seized, 17,000 adults arrested with criminal records, and 6000 gang members,” adding, “A big Human Trafficking problem.”
  156. Trump also again referenced federal workers being Democrats, tweeting “I don’t care that most of the workers not getting paid are Democrats,” adding, “I am in the White House ready to go, where are the Dems?”
  157. Shortly after, Pence met with congressional aides for three hours. Pence did not have the okay to float a new or specific compromise number for the wall as he did last month with Schumer. No progress was made.
  158. WAPO reported Trump boasted in a call with friends Friday night that he was in a strong negotiating positionbecause he captured the attention of the political world, and said things his core voters appreciated.
  159. The government shutdown is now three weeks old, the second longest shutdown in history, with no end in sight. Trump is looking for optics to enhance his wall pitch, like visiting the border or meeting with sheriffs.
  160. On Saturday, Trump tweeted many people who oppose him, “including President Obama & the Dems” have had campaign violations, claiming, “While no big deal, I did not commit a campaign violation!
  161. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “‘Former @NYTimes editor Jill Abramson rips paper’s “unmistakably anti-Trump” bias,’” adding. “Hence the term Fake News, Enemy of the People, and Opposition Party!”
  162. Abramson told Politico, Fox News host Howard Kurtz in a report headlined, “Former NY Times editor rips Trump coverage as biased” took her book “totally out of context,” calling it an attempt to “Foxify my book.”

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 111: SYRIA SWINGS

DECEMBER 22, 2018

Week 110

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-110/
IMG_2735
“As Syria swings in the balance…” by Miami-based, Colombian artist, Daniel Osorno. Miami. December 2018.
IMG_0374
Artist SacSix. New York City. November 2018.

This week Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, thought to be one of the sane and sober voices remaining in the regime, resigned in a public letter rebuking Trump’s treatment of allies and deference to authoritarians. Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria was the last straw for Mattis, a decision reportedly made on a call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the week before. Mattis’ departure elicited bipartisan concern, and placed the country on edge.

This week Trump’s beloved stock market continued to crater, as the markets entered a correction period with Dow Jones Industrial Average’s worst weekly performance in 10 years, and on track for the worst December since the Great Depression. By the week’s end, Trump was privately agitating about firing Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, in what would be an unprecedented act.

In the final week Congress was in session ahead of the holidays, Trump abruptly changed his position on funding for his wall, bowing to pressure from the likes of commentator Ann Coulter and radio host Rush Limbaugh, precipitating a government shutdown Friday at midnight — the third this year, even as Republicans control the House, Senate, and White House.

Investigations under the Mueller probe and other jurisdictions progressed this week, as every part of Trump’s life is now under investigation. In a remarkable hearing, Judge Emmet Sullivan delayed sentencing for Michael Flynn, after castigating him for his role in working against U.S. interests. A pair of shocking reports made public by the Senate Intelligence Committee detailed Russia’s extensive interfering in the 2016 election in support of Trump, and another report by the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats indicated Russia was at it again in the 2018 midterms.

  1. Merriam-Webster chose “justice” as the 2018 word of the year, noting the word consistently bubbled into the top lookups on its website for uses such as obstruction of justice, social justice, and the Justice Department.
  2. A survey of more than 110 CEOs done by the Yale School of Management found 75% often had to apologize to international partners for Trump’s “embarrassing diplomatic messages” when traveling abroad for business.
  3. Also, 87% of CEOs agreed Trump’s negotiating style had cost the country the trust of allies. A senior associate dean added that “divisiveness of pitting people against each other…has worn the business community down.”
  4. WAPO reported in Trump’s first 700 days in office, he has made 7,546 false or misleading claims. In the first eight months, he averaged five per day — more recently, in October he averaged 39 per day and in November 29 per day.
  5. On Sunday, CNN noted Trump entities are the focus of at least six investigations, including the Trump campaign, transition team, inaugural committee, administration, foundation, and organization.
  6. On Sunday, Trump attacked SNL over the depiction of him in a sketch, tweeting “A REAL scandal is the one sided coverage, hour by hour, of networks like NBC & Democrat spin machines like Saturday Night Live.”
  7. Trump also tweeted, “Should be tested in courts, can’t be legal? Only defame & belittle! Collusion?” Trump drew rebukes that he was again threatening the Constitution’s First Amendment protection.
  8. On Sunday, Trump also invoked mob slang tweeting, “Michael Cohen only became a ‘Rat’” after the FBI did something “absolutely unthinkable & unheard of” when “they BROKE INTO AN ATTORNEY’S OFFICE!”
  9. Trump also quoted WSJ’s Daniel Henninger, tweeting, “It looks here as though General Flynn’s defenses are incidental to something larger…to figure out if it can find a path to Donald Trump.”
  10. Trump also tweeted about “The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, started as the “insurance policy” long before I even got elected,” adding, “they are Entrapping people.” This is false: the Mueller probe started in May 2017.
  11. A NBC-WSJ poll found 62% of Americans believe Trump has not been honest and trustworthy about the Mueller probe, up from 56% in August. Just 34% believe he is being honest and trustworthy.
  12. A USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll found 59% of Americans have “little or no trust” in Trump’s denial that there was collusion in his campaign with Russia, while just 24% have “a lot of trust.”
  13. On Monday, Reuters reported Maria Meza and her children, the mother photographed running with her daughters from tear gas at the U.S.-Mexico border in Week 107, began seeking U.S. asylum.
  14. On Monday, Reps. Nanette Barragán and Jimmy Gomez from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus live-tweeted about migrants’ attempts to apply for asylum, citing long wait times and migrants being ignored.
  15. On Tuesday, a local bank in the suburbs of Cleveland called 911 when Paul McCowns, a Black man, tried to cash his first paycheck. McCowns was asked for two forms of ID, which he provided.
  16. On Wednesday, a New Jersey high school wrestler was forced by referee Alan Maloney to cut off his dreadlocks minutes before his match or forfeit the competition. The wrestler, who is a Black teen, had to cover his hair.
  17. The state’s Interscholastic Athletic Association said in a statement they are recommending Maloney, who is white, not be assigned to referee any more matches until the matter has been thoroughly reviewed.
  18. On Thursday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported four teen girls dropped letters at non-white homes praising Trump, Pence, and saying “there is now a law against filthy nutheads like you,” along with a death threat.
  19. High school students believe two of the teens who dropped off the letters are the same two youths posing in Ku Klux Klan hoods that circulated on Snapchat on Tuesday, and all are students at Strath Haven High School, in an affluent part of Delaware County.
  20. Detroit Free Press reported a noose was found in a boys’ locker room at Athens High School in Troy on Thursday. After an investigation, the student responsible was found and suspended. The principal called it a “cry for help.”
  21. On Wednesday, a federal judge rejected the Trump regime’s request to dismiss a lawsuit challenging its plan to add a question regarding citizenship to the 2020 census, paving the way for a trial in January.
  22. Financial Times named George Soros the “Person of the Year” for 2018. The editorial board explained the pick“is usually a reflection of their achievements…his selection is also about the values he represents.”
  23. On Thursday, AP reported on the scope of the migrant children program under Trump, decades after the U.S. had stopped institutionalizing kids because large, crowded orphanages were causing lasting trauma.
  24. According to government data, of the 14,300 migrant children in government care, about 5,400 are sleeping in shelters with more than 1,000 other children, and 9,800 are in facilities with 100-plus kids.
  25. When Trump took office, the same federal program had 2,720 migrant children in its care, and most were in shelters with a few dozen kids or in foster programs.
  26. NPR reported nearly 15,000 migrant children are now held in government custody. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the national network of more than 100 shelters are 92% full.
  27. The largest migrant youth shelter are the tent cities in Tornillo, Texas, set up in a patch of desert. The heated tents can hold up to 3,800, but will require hiring more staff.
  28. On Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified before the House Judiciary Committee over the death of Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl.
  29. Rep. Hank Johnson asked Nielsen about the girl’s death, and how many other children had died in the custody of DHS. Nielsen responded, “I’ll get back to you on that figure. I’m not going to guess under oath.”
  30. Nielsen told the committee under the Trump regime’s new “Catch and Return” policy, some migrants will return to Mexico while their immigration proceedings go forward rather than remain in the U.S.
  31. Nielsen said the new policy will apply to both asylum seekers who entered the U.S. legally at border crossings, as well as those apprehended after entering the country illegally.
  32. The incoming Democratic chairs of the House Judiciary Committee and House Homeland Security Committee told Nielsen they would be conducting further oversight when they take over the committees.
  33. On Monday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson defended his comments in Week 109, tweeting, “We spend a lot of time talking about the threat to free speech.” That day, three more sponsors dropped.
  34. Carlson doubled down on his show Monday, saying migrants make our country “poorer and dirtier.” As of Tuesday evening, more than 15 sponsors had dropped from the show.
  35. On Wednesday, Carlson’s show cut to fewer commercial breaks, as advertisers continued to flee. Contributor Alan Dershowitz appeared saying he felt “compelled” to say that he disagreed with Carlson’s comments.
  36. On Tuesday, a panel of judges in the 10th Circuit dismissed 83 ethics complaints against Brett Kavanaugh, citing he is no longer covered by the judiciary’s disciplinary process since he is on the Supreme Court.
  37. Chief justice of the 10th district Timothy Tymkovich refused to recuse himself despite claims that Kavanaugh advocated to get him his position. Tymkovich was on Trump’s short-list of candidates for the Supreme Court.
  38. On Wednesday, a federal judge again ruled against the Trump regime, blocking its new policy that bars asylum for those who cross into the country without authorization.
  39. On Monday, a pair of comprehensive reports made public by the Senate Intelligence Committee revealed Russian teams using social media platforms to influence the 2016 election, and cited efforts are ongoing.
  40. The Russian influence campaign in 2016 was run by Internet Research Agency (IRA). The reports cite an extraordinary effort to target African-Americans on social media in an effort to suppress Democratic voters.
  41. The reports indicated Instagram, owned by Facebook, generated responses on a scale beyond any of the others — with 187 million comments, likes, and other user reactions, more than Twitter and Facebook combined.
  42. The reports also cited that “pro-Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein content” were among the IRA’s go-to themes across other platforms. Throughout her campaign, Stein had called for a conciliatory approach with Russia.
  43. The reports also cited after Trump took office, Russian operatives targeted Robert Mueller, appointed in May 2017, seeking to neutralize what they saw as the biggest threat to Trump remaining in office.
  44. The NAACP called for a week-long boycott of Facebook, saying its business practices and spreading of “disingenuous portrayals of the African American community” should prompt further congressional investigation.
  45. The WAPO Editorial Board noted from the reports’ findings, “the Russia operation is staggering in its scale, precision and deceptiveness,” saying Russia’s support for Trump’s election is “no longer disputable.”
  46. On Tuesday, NYT reported according to Facebook internal documents, as the company raised a privacy wall, it also gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data.
  47. Personal data has become a prized commodity. Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the users’ friends without consent, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read users’ private messages.
  48. On Wednesday, the attorney general for the District of Columbia sued Facebook for allowing Cambridge Analytica to gain access to tens of millions users’ information without their permission.
  49. On Friday, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats delivered a report, which details Russian internet propagandists tried to influence American voters ahead of the 2018 midterms, to the White House.
  50. Coats said that “Russia, and other foreign countries, including China and Iran, conducted influence activities and messaging campaigns” to further their strategic interests here. The report is not yet publicly available.
  51. On Monday, Roger Stone settled a defamation suit brought against him by an exiled Chinese businessman seeking $100 million, admitting to publishing false and misleading statements on InfoWars.
  52. In lieu of money, the agreement requires Stone to run ads in national newspapers, including WSJ, apologizing and admitting he lied, as well as publishing a retraction of the false statements on social media.
  53. On Monday, two former business associates of Michael Flynn, Bijan Rafiekian (aka Bijan Kian) and Kamil Alptekin, were charged in a Virginia court with trying to influence U.S. politicians to extradite a Turkish cleric.
  54. In court papers, Flynn is referred to as “Person A,” although he is not charged in the case, and is instead cooperating with Mueller’s team.
  55. Kian and Alptekin, who lied about the involvement of Turkish government officials in the project, are charged with conspiracy and acting as agents of a foreign government; Alptekin is also accused of making false statements.
  56. Kian, a former official for Trump’s transition team, made a brief appearance in Virginia federal court. Alptekin, a dual Turkish-Dutch citizen living in Istanbul, remains at large.
  57. On Monday, Mueller’s office released notes of Flynn’s interview with FBI agents on January 24, 2017, ahead of his sentencing Tuesday in connection with his guilty plea.
  58. The notes show Flynn made false statements about his communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition, and also lied about his ties to Turkey.
  59. On Monday, the GOP led House Intelligence Committee again interviewed James Comey behind closed doors. Transcripts of the interview revealed Comey was asked to defend the FBI’s interview of Michael Flynn.
  60. After, Comey told reporters, “People who know better, including Republican members of this body, have to have the courage to stand up and speak the truth, not be cowed” adding “their silence is shameful.”
  61. On Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Sanders criticized Comey and the FBI, telling reporters at the White House briefing, “the FBI broke standard protocol in the way that they came in and ambushed Gen. Flynn”
  62. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted to Flynn in the morning, “Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn,” citing “tremendous pressure being put on him,” and adding of the campaign, “There was no Collusion!”
  63. On Tuesday, at an extraordinary sentencing hearing, Judge Emmet Sullivan made clear he was infuriated by Flynn’s conduct, including the suggestion by Flynn and his supporters that he had been duped by the FBI.
  64. Sullivan forced Flynn to admit publicly he knew he was lying to the FBI about conversations related to Russian sanctions, and berated the three-star general for his misdeeds, saying “arguably, you sold your country out.”
  65. Also citing Flynn’s clandestine work for the Turkish government, Sullivan asked a prosecutor with the special counsel’s office whether Flynn could be charged with “treason,” adding, “I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain.”
  66. Later, Sullivan walked back his treason questions, saying “I’m not suggesting” Flynn committed treason, adding “I was just trying to determine the benefit and the generosity of the government.”
  67. Mueller’s team said Flynn has “provided substantial assistance to the attorneys in the Eastern District of Virginia in obtaining that charging document,” relating to charges against Kian and Alptekin.
  68. Mueller’s team moved to sentence Flynn now because “the vast majority” of his cooperation was complete.Sullivan postponed sentencing for Flynn for 90 days. Flynn left the courtroom to chants of “lock him up!”
  69. On Sunday, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani told CNN that a letter of intent for Trump Tower Moscow had not been signed: “It was a real estate project. There was a letter of intent to go forward, but no one signed it.”
  70. On Tuesday, CNN obtained a signed copy of the letter of intent dated October 28, 2015 bearing Trump’s signature. The letter opened negotiations for Trump condominiums, a hotel and commercial property.
  71. On Wednesday, when asked about the signed copy, Giuliani changed his story, telling CNN, “I was wrong if I said it. I haven’t seen the quote, but I probably meant to say there was never a deal much less a signed one.”
  72. On Tuesday, the New York attorney general’s office announced the Trump Foundation has agreed to dissolve, following a court decision last month to allow the AG’s lawsuit to move forward.
  73. Attorney General Barbara Underwood accused the foundation of “a shocking pattern of illegality,” and saying it functioned “as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests.”
  74. Allen Weisselberg told state investigators of the foundation’s policies, “There’s no policy, just so you understand.” Underwood said the foundation’s remaining $1.75 million will be distributed to other charities.
  75. On Wednesday, Trump complained about his foundation being dissolved in three tweets, saying he is getting “slammed by (Gov. Andrew) Cuomo and the Dems” and that he would “never be treated fairly by these people.”
  76. Trump also attacked the former attorney general “sleazebag AG Eric Schneiderman,” saying he was “ head of New Yorkers for Clinton,” and claimed “the Trump Foundation has done great work.”
  77. A federal judge ruled in favor of BuzzFeed in a lawsuit brought by businessman Aleksej Gubarev, based in Cyprus, who said he and his companies were falsely linked in the Steele dossier to Russia hacking.
  78. Judge Ursula Ungaro ruled that BuzzFeed cannot be found liable for publishing a document that had become the subject of official government conduct, adding BuzzFeed’s article was “fair and true.”
  79. On Wednesday, Oleg Deripaska agreed to cut his stake in Russian steel giant Rusal to below 50% in exchange for the Treasury Department lifting sanctions — a move expected to be closely monitored by the Kremlin.
  80. On Wednesday, the Center for Responsive Politics reported Trump’s 2020 campaign routed money through a secret LLC, used as a shell company to illegally coordinate ad buys with the National Rifle Association.
  81. Trump’s 2020 campaign continued to use the same individuals working for the firms as and make payments through Harris Sikes Media LLC, also at the center of the 2016 campaign’s illegal coordination with the NRA.
  82. National Media, Red Eagle Media Group, and American Media & Advocacy Group — which share staff, resources, and adjacent storefronts in Alexandria, Virginia — are also facing allegations of illegal coordination.
  83. A Trump super PAC, Rebuilding America Now, which in Week 109 was being scrutinized in the Mueller probe,is also alleged to have routed payments through National Media’s affiliates in a campaign coordination scheme.
  84. On Thursday, BuzzFeed reported Russian agents sought sensitive financial information on its enemies through the U.S. Treasury, including backers of Hillary Clinton weeks before the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
  85. Officials at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) said they reported the use of the back channel to Treasury’s counterterrorism unit and security office, and requested an investigation.
  86. FinCEN officials believed the Russian agency making the requests was Rosfinmonitoring, set up by Putin in 2001 and closely tied to Russia’s espionage apparatus. The group started cultivating civil servants in 2015.
  87. On Wednesday, there was a docket entry at the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, which was sealed from public view and place in a vault, and was related to a criminal case against Michael Cohen.
  88. On Wednesday, WSJ reported testimony by Trump in 2000 as part of a regulatory investigation and in 1988for a government-integrity commission revealed he has a deep understanding of campaign-finance laws.
  89. Giuliani has argued that Trump has limited understanding of campaign-finance laws. Experts say his deep understanding could be critical if investigators ever pursue a case over directing hush money payments.
  90. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Mueller asked the House Intelligence Committee last Friday for an official transcript of Roger Stone’s testimony, a sign prosecutors could be moving to charge him with a crime.
  91. This marks the first formal request by Mueller’s team to the committee. Stone denied lying to Congress, telling WAPO, no “reasonable attorney who looks at it would conclude that I committed perjury.”
  92. The special counsel has had an unofficial copy of Stone’s testimony from September 2017 for weeks. Experts say prosecutors cannot bring charges without an original, certified copy of the transcript.
  93. On Wednesday, WSJ reported that William Barr, Trump’s nominee for attorney general, sent an unsolicited 20-page document to the DOJ criticizing aspects of the Mueller probe.
  94. The documents excoriated Mueller’s inquiry into obstruction of justice by Trump, saying it is based on a “fatally misconceived” theory that would cause lasting damage to the presidency and the executive branch.
  95. On Thursday, CNN reported acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker consulted with ethics officials at the DOJ, and has been advised that he does not need to recuse himself from the Mueller probe.
  96. A source said Whitaker has been in ongoing discussions since early November after his appointment. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is still managing the Mueller probe on a day-to-day basis.
  97. Hours later, the official who had said ethics officials had advised Whitaker did not need to recuse himselfretracted that description of events.
  98. WAPO reported a senior DOJ ethics official concluded Whitaker should recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe. Whitaker never asked DOJ ethics officials for a formal recommendation, nor did he receive one.
  99. Instead, days after being appointed, Whitaker tapped a veteran U.S. attorney to become part of a four-person team of advisers on his new job, including giving guidance on recusal from the Mueller probe.
  100. Whitaker met repeatedly with DOJ ethics officials to discuss the facts and the issues. A senior ethics official told Whitaker’s advisers on Tuesday that it was a “close call” but that Whitaker should recuse himself.
  101. Whitaker’s advisers disagreed, recommending to Whitaker on Wednesday not to recuse, saying there was no precedent. Whitaker ignored the ethic official’s advice, and had it not been leaked, it would not be public.
  102. On Friday, CNN reported Trump has lashed out at Whitaker at least twice in the past few weeks, angered that federal prosecutors referenced him in Michael Cohen’s crimes, starting just weeks into Whitaker taking the job.
  103. The first instance happened when Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow, and second when Cohen implicated Trump in the hush-money scheme.
  104. Trump did not ask Whitaker to stop the investigations, but vented at what he felt was an unfair situation. Sources say Trump believes the attorney general should serve as his personal protector, and settle his scores.
  105. On Friday, NBC News reported Mueller is nearing the end of his team’s investigation of Russian election interference, and is expected to submit a confidential report to the attorney general as early as mid-February.
  106. On Monday, in an interview with MSNBC, Sen. Bob Corker would not say if Trump should be primaried, responding “What is happening right now is not the standard Republicanism that we’ve had in our country.”
  107. On Tuesday, Politico reported Trump is planning to launch an unprecedented structure for his 2020 reelection, streamlining the Republican National Committee and his campaign into a single entity.
  108. Trump’s reelection campaign and the RNC will merge their field and fundraising programs into a joint outfit, even sharing office space. Typically reelection campaigns work in tandem with the RNC.
  109. On Wednesday, the Washington Examiner reported the South Carolina Republican Party could cancel its early 2020 primary, usually third in the presidential nominating calendar, in order to protect Trump.
  110. On Wednesday, two more Kansas Republicans, state Sen. Dinah Sykes and Rep. Stephanie Clayton, switched parties to become Democrats.
  111. On Monday, CNBC reported the stock market is on pace for its worst December since the Great Depression, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 down 7.6% and 7.8%, respectively in December.
  112. On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin downplayed Trump’s promise of a middle class tax cut ahead of the midterms, telling Bloomberg “I’m not going to comment on whether it is a real thing or not a real thing.”
  113. On Tuesday, a federal commission led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recommended rescinding Obama-era guidance meant to help reduce the racial disparity in school discipline.
  114. The commission claimed the guidance made schools reluctant to address unruly students or violent incidents, and recommended “partnering with local law enforcement in the training and arming of school personnel.”
  115. According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, the Veterans Affairs Department has spent just $57,000 of the $6.2 million available for suicide prevention outreach in fiscal year 2018 budget.
  116. The report also stated that the VA had identified suicide prevention as its highest clinical priority in 2018: an average of 20 veterans die by suicide per day.
  117. According to a report from the Center for Public Integrity, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross failed to sell $15,000 in bank shares until October 2018, after signing ethics documents saying he sold the shares in 2017.
  118. CNBC reported Robert and Rebekah Mercer have disappeared from the political donor scene this election and donated less in 2018, after their involvement with Trump had cast them into the public spotlight.
  119. The Palm Beach Post reported after a five-year legal battle over the taxable value of Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, Trump will be getting a $10.6 million tax refund for taxes he overpaid.
  120. On Wednesday, Trump abruptly announced his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, reversing his position in September 2018, shocking people in the U.S. government and around the world.
  121. WAPO reported Trump made the decision on Tuesday, after a small meeting attended only by senior White House aides and the secretaries of defense and state, most of whom, if not all, sharply disagreed with him.
  122. Senior lawmakers from both parties were not informed in advance, nor were close U.S. allies who are members of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State. Defense Secretary Mattis was informed Tuesday night.
  123. Trump canceled a scheduled meeting with Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Bob Corker in the afternoon, instead communicating via Twitter, sending a video of himself outside the Oval Office.
  124. On Wednesday, TASS reported Russia praised Trump for the withdrawal. A Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman called it a “milestone story which might evolve from this decision is a real prospect for a political solution.”
  125. AP reported Trump agreed to withdraw troops from Syria on a December 14 call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with his Turkish counterpart.
  126. Pompeo was notified of Erdogan’s threat to launch a military operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish rebels in northeast Syria, where American forces are based. He then set up the call between the two leaders.
  127. Pompeo, Mattis, and others on the national security team prepared a list of talking points for Trump to use in his phone call, in order to tell Erdogan to back off; but instead Trump ignored the script and sided with Erdogan.
  128. National security advisor John Bolton stressed on the call that victory over the Islamic State had to be enduring, but Trump was not dissuaded, and quickly capitulated by pledging to withdraw, shocking both Bolton and Erdogan.
  129. Erdogan on the call cautioned Trump over a hasty withdrawal. Over the weekend, the national security team raced to come up with a plan that would reverse, delay, or somehow limit effects of the withdrawal.
  130. In addition, officials urged Trump to at least delay the decision to withdraw, in order to give the military and Kurdish forces time to prepare. Trump was unmoved.
  131. On Thursday, Trump attacked an ally for criticizing his plan, tweeting, “So hard to believe that Lindsey Graham would be against saving soldier lives & billions of $$$…Time to focus on our Country & bring our youth” home.
  132. On Thursday, WSJ reported Trump ordered the start of a reduction of American forces in Afghanistan. More than 7,000 troops will begin to return home in the coming weeks out of 14,000 troops stationed there.
  133. The withdrawal coupled with more than 2,000 troops returning from Syria announced Wednesday, mark a dramatic shift in the U.S. approach to military engagement in the region.
  134. On Thursday, according to commentary published by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, North Korea will not denuclearize until the U.S. completely eliminates “the American nuclear threat to North Korea.”
  135. On Thursday, just after 5 p.m., Trump tweeted “General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February,” adding, “A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!”
  136. NYT reported earlier in the day Mattis went to the White House with his resignation letter already written, but made one last attempt to persuade Trump to reverse his decision on pulling out 2,000 troops from Syria.
  137. After Mattis was rebuffed by Trump, he returned to the Pentagon and asked aides to print out 50 copies of his resignation letter and distribute them around the building.
  138. Mattis is the fourth member of Trump’s cabinet to resign or be forced out since the midterm elections, and the third in the last two weeks.
  139. With the resignations of John Kelly and Mattis, the last of Trump’s old-guard national security team, policy will be left in the hands of Pompeo, the second Secretary of State, and Bolton, Trump’s third NSA.
  140. Also notably, with Mattis’ resignation, what Trump once called the array of high-ranking military officers he appointed, “my generals” — including Michael Flynn, H.R. McMaster and John Kelly — are all gone.
  141. Mattis’s resignation letter was the sharpest, and most public rebuke from inside the regime over the Trump’s foreign policy, including rejection of the alliances and partnerships, and tending towards authoritarianism.
  142. In his letter, Mattis did not offer any praise of Trump in the letter, or thank him in any way; rather saying, “I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.”
  143. Mattis wrote we must be “clear-eyed” about threats from groups such as Islamic State, saying, “We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values.”
  144. Mattis also wrote about democratic allies: “our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength ofour unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships.”
  145. And warned we must be “resolute and unambiguous in our approach” to countries like China and Russia, who “want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model.”
  146. Mattis wrote, “Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.”
  147. Mattis’ letter triggered a bipartisan chorus of concern, with Sen. Mark Warner saying “This is scary,” Sen. Chris Murphy calling it a “national security crisis,” and Sen. Ben Sasse saying it was “a sad day for America.”
  148. Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted the letter made it abundantly clear “we are headed towards a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation, damage our alliances & empower our adversaries.”
  149. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who rarely challenges Trump publicly, said in a statement: “We must also maintain a clear-eyed understanding of our friends and foes, and recognize that nations like Russia are among the latter.”
  150. McConnell also said of Trump’s next Defense Secretary, “I urge him to select a leader who shares Secretary Mattis’s understanding of these vital principles and his total commitment to America’s servicemembers.”
  151. Mattis’ departure also left the Pentagon in a state of despair, with one official describing the mood in the building as “eerie, and another official saying “the building is in shock.”
  152. On Sunday, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller told “Face the Nation” that Trump was “absolutely” willing to shut down the government if Congress does not authorize funding for his wall.
  153. On Tuesday, in an abrupt shift, press secretary Sarah Sanders backed off from the threat, telling Fox News, “At the end of the day, we don’t want to shut down the government, we want to shut down the border.”
  154. On Wednesday, the Senate approved a stopgap spending bill. Voting was pushed back to late in the day, and some senators sang Christmas carols in the chamber as they prepared to leave for the holiday break.
  155. On Thursday, Trump again abruptly changed course, informing House Republican leaders he would not sign a short-term funding bill that does not include money for his wall. Some senators flew back to Washington.
  156. Reportedly, Trump was rattled by accusations from conservatives like Rep. Mark Meadows, commentator Ann Coulter, and talk radio host Rush Limbaugh that he was caving on his promised border wall.
  157. Shortly after, Trump tweeted a video clip of him singing in a duet of the theme song to “Green Acres” from the 2006 Emmy awards, saying “Farm Bill signing in 15 minutes! #Emmys #TBT.”
  158. On Friday, in a series of nine morning tweets, Trump warned, “Shutdown today if Democrats do not vote for Border Security!” encouraging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to “use the Nuclear Option and get it done!”
  159. Shortly after, several Republican senators, including Sens. Orrin Hatch and Lamar Alexander, said that they do not support doing away with the legislative filibuster, known as the Nuclear Option.
  160. The Senate could not get the 60 votes needed to move the House bill forward. Republicans conceded that one of their biggest hurdles was Trump’s unpredictability and proclivity for abruptly changing his mind.
  161. On Friday, in an attempt to claim victory, Trump tweeted he would accept money for a “Steel Slat Barrier” with spikes on the top, which he said would be just as effective as a “wall” and “at the same time beautiful.”
  162. Trump also tweeted a photo from the Oval Office of him saying “some of the many Bills that I am signing in the Oval Office right now.” Upon closer inspection, the piece of paper he is signing in the photo is blank.
  163. On Friday evening, with Trump unwilling to drop his demand for $5 billion of funding for his wall, the House and Senate adjourned with no spending deal. The government partially shut down after midnight.
  164. This marked the third shutdown of 2018, the first time in 40 years the government has been closed three times in a year.
  165. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who this week had been the subject of Trump’s Twitter ire, told Fox News of Democrats and the shutdown, “if he doesn’t break ’em now, it’s going to be a terrible 2019. So Mr. President, dig in.”
  166. A GoFundMe campaign started by Trump supporter Brian Kolfage, a disabled Florida veteran, raised $14 million from donors as of Saturday. The goal of the campaign is to raise $5 billion to fund the wall.
  167. On Friday, the Supreme Court said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had undergone surgery to remove two malignant growths in her left lung, discovered during tests after she fractured ribs on November 7.
  168. On Friday, the Supreme Court upheld the block on Trump’s asylum ban, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the four liberal justices. NBC News reported Justice Ginsburg voted from her hospital bed.
  169. On Friday, the Dow Jones fell another 400 points, falling nearly 7% and ending its worst week since the financial crisis in 2008. A Fed rate hike, trade tensions with China, and a government shutdown weighed in.
  170. The stock market ended the final week of 2018 on the Dow Jones on brink of a bear market, and the NASDAQ down 22% from its highs. All stock market averages are now posting negative returns for 2018.
  171. On Saturday, Bloomberg reported Trump has discussed firing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, following this week’s interest-rate hike. Trump also blames Powell for the stock market losses.
  172. Advisers close to Trump are hoping his anger will dissipate, but reportedly he has repeatedly spoke of firingPowell in private conversations over the past few days.
  173. The Federal Reserve Act states governors may be “removed for cause by the President,” so it is unclear how much authority Trump would have for such an unprecedented challenge to the Fed’s independence.
  174. On Saturday, Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the global coalition fighting the Islamic State group, resigned in protest of Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw from Syria. McGurk had served in the position since 2015.
  175. On Saturday, Politico reported Trump is facing a dangerous erosion of support among Republicans, following recent moves like backing Saudis in the Khashoggi killing, and his abrupt decision to pull out of Syria.
  176. Rank-and-file Republicans are also concerned that Trump is acting recklessly and hijacking the party, catering only to his base, and making moves like the government shutdown to please hard-liners.
  177. On Saturday, Trump canceled his scheduled flight to Mar-a-Lago, but the Capitol was largely quiet, with no meetings among House and Senate leaders scheduled, and most lawmakers gone for the holidays.
  178. GOP leaders are frustrated by how quickly things unraveled in the past 48 hours. There does not appear to be any deal in sight, or plans from leaders on how to move forward ahead of the holidays.

 

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis arrives for a closed intelligence briefing at the U.S. Capitol with members of the House of Representatives December 13, 2018 in Washington, DC. Mattis and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefed House members on the death of Jamal Khashoggi. This week, Mattis resigned in a letter widely viewed as a sharp rebuke of Trump and his foreign policy.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 109: NO VISION FOR 2019

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Wynwood, Miami, Florida. 8dec18

DECEMBER 08, 2018

Week 108

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-108/

This week featured the normalcy and tranquility of the funeral of George H.W. Bush, juxtaposed with bombshells of damning information on Trump coming from the Mueller probe and other investigations. As the Mueller probe is reportedly nearing its close, Mueller’s team filed court memos relating to three of its most high profile defendants: Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, and Paul Manafort. The Southern District of New York also filed a memo on Trump Friday —including the clearest implication yet that Trump committed felonies. As the country awaits Mueller’s final report, Trump’s White House has no plans to counter it in place, but rather will reportedly wing it.

This week major stock indexes tumbled more than 4%, erasing all the year’s gains, as economic data softened, showing Trump’s trade tariffs and the growing budget deficit are slowing the economy. As Trump’s second year comes to a close, he reportedly has no vision or strategy for 2019, save for his xenophobic and racist agenda, and instead is distracted by the Mueller probe and the incoming Democratic House majority. Continued shake-up in personnel plague the regime, and many key roles remain vacant, or are filled with loyalists who are unqualified.

DCIM100GOPROG1239376.
Artist: Claudia Labianca. 3dec18. Wynwood, Miami, Florida.
  1. As votes continued to be tallied, Democrats secured the largest midterm margin in history for House races of 9.6 million votes (8.5%). The previous record was 8.7 million votes in 1974, months after Watergate.
  2. Bloomberg reported Trump and Putin did chat Friday night on the sidelines of the G20. Trump had canceled a scheduled formal meeting. Russian media had insisted the two would have an “impromptu” meeting.
  3. Press secretary Sarah Sanders defended the informal meeting in a statement, saying “As is typical at multilateral events,” Trump “had a number of informal conversations with world leaders.”
  4. On Sunday, Axios reported Alan Dershowitz is still advising Jeffrey Epstein about legal issues. Dershowitz helped Epstein get a sweetheart plea deal from then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, now Trump’s labor secretary.
  5. A bombshell story in the Miami Herald revealed dozens of women alleged Epstein molested and raped them when they were underage. Epstein has ties to Trump, Bill Clinton, Dershowitz, and other powerful men.
  6. On Monday, Sen. Ben Sasse sent three letters to senior Justice Department officials, asking them to open investigations into federal officials who handled the Epstein case, calling it an “epic miscarriage of justice.”
  7. On Tuesday, Epstein settled a suit filed by lawyer Bradley Edwards, who said Epstein had damaged his reputation, silencing women who were his alleged victims and were expected to testify.
  8. The Houston Chronicle reported Peter Sean Brown, 68, a U.S. citizen born in Philadelphia, was held for deportation to Jamaica by ICE after being processed for a probation violation over testing positive for marijuana.
  9. ICE was called in by Monroe County’s sheriff Richard Ramsey, who is being sued by the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center for unlawfully arresting and detaining a U.S. citizen.
  10. Monroe is one of more than a dozen Florida counties that in January 2018 entered a new arrangement with ICE under which sheriffs are compensated $50 for extending the detention of “criminal aliens.”
  11. The new NAFTA deal, signed at the G20 summit, watered down protections for LGBTQ individuals, taking away the wording that prevented discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  12. The Justice Department named Kerri Kupec as a senior spokesperson. Previously, Kupec worked at Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ group, designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  13. Boston Globe reported police are investigating a man who allegedly pushed over a Hanukkah menorah near Harvard University’s campus, then rode away on his bicycle, as a possible hate crime.
  14. Schindler’s List,” the epic film about the Holocaust, returned to theaters, 25 years after its initial release.
  15. Conservative pastor and commentator E.W. Jackson lamented the election of two Muslims, saying “The floor of Congress is now going to look like an Islamic republic,” adding, “The threat to humanity is Islam, period.”
  16. Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar, one of the first two Muslim women elected to serve in Congress, responded tweeting, “Well sir, the floor of Congress is going to look like America…And you’re gonna have to just deal.”
  17. On Thursday, monthly figures released by the Department of Homeland Security show the number of people arrested or denied entry along the Mexico border reached a new high in November.
  18. U.S. Customs and Border Protection detained a record 25,172 members of “family units,” and 5,283 “unaccompanied minors.” Together these make up 60% of the 62,456 arrested or denied entry, up from 60,772 in October.
  19. On Thursday, NYT reported Victorina Morales, who served as Trump’s housekeeper at his golf club in Bedminster for five years, is an undocumented immigrant, having crossed the U.S. border illegally.
  20. Morales, who is Guatemalan, say she was hurt by Trump’s equating Latin American migrants with violent criminals. She also said there are several undocumented immigrants working for Trump’s club in Bedminster.
  21. Morales said when she was interviewed for the job, she had no legal working documents. When Trump announced his candidacy in 2015, a maintenance worker helped her procure a realistic-looking green card.
  22. On Thursday, BuzzFeed reported days before migrants set out from Honduras, an imposter hijacked the Facebook account of Bartolo Fuentes, and used it to boost the caravan’s numbers.
  23. Fuentes is a well-known activist, journalist, and lawyer. The imposter used the phony account to send Facebook messages falsely claiming that established migrant groups were organizing the caravan.
  24. On Wednesday, WAPO reported according to email obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, a White House appointee at Veterans Affairs silenced a VA diversity chief in the aftermath of Charlottesville.
  25. Diversity chief Georgia Coffey, who pushed for a forceful condemnation by Trump and a statement from VA leaders (40% of VA employees are minorities), was told to stand down as part of a White House directive.
  26. WAPO reported Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie in a 1995 speech praised Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy as a “martyr to the ‘Lost Cause,’” and an “exceptional man in an exceptional age.”
  27. On Friday, self-professed neo-Nazi James Fields Jr. was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing Heather Heyer in Charlottesville during the white-supremacist “Unite the Right” rally and counter-protests.
  28. Fields will now face a federal trial on hate crimes that carries the possibility of the death penalty. There aremore trials and lawsuits to come, including one against Jason Kessler, one of the rally’s organizers.
  29. Ammon Bundy quit the militia movement in solidarity with the migrants in a video on Facebook, saying nationalism is the opposite of patriotism, and criticizing Trump for demonizing Central American migrants.
  30. On Monday, in a pair of tweets, Trump lashed out at Michael Cohen, who he said has done “TERRIBLE” things “unrelating to Trump,” has “lied for this outcome,” and should “serve a full and complete sentence.”
  31. Trump also tweeted that Cohen “makes up stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself, his wife and father-in-law (who has the money?) off Scott Free.”
  32. Merriam-Webster reported online searches for the definition or spelling of scot-free spiked 3,100 %, and mused on Twitter: “‘Scot-free’: completely free from obligation, harm, or penalty. ‘Scott Free’: some guy, probably.”
  33. Also on Monday morning, Trump tweeted praise of Roger Stone, saying “he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies” about Trump, and “nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!’”
  34. Trump also tweeted “Bob Mueller (who is a much different man than people think) and his out of control band of Angry Democrats” only want lies, adding “The truth is very bad for their mission!”
  35. Trump’s tweet was widely condemned. George Conway, husband of Kellyanne, tweeted “File under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1512,” the sections of the federal code dealing with obstruction of justice and witness tampering.
  36. On Monday, Eric Trump attacked Conway, tweeting “Of all the ugliness in politics, the utter disrespect George Conway shows,” adding Kellyanne “is great person and frankly his actions are horrible.”
  37. On Monday, NYT reported that in May 2017, Manafort discussed a deal with Ecuador’s incoming president, Lenín Moreno, to help negotiate a deal to hand over Julian Assange to the U.S., in exchange for a fat commission.
  38. Manafort also pitched himself to a range of governments facing various challenges, including Puerto Rico, Iraqi Kurdistan, and the United Arab Emirates, presenting himself as a liaison to the new Trump regime.
  39. On Monday, a federal judge said the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland could move forward with subpoenas for records from Trump’s hotels in their emoluments clause lawsuit.
  40. On Monday, Yahoo News reported Mueller’s prosecutors have told defense lawyers in recent weeks that they are “tying up loose ends” in their investigation of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  41. Mueller’s team has told Congressional investigators looking to issue new subpoenas for testimony that their investigation has reached a mature stage and they have spoken to almost everybody they want to talk to.
  42. On Monday, Roger Stone’s attorney said in a letter that he was invoking Fifth Amendment’s protection, declining to share documents and testimony requested by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  43. On Tuesday, in a heavily redacted sentencing memo filed by the special counsel, Mueller recommended that Michael Flynn serve no prison time, citing his “substantial assistance” with several ongoing investigations.
  44. Flynn has been cooperating since he was forced out as national security adviser in February 2017, including19 interviews, providing “firsthand information,” and turning over documents and communications.
  45. The memo noted Flynn’s “early cooperation was particularly valuable” given his “long-term and firsthand insight,” and his guilty plea “likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming.”
  46. The memo also noted Flynn’s “record of military and public service distinguish him from every other person who has been charged,” adding, “senior government leaders should be held to the highest standards.”
  47. An addendum to the memo identified three matters in which Flynn is cooperating: collusion with Russia, and heavily redacted sections possibly related to obstruction of justice, and an unknown “Criminal Investigation.”
  48. On Tuesday, Rudy Giuliani told NBC News that he is not concerned about Flynn, saying “If he had information to share with Mueller that hurt the president, you would know it by now,” adding, “They don’t have bupkis.”
  49. On Thursday, WSJ reported a federal grand jury in Virginia has sought more information on efforts overseen by Michael Flynn’s private company Flynn Intel Group to discredit a U.S.-based Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen.
  50. Federal prosecutors have also asked for information on several people involved in the project, including Ekim Alptekin, the Turkish businessman who financed it. Alptekin claims the Turkish government is not involved.
  51. On Monday, in a rare lame-duck session, Wisconsin Republicans moved ahead with a bill to move the 2020 presidential primary date, costing the state millions, to benefit a conservative state Supreme Court justice.
  52. With an incoming Democratic governor, the proposal would also shift power to the GOP-controlled legislature. Protestors banged on the Capitol doors and chanted “Respect our votes!” and “Shame!”
  53. A spokesperson for the Democratic Governors Association called the GOP “banana republic dictators,” and said they are ignoring the will of the people. A top GOP legislator said they “don’t trust” the incoming governor.
  54. In Michigan, where Democrats won governor, attorney general, and secretary of state, GOP lawmakers introduced measures that would water down authority on campaign finance oversight and other legal matters.
  55. On Tuesday, the Wisconsin senate approved 81 of outgoing GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s appointees for membership on boards, authorities, and councils. Walker also appointed a judge and two district attorneys.
  56. On Wednesday, Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature passed legislation which consolidates power in the GOP-led legislature at the expense of the incoming governor and attorney general, both Democrats.
  57. Among other things, the legislation erodes the ability of the governor to enact laws, and requires the legislature to approve whether the state can pull out of a federal lawsuit, like repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
  58. Hours later, Republicans who control Michigan’s legislature striped campaign-finance oversight power from the incoming secretary of state, and moved to give the GOP-led legislature additional powers.
  59. On Monday, the Charlotte Observer reported Leslie McCrae Dowless, who worked for Republican Mark Harris’ campaign in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, is at the center of a voter fraud investigation.
  60. Dowless has a criminal record, including felony fraud. The election board subpoenaed Harris’ campaign Monday, and has collected information that high-level campaign officials may have been aware of Dowless’ activities.
  61. The probe is focused in on irregularities in mail-in balloting, mostly from Bladen County, where an unusually high percentage of Black (36%) and Native American (55%) ballots were not returned, versus whites (18%).
  62. On Tuesday, a North Carolina woman admitted to “harvesting” ballots for Harris. She was paid $75 to $100 a week and gave the ballots to Dowless. It is illegal in North Carolina for a third party to turn in absentee ballots.
  63. On Thursday, Democrat Dan McCready, who conceded the day after the election, withdrew his concession. Harris said Friday he would back a new election if potential fraud altered the election result.
  64. The Charlotte Observer called for a new election. However, after past unsubstantiated accusations of voter fraud by Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Kris Kobach, and others, national Republicans were silent.
  65. HuffPost reported incoming House Oversight Committee chair Rep. Elijah Cummings wants to call Brian Kemp to testify before Congress about allegations of voter suppression to help his campaign.
  66. An analysis by Forbes revealed that Trump shifted $1.1 million of campaign-donor money donors meant for his 2020 re-election into his business by continuing to charge his campaign for hotels, food, and rent.
  67. Politico reported email accounts of four senior aides at the National Republican Congressional Committee were surveilled for several months. The intrusion was detected in April 2018 and reported to the FBI.
  68. Senior Republicans were not informed about the hack. NRCC officials said they were conducting their own investigation and feared that revealing the hack would compromise efforts to find the culprit.
  69. On Monday, in a memo published to the FCC website, chair Ajit Pai admitted “half-million comments” on net neutrality were “submitted from Russian e-mail addresses.” Pai had earlier denied Russian involvement.
  70. The memo also indicated that over half of the almost 22 million comments came from phony, temporary, or duplicate email addresses, and reportedly only 17.4% of the comments were unique.
  71. Pai also rejected two Freedom of Information Act requests filed by NYT and BuzzFeed, seeking “IP addresses” and “server logs,” respectively, associated with public comments submitted on net neutrality.
  72. On Tuesday, more than 400 former Justice Department officials and attorneys serving both parties said in a letter they are “disturbed” by Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.
  73. On Tuesday, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee expressed concern in a letter to DOJ officials about Whitaker’s financial disclosure forms, which were only recently certified as true by ethics officials.
  74. Whitaker also has not confirmed whether he has initiated an ethics review of possible conflicts, now four weeks after his appointment. The DOJ declined to discuss recusal issues.
  75. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Mattis approved an extension of active duty troops at the U.S.-Mexico border through January 31. The Pentagon estimated the cost of the deployment through December 15 is $72 million.
  76. On Tuesday, WAPO reported that under acting director Mick Mulvaney, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s publicly announced enforcement actions by the bureau have dropped about 75% from recent years.
  77. In the past year, at least 129 employees have left. Mulvaney appointed staffers with no relevant experience, who previously worked for the financial sector or against the bureau, and paid salaries of up to $259,500.
  78. On Thursday, the Senate voted 50-49, along party lines to confirm Trump nominee Kathleen Kraninger to lead the CFPB. Kraninger has no relevant experience, and is expected to continue a business friendly approach.
  79. Trade group Consumer Bankers Association, whose members include Bank of America and Wells Fargo, celebrated Kraninger’s confirmation, as she becomes one of the country’s most powerful banking regulators.
  80. On Monday, Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, called for the end of Obama-era subsidies for electric vehicle purchases, which were created by Congress, without specifying how he would do so.
  81. On Wednesday, nations assembled in Poland for climate talks. Reports show global carbon emissions reached a record in 2018, an estimated growth of 2.7%.
  82. The biggest growth in emissions came from India (6%), China (5%), and the U.S. (2.5%), while dropping in the European Union (-0.7%). The United Nations Secretary General said, “We are in deep trouble.”
  83. On Thursday, Trump’s EPA proposed rolling back a major Obama-era climate rule, loosening restrictions on future coal power plants. Coal advocates cheered, although the industry has not been adding capacity.
  84. On Thursday, the Trump regime said it would roll back Obama-era protections of the habitat of the endangered sage grouse bird, in a move to free up nine million acres of land for oil and gas drilling.
  85. On Sunday, Trump bragged of reaching a trade truce with China at the G20 summit, claiming China will “immediately” begin buying more American agricultural products and drop its 40% tariffs on American cars.
  86. Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer and daughter of the founder of the Chinese tech giant Huawei, was arrested in Canada and extradited to the U.S. to stand trial for violating sanctions against Iraq.
  87. On Tuesday, amid President Xi’s silence on a supposed deal, Trump tweeted “I am a Tariff Man,” saying he was prepared to impose higher levies if Xi did not live up to the agreement Trump claims they reached.
  88. In a break from the usual protocol for top-level trade talks, the U.S. and China did not release a joint statement on the talk that took place Saturday, instead issuing two very different readouts of what occurred.
  89. On Tuesday, the Dow tumbled more than 800 points and bond yields plummeted on investors’ doubts over the U.S.-China trade truce.
  90. On Tuesday evening, Trump tweeted, “we are either going to have a REAL DEAL with China, or no deal at all,” claiming we will reach a deal “either now or into the future,” adding, “China does not want Tariffs!”
  91. On Wednesday, while the markets were closed for the funeral of George H.W. Bush, Trump tried to assure markets, tweeting, “Not to sound naive or anything, but I believe President Xi meant every word of what he said.”
  92. On Wednesday, during the funeral for George H.W. Bush, observers noted a feeling of nostalgia for a bygone era of mutual respect and admiration of leaders pre-Trump. At the request of the Bush family, Trump was invited.
  93. The scene was palpably awkward as Trump and Melania sat next to former presidents and first ladies, including Obama, whom he called illegitimate, Hillary whom he said should be in prison, and Bill, whom he said assaulted women.
  94. Trump sat with his arms crossed, and did not recite the Apostles’ Creed or sing hymns. NYT reported Trump was miffed by so many ceremonial events not related to him, but proud of himself for remaining civil.
  95. On Wednesday, Daily Beast reported that when aides and advisors tried to get Trump to tackle the growing budget deficit in April 2017, which was projected to continue to grow, he said, “Yeah, but I won’t be here.”
  96. On Wednesday, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said she will keep an “open mind” about closing an Ohio plant, acknowledging the anger publicly expressed by Trump and the Ohio’s two U.S. senators.
  97. On Thursday, the Commerce Department announced the U.S. trade deficit hit a 10-year high, increasing 1.7% to $55.5 billion, the highest level since October 2008.
  98. On Thursday, the stock market plummeted again on fears over U.S.-China trade relations at a global economic slowdown, down again by 780 before rebounding to close the day slightly lower.
  99. On Friday, the Dow tumbled again, losing more than 500 points, and wiping out all gains for the year, amid a weaker-than-expected jobs report and China-U.S. trade tensions.
  100. On Tuesday, CIA director Gina Haspel briefed a group of Senate leaders on the agency’s conclusions on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Senators from both parties said it was clear that the Saudi crown prince was behind it.
  101. Leading Democrats called for a full Senate briefing by Haspel. It was unclear what, if any, actions the Senate would take. In Week 107, Mike Pompeo and Mattis had echoed Trump’s reluctance to blame the crown prince.
  102. On Wednesday, WAPO reported within months of the 2016 election, Saudi-funded lobbyists booked 500 rooms at Trump Hotel DC, spending more than $270,000 to house six groups of visiting veterans.
  103. On Wednesday, Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stood by his commitment to not vote to advance Trump’s judicial nominees until the bill to protect Mueller gets a vote.
  104. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee said in January they plan to refer transcripts to Mueller’s team of interviews with Kushner, Donald Jr., Stone, Corey Lewandowski, Rhona Graff, Hope Hicks, and Keith Schiller — to be reviewed for possible falsehoods.
  105. On Wednesday, Daily Beast reported on a target letter sent to Paul Erickson, a longtime Republican operative who was Maria Butina’s boyfriend, from federal investigators saying they may bring charges.
  106. The letter sent in September by the U.S. attorney’s officer in Washington, says investigators are considering charging him under Section 951, the law barring people from secretly acting as agents of foreign governments.
  107. On Thursday, Mother Jones reported the Trump campaign and the National Rifle Association used intertwined consultants to spearhead TV ad buys at the height of the 2016 election.
  108. Both the NRA’s and the Trump campaign’s ad buys were authorized by the same person: National Media’s chief financial officer Jon Ferrell. Experts say the arrangement appears to violate campaign finance laws.
  109. On Thursday, CNN reported prosecutors and defense attorneys for Maria Butina, may be near a plea deal. The judge canceled an upcoming hearing and said subpoenas planned for American University may be withdrawn.
  110. On Thursday, Trump cited his 50% approval at Rasmussen, and blamed Mueller for it not being higher, tweeting “Without the phony Russia Witch Hunt” it would be at 75%, adding, “It’s called Presidential Harassment!”
  111. On Thursday, the Atlantic reported Trump’s White House has no plan for how to counter the Mueller report. Instead the regime is winging it, with no strategy in place for responding, other than an expected Twitter spree.
  112. Aides say Trump would likely ignore a plan anyway, so crafting one is futile. Former officials also noted the difficulty in coming up with a strategy when Trump has not been forthright about what happened.
  113. On Thursday, CNN reported in the days after Trump fired Comey, then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe opened an obstruction of justice investigation before special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed.
  114. McCabe and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein viewed Trump as a leader who needed to be reigned in. An obstruction probe was previously considered, but did not start until Trump fired Comey on May 9, 2017.
  115. The probe included the Comey firing, and the Oval Office conversation where Trump asked Comey to drop the investigation of Flynn. Sources say the FBI would only open an investigation if a crime was suspected.
  116. On Thursday, shortly before 10 p.m., CNN’s New York offices received a phoned-in bomb threat, indicating there were five bombs in the building.
  117. The NYPD said they responded to a call from CNN reporting the threat at 10:08 p.m. The building was evacuated and shortly after, the show was broadcast from the street. Employees returned shortly before midnight.
  118. On Thursday, Trump tweeted “FAKE NEWS — THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!” at 10:08 p.m.
  119. On Thursday, the Guardian reported that Mueller’s team has interviewed Trump’s adviser in London, Ted Malloch, about his frequent appearances on RT, considered by U.S. intelligence to be Russian propaganda.
  120. Malloch was contacted by Jerome Corsi on August 2, 2016 at Stone’s behest, to visit Assange and get an update on email releases. On that day, Assange appeared on RT and said he would release additional emails.
  121. On Friday, in a series of seven angry morning tweets, Trump attacked Mueller and his team, accusing them of conflicts of interest saying, “Robert Mueller and Leakin’ Lyin’ James Comey are Best Friends.”
  122. Trump also claimed prosecutors have “wrongly destroyed people’s lives,” citing “Andrew Weissman’s horrible and vicious prosecutorial past,” and the woman prosecutor whose name he could not remember in Corsi’s case.
  123. Trump also mentioned Rosenstein, who he said is conflicted, along with “Bruce Ohr (and his lovely wife Molly), Comey, Brennan, Clapper, & all of the many fired people of the FBI.”
  124. Trump also responded to the Atlantic story, tweeting “We will be doing a major Counter Report to the Mueller Report,” adding “This should never again be allowed to happen to a future President.”
  125. On Friday, Comey testified behind closed door to the House Intelligence Committee. An exasperated Comey told reporters he had been aggressively questioned about the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
  126. Comey had fought the congressional subpoena in court, pushing for a public hearing. Republicans, who will have a House majority for just two more weeks, will call Comey back on December 17.
  127. Politico reported amid slow-motion staff shake-ups, the regime is in a holding pattern: Trump has offered almost nothing in the way of a legislative vision for 2019 beyond border security and a new trade deal.
  128. Of the 706 key roles in the executive branch which require Senate confirmation, just 382 (54%) have a confirmed nominee, while 125 (18%) positions have not had a nominee named yet.
  129. On Thursday, in his first speech since being fired as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson said Trump directed him to do things that were illegal, and that he learned of his firing through Trump’s tweet congratulating Pompeo.
  130. On Friday, Trump responded, tweeting “Pompeo is doing a great job,” but Tillerson “didn’t have the mental capacity needed,” and was “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell,” adding, “I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough.”
  131. On Friday, CNN reported chief of staff John Kelly is expected to resign in the coming days. Although in the summer, Trump had asked Kelly to stay on for two more years, the two are no longer on speaking terms.
  132. On Friday, CNN reported Mueller’s team has questioned Kelly on his recollection of an episode that took place after new reporting emerged that Trump had tried to fire Mueller.
  133. On Friday, Trump appointed former Fox News anchor Heather Nauert as U.S. ambassador to the UN. Nauert had little experience in government or foreign policy before joining the State Department in April 2017.
  134. As the State Department spokesperson, Nauert has made missteps, including citing D-Day as the height of U.S.-German relations. At Fox News, she spread conspiracy theories and shared xenophobic storylines.
  135. On Friday, also via Twitter, Trump announced the nomination of William Barr, who served as attorney general for the George H.W. Bush administration from 1991 to 1993, to become his attorney general.
  136. Barr supports a strong vision of executive powers. He also has criticized aspects of the Russia investigation, saying Mueller hired too many prosecutors who had donated to Democratic campaigns.
  137. Barr also has defended Trump calling for a new criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton, saying he saw more basis for investigating Uranium One than the alleged conspiracy between Trump’s associates and Russia.
  138. On Saturday, Trump said Kelly will leave the White House by the end of the year. While Nick Ayers is the leading candidate to become chief of staff, the replacement for Kelly is still unclear.
  139. On Friday, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found overall 54% of Americans believe the Mueller probe is fair, versus 33% who say it is a “witch hunt,” and 13% are unsure.
  140. Only Republicans were against Mueller, with 17% saying the probe is fair and 77% a witch hunt. Democrats (82%) and Independents (55%) said the probe was fair, versus a witch hunt (10% and 30%).
  141. On Friday, Giuliani told CNN that Mueller’s team believes Manafort is lying to them about Trump, although he said he was not sure the information would show up in the special counsel’s filing today.
  142. On Friday, the Southern District of New York and special counsel Robert Mueller filed new, separate court papers ahead of next Wednesday’s sentencing of Cohen.
  143. The documents portrayed Cohen as a criminal who deserves little sympathy or mercy, and who lied and held back information from the FBI. The document said he should be sentenced to “substantial” prison time.
  144. The documents said “Cohen successfully convinced numerous major corporations to retain him as a ‘consultant’” by promising access to to the Trump regime, and profited by “more than $4 million dollars.”
  145. The SDNY memo said “While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows.”
  146. The SDNY memo said “Individual 1” (Trump) was directly involved in efforts to buy the silence two women, intended to influence the campaign, and thereby constituted violations of campaign finance law, a felony.
  147. Mueller’s memo revealed a previously unknown November 2015 contact between Cohen and a “trusted person” in the Russian Federation offering the campaign “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level.”
  148. Mueller’s memo described planning a meeting between Trump and Putin, and that Cohen discussed this with Trump prior to suggesting it in a September 2015 radio interview, as Putin was about to visit New York City.
  149. Mueller’s memo also cited Cohen’s lies to Congress “obscured the fact that the Moscow Project was a lucrative business opportunity that sought, and likely required, the assistance of the Russian government.”
  150. Mueller’s memo said if completed, the Trump Organization could have received “hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues,” and discussions continued during the campaign.
  151. Mueller’s memo said Cohen also provided “relevant information” about contacts with people connected to the White House between 2017 and 2018, the first indication of his involvement with post-election matters.
  152. On Friday, in a heavily redacted document, Mueller’s team said Manafort lied about five major issues after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors, including his “contact with administration officials.”
  153. The document also revealed that despite Manafort saying he had no contacts with the Trump administration post-inauguration, he was in contact with officials in early 2018, even after being indicted in late 2017.
  154. The document also cited evidence of undisclosed electronic communications with Konstanin Kilimnik, who Mueller has said has ties to a Russian military intelligence unit, as well as travel records and meetings.
  155. The filing said Manafort has met with Mueller’s team 12 times, and at four of those meetings, prosecutors from outside the special counsel’s office attended. He also testified twice before a Mueller grand jury.
  156. The special counsel also said Manafort of lied about a $125,000 wire transfer, and lied in connection with an investigation separate from the Mueller probe. Manafort will be sentenced in March.
  157. Shortly after the documents were released, Trump tweeted, “Totally clears the president. Thank you!” Sarah Sanders added the Cohen filings “tell us nothing of value that wasn’t already known.”
  158. On Saturday, Trump tweeted “AFTER TWO YEARS AND MILLIONS OF PAGES OF DOCUMENTS (and a cost of over $30,000,000), NO COLLUSION!”
  159. Later that morning, Trump quoted Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera, tweeting, “This is collusion illusion, there is no smoking gun here…after millions have been spent, we have no Russian Collusion.”
  160. Trump also tweeted, “Time for the Witch Hunt to END!”
  161. On Friday, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision denied the Trump regime’s request to enforce a ban on asylum for any immigrants who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
  162. The panel said the regime’s ban is inconsistent with an existing U.S. law: “Just as we may not, as we are often reminded, ‘legislate from the bench,’ neither may the Executive legislate from the Oval Office.”
  163. On Saturday, the fourth weekend of anti-government protests turned violent in Paris, as police cracked down on thousands of “Yellow Vests” protesting a planned increase in a fuel tax and Macron’s economic policies.
  164. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, erroneously blaming the riots on the climate change agreement, saying “People do not want to pay large sums of money… in order to maybe protect the environment.”
  165. Trump later tweeted, “Maybe it’s time to end the ridiculous and extremely expensive Paris Agreement,” falsely claiming the U.S. was “the only major country where emissions went down last year!
  166. The State Department told a senate subcommittee China has “indefinitely detained” at least 800,000 Muslim minorities in internment camps, forcing them to renounce Islam and embrace the Chinese communist party.
  167. NYT reported Denmark’s immigration minister announced that roughly 100 unwanted migrants who have been convicted of crimes but cannot be returned to their homeland will be housed on a tiny, hard-to-reach island.
  168. Like much of Europe, Denmark has had a surge in migration in 2015 and 2016, prompting a populist, nativist backlash. Advocates say they are monitoring for possible violations of Denmark’s international obligations.
  169. Trump’s Department of Agriculture finalized the rollback of the school lunch regulations championed by former first lady Michelle Obama. The program was designed to provide healthier foods for 30 million children.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 108: TRUMP TOWER MOSCOW

DCIM100GOPROG0519732.
I’m in Miami this week and the sidewalks are talking. 29nov18. Wynwood, Miami, FL.

DECEMBER 01, 2018

Week 107

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-107/

This week started with escalations, both between Russia and Ukraine, and at the U.S.-Mexico border. Heartbreaking images and video surfaced from Tijuana of migrants from Central America, including women and children, some in diapers, being showered with tear gas from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. As Trump and the regime sought to justify the use of force, and Republicans remained almost universally silent, others condemned the action, including the Auschwitz Museum which invoked the uprise of Hitler. This, as data and reporting continues to point to a dangerous uptick in right-wing violence and acts of, and normalization of, hate.

This week the Mueller probe was center stage, as Trump stepped up his attacks to discredit Mueller ahead of the findings being released. The week started with focus on Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone as possible conduits between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. Until a bombshell Thursday, when Michael Cohen outlined in a plea agreement how he misled Congress about negotiating on the Trump Tower Moscow. Cohen said negotiations continued until June 2016, and that Trump and his children were also in the loop. Cohen’s documents made clear that other members of the regime, including Donald Jr., may have lied to Congress, and also called into question Trump’s written answers in the Mueller probe, submitted under oath in recent days, on his and his campaign’s contact with Russians.

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Mural by Jersey-based artist Jay Mack Muzik https://www.instagram.com/jaymackmuzik/ in Wynwood, Miami, Florida. 29nov18.
  1. WAPO reported right-wing violence is on the rise. Terrorism researchers say the trend started with white anxiety about Obama’s presidency, and has accelerated in the era of Trump.
  2. From 2010 through 2017, 92 of the 263 incidents of domestic terrorism were committed by right-wing attackers. Researchers say at least 20 people have died so far in 2018 in suspected right-wing attacks.
  3. On Saturday, The Guardian reported the British Parliament used its legal powers to seize internal Facebook documents, including confidential emails between senior executives, and with CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  4. The move is unprecedented. The documents allegedly contain significant revelations about Facebook decisions on data and privacy controls that led to Cambridge Analytica being able to collect user data.
  5. On Sunday, the Independent reported the U.K. High Court will rule as early as Christmas whether Brexit should be declared “void,” citing a legal case by the criminal investigation into Leave funder Arron Banks.
  6. The superintendent of the Baraboo School District told parents the district is “not in a position to punish” students who made an apparent Nazi salute in a prom photo, saying “we cannot know the intentions in the hearts.”
  7. The 10-day investigation involved local authorities, parents, and others. The letter states, “because of students’ First Amendment rights, the district is not in a position to punish the students for their actions.”
  8. Police in Alabama fatally shot Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., a 21 year-old Black man who formerly served in the U.S. Army, at a Birmingham mall, after they mistook him for the gunman in a mall shooting.
  9. On Monday, a day before the run-off race for senator in Mississippi, two nooses were found hanging from trees, along with six “hate signs” at the state Capitol in Jackson.
  10. Dallas Morning News reported Ro Lockett, a 28 year-old Black man shopping with a friend and their sons, was handcuffed outside a Stonebriar Centre store after being falsely accused of shoplifting.
  11. WAPO reported an autopsy of Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, a transgender asylum seeker, who died in ICE custody weeks after arriving in the U.S. from Honduras, revealed she was beaten while in custody.
  12. Hernandez was part of a group of migrants that arrived in early May as she tried to escape violence she faced as a transgender woman. Transgender Law Center, on behalf of her family, plans to file a lawsuit.
  13. On Wednesday, AP reported the Trump regime has waived FBI checks on 2,100 caregivers and short-staffing mental health workers, putting the safety of 2,300 migrant teens living in tent cities at risk.
  14. Initially, the Department of Health and Human Services had planned to keep migrant children in the tent city in Tornillo for just a few days, but as the migrant children population ballooned, now talk is of making the detention camp 10 times as big.
  15. BCFS, a San Antonio nonprofit, runs Tornillo. The cost per night per child is $1,200, significantly higher than the $775 officials have publicly disclosed, and almost five times the cost of a typical youth migrant shelter.
  16. On Wednesday, Elizabeth Midlarsky, a Jewish professor and Holocaust scholar at Columbia Teachers College,found two spray-painted red swastikas, and the word “YID” scrawled on a wall outside her office.
  17. On Thursday, Sen. Tim Scott, the sole black GOP senator, gave the deciding opposition vote to Trump nominee Thomas Farr to the federal bench, citing Farr’s support of racially discriminatory election policies.
  18. In the New York Review of Books, Columbia professor Bernard Harcourt argued Trump is fueling a toxic blendof antebellum white supremacy, twentieth-century fascism, and European far-right movements of the 1970s.
  19. Harcourt warned Trump has enabled an upsurge of white nationalists and extremist organizations like Atomwaffen, Proud Boys, and Rise Above Movement, that threatens to push the country into violent social conflict.
  20. Two New York University researchers found that Trump in 2016 appealed to men who are secretly insecure about their manhood, calling it the “fragile masculinity hypothesis.” The same pattern continued in 2018 House races.
  21. The study measured search terms, like “erectile dysfunction,” “penis size, and “hair loss.” Fragile masculinity was not a factor for Republicans Mitt Romney in 2012, John McCain in 2008, or House races in 2014 and 2016.
  22. On Sunday, Trump congratulated himself on falling oil prices, tweeting, “So great that oil prices are falling (thank you President T).” Trump also issued a warning to the Fed, “Inflation down (are you listening Fed)!”
  23. On Sunday, a judge denied George Papadopoulos’ request to delay the start of his prison time, saying he must report to a federal prison camp in Oxford, Wisconsin to begin his 14-day sentence on Monday.
  24. On Sunday, attorney Alan Dershowitz told “ABC This Week” the Mueller report is going to be “devastating” to Trump. Dershowitz added that he knows that Trump’s “team is already working on a response to the report.”
  25. On Sunday, Russia opened fire on and seized three Ukrainian ships that were sailing off the coast of Crimea. Ukraine said it was a Russian “act of aggression.” Moscow said the ships had illegally entered its waters.
  26. On Sunday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection fired tear gas into Mexico to repel Central American migrants approaching the border. Traffic in both directions was suspended at the port between San Diego and Tijuana.
  27. Tensions had been rising as thousands of migrants arrived in Tijuana, and camped outside a sports stadium.Mexican police broke up the migrants’ daily protests on Sunday, triggering a rush toward the U.S. border.
  28. CBP was backed by U.S. military police, San Diego police, and the California Highway Patrol. Migrants, many with young children who were sick and hungry, were trapped between U.S. and Mexican forces.
  29. Hundreds of mostly Honduran migrants were subjected to a volley of canisters of tear gas. Photos and videos emerged of young children, some in diapers, suffering from exposure to tear gas.
  30. An AP reporter noted “Children screamed and coughed. Fumes were carried by the wind toward people who were hundreds of feet away.” A mother trying to run with her baby, said the gas “asphyxiates you more.”
  31. Mexico’s Interior Department said about 500 people attempted to rush the border. U.S. authorities put the number at 1,000. Mexico said it would deport 98 of the migrants.
  32. On Monday, Trump tweeted “Would be very SMART if Mexico would stop the Caravans long before they get to our Southern Border,” adding, “We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!”
  33. On Monday, when asked by reporters if he was comfortable with tear-gassing children at the border, Trump responded “They had to use [it] because they were being rushed by some very tough people.”
  34. Trump also said there was “tremendous violence” during the confrontation with authorities,” adding “three Border Patrol people yesterday were very badly hurt through getting hit with rocks and stones.”
  35. A statement by CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan on Monday contradicted Trump, saying four agents were struck by rocks “but were wearing protective gear and did not suffer serious injuries.”
  36. Trump also falsely claimed “Obama had a separation policy; we all had the same policy. I tried to do it differently.” Obama did not have a separation policy, but Trump officially did with his “zero tolerance” policy.
  37. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement some migrants “sought to harm CBP personnel,” and some “women and children in the caravan are being used by the organizers as human shields.”
  38. On Monday, the Auschwitz Museum tweeted the Holocaust did not start with gas chambers, it “gradually developed from words, stereotypes & prejudice through legal exclusion, dehumanisation & escalating violence.”
  39. On Tuesday, WAPO reported the tear gas used on migrants, commonly known as CS gas, is considered a chemical weapon, and has been outlawed on the battlefield by nearly every nation, including the U.S.
  40. According to a biological and chemical weapons expert, research has noted that an infant exposed to CS gas develops severe pneumonitis and requires a month of hospitalization. Effects are not yet well documented.
  41. On Monday, in two tweets, Trump complained about CNN’s coverage and suggested that the U.S. government start its own worldwide television network in order to “show the World the way we really are, GREAT!”
  42. The Daily Beast reported according to emails obtained by the Sierra Club through the Freedom of Information Act, then EPA Chief Scott Pruitt chose topics for interviews on “Fox & Friends,” and knew questions in advance.
  43. In response to the reporting, Fox said it is disciplining employees involved in the email exchange with an aide to Pruitt. Fox would not say who was being disciplined or how, noting that it was a personnel matter.
  44. Sinclair Broadcasting distributed a two-minute commentary to its 200 local television stations featuring former Trump White House official Boris Epshteyn defending the use of tear gas on migrants at the border.
  45. Echoing language used by Trump, Epshteyn said, “The fact of the matter is that this is an attempted invasion of our country.” As of Wednesday morning, the segment had aired on at least two dozen Sinclair stations.
  46. Later Wednesday, Sinclair tried to distance itself from Epshteyn, tweeting, “The opinions expressed in this segment do not reflect the views of Sinclair Broadcast,” and “they are labeled clearly as commentary.”
  47. Author Margaret Atwood announced she will write a sequel to her landmark book “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which is also a popular TV-series. “The Testaments,” set 15 years later, will be released September 2019.
  48. Atwood tweeted, “Dear Readers, everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.
  49. Christine Blasey Ford, who has received continued death threats, moved houses four times, and hired private security since testifying, said she would donate remaining GoFundMe money to sexual assault survivors.
  50. Blasey Ford, who has not been able to return to work, said of testifying, “Although coming forward was terrifying, and caused disruption to our lives, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to fulfill my civic duty.”
  51. On Monday, Solicitor General Noel Francisco urged the Supreme Court to turn down cases on whether Trump had legally installed Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, saying the lower courts should weigh in first.
  52. On Monday, ABC News reported Jared Kushner was behind the push to inflate the Saudi arms deal to $110 billion, well over the actual number which is closer to $15 billion, to solidify the new alliance with crown prince MBS.
  53. On Tuesday, national security adviser John Bolton defended his decision to not listen to tape of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, telling reporter, “I don’t speak Arabic,” and adding “What do you think I’ll learn from it?”
  54. On Tuesday, The Guardian reported that the White House is preventing CIA director Gina Haspel from briefing the Senate on Jamal Khashoggi’s death.
  55. Instead, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis will brief the Senate on U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, ahead of a vote on whether to support the Saudi’s military campaign in Yemen.
  56. On Monday, Trump attacked the Mueller probe in two tweets, saying, “When Mueller does his final report, will he be covering all of his conflicts of interest in a preamble.” There is no evidence of conflicts of interest.
  57. Trump also tweeted, “many campaign workers, people inside from the beginning, ask me why they have not been called (they want to be),” adding “there was NO Collusion & Mueller knows it!”
  58. On Monday, Jerome Corsi told CNN he is refusing to sign a plea deal with Mueller’s team, saying “They can put me in prison the rest of my life. I am not going to sign a lie.”
  59. In a statement following Corsi’s comments, Roger Stone said the special counsel was harassing Corsi “not for lying, but for refusing to lie,” and continued to maintain his own innocence.
  60. On Monday, the special counsel said in a filing that Paul Manafort had breached the plea agreement he signedtwo months ago by repeatedly lying, saying he should be sentenced immediately.
  61. The filing notes Manafort’s “crimes and lies” about “a variety of subject matters” relieve the special counsel of all promises they made to him in the plea agreement. Defense lawyers disagreed Manafort had violated the deal.
  62. On Tuesday, The Guardian reported Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2013, 2015, and in March 2016. Manafort joined the Trump campaign on March 29, 2016.
  63. An internal document by Ecuador’s intelligence agency described Manafort as “one of several well-known guests. It also mentions “Russians.” In a statement, Manafort denied meeting Assange.
  64. On Tuesday, Trump again attacked Mueller in two morning tweets, saying the probe is a “Phony Witch Hunt” and that “Mueller and his gang of Angry Dems are only looking at one side, not the other.”
  65. Later Tuesday, Trump tweeted “at least 3 major players are intimating that the Angry Mueller Gang of Dems is viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts & they will get relief,” adding, “This is our Joseph McCarthy Era!”
  66. On Tuesday, NYT reported that Kevin Downing, a lawyer for Manafort, repeatedly briefed Trump’s lawyers on discussions with Mueller’s team after Manafort agreed to cooperate — a highly unusual arrangement.
  67. Rudy Giuliani defended the briefings, telling NYT they provided valuable insights about the probe and where it was headed, adding the information could help shape a legal defense strategy and public relations campaign.
  68. The briefings did not break the law, but did contribute to a deteriorating relationship between lawyers for Manafort and Mueller’s team. Downing assured Trump’s team that Manafort had not implicated him in wrongdoing.
  69. Last year, John Dowd broached the idea of pardoning Manafort and Michael Flynn. When asked by reporters Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Sanders said she had no knowledge of any conversations about a pardon for Manafort.
  70. NBC News reported according to legal experts the arrangement could amount to obstruction of justice or witness tampering if Manafort disclosed confidential information or Trump’s team discussed a pardon.
  71. On Tuesday, Corsi provided WAPO with a copy of a draft document of his statement of offense prepared by Mueller’s team as part of the plea deal, detailing ties between WikiLeaks and key associates in Trump’s orbit.
  72. According to the document, Corsi emailed Stone in early August 2016 about WikiLeaks’ plans. Nearly 10 weeks later the group published John Podesta’s hacked emails in October.
  73. Also in the document, Stone wrote to Corsi on July 25, 2016, urging him to find out Assange’s plans: “Get to [Assange] [a]t Ecuadorian Embassy in London and get the pending [WikiLeaks] emails.”
  74. Giuliani said Trump does not recall speaking to either Stone or Corsi about WikiLeaks, and that Trump’s legal team lodged a complaint last month with the DOJ about the Corsi document including Trump’s name.
  75. In the document, Mueller offered to let Corsi plead guilty to a single felony count of lying to federal investigators. Corsi rejected the deal. Giuliani said Mueller overplayed his hand: “They’ve screwed it up.”
  76. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted about the Mueller probe, saying “Wait until it comes out how horribly & viciously they are treating people, ruining lives for them refusing to lie. Mueller is a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue….”
  77. On Wednesday, CNN reported in Trump’s written answers to Mueller’s questions, he claimed Stone did not tell him about WikiLeaks, and that he was not told about the June 9 Trump Tower meeting involving Donald Jr.
  78. Both inquiries are central in the probe of whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump’s written answers could be subject to criminal charges if they are found to be false.
  79. On Wednesday, Trump told the New York Post that he never discussed a pardon with Manafort, adding “but I wouldn’t take it off the table. Why would I take it off the table?”
  80. Trump also ripped the Mueller probe, claiming Manafort, Stone, and Corsi were all asked to lie by the special counsel, saying “If you told the truth, you go to jail.” Trump also repeated his charge, “this is McCarthyism.”
  81. On Wednesday, WSJ reported that Manafort allegedly lied to Mueller’s team about his personal business dealings and about his contacts with his associate, Konstantin Kilimnik.
  82. The context is these statements do not appear to be central to the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election. It is unclear if Mueller’s team plans to accuse Manafort of additional lies.
  83. On Wednesday, WAPO reported that Mueller is looking into Trump’s late night calls to Stone from a blocked number during the campaign, to see whether Stone served as a bridge between Trump and WikiLeaks.
  84. According to the draft document of Corsi statement, Stone was in regular contact with Trump campaign officials, including “then-candidate Donald J. Trump.” Stone said Trump initiated the calls.
  85. Stone told the Post that he never discussed WikiLeaks with Trump, adding phone conversations are not that important, saying “unless Mueller has tape recordings of the phone calls, what would that prove?”
  86. According to phone records Trump’s team turned over to Mueller, there were numerous calls between Stone and Trump throughout the campaign. In midsummer, Trump associates wanted to know WikiLeaks’ plans.
  87. Corsi forwarded a request from Stone to Ted Malloch, an informal Trump adviser in London, to visit Assange and see what he has planned for the weeks leading up the election. It is not clear if Malloch did visit.
  88. On Wednesday, Trump retweeted a image posted by account “@The_Trump_Train,” which depicted Mueller, Obama, the Clintons, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, and others behind bars.
  89. Trump also retweeted a false claim from this account, “Illegals can get up to $3,874 a month under Federal Assistance program…RT if you agree: If you weren’t born in the United States, you should receive $0 assistance.”
  90. On Wednesday, Trump defended his retweeting a photo of Rosenstein behind bars, telling the New York Postin an interview, “He should have never picked a special counsel.”
  91. On Wednesday, legislation brought to the floor to protect Mueller by Sens. Jeff Flake, Chris Coons ,and Cory Booker was blocked. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it a “solution in search of a problem.”
  92. A new analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis found 84 farms in the Upper Midwest filed for bankruptcies in the 12 months ended June 2018, double the number from the same period in 2013–2014.
  93. On Monday, GM announced it plans to cut 14,800 jobs U.S. and Canada and end production at several North American factories, the first significant downsizing since its bankruptcy, citing lower sedan sales.
  94. The cuts would reduce GM’s annual costs by $4.5 billion by the end of 2020, freeing up money to invest in electric and self-driving vehicles. In reaction to the news, the company’s stock rose 4.8% on Monday.
  95. On Monday, Trump told GM CEO Mary Barra to stop making cars in China and open a plant in Ohio, “They better damn well open a new plant there very quickly,” adding, “You’re playing around with the wrong person.”
  96. On Tuesday, GM stock tumbled after Trump threatened the company, tweeting, “Very disappointed with General Motors and their CEO…We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including for electric cars.”
  97. It was not clear what subsidies Trump was referring to. The only related item is a $7,500 plug-in tax credit, which goes to the consumer, not the company. GM is also close to the 200,000 electric car cap on the credit.
  98. On Tuesday, in a wide-ranging, 20-minute interview with WAPO, Trump blamed Democrats, the Chinese government and the central bank for any economic weakness and recent declines in the stock market.
  99. He had especially tough words for his appointee Fed Chair Jerome “Jay” Powell, saying “So far, I’m not even a little bit happy with my selection of Jay. Not even a little bit,” adding, “the Fed is way off-base with what they’re doing.”
  100. When asked why he did not reappoint Janet Yellen, he said she impressed him greatly during an interview, but he believed that the 5-foot-3-inch economist was not tall enough to lead the central bank.
  101. Trump also bragged that the stock market was up 38% since he took office. This is false: the Dow Jones industrial average is up 25%, a smaller increase than during Obama’s first two years in office.
  102. Trump again questioned the CIA’s assessment that the Saudi crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s assassination, saying “Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t. But he denies it. And people around him deny it.
  103. Trump said of the recent climate change report, “One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence,” and “You look at our air and our water, and it’s right now at a record clean.”
  104. On Wednesday, Fed Chair Powell said he now sees current interest rates “just below” neutral, a departure from his remarks two months ago, suggesting the Fed was near the end of raising rates.
  105. On Thursday, Trump again attacked GM, tweeting “General Motors is very counter to what other auto…companies are doing,” adding they are “pouring into the U.S.” and BMW “just announced a major new plant.”
  106. In the tweet, Trump also repeated his frequent false claims that “Big Steel is opening and renovating plants all over the country” — a claim which has been repeatedly debunked by fact checkers.
  107. BMW issued a statement in response to Trump’s tweet, saying, “We can confirm that we are considering building an engine plant in the U.S.,” saying the option has been under consideration for the past few years.
  108. On Wednesday, at 11:39 p.m., Trump continued his attacks on the Mueller probe, tweeting, “So much happening with the now discredited Witch Hunt. This total Hoax will be studied for years!”
  109. On Thursday, at 6:54 a.m., Trump again attacked the Mueller probe in two tweets, saying “Did you ever see an investigation more in search of a crime?” and calling it “a total disgrace.”
  110. Trump called the probe an “illegal Joseph McCarthy style Witch Hunt,” which he said “has shattered so many innocent lives,” and falsely claimed has wasted more than $40 million (a tweet Tuesday claimed $30 million).
  111. On Thursday, German authorities raided Deutsche Bank’s headquarters in Frankfurt over allegations of money laundering. The public prosecutors office said 170 officials were involved in the raid.
  112. The investigation is directed at two employees and other individuals, and is based on details in the Panama Papers; although prosecutors alleged there were “sufficient indications” for the suspicious nature before that.
  113. On Thursday, Michael Cohen made a surprise appearance before a federal judge in the Southern District of New York to plead guilty to lying to Congress about his role and timing related to the Trump Tower Moscow.
  114. Cohen said he lied about negotiations on Trump Tower Moscow ending January 2016, before the Iowa Caucuses, saying they continued until June 2016, after Trump had secured the Republican nomination.
  115. Cohen gave false answers in 2017 to both the Senate and House intelligence committees in order to be consistent with Trump’s “political message.” Trump said, “I have ZERO investments in Russia,” in January.
  116. Cohen said he also lied in saying he “never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the Moscow project and ‘never considered’ asking Individual 1 to travel for the project.” Individual 1 is Trump.
  117. Cohen said he also “discussed the status and progress of the Moscow Project with Individual 1 on more than the three occasions,” and “briefed family members of Individual 1 within the Company about the project.”
  118. Cohen continued discussions on the project with “Individual 2,” Felix Sater, as late as June 2016. Cohen discussed traveling to Russia in May, and having Trump travel there after the Republican National Convention.
  119. Cohen also lied about not receiving a response and thinking the project was halted, admitting he had a 20 minute phone conversation with an assistant to Dmitry Peskov, a senior aide to Putin, on land and financing.
  120. Cohen told the judge he lied to “to be loyal to Individual 1 .” A prosecutor from Mueller’s team was present in the courtroom. Cohen’s lawyer said he has cooperated in the Mueller probe, and will continue to cooperate.
  121. When asked about Cohen’s plea deal as he left for the G20 summit, Trump said “Cohen is lying and he’s trying to get a reduced sentence for things that have nothing to do with me,” adding, “He’s a very weak person.”
  122. Trump also told reporters, “This was a project that we didn’t do, I didn’t do . . . There would be nothing wrong if I did do it.” This contradicts his earlier statements to reporters and on the campaign trail.
  123. On Thursday, in a tweet sent while aboard Air Force One, Trump canceled his scheduled meeting with Putin at the G20, citing “the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia.”
  124. Earlier in the day, as he left the White House, Trump told reporters the meeting with Putin was still on. Russian officials were caught off guard by Trump’s abrupt cancelation.
  125. On the flight to Argentina, Trump tweeted plugs for several favorable books, including ones “by@GreggJarrett and @JudgeJeanine Pirro” saying “Go get them now, the phony Witch Hunt is well explained!”
  126. As Trump arrived at the G20, a giant Baby Trump blimp was launched by activists. The blimp was created for Trump’s visit to London, and was also used at his recent trip to Paris, before being shipped to Buenos Aires.
  127. That evening, just after Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show was over, Trump quoted Alan Dershowitz, tweeting, “He (Mueller) has no authority to be a roving Commissioner. I don’t see any evidence of crimes.”
  128. On Thursday, Yahoo News reported Mueller’s team is additionally looking at Ivanka and Donald Jr.’s roles in Trump Tower Moscow, which sources say was independent of Cohen’s efforts
  129. On Thursday, BuzzFeed reported as part of the negotiations, Cohen discussed plans to give Vladimir Putin the $50 million penthouse in Trump Tower Moscow in a conversation with a representative of Dmitry Peskov.
  130. On Thursday, WAPO reported Trump has tried to expand his real estate brand to Russia for 30 years, including traveling to Moscow and unveiling four ultimately unsuccessful attempts before running for president.
  131. The latest attempt began in September 2015, and according to court documents ended on June 14, 2016, the day WAPO reported Russia was suspected to be behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee.
  132. On Thursday, federal agents stormed the City Hall office of Alderman Ed Burke in Chicago, papering over office windows. Burke was recently defeated in his re-election over his property-tax reduction work for Trump.
  133. Over 12 years of working for Trump, Burke’s law firm, Klafter & Burke was allegedly able to cut the property taxes on Trump’s downtown tower by more than $14 million. Burke stopped working for Trump last summer.
  134. On Friday, Trump sent two tweets, admitted he “lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia,” saying “Against all odds, I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool.”
  135. On Friday, NPR reported Donald Jr.’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017 conflicts with Cohen’s account. Donald Jr. claimed there was no contact on Trump Tower Moscow during 2016.
  136. On Friday, at the G20 summit in Argentina, Saudi crown prince MBS and Putin were seen greeting each other by smiling, having an exuberant handshake, then firmly embracing.
  137. On Friday, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr said his committee has worked with and made multiple referrals to Mueller for criminal prosecution, saying, “If you lie to us, we’re going to go after you.”
  138. On Friday, at a hearing for Manafort, Mueller’s team said they are considering new criminal charges, contending Manafort obstructed justice and committed additional federal crimes since entering a plea agreement.
  139. Manafort’s attorneys denied that he violated the plea deal and said they will rebut the government’s filing after they see it. Manafort, who is currently in prison, waived his right to appear in court.
  140. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered Mueller’s team to provide a report by December 7 detailing how Manafort breached the agreement, and tentatively scheduled March 5 for Manafort’s sentencing.
  141. On Friday, CNN reported that after visiting Trump at Mar-a-Lago in March 2018, Cohen believed Trump would pardon him if he stayed on message and protected his boss. Lawyers for both were in steady communications.
  142. In the days following the raid on Cohen’s home and office, Trump started to distance himself from Cohen, saying Cohen only did a “tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work. Cohen knew the game had changed.
  143. On Friday, in a filing seeking a lenient sentence, Cohen claimed he was in “close and regular contact” with Trump’s White House staff and legal team as he prepared a statement for Congress on Trump Tower Moscow.
  144. Cohen said his false statement was based on Trump team efforts to portray that contact by Trump, his campaign, and company with Russia “as having effectively terminated before the Iowa caucuses of February 1, 2016.”
  145. Cohen’s lawyers claim Cohen kept Trump “apprised” of his contacts with Russia during the campaign, and that his false statement to Congress arose from his loyalty to Trump, who they referred to throughout as “Client-1.”
  146. Cohen’s lawyers asked for a sentence of time served, citing his cooperation with Mueller, guilty pleas on payments to silence women, and cooperation in the ongoing federal investigation into the Trump Foundation.
  147. Late Friday, Trump again plugged Hannity’s show, tweeting, “Watch @seanhannity on @FoxNews NOW. Enjoy!”
  148. On Wednesday, California Democrat TJ Cox declared victory, giving Democrats their 40th pick up in the House in the midterm elections. Democrats picked up seven seats in California alone.
  149. On Thursday, retiring House Majority Leader Paul Ryan cast doubt on the “bizarre” California election results, saying “This election system they have — I can’t begin to understand what ‘ballot harvesting’ is.”
  150. On Friday, AP retracted its call in a North Carolina 9th Congressional race, saying the board of elections delayed certifying results over “claims of irregularities and fraudulent activities related to absentee by-mail voting.”
  151. The race was called for Republican Mark Harris, after Democrat Dan McCready conceded on November 9.Harris had a lead of 905 votes out of 283,000 counted. The GOP has held this district since the early 1960s.
  152. Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Maggie Hassan, along with survivors, called on Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos to rescind the just released campus sexual abuse policies, calling it a major step backwards.
  153. On Wednesday, NBC News reported the Veterans Affair Department privately told Congress that veterans who did not receive their full GI bill payments due to a computer glitch, would not be reimbursed.
  154. On Thursday, after pressure from members of both parties of Congress, the VA reversed course and promised pay veterans the full amount of benefits they are due under the Forever GI Bill.
  155. On Friday, six additional White House officials were reprimanded for violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits public employees from conducting political activity in their official roles.
  156. The staffers included Raj Shah, Jessica Ditto, Madeleine Westerhout, Helen Aguirre Ferré, Alyssa Farah, and Jacob Wood. All deleted their social media posts that were in violation for supporting Trump
  157. The Office of Special Counsel also issued guidelines Friday, warning federal workers to avoid workplace talk about impeachment and #resistance for the next 705 days — until the day after Election Day 2020.
  158. On Friday, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by Politico, Secretary Nielsen requested the deployment of civilian law enforcement officers to the U.S.-Mexico border as early as next week.
  159. Current and former U.S. officials described the request, which would draw officers from other cabinet departments who in most cases have duties entirely unrelated to border security, as unprecedented.
  160. On Friday, documents released under the FOIA revealed months after joining the advisory board of World Patent Marketing in 2014, Whitaker fielded angry complaints from customers that they were being defrauded.
  161. One customer even showed up at Whitaker’s office in Iowa. As a U.S. attorney, Whitaker was a spokesperson for the company for three years, even participating in national television ads promoting the company.
  162. When the FTC subpoenaed Whitaker for his records in October 2017, he missed the deadline to reply, then made clear he had been named chief of staff for Jeff Sessions. Whitaker never provided any of his records.
  163. The FTC eventually filed a complaint against the company for cheating customers and making false promises. Some clients lost their life savings. In May 2018, the company paid a $25 million settlement and shut down.
  164. On Friday, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said Whitaker will appear before his committee in January, when a new Democratic majority will begin ramping up oversight of the Trump regime.
  165. On Friday, a federal judge for the Southern District of New York ruled against the Trump regime’s move to withhold grant funding from law enforcement agencies of so-called sanctuary cities.
  166. Judge Edgardo Ramos called the move illegal and unconstitutional. The ruling blocked the regime from enforcing those conditions on New York, New York City, and the six states that challenged the requirements.
  167. On Friday, a federal judge put off an immediate ruling on James Comey’s request to invalidate a subpoena from House Republicans to appear at a closed-door session, asking for additional legal briefs over the weekend.
  168. In the first half of Affordable Care Act registration, enrollment is down from 2.8 million last year to 2.4 million, with the biggest drops in Pennsylvania (down 25%), Missouri (down 25%), and Ohio (down 20%).
  169. Advocates note the enrollment period has been cut in half to just 45 days, less advertising, and government spending to help consumer has dropped from $63 million in 2016, to $36 million in 2017 to $10 million this year.
  170. On Saturday, WSJ reported that the CIA has intercepted at least 11 messages sent by crown prince MBS to his closest adviser, who oversaw the team that killed Khashoggi.
  171. Trump spoke briefly to the Saudi crown prince at the G20 summit. The exchange between the two leaders was not scheduled. A White House official sought to downplay the interaction as exchanging pleasantries.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 107: PERSONAL EMAILS

NOVEMBER 24, 2018

Week 106

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-106/

There is no such thing as a slow holiday news week in the era of Trump! This week, in the chaos of news and not normal, reporting of Ivanka Trump’s use of a personal email account for White House business — remarkably similar to Hillary Clinton’s private server on which Trump fixated throughout his 2016 campaign and beyond — was barely mentioned in the news 48 hours later.

This week there were more alarming breaks from norms, including Trump siding with Saudis over U.S. intelligence on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Trump bypassing advice by White House counsel to give troops at the U.S.-Mexico border the right to use lethal force, Trump attacking the admiral who oversaw the Osama bin Laden raid, and once again Trump attacking the Judiciary Branch for ruling against him — this time drawing the ire of both Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts and the American Bar Association.

With just weeks until the Democrats take control of the House and can subpoena and investigate, and as the Mueller probe lurks into its final stages, Trump is increasingly frantic and belligerent. Trump continues to cozy up to authoritarians and break from norms, including concern for human rights. At home, a notable rise in the normalization and occurrence of hate crimes and the rise of white supremacists continues.

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In a window in NYC. 14nov18

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Artist SacSix. https://www.instagram.com/sacsix/
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Artist Captain Eyeliner. https://www.instagram.com/captain_eyeliner/
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NYC 23nov18
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NYC 21nov18
  1. WAPO reported that of the 277 women who ran in the midterms, a record 124 have won so far. In the next session, there will be 102 women in the House of Representatives, 13 in the Senate, and 9 governors.
  2. As midterm votes continued to be counted, Democrats held a popular vote lead over Republicans in the House of more than 8.6 million votes, the largest midterm margin since Watergate, and will pick up nearly 40 seats.
  3. A Quinnipiac University poll found nearly 60% of Americans disapprove of the way Trump is handling race relations. Republicans approve by 76%, while Democrats disapprove by 93%.
  4. On Saturday, on his trip to California where 76 have died in the wildfires, Trump claimed Finland does not have wildfires because crews “spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things” to clear forest floors.
  5. On Sunday, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said in an interview he spoke to Trump briefly about forest management in Paris, but that he has no idea where Trump got the idea that raking is part of his country’s routine.
  6. On Saturday, while traveling to the Asia-Pacific in Trump’s stead, Vice President Mike Pence laughed off the suggestion that Trump questioned his loyalty, saying he “was tempted not to dignify it with a comment.”
  7. On Sunday, two days after the White House demanded “decorum” at press conferences, Trump tweeted, “So funny to see little Adam Schitt,” misspelling incoming House Intelligence Committee chair Schiff’s name.
  8. On Sunday, Trump told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace he would not overrule his acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker if he decides to curtail the Mueller probe, saying, “I would not get involved.”
  9. Trump also claimed he “did not know [Whitaker] took views on the Mueller investigation” before appointing him, adding, “I think we’ve wasted enough time on this witch hunt…probably, we’re finished,”
  10. When asked by Wallace about retired Adm. William McRaven, who oversaw the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, Trump called him a “Hillary Clinton fan” and an “Obama backer.”
  11. Trump attacked McRaven, saying he should have apprehended bin Laden sooner. McRaven had publicly defended former CIA director John Brennan in an op-ed when Trump revoked his security clearance in Week 92.
  12. On Monday, Trump attacked McRaven, tweeting, “we should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did,” claiming he (Trump) wrote that in his book “just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center.”
  13. Trump also tweeted, “We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars…Fools!” Trump’s claim on his book is untrue: there is one mention of bin Laden, but it was after he was already one of the world’s most wanted terrorists.
  14. On Monday, the Republican National Committee’s Twitter account joined Trump in attacking McRaven, claiming he was on “Hillary Clinton’s short list for Vice President in 2016,” and, “He’s hardly a non-political figure.”
  15. McRaven’s name did appear on a lengthy list of possible Clinton 2016 running mates, as well as on one for Trump, although McRaven did not endorse a candidate. McRaven has recently been battling leukemia.
  16. On Tuesday, reporters asked Trump why he has yet to visit troops in a combat zone, breaking precedent of heads of state throughout history. Trump said he plans to visit a war zone, but did not specify where or when.
  17. Trump claimed he has not visited troops because he does not want to associate himself with wars he views as failures. He has also cited the long flights and potential security risks as reasons he has avoided visits
  18. San Francisco Chronicle reported that a record 14,056 migrant children are in Department of Health and Human Services custody, topping a record from two months ago, in an already overburdened system.
  19. Under Trump, ICE background checks on sponsors has resulted in arrests of undocumented adults who come forward to take custody of the children, leaving more children spending time in holding facilities.
  20. Previous administrations did not use immigration status in determining the release children into sponsor care. HHS has opened tent facilities in Texas which can house thousands more children.
  21. NYT reported the price tag for the regime reuniting families separated under Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy is $80 million and rising with 140 children still in custody — an average of $30,000 per child.
  22. On Monday, WAPO reported documents filed in a challenge to a question on the 2020 Census survey revealthe Trump regime privately discussed the possibility of sharing future census information with law enforcement.
  23. Experts warn such a move could have a chilling effect on response rates, as well as cautioning that the Justice Department does not have the authority to change the rules.
  24. On Monday, the Seattle Times reported a yogurt store owner called 911 on behalf of the employees at the store who complained about an “unwanted subject,” saying customers are “kind of scared because he looks suspicious.”
  25. The man, Byron Ragland, was doing his job supervising a parent-child visit. Ragland is also a nine-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, a psychology student at the University of Washington, and a Black American.
  26. A white woman in Phoenix went on a racist rant when Lennys Bermudez Molina asked if she could sit in an open seat next to her, saying “I prefer white — let’s just put it like that.” Molina recorded a video of the conversation on her cell phone.
  27. The white woman continued, “I would prefer the whole freaking nation to be white. How about that?” adding “Oh, it’s going to happen. You’re going to be wiped out, trust me.”
  28. College campuses reported an uptick in anti-Semitism. Cornell University reported three swastikas in 9 days, and at Duke University, a tribute to victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre was defaced by a large, red swastika.
  29. On Monday, the Guardian reported, according to a document released by Washington state law enforcement,the FBI now classifies far-right Proud Boys as an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism.”
  30. The document revealed that the “Proud Boys members have contributed to the recent escalation of violence at political rallies held on college campuses,” and “have a history of misogyny and glorifying violence.”
  31. On Wednesday, NBC News reported the sister organization, The Proud Boys’ Girls has also been classified as “extremist.” A female sheriff’s deputy in Washington state was fired in July for her affiliation to the group.
  32. On Friday, Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes publicly claimed in a video to have quit the far-right group, saying “I am officially disassociating myself from the Proud Boys.”
  33. McInnes blamed his departure on the “NYC Nine,” eight of whom have been arrested by the NYPD, claiming “I am told by my legal team and law enforcement that this gesture could help alleviate their sentencing.”
  34. PBS “Frontline” released the second part in their series, “Documenting Hate: New American Nazis,” which reported on the resurgence of white supremacist groups, and their recruiting inside the U.S. military.
  35. The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe protested outside the U.S. Capital on Thanksgiving Day over Trump’sDepartment of Interior’s alternative interpretation of the Indian Reorganization Act to take away their land.
  36. WOSU Radio reported the Ohio legislature is weighing a bill during the lame duck session which would ban abortion entirely, and would allow criminal charges against both doctors and pregnant women seeking abortions.
  37. A federal judge in Mississippi struck down an abortion ban after 15 weeks, passed by the state legislature in March. The judge derided the legislation, saying its “professed interest in ‘women’s health’ is pure gaslighting.”
  38. The judge also noted despite the state ranking as the most medically challenged for women, the state leaders are silent on expanding Medicaid and “our alarming infant and maternal mortality rates.”
  39. On Tuesday, a group of 38 Republicans in the House sent a letter to Trump, calling on him to scrap protections for LGBTQ workers included in the newly negotiated NAFTA trade proposal with Mexico and Canada.
  40. On Friday, the Trump regime asked the Supreme Court to bypass the usual legal process, and to immediately take up Trump’s transgender military ban and rule on the issue in its current term.
  41. The Solicitor General asked the court to consolidate the challenges to the ban and rule on this issue, saying “The decisions imposing those injunctions are wrong, and they warrant this Court’s immediate review.”
  42. Lawyers representing challenges said there is no need to abandon the norms of the Supreme Court waiting to take action until regional appeals courts have ruled, questioning the urgency of the Trump regime.
  43. A rule change was proposed by Nancy Pelosi which would overturn a 181-year ban on religious headwear on the floor of Congress, as Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first two Muslim American women in Congress.
  44. On Monday, Politico reported the general overseeing the deployment of troops at the U.S.-Mexico border said the troops will start heading home in the coming days, having completed the missions for which they were sent.
  45. Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan said the first troops have started to leave and all the troops will be home by December 15, in time for Christmas, as originally expected.
  46. On Tuesday, Buchanan’s command appeared to backpedal on his statement, which seemed to suggest the deployment was unnecessary, saying “no specific timeline for redeployment has been determined.”
  47. On Wednesday, WAPO reported, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo, the Trump regime is considering sweeping new measures which would force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico as their cases are processed.
  48. The regime’s plan, known as “Remain in Mexico,” would be a major change from current screening procedures, which generally allow those who fear returning to their home countries to avoid immediate deportation.
  49. Trump has repeated said he despises the current system, known as “catch and release,” which allows migrants to remain in the U.S. until they can get a hearing with an immigration judge. Trump has pledged to end it.
  50. Under the plan, asylum seekers would have to meet a higher bar in the screening procedure — that they fear persecution in Mexico—in order to meet the requirement for immediate admission into the U.S.
  51. On Thursday, Politico reported on a fiery West Wing meeting presided by Trump Monday on the topic ofgranting the troops at the U.S.-Mexico border the right to use lethal force to defend border patrol agents.
  52. John Kelly and Kirstjen Nielsen were initially against the measure, saying it was beyond Trump’s constitutional powers. Pitted against all the other attendees including Trump and Stephen Miller, the meeting devolved into a melee.
  53. Also at the meeting was Chris Crane, president of ICE and Brandon Judd, president of the border patrol union. Kelly and Nielsen finally agreed, and Kelly signed a Cabinet declaration granting the military the authority.
  54. The move by Trump ran afoul of guidance by acting White House counsel Emmet Flood, who cautioned Trump it would likely run into constitutional roadblocks. The decision came after dozens of meetings.
  55. On Monday, in a departure of its nearly 100 year tradition of having a comedian headline its roast, the White House Correspondents’ Association announced presidential biographer Ron Chernow will headline this year.
  56. On Monday, CNN asked for an emergency hearing after Trump threatened to revoke Jim Acosta’s press pass again. That afternoon, bowing to pressure, the White House said his press pass has been “restored.”
  57. On Monday, the White House issued new rules for reporters, including how they can ask questions. The press corps did not agree to the new rules, which the correspondents’ association said it had “no role” in crafting.
  58. On Monday, WAPO reported that a record request by liberal watchdog group American Oversight revealed that Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to send hundreds of emails about government business in 2017.
  59. White House ethics officials learned of the emails in responding to the request. Emails were sent to White House aides, Cabinet officials, and her assistants, many in violation of federal records rules.
  60. The private email account was on a domain shared with Kushner. In the emails, she discussed or relayed official White House business. Ivanka’s attorney claimed none of the messages contained classified information.
  61. The domain “ijkfamily.com” was set up by Ivanka and Jared in December 2016 through a Microsoft system. Emails were prescreened for security problems by the Trump Organization, but stored by Microsoft.
  62. Ivanka discussed government policies and official business fewer than 100 times, and shared her official schedule and travel plans with herself and her personal assistants  fewer than 1,000 times.
  63. On Tuesday, when asked by reporters, Trump defended Ivanka, saying “Just so you understand, Ivanka Trump did some emails, they were not classified like Hillary Clinton,” adding, “they were not deleted.”
  64. Trump also said, “Ivanka Trump can handle herself. They are in the historical records, no deletion whatsoever,” adding, “It is all fake news.”
  65. When reporter April Ryan, a Black woman, asked Trump, “Elijah Cummings wants to investigate Ivanka’s emails. What do you say, sir?” Trump pointed at her, turned away, then asked the group, “What else?”
  66. On Monday, Mueller’s team filed a brief, saying Mueller’s powers are still intact, writing “Whitaker taking charge of the Russia probe “neither alters the special counsel’s authority…nor raises any jurisdictional issue.”
  67. The explanation came in response to a case brought by former Roger Stone aide Andrew Miller against Mueller, claiming Mueller is an unlawful prosecutor because Trump did not appoint him and he was not Senate confirmed.
  68. On Monday, Senate Democrats Richard Blumenthal, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Mazie Hirono sued to block Whitaker from serving as acting attorney general, saying his placement in the post was unconstitutional.
  69. The lawsuit, which is the third filed to block Whitaker, cites that the Vacancies Reform Act does not allow for the appointment of people to cabinet-level positions who have not been senate confirmed.
  70. On Monday, CNN reported the watchdog group American Oversight said in a letter sent to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics that the DOJ had failed to provide a copy of Whitaker’s public financial disclosure reports.
  71. Whitaker has likely had to file two sets of public financial disclosures since joining the Justice Department last year. Federal ethics law requires the reports be available to public requestors within 30 days of their filing.
  72. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Whitaker has received more than $1.2 million over three years from Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), which described itself as a new watchdog nonprofit.
  73. FACT, which says it is dedicated to exposing unethical conduct by public officials, has no employees, but allowed Whitaker to regularly appear in the media. In 2014, the IRS approved FACT for tax-exempt charity status.
  74. WAPO analyzed Whitaker’s 200 plus television and radio appearances from 2014 to September 2017, andfound an overwhelming focus on Democrats, including 750 mentions of Hillary and 185 of Mueller.
  75. FACT was founded 2012 under a different name and mission. At the time, Whitaker, was a U.S. attorney with a legal practice in Iowa that paid him $79,000 a year. The source of funding remains unclear.
  76. On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked the inspector general to investigate Whitaker’s communications with the White House, citing concerns he shared confidential information about the Mueller probe.
  77. Schumer also wants the inspector general to investigate whether Whitaker “provided any assurance” to Trump or other White House officials “regarding steps he or others may take” related to the Mueller probe.
  78. On Wednesday, CNN reported the Office of Special Counsel opened an investigation into a possible Hatch Act violation by Whitaker, for taking donations for a 2014 senate run while serving as chief of staff at the DOJ.
  79. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from accepting political contributions. The $8,800 of contributions were made in January and February to repay debt from his unsuccessful run for a Senate seat in Iowa.
  80. On Tuesday, NYT reported Trump told former White House counsel Don McGahn in the spring that he wanted to order the DOJ to prosecute two of his political adversaries, Hillary Clinton and James Comey.
  81. McGahn said no, and told Trump he had no authority to order a prosecution. He also had White House lawyers write a memo warning Trump could face a range of consequences, including impeachment.
  82. Trump privately continues to float ideas, like appointing a second special counsel to investigate Clinton and Comey. He has also attacked the integrity of DOJ officials, saying they are on a “witch hunt” to bring him down.
  83. Trump has also been frustrated FBI director Christopher Wray would not open an investigation on Clinton for her role in Uranium One and the Clinton Foundation, calling his appointee “weak” for not pursuing her.
  84. On Wednesday, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told The Hill “of course she [Clinton] should be investigated” for obstruction of justice, citing “destroying evidence in a gross and massive way,” meaning deleted emails.
  85. On Tuesday, a federal judge blocked Trump’s proclamation targeting some asylum seekers, ordering the Trump regime to resume accepting asylum claims from migrants no matter where or how they entered the U.S.
  86. Judge Jon Tigar of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote, “Whatever the scope of the president’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden.”
  87. On Tuesday, when asked by reporters about the ruling, Trump called it a “disgrace,” and labeled Judge Tigar “an Obama judge.”
  88. On Wednesday, in a highly unusual public statement, when asked by an AP reporter, Chief Justice John Roberts rebutted Trump’s statement, saying an “independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”
  89. Roberts said, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” adding, “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best.”
  90. On Wednesday, Trump responded in two tweets, saying, “Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have “Obama judges,” adding, “It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an “independent judiciary.””
  91. Trump also tweeted, “Please study the numbers, they are shocking. We need protection and security — these rulings are making our country unsafe,” adding, “Very dangerous and unwise!”
  92. On Wednesday, the American Bar Association took the unusual step of issuing a statement criticizing Trump’s attacks on the 9th Circuit Court, saying judicial independence is critical to American democracy.
  93. ABA also said “when government officials question a court’s motives, mock its legitimacy or threaten retaliation,” they “erode the court’s standing and hinder the courts from performing their constitutional duties.”
  94. On Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, Trump tweeted, “Justice Roberts can say what he wants, but the 9th Circuitis a complete & total disaster,” adding “It is out of control, has a horrible reputation.”
  95. Trump later tweeted, “79% of these decisions have been overturned in the 9th Circuit,” citing Fox News. Trump also called the 9th Circuit a “dangerous disgrace” and a “dumping ground” for “easy wins and delays.”
  96. In a scathing series of tweets, George Conway, Kellyanne Conway’s husband, refuted Trump’s claims about the 9th Circuit as untrue.
  97. On Monday, Reuters reported Germany halted all arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and imposed a travel ban on the 18 Saudis linked to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi from entering the 26 countries in the EU.
  98. On Tuesday, in an extraordinary statement, Trump sided with the Saudi Crown Prince MBS over the findings by U.S. national intelligence agencies on the killing of Khashoggi.
  99. Trump’s 633 word, crude statement with exclamation points ignored known facts, stating, “It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!
  100. Trump added “We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder…In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” adding Iran’s crimes are worse anything Saudi Arabia has done.
  101. In his statement, Trump also came close to embracing the conspiracy theory of Khashoggi’s critics in Saudi Arabia, that he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and an “enemy of the state.”
  102. Trump also wrote, “The world is a very dangerous place,” and repeated his false claim that alienating the Saudis would put $110 billion in military sales at risk. So far just $14.5 billion in sales have been booked.
  103. On Wednesday, when asked by reporters if he was motivated by personal gain, Trump said, “I don’t make deals with Saudi Arabia,” and “I don’t have money from Saudi Arabia.”
  104. Trump also falsely claimed siding with Saudis would keep the price of oil down, telling reporters if we break out relationship we will “see oil prices go to $150 a barrel.” The Saudis are considering cutting output.
  105. On Tuesday, the editorial board of WAPO condemned Trump, saying he has slandered Khashoggi and betrayed American values, and his actions let dictators know “they can murder their critics and suffer no consequences.”
  106. The Post compared Trump’s move with his siding with Putin on Russian interference in the 2016 election, saying he had “affinity for a brutal and reckless leader by disregarding the findings of the U.S. intelligence.”
  107. On Tuesday, WSJ reported Saudi Arabia is accused of torturing at least eight of the 18 women’s-rights activists imprisoned this year without being formally charged with any crime. At least one tried to commit suicide.
  108. Torturing women is unprecedented according to activists. At least four who were subjected to electric shocks and lashings, one was sexually assaulted, and many were kept in solitary confinement for several months.
  109. On Wednesday, Trump celebrated low oil prices, tweeting “Enjoy! $54, was just $82. Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!” Experts say the fall in price has little to do with Saudi Arabia.
  110. On Friday, the WSJ reported that the recent downward trend in oil prices is due to a surge in crude production from the U.S. petroleum industry combined with a weakened global growth, not related to Saudi and OPEC output.
  111. On Thursday, Denmark and Finland joined Germany in halting arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
  112. On Tuesday, a photo of Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith wearing a Confederate soldier’s hat and holding a rifle surfaced on Facebook. The photo was taking during a 2014 visit to the Jefferson Davis Home.
  113. On Tuesday, Trump defended Hyde-Smith’s lynching comment in Week 105, dismissing her comment as a joke, and adding “She is a tremendous woman and it is a shame that she has to go through this.”
  114. Following the lynching comment, several corporations, including Pfizer, Amgen, Walmart, AT&T, and others asked to have their campaign donations to Hyde-Smith returned.
  115. On Tuesday, Hyde-Smith offered a qualified apology, saying her comments did not mean she would “enjoy any type of capital punishment,” and “for anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize.”
  116. On Thursday, as Vice President Pence stood in for Trump at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, he broke from Trump, directly confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin on election interference.
  117. Pence told WAPO of his conversation, “So I looked at him and I said, ‘We know what happened in 2016,’” adding, “I’m very aware of what you’ve said about that, but I’m telling you we’re not having it.”
  118. On Wednesday, Mueller’s team urged a judge to deny a request from a former George Papadopoulos to delaythe commencement of his two week jail sentence, which is scheduled to begin November 26.
  119. George Papadopoulos’ attorney filed a motion, saying sentencing should be delayed pending the case challenging the constitutionality of Mueller’s appointment as special counsel.
  120. On Wednesday, AP reported Trump was set to be interviewed by Mueller’s team on January 27 at Camp David, but Trump’s lawyers balked. John Dowd sent a feisty letter disputing Mueller’s authority to question Trump.
  121. Reportedly Trump wanted to do the interview, but Trump’s lawyers, after being informed of the 16 topics Mueller wanted to cover from Mueller team prosecutor James Quarles, canceled the interview.
  122. This week, Trump’s lawyers handed over his written answers to some of Mueller’s questions, after a hard fought battle to compromise. Trump answered only questions about Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  123. Trump’s team refused to answer questions about whether he has tried to obstruct the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and his campaign. It is unclear if Mueller intends to push for more answers.
  124. On Thursday, House Republicans subpoenaed James Comey and Loretta Lynch to testify privately. Comey tweeted, “I will resist a “closed door” thing because I’ve seen enough of their selective leaking and distortion.”
  125. On Friday, WAPO reported Jerome Corsi, an associate of Trump and Roger Stone, is in plea negotiations with Mueller’s team. Corsi provided research on Democratic figures during the 2016 campaign to Stone.
  126. Corsi cooperating could shed light on whether Trump or his advisers were connected to and had knowledge of WikiLeaks’ release of hacked Democratic emails in 2016, a key part of Mueller’s inquiry.
  127. The New Yorker reported Emma Briant, an expert on disinformation at George Washington University, has unearthed new emails from October 2015, revealing the earliest documented role played by Steve Bannon in Brexit.
  128. Emails show Bannon, then vice president of Cambridge Analytica, owned largely by Robert Mercer, was in the loop for discussions with the leaders of Leave.EU, a far-right nationalist organization.
  129. Mueller’s investigations into foreign interference in Trump’s election, and British probes into Brexit, have increasingly become interwoven, including the role of the Russian Ambassador to the U.K., Alexander Yakovenko.
  130. Investigators from both countries are also looking into the role of Nigel Farage, the former leader of Euroskeptic U.K. Independence Party, who was an ally of Bannon and Trump, and also visited Julian Assange in 2017.
  131. On Thursday, Trump started the day tweeting, “HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!” then devolved to warning of “bedlam, chaos, injury and death” at the U.S.-Mexico border if law enforcement cannot do their job.
  132. In the morning at a press gaggle, when asked by reporters at Mar-a-Lago what he was thankful for, Trump responded, “for having a great family and for having made a tremendous difference in this country.”
  133. Trump continued, “I’ve made a tremendous difference in the country. This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office that you wouldn’t believe it.”
  134. When asked how he would rate the job he is doing, Trump responded “Look, I hate to do it, but I will do it. I would give myself an A-plus. Is that enough? Can I go higher than that?
  135. Trump also broke with tradition, using the Thanksgiving morning conference call with military members in five countries overseas to instead weigh in on several controversial political issues.
  136. Trump again criticized the 9th Circuit, saying “We get a lot of bad court decisions from the 9th Circuit, which has become a big thorn in our side,” adding, “We always lose…then you hopefully win at the Supreme Court.”
  137. Trump also said, “it’s a terrible thing when judges…tell you how to protect your border,” calling it a “disgrace.” Later in the day he said “judicial activism” prevented security officials from protecting the border.
  138. He blamed “the world” for the death of Khashoggi, dismissing the finding of the CIA that Saudi Crown Prince MBS was to blame, instead claiming the crown prince hated the death even more than Trump did.
  139. After claiming “Nobody’s done more for the military than me,” Trump made numerous false claims about military, and asked commanders what they were seeing in their regions on a call which is publicly broadcasted.
  140. Trump bragged about sending troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, even as troops are being pulled back, and expressed no doubts about the constitutionality of giving soldiers the right to use lethal force there.
  141. Trump had Thanksgiving dinner at Mar-a-Lago, which he has dubbed the “southern White House,” hosting a large crowd of more than 500 paying members along with his family.
  142. Before leaving for Mar-a-Lago, Trump bemoaned to reporters “being president has cost me a fortune.” In addition to other business like Trump Hotel DC, Mar-a-Lago is now charging $200,000 a person for members.
  143. NBC News calculated that in Trump’s first 673 days in office, he has spent almost one-third (217) at a Trump property, and about one-quarter (165) golfing at a Trump golf property.
  144. On Friday, New York state Supreme Court threw out Trump’s motion to dismiss, and said the NY attorney general’s lawsuit against the Trump Foundation can proceed.
  145. The judge noted a separate case has determined Trump is not immune to civil actions while serving as head of state, and said allegations of wrongdoing were strong enough to let the case go forward.
  146. On Friday, the White House quietly released a massive new federal report by the National Climate Assessment warning that national disasters like wildfires and hurricanes are worsening because of global warming.
  147. The report found warming-charged extremes “have already become more frequent, intense, widespread or of long duration,” and contradicted Trump who has been unwilling to acknowledge global warming as a cause.
  148. The report warned of worsening conditions, noting the last few years have smashed U.S. records for damaging weather, costing the U.S. nearly $400 billion since 2015.
  149. A co-author noted the recent wildfires in Northern California can be attributed to climate change, saying “a warm, dry climate has increased the areas burned over the last 20 years.”
  150. The report found the Lower 48 states have warmed 1.8 degrees since 1900 with 1.2 degrees in the last few decades alone. By the end of this century, the U.S. will be 3 to 12 degrees hotter.
  151. The report, written by outside scientists and officials from 13 federal agencies, was released on Friday afternoon, the day after Thanksgiving, prompting advocates to accuse the Trump regime of trying to bury it.
  152. Trump tweeted about cold weather on Wednesday, “Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS — Whatever happened to Global Warming?”
  153. Trump tweeted again on Thursday: “This is the coldest weather in the history of the Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC, and one of the coldest Thanksgivings on record!”
  154. The report addressed this: “Over shorter timescales and smaller geographic regions, the influence of natural variability can be larger than the influence of human activity … Over climate timescales of multiple decades, however, global temperature continues to steadily increase.”
  155. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a food safety alert warning to consumers to throw away romaine lettuce due to an outbreak of E. coli that has sickened 32 people in 11 states.
  156. Wired reported that after disease outbreaks linked to food, in 2011, Obama’s Food and Drug Administration issued rules requiring produce growers to begun testing their water, starting in 2018.
  157. However, Trump’s FDA, bowing to pressure from the farm industry and Trump’s overarching dictate to eliminate regulations, earlier this year shelved the water-testing rules for at least four years.
  158. Trump and his Mar-a-Lago guests were spared from the romaine lettuce scare on Thanksgiving. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Friday morning that the contaminated lettuce likely originated in California.
  159. On Friday, the Hollywood Reporter revealed Bill Shine, the White House communications chief will be paid by both the White House and Trump ally Fox News this year and next, according to his financial disclosure form.
  160. Shine started his White House position on July 5, and had an unusually long extension of 68 days for filing his form. Whitaker released Shine’s form on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 106: NATIONALISTS NOT WELCOME

I’m in New York City this week and there’s no shortage of ‘political art commentary’ on display…

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Located on the Lower East Side in New York City. 16nov18.

NOVEMBER 17, 2018

Week 105

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

Reporting this week indicates Trump is reeling from the midterms, as additional House seats were called for Democrats, possibly leading to a 40 seat pick-up, as well as the Mueller probe, from which additional indictments are expected soon. This week Trump skipped many duties typically carried out by a head of state, instead brooding and threatening to fire more cabinet level officials — the regime continues to operate in utter dysfunction.

As wildfires raged in California, with 71 dead and more than a thousand missing, Trump blamed forest management, insulted the firefighters risking their lives, and showed a complete lack of empathy for the residents impacted. Trump skipped more ceremonies for fallen soldiers in Paris for Armistice Day and in the U.S. for Veterans Day.

Trump stoked fear of election tampering with false allegations, as other Republicans in close races followed his lead. His tone continued to be divisive, as the FBI reported an alarming rise in anti-Semitic and other hate crimes. Trump continues to alienate the country’s traditional allies, while taking unusual actions seeming to protect Kim Jong-Un and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

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“The Boss” by SacSix https://www.instagram.com/sacsix/ Lower East Side, NYC. 16nov18.
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“We All the People” by Individual Activist https://www.instagram.com/individualactivist/ East Village, NYC. 16nov18.
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Anti-Nationalist sticker in the East Village, NYC. 14nov18.
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“Vote for My Future Please.” On Houston St. NYC. 17nov18.
  1. The estimated voter turnout for 2018 midterms was over 115 million votes, or roughly 49% of the eligible voters, the highest turnout of any midterm since 1914.
  2. The Democrats’ “blue wave” was propelled by an increase in Latino vote margin from a 26% in 2014 to 40% in 2018, women vote from 4% to 19%, single voters from 13% to 24%, and college graduates from -3% to 20%.
  3. Democrats also benefited from voters under 30, whose margin grew from 11% to 35%, as well as a slight tick up in Black American voters and some GOP voters. Independent voter margin went from -12% to 12%.
  4. Federal Election Commission filings revealed that Republican campaigns and PACs spent at least $3.2 millionat Trump-owned and branded properties in the two years leading up to the midterms.
  5. Oxford Dictionaries announced the Word of 2018 is “toxic,” citing a 45% increase in look-ups of the word, and that it was used in many situations.
  6. On Thursday, the Toronto Star reported by their count, Trump made 815 false claims in the month leading up to midterms. Previously, it took Trump 286 days from the time of taking office to make 815 false claims.
  7. On Saturday, the president of the California Professional Firefighters (CPF) ripped Trump for his tweets earlier in the day to withhold federal payments to the state for what is the deadliest wildfire in the state.
  8. In a statement, the CPF president said, “threatening to withhold aid to the victims of the cataclysmic fires is ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines.”
  9. On Sunday, Trump tweeted “With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get Smart!”
  10. On Sunday, Axios reported Trump also threatened to cut off federal relief for Puerto Rico, claiming, without evidence, that the island’s government is using federal disaster relief money to pay off debt.
  11. On Monday, Trump tweeted “The California Fire Fighters, FEMA and First Responders are amazing and very brave. Thank you,” and changed course, saying he “approved an expedited request for a Major Disaster Declaration.”
  12. On Sunday, Trump traveled separately from other world leaders in Paris, and didn’t join the other leaders when they walked side-by-side while bells tolled to mark the signing of the armistice to end World War I, 100 years ago.
  13. Trump reportedly looked on to the ceremonies grimly, except brightening and flashing a smile when Vladimir Putin approached, in contrast to Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel who had switched their demeanor to “steel resolve.”
  14. A White House spokeswoman said Trump arrived separately due to “security protocols.” Putin also did not participate in the procession, and told Russia’s RT network that he and Trump spoke during the luncheon.
  15. In a speech, Macron issued a rebuke of Trump’s label of nationalist, saying “patriotism is exactly the opposite of nationalism,” and soldiers died to reject “selfishness of nations only looking after their own interest.”
  16. On Monday, Trump stayed at the White House and did not visit Arlington National Cemetery, skipping the Veterans Day observance held there every year since 1954.
  17. On Tuesday, in a tweet, Trump blamed the Secret Service for him skipping the scheduled Saturday visit to a cemetery for fallen U.S. soldiers outside Paris in Week 104, saying he “suggested driving. Secret Service said NO.”
  18. Trump also attacked Macron in a series of tweets, threatening tariffs, erroneously claiming Macron wanted a European army against the U.S., and saying Macron “suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France.”
  19. Trump also tweeted, “By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France,” adding, “MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!”
  20. On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the French government criticized Trump, saying, “Yesterday was November 13, we were marking the murder of 130 of our people…common decency would have been appropriate.”
  21. On Sunday, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, told “Meet the Press” that acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker would be his committee’s first witness come January.
  22. Axios reported incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff plans to probe whether Trump abused White House power by targeting and trying to punish the Washington Post and CNN.
  23. On Monday, a prom photograph taken last spring of roughly 60 high school boys from the Baraboo School District in Wisconsin making a Nazi salute went viral online, sparking outrage.
  24. The photo was tagged #Barabooproud, with the boys dressed up in suits. School and police officials are now promising to look into the photo, while The Auschwitz Memorial Twitter page and others denounced it.
  25. WAPO reported a photo taken from further back also shows parents or other adults taking their own pictures of the group. The photo was posted on Twitter in May 2018 by Jake Boll, a history teacher at the school.
  26. On Tuesday, the FBI released its annual hate crimes statistics: overall hate crimes rose 17% in 2017, a jump that was partly driven by a spike in anti-Semitic incidents up 37%, to 938, while anti-Muslim incidents fell.
  27. Hate crimes based on race or ethnicity jumped by 18% in 2017 to 4,131, with crimes against black people increasing by 16%, the most in the category. The rise in total hate crimes is the biggest since 2001.
  28. On Tuesday, a D.C. area man who described himself as a white nationalist and became a follower of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter on social media was arrested on gun charges after relatives contacted authorities.
  29. Authorities seized two kits to convert semi-automatic AR-15s into fully automatic rifles. Authorities said the man, Jeffrey Clark, “fantasized about killing ‘Jews and blacks’” and believed there would be a civil war.
  30. On Wednesday, a drunk man attending a performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” in Baltimore stood up in the balcony and shouted “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump” while reportedly making a Nazi salute.
  31. Many in the audience went running, and one attendee said, “I was waiting to hear a gunshot. I thought, ‘Here we go.’” Police said the man was motivated by his hatred for Trump.
  32. On Thursday, a federal judge in Montana ruled against neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer, saying coordinating a “terror campaign” against a Jewish real estate agent cannot be dismissed on First Amendment grounds.
  33. NPR reported on Trump reshaping the judiciary, and the breakdown of his nominees: 77% of Trump’s 152 nominees are men, compared to 58% Obama’s 392 nominees.
  34. On race, 84% of Trump’s nominees are white, compared to 63% under Obama. Of Trump’s 48 appellate nominations, none are African-American or Latino, and only nine are women.
  35. On Friday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced a sweeping overhaul coming soon of how colleges and universities handle allegations of sexual assault and harassment, giving new rights to the accused.
  36. The new proposal would replace Obama-era guidance, and would reduce liability for universities, tighten the definition of sexual harassment, and allow schools to use a higher standard in evaluating claims.
  37. In Week 42, DeVos rescinded Obama’s 2011 guidance and promised to replace it. The proposal, cheered by men’s rights groups, also gives the accused the ability to cross-examine their accusers.
  38. On Monday, NBC News reported information technology glitches at the Department of Veterans Affairs have resulted in GI Bill benefit payments covering education and housing to be delayed, or never delivered.
  39. Hundreds of thousands are believed to be affected overall. More than 82,000 are waiting for their housing payments as of November 8, with only weeks remaining in the school semester, leaving some homeless already.
  40. On Monday, WAPO reported Trump is preparing to fire Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in the coming weeks, or sooner. Trump has bemoaned Nielsen’s lackluster performance on immigration enforcement.
  41. Trump is expected to nominate a hardliner. Meanwhile, firing Nielsen would leave a leadership void at the third-largest agency. The deputy secretary job at DHS has been vacant since February, and has no nominee.
  42. On Tuesday, ABC News reported that amidst the latest staff shakeup, Trump is also actively looking at replacements for Chief of Staff John Kelly, including Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff Nick Ayers.
  43. On Tuesday, the office of First Lady Melania Trump issued a statement calling for the firing of deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel, after she had a series of run-ins with the first lady’s office.
  44. On Wednesday, Mira Ricardel left her role at the White House, where she was one of the highest-ranking female members in the regime, and was reassigned. It was unclear what Ricardel’s next position will be.
  45. On Tuesday, Scott Phillips, Trump’s appointee to Southeast regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, was indicted by a grand jury on Alabama ethic charges.
  46. Charges include soliciting a thing of value from a principal, lobbyist, or subordinate. In his prior job, Phillips accepted money from and worked with a law firm and one of its clients to fight the EPA.
  47. Trump nominated Lana Marks, a handbag designer and member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago to be his ambassador to South Africa. Marks is the fourth Mar-a-Lago member to get a U.S. ambassador position.
  48. A spokesperson for the first lady announced Trump and Melania will not attend the 2018 Kennedy Center Honors, marking the first time a head of state will miss the ceremony twice in the history of the awards.
  49. The U.S. recorded a $100.5 billion budget deficit in October, a 59% increase from $63.2 billion from a year earlier. The ballooning shortfall is driven by the GOP tax cuts, spending hikes, and an aging population.
  50. On Monday, as stocks sold off, Trump blamed the sell-off on the Democrats, tweeting “The prospect of Presidential Harassment by the Dems is causing the Stock Market big headaches!”
  51. NYT reported conservative lawyers who are part of the Federalist Society are forming a group called “Checks and Balances,” organized by George Conway, husband of Kellyanne and a frequent Trump critic.
  52. More than a dozen lawyers will be part of the group, warning peers to speak up about what they say are the Trump regime’s betrayals of bedrock legal norms, and to do more to protect the Constitution.
  53. On Sunday, top Democrats in the House and Senate sent a letter to Lee Lofthus, an assistant attorney generaland the Justice Department’s chief ethics officer, asking whether he had advised Whitaker to recuse himself.
  54. On Tuesday, the state of Maryland asked a federal judge for an order declaring that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein is the acting attorney general, not Trump appointee Matt Whitaker.
  55. Maryland says Whitaker’s selection violated federal law and exceeded the appointment authority in the Constitution, and that federal laws say when the attorney general role is vacant, the deputy attorney general takes over.
  56. On Tuesday, amid pressure from Democrats, Whitaker said he would consult with Justice Department ethics officials about “matters that may warrant recusal.” He is not obliged to act on the advice.
  57. On Wednesday, GOP Sen. Jeff Flake and Democrat Sen. Chris Coons went to the Senate floor and tried to bring up legislation which would protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired.
  58. Sen. Flake said Trump “now has this investigation in his sights and we all know it.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell objected, saying the legislation is unnecessary because he believes Mueller will not be fired.
  59. Later Wednesday, Sen. Flake, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced that he will not vote to let judicial nominees advance or be confirmed unless GOP leaders hold a vote on the legislation.
  60. On Wednesday, WSJ reported in early 2015, Whitaker called the owner of Ripoff Report and angrily demanded the removal of all negative reports about World Patent Marketing (WPM).
  61. The angry calls suggests Whitaker took a more active role than previously known in shielding WPM, where he was a paid advisory-board member. The company was shut down last year by the Federal Trade Commission.
  62. The anonymous complaint on Ripoff Report, dated Jan. 9, was posted by a person claiming to be a former WPM employee. Whitaker was paid $9,375 as an advisory-board member, and appeared in two promotional videos.
  63. On Wednesday, top Democrats in the House who will chair committees in January sent letters to Whitaker, the FTC, the founder of WPM, and others requesting more information about Whitaker’s role.
  64. On Friday, Washington lawyer Tom Goldstein, on behalf of opponents to Whitaker’s appointment, filed a motion asking the Supreme Court to rule that Whitaker is not legally qualified for the job.
  65. The motion asserts Whitaker cannot be in the position because he was not Senate confirmed and the Constitution requires confirmation for a cabinet-level job, so Rod Rosenstein should be acting attorney general.
  66. On Monday, NYT reported a Center for Strategic and International Studies study revealed satellite images of 16 hidden bases in North Korea, showing the country is moving ahead with its ballistic missile program.
  67. The sites were long known to U.S. intelligence agencies, but left undiscussed since Trump claimed he had neutralized the nuclear threat. North Korea offered to dismantle a major launching site, but did not do so.
  68. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that the NYT story is “inaccurate” and “more fake news,” saying, “We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new,” and “I will be the first to let you know if things go bad!”
  69. On Tuesday, LA Times reported after midterm losses and knowing Democrats will investigate him, along with indictments likely coming in the Mueller probe, Trump has “retreated into a cocoon of bitterness and resentment.”
  70. Trump has reportedly lashed out at both senior and junior aides, with aides saying he is furious and trying to decide who to blame for midterm loses. Trump has retreated from typical duties of the head of state.
  71. Trump skipped a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Tuesday, and a Wednesday trip by Defense Secretary James Mattis to the U.S.-Mexico border to visit troops ordered there by Trump because of the “caravans.”
  72. After making the “caravans” a central issue ahead of midterms, Trump has not mentioned them since the election. Troops remain at the border until Trump gives the order for them to leave.
  73. Trump is also skipping the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, sending Pence instead. Leaders of Russia, India, South Korea, and China are all attending regional summits to broaden their influence.
  74. On Tuesday, WAPO reported on Trump’s “five days of fury” including a call from British PM Theresa May to congratulate him on the midterms on Friday, on which he proceeded to berate her on several unrelated issues.
  75. Trump officials also noted his foul mood, saying he is brooding over midterm losses and the Florida recount. He erupted at his staff over the media coverage of his decision to skip the cemetery visit last Saturday.
  76. Trump was also angry at Macron’s comments. A senior official said Trump was frustrated with the trip, and wants to make changes to his staff, including considering names for a new chief of staff on the flight home.
  77. On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Nielsen visited troops at the southern border. Mattis described the deployments to the border as “great training,” and warned troops not to pay attention to news coverage.
  78. On Wednesday, Vanity Fair reported on Trump’s post-midterm blues and one of the most turbulent weeks of his time in office, with one former West Wing staffer saying “This is a level of insanity I’ve never seen before.”
  79. Trump initially took midterm losses in stride, thinking he won, but as he heard commentary about the suburbs not liking him, he became furious and proceeded to fire Jeff Sessions and attack reporters.
  80. According to one Republican briefed on the discussions, the real reason Trump did not want to go to the cemetery outside Paris on Saturday was because he was worried “his hair was going to get messed up in the rain.”
  81. On Monday, conservative author Jerome Corsi told listeners on his daily live-stream that he expects to be indicted in the Mueller probe for lying to investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.
  82. Corsi, who is also an associate of Roger Stone, told listeners “the Department of Justice is run by criminals,” adding: “I think my crime really was that I supported Donald Trump.”
  83. On Monday, in a text message to WAPO, Stone said he has not been contacted by Mueller’s team, and that “perhaps they have squeezed poor Dr. Corsi to frame me,” adding of Corsi, “He has his own demons.”
  84. On Monday, an ABC News reporter caught Michael Cohen walking in Union Station in Washington D.C. CNBC reported Cohen was there, along with his attorney Guy Petrillo, to speak with Mueller’s team.
  85. On Tuesday, NBC News reported Trump’s legal team is close to completing written answers to questions posed by Mueller. The answers pertain only to Russian interference in the 2016 election, not obstruction of justice.
  86. On Wednesday, WSJ reported Mueller’s team is investigating whether Roger Stone tried to intimidate and discredit radio personality Randy Credico, a possible witness in the Mueller probe.
  87. Filmmaker David Lugo said he testified to a grand jury about a blog post Stone helped him draft which was harshly critical of Credico. Bill Samuels said he was questioned about Credico’s reaction to threatening messages.
  88. Prosecutors are examining emails between Stone and Credico that involve his decision to plead the Fifth Amendment before Congress. Samuels said Credico was intimidated almost to the point of a nervous breakdown.
  89. On Wednesday, NBC News reported six days before WikiLeaks began releasing John Podesta’s emails, Roger Stone exchanged text messages with Credico, with Credico texting: “Hillary’s campaign will die this week.”
  90. Two days later, Credico texted “I think it’s on for tomorrow.” Stone texted “I have total confidence that @wikileaks and my hero Julian Assange will educate the American people soon #LockHerUp.”
  91. On Friday, a U.S. attorney inadvertently revealed in an unsealed court filing that Julian Assange has been charged. The attorney working on the case had urged the judge to keep the matter sealed “until Assange is arrested.”
  92. The case had been sealed until early September, but was noticed by Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, who tweeted about it Thursday night.
  93. On Friday, WSJ reported the DOJ is preparing to prosecute Assange, and is increasingly optimistic it will be able to get him into a U.S. courtroom. Assange has recently clashed with his Ecuadorian hosts.
  94. Prosecutors have considered publicly indicting Assange to try to trigger his removal from the Ecuadorian embassy. Charges may involve the Espionage Act for disclosure of national defense-related information.
  95. Assange’s attorney said they have heard nothing which would indicate a criminal case against his client is imminent. An extradition request from the U.S. for Assange would likely go to British authorities.
  96. On Thursday, a judge refused to dismiss Mueller’s indictment of Concord Management and Consulting, owned by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch known as “Putin’s chef” due to his close ties to Putin.
  97. The indictment related to Concord’s funding part of a Russian effort to influence the 2016 election. Concord is accused of using a sophisticated fraudulent social media campaign to influence the election.
  98. In October, the DOJ also charged Concord’s accountant and Prigozhin’s bookkeeper, Elena Khusyaynova, for seeking to interfere with the 2018 U.S. midterm elections by sowing “discord in the U.S. political system.”
  99. On Thursday, in a four tweet tirade under continued pressure for appointing Whitaker, Trump lashed out at Mueller, claiming, without evidence “the inner workings of” Mueller’s “investigation are a total mess.”
  100. Trump also tweeted of Mueller’s team, “They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want.”
  101. Trump also tweeted of Mueller’s team that “they are a disgrace to our Nation” and a “gang of Democrat thugs,” calling the probe, “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!”
  102. Trump also falsely claimed, “The only “Collusion” is that of the Democrats with Russia and many others. Why didn’t the FBI take the Server from the DNC?” adding “Check out how biased Facebook, Google and Twitter are.”
  103. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi criticized the tweets, saying Trump “continues to wage an all-out campaign to obstruct” Mueller, adding that he put Whitaker in charge “for one purpose — to end the investigation.”
  104. On Thursday, WAPO reported Trump spent more than four hours meeting with his attorneys Monday, and 90 minutes Wednesday night working on written answers to Mueller’s questions.
  105. Rudy Giuliani said Trump’s legal team has not decided if they will answer all of Mueller’s questions, which are exclusively about events pre-election, saying “there are some that create more issues for us legally than others.”
  106. On Friday, Trump told reporters he had finished answering Mueller’s questions but has not submitted answers yet, saying “I write the answers. My lawyers don’t write answers,” adding, “I answered them very easily.”
  107. Trump also expressed concern that even thought his lawyers helped, investigators are looking to catch him perjuring himself, saying “I’m sure they’re tricked up, because, you know, they like to catch people.”
  108. When asked about his anti-Mueller Twitter storm on Thursday, Trump said “No, I’m not agitated. It’s a hoax,” adding “The witch hunt, as I call it, should never have taken place. It continues to go on.”
  109. On Friday, NBC News reported lawyers for Russian operative Maria Butina have entered into negotiations with federal prosecutors. Butina is accused of acting as an agent of Russia in the D.C. area.
  110. In the court filing Friday, prosecutors requested the court extend the current phase of the case for an additional two weeks, to give both sides time to continue the negotiations.
  111. On Saturday, on Fox News host Jeanine Pirro’s show, GOP Rep. Yvette Herrell alleged voter fraud and voting irregularities in her midterm loss, without providing any evidence to back her claims.
  112. On Monday, Trump tweeted the Florida races should be called for Republicans Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis, saying an “honest vote count is no longer possible” and claiming without evidence ballots were “massively infected.”
  113. In an email to her supporters, GOP Rep. Mimi Walters accused Democrats of trying to “steal this Republican seat” in California, and overturn “the will of the voters” by advocating for the counting of all votes.
  114. Also in California, Republican Young Kim accused her opponent’s campaign of “physical ballot tampering” even though the county registrar denied this, then suggested something nefarious could be afoot.
  115. In a video published Sunday, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi.), who is in a runoff against Democrat Mike Espy, who is a Black American, said if a cattle rancher “invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”
  116. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) said in statement Hyde-Smith’s comment on public hanging was “beyond disrespectful and offensive,” adding the state’s history includes “one of the highest numbers of public lynching.”
  117. On Monday, Sen. Hyde-Smith refused to apologize, and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant defended her saying, “I am confused about where the outrage is at about 20 million African-American children that have been aborted.”
  118. On Tuesday, Georgia state senator Nikema Williams, a Black woman, was arrested by capitol police during a protest over ballot counts. Williams told Mother Jones, “Never did I imagine my day was going to end in jail.”
  119. On Friday, Democrat Stacey Abrams ended her fight for Georgia governor without formally conceding, saying declaring that an “erosion of our democracy” had kept many of her backers from the polls.
  120. Abrams offered a blistering attack of Brian Kemp, and said she will launch Fair Fight Georgia to pursue accountability in Georgia’s elections and integrity in the process of maintaining our voting rolls.
  121. Abrams and Democrat Andrew Gillum of Florida both lost battles for governor by a narrow margin. Abrams would have been the first black woman governor in the country, and Gillum Florida’s first black governor.
  122. On Wednesday, in an interview with the Daily Caller, Trump renewed his call for national voter ID laws, falsely claiming, “If you buy a box of cereal, you have a voter ID.”
  123. Trump also complained, without providing evidence, about illegal voting in Florida, and stated that Democrats “sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again.”
  124. Trump also bragged about his victory in Florida in 2016, saying “the panhandle was so devastating to ‘Crooked Hillary’…And I won by, you know, I won by a lot of votes. I call it four Yankee stadiums.”
  125. When asked about Whitaker, Trump changed the subject to Mueller, saying “He’s heading this whole big thing; he’s not Senate confirmed.” The special counsel is not a position that requires senate confirmation.
  126. Trump also falsely claimed of Mueller’s team, “You have 17 people — half, many of them worked for Hillary Clinton, some on the foundation.” No members worked for Clinton, and just one was connected to the Clinton Foundation.
  127. Trump also warned, without evidence, that violent leftists and Antifa members may “mobilize,” saying it would mean “big trouble,” and the left “better hope that the opposition to Antifa decides not to mobilize.”
  128. On Tuesday, CNN sued the Trump regime, asking a court to restore Jim Acosta’s White House press pass, alleging violations of the First Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, and the Administrative Procedure Act.
  129. On Wednesday, the deputy assistant attorney general representing the regime said in court that Trump could bar “all reporters” from the White House for any reason he sees fit, saying there is no First Amendment right.
  130. On Wednesday, Fox News filed an amicus brief in support of CNN, saying “passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized,” adding “we do support a free press, access and open exchanges.”
  131. On Friday, in a win for CNN, the federal judge ruled that Trump must immediately restore Acosta’s White House pass.
  132. Later Friday, press secretary Sarah Sanders her team is working on establishing “standard practices” for reporters for future press briefings, saying “we’ll see how long that process takes.”
  133. Sanders also said “I think the very basic minimum is that if certain reporters like Jim Acosta can’t be adults, then CNN needs to send somebody in there who can be.”
  134. On Thursday, NBC News reported the White House is looking for ways to expel Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, in order to appease Turkish President Recep Erdogan, who views Gulen as an enemy.
  135. Last month, the Trump regime asked federal law enforcement agencies to examine legal ways of remove Gulen, in order to persuade Erdogan to ease pressure on the Saudi government over the death of Jamal Khashoggi.
  136. The regime had the DOJ and FBI reopen Turkey’s case for his extradition, and asked Homeland Security for information about Gulen’s legal status. Career officials at the agencies pushed back at the White House.
  137. Gulen has lived in the U.S. for almost two decades under a Green Card and denies any involvement in the failed coup in Turkey. The White House made requests after Secretary of State Pompeo returned from Riyadh.
  138. This marks the second time the Trump regime has re-examined extraditing Gulen. The first took place under the former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, whose ties to Turkey were investigated in the Mueller probe.
  139. On Friday, WAPO reported that the CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of Khashoggi, in contrast to the Saudi government’s claim he was not involved.
  140. CIA officials said they have high confidence in their assessment after examining multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call between the prince’s brother and Khashoggi, and an audio recording from inside the Saudi consulate.
  141. Over the past weeks, the Saudis have offered multiple explanations for the killing, then last week a Saudi prosecutor charged 11 alleged Saudi participants and said he would seek the death penalty against five of them.
  142. Trump has avoided pinning the blame on the Crown Prince, who is a close friend of Jared Kushner, despite seeing evidence. This week the Treasury Department sanctioned 17 individuals involved in Khashoggi’s death.
  143. On Friday, portions of a “Fox News Sunday” interview of Trump were released. The host, Chris Wallace, said after interviewing Trump he does not think there is a chance he will sit for an interview with Mueller.
  144. Wallace noted Trump makes a big point of emphasizing that he “wrote the questions and then they were edited by the lawyers,” and that Trump spent several hours this week, including Monday, with his lawyers.
  145. Trump uncharacteristically admitted he had made a mistake, saying he “should have” visited Arlington National Cemetery for Veterans Day ceremonies on Monday, adding, “I was extremely busy on calls for the country.”
  146. Trump told Wallace the regime is going to “create rules and regulations for conduct…We’re doing that,” and if Acosta “misbehaves” at a future press conference “we’ll throw him out or we’ll stop the news conference.”
  147. When Wallace asked Trump whether he agrees that climate change may have contributed to the fires in California, Trump said, “Maybe it contributes a little bit. The big problem we have is management.”
  148. Trump again blamed poor forest management for the wildfires, telling Wallace “I’ve really learned a lot,” and if the forest areas had been raked out “you wouldn’t have the fires.”
  149. As of Friday, at least 71 were dead and more than 1,000 listed as missing in California’s deadliest and most destructive fire. Nearly 10,000 homes have been destroyed.
  150. On Saturday, speaking to reporters, Trump blamed California’s forest management for the wildfires as he left for California, “We will be talking about forest management…It should have been a lot different situation.”
  151. Trump added, “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor.” Trump has gone back and forth from praising to criticizing fire fighters this week.
  152. Trump also told reporters he is prepared to shut down the federal government next month if Congress failsto give him the money he wants to build his wall, saying “this would be a good time to do a shutdown.”
  153. Trump invoked the caravan for the first time since the midterms, saying “when you look at the caravan, when you look at the mess, when you look at the people coming in,” to make the case for his wall.
  154. Democrats have accused Trump of using the deployment as a political stunt. The Pentagon plans to recall the troops on December 15 unless Trump extends their “border support” mission.
  155. On Saturday, Trump said he would speak with his appointee, CIA Director Gina Haspel, about Khashoggi’s killing, after telling reporters that morning “we haven’t been briefed yet,” before leaving for California.
  156. Trump was briefed by Haspel and Pompeo on the flight to California. Trump had already been shown evidence of the prince’s alleged involvement in the killing, but has looked for ways not to blame MBS.
  157. WSJ reported that with midterms completed, drug company Pfizer plans to raise prices on 41 drugs in January, after bowing to pressure from Trump over the summer when the company rolled back some increases.
  158. As the week came to a close, the Democratic lead in the U.S. House popular vote moved up to 7.3%. In 2010, widely seen as a GOP “wave” cycle, Republicans won the U.S. House popular vote by 6.6%.
  159. On Saturday, about 25 self-described conservatives, including members of white nationalist groups the Proud Boys and Three Percenters, showed up for what had been billed a “We the People” rally at Independence Mall in Philadelphia.
  160. Hundreds of counter-protesters showed up to protest fascism and hate. For weeks, the event has attracted intense reaction online due to comments made or shared on social media.
  161. The rally location was close to historic Congregation Mikveh Israel synagogue, where 35 people were worshiping at the regular weekly Shabbat service in progress, in what person said was “in defiance.”
  162. At the rally, multiple fights erupted between counter-protestors and white supremacist group the Proud Boys. At least four people were arrested near Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center.