Week 77 of this regime: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
May 5, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-77-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-f847ed1b1a87
Have we normalized that Trump lies to the American people? That was a central question after Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani publicly contradicted recent statements by Trump and the White House, saying Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen for a $130,000 payment to silence Stephanie Clifford, made days before the 2016 election. According to The Washington Post, Trump has told over 3,000 false or misleading statements since taking office.
This week we learned that Trump had himself dictated the medical letter used during his campaign, and as his White House doctor exited in disgrace, questions surfaced about access to accurate information about Trump’s health — another broken norm. This was another week plagued by resignations, attacks on our institutions and norms, and our values. The morning after Giuliani’s bombshell disclosure, Trump signed an executive order at the National Day of Prayer eliminating a boundary between religious groups and government.
Photo by Lois Brunet in Paris, France on May 3, 2018
for the second time,Trump skipped the White House Correspondents Dinner (WHCD). The last US leader to skip the dinner was Ronald Reagan, shortly after he was shot in an assassination attempt. Instead,
Trump held a rally in Washington Township, Michigan, delivering an 80-minute campaign-style speech, full of factually incorrect and dystopian statements, including, “We have the worst laws anywhere in the world,” and “We don’t have borders.” During his speech,
Trump asked, “Any Hispanics in the room?” The crowd booed, then Trump continued “Naw, not so many? That’s OK,” before repeating his demand for a border wall. Trump also continued
his attacks on Sen. Jon Tester: “I know things about the senator I can say, too. If I said them, he would never be elected again,” as well as attacks on James Comey: “He is a liar and a leaker.” On Sunday and Monday,
Trump attacked the WHCD, tweeting the dinner “is DEAD as we know it,” saying it “was a total disaster and an embarrassment to our great Country,” and, “FAKE NEWS is alive and well.” A tree
gifted to Trump by Macron last week, and planted together by the two men on the White House lawn, disappeared. The sapling was taken from the site of a World War One battle in north-east France, and Macron said should serve as reminder of “these ties that bind us”. On Monday,
WAPO reported Trump has made 3,001 false or misleading claims in the 466 days since he took office, averaging 6.5 claims a day. On Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria visited the White House. Both leaders tried to avoid conflict over Trump’s “shithole countries” comment.
Trump said, “You do have some countries that are in very bad shape and very tough places to live in.” Trump stirred controversy, saying, “We have had
very serious problems with Christians who are being murdered in Nigeria,” ignoring the deaths of Muslims. A Muslim rights groups claimed, Trump “is luring Nigerian Christians into bolder confrontation with Muslims”.
Intercept reported that since Trump took office, from January 2017 to November 2017, Muslim refugee admissions dropped by 94%, from 50% of all refugees to just 10%. Even while the Supreme Court considers Trump’s Travel Ban, the regime is taking other steps.
US embassies have been ordered to intensify their screening process to identify “populations warranting increased scrutiny.” Trump’s
Department of Homeland Security has explored surveillance software and social media screening that could be used to profile Muslims and other minorities. In February, the DHS established a National Vetting Center to identify terrorists and criminals, which has also sounded alarms about surveillance. Patrick Little,
an extremist who has called for the country to be “free from Jews,” and who is backed by David Duke and other far-right extremists, could be the Republican candidate who will face Sen. Dianne Feinstein in November.
Army Times reported the Army is investigating the 101st Airborne chaplains over allegations that without providing any reason, they ended Friday night Shabbat services for Jewish soldiers and their families. On Tuesday, despite
Trump’s vows to keep them out and calling up the National Guard, US officials started allowing in caravan members who are seeking asylum from brutal violence in countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, bowing to US and international law. On Wednesday,
Jeff Sessions said 35 assistant US attorneys and 18 immigration judges would be sent to the southern border to allow for more cases to be brought against illegal crossings and human smuggling. On Friday,
US border officers granted entry to the last 83 of the 288 caravan members. Concern grew that asylum seekers would be detained indefinitely, or that children would be separated from their parents. On Friday,
Trump’s DHS ended temporary protection status for 57,000 Hondurans in the US since 1999. This follows the regime ending protections for 200,000 Salvadorans, 50,000 Haitians, and 9,000 Nepalis. On Wednesday, at an event in Arizona,
Vice President Pence praised Sheriff Joe Arpaio as a “great friend” of Trump and a “tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law.” On Tuesday, Jacob Scott Goodwin, 23,
one of the white supremacists who viciously beat a black man in a parking garage in Charlottesville during last year’s “Unite the Right” rally, was found guilty of malicious wounding. On Wednesday, Iowa’s Republican controlled legislature fast-tracked a bill that
would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically around six weeks, sending what could be the nation’s most restrictive legislation to the governor. On Friday, in what the
Iowa Starting Line described as “A Dark Day in Iowa,” Governor Kim Reynolds signed the bill, banning nearly all abortions in Iowa.
AP reported after two Native American teen brothers visiting Colorado State University arrived 30 minutes late and joined for a campus tour underway, a parent called the campus police to report feeling “nervous” about their presence.
Campus police patted down the teens and released them only after they provided an email proving they had reserved spots on the tour. The school apologized to the boys’ family and issued a letter to the student body.
BuzzFeed reported Sessions’ Justice Department overhauled its manual for federal prosecutors: a section titled “Need for Free Press and Public Trial” was removed, as were references to the department’s work on racial gerrymandering. New sections include
Sessions’ focus on religious liberty and the Trump regime’s efforts to crack down on government leaks. Also added are admonishments not to share classified information and directing prosecutors to report contacts with the media. On Monday,
Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control, asked to have his salary reduced after Sen. Patty Murray sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, questioning why Redfield’s $375,000 annual compensation is more than double that of his predecessor. On Monday,
Reuters reported the Environmental Protection Agency granted Trump ally Carl Icahn’s company, CVR Energy, a waiver which will allow it to avoid tens of millions of dollars in costs related to the US Renewable Fuel Standard program.
Foreign Policy reported that 38 US ambassadorship positions remain unfilled by Trump, leaving the State Department to rely on lower-level officials to pick up the slack, even in embassies of strategic importance.
Unfilled US ambassadorships include hot spots and key allies such as South Korea, Turkey, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and the European Union. On Tuesday,
The Wichita Eagle reported that Kansas lawmakers abandoned a plan to force Kris Kobach to pay contempt of court charges out of his own pocket, meaning Kobach will be able to use state monies. On Tuesday,
California and 17 other states sued the Trump regime, saying Scott Pruitt’s EPA acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” in changing course on greenhouse gas regulations related to auto emissions. On Thursday, as the position of VA Secretary remained vacant and
now without a nominee from Trump, a key healthcare program, Veterans Choice Program, will run out of money in the coming weeks.
Michael Stoker, credited with coining the “Lock her up” chant, was nominated by Trump to lead the EPA’s San Francisco-based regional office, a long-open vacancy. The regime has struggled to find people interested in taking the appointment. On Sunday,
Politico reported Ronny Jackson will not return to his role as White House physician. On Monday, deputy press secretary
Raj Shah said, “Despite published reports, there are no personnel announcements at this time,” and that Jackson “is currently on active duty, assigned to the White House.” On Monday, CNN reported
Vice President Pence’s doctor alerted White House aides that Jackson may have violated federal privacy protections for Pence’s wife, Karen, and intimidated the doctor in confrontations about the violation last fall. On Friday,
Jennifer Pena, the White House physician assigned to Vice President Pence, resigned.
NBC News reported Trump’s former personal doctor for more than 35 years, Dr. Harold Bornstein, said his offices were raided by Keith Schiller, a Trump lawyer, and a third man in February 2017. At the time, Schiller was director of Oval Office operations at the White House. All medical records were removed.
The raid took place two days after Bornstein told a newspaper he had prescribed hair growth medicine for Trump. Bornstein said he felt “raped, frightened and sad.”
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On Tuesday, Bornstein told CNN that
Trump dictated the glowing letter he issued about Trump’s health, “(Trump) dictated the letter and I would tell him what he couldn’t put in there.” On Monday,
Thomas Homan, Trump’s nominee in November to lead ICE, said he would retire in June after a tumultuous tenure as the agency’s acting director. Homan never had a confirmation hearing. On Monday night,
Nino Perrotta, head of Pruitt’s security team who led his 24-hour detail, resigned. Perrotta is set to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. On Monday,
Albert Kelly, a top aide in charge of Superfund sites, also resigned. Kelly is a former banker from Oklahoma who was banned from the industry for life by the FDIC . Last week, lawmakers asked Pruitt to order Kelly to testify before their committee. On Thursday, Liz Bowman, the top public affairs official at the EPA, became
the third top EPA official to resign during the week. Sam Clovis, former co-chairman on the Trump campaign then nominated to and withdrew from a USDA undersecretary role by Trump,
resigned from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. On Friday,
two top FBI aides who worked alongside Comey resigned: James Baker and Lisa Page. Although they came the same day, their resignations were not related.
Baker was one of Comey’s closest confidants. Baker was the FBI’s top lawyer until December 2017, when he was reassigned by FBI director Christopher Wray. Baker has been investigated by the Justice Department on suspicion of sharing classified information with reporters.
Page advised Comey, while serving under his then deputy, Andrew McCabe. She advised FBI leadership on Comey’s decision to hold a news conference to announce the bureau was recommending Hillary Clinton face no charges. On Monday, Kevin Chmielewski, a whistleblower from the EPA told ABC News
Pruitt was “bold-faced” lying in his congressional hearing when he said no EPA employees faced retaliation for raising concerns about his spending decisions.
WAPO reported that shortly after he took office, Pruitt came up a list of at least a dozen countries he wanted to visit, and asked aides to help him find official reasons to travel to each. Pruitt then
recruited friends and political allies to help make the trips happen, raising ethical concerns. So far, Pruitt has travelled to Italy and Morocco, and canceled trips to Australia, Japan, and Israel. On Tuesday,
WAPO reported Richard Smotkin, a former Comcast lobbyist who has known Pruitt for years, helped arrange Pruitt’s controversial trip to Morocco in December 2017. Records obtained by
WAPO show the visit’s cost exceeded $100,000, more than twice what was previously reported. Pruitt was accompanied by eight staffers and his round-the-clock security detail. In April, Smotkin
won a $40,000-a-month contract, retroactive to January, with the Moroccan government to promote the kingdom’s interests. Smotkin registered recently as a foreign agent representing Morocco. On Thursday,
The Atlantic reported Michael Abboud, a member of Pruitt’s press team, shopped negative stories about Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to multiple outlets in order to divert attention away from Pruitt. CNN calculated that during Pruitt’s 2010 campaign for Oklahoma attorney general and 2014 re-election campaign,
he reimbursed himself for nearly $65,000 of expenses without proper documentation.
Politico reported Michael Roman, a longtime opposition researcher who served in the White House as a special assistant to Trump, resigned. Roman acted as a right-hand man to White House counsel Don McGahn. On Monday, the cover story for Trump ally David Pecker’s
,” with a subhead reading: “Payoffs and threats exposed.” National Enquirer targeted Michael Cohen, trumpeting, “Trump Fixer’s Secrets & Lies On Tuesday, CNN asked Cohen
whether he thought a message was being sent by the story’s publication, and he responded, “What do you think?” On Monday, ABC News reported that the
Trump campaign has spent nearly $228,000 to cover some of the legal defense expenses for Cohenbetween October 2017 and January 2018, possibly violating campaign finance laws. On Monday,
Stephanie Clifford filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump, alleging he attempted to tarnish her reputation by dismissing her account of a man who threatened her in 2011, tweeting the composite sketch was “a total con job.” On Wednesday,
the lawyer for Summer Zervos subpoenaed Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which owns archives of “The Apprentice,” and the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Zervos says Trump groped her, seeking records to prove that he defamed her. On Monday,
Sen. John McCain released a new book, saying Trump’s“reality show facsimile of toughness” matters more to him than the nation’s values, and comparing the actions of our government under Trump to “crimes of despotic ones.” On Monday,
hours before tariffs on steel and aluminum were scheduled to take effect against Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Brazi,l and the EU, the Trump regime announced it would hold off until at least June 1. Sen. Marco Rubio told the
Economist that the GOP tax law was a boon to big corporations only saying, “there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.” On Tuesday, former HHS Secretary Tom Price said at the World Health Care Congress that
the Republicans repeal of the individual mandate “will harm” people insured through Obamacare because of higher cost. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted the Obama Administration “has long been asking for three hostages to be released from a North Korean Labor camp, but to no avail.”
This is false. Two of the three were arrested after Trump took office.
The Guardian reported the government of Qatar bought a $6.5 million apartment in New York’s Trump World Tower on January 17, soon after an emoluments lawsuit was thrown out on December 21, 2017. On Thursday, AT&T and Time Warner said in a court filing said
they were the victims of differential treatment by the DOJ from other similar transactions. Trump’s DOJ has demanded they sell off networks including CNN. On Thursday,
ProPublica reported Jared Kushner’s ethics disclosure forms have been updated at least 40 times, most recently for misstating financials on two Brooklyn loans. For one of the Brooklyn projects,
215 Moore Street, BofI Federal Bank took over the mortgage, as the bank did for another Kushner Cos. project in New Jersey. BofI Federal Bank faced a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation last year. On Thursday, New York State Supreme Court Judge Eileen Bransten ruled that a condominium on the Upper West Side
could remove the bronze letters that spell T-R-U-M-P from the building. On Thursday,
House Chaplain Patrick Conroy rescinded his resignation and vowed to stay until the end of the year, saying in a letter that there was no just cause for him to be ousted from the position.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY February 2018
Speaker Paul Ryan reversed his position and said Conroy will remain. Ryan claimed his original rationale was questioning whether Conroy was delivering sufficient “pastoral services” to the entire House.
Trump’s delegation to Beijing left with scant progress in trade talks. China’s President Xi and Vice President Wang refused to meet with the US delegation which included Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Lighthizer. On Monday,
Paul Manafort asked a judge to investigate who is leaking nonpublic and possibly classified information about his case to the media, saying the leaks interfere with his right to a free trial and may violate grand jury secrecy rules. The
Atlantic reported the DCCC said it is pledging not to use “illegally stolen and hacked materials” against Republicans in any campaigns in the midterms. The NRCC has so far declined to match that commitment. On Monday,
NYT reported Mueller has 49 questions on an array of subjects he wants to ask Trump about his ties to Russia and to determine whether he obstructed the inquiry itself.
The questions chiefly deal with Trump’s firing of Comey and Michael Flynn, his treatment of Sessions, and the June 9 Trump Tower meeting. They also deal with Trump’s business dealings, including his knowledge of Cohen’s discussions on a Moscow deal. Questions also include
Jared’s attempt to set up back channel communications with Russia; whether Trump had contact with Roger Stone about the DNC hacking; and Trump’s 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant.
Mueller is also seeking information on what Trump knew about a potential pardon for Flynn, and what Trump knew about campaign aides, including the former chairman Manafort, reaching out for assistance from Moscow. In January, John Dowd gave Mueller written explanations for a short list of questions, but in early March, Mueller said he needed to interview Trump. When
Mueller’s team gave a revised longer list, it cemented Dowd’s view Trump should not sit for an interview. Dowd resigned shortly after. On Monday,
WAPO reported that members of the Trump-allied conservative House Freedom Caucus have drafted a one-page articles of impeachment against Rod Rosenstein. The draft relates to a
dispute with Rosenstein over requests for documents about the decisions and behavior of federal law enforcement in the Russia probe and other probes, including Hillary Clinton’s email server. On Tuesday,
Trump tweeted, “So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were “leaked” to the media. No questions on Collusion.” This is false. There were more than a dozen on collusion.
Trump also tweeted, “you have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information,” and “It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!” On Tuesday, at the Newseum, Rosenstein was asked about the draft articles of impeachments and responded, “
I think they should understand by now that the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.”
Rosenstein also said he would not comment on documents “that nobody has the courage to put their name on,” adding the threats would not change his behavior. On Wednesday, Trump joined the House conservatives,
tweeting the legal system was “rigged,” and threatening, “At some point I will have no choicebut to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!” On Wednesday, the
Justice Department denied a request by the House Freedom Caucus to view an unredacted version of the August memosigned by Rosenstein, saying turning over the memo would “threaten the integrity” of Mueller investigation. On Tuesday,
WAPO reported on a tense March 5 meeting, at which Trump’s lawyers told Mueller that Trump had no obligation to speak with federal investigators, and Mueller responded he could subpoena Trump to appear before a grand jury.
This was the first mention of a subpoena. Dowd reportedly responded, “This isn’t some game. You are screwing with the work of the president of the United States.” After the meeting, Mueller’s team agreed to provide more information about the subjects prosecutors wanted to discuss with Trump,
from which Jay Sekulow compiled a list of 49 questions he believed Trump would be asked. On Tuesday, the special counsel office and Flynn
agreed to delay Flynn’s sentencing for another 60 days, on top of the original 90 days extension, saying the delay was necessary “due to the status” of the investigation. On Tuesday,
Jill Stein said her campaign would only provide some of the documents requested by the Senate Intelligence Committee about her campaign’s contact with Russians, saying the request was too broad. On Wednesday, Trump hired Emmet Flood, who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment,
signaling Trump advisers do not see the Mueller probe ending soon, and are worried about Democrats taking control of the House in November. Flood also worked for George W. Bush to fend off congressional investigators. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “Emmet Flood will be joining the
White House staff to represent the president and the administration against the Russia witch hunt.” Flood will
replace Ty Cobb who had tried to convince Trump that cooperating would bring the Mueller probe to an end. Flood is expected to take a much more adversarial approach. On Wednesday, former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo slammed the Senate Intelligence Committee for its
Russia probe which he said had cost him $125,000 in legal fees and is forcing him to relocate to pay off legal fees. On Wednesday,
NYT reported while Manafort faces US charges for money laundering and financial fraud related to his work in Ukraine, in Ukraine, four cases against him have been effectively frozen. The decision to halt the investigations was handed down to an anti-corruption prosecutor, and
coincided with the Trump regime finalizing plans to sell Ukraine sophisticated anti-tank missiles. Additionally, Ukrainian law enforcement
allowed a possible witness of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to leave for Russia. Ukrainian politicians have reportedly concluded that any help prosecuting Manafort could bring down Mr. Trump’s wrath.
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NYT reported the Russian oligarch who was reported in Week 73 to be stopped by Mueller’s team as he stepped off his private plane when it landed at a New York area airport was Viktor Vekselberg. Federal agents questioned Vekselberg and searched his electronic devices.
Vekselberg attended Trump’s inauguration, as well as the 2015 in Russia where Michael Flynn and Jill Stein sat at Putin’s table. RT dinner
Vekselberg controls a company that has been the largest single shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus. At the time Vekselberg’s company was making the investment, Wilbur Ross was its vice chairman.
Vekselberg, a native of Ukraine, is believed to have a favorable relation with Putin, and is one of the Russian oligarchs on the recent sanction list. He also has long-running business ties to the US. On Friday, the House Intelligence Committee released a newly unredacted section of its final Russia report detailing testimony from Comey and McCabe. Per the report,
McCabe said the two agents who interviewed Michael Flynn “didn’t think he was lying.” On Friday, CNN reported that Rep. Devin Nunes, after months of demanding an
unredacted version of a document from the Justice Department explaining how the Russia investigation began in 2016, has not read the document. On Wednesday, on Fox News’ “Hannity,” Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani gave a wide-ranging interview.
Giuliani revealed Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford, contradicting recent prior statement by both Trump and the White House.
Giuliani told Hannity the $130,000 reimbursement “is going to turn out to be perfectly legal. That money was not campaign money,” adding they “funneled it through a law firm and the president repaid it.” Later in the interview,
Giuliani said Trump “didn’t know about the specifics of [the payment] as far as I know,” but Trump “did know about the general arrangement that Michael would take care of things like this.” Also in the interview,
Giuliani said Trump fired Comey because “Comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn’t a target of the investigation.”
Giuliani attacked Comey, saying he should be prosecuted and calling him a “disgraceful liar” and a “very perverted man,” and said, “every FBI agent in America has his head down because of you.” Giuliani called
Hillary “a criminal,” saying, “she should go to jail. I do not know why the Justice Department is not investigating her,” adding, “Comey fixed the whole case.”
Giuliani however warned Mueller to not go after Ivanka, “Ivanka Trump? I think I would get on my charger and go ride into their offices with a lance,” adding “If they go after her, the whole country will turn on them. When asked about Jared, who has testified in the Mueller probe,
Giuliani said, Giuliani called him a “fine man,” but said, “men are disposable.” Giuliani said of the
Mueller probe, “This has become a witch hunt like the president said. And if you look at the questions that are being asked, they’re trap questions. A first-year prosecutor would do better than that.” Giuliani attacked the Department of Justice, saying the department under
Sessions is “completely unhinged and out of control. It breaks my heart” adding on Trump’s view of Sessions: he “isn’t that he’s angry, he’s heartbroken. He never expected this from Jeff. After attacking both Sessions and Rosenstein, Giuliani said, “The two of them can redeem themselves…
They should order the investigation over,” adding “the whole investigation was totally unnecessary.” Giuliani also referred to the
FBI agents who searched Cohen’s home, office and hotel room as “storm troopers.” Late Wednesday, Giuliani told the
WSJ that Trump authorized him to announce the reimbursement after a discussion last week, saying Trump told him he was “very pleased…We finally got our side of the story.” Late Wednesday, Giuliani told
BuzzFeed that Cohen “had complained to some people” after the 2016 election that he’d not been fully paid by Trump. Cohen later reportedly met with Trump about the matter. According to Giuliani,
Trump told Cohen, “We’ll cover your expenses,” and agreed to pay him $35,000 a month “out of his personal funds” over the course of a year-long period that began in the first few months of 2017. On Wednesday,
Caputo told CNN about being interviewed in the Mueller probe: “they are still really focused on Russia collusion. They know more about the Trump campaign than anyone who ever worked there.” Caputo also said of the Mueller probe, “The Senate and the House are net fishing.
The special counsel is spearfishing. They know what they are aiming at and are deadly accurate.” On Thursday, Trump, in a series of tweets,
acknowledged the payment to Stephanie Clifford, saying a non-disclosure agreement was “used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair.”
Contrary to his prior statement that he knew nothing of the payment, Trump tweeted these agreements are “very common among celebrities and people of wealth,” adding he “played no roll in this transaction” — misspelling the word “role.” Trump also tweeted
Cohen “received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign,” adding “money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction.” Shortly after,
George Conway, husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, tweeted out a section of the campaign finance lawwhich indicates the payment would be subject to the law, and should have been reported. On Thursday, at the National Day of Prayer,
Trump announced an executive order which would establish a new faith-based office to expand government grants to and partnerships with religiously-affiliated groups. At the ceremony,
Trump said he was responsible for people saying “Merry Christmas” more, and people talking more openly about prayer. Since Trump took office, the position of director of the White House faith-based office has been vacant.
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Trump has expanded White House access for conservative Christians — evangelicals, in particular, and also Catholics who are alarmed by the issues like gay rights, and seek to promote conservative religious rights. On Thursday, Giuliani appeared on “Fox & Friends,” saying
Trump didn’t know the details of the payment to Clifford, “$135,000 seems like a lot of money. It’s not when you are putting $100 million into your campaign.” Giuliani said the payment was not political for Trump,
saying Trump “had been hurt personally — not politically, personally — and the first lady by some of the false allegations, that one more false allegation, six years old.” Giuliani said
politics was behind the payment by Cohen, “Imagine if that came out on Oct. 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton … Cohen didn’t even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.” On Thursday, Mueller’s team
requested an additional 70 blank subpoenas ahead of their trial against Manafort in Alexandria, Virginia, where Manafort faces several charges, including bank fraud. On Thursday,
WAPO reported that McGahn, John Kelly, Sanders, and Flood were not aware of Giuliani’s strategy, or did they know that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 paid to Stephanie Clifford.
The shifting story left Trump’s White House in turmoil again. WAPO noted, “It has become standard operating procedure for Trump and his aides to deceive the public with false statements and shifting accounts.” Giuliani told
WAPO he discussed the issue with Trump a few days ago and claimed they agreed to get in front of the narrative by releasing the story publicly: “I saw the opportunity, I was going to get this over with.”
Stephen Ryan, Cohen’s attorney, has been aware of the payment for weeks or months, but didn’t share it because Cohen did not want to appear to be contradicting Trump’s denial in early April. On Thursday, NBC News reported
Cohen’s phones were being wiretapped by federal investigators. The story was later corrected. On Thursday, when asked for his reaction, Giuliani told
The Hill of the federal investigators in the Cohen case that Sessions should “step in, in his role as defender of justice, and put these people under investigation.” Later Thursday, NBC News
corrected their earlier reporting, saying Cohen’s phone logs were being monitored, not wiretapped where investigators listen in. At least one phone call between Cohen and the White House was logged.
The monitoring of Cohen’s phones was in place in the weeks leading up to the raids on Cohen’s offices, hotel room and home. It is not yet known when the monitoring was originally authorized. On Friday,
Trump slammed NBC News, tweeting “NBC NEWS is wrong again!” adding “They cite “sources” which are constantly wrong….they are fabricated, fiction!” and saying, “now as bad as Fake News CNN. Sad!” On Friday, Giuliani told NBC News in a telephone interview that
Trump wasn’t aware of the payment to Clifford until recently, saying Trump responded, “Oh my goodness, I guess that’s what it was for.” Giuliani said Trump was subsequently on board with the decision to go public, saying, “
You’re not going to see daylight between the president and me. We’re going to work hard to have a consistent strategy.” On Friday, Trump told reporters
Giuliani needed more time to “get his facts straight,” adding “virtually everything said has been said incorrectly,” and noting Giuliani “just started a day ago.” On Friday,
Giuliani released a cryptic statement clarifying his remarks and trying to walk back his claim Trump had repaid Cohen, saying, “My references to timing were…my understanding of these matters.” On Friday,
WAPO reported that press secretary Sanders has told colleagues the Giuliani interview left her in an untenable position. The interview was the first she heard of Trump reimbursing Cohen.
Sanders responded to reporters, “I’ve given the best information I had at the time,” six times when pressed with questions, also answering, “Some information I am aware of, and some I’m not.” Sanders does not have the personal access to Trump that Hope Hicks enjoyed. Although combative with reporters in public,
Sanders is largely regarded as more pleasant and helpful behind the scenes. On Friday,
NYT reported Trump had known about the payment to silence Stephanie Clifford at least several months before he told reporters aboard Air Force One that he had no knowledge of it. On Friday,
WSJ reported according to public records, Cohen gained access to as much as $774,000 through two financial transactions during the 2016 presidential campaign. Giuliani said this week Cohen had resolved problems for Trump beyond Clifford.
Cohen gained access to $529,000 through a new mortgage cosigned by him and his wife on a condominium owned by her parents at Trump World Tower and an additional $245,000 by nearly doubled the amount he could borrow under his bank credit line tied to his Manhattan apartment.
Federal investigators are examining whether Cohen committed bank fraudby making false statements inflating the value of his assets to obtain loans or by misstating the intended purpose of the loans.
Giuliani said this week that Trump had reimbursed Cohen for the Clifford payment through a $35,000-a-month retainer. On Friday, Giuliani said Trump would have done this whether he was running for office or not.
Dallas Morning News reported guns will be banned for appearances by both Pence and Trump at the upcoming National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas. On Friday, at the NRA convention,
Pence urged state and local leaders to allow qualified school personnel to carry concealed firearms, saying,“The quickest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” On Air Force One on the way to the convention,
Trump told reporters the NRA is a “great organization that loves this country.” Trump also said he has a “record crowd” attending the convention. Trump went off script
to ridicule former Secretary of State John Kerry : “not the best negotiator we’ve ever seen. He never walked away from the table except to be in that bicycle race where he fell and broke his leg. On Wednesday,
18 House Republicans and five running for Congress nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to get North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear weapons program. On Friday, federal judge T.S. Ellis expressed skepticism about Mueller team’s bank fraud case against Manafort,
saying prosecutors’ interest in Manafort was to provide material that would lead to Trump’s “prosecution or impeachment.” Ellis repeated this suspicion several times, and suggested the charges brought by Mueller’s team in Virginia were
designed to pressure Manafort into giving information on Trump or others in the campaign. Ellis mimicked a prosecutor, saying
they weren’t interested in material that didn’t “further our core effort to get Trump” — saying that is why they moved the Cohen case to New York, but kept the Manafort case in Virginia. Ellis ordered Mueller’s prosecutors
to turn over a full, unredacted version of Rosenstein’s August 2 memo which describes the criminal allegations Mueller’s team can investigate, under seal, in two weeks. On Friday, at the NRA convention,
Trump held up the CNN article. As the crowd booed, Trump said, “they have a headline: ‘Judge in Manafort case says Mueller’s aim is to hurt Trump,’” adding “It’s called the witch hunt.” On Friday,
Trump threatened another immigration fight on the upcoming spending bill, saying at the NRA convention, and repeating a mantra from his campaign speech, “They’re not sending their finest, that I can tell you.” On Friday,
Trump reiterated his battle call on immigration, tweeting, “We are going to demand Congress secure the border in the upcoming CR. Illegal immigration must end!”
New York City February 2018
Week 76 of this dysfunctional regime: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
April 28, 2018
In some ways this week felt normal as leaders of France and Germany visited the White House, and the leaders of North and South Korea met for a historic summit and spoke of the denuclearizing the peninsula. In the days Macron was in America, the country seemed relatively calm with less news breaking and Trump refraining from his typical banter and tweets.
But beneath the veneer, Amid the firing and attempted nominations of top officials, Trump continues to unilaterally pick from a small circle of unqualified sycophants. This week the the dysfunction and chaos of the Trump regime continued. As the week ended, the country endured country was shocked when Speaker Ryan fired the House chaplain for speaking up for the less fortunate — symbolic for Republicans in the era of Trump who have joined in the weekly attacks on “the others” and those who would advocate for them. another fallen norm: a functional House Intelligence Committee.
Photo by Paul Hehn in Portland, Oregon this week.
The National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group, held a rally in Draketown, Georgia on Saturday. Approximately two dozen people participated in the event, which included burning swastikas 12–18 feet high.
On Saturday, Trump said he is considering a posthumous pardon for boxer Jack Johnson at the request of Sylvester Stallone, tweeting of Johnson, “His trials and tribulations were great…I am considering a Full Pardon!”
On Sunday, Trump quoted Fox News, tweeting: “GOP Lawmakers asking Sessions to Investigate Comey and Hillary Clinton,” and adding, “Good luck with that request!”
On Sunday, after Chuck Todd’s show, “Meet the Press,” Trump referred to Todd in a tweet, for a second time, as “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd.” It was noted on social media that “sleepy-eyes” has been used as an anti-Semitic slur.
On Monday, Trump quoted Kim Strassel, a WSJ opinion writer, tweeting, “after reviewing the dumb Comey Memos, ‘you got to ask, what was the purpose of the Special Counsel?’”adding “there’s no there there.’”
Trump also tweeted, “Dan Henninger of the WSJ said Memos would show that this would be one of the weakest obstruction cases ever brought!”
The Trump regime is challenging Native Americans’ historic standing, saying the tribes are a race rather than a separate government, and therefore should not be exempt from Medicaid work requirements.
New York City police searched for man wearing a ‘ Make America Great Again’ hat and t-shirt who made derogatory statements to a 24-year-old Hispanic man and then physically assaulted him on a Manhattan subway.
The co-owner of Grandview Golf Club in Pennsylvania and his son called the police to complain that a group of black women were playing too slowly and refused to leave the course.
The five women golfers, who call themselves Sisters in the Fairway, have been around for over a decade, have golfed around the country and world, and are very familiar with golf etiquette. The golf club apologized.
A senior at Riverview High School in Sarasota, Florida asked a girl to the prom by holding up a sign which read, “If I was black I’d be picking cotton, but I’m white so I’m picking u 4 Prom?”
A newly released report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) found the Trump regime has shown an “unprecedented level of government hostility” towards Muslims.
Of the nearly 2,599 reports of anti-Muslim incidents CAIR received, about 35% involved a government agency. Customs and Border Patrol accounted for 348 of the reported incidents (38% of government agency reports).
On Tuesday, a DC federal judge called the Trump regime’s decision to end the DACA program “virtually unexplained” and therefore “unlawful,” becoming the third judge to rule against the regime’s decision to rescind DACA.
The judge found the decision to phase out the program starting in March “was arbitrary and capricious.” The judge ordered the Trump regime to continue the Obama-era program and re-open it to new applicants.
On Friday, Oklahoma’s House of Representatives approved a measure that would allow adoption and foster care agencies to reject same-sex couples on religious grounds.
A new in-depth study released by University of Pennsylvania political scientist Diana Mutz examining data from 2012 to 2016 revealed a growing body of evidence that the 2016 election was not about economic hardship.
Mutz found “ dominant groups that felt threatened by change” voted for Trump and he took advantage of the trend. Mutz noted “For the first time since Europeans arrived in this country,” white Americans are told they will become the minority race.
BuzzFeed reported a TV-station owned by Sinclair Broadcasting fired reporter Suri Crowe after she clashed with station management over refusing to seed doubt about man-made climate change.
Politico reported US colleges are blaming Trump’s immigration policies as for a second year, fewer international students are applying, while countries such as Australia, Canada, Spain and Japan are seeing a spike.
Intercept reported the US Border Patrol has faked statistics to make it appear there was a dramatic increase in assault on agents, up 73% from 2016 to 2017, when in reality, the number of assaults was down.
The Border Patrol has made up cases, like the death of Agent Rogelio Martinez which the FBI ruled was death caused by a fall. The calculation methodology has also changed, so each attack is multiplied agents by number of attacks by number of objects.
On Saturday, NYT reported contrary to Scott Pruitt’s previous statements, he did meet with J. Steven Hart, co-owner of the condominium he rented. The meeting was set up on behalf of an executive associated with Smithfield Foods in 2017.
On Saturday, NYT reported Pruitt’s fancy Oklahoma City home, worth well more than his modest salary could afford, was purchased alongside law school friend, Kenneth Wagner, who now has a top political job at the EPA.
Mortgage financing for the home was provided by a local bank led by Albert Kelly, another business associate of Pruitt. Kelly is now a top aide to Pruitt in the EPA, and runs the agency’s Superfund program.
A school in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where Betsy DeVos suggested teachers needed to be armed to protect children from grizzly bears, voted to arm school employees,who would need at least 24 hours of initial firearms training.
ProPublica reported Devos’ Education Department is considering rolling back Obama-era guidelines which address racial discrimination in school discipline: black students are almost four times as likely to receive an out-of-school suspension.
Devos’ department has already closed 65 discrimination cases without any mandated reform. Hans Bader, an attorney adviser to DeVos, has accused the Obama administration of using disparate impact to create “racial quotas.”
On Tuesday, Pruitt’s EPA proposed a rule that would limit the kinds of scientific research it can use in crafting regulations. The rule would exclude research based on confidential medical and industry data.
Pruitt claimed the measure was a way to boost transparency for the industries the EPA regulates. Experts say the rule is a boon to big business which has long requested this change.
On Tuesday, Mick Mulvaney, director of the OMB and acting director of the CFPB, told 1,300 bankers at an American Bankers Association conference in Washington that when he was in Congress, he would only meet with lobbyists who had contributed to his campaign.
Mulvaney also told the bankers about his plans to reduce the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s power, including cutting public access to the bureau’s database of consumer complaints.
On Wednesday, HUD Secretary Ben Carson proposed far-reaching changes to federal housing subsidies aimed at low-income Americans receiving federal assistance.
Carson’s proposal, part of what the regime has dubbed “ Welfare Reform 2.0,” would triple rent for the poorest households and make it easier for housing authorities to impose work requirements.
HuffPost obtained a draft copy of Jeff Session’s Justice Department’s five-year strategic plan which includes cracking down on undocumented immigrants and security leaks, focusing on campus speech issues, and targeting the MS-13 gang.
Absent from Sessions’ DOJ strategic plan were items focused on during the Obama administration, including civil rights enforcement and criminal justice reform.
According to annual data published Wednesday by US Courts, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court denied more surveillance orders during Trump’s first year than in the court’s 40-year history.
On Sunday, Axios reported there is increasing concern in the White House that Ronny Jackson, Trump nominee for VA secretary, will not get confirmed. Jackson faces skepticism from senators of both parties.
On Monday, when asked about Mike Pompeo’s nomination, press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News that “Democrats have to decide whether they love this country more than they hate” Trump.
On Monday, in a letter to the Senate, 109 retired generals and admirals said they were “deeply troubled” by Trump’s pick of Gina Haspel for CIA director, citing her links to a former US torture program.
On Monday, Trump expressed frustration over the confirmation of his nominees, tweeting “Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against” Pompeo, adding, “The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people.”
Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, has also been held up as Democrats, citing his history of misogynistic statements online and his dismissiveness about Russia meddling in the US election.
Trump nominee Stuart Kyle Duncan was confirmed to the US Fifth Circuit Court, 50–47. Duncan has a disturbing record of anti-LGBTQ advocacy, and has fought his entire career against abortion and voting rights.
On Tuesday, allegations against Jackson publicly surfaced, including drinking while on duty, creating a hostile workplace, and improperlyhanding out prescriptions to staff during trips.
On Tuesday, at a joint news conference with French President Macron, Trump suggested Jackson should drop out, “I said to Dr. Jackson, what do you need it for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians? . . . If I was him . . . I wouldn’t do it.”
On Tuesday, Sen. Jon Tester, ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, told NPR that 20 active duty or former military members had come forward with allegations against Jackson.
On Tuesday, CNN reported that during an overseas trip in 2015, when Jackson was the White House physician, he was intoxicated and banged on the hotel room door of a female employee.
On Wednesday, WAPO reported Jackson has grown frustrated and told colleagues he may withdraw. Later that day, Democrats released a document summarizing interviews of 23 of Jackson’s current and former colleagues alleging professional misconduct.
The reported cites Jackson provided “a large supply” of Percocet to a White House military official that left his staff scrambling to account for the missing drugs, and that Jackson got intoxicated and “wrecked a government vehicle.” Jackson denied all allegations.
On Thursday, Washington Examiner reported more than a half-dozen veterans groups expressed frustration, saying they were never contactedby the White House or VA officials in the lead up to Jackson’s nomination.
Photo by Paul Hehn in Portland, Oregon this week.
On Thursday, Jackson withdrew from consideration for VA nominee, thanking Trump and saying in a statement, “ I did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity.”
On Thursday, Pruitt testified before two House committees about controversial spending and management decisions while heading the EPA. Pruitt accused critics of attacking him in order to derail Trump’s agenda.
Pruitt defended himself on spending, claiming “I was not aware of the amount,” and “I was not aware of the approval,” and said there was “no truth” to charges of retaliation and didn’t recall related conversations.
Pruitt told Congress allegations against him are “fiction,” “lies,” and “half-truths.” He is the subject of at least five investigations into his conduct by agency watchdogs.
On Thursday, after the hearing, California’s AG Xavier Becerra said Pruitt violated impartiality requirements in the rulemaking process over his refusal to recuse himself from the process of repealing a landmark power plant rule.
In his previous job as Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA more than a dozen times to block the Clean Power Plan. Eight other states and the District of Columbia joined Becerra in his letter.
Bryan Rice resigned just six months after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appointed him to lead the Bureau of Indian Affairs, following a negative inspector general report on the reassignment of dozens of senior staff.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is part of the Interior Department and has 8,000 employees and a $2.5 billion annual budget, and handles government relations with more than 500 federally-recognized tribes.
On Thursday, WAPO reported a timeline provided by the FBI to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee revealed Don McGahn first received “derogatory information” about Rob Porter in March 2017.
McGahn has said he was not aware of allegations against Porter until just before they became public, which happened in February 2018. The White House has given shifting stories about what they knew and when.
Also at his joint news conference with Macron Tuesday, Trump brushed a speck of dandruff off Macron’s shoulder, remarking he needed to look “perfect.” Trump also said the US special relationship with France is not “fake news.”
On Wednesday, Macron addressed a joint meeting of the US Congress. Macron criticized Trump’s isolationist principles, and said the US participation in the global community is vital.
Macron was critical of Trump’s opposition to the Paris climate accord — calling for the US to “make our planet great again,” and said Trump’s attacks on international trade agreements was short-sighted.
Macron got a standing ovation when he said we must “protect our democracies” against “ the ever-growing virus of fake news, which exposes our people to irrational fear and imaginary risks.”
On Monday, Robert Mueller’s team defended the search of Paul Manafort’s storage locker, stating prosecutors had the cooperation of an assistant to Manafort, Alexander Trusko, to gain access before the court-ordered search.
CNN reported Trump has been ramping up usage of his personal cell phone to contact outside adviser recently. Sources said that Trump has also used his cell phone for direct outreach to GOP lawmakers.
Experts say Trump’s cell phone usage makes his communications vulnerable to eavesdropping from foreign governments. Also, Trump’s private calls will not be captured for government accountability and history.
Sources say Trump’s cell phone use is also an indication of John Kelly’s waning influence. Corey Lewandowski reportedly bragged of unfettered access, and John Bolton and Larry Kudlow are direct reports to Trump, bypassing Kelly.
On Monday, Bloomberg reported that despite the excuse Trump gave to James Comey, per the Comey memos, that he never spent an overnight in Russia as denial for salacious reports in the dossier about his trip to the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. This is not true.
Flight records obtained, combined with Trump’s social-media posts, show Trump’s jet landed on a Friday, and left pre-dawn on Sunday. Vnukovo airport, where Trump landed, is less than an hour from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
On Tuesday, Daily Beast reported that Thomas Roberts, a former NBC anchor and host of the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, confirmed that Trump did stay overnight in Moscow.
On Thursday, Trump denied he told Comey that he didn’t stay overnight in Moscow, telling “Fox & Friends,” “Of course I stayed there.” Trump added Comey “ didn’t write those memos accurately. He put a lot of phony stuff.”
On Tuesday, TPM reported Comey brought on former US attorney Pat Fitzgerald to represent him as a potential witness in the Mueller probe. Fitzgerald told TPM he has been representing Comey since 2017.
In 2003, when Comey was deputy attorney general, he selected Fitzgerald to run the special counsel to investigate Scooter Libby for disclosure of a CIA employee’s identity. In Week 74, Trump pardoned Libby.
On Tuesday, Christopher Wylie, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, provided a closed-door briefing to the House Judiciary Committee on how the company obtained data on tens of millions of Facebook users.
Not a single Republican on the committee attended the briefing. Wylie told reporters after that he hopes Congress will investigate whether the company, which worked for the Trump campaign, broke US law.
Rev. Patrick Conroy, the 60th Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives, said in a letter that he was fired by Speaker Paul Ryan because of a prayer he offered about the GOP tax bill.
In his speech, Rev. Conroy told House members to “be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle.”
Rev. Conroy told the NYT, “A staffer came down and said, We are upset with this prayer; you are getting too political.” Representatives of both sides expressed outrage about the firing.
In a special election Tuesday, the GOP won an open Congressional seat in Arizona by just 6 points after winning the seat by 37 points in 2016. This follows a trend of Republicans losing support since Trump took office.
On Wednesday, former Sen. Harry Reid broke his silence in an interview with NBC News, saying he is worried US institutions have been “decimated” under Trump, and blaming Republicans for being lax on Russian meddling.
Reid said Trump, Comey, and the Koch brothers are all responsible for the American people not knowing earlier about Russian interference in the US election. Reid said Republicans are scared of the Koch brothers.
On Wednesday, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Sheldon Whitehouse asked eight banks, including Deutsche Bank, for details about accounts, assets or services the banks provided to any of the 96 Russian oligarchs identified by the Treasury Department to have ties to Putin.
On Wednesday, WAPO reported Rudy Giuliani met with Mueller Tuesday to reopen negotiations on the special counsel interviewing Trump. Giuliani conveyed the ongoing resistance of Trump and his advisers to an interview.
Giuliani pressed for clarity on when the probe would wrap up. Mueller reportedly said he is seeking to question Trump about steps he took during the transition and early months of his regime
Vanity Fair reported that, according to sources, Giuliani was the best Trump could do given all better-qualified white-collar defense lawyers who said no. Trump views Giuliani as a marquee name and a vocal advocate.
Trump’s former lead lawyer, John Dowd, said of Giuliani, “I haven’t talked to him yet…I’m not aware of him ever defending a case.” Sources also noted Giuliani was formerly the AG of the Southern District of New York, the jurisdiction where Michael Cohen’s case is being tried.
Mueller also reiterated that an interview is essential for investigators to understand Trump’s intent in making key decisions as they seek to wrap up their investigation of possible obstruction of justice.
On Wednesday, CNN reported dozens of the Russian diplomats expelled last month were suspected spies, believed to have been tracking Russian defectors and their families who had resettled in the US.
That and other US intelligence has raised concerns that Russia was seeking to target Russian émigrés viewed as traitors or enemies of the Kremlin, similar to the former Russian spy and his daughter in the UK.
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 14–7 to advance legislation that would protect Mueller. Committee chair Chuck Grassley said he is working to change Mitch McConnell’s position of not bringing a bill to the floor.
The committee’s legislation would delay any action to fire a special counsel by 10 days, and guarantee the ousted special counsel a chance to have three federal judges swiftly review the decision.
Grassley added an amendment which was adopted by the panel which would require that Congress be notified 30 days in advance of any special counsel being terminated. Four Republicans voted along with Democrats.
On Thursday, a House Judiciary Committee hearing headlined by pro-Trump video-bloggers Diamond and Silk, Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, devolved into yelling and partisan bickering, with the two claiming, “We’ve been censored.”
On Thursday, hours before the hearing on his “Fox & Friends” interview, Trump praised Diamond and Silk as “amazing … beautiful, wonderful women,” and called them “warriors.”
The two said under oath that they weren’t paid. FEC filings reveal the Trump campaign paid the duo $1,275 on November 22, 2016. Richardson called the figures “ fake news.”
On Friday, a federal court in Washington threw out a civil lawsuit by Manafort which challenged Mueller’s authority in the Russia investigation. Manafort’s attorneys also filed lawsuits to dismiss two criminal cases against him.
On Friday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a 250 page-long report on its findings. Partisan bickering led to a total breakdown of the committee, as Devin Nunes re-seized control after being recused months prior.
While the majority report is critical of Russia for meddling in the election, the report questions the Intelligence Committee’s conclusion that the Kremlin wanted Trump to win.
The majority report also accuses the FBI of “significant intelligence tradecraft failings,” echoing charges by Trump that the bureau is inept, biased, and corrupt. The report is also full of strange redactions.
The majority report downplays the outreach of Alexander Nix, then CEO of Cambridge Analytica, to Wikileaks, but found the Trump campaign’s outreach, “highly objectionable and inconsistent with U.S. national security interests.”
Among the revelation in the majority report are that Michael Flynn and his son went to the home of Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak for a private meeting before traveling to Russia in 2015 for a dinner hosted by RT.
The majority report said none of the evidence from testimony pointed to collusion. Democrats cited the uncooperative central witnesses who were not called to task, as well as the 30 plus witnesses they were unable to call.
Trump immediately praised the report, tweeting, “Just Out:…“No evidence” that the Trump Campaign “colluded, coordinated or conspired with Russia.” Clinton Campaign paid for Opposition Research obtained from Russia- Wow! A total Witch Hunt! MUST END NOW!”
On Friday, the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released a report called “Minority View,” citing, “the Committee’s Majority has shattered its commitment by rushing to end its investigation prematurely.”
The Democrat’s report also claims Republicans “ failed to meet the mandate given to the HPSCI” and “engaged in a systematic effort to muddy the waters, and to deflect attention” away from Trump.
Among the revelations in the minority report is that the Agalarovs and Trumps have a relationship dating back to 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and were in regular contact before and after the Trump Tower meeting.
The minority report also points to a strong possibility that Trump himself was communicating with Donald Jr. as he worked to schedule the June 9 Trump Tower meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya.
On Friday, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said House Democrats will continue to investigate alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
On Friday, in an interview with NBC News, Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya acknowledged she was not just a private lawyer, but also a source of information for top Kremlin official, Yuri Chaika, the prosecutor general.
Veselnitskaya has maintained until now that she met with Donald Jr., Jared Kushner, and Manafort on June 9 at Trump Tower in a private capacity, not as a representative of the Russian government.
On Friday, as Trump met with German Chancellor Merkel in the Oval Office, he told reporters, “No collusion…No coordination, no nothing,” adding he was “very honored by the report. It was totally conclusive. Strong. Powerful.”
Trump did remember to shake Merkel’s hand this year, telling reporters, “we actually have had a great relationship right from the beginning,” adding later, “We need a reciprocal relationship, which we don’t have.”
At a joint news conference, Merkel looked perplexed as Trump rambled on about the withdrawal of Ronny Jackson, saying Washington DC can be a “very mean place” and people an be fired “as fast as they fire people in Germany.”
Late Friday evening, Trump again tweeted about the report, after deleting a tweet with a misspelling, calling the investigation a “big Hoax” and “Witch Hunt,” and saying “There should never have been a Special Counsel appointed.”
On Friday, CNN reported the NRA is gathering up documents related to its interactions with the Kremlin-linked banker Alexander Torshin ahead of a possible Congressional investigation.
On Wednesday, Cohen invoked his Fifth Amendment right in federal court in a lawsuit brought by Stephanie Clifford, citing an “ongoing criminal investigation” by the FBI and US Attorney for the SDNY.
In letters to the court filed Wednesday, lawyers for Cohen, Trump, and the Trump Organization asked to review documents seized from Cohen in the FBI raid, adding Trump himself would be available for the review process.
On Thursday, US District Judge Kimba Wood appointed Barbara Jones as special-master to review materials seized from Cohen and determine if they include confidential communications between him and his legal clients, including Trump.
Jones served as a federal judge for 16 years in the SDNY, and was the first woman to lead a federal organized crime task force.
By Teachr1 in Los Angeles, CA – April 7, 2018
On Thursday, New York Post reported feds seized as many as 16 cell phones in the raid of Cohen’s office and hotel room, including two BlackBerrys, suggesting Cohen has been holding on to his devices for many years.
On Thursday, WSJ reported on the relationship between Cohen and Trump, and how hurt Cohen was about Trump leaving him behind in New York after moving to the White House.
Cohen believed he would get a key role, either as a campaign manager after Manafort left, or as chief of staff after Reince Priebus departed. Cohen reportedly told Trump, “Boss, I miss you so much.”
Trump reportedly said of why he didn’t bring Cohen to Washington DC, he’s like a “bull in a china shop,” who when brought in to fix a problem sometimes breaks more china.
Trump has been mean to Cohen in the past, including showing up late for Cohen’s son’s bar mitzvah speech and telling guests he only came after Cohen had repeatedly called him, his secretary, and his children begging him to appear.
Cohen was even kept on the outside at Trump’s inauguration festivities: he and his guests were not given priority access, and Cohen was very hurt. Questions remain as to whether Cohen will remain loyal to Trump.
Since the FBI raid, Cohen has been frequently been seen out on the town at fancy restaurants with friends, smoking cigars, which may be interpreted as an attempt to show he is not frightened by the investigation.
WSJ also reported that privately Cohen has begun complaining to associates, both about being left in New York and about Trump’s failure to repay him for the $130,000 he had drawn off his home-equity line to pay Clifford.
On Thursday, in a rambling 30-minute interview with “Fox & Friends,” Trump said Cohen represented him in silencing Stephanie Clifford: “Michael represents me, like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me,”
In Week 73, Trump denied any knowledge of the $130,000 payment to Clifford arranged by Cohen. Trump’s White House has denied allegations that Trump had an affair with Clifford.
Trump also tried to distance himself from Cohen, saying, “This doesn’t have to do with me. Michael is a businessman…I would say, probably, the big thing is his business. I have nothing to do with his business.”
Trump further tried to distance himself from Cohen, saying “I have so many attorneys you wouldn’t believe,” adding his legal work using Cohen was, “As a percentage of my overall legal work, a tiny, tiny fraction.”
When asked about his alleged ties to Russia on “Fox & Friends,” Trump said he was “very disappointed in my Justice Department,” adding “ I have decided I won’t be involved. I may change my mind at some point.”
Trump threatened the FBI, “ You look at the corruption at the top of the FBI, it’s a disgrace, and our Justice Department — which I try to stay away from, but at some point, I won’t,” adding “ That’s not the FBI. That’s a fix.”
Trump said, “the special counsel — and by the way, and Intelligence Committee and everybody else has found no collusion.” Trump added that the Russia investigation is like a “cloud over my head.”
On Thursday, Sessions, who is recused from the Russia investigation, criticized how long Mueller is taking, saying, “This thing needs to conclude.”
Trump also attacked Sen. Tester on “Fox & Friends” over his passing along concerns of whistleblowers on Jackson, “I want to tell you that Jon Tester — I think this is going to cause him a lot of problems in his state.”
Trump said of Comey, “I did a great thing for the American people by firing him,” adding, “Those memos were about me and they’re phony memos. He didn’t write those memos accurately. He put a lot of phony stuff.”
Trump also repeated his lie about the election, “The Electoral College is set up perfectly for the Democrats and this was an absolute total beating in the Electoral College.” And to rate himself: “I would give myself an A+.”
On Friday, the judge in the Stephanie Clifford’ lawsuit against Trump agreed to delay the case by three months as requested by Cohen, citing a criminal investigation Cohen is facing.
On Thursday, another cache of text messages between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were released to Congress. The cache included messages from December 2016 to May 2017, which were originally thought to be missing.
The messages express dismay over Comey’s firing, and discuss the prospect of working for Mueller. There is also a cryptic text from May: “”We need to open the case we’ve been waiting on now while Andy is acting.”
Page called Trump an “idiot” and “a douche,” among other insults, but also sent insulting texts about Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, and Bernie Sanders. There was no evidence of the “secret society” alleged by Sen. Ron Johnson.
Early Friday morning, Trump again attacked Comey, tweeting, “He illegally leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION,” adding, “He lied all over the place to cover it up. He’s either very sick or very dumb.”
A Pew Research study found the longstanding partisan gap over compromise has disappeared: 46% of Democrats believe elected officials should compromise, down from 69% in 2017 (Republicans at 44%).
Several Republicans embroiled in tough primaries are using Trump’s tactics, using phrases like “drain the swamp,” “build the wall,” and “fake news,” and calling for the jailing of Hillary Clinton and Comey.
A new Quinnipiac poll found 53% believe the Russian government has compromising information about Trump, 35% do not. Only Republicans and white men don’t believe this.
The poll also found 74% say Trump should not fire Mueller (13% disagree), and that 37% of Republican voters say the news media is “an important part of democracy, while 51% says it’s “the enemy of the people.”
On Friday, influential conservative website RedState fired a handful of prominent writers, all of whom were anti-Trump voices.
Brooklyn, New York – February 2018
Jacksonville, Florida – February 2018