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.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 78: NO MORE SEPARATION OF CHURCH & STATE AND 3,000 LIES

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.

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Photo by Lois Brunet in Paris, France on May 3, 2018
  1. On Saturday, 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.”
  6. 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”.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.”
  9. 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”.
  10. 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%.
  11. 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.”
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.”
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. Unfilled US ambassadorships include hot spots and key allies such as South Korea, Turkey, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and the European Union.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. On Sunday, Politico reported Ronny Jackson will not return to his role as White House physician.
  36. 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.”
  37. 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.
  38. On Friday, Jennifer Pena, the White House physician assigned to Vice President Pence, resigned.
  39. 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.
  40. 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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New York City February 2018
  1. 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. On Thursday, Liz Bowman, the top public affairs official at the EPA, became the third top EPA official to resign during the week.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. On Monday, the cover story for Trump ally David Pecker’s National Enquirer targeted Michael Cohen, trumpeting, “Trump Fixer’s Secrets & Lies,” with a subhead reading: “Payoffs and threats exposed.”
  20. 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?”
  21. 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.
  22. 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.”
  23. 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.
  24. 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.”
  25. 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.
  26. 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.”
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
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Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY February 2018
  1. Within hours, 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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!”
  14. 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.”
  15. 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.
  16. 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!”
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.”
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.”
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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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New York City February 2018
  1. On Friday, 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.
  2. Federal agents questioned Vekselberg and searched his electronic devices.Vekselberg attended Trump’s inauguration, as well as the 2015 RT dinnerin Russia where Michael Flynn and Jill Stein sat at Putin’s table.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.”
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.”
  9. 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.”
  10. 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.”
  11. 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.”
  12. 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.”
  13. 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.
  14. When asked about Jared, who has testified in the Mueller probe, Giuliani said, Giuliani called him a “fine man,” but said, “men are disposable.”
  15. 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.”
  16. Giuliani attacked the Department of Justice, saying the department underSessions 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.
  17. 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.”
  18. Giuliani also referred to the FBI agents who searched Cohen’s home, office and hotel room as “storm troopers.”
  19. 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.”
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.”
  23. 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.”
  24. 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.”
  25. 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.”
  26. 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.”
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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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New York City February 2018
  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.”
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.”
  8. 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.”
  9. 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.
  10. On Thursday, NBC News reported Cohen’s phones were being wiretapped by federal investigators. The story was later corrected.
  11. On Thursday, when asked for his reaction, Giuliani told The Hill of thefederal investigators in the Cohen case that Sessions should “step in, in his role as defender of justice, and put these people under investigation.”
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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!”
  15. 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.”
  16. 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.”
  17. 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.”
  18. 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.”
  19. 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.
  20. 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.”
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.”
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.”
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.”
  37. 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.”
  38. On Friday, Trump reiterated his battle call on immigration, tweeting, “We are going to demand Congress secure the border in the upcoming CR. Illegal immigration must end!”
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New York City February 2018

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 77: “DISOBEY”

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 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-76-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-af60a31816b6

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, the dysfunction and chaos of the Trump regime continued. Amid the firing and attempted nominations of top officials, Trump continues to unilaterally pick from a small circle of unqualified sycophants. This week the 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. As the week ended, the country endured another fallen norm: a functional House Intelligence Committee.

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Photo by Paul Hehn in Portland, Oregon this week.
  1. 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.
  2. 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!”
  3. On Sunday, Trump quoted Fox News, tweeting: “GOP Lawmakers asking Sessions to Investigate Comey and Hillary Clinton,” and adding, “Good luck with that request!”
  4. 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.
  5. 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.’”
  6. Trump also tweeted, “Dan Henninger of the WSJ said Memos would show that this would be one of the weakest obstruction cases ever brought!”
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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?”
  12. 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.
  13. 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).
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. A new in-depth study released by University of Pennsylvania political scientist Diana Mutz examining data from 2012 to 2016 revealed agrowing body of evidence that the 2016 election was not about economic hardship.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. Mortgage financing for the home was provided by a local bank led byAlbert Kelly, another business associate of Pruitt. Kelly is now a top aide to Pruitt in the EPA, and runs the agency’s Superfund program.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.”
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. On Wednesday, HUD Secretary Ben Carson proposed far-reaching changes to federal housing subsidies aimed at low-income Americans receiving federal assistance.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. Absent from Sessions’ DOJ strategic plan were items focused on during the Obama administration, including civil rights enforcement and criminal justice reform.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.”
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. On Tuesday, allegations against Jackson publicly surfaced, including drinking while on duty, creating a hostile workplace, and improperlyhanding out prescriptions to staff during trips.
  45. 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.”
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
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Photo by Paul Hehn in Portland, Oregon this week.
  1. 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is part of the Interior Department and has8,000 employees and a $2.5 billion annual budget, and handles government relations with more than 500 federally-recognized tribes.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.”
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.”
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.”
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.”
  29. 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.
  30. 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. Thisfollows a trend of Republicans losing support since Trump took office.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.”
  45. 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.”
  46. 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.”
  47. 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.
  48. On Friday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a250 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.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.”
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. 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!”
  55. 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.”
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
  59. On Friday, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said House Democrats will continue to investigate alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
  60. 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.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.”
  63. 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.”
  64. 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.”
  65. 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.”
  66. 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.
  67. 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.
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. 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.
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By Teachr1 in Los Angeles, CA – April 7, 2018
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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,”
  10. 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.
  11. 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.”
  12. 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.”
  13. 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.”
  14. 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.”
  15. Trump said, “the special counsel — and by the way, and Intelligence Committee and everybody else has found no collusion.” Trump added thatthe Russia investigation is like a “cloud over my head.”
  16. On Thursday, Sessions, who is recused from the Russia investigation, criticized how long Mueller is taking, saying, “This thing needs to conclude.”
  17. 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.”
  18. 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.”
  19. 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+.”
  20. On Friday, the judge in the Stephanie Clifford’ lawsuit against Trumpagreed to delay the case by three months as requested by Cohen, citing a criminal investigation Cohen is facing.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.”
  23. 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.
  24. 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.”
  25. 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%).
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.”
  29. On Friday, influential conservative website RedState fired a handful of prominent writers, all of whom were anti-Trump voices.
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Brooklyn, New York – February 2018
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Jacksonville, Florida – February 2018