POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 130: THE “DEMOCRACY BARR” KEEPS GOING LOWER AND LOWER

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San Jose, Costa Rica. May 2019.

MAY 04, 2019

Week 129

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. This is AMY SISKIND’S LIST: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-129/ 

This week a leaked letter sent from special counsel Robert Mueller to Attorney General William Barr days after Barr released his four-page “summary” indicated Mueller did not believe that Barr captured the “context, nature, and substance” of his work. Mueller’s letter, leaked in part to the Post the day before Barr was set to testify before the Senate, shook the country and set off a firestorm, including allegations Barr had lied in previous Congressional testimony. His demeanor at his Senate testimony did little to mollify concern that Barr had acted in concert with Trump’s team to shape the narrative ahead of the redacted report’s release, and was continuing to protect Trump from its contents and repercussions.

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Jim Carrey May 1
“Watching William Barr testify is like getting caught in a monsoon of vomit. READY THE ARK!”

 

House Democrats sounded the alarms and escalated matters as Trump, his family, and regime all continued to stonewall Congressional demands, including a lawsuit to block Deutsche Bank from cooperating with House subpoenas and Barr being a no-show for House testimony. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wore the gravity of the situation in her demeanor at her weekly press conference, admitting she had trouble sleeping after watching the top law enforcement officer’s performance. Pelosi, who has been committed to avoiding impeachment, was reported to be losing patience.

Trump hit 10,000 lies and has ratcheted up the pace, and this week threatened social media companies and the “deep state” trying to remove him. New stories of corruption and kleptocracy were reported, but still Trump has suffered no consequences for his or his regime’s actions while in office. Trump closed out the week irreverently speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin privately, and saying they agreed about the “Russian Hoax,” while failing to mention Russia’s ongoing meddling.

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New York City November 2018
  1. WAPO reported Trump has told more than 10,000 false or misleading statements. For the first 5,000 lies, Trump took 601 days and told 8 lies a day. For the last 5,000 lies, Trump took 226 days, averaging 23 lies a day.
  2. At his Saturday campaign rally in Wisconsin, Trump told 61 lies. In Week 128, during his interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity and in a National Rifle Association speech, Trump told 45 lies and 24 lies, respectively.
  3. A Politico/Morning Consult poll found 60% say Trump’s use of Twitter is a bad thing, and 19% said it is a good thing. Also, 7 in 10 say he uses Twitter too much, while 14% said he uses it the right amount.
  4. In an op-ed, Patti Davis, daughter of Ronald Reagan, called on Republicans to stop using his name to justify their silence, warning the democracy her father swore to uphold is “being degraded and chipped away at.”
  5. Davis added, “if you are going to stand silent as America is dismantled and dismembered, as democracy is thrown onto the ash heap of yesterday, shame on you. But don’t use my father’s name on the way down.”
  6. On Saturday, Trump skipped the White House Correspondents’ Dinner for the third time, and told his regime to skip as well. Instead of a comedian, historian Ron Chernow was featured at a more subdued dinner.
  7. Chernow said, “Like every future president, [George] Washington felt maligned and misunderstood by the press,” adding “But he never generalized that into a vendetta against the institution.”
  8. On Saturday, Trump held a campaign rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He opened by condemning anti-Semitism and hate crimes after the synagogue shooting, and a day after defending his “very fine people” comments.
  9. Trump spoke for 90 minutes, at the same time as the Correspondents’ Dinner, leading the crowd in chant of “Luck her up!” and “CNN sucks,” as well as going after the late senator John McCain over his healthcare vote.
  10. Trump said the “radical, liberal democrats put all their hopes behind their collusion delusion, which is totally exposed as a complete and total fraud,” while the “Republican Party is the party of all Americans.”
  11. Trump said the Russia probe was “greatest political hoax in American history,” adding, “this witch hunt was never really just about me. It was always about stopping you,” the “freedom-loving citizens.”
  12. Trump bragged about the plan to bus immigrants who cross illegally to sanctuary cities, saying he was proud “that was actually my sick idea.” He also called people “sick” who worry he will not leave at the end of his term.
  13. Trump also said the Jussie Smollett case is a “disgrace to our nation,” adding, “he said he was beat up by ‘MAGA country.’ Turned out to be a total lie.”
  14. Trump made the false inflammatory claim that in Wisconsin after a baby is born, doctors and mothers “take care of the baby, they wrap the baby beautifully,” then they meet to decide whether to execute the baby.
  15. On Saturday, in tweets, Trump attacked Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano who said in an op-ed last week what Trump did was “unlawful, defenseless and condemnable,” and, “On obstruction, Barr is wrong.”
  16. Trump tweeted, “Andrew came to my office to ask that I appoint him to the U.S. Supreme Court, and I said NO,” adding, “Also asked for pardon for his friend,” and Napolitano is “a good “pal” of low ratings Shepard Smith.”
  17. On Sunday, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates told “Meet the Press” that Trump would likely be indicted on obstruction of justice if he were not president.
  18. Yates also said, “the bigger issue is not just whether or not this establishes a crime that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but is this the kind of conduct that we should expect from the president of the United States?”
  19. On Saturday, House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings pulled back from plans to initiate contempt proceedings against former White House security clearance chief Carl Kline, calling on Kline to appear May 1.
  20. On Sunday, Attorney General William Barr warned Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee that he will not show up to testify if they stick to the format proposed by Chairman Jerrold Nadler.
  21. Barr said he will only allow members of Congress, not House Judiciary Committee counsels to ask questions. Nadler responded, “the witness is not going to tell the committee how to conduct its hearing, period.”
  22. On Monday, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein submitted his resignation letter, capping a tumultuous two years. In his letter, Rosenstein said the DOJ needs to remain nonpartisan, while jabbing at the media.
  23. On Monday, the Commerce Department reported personal income for farmers plunged in the first quarter by an annualized $11.8 billion, the most in three years, as a result of Trump’s trade wars.
  24. On Saturday, NYT reported New York attorney general Letitia James opened an investigation into the National Rifle Associations’s tax-exempt status, instructing the NRA in a letter to preserve financial records.
  25. The investigation is reportedly the cause of NRA leadership infighting. Allegations include illegallytransferring funds out of the foundation and transactions benefiting others which could threaten its nonprofit status.
  26. On Thursday, Democrats on the Senate Committee on Finance sent a letter to the NRA requesting letters, third-party audits, memos, and other materials related to alleged self-dealing and the NRA’s nonprofit status.
  27. On Saturday, San Diego police said according to his manifesto, the Chabad of Poway synagogue shooter drew inspiration from the Pittsburgh synagogue and New Zealand mosque shootings.
  28. On Saturday, a group of white nationalists interrupted author Jonathan Metzl at a Washington DC event discussing his book “Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland.”
  29. On Monday, court papers revealed that a U.S. Army veteran’s large-scale domestic terrorist plot in retaliationfor the killing of Muslims by a white supremacist in New Zealand was foiled by the FBI.
  30. On Monday, the White House hosted the winner of the Teacher of the Year award, Rodney Robinson, who is a black man. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence did not attend, even though neither had a scheduling conflict.
  31. On Monday, Trump hosted the NCAA women’s tournament champion Baylor Bears at the White House, following criticism he had not hosted a women’s championship team alone in his 27 months in office.
  32. Trump asked Baylor coach Kim Mulkey if she would like a job at the White House, and she responded, “No.” Trump also commented about the players’ “beautiful arms,” which he said had “great definition.”
  33. On Monday, the White House pushed to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, imposing wide-ranging sanctions, after Trump agreed with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi that it made sense to do so.
  34. The Waterford Daily Times reported a New York judge gave Shane Piche, a former school bus driver who admitted to raping a 14 year-old girl, no jail time, saying he had no prior arrests and there was only one victim.
  35. On Thursday, Michael Wysolovski, 33, pleaded guilty to first-degree cruelty and was given probation in a Georgia court for allegedly for holding a teenage girl captive to have sex with him, at times in a dog cage.
  36. On Tuesday, Roy Moore sent an email to supporters, saying he is “seriously considering” a Senate bid in 2020, citing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation in the face of sexual assault allegations.
  37. On Wednesday, Stephen Taubert, who threatened to hang Obama and kill Rep. Maxine Waters in phone calls, was sentenced to prison. Taubert said at sentencing that he was provoked by the two’s public criticism of Trump.
  38. On Thursday, an Ohio high school student who posted a sign which read, “If I was black I’d be picking cotton, but I’m white so I’m picking you for prom?” on social media, will not be attending the prom or graduation.
  39. On Thursday, the Trump regime rolled out a new conscience rule which shields health workers from providing services like abortion, sterilization, or assisted suicide, if they cite a religious or conscientious objection.
  40. The Department of Health and Human Services also changed the Office for Civil Rights’ mission statement, adding the office “protects that exercise of religious beliefs and moral convictions by individuals and institutions.”
  41. On Monday, Trump ordered new restrictions on those seeking asylum on the southern border, adding an application fee for work permits and directing immigration cases be completed within 180 days.
  42. On Tuesday, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found 64% of Americans oppose Trump declaring a national emergency to build his wall (34% approve). On asylum, just 30% approve stricter rules.
  43. On Wednesday, BuzzFeed reported that a 16 year-old unaccompanied immigrant boy died in custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, after becoming “noticeably ill,” including having a fever, chills, and a headache.
  44. On Thursday, emails obtained by NBC News revealed the Trump regime had “no way to link” migrant children separated from their parents, and no central database with location information about separated families during the regime’s “zero tolerance” policy.
  45. Although nearly 3,000 families were separated, the emails reveal the regime only had enough information to reconnect 60 parents with their children when Trump ended the policy in June 2018.
  46. On Friday, CBS News reported former White House chief of staff John Kelly joined the board of Caliburn International, the company operating Homestead, the largest facility for unaccompanied migrant children.
  47. Caliburn is the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services, the only private company operating shelters. Prior to working for Trump, Kelly was on the board of DC Capital Partners, which now owns Caliburn.
  48. Federal records show Comprehensive received $222 million to operate Homestead between July 7, 2018 and April 20, 2019, and could receive up to $341 million through December for growing and operating the facility.
  49. On Monday, the White House said it is reviewing past writing of Trump’s Federal Reserve nominee Stephen Moore, following reporting on his anti-women views. Typically such review would be done prior to a nomination.
  50. On Wednesday, Moore expressed regret over his 2016 racist statements about then President Obama, when he commented, “First thing Donald Trump does as President is kick a black family out of public housing.”
  51. On Thursday, Trump tweeted that Moore was withdrawing from consideration. Hours earlier that morning, Moore had been boasting that he would be easily confirmed by the Senate.
  52. On Tuesday, WAPO reported at Trump National Golf Club Westchester in Briarcliff Manor, New York, undocumented workers were told to clock out, then stay and work hours more without pay, known as “side work.
  53. The NY attorney general’s office confirmed it had received complaints from workers about conditions. Six employees who spoke to the NY AG told WAPO they were denied promotions, vacation days, and health insurance.
  54. The club was formerly managed by Dan Scavino, White House director of social media. Scavino told the Posthe was unaware of any violations, and questions were an “attempt to attack the President through me.”
  55. On Thursday, Univision News reported that in addition to undocumented workers at Trump golf courses, Trump vineyard in Charlottesville, Virginia also hired workers without legal documents.
  56. Seven undocumented employees were interviewed by Univision. They detailed working from sunrise to sunset, without overtime pay or benefits, and were also asked to do personal chores for their supervisors.
  57. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled a lawsuit brought against Trump by House Democratsfor violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution can proceed.
  58. This, and another emoluments lawsuit by the attorneys general of D.C. and Maryland, represent the first time federal judges have interpreted and applied the clauses’ restrictions to a sitting president.
  59. On Monday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals turned back a request from a Roger Stone associate, Andrew Miller, to reexamine a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of Robert Mueller’s appointment.
  60. On Tuesday, Politico reported the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office subpoenaed Roger Stone associate Randy Credico to testify in Stone’s case. The subpoena orders him to appear in court November 5, the first day of trial.
  61. On Monday, WAPO reported as U.S. national security officials are preparing to counter Russian interference in the 2020 election, Trump and his senior aides are seeking to downplay the threat.
  62. Trump’s rhetoric and lack of focus have made it more difficult for government officials to come up with a comprehensive strategy, and by not making a public statement against interference, Trump is inviting more.
  63. Despite the Mueller report, which security analysts viewed as an alarm call and a roadmap for how Russian operatives work, Trump continues to deny Russia changed a single vote so not to raise questions of his legitimacy.
  64. Trump also continues to insist it was not only Russia that interfered, has taken no leadership on protecting 2020, and told aides that in public statements they must emphasize that Russia did not influence his win.
  65. On Monday, Trump, three of his children, and business sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One to prevent the banks from responding to subpoenas from the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees.
  66. The lawsuit claimed the subpoenas “have no legitimate or lawful purpose,” and “were issued to harass” Trump, and it alleges, “No grounds exist to establish any purpose other than a political one.”
  67. On Tuesday, Eric Trump, who is involved with the lawsuit against the banks, told “Fox and Friends” that “They want to harass Trump,” adding “it’s not just my father. It’s, ‘Eric, I want to see all your bank records.’”
  68. On Tuesday, House Financial Services Chair Waters said lawmakers would fight “tooth and nail” for the information, and how it plays out could inform the decision to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump.
  69. On Tuesday, NYT reported Deutsche Bank has compiled reams of materials to hand over to Congress, including multiple pages from each of Trump’s annual federal tax returns. The subpoena deadline was May 6.
  70. On Thursday, a federal judge in Manhattan paused the subpoenas pending the court case which will start May 22. Attorneys representing the House are now expected to fight the Trump lawsuit.
  71. On Wednesday, attorneys for the House Oversight Committee said Trump’s suit to block the subpoena of Mazars USA was an attack on constitutional checks and balances and on Congress’s oversight powers.
  72. On Tuesday, House Judiciary Committee Chair Adam Schiff said his committee made a criminal referral to the DOJ for Erik Prince, saying Prince “knowingly and willfully” making false statements to Congress.
  73. Rep. Schiff cited six instances in which Prince allegedly misled the committee about his 2017 meeting in the Seychelles with a Russian banker tied to the Kremlin, saying it “impaired the Committee’s understanding.”
  74. On Tuesday, Daily Beast reported Rep. Schiff has hired Patrick Fallon, former chief of the F.B.I.’s Financial Crimes Section, as work for the committee ramps up its investigation into Trump’s finances.
  75. On Wednesday, Julian Assange was jailed over a bail breach. Assange’s attorney said he was “gripped” by fear of rendition “as threats rained down on him from America, they overshadowed everything.”
  76. On Wednesday, Trump’s DOJ filed its first full argument in the conservative-leaning 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for striking down the entire Affordable Care Act.
  77. The DOJ argued that the “individual mandate” requiring Americans to have coverage is unconstitutional, and therefore the entire ACA should be struck down. The case will be heard in July.
  78. On Thursday, WAPO reported the Trump regime sought to remove all mentions of climate change from an international statement on Arctic policy that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may endorse next week.
  79. The regime threatened a standoff in crafting principles among the eight Arctic nations next week, including wanting no reference to the Paris accord, but later softened its position when other countries disagreed.
  80. In preparing for the meeting, the White House devised a plan in February to challenge scientific consensusthat the burning of fossil fuels is the leading cause of climate change, and took control of the U.S. message.
  81. The EPA weakened a standard for cleaning up groundwater pollution caused by toxic chemicals which eventually will impact drinking water consumed by millions of Americans, after pressure from the Pentagon.
  82. Standards released last week eliminated a section that addressed how the EPA planned to respond to“immediate threats posed by hazardous waste sites.” The Pentagon had brought their concerns to the White House.
  83. On Thursday, in a symbolic vote, the House voted to keep the U.S. in the Paris climate agreement, by a vote of 231-190 with three Republicans joining the Democrats. The Senate is unlikely to take up the measure.
  84. On Thursday, a federal judge in Maryland ruled that a revised set of lawsuits filed against Trump’s Muslim Ban, which were based on issues not already heard by the Supreme Court, could move forward.
  85. The lawsuits included data on how the regime has enforced the ban. The judge wrote the Supreme Court ruling does not “preclude a different determination at a later stage of the case on a more fulsome record.”
  86. On Thursday, Reuters reported the State Department allowed seven foreign governments to rent condominiums in New York’s Trump World Tower in 2017 without approval from Congress.
  87. The governments of Iraq, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Thailand, and the European Union were approved in 2017, out of a total 13 notes sent to the State Dept seeking permission for rent or renew leases.
  88. Legal experts say collecting fees is a potential breach of the emoluments clause. Reuters obtained data through the end of 2017 though the Freedom of Information Act, and no data for 2018 or 2019 is yet available.
  89. On Thursday, the California state senate voted 27-10 to require presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of income tax returns in order to appear on the state’s primary ballot.
  90. On Tuesday, 12 Democratic Senators called on the DOJ inspector general to investigate Barr’s handling of the Mueller report, including his impartiality and whether he lied to the American public about it.
  91. On Tuesday, Daily Beast reported that according to Rep. Nadler, Mueller is willing to testify before House Democrats, but that the DOJ has been unwilling to set a date for it to happen.
  92. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Mueller sent a letter to the DOJ on March 27, three days after AG Barr released his four-page letter, saying it “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of Mueller’s work.
  93. Mueller wrote, “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”
  94. The letter also requested that Barr release the report’s introductions and executive summaries, and made initial suggested redactions, saying the redaction process “need not delay release of the enclosed materials.”
  95. The day after Mueller’s letter, the two spoke on the phone and Mueller said media coverage of the obstruction investigation, but not Russian interference, was misguided and creating public misunderstandings.
  96. Barr’s letter quoted only passages that the investigation found no conspiracy or coordination; however, the redacted report showed Mueller believed significant evidence existed that Trump obstructed justice.
  97. Mueller’s team worked with the DOJ to redact the report. Before it was released, Barr said he “disagreed with some of the special counsel’s legal theories” about what constitutes presidential obstruction of justice.
  98. Barr was scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Barr needed to bring a copy of the letter from Mueller that was partially leaked to the Post along.
  99. Rep. Nadler demanded a copy of the letter by 10 a.m. Wednesday. Nadler also questioned Barr’s April 10 testimony to his committee, where he said, “I don’t know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion.”
  100. On Wednesday, Trump lashed out over the national firefighters union endorsing Democratic candidate Joe Biden, retweeting roughly 60 tweets that disagreed with the endorsement.
  101. Some of the accounts Trump retweeted appeared to be fake accounts. The barrage came just hours before Barr’s Senate testimony.
  102. Ahead of the hearing, Trump also tweeted a quote by Fox Business Host Lou Dobbs, saying, “No President in history has endured such vicious personal attacks by political opponents.”
  103. Trump tweeted: “Why didn’t President Obama do something about Russia in September (before November Election) when told by the FBI? He did NOTHING.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had blocked Obama.
  104. Trump also tweeted: “NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION,” adding there “was there No Collusion (by Trump), but the bad actions were done by the “other” side?” and, “greatest con-job in the history of American Politics!”
  105. On Wednesday, Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the Mueller investigation and report. Shortly before the hearing started, Mueller’s March 27 letter to Barr was publicly released.
  106. The March 27 letter indicated Mueller first reached out to Barr in a March 25 letter to express his concerns, and also at that time enclosed the introduction and executive summary for each volume to be made public.
  107. Chair Lindsey Graham said after all this time and money, “Mueller has concluded there was no collusion. For me, it is over.” Graham endorsed Barr not charging Trump, but admitted he had not read the full report.
  108. Barr said Mueller was in part to blame for the delayed release, saying his team should have pre-redacted it. In their phone call, Barr claimed Mueller was “was not suggesting that we had misrepresented his report.”
  109. Barr said he was “surprised” Mueller had left the decision on whether Trump attempted to obstruct justice to him, and confused that Mueller extended and expanded his probe to look into “additional episodes ”
  110. Barr said he has assigned investigators to review allegations of spying on the Trump 2016 campaign, he would report their finding to Congress, and Trump had not “waived executive privilege” to allow Don McGahn to testify.
  111. Barr disagreed with Mueller not determining if Trump obstructed justice, but said once Mueller submitted his report, Mueller’s task had ended, and then “It was my baby.”
  112. Barr said he was not familiar with bipartisan legislation to enhance the security of the election system, of which Sen. Amy Klobuchar said, “The White House made calls to stop this.” Barr said he would take a look at the legislation.
  113. Klobuchar reminded Barr he had previously said convincing a witness to change testimony could be considered obstruction of justice, and gave examples from the report of Trump doing so, while Barr dodged to answer.
  114. Barr said he “wasn’t interested” in honoring Mueller’s request to release the executive summaries, saying he “was not in the business of putting out periodic summaries.”
  115. Barr said, “I don’t recall” if he had conversations with the White House on the 14 cases spun out of the Mueller probe. Barr also said to stop using the process as a political weapon and “the job of the DOJ is now over.”
  116. Barr defended Trump, saying he was “falsely accused of colluding with the Russians and accused of being treasonous,” adding, but “to listen to some of the rhetoric,” you would think Mueller found the opposite.
  117. When asked by Sen. Kamala Harris whether anyone at the White House has “suggested” opening criminal cases, Barr paused in silence and struggled to answer the question, leaving himself wiggle room.
  118. Barr admitted he, Rosenstein, and his DOJ staff had not read the underlying evidence compiled by Mueller in coming to their judgment on whether there was sufficient evidence to charge obstruction of justice.
  119. Barr also said Mueller’s letter to him was a “bit snitty” and “was probably written by one of his staff people.” Merriam-Webster dictionary said look-ups for the word “snitty” spiked by 150,000% after Barr used the word.
  120. After his testimony, press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted, “AG Bill Barr served President George H.W. Bush honorably as AG,” and has so for Trump, adding, “Democrats only disgrace and humiliate themselves.”
  121. Trump told Fox Business’s Trish Regan that Sen. Harris and others running for president were hard on Barr for “political points,” and singled out Harris, who is a Black woman, calling her “very nasty.”
  122. Harris was one of many Democrats who called on Barr to resign, including 2020 candidates and many others in the House and Senate
  123. The WAPO Editorial Board wrote Barr “torched his reputation,” and his testimony “compounded the damage,” adding the DOJ should enable “Mueller to speak publicly and under oath at the earliest opportunity.”
  124. The board said Mueller should address “his substantive findings” not only on Trump’s misbehavior but also on Barr’s “manipulation of his work,” and not only should Trump should be held accountable, so should Barr.
  125. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to allow members of its staff to question Barr on Thursday. Some noted that Christine Blasey Ford was questioned by outside counsel in the Senate.
  126. On Wednesday, the DOJ said Barr will not testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, citing “Nadler’s insistence on having staff question” Barr, and calling it “inappropriate” and “unprecedented.”
  127. The DOJ also said it will not comply with the committee’s subpoena for Mueller’s full, unredacted report plus the underlying evidence and grand jury information, saying the request was “not legitimate oversight.”
  128. On Tuesday, Chair Cummings told reporters he could fine or hold former White House Personnel Security Director Carl Kline in contempt if he refuses to answer questions in a closed-door interview Wednesday.
  129. On Wednesday, Cummings told reporters Kline told his committee “the buck pretty much stopped with him,” but added, “There’s much more information that we need to dig into.”’
  130. Cummings also said members of Congress who favor investigations rather than an impeachment inquiry have become “very impatient,” adding, “I don’t know what the White House is trying to push or pressure us into.”
  131. On Wednesday, the White House also said it would not comply with the House Oversight Committee’s request for documents related to the security clearances of Trump regime officials.
  132. White House counsel Pat Cipollone said, “it is not within the authority of Congress to second guess” how Trump selects advisors, and the request showed a “total disregard for individual privacy,” and was “highly inappropriate.”
  133. On Wednesday, Roll Call reported House Democrats are considering reviving a congressional power not used since the 1930s to counter the Trump’s regime stonewalling called “inherent contempt.”
  134. The process would allow Congress to authorize its sergeant-at-arms to execute an arrest warrant against an official who refuses to comply with Congressional subpoenas or takes actions that obstruct their oversight.
  135. On Thursday, Chair Nadler convened the House Judiciary Committee. An empty chair marked Barr’s spot, and he was a no-show. Rep. Steven Cohen brought a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, calling Barr a chicken.
  136. Nadler warned Trump “is trying to render Congress inert,” adding if the House does not “stand up to him together today, we risk forever losing the power to stand up to any president in the future.”
  137. After, Nadler threatened to hold Barr in contempt of Congress if the DOJ does not provide access to the fully unredacted version of Mueller’s report, and will hold a vote possibly as early as Monday.
  138. On Thursday, press secretary Sanders said Nadler should quit, saying, “he and his committee aren’t capable of … asking questions themselves and need to staff it out,” adding, “seems like a pretty pathetic moment.”
  139. On Thursday, at her weekly press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Barr lied to Congress, adding, “Nobody is above the law. Not the president of the United States, and not the attorney general.”
  140. When asked by a reporter if Barr should go to jail, Pelosi responded, “There’s a process involved here, and as I said, I’ll say it again, the committee will act upon how we will proceed.“
  141. Pelosi called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell the “grim reaper” for refusing to allow the Senate to vote on Democratic priorities including an infrastructure plan she and Schumer discussed with Trump.
  142. Before the press conference, Politico reported Pelosi told colleagues in a caucus meeting that she could not sleep Wednesday night after watching Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  143. WAPO reported Pelosi also spoke of impeachment at that caucus meeting, saying, “Ignoring subpoenas of Congress, not honoring subpoenas of Congress — that was Article III of the Nixon impeachment.”
  144. Pelosi said to the press, “I really lost sleep last night,” and, “How sad it is for us to see the top law enforcement officer in our country misrepresenting, withholding the truth from the Congress of the United States.”
  145. On Thursday, at a WAPO Live event, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accused U.S. law enforcement of treason, saying, “Their actions are a coup,” adding, “I do not believe they were abiding by the rule of law.”
  146. On Thursday, Reuters reported on a five-page letter from White House lawyer Emmet Flood to Barr sent on April 19, in which Flood says Trump has the right to instruct advisors not to testify.
  147. The letter, sent one day before the redacted Mueller report was released, also said the report is deeply flawed, with Flood calling it “part ‘truth commission’ report and part law school exam paper.”
  148. The letter said it is one thing for a president to “encourage complete cooperation and transparency in a criminal investigation…It is something else entirely to allow his advisers to appear before Congress.”
  149. The letter says the report acts as a “roadmap” for evidence of the special counsel’s “refusal to follow applicable law,” and provided justification for an investigation of the investigators of Trump’s 2016 campaign.
  150. On Friday, Senate Judiciary Chair Graham invited Mueller to testify before the committee “regarding any misrepresentation” by Barr on the substance of their phone call. Days before Graham said he would not call Mueller.
  151. On Friday, when asked by reporters if he would allow Mueller to testify before Congress, Trump responded, “That’s up to our attorney general.”
  152. On Friday, Chair Nadler gave Barr until Monday at 9 a.m. EST to comply with the House subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence before moving to hold Barr in contempt of Congress.
  153. On Friday, WAPO reported notes taken by Annie Donaldson, White House counsel Don McGahn’s chief of staff, during meetings with Trump were cited more than 65 times in the Mueller report.
  154. Donaldson’s notes describe McGahn’s and others’ concern Trump could be accused of criminal obstruction. She was known for her careful tracking of details, and is reportedly dismayed her notes may be made public.
  155. Donaldson left the White House in December. House Judiciary Chair Nadler has already signaled he will subpoena Donaldson to testify. The precision of her notes drew comparison to the Nixon tapes in Watergate.
  156. On Friday, Trump spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone for over an hour, without any third party listening in, and without providing a normal readout of the conversation.
  157. Trump said Putin assured him that “he’s not looking to get involved in Venezuela,” contradicting Secretary Pompeo who said Thursday “hundreds, if not more” Russians were working in Venezuela.
  158. On election interference, Trump told reporters Putin “said something to the effect that it started off as a mountain and it ended up being a mouse,” and “he knew that because he knew there was no collusion whatsoever.”
  159. When asked by NBC’s Kristen Welker, “Did you tell him not to meddle in the next election?” Trump responded, “Excuse me, I’m talking, I’m answering this question. You are very rude.”
  160. When pressed again by reporters on whether he raised the issue of election interference or warned Putin not to do it again, Trump responded, “We didn’t discuss that. Really, we didn’t discuss it.”
  161. Shortly after, Trump tweeted about the call, saying, “As I have always said, long before the Witch Hunt started, getting along with Russia, China, and everyone is a good thing, not a bad thing.”
  162. Trump also tweeted, again dismissing interference in the 2016 election cited in the Mueller report, “We discussed Trade, Venezuela, Ukraine, North Korea, Nuclear Arms Control and even the “Russian Hoax.””
  163. On Friday, in a letter, Sen. Kamala Harris called on the DOJ inspector general to investigate if Barr had received or complied with any requests from the White House to investigate Trump’s “perceived enemies.”
  164. On Wednesday, attorneys for Covington teen Nick Sandmann filed a $275 million lawsuit against NBC Universal accusing the network creating a “false narrative” driven by its “anti-Trump agenda,” the third such suit.
  165. On Thursday, Talking Points Memo reported McClatchy, publisher of Fresno Bee, has not been served by Rep. Devin Nunes to take the case to trial, nor has Liz Mair, after Nunes threatened on Fox News on April 8.
  166. On Thursday, Facebook announced it is banning several far-right and anti-Semitic figures and organizations, including Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Laura Loomer for being “dangerous.”
  167. Facebook said the action to more aggressively enforce its hate-speech policies comes as bigoted violence is on the rise around the world, and its platform has been used by hateful groups and individuals.
  168. On Friday, Donald Jr. tweeted, criticizing the “silencing of conservatives by Facebook & the rest of the Big Tech monopoly men,” calling it a “censorship campaign,” adding, “ how long before they come to purge you?’
  169. On Friday, Trump tweeted, “I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS,” adding, “we have what’s known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH!” and threatening, “We are monitoring and watching, closely!!”
  170. Trump also tweeted, “The wonderful Diamond and Silk have been treated so horribly by Facebook,” and threatened, “we’re looking into. It’s getting worse and worse for Conservatives on social media!
  171. Trump also tweeted his disappointment that “Conservative thinkers like James Woods” were banned from Twitter. Woods was suspended for tweeting “‘If you try to kill the King, you best not miss’ #HangThemAll.”
  172. On Thursday, NYT reported that the FBI sent a woman posing as an research assistant to meet with George Papadopoulos in London as part of a counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
  173. The London operative, nicknamed Azra Turk, yielded no fruitful information in 2016 through her exchanges, but the FBI called the action legal and carefully considered under extraordinary circumstances.
  174. Turk worked alongside a longtime informant, Cambridge professor Stefan Halper. The FBI’s actions are under scrutiny by the DOJ inspector general. Barr has said the results could be made public in May or June.
  175. On Friday, Trump tweeted, “Finally, Mainstream Media is getting involved — too “hot” to avoid,” adding, ““Details effort to spy on Trump Campaign.” @foxandfriends”” and “This is bigger than WATERGATE, but the reverse!
  176. On Friday, Vice President Pence told Fox News, “We’ve got to get to the bottom of how all this started,” adding, “And as the attorney general said when he testified before Congress, there was spying.”
  177. On Friday, Trump’s re-election campaign manager Brad Parscale said, “There is a word for this in the English language: Spying,” adding, “As President Trump has said, it is high time to investigate the investigators.”
  178. On Thursday, Sen. Graham told reporters he planned to ask Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to look into the use of the FISA court in the 2016 election, saying Trump is “down” on the FISA court.
  179. As chief justice, Roberts appoints judges in the FISA courts. Experts noted it is highly unusual for a Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee to ask a chief justice to “look into” the lower courts handling of cases.
  180. On Friday, prosecutors urged Judge Amy Berman Jackson in a filing to reject Roger Stone’s obscure challengeto their indictment based on Congress allowed the independent counsel statute to expire in 1999.
  181. Prosecutors said that Mueller’s appointment was valid. A hearing is set for May 30. Prosecutors also opposed a motion by Stone’s lawyers to be provided with a full, unredacted copy of the Mueller report.
  182. On Saturday, North Korea launched a short-range missile off its east coast. This is the second provocation by North Korea in recent weeks, and is likely to raise tensions in stalled denuclearization talks with the U.S.
  183. On Saturday, NYT reported on Speaker Pelosi’s concerns that Trump will not give up power voluntarily if he loses re-election by a slim margin, saying, “he’s not going to respect the election.”
  184. Pelosi said, “He would poison the public mind. He would challenge each of the races; he would say you can’t seat these people,” adding Trump will not respect the election results “short of an overwhelming defeat.”
  185. Trump feels energized and emboldened to goad Pelosi, believing the Republican Senate will be compliant. Pelosi has been committed to avoiding impeachment, but is losing patience.
  186. Trump remains respectful of Pelosi. She said, “Maybe he knows that I pray for him. I pray that his heart will be open for good things, to help people instead of taking babies out of the arms of their mothers, for example.”
  187. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “Very good call yesterday” with Putin, adding “Tremendous potential…despite what you read and see in the Fake News Media,” and, “Look how they have misled you on “Russia Collusion.””

The Weekly List podcast is here! You can find more information here by clicking here.

THE LIST — weeks 1–52 of The Weekly List is out as a book! You can order your copy by clicking here.

A chicken rests near the empty seat for US Attorney General Bill Barr in the House Judiciary Committee room on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on May 2, 2019. US Congressman Steve Cohen placed it after Barr failed to show and the hearing was convened. 

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA: HASTA LUEGO & PURA VIDA, TICOS !

The intensity of leaving is equal to the intensity of arriving. After 3 months of living in Costa Rica, I am moving on. My last day anywhere always has me feeling hollow, not fully earthbound. Some final images from my last day:

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unfortunately, i won’t see this piece completed. this is part 3 of progress shots.
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an image that will remain: the jewelry handcrafts lined up on the main calle every day.

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out of so many prolific graff writers, D U N K was the most prolific for me. i’ll always think of him when i think of san jose graffiti.

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jesus
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san jose is peppered with beautiful old colonial-style buildings 
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teatro nacional

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a D U N K sticker on the sidewalk
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jesus again
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a panaderia on avenida 2

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statue facing the post office – he was the president of costa rica from 1849-1859

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D U N K 

feb-apr2019. San Jose, Costa Rica.

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA: TOP 8 FOODS (& DRINK)

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Chifrijo: bowl of rice and beans topped with fried pork meat and avocado, pico de gallo, chimichurri, and lime. Mine was served with plantain chips. Tortilla chips are also an option.
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Gallo Pinto: traditionally served with breakfast, it is a slowly blended dish of rice, beans, onions, red peppers, and cilantro.
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Pork Casado
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Arepa con pollo, queso, y huevos.
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Pancakes, eggs, and papaya with coffee.
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Arroz con mixto y puré
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Ice Cold Imperial at Rayuela’s on Avenida 2
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popular chocolate brand

 

feb-apr2019 San Jose, Costa Rica.

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA GRAFFITI: EMME, Pt. 2

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THERE ARE SO MANY PROLIFIC GRAFFITI WRITERS IN SAN JOSE; THEIR PIECES ARE EVERYWHERE! HERE ARE 9 MORE PIECES FROM EMME.

feb-apr2019. San Jose, Costa Rica.

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA: NEIGHBORING SOLITUDES

All companionship can consist only in the strengthening of two neighboring solitudes, whereas everything that one is wont to call giving oneself is by nature harmful to companionship: for when a person abandons himself, he is no longer anything, and when two people both give themselves up in order to come close to each other, there is no longer any ground beneath them and their being together is a continual falling… Once there is disunity between them, the confusion grows with every day; neither of the two has anything unbroken, pure, and unspoiled about him any longer… They who wanted to do each other good are now handling one another in an imperious and intolerant manner, and in the struggle somehow to get out of their untenable and unbearable state of confusion, they commit the greatest fault that can happen to human relationships: they become impatient. They hurry to a conclusion; to come, as they believe, to a final decision, they try once and for all to establish their relationship, whose surprising changes have frightened them, in order to remain the same now and forever (as they say). ~Rainer Maria Rilke

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this may be the most beautiful building in the city. it’s a school. 

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a soda 
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this church is perpetually embraced by the clouds. 

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2may19. San Jose, Costa Rica.

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA GRAFFITI: DUNK Pt. 2

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THERE ARE SO MANY PROLIFIC GRAFFITI WRITERS IN SAN JOSE; THEIR PIECES ARE EVERYWHERE! HERE ARE 11 MORE PIECES FROM DUNK.

feb-apr2019. San Jose, Costa Rica.

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA GRAFFITI: GUER

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THERE ARE SO MANY PROLIFIC GRAFFITI WRITERS IN SAN JOSE; THEIR PIECES ARE EVERYWHERE! HERE ARE 7 PIECES FROM GUER.

feb-apr2019. San Jose, Costa Rica.