POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 41: EVIL MONKEY

Week 40 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

August 19, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-40-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-eb3a830375a9

This week’s list is not the longest, but it is certainly the most heartbreaking. Trump’s comments on Charlottesville legitimized the worst of us, and spawned a watershed moment for our country. His remarks were met with widespread condemnation and reactions, and precipitated a mass exodus of corporate CEOs, wiping away any lingering doubts that Trump’s goals were ever truly linked to job creation. For the first time, real questions about fitness for office were raised out loud by both sides.

This week in Trump’s shrinking, chaotic regime it became even clearer that Trump answers to no one but himself. He continues to attack and attempt to intimidate Republicans into submission, as part of his continuing efforts to consolidate power.

  1. In an impromptu news conference on Charlottesville late Saturday afternoon, Trump said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.
  2. White supremacists and neo-Nazi leaders cheered Trump’s “on many sides” comments, taking his words as a defense, or even as a tacit approval, of their action.
  3. On Sunday, the WH issued a statement to “clarify” Trump’s Saturday comments, saying Trump condemns all forms of “violence, bigotry and hatred” while naming white supremacists, KKK, and neo-Nazis.
  4. 32 year-old Heather Heyer was killed Saturday after a car driven by James Fields rammed into a crowd of counter-protestors in Charlottesville. Nineteen others were injured.
  5. Daily Caller and Fox News deleted a post titled, “Here’s A Reel Of Cars Plowing Through Protesters Trying To Block The Road,” which included a video encouraging people to drive through protests.
  6. Two state troopers, Lieutenant Cullen and Trooper Bates, who were keeping watch on the demonstrations in Charlottesville, were killed when their helicopter went down.
  7. On Sunday, a candlelight vigil planned for Heather Heyer in Charlottesville was cancelled due to a “credible threat from white supremacists.
  8. Neo-Nazis disparaged Heyer, and the KKK celebrated her death. Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer was taken down after activists, led by my Sunday tweet, contacted domain hosts Go Daddy, Google, etc.
  9. After US hosting companies refused to host The Daily Stormer, the website briefly relocated to Russia, for which they thanked Trump, before being kicked off there too. China rebuffed them too.
  10. In the wake of Charlottesville, numerous tech companies including Facebook, Google, Spotify, Uber, Squarespace and many others took action to curb use of their services and platforms by alt-right groups.
  11. A Unite the Right organizer was disavowed by his family. Several marchers who were identified on social media lost their jobs. Others were asked to denounce their activities or were expelled by colleges.
  12. On Sunday, Trump’s popularity hit a new low at Gallup with 34% approving and 61% disapproving (-27).
  13. On Monday, Sessions said the car ramming into Heather Heyer and 19 others “does meet the definition of domestic terrorism” under US law.
  14. On Monday morning, Merck’s CEO resigned from Trump’s American Manufacturing Council saying as a “matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”
  15. Later Monday, Trump tweeted @Merck is a leader in “higher & higher drug prices,” and “taking jobs out of the U.S.
  16. Later Monday and Tuesday, four more CEOs resigned from Trump’s American Manufacturing Council over his handling of Charlottesville.
  17. Trump countered, “I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on.” Trump offered no new names publicly.
  18. On Wednesday, NYT reported the CEOs on Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum held a morning conference call to discuss whether to disband the policy forum. The Manufacturing Council planned a call that afternoon.
  19. Before the policy forum, and possible manufacturing council could formally disband, midday Wednesday Trump tweeted “rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople,” he was ending both.
  20. On Thursday, the WH announced the Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure, which was still being formed, would not move forward.
  21. On Monday, Trump said he is “seriously considering” a pardon for ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio, saying, “He’s a great American patriot.”
  22. In the aftermath of Charlottesville, the Phoenix mayor called on Trump to delay his planned rally next week, saying Trump’s plan to pardon Arpaio could “enflame emotions and further divide our nation.”
  23. Minutes after the Phoenix mayor’s statement, Trump tweeted a link for tickets to his Phoenix event.
  24. Advocates said there has been a spike in reports of anti-LGBTQ violence since Trump took office. As of August, there are already more hate-related homicides than in all of 2016, excluding Pulse.
  25. A Virginia high school sent a letter to parents saying selection for AP and Honors classes would at least partly based on race.
  26. On Monday, the Holocaust memorial in Boston was vandalized for the second time this summer.
  27. On Monday, reading from a teleprompter, Trump gave his third version of comments on Charlottesville, calling the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists “repugnant” and saying, “racism is evil.”
  28. On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted then deleted an image of a train running over a CNN reporter.
  29. On Tuesday at Trump Tower, with Mnuchin, Chao and Cohn by this side, Trump turned what was supposed to be remarks about his infrastructure plan into an “off-the-rails” news conference on Charlottesville.
  30. Reversing himself for the fourth time in four days, Trump said “I think there’s blame on both sides” — insinuating that the “alt-left” was just as much to blame as white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
  31. Trump claimed not all the white supremacists and neo-Nazis were bad people, “you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”
  32. When asked about Bannon, Trump said “He’s a good man. He’s not a racist,” and that the press treats him, “frankly, very unfairly.”
  33. Trump claimed alt-right protestors had a permit, but counter-protesters “came charging in without a permit” and “were very, very violent.” WAPOgave the claim that counter-protestors had no permit 4 Pinocchios.
  34. Trump equated taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville to taking down statues of Washington (“George Washington was a slave owner”) and Jefferson (“Because he was a major slave owner”).
  35. Trump’s staff, expecting brief remarks on infrastructure, were stunned by his action. One senior WH official told NBC, Trump “went rogue.”
  36. POLITICO reported Trump was “in good spirits” Tuesday night, and felt the “new conference went much better” than his Monday speech.
  37. Alt-right leaders praised Trump’s Tuesday comments. Richard Spencer said he was “really proud of him,” and David Duke tweeted, “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth.”
  38. Axios reported within the Trump WH, Bannon unapologetically supported Trump’s instinct to blame “both sides,” and that he and Trump “instinctively searched for “their” people in that group of protesters.”
  39. Mnuchin’s Yale classmates wrote an open letter calling on him to resign immediately, saying Trump “declared himself a sympathizer with groups” whose values are antithetical to Yale and decent human beings.
  40. In a Republican primary in Alabama Tuesday, Trump’s chosen candidate Luther Strange, who he very publicly supported, came in second.
  41. On Wednesday, Pence cut his international trip to Central and South America short to come home. The stated reason was to join a national security meeting on Friday, although rumors flew with other theories.
  42. On Wednesday, Fox News’ Shep Smith said his show “reached out to Republicans of all stripes across the country today” and couldn’t find a single one willing to come on and discuss Trump’s Tuesday comments.
  43. In a letter, fmr CIA director Brennan told CNN’s Blitzer Trump’s comments on Charlottesville were “despicable,” and that Trump “is putting our national security and our collective futures at grave risk.
  44. On Wednesday, the Generals of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard tweeted to condemn the racist violence in Charlottesville, declaring the nation’s armed forces unequivocally against hatred.
  45. Sen Corker, one of Trump’s first senate supporters who was also under consideration for VP, said Trump “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence” to be a successful leader.
  46. European leaders, including Merkel and May, denounced Trump’s comments on Charlottesville. Martin Schulz of German said Trump “is betraying our Western value.”
  47. Rep Steve Cohen of TN, a ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, introduced articles of impeachment in response to Trump’s comments on Charlottesville.
  48. On Wednesday, Sessions told NBC News that the Charlottesville car attack may be considered a “hate crime.
  49. USA Today Editorial Board called on Congress to censure Trump for his “shocking equivocations about the white-supremacist,” challenging Republicans to “stand up for American values” or be Trump enablers.
  50. On Thursday, the Cleveland Clinic pulled their 2018 Florida gala from Mar-a-Lago. Cleveland Clinic had held their event there for eight years.
  51. By Friday evening, 16 charities had pulled their events from Mar-a-Lago, costing the Trump Organization hundreds of thousands, or possibly millions in lost revenues.
  52. Citing violence at Charlottesville, Texas A&M and the University of Florida cancelled scheduled speaking appearances by white supremacist Richard Spencer, both citing safety concerns.
  53. On Thursday, Michigan State University denied a request by Spencer to rent space on the campus for a September event.
  54. Students and graduates of Lehigh University students petitioned trustees to revoke Trump’s honorary degree, citing Trump’s “both sides” remarks.
  55. Thousands gathered at UVA on Wednesday night for an unannounced candlelight vigil. They chanted “love wins,” and sang “We Shall Overcome” and “Amazing Grace.”
  56. At a funeral for Heather Heyer mother, Susan Bro said, “They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her.” Bro told NBC Thursday she has received death threats from hate groups.
  57. Bro said she will not meet with Trump after he blamed “both sides” for violence in Charlottesville. She also has not picked up his phone calls.
  58. Trump continued to tweet about Confederate statues after his news conference, “can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson — who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!”
  59. The great-great grandchildren of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson called for Confederate statues to be removed. They also condemned the white supremacist and violence in Charlottesville.
  60. They also suggested statues be moved to museums. Bertram Hayes-Davis, great-great-grandson of Jefferson Davis suggested, “In a public place, if it is offensive and people are taking issue with it, let’s move it.”
  61. In the days following the Charlottesville alt-right rally, 13 US cities and Duke University said they would remove Confederate monuments. Several other cities are considering same.
  62. After a terrorist attack in Spain, Trump tweeted about what General Pershing did when terrorist were caught: “There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” Politifact rated Trump’s claim, Pants on Fire.
  63. Trump continued to do battle with Republicans, targeting Flake who he called “toxic” and “WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate,” and Graham who he said “can’t forget his election trouncing.”
  64. Countering Trump, McConnell offered his “full support” for Flake.
  65. James Murdoch donated $1mm to the Anti-Defamation League in the wake of Charlottesville. As many of social media noted, Fox News played a major role in stoking the hate of far-right extremists.
  66. According to government documents published by one of Murdoch’s newspapers Tuesday, Australian authorities denied a bid by Trump to build a casino in 1988 due to his ties to the mafia and organized crime.
  67. HuffPost reported on Trump aide Katharine Gorka’s role in helping to pull DHS funding for Life After Hate, a group dedicated to countering neo-Nazis and white supremacists, as noted in Week 33. Of note: also in Week 33, the State Dept’s anti-Semitism monitoring office was shuttered.
  68. In an interview Thursday, former VP Gore said if he could give Trump one piece of advice, it would be to resign.
  69. On Friday, the 17 remaining members of Trump’s presidential arts and humanities panel resigned Friday in protest over his Charlottesville comments.
  70. Trump’s WH responded late Friday, saying Trump was going to disband the arts and humanities panel anyway.
  71. Trump and Melania said they will not attend this year’s Kennedy Center Honors in December. According to Huckabee Sanders, the decision is meant to allow “honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”
  72. The decision was made after numerous honorees announced their intentions to skip or protest if Trump attended. After Trump’s cancelation, event organizers said, “We are grateful for this gesture.”
  73. NBC called this week Trump’s “worst week yet,” and said he was more isolated than ever.
  74. Hope Hicks took over as the interim WH communications director, as Trump continued his search to replace Scaramucci. Hicks is the fourth person in that role.
  75. Trump’s personal lawyer John Dowd forwarded an email with secessionist Civil War propaganda. The email also stated the group Black Lives Matter “has been totally infiltrated by terrorist groups.”
  76. Trump’s DOJ issued a warrant to DreamHost demanding the company turn over all IP addresses related to DisruptJ20.org, a website used in planning actions to interrupt Trump’s inauguration.
  77. A week after the inauguration, the DOJ had asked for information such as people’s physical and email addresses and DreamHost had complied. DreamHost’s lawyers called the latest request a “complete overreach.
  78. NYT reported Mueller, for the first time, is seeking to interview past and current members of Trump’s WH beyond Manafort, including members of the communications team.
  79. Mueller is interested in interviewing Priebus about what occurred during the campaign and in the WH, especially as it relates to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting and the Comey firing.
  80. During a press conference on his visit to Columbia, Pence told reporters he “never witnessed” any evidence of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, and that he was “not aware” of it ever having occurred.
  81. WAPO reported Trump aid George Papadopoulos, starting in March 2016 with an email headed, “Meeting with Russian Leadership — Including Putin,” repeatedly tried to get Trump aides to meet with Russians.
  82. Experts on Russian intelligence speculated his email chain offers further evidence that Russians were looking for entry points into the Trump campaign. Papalopoulos said he was acting as a Russian intermediary.
  83. NYT reported on an investigation by Ukrainian investigators and the FBI of a Ukrainian malware expert named “Profexer,” for his part in a network of hackers allegedly engaged by Russia to hack the US election.
  84. Also under investigation is a Russian government hacking group, Advanced Persistent Threat 28 or Fancy Bear, believed to be involved in the DNC hacking. Much of the work was outsourced to private vendors.
  85. In the first know hitch, Mueller’s special counsel lost a top FBI investigator, Peter Strzok. It is unclear why Strzok stepped away.
  86. A US District court judge ruled that as part of a libel suit brought by Webzilla CEO Aleksej Gubarev against Buzzfeed, Steele could be questioned about the funding and sourcing of the dossier.
  87. Rep Rohrabacher, an advocate for the Kremlin, said he plans to brief Trump on his meeting with Assange. Assange told Rohrabacher that he was not behind the DNC hack, and that the Russians were not involved.
  88. Assange is trying to strike a deal so he can stop living in asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. In Week 23, Sessions said the DOJ was preparing charges against Assange whose “arrest is a priority.”
  89. The National Parks Service reversed a ban on plastic water bottles at national parks. The move came after confirmation of Trump’s Deputy Interior Secretary, who previously represented Deer Park Water.
  90. In a tweet, the Trump Organization featured a photo with the caption, “From our Presidential ballroom to intimate historic room,” to advertise meeting and event space.
  91. Raising ethical concerns, Justice Gorsuch is scheduled to address conservative groups at Trump Hotel DC in September, less than two weeks before the court will hear arguments on Trump’s Muslim Ban.
  92. Mattis’ DoD parted ways with senior media adviser, Steve Warren. Pentagon reporters have complained about lack of access to Mattis, and some recently being kicked off Mattis’s Middle East trip last minute.
  93. On Friday, Trump friend and ally Carl Icahn resigned as a special adviser to Trump, although Icahn had done nothing in that role. The WH said Icahn had been fired on Monday.
  94. Icahn resigned hours before The New Yorker published a piece on his conflicts of interest (see Week 20). The head of a watchdog group said, “This kind of self-enrichment and influence” was “unprecedented.”
  95. Trump tweeted photos from Camp David of him signing the Global War on Terrorism War Memorial Act. Of the 14 people at the signing, there was only one woman and not a single person of color.
  96. In an interview with The American Prospect on Wednesday, a venting Bannon referred to white supremacists as “clowns” and “losers.
  97. Contradicting Trump, Bannon said on N. Korea, “there’s no military solution here, they got us,” and added, “it’s just a sideshow.”
  98. In new interviews, Bannon said he viewed the post-Charlotte racial strife and turmoil as a political winner for Trump.
  99. On Friday, Trump fired Bannon. According to Bannon allies, he submitted his intention to leave the WH on August 7.
  100. Axios reported Bannon met with the billionaire Mercer family for five hours Friday in New York and “together they will be a well-funded force on the outside.”
  101. Bannon told Bloomberg that he would be returning to run Breitbart, and that he would be “going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America.”
  102. Bannon told the Weekly Standard, “The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” saying Trump will not achieve his campaign promises. Bannon vowed to continue the fight from the outside.
  103. In an op-ed titled, “I Voted for Trump, And I Sorely Regret It,” past avid supporter Julius Krein wrote of his disillusionment with Trump, and the realization that Trump would not achieve his stated goals.
  104. Right-wing radio host Limbaugh backed white nationalists and told his 26 million listeners that America is on the “cusp of a second civil war,” blaming international financiers who are trying to bring down America.
  105. On Saturday, Boston hosted a Free Speech Rally organized by conservatives and libertarians at Boston Commons. Friday, Mayor Walsh said 500 police officers would be there, and urged people to stay away.
  106. Thousands of counter-protestors marched through downtown Boston to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Police estimated 15k peacefully marched.

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 39: INCOMPETENT & UNWORTHY HE IS

Week 38 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

August 5, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-38-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-4730486b719a

This week, as his popularity hit new lows, Trump and his regime’s white nationalist push became more conspicuous and aggressive. Trump continues to irreverently lie — one such false statement on Donald Jr.’s June 9 meeting could directly implicate him in covering up the Russia scandal, which entered a new phase as Mueller impaneled a grand jury in Washington DC.

As a continuation of a theme over the past two weeks, the Republicans are finally pushing back on Trump, as Congress took steps to keep him in check. Trump seems prepared to fight Congress, along with battles he is already waging against the judicial branch and the media.

  1. On a Fox News interview, Conway advised WH staffers not to address Trump by his first name, and to treat him with “deference and humility.”
  2. On his Sunday show, Fareed Zakaria cautioned with Trump in power, the US faces something worse than being feared or derided — the US is “becoming irrelevant.”
  3. On Sunday, Putin ordered the US diplomatic missions in Russia to reduce their staff by 755 personnel, the single largest forced reduction, comparable only to the months after the Communist revolution in 1917.
  4. The Trump regime had no response to Putin’s order on Sunday, or for the entire week.
  5. ProPublica reported Customs and Border Protection is set to jumpstart Trump’s wall in a Texas national wildlife refuge. The agency will use money allotted by Congress for other purposes.
  6. A spokesperson for Pruitt’s EPA told WAPO the agency will make changes to the EPA Museum. For example, the exhibit on Obama’s Clean Power Plan will be removed, and coal may be added.
  7. CBN News reported nearly all of Trump’s cabinet officials attend Bible lessons with a pastor who compares Trump to biblical heroes.
  8. In a statement released Tuesday, 56 retired generals and admirals came out against Trump’s transgender military ban, arguing it would be disruptive and degrade military readiness.
  9. CBC News reported Montreal’s Olympic Stadium is being used to house a surge in asylum seekers crossing from the US. More than 1k crossed from the US into Quebec in July alone.
  10. The NAACP issued its first-ever travel advisory for a state. NAACP cited Missouri legislation making discrimination cases harder to win, recent racist incidents, and racial disparities in traffic enforcement.
  11. Kobach appealed an order requiring him to answer question under oathabout two documents containing plans for changes to US election law.
  12. A top EPA official, Elizabeth Sutherland, resigned after 30 years at the agency. In a scathing letter, she wrote, “The environmental field is suffering from the temporary triumph of myth over truth.”
  13. The Trump regime will redirect resources of the DOJ toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies, which the regime claim discriminate against white applicants.
  14. ProPublica reported Candice Jackson, DeVos’s pick to head the Civil Rights Office, said she faced discrimination for being white while at Stanford because of a help section reserved for minority students.
  15. WAPO reported Lizandro Claros Saravia, a standout soccer player who had a scholarship to play college soccer, was deported to El Salvador along with his brother after going to ICE to report he got into college.
  16. Documents released to the Daily Beast under the FOIA show high-level DHS officials ordered staff to stiff-arm members of Congress and treat lawyers with deep suspicion in the first hours of Trump’s Muslim Ban.
  17. In an ICE press release, the agency admitted in Kelly’s final sweep as DHS head, designed to catch Central Americans who had come to the US as family unit, 70% of those captured were not people being targeted.
  18. Tillerson’s State Dept is considering eliminating the promotion of democracy from its mission statement.
  19. Amateur hackers at the DefCon conference in Las Vegas were able to exploit vulnerabilities in five voting machine types within 24 hours.
  20. POLITICO reported that by firing of Priebus, Trump severed one of his few remaining ties to the Republican Party.
  21. In a bombshell story, WAPO reported Trump dictated Donald Jr.’s misleading statement claiming Russian adoption was the rationale for the June 9 meeting, while flying back from the G20.
  22. While at the G20, the NYT asked for comment on their pending story. Ivanka, Trump and Kushner met on the sidelines with advisers, who recommended telling the truth. Trump disregarded all advice.
  23. WAPO further reported Kushner’s lawyers first learned about the June 9 email trail while researching their response to Congressional investigators weeks prior. Advisers and lawyers for Trump, Donald Jr. and Kushner had mapped out a strategy for disclosing the information.
  24. WAPO further reported that with this misleading statement, Trump is now directly implicated in trying to cover up Russia scandal.
  25. The day after reports that Trump crafted Donald Jr.’s statement, CBS reported Congressional investigators requested Donald Jr.’s phone records around the time of the June 9 meeting.
  26. Trump ally former Sheriff Joe Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt of court for defying a court order to stop detaining suspected undocumented immigrants.
  27. Phoenix New Times reported Arpaio was a no-show for his pre-sentencing hearing on Thursday.
  28. Ahead of his first cabinet meeting with Kelly as chief of staff, Trump referred to the Cabinet Room as a “board room.
  29. Sec of Interior Zinke told GQ in an interview that Rick Perry was didn’t understand what his position is about, “I think he thought his department was more about energy than…science. Mostly, it’s science.”
  30. WAPO reported lobbyists are taking credit in the Trump era for writing bills to protect their industry that are passed in Congress with minimal input from the public, and little of no discussion in Congress.
  31. NYT reported Lewandowski has a new “advisory” business, which again is testing the ethical boundaries of Trump giving significant access and power to friends and loyalists not on the government payroll.
  32. WAPO reported Secret Service vacated its command post inside Trump Tower following a dispute over terms of the lease for the space. The post has been relocated to a trailer on the sidewalk.
  33. Six months after leaving office, Pence handed over state-related emailstransmitted from his personal AOL account. Some requests for Pence’s emails are more than a year old.
  34. Pence’s attorney, also a top fundraiser for Trump and Pence, determined which emails to release, raising concerns from watchdog groups.
  35. A US Court of Appeals ruled that 17 states and DC could pursue the Trump regime for their efforts to sabotage Obamacare.
  36. Ivanka said, “We are committed to supporting the American worker,” as 100% of her companies’ goods are manufactured overseas, and the Trump Organization and Eric’s winery seek to bring in foreign workers.
  37. WSJ reported the US attorney issued subpoenas to Kushner Cos. Employees and Kushner family members have allegedly been offering green cards in exchange for $500k investments in their properties.
  38. Kelly asserted his authority as chief of staff on Monday, firing Scaramucci immediately.
  39. Kelly’s first priority will be to gain control of the information that reaches Trump, with a goal of cutting out backchannels and bad information.
  40. Kelly reportedly called Sessions to tell him his job is safe.
  41. CNN reported Kelly was so upset about the handling of Comey’s firing, Kelly called Comey afterward and said he was considering resigning.
  42. On Tuesday, bowing to criticism on transparency, Tillerson held his first press briefing, saying he is not “very happy” with Congress’ vote to sanction Russia.
  43. Tillerson acknowledged the understaffed State Dept: 22 of 24 assistant secretary slots are either unfilled or staffed by Obama holdovers.
  44. On Tuesday, Greg Andres, a former DOJ official, became the 16th member of Mueller’s team. Andres has vast experience with white-collar crime, including fraud and illegal foreign bribery.
  45. On Tuesday, a story on Golf.com recounted a scene at Trump’s Bedminster golf club, in which he tells members the reason he stays away from Washington is because the White House is a “real dump.
  46. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “I love the White House, one of the most beautiful buildings (homes) I have ever seen,” and referred to Golf.com as “Fake News.”
  47. On Thursday, Golf.com responded with a podcast about the story, saying at least 8 people heard Trump call the WH a dump.
  48. At a tense July 19 meeting with generals, Trump complained about the options in Afghanistan, saying, “We are losing.” Trump also compared US efforts to the renovation of the 21 Club, infuriating the generals.
  49. Trump complained the US wasn’t getting a piece of Afghan’s mineral wealth, and said he was considering firing Gen. Nicholson.
  50. As Kelly established an organizational structure, McMaster fired two Bannon loyalists from the NSC: Rich Higgins and Ezra Cohen-Watnick.
  51. As the turf battle heated up between McMaster and Bannon, rumors circulated that Trump may send McMaster off to Afghanistan to replace Nicholson.
  52. On Thursday, McMaster cleared Susan Rice and said she will keep her top-secret security clearance. Circa reported Trump was not aware of McMaster’s decision.
  53. Conservative media turned on McMaster, calling him a “sycophant” and “deeply hostile to Israel and Trump.” A new app that tracks Russian troll activity also found “firemcmaster” as the most tweeted item.
  54. NPR reported on a lawsuit that alleges Fox News and Ed Butowsky, a wealthy Trump supporter, with the knowledge of the WH, created a fake story about murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich leaking DNC emails to WikiLeaks to help Trump deflect from Russian involvement.
  55. The story started May 10, the day after the Comey firing. A few days later, Butowsky texted Wheeler, the expert suing for being inaccurately cited in the story, that Trump “wants the article out immediately.”
  56. ABC reported Spicer met with two Fox News contributors about the Seth Rich story at the WH, and asked to be “kept abreast of developments.”
  57. Yahoo reported the lawyer who is suing Fox News on behalf of Wheeler will seek to depose Trump and Spicer.
  58. Reporter Andrew Feinberg, who worked at Sputnik, said he was pushed to cover the Seth Rich story: “It’s really telling that the White House is pushing the same narrative as a state-run Russian propaganda outlet.”
  59. Newsweek reported Russia is using LinkedIn to target critics by damaging their reputations and chances for employment, and possible exposing them to physical harm beyond social media.
  60. On Wednesday, flanked by senators Cotton and Perdue, Trump introduced a bill to slash immigration levels in half over the next decade.
  61. Trump said the bill, named the RAISE Act, will favor green card applicants who speak English, financially support themselves, and contribute to the economy.
  62. AP fact checked Trump’s speech and found it was full of false statements.
  63. The bill was sharply rebuked by Democrats and Republicans. Catholic Bishops issued a strong statement against RAISE, saying it will weaken family bonds and impact ability to respond to those in crisis.
  64. At a contentious press briefing after the RAISE Act announcement, Stephen Miller said the 1883 “huddled masses” poem inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty doesn’t matter since it was “added later.
  65. Miller also acted aggressively towards a NYT and CNN reporters. Miller said CNN’s Jim Acosta, son of Cuban immigrants who did not speak English, had a “Cosmopolitan bias.
  66. ‘Cosmopolitan’ is an anti-Semitic term used by 20th century authoritarian regimes.
  67. The Anne Frank Center tweeted that Nazis found Anne Frank on August 4, 1944, after her family was denied entrance to the US in 1941, for “Reasons refugees hear now.
  68. Trump told the WSJ the head of the boy scouts called him to say his jamboree speech was “the greatest speech that was ever made to them.” The Boy Scouts denied any call from national leadership was made.
  69. Trump also told the WSJ that Mexican president Peña Nieto called him and told him fewer people were crossing the border. This is also a lie.
  70. WH press secretary Sanders revised Trump’s statements to say an individual Boy Scout leader called Trump, and the statement from Peña Nieto took place in a conversation at the G20.
  71. On Wednesday Trump signed the Russia sanctions bill behind closed doors and with no press coverage. Trump criticized Congress, but said nothing of Russia interference or the 755 US embassy members removed.
  72. In a statement, Trump called the measure “significantly flawed.” Trump also said it “encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate,” adding, “I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars.”
  73. On Thursday, Trump again attacked Congress, tweeting, “Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low,” and you can thank “the same people that can’t even give us HCare!”
  74. McCain responded, “You can thank Putin for attacking our democracy, invading neighbors & threatening our allies” for the dangerous low.
  75. Russia PM Medvedev said the Trump regime “has demonstrated full impotence.” He also tweeted the Trump regime has shown its “total weakness” in handing power to Congress “in the most humiliating way.”
  76. On Wednesday, Trump approval dropped to new lows: Rasmussen (38 approve), Gallup (36–60) and Quinnipiac (33–61). Trump used to cite Rasmussen as his favorite when his approval there reached high 50s.
  77. Quinnipiac also found American voters say 54–26 that they are embarrassed to have Trump as a leader.
  78. On Thursday, two bipartisan pairs of senators (Graham/Booker, Tillis/Coons) released legislation to block Trump from firing Mueller without good reason.
  79. Buzzfeed reported the RNC has instructed staff not to delete or modify any documents related to last year’s campaign, given “the potentially expansive scope of the inquiries and investigations.”
  80. WSJ reported Mueller impaneled a grand jury in Washington to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, a sign his inquiry is growing in intensity. Trump’s special counsel Cobb, was not aware.
  81. A grand jury is already impaneled in Alexandria, VA to investigate Flynn. The second grand jury and recent hires shows the investigation has entered a new phase. The location gives Mueller’s team easy proximity.
  82. Reuters reported grand jury subpoenas have been issued in connection to the June 9 meeting between Donald Jr., Veselnitskaya and others.
  83. On Thursday, Trump held a campaign rally in WV in which he called the Russia investigation a “hoax,” and presided over cheers of “Lock her up!”as he called for an investigation into Hillary’s deleted emails.
  84. Also of note at the rally, the supporters standing behind Trump as he spoke, a group typically carefully selected by staffers, was 100% white.
  85. As the Senate adjourned for the summer, WAPO reported this is a historically unproductive period of governance as Republicans had no major legislative achievements despite controlling Congress and the WH.
  86. The Senate unanimously agreed to a “pro forma” sessions before leaving for break, meaning Trump cannot make recess appointments. Murkowski, attacked by Trump in Week 37, did the wrap-up.
  87. The Interior Dept’s Office of the Inspector General launched a preliminary investigation of Zinke’s threats to the Alaska senators in an apparent effort to sway Murkowski to vote for the Obamacare repeal.
  88. NBC reported SCL Group, a private British behavioral research company related to Cambridge Analytica, was awarded several contracts by the State Dept.
  89. On their website, SCL Group advertised “our methodology has been approved by” with the State Dept and NATO logos. After NBC’s report, NATO and the State Dept asked that their logos be removed.
  90. AP reported Flynn will file an amended public financial filing to show he entered into a consulting agreement with SCL Group, a subsidiary of Cambridge Analytica.
  91. Cambridge Analytica is funded by Trump ally the Mercers, and per Week 26 is under investigation for possible interference in both Brexit and the 2016 US election.
  92. Flynn’s amended filing will also include $28k from the Trump transition team, and $5k as a consultant for an aborted Middle East nuclear power deal. Per Week 32, that Middle East deal was a venture with Russia.
  93. CNN reported that one year into the FBI’s Russia investigation, now headed by Mueller, the probe has expanded to focus on possible financial crimes, some of which are not connected to the 2016 elections.
  94. Investigators are looking into whether financial laws were broken, and whether Trump dealings could put members of the regime in a compromising position with Russia.
  95. Further, the FBI noticed a spate of curious communications between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence in the summer of 2016,including contact with Manafort on information damaging to Hillary.
  96. CNN also reported Page has been under a FISA warrant since 2014.
  97. VOX reported that as many as 10 or more senior intelligence officials, including Comey and McCabe, are likely to be interviewed as part of Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation.
  98. WAPO released the transcripts of Trump’s phone calls with Mexican President Peña Nieto and Australian PM Turnbull during Trump’s first week in office.
  99. When Peña Nieto said Mexico would not pay for the wall, Trump responded, “You cannot say that to the press,” acknowledging talk about the wall was more about image management than economic policy.
  100. Trump told Peña Nieto he won New Hampshire (a lie) because the state is “a drug-infested den.”
  101. Despite Trump claiming early on that reports of him berating Turnbull on the call were “fake news,” the transcript does confirm this. Trump told Turnbull he had a more pleasant call earlier with Putin.
  102. Trump balked at taking refugees from Australia as required in a deal struck by Obama, saying he hates taking these people, and they could “become the Boston bomber in five years.”
  103. As Trump departed for a three-week vacation at this golf course in Bedminster, GQ labelled him “the laziest president in American history.
  104. Likewise, the cover of Newsweek referred to Trump as “Lazy Boy” and pictures him a chair watching television and eating junk food. The accompanying article refers to him as “America’s boy king.
  105. Staffers of Republicans on the House Intel Comm traveled to London to track down Steele, author of the dossier. POLITICO reported growing tensions as Democrats on the House Intel Comm, Sen Intel Comm members, and Mueller were not notified.
  106. In a press conference Friday, Sessions threatened the DOJ may prosecute journalists over suspected leaks. Sessions also said he is reviewing the DOJ’s policies affecting media subpoenas.
  107. NYT reported Mueller’s special counsel made its first formal request to the WH to hand over documents. Mueller seeks information on the financial dealing of Flynn related his company’s work for Turkey.
  108. Flynn was paid $530k. Investigators want to know if the Turkish government was behind the payments, and if Flynn Intel Group made kickbacks to Ekim Alptekin, for concealing the source of the money.
  109. Flynn’s now third version of financial disclosure forms list $1.8mm in income, $400k more than in his prior forms.
  110. Failing to register as a foreign agent is a felony, and trying to hide to source of money by routing it through a private company, and using kickbacks to a middle man, could lead to criminal charges.

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 38: TINY “DICK RUSHMORE”

Week 37: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

July 29, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-37-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-95953670b72a

This was a week of complete disarray within the Trump regime: firings, resignations, withdrawals. Trump distracted and played to his remaining base all week by targeting marginalized groups, and ramping up hateful rhetoric.

Also of note, and a continuation from Week 36: Republicans are turning on Trump — this week, not just in words this week, but in actions. And in response, by firing Priebus and replacing him with a general, Trump seems to be preparing for an aggressive approach towards the legislative branch.

  1. On Sunday, Trump’s comm director Scaramucci told State of the Union Trump is still not sure if Russia interfered in our election. This, just after Pompei, Coats and Dunford confirmed Russia meddled (Week 36).
  2. As Trump floated the idea of firing Mueller, Former CIA director Brennan said elected officials need to “stand up” if this happens.
  3. After Trump said, “we’ll let Obamacare fail,” Trump has taken several steps to sabotage ACA, and make that a reality.
  4. Since taking office, Trump has spent nearly 1 in 3 days at a Trump property, and 1 in 5 days at a Trump golf property.
  5. CNBC reported investors have dumped the majority of ‘Trump trades.’ Investors are no longer confident tax reform, deregulation and fiscal stimulus will happen.
  6. New Yorker interviewed a veteran ICE agent, disillusioned under Trump. The agent said they are explicitly encouraged to pursue undocumented as aggressively as possible, adding “We’re going to get sued.”
  7. He also noted agents no longer look at the “totality of the circumstances,” and that it’s not just the person being removed, but “their entire family.”
  8. Several people were arrested by ICE at the Houston INS office when they went for their marriage interviews for green cards.
  9. Pew Research found that 75% of Muslim Americans believe there is a lot of discrimination against Muslims in the US, and 74% believe Trump is unfriendly towards them.
  10. Thousands marched in Warsaw to protest their right-wing government’s attempted control of the Supreme Court and judiciary. Trump chose Poland en route to the G20 to deliver a nationalistic speech (Week 34).
  11. On Monday, Trump continued to signal the possibility of firing Sessions, referring to him in a tweet as “our beleaguered A.G.
  12. Trump floated the idea of Rudy Giuliani as a replacement for Sessions. WAPO reported replacing Sessions is viewed by some Trump associates as part of a possible strategy to fire Mueller.
  13. Trump continued to target Sessions on Tuesday, tweeting he “has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes,” and asking on a phone call with an associate, “What would happen if I fired Sessions?
  14. Trump continued attacking Sessions on Twitter Wednesday, questioning why he hadn’t fired acting FBI director McCabe.
  15. WAPO reported Trump spoke privately with confidants and advisers about the possibility of replacing Sessions with a recess appointment.
  16. Grassley responded tweeting the agenda for the Senate Judiciary Comm is set for the rest of 2017, and would not have time for an AG nomination. Democrats threatened to block recess appointments.
  17. Breaking their typical silence, several Senate Republicans spoke out against Trump’s treatment of their former colleague, Sessions. Sen Roberts (KS) said, “It’s very difficult, it’s disconcerting, it’s inexplicable.”
  18. Sessions told Fox News that Trump’s attacks are “kind of hurtful,” but that he intended to stay on and serve as long as Trump will let him.
  19. In an op-ed, Yates warned Trump is trying to “dismantle the rule of law, destroy the time-honored independence” of the DOJ, and if we’re not careful, “our justice system may be broken beyond recognition.”
  20. Yates cited as examples Trump’s efforts to bully Sessions into resigning, his goading Sessions to re-opening an investigation on a former political rival, and his efforts to get Comey to back off from Flynn then firing him.
  21. NYT reported David Apol, Trump’s choice to replace Shaub, has clashed with OGE employees over his efforts to roll back or loosen ethics requirements on federal employees, including those in the WH.
  22. The Center for Public Integrity reported Bannon is potentially violating the Antideficiency Act, by using an outside shadow press office not employed by the Trump regime, and providing services for free.
  23. In another blow to the credibility of Trump’s Election Integrity Comm, a federal judge upheld a fine against Kobach, citing a “pattern” of “misleading the Court” in voter-ID cases.
  24. A lawyer in West Palm Beach filed a lawsuit with a federal judge in FL, saying Trump is violating the Constitution by making money from renting rooms in his hotels or other buildings to federal agencies.
  25. According to Gallup, Trump’s approval in underwater in 11 of the states he won in November, including NC (-11), MI (-10), WI (-9) and PA (-9).
  26. Trump’s Boy Scouts jamboree speech turned into a political rally, as Trump led the crowd to boo Hillary and Obama, chided the “fake news” and Washington “cesspool,” and promised to bring back Christmas.
  27. Boy Scouts of America faced a backlash after Trump’s speech, which some compared to Hitler’s Youth. Former scouts called for a public denouncement, and called the speech “a disgrace.”
  28. Randall Stephenson, the national president of the Boy Scouts of America is also CEO of AT&T, whose pending merger with Time Warner requires government approval. In Week 34, the Trump regime discussed using this pending merger as leverage over CNN’s reporting and president.
  29. The day after reporting on Stephenson’s role as CEO of AT&T, the Chief Scout Executive for the Boy Scouts of America issued an apology.
  30. After the State Dept’s Cyber Coordinator resigned (Week 36), Tillerson plans to shutter the State’s Office for the Coordination of Cyber Issues.
  31. The State Dept’s head of diplomatic security bureau, Bill Miller, resigned. Miller is one of a long list of senior State Dept officials who have resigned since Trump took office.
  32. CNN reported Tillerson is considering resigning, citing his frustration and doubt that “the tug-of-war” with the WH would subside. Tillerson is also upset about Trump’s unprofessional treatment of Sessions.
  33. Many of State Dept’s typical responsibilities have been re-assigned to the WH in a consolidation of power, including Kushner taking the Middle East, and in Week 36, the WH taking over Iran compliance certification.
  34. On Tuesday, Tillerson said he would taking time off. The State Dept refused to comment on if he is happy.
  35. Longtime chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell criticized the lack of transparency from and access to Trump’s State Dept.
  36. Speculation grew that McMaster may resign. POLITICO reported on a meeting on Afghan policy, described as a “s*** show.” Axios reported McMaster is frustrated by the “disorganization and indiscipline.”
  37. Scaramucci threatened mass firings, saying he will purge aides who are not loyal to Trump or leak. His first firing happened Tuesday: assistant press secretary Michael Short, who is close to Priebus and Spicer.
  38. Trump’s nominee to lead the DOJ’s criminal division, Brian Benczkowski, disclosed to Congress that he previously represented Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s largest banks, whose owners have close ties to Putin.
  39. The FBI is investigating data transmission between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization’s servers during the election, which may indicate back-channel communications.
  40. Benczkowski took on representing Alfa Bank after serving as part of Trump’s transition team. He continued despite reports of the FBI investigation (Week 21), and continued until his nomination in June.
  41. A complaint filed by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control alleges Trump ally Rohrbacher violated the Magnitsky Act by trying to get Russia’s deputy general prosecutor removed from the US sanctions list.
  42. Ahead of his Monday, closed-door testimony to the Senate Intel Comm, Kushner publicly released the full text of his testimony in which he denied participating in, or knowledge about, collusion with Russia.
  43. After his Senate testimony, the WH set up a podium with the White House seal for Kushner to make his statement to the media.
  44. Kushner stood at the podium and said, “I did not collude,” nor did he know anyone in the campaign who did. He said his actions were “proper and occurred in the normal course of events of a very unique campaign.”
  45. On the June 9 Trump Tower meeting with Russians, Kushner claimed he was unaware of the promise of damaging information, despite the email subject line: “Re: Russia — Clinton — private and confidential.”
  46. Kushner claimed he met with four Russians but did not discuss specific policies, including US sanctions against Russia.
  47. Kushner also said, “I have not relied on Russian funds for my businesses.” ‘Relied’ seemed a carefully chosen term for its possibility to obfuscate.
  48. Guardian reported Kushner bought part of the old New York Times building from a Russian oligarch, Lev Leviev, known as the “king of diamonds,” for $295mm in 2015.
  49. Kushner’s recently disclosed $285mm loan from Deutsche Bank was used to refinance this deal. The purchase is part of Mueller’s investigation of Trump-Russia ties.
  50. Leviev also sold properties to Prevezon, the Russian company represented by Veselnitskaya: apartments at 20 Pine Street in NYC. The property was subject to a money laundering case.
  51. The Prevezon money laundering case, originally brought by Bharara for $230mm before he was fired, was settled by Sessions two days before trial for $6mm. The 20 Pine Street apartments were also released.
  52. Mother Jones reported on Monday, former senator Carl Levin sent a letter to Mueller about his 2000 investigation of Kaveladze, who he described as a “poster child” for Russian money laundering.
  53. Levin said Kaveladze circulated more than $1.4bn through US bank accounts. Kaveladze was Aras Agalarov’s representative at Donald Jr.’s June 9 Trump Tower meeting.
  54. Ivanka hired a defense lawyer to represent her in the Russia investigation. Donald Jr. hired an additional lawyer with congressional experience to his legal team.
  55. On Tuesday, Manafort testified in front of the Senate Intel Comm on the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower. Tuesday, he was also subpoenaed by the Senate Judiciary Comm to appear.
  56. On Tuesday, Kushner testified behind closed doors for the House Intel Comm. Democratic leader Schiff said Kushner had agreed to come back.
  57. On Thursday, Bill Browder, founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management which was looted by Russian kleptocrats in a case that gave rise to the Magnitsky Act, testified in front of the Sen Judiciary Comm.
  58. Browder testified he believed there was more than one meeting between Veselnitskaya and Donald Jr., Kushner and Manafort, and that Veselnitskaya’s goal would be to repeal the Magnitsky Act.
  59. Browder also testified that Russian intelligence knew about the June 9 meeting in advance, and that he believes Fusion GPS — the firm behind the Russian dossier to get dirt on Trump — was hired by the Russians.
  60. On Tuesday, by a vote of 419–3, the House passed a Russian sanctions bill, punishing Russia for election interference, and curbing Trump’s power to roll back sanctions.
  61. Russia warned of a “painful” response if Trump backed the sanction bill, calling it “anti-Russian hysteria.”
  62. Weekly Standard reported their interview with Vladimir Kara-Mirza, a Russian journalist, politician and filmmaker, started late because he was in the hospital being treated for poison, again.
  63. Buzzfeed filed a lawsuit to compel the release of information on the death of Putin’s former media czar, Mikhail Lesin, who was brutally murdered in DC the night before a planned meeting with DOJ in November 2015.
  64. The Senate passed a motion to proceed on healthcare Tuesday with no input, no debate, no CBO score, and without knowing what they would be voting on once the motion passed. 13% support Obamacare repeal.
  65. The vote was 50–50, with Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. After the passage, uncharacteristic chants erupted on the Senate floor of “kill the bill,” and “shame, shame, shame.”
  66. Ahead of the vote, reporters were blocked from the Senate halls where protestors were being arrested. Reporters were told, “no photos. Delete your photos.
  67. A hot mic in the Senate captured a conversation between senators Reed and Collins, with Reed saying of Trump, “I think — I think he’s crazy,” and Collins responding, “I’m worried.”
  68. Trump’s s actions have galvanized many who care about health care, climate change and research funding to run for office. A PAC called “314 ACT” (named for pi) was set up to recruit and assist scientists to run.
  69. At a rally in Ohio Tuesday, Trump said he could act more presidential than any other president except, “the late, great Abraham Lincoln.” He also joked he should be on Mount Rushmore.
  70. Trump also told a graphic tale about illegal immigrants slicing up beautiful teenage girls with knives, “They don’t want to use guns because it’s too fast and it’s not painful enough.” The story is a lie.
  71. WAPO reported between the Ohio and Boy Scout rally, Trump made 29 false or misleading statements.
  72. On Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted the US government would “will not accept or allowTransgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.
  73. The Pentagon was not informed of Trump’s announcement ahead of time, and was left scrambling with no plan in place for implementation, including how to deal with transgender individuals now serving.
  74. The House and Senate Armed Services Committees were also not notified. The committees were awaiting results from a 6 month review of potential impact ordered by Mattis in Week 33.
  75. On Thursday, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff instructed the military policy on who is allowed to serve would not change until the WH sends DoD new rules and the secretary of defense issues new guidelines.
  76. Mattis was on vacation when Trump tweeted. According to the NYT, he was given only one day’s notice about the decision, and per people close to him, was appalled that Trump used Twitter for the announcement.
  77. Even Republicans spoke out against Trump’s plan to ban transgender individuals. Conservative Sen Hatch said, “Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them.”
  78. Trump’s candidate for a senior position at the DHS, John Fluharty, withdrew from consideration because of Trump’s transgender ban.
  79. Wednesday, in a second attack on the LGBTQ community, Sessions’s DOJ filed a brief saying that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not cover employment discrimination “based on sexual orientation.
  80. Rep Farenthold said of “some female senators from the Northeast” who were against an Obamacare repeal, if they were a guy from south Texas, “I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.
  81. Wednesday, Trump chastised Sen Murkowski tweeting she had let the Republicans and country down by not voting to repeal Obamacare.
  82. Later that afternoon, Interior Sec Ryan Zinke called both of Alaska’s senators, saying Murkowski’s vote would impact the Trump’s administrations view on issues that are a priority for Alaska.
  83. Of note, all during the week, Republican men insulted and threatened their female colleagues for not supporting their healthcare bills. Male senators not in support did not face the same harassment.
  84. Graham said Thursday, “there will be holy hell to pay” if Trump fires Sessions, and said if Trump fires Mueller without good reason, it would be “the beginning of the end” of Trump’s presidency.
  85. Later that day, Graham and Booker said they will introduce a bi-partisan bill next week that will limit Trump’s ability to fire Mueller.
  86. On Wednesday night, Scaramucci accused Priebus of leaking his financial disclosure information, and said he would be contacting the FBI. Shortly after POLITICO indicated the information is public, he deleted the tweet.
  87. Scaramucci gave an interview to The New Yorker Thursday, saying of his colleagues, “Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” and “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock.
  88. Scaramucci also threatened leakers, saying, “What I want to do is I want to fucking kill all the leakers.
  89. Later that evening, Scaramucci tried to shift the blame to the reporter, tweeting, “I made a mistake in trusting in a reporter,” but Lizza shot back saying he had a recording of the call which was “100% on the record.”
  90. On Thursday, the Senate passed a new sanction bill by a 98–2 vote, which would sharply limit Mr. Trump’s ability to suspend or lift sanctions on Russia. With House and Senate passage, the bill now goes to Trump.
  91. On Friday, Russia retaliated, expelling a large number of US diplomats and seizing US diplomatic properties.
  92. Late Friday, the WH announced Trump plans to sign the bill.
  93. Trump encouraged officers to be rough with suspects in a speech to police Friday on Long Island, addressing the gang MS-13.
  94. Trump also used the speech to encourage Congress to find money to pay for 10k more ICE officers “so that we can eliminate MS-13.”
  95. After the speech, the Suffolk County PD tweeted, “As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.”
  96. Later that evening, a second police department, Gainevilles Police (FL), also rejected Trump’s remarks, citing “The @POTUS made remarks today that endorsed and condoned police brutality.”
  97. The International Association of Chiefs of Police issued a statement Friday night countering Trump, saying officers are trained to treat all individuals “with dignity and respect.”
  98. After all other versions of Senate healthcare bills failed, late Friday, the Senate voted on the “Skinny Repeal.” An 8-page copy of the bill was provided to Democrats at 10 pm Friday night, ahead of a midnight vote.
  99. The night prior, GOP senators Johnson, Graham and Cassidy announced they would only vote for the “Skinny Repeal” if House Republicans assured them that it would never become law. Still the vote proceeded.
  100. Ahead of the vote, Enzi filibustered the Senate floor for an hour. Democrats tried to interrupt and ask questions. Enzi told Murray, “Perhaps your time might be better spent taking a look at the bill.
  101. At 1:30 am Friday morning, after over an hour spent by Pence and other Republicans to change McCain’s mind, the Skinny Repeal bill was voted down 49–51: Collins, Murkowski and McCain voted with Democrats.
  102. After the failed vote, at 2:25 am, Trump tweeted, “let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!
  103. Trump also again pushed for the Republicans to end the legislative filibuster, a long-time norm in the Senate, so bills can pass with 51 votes.
  104. Trump unceremoniously fired Priebus, informing press and staff shortly after Air Force One landed in DC. WSJ reported that part of Trump’s rationale was that Priebus did not fire back at Scaramucci.
  105. Priebus served the shortest time of any chief of staff in a president’s first term since WW2.
  106. The WSJ Editorial Board excoriated Trump over the Priebus firing, writing “this shuffling of the staff furniture won’t matter unless Mr. Trump accepts that the White House problem isn’t Mr. Priebus. It’s him.”
  107. WAPO tracked the Trump regime’s unusually long list of firings, resignations, and withdrawals from consideration. Trump also has far less appointed and confirmed candidates for key executive roles.
  108. Trump appointed General John Kelly, current Secretary of DHS. Kelly little political and legislative experience. One Ryan-Priebus ally said the next phase of Trump presidency will be warfare against GOP Congress.
  109. On Saturday morning, Trump tweeted attacks Republicans, saying they “look like fools” and that Democrats “are laughing at R’s.
  110. Trump also commanded Republicans to change norms: “Republican Senate must get rid of 60 vote NOW!” and he threatened if healthcare did not pass, he would end “BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress.

A meme this week:

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 36: GAG ME ~ maga…

Week 35 of ‘36% liked’ (as of today) trump presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

July 15, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-35-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-b903f89596c9

I’m pleased to share that “The Weekly List” has found a safe home at the Library of Congress. May future generations learn from our slow slide to authoritarianism, and never let it happen again!

This week the bombshell story about Donald Jr.’s emails, the first direct evidence of possible collusion and intent between the Trump campaign and Russia, dominated media coverage and conversation. But as with each week, amidst the bedlam, there were a myriad of less-covered, important stories on how the fabric of our country is changing, and kleptocracy is omnipresent.

  1. After the G20, Pope Francis warned about “dangerous” international alliances, including the one between the US and Russia.
  2. On Sunday after returning from the G20, Trump sent a bizarre set of tweets, including his apparent acceptance that Putin did not meddle in our election, and his plan to set up a Cyber Security unit with Putin.
  3. After widespread condemnation of his Cyber Security unit idea, Trump tweeted Sunday night that he didn’t really mean it.
  4. US officials say Russia government hackers were behind recent cyber-intrusions into the administrative and business networks of a US nuclear power plant and other energy companies.
  5. Reuters reported European infrastructure networks have also recently been hacked, and the Russian government is thought to be the culprit.
  6. An Arkansas bill scheduled to go into effect July 30 would make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion without notifying the man who impregnated her, even in cases of rape.
  7. On Monday, Capitol police arrested citizens protesting the GOP health care bill outside of Republican senate offices.
  8. A federal judge halted the deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals, including many Christians fearing persecution. The Trump’s regime efforts to deport took on new urgency because Iraq has agreed to accept deportees.
  9. An Iranian cancer researcher traveling on a valid visa to the US to work as a visiting scholar at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, was detained at Logan Airport, along with his wife and three children.
  10. Pew Research found the percentage of Muslim refugees has steadily declined under Trump from 50% in February to 31% in June, while the percentage of Christian refugees has increased from 41% to 57%.
  11. A federal judge’s ruling in Hawaii narrowed the scope of Trump’s Muslim Ban by vastly expanding the list of family relationships with U.S. citizens that visa applicants can use to get into the US.
  12. Trump ally Steve King called for using federal funds set aside for Planned Parenthood and welfare programs like food stamps to be reallocated for funding Trump’s Mexican Wall.
  13. POLITICO reported that Trump and his regime are quietly working with conservative senators Cotton and Perdue to cut the number of legal immigrants allowed into the US by half over the next decade.
  14. According to a memo obtained by WAPO, the Trump regime is considering expanding the DHS’s power to expedite the deportation of illegal immigrants, a major expansion of the agency’s power.
  15. DeVos met with MRA groups who believe campus sexual assault is a hoax, including The National Coalition for Men, an organization with a history of harassing and intimidating alleged sexual-assault survivors.
  16. DeVos also met with Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), an organization SPLC described as promoting misogyny. SAVE has lobbied against efforts to address military sexual assault, calling it a “witch hunt.”
  17. Ahead of these pivotal meeting, Candice Jackson, the acting assistant secretary for civil right at the Education Dept said 90% of campus sexual accusations come after drunk sex or break-ups. She later apologized.
  18. Sessions delivered a speech to Alliance Defending Freedom, a group designated as an “anti-LGBT hate group” by the SPLC in 2016, off camera on Tuesday. The DOJ refused to release his remarks.
  19. Rep Martha McSally stood on the House floor Wednesday in a sleeveless dress and open-toed shoes to say she would not comply with the dress code in the chamber and Speaker’s lobby.
  20. On Friday, female members of the House wore sleeveless clothing to work, tweeting in support of “Sleeveless Friday.”
  21. Price’s HHS quietly defunded teen pregnancy programs designed by the Obama administration to fund scientifically valid ways to help teenagers make healthy decisions that avoid unwanted pregnancy.
  22. The ACLU filed a suit against Trump’s Election Integrity Commission, saying it isn’t following federal law requiring it to be open to the public.
  23. Trump’s Election Integrity Commission published a 112 page document of public feedback (mostly negative), which exposed personal informationincluding email addresses, phone numbers and home addresses of some.
  24. Over 3k Colorado voters have canceled their registrations since Trump’s Election Integrity Commission requested voter roll information.
  25. A non-partisan campaign finance watchdog group filed a complaint with the FEC alleging Price improperly used his congressional campaign fund to promote his confirmation to HHS Secretary.
  26. Center for Public Integrity reported Bannon failed to properly disclose more than $2mm in mortgage debt on his financial disclosure form.
  27. Trump’s expected pick for chief of the Wage and Hour Division of the Dept of Labor, Cheryl Stanton, was named in a lawsuit last year for allegedly not paying her house cleaners.
  28. WAPO reported that while Trump has chastised companies for outsourcing jobs and Ivanka branded herself a feminist, Ivanka’s clothing lines are exclusively produced at low-wage foreign factories, and women employees are not well treated.
  29. After Trump’s much ballyhooed deal with Carrier to keep American jobs, Indiana has lost 5k manufacturing jobs since February.
  30. WSJ reported the CEO of a OpenGov, a small start-up that Kushner’s brother has a stake in, got a seat at a WH roundtable for prominent technology-industry leaders last month. Kushner owned the stake before selling it to his brother early in the year.
  31. POLITICO reported that conservative Sinclair Broadcasting increased “must run” segments featuring former Trump adviser Epshteyn to nine times per week, across its affiliates.
  32. Sputnik, a Russian government-funded news outlet, started broadcasting on 105.5 FM last week from K-Street offices, a few blocks from the WH.
  33. Within 24 hours of announcing “The Weekly List” will be archived in the Library of Congress, I was the target of two hit pieces in Sputnik News, one in RT, and other various Russia-friendly blogs.
  34. NYT reported that Pence has quietly hosted at least four private dinners, and has more in the works, to court big donors and corporate executives.
  35. The Trump regime’s deregulation teams is full of appointees with deep industry ties. NYT and ProPublica reported on 71 appointees with industry links, including 28 with potential conflicts.
  36. Intercept reported Kushner tried to get a half-billion loan bailout for his 666 Fifth Avenue from a Qatar sovereign wealth fund, and the deal not coming to fruition may have influenced US policy towards Qatar.
  37. USA Today reported a US Golf Association exec told USGA executive committee members that Trump threatened to sue the organization if it moved the 2017 US Women’s Open from Trump‘s golf club in Bedminster.
  38. Trump tweeted: “I will be at the @USGA #USWomensOpen in Bedminster,” advertising one of his properties again.
  39. Documents released to WAPO under the FOIA show the State Dept spent more than $15k for rooms at the new Trump hotel in Vancouver.
  40. At the behest of Bannon, Trump aides Prince and Feinberg, both who benefited from military contracting, developed an alternative plan to the one proposed by the Pentagon for Afghanistan. Their plan was to rely on contractors (mostly non-American) instead of American military troops.
  41. Twitter users who were blocked by Trump’s personal account are suing him in federal court, saying he violated their First Amendment rights.
  42. Trump tweeted that Comey had “leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION” and “That is so illegal!” The Columbia law professor who received some of Comey’s memos, said the memos he received were not classified.
  43. Saturday evening, NYT reported that Donald Jr., Kushner and Manafort met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer with close Kremlin ties, at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016.
  44. Donald Jr. initially claimed the meeting was related to an adoption program. Kushner had failed to disclose the meeting in his security clearance. Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign manager at the time, had no comment on the meeting.
  45. On Sunday, NYT reported Donald Jr. met with the Veselnitskaya after being promised damaging information on Hillary. The meeting took place two weeks after Trump became the GOP nominee.
  46. On the question of whether Trump campaign colluded with Russia, NYTnoted Donald Jr.’s meeting is “the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help.”
  47. A spokesperson for Trump’s lawyer told the NYT, “the president was not aware of and did not attend the meeting.”
  48. Donald Jr. hired attorney Alan Futerfas to represent him in the Russiaprobe, adding to a long list of attorneys defending Team Trump.
  49. WAPO reported the acquaintance who set up the meeting was Rob Goldstone, who was active in the Miss Universe pageant and works as a manager for Russian pop singer, Emin Agalarov.
  50. As news was breaking on Donald Jr., Russia’s Lavrov threatened that Russia is “considering specific measures” as retribution for Trump not returning two compounds seized by the Obama administration.
  51. On Tuesday, Donald Jr. preemptively tweeted his email exchange in setting up the Trump Tower meeting. Donald Jr had been contacted by the NYT for comment, asked for more time, then tweeted.
  52. Shortly after his tweet, the NYT story broke. In addition to the emails, the story details the changing accounts by all involved parties.
  53. Per emails, Donald Jr was offered information that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” and “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
  54. Donald Jr.’s response was: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.
  55. Donald Jr. forwarded the email chain — with the subject line, “Re: Russia — Clinton — private and confidential” — to Kusher and Manafort ahead of the meeting.
  56. The email was sent by Rod Goldstone on behalf of a mutual friend, Emin Agalarov. Emin is the son of Aras Agalarov, a real estate tycoon referred to as the “Donald Trump of Russia,” who has close ties to, and was awarded the “Order of Honor of the Russian Federation” by, Putin.
  57. The meeting took place in Trump Tower, one floor below Trump’s offices.Trump continued to deny knowledge or involvement all week.
  58. According to emails, the meeting took place at 4:00 pm. Donald Jr. said it lasted 20–30 minutes. At 4:40 pm same day, Trump tweeted in response to a tweet by Hillary, “where are your 33,000 emails that you deleted?”
  59. Julian Assange tweeted, “Contacted Trump Jr this morning on why he should publish his emails (i.e with us),” indicating he has been in contact with Donald Jr.
  60. WAPO reported Donald Jr. changed his story about the meeting with Veselnitskaya four times in the first four days of the story coming to light.
  61. NYT reported Trump personally signed off on Donald Jr.’s first statement Saturday night saying his meeting with a Russian lawyer was to discuss adoption policy — a known lie.
  62. After releasing his emails, Donald Jr. gave an interview to Fox News telling his side of the story. Trump called his son “a high-quality person” and added, “I applaud his transparency.”
  63. Yahoo reported that Trump had a Moscow real estate deal with Aras Agalarov, the same Russian oligarch who set up the meeting with Veselnitskaya, to construct a Trump Tower in Moscow.
  64. A letter intent was signed by Trump, then as the presidential campaign got underway, Donald Jr. was assigned to take the lead. Ivanka also looked at spots for Trump Tower Moscow with Emin Agalarov.
  65. The deal did not happen because the Russian economy floundered, in part because of US and EU sanctions imposed after Crimea and Ukraine. Doing away with US sanctions could help put the deal back on track.
  66. In April 2016, Emin and Aras Agalarov told WAPO they wanted Trump to be elected. Emin said Trump’s election would be “an amazing breakthrough” that would forge peace between Russia and the US.
  67. CNN reported Mueller’s investigators plan to examine the meeting and email exchanges disclosed by Donald Jr. as part of their broader Russian-meddling investigation.
  68. On “The Late Show” Tuesday night, Joe Scarborough announced he is leaving the Republican Party. “It’s a shame there are so few Republicans speaking truth to power,” Scarborough tweeted.
  69. NYT reported Tuesday that Trump’s long-time personal attorney and lead counsel for the Russia probe, Kasowitz, has been the target of Trump’s frustration and ire, and may resign.
  70. ProPublica reported that as Trump’s lead attorney on the Russia probe, Kasowitz is unable to see classified information because he isn’t seeking security clearance, and may have trouble getting one.
  71. On Wednesday night, Kasowitz threatened a stranger in an email, saying “I’m on you now,” and “Watch your back, bitch,” etc. Later, he apologized through a spokesperson, saying he was working late that night.
  72. McClatchy reported that Congressional and DOJ investigators are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states.
  73. Kushner, who is already a “person of interest” for the DOJ investigations, will be investigated for his role overseeing the digital operations, and for possible cooperation with Russian efforts.
  74. Of note, the Russians knew to target women and African-Americans in two of the three decisive states, Wisconsin and Michigan. Clinton lost WI, MI and PA by a combined 77,744 votes out of 13.9 million ballots cast.
  75. WSJ reported that in light of Donald Jr. emails, US intel investigators are re-examining conversations captured in the spring of 2015 of Russian government officials discussing associates of Trump.
  76. Rep Brad Sherman of CA introduced articles of impeachment against Trump. Rep Green of TX was the only other Democrat to join.
  77. AP reported that Trump’s mysterious friend “Jim,” who Trump frequently referenced on the campaign trail and more recently ahead of his trip to Paris, may not actually exist.
  78. Trump faced heavy criticism after telling France’s first lady during his first state visit to the country, “You’re in such good shape.”
  79. Democratic members of the House Judiciary Comm sent a letter to Sessions asking why the DOJ settled a $230mm Russian money laundering case against Prevezon for $6mm two days before trial in May.
  80. Veselnitskaya represented the family of Pyotr Katsyv, whose son owns Prevezon. Democrats want to know is she was involved at any point in settlement negotiations.
  81. Prevezon was part of Russia’s largest tax fraud scheme. Magnitsky, the lawyer who exposed the alleged fraud, was jailed, tortured and killed in Russia. Veselnitskaya has been trying to undo the Act in his name.
  82. The case against Prevezon was initially brought by US attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by Trump.
  83. Axios reported Trump’s outside legal teams wants him to wall off Kushner from discussing the Russian investigation with Trump.
  84. On Thursday morning, NPR reported Sessions had defied a judge’s order by not supplying the required forms to show his foreign contacts. The court’s 30-day deadline expired Wednesday.
  85. Later that afternoon, a day late, the DOJ did release one heavily redacted page of Sessions’s SF86, showing only that he had checked a box “no” on whether he had met with any foreign governments in the past 7 years.
  86. New Republic reported that Trump’s relationship with Russia dates back to the 1980s, and over decades Russia has laundered money through Trump’s real estate and casinos.
  87. Gorka told CNN that Trump is considering returning the Russian compounds because “we want to give collaboration” a chance. US intel found evidence the compounds were used for spying on the US.
  88. Thursday, Trump said he would invite Putin to the WH at the right time. Trump also continued to not acknowledge that Russia who hacked our election, saying it could have been China or N. Korea.
  89. NYT reported that Kushner has supplemented his federal disclosure form three times, adding more than 100 foreign contact names.
  90. Chicago Tribune reported that Peter W. Smith, the GOP operative who detailed his efforts along with members of the Trump campaign to get Hillary’s deleted emails from Russian hackers, committed suicide.
  91. Smith’s interview with WSJ’s Shane Harris was the first report of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Smith’s suicide happened nine days after the interview occurred.
  92. Smith left a curious suicide note, citing a bad turn in his health, and writing, “NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER.” Harris said when he spoke to Smith, he had no indication “he was ill or planning to take his own life.
  93. NBC reported at the June 9 meeting, Veselnitskaya was accompanied by Rinat Akhmetshin a Russian-American lobbyist, and former Soviet counterintelligence officer with ongoing ties to Russian intelligence.
  94. AP confirmed that Akhmetshin attended the meeting. Donald Jr. had not disclosed Akhmetshin’s attendance, not had Kushner in his forms.
  95. Daily Beast reported Akhmetshin was previously accused in federal and state courts of orchestrating an international hacking conspiracy.
  96. Grassley, chair of the Sen Judiciary Comm, called on Donald Jr. to testify as early as next week. Grassley said he would subpoena him if necessary.
  97. Grassley filed a complaint against Akhmetshin in March, saying he was effectively engaged in lobbying work as an unregistered agent for Russian interests. Akhmetshin lobbied for Congress to repeal the Magnitsky Act.
  98. FP reported that the private email account of a top US intelligence officer working in the secretive arm of the State Dept focusing on Russia, was hacked. Russia is suspected of being behind the hack.
  99. Yahoo reported Trump lawyers knew about the emails three weeks ago, although Trump claimed he learned about them, “a couple of days ago.”
  100. Friday, CNN said there were at least 8 people at the Donald Jr./Veselnitskaya meeting.
  101. On the Friday Fox News hand-off from Shepard Smith to Chris Wallace, Smith said “Why is it lie after lie after lie?….The deception, Chris, is mind-boggling…Where are we, and why are we getting told all these lies?” Wallace answered, “I don’t know what to say.”
  102. Veselnitskaya told WSJ that she had been meeting regularly and sharing information with Russian authorities and Russia’s top prosecutor, Yuri Chaika — the “Crown prosecutor” referenced in Goldstone’s emails.
  103. Amid a legal team shake-up, Trump hired Ty Cobb to become point person inside the WH for matters related to Russia, and Kushner lawyer Jamie Gorelick stepped away from representing him on Russia.
  104. Maddow reported on a lawsuit filed by United to Protect Democracy on behalf of three citizens against Trump and Stone for their role in the public sharing of information hacked by the Russians. If it goes to trial, discovery could reveal information on how stolen info was disseminated.
  105. Friday, a judge order a retrial of the Code Pink activist who was arrested after she laughed during Sessions’s confirmation hearing.
  106. Lawyers for the only known DREAMer to be deported, filed supporting statement showing ICE agents wrongly forced him across the border.
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NYC-based street artist Andrea Cook. – photo by me in Chisinau, Moldova. 15july17.
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“Use Your Collusion, Vol. 1” by Orlando-based artist Andrew Spear.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 34: ROTTEN TO THE CORE

Week 33 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

July 1, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-33-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-a9315863b6cd

This week the first evidence of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia surfaced. Several key members of the Trump regime could be ensnared — big news, with major ramifications! Yet, most of our country was distracted by Trump’s Twitter war with Joe and Mika.

This week, Trump continued to use hate to keep his base engaged, while marginalizing and ignoring those not white, straight, Christian and male. Through deportation and immigration bans, and continually peeling away rights and protections from women, PoC, LGBTQ, and Muslim and Jewish Americans, Trump is changing the character of our country, and the world is noticing.

  1. California added four more states to its ban on state-funded and state-sponsored travel, citing these states (eight in total) for laws allowing discriminating against LGBTQ people.
  2. Overruling experts and diplomats, and without explanation, the State Dept removed Iraq and Myanmar from the list of the world’s worst offenders in the use of child soldiers.
  3. Trump’s DHS pulled a grant given by Obama given to Life After Hate, a group dedicated to countering neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
  4. The State Dept’s anti-Semitism monitoring office will be unstaffed as of July 1. This, as the ADL reports anti-Semitic incidents have almost doubled in 2017.
  5. A court in Mississippi lifted an injunction on an anti-gay law, freeing individuals and government workers the ability to discriminate against gay and transgender people on religious grounds.
  6. North Carolina’s Supreme Court ruled that a woman cannot revoke consent after sexual intercourse begins.
  7. Trump ended an almost two decade-long tradition of celebrating Ramadan at the WH.
  8. Six Afghan girls were denied one-week visas to show their robot at FIRST Global Challenge in DC. Roa Mahboob, the first female tech CEO in Afghanistan who sponsored the team said, “they were crying all the day.”
  9. The historical marker for civil-rights icon Emmett Till on the Mississippi Freedom Trail was vandalized.
  10. Trucker Rene Flores, who was featured in a USA Today article on how poor immigrants who speak little English have become modern-day indentured servants, was fired the day after the article ran.
  11. Five months after Trump’s 90-day Muslim Ban was introduced, the Supreme Court allowed part of the second version to take effect, banning travel from six Muslim countries where Trump doesn’t have properties.
  12. Attorneys general from 10 states and Idaho’s governor threatened to sue the government to stop granting and renewing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) permits by September 5.
  13. Trump’s WH said Chicago (Trump regime code for Black Americans) gun violence is “driven by morality more than anything else.
  14. Trump invited families of victims killed by undocumented immigrants to the WH for an on-camera, anti-immigrant display.
  15. POLITICO reported the White House Council for Women and Girls, set up by Obama, has gone dark under Trump, and will likely be shuttered.
  16. Mattis will delay the Pentagon’s decision on allowing transgender recruits into the military for six months. Carter, his predecessor under Obama, had ended the ban on transgender people serving.
  17. WAPO reported that one month before Election Day, Kushner’s firm finalized a $285mm refinancing loan from Deutsche Bank. Kushner and his brother are guarantors of the loan.
  18. Kushner did not report the loan or his personal guarantee on his financial disclosure form filed with the OGE.
  19. The loan came at a time when Deutsche was negotiating with New York state regulators to settle a federal mortgage fraud case and charges of money laundering for Russia.
  20. In Week 19’s List (March 25) Deutsch was fined $630mm for laundering over $10bn of Russian money, and settled the case in May.
  21. FT reported VEB, the state-owned Russian bank whose chairman, Gorkov, met clandestinely with Kushner, has no banking license or capital, and is essentially a special-purpose vehicle to support the Kremlin’s priorities.
  22. Kushner retained Abbe Lowell, one of the country’s leading criminal defense attorneys, to represent him in the special counsel probe.
  23. WAPO reported Manafort retroactively filed as foreign agent on Tuesday for $17.1 million in payments received by his firm between 2012–2014 from a pro-Russia political party that controlled Ukraine’s government.
  24. Also in the filing, Manafort revealed that in 2013 he met with CA Rep Rohrabacher, an outspoken pro-Russia advocate.
  25. Roll Call reported that Manafort donated to Rohrabacher three days after their meeting.
  26. ABC reported Congressional investigators will question Trump’s longtime bodyguard, Keith Schiller, who now serves as a WH aide, as part of their Russia probe. Schiller delivered Comey’s termination letter in person.
  27. Miami Herald reported on Igor Zorin, a Russian government official who, on his $75k bureaucrat’s salary, purchased three units at the ritzy Trump Palace in South Florida worth $5.4mm.
  28. CNN reported Trump’s own advisers are struggling to convince him that Russia still poses a threat.
  29. CNN also reported NSA director Rogers expressed frustration to lawmakers about his inability to convince Trump that Russia interfered in our election, and Trump’s lack of focus on the continued threat.
  30. Further, even as the IC continues to brief him on Russian interference, Trump has not convened any meetings on Russian meddling.
  31. Intelligence and lawmakers expressed concern on the State Dept’s unwillingness to crack down on Russian diplomats traveling within the US, despite evidence Moscow is trying to conduct intelligence operations.
  32. Trump continued to distract from Russian interference and possible collusion, tweeting “Hillary Clinton colluded with the Democratic Party in order to beat Crazy Bernie Sanders. Is she allowed to so collude?
  33. A former CIA analyst and targeting officer explained how Trump’s tweets are being used by foreign spies to determine his vulnerabilities.
  34. The Kremlin recalled Kislyak amid the election controversy. Flynn, Kushner and Sessions all had undisclosed meetings with Kislyak.
  35. WAPO reported that the FBI met with Page five times in March about his contacts with Russia and claims in the Steele dossier. At the time, Page did not have a lawyer.
  36. Ivanka was ordered to testify in a dispute with an Italian shoemaker who accused her of copying one of its shoe designs.
  37. Chinese authorities released on bail, pending trial, the three activists who were investigating low pay, excessive overtime, crude verbal abuse and possible misuse of student labor at Ivanka’s China factories.
  38. Guardian reported a nonprofit run by Trump attorney Sekulow will be investigated by authorities in two states for steering tens of millions of dollars to his family and their businesses.
  39. On Monday, as the CBO report indicated Senate version of AHCA/Trumpcare would result in 22mm more uninsured, the WH issued a statement trashing the credibility of the Office.
  40. Polls showed the Senate version is wildly unpopular: USA Today/Suffolk12% approve, NPR/PBS/NewsHour/Marist 17% approve.
  41. A pro-Trump PAC ran negative ads targeting Sen Heller in his home state for not supporting AHCA. Amid backlash, the ads were pulled.
  42. Reporting on the Senate’s failure to pass ACHA cited Trump’s lack of interest and loss of political capital. Some Senators also didn’t trust him after he called the House version he had backed, “mean.”
  43. On Monday late evening, the WH issued a cryptic statement warning of potential preparations for a chemical attack in Syria, and saying Syria would “pay a heavy price.”
  44. NBC reported Trump’s own senior national security officials were caught off guard by the WH statement. NBC noted the disconnect demonstrates how Trump “is making foreign policy on the fly.”
  45. The US image has plunged under Trump. Pew Research found three-quarters of countries surveyed have little to no confidence in Trump to handle foreign affairs. Our democratic allies were the most negative.
  46. Pew found that only 22% are confident in Trump’s handling of foreign affairs, compared to 64% during the Obama administration.
  47. Also of note in the Pew Research survey, for the first time in 35 years, a majority of Canadians have an unfavorable view of the US.
  48. The Toronto Star has also been keeping track of the false claims by Trump, and has so many, they chose to sort them by topic.
  49. The EPA chief of staff pressured a scientist on the agency’s scientific review board to change her testimony before the House Science Comm.
  50. POLITICO reported Trump Hotel DC has become a go-to meeting place. Conway said, “They look at it as a piece of the president.” Trump continues to profit from the hotel, and has not tracked foreign government receipts as promised.
  51. The WH abruptly changed course and disinvited the media from covering Trump’s first re-election fundraiser. As mentioned in Week 32, the high-priced event will be held at the Trump Hotel DC.
  52. WAPO reported that a fake Time magazine cover is hung up in at several of Trump’s golf clubs. After the report, a spokesperson for Time said the magazine had asked the Trump Organization to remove them.
  53. Trump remarked to an Irish reporter that she had a “nice smile” during a telephone call in the Oval Office with the newly elected Irish PM. Trump told Varadkar, “I bet she treats you well.”
  54. Trump told the Irish PM, “We have so many people from Ireland in this country. I know so many of them, too. I feel I know all of them.
  55. Maddow reported that Republicans and conservative media have started a campaign of smear FBI interim director McCabe, who can corroborate Comey’s statement on conversations with Trump.
  56. Maddow also reported that Deutsche Bank added a lawyer with a background in tax crimes and money laundering.
  57. On Thursday, Deutsche Bank again denied Democratic lawmakers’ request for information on Trump’s accounts, saying individual members of Congress don’t have the same standing as a committee.
  58. Graham and Grassley requested the FBI and DOJ provide copies of surveillance requests made in their investigation of Russian interference in the election. If shared with Trump, this could bolster his defense.
  59. Pence and Kobach, heads of Trump’s commission on election integrity, asked all 50 states to release voter roll data, including names, birthdays, the last four digits of SS numbers, and voting history back to 2006.
  60. Amid cries of voter suppression and privacy concerns, within 24 hours almost half of all states had rejected the request in part or whole.
  61. Kobach said Kansas would not hand over some of the information, nor will Pence’s home state (IN). Mississippi’s Sos said, “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.”
  62. Next morning, Trump tweeted his dismay, “What are they trying to hide?” leading to a conversation on Twitter on why Trump has yet to share his tax returns, and we have normalized this and stopped asking.
  63. AP reported EPA’s Pruitt met with the CEO of Dow Chemical before deciding to reverse an agency ban on a widely-used pesticide which studies have found can harm children’s brains.
  64. Dow spent $13.6mm on lobbying in 2016, and wrote a $1mm check to Trump’s inauguration festivities. Dow’s CEO stood by Trump in February as he signed an EO rolling back government regulations.
  65. At the Aspen Ideas conference, Yates said while acting AG, she found out about the Muslim Ban by reading about it in the NYT.
  66. Yates slammed the Trump regime for ignoring legal and political norms, and said the regime’s behavior “should be alarming to us as a country.”
  67. ABC reported federal authorities are investigating a breach of at least one nuclear plant’s computer system.
  68. POLITICO reported that Tillerson blew up at Trump’s head of personnel, DeStefano, for torpedoing his picks for senior State Dept roles. The State Dept remains largely unstaffed, including deputy SoS.
  69. In Week 32, DeStefano’s data company was involved in the leak of private information of 200mm US voters, which was left unprotected onlineahead of the 2016 election.
  70. Kasowitz failed to follow through on his threatened legal complaint against Comey, a pattern for the Trump’s attorneys.
  71. As stories on Russia and other controversies continued to break, Trump continued his efforts to weaken the media’s credibility : tweeting “They are all Fake News!” — about CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, WAPO and NYT.
  72. Trump shared videos of a CNN commentator and producer being secretly recorded by Project Veritas’ O’Keefe to his 7mm followers on Instagram.
  73. CNN’s Stelter gave three examples of press access being rolled back: Trump and S. Korean president didn’t hold a joint news conference, Pentagon’s non-answer on why Mattis traveled without the usual TV journalists, and journalists told to leave DOJ event marking Pride month.
  74. The Senate Intel Comm will get Comey’s memos on his conversationswith Trump. It is unclear when and if the public will see them.
  75. On Thursday, Trump sent a set of highly offensive tweets at Joe and Mika, including “low I.Q. Crazy Mika,” “Psycho Joe.” The tweet to Mika (see below) was widely condemned as beneath the office, and sexist.
  76. Conservative pundit Krauthammer told FoxNews of Trump’s tweets, “This is what it’s like in a banana republic.
  77. Amid the uproar, Trump quietly announced that he will meet with Putin in person at the G-20 gathering next week. Numerous experts and lawmakers expressed grave concern.
  78. VOX reported Trump aides said he doesn’t have an agenda or plan much preparation for the meeting, raising concerns that Putin, a master tactician who arrives meticulously well-prepared, will outplay Trump.
  79. Trump also succeeded at distracting from the bombshell of possible collusion, voter roll request and other highly controversial stories.
  80. WSJ reported the first evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. A Republican operative, Peter Smith, tried to get Hillary’s 33k deleted emails from Russian hackers in concert with Flynn.
  81. Smith passed away in May. The Trump campaign said if Flynn coordinated with Smith, “it would have been in his capacity as a private individual.
  82. WSJ also reported Smith’s story is consistent with intelligence agencies intercepts of Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from Hillary’s server and transmit them to Flynn via an intermediary.
  83. Late Friday, the WSJ broadened its story saying Smith cited other key Trump regime players — Bannon, Conway and Clovis — in his Sept. 7, 2016 recruitment document for his effort to get Hillary’s 33k deleted emails.
  84. On Friday, NY Magazine reported on Trump’s efforts to possibly blackmail Joe and Mika by using a story to be published at Trump ally David Pecker’s National Enquirer making their affair public.
  85. Kushner was the go-between for communication. He told Scarborough he would need to personally apologize to Trump for negative coverage for the story not to run. Scarborough would not, and the story ran.
  86. Law Newz explained that Trump’s alleged blackmail of Joe and Mika, including persistent phone calls by reporters to Mika’s teenage children, could be an impeachable offense.
  87. Bloomberg reported that Kushner almost bought the National Enquirer three year ago, and The New Yorker reported David Pecker is considering a bid for Time Inc., owner of Time magazine.
  88. On Friday, as the Senate left for break, Trump tweeted they should just repeal Obamacare and replace it later. The CBO estimated in that scenario 18mm would lose coverage in year 1, and 32mm more by 2026.
  89. 25 House Democrats, including the ranking member of the Judiciary Comm, backed a bill that would create an “oversight” commission that could declare the president incapacitated under the 25th Amendment.
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“Rotten to the Core” by artist: @davidl_bcn in Barcelona, Spain

 

 

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 33: THE GREAT POLITICAL SWINDLE

Week 32 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

June 24, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-32-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-252680d31be6

There were signs this week that our democracy is fading. The unusual process undertaken by McConnell in attempting to pass AHCA without Senate input or public support. Alarming evidence that Russia may have tampered with 2016 Election Day results, and possibly with help from the Trump campaign. The Trump regime taking steps to shut down access for the media, while our country burns in bigotry and hate.

Trump-Russia is still the dominate theme, as investigations open on new fronts, and Trump regime members go quiet and lawyer up. Trump continues to deny Russian interference, which will undoubtedly lead to it continuing in upcoming elections — of course to his benefit.

  1. For the first time since taking office, Trump visited Camp David.
  2. Russia renewed six unused Trump trademarks in 2016. Four of the six approvals were officially registered on November 8, Election Day.
  3. The Dept of Education said it will scale back civil rights investigations at public schools and universities, including rolling back Obama’s efforts to end campus sexual assault and protect transgender students.
  4. Six members of the Presidential Council on HIV/AIDS angrily resigned in a public letter saying Trump doesn’t care or have a strategy.
  5. Rick Perry, the Secretary of Energy, denied that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are the primary cause of global warming.
  6. Sessions’ DOJ is exploring new legal theories to take on sanctuary citiesin court, and force them to aid in Trump’s deportation efforts.
  7. A Muslim teen was brutally beaten and killed while walking to a Mosque with her friends in Sterling, VA. A funeral vigil drew many, while the murder has yet to be charged as a hate crime.
  8. Trump Hotel DC will host a conference for anti-Islamic group, ACT for America, including a private tour. Neither the Trump organization or ACT would answer WAPO’s questions about the event and its cost.
  9. An attorney said his client was acting within his First Amendment rights when he disrupted a Black Lives Matter rally in Tennessee by wearing a gorilla mask and carrying a rope and bananas.
  10. NPR reported the Trump regime will not collect LGBTQ census data despite a HUD document obtained under the FOIA which cites this data as “essential.” Trump’s DOJ questions the “appropriateness” of sexual orientation and gender identity topics.
  11. Trump and his WH have made no mention or acknowledgment of June being LGBT Pride month.
  12. McConnell continued to secretly push AHCA in unusual ways. Not only is the closed-door bargaining not bipartisan, most Republicans haven’t seen the bill.
  13. NYT reported that Kushner’s team quietly reached out to high-powered criminal lawyers to represent him on the Russia probe.
  14. Sessions hired a lawyer to represent him in the Russia probe.
  15. Pence’s use of a private AOL email account to conduct government business is costing Indiana $100k in legal fees to process a large backlogof records requests.
  16. A lawsuit alleges private prison company GEO Correction donated to a Trump Super-PAC, in violation of federal law. Trump has adopted a pro-private prison policy.
  17. Mueller brought in Andrew Weissmann, a lawyer with expertise in witness-flipping.
  18. Speculation grew that Flynn is cooperating with the FBI, including by Sen Whitehouse, a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Comm.
  19. Flynn failed to report a 2015 Middle East trip on his security clearance forms. The trip was to discuss a U.S.-Russian partnership, financed by Saudi Arabia, to build nuclear reactors throughout the Middle East.
  20. NYT reported that despite concerns about Flynn being a security risk, Pompeo continued to give him classified briefings for three weeks.
  21. NYT also reported that even though he gave Trump briefings almost daily, Pompeo did not raise the issue of Flynn’s ties to Russia.
  22. ABC reported Senate investigators are looking into financial ties between the Trump campaign and Russia/Eastern Europeans businessmen to see if dealing involved organized crime or those subject to US sanctions.
  23. Several names associated with financing for the Trump SoHo have alleged ties to money laundering or Russian organized crime.
  24. One name is Felix Sater, who was twice convicted and served jail time, and as per Week 15, worked with Michael Cohen on a back-channel plan for a Ukraine and Russia ‘peace plan’ (with new leadership in Ukraine).
  25. Felix Sater, a Russian-born former partner with New York property developer Bayrock, worked with Trump and his children on projects around the world.
  26. Bloomberg reported an employee of Bayrock, Jody Kriss, said he quit because the firm was a front for money laundering. A federal judge said a lawsuit by Kriss against Bayrock could proceed as a racketeering case.
  27. In a CBS poll, Trump’s approval hit a new low (36%). He is also losing Republican support: 83% approve on Day-100 vs. 72% now.
  28. Mueller brought in a second lawyer from the Solicitor General’s office. Elizabeth Prelogar is fluent in Russian and while at Harvard Law, won an Overseas Press Club scholarship to study Russian media and censorship.
  29. On Monday, Spicer did an off camera, no audio broadcast press briefing. The Trump regime’s access to the media has become increasingly erratic.
  30. When Spicer was asked if Trump believes that Russia interfered with our election on Tuesday, said “I have not sat down and asked him.
  31. While Spicer acknowledged he is helping find his replacement, Trump is considering new measures including limiting press briefings to once a week and asking reporters to submit written questions in advance.
  32. Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson testified to the House Intel Comm that “Putin himself, orchestrated cyberattacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election — plain and simple.”
  33. Also at the hearing, Jeanette Manfra, acting deputy undersecretary at DHS, said so far evidence exists that Russia targeted election-related systems in 21 states.
  34. Daily Beast reported that the DHS never ran a formal federal audit to see if votes were hacked.
  35. WAPO calculated that in Trump’s first 151 days, he has made 669 false and misleading claims.
  36. A NYT op-ed, “Trump’s Lies,” catalogued every lie told by Trump since he took office, noting: “…as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them.”
  37. Trump held a campaign rally in Iowa, and gave a speech full of factually incorrect statements. NYT described the rally as a “venting session.”
  38. At the Iowa rally, Trump defended his wealthy economic cabinet picks, saying “In those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person.
  39. Boeing announced layoffs at the South Carolina plant Trump visitedearlier this year where he promoted his “Buy America” pledge.
  40. Trump will hold his re-election campaign kick-off event on June 28 at the Trump Hotel DC. The cost is $35k per head, or $100k for host committee.
  41. While ignoring atrocities committed by numerous authoritarian leaders, Trump tweeted a falsehood, “Mexico was just ranked the second deadliest country in the world,” about our former close ally.
  42. Trump called new Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to congratulate him on his new role.
  43. Further to a BuzzFeed article in Week 31 citing multiple deaths in the UK at the hands of Russian operatives, The New Yorker reported on similarly mysterious deaths of Putin critics in the US.
  44. Tillerson proposed a three-point plan aimed at improving relations with Russia, including working together on cybersecurity.
  45. NYT reported that Trump’s WH is trying to get the House GOP to weaken the Senate bill that imposes sanctions on Russian.
  46. Rep Kevin Brady tried to block the Senate’s Russia sanction bill, saying it was “blue slip” violation — revenue bills must originate in the House.
  47. Democrats on the House Oversight Comm questioned why Kushner still has security clearance, and why Flynn kept his clearance, after public reports that both had undisclosed meetings with Kislyak.
  48. Rachel Maddow reported on a second bi-partisan letter to the Trump WH and acting FBI director McCabe questions Kushner’s security clearance.
  49. BuzzFeed reported that Bharara wrote a memo on March 9 to several senior DOJ officials outlining his concern about a third call from the WH. Bharara was fired on March 11.
  50. POLITICO reported that Trump has frequently lashed out at WH counsel McGahn for not doing more to quash the Trump-Russia probe early on.
  51. CNN reported that Coats and Rogers both told Mueller and the Senate Intel Comm in a private session that Trump suggested they say publicly there was no collusion between his regime and Russia.
  52. Coats told House investigators that Trump seemed obsessed with the Russia probe, and repeatedly asked him to publicly state there was no evidence of collusion.
  53. On Thursday in a cryptic tweet, Trump admitted he did not tape Comey, raising questions of whether his initial tweet was witness intimidation.
  54. Trump also continued to deny Russia hacked our election, and tweeted blame at Obama: “if Russia was working so hard on the 2016 Election, it all took place during the Obama Admin. Why didn’t they stop them?”
  55. Rachel Maddow reported on the many ways Russia, possibly with the help from the Trump regime, may have tampered with actual voting results on Election Day.
  56. WSJ reported Deep Root Analytics, a GOP data firm, left a proprietary data set with personal information on nearly 200 million votersunprotected online — where anyone could see it.
  57. Gizmodo reported the data leak contains detailed personal information on about 61% of the US population — including address, birthday, party registrations and views on issues for almost all registered voters.
  58. The RNC paid Deep Root $983k in 2016, but much of the data leaked came from The Data Trust, the GOP’s primary voter file provider. The RNC paid The Data Trust $6.7mm during the 2016 election cycle.
  59. The president of The Data Trust was Johnny DeStefano, who is now in head of personal for Trump.
  60. Dallas County, a heavily Democratic area, said its web servers were targeted multiple times by Russian hackers.
  61. Of the 600 IP addresses provided by DHS as possible Russian hackers, 17 associated with Russian computers tried to gain access to Dallas servers.
  62. Rachel Maddow reported that adjoining counties that were heavily Republican did not have any matches from the 600 IP addresses.
  63. WSJ reported on VR Systems, a software company whose product were used to check-in voters in 21 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. VR Systems software failed in heavily Democratic Durham county.
  64. Durham county was forced to issue ballots by hand, meaning longer lines, and likely depressed voter turnout. Trump won NC, but the race was very close.
  65. TIME reported the Russian hacking of our election was more widespread than previously reported, and included at least one successful attempt to alter voter information and theft of personal info on thousands of voters.
  66. TIME also reported that there was one confirmed case of manipulation of voter data — raising the specter of falsified votes.
  67. CBS reported the House Intel Comm investigation on Russia has expanded to probe whether Trump associates received information from hacked voter databases.
  68. Parscale, digital director for the Trump campaign, emerged as a central figure in the Trump-Russia probe. Pascale, known as “Jared’s boy,” reported to Kushner. His firm was paid $91mm by the Trump campaign.
  69. The House Intel Comm will interview Parscale to ascertain if information stolen by Russian hackers made its way to the Trump campaign.
  70. As he takes over as House Oversight Comm chair, unlike his predecessor Chaffetz, Gowdy said the committee will no longer probe Trump-Russia ties or violations of the emoluments clause.
  71. A NBC/WSJ poll found that by a 2–1 margin, Americans believe Comey over Trump. Just 27% approve of Trump firing of Comey.
  72. Friday, Trump told Fox & Friends he tweeted his lie about the existence of tapes in order to influence Comey’s account of their conversation — further raising the specter of witness intimidation.
  73. Also in the Fox & Friends interview, Trump left open the option of firing Mueller because of his “bothersome” friendship with Comey.
  74. A WAPO bombshell reported on a CIA report delivered only to Obama and three top officials in August, revealing Putin’s specific instructions to defeat or at least damage Hillary, and help elect Trump.
  75. WAPO also reported in the months ahead of the election, the FBI became alarmed by an unusual spike in temporary visa requests by Russia for officials with technical skills to enter the US. Permission was denied.
  76. The Obama administration’s response was mild and fairly muted, in part, according to WAPO reporting, concern that Russia would sabotage our Election Day.
  77. WAPO also reported on GOP efforts to block intelligence from informing the public, and from acting including the SoS of Georgia who called Johnson’s proposal to shore up voting as an assault on state rights.
  78. After the WAPO story, Trump again tweeted about Obama and Russian interference: “Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?”
  79. Trump continued to deny intelligence that Russia hacked our election, saying it was “probably was Russia.”
  80. NBC reported Trump has taken little meaningful action, and shown no interest in stopping Russia from hacking our next election, despite a slew of intelligence warnings that Russia will be back.
  81. McConnell rolled out the Senate version of AHCA, which only a small group white male senators and lobbyists were involved in crafting. The public is overwhelmingly against the bill. One journalist referred to the process in a column, “Our Fake Democracy.”
  82. Trump has yet to pass a single piece of major legislation despite control of the House and Senate. He seems largely disinterested and disengaged in this sphere.
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“The Great Political Swindle ~ La Gran Estafa Politica” by JuegaSiempre & Africa47 in Bogota, Colombia. Photo by: mrchemix.
Ohhh . . . . Drawing out political frustrations is so much fun !!! Paul Ryan's a lil puppet boy who's baby blues might as well be brown because he's completely full of shit.
“Ohhh . . . . Drawing out political frustrations is so much fun !!! Paul Ryan’s a lil puppet boy whose baby blues might as well be brown because he’s completely full of shit.” ~ Quote and illustration by Orlando, Florida-based artist, Andrew Spear.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 32: WOULD I LIE TO YOU?

Week 31 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

June 17, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-31-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-dd293e0dd49b

Another week for the history books: Trump is under investigation for obstruction of justice — a fact he confirmed through a tweet. With his increasingly erratic behavior, Trump has become his own worst enemy. While investigations by the House, Senate, FBI, federal investigators and special counsel into Trump-Russia steam ahead, Trump’s continued efforts to interfere with investigations may prove to be his ultimate undoing.

This week the tentacles of the Trump-Russia probe reached new members of the Trump regime, and several chose to lawyer up. Congress is singularly focused on Trump-Russia, save for McConnell’s odd, clandestine AHCA efforts.

  1. Trump canceled his UK visit, saying he didn’t want to come until the British public supports him. Large-scale protests were expected.
  2. Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ has been coined “the summer White House,” and similar to Mar-a-Lago, offers access — such as Trump crashing parties – as part of the marketing plan.
  3. Since taking office, Trump has been at one of his properties every 3.5 days, and at one of his golf courses every 6.2 days.
  4. On Sunday, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow, said Trump is considering firing Mueller.
  5. Trump allies, including Gingrich and Conway, attacked Mueller, claiming he was biased for Comey, and that members of his staff have donated to Democrats of liberal causes.
  6. Gingrich also accused Mueller of being part of the “deep state” plot to undermine Trump.
  7. Bharara told ABC Sunday that Trump called him three times. Bharara was fired the day after he did not return the third call. Bharara noted Obama did not call him once while he served.
  8. Bharara also described his contact as “a little bit uncomfortable, and said reading about Trump’s contact with Comey “felt a little bit like deja vu.”
  9. Kasowitz bragged that he was behind the firing of Bharara. According to a ProPublica source, Kasowitz told Trump, “This guy is going to get you.”
  10. In response to a FOIA request, the Secret Service said it has no audio or transcripts of any tapes made in the WH. Trump has still not verified if he lied about the existence of tapes, despite promises to do so soon.
  11. Hundreds of Kremlin critics were arrested amid anti-corruption protests, including opposition leader Navalny who was detained near his home.
  12. A Moscow court sentenced Navalny to 30 days in prison for staging an unsanctioned rally. The WH and State Dept were silent on all of this.
  13. Gianforte was sentenced to a 180-day deferred sentence, and ordered to complete 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management counseling for assaulting reporter Ben Jacobs.
  14. The 9th Circuit upheld an injunction blocking part of Trump’s second Muslim Ban. In their ruling, the judges cited Trump’s own tweets.
  15. Trump changed the expiration date of the Muslim Ban in an effort to prevent the Supreme Court from declaring it moot.
  16. Monday, in a bizarre display in front of cameras, Trump’s cabinet members took turns praising him.
  17. A journalist noted: “ Putin televises the beginnings of his cabinet meetings.”
  18. Rep Quigley introduced the “COVFEFE Act,” to require the preservation of Trump’s tweets. The original covfefe tweet was deleted.
  19. Also of note, Trump has been actively blocking users on Twitter, despite using his Twitter account for policy and other announcements.
  20. Trump’s approval sunk again in a new AP/NORC poll, with his net favorability falling to -29 (approve 35, disapprove 64).
  21. The AP/NORC poll also found that 7 in 10 Americans are at least moderately concerned that Trump or his campaign associates had inappropriate ties to Russia.
  22. A survey of CEOs, business execs, government officials and academics at the Yale CEO summit found that 50% gave Trump a “F” and 21% a “D” for his first 130 days in office.
  23. Bloomberg reported that Russian cyber hack of the US electoral system was far wider than reported — including 39 states in all. The attacks included incursions into voter databases and software system.
  24. Further, in Illinois, which became known as “Patient Zero” in the government probe, Russian hackers gained access to personal information on 15mm people, half of whom were active voters.
  25. Cindy McCain agreed to join the State Dept, after being aggressively courted by Trump.
  26. Dana Shell Smith, the US ambassador to Qatar, resigned.
  27. Trump’s EPA head, Pruitt, skipped much of the G7 environmental summit.
  28. The Dept of Energy said it will close an office that works with other countries to develop clean energy technology.
  29. At a Senate Appropriations hearing, Tillerson said he would not be staffing the State Dept until next year.
  30. Trump’s Commerce Dept removed sexual orientation and gender identification from its anti-discrimination policies.
  31. Trump appointed loyalist Lynne Patton, who planned Eric’s wedding and golf tournaments at Trump courses, to run the office that oversees federal housing programs in New York. She has no housing experience.
  32. OGE director Shaub responded to a request from four Senate democrats, saying Steve Bannon had in fact violated WH ethics rules, noting Bannon’s ethics waiver was retroactive and neither dated nor signed.
  33. USA Today reported that in the last 12 months, 70% of Trump property buyers have been LLCs, compared to 4% two years ago.
  34. China approved nine Trump trademark requests which were previously rejected. Intellectual property lawyers suggested “special treatment.”
  35. AP reported a company that partners with both Trump and Kushner is a finalist for a $1.7bn contract to build the new FBI headquarters.
  36. While Ivanka has made attempts to reset her public image, Guardianreported at her clothing factory in China workers complain of verbal abuse, impossible targets, and poverty pay.
  37. During Sen Judiciary Comm testimony, Rosenstein said he now agrees that Russia interfered in our election. Rosenstein had not taken a position during his confirmation hearings.
  38. On Tuesday, reporters at the Capitol were told they were no longer allowed to interview senators in the hallways, contrary to years of precedent.
  39. Karen Tumulty, a reporter for WAPO, was expelled from the Capitol for doing just that.
  40. Following a backlash, later that day Senate Republicans backed off from their restrictions on the media.
  41. DC police said they will charge 12 of Erdogan’s security guards for assaulting protestors outside the Turkish embassy.
  42. In response to a FOIA requests, a DC judge ordered the DOJ to produce Sessions’ clearance form, on which he was required to disclose contacts with Russians, within one month.
  43. The DC judge also ordered the DOJ and FBI to release any records of Priebus reaching out to the FBI to request they refute reports of communications between the Trump campaign and Russia.
  44. Tuesday, Sessions testified in front of the Senate Intel Comm, but largely refused to answer important questions. He did not mention any further contact with Russian officials, nor confirm the third meeting.
  45. McCain asked Sessions if he had “any contacts with any representative, including any American lobbyist or agent of any Russian company” at the hearing Tuesday. Sessions said, “I don’t believe so.”
  46. Guardian reported that Richard Burt, a lobbyist for Russia who helped craft a foreign policy speech for Trump, said he attended two dinners hosted by Sessions during the 2016 campaign.
  47. Burt also served on the advisory board of Alfa Capital Partners, a private equity fund in which Alfa Bank was an investor. Per Week 21, the FBI is looking in links between Alfa Bank and Trump during the campaign.
  48. Sen Kamala Harris was interrupted by McCain and then Burr during her questioning of Sessions. Harris was also scolded by Burr for not being “courteous” in the hearing last week of Coats, Rogers and Rosenstein.
  49. By a 98–2 vote, the Senate passed a new Russian sanctions bill which would impose additional sanctions, and limit Trump’s ability to lift them.
  50. WIRED reported on Mueller assembling a “dream team” of lawyers, including attorneys who specialize in money laundering and organized crime, and a former prosecutor for the Watergate investigation.
  51. On Wednesday, a lone gunman, who had volunteered for Bernie Sanders, shot at Congressional Republicans who were practicing for a baseball game at a park in Alexandria, VA. Extreme rhetoric was blamed.
  52. The next night as the bi-partisan game was being played, the Trump regime rescinded Obama’s protections for parents of ‘Dreamers,’ and reduced protections for ‘Dreamers.’
  53. In Ossining, NY, ICE detained a 19 year-old on the day of his prom and weeks before his high school graduation.
  54. On Wednesday, WAPO reported that Mueller is investigating Trump for obstruction of justice.
  55. WAPO also reported that Mueller will interview Coats, Rogers and Ledgett as part of the investigation.
  56. In a poignant moment on primetime TV, Lester Holt said on NBC Nightly News, “NBC News has learned the president of the United States is now under criminal investigation.”
  57. Late Thursday, Rosenstein issued an odd statement prodding the media for “anonymous allegations” on Russia, and saying “Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true” anonymous sources.
  58. Pelosi predicted that Trump will “self-impeach.”
  59. On Friday in a tweet, Trump acknowledged he was under investigation, and described it as a “Witch Hunt.”
  60. Trump’s tweet also took a swipe at Rosenstein, raising questions of whether Trump would fire him. Doing so could make it possible for Trump to put in place a process to fire Mueller.
  61. Sen Feinstein said she is increasingly concerned that Trump will fire Mueller. In a strong statement she noted, “We’re a nation of laws that apply equally to everyone, a lesson the president would be wise to learn.”
  62. AP reported Trump advisors and confidant describe him as increasingly angry over the investigation and yelling at televisions carrying coverage.
  63. NYT reported that Trump’s private attorney, Kasowitz, has advised WH staffers not to hire private lawyers yet.
  64. Kasowitz was hit with ethics complaints in NY and DC over this advice.
  65. WAPO reported that Mueller is investigating Kushner for his finances and business dealings. This is in addition to previously reported investigations of Kushner’s meetings in December with Kislyak and Gorkov.
  66. WAPO also reported that the FBI and federal prosecutors are investigating the financial dealing of Flynn, Manafort and Page.
  67. CNN reported the House Intel Comm is planning to call Brad Parscale, the digital director for Trump’s campaign, in their investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
  68. CNN also reported that Kushner is under federal investigation for his role in overseeing Trump’s data operations, and is expected to talk to Senate investigators about the campaign’s data operation.
  69. Pence hired big-name experienced, top dollar lawyer with Watergate experience to represent him in the Russian probe.
  70. Pence’s PAC held a fundraiser in Indianapolis Friday night. When Rachel Maddow’s staff asked whether funds go towards legal costs, the response was: “His legal fees will be paid by non-tax dollars.
  71. Trump personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, hired counsel for the Russian probe. Cohen is under investigation by the special counsel, and will testify in front of the House Intel Comm on September 5.
  72. Michael Caputo, a Manafort ally who served as a senior communications adviser on Trump’s campaign, hired a lawyer. Caputo lived in Moscow, and in 2000 worked to improve Putin’s image in the US.
  73. Manafort and Page also hired counsel for the Russia probe.
  74. CNBC reported that the Trump regime is touting that they created coal jobs which might not actually exist.
  75. Putin offered Comey political asylum in Russia, continuing to publicly insert himself into US politics.
  76. BuzzFeed reported that 14 recent deaths in the UK appear tied to Russia.
  77. Frustrating House Republicans, Trump called their version of AHCA/Trumpcare — which he had celebrated in the Rose Garden — “mean,” and said he hoped the Senate would pass a better version.
  78. McConnell has been leading an oddly closed-door effort to pass AHCA in the Senate with no hearings or input. Open frustration was expressed by Democrats, some Republicans, and major patient advocacy groups.
  79. The OGE released Trump’s most recent financial disclosure Friday. Trump reported $315mm of loans, including $130mm from Deutsche Bank, the bank known for Russian ties which refused Democrats request for info.
  80. The 98 pages of financial disclosure showed a sharp rise in revenue at places Trump frequented including Mar-a-Lago and nearby golf courses.
  81. Trump also made $20mm at the newly opened Trump Hotel DC. Despite early promised to turn over payments from foreign government to the US Treasury, Trump is not tracking all payments.
  82. The Attorneys General for DC and Maryland sued Trump for breaching his constitutional oath by accepting millions in payments and benefits from foreign governments.
  83. Nearly 200 Congressional Democrats filed an emoluments lawsuit against Trump saying he has violated constitutional restrictions on taking gifts and benefits from foreign leaders.
  84. A Russian oil tycoon parked his giant yacht in front of the Statue of Liberty. The yacht was a gift from a Roman Abramovich, who in Week 20 was skiing in Aspen at the same time as Kushner and Ivanka.
  85. In an early sign of cracks from unfilled key roles in the executive branch, after the USS Fitzgerald collision, Trump was criticized for leaving the positions of US navy secretary and ambassador to Japan unfilled.
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Artist’s March in Wynwood Art District. Miami, FL. Photo: Alessandro Abate
Abdalla Al Omari
Syrian Artist Abdalla Al Omari depicting trump as a REFUGEE.
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Artist Christophe Verdon in Paris, France. Photo: Frederic Steimer

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