POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 152: WITH IMPEACHMENT LOOMING…

OCTOBER 05, 2019

Week 151

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-151/

With impeachment looming, Trump started this week by attacking the credibility of House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff and the whistleblower, both of whom he also endangered with his rhetoric. Midweek, Trump shifted strategy, openly soliciting foreign help from China and Ukraine in the 2020 election on national television, speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of White House. Republicans remained silent on Trump’s unprecedented request, which the head of the Federal Election Commission reminded the country, in a tweet, is illegal.

IMG_2756
“Trump/Pence MUST GO!” A “Refuse Fascism” sticker is posted by the sign to Mexico with “No USA Return” in San Ysidro, the border town (with Tijuana, Mexico) on 5oct19

This week others in the regime became ensnared in the inquiry, as reporting revealed the involvement of not only Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, but also Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and possibly Vice President Mike Pence, among others. Three House committee chairs sent subpoenas to Pompeo, Pence, and at the end of the week, the White House, and witnesses started to appear before House investigators in private hearings. Polling showed a dramatic shift in attitudes towards impeachment, with the majority of Americans now in favor.

IMG_2759
Here’s a portion of the BORDER WALL separating California and Mexico. 5oct19

As noted last week, I had always thought as we approached the end of Trump’s time in power, the lists would balloon: following last week’s 225 not normal items — 20 items longer than any previous list — this week we hit 240 items. In addition to the news on impeachment, this week’s list has many important stories on the continued degradation of American values and the regime’s cruelty, which got lost in the chaos of the news cycle.IMG_2754IMG_2758

  1. On Saturday, NYT reported the Trump impeachment battle will for the first time in our country’s history test the scope of what is acceptable for a president’s interactions with foreign countries.
  2. The Constitution does envision a showdown over foreign influence over a sitting U.S. president, in the emoluments clause. Trump’s entire time in office has been overshadowed by questions of foreign ties.
  3. On Saturday, WAPO reported the Trump regime is investigating email records of as many as 130 current and former senior State Department officials who sent emails to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
  4. Former officials received emails saying they sent retroactively classified information that now constitute potential security violations. The investigation began 18 months ago and was dropped, then picked up again in August.
  5. Although a State Department official told the Post the investigation has nothing to do with Trump, the action appears to be part of a pattern of his using executive branch powers against perceived political adversaries.
  6. On Saturday, WAPO reported with impeachment looming, Trump has sought to portray himself as a victim, with the “deep state” out to get him — a core to his public persona and a strategy used by past authoritarians.
  7. On Saturday, Trump tweeted a video calling impeachment “the single greatest scam in the history of American politics,” adding, “It is disgraceful what the Do Nothing Democrats are doing (the Impeachment Scam).”
  8. Trump also tweeted, “How do you impeach a President who has created the greatest Economy in the history of our Country, entirely rebuilt our Military into the most powerful it has ever been, Cut Record Taxes.”
  9. Trump also tweeted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “told the Fake News” at the United Nations, “HE WAS NOT PRESSURED BY ME IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM,” saying that should bring an end to the “Witch Hunt.”
  10. On Saturday, CNN reported Trump is frustrated with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney for not having a strategy in place for after the Ukraine call transcript was released. Sources say he is on shaky ground.
  11. On Sunday, Trump attacked House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff in a series of tweets, saying he “made up what I actually said by lying,” adding, “His lies were made in perhaps the most blatant and sinister manner ever seen” in Congress.
  12. Trump also tweeted that Schiff “wrote down and read terrible things,” adding he wants Schiff “questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason.”
  13. Trump also demanded to meet the whistleblower, tweeting, “Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser,” adding he/she represented “a perfect conversation…in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way.”
  14. Trump also tweeted, “I want to meet not only my accuser, who presented SECOND & THIRD HAND INFORMATION,” but also “the person who illegally gave this information” which was “largely incorrect.”
  15. Trump also tweeted, “Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President?” threatening, “Big Consequences!” and added, “What is going on now is the single greatest scam in the history of American politics.”
  16. On Sunday, Trump’s first homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, told “This Week” he repeatedly told Trump there was no basis to the theory that Ukraine intervened in the 2016 election on behalf of the Democrats.
  17. Bossert said he was “deeply disturbed” about Trump’s outreach to Zelensky, and condemned Rudy Giuliani, saying he and his team are “repeating that debunked theory to the president.”
  18. Giuliani told “This Week” of Bossert, he “doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” and “Everything I did was to defend my client and I am proud of having uncovered what will turn out to be a massive pay-for-play scheme.”
  19. Chair Adam Schiff told “This Week” the inquiry was “moving forward with all speed,” and his committee plans to hear from the whistleblower “very soon.”
  20. On Sunday, AP reported Attorney General William Barr was “surprised and angry” to learn that Trump had lumped him in with his personal lawyer, Giuliani, on his call with Zelensky.
  21. On Sunday, host Chris Wallace reported on “Fox News Sunday” that Trump was working with two more personal lawyer “off the books” — Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing — to pressure Ukraine.
  22. On Sunday, a CBS News poll found 55% of Americans approve of an impeachment inquiry, while 45% disapprove. Notably, 23% of Republicans approve, along with 87% of Democrats and 49% of Independents.
  23. Also, 42% believe Trump deserves to be impeached over Ukraine, 36% believe he does not deserve it, and 22% say it is too soon to say.
  24. On Sunday, “60 Minutes” reported the whistleblower’s lawyers sent a letter to the acting director of national intelligence asking for “appropriate resources” to keep their client safe.
  25. They cited Trump’s threats and “certain individuals” offering a “$50,000 bounty” for their identity. “60 Minutes” reported the whistleblower is under federal protection because they fear for their safety.
  26. Shortly after, the attorney for the whistleblower tweeted, “no agreement has been reached with Congress on contact with the whistleblower.” CBS News said it “stands by its sources and reporting on the whistle-blower.”
  27. On Sunday, support for Austria’s far-right party plunged in the election. A covert video in May showed the party’s vice-chancellor offering a lucrative contract to a woman he believed was the niece of a Russian oligarch.
  28. On Sunday, Chair Schiff told “Meet the Press” that Congress is looking to obtain records of Trump’s calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin, amid reporting that the White House has hidden his calls with foreign leaders.
  29. On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Washington would need Russian consent to publish transcripts of calls between Trump and Putin.
  30. On Monday, the Treasury Department announced new sanctions against Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the Russian oligarch known as “Putin’s Chef,” for attempting to interfere in the 2018 U.S. election.
  31. On Wednesday, when asked by reporters if Russia plans to interfere in the U.S. election in 2020, Putin quipped, “I’m going to tell you a secret. Yes, sure. We’re going to do that. Don’t tell anybody.”
  32. Putin added, “We see that (the U.S.) is trying to use any pretext to attack Trump, and now they’re even trying to use Ukraine,” adding he has a good relationship with Trump “built on trust,” and did not interfere in 2016.
  33. On Monday, Trump again attacked the whistleblower, tweeting, “The Fake Whistleblower complaint is not holding up,” adding, “The Whistleblower knew almost nothing, its 2ND HAND description of the call is a fraud!”
  34. Trump also tweeted a conspiracy theory from a right-wing website: “WHO CHANGED THE LONG STANDING WHISTLEBLOWER RULES JUST BEFORE SUBMITTAL OF THE FAKE WHISTLEBLOWER REPORT?”
  35. Trump also tweeted, “Again, the President of Ukraine said there was NO (ZERO) PRESSURE PUT ON HIM BY ME,” adding, “Case closed!”
  36. Shortly after, Trump tweeted “if the so-called “Whistleblower” has all second hand information,” and “almost everything he has said about my “perfect” call” is wrong, “why aren’t we entitled to interview” them.
  37. Trump also tweeted he wanted to interview the whistleblower and “also the person who gave all of the false information to him,” adding, “It is just another Democrat Hoax!”
  38. Later Monday, despite legal protections guaranteed to whistleblowers, Trump told reporters “We’re trying to find out” the whistleblower’s identity.
  39. Trump also, despite not knowing the identity of the whistleblower, accused them of having political “bias” and being part of a “political hack job.” The whistleblower’s attorney said Trump is putting them at risk.
  40. Later Monday, the intelligence community inspector general (ICIG) sent a four-page statement saying the whistleblower used firsthand information and information from other sources in the August 12 complaint.
  41. The ICIG also clarified the complaint was processed under procedures put in place in May 2018, not, as Trump and his ally Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested, just before the complaint came forward.
  42. The ICIG also wrote, “the information provided as well as other information gathered and determined that the complaint was both urgent and that it appeared credible.”
  43. On Sunday, Trump quoted Pastor Robert Jeffress’s appearance on Fox News, tweeting: “If the Democrats are successful” in impeaching him from office, “it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation.”
  44. John Coates, a Harvard Law School professor, said Trump’s “threatening civil war if Congress exercises its constitutionally authorized power” is itself a basis for impeachment.
  45. On Monday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrinch, who led the impeachment against Bill Clinton, told “Fox & Friends” of the Trump impeachment, “What you are watching is a legislative coup d’etat.”
  46. On Monday, Trump trade advisor Peter Navarro told CNBC that House Democrats have “declared war” on Trump.
  47. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the People.”
  48. On Tuesday, starting with Fox News host Sean Hannity on his show at 9:30 p.m. EST, talk of a “coup” was mentioned nearly every hour on Fox News. Right-wing outlets like Breitbart and Rush Limbaugh also used “coup.”
  49. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted a video made by his re-election campaign repeating the “coup” claim against a back-drop of grainy shots of House Democrats and Biden. The campaign will spend $8 million to air the ad.
  50. On Monday, in a series of tweets, Trump again attacked Chair Schiff, suggesting he should be arrested for treason, saying he “made up a FAKE & terrible statement” which “bore NO relationship to what I said on the call.”
  51. Later, at a swearing in ceremony for his new Labor secretary, Trump continued, saying, “Adam Schiff — representative, congressman — made up what I said. He actually took words and made it up.”
  52. Also Monday, Giuliani told Fox Business News that Schiff “stood in front of the American people with millions of people listening and he lied,” adding, “just like he lied when he said he had direct evidence of Russian collusion.”
  53. Also Monday, Eric Trump told “Fox & Friends” that Schiff “is exactly why we need term limits in this country,” adding, “He’s a total disgrace.”
  54. On Monday, Trump quoted a pollster on Fox News, tweeting the idea of impeachment started “once they saw the President’s numbers going up, they said ‘We gotta do something,’ so they made this whole thing up.”
  55. Trump also tweeted, “The Fake News Media wants to stay as far away as possible from the Ukraine and China deals made by the Bidens,” adding, “A Corrupt Media is so bad for our Country.”
  56. On Monday, CNN reported the Trump campaign ran 1,800 ads on Facebook mentioning “impeachment” in the last seven days. The ads have been viewed 16-18 million times and cost $600,000 to $2 million.
  57. On Monday, Republican chairmen of two Senate committees, Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley, sent a letter to the DOJ asking Barr to investigate ties between Ukraine and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
  58. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNBC that the Senate would “have no choice” but to take up impeachment and hold a trial if the House votes to charge Trump.
  59. On Monday, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee pressed committee chair Lindsey Graham to call Barr and other senior officials before the committee to testify on Ukraine.
  60. On Monday, former senator Jeff Flake called on his Republican colleagues to stand up to Trump in an op-ed, saying, “Trust me when I say you can go elsewhere for a job. But you cannot go elsewhere for a soul.”
  61. On Monday, Rep. Mac Thornberry, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said he would retire. Rep. Chris Collins resigned ahead of a guilty plea, making 20 Republicans to exit in 2020.
  62. On Monday, the chairs of the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs Committees subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani about his interactions with Trump regime officials in his role as an intermediary with Ukraine.
  63. The letter from the three chairs cites “credible allegations that you acted as an agent of the president in a scheme to advance his personal political interests by abusing the power of the Office of the President.”
  64. Giuliani was given an October 15 deadline to turn over information. Three of Giuliani’s business associates: Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, and Semyon “Sam” Kislin were also scheduled to give depositions.
  65. On Monday, WSJ reported Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took part in the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky, tying the State Department more closely to the impeachment inquiry.
  66. On Monday, NYT reported in a recent phone call with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Trump pushed the leader to help AG Barr gather information for a DOJ investigation meant to discredit the Mueller probe.
  67. Trump’s call was made at the request of AG Barr. The White House curbed access to the call transcript to a small group of aides, similarly to what had been done with the Ukraine call.
  68. The discussion revealed Trump once again using the power of presidency to advance personal political interests. The call was specifically made to request Australia’s help in Barr’s investigation.
  69. Trump essentially asked Australia to investigate itself. The FBI started an investigation of the Trump 2016 campaign after an Australian official told the department about George Papadopoulos’s London meeting.
  70. On Monday, WAPO reported Barr has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials to ask their help in the DOJ inquiry, hoping to discredit U.S. intelligence agencies’ examination of Trump-Russia in 2016.
  71. In addition to the request to Australia, Barr made overtures to British intelligence, and traveled to Italy for a second trip last week with John Durham, who has been put in charge of “investigating the investigators.”
  72. Current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials expressed frustration and alarm that the attorney general was personally investigating conspiracy theories and baseless allegations three years later.
  73. In a statement, a spokesperson for the Australian government said it has “always been ready to assist and cooperate with efforts that help shed further light on the matters under investigation,” citing the conversation.
  74. On Tuesday, Daily Beast reported Barr went to Rome with John Durham last week in an under-the-radar trip which was quietly announced just days prior, to look into events leading up to the Mueller probe.
  75. Barr and Durham were especially interested in what Italian intelligence knew about Joseph Mifsud, who allegedly offered George Papadopolous dirt on Hillary in London, and listened to a taped deposition he had given.
  76. On Wednesday, Sen. Graham asked in a letter for “continued cooperation” from Australia, Italy, and the U.K. in Barr’s investigation, including an Australian diplomat who he says was “directed to contact” Papadopoulos.
  77. Australia’s ambassador responded, tweeting, “We reject your characterization” of our diplomat’s role in the FBI’s 2016 investigation, adding we will work closely with Barr to “resolve any misunderstandings.”
  78. On Wednesday, the Times of London reported Trump called UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on July 26, the day after his call with Zelensky, and two days after Mueller’s testimony, to ask for help discrediting Mueller.
  79. The call also came just two days after Johnson took office. Trump asked Johnson to help accumulate evidencethat would discredit the Mueller investigation after it did not exonerate him.
  80. On Tuesday, the Hill reported former White House aide Sebastian Gorka, a contributor to Sinclair TV and a talk show host on Salem Radio Network, traveled with Pompeo to the Vatican as part of the limited press pool.
  81. On Tuesday, Hong Kong police shot a protestor in the chest, one of six live rounds filed by police, in one of the most violent days of protests, as China celebrated 70 years of Communist party rule.
  82. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “Congratulations to President Xi and the Chinese people on the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China!” — a communist government that has not held a free election.
  83. On Wednesday, Sigal Mandelker, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, and the top U.S. sanctions chief, resigned to join the private sector.
  84. On Friday, CNN reported Trump promised Chinese President Xi Jinping that the U.S. would remain silent on Hong Kong democracy protests while trade talks continued, a remarkable backing away from human rights.
  85. Trump’s commitment to not talk about the protests necessitated then-U.S. general counsel in Hong Kong, Kurt Tong, to have to cancel a speech on the protests in Washington scheduled for June.
  86. On Monday, in a court filing, a lawyer for House Democrats said they believe grand-jury redactions in the Mueller report revealed Trump lied about his knowledge of his campaign’s contacts with WikiLeaks.
  87. The filing was made with the House Judiciary Committee seeking Mueller’s grand jury materials, saying, “The text redacted…and any underlying evidence to which it may point are critical” to the investigation.
  88. On Monday, in a letter to the judge, the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan said it is joining Trump in the lawsuit to block disclosure of his tax returns, saying the complaint “raises a number of significant constitutional issues.”
  89. The letter puts the U.S. attorney’s office up against Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. Vance’s office have said their subpoena is valid and any dispute should be heard in state court.
  90. On Thursday, the Manhattan District Attorney has asked a judge in a sharply-worded court filing to reject federal prosecutors from backing Trump, calling the DOJ decision to intervene on Trump’s side “audacious.”
  91. The filing also stated, “Until quite recently and for more than a year, DOJ prosecutors in this very District conducted a highly publicized grand jury investigation into some of the very same transactions and actors.”
  92. On Tuesday, WAPO reported a federal judge warned U.S. prosecutors that they needed to either charge former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe or to drop their investigation on whether he lied to investigators.
  93. The judge said the prosecutors’ indecision was undermining the credibility of the DOJ, and said if a decision was not made by November 15, he would order them to release internal FBI documents related to McCabe’s firing.
  94. On Monday, attorneys for Michael Flynn said in a filing that a judge’s decision to overturn a guilty verdict for Flynn’s business partner Bijan Rafiekian last week “renders meaningless” his December 2017 guilty plea.
  95. The filing suggests Mueller team prosecutor Brandon Van Grack bullied Flynn into a plea deal. Flynn is due for sentencing December 18, but if he is granted access to additional Mueller documents, it will likely be delayed.
  96. On Tuesday, ISM U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers’ index, a gauge of U.S. manufacturing, came in at 47.8%, the lowest level since June 2009, during a severe recession. Experts cited Trump’s escalating trade war.
  97. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, blaming the Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, saying he “allowed the Dollar to get so strong,” and adding, “They are their own worst enemies, they don’t have a clue. Pathetic!”
  98. On Tuesday, WAPO reported officials in Montana are warning residents for the second time this year about mailers sent by the Republican National Committee which look like official census forms but are actually solicitations for money.
  99. The mailers say “2019 Congressional District Census” and urge recipients to send at least $15 to “help pay for the costs of processing [the] Census Document,” and add to the confusion around the citizenship question.
  100. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled against the Trump regime, saying Harvard University does not discriminateagainst Asian-Americans in admissions — the biggest legal challenge to affirmative action in years.
  101. The judge wrote, “Diversity will foster the tolerance, acceptance and understanding that will ultimately make race conscious admissions obsolete.” The regime is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court.
  102. On Tuesday, a federal judge in Georgia temporarily blocked a new abortion law that outlawed abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, before many women realize they are pregnant, from going into law.
  103. On Tuesday, NYT reported at a meeting in the Oval Office in March on immigration, Trump was fuming and ordered advisers to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico by noon the next day.
  104. Trump also mused about fortifying the border by stocking a trench with alligators, adding electrified spikes that could pierce human flesh, and shooting migrants who cross the border in the legs to slow them down.
  105. People at the meeting included Kirstjen Nielsen; Pompeo; Kevin McAleenan; Stephen Miller; Jared Kushner, and other senior staffers. Trump said “I ran on this” and “You are making me look like an idiot!”
  106. White House advisers were able to convince Trump to give them a reprieve, and a week later Nielsen talked him out of it. Miller took it as an opportunity and saw to it that Nielsen and others were pushed out.
  107. On Tuesday, WAPO reported a Fairfax County police officer was suspended for turning over a driver involved in a traffic accident to Immigration and Customs Enforcement after finding they had an immigration violation.
  108. The Fairfax police chief said the officer violated a long-standing policy of not performing civil immigration enforcement for ICE, despite stepped-up enforcement by the Trump regime. The incident is under investigation.
  109. On Wednesday, NYT reported the Trump regime plans to collect DNA samples from hundreds of thousands of detained immigrants held in federal detention centers which currently hold more than 40,000 people.
  110. Senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security said the DOJ was developing a federal regulation to give immigration officers authority to collect DNA. There is a 2005 exemption for collecting from immigrants.
  111. DHS officials plan to rollback the exemption in the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005, and would provide a comprehensive DNA profile. The results would also be shared with other law enforcement agencies.
  112. On Thursday, AP and FRONTLINE reported the Trump regime is shifting caretaking of migrant children to the private sector and contractors from religious-based non-profits, which traditionally cared for children.
  113. The only private company to care for migrant children so far is CHS, owned by Caliburn International Corp. Former Trump chief of staff John Kelly serves on Caliburn’s board and stands to financially benefit.
  114. Conditions inside Caliburn facilities were described as jail-like. The children wear matching grey pants and black sweatshirts, and are not allowed to touch each other. There are alarms on the windows.
  115. A citizen whistleblower complaint claimed Caliburn’s revenues could increase from $65 million in 2017 to $275-325 million per year based on the child detention business. The business was awarded on a no-bid basis.
  116. On Friday, WSJ reported the Trump regime will deny visas to immigrants who cannot prove they have health insurance, or the ability to pay for medical costs once they become permanent U.S. citizens.
  117. Trump’s proclamation will go into effect on November 3. Trump cited, “immigrants who enter this country should not further saddle our health care system, and subsequently American taxpayers, with higher costs.”
  118. Stephen Miller and others in the regime are behind this latest move to limit immigration by placing financial burdens and obstacles on immigrants. Miller was also behind the recent “public charge” rule.
  119. On Friday, NYT reported the Agriculture Department moved this week to slice another $4.5 billion over five years from the food stamp program, trimming monthly benefits by as much as $75 for one-in-five families.
  120. The move, which changes how people’s income and expenses are calculated, marks the third time the regime has cut the program. Trump has used executive orders, since Congress would not comply.
  121. On Wednesday, Politico reported the House Oversight Committee is investigating two entities, a trade association and a foreign government, for booking a large block of rooms at Trump hotels and using few of them.
  122. On Wednesday, Senate Democrats asked the IRS Commissioner to strip the National Rifle Association of its tax-exempt status, after a senate report in Week 150 found it worked closely with Russians in the 2016 election.
  123. On Tuesday, Pompeo tweeted a letter accusing three House committee chairs of trying to bully State Department officials to testify, saying they were not given time to prepare or consult with department legal counsel.
  124. In response, the three chairs wrote, “Any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from talking with Congress…is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry.”
  125. On Tuesday, WSJ reported House leaders plan to question former State Department officials: Kurt Volker will be deposed on Thursday and Marie Yovanovitch on October 11.
  126. On Tuesday, in a letter to the State Department, more than two dozen former U.S. diplomats and others experts said they were “disturbed” by reports linking Yovanovitch’s ouster to “absurd and unfounded allegations.”
  127. The letter also said Trump’s comments about her on the July 25 phone call “could be interpreted as a threat,” and “Such language and the broader attack on Ambassador Yovanovitch should be condemned unequivocally.”
  128. Also Tuesday, the State Department inspector general contacted several House and Senate committees, asking to brief their staffers on Wednesday on an undisclosed matter.
  129. On Tuesday, Politico reported in the spring of 2018 the Trump regime ordered an upgrade of the security of the National Security Council’s codeword system as part of an effort to ferret out and deter leaks.
  130. Part of the rationale for the upgrade of the system, known as NICE, or NSC Intelligence Collaboration Environment, was to prevent any leaks of the transcripts of Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders.
  131. On Tuesday, Giuliani hired Jon Sale, who served as an assistant special Watergate prosecutor, to represent him in the congressional investigation of Trump’s actions towards Ukraine.
  132. On Tuesday, Sen. Angus King told CNN that he and his staff had reconstructed the call between Trump and Zelensky using the memo, and determined more than two-thirds of the call time is unaccounted for.
  133. On Tuesday, Sen. Grassley, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, defended the whistleblower saying they followed protocol, and noted, “We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality.”
  134. On Thursday, a second Republican senator, Joni Ernst, also from Iowa, joined Grassley, saying, “I stand with Chuck Grassley on this. We have laws in place,” adding, “Whistleblowers should be protected.”
  135. On Wednesday, Trump told reporters that Schiff “should resign from office in disgrace, and frankly they should look at him for treason,” also calling Schiff a “lowlife.”
  136. Later Wednesday, House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy signed a censure resolution against Schiff introduced in Week 150 by Rep. Andy Biggs, the incoming chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.
  137. On Wednesday, speaking to reporters alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinisö, Trump called the whistleblower “fake” and “vicious” and into “some bad things” in a 40-minute press conference.
  138. A red-faced, enraged Trump also called the White House official who alerted the whistleblower a “spy,” said Schiff was guilty of “treason,” and said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “hands out subpoenas like they’re cookies.”
  139. Trump sparred with a Reuters reporter for asking about Ukraine, glaring at him and saying, “Are you talking to me?” then telling him, “We have the president of Finland, ask him a question.”
  140. When pressed again on Ukraine and Biden, Trump responded, “I’ve answered everything. It’s a whole hoax. And you know who’s playing into it? People like you.” Trump also called the media “corrupt” and “fake.”
  141. Trump continued to air grievances while President Niiniso looked on, repeatedly using the terms “hoax” “scam” and “fraud.” Niiniso barely got to speak, at one point interjecting, “I think the question is for me.”
  142. A Finnish reporter asked Niiniso “I have to ask, what kind of favors has Mr. Trump asked from you?” to which Trump interjected, “I think you mean the other way around,” before Niiniso gave a thoughtful answer.
  143. Trump said of impeachment, “We’ll work together with shifty Schiff and Pelosi and all of them.” He also added of the call transcript with Ukraine, “There are those who think I am a very stable genius, ok?
  144. Finnish reporters described the conference to their readers back home with ridicule and concern, celebrating Niiniso’s dignity during Trump’s unhinged monologues, and criticizing Trump’s treatment of the press.
  145. Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet wrote: “Niinisto’s visit was overshadowed by Circus Trump — President Niinisto asked Trump to safeguard U.S. democracy.”
  146. On Wednesday, former Ukraine President Petro Poroshenk said in a statement to Bloomberg, Joe Biden never asked him to open or close any criminal cases, saying nothing improper was done related to his son.
  147. On Wednesday, NYT reported the three House committees are preparing to subpoena the White House by Friday if it does not comply with requests for documents related to Trump’s interactions with Ukraine.
  148. Speaking to reporters alongside Speaker Pelosi, Schiff said, “We’re not fooling around here,” adding the House will not let this “drag on months and months and months, which would be the administration’s strategy.”
  149. Schiff called Trump’s tweet demanding to “meet” the whistleblower “a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses” and “an incitement of violence,” adding, We will do everything in our power” to protect the whistleblower.
  150. As Schiff was speaking, Trump tweeted, “The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULLSHIT,” adding he “got overwhelmingly elected.”
  151. Trump also tweeted, “Adam Schiff should only be so lucky to have the brains, honor and strength of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,” calling Schiff a “lowlife” who “completely fabricated my words.”
  152. Trump also tweeted, “Congressman Adam Schiff should resign for the Crime” of “fraudulently fabricating a statement of the President of the United States and reading it to Congress,” adding, “he is sick!”
  153. Trump also live-tweeted as Speaker Pelosi spoke about working with Trump on legislation to lower drug prices, tweeting, “It is just camouflage for trying to win an election through impeachment.”
  154. Pelosi said Trump asking Zelensky for “a favor” was sufficient reason to move forward, adding of the founders, “They never thought that we’d have a president who would kick those guardrails over,” calling it “sad.”
  155. On Wednesday, NYT reported Schiff learned about the outlines of the whistleblower’s concern before complaint was filed, showing how determined the whistleblower was to make their concerns known.
  156. The whistleblower approached a House Intelligence Committee aide after he had a colleague convey his concerns to the CIA’s top lawyer. In both approaches, the accusation was left vague.
  157. In a news conference after the NYT reporting, Trump waved a copy of the article and said, “Big stuff. That’s a big story,” falsely claiming that Schiff “helped write” the complaint, and calling it “a scam.”
  158. On Wednesday, an Economist/YouGov Poll found support for impeachment increasing to 45% from 37% in late July. Democrats’ support jumped by 20 points, and Independents rose eight points.
  159. On Friday, CNN reported support for Trump’s impeachment is unprecedented: with both Nixon and Clinton, impeachment actions started off with more opposing than supporting impeachment.
  160. On Wednesday, after much build-up and speculation, the State Department IG turned over a packet of news clipping, timelines, and interview notes on the Bidens given to them by Giuliani.
  161. Rep. Jamie Raskin, who was the only lawmaker to attend IG Steve Linick’s briefing, called it a “completely irrelevant distraction,” and “essentially a packet of propaganda and disinformation spreading conspiracy theories.”
  162. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Trump repeatedly involved Vice President Mike Pence in efforts to pressure Ukraine’s leader, at a time when Trump has using other channels to solicit information on his political opponents.
  163. Trump instructed Pence not to attend Zelensky’s inauguration in May, then months later Trump used to Pence to relay aid was still being withheld pending aggressive action on corruption ahead of Trump’s July 25 call.
  164. Officials close to Pence say he was not aware of Trump’s pressing for damaging information on the Bidens; although one of Pence’s top advisers was on the July 25 call, and there were visible signs of Trump’s strategy.
  165. Pence’s actions came as the U.S. ambassador to Kiev was abruptly recalled, Giuliani inserted himself into the U.S.-Ukraine relationship, and alarms were raised inside the White House about the whistleblower complaint.
  166. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Giuliani has consulted with Paul Manafort through the federal prisoner’s lawyer several times in recent months, in hopes of bolstering his story that Ukraine helped Hillary Clinton in 2016.
  167. Giuliani said he is looking into the existence of the black ledger obtained by Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau, which revealed cash payments to Manafort that led him to resign from Trump’s campaign.
  168. Giuliani claimed the ledger was used as a pretext for U.S. authorities to re-open a case against Manafort. The FBI already had a case open about his Ukraine work in 2013, and Mueller’s team did not mentioned the ledger.
  169. On Thursday, WAPO reported an IRS whistleblower filed a complaint saying he was told at least one Treasury Department political appointee acted to interfere with the annual audit of Trump or Pence’s tax returns.
  170. The Trump regime dismissed the complaint as flimsy because it was based on conversations with other government officials, but House Democrats were alarmed by the complaint which was flagged in a federal court filing.
  171. On Thursday, Pelosi told “Good Morning America” the Democrats’ investigation does not “hinge on” whether McConnell “has the guts to really do what the Constitution requires,” or “the impact” on the election.
  172. Pelosi added, “separate from that, the reelection of Donald Trump would do irreparable damage to the United States,” adding, “we have some serious repair and healing to do in our country for what he’s done so far.”
  173. On Thursday, Trump shifted strategy, snubbing his nose at impeachment and telling reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, “China should start an investigation into the Bidens.”
  174.  Asked what he hoped Zelensky would do after his July 25 call, Trump said, “If they were honest about it, they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens” — seeming to underscore his claim he did nothing wrong asking.
  175. Schiff cited Trump “encouraging a foreign nation to interfere again,” telling reporters, “It endangers our elections, it endangers our national security, it ought to be condemned by every member of this body.”
  176. No Republicans condemned Trump. Instead, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy prodded Pelosi in a letter asking if the House would vote on an official impeachment inquiry and if the GOP could call witnesses.
  177. Pelosi responded in a letter, noting McCarthy’s request came “shortly after the world witnessed President Trump on national television asking yet another foreign power to interfere in the upcoming 2020 elections.”
  178. On Thursday, GOP Sen. Ron Johnson defended Trump’s call on Ukraine and China, saying, “If there’s potential criminal activity, the president of the United States is our chief law enforcement officer.”
  179. On Thursday, CNN reported Johnson was a signatory to a February 2016 bipartisan letter to then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to make “reforms to the Prosecutor General’s office,” similar to Biden’s request.
  180. On Thursday, Ellen Weintraub, the head of the Federal Election Commission, re-upped a June tweet of a memorandum stating it is illegal for anyone running for public office to solicit help from a foreign national.
  181. On Thursday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson said in an op-ed on Trump’s calling a foreign head of state to investigate his political opponent, “Some Republicans are trying, but there’s no way to spin this as a good idea.”
  182. On Thursday, WSJ reported Trump ordered the removal of then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, saying she was undermining him abroad and obstructing his efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Biden.
  183. State Department officials were told in the spring that her removal was a priority. Pompeo supported the move. Career officials told Yovanovitch they could not shield her from Trump and his allies.
  184. Giuliani told the Journal that Yovanovitch displayed an “anti-Trump bias” in private conversations, and had been obstacle to Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Giuliani said he alerted Trump of both.
  185. Giuliani gave Pompeo a document on March 28 detailing a timeline on the Bidens’ dealings with Ukraine, as well as allegations of impropriety against Yovanovitch, including that she was “very close” to Biden.
  186. Trump said of her on Thursday, “I don’t know if I recalled her or somebody recalled her but I heard very, very bad things about her for a long period of time.” Yovanovitch will testify before lawmakers on October 11.
  187. On Thursday, Trump again mocked 16 year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, quoting a tweet that referred to her as “an actress,” and telling the person who tweeted it, “Keep up the great work.”
  188. On Thursday, Fox News host Sean Hannity took a shot at his colleagues on his show, saying, “We have a few resistance people on the channel,” as the civil-war within the network continued to spill out publicly.
  189. On Thursday, Politico reported Energy Secretary Rick Perry is expected to depart from the regime in November. Unlike most in Trump’s cabinet, Perry had largely avoided controversies until the Ukraine investigation.
  190. Sen. Bob Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee pressed Perry for information about his May travel to Ukraine, and asked who asked him to attend Zelensky’s inauguration.
  191. Perry is also part of a House subpoena sent Monday to Giuliani on the inauguration, but has not been directly called to testify himself. He has frequently visited Ukraine, including meeting with Zelensky.
  192. On Thursday, Trump said in a speech in Florida the regime is looking at starting a news network, saying CNN is “terrible for our country, adding, “we ought to start our own network and put some real news out there.”
  193. Trump also said of CNN and other media, “they are so bad for our country,” adding, “I go out there and they say, ‘Boy, the media hates your country,’ and it’s just a shame. It’s just a shame. And we really are.”
  194. On Thursday, a USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll found a plurality of Americans (45%) support impeachment, while 38% disapprove — a major shift in attitude since June when 32% supported impeachment, 61% disapproved.
  195. Shortly after, Trump tweeted as U.S. president, “I have an absolute right, perhaps even a duty, to investigate, or have investigated, CORRUPTION,” including “asking, or suggesting, other Countries to help us out!”
  196. On Friday, Trump tweeted, “As President I have an obligation to end CORRUPTION, even if that means requesting the help of a foreign country or countries,” falsely claiming, “It is done all the time.”
  197. Trump also claimed he is duty-bound to investigate corruption, tweeting “This has NOTHING to do with politics or a political campaign against the Bidens. This does have to do with their corruption!
  198. On Friday, CNN reported that Trump and Giuliani are taking charge of the narrative on the impeachment inquiry, sidelining White House officials and making it harder to defend Trump and hurting his case.
  199. White House officials say Jared Kushner and White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney are the two most focused on developing an impeachment strategy. It was unclear if one had the senior-most role.
  200. On Friday, Trump told reporters, “This is not about politics. This is about corruption,” adding, “if you look and you read our Constitution and many other things, I have an obligation to look at corruption.”
  201. On Thursday, former special U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker gave a 10-hour deposition to the House Intelligence Committee, along with texts sent relating to Trump-Ukraine.
  202. Volker, the first State Department official to testify, told House investigators he warned Giuliani against trusting information he was getting from Ukrainian political figures about Joe and Hunter Biden.
  203. Volker claimed he was never given an explanation for Trump extending an invitation to the White House to Zelensky that was later withdrawn, or for halting military aid, which deeply concerned Ukrainian officials.
  204. Giuliani told the Post he “did not recall” being told by Volker, saying, “I’m pretty certain he never said that the claims weren’t true,” he would have “asked him what kind of investigation he’d done and how he knew that.”
  205. On Thursday, NYT reported that Volker and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the E.U., worked on a statement in August for Zelensky that would have committed Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political opponents.
  206. Volker told Congress Thursday that Giuliani provided him and Sondland with critical elements of the language. The Ukrainians did not release the statement which would have given credence to allegations on Biden.
  207. On Thursday, in a letter to members of the three House committees from their Chairs, dozens of text messages from top State Department officials about a possible Trump-Ukraine quid pro quo were released.
  208. Late Thursday, Democrats publicly released text messages between U.S. and Ukrainian officials. The messages revealed how Trump tied the release of military aid to investigations that could help Trump’s 2020 campaign.
  209. The three committee chairs said the released text exchanges represented “only a subset of the full body of the materials” provided by Volker, and they hope to make the rest public later.
  210. Texts were sent by three U.S. diplomats: Kurt Volker; William Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine; and Gordon Sondland, a major GOP fundraiser and ambassador to the E.U.
  211. The texts revealed U.S. diplomats encouraged Zelensky to conduct a public investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden in exchange for a visit with Trump at the White House, in what one diplomat called a “crazy” swap.
  212. The texts lay out the raw contours of a potential quid-pro-quo exchange. An adviser to Zelensky appeared to agree to an investigation of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company where Hunter Biden served on the board.
  213. Before the July 25 call, U.S. officials said Ukraine needed to open investigations in order for Zelensky to get a meeting with Trump, which was urgently needed by Ukraine given ongoing Russian aggression.
  214. U.S. officials said Trump would not set a date for a meeting until there was a “deliverable” — a publicly announced investigation. An aide to Zelensky said he understood a meeting was contingent on the investigations.
  215. In late August, Ukrainian officials became aware military aid was also being delayed. Taylor asked Sondland if other Americans knew of the delays in aid and a meeting, and added Russia must be pleased.
  216. On Friday, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, said he would audit several cases handled by his predecessors, including a criminal case involving the company that employed Hunter Biden.
  217. The move sparked concern that Ukraine was bowing to political pressure from Trump. Ryaboshapka said he intended to review 15 cases, including one on the owner of the natural gas company Burisma Holdings.
  218. On Friday, Trump tweeted a headline by conservative Washington Times about the texts, falsely claiming, “Ukraine envoy blows ‘massive hole’ into Democrat accusations,” and adding, “Case Closed!”
  219. On Friday, WSJ reported Sen. Johnson said he was told by Sondland in late August that the hold-up in military aid to Ukraine was related to a desired investigation that Trump and his allies wanted.
  220. Johnson said when he called Trump the next day on August 31, Trump flatly rejected the claim: “He said, ‘Expletive deleted — No way. I would never do that. Who told you that?”
  221. On Thursday, Sen. Ben Sasse said, “Americans don’t look to Chinese commies for the truth. If the Biden kid broke laws…that’s a matter for American courts, not communist tyrants running torture camps.”
  222. On Friday, Sen. Mitt Romney became the second Republican to criticize Trump, tweeting Trump’s “brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.”
  223. On Friday, Rep. William Hurd, who is retiring in 2020, said “it is terrible” for Trump to ask China to probe Biden, adding congratulating China “on 70 years of communism via a tweet” is also something he would not do.
  224. On Friday, intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson testified before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors. Atkinson received the whistleblower complaint.
  225. Atkinson, who was appointed by Trump in 2017, deemed the complaint an “urgent concern,” which requires the complaint be given to Congress, but acting DNI Joseph Maguire refused to on advice of the DOJ.
  226. On Friday, NBC News reported weeks before the whistleblower complaint became public, the CIA’s general counsel, Trump appointee Courtney Simmons Elwood, made a criminal referral to the DOJ about it.
  227. The move meant that she and other senior officials concluded that a crime had been committed, raising further questions about why the DOJ later declined to open an investigation in Trump pressuring Zelensky.
  228. On Friday, chairs of the three House committees requested a wide-ranging batch of documents from Pence in the impeachment inquiry, relating to Trump’s pressuring Ukraine and any role Pence played, by October 15.
  229. On Friday, WAPO reported senior staffers working for Trump have all along been worried about his calls with foreign leaders, citing his diplomatic blunders, making promises he could not keep, and asking for favors.
  230. Aides said in his first call with Putin, Trump said something like, “Oh my gosh, my people didn’t tell me you wanted to talk to me.” Trump has also been consistently cozy with other authoritarian leaders.
  231. Aides bristled on how Trump spoke to longtime allies, especially women leaders like Theresa May. Unlike past leaders, Trump has rejected much of the protocol and preparation associated with foreign calls.
  232. On Friday, the three House committee chairs subpoenaed the White House for Ukraine documents, after the regime failed to comply with repeated requests, marking the third subpoena sent since impeachment began.
  233. In a letter to Mulvaney, the three said, “We deeply regret that President Trump has put us — and the nation — in this position,” and gave until October 18 to respond. The White House called it political posturing.
  234. On Friday, NYT reported a second intelligence official who was alarmed by Trump’s dealings with Ukraine is considering filing his own report and testifying before Congress.
  235. The official has more direct information about the events, and was interviewed by the intelligence community inspector general to corroborate the allegations in the first complaint.
  236. On Friday, Bloomberg reported Trump ordered a cut to national security staff as the White House confronts an impeachment inquiry. The stated reason was to make the council leaner under the new National Security Adviser.
  237. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “the so-called Whistleblower’s account of my perfect phone call is “way off,” not even close,” adding, “Schiff and Pelosi never thought I would release the transcript of the call…they got caught.”
  238. Trump also tweeted, “This is a fraud against the American people!” However, documents, firsthand witness accounts, and public statements by Trump over two weeks have bolstered the facts outlined in the complaint.
  239. Trump also attacked Sen. Romney, tweeting, “If Mitt worked this hard on Obama, he could have won. Sadly, he choked!” and calling him “a pompous “ass” who has been fighting me from the beginning.”
  240. After golfing, Trump tweeted, “Not only are the Do Nothing Democrats interfering in the 2020 Election, but they are continuing to interfere in the 2016 Election. They must be stopped!” It was unclear what he meant.

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

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

Trump and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 2, 2019.
Advertisements

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 126: IF YOU’RE WONDERING WHAT FASCISM LEADS TO…

APRIL 06, 2019

Week 125

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-125/
IMG_1957
Miami, FL. November 2018. 
IMG_6592
not my pic. Clearly, disdain for this guy is felt all around the world…

This week, two weeks after Mueller had sent his final report to Attorney General William Barr, members of the special counsel anonymously broke their silence, indicating to the Times and the Post that their findings were more troubling than Barr’s letter had indicated. Meanwhile Trump changed his position on public release of the report, as he and his surrogates went into attack mode against the Democrats and Mueller’s team.

Republicans rebuked Trump this week, failing to stand with him on his threat to close the U.S.-Mexico border and to come up with an alternative to Obamacare ahead of the 2020 election. The House joined the Senate, voting to end U.S. involvement in Yemen, marking the first time both chambers of Congress have voted to invoke the war-powers resolution to end U.S. military engagement in a foreign conflict.

House Democrats took aggressive action this week, including demanding six years of Trump’s tax returns, preparing a lawsuit over Trump’s national emergency, and making public testimony from whistleblower Tricia Newbold on security clearance. Secret Service arrested a Chinese woman at Mar-a-Lago, raising concerns that Trump’s “Winter White House” is vulnerable to spying, while FBI director Christopher Wray told Congress white supremacy is a “persistent, pervasive threat.” Trump seemed off his game this week, stumbling on the birthplace of his father, mispronouncing words and making odd statements — raising concerns again about his mental health.

D26_oRkU4AIRLwL.jpg-large

“If you’re wondering what fascism leads to, just ask Benito Mussolini and his mistress Claretta.” – Jim Carrey

IMG_6596

not my pic. 

  1. On Monday, WAPO reported Trump has made 9,451 false or misleading claims in his first 801 days in office. In the last 200 days, Trump made 22 false or misleading claims per day, up from 5.9 per day in his first year in office.
  2. Ratings by E-Poll Market Research showed Trump is most often described as “aggressive” (48%),“mean” (38%), and “overexposed” (29%). His strong positive appeal is at 14%, while strong negative is 39%.
  3. Within the regime, press secretary Sarah Sanders scored 15% for “trustworthy,” and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway 8% for the same. Jared Kushner was most described as “insincere” (29%) and “creepy” (27%).
  4. NBC News reported that at least 14 major contributors to Trump’s inaugural committee have been nominated to ambassador positions, although experts say they are less qualified than nominees in the past.
  5. There are 52 still vacant ambassadorships out of 250, including in key countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. After two years, Obama had 11 unfilled, and George W. Bush had 15.
  6. On Saturday, returning from her two week suspension, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro said Trump’s accusers had a “blueprint for a future effort to overthrow the government,” adding they should face time behind bars.
  7. On Sunday, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told “This Week” that Robert Mueller intended to have Attorney General William Barr determine whether Trump obstructed justice.
  8. On Sunday, a NBC News/WSJ poll found 40% of American do not believe Trump has been cleared of wrongdoing in the Mueller probe, while 29% believe he has.
  9. On Sunday, Fox News host Chris Wallace pressed Kellyanne Conway on her repeated claims that Trump has been totally exonerated in the Mueller investigation in a heated exchanged. Wallace said it “just isn’t true.”
  10. Actor Jim Carrey tweeted: “If you’re wondering what fascism leads to, just ask Benito Mussolini and his mistress Claretta,” along with a cartoon of the two being hanged upside down after they were executed in 1945.
  11. On Sunday, Alessandra Mussolini, Benito’s granddaughter, a far right politician, tweeted in response to Carrey: “You are a bastard.”
  12. On Sunday, hundreds of Polish nationalists protested in New York City over U.S. legislation which compensates Holocaust survivors whose property was seized during World War II.
  13. Some protestors chanted “Stop slandering Poland in the media,” and “Treat anti-Polonism like anti-Semitism,” while others perpetuated anti-Semitic stereotypes and denied the Holocaust, calling it a “hoax.”
  14. On Monday, Israeli researchers said they found a network of hundreds of fake Twitter accounts that reached more than 2.5 million Israelis boosting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of next week’s election.
  15. On Sunday, Fox News apologized after a chyron on a “Fox & Friends” segment that read: “Trump Cuts Aid to 3 Mexican Countries.”
  16. On Monday, AP reported as Trump threatened to shut the U.S. border with Mexico, Trump is considering bringing on an “immigration czar” to coordinate policy between federal agencies.
  17. Trump is considering former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for the position. Kobach was also a leader of Trump’s short-lived election-fraud commission.
  18. On Sunday, Axios reported Trump has told confidants that he is “saving” Judge Amy Barrett — young and viewed as an extremist — to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
  19. On Monday, after Senate democrats voted down a disaster relief-package for Puerto Rico saying there was not enough money, Trump blamed Puerto Rican politicians in a tweet, calling them “incompetent or corrupt.”
  20. Trump again cited an incorrect number, tweeting: “91 Billion Dollars to Puerto Rico,” falsely claiming it was more than “than Texas & Florida combined,” and “taking dollars away from our Farmers.”
  21. On Tuesday, Trump again lashed out, falsely claiming in a tweet “Puerto Rico got 91 Billion Dollars,” adding, “all their local politicians do is complain & ask for more money. The pols are grossly incompetent.”
  22. Trump also tweeted that Puerto Ricans “only take from USA.” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló responded to Trump, tweeting “this “place” you refer to, #PuertoRico, is home to over three million proud Americans.”
  23. On Tuesday, deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley referred to Puerto Rico as “that country” in an interview on MSNBC. When the host clarified Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, Gidley said it was a “slip of the tongue.”
  24. On Friday, Trump attacked California politicians for wildfire funding, saying “California’s always the first one to complain. And I don’t mean the people of California. They’re fantastic. I’m talking about the politicians.”
  25. On Monday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson mocked MSNBC host Chris Hayes’ masculinity on his show, saying Hayes “is what every man would be if feminists ever achieved absolute power in this country.”
  26. On Tuesday, a gas station clerk in San Jose, California was fired after ranting at a woman speaking Spanish, demanding she prove she was a U.S. citizen, and saying, “Trump needs to hurry up and build the wall.”
  27. On Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 280 workers at CVE Technology Group in Allen, Texas in what authorities say is one of the largest enforcement actions of its kind in a decade.
  28. On Tuesday, Daily Beast reported the Department of Homeland Security disbanded a group of intelligence analysts who were part of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) that focused on domestic terrorism.
  29. Numerous current and former DHS officials expressed concern with the move, citing the growing threat fromhomegrown violent extremists and domestic terrorists. I&A has been quietly cutting staff since last year.
  30. On Thursday, FBI director Christopher Wray testified before the House Appropriations Committee, and broke from Trump saying white supremacy presents a “persistent” and “pervasive” threat to the U.S.
  31. Wray also said: “The danger, I think, of white supremacists, violent extremism, or any other kind of violent extremism is, of course, significant.” Trump has downplayed the danger of white nationalism.
  32. On Thursday, BuzzFeed reported Barr said in a letter he was “troubled by the concerns” raised by a group of LGBTQ employees who complained about discrimination at the DOJ, and ordered an investigation.
  33. The group claimed employees have faced increasing discrimination under the Trump regime – including gay FBI agents at the academy being pushed out — leading to a decline in morale and an exodus of staff.
  34. On Thursday, 157 House Republicans voted against passing reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which passed, and also booed Rep. Debbie Dingell during a debate on the House floor.
  35. The National Rifle Association pressured Republican lawmakers to oppose the bill because it adds a provision that people convicted of abusing their dating partners could not own or buy firearms.
  36. On Tuesday, the Alabama House and Senate introduced a bill that would make performing an abortion a Class A felony, and attempting to perform an abortion a Class C felony.
  37. On Friday, Kansas Republicans passed an ‘abortion reversal bill,’ requiring notice to patients that abortions can be reversed, despite the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists discrediting this view.
  38. On Friday, the Acadiana Advocate reported three historically black churches have burned down in 10 days in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana in what officials called “very suspicious” fires.
  39. On Saturday, Patrick Carlineo Jr. of Addison, New York was arrested after making a threatening call to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s office, telling a staffer “she’s a [expletive] terrorist. I’ll put a bullet in her [expletive] skull.”
  40. Alaska U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason ruled that Trump’s 2017 executive order lifting an Obama-era ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean and parts of the North Atlantic coast was unlawful.
  41. Judge Gleason ruled the ban will remain in effect “unless and until revoked by Congress.” The ruling may have broader implications for the regime’s efforts to open drilling on coastline and public lands.
  42. On Tuesday, McClatchy reported the Trump 2020 campaign is seeking a list of “climate change victories” that can be attributed to Trump as polls show growing concern over global warming.
  43. White House officials have liaised with the E.P.A. on behalf of the campaign. For one, the regime plans to argue greenhouse gas emissions decreased in Trump’s first year in office due to private sector innovation.
  44. The regime is still divided on creating a presidential committee on climate security, since results would be made public. Trump continues to question the science behind climate change, while other in the regime disagree.
  45. On Wednesday, WAPO reported the Trump regime will cut federal inspectors for food safety inspections at hog plants by about 40%, and shift much of the power and responsibility to the pork industry.
  46. The proposed new system, scheduled to start in May, would allow plant owners to use plant employees for inspections, with training at owners’ discretion. Also, there will be no limits on slaughter-line speeds.
  47. On Wednesday, a coalition of Democratic attorneys general filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the rollback of school nutrition policies championed by former first lady Michelle Obama for “illegally weakening” standards.
  48. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell failed to adopt a resolution to change the rules so that non-Cabinet level and district court judicial nominees would face just two hours of floor debate instead of 30.
  49. McConnell needed 60 votes, but got 51 from Republicans. On Wednesday, Leader McConnell used the “nuclear option” for the afternoon and evening only, with the Senate voting 51-48 to push through confirmations for some positions.
  50. On Thursday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a controversial bill, in private, replacing the state’s voting machines with touchscreens, which Democrats warned they may make the system more vulnerable to hacking.
  51. On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell rejected a request by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to unseal records relating to the mystery foreign state-owned company in the Mueller case.
  52. On Monday, BuzzFeed reported Judge T.S. Ellis III, the judge who presided over Paul Manafort’s case in Alexandria, will not face disciplinary action over four ethics complaints related to his treatment of Mueller’s team.
  53. On Tuesday, CNN reported that George Sorial, who since 2017 has served as the Trump Organization’s top compliance official and has been with the company since 2007, is stepping down to write a book.
  54. On Monday, House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler said he plans to bring subpoenaing the full Mueller report to committee vote on Wednesday if Barr does not release it by the April 2 deadline.
  55. On Monday, Rep. Nadler also wrote an op-ed criticizing Barr’s decisions to unilaterally withhold parts of the Mueller report from Congress, and to render judgment on whether Trump obstructed justice.
  56. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted 24-17 along party lines to authorize subpoenas for the full Mueller report and underlying documents.
  57. The committee also voted to subpoena five former White House officials they believe may have received documents relevant to Mueller’s probe including Donald McGahn, Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks, and Reince Priebus.
  58. The five, also including McGahn’s former deputy Ann Donaldson, were among the 81 individuals and entities sent document requests by Nadler last month.
  59. On Tuesday, Trump reversed course on calling for the public release of the Mueller report, tweeting about a segment on Fox News saying for that for Democrats “NOTHING WILL EVER SATISFY THEM!”
  60. Trump also tweeted, “Robert Mueller was a God-like figure to the Democrats, until he ruled No Collusion,” adding, Democrats “have become totally unhinged, and would like to go through the whole process again.”
  61. Trump also tweeted there is no amount of information that will satisfy “Jerry Nadler or Shifty Adam Schiff,” adding, “It is now time to focus exclusively on properly running our great Country!”
  62. On Tuesday, in an interview on CNN, former FBI director James Comey condemned Trump calling for a counter-investigation after the Mueller report on how the probe started, saying it creates a troubling precedent.
  63. When asked by host Christiane Amanpour whether he is kept awake at night by the possibility he helped Trump win, Comey replied, “Sure,” and, “I hope someday somebody proves that what we did was irrelevant.”
  64. On Monday, in a series of tweets, Trump said, “the cost of ObamaCare is far too high,” adding “good things are going to happen!” He tagged four Senators — Leader Mitch McConnell, Rick Scott, John Barrasso and Bill Cassidy.
  65. Trump also tweeted that the Republicans “are developing a really great HealthCare Plan with far lower premiums (cost) & deductibles than ObamaCare,” adding the replacement will come after the 2020 election.
  66. On Tuesday, Leader McConnell told reporters that he and Trump spoke Monday, and he “made it clear to him” that Senate Republicans had no intention of trying to overhaul Obamacare ahead of the 2020 election.
  67. McConnell cited the political peril of the issue for Republicans in the midterms. The Trump regime is continuing to push for the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act through the courts.
  68. On Tuesday, Trump told reporters he was “100 percent” prepared to shut the U.S.-Mexico border, saying, “If we don’t make a deal with Congress, the border’s going to be closed.”
  69. Trump also said Democrats in Congress need to address immigration: “Congress has to meet quickly and make a deal,” and adding, “Security is more important to me than trade.”
  70. Trump said of his decision to cut off aid to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras: “They don’t do anything for us,” adding they have been “taking advantage” of the U.S. for many years, and “they arrange these caravans.”
  71. Around the same time, Leader McConnell told reporters, “Closing down the border would have potentially catastrophic economic impact on our country, and I would hope we would not be doing that sort of thing.”
  72. On Tuesday, at a White House event with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump falsely claimed his father was born in Germany — the third time Trump has made this claim. Fred Trump was born in New York.
  73. Trump also ranted, threatening to “get rid of” immigration judges, chain migration, catch and release and visa lottery, and added, “we have to do something about asylum and to be honest with you.”
  74. Trump also on three separate occasions substituted the word “oranges” for “origins,” demanding to know the “oranges of the investigation.” Trump also stated out of the blue, “I’m very normal.”
  75. On Tuesday, Trump told House Republicans in a speech during the National Republican Congressional Committee’s spring dinner to be a “bit more paranoid than you are” about vote counting.
  76. Trump also said, “There were a lot of close elections … they seemed to, every single one of them went Democrat,” adding, “You don’t like it either, you just don’t want to say it because you’re afraid of the press.”
  77. Trump also falsely claimed that the noise from wind turbines causes cancer, as well as lowering property values: “If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down.”
  78. On Wednesday, during an exchange with reporters on whether wind turbine noise causes cancer, White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp responded, “I don’t have an answer to that.
  79. The confusion on where his father was born, strange language, and the statement that he is “normal” caused some mental health professionals to question whether Trump is undergoing some kind of cognitive decline.
  80. On Thursday, Trump said he would delay closing the border with Mexico for a year, adding “that will be a very powerful incentive,” and that he is not bluffing: “I will do it. I don’t play games.”
  81. On Tuesday, according to a memo summarizing her testimony, White House Personnel Security Office whistleblower Tricia Newbold claimed the White House reversed 25 security clearances that were denied.
  82. Newbold called Congress her “last hope” for addressing what she considers improper conduct that has left the nation’s secrets exposed. She privately testified before the House Oversight Committee in March.
  83. Newbold said the 25 were granted access to national security information since 2018 despite allegations offoreign influence, conflicts of interests, questionable or criminal conduct, financial problems, or drug abuse.
  84. The 25 include Jared Kushner, Ivanka, and national security adviser John Bolton. Chair Elijah Cummings said his committee would vote to subpoena Carl Kline, Newbold’s direct manager, who overruled her clearance denials.
  85. Newbold had previously filed concerns with numerous White House officials, including Kline; his immediate supervisor, Samuel Price; the White House Counsel’s Office; assistant to the president Marcia Kelly; and Chief Security Officer Crede Bailey. None acted.
  86. Newbold, who has a rare form of dwarfism, also accused Kline of retaliation, alleging he moved her files to a shelf several feet above her, out of her reach, beginning in December 2017 when she hired a lawyer.
  87. On Wednesday, WAPO reported that Jared Kushner is “Senior White House Official 1” described in documents detailing Tricia Newbold’s testimony to the House Oversight Committee.
  88. In her testimony, Newbold said she and another career employee denied Kushner security clearance last yearbecause he had too many “significant disqualifying factors.” They were overruled by Kline.
  89. On Tuesday, the House Oversight Committee voted 22-15, along party lines, to subpoena Kline, who was White House personnel security chief for the first two years of Trump’s time in office.
  90. On Thursday, the Atlantic reported the number of whistleblowers in the era of Trump has spiked, with dozens inside the federal government cooperating with the House Oversight Committee.
  91. Whistleblowers started to come forward shortly after Trump took office, in relation to Michael Flynn. Among the whistleblowers, Democrats confirmed a handful work at the White House.
  92. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “Can you believe that the Radical Left Democrats” want to do the Census Report without a citizenship question, calling it “meaningless and a waste of the $Billions (ridiculous).”
  93. On Monday, the newly installed U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham refused to comment on the question — Is this person a citizen of the United States? — saying the bureau must remain “totally objective.”
  94. On Tuesday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross rejected a second invitation to testify before a House committee, the Appropriations subcommittee, claiming it would be a distraction from the agency’s budget discussion.
  95. On Tuesday, the House Oversight Committee voted 23-14 to subpoena Ross’s records related to the regime’s decision to add the census question. Rep. Cummings said the regime’s “stonewalling” had left them no choice.
  96. On Friday, a third federal judge halted the Trump regime from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. In a 119-page opinion, U.S. District Judge George Hazel of Maryland called the question unlawful.
  97. The judge wrote of “the lack of any genuine need for the citizenship question,” and noted “the mysterious and potentially improper political considerations that motivated” the regime to add it.
  98. On Tuesday, court documents revealed Secret Service agents arrested Yujing Zhang after she bypassed a security checkpoint and gained access to the reception area of Mar-a-Lago on Saturday.
  99. Zhang was carrying two passports, four cell phones, a laptop, and a thumb drive containing malicious software. She told security officials she was going to the swimming pool, although she was not carrying a swimsuit.
  100. Zhang was approached by a receptionist and asked why she was there. She claimed she was going to a United Nations Chinese American Association event later that evening. The receptionist knew the event did not exist.
  101. Zhang was charged with two federal crimes: making false statements to a federal officer and entering restricted property. The court filing did not provide additional information about the malware.
  102. On Tuesday, the Miami Herald reported the event Zhang was allegedly heading to was advertised on Chinese-language social media by Li “Cindy” Yang, whose business advertises access to Trump and his family.
  103. Although the event Zhang said she was attending did not exist, it was one of two advertised and promoted for that day by Yang’s business. Yang is not mentioned in the court filing.
  104. NBC News reported that Trump was golfing, and not at Mar-a-Lago when Zhang entered; however, first lady Melania Trump and other members of the Trump family were there.
  105. On Wednesday, WAPO reported that each weekend at Mar-a-Lago— a money-making operation for Trump — hundreds of members, overnight guests, and party-going strangers attend, and need to be screened.
  106. To protect Trump, the Secret Service is required to screen every visitor against pre-approved lists. For his business, Trump requires Secret Service to defer to Mar-a-Lago staffers about allowing in visitors not on the list.
  107. Even when Trump is at the property, visitors described times when names were not on the list, but Mar-a-Lago security personnel made exceptions if they knew the guest or found another staffer to vouch for them.
  108. On Wednesday, Senate leaders Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, and Mark Warner asked FBI director Wray to investigate whether foreign spies could exploit weaknesses at Mar-a-Lago to steal classified information.
  109. On Wednesday, House Oversight Committee Chair Cummings told reporters that Mazars USA, Trump’s tax and accounting firm, has asked for a so-called “friendly” subpoena so it can comply with the panel’s request.
  110. On Wednesday, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal formerly requested in a letter to the IRS commissioner that the IRS hand over six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns.
  111. Rep. Neal invoked a little-known provision in the federal tax code granted during Warren Harding’s administration to only tax-writing committees, which say that the Treasury secretary “shall” furnish the information.
  112. On Wednesday, at an event at the White House, Trump repeated the excuse for not releasing his returns that he used during the campaign, telling reporters, “We are under audit…I’m always under audit.”
  113. On Thursday, NYT reported on February 5, Trump pushed Leader McConnell to confirm Michael Desmond, his nominee to be the chief counsel of the IRS, before putting forward the confirmation of Barr.
  114. McConnell proceeded with Barr first, but Desmond was confirmed on February 27. In private practice,Desmond worked alongside William Nelson and Sheri Dillon, tax counsels to the Trump Organization.
  115. When asked Thursday by reporters if he would direct the IRS not to disclose his tax returns, Trump demurred, “They’ll speak to my lawyers,” adding, “They’ll speak to the attorney general.”
  116. On Thursday, the top federal ethics watchdog declined to certify Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s 2018 financial disclosure report, citing the sale of his stake in a film production business to his wife not complying with ethics rules.
  117. On Friday, Politico reported Mnuchin is losing two of his most trusted aides: Eli Miller, chief of staff, and Tony Sayegh, the top communications official — both as the agency faces pressure over Trump’s tax returns.
  118. On Friday, Trump’s personal lawyer, William Consovoy, asserted Trump’s right as a private citizen, and told the Treasury Department in a letter not to turn over his tax returns to House Democrats.
  119. Consovoy said Rep. Neal’s request did not have a “legitimate committee purpose” and “is a transparent effort by one political party to harass an official from the other party because they dislike his politics and speech.”
  120. The IRS and Treasury Department have given no indication of how they will respond to the the House request. Rep. Neal gave the IRS until next week to comply.
  121. On Wednesday, NYT reported the House Intelligence Committee has asked Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a close friend of first lady Melania Trump and a top contractor to Trump’s inaugural, for documents related to the event.
  122. Winston Wolkoff’s lawyers said she has been cooperating with prosecutors in the Southern District of New York since last fall. She had also received a subpoena from the federal prosecutors.
  123. On Wednesday, NYT reported some members of Mueller’s team say the Mueller report was more damaging to Trump than Barr revealed in his letter. The team included 19 lawyers, 40 FBI agents, and other personnel.
  124. Some are also concerned that because of Barr’s portrayal of the report and how it shaped the narrative, Americans’ view will have hardened before the investigation’s conclusions become public.
  125. The special counsel’s investigators had already written multiple summaries as part of the report — which some felt Barr should have released along with his letter.
  126. Officials speaking for Barr told the Times that he was trying to keep with Justice Department practice not to disclose derogatory details in closing an investigation, pointing to Comey’s treatment of Hillary Clinton.
  127. On Wednesday, WAPO reported members of Mueller’s team have complained to close associates that the evidence they gathered on obstruction was alarming and significant.
  128. Some members were upset Barr did not release summary information the special counsel team had prepared. The members said summaries of different sections of the report were prepared for public view.
  129. One official said they assumed their summaries would be made public “and so they prepared their summaries to be shared in their own words — and not in the attorney general’s summary of their work.”
  130. On Wednesday, Rudy Giuliani told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that Mueller’s team was biased, saying “they are a bunch of sneaky, unethical leakers,” and adding, “And they are rabid Democrats who hate” Trump.
  131. On Thursday, when asked about the NYT report, press secretary Sanders told “Fox & Friends” that theDemocrats are a “sad excuse for a political party” and “nothing but sore losers” who are getting “beat” by Trump.
  132. On Thursday, in response to the NYT and WAPO stories, the Justice Department issues a statement saying it was concerned about illegally releasing grand jury information, which is confidential.
  133. The statement also said Barr “decided to release the report’s bottom-line findings and his conclusions immediately — without attempting to summarize the report” and then release the redacted version.
  134. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “The New York Times had no legitimate sources” adding, “In fact, they probably had no sources at all! They are a Fake News paper.”
  135. Trump also falsely claimed in a tweet that the NYT has “already been forced to apologize for their incorrect and very bad reporting on me!”
  136. Trump also tweeted Democrats are subjecting him to the “highest level of Presidential Harassment” in the nation’s history, adding, “there is nothing we can ever give to the Democrats that will make them happy.”
  137. Trump also tweeted: “few people seem to care about the Russian Collusion Hoax,” but that “some Democrats are fighting hard to keep the Witch Hunt alive,” and calling it “ridiculous Collusion Delusion” and “so illegal!”
  138. On Thursday, NBC News reported according to an official who has spoken to Mueller’s team, the evidence on obstruction of justice is compelling and the report includes more information than has been made public.
  139. Mueller team members also said the report included detailed accounts of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia, revealing campaign members were manipulated by a sophisticated Russian intelligence operation.
  140. On Thursday, Speaker Pelosi told reporters, “people on the Mueller team think there’s a mischaracterization by the attorney general,” adding, “I don’t know, there is an easy answer to this: Release the Mueller report.”
  141. On Thursday, Rep. Nadler sent a letter to Barr requesting the public release of the summaries prepared by Mueller’s team, and all communications between the DOJ and Mueller’s office about the Mueller report.
  142. On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul blocked a resolution calling for the public release of the Mueller probe from coming to the Senate floor. This marks the fourth time Republicans have blocked the vote.
  143. On Friday, Trump quoted an op-ed by Fox Business host Lou Dobbs saying Democrats have invented a cover-up, tweeting, “Trolling the Mueller Report. Democrats Lost On Collusion. Now They’re Inventing A Coverup.”
  144. On Friday, the DOJ responded to the Electronic Privacy Information Center lawsuit filed to make the Mueller report public, saying the DOJ shouldn’t “circumvent this orderly process” of Barr’s planned release.
  145. On Thursday, Axios reported Trump is expected to name Herman Cain on the Federal Reserve board. Cain, the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, ran for president in 2012 but withdrew over sexual harassment allegations.
  146. Trump has told confidants he views his selection of Jerome Powell as Fed Chairman as one of his worst mistakes, reportedly saying Powell has no “feel” for the markets, and comparing him to a golfer who cannot putt.
  147. Guardian reported that Trump’s other pick, Stephen Moore, was held in contempt of court in November 2012 for failing to pay his ex-wife over $300,000 in money owed under their divorce settlement.
  148. Gavin de Becker, an investigator for Jeff Bezos, said in an op-ed Saudi Arabia had gained access to Bezos’ private information before the National Enquirer made information on his extramarital relationship public.
  149. On Thursday, the House joined the Senate, voting 247-175 to pass a measure to end U.S. involvement in Yemen, denouncing a Saudi-led bombing campaign that has been blamed for a humanitarian crisis.
  150. The measure marks the first time both chambers of Congress have voted to invoke the war-powers resolution to end U.S. military engagement in a foreign conflict. Trump is expected to veto the measure.
  151. On Friday, Saudi Arabia arrested two more U.S. citizens who were activists. The move puts additional pressure on Trump as he decides whether to side with Congress or veto their measure.
  152. On Thursday, Speaker Pelosi announced the House will file a lawsuit challenging Trump’s declaring a national emergency at the Southern border, saying we will “defend our democracy and our Constitution.”
  153. Speaker Pelosi said in a statement, “The president’s action clearly violates the Appropriations Clause by stealing from appropriated funds, an action that was not authorized by constitutional or statutory authority.”
  154. On Thursday, CBS News reported the Homestead facility in Miami, the largest shelter for unaccompanied minors, is rapidly adding more than 850 beds to a massive facility that currently houses more than 2,300 teens.
  155. Under the Flores settlement, unaccompanied minors are required to be housed in “non-secure” facilities, but Homestead has tall fencing. Sen. Jeff Merkley described Homestead as “a massive prison for migrant children.”
  156. On Thursday, the Miami Herald reported former White House chief of staff John Kelly was spotted at the Homestead shelter.
  157. Homestead, run by Caliburn International, is the only for-profit detention center in the country. Caliburn was formed after a company purchase by DC Capital Partners, where Kelly was employed as a lobbyist.
  158. On Friday, Trump withdrew his nominee for the director of ICE, Ronald Vitiello, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol who serves as a top official at ICE, saying he wants someone “tougher” to lead the agency.
  159. WAPO reported Trump’s decision to suddenly dump Vitiello caught DHS and lawmakers by surprise, with some mistaking it for a clerical error. He would have been Trump’s first senate-confirmed director of ICE.
  160. Vitiello was supposed to join Trump on his trip to the Mexican border, but was left off the list last minute. Reportedly, Trump had heard complaints about Vitiello by Stephen Miller, ICE union boss Chris Crane, and others.
  161. Six officials said Trump’s decision was a sign of Miller’s increasing power. Reportedly Trump told Miller he would be in charge of all immigration and border affairs, and would have a say in Trump’s third ICE nominee.
  162. On Friday, speaking to reporters before boarding his plane, Trump called on Congress to “get rid of the whole asylum system” because “it doesn’t work.” For the second time, Trump also said we should “get rid of judges.”
  163. On Friday, Trump again attacked the media, tweeting, “They can’t stand the fact” that his regime has done more that “virtually any other Administration,” adding, “They are truly the ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!
  164. On Friday, Trump traveled to the border of Mexico in Calexico, California to participate in a roundtable on immigration and border security. Trump claimed migrants are straining the system and added, “Our country is full.
  165. Trump also defended his national emergency saying, “There is indeed an emergency on our southern border,” adding, “It’s a colossal surge, and it’s overwhelming our immigration system. We can’t take you anymore.”
  166. In a ceremonial gesture, Trump was presented with a piece of the future border wall. In his time in office, Trump has yet to add any new fencing or other barriers anywhere on the Southern border.
  167. Trump also complained about the build-up of migrants at the border, saying, “Judge Flores, whoever you may be, that decision is a disaster for our country.” Flores was a teenage migrant from El Salvador.
  168. Ahead of Trump’s visit, protestors flew a “baby blimp” Trump, the 20-foot-tall inflatable balloon of Trumpwearing a diaper and holding a cell phone, which has appeared across the U.S. and other places around the world.
  169. On Friday, in a letter, 41 immigration and civil rights groups urged Fortune 500 CEOs to blacklist Trump aides who were involved in planning, carrying out, or defending the regime’s family separation policies.
  170. On Friday, the State Department revoked the entry visa for Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court who was investigating possible war crimes by American forces in Afghanistan.
  171. On Saturday, WAPO reported, despite Trump’s claim that our country is full, DHS and the Labor Department plan to grant an additional 30,000 H-2B visas this summer, doubling the number they had planned to give out.
  172. H-2B visas allow foreigners to come to the U.S. for several months to work at companies such as landscaping, amusement parks, or hotels. Last year, about 80% these visas went to people from Mexico and Central America.
  173. On Thursday, Michael Cohen’s attorney said in a letter to Democrats in Congress that Cohen has discovered substantial files on a hard drive that he is working through and will provide in exchange for staying out of jail.
  174. On Friday, when asked to respond on Cohen, Trump replied, “he’s old news. He lied numerous times during his last testimony. They’ve had that for many months.”
  175. On Friday, Cohen’s attorneys publicly released the memo provided to House democrats Thursday, citing “Trump’s involvement in a conspiracy to collude with Russian government intervention” in the 2016 campaign.
  176. On Thursday, Trump told the Washington Times when asked for a reaction to former first lady Barbara Bush’s quote, he replied, “I have heard that she was nasty to me, but she should be. Look what I did to her sons.”
  177. On Friday, Roger Stone defended Trump in an Instagram post, calling Barbara Bush “nasty, rude, vindictive, entitled, self-important,” and adding, “that’s the woman I had several unpleasant encounters with.”
  178. On Friday, police were stationed outside the Ecuador embassy in London, following tweets from the WikiLeaks account said Julian Assange could be kicked out of the building within “hours to days.”
  179. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Assange is a “free man” and can leave the embassy whenever he chooses. Police said there is an active warrant for Assange’s arrest that they are obliged to execute if he leaves.
  180. On Friday, Trump said for the third time in three years, he will not attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, calling it “boring” and “negative.” Instead, Trump will hold a rally that night.
  181. On Friday, Commercial Bank of Ivanovo, a Russian bank in North Carolina which was 80% owned by former Congressman Charles Taylor, lost its license over repeatedly breaking anti-money laundering regulations.
  182. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “I have not read the Mueller Report yet, even though I have every right to do so,” adding, “Only know the conclusions, and on the big one, No Collusion.”
  183. Trump also tweeted, “our great A.G. who found No Obstruction,” adding, “13 Angry Trump hating Dems (later brought to 18)” spent two years and $30 million and “found No Collusion, No Obstruction.”

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

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

Trump talks to reporters during a briefing with military leaders and others in the Cabinet Room at the White House April 03, 2019. Notably, there was not a single woman or person of color at the table.

D3eWvb9WkAExIRy.jpg-large

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 83: CONTINUING TO DIVIDE THE COUNTRY

While Fox (Faux) News (Opinions) reported on Meghan Markle’s off-the-shoulder dress, here’s what actually happened, and matters, in our country (and to the world) this week ~ 

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Week 82 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

June 9, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-82-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-e77db1301d3b

This week started with Trump pushing yet another norm, saying he could pardon himself. This comes after a string of recent pardons, and Trump bragging to reporters that he is considering 3,000 more — crowning himself the arbiter of what is fair, not the judicial branch. In two moves that alarmed legal experts, Sessions’ Justice Department sided with a frivolous lawsuit instead of defending the Affordable Care Act, and seized phone and email records from a New York Times reporter.

Trump continued to divide the country, creating controversy by disinviting the NFL champions the Philadelphia Eagles from the White House, and later in the week, the NBA champions. The regime continues its cruel Zero Tolerance policy at the southern border, which has drawn international outcry and lawsuits.

Trump continues to act as if he is solely in charge, attending the Group of Seven summit in Toronto where he arrived late, left early, delivered a harsh, toothless speech, and complained Russia wasn’t invited — further alienating our former allies and achieving nothing before leaving for his summit with Kim Jong Un next Tuesday. However, this week, the Republican Party showed signs of standing up to Trump on several issues including trade, the FBI informant, ZTE and protections for “dreamers.”

IMG_8629

  1. On Sunday, Sen. Jeff Merkley posted a video showing he was denied entry to a former Walmart in Brownsville, Texas used as a detention center for migrant children who had been separated from their parents.
  2. The facility in Brownsville is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. Merkley tweeted, “Asked repeatedly to speak to a supervisor — he finally came out and said he can’t tell us anything. Police were called on us.”
  3. On Monday, Ray Zaccaro, a spokesperson for Merkley, added that on Sunday, in a separate visit to a Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, Texas, “Senator Merkley and his staff saw children in cages.”
  4. On Monday, deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley accused Merkley of “irresponsibly spreading blatant lies” and “smearing hardworking, dedicated law enforcement officials.”
  5. On Tuesday, in one of a series of 13 tweets, Trump also attacked Merkley and Democrats, tweeting, “Separating families at the Border is the fault of bad legislation passed by the Democrats.” This statement is false.
  6. On Tuesday, the United Nations human rights office called on the Trump regime to “immediately halt” its policy of separating children from their parents after they cross the U.S. border with Mexico.
  7. A U.N. spokeswoman said, “The use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles,” adding, “the child’s best interest should always come first.”
  8. On Tuesday, Jeff Sessions defended separating migrant parents and children, telling conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, “If people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them.”
  9. Sessions also likened the practice to what happens in the U.S., saying when an American “gets prosecuted” for a crime, “American citizens, and they go to jail, they’re separated from their children.”
  10. On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced for athird month in a row, U.S. border agents made more than 50,000 arrests in May, triple the amount in May 2017, despite the Trump regime separating children from their parents.
  11. NYT reported police departments in several cities with large Hispanic populations are seeing a decline in reports of domestic violence and sexual assault. Police blame fear of being deported.
  12. Cities experiencing a decline include Los Angeles, Denver, San Diego, andHouston, which saw a decline from 7,460 reports from Hispanics in 2016, to 6,273 in 2017.
  13. WAPO reported about 200 ICE officers blitzed two locations of Corso’s Flower and Garden Center in Ohio in an immigration raid. They arrested 114 workers thought to be illegal and loaded them on buses to be taken to ICE detention centers.
  14. Local activists say dozens of children were left stranded at daycare centers and with babysitters. ICE plans to charge the undocumented workers with identity theft and tax evasion. ICE is also investigating the employer.
  15. This marks third mass round-up conducted by ICE. In April, 97 immigrants were arrested at a meat-processing plant in rural Tennessee, and in January, ICE raided 98 7-Eleven stores.
  16. Daily Beast reported Honduran native Martina Blasina Romero, the mother of Ronal Francisco Romero, an undocumented immigrant who died of bacterial meningitis while in ICE custody, is preparing to sue.
  17. Border Patrol arrested Romero on May 9 as he illegally entered the U.S. He died May 16. Advocates say the facility where Romero was held is severely lacking in medical assistance, one saying it is “virtually nonexistent.”
  18. On Wednesday, a U.S. District Judge in San Diego denied a motion made by the Trump regime to dismiss an ACLU lawsuit which argues that splitting up families at the border violates their due process rights.
  19. The judge wrote that allegations that the government “arbitrarily tears at the sacred bond between parent and child,” if true, “is brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency.”
  20. Intercept reported that the ACLU estimates between 1,500 and 2,000 migrant children have been separated from their parents at the southern border, with the number escalating with Sessions’ Zero Tolerance policy.
  21. According to a police report obtained by WAPO, a Honduran father separated from his wife and child suffered a breakdown at a Texas jail and killed himself in a padded cell on May 13.
  22. The Starr County sheriff’s deputy reports quotes Border Patrol agents. Thedeath of Marco Antonio Muñoz, 39, has not been publicly disclosed by the Department of Homeland Security.
  23. The Des Moines Register reported Manuel Antonio Cano Pacheco, who was scheduled to graduate high school in Des Moines last month, died a brutal death in Mexico three weeks after being escorted out of the U.S. by ICE.
  24. Cano Pacheco had been granted DACA status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, but it was revoked over a speeding ticket. He was the oldest of four siblings.
  25. For a second year in a row, Trump failed to recognize LGBTQ Pride Month. Shortly after his inauguration, the Trump regime removed references to LGBTQ people from a number of federal government websites.
  26. On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that the baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple was discriminated against by a Colorado agency which displayed religious bias when it sanctioned him.
  27. The narrow Supreme Court ruling did not address whether businesses can refuse service to same-sex couples based on religious beliefs. Trump fanned misinformation, tweeting, “Big Supreme Court ruling for Baker just out!”
  28. On Monday, following the ruling, state Rep. Michael Clark of South Dakota wrote on Facebook that businesses should be able to turn away customers based on race. He later apologized.
  29. Following the ruling, Jeff Amyx, owner of a hardware store in Tennessee,displayed a sign which read, ‘No Gays Allowed.’ Amyx said, “Christianity is under attack…this is not the end, this is just the beginning.”
  30. Amyx had first posted the sign in the store window in 2015 when gay marriage became legal, but later removed it after facing a sharp backlash.
  31. On Thursday, an Arizona appeals court ruled that a Phoenix-based calligraphy business cannot refuse service to same-sex couples.
  32. After the White House drew fired in 2017 for not hosting an Iftar dinner to commemorate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, this year the regime hosted a dinner, but failed to invite any Muslim-American leaders or activists.
  33. NYT reported on a 20-page confidential letter sent to Robert Mueller on January 29 from Trump attorneys John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, making the untested assertion that Trump cannot illegally obstruct any aspect of the Russia investigation.
  34. Trump’s lawyers argue it is impossible for him to obstruct justice by shutting down a case or firing a subordinate, no matter his motivation,since the Constitution gives him power to supervise the executive branch.
  35. Trump’s attorneys are looking to head off a subpoena for fear that if he answers questions in front of a grand jury, he risks exposing himself to accusations of lying to investigators, a potential crime or impeachable offense.
  36. To counter Mueller, Trump and his lawyers are attacking James Comey’s credibility, and have started a public-relations campaign to discredit the investigation to preempt a potentially damaging special counsel report.
  37. Trump’s lawyers also disclosed in the letter that Trump “dictated a short but accurate response to the New York Times article on behalf of his son” relating to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians.
  38. Shortly after the NYT article came out, Trump tweeted, “Is the Special Counsel/Justice Department leaking my lawyers letters to the Fake News Media?” adding “When will this very expensive Witch Hunt Hoax ever end?”
  39. This statement contradicts multiple public statements made by both Sekulow and press secretary Sarah Sanders in the past year, both who asserted to the press that Trump did not dictate the misleading statement.
  40. On Monday, at the daily briefing, when asked about her past false statements, Sanders refused to explain, saying, “You’re referencing a letter that came directly from outside counsel and I would refer you to them,”
  41. On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani told “This Week” that Trump has the ability to pardon himself, but said it is “unthinkable” he would pardon himself, saying, “He has no intention of pardoning himself.”
  42. On Sunday, Giuliani told HuffPost, “In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted,” claiming Trump’s Constitutional powers are that broad.
  43. On Sunday, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who hopes to take over House leadership when Paul Ryan retires, told “State of the Union” regarding theMueller probe, “if there is no collusion, it’s time to wind this down.”
  44. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself,” adding “ but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?”
  45. Trump also called the Mueller probe “the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats,” and said, “The appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”
  46. In a scathing op-ed “Mourning America,” by Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan’s daughter, Davis accused Trump of “sullying” the American dream,” and called out Republicans in Congress for refusing to stand up to him.
  47. WAPO reported that in Trump’s first 497 days, he has made 3,251 false or misleading claims. In his first 100 days, Trump averaged 4.9 false claims a day. Now, Trump is up to 6.5 false claims each day.
  48. On Monday, the Pentagon inspector general issued a statement, saying the watchdog has “initiated an investigation into allegations” against Trump’s former personal physician, Ronny Jackson.
  49. U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell told Breitbart London he wants to “empower other conservatives” to rise up against “elites.” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said Grenell should be recalled if political statements continue.
  50. Trump nominated Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker and close Steve Bannon ally, to lead the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the agency which oversees U.S.-funded media outlets, including Voice of America.
  51. WSJ reported the Trump regime has put the search for the Justice Department’s number 3 position on hold, after failing to lure several candidates, who would take over the Mueller probe if Rod Rosenstein were fired.
  52. The Justice Department has been a frequent target for Trump. Thedepartment lacks permanent, appointed leaders to oversee at least five high-profile units, including the criminal, civil, and tax divisions.
  53. On Tuesday, Trump continued to attack Sessions, tweeting, “The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself,” adding, “So much time and money wasted.”
  54. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Mick Mulvaney fired the 25-member advisory board of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, after 11 of its members Monday publicly criticized his leadership of the agency.
  55. Carl Higbie, a former Trump appointee, resigned from Trump-aligned America First Policies after companies said they would no longer donate due to his racist comments, like black women “think that breeding is a form of government employment.”
  56. On Thursday, in a big victory for the chemical industry after heavy lobbying, Trump’s EPA is scaling back the way the government determines health and safety risks associated with the most dangerous chemicals.
  57. According to documents released last week by the Environmental Protection Agency, testing will now exclude potential exposure caused by the substances’ presence in the air, the ground or water, and instead focus on direct contact with a chemical.
  58. Politico reported Trump has considered Judge Jeanine Pirro for a senior job in the regime. The two speak by phone frequently, and Trump watches her Fox News show every Saturday night, sometimes calling in.
  59. On Monday, WAPO reported Scott Pruitt had aides do various personal tasks, including having the EPA’s chief’s director of scheduling call the Trump International DC to inquire about purchasing one of its used mattresses.
  60. Emails released under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Sierra Club reveal Pruitt tried twice to get a job for his wife. Federal ethics laws bar public officials from using their position or staff for private gain.
  61. On Wednesday, a second top Pruitt aide, senior adviser Sarah Greenwalt, resigned from the EPA and said she is returning to Oklahoma to work at a state agency.
  62. On Thursday, WAPO reported Pruitt enlisted his 24/7 security detail to run errands for him, including picking up his dry cleaning and picking up his favorite moisturizing lotion.
  63. Documents obtained by The Hill under the FOIA reveal Bob Murray, CEO of coal company Murray Energy, offered six suggested executive orders on coal to the EPA and Department of Energy. In Week 62, a photographer was fired for leaking a photo of Rick Perry hugging Bob Murray.
  64. The executive orders would have halted and repealed rules on coal pollution. Although Trump did not sign the orders, the regime has started to implement many of those policies.
  65. On Friday, Trump said he continues to back Pruitt despite the growing list of ethical scandals, saying Pruitt is “doing a great job.”
  66. Documents obtained by BuzzFeed in a FOIA lawsuit reveal that as head of DHS, John Kelly instructed an official not to email staffers for fear of scrutiny of the FOIA. At the time, the agency’s main focus was immigration.
  67. WAPO reported that in early 2018, China hacked the computers of a Navy contractor, stealing massive amounts of highly sensitive data, including secret plans to develop a supersonic anti-ship missile by 2020.
  68. On Thursday, the House voted 210–206 to rescind $15 billion in unspent funding that had been approved, including $7 billion for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which covers low-income children.
  69. Late Monday, Mueller’s team accused Paul Manafort of witness tampering by contacting two witnesses by phone and through encrypted messaging apps, and asked a federal judge to consider revoking or revising Manafort’s release.
  70. Mueller’s team said Manafort and an unnamed associate linked to Russian intelligence repeatedly contacted two members of a public relations firm and asked them to falsely testify about secret lobbying.
  71. On Tuesday, a federal judge ordered Manafort to respond by Friday to Mueller’s request to revoke or revise his release, and set a June 15 hearing date.
  72. On Thursday, Reuters reported Bruce Baldinger, a longtime lawyer for Manafort hired Marc Garfinkle, a New Jersey ethics attorney, to advise him.
  73. On Friday, Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national, were indicted by Mueller on charges of obstructing justice: trying to influence two witnesses relating to the failure to register as foreign lobbyists.
  74. Manafort and Kilimnik allegedly began reaching out in February and Apriland tried to convince former colleagues to lie that Manafort’s lobbying work was done exclusively in Europe, and not in the U.S.
  75. Kilimnik has worked with Manafort since 2005. Mueller’s team claimed in a court filing this year that the FBI believes Kilimnik still has “ties to a Russian intelligence service.”
  76. Rick Gates, Manafort’s former business partner, who is cooperating in the probe, has said Kilimnik is a former officer of Russia’s foreign military intelligence agency, the GRU.
  77. With these indictments, the year-old Mueller probe has thus far resulted in20 individuals and three businesses having been either indicted or pled guilty, and a total of 75 charges have been filed.
  78. On Tuesday, Simona Mangiante, wife of George Papadopoulos, changed her previous account of her husband’s intentions, and asked Trump on Fox News to pardon him.
  79. On Tuesday, Alex van der Zwaan, the first person to serve prison time in the Mueller probe, was deported to the Netherlands.
  80. On Wednesday, Speaker Ryan said he agreed with Rep. Trey Gowdy’s initial assessment that there is no evidence the FBI spied on the Trump’s campaign.
  81. Shortly after, Sen. Richard Burr also said he agreed with Gowdy. So farGowdy and three of the four Republicans (Mitch McConnell, Ryan, Burr) in the Gang of Eight agree there is no evidence. Only Devin Nunes differs.
  82. On Wednesday, the Guardian reported according to visitor logs, Brittany Kaiser, then a director at Cambridge Analytica, visited Julian Assange in February 17, 2017 to discuss what happened in the U.S. election.
  83. Kaiser also claimed to have channelled cryptocurrency payments and donations, given to her by a third party, to WikiLeaks. In a tweet Wednesday, WikiLeaks said, “WikiLeaks has no knowledge of donations.”
  84. According to emails reviewed and sources, BuzzFeed reported during the campaign Ivanka emailed with former Olympic weightlifter Dmitry Klokov, who offered to introduce Trump to Putin to facilitate a Trump tower in Moscow.
  85. Ivanka connected Klokov with Michael Cohen. Reportedly congressional investigators have reviewed the emails and questioned witnesses, as has Mueller’s team.

IMG_8662

  1. Late Monday, Trump abruptly disinvited the Philadelphia Eagles from a White House Super Bowl celebration, saying in a statement, “They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem.”
  2. The regime claimed 70 Eagles had promised to come, then 10 to 12 said they would attend Monday. Aides said Trump deemed the smaller crowd unsatisfactory. No Eagles knelt during the national anthem last season.
  3. On Tuesday, Fox News’ reporting on the canceled trip featured images of Eagles players down on a knee. The players were praying, not protesting. Fox News later apologized.
  4. On Tuesday, the White House issued another statement saying, “the vast majority of the Eagles decided to abandon their fans.” The White House claimed 81 players had last week committed to come.
  5. On Tuesday, in lieu of welcoming the Eagles, Trump held a “Celebration of America” event at the White House. Trump appeared alongside U.S. flags and military troops.
  6. The event, which Trump hailed as a “beautiful, big celebration,” lasted about 10 minutes. At the ceremony, Trump struggled with lyrics to “God Bless America,” and took the opportunity to talk about the economy.
  7. On Tuesday, AP reported stars from the teams in the NBA finals, Stephen Curry and LeBron James, said they will not go to the White House. James said “I know no matter who wins this series, no one wants the invite anyway.”
  8. AP also reported Trump did not invite the WNBA champions the Minnesota Lynx to the White House to celebrate their most recent title. LeBron James called this “laughable.”
  9. On Thursday, Yahoo Sports reported Colin Kaepernick’s lawyers are expected to subpoena to compel testimony from Trump, Pence, and other officials familiar with Trump’s agenda on protesting NFL players.
  10. As part of the lawsuit, lawyers will seek information on the Trump regime’s political involvement with the NFL during Kaepernick’s free agency and the league’s handling of player protests.
  11. On Friday, ahead of the NBA championship game, Trump told reporters that he will not invite the NBA champions to the White House.
  12. On Wednesday, Trump gathered his cabinet at FEMA headquarters for an annual briefing. Trump praised his entire cabinet except Sessions.
  13. While at FEMA, Trump made no mention of the revised death toll estimates in Puerto Rico, and gave no indication the regime was reviewing its response to the hurricane in Puerto Rico.
  14. First Lady Melania Trump also appeared with Trump at FEMA — her first time in public in nearly a month. Trump said, “The people of our country love you. So thank you, honey.”
  15. Trump chastised the media, saying, “The Fake News Media has been so unfair, and vicious, to my wife.” Kellyanne Conway called the media’s coverage of Melania “conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact.”
  16. On Friday, when asked why Melania did not accompany him to the G7 summit and Singapore, Trump said, “Can’t fly for one month, the doctors say. She had a big operation, that was close to a four-hour operation.”
  17. Medical experts said it would be unusual for the procedure Melania received to last four hours, and that doctors don’t typically curtail flying after an embolization procedure, if it went normally as described.
  18. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader McConnell canceled three of the four weeks of August recess. Democrats are defending 26 seats in November to Republicans’ nine, and would typically use that time to campaign. The House, however, will recess for the entire month.
  19. On Tuesday, the LA Times reported 118,522 voters were accidentally left off the voting rosters in California’s primary due to a printing error. About 35% of L.A. County’s 4,357 precincts were affected.
  20. Santa Clara County residents voted 59–39 to recall Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, the judge who presided over Brock Turner’s sexual assault case. He is the first California judge to be recalled in more than 85 years.
  21. On Tuesday, CNN reported Kelly Sadler, the White House communications aide who made disparaging comments about Sen. John McCain and refused to publicly apologize, is no longer working at the White House.
  22. On Tuesday, in tweets, Trump criticized “numerous delays” in release of the report on Clinton emails: “What is taking so long with the Inspector General’s Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey.”
  23. On Thursday, Trump again urged the Justice Department to investigate his political enemies, tweeting, “Justice Department must not let Awan & Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook,” adding “Where is Server? Really bad!”
  24. Trump also accused the Obama administration of “trying to give Iran secret access to the financial system,” and using his new term for Mueller’s team, the “13 Angry Democrats,” telling them to investigate.
  25. On Wednesday, Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a first-time nonviolent drug offender. In Week 81, Kim Kardashian West visited Trump in the Oval Office to make this request.
  26. On Friday, Trump told reporters he is considering pardoning some 3,000 people, including Muhammad Ali.
  27. Ron Tweel, an attorney for Ali, who died in 2016, said in a tweet, “a pardon is unnecessary.” Ali’s conviction was overturned in 1971.
  28. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled Trump can be deposed in the Summer Zervos defamation lawsuit. Zervos’ attorneys have already issued a subpoena to the Trump campaign related to other women accused.
  29. Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz said before the case moves forward, the issue of whether or not a sitting president can be sued in state court should be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court.
  30. On Wednesday, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney filed a lawsuit saying Cohen “colluded” with her then-lawyer, Keith Davidson, in an attempt to get her to go on Fox News’ “Hannity” in January and deny she had an affair with Trump.
  31. On Wednesday, at an investment conference in Israel, Giuliani told the audience why the summit with North Korea was off, then on: “Well, Kim Jong Un got back on his hands and knees and begged for it.”
  32. Giuliani said of Mueller’s team, “They are a group of 13 highly partisan Democrats” who are “trying very, very hard to frame” Trump. He also repeated his claim that Trump could pardon himself of any federal crimes.
  33. Giuliani also said derogatory things about Clifford, including “I’m sorry I don’t respect a porn star,” and a woman who respects herself, “isn’t going to sell her body for sexual exploitation.”
  34. Giuliani also he finds Clifford to be unattractive and therefore not credible, saying Trump’s three wives are “Beautiful women, classy women, women of great substance. Stormy Daniels? Pfft.”
  35. Giuliani drew sharp rebukes from many, calling him sexist and misogynist. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said his comments were a slur and “an insult to every woman in this country.”
  36. On Friday, when asked about Giuliani’s comments, Trump said, “I’m not going to disagree with him on that.” Trump has appeared in three Playboy videos between 1994 and 2001.
  37. On Thursday, Sessions’ DOJ filed a brief supporting an obscure lawsuit brought by conservative states, led by Texas, arguing the protections for people with preexisting conditions under ACA should be invalidated.
  38. If those protections are invalidated, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, approximately 52 million Americans under the age of 65 could lose access to health care.
  39. Legal experts expressed shock that the DOJ sided with a frivolous lawsuit. Law professor Nicholas Bagley wrote,“the Justice Department has a durable, longstanding, bipartisan commitment to defending the law.”
  40. On Thursday, James Wolfe, a former Senate Intelligence Committee director of security, was arrested and charged with lying repeatedly to FBI investigators about his contacts with three reporters.
  41. The DOJ seized records of a Times reporter, Ali Watkins, who had been in a three-year relationship with Wolfe. This is the first known instance of Trump’s Justice Department going after a reporter’s data.
  42. Watkins’s data, which was seized without her being notified, included phone records from her time working at BuzzFeed and Politico. She disclosed her personal relationship with Wolfe to all three employers.
  43. Wolfe was responsible for safeguarding classified and sensitive information. Court documents describe Wolfe’s communications with four reporters, including Watkins, using encrypted messaging applications.
  44. On Thursday, the Times denounced the seizure of Atkins’ phone and email records, saying the move “will endanger reporters’ ability to promise confidentiality to their sources and, ultimately, undermine the ability of a free press.”
  45. On Friday, the Committee to Protect Journalists also expressed concern about the seizure, and called the move “a fundamental threat to press freedom.”
  46. On Friday, Trump applauded the arrest, saying, “I’m a very big believer in freedom of the press, but I’m also a believer that you cannot leak classified information.” Trump has been pressuring Sessions to take action.
  47. On Friday, Jim Jordan, a senior member of the House Oversight Committee, said he was “very nervous” about the DOJ’s surveillance of a NYT reporter, and said he may hold hearings.
  48. On Thursday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC that at about 6 a.m., the Trump regime “executed a definitive agreement with ZTE.” China lobbied the Trump regime for a compromise on ZTE.
  49. On Thursday, senators, including Trump ally Tom Cotton, said they would introduce an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act whichwould restore penalties on ZTE for violating sanctions against Iran and North Korea.
  50. The amendment would also ban government agencies from buying or leasing equipment and services from ZTE and Chinese telecom company Huawei, citing national security concerns about spying.
  51. On Friday, the Chairman of ZTE apologized to staff and customers in a memo, saying the company had agreed to pay a $1 billion fine and overhaul its leadership. ZTE said it will restart restart operations.
  52. On Wednesday, Sen. Bob Corker, along with eight Democratic and Republican co-sponsors, introduced a bill to check Trump’s tariff authority, rebuffing a personal request from Trump to back off.
  53. This marks the first time Republicans have stood up to Trump on trade. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Koch Industries backed the bill, but McConnell said he would not bring it to the floor as a stand-alone bill.
  54. On Thursday, a group of two dozen moderate House Republicans broke from Trump, demanding a vote to reinstate deportation protections for “dreamers” taken away by the regime.
  55. On Thursday, former House Speaker John Boehner said at the Mackinac Policy Conference in Michigan, “There is no Republican Party. There’s a Trump party. The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere.”
  56. CNN reported on a testy conversation between Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on May 25, in which Trump invoked the War of 1812 to justify tariffs, “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” That was British troops.
  57. On Thursday, ahead of the G7 meeting in Toronto, France’s Prime Minister Macron tweeted, the will to have a text “signed by 7 countries” must not overcome the content, adding, “we must not rule out a 6+1 agreement.”
  58. On Thursday, Trudeau tweeted an article detailing an “even closer collaboration” with France.
  59. Trump responded in a series of tweets, saying, “Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs,” and accusing Trudeau of “being so indignant.”
  60. Late Thursday, the White House announced Trump would leave the G7 summit early, after sparring with Macron and Trudeau on the issue of trade.
  61. On Friday morning, before heading to the G7 summit, Trump told reporters Russia should be reinstated in the group, saying “Russia should be in this meeting…They should let Russia come back in.”
  62. Russia was suspended from the then G8 in 2014 over the annexation of Crimea, the first violation of a European country’s borders since World War II. Trump’s statement signals the growing divide with former allies.
  63. On Saturday, Trump arrived late to the G7 summit breakfast on empowering women, and walked in after Trudeau had welcomed everyone to the session.
  64. On Saturday, Trump delivered his most defiant trade threat yet, telling the G7 summit that they must dramatically reduce trade barriers, “We’re like the piggy bank that everybody is robbing. And that ends.”
  65. Trump asked the six countries to remove every single tariff or trade barrier on American goods and in return, he would do the same for products from their countries. Else, they risk severe penalties.
  66. He also said of trade wars, “We win that war a thousand times out of a thousand.” WAPO reported before Trump had grumbled about having to attend the G7, and had considered sending Pence in his place.
  67. Trump also again called for readmitting Russia to the G7, and said “Crimea was let go during the Obama administration…I might have had a very different” response.
  68. Trump departed early Saturday, skipping meetings on climate change, energy policy and oceans. The White House Trump will leave early to prepare for his summit in Singapore on June 12 with Kim Jong Un.
  69. On Thursday, Politico reported National security adviser John Bolton has yet to convene a cabinet-level meeting to discuss Trump’s upcoming summit with Kim Jong Un, a striking break from decades of precedent.
  70. On Thursday, when asked about preparation by reporters at the White House before a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Abe, Trump said “I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude.”
  71. On Tuesday, New York Post reported former NBA player Dennis Rodman will be in Singapore for the Trump-Kim summit. Sources say Rodman may play some part in the negotiation, and “One thing’s for sure the ratings will be huge.”
  72. On Thursday, Trump said that Rodman had not been invited to the summit but called him a “nice guy.” Trump added that he did not know about Rodman’s intention to be in Singapore during the summit.
  73. On Friday, Rodman confirmed on Instagram that he’s heading to Singapore to “give whatever support is needed to my friends, President Trump and Marshall Kim Jong Un.”

IMG_8583

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 77: “DISOBEY”

Week 76 of this dysfunctional regime: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

April 28, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-76-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-af60a31816b6

In some ways this week felt normal as leaders of France and Germany visited the White House, and the leaders of North and South Korea met for a historic summit and spoke of the denuclearizing the peninsula. In the days Macron was in America, the country seemed relatively calm with less news breaking and Trump refraining from his typical banter and tweets.

But beneath the veneer, the dysfunction and chaos of the Trump regime continued. Amid the firing and attempted nominations of top officials, Trump continues to unilaterally pick from a small circle of unqualified sycophants. This week the country was shocked when Speaker Ryan fired the House chaplain for speaking up for the less fortunate — symbolic for Republicans in the era of Trump who have joined in the weekly attacks on “the others” and those who would advocate for them. As the week ended, the country endured another fallen norm: a functional House Intelligence Committee.

31165458_763937857132570_9127502817710309376_o
Photo by Paul Hehn in Portland, Oregon this week.
  1. The National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group, held a rally in Draketown, Georgia on Saturday. Approximately two dozen people participated in the event, which included burning swastikas 12–18 feet high.
  2. On Saturday, Trump said he is considering a posthumous pardon for boxer Jack Johnson at the request of Sylvester Stallone, tweeting of Johnson, “His trials and tribulations were great…I am considering a Full Pardon!”
  3. On Sunday, Trump quoted Fox News, tweeting: “GOP Lawmakers asking Sessions to Investigate Comey and Hillary Clinton,” and adding, “Good luck with that request!”
  4. On Sunday, after Chuck Todd’s show, “Meet the Press,” Trump referred to Todd in a tweet, for a second time, as “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd.” It was noted on social media that “sleepy-eyes” has been used as an anti-Semitic slur.
  5. On Monday, Trump quoted Kim Strassel, a WSJ opinion writer, tweeting, “after reviewing the dumb Comey Memos, ‘you got to ask, what was the purpose of the Special Counsel?’”adding “there’s no there there.’”
  6. Trump also tweeted, “Dan Henninger of the WSJ said Memos would show that this would be one of the weakest obstruction cases ever brought!”
  7. The Trump regime is challenging Native Americans’ historic standing, saying the tribes are a race rather than a separate government, and therefore should not be exempt from Medicaid work requirements.
  8. New York City police searched for man wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat and t-shirt who made derogatory statements to a 24-year-old Hispanic man and then physically assaulted him on a Manhattan subway.
  9. The co-owner of Grandview Golf Club in Pennsylvania and his son called the police to complain that a group of black women were playing too slowly and refused to leave the course.
  10. The five women golfers, who call themselves Sisters in the Fairway, have been around for over a decade, have golfed around the country and world, and are very familiar with golf etiquette. The golf club apologized.
  11. A senior at Riverview High School in Sarasota, Florida asked a girl to the prom by holding up a sign which read, “If I was black I’d be picking cotton, but I’m white so I’m picking u 4 Prom?”
  12. A newly released report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) found the Trump regime has shown an “unprecedented level of government hostility” towards Muslims.
  13. Of the nearly 2,599 reports of anti-Muslim incidents CAIR received, about 35% involved a government agency. Customs and Border Patrol accounted for 348 of the reported incidents (38% of government agency reports).
  14. On Tuesday, a DC federal judge called the Trump regime’s decision to end the DACA program “virtually unexplained” and therefore “unlawful,” becoming the third judge to rule against the regime’s decision to rescind DACA.
  15. The judge found the decision to phase out the program starting in March “was arbitrary and capricious.” The judge ordered the Trump regime to continue the Obama-era program and re-open it to new applicants.
  16. On Friday, Oklahoma’s House of Representatives approved a measure that would allow adoption and foster care agencies to reject same-sex couples on religious grounds.
  17. A new in-depth study released by University of Pennsylvania political scientist Diana Mutz examining data from 2012 to 2016 revealed agrowing body of evidence that the 2016 election was not about economic hardship.
  18. Mutz found “dominant groups that felt threatened by change” voted for Trump and he took advantage of the trend. Mutz noted “For the first time since Europeans arrived in this country,” white Americans are told they will become the minority race.
  19. BuzzFeed reported a TV-station owned by Sinclair Broadcasting fired reporter Suri Crowe after she clashed with station management over refusing to seed doubt about man-made climate change.
  20. Politico reported US colleges are blaming Trump’s immigration policies as for a second year, fewer international students are applying, while countries such as Australia, Canada, Spain and Japan are seeing a spike.
  21. Intercept reported the US Border Patrol has faked statistics to make it appear there was a dramatic increase in assault on agents, up 73% from 2016 to 2017, when in reality, the number of assaults was down.
  22. The Border Patrol has made up cases, like the death of Agent Rogelio Martinez which the FBI ruled was death caused by a fall. The calculation methodology has also changed, so each attack is multiplied agents by number of attacks by number of objects.
  23. On Saturday, NYT reported contrary to Scott Pruitt’s previous statements, he did meet with J. Steven Hart, co-owner of the condominium he rented. The meeting was set up on behalf of an executive associated with Smithfield Foods in 2017.
  24. On Saturday, NYT reported Pruitt’s fancy Oklahoma City home, worth well more than his modest salary could afford, was purchased alongside law school friend, Kenneth Wagner, who now has a top political job at the EPA.
  25. Mortgage financing for the home was provided by a local bank led byAlbert Kelly, another business associate of Pruitt. Kelly is now a top aide to Pruitt in the EPA, and runs the agency’s Superfund program.
  26. A school in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where Betsy DeVos suggested teachers needed to be armed to protect children from grizzly bears, voted to arm school employees,who would need at least 24 hours of initial firearms training.
  27. ProPublica reported Devos’ Education Department is considering rolling back Obama-era guidelines which address racial discrimination in school discipline: black students are almost four times as likely to receive an out-of-school suspension.
  28. Devos’ department has already closed 65 discrimination cases without any mandated reform. Hans Bader, an attorney adviser to DeVos, has accused the Obama administration of using disparate impact to create “racial quotas.”
  29. On Tuesday, Pruitt’s EPA proposed a rule that would limit the kinds of scientific research it can use in crafting regulations. The rule would exclude research based on confidential medical and industry data.
  30. Pruitt claimed the measure was a way to boost transparency for the industries the EPA regulates. Experts say the rule is a boon to big business which has long requested this change.
  31. On Tuesday, Mick Mulvaney, director of the OMB and acting director of the CFPB, told 1,300 bankers at an American Bankers Association conference in Washington that when he was in Congress, he would only meet with lobbyists who had contributed to his campaign.
  32. Mulvaney also told the bankers about his plans to reduce the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s power, including cutting public access to the bureau’s database of consumer complaints.
  33. On Wednesday, HUD Secretary Ben Carson proposed far-reaching changes to federal housing subsidies aimed at low-income Americans receiving federal assistance.
  34. Carson’s proposal, part of what the regime has dubbed “Welfare Reform 2.0,” would triple rent for the poorest households and make it easier for housing authorities to impose work requirements.
  35. HuffPost obtained a draft copy of Jeff Session’s Justice Department’s five-year strategic plan which includes cracking down on undocumented immigrants and security leaks, focusing on campus speech issues, and targeting the MS-13 gang.
  36. Absent from Sessions’ DOJ strategic plan were items focused on during the Obama administration, including civil rights enforcement and criminal justice reform.
  37. According to annual data published Wednesday by US Courts, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court denied more surveillance orders during Trump’s first year than in the court’s 40-year history.
  38. On Sunday, Axios reported there is increasing concern in the White House that Ronny Jackson, Trump nominee for VA secretary, will not get confirmed. Jackson faces skepticism from senators of both parties.
  39. On Monday, when asked about Mike Pompeo’s nomination, press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News that “Democrats have to decide whether they love this country more than they hate” Trump.
  40. On Monday, in a letter to the Senate, 109 retired generals and admirals said they were “deeply troubled” by Trump’s pick of Gina Haspel for CIA director, citing her links to a former US torture program.
  41. On Monday, Trump expressed frustration over the confirmation of his nominees, tweeting “Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against” Pompeo, adding, “The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people.”
  42. Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, has also been held up as Democrats, citing his history of misogynistic statements online and his dismissiveness about Russia meddling in the US election.
  43. Trump nominee Stuart Kyle Duncan was confirmed to the US Fifth Circuit Court, 50–47. Duncan has a disturbing record of anti-LGBTQ advocacy, and has fought his entire career against abortion and voting rights.
  44. On Tuesday, allegations against Jackson publicly surfaced, including drinking while on duty, creating a hostile workplace, and improperlyhanding out prescriptions to staff during trips.
  45. On Tuesday, at a joint news conference with French President Macron,Trump suggested Jackson should drop out, “I said to Dr. Jackson, what do you need it for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians? . . . If I was him . . . I wouldn’t do it.”
  46. On Tuesday, Sen. Jon Tester, ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, told NPR that 20 active duty or former military members had come forward with allegations against Jackson.
  47. On Tuesday, CNN reported that during an overseas trip in 2015, when Jackson was the White House physician, he was intoxicated and banged on the hotel room door of a female employee.
  48. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Jackson has grown frustrated and told colleagues he may withdraw. Later that day, Democrats released a document summarizing interviews of 23 of Jackson’s current and former colleagues alleging professional misconduct.
  49. The reported cites Jackson provided “a large supply” of Percocet to a White House military official that left his staff scrambling to account for the missing drugs, and that Jackson got intoxicated and “wrecked a government vehicle.” Jackson denied all allegations.
  50. On Thursday, Washington Examiner reported more than a half-dozen veterans groups expressed frustration, saying they were never contactedby the White House or VA officials in the lead up to Jackson’s nomination.
31164052_764029633790059_4694318350229045248_o
Photo by Paul Hehn in Portland, Oregon this week.
  1. On Thursday, Jackson withdrew from consideration for VA nominee, thanking Trump and saying in a statement, “ I did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity.”
  2. On Thursday, Pruitt testified before two House committees about controversial spending and management decisions while heading the EPA.Pruitt accused critics of attacking him in order to derail Trump’s agenda.
  3. Pruitt defended himself on spending, claiming “I was not aware of the amount,” and “I was not aware of the approval,” and said there was “no truth” to charges of retaliation and didn’t recall related conversations.
  4. Pruitt told Congress allegations against him are “fiction,” “lies,” and “half-truths.” He is the subject of at least five investigations into his conduct by agency watchdogs.
  5. On Thursday, after the hearing, California’s AG Xavier Becerra said Pruitt violated impartiality requirements in the rulemaking process over his refusal to recuse himself from the process of repealing a landmark power plant rule.
  6. In his previous job as Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA more than a dozen times to block the Clean Power Plan. Eight other states and the District of Columbia joined Becerra in his letter.
  7. Bryan Rice resigned just six months after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appointed him to lead the Bureau of Indian Affairs, following a negative inspector general report on the reassignment of dozens of senior staff.
  8. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is part of the Interior Department and has8,000 employees and a $2.5 billion annual budget, and handles government relations with more than 500 federally-recognized tribes.
  9. On Thursday, WAPO reported a timeline provided by the FBI to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee revealed Don McGahn first received “derogatory information” about Rob Porter in March 2017.
  10. McGahn has said he was not aware of allegations against Porter until just before they became public, which happened in February 2018. The White House has given shifting stories about what they knew and when.
  11. Also at his joint news conference with Macron Tuesday, Trump brushed a speck of dandruff off Macron’s shoulder, remarking he needed to look “perfect.” Trump also said the US special relationship with France is not “fake news.”
  12. On Wednesday, Macron addressed a joint meeting of the US Congress.Macron criticized Trump’s isolationist principles, and said the US participation in the global community is vital.
  13. Macron was critical of Trump’s opposition to the Paris climate accord — calling for the US to “make our planet great again,” and said Trump’s attacks on international trade agreements was short-sighted.
  14. Macron got a standing ovation when he said we must “protect our democracies” against “the ever-growing virus of fake news, which exposes our people to irrational fear and imaginary risks.”
  15. On Monday, Robert Mueller’s team defended the search of Paul Manafort’s storage locker, stating prosecutors had the cooperation of an assistant to Manafort, Alexander Trusko, to gain access before the court-ordered search.
  16. CNN reported Trump has been ramping up usage of his personal cell phone to contact outside adviser recently. Sources said that Trump has also used his cell phone for direct outreach to GOP lawmakers.
  17. Experts say Trump’s cell phone usage makes his communications vulnerable to eavesdropping from foreign governments. Also, Trump’s private calls will not be captured for government accountability and history.
  18. Sources say Trump’s cell phone use is also an indication of John Kelly’s waning influence. Corey Lewandowski reportedly bragged of unfettered access, and John Bolton and Larry Kudlow are direct reports to Trump, bypassing Kelly.
  19. On Monday, Bloomberg reported that despite the excuse Trump gave to James Comey, per the Comey memos, that he never spent an overnight in Russia as denial for salacious reports in the dossier about his trip to the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. This is not true.
  20. Flight records obtained, combined with Trump’s social-media posts, show Trump’s jet landed on a Friday, and left pre-dawn on Sunday. Vnukovo airport, where Trump landed, is less than an hour from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
  21. On Tuesday, Daily Beast reported that Thomas Roberts, a former NBC anchor and host of the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, confirmed that Trump did stay overnight in Moscow.
  22. On Thursday, Trump denied he told Comey that he didn’t stay overnight in Moscow, telling “Fox & Friends,” “Of course I stayed there.” Trump added Comey “ didn’t write those memos accurately. He put a lot of phony stuff.”
  23. On Tuesday, TPM reported Comey brought on former US attorney Pat Fitzgerald to represent him as a potential witness in the Mueller probe. Fitzgerald told TPM he has been representing Comey since 2017.
  24. In 2003, when Comey was deputy attorney general, he selected Fitzgerald to run the special counsel to investigate Scooter Libby for disclosure of a CIA employee’s identity. In Week 74, Trump pardoned Libby.
  25. On Tuesday, Christopher Wylie, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, provided a closed-door briefing to the House Judiciary Committee on how the company obtained data on tens of millions of Facebook users.
  26. Not a single Republican on the committee attended the briefing. Wylie told reporters after that he hopes Congress will investigate whether the company, which worked for the Trump campaign, broke US law.
  27. Rev. Patrick Conroy, the 60th Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives, said in a letter that he was fired by Speaker Paul Ryan because of a prayer he offered about the GOP tax bill.
  28. In his speech, Rev. Conroy told House members to “be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle.”
  29. Rev. Conroy told the NYT, “A staffer came down and said, We are upset with this prayer; you are getting too political.” Representatives of both sides expressed outrage about the firing.
  30. In a special election Tuesday, the GOP won an open Congressional seat in Arizona by just 6 points after winning the seat by 37 points in 2016. Thisfollows a trend of Republicans losing support since Trump took office.
  31. On Wednesday, former Sen. Harry Reid broke his silence in an interview with NBC News, saying he is worried US institutions have been “decimated” under Trump, and blaming Republicans for being lax on Russian meddling.
  32. Reid said Trump, Comey, and the Koch brothers are all responsible for the American people not knowing earlier about Russian interference in the US election. Reid said Republicans are scared of the Koch brothers.
  33. On Wednesday, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Sheldon Whitehouse asked eight banks, including Deutsche Bank, for details about accounts, assets or services the banks provided to any of the 96 Russian oligarchs identified by the Treasury Department to have ties to Putin.
  34. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Rudy Giuliani met with Mueller Tuesday to reopen negotiations on the special counsel interviewing Trump. Giuliani conveyed the ongoing resistance of Trump and his advisers to an interview.
  35. Giuliani pressed for clarity on when the probe would wrap up. Mueller reportedly said he is seeking to question Trump about steps he took during the transition and early months of his regime
  36. Vanity Fair reported that, according to sources, Giuliani was the best Trump could do given all better-qualified white-collar defense lawyers who said no. Trump views Giuliani as a marquee name and a vocal advocate.
  37. Trump’s former lead lawyer, John Dowd, said of Giuliani, “I haven’t talked to him yet…I’m not aware of him ever defending a case.” Sources also noted Giuliani was formerly the AG of the Southern District of New York, the jurisdiction where Michael Cohen’s case is being tried.
  38. Mueller also reiterated that an interview is essential for investigators to understand Trump’s intent in making key decisions as they seek to wrap up their investigation of possible obstruction of justice.
  39. On Wednesday, CNN reported dozens of the Russian diplomats expelled last month were suspected spies, believed to have been tracking Russian defectors and their families who had resettled in the US.
  40. That and other US intelligence has raised concerns that Russia was seeking to target Russian émigrés viewed as traitors or enemies of the Kremlin, similar to the former Russian spy and his daughter in the UK.
  41. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 14–7 to advance legislation that would protect Mueller. Committee chair Chuck Grassley said he is working to change Mitch McConnell’s position of not bringing a bill to the floor.
  42. The committee’s legislation would delay any action to fire a special counsel by 10 days, and guarantee the ousted special counsel a chance to have three federal judges swiftly review the decision.
  43. Grassley added an amendment which was adopted by the panel which would require that Congress be notified 30 days in advance of any special counsel being terminated. Four Republicans voted along with Democrats.
  44. On Thursday, a House Judiciary Committee hearing headlined by pro-Trump video-bloggers Diamond and Silk, Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, devolved into yelling and partisan bickering, with the two claiming, “We’ve been censored.”
  45. On Thursday, hours before the hearing on his “Fox & Friends” interview,Trump praised Diamond and Silk as “amazing … beautiful, wonderful women,” and called them “warriors.”
  46. The two said under oath that they weren’t paid. FEC filings reveal the Trump campaign paid the duo $1,275 on November 22, 2016. Richardson called the figures “fake news.”
  47. On Friday, a federal court in Washington threw out a civil lawsuit by Manafort which challenged Mueller’s authority in the Russia investigation. Manafort’s attorneys also filed lawsuits to dismiss two criminal cases against him.
  48. On Friday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a250 page-long report on its findings. Partisan bickering led to a total breakdown of the committee, as Devin Nunes re-seized control after being recused months prior.
  49. While the majority report is critical of Russia for meddling in the election, the report questions the Intelligence Committee’s conclusion that the Kremlin wanted Trump to win.
  50. The majority report also accuses the FBI of “significant intelligence tradecraft failings,” echoing charges by Trump that the bureau is inept, biased, and corrupt. The report is also full of strange redactions.
  51. The majority report downplays the outreach of Alexander Nix, then CEO of Cambridge Analytica, to Wikileaks, but found the Trump campaign’s outreach, “highly objectionable and inconsistent with U.S. national security interests.”
  52. Among the revelation in the majority report are that Michael Flynn and his son went to the home of Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak for a private meeting before traveling to Russia in 2015 for a dinner hosted by RT.
  53. The majority report said none of the evidence from testimony pointed to collusion. Democrats cited the uncooperative central witnesses who were not called to task, as well as the 30 plus witnesses they were unable to call.
  54. Trump immediately praised the report, tweeting, “Just Out:…“No evidence” that the Trump Campaign “colluded, coordinated or conspired with Russia.” Clinton Campaign paid for Opposition Research obtained from Russia- Wow! A total Witch Hunt! MUST END NOW!”
  55. On Friday, the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released a report called “Minority View,” citing, “the Committee’s Majority has shattered its commitment by rushing to end its investigation prematurely.”
  56. The Democrat’s report also claims Republicans “failed to meet the mandate given to the HPSCI” and “engaged in a systematic effort to muddy the waters, and to deflect attention” away from Trump.
  57. Among the revelations in the minority report is that the Agalarovs and Trumps have a relationship dating back to 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and were in regular contact before and after the Trump Tower meeting.
  58. The minority report also points to a strong possibility that Trump himself was communicating with Donald Jr. as he worked to schedule the June 9 Trump Tower meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya.
  59. On Friday, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said House Democrats will continue to investigate alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
  60. On Friday, in an interview with NBC News, Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya acknowledged she was not just a private lawyer, but also a source of information for top Kremlin official, Yuri Chaika, the prosecutor general.
  61. Veselnitskaya has maintained until now that she met with Donald Jr., Jared Kushner, and Manafort on June 9 at Trump Tower in a private capacity, not as a representative of the Russian government.
  62. On Friday, as Trump met with German Chancellor Merkel in the Oval Office, he told reporters, “No collusion…No coordination, no nothing,” adding he was “very honored by the report. It was totally conclusive. Strong. Powerful.”
  63. Trump did remember to shake Merkel’s hand this year, telling reporters, “we actually have had a great relationship right from the beginning,” adding later, “We need a reciprocal relationship, which we don’t have.”
  64. At a joint news conference, Merkel looked perplexed as Trump rambled on about the withdrawal of Ronny Jackson, saying Washington DC can be a “very mean place” and people an be fired “as fast as they fire people in Germany.”
  65. Late Friday evening, Trump again tweeted about the report, after deleting a tweet with a misspelling, calling the investigation a “big Hoax” and “Witch Hunt,” and saying “There should never have been a Special Counsel appointed.”
  66. On Friday, CNN reported the NRA is gathering up documents related to its interactions with the Kremlin-linked banker Alexander Torshin ahead of a possible Congressional investigation.
  67. On Wednesday, Cohen invoked his Fifth Amendment right in federal court in a lawsuit brought by Stephanie Clifford, citing an “ongoing criminal investigation” by the FBI and US Attorney for the SDNY.
  68. In letters to the court filed Wednesday, lawyers for Cohen, Trump, and the Trump Organization asked to review documents seized from Cohen in the FBI raid, adding Trump himself would be available for the review process.
  69. On Thursday, US District Judge Kimba Wood appointed Barbara Jones as special-master to review materials seized from Cohen and determine if they include confidential communications between him and his legal clients, including Trump.
  70. Jones served as a federal judge for 16 years in the SDNY, and was the first woman to lead a federal organized crime task force.
IMG_1943
By Teachr1 in Los Angeles, CA – April 7, 2018
  1. On Thursday, New York Post reported feds seized as many as 16 cell phones in the raid of Cohen’s office and hotel room, including two BlackBerrys, suggesting Cohen has been holding on to his devices for many years.
  2. On Thursday, WSJ reported on the relationship between Cohen and Trump, and how hurt Cohen was about Trump leaving him behind in New York after moving to the White House.
  3. Cohen believed he would get a key role, either as a campaign manager after Manafort left, or as chief of staff after Reince Priebus departed. Cohen reportedly told Trump, “Boss, I miss you so much.”
  4. Trump reportedly said of why he didn’t bring Cohen to Washington DC,he’s like a “bull in a china shop,” who when brought in to fix a problem sometimes breaks more china.
  5. Trump has been mean to Cohen in the past, including showing up late for Cohen’s son’s bar mitzvah speech and telling guests he only came after Cohen had repeatedly called him, his secretary, and his children begging him to appear.
  6. Cohen was even kept on the outside at Trump’s inauguration festivities: he and his guests were not given priority access, and Cohen was very hurt. Questions remain as to whether Cohen will remain loyal to Trump.
  7. Since the FBI raid, Cohen has been frequently been seen out on the town at fancy restaurants with friends, smoking cigars, which may be interpreted as an attempt to show he is not frightened by the investigation.
  8. WSJ also reported that privately Cohen has begun complaining to associates, both about being left in New York and about Trump’s failure to repay him for the $130,000 he had drawn off his home-equity line to pay Clifford.
  9. On Thursday, in a rambling 30-minute interview with “Fox & Friends,”Trump said Cohen represented him in silencing Stephanie Clifford: “Michael represents me, like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me,”
  10. In Week 73, Trump denied any knowledge of the $130,000 payment to Clifford arranged by Cohen. Trump’s White House has denied allegations that Trump had an affair with Clifford.
  11. Trump also tried to distance himself from Cohen, saying, “This doesn’t have to do with me. Michael is a businessman…I would say, probably, the big thing is his business. I have nothing to do with his business.”
  12. Trump further tried to distance himself from Cohen, saying “I have so many attorneys you wouldn’t believe,” adding his legal work using Cohen was, “As a percentage of my overall legal work, a tiny, tiny fraction.”
  13. When asked about his alleged ties to Russia on “Fox & Friends,” Trump said he was “very disappointed in my Justice Department,” adding “ I have decided I won’t be involved. I may change my mind at some point.”
  14. Trump threatened the FBI, “You look at the corruption at the top of the FBI, it’s a disgrace, and our Justice Department — which I try to stay away from, but at some point, I won’t,” adding That’s not the FBI. That’s a fix.”
  15. Trump said, “the special counsel — and by the way, and Intelligence Committee and everybody else has found no collusion.” Trump added thatthe Russia investigation is like a “cloud over my head.”
  16. On Thursday, Sessions, who is recused from the Russia investigation, criticized how long Mueller is taking, saying, “This thing needs to conclude.”
  17. Trump also attacked Sen. Tester on “Fox & Friends” over his passing along concerns of whistleblowers on Jackson, “I want to tell you that Jon Tester — I think this is going to cause him a lot of problems in his state.”
  18. Trump said of Comey, “I did a great thing for the American people by firing him,” adding, “Those memos were about me and they’re phony memos. He didn’t write those memos accurately. He put a lot of phony stuff.”
  19. Trump also repeated his lie about the election, “The Electoral College is set up perfectly for the Democrats and this was an absolute total beating in the Electoral College.” And to rate himself: “I would give myself an A+.”
  20. On Friday, the judge in the Stephanie Clifford’ lawsuit against Trumpagreed to delay the case by three months as requested by Cohen, citing a criminal investigation Cohen is facing.
  21. On Thursday, another cache of text messages between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were released to Congress. The cache included messages from December 2016 to May 2017, which were originally thought to be missing.
  22. The messages express dismay over Comey’s firing, and discuss the prospect of working for Mueller. There is also a cryptic text from May: “”We need to open the case we’ve been waiting on now while Andy is acting.”
  23. Page called Trump an “idiot” and “a douche,” among other insults, but also sent insulting texts about Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, and Bernie Sanders. There was no evidence of the “secret society” alleged by Sen. Ron Johnson.
  24. Early Friday morning, Trump again attacked Comey, tweeting, “He illegally leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION,” adding, “He lied all over the place to cover it up. He’s either very sick or very dumb.”
  25. A Pew Research study found the longstanding partisan gap over compromise has disappeared: 46% of Democrats believe elected officials should compromise, down from 69% in 2017 (Republicans at 44%).
  26. Several Republicans embroiled in tough primaries are using Trump’s tactics, using phrases like “drain the swamp,” “build the wall,” and “fake news,” and calling for the jailing of Hillary Clinton and Comey.
  27. A new Quinnipiac poll found 53% believe the Russian government has compromising information about Trump, 35% do not. Only Republicans and white men don’t believe this.
  28. The poll also found 74% say Trump should not fire Mueller (13% disagree), and that 37% of Republican voters say the news media is “an important part of democracy, while 51% says it’s “the enemy of the people.”
  29. On Friday, influential conservative website RedState fired a handful of prominent writers, all of whom were anti-Trump voices.
IMG_9971
Brooklyn, New York – February 2018
IMG_9263
Jacksonville, Florida – February 2018

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 75: “GRAB ‘EM BY THE PUTHY !”

Week 74 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

April 14, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-74-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-d1b245a5a811

This week, Trump became angry and stormy after the office and hotel room of his longtime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen were raided by the FBI. The country stood on edge as Trump threatened to fire Mueller, Sessions, and Rosenstein. Other than a few hollow warnings, Republicans in leadership did nothing by way of passing legislation or any other measures to block Trump from taking steps to dull or end the Mueller probe. And as Speaker Paul Ryan became the latest Republican leader to announce he will not seek re-election in November, increasingly it appears the party will abdicate its responsibility to counter Trump.

In a week without any real focus, policy, or direction, Trump careened on trade and on Syria. After spending much of week attacking and discrediting institutions and familiar targets like Obama, Hillary, McCabe, and Comey, Trump ended the week late Friday by addressing the nation on a US missile attack on Syria, which, unlike a year ago, will be an open-ended military engagement. With a non-functioning and unstaffed State Department, many senior national security roles vacated, and disagreement voiced by Secretary Mattis, the decision to strike — as with most decisions in recent weeks — was made by one man.

IMG_1254
LA-legend/stencil artist, https://www.instagram.com/teachr1/ ~ 7apr18 on Melrose in Los Angeles.
  1. Late Saturday, a fire broke out at Trump Tower on the 50th floor, leaving one dead and four New York City firefighters injured. This is the second fire in the sprinkler-free residential tower in 2018.
  2. Trump tweeted “Very confined (well built building). Firemen (and women) did a great job,” but failed to acknowledge the death in his building. Trump was one of the developers in the late 1990s who lobbied against requiring sprinklers in buildings.
  3. Late Saturday, Trump again defended Scott Pruitt and his security spending, tweeting Pruitt “received death threats because of his bold actions at EPA,” adding “Scott is doing a great job!”
  4. Also on Saturday, Trump attacked the Justice Department and FBI of slow-walking documents “relating to FISA abuse, FBI, Comey, Lynch, McCabe, Clinton Emails and much more,” tweeting what do they “have to hide?”
  5. WAPO reported on repeated clashes between Trump and chief of staff John Kelly, and Kelly’s downward arc of influence in the White House. Kelly’s credibility has also suffered amid misstatements, including his handling of the Rob Porter scandal.
  6. Kelly has instituted “Policy Time” sessions once or twice a day where advisers would address Trump on specific issues and bi-monthly cabinet meetings. Kelly’s efforts to create an atmosphere of discipline clashed with Trump’s freewheeling impulses.
  7. Reportedly, Kelly has threatened to resign multiple times — one senior White House official jokingly called it “a weekly event.” Trump has told friends recently he likes rallies where he can escape Kelly’s shackles.
  8. On Sunday, Trump attacked The Washington Post on Twitter, calling the paper “far more fiction than fact,” and saying the story on Kelly “is made up garbage.”
  9. On Sunday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro echoed Trump on “Meet the Press,” calling The Washington Post “fake news most of the time.”
  10. On Sunday, NYT Executive Editor Dean Baquet told CNN that Trump’s rhetoric against the media is “out of control” adding, “his advisers should tell him to stop.”
  11. On Saturday, Syrian activist groups reported Assad’s regime used chemical weapons on the rebel-held city of Douma. At least 25 were killed and 500 wounded. In Week 73, Trump said he would withdraw troops from Syria.
  12. On Monday, Trump signed an executive order calling for enforcing work requirements for the poor, and directing agencies to consider adding work requirements to government aid programs that lack them.
  13. On Tuesday, Trump’s Justice Department announced it would halt a program that offers legal assistance to detained foreign nationals facing deportation as it audits the program’s cost-effectiveness.
  14. Last year, the Vera Institute of Justice held information sessions for 53,000 immigrants in more than a dozen states. The federal government will also evaluate Vera’s “help desk,” which offers tips to non-detained immigrants.
  15. On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown of California heeded Trump’s call to send the National Guard to the Mexico border, but said his 400 troops will have nothing to do with immigration enforcement.
  16. Jamie Allman, who hosted a nightly show on the Sinclair-owned ABC affiliate in St. Louis, was fired and his show canceled after he sent a vulgar tweet threatening to sexually assault Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg.
  17. Brennan Walker, a 14 year-old black teen in Rochester Hills, Michigan who missed his school bus and stopped at a neighbor’s house while walking to school to ask for directions, was shot by homeowner Jeffrey Ziegler, whose wife initially answered the door and yelled at Walker.
  18. Ximena Barreto, a Trump appointee to deputy communications director at the Department of Health and Human Services, shared an image in 2017 that said “our forefathers would have hung” Obama and Clinton for treason. Barreto was suspended earlier this week for insulting Islam and spreading conspiracy theories.
  19. AP reported in the 135 days since Mick Mulvaney took over as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency has not recorded a single enforcement action against banks, credit card companies, debt collectors, or finance companies.
  20. Politico reported that the EPA fired Mario Caraballo, a career staffer who approved an internal report undermining Pruitt’s claims he needed around-the-clock bodyguards and other expensive security protection.
IMG_1072
Expo Park in Los Angeles, CA – March 2018
  1. NYT reported Kevin Chmielewski, the former EPA deputy chief of staff,told lawmakers Pruitt insisted on staying at luxury hotels costlier than allowed and flying airlines not on the government approved list to get frequent flyer miles.
  2. Chmielewski also told lawmakers Pruitt often scheduled trips back to Oklahoma so he could stay for the weekend, and if he wanted to travel somewhere, told his staff to“find me something to do,” to justify travel.
  3. ABC News reported almost 30 senior employees at the Interior Department said they were reassigned last year, and some have formally complained it was in retaliation for their work on issues like climate change.
  4. On Thursday, the Senate approved Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist whose clients include Murray Energy, as the EPA’s deputy administrator, the agency’s №2 official. Democrats complained of Wheeler’s efforts to block regulations that protect Americans’ health and climate change.
  5. AP reported Wheeler accompanied Murray CEO Robert Murray to a series of closed-door meetings to lobby the Trump regime to kill environmental regulations affecting coal mines.
  6. Guardian reported Sinclair-TV chairman David Smith met with Trump at the White House. Smith claimed the meeting was to pitch a new product: chips for cell phones and other devices that can receive transmissions.
  7. On Wednesday, Wendy Vitter, Trump’s nominee for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, refused to answer whether Brown v. the Board of Education was correctly decided at her confirmation hearing.
  8. On Monday, La Prensa reported Trump Panama Hotel Management has pressured the Panamanian government to step in to its dispute with Orestes Fintiklis over control of the hotel formerly named after Trump.
  9. In Week 69, a Panamanian court ruled for Fintiklis, and Trump’s name was removed. The US Embassy in Panama said that “matters related to the Trump Organization are sent directly to the White House.”
  10. ProPublica reported the Trump Organization has filed at least nine new lawsuits against municipalities alleging Trump’s properties are worth far less than he claims, and therefore they owe much less in taxes.
  11. This marks the first time a US leader has been in legal battles with local governments. Experts say it creates a “dangerous precedent” because local governments rely on the federal government for resources.
  12. On Thursday, following his frequent attacks on Amazon, Trump issued an executive order forming a task force to be chaired by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to evaluate the Postal Service’s finances and operations.
  13. Denver Post reported Centennial Coalition, a Republican “dark money” nonprofit in Colorado, hired Cambridge Analytica to help the party win the state Senate in 2014. Centennial used targeted abortion mailers.
  14. Concerned Citizens for Colorado, controlled by Senate Republican leaderBill Cadman, also hired the company in 2014 and 2015. Concerned Citizens sent $100,000 to the Centennial Coalition in 2014.
  15. On Monday, in a morning tweet, Trump attacked “STUPID TRADE” with China. Later at a Cabinet meeting, Trump assured farmers, who have been targeted by China’s tariffs, that they “will be better off than they ever were” under Obama.
  16. The Trump regime is considering using a Depression-era program, the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) created in 1933, to bail out farmerscaught in his trade war with China.
  17. The CCC can borrow up to $30 billion from the Treasury Department and extend that money to farm groups. Republican lawmakers have told the regime the approach will not provide the needed relief to farmers.
  18. On Thursday, Trump told a gathering of farm-state lawmakers and governors that he is looking into rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal he pulled the US out of days after he took office.
  19. Politico reported Paul Manafort’s lawyers filed a motion to suppress evidence found in a storage unit, arguing entry was illegal because the storage unit employee did not not have authority to let the FBI into the locker.
  20. The May 27 search warrant for the storage locker authorized FBI agents to seize financial or tax records relating to Manafort, Rick Gates, or former Ukrainian President Yanukovych. Manafort’s lawyers argue the warrant was overbroad.
IMG_1282
A sobering message on Melrose in Los Angeles, CA – 7apr18
  1. Daily Beast reported according to court documents, one of Manafort’s associates led an FBI agent to a storage locker filled with paperwork on Manafort’s businesses and finances. The name is redacted from the filings.
  2. On Monday, NYT reported the FBI raided Michael Cohen’s Rockefeller Center office and hotel room, seizing business records, emails, and documents related to several topics, including the payment to Stephanie Clifford.
  3. The Southern District of New York prosecutors obtained a search warrant after having the case referred to them by Mueller. To obtain a search warrant, prosecutors must convince a federal judge they are likely to discover evidence of criminal activity.
  4. On Monday, WAPO reported Cohen is being investigated for bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations. The FBI took Cohen’s computer, phone and personal financial records, including tax returns.
  5. Search requests indicate prosecutors’ interest in possible violations of election law by Cohen. As the acting attorney general supervising Mueller’s work, Rod Rosenstein would have determined if the topic needed to be referred.
  6. On Monday, WSJ reported the probe is being conducted out of the FBI’spublic-corruption unit. Investigators would have had to receive high-level approval to seize documents of a personal lawyer because of sensitivities around attorney-client privilege.
  7. Trump spoke to the press at the White House before meeting with senior military commanders on Syria, calling the raid a “disgraceful situation,” an “attack on our country in a true sense” and “a total witch hunt.”
  8. Trump said they “they broke into” Cohen’s office, who he said is a “good man.” Asked if he will fire Mueller, Trump said “We’ll see what happens,” adding “And many people have said, “You should fire him.””
  9. Trump again complained about Sessions recusing himself, saying Sessions made a “terrible decision” and “what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country,” adding he would have chosen another person if he had known.
  10. On Tuesday, Trump continued his attack on the raid, tweeting “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!” and “Attorney–client privilege is dead!” There are exceptions to attorney-client privilege for crime or fraud, past or future.
  11. On Monday, NYT reported Mueller is investigating a $150,000 donation from Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk to the Donald Trump Foundation in September 2015 for a 20-minute appearance through a video link to a conference in Kiev. Cohen solicited the donation.
  12. Records on the payment came as Mueller’s team subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents, emails, and other communications about several Russians, including names not publicly tied to Trump.
  13. On Tuesday, WSJ reported that in connection with the raids, federal prosecutors asked the Trump Organization for its records relating to the $130,000 payment to Clifford.
  14. WSJ reported the search warrant also sought information on the $150,000 payment by AMI, publisher of National Enquirer, to Karen McDougal, as well as information on Cohen’s associates in the taxi industry.
  15. On Tuesday, NBC News reported Stephanie Clifford is cooperating with federal investigators in their probe of Cohen.
  16. On Tuesday, NYT reported Trump considered firing Mueller in December 2017 after hearing news that the special counsel obtained subpoenas targeted Trump’s and his family’s banking records at Deutsche Bank.
  17. Trump’s lawyers and advisers worked quickly to learn that report was false, and Trump backed off. Trump has openly discussed ways to shut down the probe, but lawyers and advisers have convinced him this would only exacerbate his problems.
  18. On Tuesday, Rachel Maddow reported Dana Boente, the former acting Attorney General, has been asked to be interviewed by Mueller’s team in the Russia investigation.
  19. Maddow also revealed handwritten notes, allegedly by Boente about his conversation with Comey, which would be the first contemporaneous evidence of what Comey told colleagues about his conversations with Trump.
  20. On Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Sanders said a press briefing that Trump could fire Mueller, “He certainly believes that he has the power to do so,” adding Trump believes Mueller has “gone too far.”
  21. On Tuesday, NYT reported on Trump’s mood the day after the raids on Cohen’s office and hotel room, reporting he was “brooding and fearful” and according to two people close to the West Wing near a “meltdown.”
  22. Aides said they felt “anxious” Tuesday that Trump might use the raid as a pretext to fire Mueller. Trump reportedly said the raids were proof that Mueller was out to get him.
  23. Over the weekend, Trump engaged in few activities, and after watching Fox News reports that the deep state was looking to sink him, he came unglued and said he wanted to fire Sessions, Rosenstein, and Mueller.
  24. On Tuesday, CNN reported Trump is considering firing Rosenstein as a way to put greater limits on Mueller. Trump is also weighing firing Sessionswhom he feels has not done enough to protect him in the probe.
  25. On Tuesday, Politico reported Trump will host a dinner for Republican leaders at the White House on Wednesday. Reportedly, the dinner was planned before Trump’s attack on Mueller and others on Monday.
IMG_0684
A perfectly placed message on a mannequin in Venice Beach, CA 25mar18
  1. On Tuesday, Trump canceled his trip to attend the Summit of the Americas in Peru, citing the need to oversee the “response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world.”
  2. This marks the first time a US leader has not attended the summit since 1994, and Trump has yet to make a trip to Latin America. Trump’s rhetoric on immigration and protectionism are not well received in the region.
  3. The White House said Vice President Pence will attend in Trump’s stead.Pence’s office advertised he would be attending “a banquet hosted byPresident Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of Peru.” Kuczynski resigned three weeks ago, following a corruption scandal.
  4. On Wednesday, Ivanka told the media that she and Jared are heading to Peru for the summit amid drama at the White House. Ivanka said she would unveil a new economic empowerment program for women of the region.
  5. On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee said it would move forward with legislation to limit Trump’s ability to fire Mueller. Committee chair Chuck Grassley is seeking assent to add it to the committee’s agenda for Thursday.
  6. In a letter responding to Sen. Ron Wyden, the NRA acknowledged to Congress that it has accepted contributions from about 23 Russians, or Americans living in Russia, since 2015, saying most were for membership dues.
  7. The NRA acknowledged that Kremlin-linked Alexander Torshin, placed under US sanctions in Week 73, has been a member of the NRA since 2012, and has paid membership dues but not made any contributions.
  8. On Wednesday, a day after Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee had threatened to impeach FBI director Christopher Wray and Rosenstein, the Justice Department turned over the document that launched the FBI’s Russia investigation in 2016.
  9. On Wednesday, NYT reported that the FBI agents who raided Cohen’s office and hotel room were seeking information about whether he worked with the Trump campaign to suppress negative information about Trump.
  10. The warrant, which was striking in its breadth, allowed prosecutors to gather information, including documents related to the “Access Hollywood” tape, as part of an investigation into whether Cohen’s possible coordination violated campaign finance laws.
  11. The investigation is being run by Robert Khuzami, whose boss, Geoffrey Berman, the interim United States attorney in Manhattan recently appointed by Trump, has recused himself.
  12. On Wednesday, New Yorker reported Dino Sajudin, a Trump Tower doorman, met with a reporter from the National Enquirer in late 2015 and agreed to grant exclusive rights to his information for $30,000.
  13. Sajudin’s story was that Trump may have fathered a child with a former employee in the late 1980’s. The payment from AMI, parent company of the National Enquirer, came five months after Trump launched his presidential campaign.
  14. The story never ran, similar to those of Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal. Two former employees said Cohen was in close contact with the AMI executives at the time reporters were looking into Sajudin’s story.
  15. On Thursday, Sajudin released a statement, which said in part, “I can confirm that while working at Trump World Tower I was instructed not to criticize President Trump’s former housekeeper due to a prior relationship she had with President Trump which produced a child.”
  16. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Steve Bannon has stayed in touch with some members of Trump’s circle, and is now pitching them a plan to help Trump cripple Mueller’s Russia probe.
  17. Bannon’s plan is for Trump to fire Rosenstein, to stop cooperating with Mueller including allowing staff members to be interviewed, and to have Trump protect himself by asserting executive privilege.
  18. Mueller’s team asked a judge in Alexandria, Virginia, to issue 35 sets of subpoenas to witnesses for a trial set to begin on July 10. Mueller asked for blank subpoenas, with names to be added later.
  19. On Friday, NBC News reported Rosenstein invoked the quote Martin Luther “Here I stand,” telling confidants he is prepared to be fired by Trump, and said he had done his job with integrity.
  20. Rosenstein also said in private conversations that he did the right thing in firing Comey in May 2017, saying the American people did not have all the facts that led to his decision to the write the memo.
  21. On Friday, WAPO reported that Trump allies are worried Cohen, who is known to store the conversations using digital files and then replay them for colleagues, may have had recordings seized in the raids Monday.
  22. It is not known if Cohen taped his conversations with Trump, but people familiar say Cohen taped both business and political conversations, with one adding, “It was his standard practice to do it.”
  23. On Friday, lawyers for Cohen and Trump appeared in court seeking to temporarily bar prosecutors from examining records and electronic devices, including two cell phones, seized by the FBI.
  24. The Justice Department’s 22-page motion said Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months by federal prosecutors for his business dealings, and that a grand jury was empaneled.
  25. The motion revealed authorities had searched a number of email accounts used by Cohen, and the results indicate “Cohen is in fact performing little to no legal work, and that zero emails were exchanged” with Trump.”
  26. The motion also revealed prosecutors examined a safe-deposit box used by Cohen, carrying out the search for fear that evidence might be destroyed if they just served him with a subpoena.
  27. After three separate hearings on Friday, US District Court Judge Kimba Wood indicated that she did not have enough information to make a decision. She ordered lawyers, and Cohen personally, back on Monday.
  28. NYT reported Trump sees the inquiry into Cohen as a greater threat to him than the Mueller probe. Reportedly Trump finds himself isolated as he tries to find a new criminal lawyer, and aides are hesitant to advise him for fear of being dragged into the investigation.
  29. According to sources, Trump called Cohen on Friday to “check in.” Depending on what was discussed, the call could be problematic as lawyers typically advise clients against discussing investigations.
  30. Cohen has said he would defend Trump until the end. He has served Trump for more than a decade as a trusted fixer, including during the campaign when he helped with hush scandals.
IMG_0341
“Sin is a disgrace to any people.” Expo Park – Los Angeles, CA. March 2018
  1. Search warrants indicate authorities are interested in Cohen’s unofficial role in the Trump campaign, including demanding all his communication with the campaign, and in particular with Corey Lewandowski and Hope Hicks.
  2. Bloomberg reported Trump’s legal team has an open gap in defending against the Mueller probe: Jay Sekulow, who is in charge of legal strategy and negotiations with Mueller, is an expert in constitutional law, not criminal defense.
  3. On Friday, WSJ reported Cohen negotiated a $1.6 million settlement on behalf of Elliott Broidy, a top Republican fundraiser with ties to Trump, with a former Playboy model who said she was impregnated by Broidy.
  4. Cohen arranged the payments to the woman as part of an agreement with the Los Angeles woman which prohibits her from disclosing her relationship with Broidy. The first payment was due December 1st.
  5. In a statement, Broidy acknowledged the “consensual relationship” adding “I offered to help her financially during this difficult period.” Cohen turned down requests to comment.
  6. On Friday, Broidy resigned as deputy national finance chairman at the Republican National Committee. Steve Wynn had recently also resigned as a deputy national finance chair, but Cohen remains in his position.
  7. On Monday, ProPublica reported Sessions became friendly with Broidy as part of the Trump campaign, and turned to Broidy for advice and recommendations for positions in the Justice Department.
  8. Sessions gave Broidy a private email address — hybart@jeffsessions.com — to send along his picks. As noted in Week 69, Broidy was convicted in 2009 for his role in a major New York state public corruption and bribery case.
  9. On Friday, CNN reported the FBI seized recordings of conversations between Cohen and lawyers for Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal.
  10. Cohen recorded some of his calls with attorney Keith Davidson, who at the time represented both women, but no longer represents either. Cohen contacted Davidson recently and encouraged him to go public with what he knew about his former clients and their agreements.
  11. McDougal alleges in a lawsuit that Cohen has a close relationship with Davidson, and that Davidson was part of a “broad effort to silence and intimidate her and others.”
  12. One source told CNN that Cohen played recordings of conversations he had with political and media figures during the exploratory part of the campaign for Trump and other associates.
  13. On Friday, McClatchy reported Mueller has evidence that Cohen secretly made a trip to Prague months before the presidential election, as described in the Steele dossier.
  14. The dossier cited information from a “Kremlin insider,” who said the Prague meeting was to “sweep it all under the carpet and make sure no connection could be fully established or proven” between the Trump campaign and Russia.
  15. Investigators have traced evidence that Cohen entered the Czech Republic through Germany in August or early September. It is unclear if Mueller’s team has evidence Cohen actually met with Konstantin Kosachev, a Putin ally.
  16. Cohen has vehemently denied that he made a trip to Prague or colluded with Russians during the campaign. Kosachev, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of a body of the Russian legislature, has also denied that he visited Prague.
  17. On Saturday, Cohen tweeted, again denying he has been to Prague, saying he was in LA with his son, and accusing the reporter of “bad reporting, bad information.”
  18. On Monday, Facebook announced it will create an independent commission that partners with academics and researchers to study the effects of social media on democracy and political elections.
  19. On Tuesday, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg testified before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees. Zuckerberg apologized at the opening of the hearing, but this did not appease senators of either party, with Richard Blumenthal saying, “We’ve seen the apology tours before…”
  20. Zuckerberg faced tough questioning from senators of both sides, which between the two committees was almost half the senate. Lawmakers plan to interview other technology companies, including Google and Twitter.
  21. Democratic Sen. Ed Markey plans to introduce a new bill, the CONSENT Act, which would require social media companies and other major web platforms to obtain explicit consent before they share or sell personal data.
  22. The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook violated a 2011 decree over data on 71 million Americans in the hands of Cambridge Analytica. The fine could potentially be huge.
  23. The Guardian reported British and US lawyers plan to file a class action lawsuit against Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, SCL Group Limited, and Global Science Research Limited for misusing the personal data of more than 71 million people.
  24. On Sunday, Trump called out Putin and Russia for the chemical attacks, tweeting, “President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price…” This is the first time Trump has attacked Putin by name.
  25. On Sunday, Michael Anton, Trump’s National Security Council spokesman resigned. Anton was brought in by Flynn, and was one of the sharpest defenders of Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.
  26. On Tuesday, Tom Bossert, Trump’s homeland security adviser, resigned at the request of National Security Adviser John Bolton. Bossert advised Trump on cybersecurity and counterterrorism since the beginning of his regime.
  27. On Tuesday, Nadia Schadlow, deputy national security adviser for strategy, resigned. Schadlow was the third senior national security official to resign or be pushed out with Bolton’s entree to the White House.
  28. On Monday, Yulia Skripal, the daughter of Sergei Skripal, both of whom were poisoned in a nerve gas attack allegedly carried out by Russia in the UK, was discharged from the hospital and taken to a secure location.
  29. On Wednesday, in a series of tweets, Trump warned US airstrikes are coming in Syria, “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’”
  30. In his most direct criticism of Moscow yet, Trump tweeted, “You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” Trump also tweeted, “Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War.”
  31. On Thursday, Trump reversed himself tweeting, “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!”
  32. On Thursday, after Trump’s Twitter threats, Defense Secretary Mattis tried to put the brakes on a possible military strike warning it could escalateinto a wider conflict between Russia, Iran, and the West.
  33. Mattis detailed his concerns in closed-door meetings to Trump’s White House and Trump’s top national security advisers. Mattis also pushed for more evidence that al-Assad was behind the chemical weapons attack.
  34. On Friday night, Trump addressed the nation about his decision to order strikes on Syria. Many pundits drew a comparison to “wag the dog” — creating a crisis to divert attention from a scandal.
  35. Citing al-Assad’s use of chemical weapon against his own people, the US, along with the UK and France, struck Syrian research, storage, and military targets. Trump said earlier in the week, “We are very concerned…this is about humanity.”
  36. Unlike the US missile attack in Syria a year ago, this operation was described by US generals as open-ended; although Mattis was careful to say at a press conference Friday, the missiles were not the opening of a broader campaign.
  37. NPR reported that so far in 2018, the US has accepted only 11 Syrian refugees. This follows a dramatic decrease from 15,479 Syrian refugees resettled in 2016 under Obama, to just 3,024 in 2017 under Trump.
  38. On Friday, Reuters reported that pro-Assad officials claim that, similar to US strikes a year ago, the targeted bases were evacuated days ago thanks to warnings by the Russians.
IMG_1098
There were too many “Douche” stickers to count on Melrose in Los Angeles, CA on 7apr18 … just as there are too many to count in our actual government…
  1. On Saturday, in a morning tweet, Trump bragged about the missile strike in Syria, saying “Mission Accomplished!” The words were reminiscent of George W. Bush’s haunting phrase in 2003 about the supposed end of major combat in Iraq.
  2. On Saturday, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the Security Council that US forces are “locked and loaded” if Assad stages another chemical attack.
  3. At the time of the Syrian air strike, acting Secretary of State John Sullivan was in Peru at the Summit of the Americas. Eight of the top ten roles at State remain unfilled, as well as many key ambassador roles.
  4. On Wednesday, McClatchy reported Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo failed to disclose last year in his questionnaire to lead the CIA that he owned a Kansas business that imported equipment from a company owned by the Chinese government.
  5. The issue, which troubled several senators, never came up in Pompeo’s Senate confirmation hearing to become CIA director. Pompeo’s Senate confirmation hearings to become Secretary of State began on Thursday.
  6. On Thursday, two key Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tim Kaine and Jeanne Shaheen said they won’t back Pompeo for secretary of state. Republican Sen. Rand Paul also indicated he would vote against him.
  7. Trump nominee Pompeo could be the first state nominee since 1925 not to get a favorable vote from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to support his nomination for secretary of state.
  8. On Sunday, conservative pollster Frank Luntz told Fox News, “I think the Republicans are in deep trouble,” saying if the elections were held today, the Republicans would lose the House and the Senate.
  9. On Wednesday, Axios reported Paul Ryan will not run for re-election in November. Insiders say Ryan passed tax reform, his longtime dream, but is ready to step out of an endlessly frustrating job, in part due to Trump.
  10. A Republican insider said, “This is a Titanic, tectonic shift. … This is going to make every Republican donor believe the House can’t be held,” saying now funds will be diverted to help Republicans keep control of the Senate.
  11. Politico reported, according to Nielsen ratings, MSNBC’s rating surged 30% from first quarter of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018, while Fox News’ rating fell 16%. Analysts said some of Fox News’ audience may be experiencing Trump fatigue.
  12. On Wednesday, Axios reported on a clip from Comey’s first interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos scheduled for Sunday night, in which Comey compares Trump to a mob boss.
  13. Comey said he was asked by Trump to investigate the salacious allegations from the dossier to “prove that it didn’t happen,” adding Trump said it would be “terrible” if Melania would believe them to be true.
  14. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted promoting Fox News’ Sean Hannity’s show, “Big show tonight on @seanhannity!” On his show that night, Hannity attacked Hillary Clinton, Mueller, and Comey.
  15. On Thursday, CNN obtained a copy of the battle plan to discredit Comey to be used by Trump allies which includes branding Comey as “Lyin’ Comey,” digital advertising and talking points to be sent to Republicans nationwide.
  16. On Friday, Trump lashed out at Comey in a series of tweets, calling him “a proven LEAKER & LIAR,” and a “weak and untruthful slime ball” who deserved to be fired “for the terrible job he did.”
  17. Trump also tweeted that Comey “leaked CLASSIFIED information” for which he “should be prosecuted,” and Comey “lied to Congress under OATH,” adding “It was my great honor to fire James Comey!”
  18. On Friday, CNN obtained a copy of the Justice Department inspector general’s report on Andrew McCabe, which found McCabe “lacked candor” on four occasions when discussing the disclosure of information to the WSJ.
  19. The disclosures were related to the FBI’s investigation of the Clinton Foundation. In addition, the report found that McCabe was not authorized to disclose the existence of the investigation.
  20. The report also cited McCabe’s conversations with federal investigators and Comey. The report, which went to Congress on Friday and is expected to be made public, formed the basis of Sessions’ firing of McCabe.
  21. Trump used it to attack Comey, calling the report “a total disaster,” adding “He LIED! LIED! LIED! McCabe was totally controlled by Comey — McCabe is Comey!!” And referring to them both as a “den of thieves and lowlifes!”
  22. On Friday, Trump pardoned Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a former Bush administration official convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in 2007. This follows his controversial pardon of Joe Arpaio in Week 41, which he also announced on a Friday, as Hurricane Harvey was about to hit.
  23. Trump acknowledged Friday he has no personal relationship to Libby, “I don’t know Mr. Libby, but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly.” Trump does have an ongoing feud with the Bush family.
  24. Trump said Libby was unfairly convicted because of an overzealous prosecutor. A number of Trump aides have pleaded guilty to similar charges such as lying to the FBI, and Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation.
  25. The pardon also telegraphed Trump’s open hostility to the criminal justice system and institutions, as well as signaling Trump’s willingness to use the power of the presidency as a personal political tool.
  26. Bloomberg reported Trump ordered the DOJ to hire Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who was forced out of the National Security Council by H.R. McMaster for showing Nunes classified documents. Cohen-Watnick went to work for Oracle after he was fired.
  27. When Trump learned in the fall of 2017 Cohen-Watnick was not at the Justice Department, he told staff he wanted him on the job as soon as possible. Generally, the White House has a policy against the rehiring of staff who are dismissed.
  28. VICE News reported two senior officials in the Trump regime, Makan Delrahim and David Bernhardt, were once registered as lobbyists for Access Industries, a holding company controlled by Russian oligarch Leonard Blavatnik.
  29. An ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 69% of Americans support Mueller’s investigation of possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russian government attempts to influence the 2016 election.
  30. The polls also found 64% of Americans support investigating Trump’s business activities, and 58% support investigations in alleged hush money.
IMG_6086
Wynwood, Miami, FL – December 2017

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 73: “THE GREAT POLITICAL SWINDLE” ~ god SAVE AMERICA

*Unfortunately, for our country, this list, PROVEN, as well as supported by The National Library of Congress, is getting longer and longer every week. 

** In an effort to make it more reader-friendly and easier to digest, I’ve broken it up  most of the way, by inserting a photo (all taken by me,) between every 20 facts.

*** This list is by Amy Siskind and the link to her actual list is highlighted below. PLEASE, if these facts strike a chord and mean something to you, PLEASE share this post. Street Art comes in many forms, but no matter what, it gives a voice to the voiceless. Help us to make their voices heard. Resoundingly. 

Week 72 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

March 31, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-72-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-15d0c913ef70

In a week some described as relatively quiet on the news front heading into Passover and Easter, Trump continued to seize power. Trump is acting increasingly strident and confident in his — and solely his — abilities and judgment. As Hope Hicks departed and Trump had yet to name her replacement, news stories indicated Trump is considering becoming his own press secretary, as well as possibly his own chief of staff. Trump continues to be scattered legislatively, save his obsession with his border wall, while continuing to strike out at adversaries, this week’s favored target being Amazon.

Trump’s remaining inner-circle continues to be plagued by possible ethics violations and incompetence. With the exit of attorney John Dowd, Trump is without a lead counsel in the Mueller probe, as he also faces threats on a number of other fronts including Stephanie Clifford, the emoluments clause and the unraveling of Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in the US election.

IMG_0530
Venice Beach, California. 25march2018.
  1. In a case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal appeals court rejected the position of Sessions’ DOJ and ruled transgender people are protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bans workplace discrimination based on sex.
  2. Fake photos of the teens who spoke at March For Our Lives went viral on the far right. One photo showed leader Emma Gonzalez and other leaders ripping up what was photoshopped to be the Constitution.
  3. Rep. Steve King attacked Gonzalez for her Cuban heritage on his Facebook page: “This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don’t speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island.”
  4. Rep. King was excoriated by critics for his post about Emma Gonzalez. His staff responded, “just pointing out the irony of someone wearing a communist flag while advocating for gun control. — Team King”
  5. On Sunday, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said Joseph DiGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing would not be joining Trump’s legal team in the Mueller probe, citing conflicts of interest.
  6. Having lost lead attorney John Dowd as well last week, this leaves Trump without a traditional criminal defense attorney as Mueller’s team enters a critical phase in its investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
  7. On Sunday, Trump sent two tweets, claiming top lawyers want to represent him and “Fame & fortune will NEVER be turned down by a lawyer, though some are conflicted,” adding “there was NO COLLUSION.”
  8. Trump also tweeted about “the $1.6 Billion given to building and fixing the border wall” in the spending bill. The law says funds can be used only to repair and build previously approved fencing, not to build a new wall.
  9. The law also bars construction on a Texas wildlife preserve that the Trump regime had previously identified as a starting point for work on a new border wall in Week 37.
  10. On Tuesday, WAPO reported that privately, Trump has started pushing the US military to fund construction of his border wall, saying Jim Mattis and congressional leaders could push for the funding citing a “national security” risk.
  11. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted construction of his border wall has begun, and included four photos. This statement false: Trump’s border wall has not been started, and the photos are from a 2009 replacement project.
  12. California’s senators and Democratic colleagues called for a probe into the resignation of San Francisco ICE spokesperson James Schwab, who resigned in Week 70 citing false statements made by the Trump regime.
  13. A new Indiana law requires all doctors to ask every woman seeking treatment for a physical or psychological condition whether she haspreviously had an abortion “in any way connected to the ailment.”
  14. Intercept reported, according to a string of emails and documents obtained through a public records request, ICE uses backend Facebook data to locate and track immigrants that it is working to round up.
  15. According to a directive shared by ICE on Thursday, the Trump regime will abandon a policy of generally releasing pregnant women from immigrant detention, instead deciding on a case-by-case basis.
  16. On Friday, in a big victory for the ACLU, a US District Court judge in Washington DC ruled that the Trump regime cannot block undocumented teens from getting abortions.
  17. On Friday, ABC News reported halfway through the fiscal year (October 1, 2017), the Trump regime has admitted less than a quarter of its proposed refugees ceiling: just 10,548 out of the 45,000.
  18. The regime’s cap of 45,000 is the lowest since the refugee admissions program began in 1975. Obama has set the cap at 110,000 for the fiscal year, and Trump lowered it once taking office.
  19. Under rules proposed by the State Department Friday, nearly all applicants for a visa to the US, an estimated 14.7 million people per year, will be asked to submit their social-media usernames for the past five years.
  20. The proposal covers 20 social media platforms, and includes people wanting to come to the US for business or pleasure, including countries such as Brazil, China, India and Mexico.
IMG_4018
On a t-shirt through the window in an East Village, New York City shop. November 2017.
  1. On Monday the Commerce Department announced that the 2020 US Census will include a question about citizenship. Opponents fear this will lead to inaccurate population counts, affecting the distribution of federal funding and redistricting for House seats.
  2. Career officials at the Census Bureau were critical of the plan to add the question, but Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross decided to include it despite their input. The census has not asked participants about citizenship since 1950.
  3. In a draft of the 2020 US Census released Tuesday, questions regarding categories of sexual orientation and gender identity were removed, sparking outrage from LGBTQ advocacy groups.
  4. Data in census categories — for example race, gender, length of commute — are used by federal agencies make decisions about law enforcement, health care, equal employment opportunities, and more.
  5. Politico reported, based on interviews, public documents, and FEMA records the hurricane response by the Trump regime in Puerto Rico was significantly undersized compared to the response to Hurricane Harvey.
  6. Within 9 days of the storms, FEMA had approved $141.8 million in individual assistance for victims of Harvey, and only $6.2 million for victims of Hurricane Maria.
  7. Also nine days in, the federal government had dispatched 30,000 personnel in the Houston region, compared to only 10,000 at the same point after Maria.
  8. Puerto Rico was strong-armed into using an experimental funding formula to access federal funds for rebuilding. The formula requires that Puerto Rico pay for any excess costs in the rebuilding effort. The funding formula has never been used for a disaster of this scale.
  9. Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Seattle’s KOMO-TV is now being forced by owner Sinclair Broadcasting to read Sinclair-written scripts warning of the dangers of “one-sided news stories plaguing our country.”
  10. Sinclair has also imposed must-run segments on things like the “Deep State” produced by Sinclair’s Kristine Frazao, who prior worked as a reporter and anchor for the Russian-government funded news network RT.
  11. On Monday, CNN reported Secretary Ryan Zinke told Interior Department staffers that diversity isn’t important. Three high ranking officials in say he said, “I don’t care about diversity,” or “I don’t really think that’s important anymore.”
  12. On Monday, three more contractors in Secretary Ben Carson’s Department of Housing and Urban Development lost their jobs over a widening ethics controversy surrounding Accel Corporation, a private employment agency, and their staffing arrangement with HUD.
  13. After interviewing over 20 insiders and reviewing internal emails NYT reported that HUD appears to be abandoning efforts to enforce fair housing laws.
  14. In Week 69 Carson changed HUD’s mission statement, eliminating the mandate to “build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.”
  15. Diana Flynn, a top civil rights lawyer in the Justice Department, is resigning and will become the litigation director at Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ advocacy organization which is currently suing to stop Trump’s transgender military ban.
  16. The Trump administration has established an anti-regulation litmus test for judicial appointments, with the hope to weaken what they have labeled the “administrative state.”
  17. WSJ reported Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency agreed to test a water-purification system developed by Water-Gen Ltd., an Israeli technology company, at the request of Republican donor and Trump ally, Sheldon Adelson.
  18. The Trump regime picked a new fight with the state of California, as the EPA’s Pruitt reportedly will move to roll back an Obama-era goal to have car makers meet a 54.5 mpg standard by 2025, one of Obama’s signature efforts to fight climate change.
  19. The move would be a victory for carmakers, and could allow them to roll back industry standards worldwide. The move would also be likely to spark a courtroom challenge from California.
  20. HuffPost received a leaked memo from the Office of Public Affairs at Pruitt’s EPA which listed eight approved talking points regarding climate change. The talking points downplay the role humans play in climate change, stating that the toll of human action on the climate is unknown.
IMG_4150
Chelsea, Manhattan, NYC. November 2017.
  1. On Thursday, ABC News reported Pruitt has been living in a DC condo co-owned with his wife by Stephen Hart, CEO of the lobbying firm Williams and Jensen, which represents a roster of fossil fuel companies.
  2. WAPO reported that clients of Hart’s firm include Exxon Mobil Corp. and the major liquefied natural gas exporter Cheniere Energy Inc. Market rate rent in the area run at more than $3,000 for two bedrooms per month.
  3. On Friday, WAPO reported Pruitt is paying just $50 per night for the nights he stays in the condo. According to EPA officials, Pruitt has paid a total of $6,100 to stay in the condo for roughly six months.
  4. ABC News reported that Pruitt’s daughter also stayed in the condo. Justina Fugh, a EPA ethics lawyer, did not know about the arrangement, but said she did not immediately see it as an ethical concern since Pruitt was paying for the room.
  5. On Friday, CNN reported that according to a letter by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Pruitt used his security detail while on non-official business, including trips home to Tulsa, a family vacation to Disneyland, and the Rose Bowl.
  6. According to a July 2014 memo obtained by MSNBC, Rudy Giuliani’s law firm warned Cambridge Analytica foreign citizens could not play “substantive management” roles in the running of US election campaigns.
  7. On Sunday, Sen. Mark Warner told “Meet the Press” that Facebook has not been fully transparent with Congress about the data leak, saying when he questioned the company about Cambridge Analytica they “blew that off.”
  8. Corey Lewandowski said Sunday he never approved contact with Cambridge Analytica while working for Trump, saying, “They pitched me three times, three times I said no.”
  9. On Monday, watchdog group Common Cause filed legal complaints with the FEC and DOJ accusing Cambridge Analytica, SCL Group, Nix, Christopher Wylie, and others of violating US election laws as non-US citizens by participating in the decision-making process of US political campaigns.
  10. Mark Zuckerberg has been called to testify before Congress on April 10 at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on data privacy, and on April 12 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
  11. NYT reported that an employee of Palantir, the data analysis company co-founded by Trump supporter Peter Thiel, was directly involved with Cambridge Analytica and the creation of an app that was used to scrape Facebook users’ data.
  12. Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie alleged that pro-Brexit campaign Vote Leave engaged in fraud to skirt election spending laws.
  13. In an interview with The Daily Beast Wylie said he didn’t come forward earlier with information about Cambridge Analytica, waiting until long after the US election and Brexit, because he “didn’t fully appreciate the impact.”
  14. A super PAC run by John Bolton was one of the first organizations to use the Facebook data mined by Cambridge Analytica in 2014. The super PAC held a $454,700 contract with the company to gain “behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging.”
  15. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported, according to records released to the UK Parliament, Cambridge Analytica gave Bolton’s PAC data harvested from millions of Facebook users. The papers were produced by Wylie.
  16. Emails released show SCL Group discussed with Aggregate IQ, a Canadian company that worked closely with both Cambridge Analytica and SCL, how it could release information on how to target voters in several US states to Bolton’s PAC.
  17. On Sunday, Stephanie Clifford appeared on “60 Minutes,” saying she stayed silent because of fear. She said she was threatened with a lawsuit by Michael Cohen in 2011 after selling her story for $15,000.
  18. Shortly after, she was approached by a stranger in a parking lot who told her, “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,” adding, of her daughter, “That’s a beautiful little girl, it would be a shame if something happened to her mom.”
  19. The night they met, Clifford said she told Trump, “Someone should take that magazine and spank you with it,” to get him to stop talking about himself. It was a magazine with Trump on the cover, and she claims she spanked him with it, wearing his underwear.
  20. Trevor Potter, former chair of the Federal Election Commission, was also interviewed and compared the case to John Edwards, but said the paying off was worse because it happened right before election day on a hot topic.
IMG_4170
New York City, February 2018.
  1. Potter also said Mueller could look into Clifford’s case as part of his investigation of Cohen, also the middleman for the Trump Organization for negotiations with Russia for a Trump Tower Moscow.
  2. The interview was the highest-rated episode of “60 Minutes” in 10 years, attracting 22 million viewers.
  3. On Monday, Trump was uncharacteristically silent on Clifford’s interview, refraining from sending a single tweet or making any comment.
  4. On Monday, Clifford’s lawyer Michael Avenatti sued Cohen for defamation, saying Cohen defamed Clifford by insinuating she lied about an affair with Trump. The complaint also says the hush agreement is invalid since Trump did not sign it.
  5. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders angrily deflected questions about Stephanie Clifford at a press conference on Tuesday, two days after Clifford’s appearance on “60 Minutes.”
  6. On Wednesday, Michael Avenatti filed a motion in a federal court in California seeking to depose Trump and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohenover the $130,000 payment made to Clifford.
  7. On Wednesday, David Schwartz, the lawyer for Cohen, said in an CNN interview that Cohen did not tell Trump about the hush agreement to pay Clifford $130,000 in 2016.
  8. Avenatti said Schwartz’s comments prove the hush agreement was invalid. Experts say Schwartz’s comments could also result in an ethics complaintagainst Cohen with the New York bar association.
  9. On Monday, Dan Webb, a prominent white-collar-defense lawyer for the firm Winston and Strawn, declined an offer to lead Trump’s legal defensein the Mueller probe.
  10. Trump had also reached out to Tom Buchanan, a DC-based partner of Winston and Strawn, to join his legal team. The firm issued a statement citing “business conflicts” for why the two declined.
  11. Most top-tier lawyers have refused to represent Trump in Mueller’s Russia investigation. Instead, Reuters reports, an assistant DA from Georgia, Andrew Ekonomou, has been elevated on Jay Sekulow’s legal team working on the case.
  12. On Monday, a new CNN poll found Trump’s approval up to 42%, the highest in eleven months. Trump showed improvement from February with Republican voters (80% to 86%) and independents (35% to 41%).
  13. On Monday, NYT reported with Trump’s inner circle thinning, he is increasingly in touch with Rob Porter. Trump has spoken with aides about bringing Porter back, although he knows he probably cannot do so.
  14. On Monday, WSJ reported White House attorneys are examining whethertwo loans, from Apollo and Citigroup, to Kushner’s family business may have violated any criminal laws or federal ethics regulations.
  15. The Office of Government Ethics is investigating after receiving a letter from Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, saying the loans, “raise serious ethical questions that need to be investigated.”
  16. Reps. Elijah Cummings and Krishnamoorthi wrote attorney Don McGahn requesting documents from a White House review into dealings Kushner Cos. had with Citigroup and Apollo Group Management. Jared held meetings in the White House with leaders from both financial groups.
  17. On Monday, Politico reported associates of Trump are concerned about what Rick Gates may reveal to Robert Mueller following last month’s plea deal. One Republican consultant commented, “He saw everything.”
  18. On Tuesday Mueller’s team filed court papers arguing for jail time for Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer and Dutch citizen who lied about his interactions with Gates and an unidentified person. Van der Zwaan will be the first person to be sentenced in the investigation.
  19. Sen. Ron Wyden requested internal records from the NRA regarding foreign funding received over the past three years. Wyden wants to determine if any foreign funds were used to influence US elections.
  20. On Tuesday, Mueller released documents revealing top Trump campaign official Gates had frequent conversations in September and October 2016 with a person believed to have active links to Russian spy services.
IMG_4195
East Village, New York City. February 2018.
  1. The documents revealed Gates told an associate his contact “was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with the G.R.U.,” the Russian military intelligence agency. In the document, he is known as “Person A.”
  2. The document states communications between Gates and Person A are “pertinent to the investigation.” Sources say Person A is likely Konstantin Kilimnik, Manafort’s right-hand man in Ukraine.
  3. The document is a sentencing memo for Alex van der Zwaan, who worked closed with Gates and Person A to prepare a report used to defend Viktor Yanukovych, and in Week 67 was revealed to have lied to Mueller’s team.
  4. On Friday, VICE reported Congress is looking into an August 2016 flight on a private jet linked to Deripaska which traveled from Moscow to Newark, then flew back to Moscow that same afternoon.
  5. The flight arrived with hours of a meeting in Manhattan between Manafort and Kilimnik. Weeks prior, Manafort had Kilimnik reach out to Deripaska and told him “to extend an offer of ‘private briefings.’”
  6. On Wednesday, NYT reported Dowd broached the idea of Trump pardoning Manafort and Michael Flynn with their attorneys, suggesting Trump’s lawyers were concerned the two would cut a deal in exchange for leniency.
  7. The revelation raises concerns that Dowd, who resigned as Trump’s lead counsel in Week 71, was offering pardons to influence their decisions on whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the Mueller probe.
  8. Dowd’s conversation with Flynn’s attorney took place during the summerof 2017, at a time when a grand jury was hearing evidence against Flynn. His conversation with Manafort’s attorney took place before Manafort was indicted in October.
  9. It is not known if Dowd discussed the pardons with Trump. When contacted by the NYT, Dowd said, “There were no discussions. Period. As far as I know, no discussions.”
  10. On Thursday, The Guardian reported that in 2010 a small group of businessmen, including wealthy supporters of Putin, started working with Trump on plans for a glitzy hotel in Riga, the capital of Latvia.
  11. Talks with Trump’s company were abandoned after Russian Igor Krutoy, who had met with Trump and Ivanka at Trump Tower, was questioned by Latvian authorities as part of a major criminal inquiry. Latvian authorities also reached out to the FBI.
  12. Krutoy has written music for Emin Agalarov, the Russian singer involved with setting up the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. Krutoy was also a celebrity representative for Putin’s 2018 election campaign.
  13. On Thursday, Reuters reported Mueller’s team is questioning witnesses about the Trump campaign’s contact with Russians at the Republican National Convention in July 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.
  14. Witnesses have been asked about a convention-related event attended by both Kislyak and Sessions, and also about why Republican Party platformlanguage hostile to Russia was deleted from a section on Ukraine.
  15. One witness said they were also asked by Mueller’s team about a meeting Sessions had with Kislyak on the sidelines of a campaign speech Trump gave at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel in April 2016.
  16. The government of Ecuador cut off Julian Assange’s internet access after he made a series of tweets stating that the evidence Russia poisoned a former spy and his daughter was “circumstantial.” Assange lives in the London embassy of Ecuador, where he is seeking asylum.
  17. On Friday, Ted Malloch, an American touted as a possible candidate to serve as US ambassador to the EU last year, was detained as he landed at Logan Airport, and issued a subpoena to testify in the Mueller probe.
  18. Malloch is a controversial London-based academic with close ties to Nigel Farage. Guardian reported Malloch was questioned about his involvement in the Trump campaign and instructed lying to the FBI is a felony.
  19. Malloch said the FBI asked about Roger Stone, and whether he had ever visited the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Assange resided. He will appear before Mueller’s grand jury in Washington DC on April 13.
  20. On Friday, Yevgeniy Nikulin, a Russian accused of hacking US technology companies in 2012, was extradited to the Czech Republic. Sessions called the case “deeply troubling behavior once again emanating from Russia.”
IMG_6086
Wynwood, Miami, Florida. December 2017.
  1. The Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship has been renamed by the State Department as the Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship. An insider suggested it may have been renamed to escape Trump’s budget cuts.
  2. Seth Rich’s brother has filed a lawsuit accusing right-wing activists Ed Butowsky and Matt Crouch, Crouch’s media company America First Media, and The Washington Times of acting “with reckless disregard for the truth” by perpetuating conspiracy theories.
  3. On Wednesday Trump tweeted that his administration “stands in solidarity” with Orange County, which joined the administration’s lawsuit challenging the “sanctuary state” law, SB 54.
  4. On Wednesday, all 22 female senators wrote in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that the Senate must begin to debate anti-harassment legislation.
  5. On Wednesday, a federal judge in Maryland ruled a lawsuit accusing Trump of violating the emoluments clause by refusing to divorce himself from his businesses may proceed.
  6. The judge refused a plea from Sessions’ DOJ to dismiss the lawsuit. A similar lawsuit was dismissed in New York in December, when the judge ruled the watchdog group CREW did not have standing.
  7. On Wednesday, CBS News reported as communication director Hope Hicks prepares to leave the White House, the communication department is filled with chaos and in-fighting.
  8. Staffers are reportedly unsure what to expect “in a lawless White House,” noting Trump thrives on chaos and resents authority, process and order.
  9. Hicks’ last day of work was Wednesday. As Wednesday came to a close, even though Hicks resigned in Week 68, Trump had yet to name an interim communication director.
  10. On Wednesday, Trump hired 22 year-old Disney star Caroline Sunshine to join the White House communications team as a press assistant. Sunshine has no prior relevant experience in communications.
  11. Trump is reportedly being told by outside advisers that the doesn’t need a communications or chief of staff. Trump is frustrated at the management structure in the West Wing, believing it doesn’t suit his freewheeling style.
  12. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported John Kelly is losing some clout in Trump’s White House as he has been out of the decision making process on several occasions recently, including the firing of H.R. McMaster in Week 71.
  13. Kelly is also now rarely on the line when Trump speaks with foreign leaders, including Trump’s recent call with Putin. Aides say recently Kelly is less aware of what’s on Trump’s mind and what he’s planning to do next,
  14. On Wednesday Trump fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and hopes to replace him with the White House doctor Ronny Jackson, a White House physician and rear admiral in the Navy.
  15. Trump announced his nomination via Twitter. Jackson has no experience running a bureaucratic institution, and would inherit an agency with major problems and quickly face crucial, multibillion-dollar decisions.
  16. On an op-ed Wednesday, Shulkin said he was fired so Trump could privatize the VA and turn into a money making operation for his friends, warning they would put their personal agendas in front of the well-being of our veterans.
  17. On Friday, Shulkin told MSNBC he spoken to Trump hours before he was fired, and Trump didn’t mention his imminent firing. Shulkin said he was informed by Kelly of his firing shortly before Trump’s tweet.
  18. Trump had considered “Fox & Friends Weekend” co-host Pete Hegseth for the position of VA Secretary, but reportedly Hegseth, who has had issues in his personal life, did not want to go through the confirmation process.
  19. Defense Secretary James Mattis is finding himself more isolated in the administration after Trump appointed the aggressive hawks John Bolton to national security adviser and Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State.
  20. WAPO reported Trump’s Presidential Personnel Office (PPO), the office responsible for recruiting and vetting thousands of political appointees, ishobbled by inexperience and being short-staffed.
IMG_6194
New York City, February 2108.
  1. PPO is responsible for recruiting and vetting candidates for more than 4,000 jobs, more than 1,200 requiring Senate approval. The office has just 30 employees, less than a third of prior administrations.
  2. Six of the staffers over the age of 35 left shortly after Trump took office.Most staffers are in their 20s and have not relevant experience but worked on the Trump campaign. The PPO floor has become a social hub.
  3. On Monday, the US and 14 European Union members expelled scores of Russian diplomats in response to Russia’s alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.
  4. Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russians, including 12 people identified as Russian intelligence officers who have been stationed at the United Nations, as well as closing the Russian consulate in Seattle.
  5. On Thursday, the Kremlin ordered an equivalent number of expulsions, as well as the closing of the American Consulate in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, citing an “anti-Russian campaign” orchestrated by the US and UK.
  6. On Thursday, NBC News reported that when Trump finally signed off on providing US weapons to Ukraine to help in their fight against Russian-backed separatists, Trump told aides not to talk about it publicly.
  7. Reportedly, Trump was concerned speaking about it publicly may agitate Putin. However officials claim in Trump’s phone call to congratulate Putin, he also said, “If you want to have an arms race we can do that, but I’ll win.”
  8. On Friday, Russia released a video of a missile test for ‘Satan 2,’ its new intercontinental ballistic missile. Sputnik claimed the missile is “capable of striking targets both via the North and South Poles.”
  9. On Wednesday, Axios reported that, according to inside sources, Trump is “obsessed with Amazon” and wants “to go after Amazon with antitrust or competition law.”
  10. Amazon’s owner, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post — a media outlet frequently attacked by Trump. Reportedly, Trump’s friends in real estate are also upset about Amazon’s impact on their shopping mall holdings.
  11. On Wednesday, Amazon stock dropped more than 4%, wiping out more than $31 billion in shareholder value, and was down 6% for the week.
  12. On Thursday, Trump tweeted attacks on Amazon: “Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy,” and “Amazon is doing great damage to tax paying retailers.”
  13. On Saturday, Trump was again tweeting about Amazon, calling the company a “scam” and falsely claiming the post offices loses “Billions of Dollars” because of Amazon.
  14. At a speech at Yale, after joking he wasn’t going to talk about the 2016 election, saying “I’m still in therapy,” Jeb Bush attacked Trump as “Republican in basically name only,” adding he goes home to children who “actually love me.”
  15. Eric and Donald Jr. took to Twitter to fire back at Bush, with Donald Jr. tweeting, Trump learned enough about politics in a few weeks to “dismantle you piece by piece despite it being your life’s work.”
  16. On Thursday, in what was billed as an infrastructure event before a crowd of union builders in Richfield, Ohio, Trump instead turned it into stream of consciousness-type of campaign rally-style speech.
  17. Trump harped on his Mexico wall, while comparing the border to the “demilitarized zone between North and South Korea,” adding “But our own border, we don’t take care of it. Think of it.”
  18. Trump mocked Obama for leaving so many judicial posts vacant, ignoring the Republican-controlled Senate for two years, “When I got in, we had over 100 federal judges that weren’t appointed…Why the hell did he leave that?”
  19. Trump also dismissed the country’s community colleges saying, “We do not know what a ‘community college’ means,” saying “call it vocational and technical,” indicating he didn’t know the difference between the two.
  20. Trump also said the US will end its military presence in Syria “very soon,” contradicting statements by his new SoS Pompeo and his incoming national security John Bolton, who have both said US troops should stay there for the foreseeable future.
  21. Trump also touched on random topics including the firing of Shulkin, North Korea, and complimented the success of his supporter Roseanne Barr’s reboot of her sitcom, “Look at Roseanne — look at her ratings.”
  22. On Friday, Roseanne tweeted, “Trump has freed so many children held in bondage to pimps all over this world. Hundreds each month.” This pro-Trump conspiracy theory originated with QAnon, a user on the anonymous message board 4chan.
  23. On Thursday, Andrew McCabe set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for his legal fees. In the first 24 hours, McCabe raised close to half a million dollars.
  24. On Thursday, Sessions rebuffed a call by Republicans to appoint a second special counsel to look into the FBI’s handling of its most high profile probes, saying such appointments occur only in “extraordinary circumstances.”
  25. Sessions revealed he instead has named US Attorney John Huber to look into these topics, including the DOJ’s and FBI’s actions in 2016 and 2017, and several matters related to Hillary Clinton and her family’s foundation.
  26. On Friday, after apologizing for mocking Parkland student David Hogg, and losing 14 of her show’s sponsors, Fox News host Laura Ingraham announced on her show that she would be taking a break being on-air.
  27. Despite being accused by at least 15 women of sexual misconduct, several of which are currently live cases, Trump issued a proclamation Friday designating April National Sexual Assault Awareness month.
IMG_4198
New York City, February 2018.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 72: “RULING AS A PARTY OF ONE”

Week 71 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

March 24, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-71-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-e56ab486d504

This week Cambridge Analytica became a full-blown UK and US scandal, as the company came under scrutiny for harvesting the data of 50 million Facebook users and using it to impact the 2016 US election, possibly in cooperation with Russia. British authorities raided the company late Friday, while back home, Facebook faced a backlash from users and Congress for mishandling the security of personal information and for the company’s flat-footed and weak response to the crisis.

This week Trump is increasingly ruling as a party of one, making decisions and taking actions on his own, without consultation or planning. After losing his national security advisor and lead attorney in the Mueller probe, Trump is leaving positions unfilled or filling them with sycophants and cable-tv personalities. This week, Trump heightened his attacks on Mueller, as he has shifted to a more aggressive stance in all matters, including the Russia probe. Trump is in danger from several looming threats including the Mueller probe, fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and women coming forward to tell their stories.

IMG_9479
Jacksonville, FL February 2018. Artist: Tommy Amgdn
  1. On Saturday, Axios reported Andrew McCabe met with Mueller’s team, and turned over memos, including information that will corroborate James Comey’s account of his firing by Trump.
  2. On Saturday and Sunday, Trump sent a series of error-filled tweets blasting the Russia probe and familiar targets like Comey and Hillary Clinton, and for the first time, directly attacking Mueller.
  3. As he had hours after the firing, Trump again attacking McCabe with false claims, “How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife’s campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M,” adding “Comey knew it all.”
  4. Trump also tweeted “The Mueller probe should never have been started,” saying there was “no collusion and there was no crime.” This is false. Four Trump aides and 13 Russians have been charged with crimes.
  5. Trump tweeted the investigation was based on a “Fake Dossier paid for by Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!” This is also false.
  6. Trump tweeted, “House Intelligence Committee has concluded, there wasno collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign.” This is not true. Trump also accused Comey of lying under oath to Senators.
  7. Trump complained that Mueller’s team has “13 hardened Democrats,” and “Zero Republicans.” Both Mueller and Rod Rosenstein are Republicans, and federal regulation prohibits the Department of Justice from considering political affiliation.
  8. On Monday, Trump plugged Hannity, “.@seanhannity on @foxandfriends now! Great! 8:18 A.M.” Hannity told “Fox & Friends” he expects “criminal charges” against McCabe, and that Trump will not fire Mueller.
  9. On Monday, Mississippi’s governor signed into law an abortion ban at 15 weeks, the earliest abortion ban in the country. On Tuesday, a federal judge temporarily blocked the ban.
  10. On Tuesday, Trump ally Rep. Louie Gohmert introduced a resolution in the House which would declare March 31st, Cesar Chavez’s birthday, “National Border Control Day.”
  11. On Tuesday, NPR reported Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services, created a new division, the Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom, saying religious freedom is “the first freedom.”
  12. On Friday evening, the White House announced a policy to ban most transgender individuals, including those requiring medications and surgery, from serving in the military.
  13. According to press secretary Sarah Sanders, unlike Trump’s July 2017 tweet which occurred without foresight or planning, the new policy was “developed through extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders, including combat veterans.”
  14. On Tuesday, as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos prepared to go before Congress, NYT reported she had withheld vital information from her staff on the department’s budget for the fiscal year that begins in October.
  15. DeVos’s budget calls for a 5% spending cut, including eliminating dozens of programs, and pitches a $1 billion school choice proposal. Information driving budget decisions was omitted from materials given to Congress.
  16. Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters quit as a Fox News analyst, saying the cable-tv network had degenerated into a “propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration,” adding, “now I am ashamed.”
  17. On Wednesday, Trump’s golf club in Westchester County, New York petitioned the Department of Labor to use the federal H-2 visa program to bring in foreign workers to serve as waiters, waitresses, and cooks.
  18. AP reported EPA administrator Scott Pruitt spent more than $120,000 in public funds last summer for a trip to Italy that included a meeting with G-7 ministers and a private tour of the Vatican. Pruitt’s security detail cost more than $30,500.
  19. On Wednesday, Politico reported Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his wife took a security detail on their vacation to Greece and Turkey last year. Unlike Pruitt, Zinke was not conducting government business on his two-week vacation.
  20. On Tuesday, a filing by the Republican National Committee showed the committee spent $271,000 at Trump private businesses in February, and 86% of expenses were categorized as “venue rental and catering.”
  21. CNBC reported the RNC spent a total of $424,000 in the first two months of 2018, more than 100 times what the committee spent at Trump’s properties during the same two-month period in 2017.
  22. On Saturday, NYT reported despite CEO Alexander Nix telling the UK Parliament, “We’ve never worked in Russia,” employees of Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group had contact with Russian oil giant Lukoil in 2014 and 2015.
  23. According to two former employees, there were at least three meetings with Lukoil executives in London and Turkey, and Lukoil was interested in how data was used to target American voters.
  24. Lukoil is not state-owned, but depends on Kremlin support, and its CEO has met with Putin on numerous occasions. The company has been used as a vehicle of government influence, and is on the US sanctions list.
  25. On Saturday, The Observer reported Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge University academic who harvested Facebook data, had a previously undisclosed teaching position and grants from a Russian university.
  26. On Sunday, a shocking exposé in The Guardian told the story of Christopher Wylie, and his role as an employee at Cambridge Analytica, where he used data hacked from Facebook to influence to target the US electorate.
  27. The story also detailed Wylie’s meetings with Steve Bannon in 2013, who then booked him to meet with Robert and Rebekah Mercer. Wylie, who says he “made Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool,” is now a whistleblower.
  28. On Monday, UK’s Channel 4 News broadcast an undercover investigation of Cambridge Analytica taped between November 2017 and January 2018 at various meeting with senior company officials, including CEO Nix.
  29. In the tapes, Cambridge Analytica executives explain harvesting damaging material on opponents and spreading it through social media, as well as using bribes, ex-spies, fake IDs, and sex workers to influence elections.
  30. On Monday evening, Elizabeth Denham, the UK Information Commissioner, said her office is applying for a warrant to raid the offices of Cambridge Analytica and seize their servers.
  31. Facebook’s forensics investigators, firm Stroz Friedberg, were at Cambridge Analytica’s offices Monday night were told by Facebook to “stand down” at the request of the Information Commissioner’s Office.
  32. On Monday, the European Commission said its region’s data protection authorities will investigate Facebook’s sharing of data with Cambridge Analytica as a possible breach of data protection laws.
  33. The European Commission’s Justice commissioner, Vera Jourova, said she will raise the issue with in Washington DC this week during her scheduled meetings with Jeff Sessions and Wilbur Ross on Tuesday.
  34. On Tuesday, Cambridge Analytica suspended its CEO Nix and launched an independent investigation to determine if the company engaged in any wrongdoing. Nix was set to arrive from London to the US on Tuesday.
  35. In a statement, a spokesperson for Cambridge Analytica said its political division did not use Facebook data. The company also said the Channel 4 video “edited and scripted to grossly misrepresent” the conversations.
  36. On Monday, Wylie, told “The Today Show” that while he was at Cambridge Analytica, the company met with Trump’s campaign manager at the time, Corey Lewandowski.
  37. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Wylie also said Bannon oversaw Cambridge Analytica’s early efforts in 2014 to collect data to build detailed profiles on millions of American voters ahead of the 2016 election.
  38. Bannon served as vice president and secretary from June 2014 to August 2016, when he joined the Trump campaign. Bannon okayed the $1 million expenditure to acquire the data, including Facebook profiles, in 2014.
  39. Bannon tested the messages “drain the swamp” and “deep state.” The company also tested views on Putin. Wylie added, “there’s a lot of Americans who really like this idea of a really strong authoritarian leader.”
  40. Wylie noted Trump started to utilize those terms in his stump speeches once Bannon joined the campaign. Wylie also fears the Facebook data was turned over to Russians who aimed to interfere with the US election.
  41. Facebook staffers were set to brief several congressional committees, including House Energy and Commerce, Senate and House Intelligence, and Senate and House Judiciary. Democrats want hear from CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  42. On Wednesday, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg broke his silence with a post on Facebook saying the company made “mistakes” and outlined how it has changed its policies to make sure that user data is protected.
  43. Later that day in his first tv-interview, Zuckerberg told CNN, “I’m really sorry that this happened,” and said he’d “be happy” to testify. Both House and Senate committees have requested his testimony.
  44. On Wednesday, Aleksandr Kogan said he was being used as a “scapegoat.” He told BBC he was approached by Cambridge Analytica, and that all the information he provided was obtained legitimately.
  45. On Wednesday, AP reported that company filings show Cambridge Analytica has a link to a Chinese security and logistics company run by Erik Prince.
  46. On Friday, The Guardian reported the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) was granted a warrant to examine the records of Cambridge Analytica. Investigators completed a seven-hour search at 3 a.m. Saturday.
  47. On Friday, a leaked 27-page Cambridge Analytica internal memo obtained by The Guardian claimed the company won the White House for Trump by using Google, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
  48. On Monday, Trump hired Joseph diGenova for his legal team in the Mueller probe. A former United States attorney, diGenova is expected to usher in more aggressive and less cooperative stance with Mueller.
  49. Mr. diGenova is a frequent guest on Fox News, where he espouses a conspiracy theory that a group of people in the FBI and DOJ were trying to “frame Donald Trump” by concocting the Russia probe.
  50. On Monday, WAPO reported Trump’s team has turned over to Mueller written descriptions that chronicle key moments in hopes of avoiding a prolonged interview, and limiting the scope of what would be discussed.
  51. Trump has told aides he is “chomping at the bit” to be interviewed by Mueller’s team, but his lawyers, especially after his attacks on Twitter, are trying to limit the in-person exposure.
  52. On Monday, WAPO reported that diGenova’s hire caught many Trump advisers by surprise, prompting fears Trump is planning a shake-up. Trump continues to complain his lawyers and are not protecting him.
  53. Trump is also not consulting with top advisers, including chief of staff John Kelly and chief White House attorney Don McGahn, on his comments about the probe. Reportedly, he is instead watching television and calling friends.
  54. On Monday, NYT reported Trump is considering reshuffling his legal team. including firing Ty Cobb, who has advocated for cooperating with Mueller. Trump is also discussing adding additional lawyers to the team.
  55. On Monday, NYT reported John Dowd is considering resigning from Trump’s legal team, fearing he has no control of Trump’s behavior, especially recently when Trump has gone on an aggressive attack of Mueller himself.
  56. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Trump reached out to Theodore Olson, a former solicitor general to George W. Bush and seasoned litigator, to join his legal team. Olson declined.
  57. On Thursday, Dowd resigned as Trump’ lead lawyer in the Mueller probe. Reportedly, Trump broke with Dowd on whether he should agree to be questioned by Mueller’s team.
  58. Dowd has also said Trump has ignored his advice, including tweeting about Mueller and other topics hours about Dowd told him not to. Dowd was also “blindsided” that Trump was interviewing other candidates.
  59. Shortly after Dowd resigned, Trump said he would like to clear his name by testifying. With Dowd gone, Trump is likely to adopt a more aggressive stance against Mueller.
  60. On Thursday, WAPO reported Trump is having trouble finding top-notch lawyers to represent him in the Mueller probe. Several prominent white-collar lawyers have, like Olson and Emmet Flood, turned down offers.
  61. Some law firms have signaled they don’t want the controversy of representing a unpopular and divisive leader, while others are claiming they have clients with conflicting interest.
  62. On Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Flake said he would support impeachment proceedings against Trump as a “remedy” if Trump moves to end the Mueller probe before it is completed “without cause.”
  63. On Wednesday, Trump kept up his attacks of Mueller, sending a series of typo-ridden tweets including, “I think President Trump was right when he said there never should have been a Special Council appointed.”
  64. Reuters reported three sources who have spoken to Mueller’s team contradicted Sessions’ testimony he “pushed back” against the proposalmade by George Papadopoulos at a March 2016 meeting to meet with Russians.
  65. On Tuesday at a news conference, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan list of a half-dozen recommendations for state and federal government to improve election security.
  66. Chairman Richard Burr said the committee is completing work on four core topics: election security, the intelligence community’s assessment of Russian meddling, the Obama administration’s response in 2016, and social media.
  67. Burr also said the committee would try to come to a conclusion about where the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. The bipartisan functioning put his committee in stark contrast to the House Intelligence Committee.
  68. On Wednesday, Department of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former department head Jeh Johnson testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the government’s response to Russian hacking and what was being done to protect us going forward.
  69. Senators from both parties knocked the Trump regime for not working quickly enough before the upcoming midterms, and also questioned missteps by the Obama administration for the 2016 election.
  70. Senators from both parties complained about the lack of urgency of state election officials getting security clearance to prepare for midterms: Nielsen said only 20 of 150 have cleared.
  71. On Thursday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to end their Russia probe, saying contacts between Trump associates and Russia feel short of collusion, saying contacts did not amount to active cooperation.
  72. The committee’s report recommended dramatic new steps to crack down on intelligence leaks, including administering “mandatory polygraphs” and stiffening legal penalties for leaking classified information.
  73. The report also accused Obama’s DNI James Clapper, an outspoken critic of Trump and the regime, of providing “inconsistent testimony” about his contacts with the media.
  74. On Friday, Trump tweeted just his delight about the finding, citing no collusion, and “The Obama Administrations Post election response was insufficient.” Trump also started targeting Clapper.
  75. Russia-state news agency RT also tweeted about committee’s finding: “No collusion: ‘We disagree with narrative that Russians were trying to help #Trump’ — House Intelligence Committee”
  76. Democratic-aligned group Center for American Progress prepared a report showing the Republicans had either no or incomplete information about 81 percent of the known contacts between Trump associates and Russia.
  77. The Center for American Progress report documents at least 70 contacts, including at least 22 high-ranking Trump campaign officials who knew about the contacts during the 2016 campaign and the transition.
  78. Daily Beast reported Guccifer 2.0, the hacker who took credit with providing WikiLeaks emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, was an officer in Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU).
  79. Trump’s close ally, Roger Stone, admitted to being in direct touch with Guccifer 2.0 during the campaign. Mueller’s team has taken over the investigation of Guccifer 2.0.
  80. Using IP addresses, investigators identified Guccifer 2.0 as a particular GRU officer working out of the agency’s headquarters in Moscow. Hacking organization “Fancy Bear” has also been traced to the GRU.
  81. On Friday, AP reported Mueller is examining the connections between the Trump campaign and Cambridge Analytica. Mueller’s team has asked former staffers about the Trump campaign’s data operations.
  82. Reportedly, Mueller’s team is interested in how the Trump campaign collected and utilized voter data in battleground states.
  83. Mueller is also asking members of Trump’s data team, which included analysts from the RNC, about its relationship with Cambridge Analytica, for which the campaign paid just under $6 million in 2016.
  84. Cambridge Analytica made several approaches to the Trump campaign starting in the spring of 2015 before Trump launched his campaign. The Trump campaign’s first payment of $100,000 came in July 2016.
  85. On Friday, WAPO reported that when a Russian news agency reached out to Papadopoulos in September 2016 election for an interview, he was told by deputy communications director Bryan Lanza, “You should do it.
  86. Emails described to WAPO indicate Papadopoulos had much more extensive contact with the Trump campaign and transition team, including Bannon and Michael Flynn, than has been publicly acknowledged.
  87. On Monday, WAPO reported Charles Kushner, Jared’s father, confirmed meeting with Qatar’s finance minister three months after Trump took office, and said he turned down possible funding to avoid questions of conflict of interest.
  88. On Monday, AP reported Kushner Cos. routinely filed false paperwork with New York City, declaring the company had no rent-regulated tenants in dozens of buildings across the city, when it actually had hundreds.
  89. In 2015, Kushner Cos. bought three apartment building in a gentrifying area of Queens and turned a 50% profit selling two years later by doing away with rent protections, raising rents, and pushing tenants out.
  90. On Wednesday, AP reported the New York City’s buildings regulatorlaunched an investigation into more than a dozen Kushner Cos. properties for filing false paperwork claiming it had zero rent-regulated tenants.
  91. On Wednesday, NYT reported UAE political adviser George Nader worked more than a year to turn top Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy into an instrument of influence at the White House for the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
  92. Nader’s cultivation of Broidy included the prospect of being awarded huge contracts for his private security company. Nader also paid Broidy $2.7 million for “consulting, marketing and other advisory services rendered,”
  93. Nader and Broidy both pushed for the firing of Rex Tillerson, backed confrontational approaches to Iran and Qatar, and pushed for a private meeting between Trump and the rule of the UAE outside the White House.
  94. Nader is the first witness in the Mueller probe to be granted immunity for his cooperation. Sources say Nader’s relationship with Broidy may offer clues as to the direction of the inquiry.
  95. On Wednesday, Intercept reported the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman boasted he has Kushner “in his pocket.” In later October 2017, Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh, spending several nights with the crown prince.
  96. On November 4, 2017 the crown prince launched an anti-corruption crackdown, arresting dozens of members of the Saudi royal family and imprisoning them at the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh.
  97. Reportedly, the Saudi figures named in the President’s Daily Brief, said to be critics of the crown prince, were among those rounded up, including at least one who was reportedly tortured.
  98. On Wednesday, Trump hosted the Saudi Crown Prince in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Of the 20 attendees — 10 from Saudi Arabia and 10 US — none were women.
  99. On Wednesday, WSJ reported federal prosecutors have dropped charges against 11 of the 15 bodyguards for Turkey’s Erdogan who were accused of beating protesters outside the Turkish Embassy in DC in Week 27.
  100. Seven of the charges were dropped on February 14, 2018, the day before Tillerson flew to Ankara for a meeting with Erdogan to ease tensions. US officials said no one pressured prosecutors to drop charges.
  101. On Wednesday, Citigroup said in a letter its loan to the Kushner Cos. was “completely appropriate,” despite the loan closing on March 31, 2017, less than a month after the bank’s CEO met with Kushner at the White House.
  102. The letter from Citigroup was in response to questions by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings and other Democrats. The bank wrote, “The Kushner family has been a client of Citi for decades.”
  103. On Wednesday, retired four-star general Barry McCaffrey called it “simply outrageous” that Kushner, who has no relevant experience but has ties to family business dealings is a leading representative of US foreign policy.
  104. On Sunday, WAPO reported in the early months of Trump taking office, senior White House staffers were asked to sign a nondisclosure agreementbecause Trump was upset about leaks.
  105. Reportedly Reince Priebus and McGahn both complied, knowing the agreement ultimately would not be enforceable. The agreement was similar to one Trump campaign staffers were forced to sign.
  106. On Wednesday, CNN reported senior White House officials did sign nondisclosure agreements. Trump was advised the agreements weren’t feasible for federal government employees and couldn’t be enforced.
  107. Ivanka and Jason Greenblatt, a former lawyer for the Trump Organization, supported the idea of the agreements. Eventually, McGahn relented and drafted a watered-down, unenforceable version of an agreement.
  108. News broke of a second Trump insider getting divorced in two weeks: White House aide Dan Scavino’s wife filed for divorce in mid-January.
  109. A bipartisan overhaul of Congress’ sexual misconduct system that was speeding along will not be attached a must-pass government spending bill this week, perhaps ending momentum for the harassment reform plan.
  110. Trump again pushed Republicans to change longstanding rules in the Senate in order to speed along his nominees, arguing for putting an end to 60 votes needed to invoke cloture.
  111. On Tuesday, the Kremlin was the first to report Trump called Putin to congratulate him on his re-election. Trump confirmed a “very good call” with Putin, and said the two would meet in the “not too distant future.”
  112. Trump also did not mention Russia’s meddling in the US election, instead focusing on “shared interests,” including North Korea and Ukraine, overruling his national security advisers.
  113. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Trump ignored specific warnings from his national security advisers for his call with Putin, including a section in his briefing materials which read, “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.”
  114. Trump also disregarded instructions to condemn Putin for the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK using nerve gas. Aside from the call, Trump has also yet to forcefully call out the attack.
  115. Trump saying “probably we’ll be seeing President Putin in the not-too-distant future,” caught aides by surprise. The two are not scheduled to be in the same country until November for a Group of 20 summit.
  116. Sen. John McCain issued a statement, saying a US leader “does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections.” In Week 23, Trump congratulated Turkey’s Erdogan on passing a referendum to consolidate power. Trump also praised China’s Xi for ending term limits.
  117. On Tuesday, CNN reported Trump was furious over how quickly it leaked that advisers told him not to congratulate Putin, reinforcing his beliefmembers of his national security team are seeking to undermine him.
  118. On Wednesday, according to a White House statement, Trump joined with French President Macron in reiterating “their solidarity with the United Kingdom in the wake of Russia’s use of chemical weapons.”
  119. On Tuesday, WSJ reported that on a February call, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney told Michael Cohen he breached the nondisclosure agreement by publicly saying he paid Clifford $130,000. Cohen said, “I didn’t f — ing breach it!”
  120. Stephanie Clifford underwent a lie detector test. The examiner found there was a more than 99% probability she told the truth when she said she had unprotected sex with Trump in 2006.
  121. On Tuesday, the New York Post reported a Manhattan judge ruled in a first-of-its-kind decision that Trump could not claim immunity through his job, and must face a defamation lawsuit brought by Summer Zervos.
  122. On Tuesday, ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal sued The National Enquirer’s parent company AMI to be released from her 2016 hush agreement. McDougal alleges Cohen was secretly involved in her talks.
  123. McDougal sold her story to AMI, whose owner is a personal friend of Trump, for $150,000, wanting to go public her story about Trump. McDougal said the parameters of the agreement were never clear to her.
  124. On Wednesday, CBS announced that Stephanie Clifford’s “60 Minutes” interview will air on Sunday.
  125. On Thursday, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney demanded the Trump Organization and the two banks involved in the $130,000 payment preserve all records, saying he plans to subpoena them
  126. Attorney Michael Avenatti cited “unmistakable links” between Trump’s company and a secrecy agreement she signed. Avenatti told NBC News, we plan to “uncover the truth about the cover-up and what happened.”
  127. On Wednesday, ABC News reported nearly a year before being fired by Sessions for “lack of candor,” McCabe authorized a criminal probe against Sessions for his lack of candor about his contacts with Russian operatives.
  128. McCabe authorized the probe after letters from Sens. Patrick Leahy and Al Franken from the Senate Judiciary Committee, following Sessions’ senate confirmation hearing in January 2017, in which he said he had not been in touch, nor was he aware of others on the campaign who were, with Russians.
  129. On Wednesday, CNN reported, according to his lawyer, Sessions is not under investigation for perjury for his statements by Mueller’s team.
  130. On Thursday, Bob Goodlatte, a Republican on the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the DOJ for the FBI’s 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton, as well as the internal report that lead to Sessions firing McCabe.
  131. On Friday, in op-ed, McCabe said he learned of his firing after 21-years in the FBI from “a friend called to tell me that CNN was reporting that I had been fired” and read him Sessions’ statement.
  132. On Wednesday, ABC News reported that at a “It’s on Us” rally at University of Miami on Tuesday, Joe Biden told students of Trump, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him,” for disrespecting women.
  133. On Thursday, Trump responded to Biden on Twitter, saying “Crazy Joe Biden…threatens me, for a second time,” adding “he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don’t threaten people Joe!”
  134. On Thursday, H.R. McMaster resigned, saying he had discussed his departure with Trump for several weeks, and questions about his status were casting a shadow over his exchanges with foreign officials.
  135. Trump chose John Bolton as his third National Security Advisor in 14 months. Bolton is an outspoken advocate for military action, and has recently called for action against North Korea and Iran.
  136. On Thursday, NBC News reported Trump is also considering firing Kelly and operating without a formal chief of staff, instead acting as his own chief of staff and having a handful of aides who report directly to him.
  137. On Friday, Foreign Policy reported Bolton is planning a massive shake-up of the National Security Council. Dozens of current White House officials are expected to be removed.
  138. Source say firings will start with getting rid of every Obama holdover. Bolton will also be targeting those of who been disloyal to Trump or are suspected of having leaked to the media.
  139. On Friday, NYT reported Bolton’s political committee, known as The John Bolton Super PAC, first hired Cambridge Analytica in August 2014, while the company was still harvesting Facebook data.
  140. Bolton’s super PAC used the company for two years, paying $1.2 million primarily for “survey research,” and was provided information on “behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging.
  141. On Friday morning, Trump threatened in a tweet to veto a $1.3 trillion spending bill passed hours earlier by Congress, reportedly furious over the failure of Congress to pay for his wall on the border of Mexico.
  142. On Friday afternoon, Trump told reporters at a news conference by himself that he signed what he called “this ridiculous situation, but threatened, “I will never sign another bill like this again — I’m not going to do it again.
  143. Trump continued, disparaging the legislation to reporters, saying “Nobody read it,” adding he only signed it as a matter of national security, “We had no choice but to fund our military,” an angle Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis had reported pushed.
  144. Trump also requested a line-item veto for future government spending bills and demanded an end to the filibuster rule.
  145. On Thursday evening, Karen McDougal told CNN she had a 10 month affair with Trump, after she met him in the summer of 2006, during the filming of “Celebrity Apprentice” at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.
  146. Although a White House schedule released Thursday evening showed the first couple would depart the White House together aboard Marine One, on Friday Melania did not join Trump for the flight.
  147. On Friday, AP reported after six weeks of firings and 14 months on the job, Trump is becoming more confident, bucking the advice of White House staffers and congressional Republicans and going it alone.
  148. Trump has floated to outside advisers a plan to do away with the traditional West Wing power structure, and run the White House with a more free-wheeling atmosphere, like he did with his business.
  149. Reportedly, the sense of apprehension is palpable in the West Wing, where tempers are running short and staffers are considering future employment prospects behind closed doors.
  150. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index had their worst week in two years, leaving investors hoping for a Trump respite. Trump unilaterally started a trade war with China without preparation or planning.
  151. On Friday, NYT reported the mood in the White House as “bewildered resignation” as staffers are left with predicting and reacting in real time to Trump’s shifting moods.
  152. NYT also reported Trump is feeling increasingly confident in his own abilities, while feeling embattled by Congress, the Russia investigation, foreign entanglements, a potential trade war, and women from his past speaking out.
  153. On Saturday, Bloomberg reported Trump is considering a National Security Council recommendation to expel dozens of Russian diplomats from the US in response to the nerve-agent poisoning in the UK.
  154. On Saturday, tens of thousands of students converged on DC for “March For Our Lives,” a rally to toughen gun laws. Additional rallies took place in cities and towns around the country.
IMG_9698
Artist: Margete Griffin. Jacksonville, FL. February 2018
IMG_3991
New York City. February 2018.
IMG_3997
New York City. February 2018.
IMG_3927
New York City. February 2018.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 66: PRESIDENT OF THE DIVIDED STATES

Week 65 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

February 10, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-65-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-28d95a0899dd

This week the chaos in our country infected Trump’s beloved stock market, which suffered its most volatile week since the financial crisis of 2008, as the Republican Party of Trump abandoned yet another of its guiding principles, fiscal responsibility. The regime suffered multiple resignations from its thinly staffed White House, as well as resignation of the third-ranking official at the Department of Justice amid escalating attacks on our institutions by Trump and his allies.

Troubling signs that Russia never left, and plans to meddle in our midterms emerged, although an increasingly autocratic Trump has conveniently yet to acknowledge Russian interference in our 2016 election. The whitewashing of America continues with statements and actions by Trump and his regime which are antithetical to American values. Trump also continues his pattern of siding with men facing allegations of abuse, ignoring victims’ suffering and accusing them of telling lies, despite Steve Bannon’s warnings that the “anti-patriarchy movement” is changing the US power structure.

IMG_8388

  1. Late Saturday, WAPO reported Trump is hopeful that the release of the Devin Nunes memo release will pave the way for further shake-ups, including the firing of Rod Rosenstein, as he continues to take steps to derail the Mueller probe.
  2. Late Saturday, TIME reported that in an August 2013 letter to an academic press, Carter Page bragged about his tie to the Kremlin: “I have had the privilege to serve as an informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin.”
  3. On Sunday, Republicans lawmakers including Rep. Trey Gowdy tried to distance themselves from the Nunes memo. Four members of the House Intelligence Committee said the memo should not impact the Mueller probe.
  4. Asked about the Nunes memo release in an interview with CBS News, former CIA director Leon Panetta said, “I’ve been in public life for over 50 years. I have never in my lifetime seen anything like this happen.”
  5. On Monday, Nunes admitted a central part of his memo’s case against the FBI is untrue: the FBI did disclose a law firm working for Hillary’s campaign and the Democratic Party paid for the dossier in a footnote.
  6. Also on Monday, Nunes told Fox & Friends that George Papadopoulos who is mentioned in his memo, “never even knew who Trump — never even had met with” him. This is a lie. There a picture of the two together.
  7. Amid the onslaught of attacks, Republican voters have soured on the FBI. Gallup found 49% of GOP voters think the FBI is doing an “excellent” or “good” job in December 2017, down from 62% in 2014.
  8. On Monday, the House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously to release the Democratic rebuttal to the Nunes memo. Trump now has five days to review it and decide on redactions, if any, and if it should be released.
  9. On Tuesday, Trump met with Rosenstein to discuss the Democratic rebuttal memo. Chief of staff John Kelly told reporters he asked key lawyers and national security officials to complete a final evaluation of the memo by Thursday.
  10. On Monday, at a speech in Ohio, Trump called the Democrats who didn’t applaud his State of the Union speech “un-American” and “treasonous,” adding “I mean they certainly didn’t seem to love our country that much.”
  11. On Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Flake took to the Senate floor to rebuke Trump’s “not normal” comments, adding “Democratic colleagues love this country as much as we do. To suggest otherwise is simply unconscionable.”
  12. On Tuesday, Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries took the House floor saying, “how dare you lecture us,” asking if it is treason for a “campaign to meet with a hostile foreign power to sell out our democracy and rig the election?”
  13. On Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump was “clearly joking” when he made the comment about Democrats. Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley added that the remark was “tongue-in-cheek.”
  14. On Tuesday, White House officials say they have begun planning for a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America’s armed forces. Trump reportedly said, “I want a parade like the one in France.”
  15. Trump’s idea for a military parade was met with widespread bipartisan condemnation calling it a waste of money, and saying it would break from democratic traditions. Conservative Joe Walsh tweeted, “Trump isn’t a King.”
  16. Robert J. O’Neill, a Fox News contributor and former Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden, tweeted that Trump’s parade idea is “third world bullshit,” saying a “First World” country doesn’t do such things.
  17. On Thursday, Democrats introduced the PARADE (Preventing the Allocation of Resources for Absurd Defense Expenditures) Act, which would block Trump from spending taxpayers funds for his parade.
  18. Chicago Sun Times reported Arthur Jones, an outspoken Holocaust denier, activist anti-Semite, and white supremacist, is set to become the GOP nominee for an Illinois congressional seat, representing parts of Chicago.
  19. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported released a report, “The Alt-Right is Killing People.” Of 12 incidents which led to death or injuries, nine of those incidents occurred during 2017.
  20. The Guardian reported that court documents reveal California police worked with, and expressed sympathy for, neo-Nazis while working to identify anti-fascist activists and Trump protesters after violent clashes at rallies.
  21. Dallas Morning News reported the Trump regime capped the number of refugees it would admit at 45,000 for the fiscal year 2018, down from 85,000 allowed in Obama’s final year in office.
  22. In the first four months of fiscal year 2018, just 6,700 refugees have been admitted, putting the US on pace to take 20,000 refugees, the lowest since the 1980 Refugee Act gave US leaders the power to set caps.
  23. On Wednesday, the FBI released information that Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez, whose death in November 2017 was used by Trump to push for his border wall, was the result of an accident, not a homicide.
  24. Reuters reported the Trump regime plans to revamp a US government program called “Countering Violent Extremism,” from countering all violent ideologies to solely focusing on Islamist extremism.
  25. On Thursday, Trump tweeted “Time to end the visa lottery. Congress must secure the immigration system and protect Americans,” and linked to the 2010 case of Mubarak Ahmed Hamed, who illegally transferred money.
  26. WAPO reported an employee of the Montana Department of Labor resigned after learning ICE planned to subpoena the state for labor data which would be used to “hunt down & deport undocumented workers.”
  27. CNN reported Amer Adi, who has lived in the US for almost 40 years, has a wife and four daughters who are US citizens, and who Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan described as a “pillar” of his community, was deported to Jordan by ICE.
  28. Since Trump took office, ICE arrests have increased by 42%. Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants have been arrested, including many like Adi who are deeply rooted and have no criminal convictions.
  29. Reuters reported Trump’s Department of Homeland Security has drafted rules that would allow ICE to scrutinize immigrants’ use of certain taxpayer-funded public benefits, for them or their children, to determine if they could become a public burden.
  30. Under the draft, a person would be considered a “public charge” if they depend on “any government assistance,” the result of which is effectively barring lower- and middle-income people from immigrating.
  31. On Tuesday, at a meeting with Leader Mitch McConnell, Kelly said undocumented immigrants who hadn’t signed up for the DACA program were either “too afraid” or “too lazy to get off their asses.”
  32. When asked later that day by the media to clarify his comments, Kelly doubled-down saying, “I gotta say that some of them just should have probably gotten off the couch and signed up.”
  33. Kelly’s words were met with harsh condemnation from Democrats and advocates, calling his words “ignorant,” “discriminatory,” and “cruel.” Advocates cite fear, cost, and misinformation as the main barriers.
  34. On Tuesday, when asked by the media about the pending government shutdown, Trump said he would “love to see a shutdown” if it helped get a tough immigration deal, including his border wall, passed in Congress.
  35. On Wednesday, Rep. Nancy Pelosi held the House floor for over eight hours, the longest continuous speech in the chamber since 1909, to advocate for Dreamers, and for a vote on a bill to address DACA.
  36. On Monday, Reuters reported acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mick Mulvaney planned to pull-back from a full-scale probe of how hackers stole personal date of 143 million Americans from Equifax.
  37. Intercept reported coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler hosted fundraisers for Sens. John Barrasso and Jim Inhofe, Republicans on the Committee on Environment and Public Works, ahead of his nomination for a top EPA position.
  38. Association of Health Care Journalists reported The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services threatened to ban a reporter from press calls after he refused to delete parts of a published story at the request of CMS administrator Seema Verma.
  39. The agency followed through with its threat last week when Virgil Dickson of Modern Healthcare said his phone went mute during a CMS press calland a woman’s voice told him he was not allowed to participate.
  40. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said in an interview with KSNV News 3 Las Vegas, that the warming climate is not “necessarily is a bad thing,” suggesting instead that a warm climate could be beneficial.
  41. The state legislature in Idaho voted to strip all mentions of human-caused climate change from statewide science guidelines, the first state to do so. Parents, teachers, and students are pushing back for revised standards.
  42. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told Politico she found it “hurtful” being criticized for not upholding civil rights. She responded to lawsuits against her and her department for repealing Obama-era rules on campus sexual assault, saying she hoped “nobody who has been involved” would now not come forward.
  43. On Thursday, the two largest teachers union were blocked from entering the Education Department building to deliver complaints in the form of 80,000 report cards to DeVos, because they did not have an appointment.
  44. A three-month study conducted by Oxford, as part of the school’s Computational Propaganda Research Project, found Trump supporters consume and share the most fake news on Twitter and Facebook.
  45. Congressional Republicans took another step in quietly dismantling Obamacare, disbanding the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a board designed to tame runaway Medicare costs, should they ever arise.
  46. Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom Trump described in 2016 as a “hater” and a “Mexican” who disliked Trump because of his strong border stance, will hear a key environmental case on Trump’s border wall with Mexico.
  47. On Monday, the Supreme Court denied a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to delay redrawing congressional lines. The deadline to redraw districts, which will benefit Democrat, was Friday.
  48. Pennsylvania State Rep. Cris Dush sent a letter to fellow House Republicans calling for the impeachment of the five justices who ruled that the legislature must redraw the state’s gerrymandered maps.
  49. On Friday, Dallas Morning News reported that county Republicans filed a lawsuit alleging the Democratic Party chair did not sign petitions of 128 candidates, so they should be kicked off the March 6 primary ballot.
  50. Sen. Chuck Grassley sent a letter of rebuke to Jeff Sessions, saying a memo which instructs Department of Justice employees not to communicate with Congress without pre-approval discourages whistleblowers and does not comply with the law.
  51. Spain extradited Russian citizen Pyotr Levashov, aka Peter Severa, a spam kingpin, to the US to face charges of links to a series of powerful botnets that were capable of pumping out billions of spam emails.
  52. A counter-extradition request from Russia was rejected. Levashov was apprehended while vacationing with his family in Barcelona in April. In Week 22, his wife said he was arrested for being “linked to Trump’s win.”
  53. On Monday, NYT reported Trump’s lawyers have advised him against being interviewed by Mueller’s team over concern Trump would make false statements and contradict himself, and could be charged with lying.
  54. If Trump refuses to be interviewed, Mueller could subpoena him to testify before a grand jury, a court fight that could be determined by the Supreme Court. It could also prompt accusations that Trump has something to hide.
  55. On Tuesday, Steve Bannon did not show up to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, despite a subpoena. Bannon’s attorney said theWhite House would not let him testify beyond 14 pre-approved yes-or-no questions.
  56. On Tuesday, Rep. Adam Schiff said if Bannon maintains his refusal, the committee should commence contempt proceedings to compel his testimony. The House has given Bannon one week to comply with their subpoena.
  57. On Wednesday, Schiff said in a statement that neither Bannon and Corey Lewandowski have “articulated legitimate grounds for refusing to appear and answer questions.” Schiff plans to subpoena Lewandowski too.
  58. NBC News reported Bannon is likely to meet with Mueller’s team next week. Bannon has reportedly struck a deal with Mueller’s team to avoid having to testify before a grand jury.
  59. Politico reported that the FBI was monitoring Carter Page when he spoke to Bannon in January 2017, and may have picked up the call. In Page’s November testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, he mentioned the call.
  60. According to Page, Bannon called to ask him to cancel a planned television appearance shortly before Trump’s January 21 inauguration. The two then discussed the dossier which was made public on January 11 by BuzzFeed.
  61. Research findings by BuzzFeed and Jonathan Albright of Columbia University reveal Russian trolls were active on Tumblr during the 2016 election, although the company has yet to face Congressional scrutiny.
  62. Russian-run Tumblr accounts used the same or similar usernames as the list of confirmed Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency accounts on other social media. Accounts generated hundreds of thousands of interactions which were anti-Hillary Clinton.
  63. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Russia is already gearing up to meddle in the 2018 midterms, following the playbook it used in 2016. Tillerson warned the US is not “better prepared” and that Russia will adapt as well.
  64. In an interview with NBC News the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, Jeanette Manfra said, “We saw a targeting of 21 states and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated.”
  65. NBC News reported many of the states complained the federal government did not provide specific threat details. Manfra said clearances are being processed to make more sharing possible.
  66. On Thursday, George W. Bush said during his talk at an economic summit in Abu Dhabi that there is “pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled” in the 2016 US election.
  67. A poll by NBC News/SurveyMonkey found 79% of Americans are concerned our voting systems might be vulnerable to computer hackers, while just 55% say our federal government is doing enough about it.
  68. On Wednesday, the WSJ reported the Senate Intelligence Committee is drafting is a report on vulnerabilities in the US election system based on the committee’s Russia probe which is expected to be released in March.
  69. On Thursday, Fox News reported Sen. Mark Warner, ranking Democrat of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had extensive contact via texting with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch who was offering him access to Christopher Steele.
  70. Of note: last week in Week 64, Assange messaged a Twitter account he thought belonged to Fox News’ Sean Hannity offering, “Have some news about [Sen Mark] Warner.” Fox News broke the story on Warner.
  71. On Thursday, shortly after the Fox News story, Trump tweeted “Senator Mark Warner got caught having extensive contact with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch.” Russian bots were also active in attacking Warner.
  72. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, also on the Senate Intelligence Committee, tweeted in response to the Fox News story, “Sen.Warner fully disclosed this to the committee four months ago. Has had zero impact on our work.
  73. On Wednesday, Sen. Ron Johnson released a new report which included additional texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and Page. A September 2, 2016 text from Page says, “potus wants to know everything we’re doing.”
  74. Shortly after the next texts were released, Trump tweeted, “NEW FBI TEXTS ARE BOMBSHELLS!” Press secretary Sanders added the report, “further shows that there is reason for us to have great cause for concern.”
  75. Sen. Johnson asserted the text was Obama wanting to know about the Clinton email investigation, however the investigation was closed at that time. September 2 was three days before Obama confronted Putin for meddling in our election on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Hangzhou, China.
  76. On Thursday, FBI informant Douglas Campbell resurrected Uranium One, saying in a statement to three congressional committees that Russia routed $3 million through an American lobbying firm to influence Hillary and Obama.
  77. On Thursday, CBS News reported that House Intelligence Republicans will literally wall off their aides from Democratic staffers. Republicans on the committee claim to not be part of this, instead suggesting the move is by Nunes.
  78. A Marist College poll found Americans who strongly disapprove of Trump is up to 44% from 39% last month, while just 24% strongly approve.
  79. The poll also found 71% do not think the FBI is out to get Trump. Also, 55% said they would believe Mueller over Trump, compared to 30% who said the reverse.
  80. WAPO reported Christopher Steele, according to colleagues, was so concerned about what he learned from his Russia network on the Kremlin’s plans, he said “it was like “sitting on a nuclear weapon.”
  81. Steele was summoned to Rome to meet with the US intelligence. He shared that Russia had damaging information on Trump, and they planned to carry out an operation to tilt the US election, ordered by Putin.
  82. The FBI treated Steele as a peer. On Russian expertise, Steele had been sought out by the DOJ on past cases, as well as providing briefing material for British prime ministers and at least one US president.
  83. Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted then deleted a tweet celebrating a high school secretary’s $1.50/week pay increase under the GOP tax law. Ryan collected $500,000 from the Koch Brothers days after the law passed.
  84. Ryan, in turn, donated $5,000 to 143 Republican members of Congress.
  85. CNN reported under the Republican tax law, Exxon will lower its tax bill by $6 billion, as the company’s tax rate is lowered from 35% to 21%. Tillerson recused himself for one year only from matters relating to Exxon.
  86. WAPO reported according to a document released by the Treasury Department, the US government expects to borrow $955 billion in 2018 up from $519 billion last year, and the highest borrowing amount in six years.
  87. The jump in borrowing is the biggest since a spike under Reagan. The Congressional Budget Office said in a report the steep increase in borrowing is from lower tax receipts resulting from the GOP tax law.
  88. On Tuesday, the Commerce Department announced the trade gap in goods and services rose to $566 billion in 2017, the highest level since 2008.
  89. Following the sell-off Friday on the release of the Nunes memo, the global sell-off continued Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) plunging 1,175 points, the largest single-day drop in history.
  90. CNBC reported the DJIA traveled more than 20,000 points this week, the most volatility since October 2008, during the financial crisis.
  91. On Tuesday, Democrats picked up a seat in the Missouri state House of Representatives. Mike Revis, a 27-year-old, won the race by four points, in a deep-red district that Trump had won by 28 points.
  92. So far in nine 2018 special election races, Democratic candidates are running 27 points ahead of Clinton and 12 ahead of Obama. In 70 races in 2017, Democrats ran 10 points ahead of Clinton and 7 ahead of Obama.
  93. Lawfare reported, based on 103 FBI emails obtained under a FOIA request, that despite statements by Trump and Sanders, bureau employees were shocked by Comey’s firing, and were supportive of him as their leader.
  94. NYT reported FEMA awarded Tiffany Brown, an Atlanta entrepreneur and sole owner of her company with no experience in large-scale disaster relief, a $156 million contract to deliver meals for Puerto Ricans.
  95. Brown’s contract called for delivering 30 million meals. By the time 18.5 million meals were due, only 50,000 had been delivered. House Democrats have asked Rep. Gowdy to subpoena documents from FEMA.
  96. Reps. Elijah Cummings and Gerald Connolly, the Democratic leaders on the House Oversight Committee send a letter to committee chair Gowdy complaining that 13 of the 19 subpoenas put forth by Democrats have been rejected.
  97. On Friday, Sen. Tim Kaine demanded the release of a secret memo outlining Trump’s interpretation of his legal authority to wage war. Sessions was briefed on the memo last April, but Trump has yet to brief Congress.
  98. On Tuesday, the National Weather Service sent out an errant tsunami warning on Twitter to several East Coast locations. The warnings were supposed to be a test, but due to a glitch came out as an actual warning.
  99. In an op-ed, former Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub criticized the Russia probe legal defense fund set up by the Trump regime in Week 64 as “unethical” citing Trump’s ability to allocate funds and lack of visibility on donors.
  100. WAPO reported that, breaking with tradition, Trump does not read his daily intelligence reports, instead relying on oral briefings. Experts say by not reading the detailed classified info, Trump could miss detail and nuance.
  101. In the quickly shifting US media landscape, Time Inc. takeover by Meredith with funding by the Koch Brother was completed, Newsweek was in disarray after being raided by the Manhattan DA, and biotech billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong took over the LA Times.
  102. Daily Beast reported that a media startup Redfish, a Berlin-based media collective marketed as “grassroots,” is actually supported by the Kremlinand most of its in-house staff last worked for Russian government media.
  103. On Friday, at the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics in South Korea, Vice President Pence and the second lady sat stone faced while South Korean president Moon, North Korea officials and others stood together to applaud their athletes.
  104. As Pence led the US delegation, openly gay figure skater Adam Rippon told a reporter, “You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?” Rippon turned down a meeting request from Pence.
  105. On Tuesday, UK’s Daily Mail reported the two ex-wives of Trump aide Rob Porter say he was physically and emotionally abusive, and his second wife had an order of protection against him. Porter is currently dating Hope Hicks.
  106. Porter had a central role in the Trump regime, working for Kelly and as Staff Secretary, controlling the information that reached Trump, including highly classified information. On Wednesday, Kelly said “Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can’t say enough good things about him.
  107. Porter denied the allegations, but resigned on Wednesday. CNN reportedsenior aides to Trump had known about the abuse allegations for months. Trump reportedly learned of the allegations this week.
  108. Hicks did not recuse herself from the White House media strategy. A statement from Sen. Orrin Hatch was being released by the White House without his office’s knowledge as new facts came out and the senator’s office was issuing an updated statement. Porter formerly served as chief of staff to Hatch.
  109. A year into serving, Porter was unable to get permanent security clearance. Kelly and others had been aware since early fall that this was due to the FBI speaking to Porter’s ex-wives as part of routine background.
  110. Late Wednesday, reportedly after seeing photos of Porter’s first wife with a black eye, Kelly said in a statement he was “shocked” by the allegations against Porter, and “there is no place for domestic violence in our society.”
  111. On Thursday, Porter’s second ex-wife Jennifer Willoughby said she told the FBI about the abuse and protective order. She said when FBI agents asked if Porter could potentially be blackmailed, she answered, “maybe.”
  112. Intercept reported a friend of Porter tried to silence Porter’s first ex-wife Colbie Holderness by contacting her husband ahead of her FBI interview in January 2017. Holderness described her abuse in detail to the FBI, and told them she believed Porter’s history would make him easy to blackmail.
  113. On Thursday, WAPO reported that White House counsel Donald McGahn knew Porter’s ex-wives accused him of domestic violence in January 2017, but allowed him to continue as an influential aide and gatekeeper of information to Trump.
  114. McGahn’s views didn’t change in June when the FBI flagged some of its findings to the White House, or in September when he learned the domestic violence claims were delaying Porter’s security clearance, or in November when Porter’s former girlfriend contacted him about the allegations.
  115. Rep. Cummings slammed House Oversight Committee chair Gowdy in a letter for stonewalling efforts to get information on the security clearance process at the White House. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney called for an investigation of Porter.
  116. CNN reported 30 to 40 White House officials and political appointees are still operating without full security clearances, including Jared Kushner. Experts describe the backlog as unusual after more than a year in office.
  117. WAPO reported McGahn and others are hesitant to act on others not getting security clearance, because they have not taken steps on Kushner, who has access to highly classified materials including the daily briefings.
  118. On Friday, CNN reported Trump is frustrated with Hicks over her role in what has become the Porter scandal. Trump thinks Hicks let her romantic relationship cloud her judgment, and put her priorities ahead of his.
  119. WAPO reported Kelly told White House staff in a Friday morning meeting to communicate a new version of events, and to say he took action to remove Porter within 40 minutes of learning abuse allegations were credible.
  120. This version contradicts reporting and accounts of numerous White House officials who say Kelly knew about the allegations for months. Kelly also told his staff to convey to other White House aides that he cares about domestic violence.
  121. On Friday, Trump told reporters he was “very sad” about Porter’s departure and “we wish him well.” Trump did not express any sympathy for Porter’s victims, instead adding Porter “says he’s innocent.
  122. WAPO’s Jennifer Rubin noted Trump has yet to put forth a nominee for the DOJ’s director for the office of violence against women, nor has he named a White House adviser for violence against women, a position created by Obama.
  123. The House voted to change decades-old procedures handling reports of sexual harassment and assault accusations. The bill still has to pass through the Senate and Trump. Eight lawmakers have resigned or said they will not seek re-election since the start of #MeToo.
  124. Changes include a rule that lawmakers cannot have sexual relations with their staff, a new office will help guide victims, taxpayers will no longer pay lawmakers’ legal bills, and non-disclosure statements will no longer be required.
  125. In an interview with Bloomberg, Bannon warned Trump the “anti-patriarchy movement” is going to dramatically alter the power structure in the US, adding “I think it’s going to unfold like the tea party, only bigger.”
  126. On Friday, Rachel Brand, the third-highest-ranking official at the DOJ, a department under constant attack by Trump, resigned to take a position at Walmart. Brand was confirmed for the position just nine months ago.
  127. Brand would have been next in line to oversee the Mueller investigation if Trump fires Rosenstein, renewing concerns Trump will move to end the Mueller probe. Trump appointee Noel Francisco is now next in line.
  128. On Friday, Kelly’s deputy chief of staff, Jim Carroll, announced he will leave the White House to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Reportedly, the resignation was planned prior to the Porter scandal.
  129. Carroll is the third deputy chief of staff to resign in the first 13 months since Trump took office. Late Friday, the NYT reported Kelly has offered to resign over the Porter scandal.
  130. On Friday WAPO reported that a second White House staffer, David Sorensen, a speechwriter for Stephen Miller, resigned amid allegations by his ex-wife, Jessica Corbett, that he was physically and emotionally abusive.
  131. Corbett first contacted the Post after Porter’s case became public. Corbett said she detailed her domestic abuse allegations to an FBI agent in October 2017, as part of Sorensen’s background check process.
  132. NYT reported US spies paid a $100,000 down-payment in Berlin in September 2017 to a Russian who promised to deliver stolen NSA cyberweapons as well as compromising information on Trump.
  133. Reportedly the Russian handed over data in October and December, but all was related to the 2016 election and alleged ties between Trump and Russia, not the NSA or CIA hacking tools. The CIA then cut ties.
  134. Intercept further reported Trump appointee CIA director Mike Pompeo was at times reluctant to stay involved in the operation, fearing the information obtained from the Russians would be Trump-related material.
  135. Some sources claim that the CIA has become so politicized under Pompeo, agents fear taking in materials that could be damaging to Trump, and also fear Trump’s blowback on their agencies and firing senior officials.
  136. Late Friday, Trump announced he will not allow the Democrats’ rebuttal memo to be declassified and released. McGahn said in a letter the memo contains “numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages.”
  137. On Saturday, Trump tweeted he did not release the memo because it is “very political and long.” Sen. Dianne Feinstein called it “hypocrisy at its worst” adding she has read the classified materials and the Nunes memo is “misleading.”
  138. On Saturday, again following his pattern of supporting men accused of assault, Trump tweeted “lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” adding, “some are true and some are false.”
DCIM100GOPROGOPR7815.
Sticker on trash bin in Manhattan, NYC. 9feb18

IMG_8346

IMG_8279
Artist SacSix in NYC. feb2018

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 59: “TAX CHEATO PRES”

IMG_6966
Photo by NYC-based photographer Kenny Vena at an anti-tax bill protest in NYC this past week.

Week 58 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

December 23, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-58-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-bb64d0f18ee6

This week Trump and the Republicans passed their first piece of major legislation, violating many democratic norms in the process: a wildly unpopular tax plan, which will massively redistribute wealth akin to an oligarchy. Polling shows the Republican Party could face a tsunami in 2018 as voters, especially women and voters under 35, are fleeing the party under Trump.

This week the Trump regime escalated their attacks on Mueller, the FBI, and the DOJ, seeking to discredit the probe and these institutions. The country braced for the very real possibility that Trump could fire Mueller, or replace Jeff Sessions or Rod Rosenstein as a way to do so indirectly. Many voices voiced concern about broken norms and our eroding democracy.

  1. On Saturday, Axios reported Mueller has obtained tens of thousands of emails from 12 members of Trump’s transition team. The Trump regime discovered Mueller had the emails based on questions posed to witnesses.
  2. Kory Langhofer, counsel for the transition team, sent letters to House and Senate committees claiming Mueller unlawfully obtained “tens of thousands of emails” from the General Services Administration.
  3. The special counsel dismissed the claim, saying they obtained the emails in the course the criminal investigation, and secured them with “either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process.”
  4. On Sunday, as Trump returned to the WH and was asked about Mueller obtaining the emails, he responded, “my people are very upset,” adding, “and as we said, there’s no collusion. There’s no collusion whatsoever.”
  5. WAPO reported Trump’s lawyers are set to meet with Mueller’s team this week. His lawyers have assured Trump the probe will wrap up by January or so, and they will ask Mueller what he needs to conclude the probe.
  6. Trump advisers reportedly said he is not considering firing Mueller, but has been sharply critical of Sessions and Rosenstein. Trump has ranted about Rosenstein being “a Democrat” when, in fact, he is a Republican.
  7. On Monday, WAPO further reported that despite Trump lawyers’ assurances, the Mueller probe could last at least another year. Mueller’s team continues to request new documents related to the campaign.
  8. On Sunday, the Kremlin was the first to share that Putin called Trump to thank him for sharing intelligence which thwarted a terrorist bomb plot in St. Petersburg. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later confirmed the call.
  9. This was the second time Trump and Putin have spoken in the past three days, and both calls were first made public by Russian sources. Trump’s Oval Office meeting in Week 26 was also reported by Russian sources.
  10. The WH released an odd readout of the call between Trump and Putin. It ishighly unusual for leaders to publicly disclose sharing intelligence information, or to publicly thank each other.
  11. Former DNI James Clapper told CNN the exchanges between Putin and Trump are “illustrative of what a great case officer Vladimir Putin is. He knows how to handle an asset, and that’s what he’s doing” with Trump.
  12. An AP-NORC poll found that 63% of Americans believe Trump tried to “impede or obstruct” the investigation into whether his campaign had ties to Russia.
  13. Pew Research found 60% of Americans say Trump has made race relations worse in the US, while 8% say he has been them better.
  14. Susan Bro, mother of slain Charlottesville heroine Heather Heyer, said she has had to hide her daughter’s grave because of hostility from neo-Nazis: “It’s a symptom of hate in society…I’m protecting my child now.”
  15. Jayda Fransen, a leader of far-right Britain First, whose anti-Muslim tweet was retweeted by Trump in Week 55, was suspended from Twitter as part of the social network’s efforts to crack down on hate speech.
  16. A federal judge in PA blocked the Trump regime’s rules which made it easier for employers to deny insurance coverage for birth control, saying the ACA has no statutory language allowing such “sweeping exemptions.”
  17. A second federal judge halted the Trump administration’s rollback of Obamacare birth control coverage. The CA ruling focused on the fact the regime issued interim final rules without a chance for the public to submit comment.
  18. LA Times reported Scott Lloyd, the anti-abortion activist who heads Trump’s refugee resettlement program, again unsuccessfully tried to block an undocumented teen from getting an abortion: a 17-year-old rape victim, “Jane Poe.”
  19. Trump’s DOJ plans to fight the issue of whether underage detainees have a right to access abortion, hoping to have the Supreme Court hear the case. Sessions said of losing the Jane Poe case, “We’re disturbed about it.”
  20. On Thursday, a federal court denied the Trump regime’s efforts to delay accepting transgender recruits into the military. Three judges have ruled the ban cannot go into effect while the case works through the courts.
  21. On Friday, an appeals court ruled against Trump’s travel ban 3.0, saying Trump has exceeded his authority in issuing the directive. The ruling won’t have an immediate effect due to a Supreme Court stay.
  22. LA Times reported Customs and Border Protection has awarded a division of Accenture with a $297 million contract to help recruit and hire the new agents and other workers as staffing levels continue to fall.
  23. NPR reported the Organization for Competitive Markets, a small-farmers think tank based in NE, filed a lawsuit against Trump’s USDA for rolling back two Obama-era rules which protected small farmers.
  24. Despite Trump’s promises to protect steel workers, steel imports have soared under Trump (some coming from Trump insiders and Russia per The Weekly List), and layoffs are coming.
  25. The Education Department announced it will slash debt relief for students defrauded by their colleges, which Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said will “protect taxpayers.” Under Obama, defrauded students were given complete loan forgiveness.
  26. In a boon to offshore drillers, the Trump regime concluded that the “incidental” killings of about 1,000 bird species are not illegal, reversing an Obama-era policy under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
  27. WSJ reported the Trump regime reversed an Obama-era decision, granting a mining lease to Andrónico Luksic, a Chilean billionaire who is currently renting a mansion he bought in 2016 outside DC to Ivanka and Kushner.
  28. Rick Dearborn, deputy chief of staff and one of Trump’s top aides, will step down early next year to pursue private sector work. Dearborn is the latest high-profile West Wing departure in recent weeks.
  29. A federal judge ordered Trump’s Election Integrity Committee to turn over documents to one of its Democratic commissioners, Matthew Dunlap, who says he has not received information since a September 12 public meeting.
  30. Sun Sentinel reported as Trump heads back to Mar-A-Lago, his “Winter White House” for the holidays, the Trump regime continues to thwart requests under the FOIA to publicly release visitor logs.
  31. Trump’s HHS defended its decision to hide public comments on a proposal that could affect access to abortion and care for transgender patients. HHS received 10,729 comments on its proposal and has only posted 80 so far.
  32. Sources say the HHS hand-picked the 80 comments posted, and almost all of them back the Trump regime’s policies or attack regulations advanced by the Obama administration. The move could lead to legal challenges.
  33. On Sunday, the CDC director insisted there are “no banned words” at the agency. The NYT reported eliminating these words was meant to be a technique to help secure Republican approval of the 2019 budget.
  34. WAPO reported Trump’s WH took down “We the People,” a popular online tool created by the Obama administration to create online petitions. Petitions with over 100K signatures required an official response.
  35. All active petitions, including the most popular petition calling on Trump to release his tax returns, with over one million signatures, disappeared. The regime cited a maintenance effort to improve website performance.
  36. On Thursday, Sessions’ DOJ revoked 25 guidance documents dating back to 1975. The documents interpreted and explained a wide range of federal laws, from accommodating people with disabilities to voting rights.
  37. Also revoked was an Obama-era DOJ letter that asked local courts nationwide to be wary of slapping poor defendants with hefty fines for local revenue. Sessions said all the guidance documents overreached.
  38. Matthew Petersen, a Trump nominee to the federal judiciary who in Week 57 struggled to answer basic legal questions posed by Senators, became the third Trump judicial pick to withdraw in the past 10 days.
  39. The other two were Brett Talley also withdrew in Week 57, and Jeffrey Mateer, whose homophobic statements became public, including calling same-sex marriage “disgusting” and likening it to polygamy and bestiality.
  40. Two Republicans joined Democrats to block Trump’s nominee to lead the Export-Import Bank, Scott Garrett. As a member of Congress, Garrett was a critic of the Export-Import Bank and voted twice to eliminate it.
  41. Through a FOIA request, Motherboard obtained FCC internal reports which show the FCC investigated the Congressional Republican allegation that net neutrality was an Obama-led takeover of the internet.
  42. The internal probe by the Inspector General found this claim, the premise for rescinding net neutrality, to be false. The findings were not made public prior to last Thursday’s 3–2 vote.
  43. The Hill reported the EPA paid $3K in March for a company to do a “sweep for covert/illegal surveillance devices” of EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s office. Pruitt also has 24-hour security detail and a secure phone booth in his office.
  44. ProPublica and NYT reported on a mass exodus from the EPA: more than 700 under Trump, including over 200 scientists, have left the agency.Dozens of environmental rules have been either opened for reconsideration or overturned.
  45. One example is the effluent rule, which the EPA is about to overturn, overruling science and prevailing industry practices to benefit a few coal-fired power plants that were having trouble meeting the new standards.
  46. AP reported on the EPA’s Superfund Task Force created by Pruitt in May. In June, the task force issued a report containing 42 detailed recommendations, all of which Pruitt immediately adopted.
  47. The task force was led by a political donor to Pruitt who has no environmental experience. Information released under a FOIA request shows the task force generated no record of its deliberations.
  48. On Monday, Trump outlined his National Security Strategy, again evoking a dystopian worldview and zero-sum game relating to allies. The strategy drew wide condemnation from experts and former NSA Susan Rice.
  49. WAPO Editorial Board issued a scathing rebuke titled, “Trump’s National Security Strategy isn’t much of a strategy at all,” noting inconsistencies, contrast to his actual approach, and noting Trump may not have read it.
  50. Crain’s reported the Trump Organization fell steeply in their rankings of the largest privately held New York companies, from number 3 last year to number 40 this year.
  51. Crain’s also noted the market for Trump-branded apartments in New York City is cooling fast: the price per square foot in Trump Tower has dropped 23% and Trump Tower on Central Park is down 24% since 2015.
  52. On Saturday, Fox News escalated the anti-Mueller rhetoric. Host Jesse Watters said, “we may now have proof the investigation was weaponized to destroy his presidency,” and “if that’s true, we have a coup on our hands.”
  53. In that same interview, as Kellyanne Conway spoke to Watters, the chyron on the screen read, “A COUP IN AMERICA?” Both were referring to Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who were removed from the special counsel investigation.
  54. On Saturday, Rep. Jim Jordan told Fox News he’s gotten a commitment from Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, to subpoena top officials at the FBI and DOJ in their inquiry into claims of bias against Trump.
  55. On Tuesday, Kevin Jackson, a guest co-host on Fox News suggested the FBI agents who sent anti-Trump text messages may have planned to kill Trumpafter the he defeated Hillary Clinton last November.
  56. On Tuesday, Donald Jr. told young conservatives in FL that FBI investigators are conspiring against Trump, “there are people at the highest levels of government that don’t want to let America be America.”
  57. On Wednesday, Politico reported a group of House Republicans, led by Rep. Devin Nunes, have been secretly meeting for weeks to build a case against senior officials at the DOJ and FBI for mishandling contents of the dossier.
  58. Their product could be used by Republicans to discredit the Mueller investigation, or to justify his dismissal. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee were not informed, although committee documents are being used.
  59. A WSJ/NBC News poll found American’s view on Mueller has become less favorable, with a net positive of 7 points in December, down from 13 point in June. The net decrease came from a shift in Republican sentiment.
  60. Chris Christie, who served as chairman for Trump’s transition team, told MSNBC Kushner deserves scrutiny for his involvement in the Russia meetings. Christie also defended Mueller, saying he is “an honest guy,” who “will do an honest, fair investigation.”
  61. In a pair of letters, 22 former US attorneys and 22 Republican and conservative officials pushed back against efforts to discredit Mueller, saying his team must be allowed to continue its work.
  62. NBC News reported in the weeks ahead of his first high-level intelligence briefing on August 17, Trump was warned by the FBI that foreign adversaries, including Russia, would likely try to spy on or infiltrate his campaign.
  63. Hillary got a similar warning. Both candidates were urged to alert the FBI to any suspicious overtures. The Trump campaign did not report overtures; although the FBI had started to investigate Trump campaign-Russia contacts.
  64. After the FBI warning, Donald Jr. exchanged Twitter messages with WikiLeaks in September. In October, US intelligence accused WikiLeaks of acting as an agent in Russia’s covert operation to interfere in the election.
  65. Bloomberg reported Mueller is looking at Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative, a foundation which claims to be about Russian adoption, but instead appears to be a lobbying vehicle against Russian sanctions.
  66. The foundation was financed by $500K in donations from wealthy Russians. A woman who contacted the foundation met with Rinat Akhmetshin, a former Soviet intel officer who attended the June 9 Trump Tower meeting.
  67. Akhmetshin asked the woman who her member of Congress was, so he could make an approach on her behalf. He also assured her, “things would change” after the upcoming elections.
  68. BuzzFeed reported the Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Jill Stein’s campaign to turn over documents. Stein attended a dinner in Moscow, along with Michael Flynn, hosted by RT in 2015. Both sat at Putin’s table.
  69. Foreign Policy reported WH counsel Don McGahn was looking into whether Flynn violated federal laws in the very first days of Trump taking office, according to confidential government documents.
  70. According to sources, McGahn researched federal law dealing with both lying to federal investigators and the Logan Act, and concluded Flynn possibly violated one or both. McGahn turned his records over to Mueller.
  71. Reince Priebus told “Meet the Press” on February 19 that Trump did not fire Flynn earlier because “the legal department came back and said that they didn’t see anything wrong.” Records given to Mueller’s team contradict this.
  72. Gizmodo reported days before Flynn’s conversations with Sergey Kislyak,members of Trump’s transition team made inquiries to the director of national intelligence’s office about ways to encrypt Flynn’s conversations.
  73. Internal conversations made public through a FOIA reveal that a messaging app called Signal, which allows users to exchange messages that can self-destruct, was recommended to the transition team. It is unclear if Signal was used.
  74. The next day, Flynn attended a secret meeting at Trump Tower with Kislyak and Kushner. Kislyak later reported to Moscow that they discussed establishing a secret and secure communication channel.
  75. Reuters reported Venezuela awarded licenses to a unit of Russian state-oil company Rosneft to develop two offshore gas fields. Rosneft’s CEO also discussed cooperation with Venezuelan state energy company PDVSA.
  76. In Week 25, Citgo, whose parent company is PDVSA, was represented by Trump insider Corey Lewandowski, and per Week 26, made a $500K donation to Trump’s inauguration.
  77. AP reported Russian hacking group Fancy Bear targeted 200 journalists, publishers and bloggers from 2014 until recently, providing new evidence to US intelligence that Russia intervened in the US election to help Trump.
  78. Bloomberg reported a late-added perk in the Republican tax plan is a windfall for real estate developers like Trump. Sen. Bob Corker, who changed his vote to yes and is a real estate investor, said he was unaware of the change.
  79. On Tuesday a WSJ/NBC News poll found support for the Republican tax plan has fallen to 24%, while 41% believe it’s a bad idea.
  80. The poll also found 63% of Americans say the plan was designed to help corporations and the wealthy, and just 7% say it helps the middle class.
  81. On Tuesday, the House passed the Republican tax bill, but because the version violated three provision of the Senate’s Byrd Rule, the vote was nullified and the House was forced to re-vote on Wednesday
  82. On Wednesday, the Senate and House passed the Republican tax bill, ahistorically unpopular piece of legislation, while breaking norms including not holding hearings or waiting for Doug Jones from AL to be seated.
  83. Guardian reported their analysis shows Trump will save up to $15 million under the bill, Kushner will save up to $12 million, and cabinet members Wilbur Ross, Linda McMahon, Betsy DeVos, Steven Mnuchin, and Rex Tillerson will save millions.
  84. After passage of the GOP tax bill, FiveThirtyEight reported House Republicans are in a historically poor position (-12.2), which could turn a November 2018 blue wave into a flood.
  85. In celebrating passage of the Republican tax plan, Trump falsely claimed he had “repealed Obamacare,” a key promise he made as a candidate.
  86. Almost nine million Americans signed up for Obamacare, close to 2016 levels despite the Trump regime cutting the enrollment period in half, not advertising, and other steps cited in The Weekly List to hobble sign-ups.
  87. On Tuesday, an Amtrak train derailed in WA. Trump said the derailment was “more reason why we must immediately start fixing the infrastructure of the US.” Trump’s 2018 budget cuts the Amtrak budget by $630 million.
  88. Breitbart EIC Alex Marlow told CNN his website tried to discredit sexual assault allegations against Moore to protect Trump: “it’s not just about Judge Moore…It’s about what’s coming next for President Trump.”
  89. Roy Moore has not conceded last Tuesday’s race. In a video, Moore said “immorality sweeps our land,” and “abortion, sodomy and materialism have taken the place of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
  90. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello ordered that every death on the island since Hurricane Maria be reviewed. While the “official” death count is 64, NYT, Vox and Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism have all estimated the actual count is closer to one-thousand.
  91. Center for Investigative Journalism reported the US Army Corps of Engineers hired only one company, Xperts, to collect the majority of Puerto Rico’s hurricane debris. In several municipalities, clean up has not begun.
  92. NPR reported Refugees International, a human rights organization, issued a scathing report on the US response in Puerto Rico, calling it “uncoordinated and poorly implemented,” and saying it prolonged the “humanitarian emergency.”
  93. Puerto Rico was hit hard in the Republican tax bill, which treats companies there the same as those operating outside the US, subjecting them to a tax of up to 12.5% percent on intellectual property.
  94. Saying the Republican tax bill could hobble their economy which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria, Rossello vowed revenge in the midterm elections by mobilizing 5.3 million Puerto Ricans living on the mainland.
  95. On Monday, NBC News reported senior Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are preparing to wrap up their Russia probe in the coming weeks, saying Democrats just want to prolong things.
  96. Business Insider reported the House Intelligence Committee has issued only one subpoena to a financial firm in eleven months, and not Deutsche Bank as Democrats requested. Nunes has subpoenaed Fusion GPS’s bank.
  97. On Tuesday, the House Intelligence Committee grilled FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe for nearly eight hours behind closed doors. Fox News’scoverage was critical, saying McCabe drew blanks on Democrats’ funding of the dossier.
  98. CNN reported McCabe told the House Intelligence Committee that Comey informed him of conversations he had with Trump soon after they occurred, suggesting McCabe could corroborate Comey’s account.
  99. Ahead of his committee’s interview of McCabe, Rep. Elijah Cummings said, “This is a fight for the soul of our democracy. Nothing less. I’m going to work hard to make sure we save that democracy and I will fight until I die.
  100. Washington Examiner reported “frustrated” lawmakers pressed McCabe on the dossier. McCabe said dossier met the FBI’s standards of credibility to open an investigation, but would not say which parts had been verified.
  101. On Wednesday, Sen. Mark Warner took to the Senate floor and warned of a “red line” if Trump moves to fire Mueller directly or indirectly, saying this could “provoke a constitutional crisis,” adding “no one, no one is above the law.”
  102. Warner also warned against Trump issuing pardons. Warner told reporters he spoke out before holiday break because he sees a “coordinate effort to undermine Mueller, and in many ways more broadly even the FBI.”
  103. On Friday, WAPO reported the FBI’s top lawyer, James Baker, is being reassigned. Baker was investigated in a leak probe, but has been cleared. Baker, like McCabe, is one of the senior FBI officials Comey confided in.
  104. Late Friday, Politico reported, according to GOP sources, Baker was in touch with David Corn of Mother Jones in fall 2016. Corn was the first US journalist to report on the dossier. Corn said Baker was not a source.
  105. Sally Yates penned a widely-read op-ed saying our country has “reach an inflection point,” our core values and democratic institutions are at stake, and it is time to “decide who we are as a country and what we stand for.”
  106. On Wednesday, at a cabinet meeting, Trump threatened to cut off American aid for countries who vote for an UN resolution condemning his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
  107. UN ambassador Nikki Haley also issued a stern warning, tweeting to UN members that the US is “taking names” on the vote. Haley also sent a letter to several UN members ahead of the vote.
  108. On Thursday, former CIA director John Brennan slammed Trump’s threat to retaliate, tweeting Trump “expects blind loyalty and subservience from everyone — qualities usually found in narcissistic, vengeful autocrats.”
  109. On Thursday, in a rebuke to Trump, the UN General Assembly voted 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions, passing a resolution demanding Trump rescind his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
  110. On Friday, Haley invited the 65 countries that voted no, abstained, or did not cast a ballot to a reception as a “thank you for your friendship to the United States” on January 3, 2018.
  111. Meredith, the company that purchased Time Inc. with backing from the Koch brothers, said the iconic Time Inc. name may be retired.
  112. Esquire reported how Murdoch’s WSJ has increasingly become more Trump-friendly, leading to departures of top talent. The Journal recently killed a story on Trump’s mob ties on the editorial page.
  113. Foreign Policy reported Jennifer Newstead, Trump’s pick for top State Department legal advisor, acknowledged Saudi Arabia could be violating US and international law by restricting the flow of humanitarian aid in Yemen.
  114. Mother Jones reported Definers, the overtly partisan PR firm which was awarded a $120K no-bid EPA contract in Week 57 for to perform opposition research on the media, has pulled out of the deal.
  115. Foreign Policy reported Dan Meyer, the ED of Intelligence Community Whistleblowing and Source Protection, was escorted out of his office, pending a tribunal. Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley demanded to know why.
  116. NY Daily News reported a law firm which represented Kushner’s real estate company in dozens of eviction and housing court cases is suing the company for over $100K of unpaid legal fees.
  117. On Friday, NYT reported the US attorney’s office in the Eastern District of NY subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for records relating to hundreds of millions of dollars of loans to the Kushner family real estate business.
  118. The Deutsche Bank subpoena is not related to the Mueller investigation.Kushner Companies also received inquiries from Brooklyn prosecutors about its use of the EB-5 visa program to finance two NJ projects.
  119. CDC director Brenda Fitzgerald faced scrutiny from Senate Democrats on her ability to perform her duties, having pledged not to conduct government business where she has financial interests, including cancer and opioids.
  120. Several states announced their Children Health Insurance Funding (CHIP) monies would run out at year-end. On Thursday, Congress finally passed a short-term fix which allows the program to run through March 2018.
  121. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Trump considered rescinding Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination, questioning his loyalty after Gorsuch said he found Trump’s attacks on the federal judiciary “disheartening” and “demoralizing.”
  122. On Wednesday, Trump hosted a cabinet meeting. Similar to a cabinet meeting in Week 31, Trump’s cabinet took turns praising him after Trump started the meeting with 12 minutes of boasting to the press.
  123. Pence praised Trump for nearly three minutes, offering 14 commendations — one every 12 seconds — on Trump’s words, his strategy and his results in light of the passage of tax cuts.
  124. Following the cabinet meeting, the WH issued a statement, “Cabinet Meeting Marks Tremendous Year of Progress,” citing the praise for Trump by every cabinet member.
  125. On Thursday, NBC News reported on order by Sessions, DOJ prosecutors have begun asking FBI agents for information on the now dormant criminal investigation of the Clintons and the Uranium One deal.
  126. DOJ prosecutors have asked FBI agents if there was any improper effort to squash a prosecution. A DOJ official told NBC News this was prompted by allegations from Congressional Republicans that the case was mishandled.
  127. Trump has also frequently tweeted and mentioned the Uranium One case, imploring Sessions and the DOJ to investigate. WAPO gave Trump’s repeated allegations against Hillary’s role “Four Pinocchios.”
  128. A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit alleging Trump violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause, ruling the plaintiffs, led by CREW, lacked standing to bring the case, saying it was up to Congress.
  129. On Friday, Bloomberg reported the House Intelligence Committee sent voluntary invitations to Bannon and Lewandowski to be interviewed behind closed doors as part of the committee’s Russia investigation.
  130. WAPO reported the presidential coin has undergone a makeover: the national motto, “E pluribus unum” — Latin for “out of many, one” — will be replace with “Make America Great Again,” now on both sides of the coin.
  131. Peter Hoekstra, US ambassador to the Netherlands, was asked by a Dutch reporter why he said there are “no go” areas in the Netherlands where radical Muslims are setting cars and politicians on fire. Hoekstra responded, “That’s fake news, I never said that,” and then the reporter showed him the clip where he’d discussed the zones.
  132. NYT reported on a June WH meeting where Trump was furious so many non-white immigrants had entered our country since January. Reportedly Trump said his friends were calling to say he looked like a fool.
  133. Of 15K from Haiti, Trump said they “all have AIDS.” Of 40K from Nigeria, Trump said once they had seen the US, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa. Trump, John Kelly, and Stephen Miller blamed Tillerson for the inflow of immigrants.
IMG_6036
at Art Basel in Wynwood, Miami, FL, Dec2017
IMG_5079
“Trumputin” by artist Tee Pop in Miami, FL Dec2017
IMG_5009
Lady Pink’s wall in Wynwood Walls in Miami, FL Dec2017
IMG_6086
artist @Lucrative_Nova in Miami, FL Dec2107

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 57: BAMBI SAYS “IMPEACH TRUMP”

Week 56 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-56-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-b1bf0c786d9f

December 9, 2017

This week, as Trump’s lawyers sought to maneuver around two unfolding stories that could engulf the regime — obstruction of justice and Mueller’s Deutsche Bank subpoena — Trump made radical, devastating moves. Trump forcefully backed an accused pedophile, signed off on the largest elimination of protected land in US history, and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — all while he continued to disparage the FBI, DOJ, and our free press.

Almost a year into office, Trump’s popularity continues to fall, and he has yet to move forward beyond campaign rhetoric. As his inner-circle continues to shrink, Trump takes actions which move our country towards isolationism, corruption, and kleptocracy.

The growing #MeToo movement of accountability for sexual misconduct led to the first political resignations this week. More are expected, as the drumbeat for accountability for Trump’s past actions grows louder.

Lots of art expressing dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs in the USA at this year’s Art Basel in Wynwood, Miami, FL. Dec2017

In his Saturday tweet, Trump claimed he knew Michael Flynn lied to Vice President Pence and the FBI. When Trump fired Flynn, he had only cited the lie to Pence.

On Sunday, in a tweet, Trump denied pressuring James Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Trump lawyer John Dowd claimed he drafted the Saturday tweet, and made a mistake about Trump’s knowing Flynn lied to the FBI.

On Monday, Dowd told Axios, a president cannot obstruct justice “because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.”

WAPO reported 16 Republicans are on the record as saying a president can obstruct justice, including Jeff Sessions who said as senator on President Clinton, “such acts are high crimes, and equal justice requires that he forfeit his office.”

On Sunday, Diane Feinstein, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told “Meet the Press” of her committee’s work, “I think what we’re beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice.”

On Sunday, Billy Bush issued an op-ed, saying despite Trump’s denials in Week 55 that it wasn’t his voice on the “Access Hollywood” tape, Trump did say, “Grab ’em by the pussy,” in front of Bush and seven other men.

Bush also said he was highly critical of a Trump’s candidacy, recalling Trump had told him off-camera, “People will just believe you. You just tell them and they believe you.”

The Atlantic reported after the “Access Hollywood” tape, Pence considered a coup to take the spot on the top of the ticket. Karen Pence was disgusted according to an aide: “She finds him reprehensible — just totally vile.”

NYT reported on emails among top officials in Trump’s transition team show Flynn was not acting alone, but rather was in close touch with other senior officials during his conversations with Sergey Kislyak on Russian sanctions.

On December 29, K.T. McFarland emailed a colleague that Obama’s Russia sanctions were a way to discredit Trump’s victory, and make cooperation with Russia “which has just thrown the U.S.A. election to him,” harder.

Her email was sent to Tom Bossert, Trump’s Homeland Security Advisor, who then forwarded the email chain on to six other Trump advisers including Flynn, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, and Sean Spicer.

On Monday, Sen. Cory Booker said he was concerned McFarland might have given “false testimony” to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in her answers about being aware of contact between Flynn and Kislyak.

When Booker asked McFarland in writing last July if she had ever spoke to Flynn about his contact with Kislyak , she had answered in writing, “I am not aware of any of the issues or events described above.”

On Tuesday, Democrats placed a hold on McFarland’s nomination to be ambassador to Singapore, pending her answering questions about her knowledge of communications between Flynn and Kislyak.

On Sunday, Newsweek reported Jared Kushner failed to disclose his role as a co-director of the Charles and Seryl Kushner Foundation, at a time the group funded an illegal Israeli settlement, on his financial records with the Office of Government Ethics.

On Sunday, Trump sent a series of tweets disparaging the DOJ and FBI, criticizing the agencies for not going after his political enemy Hillary, and saying the FBI, after being run by Comey “is in Tatters — worst in History!”

Comey, Sally Yates, and Eric Holder defended the FBI in tweets of their own. The FBI director sent an email to agents supporting them, saying he is “inspired by example after example of professionalism and dedication to justice.”

On Monday, the DOJ agreed to allow the House Intel Committee to interview a key FBI employee who served as the contact to Christopher Steele. The agreement comes after a public spat started by Rep. Devin Nunes and flamed by Trump.

Nunes and Trump had publicly accused the DOJ of stymieing the House investigation. In reality, the DOJ met with Nunes and his staffers, and they were given access to highly classified materials for the past two months.

NYT reported Trump’s catchphrase, “fake news,” is being used being used in Myanmar to justify ethnic cleansing. An officer in Rakhine’s state security ministry said of accusations, “It is fake news.”

On Monday, the Supreme Court allowed the third version of Trump’s Travel Ban to take effect while legal challenges against it continue. This victory allows the regime to enforce restrictions against eight countries, six of which are predominantly Muslim.

The NAACP urged Trump to not attend the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum on Saturday, saying Trump’s attendance would be an “affront” to the movement commemorated by the museum.

On Thursday, Rep. John Lewis said he would not participate in the opening because of Trump’s presence, saying “Trump’s attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum.”

On Friday, the WH announced Trump will not speak at the public ceremony for the opening of the Mississippi’s Civil Rights Museum, but rather will participate in a separate private event.

On Friday, Trump ally Rep. Steve King tweeted, “Diversity is not our strength,” citing Hungarian PM Orban who said, “Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one.”

WAPO reported more than a half-dozen technology experts and former national security officials filed a brief to halt Trump’s Election Integrity Commission from collecting of voter information for a database.

Experts cite concerns the proposed voter database could be hacked by foreign adversaries. In Week 32, a Republican data firm left personal information on nearly 200 million voters unprotected online in 2016.

In Kansas, the home state of Kris Kobach, the vice-chair of Trump’s Election Integrity Commission, 23 disabled Americans lost their voting rights in the November 2017 election because Kobach’s SAFE Act was instituted.

On Thursday, Trump hosted a Hanukkah reception at the WH, but failed to invite the Jewish Congressional Democrats.

On Sunday, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the US is walking away from UN migration and refugee pact, saying it “contains numerous provisions that are inconsistent” with US policies.

McClatchy reported despite Trump’s vow not make any deals with foreign government entities while he serves, a construction company owned in part by the governments of Saudi Arabia and South Korea will build a Trump resort in Indonesia. This is the second violation.

The Trump regime closed the Community Resilience Panel for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems, a group created by Obama in 2015 to help local officials protect against extreme weather and natural disasters.

Intercept reported Trump’s WH is considering set a of proposals developed by Erik Prince and a retired CIA officer to provide the CIA and WH with a global, private spy network that would circumvent official US intelligence.

The plan is being pitch as a way to counter “deep state” enemies in the intelligence community out to get Trump. Director Mike Pompeo allegedly does not trust the CIA bureaucracy, but this group would report just directly to him.

On Monday, the Department of Labor reversed Obama-era restrictions on tip-pooling, which allows employers to combine servers’ tips and share them with “back of the house” employees, such as cooks and dishwashers.

Nike, the Trump Organization’s biggest tenant in a single space, is vacating its iconic Niketown flagship store at 6 East 57th Street in NY. Trump’s political rhetoric played a role in the company’s decision.

On Thursday, the Trump regime rolled back an Obama-era rule which required trains carrying highly explosive liquids to install electronically controlled pneumatic brakes by 2021, to help prevent fiery train wrecks.

Reuters reported in a reversal from an Obama-era policy to prevent bank examiners from becoming sympathetic, Trump’s US Comptroller, Joseph Otting, said he would allow examiners to work in-house at banks.

On Thursday, the House Ethics Committee said Nunes had not violated laws or congressional rules on disclosing classified information, leaving Nunes free to resume his leadership of the House Intel Committee Russia probe.

Reuters reported DNI Dan Coats revealed tighter restrictions in a new “unmasking” policy. Critics fear the order would infringe on the political independence of the intelligence, and endanger work with allies.

Sessions’ DOJ moved to investigate Planned Parenthood, sending a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee requesting documents from the committee’s investigation of Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue practices.

As part of Betsy DeVos’s changes to campus sexual assault policy, a House Republican higher education bill would allow colleges to delay or suspend their internal investigations if police or prosecutors ask them to do so.

POLITICO reported Ryan Zinke’s travel logs obtained under the FOIA show he spent more than $14K on government helicopters last summer for he and his staff to attend DC events, and to horseback ride with Pence.

Dina Powell, Trump’s deputy national security adviser, and a driving force behind Trump’s Middle East policy, is departing after serving one year. In Week 55, numerous departures from Trump’s WH are expected.

LA Times reported Mick Mulvaney is moving quickly to make changes at the CFPB, an agency he had criticized. He has installed some of his aides into bureau positions and is reviewing legal actions against financial firms.

Deputy director Leandra English continued her legal battle, and on Friday, 18 state Attorneys General signed on to the lawsuit challenging Trump’s appointment of Mulvaney as acting director.

Trump hit his lowest approval numbers in a new Pew Research poll, which found 32% approve. Trump is more unpopular than any modern-day leader at this point in his tenure.

WSJ reported although Chief of Staff John Kelly has established protocols for communicating with and having access to Trump within the WH, Trump has found loopholes to circumvent those protocols.

Trump calls WH aides to the private residence in the evening, where he makes assignments and tells aides not to tell Kelly — or he goes off-schedule to make calls. Contacts also reach out to him through Melania.

On Monday, Trump signed proclamations drastically shrinking two Utah monuments: Bears Ears National Monument by more than 80%, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by roughly 45%.

Zinke introduced Trump, saying, “Our public land is for the public to use and not special interests. This is about giving rural America a voice.”

Outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia said it planned to sue Trump, as the company’s home page read: “The President Stole Your Land,” adding, “This is the largest elimination of protected land in American history.”

Native American tribes and several environmental groups also filed suits. Outdoor clothing retailer REI’s home page read, “We Love Our Public Lands,” with an accompanying statement.

On Friday, the Twitter account for the House Committee on Natural Resources tweeted a meme: “Patagonia Is Lying to You. A corporate giant hijacking our public lands debate to sell more products to wealthy elitists…”

WAPO reported uranium company, Energy Fuels Resources played a major role in lobbying Zinke and his staff to shrink the Bear Ears National Monument, saying it would give the company easier access to deposits.

On Monday, Reuters reported Mueller’s team accused Paul Manafort of working with a Russian to draft an op-ed about his political work in Ukraine. Manafort had been working on the article as recently as November 30.

If Manafort’s piece had been published, it would have violated the court’s November 8 gag order. As such, the special counsel said the judge should reject Manafort’s request in Week 55 to change his bail deal.

On Monday, WAPO reported the special counsel said in a statement Manafort has been “assessed to have ties” to Russian intelligence — making him the first member of the Trump regime to have such ties.

On Tuesday, WAPO reported Oleg Voloshyn, a Ukrainian political pundit and former government official said Manafort did not ghost-write the piece. Rather, he emailed a draft to Manafort business partner Konstantin Kilimnik.

On Friday, Mueller’s team filed documents which showed not only did Manafort make extensive edits to the op-ed, he also contributed to the overall themes in the piece, attempting to paint himself in a positive light.

While Mueller’s team maintains Manafort violated the judge’s gag order, lawyers for Manafort claimed the special counsel is unfairly restricting his free speech, saying “all he has tried to do is to correct the public record.”

POLITICO reported on the dramatic FBI arrest of George Papadopoulos as he stepped off a plane late at night: using shock value as a way to flip a witness. The next morning Mueller’s team told a judge Papadopoulos was willing to cooperate.

POLITICO reported paranoia is enveloping the WH as the Mueller probe heats up and as Flynn agreed to cooperate. One source close to the WH said, “Everyone thinks they’re being recorded.”

On Tuesday, NBC News reported Natalia Veselnitskaya told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Donald Jr. had asked her at the June 9 Trump Tower meeting whether she had evidence of illegal donations to the Clinton Foundation.

Veselnitskaya claimed in her 51-page statement after she said she did not have meaningful information on Hillary, Donald Jr. lost interest and the meeting petered out. She claimed to be there to discuss the Magnitsky Act.

On Tuesday, CNN reported Pence’s aides are nervous that Flynn pleading guilty to lying to the FBI and Pence will leave open the door for Mueller to question Pence, who continues to maintain he was out of the loop.

On Tuesday, German daily Handelsblatt reported Deutsche Bank received a subpoena from Mueller’s team, demanding the bank provide information on its dealings with the Trumps.

WSJ reported the subpoena is for documents related to people or entities affiliated with Trump, and people close to him — not Trump himself. Deutsche has lent more than $300 million to entities affiliated with Trump.

Reuters reported Deutsche Bank received the subpoena several weeks ago to provide information on certain money and credit transactions, and that the information has already been provided.

Deutsche Bank has lent Trump hundreds of millions over the past decade, while other banks have stepped back due to his numerous bankruptcies. In Week 19, Deutsche was fined for laundering Russian money.

Mueller’s team is also looking into whether Deutsche may have sold some of Trump’s mortgages or loans to Russian state banks VEB, VTB, Russian Agricultural Bank, Gazprombank, or Sberbank.

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow denied Trump’s information has been turned over, saying, “No subpoena has been issued or received. We have confirmed this with the bank and other sources.”

Trump lawyer Dowd told Bloomberg that he had been told by Deutsche Bank that no such subpoena had been issued.

On Wednesday, Handelsblatt stood by their reporting despite denials by Trump’s legal team, saying Deutsche Bank was subpoenaed weeks ago. It remains unclear if the subpoena relates to Trump or a family member.

On Wednesday, Donald Jr. testified for eight hours in front of the House Intel Committee in a private session about the June 9 meeting, his communications with WikiLeaks and business of the Trump Organization.

Donald Jr. told the House Intel Committee he did not communicate directly with Trump when confronted with news reports of the June 9 Trump Tower meeting, but rather with Hope Hicks.

Donald Jr. refused to provide details of the call with his father on July 10, claiming the conversation was protected under attorney-client privilege because lawyers for both men were on the call.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said Donald Jr. acknowledged he had discussed the Trump Tower meeting by telephone with Trump. Schiff rejected Donald Jr.’s use of attorney-client privilege.

POLITICO reported the House Intel Committee is probing the European travel during and after the campaign of several Trump associates including Donald Jr., Michael Cohen, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, and Jeffrey Gordon.

Congressional investigators want to know if Trump aides met with Kremlin-linked operatives as part of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Explanations for their trips have not been forthcoming.

NYT reported according to a whistleblower who contacted Rep. Elijah Cummings, during Trump’s Inauguration ceremony, Flynn texted a business associate that Russian sanction would “ripped away” as one of Trump’s first acts.

Flynn believed ending sanctions would allow a business venture with Russia to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East. He texted his former business associate to say the project was “good to go.”

Flynn was texting Alex Copson of ACU Strategic Partners, a company Flynn advised in 2015. Copson told the whistleblower Flynn’s text directed him to tell others involved in the nuclear project to continue developing their plans, adding “This is going to make a lot of very wealthy people.”

Cummings sent a letter to Rep. Trey Gowdy, who chose not to subpoena the whistleblower. He also informed Mueller’s team who asked him not to go public with it until “they completed certain investigative steps.”

On Friday, Papadopoulos’ fiancee, Simona Mangiante, told ABC News, he “set up meetings with leaders all over the world” for, and was “constantly in touch with” senior campaign officials, including Bannon and Flynn.

She added Papadopoulos will have a firm place in history as “the first domino in the Russia investigation,” saying he is loyal to his country, “He is already on the right side of history. I think he will make a big difference.”

On Wednesday, the House Intelligence Committee released Erik Prince’s closed-door testimony from November 30th. Prince claimed that when he met with the Russian banker, he was not acting on behalf of Trump.

Prince testified he was in Seychelles for business, and someone recommended he meet Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of RDIF, Russia’s $10 billion sovereign wealth fund. Prince claimed he had to Google for a photo of him.

Prince said they discussed US-Russia relations, including joint efforts to defeat Islamic terrorism together. Prince claimed he didn’t discuss Russian sanctions, or the prospect of doing business with Dmitriev.

Schiff issued a statement on Prince’s testimony, saying “Prince also could not adequately explain why he traveled halfway around the world to meet with UAE officials and, ultimately, the head of the Russian fund.”

As part of testimony, Prince also revealed he had interned for pro-Russian congressman Dana Rohrabacher. When asked if he spoke to Rohrabacher during the campaign, Prince said, “I don’t recall. No, I don’t think I did.”

Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska dropped his appeal of a libel suit filed against AP. Deripaska’s suit claimed AP falsely implied he was paying Manafort for work aimed at advancing the goals of the Russian government and Putin.

In a status report filed in court by Mueller’s team Friday, the special counsel revealed it has issued 15 search warrants related to Manafort and his business and campaign aide Gates.

Special counsel has obtained more than 400K financial and corporate records, and emails — 116k are considered “particularly relevant,” and 2K considered “hot” documents containing information crucial to the case.

NYT reported the FBI warned Hicks of repeated attempts by Russians to make contact with her using email during the transition period, even after US intelligence had publicly warned about Russian interference.

NYT reported the Trump Organization will be a big beneficiary of the Republican tax bill, noting the real estate industry and real estate investment trusts were given special treatment on several provisions.

The CEO of Murray Energy, one of the country’s largest coal companies, ripped the Republican tax bill, saying it would “wipe out” coal mining jobs, and adding “We won’t have enough cash flow to exist.”

WAPO reported some of Trump’s wealthiest friends in NY asked him at fundraising event for changes to the Republican tax plan, complaining it will drive up their taxes and hurt his home state — and Trump is listening.

On Monday, Trump endorsed Roy Moore. Later that day, the RNC changed course and threw support behind Moore, despite additional allegations coming out during the day from a woman when she was 17 years-old.

On Tuesday, Republican Jeff Flake posted a photo on Twitter of his $100 check to Roy Moore’s democratic challenger Doug Jones, adding “Country over Party” in the memo line.

TIME named “The Silence Breakers” the 2017 Person of the Year, celebrating the voices that launched a movement to bring sexual assault and harassment into the light of day. Trump was the runner-up.

In their cover story, TIME mentioned harassment allegations by several women against Trump, noting these allegations were cited as one of the catalysts for many to speak out against the abuse of power.

On Thursday, Sen. Al Franken stepped down after 33 Senate Democrats called on him to resign over sexual harassment allegations, adding in his parting words, “I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office.”

On Friday, Republican Rep. Trent Franks abruptly resigned as AP reported he had offered a former aide $5 million to act as a surrogate. The news invited comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale.

On Friday, new allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against Trump, as former Fox News anchor Juliet Huddy said he tried to kiss her on an elevator after he took her to lunch at Trump Tower in 2005.

A Quinnipiac poll found 70% of Americans believe Congress should investigate accusations of sexual harassment against Trump, 25% do not.

Sen, Jeff Merkley became the first Senator to call on Trump to resign over sexual misconduct allegations, saying of Trump “he certainly has a track record with more than 17 women of horrific conduct.”

NYT reported while in Puerto Rico, the USNS Comfort was prepared to support 250 hospital beds, but in its limited time at the island, admitted an average of only six patients a day, or 290 in total.

The ship was staffed with 800 personnel, costing $180K a day, yet the ship received an average of 36 people a day as outpatients or inpatients. On November 15, the ship left to restock. On November 17, it was sent home.

NYT reported the “official” death toll in Puerto Rico of 62, vastly understates actual deaths, which they estimate at 1,052 though the end of October, using past years’ mortality as a comparison.

WAPO reported some Republicans are organizing to discredit Mueller over time, including Fox News host Sean Hannity, several conservative lawmakers, and conservative group Judicial Watch.

On Monday, deputy AG Rod Rosenstein who appointed Mueller to head the special counsel, said he is satisfied with special counsel’s work.

WSJ reported Trump’s allies are urging a hardline against Mueller as the probe heats up and despite Trump’s attorneys assessment, will drag on into 2018. Allies say Trump should end his lawyers’ cooperative approach.

Allies cites as bias Peter Strzok, who had sent text messages that were critical of Trump during the 2016 election. Mueller dismissed Strzok upon learning about his texts last summer.

On Friday, ABC News reported that after Mueller dismissed Strzok, he brought on David Archey, a veteran FBI official briefly involved in the launch of the agency’s probe into Hillary’s private email server.

On Wednesday, Rep. Al Green read a resolution in the House to impeach Trump. The House overwhelmingly voted to kill the resolution (364 votes); however 58 Democrats voted for the resolution.

On Wednesday, Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and announced plans to eventually relocate the US Embassy there, despite criticism from Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, and several close US allies.

WAPO reported Trump had made up his mind on Jerusalem months before seeking input from advisers, and that Trump didn’t “have a full understanding” of the issue or what he “could trigger by doing this.”

Trump’s move reverses seven decades of US policy. On Thursday, David Satterfield, an acting assistant secretary said the State Department has not yet said whether the US considers Jerusalem to be part of Israel.

While delivering his statement on Jerusalem, towards the end of the speech, Trump noticeably slurred and mispronounced words. On Thursday, at a press briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump’s “throat was dry.”

Sanders also said Trump will undergo a physical examination at Walter Reed in the beginning of next year, and records will be released. Trump did not have a traditional medical examination as a candidate.

Captain Carri Weber of the Plainfield Police Department in Indiana was put on paid administrative leave on November 16, after telling a fellow officer he benefited from “white male privilege” during a training seminar.

On Thursday, after the suspension received national media attention from WAPO, the Plainfield Board of Police Commissioners reinstated Captain Weber, but a letter of reprimand will be kept in her permanent file.

On Tuesday, at a foreign policy conference in Berlin, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said German relations with the US “will never be the same” after Trump, saying Trump sees Germany as a “competitor.”

On Friday, former President Obama urged voters to stay engaged, invoking complacency led to the rise of Nazi Germany, “You have to tend to this garden of democracy, otherwise things can fall apart fairly quickly.”

On Thursday, Judge Rudolph Contreras, the judge who took Flynn’s guilty plea, recused himself from the case. No reason was given.

Catching Olympic leaders off-guard, ambassador Haley and press secretary Sanders said it was uncertain if the US would attend in South Korea, amid lingering tensions in the area.

Sanders later dialed back in a tweet, “The US looks forward to participating.” Earlier in the week, Russia was banned from the Winter Olympics by the I.O.C. as a punishment for systematic doping.

On Friday, Trump held a campaign-style rally in Pensacola, FL with many of same themes are during his campaign over a year ago, including the crowd chanting “lock her up,” as Trump talked of the “rigged system.”

Trump also raised the theme of Chicago, a city he has invoked to attack people of color since his 2016 campaign: “What the hell is going on in Chicago? There are those that say Afghanistan is safer than Chicago.”

Politifact reported Trump’s speech was full of false statements, including in matters relating to his attacks on the media, Chicago, and other issues.

NYT reported before he took office, Trump told top aides to think of each day “as an episode in a television show” in which he vanquishes rivals. In office, he spends four, sometimes up to eight hours per day watching tv.

Insiders say part of Trump’s difficult adjustment is rooted in an unrealistic expectation of powers: he thought it would be more akin to imperial command than having to coexist with two other branches of government

Artist Ben Levy 9dec17 Miami, FL, USA 🇺🇸