Week 90 of this policymaker: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
August 4, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-90-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-9a61f5ac66b9
Artwork: Mueller’s investigation is tightening and 45 is going insane. By Jim Carrey.
This week Trump’s battle with the media escalated as he ramped up his “enemy of the state” rhetoric, and his staffers and supporters followed his lead. The United Nations Human Rights office issued a statement condemning Trump’s media attacks, which this week put a CNN reporter in danger at a Trump rally in Tampa, Florida.
As the first trial for Paul Manafort got underway, Trump called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the Mueller probe. Even as his top national security officials took the unusual step of appearing together and briefing the press on the ongoing Russia cyber threat, and as social media companies and experts revealed ongoing attacks, Trump continued to label the Russian investigation as a hoax, and took no leadership steps to address the threat and protect our country.
As the Senate held hearings on Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, stories continued to surface about the inhumane treatment of migrants. The Trump regime took the position that the reunification was complete — even as hundreds of families remain separated. Kleptocracy, incompetence, and corruption continued to plague the regime, but in the daily chaos, got little attention or coverage.
WAPO reported Trump has made 4,229 false or misleading claims in his first 558 days. His lies are escalating: now averaging 7.6 false or misleading claims per day, up from 4.9 claims per day in his first 100 days.
On July 5, Trump reached a new high of 79 false or misleading claims in a single day. June and July 2018 ranked first and second overall, with 532 and 446 claims — roughly 16 false or misleading claims per day.
By topic, Trump has told the most lies about: economic issues, trade deals or jobs (1,293), followed by immigration (538), trade (432), the Russia probe (378), and taxes (336).
On Sunday, Trump tweeted about a meeting with NYT publisher A.G. Sulzberger, saying they discussed “the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, ‘Enemy of the People.’”
On Sunday, in a statement, Sulzberger said he accepted Trump’s invitation for a July 20 meeting to raise his concerns about Trump’s “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric,” saying, “the phrase ‘fake news’ is untrue and harmful.”
Sulzberger said he told Trump “his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous,” warning, “inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”
Sulzberger said overseas, governments are using Trump’s words as justification to crack down on journalists, and warned that Trump’s attacks were “putting lives at risk” and “undermining” our democratic ideals.
On Sunday, in a series of tweets, Trump said, “I will not allow our great country to be sold out by anti-Trump haters in the dying newspaper industry,” including the “failing” New York Times and Washington Post.
Trump added, “the media-driven insane by their Trump Derangement Syndrome..truly puts the lives of many, not just journalists, at risk!” and called the media “very unpatriotic!”
On Tuesday, Trump continued his battle with the media, tweeting, “The Fake News Media is going CRAZY,” accusing the media of being “unhinged,” and of ruining the lives of “innocent and decent people.”
Trump also tweeted that in 7 years, when he is out of office, media “ratings will dry up and they will be gone!” Trump continues to target CNN, NBC News, WAPO, and NYT as “fake news” for coverage he deems unfair.
On Tuesday, Trump renewed his government shutdown threat, tweeting, “I don’t care what the political ramifications are,” adding, “Border Security is National Security,” and saying a shutdown “is a very small price to pay.”
On Tuesday, Trump held a rally in Tampa, Florida. Ahead of the rally, Trump supporters crowded around CNN’s Jim Acosta, threateningly, giving him the middle finger, and leading chants of “CNN sucks.”
Trump repeated his anti-immigrant rhetoric, promising “tremendous border security that’s going to include the wall,” and claiming, without evidence, that Democrats were encouraging undocumented immigrants to vote.
Trump made a case for the need for voter IDs to prevent voter fraud, falsely claiming, “You know if you go out and you want to buy groceries you need a picture on a card. You need ID.”
After the rally, Acosta tweeted a video of Trump supporters attacking him, saying, “I’m very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt.”
After the rally, Trump retweeted a video tweeted by Eric Trump, with the caption, “WATCH: Supporters of President Trump Chant ‘CNN Sucks’ During Jim Acosta’s Live Spot at Florida Rally.”
At the rally, there were sighting of “QAnon” related signs and t-shirts. QAnon is an internet conspiracy cult claiming to have access to top security clearance information about an alleged deep state plot against Trump.
On Thursday, at an event hosted by Axios, Ivanka said she has had “my fair share of reporting on me personally that I know not to be fully accurate,” but she said, she does “not consider the media the enemy of the people.”
Ivanka said she considered the low point of her tenure at the White House to be Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, saying, “That was a low point for me…I am very vehemently against family separation.”
At the daily press briefing, CNN’s Jim Acosta, who had been harassed at a Trump rally, asked press secretary Sarah Sanders if she agreed with Ivanka that the press is not the enemy of the people. Sanders refused to answer.
Sanders also defended the mob scene in Tampa as “freedom of speech,” and said the media “continues to ratchet up the verbal assault against” Trump and the regime. After her non-answer, Acosta left the room.
On Thursday, the United Nations Human Rights office issued a statement condemning Trump’s attacks on the media, saying they violate basic norms of press freedom and human rights.
The statement cited Trump’s labeling of the media as the “enemy of the American people,” “very dishonest,” or “fake news,” and accusing the media of “distorting democracy” or spreading “conspiracy theories.”
On Sunday, in a series of tweets, Trump lashed out at Mueller, claiming without evidence or explanation that Mueller has conflicts of evidence, tweeting, “Is Robert Mueller ever going to release his conflicts of interest.”
Trump tweeted of Mueller, “we had a very nasty & contentious business relationship, I turned him down to head the FBI.” Rod Rosenstein has testified that he knows of no disqualifying conflict of interest with Mueller.
Trump also tweeted, “There is No Collusion,” falsely claiming the “Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt…was started by a fraudulent Dossier,” paid for by Hillary and the DNC, and, “Therefore, the Witch Hunt is an illegal Scam!”
Trump also falsely claimed the Mueller probe is a “Rigged Witch Hunt, headed now by 17…Angry Democrats,” and again falsely claimed the probe “was started by a fraudulent Dossier.”
On Sunday, Trump tweeted he is “willing to ‘shut down’ government” if the Democrats do not give him votes for his wall, adding, “Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!”
On Monday, Attorney General Sessions announced the formation of a “religious liberty task force” within the Justice Department which he claimed will help protect religious communities from discrimination.
Sessions warned of a “dangerous movement” that he said was eroding protections for religious Americans, and falsely claimed “nuns were being forced to buy contraceptives” — a reference to Obama’s health care policy.
Civil rights groups and LGBTQ advocates condemned Sessions’ task force, saying it is not consistent with religious freedoms, and that the guidance would encourage private groups to discriminate with government funds.
A synagogue in Carmel, Indiana was vandalized with spray-painted Nazi images, including a swastika. The synagogue has not been attacked before.
The Boston Globe reported that someone called the police to report a black woman eating lunch in a campus common room “seemed out of place.” The woman is a rising sophomore at Smith College working on campus.
NYT reported Peter Wright, Trump’s nominee to head the EPA’s Superfund program, was a lawyer at Dow Chemical when the company submitted disputed data, misrepresented scientific evidence, and delayed cleanup.
On Monday, NYT reported the Trump regime is considering granting a $100 billion tax cut mainly to the wealthy, through the Treasury Department changing the definition of “cost” for calculating capital gains.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an interview at the Group of 20 summit that his department was studying such a move, bypassing Congress, if it can’t get done through the legislative process.
On Wednesday, the Trump regime took another step to hobble the Affordable Care Act, widening the availability of skimpy health plans designed for short-term use that do not cover pre-existing conditions.
The health insurance industry, hospitals, doctors, and patient advocacy groups warned that consumers with these plans would be stranded when they need care, and defections would drive up costs in the ACA marketplaces.
On Thursday, the Trump regime said it would freeze Obama-era fuel-efficiency requirements for cars and trucks, which were meant to improve public health and combat climate change, through the year 2026.
Trump’s plan would also revoke California’s legal waiver to set its own tailpipe restrictions, which the state has used to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, and restrict other states from following California’s lead.
Automakers had a mixed reaction to the move, but oil and gas interests cheered it. The plan is part of the Department of Transportation’s deregulatory efforts, arguing for affordability and safety.
On Sunday, Charles Koch expressed “regret” over his network’s past support for some Republican candidates who are not standing up to Trump’s policies, and threatened to hold them to account.
On Monday, the Kochs announced they would not support the Trump-backed Republican candidate to take on Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, warning that siding with Trump will carry a political cost with their network.
On Tuesday, Trump dismissed criticism by the Koch networks of his trade and immigration policies, tweeting they have “become a total joke in real Republican circles,” and “I don’t need their money or bad ideas.”
On Thursday, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel warned GOP donors in a memo to steer clear of the Koch political network, escalating a fight between Trump’s allies and the Kochs.
On Monday, the Treasury Department predicted the U.S. government’s borrowing needs in the second half of this year will jump to $769 billion, the highest level since the 2008 financial crisis.
On Wednesday, Trump escalated his trade war with China, instructing U.S. trade representative to look into increasing tariffs on many Chinese imports from 10% to 25%.
On Friday, China announced it would retaliate by imposing $60 billion of tariffs on U.S. products if Trump follows through on his threats.
On Monday, two University of Virginia history professors, William Hitchcock and Melvyn Leffler, resigned in protest over the school’s decision to offer a paid senior fellowship to former Trump official Mark Short.
They claim Short attacked the free media and truth, backed rhetoric and policies that have empowered white supremacists, undermined the FBI and our intelligence agencies, and disenfranchised millions of voters.
On Monday, Trump tweeted, “Wow, highest Poll Numbers in the history of the Republican Party. That includes Honest Abe Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.” Politifact rated his claim as “false” using several measures.
On Monday, WAPO reported U.S. spy agencies see signs that North Korea is constructing new missiles at a factory that produced the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the U.S.
The satellite images indicate work is underway at the Sanumdong factory, which produced two of North Korea’s ICBMs, including the first with a proven range that could allow it to strike the U.S. East Coast.
Although Trump tweeted North Korea was “no longer a Nuclear Threat” following his summit with Kim Jong Un, North Korea has made few tangible moves signaling an intention to disarm.
On Thursday, Trump thanked Kim Jong Un for returning the remains of 55 soldiers, tweeting, “I am not at all surprised that you took this kind action. Also, thank you for your nice letter — l look forward to seeing you soon!”
Remains of 55 were returned, while about 5,300 American war remains are still in North Korea. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis cautioned the remains could be non-U.S. soldiers: “We don’t know who’s in these boxes.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced the city will end a major data-sharing contract with ICE, citing misuse of information, and ICE detaining undocumented immigrants who are not accused of any crime.
Guardian reported the Trump regime plans to rescind Obama-era work permits for spouses of holders of H-1B visas, effectively confining spouses, mostly women, to home and stripping their families of a second income.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles ordered the Trump regime to stop administering psychotropic medications to migrant children without first obtaining consent or a court order.
Judge Gee said the regime has been medicating children at a Shiloh Residential Treatment Center in Texas without consent. She ordered the children be moved from the facility, except those posing a “risk to harm” to themselves or others.
On Tuesday, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, senior officials from Border Patrol, ICE, HHS, and the DOJ said they learned about Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy in April when Sessions publicly announced it.
Officials said because they did not get advance warning, they did not put protocols in place to eventually reunify families. They also did not challenge lawmakers’ assertions that the initiative was a failure.
Matthew Albence, the number two official at ICE, described family detention centers as “more like a summer camp,” saying migrants have food, water, and educational and recreational opportunities.
Cmdr. Jonathan White from the department of Health and Human Services said he warned his superiors that separating children from parents carried a “significant risk of harm” and could inflict “psychological injury.” He was assured the regime would not implement separation.
The acting head of Border Patrol, Carla Provost said, “The initiative was a prosecution initiative, and our focus was on the prosecution element only.” Several senators called for Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “A highly respected Federal judge” said ““Trump Administration gets great credit” for reuniting illegal families.” About one-third of families separated under Trump’s policy remain apart.
On Wednesday, NYT reported the Trump regime is considering a second sharp reduction in the number of refugees admitted to the U.S., a program meant to offer protection to the world’s most vulnerable people.
Last year the regime set the cap at 45,000 — a historic low. This year, as Stephen Miller has installed allies in key positions, in one plan being discussed, no more than 25,000 refugees could be resettled.
HuffPost reported at a federal prison complex in Victorville, California, which staffers warned was not equipped to handle the influx from ICE, there have been infectious disease outbreaks and an attempted suicide.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit Tuesday over the “inhumane conditions” at Victorville, saying they violated the constitutional rights of immigrants detained there. There is one doctor for 4,300 inmates and detainees.
On Thursday, in a 2–1 decision, the U.S. appeals court struck down a key part of Trump’s contentious effort to crack down on “sanctuary cities,” saying an executive order threatening to cut funding was unconstitutional.
In a letter addressed to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), a group of U.S. historians demanded that the regulatory body stop ICE from erasing records of the agency’s treatment of immigrants.
Historians sent the letter July 25, after learning ICE had sought permission from NARA to begin destroying years’ worth of data, including information on sexual abuse, solitary confinement, and in-custody deaths.
On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of 14 senators sent a letter to Sessions, Nielsen, and HHS Secretary Alex Azar demanding information on the status of separated families, including those where the parents have been deported.
On Thursday, in a court filing, the DOJ said the ACLU, which represents plaintiffs in lawsuit over family separations, should “use their considerable resources and their network” to take the lead on finding deported parents.
The Trump regime also suggested that the ACLU should find out whether the deported parents want to be reconnected with their children, or whether they waive that option.
Politico reported that per a Trump regime official, an estimated three-quarters of deported parents who left the country alone left no record behind that they ever consented to leave their children in the U.S.
On Friday, Judge Dana Sabraw rejected the Trump regime’s request to make the ACLU primarily responsible for locating migrant parents who were deported, saying the government bears “100 percent” of the burden.
The judge also scolded the regime for moving so slowly to track down the deported parents, calling it “just unacceptable” that an estimate of only about 12 of close to 500 parents have been located.
Sabraw suggested the regime appoint a person to lead the reunification process, saying, “for every parent who is not located there will be a permanently orphaned child.” He will hold another hearing next week.
On Friday, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. ordered that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program should be fully restored, and gave the Trump regime a 20-day deadline to do so.
Judge John Bates said the regime has failed to justify its proposal to end DACA. The Justice Department is expected to appeal. A case being tried in Texas is expected to be decided next week in agreement with the Trump regime.
California and New York courts have ruled the regime cannot end DACA, but only ordered the regime to continue renewing existing applications. Bates’ ruling goes further, ordering the program reopened in its entirety.
On Tuesday, a federal judge temporarily blocked public availability of blueprints that provide instructions for making guns using 3-D printers, hours before the documents were expected to be published online.
Hours before, Trump had tweeted about the 3-D plastic guns, “Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!” Sen. Chuck Schumer tweeted, “Your administration approved this…And to check with the NRA?”
The Trump regime had suddenly settled a 2013 case with Cody Wilson on June 29, allowing public availability of the instructions. Twenty-one attorneys general asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sessions to withdraw from the settlement.
A CBS poll asking strong Trump supporters who they trust for accurate information found: 91% trust Trump, 63% trust friends and family, and just 11% trust the mainstream media.
The poll also found 70% of Republicans call the Russia investigation a “witch hunt,” while 77% of Democrats call it a “critical” matter of national security.
A billboard in a heavily Republican Grand Junction, Colorado replaced the “O” in the word “GOP” with a Soviet-era communism symbol. The resident behind it is upset with Trump’s actions on Russia, immigration, and tariffs.
On Sunday, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen told “Face the Nation” her office has been the subject of at least one phishing attack by Russians targeting email accounts and social media profiles.
Activist Emma Best published 11,000 WikiLeaks Twitter direct messages. The messages reveal WikiLeaks wanted the GOP to defeat Hillary Clinton, who was described in a message as a “well-connected, sadistic sociopath.”
On Tuesday, Facebook announced it had uncovered and removed “sophisticated” efforts, possibly linked to Russia, to manipulate U.S. politics by sowing discord, ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.
Facebook did not directly name Russia, but said 32 fake accounts on Facebook and Instagram were involved in “coordinated” and “inauthentic” political behavior. One page alone had close to 300,000 followers.
One page promoted “No Unite the Right 2” march, a planned counter demonstration, and another to amplify “Abolish ICE.” Facebook noted the efforts mirror Internet Research Agency moves before the 2016 election.
On Tuesday, at a cybersecurity summit in New York, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen issued her strongest warning to Russia, saying, “Mark my words: America will not tolerate this meddling.”
She warned that there is an “urgent, evolving crisis,” warning of “online” attacks, like a small bank in Blacksburg, Virginia which was a target of Russian hackers who stole $2.4 million over the course of two weekends.
On Wednesday, social media and technology experts testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, saying Russia and other foreign actors have not slowed their efforts to spread misinformation and propaganda.
Central to this third hearing was Russia’s exploited tech companies’ hesitation to regulate what is posted on their platforms. Experts and senators said companies no longer have an excuse for not taking action.
Sen. Richard Burr, chair of the committee, said of Russian interference efforts: “Some feel that we as a society are sitting in a burning room, calmly drinking a cup of coffee, telling ourselves ‘this is fine.’ That’s not fine.”
On Wednesday, the Senate rejected a Democratic proposal to provide states with more election security funding ahead of the midterms, by a 50–47 vote. Sen. Bob Corker was the only Republican to vote in support.
BuzzFeed reported on a cash trail left by Maria Butina and Paul Erickson, the Republican consultant, at Wells Fargo Bank, whose anti-money laundering team started tracking their bank activity in early 2017 after an FBI referral.
Suspicious transactions include $89,000 passed between Erickson’s US accounts and Butina’s account at Russia’s Alfa Bank, a $45,000 payment to an undisclosed law firm, and various cash withdrawals.
WAPO reported in the weeks before the 2016 election, Butina socialized with Trump aide J.D. Gordon, who served as the campaign’s director of national security until August 2016, then joined Trump’s transition effort.
According to documents and testimony provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the two exchanged emails in September and October 2016, and Gordon invited Butina to a concert and his birthday party.
A Yahoo Finance/Survey Monkey poll found 11% of Republicans say it would be appropriate for Russia to intervene in U.S. midterms on behalf of Trump and Republicans, and 29% say it wouldn’t be a big deal.
Starting Sunday, Rudy Giuliani made a series of erratic TV appearance to push back on Michael Cohen’s assertion that Trump knew about the June 9 Trump Tower meeting. Giuliani said Cohen has “lied all his life.”
On Monday, appearing on “Fox & Friends,” Giuliani said he had been “looking in the federal code,” and “my client didn’t do it, and even if he did it, it’s not a crime,” adding, “collusion is not a crime.”
On Monday, Giuliani told CNN there was a “planning meeting” to prep Donald Jr. for June 9, which was attended by Kushner, Manafort, Rick Gates, who is cooperating, and others. Giuliani later reversed himself.
On Tuesday, Trump sided with Giuliani, tweeting, “collusion is not a crime,” and reasserting, “but that doesn’t matter because there was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!”
On Tuesday, Vanity Fair reported Trump thinks Giuliani is “saying too much.” Chief of Staff John Kelly wants to get rid of him, and reportedly White House counsel Don McGahn “hates Rudy with intensity of 1,000 burning suns.”
On Tuesday, the trial in federal court for Manafort in Alexandria on bank and tax fraud charges began. A jury of 6 women and 6 men were selected. Manafort’s attorneys are seeking to place blame with Gates.
On Wednesday, Trump called on Sessions to end the Mueller investigation, tweeting Sessions “should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further.”
Trump called the Mueller investigation a “terrible situation, and repeated his false claim, tweeting, “Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!”
When asked about Trump’s tweets to end the Mueller investigation in Wednesday’s press briefing, Sanders said, “It’s not an order, it’s the president’s opinion…[Trump] wants to see it come to an end.”
Trump’s attorneys also tried to downplay his tweets, with Giuliani saying Trump “carefully used the word, ‘should,’” and Jay Sekulow saying Trump “has issued no order or direction to the Department of Justice on this.”
Trump also tweeted that Manafort “worked for me for a very short time. Why didn’t government tell me that he was under investigation,” adding “These old charges have nothing to do with Collusion — a Hoax!”
Trump also compared Manafort’s treatment to that of Al Capone, tweeting, “who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone, legendary mob boss, killer…or Paul Manafort, political operative & Reagan/Dole darling.”
On Wednesday, WAPO reported in a letter sent Monday, Mueller renewed negotiations with Trump’s legal team about terms for an in-person interview with Trump, following an extended standoff since March.
Mueller reportedly said he is willing to accept some answers in written form, reducing the number of questions his investigators would ask Trump in an interview.
NYT reported Trump is eager to meet with investigators to clear himself of wrongdoing. Reportedly Trump believes he can convince Mueller’s team that their own inquiry is a “witch hunt” and end the inquiry.
Trump’s legal team were preparing to tell Mueller there would be no interview and risk a court fight over a subpoena that could drag through midterms, but Trump pushed them to continue negotiating.
According to NYT, the scope of the questioning includes whether Trump associates and Russia coordinated in election interference and whether Trump tried to obstruct the investigation.
On Thursday, Manafort’s bookkeeper, Heather Washkuhn, said his lavish lifestyle continued until 2015 when he ran out of cash, then he and Gates began trying to fudge numbers to secure loans.
Washkuhn testified she did not have access to all of Manafort’s transactions. She also did not have any records of the foreign accounts Manafort used to pay for clothes, cars, real estate and home remodeling.
Washkhun undercut Manafort’s defense that Gates was to blame, characterizing Manafort as a “very knowledgeable” client, and saying, “He was very detail-oriented. He approved every penny of everything we paid.”
On Friday, Cindy Laporta, one of Manafort’s accountants who was granted immunity, testified that in 2015 she went along with falsifying his tax records, not wanting to confront a longtime client.
Laporta said Gates told her Manafort could not afford to pay his taxes, and instructed her to misrepresent $900,000 in income as a business loan. She estimated she saved Manafort at least $400,000 in taxes.
Laporta testified she helped Manafort obtain millions of dollars of loans fraudulently, including listing a rental property as a second home, sending a forged loan-forgiveness letter, and lying about a large future payment.
On Thursday, a federal judge in Washington ruled Andrew Miller, a former assistant to Roger Stone, must testify before the special counsel’s grand jury on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Miller worked for Stone during the 2016 presidential campaign, and is one of at least six of Stone’s associates to be called to testify in the Mueller probe. Stone has accused Mueller’s team of harassing his associates.
On Thursday, Reuters reported that according to Russian agencies citing senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachov, Sen. Rand Paul will lead a U.S. delegation to Moscow and will meet Russian members of parliament on August 6.
On Thursday, top national security officials made a rare appearance in the White House briefing room to warn that Russia continues to target the U.S. election system, and vowed to combat interference.
No new details about attacks or policies were announced, but there was a show of unity of top officials, for the first time appearing together, including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary Nielsen, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and NSA Director Paul Nakasone.
Although each security official acknowledged attacks by Russia and said their agency would take steps to counter, there is no leadership from the White House, and Bolton eliminated the top cybersecurity job in Week 79.
Also at the conference, Coats acknowledged two weeks after Helsinki, he still is “not in a position” to “fully understand” what occurred during that meeting, raising questions about why Trump is keeping him in the dark.
The joint appearance follows the first meeting of the National Security Council led by Trump on election security, last week. The meeting lasted less than an hour and resulted in no new orders.
On Thursday, a bipartisan group of senators introduced what Sen. Lindsey Graham called the “bill from hell” to punish Russia for election interference, and activities in Syria and Ukraine, by imposing new restrictions and sanctions.
The measure also expresses strong support for NATO, and would require two-thirds of the Senate to vote in order to leave the alliance. The measure would need to pass the House and Senate, and be signed by Trump.
On Thursday, NYT reported at his campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Trump made 15 inaccurate claims on things like highway spending, immigration, crowd size, and legislative accomplishments.
Trump also lied that U.S. Steel Corporation “is opening up seven plants” — they are not opening any. He again repeated false claims about NATO members being “delinquent” and that “funding was going down.”
Despite his press conference by his top security officials earlier in the day, Trump falsely claimed “Russia is very unhappy that Trump won,” and that diplomatic efforts with Putin “are being hindered by the Russian hoax.”
On Thursday, at a screening for Dinesh D’Souza’s new documentary, Donald Jr. compared the Nazi platform in the early 1930s to the DNC platform today, adding, “It’s the exact opposite of what you’ve been told.”
On Thursday, Jerry Falwell Jr. grouped Hitler as a “progressive elite,” tweeting, “the future will be progressive elites (… @HillaryClinton, Hitler, Soros) v freedom loving average Americans!”
On Thursday, WSJ reported a major Trump donor, Franklin Haney, gave a $10 million contract to Cohen in early April, shortly before the April 9 raid, to help his efforts to complete a pair of nuclear reactors in Alabama.
Cohen was paid a monthly retainer in addition to the $10 million success fee. Authorities are investigating whether Cohen engaged in unregistered lobbying in his work for corporate clients, including AT&T and Novartis.
WAPO reported that room revenue at Trump International Hotel in Manhattan rose 13% in the first quarter of 2018, due to providing rooms for accompanying travelers of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
Four Democratic senators called for an investigation into tours on Air Force One, after BuzzFeed obtained an invitation revealing members of Trump’s Florida clubs were invited for tours last year.
On Friday, WSJ reported the Kushner family closed a deal to unload 666 Fifth Avenue, an investment made by Kushner at the top of the market in 2007, and which has been not been financeable for years.
Kushner Cos. will lease the property to Brookfield Asset Management for 99 years, paid upfront, in an amount that will allow the Kushner family to pay off the $1.1 billion of debt on the building and buy out its partner.
In Week 87 it was noted that a unit of Brookfield is awaiting approval from the Trump’s Committee on Foreign Investment for its acquisition of the nuclear-power company Westinghouse Electric.
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a Democrat who served on Trump’s voter fraud commission, in a lawsuit won access to and then published a trove of documents on Friday revealing no signs of voter fraud.
Dunlap said Trump’s repeated claims that millions of people voted illegally were false. In a letter Dunlap wrote, “these documents show that there was…a pre-ordained outcome…without any evidence to back it up.”
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would not delay hearings for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to wait for records from Kavanaugh’s time as as staff secretary in the Bush White House from 2003–2006.
On Thursday, the National Archives warned that it would not be able to fulfill the GOP’s request for documents on Kavanaugh until late October. McConnell’s unwillingness to wait on documents breaks longtime norms.
Poynter Institute reported the Newseum is selling Trump “Make America Great Again” hats and t-shirts that say “You are very fake news,” on their website.
On Friday, just before midnight, Trump tweeted, “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do.” Lemon’s show is on CNN.
Journalist Dan Rather blasted Trump for his “racist” criticism of James, calling it a “disgrace.” Trump has continually attacked black athletes, and made disparaging comments about the intelligence of black Americans.
The Guardian reported U.S. counter-intelligence investigators discovered a suspected Russian spy had been working in the U.S. embassy in Moscow for more than a decade, undetected.
In her role, the Russian national had access to the agency’s intranet and email systems, which gave her a window into highly confidential material including the schedules of the president and vice-president.
The U.S. Department of State’s Regional Security Office sounded the alarm in January 2017, but Secret Service let her continue in her post for months, possibly to avoid potential embarrassment.
WAPO reported she worked as a local investigator in the U.S. Secret Service office at the embassy since 2001. She was fired in August 2017 after investigators surveilled her meetings and communications with FSB agents.
Protesters remained outside the White House for a third straight week, since Trump’s Helsinki summit with Putin. One night, protesters held giant letters spelling “TREASON” and other signs calling Trump a traitor.
The day-to-day rallies have been dubbed, “Kremlin Annex,”and have morphed into a mix of demonstrations, roasts and dance parties. Organizers plan to keep protesting until Trump is out of office.