POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 79: “FRAUDULENT SHYSTER” ~ WHY WASN’T THAT ENOUGH?

* A couple of thoughts before heading into the weekly list from Amy Siskind – I think I saw somewhere today that in Week 1 when she began this, she had like a list of “9.” The evidence of treason, kleptocracy, corruption, and collusion has increased so rapidly that, today, we are looking at a list of “170.” Remarkable. And frightening.

** Today’s artwork featured is that of Jim Carrey, the actor/artist. I used a couple pieces of his before, but this week, he was really on a roll with spot-on interpretations of the various ‘characters’ in this ‘shitshow’ we are being forced to endure.

*** An interesting point was brought up today on Twitter: If we had been more forceful in insisting that candidates divulge their tax information, we would have known without a doubt the extent of his corruption and we never would have gotten to this place. 

WHY WASN’T THAT ENOUGH ? : 

**** And I just had thoughts (regularly consumed by thoughts about this treasonous leadership) – When he dodged the draft FIVE times and said his personal Vietnam was seeing how many women he could sleep with, why wasn’t that enough? (to at least lose the support of the current military and every other American who has ever served for this country) – When he said he’d bring jobs back to America, but had all of his campaign merchandise made in China, why wasn’t that enough? (Factories are closing up and leaving left and right. Today we hear Harley Davidson is moving to Thailand) – When he mocked the disabled, why wasn’t that enough? – When he asked people how hot they think his daughter is, why wasn’t that enough? – When he said he’d like to date her if she wasn’t his daughter, why wasn’t that enough? – When he said he grabs women by their pussies, why wasn’t that enough? – 

What has this country become that we are so divided with an element of citizens that embrace this fraudulent shyster? My anger has just become sadness. I don’t want to fight. I want common sense and humanity to prevail. 

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“Scam-a-Gram”

Week 78 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

May 12, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-78-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-e2f79899deae

This week Trump threatened to take away media credentials, equating negative coverage to fake news. Trump and his surrogates continued to publicly undermine the Mueller probe, pressing for its completion and questioning the validity of its outcome; yet, seemed unprepared to handle the fallout of information made public by Stephanie Clifford’s attorney, Michael Avenatti.

This was another week of resignations and disquiet within Trump’s cabinet as he continues to bully dissent and turn a blind eye to kleptocracy, incompetence, and ethics violations. Against the advice of former senior officials, Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, further isolating America on the world stage. Acts of hate and distrust of “others” continue to escalate, as does the regime’s cruelty towards those not white, straight, and male. While Trump remains popular with his base, increasingly Americans are worried about aspects of everyday life that are forebodingly shifting ever-so subtly.

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“Psycho Mike-O”
  1. The Guardian reported the Trump regime hired an Israeli private intelligence agency to conduct a “dirty ops” campaign against Obama diplomats who negotiated the deal with Tehran.
  2. Individuals targeted include Ben Rhodes, a top national security adviser, and Colin Kahl, deputy assistant to Obama. Trump has a May 12 deadlinedecide whether to scrap or continue the Iran nuclear program.
  3. The New Yorker reported the intel firm was Black Cube, the same retained by Harvey Weinstein in 2016 to investigate the women and journalists who might come forward against him for sexual misconduct.
  4. On Sunday, WAPO reported Gina Haspel, Trump’s nominee for CIA director, sought to withdraw her nomination last Friday rather than face expected tough Senate questioning about her role in the agency’s interrogation program.
  5. White House aides, including press secretary Sarah Sanders and legislative affairs head Marc Short rushed to Langley Friday to push her to not withdraw. Saturday afternoon, Haspel agreed to move forward.
  6. On Sunday, NYT reported Sen. John McCain, as part of his final wishes,has told his inner circle does not want Trump to attend his funeral. McCain would however like Obama and George W. Bush to deliver eulogies.
  7. Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale” which has been made into a TV-series, told ABC News, “We’re not living in Gilead yet, but there are Gilead-like symptoms going on,” pointing to examples like attacks on the free press and attempts to roll back reproductive rights.
  8. On Monday, Trump called on Congress to pull back more than $15 billion in spending approved in the recent budget, half of which would come from two accounts within the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  9. HuffPost reported after several years of dramatic decline, the uninsured rate rose to 12.2% last year, up from 10.9% at the end of 2016, as Trump’s efforts to undermine Obamacare continue.
  10. In Rialto, California, a neighbor called the police on three black women who carried their luggage out of an Airbnb they had rented. The police responded as if it were an in-progress burglary, sending six police officers and a helicopter.
  11. On Monday, a white graduate student at Yale called the police on Lolade Siyonbola, a black student who was napping in a common area of their dorm. Siyonbola was questioned for 15 minutes by police, and forced to show her student ID.
  12. On Monday, Jeff Sessions announced the Trump regime will separate parents who enter the US illegally from their children, instead of keeping them in detention together.
  13. Sessions said, “If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you,” adding, “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.” The goal is to prosecute 100% who enter the US illegally.
  14. On Thursday, in an interview with NPR, when asked about separating migrant families at the border, chief of staff John Kelly said of immigrants, “They don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills” to assimilate well.
  15. Kelly also said he supported the Department of Homeland Securities recent decisions to end temporary protected status (TPS) for Haiti, El Salvador, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sudan, and Honduras.
  16. On Tuesday, Axios reported an annual study of 18–24 year-olds in 16 Arab states found a sharp spike in negative sentiment against the US: 57% see the US as the enemy (up from 32% in 2016) versus 35% who view the country as an ally.
  17. Further, 73% of Arab youth said Trump’s election has had a negative impact on their view of the US. Arab youth view Russia more favorably than the US, as the US fell out of the top five spots for the first time.
  18. The World reported a North Bend, Oregon school district is facing discrimination claims after a LGBTQ student was allegedly forced to read Bible passages as a form of punishment. The ACLU is involved in the case.
  19. On Friday, the Trump regime rolled back Obama-era rules that protected transgender inmates by allowing them to use facilities that match their gender identity, including cell blocks and bathrooms.
  20. Mediaite reported that in a video made last December Juan Pablo Andrade, a policy advisor for the Trump-tied nonprofit America First, praised Nazisand expressed disappointment that they didn’t “keep fucking going.”
  21. On Wednesday, at Senate hearings for Gina Haspel, former CIA operative turned activist 78 year-old Ray McGovern was tackled and thrown to the ground by police after protesting Haspel’s use of waterboarding, possibly dislocating his arm.
  22. BuzzFeed reported only families of Parkland shooting victims who are Trump supporters have received condolence letters or any sort of communication from Trump or the White House.
  23. On Thursday, Oliver North, the newly elected National Rifle Association President, said that gun control activists like the students from Parkland, are “civil terrorists.”
  24. On Tuesday, Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, the top White House official in charge of pandemic response, abruptly resigned after the the global health security team he oversaw was disbanded by John Bolton.
  25. The upheaval at Scott Pruitt’s EPA continued, as John Konkus, the press office’s second in command, became the fourth senior official to resign in the past week.
  26. BuzzFeed reported Elizabeth Erin Walsh, a high-ranking Commerce Department official, was escorted out of the department’s headquarters last Thursday. Sources say she is part of an internal investigation. Walsh is a former Goldman Sachs executive nominated by Trump.
  27. The publication Science reported Trump’s White House canceled NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System, a $10-million-a-year research line used to verify the national emission cuts agreed to in the Paris climate accords.
  28. After Sen. Tammy Baldwin announced she would not turn in a so-called blue slip for Trump judicial nominee Michael Brennan, judiciary chair Chuck Glassley broke Senate tradition by ignoring her and gave Brennan a hearing.
  29. On Tuesday, Rep. Daniel Donovan introduced a bill that would require post offices around the country to display pictures of Trump and Pence.
  30. Trump appointed Mehmet Oz, a discredited doctor who has long used his tv-show “Dr. Oz Show” as a platform to market alternative medicine, to his council on sport, fitness, and nutrition.
  31. On Monday, two top Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) to investigate that the three GOP FCC commissioners attended the CPAC conference in February.
  32. The letter comes after the OSC had concluded that one of the commissioners, Mike O’Rielly, had violated the Hatch Act during a CPAC panel discussion by urging voters to re-elect Trump, and issued a warning.
  33. On Monday, incoming Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held his first press conference, welcoming reporters but taking no questions.
  34. Politico reported Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has done numerous interviews with her father, chairman of a shipping company in China, in front of the Department of Transportation emblem, raising ethics concerns she is using her position to benefit her family business.
  35. On Tuesday, fair-housing advocates filed a lawsuit against the Department of Housing and Urban Development and HUD Secretary Ben Carson for suspending a 2015 Obama-era rule requiring communities to examine and address barriers to racial integration.
  36. On Wednesday, Mick Mulvaney’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said it will shut its student lending office, ending investigations on potential abuses by companies in the $1.5 trillion student loan market. The office had been responsible for returning $750 million in relief.
  37. On Monday, more than 10,000 EPA documents were made public under a Freedom of Information Act filed by the Sierra Club revealed the agency’s efforts to shield Pruitt from tough questions and public scrutiny.
  38. Emails show decisions to limit advance notice of Pruitt’s schedule, to limit questioning and control the message. Breaking from EPA tradition of 25 years, Pruitt does not do public speaking events on most official trips.
  39. On Monday, NYT reported that senior White House staffers are urging Trump to fire Pruitt. Aides say Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist and Pruitt’s deputy, could be just as effective at undoing regulations.
  40. NYT reported Pruitt dined last year in Rome with Cardinal George Pell, a prominent climate-science denialist who has sexual abuse allegations since 2016. The EPA’s official description of the dinner intentionally omitted the cardinal’s attendance.
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Scott Pruitt, “Environment Plundering Ass”
  1. Twenty days after the dinner, authorities in Australia charged Cardinal Pell with sexual assault. Whistleblower Kevin Chmielewski said EPA officials were concerned the meeting would reflect poorly on Pruitt if made public.
  2. On Friday, Trump continued to stand by Pruitt, saying “I do” have confidence in him despite Pruitt facing a dozen active investigations over lavish spending and ethical lapses.
  3. On Sunday, NYT reported Michael Cohen has spent much of his personal and professional life with immigrants from Russia and Ukraine. His father-in-law is from Ukraine, as was one of Cohen’s partners in the taxi business.
  4. As Cohen started working for Trump, limited liability companies he controlled started to amass real estate in all-cash deals, including five buildings in Manhattan between 2011 and 2015.
  5. Cohen also has a history of turning all-cash real estate deals for a huge profit in a short time. On one day in 2014, he sold four buildings in Manhattan for $32 million in cash. Banks steered clear of him.
  6. On Saturday, Rudy Giuliani appeared on Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News show, appearing to backpedal, saying, “I’m still learning [the facts] … I’ve been in the case for two weeks.”
  7. Giuliani insisted Trump did not violate campaign finance laws, “Every campaign finance expert, Republican and Democrat, will tell you…it was to save his family, to save embarrassment, it’s not a campaign donation.”
  8. On Sunday, Giuliani appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” changing his story again on Clifford, “You know, I’m not really involved in the — in the Daniels thing. So I don’t — I don’t know. I mean, he denies that it happened.”
  9. Giuliani smeared Clifford, calling her the “woman you saw on SNL last nite trying to make more money.” He also said, “I never thought $130k was a real payment. It’s a nuisance payment.”
  10. Giuliani also said Trump doesn’t need to comply with a subpoena from Mueller’s team, adding, “He’s the President of the United States. We can assert the same privileges other presidents have,” and said he wouldn’t rule out Trump asserting his Fifth Amendment right.
  11. Giuliani also said it was time for Rod Rosenstein to shut down the Mueller probe: “There’s no question that the amount of government misconduct is accumulating. I happen to believe it’s greater than anybody realizes.”
  12. Giuliani also said he can’t speak to whether Trump lied when he denied knowledge of the silencing agreement, adding, “But in any event, that’s not the crime.”
  13. On Sunday, Giuliani told CNN he is still getting up to speed on Trump’s legal situation two weeks later, adding “I am focused on the law more than the facts right now.”
  14. On Monday, Giuliani said Trump’s lawyers hope to decide by May 17, the one-year anniversary of Mueller’s appointment, whether Trump will testify in the Mueller probe. Trump’s lawyers remain divided.
  15. On Monday, Politico reported Trump had initially told aides he was bringing on Emmet Flood to replace Don McGahn, and did not want to lose Ty Cobb, who reportedly resigned in part because of the confusion over reporting lines.
  16. Reportedly, as Giuliani continues his media tour, and while they still speak daily, Trump is growing frustrated. Aides expect Trump to fire Giuliani if his behavior does not change.
  17. On Tuesday, AP reported Trump is annoyed Giuliani has reinvigorated the Clifford story and extended its lifespan. Concern has also been raised by the State Department and Pentagon that Giuliani is weighing in on foreign policy matters.
  18. On Monday, Trump suggested legal action is coming against Mueller’s team, tweeting, “The 13 Angry Democrats in charge of the Russian Witch Hunt are starting to find out that there is a Court System in place.”
  19. Trump accused the team of “unrevealed Conflicts of Interest!” without offering any proof. Several members of Mueller’s team have donated to Democrats. Mueller is a Republican appointed by George W. Bush, and Rosenstein was appointed by Trump.
  20. Trump also tweeted “Why is Peter S still there?” — referring to Strzok who remains at the FBI after Lisa Page resigned in Week 77. Trump again tweeted about the “Phony Witch Hunt” which he said will “wrongfully impacts the Mid-Term Elections.”
  21. On Monday, First Lady Melania Trump rolled out her first initiative, “Be Best,” which she said would tackle opioid abuse, social media pressures, and mental health issues for children. The link to “Be Best” website initially delivered an error message.
  22. Critics noted the similarities to a speech delivered by former First Lady Michelle Obama last year, urging men to “be better.”
  23. Critics also noted the similarities between the “Be Best” campaign materialand an educational booklet, “Talking With Kids About Being Online,” produced in the Obama-era by the Federal Trade Commission.
  24. On Tuesday, Trump announced he would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, despite pleas from our European allies. He called the agreement, “a great embarrassment to me as a citizen and all citizens of the United States.”
  25. Pence told Congress the US would no longer participate in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and would restore sanctions with 90- and 180-day wind-down periods.
  26. Former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, both pushed out by Trump, had been advocates for remaining in JCPOA. Bolton, the new NSA, has advocated for bombing Iran as recently as 2015.
  27. Iranian President Rouhani said he directed his country’s diplomats to negotiate with the Europeans, Russia, and China about remaining in the nuclear deal. Iran is ready to start unlimited uranium enrichment if negotiations fail.
  28. In a joint statement, Macron, Merkel and May expressed “regret and concern” over Trump’s decision, saying of JCPOA, “This agreement remains important for our shared security.”
  29. On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Boeing and Airbus licenses to replenish Iran’s aging fleet of commercial planes “will be revoked,” causing the companies to lose $39 billion in contracts.
  30. On Wednesday, the Agence France-Presse reported that Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia will “do everything we can” to build nuclear weapons if regional rival Iran does the same.
  31. On Thursday, in a speech honoring French President Macron, German Chancellor Merkel said Europe can no longer rely on US protection, saying “Europe must take its destiny in its own hands.”
  32. Foreign Policy reported Richard Johnson, a career civil servant and one of the State Department’s top experts on nuclear proliferation, resigned this week after Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.
  33. The resignation is a part of a brain drain officials warn about across the government, and especially in the State Department. The office Johnson led has gone from seven full-time staffers when Trump took office to none.
  34. On Thursday, Iran’s supreme leader shared a photo of himself reading Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” on Instagram. The photo was taken at this year’s Tehran International Book Fair.
  35. On Wednesday, Trump suggested pulling credentials from the media, citing a study by right-leaning Media Research Center which found 91% of media coverage of him was negative in 2018.
  36. Trump tweeted, “The Fake News is working overtime,” adding “91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake),” insinuating negative news is fake news, and threatened, “Take away credentials?”
  37. Margaret Talev, President of the White House Correspondents Association tweeted in response, “A free press must be able to report on the good, the bad, the momentous and the mundane, without fear or favor,”
  38. Talev added that a leader “preventing a free and independent press from covering the workings of our republic would be an unconscionable assault on the First Amendment.”
  39. On Wednesday, press secretary Sanders defended Trump, saying the regime is “very committed to a free press,” citing her near-daily briefings. Sanders added, “At the same time, the press has a responsibility to put out accurate information.”
  40. On Wednesday, the Trump regime hosted a gathering of 52 military mothers and spouses for Mothers Day. Attendees were all white women, despite racial and ethnic minority groups making up roughly 40% of armed services, and women serving as well.
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“Ukraine stops investigating Manafort (who helped destroy their democracy, and maybe ours) in exchange for a missile shipment from Trump. Congrats America, we are now a global protection racket.”
  1. At the gathering, Trump claimed earlier this year he approved the first pay raises for service members in a decade. This claim is false: pay has increased every year for more than three decades.
  2. On Sunday, Rep. Devin Nunes threatened that he planned to urge lawmakers to hold Sessions with contempt of court for failing to hand over classified materials related to the Russia investigation.
  3. On Tuesday, WAPO reported that last Wednesday senior FBI and national intelligence officials relayed an urgent message to the White House that the information Nunes is seeking could endanger a top-secret intelligence source.
  4. Top White House officials and Trump backed the decision after being persuaded that Sessions turning over documents could risk lives by exposing the source, a US citizen who has provided intelligence to the CIA and FBI.
  5. The information however has been turned over to Mueller. Nunes reportedly vented his frustration Sunday when he threatened Sessions.Several officials are concerned Trump may shift to support Nunes.
  6. On Wednesday, CBS News reported the Justice Department invited Reps. Nunes and Trey Gowdy to a briefing Thursday on the classified information Nunes demanded in a subpoena last week.
  7. On Thursday, Speaker Paul Ryan said he supports Nunes’ request to review surveillance documents, saying, “This request is perfectly appropriate.”
  8. On Thursday, after the private meeting, Nunes backed away from his open confrontation with the Justice Department after senior intelligence officials said they could not give him top-secret information about an intelligence source who aided Mueller.
  9. On Saturday, NYT reported that since the House Republicans issued their report finding no collusion between Trump and Russia in Week 76, Nunes’ committee has turned their attention from investigation to investigators.
  10. Top officials at the Justice Department are increasingly concerned that Nunes and Republican lawmakers are mining government secrets to weaponize against those investigating Trump, including Mueller.
  11. Nunes’ relationship with the Justice Department has so eroded that Speaker Ryan suggested Rep. Gowdy accompany Nunes on Thursday to help keep the meeting civil.
  12. AP reported that Mueller’s team has questioned Tom Barrack, one of Trump’s closest friends and confidants over decades, about possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.
  13. The interview, which reportedly happened months ago, focused on Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and included financial matters about the campaign, the transition, and Trump’s inauguration.
  14. On Sunday, WSJ reported that Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are planning to publicly release 3,000 Facebook ads bought by Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency (IRA).
  15. On Thursday the IRA ads were released. Some 3.7 million users clicked on the ads, and they were seen by over 33 million users, according to Facebook statistics. IRA spent $100,000 on the ads. Trump has yet to acknowledge Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  16. On Tuesday, NPR reported the US voting system is still vulnerable to cyberattacks six months ahead of midterms. Much of the process — registering to vote, finding the polling place, checking in, and voting — is still digital.
  17. The Department of Homeland Security said Russian hackers targeted 21 states in 2016. Hackers did break in to the registration system in Illinois, and stole the username and password of an election official in Arizona.
  18. On Wednesday, Politico reported Bolton is pushing to eliminate the top White House cybersecurity job, at a time the US faces growing digital threats. The role is currently held by Rob Joyce, who is departing.
  19. On Tuesday, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr said he hoped to wrap up the committee’s Russia probe in August, with a handful of witnesses left to interview and a number of interim reports to prepare.
  20. On Tuesday, Dutch attorney Alex van der Zwaan become the first person convicted in the Mueller probe to go to prison. His projected release date is June 4.
  21. On Friday, UK’s Electoral Commission fined Leave.EU £77,380 for breaches of election law in the 2016 EU referendum, and referred Leave.EU’s chief executive Liz Bilney to the police for “serious offenses.”
  22. On Thursday, Giuliani said Trump’s new lawyers have not held a lengthy prep session with Trump for a potential interview with Mueller’s team. Giuliani also said real negotiations about an interview are not happening.
  23. On Friday, in an interview with AP, Giuliani said Trump and his legal team will not decide whether Trump will agree to be interviewed by Muelleruntil after Trump’s summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on June 12.
  24. Giuliani said he did not expect Mueller to interview Ivanka, Donald Jr., Eric, or Kushner, adding “our understanding is that he’s pretty much finished,” and that Trump is “basically the last witness.”
  25. On Tuesday, Rachel Crooks, who alleges Trump kissed her without her consent when she was working as a receptionist in Trump Tower in 2006, secured her primary bid for state office in Ohio.
  26. In Tuesday’s primaries, women candidates won 17 of 20 Democratic races for open seats. Women donors have also set a new record, accounting for 31% of all monies going to House candidates, up from 27% in 2014.
  27. On Monday, New York AG Eric Schneiderman resigned after he was accused of physically abusing four women in an article published by The New Yorker. Trump had tweeted in 2013 on Schneiderman, “ Wait and see, worse than Spitzer or Weiner.”
  28. On Friday, Peter Gleason, who represented two additional alleged victims of Schneiderman, in a letter urged Judge Kimba Wood for an order to protect any records Cohen might have concerning their discussion of the women.
  29. On Tuesday, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney Michael Avenatti released a 7-page executive summary detailing payments to Essential Consultants, LLC, the entity established in October 2016 to make the hush payment to Clifford.
  30. Cohen set up an account at First Republic Bank in October 2016. In setting up the account, Cohen made certain representations that were false, constituting bank fraud. From October 2016 to January 2018 Cohen used the First Republic to engage in $4,425,033 of suspicious transactions.
  31. Essential received approximately $500,000 in eight payments from Russian oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg and his cousin Andrew Intrater through a company named Columbus Nova between January and August 2017. In Week 77, Vekselberg was interviewed by Mueller’s team.
  32. Intrater is the CEO of Columbus Nova, which was listed on the website of the Renova Group, a Russian asset management company, as one of its “companies” until November 2017. Renova’s website is currently listed as “under construction.”
  33. Intrater made several political donations, including $29,600 to the Republican National Committee in June 2017, $35,000 to the Trump Victory PAC in June 2017, and $250,000 to the Trump Inauguration Fund.
  34. Essential also received four payments of $99,980 each from Novartis from late 2017 to early 2018. Following these payments, Trump took a dinner meeting with the incoming Novartis CEO in Davos in late January 2018.
  35. Essential also received four payments of $50,000 from AT&T in late 2017 to early 2018. Essential also received a payment of $150,000 from Korea Aerospace Industries on November 27, 2017.
  36. Cohen also received, through Essential and/or Michael D. Cohen & Associates, at least $187,500 from Elliott Broidy.
  37. On Tuesday evening, AT&T confirmed it paid Cohen’s company $200,000 in four transactions, saying he “did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017.” AT&T asserted Cohen provided information about what made Trump tick.
  38. On Wednesday, Giuliani told TIME that Trump told him Tuesday night thathe does not know anything about payments from Vekselberg. But when asked about AT&T and Novartis, Giuliani said, “I have no idea. I doubt it.”
  39. On Wednesday, press secretary Sanders when asked about Avenatti’s allegations for Cohen selling access to Trump, responded, “I haven’t heard the president express any specific concerns about that.”
  40. Giuliani also said Trump’s legal team is confident that Mueller does not believe that Trump had a role in the transactions, saying, “He was good on it. Nobody’s concerned about it. It doesn’t involve us.”
  41. Later Wednesday, Giuliani told Bloomberg on the payments to Cohen,Trump “was unaware of this,” adding, Trump “is not involved in any respect. It’s a dead issue as far as I’m concerned.”
  42. On Wednesday, CNN reported Mueller’s team questioned Vekselberg, chairman of Renova Group, about payments made by the US subsidiary, Columbus Nova, to Cohen and Trump’s campaign and inaugural fund.
  43. Vekselberg was questioned about Intrater’s $300,000 in political donations to Trump. Intrater was also questioned in the Mueller probe. Vekselberg is under US sanction as of last month for actions including interfering in the 2016 election, so can no longer travel to the US.

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  1. In a statement, Columbus Nova said the company is “solely owned and controlled by Americans.” Cohen’s attorney has said Cohen has seven clients, but did not specify if Columbus Nova is one.
  2. Vekselberg, who attended Trump’s inauguration, this week attended the inauguration for Putin’s fourth term.
  3. On Friday, NPR reported that the FBI cautioned four years ago that a foundation controlled by Vekselberg, the Skolkovo Foundation, might have been acting on behalf of Russia’s intelligence services.
  4. In April 2014, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Lucia Ziobro wrote a column warning Vekselberg’s foundation may be part of a Moscow spying campaign seeking to siphon up American science and technology.
  5. On Wednesday, ProPublica reported Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s personal lawyer, also represented Columbus Nova in recent years in a commercial case. A spokesperson for Kasowitz said the case settled in early 2017.
  6. Kasowitz’s work for Columbus Nova stretches back to at least 2010. ProPublica also reported that Cohen spent a short period in February 2017 working at the offices of Kasowitz Benson Torres in midtown Manhattan
  7. On Wednesday, AT&T and Novartis both said they asked for information by Mueller’s team in November 2017 about their relationship with Essential Consulting. Both companies said they fully cooperated.
  8. On Wednesday, AT&T said it paid Cohen $600,000 (not $200,000), composed of a year’s payment of $50,000 per month, as part of a consulting contract to get insight into Trump’s thinking.
  9. On Wednesday, STAT reported that Cohen pitched himself to Novartis’ then-chief executive officer Joe Jimenez in early 2017, promising help gaining access to Trump and influential officials in the new regime.
  10. On Wednesday, Novartis issued a statement, saying the company had paid Cohen’s Essential Consultants $100,000 per month ($1.2 million total) for advice on how Trump would approach US health-care policy.
  11. Novartis said a month after signing the deal, executives met with Cohen and he “would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated.” The contract expired on February 2018.
  12. On Wednesday, the Treasury Department inspector general said it is investigating whether Suspicious Activity Reports on Cohen’s banking transactions were “improperly disseminated” to Avenatti.
  13. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Columbus Nova is listed as the owner of several websites targeted toward white nationalists, including Alt-right.co, Alternate-right.com, Alternate-rt.com, Alt-rite.com and others, created during the 2016 election.
  14. Intrater’s brother Frederick, who is a design manager at Columbus Nova, is also named alongside the company on the registration for the websites. Frederick claimed he was not acting on behalf of Columbus Nova, although he used his company email address.
  15. On Thursday, WAPO reported that according to documents obtained, the $600,000 payment by AT&T was part of a deal for Cohen to provide advice on the $85 billion merger with Time Warner.
  16. On Friday, AT&T issued a memo saying it did not hire Cohen to lobby on its behalf. AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson wrote in the memo, “our past association with Cohen was a serious misjudgment.”
  17. Also in the memo, Bob Quinn, AT&T’s head lobbyist who oversaw the hiring of Cohen, announced he is retiring. Two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters Quinn was forced to retire.
  18. On Friday, Giuliani escalated his battle with Avenatti, telling Business Insider he wouldn’t debate Avenatti as offered, because “I don’t get involved with pimps.
  19. Avenatti responded, tweeting “Hey Rudy — It turns out I’m not the only “pimp” you have experience with,” along with a video from Independent UK showing Giuliani dressed in drag while being seduced by Trump.
  20. On Friday, Avenatti tweeted, “Why was Mr. Cohen paying Demeter Direct Inc. in Los Angeles large sums of money from his Essential Consultants LLC account? Keep attacking me Mr. Giuliani and @foxnews.”
  21. On Friday, CNN reported Mark Ko, the head of a company called Demeter Direct, served as a middle person between Cohen and Korea Aerospace Industries. Ko said, “The payment was all legal based on the contract.”
  22. On Friday, WSJ reported Cohen had also made an overture to provide consulting services to Ford Motor Co. in January 2017, but was quickly rejected. Cohen had touted his proximity to Trump.
  23. Mueller’s team has since requested information from Ford about Cohen’s outreach including emails and records, and has interviewed Ford’s head of government affairs, Ziad Ojakli, who was the recipient of Cohen’s pitch.
  24. On Friday, Giuliani told HuffPost that Cohen never spoke with Trump about his big-dollar clients, saying “Whatever lobbying was done didn’t reach the president.”
  25. To offer proof, Giuliani admitted AT&T’s planned merger with Time Warner did not go through because of Trump, “ He did drain the swamp …The president denied the merger. They didn’t get the result they wanted.”
  26. On Saturday, Giuliani attempted to backtrack in the morning, telling CNN “He told me directly he didn’t interfere.” The White House also issued a statement saying, “The Department of Justice denied the deal.”
  27. On Thursday, Trump greeted three Americans freed from North Korean prison, two who were imprisoned while he was in office, at an air base in Maryland along with Melania, Pence, and Pompeo when they arrived at 3 a.m.
  28. Hours before the freed Americans arrived, Trump said in a cabinet meeting that “everyone thinks” he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for their release, adding “But I would never say it. The prize I want is victory for the world.”
  29. As Trump boarded Marine One back to the White House, he told reporters,“I think you probably broke the all-time in history television rating for 3 o’clock in the morning.”
  30. On Thursday, at a rally in Elkhart, Indiana with Pence, Trump got cheers from the crowd when he said he deserves an “extension” of his presidency past 8 years.
  31. Trump then tried to walk back the comment, saying the media would be “happy” when he is no longer in office, but that, “When I’m not here, their ratings are going to sink.”
  32. On Wednesday, NRATV host Dan Bongino warned that Trump will be impeached if Republicans lose the House in the midterms, urging his viewers, “It’s time for us to protect the crown.”
  33. On Thursday, a day after Sen. McCain opposed Haspel’s nomination, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney supported the use of torture on Fox Business, saying, “it worked on John. That’s why they call him ‘Songbird John.’”
  34. On Thursday, Kelly Sadler, a special assistant in the White House, said of McCain during a discussion among the White House communications staffers about Haspel’s nomination, “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.
  35. The White House refused to apologize for comments by Sadler, who showed up for work Friday. Sanders told reporters, “I’m not going to validate a leak one way or the other out of an internal staff meeting.”
  36. ABC News reported at a staff meeting Friday, Sanders called Sadler’s comment “unacceptable,” but was more upset about the leaks. Sadler apologized to Meghan McCain, but is not expected to be fired.
  37. On Friday, former Vice President Joe Biden, whose son died from the same type of brain cancer as McCain was diagnosed with, said, “People have wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration. It happened yesterday.”
  38. On Thursday, on NBC’s “Today” show, parroting Trump, Pence said that one year in it’s time to end the Mueller probe: “we’ve fully cooperated…I think it’s time to wrap it up.”
  39. On Thursday, Kelly told NPR of the Mueller probe, “Something that has gone on this long without any real meat on the bone, it suggests to me that there is nothing there, relative to our president.”
  40. Kelly also said Trump was “somewhat embarrassed, frankly” about the Russia probe, and that he and Trump have “a close relationship” and spend up to eight hours a day together.
  41. On Thursday, NYT reported Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told colleagues she almost resigned after Trump berated her in a lengthy tirade in front of his entire cabinet Wednesday for her failure to adequately secure the nation’s borders.
  42. One persistent issue which has upset Trump is Nielsen resisting his direction that parents be separated from their children when crossing illegally as a way to deter immigration.
  43. Nielsen, a Kelly protege, had drafted a resignation letter, but had not submitted it. One person close to Nielsen said she is miserable in the job. Trump reportedly views her with suspicion because she worked for years for George W. Bush.
  44. As Pruitt and Nielsen and Kelly have all been rumored to fired or resign, NPR reported Trump has already had more Cabinet turnover in his first term than any US leader in the past 100 years.
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“Elephants take a long time to decompose… and the stench can be unbearable.”
  1. Politico reported that based on a report it obtained, the first stage of a multibillion-dollar military-VA digital health program championed by Kushner was so riddled with problems it could have led to patient deaths.
  2. The Pentagon’s evaluation lists 156 “critical” or “severe” incident reports with the potential to result in patient deaths. The program’s price tag was $20 billion, and was designed to address problems with military and veteran health care.
  3. On Friday, Trump laid out his strategy to reduce prescription drug prices, but in a break from one of his most popular campaign promises, dropped his call for Medicare to negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers.
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“And let’s not kid ourselves… rotting donkeys stink too.”
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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 63: “THIS ONE IS BROKEN”

Week 62 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

January 20, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-62-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-e261e4c56fab

Trump marked his one-year anniversary in office with a government shutdown, the first shutdown in history when a single party is in control of the House, Senate, and White House. Trump’s erratic behavior and fluid positions on issues were fuel on the flames of a country and Congress torn and divided. Conversely, the anniversary of the Women’s March celebrated millions marching in 250 cities across the country, and marked a record number of women running for office and becoming politically involved.

This week new evidence emerged of Russia’s effort to financially support Trump’s 2016 campaign, while the Mueller probe engulfed more Trump insiders quoted in Wolff’s book. With all the noise and chaos, it was again easy to miss the continued dismantling of our federal agencies, and disappearing rules and protections for women and marginalized communities.

The art featured in this week’s post is by Jim Carrey, a multi-talented, “WOKE” human. Three more brilliant pieces are featured at the bottom of this, unfortunately, extensive list: 

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  1. In Week 61 a false missile warning was sent to Hawaiians on Saturday. At the time, Trump was golfing at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, and was informed within minutes while having lunch.
  2. Residents and visitors of Hawaii were not informed it was a false alarm for 38 minutes, despite state officials and Trump knowing within minutes.Frantic messages between loved ones show “goodbyes”, and “I love yous”.
  3. Trump made no mention of the incident on Saturday, instead tweeting about “fake news” and the Wolff book. On Sunday evening, Trump told the press, “Well, that was a state thing…I love that they took responsibility.”
  4. Politico reported the erroneous alert sent the White House scrambling, and raised concern about the regime’s preparedness. The regime has not yet tested a formal plan for how to respond to a domestic missile attack.
  5. On Tuesday, Japanese public broadcaster NHK issued an apology after the company’s app issued a false alert saying North Korea had likely launched a ballistic missile, warning, “evacuate inside the building or underground.”
  6. On Saturday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted a meme, “Fake news is at it again!” accusing the Wall Street Journal of misquoting Trump. The Journal quoted Trump as saying, “I probably have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un.”
  7. Late Saturday, the WSJ released the tape of the interview via a tweet. The Journal stated they have reviewed the audio “as well as the transcript provided by an external service, and stand by what we reported.”
  8. On Sunday morning, Trump attacked the WSJ, tweeting, “Obviously I didn’t say that,” and in a second tweet, “and they knew exactly what I said and meant. They just wanted a story. FAKE NEWS!”
  9. On Sunday, the WSJ issued a statement, again refuting Trump and saying the Journal stands by what was reported.
  10. Trump also said in the WSJ interview that he “should get credit for firing” James Comey, saying “it turned out I was right” because “many things have been found out about Comey” since his departure.
  11. Dozens of refugees from Puerto Rico who came to Connecticut after Hurricane Maria are set to be evicted from hotels by FEMA, after the agency said their homes back on the island are “habitable,” so they should go back.
  12. The Detroit Free Press reported after 30 years in the US, 40 year-old Jorge Garcia, a husband and father, was deported to Mexico. Garcia has no criminal record, not even a traffic ticket, and paid his taxes every year.
  13. Economic Policy Institute said if Trump’s Department of Labor proposed rule allowing employers to pocket tips so long as they pay minimum wagegoes into effect, women workers would lose $4.6 billion, 80% of the $5.8 billion lost.
  14. Politico reported Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services is planning to expand “conscience” protections for those who do not want to perform abortions or treat transgender patients based on their gender identity on the basis of moral objections.
  15. Intercept reported on a prosecutor in Whatcom County, Washington who sought a warrant to get Facebook to disclose names of anti-pipeline activists. The first two attempts were fought and won by the ACLU and Facebook.
  16. Facebook advised the prosecutor to seek formal guidance from the Department of Justice, and on the third request, using a DOJ template, the prosecutor was successful in obtaining a warrant and gained access tomessages to and from the page and a list of everyone “invited” to the protest event.
  17. Simon Edelman, a photographer for the Department of Energy, was fired after leaking a photo of Secretary Rick Perry embracing Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy, at private meeting. Edelman is seeking whistleblower protections.
  18. According to a report released by Gallup, the number of Americans without health insurance grew by 1.3%, the biggest increase since 2008, as 3.2 million Americans went uninsured during Trump’s first year.
  19. The House unveiled a bipartisan landmark sexual assault bill under which taxpayers would no longer pay for sexual harassment settlements in cases involving members of Congress, and victims would have more rights and resources when filing a complaint.
  20. An employee of the Agriculture Department anonymously issued a statement saying the USDA is being dismantled from within, citing talent flow are retiring or quitting, and positions on the front lines going unfilled.
  21. Betsy DeVos’s Education Department awarded two companies with contracts to collect overdue student loans, including Performant Financial, a company with ties to DeVos. The contracts are worth hundreds of millions.
  22. Reuters reported Simon Henshaw, a top US diplomat in charge of refugee issues resigned, becoming the third State Department senior official to depart or be reassigned from refugee work in recent weeks.
  23. McClatchy reported the unexpected departure of top ranked diplomat John Feeley sent shock waves through the State Department. Sixty percent of top-ranking career diplomats have left, and staffers wonder who will leave next.
  24. Staffers said the departure caused them reassess their commitment to a regime they feel is undercutting the department’s work and US influence in the world. New applications to join the foreign service have fallen by half.
  25. The New York Times reported that under the Trump regime, which has embraced corporate interests, the uranium mining industry is making a renewed push into areas of the Grand Canyon and Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument.
  26. Mining companies lobbied Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke extensively to shrink Utah’s national monuments, which the regime did in Week 56. Abandoned mines have already left a toxic legacy in these areas, included tainted groundwater.
  27. On Wednesday, 10 of the 12 members of the National Park Service advisory board resigned. In May 2017, Zinke suspended all outside committees while he reviewed their work. No meetings have taken place.
  28. The resignations leave the federal government without a body to designate national historic and natural landmarks, and again illustrates the extent to which the Trump regime has marginalized federal advisory boards.
  29. Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency, in a shift from past practices, is “streamlining” the safety review of new chemicals. Experts and advocates warn the regime is skipping important steps to “protect the public from hazardous chemicals.”
  30. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, now under Mick Mulvaney’s leadership, is considering repealing of a key set of rules enacted last year which protect consumers against predatory payday lenders.
  31. WSJ reported, citing funding cuts, the CDC plans to scale back or halt its work to prevent infectious-disease epidemics and other health threats in 39 foreign countries, narrowing their work down from 49 to 10 countries.
  32. Politico reported Teresa Manning, the anti-birth control official who led Trump’s HHS Title X federal family planning program, was fired last Friday. Manning maintains she resigned.
  33. On Thursday, Trump appointee Carl Higbie resigned as chief of external affairs for the volunteer service organization after CNN unearthed racist, sexist, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBTQ comments he made on radio shows.
  34. The Washington Post reported Trump has yet to put forth a nominee for 245 of the 633 key roles in the executive branch which require Senate confirmation, including the role of ambassador to South Korea.
  35. On Sunday, conservative columnist Erick Erickson tweeted Trump called friends to brag about his “shithole” countries remark, adding according to one friend, Trump “thought it would play well with the base.”
  36. On Sunday talk shows, Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue changed their recollection of not recalling Trump’s comments in Week 61, to aggressively going after Senator Dick Durbin for “gross misrepresentation,” saying the words were not spoken.
  37. On Sunday, Department of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, told “Fox News Sunday” that she did not recall Trump “saying that exact phrase,” adding Trump “will continue to use strong language” because he feels “very passionate about immigration.”
  38. On Sunday evening, Trump again denied the “shithole” countries remark to reporters, saying “I’m not a racist,” and “I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you.”
  39. On Monday, Trump attacked Durbin, branding him as “Dicky Durbin” and saying Durbin “misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting.”
  40. On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Trump went golfing and held no public events. Past US leaders from both parties have done some form of community service to commemorate King’s life of service.
  41. On Monday, in a slight towards Cotton and Purdue, Sen. Lindsey Graham said “My memory hasn’t evolved. I know what was said and I know what I said.”
  42. On Monday, WaPo reported on the past Thursday meeting on immigration. On a 10:15 a.m. call with Durbin, Trump expressed pleasure and was on board with Durbin and Graham’s bipartisan immigration pact.
  43. When Durbin and Graham arrived at the White House at noon, Trump was surrounded by immigration hardliners and was “fired up.” Trump said he was not interested in the bipartisan plan, and started his racist rant.
  44. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, based on a “Fox & Friends” segment, that his approval ratings with Black Americans has doubled and unemployment for Black Americans is the lowest ever. The approval statement is false, and unemployment for Black Americans has been declining since 2011.
  45. On Tuesday, Nielsen testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was pressed by Democrats. She told Durbin she remembered just “general profanity.” Sen. Cory Booker told Nielsen her silence and amnesia are “complicity.”
  46. A Quinnipiac poll found American voters say 58–35 percent that Trump’s alleged comments on immigrants are racist. Americans disapprove 57–38 of the job Trump is doing.
  47. On Saturday, the Trump regime’s US Citizenship and Immigration Services, following a federal court order in Week 61, resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA.
  48. On Tuesday, the Trump’s DOJ said it would take the rare step of asking the Supreme Court to overturn the federal judge’s DACA ruling and allow the regime to phase out DACA, beginning in March.
  49. On Tuesday, Jeff Sessions told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that a “good nation” does not admit immigrants who are “illiterate” and have “no skills.” Sessions also criticized Graham for reciting Emma Lazarus’ poem inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
  50. On Wednesday, Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly told Democratic lawmakers that Trump’s hard-line immigration policies were “uninformed,” and the US would never construct a wall and that Mexico would never pay for it.
  51. On Thursday, Trump took to Twitter to push back on Kelly’s remarks, saying NAFTA was “a bad joke,” and saying a reworked trade deal would make Mexico pay for his wall “directly or indirectly.”
  52. On Thursday, GOP Rep. Scott Perry falsely claimed on Tucker Carlson’s show that ISIS was behind the Las Vegas shooting, based he said on what he “believed” to be “credible evidence.”
  53. Corey Lewandowski said he would voluntarily appear before the House Intelligence Committee this week for the committee’s Russian investigation. On Tuesday, he hired lawyer Peter Chavkin, of Mintz Levin, to represent him.
  54. On Tuesday, NYT reported Steve Bannon was subpoenaed last week by Mueller, the first grand jury subpoena to a member of Trump’s inner circle. Bannon was cast aside by the Trump regime and Breitbart in Week 61.
  55. The subpoena was issued shortly after Wolff’s book, quoting Bannon, was released. NYT reported the subpoena may be a sign Bannon is not a targetof the Mueller probe since the DOJ rarely allows targets to be subpoenaed.
  56. On Tuesday, Bannon went before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors. WaPo reported that Mueller subpoenaing Bannon before he spoke to Congress may have been a way to cement his cooperation.
  57. Bannon arrived on Tuesday without documents and refused to answer questions about conversations. Bannon’s attorney William Burck said the White House had told Bannon not to respond, “executive privilege belongs to the President of the United States. It’s not Mr. Bannon’s right to waive it.”
  58. The House then issued a subpoena, but Bannon still refused to cooperate. Bannon spent more than 10 hours behind closed doors, and will be called back. As per Week 61, Burck also represents McGahn and Priebus.
  59. Late Tuesday, the Daily Beast reported according to sources, although Bannon is not cooperating with the House Intelligence Committee, he will tell all to Mueller. The House subpoena was issued by Trump ally Devin Nunes.
  60. Bloomberg reported Don McGahn’s office was deeply involved with instructing Burck on which questions Bannon could answer, raising questions of conflicts with McGahn’s role as a witness and Burck representing him.
  61. On Wednesday, chief of staff Kelly told Fox News that the White House didn’t urge Bannon to invoke executive privilege, saying, “Steve has had very, very little contact with the White House since he left.”
  62. On Wednesday, Reps. Michael Conaway and Adam Schiff instructed Bannon to return on Thursday. Burck responded the committee did not give Bannon sufficient time to prepare and to complete discussions with the White House.
  63. The committee then proposed an alternative date for Bannon to return on January 29. Bannon has yet to agree to that date.
  64. Foreign Policy reported Trump made the decision to curtail Bannon’s testimony to the House citing executive privilege based on legal advice from deputy White House counsel Uttam Dhillon. This privilege will not extend to Mueller.
  65. NBC News reported FBI agents visited Bannon’s home last week to serve him with a subpoena to testify before a grand jury as part of the Trump-Russia probe. This indicates Mueller still has a grand jury empaneled.
  66. The agents were unaware Bannon had retained Burck hours earlier. The agents then served Burck. Bannon could be interviewed by Mueller’s team before the end of the month.
  67. Axios reported Bannon made one important slip up in his House testimony, when he admitted he’d had conversations with Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, and former legal spokesman Mark Corallo about Donald Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting with Russians.
  68. Politico reported Corallo, who is mentioned in Wolff’s book, hired attorneys Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova ahead of possible being called in by Mueller’s team.
  69. Corallo spent a two-month stint on Trump’s legal team, and resigned in July 2017. Wolff’s book speculates Corallo quit in part over Trump’s role in crafting Don Jr.’s statement on the June 9 meeting.
  70. AP reported that the White House’s contention is that “pretty much everything is off limits” until Trump says it’s not. This week the House Intelligence Committee also interviewed Trump insiders Lewandowski, Rick Dearborn, and Hope Hicks.
  71. BuzzFeed reported Mueller’s team is investigating transactions marked as “suspicious activity” by Citibank, which handles Russian embassy accounts, which were sent to the US Treasury’s financial crimes unit.
  72. Included in the unusual activity was a $120,000 payment to Sergey Kislyak ten days after the election, and an attempt to withdraw $150,000 from the Russian embassy account five days after Trump’s inauguration.
  73. On Thursday, McClatchy reported the FBI is investigating whether Alexander Torshin, a top Russian banker with ties to Putin, illegally funneled money to the NRA to help Trump win the 2016 election.
  74. The NRA spent a record $55 million in 2016, including $30 million to Trump, three times what the group donated to Romney in 2012. Most was spent by an arm of the NRA which is not required to disclose donors.
  75. Torshin has ties to organized crime, and has been implicated of money laundering in Spain. Per Week 53, Torshin tried to arrange a meeting with Trump through Jared Kushner, but instead sat with Donald Jr. at a NRA dinner.
  76. On Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee released testimony by Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS. Much of the information overlaps with the Senate testimony release in Week 61, but there is additional detail,
  77. Simpson testified that he believes Trump’s golf courses in Scotland and Ireland may have been financed by illicit Russian money, something Eric Trump discussed in a radio interview with WBUR, then later denied.
  78. Simpson also singled out Trump properties in Panama and Toronto where Russian mafia figures were listed as buyers. Simpson said Russia’s mafia is under the dominion of the Russian government and Russian intelligence.
  79. Simpson said the Russian government had “infiltrated” the NRA via Torshin, and other conservative organizations to influence the US election. Ironically Simpson said, Putin is not in favor of universal gun ownership.
  80. Yahoo News reported that hacking group Shadow Brokers, which leaked hacked classified NSA manuals, very likely used Kaspersky software to exfiltrate the documents as part of a Russian intelligence operation.
  81. A status hearing for George Papadopoulos, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating in the Mueller probe, was postponed for up to 90 days, an indication the probe will stay active at least until spring.
  82. German monthly Manager Magazin reported Deutsche Bank could have information about suspicious money transfers by Kushner and Kushner Companies. Deutsche Bank has submitted the suspicious information to the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority for Germany, BaFin.
  83. Politico reported the criminal trial for Paul Manafort and Rick Gates is likely to start in September, just before the midterm elections. The judge admonished Gates for an event where lobbyists said Mueller’s team was “very unfair.”
  84. Trump attorney Ty Cobb revised his timing of when Mueller would complete the special counsel probe, saying it will be wrapped up in 4 to 6 weeks. Cobb also speculated the investigation will ultimately be immaterial.
  85. Daily News reported Omarosa Manigault-Newman may have taped West Wing conversations, and now fears being subject to the Mueller probe. A source said the WH cell phone ban was due to Omarosa’s history of recording conversations.
  86. A new poll by PBS Newshour, NPR, and Marist found that 42% of Americans have not heard of Mueller. Whether they know him or not, two-thirds of Americans want his team to be able to finish the investigation.
  87. Tristan Harris, a former Facebook manager told NBC News Facebook, which put profits ahead of users, is a “living, breathing crime scene” for the 2016 election,” adding, “only they have full access to what happened.”
  88. On Friday, Twitter announced as part of their efforts towards transparency following Congressional hearings, 677,775 people in the US were notified they had followed, tweeted or liked content from a Russia-linked bots.
  89. Twitter also updated the number of Russia-linked bots involved in US election interference to over 50,000, and raised the number associated with Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency from 1,000 to 3,800.
  90. Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock, which manages $6 trillion in investments, said he would be informing public companies they need to contribute to society, not just make profits, for BlackRock to support them.
  91. On Monday, the WSJ reported that in early 2017, US counterintelligence told Kushner that Wendi Deng Murdoch could be using her relationship with Ivanka to further the interests of the Chinese government.
  92. Kushner and Ivanka emerged as important contact points within the Trump regime for the Chinese government in early 2017. Both Kushner Companies and Ivanka’s brand have continuing business ties to China.
  93. Rep. Elijah Cummings is pushing House Oversight Committee chair Trey Gowdy to subpoena the WH for documents related to Flynn and Kushner’s security clearance. Cummings questions why their clearances were not suspended.
  94. NBC News reported watchdog group Public Citizen, in a report titled “Presidency for Sale,” analyzed monies spent at Trump properties during 2017 in order to curry favor with the president, raising concerns of conflicts of interest.
  95. The report cited four foreign governments, 16 special interest groups, and 35 Republican congressional campaign committees spent money at Trump properties in 2017. The biggest spender was Saudi Arabia.
  96. Documents obtained by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch show Trump spent an additional $3.2 million since June on flights to his properties, bringing the total money spent on Trump travel to $15.5 million.
  97. Miami Herald reported a November inspection of Mar-a-Lago turned up two priority lodging violations which could pose a “significant threat to the public health” and 15 violations in the club’s two main kitchens.
  98. Bloomberg reported that Wolff got access to the White House by pitching a sympathetic view of Trump’s first 100 days. In the inexperienced White House , almost everyone who spoke to him thought someone else had approved it.
  99. On Tuesday, Trump hosted Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, at the White House. Nazarbayev has been accused of committing human rights violations and cracking down on political opposition.
  100. At a press conference with the two leaders, Trump ordered CNN’s Jim Acosta, “Out!” after Acosta peppered Trump with questions about which immigrants Trump would let in: “Just Caucasian or white countries, sir?”
  101. On Wednesday, Sen. Jeff Flake delivered a speech on the Senate floor about Trump’s attacks on the press and the truth. Flake said Trump’s lies have eroded “trust in our vital institution.”
  102. Flake compared Trump’s rhetoric towards the media to that of Joseph Stalin, citing his repeated use of “enemy of the people,” and adding “the free press is the guardian of democracy.”
  103. Flake also criticized his colleagues for not standing up to Trump, saying “a Congress that fails to act as a check on the president adds to the danger.”
  104. Also on Wednesday, Flake’s fellow Arizona senator, John McCain, penned an op-ed telling Trump to stop attacking the press, saying Trump’s rhetoric is providing cover for regimes around the world to crack down on free press.
  105. McCain cited the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) data showing 2017 was “one of the most dangerous years to be a journalist.” CPJ also documented 21 journalists were jailed on “fake news” charges in 2017.
  106. That evening, Trump launched what was, according to him, his “Highly-Anticipated 2017 Fake News Awards,” which he tweeted were selected to single out “the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media.”
  107. Trump chose to launch his awards on the Republican National Committee website, which proceeded to crash with the incoming traffic. The website finally came back online a little over an hour later.
  108. CNN reported that Trump has used the word “fake” — “fake news,” “fake polls,” “fake media,” and “fake stories” — as an insult more than 400 timessince taking office, averaging more than once per day.
  109. On Thursday, in lieu of normal editorial page content, the NYT editorial board devoted the page entirely to letters from Trump supporters.
  110. The owner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a Trump ally, ordered the paper to run an editorial defending Trump from charges of racism. The move sparked outrage in a city where Hillary won 75% of the vote.
  111. CNN reported that a Fox News reporters, Diana Falzone, had filed a story about the alleged sexual relationship between Trump and Stephanie Clifford in October 2016, but executives at Fox News killed it. Clifford uses the stage name “Stormy Daniels.”
  112. WSJ reported Trump lawyer Michael Cohen used a private Delaware company, Essential Consultants LLC, established on October 17, 2016, to make the $130,000 payment to Stephanie Clifford cited in Week 61.
  113. Cohen listed himself as the “authorized person” for the company, rather than hiring a lawyer or an agent, a tactic used to obscure identity. Clifford was identified as “Peggy Peterson” in the agreement to hide her identity.
  114. Cohen had planned to use a Delaware company called Resolution Consultants LLC, created September 30, to make the payment. On the morning he created Essential, he dissolved Resolution two minutes later.
  115. Mother Jones reported that during a series of sexual and romantic encounters between Stephanie Clifford and Trump, he had her spank him with a Forbes magazine with him, Ivanka, and Donald Jr. on the cover.
  116. On Friday, the Trump regime rescinded 2016 guidance from the Obama administration which said defunding Planned Parenthood could be against federal law.
  117. Variety reported Trump may skip the Super Bowl pre-game interview, breaking a decades-old tradition. Trump has been highly-critical of NFLplayers for kneeling during the national anthem.
  118. On Tuesday, in a special election in the 10th state senate district in Wisconsin, Democrat Patty Schachtner won by nine points, in a district Trump carried by 17 points in 2016.
  119. On Thursday, Trump visited Pennsylvania’s 18th district where a special election for a congressional seat will be held in March. Trump tweeted he was going “to give my total support to RICK SACCONE,” a “great guy.”
  120. Later that morning, the White House denied Trump’s visit to Pennsylvania was for Saccone’s campaign. Press secretary Sanders said the trip was instead “to discuss the incredible successes his tax plan is already achieving.”
  121. A Gallup survey of 134 countries found approval of US leadership at 30% after Trump’s first year, a record low and down from 48% in Obama’s last year. China is second at 31%, and Germany is now the top-rated global power at 41%.
  122. In the Western Hemisphere, Trump’s approval plummeted: Canadian approval of US leadership fell from 60% to 20%, and Mexico approval fell from 44% to 16%. Approval of US leadership in Iceland is just 8%.
  123. Trump finished his first year with 37% approval, the lowest in modern history. Unlike his predecessors, Trump’s approval stayed in a narrow 10 point range since he took office, the least movement since Johnson.
  124. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported Trump would mark the one-year anniversary of his inauguration with a gala at Mar-a-Lago, with tickets starting at $100K a couple, and $250K to participate in a roundtable.
  125. At the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, the government shut down. This is the first government shutdown in which one party is in the control of the House, Senate, and White House.
  126. Trump was originally scheduled to fly to Mar-a-Lago on Friday at 4 p.m. He canceled due to the shutdown, but the Mar-a-Lago Saturday gala moved forward without him, with Donald Jr. and Eric hosting in his place.
  127. In Week 9, before taking office, Trump said he would hand over the family businesses to Donald Jr. and Eric, and not mix politics with business.
  128. USA Today reported a year after Trump’s inauguration, for which the committee raised a record $106.7 million, there is still no clarity or accounting of where the leftover funds have gone.
  129. Trump raised double what Obama’s committee raised, for a much smaller event. Thomas Barrack, the inaugural committee’s chairman, had said extra money would go to charity, but would not comment to USA Today.
  130. Mother Jones outlined women’s political activism in the year since the Women’s March: a record 602 are running for office in 2018, 480 of who are not incumbents; 441,808 donated $200 or more to a federal political campaign in the first half of 2017, eight times higher than 2013.
  131. On the anniversary of the historic Women’s March, millions of women, children, and male allies again took to the streets in cities across the country.
  132. The size of the Women’s March in Chicago exceeded last year, as over 300K showed. Hundreds of thousands showed up at marches in DC, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and tens of thousands in 250 cities across the country including Austin, Charlotte, Cleveland, Chattanooga, and more.

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