POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 109: NO VISION FOR 2019

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Wynwood, Miami, Florida. 8dec18

DECEMBER 08, 2018

Week 108

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-108/

This week featured the normalcy and tranquility of the funeral of George H.W. Bush, juxtaposed with bombshells of damning information on Trump coming from the Mueller probe and other investigations. As the Mueller probe is reportedly nearing its close, Mueller’s team filed court memos relating to three of its most high profile defendants: Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, and Paul Manafort. The Southern District of New York also filed a memo on Trump Friday —including the clearest implication yet that Trump committed felonies. As the country awaits Mueller’s final report, Trump’s White House has no plans to counter it in place, but rather will reportedly wing it.

This week major stock indexes tumbled more than 4%, erasing all the year’s gains, as economic data softened, showing Trump’s trade tariffs and the growing budget deficit are slowing the economy. As Trump’s second year comes to a close, he reportedly has no vision or strategy for 2019, save for his xenophobic and racist agenda, and instead is distracted by the Mueller probe and the incoming Democratic House majority. Continued shake-up in personnel plague the regime, and many key roles remain vacant, or are filled with loyalists who are unqualified.

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Artist: Claudia Labianca. 3dec18. Wynwood, Miami, Florida.
  1. As votes continued to be tallied, Democrats secured the largest midterm margin in history for House races of 9.6 million votes (8.5%). The previous record was 8.7 million votes in 1974, months after Watergate.
  2. Bloomberg reported Trump and Putin did chat Friday night on the sidelines of the G20. Trump had canceled a scheduled formal meeting. Russian media had insisted the two would have an “impromptu” meeting.
  3. Press secretary Sarah Sanders defended the informal meeting in a statement, saying “As is typical at multilateral events,” Trump “had a number of informal conversations with world leaders.”
  4. On Sunday, Axios reported Alan Dershowitz is still advising Jeffrey Epstein about legal issues. Dershowitz helped Epstein get a sweetheart plea deal from then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, now Trump’s labor secretary.
  5. A bombshell story in the Miami Herald revealed dozens of women alleged Epstein molested and raped them when they were underage. Epstein has ties to Trump, Bill Clinton, Dershowitz, and other powerful men.
  6. On Monday, Sen. Ben Sasse sent three letters to senior Justice Department officials, asking them to open investigations into federal officials who handled the Epstein case, calling it an “epic miscarriage of justice.”
  7. On Tuesday, Epstein settled a suit filed by lawyer Bradley Edwards, who said Epstein had damaged his reputation, silencing women who were his alleged victims and were expected to testify.
  8. The Houston Chronicle reported Peter Sean Brown, 68, a U.S. citizen born in Philadelphia, was held for deportation to Jamaica by ICE after being processed for a probation violation over testing positive for marijuana.
  9. ICE was called in by Monroe County’s sheriff Richard Ramsey, who is being sued by the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center for unlawfully arresting and detaining a U.S. citizen.
  10. Monroe is one of more than a dozen Florida counties that in January 2018 entered a new arrangement with ICE under which sheriffs are compensated $50 for extending the detention of “criminal aliens.”
  11. The new NAFTA deal, signed at the G20 summit, watered down protections for LGBTQ individuals, taking away the wording that prevented discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  12. The Justice Department named Kerri Kupec as a senior spokesperson. Previously, Kupec worked at Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ group, designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  13. Boston Globe reported police are investigating a man who allegedly pushed over a Hanukkah menorah near Harvard University’s campus, then rode away on his bicycle, as a possible hate crime.
  14. Schindler’s List,” the epic film about the Holocaust, returned to theaters, 25 years after its initial release.
  15. Conservative pastor and commentator E.W. Jackson lamented the election of two Muslims, saying “The floor of Congress is now going to look like an Islamic republic,” adding, “The threat to humanity is Islam, period.”
  16. Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar, one of the first two Muslim women elected to serve in Congress, responded tweeting, “Well sir, the floor of Congress is going to look like America…And you’re gonna have to just deal.”
  17. On Thursday, monthly figures released by the Department of Homeland Security show the number of people arrested or denied entry along the Mexico border reached a new high in November.
  18. U.S. Customs and Border Protection detained a record 25,172 members of “family units,” and 5,283 “unaccompanied minors.” Together these make up 60% of the 62,456 arrested or denied entry, up from 60,772 in October.
  19. On Thursday, NYT reported Victorina Morales, who served as Trump’s housekeeper at his golf club in Bedminster for five years, is an undocumented immigrant, having crossed the U.S. border illegally.
  20. Morales, who is Guatemalan, say she was hurt by Trump’s equating Latin American migrants with violent criminals. She also said there are several undocumented immigrants working for Trump’s club in Bedminster.
  21. Morales said when she was interviewed for the job, she had no legal working documents. When Trump announced his candidacy in 2015, a maintenance worker helped her procure a realistic-looking green card.
  22. On Thursday, BuzzFeed reported days before migrants set out from Honduras, an imposter hijacked the Facebook account of Bartolo Fuentes, and used it to boost the caravan’s numbers.
  23. Fuentes is a well-known activist, journalist, and lawyer. The imposter used the phony account to send Facebook messages falsely claiming that established migrant groups were organizing the caravan.
  24. On Wednesday, WAPO reported according to email obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, a White House appointee at Veterans Affairs silenced a VA diversity chief in the aftermath of Charlottesville.
  25. Diversity chief Georgia Coffey, who pushed for a forceful condemnation by Trump and a statement from VA leaders (40% of VA employees are minorities), was told to stand down as part of a White House directive.
  26. WAPO reported Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie in a 1995 speech praised Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy as a “martyr to the ‘Lost Cause,’” and an “exceptional man in an exceptional age.”
  27. On Friday, self-professed neo-Nazi James Fields Jr. was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing Heather Heyer in Charlottesville during the white-supremacist “Unite the Right” rally and counter-protests.
  28. Fields will now face a federal trial on hate crimes that carries the possibility of the death penalty. There aremore trials and lawsuits to come, including one against Jason Kessler, one of the rally’s organizers.
  29. Ammon Bundy quit the militia movement in solidarity with the migrants in a video on Facebook, saying nationalism is the opposite of patriotism, and criticizing Trump for demonizing Central American migrants.
  30. On Monday, in a pair of tweets, Trump lashed out at Michael Cohen, who he said has done “TERRIBLE” things “unrelating to Trump,” has “lied for this outcome,” and should “serve a full and complete sentence.”
  31. Trump also tweeted that Cohen “makes up stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself, his wife and father-in-law (who has the money?) off Scott Free.”
  32. Merriam-Webster reported online searches for the definition or spelling of scot-free spiked 3,100 %, and mused on Twitter: “‘Scot-free’: completely free from obligation, harm, or penalty. ‘Scott Free’: some guy, probably.”
  33. Also on Monday morning, Trump tweeted praise of Roger Stone, saying “he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies” about Trump, and “nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!’”
  34. Trump also tweeted “Bob Mueller (who is a much different man than people think) and his out of control band of Angry Democrats” only want lies, adding “The truth is very bad for their mission!”
  35. Trump’s tweet was widely condemned. George Conway, husband of Kellyanne, tweeted “File under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1512,” the sections of the federal code dealing with obstruction of justice and witness tampering.
  36. On Monday, Eric Trump attacked Conway, tweeting “Of all the ugliness in politics, the utter disrespect George Conway shows,” adding Kellyanne “is great person and frankly his actions are horrible.”
  37. On Monday, NYT reported that in May 2017, Manafort discussed a deal with Ecuador’s incoming president, Lenín Moreno, to help negotiate a deal to hand over Julian Assange to the U.S., in exchange for a fat commission.
  38. Manafort also pitched himself to a range of governments facing various challenges, including Puerto Rico, Iraqi Kurdistan, and the United Arab Emirates, presenting himself as a liaison to the new Trump regime.
  39. On Monday, a federal judge said the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland could move forward with subpoenas for records from Trump’s hotels in their emoluments clause lawsuit.
  40. On Monday, Yahoo News reported Mueller’s prosecutors have told defense lawyers in recent weeks that they are “tying up loose ends” in their investigation of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  41. Mueller’s team has told Congressional investigators looking to issue new subpoenas for testimony that their investigation has reached a mature stage and they have spoken to almost everybody they want to talk to.
  42. On Monday, Roger Stone’s attorney said in a letter that he was invoking Fifth Amendment’s protection, declining to share documents and testimony requested by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  43. On Tuesday, in a heavily redacted sentencing memo filed by the special counsel, Mueller recommended that Michael Flynn serve no prison time, citing his “substantial assistance” with several ongoing investigations.
  44. Flynn has been cooperating since he was forced out as national security adviser in February 2017, including19 interviews, providing “firsthand information,” and turning over documents and communications.
  45. The memo noted Flynn’s “early cooperation was particularly valuable” given his “long-term and firsthand insight,” and his guilty plea “likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming.”
  46. The memo also noted Flynn’s “record of military and public service distinguish him from every other person who has been charged,” adding, “senior government leaders should be held to the highest standards.”
  47. An addendum to the memo identified three matters in which Flynn is cooperating: collusion with Russia, and heavily redacted sections possibly related to obstruction of justice, and an unknown “Criminal Investigation.”
  48. On Tuesday, Rudy Giuliani told NBC News that he is not concerned about Flynn, saying “If he had information to share with Mueller that hurt the president, you would know it by now,” adding, “They don’t have bupkis.”
  49. On Thursday, WSJ reported a federal grand jury in Virginia has sought more information on efforts overseen by Michael Flynn’s private company Flynn Intel Group to discredit a U.S.-based Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen.
  50. Federal prosecutors have also asked for information on several people involved in the project, including Ekim Alptekin, the Turkish businessman who financed it. Alptekin claims the Turkish government is not involved.
  51. On Monday, in a rare lame-duck session, Wisconsin Republicans moved ahead with a bill to move the 2020 presidential primary date, costing the state millions, to benefit a conservative state Supreme Court justice.
  52. With an incoming Democratic governor, the proposal would also shift power to the GOP-controlled legislature. Protestors banged on the Capitol doors and chanted “Respect our votes!” and “Shame!”
  53. A spokesperson for the Democratic Governors Association called the GOP “banana republic dictators,” and said they are ignoring the will of the people. A top GOP legislator said they “don’t trust” the incoming governor.
  54. In Michigan, where Democrats won governor, attorney general, and secretary of state, GOP lawmakers introduced measures that would water down authority on campaign finance oversight and other legal matters.
  55. On Tuesday, the Wisconsin senate approved 81 of outgoing GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s appointees for membership on boards, authorities, and councils. Walker also appointed a judge and two district attorneys.
  56. On Wednesday, Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature passed legislation which consolidates power in the GOP-led legislature at the expense of the incoming governor and attorney general, both Democrats.
  57. Among other things, the legislation erodes the ability of the governor to enact laws, and requires the legislature to approve whether the state can pull out of a federal lawsuit, like repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
  58. Hours later, Republicans who control Michigan’s legislature striped campaign-finance oversight power from the incoming secretary of state, and moved to give the GOP-led legislature additional powers.
  59. On Monday, the Charlotte Observer reported Leslie McCrae Dowless, who worked for Republican Mark Harris’ campaign in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, is at the center of a voter fraud investigation.
  60. Dowless has a criminal record, including felony fraud. The election board subpoenaed Harris’ campaign Monday, and has collected information that high-level campaign officials may have been aware of Dowless’ activities.
  61. The probe is focused in on irregularities in mail-in balloting, mostly from Bladen County, where an unusually high percentage of Black (36%) and Native American (55%) ballots were not returned, versus whites (18%).
  62. On Tuesday, a North Carolina woman admitted to “harvesting” ballots for Harris. She was paid $75 to $100 a week and gave the ballots to Dowless. It is illegal in North Carolina for a third party to turn in absentee ballots.
  63. On Thursday, Democrat Dan McCready, who conceded the day after the election, withdrew his concession. Harris said Friday he would back a new election if potential fraud altered the election result.
  64. The Charlotte Observer called for a new election. However, after past unsubstantiated accusations of voter fraud by Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Kris Kobach, and others, national Republicans were silent.
  65. HuffPost reported incoming House Oversight Committee chair Rep. Elijah Cummings wants to call Brian Kemp to testify before Congress about allegations of voter suppression to help his campaign.
  66. An analysis by Forbes revealed that Trump shifted $1.1 million of campaign-donor money donors meant for his 2020 re-election into his business by continuing to charge his campaign for hotels, food, and rent.
  67. Politico reported email accounts of four senior aides at the National Republican Congressional Committee were surveilled for several months. The intrusion was detected in April 2018 and reported to the FBI.
  68. Senior Republicans were not informed about the hack. NRCC officials said they were conducting their own investigation and feared that revealing the hack would compromise efforts to find the culprit.
  69. On Monday, in a memo published to the FCC website, chair Ajit Pai admitted “half-million comments” on net neutrality were “submitted from Russian e-mail addresses.” Pai had earlier denied Russian involvement.
  70. The memo also indicated that over half of the almost 22 million comments came from phony, temporary, or duplicate email addresses, and reportedly only 17.4% of the comments were unique.
  71. Pai also rejected two Freedom of Information Act requests filed by NYT and BuzzFeed, seeking “IP addresses” and “server logs,” respectively, associated with public comments submitted on net neutrality.
  72. On Tuesday, more than 400 former Justice Department officials and attorneys serving both parties said in a letter they are “disturbed” by Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.
  73. On Tuesday, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee expressed concern in a letter to DOJ officials about Whitaker’s financial disclosure forms, which were only recently certified as true by ethics officials.
  74. Whitaker also has not confirmed whether he has initiated an ethics review of possible conflicts, now four weeks after his appointment. The DOJ declined to discuss recusal issues.
  75. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Mattis approved an extension of active duty troops at the U.S.-Mexico border through January 31. The Pentagon estimated the cost of the deployment through December 15 is $72 million.
  76. On Tuesday, WAPO reported that under acting director Mick Mulvaney, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s publicly announced enforcement actions by the bureau have dropped about 75% from recent years.
  77. In the past year, at least 129 employees have left. Mulvaney appointed staffers with no relevant experience, who previously worked for the financial sector or against the bureau, and paid salaries of up to $259,500.
  78. On Thursday, the Senate voted 50-49, along party lines to confirm Trump nominee Kathleen Kraninger to lead the CFPB. Kraninger has no relevant experience, and is expected to continue a business friendly approach.
  79. Trade group Consumer Bankers Association, whose members include Bank of America and Wells Fargo, celebrated Kraninger’s confirmation, as she becomes one of the country’s most powerful banking regulators.
  80. On Monday, Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, called for the end of Obama-era subsidies for electric vehicle purchases, which were created by Congress, without specifying how he would do so.
  81. On Wednesday, nations assembled in Poland for climate talks. Reports show global carbon emissions reached a record in 2018, an estimated growth of 2.7%.
  82. The biggest growth in emissions came from India (6%), China (5%), and the U.S. (2.5%), while dropping in the European Union (-0.7%). The United Nations Secretary General said, “We are in deep trouble.”
  83. On Thursday, Trump’s EPA proposed rolling back a major Obama-era climate rule, loosening restrictions on future coal power plants. Coal advocates cheered, although the industry has not been adding capacity.
  84. On Thursday, the Trump regime said it would roll back Obama-era protections of the habitat of the endangered sage grouse bird, in a move to free up nine million acres of land for oil and gas drilling.
  85. On Sunday, Trump bragged of reaching a trade truce with China at the G20 summit, claiming China will “immediately” begin buying more American agricultural products and drop its 40% tariffs on American cars.
  86. Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer and daughter of the founder of the Chinese tech giant Huawei, was arrested in Canada and extradited to the U.S. to stand trial for violating sanctions against Iraq.
  87. On Tuesday, amid President Xi’s silence on a supposed deal, Trump tweeted “I am a Tariff Man,” saying he was prepared to impose higher levies if Xi did not live up to the agreement Trump claims they reached.
  88. In a break from the usual protocol for top-level trade talks, the U.S. and China did not release a joint statement on the talk that took place Saturday, instead issuing two very different readouts of what occurred.
  89. On Tuesday, the Dow tumbled more than 800 points and bond yields plummeted on investors’ doubts over the U.S.-China trade truce.
  90. On Tuesday evening, Trump tweeted, “we are either going to have a REAL DEAL with China, or no deal at all,” claiming we will reach a deal “either now or into the future,” adding, “China does not want Tariffs!”
  91. On Wednesday, while the markets were closed for the funeral of George H.W. Bush, Trump tried to assure markets, tweeting, “Not to sound naive or anything, but I believe President Xi meant every word of what he said.”
  92. On Wednesday, during the funeral for George H.W. Bush, observers noted a feeling of nostalgia for a bygone era of mutual respect and admiration of leaders pre-Trump. At the request of the Bush family, Trump was invited.
  93. The scene was palpably awkward as Trump and Melania sat next to former presidents and first ladies, including Obama, whom he called illegitimate, Hillary whom he said should be in prison, and Bill, whom he said assaulted women.
  94. Trump sat with his arms crossed, and did not recite the Apostles’ Creed or sing hymns. NYT reported Trump was miffed by so many ceremonial events not related to him, but proud of himself for remaining civil.
  95. On Wednesday, Daily Beast reported that when aides and advisors tried to get Trump to tackle the growing budget deficit in April 2017, which was projected to continue to grow, he said, “Yeah, but I won’t be here.”
  96. On Wednesday, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said she will keep an “open mind” about closing an Ohio plant, acknowledging the anger publicly expressed by Trump and the Ohio’s two U.S. senators.
  97. On Thursday, the Commerce Department announced the U.S. trade deficit hit a 10-year high, increasing 1.7% to $55.5 billion, the highest level since October 2008.
  98. On Thursday, the stock market plummeted again on fears over U.S.-China trade relations at a global economic slowdown, down again by 780 before rebounding to close the day slightly lower.
  99. On Friday, the Dow tumbled again, losing more than 500 points, and wiping out all gains for the year, amid a weaker-than-expected jobs report and China-U.S. trade tensions.
  100. On Tuesday, CIA director Gina Haspel briefed a group of Senate leaders on the agency’s conclusions on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Senators from both parties said it was clear that the Saudi crown prince was behind it.
  101. Leading Democrats called for a full Senate briefing by Haspel. It was unclear what, if any, actions the Senate would take. In Week 107, Mike Pompeo and Mattis had echoed Trump’s reluctance to blame the crown prince.
  102. On Wednesday, WAPO reported within months of the 2016 election, Saudi-funded lobbyists booked 500 rooms at Trump Hotel DC, spending more than $270,000 to house six groups of visiting veterans.
  103. On Wednesday, Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stood by his commitment to not vote to advance Trump’s judicial nominees until the bill to protect Mueller gets a vote.
  104. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee said in January they plan to refer transcripts to Mueller’s team of interviews with Kushner, Donald Jr., Stone, Corey Lewandowski, Rhona Graff, Hope Hicks, and Keith Schiller — to be reviewed for possible falsehoods.
  105. On Wednesday, Daily Beast reported on a target letter sent to Paul Erickson, a longtime Republican operative who was Maria Butina’s boyfriend, from federal investigators saying they may bring charges.
  106. The letter sent in September by the U.S. attorney’s officer in Washington, says investigators are considering charging him under Section 951, the law barring people from secretly acting as agents of foreign governments.
  107. On Thursday, Mother Jones reported the Trump campaign and the National Rifle Association used intertwined consultants to spearhead TV ad buys at the height of the 2016 election.
  108. Both the NRA’s and the Trump campaign’s ad buys were authorized by the same person: National Media’s chief financial officer Jon Ferrell. Experts say the arrangement appears to violate campaign finance laws.
  109. On Thursday, CNN reported prosecutors and defense attorneys for Maria Butina, may be near a plea deal. The judge canceled an upcoming hearing and said subpoenas planned for American University may be withdrawn.
  110. On Thursday, Trump cited his 50% approval at Rasmussen, and blamed Mueller for it not being higher, tweeting “Without the phony Russia Witch Hunt” it would be at 75%, adding, “It’s called Presidential Harassment!”
  111. On Thursday, the Atlantic reported Trump’s White House has no plan for how to counter the Mueller report. Instead the regime is winging it, with no strategy in place for responding, other than an expected Twitter spree.
  112. Aides say Trump would likely ignore a plan anyway, so crafting one is futile. Former officials also noted the difficulty in coming up with a strategy when Trump has not been forthright about what happened.
  113. On Thursday, CNN reported in the days after Trump fired Comey, then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe opened an obstruction of justice investigation before special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed.
  114. McCabe and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein viewed Trump as a leader who needed to be reigned in. An obstruction probe was previously considered, but did not start until Trump fired Comey on May 9, 2017.
  115. The probe included the Comey firing, and the Oval Office conversation where Trump asked Comey to drop the investigation of Flynn. Sources say the FBI would only open an investigation if a crime was suspected.
  116. On Thursday, shortly before 10 p.m., CNN’s New York offices received a phoned-in bomb threat, indicating there were five bombs in the building.
  117. The NYPD said they responded to a call from CNN reporting the threat at 10:08 p.m. The building was evacuated and shortly after, the show was broadcast from the street. Employees returned shortly before midnight.
  118. On Thursday, Trump tweeted “FAKE NEWS — THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!” at 10:08 p.m.
  119. On Thursday, the Guardian reported that Mueller’s team has interviewed Trump’s adviser in London, Ted Malloch, about his frequent appearances on RT, considered by U.S. intelligence to be Russian propaganda.
  120. Malloch was contacted by Jerome Corsi on August 2, 2016 at Stone’s behest, to visit Assange and get an update on email releases. On that day, Assange appeared on RT and said he would release additional emails.
  121. On Friday, in a series of seven angry morning tweets, Trump attacked Mueller and his team, accusing them of conflicts of interest saying, “Robert Mueller and Leakin’ Lyin’ James Comey are Best Friends.”
  122. Trump also claimed prosecutors have “wrongly destroyed people’s lives,” citing “Andrew Weissman’s horrible and vicious prosecutorial past,” and the woman prosecutor whose name he could not remember in Corsi’s case.
  123. Trump also mentioned Rosenstein, who he said is conflicted, along with “Bruce Ohr (and his lovely wife Molly), Comey, Brennan, Clapper, & all of the many fired people of the FBI.”
  124. Trump also responded to the Atlantic story, tweeting “We will be doing a major Counter Report to the Mueller Report,” adding “This should never again be allowed to happen to a future President.”
  125. On Friday, Comey testified behind closed door to the House Intelligence Committee. An exasperated Comey told reporters he had been aggressively questioned about the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
  126. Comey had fought the congressional subpoena in court, pushing for a public hearing. Republicans, who will have a House majority for just two more weeks, will call Comey back on December 17.
  127. Politico reported amid slow-motion staff shake-ups, the regime is in a holding pattern: Trump has offered almost nothing in the way of a legislative vision for 2019 beyond border security and a new trade deal.
  128. Of the 706 key roles in the executive branch which require Senate confirmation, just 382 (54%) have a confirmed nominee, while 125 (18%) positions have not had a nominee named yet.
  129. On Thursday, in his first speech since being fired as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson said Trump directed him to do things that were illegal, and that he learned of his firing through Trump’s tweet congratulating Pompeo.
  130. On Friday, Trump responded, tweeting “Pompeo is doing a great job,” but Tillerson “didn’t have the mental capacity needed,” and was “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell,” adding, “I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough.”
  131. On Friday, CNN reported chief of staff John Kelly is expected to resign in the coming days. Although in the summer, Trump had asked Kelly to stay on for two more years, the two are no longer on speaking terms.
  132. On Friday, CNN reported Mueller’s team has questioned Kelly on his recollection of an episode that took place after new reporting emerged that Trump had tried to fire Mueller.
  133. On Friday, Trump appointed former Fox News anchor Heather Nauert as U.S. ambassador to the UN. Nauert had little experience in government or foreign policy before joining the State Department in April 2017.
  134. As the State Department spokesperson, Nauert has made missteps, including citing D-Day as the height of U.S.-German relations. At Fox News, she spread conspiracy theories and shared xenophobic storylines.
  135. On Friday, also via Twitter, Trump announced the nomination of William Barr, who served as attorney general for the George H.W. Bush administration from 1991 to 1993, to become his attorney general.
  136. Barr supports a strong vision of executive powers. He also has criticized aspects of the Russia investigation, saying Mueller hired too many prosecutors who had donated to Democratic campaigns.
  137. Barr also has defended Trump calling for a new criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton, saying he saw more basis for investigating Uranium One than the alleged conspiracy between Trump’s associates and Russia.
  138. On Saturday, Trump said Kelly will leave the White House by the end of the year. While Nick Ayers is the leading candidate to become chief of staff, the replacement for Kelly is still unclear.
  139. On Friday, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found overall 54% of Americans believe the Mueller probe is fair, versus 33% who say it is a “witch hunt,” and 13% are unsure.
  140. Only Republicans were against Mueller, with 17% saying the probe is fair and 77% a witch hunt. Democrats (82%) and Independents (55%) said the probe was fair, versus a witch hunt (10% and 30%).
  141. On Friday, Giuliani told CNN that Mueller’s team believes Manafort is lying to them about Trump, although he said he was not sure the information would show up in the special counsel’s filing today.
  142. On Friday, the Southern District of New York and special counsel Robert Mueller filed new, separate court papers ahead of next Wednesday’s sentencing of Cohen.
  143. The documents portrayed Cohen as a criminal who deserves little sympathy or mercy, and who lied and held back information from the FBI. The document said he should be sentenced to “substantial” prison time.
  144. The documents said “Cohen successfully convinced numerous major corporations to retain him as a ‘consultant’” by promising access to to the Trump regime, and profited by “more than $4 million dollars.”
  145. The SDNY memo said “While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows.”
  146. The SDNY memo said “Individual 1” (Trump) was directly involved in efforts to buy the silence two women, intended to influence the campaign, and thereby constituted violations of campaign finance law, a felony.
  147. Mueller’s memo revealed a previously unknown November 2015 contact between Cohen and a “trusted person” in the Russian Federation offering the campaign “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level.”
  148. Mueller’s memo described planning a meeting between Trump and Putin, and that Cohen discussed this with Trump prior to suggesting it in a September 2015 radio interview, as Putin was about to visit New York City.
  149. Mueller’s memo also cited Cohen’s lies to Congress “obscured the fact that the Moscow Project was a lucrative business opportunity that sought, and likely required, the assistance of the Russian government.”
  150. Mueller’s memo said if completed, the Trump Organization could have received “hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues,” and discussions continued during the campaign.
  151. Mueller’s memo said Cohen also provided “relevant information” about contacts with people connected to the White House between 2017 and 2018, the first indication of his involvement with post-election matters.
  152. On Friday, in a heavily redacted document, Mueller’s team said Manafort lied about five major issues after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors, including his “contact with administration officials.”
  153. The document also revealed that despite Manafort saying he had no contacts with the Trump administration post-inauguration, he was in contact with officials in early 2018, even after being indicted in late 2017.
  154. The document also cited evidence of undisclosed electronic communications with Konstanin Kilimnik, who Mueller has said has ties to a Russian military intelligence unit, as well as travel records and meetings.
  155. The filing said Manafort has met with Mueller’s team 12 times, and at four of those meetings, prosecutors from outside the special counsel’s office attended. He also testified twice before a Mueller grand jury.
  156. The special counsel also said Manafort of lied about a $125,000 wire transfer, and lied in connection with an investigation separate from the Mueller probe. Manafort will be sentenced in March.
  157. Shortly after the documents were released, Trump tweeted, “Totally clears the president. Thank you!” Sarah Sanders added the Cohen filings “tell us nothing of value that wasn’t already known.”
  158. On Saturday, Trump tweeted “AFTER TWO YEARS AND MILLIONS OF PAGES OF DOCUMENTS (and a cost of over $30,000,000), NO COLLUSION!”
  159. Later that morning, Trump quoted Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera, tweeting, “This is collusion illusion, there is no smoking gun here…after millions have been spent, we have no Russian Collusion.”
  160. Trump also tweeted, “Time for the Witch Hunt to END!”
  161. On Friday, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision denied the Trump regime’s request to enforce a ban on asylum for any immigrants who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
  162. The panel said the regime’s ban is inconsistent with an existing U.S. law: “Just as we may not, as we are often reminded, ‘legislate from the bench,’ neither may the Executive legislate from the Oval Office.”
  163. On Saturday, the fourth weekend of anti-government protests turned violent in Paris, as police cracked down on thousands of “Yellow Vests” protesting a planned increase in a fuel tax and Macron’s economic policies.
  164. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, erroneously blaming the riots on the climate change agreement, saying “People do not want to pay large sums of money… in order to maybe protect the environment.”
  165. Trump later tweeted, “Maybe it’s time to end the ridiculous and extremely expensive Paris Agreement,” falsely claiming the U.S. was “the only major country where emissions went down last year!
  166. The State Department told a senate subcommittee China has “indefinitely detained” at least 800,000 Muslim minorities in internment camps, forcing them to renounce Islam and embrace the Chinese communist party.
  167. NYT reported Denmark’s immigration minister announced that roughly 100 unwanted migrants who have been convicted of crimes but cannot be returned to their homeland will be housed on a tiny, hard-to-reach island.
  168. Like much of Europe, Denmark has had a surge in migration in 2015 and 2016, prompting a populist, nativist backlash. Advocates say they are monitoring for possible violations of Denmark’s international obligations.
  169. Trump’s Department of Agriculture finalized the rollback of the school lunch regulations championed by former first lady Michelle Obama. The program was designed to provide healthier foods for 30 million children.
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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 82: FLOTUS IS MISSING !

Week 81 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

June 2, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-81-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-4995c7fcd890

This week, Trump is pushing for meetings with North Korea and Russia, while aggressively confronting some of our closest allies, Canada, Mexico, and the European Union with an ill-planned, unprovoked trade war — reminiscent of a theme we’ve covered at The Weekly List: Trump cozying up to authoritarian regimes and alienating our democratic allies. As noted before, this new world alignment, distancing our country from our democratic allies, benefits and empowers Russia.

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Los Angeles, CA – based street artist, PLASTIC JESUS, began circulating these last week. 
  1. WAPO reported the number of migrant children held in custody without their parents has surged 21% in the past month up to 10,773 under the Trump regime’s new policy of “zero tolerance.”
  2. A Health and Human Services official said shelters are at 95% capacity, and as the agency prepares to add thousands of new bed spaces in the coming weeks, the agency is exploring housing children on military bases.
  3. In Texas, Dennis Rivera-Sarmiento, a “quiet kid” and an undocumented Honduran immigrant was flagged for deportation by ICE after a schoolyard scuffle with a girl who bullied him. He was released from detention after efforts by the school, community, and lawyers.
  4. ICE still classifies schools as “sensitive locations” where enforcement actions are generally prohibited, but a pronouncement by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in Week 80 may open the door to more referrals.
  5. Advocates also note that in the era of Trump, ICE makes arrests of parents picking up children at school, and in some cases, school disciplinarianshave helped to build ICE cases against students.
  6. Houston Chronicle reported on a leaked photo image which shows dozens of immigrants in orange jumpsuits with their hands and feet shackled, undergoing a “mass trial” in Pecos, Texas.
  7. The mass trial comes as the Trump regime implements its zero-tolerance policy announced by Jeff Sessions which orders prosecutors to criminally charge 100 percent of immigrants entering the country illegally.
  8. VICE reported, as the Trump regime ramps up separating parents from children, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has quietly informed organizations it is cutting a federal program in place for decades that helps at least 1,000 immigrant minors each year.
  9. ORR will no longer fund organizations representing unaccompanied minors in immigration court. In the past two weeks alone, 658 kids were divided from their mothers and fathers as they crossed the border.
  10. BuzzFeed reported a Salvadoran mother who applied for asylum on May 2 as part of a caravan of Central Americans, and passed the first steps of the process, said her sons ages 2 and 7 were taken away from her on May 8.
  11. She was given no explanation, “The official said you have 10 minutes to say goodbye…they kept asking me why they were leaving me. I couldn’t tell them why.” Her sons were placed in the care of the federal government in New York.
  12. On Friday, WAPO reported the number of migrants attempting to cross illegally into the U.S. remained high in May, despite implementation of the regime’s zero-tolerance measures and deployment of the National Guard.
  13. In the coming days, the Department of Homeland Security will release the numbers of May arrests along the Southwest border. Trump has used thismeasure to gauge the success of his hard-line immigration policies.
  14. Midwest farmers are becoming desperate for workers. In Week 80, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the Department of Homeland Security would issue 15,000 seasonal guest-worker visas. Border agents said families and teenagers traveling alone make up most of the increase this spring.
  15. The New England Journal of Medicine published a Harvard study on mortality in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, estimating 4,645 may have died, many from delayed medical care. The official death count is 64.
  16. The report also found the mortality rate remained high as of the end of December 2017, with roughly one-third of the deaths attributed to delayed or interrupted health care.
  17. Researchers from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other institutions who conducted the study for a cost of about $50,000 said the territory’s government refused to provide data to them.
  18. The Harvard numbers make Hurricane Maria the single most deadly natural disaster in modern America. NPR noted the federal government had three times as many people on the ground in Texas (Harvey), and twice as many in Florida (Irma).
  19. National Nurse United, the largest union for registered nurses, said the study confirmed what nurses who went to the island witnessed: residents “left to die” by a federal response that “failed its own American citizens.”
  20. NBC News reported the mountain areas of Puerto Rico are still living in desperation, one sign reads, “We need light!” Puerto Ricans told NBC, “we are suffering here,” and “we feel like we’ve been forgotten.”
  21. On Friday, the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics (PRIS) filed a lawsuit to compel Puerto Rico’s public officials to publish in an open source way preliminary and daily updates about deaths in Puerto Rico.
  22. In Week 47, Trump praised his regime’s relief response as “incredible,”bragging “only 16 people are known to have died,” many less than Katrina(1,833 deaths). Trump has made no mention of Puerto Rico in many months.
  23. On Saturday, Trump lashed out at the Mueller probe, saying, “whole Russia Probe is Rigged,” and attacking the “13 Angry Democrats,” a reference to Mueller’s team. Mueller is a Republican and others on his team owe their jobs to Republican presidents.
  24. Trump also tweeted, “#SPYGATE & CONFLICTS OF INTEREST!” andasking when the 13 will “reveal their disqualifying Conflicts of Interest?” saying, “the only Collusion is with the Dems, Justice, FBI & Russia.”
  25. On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani said on “State of the Union” that Trump’s use of “Spygate” is a PR tactic to sway public opinion and avoid impeachment, “Members of Congress…are going to be informed a lot by their constituents.”
  26. On Sunday, in a series of tweets, Trump attacked Obama for doing nothing “about the so-called Russian Meddling” because Obama thought Hillary would win. Trump has not acknowledged Russian meddling.
  27. Trump also asked why the “13 Angry Democrats” have not investigated “Crooked Hillary Clinton” and her “ many crimes, much Collusion with Russia?” adding, “Rigged Investigation!”
  28. Trump sent a strange tweet, “Who’s going to give back the young and beautiful lives (and others) that have been devastated and destroyed by the phony Russia Collusion Witch Hunt?” saying they came to Washington DC with “stars in their eyes” and “ went back home in tatters!”
  29. On Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio told “This Week” that he sees “no evidence” to support Trump’s claims that the FBI spied on his campaign, saying the FBI was, “investigating individuals with a history of links to Russia.”
  30. On Sunday, Rubio also told “Face the Nation” that Congress would take steps to challenge Trump and prevent ZTE from operating in the U.S., saying China uses companies like ZTE for espionage.
  31. On Monday, Memorial Day, Trump sent a tone-deaf tweet, saying “those who died for our country would be very happy,” saying “Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER.”
  32. On Monday, Trump also attacked Sally Yates in a tweet, quoting Jonathan Turley on Fox News, “Sally Yates is part of concerns people have raised about bias in the Justice Dept. I find her actions to be really quite unbelievable.”
  33. On Monday, NYT reported with “Spygate,” Trump, who has trafficked in conspiracy theories for decades, is again using elaborate, unproven theories to erode public trust, and his efforts are having an effect.
  34. Critics worry Trump is sowing distrust in institutions, and in undermining the idea of objective truth, creating widespread suspicions of the government and news media. Some Republicans have joined Trump in spreading conspiracy theories.
  35. On Monday, WAPO reported that increasingly in the White House, Trump is unilaterally making decisions. Key roles like communications director, formerly held by Hope Hicks, remain unfilled.
  36. In recent months, Trump has unofficially performed the roles of many other senior staffers, leaving those employees to carry out his decisions. Staffers also focus on trying to curb Trump’s most outlandish impulses.
  37. Warring factions within the regime are largely gone, and replaced by solo players seeking to win favor with Trump. Remaining staffers say they “get” Trump.
  38. On Tuesday, Rep. Trey Gowdy, who attended the classified briefing last week, told Fox News the FBI was not “spying” on the Trump campaign, saying “the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do.”
  39. Judge Andrew Napolitano, a close ally of Trump, also appeared on Fox News and agreed with Gowdy, saying of the spy accusations, “There is no evidence for that whatsoever.”
  40. On Wednesday, Gowdy told “This Morning,” that Trump’s lawyers “have an obligation to go share with him” what lawmakers learned, repeating “Russia’s intentions toward our country were the target.”
  41. On Friday, Politico reported that Gowdy is under fire from his GOP colleagues for challenging Spygate. Trump allies have been branding him gullible or clueless backer of the intelligence community.
  42. Gowdy, who in the past shouldered politically explosive investigations led by the Republican Party, now finds himself getting little support from his House colleagues.
  43. A federal court blocked DeVos’s Department of Education from paring back a loan relief program for defrauded students at failed Corinthian College. The agency under DeVos has shown leniency for for-profit education scams.
  44. DeVos had said some students would only get a part of their federal student loan forgiven, based on their earning. The court said the agency’s use of Social Security Administration data violates the Privacy Act.
  45. Politico reported that Sinclair Broadcasting, forced to sell two dozen television stations to comply with federal ownership rules, is making side-deals which allows it to continue to dictate programming at four stations.
  46. John Bolton tapped Fred Fleitz as National Security Council chief of staff. Fleitz last worked at the Center for Security Policy, designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group for espousing espouses anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.
  47. Trump appointed Diane Foley to help manage the federal government’s family-planning program at DHS. Foley, an anti-science religious fundamentalist is also staunchly anti-choice.
  48. In her new role, Foley will be a primary overseer of Title X, the federal program that provides subsidized contraception and screenings for cancerand STIs for low-income Americans.
  49. On Friday, a judge in Des Moines, Iowa temporarily blocked the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, which bans most abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
  50. On Sunday, California Women’s head basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb was confronted by a Southwest Airline employee at the Denver Airport,and asked to prove that her biracial son was hers.
  51. In Northern California, Jonathan McConkey, a pilot and certified flight instructor and his assistant, Kelsi Hoser, tried to kidnap a Chinese student and send him “back to China.” Police foiled the plot.
  52. On Thursday, HuffPost reported a Washington, DC judge dismissed felony charges against 10 people arrested while protesting Trump’s inauguration, saying the government prosecutors withheld evidence.
  53. The government withheld undercover videos that James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas had turned over. The judge called it a “serious violation,” and said the government is barred from bringing charges in the future.
  54. WSJ reported that Deutsche Bank’s U.S. operations were secretly downgraded by the Federal Reserve about a year ago, saying the bank is in “troubled condition,” a rare censure for a financial institution.
  55. The punitive action by the Fed means U.S. overseers have a say in Deutsche Bank’s U.S. hiring and firing, and also has pressured the bank to improve controls and oversight.
  56. On Thursday, the largest federal employee union sued the Trump regime, saying his executive order in Week 80 which severely restricts the time employees can spend on union activity violates the First Amendment.
  57. The FBI issued an urgent bulletin for people with a home or small office internet router to turn it off and on in order to thwart the spread of foreign malware, called VPNFilter, is linked to Russia.
  58. More than half a million devices worldwide have been compromised so far. The Justice Department has linked the malware to a hacking group including the Sofacy Group, apt28, fancy bear, and sandworm.
  59. On Wednesday, a U.S. judge dismissed two lawsuits by Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab that sought to overturn bans on the security software maker’s products in U.S. government networks.
  60. The bans were issued last year after U.S. officials said the software products could enable Russian espionage and threaten national security. Kaspersky is a graduate of the KGB, and has ties to the Kremlin.
  61. A federal study conducted by DHS found signs of sophisticated surveillance devices for intercepting cell phone calls and texts operating near the White House and other sensitive locations in Washington, DC.
  62. The study was prompted by a Sen. Ron Wyden pushing for a more aggressive response to cellular system insecurity. The study suggests foreign intelligence agencies are using sophisticated technology to spy on U.S. officials.
  63. On Tuesday, Trump held a rally in Nashville. Trump continued his focus on M-13 gang members, leading the crowd in chants to call them “animals,” and saying of Rep. Nancy Pelosi,“She loves MS-13, can you imagine?”
  64. Trump also incited the crowd onto chants of “lock her up!” evoking “Crooked Hillary,” and tried to get the crowd to boo George W. Bush.
  65. He also said Mexico was going to pay for The Wall, made factually incorrect and embellished statements on a number of topics, and falsely accused unnamed people of “infiltrating” his campaign.
  66. NYT listed the crowd size as 1,000 in Nashville. Trump complained Wednesday, tweeting, “The Failing and Corrupt @nytimes…This is the way they demean and disparage. They are very dishonest people.”
  67. On Wednesday, NYT issued a correction of its crowd-size estimate for the Trump rally, saying “the fire marshall’s office estimated that approximately 5,500 people attended the rally.”
  68. On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of the Mueller probe to reporters, “it’s called passing water through a sieve” — a Russian expression that means flogging a dead horse.
  69. On Tuesday, NYT reported on a confrontation between Sessions and Trump at Mar-a-Lago, after Sessions flew down in March 2017 to ask a pressing question on the travel ban after Trump refused to take his calls.
  70. Trump berated Sessions, and pressured him to reverse his decision to recuse himself. Mueller’s team is investigating Trump’s public and private attacks on Sessions, and efforts to get him to resign.
  71. Mueller’s team interviewed Sessions at length in January, as well as other current and former White House staffers. Eight of Mueller’s 49 questions for Trump relate to why he tried to get Sessions to reverse his recusal.
  72. On Wednesday, in a tweet, Trump said he wished he had had picked someone else as attorney general, and not Sessions.
  73. On Wednesday, late in the evening, Trump quoted his ally Joe diGenova, who appeared on Fox News, tweeting “The recusal Of Jeff Sessions was an unforced betrayal of the President of the United States.”
  74. On Thursday, Trump quoted Gowdy in his tweets about firing Sessions, “Sessions should have shared these reasons for recusal before he took the job, not afterward.”
  75. On Thursday, Axios reported Trump pressured Sessions to reverse his recusal on at least four times, three times in person and once over the phone. Officials say the four interactions happened throughout 2017, including at the end of the year.
  76. Trump reportedly told Sessions he would be a “hero” to conservatives if he did the “right thing” and reversed his recusal. Trump also urged him to investigate Hillary Clinton.
  77. On Wednesday, NYT reported Andrew McCabe wrote a confidential memo last spring in the chaotic days after James Comey was fired, detailing a conversation he had at the Justice Department with Rod Rosenstein.
  78. The memo reportedly describes that Trump originally asked Rosenstein to reference Russia in his memo, including that he was not under investigation. Rosenstein said this was unnecessary and did not include it.
  79. In a court filed update on Tuesday, Barbara Jones, the special master appointed by the judge in the Michael Cohen case, said prosecutors have released 300,000 pieces of potential evidence to prosecutors seized from Cohen.
  80. So far, 252 items have been flagged as privileged. Jones will make a recommendation to the court about that material by June 4. She also released one million files from three of his cell phones on Wednesday.
  81. On Wednesday, Jones said she had received “data from a video recorder, two computers, and mobile storage devices” that “includes various video, electronic communications and documents” in the last two weeks.
  82. Prosecutors said the government was piecing together documents from a paper shredder seized during the Cohen raid, noting “absent a search warrant, these records could have been deleted without record.”
  83. Cohen attorney’s said they have received 3.7 million files, of which 1.3 million have been turned over to Jones. The judge set a June 15 deadline for Cohen’s lawyers to determine what is privileged and turn over the rest.
  84. On Wednesday, Russian dissident journalist Arkady Babchenko sent shock waves around the world when he appeared at a news conference in Ukraine, less than 24 hours after being reported as dead.
  85. On Wednesday, CNN reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee is divided along party lines as to whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, making it unlikely the committee will reach a consensus.
  86. Daily Beast reported the Senate Intelligence Committee sent a document request to Roger Stone last week, and plans to call him in for an interview. Stone said he has “already begun to think about what to wear.”
  87. On Friday, NBC News reported Jared Kushner’s close friend, hedge fund manager Rick Gerson, is under investigation by Mueller’s team for a meeting with UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed in Seychelles in January 2017.
  88. The meeting took place less than two week before Trump’s inauguration, and around the time Erik Prince met with Russian and UAE officials. Prince Mohammed has close ties to George Nader, who organized the meeting.
  89. Gerson had met Nader weeks earlier at a secret meeting with Prince Mohammed, Kushner, Michael Flynn, and Steve Bannon at the Four Seasons in New York. UAE’s ambassador to the U.S., Yousef Otaiba, also attended.
  90. On Thursday, Trump quoted Rush Limbaugh, tweeting, “If they were really concerned about the Russians infiltrating a campaign (hoax)…Why not tell Trump?” Trump was warned by U.S. intelligence in August 2016.
  91. On Thursday, WAPO reported the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office recently interviewed Comey as part of an investigation of into whether his deputy McCabe lied to federal agents, and should be charged with a crime.
  92. The Justice Department Inspector General referred the case after accusing McCabe in April of misleading investigators and Comey four times, three of which were under oath, about authorizing a disclosure to the WSJ.
  93. On Thursday, Trump continued his lie about Spygate, tweeting, “the corrupt Mainstream Media is working overtime not to mention the infiltration of people, Spies (Informants), into my campaign!”
  94. Trump also contradicted his own statement to Lester Holt in Week 26 about his rationale for firing Comey, tweeting, “Not that it matters but I never fired James Comey because of Russia!”
  95. Trump also contradicted what he said about firing Comey to Lavrov and Kislyak in the Oval Office in Week 26: “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
  96. On Thursday, the Justice Department said the Mueller probe spent $4.5 million on between October 2017 and March 2018. The Justice Department spent another $5.5 million on supporting the investigation.
  97. Including prior expenditures, both direct and indirect, for the first six months, this brings total spending to $16.7 million. Mueller team’s cost is $7.7 million to date. Previous special counsels did not report indirect costs.
  98. In Week 80, Trump called the special counsel a “$20,000,000 Witch Hunt,” in a tweet. Kenneth Starr spent more than $52 million investigating Bill Clinton.
  99. On Friday, Trump tweeted, “A.P. has just reported that the Russian Hoax Investigation” cost “over $17 million, and going up fast.” The AP said it did not report the costs are going up, and that $9 million would have been spent absent the Mueller probe.
  100. On Saturday, Trump attacked the Mueller probe, parroting Dan Bongino on “Fox & Friends” — “$17 million spent, it’s a scam Investigation…We now know there was Russian collusion, with Russians and the Democrats.”
  101. Politico reported Trump lashed out at Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, saying he’s “past his prime” and “no longer a killer.” Ross has been increasingly marginalized by Trump, and barred from making trade deal decisions.
  102. On Wednesday, Trump threatened sweeping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, saying those U.S. trading partners failed to agree to a range of demands.
  103. Politico reported a carefully organized trade policy process put together by Rob Porter for coordination between Cabinet officials and senior aides is not being followed. Instead, Trump is deciding himself.
  104. Prior to Trump’s announcement on Thursday, following whipsawing statements from factions within the regime warring over global trade policy, Trump had grown impatient with lack of action.
  105. On Thursday, Trump imposed tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum from the European Union, Canada, and Mexico, an action which will further strain diplomatic relationships and provoke retaliation.
  106. On Thursday, Mexico and the European Union announced steps to retaliate. European leaders also vowed to proceed with a complaint to the World Trade Organization.
  107. Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau said, “Over the past 150 years, Canada has been America’s most steadfast ally,” adding the tariffs are “an affront” and the idea that Canada could be considered a national security threat to the U.S. “inconceivable.”
  108. On Friday, Canada filed a challenge with the World Trade Organization, and said it will request a panel under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canada said it will “closely collaborate with the European Union.”
  109. On Friday, Reuters reported Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was isolated at the G7 meeting in Canada over tariffs. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said “we are going to have a G6 plus one.”
  110. On Tuesday, ABC canceled “Roseanne” after Roseanne Barr sent a series of vitriolic and racist tweets, first at Chelsea Clinton, and later at Valerie Jarrett, saying of Jarrett, “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”
  111. In an exchange with Chelsea, Roseanne sent anti-Semitic tweets about George Soros, a Holocaust survivor, calling him a Nazi “who turned in his fellow Jews 2 be murdered in German concentration camps & stole their wealth.”
  112. On Wednesday, Trump ripped Disney CEO Bob Iger for apologizing to Jarrett, but not him: “he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC.”
  113. Trump, however, did not directly address Roseanne’s tweets, or condemn them in any way.
  114. At the daily briefing, when asked about Trump’s non-comment, press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “No one is defending what she said,” adding Trump is “simply calling out media bias,” and is owed an apology.
  115. Trump again demanded an apology from Iger, still without commenting on Roseanne’s words, tweeting, “Iger, where is my call of apology? You and ABC have offended millions of people, and they demand a response.”
  116. Iger and Trump have been on bad terms since Iger left Trump’s business advisory council after Trump pulled out of the Paris climate agreement. Iger has also been critical of Trump for ending DACA.
  117. On Wednesday, reality TV star Kim Kardashian West met with Trump and Kushner at the White House to advocate for a pardon for Alice Marie Johnson, 63, a woman serving a life sentence for drug offenses.
  118. Kardashian West posed for photos in front of the West Wing before entering. Trump tweeted about the meeting along with a photo, saying, “Great meeting…talked about prison reform and sentencing.”
  119. On Thursday, Trump pardoned conservative commentator and outspoken critic of the Obama administration, Dinesh D’Souza, who was convicted in 2014 of funneling illegal campaign contributions, tweeting D’Souza “was treated very unfairly by our government!”
  120. In 2014, D’Souza voluntarily pled guilty to making illegal contributions, admitted he knew what he did was against the law, and apologized for his conduct. The judge found no unfairness.
  121. Experts noted that D’Souza faced charges in the Southern District of New York, same court where Cohen faces possible campaign-finance violations and other possible crimes.
  122. Roger Stone called the pardon “a signal to Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort and even Robert Mueller,” adding “the special counsel has awesome powers, as you know, but the president has even more awesome powers.”
  123. D’Souza did not apply for a pardon through the Justice Department office, as would be typical. Trump told reporters “nobody asked me to do it,” saying he has never met D’Souza, but has seen him on television.
  124. Trump also said he is considering commuting Rod Blagojevich’s sentence and pardoning Martha Stewart, and has already pardoned Joe Arpaio, Kristian Saucier, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and Jack Johnson.
  125. New York Attorney General Barbara Wood issued a statement of rebuke, saying, “Trump’s latest pardon make crystal clear his willingness to use his pardon power to thwart the cause of justice, rather than advance it.”
  126. Wood also called on state lawmakers to close a loophole in New York’s double jeopardy law to ensure people who break New York law could not “evade accountability” through “a strategically-timed pardon” by Trump.
  127. On Wednesday, Ivanka dropped off a White House conference call with press in advance of “White House Sports and Fitness Day,” after a reporter asked about Chinese trademarks being awarded to her fashion brand.
  128. On Thursday, comedian Samantha Bee apologized for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt” on her TBS show in a segment criticizing Ivanka for her silence on the regime’s separating children from parents at the border.
  129. On Thursday, Sanders condemned Samantha Bee’s words as “vile and vicious,” and urged executives at Time Warner and TBS to act, citing “explicit profanity about female members of this administration.”
  130. On Friday, Trump tweeted that Samantha Bee should be fired, “Why aren’t they firing no talent Samantha Bee for the horrible language used on her low ratings show?” TBS and CNN are owned by Time Warner.
  131. On Friday, Trump broke decades of protocol, tweeting about the jobs reports before the release. Treasury yields moved sharply higher within seconds of his tweet. Trump was briefed on the numbers Thursday night.
  132. At 7:21 a.m., Trump tweeted, “Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning.” At 8:30 a.m., the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the numbers.
  133. On Friday, Bloomberg reported that two South Korean firms have bought $100 million in junior debt on a Citigroup deal for a New Jersey residential building partly owned by Kushner Cos.
  134. Prior to receiving the Citigroup loan in early 2018, shortly after the bank’s CEO met with Kushner at the White House, Kushner Cos and its partner had trouble finding a firm to refinance more than $180 million of loans.
  135. Kushner drew scrutiny in Week 26 when his sister mentioned him by name and the EB-5 visa program, visas which allow immigrants a path to a green card for investing $500,000, to market the loan to Chinese investors.
  136. Daily Beast reported ZTE hired Bryan Lanza, a veteran of the Trump 2016 presidential campaign who works for Mercury Public Affairs, a powerhouse lobbying and public relations in Washington DC, on May 14.
  137. NBC News reported on a new U.S. intelligence assessment which concluded North Korea does not intend to give up its nuclear weapons, contrary to Trump’s public statements as he tries to get the summit back on track.
  138. The CIA report says Kim Jong Un, in a peaceful gesture towards Trump whose love of fast-food burgers is well known, may instead offer to open a Western hamburger franchise in Pyongyang as a show of goodwill.
  139. Foreign Policy reported Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with North Korea’s Kim Yong Chol, a four-star army general and former military intelligence chief. Chol has served three regimes, and helped groom Kim Jong Un.
  140. Kim Young Chol is linked to some of the country’s highest-profile military operations, including two deadly attacks in 2010 that killed 50 South Koreans and an alleged 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures.
  141. The meetings, which took place in New York, was the highest-level visit to the U.S. by a North Korean in 18 years. The two had dinner together on Wednesday, then formal talk on Thursday morning.
  142. On Friday, with little public notice, Trump met with Kim Yong Chol in the Oval Office for over an hour. Afterwards, Trump told reporters that the June 12 summit in Singapore is on, despite canceling it in Week 80.
  143. Trump also showed reporters a letter from Kim Jong Un delivered by Kim Young Chol, and said it was “ a very nice letter” and “very interesting.” Trump later admitted that he had not opened the letter yet.
  144. Asked by a reporter if Kim Jong Un is committed to denuclearization, Trump said, “Yeah, I think so. He’d like to see it happen.” The June 12 meeting will be North Korea’s first-ever summit with a U.S. president.
  145. On Friday, WAPO reported cash-strapped North Korea is requiring that a foreign country pick up Kim Jong Un’s $6,000 hotel bill for the summit in Singapore. The Trump regime is trying to find a discrete way to do so.
  146. On Friday, WSJ reported the White House is preparing for a potential summit between Trump and Putin of Russia. Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, is working to arrange the meeting.
  147. Politico reported on a recent closed-door fundraiser for Trump, at which he bragged to donors, using classified information, about a February skirmish between U.S. troops and Russian mercenaries in Syria.
  148. The New York City fundraiser was attended by about 100 of Trump’s top-dollar supporters. Trump reportedly shared the strikes may have been as brief as “10 minutes” and took out 100 to 300 Russians.
  149. In an op-ed, former CIA director John Brennan said he would speak out until integrity returns. Brennan fears Trump’s lying, “mean-spirited and malicious behavior, and his self-absorption” will be emulated by young people.
  150. Brennan, who served four presidents, said Trump “has shown highly abnormal behavior by lying routinely,” and “intentionally fueling divisions in our country,” and actively working to degrade our institutions.
  151. On Saturday, Trump attacked Brennan, citing “Fox & Friends” guest Dan Bongino in a tweet, “no single figure in American history has done more to discredit the intelligence community than this liar.”
  152. WAPO reported emails released as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by the Sierra Club, show Scott Pruitt spent $1,650 of taxpayer money on 12 customized fountain pens.
  153. Emails released as part of a FOIA request by the Environmental Defense Fund and the Southern Environmental Law Center, and provided to APreveal cooperation between Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency and climate-change deniers.
  154. John Konkus, the EPA’s deputy associate administrator, emailed with Heartland Institute seeking suggestions for scientists and economists who reject man-made climate-change, for an EPA public hearing in 2017.
  155. Emails from Konkus and the EPA’s Liz Bowman with Heartland also complain about critical coverage from media such as the Post and AP, and celebrating a reporter leaving the Times, “Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead.”
  156. On Friday, the Hill reported Williams & Jensen, the firm chaired by J. Steven Hart, who along with his wife rented a condo to Pruitt, did in fact lobby the EPA on behalf of three clients last year.
  157. Hart left the firm in April after the fallout from the condo rental. Williams & Jensen then hired outside counsel to comb through its disclosure filings from 2017 and 2018, and filed 14 amendments to Hart’s forms.
  158. NYT reported in December, at one of the biggest games of the University of Kentucky basketball season, Pruitt and his son were given courtside seats belonging to Joseph W. Craft III, a billionaire coal executive.
  159. Craft has engaged in an aggressive campaign to reverse the Obama administration’s environmental crackdown on the coal industry. He and his wife also donated $2 million to Trump’s candidacy and inauguration.
  160. Agency records show Pruitt met with Craft at least seven times during his first 14 months as head of the EPA. Coal companies have welcomed what they consider a sea of change under the Trump regime.
  161. On Friday, Trump left for Camp David but First Lady Melania Trump did not accompany him. Melania has not been seen publicly since May 10, and has missed several joint appearance that would be typical for a first lady.
  162. A tweet from the @FLOTUS Twitter account this week read, “I see the media is working overtime speculating where I am,” adding I am “great” and “working hard” — terms commonly used by Trump on Twitter.
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New York City, February 2018

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 29: SUCH A CLOWN

Week 28 of donald trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

May 27, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-28-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-b772e6b7f47d

This week the Trump-Russia scandal reached the inner circle of Trump’s WH, as bombshells revealed Kushner is a central focus of the FBI investigation. The Trump regime established a war room as the walls of Trump-Russia cave in on them, with breaking news daily.

Also of note this week is the myriad of examples of Trump distancing our country from our traditional allies, and instead cozying up to brutal authoritarians. Human rights abroad are no longer a priority — the focus seems to have shifted to where the Trump organization has properties.

  1. Trump’s attorney said he wouldn’t sign his 2016 financial disclosure, a major departure from the norm. After OGE pushback, Trump said he would sign, but has yet to do so.
  2. The WH also blocked disclosure of names of former lobbyists who have been granted waivers to work in the WH or for federal agencies. Late Friday, the WH said they would comply, but has yet to do so.
  3. GOP Senators are considering changing rules to make it harder for Democrats to block Trump’s picks for circuit court judges. This follows the “nuclear option” which eased the path for Trump’s SCOTUS pick.
  4. Tillerson held a press conference in Riyadh on a new US-Saudi partnership. US media was excluded.
  5. NPR reported there’s been an unprecedented spike of white supremacist activity on college campuses since Trump was elected.
  6. Shortly after announcing his resignation from Congress, Chaffetz said individuals leaking info to the press should go to jail.
  7. Trump considered vetoing the temporary spending bill. Priebus asked Boehner to talk Trump into signing and keeping the government open.
  8. As the Trump regime’s visited Saudi Arabia, the kingdom announced it would invest $20bn in Blackstone’s new $40bn infrastructure fund.
  9. Saudi Arabia will also invest $100mm in Ivanka’s Women Entrepreneurs Fund. In addition to other human right’s abuses, the kingdom has one of the worst records globally for treatment of its women.
  10. During a photo op with Netanyahu on his visit to Israel, Trump confirmed the source of his leak to Lavrov and Kislyak at the WH by telling the press he “never mentioned the word or the name Israel.”
  11. FP reported that Israel changed its intelligence sharing with the US after Trump’s leak to Russia.
  12. Turkey summoned the US envoy to complain about the treatment of Ergodan’s bodyguards for beating up US protestors.
  13. Amid rising tensions, Turkey signed a $1.5mm contract with longtime Trump lobbyist Brian Ballard. Ballard’s firm has also recently signed contracts with the Dominican Republic and the Socialist Party of Albania.
  14. A leaked transcript prepared by the Philippines government of a phone call between Trump and Duterte described Trump praising the brutal authoritarian: “what a great job you are doing” with the drug problem.
  15. Also on the call with Duterte, Trump revealed the location of two US nuclear submarines.
  16. US officials were chastised for leaking the identity of the Manchester bomber to the press before British police officially named him.
  17. UK officials were also outraged when photos of the debris surfaced in the NYT, and said they would stop sharing information about the attack with their US counterparts. Later that day, sharing reportedly resumed.
  18. Flynn’s lawyer said his client would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights rather than comply with a Senate Intel Comm subpoena. Burr and Warner said they are considering holding Flynn in contempt.
  19. Christie told reporters that as head of Trump’s transition team, he told Trump not to hire Flynn in any capacity. Pence took over as head next.
  20. Sessions canceled his Monday testimony on DOJ funding before Congress scheduled, for fear the hearing would be overtaken by questions are the Trump-Russia scandal.
  21. Cummings said the House Oversight Comm has documents that show Flynn lied to security clearance investigators in 2016. Flynn claimed he was paid by “US companies,” not Russia’s RT, for his 2015 Moscow trip.
  22. CNN reported that Mueller visited FBI headquarters, and was briefed on the contents of Comey’s Trump memos.
  23. WAPO reported Trump asked intel chiefs Coats and Rogers to publicly say there was no collusion between Russia and Trump in the 2016 election. The goal was to “muddy the waters” about the FBI probe.
  24. Like Comey, Rogers was concerned about his conversations with Trump, and kept contemporaneous notes.
  25. WAPO also reported that WH staffers tried to get senior intel officers and members of Congress to push back on the stories that the Trump regime members were in frequent contact with Russian officials.
  26. Sen Duckworth sent a letter to the NSA requesting info on security sweeps of the Oval Office after Trump’s meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak.
  27. A member of the FEC called for an investigation into Russia’s purchase of Facebook ads to possibly boost Trump in the election.
  28. At a House hearing, former CIA director Brennan testified that he was convinced last summer that “the Russians were trying to interfere in the election. And they were very aggressive
  29. Brennan also testified on significant contact between the Trump campaign and Russia, citing Russians efforts to get US persons “to act on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly.”
  30. Brennan also said he alerted the FBI about the troubling pattern in July, seeming to form the basis for the start of the FBI investigation.
  31. Despite the Trump’s regime efforts to limit the scope of Mueller’s investigation — citing Kushner, Ivanka and Manafort are clients of his former law firm — the DOJ cleared Mueller to lead the Russia probe.
  32. The Senate Intel Comm subpoenaed two Flynn companies. Businesses, if corporations, cannot plead the Fifth.
  33. On Thursday, the Senate Intel Comm voted to give Burr and Warner blanket authority to issue subpoenas in the Trump-Russia probe.
  34. Burr and Warner asked Trump’s political organization to produce all Russia-related documents, emails and phone records going back to his campaign’s launch in June 2015.
  35. STAT reported on experts citing that the deterioration in Trump’s linguistic capabilities could reflect changes in the health of his brain.
  36. Infowars was given WH press credentials.
  37. The NEH chairman resigned amid Trump’s budget rollout which calls for huge cuts to domestic programs.
  38. A top Education Department official resigned after refusing DeVos’s orders to testify before a congressional oversight hearing.
  39. Trump released his budget with a $2tn double-counting error. Larry Summers described it as, “the most egregious accounting error in a presidential budget in the nearly 40 years I have been tracking them.”
  40. Trump’s Caribbean estate was quietly put on the market at a significantly higher price than he paid in 2013, again raising ethical concerns of potential buyers paying above market to gain access.
  41. NYT reported on ethical concerns over the Trump family golf business, as the PGA comes to Trump National, and access to Trump, who frequents his courses, is being touted as a marketing point for membership.
  42. Demonstrating how Trump’s friends continue to influence policy, Icahn is set to save $60mm for his oil refinery company CVR Energy in the first quarter due to planned easing of regulations.
  43. Giuliani attempted to distance himself from Trump’s Muslim Ban, despite his bragging on Fox News months ago that he was consulted by Trump.
  44. DeVos said states should have the flexibility to discriminate against LGBTQ students, and schools will not be at risk of losing federal funds.
  45. Although before taking office Trump promised to donate all profits earned from foreign governments back to the US Treasury, according to NBC, the Trump Organization is not tracking these payments. The Constitution bans presidents from receiving foreign government gifts.
  46. 93% of key roles in the executive branch remain unfilled.
  47. Buzzfeed reported the guest reception manager at Mar-A-Lago, wife of a twice-convicted felon who likes to brag about his wife’s access, was assigned a WH email and phone and helped with Trump’s overseas plans.
  48. A new study found that tourism to the US has been on the decline since Trump took office, dropping by as much as 16%.
  49. The Carrier plant in Indiana, where to much ballyhoo Trump showcased saving 800 jobs, announced mass layoffs before Christmas.
  50. FP reported NATO countries were frantically preparing for their summit with Trump. One official said, “It’s like they’re preparing to deal with a child — someone with a short attention span and mood who has no knowledge of NATO, no interest in in-depth policy issues, nothing.
  51. At the NATO summit in Brussels, Trump pushed the PM of Montenegro aside, before chastising participants for not paying their share of NATO costs. His behavior was met with uniform disgust by our allies.
  52. Trump also refused to clearly back Article 5, the one-for-all, all-for-one principle of NATO, and remained at odd with our allies over Russia.
  53. Trump also said of Germany, our close ally, “The Germans are bad, very bad.
  54. Aya Hijazi, who Trump had bragged about negotiating her release from an Egyptian prison, told PBS’s Woodruff that Trump did not understand that it was el-Sisi’s regime that held her.
  55. On Wednesday, Greg Gianforte, running for Montana’s open Congressional seat, body slammed a reporter when asked about AHCA CBO scoring. Like Trump, Gianforte has had harsh rhetoric on the media. Gianforte was charged with assault the night before the election.
  56. Weeks before Jacobs had reported on Gianforte’s ownership of Russian index funds, whose holdings include companies like Rosneft which are under US sanctions.
  57. Press advocates cited four incidents between the press and public officials in the past month, saying Trump’s rhetoric has led to a “climate of anger, disrespect and hostility” towards the press.
  58. POLITICO reported that Trump reached out to former campaign staffers Lewandowski and Bossie about becoming crisis managers as the Trump-Russia scandal unfolds.
  59. In a surprising move, Trump hired his longtime personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz to represent him in the special counsel’s Trump-Russia probe.
  60. CNN reported the Trump regime is establishing a war room-type operation aimed at developing a rapid-response to Trump-Russia news.
  61. As the CBO came out with alarming scoring on Trumpcare/AHCA, Trump ally Gingrich called for the abolishment of the CBO.
  62. Trump’s budget targets undocumented immigrants by denying them tax credits and jobs, while significantly beefing up his deportation force.
  63. The Trump regime kept US reporters largely in the dark during his overseas trip this week: delaying readouts, keeping reporters at a distance, and refusing to hold new conferences.
  64. Trump ally Sheriff Clarke directed his staff waiting at the terminal to hassle a plane passenger after a brief exchange. The passenger is suing Clarke and his deputies involved.
  65. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a nationwide injunction against Trump’s second Muslim Ban by a 10–3 vote. The Chief Judge said the ban, “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.
  66. In their efforts to highlight crimes committed by undocumented immigrants through their VOICE program, Trump’s DHS published a database with the personal information of abuse victims.
  67. For the first time in almost two decades, Tillerson declined to host a Ramadan event at the State Dept.
  68. In Portland, OR, a suspect hurled insults at Muslim women on a MAX train, before stabbing men who tried to stop him. Two are dead.
  69. According to the DOJ, Sessions did not disclose his meetings with Kislyakin his security clearance application.
  70. Sessions remains AG despite having lied both to the Senate under oath and on his security clearance application about Russia, as well as playing a role in Comey’s firing despite being recused on Trump-Russia matters.
  71. Members of the House Financial Services Comm asked Deutsche Bank to produce documents on Trump family loans. As mentioned in Week 18’s list, Deutsche has been fined for laundering money for Russia.
  72. NYT reported that US spies collected info last summer that top Russian officials were discussing how to exert influence on Trump through his aides, Manafort and Flynn.
  73. POLITICO reported that despite the Trump spin that Manafort was a minor player and not in touch with his regime, Manafort called Priebus the week before the inauguration to discuss the growing Russia scandal.
  74. WAPO reported that a fake Russian document which claimed assurances from AG Lynch to the Clinton campaign on the email investigation, influenced Comey’s handling of the investigation, including his unusual news conference in July without conferring with the DOJ.
  75. Although Comey had the Russian document for months before the July news conference, the FBI did not take the simple steps needed to prove it to be bad intelligence until after July.
  76. WIRED reported that Russian hackers are weaponizing “tainted” leaks — planting altered materials with disinformation alongside legitimate leaks.
  77. WSJ reported that a GOP political operative, Aaron Nevins, worked with the Russians to hurt Clinton and Democrats during the election — the first direct evidence of collusion.
  78. WAPO reported that the FBI “person of interest” in the WH referenced in their reporting last week is Kushner. The FBI is investigating Kushner for the extent and nature of his contacts with Russian officials.
  79. Further, WAPO reported the FBI is investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 election, as well as possible financial crimes.
  80. The FBI informed House Oversight Comm chair Chaffetz that they will not turn over Comey’s memos, leaving open the prospect that Mueller is investigating Trump for obstruction of justice.
  81. Lieberman became the fourth candidate under consideration by Trump for FBI director to withdraw from consideration.
  82. After demurring on whether Trump would lift sanctions on Russia Thursday, top Trump adviser, under media scrutiny, said Friday the sanctions would remain in place.
  83. A Quinnipiac poll found that most Americans believe Trump is abusing his power (54–43), and most believe he is not honest (59–36).
  84. WAPO reported at a meeting at Trump Tower in early December, Kushner proposed to Kislyak setting up a secret communication channel between the Kremlin and the Trump regime using Russian diplomatic facilities.
  85. Kislyak was reportedly taken aback by the suggestion, and concerned Kushner’s request would expose Russian communication capabilities.
  86. Kushner’s goal was to avoid US intelligence monitoring. Flynn attended the meeting with Kislyak too.
  87. Of note, both Kislyak and Flynn secretly met with a UAE crown prince around the time that prince was setting up a meeting between Erik Prince and a Russian official in Seychelles (see Week 21’s list). Trump met that same UAE crown prince at the WH last week.
  88. Reuters reported that Kushner had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with Kislyak during and after the 2016 presidential campaign.
  89. Reuters reported FBI investigators are examining whether Russians suggested to Kushner or other Trump aides relaxing US sanctions in exchange for making bank financing available to the Trump regime.
  90. In response to the Reuters piece, Kushner’s lawyer issued a statement that Kushner, “has no recollection of the calls as described.
  91. Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska has offered to cooperate with Congress in their investigation of Manafort in exchange for immunity. Noted in Week 27, Deripaska is suing AP for libel for reporting his ties to Manafort.
  92. Owners of Russian Alfa Bank sued Buzzfeed Friday in state court in Manhattan for publishing the Steele dossier.
  93. Amidst the Trump-Russia turmoil, Trump canceled his Iowa campaign rally scheduled for next week.

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It’s all just a game to them, and the people are the ones that always lose / Artist credit: Luis Quiles
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London, England. Artist: Subdude

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