POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 108: TRUMP TOWER MOSCOW

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I’m in Miami this week and the sidewalks are talking. 29nov18. Wynwood, Miami, FL.

DECEMBER 01, 2018

Week 107

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-107/

This week started with escalations, both between Russia and Ukraine, and at the U.S.-Mexico border. Heartbreaking images and video surfaced from Tijuana of migrants from Central America, including women and children, some in diapers, being showered with tear gas from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. As Trump and the regime sought to justify the use of force, and Republicans remained almost universally silent, others condemned the action, including the Auschwitz Museum which invoked the uprise of Hitler. This, as data and reporting continues to point to a dangerous uptick in right-wing violence and acts of, and normalization of, hate.

This week the Mueller probe was center stage, as Trump stepped up his attacks to discredit Mueller ahead of the findings being released. The week started with focus on Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone as possible conduits between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. Until a bombshell Thursday, when Michael Cohen outlined in a plea agreement how he misled Congress about negotiating on the Trump Tower Moscow. Cohen said negotiations continued until June 2016, and that Trump and his children were also in the loop. Cohen’s documents made clear that other members of the regime, including Donald Jr., may have lied to Congress, and also called into question Trump’s written answers in the Mueller probe, submitted under oath in recent days, on his and his campaign’s contact with Russians.

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Mural by Jersey-based artist Jay Mack Muzik https://www.instagram.com/jaymackmuzik/ in Wynwood, Miami, Florida. 29nov18.
  1. WAPO reported right-wing violence is on the rise. Terrorism researchers say the trend started with white anxiety about Obama’s presidency, and has accelerated in the era of Trump.
  2. From 2010 through 2017, 92 of the 263 incidents of domestic terrorism were committed by right-wing attackers. Researchers say at least 20 people have died so far in 2018 in suspected right-wing attacks.
  3. On Saturday, The Guardian reported the British Parliament used its legal powers to seize internal Facebook documents, including confidential emails between senior executives, and with CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  4. The move is unprecedented. The documents allegedly contain significant revelations about Facebook decisions on data and privacy controls that led to Cambridge Analytica being able to collect user data.
  5. On Sunday, the Independent reported the U.K. High Court will rule as early as Christmas whether Brexit should be declared “void,” citing a legal case by the criminal investigation into Leave funder Arron Banks.
  6. The superintendent of the Baraboo School District told parents the district is “not in a position to punish” students who made an apparent Nazi salute in a prom photo, saying “we cannot know the intentions in the hearts.”
  7. The 10-day investigation involved local authorities, parents, and others. The letter states, “because of students’ First Amendment rights, the district is not in a position to punish the students for their actions.”
  8. Police in Alabama fatally shot Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., a 21 year-old Black man who formerly served in the U.S. Army, at a Birmingham mall, after they mistook him for the gunman in a mall shooting.
  9. On Monday, a day before the run-off race for senator in Mississippi, two nooses were found hanging from trees, along with six “hate signs” at the state Capitol in Jackson.
  10. Dallas Morning News reported Ro Lockett, a 28 year-old Black man shopping with a friend and their sons, was handcuffed outside a Stonebriar Centre store after being falsely accused of shoplifting.
  11. WAPO reported an autopsy of Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, a transgender asylum seeker, who died in ICE custody weeks after arriving in the U.S. from Honduras, revealed she was beaten while in custody.
  12. Hernandez was part of a group of migrants that arrived in early May as she tried to escape violence she faced as a transgender woman. Transgender Law Center, on behalf of her family, plans to file a lawsuit.
  13. On Wednesday, AP reported the Trump regime has waived FBI checks on 2,100 caregivers and short-staffing mental health workers, putting the safety of 2,300 migrant teens living in tent cities at risk.
  14. Initially, the Department of Health and Human Services had planned to keep migrant children in the tent city in Tornillo for just a few days, but as the migrant children population ballooned, now talk is of making the detention camp 10 times as big.
  15. BCFS, a San Antonio nonprofit, runs Tornillo. The cost per night per child is $1,200, significantly higher than the $775 officials have publicly disclosed, and almost five times the cost of a typical youth migrant shelter.
  16. On Wednesday, Elizabeth Midlarsky, a Jewish professor and Holocaust scholar at Columbia Teachers College,found two spray-painted red swastikas, and the word “YID” scrawled on a wall outside her office.
  17. On Thursday, Sen. Tim Scott, the sole black GOP senator, gave the deciding opposition vote to Trump nominee Thomas Farr to the federal bench, citing Farr’s support of racially discriminatory election policies.
  18. In the New York Review of Books, Columbia professor Bernard Harcourt argued Trump is fueling a toxic blendof antebellum white supremacy, twentieth-century fascism, and European far-right movements of the 1970s.
  19. Harcourt warned Trump has enabled an upsurge of white nationalists and extremist organizations like Atomwaffen, Proud Boys, and Rise Above Movement, that threatens to push the country into violent social conflict.
  20. Two New York University researchers found that Trump in 2016 appealed to men who are secretly insecure about their manhood, calling it the “fragile masculinity hypothesis.” The same pattern continued in 2018 House races.
  21. The study measured search terms, like “erectile dysfunction,” “penis size, and “hair loss.” Fragile masculinity was not a factor for Republicans Mitt Romney in 2012, John McCain in 2008, or House races in 2014 and 2016.
  22. On Sunday, Trump congratulated himself on falling oil prices, tweeting, “So great that oil prices are falling (thank you President T).” Trump also issued a warning to the Fed, “Inflation down (are you listening Fed)!”
  23. On Sunday, a judge denied George Papadopoulos’ request to delay the start of his prison time, saying he must report to a federal prison camp in Oxford, Wisconsin to begin his 14-day sentence on Monday.
  24. On Sunday, attorney Alan Dershowitz told “ABC This Week” the Mueller report is going to be “devastating” to Trump. Dershowitz added that he knows that Trump’s “team is already working on a response to the report.”
  25. On Sunday, Russia opened fire on and seized three Ukrainian ships that were sailing off the coast of Crimea. Ukraine said it was a Russian “act of aggression.” Moscow said the ships had illegally entered its waters.
  26. On Sunday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection fired tear gas into Mexico to repel Central American migrants approaching the border. Traffic in both directions was suspended at the port between San Diego and Tijuana.
  27. Tensions had been rising as thousands of migrants arrived in Tijuana, and camped outside a sports stadium.Mexican police broke up the migrants’ daily protests on Sunday, triggering a rush toward the U.S. border.
  28. CBP was backed by U.S. military police, San Diego police, and the California Highway Patrol. Migrants, many with young children who were sick and hungry, were trapped between U.S. and Mexican forces.
  29. Hundreds of mostly Honduran migrants were subjected to a volley of canisters of tear gas. Photos and videos emerged of young children, some in diapers, suffering from exposure to tear gas.
  30. An AP reporter noted “Children screamed and coughed. Fumes were carried by the wind toward people who were hundreds of feet away.” A mother trying to run with her baby, said the gas “asphyxiates you more.”
  31. Mexico’s Interior Department said about 500 people attempted to rush the border. U.S. authorities put the number at 1,000. Mexico said it would deport 98 of the migrants.
  32. On Monday, Trump tweeted “Would be very SMART if Mexico would stop the Caravans long before they get to our Southern Border,” adding, “We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!”
  33. On Monday, when asked by reporters if he was comfortable with tear-gassing children at the border, Trump responded “They had to use [it] because they were being rushed by some very tough people.”
  34. Trump also said there was “tremendous violence” during the confrontation with authorities,” adding “three Border Patrol people yesterday were very badly hurt through getting hit with rocks and stones.”
  35. A statement by CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan on Monday contradicted Trump, saying four agents were struck by rocks “but were wearing protective gear and did not suffer serious injuries.”
  36. Trump also falsely claimed “Obama had a separation policy; we all had the same policy. I tried to do it differently.” Obama did not have a separation policy, but Trump officially did with his “zero tolerance” policy.
  37. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement some migrants “sought to harm CBP personnel,” and some “women and children in the caravan are being used by the organizers as human shields.”
  38. On Monday, the Auschwitz Museum tweeted the Holocaust did not start with gas chambers, it “gradually developed from words, stereotypes & prejudice through legal exclusion, dehumanisation & escalating violence.”
  39. On Tuesday, WAPO reported the tear gas used on migrants, commonly known as CS gas, is considered a chemical weapon, and has been outlawed on the battlefield by nearly every nation, including the U.S.
  40. According to a biological and chemical weapons expert, research has noted that an infant exposed to CS gas develops severe pneumonitis and requires a month of hospitalization. Effects are not yet well documented.
  41. On Monday, in two tweets, Trump complained about CNN’s coverage and suggested that the U.S. government start its own worldwide television network in order to “show the World the way we really are, GREAT!”
  42. The Daily Beast reported according to emails obtained by the Sierra Club through the Freedom of Information Act, then EPA Chief Scott Pruitt chose topics for interviews on “Fox & Friends,” and knew questions in advance.
  43. In response to the reporting, Fox said it is disciplining employees involved in the email exchange with an aide to Pruitt. Fox would not say who was being disciplined or how, noting that it was a personnel matter.
  44. Sinclair Broadcasting distributed a two-minute commentary to its 200 local television stations featuring former Trump White House official Boris Epshteyn defending the use of tear gas on migrants at the border.
  45. Echoing language used by Trump, Epshteyn said, “The fact of the matter is that this is an attempted invasion of our country.” As of Wednesday morning, the segment had aired on at least two dozen Sinclair stations.
  46. Later Wednesday, Sinclair tried to distance itself from Epshteyn, tweeting, “The opinions expressed in this segment do not reflect the views of Sinclair Broadcast,” and “they are labeled clearly as commentary.”
  47. Author Margaret Atwood announced she will write a sequel to her landmark book “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which is also a popular TV-series. “The Testaments,” set 15 years later, will be released September 2019.
  48. Atwood tweeted, “Dear Readers, everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.
  49. Christine Blasey Ford, who has received continued death threats, moved houses four times, and hired private security since testifying, said she would donate remaining GoFundMe money to sexual assault survivors.
  50. Blasey Ford, who has not been able to return to work, said of testifying, “Although coming forward was terrifying, and caused disruption to our lives, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to fulfill my civic duty.”
  51. On Monday, Solicitor General Noel Francisco urged the Supreme Court to turn down cases on whether Trump had legally installed Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, saying the lower courts should weigh in first.
  52. On Monday, ABC News reported Jared Kushner was behind the push to inflate the Saudi arms deal to $110 billion, well over the actual number which is closer to $15 billion, to solidify the new alliance with crown prince MBS.
  53. On Tuesday, national security adviser John Bolton defended his decision to not listen to tape of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, telling reporter, “I don’t speak Arabic,” and adding “What do you think I’ll learn from it?”
  54. On Tuesday, The Guardian reported that the White House is preventing CIA director Gina Haspel from briefing the Senate on Jamal Khashoggi’s death.
  55. Instead, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis will brief the Senate on U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, ahead of a vote on whether to support the Saudi’s military campaign in Yemen.
  56. On Monday, Trump attacked the Mueller probe in two tweets, saying, “When Mueller does his final report, will he be covering all of his conflicts of interest in a preamble.” There is no evidence of conflicts of interest.
  57. Trump also tweeted, “many campaign workers, people inside from the beginning, ask me why they have not been called (they want to be),” adding “there was NO Collusion & Mueller knows it!”
  58. On Monday, Jerome Corsi told CNN he is refusing to sign a plea deal with Mueller’s team, saying “They can put me in prison the rest of my life. I am not going to sign a lie.”
  59. In a statement following Corsi’s comments, Roger Stone said the special counsel was harassing Corsi “not for lying, but for refusing to lie,” and continued to maintain his own innocence.
  60. On Monday, the special counsel said in a filing that Paul Manafort had breached the plea agreement he signedtwo months ago by repeatedly lying, saying he should be sentenced immediately.
  61. The filing notes Manafort’s “crimes and lies” about “a variety of subject matters” relieve the special counsel of all promises they made to him in the plea agreement. Defense lawyers disagreed Manafort had violated the deal.
  62. On Tuesday, The Guardian reported Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2013, 2015, and in March 2016. Manafort joined the Trump campaign on March 29, 2016.
  63. An internal document by Ecuador’s intelligence agency described Manafort as “one of several well-known guests. It also mentions “Russians.” In a statement, Manafort denied meeting Assange.
  64. On Tuesday, Trump again attacked Mueller in two morning tweets, saying the probe is a “Phony Witch Hunt” and that “Mueller and his gang of Angry Dems are only looking at one side, not the other.”
  65. Later Tuesday, Trump tweeted “at least 3 major players are intimating that the Angry Mueller Gang of Dems is viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts & they will get relief,” adding, “This is our Joseph McCarthy Era!”
  66. On Tuesday, NYT reported that Kevin Downing, a lawyer for Manafort, repeatedly briefed Trump’s lawyers on discussions with Mueller’s team after Manafort agreed to cooperate — a highly unusual arrangement.
  67. Rudy Giuliani defended the briefings, telling NYT they provided valuable insights about the probe and where it was headed, adding the information could help shape a legal defense strategy and public relations campaign.
  68. The briefings did not break the law, but did contribute to a deteriorating relationship between lawyers for Manafort and Mueller’s team. Downing assured Trump’s team that Manafort had not implicated him in wrongdoing.
  69. Last year, John Dowd broached the idea of pardoning Manafort and Michael Flynn. When asked by reporters Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Sanders said she had no knowledge of any conversations about a pardon for Manafort.
  70. NBC News reported according to legal experts the arrangement could amount to obstruction of justice or witness tampering if Manafort disclosed confidential information or Trump’s team discussed a pardon.
  71. On Tuesday, Corsi provided WAPO with a copy of a draft document of his statement of offense prepared by Mueller’s team as part of the plea deal, detailing ties between WikiLeaks and key associates in Trump’s orbit.
  72. According to the document, Corsi emailed Stone in early August 2016 about WikiLeaks’ plans. Nearly 10 weeks later the group published John Podesta’s hacked emails in October.
  73. Also in the document, Stone wrote to Corsi on July 25, 2016, urging him to find out Assange’s plans: “Get to [Assange] [a]t Ecuadorian Embassy in London and get the pending [WikiLeaks] emails.”
  74. Giuliani said Trump does not recall speaking to either Stone or Corsi about WikiLeaks, and that Trump’s legal team lodged a complaint last month with the DOJ about the Corsi document including Trump’s name.
  75. In the document, Mueller offered to let Corsi plead guilty to a single felony count of lying to federal investigators. Corsi rejected the deal. Giuliani said Mueller overplayed his hand: “They’ve screwed it up.”
  76. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted about the Mueller probe, saying “Wait until it comes out how horribly & viciously they are treating people, ruining lives for them refusing to lie. Mueller is a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue….”
  77. On Wednesday, CNN reported in Trump’s written answers to Mueller’s questions, he claimed Stone did not tell him about WikiLeaks, and that he was not told about the June 9 Trump Tower meeting involving Donald Jr.
  78. Both inquiries are central in the probe of whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump’s written answers could be subject to criminal charges if they are found to be false.
  79. On Wednesday, Trump told the New York Post that he never discussed a pardon with Manafort, adding “but I wouldn’t take it off the table. Why would I take it off the table?”
  80. Trump also ripped the Mueller probe, claiming Manafort, Stone, and Corsi were all asked to lie by the special counsel, saying “If you told the truth, you go to jail.” Trump also repeated his charge, “this is McCarthyism.”
  81. On Wednesday, WSJ reported that Manafort allegedly lied to Mueller’s team about his personal business dealings and about his contacts with his associate, Konstantin Kilimnik.
  82. The context is these statements do not appear to be central to the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election. It is unclear if Mueller’s team plans to accuse Manafort of additional lies.
  83. On Wednesday, WAPO reported that Mueller is looking into Trump’s late night calls to Stone from a blocked number during the campaign, to see whether Stone served as a bridge between Trump and WikiLeaks.
  84. According to the draft document of Corsi statement, Stone was in regular contact with Trump campaign officials, including “then-candidate Donald J. Trump.” Stone said Trump initiated the calls.
  85. Stone told the Post that he never discussed WikiLeaks with Trump, adding phone conversations are not that important, saying “unless Mueller has tape recordings of the phone calls, what would that prove?”
  86. According to phone records Trump’s team turned over to Mueller, there were numerous calls between Stone and Trump throughout the campaign. In midsummer, Trump associates wanted to know WikiLeaks’ plans.
  87. Corsi forwarded a request from Stone to Ted Malloch, an informal Trump adviser in London, to visit Assange and see what he has planned for the weeks leading up the election. It is not clear if Malloch did visit.
  88. On Wednesday, Trump retweeted a image posted by account “@The_Trump_Train,” which depicted Mueller, Obama, the Clintons, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, and others behind bars.
  89. Trump also retweeted a false claim from this account, “Illegals can get up to $3,874 a month under Federal Assistance program…RT if you agree: If you weren’t born in the United States, you should receive $0 assistance.”
  90. On Wednesday, Trump defended his retweeting a photo of Rosenstein behind bars, telling the New York Postin an interview, “He should have never picked a special counsel.”
  91. On Wednesday, legislation brought to the floor to protect Mueller by Sens. Jeff Flake, Chris Coons ,and Cory Booker was blocked. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it a “solution in search of a problem.”
  92. A new analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis found 84 farms in the Upper Midwest filed for bankruptcies in the 12 months ended June 2018, double the number from the same period in 2013–2014.
  93. On Monday, GM announced it plans to cut 14,800 jobs U.S. and Canada and end production at several North American factories, the first significant downsizing since its bankruptcy, citing lower sedan sales.
  94. The cuts would reduce GM’s annual costs by $4.5 billion by the end of 2020, freeing up money to invest in electric and self-driving vehicles. In reaction to the news, the company’s stock rose 4.8% on Monday.
  95. On Monday, Trump told GM CEO Mary Barra to stop making cars in China and open a plant in Ohio, “They better damn well open a new plant there very quickly,” adding, “You’re playing around with the wrong person.”
  96. On Tuesday, GM stock tumbled after Trump threatened the company, tweeting, “Very disappointed with General Motors and their CEO…We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including for electric cars.”
  97. It was not clear what subsidies Trump was referring to. The only related item is a $7,500 plug-in tax credit, which goes to the consumer, not the company. GM is also close to the 200,000 electric car cap on the credit.
  98. On Tuesday, in a wide-ranging, 20-minute interview with WAPO, Trump blamed Democrats, the Chinese government and the central bank for any economic weakness and recent declines in the stock market.
  99. He had especially tough words for his appointee Fed Chair Jerome “Jay” Powell, saying “So far, I’m not even a little bit happy with my selection of Jay. Not even a little bit,” adding, “the Fed is way off-base with what they’re doing.”
  100. When asked why he did not reappoint Janet Yellen, he said she impressed him greatly during an interview, but he believed that the 5-foot-3-inch economist was not tall enough to lead the central bank.
  101. Trump also bragged that the stock market was up 38% since he took office. This is false: the Dow Jones industrial average is up 25%, a smaller increase than during Obama’s first two years in office.
  102. Trump again questioned the CIA’s assessment that the Saudi crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s assassination, saying “Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t. But he denies it. And people around him deny it.
  103. Trump said of the recent climate change report, “One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence,” and “You look at our air and our water, and it’s right now at a record clean.”
  104. On Wednesday, Fed Chair Powell said he now sees current interest rates “just below” neutral, a departure from his remarks two months ago, suggesting the Fed was near the end of raising rates.
  105. On Thursday, Trump again attacked GM, tweeting “General Motors is very counter to what other auto…companies are doing,” adding they are “pouring into the U.S.” and BMW “just announced a major new plant.”
  106. In the tweet, Trump also repeated his frequent false claims that “Big Steel is opening and renovating plants all over the country” — a claim which has been repeatedly debunked by fact checkers.
  107. BMW issued a statement in response to Trump’s tweet, saying, “We can confirm that we are considering building an engine plant in the U.S.,” saying the option has been under consideration for the past few years.
  108. On Wednesday, at 11:39 p.m., Trump continued his attacks on the Mueller probe, tweeting, “So much happening with the now discredited Witch Hunt. This total Hoax will be studied for years!”
  109. On Thursday, at 6:54 a.m., Trump again attacked the Mueller probe in two tweets, saying “Did you ever see an investigation more in search of a crime?” and calling it “a total disgrace.”
  110. Trump called the probe an “illegal Joseph McCarthy style Witch Hunt,” which he said “has shattered so many innocent lives,” and falsely claimed has wasted more than $40 million (a tweet Tuesday claimed $30 million).
  111. On Thursday, German authorities raided Deutsche Bank’s headquarters in Frankfurt over allegations of money laundering. The public prosecutors office said 170 officials were involved in the raid.
  112. The investigation is directed at two employees and other individuals, and is based on details in the Panama Papers; although prosecutors alleged there were “sufficient indications” for the suspicious nature before that.
  113. On Thursday, Michael Cohen made a surprise appearance before a federal judge in the Southern District of New York to plead guilty to lying to Congress about his role and timing related to the Trump Tower Moscow.
  114. Cohen said he lied about negotiations on Trump Tower Moscow ending January 2016, before the Iowa Caucuses, saying they continued until June 2016, after Trump had secured the Republican nomination.
  115. Cohen gave false answers in 2017 to both the Senate and House intelligence committees in order to be consistent with Trump’s “political message.” Trump said, “I have ZERO investments in Russia,” in January.
  116. Cohen said he also lied in saying he “never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the Moscow project and ‘never considered’ asking Individual 1 to travel for the project.” Individual 1 is Trump.
  117. Cohen said he also “discussed the status and progress of the Moscow Project with Individual 1 on more than the three occasions,” and “briefed family members of Individual 1 within the Company about the project.”
  118. Cohen continued discussions on the project with “Individual 2,” Felix Sater, as late as June 2016. Cohen discussed traveling to Russia in May, and having Trump travel there after the Republican National Convention.
  119. Cohen also lied about not receiving a response and thinking the project was halted, admitting he had a 20 minute phone conversation with an assistant to Dmitry Peskov, a senior aide to Putin, on land and financing.
  120. Cohen told the judge he lied to “to be loyal to Individual 1 .” A prosecutor from Mueller’s team was present in the courtroom. Cohen’s lawyer said he has cooperated in the Mueller probe, and will continue to cooperate.
  121. When asked about Cohen’s plea deal as he left for the G20 summit, Trump said “Cohen is lying and he’s trying to get a reduced sentence for things that have nothing to do with me,” adding, “He’s a very weak person.”
  122. Trump also told reporters, “This was a project that we didn’t do, I didn’t do . . . There would be nothing wrong if I did do it.” This contradicts his earlier statements to reporters and on the campaign trail.
  123. On Thursday, in a tweet sent while aboard Air Force One, Trump canceled his scheduled meeting with Putin at the G20, citing “the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia.”
  124. Earlier in the day, as he left the White House, Trump told reporters the meeting with Putin was still on. Russian officials were caught off guard by Trump’s abrupt cancelation.
  125. On the flight to Argentina, Trump tweeted plugs for several favorable books, including ones “by@GreggJarrett and @JudgeJeanine Pirro” saying “Go get them now, the phony Witch Hunt is well explained!”
  126. As Trump arrived at the G20, a giant Baby Trump blimp was launched by activists. The blimp was created for Trump’s visit to London, and was also used at his recent trip to Paris, before being shipped to Buenos Aires.
  127. That evening, just after Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show was over, Trump quoted Alan Dershowitz, tweeting, “He (Mueller) has no authority to be a roving Commissioner. I don’t see any evidence of crimes.”
  128. On Thursday, Yahoo News reported Mueller’s team is additionally looking at Ivanka and Donald Jr.’s roles in Trump Tower Moscow, which sources say was independent of Cohen’s efforts
  129. On Thursday, BuzzFeed reported as part of the negotiations, Cohen discussed plans to give Vladimir Putin the $50 million penthouse in Trump Tower Moscow in a conversation with a representative of Dmitry Peskov.
  130. On Thursday, WAPO reported Trump has tried to expand his real estate brand to Russia for 30 years, including traveling to Moscow and unveiling four ultimately unsuccessful attempts before running for president.
  131. The latest attempt began in September 2015, and according to court documents ended on June 14, 2016, the day WAPO reported Russia was suspected to be behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee.
  132. On Thursday, federal agents stormed the City Hall office of Alderman Ed Burke in Chicago, papering over office windows. Burke was recently defeated in his re-election over his property-tax reduction work for Trump.
  133. Over 12 years of working for Trump, Burke’s law firm, Klafter & Burke was allegedly able to cut the property taxes on Trump’s downtown tower by more than $14 million. Burke stopped working for Trump last summer.
  134. On Friday, Trump sent two tweets, admitted he “lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia,” saying “Against all odds, I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool.”
  135. On Friday, NPR reported Donald Jr.’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017 conflicts with Cohen’s account. Donald Jr. claimed there was no contact on Trump Tower Moscow during 2016.
  136. On Friday, at the G20 summit in Argentina, Saudi crown prince MBS and Putin were seen greeting each other by smiling, having an exuberant handshake, then firmly embracing.
  137. On Friday, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr said his committee has worked with and made multiple referrals to Mueller for criminal prosecution, saying, “If you lie to us, we’re going to go after you.”
  138. On Friday, at a hearing for Manafort, Mueller’s team said they are considering new criminal charges, contending Manafort obstructed justice and committed additional federal crimes since entering a plea agreement.
  139. Manafort’s attorneys denied that he violated the plea deal and said they will rebut the government’s filing after they see it. Manafort, who is currently in prison, waived his right to appear in court.
  140. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered Mueller’s team to provide a report by December 7 detailing how Manafort breached the agreement, and tentatively scheduled March 5 for Manafort’s sentencing.
  141. On Friday, CNN reported that after visiting Trump at Mar-a-Lago in March 2018, Cohen believed Trump would pardon him if he stayed on message and protected his boss. Lawyers for both were in steady communications.
  142. In the days following the raid on Cohen’s home and office, Trump started to distance himself from Cohen, saying Cohen only did a “tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work. Cohen knew the game had changed.
  143. On Friday, in a filing seeking a lenient sentence, Cohen claimed he was in “close and regular contact” with Trump’s White House staff and legal team as he prepared a statement for Congress on Trump Tower Moscow.
  144. Cohen said his false statement was based on Trump team efforts to portray that contact by Trump, his campaign, and company with Russia “as having effectively terminated before the Iowa caucuses of February 1, 2016.”
  145. Cohen’s lawyers claim Cohen kept Trump “apprised” of his contacts with Russia during the campaign, and that his false statement to Congress arose from his loyalty to Trump, who they referred to throughout as “Client-1.”
  146. Cohen’s lawyers asked for a sentence of time served, citing his cooperation with Mueller, guilty pleas on payments to silence women, and cooperation in the ongoing federal investigation into the Trump Foundation.
  147. Late Friday, Trump again plugged Hannity’s show, tweeting, “Watch @seanhannity on @FoxNews NOW. Enjoy!”
  148. On Wednesday, California Democrat TJ Cox declared victory, giving Democrats their 40th pick up in the House in the midterm elections. Democrats picked up seven seats in California alone.
  149. On Thursday, retiring House Majority Leader Paul Ryan cast doubt on the “bizarre” California election results, saying “This election system they have — I can’t begin to understand what ‘ballot harvesting’ is.”
  150. On Friday, AP retracted its call in a North Carolina 9th Congressional race, saying the board of elections delayed certifying results over “claims of irregularities and fraudulent activities related to absentee by-mail voting.”
  151. The race was called for Republican Mark Harris, after Democrat Dan McCready conceded on November 9.Harris had a lead of 905 votes out of 283,000 counted. The GOP has held this district since the early 1960s.
  152. Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Maggie Hassan, along with survivors, called on Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos to rescind the just released campus sexual abuse policies, calling it a major step backwards.
  153. On Wednesday, NBC News reported the Veterans Affair Department privately told Congress that veterans who did not receive their full GI bill payments due to a computer glitch, would not be reimbursed.
  154. On Thursday, after pressure from members of both parties of Congress, the VA reversed course and promised pay veterans the full amount of benefits they are due under the Forever GI Bill.
  155. On Friday, six additional White House officials were reprimanded for violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits public employees from conducting political activity in their official roles.
  156. The staffers included Raj Shah, Jessica Ditto, Madeleine Westerhout, Helen Aguirre Ferré, Alyssa Farah, and Jacob Wood. All deleted their social media posts that were in violation for supporting Trump
  157. The Office of Special Counsel also issued guidelines Friday, warning federal workers to avoid workplace talk about impeachment and #resistance for the next 705 days — until the day after Election Day 2020.
  158. On Friday, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by Politico, Secretary Nielsen requested the deployment of civilian law enforcement officers to the U.S.-Mexico border as early as next week.
  159. Current and former U.S. officials described the request, which would draw officers from other cabinet departments who in most cases have duties entirely unrelated to border security, as unprecedented.
  160. On Friday, documents released under the FOIA revealed months after joining the advisory board of World Patent Marketing in 2014, Whitaker fielded angry complaints from customers that they were being defrauded.
  161. One customer even showed up at Whitaker’s office in Iowa. As a U.S. attorney, Whitaker was a spokesperson for the company for three years, even participating in national television ads promoting the company.
  162. When the FTC subpoenaed Whitaker for his records in October 2017, he missed the deadline to reply, then made clear he had been named chief of staff for Jeff Sessions. Whitaker never provided any of his records.
  163. The FTC eventually filed a complaint against the company for cheating customers and making false promises. Some clients lost their life savings. In May 2018, the company paid a $25 million settlement and shut down.
  164. On Friday, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said Whitaker will appear before his committee in January, when a new Democratic majority will begin ramping up oversight of the Trump regime.
  165. On Friday, a federal judge for the Southern District of New York ruled against the Trump regime’s move to withhold grant funding from law enforcement agencies of so-called sanctuary cities.
  166. Judge Edgardo Ramos called the move illegal and unconstitutional. The ruling blocked the regime from enforcing those conditions on New York, New York City, and the six states that challenged the requirements.
  167. On Friday, a federal judge put off an immediate ruling on James Comey’s request to invalidate a subpoena from House Republicans to appear at a closed-door session, asking for additional legal briefs over the weekend.
  168. In the first half of Affordable Care Act registration, enrollment is down from 2.8 million last year to 2.4 million, with the biggest drops in Pennsylvania (down 25%), Missouri (down 25%), and Ohio (down 20%).
  169. Advocates note the enrollment period has been cut in half to just 45 days, less advertising, and government spending to help consumer has dropped from $63 million in 2016, to $36 million in 2017 to $10 million this year.
  170. On Saturday, WSJ reported that the CIA has intercepted at least 11 messages sent by crown prince MBS to his closest adviser, who oversaw the team that killed Khashoggi.
  171. Trump spoke briefly to the Saudi crown prince at the G20 summit. The exchange between the two leaders was not scheduled. A White House official sought to downplay the interaction as exchanging pleasantries.
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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 94: “CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR”

Week 93 of this international embarrassment: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

August 25, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-93-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-960e3340ff19

This was an ominous week for Trump, as three longtime allies turned on him. If you’ve come to one of my book events, I’ve said one of the three paths to ending Trump’s time in office was through the #MeToo movement, as in this case with hush money payments to silence women and the cover-up. This week in court, Michael Cohen essentially called Trump an unindicted co-conspirator in the crime of making hush money payments with the “principal purpose of influencing” the 2016 presidential election. Cohen was also subpoenaed in New York’s probe of the Trump Foundation. News later in the week indicated Trump’s bookkeeper for decades, Allen Weisselberg, and his longtime ally David Pecker, chairman and CEO of American Media, were both granted immunity in Manhattan court in exchange for their testimony.

As Cohen was pleading guilty, Paul Manafort was simultaneously being found guilty of eight felony counts in Virginia — his first of two trials. After initial denials by his press secretary that a pardon was under consideration, Trump spent the week publicly praising Manafort while attacking the Mueller probe, setting the stage for what aides believe is a coming pardon.

And yet not a single Republican spoke out against Trump this week. By the end of the week, leading Senate Republicans seemed open to Trump firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the midterms, potentially leaving the Mueller probe vulnerable. As news on Cohen and Manafort came out, Republicans and Fox News focused on the death of a University of Iowa student who was killed by an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, with Trump ally Newt Gingrich telling Axios, “If Mollie Tibbetts is a household name by October, Democrats will be in deep trouble.”

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  1. On Saturday, Trump responded to the NYT story in Week 92 on White House counsel Don McGahn cooperating, tweeting he “allowed” McGahn and others “to fully cooperate” and turned over documents.
  2. Trump also tweeted, “we readily gave over one million pages of documents,” adding, “Most transparent in history. No Collusion, No Obstruction. Witch Hunt!
  3. On Saturday, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro bashed Mueller and linked him to Benghazi, saying, “you testified…to cover for Hillary Clinton’s incompetence,” adding on the probe, “you got nothing.”
  4. On Sunday, on Meet the Press, when asked about his comments that Trump testifying in the Mueller probe would be a perjury trap, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said, “No, truth isn’t truth. Truth isn’t truth.”
  5. Giuliani’s assertion is reminiscent of Kellyanne Conway’s in Week 11 of “alternative facts.” After the interview, Merriam Webster tweeted the definition of “truth.”
  6. Giuliani also lied, claiming Donald Trump Jr. did not know Natalia Veselnitskaya was Russian ahead of the June 9 Trump Tower meeting, saying he did not know if “she was Russian at the time. All they had was her name.”
  7. On Sunday, in a series of six tweets, Trump lashed out at “the Failing New York Times” who he said wrote a “Fake piece,” adding “this is why the Fake News Media has become the Enemy of the People. So bad for America!”
  8. Trump also claimed, without offered proof, that some members of the media are “very Angry at the Fake Story in the New York Times,” claiming they “actually called to complain and apologize” for the story.
  9. Trump tweeted that the NYT implied that by McGahn giving “testimony to the Special Councel, he must be a John Dean type ‘RAT,’” adding “ So many lives have been ruined over nothing.”
  10. Trump also referred to the Mueller probe as “McCarthyism at its WORST!” and repeated the false charge, “No Collusion and No Obstruction, except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats.”
  11. Trump also compared the Mueller investigation to McCarthyism, “Study the late Joseph McCarthy,” because we are in a period when “Mueller and his gang … make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby!
  12. On Sunday, Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis said in the past few months,Cohen has reached out regularly to John Dean, the former White House counsel who helped bring down the presidency of Richard Nixon.
  13. On Sunday, NYT reported Trump’s legal team does not know what McGahn told Mueller’s team when the team was fully cooperating, a potentially damaging mistake. McGahn has offered a limited accounting.
  14. After McGahn was first interviewed in November 2017, Trump’s legal team did not ask for a complete description, and McGahn’s lawyer, William Burck, did not inform them of what was said in subsequent interactions.
  15. On Sunday, on State of the Union, Trump surrogate Rick Santorum saidMueller could avoid charges of McCarthyism by investigating the FBI and Department of Justice.
  16. On Sunday, NYT reported federal investigators looking into whether Cohen committed bank and tax fraud are focusing on the more than $20 million in loans obtained by taxi businesses owned by Cohen and his family.
  17. On Monday, CNN reported Darren Beattie, a speechwriter for Trump who attended a conference frequented by white nationalists, the H.L. Mencken Club Conference, in 2016, has left the White House.
  18. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Trump adviser Larry Kudlow hosted Peter Brimelow, the publisher of a website that serves as a platform for white nationalism, at his home last weekend for his birthday party.
  19. On Monday, at a White House ceremony for Border Patrol agent Adrian Anzaldua, Trump introduced him without attempting to pronounce his last name, and said Adrian could speak “perfect English.”
  20. New Jersey Globe reported that Rick Jankowski, a Monroe Township school board candidate, made racist and homophobic comments on Facebookbetween 2013–2016, including calling black people “fucking monkeys.”
  21. On Wednesday, NBC News reported Christine Hallquist, who in Week 92became the first transgender gubernatorial candidate, is now getting a steady stream of death threats and other personal attacks.
  22. Kansas City Star reported Michael Dargy Jr., a Westport security guard, ordered a “Trayvon Martini” from a black bartender at a Westport bar on Monday. On Wednesday, Dargy Jr. was fired.
  23. Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported Buford City Schools superintendent Geye Hamby was named in a race-discrimination lawsuit, with recordings, for yelling racist slurs at a group of black workers at a construction site.
  24. On Friday, Texas Monthly reported on a complaint filed by a Honduran woman who entered the U.S. in June, was separated from her nine-year-old daughter. and met an immigration officer nicknamed the “deporter” who told her, “You are all ignorant and keep coming.”
  25. In the complaint, she says, “He called me in to sign my deportation papers a couple days after I was told I did not qualify for asylum,” adding, “Don’t you understand that we don’t want you in this country?
  26. On Friday, PBS reported according to a status update by the federal government, 528 migrant children remained separated from their parents. Of those, 23 children are under the age of 5.
  27. There are also 343 children whose parents are no longer in the U.S. TheTrump administration has made almost no progress in reunification since the court-imposed deadline passed.
  28. On Thursday, Adam Housley became the second Fox News reporter to resign in recent weeks. Housley, who was at Fox News for two decades, left over frustrations with the direction and tone of coverage in the Trump-era.
  29. Politico reported Betsy DeVos’s Department of Education has dismissed at least five investigations involving transgender students who were denied bathroom access. Another has been delayed for at least three years.
  30. AP reported Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai told a Senate panel that Don McGahn called him for a “status update” on the agency’s action on the Sinclair-Tribune deal on July 16 or 17. Pai expressed “serious concerns” about the merger.
  31. On Monday, Bloomberg reported that Trump complained to wealthy Republican donors at a Hamptons fundraiser last Friday about Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s interest rate hikes.
  32. On Monday, Trump told Reuters he is “not thrilled” with Powell, adding, while he is negotiating with other countries, he “should be given some help by the Fed. The other countries are accommodated.”
  33. NBC News reported across the federal government, the Trump administration is emphasizing a less-punitive approach to combat white-collar crime and civil violations, reversing steps by the Obama administration.
  34. The regime plans to reward companies that report violations and take steps to fix them in areas such as failing to pay overtime and committing financial fraud, as well as smaller fines for polluters that come forward.
  35. On Monday, acting Environmental Protection Agency director Andrew Wheeler signed a plan to weaken regulation of coal-fired power plants, replacing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan with the Affordable Clean Energy Rule.
  36. On the heels of an earlier decision to let automobiles pollute more, the new plan erases the Obama administration’s efforts to impose pollution controls on carbon dioxide pollution and transition to cleaner energy.
  37. The Trump proposal will give states more authority to make their own plans for regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The regime has routinely dismissed the threat of climate change and questioned its cause.
  38. Bloomberg reported despite Trump’s promises, the coal industry is losing customers as utilities turn to natural gas and renewable power to generate electricity. Coal production and consumption continue to decrease.
  39. Trump nominated Kathy Kraninger, an architect of his family separation policy who has no background in financial regulation or consumer protection, to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  40. Kraninger refused to answer about her role in the zero-tolerance policy at her Senate confirmation hearing, saying she would not discuss the “general topic” of immigration because it would be a “slippery slope.”
  41. Reuters reported Pentagon officials are sounding the alarm inside the Trump regime about the sharp drop in Iraqi refugees who have helped American troops in battle coming to the U.S. as a safe haven.
  42. So far just 48 Iraqis have been admitted, compared to more than 3,000 in 2017 and about 5,100 in 2016. The Pentagon is concerned the drop will harm national security by dissuading locals from cooperating with the U.S.
  43. On Wednesday, NYT reported DeVos is considering a plan to allow states to use federal funding to purchase guns for educators.
  44. The plan would undermine efforts by Congress to restrict federal funding on guns and would to be the first time that a federal agency has authorized the purchase of weapons without a congressional mandate.
  45. On Sunday, on “Meet the Press,” former CIA director John Brennan said he is willing to take Trump to court to prevent other current and former intelligence officials from having their clearances stripped.
  46. On Monday, in a series of tweets, Trump escalated his attacks on Mueller, calling him “disgraced and discredited,” saying his “whole group of Angry Democrat Thugs spent over 30 hours with the White House Councel.”
  47. Trump also said that “Mueller’s Angry Dems” are “enjoying ruining people’s lives” but “REFUSE” to look at corruption on the Democrats’ side, adding, “They are a National Disgrace!”
  48. Trump also tweeted that he hoped Brennan, whom he called “the worst CIA Director in our country’s history,” brings a lawsuit so he can get documents on how Brennan was “involved with the Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt.”
  49. Trump also said in his tweets that DOJ official Bruce Ohr, who he said is “at the center of FALSE ALLEGATIONS” in the Steele dossier should be “fired from the Jeff Sessions “Justice” Department,” putting justice in quotes.
  50. On Monday, as Trump was sending his tweets, First Lady Melania Trump was giving a speech about the “destructive and harmful” uses of social media at a cyberbully summit as part of her “Be Best” campaign.
  51. Also on Monday, Melania announced she plans to travel to Africa without Trump in October, saying, “I am excited to educate myself on the issues facing children throughout the continent.”
  52. On Monday, more than 175 former U.S. intelligence community and national security officials said in the third open-letter on the topic that they are deeply concerned by the politicization of security clearances.
  53. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted “even James Clapper” has admonished Brennan after Clapper said his rhetoric is concerning, adding, maybe Clapper is “being nice to me so he doesn’t lose his Security Clearance.”
  54. On Monday, in an interview with Reuters, Trump said he was concerned the Mueller probe would be a perjury trap, saying “it’s my word against his (Comey), and he’s best friends with Mueller.”
  55. Trump also asserted that he retained the power to intervene in the Mueller probe, “I can go in, and I could do whatever — I could run it if I want. But I decided to stay out…So far, I haven’t chosen to be involved.”
  56. Trump also said the Mueller probe has hampered his efforts to improve relations with Russia and refused to blame Russia for interfering in the 2016 election, if it was Russia “they played right into the Russians’ hands.”
  57. Reuters reported the FBI is probing cyber-attacks on the California congressional campaigns of David Min and Hans Keirstead. Both lost primaries in races critical to Democrats taking control of the House.
  58. On Sunday, Senator Rand Paul rode on Air Force One and played a round of golf with Trump. Paul recently visited Moscow and, in Week 92, had been advocating to dropping U.S. sanctions on two Russian lawmakers.
  59. On Tuesday, a report released by Microsoft revealed that the Russian military intelligence unit that attacked the 2016 election is targeting conservative U.S. think tanks that have broken with Trump on Russia.
  60. Microsoft said it detected and seized websites created in recent weeks by hackers linked to Russia’s G.R.U. that tried to trick people into thinking they were clicking on the think tanks’ websites before being redirected.
  61. The think tanks targeted have been critical of Trump’s interactions with and handling of Russia, including continued sanctions and pressing for human rights. Microsoft also found websites imitating the U.S. Senate.
  62. On Tuesday, Christopher Steele won a U.S. libel case brought by three Russian oligarchs — Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan — who claimed Steele defamed them in his dossier.
  63. The three own a stake in Russia’s Alfa Bank. In Week 21, the FBI was investigating ties between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization. The judge threw out the case, citing free speech under the First Amendment.
  64. On Thursday, Reality Winner, the former government contractor whopleaded guilty to mailing a classified U.S. report to a news organization, got a five-year sentence, the longest ever imposed for a leak.
  65. Winner had leaked information to the Intercept which detailed Russiangovernment efforts to penetrate a Florida-based supplier of voting software and the accounts of election officials ahead of the 2016 election.
  66. Civil rights activists mobilized to try to stop Georgia from closing seven of nine polling precincts in a predominantly black county ahead of the midterms. Stacey Abrams, a black American, is running for governor.
  67. The Randolph County elections board claims the seven polling places are being shuttered because they are not ADA compliant. The polling places were used during the May 22 primary election and July 24 primary runoff.
  68. On Friday, after facing intense national scrutiny, the Randolph County board of elections voted to keep the seven polling places open. The consultant who recommended closings was fired Thursday.
  69. The Young Turks reported an election day computer “glitch” in Kansas’ most populous county, has cast a shadow over the legitimacy of Kris Kobach’s victory in the state’s governor primary, which he won by about 300 votes.
  70. On Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee alerted the FBI of an attempted hack of its voter database. The DNC said the attempt failed, and the culprit is not known.
  71. On Thursday, DNC Chief Security Officer Bob Lord said in a statement that hack was actually a test built by an unnamed third party and that the test was not authorized by the DNC or any of the party’s security vendors.
  72. On Thursday, Yahoo News reported the White House blocked a bipartisan bill in the Senate which would have significantly bolstered defenses against election interference.
  73. The Secure Elections Act previously had widespread bipartisan support. On Wednesday, GOP Senate Rules Committee chair Roy Blunt canceled the markup, the next step for the bill. No explanation was given.
  74. On Friday, Google informed Senator Pat Toomey that hackers with ties to a “nation-state” sent phishing emails to old campaign email accounts during 2016 to try to hack his campaign. The infiltration was not successful.
  75. On Friday, Detroit Free Press reported clerks in every Michigan county received identical Freedom of Information Act requests seeking copies of the ballots and other records from the 2016 election.
  76. The requests are signed by “Emily,” with no last name, and requests that records be sent to a United Action Group at a post office box in Astoria, New York. Messages from the Detroit Free Press were not returned.
  77. Information requested includes: absentee ballots, envelopes the absentee ballots were mailed in, records listing the names of voters who requested absentee ballots, and provisional ballots, both counted and uncounted.
  78. On Monday, concern was raised that Trump’s continued tweets and public statements in support of Manafort and deriding the Mueller probe, while the jury was not sequestered, could impact their deliberations.
  79. On Monday, a Defense Department spokesman contradicted Trump’s rationale for canceling the military parade, saying Trump was not briefed on the cost estimate and that the $92 million estimate was not valid.
  80. On Tuesday, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, pleaded guilty to eight counts of tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations, including two charges related to hush money payments.
  81. Cohen said he made the payments “at the direction” of an unnamed candidate in 2016, and that a $150,000 payment in August 2016 was for the “principal purpose of influencing” the 2016 presidential election.
  82. The judge asked Cohen if he knew what he did was illegal, and he responded he did. Cohen said, “at the direction” of a candidate, he used the money from a home equity line to pay $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford.
  83. Cohen said at the direction of a candidate, he and David Pecker arranged to keep one of the alleged affairs from the public with a payment by National Enquirer of $150,000 to Karen McDougal.
  84. According to Cohen’s plea filing, in January 2017, executives at the Trump Organization directed Cohen be paid $420,000, reimbursing him for his payment, along with money for taxes and expenses and a $60,000 bonus.
  85. According to the filing, the Trump Organization relied on sham invoices by Cohen to conceal the nature of the payments. Cohen submitted monthly invoices, and received all monthly checks totaling $420,000.
  86. Cohen is out on bail until his scheduled sentencing in December. According to court filings, Cohen faces a recommended prison sentence of 46 to 63 months. He is not cooperating in the Mueller probe at this point.
  87. Almost simultaneously, Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted by a federal jury in Virginia on eight felony counts. The judge declared a mistrial on the other 10 counts where unanimous jury consensus was not reached.
  88. The eight charges include five counts of tax fraud, one count of failure to file a report of foreign bank and financial accounts, and two counts of bank fraud. Manafort faces seven to nine years in prison.
  89. On Tuesday, Trump told reporters as he arrived in West Virginia for a campaign rally that he feels “very badly” for Manafort and a “sad thing that happened,” but that it has “nothing to do with Russian collusion.”
  90. Trump said of Manafort “he was a great man, he was with Ronald Reagan and many people over the years,” adding, “It doesn’t involve me.” Trump also called the Mueller probe “a witch hunt and a disgrace.”
  91. On Tuesday, Cohen attorney Lanny Davis said Cohen has information that would be of interest to Mueller and is happy to share it, including the crime of hacking and whether Trump knew about it ahead of time.
  92. On Tuesday, Trump held a rally in West Virginia, a state he won by 40 points. He covered a bevy of topics, but did not mention Cohen or Manafort.
  93. The closest he got was attacking the Mueller probe, saying, “Fake news and the Russian witch hunt…Where is the collusion? You know, they’re still looking for collusion. Where is the collusion? Find some collusion!”
  94. On Tuesday, Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife were indicted for using campaign funds for personal use. Hunter was the second GOP Congressman to endorse Trump after Rep. Chris Collins, who was indicted in Week 91.
  95. On Thursday, Hunter shifted blame to his wife for the alleged campaign fund abuses, telling Fox News, “She was also the campaign manager, so whatever she did that’ll be looked at too.”
  96. On Wednesday, in morning tweets, Trump attacked Cohen, saying, “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!”
  97. Trump also tweeted that he felt “very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family,” adding “unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ — make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’”
  98. Trump also falsely tweeted that Cohen pleaded guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are “not a crime,” and that Obama “had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!”
  99. On Wednesday, Democratic senators called for a delay of the vote on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, citing Manafort’s criminal convictions and Cohen’s guilty pleas.
  100. On Wednesday, at the daily press briefing, press secretary Sarah HuckabeeSanders said that Trump “did nothing wrong” seven times in response to reporters’ questions on Manafort’s guilty verdict and Cohen’s guilty plea.
  101. Sanders also said it was “a ridiculous accusation” to say Trump has lied to the American people. WAPO has recorded 4,229 false or misleading statements by Trump, including changing stories on the Cohen payment.
  102. Sanders also told reporters that she “wasn’t aware” of any discussions of Trump pardoning Manafort and that the topic was “not something that’s been up for discussion.”
  103. On Thursday, Giuliani said in an interview that Trump asked his lawyers whether he could pardon Manafort and other aides last week. His lawyers counseled him not to until after the Mueller probe concluded.
  104. Giuliani also told Sky News in the interview, which took place while he was golfing in Scotland, that Cohen is a “massive liar” and that the “American people would revolt” if Trump were impeached.
  105. On Thursday, Sanders said in a statement that the topic of a pardon is not under active consideration “in the White House” and that Trump “has not made a decision on pardoning Paul Manafort or anyone else.”
  106. On Wednesday, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance issued a subpoena to Cohen as part of its ongoing probe of whether the Trump Foundation violated New York tax laws.
  107. The probe is separate from the NY Attorney General’s lawsuit against the Trump Foundation. A spokesperson said, “We will be working with the NY Attorney General and the Manhattan district attorney as appropriate.”
  108. On Thursday, NY Attorney General Barbara Underwood asked the Department of Taxation to make a referral on Cohen, an administrative step that allows her office to investigate him for possible violations of state tax law.
  109. WAPO reported when Cohen got the subpoena, he called the Department of Taxation to offer help. Cohen had no formal role at the Trump Foundation, but he had wide knowledge of Trump and his family’s affairs.
  110. Cohen also had a role in at least one Trump Foundation matter: arranging for a Ukrainian steel magnate, Victor Pinchuk, to donate $150,000 to the Trump Foundation in 2015.
  111. On Wednesday, “Fox & Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt interviewed Trump at the White House, the day after the Cohen and Manafort news. In May, Trump had praised Earhardt and encouraged people to buy her book.
  112. On Wednesday evening, while appearing on Hannity to promote the interview ahead of it airing, Earhardt told Sean Hannity Trump told her he would consider a pardon, saying, “I think he feels bad for Manafort.”
  113. On Thursday, the interview aired on Fox News. When Trump complained reporters “like to cover nonsense,” Earhardt answered “right.” She asked Trump, “Is the press the enemy of the people?” instead of challenging him.
  114. Trump said he knew about the hush money payments after they were made, telling Earhardt, “later on I knew … later on,” contradicting Cohen’s statement in court on Tuesday.
  115. Trump also falsely claimed because the payments came from his personal funds, there was no violation of campaign finance laws, saying, “They didn’t come out of the campaign. It is not even a campaign violation.”
  116. When asked about Cohen and a longstanding legal practice, Trump said, “It’s called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal,” adding, “It almost ought to be outlawed. It’s not fair.”
  117. When Earhardt asked Trump to grade himself, he said, “I give myself an A+,” adding, “I don’t think any president has ever done what I’ve done in this short — we haven’t even been two years.”
  118. Trump also said that if he got impeached, “I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor,” explaining, “because without this thinking, you would see numbers you wouldn’t believe.”
  119. Trump also falsely claimed that Manafort “wasn’t with the campaign long,” and claimed that the FBI “surveilled my campaign, it’s very simple.”
  120. Trump also said of Sessions that the only reason he gave him the job was because “I felt loyalty,” but that Sessions “never took control of the Justice Department,” adding of Sessions’ recusal, “what kind of man is this?”
  121. On Thursday, Sessions, who rarely pushes back, issued a statement saying, “While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”
  122. On Friday, Trump shot back at Sessions, sarcastically tweeting it was “GREAT” that Sessions is not influenced and said Sessions should look into “corruption on the “other side.”
  123. Trump listed, “deleted Emails, Comey lies & leaks, Mueller conflicts, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Ohr, FISA abuse, Christopher Steele & his phony and corrupt Dossier,” as things he wanted the DOJ to investigate.
  124. On Wednesday night, after midnight (1:10 a.m.), Trump tweeted, “NO COLLUSION — RIGGED WITCH HUNT!
  125. On Wednesday, Paula Duncan, a Trump supporter who was a juror in the Manafort trial, told Fox News that one holdout juror prevented the jury from convicting Manafort on all 18 counts.
  126. On Thursday, Duncan told NBC News the one holdout was a woman, who she does not believe was a Trump supporter. Duncan said the jurors did not put much stock in Rick Gates’ testimony.
  127. On Wednesday, WSJ reported a turning point for Cohen on Trump was in June when his father Maurice Cohen, a Holocaust survivor, told him he didn’t survive the Holocaust to have his name sullied by Trump.
  128. Prosecutors also had testimony from Cohen’s accountant and business partners, documents that implicated he and his wife, and details about hush money payments to women by David Pecker.
  129. On Thursday, Trump tweeted about a segment on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show the night before, saying he directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations.”
  130. Echoing talking points used by white nationalists group of a racially charged conspiracy theory, Trump tweeted, “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.”
  131. On Thursday, NYT reported the Manhattan district attorney is considering pursuing criminal charges against the Trump Organization and two senior company officials for hush money payments made to Stephanie Clifford.
  132. The investigation would focus on how the company accounted for its reimbursements to Cohen for the $130,000 he paid Clifford. The office’s review is still in the early stages.
  133. If charges are brought, Trump has no power to pardon people and corporate entities convicted of state crimes.
  134. On Thursday, Vanity Fair reported David Pecker, CEO of American Media, Inc., which owns the National Enquirer, has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors for providing information on hush money payments.
  135. Pecker has met with prosecutors and provided details about payments Cohen arranged to silence Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal.Pecker, like Cohen, has reportedly said Trump was aware of the payments.
  136. Vanity Fair also reported that to distract from headlines, Trump is considering taking away clearances from former members of his administration, including H.R. McMaster and Rex Tillerson.
  137. On Friday, WSJ reported Allen Weisselberg, who served for decades as chief financial officer and executive vice president of the Trump Organization, has testified and been granted immunity.
  138. Along with Cohen and Pecker, Weisselberg is the third longtime Trump confidant to provide information on hush money payments. Weisselberg testified before a grand jury in Manhattan.
  139. Weisselberg was one of the Trump Organization executives who helped reimburse Cohen for the $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford. The Journalcould not ascertain if he told prosecutors that Trump knew about the payments.
  140. On Friday, NYT reported Weisselberg struck a deal in earlier in the summer with federal prosecutors, granting him immunity for his grand jury testimony.
  141. Reportedly the deal is narrow in scope, protecting Weisselberg from self-incrimination in sharing information with prosecutors about Cohen, and did not offer blanket immunity.
  142. Trump reportedly has been alternating between anger and “a surprising state of calm.” One aide said he relishes conflict: “He enjoys the battle.”
  143. On Friday, AP reported the National Enquirer kept a safe containing documents on hush money payments and stories that it killed as part of its cozy relationship with Trump leading up to the 2016 election.
  144. Sources told AP the safe was also a great source of power for Pecker, using embarrassing stories obtained about celebrities under catch-and-kill deals in order to ask them for favors in return for keeping stories secret.
  145. Cohen’s filings said Pecker “offered to help deal with negative stories about (Trump’s) relationships with women” by helping the campaign identify stories they could purchase to avoid publication.
  146. On Friday, CNN reported Dino Sajudin, the former doorman who says he has knowledge of an alleged affair Trump had with an ex-housekeeper, which resulted in a child, has been released from his contract with AMI.
  147. Sajudin was part of a “catch-and-kill” deal, in which he received $30,000 for the story, but it never ran. The story first became public in Week 74, when AMI responded by calling his story “not credible.”
  148. On Friday, in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley,all ten Democrats on the committee called for postponing the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
  149. The letter cited concerns about possible “criminal wrongdoing” by Trump, as well as doubts Kavanaugh believes a president can even be investigated, and the unprecedented lack of transparency in the confirmation process.
  150. On Friday, Trump called off a planned visit to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, days before the scheduled visit for the next round of nuclear talks, in a series of tweets.
  151. Trump tweeted he asked Pompeo not to go “because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization.” The tweets mark an abrupt shift: Trump had previously claimed progress was being made.
  152. A CNN reporter tweeted that State Department staffers were caught “completely off guard” by the cancellation, saying they had been “briefing allies’ embassies about their objectives” just ten minutes before.
  153. On Friday, Sen. John McCain’s family announced that he was ending medical treatment for aggressive brain cancer. Trump and the White House were silent amid the news.
  154. On Friday, Politico reported that despite the fact that Trump’s lawyers and a myriad of informal White House advisers have advised him against it,aides expect him to move forward and pardon Manafort.
  155. Aides said Trump wants to use his unilateral authority to issue pardons to absolve Manafort and is setting the stage to do so by calling Manafort a “brave man,” and continuing to criticize the Mueller probe.
  156. Unlike previous administrations that had formalized processes for selecting who receives a pardon, under the Trump regime, the pardon process in the White House has been far more ad hoc.
  157. On Wednesday, Axios reported Newt Gingrich wants to use Mollie Tibbetts, an 20-year-old University of Iowa student who was murdered by an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, to help the GOP in midterms.
  158. Gingrich said, “If Mollie Tibbetts is a household name by October, Democrats will be in deep trouble.” Fox News has been repeatedly covering the story, and Trump mentioned it at his West Virginia rally.
  159. Gingrich said he sees the Tibbetts story as a way to distract from the Manafort and Cohen stories, saying, “We are living in two alternative political universes.”
  160. The Tibbetts family has repeatedly asked that Mollie’s death not be politicized.
  161. On Friday, the Independent reported a network of Russian-linked Twitter accounts have been tweeting divisive content about Mollie Tibbetts’ deathin an apparent attempt to divert from stories about Cohen and Manafort.
  162. There was a flurry of activity starting Tuesday, after news on Manafort and Cohen. Throughout Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, #MollieTibbetts was the most shared hashtag among the Russian-linked accounts.
  163. On Saturday, Trump denied knowing about the Trump Tower meeting, tweeting, “I did NOT know about the meeting,” and adding, “just another phony story by the Fake News Media!”
  164. Trump also attacked Sessions again in a pair of tweets, saying Sessions “doesn’t understand what is happening underneath his command position,” with “highly conflicted Bob Mueller and his gang of 17 Angry Dems.”
  165. Trump also quoted Sen. Lindsey Graham, who had in 2017 strongly defended Sessions, in a tweet, saying, “Every President deserves an Attorney General they have confidence in,” and, “these are not lifetime appointments.”
  166. Trump also attacked the FBI in a series of tweets, saying the “big story” is “that the FBI ignored tens of thousands of Crooked Hillary Emails,” and threatening, “At some point I may have to get involved!”
  167. Trump also tweeted “this news is just out,” quoting Fox News in a tweet, saying, “The FBI only looked at 3000 of 675,000 Crooked Hillary Clinton Emails,” adding, ““The FBI looked at less than 1%” of Crooked’s Emails!”
  168. On Saturday, Senate Republicans who had once backed their former colleague said Sessions would likely be ousted after midterms, with Graham, John Cornyn, and Grassley saying they are open to a new AG.
  169. Although Graham said, “I don’t buy it,” that having Sessions in place was not the only way to protect Mueller, Sen. Bob Corker said, “We are in a sad place in our country’s history.”