POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 100: TOILET PAPER ON THE SHOE OF OUR DEMOCRACY

Week 99 of toilet paper on the shoe of our democracy: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

October 7, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-99-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-c84bbf9b03c1

This was all predictable. The descent to authoritarianism follows a predictable path in history. Masha Gessen, one of the “experts in authoritarianism” I read before starting the project of making the weekly list, wrote this in a New York Review of Books article on November 10, 2016, “There is little doubt that Trump will appoint someone who will cause the Court to veer to the right; there is also the risk that it might be someone who will wreak havoc with the very culture of the high court.” Prescient indeed.

This week, veering off norm after norm, and stoking a culture war between #MeToo and his newly coined #HeToo movement, Trump, with the help of Sen. Mitch McConnell plowed through to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee. Kavanaugh’s 50–48 confirmation vote margin was the lowest since Stanley Matthews’ 24–23 vote 1881. Bookending Gessen’s piece, this week in the New York Review of Books Christopher Browning, in a piece titled “The Suffocation of Democracy,” compares McConnell to Hitler-era German President Paul von Hindenburg — both of whom he refers to as “gravediggers” of democracy.

Meanwhile, the acts of hatred against “the others” continued this week. Trump again beat the familiar drum of white men as victims, this time at the hands of women who dare to find their voices. A bombshell article by the NYTrevealed the lie behind Trump’s campaign image of a self-made billionaire; reporters found his fortune was largely handed down by his father, much of it in a fraudulent manner.

Images from Weimar , Germany. September 2018:

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  1. A Pew Research poll found America’s global image has plummeted under Trump, amid widespread opposition to his regime’s policies and a widely shared lack of confidence in his leadership abilities.
  2. The poll finds the world has significant concerns about America’s role in world affairs, citing isolationism and the U.S. doing less to help solve major global challenges. American soft power is waning as well.
  3. Trump polled the lowest among leaders of major powers, with 70% of those surveyed in 25 countries saying they have no confidence in him to do the right thing regarding world affairs. Just 27% have confidence.
  4. On Saturday, Trump visited West Virginia for a campaign rally where he bragged about his economic accomplishments. Under Trump, poverty in the state climbed to 19.1% in 2017 from 17.9% in 2016.
  5. Speaking on North Korea, Trump said he started off being tough with Kim Jong Un, but “then we fell in love, OK. No, really. He wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters. And then we fell in love.”
  6. On Saturday, the Intercept reported that despite Kavanaugh’s claim at the Senate hearing that “I have no connections there. I got there by busting my tail,” his grandfather Everett Edward Kavanaugh also attended Yale.
  7. On Saturday, NBC News reported the White House counsel’s office has imposed severe limitations to the FBI investigation. The probe will not include interviewing Kavanaugh’s third accuser, Julie Swetnick.
  8. The FBI will not interview Kavanaugh’s Yale classmates about alleged excessive drinking or high school classmates about sexual references in his yearbook to see if witnesses would contradict his Senate testimony.
  9. Just four people will be interviewed: Mark Judge; Leland Keyser, a high school friend of Ford who she said attended the party but was not told of the assault; P.J. Smyth, another party guest; and Deborah Ramirez.
  10. WSJ reported the investigation is being “tightly controlled” by the White House, and the FBI will not have free rein to pursue all potential leads.
  11. On Saturday evening, Trump tweeted, “NBC News incorrectly reported (as usual) that I was limiting the FBI investigation,” adding, “I want them to interview whoever they deem appropriate, at their discretion.”
  12. On Sunday, NBC News reported that despite Trump’s tweet, the FBI has received no new instructions from the White House about changing the limitations on the investigation.
  13. On Sunday, Sen. Diane Feinstein sent a letter to White House counsel Don McGahn and FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting a copy of the written directive the White House sent to the FBI.
  14. On Sunday, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton told Face the Nation that Feinstein and her staff will be investigated over the leaked Ford letter. Feinstein repeated Monday that she and her staff did not leak the letter.
  15. On Sunday, Kellyanne Conway said on State of the Union that she was a victim of sexual assault, then seemed to use her admission to support Kavanaugh saying, “You have to be responsible for your own conduct.”
  16. On Monday, Trump told reporters he had instructed McGahn to have the FBI carry out an open investigation, with the caveat that the inquiry should accommodate the desires of Senate Republicans.
  17. Trump said he wanted a “comprehensive” FBI investigation and had no problem if the FBI questioned Kavanaugh or even Swetnick. Trump said he accepted Kavanaugh’s denials, calling confirmation process deeply unfair.
  18. On Monday, the Portland Press Herald reported Sen. Susan Collins wants the FBI to investigate the allegations brought by Julie Swetnick and not limit the scope of its investigation to those raised at the Senate hearings.
  19. The editorial boards of two Maine newspapers spoke out against Kavanaugh: the Portland Herald Press wrote “he doesn’t belong on the Supreme Court,” and the Bangor Daily News called him “unfit.”
  20. On Sunday, CNN reported the FBI spoke to Deborah Ramirez and she provided them with names of witnesses. On Tuesday, her attorney John Clune said none of the 20 witnesses had been contacted.
  21. On Sunday, the New Yorker reported the attorney for Elizabeth Rasor, a college girlfriend of Judge, repeatedly made clear to the Senate Judiciary Committee and FBI she would like to speak but has not heard back.
  22. On Monday, NBC News reported in the days leading up to Ramirez’s allegations becoming public, Kavanaugh and his team surreptitiously communicated with his Yale classmates about refuting the story.
  23. Kerry Berchem, a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh Ramirez, said she has tried to get those messages to the FBI but has not heard back. Berchem emailed FBI agent J.C. McDonough a memo, along with screenshots of texts.
  24. In a text message between Berchem and Karen Yarasavage, both friends of Kavanaugh, Yarasavage said Kavanaugh asked her to go on the record in his defense.
  25. Texts show Kavanaugh tried to get a copy of a photo from a 1997 wedding of Yale classmates both he and Ramirez attended to discredit her. Berchem said Ramirez tried to avoid Kavanaugh that day, and she “clung to me.”
  26. Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath that the first time he heard of Ramirez’s allegation was in the New Yorker article published on September 23.
  27. A spokesman for judiciary committee chair Sen. Chuck Grassley said that the texts “do not appear relevant or contradictory” to Kavanaugh’s testimony, calling it “another last-ditch effort to derail the nomination” by Democrats.
  28. On Monday, NYT reported in recent weeks hundreds of migrant children at shelters from Kansas to New York have been roused in the middle of the night and clandestinely transported a tent city in West Texas.
  29. The population of migrant children has grown fivefold since last year. Private foster homes and shelters that sleep two to three to a room, and provide formal schooling and legal representation, are overburdened.
  30. The children are in groups of 20, split by gender, and have no formal schooling and limited legal representation. The tent cities are unregulated, except for guidelines created by the Department of Health and Human Services.
  31. The children wore belts etched in pen with phone numbers for their emergency contacts. Some shelter staff members cried for fear of what was in store for migrant children being moved to tents.
  32. On Tuesday, NBC News reported a report by the DHS inspector general found “DHS was not fully prepared to implement the administration’s zero-tolerance policy or to deal with some of its after-effects.”
  33. Immigration law allows Customs and Border Protection to hold unaccompanied children for up to 72 hours. The report found one-fifth of the children were held at least five days and one longer.
  34. The report also found that while the Trump regime urged asylum seekers to come through ports of entry, overwhelmed facilities “likely resulted in additional illegal border crossings.”
  35. On Wednesday, a federal judge in California temporarily blocked the Trump regime from terminating temporary protected status for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua.
  36. On Wednesday, CNN reported a surprise DHS inspection general visit to a privately run California ICE detention facility found nooses hanging in cells, misuse of solitary confinement, and delayed medical care.
  37. The facility is run by GEO Group, a private prison contractor that runs a number of large immigrant detention centers. GEO donated $250,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC and hired two former aides of attorney general Jeff Sessions in Week 50.
  38. Beverly Goldstein, a Republican candidate for Congress in Ohio, in a tweet blamed passage of an ordinance banning LGBTQ discrimination on the “illiteracy” of Black voters.
  39. Republicans in New York are referring to Antonio Delgado, an African American congressional candidate who is a Rhodes Scholar and Harvard Law graduate, as a “big-city rapper” in political attack ads.
  40. Linda Dwire was arrested in a Colorado grocery store, after another patron, Kamira Trent, called the police to report that Dwire was harassing two Mexican women for speaking Spanish.
  41. On Saturday, for the second time in the last 18 months, the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia was vandalized. 19 swastikas were painted on the center.
  42. The president of the center said, “This is getting to be a regular thing — it’s in the air around us, in the country around us,” and said that “expressions of support…are tinged with fatigue.”
  43. On Sunday, WAPO reported the Trump regime announced it will sue California in an effort to block that state’s new net neutrality law, which has been described by experts as the toughest ever enacted in the U.S.
  44. Just hours after California’s proposal became law, senior Justice Department officials told WAPO they will sue on grounds that the federal government has the exclusive power to regulate net neutrality.
  45. On Wednesday, FEMA sent a presidential alert via a text message. According to FEMA, unlike emergency alerts and Amber alerts, these presidential alerts cannot be turned off.
  46. The system was originally put in place under former George W. Bush for radio and TV, and later updated by Obama to include cellphones. This is the first time the system has been used.
  47. AP reported Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency is pursuing rule changes that would weaken the way radiation exposure is regulated, breaking with decades of policy that there is no threshold of radiation exposure that is risk-free.
  48. The EPA cited a toxicologist at the University of Massachusetts who has said weakening limits on radiation exposure would save billions of dollars and that a bit of radiation damage is good, like a little bit of sunlight.
  49. On Thursday, Foreign Policy reported Trump is considering firing Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson over her pushback on his directive to stand up a separate Space Force in the U.S. military.
  50. Sources say Wilson has not figured out a way to disagree with Trump, and he therefore permanently sees her as “troublesome and ineffective.” Trump will make his final decision on firing her after the midterms.
  51. On Thursday, an article in the conservative Federalist called on WAPO to stop labeling op-ed columnist Jennifer Rubin a “conservative,” citing her non-support of Trump.
  52. On Thursday, NYT reported as Afghanistan frays, mercenary executive Erik Prince has been the talk of Kabul and is frequently introduced as an adviser to Trump.
  53. Prince is pushing a vision that his contractors could offer an official military withdrawal from Afghanistan against the wishes of the country’s president, who does not want foreign mercenaries.
  54. Prince has also tied his proposal to a favorite topic of Trump’s: exploiting Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, including rare earth deposits. Some officials in the Afghan government have tried to block Prince from getting a visa.
  55. On Monday, at a press conference in the Rose Garden, Trump insulted ABC News reporter Cecilia Vega. After calling on her and her thanking him, Trump said, “I know you’re not thinking. You never do.”
  56. On Tuesday, bowing to public scrutiny, the White House corrected the press conference transcript. The Monday version had read, “I know you’re not thanking. You never do.”
  57. Trump also derided CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins, wagging his finger and saying, “Don’t do that,” when she asked about Kavanaugh, then saying, “You know what, you’ve really had enough. Hey. You’ve had enough”
  58. On Tuesday, at a rally in Mississippi, Trump attacked Democrats are “holier than thou,” and, offering no proof, claimed one Senate Democrat drinks too much and encouraged the crowd to Google the senator’s name.
  59. Trump also mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, imitating her Senate testimony, saying, “‘I don’t know. I don’t know.’ ‘Upstairs? Downstairs? Where was it?’ ‘I don’t know. But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember.”
  60. Trump also claimed because of the #MeToo movement men were going to be fired from their jobs after being unfairly accused of sexual harassment, saying, “Think of your husbands. Think of your sons.”
  61. On Wednesday, the three swing Republicans — Sens. Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski — criticized Trump for mocking Ford, with his remarks called “kind of appalling” by Flake “wholly inappropriate” by Murkowski.
  62. On Tuesday, a bombshell yearlong NYT investigative report found despite Trump’s campaign claims that his father gave him a $1 million loan that he turned into an empire, Fred Trump gave him $60.7 million in loans.
  63. In total, Trump received the equivalent of at least $413 million in today’s dollars from Fred Trump’s real estate empire, much of it through dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud.
  64. According to a deposition by Robert Trump, the Trumps used padded receipts to justify rent increases in rent-stabilized buildings. “The higher the markup would be, the higher the rent that might be charged.”
  65. In 1990 Donald Trump had one of his lawyers draft a codicil that would have changed his dad’s will. Fred Trump dispatched Trump’s sister to find a new real estate lawyer, rewrote the will, and signed it immediately.
  66. On Tuesday, CNBC reported, the New York state tax department is reviewing the allegations in the NYT article and, according to an official, “is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation.”
  67. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted about “the Failing New York Times,” saying, “Added up, this means that 97% of their stories on me are bad. Never recovered from bad election call!”
  68. On Wednesday, WSJ reported that if Democrats take control of the Senate in the midterms, Sen. Ron Wyden, who would chair the Senate Finance Committee, plans to ask for Trump’s tax returns.
  69. Trump dropped 11 more spots on the Forbes’ 400 list of the richest Americans. In the last two years, Trump’s net worth has dropped from $4.5 billion in 2015 to $3.1 billion, dropping him from 121 to number 259.
  70. Forbes noted that Trump is actively trying, but failing, to get rich off his presidency. The Trump brand has suffered, and deeper reporting has revealed that Trump had been lying about valuations.
  71. On Thursday, AP reported experts say although the statute of limitations has passed for criminal charges, Trump could be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars in civil fines from state and from federal authorities.
  72. On Tuesday, WSJ reported Trump personally directed his then-attorney Michael Cohen in February 2018 to stop Stephanie Clifford from publicly discussing an alleged sexual encounter on “60 Minutes.”
  73. Trump told Cohen to seek a restraining order against Stephanie Clifford and to coordinate the legal response with Eric Trump and Jill Martin, an outside lawyer who represented Trump and the Trump Organization.
  74. Five days later, as instructed, Martin filed paperwork for a confidential arbitration proceeding. An arbitrator privately issued a restraining order against Clifford, who ignored it and went on television on March 25.
  75. On Thursday, New York attorney general Barbara Underwood said in a court filing that Trump caused his charitable foundation to break state and federal laws governing non-profit groups.
  76. Underwood wrote Trump’s use of the Trump Foundation “for his own personal benefit” justifies her request to ban him for 10 years from being involved in any non-profit group.
  77. On Monday, former FBI director James Comey rejected a request by House Judiciary Committee Republicans to appear at a closed hearing on alleged political bias at the Department of Justice and FBI, saying he would appear in a public hearing.
  78. Politico reported on Monday that Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. Manafort’s attorneys, Richard Westling and Tom Zehnle, were also seen speaking with one of Muller’s lead prosecutors, Andrew Weissmann.
  79. On Tuesday, Politico reported Roger Stone associate Randi Credico told the Senate Intelligence Committee through his lawyer that he would plead the Fifth Amendment rather than testify in the panel’s Russia probe.
  80. On Tuesday, Politico reported Federal law enforcement officials referred a 2-year-old email hacking investigation related to Cheri Jacobus, an anti-Trump Republican, to Mueller’s team.
  81. On Tuesday, Politico reported Mueller is further downsizing his team of prosecutors, with Brandon Van Grack and Kyle Freeny returning to their prior posts at the Justice Department.
  82. Van Grack played a role in the Virginia bank and tax-fraud case, as well as Michael Flynn’s guilty plea. Freeny has “concluded her work here” per Mueller’s spokesperson. The number of prosecutors is down from 17 to 13.
  83. On Thursday, the DOJ unveiled indictments against seven officers of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency who were targeting top Olympic athletes, anti-doping organizations, and chemical weapons monitors.
  84. The DOJ announced that in the summer of 2016, GRU hacked drug-test results from the World Anti-Doping Agency and leaked confidential information about U.S. Olympic athletes on the internet.
  85. Three of the seven were previously indicted for conspiring to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election as part of the Mueller probe.
  86. The Dutch and British governments earlier on Thursday also described GRU attacks. The Dutch described a hack at a chemical-weapons agency in Week 92, while the British government called the cyberattacks “reckless and indiscriminate.”
  87. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters in Brussels that the U.S. stands “shoulder-to-shoulder” with our NATO allies and pledged U.S. cyberoffense capabilities to other allies if asked.
  88. Daily Beast reported Russian deputy attorney general Saak Albertovich Karapetyan died in a helicopter crash. Media reports claimed the crash happened during an unauthorized flight in the Kostroma region.
  89. Karapetyan’s ties to directing the foreign operations of Natalia Veselnitskaya were exposed in a Swiss court this year as part of a plot to enlist a Swiss law-enforcement official as a double-agent for the Kremlin.
  90. He and Veselnitskaya together tried to recruit a high-level law-enforcement official who was supposed to be investigating the Swiss bank accounts of Russian oligarchs and mobsters.
  91. Veselnitskaya had helped to draft a document on behalf of the Russian government related to the fraud case against Prevezon. Karapetyan wrote the cover letter.
  92. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Republicans Senators emailed an explicit statement about Julie Swetnick’s sex life to reporters. Swetnick’s attorney Michael Avenatti says the FBI still refuses to interview her.
  93. On Tuesday, Majority Leader McConnell vowed to vote in the Senate on Kavanaugh’s nomination this week, even as attorneys for Ford, and others who have reached out to the FBI, have not yet been interviewed.
  94. On Tuesday, WAPO reported the FBI has completed the first four interviews and is now interviewing Tim Gaudette and Chris Garrett, high school classmates of Kavanaugh.
  95. The investigation is being led by the FBI’s Security Division, a branch that handles background checks. FBI director Christopher Wray, who was two years behind Kavanaugh at Yale, is also directly involved.
  96. On Tuesday, NYT obtained a 1983 letter written by Kavanaugh that contradicts his testimony before the Senate. In it he writes, “warn the neighbors that we’re loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us.”
  97. Interviews with a dozen classmates and friends depict Kavanaugh as a member of a small clique of football players who celebrated a culture of heavy drinking, even by standards of that era, contradicting his testimony.
  98. On Wednesday, Rachel Maddow read a sworn affidavit from Elizabeth Rasor, which the FBI neglected to take, saying Mark Judge had conveyed “a degree of shame” about taking turns having sex with a drunk woman.
  99. BuzzFeed reported ethics complaints have been filed against Kavanaugh in the DC Circuit, including at least one related to his alleged lying about sexual assault allegations against him.
  100. Ethics experts say there is no precedent for what happens to the complaints if he is elevated to the Supreme Court. For now, the complaints are under the purview of DC Circuit chief judge Merrick Garland.
  101. On Wednesday, NBC News reported that, according to multiple sources, more than 40 people with potential information into the sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh have not been contacted by the FBI.
  102. On Wednesday, James Roche, Kavanaugh’s freshman year roommate at Yale, said in an op-ed that Kavanaugh “lied under oath about his drinking and terms in his yearbook.” The FBI has not contacted Roche at any time.
  103. On Wednesday, an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that 45% of Americans believe Ford is telling the truth, up from 32% before her testimony. Just 33% believe Kavanaugh is telling the truth.
  104. On Wednesday, the National Council of Churches, the nation’s largest coalition of Christian churches, said in a statement “Kavanaugh has ‘disqualified himself’” and “must step aside immediately.”
  105. On Wednesday, Ford’s attorneys wrote a letter to chairman Grassley, again saying the FBI has not contacted them despite Ford’s desire to be interviewed in the probe.
  106. When asked about the limited scope of FBI interviews, press secretary Sarah Sanders blamed it on senators, telling reporters, “We’re going to allow the Senate to make the determination of the scope.”
  107. On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported the FBI lacks White House approval to interview Ford and Kavanaugh. Late Wednesday, McConnell started the clock for a Friday test vote on the nomination.
  108. Officials inside the FBI are concerned constraints placed on the investigation by Trump’s White House could damage the bureau’s reputation for finding the truth.
  109. On Wednesday, the NYT published an open letter by 650 law school professors in opposition to Kavanaugh’s nomination. By Thursday, there were more than 2,400 signatures.
  110. On Wednesday, more than 1,000 Maine academics signed a letter urging Sen. Collins not to support Kavanaugh, citing credible allegations of sexual misconduct and an “angry demeanor” at the Senate hearing.
  111. On Thursday, the White House issued a statement at around 2:30 a.m. saying the FBI had completed its work and the materials were conveyed to Capitol Hill in the middle of the night.
  112. Deputy press secretary Raj Shah falsely said, “This is the last addition to the most comprehensive review of a Supreme Court nominee in history, which includes extensive hearings, multiple committee interviews.”
  113. The public was not allowed to see the FBI report. Only senators were permitted to review the materials.
  114. Although the FBI was given a week to complete their investigation, they stopped after just five days.
  115. Senators’ review took place in a secured room at the Capitol starting Thursday morning. Republican senators were permitted to see the information first. Time was limited to allow a vote on Friday.
  116. On Thursday, WSJ reported the White House believes the FBI report has no corroboration of sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh.
  117. NYT reported that as part of the inquiry, the FBI contacted ten people and interviewed nine of them. WAPO reported that it could confirm interviews with only six people.
  118. The FBI has not publicly explained why it stopped after talking with just five more people, nor did the bureaus explain why they did not interview Ford or Kavanaugh.
  119. The Senate Judiciary Committee tweeted, “Nowhere in any of these six FBI reports…reviewed on a bipartisan basis…[is anything] related in any way to inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse.”
  120. Sen. Dick Durbin responded in a tweet, “This tweet is not accurate” and in a letter insinuated previous background checks of Kavanaugh had turned up evidence of either inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse.
  121. Late Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren said on the Senate floor that the FBI reports show there was not a full and fair investigation. Instead, she said, it was sharply limited in scope and did not explore the relevant confirming facts.
  122. Sen. Warren also said the available documents do not exonerate Kavanaugh and that the documents contradict statements Kavanaugh made under oath at the Senate hearing.
  123. On Thursday, thousands protested Kavanaugh’s nomination outside the courthouse where Kavanaugh works, at the Supreme Court, and at two Senate office buildings. Protestors chanted, “We believe survivors.”
  124. The U.S. Capitol Police said 302 people were arrested in two Senate office buildings, including actresses Amy Schumer who said, “A vote for Kavanaugh is a vote saying women don’t matter.”
  125. On Thursday, Jen Klaus, the former roommate of Ramirez, told NBC News Senate committee staff members called her at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, put her on speakerphone, and asked about Ramirez’s drinking habits at Yale.
  126. Klaus said the staffers also suggested it was a case of mistaken identity, saying “It just gave me the impression they were suggesting perhaps it was (another classmate) who threw his penis in her face instead of Brett.”
  127. A Yale classmate, Kathy Charlton, told NBC News she tried to contact the FBI about text messages she received from a mutual friend of Kavanaugh ahead of the Ramirez story breaking.
  128. Charlton said three days prior to the New Yorker story, in a phone conversation, the former classmate told her Kavanaugh had called him and advised him not to say anything “bad” if the press were to call.
  129. After she spoke to a reporter, the friend texted Charlton, saying, “Hellllllooooo. Don’t F****** TELL PEOPLE BRETT GOT IN TOUCH WITH ME!!! I TOLD YOU AT THE TIME THAT WAS IN CONFIDENCE!!!”
  130. Both Charlton and Kerry Berchem made numerous attempts to get in touch with the FBI but did not hear back.
  131. Berchem told NBC News on Thursday she sent her third email to Mike Davis, the chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee. She briefly spoke to a staffer on October 3 and heard nothing further.
  132. On Thursday, speaking to a crowd of retirees in Florida, Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, a Republican, said Kavanaugh does not belong on the Supreme Court, saying he lacked the temperament.
  133. Late Thursday, Kavanaugh wrote an op-ed for the WSJ defending himself as an “independent, impartial judge,” explaining his behavior at last week’s Senate hearing as being “emotional” as a “son, husband and dad.”
  134. Late Thursday, the WAPO Editorial Board urged senators to vote “no” on Kavanaugh, citing “his partisan instincts.” This is the first time the Post has called for a no vote since 1987.
  135. On Thursday, at a rally in Minnesota, Trump mocked Al Franken’s resignation over sexual assault allegations, saying he folded “like a wet rag,” and mocked Franken, “‘oh, he did something,’ ‘oh I resign. I quit.’”
  136. On Friday, the American Bar Association said in a letter that its Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary has reopened its evaluation of Kavanaugh in light of his testimony before the Senate last week.
  137. On Friday, when Sen. Grassley was asked by Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo if George Soros was behind the protestors who confronted Sen. Flake in the elevator, Grassley said, “I tend to believe it.”
  138. On Friday, in a morning tweet, Trump attacked survivors who had protested, saying “the very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad.”
  139. Trump also tweeted a conspiracy theory, saying “look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love! #Troublemakers
  140. An ABA spokesperson said the committee did not expect to complete its evaluation ahead of voting Friday, so the association’s assessment of Kavanaugh as “well qualified” rating stands, but it “must be read in conjunction with the foregoing.”
  141. Hundreds of female attorneys in Alaska said in a letter to Sen. Murkowski to vote no, and other Alaskans who are survivors flew to Washington D.C. to meet with her Thursday. On Friday, she voted no on cloture.
  142. On Friday, at a 3 p.m. speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Collins declared her support for Kavanaugh in a fierce 44 minutes-long speech. Her deciding vote ensured his confirmation.
  143. Seated behind her during the speech were the three other Republican women senators who were voting to support Kavanaugh. The GOP has only five women in the Senate.
  144. Before Collins’ speech started, protesters stood up in the gallery above her, yelling, “Vote no! Show up for Maine women!” After she finished her speech, McConnell led a standing ovation.
  145. Collins went on to blast Democrats and progressive organizations and to cite the oft-used GOP trope that she believes Ford was sexually assaulted but does not believe her recollection that it was Kavanaugh.
  146. Minutes after her speech, a crowdfunding site where activists have been raising money to defeat Collins in 2020 was inundated with pledges and crashed. The site raised more than $3 million dollars.
  147. On Friday, when asked by reporters why there are no Republican women on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Grassley cited the workload a deterrent: “It’s a lot of work — maybe they don’t want to do it.
  148. Grassley added, “My chief of staff of 33 years tells me we’ve tried to recruit women and we couldn’t get the job done.” Grassley later returned to clarify that the workload made it less appealing to both genders.
  149. On Friday, NYT reported that in the beginning of the week, Trump had called McGahn to tell him the FBI should be able to investigate anythingbecause they needed the critics to stop.
  150. McGahn reportedly responded that a wide-ranging inquiry like some Democrats were demanding would be potentially disastrous for Kavanaugh’s chances of being confirmed.
  151. McGahn noted since this was not a criminal investigation, FBI agents could not use search warrants and subpoenas. He said the White House could not order the FBI to rummage indiscriminately through someone’s life.
  152. Late Friday, Ford’s attorney criticized the investigation in a statement: “an F.B.I. investigation that did not include interviews of Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh is not a meaningful investigation in any sense of the word.”
  153. Experts said it was highly unusual for the FBI not to conduct those interviews, with one expert adding it was “indefensible” not to interview Ford. Investigators also did not review her polygraph results or therapist’s notes.
  154. On Saturday, anti-Kavanaugh protests continued, with hundreds protesting and more arrests.
  155. On Saturday, WAPO reported Chief Justice John Roberts received more than a dozen judicial misconduct complaints in recent weeks on Kavanaugh but chose not to refer them to a judicial panel.
  156. Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the court on which Kavanaugh serves, passed complaints the court received starting three weeks ago on to Roberts.
  157. Henderson dismissed other claims as frivolous. In a statement Saturday, she said the complaints centered on statements Kavanaugh made during his Senate hearings, questioning his honesty and temperament.
  158. This is the first time in history that a Supreme Court nominee has been poised to join the court while a fellow judge recommends that misconduct claims against that nominee warrant review by the Chief Justice.
  159. According to experts, once Kavanaugh is confirmed, the details of the complaints could be dismissed. Supreme Court justices are not subject to misconduct rules governing these claims.
  160. On Saturday, Kavanaugh was confirmed by a 50–48 vote, along party lines with the exception of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who voted yes, and Sen. Murkowski, who voted present.
  161. Kavanaugh’s two-vote margin was the lowest in modern history. The only lower margin of support for a Supreme Court justice was in 1881 when Stanley Matthews was confirmed 24 to 23.
  162. The state of Texas set a new voter registration record, with 15.6 million new registered voters ahead of the hotly contest midterm race between incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke.
  163. Election records show the state has added 400,000 voters since March alone. The state on average added just over 100,000 voters a year between 2002 and 2014.
  164. On National Voter Registration Day, a record 800,000 voters registered ahead of midterms. The campaign’s initial aim was to add 300,000 voters.
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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 75: “GRAB ‘EM BY THE PUTHY !”

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

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

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

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

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

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 74: DOUCHES & DUNCES

Should have known we could count on Los Angeles street artists to have an opinion on the current political situation in our slowly (or, rather quickly) unraveling democracy. All over the LA streets yesterday, I found these brilliant “Douche” and “Dunce” stickers. I don’t know the artist behind them, but would love to give credit where credit is due, if anyone knows. 

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What happens when you take a joke too far? The 45th president of the Divided States of America.

Another important point to note this week, as it has come out that the regime is collecting data on journalists and bloggers, I understand, and have always understood, that my blog may eventually hit their radar. TOKIDOKI is quite ‘small potatoes,’ compared to actual political blogs, but I have always understood the risk of this weekly post and I feel it’s my duty as an an American to stand up for what I believe in and to help keep the masses informed, no matter how much they want to close their eyes and cover their ears. We won’t be silenced. This quote from Martin Niemöller is my inspiration:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Week 73 of this godforsaken presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

April 7, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-73-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-fcd309a62b9b

This was an alarming week simply for all that happened in what should have been a quiet holiday week with Congress out of town. As in recent weeks, Trump is not seeking to work with the input of Congress, nor does the Republican Party seem to have a policy plan; rather Trump is governing unilaterally.

This week, after a Mar-a-Lago weekend where Fox News hosts told him he was viewed as softening on immigration, Trump spent the week creating a crisis to demonize and take actions against immigrants — using the shiny coin of “caravans” to energize his base around the hatred of others.

Trump is acting against the advice of his dwindling pool of senior staffers, and gyrating on issues like withdrawing troops from Syria and tariffs. But again, Trump is calling the shots and choosing the focus. As departures continue, Trump stayed with loyalist Scott Pruitt as scandals engulfed his EPA chief — a story which consumed a great portion of our media’s attention, despite a myriad of alarming developments, including the regime starting a database to track journalists and bloggers.

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A fact about Mike Pence: “Campaign finance records from the 1990 effort showed that Pence, then 31, had been using political donations to pay the mortgage on his house, his personal credit card bill, groceries, golf tournament fees and car payments for his wife.” Although, NOT illegal at the time (it IS now), it stunned voters because of the hypocrisy. And this is what the GOP continues to do to its supporters, behaving like “Do as I say, not as I do,” and it’s truly frustrating and heartbreaking to watch my fellow Americans SWINDLED and made to LOOK LIKE FOOLS. The people they vote for laugh at them and run all the way to the bank. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mike-pence-used-campaign-funds-to-pay-his-mortgage–and-it-cost-him-an-election/2016/07/15/90858964-49ed-11e6-bdb9-701687974517_story.html?utm_term=.40b05a075219
  1. Trump’s Department of Homeland Security will monitor 290,000 news sources around the world, and compile a database of journalists, editors, foreign correspondents, and bloggers to identify top “media influencers.
  2. WAPO reported that in reaction to Trump, tens of millions of Americans are joining protests and getting political. One in five Americans have protested or participated in rallies since the beginning of 2016.
  3. Of those participating, 19% said this was their first time marching or joining a political gathering. About one-third saying they intend to volunteer or work for a 2018 congressional campaign.
  4. The number of women who have filed to run for US House seats in November 2018 continued to swell. So far, a record 309 women have filed to run in both parties, breaking the record of 298 in 2012.
  5. In a letter addressed to the Republican chair and ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, more than 200 former diplomats expressing alarm over the slide in US leadership in the world.
  6. In what one former undersecretary described as a “cry from the heart,”diplomats urged senators to grill Mike Pompeo about his plans to reverse the corrosion of the State Department at his confirmation hearing.
  7. Politico reported Rex Tillerson spent $12 million while Secretary of State to hire an army of consultants, mostly from the consulting firm Deloitte, to make the State Department leaner and modernized to the standards.
  8. Congressional officials, who for months have been unsuccessfully trying to get information on Tillerson’s project, said it would be a subject in the Senate confirmation of Pompeo.
  9. Russian bots tweeted their support of Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who in Week 72 disparaged a Parkland student: #IstandwithLaura jumped 2,800 percent in 48 hours and was the top trending hashtag for the bots.
  10. On Easter Sunday, shortly after tweeting “HAPPY EASTER,” Trump sent a series of tweets venting on immigration and vowing “NO MORE DACA DEAL!”
  11. Trump blamed Mexico and Democrats, warning “Getting more dangerous. ‘Caravans’ coming,” and threatened Mexico, tweeting “They must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA.”
  12. On Monday, CNN reported that over the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, Trump heard from allies, some of whom work for Fox News including Jeanine Pirro and Sean Hannity, that his base believes he is softening on immigration.
  13. Trump’s tweet about “Caravans” was related to a segment aired extensively on Fox News about Central Americans trekking from the Mexico-Honduras border into the US. His tweet followed a segment Sunday on “Fox & Friends.
  14. On Monday, at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, Trump spoke to the crowd of roughly 30,000 parents and children on a variety of topics including bragging about his handling of the economy, “We’re going to make it bigger and better and stronger.”
  15. Trump also touted the military, “So just think of $700 billion, because that’s all going into our military this year,” and said of the DACA kids, “Democrats have really let them down. It’s a shame…”
  16. In a report titled, “Hate in the White House,” the Southern Poverty Law Center enumerated the many groups and individuals associated with hate groups and extremist ideology that are part of the Trump regime.
  17. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright penned an op-ed, “Will We Stop Trump Before It’s Too Late?” warning, “fascism poses a more serious threat now than at any time since the end of World War II.”
  18. On Monday, WAPO reported according to new DOJ directives, the Trump regime will pressure US immigration judges to process cases faster by imposing a quota system tied to their annual performance reviews.
  19. Immigration judges will be expected to clear at least 700 cases a year to receive a “satisfactory” performance rating. Their union called the quota an “unprecedented” step that risks undermining judicial independence.
  20. WAPO reported ICE ignored a directive from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis saying that noncitizen troops and veterans should not be deported, moving to deport Xilong Zhu, 27, who came from China in 2009 to attend US college.
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“Mitch McConnell is the Republican majority leader who will always put the fate of his party over the functioning of government. As Barack Obama’s tormentor, his legislative achievements were nonexistent, but he succeeded in stifling much of the Democrats’ agenda. Now he is in full bloom as an obstructionist, even with his own party in power.” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/11/mitch-mcconnell-republican-party-trump-russia
  1. Zhu enlisted in the Army and was caught in an immigration dragnet created by the DHS. Zhu’s case comes as the Trump regime has pressured immigration judges to speed up deportation proceedings.
  2. The Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project reported a webpage that focused on breast cancer was scrubbed from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health. Information on insurance for low-income people was also removed.
  3. Bob Nonini, a Republican lieutenant governor candidate in Idaho, softened his stance Tuesday, a day after saying saying punishments for women who get an abortion should include the possibility of the death penalty.
  4. BuzzFeed reported that in at least 18 cases, Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education has failed to inform colleges that complaints were filed against them relating to campus sexual assault.
  5. DeVos’ department is still, almost a year later, working on an overhaul of Title IX regulations dealing with handling of sexual misconduct, but under the Clery Act, the department is required to track and disclose crimes reported on campus.
  6. Dayanna Volitich, a Florida middle school teacher, resigned after it was revealed that she is responsible for a white supremacist podcast and Twitter account full of racist and anti-Semitic posts.
  7. On Monday, the Trump regime said it will roll back an Obama-era car pollution standard in California. The EPA’s statement was notable in suggesting the regime would take on California’s authority to set its own rules.
  8. On Thursday, San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera sued Jeff Sessions, asking a federal court to overturn his December decision to revoke legal guidance designed to protect minorities, the indigent, and disabled.
  9. On Thursday, NBC News reported Puerto Rico’s Department of Education will close 283 of the island’s 1,100 schools this summer, following a sharp drop in enrollment amid the economic slump and departure of families.
  10. On Monday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Trump’s White House is considering using “rescission,” an obscure 1974 law that allows presidents to try to cancel spending approved by Congress, to slash from the budget bill approved last week.
  11. On Tuesday, DJ Gribbin, Trump’s top infrastructure aide, resigned after Trump acknowledged this week that his public works program wouldn’t happen before the midterm elections this fall.
  12. NPR reported Kentucky lawmakers signed a measure preventing federally-certified radiologists from judging X-rays in state black lung compensation claims, leaving it to physicians who typically work for the coal companies.
  13. Deadspin compiled a shocking video of news anchors at networks owned by Sinclair Broadcasting spliced together reciting propaganda-type scripts provided and required by the company.
  14. The script includes paradoxically warning viewers about “troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country,” and warns about “false news” and “fake stories.”
  15. Sinclair Broadcasting currently owns or operates 193 stations, and that number will rise to more than 230 if its proposed merger with Tribune Media goes through, which is highly likely under the Trump regime.
  16. Krish Vignarajah, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Maryland, is boycotting Sinclair-owned stations after Sinclair forced affiliate stations to read statements decrying “fake news” from other news stations.
  17. David Smith, executive chairman of Sinclair Broadcast, wrote in emails to New York that the entire print media “serves no real purpose,” adding it is reality-distorting tool of leftists that has “no credibility” and no relevance.
  18. On Wednesday, CNN reported a Sinclair producer in Nebraska resigned on March 26, citing corporate mandates for the past year and a half, and saying promos warning of “fake” news were just the final straw.
  19. A new study by researchers at Ohio State University found fake news played a significant role in the 2016 election: about 4% of Obama supporters were dissuaded from voting for Hillary by fake news.
  20. Among the top fake news stories that Obama supporters believed were that Hillary was in very poor health, Pope Francis endorsed Trump, and that Hillary approved weapons sales to Islamic jihadists, including ISIS.
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“House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), among all elected Republicans, may be faring the worst during the Trump era. By defending, rationalizing, excusing and ignoring President Trump’s egregious behavior and attack on democratic norms, Ryan has gone from respected wonk to disgraced toady.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/08/22/why-paul-ryan-defender-of-the-indefensible-should-just-stop-talking/?utm_term=.f3523c2a164c
  1. Jill McCabe, the wife of Andrew McCabe wrote in an op-ed, “it’s time to set the record straight,” saying Trump and others attacked her reputation with “such destructive lies,” in an “effort to vilify us to suit their needs.”
  2. ProPublica reported on a Trump project in Mumbai, where the Trump Organization had licensing deals, had its permits revoked after investigators found “significant irregularities.”
  3. In Week 67, Donald Jr. made an “unofficial” business trip to India to deliver a foreign policy speech on at an event with Indian PM Modi. ProPublica reported that while there, he tried to get the decision overruled.
  4. On Tuesday, a lawsuit filed by nonprofit watchdog group Democracy Forward claims the Trump regime has failed to provide information on Jared Kushner’s meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last May in Riyadh.
  5. On Thursday, Daily Mail reported Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman bragged Kushner handed him US classified intelligence that the crown prince used as part of a purge of ‘corrupt’ princes and businessmen.
  6. NYT reported David Pecker, owner of the National Enquirer, took Kacy Grine, a French businessman who advises one of Saudi Arabia’s richest men and sometimes Crown Prince MBS, to meet with Trump in the Oval Office and then to briefly meet with Kushner.
  7. The New Yorker reported on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts to remake the Middle East, and his connections to Jared Kushner — “They became close very fast,” according to a former US official who see MBS periodically.
  8. New Yorker also reported a financial analyst present at a meeting between Charles Kushner and Qataris, said Kushner’s father pitched a huge renovation of 666 Fifth Avenue, “He asked for just under a billion dollars.”
  9. Charles Kushner has maintained he attended the meeting only out of politeness and did not talk business. The financial analyst also said Charles Kushner hosted a follow-up meeting the next day at 666 Fifth Avenue.
  10. The New Yorker also reported SCL Group, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, had been retained by the Emirati government. In Week 30, Trump sided with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in a blockade of Qatar. In Week 31, the US ambassador to Qatar resigned.
  11. On Friday, Bloomberg reported an investment group that includes Kushner Cos, will receive $600 million in financing from JPMorgan Chase to build a residential tower in Brooklyn. A source said approval of the deal took months as it was run up the chain of command at JPMorgan.
  12. On Sunday, China announced its plan to counter Trump’s new tariffs on steel and aluminum, levying duties that will take effect Monday on more than 128 US goods exported to the country.
  13. On Monday, Trump attacked Amazon for the fourth time this week tweeting, “Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon,” adding, “not a level playing field!”
  14. On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as much as 759 points, closing down more 450 points over fears of trade wars with China and Mexico (NAFTA). Amazon was another down day, falling 5.2%.
  15. Amazon is the 17th company Trump has attacked since the election, often driving down their stock price. According to historians, unlike past leaders, Trump’s attacks are not about policy, but rather to “discredit his perceived opponents.”
  16. The stock market is having its worst second quarter since the Great Depression due to trade tariffs imposed by China and Trump’s public lashing of Amazon.
  17. On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported China is targeting their tariffs at American farmers in swing-states like Ohio and Iowa in a way that could impact the midterm elections.
  18. On Wednesday, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow sought to tamp down fears of a trade war with China, saying Trump’s tariffs “are all proposals” right now, adding “we’re putting it out for comment.”
  19. On Thursday, Trump said he instructed the US Trade Representative toconsider an additional $100 billion of tariffs on Chinese products. The representative expressed support for the move, calling Trump’s response “appropriate.”
  20. On Friday, Kudlow again cautioned “this is not a trade war,” adding no new duties have been implemented, and talks with China will continue for several months before anything is done.
  21. Clothing is exempted from the tariffs providing a big break to American clothing companies that hold trademarks in China, including Ivanka’s clothing companies which manufacture in China.
  22. On Friday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a CNBC interview that Amazon’s tax-collecting doesn’t make sense, calling it “unfair” and saying infrastructure is “very, very important for the states’ economies.”
  23. On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged another 500 points on fears of Trump’s trade war with China, and possibly Mexico. Also, job adds for March came in at 103,000, well below the 193,000 expected.
  24. On Sunday, Trump’s lawyers filed an appeal, asking a New York state appeals court to throw out, or freeze a defamation lawsuit by Summer Zervos while Trump is in office.
  25. On Monday Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen filed papers in a federal court in Los Angeles asking that their case with Stephanie Clifford be heard by a private arbitrator in lieu of a jury.
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Sean Spicer. “He was dreadful as press secretary. Perpetually flustered and easily aggravated, his briefings were chiefly characterized by panicky cycles through whichever members of the press corps he happened to spot in a given moment, moving at a clip that left him garbling words, offering up rhetorical gems like “Holocaust centers,” and lashing out at reporters. His job was never going to be an easy one, what with a staff-jockeying president intent on speaking for himself and not through his communications team. But Spicer was exceptionally, mesmerizingly bad at it.” https://www.theringer.com/2017/7/21/16078116/politics-sean-spicer-resignation-donald-trump-anthony-scaramucci-white-house-a009b1d6bc3d
  1. On Thursday, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he didn’t know Cohen paid Stephanie Clifford $130,000 days before the election. This is his first public response to questions about the payment.
  2. Clifford’s lawyer said Trump’s statement would be shown to be untruthfulif he is deposed. The statement also raises questions of whether the hush agreement is valid, given one party did not know about it.
  3. Trump’s comments also have implications for the complaint filed by Common Cause with the FEC and DOJ, claiming the argued that the payment was made to influence the election but not publicly disclosed.
  4. On Monday, Egypt’s state news agency MENA reported Trump called Egypt’s President al-Sisi to express his “sincere congratulations” on his re-election victory. Al-Sisi won 97% of the vote.
  5. On Monday, WSJ reported Mueller is investigating an August 4, 2016 email by Roger Stone in which he claimed he had met with WikiLeaksfounder Julian Assange: “I dined with Julian Assange last night.”
  6. The email was addressed to Trump adviser Sam Nunberg. The next day, Stone praised Assange on Twitter. Stone claims the email was a joke, and that he never had contact with Assange in 2016.
  7. On Wednesday, CNN reported the day Stone allegedly sent the email to Assange, he appeared on the InfoWars radio show and predicted “devastating” upcoming disclosures about the Clinton Foundation.
  8. On Monday, Yuri Ushakov, the Kremlin foreign policy adviser said in Moscow that during Trump’s March 20 call with Putin, Trump proposed the two meet at the White House in the near future, and that Putin would like to take him up on the suggestion.
  9. On Monday, press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed that a White House meeting was discussed on the call, but played down the prospect, saying, “We have nothing further to add at this time.”
  10. A visit would be a significant gesture to Russia: Putin has not been invited to visit the White House since 2005. Amid expelling diplomats, Trump has yet to directly criticize Putin, and Russian state-owned news outlets have not criticized Trump directly.
  11. On Tuesday, the State Department told CNN the US and Russia can replace diplomats in each other’s countries who were expelled last week, describing the process as standard practice.
  12. On Tuesday, the Mueller probe notched its first prison sentence: attorney Alex van der Zwaan was sentenced to 30 days in prison, a $20,000 fine, and two months of supervised release.
  13. On Tuesday, Mueller’s team disclosed a memo from Rod Rosenstein in response to Paul Manafort’s motion to dismiss charges, contending Mueller was authorized to investigate only matters arising from the main subject of the investigation.
  14. The Rosenstein August 2017 memo was written to clarify his initial public order, and says Mueller was tasked with examining allegations that Manafort, in particular, committed a crime by “colluding with Russian government officials.”
  15. After the memo was revealed, Rosenstein became the subject of attacks by Fox News pundits, including Andrew Napolitano, and Joe DiGenova who told Sean Hannity that Rosenstein’s conduct “has been a disgrace legally and every other way.”
  16. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Mueller’s team told Trump lawyers in early March that Mueller is continuing to investigate Trump, but views him as a subject of his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, not a criminal target as of now.
  17. The special counsel is preparing a report about the Trump’s actions while in office and potential obstruction of justice. Mueller reiterated the need to interview Trump to complete his probe.
  18. On Wednesday, Facebook acknowledged that Cambridge Analytica had improperly gathered detailed information on 87 million people, 71 million of whom were Americans.
  19. The company said overall, “malicious actors” took advantage of search tools on its platform — now disabled — to discover the identities and collect information on most of its 2 billion users worldwide. The scam started on the so-called “Dark Web” where criminals posted stolen information.
  20. Facebook suspended Canadian tech firm AggregateIQ from its platform. AggregateIQ has been linked with Cambridge Analytica, and is under investigation for whether it broke privacy laws or used unauthorized data.
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“Donald Trump Jr. is a terrible asshole and a person with the voice and demeanor of a terrible asshole. There are no doubt other men in the United States who inherit vast wealth from their families, spend their time liking social media posts accusing the teenage survivors of a school shooting of being paid actors, and believe people in deep poverty should smile more…” https://splinternews.com/why-does-donald-trump-jr-sound-like-such-a-terrible-as-1823194010
  1. Open Secrets reported that in the final weeks leading up the 2016 election,Robert Mercer donated to Secure America Now, a group that used Facebook and Google to target anti-Muslim ads at swing voters.
  2. On Wednesday, CNN reported Mueller is questioning Russian oligarchs who travel into the US. At least one oligarch was stopped and his electronic devices searched when his private jet landed at a New York area airport.
  3. At least two other oligarchs have been questioned as well, all relating to whether wealthy Russians illegally funneled cash donations directly or indirectly into Trump’s presidential campaign and inauguration.
  4. On Thursday, McClatchy reported Mueller’s team questioned an associate of the Trump Organization who was involved in overseas deals with Trump. Investigators showed up at his home with subpoenas compelling electronic records and sworn testimony,
  5. Investigators were particularly interested in the associate’s interactions with Cohen, who has been involved with Trump Organization business deals in Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Russia.
  6. On Friday, the Treasury Department imposed major sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs and the 12 companies they own, as well as 17 senior government officials, a state-owned weapons trading company and its subsidiary, a Russian bank.
  7. Included in the sanction list are Putin’s son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov, Oleg Deripaska, who once had close ties to Manafort, oil executive Igor Rotenberg, and Aleksandr Torshin, who courted NRA leaders and Trump.
  8. Trump made no public comment, nor did he send any tweets about the Russian sanctions.
  9. On Friday, CNN reported Trump has begun informal preparation for a possible interview with Mueller’s team, a sign his legal team is considering allowing an interview, even though they have not formally agreed to it yet.
  10. On Friday, CNN reported Joseph Schmitz, a Trump adviser, played a key role in trying to get the FBI and other government agencies to review materials from the dark web in the summer of 2016, which he wrongly thought were Hillary’s deleted emails.
  11. On Monday, CNN reported the US military has been working on plans to send dozens of additional US troops to northern Syria. Trump’s remarks on possibly withdrawing all troops have puzzled many at the Pentagon.
  12. CNN reported in a meeting with his national security team on Tuesday, Trump became irritated when his top military leaders warned him of the risks of withdrawing from Syria, saying it would be unwise.
  13. On Tuesday, Trump escalated his anti-immigrant rhetoric, floating the idea of sending the military to the US-Mexico border. Trump said at a news conference he would soon meet with Mattis to discuss having the military deployed.
  14. WAPO reported Trump was briefed on the possibility of sending troops by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and that White House aides loved the idea, including senior adviser Stephen Miller who has been involved in the planning.
  15. On Tuesday, Trump threatened to cut off foreign aid to Honduras as he continued to complain about the caravan of roughly 1,000 migrants, primarily from Honduras, traveling through Mexico.
  16. Trump also threatened Mexico with NAFTA: “Cash cow NAFTA is in play, as is foreign aid to Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen.” Mexico had taken steps late Monday to break up the caravan.
  17. On Tuesday, the Mexican ambassador to the US warned Trump’s call for the US military to guard the US-Mexico border is an unwelcome one, saying the Mexican government is still trying to clarify what Trump meant. The US ambassador to Mexico, Roberta Jacobson, resigned in Week 68.
  18. On Wednesday, Trump signed a proclamation directing the national guard to be deployed to the US-Mexico border. The strategy will require the cooperation of border-state governors who oversee their respective National Guard operations.
  19. Although George W. Bush and Obama had also deployed National Guard personnel, Trump’s proclamation comes at a time when the number of people crossing illegally is at its lowest level since 1971, although there was an uptick in March.
  20. Later Tuesday, Trump hosted the leaders of three Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — who are concerned about Russian aggression. Trump told the leaders of himself, “Nobody has been tougher on Russia”
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“Does anyone make an easier target than Kim Jong Un? He’s Fatboy Kim the Third, the North Korean tyrant with a Fred Flintstone haircut—the grinning, chain-smoking owner of his own small nuclear arsenal, brutal warden to about 120,000 political prisoners, and effectively one of the last pure hereditary absolute monarchs on the planet. He is the Marshal of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Great Successor, and the Sun of the 21st Century.” https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/02/kim-jong-un-north-korea-understanding
  1. At a joint press conference following the meeting, Trump called US immigration laws “horrible” and “very unsafe,” saying he is calling on Congress to “get their act together” to change them, adding “we don’t have laws. We have catch and release.”
  2. Trump encouraged Latvian President Vējonis to pick a Baltic, not US, reporter because they are “real news, not fake news.”
  3. Also at the joint news conference, Trump reiterated his intent to pull US troops out of Syria, “I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation.”
  4. As Trump held the joint press conference with heads of three Baltic states, a White House reporter noted it has been 411 days since Trump held a solo news conference, his only. This is far fewer than his predecessors.
  5. Later Tuesday, in his last public remarks as Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster denounced Russia for its increased aggression around the world, and declared the US has “failed to impose sufficient costs.”
  6. The three Baltic leaders were present for his remarks, and McMaster lauded their to counter Russia. McMaster said, “Russia has used old and new forms of aggression to undermine our open societies and the foundations of international peace and stability.”
  7. On Wednesday, the day after Trump’s joint news conference, Russia tested missiles in the Baltic Sea, just outside of NATO territorial waters.
  8. On Thursday, at a speech in West Virginia to talk about the new tax law,Trump read the first lines of the speech, then threw the pieces of paper it was written on into the air, and instead preceded to give a rambling speech.
  9. Trump alleged without evidence that people voted multiple times, “in many places, like California, the same person votes many times,” adding, “Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people.”
  10. Politifact tweeted a fact-check story from November 18, 2016, which found that Trump and far-right media’s claims of three millions illegal votes was false.
  11. Trump also ranted about immigration policies like catch-and-release and family based migration, and repeated a claim from his campaign kickoff speech that immigrant women “are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before.”
  12. It was unclear what Trump was referring to, although this week he has been frequently mentioning caravans. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Trump was referring to “smugglers in general.”
  13. On Wednesday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown said in a series of tweets she will refuse to send her state’s National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border, adding “I’m deeply troubled by Trump’s plan to militarize our border.”
  14. On Friday, Arizona and Texas were poised to send hundreds of National Guard personnel to the US-Mexico border. Trump’s Wednesday memorandum does not specify how long or in what capacity the troops will serve.
  15. Late Friday, Secretary Mattis approved using Defense Department money to pay for as many as 4,000 National Guard personnel to perform border security missions, meaning the federal government will foot the bill.
  16. Late Friday, Trump signed a memo ending a policy known as “catch-and-release,” under which immigrants without proper paperwork are released from detention while awaiting a court hearing on their status.
  17. As part of Trump’s memo, he asks Mattis to come up with a list of military facilities that could be used to detain illegal immigrants, and Sessions and Nielsen to identify any other resources or steps that may be needed.
  18. On Tuesday, Trump bragged about hitting 50% approval at the “honest polling” Rasmussen, saying it was higher than “Cheatin’ Obama” with the same pollster at the same point in office.
  19. Former White House communications director Jen Psaki told CNN Trump’s use of “Cheatin’ Obama” may have “racial undertones,” referring to Trump’s birther claims that Obama “shouldn’t have been president.”
  20. On Tuesday, Judge Rebecca Dallet won a bitter race for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, 56–44. Democrats in Wisconsin had not won an open Supreme Court seat election since 1995.

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  1. On Wednesday, Judith Giuliani filed a contested divorce against Rudy Giuliani in Manhattan Supreme Court. This follows the divorce filings in recent weeks by the wives of Donald Jr., and White House aide Dan Scavino.
  2. Juli Briskman, the Virginia cyclist who was fired after flipping off Trump, sued her former employer Akima, saying “I believe that Americans should not be forced to choose between their principles and their paychecks.”
  3. In a statement Friday, the White House announced Trump will again skip the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, sending press secretary Sanders instead.
  4. On Friday, NPR reported evangelical leaders are organizing a sit-down with Trump on June 19 at the Trump International Hotel DC, over concern his sex-scandals and divisive rhetoric could suppress evangelical turnout in November.
  5. On Thursday, AP reported Mick Mulvaney gave big pay raises to the deputies he has brought in to help him run the bureau, even as he has requested an budget of zero funding for the agency in Week 62.
  6. Mulvaney has hired eight appointees, paying four $259,500 a year and one $239,595 — more than members of Congress and cabinet secretaries. The top salary under the general federal government pay scale is $134,776.
  7. On Thursday, Simon Edelman filed a complaint with the US Office of Special Counsel, the government agency that protects federal employees, including whistle-blowers from reprisals.
  8. In Week 62, Edelman was fired after leaking a photo of Secretary Rick Perry embracing Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy. Edelman’s lawyer said he leaked a photo for the “reasonable belief that he was reporting evidence of criminal corruption, obstruction of justice, and ethics violations.”
  9. ABC News reported the Environmental Protection Agency paid $2,460 to a Capitol Hill condo association after EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s security detail broke down the door after being unable to reach him by phone on a weekday afternoon. He had been napping.
  10. On Tuesday, The Atlantic reported after the White House denied his request to give two aides large raises, Pruitt used a hiring loophole within the Safe Drinking Water Act to grant the raises.
  11. Despite an encouraging phone call Trump gave Pruitt on Monday, White House insiders indicated Trump and the regime are displeased with the ethical issues Pruitt has found himself embroiled in.
  12. On Monday, WAPO reported last year Pruitt considered leasing a private jet on a month-to-month basis to accommodate his travel needs. The estimated cost came in at $100,000 a month.
  13. On Monday, NYT reported that in March 2017, the EPA signed off on a Canadian energy company’s pipeline-expansion plan, a client of Williams & Jensen, whose owner is renting Pruitt his condominium for $50 a day.
  14. On Monday, Daily Beast reported that the same condominium was used to host at least three GOP fundraisers during the time Pruitt was renting; although Pruitt was not invited or present during the events.
  15. On Monday, amid calls for Pruitt to resign, Trump called his embattled EPA chief to tell Pruitt to “keep your head up” and “keep fighting,” because the White House has “got your back.”
  16. On Thursday, the EPA’s top ethics watchdog Kevin Minoli clarified his earlier statement that Pruitt’s rental arrangement had not broken the federal gift rule, saying at that time, he didn’t have all the facts.
  17. Minoli’s clarification came after being sent a series of questions by former head of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub. Minoli will examine the use of a second room by Pruitt’s daughter as a gift, and whether Pruitt violated the impartiality rule by meeting with people from the landlord’s lobbying firm.
  18. On Thursday, Samantha Dravis, the associate administrator of the EPA’s office of policy, resigned. Dravis formerly worked as Pruitt’s policy director and general counsel at the Republican Attorneys General Association.
  19. On Thursday, CNN reported that Trump floated the idea of replacing Sessions with Pruitt as recently as this week, despite the brewing scandals.
  20. On Thursday, on a flight returning from a speech in West Virginia, Trump defended Pruitt to the media, saying he is doing “a fantastic job,” and that Pruitt is a “fantastic person.”

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  1. On Thursday, CBS News reported Pruitt wanted to use his vehicle’s lights and sirens to get to his official appointment. When his security detail toldhim sirens could be used only in emergencies, the agent, a 16-year veteran was removed from his detail.
  2. Despite Pruitt claiming that the lobbying firm run the condominium owner has no business before the EPA, Daily Beast reported, based on lobbying disclosure forms and publicly-listed EPA records, there is a long list of companies that do.
  3. On Thursday, NYT reported at least five officials at the EPA, four of them high ranking and one a Trump appointee, were reassigned or demotedafter raising concerns about Pruitt’s spending and management of the agency.
  4. On Thursday, Politico reported Pruitt fell behind on his $50-a-night payments for the condominium, forcing his lobbyist landlord to pester him for payment.
  5. On Friday, Politico reported that the couple who owned the condominium had originally agreed to allow Pruitt to rent it for six weeks until he got settled, but when he wouldn’t leave, they changed the locks.
  6. On Friday, Trump tweeting defending Pruitt, saying he is doing a “great job but is TOTALLY under siege,” and decrying reporting that Pruitt may replace Sessions as attorney general by the “honest and corrupt” media.
  7. On Friday, WSJ reported, according to a White House aide, John Kelly urged Trump last week that Pruitt should step down, citing negative reports about Pruitt’s spending habits and management style.
  8. On Friday, AP reported that Pruitt’s total security costs approach $3 million, including travel expense such as flying first-class to avoid unpleasant interactions, security overtime, and a soundproof phone booth in his office.
  9. On Friday, in a letter, 64 Democrats in the US House urged Trump to call on Pruitt to resign. Three Republicans in the House have also called on Pruitt to resign.
  10. On Friday, Trump met with Pruitt to discuss the controversies. Conservative groups are rallying behind Pruitt, warning Trump getting someone as dogged as Pruitt though the Senate would be impossible.
  11. On Saturday, Rep. Trey Gowdy, chair of the House Oversight Committee, said he would probe the actions of Pruitt, saying “I don’t have a lot of patience for that kind of stuff.”

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