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.

IMG_1254
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.
IMG_1072
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.
IMG_1282
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.
IMG_0684
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.
IMG_0341
“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.
IMG_1098
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.
IMG_6086
Wynwood, Miami, FL – December 2017
Advertisements

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. 

IMG_4984
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.

IMG_1190
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.
IMG_1109
“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.
IMG_1094
“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.
IMG_1101
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.
IMG_1097
“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”
IMG_1110
“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.

IMG_1100

  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.”

IMG_1098

  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.”

IMG_1192