POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 154: DECONSTRUCTING OUR DEMOCRACY

OCTOBER 19, 2019

Week 153

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-153/

This week they just said it out loud: Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney scolded reporters, saying Ukraine was a quid pro quo, and “Get over it!” This was yet another in a series of unending trial balloons to gauge just how far Trump could push boundaries, and what he could normalize on his path to deconstructing our democracy. At the same news conference, Mulvaney informed reporters that Trump would host the 2020 G7 summit at his Doral Resort, an unprecedented act and another trial balloon. By the end of the week, Republicans were tiring of Donald J. Trump.

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A patriot waiting for his train at Old Town Depot. San Diego, CA 12oct19

Further evidence of shifting moods was the flow of career professionals and Trump appointees defying his stonewall and testifying before Congress. Unlike his successful dodge of the Mueller probe, the reporting and testimony all seem to point to Trump being at the center of demanding help from a foreign government, and withholding Congressionally-approved funds as a hammer. At week’s end, in a congressional hearing on Hurricane Maria, it became clear it had done the same to Puerto Rico, withholding aid approved by Congress at his whim.

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Old Town Depot. San Diego, CA 12oct19

Trump has also shown his utter ineptitude on foreign policy, and the consequences of his withdrawal of troops from Syria resulted in calamity one week later. By week’s end, diplomats were questioning if the U.S. could be held responsible for Crimes Against Humanity for ethnic cleansing, due to Trump’s callousness and indifference, at times seeming to encourage Turkish brutality.

As noted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “All roads lead to Putin” — Trump has handed Russia two huge victories by hobbling support to Ukraine and leaving a vacuum which Moscow quickly occupied in Syria. Hillary Clinton posited Trump being compromised by Russia, and Admiral Michael McRaven said in an op-ed, “Our Republic is Under Attack from the President.” Again, we seem to be teetering on the end of Trump or the end of American democracy.

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Wynwood, Florida 17oct19 – photo by Pascal Doytier
  1. WAPO reported Trump has made 13,435 false or misleading claims heading into his first 1,000 days in office. Nearly 20% of his lies come from his prolific tweeting. Fewer than 3 in 10 believe his most common lies.
  2. Trump has averaged 22 lies per day over the last 65 days. When Trump crossed 10,000 lies in April, he was averaging 14 lies per day. The most common subjects are trade, the economy, and the Russia investigation.
  3. On Wednesday, an analysis by ProPublica and Columbia Journalism Investigations found halfway through Trump’s first term, his regime has hired 281 lobbyists, one in every 14 hired. Watchdog groups called it a “staggering” number.
  4. On Friday, a Brookings Institute analysis found turnover in the Trump regime at 80% of “A-Team” members of the executive office. Additionally, the tenth Senate-confirmed cabinet member resigned this week.
  5. On Thursday, Russian news agency TASS reported Russia and the U.S. are gradually resuming cooperation on cyber security. It was unclear what this meant, and no U.S. media reported on it.
  6. On Tuesday, the family of British teenager Harry Dunn, who was killed in a crash involving a U.S. diplomat’s wife, was surprised when Trump invited them to the White House, then said the suspect was in the next room.
  7. The shocked family declined the meeting. A spokesperson for the Dunn family said Wednesday, “Reflecting on it this morning, I think Charlotte and Tim realize that the President was only doing it for himself.”
  8. On Saturday, speaking at the Values Voter Summit in D.C., Trump threatened to sue House Democrats Adam Schiff and Speaker Nancy Pelosi over impeachment, adding, “Or maybe we should just impeach them.”
  9. On Saturday, Trump had lunch with Rudy Giuliani at his golf course in Sterling, VA in a show of support, after appearing to distance himself late last Friday. Later on Fox News, Trump called him “a great gentleman.”
  10. On Saturday, Politico reported on an April 2014 photo of Trump standing shoulder to shoulder with Lev Parnas, both smiling. In Week 152 Trump said, “I don’t know those gentlemen.”
  11. On Saturday, WAPO reported Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the E.U., is expected to tell Congress this week in testimony that the no quid pro quo with Ukraine text he sent was dictated to him by Trump.
  12. A person close to Sondland said he believed at the time what Trump told him when he replied to William Taylor, acting ambassador to Ukraine, but that he had no direct knowledge if Trump was telling the truth.
  13. On Sunday, an NBC/WSJ poll found 55% are in favor of an impeachment inquiry, with 39% against. Within the GOP, 91% of Trump Republicans say there is not enough evidence, but just 58% of party Republicans agree.
  14. On Sunday, Trump continued his attacks on a Fox News newsman, tweeting, “Somebody please explain to Chris Wallace of Fox, who will never be his father (and my friend), Mike Wallace,” about his call with Ukraine.
  15. Trump added, “It was only Schiff’s made up version of that conversation that was bad!” Fox News anchor Chris Wallace responded, “One of us has a daddy problem, and it’s not me.”
  16. On Sunday, a CBS News poll found 63% say Trump should cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, 37% said he should not. Republicans remain opposed (16%), Democrats for (88%) and Independents divided (47%).
  17. On Sunday, Trump warned Democrats, tweeting “the Democrats are going to lose a lot of House Seatsbecause of their Fraudulent use of Impeachment,” adding, “Senate Seats will also be put at risk.”
  18. On Sunday, NYT reported Trump plan to bring on former Rep. Trey Gowdy failed after discovering due to lobbying rules disclosed by Gowdy 30 minutes after the statement about his joining the team had gone public.
  19. On Sunday, NYT reported a violent video of the likeness of Trump shooting, stabbing, and assaulting the news media and his political opponents was played at a conference at Trump National Doral Miami.
  20. The conference was hosted by pro-Trump group, American Priority, and speakers included Donald Jr., Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis. Sanders and Donald Jr. claimed they did not see the video.
  21. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted Monday that Trump had not seen the video. Trump was not involved in creating the video, but refused to comment on or condemn it on Twitter or in public.
  22. On Saturday, a 28 year-old black woman, Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, was killed in a bedroom in her apartment in Fort Worth, Texas by a police officer, after her neighbor called for a wellness check on her.
  23. On Monday, Aaron York, the police officer, was arrested, hours after he resigned. York shot Jefferson at 2:25 a.m. while she was babysitting her nephew. A SWAT-type presence responded to the wellness check call.
  24. On Saturday, in White Plains, a suburb of New York City, a man wearing a baseball cap with a swastika drawn on top walked into a diner at lunchtime. Police were called and he was escorted out.
  25. On Monday, the home page of the State Department website showed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo giving a speech to the American Association of Christian Counselors, headlined: “Being a Christian Leader.”
  26. Attorney General William Barr gave a speech at University of Notre Dame, where he blamed “secularists” and “so-called progressives” for destroying society and precipitating the crises of family dissolution, crime, and drugs.
  27. On Thursday, NBC News reported Brittany Spencer, a waitress in Wisconsin, was fired for refusing to serve customers making transphobic comments about a transgender person seated at the bar.
  28. The restaurant, Fat Joe’s Bar and Grill, disabled their Facebook page. Spencer said she is looking for a new job, and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  29. On Thursday, at a Justice Department ceremony, Matthew Shepard’s parents rebuked Barr and the Trump regime for siding with employers, saying they can legally discriminate against gay and transgender workers.
  30. On Thursday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a complaint that Madinah Brown was barred from wearing a hijab to her job at a Delaware agency, the New Castle County Detention Center.
  31. On Sunday, Hunter Biden said in a statement he is stepping down from the board of Chinese firm BHR, and will not engage in any foreign work if Joe Biden wins 2020. Biden has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
  32. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “Wow! Hunter Biden is being forced to leave a Chinese Company,” adding, “Now watch the Fake News wrap their greasy and very protective arms around him.”
  33. On Monday, Trump demanded the whistleblower testify and be identified, tweeting, “Adam Schiff now doesn’t seem to want the Whistleblower to testify. NO!” adding, “he got my Ukraine conversation sooo wrong.”
  34. Trump added, “We must determine the Whistleblower’s identity to determine WHY this was done to the USA,” and calling it “A total Impeachment Scam!
  35. On Monday, WAPO reported amid Trump’s attacks on Chair Schiff, including accusations of treason, Schiff has faced escalating threats of violence from Trump’s fans such as “SHIFTY SHIFF NEEDS TO BE HUNG.”
  36. On Monday, Trump again attacked the Fox poll from Week 152, tweeting, “the Fox Impeachment poll has turned out to be incorrect” based on a questionable analysis in the Murdoch-owned New York Post published on Friday.
  37. Trump attacked the NYT for mentioning the poll, tweeting, “the Corrupt New York Times used this poll” despite the New York Post analysis, “Fox News Pollster Braun Research Misrepresented Impeachment Poll.”
  38. On Tuesday, a new poll by conservative pollster Scott Rasmussen found 50% favor impeachment and removal of Trump, 38% disapprove. Net support for impeach and remove is up 16 points since early September.
  39. On Tuesday, a new poll by Axios found 76% of college students support an impeachment inquiry, including 76% of Independents. Support for an impeachment inquiry was 52% in May.
  40. On Monday, Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Russia adviser, testified before the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Financial Services committees behind closed doors for close to 10 hours.
  41. In a letter, the White House tried to limit her testimony, citing executive privilege. Hill’s attorney responded Sunday saying in part, executive privilege disappears when there is possible government misconduct.
  42. Rep. Matt Gaetz pulled a stunt, trying to attend though not a member of the committees hosting. After the parliamentarian ruled he had to leave, he called it “further evidence that Adam Schiff’s clown show” continues.
  43. Hill said Giuliani ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented U.S. officials and career diplomats, in order to personally benefit Trump. Hill also said she was infuriated with Marie Yovanovitch’s removal.
  44. Hill also said she confronted Sondland about Giuliani’s activities. Giuliani told the Post, “I don’t know Fiona and can’t figure out what she is talking about.” Chair Schiff said transcripts of the deposition will be made public.
  45. NYT reported Hill testified former national security adviser John Bolton got into a tense exchange with Sondland on July 10 about efforts to press Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political opponents.
  46. Bolton told her to notify the chief lawyer for the National Security Council about the rogue effort by Sondland, Giuliani, and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. He referred to Giuliani as “a hand grenade.”
  47. Hill also said Bolton told her to inform White House lawyers, “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up.” Bolton had frequently expressed concerns about Giuliani’s activities.
  48. Hill testified when she confronted Sondland, whose portfolio included the E.U., he told her he was in charge. She compared it to Alexander Haig Jr.’s declaration he was in charge after the assassination attempt on Reagan.
  49. Hill testified that Sondland was viewed as a potential national security risk because he was a donor and hotelier, but unprepared for his job. Hill said she raised concerns with intelligence officials inside the White House.
  50. On Wednesday, NYT reported European officials were struck by Sondland’s self-confidence, bordering on arrogance. An official said at a dinner party, Sondland said his job was “to destroy the European Union.’’
  51. During Hill’s closed door testimony, Trump tweeted a clip of Mark Levin on Fox News saying, “This is a Democrat Party Impeachment” not a “FULL HOUSE,” and calling it “a silent COUP effort.”
  52. On Monday, WSJ reported federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are examining Giuliani’s business dealings with Ukraine. Witnesses have been questioned since at least August.
  53. The SDNY is examining Giuliani’s finances, meetings, and work for Vitali Klitschko, a mayor in Kharkiv. Giuliani tried to do a deal with Klitschko in 2014 to restore order in the city, but the fee of $300,000 was too high.
  54. In May 2017, Giuliani Security & Safety inked a contract with the city administration of Kharkiv. Pavel Fuks, a Kharkiv native who had made a fortune in Russian real estate, paid the contract.
  55. On Monday, Giuliani told Reuters he was paid $500,000 by Lev Parnas’ company, Boca Raton-based Fraud Guarantee, in August 2018 as a technologies consultant and legal advisor on regulatory issues.
  56. According to the SDNY indictment unsealed in Week 152, an unidentified Russian businessman arranged for two $500,000 wires in September and October 2018 to bank accounts controlled by Igor Fruman.
  57. On Tuesday, Giuliani told the Post the $500,000 from Fraud Guarantee was legitimate and originated in the U.S., saying, “I will prove beyond any doubt it came from the United States of America.”
  58. On Tuesday, the Detroit News reveals photos of Parnas and Fruman at Florida Gov. DeSantis’ election night party. DeSantis returned $50,000 in donations from entities controlled by the two last week.
  59. On Tuesday, former Rep. Pete Sessions was subpoenaed by a SDNY grand jury about his interactions with Giuliani and associates. An attorney for Sessions said he is not a target, and is cooperating.
  60. The subpoena sought documents on Giuliani’s business dealings with Ukraine and his role in Yovanovitch’s ouster, as well as on his interactions with Giuliani and the four men who were indicted in Week 152.
  61. On Wednesday, David Correia, the fourth man in the SDNY probe of Giuliani associates who tried to bribe Nevada officials on behalf of a Russian businessman, was arrested after getting off a flight at JFK Airport.
  62. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Giuliani privately pressed Trump to extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen to Turkey, a top priority for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Giuliani pushed the issue so often, one official described it as his “hobby horse.”
  63. It is unclear why Giuliani was pushing the cause. In Week 152 he also pressed former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Giuliani was not registered as a foreign lobbyist, which would be required if he were paid.
  64. On Tuesday, the SDNY announced it had charged Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank, in a 6-count indictment for “fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses” relating to helping Iran evade U.S. sanction.
  65. Reza Zarrab, a client of Giuliani, testified that he helped orchestrate the deals with Iran, including bribing Turkey’s finance minister, and alleged, “Erdogan knew of and supported the laundering effort on behalf of Iran.”
  66. On Wednesday, USA Today reported that the federal investigation of Giuliani includes a counterintelligence probe, indicating prosecutors in the SDNY are looking at a broader set of issues.
  67. Kenneth McCallion, who has represented several Ukrainian clients, said FBI counterintelligence agents interviewed him in February or March, and asked about Giuliani’s business dealings with Parnas and Fruman.
  68. On Tuesday, Giuliani refused to comply with a Congressional subpoena to turn over documents about his efforts with Ukraine, calling the impeachment inquiry “unconstitutional, baseless, and illegitimate.”
  69. Giuliani also parted ways with John Sale, whom he hired to represent him in the inquiry, and wrote the letter to Congress, tweeting Sale represented him for this matter only, adding, “At this time, I do not need a lawyer.”
  70. Pence also refused to comply with the House request to turn over documents, saying the “self-proclaimed impeachment inquiry…calls into question your commitment to fundamental fairness and due process rights.”
  71. The Defense Department and Office of Management and Budget also refused to comply with Congressional subpoenas to turn over documents. All claimed the inquiry was illegitimate without a full House vote.
  72. On Tuesday, after meeting with House Democrats, Speaker Pelosi told reporters at a news conference on the impeachment inquiry that “All roads seem to lead to Putin with the president.”
  73. Pelosi also said the full House would not be voting on the impeachment inquiry “at this time,” despite pressure from Trump and Republicans to do so, saying “We’re not here to call bluffs. We’re here to find the truth.”
  74. On Tuesday, NYT reported the White House has opened an internal review of the Ukraine call, which some fear is a hunt for a scapegoat. The review threatened Trump’s narrative that the call was “perfect.”
  75. It was not clear who sought the review, but Mulvaney encouraged it and his aides are helping White House counsel Pat Cipollone conduct it. The review could also center on how deputy White House counsel John Eisenberg handled the transcript.
  76. On Tuesday, NYT reported Kostiantyn Kulyk, the Ukrainian prosecutor behind a dossier on Hunter Biden, has been indicted on corruption and has ties to a Ukrainian warlord accused of working for Russian intelligence.
  77. On the July 25 call, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Trump the prosecutor “will look into the situation” on Hunter Biden. It was unclear if Kulyk, who remains a department head in the prosecutor general’s office, is still on this case.
  78. On Tuesday, TIME reported Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, who has has spent the last five years in Vienna fighting extradition to the U.S., provided dirt to Trump associates on Robert Mueller and Joe Biden.
  79. On Wednesday, NBC News reported Parnas and Fruman were advocating on behalf of Firtash when they pitched a natural gas deal, and Firtash produced a document that Giuliani used to attack Joe Biden.
  80. The DOJ has yet to respond to a query by GOP Sen. Roger Wicker on why Firtash has yet to be extradited from Austria. Giuliani claimed said he has “nothing to do with Firtash,” and never spoke to Trump about his case.
  81. On Wednesday, ProPublica reported Trump’s businesses used two different sets of figures for two properties, to make them appear more profitable to a lender and less profitable to officials who set the buildings’ property tax.
  82. Documents for 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower were the two of the four properties obtained under the FOIA. One real estate professional said the discrepancies are “versions of fraud.”
  83. On Sunday, NPR reported all U.S. forces involved in fighting ISIS were prepared to evacuate from Syria, after troops were endangered by Turkey’s incursion. Turkey’s rapid military invasion put U.S. troops in danger.
  84. Trump came under considerable criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. Former NSA Susan Rice called it “nothing short of a self-inflicted catastrophe,” adding ISIS will “rejuvenate and reconstitute itself.”
  85. On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “Very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change,” adding, “Those that mistakenly got us into the Middle East Wars are still pushing to fight.”
  86. Trump also tweeted, “The Kurds and Turkey have been fighting for many years. Turkey considers the PKK the worst terrorists of all,” and, “Others may want to come in and fight…Let them!” adding, “Endless Wars.”
  87. On Sunday, when asked on “This Week” why there was a delay in imposing sanctions on Turkey, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin responded that “it is a complicated, developing situation involving a NATO ally.”
  88. On Sunday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper defended the withdrawal of troops on “Fox News Sunday,” saying their presence would not stop Turkey’s advance and, “I’m not one to … classify them as a tripwire.”
  89. Esper also told “Face the Nation” that Trump ordered 1,000 troop to be withdrawn, a larger withdrawal than initially indicated, amid reports Turkey was expanding its offensive.
  90. On Sunday, Retired Marine Gen. John Allen told CNN, “There is blood on Trump’s hands for abandoning our Kurdish allies,” adding, “a full blown ethnic cleansing is underway by Turkish supported militias.”
  91. On Sunday, Hevrin Khalaf, the Secretary-General of the pro-Kurdish Future Syria Party, was pulled from her SUV and executed by a Turkish-backed militia in Syria, along with 10 others.
  92. On Sunday, Kurdish forces, abandoned by the U.S. after five years of fighting together, announced a new deal with the government in Damascus, an enemy of the U.S. that is backed by Russia.
  93. On Monday, Trump attacked “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade who called the withdrawal a mistake, tweeting he “got it all wrong,” adding, “Europe had a chance to get their ISIS prisoners, but didn’t want the cost.”
  94. Trump also claimed without evidence the Kurds “may be releasing some” of the ISIS fighters “to get us involved,” adding, “The same people who got us into the Middle East mess are the people who most want to stay there!”
  95. On Monday, the Trump regime called on Turkey to implement an immediate cease-fire and imposed sanctions. Vice President Pence said he will lead a delegation to travel to Turkey in the “immediate future.”
  96. Pence told reporters Trump spoke to Turkish President Erdogan on Monday and communicated to him “very clearly” to “stop the invasion.” Turkey ignored Trump and continued its military aggression.
  97. Later Monday, Trump again defended himself, tweeting, “After defeating 100% of the ISIS Caliphate, I largely moved our troops out of Syria. Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land.”
  98. Trump also defended abandoning the Kurds, tweeting, “I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!” and, “I would much rather focus on our Southern Border which abuts and is part of the United States of America.”
  99. On Monday, WAPO reported a U.S. official with knowledge of military operations in Syria said it was likely Russia would move into the northern city of Manbij to take the place of U.S. troops that left.
  100. On Tuesday, Russia said that its troops were patrolling territory in northern Syria between Syrian and Turkish forces, filling a vacuum left by Trump’s withdrawal and illustrating the change of power in the area.
  101. On Tuesday, NYT reported Trump following his gut on Syria had resulted in bloody carnage, civilians displaced, the end of peace at a volatile border, and provided a victory for Russia, Iran, the Syrian government, and ISIS.
  102. Rarely has presidential decision resulted in such calamity in so short a time frame. Trump ignored months of warnings from his depleted, inexperienced foreign policy team, and had no back-up plan.
  103. Reportedly over the weekend, State and Energy Department officials quietly reviewed plans for extracting roughly 50 tactical nuclear weapons at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, about 250 miles from the Syrian border.
  104. On Tuesday, Trump told reporters, “We want to bring our soldiers back home after so many years, and they’re the greatest warriors in the world,” promised “Massive tariffs on steel,” and halted trade negotiations.
  105. On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Erdogan to visit Russia “in the coming days,” and Erdogan accepted. Kurdish troops looked to Damascus and Moscow to help stop the Turkish onslaught.
  106. On Wednesday, Erdogan told Sky News he would not meet with Pence and his delegation, saying, “I’m not going to talk to them. They will be talking to their counterparts. When Trump comes here, I’ll be talking.”
  107. Erdogan’s communications director later clarified that he would not meet with the U.S. delegation Wednesday, but would meet with Pence and Pompeo Thursday. It was unclear what Erdogan meant in his comments.
  108. On Wednesday, in the Oval Office before Pence and Pompeo left for Turkey to try to negotiate a ceasefire, Trump told reporters his handling has been “strategically brilliant,” adding, “It’s not our problem.”
  109. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell briefed Senate Republicans over lunch to be ready for an impeachment trial of Trump — the third in U.S. history — as soon as Thanksgiving.
  110. Later Wednesday, in a news conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, Trump said the ongoing conflict was between Turkey and Syria, not the U.S., saying, “They’ve been warring for many years.”
  111. Trump said of the Kurds, “They’re no angels. They’re no angels. Go back and take a look,” but adding the Kurds would be fine because they “know how to fight,” and, “Let them fight their own wars.”
  112. Trump assessed the region saying, “There’s a lot of sand they can play with,” and, “It’s possibly never going to be very stable,” and said the PKK was respected by ISIS “because they’re as tough, or tougher than ISIS.”
  113. Trump also confirmed NYT reporting on the existence of roughly 50 nuclear weapons in Turkey, the first U.S. official to do so, saying, “We’re confident, and we have a great — a great air base there.”
  114. While defending his pullout from Syria, Trump praised his decision to send more troops and equipment to Saudi Arabia, saying the U.S. is sending missiles and “great power,” and “they’re paying for that.”
  115. On Wednesday, WSJ reported the Pentagon carried out an airstrike to destroy an ammunition-storage facility at a U.S. base in Syria that housed the headquarters of anti-ISIS efforts, so it would not get into enemy hands.
  116. Brett McGurk, the former Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, tweeted the strike was part of a “break glass” procedure “reserved for an extreme worst-case scenario.”
  117. On Wednesday, Fox Business reported on an unconventional letter Trump sent to Erdogan on October 9, three days after the two spoke by phone, in which he warned he could destroy Turkey’s economy.
  118. Trump suggested they “work out a good deal,” adding history “will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen,” and, “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!” The letter closed out: “I will call you later.”
  119. Trump told reporters of the letter, “I didn’t give them a green light,” adding, “if anybody saw the letter…I wrote a letter right after that conversation, a very powerful letter, that was never giving a green light.”
  120. Later Wednesday, the House voted 354-60 on a nonbinding resolution condemning Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. House Republicans called the withdrawal “disastrous” and a “catastrophe.”
  121. Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham said Trump will “be held accountable” for ISIS re-emerging, and Leader McConnell said he was “sorry we are where we are,” and called the U.S.-Kurd partnership “a terrific alliance.”
  122. On Wednesday, Foreign Policy reported Turkey advanced on the Kurdish-held border town of Kobani, despite Erdogan’s promise to Trump that he would not attack the symbolically important town.
  123. On Wednesday, in a meeting on Syria, the first between Trump and Congressional leaders since the impeachment inquiry, Democratic leaders walked out after Trump called Speaker Pelosi a “third-grade politician.”
  124. Trump also called former Defense Secretary James Mattis “the world’s most overrated general,” adding, “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take 2 years. I captured them in 1 month.”
  125. Speaker Pelosi told reporters Trump appeared visibly “shaken up” after House passage of a bipartisan condemnation, adding they could not continue because “he was just not relating to the reality of it.”
  126. Pelosi also said, “He just couldn’t handle it,” adding, “I think now we have to pray for his health. Because this was a very serious meltdown on the part of the president.”
  127. Pelosi told reporters she said to Trump that Russia had long sought a “foothold” in the Middle East, and Trump’s decision to pull out the troops has offered an opportunity, and told him, “All roads with you lead to Putin.”
  128. Later Wednesday, Trump tweeted Pelosi had the “meltdown” and is a “very sick person,” and that she “needs help fast! There is either something wrong with her “upstairs,” or she just plain doesn’t like our great Country.”
  129. Trump tweeted a photo from the meeting of Pelosi standing while speaking while others sit, adding, “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!” Pelosi, the only woman at the table, made the photo her Twitter cover.
  130. On Thursday, BBC reported on Trump’s letter, saying the mixture of threats and locker-room banter enraged Erdogan. His staff said he threw the letter in the trash and launched the Syrian operation in the same day.
  131. On Thursday, Syria said it would counter Turkey “by all legitimate means.” According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, dozens of civilians have been killed and 300,000 have been displaced.
  132. Shortly after, Pence met with Erdogan at the Turkish presidential palace for a private meeting with only translators. The meeting was scheduled to be a 10-minute precursor, but lasted more than one hour.
  133. On Thursday, WAPO reported ISIS is racing to capitalize on the instability, and is stepping up attacks to free prisoners and warning of more, calling weakened Kurdish forces an abandoned American ally.
  134. On Thursday, Pelosi told reporters Trump had a “meltdown” when she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pressed him for his plans in the region and to combat ISIS.
  135. She said Trump defended the withdrawal, citing his campaign promise to bring troops home. Pelosi said her question to him was, “is Saudi Arabia home?” and he responded, “well the Saudi Arabians are paying for it.”
  136. Pelosi told reporters in the now iconic photo Trump tweeted of her standing and pointing her finger at him, she questioned his loyalty to the country, asking, why do “all roads lead to Putin?
  137. On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul blocked an effort to bring the House-passed Syria resolution up for a vote. Majority Leader McConnell earlier in the day said he wanted a resolution stronger than what passed in the House.
  138. On Thursday, Turkey agreed to a five day cease-fire to allow Kurds to retreat to a safe zone. Pence claimed the agreement “ends all violence,” but Turkey’s foreign minister contradicted him, calling it a “pause.”
  139. The agreement was heralded as a victory for Turkey: Kurdish forces will disarm and clear the safe zone, Turkey is not obligated to withdraw troops, and Trump lifted sanctions. Kurds were not party to the agreement.
  140. Trump celebrated the deal, tweeting, “Great news out of Turkey,” and “Millions of lives will be saved!” adding, “There needed to be some “tough” love in order to get it done,” and, “Great for everybody. Proud of all!”
  141. Trump told reporters his unorthodox approach made a deal possible, and praised Erdogan as “very smart” and a “friend,” claiming, “Everybody agreed to things that three days ago they would have never agreed to.”
  142. Trump said Turkey “had a legitimate problem,” referring to Kurds living along the Turkish border in Syria, adding, “And they had to have it cleaned out.” Trump drew criticism for seeming to endorse ethnic cleansing.
  143. Shortly after, Sen. Mitt Romney took to the senate floor, saying, “Are we so weak and so inept diplomatically that Turkey forced the hand of the United States of America? Turkey?”
  144. Romney said the “decision to abandon” the Kurds “strikes at American honor” and “will stand as a bloodstain in the annals of American history.” And of complex situations, “Russia seems to have figured it out.”
  145. On Thursday, Admiral Michael McRaven, a former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, said in an op-ed, “Our Republic is Under Attack from the President.”
  146. McRaven cited “the assaults on our institutions,” including intelligence, the State Department, and the press, and added, “our leaders stand beside despots and strongmen, preferring their government narrative to our own.”
  147. He added, “We are the most powerful nation…because our ideals of universal freedom and equality…protectors of the less fortunate,” adding these virtues “have sustained this nation for the past 243 years.”
  148. McRaven said if “Trump doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office,” adding, “the sooner, the better,” and “The fate of our Republic depends upon it.”
  149. Later Thursday, at an annual dinner, Jim Mattis mocked Trump, saying, “I’m not just an overrated general. I’m the greatest, the world’s most overrated,” adding, “So I guess I’m the Meryl Streep of generals.”
  150. Mattis said people asked him if Trump calling him “overrated” bothered him, and he said, “Of course not. I have earned my spurs on the battlefield,” adding, “Donald Trump earned his spurs in a letter from a doctor.”
  151. On Thursday, Pew Research found 54% approve of an impeachment inquiry, 44% disapprove. A majority 58% say Trump has definitely or probably done things that are grounds for impeachment.
  152. On Friday, Erdogan told reporters that Trump’s letter to him broke “diplomatic and political courtesy,” adding, “we will not forget this lack of respect,” and “we will take the necessary steps” when the time comes.
  153. On Friday, the Times of London reported Turkey is suspected of using white phosphorus, known as chemical weapons, against Kurdish civilians in Syria. UN chemical weapons inspectors announced an investigation.
  154. On Friday, NBC News reported fighting continued on the Turkey-Syria border, despite the U.S.-led cease-fire, or pause. Kurdish forces claimed Turkish forces were not slowing down their assault.
  155. Later Friday, Trump tweeted that he spoke to Erdogan, saying, “he told me there was minor sniper and mortar fire that was quickly eliminated,” adding, “He very much wants the ceasefire, or pause, to work.”
  156. Trump added the Kurds want “the ultimate solution” to happen — again invoking terminology of genocide — adding, “it was always held together with very weak bandaids, & in an artificial manner.”
  157. Trump quoted an Erdogan tweet, saying, “many more lives will be saved when we defeat terrorism, which is humanity’s arch enemy,” and added, “DEFEAT TERRORISM!” — seeming to again endorse ethnic cleansing.
  158. Later Friday, Trump told reporters the situation is “fragile,” and saying of critics of his decisions in the region, “these are the same people that have been failing for the last 20 years,” who “didn’t know what they were doing.”
  159. On Friday, Speaker McConnell said in an op-ed “Withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria is a grave strategic mistake,” but did not mention Trump by name.
  160. On Saturday, BBC reported Kurdish and Turkish forces accused the other of violating the pause. Erdogan said if Kurds do not withdraw by Tuesday, “we will start where we left off and continue to crush the terrorists’ heads.”
  161. On Monday, Politico reported Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been hosting secretive talks and off-the-record dinners with conservative journalists and commentators to discuss free speech and partnerships.
  162. Zuckerberg has met with Tucker Carlson, Sen. Graham and others. Reportedly, he is concerned Attorney General Barr will take action to break up the company, and is looking to appease the Trump regime.
  163. On Thursday, Zuckerberg made the decision to allow politicians to post political ads with misleading or false claims on Facebook, saying tech companies should not decide what is true, and it’s “something we have to live with.”
  164. On Monday, China said it wanted another round of trade talk before signing phase one of the trade deal, after Trump’s grand rollout last Friday in the Oval Office. It was unclear when the next round would take place.
  165. On Tuesday, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro repeatedly quoted economist Ron Vara in his book on China. Ron Vara does not exist, but is an anagram of his last name.
  166. On Tuesday, George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, testified for seven hours behind closed doors to the three House committees about Trump-Ukraine.
  167. The State Department directed Kent not to appear, and tried to limit his testimony. The House Intelligence Committee then issued a last-minute subpoena compelling him to appear, and he complied.
  168. Similarly, the State Department and the White House told Hill and Yovanovitch not to appear as part of its “full halt” to any cooperation. The three fit a pattern of current of former officials disregarding Trump.
  169. Kent testified he, along with others whose portfolios included Ukraine, were sidelined from all decision making relating to Ukraine after a May 23 meeting organized by Mulvaney. Kent called it “wrong.”
  170. Kent said three people declared themselves responsible for Ukraine: Sondland, Kurt Volker, and Energy Sec. Rick Perry. The three had just returned from President Zelensky’s inauguration, and urged Trump to meet him.
  171. They called themselves the “three amigos.” Perry said on Tuesday he “was involved in that [Ukraine policy] more than anybody. And I never saw or heard anything that was untoward, not by the president, not by anybody.”
  172. Kent testified Giuliani relied on former Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko for damaging information on Yovanovitch, which was also shared with John Solomon, a former columnist for the Hill.
  173. Giuliani and the Hill claimed Yovanovitch provided a “do not prosecute list” to Ukrainian officials to protect the Bidens and others. Kent testified the document was phony, noting most of the names are misspelled.
  174. Kent testified he was told to “lay low” after raising concerns about Giuliani. Kent came to lawmakers’ attention after his emails were cited in a packet provided to Congress by the Intelligence Community’s IG Michael Atkinson.
  175. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Mulvaney was a key facilitator of the campaign to pressure Ukraine, driven by a desire to please Trump. He listened to Trump and Giuliani discuss enlisting Ukraine in conspiracies.
  176. Mulvaney met frequently with Sondland, and details were kept from Bolton and others raising concerns. Mulvaney was not on the July 25 call, but his top aide Rob Blair was and briefed him.
  177. On Trump’s order, he placed $400 million of aid on hold the week before the call. The off-the-book effort with Ukraine could not have proceeded without his facilitating meetings, circumventing national security, and blocking aid.
  178. On Tuesday, Trump complained, tweeting, “Democrats are allowing no transparency at the Witch Hunt hearings,” adding, “If Republicans ever did this they would be excoriated by the Fake News.”
  179. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted a video by Project Veritas, a group that has been discredited, claiming bias against him by CNN. Trump later tweeted, “rumor has it that Jeff Zucker will be resigining [sic] momentarily?”
  180. On Friday, in a four-page letter to CNN, Zucker, and EVP David Vigilante, Trump’s attorney threatened to suethe network over their alleged pro-impeachment bias, demanding a “substantial payment.”
  181. On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit agreed to rehear the emoluments clause lawsuit relating to the Trump Hotel DC brought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District.
  182. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted support of Rep. Andy Biggs reintroducing a censure of Chair Schiff for a vote in the House, saying, “Hope all House Republicans, and honest House Democrats” will vote to “CENSURE.”
  183. Trump accused Schiff of “fabricating (making up) a totally phony conversation with the Ukraine President and U.S. President, me.” Biggs has support of leaders Kevin McCarthy, Liz Cheney, and Minority Whip Steve Scalise.
  184. On Wednesday, Schiff said in a letter to colleagues he will make interview transcripts public when they do not “jeopardize investigative equities.” He noted special counsels for Nixon and Clinton investigated privately.
  185. On Wednesday, a Gallup poll found support for impeaching AND removing Trump is up 14 net points since June: 52% say he should be impeached, 46% disagree — up from 45% for impeachment, 53% against in June.
  186. Approval for Congress rose dramatically from 18% in September to 25%, driven mostly by Democrats and some Independents. Trump’s approval dropped slightly to 39% from 40% in late September.
  187. On Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a measure into law, closing the “double jeopardy” loophole, and allowing the state of New York to pursue charges against people who have been pardoned by a president.
  188. On Wednesday, Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to Pompeo who resigned in Week 152, testified before the three House committees behind closed doors. Pompeo did not thank him for his 37 years of service.
  189. WAPO reported according to portions of his testimony, he said, “I was disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents.”
  190. He said he resigned over “the utilization of our ambassadors overseas to advance domestic political objectives” and the failure to “offer support to Foreign Service employees caught up” in the impeachment inquiry.
  191. He also cited “the unwillingness of State Department leadership to defend Yovanovitch.” He said, “I was convinced that this would also have a serious impact on Foreign Service morale and the integrity of our work overseas.”
  192. While he was testifying, Trump told reporters while seated beside Italian President Sergio Mattarella that Pelosi hands out subpoenas “like cookies,” and, “I have all these people testifying. . . . I don’t even know these people.”
  193. Trump also continued his complaint echoed by loyal Republicans about closed-door hearings, saying, “We’re not allowed to representation. We’re not allowed to lawyers. We’re not allowed to have anything.”
  194. On Wednesday, in an interview with the WSJ, Sec. Perry said he sought out Giuliani at the direction of Trump in the spring, to better understand Trump’s concerns about Ukrainian corruption.
  195. Perry said when he called Giuliani to ease a path between Trump and Zelensky, Giuliani described unsubstantiated claims about Ukraine’s alleged interference in the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton.
  196. Perry claimed that he never heard Trump, any of his appointees, Giuliani, or Ukrainian officials discuss investigating Joe and Hunter Biden, and that Trump did not make an explicit demand for a meeting with Zelensky.
  197. On Thursday, Mulvaney announced that Trump awarded the 2020 G-7 summit to his Trump Doral golf resort, marking the first time in modern history a sitting president has awarded a massive contract to himself.
  198. Mulvaney also acknowledged to reporters that Trump held up military aid to Ukraine in part over Trump’s request for the country to investigate an unfounded conspiracy about the Democratic National Committee server.
  199. Mulvaney cited three reasons for holding up the aid: corruption in Ukraine, frustration that European governments were not providing more aid to Ukraine, and Trump’s demand that Kiev investigate the DNC server.
  200. When asked by a reporter if this amounted to quid pro quo, Mulvaney said, “We do that all the time with foreign policy.” He claimed holding up aid was not related to the Bidens, despite the July 25 phone call.
  201. When pressed on foreign policy, Mulvaney told reporters, “Get over it,” adding, “There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy. That is going to happen. Elections have consequences.”
  202. Later Mulvaney added, “Did [Trump] also mention to me, in the past, the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely. No question about that. But that’s it. And that’s why we held up the money.”
  203. Shortly after, Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, told the Times that Trump’s “legal counsel was not involved in acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s press briefing.”
  204. On Thursday, Chair Schiff said, “I think Mr. Mulvaney’s acknowledgment means that things have gone from very, very bad to much, much worse.”
  205. Later Thursday, the Post Editorial Board wrote Mulvaney’s comments reveal “It was a quid pro quo. It was corrupt,” and he confessed it “in the cynical expectation…Republicans would not hold Trump accountable.”
  206. Later Thursday, Mulvaney reversed himself in a written statement, claiming, “Once again, the media has decided to misconstrue my comments to advance a biased and political witch hunt” against Trump.
  207. Mulvaney wrote, “there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation,” and Trump “never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server.”
  208. On Friday, Pelosi called Mulvaney’s statement a “confession,” and said “it’s also a cavalier attitude of get over it,” saying the Trump regime has “tried to make a lawlessness normal and even make lawlessness a virtue.”
  209. On Thursday, Sondland testified before the House committees behind closed doors for more than nine hours, saying he believed it was improper for the White House to withhold aid pending opening an investigation.
  210. Sondland said in an opening statement Trump directed him and others to work with Giuliani to push Ukraine to conduct investigations, but said he was not aware of their motives — a claim House Democrats found suspect.
  211. He said that he and other senior administration officials did not want to work with Giuliani, but that they could not ignore Trump’s directive. He said he and others later pieced together the scheme.
  212. He said in responding to Bill Taylor’s text,“I asked the president: ‘What do you want from Ukraine?’ The president responded, ‘Nothing. There is no quid pro quo.’ The president repeated: ‘no quid pro quo’ multiple times.”
  213. On Thursday, in the House Judiciary Committee’s effort to obtain grand jury materials in the Mueller probe, Judge Beryl Howell ruled the DOJ improperly redacted a court filing.
  214. The judge said the DOJ redacted two names who figure prominently in the probe, invoking grand jury secrecy protections even though they did not testify before a grand jury, and ordered the DOJ to reveal their names.
  215. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported in what may be an off-shoot of the Mueller probe, U.S. federal authorities are seeking records seized from Terra Services, a U.K. company associated with Oleg Deripaska.
  216. On Thursday, AP reported a farming business owned by billionaire West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice received $125,000 in soybean farm aid, the maximum amount. The median amount in Trump’s program is $6,438.
  217. On Thursday, Rick Perry resigned as Energy Secretary. Perry oversaw a 25% expansion of the department’s budget in his two years. Trump said as he arrived in Texas that Perry would leave at the end of the year.
  218. Perry said he was resigning to spend more time with his family. He said he and Energy Department lawyers would not comply with a Friday deadline in a congressional subpoena for documents related to his work in Ukraine.
  219. On Thursday, at a campaign rally in Dallas, Trump said he was smart to let Turkey attack the Kurds, comparing them to “two kids in a lot,” saying, “sometimes you have to let them fight,” and “then you pull them apart.”
  220. Previously, Trump had denied he had given the green light to Erdogan to attack the Kurds, but changed his story at the rally, saying, “Without a little tough love, they would never have made this deal.”
  221. Trump accused the “radical Democrats” of “trying to overthrow the results of a great, great election — maybe, maybe the greatest election,” in order to “impose their extreme agenda,” saying they do not love our country.
  222. Trump also attacked Pelosi, calling her “Crazy Nancy,” and saying, “She is Crazy,” as well as the whistleblower, saying, “Who’s the whistle-blower? Who is the whistle-blower? Is the whistle-blower a spy?”
  223. On Thursday, Hillary Clinton said in an interview that Putin has kompromat on Trump, and that Russia is grooming a third-party candidate in the Democratic field to upset the race in 2020.
  224. On Friday, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham emailed press on the 2020 G7 summit, saying, “Everything will be done at cost due to the emoluments clause,” but did not give details to answer what that meant.
  225. On Thursday, outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan announced the regime would reinstate aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, after Trump had abruptly cut off aid due to an influx of migrants.
  226. On Friday, at congressional hearings, two top officials in Housing and Urban Development, Irv Dennis and David Woll, admitted they knowingly failed to “comply with the law,” stalling Puerto Rico hurricane relief funds.
  227. Dennis and Woll, in defending the delays, echoed talking points of Trump and HUD Sec. Ben Carson, citing “alleged corruption” and “fiscal irregularities,” as well as “Puerto Rico’s capacity to manage these funds.”
  228. Two years after Maria hit Puerto Rico, the island has received just a third of the $43 billion Congress allocated toward hurricane recovery. Wolf claimed deadlines were missed because HUD was waiting on audits.
  229. On Friday, WAPO reported George Kent said in his testimony he warned in 2015 Hunter Biden’s position at Burisma could raise conflicts of interest, but was rebuffed, in part as Joe was overwhelmed with his other son Beau battling cancer.
  230. On Friday, WAPO reported after two weeks of closed-door testimony, Trump has emerged as the center of orchestrating efforts to pressure Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political opponents.
  231. Despite Trump White House efforts, a growing number of officials are coming forward with damaging evidence of potential violations of law, including prohibitions on accepting campaign help from a foreign entity.
  232. Testimony has also revealed that although Giuliani took actions outside normal channels and without being a government official and going through normal protocols for those positions, he did so at Trump’s behest.
  233. On Friday, Politico reported according to House Democrats, Republicans are trying to paint Giuliani as a rogue, one-man mission who took actions not sanctioned by Trump.
  234. On Friday, former GOP Gov. John Kasich told CNN Trump deserves to be impeached, calling withholding aid from Ukraine “totally inappropriate” and “an abuse of power,” and adding, “I say it with great sadness.”
  235. On Friday, Rep. Francis Rooney said on CNN of Trump regime’s digging into unproven allegations from linking Ukraine to a DNC server, “What, are we trying to exculpate Russia?
  236. On Friday, Rep. Scalise and Rep. Tom Cole introduced a resolution to change the rules of impeachment, and allow members not on the overseeing committees to have access to proceedings, depositions, and transcripts.
  237. On Friday, Trump attacked Sen. Romney, tweeting a video accusing him of being “exposed by news reports as a Democrat secret asset,” and adding, “REPUBLICANS MUST STICK TOGETHER AND FIGHT!”
  238. On Friday, speaking to Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, the first all-woman spacewalk, Trump incorrectly said this was “the first time for a woman outside of the space station.” The first woman walked in space in 1984.
  239. On Friday, a multiyear State Department probe of Hillary Clinton’s handling of emails with secretary of state concluded, finding no deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employees.
  240. The State Department review examined emails that were up to 9 years-old. The report found 38 employees violated security procedures, but none involved material marked classified, in its review of 33,000 emails.
  241. On Friday, WAPO reported a growing number of Republican lawmakers are exasperated with Trump’s indefensible behavior, including hosting the G7 at his property, the Syria withdrawal, and Ukraine.
  242. Heading into a likely impeachment vote, fewer Republicans are willing to publicly defend Trump’s actions, and as Americans’ sentiment shifts, at least one, Rep. Francis Rooney, is considering voting for impeachment.
  243. On Friday, CNN reported Giuliani pressed the State Department and White House to grant a visa to Viktor Shokin, a Ukrainian prosecutor general fired in 2016 after pressure from the West, Joe Biden, the IMF, and EU.
  244. In House testimony, Kent said Giuliani made the request in January. Giuliani previously told CNN Shokin had promised dirt on Democrats. The visa was rejected by “the political leadership” of the State Department.
  245. On Friday, NYT reported that despite congressional and SDNY scrutiny, Giuliani is continuing to represent clients, and use his access to Trump and his regime to broker deals and take on consulting contracts.
  246. A few weeks ago Giuliani secured a meeting with the head of the DOJ’s criminal division and attorneys in the fraud section to discuss a foreign bribery case involving one of his clients.
  247. Impeachment investigators have subpoenaed records related to Giuliani’s involvement with 45 Energy Group, which was paid $425,000 by a foreign company seeking American support for a methane project in Uzbekistan.
  248. On Friday, a USA Today/Ipsos poll found 54% of Americans believe removing troops from Syria is damaging the U.S. reputation as a trusted ally, and 61% believe we have an obligation to protect the Kurds.
  249. Later Friday, during an appearance on “Real Time,” Trump tweeted that Susan Rice “was a disaster to President Obama as National Security Advisor” and “is now telling us her opinion on what to do in Syria.”
  250. Rice responded, “then why did you come up and hug me…when I’d never met you (which was totally gross),” and say “I had been “very unfairly treated” over Benghazi” and “was doing a great job for the country?”
  251. On Saturday, NYT reported that federal prosecutors, led by John Durham and closely overseen by Barr, have already interviewed about two dozen current and former FBI officials, indicating the investigation is far along.
  252. Durham’s team has also sought help from governments to prove right-wing attacks and conspiracy theories about origins of the Russia investigation, raising concerns that he is looking to deliver Trump a political victory.
  253. Mulvaney mentioned on Thursday that Durham’s team has sought help from Ukraine. Durham has yet to interview former FBI officials who played key roles including Peter Strzok, James Comey, and Andrew McCabe.
  254. The investigations of the investigators, including DOJ IG Michael Horowitz’s work, has grown to include 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, and 500 witness interviews.
  255. On Saturday, Rep. Francis Rooney announced he would retire in 2020. Rooney said Friday on possible support for impeachment, “I’ll be looking at my children a lot longer than I’m looking to anybody in this building.”
  256. On Saturday, NBC News reporter Richard Engel tweeted diplomats in DC are alarmed that the U.S. could “be held responsible for Crimes Against Humanity for ethnic cleansing” for knowing and failing to stop it.
  257. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “Such a disgrace that the Do Nothing Democrats are doing just as their name suggests, Doing Nothing! USMCA anyone?” and separately tweeted, “#StopTheCoup.”
  258. The tweets were two of 31 tweets and retweets sent by Trump before noon on Saturday. Trump skipped golfing to remain in the White House amid the pending crisis.

REST IN POWER ELIJAH CUMMINGS.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addresses President Donald Trump during a meeting with congressional leaders on Syria in the Cabinet Room at the White House, Oct. 16, 2019 (credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 131: A CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS

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“This week was also notable for the hostility towards women and women’s rights in several states, with new pieces of legislation with overtly misogynistic tones enacted or threatened…” San Jose, Cosa Rica. April 2019

Week 130: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

May 11, 2019

This week marked a subtle shift in House Democrats’ position on impeachment, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her committee chairs cited a “constitutional crisis,” and argued Trump was “goading” them and giving them no choice with his continued stonewalling. The House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, and threatened the same for former White House counsel Don McGahn. Trump said he would block special counsel Robert Mueller from testifying, and later in the week backed off. Notably, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee served the first subpoena on a member of Trump’s family, Donald Trump Jr.

There was more reporting on Trump’s irreverence around norms and laws, including his attempts to have McGahn publicly state he did not believe Trump obstructed justice, and dispatching personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to spur investigations likely to help his re-election.

This week was also notable for the hostility towards women and women’s rights in several states, with new pieces of legislation with overtly misogynistic tones enacted or threatened, reminiscent of decades ago. By week’s end, actress Alyssa Milano called for women to protest Georgia’s heartbeat fill through a sex strike. The continued divisions in our country under Trump were also apparent when the World Series Champion Red Sox visited the White House: all the white players attended, while the coach and all but one of the black and Latino players skipped the visit.

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  1. On Sunday, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found 60% of Americans believe Trump has been dishonest in the Russia investigation, while 37% believe he has been honest, including 75% of Republicans.
  2. On impeachment, 48% are against it, while 49% believe Congress should hold impeachment hearings. Of those for impeachment hearings, 17% say now and 32% say if there is enough evidence in the future.
  3. In an interview with Rolling Stone, civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis said, “I hate to say it, but I think we’re in deep trouble,” adding, “I have never been like this, even during the height of the civil-rights movement.”
  4. Rep. Lewis said, “Sometimes you’re afraid to go to sleep, to turn off the radio or the television or to pick up a book or a newspaper,” and during the civil-rights movement “there was a greater sense of hope and optimism.”
  5. WAPO’s Dana Milbank wrote in an op-ed that he had his White House credentials revoked, after covering four presidents over 21 years. Milbank said he was a part of a mass purge of “hard pass” holders.
  6. Milbank said seven other White House reporters for the Post similarly had their pass revoked, but were all later granted exceptions except him, adding, “I strongly suspect it’s because I’m a Trump critic.”
  7. On Sunday, Trump threatened China with higher tariffs, tweeting: “the 10% will go up to 25% on Friday,” adding, “the Trade Deal with China continues, but too slowly, as they attempt to renegotiate. No!”
  8. CNBC reported if Trump imposes the new tariffs, the U.S. would be one of the most protectionist countries in the world, with the U.S. tariff rate rising above many emerging market countries.
  9. On Sunday, after saying in Week 129 he would let the attorney general decide, Trump tweeted “Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems!” saying, “There was no crime, except on the other side.”
  10. Trump cited, “After spending more than $35,000,000 over a two year period, interviewing 500 people, using 18 Trump Hating Angry Democrats& 49 FBI Agents,” the Mueller report found “NO COLLUSION.”
  11. AP reported as a private citizen, Mueller could decide whether to testify. When Mueller’s report was given to Barr on March 22, his spokesperson said Mueller would be “concluding his service within the coming days.”
  12. On Sunday, Trump retweeted a tweet by Jerry Falwell Jr. citing “no obstruction, no collusion” and saying “Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup.”
  13. Experts noted the pattern of Trump using trial balloons on extending his term, and writing them off as jokes. In Week 129, Speaker Pelosi expressed concern Trump would not accept a loss unless it was by a wide margin.
  14. Trump later tweeted, “Despite the tremendous success…including perhaps the greatest ECONOMY,” saying, “they have stolen two years of my (our) Presidency (Collusion Delusion) that we will never be able to get back.”
  15. On Monday, Michael Cohen reported to prison for a three-year sentence, after trying for months to push off the start of his sentence by dangling new incriminating information against others.
  16. Cohen told reporters he hope the “country will be in a place without xenophobia, injustice and lies at the helm,” when he gets out, and added he had more secrets to share, saying, “There still remains much to be told.”
  17. On Tuesday, Reuters reported according to a tape Tom Arnold made of a conversation with Cohen in March, Jerry Falwell Jr. asked Cohen to help him handle racy photos that should be kept “between husband and wife.”
  18. Falwell enlisted Cohen’s help in 2015, the year Trump announced his candidacy. Cohen helped persuade Falwell to endorse Trump just before the critical Iowa caucuses in early 2016 — surprising many at the time.
  19. On Monday, NYT reported Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a contractor for Trump’s inaugural committee and former advisor to First Lady Melania Trump disputed the White House account of her departure.
  20. Winston Wolkoff said, “Was I fired? No. Did I personally receive $26 million or $1.6 million? No. Was I thrown under the bus? Yes.” Her lawyer told inaugural officials last fall she is cooperating with federal prosecutors.
  21. On Monday, Trump tweeted Democrats are calling for impeachment because they “can’t win the election fairly,” adding, “You can’t impeach a president for creating the best economy in our country’s history.”
  22. Trump also tweeted “there are “No High Crimes & Misdemeanors,” No Collusion, No Conspiracy, No Obstruction. ALL THE CRIMES ARE ON THE OTHER SIDE,” and “the tables are turning!”
  23. On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee said it will begin contempt proceedings against Attorney General William Barr after the DOJ failed to comply with a subpoena to turn over the full Mueller report by 9 a.m.
  24. Chair Jerry Nadler said his committee would vote Wednesday on holding Barr in contempt, despite DOJ efforts to negotiate. Nadler will meet with the DOJ Tuesday, after pushing back on their offer to meet Wednesday.
  25. A contempt citation would be the second in history after Republicans held President Obama’s AG Eric Holder in contempt of Congress in 2012. Democrats are discussing punitive measures like levying fines against Barr.
  26. On Monday, Politico reported Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, including ranking member Rep. Doug Collins, want Mueller to testify in front of their committee, despite Trump’s opposition.
  27. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham said he will not hold a full hearing with Mueller, but is willing to hear testimony strictly on the issue of whether Mueller disputes Barr’s characterization of his findings.
  28. On Monday, three Senate Democrats asked the DOJ inspector general and the Office of Professional Responsibility director asking them to investigate if Barr shared the names of Mueller spinoff cases with White House staff.
  29. On Monday, more than 500 former federal prosecutors signed on a statement saying Mueller’s findings would have produced obstruction charges against Trump if he were not in office.
  30. Signatories included prosecutors who worked in both Democratic and Republican administrations, and directly rebutted Barr’s determinationthat evidence was not sufficient to establish Trump committed a crime.
  31. The letter also stated such conduct “would, in the case of any other person … result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.” By Thursday, the letter had over 800 signatories.
  32. On Monday, New York Attorney General Letitia James said she sued the Trump Treasury Department and IRS for failing to respond to records requests as required by law on a change in donor disclosure requirements.
  33. James cited in July 2018 the agency eliminated disclosure requirements for tax-exempt groups for donations of more than $5,000, which impedes the AG’s ability to regulate those organizations.
  34. On Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rejected the House Ways and Means Committee’s legal request for Trump’s tax returns, saying the request from Congress does not “serve a legitimate legislative purpose.”
  35. Mnuchin said he had consulted with the DOJ, and that they had concluded it would not be lawful to turn over the tax returns because of potential violations of privacy.
  36. Neither the Treasury Department or DOJ would provide the legal opinion to reporters. Legal experts said Mnuchin’s refusal was unprecedented sincethe power for lawmakers is written explicitly in a 1924 law.
  37. On Monday, a new version of the Mueller report was released due to BuzzFeed News and watchdog group EPIC FOIA requests, detailing information withheld because of ongoing law enforcement proceedings
  38. On Monday, the Orlando Sentinel reported Sen. Marco Rubio knew about Russia hacking attempts in Florida in 2016 as early as May 2018, but claims he did not back Bill Nelson’s statement citing classified information.
  39. On Tuesday, FBI director Christopher Wray said at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing that he has no evidence the FBI illegally monitored Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election.
  40. Wray said he does not consider court-approved FBI surveillance to be “spying,” and when asked if the FBI illegally spied, responded, “I don’t think I personally have any evidence of that sort.”
  41. On Tuesday, according to a letter sent from Pat Cipollone to former White House counsel Don McGahn’s attorney, the White House instructed McGahn not to comply with a subpoena from House Democrats.
  42. In a second letter to Chair Nadler, Cipollone said, “McGahn does not have the legal right to disclose these documents to third parties,” and said requests for documents should instead come to the White House.
  43. In a letter from McGahn’s attorney to Chair Nadler, he said McGahn was instructed not to produce documents “because they implicate significant Executive Branch confidentiality interests and executive privilege.”
  44. McGahn’s attorney said, “Where co-equal branches of government are making contradictory demands…the appropriate response for Mr. McGahn is to maintain the status quo” until an accommodation is reached.
  45. On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to McGahn saying he too will be charged with contempt of Congress if he does not produce documents and show up to his public hearing on May 21.
  46. On Tuesday, CNN reported, according to newly released court records, Mueller’ team fought the public release of James Comey’s memo, for fear Trump and other witnesses would change their stories to match his.
  47. On Tuesday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor it is time to “finally end this ‘Groundhog Day’ spectacle,” saying the Trump-Russia conspiracy is “case closed.”
  48. McConnell also parroted Trump blaming Obama, saying, “Maybe stronger leadership would have left the Kremlin less emboldened. Maybe tampering with our democracy wouldn’t have seemed so very tempting.”
  49. Sen. Elizabeth Warren fired back, directly reading from the Mueller reportand saying, “If any other human being in this country had done what’s documented in the Mueller report, they’d be arrested and put in jail.”
  50. Warren also said, “We took an oath not to try and protect Donald Trump, we took an oath to protect and serve the Constitution,” adding, “the way we do that is we begin impeachment proceedings now against this president.”
  51. On Tuesday, Speaker Pelosi said in a speech that Trump is “goading” Democrats to try to impeach him, saying, “That’s what he’s doing. Every single day, he’s just like taunting, taunting, taunting.”
  52. Pelosi also said Trump “knows that it would be very divisive in the country, but he doesn’t really care,” adding, “He just wants to solidify his base.”
  53. On Tuesday, House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings threatened in a letter to withhold salaries from Trump officials at the Interior and Commerce departments who have refused to testify.
  54. Chair Cummings sent the letter to seven officials who have declined or not responded to the committee’s request for an interview on adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
  55. On Tuesday, NYT reported based on Trump’s official Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts obtained from 1985 to 1994, Trump suffered business losses of $1.17 billion over the decade.
  56. The Times found by comparing his results with other high-income earners, Trump lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer in that time, and avoided paying any taxes in eight of ten years.
  57. In contrast to his father Fred who made steady money every year, Trump’s primary source of income changed each year, and any gains were always overtaken by losses in casinos and other projects.
  58. On Wednesday, Trump responded to the NYT story and defended himself, tweeting: “Real estate developers in the 1980′s & 1990′s, more than 30 years ago, were entitled to massive write offs and depreciation.”
  59. Trump also tweeted: “You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes” claiming, “almost all real estate developers did — and often re-negotiate with banks,” calling it “sport.”
  60. Trump also called the story, based on “very old information,” “a highly inaccurate Fake News hit job!
  61. On Wednesday, “Fox & Friends” defended Trump from the Times story, saying it is all part of his “impressive” business career, with host Ainsley Earhardt adding, “It’s beyond what most of us could ever achieve.”
  62. On Sunday, Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who was born in Puerto Rico, said he will not visit the White House celebration of the team’s 2018 World Series win, citing Trump’s handling of the hurricane relief effort.
  63. On Monday, Trump tweeted a false claim he had previously stated, “Puerto Rico has been given more money by Congress for Hurricane Disaster Relief, 91 Billion Dollars, than any State in the history of the U.S.”
  64. Ahead of the visit, the White House misspelled the team’s name on its website, writing the “Boston Red Socks.” On the day of the visit, the White House mistakenly referred to the team as “World Cup Series Champions.”
  65. The Red Sox team visit was notably racially divided: every white player attended the White House visit, while all but one of the team’s black and Latino players skipped the visit.
  66. On Monday, Trump awarded golfer Tiger Woods with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in honor of his Masters victory last month, following a decade-long drought after a serial philandering scandal.
  67. Trump has been cultivating Woods as a celebrity who could add sheen to his golf courses since Woods was 21. By honoring Woods, Trump leaves the appearance of using his office to reward a business partner.
  68. On Monday, the summary of a 1,500-page report on the environment approved by U.S. and 131 other countries found humans are speeding extinction and altering the natural world at an “unprecedented” rate.
  69. On Monday, students in Phoenix protested that Thomas Torres, a high school senior who had lived in the U.S. since he was a toddler and was scheduled to graduate on May 22, faced deportation to Mexico.
  70. Torres was taken into custody after a traffic stop by sheriff’s deputies and turned over to Border Patrol who placed him in detention awaiting deportation. Torres played football and worked several part-time jobs.
  71. On Monday, TYT reported according to police reports, a militia member at the Southern border asked why we are apprehending migrants not “lining them up and shooting them” and said we should “put them all in a gas chamber.”
  72. On Wednesday, at a rally in Panama City, Florida, Trump said of the influx of migrants at the Southern border, “It’s an invasion,” adding, on letting border patrol use weapons, “We can’t. Other countries do. We can’t.”
  73. When Trump asked, “How do you stop these people?” a supporter shouted “Shoot them!” The crowd laughed. Trump grinned and shook his head, and said, “Only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement.”
  74. A new Pew Research Poll found 47% of white Republicans say it bothers them “some” or “a lot” to “hear people speak a language other than English in a public place.” For white Democrats, 18% felt the same.
  75. On Tuesday, WAPO reported the Trump regime has sent new guidelines to asylum officers, directing them to take a more skeptical and confrontational approach while interviewing asylum seekers.
  76. Asylum officers were instructed to be more aggressive, and make migrants provide detailed justifications to prove their claims of persecution before concluding they have a well-founded fear of harm if deported.
  77. On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit court ruled that the Trump regime can continue to enforce its “Remain in Mexico” policy that returns asylum seekers to Mexico while they wait for turn in immigration court.
  78. On Wednesday, immigration legal group RAICES filed a formal complaint against the Trump regime, saying ICE is blocking detained immigrants from obtaining free legal help.
  79. On Tuesday, following a shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado that afternoon, Trump tweeted 11 times after 9 p.m., but did not mention or express sympathy for the students killed or injured.
  80. On Wednesday, in the afternoon, Trump first addressed the shooting, tweeting “God be with the families and thank you to the First Responders for bravely intervening. We are in close contact with Law Enforcement.”
  81. On Tuesday, the Courier News reported a group of white supremacists interrupted a Holocaust remembrance event meant to honor survivors in Russellville, Arkansas, carrying Nazi flags and shouting racial slurs.
  82. On Wednesday, online retailer Redbubble apologized and removed items from its website after the Auschwitz Memorial condemned it on Twitter for allowing several products depicting scenes of the concentration camp.
  83. On Wednesday, the Florida Bar determined to proceed with further investigation into whether Rep. Matt Gaetz should face discipline for his tweet threatening Michael Cohen in Week 120.
  84. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted an article in conservative Breitbart News, saying “‘Forgotten Man’ Story: Under Trump,” adding, “Red Counties Economically Thrive” citing a Brookings Institute report.
  85. On Tuesday, Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant.
  86. On Tuesday, the Texas state senate passed a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks for “discriminatory abortions,” and removed exceptions for unviable pregnancies or if the fetus has “severe and irreversible” abnormalities.
  87. On Thursday, the Alabama state senate voted 23-6 on a bill to criminalize abortions, making preforming the procedure a felony punishable by up to 99 years imprisonment. The bill was then tabled after a shouting match.
  88. Alabama Senate Republicans, all of whom are men, also tried to push through a measure making abortion for underage girls who are raped punishable by 99 years imprisonment. The vote will be next week.
  89. A bill considered in the Alabama House would criminalize false rape accusations, and make the accuser pay the accused’s legal bill if the accused is found not guilty.
  90. On Wednesday, Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada faced calls to resign after a scandal involving sexually explicit and misogynistic text messages with his chief of staff, who also admitted to using cocaine.
  91. On Friday, actress Alyssa Milano called for a sex strike, tweeting: “Our reproductive rights are being erased…JOIN ME by not having sex until we get bodily autonomy back.” #SexStrike trended on Twitter.
  92. On Wednesday, Bill Larion, a Michigan city worker, was fired over an anti-Muslim Facebook post mocking model Halima Aden, saying, “Cute picture. Should be on the cover of camels are us.”
  93. On Thursday, a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the uninsured rate for ages 45-64 jumped to 10.3% in 2018 from 9.3% a year earlier — the first government study that has shown an increasing rate of uninsured Americans.
  94. The uninsured rate has been increasing since Trump took, due to his regime’s efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and add restrictions to Medicaid, after bottoming out in 2016.
  95. On Friday, the Pentagon shifted $1.5 billion in funding to support Afghan forces to build Trump’s wall, citing the need to support “higher priority items based on unforeseen military requirements.”
  96. A total of $2.5 billion of Pentagon funds have been shifted to Trump’s wall so far. Also, more than 4,000 troops and 19 aircraft are supporting Customs and Border Protection personnel at the border.
  97. On Tuesday, Politico reported economists in the Agriculture Department say the Trump regime is retaliating against them for publishing reports about how Trump’s trade tariffs are hurting farmers.
  98. Six economists quit in one day in late April over concern that Trump loyalist Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was reshaping the USDA’s research wing to bring reporting information directly under his control.
  99. On Tuesday, in a letter to Chair Nadler sent late in the evening, Barr threatened if the House committee proceeds with the contempt process, Barr will ask the White House to invoke executive privilege .
  100. On Wednesday, Speaker Pelosi said in a morning interview, “ I think that the attorney general should be held in contempt,” adding impeaching Barr is not “off the table.”
  101. Pelosi also said, “every single day, whether it’s obstruction, obstruction, obstruction — obstruction of having people come to the table with facts, ignoring subpoenas,” adding Trump is “becoming self-impeachable.”
  102. On Wednesday, in an interview with NYT, Chair Cummings said, “It sounds like he’s asking us to impeach him,” while listing all the way Trump is stonewalling, calling it “far worse than Watergate.”
  103. Cummings also said on impeachment, “he puts us in a position where we at least have to look at it,” adding the regime “threw away the guardrails.” He said he sees a “constitutional crisis” our founding fathers did not envision.
  104. On Wednesday, Trump’s cabinet meeting at the White House, which was scheduled to be open to the press, was closed to the press just prior. Typically coverage is allowed.
  105. On Wednesday, as the House Judiciary Committee adjourned to begin contempt proceedings, the White House asserted executive privilege over the Mueller report, Trump’s first use of executive authority.
  106. On Wednesday, after six hours of debate, the House Judiciary Committee voted 24-16, along party lines, to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for not turning over the full Mueller report.
  107. At a press conference after, Chair Nadler said “there can be no higher stakes than this attempt to arrogate all power to the executive branch,” adding, “We are now in a constitutional crisis.”
  108. Nadler added, “Our fight is not just about the Mueller report…Our fight is about defending the rights of Congress, as an independent branch, to hold the president, any president, accountable.”
  109. Nadler told reporters Democrats plan to go to court, saying Trump’s claim of executive privilege is nonsense since much of the report has either been released publicly or shared with lawyers.
  110. On Wednesday, the House Intelligence Committee sent a subpoena to the DOJ for the full Mueller report and underlying evidence, as well as any counterintelligence and foreign intelligence materials.
  111. On Friday, Politico reported the House Intelligence Committee showed a rare instance of bipartisanship, with Republicans praising Chair Adam Schiff for his efforts to obtain the full Mueller report and related documents.
  112. On Wednesday, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary sent a letter to Chair Graham saying the committee would “benefit greatly” from having Mueller testify, requesting a broad hearing not limited in scope.
  113. On Wednesday, the New York state senate passed a bill 39-21 allowing the state Department of Taxation and Finance to release state tax returnsrequested by the leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee.
  114. The bill would apply to Trump’s New York state tax returns, and the state is also home for headquarters of his businesses. New York’s assembly and governorship are also under Democratic control, so sign-off is expected.
  115. The state Senate also passed a bill which would eliminate the “double jeopardy loophole,” which prevents New York prosecutors from bringing similar charges against someone who has been pardoned from Trump.
  116. On Wednesday at his rally in Panama City Beach, Florida, Trump also said “After two years, nothing — no collusion,” adding, “Democrats are saying, ‘We want more,’” and, “It’s time to stop this nonsense.”
  117. Trump said about the media, “In six years, they’re all going to be out of business, folks,” adding, “If we want to drive them crazy, I’ll say in 10 years. They’ll go crazy. ‘See, he is a despot. He is a despot.’”
  118. Trump also repeated his false claim that Puerto Rico was getting $91 billion in disaster aid after Hurricane Maria, despite being ungrateful to him, saying, “You’re getting your money, one way or the other.”
  119. On Wednesday, Trump derailed a bipartisan House bill opposed by ally Matthew Schlapp, tweeting: “Republicans shouldn’t vote for H.R. 312, a special interest casino Bill, backed by Elizabeth (Pocahontas) Warren.”
  120. The bill to open casinos in Massachusetts was opposed by lobbyist Schlapp who represents casinos in neighboring Rhode Island, and whose wifeMercedes is the White House strategic communications director.
  121. On Thursday, Trump tweeted GOP lawmakers “should not vote for the BAD DEMOCRAT” aid package for Puerto Rico, then just before midnight tweeted, “Republicans must stick together!”
  122. On Friday, the House passed a disaster relief package 257-150, with 34 Republicans voting in support, for $19 billion in rebuilding assistance to communities hit by hurricanes, extreme flooding, tornadoes, and wildfires.
  123. On Wednesday, for the third time, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell broke precedent, confirming a judge on the Second Circuit, based in New York, without allowing “blue slips” from New York’s senators.
  124. On Wednesday, Axios reported the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Donald Jr. to answer questions about his previoustestimony before Senate investigators on the Russia investigation.
  125. This marks the first subpoena of one of Trump’s children. Donald Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017 he was “peripherally aware” of the Trump Tower Moscow project, which was refuted by Cohen.
  126. On Thursday, Republicans attacked Chair Richard Burr. Sen. Rand Paul tweeted, “Apparently the Republican chair of the Senate Intel Committee didn’t get the memo from the Majority Leader that this case was closed.”
  127. White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said in an interview, “To subpoena the president’s son and not at least get a heads-up is, let’s say, bad form,” adding Trump and his son are “two different people.”
  128. Burr’s fellow North Carolina senator, Thom Tillis, tweeted, “I agree with Leader McConnell: this case is closed,” after Donald Jr.’s friend Charlie Kirk made a threat to support Tillis’ 2020 primary opponent.
  129. WSJ reported before Majority Leader McConnell’s “case closed” speech, he privately conveyed his displeasure to Burr about the subpoena; although his spokesperson was careful to add McConnell did not direct Burr.
  130. On Thursday, Trump told reporters of the subpoena, “I was very surprised,” adding, “My son’s a very good person. Works very hard.” Trump declined to publicly say if Donald Jr. should fight the subpoena.
  131. On Thursday, Reuters reported that Donald Jr. likely would not comply with the subpoena by invoking his Fifth Amendment rights to avoid self-incrimination.
  132. On Thursday, at her weekly news conference, Speaker Pelosi said she agreed with Nadler the country is in a “constitutional crisis,” citing the regime “has decided that they are not going to honor their oath of office.”
  133. Pelosi said on timing of a full House vote to hold Barr in contempt, “we’ll just see because there may be some other contempt of Congress issues that we might want to deal with at the same time,” referencing McGahn.
  134. On Thursday, Trump backed off from his statement earlier in the week that Mueller should not testify, telling reporters, “I’m going to leave that up to our very great attorney general, and he’ll make a decision on that.”
  135. When reminded by a reporter that Barr has no objections, Trump added, “to me, it looks like a redo,” and changed his statement on obstruction, saying, “no collusion and essentially no obstruction.”
  136. On Thursday, on a CNN Town Hall, former FBI director James Comey said it “sure looks like” Trump would be charged with obstruction of justice and prosecuted if he were not in office, adding “there’s 10 different episodes.”
  137. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “James Comey is a disgrace to the FBI & will go down as the worst Director in its long and once proud history,” adding, “almost all Republicans & Democrats thought he should be FIRED.”
  138. On Thursday, the judge overseeing the case involving Trump’s lawsuit to fight the House Oversight subpoena to Mazars USA for financial records, put the case on a fast-track with a hearing scheduled for May 14.
  139. On Thursday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing the case involving Roger Stone, ordered the DOJ to provide her with the unredacted portions of the Mueller report on Stone for her private review.
  140. On Tuesday, Trump hosted anti-immigrant extremist and populist Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who like Trump has vilified journalists and fostered tension with the European Union.
  141. Orban joins the long list of leaders previously excluded due to anti-Democratic practices. Trump has also hosted or met with the leaders of Egypt, Turkey, the Philippines, North Korea, China, and Russia.
  142. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Trump is complaining about being misled by national security adviser John Bolton on the U.S.-backed effort to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro with a young opposition figure.
  143. Trump said reportedly in jest that Bolton wants to get him “into a war.” Maduro publicly mocked Trump for attempted a “foolish” coup last week by opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Trump called Maduro a “tough cookie.”
  144. Trump said Bolton has backed him into a corner. Trump said he discussed Venezuela with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week. Russia backs Maduro and has sold him arms.
  145. On Friday, the State Department announced Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Russia to meet with Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov next Tuesday. Pompeo also met with Lavrov on May 6.
  146. The meeting comes after Pompeo had a confrontational meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday, and abruptly canceled his meeting scheduled this week with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
  147. On Thursday, South Korea said North Korea had launched two short-range missiles, the second launch in the past five days. The launches come two months after Trump’s second summit with Kim Jong Un.
  148. On Thursday, the U.S. seized a North Korean ship, the Wise Honest, which was violating American law and international sanctions by exporting coal. The move was sure to escalate tensions.
  149. On Thursday, the Miami Herald reported the FBI has opened an investigation into whether Li “Cindy” Yang illegally funneled money from China into Trump’s re-election or other campaign-finance violations.
  150. Investigators obtained a grand jury subpoena for records from Bing Bing Peranio, an employee of Yang’s family’s spa, asking for information on a 2018 donation of $5,400 and other contributions made since 2014.
  151. On Friday, Trump raised the tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10% to 25%. According to the Trade Partnership Worldwide, the tariff increase will cost the average family of four $767 a year.
  152. China threatened retaliation, as Trump’s trade deal appeared to be falling apart. Despite his campaign promises, Trump has only completed one small trade deal with South Korea in his two years in office.
  153. On Thursday, Trump accused former Obama Secretary of State John Kerry of violating the Logan Act, saying, “John Kerry speaks to them a lot…That’s a violation of the Logan Act,” and added “frankly he should be prosecuted on that.”
  154. Kerry helped craft the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which Trump exited. This is the first time Trump has publicly acknowledged that he asked members of his regime to look into whether they could prosecute Kerry.
  155. On Thursday, Sen. Kamala Harris demanded in a letter that Barr clarify if Trump or any White House staff have asked him to investigate anyone, after Trump made threats to prosecute Kerry.
  156. On Friday, NYT reported Giuliani was planning to travel to Ukraine to meet with the nation’s president-elect Volodymyr Zelensky, to urge him to pursue investigations that could benefit Trump and help his re-election.
  157. The first is to push Ukraine to open an investigation that would call into question the origin of and seek to discredit the special counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  158. Trump has claimed Ukrainian officials tried to help Hillary Clinton in 2016 by focusing attention on Paul Manafort’s business in Ukraine. He has also said he would like Barr to review material gathered by Ukrainian prosecutors.
  159. Trump also sought to target a 2020 foe, Joe Biden, by seeking an investigation into his role in stopping a Ukrainian prosecutor from investigating his son Hunter’s ties to a Ukrainian gas company.
  160. Giuliani is working with Victoria Toensing, a lawyer who was named last year, along with her husband, to help Trump in the Mueller investigation, but whose appointment was rescinded due to conflicts of interest.
  161. The couple frequently appear on Fox News and use social media to advance a claim that the Mueller investigation was part of the DOJ efforts to frame Trump. Toensing tweeted “the real collusion began in @Ukraine.”
  162. Giuliani and Toensing have both met with Yuriy Lutsenko, the Ukrainian prosecutor who pushed the investigations, including that Clinton was behind the release of documents on Manafort’s work in Ukraine pre-2014.
  163. Giuliani’s planned trip raised concerns that Trump was pressing a foreign government to help him win reelection, and seeking to discredit the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  164. On Friday, Trump told Politico it would be “appropriate” for him to speak to Barr about opening an investigation into Joe Biden or his son, adding, “but I have not done that as of yet. … It could be a very big situation.”
  165. Giuliani, who was set to leave Sunday, told Politico of his meeting with Zelensky, “I just want to tell him, ‘Don’t let these crooks talk you out of the investigation. There are real facts there they’ve got to investigate.”
  166. On Friday, Sen. Christopher Murphy sent a letter to the GOP chair of the Foreign Relations Committee asking him to open an investigation into Giuliani’s activities, which he called “private foreign policy engagement.”
  167. Late Friday, Giuliani canceled his trip, saying he was being “set up” by Ukrainians who were critical of his efforts, and by Democrats who said he was meddling in the election, calling it “ridiculous” and “spin.”
  168. On Thursday, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll found support for impeaching Trump is rising: from 40% in mid-April to 45% in the new poll.
  169. On Friday, Chair Nadler told reporters Mueller will not testify May 15 as planned. Nadler declined to give a reason, but said, “He will come at some point. If it’s necessary, we will subpoena him and he will come.”
  170. On Friday, Politico reported some Democrats are reconsidering the idea of impeachment as a means of gaining access to the documents and testimony that the Trump regime is withholding.
  171. On Friday, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal issued subpoenas to both IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin for Trump’s tax returns.
  172. Neal gave a deadline of May 17 to turn over six years of returns, or is expected to go to court to enforce his request shortly thereafter. Other committee members have been frustrated with his measured approach.
  173. On Friday, WSJ reported Trump asked White House counsel Emmet Flood to reach out to McGahn within a day of the release of Mueller’s report to Barr to make a public statement defending Trump from obstruction.
  174. Trump wanted McGahn to release a statement saying he did not believe his interactions with Trump, including Trump’s calls for him to fire Mueller, amounted to obstruction of justice.
  175. McGahn declined. William Burck, McGahn’s attorney said in a statement, “We did not perceive it as any kind of threat or something sinister. It was a request, professionally and cordially made.”
  176. NYT also reported White House officials asked McGahn at least twice to publicly declare Trump never obstructed justice. Trump instructed the officials to make the request, and viewed McGahn as disloyal.
  177. One request was made to Burck before the redacted Mueller report was released but after it was given to Barr. McGahn entertained the request, but declined.
  178. A second request was made around the time Rudy Giuliani attacked McGahn’s credibility in April after the Mueller report was released. McGahn’s opinion as a witness does not determine obstruction.
  179. On Friday, CNN’s chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin warned that America’s constitutional system “may simply be incapable of responding” to the threat posed by Trump’s defiance of Congress.
  180. Toobin wrote, “The Framers anticipated friction among the three branches of government,” adding, “But the Trump White House has now established a complete blockade against the legislative branch.
  181. On Tuesday, Trump said he wanted to resume fireworks on July 4th over the forest at Mount Rushmore, tweeting: “THE BIG FIREWORKS, after many years of not having any, are coming back.”
  182. On Friday, WAPO reported Trump may take over the Washington DC July 4th celebration, moving the fireworks away from the Mall and tentatively planing to address the nation from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
  183. Fireworks on the Mall has been broadcast live on television since 1947. Trump inserting himself raised concerns of turning a non-partisan holiday celebration into a campaign rally.
  184. On Saturday, Trump sent close to 60 tweets in 45 minutes, retweeting praise and affirmation of conservative commentators, Republican lawmakers, conservative websites, and his family.
  185. The topics included Hillary Clinton’s emails, security at the Southern border, the Mueller report, support for Trump’s trade war with China, and criticizing Chair Burr’s decision to subpoena Donald Jr.
  186. Trump also tweeted voters do not care about seeing his tax returns, saying he won in 2016 “partially based on no Tax Returns while I am under audit (which I still am),” adding, “Make it a part of the 2020 Election!”

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Michelle Disher, from Roswell, and others dressed as characters from “The Handmaid’s Tale”, protest outside the Capitol where Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, was to sign legislation, Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Atlanta, banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks, before many women know they’re pregnant.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 118: LEAKY REGIME

FEBRUARY 09, 2019

Week 117

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-117/

This week was filled with news of Congressional inquiries, subpoenas, and investigations, as House committee chairs took the first steps to hold Trump and his regime accountable. Leaks from the regime heightened concerns about a White House rapidly devolving to the Trump Organization, with Trump largely freelancing and acting unilaterally, and taking the advice from a small group of sycophantic insiders.

With the government reopened, Trump delivered an otherwise mundane State of the Union speech, with the most memorable part being his attack on the investigations against him, evoking former President Richard Nixon’s 1974 speech shortly before impeachment proceedings began. Trump continued to push his manufactured crisis at the southern border, sending thousands more troops as he stoked racism and fear.

Other than his State of the Union speech, Trump was relatively quiet in the public sphere this week, with fewer tweets and public comments than his recent more frenetic pace. In addition to the Congressional investigations being launched, more news of subpoenas and investigations of the Trump Organization and its properties surfaced, including the emoluments clause case and inquiries farmed out by the Mueller probe.

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A popular meme making its rounds on the internet this week ~ after that mundane speech…
IMG_3522
A sticker found in Orlando, Florida. 9Feb19. *(sic) familys = families

IMG_3367

IMG_3366
Sing to the tune of Billy Joel’s “Just Like a Woman…” 🙂 
  1. WAPO reported in his 745 days in office, Trump has made 8,459 false or misleading claims. The most frequently repeated claims related to the Russian investigation, trade with China, tax cuts, and immigration.
  2. Morning Consult’s Trump Tracker found Trump had his worst monthly approval rating of his time in office in January, with a record-low 40% saying they approve, while 55% disapprove.
  3. Those who disapprove include 88% of Democrats and 56% of independents. A majority of voters in 27 states said they disapproved of Trump, while a majority in just 12 states saying they approved.
  4. A CNN poll found 7 in 10 say the federal government is doing a bad job of governing, including 43% who say this the worst job of governing in their lifetimes — double the share (21%) after the 1996 shutdown.
  5. On Saturday, Trump tapped Ronny Jackson to receive a promotion and become his top medical adviser, even though Jackson is still under investigation by the Pentagon after his derailed VA secretary nomination.
  6. It was unclear if the Senate Armed Services Committee would act on Jackson’s promotion nomination to become a two-star admiral while the investigations into mismanagement and misconduct are still ongoing.
  7. On Saturday, TIME reported several senior intelligence briefers broke two years of silence to warn that Trump is endangering American security with what they say is a stubborn disregard for their assessments.
  8. The briefers described Trump’s “willful ignorance,” as well as their attempts to keep his attention by using visual aids, shortening briefings points to two or three sentences, and repeating his name and title.
  9. Briefers said Trump reacts with anger when given information that contradicts positions he has taken or his beliefs. Officials were warned to avoid giving intelligence assessments that contradict his public stances.
  10. Briefers gave examples of Trump misidentifying Nepal and Bhutan as being part of India, and of the island Diego Garcia, home to a Naval Support Facility, Trump asked “are the people nice, and are the beaches good?”
  11. Trump has also ignored warning by intelligence on North Korea, including officials trying to get his attention by building a miniature version of a facility with New York’s Statue of Liberty to scale to show him the size.
  12. On Sunday, in an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Trump renewed his pledge to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan, and repeated his claim that James Mattis “resigned because I asked him to resign.”
  13. Trump said there is “very little ISIS and you have the caliphate almost knocked out,” adding “we’re at 99 percent now” — in stark contrast to Senate testimony by top U.S. Intelligence officials in Week 116.
  14. The rest of the interview aired before the Super Bowl. Trump said NFL ratings were now “terrific” because players were not kneeling and the league was not battling him. Ratings for the game hit a 10-year low.
  15. Trump said of the intelligence chiefs, “I have intel people, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree,” and cited intelligence failures leading up to the Iraq War. Trump typically gets just three intelligence briefings each week.
  16. Trump also declined to say if the Mueller report should be made public, saying he will defer to the Justice Department: “That’s up to the attorney general. I don’t know. It depends. I have no idea what it’s going to say.”
  17. Trump called the Mueller probe “a total witch hunt,” adding, “it doesn’t implicate me in any way. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction,” and, “I think it’s a disgrace.”
  18. When asked about the 34 indictments, Trump said none of the charges were related to him, saying “many” of the Russians charged “were bloggers from Moscow or they were people that had nothing to do with me.”
  19. Trump also said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is “very rigid,” and said of another government shutdown in 12 days when the extension runs out, “I don’t take anything off the table.”
  20. Amid Super Bowl commercials, WAPO featured an ad titled “Democracy Dies in Darkness” on the importance of the free press, saying, “Because knowing empowers us. Knowing helps us decide. Knowing keeps us free.”
  21. On Sunday, Axios reported that leaked copies of Trump’s private schedules for nearly every working day since the midterms show Trump spent around 60% of the last three months in “Executive Time.”
  22. The schedules revealed Trump spends his mornings in the residence, watching TV, reading the papers, and responding by phoning aides, Congressional allies, friends, regime officials, and informal advisers.
  23. Trump’s first meeting is typically at 11 or 11:30 a.m. Since midterms, he has spent 297 hours in Executive Time and 77 hours in meetings that included policy planning, legislative strategy, and video recordings.
  24. Presidential historians said there is no precedent for this type of schedule. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “Trump has a different leadership style than his predecessors and the results speak for themselves.”
  25. Axios reported the leak of Trump’s schedule left the White House rattled and set off internal finger-pointingand accusations of weaponizing Trump’s schedule.
  26. On Sunday, WAPO reported Trump is at a watershed moment of his time in office, facing a crossroads as Democrats take control of the House, and he finds himself at odds with intelligence officials and some GOP senators.
  27. White House aides describe a chaotic, freewheeling atmosphere reminiscent of Trump’s early weeks in office. Jared Kushner is acting as a de facto chief of staff as Trump remains unchecked and isolated.
  28. Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, has said he is trying to manage the staff but not Trump, and meets with Trump just twice a day. Trump is increasingly operating the White House like a family-owned business.
  29. On Monday, a Gallup poll found 60% of Americans oppose new construction on the border, up from 57% in June. The poll also found 81% support a path to citizenship for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
  30. On Sunday, She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, the rapper known as 21 Savage, was arrested by ICE “during a targeted operation with federal and local law enforcement partners.” An ICE spokesperson claimed he is a felon.
  31. 21 Savage arrived from the U.K. at age of seven, making him akin to a “Dreamer.” 21 Savage’s legal team said he is not a convicted felon, which would disqualify him, and that ICE “provided incorrect information.”
  32. In Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam said he had no plans to resign in the wake of a blackface scandal, while Lt. Gov Justin Fairfax faced two accusations of sexual assault, and AG Mark Herring admitted to wearing blackface at a party decades ago.
  33. On Thursday, Trump tweeted, “Democrats at the top are killing the Great State of Virginia,” adding, “if the three failing pols were Republicans, far stronger action would be taken.”
  34. On Thursday, GOP Rep. Steve King, who recently drew criticism for overt racism and xenophobia, reintroduced legislation that would make English the official language of the U.S.
  35. On Friday, a video of a June speech by Trump supporter Candace Owens surfaced in which she seemed to defend Hitler, calling him a “national socialist,” and adding he “just wanted to make Germany great.”
  36. Cindy McCain apologized after claiming she stopped a case of human trafficking at the Phoenix airport saying “something didn’t click.” Police found no evidence of wrongdoing, rather it was a mixed-race family.
  37. On Wednesday, luxury brand Gucci said it would stop selling a $890 sweater that resembles blackface, and in a statement said it “deeply apologizes for the offense caused.”
  38. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund demanded an apology from a school district in Binghamton, New York, after AP reported that four 12-year-old female students said they were strip searched for drugs at school.
  39. On Wednesday, Virginia police sergeant Robert Stamm was suspended after being identified by an anti-fascist group as having an “affinity with white nationalist groups,” including tattoos, flags, and banners.
  40. On Thursday, by a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court blocked Louisiana from enforcing a law that women’s advocacy groups said would leave only a single doctor legally allowed to perform abortions in the state.
  41. Chief Justice John Roberts, who has voiced concern about maintaining the integrity of the nation’s highest court after Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, voted with the court’s liberal members.
  42. Justice Kavanaugh filed a dissent, writing only for himself, saying he would have allowed the law to go into effect and see if it imposed a burden on women.
  43. WAPO reported despite allegations of ballot tampering in North Carolina’s 9th district, the Trump regime is focused instead on prosecution of non-citizens for alleged voter fraud.
  44. Twenty immigrants were rounded up in August 2018 over several days for illegally voting in 2016, one of the most aggressive voting-fraud crackdowns by a Trump-appointed prosecutor, Robert Higdon Jr.
  45. Higdon also issued subpoenas for millions of records of foreign-born voters in August. All but one of the 20 arrested are legal residents, and just five defendants received minimal fines or mis­demeanor convictions.
  46. The crackdown in North Carolina comes as Trump and other Republicans attempt to portray illegal voting as a widespread phenomenon that threatens the integrity of American elections.
  47. On Monday, the ACLU and other civil rights groups sued Texas officials and five county elections administrators over an advisory urging counties to review the citizenship status of thousands of flagged voters.
  48. The lawsuit claims Texas officials knew the list was flawed, including the names of naturalized citizens who are eligible to vote, and called the advisory “a thinly veiled attempt to decrease minority voter participation.”
  49. On Sunday, the Pentagon deployed an additional 3,750 troops to the southern border to help install wire barriers and monitor crossings, bringing the total number of active-duty troops there to around 6,000.
  50. On Sunday, Trump tweeted “with Caravans marching through Mexico and toward our Country, Republicans must be prepared to do whatever is necessary,” adding, “if there is no Wall, there is no Security.”
  51. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted about the troops, saying, “tremendous numbers of people are coming up through Mexico in the hopes of flooding our Southern Border,” adding, “We will build a Human Wall if necessary.
  52. On Tuesday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the newly-elected Democratic governor of New Mexico, ordered the withdrawal of the majority of the state’s National Guard troops from the U.S.-Mexico border.
  53. The announcement was made shortly before the SOTU. Lujan Grisham said, “New Mexico will not take part in the president’s charade of border fear-mongering by misusing our diligent National Guard troops.”
  54. On Wednesday, NBC News reported Customs and Border Protection officials in Eagle Pass, Texas will let in just 20 migrants per day, after a caravan of 1,800 arrived, a process referred to as metering.
  55. On Thursday, Commander Jonathan White, a senior Health and Human Services official, told a House oversight subcommittee he raised concerns about separating families before “zero tolerance” was announced.
  56. White’s concerns included the policy would be “inconsistent with our legal requirement to act in the best interest of the child” and expose them to unnecessary harm, and it would exceed the capacity of the program.
  57. White said he shared his concerns with then-director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement Scott Lloyd, adding, “Neither I nor any career person in (the ORR) would ever have supported such a policy proposal.”
  58. On Monday, AP reported Belarusian model Anastasia Vashukevich, who had claimed to have information on ties between Russians and Trump’s campaign, said she has turned over the information to Oleg Deripaska.
  59. On Monday, BuzzFeed reported Rinat Akhmetshin, a Soviet military officer turned Washington lobbyist, received half a million dollars in suspicious payments before and after attending the June 9 Trump Tower meeting.
  60. Akhmetshin received a wire transfer of $100,000 from Denis Katsyv, owner of Prevezon Holdings, and $52,000 from a foundation funded by Katsyv and other wealthy Russians to try to undermine the Magnitsky Act.
  61. On Monday, ABC News reported prosecutors from the Southern District of New York public corruption section have subpoenaed documents from Trump’s inauguration committee.
  62. Prosecutors are seeking documents and records on the inauguration committee’s donors, and information on attendees at inauguration events including benefits to top-level donors.
  63. Prosecutors also subpoenaed the committee on its communications with California money-manager Imaad Zuberi and his company, Avenue Ventures. Zuberi is the only person named in the subpoena.
  64. Zuberi has largely donated to Democrats in the past, including Hillary Clinton and former President Obama. Records show Avenue Ventures donated $900,000 to the inaugural committee.
  65. The subpoena also requested records of vendors and contractors, including communications with payment-processing company Stripe. Jared Kushner’s brother Josh’s venture capital firm is a major investor in Stripe.
  66. On Tuesday, Rudy Giuliani said Trump “had little to no involvement in the inaugural committee.” Press secretary Sarah Sanders called it “hysteria,” adding, “anything to try to create and tie problems to this president.”
  67. On Friday, WNYC and ProPublica reported on evidence of potential tax law violations of self-dealing by Trump’s inaugural committee which spent at least $1.5 million at Trump Hotel DC around his inauguration.
  68. Evidence show that the nonprofit 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee paid $175,000 per day for event space, despite internal objections at the time that the rate was too high.
  69. Tom Barrack, the inauguration committee’s chair, also had a stake in Trump Hotel DC. Tax law prohibits nonprofits from paying inflated prices to entities owned by people who also control or influence its activities.
  70. On Monday, the Times of London reported prosecutors in Maryland have subpoenaed financial documents from the trust that owns the Trump Hotel DC and his golf resort in Turnberry, Scotland, in the emoluments case.
  71. Newsweek reported the Maryland attorney general has also subpoenaed Donald Jr., who is a trustee of the Trump Organization, and Allen Weisselberg, the organization’s financial officer.
  72. During his January 2018 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS, said Trump’s Scotland golf courses were used to funnel money from unknown sources.
  73. On Tuesday, NYT reported SDNY prosecutors are also investigating firms recruited by Paul Manafort over the flow of foreign money — another investigation spun off from the Mueller probe.
  74. The firms being investigated for payments to help improve the image of the Russia-aligned president of Ukraine include Mercury Public Affairs, the Podesta Group and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
  75. On Tuesday, BuzzFeed reported on a cache of Trump Organization internal documents which reveal efforts to build Trump Tower Moscow was a long-running, detail-oriented undertaking.
  76. Documents show Michael Cohen and Felix Sater worked with Trump Organization lawyers and Ivanka to push forward negotiations while Trump was on the campaign trail, often praising Putin at key deal junctures.
  77. On Friday, Ivanka told “Good Morning America” that she knew “literally almost nothing” about the Trump Tower Moscow project, adding, “we were an active business.”
  78. Ivanka also said of the project, “there was never a binding contract. I never talked to the — with a third party outside of the organization about it. It was one of — I mean we could have had 40 or 50 deals like that.”
  79. Ivanka downplayed doing business with Russia: “It’s not like it’s a strange thing, as a hospitality company or a development company, to have a hotel or a property in Russia. We’re not talking about Iran.”
  80. On Wednesday, CNN reported the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office is seeking interviews with executives from the Trump Organization. The specific inquiry and topics was not yet clear.
  81. The investigation is in addition to the cases against Cohen and investigation of the inaugural committee, andmay pose more threat to Trump, his family, and allies after the Mueller investigation and his time in office.
  82. On Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff announced “in the interests of the investigation” Michael Cohen’s testimony scheduled for February 7 will be postponed to February 28.
  83. On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the special counsel said prosecutor Scott Meisler left the probe in December, but remains active in cases he is involved in — indicating the Mueller probe could be nearing its conclusion.
  84. On Wednesday, Paul Erickson, a GOP political operative and boyfriend of Maria Butina, was indicted in South Dakota on charges of wire fraud and money laundering — separate from the Mueller’s case against Butina.
  85. On Thursday, a federal judge in New York ordered the government to submit redacted search warrants on the Cohen raid in April, saying the redactions are necessary because “aspects” of the investigation continue.
  86. In keeping names confidential, federal prosecutors told the judge some individuals in the materials are cooperating, and others are subjects of the investigation into campaign finance crimes.
  87. On Monday, Politico reported Trump is expected to name Treasury Department official David Malpass to run the World Bank. Malpass has been a vocal critic of the bank, and is expected to rein in its work.
  88. On Monday, Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham warned Republicans to back Trump if he declares a national emergency to fund his wall, saying, “This is about more than a barrier. This is about us as a party.”
  89. Roll Call reported that the first Monday in the month of February was the legal deadline for submitting a president’s budget fiscal 2020 budget request to Congress. Trump ignored the law established in 1990.
  90. On Wednesday, the Miami Herald reported the DOJ opened an investigation into Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta’s role in negotiating a plea deal with Jeffrey Epstein over an accusation of molesting underage girls.
  91. The probe was opened at the request of GOP Sen. Ben Sasse. Epstein is known to have many powerful friends, including Trump, Bill Clinton, and lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who often defends Trump in the media.
  92. On Wednesday, the Trump regime announced it will roll back Obama-era restrictions requiring payday and vehicle title lenders to make an effort to find out whether borrowers could afford to pay them back before lending.
  93. The effort of rescinding the requirement on the lenders, whose lending practices are thought by many experts to be predatory, came as Mick Mulvaney took over as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  94. WAPO updated reporting to show T-Mobile executives seeking merger approval booked at least 52 nights at Trump Hotel DC. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Pramila Jayapal issued letters demanding information.
  95. On Friday, ABC News reported Trump’s 2020 campaign has paid nearly $100,000 of donor money to law firm representing Jared Kushner, according to campaign finance records.
  96. Payments of $55,330 and $42,574 were made to Winston & Strawn, the firm Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell joined in May 2018. Contributions of $200 or less made up 98.5% of funds raised by the campaign last quarter.
  97. On Tuesday, 30 minutes before the State of the Union, the Trump campaign sent out a text message to supporters soliciting donations in exchange for having their name appear on a special livestream.
  98. Despite his expected call for unity, ahead of the speech Trump dismissed former Vice President Joseph Biden as “dumb,” and tweeted Sen. Chuck Schumer is “upset that he didn’t win the Senate, after spending a fortune.”
  99. Trump also told reporters “I hope I haven’t wounded Pocahontas too badly,” saying he would like to run against Sen. Warren, and said of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, “he choked like a dog” at his press conference.
  100. Trump also recounted how he felt betrayed by deceased Sen. John McCain voting against a measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, adding “by the way, he wrote a book and the book bombed.”
  101. Women in the House wore white to the SOTU. Rep. Lois Frankel called it a “sea of #Suffragette white,” sending the message House Democratic women “are fighting for the economic security of women & families.”
  102. Congresswomen wore white to Trump’s SOTU in 2017, and black in 2018 in solidarity with the #MeToo movement. But the sheer mass of 89 women in 2019 made a statement. Tiffany Trump also wore white.
  103. Trump delivered an hour and 21 minute SOTU, the third longest, in what was billed as a “unifying” speech, and billed as the theme “Choosing Greatness.” The speech was delayed due to the government shutdown.
  104. Trump’s speech was packed with false and misleading claims, and dubious figures related to the economy, trade, immigration, and foreign policy, many of which Trump has repeatedly used.
  105. Trump, reading his speech from a teleprompter said, “An economic miracle is taking place in the United States — and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations.”
  106. Trump then added, “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way.” Democrats reacted with dismay and outrage. Republicans were subdued.
  107. Trump remarks echoed Richard Nixon in his 1974 SOTU: “I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to an end,” shortly before impeachment proceedings began.
  108. Speaker Pelosi displayed vivid responses to Trump’s speech with gestures, shaking her head in disagreement, and giving a visible look of disbelief over Trump’s comments on “politics or ridiculous partisan investigations.”
  109. Pelosi also frequently checked the written copy of Trump’s speech as he spoke, and on two occasions calmed her caucus’ reaction by raising her hand. Democrats remained polite and disciplined throughout the speech.
  110. On Wednesday, in the first act under the leadership of Rep. Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee voted to send Mueller unredacted transcripts of more than 50 witness interviews in the Russia probe.
  111. Democrats said the testimony will allow Mueller’ team to determine whether perjury charges are warranted, and include testimony of Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks, Corey Lewandowski, Donald Jr., and Jared Kushner.
  112. Schiff told reporters the committee’s work would expand to include any “foreign actors” who might have worked to influence Trump, his family or associates, or to impede any investigations.
  113. The committee will also look at Trump’s foreign policy and whether he, his family, and his advisers “are or were at any time at heightened risk of” foreign “exploitation, inducement, manipulation, pressure or coercion.”
  114. On Wednesday, Trump told reporters that Schiff is “just a political hack,” adding, “he’s trying to build a name for himself,” and “no other politician has to go through that. It’s called presidential harassment.”
  115. On Thursday, CNN reported Schiff has hired officials with experience at the National Security Council to help with oversight of the Trump regime. It is unclear if the officials worked for Trump, but the move enraged him.
  116. On Thursday, in a series of early morning tweets, Trump said, “the Dems and their committees are going ‘nuts’,” adding committee heads are “even stealing people who work at White House! A continuation of Witch Hunt!”
  117. CNN reported when a regime official was asked about Trump’s tweet about “stealing people who work at White House,” the official responded to reporters, “ask Adam Schiff what that means.”
  118. Trump also tweeted, “So now Congressman Adam Schiff announces…he is going to be looking at every aspect of my life, both financial and personal,” adding, “Never happened before! Unlimited Presidential Harassment…”
  119. Trump sent a third tweet on the matter at 7:37 a.m. EST, saying, “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT! It should never be allowed to happen again!”
  120. On Wednesday, Politico reported House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are in conversation about his testifying about lifting sanctions of Oleg Deripaska’s companies.
  121. Waters called for Mnuchin to testify after his department failed to turn over documents requested by Democrats by the deadline on Tuesday.
  122. On Thursday, at the National Prayer Breakfast, Trump told the crowd, “I will never let you down,” then shifted and made an apparent gaffe, celebrating the “abolition of civil rights.”
  123. Trump praised Second Lady Karen Pence, saying “she just went back to teaching art classes at a Christian school,” calling her a “terrific woman.” The school openly discriminates against LGBTQ students and staff.
  124. On Thursday, acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker said he would not appear before the House Judiciary Committee as scheduled Friday unless committee Democrats gave him assurances he would not be subpoenaed.
  125. In the early evening, chair Rep. Jerrold Nadler sent a letter to Whitaker, saying the committee would not make that promise and “there will be no need for a subpoena” if Whitaker answers lawmakers’ questions.
  126. After negotiations, Whitaker said he would appear on Friday, and Nadler agreed that no subpoena would be issued Thursday or Friday, after a day of back and forth public bickering between Democrats and the DOJ.
  127. On Thursday, a House Ways and Means Committee panel brought in several experts in tax law to begin hearings to lay the groundwork for a potential request to obtain Trump’s tax returns.
  128. The subcommittee discussed a provision which would compel presidential candidates to release 10 years of tax returns within 30 days of garnering their party’s nomination. Republicans oppose the measure.
  129. Since the 1970s, every president has released at least one-year of tax returns. Trump claimed he cannot release his returns because they are being audited, and that they are “extremely complex.”
  130. On Thursday, a CNN poll found that 87% of Americans believe Mueller’s investigators should release a full, public report — just 9% believe they should not. Republicans agree, with 80% calling for the release.
  131. On Thursday, CBS News reported Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr said two years in, its Russia investigation is broader, and perhaps more consequential, than people thought it would be.
  132. Burr said the committee started off with investigating the 2016 election, but came to a “better understanding of what happened and how coordinated and organized the effort was.
  133. Burr also said because of access to intelligence product “we’ve interviewed people that I don’t even know if the special counsel knows about them,” and said their product will cover well beyond the 2016 election.
  134. Burr also said access “gave us tremendous insight to know when somebody was lying to us,” adding that the committee had “not been shy” in referring individuals for criminal prosecution.
  135. Burr also said based on the evidence to date, including interviewing more than 200 witnesses and 300,000 documents, “we don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia.”
  136. Burr said the committee is close to releasing a report on the Obama administration’s response to Russian interference, but that the rest could occupy the committee for decades, and much of it kept confidential.
  137. On Thursday, Trump tweeted, “highly respected Senator Richard Burr” said today that “ after an almost two year investigation, he saw no evidence of Russia collusion,” adding, “Thank you!”
  138. On Friday, Trump tweeted, “the mainstream media has refused to cover the fact that the head of the VERY important Senate Intelligence Committee” […] “just stated that they have found NO COLLUSION between “Trump” & Russia.”
  139. Trump also tweeted, “it is all a GIANT AND ILLEGAL HOAX” used as an excuse “as to why Crooked Hillary Clinton lost the Election.”
  140. Trump also tweeted, “someday the Fake News Media will turn honest & report that Donald J. Trump was actually a GREAT Candidate,” and then tweeted a 50% approval rating by conservative pollster Rasmussen polls.
  141. On Thursday, NYT reported U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted a conversation of Saudi crown prince MBS telling a top aide in 2017 that he would use a “bullet” on journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
  142. On Thursday, a United Nations-led inquiry into the Khashoggi’s murder found the “brutal and premeditated killing” was “planned and perpetrated by officials of the state of Saudi Arabia.”
  143. On Thursday, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act, which would impose sanctions on those responsible for Khashoggi’s death and prohibit the sale of some weapons.
  144. On Friday, CNN reported Trump refused to meet a legal requirement to send Congress a report due that day on whether crown prince MBS was responsible for the killing of Khashoggi.
  145. A spokesperson for the White House told CNN that Trump “maintains his discretion to decline to act on congressional committee requests when appropriate.” The refusal is likely to anger members of both parties.
  146. On Thursday, in a blog post on Medium, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accused American Media Inc, the publisher of the National Enquirer, of attempting to extort him over leaked naked photos. Bezos published AMI emails.
  147. Bezos’ blog post insinuates AMI, whose owner is Trump ally David Pecker, may have been politically motivated because of his ownership of WAPO, which had recapped AMI’s “catch and kill” practices.
  148. Bezos hinted at a Saudi connection: “an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is ‘apoplectic’ about our investigation. For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve.”
  149. On Thursday, Ronan Farrow tweeted that he “and at least one other prominent journalist involved in breaking stories about the National Enquirer’s arrangement with Trump” received blackmail threats.
  150. Farrow, who reported on the Enquirer’s “catch and kill” practice that benefited Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, also tweeted he was told “stop digging or we’ll ruin you.”
  151. In response to Farrow, Associated Press editor Ted Bridis tweeted AP was warned “AMI had hired private investigators to dig into backgrounds” of AP journalists who were reporting “on tabloid’s work on behalf of Trump.
  152. On Friday, AMI said in a statement that it “acted lawfully in the reporting of the story” and “was in good faithnegotiations to resolve all matters with him,” but said it would thoroughly investigate the extortion claims.
  153. On Friday, AP reported federal prosecutors in the SDNY are investigating whether AMI violated an earlier cooperation agreement with its handling of the story on Bezos.
  154. On Friday, a White House spokesperson said he “wasn’t sure” if Trump was aware of the situation between Bezos and Pecker, adding he was “not aware” of the last time Trump spoke to Pecker.
  155. On Thursday, WAPO reported the government reopening is off to a rocky start as thousands of federal employees experienced delays or received incorrect amounts in their paychecks.
  156. The mood is described as subdued, with workers fatigued and demoralized. Private contractors have not been paid for invoices, and some had bureaucratic hurdles as contracts expired during the shutdown.
  157. On Friday, in a combative six-hour publicly televised hearing, acting attorney general Whitaker testifiedbefore the House in what likely will be his last appearance before William Barr is expected to be confirmed.
  158. Daily Beast reported Whitaker went through extensive preparation, including multiple practice committee hearings. Sources said, “They hate this guy so much,” and “We don’t know what they’re going to do.”
  159. Whitaker largely avoided answering questions, was an unsteady witness and often belligerent and rude to members of Congress, seeming to performing for an audience of one: Trump.
  160. Whitaker monitored the clock closely, at one point jabbing the committee chair Rep. Nadler, saying, “Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up,” resulting in gasps and laughs from the audience.
  161. Whitaker said he has not influenced the Mueller probe in any way, nor spoken to Trump about it since his appointment. Whitaker added he had not discussed the probe with other White House officials.
  162. Whitaker refused to disagree with Trump’s characterization of the probe as a “witch hunt,” instead frequently repeating the line, “It would be inappropriate for me to talk about an ongoing investigation.”
  163. When asked about speaking with Trump on other investigations, Whitaker hedged, saying “I am not going to discuss my private conversations with the president of the United States. No matter what the question is.”
  164. He also refused to answer questions about whether he had approved investigative steps in the Mueller probe, and whether he had been briefed on the probe, and if so, how often.
  165. Whitaker said the DOJ believes a sitting president cannot be indicted, saying, “That is still the policy of the Department of Justice.”
  166. In an exchange with Rep. Madeleine Dean, Whitaker seemed to contradict himself on how he was notified by Trump of getting the job, saying it was by Trump’s tweet, then by a phone call, then said he could not recall.
  167. On Friday, House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Mark Takano said his committee is opening an investigation of three member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago who have had outsized influence in the Veterans Affairs.
  168. Takano requested documents from Ike Perlmutter, Bruce Moskowitz, and Marc Sherman, and their companies, of contacts with current or former VA officials.
  169. On Friday, Trump underwent his second annual physical while in office. Although this week he brought Ronny Jackson back to his staff, it was conducted by Dr. Sean Conley, a Navy officer.
  170. Details were sparse. Conley said Trump is in “very good health,” and that “reports and recommendations are being finalized,” but did not say when or if they would be publicly released.
  171. The physical was the only thing on Trump’s Friday schedule. When asked by reporters, a White House spokesperson did not explain why or how Trump was tweeting during his physical.
  172. On Friday, Trump confirmed a second summit with Kim Jong Un, tweeting, “my representatives have just left North Korea after a very productive meeting.” The summit will take place in Hanoi on February 27 and 28.
  173. Trump also tweeted, “North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, will become a great Economic Powerhouse,” adding, “I have gotten to know him & fully understand how capable he is.”
  174. Trump has continued to ignore and dispute evidence from experts and U.S. intelligence officials that North Korea’s compliance in talks is no more than smoke and mirrors, as their nuclear build-up continues.
  175. On Saturday, Trump reacted to oversight for the first time this week by House Democrats, tweeting, “the Democrats in Congress yesterday were vicious and totally showed their cards for everyone to see.”
  176. Trump also tweeted, “When the Republicans had the Majority they never acted with such hatred and scorn!” — this is false. Trump also claimed if Democrats were still in power “the U.S. would be in a Depression.”
  177. Trump also again raised the specter of voter fraud, tweeting: “The Dems are trying to win an election in 2020 that they know they cannot legitimately win!”

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Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Nancy Pelosi behind Trump at the State of the Union on February 5, 2019 in Washington, DC. After President Trump said “we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution — and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good,” Pelosi looked at Trump, he turned around, and she clapped in a sarcastic manner, which went viral.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 113: THE TRAITOR HAS A “PELOSI PROBLEM” NOW

JANUARY 05, 2019

Week 112

 Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-112/

Here are my political art finds paired with activist Amy Siskind’s weekly list of what’s happening in politics in our country. For more information, please click the link to her page above. 

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By artist, LEAF, in New York City. Jan 2019. (not my photo)

This week, for the first time since he took office, Trump faced a check on his power as the 116th Congress was sworn in. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took back the gavel, she made clear she will take Trump on, telling the Times she considers herself Trump’s equal, and the “TODAY” show that Trump can be indicted while in office. The 116th Congress, the most diverse by race, religion, and gender — on the Democratic side — stood in sharp contrast to Trump, who increasingly surrounds himself with rooms full of white men.

The government shutdown passed three weeks, with no end in sight, as Trump dug in his heels and Pelosi’s House voted to reopen the government without any funding for his wall. As the shutdown’s impact was increasingly felt across the country, including unpaid essential TSA workers calling in sick at four major airports, reporting indicated the Trump regime had not planned for or anticipated a long-term shutdown, and is caught flat-footed. Trump’s lack of empathy for those impacted by the shutdown, and threat to call a national emergency, further belied his autocratic tendencies.

Trump held a bizarre cabinet meeting in which he rambled on for 95 minutes, full of lies, revisionist history and self-aggrandizement — as his cabinet members took turns praising him. Although displays like this in his first year would be the topic of discussion for days, there was a notably shorter focus and reaction to the spectacle, as if truly we are the frogs in water close to boil. The federal grand jury seated in Washington D.C. for the Mueller probe was extended for an additional six months, as the 18 month mark passed.

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Photo: Pascal Doytier. Miami, Florida. End of December 2018.
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Shared by Hunter Schwarz on IG. This was spotted on the window of Trump Tower, Chicago. 
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Wynwood, Miami, Florida. December 2018. 
  1. The International Federation of Journalists, an international trade association, said in its annual report 94 journalists and media workers died in 2018, 12 more than 2017, after declining for the last six years.
  2. Reporters Without Borders also found journalists faced an “unprecedented level of hostility” in 2018. The group blamed politicians and public figures for encouraging disdain for the news media.
  3. In 2018, 348 reporters were detained, 60 held hostage, 3 missing, and 80 were killed. Of those killed, 61% were murdered or deliberately targeted for their reporting, while 39% were killed while reporting.
  4. Also in 2018, for the first time the U.S. joined the list of the deadliest countries for journalists, with six killed, including the four murdered at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland in Week 85.
  5. On Saturday, a server outage caused by a malware attack which originated from outside the U.S. disrupted deliveries of the LA Times and other newspapers across the country.
  6. On Saturday, CNET reported CenturyLink customers, including those trying to reach 911 emergency service, experienced outages which dragged on for two days. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called for an investigation.
  7. On Saturday, at 10:01 p.m., Trump tweeted “Absolutely nothing” (on Russian Collusion). Kimberley Strassel, The Wall Street Journal,” adding, “The only Russian Collusion was with Hillary and the Democrats!”
  8. Trump also quoted Fox News co-host Jesse Watters, tweeting, “the FBI, under President Obama, rigged the investigation for Hillary and really turned the screws on Trump,” adding, “Whole Hoax exposed.”
  9. On Sunday, in an interview with the LA Times, departing chief of staff John Kelly painted a dim portrait of Trump, saying his tenure would be best measured by what he stopped Trump from doing.
  10. Kelly also said Trump never told him to do anything illegal, and that Trump “was fully informed on the impact” of every decision he made. Kelly has opposed withdrawing from Syria and Afghanistan.
  11. Kelly admitted that he was not consulted when he served as secretary of homeland security about Trump’s Muslim Ban, saying “I had very little opportunity to look at them” before the orders were issued.
  12. Kelly also tried to distance himself from Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, saying “What happened was Jeff Sessions — he was the one that instituted the zero-tolerance process on the border,” adding, “He surprised us.”
  13. Kelly also said Trump has backed away from the idea of a solid concrete wall long ago, saying Trump “still says ‘wall’ — oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward steel slats.”
  14. Yahoo News reported that with continued White House resignations, Trump has increasingly turned to Stephen Miller to be the public face with the media. Several called Miller’s reemergence a “public relations catastrophe.”
  15. Miller’s reemergence also comes as the White House press operation retreats. Since December 19, the communications team has ceased basic tasks like daily press briefings and distributing Trump’s public schedule.
  16. According to data compiled by The American Presidency Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara, press secretary Sarah Sanders has slowed daily press briefings down to just one per month recently.
  17. WAPO reported that increasingly Trump’s White House has no response to inquiries. Instead of the typical “no comment” response from prior administrations, the Trump regime simply does not answer inquiries at all.
  18. The White House has also stopped explaining or seeking to clarify Trump’s tweets, like the one on Christmas Eve day that he “just gave out a 115 mile long contract.” No response was given inquiries on multiple tweets.
  19. On Sunday, arguing for his wall, Trump tweeted, “President and Mrs. Obama built/has a ten foot Wall around their D.C. mansion/compound…the U.S. needs the same thing.” The Obamas do not have a ten foot wall.
  20. On Monday, New Year’s Eve, Trump sent a total of 13 tweets. Trump attacked critics of his decision towithdraw from Syria as “failed generals” and complained about coverage by the “Fake News Media.”
  21. Trump also tweeted, “I’m in the Oval Office. Democrats, come back from vacation now” to discuss his border wall. Politico reported there was no Marine posted outside the West Wing, meaning Trump was not in the Oval Office.
  22. Trump also tweeted, “It’s incredible how Democrats can all use their ridiculous sound bite and say that a Wall doesn’t work,” adding “They now say it is immoral- but it is far more immoral for people to be dying!”
  23. Trump also falsely claimed in a tweet, “MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL through the many billions of dollars a year that the U.S.A. is saving through the new Trade Deal.”
  24. Trump also tweeted “without the Wall there can be no Border Security.” He added, “Throughout the ages some things NEVER get better and NEVER change. You have Walls and you have Wheels.”
  25. On Monday, the U.S. stock markets closed out 2018, posting its worst performance in a decade, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor’s 500 were down 6.2%.
  26. On Monday, the U.S. Strategic Command deleted a tweet which noted the “big” Times Square ball drop celebration at midnight, and joked “if ever needed, we are #ready to drop something much, much bigger.”
  27. In a follow-up tweet, U.S. Strategic Command, a government account, apologized: “Our previous NYE tweet was in poor taste & does not reflect our values…We are dedicated to the security of America & allies.”
  28. On Monday, Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White resigned, tweeting it has been her honor and privilege to serve alongside “Secretary Mattis, our Service members and the civilians who support them.”
  29. Trump closed out 2018 with an interview on Fox News, marking his 41st since his inauguration. The phone interview with Pete Hegseth aired on the cable network’s New Year’s Eve countdown show.
  30. During his time in office, Trump has formed symbiotic relationships with several Fox News and Fox Business hosts and contributors, drawing criticism and comparisons to state-run TV.
  31. On Tuesday, the first day of the new year, Trump’s first tweet was to promote a pro-Trump book by former White House aide Sebastian Gorka, “a very good and talented guy,” adding, “Lots of insight — Enjoy!”
  32. Trump then tweeted, “HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE, INCLUDING THE HATERS AND THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA! 2019 WILL BE A FANTASTIC YEAR FOR THOSE NOT SUFFERING FROM TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. JUST CALM DOWN AND ENJOY THE RIDE, GREAT THINGS ARE HAPPENING FOR OUR COUNTRY!”
  33. Trump spent New Year’s Eve holed up in the White House also continued his attacks on Democrats, tweeting, “The Democrats do not care about Open Borders and all of the crime and drugs that Open Borders bring!”
  34. Trump also attacked retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, tweeting, “‘General’ McChrystal” got fired like a dog by Obama,” adding, “Known for big, dumb mouth. Hillary lover!” Notably, Trump put the word General in quotes.
  35. The tweet was in response to McChrystal telling “This Week” on Sunday he would not work for Trump, saying, “It’s important for me to work for people who I think are basically honest,” adding, “I don’t think he tells the truth.”
  36. On Saturday, CNN reported Trump quietly issued an executive order Friday freezing federal workers’ pay for 2019, canceling a 2.1% across-the-board pay raise that was set to take effect in January.
  37. Trump had initially told lawmakers of his plan in August, saying the federal budget could not support the raise, and describing a pay raise as “inappropriate.” The 2.6% raise for U.S. troops in 2019 was not effected.
  38. WAPO reported the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is facing scrutiny after tweeting a sample letter for furloughed federal workers suggesting they bargain with landlords and offer to do chores to cover their rent.
  39. On Tuesday, WSJ reported as the government shutdown continues, federal workers are worried about paying their bills. Some are filing unemployment claims or telling landlords they cannot pay their rent on time.
  40. Of the 800,000 employees impacted, 420,000 have been deemed essential and are working without pay. The American Federation of Government Employees sued Monday, saying requiring employees to work without pay is illegal.
  41. PBS “Newshour” reported national parks, left open to visitors but with little staff on duty, were impacted byvandalism, overflowing garbage and toilets, illegal off-roading, and other damaging behavior in fragile areas.
  42. However, E&E News reported the Old Post Office tower which shares facilities with the Trump Hotel DC, will remain open during the shutdown, with funds provided by the General Services Administration.
  43. On Sunday, Jazmine Barnes, a 7-year-old Black girl, was shot and killed while riding in a car leaving a Walmart in Texas with her mom and three sisters by an unidentified white man in his 40s, driving a red truck.
  44. In Florida, Daniel Taylor, a white man who grabbed a Black female employee and later kicked another at a McDonald’s during an argument over straws, was arrested after a video of the incident went viral.
  45. The Arizona Republic reported on videos obtained from the Arizona Department of Health Services which show migrant children being dragged and shoved at an Arizona shelter operated by Southwest Key.
  46. The incidents involving three children were reported in mid September, and the shelter closed in late October. State regulators said the company failed to perform background checks on all its employees.
  47. On Tuesday, AP reported U.S. authorities fired tear gas into Mexico to stop migrants from crossing the border. Customs and Border Protection claimed in a statement that tear gas was used to target rock throwers.
  48. An AP photographer contradicted CBP, saying at least three volleys of gas were launched at migrants, including women and children, before rocks were thrown. An AP journalist also saw plastic pellets fired by U.S. agents.
  49. On Thursday, in a statement, Mexico’s foreign affairs ministry formally asked the U.S. government to conduct a thorough investigation of the tear-gassing, reiterating its commitment to the safety of migrants.
  50. WAPO reported Emma Torres, a former kitchen employee at Trump’s Bedminster golf club, said she informed a human resources officer at the club that she did not have papers to live in the U.S. legally.
  51. Torres said superiors kept her name, and those of other undocumented workers, off a list of people to be vetted by the Secret Service before Trump visited the club, because of their status and because they did not have papers.
  52. Victorina Morales, mentioned in the NYT story, said Secret Service agents gave her a pin to wear every time Trump visited. It is unclear if Morales received a screening from Secret Service, or the purpose of the pin.
  53. On Wednesday, in a segment titled “Men in Decline,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed there is “more drug and alcohol abuse” and “higher incarceration rates” in areas where women earn more than men.
  54. Carlson added “before you applaud that as a victory for feminism, consider some of the effects. Study after study has shown that when men make less than women, women generally don’t want to marry them.”
  55. On Thursday, Carlson compared the barrage of criticism he received to “how we wound up in the dark ages,” saying, “This is why important science is no longer being conducted. This is why art isn’t being made.”
  56. On Friday, a D.C. court sided with the Trump regime, saying restrictions on transgender people serving in the military can stand. The decision lifted an injunction barring the regime from limiting their service.
  57. The order does not change the status quo since three other cases have temporarily prevented the regime from implementing its policy, but the ruling was seen as a blow to civil rights and gay rights organizations.
  58. On Friday, the Guardian reported the Trump regime has stopped cooperating with UN investigators on investigations of potential human rights violations occurring inside America.
  59. The State Department stopped responded to queries on May 7, 2018, leaving at least 13 requests unanswered, and sending a dangerous signal to authoritarian regimes around the world.
  60. In his televised New Year’s Eve message, Kim Jong-un said international sanctions must be lifted before North Korea will give up weapons or stop producing nuclear material — the position prior to the Singapore Summit.
  61. Responding in a tweet, Trump mischaracterized the statement saying “North Korea will not make or test nuclear weapons, or give them to others,” adding, “I also look forward to meeting with Chairman Kim.”
  62. On Monday, federal prosecutors filed a status report under seal in the case of Sam Patten, a Republican consultant who pleaded guilty to failing to register as a lobbyist for a political party in Ukraine in August.
  63. Patten, a business associate of Paul Manafort, ran a company with a Russian national identified only as “Person A,” thought to be Konstantin Kilimnik. Patten has been cooperating in the Mueller probe.
  64. On Monday, Russia’s state security service, the FSB, said it had arrested Paul Whelan, an American citizen, on suspicion of spying. Foreigners found guilty of spying on Russia face 10 to 20 years in prison.
  65. Putin has publicly said Maria Butina was not known to any of his spy agencies, and Russia’s Foreign Ministry has extensively used social media to portray her as a political prisoner.
  66. On Thursday, Russia charged Whelan with espionage, claiming he spent years cultivating confidential sources, and allegedly received a flash drive containing a list of employees for a secret Russian agency.
  67. The family said Whelan, a Marine Corps veteran, was in Russia for a wedding. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said U.S. officials hoped to gain consular access to see Whelan.
  68. On Saturday, Russia foreign ministry dismissed chances of a swap of Whelan for Dmitry Makarenko, a Russian arrested on December 29, after being indicted in Miami in 2017 for breaking U.S. law.
  69. On Friday, CNN reported a federal grand jury convened in D.C. for the Mueller probe has been extended for up to six additional months. The grand jury’s term was set to expire over the weekend.
  70. On Friday, The Daily Beast reported Democrats are looking at ways to block the Trump regime from lifting U.S. sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska-controlled companies EN+ and Rusal.
  71. On Friday, WSJ reported the FBI is investigating fake texts sent to Republican House members by someone impersonating a top aide to Vice President Mike Pence.
  72. Netflix blocked an episode of its show “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj” which was critical of Crown Prince MBS, from streaming in Saudi Arabia, after the Saudi government said the episode violated its cybercrime laws.
  73. The Saudi Press Agency reported prosecutors will seek the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects accused of killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudis claims neither MBS or King Salman knew of the operation.
  74. On Wednesday, in an interview with The New York Times Magazine, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Trump an “amoral” person and said he’s “the worst President we’ve ever had.”
  75. On Wednesday, incoming Utah Sen. Mitt Romney wrote a sharp rebuke of Trump in an op-ed the day before he was sworn in. Romney said that two years in, Trump has “not risen to the mantle of the office.”
  76. Romney wrote a “president shapes the public character of a nation,” saying a leader “should unite us and inspire us,” and “demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity,” but that Trump’s character falls short.
  77. Romney also noted “the world needs American leadership, and it is in America’s interest to provide it,” adding, the world is increasingly under leadership by China and Russia which is “autocratic, corrupt and brutal.”
  78. In response to Romney’s op-ed, Trump tweeted in the morning, “Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not,” adding, “I won big, and he didn’t…Be a TEAM player & WIN!”
  79. GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Romney’s niece, tweeted “For an incoming Republican freshman senator” to attack Trump is what the “Democrats and media want” and is “disappointing and unproductive.”
  80. On Wednesday, ahead of a meeting with party leaders, Trump again tweeted false claims about the wall, including “Mexico is paying for the Wall through the new USMCA Trade Deal.”
  81. Trump also tweeted another false claim: “Much of the Wall has already been fully renovated or built.” Some walls and fencing have been replaced during Trump’s time in office, but no new wall has been built.
  82. Wednesday marked the 12th day of the shutdown. Trump said he will veto any measure that did not include $5.6 billion for his wall, telling Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer he would “look foolish” if he backed down.
  83. On Wednesday, Trump also held a cabinet meeting open to the press in which he went on a 95-minute stream-of-consciousness diatribe full of lies, revisionist history, and self-aggrandizement.
  84. On the table where the meeting took place there was a noticeable “Game of Thrones”-style poster with a photo of Trump which read “SANCTIONS ARE COMING NOVEMBER 4.” Trump did not mention the poster in his diatribe.
  85. Trump again trashed Mattis, saying he “essentially” fired him, adding, “What’s he done for me?” Trump also suggested even though he dodged the draft, “I think I would have been a good general, but who knows?”
  86. Trump again took credit for falling oil prices, falsely claiming his calls to leaders were the reason for the fall, “I called up certain people, and I said let that damn oil and gasoline — you let it flow, the oil.”
  87. Trump also took a swipe at Democrats for calling his wall immoral, saying, “Then we have to do something about the Vatican, because the Vatican has the biggest wall of them all.”
  88. Trump also complained that Democrats left D.C. over the holiday, saying “I was here on Christmas evening. I was all by myself in the White House — it’s a big, big house — except for the guys on the lawn with machine guns.”
  89. Trump falsely claimed there were 35 million immigrants illegally in the U.S. In 2016, Pew Research estimated 10.7 million, and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen told Congress there were between 11 and 22 million last week.
  90. Trump described the recent stock market downturn in late 2018 as a “glitch,” saying the markets will soar again on the strength of his trade deals.
  91. Trump also addressed Romney’s op-ed, saying “They say I am the most popular president in the history of the Republican Party,” and adding Romney is not a “team player.”
  92. Trump claimed he could have any government job and be the “most popular person” in Europe, despite a recent poll showing just 16% think he would “do the right thing in world affairs,” down from 84% for Obama.
  93. Trump also defended pulling troops from Afghanistan giving an inaccurate and incomplete account: “Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan.”
  94. Several cabinet members interjected praise for Trump, including Vice President Pence who thanked him for his strong stand on border security, and Secretary Nielsen who said “now more than ever we need the wall.”
  95. Acting AG Matthew Whitaker added, “Sir, Mr. President, I will start by highlighting the fact that you stayed” in D.C., giving up Christmas and New Year’s with your family while “some members of Congress went on vacation.”
  96. On Wednesday, Whitaker had breakfast with former AG Ed Meese, who told an AP reporter Whitaker said U.S. Attorney John Huber is continuing to investigate FBI-related concerns raised in the last year by GOP lawmakers.
  97. Huber is investigating FBI surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, and whether the FBI should have done more to investigate the Clinton Foundation. The DOJ has provided no public updates on his work.
  98. Later, Trump held a meeting with Congressional leaders to discuss the government shutdown. Axios reportedTrump chose the Situation Room as a location as a way to dramatize security concerns at the border.
  99. On Wednesday, Apple lowered its first quarter guidance. CEO Tim Cook cited lower-than-anticipated revenue in China following the trade tensions between the U.S. and China resulting from the trade war.
  100. On Thursday, the Dow Jones tumbled more than 600 points, amid Apple’s shares plunging 10%, a weaker-than-expected manufacturing monthly number, and rising fears of an economic slowdown.
  101. On Thursday, the Treasury Department released numbers showing the U.S. national debt reached a record $22 trillion at the end of 2018, more than $2 trillion higher than when Trump took office.
  102. On Thursday, with Pelosi set to be sworn in as Speaker of the 116th Congress, she told “TODAY” in an interview that she will not rule out indicting Trump, despite Justice Department guidelines against it.
  103. On impeachment, Pelosi said, “We have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report. We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason,” and on funding for Trump’s wall, “No, no. Nothing for the wall.”
  104. Asked about Trump criticizing her vacation in Hawaii during the shutdown, Pelosi said Trump “may not know this, but Hawaii is part of the United States of America; maybe he doesn’t realize that.”
  105. Pelosi will reclaim the House Speaker gavel she last had from 2007 until eight years ago. When the NYT asked Pelosi whether she considers herself Trump’s equal, she responded, “the Constitution does.”
  106. The 116th Congress sworn in Thursday is the most racially diverse and most female group of representatives ever elected to the House, after an election dubbed the “Year of the Woman.”
  107. The freshman class included historic firsts, including the first two Native American women and first two Muslim American women, as well as several who are the first African-American women elected in their states.
  108. The diversity was only on the Democratic side, where 60% of the incoming class is women. The Republican freshman class included just two women in the House and two in the Senate, and just one person of color.
  109. Pelosi took her speaker’s oath surrounded by scores of children who were her family members and family members of the incoming class, saying, “I now call the House to order on behalf of all of America’s children.”
  110. On Thursday, shortly after Pelosi spoke, Trump convened an impromptu news conference, his first in the White House briefing room. CNN and Fox News broke away from other coverage; MSNBC did only for a short time.
  111. Trump stood alongside notably all white male border patrol agents to give his standard message about immigration and border patrol, delivered no new news, and left after without taking any questions from reporters.
  112. On Thursday, Trump posted a “Game of Thrones”-style image similar to the one of the table in the cabinet meeting Wednesday, which read “THE WALL IS COMING” on his official Instagram page.
  113. On Thursday, Trump tweeted an image from conservative outlet The Daily Wire that read “Warren 1/2020th,” a reference to DNA results, after Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her 2020 presidential run.
  114. On Thursday, in the evening, the House voted to reopen the government without giving Trump any money for his wall. A handful of House Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the bill.
  115. When reporters asked Pelosi if she would accept “even a dollar” for Trump’s wall, she joked “A dollar? A dollar? Yeah, one dollar,” adding, “We are not doing a wall. So that’s that.
  116. On Thursday, at a MoveOn rally in the evening near Capitol Hill, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the two freshman Muslim American women told the crowd, “‘We’re going to go in there and impeach the motherfucker.”
  117. On Friday, Trump tweeted “How do you impeach a president who has won perhaps the greatest election of all time,” and “had the most successful first two years of any president, and is the most popular Republican.”
  118. Trump also asserted, without evidence, “no Collusion with Russia, it was the Dems that Colluded.” The grounds for impeachment are “high crimes and misdemeanors,” and not related to job performance or popularity.
  119. Trump continues to take credit for stock market gains and positive economic announcements, while blaming others including the Fed Chair, the Treasury Secretary, and Democrats for bad news.
  120. On Friday, Trump blamed Thursday’s stock market sell-off on Democrats, saying in a tweet he had warned that “if the Democrats take over the House or Senate, there will be disruption to the Financial Markets.”
  121. On Friday, when asked by the moderator at the American Economic Association’s annual meeting, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he would not resign if Trump asked him to.
  122. On Friday, press secretary Sanders, speaking to reporters outside the White House, falsely claimed CBP picked up nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists “that came across our southern border” last year.
  123. According to DOJ public records and two former counterterrorism officials who spoke to NBC News, not a single immigrant has been arrested at the southwest border on terrorism charges in recent years.
  124. Also, a head of Trump’s meeting with Congressional leaders Friday, the White House issued a misleading statement: “3,775 known or suspected terrorists [were] prevented from traveling or entering the U.S.” in 2017.
  125. WAPO reported the DOJ also acknowledged errors and deficiencies in a controversial report issued in January 2018, which implied a link between terrorism and immigration, but again refusing to correct or retract it.
  126. The report was written in compliance with Trump’s March 2017 executive order to justify his Muslim ban. Critics expressed alarm at highly misleading data without context, and sued for corrections or retraction.
  127. For example, the DOJ claimed between 2003 and 2009, immigrants were convicted of 69,929 sex offenses.The offenses actually spanned a period from 1955 to 2010–55 years, according to GAO date.
  128. On Friday, sitting congressman and Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz co-hosted the Fox News show “Outnumbered.”
  129. On Friday, The Daily Beast reported Trump kicked off the meeting with Congressional leaders with a 15-minute long, profanity-laced rant including a demand for a wall, saying the word “fuck” at least three times.
  130. Pelosi and Schumer urged Trump to reopen the government, saying he was holding the government hostage.Trump responded, “I’m not going to say it’s for leverage, but I’m not going to get a deal unless I do this.”
  131. Trump threatened to keep the government closed for “years” if that is what it took to get his wall. Trump also said he did not want to call the partial government shutdown a “shutdown,” but rather to use the term “strike.”
  132. Trump also blamed Pelosi for Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s comments, and telling the leaders he was too popular to impeach. Trump also then reportedly apologized to Pelosi for cursing so much in the meeting.
  133. After the meeting, Trump spoke to the press in the Rose Garden. In a rambling, hour-long news conference,Trump asserted he had the power to declare a national emergency to build the wall without Congress.
  134. Trump also said the government would stay closed until he got funding for his wall, and claimed, without providing evidence, that previous presidents have told him they wished they had built a wall themselves.
  135. Trump offered no empathy for federal workers, saying the “safety net is going to be having a strong border because we’re going to be safe,” and landlords would “work with” them and be “nice and easy.”
  136. Trump also offered the possibility that the shutdown would not end, “We’ll see what happens. It may get solved; it may not get solved.” Senate Leader Mitch McConnell was silent in the meeting, and did not attend the press briefing.
  137. When asked about comments by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Trump told reporters “I thought her comments were disgraceful,” adding he thought her remarks “dishonored” the country.
  138. On Friday, Leader McConnell took to the Senate floor and took the unusual position that the shutdown fight was between Trump and the Democrats. Republicans facing tough 2020 re-elections are speaking out.
  139. On Friday, Politico reported that contrary to Trump’s claims in the news conference, former presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama did not confide in him that they regretted not building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
  140. WAPO reported while federal workers go without pay, senior members of the Trump regime, includingcabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries, and Vice President Mike Pence will get a roughly $10,000 raise as of January 5.
  141. WAPO reported the shutdown has put further strain on the immigration system, as employees at the borderare working but not getting paid, and judges and clerks in backlogged immigration courts have been sent home.
  142. Agents are taking an average of more than 2,000 migrants per day into custody. With nowhere to detain them, the Trump regime is releasing hundreds onto the streets in El Paso, Yuma, and other border cities.
  143. Also, while the Trump regime has threatened to crack down on companies that hire unauthorized workers, the shutdown has crippled the main compliance tool for employers to make sure they are following the law.
  144. On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham told Fox News host Sean Hannity if Trump gives in on funding for his wall, “that’s the end of 2019, in terms of him being” effective in office, and “probably the end of his presidency.”
  145. NBC News reported the shutdown is jeopardizing the welfare of some of the poorest families and the elderly. Most of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s enforcement activities have been suspended.
  146. Public housing officials are concerned about rental assistance payments from the government — a suspension could put millions of tenants at risk if the shutdown continues to February.
  147. On Friday, CNN reported that hundreds of Transportation Security Administration officers, who are required to work without pay during the shutdown, have called out sick at four major U.S. airports.
  148. Some of the reasons given for calling in sick include parents cannot afford child care without a paycheck, and workers finding cash-paying jobs outside of the government to pay their rent and other bills.
  149. The TSA is bracing for more call outs next week, and are working closely to rearrange scheduling to maintain normal wait times in security lines, and well as manage concerns about the safety of air travel.
  150. On Friday, WAPO reported the Trump regime, which had not anticipated a long-term shutdown, recognized only this week the breadth of the potential impact of keeping the government closed.
  151. Thousands of federal programs are affected by the shutdown, including food stamps for 38 million low-income Americans, which would start to run of funding in February. Grocers and retailers would also be hurt.
  152. The White House has not briefed lawmakers on the expanding consequences of a continuing shutdown, leading to confusion. Economists warn of the impact to the economy with a drop-off in spending.
  153. On Friday, Mary Mayhew, the director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services who joined the regime in October 2018, resigned to join the incoming Florida governor’s office.
  154. On Saturday, Trump took a combative tone in a series of tweets. Trump complained about the media coverage: “Washington Post and NBC reporting of events, including Fake sources, has been very inaccurate.”
  155. Trump also tweeted, “we need a WALL! In 2018, 1.7 million pounds of narcotics seized, 17,000 adults arrested with criminal records, and 6000 gang members,” adding, “A big Human Trafficking problem.”
  156. Trump also again referenced federal workers being Democrats, tweeting “I don’t care that most of the workers not getting paid are Democrats,” adding, “I am in the White House ready to go, where are the Dems?”
  157. Shortly after, Pence met with congressional aides for three hours. Pence did not have the okay to float a new or specific compromise number for the wall as he did last month with Schumer. No progress was made.
  158. WAPO reported Trump boasted in a call with friends Friday night that he was in a strong negotiating positionbecause he captured the attention of the political world, and said things his core voters appreciated.
  159. The government shutdown is now three weeks old, the second longest shutdown in history, with no end in sight. Trump is looking for optics to enhance his wall pitch, like visiting the border or meeting with sheriffs.
  160. On Saturday, Trump tweeted many people who oppose him, “including President Obama & the Dems” have had campaign violations, claiming, “While no big deal, I did not commit a campaign violation!
  161. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “‘Former @NYTimes editor Jill Abramson rips paper’s “unmistakably anti-Trump” bias,’” adding. “Hence the term Fake News, Enemy of the People, and Opposition Party!”
  162. Abramson told Politico, Fox News host Howard Kurtz in a report headlined, “Former NY Times editor rips Trump coverage as biased” took her book “totally out of context,” calling it an attempt to “Foxify my book.”