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…
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A sticker found in Orlando, Florida. 9Feb19. *(sic) familys = families

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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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THE LIST — weeks 1–52 of The Weekly List is out as a book! You can order your copy by clicking here.

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.

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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.”