POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 74: DOUCHES & DUNCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 62: THE SHITHEAD HAS TOLD OVER 2,000 LIES in 355 DAYS…THE USA IS SUFFERING

Week 61 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

January 13, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-61-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-1691307f33d5

This is the longest weekly list so far, and contains historic moments. Senator Dianne Feinstein released 300 pages of Fusion GPS testimony on the Steele dossier, days after her Republican colleagues had unilaterally issued the committee’s first criminal referral to the FBI, implicating Steele. Trump’s “shithole” countries statement prompted worldwide condemnation and questions of whether he is eroding US moral authority — while concerns about his fitness for office continued to swirl.

This week there were innumerable shocking and important developments, including proposed changes to Medicaid, exempting Florida from offshore drilling, and waiving fines for five megabanks, including Deutsche Bank — all of which, in a week of sheer bedlam, got little or no attention. Oprah Winfrey’s historic “a new day is on the horizon” speech at the Golden Globes, which captured the country’s attention Sunday night and prompted speculation of a possible presidential run, was a distant memory by Tuesday.

This week the featured art is from Loretto, a London-based street artist. *Not my photos. 

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  1. WAPO reported that Trump has made more than 2,000 false or misleading claims in his first 355 days in office — on average, 5.6 claims per day.
  2. The Twitter account for the House Committee on Natural Resources attacked outdoor apparel company Patagonia in a tweet with a graphic referring to the company as “lying” and “hiding.”
  3. On Sunday’s “State of the Union,” Jake Tapper cut off Stephen Miller, saying “There’s one viewer that you care about right now and you’re being obsequious,” adding “You’re being a factotum in order to please him.”
  4. Contradicting Trump regime talking points, Sebastian Gorka said he was told to cooperate with Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff, but said after meeting him in Reince Priebus’s office he got a bad feeling and did not. Steve Bannon was set to meet with Wolff after him.
  5. On Sunday, the same day as the Golden Globes, Trump delayed his “fake news awards” he has teased about on Twitter, adding interest had exceeded his expectations.
  6. On Sunday, in her speech accepting her Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes, Oprah spoke of being “inspired” by the women coming forward as part of #MeToo, and harkened “A new day is on the horizon.”
  7. In response to Trump’s fake news awards, the Committee to Protect Journalists announced their Press Oppressors awards. Trump won the category, “Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom” and was the runner-up in “Most Thin-skinned.”
  8. On Sunday, Axios reported according to a copy of his real schedule, Trump’s time in the Oval Office has shrunk to 11am to 6pm, then he’s back to the residence. During the day he also has blocks of “Executive Time.”
  9. According to a source, Axios reported Executive Time means TV and Twitter time alone in the residence. Trump schedule also lists 8 am to 11 am as Executive Time in the Oval Office, but most is spent at the residence.
  10. On Sunday, Trump tweeted then deleted a column in the NY Post which he incorrectly said referred to his “enormously consensual presidency.” He then tweeted a corrected form, “consequential presidency.”
  11. Trump also mistakenly linked to the email address of the author of the column, Michael Goodwin, rather than to the article.
  12. On Sunday, Bannon apologized for his role in Wolff’s book in a statement given to Axios — expressing “regret” to Trump, praising Donald Jr., and adding, “There was no collusion and the investigation is a witch hunt.”
  13. On Monday, CNN reported in early 2016, before Bannon and Trump became allies, a watchdog group led by Bannon tried to shop anti-Trump research alleging ties between Trump companies and organized crime.
  14. On Monday, Trump spokesman Hogan Gidley said the WH is not accepting Bannon’s apology over his attacks on Trump and his family, adding Jared Kushner and Ivanka are “sacrificing” for the nation.
  15. On Tuesday, Bannon stepped down as executive chairman of Breitbart over the controversy sparked by this remarks in the Wolff book. NYT reportedthe departure was forced by his one-time patron, Rebekah Mercer.
  16. On Monday, at a speech to the American Farm Bureau in Nashville, Trump told the crowd it was a privilege to have voted for him: “Oh, are you happy you voted for me? You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege.”
  17. Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Detroit ICE will proceed with deporting Yancarlos Mendez, a 27 year-old caregiver for a 6-year-old paraplegic boy. ICE says Mendez has overstayed his visit under a visa program.
  18. The County Sheriff in Williamson,TX is investigating a noose found on a campaign sign outside the home of a supporter of Democrat Christine Mann, who is running for Texas’ 31st congressional district.
  19. A federal judge in NJ lifted a decree dating back to 1982 which had barred the RNC from poll watching and other election day activities. Democrats had cited Sean Spicer’s presence in poll watching activities in their case.
  20. Joe Arpaio, the 85 year-old former sheriff with a history of racial profiling and mistreating immigrants, who in Week 41 was pardoned by Trump,announced he will run for the AZ senate seat vacated by Jeff Flake.
  21. On Monday, the Trump regime announced the end of the Temporary Protected Status permits for about 200,000 Salvadorans who have lived in the country since at least 2001, leaving them to face deportation.
  22. In Trump’s first year, arrests by ICE are up by 40%. Trump has also slashed the number of refugees accepted into the US to the lowest levels since 1980. Nearly 700,000 are also set to lose protection under DACA.
  23. Miami Herald reported Trump’s DHS is considering a new regulation that would prevent H-1B visa extensions for hundreds of thousands of workers, predominantly from India, who work in the technology field.
  24. ICE conducted pre-dawn raids on 98 7-Eleven stores across the country to check employees’ immigration status in one of the most sweeping probes taken against an employer under Trump. Twenty-one were arrested.
  25. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that while a legal challenge to ending the Obama-era DACA program proceeds, protections against deportation for the 690,000 Dreamers must stay in place.
  26. Also in the ruling, the judge said anyone who has DACA protection expiring can renew it. On Wednesday, the WH responded, calling the injunction “outrageous.” The Trump regime vowed to fight the ruling.
  27. Deyshia Hargrave, a Louisiana teacher, was handcuffed and forcibly removed from a school board meeting after questioning the superintendent’s pay raise. Hundreds of teachers, parents and officials rallied in her support.
  28. WAPO reported Renee Thole, a white social studies teacher in Ohio, told a 13 year-old black student that he would be lynched if he didn’t stop talking in class. Thole was reprimanded and sent for cultural sensitivity training.
  29. A panel of federal judges struck down NC’s congressional map saying it unconstitutionally gerrymandered, and demanded state Republicans redraw lines ahead of midterms. This is a first by federal courts.
  30. On Thursday, the Trump regime issued guidelines to states which will require people to work or prepare for jobs in order to receive Medicaid, the first time this requirement would exist in Medicaid’s half-century history.
  31. IBT reported during the Christmas holiday, the Trump regime quietly waived part of the punishment for five megabanks who were convicted and fined for manipulating global interest rates, including Deutsche Bank.
  32. NYT reported that the blueprint for what has become Trump’s energy policy looks similar to confidential memo by Robert Murray, CEO of coal company Murray Energy, who donated $300K to Trump’s inauguration.
  33. On Tuesday, the Trump regime granted an exception to the state of Florida for the announced plan to open offshore drilling off the US coastline in Week 60. Observers noted Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is located in FL.
  34. On Monday, Trump renominated K.T. McFarland for ambassador to Singapore. In Week 56, NYT reported on McFarland’s emails revealing she had knowledge of a crucial email exchange between Michael Flynn and Sergey Kislyak.
  35. On Monday, Trump renominated 21 judicial nominees, including two rated “not qualified” to be federal judges by the American Bar Association.
  36. WSJ reported Robert Weaver, Trump’s nominee to lead the troubled Indian Health Service, misrepresented his leadership roles and work experience at a Missouri hospital to a Senate sub-committee.
  37. On Monday, Trump nominated Marie Royce, wife of Republican Rep. Ed Royce from CA, to a senior State Department role.
  38. Also on Monday, Rep. Royce said he would retire. Royce became the eighth Republican committee chair to not seek re-election in November 2018.
  39. On Tuesday, another CA congressman, conservative attack dog Darrell Issa said he would not seek re-election. Trump’s unpopularity continues to weigh on Republicans, and many expect a blue wave in midterms.
  40. Second lady Karen Pence’s chief of staff, Kristan King Nevins, resigned.
  41. On Tuesday, CNN reported WH aides have been told to decide by the end of January if they plan to stay on through the November midterms. Chief of staff John Kelly is finding it difficult to replace top advisors who have already left.
  42. People in the WH say exhaustion for employees is magnified by the chaos and unpredictability under Trump. Potential and existing employees are also concerned about the ongoing Mueller probe and legal fees.
  43. Don McGahn, the WH counsel, and HR McMaster, Trump’s second NSA, are considering resigning. McGahn’s wife Shannon resigned from the Treasury Department in Week 60.
  44. Bloomberg reported Geoffrey Berman, Trump’s interim Southern District of NY AG, has longstanding business ties to Deutsche Bank starting when he worked for law firm Greenberg Traurig, and continuing until recently.
  45. A decade ago, Berman was brought in by Robert Khuzami, then general counsel for Deutsche’s US operations. Now, Berman has tapped Khuzamito be his deputy.
  46. Kirsten Gillibrand said she will use her “blue-slip,” which gives senators a way to block confirmation of nominees in their state, to block Berman, citing his conflicts of interest with Trump, including the fact that Trump interviewed him as part of the nomination process.
  47. On Monday, NBC News reported initial talks between Trump’s lawyers and Mueller are underway for Trump to be interviewed. A range of possibilities from handwritten responses to a formal sit-down are being discussed.
  48. Trump’s lawyers are seeking clarification on whether Trump would be interviewed by Mueller, legal standard, location, topics, and duration.Trump’s lawyers are trying to avoid an in-person interview.
  49. On Monday, WAPO reported Mueller is likely to seek an interview of Trump. A source said Mueller’s team could interview Trump in the next several weeks, saying “This is moving faster than anyone really realizes.”
  50. On Wednesday, at a press conference with Norwegian PM Erna Solberg, Trump again complained about Hillary Clinton and the FBI, saying “A lot of people looked on that as being a very serious breach, and it really was,” referring to a 2016 interview Clinton had with the FBI regarding her email server.
  51. Trump also said there was “no collusion” with Russia seven times. He called the Russian investigation a “phony cloud,” calling it a “Democratic hoax that was brought up as an excuse for losing the election.”
  52. Also at the press conference, Trump lauded the delivery of F-52s to Norway. No such plane exists, except in a popular video game.
  53. Also at the press conference, Trump deflected questions on whether he would do a sit-down interview with Mueller, saying “we’ll see what happens…it seems unlikely that you’d even have an interview.”
  54. On Friday, Bloomberg reported despite Trump’s statement, his lawyers and Mueller’s team are continuing talks about an interview. The next call will be next week, and working out the details could take several weeks.
  55. BuzzFeed reported the biography for Joseph Mifsud, the professor who met with George Papadopoulos and told him the Russians had dirt on Hillary, was removed from the website at the university in Italy where works.
  56. BuzzFeed reported the Trump regime is seeking a broad reset with Russia in 2018, setting up numerous high-level engagements with the Russian government, the first such meetings since the Ukraine crisis in 2013.
  57. Daily Beast reported in February 2017, Kevin Harrington, a senior official for strategic planning on Trump’s NSC, proposed withdrawing US forces Eastern Europe as an overture to Putin.
  58. On Tuesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee released the senate testimony of Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS, breaking with her Republican colleague, committee chair Chuck Grassley.
  59. The release reflects a growing partisan divide: in Week 60, Sens. Grassley and Lindsey Graham made the committee’s first criminal referral against Steele without consulting Democrats, including Feinstein, the ranking member.
  60. Feinstein stated, “The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice.”
  61. Feinstein also noted, “to my knowledge, there is not a single fact that’s proven to be incorrect” in the dossier.
  62. A spokesperson for Grassley said Feinstein’s action “undermines the integrity of the committee’s oversight work and jeopardizes its ability to secure candid voluntary testimony.”
  63. Republican Sen Sen. John Cornyn, also on the committee, broke from Grassley saying, “I respect Chairman Grassley, and I don’t really understand how this happened, but I do think more transparency is important.”
  64. The transcript indicates that Steele first reached out to the FBI in July 2016, because, according to Simpson’s testimony, Steele felt there was a crime in progress, “He said he was professionally obligated to do it,”
  65. According to Simpson’s testimony, Steele was concerned that Trump could be blackmailed by the Russians over an alleged 2013 sexual escapadebelieved to have been recorded at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Moscow,
  66. Based on the transcript, when the FBI met with Steele in September 2016 for a full debriefing in Rome, the bureau already knew about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
  67. Per the transcript, and as reported by the NYT in Week 60, an Australian diplomat had informed the FBI about his conversation with Papadopoulos regarding Hillary’s hacked emails, and an investigation was opened.
  68. Republicans have in recent weeks sought to discredit the Trump-Russia probe by diminishing the credibility of Steele and the dossier, thought to be the original source of the FBI investigation. This appears to be false.
  69. Steele ended contact with the FBI after a front-page story at the NYT on October 31, 2016 said the FBI found no conclusive link between Trump and Russia. This was inaccurate reporting — the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation began in July 2016.
  70. But after the NYT story, Simpson testified, “There was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people and that we didn’t really understand what was going on.”
  71. Simpson testified when he started doing his research on Trump, he was struck by Trump’s many connections to people linked to Russian organized crime, and his frequent travel to Russia.
  72. At the time Simpson was working for Steele, he was also working at a New York law firm with Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin on another case; but Simpson was not aware at the time of the June 9 Trump Tower meeting.
  73. Simpson also testified that based on his research, Trump is not as rich as he appears to be, saying Trump has a lot of questionable business entanglements which should be investigated.
  74. Fusion GPS lawyer Joshua Levy claimed in the transcript someone has already been killed “as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work.”
  75. On Wednesday, Trump attacked “Sneaky Dianne Feinstein,” who he falsely claimed had on “numerous occasions stated that collusion between Trump/Russia has not been found,” and calling the release “a disgrace.”
  76. On Tuesday, Michael Cohen filed lawsuit in federal court against Fusion GPS and BuzzFeed, claiming the dossier contains “false and defamatory” allegations that harmed his reputation and business interests.
  77. Politico reported Republicans are ramping up scrutiny of DOJ and FBI officials’ contacts with the media. Experts raised concern that the effort is meant to intimidate officials and chill investigative reporting.
  78. On Wednesday, Sen. Ben Cardin released a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff report detailing two decades of Putin’s attackson democratic institutions, universal values, and the rule of law across Europe and the US.
  79. The report includes 30 recommendations, and says that the US remainsvulnerable to Russia’s aggressive and sophisticated malign influence operations without unequivocal leadership from Trump.
  80. On Friday, the Des Moines Register reported Grassley faced relentless questioning about Trump’s fitness for office and his own handling of the Russia investigation at a rural town meeting Friday morning.
  81. WAPO reported that Mueller’s team added a veteran cyber prosecutor to his team in early November. Ryan Dickey was assigned from the DOJ’s computer crime and intellectual-property section.
  82. Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska again sued Paul Manafort and Rick Gates in a NY court for more than $25 million in damages over a failed business deal. The new suit cites Manafort and Gates’ recent indictments in the Mueller probe.
  83. On Thursday, Daily Beast reported Bannon hired attorney Bill Burck of the firm Quinn Emanuel as he prepares to be questioned by the House Intelligence Committee in the Trump-Russia probe, possibly next week.
  84. Burck also represents McGahn and Priebus. Experts say having three Trump insiders represented by the same attorney may irk investigators over concern they are coordinating their stories.
  85. Politico reported Mueller is seeking a May 14 trial date for Manafort and Gates. In a new report, the special counsel says they’ve produced 590k electronic items, considerable more than the 400k last reported.
  86. AP reported hacking group Fancy Bear, who infiltrated the 2016 US election, is now laying the groundwork for an espionage campaign against the US Senate, according to a cybersecurity firm report issued Friday.
  87. US intelligence believes the Russia’s military intelligence service is behind Fancy Bear’s activities. Several other democracies and the upcoming Olympics, from which Russia has been excluded, have also been targeted.
  88. Despite Trump’s pledge not to expand overseas while in office, Trump Towers made its debut in north India — 250 ultra luxury residences under a brand license from the Trump Organization.
  89. In a letter, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee called on the committee’s chair to subpoena the Trump Organization for documents detailing payments from foreign governments received during 2017.
  90. BuzzFeed reported that since the 1980s, Trump has sold more than 1,300 condos to shell companies, and that the purchases were made without a mortgage — signals of possible money laundering per the Treasury Department.
  91. BuzzFeed’s analysis revealed 21% of the 6,400 condos sold by Trump in the US, yielding $1.5 billion in sales, fit this pattern. Sales of these type surged in the late 2000s and early 2010s, when Trump was in financial trouble.
  92. At the Trump SoHo, 77% of condo sales were to shell companies that paid cash. In The Weekly List, Felix Sater, who has ties to Russian organized crime and is under scrutiny by Mueller, worked on the Trump SoHo deal.
  93. USA Today reported Trump’s companies sold $35 million of real estate in 2017, 70% of which went to LLCs or other unnamed buyers. In the two years prior to Trump’s nomination, 4% of sales went to such buyers.
  94. NYT reported that Kushner Companies’ financial ties to Israel have deepened with Kushner’s role in the Trump regime. Menora Mivtachim, Israel’s largest financial institutions, recently invested $30 million in a Kushner Cos. apartment complex in MD.
  95. In addition to Menora transaction, Kushner Cos. also has deals with Israel’s wealthiest families and a large Israeli bank that is the subject of a US criminal investigation. Abbe D. Lowell, Kushner’s attorney, said Kushner is not involved with the deals.
  96. WSJ reported the Securities and Exchange Commission launched a probe into the Kushner Companies’ use of the EB-5 visa program in May 2017. The probe is in collaboration with the Brooklyn’s US attorney’s office, which also subpoenaed the company.
  97. On Monday, the five member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, four of whom were appointed by Trump, unanimously rejected Energy Secretary Perry’s proposal to prop up nuclear and coal power plants in competitive electricity markets.
  98. WSJ reported as South Korea and North Korea resume diplomacy and prepare to meet, Trump is considering a limited strike against North Korea, known as a “bloody nose” strategy. Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis are trying to hold him back.
  99. On Tuesday, North Korea agreed to send athletes to the February Winter Olympics in South Korea, a symbolic breakthrough. In Week 56, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and UN ambassador Nikki Haley said it was uncertain if the US would attend.
  100. The Guardian reported that according to a draft of a policy review, the Trump regime plans to loosen constraints on the use of nuclear weaponsand develop more usable nuclear warheads.
  101. UK media reported Trump canceled his planned trip to the UK to open the new US embassy in London, amid fears he won’t be welcome. Trump is also unhappy about the lack of “bells and whistles,” and not being able to meet the Queen.
  102. Late night Thursday, Trump tweeted the reason he canceled the trip is because Obama “sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts.”” The new location was actually picked under George W. Bush.
  103. Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, issued a statement saying Trump’s visit would be met with “mass peaceful protests,” adding Trump “is not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda.”
  104. At his first press conference, Trump’s ambassador to the Netherlands was peppered with questions about false claims he made in 2015 about chaos that the “Islamic movement” to the country. Ambassador Peter Hoekstra couldn’t answer.
  105. On Tuesday, seemingly to refute Wolff’s book accusations of his being mentally unfit, Trump hosted a televised negotiation meeting on DACA which included a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
  106. When asked, Trump said, contrary to his prior statements, he would support a “clean” bill protecting dreamers, and take up comprehensive immigration reform later. GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy then corrected him.
  107. By the end of the meeting, Trump seemed to indicate that his Wall was not a must have for him. Later Tuesday, he reversed himself, tweeting he made clear today that the Wall “must be part of any DACA approval.”
  108. On Tuesday, Rep. Brendan Boyle introduced the “Stable Genius Act” which would require presidential candidates to take a mental health exam.
  109. On Wednesday, Trump welcomed the media to his first cabinet meeting of 2018, saying, “Welcome back to the studio.”
  110. At the cabinet meeting, Trump announced a push for new federal libel laws as part of his 2018 agenda: “our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace,” and people should have “meaningful recourse.”
  111. Trump also complained to reporters about their coverage of his DACA meeting Tuesday, saying news anchors were complimentary — even sending Trump letters telling him so — before network bosses weighed in.
  112. On Thursday at 7:33 am, ahead of a planned House vote, Trump ripped the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act , which his own WH had publicly supported the day before, tweeting the bill might be have been used to spy on his campaign.
  113. On Thursday at 9:14 am, Trump changed course and tweeted to reaffirm his support for the bill, saying “today’s vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it! Get smart!”
  114. Trump’s first tweet appeared around the time of a Fox & Friends segment in which Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano railed against the bill. The on-screen graphic read, “House votes on controversial FISA act today.”
  115. NBC News reported that in between the tweets, Kelly raced to Trump to explain the situation and compose the second tweet. Kelly then rushed to Capitol Hill to ensure wavering lawmakers. The bills passed handily.
  116. Newsweek reported that Trump speaks at a fourth-grade level, the worst vocabulary of any modern US leader according to Factbase, which analyzed the first 30,000 words each leader spoke while in office.
  117. A Quinnipiac poll grading Trump’s first year in office found 39% gave him an “F,”17% a “D,” 11% a “C,” 16% a “B,” and 16% an “A.” The poll also found 69–28 he is not level-headed, and 57–40 he is not fit to serve.
  118. WAPO reported a Koch-backed group called The Libre Institute is launching new outreach programs targeting hundreds-of-thousands of Puerto Ricans moving to FL and other states, ahead of the 2018 election.
  119. A year after Trump and Pence touted Carrier Corp in their plan to save American jobs, the company announced new layoffs at its factory in Indianapolis, bringing the headcount there of workers down from 1,600 to 1,100.
  120. NBC News reported, based on information obtained through the FOIA, 40 federal workplace safety inspectors in OSHA have departed since Trump took office, and as of October 2, 2016, none had been replaced.
  121. On Thursday, WAPO reported at a meeting to discuss protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries, Trump said, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
  122. Instead, Trump suggested the US should bring in more people from countries such as Norway. Trump also reportedly singled out people from Haiti, saying, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.
  123. The meeting was originally to discuss a bipartisan immigration deal with Sen. Richard Durbin and Lindsey Graham. Trump also invited GOP immigration hardliners Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue, and Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Bob Goodlatte, and Mario Díaz-Balart.
  124. On Friday morning, Trump tweeting a vague denial saying he did not use the term “shithole,” but acknowledged he used “tough” language during the negotiations.
  125. At Friday morning news conference, Durbin, the only Democrat in the room, described Trump’s words as “hate filled, vile, and racist,” adding Trump “said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly.”
  126. Graham issued a statement saying “I said my piece directly to him yesterday,” but not confirming whether Trump used the word “shithole.” Speaker Paul Ryan called Trump’s remarks, “unhelpful” and “unfortunate.”
  127. On Friday, Trump followed through with a pre-scheduled news conference at which he said, before signing the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day proclamation, “Congratulations to him and to everybody.”
  128. After Trump signed the proclamation and was leaving the room, reporter April Ryan shouted the question, “Mr. President, are you a racist?” Trump did not respond.
  129. Two of the Republicans senators in the room, Cotton and Perdue, said in a statement they “do not recall” Trump saying those comments specifically.
  130. White supremacist Richard Spencer defended Trump, and neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer celebrated Trump’s comments saying he is “more or less on the same page with us.”
  131. World leaders and activists spoke out against Trump’s comments. Several countries called in US ambassadors for an explanation. The African Union Mission expressed its “infuriation, disappointment and outrage.”
  132. The African group of ambassadors to the UN said in a statement they were “appalled” and condemned Trump’s “outrageous, racist and xenophobic remarks.” They demanded “a retraction and an apology.”
  133. Rep. Cedric Richmond, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee,announced they will introduce a censure resolution next week for Trump’s remarks.
  134. Rep. John Lewis announced he will skip Trump’s State of the Union, saying “I cannot in all good conscience be in a room with what he has said about so many Americans.”
  135. On Friday, WSJ reported Trump lawyer Michael Cohen arranged a $130K payment to Stephanie Clifford, an adult-film star, in October 2016 to silence her from speaking about her sexual encounter with Trump.
  136. Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels, has privately alleged the encounter took place at a July 2006 celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, months after Melania had given birth to Barron Trump.
  137. Clifford was set to go on “Good Morning America” in the fall of 2016 to discuss her relationship with Trump, but the National Enquirer agreed to pay her $150K for her story — which the paper then buried.
  138. On Saturday, residents of Hawaii received an emergency alert on their mobile devices and television screens, warning of a “ballistic missile threat inbound” and telling them to “seek immediate shelter.” The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said the alert was sent in error.

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 46: TSAR WARS

Week 45 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

September 23, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-45-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-bf4226b63a4e

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Photo I took of a t-shirt through a shop window in Budapest, Hungary. September 2017
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Artist Subdude. London, England. September 2017
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London, England 09/17
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Artist Subdude. London, England 09/17

Week 45 is the week of Paul Manafort — who now in retrospect, seems an even more odd choice by Trump for campaign manager. As Mueller zeroes in on Manafort and Flynn, almost every Trump campaign and WH staffers, past and present, is being drawn in to the expanding Russia probe. This week several regime members drew heat for unrepentant kleptocracy.

This week DHS informed 21 states they were targeted by Russia, strangely a year later and on a late afternoon on Friday. Trump, who benefitted from a slight approval rating reprieve courtesy of positive media coverage, continues to deny Russian involvement and to act erratically and unbefitting of the office on both foreign policy and domestic issues. Trump also continues to ignore what is shaping up to be a humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico.

  1. In a series of bizarre Sunday morning tweets, Trump referred to Kim Jong Un as the “Rocket Man,” retweeted a criticism of a NYT story, and retweeted two of his own tweets.
  2. Trump also retweeted a GIF of him hitting Hillary with a golf ball in the head, sparking criticism for the violent imagery against a female political opponent. Elected Republicans remained silent.
  3. The original account of the golf GIF was @Fuctupmind, whose Twitter feed is full of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ tweets.
  4. Trump began his first UN remarks by mentioning Trump World Tower, “I actually saw great potential right across the street to be honest with you.”
  5. Trump threatened to “totally destroy” N. Korea, and using his new nickname for Kim Jong Un, said, “Rocket man is on a suicide mission.” N. Korea’s ambassador walked out before Trump’s speech started.
  6. Trump also said, “I will always put America first,” and urged other leaders to do the same. Several analysts compared Trump’s speech to the 1920’swhen traditionalist reacted to changing times by stoking hate of others.
  7. WAPO’s Asia Pacific reporter noted Kim Jong Un’s regime tells N. Korean people every day that the US “wants to destroy them and their country. Now, they will hear it from another source” — Trump.
  8. On Wednesday, in an escalating war of words, N. Korea’s foreign minister likened Trump to a “dog barking.
  9. On Thursday, while threatening escalation, Kim Jong Un called Trump a “mentally deranged US dotard.” N. Korea analysts noted it is unprecedented to have Kim Jong Un himself directly attack a US leader.
  10. On Friday, the LA Times reported aides repeatedly warned Trump not to deliver a personal attack on Kim Jong Un at his UN speech, saying insults could irreparably escalate tensions.
  11. Pew Research reported America’s image has suffered since Trump took office. In a survey spanning 37 nations, just 22% have confidence Trump is doing the right thing in international affairs, versus 64% for Obama.
  12. As tensions rise with N. Korea, 76% of S. Koreans and 72% of Japanese say they have no confidence in Trump to do the right thing in world affairs.
  13. Trump also blasted Iranian leaders as a “corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy,” and said “the Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions,” and an “embarrassment” to the US.
  14. On Friday, Iran showed off its new ballistic missile at a military parade in Tehran. President Rouhani said, “when it comes to defending our country, we will ask nobody for their permission.”
  15. At a bilateral meeting, Trump praised Turkey’s authoritarian leader Erdogan, saying: “We have a great friendship.” Erdogan is the subject of international condemnation for his brutal crackdown on dissidents.
  16. State authorities in NH are investigating the wounding of an 8 year-old biracial boy as a possible hate crime. The boy was pushed off a picnic table with a rope around his neck by teenagers.
  17. US Army recruiters are canceling contracts with hundreds of immigrant recruits, exposing some to deportation. Recruiters claim the move is to eliminate onerous background investigations from the enlistment process.
  18. Newsweek reported white supremacists are recruiting on college campuses. At University of Houston, flyers reading “Beware the International Jew” and “Imagine a Muslim-Free America” were hung around campus.
  19. McClatchy reported the Trump regime is considering a policy which would fast-track the deportation of thousands of unaccompanied Central American teenagers who arrived at the southern border.
  20. More than 150k children who arrived at the southern border, escaping violence and poverty in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, would be sent back when they turn 18, without seeing an immigration judge first.
  21. NPR reported parents traveling within Texas to a hospital to get their two-month old a lifesaving operation were arrested and put into deportation proceedings. A hospital nurse may have tipped border patrol off.
  22. Under Obama, immigration agents avoided enforcement actions at hospitals, schools and churches. The Trump regime rounds up people in the country illegally at those places, even if they have no criminal record.
  23. Guardian reported Trump has assembled the most male-dominated government in decades, with 80% of nominations for top jobs in the Trump regime going to men.
  24. On Friday, DeVos formally rescinded Obama-era policies campus sexual assault meant to protect victims, instead siding with men’s rights advocates. No formal policy was put in place, just a higher burden of proof.
  25. WSJ reported as Trump’s temporary travel ban expired Friday, DHS may replace it with a targeted approach that will impact nine countries, only one of which is not majority Muslim. Trump has no business interests in the six already on the list, it is uncertain about the additional three.
  26. A triathlon scheduled to take place at Trump National golf course in NC, originally named “Tri at the Trump” then rebranded “Tri for Good,” was canceled amid controversy. This would have been the race’s fourth year.
  27. WJAR-TV, one of RI’s most watched television stations, said it is being forced by its owner Sinclair Broadcast Group to broadcast multiple programs favorable to Trump.
  28. AP reported the Republican Governors Associations quietly set up a media outlet, “The Free Telegraph.” Critics called the website, which makes no mention of a being a product of an official party committee, propaganda.
  29. On Monday, Trump said he was looking into staging a military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue for July 4th.
  30. On Wednesday, in a speech at a lunch with African leaders, Trump praised the health care of Nambia, a nonexistent African country.
  31. Nicaragua announced it will sign on to the Paris climate accord — leaving only Syria and the US outside it.
  32. Trump blocked a woman with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on Twitter. Laura Packard had tweeted Graham-Cassidy would jeopardize the lives of people like her who rely on Obamacare exchanges for coverage.
  33. AP reported lawmakers across the country introduced dozens of bills this year which would close or limit public access to a wide range of government records and meetings.
  34. The Trump regime has removed links to taxpayer-funded climate data on the U.S. Geological Survey website. A search for “Effects of Climate Change” had 2,825 items in December and today has zero items.
  35. WAPO reported that in a memo to Trump, Interior Sec Zinke is recommending modifying 10 national monuments created by Obama, including shrinking the boundaries of at least four.
  36. Justice Gorsuch campaigned for McConnell in a speech in McConnell’s hometown on Thursday. In Week 21, McConnell passed the filibuster-ending “nuclear option” that allowed Gorsuch to get confirmed.
  37. WAPO reported Democrats are introducing The Hotel Act, legislation which would ban federal officials from using taxpayer fund for travel expenses at Trump-owned properties or locales.
  38. POLITICO reported HHS Sec Price used a private-jet for travel, breaking precedent. Price has been an outspoken critic of federal spending, and has developed a plan for department-wide savings at HHS.
  39. POLITICO also reported Price traveled by private by private plane at least 24 times since early May, costing taxpayers more than $300k. Many flights were to conferences, so dates were known well in advance.
  40. The most frequent justification for chartered flights is lack of comparable options. POLITICO found several commercial flight options at comparable times for five chartered flights Price took last week.
  41. WAPO reported according to a senior administration official, the WH did not approve Price’s travel on chartered planes.
  42. On Friday, WAPO reported the HHS Inspector General is investigating Price’s use of two dozen chartered flights in recent months.
  43. ABC reported Treasury Dept investigators are also looking into a charter flight Mnuchin took from NY to DC on August 15 at a cost to taxpayers of $25k. There are ample flight and rail alternatives available for this route.
  44. For a third time, Republicans in the Senate tried to pass healthcare without using regular order or trying for any bi-partisan support. McCain’s vote against these tactics will likely cause Graham-Cassidy to fail.
  45. The Trump regime continued to sabotage Obamacare: HHS announced it will shut down the @HHSgov website for 12 hours during all but one Sunday in the remaining six weeks of open enrollment season.
  46. Jeff Mateer, Trump’s nominee for a federal judgeship in Texas, in two 2015 speeches, described transgender children are evidence of “Satan’s plan,” and lamented that states were banning conversion therapy.
  47. WAPO reported the EPA has spent $833k on Pruitt’s round-the-clock personal security detail over the past three months, doubling what was spent by his predecessors, and amid massive cost cutting for the agency.
  48. According to a copy of his schedule obtained by WAPO, Pruitt met regularly with executives from the auto, mining and fossil fuel industries — in some cases shortly before making decisions favorable to them.
  49. POLITICO reported a review of Trump’s pick for USDA hires reveals the agency is full of campaign staff and volunteers, many of whom have little or no federal policy experience or knowledge about agriculture.
  50. Trump’s picks are also being paid above their pay scale. One former truck driver is being paid the highest levels on the federal government’s pay scale, a GS-12, earning $80k annually, although he has no college degree.
  51. Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo said he will need to liquidate part of his children’s college fund to pay for specialized legal representation in the Mueller Russia probe.
  52. Flynn’s siblings launched a legal-defense fund to help defray the costs of the Russia probe. The family will not disclose the identity of donors, raising concerns from ethics experts.
  53. Reuters reported Trump is using money donated to his re-election campaign and the RNC to pay for his legal fees related to the Russia probe.
  54. CNN reported the RNC spent $231k in August to cover Trump’s legal fees, paying personal attorneys Sekulow $131k and Dowd $100k.
  55. The RNC has also payed nearly $200k of Donald Jr.’s legal fees for the Russia probe in August.
  56. WSJ reported the Republican Party is funding Trump’s legal defense in the Russia probe with help from a handful of wealthy individuals, including a Ukrainian-born American with close business ties to Russian oligarchs.
  57. NYT reported Donald Jr. has decided to forego his Secret Service protection, citing he wants more privacy.
  58. Jody Hunt, Sessions’ chief-of-staff and Trump’s pick to be assistant AG of the DOJ’s Civil Division, was present at a key meeting between Sessions, Comey and Trump, at which Trump asked all but Comey to leave.
  59. Sessions new chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, said Mueller’s Russia probe is turning into a “witch hunt,” and said Rosenstein should “order Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation.”
  60. On Tuesday, Senate investigators canceled a meeting with Michael Cohen, saying he broke an agreement by releasing a statement and speaking to the media. NBC reports the committee will subpoena Cohen instead.
  61. Guardian reported on the eighth person at the June 9 Trump Tower meeting: Ikray “Ike” Kaveladze, saying he is an associate of some of Russia’s richest and most powerful people.
  62. Kaveladze was involved in the 2013 takeover of Stillwater Mining by Norilsk Nickel, a Russian mining firm owned by an associate of Putin — the first Russian company to take a majority stake in a US company. Kaveladze served on the new company’s board.
  63. NYT reported on two Trump lawyers, Cobb and Dowd, overheard by NYT reporters while discussing over lunch a clash within Trump’s legal team over how much to cooperate with Mueller.
  64. Per the overheard conversation, WH officials fear that colleagues are wearing wires for Mueller. NYT reported in the aftermath McGahn erupted at Cobb, and Kelly reprimanded him.
  65. CBS reported FBI surveillance of Manafort during 2016 picked up conversations between Manafort and Russians about the campaign, and may also include conversations between Manafort and Trump.
  66. WSJ reported Mueller’s team interviewed deputy AG Rosenstein about Trump’s firing of Comey in June or July. Mueller has independence on his investigation, but ultimately answers to Rosenstein.
  67. Rosenstein said Trump shrugged off any potential consequences for firing Comey. Rosenstein also turned over the May 8 memo from Trump which outlined his rationale for firing Comey, to Mueller’s team.
  68. CNN reported Manafort was wiretapped by the US government. The wiretap was first authorized by the special court that handles FISA warrants in 2014 when Manafort was the subject of a FBI investigation.
  69. The surveillance was discontinued late last year for lack of evidence, then restarted by the FBI under a new FISA warrant for ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, which extended into early 2017.
  70. NYT reported on aggressive tactics being employed by Mueller’s investigator against Manafort, including prosecutors telling him they planned to indict him as they searched his Virginia home.
  71. To get the search warrant, Mueller’s team had to show probable cause that Manafort’s home contained evidence of a crime. To pick the lock, prosecutors had to persuade a judge Manafort would destroy evidence.
  72. Also of note: Mueller’s team first learned of the emails between Donald Jr. and Russians to set up the June 9 meeting through NYT reporting.
  73. WAPO reported Mueller has requested extensive records and email correspondence from the WH for 13 categories which investigators for the special counsel have identified as critical to their probe.
  74. Mueller’s agents have zeroed in on Manafort and Flynn. Their past associates are being questioned on whether they tried to conceal consulting work that could have benefited foreign governments.
  75. NYT reported requests relate to the areas of Flynn’s hiring and firing, the Comey firing, and Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak at which he said the Comey firing has relieved “great pressure” on him.
  76. Documents are also sought for communications with Manafort, as well as Trump’s campaign foreign policy team: Carter Page, J. D. Gordon, Keith Kellogg, George Papadopoulos, Walid Phares and Joseph E. Schmitz.
  77. Other areas include Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak, Spicer’s statements on Comey’s firing, and the June 9 Trump Tower meeting and the WH response to that meeting.
  78. Axios reported Spicer’s colleagues say he filled “notebook after notebook” at meetings during the campaign and then at the WH. Spicer was known for keeping copious notes.
  79. When Axios’s Mike Allen texted Spicer for a comment, Spicer responded, “From a legal standpoint I want to be clear: Do not email or text me again. Should you do again I will report to the appropriate authorities.”
  80. WAPO reported that less than two weeks before the RNC Convention, Manafort made an offer in an email through an intermediary to give Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska a private briefing.
  81. Manafort and Deripaska had a business relationship in which Manafort was paid as an investment consultant. Deripaska is one of Russia’s richest men, and someone Putin turns to on a regular basis.
  82. Manafort emails indicate he may have been looking to get paid money owed by past clients using his role and influence as Trump’s campaign manager. An email in April asked, “How do we use to get whole?”
  83. Also of note, Deripaska claimed Manafort siphoned off $19mm of funds intended for investments— for which Deripaska sued in US court. It is possible Manafort was looking to wipe that debt away.
  84. Also in email, Manafort communicated with Konstantin Kilimnik, his long-time man in Kiev who attended Soviet military school, using code terms like “OVD” for Deripaska and “black caviar” for possible payments.
  85. NYT reported in order to help defray his legal expenses, Manafort is working for allies of the leader of Iraq’s Kurdish region on a referendum on Kurdish independence from Iraq. The US opposes the referendum.
  86. As part of that work, Manafort may leave the country and return to the region in the coming days for the vote.
  87. NYT reported New York-based law firm Skadden, Arps has been asked by the DOJ for documentation related to work arranged by Manafort for Viktor Yanukovych, the Russia-aligned former PM of Ukraine.
  88. The work was part of an effort to shield Yanukovych from international condemnation for his government prosecuting and convicting the former Ukrainian PM Tymoshenko without evidence and for political reasons.
  89. Skadden, Arps has returned half the $1.1mm in fees the firm received. It is unclear if the document request relates to Mueller’s Russia probe, and its focus on Manafort.
  90. Former Trump campaign manager Lewandowski, while defending Trump, said he hopes Manafort, Stone or any others on the campaign who colluded with Russia in 2016, “go to jail for the rest of their lives.
  91. Mueller brought in Stephen Kelly, fmr congressional affairs chief for the FBI, to act as a liaison to Capitol Hill. Kelly will be a point of contact and keep congressional investigators up to date on the special counsel’s probe.
  92. Twitter will meet with the Senate Intel Comm next week relating to the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the US election.
  93. Bowing to pressure from lawmakers and the public, Facebook will release 3k ads bought by a Russian agency to congressional investigators. Facebook also vowed to be more “transparent.”
  94. Daily Beast reported Russians used Facebook to organize more than a dozen pro-Trump rallies in Florida during the 2016 election. The page for one such group, “Being Patriotic,” was closed by Facebook in August 2017.
  95. On Friday morning, Trump defended Russia from Facebook ads as being a “Russia hoax,” while attacking Hillary, tweeting the greatest influence was “the Fake News Media “screaming” for Crooked Hillary Clinton.”
  96. USA Today reported, according to the FBI, as many as 39 states had their election systems scanned or targeted by Russia. Several states are now considering switching back to paper ballots.
  97. On Friday, DHS contacted election officials in 21 states to notify them they had been targeted by Russian government hackers during the 2016 election. This was the first time government officials contacted the states.
  98. DHS did not make names of the 21 states public, citing privacy. BuzzFeedreported state officials are outraged, and wanting to know why it took DHS a year to inform them. Sen Warner called the delay “unacceptable.”
  99. PA and WI, states with odd voting patterns which were the subject of recounts, were among the 21 disclosed as of Friday night. Officials in FL, another surprise on election night, said they were also a target of Russia.
  100. On Friday night, fmr DNI Clapper said US Intel’s findings on Russia’s election interference “did serve to cast doubt on the legitimacy” of Trump’s victory, and expressed concern that Russian interference will continue.
  101. On Friday night in Alabama, at what was supposed to be a campaign rally for Sen Luther Strange, Trump said of his support of Strange, “I’ll be honest, I might have made a mistake.
  102. The campaign rally turned out to be a 90 minute rant, including Trump again deriding Kim Jong Un, calling him “little Rocket Man.
  103. Trump also said of Colin Kaepernick who took a knee in protest, NFL owners should respond by saying, “Get that son of a bitch off the field.”
  104. The next morning, Trump tweeted about Stephen Curry, a member of the NBA Champion Warriors who had expressed reservations about going to the WH: “Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!
  105. A WAPO opinion writer described how Trump is making Americans sick: including rising blood pressure, a surge in mouth-guards for night-time teeth clenching and grinding, and unusually busy psychotherapists.
  106. Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, decimating the island and leaving 3.5mm without electricity for months. On Friday, 70k were evacuated over concern of a failing dam. Trump did little to mention or address this crisis.
  107. The Trump regime plans to rollback Obama-era limitations on drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional battlefields.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 40: SHIP OF FOOLS

Week 39 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

August 12, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-39-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-1b911b954f30

Despite Congress being out of session and Trump on vacation, this was one of the most alarming weeks so far. Without provocation, Trump made aggressive statements towards three countries, and escalated the possibility of nuclear war with N. Korea. The country continued to burn in hate as violence surrounding a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville led to a state of emergency in Virginia.

Other troubling trends continued this week including: an increase of media controlled by Trump and his allies, an unstaffed and unprepared executive branch, and steps taken to suppress the vote in future elections. Even with his new chief of staff, it is apparent Trump is consolidating power and answering to no one. He is also stepping up his attacks on the legislative branch.

  1. On Sunday, reminiscent of state-owned propaganda, Trump launched the first broadcast of “real” Trump TV featuring Kayleigh McEnany, formerly a commentator on CNN.
  2. On Monday, the RNC named McEnany to be its national spokesperson, meaning she will get paid by the RNC for her Trump TV work.
  3. Lara Trump will run Trump TV as part of her job with consulting group Giles-Parscale. Per Week 31, Parscale has been called by Congressional investigators to testify on his role in the Trump campaign and Russia.
  4. Trump’s FCC chair, Ajit Pai, revived a regulatory loophole allowing Sinclair Broadcasting to vastly exceed federal limits on media ownership. When a pending deal closes, Sinclair will reach 72% of US households.
  5. VOX analyzed 17 months of Fox & Friends transcripts and found a symbiotic relationship between Trump and the show. Since the election, data reveals the show’s primary goal is talk to Trump, not their audience.
  6. On Fox News Sunday, Rosenstein said he has not been directed by Trump to investigate Hillary’s email, as suggested by Trump. Rosenstein added, “That wouldn’t be right. That’s not the way we operate.”
  7. Rosenstein also dismissed that the Russia probe is a “total fabrication” — the reference by Trump. He also said Mueller can investigate any crimes he discovers within the scope of his probe.
  8. Conway suggested WH staffers may be required to take lie-detector testsas part of the regime’s efforts to find leakers.
  9. WAPO Editorial Board wrote Trump’s DOJ is joining the GOP’s crusade to suppress voting, citing an Ohio case of culling voters before the SCOTUS. The Obama administration found this unlawful, Trump’s does not.
  10. Indiana NCAAP and Priorities USA are suing the state over a law which results in closing voting precincts in black and Latino areas.
  11. A WAPO survey found 52% of Republicans believe Trump won the popular vote, and would support postponing the 2020 election to make sure that only eligible American citizens could vote if Trump proposed it.
  12. AP reported Ivy League schools are bracing for scrutiny from the Trump regime for their efforts to make their campuses diverse.
  13. A bomb was tossed through the window of a Mosque in Bloomington, MN. Minnesota’s governor declared the bombing “an act of terrorism.”
  14. Trump did not acknowledge the bombing. Tuesday, Gorka said the WH would “wait and see” in case the blast turned out to be a hoax. By week end, Trump still had no comment.
  15. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted out a Fox News story about a vehicle ramming into soldiers in France, which the news agency insinuated, without having evidence yet, was carried out by Islamic terrorists.
  16. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund will appeal a federal judge’s ruling allowing a white Alabama town to secede from a racially-mixed county school district and start its own system.
  17. CNN fired conservative pundit Jeffrey Lord after he tweeted the Nazi salute, “Sieg Heil!” at a prominent liberal activist.
  18. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found Trump’s moves to undermine Obamacare have already triggered double-digit premium increases on individual health insurance policies in many states.
  19. NYT reported government scientists are concerned that a report by scientists in 13 federal agencies, which finds a drastic impact of climate change in the US, will be suppressed by Trump.
  20. In a series of emails obtained by The Guardian, the Trump regime advised staff at the USDA not to use certain terms like “climate change”and “climate change adaption.”
  21. Karina Brown, an Asian American woman who attended a Bon Jovi concert in Columbus, OH was told by a fellow concert-goer, “You don’t belong in this country.
  22. Five transgender troops sued Trump over his tweet to instate a transgender military ban.
  23. The Canadian military is building a refugee camp in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle near Plattsburgh, NY to house up to 500 US asylum seekers. This is in addition to a shelter at Montreal Olympic Stadium in Week 38.
  24. CNN reported Sam Clovis, Trump’s nominee to be chief scientist at the USDA, had on his conservative radio show stoked the birther conspiracy, called Eric Holder a “a racist black,” and Tom Perez “a racist Latino.”
  25. More than 75 consumer, health and advocacy groups came together to stop the Trump regime from stripping nursing home residents and their families of rights to take facilities to court over alleged abuse or neglect.
  26. As the Trump Organization tweeted about the launch of The Trump Estates and golf in Dubai, concerns continued to surface about ways US foreign policy has been impacted by the Trump family’s investments.
  27. WAPO reported on how Trump hotel DC has become a center of influence, where members of industry and others seeking access meet with Trump regime members. And Trump financially benefits.
  28. Trump Hotel DC turned a $2mm profit for the first four months of 2017, far exceeding the Trump Organization’s projected loss of $2.1mm. Driving profits were sky-high room prices and spending on food and beverages.
  29. WSJ reported rooms at Trump Hotel DC’s average daily room rate was $660 compared with $496 for comparable hotels. The room rates are 60% higher than the hotel’s original budget.
  30. The 18 Democrats on the House Oversight Comm sent letters to 15 cabinet departments and nine executive branch agencies requesting information on their spending at Trump Organization businesses.
  31. POLITICO reported Trump’s slow pace in filling vacancies at FERC has caused $13bn of infrastructure projects, expected to create 23k new jobs, to be indefinitely delayed.
  32. NYT and ProPublica continued to track Trump appointees put in charge of dismantling government regulations. 85 appointees have been identified, many with industry or legal ties, or other conflicts of interest.
  33. A US District Court judge in NY will hear arguments in the Trump foreign emoluments lawsuit starting on October 18.
  34. According to a letter to the Senate, the OGE has rejected retroactive waivers for the Trump regime.
  35. Trump ally Robert Mercer donated $300k to Flake’s Republican primary challenger after Flake spoke out against Trump. Among other benefits, the Mercers’ hedge fund has avoided $6.8bn of back taxes under Trump.
  36. AP reported Trump companies applied to a casino trademark in Macau, the world’s largest gambling market. Past applications by Trump had been rejected. Trump had pledged no new foreign deals while in office.
  37. Two top aides for UN ambassador Haley — her chief of staff and communications director — resigned. Haley said on Twitter it was because of “family concerns.”
  38. Four top cybersecurity officials resigned from their posts, including the chief information security officer for the EPA and the CIO for the DHS, both of whom had been in their jobs for just a few months.
  39. FORTUNE reported vegetable prices may be going up soon as Trump’s immigration policies have led to a farmworker shortage, and crops are rotting in the fields.
  40. The Toronto Star reported Trump has made 500 false claims in his first 200 days in office.
  41. A CNN poll taken at 200 days found just 24% of Americans trust most of what they hear from the WH.
  42. In another sign of Trump’s waning popularity, Democrat Phil Miller won a special election (+10) in a Iowa district Trump had won by 22 in 2016.
  43. AP reported Pence has been quietly carving out his own political foot-print, noting Republicans privately admit Trump could be the first president since Nixon to leave office or not to seek re-election.
  44. After Sen Blumenthal appeared on CNN to discuss the Russian probe, Trump attacked him on Twitter for 2 days, calling him a “phony Vietnam con artist,” and saying he “should take a nice long vacation in Vietnam.”
  45. Trump tweeted, “Thank you Nicole!” to an account @ProTrump45. The account, under the name Nicole Mincey, was deleted and appears to have been a bot, part of the Russia-backed disinformation campaign.
  46. VICE reported that since taking office, Trump receives a folder full of positive news about himself twice a day. Some in the WH refer to the folder as “the propaganda document.”
  47. Bloomberg reported Manafort and Donald Jr. turned over thousands of documents in August to the Senate Judiciary Comm in the Russia probe.
  48. Bloomberg also reported Fusion GPS, a company linked to the dossier, and its CEO have yet to turn over requested documents. Senate Judiciary Comm chair Grassley wants to know if Russians paid for the dossier.
  49. Page Six reported Trump’s story about a renovation at the 21 Club, which Trump told the generals while berating them about losing in Afghanistan (Week 38), was “completely wrong in every detail.
  50. On Wednesday, WAPO reported the FBI conducted a predawn raid on Manafort’s home in Alexandria, VA, seizing documents and other materials related to Mueller’s Russia probe.
  51. The raid occurred on July 26, the day Manafort was scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Comm and a day after he met with the Senate Intel Comm.
  52. The FBI search warrant was for documents relating to tax, banking and other matters. Sources said the FBI agents left with a “trove of material.”
  53. ABC reported Manafort was awoken in the predawn hours by a group of armed FBI agents knocking on his bedroom door.
  54. On July 26 Trump called for acting FBI director McCabe to be fired. Also, that morning he inexplicably tweeted his transgender military banwithout notifying the DoD or having a strategy in place.
  55. Bloomberg reported Manafort alerted Congressional investigators about the June 9 Trump Tower meeting three months ago.
  56. Trump ally the National Enquirer posted a story, “Trump Advisor Sex Scandal — Paul Manafort’s Sick Affair,” shortly after the WAPO article hit.
  57. POLITICO reported Federal investigators sought cooperation from Jeffrey Yohai, Manafort’s son-in-law, early in the summer, in an effort to increase pressure on Manafort.
  58. On Thursday, Manafort fired WilmerHale and switched to Miller and Chevalier, a boutique firm in Washington that specializes in complicated financial crimes.
  59. A story in The New Yorker noted that with Manafort’s sophistication and links to Russia oligarchs, he was in a good position to “understand what Vladimir Putin wanted from the Trump campaign.
  60. ABC reported Congressional investigators want to question Rhona Graff, Trump’s assistant for 30 years, on the email exchange and meeting at Trump Tower on June 9 with Russians.
  61. The bipartisan Sen Judiciary Comm asked the WH to respond to questions about changes to Kushner’s security clearance forms related to undisclosed meetings with Russians. The deadline to reply was July 6.
  62. On Tuesday afternoon, WAPO reported that analysis by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) concluded N. Korea has passed the key threshold of producing missile-ready nuclear weapons.
  63. Later Tuesday, from his golf course in Bedminster, Trump warned N. Korea against threatening US cities, saying threats “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.
  64. Late Tuesday, in reaction to Trump’s ‘red line’ of N. Korea threatening US cities, Kim Jong-un’s regime said it may strike Guam.
  65. Trump’s “fire and fury” comments broke the Dow’s 10-day winning streak.
  66. Trump’s comments were condemned by Democrats, Republicans and nuclear weapons experts, saying his incendiary rhetoric would make things worse.
  67. The Toronto Star reported on the numerous time Trump has used varieties of the hyperbolic phrase, “like the world has never seen,” to make a point, including while a businessman and running for office.
  68. Wednesday, NYT reported Trump’s “fire and fury” threat to N. Korea was improvised. The sheet of paper in front of him was about the opioid crisis, and he ad-libbed without input from his team on wording.
  69. As the N. Korea crisis unfolds, Trump has yet to appoint an ambassador to S. Korea. As per Week 38, 22 of 24 assistant secretary positions in the State Dept are either unfilled or staffed by Obama holdovers.
  70. Blumenthal told MSNBC the Sen Armed Services Comm has been informed as N. Koreans moved from milestone to milestone, indicating Trump also should have known progress and not been alarmist.
  71. A 30-foot inflatable chicken with Trump-like hair floated next to the WH on Wednesday. The balloon was set up by documentary filmmaker Taran Singh Brar to protest Trump “being a weak and ineffective leader.”
  72. Foreign Policy reported on a 7-page memo written by Rich Higgins about the “deep state” targeting Trump, thought to be behind the recent NSC shake-up, including McMaster firing Higgins.
  73. On Thursday, Trump escalated the rhetoric on N. Korea further, saying his “fire and fury” comment may not have been “tough enough.” Asked how he could of been tougher, Trump replied, “You’ll see. You’ll see.”
  74. Shortly after, flanked by Pence and McMaster in Bedminster, Trump did a 20 minute lie-ridden press conference. A historian described Trump’s bizarre outpouring as “he was a dam that had suddenly burst free.”
  75. Trump called it a “disgrace” that the Senate didn’t pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, placing blame on McConnell and saying he wants him to get back to work and get it done.
  76. Trump also twice tweeted about McConnell’s failure to repeal and replace Obamacare, and retweeted a Fox & Friends story Friday saying Trump was leaving the door open on whether McConnell should step down.
  77. On the other hand, Trump said he was “very thankful” to Putin for expelling hundreds of US diplomats “because now we have a smaller payroll.” This is a false statement: diplomats remain on the payroll.
  78. Reuters reported the State Dept was “horrified and rattled,” by Trump’s remarks on expelling diplomats. The third ranking State member under W. Bush called the remarks, “grotesque.”
  79. Also at the press conference, in contrast to what his regime said days earlier, Trump seemingly impromptu declared the opioids a federal emergency: “I’m saying officially, right now, it is an emergency.”
  80. Also, on the transgender military ban, Trump said “I think I’m doing the military a great favor.” and on the transgender community: “I think I have great support…I got a lot of votes.”
  81. On Kim Jong-un, Trump said, “He got away with it for a long time…He’s not getting away with it. This is a whole new ballgame.” Adding, “And nobody, including N. Korea, is going to be threatening us with anything.”
  82. Also at the press conference, Trump said “I don’t think Iran is in compliance,” on the 2015 deal to curtail nuclear weapons.
  83. Trump also said there was “no collusion between us and Russia. In fact, the opposite. Russia spent a lot of money on fighting me.”
  84. Gordon Humphrey, a former GOP senator, suggested Congress should use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, saying of Trump “He is sick of mind, impetuous, arrogant, belligerent and dangerous.”
  85. Tillerson sought calm on N Korea, saying Wednesday “Americans should sleep well at night.” Gorka told BBC radio, “the idea that Secretary Tillerson is going to discuss military matters is simply nonsensical.
  86. On Friday, Trump escalated tensions further, tweeting the US military is “locked and loaded” should N. Korea “act unwisely.
  87. As tensions rose, US allies and adversaries urged caution. Germany PM Merkel said, “verbal escalation will not contribute to a resolution,” and Russia foreign minister Lavrov said rhetoric was “over the top.”
  88. In a phone call Friday night, China’s President Xi Jinping also urged Trump to exercise restraint according to Chinese state media.
  89. As tensions heightened with N Korea, former Defense Secretary Panetta told CNN “we’re dealing with probably the most serious crisis involving a potential nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis.”
  90. In Hawaii, emergency management officials are working on reinstating alarm sirens to warn of a nuclear attack, last used during the Cold War.
  91. On Friday evening, Trump spoke to reporters with Tillerson, McMaster and Haley by his side. Speculation was this was to assure Americans that diplomacy was also being used with N. Korea.
  92. Instead, Trump escalated the rhetoric yet again, saying Jong-un “will not get away with” what he’s doing, and if he attacks Guam, or American territory or ally, “he will truly regret it and he will regret it fast.”
  93. When asked about Venezuela, Trump said we have many options, “including a possible military option if necessary.
  94. His threat played into Maduro’s hands. Venezuelan officials have long said the US is planning an invasion. Maduro requested a phone call with Trump on Friday, which was rejected.
  95. A DoD spokesperson said Friday evening the US is not planning to invade Venezuela, and “any insinuations by the Maduro regime that we are planning an invasion are baseless.”
  96. Trump called the governor of Guam Friday night to reassure him of US protection. He also joked that Governor Calvo has become “extremely famous,” and offered, “your tourism [is] going to go up like tenfold.
  97. On Friday night, hundreds of white supremacists marched on University of Virginia’s campus carrying torches and chanting “White lives matter,” and “You will not replace us,” and “Jew will not replace us.”
  98. On Saturday morning, white supremacists in Charlottesville to attend the Unite the Right rally carried Confederate flags and flag with the Nazi Swastikas. Militia groups carrying guns also attended.
  99. Violent clashes between white supremacists and protestors broke out. Local police declared a state of emergency.
  100. Later Saturday, the Virginia governor declared a state of emergency in response to the Unite the Right white nationalist rally. White supremacists were ordered to vacate the park before the rally.
  101. Trump addressed Charlottesville hours later, but failed to condemn white supremacists, many of whom were wearing Trump gear, instead tweeting, “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for.”
IMG_7085
From SOLD Magazine: Artist RamiroStudios in New York, August 2017

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 29: SUCH A CLOWN

Week 28 of donald trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

May 27, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-28-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-b772e6b7f47d

This week the Trump-Russia scandal reached the inner circle of Trump’s WH, as bombshells revealed Kushner is a central focus of the FBI investigation. The Trump regime established a war room as the walls of Trump-Russia cave in on them, with breaking news daily.

Also of note this week is the myriad of examples of Trump distancing our country from our traditional allies, and instead cozying up to brutal authoritarians. Human rights abroad are no longer a priority — the focus seems to have shifted to where the Trump organization has properties.

  1. Trump’s attorney said he wouldn’t sign his 2016 financial disclosure, a major departure from the norm. After OGE pushback, Trump said he would sign, but has yet to do so.
  2. The WH also blocked disclosure of names of former lobbyists who have been granted waivers to work in the WH or for federal agencies. Late Friday, the WH said they would comply, but has yet to do so.
  3. GOP Senators are considering changing rules to make it harder for Democrats to block Trump’s picks for circuit court judges. This follows the “nuclear option” which eased the path for Trump’s SCOTUS pick.
  4. Tillerson held a press conference in Riyadh on a new US-Saudi partnership. US media was excluded.
  5. NPR reported there’s been an unprecedented spike of white supremacist activity on college campuses since Trump was elected.
  6. Shortly after announcing his resignation from Congress, Chaffetz said individuals leaking info to the press should go to jail.
  7. Trump considered vetoing the temporary spending bill. Priebus asked Boehner to talk Trump into signing and keeping the government open.
  8. As the Trump regime’s visited Saudi Arabia, the kingdom announced it would invest $20bn in Blackstone’s new $40bn infrastructure fund.
  9. Saudi Arabia will also invest $100mm in Ivanka’s Women Entrepreneurs Fund. In addition to other human right’s abuses, the kingdom has one of the worst records globally for treatment of its women.
  10. During a photo op with Netanyahu on his visit to Israel, Trump confirmed the source of his leak to Lavrov and Kislyak at the WH by telling the press he “never mentioned the word or the name Israel.”
  11. FP reported that Israel changed its intelligence sharing with the US after Trump’s leak to Russia.
  12. Turkey summoned the US envoy to complain about the treatment of Ergodan’s bodyguards for beating up US protestors.
  13. Amid rising tensions, Turkey signed a $1.5mm contract with longtime Trump lobbyist Brian Ballard. Ballard’s firm has also recently signed contracts with the Dominican Republic and the Socialist Party of Albania.
  14. A leaked transcript prepared by the Philippines government of a phone call between Trump and Duterte described Trump praising the brutal authoritarian: “what a great job you are doing” with the drug problem.
  15. Also on the call with Duterte, Trump revealed the location of two US nuclear submarines.
  16. US officials were chastised for leaking the identity of the Manchester bomber to the press before British police officially named him.
  17. UK officials were also outraged when photos of the debris surfaced in the NYT, and said they would stop sharing information about the attack with their US counterparts. Later that day, sharing reportedly resumed.
  18. Flynn’s lawyer said his client would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights rather than comply with a Senate Intel Comm subpoena. Burr and Warner said they are considering holding Flynn in contempt.
  19. Christie told reporters that as head of Trump’s transition team, he told Trump not to hire Flynn in any capacity. Pence took over as head next.
  20. Sessions canceled his Monday testimony on DOJ funding before Congress scheduled, for fear the hearing would be overtaken by questions are the Trump-Russia scandal.
  21. Cummings said the House Oversight Comm has documents that show Flynn lied to security clearance investigators in 2016. Flynn claimed he was paid by “US companies,” not Russia’s RT, for his 2015 Moscow trip.
  22. CNN reported that Mueller visited FBI headquarters, and was briefed on the contents of Comey’s Trump memos.
  23. WAPO reported Trump asked intel chiefs Coats and Rogers to publicly say there was no collusion between Russia and Trump in the 2016 election. The goal was to “muddy the waters” about the FBI probe.
  24. Like Comey, Rogers was concerned about his conversations with Trump, and kept contemporaneous notes.
  25. WAPO also reported that WH staffers tried to get senior intel officers and members of Congress to push back on the stories that the Trump regime members were in frequent contact with Russian officials.
  26. Sen Duckworth sent a letter to the NSA requesting info on security sweeps of the Oval Office after Trump’s meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak.
  27. A member of the FEC called for an investigation into Russia’s purchase of Facebook ads to possibly boost Trump in the election.
  28. At a House hearing, former CIA director Brennan testified that he was convinced last summer that “the Russians were trying to interfere in the election. And they were very aggressive
  29. Brennan also testified on significant contact between the Trump campaign and Russia, citing Russians efforts to get US persons “to act on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly.”
  30. Brennan also said he alerted the FBI about the troubling pattern in July, seeming to form the basis for the start of the FBI investigation.
  31. Despite the Trump’s regime efforts to limit the scope of Mueller’s investigation — citing Kushner, Ivanka and Manafort are clients of his former law firm — the DOJ cleared Mueller to lead the Russia probe.
  32. The Senate Intel Comm subpoenaed two Flynn companies. Businesses, if corporations, cannot plead the Fifth.
  33. On Thursday, the Senate Intel Comm voted to give Burr and Warner blanket authority to issue subpoenas in the Trump-Russia probe.
  34. Burr and Warner asked Trump’s political organization to produce all Russia-related documents, emails and phone records going back to his campaign’s launch in June 2015.
  35. STAT reported on experts citing that the deterioration in Trump’s linguistic capabilities could reflect changes in the health of his brain.
  36. Infowars was given WH press credentials.
  37. The NEH chairman resigned amid Trump’s budget rollout which calls for huge cuts to domestic programs.
  38. A top Education Department official resigned after refusing DeVos’s orders to testify before a congressional oversight hearing.
  39. Trump released his budget with a $2tn double-counting error. Larry Summers described it as, “the most egregious accounting error in a presidential budget in the nearly 40 years I have been tracking them.”
  40. Trump’s Caribbean estate was quietly put on the market at a significantly higher price than he paid in 2013, again raising ethical concerns of potential buyers paying above market to gain access.
  41. NYT reported on ethical concerns over the Trump family golf business, as the PGA comes to Trump National, and access to Trump, who frequents his courses, is being touted as a marketing point for membership.
  42. Demonstrating how Trump’s friends continue to influence policy, Icahn is set to save $60mm for his oil refinery company CVR Energy in the first quarter due to planned easing of regulations.
  43. Giuliani attempted to distance himself from Trump’s Muslim Ban, despite his bragging on Fox News months ago that he was consulted by Trump.
  44. DeVos said states should have the flexibility to discriminate against LGBTQ students, and schools will not be at risk of losing federal funds.
  45. Although before taking office Trump promised to donate all profits earned from foreign governments back to the US Treasury, according to NBC, the Trump Organization is not tracking these payments. The Constitution bans presidents from receiving foreign government gifts.
  46. 93% of key roles in the executive branch remain unfilled.
  47. Buzzfeed reported the guest reception manager at Mar-A-Lago, wife of a twice-convicted felon who likes to brag about his wife’s access, was assigned a WH email and phone and helped with Trump’s overseas plans.
  48. A new study found that tourism to the US has been on the decline since Trump took office, dropping by as much as 16%.
  49. The Carrier plant in Indiana, where to much ballyhoo Trump showcased saving 800 jobs, announced mass layoffs before Christmas.
  50. FP reported NATO countries were frantically preparing for their summit with Trump. One official said, “It’s like they’re preparing to deal with a child — someone with a short attention span and mood who has no knowledge of NATO, no interest in in-depth policy issues, nothing.
  51. At the NATO summit in Brussels, Trump pushed the PM of Montenegro aside, before chastising participants for not paying their share of NATO costs. His behavior was met with uniform disgust by our allies.
  52. Trump also refused to clearly back Article 5, the one-for-all, all-for-one principle of NATO, and remained at odd with our allies over Russia.
  53. Trump also said of Germany, our close ally, “The Germans are bad, very bad.
  54. Aya Hijazi, who Trump had bragged about negotiating her release from an Egyptian prison, told PBS’s Woodruff that Trump did not understand that it was el-Sisi’s regime that held her.
  55. On Wednesday, Greg Gianforte, running for Montana’s open Congressional seat, body slammed a reporter when asked about AHCA CBO scoring. Like Trump, Gianforte has had harsh rhetoric on the media. Gianforte was charged with assault the night before the election.
  56. Weeks before Jacobs had reported on Gianforte’s ownership of Russian index funds, whose holdings include companies like Rosneft which are under US sanctions.
  57. Press advocates cited four incidents between the press and public officials in the past month, saying Trump’s rhetoric has led to a “climate of anger, disrespect and hostility” towards the press.
  58. POLITICO reported that Trump reached out to former campaign staffers Lewandowski and Bossie about becoming crisis managers as the Trump-Russia scandal unfolds.
  59. In a surprising move, Trump hired his longtime personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz to represent him in the special counsel’s Trump-Russia probe.
  60. CNN reported the Trump regime is establishing a war room-type operation aimed at developing a rapid-response to Trump-Russia news.
  61. As the CBO came out with alarming scoring on Trumpcare/AHCA, Trump ally Gingrich called for the abolishment of the CBO.
  62. Trump’s budget targets undocumented immigrants by denying them tax credits and jobs, while significantly beefing up his deportation force.
  63. The Trump regime kept US reporters largely in the dark during his overseas trip this week: delaying readouts, keeping reporters at a distance, and refusing to hold new conferences.
  64. Trump ally Sheriff Clarke directed his staff waiting at the terminal to hassle a plane passenger after a brief exchange. The passenger is suing Clarke and his deputies involved.
  65. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a nationwide injunction against Trump’s second Muslim Ban by a 10–3 vote. The Chief Judge said the ban, “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.
  66. In their efforts to highlight crimes committed by undocumented immigrants through their VOICE program, Trump’s DHS published a database with the personal information of abuse victims.
  67. For the first time in almost two decades, Tillerson declined to host a Ramadan event at the State Dept.
  68. In Portland, OR, a suspect hurled insults at Muslim women on a MAX train, before stabbing men who tried to stop him. Two are dead.
  69. According to the DOJ, Sessions did not disclose his meetings with Kislyakin his security clearance application.
  70. Sessions remains AG despite having lied both to the Senate under oath and on his security clearance application about Russia, as well as playing a role in Comey’s firing despite being recused on Trump-Russia matters.
  71. Members of the House Financial Services Comm asked Deutsche Bank to produce documents on Trump family loans. As mentioned in Week 18’s list, Deutsche has been fined for laundering money for Russia.
  72. NYT reported that US spies collected info last summer that top Russian officials were discussing how to exert influence on Trump through his aides, Manafort and Flynn.
  73. POLITICO reported that despite the Trump spin that Manafort was a minor player and not in touch with his regime, Manafort called Priebus the week before the inauguration to discuss the growing Russia scandal.
  74. WAPO reported that a fake Russian document which claimed assurances from AG Lynch to the Clinton campaign on the email investigation, influenced Comey’s handling of the investigation, including his unusual news conference in July without conferring with the DOJ.
  75. Although Comey had the Russian document for months before the July news conference, the FBI did not take the simple steps needed to prove it to be bad intelligence until after July.
  76. WIRED reported that Russian hackers are weaponizing “tainted” leaks — planting altered materials with disinformation alongside legitimate leaks.
  77. WSJ reported that a GOP political operative, Aaron Nevins, worked with the Russians to hurt Clinton and Democrats during the election — the first direct evidence of collusion.
  78. WAPO reported that the FBI “person of interest” in the WH referenced in their reporting last week is Kushner. The FBI is investigating Kushner for the extent and nature of his contacts with Russian officials.
  79. Further, WAPO reported the FBI is investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 election, as well as possible financial crimes.
  80. The FBI informed House Oversight Comm chair Chaffetz that they will not turn over Comey’s memos, leaving open the prospect that Mueller is investigating Trump for obstruction of justice.
  81. Lieberman became the fourth candidate under consideration by Trump for FBI director to withdraw from consideration.
  82. After demurring on whether Trump would lift sanctions on Russia Thursday, top Trump adviser, under media scrutiny, said Friday the sanctions would remain in place.
  83. A Quinnipiac poll found that most Americans believe Trump is abusing his power (54–43), and most believe he is not honest (59–36).
  84. WAPO reported at a meeting at Trump Tower in early December, Kushner proposed to Kislyak setting up a secret communication channel between the Kremlin and the Trump regime using Russian diplomatic facilities.
  85. Kislyak was reportedly taken aback by the suggestion, and concerned Kushner’s request would expose Russian communication capabilities.
  86. Kushner’s goal was to avoid US intelligence monitoring. Flynn attended the meeting with Kislyak too.
  87. Of note, both Kislyak and Flynn secretly met with a UAE crown prince around the time that prince was setting up a meeting between Erik Prince and a Russian official in Seychelles (see Week 21’s list). Trump met that same UAE crown prince at the WH last week.
  88. Reuters reported that Kushner had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with Kislyak during and after the 2016 presidential campaign.
  89. Reuters reported FBI investigators are examining whether Russians suggested to Kushner or other Trump aides relaxing US sanctions in exchange for making bank financing available to the Trump regime.
  90. In response to the Reuters piece, Kushner’s lawyer issued a statement that Kushner, “has no recollection of the calls as described.
  91. Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska has offered to cooperate with Congress in their investigation of Manafort in exchange for immunity. Noted in Week 27, Deripaska is suing AP for libel for reporting his ties to Manafort.
  92. Owners of Russian Alfa Bank sued Buzzfeed Friday in state court in Manhattan for publishing the Steele dossier.
  93. Amidst the Trump-Russia turmoil, Trump canceled his Iowa campaign rally scheduled for next week.

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It’s all just a game to them, and the people are the ones that always lose / Artist credit: Luis Quiles
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London, England. Artist: Subdude

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