POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 94: “CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR”

Week 93 of this international embarrassment: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

August 25, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-93-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-960e3340ff19

This was an ominous week for Trump, as three longtime allies turned on him. If you’ve come to one of my book events, I’ve said one of the three paths to ending Trump’s time in office was through the #MeToo movement, as in this case with hush money payments to silence women and the cover-up. This week in court, Michael Cohen essentially called Trump an unindicted co-conspirator in the crime of making hush money payments with the “principal purpose of influencing” the 2016 presidential election. Cohen was also subpoenaed in New York’s probe of the Trump Foundation. News later in the week indicated Trump’s bookkeeper for decades, Allen Weisselberg, and his longtime ally David Pecker, chairman and CEO of American Media, were both granted immunity in Manhattan court in exchange for their testimony.

As Cohen was pleading guilty, Paul Manafort was simultaneously being found guilty of eight felony counts in Virginia — his first of two trials. After initial denials by his press secretary that a pardon was under consideration, Trump spent the week publicly praising Manafort while attacking the Mueller probe, setting the stage for what aides believe is a coming pardon.

And yet not a single Republican spoke out against Trump this week. By the end of the week, leading Senate Republicans seemed open to Trump firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the midterms, potentially leaving the Mueller probe vulnerable. As news on Cohen and Manafort came out, Republicans and Fox News focused on the death of a University of Iowa student who was killed by an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, with Trump ally Newt Gingrich telling Axios, “If Mollie Tibbetts is a household name by October, Democrats will be in deep trouble.”

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  1. On Saturday, Trump responded to the NYT story in Week 92 on White House counsel Don McGahn cooperating, tweeting he “allowed” McGahn and others “to fully cooperate” and turned over documents.
  2. Trump also tweeted, “we readily gave over one million pages of documents,” adding, “Most transparent in history. No Collusion, No Obstruction. Witch Hunt!
  3. On Saturday, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro bashed Mueller and linked him to Benghazi, saying, “you testified…to cover for Hillary Clinton’s incompetence,” adding on the probe, “you got nothing.”
  4. On Sunday, on Meet the Press, when asked about his comments that Trump testifying in the Mueller probe would be a perjury trap, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said, “No, truth isn’t truth. Truth isn’t truth.”
  5. Giuliani’s assertion is reminiscent of Kellyanne Conway’s in Week 11 of “alternative facts.” After the interview, Merriam Webster tweeted the definition of “truth.”
  6. Giuliani also lied, claiming Donald Trump Jr. did not know Natalia Veselnitskaya was Russian ahead of the June 9 Trump Tower meeting, saying he did not know if “she was Russian at the time. All they had was her name.”
  7. On Sunday, in a series of six tweets, Trump lashed out at “the Failing New York Times” who he said wrote a “Fake piece,” adding “this is why the Fake News Media has become the Enemy of the People. So bad for America!”
  8. Trump also claimed, without offered proof, that some members of the media are “very Angry at the Fake Story in the New York Times,” claiming they “actually called to complain and apologize” for the story.
  9. Trump tweeted that the NYT implied that by McGahn giving “testimony to the Special Councel, he must be a John Dean type ‘RAT,’” adding “ So many lives have been ruined over nothing.”
  10. Trump also referred to the Mueller probe as “McCarthyism at its WORST!” and repeated the false charge, “No Collusion and No Obstruction, except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats.”
  11. Trump also compared the Mueller investigation to McCarthyism, “Study the late Joseph McCarthy,” because we are in a period when “Mueller and his gang … make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby!
  12. On Sunday, Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis said in the past few months,Cohen has reached out regularly to John Dean, the former White House counsel who helped bring down the presidency of Richard Nixon.
  13. On Sunday, NYT reported Trump’s legal team does not know what McGahn told Mueller’s team when the team was fully cooperating, a potentially damaging mistake. McGahn has offered a limited accounting.
  14. After McGahn was first interviewed in November 2017, Trump’s legal team did not ask for a complete description, and McGahn’s lawyer, William Burck, did not inform them of what was said in subsequent interactions.
  15. On Sunday, on State of the Union, Trump surrogate Rick Santorum saidMueller could avoid charges of McCarthyism by investigating the FBI and Department of Justice.
  16. On Sunday, NYT reported federal investigators looking into whether Cohen committed bank and tax fraud are focusing on the more than $20 million in loans obtained by taxi businesses owned by Cohen and his family.
  17. On Monday, CNN reported Darren Beattie, a speechwriter for Trump who attended a conference frequented by white nationalists, the H.L. Mencken Club Conference, in 2016, has left the White House.
  18. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Trump adviser Larry Kudlow hosted Peter Brimelow, the publisher of a website that serves as a platform for white nationalism, at his home last weekend for his birthday party.
  19. On Monday, at a White House ceremony for Border Patrol agent Adrian Anzaldua, Trump introduced him without attempting to pronounce his last name, and said Adrian could speak “perfect English.”
  20. New Jersey Globe reported that Rick Jankowski, a Monroe Township school board candidate, made racist and homophobic comments on Facebookbetween 2013–2016, including calling black people “fucking monkeys.”
  21. On Wednesday, NBC News reported Christine Hallquist, who in Week 92became the first transgender gubernatorial candidate, is now getting a steady stream of death threats and other personal attacks.
  22. Kansas City Star reported Michael Dargy Jr., a Westport security guard, ordered a “Trayvon Martini” from a black bartender at a Westport bar on Monday. On Wednesday, Dargy Jr. was fired.
  23. Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported Buford City Schools superintendent Geye Hamby was named in a race-discrimination lawsuit, with recordings, for yelling racist slurs at a group of black workers at a construction site.
  24. On Friday, Texas Monthly reported on a complaint filed by a Honduran woman who entered the U.S. in June, was separated from her nine-year-old daughter. and met an immigration officer nicknamed the “deporter” who told her, “You are all ignorant and keep coming.”
  25. In the complaint, she says, “He called me in to sign my deportation papers a couple days after I was told I did not qualify for asylum,” adding, “Don’t you understand that we don’t want you in this country?
  26. On Friday, PBS reported according to a status update by the federal government, 528 migrant children remained separated from their parents. Of those, 23 children are under the age of 5.
  27. There are also 343 children whose parents are no longer in the U.S. TheTrump administration has made almost no progress in reunification since the court-imposed deadline passed.
  28. On Thursday, Adam Housley became the second Fox News reporter to resign in recent weeks. Housley, who was at Fox News for two decades, left over frustrations with the direction and tone of coverage in the Trump-era.
  29. Politico reported Betsy DeVos’s Department of Education has dismissed at least five investigations involving transgender students who were denied bathroom access. Another has been delayed for at least three years.
  30. AP reported Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai told a Senate panel that Don McGahn called him for a “status update” on the agency’s action on the Sinclair-Tribune deal on July 16 or 17. Pai expressed “serious concerns” about the merger.
  31. On Monday, Bloomberg reported that Trump complained to wealthy Republican donors at a Hamptons fundraiser last Friday about Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s interest rate hikes.
  32. On Monday, Trump told Reuters he is “not thrilled” with Powell, adding, while he is negotiating with other countries, he “should be given some help by the Fed. The other countries are accommodated.”
  33. NBC News reported across the federal government, the Trump administration is emphasizing a less-punitive approach to combat white-collar crime and civil violations, reversing steps by the Obama administration.
  34. The regime plans to reward companies that report violations and take steps to fix them in areas such as failing to pay overtime and committing financial fraud, as well as smaller fines for polluters that come forward.
  35. On Monday, acting Environmental Protection Agency director Andrew Wheeler signed a plan to weaken regulation of coal-fired power plants, replacing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan with the Affordable Clean Energy Rule.
  36. On the heels of an earlier decision to let automobiles pollute more, the new plan erases the Obama administration’s efforts to impose pollution controls on carbon dioxide pollution and transition to cleaner energy.
  37. The Trump proposal will give states more authority to make their own plans for regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The regime has routinely dismissed the threat of climate change and questioned its cause.
  38. Bloomberg reported despite Trump’s promises, the coal industry is losing customers as utilities turn to natural gas and renewable power to generate electricity. Coal production and consumption continue to decrease.
  39. Trump nominated Kathy Kraninger, an architect of his family separation policy who has no background in financial regulation or consumer protection, to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  40. Kraninger refused to answer about her role in the zero-tolerance policy at her Senate confirmation hearing, saying she would not discuss the “general topic” of immigration because it would be a “slippery slope.”
  41. Reuters reported Pentagon officials are sounding the alarm inside the Trump regime about the sharp drop in Iraqi refugees who have helped American troops in battle coming to the U.S. as a safe haven.
  42. So far just 48 Iraqis have been admitted, compared to more than 3,000 in 2017 and about 5,100 in 2016. The Pentagon is concerned the drop will harm national security by dissuading locals from cooperating with the U.S.
  43. On Wednesday, NYT reported DeVos is considering a plan to allow states to use federal funding to purchase guns for educators.
  44. The plan would undermine efforts by Congress to restrict federal funding on guns and would to be the first time that a federal agency has authorized the purchase of weapons without a congressional mandate.
  45. On Sunday, on “Meet the Press,” former CIA director John Brennan said he is willing to take Trump to court to prevent other current and former intelligence officials from having their clearances stripped.
  46. On Monday, in a series of tweets, Trump escalated his attacks on Mueller, calling him “disgraced and discredited,” saying his “whole group of Angry Democrat Thugs spent over 30 hours with the White House Councel.”
  47. Trump also said that “Mueller’s Angry Dems” are “enjoying ruining people’s lives” but “REFUSE” to look at corruption on the Democrats’ side, adding, “They are a National Disgrace!”
  48. Trump also tweeted that he hoped Brennan, whom he called “the worst CIA Director in our country’s history,” brings a lawsuit so he can get documents on how Brennan was “involved with the Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt.”
  49. Trump also said in his tweets that DOJ official Bruce Ohr, who he said is “at the center of FALSE ALLEGATIONS” in the Steele dossier should be “fired from the Jeff Sessions “Justice” Department,” putting justice in quotes.
  50. On Monday, as Trump was sending his tweets, First Lady Melania Trump was giving a speech about the “destructive and harmful” uses of social media at a cyberbully summit as part of her “Be Best” campaign.
  51. Also on Monday, Melania announced she plans to travel to Africa without Trump in October, saying, “I am excited to educate myself on the issues facing children throughout the continent.”
  52. On Monday, more than 175 former U.S. intelligence community and national security officials said in the third open-letter on the topic that they are deeply concerned by the politicization of security clearances.
  53. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted “even James Clapper” has admonished Brennan after Clapper said his rhetoric is concerning, adding, maybe Clapper is “being nice to me so he doesn’t lose his Security Clearance.”
  54. On Monday, in an interview with Reuters, Trump said he was concerned the Mueller probe would be a perjury trap, saying “it’s my word against his (Comey), and he’s best friends with Mueller.”
  55. Trump also asserted that he retained the power to intervene in the Mueller probe, “I can go in, and I could do whatever — I could run it if I want. But I decided to stay out…So far, I haven’t chosen to be involved.”
  56. Trump also said the Mueller probe has hampered his efforts to improve relations with Russia and refused to blame Russia for interfering in the 2016 election, if it was Russia “they played right into the Russians’ hands.”
  57. Reuters reported the FBI is probing cyber-attacks on the California congressional campaigns of David Min and Hans Keirstead. Both lost primaries in races critical to Democrats taking control of the House.
  58. On Sunday, Senator Rand Paul rode on Air Force One and played a round of golf with Trump. Paul recently visited Moscow and, in Week 92, had been advocating to dropping U.S. sanctions on two Russian lawmakers.
  59. On Tuesday, a report released by Microsoft revealed that the Russian military intelligence unit that attacked the 2016 election is targeting conservative U.S. think tanks that have broken with Trump on Russia.
  60. Microsoft said it detected and seized websites created in recent weeks by hackers linked to Russia’s G.R.U. that tried to trick people into thinking they were clicking on the think tanks’ websites before being redirected.
  61. The think tanks targeted have been critical of Trump’s interactions with and handling of Russia, including continued sanctions and pressing for human rights. Microsoft also found websites imitating the U.S. Senate.
  62. On Tuesday, Christopher Steele won a U.S. libel case brought by three Russian oligarchs — Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan — who claimed Steele defamed them in his dossier.
  63. The three own a stake in Russia’s Alfa Bank. In Week 21, the FBI was investigating ties between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization. The judge threw out the case, citing free speech under the First Amendment.
  64. On Thursday, Reality Winner, the former government contractor whopleaded guilty to mailing a classified U.S. report to a news organization, got a five-year sentence, the longest ever imposed for a leak.
  65. Winner had leaked information to the Intercept which detailed Russiangovernment efforts to penetrate a Florida-based supplier of voting software and the accounts of election officials ahead of the 2016 election.
  66. Civil rights activists mobilized to try to stop Georgia from closing seven of nine polling precincts in a predominantly black county ahead of the midterms. Stacey Abrams, a black American, is running for governor.
  67. The Randolph County elections board claims the seven polling places are being shuttered because they are not ADA compliant. The polling places were used during the May 22 primary election and July 24 primary runoff.
  68. On Friday, after facing intense national scrutiny, the Randolph County board of elections voted to keep the seven polling places open. The consultant who recommended closings was fired Thursday.
  69. The Young Turks reported an election day computer “glitch” in Kansas’ most populous county, has cast a shadow over the legitimacy of Kris Kobach’s victory in the state’s governor primary, which he won by about 300 votes.
  70. On Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee alerted the FBI of an attempted hack of its voter database. The DNC said the attempt failed, and the culprit is not known.
  71. On Thursday, DNC Chief Security Officer Bob Lord said in a statement that hack was actually a test built by an unnamed third party and that the test was not authorized by the DNC or any of the party’s security vendors.
  72. On Thursday, Yahoo News reported the White House blocked a bipartisan bill in the Senate which would have significantly bolstered defenses against election interference.
  73. The Secure Elections Act previously had widespread bipartisan support. On Wednesday, GOP Senate Rules Committee chair Roy Blunt canceled the markup, the next step for the bill. No explanation was given.
  74. On Friday, Google informed Senator Pat Toomey that hackers with ties to a “nation-state” sent phishing emails to old campaign email accounts during 2016 to try to hack his campaign. The infiltration was not successful.
  75. On Friday, Detroit Free Press reported clerks in every Michigan county received identical Freedom of Information Act requests seeking copies of the ballots and other records from the 2016 election.
  76. The requests are signed by “Emily,” with no last name, and requests that records be sent to a United Action Group at a post office box in Astoria, New York. Messages from the Detroit Free Press were not returned.
  77. Information requested includes: absentee ballots, envelopes the absentee ballots were mailed in, records listing the names of voters who requested absentee ballots, and provisional ballots, both counted and uncounted.
  78. On Monday, concern was raised that Trump’s continued tweets and public statements in support of Manafort and deriding the Mueller probe, while the jury was not sequestered, could impact their deliberations.
  79. On Monday, a Defense Department spokesman contradicted Trump’s rationale for canceling the military parade, saying Trump was not briefed on the cost estimate and that the $92 million estimate was not valid.
  80. On Tuesday, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, pleaded guilty to eight counts of tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations, including two charges related to hush money payments.
  81. Cohen said he made the payments “at the direction” of an unnamed candidate in 2016, and that a $150,000 payment in August 2016 was for the “principal purpose of influencing” the 2016 presidential election.
  82. The judge asked Cohen if he knew what he did was illegal, and he responded he did. Cohen said, “at the direction” of a candidate, he used the money from a home equity line to pay $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford.
  83. Cohen said at the direction of a candidate, he and David Pecker arranged to keep one of the alleged affairs from the public with a payment by National Enquirer of $150,000 to Karen McDougal.
  84. According to Cohen’s plea filing, in January 2017, executives at the Trump Organization directed Cohen be paid $420,000, reimbursing him for his payment, along with money for taxes and expenses and a $60,000 bonus.
  85. According to the filing, the Trump Organization relied on sham invoices by Cohen to conceal the nature of the payments. Cohen submitted monthly invoices, and received all monthly checks totaling $420,000.
  86. Cohen is out on bail until his scheduled sentencing in December. According to court filings, Cohen faces a recommended prison sentence of 46 to 63 months. He is not cooperating in the Mueller probe at this point.
  87. Almost simultaneously, Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted by a federal jury in Virginia on eight felony counts. The judge declared a mistrial on the other 10 counts where unanimous jury consensus was not reached.
  88. The eight charges include five counts of tax fraud, one count of failure to file a report of foreign bank and financial accounts, and two counts of bank fraud. Manafort faces seven to nine years in prison.
  89. On Tuesday, Trump told reporters as he arrived in West Virginia for a campaign rally that he feels “very badly” for Manafort and a “sad thing that happened,” but that it has “nothing to do with Russian collusion.”
  90. Trump said of Manafort “he was a great man, he was with Ronald Reagan and many people over the years,” adding, “It doesn’t involve me.” Trump also called the Mueller probe “a witch hunt and a disgrace.”
  91. On Tuesday, Cohen attorney Lanny Davis said Cohen has information that would be of interest to Mueller and is happy to share it, including the crime of hacking and whether Trump knew about it ahead of time.
  92. On Tuesday, Trump held a rally in West Virginia, a state he won by 40 points. He covered a bevy of topics, but did not mention Cohen or Manafort.
  93. The closest he got was attacking the Mueller probe, saying, “Fake news and the Russian witch hunt…Where is the collusion? You know, they’re still looking for collusion. Where is the collusion? Find some collusion!”
  94. On Tuesday, Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife were indicted for using campaign funds for personal use. Hunter was the second GOP Congressman to endorse Trump after Rep. Chris Collins, who was indicted in Week 91.
  95. On Thursday, Hunter shifted blame to his wife for the alleged campaign fund abuses, telling Fox News, “She was also the campaign manager, so whatever she did that’ll be looked at too.”
  96. On Wednesday, in morning tweets, Trump attacked Cohen, saying, “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!”
  97. Trump also tweeted that he felt “very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family,” adding “unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ — make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’”
  98. Trump also falsely tweeted that Cohen pleaded guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are “not a crime,” and that Obama “had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!”
  99. On Wednesday, Democratic senators called for a delay of the vote on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, citing Manafort’s criminal convictions and Cohen’s guilty pleas.
  100. On Wednesday, at the daily press briefing, press secretary Sarah HuckabeeSanders said that Trump “did nothing wrong” seven times in response to reporters’ questions on Manafort’s guilty verdict and Cohen’s guilty plea.
  101. Sanders also said it was “a ridiculous accusation” to say Trump has lied to the American people. WAPO has recorded 4,229 false or misleading statements by Trump, including changing stories on the Cohen payment.
  102. Sanders also told reporters that she “wasn’t aware” of any discussions of Trump pardoning Manafort and that the topic was “not something that’s been up for discussion.”
  103. On Thursday, Giuliani said in an interview that Trump asked his lawyers whether he could pardon Manafort and other aides last week. His lawyers counseled him not to until after the Mueller probe concluded.
  104. Giuliani also told Sky News in the interview, which took place while he was golfing in Scotland, that Cohen is a “massive liar” and that the “American people would revolt” if Trump were impeached.
  105. On Thursday, Sanders said in a statement that the topic of a pardon is not under active consideration “in the White House” and that Trump “has not made a decision on pardoning Paul Manafort or anyone else.”
  106. On Wednesday, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance issued a subpoena to Cohen as part of its ongoing probe of whether the Trump Foundation violated New York tax laws.
  107. The probe is separate from the NY Attorney General’s lawsuit against the Trump Foundation. A spokesperson said, “We will be working with the NY Attorney General and the Manhattan district attorney as appropriate.”
  108. On Thursday, NY Attorney General Barbara Underwood asked the Department of Taxation to make a referral on Cohen, an administrative step that allows her office to investigate him for possible violations of state tax law.
  109. WAPO reported when Cohen got the subpoena, he called the Department of Taxation to offer help. Cohen had no formal role at the Trump Foundation, but he had wide knowledge of Trump and his family’s affairs.
  110. Cohen also had a role in at least one Trump Foundation matter: arranging for a Ukrainian steel magnate, Victor Pinchuk, to donate $150,000 to the Trump Foundation in 2015.
  111. On Wednesday, “Fox & Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt interviewed Trump at the White House, the day after the Cohen and Manafort news. In May, Trump had praised Earhardt and encouraged people to buy her book.
  112. On Wednesday evening, while appearing on Hannity to promote the interview ahead of it airing, Earhardt told Sean Hannity Trump told her he would consider a pardon, saying, “I think he feels bad for Manafort.”
  113. On Thursday, the interview aired on Fox News. When Trump complained reporters “like to cover nonsense,” Earhardt answered “right.” She asked Trump, “Is the press the enemy of the people?” instead of challenging him.
  114. Trump said he knew about the hush money payments after they were made, telling Earhardt, “later on I knew … later on,” contradicting Cohen’s statement in court on Tuesday.
  115. Trump also falsely claimed because the payments came from his personal funds, there was no violation of campaign finance laws, saying, “They didn’t come out of the campaign. It is not even a campaign violation.”
  116. When asked about Cohen and a longstanding legal practice, Trump said, “It’s called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal,” adding, “It almost ought to be outlawed. It’s not fair.”
  117. When Earhardt asked Trump to grade himself, he said, “I give myself an A+,” adding, “I don’t think any president has ever done what I’ve done in this short — we haven’t even been two years.”
  118. Trump also said that if he got impeached, “I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor,” explaining, “because without this thinking, you would see numbers you wouldn’t believe.”
  119. Trump also falsely claimed that Manafort “wasn’t with the campaign long,” and claimed that the FBI “surveilled my campaign, it’s very simple.”
  120. Trump also said of Sessions that the only reason he gave him the job was because “I felt loyalty,” but that Sessions “never took control of the Justice Department,” adding of Sessions’ recusal, “what kind of man is this?”
  121. On Thursday, Sessions, who rarely pushes back, issued a statement saying, “While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”
  122. On Friday, Trump shot back at Sessions, sarcastically tweeting it was “GREAT” that Sessions is not influenced and said Sessions should look into “corruption on the “other side.”
  123. Trump listed, “deleted Emails, Comey lies & leaks, Mueller conflicts, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Ohr, FISA abuse, Christopher Steele & his phony and corrupt Dossier,” as things he wanted the DOJ to investigate.
  124. On Wednesday night, after midnight (1:10 a.m.), Trump tweeted, “NO COLLUSION — RIGGED WITCH HUNT!
  125. On Wednesday, Paula Duncan, a Trump supporter who was a juror in the Manafort trial, told Fox News that one holdout juror prevented the jury from convicting Manafort on all 18 counts.
  126. On Thursday, Duncan told NBC News the one holdout was a woman, who she does not believe was a Trump supporter. Duncan said the jurors did not put much stock in Rick Gates’ testimony.
  127. On Wednesday, WSJ reported a turning point for Cohen on Trump was in June when his father Maurice Cohen, a Holocaust survivor, told him he didn’t survive the Holocaust to have his name sullied by Trump.
  128. Prosecutors also had testimony from Cohen’s accountant and business partners, documents that implicated he and his wife, and details about hush money payments to women by David Pecker.
  129. On Thursday, Trump tweeted about a segment on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show the night before, saying he directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations.”
  130. Echoing talking points used by white nationalists group of a racially charged conspiracy theory, Trump tweeted, “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.”
  131. On Thursday, NYT reported the Manhattan district attorney is considering pursuing criminal charges against the Trump Organization and two senior company officials for hush money payments made to Stephanie Clifford.
  132. The investigation would focus on how the company accounted for its reimbursements to Cohen for the $130,000 he paid Clifford. The office’s review is still in the early stages.
  133. If charges are brought, Trump has no power to pardon people and corporate entities convicted of state crimes.
  134. On Thursday, Vanity Fair reported David Pecker, CEO of American Media, Inc., which owns the National Enquirer, has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors for providing information on hush money payments.
  135. Pecker has met with prosecutors and provided details about payments Cohen arranged to silence Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal.Pecker, like Cohen, has reportedly said Trump was aware of the payments.
  136. Vanity Fair also reported that to distract from headlines, Trump is considering taking away clearances from former members of his administration, including H.R. McMaster and Rex Tillerson.
  137. On Friday, WSJ reported Allen Weisselberg, who served for decades as chief financial officer and executive vice president of the Trump Organization, has testified and been granted immunity.
  138. Along with Cohen and Pecker, Weisselberg is the third longtime Trump confidant to provide information on hush money payments. Weisselberg testified before a grand jury in Manhattan.
  139. Weisselberg was one of the Trump Organization executives who helped reimburse Cohen for the $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford. The Journalcould not ascertain if he told prosecutors that Trump knew about the payments.
  140. On Friday, NYT reported Weisselberg struck a deal in earlier in the summer with federal prosecutors, granting him immunity for his grand jury testimony.
  141. Reportedly the deal is narrow in scope, protecting Weisselberg from self-incrimination in sharing information with prosecutors about Cohen, and did not offer blanket immunity.
  142. Trump reportedly has been alternating between anger and “a surprising state of calm.” One aide said he relishes conflict: “He enjoys the battle.”
  143. On Friday, AP reported the National Enquirer kept a safe containing documents on hush money payments and stories that it killed as part of its cozy relationship with Trump leading up to the 2016 election.
  144. Sources told AP the safe was also a great source of power for Pecker, using embarrassing stories obtained about celebrities under catch-and-kill deals in order to ask them for favors in return for keeping stories secret.
  145. Cohen’s filings said Pecker “offered to help deal with negative stories about (Trump’s) relationships with women” by helping the campaign identify stories they could purchase to avoid publication.
  146. On Friday, CNN reported Dino Sajudin, the former doorman who says he has knowledge of an alleged affair Trump had with an ex-housekeeper, which resulted in a child, has been released from his contract with AMI.
  147. Sajudin was part of a “catch-and-kill” deal, in which he received $30,000 for the story, but it never ran. The story first became public in Week 74, when AMI responded by calling his story “not credible.”
  148. On Friday, in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley,all ten Democrats on the committee called for postponing the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
  149. The letter cited concerns about possible “criminal wrongdoing” by Trump, as well as doubts Kavanaugh believes a president can even be investigated, and the unprecedented lack of transparency in the confirmation process.
  150. On Friday, Trump called off a planned visit to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, days before the scheduled visit for the next round of nuclear talks, in a series of tweets.
  151. Trump tweeted he asked Pompeo not to go “because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization.” The tweets mark an abrupt shift: Trump had previously claimed progress was being made.
  152. A CNN reporter tweeted that State Department staffers were caught “completely off guard” by the cancellation, saying they had been “briefing allies’ embassies about their objectives” just ten minutes before.
  153. On Friday, Sen. John McCain’s family announced that he was ending medical treatment for aggressive brain cancer. Trump and the White House were silent amid the news.
  154. On Friday, Politico reported that despite the fact that Trump’s lawyers and a myriad of informal White House advisers have advised him against it,aides expect him to move forward and pardon Manafort.
  155. Aides said Trump wants to use his unilateral authority to issue pardons to absolve Manafort and is setting the stage to do so by calling Manafort a “brave man,” and continuing to criticize the Mueller probe.
  156. Unlike previous administrations that had formalized processes for selecting who receives a pardon, under the Trump regime, the pardon process in the White House has been far more ad hoc.
  157. On Wednesday, Axios reported Newt Gingrich wants to use Mollie Tibbetts, an 20-year-old University of Iowa student who was murdered by an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, to help the GOP in midterms.
  158. Gingrich said, “If Mollie Tibbetts is a household name by October, Democrats will be in deep trouble.” Fox News has been repeatedly covering the story, and Trump mentioned it at his West Virginia rally.
  159. Gingrich said he sees the Tibbetts story as a way to distract from the Manafort and Cohen stories, saying, “We are living in two alternative political universes.”
  160. The Tibbetts family has repeatedly asked that Mollie’s death not be politicized.
  161. On Friday, the Independent reported a network of Russian-linked Twitter accounts have been tweeting divisive content about Mollie Tibbetts’ deathin an apparent attempt to divert from stories about Cohen and Manafort.
  162. There was a flurry of activity starting Tuesday, after news on Manafort and Cohen. Throughout Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, #MollieTibbetts was the most shared hashtag among the Russian-linked accounts.
  163. On Saturday, Trump denied knowing about the Trump Tower meeting, tweeting, “I did NOT know about the meeting,” and adding, “just another phony story by the Fake News Media!”
  164. Trump also attacked Sessions again in a pair of tweets, saying Sessions “doesn’t understand what is happening underneath his command position,” with “highly conflicted Bob Mueller and his gang of 17 Angry Dems.”
  165. Trump also quoted Sen. Lindsey Graham, who had in 2017 strongly defended Sessions, in a tweet, saying, “Every President deserves an Attorney General they have confidence in,” and, “these are not lifetime appointments.”
  166. Trump also attacked the FBI in a series of tweets, saying the “big story” is “that the FBI ignored tens of thousands of Crooked Hillary Emails,” and threatening, “At some point I may have to get involved!”
  167. Trump also tweeted “this news is just out,” quoting Fox News in a tweet, saying, “The FBI only looked at 3000 of 675,000 Crooked Hillary Clinton Emails,” adding, ““The FBI looked at less than 1%” of Crooked’s Emails!”
  168. On Saturday, Senate Republicans who had once backed their former colleague said Sessions would likely be ousted after midterms, with Graham, John Cornyn, and Grassley saying they are open to a new AG.
  169. Although Graham said, “I don’t buy it,” that having Sessions in place was not the only way to protect Mueller, Sen. Bob Corker said, “We are in a sad place in our country’s history.”
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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 93: IT’S BEEN AN “OMAROSA” KIND OF WEEK

Week 92: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

August 18, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-92-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-7bef9cbac8bf

This week Trump met his match in former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, who launched a new book and publicly shared her stories and perspectives on Trump and his regime members. Their feud played out like a reality TV show, as Omarosa released recordings and White House staffers reportedly are living in fear of the next shoes to drop.

Trump reportedly sought to distract from Omarosa’s tour by revoking the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan, an unprecedented, authoritarian-like move that set up another public battle with intelligence officers, while Republicans largely stood silent. As the first Paul Manafort trial went for jury deliberation, Trump and Manafort’s attorney seemed strangely simpatico, raising concerns. Other signs of peril for Trump from the Mueller probe emerged as reporting that White House counsel Don McGahn is cooperating, and Michael Cohen has gone strangely silent, indicating a possible plea deal. Meanwhile, the FBI fired Peter Strzok, leaving just one of James Comey’s corroborating witnesses still at the FBI: Deputy Director David Bowdich, who fired Strok contrary to FBI personnel office guidance.

Trump was again at war with the media this week, as over 400 news outlets published editorials critical of his treatment of the free press, to which he responded by calling the press the “opposition party.” The Senate took the unusual step of passing a measure stating the media is not the enemy of the people.

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Artist: Pegasus in Bristol, UK, 2018
  1. The Boston Globe said it plans to organize news outlets to run editorials on August 16 speaking about the dangers of the Trump’s assault on the press. As of early in the week, more than 100 newspapers had signed up.
  2. On Monday, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein told The Guardian that Trump’s anti-press rhetoric is “very close to incitement to violence” that leads to journalists censoring themselves or being attacked.
  3. On Saturday, Trump tweeted the “Fake News Media” refuses to report on “lowlife Christopher Steele’s many meetings” with Bruce and Nellie Ohr, adding Fusion paid for the “phony & discredited Dossier.”
  4. Bruce Ohr “STILL WORKS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF “JUSTICE”” adding, “our A.G. is scared stiff and Missing in Action,” and, “It is all starting to be revealed — not pretty. IG Report soon? Witch Hunt!”
  5. On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham told “Fox New Sunday” that Bruce Ohr was “at least unethical” because his wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Steele for the dossier, during the 2016 election.
  6. Graham added Bruce Ohr should not have had any role in investigating the Trump campaign, and “We need a special counsel to look at all things Department of Justice and FBI when it came to the Trump investigation.”
  7. On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani changed his position, telling “State of the Union” that there “was no conversation” between Trump and Comey about “going easy” on former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
  8. On Sunday, Trump encouraged a boycott tweeting, “Many @harleydavidson owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas. Great!” He added that many competitors are coming to the U.S.
  9. On Sunday, former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman told “Meet the Press” that she has personally heard a tape of Trump using the N-word during the filming of “The Apprentice.”
  10. Omarosa also provided a purported secret recording of chief of staff John Kelly “threatening” her in the White House Situation Room, a secure room where personal cell phones are not allowed, when he fired her in 2017.
  11. On Sunday, when asked to name the most prominent African-American West Wing staffer after the departure of Omarosa on “This Week,”Kellyanne Conway struggled to come up with anyone.
  12. On Sunday, at the “Unite the Right 2” rally at Lafayette Square in Washington D.C., fewer than 40 white supremacists showed up, after organizer Jason Kessler said he had hoped for 400 supporters.
  13. The group was met with by thousands of counter-protesters who filled their half of Lafayette Square, chanting, “Go home, Nazis!” “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!” and “Black lives matter!”
  14. KTLA News reported that at an apartment complex in Century City, California, Miguel Sanchez recorded a video of he and his coworker beingverbally attacked as “wetbacks” and having hot coffee thrown in his face.
  15. On Wednesday, a fire chief in East Syracuse, New York was demoted after a Facebook post about Rep. Maxine Waters, saying, “Maxine gives the word (expletive) a bad name.” The expletive was the N-word.
  16. According to a filing by the ACLU, two federal immigration agencies set a “trap” for immigrants seeking legal residency interviews at government offices, having them arrested and in some cases deported.
  17. Emails obtained revealed that ICE planned to target married immigrants who seek green cards. An ACLU representative said, “The government can’t create that path and then arrest folks for following that path.”
  18. On Wednesday, the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said in a report that Trump’s zero-tolerance policy “exacerbated” existing problems with tracking children.
  19. Ahead of a subcommittee hearing Thursday, Health and Human Services said it is unable to provide data on separated children from this year“because of the toll the family reunification effort is taking” on resources.
  20. The Young Turks reported ICE has ordered 60 “Wraps,” full-body restraints that resemble straitjackets, for restraining detainees “who may be non-compliant” during removal operations.
  21. CBS LA reported ICE detained Joel Arron as he was driving his wife, Maria del Carmen Venega, mother of five, to the hospital for a scheduled Cesarean section on Wednesday, as they had to stop at a gas station.
  22. Del Carmen Venega said ICE approached them to ask for identification. Arron said he didn’t have the ID on him, but that they lived nearby and could go get it for them. ICE checked him for weapons and detained him.
  23. Del Carmen Venega then drove herself to the hospital. ICE issued a statement Friday, saying Arron is “a citizen of Mexico illegally residing in the United States,” and he is in custody “pending removal proceedings.”
  24. On Friday, NPR reported FEMA has begun scaling back financial assistance to Puerto Rico. FEMA said it will cover 90% of costs for emergency work, including items like power restoration and debris cleanup.
  25. The government of Puerto Rico plans to appeal. One official, Omar Marrero said, “Our government will continue demanding the equal treatment to which all Puerto Ricans are entitled as American citizens.”
  26. On Sunday, NYT reported Trump’s Department of Justice has abandoned its role under the Obama administration to stop states from implementing measures that suppressed the vote.
  27. Under AG Jeff Session, the DOJ has filed legal briefs in support of states resisting court orders to rein in voter ID requirements, stop aggressive purges of voter rolls, and redraw boundaries which dilute minority voting.
  28. After the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled struck down an Ohio law to scrub voters opposed by Obama’s DOJ, Sessions’ DOJ reversed course at the Supreme Court, siding with Ohio, as the lower court ruling was reversed.
  29. On Monday, Politico reported Trump offers White House staffers a merchandising credit from 15% to 70% off at his golf club, representing a blurring of lines between his private business and current position.
  30. On Monday, Forbes reported that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross met with Bill Furman, the CEO of Greenbrier Companies in May 2017, according to Ross’ calendar. At the time, Ross had a financial stake in Greenbrier.
  31. A report from government watchdog Campaign Legal Center found Ross took several actions that could affect his holding, including Greenbrier Companies coming before the department, possibly breaking the law.
  32. On Monday, in a press release the Department of Housing and Urban Development made its firmest commitment yet to tear down the 2015 Obama-era framework for enforcing the Fair Housing Act.
  33. The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, the strongest effort in decades to crack down on segregation and discriminatory housing practices. Secretary Ben Carson said the rule had “unworkable requirements.”
  34. On Sunday, Trump told WAPO in a statement, “Don has received notoriety for a brief meeting, that many politicians would have taken” adding “to the best of my knowledge, nothing happened after the meeting concluded.”
  35. Trump also said in the prepared statement that Donald Jr. is “a natural” and that his namesake has turned out to be “a wonderful son” who has taken to the new family business as a campaign star.
  36. On Sunday, Bobby Goodlatte, son of GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte tweeted that he “gave the maximum allowed donation to Jennifer Lewis, a democrat running” for his father’s seat. Bobby also helped fundraise for Lewis.
  37. Bobby tweeted, “I’m deeply embarrassed that Peter Strzok’s career was ruined by my father’s political grandstanding,” adding that the committee hearing was a “low point” for Congress.
  38. On Monday, Stephen Miller’s uncle, David Glosser, wrote an op-ed calling Miller a hypocrite on immigration, saying his great grandfather came to the U.S. as an immigrant fleeing anti-Jewish pogroms in what is now Belarus.
  39. Once his great grandfather had settled and raised money, he was able to gain passage for his family, a process now known as “chain migration,” and which Miller is advocating to eliminate.
  40. On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Friedrich, who was appointed by Trump, denied a motion by Concord Management and Consulting LLC to dismiss an indictment on the grounds Mueller was appointed unlawfully.
  41. The company allegedly has ties to Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, a Russian businessman better known as “Putin’s chef” who is accused of funding a Russian troll farm used to sow dissent during the 2016 election.
  42. On Monday, CNN reported that according to two intelligence agencies, the Kremlin is “pleased” with the Helsinki summit between Trump and Putin, and said that it delivered a better outcome than it had expected.
  43. On Tuesday, Politico reported the FBI is examining a college U.S.-Russia exchange program involving Alexander Torshin. Six years ago he hosted young Americans visiting Moscow as part of cultural exchange programs.
  44. A former student who participated in the program said the FBI agents questioning him said they had “a great degree of confidence that the trips were part of an effort to spot and assess future intelligence assets.”
  45. On Monday, Peter Strzok was fired from the FBI. Strzok’s attorney said the firing was not handled in the usual manner of employee discipline, saying Strzok should face a demotion and a 60-day suspension.
  46. Trump tweeted, “Agent Peter Strzok was just fired from the FBI — finally,” adding, “The list of bad players in the FBI & DOJ gets longer & longer,” and “Strzok was in charge of the Witch Hunt, will it be dropped?”
  47. Minutes later, Trump tweeted, “Just fired Agent Strzok” who “was in charge of the Crooked Hillary Clinton sham investigation” adding theinvestigation was “a total fraud” and “should be properly redone!
  48. Rachel Maddow reported the Trump regime is getting rid of Comey’s corroborating witnesses. The only one who remains, Deputy Director David Bowdich, fired Strzok contrary to FBI personnel office guidance.
  49. Of the others, Andrew McCabe were fired, Jim Rybicki, James Baker and Lisa Page were reassigned or quit under fire, and Carl Ghattas is leaving the FBI. Comey was also fired.
  50. On Tuesday, Giuliani falsely claimed in an interview about the Mueller probe, “If it isn’t over by September, then we have a very, very serious violation of the Justice Department rules,” citing a 60-day quiet period.
  51. Bloomberg reported, according to officials, Mueller can continue his probe up to and after the midterms without violating a Justice Department policy against actions intended “for the purpose of affecting any election.”
  52. On Wednesday, Giuliani said Trump’s lawyers are preparing a memo to oppose a potential subpoena from Mueller for an interview with Trump. He said they have not had a response from Mueller to their latest offer.
  53. Giuliani said Trump attorney Emmet Flood “would have a big role to play here and would assert presidential privilege.” He added Trump’s legal team is mapping out a subpoena battle that could stretch on for months.
  54. Daily Beast reported Daniel Gelbinovich, a former Trump campaign staffer,reached out on behalf of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich to try to find lobbyists to help him stay off the Treasury Department sanction list.
  55. On Thursday, the special master in Cohen’s case said in a filing she found more than 7,000 privileged items in total. Cohen and his attorney Lanny Davis have been silent this week, fueling speculation of a plea deal.
  56. On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul told Fox News he will ask Trump and the Treasury Department to lift sanctions on members of the Russian legislature so they can travel to the U.S. for meetings with U.S. officials.
  57. Paul wants to lift sanctions on two lawmakers, Leonid Slutsky and Konstantin Kosachev, who chair relevant committees. Kosachev was put under sanctions in April 2018 for his role in 2016 election interference.
  58. On Friday, Mueller’s team told the court in a filing that George Papadopoulos lied about his contacts with Russian operatives and “caused damage” to and had a “significant effect” on the government’s inquiry.
  59. Papadopoulos lied about the “timing, extent and nature” of the meetings and about his conversations with Joseph Mifsud, undermining investigators’ ability to “potentially detain or arrest” Mifsud in he was still in the U.S.
  60. In the filing, Mueller’s team recommended that Papadopoulos be imprisoned for up to six months. A judge is expected to issue a ruling on his sentence in early September.
  61. On Monday, the prosecution rested in the first Manafort trial after 10 days of testimony from 27 witnesses. The defense did not call any witnesses. Manafort has been charged with 18 tax and banking crimes.
  62. The last witness was James Brennan, a vice president of Federal Savings Bank, who said he faced so much pressure to approve Manafort’s loan, he lied on a form reviewed by federal regulators and the bank’s directors.
  63. Brennan said he gave a second loan for $6.5 million a “4,” a rating that would allow it to approved, under pressure from Stephen Calk . The bank lost $11.8 million on the loans it made to Manafort.
  64. On Tuesday, in a email released by the DOJ, Manafort sent Kushner a recommendation on November 30, 2016 to appoint Stephen Calk as secretary of the Army, as he received the first part of a $16 million loan.
  65. Manafort also included two other possible appointees. Kushner responded that same day, “On it!” Manafort got a $9.5 million loan in November 2016 and a $6.5 million loan in January 2017 around Trump’s inauguration.
  66. On Wednesday, the prosecution and defense gave their closing arguments in the high-stakes trial of Manafort. Jury deliberation began on Thursday.
  67. On Friday, as the country looked on, the jury in the Manafort trial broke for the weekend, saying they would not reach a verdict by 5 p.m. The jury will return Monday for a third day of deliberations.
  68. On Friday, Judge T.S. Ellis III revealed in court that he has received death threats during the Manafort trial, and has had a U.S. marshals detail following him at all times.
  69. Judge Ellis said several media outlets have filed a motion requesting the jurors’ information, and although “a thirsty press is essential,” he will not make names public to protect their safety.
  70. On Friday, Trump told reporters, “I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad,” adding Manafort is “a very good person,” and, “I think it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort.”
  71. On Friday, Kevin Downing, Manafort’s defense attorney, told reporters they “really appreciate the support of President Trump.”
  72. On Monday, Trump traveled to Fort Drum to sign a defense bill named for Sen. John McCain. Neither Trump nor Vice President Pence mentioned McCain, who has been critical of Trump, at the ceremony.
  73. On Monday, at a fundraiser for Rep. Claudia Tenney, Trump called Rep. Maxine Waters “a low IQ person,” and claimed, “she wants people to be violent. She wants people to attack.”
  74. On Monday, in a series of tweets, Trump attacked “Wacky Omarosa” who he said was “vicious, but not smart,” saying she “begged me for a job, tears in her eyes,” and “People in the White House hated her.”
  75. Trump tweeted when chief of staff Kelly joined he told Trump that Omarosa is “a loser & nothing but problems,” but Trump told Kelly to work it out because “she only said GREAT things about me.”
  76. On Tuesday, George Conway, husband of Kellyanne, criticized Trump, amplifying a tweet asking what would happen if a CEO hadn’t fired an unqualified employee because the employee constantly praised him?
  77. On Monday, Trump tweeted on accusation of him using the N-word Mark Burnett, “called to say that there are NO TAPES of the Apprentice,” adding, “I don’t have that word in my vocabulary, and never have. She made it up.”
  78. Trump also tweeted, calling Omarosa, “Wacky and Deranged,” saying of the tapes, “She made it up,” and that she had “Zero credibility with the Media” until she worked at the White House.
  79. Former Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson denied a conversation about Trump using the N-word took place, telling Fox News, “No, that did not happen. Sounds like she is writing a script for a movie.”
  80. On Tuesday, CBS News reported a new recording obtained back up Omarosa’s story that several Trump advisers discussed an alleged tape of him using the N-word during the 2016 campaign.
  81. Pierson is heard saying on the recording, “I am trying to find at least what context it was used in to help us maybe try to figure out a way to spin it,” and “He said. No, he said it. He is embarrassed by it.”
  82. On Tuesday, Trump attacked Omarosa on Twitter, calling her a “crazed, crying lowlife” and a “dog,” after her allegations against him of mental deterioration and racism.
  83. On Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Sanders held the first daily press briefing in two weeks.
  84. At the daily press briefing, when asked if she could guarantee Trump had never been recorded using the N-word, Sanders said “I can’t guarantee anything.”
  85. On Tuesday, in a morning Twitter rant that lasted two hours long, Trump attacked Attorney General Sessions, saying, “If we had a real Attorney General, this Witch Hunt would never have been started!”
  86. Trump also quoted conservative guests on Fox News, including Tom Fitton, tweeting, “There would be no Mueller Special Councel to investigate so called collusion but for the machinations of Strzok & his colleagues.”
  87. Trump also attacked Strzok, tweeting he is a “fraud,” as is “the rigged investigation he started,” adding, “there was no Collusion or Obstruction with Russia,” and “why isn’t this so-called “probe” ended immediately?”
  88. Trump also repeated his frequent false claim, “The only Collusion and Obstruction was by Crooked Hillary, the Democrats and the DNC!”
  89. On Tuesday, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. filed for arbitration proceedings against Omarosa, after she released her tell-all book, for “breach of her 2016 confidentiality agreement with the Trump Campaign.
  90. Omarosa told PBS that she signed a nondisclosure statement Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and another one in 2003 when she was on “The Apprentice,” but did not sign one with the White House.
  91. On Tuesday, at the daily briefing, Sanders refused to answer whether she had signed a non-disclosure agreement when joining the White House, after claiming the agreements are common for government officials.
  92. On Tuesday, Omarosa claimed Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos mocked the black students after a speech, saying, “They don’t get it. They don’t have the capacity to understand what we’re trying to accomplish.”
  93. On Tuesday, Politico reported with Omarosa’s slow leak of tapes, Trump aides are “absolutely terrified,” much in the way that the WikiLeaks slow dump impacted the Clinton’s campaign.
  94. On Wednesday, Axios reported Trump advisers counseled him to hold his tongue when Omarosa’s book came out, telling him engaging would only boost book sales. First Lady Melania Trump advised him to stay above it.
  95. On Thursday, Vanity Fair reported Trump told advisers that he wants Sessions to have Omarosa arrested. One former West West official said, “He’s known her for 15 years and thinks it’s a personal betrayal.”
  96. On Friday, AP reported in addition to tape recordings, Omarosa has a stash of video, emails, text messages, and other documentation supporting the claims she makes in her book.
  97. On Thursday, a judge ruled against Trump, thwarting an attempt by the Trump campaign to keep a lawsuit filed by Jessica Denson saying she was subjected to “harassment and sexual discrimination” out of open court.
  98. The ruling exposes weaknesses in the confidentiality agreements that staffers at Trump’s White House, campaign, and the Trump Organization signed — impacting Trump’s looming battle with Omarosa.
  99. On Tuesday, Sen. Paul said of his recent Moscow visit that Russia will not admit to election interference, saying, “It’s like asking a country to admit to spying. Are we going to wait until the end of time?”
  100. On Tuesday, in state primaries, Christine Hallquist became the first transgender candidate to be nominated for a governorship by a major party.
  101. Also on Tuesday, Minnesota state Rep. Ilhan Omar, who in Week 4 was verbally attacked by a D.C. cab driver for wearing a hijab, won her primary making her the second possible female Muslim American in the House.
  102. On Wednesday, in an unprecedented use of power, Trump revoked the security clearance of former C.I.A director John Brennan, citing Brennan’s “erratic” behavior and “increasingly frenzied commentary.”
  103. On Wednesday, at the daily press briefing, Sanders said Brennan “leveraged his status” with “access to highly sensitive information” to make “unfounded and outrageous allegations” against Trump.
  104. The White House announced the clearance of a number of other officials, including former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper are also under review.
  105. On Wednesday, in an interview with the WSJ, Trump said his motivation for revoking Brennan’s clearance was “the rigged witch hunt; [it] is a sham,” adding, “and these people led it!”
  106. On Thursday, in a scathing NYT op-ed, Brennan wrote, Trump “revoked my security clearance: to try to silence anyone who would dare challenge him.” Brennan also wrote, “Russian denials are, in a word, hogwash.”
  107. Brennan also called Trump’s claims of no collusion “hogwash,” saying “the only questions that remain are whether the collusion that took place constituted criminally liable conspiracy.”
  108. Brennan wrote the other questions are whether “obstruction of justice” occurred, and how many members of “Trump Incorporated” attempted “laundering and concealing the movement of money into their pockets.’
  109. Sen. Paul, who in Week 89 encouraged Trump to revoke security clearances, applauded Trump’s move. Several other GOP senators backed Trump with only Sens. Corker and Susan Collins saying they were uneasy.
  110. On Thursday, in a WAPO op-ed, William McRaven, who was commander of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command and oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, told Trump to revoke his security clearance.
  111. McRaven wrote Brennan “is one of the finest public servants I have ever known,” and “a man of unparalleled integrity,” and accused Trump of “McCarthy-era tactics” to “suppress the voices of criticism.”
  112. McRaven said he hoped Trump would “rise to the occasion” in office, but instead Trump has “embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.”
  113. On Thursday, more than a dozen bipartisan former intelligence chiefs issued a statement in support of Brennan, praising his work as head of the C.I.A and calling “allegations of wrongdoing” against him “baseless.”
  114. They accused Trump of trying to “stifle free speech,” and declared the removal of a security clearance as a “political tool” to be unprecedented. They also said it was “clearly a signal” to silence other security officials.
  115. On Friday, Politico reported that Bob Gates, who ran the Pentagon under Presidents W. Bush and Obama, also signed on to the bipartisan letter, bringing it to 14 officials. Gates previously had not spoken out.
  116. On Friday, Trump told reporters outside the White House, “I think that Bruce Ohr is a disgrace, with his wife, Nellie,” and said he plans to “very quickly” strip Bruce Ohr of his the security clearance.
  117. Trump also said of Brennan, “I’ve never respected him.” Trump also denied he had silenced Brennan, saying, “If anything, I’m giving him a bigger voice.”
  118. On Friday, 60 additional former CIA officials signed a statement saying, “former government officials have the right to express their unclassified views” on critical national security issues without fearing reprisals.
  119. On Friday, WAPO reported that a draft of steps against Brennan had been prepared in late July, but the decision to move forward this week was made to divert attention from nonstop coverage of Omarosa’s book.
  120. On Saturday, Trump attacked Brennan, tweeting he is a “loudmouth, partisan, political hack” who cannot be trusted with classified information, adding, “He will go down as easily the WORST in history.”
  121. On Thursday, Politico reported that the media has had diminishing access to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other Pentagon officials. Press already has restricted access to briefings, interviews, and travel with Mattis
  122. At a recent meeting with the press, Pentagon spokesperson Dana White told reporters she was watching what they wrote and put on-air, implying there would be repercussions for stories she and her staff did not like.
  123. On Thursday, 411 news outlets denounced Trump’s threats against the press in editorials. The Boston Globe wrote, “To label the press ‘the enemy of the people’ is as un-American as it is dangerous.”
  124. News outlets that participated ranged from big-city newspapers like the NYT and the Chicago Tribune, to smaller ones like the Van Buren County Democrat and the Swift County Monitor-News.
  125. On Thursday, Trump lashed out at the media, saying in all caps, “THEFAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY,” adding “It is very bad for our Great Country….BUT WE ARE WINNING!”
  126. Trump also attacked the Boston Globe, tweeting the Globe which “was sold to the the Failing New York Times,” and “then sold by the Times for 1 DOLLAR,” is “in COLLUSION with other papers on free press.”
  127. On Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution affirming that “the press is not the enemy of the people.”
  128. On Thursday, the Pentagon said the Trump regime may delay a military parade slated for this fall, noting the parade could cost up to $92 million, far more than the earlier estimates of between $10 million and $30 million.
  129. On Friday, Trump tweeted blame for higher cost on “the local politicianswho run Washington, D.C. (poorly) know a windfall when they see it,” saying “they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it.”
  130. Trump tweeted instead he will “attend the big parade already scheduled at Andrews Air Force Base” and “go to the Paris parade,” adding, “maybe he’ll do a parade in D.C. next year “when the cost comes WAY DOWN.”
  131. On Friday, NBC News reported Trump is frustrated with his national security team’s Afghanistan strategy, and is showing a renewed interest in a proposal by Blackwater founder Erik Prince’s to privatize the war.
  132. On Friday, in a morning tweet, Trump pushed for an end to quarterly earnings reports and go to a six-month system, saying, “that would allow greater flexibility & save money,” adding he “asked the SEC to study!”
  133. On Thursday, the White House announced Melania plans to address a cyberbullying summit about “the positive and negative effects of social media on youth” in Maryland next week as part of her “Be Best” initiative.
  134. On Friday, NYT reported in a piece about Melania that Trump tried to dissuade her from starting her “Be Best” anti-bullying campaign, asking her to choose a different topic instead.
  135. Trump was reportedly warned Melania that she was opening herself up toquestions and backlash given his tendency to bully on Twitter. Melania said she was prepared to face any criticism her project might attract.
  136. In a letter, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Patrick Leahy, and Dick Durbin asked Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley to make documents public which they say reveal Brett Kavanaugh “misled the Senate during his 2006 nomination hearing.”
  137. Questions are surrounding whether Kavanaugh misled the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2006 about his work on terrorism policy for the W. Bush administration after 9/11.
  138. The senators also said less than 3% of Kavanaugh’s records have been made available to the Committee, compared to Elena Kagan’s nomination where 99% of her White House records were made public.
  139. On Friday, prosecutors in the Southern District of New York sued New York businessman Moshe Lax, a former business partner of Ivanka Trump, for $60 million in unpaid tax liabilities.
  140. Though the complaint does not mention Ivanka or accuse her of wrongdoing, Madison Avenue Diamonds, the business that she helped run for years, figures prominently in the government’s case.
  141. Lax told at least one associate that he has discussed financial strategy with Trump. Lax reportedly said he wanted to strike while Trump’s name was hot to turn Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry into a $500 million brand.
  142. On Friday, WAPO reported the DOJ is investigating whether Elliott Broidy tried to sell his influence with the Trump regime by offering to deliver U.S. government actions in exchange for tens of millions of dollars.
  143. Investigators are examining a plan Broidy allegedly developed to persuade the Trump regime to extradite a Chinese dissident, as sought by Chinese President Xi. Prosecutors have also subpoenaed Steve Wynn in the matter.
  144. Investigators are also investigating claims Broidy sought $75 million from a Malaysian businessman to exchange for getting the DOJ to end its investigation of a development fund run by the Malaysian government.
  145. On Friday, CNN reported Mueller’s team has almost three times the number of exhibits it wants to show a jury in Manafort’s in the D.C. criminal trial, compared with what it used in his Virginia case.
  146. According to a court filing Thursday, prosecutors have “well over” 1,000 pieces of evidence for the D.C. case which starts in September. The evidence largely does not overlap with that used in the D.C. case.
  147. On Friday, the Hill reported despite Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s calls for senators to return to work this week, senators didn’t arrive until late Wednesday and held their last votes of the week at 1:45 p.m. Thursday.
  148. Seven Republicans, not including Sen. McCain, chose not to return to Washington D.C. At a private meeting Thursday, McConnell criticized his colleagues for skipping votes, and asked that they come back next week.
  149. On Saturday, in a series of tweets, Trump attacked social media companies of discriminating against conservatives, saying, “If you are weeding out Fake News, there is nothing so Fake as CNN & MSNBC.”
  150. Trump tweeted, “Too many voices are being destroyed,” and “too many mistakes are being made” and hinted he may intervene if accounts of his allies continue to be shut down.
  151. On Saturday, NYT reported White House counsel Donald McGahn has cooperated extensively in the Mueller probe of possible obstruction of justice by Trump.
  152. McGahn has been had at least three interviews with investigators totaling 30 hours over the past nine months, discussing Trump’s rage over the Russia probe and ways he urged McGahn to respond to it.
  153. On obstruction of justice, McGahn has also provided a clear view of Trump at intimate moments at those times. McGahn’s cooperation began as part of Trump’s first team of criminal lawyers who decided to fully collaborate.
  154. Areas of interest include Trump’s comments and actions during the Comey firing, Trump’s repeated urging for Sessions to claim oversight of the Mueller probe, and Trump’s attempts to fire Mueller.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 92: ENTRENCHED IN THE SWAMP

Week 91 of this administration: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

August 11, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-91-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-1fe8c655810b

This was a week of widespread and outrageous corruption in the Trump orbit — from Congressman Chris Collins and insider trading, to Secretary Wilbur Ross and grifting, to Secretary of State Kris Kobach miscounting votes, to the “Mar-a-Lago Crowd” controlling the Department of Veterans Affairs, and more. The phrase “drain the swamp” has disappeared from Trump’s vernacular, as he and his apostles appear to be squarely inside the swamp.

As Paul Manafort’s trial sped along, several associates of Roger Stone were subpoenaed, suggesting he is a point of focus in the Mueller probe. Trump and his surrogates continued to ramp up attacks on the Mueller probe, and related areas like the FBI — and several plan to focus on a new shiny coin: Bruce Ohr. A surreptitiously taped and leaked audio of a Republican fundraiser revealed House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes’ plans to protect Trump at all costs, including the possible impeachment of deputy AG Rod Rosenstein.

Themes of white nationalism were front and center this week with a diatribe by Fox News host Laura Ingraham on changing demographics, and the regime’s continued efforts to whiten America, while ignoring brown lives lost in Puerto Rico and inhumanely separated at our Southern border. As the week came to a close, on the one-year anniversary of Charlottesville, Trump condemned “all types of racism,” in simpatico with white nationalist leader Jason Kessler who stated, “White people should be able to have the same rights as other groups.”

Below: “Doomsday Donald” by UK artist Chris Czee Tampin. August 2018. https://www.czee13.com/czee13

IMG_5560

  1. On Saturday, at a rally in Ohio, Trump staked out a new position on U.S. elections interference, saying, “It’s a lot of people…Russia is there, China is there. We are doing well with North Korea, but they’re probably there.”
  2. Trump said the meddling will “happen really big now” because the U.S. is “taking our wealth back.” Trump also criticized the media and the “elite” class, saying “it drives them crazy” that he won the presidency.
  3. On Sunday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar told “Meet the Press” that she is very concerned the midterm elections could come under digital assault, adding Trump is still “undermining this on national TV” and saying “it’s a hoax.”
  4. Klobuchar also said the Russians are not stopping with election interference, saying she would “love to see” concerns “broadened out” to discuss the threats to our power grid system and our financial system.
  5. On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Times reported Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said Russian operatives have “penetrated certain counties in the state” ahead of the midterms, and “they now have free rein to move about.”
  6. Nelson and GOP Sen. Marco Rubio wrote a letter in July to 67 county election supervisors about potential threats. Nelson is running for re-election against Gov. Rick Scott, who denied knowledge of the allegations.
  7. Sen. Mark Warner, ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement, “Russian activities continue to pose a threat…I hope all state and local elections officials, including Florida’s, will take this issue seriously.”
  8. Security activists filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia that included exhibits from activists and voters who experienced a series of irregularities in the 2016 election and May 2017 primary.
  9. The lawsuit comes amid swelling public concern for the security of Georgia’s voting systems. Mueller’s July 2018 indictment indicated that Russian operatives visited county election websites in Georgia.
  10. Cybersecurity experts warned there were security flaws on the state election website leading up to the 2016 contest that permitted the download and manipulation of voter information.
  11. On Monday, Sen. Rand Paul led a U.S. delegation to visit Moscow in what he characterized as a continuation of Trump’s diplomatic outreach to Putin. Paul met with members of the Russian Council.
  12. Paul met with Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the council’s foreign policy panel, who was put under U.S. sanction for Russia’s actions againstthe U.S. government in April 2018.
  13. Paul said Monday he invited Russian lawmakers to visit Washington. When asked by CNN whether the issue of Russian interference came up, Paul said he had “general discussions about a lot of issues.”
  14. Paul was joined by Texas State Sen. Don Huffines, and his twin brother Phillip who ran unsuccessfully for a Texas state senate seat. On Tuesday, Sen. Huffines took to Twitter to defend his visit to Moscow.
  15. On Wednesday, Paul delivered a letter from Trump to Putin that Paul said “emphasized the importance of further engagement” between the two leaders on issues such as countering terrorism.
  16. On Saturday, WAPO reported Trump is privately brooding about the widening fallout of the Russia probe, and fretting that he is not getting enough credit for what he claims are political triumphs.
  17. Trump is concerned the Mueller probe could ruin the lives of what he calls “innocent and decent people,” including Donald Jr. who he believes may have inadvertently wandered into legal jeopardy with the June 9 meeting.
  18. On Sunday, Trump tweeted about the WAPO story, saying the “Fake News” is reporting “a complete fabrication” about the meeting “my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower.”
  19. Trump also admitted, “this was a meeting to get information on an opponent,” and falsely claiming it was “totally legal and done all the time in politics.” Trump also added, “I did not know about it!”
  20. Trump also tweeted, without evidence, “Mueller and the 17 Angry Democrats” are biased, saying, “This is the most one sided Witch Hunt in the history of our country,” calling it again a “Rigged Witch Hunt.”
  21. On Sunday, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow told “This Week” that he made a mistake by denying Trump was involved in a misleading statement last year on Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting, saying he had “bad information.”
  22. Hope Hicks, who was reportedly visiting Ivanka and Jared at Trump’s Bedminster golf club, ended up joining Trump aboard Air Force One on Saturday to attend his rally in Ohio that evening.
  23. Hicks’ presence sparked speculation she might rejoin the regime, but also noted was her role in July 2017 in helping Trump draft a misleading statement on Air Force One about the June 9 Trump Tower meeting.
  24. On Saturday, First Lady Melania Trump issued a statement in support of LeBron James, saying he is doing “good things on behalf of our next generation,”after Trump disparaged James in Week 90.
  25. On Sunday, Portland, Oregon’s police chief ordered a review of her officers’ behavior at a far-right rally Saturday, after accusations the police were heavy-handed in their crackdown against anti-fascist protesters.
  26. On Wednesday, Fox News host Laura Ingraham complained that changing U.S. demographics have been “foisted” on the American people, saying “it does seem like the America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore.”
  27. Ingraham also said of the demographic changes, “none of us ever voted for and most of us don’t like,” adding, “much of this is related to both illegal, and in some cases, legal immigration that, of course, progressives love.”
  28. On Thursday, Ingraham tried to distance herself from the white supremacists cheering her comments, saying her comments had “nothing to do with race or ethnicity” but a “shared goal of keeping America safe.”
  29. On Friday, Trump slammed the NFL players who knelt during preseason games, tweeting, “the NFL players are at it again — taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem.”
  30. Trump suggested players who “make a fortune doing what they love” should “Be happy, be cool,” adding, “Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!”
  31. On Sunday, Trump again attacked the media, tweeting “it’s true” that they are “the Enemy of the People,” saying they “purposely cause great division & distrust,” can also “cause War,” and they are “very dangerous & sick!”
  32. On Sunday, Fox News’ Chris Wallace challenged national security adviser John Bolton about Trump’s tweet, asking “What wars have we started?” Bolton avoided the question, and said media bias has been around for a long time.
  33. Newseum issued an apology for selling “You Are Very Fake News” t-shirts in its gift shop and online, saying, “ A free press is an essential part of our democracy and journalists are not the enemy of the people.”
  34. On Monday, GOP strategist Karl Rove told Fox News that Trump should “tone down” his attacks on the media, comparing Trump’s use of the phrase “enemy of the people” to that of Stalin against his enemies.
  35. Politico reported the networks are boosting security staff for the first time to protect reporters at Trump’s rallies. Reporters say at recent events there is a sense that violence could easily break out at any time.
  36. Guardian reported the Trump regime rescinded an Obama-era ban which prohibited farmers from planting biotech crops engineered to resist insects. The pesticides are linked to declining bee populations.
  37. Rolling Stone reported the EPA is evaluating allowing asbestos, enacting the Significant New Use Rule, which allows the government to evaluate use on a case-by-case basis. Trump has long supported the use of asbestos.
  38. Not included in the evaluation process are the potential effects of exposure to chemicals in the air, ground, or water, allowing the EPA to circumvent an Obama-era law for evaluating potentially dangerous chemicals.
  39. Until recently, 95% of asbestos used in the U.S. came from Brazil, with the balance from Russia. Brazil recently banned asbestos, leaving Russia. A Russian asbestos company shared an image featuring Trump on Facebook.
  40. On Friday, NYT reported, according to internal emails, the EPA’s in-house scientists and lawyers objected to the agency’s new rules on a measure to review applications for using asbestos in consumer products.
  41. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is leading an effort among Democratic state attorneys to fight the asbestos plan. Exposure to asbestos has been linked to lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other ailments.
  42. Reuters reported that the second annual ‘America First Energy Conference’ this week was attended by some of the country’s most vocal climate change doubters, as well as by a handful of Trump administration officials.
  43. The presence of Trump officials gave a boost to outlandish ideas such aspumping carbon dioxide into the air makes the planet greener, and the United Nations produces fake science to control the global energy market.
  44. On Friday, Betsy DeVos’s Department of Education released a document outlining a proposal to scrap an Obama-era rule aimed at protecting students from career training programs.
  45. The “Gainful Employment” regulations required programs at for-profit-colleges that prepare students for careers to prove graduates were earning enough to repay the debt they incurred to complete the program.
  46. On Sunday, WSJ reported Canadians, upset with Trump over tariffs and treatment of their prime minister, are boycotting products made in the U.S. and buying Canadian.
  47. On Monday, South Carolina TV-maker Element Electronics said it will close its Winnsboro plant in response to tariffs imposed by Trump.
  48. On Monday, NBC News reported the limited number of H-2B visas being issued by the Trump regime is leaving companies that depend on foreign seasonal workers, like landscaping and crabbing businesses, struggling to stay afloat.
  49. Small business owners are losing revenue, saying American workers don’t want temporary jobs, leaving them unable to fill positions. The Trump family continues to use H-2B visas for their businesses.
  50. First lady Melania Trump’s parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, were sworn in as U.S. citizens, obtaining citizenship through a path referred to by Trump as “chain migration,” which Trump is currently trying to eliminate.
  51. The Knavses were eligible for green cards and to apply for citizenship because their daughter Melania is a citizen, the most common way immigrants to the U.S. get green cards and eventually become citizens.
  52. Trump’s paternal grandfather and mother, who migrated from Germany and Scotland, also used chain migration to become citizens, as did Ivana, Trump’s first wife and mother to his three oldest children.
  53. On Tuesday, NBC News reported that White House senior adviser Stephen Miller is working on a plan to limit the number of migrants who obtainlegal status in the U.S. His plan would circumvent Congress.
  54. According to a draft, immigrants living legally in the U.S. who have used, or whose households have used, popular public welfare programs like Obamacare or food stamps would be blocked from becoming citizens.
  55. On Tuesday, the ACLU sued Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others over policies instructing asylum officers that claims based on domestic or gang violence will not establish the basis for asylum or refugee status.
  56. The ACLU claims asylum seekers will be deported to places where they face grave danger. The Trump regime claim the asylum process is exploited by immigrants to pass credible fear screenings and be released into the country.
  57. The Texas Observer reported an ICE transport company van transporting eight Central American mothers separated from their children under “zero-tolerance” crashed in July. ICE denied the incident happened.
  58. When pressed further by the Observer, citing a San Marcos Police Department report on the accident and significant injuries to migrant mothers, ICE changed the story to the incident being a “fender bender.”
  59. On Thursday, Helen Aguirre Ferré, the White House director of media affairs for Latino and African-American news outlets, quietly resigned. The White House did not comment on her reason for leaving or her future.
  60. The Trump regime still does not offer a Spanish version of the White House website, available under the W. Bush and Obama administrations. The Spanish site was supposed to launch in late 2017.
  61. On Thursday, a federal judge in Washington halted a deportation of a woman and her daughter while a hearing appealing their deportations was underway, and threatened to hold Sessions in contempt of court.
  62. The ACLU said government attorneys in another case informed them that the pair was on a flight to El Salvador. When Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington was informed, he ordered the government to “turn the plane around.”
  63. WAPO reported, according to government data, the number of migrant families taken into custody along the border remained nearly unchanged from June to July, suggesting separating families did not deter migrants.
  64. WAPO reported, as of August 9, 559 of the 2,551 children separated from their parents remain separated. Since the July 26 deadline imposed by the court, the Trump regime has made almost no progress in reunificiations.
  65. The latest figures provided by the Trump regime show just 34 migrant parents waived the right to be reunified with their children, compared with the 120 that the government reported a week prior.
  66. On Thursday, NYT reported in a report to Congress, the Puerto Rico government acknowledged that Hurricane Maria killed an estimated 1,427, far more than the official death toll of 64.
  67. The estimate comes from comparing deaths in the last four months of 2017 to previous years. Officials say they await the outcome of the George Washington University study to provide certainty around final numbers.
  68. On Monday, Trump quoted Dan Bongino on “Fox & Friends,” saying “Collusion with Russia was very real,” and repeating his false claims that “Hillary Clinton and her team 100% colluded with the Russians.”
  69. Trump also parroted Bongino’s claim without evidence,“so did Adam Schiff,” saying he tried to collude with Russians “to obtain compromising material on DJT,” and adding “ we should demand a full investigation.”
  70. On Monday, Bloomberg reported the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe is likely to extend beyond the midterms, longer than chairman Richard Burr had hoped, for the panel plans to interview more witnesses for its final report.
  71. On Monday, at the Manafort trial, Rick Gates testified he and and Manafort had 15 foreign accounts which were not disclosed to the federal government. Gates said they also did not submit required forms at Manafort’s direction.
  72. Gates testified he committed crimes alongside and at the direction of Manafort. Gates said Ukraine former pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych’s backers moved money from accounts in Cyprus to Manafort.
  73. Gates also testified he cheated Manafort out of “several hundred thousand” dollars by submitting false expense reports. The monies were taken out of some of the undisclosed foreign bank accounts in Cyprus.
  74. On Tuesday, Gates admitted on cross-examination to having an affair, as Manafort’s defense team continued to try to hammer Gates’ credibility. Gates denied using company money for his affair.
  75. Gates testified that Manafort was paid $4 million a year to help Yanukovych govern after he was elected president in 2010. Yanukovych pivoted towards Moscow, which led to protests and his ouster in 2014.
  76. On Wednesday, the forensic accountant showed Manafort controlled or had a stake in 31 bank accounts in Cyprus, St. Vincent, the Grenadines, and the U.K., opened by Manafort, Gates, and Konstantin Kilimnik.
  77. On Wednesday, Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano said Judge T.S. Ellis has shown “an extraordinary bias” against prosecutors in the Manafort trial, and added, “He’s making too much of the case about him.”
  78. On Thursday, Judge Ellis apologized to jurors after berating prosecutorsfor allowing a witness to watch the proceedings, despite having given his earlier approval, saying, “It appears I may well have been wrong.”
  79. On Thursday, in a court filing, Mueller’s team asked to keep a discussion between trial attorneys and the judge regarding a question to Gates secret,signaling Gates may also be assisting in Mueller’s Russia probe.
  80. On Friday, for the second time in two days, prosecutors asked Judge Ellis to take back a critical remark directed at them in front of the jury, saying it could “sow confusion among the jurors about the merits of that charge.”
  81. On Friday, Dennis Raico, a former senior vice president at Federal Savings Bank, testified CEO Steve Calk “expedited” approval of $16 million in loans for Manafort, adding it “made me very uncomfortable.”
  82. On Friday, there was an unexplained five-hour delay in the Manafort trial. Before the lunch break, Judge Ellis stressed to jurors the importance of not discussing the case and told them to “keep an open mind.”
  83. NBC News reported Kristin Davis, the “Manhattan Madam” is scheduled to testify this week before Mueller’s grand jury in Washington. Davis said in July she believed it was in regard to her relationship with Roger Stone.
  84. On Thursday, MSNBC host Ari Melber reported Mueller’s office had “indicated” it plans to subpoena Randy Credico, the associate of Stone who was his alleged connection to Wikileaks during the 2016 election.
  85. On Friday, Credico said that he had received a subpoena to testify before the grand jury in Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference on September 7, and said he did not plan to fight it.
  86. On Friday, U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell found Andrew Miller, a Stone associate, in contempt for refusing to testify before the grand jury. Miller’s attorney plans to appeal the decision.
  87. According to a June court transcript, the subpoena of Miller seeks information about Stone and key figures in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, and the release of Democrats’ emails by Wikileaks.
  88. On Friday, Stone told the NYT, “the ongoing attempt to interrogate themappears to be an effort to fabricate some other ‘crime’ to pressure me into testifying” against Trump, adding, “It really has the smell of a witch hunt.”
  89. On Friday, BuzzFeed reported FBI agents and congressional investigators are examining a series of transactions which GOP operative Peter W. Smithmade as his effort to procure Clinton’s emails heated up.
  90. A day after he finished a report saying he was working with Trump campaign officials, he transferred $9,500 from an account to fund the email project to his personal account, and withdrew $4,900 in cash.
  91. Responding to an FBI subpoena, Smith’s bank, Northern Trust turned over documents showing 88 suspicious cash withdrawals totaling about $140,000 between January 2016 and April 2017.
  92. On Wednesday, Politico reported, according to a Russian document, Putin presented Trump with a series of requests in Helsinki, including new talks on controlling nuclear arms and prohibiting weapons in space.
  93. Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov complained about the document being leaked. U.S. officials have yet to be fully briefedby Trump on the contents of his two hour meeting with Putin.
  94. On Wednesday, more than a month past a statutory deadline and after being called out by Republican members of Congress, the Trump regime issued new sanctions against Russia for the U.K. Skripal poisoning.
  95. The U.S. had joined European countries in publicly blaming Moscow within days of the March attack, but the Trump regime had yet to issue the formal determination that triggers automatic sanctions in a 1991 law.
  96. The Chemical and Biological Weapons and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 will impose sanctions in two tranches: the first has little impact, the second, if Russia does not provide “reliable assurances” will be substantial.
  97. On Wednesday, WAPO reported the White House is drafting a sanctions order to punish foreign interference in U.S. elections, in an effort to appear serious about combatting Russian disinformation and hacking.
  98. The draft order is meant to stave off aggressive legislation introduced in the Senate in Week 90, and to answer continuing criticism that Trump has sided with Putin over U.S. intelligence on Russian hacking.
  99. In an effort to make the order palatable to Trump, Russia is not singled out, and reference is made to past attempts by the “Soviet Union” to interfere in U.S. elections. The draft grants Trump discretion on sanctions.
  100. A recent Gallup Poll found 40% of Republicans regard Russia as an ally or at least as a country friendly to the U.S., double the percentage from 2014.
  101. A new public opinion survey conducted by Ipsos found 43% of Republicans said that they believed Trump “should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.” Just 36% disagreed.
  102. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted congratulating “Troy Balderson on a great win in Ohio, and took credit for the win. The race remains undecided at the week’s end in a traditionally safe GOP district that Trump won by 11 points.
  103. On Tuesday, after election primary victories, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan was poised to become the first Muslim woman in Congress, and Sharice Davids of Kansas the first Native American. Davids is also openly gay.
  104. On Wednesday, Corey Stewart, the neo-Confederate Republican nominee for Senate in Virginia tweeted about Michigan gubernatorial candidateAbdul El-Sayed who lost her primary, calling her an “ISIS commie.”
  105. On Wednesday, in a tape obtained by “The Rachel Maddow Show” of a July GOP fundraiser, Rep. Devin Nunes said impeaching Rosenstein would delay the Senate’s ability to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
  106. In the audio from fundraiser for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Nunes said “Rosenstein deserves to be impeached,” and added, “if Sessions won’t unrecuse and Mueller won’t clear the president, we’re the only ones.”
  107. Nunes also suggested the Republicans must keep the House majority to protect Trump from the Mueller probe, saying, “We have to keep all these seats…We have to keep the majority.”
  108. Nunes also said, hypothetically, if a campaign received and released stolen emails from a foreign government — using an example of McMorris Rodgers and the country of Portugal — “Well, if that’s the case, then that’s criminal.”
  109. On Tuesday, Forbes reported on numerous allegations against Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross from his business days which have sparked lawsuits, reimbursements, and an SEC fine of more than $120 million.
  110. Mother Jones reported ex-Trump campaign aides Jason Osborne and Mike Rubino are lobbying for a Russian-backed Serbian separatist party in Bosnia, whose leader has been sanctioned by the Treasury Department.
  111. The two registered with the Justice Department to lobby for the political party of Milorad Dodik. Party officials have met with Steve Bannon, Corey Lewandowski, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.
  112. On Tuesday, WSJ reported Michael Cohen is under investigation by federal prosecutors for possible tax fraud, for underreporting income for his taxi-medallion business in federal tax returns.
  113. Prosecutors also are looking into whether any employees at the Sterling National Bank, which provided financing for Cohen’s taxi-medallion business, allowed Cohen to inflate collateral value to obtain loans.
  114. ProPublica reported three of Trump’s Palm Beach cronies — Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, Bruce Moskowitz, and Marc Sherman — have had significant influence in shaping veteran’s policies.
  115. None of the three have any military or government experience. VA insiders refer to them as the “Mar-a-Lago Crowd.” Trump has been a powerful ally — speaking on the phone and dining with Perlmutter frequently.
  116. Hundreds of documents obtained under the FOIA reveal the three hovered over public servants without transparency, accountability, or oversight, and have been calling the shots at Veterans Affairs since Trump took office.
  117. An analysis done by NBC News of revenue at Trump Hotel DC based on public filings and social media found substantial spending at the hotel by federal agencies, Trump’s political allies, and foreign governments.
  118. Trump took in more than $40 million in revenues from the hotel in 2017, and Ivanka took in $3.9 million. Trump loyalists and senior aides like Mike Pence, Rudy Giuliani, Larry Kudlow, and Lewandowski frequent the hotel.
  119. PACs and GOP campaigns have spent the most at the hotel. Religious groups and lobbyists for the petroleum and banking industries have held events there, as have foreign governments like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
  120. On Wednesday, Rep. Chris Collins, the first member of Congress to endorse Trump in February 2016, was charged with insider trading. In Trump‘s early days, Collins served as an informal liaison to Congress.
  121. A video was uncovered of what appears to be Collins calling his son to tell him to sell stock in Australian biotech company Innate while at the White House picnic on June 22, 2017.
  122. On Saturday, Rep. Collins reversed course and suspended his bid for re-election in 2018, saying he had decided it was “in the best interests” of his district, the Republican Party, and Trump’s agenda.
  123. On Wednesday, Reuters reported the Trump regime cut 40 jobs at the Office of Financial Research, a government agency tasked with identifying looming financial risks, created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
  124. On Thursday, Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer called on his opponent Secretary of State Kris Kobach to recuse himself from vote counting after multiple counties reported voting totals on the secretary of state’s website were inaccurate.
  125. Kobach was ahead by just 191 votes on election night, but at least two known errors had cost Colyer roughly 100 votes. Late Thursday, Kobach agreed to recuse himself.
  126. On Wednesday, Daily Beast reported Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the former “Apprentice” star who followed Trump to the White House, has secret recordings she made of Trump — the contents of which will be in her upcoming book.
  127. Omarosa said the tapes reveal Trump frequently used the word “nigger” while he was the host of the reality television show “Celebrity Apprentice,” although she did not personally hear him use the word.
  128. On Friday, WAPO reported Omarosa was offered a $15,000-a-month contract by Trump campaign adviser Lara Trump to stay silent after being fired from her job as a White House aide in December 2017.
  129. The West Hollywood city council unanimously approved a proposal to remove Trump’s star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, citing costs of acts of vandalism and demonstrations.
  130. On Thursday, Tribune Media terminated its merger agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group, and sued the owner, alleging it failed to make sufficient efforts to get their $3.9 billion deal approved by regulators.
  131. After over a year of supporting the merger, Trump’s FCC Chair had soured on it in Week 88. The Hollywood Reporter noted Fox News, a competitor to Sinclair, was the big winner of the deal not going through.
  132. On Thursday, NYT reported senior American national security officials pushed to complete the NATO deal before the July 11 summit in Brussels began, to protect from Trump blowing up the deal while at the summit.
  133. National security adviser Bolton communicated through U.S. ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison. On July 4, NATO’s secretary general toldambassadors the usual infighting over the agreement had to be dropped.
  134. The new agreement, completed in advance of the summit, gives American national security officials the ability to assure the public and skittish allies, even while Trump continues to publicly bash NATO.
  135. On Wednesday, the 45th anniversary of Nixon’s resignation, Giuliani told Fox News host Sean Hannity in contrast to Nixon’s downfall, this time the wrongdoing is on the side of the investigator, not the president.
  136. Giuliani said, “In this case, the investigation was much worse than the no-crime,” and called the Mueller probe “Corrupt investigations through and through,” that is “going to lead to some very big reforms.”
  137. On Thursday, Trump lashed out, tweeting the Mueller probe is “an illegally brought Rigged Witch Hunt run by people who are totally corrupt and/or conflicted,” and ended his tweet with a foreboding, “Stay tuned!”
  138. On Thursday, the special master appointed after the Cohen raid said she “has concluded her review” of four million items to determine what is subject to attorney-client privilege.
  139. In the last batch of items reviewed, Cohen claimed 4,808 were privileged, while the special master agreed with the designation for about half. The documents have been turned over to federal prosecutors in New York.
  140. The Hill reported House Judiciary Committee chair Bob Goodlatte is preparing to subpoena people connected to the Steele dossier, including DOJ official Bruce Ohr, his wife Nellie Ohr, and Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson.
  141. Bruce Ohr is under GOP scrutiny for his contacts with Simpson and Steele during the 2016 election, while Nellie Ohr worked for Fusion GPS at that time. The committee will also go subpoena former FBI and DOJ officials.
  142. Sekulow and Nunes are also speaking out. Sekulow told “This Week” on Sunday that Ohr’s ties to Steele and Fusion GPS “concerned” him, and Nunes said Monday on “Hannity” that Ohr’s involvement is troubling.
  143. It is unclear why Ohr has become the focus of attention from Trump allies. Ohr was removed from the Deputy Attorney’s office when his ties to Steele came to public light. Most of the allegations have been public for months.
  144. On Friday, Sekulow and Giuliani hosted Sean Hannity’s afternoon radio show. The lawyers criticized Mueller’s Russia investigation, with Giuliani claiming Mueller’s investigation was “born in corruption.”
  145. WAPO reported although on vacation this week in Bedminster, New Jersey,Trump continued to actively tweet about the Mueller probe, and ancillary subjects such as the FBI and collusion, sending 10 tweets as of Friday.
  146. On Friday, Trump quoted Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo on the Mueller probe, tweeting, “No evidence to launch even an investigation into potential collusion…and here we are, a year and a half later.” This is false.
  147. Trump also quoted Jenna Ellis of the Washington Examiner, tweeting, “FBI thought they wouldn’t get caught because they thought that Hillary was going to win. There is overt bias…a double standard that needs to stop.”
  148. On Saturday, Trump attacked the FBI’s handling of Andrew McCabe’s text messages in a pair of tweets, asking “What are they hiding? McCabe wife took big campaign dollars from Hillary people…..”
  149. Trump threatened he may “get involved,” and asked, “Will the FBI ever recover it’s once stellar reputation, so badly damaged by Comey, McCabe, Peter S and his lover… FBI have been hurt by these clowns and losers!”
  150. On Wednesday, Donald Jr. posted a poll graphic to his Instagram account which doctored Trump’s approval from 40% up to 50%, ahead of Obama’s 45%, backing his father’s claim that he has better approval than Obama.
  151. After the doctored post was reported on, Donald Jr. deleted it on Friday, but not until after tens of thousands of people had seen, shared, or endorsed the false 50% approval rating.
  152. On Thursday, Vice President Pence laid out Trump’s plans for the Space Force, which would become the sixth branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, equal to the other five. The new branch needs to be approved by Congress.
  153. Shortly after Pence’s speech, Trump tweeted, “Space Force all the way!” and his campaign sent supporters an email asking them to vote on a Space Force logo, and to consider making a campaign donation.
  154. States of emergency were declared for the Commonwealth of Virginia and Charlottesville at the one-year anniversary of the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally and counter-protests that turned deadly last year.
  155. On Saturday, Trump tweeted “The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division,” and, reminiscent of his “both sides” remarks, said he condemns, “all types of racism and acts of violence.”
  156. Jason Kessler, a white nationalist leader who is organizing the Unite the Right 2018 rally in Lafayette Square on Sunday, said, “White people should be able to have the same rights as other groups.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 79: “FRAUDULENT SHYSTER” ~ WHY WASN’T THAT ENOUGH?

* A couple of thoughts before heading into the weekly list from Amy Siskind – I think I saw somewhere today that in Week 1 when she began this, she had like a list of “9.” The evidence of treason, kleptocracy, corruption, and collusion has increased so rapidly that, today, we are looking at a list of “170.” Remarkable. And frightening.

** Today’s artwork featured is that of Jim Carrey, the actor/artist. I used a couple pieces of his before, but this week, he was really on a roll with spot-on interpretations of the various ‘characters’ in this ‘shitshow’ we are being forced to endure.

*** An interesting point was brought up today on Twitter: If we had been more forceful in insisting that candidates divulge their tax information, we would have known without a doubt the extent of his corruption and we never would have gotten to this place. 

WHY WASN’T THAT ENOUGH ? : 

**** And I just had thoughts (regularly consumed by thoughts about this treasonous leadership) – When he dodged the draft FIVE times and said his personal Vietnam was seeing how many women he could sleep with, why wasn’t that enough? (to at least lose the support of the current military and every other American who has ever served for this country) – When he said he’d bring jobs back to America, but had all of his campaign merchandise made in China, why wasn’t that enough? (Factories are closing up and leaving left and right. Today we hear Harley Davidson is moving to Thailand) – When he mocked the disabled, why wasn’t that enough? – When he asked people how hot they think his daughter is, why wasn’t that enough? – When he said he’d like to date her if she wasn’t his daughter, why wasn’t that enough? – When he said he grabs women by their pussies, why wasn’t that enough? – 

What has this country become that we are so divided with an element of citizens that embrace this fraudulent shyster? My anger has just become sadness. I don’t want to fight. I want common sense and humanity to prevail. 

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“Scam-a-Gram”

Week 78 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

May 12, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-78-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-e2f79899deae

This week Trump threatened to take away media credentials, equating negative coverage to fake news. Trump and his surrogates continued to publicly undermine the Mueller probe, pressing for its completion and questioning the validity of its outcome; yet, seemed unprepared to handle the fallout of information made public by Stephanie Clifford’s attorney, Michael Avenatti.

This was another week of resignations and disquiet within Trump’s cabinet as he continues to bully dissent and turn a blind eye to kleptocracy, incompetence, and ethics violations. Against the advice of former senior officials, Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, further isolating America on the world stage. Acts of hate and distrust of “others” continue to escalate, as does the regime’s cruelty towards those not white, straight, and male. While Trump remains popular with his base, increasingly Americans are worried about aspects of everyday life that are forebodingly shifting ever-so subtly.

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“Psycho Mike-O”
  1. The Guardian reported the Trump regime hired an Israeli private intelligence agency to conduct a “dirty ops” campaign against Obama diplomats who negotiated the deal with Tehran.
  2. Individuals targeted include Ben Rhodes, a top national security adviser, and Colin Kahl, deputy assistant to Obama. Trump has a May 12 deadlinedecide whether to scrap or continue the Iran nuclear program.
  3. The New Yorker reported the intel firm was Black Cube, the same retained by Harvey Weinstein in 2016 to investigate the women and journalists who might come forward against him for sexual misconduct.
  4. On Sunday, WAPO reported Gina Haspel, Trump’s nominee for CIA director, sought to withdraw her nomination last Friday rather than face expected tough Senate questioning about her role in the agency’s interrogation program.
  5. White House aides, including press secretary Sarah Sanders and legislative affairs head Marc Short rushed to Langley Friday to push her to not withdraw. Saturday afternoon, Haspel agreed to move forward.
  6. On Sunday, NYT reported Sen. John McCain, as part of his final wishes,has told his inner circle does not want Trump to attend his funeral. McCain would however like Obama and George W. Bush to deliver eulogies.
  7. Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale” which has been made into a TV-series, told ABC News, “We’re not living in Gilead yet, but there are Gilead-like symptoms going on,” pointing to examples like attacks on the free press and attempts to roll back reproductive rights.
  8. On Monday, Trump called on Congress to pull back more than $15 billion in spending approved in the recent budget, half of which would come from two accounts within the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  9. HuffPost reported after several years of dramatic decline, the uninsured rate rose to 12.2% last year, up from 10.9% at the end of 2016, as Trump’s efforts to undermine Obamacare continue.
  10. In Rialto, California, a neighbor called the police on three black women who carried their luggage out of an Airbnb they had rented. The police responded as if it were an in-progress burglary, sending six police officers and a helicopter.
  11. On Monday, a white graduate student at Yale called the police on Lolade Siyonbola, a black student who was napping in a common area of their dorm. Siyonbola was questioned for 15 minutes by police, and forced to show her student ID.
  12. On Monday, Jeff Sessions announced the Trump regime will separate parents who enter the US illegally from their children, instead of keeping them in detention together.
  13. Sessions said, “If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you,” adding, “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.” The goal is to prosecute 100% who enter the US illegally.
  14. On Thursday, in an interview with NPR, when asked about separating migrant families at the border, chief of staff John Kelly said of immigrants, “They don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills” to assimilate well.
  15. Kelly also said he supported the Department of Homeland Securities recent decisions to end temporary protected status (TPS) for Haiti, El Salvador, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sudan, and Honduras.
  16. On Tuesday, Axios reported an annual study of 18–24 year-olds in 16 Arab states found a sharp spike in negative sentiment against the US: 57% see the US as the enemy (up from 32% in 2016) versus 35% who view the country as an ally.
  17. Further, 73% of Arab youth said Trump’s election has had a negative impact on their view of the US. Arab youth view Russia more favorably than the US, as the US fell out of the top five spots for the first time.
  18. The World reported a North Bend, Oregon school district is facing discrimination claims after a LGBTQ student was allegedly forced to read Bible passages as a form of punishment. The ACLU is involved in the case.
  19. On Friday, the Trump regime rolled back Obama-era rules that protected transgender inmates by allowing them to use facilities that match their gender identity, including cell blocks and bathrooms.
  20. Mediaite reported that in a video made last December Juan Pablo Andrade, a policy advisor for the Trump-tied nonprofit America First, praised Nazisand expressed disappointment that they didn’t “keep fucking going.”
  21. On Wednesday, at Senate hearings for Gina Haspel, former CIA operative turned activist 78 year-old Ray McGovern was tackled and thrown to the ground by police after protesting Haspel’s use of waterboarding, possibly dislocating his arm.
  22. BuzzFeed reported only families of Parkland shooting victims who are Trump supporters have received condolence letters or any sort of communication from Trump or the White House.
  23. On Thursday, Oliver North, the newly elected National Rifle Association President, said that gun control activists like the students from Parkland, are “civil terrorists.”
  24. On Tuesday, Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, the top White House official in charge of pandemic response, abruptly resigned after the the global health security team he oversaw was disbanded by John Bolton.
  25. The upheaval at Scott Pruitt’s EPA continued, as John Konkus, the press office’s second in command, became the fourth senior official to resign in the past week.
  26. BuzzFeed reported Elizabeth Erin Walsh, a high-ranking Commerce Department official, was escorted out of the department’s headquarters last Thursday. Sources say she is part of an internal investigation. Walsh is a former Goldman Sachs executive nominated by Trump.
  27. The publication Science reported Trump’s White House canceled NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System, a $10-million-a-year research line used to verify the national emission cuts agreed to in the Paris climate accords.
  28. After Sen. Tammy Baldwin announced she would not turn in a so-called blue slip for Trump judicial nominee Michael Brennan, judiciary chair Chuck Glassley broke Senate tradition by ignoring her and gave Brennan a hearing.
  29. On Tuesday, Rep. Daniel Donovan introduced a bill that would require post offices around the country to display pictures of Trump and Pence.
  30. Trump appointed Mehmet Oz, a discredited doctor who has long used his tv-show “Dr. Oz Show” as a platform to market alternative medicine, to his council on sport, fitness, and nutrition.
  31. On Monday, two top Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) to investigate that the three GOP FCC commissioners attended the CPAC conference in February.
  32. The letter comes after the OSC had concluded that one of the commissioners, Mike O’Rielly, had violated the Hatch Act during a CPAC panel discussion by urging voters to re-elect Trump, and issued a warning.
  33. On Monday, incoming Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held his first press conference, welcoming reporters but taking no questions.
  34. Politico reported Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has done numerous interviews with her father, chairman of a shipping company in China, in front of the Department of Transportation emblem, raising ethics concerns she is using her position to benefit her family business.
  35. On Tuesday, fair-housing advocates filed a lawsuit against the Department of Housing and Urban Development and HUD Secretary Ben Carson for suspending a 2015 Obama-era rule requiring communities to examine and address barriers to racial integration.
  36. On Wednesday, Mick Mulvaney’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said it will shut its student lending office, ending investigations on potential abuses by companies in the $1.5 trillion student loan market. The office had been responsible for returning $750 million in relief.
  37. On Monday, more than 10,000 EPA documents were made public under a Freedom of Information Act filed by the Sierra Club revealed the agency’s efforts to shield Pruitt from tough questions and public scrutiny.
  38. Emails show decisions to limit advance notice of Pruitt’s schedule, to limit questioning and control the message. Breaking from EPA tradition of 25 years, Pruitt does not do public speaking events on most official trips.
  39. On Monday, NYT reported that senior White House staffers are urging Trump to fire Pruitt. Aides say Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist and Pruitt’s deputy, could be just as effective at undoing regulations.
  40. NYT reported Pruitt dined last year in Rome with Cardinal George Pell, a prominent climate-science denialist who has sexual abuse allegations since 2016. The EPA’s official description of the dinner intentionally omitted the cardinal’s attendance.
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Scott Pruitt, “Environment Plundering Ass”
  1. Twenty days after the dinner, authorities in Australia charged Cardinal Pell with sexual assault. Whistleblower Kevin Chmielewski said EPA officials were concerned the meeting would reflect poorly on Pruitt if made public.
  2. On Friday, Trump continued to stand by Pruitt, saying “I do” have confidence in him despite Pruitt facing a dozen active investigations over lavish spending and ethical lapses.
  3. On Sunday, NYT reported Michael Cohen has spent much of his personal and professional life with immigrants from Russia and Ukraine. His father-in-law is from Ukraine, as was one of Cohen’s partners in the taxi business.
  4. As Cohen started working for Trump, limited liability companies he controlled started to amass real estate in all-cash deals, including five buildings in Manhattan between 2011 and 2015.
  5. Cohen also has a history of turning all-cash real estate deals for a huge profit in a short time. On one day in 2014, he sold four buildings in Manhattan for $32 million in cash. Banks steered clear of him.
  6. On Saturday, Rudy Giuliani appeared on Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News show, appearing to backpedal, saying, “I’m still learning [the facts] … I’ve been in the case for two weeks.”
  7. Giuliani insisted Trump did not violate campaign finance laws, “Every campaign finance expert, Republican and Democrat, will tell you…it was to save his family, to save embarrassment, it’s not a campaign donation.”
  8. On Sunday, Giuliani appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” changing his story again on Clifford, “You know, I’m not really involved in the — in the Daniels thing. So I don’t — I don’t know. I mean, he denies that it happened.”
  9. Giuliani smeared Clifford, calling her the “woman you saw on SNL last nite trying to make more money.” He also said, “I never thought $130k was a real payment. It’s a nuisance payment.”
  10. Giuliani also said Trump doesn’t need to comply with a subpoena from Mueller’s team, adding, “He’s the President of the United States. We can assert the same privileges other presidents have,” and said he wouldn’t rule out Trump asserting his Fifth Amendment right.
  11. Giuliani also said it was time for Rod Rosenstein to shut down the Mueller probe: “There’s no question that the amount of government misconduct is accumulating. I happen to believe it’s greater than anybody realizes.”
  12. Giuliani also said he can’t speak to whether Trump lied when he denied knowledge of the silencing agreement, adding, “But in any event, that’s not the crime.”
  13. On Sunday, Giuliani told CNN he is still getting up to speed on Trump’s legal situation two weeks later, adding “I am focused on the law more than the facts right now.”
  14. On Monday, Giuliani said Trump’s lawyers hope to decide by May 17, the one-year anniversary of Mueller’s appointment, whether Trump will testify in the Mueller probe. Trump’s lawyers remain divided.
  15. On Monday, Politico reported Trump had initially told aides he was bringing on Emmet Flood to replace Don McGahn, and did not want to lose Ty Cobb, who reportedly resigned in part because of the confusion over reporting lines.
  16. Reportedly, as Giuliani continues his media tour, and while they still speak daily, Trump is growing frustrated. Aides expect Trump to fire Giuliani if his behavior does not change.
  17. On Tuesday, AP reported Trump is annoyed Giuliani has reinvigorated the Clifford story and extended its lifespan. Concern has also been raised by the State Department and Pentagon that Giuliani is weighing in on foreign policy matters.
  18. On Monday, Trump suggested legal action is coming against Mueller’s team, tweeting, “The 13 Angry Democrats in charge of the Russian Witch Hunt are starting to find out that there is a Court System in place.”
  19. Trump accused the team of “unrevealed Conflicts of Interest!” without offering any proof. Several members of Mueller’s team have donated to Democrats. Mueller is a Republican appointed by George W. Bush, and Rosenstein was appointed by Trump.
  20. Trump also tweeted “Why is Peter S still there?” — referring to Strzok who remains at the FBI after Lisa Page resigned in Week 77. Trump again tweeted about the “Phony Witch Hunt” which he said will “wrongfully impacts the Mid-Term Elections.”
  21. On Monday, First Lady Melania Trump rolled out her first initiative, “Be Best,” which she said would tackle opioid abuse, social media pressures, and mental health issues for children. The link to “Be Best” website initially delivered an error message.
  22. Critics noted the similarities to a speech delivered by former First Lady Michelle Obama last year, urging men to “be better.”
  23. Critics also noted the similarities between the “Be Best” campaign materialand an educational booklet, “Talking With Kids About Being Online,” produced in the Obama-era by the Federal Trade Commission.
  24. On Tuesday, Trump announced he would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, despite pleas from our European allies. He called the agreement, “a great embarrassment to me as a citizen and all citizens of the United States.”
  25. Pence told Congress the US would no longer participate in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and would restore sanctions with 90- and 180-day wind-down periods.
  26. Former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, both pushed out by Trump, had been advocates for remaining in JCPOA. Bolton, the new NSA, has advocated for bombing Iran as recently as 2015.
  27. Iranian President Rouhani said he directed his country’s diplomats to negotiate with the Europeans, Russia, and China about remaining in the nuclear deal. Iran is ready to start unlimited uranium enrichment if negotiations fail.
  28. In a joint statement, Macron, Merkel and May expressed “regret and concern” over Trump’s decision, saying of JCPOA, “This agreement remains important for our shared security.”
  29. On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Boeing and Airbus licenses to replenish Iran’s aging fleet of commercial planes “will be revoked,” causing the companies to lose $39 billion in contracts.
  30. On Wednesday, the Agence France-Presse reported that Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia will “do everything we can” to build nuclear weapons if regional rival Iran does the same.
  31. On Thursday, in a speech honoring French President Macron, German Chancellor Merkel said Europe can no longer rely on US protection, saying “Europe must take its destiny in its own hands.”
  32. Foreign Policy reported Richard Johnson, a career civil servant and one of the State Department’s top experts on nuclear proliferation, resigned this week after Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.
  33. The resignation is a part of a brain drain officials warn about across the government, and especially in the State Department. The office Johnson led has gone from seven full-time staffers when Trump took office to none.
  34. On Thursday, Iran’s supreme leader shared a photo of himself reading Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” on Instagram. The photo was taken at this year’s Tehran International Book Fair.
  35. On Wednesday, Trump suggested pulling credentials from the media, citing a study by right-leaning Media Research Center which found 91% of media coverage of him was negative in 2018.
  36. Trump tweeted, “The Fake News is working overtime,” adding “91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake),” insinuating negative news is fake news, and threatened, “Take away credentials?”
  37. Margaret Talev, President of the White House Correspondents Association tweeted in response, “A free press must be able to report on the good, the bad, the momentous and the mundane, without fear or favor,”
  38. Talev added that a leader “preventing a free and independent press from covering the workings of our republic would be an unconscionable assault on the First Amendment.”
  39. On Wednesday, press secretary Sanders defended Trump, saying the regime is “very committed to a free press,” citing her near-daily briefings. Sanders added, “At the same time, the press has a responsibility to put out accurate information.”
  40. On Wednesday, the Trump regime hosted a gathering of 52 military mothers and spouses for Mothers Day. Attendees were all white women, despite racial and ethnic minority groups making up roughly 40% of armed services, and women serving as well.
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“Ukraine stops investigating Manafort (who helped destroy their democracy, and maybe ours) in exchange for a missile shipment from Trump. Congrats America, we are now a global protection racket.”
  1. At the gathering, Trump claimed earlier this year he approved the first pay raises for service members in a decade. This claim is false: pay has increased every year for more than three decades.
  2. On Sunday, Rep. Devin Nunes threatened that he planned to urge lawmakers to hold Sessions with contempt of court for failing to hand over classified materials related to the Russia investigation.
  3. On Tuesday, WAPO reported that last Wednesday senior FBI and national intelligence officials relayed an urgent message to the White House that the information Nunes is seeking could endanger a top-secret intelligence source.
  4. Top White House officials and Trump backed the decision after being persuaded that Sessions turning over documents could risk lives by exposing the source, a US citizen who has provided intelligence to the CIA and FBI.
  5. The information however has been turned over to Mueller. Nunes reportedly vented his frustration Sunday when he threatened Sessions.Several officials are concerned Trump may shift to support Nunes.
  6. On Wednesday, CBS News reported the Justice Department invited Reps. Nunes and Trey Gowdy to a briefing Thursday on the classified information Nunes demanded in a subpoena last week.
  7. On Thursday, Speaker Paul Ryan said he supports Nunes’ request to review surveillance documents, saying, “This request is perfectly appropriate.”
  8. On Thursday, after the private meeting, Nunes backed away from his open confrontation with the Justice Department after senior intelligence officials said they could not give him top-secret information about an intelligence source who aided Mueller.
  9. On Saturday, NYT reported that since the House Republicans issued their report finding no collusion between Trump and Russia in Week 76, Nunes’ committee has turned their attention from investigation to investigators.
  10. Top officials at the Justice Department are increasingly concerned that Nunes and Republican lawmakers are mining government secrets to weaponize against those investigating Trump, including Mueller.
  11. Nunes’ relationship with the Justice Department has so eroded that Speaker Ryan suggested Rep. Gowdy accompany Nunes on Thursday to help keep the meeting civil.
  12. AP reported that Mueller’s team has questioned Tom Barrack, one of Trump’s closest friends and confidants over decades, about possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.
  13. The interview, which reportedly happened months ago, focused on Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and included financial matters about the campaign, the transition, and Trump’s inauguration.
  14. On Sunday, WSJ reported that Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are planning to publicly release 3,000 Facebook ads bought by Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency (IRA).
  15. On Thursday the IRA ads were released. Some 3.7 million users clicked on the ads, and they were seen by over 33 million users, according to Facebook statistics. IRA spent $100,000 on the ads. Trump has yet to acknowledge Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  16. On Tuesday, NPR reported the US voting system is still vulnerable to cyberattacks six months ahead of midterms. Much of the process — registering to vote, finding the polling place, checking in, and voting — is still digital.
  17. The Department of Homeland Security said Russian hackers targeted 21 states in 2016. Hackers did break in to the registration system in Illinois, and stole the username and password of an election official in Arizona.
  18. On Wednesday, Politico reported Bolton is pushing to eliminate the top White House cybersecurity job, at a time the US faces growing digital threats. The role is currently held by Rob Joyce, who is departing.
  19. On Tuesday, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr said he hoped to wrap up the committee’s Russia probe in August, with a handful of witnesses left to interview and a number of interim reports to prepare.
  20. On Tuesday, Dutch attorney Alex van der Zwaan become the first person convicted in the Mueller probe to go to prison. His projected release date is June 4.
  21. On Friday, UK’s Electoral Commission fined Leave.EU £77,380 for breaches of election law in the 2016 EU referendum, and referred Leave.EU’s chief executive Liz Bilney to the police for “serious offenses.”
  22. On Thursday, Giuliani said Trump’s new lawyers have not held a lengthy prep session with Trump for a potential interview with Mueller’s team. Giuliani also said real negotiations about an interview are not happening.
  23. On Friday, in an interview with AP, Giuliani said Trump and his legal team will not decide whether Trump will agree to be interviewed by Muelleruntil after Trump’s summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on June 12.
  24. Giuliani said he did not expect Mueller to interview Ivanka, Donald Jr., Eric, or Kushner, adding “our understanding is that he’s pretty much finished,” and that Trump is “basically the last witness.”
  25. On Tuesday, Rachel Crooks, who alleges Trump kissed her without her consent when she was working as a receptionist in Trump Tower in 2006, secured her primary bid for state office in Ohio.
  26. In Tuesday’s primaries, women candidates won 17 of 20 Democratic races for open seats. Women donors have also set a new record, accounting for 31% of all monies going to House candidates, up from 27% in 2014.
  27. On Monday, New York AG Eric Schneiderman resigned after he was accused of physically abusing four women in an article published by The New Yorker. Trump had tweeted in 2013 on Schneiderman, “ Wait and see, worse than Spitzer or Weiner.”
  28. On Friday, Peter Gleason, who represented two additional alleged victims of Schneiderman, in a letter urged Judge Kimba Wood for an order to protect any records Cohen might have concerning their discussion of the women.
  29. On Tuesday, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney Michael Avenatti released a 7-page executive summary detailing payments to Essential Consultants, LLC, the entity established in October 2016 to make the hush payment to Clifford.
  30. Cohen set up an account at First Republic Bank in October 2016. In setting up the account, Cohen made certain representations that were false, constituting bank fraud. From October 2016 to January 2018 Cohen used the First Republic to engage in $4,425,033 of suspicious transactions.
  31. Essential received approximately $500,000 in eight payments from Russian oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg and his cousin Andrew Intrater through a company named Columbus Nova between January and August 2017. In Week 77, Vekselberg was interviewed by Mueller’s team.
  32. Intrater is the CEO of Columbus Nova, which was listed on the website of the Renova Group, a Russian asset management company, as one of its “companies” until November 2017. Renova’s website is currently listed as “under construction.”
  33. Intrater made several political donations, including $29,600 to the Republican National Committee in June 2017, $35,000 to the Trump Victory PAC in June 2017, and $250,000 to the Trump Inauguration Fund.
  34. Essential also received four payments of $99,980 each from Novartis from late 2017 to early 2018. Following these payments, Trump took a dinner meeting with the incoming Novartis CEO in Davos in late January 2018.
  35. Essential also received four payments of $50,000 from AT&T in late 2017 to early 2018. Essential also received a payment of $150,000 from Korea Aerospace Industries on November 27, 2017.
  36. Cohen also received, through Essential and/or Michael D. Cohen & Associates, at least $187,500 from Elliott Broidy.
  37. On Tuesday evening, AT&T confirmed it paid Cohen’s company $200,000 in four transactions, saying he “did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017.” AT&T asserted Cohen provided information about what made Trump tick.
  38. On Wednesday, Giuliani told TIME that Trump told him Tuesday night thathe does not know anything about payments from Vekselberg. But when asked about AT&T and Novartis, Giuliani said, “I have no idea. I doubt it.”
  39. On Wednesday, press secretary Sanders when asked about Avenatti’s allegations for Cohen selling access to Trump, responded, “I haven’t heard the president express any specific concerns about that.”
  40. Giuliani also said Trump’s legal team is confident that Mueller does not believe that Trump had a role in the transactions, saying, “He was good on it. Nobody’s concerned about it. It doesn’t involve us.”
  41. Later Wednesday, Giuliani told Bloomberg on the payments to Cohen,Trump “was unaware of this,” adding, Trump “is not involved in any respect. It’s a dead issue as far as I’m concerned.”
  42. On Wednesday, CNN reported Mueller’s team questioned Vekselberg, chairman of Renova Group, about payments made by the US subsidiary, Columbus Nova, to Cohen and Trump’s campaign and inaugural fund.
  43. Vekselberg was questioned about Intrater’s $300,000 in political donations to Trump. Intrater was also questioned in the Mueller probe. Vekselberg is under US sanction as of last month for actions including interfering in the 2016 election, so can no longer travel to the US.

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  1. In a statement, Columbus Nova said the company is “solely owned and controlled by Americans.” Cohen’s attorney has said Cohen has seven clients, but did not specify if Columbus Nova is one.
  2. Vekselberg, who attended Trump’s inauguration, this week attended the inauguration for Putin’s fourth term.
  3. On Friday, NPR reported that the FBI cautioned four years ago that a foundation controlled by Vekselberg, the Skolkovo Foundation, might have been acting on behalf of Russia’s intelligence services.
  4. In April 2014, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Lucia Ziobro wrote a column warning Vekselberg’s foundation may be part of a Moscow spying campaign seeking to siphon up American science and technology.
  5. On Wednesday, ProPublica reported Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s personal lawyer, also represented Columbus Nova in recent years in a commercial case. A spokesperson for Kasowitz said the case settled in early 2017.
  6. Kasowitz’s work for Columbus Nova stretches back to at least 2010. ProPublica also reported that Cohen spent a short period in February 2017 working at the offices of Kasowitz Benson Torres in midtown Manhattan
  7. On Wednesday, AT&T and Novartis both said they asked for information by Mueller’s team in November 2017 about their relationship with Essential Consulting. Both companies said they fully cooperated.
  8. On Wednesday, AT&T said it paid Cohen $600,000 (not $200,000), composed of a year’s payment of $50,000 per month, as part of a consulting contract to get insight into Trump’s thinking.
  9. On Wednesday, STAT reported that Cohen pitched himself to Novartis’ then-chief executive officer Joe Jimenez in early 2017, promising help gaining access to Trump and influential officials in the new regime.
  10. On Wednesday, Novartis issued a statement, saying the company had paid Cohen’s Essential Consultants $100,000 per month ($1.2 million total) for advice on how Trump would approach US health-care policy.
  11. Novartis said a month after signing the deal, executives met with Cohen and he “would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated.” The contract expired on February 2018.
  12. On Wednesday, the Treasury Department inspector general said it is investigating whether Suspicious Activity Reports on Cohen’s banking transactions were “improperly disseminated” to Avenatti.
  13. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Columbus Nova is listed as the owner of several websites targeted toward white nationalists, including Alt-right.co, Alternate-right.com, Alternate-rt.com, Alt-rite.com and others, created during the 2016 election.
  14. Intrater’s brother Frederick, who is a design manager at Columbus Nova, is also named alongside the company on the registration for the websites. Frederick claimed he was not acting on behalf of Columbus Nova, although he used his company email address.
  15. On Thursday, WAPO reported that according to documents obtained, the $600,000 payment by AT&T was part of a deal for Cohen to provide advice on the $85 billion merger with Time Warner.
  16. On Friday, AT&T issued a memo saying it did not hire Cohen to lobby on its behalf. AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson wrote in the memo, “our past association with Cohen was a serious misjudgment.”
  17. Also in the memo, Bob Quinn, AT&T’s head lobbyist who oversaw the hiring of Cohen, announced he is retiring. Two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters Quinn was forced to retire.
  18. On Friday, Giuliani escalated his battle with Avenatti, telling Business Insider he wouldn’t debate Avenatti as offered, because “I don’t get involved with pimps.
  19. Avenatti responded, tweeting “Hey Rudy — It turns out I’m not the only “pimp” you have experience with,” along with a video from Independent UK showing Giuliani dressed in drag while being seduced by Trump.
  20. On Friday, Avenatti tweeted, “Why was Mr. Cohen paying Demeter Direct Inc. in Los Angeles large sums of money from his Essential Consultants LLC account? Keep attacking me Mr. Giuliani and @foxnews.”
  21. On Friday, CNN reported Mark Ko, the head of a company called Demeter Direct, served as a middle person between Cohen and Korea Aerospace Industries. Ko said, “The payment was all legal based on the contract.”
  22. On Friday, WSJ reported Cohen had also made an overture to provide consulting services to Ford Motor Co. in January 2017, but was quickly rejected. Cohen had touted his proximity to Trump.
  23. Mueller’s team has since requested information from Ford about Cohen’s outreach including emails and records, and has interviewed Ford’s head of government affairs, Ziad Ojakli, who was the recipient of Cohen’s pitch.
  24. On Friday, Giuliani told HuffPost that Cohen never spoke with Trump about his big-dollar clients, saying “Whatever lobbying was done didn’t reach the president.”
  25. To offer proof, Giuliani admitted AT&T’s planned merger with Time Warner did not go through because of Trump, “ He did drain the swamp …The president denied the merger. They didn’t get the result they wanted.”
  26. On Saturday, Giuliani attempted to backtrack in the morning, telling CNN “He told me directly he didn’t interfere.” The White House also issued a statement saying, “The Department of Justice denied the deal.”
  27. On Thursday, Trump greeted three Americans freed from North Korean prison, two who were imprisoned while he was in office, at an air base in Maryland along with Melania, Pence, and Pompeo when they arrived at 3 a.m.
  28. Hours before the freed Americans arrived, Trump said in a cabinet meeting that “everyone thinks” he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for their release, adding “But I would never say it. The prize I want is victory for the world.”
  29. As Trump boarded Marine One back to the White House, he told reporters,“I think you probably broke the all-time in history television rating for 3 o’clock in the morning.”
  30. On Thursday, at a rally in Elkhart, Indiana with Pence, Trump got cheers from the crowd when he said he deserves an “extension” of his presidency past 8 years.
  31. Trump then tried to walk back the comment, saying the media would be “happy” when he is no longer in office, but that, “When I’m not here, their ratings are going to sink.”
  32. On Wednesday, NRATV host Dan Bongino warned that Trump will be impeached if Republicans lose the House in the midterms, urging his viewers, “It’s time for us to protect the crown.”
  33. On Thursday, a day after Sen. McCain opposed Haspel’s nomination, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney supported the use of torture on Fox Business, saying, “it worked on John. That’s why they call him ‘Songbird John.’”
  34. On Thursday, Kelly Sadler, a special assistant in the White House, said of McCain during a discussion among the White House communications staffers about Haspel’s nomination, “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.
  35. The White House refused to apologize for comments by Sadler, who showed up for work Friday. Sanders told reporters, “I’m not going to validate a leak one way or the other out of an internal staff meeting.”
  36. ABC News reported at a staff meeting Friday, Sanders called Sadler’s comment “unacceptable,” but was more upset about the leaks. Sadler apologized to Meghan McCain, but is not expected to be fired.
  37. On Friday, former Vice President Joe Biden, whose son died from the same type of brain cancer as McCain was diagnosed with, said, “People have wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration. It happened yesterday.”
  38. On Thursday, on NBC’s “Today” show, parroting Trump, Pence said that one year in it’s time to end the Mueller probe: “we’ve fully cooperated…I think it’s time to wrap it up.”
  39. On Thursday, Kelly told NPR of the Mueller probe, “Something that has gone on this long without any real meat on the bone, it suggests to me that there is nothing there, relative to our president.”
  40. Kelly also said Trump was “somewhat embarrassed, frankly” about the Russia probe, and that he and Trump have “a close relationship” and spend up to eight hours a day together.
  41. On Thursday, NYT reported Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told colleagues she almost resigned after Trump berated her in a lengthy tirade in front of his entire cabinet Wednesday for her failure to adequately secure the nation’s borders.
  42. One persistent issue which has upset Trump is Nielsen resisting his direction that parents be separated from their children when crossing illegally as a way to deter immigration.
  43. Nielsen, a Kelly protege, had drafted a resignation letter, but had not submitted it. One person close to Nielsen said she is miserable in the job. Trump reportedly views her with suspicion because she worked for years for George W. Bush.
  44. As Pruitt and Nielsen and Kelly have all been rumored to fired or resign, NPR reported Trump has already had more Cabinet turnover in his first term than any US leader in the past 100 years.
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“Elephants take a long time to decompose… and the stench can be unbearable.”
  1. Politico reported that based on a report it obtained, the first stage of a multibillion-dollar military-VA digital health program championed by Kushner was so riddled with problems it could have led to patient deaths.
  2. The Pentagon’s evaluation lists 156 “critical” or “severe” incident reports with the potential to result in patient deaths. The program’s price tag was $20 billion, and was designed to address problems with military and veteran health care.
  3. On Friday, Trump laid out his strategy to reduce prescription drug prices, but in a break from one of his most popular campaign promises, dropped his call for Medicare to negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers.
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“And let’s not kid ourselves… rotting donkeys stink too.”