POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 168: “A MIDDLE SCHOOL CLASSROOM”

JANUARY 25, 2020

Week 167

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-167/

This week the Senate impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump began, even as evidence continued to trickle out. House Democrat impeachment managers made their case for the two articles over three days, laying out their argument with an intricate presentation and appealing to Republicans’ better angels to put partisanship aside for the sake of preserving our fragile democracy. As the week came to a close, it appeared Senate Republicans were unwilling to do so.

The atmosphere of the largely obfuscated Senate chamber was described as that of a middle school classroom, with Senate Republicans joking and, at times, leaving the chamber in violation of Senate rules while Democrats were speaking. It was unclear by week’s end if Republicans would heed the polling which consistently showed the overwhelming majority of Americans wanted to hear from first-hand witnesses.

At the start of the trial, Trump visited Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum as staffers sought to portray him as a hard working president above the fray; but as would be typical with Trump’s trips abroad, he quickly devolved into making outlandish statements and insulting U.S. allies. On Wednesday, as he returned to Washington, Trump was sending a record volume of tweets and fuming over impeachment and that his defense would be presenting on Saturday, the “death valley” of television ratings.

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Cocoa Beach, Florida 24jan2020
  1. On Saturday, the National Archives apologized for an altered image of the 2017 Women’s March, saying, “We made a mistake,” and adding, “we are committed to “preserving our archival holdings, without alteration.”
  2. The Archives noted the image is not one of its archival records, but stated, “Nonetheless, we were wrong to alter the image.” The ACLU demanded an explanation, saying the National Archives took “the Orwellian step of trying to rewrite history.”
  3. On Monday, WAPO reported in his first three years in office, Trump has made 16,241 false or misleading claims. In both 2018 and 2019, Trump made the most false or misleading statements in October and November.
  4. The pace of lying has accelerated: from 1,999 claims in 2017 to 5,689 in 2018 — for a total of 7,688 in his first two years. In 2019, he made 8,155 false or misleading claims.
  5. Also three years in, WAPO and Partnership for Public Service found 23% (170 of the 741) of key positions in the executive branch have yet to have a nominee from Trump. Many positions have turned over multiple times.
  6. On Monday, the Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer study found 57% of people globally believe the media is “contaminated with untrustworthy information,” and 76% believe false information is being used as a weapon.
  7. On Saturday, in a detailed legal briefing, the House impeachment managers submitted their 46-page trial memorandum, asserting Trump tried to enlist a foreign government to help him win re-election.
  8. The memo also said Trump tried to conceal those actions from Congress, posing “a serious danger to our constitutional checks and balances” by ordering regime officials not to testify or turn over documents.
  9. On Saturday, Trump’s lead impeachment lawyers Jay Sekulow and White House counsel Pat Cipollone released their response to House Democrats’ articles of impeachment titled, “Answers of President Donald J. Trump.”
  10. Atlantic called the brief “a howl of rage,” noting it did not read like a legal argument, but like a grievance, calling impeachment “a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their President.”
  11. The seven-page brief called it “a brazen and unlawful attempt” to overturn the 2016 election and “interfere with the 2020 election,” calling the process “rigged,” and saying the articles “must be rejected.”
  12. On Sunday, Alan Dershowitz refused on “This Week” to say if Trump did anything wrong, and had no comment on the brief, saying, “I didn’t sign that brief,” and adding abuse of power is not an impeachable offense.
  13. Dershowitz argued Trump should not be impeached even if House Democrats prove their case, saying, “If the allegations are not impeachable, then this trial should result in an acquittal, regardless.”
  14. Lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff told “This Week” that Dershowitz’s argument that a president cannot be impeached for abuse of power is “absurdist.”
  15. Schiff added “the facts aren’t seriously contested,” adding, “because they can’t contest the facts, that the president cannot be impeached for abusing the power of his office,” just as they did in the House hearings.
  16. On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham told “State of the Union” the Senate GOP does not “have the votes” to dismiss the impeachment trial, but that Trump wants “this behind him” by the time of the State of the Union address.
  17. On Sunday, Schiff told CNN that the National Security Agency is withholding “potentially relevant documents” from Congress relating to the “issue of Ukraine” ahead of the trial, calling it “deeply concerning.”
  18. Schiff added there “are signs that the CIA may be on the same tragic course,” but did not elaborate. The NSA did not respond to CNN for comment.
  19. On Sunday, NYT reported journalists are up in arms about restrictions put in place by Senate Republican leadership that will limit their movement within the Capitol, and access to interview lawmakers, during the trial.
  20. Journalists would be confined to roped-off areas. C-SPAN is also calling on the Senate to allow television crews to document the trial, instead of the government-controlled cameras which limit what viewers see.
  21. On Saturday, Andrew Peek, the senior director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council, was put on leave, pending an investigation. The role was formerly filled by Fiona Hill and Tim Morrison.
  22. On Sunday, AP reported Peek was placed on administrative leave pending a security-related investigation, and was escorted out of the White House on Friday, after two-months in the role.
  23. On Sunday, Bloomberg reported Rear Admiral Peter Brown, Trump’s third homeland security and counter-terrorism adviser, is expected to be reassigned after six months in office.
  24. Brown was one of Trump’s staunchest defenders after Trump claimed Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama. He will take a new role overseeing Puerto Rico recovery. It was unclear why he was reassigned.
  25. On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Trump had nothing planned to honor MLK, according to the White House schedule. Trump did make an unscheduled, unannounced visit to the National Mall as he did last year.
  26. Unlike the past three presidents, Trump has not taken part in service projects to mark MLK Day, or observed the holiday publicly by making remarks or attending events. In 2018, Trump golfed on MLK Day.
  27. When asked about Trump’s MLK Day schedule, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters Martin Luther King Jr. would oppose impeaching Trump.
  28. On Monday, according to a new Gallup poll, Trump’s approval is at 44%, holding steady in the range of 43–45% in recent weeks. The poll found 46% want Trump to be convicted and removed by the Senate, 51% do not.
  29. On Monday, a new CNN poll found 51% say Trump should be removed, 45% said he should not. Notably, 69% say the Senate trial should include testimony from new witnesses who did not testify in the House inquiry.
  30. On Monday, the attorney for Lev Parnas asked Attorney General Bill Barr in a court filing to recuse himself from Parnas’ case, given Parnas’ public statement in Week 166 on Barr, and appoint a special prosecutor.
  31. On Monday, thousands of gun-rights advocates packed the Virginia Capitol, including armed militias carrying assault-style weapons. The rally unfolded peacefully despite fears of violence like Charlottesville in 2017.
  32. Roughly 6,000 protestors cleared metal detectors to Capitol Square to cheer fiery speeches, while roughly 16,000 remained outside the square. Police made one arrest.
  33. Trump tweeted, “The Democrat Party in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia are working hard to take away your 2nd Amendment rights. This is just the beginning. Don’t let it happen, VOTE REPUBLICAN in 2020!”
  34. Trump also tweeted on impeachment: “They didn’t want John Bolton and others in the House…Now they want them all in the Senate,” adding, “Not supposed to be that way!” This is a false — Bolton refused to testify.
  35. Trump also tweeted, “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer is now asking for “fairness,”” claiming, “he and the Democrat House members worked together to make sure I got ZERO fairness in the House.”
  36. Trump also tweeted, “I have never seen the Republican Party as Strong and as Unified as it is right now. Thank you!” and “95% Approval Rating in the Republican Party, A Record” — both of which are false statements.
  37. On Monday, in an 110-page briefing submitted to the Senate, Trump’s legal team argued the two charges were constitutionally flawed since they were approved on party lines and “do not remotely” reach the threshold.
  38. The briefing cited “the diluted standard” would “permanently weaken the presidency and forever alter the balance among the branches of government” in a way that “offends the constitutional design.”
  39. Trump’s team did not contest the basic facts of the House case, but claimed he did “absolutely nothing wrong,” saying he is being punished for a foreign policy decision, and calling the case against him “flimsy.”
  40. The briefing cited “House Democrats were determined from the outset to find some way — any way to corrupt the power of impeachment” in order to “overturn” in the 2016 election and “interfere” in the 2020 election.
  41. On Monday, The Hill reported Senate Democrats are pressing Supreme Court Justice John Roberts to rule in favor of calling witnesses in the impeachment trial, saying without them it would not be a fair trial.
  42. While Roberts is expected to refer major disputes back for a Senate vote, Democrats are hoping he will make a ruling, citing the precedent of then-Chief Justice Salmon Chase in the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson.
  43. Late in the day on Monday, shortly after the briefing was submitted, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled ground rules for the Senate trial, which would speed the process along and not allow witnesses without a separate vote.
  44. McConnell’s trial rules would limit each side to 24 hours of testimony over two days, and left open the possibility that the Senate could block new evidence not uncovered in the House impeachment inquiry.
  45. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it “a cover-up,” adding, McConnell “is saying he doesn’t want to hear any of the existing evidence, and he doesn’t want to hear any new evidence.”
  46. On Monday, WAPO reported Trump’s impeachment lawyers and his Senate GOP allies are quietly putting together a strategy should Democrats get enough votes to have witnesses publicly testify, especially Bolton.
  47. The final option would be to have Bolton testify in a classified setting, citing national security concerns, which would require Trump’s attorneys to request a classified setting and likely require 51 votes.
  48. Republicans say first they would try to fight his testifying in court, noting the potentially explosive nature of his testimony, but blocking him could carry political risks for Republicans.
  49. The ongoing discussions show the uncertainty Trump’s team faced as to how the trial would play out. Some Republicans noted while Trump’s team is trying to control the process, it is not up to them to decide.
  50. On Monday, Kellyanne Conway warned Democrats on Fox News that Republicans would call Hunter Biden, saying, “Be careful what you wish for…Witness number one would have to be Hunter Biden.”
  51. On Monday, Axios reported Cipollone plans to argue that calling Bolton would infringe on executive privilege, and weakening that privilege would make presidents less candid when they seek counsel going forward.
  52. On Monday, Trump picked eight House Republicans to advise Trump’s impeachment team: Reps. Jim Jordan, John Ratcliffe, Mike Johnson, Mark Meadows, Debbie Lesko, Lee Zeldin, Elise Stefanik, and Doug Collins.
  53. The White House said the House members “have provided guidance to the White House team, which was prohibited from participating in the proceedings concocted by Democrats in the House of Representatives.”
  54. On Monday, the Sacramento Bee Editorial Board wrote on the revelations in Parnas’ documents regarding Rep. Devin Nunes and his aide Derek Harvey, saying his “Ukraine lies are a betrayal. Voters in his district deserve better.”
  55. On Monday, as he headed to Davos for the World Economic Forum, Trump tweeted he would meet “World and Business Leaders and bring Good Policy,” adding, “We are now NUMBER ONE in the Universe, by FAR!!
  56. On Tuesday, in a speech at Davos, Trump warned the international community against heeding the advice of environmental activists, we must reject the “prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse.”
  57. Trump called activists “alarmists,” saying they want “absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives,” and they “want to destroy our economy, wreck our country or eradicate our liberty.”
  58. On Tuesday, CNN reported Trump was hesitant about leaving for Davos, and did not make a final decision until late last week, siding with aides who convinced him looking presidential on the world stage would be best.
  59. Some Trump aides had been against him traveling and thought he would be better positioned to respond from Washington. Trump was scheduled to be back in his hotel room by 2 p.m. in time for the trial.
  60. As is typical when Trump travels abroad, aides have ensured his hotel room has a TiVo-like device that allows him to watch Fox News. He will also have a phone to call aides and his phone for tweeting.
  61. On Monday, CNN reported Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein, 24, a student at Northeastern University from Iran, was deported Monday, despite an emergency stay granted by a Massachusetts district court.
  62. A federal detention hearing for Dehghani, who was returning to the U.S. on a student visa, was scheduled for Tuesday. U.S. Customs and Border Protection revoked Dehghani’s student visa and expedited his removal.
  63. On Tuesday, NBC News reported Vice President Mike Pence spoke at a church service Sunday in which religious leaders described the “demonic” nature of homosexuality, and said it was caused by “the devil.”
  64. On Tuesday, WVVA/NBC News reported a West Virginia biracial high school basketball player, Jace Colucci, found a drawing of a stick figure hung by a noose with his name in a rival team’s visiting team locker room.
  65. The incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Jace’s mother said this is not the first incident — at a game in 2019, a Snapchat video was forwarded to her of kids chanting: “hang Jace, hang Jace.”
  66. On Tuesday, Politico reported next Monday, the three-year anniversary of Trump’s original Muslim Ban, he is expected to announce an expansion of the travel ban to place restrictions on additional countries.
  67. The list of countries has not been finalized, but countries under consideration included Belarus, Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. Trump does not have properties at any of the countries on the list.
  68. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted he would attend the anti-abortion March for Life rally, the first president to do so. In Week 71, Stormy Daniels said Trump paid her for unprotected sex shortly after Barron was born.
  69. On Wednesday, the D.C. Attorney General sued Trump’s inaugural committee, saying it violated its nonprofit status by paying $1 million for a ballroom at Trump Hotel DC when it staff knew it was overpriced.
  70. The complaint cites, “These charges were unreasonable and improperly served to enrich” Trump’s business, and noted under D.C. law nonprofits cannot seek to generate profits for private individuals.
  71. Trump inaugural committee chair Thomas Barrack Jr. responded to accusation that the ballroom was also barely used, noting “elegance and seamless excellence without incident or interruption” of the inauguration.
  72. On Tuesday, the House Democrat impeachment managers argued in a letter to Cipollone that he is a “fact witness” in the impeachment case, and demanding that he disclose all first-hand involvement to the Senate.
  73. Democrats alleged Cipollone was part of the regime’s “efforts to conceal” Trump’s decision to withhold aid, and his representation “threatens to undermine the integrity” of the trial, as he may be “a material witness.”
  74. On Tuesday, a SurveyUSA poll found 71% of Republicans, 93% of Democrats, and 81% of Independents said McConnell should allow witnesses to testify. Just 15% of Republicans said he should not.
  75. On Tuesday, a Monmouth poll found 80% of Americans say Trump officials, as well as Trump himself, should be invited to testify at the Senate trial.
  76. On Tuesday, the Senate began an acrimonious impeachment trial with nearly 13 hours of debate starting at 1 p.m. on the rules and procedures for the trial, ending after 2 a.m.
  77. McConnell had to make changes to rules due to pressure from moderates including Sens. Susan Collins, Rob Portman, and Lisa Murkowski, who said the rules strayed too far from the Clinton trial, and would be seen as unfair.
  78. At a closed door luncheon before the trial, the Senators argued against opening remarks being limited to two days, and not admitting the findings of the House inquiry into evidence without a separate vote.
  79. McConnell rushed to submit a revised copy of the resolution, which included handwritten changes, to extend opening remarks to three days per side and House records would be admitted into evidence.
  80. Schumer told reporters of the last minute changes, “The public realizes how unfair the McConnell proposal is, and the pressure that we have put on them and on Republican senators has gotten them to change.”
  81. Also an hour before trial, the House impeachment managers submitted a written rebuttal rejecting Trump’s claims that abuse of power was not an impeachable offense and that it was legal to block officials from testifying.
  82. Democratic impeachment managers urged Senators to reject McConnell’s proposed rules, which would delay debate over witnesses and documents to the middle of the trial, with no guarantee they would be called.
  83. Lead manager Schiff said, “If the Senate votes to deprive itself of witnesses and documents, the opening statements will be the end of the trial,” saying McConnell wants to “sweep this all under the rug.”
  84. Democrats used digital slides and video clips, including video statements by Trump, to make their argument. They argued the process McConnell had laid out was rigged on Trump’s behalf.
  85. From Davos, 45 minutes into the trial, Trump tweeted, “READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!
  86. Trump also told reporters on impeachment, “It goes nowhere because nothing happened. The only thing we’ve done is a great job,” adding, “That whole thing is a total hoax, so I’m sure it’s going to work out fine.”
  87. Impeachment manager Rep. Zoe Lofgren argued the White House was sittings on hundreds of pages of relevant materials, saying, “Attorney-client privilege cannot shield information about misconduct.”
  88. Trump’s lawyers argued the charges against him are baseless, and amount to criminalizing Trump’s foreign policy decisions, and replayed many of Trump’s grievances calling impeachment a “ridiculous charade.”
  89. Cipollone said, “A partisan impeachment is like stealing an election,” adding, “Talk about the framers’ worst nightmare. It’s a partisan impeachment that they delivered to your doorstep in an election year.”
  90. Breaking from most constitutional scholars, Trump’s lawyers also argued the impeachment was unconstitutional because the articles do not include a specific violation of the law.
  91. Cipollone and Sekulow made false statements: Sekulow claiming Trump could not have an attorney at the House inquiry, and Cipollone claiming House Republicans did not have access to closed-door depositions.
  92. Sekulow also falsely claimed that the Mueller report “came up empty on the issue of collusion with Russia. There was no obstruction, in fact.” Both of those claims are false.
  93. Sekulow also argued House Democrats “in their rush to impeach, have refused to wait for judicial review” — a direct contradiction to the pending Don McGahn case where the DOJ argued courts should not step in.
  94. Cipollone noted the four Democratic presidential candidates off the campaign trail (Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Michael Bennet), saying, “some of you are upset because you should be in Iowa.”
  95. During the trial, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said on the station’s coverage, “If I were the President watching this I would not be especially pleased.”
  96. Wallace noted of Trump’s lawyers, “They are basically saying, there’s nothing to see here, all of this is bogus, while the House managers are taking every second of their one hour to make whatever case they want.”
  97. Republicans rejected a total of 10 amendments along party lines, 53–47. An 11th amendment to lengthen the timetable for the prosecutors and defense to file trial motions got one vote from Sen. Susan Collins.
  98. An exasperated McConnell asked Schumer if he would “stack” his amendments, and Schumer said no: “We believe witnesses and documents are extremely important and a compelling case has been made for them.”
  99. The seven House impeachment managers used their time to make an argument for each amendment, with Trump’s lawyers responding, and both giving a preview of their opening arguments.
  100. Amendments voted down included subpoenaing White House, State Department, and OMB documents, and staffers including Mick Mulvaney, Robert Blair, Michael Duffey, and John Bolton.
  101. At 9:30 p.m. McConnell halted the trial to try to negotiate an end to the debate as the Senators faced fatigue, but after a brief recess, the two sides did not reach a deal to speed things up.
  102. Just before 1 a.m., Chair Jerrold Nadler accused Republican senators of being complicit in a cover-up to help Trump. Cipollone responded that Nadler should be “embarrassed” for his rhetoric toward senators.
  103. After, Chief Justice Roberts admonished the managers and Trump lawyers to “remember where they are” and return to “civil discourse,” saying, “They are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body.”
  104. Just before 2 a.m., the Senate voted along party lines to ratify McConnell’s plan, setting the stage for the trial to begin on Wednesday. The session concluded at 2:15 a.m.
  105. On Tuesday, WAPO reported that a small group of Senate Democrats are privately consider a Biden-for-Bolton trade for testimony, and are sounding the idea off their colleagues.
  106. These Democrats believe having Hunter or Joe, who served in the Senate for 36 years, could backfire and paint Trump and the GOP as being obsessed with trying to damage one of Trump’s 2020 rivals.
  107. The Biden campaign has been against them testifying, calling the notion “a stupid Republican talking point,” and an associate saying, “Biden and his people don’t want to give it credibility, so there is a stalemate right now.”
  108. Late Tuesday, just before midnight deadline, the final batch of 192 pages of heavily redacted documents were released by the DOJ under the FOIA to nonprofit group American Oversight on Ukraine.
  109. NYT reported while there were no major new revelations, the documents did reveal the friction between the Department of Defense and the White House on the aid freeze over the summer.
  110. The documents revealed confusion from lawmakers, including Republicans: on August 23 an aide to Sen. Rob Portman wrote to Michael Duffey, asking him to “lay out for me the reason behind the O.M.B. hold.”
  111. Calls and emails for an explanation on the hold also came from Senate Armed Services Committee Chair James Inhofe and Rep. Mac Thornberry, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.
  112. Documents also showed on the evening of July 24, the night before Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, OMB officials shared a “Ukraine Prep Memo” with Duffey. The contents of the memo were redacted.
  113. On Tuesday, the Guardian reported a U.N. investigation found Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ cellphone was hacked after he got a WhatsApp message that came from an account belonging to Saudi crown prince MBS.
  114. The investigation found “high probability” that Bezos’ phone was infected with malware that came from MBS. Soon after the message was delivered, a massive amount of data was extracted from his phone.
  115. Bezos and MBS were engaged in a friendly chat on WhatsApp on May 1, 2018, when MBS sent an apparently infected video file. Bezos’ head of security, Gavin de Becker, wrote in March he suspected the Saudis.
  116. On Wednesday, the White House Correspondents’ Association confirmed that the White House had given press credentials to virulent anti-Semite Rick Wiles of TruNews. The WHCA said it has raised the issue with the WH.
  117. Right Wing Watch reported after receiving the credentials, Wiles claimed on his broadcast that this “‘impeach Trump’ effort is a Jew coup and the American people better wake up to it really fast.”
  118. On Thursday, WAPO reported, despite Trump’s promises that weakening federal mileage standards would make cars cheaper and “substantially safer,” the opposite has happened.
  119. A new analysis found Trump’s rollback of Obama’s standards would not save costs, citing drivers would spend more at the gas pump over time by driving less efficient vehicles.
  120. On Thursday, HuffPost reported Trump’s Doral resort is expected to spike its room rates ahead the club hosting his speech to the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting from $254 to $539.
  121. The higher rate is just under the maximum rate federal government rules permit for a hotel in South Florida, and will dramatically increase taxpayer costs for housing Secret Service and other Trump staffers.
  122. On Wednesday, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found 72% of Americans believe the trial “should allow witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the impeachment charges to testify.”
  123. On Wednesday, from Davos, Trump sent dozens of retweets on the impeachment trial before dawn, retweeting statements and videos tweeted by his Republican defenders.
  124. Trump also tweeted, “Americans are sick of the Swamp. They want results, not partisan theater,” adding, “No matter what manufactured drama is unfolding in Washington,” he “will never stop fighting for you.”
  125. Before a breakfast meeting with American business leaders, which was abruptly closed-off to reporters, Trump tweeted, “Tremendous numbers of companies will be coming, or returning, to the USA. Hottest Economy!”
  126. Shortly after, at a surprise press conference, Trump opened with a long series of remarks about the economy, then turned to impeachment, saying he was not “enjoying” it, but it will be a “very important” victory for him.
  127. Trump added, “When I finish, I think that this is going to go down as one of the greatest things I’ve done for our country,” claiming he had “exposed government corruption” against him, not by him.
  128. Trump said of the trial, “I’d sort of love to sit right in the front row and stare at their corrupt faces,” and, “These are bad, corrupt people…and very bad for our country,” and calling impeachment managers “major sleazes.”
  129. Trump claimed he would like to have witnesses testify, but not Bolton, claiming: “I would rather go the long way. I would rather interview Bolton. The problem with John is that it’s a national security problem.”
  130. Trump added on Bolton, “He knows other things, and I don’t know if we left on the best terms. I would say probably not,” adding, “So you don’t like people testifying when they didn’t leave on good terms.”
  131. Trump’s remarks on witnesses disrupted the GOP’s strategy of not calling witnesses, and threatened to derail plans put in the carefully assembled framework by McConnell to finish the trial as soon as next week.
  132. Trump also seemed to admit obstructing Congress, the second article of impeachment, telling reporters, “But honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material.”
  133. Trump also again denied knowing Lev Parnas, saying, “I don’t know him, other than he’s sort of like a groupie,” adding, “He shows up at fundraisers. I don’t know anything about him.”
  134. Trump also railed against Europe, saying, “They have trade barriers where you can’t trade. They have tariffs all over the place,” adding, “They are, frankly, more difficult to do business with than China.”
  135. When asked about reports that 11 U.S. servicemen were injured in the Iran airstrike, Trump said, “I heard that they had headaches, and a couple of other things,” adding, “and I can report, that it is not very serious.”
  136. After threatening huge sanctions on Iran recently, asked about the status Trump said, “We’ll see what happens,” adding they would be necessary only “if we’re not treated with respect.”
  137. When asked about climate activist Greta Thunberg’s criticism of his regime’s climate change record, Trump responded, “She beat me out on Time Magazine.”
  138. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also jabbed at Thunberg from Davos, saying on the climate change emergency, “After she goes and studies economics in college she can come back and explain that to us.”
  139. Shortly after, in an interview with CNBC, Trump said of the trial, “I did get to see some of it. It’s a hoax. It’s a total hoax,” praising his team as “really good,” and claiming “the Republican Party has never been this unified.”
  140. On Wednesday, 2020 presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard filed a $50 million lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, claiming she permanently damaged her reputation by describing her as a “Russian asset.”
  141. On Wednesday, a Pew Research poll found 51% approve of removing Trump from office, 46% disagree. The poll also found 63% say Trump definitely (38%) or probably (25%) did things that are illegal.
  142. Later Wednesday, Trump tweeted “NO PRESSURE” as Schiff was delivering his opening arguments in the Senate trial. Trump returned to the White House after his trip to Davos.
  143. Wednesday was Trump’s busiest day of tweeting since taking office. As of 11:30 p.m. Trump tweeted 142 times. His previous record was 123 tweets in a day on December 12, 2019.
  144. On Wednesday, Schumer nixed the idea of a Bolton-Biden trade, telling reporters it was “off the table.” On the campaign trail, Joe Biden called it “a constitutional issue,” adding, “we’re not going to turn it into a farce.”
  145. Some Senate Republicans and Democrats took issue with Nadler’s accusing Republicans of “treacherous” behavior Tuesday, saying the Senate is not a “clown circus” like the House, and he should tone it down.
  146. On Wednesday, the Senate trial resumed at 1 p.m. as the Democratic House impeachment managers began formal arguments, presenting a meticulous and scathing case for convicting and removing Trump.
  147. As the trial was set to begin, the Senate chaplain, Barry Black, urged senators to “remember that patriots reside on both sides of the aisle,” noting the divisive nature of the first day of trial.
  148. In a stunning speech, Schiff invoked the founders and their fears that a self-interested leader would subvert democracy for personal gain, saying the remedy of impeachment was meant to combat this “evil.”
  149. Schiff said if Trump is not convicted and removed it would “permanently alter the balance of power among the branches of government,” adding, Trump believes “he’s above the law and scornful of constraint.”
  150. Schiff described a broader impulse by Trump to cede America’s foreign policy to Russia, noting the July 25 call occurred the day after Robert Mueller’s public testimony in which Trump escaped accountability.
  151. Schiff accused Trump of using a “corrupt scheme” to pressure Zelensky “to publicly announce investigationsinto two discredited allegations” that would benefit Trump’s 2020 campaign.
  152. In a series of methodical speeches, the other Democratic managers laid out the case that Trump enlisted the help of a foreign government to hurt his domestic political rivals and help him get re-elected to a second term.
  153. Rep. Sylvia Garcia showed the video of Trump telling George Stephanopoulos of ABC News last spring he would be willing to accept damaging information from Russia or other foreign governments.
  154. Schiff addressed Trump’s lawyer saying impeachment is outdated and no longer a viable instrument to hold a president accountable. “If it is a relic, I wonder how much longer our republic can succeed.”
  155. Politico reported as Schiff finished his three-hour presentation, there were as many two dozen GOP senators out of their seats at once, a clear violation of rules that bar senators from leaving their seats during the trial.
  156. Later Wednesday, Sen. Marsha Blackburn appeared on Fox News while the Senate was still in session.
  157. Roberts said he would give Senators access to a classified document shared by the House of Jennifer Williams’ testimony on the September 18 call between Pence and Zelensky. Schiff has asked repeatedly for it to be declassified.
  158. During the first day of their case, the seven managers included screenshots of deposition transcripts, emails, text messages, and about 50 video clips — more than three times what House Republicans used against Bill Clinton.
  159. Democrats provided a torrent of intricate information in making their case witnesses should be called. Rep. Matt Gaetz said Democrats presented like “cable news,” and Trump’s defense like “an 8th grade book report.”
  160. On Thursday, 21 state attorneys general said in a letter submitted to the Senate that Trump’s impeachment “establishes a dangerous historical precedent.”
  161. Shortly after, four attorneys general appeared on “Fox & Friends,” saying impeachment is “tearing at the threads of our democracy,” and claiming it is based on a “constitutionally legally flawed argument.”
  162. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “Attorney Generals [sic] from 21 States are urging the Senate to reject Impeachment,” noting, “the Democrats case sets a dangerous historical precedent.”
  163. Trump added, “EVEN AN UNSUCCESSFUL EFFORT TO IMPEACH” undermines elections “BECSUSE [sic] IT WEAPONIZES A PROCESS” and “SHOULD NEVER BE USED FOR PARTISAN PURPOSES.”
  164. Trump also tweeted the false claim, “The Democrat House would not give us lawyers, or not one witness, but now demand that the Republican Senate produce the witnesses,” adding, “Most unfair & corrupt hearing.”
  165. Trump also tweeted, “No matter what you give to the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, it will never be enough!”
  166. Trump also tweeted, “The Democrats & Shifty Schiff, whose presentation to the Senate was loaded with liesand misrepresentations,” refuse to say which countries the Obama Administration withheld aid from.
  167. Trump also tweeted at Mike Bloomberg who has ramped up spending on 2020 ads, repeatedly calling him “Mini Mike” to insult his small stature. WAPO reported Bloomberg has gotten under Trump’s skin.
  168. After an ad appeared on “Fox & Friends,” Trump tweeted, “when Mini losses [sic], he will be spending very little of his money on these ‘clowns’ because he will consider himself to be the biggest clown of them all.”
  169. Reportedly, Trump frequently talks about Bloomberg to his campaign advisers and White House staff, calling him “evil” and saying his ads are “lies.” Advisers have encouraged him to attack his other opponents instead.
  170. On Thursday, NYT reported despite the Senate rules, Senators are increasingly leaving their seats for short or long breaks, for 15 to 20 minutes — some were seen in the cloakroom on their phones.
  171. As the trial began, the Senate chaplain reminded senators to take their role seriously, cautioning them against “fatigue or cynicism,” and insisting that “listening is often more than hearing.”
  172. The sergeant-at-arms admonished senators “on pain of imprisonment” not to speak during the trial, but few listened. The atmosphere resembled an elementary school classroom, with whispering and passing notes.
  173. On day two of their opening arguments, Democrats focused on the abuse of power charge against Trump, with 16 hours and 42 minutes of their 24 allotted hours remaining.
  174. Democrats repeatedly referenced Russia. Schiff noted the debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in 2016 was “brought to you by the Kremlin,” and it played a central role in Trump’s Ukraine policy.
  175. Democrats make a strategic decision to focus on Joe and Hunter Biden, working to dispel allegations ahead of Trump’s defense team’s turn, claiming there was no basis to say the Bidens had done anything wrong.
  176. Democrats repeatedly used clips of Trump to make their case against him, including him asking for help from China and accusing Ukraine of interfering, to show he was not really interested in Ukrainian corruptions.
  177. One of the clips played by the impeachment managers was a 1999 video of Sen. Graham in which he contradicts a central tenet of Trump’s defense. When Senate colleagues turned to see his reaction, Graham was out of the room.
  178. Sen. Rand Paul, who on Wednesday did a crossword puzzle, was seen sketching a photo. Sen. John Cornyn swiped at an Apple Watch, despite a ban on electronics. Sen. Richard Burr passed out fidget spinners.
  179. On Thursday, CNN reported at a closed-door lunch with former Bush AG Michael Mukasey on Wednesday, some Senate Republicans discussed the implications of subpoenas for witnesses.
  180. The notion of a long, drawn-out court fight will weigh heavily on senators’ decisions. Under Senate rules, there will be four hours of debate on whether witnesses should be called before voting.
  181. Overall, most Senators remained attentive. However, Republicans remained dismissive and said they were “bored,” with some saying it was hard to stay attentive because material was repetitive.
  182. Later Thursday, Schiff closed the day with a rousing, fiery speech, saying, “you know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country,” reportedly earning him respect by some Republicans.
  183. Fox News, however, described the speech as “Amateur Thespian Schiff Tries Out Some New Lines” on the chyron, while host Tucker Carlson mocked Schiff, calling him a “wild-eyed conspiracy nut.”
  184. During the trial, Trump tweeted, “The Democrats don’t want a Witness Trade because Shifty Schiff, the Biden’s, the fake Whistleblower” and the second whistleblower, saying “it would be a BIG problem for them!”
  185. Trump also continued to actively tweet and retweet during the trial. Trump quoted former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, saying, “The Democrats have now conceded that President Trump has not committed a crime.”
  186. On Thursday, WAPO reported as Trump boarded Air Force One at 8 p.m., the television on board was tuned to Fox News. Although the impeachment was still going on, Fox covered it only in a small corner box.
  187. The Fox News shows covered the day’s news, before slamming the impeachment trial, including numerous false statements, and claims by host Sean Hannity that the trial was boring (which Trump retweeted).
  188. Matt Gertz, who compares Trump’s tweets to what’s airing on Fox News, found Trump live-tweeted Fox New a record amount of times on Thursday. He continued Friday morning with “Fox & Friends.”
  189. On Friday, Trump started tweeting at 6:18 a.m. Within two hours, he had already sent more than 50 tweets.
  190. Trump quoted Fox News, saying, “Frances Hakes, former Federal prosecutor, ‘This is really significant. The FBI had debunked the Steele Dossier in January 2017’” and they knew Carter Page “was not the agent.”
  191. Trump also quoted from her appearance, “and yet they still asked for the renewal, two more times.” He then added, “So how bad & illegal is that?
  192. Trump also complained his defense would “start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.” after having to “endure hour after hour of lies, fraud & deception by Shifty Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer & their crew.”
  193. Trump also tweeted, “The Impeachment Hoax is interfering with the 2020 Election — But that was the idea behind the Radical Left, Do Nothing Dems Scam attack,” adding, “They always knew I did nothing wrong!”
  194. On Friday, the Pentagon said 34 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with concussions or traumatic brain injuryas a result on the Iranian missile on January 8, more than triple the number previously reported.
  195. Trump initially told reporters no one had been harmed in the attack, then last week the Pentagon said it had conducted follow-on screenings for 11 troops who were pulled out of Iraq with brain injuries.
  196. On Friday, in an interview with Fox News at the March for Life, Trump said his advice to his defense team was to be honest: “What my people have to do is just be honest. Just tell the truth.”
  197. Trump added, “But they say it doesn’t have to be a crime,” and said, referring to Democrats, “Well, maybe it doesn’t have to be a crime, but can you imagine being impeached if you didn’t commit a crime?”
  198. Speaking at the rally, Trump did not mention the impeachment trial happening down the street. Trump told the crowd, many wearing his garb, “Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House.”
  199. Trump also referenced the “far-left Democrats” who he claimed were “working to erase all our God-given rights,” and adding, “They are coming after me because I am fighting for you.” Trump previously was pro-choice.
  200. On Friday, CBS News reported a Trump confidante warned Republican senators on impeachment that “a vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.”
  201. On Friday, ABC News reported on a tape from an April 30, 2018 intimate dinner at Trump Hotel DC with Parnas and Igor Fruman, in which Trump can be heard calling for the firing of Marie Yovanovitch.
  202. Parnas and Fruman can be heard telling Trump that she is bad-mouthing him, and Trump responded, “Get rid of her!” and “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.”
  203. On Friday, WAPO reported the recording’s existence helps bolster Parnas’ claim that he was part of Trump’s inner circle. Parnas’ attorney said the recording did not come from them. Fruman’s attorney did not comment.
  204. Later Friday, Trump told Fox News, “Well, I wouldn’t have been saying that. I probably would have said — it was Rudy there,” and, “I have every right, I want ambassadors that are chosen by me.” Giuliani was not at the dinner.
  205. On Friday, Sen. Graham told reporters, “Nobody has done an investigation anywhere near like the Mueller investigation of the Bidens, and I think they should,” calling for “an outside entity” to do it.”
  206. Graham added, “You know why I don’t want to do it? I love Joe Biden. I don’t want to do this,” and “I don’t want it to be Lindsey Graham, because it will be hard for me, but if I have to I will do it.”
  207. On Friday, Vanity Fair reported Republicans are increasingly concerned that Trump’s lawyers will not be able to counter House Democrats’ meticulous, fact-based case for removing Trump.
  208. Trump, who has been rage-tweeting despite aides’ advice, is angry that Republicans are not publicly saying his call with Zelensky was perfect. Impeachment is also putting a serious drag on his campaign.
  209. Impeachment has also put Trump in a particularly foul mood, as White House staff brace for more turmoil. Reportedly, Trump recently told some Republicans he decided to say “fuck it” and kill General Qasem Soleimani.
  210. Trump is also reportedly upset about Kushner being on the cover of Time Magazine, and is considering replacing acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney with Chris Christie, who hates Kushner, to reign him in.
  211. On Friday, the Senate chaplain opened the final day of the Democrats’ case, calling for “civility and respect” and asking senators to “distinguish between facts and opinions without lambasting the messengers.”
  212. Democrats focused their third and last day on the theme that Trump’s behavior is like that of a dictator, and allowing him to remain in office would continue to threaten the country’s security.
  213. Democrats used most of their remaining seven hours and 53 minutes to make the case that Trump obstructed Congress, the second article, alleging a cover-up for not allowing witnesses or turning over documents.
  214. Rep. Zoe Lofgren pointed out that Nixon was more cooperative than Trump, ticking off a list of White House officials who obeyed Trump’s orders and refused to testify.
  215. House manager Val Demings laid out several examples of Trump allegedly “misusing” his power, calling it “a declaration of total defiance” and “a wholesale rejection of congress’s ability” to hold him accountable.
  216. Demings added if Trump is not held accountable, “we will inflict lasting damage on the separation of powers,” and “It would inflict irreversible damage” for “future presidents to act correctly or abusively.”
  217. Since the impeachment managers did not get a chance to respond to Trump’s defense lawyers, Schiff spent much of the day addressing possible defenses from Trump team.
  218. During the trial, a group of Senate Republicans were seen studying a document titled “Burisma Timeline” in bold black letters with bright yellow highlights of important dates relating to the Bidens.
  219. The same senators also looked at a report titled “Obtaining Witnesses In an Impeachment Trial,” which laid out scenarios and legal reasoning for how subpoenaing John Bolton could play out.
  220. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries closed his presentation, saying, “There’s a toxic mess at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” adding, “I humbly suggest that it’s our collective job on behalf of the American people to try to clean it up.”
  221. Chair Nadler compared Trump to a king, calling him “the first and only President ever to declare himself unaccountable,” adding if Trump is left unchecked, “He is a dictator. This must not stand.”
  222. Schiff closed with a moving speech, calling on Republicans to have “moral courage” and acknowledging that real political bravery would be needed in “disagreeing with our friends — and our party.”
  223. Schiff added if we decide “the president can simply say, ‘Under Article 2, I can do whatever I want, and I don’t have to treat a coequal branch of government’[…] that will be an unending injury to this country.”
  224. The respectful mood in the chamber shifted after Schiff added, “CBS News reported last night that a Trump confidant said that key senators were warned, ‘Vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.’”
  225. At 8:45 p.m. the House Democrats concluded their remarks, with Schiff telling the Senate that the facts presented add up to an impeachable offense, and that “We have met our burden.”
  226. After, several Republicans complained about Schiff’s “pike” comment. Sen. Susan Collins said, “I know of no Republican senator who has been threatened in any way by anyone in the administration.”
  227. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, also a possible swing vote said, “That’s when he lost me.” As the trial concluded, GOP Sens. John Cornyn and John Barrasso made a beeline to Collins’ desk and she shook her head, and said “No.”
  228. On Friday, after an interview with NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly on U.S. policy in Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo summoned her into his private living room at the State Department.
  229. NPR reported, once there, Pompeo shouted at Kelly for questioning him about Ukraine, using repeated expletives, and asking “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” and adding, “People will hear about this.”
  230. Kelly said Pompeo had staffers bring in an unlabeled map, and asked her to identify Ukraine: “I pointed to Ukraine he put the map away, he said, people will hear about this, and then he turned and said he had things to do.”
  231. During the interview, Pompeo defended his treatment of Yovanovitch, saying, “I’ve defended every single person on this team,” and “I’ve done what’s right for every single person on this team.”
  232. On Saturday, Pompeo attacked Kelly in a statement, saying Kelly “lied to me, twice. First, last month, in setting up our interview,” and claiming she agreed to “have our post-interview conversation off the record.”
  233. Pompeo added, “It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency.” Kelly said she did not agree to be off the record, and said she told his office they would discuss Iran and Ukraine.
  234. Pompeo did not dispute Kelly’s claim that she had correctly identified Ukraine, saying, “It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine,” Kelly has a masters degree in European Studies from Cambridge University.
  235. Pompeo added, “This is another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration,” and “It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media.”
  236. On Friday, a WAPO-ABC News poll found Trump’s approval improving to 44% approve, 51% disapprove, with an increase in support from men to 57% — the highest in his time in office — and independent voters.
  237. The poll also found 66% think the Senate should call witnesses, including 87% of Democrats, 65% of Independents, and 45% of Republicans. Roughly half (47%) say Trump should be removed 49% disagree.
  238. On Friday, Trump appointed Rodney Scott as the new head of the U.S. Border Patrol. Scott, who has been a member of CBP for 27 years, replaces Carla Provost, who had been in the position since August 2018.
  239. On Friday, NYT reported Trump is considering skipping the 2020 debates. His advisers recently met with the nonprofit Commission on Presidential Debates to complain about the debates it hosted in 2016.
  240. Trump’s advisers complained the debate commission included “anti-Trumpers,” and complained about past moderators. Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale is investigating other options for hosting debates.
  241. On Saturday, Trump tweeted on impeachment: “Our case against lyin’, cheatin’, liddle’ Adam “Shifty” Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, their leader, dumb as a rock AOC, & the entire Radical Left.”
  242. Trump urged his base to watch the his legal team, tweeting, “starts today at 10:00 A.M. on @FoxNews, @OANN or Fake News @CNN or Fake News MSDNC!” — mocking MSNBC by calling it MSDNC.
  243. On Saturday, House Democratic impeachment managers delivered 28,578 pages of transcripts and other evidence collected during their inquiry to the Senate, wheeled over in four carts in white boxes.
  244. Trump’s lawyers claimed Democrats want to “ tear up all of the ballots,” and “re-litigate the Mueller case,” and claimed it could not be quid pro quo since they alleged Ukraine did not know aid was being withheld.
  245. Trump’s lawyers also repeatedly jabbed at Schiff, and during their brief two hour presentation, repeatedly told restless Senators that Democrats had presented for “21 hours, or more than 21 hours.”
  246. Trump lawyer Mike Purpura opened by playing a clip of Schiff, often used as fodder by Trump, deriding Schiff’s September House hearing parody on Trump’s July 25 call, saying the retelling was “fake.”
  247. Later Saturday, the AP released the entire 80-minute recording of Trump’s 2018 dinner first reported by ABC News. Trump is also heard asking on Ukraine, “How long would they last in a fight with Russia?
  248. Parnas said, “The biggest problem there, I think where we need to start is we got to get rid of the ambassador,” and “She’s basically walking around telling everybody, ‘Wait, he’s gonna get impeached. Just wait.’”
  249. On Saturday, BuzzFeed reported that on Wednesday and Thursday State Department officials interviewed hundreds of diplomats and employees at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv about whether Yovanovitch was under surveillance..
  250. One official said the State Department’s federal law enforcement and security arm, the Diplomatic Security Service, is coordinating with Ukrainian authorities who announced a criminal investigation a week before State.
  251. One diplomat described the investigations as “cynical” and a “cover your ass” for Pompeo, who is scheduled to visit Kyiv on January 30 and 31. The 300 embassy employees were told not to speak to the press.
  252. On Saturday, Politico reported although the trial has not had any major surprises and thus far it appears Trump will not be removed from office, recent information dumps have hurt Trump politically.
  253. Trump allies worry that even after the impeachment trial, there will be more document releases and investigations over the coming months heading up to the 2020 election.

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Reporters were kept behind ropes outside the chamber during a break as the Senate continues with the impeachment trial of Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. Journalists are being restricted to “press pens” during the trial without normal access to lawmakers. Credit: congressional reporter Matt Laslo

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 167: “OATH? WHAT OATH?”

JANUARY 18, 2020

Week 166

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-166/

This week the articles of impeachment were transmitted to the Senate, and the impeachment trial formally began. Senators were sworn in, but it was unclear if they planned to follow the oath they swore to deliver impartial justice.

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This week the House released hundreds of pages of documents provided by Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani. Parnas made stunning disclosures in MSNBC and CNN interviews of other Trump regime members being “in the loop” on Trump’s plan to withhold aid from Ukraine pending the announcement of investigations, including Vice President Mike Pence, former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and many others.

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As the Senate trial was about to begin, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found Trump had violated the law by withholding Ukraine aid. The government of Ukraine also announced it would open a criminal investigation into Trump regime members’ alleged surveillance of former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Maria Yovanovitch disclosed in the Parnas documents, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo skipped scheduled Congressional hearings on Iran, and largely hid from the media for the balance of the week.

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  1. On Friday, WAPO reported that in a National Archives exhibit celebrating the centennial of women’s suffrage, a 49-by-69-inch photograph of the 2017 Women’s March was altered to blur posters carried by marchers critical of Trump.
  2. The Archives acknowledged in a statement to the Post that it made multiple alternations to the original photo blurring signs held by protestors that were critical of Trump or referenced women’s anatomy.
  3. The Archives said the decision was made by agency managers and museum staff members. Officials did not provide the Post with examples of other photographs being altered to avoid engaging political controversy.
  4. On Monday, Trump retweeted a doctored image of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wearing Muslim garments in front of an Iranian flag, which said, “The corrupted Dems trying their best to come to the Ayatollah’s rescue.”
  5. Jasmine El-Gamal, Obama’s adviser for the Middle East, called Trump’s tweet “deeply damaging” to Muslims in the U.S. as it suggests being Muslim is incompatible with being loyal to America.
  6. On Saturday, Trump tweeted support for anti-government protests in Tehran for victims of the plane crash, “To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I’ve stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency.”
  7. On Sunday, Trump continued, tweeting, “To the leaders of Iran — DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching.”
  8. On Sunday, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll found 56% disapprove of Trump’s handling of Iran, 43% approve. The polls also found 52% feel less safe after the strike, 25% feel more safe, and 22% say they are not effected.
  9. On Sunday, Trump attacked Obama’s secretary of state, falsely claiming John Kerry admitted giving funds“ridiculously to Iran were used to fund attacks on the USA,” calling Kerry a “complete fool.”
  10. Trump also tweeted before Speaker Pelosi appeared on “This Week,” “ask Crazy Nancy why she allowed Adam “Shifty” Schiff to totally make up my conversation,” adding, “He got caught!”
  11. On Sunday, Pelosi told “This Week” that she would not rule out the House subpoenaing former NSA John Bolton to testify if the Senate trial does not include witnesses.
  12. Pelosi also said she has not ruled out the possibility of additional articles of impeachment against Trump, saying, “Let’s just see what the Senate does. The ball will be in their court soon.”
  13. When asked about Trump’s tweets, she said, “I don’t like to spend too much time on his crazy tweets, because everything he says is a projection,” adding, “Everything he says you can just translate it back to who he is.”
  14. Pelosi also said, “The president is impeached for life, regardless of any gamesmanship on the part of Mitch McConnell,” adding, “There is nothing the Senate can do to ever erase that.”
  15. Pelosi also said, “As I have said in terms of this president, all roads lead to Putin,” adding, “And sometimes I wonder about Mitch McConnell, too. Why is he an accomplice to all of that?
  16. Heading into impeachment, a Morning Consult/Politico poll found 57% of registered voters think the Senate should call witnesses at the impeachment trial, 24% do not.
  17. Shortly after Pelosi’s interview on “This Week,” Trump quoted Fox News analyst Gregg Jarrett, tweeting, “Pelosi has made a mockery of Impeachment. Her Articles are so weak,” and “she thought she could extort the Senate. She couldn’t.”
  18. Trump also tweeted a clip of Fox News host Jeanine Pirro’s show, adding, “This phony Impeachment Hoax should not even be allowed to proceed. Did NOTHING wrong. Just a partisan vote. Zero Republicans.”
  19. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “Why did Nervous Nancy allow corrupt politician Shifty Schiff to lie before Congress? He must be a Witness, and so should she!”
  20.  Trump also tweeted, “Why should I have the stigma of Impeachment attached to my name when I did NOTHING wrong?” calling it “a totally partisan Hoax,” and “Very unfair to tens of millions of voters!”
  21. Trump also suggested the Senate should dismiss House charges, tweeting, “Many believe that by the Senate giving credence to a trial based on the no evidence, no crimes” gives it “credibility that it otherwise does not have.”
  22. Trump also attacked David Kris, a Justice Department official appointed to review the FBI’s wiretap reform, mimicking a Fox Business News segment in which Rep. Devin Nunes attacked Kris.
  23. Trump tweeted, “You can’t make this up! David Kris, a highly controversial former DOJ official, was just appointed by the FISA Court to oversee reforms,” adding, “Zero credibility. THE SWAMP!”
  24. Trump also lashed out at Michael Atkinson, his appointee for Intelligence Committee Inspector General, tweeting, “ICIG Michael Atkinson facing serious questions,” and suggesting he is part of an anti-Trump conspiracy.
  25. On Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff told “Face the Nation” that his committee is “considering” subpoenaing Bolton, adding, “Americans want to see a fair trial in the Senate.”
  26. On Sunday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told “Face the Nation” that he “didn’t see a specific piece of evidence” backing Trump’s claim that Iran was preparing to attack four U.S. embassies.
  27. Esper said Trump was making the point that such an attack was “probably” in the works, adding he shared that view, saying, “my expectation was they were going to go after our embassies.”
  28. On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined an invitation by the House Foreign Affairs Committeeto testify on the Soleimani strike. Chair Eliot Engel said he was “disappointed and frustrated” by the decision.
  29. On Monday, NBC News reported Trump authorized the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in June 2019, in a directive that gave Trump the final sign-off on any specific operation.
  30. The idea initially came up in 2017 under former NSA H.R. McMaster, but came under more serious consideration in 2018 under Bolton. Trump signed off on the strike after the attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
  31. The directive’s existence explained why the option of the strike on Soleimani was on the menu provided to Trump, but undermined the regime’s stated rationale for carrying out the strike.
  32. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “The Democrats and the Fake News are trying to make terrorist Soleimani into a wonderful guy,” adding, “because I did what should have been done for 20 years.”
  33. Trump also tweeted, “it doesn’t really matter” whether “the future attack by terrorist Soleimani was “imminent” or not,” claiming, “because of his horrible past!” The original tweet misspelled “imminent” as “eminent.”
  34. On Monday, Pompeo shifted the explanation for the strike in a speech saying it was part of a larger strategy of deterrence, saying Iran “must now understand what we will do if they ever again pose risk to American lives.”
  35. Pompeo also responded to questions, saying, “There was in fact a set of imminent attacks that were being plotted by Qassem Soleimani,” and “It was unmistakable,” that “the risks were real and growing.”
  36. On Monday, CNN reported State Department officials say they were not notified of “imminent” threats against four U.S. embassies, and did not issue specific warnings to the embassies before the strike.
  37. On Thursday, Defense One reported 11 U.S. troops were injured in the January 8 Iran missile strike and airlifted to Kuwait and Germany. The Trump regime did not share this information with the American public.
  38. On Monday, Trump tweeted, falsely claiming, “I was the person who saved Pre-Existing Conditions in your Healthcare,” and “rid you of the expensive, unfair and very unpopular Individual Mandate.”
  39. Trump later tweeted “I stand stronger than anyone in protecting your Healthcare with Pre-Existing Conditions. I am honored to have terminated the very unfair, costly and unpopular individual mandate for you!”
  40. AP Fact Check reported Trump’s claims are false: his alternatives to Obamacare does not cover preexisting conditions, while they are covered with Obamacare in place.
  41. NYT reported the Trump regime said in a filing to the Supreme Court that its lawsuit to invalidate Obamacare is not in any rush, and can wait until after the elections while lower courts consider questions more carefully.
  42. The Republican states who filed the lawsuit, and had pushed the Supreme Court to settle the case quickly, reversed too, saying in a filing “the current petitions do not justify immediate, emergency review by the court.”
  43. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “Bernie Sander’s volunteers are trashing Elizabeth “Pocahontus” [sic] Warren, Everybody knows her campaign is dead,” and, “Mini Mike B is also trying, but getting tiny crowds.”
  44. Trump also tweeted, “Really Big Breaking News (Kidding): Booker, who was in zero polling territory, just dropped out,” adding, “I was sooo concerned that I would someday have to go head to head with him!”
  45. On Monday, Joseph Bondy, the attorney for Lev Parnas, tweeted a photo of Parnas and Trump together, and said they provided “a trove of Lev Parnas’ WhatsApp messages, text messages & images” to the House.
  46. On Monday, the White House urged Senate Republicans to preserve the option to speed through a Senate impeachment trial and dismiss charges as Trump looked for a quick end to the proceedings.
  47. Republicans debated including a provision in the resolution to dismiss the charges, which would require 51 votes and would stop the trial. Senate Majority Leader McConnell told Republicans he does not want to hold that vote if it would fail.
  48. On Monday, Trump tweeted, ““We demand fairness” shouts Pelosi and the Do Nothing Democrats, yet the Dems in the House wouldn’t let us have 1 witness, no lawyers or even ask questions,” calling it a “witch-hunt.”
  49. Pelosi responded, accusing Trump of a cover-up, contrasting it to the “Clinton impeachment process,” in which “66 witnesses were allowed to testify including 3 in the Senate trial, and 90,000 pages of documents were turned over.”
  50. Pelosi added in a tweet, “Trump was too afraid to let any of his top aides testify & covered up every single document,” adding, “The Senate must #EndTheCoverUp.”
  51. Later Monday, Sen. Roy Blunt, the No. 4 Republican, told reporters there “certainly there aren’t 51 votes for a motion to dismiss” articles of impeachment against Trump.
  52. On Monday, a Quinnipiac poll found 46% believe the Senate trial should remove Trump from office, 48% did not. The poll also found 66% say they would like to see Bolton testify.
  53. Later Monday, CBS News reported the White House is preparing for at least four GOP Senators to defect and vote to call witnesses, including Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, and possibly Cory Gardner.
  54. Other possible defections included Sens. Rand Paul and Lamar Alexander, a Senate “institutionalist.” White House officials also said they expected Trump to invoke executive privilege to block Bolton from testifying.
  55. On Monday, NYT reported Russians hackers from a military intelligence unit GRU successfully hacked Ukrainian gas company Burisma, which is at the center of the impeachment trial.
  56. It was unclear what hackers found, or what they were looking for; experts suggested they were searching for potentially embarrassing information on the Bidens, such as Trump sought in investigations he requested from Ukraine.
  57. The Russian tactic is similar to the one used in the 2016 election: the GRU set up fake websites that mimicked Burisma subsidiaries, and emailed them to Burisma employees in what looked like internal company emails.
  58. On Tuesday, CNN reported behind closed doors, Pelosi raised concerns to her caucus about the Russian hack into Burisma. Pelosi said she learned of the hack through reporting and the Gang of Eight had not been briefed.
  59. Pelosi also said McConnell is acting like a rogue Senate leader, and mused that she sometimes wonders if he has Russian connections.
  60. On Sunday, Axios reported Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to invite Trump to Damascus in a video that aired Sunday on Russia-1 television channel.
  61. On Wednesday, in his annual state-of-the-nation speech, Putin called for constitutional changes which would give him a path to hold on to power after the end of his term in 2024, as he reaches a two term limit again.
  62. In response, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a long-time Putin ally, unexpectedly resigned, along with his entire cabinet. The change would weaken the presidency and give the cabinet and PM more power.
  63. On Monday, the Treasury Department released data showing the U.S. budget deficit surpassed $1 trillion in 2019, a 17% increase from 2018, and its highest level since 2012.
  64. On Monday, a Wisconsin judge found the state Elections Commission and three of its members in contemptfor not having removed more than 200,000 voters from the voter rolls, and fined them $250 per day each.
  65. On Monday, George Nader, a key witness in the Mueller probe, pleaded guilty to child sex charges. Nader also still faces federal court charges of conspiring to funnel illegal campaign contributions.
  66. On Wednesday, lawyers for Michael Flynn said he is looking to withdraw his guilty plea he offered two years ago, just two weeks before he was set to face his long-delayed sentencing.
  67. On Thursday, a federal judge agreed to postpone Flynn’s sentencing for another month while he considers the request to withdraw his plea.
  68. On Thursday, Time magazine’s cover story featured Kushner, with the headline, “The Family Business: the Unusual Power of Jared Kushner.” Campaign manager Brad Parscale refers to Kushner as “No. 2 after Trump.”
  69. On Monday, the Trump regime asked the Supreme Court to lift a lower court order blocking its effort to make it more difficult for immigrants who rely on public assistance, known as public charge, to gain legal status.
  70. On Monday, WAPO reported Trump is preparing to divert an additional $7.2 billion in Pentagon funds for his wall, five times the amount Congress had authorized — and bringing the total to $18.4 billion.
  71. The regime took $2.5 billion from military counterdrug programs in 2019 and will increase it to $3.5 billionin 2020. The regime will also divert $3.7 billion in military construction funding, up from $3.6 billion in 2019.
  72. Trump viewed the court ruling in his favor in Week 165 as encouragement to take more money. The regime has completed 101 miles of new barrier wall so far, far less than the 450 miles Trump promised by election day.
  73. On Monday, Nelly Jordan, a Republican Party leader in Delaware, was removed from her position as vice chair after posting on Facebook that Jewish people who support impeaching Trump are Jews “in name only.”
  74. On Tuesday, a high school student in Kentucky was expelled from Whitefield Academy after a photo of her 15th birthday celebration was shared on social media, showing her wearing a rainbow shirt.
  75. An official at the school said the picture “demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contraryto that of Whitefield Academy’s beliefs,” and was one of her “lifestyle violations.”
  76. On Tuesday, leaked emails show Trump advisor Stephen Miller suggested to Breitbart the idea of shipping immigrants out of the U.S. on trains as a scare tactic, saying migrants might “replace existing demographics.”
  77. On Tuesday, Yahoo News reported that in addition to appointing judges who are extremists, out of 187 confirmed judges, 85% of Trump nominees have been white and 76% have been men.
  78. On Tuesday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced he will sign a measure into law which allowed continued funding to faith-based foster care and adoption agencies that exclude LGBTQ families based on religious beliefs.
  79. On Thursday, NYT reported the FBI arrested three men suspected of being members of a neo-Nazi hate group called The Base, on their way to a pro-gun rally in Virginia, in anticipation of a possible race war.
  80. On Friday, HuffPost reported three additional neo-Nazis were arrested in the lead-up to the Virginia gun rally: three Georgia men were arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit murder as part of The Base.
  81. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and banned firearms and other weapons on the Capitol grounds for the week. On Friday, the Supreme Court upheld the ban after it was challenged.
  82. On Friday, a WAPO-Ipsos poll found more than 8 in 10 black Americans describe Trump as racist, and has made racism a bigger issue in the country. The poll also found 9 in 10 disapprove of the job he has done.
  83. On Friday, Pew Research found 68% of Hispanic voters disapprove of Trump, and 67% are dissatisfied with the country’s direction under him. Among Democrats, 87% place a high importance on the 2020 election.
  84. On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to consider whether the Trump regime can allow employers to limit women’s access to free birth control under the Affordable Care Act.
  85. On Tuesday, Parnas attorney Bondy shared a photo with the Daily Beast of Parnas with Ivanka and Jared at an event. A White House official called it “one of tens of thousands of pictures they take every year.”
  86. On Tuesday, Sen. Tim Kaine told reporters that as many as 10 Republican Senators are considering supporting his resolution that would direct Trump to remove forces from any hostilities against Iran within 30 days.
  87. On Tuesday, Politico reported Sen. Ted Cruz pitched the idea of witness reciprocity, saying if Democrats wanted to hear from Bolton as a witness, Republicans would be able to call Hunter Biden.
  88. On Tuesday, NYT reported behind the scenes, Trump’s team was inviting conservative activists to the White House to plan and strategize as they braced for a damaging period.
  89. Lawmakers were also anxious as they faced an unpredictable process, and debates raged publicly and privately about whether to call witnesses and compel no evidence.
  90. Later Tuesday, House Democrats released dozens of pages of notes, text messages, and other records provided by Parnas to the four House committees on the day before articles were set to be transmitted.
  91. Documents were sent to the Senate in a letter from Schiff saying, “Despite unprecedented obstruction” by Trump, “the committee continues to receive and review” evidence and will make “supplemental transmittals.”
  92. Documents included Parnas’ handwritten notes on Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Vienna paper, which he claimed were instructions from Giuliani, saying, “get Zalensky [sic] to announce that the Biden case will be investigated.”
  93. Documents also included exchanges with Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko in March 2019 on WhatsApp, in which he complains to Parnas about Maria Yovanovitch: “you can’t even get rid of one [female] fool.”
  94. Documents also showed Parnas helped set up a video interview for Lutsenko with John Solomon at The Hillnewspaper on Yovanovitch. After the interview, Parnas texted it to Ahearn and wrote, “Have jr retweet it.”
  95. Ahearn replied “Sent,” then Parnas texted, urging him to “Watch Hannity.” Other texts indicate Trump tweeted about the Hannity segment, and Donald Jr. tweeted the U.S. needs “less of these jokes as ambassadors.”
  96. Texts from a Trump donor, former Marine and 2020 House candidate Robert Hyde, to Parnas seemed to indicate he had Yovanovitch under surveillance in March, and made comments that appeared threatening.
  97. On March 25, Hyde texted Parnas, “She’s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off.” Then later, “They know she’s a political puppet,” followed by, “They will let me know when she’s on the move.”
  98. Hyde also texted, “They are willing to help if we/you would like a price … Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money … what I was told.” Parnas responded: “Lol.”
  99. Documents also included a May 10, 2019 letter from Giuliani to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky requesting a meeting, in which he said Trump had “knowledge and consent” of his actions, the first public document to state this.
  100. Giuliani also said in the letter that he was acting in Trump’s personal capacity, writing, “In my capacity as personal counsel to President Trump,” and added that he would “be accompanied by my colleague Victoria Toensing.”
  101. On Tuesday, Trump held a campaign rally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during a Democratic debate. Trump said of Soleimani, “Great percentages of people don’t have legs or arms because of this son of a bitch.”
  102. Trump also mocked Democrats, saying it, “doesn’t matter” to them that Soleimani killed “hundreds of thousands of people,” claiming, “they’ll start a new investigation” over whether there was really any imminent threat.
  103. Trump also implied the number of embassies under attack could have been more than four — a charge his own regime did not back — saying, “If I didn’t kill him, and let’s say we lost three, four, five embassies or bases.”
  104. Trump blamed Obama for Soleimani, the “king of roadside bombs,” saying, “He should have been killed 20 years ago.” He also attacked Pelosi, saying, “her district is filthy dirty,” telling her to spend more time at home.
  105. Trump also touted a war crime, saying, “People said to me, ‘why are you staying in Syria?’” adding, “Because I kept the oil. Which frankly, we should have done in Iraq.”
  106. Trump also veered off, saying, “Somebody said, ‘Oh, sir, don’t mention the lightbulb,’” adding, “The new lightbulb costs five times as much, and it makes you look orange,” and he cares more about the orange light than the cost.
  107. Trump also commented on dishwashers, hyping “new dishwashers that give you more water so you can actually watch and rinse your dishes without having to do it 10 times.”
  108. NYT reported Trump’s voice was uncharacteristically hoarse as he delivered his standard rambling speech, delivering rosy memories of 2016 and airing grievances. He also faced protestors in the sea of red t-shirts.
  109. On Wednesday, Chair Schiff said the Parnas documents make clear Giuliani “is acting at the behest and with the knowledge and consent of the president,” and the documents represent a small sample of what Trump is withholding.
  110. On Wednesday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Engel requested documents from the State Department related to Hyde, Parnas, and Yovanovitch, noting alarm that Hyde texted he had “a person inside.”
  111. On Wednesday, Politico reported the State Department abruptly canceled two classified congressional briefings on embassy security and the U.S. relationship with Iran scheduled for Wednesday.
  112. The cancellations coincided with the release of Parnas’ documents. A House aide said staffers were “furious” and noted briefings are required by law every month. The State Department gave no explanation.
  113. On Wednesday, WAPO reported White House lawyers are trying to engineer the fastest impeachment trial in American history, with a goal of concluding the trial in a few days without calling witnesses.
  114. White House aides were also concerned about managing Trump and his tweeting during the trial. They plan to have several surrogates on television defending Trump during the trial.
  115. White House counsel Pat Cipollone is expected to lead Trump’s defense team after Trump took advice not to appoint House members. Some aides worry if Cipollone will perform well enough on television for Trump.
  116. On Tuesday, European countries triggered a dispute mechanism in the Iran nuclear deal that could lead to the return of U.N. sanctions. Britain, France, and Germany said Iran’s recent statements left them “no choice.”
  117. On Wednesday, WAPO reported days before Britain, France, and Germany warned of the violation, Trump had threatened to impose a 25% tariff on European automobiles if they refused to call out Iran.
  118. On Wednesday, NPR reported the Trump regime is expected to release more than $8 billion allocated through a Department of Housing and Urban Development disaster recovery fund to Puerto Rico.
  119. The aid was supposed to be released months ago to help Puerto Rico rebuild in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. So far $1.5 billion has been made available after Congress approved $20 billion.
  120. Congressional Democrats have continuously complained about the delay. They sought to ramp up pressure on the regime after Puerto Rico recently faced a series of earthquakes recently.
  121. HUD was meant to release $8.2 billion of aid in September, but did not. Forty members of Congress asked HUD Sec. Ben Carson in a letter for “an explanation as to why your Department has chosen to violate the law.”
  122. On Wednesday, Politico reported that U.S. intelligence officials have quietly asked the House and Senate intelligence committees not to hold open hearings this year on election security, fearing anger by Trump.
  123. The request came from the Director of National Intelligence, saying they did not want intelligence chiefs to be seen on camera disagreeing with Trump on big issues like threats from Iran, Russia, or North Korea.
  124. On Thursday, AP reported federal officials announced in a change of policy, the FBI plans to notify state officials, in most cases the secretary of state, if local election systems have been breached.
  125. In the past, only local officials were notified, meaning state officials might certify an election without realizing there had been a breach in individual counties. The change is meant to bolster federal-state cooperation.
  126. On Friday, acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said at an event that Homeland Security “fully expects” Russia to attempt to interfere in U.S. elections in 2020, but added, “Let me be clear: We are prepared.”
  127. Wolf said, “As we saw in 2016,” Russia will “attempt to interfere in the 2020 elections to sow public discordand undermine our democratic institutions.” He also highlighted threats from China and Iran.
  128. Wolf said agencies are “laser-focused” on securing the 2020 elections, and praised reforms made since 2016 which he claimed ensure that “over 90 percent of votes cast in 2020 will have a corresponding paper ballot.”
  129. On Friday, the Kansas City Star reported a local Kansas City radio station, KCXL, signed a lease to broadcast six hours of programming from a Russian state-owned media outlet Radio Sputnik.
  130. The station is owned by RM Broadcasting in Florida. The owner, Arnold Ferolito, disputed the DNI’s 2017 assessment that Sputnik and RT were involved in Moscow’s efforts to influence the 2016 election.
  131. On Wednesday, Pelosi announced her impeachment managers, a diverse group led by Chair Schiff, including Chairs Jerrold Nadler and Zoe Logren, and Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Sylvia Garcia, Val Demings and Jason Crow.
  132. There have been 20 impeachment managers in U.S. history and all have been white men. Pelosi picked three women to be part of the seven, and three people of color.
  133. As Pelosi was naming her managers in a ceremony, Trump tweeted, “Here we go again, another Con Job by the Do Nothing Democrats,” adding, “All of this work was supposed to be done by the House, not the Senate!”
  134. Pelosi said the managers would walk the articles to the Senate at 5 p.m. McConnell’s office said the Senate must first notify the House managers that they are ready to receive the articles and asked for Thursday at noon.
  135. In opening debate on the resolution, Nadler said Trump “gravely abused the power of his office” and “betrayed our country” by using the “powers of his office” to pressure a “government to help him win reelection.”
  136. Pelosi stood next to a poster of an American flag and a quote from the Pledge of Allegiance, and said “once somebody is impeached, they are always impeached. It cannot be erased,” adding Trump “gave us no choice.”
  137. Pelosi also said Trump was guilty of “an assault on the Constitution of the United States,” and addressing Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, added, “It’s not personal. It’s not political. It’s not partisan. It’s patriotic.”
  138. The resolution to send the articles passed 228-193. Pelosi held an engrossment ceremony at 5 p.m., then impeachment managers marched to the Capitol Rotunda to present the articles to the secretary of the Senate.
  139. Pelosi signed the resolution with black impeachment pens with her signature emblazoned in gold, and used one pen for each letter, then handed them out to members of Congress. Republicans complained.
  140. After the articles were delivered, McConnell announced the details for Thursday’s proceedings. As promised earlier, in the latest gamesmanship, McConnell did not accept articles Wednesday from Democrats’ procession.
  141. On Wednesday, as the House voted on impeachment, Trump signed phase one of the trade deal with China, months after initially claiming the countries had made a deal. The phase offered modest changes.
  142. Trump held a grandiose ceremony in the White House with Chinese officials, flanked by his team of all white men, inviting 27 members of Congress, four cabinet secretaries, two governors, and a Fox Business host.
  143. Trump told reporters, “Some of the congressmen may have a vote,” calling it “the impeachment hoax,” adding, “it’s not going to matter…But I’d rather have you voting than sitting here listening to me introduce you, OK?”
  144. Later Wednesday, Rep. Demings, one of the impeachment managers, called on McConnell to recuse himself from the impeachment trial given his statement on Fox News that he is coordinating with the White House.
  145. Deming’s statement noted: “The moment Senator McConnell takes the oath of impartiality required by the Constitution, he will be in violation,” adding, “he has effectively promised” to let Trump manage his own trial.
  146. Later Wednesday, Parnas told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, “Trump knew exactly what was going on,” adding, “He was aware of all my movements. I wouldn’t do anything without the consent” of Giuliani or Trump.
  147. Parnas also said of Zelensky and his inner circle, “they have no reason to speak to me,” adding, “They were told to meet with me. And that’s the secret that they’re trying to keep. I was on the ground doing their work.”
  148. Asked if the Ukraine effort by Giuliani was to hurt Joe Biden, Parnas said, “it was never about corruption. It was never — it was strictly about Burisma, which included Hunter Biden and Joe Biden.”
  149. Parnas said when he arrived in Kyiv in May, he was given a clear directive by Giuliani to make clear to Zelensky that unless he publicly announced an investigation, Ukraine’s relationship “would be sour” with the U.S.
  150. Parnas said that one of the consequences he threatened was that Vice President Pence’s planned trip to attend Zelensky’s inauguration, a high-level recognition urgently sought by Ukrainians, would be canceled.
  151. The next day, Trump instructed Pence to cancel his trip to the inauguration. Parnas said that Pence was aware of what they were up to, and that the Ukrainians got the message.
  152. Parnas also said Attorney General William Barr was likely aware of what was going on, saying, “Mr. Barr had to have known everything. I mean, it’s impossible,” adding, “Attorney General Barr was basically on the team.”
  153. Parnas also said that he met several times with Rep. Devin Nunes, who had denied knowing him Parnas to Fox News, and said he was referred to a Nunes aide who was aware of what he and Giuliani were doing.
  154. Parnas said he wants to testify because “I want to get the truth out,” adding, “it’s important for our country,” and, “There’s a lot of things that are being said that are not accurate.”
  155. A spokeswoman for the DOJ told MSNBC that Parnas’ claims regarding Barr were “100 percent false.” Maddow said her show asked for a comment from Pence’s office, but did not get a response.
  156. While the show was airing, Giuliani said in a statement to MSNBC that Parnas “never” spoke on behalf of Trump. Asked if Parnas was lying, Giuliani said, “All I can say is the truth,” and, “He’s a very sad situation.”
  157. Later Wednesday, Rep. Nunes changed his previous story on Fox News, saying he can now remember the call, but describing it as “very odd and random, and saying Yovanovitch was not discussed.
  158. Shortly after, Rep. Ted Lieu tweeted that Nunes wrote him a letter threatening that he “will sue me if I didn’t apologize for saying last month that Nunes conspired with Parnas.”
  159. Shortly after, Hyde told Sinclair Broadcasting he had “absolutely not” been monitoring Yovanovitch, saying, “It was just colorful, we were playing — I thought we were playing.”
  160. Later Wednesday, NYT reported on their interview with Parnas. Parnas expressed regret for having trusted Trump and Giuliani. His lawyer said Parnas was eager to cooperate with prosecutors investigating Giuliani.
  161. Parnas said he did not speak with Trump on Ukraine, but he met with him several times and was told by Giuliani Trump was in the loop. Parnas said of a text from Giuliani, “It’s going to work I have no 1 in it,” “no 1” is Trump.
  162. Texts and call logs turned over by Parnas revealed he was in contact with Tom Hicks Jr., a Trump family friend, and Joseph Ahearn, a fundraiser for Trump, about the developments in Ukraine.
  163. In one photograph from May 2018, Parnas is pictured with Hicks and Donald Jr. That month, Parnas and his associate Igor Fruman donated $325,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC, with which Hicks and Ahearn were affiliated.
  164. Texts revealed a circle of communications on the topic of Yovanovitch between Parnas, Hicks, and Giuliani, and conservative media Fox News host Sean Hannity, the Daily Caller, and One America News Network.
  165. Later Wednesday, WAPO reported Hyde has a history of turbulent behavior including being involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital after an incident at Trump’s Doral resort in May 2019.
  166. Hyde was also had a restraining order against him for “inappropriate behavior and advances” against a female political consultant. His social media posts included him at the bowling alley at the White House in May.
  167. Later Wednesday, NYT reported Hyde was often seen in Trump circles at the Trump Hotel DC, and gained access to Trump events having donated $25,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee, and other GOP causes.
  168. On Thursday, in an interview with CNN, Parnas said he met Ukrainian officials another time to demand an investigation of the Bidens: the first was in early 2019 with then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
  169. Parnas said he told Poroshenko he would need to announce an inquiry of Burisma: “Trump would either invite him to the White House or make a statement for him, but basically would start supporting him for president.”
  170. Parnas said he later told a Zelensky aide unless they announced an investigation “there was no aid,” “no inauguration, Pence wouldn’t be at the inauguration,” and “no visit to the White House.”
  171. Parnas also said Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing arranged a sit-down with Barr and senior DOJ officials on behalf of their client Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash, who agreed to get dirt on the Bidens.
  172. Parnas said Barr was aware of the arrangement, saying, “Bill Barr basically did (the meeting) as a favor to Joe diGenova.” Parnas also got a cut of the $1 million retainer Firtash paid for the lawyers.
  173. On Thursday, NYT reported Ukraine has opened a criminal investigation into allies of Trump, following reports that Yovanovitch was under surveillance while stationed in Kyiv as revealed in Parnas’ documents.
  174. The Internal Affairs Ministry of Ukraine said documents “contain facts of possible violations of Ukrainian law and of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, which protect the rights of diplomats.”
  175. The statement also noted Ukraine “cannot ignore such illegal activities” on its territory. The move was a remarkable departure for Zelensky, who has tried to avoid any hint of partisanship dealing with the U.S.
  176. On Thursday, Ukraine also said it has asked the FBI for help in investigating the reported hacking of Burisma by hackers working for Russia.
  177. On Thursday, Pence told reporters of Parnas, “I don’t know the guy,” and called the allegation that he was aware of efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens as “completely false.”
  178. On Thursday, the non-partisan federal watchdog agency Government Accountability Office said the White House’s Office of Management and Budget violated the law when it withheld $391 million from Ukraine.
  179. At issue is the Impoundment Control Act which limits a president’s power to withhold money that has been allocated by Congress without legislative branch approval. The Act was enacted in 1974 over Nixon’s veto.
  180. The Trump regime rejected the findings. This is the third time the GAO has found Trump violated the act, including in December 2017 related to Energy Department funds and December 2018 related to the DHS funds.
  181. Although the report does not result in any action or specific penalty against the White House or Trump, it will focus attention in the impeachment trial on the legality of Trump freezing Ukraine aide.
  182. On Thursday, GOP Sen. Martha McSally lashed out at a CNN reporter asking her about impeachment, saying, “You’re a liberal hack. I’m not talking to you.” McSally also tweeted a video clip of the encounter.
  183. On Thursday, at her weekly news conference, Pelosi said of Republicans who do not want the Parnas evidence introduced at the trial, “They’re afraid of the truth,” and “want to ignore anything new that comes up.”
  184. Pelosi added, “Public opinion will have a lot to do with this,” adding, “public opinion has grown enormously for seeing witnesses…and documentation,” and “they’ll just have to contend with the public on that.”
  185. Pelosi also criticized Facebook, calling the company “shameful” and accused it of acting in an “irresponsible” way, adding, “They didn’t even check on the money from Russia in the last election.”
  186. Pelosi added, “The Facebook business model is strictly to make money,” adding, “They don’t care about the impact on children” or the “truth,” and they intend “to be accomplices for misleading the American people.”
  187. On Thursday, the Senate began the formal impeachment trial. The House impeachment managers again walked the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Schiff read aloud the articles of impeachment to the Senators.
  188. Schiff added Trump “warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”
  189. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administered an oath to 99 senators in session (Sen. James Inhofe was absent), requiring them to swear to deliver “impartial justice” as jurors in the trial.
  190. The clerk then called each Senator by name for their turn to sign the oath book on a table in the well of the Senate, meant to convey the gravity of presidential and judicial impeachment trials.
  191. On Thursday, Senators voted unanimously to allow the sergeant-at-arms to “install appropriate equipment and furniture in the Senate chamber.” Cell phones, computers, and other electronic gadgets will not be allowed.
  192. On Thursday, shortly after the Senate trial got underway, Trump tweeted, “I JUST GOT IMPEACHED FOR MAKING A PERFECT PHONE CALL!”
  193. On Thursday, following calls from Democrats led by Sen. Kamala Harris, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham paused judicial nominations during the impeachment trial.
  194. On Thursday, NYT reported the DOJ will investigate a years-old leak of classified information about a Russian intelligence document, and appear to be focusing on former FBI director and Trump adversary James Comey.
  195. The investigation marked the second time the DOJ has investigated Comey, who Trump has called a “leaker” and said he should face prison time, and will focus on Comey providing details to reporters.
  196. Prosecutors are examining articles in the NYT and WAPO in 2017, which cite a Russian government document. The document played a key role in Comey’s decision not to recommend charges against Hillary Clinton.
  197. The timing of the investigation was highly unusual given leaks are typically investigated when they happen. It is being conducted by the U.S. attorney office in Washington, which is also investigating Andrew McCabe.
  198. On Thursday, in the second part of his MSNBC interview, Parnas said, “it was all about 2020, to make sure [Trump] had another four years,” adding, “There was no other reason for doing it.”
  199. Parnas also said then Energy Secretary Rick Perry was involved, noting on his way to Zelensky’s inauguration, he called Giuliani “to ask him what to discuss, and Rudy told him to make sure to give [Zelensky] the message.”
  200. Parnas added that Perry called Giuliani after the inauguration, saying “that he spoke to Zelensky, and Zelensky’s going to do it.” Parnas said the effort did lead to Zelensky making a general announcement.
  201. Parnas noted, “Giuliani blew his lid,” because the announcement “wasn’t supposed to be a corruption announcement,” adding, “It had to be about Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and Burisma.”
  202. Parnas also recalled a conversation with Trump at a super PAC dinner and saying something negative about Yovanovitch to him, then Trump immediately turning to an aide, John DeStefano, and said “fire her.”
  203. Parnas also said Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow was “in the loop,” adding he “didn’t agree with what Rudy was doing, but he knew what he was doing,” adding Selulow “didn’t want to be involved in the Ukraine stuff.”
  204. Parnos said Sekulow held discussions about getting a visa for Ukrainian general prosecutor Viktor Shokin so Giuliani could “debrief him in front of Lindsey Graham and certain other people like the attorney general.”
  205. Parnas also said that former Trump attorney John Dowd visited him in jail and told him to be a “good boy” and to “be quiet.” Records show Trump and Sekulow spoke about Dowd representing Parnas and Igor Fruman.
  206. Parnas also compared Trump to a “cult leader,” adding he believes he is more safe telling his story than leaving it in the hands of Barr, saying, “I’m more scared of our own justice department than I am of these criminals.”
  207. On Thursday, presidential historian Douglas Brinkley compared Trump to Billy the Kid and Al Capone, saying, “he’s going to be seen as acting in a demagogic way and acting in a dictatorial way.”
  208. On Friday, Trump announced his made-for-tv impeachment legal team, with the addition of former independent counsel Ken Starr and celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz.
  209. Trump also enlisted Robert Ray, Starr’s successor as independent counsel, who negotiated a settlement with Clinton as he left the White House. All three appear on Fox News, and face controversies.
  210. Dershowitz represented Jeffrey Epstein. Starr was fired as president of Baylor University over his mishandling of sexual misconduct by the football team. Ray was charged with stalking a former girlfriend.
  211. Trump’s legal team will be led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, and his personal lawyer Sekulow, who will also be charged with preserving Trump’s support with Senate Republicans.
  212. Other lawyers on the team included Pam Bondi, the former Florida attorney general who declined to pursue charges against Trump University, along with Jane Serene Raskin, and Eric Herschmann.
  213. On Friday, Pompeo broke 72 hours of silence over alleged surveillance and threats to Yovanovitch, saying he believed the allegations were false, but that he had an obligation to evaluate and investigate the matter.
  214. Pompeo claimed in a radio interview that he had no knowledge of the allegations prior to the release of the Parnas documents, and claimed he did not know and had not met Parnas.
  215. On Friday, Chair Engel threatened in a letter to subpoena Pompeo to appear if he does not show up for the scheduled House Foreign Affair Committee hearing on January 29 to discuss Iran policy.
  216. On Friday, Trump tweeted, “The GOA got it exactly backwards,” meaning the GAO, citing quotes by Dershowitz and Sean Hannity on Fox News, adding, “They do what the House asks. The Swamp!”
  217. On Friday, the Trump regime proposed additional changes to former first lady Michelle Obama’s signature achievement of stricter nutritional standards on the school lunch menu. Friday was also Michelle’s birthday.
  218. USDA Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps announced the changes would allow schools to cut the amount of vegetables and fruits on the menu, and sell more pizza, burgers, and fries.
  219. On Friday, newly released Parnas documents revealed repeated contact via text messages between Nunes’ aide, Derek Harvey, and Parnas relating to Giuliani’s Ukraine efforts.
  220. Text messages also revealed the three met at the Trump Hotel DC, and that Parnas set up calls for Harvey with the same Ukrainian prosecutors who were working with Giuliani.
  221. Text messages showed that Harvey sent Parnas Nunes’ contact information on April 10, two days before the two spoke. Parnas told MSNBC Nunes “couldn’t be in a spotlight,” citing “something to do with an ethics committee.”
  222. On Friday, Rep. Lieu tweeted a response to Nunes’ lawyer over his threat to sue him, saying, “It is true” Nunes worked with Parnas “and conspired to undermine our own government,” adding, “take your letter and shove it.”
  223. On Friday, Hyde pointed the finger at ardent European Trump supporter Anthony de Caluwe for surveilling Yovanovitch, claiming he had copied and pasted information received from him and sent it to Parnas.
  224. De Caluwe denied the allegations, telling NBC News that Hyde’s statement was “incorrect,” and saying he declined to provide the information Hyde sought, claiming, “I informed him it’s against the law.”
  225. On Saturday, de Caluwe reversed after an additional batch of documents were released, telling NBC News he did send the messages to Hyde, but that there was no actual surveillance and it was meant as a joke.
  226. De Caluwe said in a statement, “My engagement in this exchange with Rob is something that has no credibility. My friendship with Rob was jovial and this exchange was just a part of a ridiculous banter.”
  227. On Friday, in a court filing submitted shortly before midnight, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said he was the one who made the decision to release Peter Strzok and Lisa Page texts.
  228. Rosenstein said he decided to release the texts to the media before his testimony citing concerns that they would be cherry-picked in a manner to undermine the DOJ, as well as Strzok and Page.
  229. On Saturday, Trump lawyer Bondi dismissed the new evidence on “TODAY,” saying, “Parnas liked to take pictures with a lot of people. He showed up at events pretty much everywhere where Republicans were.”
  230. When asked about evidence that Parnas had a breakfast meeting with Trump in September, just days before Parnas was arrested, Bondi replied, “I don’t know what that matters,” and “We’re going to stick to the facts” and law.
  231. On Saturday, WAPO reported at a Friday night fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago, Trump delivered a dramatic account, including new details, of the strike against Soleimani to donors.
  232. Trump did not mention an “imminent attack” or threats to U.S. embassies, instead saying Soleimani was responsible for “every young, beautiful man or woman who you see walking around with no legs, no arms.”
  233. Trump said to applause, “He was saying bad things about our country, like we’re going to attack, we’re going to kill your people. I said, ‘listen, how much of this shit do we have to listen to, right?’”
  234. Trump also described the Situation Room moments before the attack: ‘Sir, they have two minutes and 11 seconds.’ No emotion. ‘two minutes and 11 seconds to live, sir. They’re in the car….Then all of a sudden, boom.”
  235. Trump also bragged he increased the defense budget by $2.5 trillion (the actual amount is $738 billion), and said to those who criticize the budget deficit, “Who the hell cares about the budget? We’re going to have a country.”
  236. On Saturday, Trump retweeted, “Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia,” and “That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away.”
  237. Trump’s tweet came as thousands were expected in Richmond to protest Gov. Northam’s measures put in place after arrests made by the FBI. The State Capitol was enclosed by a chain-link fence and barricades.
  238. On Saturday, thousands marched in the fourth Annual Women’s March in Washington DC and other U.S. cities. Participants said that this year demonstrators said they felt something new: hope.

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Clerk of the House Cheryl Johnson, left, and House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving pass through Statuary Hall at the Capitol to deliver the articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. Following are impeachment managers, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., left, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and other managers Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 165: “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” -MLK

JANUARY 04, 2020

Week 164

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-164/
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From Amsterdam this week. Artist: Teachr1 collab with Michael Rappaport.

Throughout my time keeping the list, I have been concerned that since Trump would do anything to stay in power, when he felt he was losing his grip, we risked him taking extraordinary actions. This week, Trump assassinated Iran’s top general Qasem Soleimani — a decision he made while vacationing in Mar-a-Lago, and unilaterally, without seeking approval or consulting with Congressional leaders.ENU7KGSWsAA63-4

As a backdrop, this week additional reporting and documents released under Freedom of Information Act requests painted a far more dire picture for Trump heading into a Senate impeachment trial. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continued to hold the articles of impeachment, the mood seemed to shift with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell trying to defend his statements about pre-judging the matter and his actions of moving in lock-step with the White House.

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This week the country was again rocked by an anti-Semitic attack, amid a massive increase of hate crimes in U.S. major cities. Trump remained passive on the rise of hatred of all kinds, which continued to escalate to record levels in 2019.

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NYC, November 2019.
  1. On Monday, WAPO reported that during Trump’s first 1,075 days in office, he visited a Trump property on 331 days, or 31% of the time. Trump has dubbed his property Mar-a-Lago as the “Southern White House.”
  2. On Tuesday, CNN reported Trump closed out 2019 with a round of golf. During 2019, he spent one in every five days at one of the Trump golf courses — a total of 86 days.
  3. Trump, who criticized Obama for golfing while in office, tweeting in 2015, “I mean he’s played more golf than most people on the PGA Tour,” has golfed 251 days in three years. Obama golfed 333 rounds in eight years.
  4. On Thursday, 39 GOP senators and 168 representatives signed a “friend of the court” amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to “reconsider” Roe v. Wade as part of a Louisiana abortion access law due to be heard in March.
  5. On Friday, the Trump regime joined too, filing a brief asking the Supreme Court to allow the Louisiana law to go into effect, arguing that it does not pose an unconstitutional burden on women seeking an abortion.
  6. On Tuesday, NPR reported aid to farmers ballooned in 2019 to over $22 billion — including more than $14 billion in compensation for Trump’s trade wars — up from $13 billion in 2018, and the highest level in 14 years.
  7. On Friday, the Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index fell in December to 47.2, the lowest level since June 2009. Global trade remains the most significant issue due to Trump’s trade wars.
  8. On Saturday, AP reported there were more mass killings in the U.S. in 2019 than in any year dating back to at least the 1970s. Of the 41 mass killings, 33 were mass shootings. More than 210 people were killed.
  9. On Friday, a report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago —  the country’s three largest cities — are poised to hit an 18-year peak.
  10. NYC had 229 anti-Semitic hate crimes, a modern city record. The Anti-Defamation League noted conspiracy theories on the fringes 20 years ago have reached the mainstream through cable-TV and social media.
  11. On Saturday, five members of an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish congregation in Monsey, New York, a suburb outside of NYC, were stabbed with a machete-type knife while celebrating the seventh night of Hanukkah at their rabbi’s home.
  12. The incident marks the latest in a string of 13 anti-Semitic attacks in the New York-New Jersey region in recent months, including nine in NYC. Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it an act of domestic terrorism,”
  13. Gov. Cuomo also said it was endemic of “an American cancer on the body politic,” adding, “this is violence spurred by hate.” The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on Trump to have the FBI create a special task force.
  14. On Sunday, a gunman killed two worshipers attending services at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, before the church’s security team fatally shot him.
  15. On Sunday, Trump continued his attacks on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, again quoting a conspiracy theorytweet about her son being involved in a Ukraine corruption scandal, and adding, “Any answers Nancy?”
  16. Trump also tweeted a video of scenes of homelessness in San Francisco, and added, “Crazy Nancy Pelosishould spend more time in her decaying city and less time on the Impeachment Hoax!”
  17. Four hours later, Trump finally tweeted about the Monsey attack, calling it “horrific,” adding, “We must all come together to fight, confront, and eradicate the evil scourge of anti-Semitism.”
  18. Some Democrats urged Trump to do more, saying he has insufficiently denounced anti-Semitism despite a spike in hate crimes, and has frequently perpetuated offensive stereotypes about Jewish people.
  19. On Monday, Trump tweeted about the church shooting Sunday, saying, “It was over in 6 seconds thanks to the brave parishioners who acted…Lives were saved by these heroes, and Texas laws allowing them to carry arms!”
  20. On Saturday, Trump quoted a tweet about former FBI director James Comey, and added, “A Dirty Cop at the highest level. Scum!”
  21. On Monday, in an op-ed, Comey urged, “we need to fight through our fatigue and contempt,” calling Trump a “shrunken, withered figure,” and noting “the danger he poses to our nation and its values.”
  22. On Sunday, Ivanka told “Face the Nation” she may leave the White House if Trump is re-elected, saying her decision will be “driven first and foremost by my kids and their happiness.”
  23. When asked about migrant children being separated from their parents at the border, Ivanka said, “Immigration is not part of my portfolio, obviously,” adding, “I think everyone should be engaged.”
  24. On Wednesday, Trump named Ivanka and Jared to be included in the presidential delegation to Davos in late January. Critics continued to raise concerns about the family’s role in shaping foreign and financial policy.
  25. On Sunday, Daily Beast reported Republican lawmakers are steering clear of the information Rudy Giuliani collected on his recent trip to Ukraine, and are distancing themselves from him ahead of the impeachment trial.
  26. Sen. Lindsey Graham cautioned Giuliani to have U.S. intelligence scrub the information he gathered “to make sure it’s not Russia propaganda,” adding, “I’m very suspicious of what the Russians are up to all over the world.”
  27. On Sunday, the Kremlin posted a readout of a call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump. Per the readout, Putin thanked Trump for information that “helped thwart terrorist acts in Russia.”
  28. The Kremlin readout also said the two discussed issues of mutual interest, and agreed to “continue bilateral cooperation in combating terrorism.” The White House had yet to release a readout, as has happened prior.
  29. On Monday, the White House said in a statement that Putin called to thank Trump, and to discuss “counterterrorism cooperation” and “future efforts to support effective arms control.”
  30. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted Putin “called to thank me and the U.S. for informing them of a planned terrorist attack,” saying “many lives” were saved and “Great & important coordination!” Details were unclear.
  31. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been indicted on three corruption cases, said, “Immunity isn’t against democracy; immunity is a cornerstone of democracy.”
  32. On Wednesday, Netanyahu announced he would ask Knesset for immunity from the three charges while in serving in office. The request would put the political establishment against the legal system ahead of the election.
  33. On Sunday, NYT reported half a million children have been separated from their families in Xinjiang, China by government authorities intent on instilling their loyalty to the Communist Party over Islam.
  34. On Sunday, NYT provided a full account of the 84 days of “conflict and confusion” behind the Ukraine frozen aid, based on dozens of interviews, previously undisclosed emails and documents, and reviews of testimony.
  35. NYT reported Trump’s demands to withhold aid went on a separate track from Giuliani’s efforts for investigations, sent shock waves through the White House and the Pentagon, and caused rifts in the senior ranks.
  36. The first hold-up came on June 19, when national security aide Robert Blair called Russell Vought, acting head of the Office of Management and Budget, and said Trump had a problem with the aid and stated, “We need to hold it up.”
  37. Given Congress appropriated $391 million of aid by September 30, four top appointees helped acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney with the hold: Vought, Blair, Michael Duffey, and Mark Paoletta, OMB’s top lawyer.
  38. On June 19, Duffey told career OMB official Mark Sandy to attach a footnote to a routine budget document saying the aid was being temporarily withheld. Sandy had never done this in 12 years at the OMB.
  39. On June 27, Mulvaney emailed Blair, asking, “Did we ever find out about the money for Ukraine and whether we can hold it back?” Blair said it would be possible, but not pretty. “Expect Congress to become unhinged.”
  40. On July 18, a group of top officials meeting on Ukraine learned from an OMB officials that Trump had ordered the hold. That day, the House Foreign Affairs Committee received four calls warning them of the hold.
  41. On July 25, the Pentagon learned of the hold based on Duffey’s email sent 90 minutes after Trump’s call, and officials were concerned given Ukraine had seized a Russian tanker, which could lead to an escalation.
  42. Sandy received a go ahead from OMB lawyers to make a “brief pause” official by inserting a footnote into the budget document, prohibiting the Pentagon from spending any of the aid until August 5.
  43. In late July, Sandy’s authority to oversee the aid freeze was removed and given to political appointee Duffey. Two OMB staffers resigned. Frustrated Pentagon officials were kept in the dark on the reason for the freeze.
  44. Pentagon budget official Elaine McCusker told OMB $61 million of the money needed to be spent by August 12, or would be lost. OMB officials came to consensus on a legal rationale, but it was a “POTUS-level decision.”
  45. Mulvaney worked to schedule a conference call with Trump and Vought, then-NSA John Bolton, and White House counsel Pat Cipollone on August 12 at Trump’s Bedminster club where he was golfing, but the call did not happen.
  46. Mulvaney later reached Trump and aid was kept on hold, as OMB lawyers determined McCusker had inaccurately raised alarms. On the same day, the whistleblower submitted their complaint.
  47. In late summer, OMB officials, along with the White House and DOJ, came up with a rationale for the hold: that lifting it would undermine Trump’s negotiating position in his efforts to fight corruption in Ukraine.
  48. On August 28, Politico published a story on Ukrainian aid being frozen. Trump denied to Sen. Ron Johnson the freeze was related to investigations days later. He also learned of the whistleblower complaint in late August.
  49. In late August, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Bolton met with Trumpin the Oval Office to explain that releasing the aid was in the interests of the U.S.
  50. Sens. Johnson and Rob Portman pushed Trump to release the aid, including a September 11 call from Portman. On September 9, the chairs of three House committees said they would open an investigation.
  51. On September 10, the day before Trump released the aid, Duffey said in an email to McCusker the Pentagon had the authority to do more to release aid by the deadline. She replied, “You can’t be serious. I am speechless.”
  52. On Monday, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the NYT reporting a “game changer,” adding it shows all four witnesses Senate Democrats have requested were “intimately involved and had direct knowledge.”
  53. Schumer demanded Majority Leader McConnell call Mulvaney, Bolton, Blair, and Duffey to testify as the White House blocked them, adding if Trump is “so confident…why won’t you let your men testify?”
  54. On Monday, Sen. Susan Collins told Maine Public Radio she is “open to witnesses,” but said it was “premature to decide who should be called until we see the evidence” and get answers to the questions senators can submit.
  55. Collins also echoed Sen. Lisa Murkowski in being critical of McConnell working closely with the White House on preparations, calling it “inappropriate” for members in either party to prejudge evidence.
  56. To secure witnesses at the Senate trial, Senate Democrats would need at least four Republicans to join them. Senators will return to Washington, D.C. next week.
  57. Later Monday, Trump attacked CNN host Chris Cuomo, tweeting an article from far-right Breitbart on his bloopers, and adding, “He is Fake News, will always be Fredo to us. I should release some of his dishonest interviews?”
  58. Trump also retweeted a doctored video first sent on November 22 of his voice calling in to Chris Cuomo in the place of his mother, and calling Cuomo fake news. Trump has also publicly attacked his brother, Andrew.
  59. On Monday, according to Nielsen Media Research, Fox News averaged 2.5 million viewers per night in 2019, the highest viewership in the network’s 23-year history.
  60. Fox News was the network the most-watched channel on basic cable for 2019. MSNBC came in third with 1.75 million viewers, and CNN came in 22nd with 972,000 average viewers per night.
  61. On Thursday, NY Daily News reported former Fox News reporter Courtney Friel says in a new book that before Trump took office, he told her she was “the hottest one at Fox News” and should come to his office “so we can kiss.”
  62. On Saturday, at least 34 governors, including 13 Republicans, were granted the power to admit refugees by the State Department, after citing the need for workers despite Trump’s cap of 18,000 refugees in 2020.
  63. The Houston Chronicle reported Texas cities including Houston,San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin have also opted in. Trump’s drastic cuts to refugees led to the closure of more than 51 resettlement programs.
  64. On Sunday, AP reported that under Trump, asylum has become almost impossible to get. One factory worker from Honduras who applied, saying he feared being killed, was deported after eight months.
  65. Back in Honduras, a few months later, he was shot and injured. Apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexico border have plunged by more than 70% in the past six months, as the Trump regime sends a message to migrants not to try.
  66. On Monday, BuzzFeed reported a 40 year-old French man died in ICE custody, the fourth in fiscal year 2020, after eight died in fiscal 2019. He was in custody since November 12 and died December 29 in a hospital.
  67. The House Oversight and Reform Committee said it had launched an investigation into the medical care at ICE facilities, after reporting on a whistleblower account which revealed substandard care.
  68. On Tuesday, WAPO reported the Trump Org fired at least seven workers from its Virginia winery citing their lack of legal immigration status, 11 months after the company began purging undocumented workers.
  69. Two of the workers, who were fired after working at the winery for more than a decade, told the Post the winery had waited until after the year’s work was complete to dismiss them.
  70. On Monday, police said they were investigating swastikas spray-painted on Seth Paine Elementary School in Lake Zurich, Illinois. Also painted were “poop,” “Trump 2020” with an X through it, and “Joe Biden 2020.”
  71. On Monday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the DeKalb County Police Department’s homeland security unit is investigating a series of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim flyers found on homes and cars.
  72. The flyers were found in an area known for its vibrant Jewish community. One flyer described the Holocaust as a “Jew lie” and said Jewish people are “odious creatures,” and was lined with swastikas.
  73. On Monday, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice approved a recommendation of a report calling for the firing of all the West Virginia correctional officers who in Week 160 were seen giving a Nazi salute in their graduation photo.
  74. On Monday, a survey by Third Way/Joint Center found 80% of black voters say Trump’s election has made people with racist views more likely to speak out, and 55% say they now face more racism in their daily lives.
  75. On Thursday, NBC News reported Aaron Charles Rowe, 30, a Seattle man, was charged with a hate crime after attacking four men of Korean descent on a downtown street, striking them and shouting, “I hate Chinese.”
  76. On Monday, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit brought by former Trump national security official Charles Kupperman to testify in the impeachment inquiry, saying the House had rescinded its subpoena.
  77. The case was the last long-shot for the House to compel testimony in the Ukraine probe. Bolton had cited the lawsuit as his rationale for not speaking publicly as a witness in the impeachment probe.
  78. On Monday, in a court filing, lawyers for Peter Strzok argued the FBI and Justice Department violated his rights to free speech and privacy in a lawsuit filed in August over his dismissal.
  79. The DOJ argued Strzok’s role in the investigation of Trump “imposed on him a higher burden of caution,” as it asked to dismiss the case. Strzok said his firing leaves career officials vulnerable to firing for political speech.
  80. While the DOJ had argued Trump had nothing to do with the decision to fire Strzok, the filing quoted Trump’s remarks last week taking credit for firing Strzok and others.
  81. On Monday, AP reported Erik Prince has been referred to the Treasury Department for possibly violations due to his trip last month to Caracas, Venezuela, which is under U.S. sanctions.
  82. Prince’s meeting with Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez was flagged as unauthorized diplomatic outreach, and raised questions over whether he was there to open a secret backchannel on behalf of Trump.
  83. On Monday, in a letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a coalition of 91 groups called for the removal of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) head William Pendley, as his temporary post is set to expire on Friday.
  84. Pendley is a controversial figure, and an odd pick by Trump, based on his past comments opposing federal land ownership. The letter cited “his actions betray BLM’s mission and demonstrate his lack of fitness to lead.”
  85. On Thursday, conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty asked a judge to immediately purge over 200,000 voters, and find the Wisconsin Elections Commission in contempt and impose a daily fine until it does so.
  86. On Thursday, a federal judge directed the Commerce Department to review and release a cache of documentsincluding emails and attachments sent to and from Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross and others.
  87. The documents include roughly 20,000 pages, about 40% of what the government had previously produced. The DOJ had argued the documents should not be released “because the case has already been decided.”
  88. On Monday, Sec. Pompeo told “Fox & Friends” he would not definitively rule out running for Senate in Kansas, but said it is “not something that I want to do.”
  89. On Tuesday, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said he would not run for Senate in New Hampshire, tweeting, “I am certain I would have won,” but giving no explanation.
  90. On Tuesday, Trump accused Democrats of avoiding a Senate trial to protect the Bidens, tweeting, “The Democrats will do anything to avoid a trial in the Senate in order to protect Sleepy Joe Biden.”
  91. Trump also tweeted the trial would “expose the millions and millions of dollars that ““Where’s” Hunter, & possibly Joe, were paid by companies and countries for doing NOTHING,” adding, “Joe wants no part of this mess!”
  92. Biden said on the campaign trail Saturday that he would defy a subpoena to testify in the Senate impeachment trial, but later clarified to say there is no “legal basis” for him to be called as a witness.
  93. Later Tuesday, Trump called Pelosi the “most overrated person I know!” saying, “They didn’t get one Republican House vote,” and “produced no case,” adding, “so now she doesn’t want to go to the Senate. She’s all lies.”
  94. On Tuesday, thousands of supporters of Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia, chanting “Death to America” and “America is the Great Satan,” stormed entrances to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
  95. U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces stood by as the militia passed the green zone, hung their flags on the barbed wire protecting the compound, and breached the main embassy reception area and set it on fire.
  96. The militia set up tents, saying they would not leave until the U.S. pulled all diplomats and troops out of Iraq. Diplomats and staffers huddled in a fortified safe room, while the Pentagon sent reinforcements.
  97. The siege came in response to U.S. airstrikes targeting Kataib Hezbollah, which the Pentagon blamed for a rocket attack that killed an American defense contractor on December 27.
  98. Many drew comparisons to the Iran hostage crisis in 1979 after the siege of the embassy in Tehran. Comparisons were also made to a militant group’s attack on an American compound in Benghazi, and Republicans’ reaction.
  99. Later Tuesday, Sec. Pompeo told “Fox News” there were no plans to evacuate the 300 plus diplomats and staffers, or 5,000 troops from Iraq. He told CBS News the U.S. expected Iraqi officials to protect U.S. facilities.
  100. On Tuesday, after attacking Biden, Trump tweeted, “Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible,” adding, “we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy.”
  101. Trump was at his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach to play golf as news hit. Instead of golfing 18 holes as planned, he left the club after 45 minutes to return to Mar-a-Lago.
  102. Politico reported Trump was concerned with the optics. He tweeted, “to those many millions of people in Iraq who want freedom and who don’t want to be dominated and controlled by Iran, this is your time!”
  103. Trump also tweeted, “Very good meeting on the Middle East, the Military, and Trade. Heading back to The Southern White House (Mar-a-Lago!). Updates throughout the day.”
  104. The White House White did not respond to requests about whom Trump had met with at the golf course, or why they met at there rather than at Mar-a-Lago.
  105. Later Tuesday afternoon, Trump tweeted, “The Anti-Bengahzi!” then deleted and corrected the spelling, and tweeted “The Anti-Benghazi!”
  106. Trump also tweeted, “The Fake News said I played golf today, and I did NOT! I had meeting in various locations,” adding, “The Corrupt Lamestream Media knew this” but “failed to report or correct!”
  107. Later Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “The U.S. Embassy in Iraq is, & has been for hours, SAFE!” adding, “our great Warfighters” and “the most lethal military equipment in the world, was immediately rushed to the site.”
  108. Trump also tweeted, “Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE!” adding, “This is not a Warning, it is a Threat,” and, “Happy New Year!”
  109. Trump also quoted a lawyer on Fox News, tweeting, “It’s my opinion as a lawyer that the Articles of Impeachment are defective,” saying they should be dismissed. Trump added, “A great lawyer & person. Thank you Brad!”
  110. Trump quoted another Fox News commentator, saying, “This guy (Strzok) was organizing a coup to undo the 2016 election,” and adding, “And he wasn’t the only one,” and, “The greatest Witch Hunt in American history!
  111. On New Year’s Eve, Trump hosted a $1,000-a-head gala at Mar-a-Lago that he personally profited from. Trump boasted to reporters, “We’re going to have a great year, I predict,” as he arrived at his party.
  112. Trump continued to defend Kim Jong Un, saying, “he did sign a contract…an agreement, talking about denuclearization,” calling him a “man of his word” and adding the “Christmas gift” Kim promised might be a “beautiful vase.”
  113. Trump bragged about his handling of the embassy attack, saying, “This will not be a Benghazi. Benghazi should never have happened,” and said he did not want war with Iran, but if it came to that it “wouldn’t last long.”
  114. Trump called impeachment “a big, fat hoax,” saying, “We had, I guess, 196 to nothing, with the Republicans,” and adding, “We had three Democrats come over. One actually joined our party, as you know.”
  115. Trump added, “we did nothing wrong,” adding, “all you have to do is read the transcripts” or you could “go see or speak to the President of Ukraine.” He also called House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff “a corrupt politician.”
  116. Trump added, “I think the impeachment thing — I call it ‘impeachment light.’ It’s a disgrace,” and “Nancy Pelosi should be ashamed of herself. She’s a highly overrated person. I know her well; she’s highly overrated.”
  117. Giuliani, who was attending the celebration, told reporters, “I would testify, I would do demonstrations, I’d give lectures, I’d give summations or I would do what I do best. I’d try the case. I would love to try the case.”
  118. On New Year’s Eve, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts delivered his annual report on the state of the judiciary, in the midst of unprecedented rancor between the branches of government.
  119. Roberts warned, “we have come to take democracy for granted, and civic education has fallen by the wayside,” citing “social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale.”
  120. Roberts warned against “mob violence,” and said “the public’s need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital. The judiciary has an important role to play in civic education.”
  121. Roberts called on judges to “reflect on our duty to judge without fear or favor,” and to “resolve to do our best to maintain the public’s trust that we are faithfully discharging our solemn obligation to equal justice.”
  122. Roberts, who has clashed with Trump on judicial independence, added, “We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary, a key source of national unity and stability,” but added that “justice is not inevitable.”
  123. Without naming him, Roberts singled out Merrick Garland for praise for his exemplary educational work over two decades as a tutor at a local school, saying he was “inspiring his court colleagues to join in the effort.”
  124. On Wednesday, in his New Year’s speech, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared an end to the country’s moratorium on testing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
  125. Kim also threatened, “depending on the U.S. future attitude,” to expand the country’s nuclear force, and to show off a “new strategic weapon” in the near future​ and “shift to a shocking actual action.”
  126. On Wednesday, Sec. Pompeo canceled a week-long trip planned to Ukraine and four other countries to stay and monitor the situation in Iraq, to “ensure the safety and security of Americans in the Middle East.”
  127. Former State Department officials and associates of Pompeo told the Times he is keen to make sure American diplomats are not hurt, after as a congressman he was among the most scathing critics of Benghazi.
  128. Pompeo was scheduled to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday to “reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” — the first senior level meeting since impeachment.
  129. Pompeo canceled another meeting with Zelensky planned for November, as it was in the middle of impeachment hearings. The second cancellation could add to Ukrainian suspicions that Trump has little regard for them.
  130. On Wednesday, Politico reported Trump is more comfortable and in a better mood while at Mar-a-Lago. One official described Trump as feeling “liberated” with fewer staffers trying to keep away shady characters.
  131. People who surround Trump at Mar-a-Lago are described as true believers, with one Mar-a-Lago member describing it as “a religious revival,” saying people jump up and down and scream Trump’s praises.
  132. On Wednesday, a GOP political consultant asked in an op-ed what the GOP stood for, saying “a party without a governing theory, a higher purpose or a clear moral direction is nothing more than a cartel, a syndicate.”
  133. He added, the “paranoid element in the party has existed for decades,” and warned “a party that has as its sole purpose the protection and promotion of its leader, whatever he thinks, is not on a sustainable path.”
  134. On Wednesday, NYT reported former Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, who received clemency from Trump, has capitalized on his newfound fame by launching a lifestyle clothing brand, and garnering endorsements.
  135. Gallagher and his wife’s online shop refers to SEALs who testified against him in court as “mean girls.” Gallagher also frequently appears on Fox News and his lawyer said he is planning to write a book.
  136. On Thursday, Daily Beast reported Trump is considering pardoning Nicholas Slatten, an employee Blackwater, who was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2007 massacre in Baghdad.
  137. Blackwater was founded by Trump ally Erik Prince, who has claimed the company was railroaded in the massacre at the Nisour Square traffic circle by America’s far left.
  138. On Thursday, Australia declared a national emergency in New South Wales, citing brush fires which erupted two months ago are likely to get worse in the coming days amid record heat.
  139. A study by the University of Sydney warned the country’s wildlife is in jeopardy, saying approximately 480 million animals have been affected in New South Wales since September.
  140. On Thursday, Trump tweeted, “A lot of very good people were taken down by a small group of Dirty (Filthy) Cops, politicians, government officials,” and cited an investigation “illegally started & that SPIED on my campaign.”
  141. Trump also tweeted, “The Witch Hunt is sputtering badly, but still going on (Ukraine Hoax!),” saying if it happened to a Democratic president “it would be considered the CRIME OF THE CENTURY.”
  142. On Thursday, Just Security said it was able to review unredacted versions of emails from June until early October previously made public under the FOIA, between the Pentagon and OMB on withholding aid from Ukraine.
  143. The emails revealed that the White House was warned that withholding Ukraine aid was illegal, but Trump demanded it anyway. An email from Duffey to McCusker stated, “Clear direction from POTUS to hold.”
  144. On August 26, McCusker emailed Duffey that the Senate Arms Services Committee asked about the aid, “Has OMB directed DOD/DSCA to halt execution of all…If so, when, and what was the reason given?”
  145. On August 27, Sec. Esper’s chief of staff emailed McCusker about the hold, citing concern from a defense contractor. She said it was “difficult because OMB lawyers continue to consistently mischaracterize the process.”
  146. A draft letter from deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist to Vought on August 27 stated “we have repeatedly advised OMB officials that pauses beyond Aug. 19, 2019 jeopardize” obligations of the Impoundment Control Act.
  147. Duffey emailed McCusker on September 11 to say the hold is lifted. When she asked why, Duffey responded, “Not exactly clear but president made the decision to go. Will fill you in when I get details.”
  148. On Thursday, Sen. Schumer called the newly revealed emails a “devastating blow” to McConnell’s push “to have a trial without the documents and witnesses we’ve requested,” saying they further implicate Trump.
  149. Schumer added the emails “further expose the serious concerns raised by Trump administration officials about the propriety and legality of the president’s decision to cut off aid to Ukraine to benefit himself.”
  150. Aides also told WAPO that Schumer and McConnell did not communicate over the holidays. McConnell said he would be unconcerned if a trial never took place.
  151. On Thursday, Pelosi quoted the Just Security article, adding, “Trump engaged in unprecedented, total obstruction of Congress, hiding these emails,” adding, “Why won’t Trump & McConnell allow a fair trial?”
  152. Later Thursday, BuzzFeed reported on the third batch of FBI interview notes from the Mueller probe released by the FBI and DOJ under the FOIA, which included 356 of documents.
  153. Notably, the FBI and DOJ withheld vast swaths of information, citing a number of FOIA exemptions, including an ongoing investigation. The batch included a fully redacted 31-page interview, including the name.
  154. Documents revealed K.T. McFarland was interviewed by the FBI under a proffer agreement in December 2017. McFarland revised her summer interview after it was contradicted by Michael Flynn’s guilty plea.
  155. Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi told the FBI he realized he had been lying to “protect his own cover story,” and “realized the way he wanted to remember things was not actually how things happened.”
  156. Michael Cohen said in November 2018 he tried to set up a meeting between Putin and Trump following the 2015 U.N. General Assembly at Trump Tower at Trump’s behest. He googled the number for the Kremlin.
  157. Paul Manafort said in October 2018 he believed Trump was sending him messages through Fox News host Sean Hannity. Manafort said Hannity told him Trump said “to hang in there,” and “that Trump had his back.”
  158. Ike Kaveladze said Donald Jr. asked about dirt on Hillary at the June 6, 2016 Trump Tower meeting. He said Kushner asked, “What are we doing here?” and Donald Jr. later asked: “Is there anything you have on Hillary?”
  159. Early Thursday, Reuters reported Iran Revolutionary Guards Commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami said: “We are not leading the country to war, but we are not afraid of any war.”
  160. Late Thursday, Iraqi television reported Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, was killed by an air strike on his convoy at Baghdad airport.
  161. An expert told the Times Soleimani is “irreplaceable and indispensable” to Iran’s military establishment. The strike killed five including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the pro-Iranian chief of an umbrella group for Iraqi militias.
  162. Later Thursday, at around 9:30 p.m., Trump tweeted an image of the American flag with no text and pinned it to his page. Trump had gone most of the day without tweeting.
  163. Shortly after, Defense Secretary Esper confirmed that Soleimani was killed in what the Pentagon termed a “defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad,” and “at the direction of the president.”
  164. Esper also said in his statement that Soleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” but did not provide evidence to back the claim.
  165. Later Thursday, Pelosi spoke to Esper after getting no advance notice of the strike. She tweeted the action was taken “without an Authorization for Use of Military Force” and “without the consultation of the Congress.”
  166. Late Thursday, Trump ally Sen. Graham tweeted, “I appreciate President @realDonaldTrump’s bold action against Iranian aggression,” adding, “To the Iranian government: if you want more, you will get more.”
  167. On Friday, Graham told “Fox & Friends” that he “was briefed about the potential operation” while spending multiple days with Trump in Mar-a-Lago. The “Gang of Eight,” which Graham is not part of, was not notified.
  168. Graham added, “When the President brought it up to me, I was taken aback,” saying, “I’m worried about the stability of the Iraqi government today. I have no idea how they are going to respond.”
  169. On Friday, threatening retaliation, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a statement Soleimani’s death was “bitter” but that “the final victory will make life more bitter for the murderers and criminals.”
  170. On Friday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted the flag of Soleimani will be raised and “the path of resistance to US excesses will continue,” adding, “The great nation of Iran will take revenge for this heinous crime.”
  171. On Friday, AP reported thousands of Iranians took the streets in Tehran after morning prayer, waving posters of Soleimani and chanting, “Death to deceitful America,” and burning Israeli flags.
  172. On Friday, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi condemned the U.S. “assassination” of the Iraqi militia leader, calling it an act of aggression and a breach of the conditions under which U.S. forces operate in Iraq.
  173. On Friday, Putin said the strike risked “aggravating the situation” in the Middle East. China urged restraintfrom all sides, “especially the United States,” and said it was “highly concerned.”
  174. The European Union warned against a “generalized flare-up of violence.” Britain, France, and Germany called for “stability” and “calm,” and noted Iran bore some responsibility for the escalation.
  175. Although Trump did not inform European allies in advance, Pompeo expressed frustration at their reactions, saying they “all need to understand that what we did…saved lives in Europe as well.”
  176. Pompeo also spoke to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. The State Department readout called the strike a “decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad,” adding the U.S. “remains committed to de-escalation.”
  177. The Russian Foreign Ministry readout cited Lavrov saying, “targeted actions by a UN member state to eliminate officials of another UN member state…grossly violate the principles of international law.”
  178. The U.K. government warned Trump against launching a war against Iran, and urged “all parties to de-escalate,” adding, “further conflict is in none of our interests.”
  179. On Friday, Netanyahu credited Trump for “acting swiftly,” saying the U.S. has a right to self-defense as Soleimani was responsible for the death of Americans other innocent people, and was “planning more such attacks.”
  180. On Friday, the State Department advised all Americans to leave Iraq: the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad issued a statement saying that due to heightened tensions in the region, U.S. citizens should depart Iraq immediately.
  181. On Friday, Trump sent a series of morning tweets, his first communications with the American people after the strike. Trump tweeted, “Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!” It was unclear what he meant.
  182. Trump also tweeted, “General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more…but got caught!”
  183. Trump added, “He was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number of PROTESTERS killed in Iran,” adding, “He should have been taken out many years ago!
  184. Trump also tweeted, “The United States has paid Iraq Billions of Dollars a year, for many years,” and added, “The people of Iraq don’t want to be dominated & controlled by Iran, but ultimately, that is their choice.”
  185. On Friday, American oil workers fled Iraq. Sixteen years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Iran is the dominant power. Anti-government protestors who were protesting Iran’s influence feared their efforts would be stifled.
  186. On Friday, McConnell returned to DC and spoke from the Senate floor, calling it a “fantasy” that Pelosi can “hand design the trial proceedings,” and adding he will conduct senate business until he gets the articles.
  187. McConnell defended his coordination of the “trial mechanics with the White House,” comparing it to Schumer “openly coordinating political strategy with the Speaker.”
  188. McConnell added, “their turn is over,” and “they’ve done enough damage.” When asked by reporters if he will meet with Schumer about the trial, he said he had already “addressed all of the relevant issues” in remarks.
  189. Schumer spoke next, saying McConnell “hasn’t given one good reason why there shouldn’t be relevant witnesses or relevant documents,” and, “Instead of trying to find the truth, he is still using the same feeble talking points.”
  190. Schumer added, “I’m a member of the Gang of Eight, which is typically briefed in advance of operations of this level of significance,” saying the regime should not only look to “your inner and often insulated circle.”
  191. Shortly after, Pelosi said in a statement: “Today, Leader McConnell made clear that he will feebly comply with President Trump’s cover-up of his abuses of power and be an accomplice to that cover-up.”
  192. Pelosi added, “McConnell is doubling down on his violation of his oath, even after the exposure of new, deeply incriminating documents this week,” and “The American people deserve the truth.”
  193. On Friday, a federal judge ruled Lev Parnas can turn over documents and data seized by federal investigators when Parnas was arrested in October to the House Intelligence Committee as part of the impeachment inquiry.
  194. On Friday, a federal appeals court in Washington heard arguments from the DOJ and House Democrats in two separation-of-powers lawsuits relating to Don McGahn testifying and Mueller grand jury materials.
  195. The court held back-to-back hearings, spanning three hours, and did not announce a decision in either case; however, based on questioning, it appeared the House had a stronger case on the grand jury materials.
  196. A judge asked the House lawyer, “Are you here to say there may be a third article of impeachment?” relating to the Mueller probe, to which he responded, “Yes, that’s on the table. There is no doubt.”
  197. On Friday, Trump quoted Christopher Bedford, The Federalist Senior Editor, tweeting, “There is NOTHING NEW in these Emails at all that’s been discovered. It’s exactly what we knew before.”
  198. Trump continued quoting, “Trump wanted to question aid to a number of different places that he thought were wasteful,” and “Democrats argument for impeachment has not gotten stronger over the last few weeks.”
  199. On Friday, in a series of tweets, Vice President Mike Pence defended Trump, falsely linked Soleimani to the 9/11 attacks, tweeting he “assisted in the clandestine travel to Afghanistan of 10 of the 12 terrorists.”
  200. Pence also inaccurately described the number of terrorist as 12, while the correct number is 19. Scholars noted Al Qaeda is a radical Sunni group whose members consider Shiites to be apostates. Soleimani is a Shiite.
  201. On Friday, the Pentagon said it was prepared to deploy an additional 3,500 soldiers to the region. The soldiers joined roughly 650 already in the region, and planned to stay for 60 days.
  202. On Friday, Sen. Tim Kaine introduced a war powers resolution to force Trump to cease hostilities without approval by Congress. After 10 days, Kaine can force a full Senate vote on his motion without being blocked.
  203. Later Friday, Trump told reporters at Mar-a-Lago that he authorized the strike because Soleimani was plotting “imminent and sinister attacks” on Americans, saying, “We caught him in the act and terminated him.”
  204. Trump also said that Soleimani should have been taken out by his predecessors, and, “We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.” Trump also urged Iran not to retaliate.
  205. Trump also said, after spending almost all his time in office trashing U.S. intelligence agencies and taking the word of foreign governments over them, that America has “the best intelligence in the world.”
  206. On Friday, Russian state media blamed Trump’s impeachment for the assassination of Soleimani, which it described as “a terrorist act,” and claimed Trump may have been “set up” by U.S. intelligence.
  207. Hours later, AP reported Iraqi officials and Iranian-backed militias in Iraq claimed a second deadly air-stikekilled five members of a Popular Mobilization Forces medic convoy. U.S. officials denied involvement.
  208. Later Friday, in a speech to his evangelical Christian base in Miami, Trump told the crowd, “Evangelical Christians of every denomination and believers of every faith have never had a greater champion.”
  209. Trump brought Cissie Graham Lynch, a granddaughter of Billy Graham, the founder of Christianity Today, to the stage, in a rebuke of the editorial calling for his removal. She vowed to help Trump win re-election.
  210. Trump spoke briefly about the strike, saying Soleimani “was planning a very major attack, and we got him,” adding, “as president, I will never hesitate to defend the safety of the American people.”
  211. Trump said he would renew the importance of religion and family, toughen restrictions on abortion, and “safeguard students and teachers’ First Amendment rights to pray in our schools.”
  212. Trump jabbed at his 2020 opponents, again referring to Sen. Elizabeth Warren as the racial-slur “Pocahontas,” and saying we cannot let the “radical left” win as “everything we’ve done will be gone in short order.”
  213. Friday was also the last day for Christianity Today editor Mark Galli, who is retiring. Galli told the Times he was shocked by the response to his op-ed, which crashed the magazine’s website.
  214. Galli said he was “surprised by the ethical naïveté of the response I’m receiving to the editorial,” saying there seems to be “widespread ignorance” about “the gravity of Trump’s moral failings.”
  215. Galli added, “People wrote to me and said they had felt all alone and were waiting for someone in the evangelical leadership” to speak up, adding, “a lot of people who were feeling alone and they’re not feeling that way.”
  216. Galli added some of Trump’s closest followers are “being discipled by him,” saying, “They’re taking their cueson how to react in the public square from Donald Trump, whose basic response is to denigrate people.”
  217. Later Friday, Trump retweeted conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, comparing Schumer to Iran and the reason for not getting advance notice: “Neither were the Iranians, and for pretty much the same reason.”
  218. On Friday, Daily Beast reported Trump told friends and allies at Mar-a-Lago over the past several days that he was working on a “big” response to the Iranian regime, and they would hear or read about very “soon.”
  219. Later Friday, NYT reported in a terse response to its FOIA request, the White House said it would not turn over 20 emails between Blair and Duffey in which they discussed withholding aid, even with redactions.
  220. In a letter, the White House FOIA officer cited an exemption for correspondence involving the president’s staff, saying it would “inhibit the frank and candid exchange of views” in government decision-making.
  221. On Friday, Republican Rep. Phil Roe said he will not seek another term, becoming the 25th Republican to do so for 2020. Roe was the ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
  222. On Saturday, Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee urged Pelosi to request a 72-hour mental hold on Trump, following the Iran attack, saying “a mental health hold, which we have tried to avoid, will become inevitable.”
  223. Lee said mental health professionals “foresaw” this type of event as Trump’s “response to the impeachment proceedings, just as his pulling troops from northern Syria was a direct response to the announcement of an impeachment inquiry.”
  224. On Saturday, WAPO reported thousands mourned at a funeral procession for Soleimani chanting, “Death to America, death to Israel,” and “We will take our revenge!”
  225. An Iranian commander quoted by the Tasnim News Agency vowed retaliation, saying dozens of American and Israeli facilities and military assets in the Middle East were at risk.
  226. On Saturday, NATO suspended its Iraq training mission, saying, “The safety of our personnel in Iraq is paramount. We continue to take all precautions necessary.”
  227. On Saturday, a Survey Monkey poll found two of Republicans’ top four choices of whom they would consider voting for in the 2024 presidential election are Trump’s children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka.

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Pro-Iranian militiamen and their supporters set a fire during a sit-in in front of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. U.S. troops fired tear gas on Wednesday to disperse pro-Iran protesters who were gathered outside the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad for a second day as pro-Iranian militiamen and their supporters had camped out overnight at the gates of the embassy. On Tuesday, dozens of the protesters had broken into the compound, trashing a reception area and smashing windows in one of the worst attacks on the embassy in recent memory.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 164: “MORAL UNFITNESS”

DECEMBER 28, 2019

Week 163

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-163/
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artist: Jim Carrey, 22dec19

This was the quietest week in months as Congress left Washington for a two-week holiday break. After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate, Trump spent the week stewing and repeatedly attacking her on Twitter and in his limited public appearances. Sen. Lisa Murkowski became the first Republican Senator to speak out against Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s handling of the impeachment trial, saying she was “disturbed” by his “total coordination” with the White House.

Trump spent the week at Mar-a-Lago, removed from White House staffers and consumed with airing his personal grievances and amplifying far-right conspiracy theorists. He and his allies attacked Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for cutting out his cameo appearance in a Christmas showing of “Home Alone 2.” Trump also spent much of his days quoting hosts and guests on Fox News, and retweeting allies and conspiracy theorists.

This week the media did a bit of reckoning on its coverage of Trump, after Rolling Stone published an interview of “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, in which he admitted he has been “naive” in his coverage and complicit in the spread of disinformation. Evangelical leaders continued their online battle over whether Trump’s moral unfitness was grounds for his removal.

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  1. On Sunday, Christianity Today editor-in-chief Mark Galli told “Face the Nation” on his op-ed, “I’m not really making a political judgment about him…I am making a moral judgment that he’s morally unfit.”
  2. On Sunday, Timothy Dalrymple, the president and CEO of Christianity Today, acknowledged the “whirlwind” of responses for and against their op-ed, and said, “Trump would have you believe we are “far left”” which is “untrue.”
  3. Dalrymple said, “Out of love for Jesus and his church…is why we feel compelled to say that the alliance of American evangelicalism with this presidency has wrought enormous damage to Christian witness.”
  4. Dalrymple added Trump has “alienated many of our children and grandchildren,” “harmed African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American brothers and sisters,” and undercut our countless missionaries.
  5. On Sunday, an op-ed in The Christian Post called for Trump to be impeached, saying, “the Constitution is more important than abortion,” and citing “Trump’s behavior is a threat to our Constitutional order.”
  6. CP also reported nearly 200 evangelical leaders came out against the Christianity Today op-ed in a statement, saying it supported “the entirely-partisan, legally-dubious, and politically-motivated impeachment.”
  7. The statement threatened it is up to “Evangelicals like us to decide if we should subscribe to, advertise in and read your publication online and in print, but historically, we have been your readers.”
  8. On Monday, CT said it lost 2,000 subscribers, but gained 5,000 younger, more diverse, global subscribers. Christian leaders who have spoken out have lost book sales, conference attendees, donors, and members.
  9. On Monday, editor Napp Nazworth, who has worked for the CP website since 2011, resigned because the website was planning to publish a pro-Trump editorial slamming CT.
  10. On Tuesday, other evangelical leaders published a letter in support of CT, saying, “Although one may not agree with Mark Galli, we have an obligation to consider the character and actions of this president.”
  11. On Sunday, in a letter published at The Atlantic, former Congressman David Trott said, “Trump is psychologically, morally, intellectually, and emotionally unfit for office,” and called his actions in office “frightening.”
  12. On Tuesday, in an interview with Rolling Stone, “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd said in three years of Trump he learned “the right has an incentive structure” to spread disinformation and confront journalists.
  13. Todd said he did not understand the motivations of GOP lawmakers telling lies “that they may know will look ridiculous in three or four years,” citing three senators who claimed Ukraine interfered in 2016 on his show.
  14. Todd said Trump “learned at the feet of a master of deception in Roy Cohn,” who learned from Joe McCarthy, and “we’re going to have another reckoning when this post-Trump era truly works itself out of our system.”
  15. On Thursday, First Draft’s “Year in Review” noted, “the biggest threat is failing to address the reality of online alternative media ecosystems,” which are driving much of the disinformation, understood by few.
  16. On Saturday, WAPO reported after three years in office, 1 in 4 U.S. circuit court judges are Trump nominees. Last week the Senate confirmed an additional 13 district court judges, for 50 overall.
  17. By contrast, Obama appointed 55 circuit judges in eight years. Also, two Supreme Court justices were appointed by Trump. Overall 187 judges were confirmed to the federal bench as the Senate speeds through picks.
  18. On Saturday, Trump aired his grievances in an evening speech to conservative college students at the Turning Point USA conference. Trump said of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “Crazy Nancy, she’s crazy.”
  19. Trump added, “So now she says she has no case, so let’s not submit it. That’s good right? But you know what, so unfair. She has no case,” adding, “there’s no crime. There’s no nothing. How do you impeach?”
  20. Trump also praised Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for voting “present” on articles of impeachment, saying, “I give her respect. She didn’t vote the other day. I give her a lot of respect. She knew it was wrong.”
  21. Trump also mocked the Green New Deal, and attacked windmills, saying, “it is very expensive, and “they are made in China and Germany mostly,” and “tremendous fumes and gases are spewing into the atmosphere.”
  22. Trump also claimed “a windmill will kill many bald eagles,” adding, “they make you turn it off. And yet, if you killed one, they put you in jail. That is OK. But why is it OK for windmills to destroy the bird population?”
  23. On Sunday, an Instagram photo showed controversial Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher presenting a “little gift” to Trump at Mar-a-Lago. Gallagher was convicted of being photographed with a 17 year-old captive’s corpse.
  24. On Sunday, Sen. Ron Johnson repeated a conspiracy theory on “This Week,” claiming, “There are serious questions about some actors in the DNC” working with Ukraine, and “I’m trying to get to the bottom of that.”
  25. Johnson also criticized Pelosi for withholding articles, calling the decision “bizarre,” adding, “they had to rush to this impeachment vote and then all of a sudden she’s sitting on it,” and calling the articles “pretty thin gruel.”
  26. On Sunday, Sen. Roy Blunt told “State of the Union” Pelosi does not have the right to hold the articles, adding, “it’s a very political process. Five of the so-called jurors, running for president.”
  27. On Sunday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy falsely stated on “Fox News,” based on the Justice Department IG report, the FBI “broke into” candidate Trump’s campaign, they “spied on him,” and “covered it up.”
  28. McCarthy also tweeted the falsehood on Sunday: “The FBI broke into President Trump’s campaign, spied on him, then tried to cover it up,” adding, “This is a modern-day Watergate.”
  29. On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke at a news conference, citing emails released to the Center for Public Integrity: “What is a trial with no witnesses and no documents?” calling it a “sham trial.”
  30. Schumer added, “If there was ever an argument that we need Mr. Duffey to come testify, this is that information,” adding, “This email is explosive,” citing Michael Duffey’s email on July 25 putting aid on hold.
  31. On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “Crazy Nancy wants to dictate terms on the Impeachment Hoax to the Republican Majority Senate, but striped [sic] away all Due Process,” adding, “Their case is dead.”
  32. Later, Trump tweeted, “The Democrats and Crooked Hillary paid for & provided a Fake Dossier,” falsely claiming, “They spied on my campaign, then tried to cover it up — Just Like Watergate, but bigger!”
  33. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told “Fox & Friends” that “We haven’t ruled out witnesses,” adding, “let’s handle this case just like we did with President Clinton. Fair is fair.”
  34. On Monday, Schumer sent a letter to Senators arguing for the White House to produce documents related to withholding aid from Ukraine, saying, “I believe it is essential that the Senate hear from certain witnesses.”
  35. Citing Duffey’s email putting aid on hold sent 91 minutes after Trump’s July 25 phone call, Schumer said there is “no good reason why evidence that is directly relevant” to articles should be withheld.
  36. Schumer also rejected McConnell’s comparison to the trial of Clinton, who was impeached after a lengthy independent counsel investigation, saying waiting until after presentations to decide on witnesses would be too late.
  37. On Monday, Pelosi tweeted Trump “blocked his own witnesses and documents” over “phony complaintsabout the House process,” adding, “What is his excuse now?”
  38. On Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted that Pelosi should “stop playing games with the Constitution,” adding, “The Senate will decide how we dispose of this sham created by the House.”
  39. On Monday, in an op-ed Sen. Patrick Leahy criticized McConnell for “vowing a quick acquittal,” saying, “he is ‘not an impartial juror’” and pledging “no difference” between Trump and our position.
  40. Leahy also cited Graham “admitted that he’s ‘not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here,’” saying, “our job is to follow the facts and abide by the Constitution,” and “it’s not to rig the trial” in favor of or against Trump.
  41. On Monday, The Hill reported those who know Trump well say he is feeling the scars of being impeached deeply. Many who know him say that despite his bluster, Trump is acutely insecure.
  42. Unlike his tendency to deny past failures, former staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman said, “Impeachment effectively undermines his desire to be significant, because he now has that asterisk tattooed to his head.”
  43. On Monday, the Justice Department filed a brief saying the House’s vote to impeach Trump last week undercut lawmakers’ ongoing court case demanding testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn.
  44. The DOJ also argued the looming Senate impeachment trial on articles unrelated to McGahn could make it appear the Court is weighing in on impeachment “at a time when political tensions are at their highest levels.”
  45. On Monday, lawyers for the House Judiciary Committee said in a filing the panel is open to additional articles of impeachment if additional evidence is found that Trump tried to obstruct justice.
  46. The House also argued, “McGahn’s testimony is critical both to a Senate trial and to the Committee’s ongoing impeachment investigations” to determine if Trump’s conducts warrants further action by the panel.
  47. On Monday, journalist Tom Brokaw said there were “significant differences” between Trump and Richard Nixon, saying, “Nixon was always aware of being presidential,” and “Trump plays from the gutter frankly.”
  48. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted a series of quotes from “Fox & Friends.” Trump quoted analyst Brit Hume, saying Pelosi and Schumer are in doubt, and “the evidence they’ve brought forth so far not being good enough.”
  49. Trump quoted co-host Brian Kilmeade, saying, “it should be intolerable, because the American people have had it with this,” with Trump adding, “the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats have gone CRAZY.”
  50. Trump also quoted the show, tweeting, “Christmas week at All-Time Record Highs,” and pushed McConnell’s new book, “The Long Game,” tweeting, “187 new Federal Judges have been confirmed” under Trump.
  51. On Tuesday, the day of Christmas Eve, Trump addressed the troops in a video conference, saying, “I’m at a place called Mar-a-Lago. We call it the ‘southern White House’ because I really pretty much work.”
  52. Trump also addressed his cameo appearance in the movie “Home Alone 2,” saying, “it was an honor to do it,” adding, “it turned out to be a very big hit, obviously. It’s a big Christmas hit — one of the biggest.”
  53. After, Trump vented to reporters on impeachment and Democrats. Trump said, “It’s up to Mitch McConnell, and we have the majority,” adding, “he’s going to do what he wants to do,” and, “they treated us very unfairly.”
  54. Trump slammed Democrats, saying Pelosi “hates all of the people who voted for me and the Republican Party,” and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff ran the impeachment probe as “a sick, corrupt politician.”
  55. Trump also railed against FBI agents investigating Russia interference in the 2016 election, calling them“dirty people,” “bad people,” and “evil people,” adding, “We have no place in our country for people like that.”
  56. When asked if he would pardon Roger Stone, Trump said he had not thought about it, but added, “He got hit very hard…as did General Flynn and a lot of other people. And now they are finding out it was all a hoax.”
  57. Trump also falsely claimed he barely knew Stone, saying, “Stone was not involved in my campaign in any way. Other than the very, very beginning.” Stone was in direct contact with senior Trump officials throughout.
  58. Trump added, “We had dirty cops; we had people spying on my campaign,” repeating a debunked conspiracy theory, saying, “They did terrible things, the likes of which had never been done before in our country.”
  59. Later Tuesday, viewers in Canada noted on social media that Trump’s cameo appearance in “Home Alone 2” had been cut from the broadcast of the movie on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
  60. On Tuesday, Rep. Paul Gosar tweeted a video of a studio light almost falling on Hillary and Bill Clinton decades ago, with the message, “Remember the reason for the season! #MerryChristmas”
  61. On Monday, AP reported when Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman met with Andrew Favorov, the No. 2 at Naftogaz, in March at a conference in Houston, they sought the removal of his boss and ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
  62. The two informed him that Trump would soon be moving Yovanovitch, who was a key backer of anti-corruption efforts at Naftogaz, and asked his help in removing CEO Andriy Kobolyev, who was also anti-corruption.
  63. Favarov, who was stunned by their proposal, politely left the meeting with no intention of helping. In the weeks that followed, he was bombarded by Fruman with texts on WhatsApp.
  64. In April, after Volodymyr Zelensky won as president, Favarov and Kobolyev came to Washington and met with Fiona Hill, and then, along with Parnas and Fruman, they met an aide to Energy Sec. Rick Perry.
  65. Perry would later put forward names of allies for the Naftogaz supervisory board, and his allies won a big contract to export U.S. natural gas exports to Eastern Europe, another goal mentioned by Fruman and Parnas.
  66. On Monday, in an interview with New York Magazine “over Bloody Marys,” Rudy Giuliani claimed he was “more a Jew” than Holocaust survivor George Soros, a frequent target of right-wing attacks.
  67. Giuliani added, “Don’t tell me I’m anti-Semitic if I oppose him,” adding, “Soros is hardly a Jew,” and, “He doesn’t belong to a synagogue, he doesn’t support Israel, he’s an enemy of Israel,” and is a “horrible human being.”
  68. Giuliani added of Soros, “He’s elected eight anarchist D.A.’s” and claiming without evidence, “he put all four ambassadors there” — the four who testified in the impeachment probe — and “he’s employing the FBI agents.”
  69. Giuliani’s comments were criticized by Jewish organizations for leaning on old anti-Semitic tropes that powerful Jews secretly pull the strings for world events, and endorsing antisemitic conspiracy theories.
  70. Giuliani called the Southern District of New York the biggest betrayal, saying, “If they’re investigating me, they’re assholes,” and “they’re idiots. Then they really are a Trump-deranged bunch of silly New York liberals.”
  71. On Monday, NYT reported John Durham’s decision to go public after the DOJ IG report was released with a statement surprised people who have worked with him, saying it was out of character in an open case.
  72. Some former co-workers said Durham has placed his reputation for impartiality on the line by taking the assignment. In past high profile cases he was known not to allow leaks or bend to pressure from DOJ higher-ups.
  73. On Thursday, Edward MacMahon, a lawyer for Lev Parnas, asked to withdraw, saying Parnas’ “apparent ability to fund his defense has diminished.” Lawyer Joseph Bondy will continue to represent Parnas.
  74. On Monday, Saudi Arabia sentenced five low-level men to death for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, reflecting the Saudi argument the killing was not ordered by the royal court, but was a decision of agents on the ground.
  75. A U.N. investigator said the kingdom’s actions amount to obstruction of justice, as the trial was done in secret. Neither Saudi Crown Prince MBS or his top aides who allegedly ordered the killing will face any consequences.
  76. On Monday, Daily Beast reported a document sent from the State Department to lawmakers argued against a bipartisan Senate bill to punish Turkey for buying Russian weapons, saying it would bring the countries closer.
  77. The “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” passed after Russia interfered in the 2016 election, mandating sanctions for new purchases of Russia weapons, but the Trump regime has not acted.
  78. The State Department also argued against provisions in the bill that would give Kurds fighters access to Special Immigrant Visas, and against sanctions against Halkbank, a Turkish bank involved in money-laundering.
  79. On Thursday, a federal judge rejected a request by Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank to halt criminal proceedings against the bank for helping Iran evade U.S. economic sanctions.
  80. On Monday, WAPO reported concerns about election security in Georgia persist as new voting machines are rolled out for 2020. Experts warned the new machines are vulnerable to potential intrusions or malfunctions.
  81. On Monday, Jim Martin, a small-business operator and Independent, filed a lawsuit objecting to state party chairs determining who appears on the Minnesota primary ballot. Trump will be the only GOP candidate.
  82. Martin wrote, “By stripping us of our ability to govern ourselves….we Minnesotans are driven downwards into the disparaging pits of authoritarianism,” adding, “I find this to be shocking.”
  83. On Tuesday, Popular Science reported the Trump regime has taken down Toxmap, a free, interactive online application which provided detailed information on pollution data from the internet.
  84. Toxmap, which combined pollution data from at least a dozen U.S. government sources, allowed researchers, students, and activists to identify sources of toxic chemicals and pollution.
  85. On Wednesday, Steven Jorge, 28, was charged with a hate crime after he punched and kicked a 65 year-old Jewish man in Midtown NYC around midday, and yelled “F*** you, Jew.”
  86. On Friday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is increasing its police presence in some Brooklyn neighborhoods with large Jewish populations, following eight recent incidents of anti-Semitism.
  87. The incidents are being investigated as possible hate crimes. The mayor also tweeted, “there will be increased visits to houses of worship and other critical areas in the community.”
  88. On Thursday, Reuters reported on a caravan of 1,500 families of Mexican migrants and Americans of Mexican origin, all with U.S. legal status, heading south to Mexico to leave the U.S.
  89. One member of the caravan, Jesus Mendoza, 35, a painter, is returning to Mexico for the first time since 2001, saying of the U.S., “There’s a lot of extortion, corruption, many people have been attacked.”
  90. On Friday, a local Fox station reported Immigration and Customs Enforcement has begun asking immigration courts to deport young adults who have remained in the U.S. under DACA.
  91. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the DACA program. If the court rules in favor of the Trump regime, ICE is expected to actively work to deport Dreamers.
  92. On Friday, HuffPost reported Trump’s Interior Department removed “sexual orientation” from the agency’s ethics guide on workplace discrimination, leaving “race, color, religion, sex, age, or handicap.”
  93. Documents obtained through a FOIA request show then-Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt made the change in an August 2017 letter, claiming it was a clarification, and sexual orientation came under “sex.”
  94. On Friday, a federal judge denied an effort to restore 98,000 Georgia voters who were removed from the voter roll earlier this month because they had not voted in eight years, citing the state’s “use it or lose it” law.
  95. On Tuesday, a new HuffPost-YouGov poll found 47% of voters think Trump should be removed from office, 42% disagree. On impeachment, 49% approve, 42% disagree.
  96. On Tuesday, the Trump re-election campaign launched a website encouraging supporters to confront their “snowflake” relatives over the holidays, and providing talking points on 12 hot-button issues.
  97. On Tuesday, Politico reported Trump promoted Robert Blair, a top aide to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney who refused to testify after being subpoenaed by the House in the impeachment probe.
  98. Blair will serve as the special representative for international telecommunications policy. Chair Schiff had said some evidence showed Blair “was a percipient witness to the President’s misconduct.”
  99. On Tuesday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski told an Anchorage TV station she was “disturbed” to hear McConnell say there would be “total coordination” between the White House and the Senate over the impeachment trial.
  100. Murkowski became the first GOP Senator to speak out, noting what McConnell said “has further confused the process,” and added, “To me, it means we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense.”
  101. Murkowski said Pelosi rushed the process, saying the House should have gone through the courts to hear witnesses, but “How we will deal with witnesses remains to be seen,” adding she wants a “full and fair process.”
  102. On Wednesday, hours after his Christmas message calling for “understanding and respect” and unity, Trump attacked Pelosi, calling her “Crazy Nancy Pelosi.”
  103. Trump added,“just because she has a slight majority,” Pelosi should not be able to impeach him, saying there were “ZERO Republican votes,” “no crime,” and his July 25 call was “perfect, with “no pressure.””
  104. Trump added the “Scam Impeachment” was “very unfair with no Due Process, proper representation, or witnesses” — notably Trump chose not to participate in the House hearings.
  105. Trump attacked California Gov. Gavin Newsom, tweeting he has “done a really bad job on taking care of the homeless population,” and threatening, “If he can’t fix the problem, the Federal Govt. will get involved!”
  106. On Wednesday, WAPO reported on the climate of mistrust and threats under Trump. The regime is on its third Russia adviser in six months, and they have no background. Kyiv is about to lose its second ambassador.
  107. The only expert on Ukraine remaining has never spoken to Trump. The CIA agent who was the whistleblower is driven to and from work by armed security officers when threats spike because of Trump’s tweets.
  108. Starting in 2017, Steve Bannon had compiled an enemy list of 50 people they wanted exiled from the National Security Council, most who worked as civil servants in the Obama administration, for fear of the “deep state.”
  109. Career staffers like Fiona Hill and Stephanie Holmes were repeatedly threatened over smears spread on the far-right, as well as internal and external efforts to discredit them. Several resurfaced for impeachment.
  110. Republicans, who for decades cast themselves as the champion of the FBI, CIA, Pentagon, and other national security institutions, have turned on those agencies and perceived enemies in order to protect Trump.
  111. Three years in, the enemies list has expanded to include people hired by Trump. The notion that nonpartisan civil servants can serve presidents of either party, a bedrock of foreign policy since World War II, is under attack.
  112. On Thursday, Trump continued his Twitter storm, tweeting, “Nancy Pelosi’s District in California has rapidly become one of the worst anywhere,” citing the “homeless & crime,” saying, “she has lost total control.”
  113. Trump also attacked “her equally incompetent governor, Gavin Newsom,” later adding, “Crazy Nancy should clean up her filthy dirty District & help the homeless there. A primary for N?”
  114. Trump also tweeted, “The Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats” want to “RUSH everything,” citing he is “‘a threat to National Security’,” adding, “they are vicious,” and now “they want to go very slowly. Liars!”
  115. Later Thursday, Trump retweeted a post by the re-election campaign’s official “war room” account that quoted an article in the Washington Examiner naming the alleged whistleblower.
  116. Daily Beast reported Trump has spoken to various friends, media figures, and senior officials about going public with the whistleblower’s name. Ivanka and White House counsel Pat Cipollone cautioned him against it.
  117. On Thursday, an op-ed in the Courier Journal, McConnell’s home state paper, said he was about to violate two oaths to the Constitution, saying, “All senators should take their obligation of faithful impartiality seriously.”
  118. The op-ed by a law professor added, “We Kentuckians know that our word is our bond. Oaths are the most solemn of promises, and their breach results in serious reputational — and sometimes legal — consequences.”
  119. On Thursday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal said at a news conference that five to 10 GOP senators have “severe misgivings” about McConnell’s strategy of “denying a full, fair proceeding with witnesses and documents.”
  120. On Thursday, an MSN tracking poll found support for Trump’s removal from office hit an all-time high: 55% said Trump should be removed, up from 48% last week, while 40% say he should not.
  121. On Thursday, WAPO reported Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin and his wife spent Christmas Eve at Trump’s personal holiday dinner at Mar-a-Lago, after they first met in March when the team won the Stanley Cup.
  122. Ovechkin is a close friend of Putin, and in 2017 he founded an online political campaign for Putin, “Putin Team.” When Trump met Putin in Helsinki in July 2018, he presented him with an Ovechkin shirt.
  123. On Thursday, Donald Jr. tweeted an article about Trump’s cameo being cut in the Christmas broadcast of “Home Alone 2” on CBC, calling it “pathetic.”
  124. On Thursday “Fox & Friends” co-host Ed Henry also commented, saying of CBC, “How bad is your Trump Derangement Syndrome for you to cut that out of a happy movie?”
  125. On Thursday, CBC responded in a tweet, saying, “These edits were done in 2014 when we first acquired the film and before Mr. Trump was elected president,” in order to allow for commercials.
  126. Later Thursday, Trump reacted in a series of tweets. Trump tweeted, “I guess Justin T doesn’t much like my making him pay up on NATO or Trade!” to a Fox article about his cut cameo.
  127. Trump also tweeted, “The movie will never be the same! (just kidding),” quoting another article, and retweeted an article in which Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich called it “censorship” on “Fox & Friends.”
  128. WAPO reported Canadians do play close attention to U.S. politics, and Trump is unpopular. A poll done earlier this month found 60% of Canadians supported Trump being impeached and removed.
  129. On Thursday, a YouGov survey found 41% of Germans think Trump is the most dangerous of five world leaders including North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, China’s Xi Jinping, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Vladimir Putin.
  130. Kim was in second place at 17%, followed by Putin and Khamenei with 8%, and Xi with 7%. Although the U.S. is one of Germany’s closest allies, public trust has significantly eroded under Trump.
  131. On Tuesday, BBC reported Russia’s Ministry of Communications said the government had successfully tested a country-wide alternative to the global internet, and the results will be presented to Putin.
  132. Experts are concerned about the trend of unplugging from the internet in authoritarian countries. China and Iran have already done so, giving the governments control over what their citizens see.
  133. On Thursday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won a primary for the Likud leadership in a landslide with 72% of the vote, setting the stage for another election on March 2.
  134. On Friday, WAPO reported a year after the Knesset voted to dissolve itself, members have been sent home again for a third election, raising questions about the efficacy of the country’s parliamentary democracy.
  135. Over that year, important functions of the executive and legislative branches have been nonexistent: senior appointments are stalled, only six laws were passed in 2019, and no state budget has been approved.
  136. On Friday, NYT reported the Russian military said it has deployed a hypersonic weapon that flies at superfast speeds, and can evade American defense missile systems, possibly renewing an arms race.
  137. Moscow is eager for Trump to renew the last remaining arms control treaty between Moscow and the U.S. which expires in January 2021. The announcement may be viewed as an attempt to restart diplomatic talks.
  138. The treaty, called New START, was put in place under Obama. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in November, “the world has changed” since then. Trump has hinted he may want to restart the arms race, saying U.S. technology would win.
  139. On Friday, NYT reported on video interviews and text obtained of the Navy SEALs in Eddie Gallagher’s platoon who turned on him to testify. Earlier this week, Trump hosted Gallagher and his wife at Mar-a-Lago.
  140. Seven of the 22 men in his platoon testified against him, describing him as “evil” and “toxic,” saying he shot civilians and exposed the platoon to enemy fire to increase his chances for a Silver Star.
  141. Since the trial, Gallagher has publicly insulted the men who testified against him on social media and on Fox News. After retiring with full honors thanks to Trump, he also started a SEAL-themed clothing line.
  142. A recent survey conducted by the Military Times found Trump’s approval with active-duty service members was 42% view him favorably, while 50% view him unfavorably — a low point in his approval.
  143. Trump’s approval has been in decline since taking office, when 46% were favorable, 37% unfavorable. Trump was viewed least favorably by women (28%) and non-white (29%) members.
  144. On Friday, NBC News reported the Army National Guard kicked out two members after a liberal group exposed their membership in a religious group with white supremacist ties.
  145. The Atlanta Antifascists published a report saying Brandon Trent East and Dalton Woodward were leaders of the Norse pagan group Ravensblood Kindred, which endorses white supremacy.
  146. On Friday, the NYT Editorial Board praised Sen. Lisa Murkowski as “a stirring conscience in the Senate,” saying she took “public duty more seriously than party loyalty,” and urged other senators to do the same.
  147. The Times also noted, “in a Republican Party so cowed by this president, with most lawmakers too timid to question even his most grotesque behavior, Ms. Murkowski’s expression of concern sets her apart.”
  148. On Friday, Trump retweeted two tweets containing a hashtag associated with QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory which has raised concerns within the FBI.
  149. Trump also retweeted an account called @TrumpGirlOnFire, which described Obama as a “proud Muslim” and called for him to be imprisoned. The account was suspended on Saturday.
  150. Trump also retweeted a photo showing a fake “Bernie Sanders 2020 Free Shit” lawn sign in grass, with dog feces next to it.
  151. Trump also continued his attacks on Pelosi, tweeting she is “demanding fairness from Leader McConnell when she presided over the most unfair the most unfair hearing in the history of the United States Congress!”
  152. Trump also quoted a “Fox & Friends” guest, tweeting, “Speaker Pelosi and Chuck Schumer’s drive to try and rig the trial against the President is misplaced,” adding, “This President will be exonerated.”
  153. Trump also quoted a tweet by @John_KissMyBot calling for the release of the transcripts of an alleged secret meeting between Schiff and the whistleblower, adding, “Come on Crazy Nancy, do it!”
  154. Trump quoted a tweet of a video by @InBlondWeTrust of homelessness in Pelosi’s district, adding, “Nancy, this just doesn’t seem right!”
  155. Trump also tweeted, then retweeted a OAN video of Pelosi’s son Paul, implying that he might be involved in the Ukrainian corruption scandal, adding, “Wow Crazy Nancy, what’s going on? This is big stuff!”
  156. The Hill reported Trump had tweeted about Pelosi more than 20 times as of Friday since he arrived at Mar-a-Lago, and had addressed her during two public appearances — saying she has gotten under his skin.
  157. On Friday, Pelosi responded, tweeting a video of the evidence uncovered, adding, “The facts are clear and every witness told the same story…Trump abused his power for his own personal gain.”
  158. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “California and New York must do something about their TREMENDOUS Homeless problems,” and “If their Governors can’t handle the situation…they must call and “politely” ask for help.”
  159. On Saturday, MarketWatch reported a study by the Federal Reserve found Trump’s strategy to use import tariffs to protect and boost U.S. manufacturers backfired and led to job losses and higher prices.
  160. Fed researchers found retaliation is not an effective tool given the globally interconnected supply chains, noting any reduction in competition was offset by the effects of rising input costs and retaliatory tariffs.
  161. On Saturday, NYT reported that science is under attack under Trump. In his three years in office, he has diminished the role of science in federal policymaking, while halting or disrupting research projects.
  162. Trump appointees have halted government studies, reduced the influence of scientists in regulatory decisions, and stopped researchers from speaking publicly. Hundreds of scientists are departing.
  163. Staffing at the EPA is at its lowest level in a decade. Federal scientists say hiring freezes and departures have made it harder to conduct scientific work. The regime has cut federal advisory boards by one-third.
  164. The regime has also questioned established scientific research. Internal documents at the EPA revealed political appointees have overruled career experts on several occasions.

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Trump speaks to members of the media following a Christmas Eve video teleconference with members of the military at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 163: “PROFOUNDLY IMMORAL”

*From Amy Siskind’s Weekly List/Art selected and Photos taken by me

DECEMBER 21, 2019

Week 162

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-162/
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In this historic week, Trump became the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. Unlike his recent predecessors who faced the process, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, Trump showed no remorse; rather as the vote was occurring, Trump blasted impeachment and his political opponents in a two-hour meandering speech at a campaign rally in Michigan. Even by his standards, his rhetoric was mean and petty — invoking a deceased Congressman, and suggesting he was watching from hell as his wife, Rep. Debbie Dingell, voted for impeachment.

Republicans continued to stand by Trump like sycophants. The hubris of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Lindsey Graham, saying their minds were made up and the Senate impeachment trial would not be fair, led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold the articles of impeachment, refusing to transmit them before Congress recessed for the holiday break. Reporting continued to expose Trump’s strange ties to Russia, while in plain sight Trump allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin while continuing his frosty relationship with Ukraine.

As Trump continued his war on the so-called deep state, the exodus of senior employees at the Pentagon continued, and morale at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s office plummeted. The country felt on edge and divided as Congress and Trump departed, with Pelosi in control of the process, and no clear road ahead. Christianity Today, a mainstream evangelical magazine, called for Trump’s removal in a scathing op-ed, calling him “profoundly immoral.”F5CA7M4RLVGBJEE5DUMK4MOD7Q

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  1. On Monday, WAPO reported Trump has made 15,413 false or misleading statements as of December 10, his 1,055th day in office. Trump is averaging 32 per day over the past two months, a new high.
  2. Trump has ramped up the lies while in office: in 2017, he told 1,999 false or misleading claims, in 2018 he told 5,689, and so far in 2019 he has told 7,725 false or misleading claims.
  3. On Monday, PolitiFact announced the 2019 Lie of the Year is Donald Trump’s claim the whistleblower got this Ukraine call “almost completely wrong” — a statement it called “more ridiculous than wrong.”
  4. PolitiFact said it only uses the term lie to describe a “falsehood that proves to be of real consequence and gets repeated in a virtual campaign to undermine an accurate narrative.”
  5. On Saturday, Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN on impeachment, “I have made up my mind,” and said that Trump’s Senate trial “will die quickly, and I will do everything I can to make it die quickly.”
  6. When pressed about forming an opinion before the trial, Graham responded, “I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind,” adding, “I’m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here.”
  7. On Saturday, Trump attacked Rep. Debbie Dingell, who recently lost her husband, after a Fox News appearance, tweeting last time he spoke to her she thanked “me for granting” funeral service honors for her husband.
  8. Trump also tweeted he watched “her ripping me” in the “Impeachment Hoax,” adding “pathetic!” Dingell tweeted she would work with him on legislation, “but I’ll also work to hold this Administration accountable.”
  9. On Saturday, Trump also attacked Fox News, tweeting it was “hard to believe” the network would be interviewing “sleazebag & totally discredited” James Comey and “corrupt politician Adam “Shifty” Schiff.”
  10. Trump also tweeted, “Fox is trying sooo hard to be politically correct,” yet “Commiecast MSNBC & Fake News CNN…ratings TANK,” saying they will “all die together,” and “Only pro Trump Fox shows do well.”
  11. On Sunday, as Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a Democrat who won in a Trump district, but was likely to lose the 2020 Democratic primary, said he may switch parties, Trump tweeted, “heard Jeff is very smart!
  12. Trump, who met with Van Drew last Friday, also tweeted of Van Drew’s no vote on impeachment, “Thank you for your honesty Jeff,” adding, “Democrats know you are right,” but “don’t have the “guts” to say so!”
  13. On Sunday, five of Van Drew’s staffers resigned in a letter, citing his “decision to join the ranks of the Republican party led by Donald Trump,” saying they can “no longer in good conscience continue our service.”
  14. CNN reported a sixth staffer resigned late Sunday. On Monday, NYT reported a seventh staffer resigned. Two Republicans who were planning to run in his district said they would work to defeat him.
  15. On Sunday, Sen. Graham told “Face the Nation” that Rudy Giuliani was welcome to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee on “Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and anything else you want to look at.”
  16. On Sunday, House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler told “This Week” Trump “is openly seeking interference in the 2020 election,” and “he poses a continuing threat” to our national security and our election integrity.
  17. On Sunday, House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff told “This Week,” “It’s a clear and present danger,” adding “and not something we can turn away from because the Republicans in the House refuse to do their duty.”
  18. On Sunday, a fight broke out as Chair Adam Schiff was about to speak at an event to thank Congress for passing the Armenian genocide resolution. Protesters called Schiff a “liar” and held signs saying, “Don’t Impeach.”
  19. On Sunday, James Comey told “Fox New Sunday” he took responsibility for errors made in the Justice Department Inspector General report, saying, “I was responsible for this,” and “I was overconfident in the procedures.”
  20. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “As bad as the I.G. Report is for the FBI,” and “Horowitz was appointed by Obama,” adding, “tremendous bias and guilt exposed,” and Horowitz has “Big credibility loss. Obama knew everything!”
  21. Trump also suggested Comey should go to jail, tweeting, “So now Comey’s admitting he was wrong,” adding, “because he got caught red handed,” and, “Could it be years in jail? Where are the apologies to me and others, Jim?”
  22. On Sunday, Trump also picked up a GOP line that he was asking Zelensky to do the U.S., not him, a personal favor, tweeting, “A PERFECT phone call. “Can you do us (not me. Us is referring to our Country) a favor.””
  23. Trump also quoted Fox New host Jeanine Pirro, tweeting, “There is no bribery, or any crime at all,” and Turning Point USA President Charlie Kirk, saying, “The President did nothing wrong here. There is no crime.”
  24. On Sunday, a Fox News poll found 50% say Trump should be impeached and removed, 4% say impeached but not removed, and 41% say Trump should not be impeached — up slightly (49%/4%/41%) from late October.
  25. Trump, who had claimed strong polls and lack of support for impeachment, tweeted, “The @foxnewPolls, always inaccurate, are heavily weighted toward Dems. So ridiculous,” and, “Get a new pollster!”
  26. Trump also tweeted, “Approval Rating in Republican Party = 95%, a Record! Overall Approval Rating = 51%.” This was the 12th time Trump claimed, without citing a poll, his approval with Republicans was 95%.
  27. Trump also tweeted Fox News host Sean Hannity, who said the “Impeachment Hoax” is “lying, corruption and propaganda. Should never be allowed to happen,”” will be on Mark Levin’s show at 8 p.m.
  28. Trump also again attacked Speaker Nancy Pelosi, quoting a tweet of her news conference with the line it “wasn’t true,” adding, “Because Nancy’s teeth were falling out of her mouth, and she didn’t have time to think!”
  29. Trump also tweeted, “Congressional Do Nothing Democrats are being absolutely decimated in their districtson the “Impeachment Hoax,” and “Crazy Nancy is finding defending Shifty Schiff harder than she thought!”
  30. On Sunday, North Korea issued a cryptic threat, saying it will send the U.S. a “Christmas gift.” Saturday, North Korea state media reported “another crucial test” was successfully conducted at the Sohae Satellite site.
  31. On Monday, Bill Webster, the former director of the FBI and CIA, said in an op-ed that he was “deeply disturbed” by recent comments by Trump about director Christopher Wray, including that Trump could fire him.
  32. Webster also said he was “profoundly disappointed” in his “longtime” friends Rudy Giuliani for his activities, and Attorney General William Barr for his disparagement of members of the FBI.
  33. On Saturday, the Chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party said the state’s purge of 234,000 voters last Friday was the “product of a right-wing legal and political strategy to prevent eligible voters from voting.”
  34. The Milwaukee Sentinel found that 55% of the voters purged lived in municipalities that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. In 2016, Trump won by roughly 20,000 votes and Gov. Tony Evers won by less than 30,000 votes.
  35. On Monday, a federal judge in Georgia said he would allow that state’s planned voter roll purge of over 313,000 voters, or 4% of registered voters, but would allow a second hearing to reinstate the voters on Thursday.
  36. Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group founded by Stacey Abrams, filed the emergency request. Voter purges became a hot-button issue in 2018 when Abrams ran against Brian Kemp, who was then secretary of state.
  37. On Friday, AP reported Justin Clark, a top political adviser to Trump’s re-election campaign, told influential Republicans in Wisconsin to expect more aggressive use of Election Day monitoring of polling places.
  38. Clark said, “Traditionally it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes in places,” adding, “It’s going to be a much bigger program, a much more aggressive program, a much better-funded program.”
  39. Clark made the remarks on November 21 at a meeting of the Republican National Lawyers Association. A 20-minute audio of the event was provided to AP by the liberal group American Bridge.
  40. On Sunday, in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed calling four witnesses, including John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney, who knew about the Ukraine aid, in Trump’s Senate trial.
  41. Schumer also proposed Robert Blair, senior adviser to Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey, an Office of Management and Budget official. The four were subpoenaed by the House. Schumer said he would welcome witnesses with “direct knowledge” of aid.
  42. On Monday, just after midnight, the House Judiciary Committee released a 658-page report, making the case that Trump committed “multiple federal crimes” as part of the first article of impeachment.
  43. The report cited Trump committed criminal bribery and wire fraud when he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rivals, and his actions need “not rise to the level of a criminal” to merit impeachment.
  44. The report said Trump’s “conduct here was criminal,” saying his behavior is “both constitutional and criminal in character,” and saying Trump “betrayed the people of this nation” and should be removed from office.
  45. The report, which came the day before the Rules Committee formally considered the articles of impeachment, provided a thorough analysis, starting with Trump “welcoming” Russian interference in 2016.
  46. The report found Trump “has fallen into a pattern of behavior: this is not the first time he has solicited foreign interference in an election, been exposed,” adding, “He will almost certainly continue on this course.”
  47. The report called Trump “the Framers’ worst nightmare,” saying he “abused his power in soliciting and pressuring a vulnerable foreign nation” and endorsed “a debunked conspiracy theory” promoted by Russia.
  48. The report included a 20-page scathing Republican dissent from ranking member Rep. Doug Collins, saying,“The case is not only weak but dangerously lowers the bar for future impeachments.”
  49. On Monday, 30 freshman Democrats pushed for Rep. Justin Amash, who left the Republican Party, to be the impeachment manager for Trump’s Senate trial, under the notion he could reach conservative lawmakers.
  50. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “The Impeachment Hoax is the greatest con job,” and said Democrats are making “life easy for the United Republican Party.” Twitter users mused at the new party, “United Republican Party.”
  51. Trump also tweeted of the 2020 debate, “I look very much forward to debating whoever the lucky person is who stumbles across the finish line in the little watched Do Nothing Democrat Debates.”
  52. Trump left an out to possibly skip the debate, claiming without proof “the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates is stacked with Trump Haters & Never Trumpers,” and that he “will make a decision at an appropriate time.”
  53. On Monday, six moderate Democrats elected in districts that Trump won backed impeachment. Roughly a dozen moderate Democrats had yet to announce their decision.
  54. On Monday, 750 historians signed a statement saying “Trump’s numerous and flagrant abuses of power are precisely what the Framers had in mind as grounds for impeaching and removing a president.”
  55. By Wednesday, the list had grown to over 1,500 historian signatories calling for Trump’s impeachment, including many high profile names like Pulitzer Prize winners Ron Chernow, Jon Meacham, and Taylor Branch.
  56. On Monday, in a federal court filing, House Democrats told the court lawmakers will continue their impeachment probe after the House vote this week, and regardless of the Senate trial outcome.
  57. The filing also indicated the House Judiciary Committee plans to continue its impeachment investigation arising from the Mueller probe, started earlier this year, which may lead to further articles of impeachment.
  58. The House general counsel also argued the House’s demands for grand jury materials related to the Mueller probe were still urgent, as the documents could become relevant to the Senate trial.
  59. On Tuesday, McConnell rejected Schumer’s request to call witnesses and set parameters for the Senate trial, calling it a “strange request,” and accusing him of trying to “short-circuit” their plans to negotiate the trial.
  60. Schumer replied that McConnell’s direct clear coordination with the White House takes away any chance of bipartisanship. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway will attend the GOP Senate lunch on Wednesday.
  61. On Tuesday, McConnell also told reporters, “I’m not an impartial juror,” adding, “This is a political process. There is not anything judicial about it. Impeachment is a political decision.”
  62. Later on a radio show, McConnell said witnesses would cause “mutual assured distraction,” adding, “I think we’ve heard enough. After we’ve heard the arguments, we ought to vote and move on.”
  63. CNN reported McConnell’s remarks infuriated Democrats. Schumer said he was “utterly amazed” McConnell would describe himself as not impartial, and challenged other GOP Senators to pledge to be impartial.
  64. On Tuesday, in an interview with BBC News, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Trump “is not a lawyer,” and said of McConnell not being impartial, “If a judge said that, a judge would be disqualified.”
  65. On Tuesday, all the other House Democrats in districts won by Trump came out for impeachment on both articles, except for Rep. Jared Golden who supported just article one and Rep. Ron Kind who did not declare.
  66. Later Tuesday, the House Rules Committee reached an 11th hour agreement on the rules for the impeachment debate, after a day of partisan bickering, agreeing to permit six hours of floor debate.
  67. The small committee’s hearing was the last chance for Democrats and Republicans to spar over charges before the full House vote.
  68. Rep. Jamie Rasking cited Giuliani’s activities, saying the crime is “in progress, up to this very minute,” while GOP Rep. Tom Cole said. “There’s no way this can and should be viewed as legitimate.”
  69. This marked the first time in history that the Rules Committee, which is traditionally used by the House speaker to set the schedule for the chamber, has ever taken up impeachment.
  70. On Saturday, LA Times reported $20 million of the $250 million Pentagon portion of Ukraine aid has yet to be disbursed, and is sitting in U.S. accounts. One Senate aide said the reason for the holdup was unclear.
  71. On Sunday, in a series of tweets, Giuliani shared his Ukraine findings, citing “corruption in 2016 was so extensive it was POTUS’s DUTY to ask” for an investigation, and “Impeachment is part of Dem cover-up.”
  72. Giuliani also claimed according to “Witness Yuri Lutsenko, inheritor of Shokin’s office” that “Amb Yovanovitch perjured herself at least twice,” and “Clear doc proof of money laundering by Burisma & Biden’s.”
  73. Shortly after, Schiff told “This Week” of Giuliani, “the misconduct continues,” saying, “Giuliani went to the White House to brief Trump after his trip to Ukraine,” adding, “This is an ongoing threat to our democracy.”
  74. On Monday, in an interview with The New Yorker done in November, Giuliani said he viewed Marie Yovanovitch as an obstacle to digging up dirt on Joe Biden: “I believed that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way.”
  75. Later Monday, on Fox News, Giuliani backtracked, claiming Yovanovitch “was acting corruptly in that position and had to be removed,” saying she had made untrue statement to Congress without offering proof.
  76. Giuliani also told host Laura Ingraham “I didn’t need her out of the way. I forced her out because she’s corrupt,” adding, “She should’ve been fired if the State Department weren’t part of the deep state.”
  77. On Monday, NYT reported Giuliani provided detailed information to Trump about how Yovanovitch was impeding investigations into Trump’s political rivals ahead of 2020, setting off her recall as ambassador.
  78. Trump then connected Giuliani to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who asked for more information. Within weeks, she was recalled. Giuliani told NYT, “You’d have to ask them [Trump and Pompeo]. But they relied on it.”
  79. On Monday, Trump told reporters Giuliani had not told him much about his recent trip to Ukraine, but said he “knows what he’s doing,” and “he’s a great person who loves our country and he does this out of love.”
  80. On Tuesday, Giuliani told CNN that Trump has been “very supportive” of his continuing efforts to dig up dirt on Trump’s behalf in Ukraine, adding he and Trump are “on the same page” and are “on offense.”
  81. On Tuesday, Giuliani tweeted, “Yovanovitch needed to be removed for many reasons most critical she was denying visas to Ukrainians,” adding, “She was OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE,” and “enabled Ukrainian collusion.”
  82. On Wednesday, journalists sharply criticized One America News (OAN) for ethical lapse in giving Giuliani a platform to spread propaganda, as he shared his three-hour documentary on his findings in Ukraine with Trump.
  83. Trump celebrated OAN’s decision to give Giuliani a reporting role, in helping to make his case against impeachment, especially as Trump continues his critiques of Fox News polling and guests when it suits him.
  84. On Thursday, at an event for Turning Point USA in West Palm Beach, Giuliani told conservative college students that Democrats “want to put Barr in prison, and they want to execute me.”
  85. On Saturday, Hallmark Channel pulled a series of ads by Zola featuring two brides kissing at the altarsurrounded by friends, saying they “are deemed controversial,” after being a targeted campaign by a conservative group.
  86. On Sunday, after widespread condemnation, Hallmark Channel apologized and reinstated the ads, saying, “We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused,” and said it would work with GLAAD.
  87. On Monday, West Point opened an administrative investigation “into the facts, circumstances, and intent of the Cadets in question,” who made an “OK” hand symbol during last Saturday’s Army-Navy football game.
  88. On Monday, LA Times reported under an agreement signed on September 25, the Trump regime is preparing to send immigrants seeking asylum to Honduras, even if they are not from that Central American country.
  89. The agreement, signed by Kevin McAleenan, then acting secretary of Homeland Security, and Honduras’ foreign minister, will effectively end the immigrants chances of finding asylum in the U.S.
  90. The regime has already started to send immigrants to Guatemala under an agreement that took effect on November 22, including a number of Honduran adults.
  91. On Friday, WAPO reported under a secret plan by Stephen Miller, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were embedded within government shelters that cares for unaccompanied migrant children.
  92. The agents collected fingerprints and other biometric information from adults seeking to claim the children. If the adults are deemed ineligible to take custody, ICE could use their information to arrest or deport them.
  93. Miller’s plan appeared to circumvent laws that restrict the use of refugee programs for deportation enforcement, as Congress had made clear it does not want sponsors to be scared away by the threat of deportation.
  94. After the Trump regime tried similar action in 2018, language was added to a 2019 funding bill specifically prohibited the Department of Health and Human Services from using child sponsor data. Miller’s plan circumvented HHS by using ICE agents.
  95. On Friday, NBC News reported an Iowa woman, Nicole Marie Poole Franklin, 42, has been charged with attempted murder after telling police she “intentionally” drove over a 14 year-old girl because she was Hispanic.
  96. On Saturday, 25 Jewish lawmakers called on Trump to fire Stephen Miller, saying, “His documentation of white nationalist and virulently anti-immigrant tropes is wholly unacceptable and disqualifying.”
  97. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan dismissed Michael Flynn’s motion to find prosecutors in contempt, saying there was no basis for his allegations that federal law enforcement entrapped him into a plea deal.
  98. The judge found Flynn told the same lies to the FBI, Pence, and senior White House officials, who repeated them publicly, leading to his firing in February 2017. Flynn will be sentenced on January 28.
  99. On Tuesday, Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch appeared on “Fox & Friends” to discuss his new book. Ironically, Gorsuch discussed American’s lack of knowledge of basic civics on a show that frequently distorts the truth.
  100. Gorsuch, who is meant to be a nonpartisan judge, opened his appearance on a hyper-partisan show, saying “Merry Christmas,” drawing a back and forth between Senators over the appropriateness of his statement.
  101. On Tuesday, Politico reported the Department of Transportation Inspector General found that Kentucky’s largest transportation grant under Trump benefited from Sec. Elaine Chao’s team input.
  102. A $67.4 million application for Boone County, a suburban district key to McConnell’s re-election, was granted despite the application initially be flagged as incomplete, while 55 other incompletes fell out of the running.
  103. On Tuesday, Politico reported Trump intervened to slash Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico in a larger government spending deal unveiled this week. Trump has called the island “one of the most corrupt places on Earth”
  104. Bipartisan lawmakers on two key congressional committees had endorsed $12 billion for Puerto Rico over four years. Trump cut the allocation to $5.7 billion over two years.
  105. On Tuesday, NBC News reported William Taylor, who testified in the impeachment inquiry and who Trump called a “Never Trumper,” was recalled as acting ambassador to Ukraine as of January 1.
  106. On Tuesday, Sen. Robert Menendez, the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, excoriated Secretary of State Pompeo for “unceremoniously recalling” Taylor, a key impeachment witness.
  107. Menendez accused Pompeo in a letter of furthering Trump’s “inappropriate and unacceptable linking of U.S. policy to Ukraine to his personal and political benefit, and potentially your own.”
  108. On Wednesday, WSJ reported Taylor will hand over his duties days before Pompeo is set to visit Kyiv in January, so that Pompeo will avoid being photographed with him and raising Trump’s ire.
  109. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled Lev Parnas can remain free on bail, despite concealing a $1 million paymentfrom a Russian bank account, saying he did not believe Parnas was being intentionally untruthful.
  110. An attorney for Parnas told NBC News that the payment in September came from Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch linked to Paul Manafort, who also has been linked to Russian organized crime.
  111. On Tuesday, Rick Gates, Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, was sentenced to 45 days in jail and three years’ probation after federal prosecutors said he provided “extraordinary assistance.”
  112. The judge also fined Gates $20,000 although his lawyer said Gates is broke. Gates spent more than 500 hourswith prosecutors and lawyers, and testified in the trials of Manafort, Roger Stone, and Greg Craig.
  113. On Tuesday, in a public order, Rosemary Collyer, the presiding judge over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, gave the FBI a January 10 deadline to come up with a proposal to address the DOJ IG report.
  114. On Tuesday, BBC reported the Trump regime is rejecting the House and Senate vote on recognizing Armenian genocide, siding with Turkey. The State Department said the regime’s position “has not changed.”
  115. On Tuesday, WSJ reported Trump ally Peter Thiel, a board member of Facebook, is at the center of the company’s decision to allow political ads without fact-checking for content.
  116. On Wednesday, The Hill reported principal deputy undersecretary of Defense Kari Bingen, the number two intelligence official in DoD, resigned, the fourth senior Pentagon official to resign in recent weeks.
  117. In addition to the four vacancies, six of the 21 deputy assistant secretary of Defense policy jobs remain unfilled, and several are filled by acting officials, including chief management officer and comptroller.
  118. Later Wednesday, The Hill reported Ambassador Tina Kaidanow, a longtime State Department official, resigned, becoming the fifth senior Pentagon official. Kaidanow started her position in September 2018.
  119. On Wednesday, CNN reported results in the annual “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” showed morale in the Secretary Pompeo’s office dropped substantially in 2019, declining nine points from the prior year.
  120. Staffers in Pompeo’s office rated it poorly for effective leadership, teamwork, work-life balance, and pay, placing it at the bottom rank for agencies. The State Department overall improved by 0.6 points.
  121. On Wednesday, Roll Call reported the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will review whether Donald Jr. illegally killed a rare sheep during an August trip to Mongolia, following a letter from the Center for Biological Diversity.
  122. On Wednesday, a New York judge threw out state fraud charges against Paul Manafort, dealing a setback to the Manhattan DA’s effort to make sure Manafort would still face charges if Trump pardons him for federal crimes.
  123. Manafort’s attorney argued the state charges covered conduct that he had already been charged for. Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. said he would appeal the ruling.
  124. On Wednesday, a federal appeals court struck down a central provision in the Affordable Care Act, saying requiring people to have health insurance is unconstitutional, and will send the case back to the Texas court.
  125. On Friday, a federal judge agreed to delay sentencing for Roger Stone by two weeks to February 20, because of a slowdown in compiling financial paperwork required by federal probation officials.
  126. On Tuesday, on the eve of impeachment, Trump sent House Speaker Pelosi a scathing six-page letter, which read like a string of his tweets, calling impeachment a “partisan impeachment crusade” and an “attempted coup.”
  127. In his rambling letter, Trump said he was expressing his “strongest and most powerful protest,” saying, “this impeachment represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power” by Democrats.
  128. Trump also accused Pelosi of “breaking your allegiance to the Constitution” and “declaring open war on American Democracy” in pursuit of “this election-nullification scheme.”
  129. Trump said, “You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!” and, “You are the ones bringing pain and suffering to our Republic for your own selfish personal, political, and partisan gain.”
  130. Trump also cited lies and conspiracy theories, about his “perfect” calls, referring to the Steele dossier “as illegally purchased from a foreign spy by Hillary Clinton” and “the use of spies against my campaign.”
  131. Trump also repeated a refrain used by Sen. Lindsey Graham, saying, “More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials,” and that “history will judge you harshly” for the “impeachment charade.”
  132. CNN fact-checked Trump’s letter, and found it included numerous false claims and conspiracy theories that have been debunked, as well as new claims that were false, misleading, or lacked content.
  133. Later Tuesday, when asked about Trump’s letter, Pelosi told a reporter, “It’s ridiculous,” adding, “We’ve been working…I’ve seen the essence of it, though, and it’s really sick.”
  134. Later Tuesday, NYT noted the letter, signed with a Sharpie, revealed how angry Trump has become over becoming the third president in history to be impeached. Aides say he wanted to get some things off his chest.
  135. While the White House tried to focus Trump on his accomplishments, the letter cast his record in the context of his victimhood, saying to Pelosi, “It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I!”
  136. White House counsel Pat Cipollone was not involved in drafting the letter. Other Trump aides helped, including Eric Ueland, director of Legislative Affairs, Stephen Miller, and Michael Williams, adviser to Mulvaney.
  137. On Tuesday, Chair Schiff said in a letter that Vice President Mike Pence’s unwillingness to declassify his September 18 call “raises profound questions about your knowledge” of Trump scheme to solicit Ukraine’s interference.
  138. Schiff said, “Your unwillingness to declassify the Supplemental Submission raises the serious question” about whether Pence is obstructing the House “not just to protect President Trump, but yourself as well.”
  139. On Tuesday, Daily Beast reported Russia’s state TV has celebrated foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to the White House. Rossiya 1 referred to Trump as an ‘agent’ in a segment, titled “Puppet Master and ‘Agent.’”
  140. The first deputy director general of Russia news agency ITAR-TASS said, “Sooner or later, the Democrats will come back into power,” and joked about offering Trump asylum in Russia.
  141. On Wednesday, a new poll by Gallup found Trump’s approval inched up to 45% in December, his third monthly increase, while 51% disapprove (net -6). In November, Trump’s approval was 43%, 54% disapprove (-11).
  142. Gallup also found support for impeachment dropped. Support for impeach and remove was 46%, 51% against, down from 50% support, 48% against in November.
  143. On Wednesday, a new poll by Economist/YouGov found 50% of registered voters were for impeach and remove, 43% were against it.
  144. On Wednesday, the day of his impeachment, Trump tweeted to his followers, “Say a PRAYER!” adding he will be impeached “by the Radical Left,” and, “AND I DID NOTHING WRONG! A terrible Thing.”
  145. Trump also quoted “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade tweeting, “My hope is that impeachment will never become this trivial again,” and adding, “Well said Brian!”
  146. Trump also quoted Rep. Doug Collins on “Fox & Friends,” tweeting, “They just wanted to get at the President. They had no intention of having a proper investigation,” adding, “They couldn’t find any crimes.”
  147. Trump also quoted Collins, tweeting, “It’s sad. Here’s a gentleman who came to the White House and all they had was [sic] never to let him have an easy breath,” adding, “All they wanted to do is impeach him.”
  148. Trump also tweeted Pelosi “will go down in history as the worst Speaker,” quoting a tweeted by Fox News’ Gregg Jarrett about Pelosi saying she did not read Trump’s letter, and adding, “Already thrown out once!”
  149. Just after Noon, Trump tweeted, “SUCH ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT, DO NOTHING DEMOCRATS. THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!”
  150. On Wednesday, Pelosi opened the final House debate on impeachment, calling on members to stand up to “lawlessness and tyranny,” and saying, “If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty.”
  151. Pelosi said, “he gave us no choice,” adding, “For centuries, Americans have fought and died to defend democracy for the people,” and “our founders’ vision of a republic is under threat from actions from the White House.”
  152. Pelosi said Trump “is an ongoing threat to our national security and the integrity of our elections,” adding when history is written, I want to show them I was among the House “who stood up to lawlessness and tyranny.”
  153. Rep. Doug Collins rebutted, “There’s no bribery, no extortion, no wire fraud, no obstruction of justice anywhere in these articles.” The vote was expected to take place at 7 p.m. that night.
  154. Democrats characterized impeachment as urgent, with Chair Schiff saying, “The president and his men plot on,” adding, “The danger persists. The risk is real. Our democracy is at peril.”
  155. House Republicans compared impeachment to Jesus’s crucifixion, with Rep. Barry Loudermilk saying, “Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers,” and Rep. Mike Kelly compared it to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
  156. Rep. John Lewis said, “When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something, to do something,” adding our children and grandchildren will ask what we did and said.
  157. Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz said, “Those who vote ‘yes’ on today’s articles of impeachment must carry the heavy burden of shame and guilt for as long as they serve in Congress — which won’t be long.”
  158. Ally Rep. Devin Nunes said, “The Ukraine hoax was based on a supposed whistleblower who colluded beforehand with the Democrats,” and, “It’s not easy to make a coup attempt boring, but the Democrats found a way.
  159. Rep. Ayanna Pressley said, “What we are doing here today is not only patriotic, it is uniquely American. America is a story of ordinary people confronting abuses of power with a steadfast pursuit of justice.”
  160. During the debate, WAPO reported some House Democrats pushed Pelosi to withhold impeachment articleswhile continuing to gather evidence, citing concerns of whether there would be a fair trial in the Senate.
  161. Notable during the debate was the lack of Republican diversity: of the 197 House members, 90% were white and 92% were men. For House Democrats, of the 233, just 50% were white and 60% were men.
  162. On Wednesday, Pence said in an interview with ABC News that “we may” release the call transcript, adding, “But the fact that after his sham investigation is over, Adam Schiff is now asking for more information.”
  163. As the House debate continued, Pence called what was happening a “disgrace.” When asked if Trump’s callwas “perfect,” Pence responded, “I think the president did nothing wrong.”
  164. On Wednesday, CNN reported Trump is hoping to move quickly to and through a Senate trial, asking Sen. Graham of Democrats, “What are they doing?” on withholding articles. Graham said, “I don’t know.”
  165. Late Wednesday, after over 11 hours of fiery debate, the House voted to impeach Trump on two articles. Trump is the first president to face a possible Senate impeachment trial in the year of his re-election.
  166. Hours before the vote, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found Americans split on impeachment, with 48% for impeachment and removal, and 48% against it, down slightly from 49%/46% in late October.
  167. The House first voted on the article charging abuse of power at 8:30 p.m. which was approved 230 to 197, then for the article of obstruction of Congress which passed 229 to 198.
  168. After the vote, Pelosi warned her members not to celebrate — no applause, no cheers — by raising one hand and giving a stern look, while banging the gavel with the other.
  169. Every Republican voted against both articles. Two Democrats voted against both articles, including Van Drew. Rep. Jared Golden voted yes only to abuse of power. Rep. Justin Amash voted for both articles.
  170. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic candidate for president in 2020, was the sole House member to vote ‘present,’ saying she “could not in good conscience vote against impeachment” or for a “partisan process.”
  171. On Wednesday evening, after the impeachment vote, Pelosi threatened to delay the Senate impeachment trial, citing concerns about an unfair trial, telling reporters, “So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us.”
  172. As the impeachment vote was taking place, Trump held a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan. Some television networks showed a split-screen or cut back and forth while the two articles were voted on.
  173. Although the White House had tried to portray an image of Trump in high spirits, during the two-hour meandering speech, Trump was red-faced, sweat beading on his upper lip, and slurred his words at times.
  174. Trump told supporters as he started, “By the way, it doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached,” adding, “We did nothing wrong…and we have tremendous support in the Republican Party like we’ve never had before.”
  175. Trump added, “After three years of sinister witch hunts, hoaxes, scams,” Democrats are “trying to nullify the ballots of tens of millions of patriotic Americans,” calling it “a suicide march for the Democratic Party.”
  176. Trump was mostly mean and petty. He mused that Bill Clinton called his wife, Hillary, “Crooked” and mimicked him telling her to visit swing states in 2016, “You horrible human being, you better start listening to me.”
  177. As he had done at a rally two weeks ago when a woman protested at his rally, Trump paused to single her out to his supporters, calling her a “slob” and “disgusting person,” saying police were too gentle in escorting her out.
  178. Trump invoked his son Barron, who in Week 160 First Lady Melania and other Republicans complained was off limits, saying if Barron did a rally in Manhattan he could get more attendees than “Crazy Pocahontas.”
  179. Trump attacked Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY) for voting for impeachment, calling her “a longtime nothing much” and saying she should return his donations, and said of Schumer (NY), “He used to kiss my ass.”
  180. Trump again disparaged Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan, calling her a “real beauty” for voting for impeachment, and noting he gave her family “an “A-plus” memorial” after the death of her husband.
  181. Trump added her deceased husband, Rep. John Dingell, must be “thrilled” looking down from heaven, then mused “maybe he’s looking up.” Trump’s comment drew moans from the Michigan crowd.
  182. Trump also yelled about light bulbs, saying “So we’re bringing back the old light bulb. It sounds like a little, but it’s big stuff,” and mused about toilets, but said if he said the word out loud the press would have a field day.
  183. Shortly after, Dingell tweeted to Trump, “I’m preparing for the first holiday season without the man I love. You brought me down in a way you can never imagine and your hurtful words just made my healing much harder.”
  184. Several Republicans called on Trump to apologize to Dingell, including two members of the House from Michigan and Graham. Meghan McCain, daughter of John who Trump also insulted, called his comment “horrific.”
  185. On Wednesday, WAPO reported that unlike Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton when they faced impeachment, Trump shows no remorse, rather slamming his opponents and urged his supporters to wage battle.
  186. Also unlike Nixon and Clinton, both sides are dug in and the process has not moved their positions. There is a high level of rhetoric and anger. Trump’s constant misdeeds have taken away the power of shock.
  187. During Nixon and Clinton’s impeachments Americans were glued to their TVs, but Trump has managed to distract. A WAPO-ABC poll found that 62% were closely watching Trump’s impeachment, versus 82% for Clinton.
  188. On Thursday, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham defended Trump’s comments about Dingell on “Good Morning America,” saying he “is a counter-puncher,” adding, “He was just riffing.”
  189. On Thursday, 20 Republicans lined up on the House floor to offer Dingell their support, including Conference Chair Liz Cheney. Others apologized, but Dingell said they had no reason to since they did not say the words.
  190. On Thursday, in an emotional interview with CNN, Rep. Dingell said Trump’s claim about granting funeral accommodations were not even true, adding, “My family’s still hurting. … We’re a family grieving.”
  191. On Thursday, Trump sent a flurry of early morning tweets, saying “100% Republican Vote. That’s what people are talking about. The Republicans are united like never before!” and, “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”
  192. Trump also lashed out at a possible delay, tweeting, ““The Senate shall set the time and place of the trial.” If the Do Nothing Democrats decide, in their great wisdom, not to show up, they would lose by Default!”
  193. Trump also tweeted he got impeached “without one Republican vote” in “the greatest Witch Hunt in American history,” saying, “Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them.”
  194. On Thursday, a Trump campaign Twitter account, and accounts of other Trump allies, tweeted a video of House Majority Whip James Clyburn on CNN, claiming he called for Trump to be hanged. This was untrue.
  195. On Thursday, Democratic Senators tweeted photos of a stack of over 200 House-passed bills, 90% of bipartisan, which were “dead on Mitch McConnell’s desk,” saying McConnell, not impeachment, held up progress.
  196. On Thursday, McConnell blasted the House impeachment effort on the Senate floor in a 30 minute speech, calling it “the most rushed, least thorough, and most unfair” in modern history.”
  197. McConnell attacked Pelosi for being noncommittal on transmitting the articles of impeachment: “Pelosi suggested that House Democrats may be too afraid to even transmit their shoddy work product to the Senate.”
  198. Schumer spoke next, saying, “Can none of the President’s men come defend him under oath?” addressing his GOP colleagues, saying, “Democrats want a fair trial that examines the relevant facts.”
  199. Schumer added, “We want a fair trial. The message from Leader McConnell, at the moment, is that he has no intention of conducting a fair trial, no intention of acting impartially, no intention of getting the facts.”
  200. On Thursday, at her weekly news conference, Pelosi told reporters she is waiting on naming impeachment managers, saying, “The next thing for us will be when we see the process that is set forth in the Senate.”
  201. Pelosi added there needs to be a “fair process” before she sends the article of impeachment to the Senate, adding, “we’re ready.” Schumer and Pelosi met in the morning, and he told reporters, “We’re on the same page.”
  202. When asked what how she would respond to Republican criticism for holding on to the articles, Pelosi told reporters, “Frankly I don’t care, what [Republicans] have to say.”
  203. Pelosi also chided McConnell, saying our founders suspected “there could be a rogue president,” adding, “I don’t think they suspected that we could have a rogue president, and a rogue leader in the Senate at the same time.”
  204. Shortly after, deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told Fox News that the White House is continuing to work with McConnell “to figure out the best way to move forward” on the impeachment trial.
  205. Shortly after, McConnell and Schumer held their first face-to-face meeting in a room off the Senate floor for 20 minutes to discuss the impeachment trial, but failed to produce any tangible results.
  206. After, McConnell told reporters, “We remain at an impasse,” and said the Senate would return to session on January 3. Senators and aides were pessimistic on an agreement given the two’s frosty relationship.
  207. Later, Trump tweeted, “Pelosi feels her phony impeachment HOAX is so pathetic she is afraid to present it to the Senate,” calling it a “SCAM,” and saying, “The Do Nothings are so bad for our Country!”
  208. On Thursday, WAPO reported Trump now bears the indelible mark of impeachment, perhaps his first time being held accountable despite the myriad of offenses committed during his time in office.
  209. On Thursday, Rep. Van Drew sat alongside Trump in the Oval Office to announce he was changing party affiliation and pledging his “undying support” to Trump.
  210. Trump told reporters, “I don’t feel like I’m being impeached because it’s a hoax, it’s a setup.” When asked how he feels about being impeached, he said, “It’s a horrible thing they did.”
  211. On Thursday, Rep. Mark Meadows, the ranking member of the Oversight Committee, became the 24th House Republican to retire in 2020. An ally of Trump, Meadows said he is open to a position in the regime.
  212. On Thursday, Putin defended Trump at his annual news conference in Moscow, saying he was impeached for “made-up reasons,” calling it “an internal political struggle, with the party that lost the election.”
  213. On Thursday, in an op-ed, Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman, who testified in the House Judiciary hearings, argued impeachment happens only when the House transmits the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
  214. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported Trump’s lawyers may argue that Trump was not impeached because Pelosi did not transmit the articles, saying the Senate would already have jurisdiction if Trump was impeached.
  215. On Thursday, Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe said he disagreed with Feldman, saying, “under Art. I, Sec. 2, Clause 5, he was impeached on Dec 18, 2019. He will forever remain impeached. Period.”
  216. On Friday, Director of Legislative Affairs Eric Ueland told CBS News that Trump “is completely baffled at the theory” Pelosi is holding back impeachment articles to “leverage some sort of specific behavior out of the Senate.”
  217. Ueland and white house counsel Pat Cipollone toured the Senate floor, which would serve as a courtroom, and checked out support spaces. They were also introduced to people who are there when the Senate is in session.
  218. On Thursday, WAPO reported that White House officials feared Putin influenced Trump’s view on Ukraine and 2016 election, and that his resistance to believing U.S. intelligence comes from this connection.
  219. Trump first heard the theory from Paul Manafort who suggested Ukraine may have hacked the DNC in the summer of 2016, not Russia. Gates said Manafort “parroted a narrative” advanced by Konstantin Kilimnik.
  220. When Trump took office, he believed Ukraine tried to stop him from winning in 2016. When he privately met Putin in July 2017 at the G20 summit Trump become more insistent that Ukraine worked to defeat him.
  221. Senior officials said chief of staff John Kelly, national security adviser H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson all tried to caution Trump not to rely on Putin’s word. Trump spent hours with Putin at the G20.
  222. After the G20, Kelly also had Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, and deputy Sue Gordon brief Trump that Russia interfered, not Ukraine.
  223. Trump did not believe U.S. intelligence. One former senior White House official claimed Trump said “Putin told me.” Allegations about Ukraine have also been promoted by fringe right-wing journalists and Giuliani.
  224. Starting in April 2017, Trump started pushing a false narrative that CrowdStrike, a computer security company the DNC hired to investigate the breach, was based in Ukraine. He pushed this on his July 25 call.
  225. Although senior U.S. officials, including the director of the FBI say there is no evidence, top GOP lawmaker who are defending Trump in the impeachment probe have also called for investigations of Ukraine.
  226. On Thursday, NYT reported prosecutor John Durham is scrutinizing former CIA director John Brennan’s rolein how the intelligence accessed Russian interference, and has requested Brennan’s emails and call logs.
  227. Durham said he is looking into what Brennan told officials, including former FBI director James Comey about his and the CIA’s view on the Steele dossier, and to see how it compares to his public 2017 testimony.
  228. Durham has also been examining any internal debate within the CIA on whether Putin ordered Russian interference, a question of interest to Attorney General Barr. A CIA informant within the Kremlin was a key source for the finding.
  229. Durham’s pursuit of Brennan again raises concerns that Trump is using the DOJ to go after his enemies. Trump has frequently publicly attacked Brennan for being part of the Obama era “deep state” targeting him.
  230. On Friday, 11 members of Congress sent a letter to Attorney General Barr, demanding he and Durham resign, saying Barr pushed “conspiracy theories,” and Durham’s work is “nothing but a sham.”
  231. The letter cited the two “inappropriately interfered in independent Department of Justice investigations and intentionally used your positions to mislead the American public in defense of President Donald J. Trump.”
  232. On Friday, in the first post-impeachment poll, Morning Consult found 51% of registered voters support impeachment and removal, 42% are against it.
  233. The poll also found most voters want more witnesses in Trump’s impeachment: 54% say the Senate should call witnesses in the trial, 27% say they should not, and 19% are undecided.
  234. On Wednesday, the Mormon Women for Ethical Government, in a statement, called on “our co-religionists” Sens. Mike Lee, Mitt Romney, Mike Crapo, and Tom Udall “to honor their oaths of office.”
  235. The statement said, “Any president or leader who forces political support and fails to honor and protect the free and legitimate elections on which our republic rests has lost the moral right to govern.”
  236. On Friday, in a scathing op-ed in magazine Christianity Today, editor in chief Mark Galli argued Trump should be removed from office. CT is a mainstream evangelical magazine founded in 1956 by Billy Graham.
  237. CT noted Trump “attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents,” calling it “a violation of the Constitution” and “profoundly immoral.”
  238. CT said Trump “dumbed down the idea of morality” in the regime, “hired and fired” people who are convicted criminals, and “admitted to immoral actions” in business and with women, “about which he remains proud.”
  239. CT added, “His Twitter feed alone — with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders — is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”
  240. CT said Trump has a “grossly immoral character” and should be removed, “not a matter of partisan loyaltiesbut loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.”
  241. CT added the impeachment hearings have “illuminated” Trump’s “moral deficiencies,” saying, “This damages the institution of the presidency…the reputation of our country…and the spirit and the future of our people.”
  242. CT closed saying, “we have reserved judgment on Mr. Trump for years,” but Trump’s actions will “crash down on the reputation of evangelical religion and on the world’s understanding of the gospel”…and “down on a nation.”
  243. On Friday, Trump blasted CT in a series of tweets, calling it “a far left magazine, or very “progressive,”” adding it “has been doing poorly and hasn’t been involved with the Billy Graham family for many years.”
  244. Trump also tweeted CT “knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript,” and would rather “have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President.”
  245. Trump also tweeted, “No President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close,” adding, “I won’t be reading ET again” — seeming to make a reference to Entertainment Tonight (ET), not Christianity Today.
  246. Hours later, Trump tweeted, “I guess the magazine, “Christianity Today,” is looking for Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders,” adding, “no President has ever done what I have done for Evangelicals, or religion itself!”
  247. Trump also tweeted a Breitbart article about Billy Graham’s son Franklin saying, “Christianity Today has moved to the left and is representing the elitist liberal wing of evangelicalism.” Trump thanked Franklin.
  248. On Friday, WAPO reported that behind Trump’s anger is a fear of losing evangelical support, who were key for him in battleground states in 2016. Recent polls show 75% of white evangelicals support him.
  249. White House officials were concerned Trump was bringing too much attention to the op-ed. Trump also put pressure on staffers to take action to counter the op-ed, like announcing an event already in the works.
  250. Later, editor Galli told MSNBC that CT is “not a far-left magazine,” and is often accused of being “too conservative,” adding it is “very rare” for CT to comment on politics “unless the moral stakes are raised very high.”
  251. Galli also said, “I don’t have any illusions” that his op-ed is “going to change many minds,” and said Trump’s immorality was a balance to Trump’s policy decisions, likening him to a wife abuser who also has good qualities.
  252. On Friday, former GOP Senator Jeff Flake said in an op-ed that Trump is on trial and “So are my Senate Republican colleagues,” saying it would be “indefensible” to echo House GOP and say Trump did nothing wrong.
  253. Flake said Trump had not changed or grown in office, saying, “If there ever was a time to put country over party, it is now. And by putting country over party, you might just save the Grand Old Party before it’s too late.”
  254. On Friday, Trump asked his supporters to donate to Van Drew, tweeting, “the Democrat Party’s Witch Hunt and CRAZY EXTREME policies are chasing common sense people,” adding, he “has my FULL Endorsement.”
  255. On Friday, Pelosi formally invited Trump to deliver his annual state of the union on February 4, and Trump accepted the invitation. The speech will take place during or just after the Senate impeachment trial.
  256. On Friday, Pelosi told AP that Trump “just got impeached,” adding, “He’ll be impeached forever. No matter what the Senate does. He’s impeached for ever because he violated our constitution.”
  257. Later Friday, Trump tweeted, “Nancy Pelosi is looking for a Quid Pro Quo with the Senate. Why aren’t we Impeaching her?” Members of Congress cannot be impeached.
  258. Trump also touted Putin speaking out against his impeachment, quoting a 36-hour-old AP tweet of a story about Putin defending him, and adding, “A total Witch Hunt!
  259. On Thursday, HuffPost reported Senate Republicans quietly removed the phrase “white nationalist” from a measure in the National Defense Authorization Act meant to address white nationalists in the military.
  260. The House amendment was drafted in July to specifically address the issue. The final bill only requires the DoD to monitor for “extremist and gang-related activity,” without referencing white nationalism.
  261. On Friday, West Point said the hand gestures made by cadets and midshipmen at last week’s Army-Navy football game were part of a game known as the “circle game” and not a white supremacist symbol.
  262. The superintendent of the US Military Academy said, “We investigated this matter thoroughly,” adding last Saturday they thought it was an innocent game, and “We are disappointed by the immature behavior of the cadets.”
  263. On Friday, WAPO reported the Trump regime threatened a presidential veto of a spending package if House Democrats did not remove language requiring prompt release of future military aid for Ukraine.
  264. The provision would have required the White House to swiftly release $250 million in military aid for Ukraine. The provision was removed and Trump signed the $1.4 trillion package last Friday night.
  265. On Friday, in a podcast interview with Michael Moore, Robert De Niro said Trump “needs to be confronted,” and “needs to be humiliated,” adding, “There has not been one thing about this person that has been redeeming.”
  266. On Friday, Facebook said it had removed hundreds of accounts with ties to Epoch Media Group, finding the group used fake accounts generated with artificial intelligence to spread disinformation in the U.S. and Vietnam.
  267. Content removed included 610 Facebook accounts, 89 Facebook Pages, 156 Groups, and 72 Instagram account, and sparked concern that AI could be used to create wide-scale disinformation campaigns.
  268. On Friday, the Trump regime delayed the scheduled Jan. 1 phase out of incandescent light bulbs, a bipartisan effort started in 2007 to save $14 billion in energy cost and reduce carbon emissions by 38 tons.
  269. Trump’s Energy Department made a final determination Friday claiming that imposing stricter energyefficiency standards “are not economically justified,” and the decision would “protect consumer choice.”
  270. Late Friday, Trump left for a two-week vacation at Mar-a-Lago amid the impeachment probe. CNN reported aides are concerned Trump will mingle with informal advisors and friends who may influence him.
  271. There are also numerous remaining decisions to be made relating to strategy, the legal team, who will make opening and closing arguments, and arranging who will go on television afterward to amplify the message.
  272. Aides are also concerned that after Trump finally agreed with McConnell to a short trial without witnesses, friends at Mar-a-Lago could steer him back to his instincts for a longer trial with witnesses to vindicate himself.
  273. On Saturday, the Center for Public Integrity made public 146 pages of new Pentagon and OMB documents provided by the DOJ under a court order related to Trump-Ukraine. Again, substantive information was redacted.
  274. The documents revealed aid to Ukraine was put on hold at 11:04 a.m. on July 25, shortly after Trump’s call which ended at 9:33 a.m. via an email sent by Michael Duffey of OMB.
  275. Documents also revealed internal notes showing Trump gave a formal order blocking the Pentagon’s portion of the aid on July 12, which was communicated to OMB by one of his aides.
  276. On Saturday, NYT reported Trump has taken over the Republican Party by instilling fear. Any GOP lawmaker who speaks out against him publicly or privately will incur his wrath and be ostracized from the party.
  277. Republicans are left with the option of being fully loyal to Trump or retiring. Since Trump took office, a remarkable 40% of Republicans have retired or been defeated in elections.
  278. Trump rewards those who show loyalty with favorable tweets or by visiting their state. He has helped allies win primaries as well. Those seeking re-election know they need his support with the base to win.

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds hands with Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., as they walk to the chamber where the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives begins a day of debate on the impeachments charges against Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 161: “the reason the Constitution provided for impeachment was to anticipate a situation like the one that is before you today.”

DECEMBER 07, 2019

Week 160

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. *FROM ACTIVIST AMY SISKINDhttps://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-160/ 
EJ8i5IYUEAI7SFG
“His reign will soon be over. Woe to the loyal subjects of this counterfeit king.” – Jim Carrey                                                                                                                                                        21nov19

This week, Trump traveled to London for the NATO summit as impeachment hearings got underway in the House Judiciary Committee, and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee issued a scathing 300-page report. While Trump sought to display strength abroad, and used the summit as an excuse not to participate in impeachment hearings, a video at a Buckingham Palace reception surfaced Tuesday night showing world leaders openly mocking and laughing at him. He abruptly left early Wednesday, seething and returning in disgrace as the constitutional scholars testified in House impeachment hearings. Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman said, “the reason the Constitution provided for impeachment was to anticipate a situation like the one that is before you today.”

IMG_0419

NYC. November 2019

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NYC. November 2019.

On Thursday, shortly after Trump tweeted “if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in somber tones and invoking the Founders and Constitution, that the House would begin drafting articles of impeachment. Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani traveled back to Budapest and Kyiv, seeking dirt on the Bidens, meeting with Ukrainian officials, including one with ties to Russia.

This week Trump continued his feud with the so-called deep state, now growing to include the military — while his remaining conspiracy theories were set to be debunked in a report by the Justice Department Inspector General, in consultation with Attorney General William Barr’s handpicked prosecutor, John Durham.

  1. For 2019, Dictionary.com chose the word ‘existential’ as the word of the year, saying “the choice reflects months of high-stakes threats and crises, real and pondered, across the news, the world and throughout 2019.”
  2. On Saturday, NYT reported Trump’s intervention in the SEALs case has pitted him against military commanders who are committed to enforcing longstanding rules of combat, while Trump has never served.
  3. A former sniper who served in Chief Edward Gallagher’s platoon said Trump’s actions have “turned into a national clown show,” adding Trump is “saying he doesn’t trust any of the troops or their leaders.”
  4. Gallagher’s lawyer, Marc Mukasey, also represented Trump, but claimed he did not discuss the case with him. Also Bernard Kerik, New York police commissioner under Rudy Giuliani, spoke out for Gallagher on Fox News.
  5. Active-duty and retired officers say Trump’s intervention emboldens war criminals and erodes military order. Trump has also feuded with the intelligence community, law enforcement agencies, and diplomatic corps.
  6. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “The Democrats are holding the most ridiculous Impeachment hearings in history,” adding, “Read the Transcripts, NOTHING was done or said wrong!”
  7. Uncharacteristically, it was his only tweet on Saturday related to impeachment. On Sunday, Trump also did not tweet about impeachment until shortly before midnight. He golfed both days near Mar-a-Lago.
  8. On Saturday, Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, asked Chair Jerrold Nadler to expand the list of impeachment witnesses beyond the four constitutional law scholars.
  9. Collins cited in his letter the request was “to ensure fairness and restore integrity to the ongoing impeachment process,” but did not clarify whom Republicans wanted to call to testify.
  10. On Saturday, Politico reported the House Intelligence Committee will begin circulating a draft of the Trump-Ukraine report on Monday. Lawmakers had a 24 hour review period before voting.
  11. On Sunday, Rep. Val Demings told “This Week” that Democrats hope Trump will participate in impeachment hearings, saying, “If he has not done anything wrong, we’re certainly anxious to hear his explanation.”
  12. On Sunday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone told Nadler in a letter that Trump would not participate in the first hearing scheduled for Wednesday, saying it does not provide Trump “with any semblance of a fair process.”
  13. WAPO reported there is conflict within the GOP over how much Trump and his defenders should engage in the hearings. Some say Trump could benefit from the due-process protections that Nadler has offered.
  14. Trump did not tweet about the decision during the day. Meanwhile, Republicans renewed attacks on the process, with Rep. Collins calling on Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff to testify, and complaining “we’re rushing this.”
  15. On Sunday, Sen. John Kennedy told “Meet the Press” that “both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election,” adding, “it’s been well documented in the Financial Times and Politico and The Economist,” and more.
  16. Host Chuck Todd asked Kennedy if he knew he was doing “exactly what the Russian operation is trying to get American politicians to do,” Kennedy responded “what harm would it do” for Trump to introduce evidence.
  17. On Monday, Kennedy doubled down, telling reporters he based his comments on “reporting in the Politico magazine, on reporting in the Financial Times, The Economist, the Washington Examiner.”
  18. Kennedy claimed that unlike other Senators, he had not been briefed by the intelligence community on the matter, and said Fiona Hill was “entitled to her opinion.”
  19. On Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham broke from Trump, Kennedy, and other Trump allies, telling reporters, “I’m 1,000% confident that the hack of the DNC was by Russian operatives, no one else.”
  20. On Sunday, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page broke her silence, telling the Daily Beast of Trump’s attacks, “It’s like being punched in the gut,” adding, “My heart drops to my stomach when I realize he has tweeted about me again.”
  21. Page said Trump reading texts between her and Peter Strzok at an October rally in Minnesota, and mocking her having an orgasm on stage, was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” on her speaking out publicly.
  22. Page said Trump had accused her of “treason by name” and was trying to “destroy my life,” adding, “It never goes away or stops, even when he’s not publicly attacking me,” saying she has struggled to lead a normal life.
  23. Page said DOJ spokesperson Sarah Flores had selectively released her texts to reporters, saying, “Those texts were selected for their political impact. They lack a lot of context. Many of them aren’t even about him or me.”
  24. Page said, of the DOJ under Trump, “It’s crushing to see the noble Justice Department, my Justice Department, the place I grew up in, feel like it’s abandoned its principles of truth and independence.”
  25. On Sunday, “60 Minutes” reported Google and YouTube took down more than 300 Trump video ads, mostly over the summer, for violating company policy. A “60 Minutes” review found lack of transparency on the violations.
  26. On Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the decision not to take down political ads with false information on “CBS This Morning,” saying people should “judge for themselves the character of politicians.”
  27. Co-host Gayle King asked Zuckerberg what was discussed in his meeting with Trump at the White House, which was not disclosed until reported by news outlets. He answered, “it was a private dinner and… private discussion.”
  28. On Tuesday, BuzzFeed reported four Google employees who were fired last month for trying to organize workers said they will file charges with the National Labor Relations Board and push for a federal investigation.
  29. On Monday, the November Institute for Supply Management report found manufacturing activity contractedfor the fourth straight month. Experts attributed the contraction to Trump’s trade wars.
  30. Trump blamed his appointee, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, tweeting: “Manufacturers are being held back by the strong Dollar, which is being propped up by the ridiculous policies of the Federal Reserve.”
  31. Trump added the Fed “has called interest rates and quantitative tightening wrong from the first days of Jay Powell,” adding, “The Fed should lower rates,” claiming, “manufacturing will SOAR!”
  32. On Tuesday, an analysis by the solar industry showed Trump’s tariffs on solar panels in 2018 have cost the industry more than 62,000 jobs and nearly $19 billion in new private sector investment.
  33. On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Jared Kushner will assume a bigger role in U.S.-China trade talks, as the two countries try to reach an initial agreement to avoid new U.S. tariffs on December 15.
  34. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin have been leading. Kushner already has a considerable portfolio including Middle East peace, Trump’s wall, opioid addiction, and problems at the VA.
  35. On Monday, the Trump regime lifted a mysterious hold on $105 million in aid to Lebanon approved by Congress, after reporting in Week 159. The money was held up by the Office of Management and Budget for months.
  36. Aid to Lebanon also had the backing from the State Department, Pentagon, and National Security Council officials. An official declined to provide a reason for the regime putting a hold on the aid, citing the “process.”
  37. On Monday, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with TIME that despite the ongoingimpeachment hearings, Ukraine still needs U.S. support to get back the territory seized by Russia in 2014.
  38. Zelensky denied he and Trump discussed withholding aid in the context of political favors, but pushed back on Trump’s claim of corruption and questioned the fairness of his decision to withhold aid.
  39. Zelensky said, “Look, I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo,” adding, “I don’t want us to look like beggars,” and “I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo.”
  40. When asked if he trusts Putin ahead of their December 9 summit, Zelensky said, “I don’t trust anyone at all,” and said of Trump, “We’re at war. If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us.”
  41. Shortly after, Trump tweeted that Zelensky, “just again announced that President Trump has done nothing wrong with respect to Ukraine,” adding, “If the Radical Left Democrats were sane…it would be case over!”
  42. Trump later told reporters before leaving for the NATO summit, Zelenksy “said very strongly that President Trump did absolutely nothing wrong. That should be case over.” The tweet and statement are misleading.
  43. On Monday, Rudy Giuliani threatened to sue Fox News host Steve Hilton for recommending Trump fire him, saying he “recklessly disregarded the truth,” and if not for him, Hilton “wouldn’t even be covering Burisma.”
  44. On Monday, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page lost an appeal, as a federal appeals court upheld a trial judge’s decision to throw out his defamation lawsuit against a pair of media outlets.
  45. On Monday, lawyers for Lev Parnas petitioned the federal court to release documents and recordings seized by federal prosecutors during Parnas’ arrest to the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry.
  46. Federal prosecutors described the materials seized from Parnas and his three co-defendants to be “voluminous,” and said, “We think a superseding indictment is likely” ahead of the trial, but did not specify the target.
  47. On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a delegation to the 2019 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, saying, “on behalf of the House of Representatives and the Congress of the United States, ‘we’re still in it.’”
  48. On Monday, the Trump campaign announced it would no longer allow Bloomberg News reporters to get credentials for events, citing the outlet would no longer do investigative journalism on Democratic 2020 candidates.
  49. Although Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale claimed it was to avoid bias, the 2016 Trump campaign revoked press credentials from journalists working for WAPO, Politico, and BuzzFeed News.
  50. On Monday, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson rejected the DOJ’s request to stay her order on Don McGahn’s testimony in Week 159, saying further delay “causes grave harm to both the Committee’s investigation.”
  51. However the DOJ has secured a January 3 hearing with an appeals court, and said it would keep on fighting if it loses its requests for a stay at the D.C. Circuit and petition the Supreme Court.
  52. On Monday, Fox News host Sean Hannity urged his listeners to call Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and tell him to go with Trump’s pick, Rep. Doug Collins, for the open Senate seat, not “centrist businesswoman” Kelly Loeffler.
  53. On Tuesday, Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz said Kemp would end his career by picking Loeffler, tweeting, “Kemp announces the funeral time & location for his political career.”
  54. On Wednesday, Kemp bucked Trump, announcing he would appoint Loeffler to fill Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat. Kemp said he hoped to strengthen the GOP’s appeal to women voters.
  55. On Monday, WAPO reported AG William Barr has told associates he disagrees with the DOJ IG findings in his report that the FBI had enough information in July 2016 to launch an investigation of the Trump campaign.
  56. Barr has not been swayed by IG Michael Horowitz’s rationale for the FBI having had a sufficient basis, possibly creating a fissure within the DOJ on the controversial issue ahead of the report’s release next week.
  57. It was not clear how Barr planned to make his disagreement known. Barr has privately said Horowitz did not have enough information to reach his conclusion, and agencies like the CIA hold information that could alter it.
  58. Part of Barr’s reluctance is related to John Durham’s investigation which is ongoing and Barr is involved with. It is not usual for an AG to disagree with an IG’s findings, but typically it is over the IG being too critical.
  59. On Monday, Roll Call reported a dozen House races have shifted towards Democrats in recent weeks, citingslow recruitment, self-inflicted wounds, and a shift in suburban voters towards Democrats.
  60. On Monday, CNN reported the IRS whistleblower declined to voluntarily appear for a transcribed Senate Finance Committee interview, after meeting in November with Republican and Democratic staffers.
  61. A source said the whistleblower was concerned about violating IRS code 6103, which says IRS employees can be fired, fined, or jailed for disclosing taxpayer information. It was unclear what lawmakers will do next.
  62. On Monday, North Dakota-based Fisher Sand and Gravel was awarded a $400 million contract by the Defense Department to build a portion of the border wall across an Arizona wildlife refuge.
  63. Trump had repeatedly pushed the Army Corps of Engineers to hire Fisher, but was told the company’s bid did not meet standards. Some officials have expressed concern with Trump getting involved in government contracts.
  64. Trump learned of Fisher through its CEO Tommy Fisher’s repeated appearances on Fox News where he promoted his firm and said it could do a better job than those chosen by the government.
  65. On Wednesday, House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson asked the Defense Department’s IG to investigate the contract to Fisher Sand and Gravel, which has a history of environmental and tax violations.
  66. Thompson said in his letter that a series of actions “raise concerns about the possibility of inappropriate influence” on the decision to award the firm a contract. The IG said it is reviewing the request.
  67. On Thursday, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) blocked the Armenian genocide resolution on the Senate floor at the request of the White House, saying it was not “the right time.” Fisher is a donor to Cramer.
  68. This marked the third time a Republican (also Sens. Graham and Ted Cruz) blocked the measure, opposed by Turkish government, at the request of the White House. It passed in the House 405-11.
  69. On Monday, in response to a FOIA request, the DOJ turned over a second set of summaries of FBI interviews, known as “302 reports” from the Mueller probe to BuzzFeed.
  70. The second batch included interviews with Michael Cohen, John Kelly, Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks, Rick Gates, Omarosa Manigault, Chris Christie, and Rod Rosenstein.
  71. Cohen said Trump knew about the negotiations for Trump Tower during the campaign, and that Trump family lawyer Jay Sekulow told him to make false statement to the House and Senate Intelligence committees.
  72. Gates said that Paul Manafort urged him not to take a plea deal, saying in October and November 2017 that the White House would protect them, and that they had two legal defense funds and would “take care of us.”
  73. Hicks said Trump was “angry, surprised, and frustrated” when Robert Mueller was appointed, and that when Jeff Sessions recused himself, the only time she had seen him “like that” was when the Access Hollywood tapes came out.
  74. Rosenstein said in May 2017 that Mueller had taken himself out of the running for FBI director position by time he met with Trump about the job. Trump had claimed Mueller applied and he turned him down.
  75. Rosenstein said he was “angry, ashamed, horrified and embarrassed” about the abrupt firing of James Comey, and how it was handled. He spoke to Mueller about becoming special counsel the next day.
  76. On Monday, former deputy DNI Susan Gordon told the Women’s Foreign Policy Group Trump’s most common response to intelligence briefings was not to believe what he was being told.
  77. Gordon also said it was difficult to figure out where Trump got information that shaped his opinion, saying he is probably “the first president that arrived with no framework,” and received input from “infinite people.”
  78. On Monday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson said, “I think we should probably take the side of Russia if we have to choose between Russia and Ukraine.” Carlson made similar remarks last week and said he was joking.
  79. On Thursday, Tucker Carlson said on his show that the House was trying to impeach Trump for holding up aid to Ukraine, adding, “Aid we shouldn’t be sending in the first place, in my view.”
  80. On Monday, Reuters reported Russia has set up a new online site for its national encyclopedia, after President Vladimir Putin called Wikipedia unreliable and said it should be replaced.
  81. On Saturday, the Columbus Dispatch reported a cyber attack on the Ohio Secretary of State’s office on Election Day originated in Panama and was traced back to a Russian-owned company.
  82. The Ohio Secretary of State said it was a “relatively unsophisticated” effort to insert malicious code and was thwarted, adding the cyberattack was looking for vulnerabilities in his office’s website.
  83. On Saturday, NBC News reported a new study by the Urban Institute found the three rule changes proposed by the Trump regime would cause millions of people to lose food stamps, known as SNAP.
  84. The study found 3.7 million fewer people would receive SNAP each month, 5.2 million households would seeaverage monthly benefits drop, and 982,000 students would lose access to free or reduced lunches.
  85. On Wednesday, the Trump regime formalized the first rule change, with the USDA mandating a work requirement for those who receive food stamps as of April 1. Nearly 700,000 were expected to lose food stamps.
  86. Agriculture Department Sec. Sonny Perdue told CNBC of the rule changes, “We’re trying to help these people get back into personal dignity of work and become part of the productive economy.”
  87. On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed Trump pick Sarah Pitlyk to the federal judiciary along party lines. Pitlyk, who opposes abortion, surrogacy, and fertility treatments, was rated “Not Qualified” by the American Bar Association.
  88. On Tuesday, a Texas judge temporarily blocked construction of a private wall along the U.S.-Mexico border by We Build the Wall, after the National Butterfly Center argued the new construction was “illegal.”
  89. On Tuesday, NYT and ProPublica reported newly uncovered documents reveal consulting company McKinsey was brought in by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help the regime carry out its immigration policy.
  90. McKinsey’s advice included cutting spending on migrants’ food, medical care, and supervision, and looked for ways to speed deportations to meet Trump’s goals. Their advice made some career ICE staffers uncomfortable.
  91. Some ICE workers even complained the firm’s cost-cutting proposals jeopardized the health and safety of migrants. McKinsey also advised to move detainees to less expensive, less safe facilities, like rural county jails.
  92. McKinsey did $20 million of consulting work, even ghostwriting the firm’s contract extension. The firm was deeply involved in executing policies to effectuate Trump’s immigration crackdown. The work ended July 2018.
  93. A week after the McKinsey partner announced their work with ICE was over given McKinsey employee and partner outrage, the firm signed a new $2 million contract to advise CBP, which could be worth $8.4 million.
  94. On Wednesday, WAPO reported on 48 undocumented staffers who worked illegally for Trump at 11 of his properties, performing manual labor for years or decades. They said when hired, managers knew of their status.
  95. They noted when Trump entered the presidential politics, and denounced illegal immigrants as criminals and job-stealers, it upended their lives, causing many to be fired or to walk away after media reports about them.
  96. On Thursday, ProPublica reported Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, 16, a Guatemalan migrant, died in Border Patrol care on May 19, after becoming seriously ill. He was held for 6 days, despite the 72 hour limit.
  97. Carlos was put in a small concrete holding cell in South Texas with another boy who was also sick, and who later alerted guards that Carlos was dead. He is the sixth child to die in care in government care in less than a year.
  98. On Wednesday, BBC reported more than 100 graves at a Jewish cemetery in France were defaced with swastikas and the number 14, which is linked to a white supremacist slogan.
  99. On Friday, WAPO reported West Virginia fired three state employees and suspended 34 more without pay after a photo surfaced showing a basic training class of correction officers giving a Nazi salute.
  100. On Tuesday, speaking to reporters at the NATO summit in London, Trump said French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments saying NATO is in a state of “brain death” were “very insulting” and “nasty.”
  101. Trump, while standing alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, also said Macron’s statement was “very disrespectful” and “very dangerous,” adding, “Nobody needs NATO more than France.”
  102. Trump also defended AG Barr, calling him “a great gentleman,” adding, “I do think the big report to wait for is going to be the Durham report…he’s highly respected. And we’re — and he’s worked very hard.”
  103. Trump also said of France imposing a digital services tax on U.S. technology companies, “I’m not going to let people take advantage of American companies,” and threatened to tax French companies in return.
  104. Trump called the impeachment inquiry “a hoax,” saying, “It’s done for purely political gain. They’re going to see whether or not they can do something in 2020, because otherwise they’re going to lose.”
  105. Trump also called impeachment a “witch hunt” and “very unpatriotic,” and said of censure being floated, “Now they want to go to censure because they have no case for impeachment, so they want to go to censure.”
  106. Later, in a news conference with Trump and Macron speaking on Syria and Turkey, Trump said, “Would you like some nice [IS] fighters? You can take everyone you want.” Macron scolded Trump, saying, “Let’s be serious.”
  107. Later, in a news conference with Canadian President Justin Trudeau, Trump called Chair Schiff a “maniac,” a“deranged human being,” and a “liar,” adding, “I think he’s a very sick man and he lies.”
  108. Trump continued, “This is a sick person. He’s a liar,” adding, “Pelosi knew he was lying and she went on the show, Stephanopoulos and said he told the truth. She was lying, too,” and, “These people are deranged.”
  109. When Pelosi was asked about impeachment while in Madrid Monday, she declined, citing her policy of not criticizing U.S. president while overseas, saying, “We’re here to talk positively about our agenda to save the planet.”
  110. Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not meet ahead of the British election on December 12, an admission Trump is unpopular in Britain and per the U.S. ambassador, “any intervention would be counterproductive.”
  111. Asked about the U.K. election, Trump changed the subject to talking about gubernatorial races in Kentucky and Louisiana, where Republicans lost, adding, but in the U.K., “They may not like me because I’m representing us.”
  112. Trump later attended a reception at Buckingham Palace, where Prince Andrew was absent after association with Jeffrey Epstein. Trump, who has been pictured with the prince, said, “I don’t know Prince Andrew.”
  113. On Tuesday, House Intelligence Committee Republicans released a 123-page minority report, claiming there is “no direct, firsthand evidence” to suggest Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
  114. The report claimed Trump did nothing wrong, including, “There is nothing inherently improper with Mayor Giuliani’s involvement,” and dismissed Trump’s behavior as “outside the beltway thinking.”
  115. Shortly after, House Intelligence Democrats released a 300-page impeachment report summarizing its two month probe, laying out in searing fashion what is likely to result in articles of impeachment next.
  116. The report cited Trump tried to “use the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 election” and “placed his own personal and political interests” above the national interests.
  117. The report cited Trump’s “misconduct was not an isolated occurrence,” noting Trump “was elected in 2016with the benefit of an unprecedented and sweeping campaign” by Russia which he “welcomed and utilized.”
  118. The report said his “scheme subverted U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security in favor of two politically motivated investigations that would help his presidential re-election campaign.”
  119. The report made more than 100 references to the Constitution, and cited, ‘The evidence of the President’s misconduct is overwhelming, and so too is the evidence of his obstruction of Congress.”
  120. The report also cited an “unprecedented campaign of obstruction of this impeachment inquiry” by Trump for blocking witnesses and document release from the State Department, Pentagon, and OMB.
  121. The report called it unprecedented, saying Trump is “the first and only President in American history to openly and indiscriminately defy all aspects of the Constitutional impeachment process.”
  122. The report said even Nixon, “who obstructed Congress by refusing to turn over key evidence- accepted the authority of Congress […] permitted his aides and advisors to produce documents and testify.”
  123. The report also called White House efforts to block the inquiry “an existential threat to the nation’s Constitutional system of checks and balances, separation of powers, and rule of law.”
  124. The report described a months-long campaign driven by Trump to bend foreign policy, which included Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting chief of staff and Director of the OMB Mick Mulvaney, Energy Sec. Rick Perry, and others.
  125.  The report said these senior officials were “either knowledgeable of or active participants in an effort to extract from a foreign nation the personal political benefits sought by the President.”
  126. The report raised doubt about whether the September 9 call referenced by Gordon Sondland and amplified by Trump actually occurred, saying it was “not backed up by any records the White House was willing to provide.”
  127. The report cited Trump “engaged in a brazen effort to publicly attack and intimidate witnesses,” saying it raises “grave concerns about potential violations of the federal obstruction statute and other criminal laws.”
  128. The report cited threats to the 2020 election to explain the rush: “Given the proximate threat of further presidential attempts to solicit foreign interference in our next election, we cannot wait to make a referral.’
  129. Chair Schiff told reporters there is a “grave risk to the country” if lawmakers wait until they have “every last fact” before proceeding, saying we are inviting “further corruption of our elections.”
  130. The report included call records showing House Intelligence ranking member Devin Nunes had numerous calls in April with Giuliani, Parnas, and John Solomon — around the time Marie Yovanovitch was fired.
  131. There were also 16 calls between Giuliani and Parnas in early April and 10 calls between Parnas and Solomon. There were also Giuliani and White House phone numbers, including one “associated with” the OMB.
  132. Records show on April 24, the day Yovanovitch was summoned to D.C. and told she lost Trump’s confidence, Giuliani called the White House seven times, and received a call from “-1” and spoke to that person for eight minutes.
  133. Giuliani spoke to Parnas and Solomon on the day Biden announced his candidacy. He received a call from “-1” then called Sean Hannity. Trump appeared on Hannity’s show that night and discussed Solomon’s story.
  134. Schiff said, “the phone records show that there was considerable coordination among the parties, including the White House,” calling it “deeply concerning” a lawmaker might be complicit with Trump’s efforts.
  135. Schiff also said Trump action’s towards Ukraine meet the Constitutional definition of bribery, saying, “This is certainly, I think, what the founders had in mind when they used that word in the Constitution.”
  136. Schiff also said the intelligence panel is investigating whether Trump is the “-1” referenced in the call logs as making frequent calls to Giuliani in the House report.
  137. Shortly after, a lawyer for Parnas told reporters, “With appropriate protections, Mr. Parnas would be able to tell this story and fill in all the blanks.” Parnas has asked for immunity which Congress is unlikely to give.
  138. Shortly after, Bob Cusack, editor in chief of The Hill, tweeted the newspaper “is conducting a meticulous review” of Solomon’s work. The report revealed Solomon spoke with Nunes, Giuliani, and Parnas.
  139. On Tuesday, Sen. Kamala Harris dropped her 2020 presidential bid. Trump tweeted, “Too bad. We will miss you Kamala!” Harris responded, “Don’t worry, Mr. President. I’ll see you at your trial.”
  140. On Tuesday, Nunes filed a defamation suit against CNN for a story on his travel to Vienna to meet with foreign officials on getting dirt of the Bidens, saying CNN is “the mother of fake news” and “must be held accountable.”
  141. On Tuesday, when asked by Fox News host Sean Hannity if he spoke to Parnas, Nunes said, “it’s possible, adding, “I don’t really recall,” and “it seems very unlikely that I would be taking calls from random people.”
  142. On Tuesday, Giuliani told NYT he had nothing to do with the decision to withhold aid to Ukraine, saying, “I never discussed military assistance. I am expert on so many things it could have been some very esoteric subject.”
  143. On Tuesday, the House passed a resolution 339-to-71 disapproving of any future attempts to include Russia in the Group of Seven summits, which Trump has repeatedly floated.
  144. On Wednesday, a video circulated of NATO leaders Trudeau, Macron, Johnson and others at a reception at the Buckingham Palace gossiping and mocking Trump’s freewheeling news conference earlier in the day.
  145. The video opened with Johnson asking Macron, “Is that why you were late?” Trudeau jumps in and responds, “He was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top.”
  146. Trudeau says shortly after, “I just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor.” Prior to the reception, Trump had a 38 minute press event with Macron, and prior for 53 minutes with Stoltenberg.
  147. On Wednesday morning, standing alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump called Trudeau “two-faced,” adding, “ he’s a nice guy,” but “I called him out” for not paying 2% and “I guess he’s not happy about it.”
  148. Trump, who has repeatedly demeaned domestic political rivals for being laughed at around the world, abruptly canceled a scheduled news conference, saying he had already answered too many questions, and left.
  149. Earlier in the week, Trump had blasted Democrats, saying, “Do Nothing Democrats purposely scheduled an Impeachment Hoax hearing on the same date as NATO. Not nice!” Now he was headed back to the U.S.
  150. On Wednesday, WAPO reported in a closed-door meeting of House Democrats, before the day’s hearing, Speaker Pelosi made clear to her caucus that impeachment is coming, possibly as soon as this month.
  151. Reportedly, Pelosi said, “Are you ready?” and, “We’re moving forward,” to which the caucus erupted with shouts of approval. Pelosi then turned the floor to Schiff who received a standing ovation.
  152. Pelosi then described “the gravity and somber nature of this moment,” and “a situation that the founders feared.” Vice President Pence held a similar meeting to rally House Republicans on Wednesday morning.
  153. On Wednesday, House Whip Steny Hoyer told reporters House Democrats would be considering congressional action against Nunes: “I think there are serious questions that have been raised by Mr. Nunes’ actions.”
  154. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee held its first impeachment hearing, featuring four constitutional lawyers — three picked by Democrats and one by Republicans.
  155. Chair Nadler opened by addressing why hearings must be held now, saying, “We are all aware that the next election is looming — but we cannot wait,” adding, “The integrity of that election is the very thing at stake.”
  156. Nadler also said Trump “has shown us his pattern of conduct. If we do not act to hold him in check now” he “will almost certainly try again to solicit interference in the election for his personal, political benefit.”
  157. The hearing was acrimonious with ranking member Doug Collins calling the impeachment probe a “partisan coup d’etat,” and Republicans forcing roll call votes of the 41 members three time in the first 90 minutes.
  158. The hearings lasted eight hours. A couple of hours into the hearings, Trump left London to fly back to Washington. During the hearings Trump actively retweeted House Republicans and other allies’ accounts.
  159. Four legal scholars testified: Professors Noah Feldman of Harvard Law, Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law, Michael Gerhardt of North Carolina Law, and Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law.
  160. Pam Karlan chastised Collins who accused her of not having read the report, saying she read all testimony and added, “I’m insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts.”
  161. Noah Feldman said, “the reason the Constitution provided for impeachment was to anticipate a situation like the one that is before you today.” He noted he was not for impeachment based on Mueller report.
  162. Feldman also testified, “If we cannot impeach a president who uses his power for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy, we live in a monarchy or a dictatorship.”
  163. Feldman noted, “The possibility that the president might get caught in the process of attempting to abuse his office and then not be able to pull it off does not undercut in any way the impeachability of the acts.”
  164. Karlan called Trump’s action “an abuse that cuts to the heart of democracy,” and “It’s your responsibility to make sure that all Americans get to vote in a free and fair election next November.”
  165. The third Democratic witness, North Carolina Law professor Michael Gerhardt said, “If what we’re talking about isn’t impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,” citing bribery and obstruction of justice in the report.
  166. The Republicans’ witness, Jonathan Turley, said impeaching Trump for going to the courts is an “abuse of power,” saying the facts presented by House Intelligence do not meet the necessary standard for impeachment.
  167. Turley said, “I am concerned about lowering impeachment standards to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger,” and said of charges of bribery, “close enough is not good enough.”
  168. Republicans used a comment by Karlan, “The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility. So while the President can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron,” to distract and fundraise. She later apologized.
  169. Nadler concluded by saying “all three parts” of his test for whether Trump should be impeached were met: he committed an impeachable act, that act was a “direct threat” to the Constitution, and some Trump supporter will be with them.
  170. Before Trump left NATO, he told reporters the hearing “is the most unfair thing that anybody’s ever seen.” Chair Nadler paused during questioning and noted the point where Trump’s lawyers could have participated.
  171. Asked about the House report, Trump said, “it’s a joke,” adding, “I watched the reviews….I watched Hannity, Sean Hannity, I watched Laura Ingram, I watched Tucker Carlson, I watched a lot of other legal scholars, frankly.”
  172. On Wednesday, Rep. Jim Banks wrote a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee chair Lindsey Graham, asking him to subpoena phone records of Schiff, Joe and Hunter Biden, and whistleblower attorney Mark Zaid.
  173. On Wednesday, Democrat Rep. Denny Heck said he would not seek re-election, citing he was “discouraged” by his Republican colleagues on impeachment, and “Civility is out. Compromise is out. All or nothing is in.”
  174. On Wednesday, WAPO reported John Durham, Barr’s handpicked prosecutor, said he could offer no evidence to the DOJ IG to support the right-wing conspiracy theory the Russia case was a U.S. intelligence setup.
  175. IG Horowitz contacted Durham and several U.S. intelligence agencies in compiling his report. Among the questions was whether Joseph Mifsud was an intelligence asset sent to ensnare Trump’s campaign.
  176. Horowitz’s report is set to come out Monday, and his interaction with Durham may dull expectations by Barr and Trump allies that Durham’s report will back various right-wing conspiracy theories.
  177. On Wednesday, NYT reported while House Democrats issued their report and held impeachment hearings, Giuliani traveled to Europe to interview Ukrainians to shift focus to wrongdoings by Trump’s political rivals.
  178. Giuliani met with former Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, in Budapest on Tuesday, and met withViktor Shokin and Kostiantyn Kulyk in Kyiv Wednesday. All have faced allegations of corruption.
  179. Giuliani is using the trip to tape a documentary for One America News (OAN) promoting his pro-Trump, anti-impeachment narrative. He hoped to gather new material to undercut the House and Senate impeachment.
  180. Andrii Telizhenko and Andrii Artemenko, former Ukrainian officials who support Trump, joined Giuliani and the OAN crew. The two, along with Mykhaylo Okhendovsky, recorded interviews with OAN last month.
  181. Giuliani’s visit to meet with the same Ukrainian characters in the impeachment probe has sparked concern at the State Department. An official called it “shocking” he is unbowed by issues he faces at home.
  182. Asked about the trip, Giuliani texted the Times: “If S.D.N.Y. leaks and Democrats’ threats stopped me, then I should find a new profession,” and “I am gathering evidence to defend my client against the false charges.”
  183. On Thursday, Giuliani tweeted that an investigation into Biden’s conduct has not been resolved, claiming,“Obama embassy urged Ukrainian police NOT to investigate!” adding, “Stay tuned to find out why.”
  184. On Thursday, Andriy Derkach, a former Ukrainian lawmaker who served as a member of a pro-Russia party and attended a KGB-affiliated high school in Moscow, posted a photo with Giuliani on his Facebook page.
  185. On Friday, former Ukrainian diplomat Telizhenko tweeted a photo with Giuliani, saying, “Thank you @RudyGiuliani for your work and what you do for @realDonaldTrump, because we are fighting for the #TRUTH!”
  186. Pelosi called Giuliani’s trip an indication of “the arrogance of it all.” Asked if Trump was backing Giuliani, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said, “That’s a question between Rudy and the president.”
  187. On Wednesday, CNN reported federal prosecutors, who are investigating Giuliani and his associates, have deepened their focus on Naftogaz and have interviewed its CEO, Andriy Kobolyev.
  188. Prosecutors have also interviewed U.S. embassy official Suriya Jayanti, a foreign service officer based in Kyiv, who handles Naftogaz issues at the embassy and communicates with the company’s management.
  189. Sec. Perry said he told Jayanti about Parnas and Fruman’s corrupt intent with Naftogaz to replace Kobolyev as CEO. Andrew Favorov also said he relayed his concerns about the two to her.
  190. Jayanti was also identified as among those who overheard the July 26 call between Sondland and Trump. She was listed to give a closed-door deposition in October, but the deposition never occurred.
  191. On Wednesday, WSJ reported Zelensky is withholding his support for a proposed parliamentary investigation into Burisma, citing wanting to avoid Ukraine getting more caught up in U.S. politics.
  192. On Wednesday, WSJ reported the Trump regime is considering sending an additional 14,000 troops to the Middle East, as well as ships and other military hardware, to counter Iran.
  193. The deployment would double the number of troops sent to the region since Trump started a buildup in May. There is growing concern by military leaders that an attack on U.S. interests could leave few options.
  194. The Pentagon denied WSJ reporting: press secretary Alyssa Farah tweeted, “The U.S. is not considering sending 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East.” The U.S. has no diplomatic process in place with Iran.
  195. On Thursday, Politico reported Pentagon’s policy chief acknowledged the reporting on the additional 14,000 troops, after trying to knock it down Wednesday, after Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he is considering it.
  196. On Tuesday, at the NATO summit, Trump said, “We’re by far the most powerful country in the world,” and he still had “a good relationship” with Kim Jong Un, but “He definitely likes sending rockets up, doesn’t he?”
  197. On Thursday, North Korea’s first vice foreign minister threatened if Trump stoked “the atmosphere of confrontation,” citing his reference to “Rocket Man,” the North would resume calling Trump bad names like “dotard.”
  198. On Saturday, North Korea’s U.N. envoy said denuclearization is off the negotiating table with the U.S., adding“sustained and substantial dialogue” sought by the United States was a “time-saving trick.”
  199. On Thursday, Trump tweeted, “The Do Nothing Democrats had a historically bad day yesterday in the House,” adding, “They have no Impeachment case,” and, “they have gone crazy.”
  200. Trump also tweeted, “Therefore I say, if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business.”
  201. Trump also threatened, “We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify, and will reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is. I was elected to “Clean the Swamp,” and that’s what I am doing!”
  202. An hour later, in a formal address at 9 a.m. that lasted less than six minutes, Speaker Pelosi announced the House of Representatives would begin drafting impeachment articles against Trump.
  203. Pelosi announced in a somber tone, frequently invoking the Constitution and the founders, it had become clear from the two month investigation that Trump violated his oath by seeking foreign help for 2020 election.
  204. Pelosi stood in front of American flags, and said, “Our democracy is what is at stake. The president leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit.”
  205. Pelosi said, “This isn’t about Ukraine; this is about Russia,” adding, “So sometimes people say, ‘Well, I don’t know about Ukraine, I don’t know that much about Ukraine.’”
  206. Pelosi added that it was Russia “who benefited by our withholding of that military assistance” to Ukraine, adding, “our adversary is Russia,” and repeating the phrase, “All roads lead to Putin.”
  207. Pelosi added, “Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment.”
  208. In instructing “chairmen,” Pelosi directed the chairs of the six House committees, meaning the articles could be broader than just Trump-Ukraine, as other investigations continue.
  209. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “Radical Left Democrats have just announced that they are going to seek to Impeach me over NOTHING,” and, “they hang their hats on two totally appropriate (perfect) phone calls.”
  210. Trump also tweeted now the “act of Impeachment will be used routinely to attack future Presidents. That is not what our Founders had in mind,” adding, “the Republicans have NEVER been more united. We will win!”
  211. Shortly after, at her weekly news conference, Pelosi said she was sorry Trump “made this necessary,” but “If we do not act on this, the message to any future president would be, ‘You can do whatever you want.’”
  212. When asked if she was concerned about a backlash, Pelosi said, “This has absolutely nothing to do with politics…Democrats and Republicans…It’s about the Constitution of the United States…So no, I’m not concerned.”
  213. Referencing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, she said, “The Grim Reaper says all we’re doing is impeachment… We have 275 bipartisan bills on your desk,” and called McConnell the “rogue Senate leader.”
  214. As Pelosi was leaving, a reporter from Sinclair asked if she hated Trump, invoking a comment by Rep. Collins that is why they are doing it. Pelosi said, “I don’t hate anybody,” and walked back to the microphone.
  215. Pelosi said she thinks Trump “is a coward” for not taking on gun violence, and “he is cruel” for not helping our Dreamers, and “he is in denial” about the climate crisis, adding, “However, that’s about the election.”
  216. Pelosi said, “This is about the Constitution,” adding, “as a Catholic, I resent your using the word ‘hate’ in a sentence that addresses me,” adding she prays for Trump “all the time,” and closed out with, “Don’t mess with me.”
  217. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “Nancy Pelosi just had a nervous fit,” adding, “She says she “prays for the President.” I don’t believe her, not even close,” and, “Help the homeless in your district Nancy.”
  218. On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee announced the next impeachment hearing will take place Monday, at which investigators will present evidence, the final step to drafting articles of impeachment.
  219. On Thursday, Republican Rep. Tom Graves, 49, of Georgia announced he would retire, saying it was time to “pass the baton.” Graves was the 21st Republican to announce they will not seek re-election in 2020.
  220. On Friday, Republican Rep. George Holding said he would not seek re-election in 2020, citing North Carolinaredrawing the congressional map. Holding was the 22nd Republican.
  221. On Thursday, the House Ethics Committee told Rep. Duncan Hunter in a letter he can no longer vote in the House, citing a House rule relating to any member convicted of a crime who could serve a prison sentence.
  222. Hunter changed his plea to guilty on Tuesday, and faces five years of prison. He and Chris Collins, the first two members of the House to support Trump, have both pleaded guilty to crimes.
  223. On Friday, Hunter announced he will resign from his seat after the holidays. Two Republicans will vie for his seat, including Darrell Issa who called on Trump to pardon Hunter.
  224. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled Deutsche Bank and Capital One must turn over Trump’s financial records to the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees, and must turn over records next week.
  225. The court ruled, “The Committees’ interests in pursuing their constitutional legislative function is a far more significant public interest” than risking Trump being distracted from disclosing his private financial transactions.
  226. On Thursday, Trump asked the Supreme Court to void a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee that seeks his tax returns. The Supreme Court will decide as early as mid-December if it will hear the case.
  227. On Thursday, Karen McDougal sued Fox News, saying host Tucker Carlson had intentionally defamed her on his show by falsely accusing her of extortion, and she was “harassed, embarrassed and ridiculed” after.
  228. On Thursday, the Trump regime disputed some of the details in the House Intelligence Committee report about Giuliani’s calls to “White House Phone Number” and “-1” in an effort to weaken the Democrats’ case.
  229. Although the call logs show Giuliani was in frequent contact with the White House at key times of the Ukraine pressure campaign, an OMB official claimed he did not speak to anyone in OMB, or to Mick Mulvaney.
  230. On Thursday, WAPO reported phone records released in the House report revealed Trump routinely communicated with Giuliani and others speaking on cellphones vulnerable to monitoring by Russia and others.
  231. Additionally, the call between Giuliani and other Trump officials were also not on encrypted or otherwise shielded lines, raising concerns that Russia was about to learn of Trump’s efforts to withhold aid for investigations.
  232. Security experts suspected Giuliani would be a target of Russian surveillance given his focus on Ukraine. Experts said Russians could enlist its own operative in Ukraine to feed Giuliani disinformation while in Kyiv.
  233. Giuliani has used WhatsApp, but also had pocket-dialed a reporter, and had to go to an Apple store after losing his password. U.S. officials said Russia likely has him under physical surveillance on his trip this week.
  234. Officials said Trump’s use of unsecured lines has become the subject of renewed concerns by senior officials at the White House, who have repeatedly tried unsuccessfully to break him of the habit.
  235. On Thursday, Judge Richard Berman excoriated the Turkish government for an “extraordinary, sustained” pressure campaign to scuttle the case against state-owned Halbank for criminal money laundering charges.
  236. The judge also noted the Turkish government hired Giuliani to defend trader Reza Zarrab, and cited contacts between “Turkish and U.S. officials, lobbyists and attorneys” for Zarrab’s release despite criminal charges.
  237. On Friday, a Saudi military student, Ahmed Mohammed al-Shamrani, opened fire in a classroom, killing three and wounding eight at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida.
  238. An initial FBI investigation found no apparent connection to a foreign terrorist group, although Florida Republicans Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. Matt Gaetz claimed it was an act of terrorism.
  239. Trump took an unusually measured tones, seeming to defend the Saudis, tweeting, “King Salman of Saudi Arabia just called to express his sincere condolences and give his sympathies to the families and friends.”
  240. Trump also tweeted, “The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter,” and, “this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people.”
  241. On Friday, Trump told reporters at a White House roundtable on small business and red tape reduction that“we’re looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms,” including low flow toilets.
  242. Trump said “at my suggestion” the EPA “is looking at that very strongly” saying, “People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water.”
  243. Trump said, “we’re looking very strongly at sinks and showers,” adding, “you turn the faucet on, in areas where there’s tremendous amounts of water, where the water rushes out to sea because you could never handle it.”
  244. Trump added, “You turn on the faucet; you don’t get any water. They take a shower and water comes dripping out. It’s dripping out — very quietly dripping out.” Trump continued on the subject for several minutes.
  245. Trump also complained about energy-efficient light bulbs, calling them “many times more expensive,” and “it doesn’t make you look as good,” adding, “It gives you an orange look. I don’t want an orange look.”
  246. On Thursday, 350 psychiatrists and other mental-health professionals submitted a petition to Congress, warning Trump’s mental health is rapidly deteriorating amid the impeachment inquiry.
  247. The petition said what makes Trump “so dangerous is the brittleness of his sense of worth. Any slight or criticism is experienced as a humiliation and degradation,” and he will react with “narcissistic rage.”
  248. They also wrote, “failing to monitor or to understand the psychological aspects” of impeachment on Trump “or discounting them could lead to catastrophic outcomes.”
  249. On Friday, Rep. Justin Amash said he will vote for impeachment, saying he believes there is “sufficient evidence” against Trump for obstruction of Congress, obstruction of justice and abuse of power.
  250. On Friday, more than 500 law professors signed an open letter saying Trump committed “impeachable conduct” and Congress would be well within their rights if they vote to remove him from office.
  251. The letter cites “overwhelming evidence” that Trump “betrayed his oath of office by seeking to use presidential power to pressure a foreign government to help him distort an American election.”
  252. They added, Trump’s “conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy that the Founders feared when they included the remedy of impeachment,” adding they “take no position” on if he committed a crime.
  253. On Friday, in a letter from White House counsel Pat Cipollone to Chair Nadler, the White House rejected the House Judiciary’s invitation to participate in Monday’s impeachment hearing before the 5 p.m. deadline.
  254. While not explicitly saying if the White House would participate, Cipollone called the inquiry “completely baseless” and said House Democrats had “violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness.”
  255. Cipollone also said, “House Democrats have wasted enough of America’s time with this charade. You should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings.”
  256. Nadler responded, saying Trump and team “cannot claim that the process is unfair” if they refuse to participate, adding Trump’s failure to respond “will not prevent us from carrying out our solemn constitutional duty.”
  257. On Friday, deputy press secretary Gidley told Fox News the impeachment inquiry is a “sham” and “doesn’t do anything to put food on the tables of the Americans people” — 48 hours after the USDA enacted a rule that cut food stamps for 700,000.
  258. On Friday, Chair Schiff revealed Jennifer Williams submitted additional classified evidence in the impeachment probe of a phone conversation between Pence and Zelensky that took place on September 18.
  259. In a letter to Pence, Schiff asked Pence’s office to declassify, saying classifying “certain portions” of the call “cannot be justified on national security or any other legitimate grounds we can discern.”
  260. On Friday, Trump tweeted, “Fake News @CNN is reporting that I am “still using personal cell phone for callsdespite repeated security warnings.” This is totally false information.” CNN stood by its reporting.
  261. On Friday, the Supreme Court granted Trump’s emergency request to temporarily block the House subpoena to Deutsche Bank and Capital One for Trump’s records until December 13.
  262. The temporary halt will allow the court to deliberate on a longer stay, while giving Trump’s lawyers time to prepare for a formal appeal.
  263. On Friday, WAPO reported Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will travel to Washington next week to meet with Secretary of State Pompeo, his first visit since the Oval Office controversy where Trump shared classified information.
  264. Pompeo has kept Lavrov at arms length. It is unclear if Lavrov will meet with Trump. The White House refused to comment. One day before his arrival, Zelensky and Putin will meet in Paris.
  265. On Saturday, the LA Times Editorial Board said, “We’ve seen enough. Trump should be impeached,” citing “overwhelming evidence that Trump perverted U.S. foreign policy for his own political gain.”
  266. On Saturday, the House Judiciary Committee released a 55-page report laying out the “Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment,” saying Trump’s conduct rises to the level of impeachment.
  267. The report cited, “The Framers worst nightmare is what we are facing,” adding, “Trump abused his power, betrayed our national security, and corrupted our elections, all for personal gain.”
  268. The report concluded, “A President cannot escape impeachment just because his scheme to abuse power, betray the nation, or corrupt elections was discovered and abandoned.”
  269. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “Read the Transcripts! Also, see where I say “us” (our Country) as opposed to “me” (meaning me) and where I then say that the Attorney General (of the United States) will call you.”
  270. Trump also tweeted, “People still remember Schiff’s made up and fraudulent version of my conversation. Witch Hunt!” adding, “our Country is doing better, perhaps, than it has ever done before. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!”

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In this grab taken from video on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, right, speaks during a NATO reception. While NATO leaders are professing unity as they gather for a summit near London, several seem to have been caught in an unguarded exchange on camera apparently gossiping about Trump’s behavior. In footage recorded during a reception at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was seen standing in a huddle with French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Britain’s Princess Anne.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 160: “ROCKY’

NOVEMBER 30, 2019
Week 159
Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
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This week, more conspiracy theories were debunked, as a draft of the Department of Justice Inspector General report found the FBI did not try to place spies in Trump’s 2016 campaign, nor did Obama wiretap him. Trump allies continued to push the conspiracy that Ukraine, not Russia, may have interfered in 2016, despite it being thoroughly and widely disproved.
Trump sought to portray strength — firing the Navy Secretary and tweeting an image of his face super-imposed on the body of Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky.” He told supporters in Florida how hard he was working for them — as opposed to Democrats’ focus on impeachment — then clandestinely flew to Afghanistan on Thanksgiving to visit U.S. troops under false pretenses.
The House Judiciary Committee announced the start of impeachment hearings next week, as Trump and his team weighed whether to participate. The committee did not rule out an article related to the Mueller probe. Reporting revealed the September 9 call between Trump and Gordon Sondland — central in Trump’s defense of his actions towards Ukraine — may not have happened, and Rudy Giuliani faces a broad probe of possible criminal activity.
East Village, NYC
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1 On Saturday, NBC News reported the Trump regime is also holding back $105 million in congressionally-approved military assistance to Lebanon. Trump’s national security team is also in favor of the aid.
2 The aid was mentioned by David Hale in his closed-door impeachment hearing deposition. The Office of Management and Budget has not explained the reason for the delay.
3 On Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff told “Meet the Press” the hearings produced “overwhelming” evidence Trump conditioned aid on investigations to help his re-election.
4 Schiff said it is “urgent” for the House to move forward and not do “months and month of rope-a-dope in the court,” adding, “we have another election where the president is threatening more foreign interference.”
5 On Sunday, ABC News reported the House Intelligence Committee is in possession of video and audio recordings, and photographs provided by Lev Parnas which include Rudy Giuliani and Trump.
6 Chair Schiff said on “Meet the Press” that Parnas and Igor Fruman were subpoenaed. Fruman has not cooperated. Parnas’ lawyer said his cooperation is “non-partisan,” and for “the best interests of our nation.”
7 On Sunday, WAPO reported a confidential White House review of Trump’s decision to put Ukraine aid on hold revealed emails showing extensive after-the-fact communication to come up with justification of his decision.
8 The research by the White House Counsel’s Office, triggered by the House impeachment inquiry, included emails between chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and other officials in early August on the hold Trump placed in mid-July.
9 Trump decided on the hold without a rationale or legal justification. Mulvaney asked OMB director Russell Vought in early August for a legal rationale. Vought said it was legal, but the NSA and the State Department disagreed.
10 Mulvaney’s request came as he learned the whistleblower made a complaint to the CIA’s general counsel. The White House released aid on September 11, two days after the House was notified of the complaint.
11 White House counsel Pat Cippollone’s office has overseen the review, and has kept tight control of his findings, exasperating tensions between he and Mulvaney, whose aides said they need information for public inquiries.
12 On Saturday, Rep. Adam Smith, a high ranking Democrat, said an ethics investigation of Rep. Devin Nunes is likely over allegations he met with Ukraine’s former top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, to get dirt on the Bidens.
13 According to the lawyer for Parnas, a top aide for Nunes, Derek Harvey, also joined a group that frequently met at the Trump Hotel DC in the spring of 2019 to discuss the Biden matter and other topics.
14 Nunes told Breitbart, these “false and scandalous stories published by the Daily Beast and CNN are the perfect example of defamation and reckless disregard for the truth,” and threatened to sue for the “fake stories.”
15 Newsweek reported Nunes spent $57,000 of taxpayer monies on flights and other expenses for travel to Europe for himself and three staffers, Scott Glabe, George Pappas, and Harvey.
16 Rudy Giuliani appeared on Fox News on Saturday, saying “Devin Nunes says he didn’t meet with Shokin. I have no reason to believe that he did,” adding, “If he did, there would’ve been nothing wrong with it.”
17 Giuliani also said that he has a good relationship with Trump, adding, “I’ve seen things written like he’s going to throw me under the bus,” but “when they say that, I say he isn’t, but I have insurance.”
18 On Sunday, in an interview with NYT, former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “I was attacked for everything, not just my performance,” and, “I don’t like being called a liar.” Sander repeatedly lied.
19 On Sunday, Rick Perry told “Fox & Friends” Trump is “the chosen one” and “sent by God to do great things.” Co-host Peter Hegseth said what Trump withstood is “unlike what really any other mortal could understand.”
20 On Monday, Nikki Haley told Christian Broadcasting Network on Trump, “I think God sometimes places people for lessons and sometimes places people for change. And you can look at everything that has happened.”
21 On Tuesday, First Lady Melania was booed while addressing a group of middle school and high school students in Baltimore in a speech about youth opioid use, four months after Trump publicly disparaged the city.
22 On Wednesday, former Democratic governor Martin O’Malley confronted acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli at Dubliner, a Capitol Hill Irish bar, on Thanksgiving Eve over immigration policy.
23 Onlookers said as the two passed, O’Malley unloaded on Cuccinelli over separating migrant children from their parents, invoking “kids in cages,” and telling him his immigrant parents would “be ashamed of him.”
24 On Wednesday, WAPO reported White House adviser Stephen Miller has emerged unscathed from leaked emails tying him to white nationalists and racist talking points. He boarded Air Force One with Trump on Tuesday.
25 The White House has vigorously defended Miller, and Republican lawmakers have refrained from commenting. Two dozen Senate Democrats and 100 in the House have called on him to step down.
26 On Wednesday, the editorial board for the Sacramento Bee, Nunes’ local paper, said in an op-ed he should “cease silly lawsuits and answer serious questions” about the roughly $60,000 spent on his trip to Europe.
27 The board cited Nunes’ ongoing lawsuit against Twitter accounts known as “Devin Nunes’ cow” and “Devin Nunes’ mom,” calling the suits a “mockery” and saying he was “eviscerated” in court filings this week.
28 On Thursday, NYT reported at least nine Republican organizations have bought Donald Jr.’s book in bulk in an effort to bolster sales. Nonetheless, “Triggered” dropped to number 2 this week as Anonymous’ book came out.
29 On Sunday, Trump tweeted about a non-existent poll, claiming, “Polls have now turned very strongly against Impeachment, especially in swing states. 75% to 25%. Thank you!”
30 On Monday, Trump tweeted again about an non-existent poll: “Support for Impeachment is dropping like a rock, down into the 20’s in some Polls,” adding, “Dems should now get down to work.”
31 Later Monday, Trump quoted “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade saying impeachment “is getting less and less popular by the day.” This tweet is also false.
32 In all three tweets, Trump did not cite a polling source for his numbers, and it appeared rather than cherry-picking polls which Trump has done in the past, he instead invented polls.
33 On Tuesday, a new CNN poll found 50% of Americans say Trump should be impeached, 43% say he should not — unchanged since October despite impeachment hearings. Independents are 47% in favor, 45% opposed.
34 The gender gap for impeachment was 40 points: women 61% in favor, 34% against; men 40%, 53%. The poll also found Trump’s approval with women was 32% with women, and 52% with men.
35 Relative to past presidents, CNN found support for Trump’s impeachment was high: Bill Clinton at his highest point was 29%, Obama was 33%, and George W. was 30%.
36 On Tuesday, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found support for impeachment up to 48%, with 45% against. Support has increased from +3 to +5 in the past week.
37 On Wednesday, Reuters/Ipsos found support for impeachment up to 47% for, 40% against. Net support is up 4 points in the poll since impeachment hearings began.
38 On Saturday, AP reported Secretary of Navy Richard Spencer said he does not consider a tweet by Trump to be a formal order, saying, “I need a formal order to act,” relating to a sailor who could lose his status as a Navy SEAL.
39 On Saturday, NYT reported Spencer and the admiral who leads the SEALs have threatened to resign or be fired if Trump halted their plan to expel the sailor, Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher.
40 On Sunday, Gallagher appeared on “Fox & Friends,” saying the Navy was retaliating against him and trying to take his Trident pin “after the president restored my rank,” and that he was “overjoyed” by Trump’s help.
41 Ahead of Gallagher’s appearance, Trump tweeted, “Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher will be on @foxandfriends this morning at 7:30 A.M.,” adding, “Have no fear, all will end well for everyone!”
42 Later Sunday, Trump tweeted, “I was not pleased with the way that Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s trial was handled,” saying, “he was treated very badly.” Trump also cited “large cost overruns” by the last administration.
43 Trump added, “Therefore, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer’s services have been terminated by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper,” and, “Eddie will retire peacefully with all of the honors” and his Trident pin.
44 Sec. Esper claimed Spencer privately proposed to White House officials that Gallagher could retire as SEAL with his pin if they did not interfere, but did not share the proposal with him, and so he lost confidence in him.
45 Shortly after, Spencer resigned in a letter to Trump, saying, “Unfortunately it has become apparent that in this respect, I no longer share the same understanding with the Commander in Chief who appointed me.”
46 Spencer added, “I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took in the presence of my family, my flag and my faith to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
47 On Wednesday, in an op-ed, Spencer responded to his firing, saying, “We are effective overseas not because we have the best equipment but because we are professionals. Our troops are held to the highest standards.”
48 Spencer noted, “Trump involved himself in the case almost from the start. Before the trial began,” and that Trump’s interest in the case “stemmed partly from the way the defendant’s lawyers” talked about it on Fox News.
49 Spencer wrote to Trump on November 14 to ask him not to get involved, and next day, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone called to say Trump would remain involved. Cipollone called again to tell Spencer to restore Gallagher’s rank.
50 Spencer said, “This was a shocking and unprecedented intervention,” adding Trump “has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically,” or to be governed by “rules and practices.”
51 On Sunday, Sen. John Kennedy told “Fox News Sunday” he was not sure if it was Russia or Ukraine that interfered in the 2016 election, saying, “I don’t know, nor do you, nor do any others.”
52 On Monday, Kennedy backtracked, telling CNN, “I was wrong,” adding, “It was Russia who tried to hack the (Democratic National Committee) computer. I’ve seen no indication that Ukraine tried to do it.”
53 On Monday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson joked he was siding with Russia over Ukraine: “Why do I care what is going on in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia?…Why shouldn’t I root for Russia? Which I am.”
54 On Monday, Trump also quoted lawyer Sam Dewey, a frequent cable news commentator, tweeting, “President Trump is facing a process which is unprecedented for its unfairness.”
55 On Monday, Trump claimed credit at a ceremony for signing the Woman’s Suffrage Centennial Coin Act, saying, “I’m curious why wasn’t it done a long time ago?” adding, “now I’m president, we get things done.”
56 The bill, introduced in April 2019 with bipartisan support of all 25 female senators, commemorates the 100 year anniversary of when the 19th Amendment was ratified, giving women the right to vote.
57 On Monday, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson found that the White House claim that Don McGahn is “absolutely immune” to be “baseless,” saying he must comply with the House Judiciary subpoena.
58 In an 118-page opinion, the judge said, “per the Constitution, no one is above the law,” adding, “the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings.”
59 The ruling also says that the House should have subpoena power over other top regime officials, and that Trump himself may not be immune from testimony.
60 Jackson’s wording was some of the strongest yet to criticize the White House’s approach to investigations into Trump. The Justice Department, which represents McGahn, said it would appeal.
61 On Tuesday, the lawyer for John Bolton said the court decision did not impact Bolton, claiming his “responsibilities are focused exclusively on providing information and advice to the president on national security.”
62 Jackson’s ruling said there was not “any difference whether the aides in question are privy to national security matters, or work solely on domestic issues,” saying that aides could cite executive privilege, but should testify.
63 On Tuesday, Trump attacked the ruling, tweeting, “the D.C. Wolves and Fake News Media are reading far too much” into it, and, “I am fighting for future Presidents and the Office of the President.”
64 Trump claimed, “I would actually like people to testify. Don McGahn’s respected lawyer has already stated that I did nothing wrong,” and complimented John Bolton as a “patriot” for not testifying.
65 Trump added, “I would love to have Mike Pompeo, Rick Perry, Mick Mulvaney and many others testify about the phony Impeachment Hoax,” adding, “It is a Democrat Scam that is going nowhere.”
66 On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election is worthy of investigation, saying we have “a duty to make sure we chase that down.”
67 Pompeo told reporters that in his time as CIA director, he learned “there were many countries that were actively engaged in trying to undermine American democracy, our rule of law.”
68 Pompeo refused to say what he and Giuliani discussed in two March phone calls revealed in State Department records in Week 158, telling reporters, “I don’t have much to say with respect to the Ukraine investigation.”
69 Pompeo also side-stepped questions about Trump’s morning tweet, in which he said he would “love to have Mike Pompeo” and other officials testify, responding, “When the time is right, all good things happen.”
70 Later Tuesday, Bolton tweeted, “our country’s commitment to our national security priorities is under attack from within,” and, “America is distracted. Our enemies are not.” It was unclear what Bolton meant or his intention.
71 On Wednesday, a federal judge on the DC Circuit Court temporarily stayed Jackson’s order for McGahn to comply with a House subpoena to testify, and said the appeals court would hear arguments on January 3.
72 On January 3, the DC Circuit Court will also hear arguments on whether the DOJ must turn over Mueller grand jury testimony to the House. The DOJ is also representing McGahn.
73 On Monday, the Supreme Court blocked the House Oversight Committee from immediately obtaining Trump’s tax returns, giving Trump’s lawyers until December 5 to file a petition stating why it should accept the case.
74 If the petition is denied, the lower court ruling will go into effect. If accepted, the case will be heard before June. The House lawyer said, “Each day of delay harms Congress by depriving it of important information.”
75 On Tuesday, the House Oversight Committee sued AG William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for failing to turn over documents related to the regime’s failed attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
76 On Saturday, WAPO reported during the team’s visit to the White House as NCAA champions, the Columbia fencing team was not able to give Trump a letter critical of his gender equity policies, nor wear pins in support of it.
77 On Monday, WAPO reported José Ricardo Villalta Canales sued Maryland Natural Resources Police for turning him over to ICE where he remained in custody for three months, after being fined for cutting down a tree.
78 On Monday, WAPO reported the Education Secretary is poised to issue sweeping rules governing campus sexual assault, requiring universities to allow cross examination of those alleging sexual assault.
79 The proposal received an astounding 124,196 public comments, criticism from advocacy groups, survivors of sexual assault and campus leaders. Secretary Betsy DeVos said the new system would restore balance.
80 On Monday, DOJ Pride, a group of DOJ employees who are LGBTQ, sent a letter to AG Barr arguing the department’s stance against Title VII of the Civil Rights Act had a “clear and negative impact on employee morale.”
81 The letter cited concern the DOJ does not “support its LGBTQ workforce” or believe they “need or deserve anti-discrimination protections,” and the department “will be less able to recruit and retain talented employees.”
82 On Monday, Google fired Rebecca Rivers, the employee who helped organize a petition against its working with Customs and Border Protection. She was placed on administrative leave earlier this month.
83 On Monday, Trump ally and conservative broadcaster Rick Wiles warned on his show of a “Jew Coup,” saying Jewish members of Congress, the media, and the government were trying to take down Trump with impeachment.
84 On Wednesday, LA Magazine reported Tom Bowers, a Deutsche Bank executive who signed off on bank’s unorthodox loans to Trump, committed suicide. Rosemary Vrablic, Trump’s private banker, reported to Bower.
85 On Wednesday, Detroit Free Press reported 90 foreign students were arrested at a fake university set up the Department of Homeland Security in metro Detroit, bringing the total to 250 since it was set up in January.
86 University of Farmington was set up as part of a sting operation to entice foreign-born students, mostly from India, to register for a school that claimed it offered graduate programs in technology and computer studies.
87 The students arrived legally in the U.S. on student visas, but since the school was revealed to be a federal creation, they lost their immigration status, and 250 were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
88 On Wednesday, WSJ reported according to a report by the DHS IG, the department did not have the necessary process in place to track how many migrant children were separated from their families.
89 The report found U.S. Customs and Border Protection was aware of the deficiency in November 2017, but the agency did little to address the problem ahead of mass separations that took place from May to June 2018.
90 The report found Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy backfired, citing CBP agents were so overwhelmed, they released more migrants from detention and failed to turn over children in the required 72 hour window.
91 The report found at least 1,200 migrant children were not properly tracked by the government, and it is not known if they were reunited with their families.
92 On Thursday, WSJ reported that immigration judges in San Diego are quietly disrupting Trump’s new “Remain in Mexico” rule. Between January and September, 33% of the cases before the nine judges were terminated.
93 On Wednesday, ProPublica and Portland Monthly reported three women say they experienced sexual misconduct by Gordon Sondland in business settings before he become ambassador, including one saying he exposed himself.
94 All three women described professional retaliation when they rebuffed him, including one saying he backtracked from investing in her business. All three women agreed to be named in the reporting.
95 In a letter to ProPublica, Sondland’s attorney accused it of trying to “affect Ambassador Sondland’s credibility as a fact witness,” and suggested the news organizations of “veiled witness tampering.”
96 On Thursday, associates of Sondland said he had no plans to resign over the allegations, which he denied.
97 On Friday, Guardian reported the Ohio legislature introduced a bill that required doctors to “reimplant an ectopic pregnancy,” a procedure that does not exist in medical science, or face charges of “abortion murder.”
98 The bill, one of the most extreme anti-abortion introduced to date, marks the second time obstetricians and gynecologists have told Ohio legislators that an idea is medically impossible.
99 On Saturday, Rep. Ilhan Omar’s 2020 opponent, Danielle Stella, was permanently banned from Twitter, after tweeting the congresswoman “should be tried for #treason and hanged.”
100 Stella took to Facebook to defend her rhetoric and the accompanying image, citing a conspiracy theory and claiming, “I believe all involved should be thoroughly investigated. I did not threaten anyone.”
101 On Monday, Hong Kong voters delivered a landslide victory to pro-democracy candidates, who won almost 90% of districts. China-backed leader Carrie Lam said she will “listen humbly” to the views of the public.
102 However, the Chinese foreign minister warned, “Whatever happens, Hong Kong is always a part of China and any attempts to create chaos in Hong Kong or to jeopardise its prosperity and stability will not be successful.”
103 On Sunday, Axios reported that White House officials directed Sen. Lindsey Graham to block the Armenian genocide resolution after leaving a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the Oval Office.
104 On Monday, Sen. Ron Wyden said in his investigation of Turkish state-run bank Halkbank, accused of the biggest money laundering scheme in US history, he learned that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin attended lunch with Erdoğan.
105 The Treasury Department disclosed Mnuchin had six other meetings with top Turkish officials. Wyden said Treasury “does not deny” Trump tasked Mnuchin “with intervening in the criminal investigation of Halkbank.”
106 On Monday, Reuters reported Turkey will test its new Russian S-400 missile defenses, despite pressure from the Trump regime to drop the system, which is incompatible with NATO defenses.
107 On Thursday, CNN reported the Trump regime plans to cut its financial contribution to NATO, seen as a symbolic move, ahead of Trump attending a summit of NATO’s 70th anniversary in London next week.
108 U.S. officials say the regime plans to reduce the U.S. contribution down to 16% of the overall budget, in line with Germany which provides 15% but has a smaller economy. Other NATO members will make up the shortfall.
109 On Thursday, speaking alongside the NATO chief, French President Emanuel Macron criticized Turkey’s operation in Syria against Kurds, who were critical in the fight against ISIS, after Trump’s withdrawal.
110 On Friday, Erdoğan called Macron “brain dead,” and “inexperienced” for saying Turkey should not be part of NATO. France summoned the Turkish envoy to explain Erdoğan’s comment.
111 On Thursday, Seoul said North Korea fired two short-range projectiles, the 13th major public weapons test by Kim Jong Un this year.
112 On Tuesday, WSJ reported Trump secretly met Sunday morning with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and his preferred pick to fill the state’s Senate seat, Kelly Loeffler, at the White House — and told Kemp not to pick Loeffler.
113 Reportedly, Trump did not inform White House aides about the meeting which turned acrimonious. Trump pushed for Rep. Doug Collins, who would be a certain vote against impeachment.
114 On Friday, Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz called for a primary challenge to Kemp for not obeying Trump, tweeting, “maybe you need a primary in 2022,” adding, “Let’s see if you can win one w/o Trump.”
115 On Sunday, WSJ reported Andrew Favorov, the head of natural gas for Naftogaz, told SDNY federal prosecutors that Parnas and Fruman tried to recruit him in March to help oust Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev.
116 Favorov said the two described Kobolyev and Marie Yovanovitch as part of “this Soros cartel” working against Trump, and said he should take over as CEO of Naftogaz. Favorov said he reported their plan to Kobolyev.
117 On Monday, WSJ reported prosecutors have subpoenaed Giuliani Partners, Giuliani’s consultant business, and sent subpoenas and other requests to possible witnesses for records and information on Giuliani, Parnas, and Fruman.
118 Subpoenas list eight possible charges, including obstruction of justice, money laundering, conspiracy to defraud, making false statements, serving as an agent of a foreign government without registering with the DOJ.
119 Other charges include donating funds from foreign nationals, making contributions in the name of another person or allowing someone else to use one’s name to make a contribution, and mail fraud and wire fraud.
120 On Monday, WAPO reported SDNY federal prosecutors are also investigating Parnas and Fruman’s interactions with Giuliani and the main pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, set up after the election.
121 Investigators are scrutinizing Giuliani Partners’ donations to the PAC. Parnas and Fruman attended an America First dinner in April 2018, at which they spoke to Trump about Yovanovitch.
122 On Monday, NYT reported Giuliani targeted two Ukrainian oligarchs with legal trouble in the U.S., Dmitry Firtash and Ihor Kolomoisky, to help him dig up damaging information on Joe Biden.
123 Kolomoisky said he met with Giuliani and Parnas under a made-up pretense, and Giuliani asked him to set up a meeting with Zelensky. He said no, so Giuliani tweeted an uncomplimentary article about him.
124 Firtash initially said he did not have information on the Bidens, but hired lawyers Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova, recommended by Giuliani, who approached the DOJ on his behalf.
125 Confidential documents on Firtash made their way to John Solomon, who was a client of Toensing. Giuliani and Solomon obtained a sworn affidavit from Shokin saying Biden wanted him fired, taken by Firtash’s legal team.
126 On Tuesday, WAPO reported Venezuelan energy executive Alejandro Betancourt López hosted Giuliani in Madrid in August, and hired him to help him in a DOJ investigation of money laundering and bribery.
127 A month later, Giuliani was part of a legal team for Betancourt that met with the chief of the DOJ’s criminal division and other government attorneys, saying he should not face criminal charges.
128 The $1.2 billion money laundering case is the latest example of Giuliani using his access in the Trump regime to offer his services to foreign clients. The Madrid meeting took place as Giuliani pursued the Ukraine campaign.
129 On Tuesday, in an interview with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, Trump distanced himself from Giuliani and contradicted witnesses, saying of Giuliani’s efforts with Ukraine, “No, I didn’t direct him.”
130 Asked what Giuliani was doing in Ukraine, Trump said, “You have to ask that to Rudy,” and “I don’t even know,” adding, “I know he was going to go to Ukraine and I think he canceled a trip,” and “Rudy has other clients.”
131 In Week 130 NYT reported Giuliani had planned a trip to visit Zelensky to push for investigations, but canceled after political blowback. Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker mentioned him 430 times in their testimony.
132 On Wednesday, WAPO reported Giuliani was in talks with Ukraine’s former top prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, on a deal for Giuliani Partners to work for Ukrainians. Legal agreements were drafted, but not signed.
133 Talks occurred between the two in New York in January and Warsaw in February, as Giuliani was gathering information on the Bidens and Ukraine 2016 interference, and wanted Lutsenko’s help with that.
134 Lutsenko wanted a pipeline to top U.S. officials arranged by Giuliani. Notably, Giuliani told WAPO that he does not charge Trump any fees for legal services.
135 Giuliani’s firm would have been paid a $200,000 retainer, then a $300,000 monthly fee from the Ministry of Justice. Toensing and diGenova were also mentioned, and were part of a separate proposal with the Ministry.
136 On Wednesday, Reuters reported Giuliani called Trump to say he was joking about having an “insurance policy” if Trump turned on him on the Ukraine scandal.
137 Giuliani’s lawyer Robert Costello said the call was made “at my insistence,” adding of Giuliani, “He shouldn’t joke, he is not a funny guy. I told him, ‘Ten thousand comedians are out of work, and you make a joke.’”
138 On Monday, WAPO reported Trump has made Jared Kushner the de facto project manager for constructing his wall, following frustration with the lack of progress ahead of the 2020 election.
139 Kushner has pushed CBP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the process of taking over private land. More than 800 filings to seize private property are expected to be made in the coming months.
140 Kushner has started convening biweekly meetings in the West Wing, and has clashed with career officials who question his ideas and say he lacks knowledge on policy issues and politics of the immigration debate.
141 On Monday, Daniel Walsh, the deputy White House chief of staff, who had significant and broad responsibility, resigned. He was one of the last senior officials remaining from day one of the regime.
142 It was unclear what Walsh would do next, but the White House said he planned to join the private sector. Senior officials leaving the Trump regime have had mixed luck with their professional careers.
143 On Tuesday, the House committees released transcripts of OMB official Mark Sandy’s closed-door deposition in the impeachment inquiry. Sandy, a career official, was the only OMB official to testify.
144 Sandy, the deputy associate director for national-security programs, said he flagged concerns with his boss at OMB that the hold on Ukraine aid could violate appropriations laws.
145 Sandy said on July 12 he received an email from Mulvaney’s office, notifying him that Trump had directed the regime to freeze Ukraine’s military aid.
146 Sandy said he signed the paperwork for the hold in July, but was not given a reason for the hold until September, when he was told it was Trump’s desire to have other countries contribute aid to Ukraine.
147 Sandy said Michael Duffey, a political appointee took over the process for Ukraine aid on July 30, and began personally approving foreign aid and defense accounts, a task typically overseen by career officials.
148 Sandy said he first got questions on aid from Duffey on July 19 when Duffey said Trump had questions. On July 25, Sandy approved a temporary freeze after getting guidance from OMB lawyers.
149 Sandy said that two OMB officials had expressed frustration and quit, in part because of the hold on Ukraine aid. One was in the legal division and had a “dissenting opinion” over whether aid could be put on hold.
150 On Tuesday, the House also released the deposition transcript for Philip Reeker, a senior State Department official. The two transcripts were the final two to be released from closed-door impeachment depositions.
151 Reeker defended Yovanovitch, and described a State Department leadership failure, including by Pompeo, to defend her.
152 Reeker had a call with Ulrich Brechbuhl, counselor at State and confidant of Pompeo on April 24, who told him things had gotten “suddenly much worse” for her and there was “a lot of unhappiness” in the White House.
153 On Tuesday, the House Budget Committee said in a report that the OMB engaged in a “pattern of abuse” of its authority and the law by withholding State Department and Pentagon aid to Ukraine approved by Congress.
154 The report said limiting the spending is a violation of the Impoundment Control Act of 1974, adding the funds were not released until September 12, when the House was notified of the whistleblower complaint.
155 On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee announced its first public hearings on impeachment will start on December 4, with a panel on the “constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment.”
156 Chair Jerrold Nadler said Trump’s counsel can participate in the hearing and question witnesses. The House Intelligence report will be released shortly after Congress returns from Thanksgiving recess.
157 Chair Nadler in a letter to Trump, gave him until December 1 to inform the committee if he plans to participate in the hearings. House Judiciary has the power to draft articles of impeachment against Trump.
158 On Tuesday, NYT reported that Trump had already been briefed by lawyers from the White House counsel’s office about the whistleblower in late August — well before he released aid to Ukraine in September.
159 At the time lawyers briefed Trump, they were trying to determine if they were legally required to give the complaint to Congress, after it was given to the intelligence committee’s inspector general in mid-August.
160 In late August, the intelligence committee IG Michael Atkinson concluded the complaint should go to Congress. White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy John Eisenberg disagreed, citing executive privilege.
161 Given the disagreement, advice was sought from the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. A week later the OLC concluded the regime did not have to turn over the complaint.
162 On Tuesday, CNN reported according to a House Budget Committee summary, the OMB’s first official action to withhold $250 million in Pentagon aid to Ukraine came on the evening of July 25.
163 Trump spoke to Zelensky at 9:00 a.m. ET. Laura Cooper said an email from the State Department came at 2:31 p.m., saying, “Ukrainian embassy and House foreign affairs committee are asking about security assistance.”
164 Another email from State at 4:25 p.m. said, “The Hill knows about the FMF situation to an extent and so does the Ukrainian embassy.” Cooper said “my staff got a question from a Ukraine embassy contact” too.
165 A letter from Michael Duffey, an OMB political appointee, on August 9 said the OMB would begin releasing 2% of State Department funds each day. When Politico reported on August 29 of aid being withheld, 25% of funds were released each Sunday.
166 On Tuesday, at a rally near Miami, Florida which Trump dubbed a “homecoming rally” — the first in the state since he switched his primary residence — Trump lashed out at the impeachment inquiry.
167 Trump accused Democrats of “trying to rip our nation apart” with investigations, saying, “First it was the Russia hoax,” and “now the same maniacs are pushing the deranged … impeachment” narrative.
168 Trump continued to say that he did nothing wrong, and that Democrats are moving forward on impeachment because “they know that they cannot win the next election.”
169 Trump claimed he beat the “Clinton dynasty,” adding, “And then we beat Barack Hussein Obama and whatever the hell dynasty that is!” —  stressing Obama’s middle name. It was unclear what he meant.
170 Trump added, “we won these last two weeks so solidly,” and “You see what’s happening in the polls? Everybody said, ‘That’s really bulls***,” and described his supporters as the “super elite.”
171 Trump added, “They said he went into the hospital. And it’s true, I didn’t wear a tie,” adding, “first thing they do is say, ‘Take off your shirt, sir, and show us that gorgeous chest. We’ve never seen a chest quite like it.’”
172 Trump said he pushed back by pardoning and granting clemency to military members, saying, “I stuck up for three great warriors against the deep state,” and, “you know what I’m talking about.”
173 Trump added, “I had so many people say, ‘Sir, I don’t think you should do that,’” adding, “I will always stick up for our great fighters,” and, “People can sit there in air-conditioned offices and complain.”
174 Trump also claimed the “radical left” wants to “change the name Thanksgiving. They don’t want to use the term Thanksgiving.” The idea came from Fox News segments on the “War on Thanksgiving.”
175 Trump compared it to the so-called War on Christmas, saying, “Now everybody is using Christmas again,” saying of Thanksgiving, “Everybody here loves the name Thanksgiving and we’re not changing it!”
176 On Wednesday, WAPO reported while Trump’s phone conversation with Sondland on September 9 where he said, “I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo,” is a centerpiece of GOP defense, it may not have happened.
177 There are no other witness testimony or documents to corroborate Sondland’s impeachment inquiry testimony about the call. Trump referred only to what Sondland said in his written notes speaking to the press.
178 The White House has not located a record in its switchboard logs of the September 9 call, raising questions about the accuracy of Sondland’s testimony. Trump has cited the call as proof he was not seeking favor.
179 There was however a call between them in early September in which Trump said he wanted “no quid pro quo,” but that he did want Zelensky to publicly announce investigations into his political opponents.
180 Tim Morrison said after Sondland described that call to him on September 7, he had sinking feeling, saying he “did not think it was a good idea for the Ukrainian president to . . . involve himself in our politics.”
181 Sondland has been confronted about September 9 because of his WhatsApp messaging with William Taylor, and five hour delay in responding. His account of his conversation has evolved in his testimony.
182 Given the time difference, the call would have taken place at roughly 5:30 a.m. ET — two hours before a colleague said Sondland typically would have called. Trump’s first tweet on September 9 was at 6:21 a.m.
183 On Wednesday, NYT reported in a draft of his soon to be released report, DOJ IG Michael Horowitz found no evidence the FBI attempted to place undercover agents or informants inside Trump’s 2016 campaign.
184 The finding undercuts the conspiracy theories frequently cited by Trump and his allies that not only did the FBI spy, but also frequent accusations by Trump that Obama had ordered his phone to be tapped.
185 The report will also undercut a claim by Trump allies that Joseph Mifsud was an FBI informant. George Papadopoulos has helped spread the false claim, saying he was set up by the FBI and CIA, without offering proof.
186 The report was also expected to debunk a theory that the FBI relied on the Steele dossier information to open their investigation. The dossier was cited in the wiretap applications for Carter Page.
187 On Wednesday, ProPublica reported according to a review of documents, the Trump Org reported higher numbers to lenders, and lower to tax officials for Trump Tower, the third Trump property known to do so.
188 On Wednesday, Trump tweeted an image of his head superimposed on the body of Sylvester Stallone in his boxing gear from the movie “Rocky.” It was unclear why.
189 On Thursday, CNN reported there is worry and a morale problem at the Pentagon over Trump’s decision making, including intervening in the cases of service members, and sporadic and impulsive decision making.
190 Military leaders are also concerned that Trump is being influenced by Fox News commentators in ways that encourage him to politicize the military, an institution that is meant to stay above the fray of politics.
191 Military leaders also cited Trump’s intervention in war crimes has created “confusion,” making it appear there is no accountability if people violate their oath or commit crimes so long as they can get Trump in their corner.
192 They also cite concern of Trump’s divisive rhetoric and mercurial management style, including frequently issuing orders in tweets, which undermines national security by making planning increasingly difficult.
193 On Thursday, Thanksgiving, Trump made a surprise visit in Afghanistan. His flight was shrouded in secrecy and kept from the media until he arrived, in what was described as “a made-for-TV drama” display with the military.
194 Trump’s three-and-a-half-hour stop marked his second visit to a combat zone while in office, after facing criticism for going two years without a visit to troops overseas. He had hinted recently, “I’m going to a war zone.”
195 While visiting troops, Trump claimed he came because the Taliban “wants to make a deal. And we’re meeting with them, and we’re saying it has to be a cease-fire.” Trump broke off talks with the Taliban in September.
196 Trump also claimed, “They didn’t want to do a cease-fire, but now they do want to do a cease-fire,” adding, “It will probably work out that way…We’ve made tremendous progress.” It was unclear what Trump meant.
197 On Friday, WAPO reported neither the Taliban nor the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani indicated that a cease-fire was near, or even being discussed.
198 A spokesperson for the Taliban told the Post, “We are ready to talk, but we have the same stance to resume the talks from where it was suspended.” Back home, the Trump regime also lowered expectations on talks.
199 On Friday, Daily Beast reported Trump invoked Section 412 of the PATRIOT Act, which permits indefinite detention of resident aliens on national security grounds, on Palestinian Adham Amin Hassoun.
200 This marks the first time in the 18 years since the act was enacted that this obscure provision has been used. Hassoun was never accused of an act or plot of violence, but for cutting checks to extremist-tied Muslim charities.
201 On Friday, HuffPost reported that Trump has spent $115 million on travel and security expenses at golf trips. Some of those expenditures have gone to Trump’s personal benefit for staffers who stay and eat at his properties.
202 The exact amount cannot be determined, because the White House has repeatedly refused to provide documentation on aides staying at his properties, or receipts for the charges they incurred.
203 On Friday, Chair Nadler asked Trump in a letter if he intends to mount a defense during the committee’s consideration of impeachment articles, asking if his lawyers will present evidence or call witnesses.
204 Nadler gave a December 6 deadline. Nadler also said the committee has been investigating if Trump engaged in “obstruction of justice” detailed in the Mueller report, and may draft an impeachment article on the report.
205 Nadler said the committee will hear a public defense of Trump during the week of December 9, and the entire House plans to vote on impeachment during the week of December 16, before leaving for holiday break.
206 The White House had not yet responded to an email seeking comment on Friday, and Trump weighs whether to participate in the impeachment hearings, which he has called a sham and unfair.
207 On Friday, NYT after facing an outcry from Trump allies on Fox News for his silence on impeachment, Sen. Graham has emerged as a Trump defender. He tweeted on Wednesday, “Salem witches got a better deal than this!”
208 On Friday, CNN reported Ukrainian officials are discussing ways to improve the country’s standing with Trump, and may still announce investigations that would politically benefit Trump.
209 The discussions come as Zelensky is slated to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris on December 9, along with leaders of France and Germany, and is eager to show that Ukraine has U.S. support.
210 On Friday, presidential historian David Brinkley predicted support for Trump will collapse “once the vote is taken by Congress to impeach him and he’s wearing the ‘I’ on his chest.”
211 Brinkley added after Congress votes, “you’re going to see that movement grow even more,” adding, “It tells you he doesn’t have a lot of friends, he’s a base politician. He doesn’t know how to turn this around.”
212 On Saturday, the Hill reported no Republican senators want to take over as chair of the Senate Ethics Committee, with Sen. Johnny Isakson retiring, an unusual occurrence to have a chair position difficult to fill.
213 The Ethics committee is responsible for enforcing standards of behavior for senators and their staff, and investigating potential violations of federal law or the Senate’s rules. One senator said “I’d rather have a root canal.”
214 On Saturday, CBS News reported Speaker Nancy Pelosi will lead a delegation of Democratic House and Senate members next week to the annual international climate summit known as COP25 in Madrid.
215 The trip comes after Trump formally withdrew from the Paris climate accord. Pelosi said, “On behalf of the U.S. Congress, I am proud to travel to COP25 to reaffirm the commitment of the American people.”
216 On Saturday, NYT reported on voting machines that malfunctioned in Northampton County, Pennsylvania in the 2019 election, and left officials scrambling to count paper ballots by hand overnight.
217 The machines were ExpressVoteXL, made by Election Systems & Software, and are among their newest and most high-end machines, which combines a touch-screen with a paper ballot. Problems were identified in testing.
218 The suburbs of Philadelphia will play a critical role in the 2020 election. The snafus highlighted the fears, frustrations, and mistrust over election security that many voters are feeling ahead of the election.
219 Concerns are heightened in an era when candidates and incumbents have challenged or discredited a close loss, either using unfounded allegations of voter fraud or claims of a “rigged” election.
220 On Saturday, WAPO reported as Trump faces impeachment, he and his aides have staged photo opportunities and public events to showcase him on the job and make him seem hard at work.
221 At his rally in Florida, Trump told supporters, “I’m working my ass off,” and “The failed Washington establishment is trying to stop me because I’m fighting for you and because we’re winning.”
222 Trump recently met with former Clinton strategist Mark Penn, who counseled him to focus on governing and travel more. Trump is seeking to draw a contrast to Democrats as they try to impeach and remove him.
223 On Saturday, Trump was uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter, unlike tweet storms in recent weeks. Between Friday, and the close of Week 159 mid-Saturday, Trump sent only four tweets.
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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 159: WHO WILL SURVIVE IN AMERICA?

NOVEMBER 23, 2019

Week 158

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. AMY SISKIND’S LIST: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-158/
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On the Bowery in New York City, USA 21Nov19

This was a remarkable week in impeachment hearings as nine witnesses testified. By week’s end, it was clear that there was a coordinated effort that included multiple senior Trump officials “in the loop” seeking investigations from Ukraine in exchange for aid and a White House visit — an effort that went against U.S. national security interests. Trump and his allies’ defense, claiming Ukrainian corruption and 2016 interference, was also debunked, leaving by week end their only defense to be lack of a firsthand witness to Trump directing the activities. The impeachment hearings were stunning as, with each passing day, it became all the more clear how irreverently and irresponsibly Trump has acted, yet how unwilling the Republican Party was to stand up to him and hold him accountable.

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West Village, NYC, USA 21nov19

Another conspiracy theory was also debunked as a draft of the Department of Justice Inspector General found there was no political bias by senior FBI officials against Trump in getting the wiretap of Carter Page. Trump took an unusual trip to Walter Reed Medical Center early in the week that led to speculation of a health issue, and spent the rest of the week ranting and bullying about impeachment, mostly on Twitter and Fox News, and largely avoiding the press. Trump and his allies continued to attack and discredit impeachment witnesses publicly, and blocked testimony from senior officials and subpoenaed documents from the State Department. Trump continued his battle with the U.S. military, flexing his commander in chief might to overturn their rules.

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East Village, NYC, USA 22nov19

As the week came to end, and Congress left for Thanksgiving break, it was unclear where the impeachment investigation would head next. The House Intelligence Committee started writing its report, but did not rule out further hearings, and the Judiciary Committee also considered follow up on information gleaned from the Roger Stone trial related to Trump’s written testimony in the Mueller probe.

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East Village, NYC, USA 22nov19
  1. On Saturday, the White House said Trump underwent a partial examination at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center ahead of his annual physical. Trump had his last physical in February.
  2. Press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump made the unscheduled visit, citing, “Anticipating a very busy 2020, the President is taking advantage of a free weekend here in Washington, D.C.”
  3. Grisham later appeared on Fox News’ “Justice with Judge Jeanine” and said Trump is as “healthy as can be,” and that any speculation is “wholly irresponsible & dangerous for the country.”
  4. Later, just after midnight. Trump tweeted, “Visited a great family of a young man under major surgery,” adding, “Also began phase one of my yearly physical. Everything very good (great!). Will complete next year.”
  5. On Monday, Dr. Sean Conley, Trump’s physician, said in a memo said Trump “has not had any chest pain, norwas he evaluated or treated,” adding the visit was a “routine, planned interim checkup.”
  6. On Tuesday, Trump recounted First Lady Melania asking him about reports he had a heart attack, telling reporters he told her, “These people are sick, they’re sick, and the press really in this country is dangerous.”
  7. On Saturday, Democrat John Bel Edwards won the election for governor of Louisiana, after Trump held two rallies for the Republican running, and told the crowd days before, “You got to give me a big win, please, O.K.”
  8. Edwards won a red state, similar to Andy Beshar in Kentucky in Week 156, by energizing African-Americans and moderate whites in and around the urban centers. Trump won Louisiana by 20 points in 2016.
  9. On Saturday, House investigators released the transcript of Tim Morrison’s testimony. Morrison testified that Gordon Sondland was in regular touch with Trump, and claimed to be acting on his orders.
  10. Morrison said Sondland briefed Trump before the July 25 call, and that until he spoke to Sondland on September 1, he had not drawn a connection between withholding Ukraine aid and an investigation.
  11. Morrison said he did not hear anything troubling on the July 25 call, unlike Alexander Vindman, but recommended access to it be limited. He claimed the call was placed on a highly-classified server by mistake.
  12. Morrison disputed Vindman’s account that he asked for edits to the July 25 transcript to include a mention of Burisma, saying, “I believe it was accurate and complete,” and Vindman’s proposed changes were accepted.
  13. Morrison said John Bolton met with Trump privately in August in an effort to get him to release the $400 million in military aid to Ukraine. He said Bolton emerged and said Trump was “not yet ready” to release the money.
  14. The House also released the transcript of Jennifer Williams’ testimony. Williams testified she was on the July 25 call and her contemporaneous notes reflected Ukrainian President Zelensky did mention Burisma.
  15. Williams said Trump’s request for investigations on the July 25 call struck her as “unusual and inappropriate” and “shed some light on possible other motivations” for his decision to freeze military aid to Ukraine.
  16. She added she found the call to be “more specific to the president in nature, to his personal political agenda,” than “foreign policy objective” of U.S. She put a hard copy of the call transcript in Vice President Mike Pence’s briefing book.
  17. Williams also said that Pence canceling his trip to Zelensky’s inauguration was decided by Trump. She said she was given no explanation for the change of plans.
  18. On Sunday, Trump attacked Williams, referring to her as a Never Trumper, tweeting, “Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read BOTH transcripts of the presidential calls, & see the just released ststement [sic].”
  19. Trump added, “Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers…& work out a better presidential attack!” In her testimony, Williams said she had reviewed the April 21 call transcript with Pence.
  20. Trump also tweeted, “The Crazed, Do Nothing Democrats are turning Impeachment into a routine partisan weapon. That is very bad for our Country, and not what the Founders had in mind!!!!”
  21. Trump added, “Republicans & others must remember, the Ukrainian President and Foreign Minister both said that there was no pressure placed on them,” adding, “But why isn’t Germany, France (Europe) paying?”
  22. Trump also tweeted, “Where is the Fake Whistleblower?
  23. On Sunday, Trump attacked Fox News host Chris Wallace, tweeting he is “nasty & obnoxious,” and his “dumb and unfair interview” of Trump ally Rep. Steve Scalise “would never have happened in the @FoxNews past.”
  24. On Monday, Fox Business host Neil Cavuto defended Wallace, saying journalists are “obligated to question,” adding, “The best we can do as journalists is be fair to all,” and, “That’s not fake doing that.”
  25. On Sunday, WSJ reported Sondland plans to testify Wednesday that he kept several Trump regime officials apprised of his Ukraine push, including White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
  26. On Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told “Face the Nation” she has “no idea” if the impeachment inquiry will wrap by year-end, noting depositions could continue into Thanksgiving week, and could lead to more hearings.
  27. Pelosi also said, “I will make sure he does not intimidate the whistleblower,” adding, “I told the president, you’re in my wheelhouse when you come after the whistleblower.”
  28. Pelosi also invited Trump to testify, saying, “If he has information that is exculpatory…then we look forward to seeing it,” adding, “He could come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants.”
  29. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer echoed Pelosi, telling reporters if Trump does not agree with what he is hearing, “He should come to the committee and testify under oath,” adding, “What is he hiding?”
  30. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “Our Crazy, Do Nothing…Speaker of the House, Nervous Nancy Pelosi…suggested on Sunday’s DEFACE THE NATION that I testify about the phony Impeachment Witch Hunt.”
  31. Trump said he will “strongly consider” testifying “in order to get Congress focused again,” adding, “Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax.”
  32. On Monday, an ABC News/Ipsos poll found 70% of Americans think Trump’s request for Ukraine to investigate a political rival was wrong, 25% say his actions were not wrong.
  33. The poll also found 51% say Trump should be impeached and removed, 6% say his actions were wrong but he should not be impeached, 13% impeached but not removed, and 25% he did nothing wrong.
  34. On Monday, NBC News reported Trump has turned his ire in the impeachment hearings to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as diplomats from State testify, threatening to bring down his presidency.
  35. Trump confronted Pompeo at an October 29 White House lunch about his lackluster effort to stop diplomatsfrom testifying. Trump also blames him for choosing William Taylor, who has provided damaging testimony.
  36. Trump criticized Pompeo for hiring a “Never Trumper” on Twitter on October 23. On October 26, Pompeo was excluded as Trump sat with his national security team during the raid that killed ISIS leader al-Baghdadi.
  37. Pompeo is also under siege from State Department staffers. His decision to allow the State Department to help cover legal of officers ensnared in the impeachment inquiry could further strain his relationship with Trump.
  38. On Monday, Pompeo told reporters, “I always defend State Department employees,” but declined to answer questions related to William Taylor and Maria Yovanovitch’s impeachment hearing testimony.
  39. Pompeo denied any “nefarious purposes” for Yovanovitch’s recall, adding, “The State Department is doing a fantastic job. I think we’ve delivered in a way that the Obama administration has not delivered on Ukraine.
  40. On Tuesday, Time reported Pompeo planned to stay at the State Department until early spring 2020, then run for Senate, but is worried the impeachment inquiry is hurting his reputation, and straining his relationship with Trump.
  41. On Monday, the Hill Editor-In-Chief Bob Cusack said in an email to staffers the paper was reviewing and updating John Solomon’s Ukraine columns. Yovanovitch testified his work was part of the smear campaign against her.
  42. On Tuesday, CNN reported Jimmy Finkelstein, the owner of the Hill, has been friends with Trump for decades, and boasts of their close friendship. Hill staffers revolted over Solomon’s columns and how they were handled.
  43. On Monday, Politico reported David Holmes said in testimony that he “vividly” recalled the conversation because Trump spoke so loudly that it caused Sondland to wince and hold the phone away from his ear.
  44. Holmes was concerned Russia was monitoring the call given two of the three mobile networks in Ukraine are Russian-owned, and “We generally assume that mobile communications in Ukraine are being monitored.”
  45. Holmes said, “I’ve never seen anything like this,” adding, a “conversation of this level of candor, colorful language.” He reported the call to his supervisor. He will testify publicly on Thursday, alongside Fiona Hill.
  46. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he “can’t imagine a scenario” under which the Senate would remove Trump, saying House Democrats are “seized with Trump derangement syndrome.”
  47. McConnell also complained about the lack of civility in political discourse, saying, “People are acting out,” and “We need to learn how to behave better, how to disagree without anger.”
  48. On Monday, CNN reported prosecutors in the SDNY have contacted people associated with Ukraine’s state-run oil-and-gas company, Naftogaz, as part of an investigation into Rudy Giuliani and associates.
  49. Prosecutors are investigating whether Giuliani, Igor Fruman, and Lev Parnas tried to secure energy deals. Fruman and Parnas also worked to oust CEO Andriy Kobolyev, who is known for his anti-corruption reforms.
  50. On Tuesday, AP reported a lawyer for Andrew Favorov, the director of the integrated gas division at Naftogaz, said he will cooperate with the probe into Giuliani and will meet voluntarily with the DOJ.
  51. On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “Our great Farmers will recieve [sic] another major round of “cash,” compliments of China Tariffs.” The payments are the second part of a three-tranche $16 billion federal aid package.
  52. On Monday, Trump met with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell at the White House. Trump tweeted the meeting was “good & cordial” and “everything was discussed including interest rates.”
  53. While it is not uncommon for a president to meet with a Fed Chair, it is uncommon to discuss rates. In a statement after, the Fed said monetary policy is “based solely on careful, objective and non-political analysis.”
  54. On Monday, CBS News reported San Diego billionaire Doug Manchester, Trump’s nominee for U.S. ambassador for the Bahamas, was asked by the RNC for another $500,000 donation as he awaited Senate confirmation.
  55. Manchester, whose nomination has been stalled in the Senate, was first appointed by Trump the day after he was sworn in, after donating $1 million to Trump’s inaugural fund.
  56. On Monday, Mina Chang, a high-ranking State Department staffer who in Week 157 was reported to have inflated her resume, resigned, saying it “is the only acceptable moral and ethical option for me at this time.”
  57. On Monday, Paul Erickson, the former boyfriend of Russian agent Maria Butina, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering. The case was separate from the one against Butina.
  58. On Monday, WAPO reported the IRS whistleblower, who filed a complaint in August saying at least one Trump political appointee at Treasury tried to interfere with an audit of Trump or Pence, filed additional documents.
  59. The IRS whistleblower met with staffers for Sens. Charles Grassley and Ron Wyden, the chair and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, earlier this month. Follow-up interviews are expected.
  60. On Monday, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily halted a ruling that required Trump’s accounting firm to turn over his tax returns, and gave the House Oversight Committee until Thursday to respond.
  61. On Thursday, House lawyers urged the Supreme Court to reject Trump’s attempt to shield his tax returns, citing the “rapidly advancing impeachment inquiry” puts their case on even stronger grounds.
  62. On Thursday, Manhattan DA Cy Vance urged the Supreme Court in an opposition brief to stay out of the fightfor Trump’s tax returns, citing the courts have already ruled unanimously in two seminal cases.
  63. On Tuesday, lawyers for the House Judiciary Committee asked a federal judge for an expedited ruling on whether Don McGahn should abide by their subpoena to testify “as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry.”
  64. Lawyers noted the “need for McGahn’s testimony has become even more pressing.” Part of the committee’s inquiry is related to whether Trump was truthful in his written testimony, as Roger Stone was convicted of lying.
  65. On Tuesday, the judge said she would rule by November 25 on the House lawsuit seeking to enforce a subpoena against McGahn, who skipped testifying in May. House Democrats filed a lawsuit in August.
  66. On Tuesday, a Manhattan appeals court judge dismissed Trump’s request to dismiss Summer Zervos’ defamation lawsuit, and cleared the way for Trump to be deposed. The judge agreed to fast-track Trump’s appeal.
  67. On Tuesday, watchdog group American Oversight obtained emails under the FOIA showing U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley sent confidential information on private email after losing her classified system password.
  68. On Tuesday, the White House faced fresh allegations of dishonesty after press secretary Grisham said in a radio interview that Obama aides left “you will fail” and other disparaging notes for the incoming Trump regime.
  69. No other Trump aides have made similar allegations. Obama aides pushed back at the suggestion, saying it was a lie. Later in the day, Grisham tried to walk back her story, saying she viewed the action as a harmless prank.
  70. On Thursday, Politico reported newly released documents show the Secret Service spent more than $250,000 at Trump properties in the first five months of 2017. The majority was spent at Trump’s golf courses.
  71. On Sunday, Hong Kong police stormed Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which was occupied by protestors. Universities have become the new battlegrounds for protests after months of arrests.
  72. On Sunday, Guardian reported UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with an ex-KGB agent at a lavish Italian party in April 2018, without his personal security detail, a month after the nerve agent attack in Salisbury.
  73. Senior UK officials blame the delayed release of UK intelligence’s investigation into Russian interference in Brexit on wanting to protect Johnson’s relationship with Trump, given what the report says on Trump.
  74. On Sunday, AP reported Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the U.S. and South Korea have indefinitely postponed joint exercises in an “act of goodwill” towards North Korea to keep the door open to diplomacy.
  75. The move comes as Japan’s defense minister, whose country feels threatened by North Korea, told Esper that “no one could be optimistic about” changing the North’s behavior.
  76. On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “Mr. Chairman, Joe Biden may be Sleepy and Very Slow,” adding, “I am the only one who can get you where you have to be,” and, “You should act quickly, get the deal done. See you soon!”
  77. On Monday, an adviser to North Korea leader Kim Jong Un snubbed Trump saying, “we are no longer interested in such talks that bring nothing to us,” adding Trump has not earned a new summit to “brag about.”
  78. On Tuesday, NBC News reported the Foreign Policy Research Institute found among 2020 Democrats, Tulsi Gabbard is the most popular with Russian propagandists (46% favorable, 44% unfavorable) and Joe Biden the least (3% favorable, 53% unfavorable).
  79. Researchers, which analyzed more than 1,700 news stories put out by Sputnik, Russia Today and RT, found a similar pattern to Russia backing Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
  80. On Wednesday, NBC News reported that Trump hosted a previously undisclosed dinner for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and board member Peter Thiel in October — the second meeting in recent months.
  81. On Wednesday, Benny Gantz failed to form a government in Israel, deepening the political crisis, and making it likely Israel will need to hold its third national election in less than a year.
  82. On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on bribery, fraud, and breach of trust charges. Netanyahu is not legally required to step down, but the charges put his political future in doubt.
  83. This is the first time in Israeli history that a sitting prime minister has been indicted. Members of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party called for a primary challenge ahead of the next election.
  84. Shortly later, in a televised statement, Netanyahu called the corruption charges against him an “attempted coup” which is “tainted by extraneous considerations, aiming to bring down a right-wing prime minister.”
  85. On Friday, Netanyahu told reporters, “Police and investigators are not above the law,” and parroting Trump, said, “The time has come to investigate the investigators.”
  86. On Thursday, a Federal Elections Commission disclosure showed the RNC paid $94,800 to Books-a-Million on October 29 to buy Donald Jr.’s new book, days before it was released.
  87. On Saturday, the FBI revealed Richard Tobin, 18, of Brooklawn, New Jersey, directed a far-right network to vandalize networks in Michigan and Wisconsin last September, in what he called “Operation Kristallnacht.”
  88. On Sunday, Christine Blasey Ford received the ACLU courage award. Dr. Ford said, “I was not prepared for the venom, the persistent attacks. I was not prepared to be physically threatened and forced out of my home.”
  89. On Monday, NBC News reported the Trump regime is preparing to publish a rule that would send migrants who pass through Guatemala, El Salvador, or Honduras back to those countries before they can seek asylum.
  90. Immigration advocates said the three countries should not be deemed “safe third countries,” and that the Trump regime bullied the governments into signing agreements that will be deadly for asylum seekers sent back.
  91. On Monday, Media Matters reported Clarence Mason Weaver, an advisory board member of “Black Voices for Trump,” believes women should strive to be “handmaidens,” “be submissive,” and stay out of the workplace.
  92. On Tuesday, Patrick Carlineo Jr., 55, an Islamophobic man from Addison, New York, pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Rep. Ilhan Omar. Although he faces 10 years, Omar asked the judge for “compassion” in his sentencing.
  93. On Tuesday, NBC News reported a second batch of leaked emails showed Stephen Miller had more editorial influence over Breitbart during the 2016 campaign than was previously known.
  94. At the time, Miller not only pushed anti-Marco Rubio stories, but also fed the website anti-immigrant stories. More than 80 Democratic members of Congress have called on Miller to resign.
  95. On Wednesday, University of Georgia confirmed reports that swastikas were drawn on Jewish students’ doors earlier this year. One student said the letters for a Jewish sorority, Sigma Delta Tau, were torn off her door.
  96. On Thursday, a jury acquitted humanitarian worker Scott Warren, who was arrested by Border Patrol in Week 135 for harboring two migrants and providing them food and shelter in the Arizona desert.
  97. On Tuesday, just after midnight Trump falsely quoted Fox News, tweeting, “Pelosi just stated that ‘it is dangerous to let the voters decide Trump’s fate.’” The quote was from Fox News reporter Mike Emanuel an hour prior.
  98. Trump continued, “In other words, she thinks I’m going to win and doesn’t want to take a chance on lettingthe voters decide,” adding, “Like Al Green, she wants to change our voting system,” and, “Wow, she’s CRAZY!”
  99. Pelosi said in a Dear Colleague memo, “The weak response to these hearings has been, “Let the election decide,” calling that a “dangerous position,” citing Trump is “jeopardizing the integrity of the 2020 elections.”
  100. Late Monday, Sen. Ron Johnson wrote in a letter, Vindman fits the profile of “a significant number of bureaucrats and staff members within the executive branch [who] have never accepted President Trump as legitimate.”
  101. Trump called Vindman a “Never Trumper;” Fox Host Laura Ingaham said he worked “against the president’s interests;” and Rep. Douglas Collins cited “concern regarding the credibility and judgment” of Vindman in a letter.
  102. Tim Morrison questioned Vindman’s “judgment” and was critical of his going directly to White House attorney John Eisenberg, rather than up the chain of command. Eisenberg had told Vindman to come directly to him.
  103. WSJ reported the Army is ready to relocate Vindman and his family to an Army base to protect him, and has stepped up patrols of his home and security assessment after Trump and allies have attacked him.
  104. On Tuesday, Vindman and Jennifer Williams testified in the morning in the impeachment inquiry. Both were on the July 25 call. In the afternoon, Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison testified.
  105. In his opening statement, Vindman denounced smears of government officials testifying, saying, “The vile character attacks on these distinguished and honorable public servants is reprehensible.”
  106. Vindman closed out his statement addressing his father: “Dad, my sitting here today…is proof that you made the right decision forty years ago to leave the Soviet Union. Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”
  107. Vindman said of the July 25 call he took Trump’s requests to Zelensky to open investigations into the “2016 election, the Bidens and Burisma” as demands, citing the power disparity between the two men.
  108. Vindman said, “Frankly, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” it was “in certain regards, my worst fear of how our Ukraine policy could play out,” and “was likely to have significant implications for U.S. national security.”
  109. Both Vindman and Williams said they knew of no one at the National Security Council, the State Department, or Pentagon who was in favor of holding up aid to Ukraine, and described Giuliani’s outsized influence.
  110. Williams was asked by House Democrats about Trump’s Sunday tweet attacking her, saying it looked like witness intimidation. She said, “It certainly surprised me. I was not expecting to be called out by name.”
  111. Republican’s counsel questioned Vindman over dual loyalties, asking about an offer to be Ukraine’s defense minister. Vindman said he took the offer as a joke, and reported it to his superiors and counterintelligence.
  112. Fox News picked up on the inquiry, and moments later sent out an alert, saying, “Vindman says Ukrainian official offered him the job of Ukrainian defense minister.”
  113. GOP Rep. Jim Jordan said Morrison and Hill raised questions on his judgment. Vindman read his performance review by Hill: “Alex is a top 1 percent military officer and the best Army officer I have worked with.”
  114. During the testimony, the official White House Twitter account, tweeted, “Tim Morrison, Alexander Vindman’s former boss, testified in his deposition that he had concerns about Vindman’s judgment.”
  115. Rep. Joaquin Castro asked Vindman if he was aware of any evidence that Ukraine interfered in 2016, Vindman responded, “I am not, adding, “This is a Russian narrative that President Putin has promoted.”
  116. Later Tuesday, Trump spoke to reporters from a cabinet meeting, his first public appearance in days. He said of Vindman, “I understand now he wears his uniform when goes in. No, I don’t know Vindman at all.”
  117. Trump also said, “We have to get USMCA signed. Nancy Pelosi can’t get it off her desk,” adding, “The woman is grossly incompetent. All she wants to do is focus on impeachment, which is just a little pipe dream she’s got.”
  118. Trump also accused Pelosi of using the USMCA to get impeachment votes, calling it “a kangaroo court headed by little Shifty Schiff, where we don’t have lawyers, we don’t have witnesses, we don’t have anything.”
  119. Trump added, “they’re using this impeachment hoax for their own political gain” to damage the GOP and him, saying, “but it’s had the opposite effect,” and falsely claiming, “I’m the highest I’ve ever I’ve ever been in the polls.”
  120. Shortly after, Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, NSA to Pence who was on the July 25 call, contradicted Williams’ testimony, saying he heard “nothing wrong or improper on the call.”
  121. On Tuesday, ahead of his public testimony, Kurt Volker revised his closed door House testimony, citing, “I have learned many things that I did not know at the time of the events in question.”
  122. Volker had testified that investigations were not discussed at the July 10 meeting. He said he now recalled that Sondland made a “generic comment about investigations” and that “all of us thought it was inappropriate.”
  123. Volker testified, “I opposed the hold on U.S. security assistance as soon as I learned about it on July 18,” but thought they could “turn it around” before Ukrainians knew, adding, “I did not know the reason for the hold.”
  124. Volker claimed he did not understand that requests that Ukraine investigate Burisma was related to the Bidens, saying the former investigation would be “appropriate and unremarkable,” and the latter “unacceptable.”
  125. Volker said there was no direct quid pro quo, but in his attempts to set up a summit between Trump and Zelensky, he tried to negotiate a statement by Zelensky promising investigations of the 2016 election and Burisma.
  126. Volker disputed being part of an “irregular” channel of Ukraine policy, and said he had never heard the term “three amigos” referencing himself, Secretary Perry, and Sondland, adding, “I frankly cringe when I hear it.”
  127. Morrison said being on the July 25 call he feared “how its disclosure would play in Washington’s political climate. My fears have been realized,” and urged lawmakers “not to lose sight” of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
  128. Morrison said he recommended that access to the July 25 call transcript be restricted, but that its placement onto a highly classified computer system was an “administrative error.”
  129. Morrison said he was surprised that Vindman went to Eisenberg, not him, after the July 25 call. Vindman said he did so at Bolton’s direction. Morrison said Vindman was frustrated over being excluded from meetings.
  130. Morrison said he did not skip his own chain of command by going to Eisenberg after the call, saying he was required to go to Charles Kupperman for “administrative matters.”
  131. Morrison said he was told on a September 1 conversation Sondland said “Ukrainians would have to have the prosecutor general make a statement with respect to the investigations as a condition of having the aid lifted.”
  132. WAPO Editorial Board noted the two witnesses requested by Republicans, Volker and Morrison, added to the evidence that Trump abused his office. Their testimony was sharply different than the narrative pushed by Rep. Devin Nunes.
  133. Later Tuesday, the Washington Examiner reported Republicans are shifting strategy to accepting “quid quo pro” did occur, but now saying it does not matter, and it relatively common occurrence with foreign aid.
  134. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at an investment conference in Moscow that he has “great respect” for the U.S., and hopes Russia will not be accused of meddling in the 2020 U.S. election.
  135.  Putin noted the blame has been shifted to Ukraine, saying, “Hopefully no one accuses us of election interference in the United States. Now they’re accusing Ukraine. We’ll let them deal with that themselves.”
  136. On Wednesday, Sondland testified in the impeachment inquiry. In his opening statement he said of the central question in the impeachment inquiry, “Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’” that “the answer is yes.”
  137. Sondland’s 19-page opening statement included texts and emails not previously made public, and was filled with new details and disclosures, saying his memory had been refreshed by other testimony.
  138. Sondland complained several times about the State Department’s refusal to turn over his materials, which he said would have been “helpful” in reconstructing who he spoke to and met with, when and what was said.
  139. Sondland said that he and other senior regime officials “followed the president’s orders,” coordinating with Giuliani on getting Ukraine to launch investigations. Trump directed them to “talk to Rudy.”
  140. Sondland said, “Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the United States,” and that they were carrying out Trump’s wishes, saying, “we knew that these investigations were important to the president.”
  141. He said he worked with Giuliani on this “at the express direction of the president of the United States,” adding “there was no secret” about what was happening in the regime, and “Everyone was in the loop.”
  142. He said Perry, Volker, and himself did not want to work with Giuliani: “We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we were playing the hand we were dealt,” adding, “we followed the president’s orders.”
  143. Sondland said that Zelensky “had to announce the investigations — he didn’t have to actually do them.” He said although he was not directly told aid was tied to investigations, it was “abundantly clear” that was the case.
  144. Sondland said he did not know why aid was being withheld, but that he “shared concerns of the potential quid pro quo regarding the security aid with Sen. Ron Johnson,” and Ukrainian officials.
  145. Sondland said Pompeo “was aware that a commitment to investigations was among the issues we were pursuing” and the “State Department was fully supportive of our engagement” and “commitment to investigations”
  146. Sondland also testified, “based on my communications with Secretary Pompeo” that he felt comfortabletelling a top Zelensky aide that funds would not be unfrozen until Ukraine committed publicly to investigations.
  147. Sondland said he spoke to Pence before he met with Zelensky in Warsaw on September 1 and told him “that I had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations.”
  148. Sondland read from a July 19 email he sent to Mulvaney, Pompeo, Perry and others, in which he told them Zelensky would conduct a “fully transparent investigation” and “turn over every stone.”
  149. Fox New anchor Chris Wallace said Sondland “took out the bus and ran over President Trump, Vice President Pence, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani, Mick Mulvaney,” adding, “He implicates all of them.”
  150. Fox News contributor Ken Starr questioned if Sondland flipping would cause GOP senators to push Trump to resign, and later added, “articles of impeachment are being drawn up if they haven’t already been drawn up.”
  151. Sondland also confirmed David Holmes’ account of his July 26 call with Trump, saying it “did not strike me as significant,” and “I would have been more surprised” if Trump did not mention investigations.
  152. However, Sondland said in that call, and in others, he had no “recollection of discussing Vice President Biden or his son.” Sondland, Morrison, and Volker all claimed they did not connect Burisma to the Bidens.
  153. An August 26 email from Sondland showed he provided Bolton with Giuliani’s contact information, days before Bolton traveled to Ukraine, saying Bolton’s office had “requested Mr. Giuliani’s contact information.”
  154. During the testimony, Trump spoke to reporters outside the White House before heading to Texas, while reading off a piece of paper. He said of Sondland “seems like a nice guy,” but added, “I don’t know him very well.”
  155. Trump read from his notes recounting a September 9 conversation with Sondland, when he told him, “I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky — President Zelensky to do the right thing.”
  156. September 9 was the day the House Intelligence Committee learned of the whistleblower’s complaint. Sondland was relaying in testimony what Trump had told him to tell Taylor.
  157. Trump also told reporters, “That means it’s all over,” and read again from his notes in all capitalized, bold black letters, “This is the final word from the president of the United States: ‘I want nothing.’”
  158. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “Impeachment Witch Hunt is now OVER!” citing he said, “I WANT NOTHING!I WANT NOTHING! I WANT NO QUID PRO QUO! TELL PRESIDENT ZELENSKY TO DO THE RIGHT THING!”
  159. During the testimony, Giuliani tweeted Sondland was “speculating based on VERY little contact. I never met him and had very few calls with him, mostly with Volker.” Minutes later, Giuliani deleted the tweet.
  160. Shortly after, Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, issued a statement saying Pence never spoke to Sondland about “investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine.”
  161. A State Department spokesperson said “Sondland never told Secretary Pompeo that he believed the president was linking aid to investigations of political opponents. Any suggestion to the contrary is flat out false.”
  162. Later Wednesday, Laura Cooper and David Hale testified in the impeachment hearing. Cooper said military aid to Ukraine was critically important and she did not know over the summer why it was withheld.
  163. Cooper said since her closed door deposition, she has learned from her staffers Ukraine reached out to them as early as July 25 to ask what was going on with military aid, significantly earlier than previously known.
  164. Trump allies have claimed Ukrainians did not know aid was being withheld until August 28. Cooper also said during the week of August 6, her staffers interacted with Ukrainian officials who raised the hold on aid.
  165. Although Republicans repeatedly claimed Democrats would not allow their witnesses, Hale was the third on their list. Hale said Pompeo did call Fox News host Sean Hannity about Yovanovitch, which Pompeo denied.
  166. Hale also said that Giuliani was behind allegations that led to Yovanovitch being ousted, adding, “I believe that she should have been able to stay at post and continue to do the outstanding work.”
  167. Hale said the first time he heard of investigations into the Bidens and 2016 election was in March when Yovanovitch emailed him “speculating on the motives of various actors” behind “the smear campaign.”
  168. Hale said at a July 26 interagency meeting chaired by Kupperman, all agencies advocated for resuming aid to Ukraine. The Office of Management and Budget said aid was on freeze, and that the order came from Trump through Mulvaney.
  169. On Wednesday, a Gallup poll found Trump’s approval for November 1–14 was up to 43% from 41% in October. His disapproval fell from 57% to 54%. Trump’s handling of the economy remains his strongest area.
  170. On Thursday, American Research group found Trump’s approval at 37%, while 60% disapprove. The net -23 approval is the lowest for the past year.
  171. On Thursday, an Emerson College poll found 34% of independents support impeachment, 49% are against it — a sharp move from October when 48% supported it and 39% were against it.
  172. On Wednesday, Yahoo News reported the FBI reached out to a lawyer for the CIA whistleblower to ask to interview them. No interview has been scheduled, and it is unclear what the scope of the questioning would be.
  173. On Wednesday, lawyers for Vindman sent a warning letter to Fox News seeking a retraction or correction of an October segment by host Laura Ingraham suggesting Vindman might be guilty of espionage.
  174. The letter said the segment “sparked a torrent of republications and copycat false charges.” The letter also highlighted other inflammatory statements made on Fox News by Donald Jr. and host Tucker Carlson.
  175. Fox News responded on the Ingraham segment: “as a guest on Fox News, John Yoo was responsible for his own sentiments,” and “he has subsequently done interviews to clarify what he meant.”
  176. Later Wednesday, Trump held a publicity stunt at an Apple plant that has been making high-end computers since 2013. Trump accepted a plate with the words “Assembled in USA.”
  177. Shortly after, Trump tweeted the falsehood, “Today I opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texasthat will bring high paying jobs back to America.” Apple needs waivers on components from China.
  178. On Thursday, Sen. Johnson said in a radio interview Sondland “never used the word ‘quid pro quo,’” saying “he described to me some kind of arrangement” and when he asked Trump, he “adamantly denied” it.
  179. On Thursday, Trump attacked Fox News for its impeachment coverage, tweeting why they “waste airtime on Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell,” saying, “Fox should stay with the people that got them there, not losers!”
  180. Trump added, “The Republican Party, and me, had a GREAT day yesterday with respect to the phony Impeachment Hoax,” but you “would have no idea they were reporting on the same event. FAKE & CORRUPT NEWS!”
  181. Trump also tweeted, “Bob Mueller, after spending two years and 45 million dollars, went over all of my financials, & my taxes, and found nothing,” adding, “the Witch Hunt continues,” and “is not legal.”
  182. Trump added, “But I’m clean,” adding, “when I release my financial statement (my decision) sometime prior to Election,” it will show “that I am much richer than people even thought — And that is a good thing.”
  183. Trump continued, “I never in my wildest dreams thought my name would in any way be associated with the ugly word, Impeachment!” adding the calls “were PERFECT,” and, “Great corruption & dishonesty by Schiff.”
  184. Trump also called Democrats “human scum,” saying, “Corrupt politician Adam Schiff’s lies are growing by the day,” telling Republicans, “Keep fighting tough,” and citing “the most unfair hearings in American History.”
  185. Trump also tweeted, “But we are winning big, and they will soon be on our turf,” referring to the Senate.
  186. Trump quoted attorney Sam Dewey on Fox News, tweeting, “The new House Resolution gives Adam Schiff (the most dishonest man in politics) the power unilaterally to release edited transcripts.”
  187. Trump again quoted Dewey, tweeting, “Nothing gives Schiff jurisdiction over Impeachment.” Trump then retweeted his first tweet of the morning. Trump then tweeted, “Read the two Transcripts of Ukrainian calls!”
  188. On Thursday, at her weekly news conference, Speaker Pelosi told reporters “we haven’t made any decision,” on whether there is enough evidence to impeach Trump, adding “the day’s not over.”
  189. Pelosi also indicated there may be more witnesses, saying “testimony of one person may lead to the need for testimony of another.” And lashed out at Republicans for “the defense” of Trump’s behavior.
  190. Pelosi said Trump violated his oath of office, saying, “the facts are uncontested as to what happened,” and adding, “when we see a violation of the Constitution, we have no choice but to act.”
  191. Pelosi said Trump “used his office for his own personal gain,” undermined U.S. “national security” by withholding aid to Ukraine “to the benefit of the Russians,” and “undermined the integrity of our elections.”
  192. Pelosi said on reluctant witnesses, “we’re not going to wait till the courts decide,” adding, “That might be information that’s available to the Senate,” and “it’s a technique. It’s obstruction of justice, obstruction of Congress.”
  193. On Thursday, Fiona Hill and David Holmes testified in the impeachment hearing. Hill is the co-author of a 500-page book analyzing the psyche of Putin, and is a foremost expert on Russia.
  194. Hill criticized Republicans for propagating a “fictional narrative” that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 elections, saying, “These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes.”
  195. Hill said of the investigation, “I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests,” adding, “I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative.”
  196. Hill said, “President Putin and the Russian security services operate like a super PAC,” deploying millions of dollars to interfere, and that Russia will do again in 2020, saying time is “running out of time to stop them.”
  197. Hill said Russia’s goal “is to delegitimize the president,” and to put whoever won in 2016, Trump or Clinton, “under a cloud,” adding, “It’s a playbook they will run again in 2020.”
  198. Hill said Trump’s pressure campaign was purely political and had nothing to do with reforming corruption in Ukraine, the explanation frequently cited by Trump and Republicans.
  199. At her deposition, Hill had described a “shadow foreign policy” being run by Sondland, but said after his testimony, she realized he kept Trump, Mulvaney, and Pompeo “in the loop” about his efforts.
  200. Hill described a July 10 meeting with Ukrainians, after which Sondland told her “That he had an agreement with chief of staff Mulvaney that in return for investigations this meeting [with Trump] would get scheduled.”
  201. Hill said when she told Bolton, he said, “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” and told her to report the conversation to White House lawyer Eisenberg.
  202. Hill said Bolton told her that “Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up, which she took to mean Giuliani was “pushing views that would come back to haunt us,” adding, “that’s where we are today.”
  203. Hill said after Yovanovitch’s ouster, she had confronted Sondland with her concerns, and he told her that “he was in charge of Ukraine,” and when she asked, “who put you in charge?” Sondland said, “the president.”
  204. Hill said she now realized Sondland was “ involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security, foreign policy,” adding she had told him “this is all going to blow up. And here we are.”
  205. Holmes said he was convinced in late August that Trump froze military aid for the investigations, calling it “an expression of dissatisfaction with the Ukrainians who had not yet agreed to the Burisma/Biden investigation.”
  206. Both Hill and Holmes made it clear that Burisma was “code” for Biden, and that anyone who worked on Ukraine would know that, contradicting public testimony by Volker, Morrison, and Sondland.
  207. Holmes testified about the July 26 call between Trump and Sondland, saying after the call Sondland told him that Trump cared only about “big stuff that benefits the president” like the “Biden investigation.”
  208. As Holmes testified, Trump tweeted, “I have been watching people making phone calls my entire life,” adding, “My hearing is, and has been, great,” questioning Holmes being “able to hear or understand a conversation.”
  209. Holmes also said at the lunch someone asked why Giuliani was “so active in the media with respect to Ukraine” and Sondland responded, “‘Dammit Rudy. Every time Rudy gets involved he goes and f — -s everything up.’”
  210. On Thursday, during the hearings, Trump hosted Senate Republicans for lunch, including Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, who have shown tepid support, to woo them. Lisa Murkowski was invited but did not attend.
  211. At the lunch, with roughly six senators attending, Trump passed around a transcript of his first phone call with Zelensky, and discussed which witnesses should be called in a Senate trial.
  212. On Thursday, AP reported public testimony provided loads of evidence, but the one hole is no witness could attest to Trump directly conditioning the release of $400 military aid to an announcement of the investigations.
  213. Without direct proof, Republican support in the House seemed to remain intact despite witnesses showing Trump was willing to leverage the presidency to push a foreign government for personal political help.
  214. On Thursday, Daily Beast reported that according to Andriy Yermak, Lev Parnas was with Giuliani in Madrid when he met them in Madrid earlier this year and urged him to investigate the Bidens.
  215. On Thursday, after the impeachment hearings, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham sent to a letter to Secretary Pompeo as part of launching a probe of Biden, Burisma, and Ukraine.
  216. Graham asked for any calls Joe Biden had with former Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko relating to the firing of the country’s top prosecutor and Burisma, investigating unsubstantiated claims on the prosecutor’s firing.
  217. On Friday, Joe Biden said in an interview, “Lindsey is about to go down in a way that I think he’s going to regret his whole life,” adding of Lindsey, “I’m just embarrassed by what you’re doing, for you. I mean, my Lord.”
  218. On Thursday, former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith announced at a Committee to Protect Journalists event, that he would donate $500,000 to the nonprofit group, which advances press freedoms around the world.
  219. Smith told the crowd, “Autocrats have learned how to use those same online tools to shore up their power. They flood the world of information with garbage and lies, masquerading as news. There’s a phrase for that.”
  220. On Friday, Trump appeared on “Fox & Friends” for 53 minutes. PolitiFact found many of Trump’s points “were either inaccurate or repeated debunked conspiracy theories.”
  221. Trump falsely claimed, “They were spying on my campaign,” adding, “This was an overthrow attempt at the presidency. They tried to overthrow the presidency. This is a disgrace.”
  222. Trump said, “Adam Schiff is a sick puppy,” but that his July 25 call was “appropriate,” “perfect” “nice,” and “everything,” adding Zelensky said, “what are they talking about? They must think we’re nuts in this country.”
  223. Trump said of impeachment, “Frankly, I want a trial,” adding Pelosi is “crazy as a bedbug. She is nuts, ” and “the one I want to testify most is ‘Shifty Schiff,’ and I want to find out why did he make up my statement?”
  224. Trump said he knew the identity of the whistleblower: “I know exactly who it is,” telling the hosts, “By the way you know who the whistleblower is too, otherwise you’re not doing your job. Everybody knows it.”
  225. Trump said a “historic” report by the DOJ IG is coming, and, “I don’t like to use the word ‘deep state.’ I just say they’re really bad, sick people,” and mentioned the “modern-day version of whatever wiretapping may be.”
  226. Trump repeated the debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine’s 2016 involvement, saying, “They gave the server to Crowdstrike, or whatever it’s called….which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian.”
  227. Crowdstrike is a U.S. cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC in May 2016 to investigate the breach of its server. Conspiracy theorists claim the company’s chief technology officer is Ukrainian, but he was born in Russia.
  228. Trump asked, “Why isn’t Germany putting up money? Why isn’t France putting up money (for Ukraine)?Why isn’t all of the European nations, why aren’t they putting up?” The EU has put up $15 billion since 2014.
  229. Trump falsely claimed of Volker, “I don’t know him,” and “This guy, Sondland, hardly know him,” and praised Giuliani, adding if he goes to a country and “you hear it’s a corrupt country, I mean it means a lot.”
  230. Trump said of Yovanovitch, “she’s an Obama person,” adding, “everybody says is so wonderful, she wouldn’t hang my picture in the embassy,” and, “This was not an angel, this woman, OK?.”
  231. Trump also said of Yovanovitch, “I said, ‘Why are you being so kind?’ ‘Well, sir, she’s a woman. We have to be nice,’” adding, “She’s very tough. I heard bad things.”
  232. Shortly after, lawyers for Yovanovitch said in a statement, “The Embassy in Kyiv hung the official photographs of the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State as soon as they arrived from Washington, DC.”
  233. Trump also said, If it weren’t for me Hong Kong would have been obliterated in 14 minutes.” In was unclear what he meant. He added “we have to stand with Hong Kong but I’m also standing with President Xi.”
  234. Trump also said of Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George, “I don’t know what Kellyanne did to that guy” calling him “some kind of a nut job,” and, “She must have done some bad things to him because that guy’s crazy.”
  235. On Friday, NYT reported in addition to Hill’s testimony, U.S. intelligence officials informed senators and their aides that Russia was behind the years-long campaign to frame Ukraine for hacking the 2016 U.S. election.
  236. The revelations showed the Russian’s success not only at sowing discord in the U.S., but also in undermining the government of Ukraine and influencing the American political debate.
  237. On Thursday, Trump intervened and reversed a U.S. Navy decision to oust Edward Gallagher from the SEALs, and lose his Trident pin, after Gallagher had been at the center of a high-profile war crimes prosecution.
  238. Trump tweeted, “The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin,” adding, “This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business.”
  239. On Friday, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said Gallagher should face a planned “trident review board,” which could lead to his ouster from the SEALs, despite Trump’s tweet.
  240. On Friday, WAPO reported Trump took the advice of Pete Hegseth, a Fox News personality, when he issued pardons in Week 157. Trump called Hegseth numerous times to discuss the issue.
  241. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy tried to persuade Trump not to, and senior military officials brought documents and data to a meeting to show Trump he was fed bad information.
  242. Trump was lobbied with information that the three cases involved overly restrictive rules of engagement during the Obama administration. Trump tweeted Sunday, “Our great warfighters must be allowed to fight.”
  243. On Friday, CNN reported DOJ IG Michael Horowitz found a former FBI lawyer is under investigation for allegedly altering a document related the 2016 surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.
  244. However, the alterations, outlined in a draft of the IG’s soon to be released report, were made by a low-level FBI lawyer who has since been forced out of the agency, and did not effect the validity of the surveillance subpoena.
  245. Horowitz turned the evidence over to U.S. Attorney John Durham for his investigation of the investigators. The IG report is expected to be released on December 9.
  246. Later Friday, Trump told reporters at the White House, “I think we had a tremendous week with the hoax,” adding, “They call it the impeachment hoax. And that’s really worked out incredibly well.”
  247. Trump added he has “tremendous support” from Republicans, adding, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen support in the Republican Party like we do right now,” and “We’ve never had this kind of support.”
  248. Asked if the whistleblower should be fired, Trump said, “ What whistleblower? I don’t think there is. I consider it to be a fake whistleblower,” falsely claiming the complaint did not track what he said.
  249. On Friday, Chair Schiff told the LA Times that his committee has begun work on its report in the impeachment inquiry, which will be handed off to the House Judiciary Committee, but is not ruling out further hearings.
  250. Schiff added, “We’re not foreclosing the possibility of additional depositions or hearings,” but added, “we’re also not willing to wait months and months and let them play rope-a-dope with us in the courts.”
  251. On Friday, Politico reported after Thanksgiving, House Democrats are planning to hold at least one hearing on Trump’s misdeeds in the Mueller report, fueling possible additional articles of impeachment.
  252. Democrats say Roger Stone’s trial raised the question of whether Trump provided false statements in his written testimony to Mueller’s team relating to WikiLeaks. Democrats also hope to get McGahn’s testimony.
  253. On Friday, Bolton tweeted, “Glad to be back on Twitter after more than two months,” and later explained the White House “refused to return access to my personal Twitter account. Out of fear of what I may say?
  254. A White House spokesperson denied it, saying, “The White House did not block Mr. Bolton.” Trump also denied it on “Fox & Friends,” saying, “of course not,” and, “No, I actually had a good relationship with John.”
  255. On Friday, a group of conservative-leaning lawyers called Checks & Balances told the Times in a statement: “In recent months, we have become concerned by the conduct of Attorney General William Barr.”
  256. The group said they were so alarmed by Barr’s speech last week, they felt the need to push back on his expansive view of executive power. The group sharply denounced abuses of power by Trump.
  257. The group also said Barr’s interpretation set a dangerous precedent, with one member saying, “Conservatism is respect for the rule of law,” and another saying, “It’s important for conservatives to speak up.”
  258. On Friday, AG Barr said in an interview with AP that the death of Jeffrey Epstein was a “perfect storm of screw-ups,” refuting statements from Epstein’s family that he may have been murdered.
  259. Later Friday, NYT reported the highly anticipated DOJ IG report will sharply criticize lower-level employees for sloppiness, but absolve top ranking officials of abusing their power over bias against Trump.
  260. The report, while not finalized, is expected to show a proper legal basis for the government’s applications to monitor Carter Page, but find errors were made, including the use of human sources in the report.
  261. IG Horowitz found a low-level lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, altered an email used in court to renew the Carter Page wiretap. Horowitz referred the matter to John Durham for a potential criminal charge.
  262. Clinesmith left the Russia investigation in February 2018 after the IG found he was one of a handful of FBI officials who expressed animus towards Trump in text messages. Clinesmith resigned two months ago.
  263. The report was expected to find no politically biased actions by top officials targeted by Trump, including James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and Peter Strzok, debunking conspiracy theories used by Trump and his allies.
  264. On Friday, Trump tweeted an altered video of a CNN segment mocking host Chris Cuomo, replacing the voice of Cuomo’s mother with Trump screaming things like “I want no quid pro quo,” and “fake news.”
  265. On Friday, a lawyer for Lev Parnas said he is willing to tell Congress that Devin Nunes, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, met with former Ukrainian Prosecutor Victor Shokin about digging up dirt.
  266. The lawyer told CNN Parnas learned from Shokin that he met Nunes “in Vienna last December.” Congressional records show Nunes and three aides traveled to Europe from November 30 to December 3, 2018.
  267. The lawyer told CNN, “Nunes had told Shokin of the urgent need to launch investigations into Burisma, Joe and Hunter Biden, and any purported Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.”
  268. On Friday, CBS News reported according to a “Memorandum of Investigative Activity,” the whistleblower reached out to the intelligence committee IG on October 8 to clarify the nature of their contact.
  269. The IG passed the October 18 memo to House and Senate intelligence committees, saying the whistleblower acknowledged reaching out to Chair Schiff, but clarified that nothing substantial was discussed.
  270. On Friday, WAPO reported Trump has opened up Camp David as an “adult playground” and venue to woo Republican lawmakers during the impeachment inquiry, hosting by Mulvaney and White House officials.
  271. Trump has called in to compliment lawmakers at the dinners. Trump has also in recent weeks stopped attacking Republicans. He has also brought them along to sporting events in an effort to woo them.
  272. In recent weeks, Trump has also invited groups of Senate Republicans for lunch on Thursdays. Trump’s message at lunches echoes what he says publicly, and attendees claim they feel no overt pressure to stay on his side.
  273. Late Friday, the State Department released nearly 100 pages of documents to the FOIA to watchdog group American Oversight, just before the midnight court-imposed deadline. More documents will be released.
  274. Documents revealed a clear paper trail between Giuliani and Pompeo in the weeks before Yovanovitch was ousted. The two also spoke on the phone on March 26 and March 29, before her recall in April.
  275. Late Friday, Trump quoted Jason Chaffetz appearing on Fox News, tweeting, “The support for Impeachment is not there. I think the Democrats will have to come up with a new game plan.”
  276. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “Adam Schiff will be compelled to testify should the Democrats decide” despite his calls which were “totally appropriate (perfect), to go forward with the Impeachment Hoax.”
  277. Trump added, “Polls have now turned very strongly against Impeachment!” and tweeted an Emerson College poll, quoting Joe Concha tweeting, “You see why Pelosi is reluctant to go in with this.”
  278. On Friday, in a speech at the ADL’s International Leadership Award, Sacha Baron Cohen said social media giants, Facebook, Twitter, and Google are “the greatest propaganda machines in history.”
  279. On Saturday, WSJ reported James Barnes, the Facebook employee who was embedded in the Trump 2016 campaign and helped him win using its powerful tools, left Facebook and will work for Democrats in 2020.

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Fiona Hill, former senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, and David Holmes, political counselor for the US Embassy in Ukraine, are sworn in before testifying during the House Select Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry into Trump on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 158: “GUILTY ON ALL 7 COUNTS”

NOVEMBER 16, 2019

Week 157 of AMY SISKIND’S LIST

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-157/

This week public impeachment hearings started, with three career diplomats testifying before the House Intelligence Committee. Senate Republicans were notably quiet in their defense of Trump, while Republican House members focused mostly on the process, especially for the third witness, Maria Yovanovitch, who proved unassailable. William Taylor testified about a previously unknown phone call on July 26 overheard by his staffer David Holmes, in which Trump asked about “the investigation,” and Sondland assured him Ukraine would comply. Closed door hearings continued as well, as more career officials came forward to testify.

This week, Trump faced threats on other fronts, as longtime ally Roger Stone was found guilty on all charges of lying to Congress, tampering with witnesses, and concealing evidence in an effort prosecutors said was to shield Trump. Stone’s conviction was the sixth of a senior Trump official arising from the Mueller probe. This week Trump lawyers appealed two cases to the Supreme Court, both of which would require him to turn over eight years of his tax returns.

The world order continued to shift, as Trump hosted and praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House, weeks after Turkish-forces invaded Northern Syria, and notably in contrast to having not yet hosted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. French President Emmanuel Macron announced France would host a Ukraine summit on December 9, in