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 166: AN ODE TO THE “176”: BLOOD ON HIS HANDS

JANUARY 11, 2020

Week 165

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-165/

This week as the country was on the brink of war with Iran, we stood alone, with the Trump regime having neglected to consult with our allies in Europe or the region. Reporting indicated the decision to strike that precipitated the latest crisis was made by Trump and Trump alone, amid his shrinking circle of less experienced but more compliant national security experts. After Iran retaliated, Trump seemed flat-footed, saying he would address the country that night, then backing off. The next morning he addressed the nation in a speech which he seemed to struggle to deliver, full of lies and misinformation, and which clarified little on strategy or the reason for the escalation. One of the numerous unintended consequences of the escalation was a downed Ukrainian Air plane, with 176 passengers killed over Tehran in the fog of war.

IMG_2351
The Scream was created by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch in 1893 but it has become a masterpiece – the masterpiece – for our time. There are comparably “iconic” works of art – the Mona Lisa, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers – but they exist in a world of art and beauty. The Scream is ugly and brutal and belongs in the here and now. It is a symbol we reach for as we might for a strong word, to express what we’re feeling this minute.

The basis for the strike was in dispute during the week, as the regime failed to provide Congress or the American people with information to back their ever-changing rationale. By the end of the week, the regime indicated it was threats to U.S. embassies that led to the strike, with Trump specifying, without providing evidence, four embassies in total. Reporting also indicated there was another planned strike the day Soleimani was killed, targeting a senior Iranian military official in Yemen, that failed — indicating a broader attack may have been underway, and further muddying the regime’s account of events.

IMG_2349
This week in New York City.

This week former National Security Advisor John Bolton offered to testify in the Senate impeachment trial, which Trump later said he would likely block, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scheduled a vote to send the articles to the Senate. Republicans continued to largely stand behind Trump, even as he nearly brought the country to war without reason, and as the impeachment trial is set to get underway.

IMG_2361
This week in Rome, Italy. Artist: Qwerty
  1. On Wednesday, the New York Bar Association asked Congress in a letter to investigate Attorney General William Barr, saying his conduct “threatens public confidence in the fair and impartial administration of justice.”
  2. The letter also said Barr’s “recent actions and statements” position the AG, and by extension, the DOJ “as political partisans willing to use the levers of government to empower certain groups over others.”
  3. The request marks the first time the New York bar, or any comparable bar association, has asked Congress to investigate a sitting attorney general.
  4. On Wednesday, Pew Research published a survey of 33 countries which found 64% said they do not have confidence in Trump to do the right thing in world affairs, while just 29% do.
  5. Trump also received the lowest rating of five leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
  6. On Thursday, the Justice Department ended their two-year investigation of Hillary Clinton, begun to appease Trump and his allies in Congress. The probe ended quietly, finding nothing of consequence.
  7. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions had appointed U.S. attorney John Huber to “review” the Clinton Foundation, Uranium One, and the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server.
  8. On Friday, Bloomberg reported U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials are probing whether Russia is targeting Joe Biden, the leading Democratic presidential candidate for 2020, with election meddling.
  9. Part of the inquiry is whether Russia is trying to weaken Biden by promoting controversy over debunked allegations of his involvement in U.S. policy in Ukraine while his son Hunter worked for an energy company there.
  10. The strategy would mirror what Russia did in 2016, carrying out a sophisticated operation to damage Hillary Clinton. One expert noted Putin’s ability “to convince people of outright falsehoods.”
  11. Unlike 2016 where Russia hacked documents, in 2020, Trump, Giuliani, and Trump allies are all pushing the narrative about Biden in the public domain and seeking to dig up dirt about him in Ukraine.
  12. Also in 2020, Russia is much more overt in carrying out its influence operation, given the U.S. audience is more receptive. Russia has been using its state-run media RT and Sputnik News as part of its operation.
  13. On Friday, in tracking turnover in the Trump regime, the Brookings Institute found in his first three years in office, Trump’s “A Team” turnover is at 80% (52/65), with 35% of the positions undergoing serial turnover.
  14. On Monday, CNN reported the White House had gone 300 days without an official White House press briefing. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham has yet to hold a briefing.
  15. On Thursday, authors Stephen King and Don Winslow offered to donate $100,000 each in her name to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital if Grisham holds a press corp briefing for one hour.
  16. On Friday, NYT reported in addition to not holding press briefings, even as the nation was on the brink of war, Grisham has only appeared on Fox News, One America News Network, and Sinclair Broadcast.
  17. On Friday, 13 former White House and military officials, including White House press secretaries for the last three administrations, called for restoring press briefings in an open letter.
  18. They noted, “a well-informed citizenry would be better equipped to understand the difficult choices and decisions presidents must make, especially in times of crisis,” adding it “makes for better democracy.”
  19. On Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security said in a bulletin it had no information of “a specific, credible threat” from Iran, but added, “Iran and its partners” have the capability to conduct operations in the U.S.
  20. On Saturday, the website of the U.S. Federal Depository Library Program was briefly hacked, and the home page replaced with a pro-Iranian message and an image of bloodied Trump being punched in the face.
  21. On Saturday, Trump tweeted from Mar-a-Lago, “Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge,” saying Soleimani “was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits.”
  22. Trump threatened, “Let this serve as a WARNING” that if Iran strikes, “we have targeted 52 Iranian sites” — matching the number of American hostages taken in 1979 — including “high level” and cultural targets.
  23. Trump also tweeted, “those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD,” adding, “The USA wants no more threats!”
  24. Trump also tweeted, “They attacked us, & we hit back,” adding, “If they attack again, which I would strongly advise them not to do, we will hit them harder than they have ever been hit before!”
  25. On Saturday, in response, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted, “Targeting cultural sites is a WAR CRIME,” and predicted the “end of U.S. malign presence in West Asia has begun.”
  26. International law — the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict — prohibits “any act of hostility against fixed cultural property.
  27. On Saturday, NYT reported in response to Iran-led violence in Iraq, the Pentagon presented Trump with a menu of options, including Soleimani — the most extreme response to make other options appear more palatable.
  28. The day after the American contractor was killed, Trump did not take the option to kill Soleimani, but after watching news reports on the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, he took the extreme option, stunning top Pentagon officials.
  29. Trump took the action despite disputes within the regime about the significance of new intelligence, said to be thin, and information that the attack was not imminent since it was not yet approved by the ayatollah.
  30. Presidents Obama and W. Bush rejected the option of killing Soleimani, citing it would be too provocative. Trump regime officials said they did not anticipate sweeping retaliation because of divisions in Iranian leadership.
  31. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the loudest voice in pushing for the strike. Vice President Mike Pencealso pushed for a response, and his office helped run herd on meetings and conference calls leading up to the strike.
  32. On Saturday, the Trump regime sent Congress a formal, classified notification regarding the strike that killedSoleimani within the required 48-hour time window required by the War Powers Act.
  33. Later Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called releasing only a classified version “highly unusual,” and said, “Congress and the American people are being left in the dark about our national security.”
  34. Pelosi also said the notification “raises more questions than it answers,” and “prompts serious and urgent questions about the timing, manner and justification of the Administration’s decision to engage in hostilities.”
  35. U.S. officials who had been briefed on the strike said evidence there was to be an imminent attack on American targets is “razor thin,” and that Soleimani was planning to kill hundreds “an illogical leap.”
  36. On Sunday, Secretary of State Pompeo defended the strike on “Meet the Press,” saying, “It may be that there’s a little noise here in the interim, that the Iranians make a choice to respond.”
  37. Pompeo added, “the risk of doing nothing exceeded the risk of taking the action,” claiming there were plotsagainst American interests, and said, “We would have been culpably negligent had we not taken this action.”
  38. Pompeo also defended Trump’s threat to bomb cultural sites on “State of the Union,” saying, “If we need to defend American interests, we will do so,” adding, “the American people should know we will always defend them.”
  39. On Sunday, senior officials told CNN there is widespread opposition within the regime to targeting cultural sites, with one official saying, “Nothing rallies people like the deliberate destruction of beloved cultural sites.
  40. On Sunday, after golfing at Mar-a-Lago, Trump tweeted, the U.S. “spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment,” adding if Iran attacks, “we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way.”
  41. Trump also warned, “These Media Posts will serve as notification,” saying the U.S. will “fully strike back,” and “perhaps in a disproportionate manner,” adding, “Such legal notice is not required, but is given.”
  42. On Sunday, the Iranian government all but exited from the 2015 landmark nuclear agreement, saying, “Iran’s nuclear program will have no limitations in production, including enrichment capacity.”
  43. On Sunday, Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi advised parliament to expel U.S. troops after the strike which killed Soleimani and eight others, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of a powerful Iraqi militia.
  44. Abdul Mahdi told the parliament to take “urgent measures” to force the withdrawal of foreign forces, saying, “What happened was a political assassination,” adding, “Iraq cannot accept this.”
  45. Later Sunday, the Iraqi parliament passed a nonbinding resolution calling on the government to end the foreign troop presence; however, Abdul Mahdi, who resigned in November, could not sign the bill into law.
  46. On Sunday, a U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria halted its years-long campaign against ISIS, as the U.S. braced for retaliation from Iran. The U.S. pulled out 5,200 troops from Iraq, crippling the fights against ISIS.
  47. On Sunday, three Americans, including a U.S. service member and two civilian contractors working for the Pentagon, were killed at the Kenya Defense Force Military Base by terrorist group Al-Shabaab.
  48. Later Sunday, aboard Air Force One returning to Washington D.C., Trump doubled down on his threat to attack Iranian cultural sites, telling reporters, “They’re allowed to kill our people?”
  49. Trump added, “They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site?” adding, “It doesn’t work that way.”
  50. Trump also told reporters he would put “very big sanctions on Iraq” if the country forced out U.S. troops, saying, “if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis. We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever.”
  51. Trump also said he expected Iraq to compensate the U.S. for the air base there, saying of the base, “It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.”
  52. On Sunday, NYT reported more than 60 Iranian-Americans were held up for hours at Washington State’s border after returning from Canada, as the Department of Homeland Security ramped up security at border points.
  53. Most were released after being questioned for up to 10 hours over the weekend. An advocate called the reports “extremely troubling and potentially constitute illegal detentions of United States citizens.”
  54. On Sunday, Speaker Pelosi told House Democrats in a letter that the House will introduce and vote on a War Powers Resolution relating to Iran this week, similar to the one introduced by Tim Kaine in the Senate in Week 164.
  55. The resolution, to be led by Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a former CIA and Pentagon analyst, “reasserts Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities” by mandating Trump cease hostilities unless he gets Congressional approval.
  56. On Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff told “State of the Union” that Democrats are in no rush to turn over articles of impeachment, but adding, “I don’t think it’s going to be indefinite.”
  57. On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham told Fox News that Republicans should change the Senate rules and begin the impeachment trial, saying, “we’re not going to let Nancy Pelosi use the rules of the Senate to her advantage.”
  58. On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer backed Pelosi on “This Week” saying, “We need the truth, not a coverup, not a sham, not to have some nationally televised mock trial where there’s no evidence.”
  59. On Sunday, Schumer and Sen. Bob Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on the White House to declassify the War Powers Act Notification for Iran Military Action.
  60. On Monday, Secretary Pompeo told Fox Business News, referring to Trump’s January 5 tweet, that “Trump didn’t say he’d go after a cultural site. Read what he said very closely.” This is clearly a lie. Trump said it twice.
  61. On Monday, Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to Trump, also lied, telling reporters at the White House Briefing Room, “He didn’t say he’s targeting cultural sites.”
  62. On Monday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said “the laws of armed conflict” prohibit striking cultural sites, and said the Pentagon had no plans to do so despite Trump declaring them as targets.
  63. Esper also acknowledged striking cultural sites with no military value would be a war crime, breaking from Trump who said the sites are legitimate targets.
  64. On Monday, the Pentagon disputed that U.S. troops were leaving Iraq, after a letter was sent from Marine Brig. Gen. William Seely to Iraqi Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir outlining plans for troop departure.
  65. The draft letter, which was delivered, cited plans for “repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks,” and added, “We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure.”
  66. Esper and Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took the unusual step of hosting an impromptu press conference after the draft letter was leaked to the media.
  67. Milley called the letter a “mistake.” Esper said, “We are repositioning forces throughout the region number one,” adding, “That letter is inconsistent of where we are right now.” The letter added confusion to a murky situation.
  68. On Monday, WAPO reported after Trump’s threatening tweet, the senior regime officials began drafting possible sanctions against Iraq if it proceeded to expel U.S. troops.
  69. On Monday, on his first day back in Washington, Trump tweeted, “The Impeachment Hoax, just a continuation of the Witch Hunt which started even before I won the Election…must end quickly.”
  70. Trump added, “Read the Transcripts,” adding, “NO PRESSURE,” and, “get this done.” Trump also said he and Congress should not “be wasting their time” on the “totally partisan Impeachment Hoax.”
  71. Trump also tweeted, “IRAN WILL NEVER HAVE A NUCLEAR WEAPON!
  72. On Monday, former NSA John Bolton said he is “prepared to testify” in the Senate impeachment trial if subpoenaed, saying he has weighed the issues of executive privilege and after “careful consideration and study” decided he would comply.
  73. Bolton said he left a message for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell before issuing his statement. His willingness to appear complicated matters for McConnell and his attempts to hold a Senate impeachment trial without witnesses.
  74. Schumer said Bolton’s announcement provided “momentum for uncovering the truth in a Senate trial,” adding it is “now up to four Senate Republicans to support bringing in Mr. Bolton.”
  75. On Monday, Trump told Rush Limbaugh the whole process is “sad for our country,” adding Pelosi does not want a trial, saying, “She doesn’t want to get a vote because how could anybody possibly — it’s totally partisan.”
  76. On Monday, Politico reported despite Bolton’s willingness to testify, the GOP-led Senate was not planning to call him as moderate Republicans, four of which would be needed, backed away.
  77. On Monday, Sen. Josh Hawley announced a resolution to change Senate rules to allow the dismissal of articles of impeachment if they are not transmitted to the Senate within 25 days.
  78. Later Monday, Trump told reporters that Bolton “would know nothing about what we were talking about” if he testifies, and said it would be “up to the lawyers” and the Senate to decide whether Bolton appears.
  79. On Monday, NYT reported Pompeo met with McConnell in the afternoon to say he will not run for the U.S. Senate seat in Kansas.
  80. Later Monday, Trump again slammed Los Angeles and San Francisco, saying “the homeless situation” there, and in “many other Democrat Party run cities,” is a “state and local problem, not a federal problem.”
  81. Trump added, “If however, the city or state in question is willing to acknowledge responsibility, and politely asks for help from the Federal Government, we will very seriously consider getting involved.”
  82. On Saturday, NPR reported the Department of Homeland Security quietly posted on its website on December 27 that it agreed to share certain government records from its databases with the Census Bureau.
  83. With this step, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Custom and Border Patrol, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be sharing information with the Census Bureau to produce data about U.S. citizenship status.
  84. On Sunday, tens of thousands marched in New York City in a show of solidarity for New York’s Jewish community after a series of anti-Semitic attacks in a march organized by Jewish advocacy and community groups.
  85. On Tuesday, Cynthia Abcug, 50, was arrested in Colorado after authorities accused her of plotting with far-right QAnon conspiracy theorists to kidnap her child, who had been removed from her custody.
  86. On Thursday, Oregon man James Lamb, 53, was charged with attempted murder and a hate crime after breaking into a motel office, and beating a 70 year-old woman from India who owns the business.
  87. On Thursday, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant tweeted there will be “1000 Years of Darkness” if the state elects Mike Espy, who is a black man, as the state’s first black senator.
  88. On Friday, AP reported the Trump regime is considering dramatically expanding the travel ban heading into the election year. Sources say seven countries could be added to the list, a majority of which are Muslim.
  89. The current version of Trump’s ban includes seven countries, five of which are Muslim: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, as well as Venezuela and North Korea.
  90. On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott became the first governor of 43 states so far not to accept refugees, after a September 26 executive order signed by Trump gave states the option not to take refugees.
  91. The Trump regime has been blindsided, as 42 of the the 50 states, including 18 Republican governors, have opted to accept refugees. Seven Republican governors have yet to announce.
  92. Trump’s executive order capped refugees at 18,000, and added the condition that cities and states must give written confirmation by January 21 on whether they will accept refugees.
  93. The executive order has also been ignored by many local governments, even in areas that voted for Trump in 2016. Religious groups, especially evangelical leaders, have lobbied political leaders to accept refugees.
  94. On Sunday, Stephanie Hofeller, daughter of deceased prominent Republican redistricting strategist Thomas Hofeller, released a cache of computer files saved on his hard drives onto a public website.
  95. On Sunday, Donald Jr. posted a photo on Instagram of him holding an AR-15-style rifle featuring a magazine with an illustration of Hillary Clinton behind bars, along with the caption, “Nice day at the range.”
  96. On Monday, Rep. Paul Gosar tweeted a fake photo showing Obama smiling and shaking hands with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, with the caption, “The world is a better place without these guys in power.”
  97. On Tuesday, CNN confirmed it reached a settlement with Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann, who sued the network saying it defamed him. Terms were not disclosed. Sandmann also sued NBC and WAPO.
  98. On Monday, a bipartisan group of campaign finance lawyers urged the White House and congressional leaders to “work together and immediately” restore a quorum on the Federal Election Commission.
  99. The 31 attorneys noted the FEC cannot enforce the law, vote on investigations, provide guidance, or conduct audits. An August 2019 resignation left the agency without a quorum for the first time in 11 years.
  100. On Tuesday, federal prosecutors reversed course, recommending Trump’s former NSA Michael Flynn serve up to six months in prison, citing his failure to “accept responsibility” and “complete his cooperation.”
  101. On Wednesday, WAPO reported the Trump regime is seeking to delay disclosure of how much Secret Service spends to protect him and his adult children, information sought by Democrats, until after the 2020 election.
  102. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and senators are negotiating legislation to move Secret Service back to Treasury. Mnuchin has balked at Democrats’ demand that costs be disclosed within 120 days of it being passed.
  103. On Thursday, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge denied Trump’s bid to have E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit against him tossed out. Carroll said Trump hurt her career and reputation by denying her 1995 rape claim.
  104. On Thursday, Lt. Gen. Francis M. Beaudette, the commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, denied a Special Forces tab to retired Army Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, an officer who was pardoned by Trump.
  105. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Veterans groups say the Trump regime has ignored Russia and other foreign actors targeting U.S. troops and veterans with online disinformation for nearly two years.
  106. Agencies representing veterans and service members said disinformation could be weaponized to sow social discord in their communities. They said a December 18 letter to Trump on the matter has been ignored.
  107. On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Republican Party blocked Trump’s primary challengers, Bill Weld and Joe Walsh, from appearing on the state’s primary ballot, the tenth state to do so.
  108. On Wednesday, WAPO reported an article appearing on Teen Vogue praising Facebook for fighting misinformation ahead of the 2020 election was suddenly taken down without explanation.
  109. Facebook initially denied to WAPO that it had paid for the post, calling it “purely editorial,” but later in a statement, Facebook said it had “a paid partnership” with Teen Vogue, which included sponsored content.
  110. On Thursday, Facebook defied public outcry to rein in political ads, rolling out rules that will not limit political ad targeting tools or stop false claims in ads, but will rather allow users to control more of what they see.
  111. On Friday, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration referred findings from WNYC and ProPublica’s October reporting on the Trump Organization’s property tax filings to the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
  112. On Friday, Politico reported Peter Brimelow, an anti-immigration activist who hosts a website that has published the writings of white supremacists, sued the Times for $5 million for labeling him an “open white nationalist.”
  113. On Tuesday, Pompeo defended the strike, telling reporters that he and other officials “evaluated the relevant risks,” saying Soleimani’s activities “were going to lead potentially to the death of many more Americans.”
  114. Pompeo however did not repeat his assertion that an attack was “imminent,” instead saying, “If you’re looking for imminence, you need look no further than the days that led up to the strike.”
  115. On Tuesday, Iran foreign minister Zarif told “CBS This Morning” that Pompeo informed the U.N. secretary-general, who in turn informed him that the State Department would not grant him a visa for a U.N. visit.
  116. Zarif said the trip would give him a chance to discuss the targeted killing of Soleimani. A U.S. official told APthe application could not be processed in time for his travel, but made it unclear if the application was denied.
  117. Under the 1947 agreement, U.S. authorities “shall not impose any impediments to transit to or from” the U.N. headquarters for representatives of U.N. member nations, with few exceptions.
  118. Later Tuesday, Trump hosted Greece Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the White House. Trump said “We have a tremendous Greek population,” adding, “I really feel I know most of them. I think I know all of them.”
  119. Trump also told reporters on Soleimani, “He was a monster. And he’s no longer a monster; he’s dead,” and “he was planning a very big attack and a very bad attack for us and other people, and we stopped it.”
  120. Trump also said “we saved a lot of lives by terminating his life,” adding, “A lot of lives were saved. They were planning something, and you’re going to be hearing about it, or at least various people in Congress are going to.”
  121. Trump said of bombing cultural sites, “If that’s what the law is, I will…obey the law…But think of it: They kill our people, they blow up our people, and then we have to be very gentle with their cultural institutions.”
  122. Trump also claimed only Democrats running against him are against the attack, saying, “I don’t hear too many people other than politicians who are trying to win the presidency, those are the ones that are complaining.”
  123. On Tuesday, NYT reported the Trump campaign sought to capitalize on the Soleimani killing, running nearly 800 distinct Facebook ads, referring to Trump’s “leadership as commander in chief.”
  124. On Tuesday, at 5:30 p.m., Iran fired a series of ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq which housed American forces. The attack was Iran’s most direct assault since on the U.S. since the 1979 hostage taking.
  125. Shortly after, Saeed Jalili, former secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Council and nuclear negotiator, tweeted a photo of Iran’s flag, seeming to mock Trump for doing the same after the strike on Soleimani.
  126. Iranian state TV announced the strike was in revenge for the U.S. killing Soleimani, and came as Iran buried him. There was no immediate reports of casualties, but buildings were still being searched.
  127. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard warned the U.S. and its regional allies against retaliating on state TV, saying, “any territory that is the starting point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted.”
  128. WAPO reported Defense Secretary Esper, carrying a large dark bag, and Secretary Pompeo were seen entering the White House. Officials sought to portray that the situation was not spiraling out of control.
  129. The White House gave mixed messages, with some staff telling reporters Trump would address the nation in prime time, but later canceled. Press secretary Stephanie Grisham chastised CNN for reporting on the address.
  130. At 9:32 p.m., the Iranian Foreign Minister tweeted, “Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter,” adding, “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves.”
  131. At 9:45 p.m., after five days of tweeting dire threats, Trump tweeted, “All is well,” adding, “Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good!” and, “I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.”
  132. Later Tuesday, longtime NBC foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell told MSNBC that Trump has “the worse national security team I’ve ever seen,” citing the thinly staffed group and remaining yes men.
  133. WAPO reported more than half of Trump’s key national security advisers started their jobs in the past year. Key positions like director of national intelligence and secretary of DHS are filled by acting directors.
  134. Hours later, a Ukraine Airlines jet suddenly plummeted shortly after taking off from Tehran. Of the 176 on board, there were no survivors. The flight was bound for Kyiv, and was an American airplane, Boeing 737–800.
  135. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said passengers included 82 Iranians, 68 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 from Sweden, four from Afghanistan, three from Germany, and three from Britain.
  136. Iranian authorities said “technical” problems were the cause of the crash. Ukraine’s Embassy in Tehran initially concurred, but later took down their statement, raising questions about the cause of the crash.
  137. On Wednesday, the White House released a photo from the Situation Room on Tuesday night. Of the 14 principals in the room, all were white, and 13 were men (excluding press secretary Grisham).
  138. On Wednesday, Trump addressed the nation in a 10-minute speech just after 11 a.m. at the White House, flanked by Pence, Pompeo, Esper, and other seven other white male military officials.
  139. As Trump came to the podium, he opened with a forceful statement: “As long as I’m president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon,” but did not offer specifics during his speech.
  140. Trump appeared to seek to de-escalate, saying Tehran “appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned,” adding, “No American or Iraqi lives were lost because of the precautions taken.”
  141. Trump vowed to keep up the pressure on Iran with “punishing” new sanctions, and called Soleimani the “world’s top terrorist,” although he did not provide any information on the supposed imminent threat.
  142. Trump blamed Obama, repeating false claims that “hostilities substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2013, and they were given $150 billion, not to mention $1.8 billion in cash.”
  143. The $150 billion number is well overestimated and was unfrozen money. The $1.8 billion was money spent by Iran for undelivered U.S. weapons, and was settled in an international court, and the amount was actually $1.7 billion.
  144. Trump mischaracterized, “The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for by the funds made available by the last administration,” and falsely claimed “Iran’s hostilities increased” after the 2015 deal.
  145. Trump also falsely claimed that his regime had destroyed “100 percent of ISIS and its territorial caliphate,” saying, “Tens of thousands of ISIS fighters have been killed or captured during my administration.”
  146. Trump called on world powers, including the U.K., Germany, France, Russia, and China, to “break away from the remnants of” the nuclear deal. The deal was signed in 2015, not 2013 as Trump stated.
  147. After failing to notify allies of the strike, Trump noted, “I am going to ask NATO to become much more involved in the Middle East process,” but did not provide any details on how.
  148. Trump’s speech was notably incoherent, as he struggled with pronunciation and elocution while reading from the Teleprompter. He also sniffled or snorted 58 times, and stuck his tongue out.
  149. Later Wednesday, WAPO reported the White House knew on Tuesday morning an attack was coming from Iran, and by Tuesday afternoon were told by Iraqi officials that Iran intended to strike at U.S. facilities there.
  150. The attack appeared to be a calibrated event intended to cause minimal American casualties but let the U.S. know Iran had capabilities, and give both sides the opportunity to de-escalate.
  151. Later Wednesday, after the House was briefed, Speaker Pelosi announced the House would vote on a measure Thursday to force Trump to cease all military action against Iran unless he gets approval from Congress.
  152. Pelosi said in a statement that members had “serious, urgent concerns” about the Trump regime engaging in hostilities and “lack of strategy moving forward,” which were not addressed by the notification or briefing.
  153. Two Republican Senators, Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee, said they would join the House version when it came to the Senate, calling the briefing by Pompeo, Esper, and C.I.A. director Gina Haspel “insulting.”
  154. Lee added the message from the Trump regime is “to run along and be good little boys and girls and not debate” the justification for the strike, adding, “It’s un-American, it’s unconstitutional, and it’s wrong.”
  155. Later Wednesday, Trump ally Doug Collins told Fox Business News that Democrats are “in love with terrorists,” and claiming “they mourn Soleimani more than they mourn our Gold Star families.”
  156. Late Wednesday, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a lower court’s order that had blocked the Trump regime from using $3.6 billion of Pentagon money to build sections of his wall along the southern border.
  157. On Thursday, Pence falsely claimed on “TODAY” that the regime could not provide Congress with some of the “most compelling” intelligence on killing Soleimani, claiming it could compromise “sources and methods.”
  158. On Thursday, NYT reported that in the hours leading up to the attack, the White House team was thin, including a handful of seasoned military veterans, but also others who had little foreign policy experience.
  159. On Thursday, WSJ reported Trump’s new national security team was cohesive and less inclined to push back against his wishes than their predecessors. Sen. Graham said the new advisers “understand the president.”
  160. The new security team is also less likely to consult in advance with other members of the regime, Pentagon or State Department officials, congressional leaders, or foreign allies.
  161. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis had challenged Trump at times. Esper and Pompeo, who are West Point classmates, are in lock-step on Iran and do not push back at Trump. Gen. Milley is willing to take more risks than his predecessor.
  162. According to associates, Trump told them after the strike that he was under pressure from GOP Senators, whose support he needs during the impeachment trial, to deal with Soleimani.
  163. On Thursday, Trump then shifted the topic back to impeachment and his record ahead of the election in a series of morning tweets, tweeting, “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”
  164. Trump also tweeted of Pelosi, “remember her “speed & rush” in getting the Impeachment Hoax voted on & done. Well, she never sent the Articles to the Senate. Just another Democrat fraud. Presidential Harassment!”
  165. Trump also retweeted a doctored, red-tinted photo of Pelosi originally sent by Rep. Elise Stefanik as a fundraising appeal, saying, “Dems obsessed w/ impeachment but won’t send articles to the Senate. Why?”
  166. Trump also tweeted, “The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals just reversed a lower court decision & gave us the go ahead to build,” falsely claiming, “Entire Wall is under construction or getting ready to start!”
  167. Trump also bragged about stock market performance, tweeting, “STOCK MARKET AT ALL-TIME HIGH! HOW ARE YOUR 409K’S DOING? 70%, 80%, 90% up? Only 50% up!” then deleted it, and corrected to 401K.
  168. On Thursday, House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith told CNN it was time for Pelosi to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, saying, “let Mitch McConnell be responsible for the fairness of the trial.”
  169. Shortly after, in a tweet Smith said he had “misspoke,” saying, “I do believe we should do everything we can to force the Senate to have a fair trial,” saying he supports holding the articles if it will help force a fair trial.
  170. On Thursday, Majority Leader McConnell said the Senate will move forward with the “people’s business” next week if Pelosi does not send over the articles, and urged other Democrats to press her to do so.
  171. McConnell added, “Should future House majorities feel empowered to waste our time with junior varsitypolitical hostage situations?” and “trap our entire country into an unending Groundhog Day of impeachment.”
  172. On Thursday, in her weekly news conference, Pelosi continued to resist transmitting the articles, saying, “We need to see the arena to which we are sending our managers. Is that too much to ask?”
  173.  Pelosi also indicated the articles would probably go to the Senate soon, saying, “I’m not holding them indefinitely,” adding, “I’ll send them over when I’m ready. And that will probably be soon.”
  174. On Thursday, Sen.Hawley announced that McConnell backed his resolution to change the Senate rules to dismiss the impeachment if the House does not turn over articles. Ten other Republicans signed on as well.
  175. On Thursday, a USA Today/Ipsos poll found by 52%-34%, Americans called Trump’s behavior with Iran “reckless,” and 55%-24% believe the attack that killed Soleimani made Americans less safe.
  176. Nearly a third of Republicans said the attack had made the nation less safe. The poll also found by 52%-8%, Americans said the attack made it more likely that Iran would develop nuclear weapons.
  177. On Thursday, asked by reporters about Sen. Lee’s criticism of the Iran briefing, Trump said, “Other people have said it was the best presentation they’ve ever seen,” saying the military “didn’t want to give” all the information.
  178. Trump added, “We caught a total monster. We took them out. And that should have happened a long time ago,” adding, “We did it because they were looking to blow up our embassy” — the first mention of an embassy.
  179. Trump also told reporters he did not believe the plane crash in Iran was caused by mechanical failure, saying, “It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood and somebody could have made a mistake.”
  180. On Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters, “We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own” indicating “the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile.”
  181. Trudeau added, “This may well have been unintentional,” and said the new information reinforces the need “for a thorough investigation into this matter.”
  182. On Thursday, Iran denied its military was responsible. A government spokesman called it “a big lie,” blaming accusations on “psychological warfare” and adding the U.S. “is making the pain of the families worse.”
  183. Later Thursday, in a rebuke to Trump, the House voted 224-194 to approve a war powers resolution to restrict him on Iran, with eight Democrats voting against it, and three Republicans voting for.
  184. Earlier Thursday, Trump tweeted, “Hope that all House Republicans will vote against Crazy Nancy Pelosi’s War Powers Resolution.” The three Republicans voting for the resolution were Reps. Matt Gaetz, Thomas Massie, and Francis Rooney.
  185. The resolution directs Trump “to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran or any part of its government or military” unless Congress has given authorization.
  186. On Friday, WAPO reported Trump, and other Republicans in Congress, were furious with Trump ally Gaetz, who not only voted for the resolution, but also pushed other House Republicans to do the same.
  187. Gaetz’s legislative director emailed Republicans at 11 a.m.: “Reclaiming Congressional power is the Constitutional conservative position!” adding, “voting in favor of H. Con. Res. 83, and hope you will do the same!”
  188. A senior White House official said Gaetz’s move caught Trump by surprise, and called it “super uncool” and “quite unwise,” adding White House officials would not be returning Gaetz’s phone calls or text messages.
  189. On Thursday, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran, slammed Rep. Collins for saying Democrats love terrorists, telling CNN, “I left parts of my body in Iraq fighting terrorists. I don’t need to justify myself to anyone.”
  190. On Friday, Rep. Collins apologized, tweeting, “Let me be clear: I do not believe Democrats are in love with terrorists, and I apologize for what I said earlier this week.”
  191. On Thursday, Trump held his first 2020 campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio. Standing in front of a giant American flag, Trump bragged about killing Soleimani, calling him “the world’s top terrorist” and a “bad guy.”
  192. Trump also said of Soleimani, “He was a bloodthirsty terror and he’s no longer a terror,” adding, “the radical left Democrats have expressed outrage,” but “they should be outraged by Soleimani’s savage crimes.”
  193. Trump said, “that was going to be another Benghazi. Had they broken through the final panels of glass, they were breaking it, breaking it,” adding Soleimani was “actively planning new attacks.”
  194. Trump also said, “Soleimani was actively planning new attacks, and he was looking very seriously at our embassies,” and not just Baghdad, adding, “But we stopped him, and we stopped him quickly, and we stopped him cold.”
  195. Trump said Pelosi is “not operating with a full deck,” after which some in the crowd responded with cheers of “Lock her up!” Trump called Chair Adam Schiff “You little pencil neck,” and said he would probably leak to the press.
  196. Trump also said Democrats are “stone-cold crazy,” and “they want crime, they want chaos,” adding, “Gee, now I sort of understand why they hate me, right?…But it’s true. It’s true. Their policies are a disaster.”
  197. Trump spoke on immigration, saying, “Innocent Americans are being brutalized and murdered by illegal alien criminals,” mentioning a supposed crime and rape spree in Ohio, and calling them “animals.”
  198. Trump also claimed he played a role in the Nobel Peace Prize going to the Ethiopian prime minister, saying, “I made a deal, I saved a country,” and on the prize, “Did I have something to do with it? Yeah.”
  199. Earlier in the day, Trump took credit for a report showing the largest one-year decline in cancer rates, tweeting, “U.S. Cancer Death Rate Lowest In Recorded History! A lot of good news coming out of this Administration.”
  200. On Thursday, Pompeo told Fox News host Laura Ingraham, “there were a series of imminent attacks” being plotted by Soleimani, adding, “we don’t know precisely when and we don’t know precisely where, but it was real.”
  201. On Friday, at a White House press briefing, Pompeo told reporters, “We had specific information on an imminent threat, and those threats from him included attacks on U.S. embassies. Period. Full stop.”
  202. Pompeo’s statement was different from what he told Ingraham the night prior. When pressed, he said, “I don’t know exactly which minute. We don’t know exactly which day it would have been executed.”
  203. Pompeo added, “Soleimani himself was plotting a broad, large-scale attack against American interests, and those attacks were imminent,” including “embassies, military bases [and] American facilities” in the region.
  204. When asked why he and Trump mentioned embassies but Congress did not hear about that in a classified setting, Pompeo contradicted lawmakers, saying, “We did,” adding, “We told them about the imminent threat.”
  205. Several Democratic senators and representatives, including ranking member Sen. Menendez and Chair Smith, said they were not informed about a possible plot to blow up U.S. embassies.
  206. Shortly after, dictionary Merriam Webster tweeted, “We define ‘imminent’ as “ready to take place; happening soon.”” Other words of the week included ‘assassination,’ ‘mourn,’ and ‘de-escalate.’
  207. Later Friday, in an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, excerpts of which were released Friday afternoon, Trump said of the Soleimani threat, “I believe it probably would’ve been four embassies.”
  208. WAPO reported the State Department did not respond to questions whether alerts were conveyed to four embassies. The CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence also declined to comment.
  209. Senior regime officials say Trump is obsessed with not letting a Benghazi-like attack to happen while in office. An official said the embassy in Baghdad did not receive a threat commensurate to what Trump described.
  210. On Friday, Pelosi said in a letter the House will vote next week to send to the articles to the Senate. She noted “more than 70 percent of the public stating that the President should allow his top aides to testify.”
  211. Pelosi also attacked McConnell’s behavior, saying he “has been engaged in tactics of delay in presenting transparency, disregard for the American people’s interest for a fair trial and dismissal of the facts.”
  212. On Friday, Sen. Susan Collins told the Bangor Daily News that she is working with a “fairly small group” of fellow Republicans to ensure witnesses will be called in the Senate impeachment trial.
  213. On Friday, WAPO reported that on the day of the strike against Soleimani, the Trump regime also targeted Abdul Reza Shahlai, a financier and key commander in Iran’s elite Quds Force in Yemen, but that strike failed.
  214. The unsuccessful operation indicated that Soleimani’s death may have been part of a broader operation to weaken the leadership of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, not what has been communicated by Trump.
  215. On Friday, the Navy said a Russian navy ship had “aggressively approached” U.S. destroyer USS Farragut, while it was conducting routine operations in the North Arabian Sea on Thursday.
  216. The U.S. ship fired five warning blasts before the Russian ship ultimately changed its course, after initially refusing. A similar incident happened in June, when U.S. and Russian ships nearly collided in the Pacific.
  217. On Friday, police in Palm Beach arrested an Iranian man who was carrying $22,000 in cash and weapons, including a machete, pickax, and two knives near Mar-a-Lago, after receiving a call about a suspicious person.
  218. Later Friday, in his Fox News interview with Ingraham, Trump weighed in on Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, saying they would step back from royal duties, saying, “I think it’s sad.”
  219. Trump has called the Duchess, who is a black woman, “nasty,” and praised Queen Elizabeth II, saying, “She’s a great woman. She’s never made a mistake, if you look. She’s had like a flawless time.”
  220. Trump said of Bolton testifying, “You can’t be in the White House as president, future, I’m talking about future — any future presidents — and have a security adviser, anybody having to do with security, and legal…”
  221. After first saying he had “no problem” with Bolton testifying, when Ingraham asked if he would invoke executive privilege, Trump changed his position, “Well I think you have to for the sake of the office.”
  222. Trump said of Pelosi, “She is obsessed with impeachment, she has done nothing,” adding, “She is going to go down as one of the worst Speakers in the history of our country,” and “And she’s become a crazed lunatic.”
  223. Trump also falsely claimed, “My numbers are the highest they’ve ever been,” saying, “People love that we took out this horrible terrorist,” and adding, “a lot of it is because of the impeachment hoax.”
  224. Trump also claimed he left troops in Syria to take the oil, a war crime, saying, “And then they say he left troops in Syria. You know what I did? I left troops to take the oil. I took the oil.”
  225. When Ingraham asked to clarify and correct Trump’s statement, asking, “Not taking the oil, they’re not taking the oil,” he responded, “Well, maybe we will. Maybe we won’t,” and, “we’re protecting the oil. We have the oil.”
  226. Trump also said Saudi Arabia was paying for U.S. troops, saying ,“I said, listen, you’re a very rich country. You want more troops?” adding, “They’re paying us. They’ve already deposited $1B in the bank.”
  227. On Friday, WSJ reported that Trump allies are exploring a buyout of news channel One America News Network in an effort to shake up the conservative media market, which is dominated by Fox News.
  228. Investment firm Hicks Equity Partners, owned by the family of Thomas Hicks Jr., co-chair of the RNC and a close friend of Donald Jr., is pitching GOP wealthy donors to be part of a roughly $250 million deal.
  229. Later Friday, Iran admitted it shot down the Ukrainian airliner, saying the the shot was “unintentional” and blaming “human error,” after denying it for four days.
  230. Rouhani tweeted, “The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” and “My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families.” Iranian protestors called for him to step down.
  231. Pompeo tweeted a video of the protests, adding, “The voice of the Iranian people is clear. They are fed up with the regime’s lies, corruption, ineptitude and brutality” of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
  232. On Saturday, in a filing to the FISA court made public on Saturday, the FBI apologized for the way it conducted surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser during the 2016 election.
  233. FBI director Christopher Wray outlined steps taken by the bureau to ensure it does not happen again, saying, “The FBI has the utmost respect for this Court and deeply regrets the errors and omissions identified.”
  234. On Saturday, Trump tweeted to Wray, “Chris, what about all of the lives that were ruined because of the so-called “errors?” Are these “dirty cops” going to pay a big price for the fraud they committed?”
  235. Trump also tweeted, “Where have the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats gone when they have spent the last 3 days defending the life of Qassem Soleimani,” adding, “He was also looking to do big future damage!”
  236. Trump also tweeted, “New polling shows that the totally partisan Impeachment Hoax is going nowhere,” without citing a poll, and claiming, “A vast majority want the Do Nothing Democrats to move on.”
  237. Trump also tweeted, “95% Approval Rating in the Republican Party, a record. 53% Approval Rating overall (can we add 7 to 10 percent because of the Trump “thing?”).” There are no polls showing this to be true.
  238. Trump also tweeted, “Nancy Pelosi will go down as the absolute worst Speaker of the House in U.S. history!” This was the third time in two days that Trump has made this claim.
  239. Trump also tweeted, “Now the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, are asking @senatemajldr Mitch McConnell to do the job that they were unable to do,” adding, “They proved NOTHING but my total innocence.”
  240. On Friday, WAPO reported Iraq’s caretaker PM Adel Abdul Mahdi asked Pompeo in a call on Thursday to begin talks about a “mechanism” for U.S. troops to withdraw after the vote by their parliament.
  241. In response, Pompeo said in a defiant statement, “At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicatedto discussing how best to recommit to our strategic partnership — not to discuss troop withdrawal.”
  242. On Saturday, WSJ reported the Trump regime warned Iraq that it could shut down Iraq’s access to the country’s central bank account held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, if U.S. troops are told to leave.
  243. Iraq maintains government accounts at the New York Fed as a way to manage the country’s finances, including from oil sales. Cutting off access to these funds could jolt Iraq’s already shaky economy.

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Trump addresses the nation from the White House on the ballistic missile strike that Iran launched against Iraqi air bases housing U.S. troops, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and military leaders, looks on.

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 162: “ABUSE OF POWER & OBSTRUCTION OF CONGRESS”

DECEMBER 14, 2019

Week 161 – (*list is from Amy Siskind – photos of political art from me)

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll rememberhttps://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-161/
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Cocoa Beach, FL 13nov19

This week, the House Judiciary Committee debated and voted to approve two articles of impeachment against Donald J. Trump, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. After two fiery days of debate, the panel took a somber vote Friday, marking the fourth time in U.S. history the Judiciary passed articles of impeachment. Remarkably, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell appeared on Fox News the night prior, saying he was in “total coordination” with the White House, and there was “zero chance” Trump would be removed from office.

On the same day Democratic House leadership announced the House would move forward on impeachment, Trump hosted Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office, closed to U.S. press. Notably, the day prior, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has yet to be invited to the White House, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris, without Trump issuing any sort of statement or tweet in support of Ukraine.

This week the Justice Department Inspector General report was released, and although IG Mike Horowitz found no political bias and said the FBI was justified in opening its investigation, Trump and Attorney General William Barr both publicly disparaged the report. Former AG Eric Holder called on Barr to step down.

With impeachment in full gear, Trump, who fears the stain on his legacy, while portraying strength, has taken to binge tweeting — on one day alone tweeting or retweeting 123 times. The full House will vote on impeachment next Wednesday, and as the week came to a close, only one moderate House Democrat had defected.

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Orlando, FL 1dec19. Artist: Andrew Spear

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New York City 26nov19

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New York City 22nov19

  1. On Wednesday, Time named public servants who testified in the impeachment probe as the “Guardians of the Year 2019,” including Fiona Hill, Marie Yovanovitch, Alexander Vindman, William Taylor, and others.
  2. On Thursday, WAPO reported Trump is ramping up the number of tweets he sends since the impeachment inquiry got underway. In the seven days ending on Thursday, he averaged roughly 60 tweets and retweets per day.
  3. The monthly tweeting during impeachment is Trump’s busiest, with over 1,000 tweets in October. The uptick started in April with the release of the Mueller report, as Trump exceeded 500 tweets, his highest since midterms.
  4. The month of December has spiked further, with an average of more than 40 tweets and retweets per day. The only other prior month since 2016 with over 30 tweets and retweets was in October 2019.
  5. Thursday was Trump’s busiest day of tweeting to date: with 89 tweets and retweets in the first three hours of the day, 123 overall. He also sent nine tweets shortly after noon, while receiving his intelligence briefing.
  6. On Saturday, the Boston Globe Editorial Board called for impeachment, saying Trump’s actions with foreign states are “an outrageous betrayal,” and that he “betrayed the US taxpayer” to advance his corrupt agenda.
  7. On Tuesday, the WAPO Editorial Board called for impeachment, saying despite “unprecedented stonewalling” that “more than enough proof exists” for the House to impeach Trump.
  8. On Wednesday, the USA Today Editorial Board called for impeachment, saying Trump’s “Ukraine shakedown and stonewalling are too serious for the House to ignore.”
  9. On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Board called for impeachment, saying, “Such an act of tyranny is what the Constitution was created to protect against.”
  10. On Thursday, the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board, in Florida where Trump now has his primary residence, called for Trump to be impeached, and for the Senate to remove him from office.
  11. On Friday, the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board called for Trump’s impeachment, adding “we hope the impeachment process and a trial in the Senate will give voters a more complete picture of Trump’s conduct.”
  12. On Thursday, the board of the nonpartisan ACLU voted 55-2 to adopt a resolution supporting impeachment for the second time in the organization’s 99-year history, citing “the extraordinary circumstances.”
  13. On Friday, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said in a speech that Trump “is engaged in the most direct, sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history,” adding his “attacks have done some damage.”
  14. On Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence’s office turned down a request from House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff for information on a call between Pence and Ukrainian President Zelensky made in Week 160.
  15. Pence’s office cited Schiff “continues to operate in an underhanded manner,” claiming Pence “does not even know what he wants declassified.” Pence aide Jennifer Williams divulged the September 18 call.
  16. On Saturday, at a State Department reception for the Kennedy Center Honorees, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo quipped, “When will I be loved?” Honoree Linda Ronstadt later responded when he stops “enabling Donald Trump.”
  17. On Saturday, BuzzFeed reported Carla Sand, U.S. ambassador to Denmark, banned Stanley Sloan, a NATO expert who is a critic of Trump, from speaking at a Copenhagen event celebrating NATO’s 70th anniversary.
  18. On Saturday, “Fox & Friends” co-host Pete Hegseth said he was banned from Twitter after sharing a manifesto written by Pensacola shooter Mohammed Alshamrani, adding, “Big tech does the bidding of the Left.”
  19. On Saturday, Trump told reporters, “I have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un,” adding, “He knows I have an election coming up. I don’t think he wants to interfere with that, but we’ll have to see.”
  20. Trump said of the shooting at the naval base in Pensacola, “I spoke with the King of Saudi Arabia. They are devastated in Saudi Arabia,” adding, “the King will be involved in taking care of families and loved ones.”
  21. Ask about Rudy Giuliani’s trip, Trump said “he came back from someplace, and he’s going to make a report, I think to the Attorney General and to Congress,” claiming, “I have not spoken to him about that information.”
  22. Trump also headlined a closed-door Republican dinner in Aventura, Florida, where he brought army officersClint Lorance and Mathew Golsteyn, whom he recently pardoned, on-stage, and openly mocked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
  23. On Saturday, in a speech to the Israeli-American Council, Trump mused, “You’re not going to vote for the wealth tax” of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, repeating the racist nickname, “You’re not going to vote for Pocahontas.”
  24. Trump also said, “A lot of you are in the real estate business because I know you very well. You’re brutal killers, not nice people at all. But you have to vote for me, you have no choice.”
  25. Several Jewish leaders and organizations criticized Trump for trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes. The American Jewish Committee cited “money references that feed age-old and ugly stereotypes.”
  26. Trump also mused at the event about not leaving office after two terms, saying, “A lot of them say, ‘you know he’s not leaving’ … So now we have to start thinking about that, because it’s not a bad idea.”
  27. On Sunday, when asked if he spoke to Lev Parnas, Rep. Devin Nunes told Fox Business, “I got a call from a number that was Parnas’s wife,” claiming he did not know the person on the phone, so he “put them to staff.”
  28. On Sunday, Trump sent more than 100 tweets and retweets — his most in a single day so far and four times his daily average — attacking the impeachment inquiry and top Democrats.
  29. Trump also attacked Fox News, tweeting, “Don’t get why @FoxNews puts losers on like @RepSwalwell,” saying, “The Dems wouldn’t let @FoxNews get near their bad ratings debates,” adding, “yet Fox panders. Pathetic!”
  30. Earlier, “Fox News Sunday” hosted Rep. David Cicilline, a House Judiciary member, who said Trump’s actions were “a classic example” and that “all of the potential articles of impeachment are on the table.”
  31. Trump also quoted Sen. Ted Cruz from his appearance on “Meet the Press,” tweeting, “Any president has the authority to investigate corruption,” and “The President himself released the transcript of the call.”
  32. Trump also quoted Cruz, tweeting, “This is a kangaroo court in the House,” saying Democrats are impeaching “because they hate the president,” and, “this is Democrats putting on a circus.”
  33. On Sunday, WAPO reported Giuliani, while having a cybersecurity contract with Qatar in 2017 and early 2018, tried to replace Trump’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to Qatar in late 2018.
  34. Giuliani pushed for Scott Taylor, a former Virginia congressman, who he said would be more supportive of Trump’s agenda, highlighting Giuliani’s dual role marketing his access and being a shadow foreign policy adviser.
  35. In November 2018 Trump nominated Mary Catherine Phee, a talented diplomat, to the role vacant since June 2017. Her nomination expired, and Trump did not renominate her. The role remains vacant.
  36. On Sunday, WAPO reported as the FBI found the Pensacola shooting was terrorism on Sunday, Trump continued his defense of Saudis, while even his close allies called for a reassessment of the U.S.-Saudi relationship.
  37. Trump, who typically would jump to label shooting by a foreigner from a Muslim-majority country as terrorism, continued to refrain and has yet to make a public call for full cooperation by the Saudis.
  38. On Sunday, Trump warned in a pair of tweets that Kim Jong Un could “void” their “special relationship” after North Korea claimed it carried out a “very important test” at its missile-engine test site.
  39. Trump also tweeted, “Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way,” adding, “He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore.”
  40. On Monday, a senior North Korean official called Trump a “heedless and erratic old man,” and said he should “think twice if he does not want to see bigger catastrophic consequences.”
  41. On Monday, the Trump regime blocked a United Nations Security Council meeting scheduled on Human Rights Day to discuss human rights abuses in North Korea, the second year in a row the Trump regime has done so.
  42. On Monday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway claimed without evidence on “Fox & Friends” the impeachment inquiry is helping Trump in battleground states, saying Democrats are making him into a “victim.”
  43. On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee held impeachment hearings. Lawyers on both sides from the House Intelligence Committee presented their findings, and were questioned by lawmakers and Judiciary lawyers.
  44. Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman argued Trump “directed a scheme” to pressure Ukraine to open investigations, and he “used his office” to withhold an Oval Office meeting and military aid to pressure Ukraine.
  45. Goldman also said that “everyone was in the loop,” and that “despite the public discovery of this scheme, which prompted the president to release the aid, he has not given up.”
  46. Republicans repeatedly interrupted the hearing, and argued Zelensky did not feel pressured, that Ukraine did not know aid was held up, and the aid was eventually released without any announcement of an investigation.
  47. Republican counsel Stephen Castor mostly attacked Democrats for the way they conducted the probe, rather than focus on Trump’s actions. They also claimed Trump was justified in investigating corruption in Ukraine.
  48. Democrat Judiciary counsel Barry Berke called Trump’s acts “brazen” and said “the evidence is overwhelming,” and that the the facts were “uncontradicted” and “cannot be disputed.”
  49. Berke played clips of Trump asking Russia to release Hillary’s emails, and then of Trump telling reporters he wanted Ukraine to investigate Biden, saying the House must act now because Trump is trying to corrupt 2020.
  50. Berke said Trump “really does believe he can act as though he were above the law,” and “can put his personal and political interests over the nation’s interests, over the nation’s national security interests, over the nation.”
  51. An hour into the hearings, Trump tweeted “Witch Hunt!” followed by a storm of tweets including “The Do Nothing Democrats are a disgrace!” and “Read the Transcripts!”
  52. On Monday, NYT reported that Attorney General William Barr decided to make additional details about dossier-author Christopher Steele public as part of the release of the DOJ IG report.
  53. IG Mike Horowitz notified Christopher Steele on Sunday that the DOJ had allowed for the release of the information. Steele was not given details about the information, or how it would affect the report’s portrayal of him.
  54. The late notification was highly unusual given that witnesses interviewed, including Steele, had been given an opportunity to review and comment. The additional information on Steele was originally blacked out.
  55. On Monday, the DOJ IG released its highly anticipated report. The 434-page report concluded the FBI had an “authorized purpose” when it initiated its investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign.
  56. The IG examined over one million documents, and interviewed over 100 witnesses, saying, “We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions”
  57. The report debunked conspiracy theories promoted by Trump, his allies, and Republicans that the investigation was launched out of animus against Trump, or that the FBI broke its own rules on using informants.
  58. However, the IG report also found as the FBI renewed its FISA application to surveil Carter Page, officials emphasized damaging information on Trump associates and played down exculpatory evidence.
  59. The IG report found 17 errors or omissions by the FBI as it sought approval to conduct surveillance on Pagein applications filed in the secret FISA court.
  60. The report also found the Steele dossier was not as reliable a source as officials described to the court. Horowitz launched a broader audit of FISA work to study how systematic FISA applications problems might be.
  61. Trump told reporters, “It is incredible. Far worse than I ever would’ve thought possible. It’s an embarrassment to our country, it’s dishonest. It’s everything that a lot of people thought it would be, except far worse.”
  62. Trump added, “This was an overthrow of government, this was an attempted overthrow,” and “I look forward to the Durham report, which is coming out in the not-too-distant future. He’s got his own information.”
  63. Barr issued a statement, saying, “The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient.”
  64. Durham also took the unusual step of issuing a statement, saying, “our investigation is ongoing,” and “We do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”
  65. The draft of the report had a footnote which noted Horowitz asked Durham whether he had evidence to support the conspiracy theory on Joseph Mifsud and he did not. That footnote was not in the final report.
  66. On Monday, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said on-air of the IG report, “this comes against the backdrop of Donald Trump talking about the investigation of him in 2016 as a political hit job.”
  67. Wallace added, “At one point, he talked about President Obama ordering the wiretapping of the Trump Tower,” but said of the report, “the headline is they didn’t find the things that Bill Barr and Donald Trump alleged.”
  68. On Monday, former FBI director James Comey said his scheduled appearance on “Fox & Friends” for Tuesday had been canceled, saying he offered to “answer their questions,” but they “must have read the report.”
  69. Shortly after, FBI director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee, was asked in an ABC News interview whether he thought the FBI unfairly targeted the Trump campaign. Wray responded, “I do not.”
  70. Asked about 2016 interference, Wray said, “We have no information that indicates that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 presidential election,” adding for 2020, “we think Russia represents the most significant threat.”
  71. Wray said the IG report found “the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization,” but also found some actions “unacceptable and unrepresentative of who we are as an institution.”
  72. Wray said he would address the “serious performance failures” found in the IG report, adding, “In my view, every error and omission is significant and it’s something we need to take seriously.”
  73. Wray said Trump invoking a “Deep State” out to get him was “a disservice to the men and women who work at the FBI,” saying it is “not a term I would use” and is “an affront to them.”
  74. On Monday, ABC News reported that Ivanka Trump met with British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who ran the Russia desk, when he left covert service and moved to private practice in 2010.
  75. Ivanka also stayed in touch with Steele, exchanging two additional emails, but the two did not work together. Steele told investigators he met with “a Trump family member at Trump Tower and had ‘been friendly’” with the family member for years.
  76. On Monday, ABC News also reported Giuliani said on a radio show he plans to transmit his “report” based on his recent Ukraine visit to AG Barr and to Republicans in Congress by the end of the week.
  77. Giuliani also hinted on the radio show hosted by Steve Bannon and Jason Miller that he may have spoken to Trump: “I haven’t been able to describe it to him in person, but it makes everything he did absolutely justified.”
  78. Late Monday, CNN reported at a private evening meeting between Speaker Pelosi and her leadership team, House Democrats decided to move forward with at least two articles of impeachment.
  79. A third article, obstruction of justice, was debated, but concern was getting moderate Democrats on board. House Democrats announced a news conference on Capitol Hill to share the next steps on Tuesday morning.
  80. Later Monday, AP reported the House would move forward on two articles, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Trump did not respond on Twitter as the news came out Monday night.
  81. On Tuesday, Speaker Pelosi and leaders of six key committees said Trump’s actions towards Ukraine and efforts to block Congress from investigating left them no choice but to pursue impeachment.
  82. Chair Jerrold Nadler said Trump “holds the ultimate public trust. When he betrays that trust and puts himself before country, he endangers the Constitution, he endangers our democracy and he endangers our national security.”
  83. Chair Schiff said, “The argument ‘Why don’t you just wait’ amounts to this: ‘Why don’t you just let him cheat in one more election?’” adding, “Why not let him have foreign help just one more time?”
  84. On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee released a nine-page draft of the two articles of impeachment, accusing Trump of carrying out a “scheme” to benefit his own re-election, rather than the country.
  85. The draft stated, “Trump used the powers of the Presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States democratic process.”
  86. The draft also stated, “In the history of the republic, no president has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House.”
  87. The draft was released ahead of a House Judiciary Committee meeting late Wednesday, in which the committee was set to debate the charges, before the committee was set to vote on the charges on Thursday.
  88. In reaction, Trump tweeted, “Nadler just said that I “pressured Ukraine to interfere in our 2020 Election.” Ridiculous,” claiming Zelenksy said there “WAS NO PRESSURE,” and “Nadler and the Dems know this.”
  89. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham accused Democrats of “manufacturing an impeachment inquiry and forcing unfounded accusations,” saying Trump will “address these false charges in the Senate.”
  90. Trump’s campaign war room account tweeted a video of Trump’s face superimposed onto the body of the Marvel Comics supervillain Thanos, citing the “sham impeachment,” and adding, “Trump’s reelection is inevitable.”
  91. As the House unveiled impeachment articles, Trump met with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office for the first time since May 2017 after he fired Comey. The meeting was closed to U.S. press.
  92. The White House claimed they discussed arms control, denuclearization of North Korea, Iran’s nuclear program and trade, and that Trump warned him about election interference. Secretary Pompeo was also in the meeting.
  93. Trump tweeted a photo with Lavrov at his desk, saying, “Just had a very good meeting,” and, “Discussed many items including Trade, Iran, North Korea, INF Treaty, Nuclear Arms Control, and Election Meddling.”
  94. Shortly after, at a press conference at the State Department with Lavrov, Pompeo said, “On the question of interference in our domestic affairs, I was clear it’s unacceptable, and I made our expectations of Russia clear.”
  95. Lavrov said, “We have highlighted once again that all speculations about our alleged interference in domestic processes in the United States are baseless,” adding, “There are no facts that would support that.”
  96. Later at a press conference at the Russian embassy, Lavrov contradicted Trump, telling reporters the two had “not discussed elections,” then when pressed again, he gave a second answer that was more obtuse.
  97. Trump and Pompeo came under fire for meeting with Lavrov in the Oval Office one day after the first talks between Zelensky and Putin in Paris. Zelensky still has not been invited to meet Trump at the White House.
  98. On Wednesday, Pompeo told reporters, “Trump made clear in the meeting that he had with Foreign Minister Lavrov and the rest of the Russian team…America finds their meddling in our elections unacceptable.”
  99. On Wednesday, Daily Beast reported Ukrainian officials had hoped for a statement of support from Trump ahead of Zelenksy’s meeting with Putin, and had been watching Trump’s Twitter feed over the weekend.
  100. One official in the Zelensky administration said based on “the signals we got, we firmly believed there would be a statement.” Officials say Trump’s silence and meeting with Lavrov send “a terrible signal.”
  101. On Tuesday, GOP senator Mike Crapo blocked a bill re-introduced by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D)and Sen. Marco Rubio (R), meant to prevent Russia and other countries from interfering in elections.
  102. Crapo, Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, said the Senate already passed sanctions targeting Russia in 2017, adding Trump “has probably put more sanctions on the Russians than any president in our history.”
  103. On Wednesday, the Kremlin announced Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged on a phone call to continue military cooperation.
  104. The call came after the Senate Armed Services Committee backed a resolution to impose sanctions on Turkey for its offensive in Syria, and for the use of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.
  105. On Thursday, over the objection of Trump and Turkey, the Senate unanimously passed the Armenian genocide resolution, after Republican Senators blocked it on the three occasions at the behest of the White House.
  106. On Tuesday, Trump also lashed out at Wray, tweeting, “I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me.”
  107. Trump also threatened to fire Wray, tweeting: “With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!”
  108. Giuliani also attacked him, saying, “Wray is wrong, he hasn’t investigated anything, he doesn’t know,” adding the FBI blocks any information “that would demonstrate the high level of corruption and collusion.”
  109. On Tuesday, Barr told NBC News that Horowitz used a standard that was “deferential” to the FBI, and a final judgement cannot be made until Durham completes his work, which he expects will be a “watershed.”
  110. Barr added, “our nation was turned on its head for three years based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by a completely irresponsible press,” and the FBI may have acted in “bad faith.”
  111. When asked about the debunked claim Ukraine meddled in 2016, Barr said, “I am confident the Russians attempted to interfere…I don’t know about the Ukrainians,” adding, “I haven’t even looked into it, frankly.”
  112. On Tuesday, Politico reported a group of 10 vulnerable House Democrats whose districts are pro-Trump floated the idea of censure instead of impeachment at the Monday meeting. Pelosi has ruled out a censure.
  113. Later Tuesday, Trump and Pence held a rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania. In one of his most fiery speeches yet, Trump spoke for 65-minutes railing against Democrats, impeachment, law enforcement, and the media.
  114. Trump dismissed the inquiry against him as “impeachment crap,” and called the articles “flimsy, pathetic, ridiculous,” and “the lightest impeachment in the history of the country, by far.”
  115. Trump said Democrats are “impeaching me because they want to win an election and that’s the only way they can do it,” and that “the impeachment hoax is about overturning your great 2016 vote.”
  116. Trump said House Democrats are “embarrassed by the impeachment” but “the silver lining” is “that’s the reason they approved USMCA.” Earlier Tuesday, McConnell said he would not take USMCA forward this year.
  117. Trump said of his re-election, a “battle is the survival of the American nation itself,” and mused about ripping up the Constitution and serving 29 years: “Should we give it a shot? Maybe we will. I’m only kidding.”
  118. Trump said of the IG report, “The FBI also sent multiple undercover human spies to surveil and record people associated with our campaign,” saying they “destroyed the lives of people that were great people.”
  119. Trump called FBI agents scum, saying, “Their lives have been destroyed by scum,” repeating, “okay, by scum,” and attacked Wray again, saying, “You have great people in the FBI, but not in leadership.”
  120. Trump noted the DOJ IG was appointed by Obama, referencing him as “Barack Hussein Obama,” and hyped the upcoming report by Durham, calling him “Bull Durham.”
  121. Trump spread unsourced claims about Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, saying, “Did I hear he needed a restraining order after this whole thing, from Lisa? That’s what I heard. I don’t know if it’s true.” Page tweeted it was a “lie.”
  122. On Tuesday, Trump allies in the Senate said they may not call witnesses in hopes of expediting the trial, which is expected to begin in January after the holiday recess. Sen. Kevin Cramer said calling witnesses would be “risky.”
  123. Trump was said to want a lengthy trial, with witnesses including Joe and Hunter Biden and Schiff. McConnell called that idea, in a closed-door meeting with his caucus, “mutually assured destruction.”
  124. On Tuesday, a poll by Hill-HarrisX found Trump’s approval with independent voters is dipping amid impeachment: from 44% approval in early November to 39% approve, 56% disapprove.
  125. On Sunday, NYT reported the Trump regime will block the World Trade Organization from appointing new members to a crucial panel that hears trade disputes. This is the second year the regime will do so.
  126. The panel is a seven-member body, with only three members left, two of whose terms expire Tuesday, leaving the group without a quorum for hearing international trade disputes.
  127. The move by Trump could spell the demise of the 24 year-old WTO, as Trump wages his trade wars. Trump took similar steps of not appointing replacements to de-fang the Federal Election Commission in Week 148.
  128. On Monday, in a 103-page filing made public, Amazon Web Services claimed that it lost the JEDI contract, worth as much as $10 billion, because of Trump’s attack on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
  129. The filing claimed Trump “made no secret of his personal dislike” for Bezos by publicly criticizing him, then “used his office” to prevent AWS from winning the contract, including “behind-the-scenes attacks” against AWS.
  130. Amazon called on the Defense Department to terminate the award, and conduct another review of the submitted proposals. A Pentagon spokesperson denied any “external influences” on the award decision.
  131. On Monday, an analysis by the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland campaign found American companies paid a record $7.2 billion in import taxes in October, twice the monthly average before Trump began imposing tariffs.
  132. The group found Trump’s tariffs have added $42 billion in import taxes overall. Small business owners said, “We’re paying the taxes, not China,” and, “This trade war has lasted long enough and done enough damage.”
  133. On Monday, Russia was banned from the Olympics for four years for tampering with doping tests. Russian President Putin said Russia had grounds to appeal, and said the ban violated the Olympic charter.
  134. On Monday, WAPO reported according to a DOJ spokesperson, AG Barr rescheduled his holiday party for 200 guests that was set to take place at the Trump Hotel DC on Sunday.
  135. The spokesperson said the new date would not be disclosed but it would take place at Trump Hotel DC. Protests were expected. The DOJ claimed Trump Hotel DC was not Barr’s first choice for venue.
  136. On Monday, HuffPost reported in a letter to Trump spearheaded by Sen. Kamala Harris, 27 Democratic Senators called for “the immediate removal” of Stephen Miller as a White House advisor.
  137. The letter cited leak emails, showing what is driving Miller is “not national security, it’s white supremacy,” adding he “is unfit to serve in any capacity at the White House, let alone as a senior policy adviser.”
  138. On Monday, Houston police chief Art Acevedo blasted “smug” McConnell, Cornyn, and Cruz for gun control inaction after a sergeant was shot dead, saying they “don’t want to piss off the NRA.”
  139. On Monday, New York AG Letitia James issued a new subpoena to the National Rifle Association covering at least four areas, including campaign finance, payments to board members, and tax compliance.
  140. On Tuesday, Trump paid $2 million to eight charities as part of the settlement for misuse of funds in his foundation. Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka were ordered go through mandatory training to ensure they don’t repeat the conduct.
  141. On Tuesday, in a filing, federal prosecutors recommended that Rick Gates gets probation, citing he continued to cooperate with Mueller even after getting pressure not to and offers of monetary assistance.
  142. On Tuesday, Lisa Page sued the DOJ and FBI for alleged violations of the Privacy Act by unlawfully disclosing information about her — a 90 page document including 375 text messages — to reporters.
  143. On Tuesday, Rep. Ted Yoho said he would not seek re-election in 2020, becoming the 23rd Republican to do so.
  144. On Wednesday, a federal judge rejected the Trump regime’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit by watchdog groupsAmerican Oversight and Democracy Forward seeking notes of Trump’s face-to-face meetings with Putin.
  145. The groups argued Pompeo violated the Federal Records Act by allowing Trump to confiscate meeting notes prepared by State Department staffers, and by not preserving them. The judge was a Trump appointee.
  146. On Tuesday, Fox affiliate KTVI reported a Missouri teacher gave fifth-graders an assignment, asking them to set a hypothetical value on slaves. The district has placed the teacher on administrative leave.
  147. On Tuesday, a federal judge in Texas said the Trump regime could not use $3.6 billion of military construction funds to build Trump’s wall along the southern border, saying Trump overstepped his authority.
  148. The ruling impacted one set of Pentagon funds, leaving three others ruled on by the Supreme Court in place. The lawsuit was file by El Paso County and Border Network for Human Rights.
  149. Pelosi said in a statement: “Once again, the courts have resoundingly ruled against the President’s attempt to negate our system of separation of powers,” and “Article II does not mean that he can ‘do whatever he wants.’”
  150. On Tuesday, NBC News reported the Pentagon IG opened a review to determine if Trump’s deployment of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border is legal, three months after 30 members of Congress requested it.
  151. The review will examine whether the deployment violates a law prohibiting active duty military troops from carrying out law enforcement duties, and will examine the troops’ activities, training, and the cost.
  152. On Wednesday, six doctors who wanted to give flu shots to migrant children at a detention center in Chula Vista, California were arrested by Customs and Border Protection after being turned away and lying down in protest.
  153. On Wednesday, NPR reported newly obtained internal emails from the Education Department revealed career department officials sided with defrauded students over Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos.
  154. In the cases of more than 200,000 borrowers, DeVos sided with for-profit colleges, saying students “got value” from the schools. Students claim the schools lied about job prospects and the transferability of credits.
  155. DeVos has the power to override staffers, and has done so. On Tuesday the department came out with a new plan to calculate how much debt relief, if any, students get. Most are unlikely to qualify for full relief.
  156. On Wednesday, ProPublica reported Donald Jr. shot and killed an endangered sheep on a trip to Mongolia in August 2019, and got a permit after the hunt, a rare occurrence. A total of 86 permits were given last year.
  157. Following the hunt, Donald Jr. met with Mongolia’s president, Khaltmaagiin Battuiga, before the leaving the country. He was given a permit on September 2.
  158. On Thursday, USA Today reported four months before Donald Jr.’s trip, the Mongolian ambassador and foreign minister visited Mar-a-Lago. It is unclear if Donald Jr, who was also there for Easter, met the officials.
  159. On Thursday, NBC News reported that the Pentagon IG will review the Army Corps of Engineers decision in Week 160 to award a $400 million contract to Fisher Sand & Gravel, after the company was touted by Trump.
  160. On Friday, NYT reported immense amounts of methane gas are escaping from oil and gas sites nationwide, while Trump’s EPA weakens regulations. Visual imagery showed gas, which worsens global warming, seeping out.
  161. Fossil fuel companies contacted the Trump regime in March 2017 and argued for the rollback of methane emissions rules. In March 2018, industry lobbyists rebutted scientific evidence of large fugitive emissions.
  162. In August, the Trump regime proposed a broad rollback, rescinding direct regulations of methane emissions completely, and claiming companies would want to minimize leaks since methane is a valuable resource.
  163. On Wednesday, Trump sent more than 40 tweets and retweets on a variety of subjects, mostly related to impeachment and the DOJ IG report, before 9:30 a.m. ET.
  164. On Wednesday, AP reported Trump and his allies are continuing to work to delegitimize the impeachment inquiry, calling it a “circus” and a “farce,” and insist that Trump did not a single thing wrong.
  165. His allies have glossed over Trump’s abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, instead stonewalling, using schoolyard tactics and taunts, and mocking and complaining about the process.
  166. Trump ally America First Policies conducted focus groups on independents, and found frustration with Congress and “endless investigations.” The attack strategy is to keep independents skeptical.
  167. On Wednesday, Sinclair Broadcasting said it was dropping Boris Epshteyn and other political analysts in as part of a company-wide effort to move away from political commentary in favor of investigative journalism.
  168. Epshteyn’s political commentary had been “must run” across all of Sinclair’s 193 stations, and had been widely criticized. It was unclear what caused the shift ahead of an election year.
  169. On Wednesday, a Quinnipiac poll found 45% support impeaching and removing Trump, 51% are against it. In late November, 45% supported impeachment and 48% were against it.
  170. On Wednesday, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found 45% support impeachment, 41% do not. The majority of independents also support impeachment, with 38% support, 35% do no support, and 27% not sure.
  171. The polls also found Trump’s overall approval at 40%, 54% disapprove, and among independents approval is 32%, 62% disapprove. Also, 55% say the country is on the wrong track, 32% say it is on the right track.
  172. On Wednesday, Horowitz testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying the FBI was justified in opening its 2016 investigation into the Trump campaign, but he could not vindicate the FBI’s former leaders.
  173. Chair Lindsey Graham invoked J. Edgar Hoover, saying, “We can’t write this off as being just about one man or one event,” adding the system went “off-the-rails,” saying the FISA court would have to undergo significant changes.
  174. Ranking member Dianne Feinstein said, “This was not a politically motivated investigation. There is no ‘deep state,’” and defended the FBI’s for looking into alleged election-year wrongdoing as “motivated by facts, not bias.”
  175. Horowitz said the Steele dossier had “no impact” on opening the investigation, adding, “It was not known to the team that opened the investigation at the time they opened it.”
  176. Horowitz said he met with Durham in November to discuss his findings, and said they disagreed over whether the FBI should have opened a preliminary investigation, as opposed to a full investigation.
  177. Preliminary investigations do not allow investigators to seek surveillance warrants, but the FBI did not take that step until three months later. Horowitz said he was “surprised” by Durham’s public statement.
  178. Horowitz said he was “very concerned” about leaks from FBI field offices to Giuliani about the Hillary Clinton email probe, adding, “We are investigating” and have found some that “violated FBI policy.”
  179. Horowitz added, “What’s proving to be very hard is to prove the actual substance of the communications” between agents and reporters and individuals, and said, “We have other investigations ongoing.”
  180. While Horowitz was testifying, Trump tweeted, “They spied on my campaign!” Barr told the WSJ that Horowitz’s report did not go far enough, and the FBI’s handling of the matter was a “travesty.”
  181. On Tuesday, NYT reported Trump expects to sign an executive order Wednesday which will effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality, not just a religion.
  182. The regime said the order was meant to target anti-Semitism on college campuses, by withholding federal aidto institutions that fail to combat discrimination, citing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
  183. Jewish Americans and organizations, as well as pro-Palestinian organizations, condemned the order, citing a violation of free speech, and Trump’s own role emboldening white nationalism and perpetuating anti-Semitism.
  184. On Tuesday, a shooting spree occurred at a kosher marker in Jersey City, New Jersey, killing a police officer and three others. The suspects, who were part of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, a hate group, were also killed.
  185. On Wednesday, Jared Kushner clarified in an op-ed that the order “does not define Jews as a nationality,” rather if Jews are discriminated against, “they are entitled to protection by the anti-discrimination law.”
  186. On Wednesday, Trump signed the order during a Hanukkah reception, saying it would extend the Civil Rights Act that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin, to include anti-Semitic “hate.”
  187. Trump also cited the Jersey shooting, saying, “Our thoughts turn to the grieving families in New Jersey,” and “we vow to crush the monstrous evil of anti-Semitism whenever and wherever it appears.”
  188. Joining Trump at the Hanukkah ceremony was evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress, who once said Jews were going to hell. Jeffress said in his remarks, Trump is “the most pro-faith president in history.”
  189. Alan Dershowitz was also at the reception, and said in remarks the order “is a game changer,” and “One of the most important events in the 2,000-year battle against anti-Semitism.”
  190. On Wednesday, journalists also noted that the White House, for a second year in a row, canceled the media Christmas Party. Unlike the first time, this year the cancellation was normalized, and got little attention.
  191. On Wednesday, ABC News reported Trump is considering adding Alan Dershowitz to his impeachment legal team. Trump allies have been advocating for Trump to add to his team.
  192. Dershowitz has been in the news in recent months for representing now-deceased Jeffrey Epstein. Also, Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleged in courts filings that she was lent out to Dershowitz for sex by Epstein.
  193. On Wednesday, CNN reported that while Trump publicly minimizes impeachment, privately he is somber. Trump takes impeachment seriously and does not want to be stained like Clinton who he referenced frequently.
  194. Aides say while Trump has been preparing to be impeached “for some time,” he was surprised by what did it, “Frankly, I think he’s a little surprised it’s the Ukraine thing that’s done it.”
  195. On Wednesday, Chair Schiff submitted additional classified information shared by Pence aide Jennifer Williams to Nadler ahead of the House Judiciary Committee debating articles of impeachment Wednesday night.
  196. On Wednesday, Pence again rejected requests from Schiff to declassify content of his call with Zelensky, saying in a letter the request, “coming after the completion of your report, serves no legitimate” purpose.
  197. Pence’s lawyer also rebuked Williams, saying “the contents of a classified call with a foreign head of state should never have been discussed in an unclassified committee hearing or an unclassified deposition.”
  198. On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported federal prosecutors said in a filing that Lev Parnas received $1 million from Russia in September that he tried to conceal. The payment was made to his wife, Svetlana Parnas.
  199. Prosecutors said the undisclosed payment was “used on personal expenses and to purchase a home.” The payment raised new questions about the nature of Parnas and Igor Fruman’s work, and who they were working for.
  200. Prosecutors asked the judge to revoke Parnas’ bail, saying he “poses an extreme risk of flight, and that risk of flight is only compounded by his continued and troubling misrepresentations.”
  201. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee began debate on the two articles of impeachment at 7 p.m. ET. Trump is the fourth president in U.S. history to face the prospect of impeachment while in office.
  202. Nadler said, “When his time has passed, when his grip on our politics is gone, when our country returns, as surely it will…history will look back on our actions here today. How would you be remembered?”
  203. Ranking members Doug Collins, screaming, railed against the Democrats for not allowing the Republicans to hold a minority hearing, and said Democrats are “tearing down a world leader” and calling Zelensky “a liar.”
  204. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell said many of her constituents fled dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela, viewing the U.S. as a “beacon of freedom,” while “even the most powerful are held to account.”
  205. On Thursday, the House Judiciary continued the debate for more than 14 hours, before Chair Nadler ended at 11:15 p.m., saying, “It has been a long two days of consideration of these articles, and it is now very late at night.”
  206. During the Thursday debate, Republican screamed irate complaints about the process, complaining about their inability to take the lead or call their witnesses, and claiming it was the “death knell for minority rights.”
  207. Republicans frequently interrupted with tirades to propose amendments or parliamentary points of order, and demand roll call votes. They did not however directly defend Trump’s action or his so-called perfect call with Zelensky.
  208. Democrats and Republicans battled back and forth on a variety of topics, including who had the historic high-ground, with no agreements or consensus on the process or the wrongfulness of Trump’s acts.
  209. In one heated exchange, Rep. Matt Gaetz chided Hunter Biden for a substance abuse problem. Rep. Hank Johnson responded, “The pot calling the kettle black is not something that we should do,” referring to Gaetz’s D.U.I.
  210. Collins spoke in a screaming voice throughout, calling the hearing a “kangaroo court,” and at one point abruptly storming out of the hearings, saying Democrats are trying to “knee-cap our democracy.”
  211. Trump watched the debate, live tweeting comments such as, “Dems Veronica Escobar and Jackson Lee purposely misquoted my call,” adding, “They know that but decided to LIE in order to make a fraudulent point! Very sad.”
  212. Rep. Escober responded to Trump by tweeting a greeting to him in Russia, saying, ““Privyet, @realdonaldtrump,” using the Russian word for “hi,” and adding, “No one is above the law, not even you.”
  213. During the debate, Trump spent the day on Twitter, sending more than 100 tweets, including numerous video clips of House Democrats, and claiming an unfair attempt to oust him from office.
  214. Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale claimed impeachment “lit up our base,” but Trump’s repeated claims on how impeachment would help Republicans was undermined by recent November elections.
  215. Collins said he would cut off debate in time to permit a vote late Thursday, but when they did, Nadler movedthe vote to the morning, saying Trump should face charges in the light of day, not dark of night.
  216. On Thursday, Trump mocked 16 year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg who was named Time’s Person of the Year, tweeting, “Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”
  217. After Trump’s tweet, Thunberg changed her Twitter bio to: “A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”
  218. A few hours after his tweet, Trump’s campaign sent out an altered image of the Time cover with Trump’s head superimposed on Thunberg’s body with the tagline, “power of promises kept.”
  219. Other Trump allies joined in bashing the 16 year-old activist, a week after, led by First Lady Melania, they expressing outrage when Stanford University law professor Pamela Karlan invoked Barron Trump’s name.
  220. Later Thursday, Former First Lady Michele Obama defended Thunberg, tweeting, “don’t let anyone dim your light,” adding, “Ignore the doubters and know that millions of people are cheering you on.”
  221. After Trump’s tweet and Melania’s silence were widely criticized, the White House said Friday, “Their son is not an activist who travels the globe giving speeches. He is a 13-year-old who wants and deserves privacy.”
  222. On Thursday, former AG under Obama Eric Holder said in an op-ed that Barr is unfit to be attorney general, citing his “words and actions have been fundamentally inconsistent with his duty to the Constitution.”
  223. On Thursday, Pelosi told Hollywood Reporter, “I’ve said to many of my friends in the press, ‘You’re accomplices, whether you want to be or not,’ [and they say,] ‘If he’s saying it, then it’s news,’” adding, “it monopolizes the airwaves.”
  224. On Thursday, Pelosi said at her news conference that Democratic leaders are not whipping their members on impeachment, saying we do not “whip something like this. People have to come to their own conclusions.”
  225. Pelosi said, “The facts are clear — irrefutable, in fact.” When asked why bribery was not included as an article, she said she is not a lawyer and “the articles are what they are. They’re very powerful, they’re very strong.”
  226. On Wednesday, a Richland judge threw out a lawsuit challenging the South Carolina Republican Party’s decision not to hold a primary in 2020. Former GOP SC Gov. Mark Sanford suspended his campaign last month.
  227. On Thursday, NYT reported Trump is considering sitting out the 2020 general election debates, claiming he does not trust the Commission on Presidential Debates, a non-profit that sponsors the debates.
  228. On Thursday, Trump ally Mike Huckabee teased about an appearance on “Hannity,” tweeting he will explain how Trump “will be eligible for a 3rd term due to the illegal attempts by Comey, Dems, and media , et al.”
  229. On Thursday, former Gov. Bill Weld said as many as six Republican senators are privately supporting impeachment. Weld also said House Republicans will “regret” their decision not to support impeachment.
  230. On Thursday, Reuters reported the Trump campaign is countering impeachment by ramping up Facebook ads, running more than 2,500 ads citing “impeach” or “impeachment” in the week through December 5.
  231. On Thursday, the DOJ released internal Office of Legal Counsel memos sought by House Democrats, some dating back to the Nixon administration, used to justify their immunity claims.
  232. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader McConnell told Fox News Host Sean Hannity, he will be in “total coordination” with the White House on impeachment strategy, and “There will be no difference” between Trump’s position and our position.
  233. McConnell met with Pat Cipollone, White House counsel, and Eric Ueland, White House congressional liaison, earlier Thursday. He told Hannity, “Everything I do during this I’m coordinating with the White House counsel.”
  234. McConnell’s comments were remarkable: according to the Constitution, the rules for an impeachment trial of the President of the United States require the Senate to take an oath to act as impartial jurors.
  235. Late Thursday, the Trump regime released heavily redacted communications between government agencies on withholding aid to Ukraine, following a FOIA request by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI).
  236. An official from CPI said, “Every substantive exchange between officials at the agencies was blacked out. Public Integrity is planning to file a motion Friday challenging the government’s response.”
  237. The Department of Defense and Office of Management and Budget are required to turn over all documents from April onward related to withholding aid. More documents are required to be released by December 20.
  238. On Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party won in a landslide, handing the Labour Party its worst showing in more than 80 years. Johnson will now push forward with Brexit in January.
  239. On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement if impeachment comes to the Senate, “every single senator will take an oath to render ‘impartial justice,’” calling for a “fair and honest trial.”
  240. On Friday, after fiery debate Wednesday evening and all day Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee voted on the two articles of impeachment at 10 a.m. Unlike the debate, the vote was somber and without interruption.
  241. In the hours leading up to the vote, Trump continued his Twitter tirade starting at 6:51 a.m. saying, “The Republicans House members were fantastic yesterday,” and calling them “Republican warriors.”
  242. Trump also tweeted, “the Dems have no case at all,” and “had no answers and wanted out!” Trump also falsely claimed, “My Approval Rating in the Republican Party is 95%, a Record. Thank you! #2020Election”
  243. Trump also falsely claimed, “Poll numbers have gone through the roof in favor of No Impeachment, especially with Swing States and Independents in Swing States,” calling it a “total Hoax” and a “scam.”
  244. Trump also tweeted, “The Do Nothing Democrats have become the Party of lies and deception!” while “The Republican Party is more united now than at any time in its history — by far!”
  245. Trump also tweeted, “Congratulations to @foxandfriends on being named, BY FAR, the Number One Rated cable news show” and “CNN and MSNBC have totally tanked, their ratings are terrible. They have zero credibility!”
  246. The House took back-to-back votes on the two articles of impeachment, with votes falling along party lines, 23-17. The full House is expected to vote on the articles of impeachment next Wednesday.
  247. Nadler said, “Today is a solemn and sad day,” adding, “For the third time in a little over a century and half,” the committee had voted articles of impeachment against a sitting president.
  248. As of late Friday, only one Democrat, Jeff Van Drew, indicated he would vote no on impeachment. The count stood at 166 for, 159 against and 106 still undecided or no response according to a count by the NYT.
  249. Shortly before the vote, Giuliani was spotted at the White House. Giuliani said he wanted to brief U.S. officials on what he learned on his Ukraine trip. It was not clear if he met with Trump.
  250. Giuliani also tweeted, “The American people have already made up their mind on this #ImpeachmentScam,” adding, “This is a SMOKESCREEN for the Obama-Biden administration’s corruption. It will soon be proven.”
  251. On Friday, WSJ reported that last Saturday Trump called Giuliani as his airplane was still taxiing down the runway in Kyiv, asking, “What did you get?” Giuliani responded, “More than you can imagine.”
  252. Giuliani said when he returned, Trump instructed him to brief Barr and GOP lawmakers. Shortly after, Trump told reporters Giuliani would deliver a report to the DOJ and Congress, saying, “I hear he has found plenty.”
  253. During his trip to Ukraine, Giuliani met with a member of Ukraine’s parliament to discuss the creation of a group called “Friends of Ukraine STOP Corruption.”
  254. Several of Giuliani’s friends have urged him to lie low during the congressional and federal investigations. He texted on his trip, “Just having fun while Dems and friends try to destroy my brilliant career.”
  255. Shortly after the vote, Trump spoke to reporters during an Oval Office visit with Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez, saying, “It’s a very sad thing for our country, but it seems to be very good for me politically.”
  256. Trump called impeachment a “witch hunt,” “hoax” and “sham,” saying his July 25 call with Zelensky was “perfect,” and added, “To use the power of impeachment on this nonsense is an embarrassment to this country.”
  257. Trump said, “My poll numbers, as you know, have gone through the roof.” This is false. Trump’s approval numbers have stayed the same. Support of impeachment surged at the beginning of the inquiry, then remained flat.
  258. Trump also said, “I’ll do long or short. I’ve heard Mitch, I’ve heard Lindsey [Graham], I think they are very much in agreement on some concept,” adding, “I’ll do whatever they want to do. It doesn’t matter.”
  259. Trump also said, “I wouldn’t mind the long process, because I’d like to see the whistleblower, who’s a fraud,” and threatened someday there will be Democratic president with a GOP House and they will “remember it.”
  260. On Friday, NYT reported Zelensky is eager to repair Ukraine’s relationship with the U.S. He has met with lobbyists to the Trump regime, hoping to open new channels of communications and re-establish ties.
  261. Zelensky’s team was discouraged by the absence of support ahead of his meeting with Putin, and frustrated about Trump’s meeting with Lavrov. When Giuliani came to Kyiv, no Ukrainian government official met with him.
  262. On Friday, CNN reported the White House has further restricted the number of officials who listen in to Trump’s calls with foreign leaders after the July 25 call led to the impeachment inquiry.
  263. The White House is also disseminating call transcripts to a much smaller group of people. Senior officials are looking to protect Trump, whose calls sometimes veer off into unguarded or undiplomatic territory.
  264. One official jokingly called the change, “The Vindman Rule.” On Friday, speaking to reporters, Trump referred in a mocking voice to “lieutenant colonel” Vindman, calling him a “beauty.”
  265. On Friday, the Supreme Court said it will take up the case of whether Trump must turn over his financial information to three congressional committees and the Manhattan District Attorney.
  266. The case will be heard in March, with a ruling before the court session ends in June — putting the landmark ruling likely coming in the months ahead of the November election.
  267. Pelosi signaled disappointment that the court took the case, citing further delays in Democrats’ investigation of Trump’s finances, saying the materials are “related to Congress’s need for legislation and oversight.”
  268. The historic case will test the Constitution’s separation-of-powers, and will mark the first time the president’s personal conduct has come before the court.
  269. A third case by the House Oversight Committee seeking 10 years of financial records from Trump, Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka from Deutsche Bank and Capital One is still proceeding in the 2nd Circuit.
  270. Later Friday, Trump tweeted, “It’s not fair that I’m being Impeached when I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong!” saying Democrats “have become the Party of Hate,” and “They are so bad for our Country!”
  271. Trump also falsely claimed in a tweet, “After watching the disgraceful way that a wonderful man, @BrettKavanaugh, was treated,” and the “whole Impeachment Hoax,” “so many Dems are voting Republican!”
  272. On Friday, NYT reported Cipollone is expected to represent Trump at the Senate trial, along with outside lawyers. However, Trump has noted his lack of TV experience, and is asking people are who his lawyer should be.
  273. As the Trump regime prepares, talks over the weekend will focus on how long the trial will last, how much time each side will get, whether witnesses will be called, who will get to speak, and where they will sit.
  274. Trump continued to push for witnesses, including Hunter Biden, Pelosi, and Schiff. The Senate has specific rules for trials, revised in 1986. The Senate must take up impeachment 1 p.m. the day after the House vote.
  275. Resolutions may pass with a simple majority of 51 votes. Meaning with the Senate split 53 to 47, if four Republicans defect, McConnell could lose control of the proceedings, and can only lose 2 votes to pass resolutions.
  276. Unlike the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton, where Trent Lott and Tom Daschle issued a joint statement after the House voted on articles, McConnell has yet to consult with Schumer on the parameters of the trial.
  277. On Friday, Reuters reported Trump ally Erik Prince held secret talks with top Venezuelan officials, including Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, who is under U.S. sanctions, raising questions of whether Prince violated the law.
  278. On Friday, a Wisconsin judge ordered the purge of 234,000 voters who may have moved. The Wisconsin Elections Commission planned to remove them in 2021 if no response, his order would be before the 2020 election.
  279. On Saturday, Trump continued his Twitter storm, saying without evidence voters are turning on Democrats. Trump quoted a Congressman, tweeting, “Independent voters are fed up and frustrated with the Democrats.”
  280. Trump also quoted an advisory member to his campaign, tweeting, “There are 31 House Democrats in Trump won Congressional Districts. Those Dems will have to answer to their constituents come 2020.”
  281. Trump also retweeted a tweet by Donald Jr. targeting a list of moderate Democrats: “Enough! These Democrats in Trump districts said they were with @realDonaldTrump. They lied!”
  282. On Saturday, at the Army-Navy football game which Trump attended, cadets were shown in a viral video flashing the “OK” White Power symbol, a hand signal that has been adopted by white supremacists.
  283. On Saturday, WAPO reported Trump met with the one Democrat planning to vote against impeachment so far, Jeff Van Drew, to speak about him changing his party. Van Drew was behind in his New Jersey primary race.
  284. On Saturday, as the week came to a close, an average of polls on impeachment by website FiveThirtyEight, found that 47.7% of Americans do support, and 45.7% do not support impeachment.

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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., speaks to the media following a House Judiciary Committee vote on the articles of impeachment against Trump, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

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.
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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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