POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 76: TAX DAY, BUT NOT FOR TRUMP

Week 75 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

April 21, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-75-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-ac41bda4c55d

This week Trump became increasingly frantic about the fed raid on Michael Cohen, as innuendo swirled that Cohen could cooperate with federal prosecutors if indicted. Trump spent much of the week attacking James Comey, and teetering on firing Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller. Yet again this week, the national focus continued to be on Trump’s gyrations, with no visible efforts in Congress towards the typical discussions and debates on policy or legislation.

The untold and less-covered stories continue to be loss of rights and protections for marginalized communities and women, and the outright cruelty of the Trump regime when it comes to immigrants. Kleptocracy and corruption continues unabated, and in a sign of our country’s normalization of the previously unthinkable, Tax Day came and went this week with barely a whimper for Trump not sharing past returns.

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Wynwood, Miami, Florida. December 2017. Apparently, the “Neo Fascism” tag was added by a “woke” citizen some time in the night…
  1. On Sunday, Trump attacked Comey in a series of tweets, calling him a “slimeball,” “Slippery James Comey,” and adding, “(he is not smart!), will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!”
  2. Trump also tweeted, “The big questions in Comey’s badly reviewed book aren’t answered like, how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail).
  3. Trump also attacked a former president again, “Why can’t we all find out what happened on the tarmac” between “Wild Bill and Lynch?” Trump asked if Loretta Lynch was “promised a Supreme Court seat, or AG” to lay off Hillary.
  4. A NBC News/WSJ poll found Trump’s approval dropped back down to 39%, down 4 points from last month. His disapproval rose to 57%.
  5. On Sunday, shortly after the poll was released, Trump tweeted “Just hit 50% in the Rasmussen Poll much higher than President Obama at same point.” The Rasmussen number is 7.5 points above the average poll.
  6. On Sunday, in his first TV interview about his book, Comey castigated Trump for being a serial liar, “morally unfit,” and a “stain” on all around him. Comey said Trump was incinerating the country’s norms like wildfire.
  7. Two black men waiting for a friend to arrive at a Starbucks in Philadelphia were handcuffed and arrested after a white Starbucks employee called the police. The men were held by police for nine hours before being released.
  8. On Tuesday, Starbucks announced the company will close 8,000 of its stores on the afternoon of May 29 to conduct “racial-bias education”training for nearly 175,000 employees.
  9. HuffPost reported a federal judge in Washington barred the federal government from implementing Trump’s transgender military ban, saying transgender people have been “subjected to systemic oppression and forced to live in silence,” and are therefore a protected class.
  10. On Tuesday, Miami Herald reported ICE arrested Juan Gaspar-García, an undocumented Guatemalan man with Down syndrome, as part of a raid at TentLogix. Gaspar-García, 22, was one of 28 people detained.
  11. Gaspar-García’s sister launched a petition, saying, “My brother does not have the ability to understand certain situations and probably does not understand why he is there or what is happening.” He also has diabetes.
  12. World-famous Muslim author and activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied, who who holds dual citizenships in Sudan and Australia, was detained at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport by US Customs and Border Protection.
  13. American authorities said Abdel-Magied, who was being paid to speak at the conference, was in violation of her visitor’s visa. She was denied entry to the US, and after a three hour detainment, was sent back to London.
  14. Politico reported, as part of the Trump regime’s broader plan to reduce immigration, Jeff Sessions is seeking to remove domestic violence and sexual violence as persecution that would justify asylum in the US.
  15. The city of Albuquerque passed a measure making it harder for federal officials to deport undocumented immigrants, a week after a judge blocked the Trump regime from withholding funding from cities that took such steps.
  16. AP reported Manuel Duran Ortega, a reporter working for Spanish-language media outlet Memphis Noticias, was detained by ICE, allegedly because he has been critical of local police cooperating with federal ICE.
  17. Ortega, who is originally from El Salvador, was arrested by police in Memphis, then taken into custody ICE and detained in Louisiana. Southern Poverty Law Center asked a federal court to release Ortega.
  18. On Wednesday, Syracuse.com reported ICE agents stormed a farm owned by John Collins in upstate New York without a warrant. The agents pinned his worker, Marcial de Leon Aguilar, up against a window.
  19. Collins said the men did not identify themselves and were screaming at Aguilar. The seven officers cuffed Aguilar and took him across the road to their vehicles as Collins’ children, waiting for the school bus, looked on. Collins said Aguilar had proper documentation to work for him.
  20. On Wednesday, Trump attacked California and its sanctuary cities in a tweet, saying, “there is a Revolution going on in California,” which he called “crime infested & breeding concept.”
  21. On Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown reached an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security and Defense officials on the terms of California’s National Guard deployment at the border: the state’s 400 troops will work solely against drug trafficking and cross-border criminal groups.
  22. On Thursday, Trump shot back at Brown, tweeting Brown deployed troops “to do nothing,” and “The crime rate in California is high enough,” and the federal government “will not be paying for Governor Brown’s charade.”
  23. NYT reported, according to data prepared by DHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, more than 700 immigrant children have been taken from their parents at the US border, including more than 100 under the age of four.
  24. Officials claim the agency does not separate families at the border for deterrence purposes, but Trump officials, including Kelly, have publicly suggested this in the past. A spokesman for DHS said, “As required by law, D.H.S. must protect the best interests of minor children crossing our borders.”
  25. On Wednesday, in the biggest power outage since Hurricane Maria, a toppled transmission line left all of Puerto Rico without power. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority said power restoration could take up to 36 hours.
  26. BuzzFeed reported at a closed-door UN meeting in March, Trump regime officials called the US a “pro-life nation,” and pushed for references to contraception, abortion, and comprehensive sex education to be struck.
  27. On Thursday, a federal judge in Washington DC ruled the Trump regime’s cuts to the Obama-era Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) were unlawful, and ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to accept and process applications of four grantees.
  28. On Friday, Trump’s HHS announced the TPPP will shift federal funding aimed at reducing teen pregnancy rates to programs that teach abstinence. The changes mark a major shift in the way the federal government treats teen pregnancy.
  29. On Thursday, a federal appeals court found an Indiana abortion law signed by then Gov. Mike Pence is unconstitutional. The law banned women from having abortions based on the gender, race, or disability of the fetus.
  30. A UK parliamentary committee released audio from November in which Nigel Oakes, the founder and CEO of SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, told a reporter Trump deliberately demonized Muslims and stoked fears about ISIS to appease his base — as Hitler did with Jews.
  31. VICE News reported that following their inquiry to Facebook, the company removed two pages associated with white supremacist Richard Spencer.
  32. On Saturday, WAPO reported that eight months after the white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, the alt-right movement is in disarray amid lawsuits, arrests, infighting, tepid recruitment, and banishment from social media.
  33. One of the biggest groups, the Traditionalist Worker Party, dissolved in March; Andrew Anglin, founder of The Daily Stormer, has gone into hiding; and Richard Spencer canceled a college speaking tour.
  34. Elizabeth Pierce, FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s pick to run a federal advisory committee, was arrested after federal prosecutors accused her of forging contracts to induce firms to invest more than $250 million in a fraud scheme.
  35. On Monday, Rob Joyce, a top White House cybersecurity official, became the fourth member of Trump’s National Security Council to resign in the days since John Bolton took over at National Security Adviser.
  36. On Tuesday, Republican Rep. Charlie Dent, a critic of Trump and leader of a moderate band of Republicans, said he would quit Congress next month before serving out his term. Dent had already announced his retirement.
  37. On Tuesday, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a strong advocate for net neutrality, announced she will step down from the commission. Clyburn has served on the commission since 2009.
  38. On Monday, NPR reported the Environmental Protection Agency removed the San Jacinto Waste Pits, a heavily contaminated site near Houston, from a list of sites that require special attention by Scott Pruitt, citing significant clean-up progress.
  39. The site, which is next to homes and schools and took decades to get federal attention, saw significant damage from Hurricane Harvey. Pruitt is leaving it to two companies responsible for the contamination to come up with a court-ordered plan within 29 months.
  40. Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department announced the killing of birds resulting from an activity, such as an oil spill, is no longer prohibited under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, sapping the strength of a century-old law to protect birds.
  41. A federal judge ruled Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was in contempt of court for failing to comply with a 2016 preliminary injunctionthat blocked a Kansas law requiring people to provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote.
  42. Kobach, who also serves as co-chair of Trump’s Election Integrity Commission, had assured the judge he would send out postcards to the roughly 18,000 people whose registrations were being held up. He did not.
  43. Betsy DeVos’ Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has begun dismissing hundreds of civil rights cases under a new protocol, saying serial filing have become burdensome to the office.
  44. The new provision resulted in the dismissal of more than 500 disability rights complaints. DeVos has already rescinded guidances meant to protect students against campus sexual assault, and black and transgender students against bias.
  45. The Government Accountability Office concluded the EPA did not comply with the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act by spending $43,000 to install a private phone booth in Pruitt’s office without notifying Congress spending was above the $5,000 limit.
  46. CNN reported Samantha Dravis, one of Pruitt’s most trusted advisers and top EPA official, tried to back-date her resignation letter after the House oversight committee requested to interview her as part of its investigation.
  47. On Wednesday, a group of 170 Democratic lawmakers, including 131 representatives and 39 senators, signed a resolution calling on Pruitt to resign.
  48. On Wednesday, Daily Beast reported Rep. James Bridenstine, Trump NASA nominee, led a small non-profit organization into losses. Some of the losses were the result of a company that Bridenstine co-owned using the non-profit’s resources.
  49. On Thursday, the Senate confirmed Bridenstine to lead NASA, by a vote of 50–49. Bridenstine has no scientific credentials, does not believe humans are primarily to blame for the global climate crisis, and is the first elected official to hold the position.
  50. The Philippine Embassy sent invitations for its Independence Day celebration on June 12, which will be held at the Trump Hotel DC. The hotel is seen by foreign delegations as a place to be seen and curry favor.
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Hard to believe, hard to digest, facts about the state of our union. Los Angeles, CA. 7apr18
  1. On Thursday, WSJ reported that the Kushner Cos. received a federal grand-jury subpoena in mid-March for information related to paperwork the company filed in New York City on its rent-regulated tenants.
  2. On Wednesday, the parents of two children who died in the 2012 Newtown school shooting sued InfoWars’ Alex Jones for defamation. Jones is a right-wing conspiracy theorist who said the shooting never happened.
  3. In a YouTube video, Jones backtracked and said he now believes the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting did really happen, and that the families are being used by the Democratic Party and the news media.
  4. On Friday, Intercept reported, according to documents, in February 2017 Elliott Broidy provided Russian gas giant Novatek a $26 million lobbying plan aimed at removing the company from a US sanctions list.
  5. When Broidy sought legal advice on the plan and avoiding registering under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, a law firm flagged the avoidance of lobbying registration as a problem. That advice was a factor in the decision not to move forward with the agreement.
  6. On Sunday, WSJ reported federal prosecutors are investigating money flowing in and out of Essential Consultants, the Delaware limited-liability company used by Michael Cohen for payment deals to at least two women.
  7. Cohen used Essential Consultants to make pay $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford. Installments were also made by Broidy towards the payment made for negotiating a nondisclosure agreement related to his affair.
  8. On Sunday, Axios reported Trump tried to block Pence from getting his pick for his national security adviser. Pence has planned to pick Nikki Haley’s deputy Jon Lerner, who was part of the “Never Trump” movement.
  9. On Sunday, US ambassador to the UN Haley told “Face the Nation” the US is preparing new sanctions against Russia for their role in Assad’s use of chemical weapons in Syria, adding Secretary Steven Mnuchin would be announcing the sanctions on Monday.
  10. WAPO reported Trump met with his national security advisers late Sunday, and told them he was uncomfortable rolling out new sanctions. On Monday, White House officials put the brakes on new sanctions.
  11. On Monday, the White House was said to be in a “holding pattern” on sanctions, enacting them only if Russia does something which threatens US interests. The Trump regime reportedly decided to characterize Haley’s announcement as a misstatement.
  12. On Tuesday, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told reporters Haley “got ahead of the curve.” Haley responded, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” Kudlow reportedly called Haley Tuesday to apologize.
  13. On Tuesday, WAPO’s Carol Leonnig told MSNBC the Russian government was given a backdoor assurance on Sunday night that the threats of sanctions were nothing to worry about, and to just ignore Haley.
  14. On Tuesday, NYT reported that Trump grew angry while watching television Sunday and seeing Haley announce sanctions were coming, when he had not decided yet.
  15. The miscue highlights crossed circuits in a regime without a secretary of state, Bolton starting anew and several members of the national security officials resigning, and a marginalized White House staff.
  16. Trump is at odds with Haley, who is among the most hawkish senior officials on Russia. Recently, he saw her on television criticizing Russia over its intervention in Ukraine, and yelled at the screen, “Who wrote that for her?”
  17. On Friday, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported Foreign MinisterLavrov said Trump invited Putin to the White House during a phone call, and that Trump said he would be happy for a reciprocal visit to Moscow.
  18. On Sunday, the LA Times reported Trump’s Solicitor Gen. Noel Francisco intervened in a minor SEC case to ask the Supreme Court to clarify the president’s constitutional power to fire all “officers of the United States.”
  19. On Sunday, the NYT Editorial Board wrote that if Trump moves against Mueller or Rosenstein, “it will be up to Congress to affirm the rule of law, the separation of powers and the American constitutional order.”
  20. On Sunday night, in a letter to US District Judge Kimba Wood, Trump asked the judge to allow him to review documents seized by the FBI from Cohen’s office before criminal investigators see the material.
  21. The FBI is using a “taint team” of prosecutors outside the investigation to review all materials seized from Cohen’s office, hotel room, and security deposit box to access what is covered by attorney-client privilege.
  22. On Monday, Justice Wood said she would not grant the President exclusive first access to documents seized in the raids, but said she would consider appointing an independent lawyer to review the seized materials.
  23. Also in court Monday, Cohen’s attorneys acknowledged he represented Broidy, and sought to avoid naming a third client. Under orders from the judge, the third client was disclosed to be Sean Hannity.
  24. Shortly after, Hannity tweeted, “Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions.”
  25. On Tuesday, The Atlantic reported Hannity has ties to two other lawyers who are close to Trump: Jay Sekulow and Victoria Toensing, wife and law partner of Joseph diGenova.
  26. The two sent a cease and desist letter on May 25, 2017 to KFAQ, a radio station based in Tulsa, when conservative activist Debbie Schlussel saidHannity was “creepy” towards her. Sekulow, Toensing, and diGenova are frequently on Hannity’s show.
  27. On Tuesday, Fox News said it was “unaware” and “surprised” by Hannity’s business relationship with Cohen, but expressed “we have reviewed the matter and spoken to Sean and he continues to have our full support.
  28. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Trump is now leaning against granting an interview to Mueller’s team, following the FBI raids on Cohen. When the news broke on Cohen, Sekulow and other Trump advisers were in a preparatory session for a meeting with Mueller’s team.
  29. Mark Corallo, former spokesperson for Trump’s legal team saidunexpected raids “are generally reserved for mafia dons and drug kingpins.” Trump continues to have trouble staffing his legal team.
  30. WAPO also reported Trump was so upset by the raids, he had trouble concentrating on the options laid out to him by his national security team for missile strikes in Syria.
  31. On Wednesday, WSJ reported Jay Goldberg, who represented Trump in the 1990s and early 2000s, cautioned Trump not to trust Cohen, saying Cohen is likely to cooperate with federal prosecutors if facing criminal charges.
  32. In a fifteen-minute conversation, Goldberg reportedly told Trump, on a scale of 100 to 1, where 100 is fully protecting, Cohen “isn’t even a 1.” Trump is seeking advice as prosecutors ramp up their investigation of Cohen.
  33. On Thursday, Cohen dropped his libel suit against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS over the dossier. Letting go of the defamation lawsuit could give Cohen more time to focus on the high-profile cases against him.
  34. On Tuesday, April 17, taxes were due. Trump filed an extension because of the complexity of preparing his 2017 returns, and plans to file by mid-October. Trump is the only modern day US leader not to release his taxes.
  35. On Tuesday, WAPO reported that CIA director Mike Pompeo made a previously undisclosed trip to meet with Kim Jong Un over Easter weekend, shortly after he was nominated as Trump’s secretary of state.
  36. Trump hinted about the meeting while speaking to the press from Mar-a-Lago Tuesday while meeting with Japan PM Abe. The meeting marks the highest-level meeting between the two countries since 2000.
  37. On Sunday, Steven Molo, a former prosecutor who specializes in white collar defense and courtroom litigation, turned down the opportunity to represent Trump in the Mueller probe, citing an unidentified conflict.
  38. On Tuesday, AP reported as Trump left for a two-day summit with Japanese PM Abe, his anger against the probe has intensified, with him musing publicly about firing Mueller and Rosenstein.
  39. On Tuesday, at the start of his visit with Abe, Trump plugged Mar-a-Lago as a destination, saying, “Many of the world’s great leaders request to come to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. They like it. I like it.”
  40. On Wednesday, Trump changed his prior story, claiming in a tweet “Comey, the worst FBI Director in history” was “not fired because of the phony Russia investigation,” adding “ NO COLLUSION (except by the Dems)!”
  41. On Wednesday, CNN reported that Trump believes “all of this will eventually collapse on itself,” and since he is innocent of wrongdoing with Russia, he can represent himself in the Mueller probe.
  42. On Wednesday, at a new conference with Abe at Mar-a-Lago, Trump reiterated, “There’s been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump,” adding he would sanction Russia as soon as they deserve it.
  43. Trump declined to say whether he would fire Mueller or Rosenstein, saying, “We are hopefully coming to the end,” about the probe, and adding “It is a bad thing for our country — very, very bad thing for our country.”
  44. Trump also referred to the Mueller probe as “a hoax created largely by the Democrats as a way of softening the blow of a loss,” and said there had been no collusion five times.
  45. On Wednesday, WTAE reporter Marcie Cipriani obtained emails sent to Pittsburgh police detectives warning them of a “potential large scale protest” Trump fires Mueller. Detectives have been instructed to bring their riot gear to work.
  46. On Wednesday, in a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers,New York AG Eric Schneiderman said he is moving to change state law so he and local prosecutors could bring criminal charges against aides of Trump who are pardoned.
  47. On Thursday, WAPO reported Rudy Giuliani, former New York AG, says he is joining Trump’s legal team dealing with the Mueller probe, saying he hopes to “negotiate an end to this for the good of the country.”
  48. Giuliani will work alongside Ty Cobb and Sekulow on a team that has had a hard time recruiting legal talent. On whether Trump will sit for an interview with Mueller, Giuliani said, “It’s too early for me to say.”
  49. Politico reported Giuliani’s new role could be complicated by him becoming a witness in the Mueller probe in several areas including his ties to Turkish-Iranian gold dealer Reza Zarrab. Trump’s lawyers deny there are any conflicts of interest.
  50. On Friday, WAPO reported that Sessions told Don McGahn last weekend in a phone call that he might leave his job if Trump fires Rosenstein.
  51. Sessions also reportedly asked for details about Trump’s meeting with Rosenstein at the White House on April 12, and expressed relief to learn it was largely cordial.
  52. As of Friday, more than 800 former Justice Department employees had signed an open letter calling on Congress to “swiftly and forcefully respond to protect the founding principles of our Republic and the rule of law” if Trump fires Rosenstein or Mueller.
  53. On Friday, Axios reported Trump has not cooled off on Rosenstein. According to a source, Trump is still trying to figure out a clean way to get rid of him, then Rosenstein will be fired.
  54. On Tuesday on “The View,” Stephanie Clifford and her lawyer unveiled a sketch of the man who allegedly threatened her in 2011 after she agreed to tell her story. A $100,000 reward is being offered to identify the man.
  55. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted about the sketch posted by Clifford, saying it was “about a nonexistent man. A total con job.” The tweet was accompanied by another tweet suggesting the man looked like Clifford’s former husband.
  56. On Wednesday, Karen McDougal settled her lawsuit seeking to invalidate her contract with AMI, parent of National Enquirer, over $150,000 paid to her in 2016 for her story about her affair with Trump which never ran.
  57. Under the settlement, McDougal will keep the $150,000 she was paid and AMI has the rights to up to $75,000 for any future profits from her story. She is no longer prohibited from discussing her relationship publicly.
  58. Vanity Fair interviewed Michael Avenatti, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney, who claimed there have been three raids of Cohen in eight days and “there’s a significant level of cooperation” between he and Clifford and the SDNY AG’s office.
  59. Avenatti alleges he has evidence of bank fraud involving Cohen, which he shared with the FBI and believes the smoking gun are the Suspicious Activities Reports flagging transactions. He thinks Cohen will be indicted.
  60. On Friday, WAPO reported that Keith Davidson, the former lawyer for both Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal, is said to be cooperating in the federal probe of Cohen. Davidson’s lawyer confirmed.
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Californians reminding mike pence some things he’s apparently forgotten from his dear bible. Los Angeles, CA. 7apr18
  1. Davidson represented both women while they negotiated their settlements in 2016. According to CNN, as part of the raids on Cohen, federal investigators have taped conversations between Cohen and Davidson.
  2. On Friday, a federal judge in Los Angeles said there were “gaping holes” in a request by Trump’s personal lawyer to delay Stephanie Clifford’s lawsuit to end her non-disclosure agreement.
  3. On Sunday, Speaker Paul Ryan told “Meet the Press” that he doesn’t think it’s necessary to pass legislation to protect Mueller from being fired, saying, “It’s not in the president’s interest to do that. We have a rule of law system.”
  4. On Tuesday, six House Republicans endorsed legislation to block Trump from firing Mueller, despite assurances from Speaker Ryan that the effort was unnecessary. A handful of other Republicans are also evaluating it.
  5. On Tuesday, Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News he would not put legislation on the Senate floor to block Trump from firing Mueller, saying, “I don’t think he should fire Mueller and I don’t think he’s going to.”
  6. On Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley said hiscommittee will vote next week on a bill to protect Mueller from being fired by Trump.
  7. Grassley said he had promised senators Lindsey Graham, Thom Tillis, Chris Coons, and Cory Booker that if they could merge their two bipartisan bills into one, he would bring the bill up for a committee vote.
  8. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted about online retailers in his continued attacks on Amazon, tweeting “States and Cities throughout our Country are being cheated and treated so badly by online retailers,” calling it “very unfair.”
  9. On Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee chair Bob Goodlatte said he plans to issue a subpoena to Justice Department demanding the Comey memos on his meetings with Trump be released to his committee.
  10. Goodlatte’s move would make him the third Republican committee chair, including Devin Nunes of the House Intelligence Committee and Trey Gowdy of the House Oversight Committee, to demand access to the Comey memos.
  11. Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee said in a statement Wednesday that he feared the Republicans “have manufactured an excuse” to hold Rosenstein in contempt of Congress.
  12. On Thursday, the Justice Department released the Comey memos with congressional leaders. In a letter to Goodlatte, Nunes, and Gowdy, the agency said it was releasing both redacted and un-redacted versions.
  13. On Thursday, the Associated Press obtained the 15 pages of seven Comey memos. Although the memos were unclassified, some portions were blacked out as classified.
  14. Although much of the content had already been made public, details emerged of Trump’s obsession with political rivalries and fears the bureaucrats and government officials were trying to undermine him.
  15. The memos also reveal Trump’s obsession with his inaugural crowd size, his venting about subordinates and leaks, and not appreciating or caringabout protocol boundaries for the White House and DOJ.
  16. The memos reveal that after Comey’s meeting at Trump Tower about the dossier and alleged tapes with prostitutes, Trump brought up the subject at least two more times.
  17. The memos also reveal that US intelligence agencies had corroborated at least part of the dossier, and that Trump gave contradictory statements to Comey on whether then chief of staff Reince Priebus knew they were meeting.
  18. The memos also reveal that Priebus asked Comey if Michael Flynn were being wiretapped. The response was redacted. Comey tried to explain that such inquiries should be routed from the White House counsel’s office to the DOJ.
  19. Comey described an irate Trump when then-NSA Flynn did not tell him right away that Putin had called to congratulate him. Trump said, “Six days was not an appropriate period of time to return a call” from the leader of a country like Russia.
  20. The memos show Trump’s focus on Andrew McCabe, including a January dinner at which Trump asked Comey whether Mr. McCabe “had a problem” with the him. In an Oval Office meeting weeks later, Trump brought it up again.
  21. On Friday, WSJ reported the Justice Department inspector general is probing Comey for at least two of the memos he gave to a friend outside the government which contained information now considered classified.
  22. Comey considered the memos personal rather than government documents, and gave four memos to his friend Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor who is now a professor at Columbia Law School.
  23. A poll released by NPR, PBS NewsHour, and Marist University showed anincreasing number of Americans believe the FBI is biased against Trump, including more than half of all Republicans.
  24. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported Rosenstein told Trump last Thursday at a White House meeting that Trump is not a target of any part of the Mueller probe, or the federal investigation into Cohen. This seemed to have cooled Trump from firing Rosenstein or Mueller.
  25. The meeting was also attended by McGahn, Kelly, and FBI general counsel Dana Boente. Despite Rosenstein’s assurance, Mueller has not ruled out making Trump a target a future point.
  26. On Thursday, NBC News reported in January the Justice Department’s inspector general had recommended a criminal investigation into whether McCabe lied to federal officials about a leak to the WSJ.
  27. On Thursday, Comey told CNN he feels “conflicted” about McCabe’s criminal referral, adding “I like him very much as a person, but sometimes even good people do things they shouldn’t do.”
  28. McCabe’s lawyer Michael Bromwich responded, “We are confident that,unless there is inappropriate pressure from high levels of the administration, the U.S. attorney’s office will conclude that it should decline to prosecute.”
  29. On Friday, Axios reported Bromwich said McCabe plans to sue for defamation, wrongful termination and other possible civil claims. Bromwich also accused McCabe’s opponents, including Trump, of “continuing slander.”
  30. Bromwich also said McCabe was “upset and disappointed” about some of the things Comey said about him. Bromwich added of Comey, “Nobody’s memory is perfect, people are fallible.”
  31. On Friday, Vox reported at a January 22, 2017 White House meeting with Sessions and Christopher Wray, Trump asked why two senior FBI officialswho were disloyal to him, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, were still in their jobs.
  32. Trump pressed Sessions and Wray to move aggressively to uncover derogatory information on Strzok and Page within FBI files and turn it over to congressional Republicans working to discredit the them.
  33. Jonathan Greenberg, an investigative journalist, revealed that Trump had repeatedly lied to him, starting in May 1984, about Trump’s wealth, in hopes of staying and rising on the Fortune 400 list.
  34. Greenberg said Trump used an alter ego of himself, John Barron, on phone calls to make inflated claims about his net worth, like “You have down Fred Trump [as half owner]…but I think you can really use Donald Trump now.”
  35. Over time, Greenberg discovered Trump should not have been on the first three Fortune 400 list at all. In 1982, Fortune listed Trump at $100 million, but really he was worth roughly $5 million.
  36. On Friday, the Democratic Party filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Russian government, the Trump campaign, and the WikiLeaks organization for conspiring to disrupt the 2016 campaign and elect Trump.
  37. The complaint was filed in federal district court in Manhattan and alleges top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Hillary by disseminating stolen information.
  38. The suit does not name Trump, but does name Donald Jr., Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Rick Gates, as well as Roger Stone who claimed he was in contact with Julian Assange. It also names the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU.
  39. Trump Campaign Manager Brad Parscale called it a “sham lawsuit,” and Trump tweeted “this can be good news in that we will now counter for the DNC Server that they refused to give to the FBI.”
  40. On Friday, Sen. Coons of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he will not support Mike Pompeo’s nomination for secretary of state, marking the first time since 1945 the full senate will vote on a cabinet-level nominee with an unfavorable report from a committee.
  41. On Friday at 11:13 pm, Trump hinted at a flawed premise for Mueller in a misspelled tweet: “Comey illegally leaked classified documents to the press in order to generate a Special Council?”
  42. Trump hinted therefore that Mueller should be fired: “Therefore, the Special Council was established based on an illegal act?” adding: “Really, does everybody know what that means?”
  43. On Friday, NYT reported that while Cohen said he would “take a bullet” for Trump, for years Trump treated Cohen poorly, with insults, dismissive statements, and threats to fire him at least twice.
  44. Federal agents seized decades of documents in their raids on Cohen’s office and hotel room. While Cohen has been a staunch defender of Trump, after the raid, the leverage has shifted to Cohen.
  45. On Saturday, in a series of tweets, some of which were deleted and tweeted again due to misspelling, Trump attacked the NYT over the Cohen story, saying Cohen will not “flip” and cooperate against him.
  46. Trump complimented Cohen, calling him “a fine person with a wonderful family,” and “a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected.”
  47. Trump also lashed out at one of the NYT reporters on the story, tweeting, “a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H flunkie who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with.”
  48. The tweets were sent Saturday morning from Mar-a-Lago, where Trump has spent almost the entire week, just before he headed out to to one of his golf course for the second consecutive day.
  49. Four former presidents and Melania attended the funeral for Barbara Bush on Saturday. Trump tweeted he was headed to the “Southern White House,” his second nickname for Mar-a-Lago, to watch the funeral service, after golfing.
  50. Trump will host French President Macron for his first state dinner next Tuesday. Unlike his predecessors, Trump has not invited any members of Congress from the opposing party or any members of the media.
  51. Again demonstrating his affinity for military ceremonies, the White House announced Trump said he will speak at the US Naval Academy Commencement next month.
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New York City. February 2018.
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Sidewalk stencil. Brooklyn, New York. February 2018. 
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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 74: DOUCHES & DUNCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 73: “THE GREAT POLITICAL SWINDLE” ~ god SAVE AMERICA

*Unfortunately, for our country, this list, PROVEN, as well as supported by The National Library of Congress, is getting longer and longer every week. 

** In an effort to make it more reader-friendly and easier to digest, I’ve broken it up  most of the way, by inserting a photo (all taken by me,) between every 20 facts.

*** This list is by Amy Siskind and the link to her actual list is highlighted below. PLEASE, if these facts strike a chord and mean something to you, PLEASE share this post. Street Art comes in many forms, but no matter what, it gives a voice to the voiceless. Help us to make their voices heard. Resoundingly. 

Week 72 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

March 31, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-72-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-15d0c913ef70

In a week some described as relatively quiet on the news front heading into Passover and Easter, Trump continued to seize power. Trump is acting increasingly strident and confident in his — and solely his — abilities and judgment. As Hope Hicks departed and Trump had yet to name her replacement, news stories indicated Trump is considering becoming his own press secretary, as well as possibly his own chief of staff. Trump continues to be scattered legislatively, save his obsession with his border wall, while continuing to strike out at adversaries, this week’s favored target being Amazon.

Trump’s remaining inner-circle continues to be plagued by possible ethics violations and incompetence. With the exit of attorney John Dowd, Trump is without a lead counsel in the Mueller probe, as he also faces threats on a number of other fronts including Stephanie Clifford, the emoluments clause and the unraveling of Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in the US election.

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Venice Beach, California. 25march2018.
  1. In a case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal appeals court rejected the position of Sessions’ DOJ and ruled transgender people are protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bans workplace discrimination based on sex.
  2. Fake photos of the teens who spoke at March For Our Lives went viral on the far right. One photo showed leader Emma Gonzalez and other leaders ripping up what was photoshopped to be the Constitution.
  3. Rep. Steve King attacked Gonzalez for her Cuban heritage on his Facebook page: “This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don’t speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island.”
  4. Rep. King was excoriated by critics for his post about Emma Gonzalez. His staff responded, “just pointing out the irony of someone wearing a communist flag while advocating for gun control. — Team King”
  5. On Sunday, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said Joseph DiGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing would not be joining Trump’s legal team in the Mueller probe, citing conflicts of interest.
  6. Having lost lead attorney John Dowd as well last week, this leaves Trump without a traditional criminal defense attorney as Mueller’s team enters a critical phase in its investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
  7. On Sunday, Trump sent two tweets, claiming top lawyers want to represent him and “Fame & fortune will NEVER be turned down by a lawyer, though some are conflicted,” adding “there was NO COLLUSION.”
  8. Trump also tweeted about “the $1.6 Billion given to building and fixing the border wall” in the spending bill. The law says funds can be used only to repair and build previously approved fencing, not to build a new wall.
  9. The law also bars construction on a Texas wildlife preserve that the Trump regime had previously identified as a starting point for work on a new border wall in Week 37.
  10. On Tuesday, WAPO reported that privately, Trump has started pushing the US military to fund construction of his border wall, saying Jim Mattis and congressional leaders could push for the funding citing a “national security” risk.
  11. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted construction of his border wall has begun, and included four photos. This statement false: Trump’s border wall has not been started, and the photos are from a 2009 replacement project.
  12. California’s senators and Democratic colleagues called for a probe into the resignation of San Francisco ICE spokesperson James Schwab, who resigned in Week 70 citing false statements made by the Trump regime.
  13. A new Indiana law requires all doctors to ask every woman seeking treatment for a physical or psychological condition whether she haspreviously had an abortion “in any way connected to the ailment.”
  14. Intercept reported, according to a string of emails and documents obtained through a public records request, ICE uses backend Facebook data to locate and track immigrants that it is working to round up.
  15. According to a directive shared by ICE on Thursday, the Trump regime will abandon a policy of generally releasing pregnant women from immigrant detention, instead deciding on a case-by-case basis.
  16. On Friday, in a big victory for the ACLU, a US District Court judge in Washington DC ruled that the Trump regime cannot block undocumented teens from getting abortions.
  17. On Friday, ABC News reported halfway through the fiscal year (October 1, 2017), the Trump regime has admitted less than a quarter of its proposed refugees ceiling: just 10,548 out of the 45,000.
  18. The regime’s cap of 45,000 is the lowest since the refugee admissions program began in 1975. Obama has set the cap at 110,000 for the fiscal year, and Trump lowered it once taking office.
  19. Under rules proposed by the State Department Friday, nearly all applicants for a visa to the US, an estimated 14.7 million people per year, will be asked to submit their social-media usernames for the past five years.
  20. The proposal covers 20 social media platforms, and includes people wanting to come to the US for business or pleasure, including countries such as Brazil, China, India and Mexico.
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On a t-shirt through the window in an East Village, New York City shop. November 2017.
  1. On Monday the Commerce Department announced that the 2020 US Census will include a question about citizenship. Opponents fear this will lead to inaccurate population counts, affecting the distribution of federal funding and redistricting for House seats.
  2. Career officials at the Census Bureau were critical of the plan to add the question, but Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross decided to include it despite their input. The census has not asked participants about citizenship since 1950.
  3. In a draft of the 2020 US Census released Tuesday, questions regarding categories of sexual orientation and gender identity were removed, sparking outrage from LGBTQ advocacy groups.
  4. Data in census categories — for example race, gender, length of commute — are used by federal agencies make decisions about law enforcement, health care, equal employment opportunities, and more.
  5. Politico reported, based on interviews, public documents, and FEMA records the hurricane response by the Trump regime in Puerto Rico was significantly undersized compared to the response to Hurricane Harvey.
  6. Within 9 days of the storms, FEMA had approved $141.8 million in individual assistance for victims of Harvey, and only $6.2 million for victims of Hurricane Maria.
  7. Also nine days in, the federal government had dispatched 30,000 personnel in the Houston region, compared to only 10,000 at the same point after Maria.
  8. Puerto Rico was strong-armed into using an experimental funding formula to access federal funds for rebuilding. The formula requires that Puerto Rico pay for any excess costs in the rebuilding effort. The funding formula has never been used for a disaster of this scale.
  9. Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Seattle’s KOMO-TV is now being forced by owner Sinclair Broadcasting to read Sinclair-written scripts warning of the dangers of “one-sided news stories plaguing our country.”
  10. Sinclair has also imposed must-run segments on things like the “Deep State” produced by Sinclair’s Kristine Frazao, who prior worked as a reporter and anchor for the Russian-government funded news network RT.
  11. On Monday, CNN reported Secretary Ryan Zinke told Interior Department staffers that diversity isn’t important. Three high ranking officials in say he said, “I don’t care about diversity,” or “I don’t really think that’s important anymore.”
  12. On Monday, three more contractors in Secretary Ben Carson’s Department of Housing and Urban Development lost their jobs over a widening ethics controversy surrounding Accel Corporation, a private employment agency, and their staffing arrangement with HUD.
  13. After interviewing over 20 insiders and reviewing internal emails NYT reported that HUD appears to be abandoning efforts to enforce fair housing laws.
  14. In Week 69 Carson changed HUD’s mission statement, eliminating the mandate to “build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.”
  15. Diana Flynn, a top civil rights lawyer in the Justice Department, is resigning and will become the litigation director at Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ advocacy organization which is currently suing to stop Trump’s transgender military ban.
  16. The Trump administration has established an anti-regulation litmus test for judicial appointments, with the hope to weaken what they have labeled the “administrative state.”
  17. WSJ reported Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency agreed to test a water-purification system developed by Water-Gen Ltd., an Israeli technology company, at the request of Republican donor and Trump ally, Sheldon Adelson.
  18. The Trump regime picked a new fight with the state of California, as the EPA’s Pruitt reportedly will move to roll back an Obama-era goal to have car makers meet a 54.5 mpg standard by 2025, one of Obama’s signature efforts to fight climate change.
  19. The move would be a victory for carmakers, and could allow them to roll back industry standards worldwide. The move would also be likely to spark a courtroom challenge from California.
  20. HuffPost received a leaked memo from the Office of Public Affairs at Pruitt’s EPA which listed eight approved talking points regarding climate change. The talking points downplay the role humans play in climate change, stating that the toll of human action on the climate is unknown.
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Chelsea, Manhattan, NYC. November 2017.
  1. On Thursday, ABC News reported Pruitt has been living in a DC condo co-owned with his wife by Stephen Hart, CEO of the lobbying firm Williams and Jensen, which represents a roster of fossil fuel companies.
  2. WAPO reported that clients of Hart’s firm include Exxon Mobil Corp. and the major liquefied natural gas exporter Cheniere Energy Inc. Market rate rent in the area run at more than $3,000 for two bedrooms per month.
  3. On Friday, WAPO reported Pruitt is paying just $50 per night for the nights he stays in the condo. According to EPA officials, Pruitt has paid a total of $6,100 to stay in the condo for roughly six months.
  4. ABC News reported that Pruitt’s daughter also stayed in the condo. Justina Fugh, a EPA ethics lawyer, did not know about the arrangement, but said she did not immediately see it as an ethical concern since Pruitt was paying for the room.
  5. On Friday, CNN reported that according to a letter by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Pruitt used his security detail while on non-official business, including trips home to Tulsa, a family vacation to Disneyland, and the Rose Bowl.
  6. According to a July 2014 memo obtained by MSNBC, Rudy Giuliani’s law firm warned Cambridge Analytica foreign citizens could not play “substantive management” roles in the running of US election campaigns.
  7. On Sunday, Sen. Mark Warner told “Meet the Press” that Facebook has not been fully transparent with Congress about the data leak, saying when he questioned the company about Cambridge Analytica they “blew that off.”
  8. Corey Lewandowski said Sunday he never approved contact with Cambridge Analytica while working for Trump, saying, “They pitched me three times, three times I said no.”
  9. On Monday, watchdog group Common Cause filed legal complaints with the FEC and DOJ accusing Cambridge Analytica, SCL Group, Nix, Christopher Wylie, and others of violating US election laws as non-US citizens by participating in the decision-making process of US political campaigns.
  10. Mark Zuckerberg has been called to testify before Congress on April 10 at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on data privacy, and on April 12 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
  11. NYT reported that an employee of Palantir, the data analysis company co-founded by Trump supporter Peter Thiel, was directly involved with Cambridge Analytica and the creation of an app that was used to scrape Facebook users’ data.
  12. Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie alleged that pro-Brexit campaign Vote Leave engaged in fraud to skirt election spending laws.
  13. In an interview with The Daily Beast Wylie said he didn’t come forward earlier with information about Cambridge Analytica, waiting until long after the US election and Brexit, because he “didn’t fully appreciate the impact.”
  14. A super PAC run by John Bolton was one of the first organizations to use the Facebook data mined by Cambridge Analytica in 2014. The super PAC held a $454,700 contract with the company to gain “behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging.”
  15. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported, according to records released to the UK Parliament, Cambridge Analytica gave Bolton’s PAC data harvested from millions of Facebook users. The papers were produced by Wylie.
  16. Emails released show SCL Group discussed with Aggregate IQ, a Canadian company that worked closely with both Cambridge Analytica and SCL, how it could release information on how to target voters in several US states to Bolton’s PAC.
  17. On Sunday, Stephanie Clifford appeared on “60 Minutes,” saying she stayed silent because of fear. She said she was threatened with a lawsuit by Michael Cohen in 2011 after selling her story for $15,000.
  18. Shortly after, she was approached by a stranger in a parking lot who told her, “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,” adding, of her daughter, “That’s a beautiful little girl, it would be a shame if something happened to her mom.”
  19. The night they met, Clifford said she told Trump, “Someone should take that magazine and spank you with it,” to get him to stop talking about himself. It was a magazine with Trump on the cover, and she claims she spanked him with it, wearing his underwear.
  20. Trevor Potter, former chair of the Federal Election Commission, was also interviewed and compared the case to John Edwards, but said the paying off was worse because it happened right before election day on a hot topic.
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New York City, February 2018.
  1. Potter also said Mueller could look into Clifford’s case as part of his investigation of Cohen, also the middleman for the Trump Organization for negotiations with Russia for a Trump Tower Moscow.
  2. The interview was the highest-rated episode of “60 Minutes” in 10 years, attracting 22 million viewers.
  3. On Monday, Trump was uncharacteristically silent on Clifford’s interview, refraining from sending a single tweet or making any comment.
  4. On Monday, Clifford’s lawyer Michael Avenatti sued Cohen for defamation, saying Cohen defamed Clifford by insinuating she lied about an affair with Trump. The complaint also says the hush agreement is invalid since Trump did not sign it.
  5. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders angrily deflected questions about Stephanie Clifford at a press conference on Tuesday, two days after Clifford’s appearance on “60 Minutes.”
  6. On Wednesday, Michael Avenatti filed a motion in a federal court in California seeking to depose Trump and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohenover the $130,000 payment made to Clifford.
  7. On Wednesday, David Schwartz, the lawyer for Cohen, said in an CNN interview that Cohen did not tell Trump about the hush agreement to pay Clifford $130,000 in 2016.
  8. Avenatti said Schwartz’s comments prove the hush agreement was invalid. Experts say Schwartz’s comments could also result in an ethics complaintagainst Cohen with the New York bar association.
  9. On Monday, Dan Webb, a prominent white-collar-defense lawyer for the firm Winston and Strawn, declined an offer to lead Trump’s legal defensein the Mueller probe.
  10. Trump had also reached out to Tom Buchanan, a DC-based partner of Winston and Strawn, to join his legal team. The firm issued a statement citing “business conflicts” for why the two declined.
  11. Most top-tier lawyers have refused to represent Trump in Mueller’s Russia investigation. Instead, Reuters reports, an assistant DA from Georgia, Andrew Ekonomou, has been elevated on Jay Sekulow’s legal team working on the case.
  12. On Monday, a new CNN poll found Trump’s approval up to 42%, the highest in eleven months. Trump showed improvement from February with Republican voters (80% to 86%) and independents (35% to 41%).
  13. On Monday, NYT reported with Trump’s inner circle thinning, he is increasingly in touch with Rob Porter. Trump has spoken with aides about bringing Porter back, although he knows he probably cannot do so.
  14. On Monday, WSJ reported White House attorneys are examining whethertwo loans, from Apollo and Citigroup, to Kushner’s family business may have violated any criminal laws or federal ethics regulations.
  15. The Office of Government Ethics is investigating after receiving a letter from Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, saying the loans, “raise serious ethical questions that need to be investigated.”
  16. Reps. Elijah Cummings and Krishnamoorthi wrote attorney Don McGahn requesting documents from a White House review into dealings Kushner Cos. had with Citigroup and Apollo Group Management. Jared held meetings in the White House with leaders from both financial groups.
  17. On Monday, Politico reported associates of Trump are concerned about what Rick Gates may reveal to Robert Mueller following last month’s plea deal. One Republican consultant commented, “He saw everything.”
  18. On Tuesday Mueller’s team filed court papers arguing for jail time for Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer and Dutch citizen who lied about his interactions with Gates and an unidentified person. Van der Zwaan will be the first person to be sentenced in the investigation.
  19. Sen. Ron Wyden requested internal records from the NRA regarding foreign funding received over the past three years. Wyden wants to determine if any foreign funds were used to influence US elections.
  20. On Tuesday, Mueller released documents revealing top Trump campaign official Gates had frequent conversations in September and October 2016 with a person believed to have active links to Russian spy services.
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East Village, New York City. February 2018.
  1. The documents revealed Gates told an associate his contact “was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with the G.R.U.,” the Russian military intelligence agency. In the document, he is known as “Person A.”
  2. The document states communications between Gates and Person A are “pertinent to the investigation.” Sources say Person A is likely Konstantin Kilimnik, Manafort’s right-hand man in Ukraine.
  3. The document is a sentencing memo for Alex van der Zwaan, who worked closed with Gates and Person A to prepare a report used to defend Viktor Yanukovych, and in Week 67 was revealed to have lied to Mueller’s team.
  4. On Friday, VICE reported Congress is looking into an August 2016 flight on a private jet linked to Deripaska which traveled from Moscow to Newark, then flew back to Moscow that same afternoon.
  5. The flight arrived with hours of a meeting in Manhattan between Manafort and Kilimnik. Weeks prior, Manafort had Kilimnik reach out to Deripaska and told him “to extend an offer of ‘private briefings.’”
  6. On Wednesday, NYT reported Dowd broached the idea of Trump pardoning Manafort and Michael Flynn with their attorneys, suggesting Trump’s lawyers were concerned the two would cut a deal in exchange for leniency.
  7. The revelation raises concerns that Dowd, who resigned as Trump’s lead counsel in Week 71, was offering pardons to influence their decisions on whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the Mueller probe.
  8. Dowd’s conversation with Flynn’s attorney took place during the summerof 2017, at a time when a grand jury was hearing evidence against Flynn. His conversation with Manafort’s attorney took place before Manafort was indicted in October.
  9. It is not known if Dowd discussed the pardons with Trump. When contacted by the NYT, Dowd said, “There were no discussions. Period. As far as I know, no discussions.”
  10. On Thursday, The Guardian reported that in 2010 a small group of businessmen, including wealthy supporters of Putin, started working with Trump on plans for a glitzy hotel in Riga, the capital of Latvia.
  11. Talks with Trump’s company were abandoned after Russian Igor Krutoy, who had met with Trump and Ivanka at Trump Tower, was questioned by Latvian authorities as part of a major criminal inquiry. Latvian authorities also reached out to the FBI.
  12. Krutoy has written music for Emin Agalarov, the Russian singer involved with setting up the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. Krutoy was also a celebrity representative for Putin’s 2018 election campaign.
  13. On Thursday, Reuters reported Mueller’s team is questioning witnesses about the Trump campaign’s contact with Russians at the Republican National Convention in July 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.
  14. Witnesses have been asked about a convention-related event attended by both Kislyak and Sessions, and also about why Republican Party platformlanguage hostile to Russia was deleted from a section on Ukraine.
  15. One witness said they were also asked by Mueller’s team about a meeting Sessions had with Kislyak on the sidelines of a campaign speech Trump gave at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel in April 2016.
  16. The government of Ecuador cut off Julian Assange’s internet access after he made a series of tweets stating that the evidence Russia poisoned a former spy and his daughter was “circumstantial.” Assange lives in the London embassy of Ecuador, where he is seeking asylum.
  17. On Friday, Ted Malloch, an American touted as a possible candidate to serve as US ambassador to the EU last year, was detained as he landed at Logan Airport, and issued a subpoena to testify in the Mueller probe.
  18. Malloch is a controversial London-based academic with close ties to Nigel Farage. Guardian reported Malloch was questioned about his involvement in the Trump campaign and instructed lying to the FBI is a felony.
  19. Malloch said the FBI asked about Roger Stone, and whether he had ever visited the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Assange resided. He will appear before Mueller’s grand jury in Washington DC on April 13.
  20. On Friday, Yevgeniy Nikulin, a Russian accused of hacking US technology companies in 2012, was extradited to the Czech Republic. Sessions called the case “deeply troubling behavior once again emanating from Russia.”
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Wynwood, Miami, Florida. December 2017.
  1. The Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship has been renamed by the State Department as the Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship. An insider suggested it may have been renamed to escape Trump’s budget cuts.
  2. Seth Rich’s brother has filed a lawsuit accusing right-wing activists Ed Butowsky and Matt Crouch, Crouch’s media company America First Media, and The Washington Times of acting “with reckless disregard for the truth” by perpetuating conspiracy theories.
  3. On Wednesday Trump tweeted that his administration “stands in solidarity” with Orange County, which joined the administration’s lawsuit challenging the “sanctuary state” law, SB 54.
  4. On Wednesday, all 22 female senators wrote in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that the Senate must begin to debate anti-harassment legislation.
  5. On Wednesday, a federal judge in Maryland ruled a lawsuit accusing Trump of violating the emoluments clause by refusing to divorce himself from his businesses may proceed.
  6. The judge refused a plea from Sessions’ DOJ to dismiss the lawsuit. A similar lawsuit was dismissed in New York in December, when the judge ruled the watchdog group CREW did not have standing.
  7. On Wednesday, CBS News reported as communication director Hope Hicks prepares to leave the White House, the communication department is filled with chaos and in-fighting.
  8. Staffers are reportedly unsure what to expect “in a lawless White House,” noting Trump thrives on chaos and resents authority, process and order.
  9. Hicks’ last day of work was Wednesday. As Wednesday came to a close, even though Hicks resigned in Week 68, Trump had yet to name an interim communication director.
  10. On Wednesday, Trump hired 22 year-old Disney star Caroline Sunshine to join the White House communications team as a press assistant. Sunshine has no prior relevant experience in communications.
  11. Trump is reportedly being told by outside advisers that the doesn’t need a communications or chief of staff. Trump is frustrated at the management structure in the West Wing, believing it doesn’t suit his freewheeling style.
  12. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported John Kelly is losing some clout in Trump’s White House as he has been out of the decision making process on several occasions recently, including the firing of H.R. McMaster in Week 71.
  13. Kelly is also now rarely on the line when Trump speaks with foreign leaders, including Trump’s recent call with Putin. Aides say recently Kelly is less aware of what’s on Trump’s mind and what he’s planning to do next,
  14. On Wednesday Trump fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and hopes to replace him with the White House doctor Ronny Jackson, a White House physician and rear admiral in the Navy.
  15. Trump announced his nomination via Twitter. Jackson has no experience running a bureaucratic institution, and would inherit an agency with major problems and quickly face crucial, multibillion-dollar decisions.
  16. On an op-ed Wednesday, Shulkin said he was fired so Trump could privatize the VA and turn into a money making operation for his friends, warning they would put their personal agendas in front of the well-being of our veterans.
  17. On Friday, Shulkin told MSNBC he spoken to Trump hours before he was fired, and Trump didn’t mention his imminent firing. Shulkin said he was informed by Kelly of his firing shortly before Trump’s tweet.
  18. Trump had considered “Fox & Friends Weekend” co-host Pete Hegseth for the position of VA Secretary, but reportedly Hegseth, who has had issues in his personal life, did not want to go through the confirmation process.
  19. Defense Secretary James Mattis is finding himself more isolated in the administration after Trump appointed the aggressive hawks John Bolton to national security adviser and Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State.
  20. WAPO reported Trump’s Presidential Personnel Office (PPO), the office responsible for recruiting and vetting thousands of political appointees, ishobbled by inexperience and being short-staffed.
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New York City, February 2108.
  1. PPO is responsible for recruiting and vetting candidates for more than 4,000 jobs, more than 1,200 requiring Senate approval. The office has just 30 employees, less than a third of prior administrations.
  2. Six of the staffers over the age of 35 left shortly after Trump took office.Most staffers are in their 20s and have not relevant experience but worked on the Trump campaign. The PPO floor has become a social hub.
  3. On Monday, the US and 14 European Union members expelled scores of Russian diplomats in response to Russia’s alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.
  4. Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russians, including 12 people identified as Russian intelligence officers who have been stationed at the United Nations, as well as closing the Russian consulate in Seattle.
  5. On Thursday, the Kremlin ordered an equivalent number of expulsions, as well as the closing of the American Consulate in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, citing an “anti-Russian campaign” orchestrated by the US and UK.
  6. On Thursday, NBC News reported that when Trump finally signed off on providing US weapons to Ukraine to help in their fight against Russian-backed separatists, Trump told aides not to talk about it publicly.
  7. Reportedly, Trump was concerned speaking about it publicly may agitate Putin. However officials claim in Trump’s phone call to congratulate Putin, he also said, “If you want to have an arms race we can do that, but I’ll win.”
  8. On Friday, Russia released a video of a missile test for ‘Satan 2,’ its new intercontinental ballistic missile. Sputnik claimed the missile is “capable of striking targets both via the North and South Poles.”
  9. On Wednesday, Axios reported that, according to inside sources, Trump is “obsessed with Amazon” and wants “to go after Amazon with antitrust or competition law.”
  10. Amazon’s owner, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post — a media outlet frequently attacked by Trump. Reportedly, Trump’s friends in real estate are also upset about Amazon’s impact on their shopping mall holdings.
  11. On Wednesday, Amazon stock dropped more than 4%, wiping out more than $31 billion in shareholder value, and was down 6% for the week.
  12. On Thursday, Trump tweeted attacks on Amazon: “Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy,” and “Amazon is doing great damage to tax paying retailers.”
  13. On Saturday, Trump was again tweeting about Amazon, calling the company a “scam” and falsely claiming the post offices loses “Billions of Dollars” because of Amazon.
  14. At a speech at Yale, after joking he wasn’t going to talk about the 2016 election, saying “I’m still in therapy,” Jeb Bush attacked Trump as “Republican in basically name only,” adding he goes home to children who “actually love me.”
  15. Eric and Donald Jr. took to Twitter to fire back at Bush, with Donald Jr. tweeting, Trump learned enough about politics in a few weeks to “dismantle you piece by piece despite it being your life’s work.”
  16. On Thursday, in what was billed as an infrastructure event before a crowd of union builders in Richfield, Ohio, Trump instead turned it into stream of consciousness-type of campaign rally-style speech.
  17. Trump harped on his Mexico wall, while comparing the border to the “demilitarized zone between North and South Korea,” adding “But our own border, we don’t take care of it. Think of it.”
  18. Trump mocked Obama for leaving so many judicial posts vacant, ignoring the Republican-controlled Senate for two years, “When I got in, we had over 100 federal judges that weren’t appointed…Why the hell did he leave that?”
  19. Trump also dismissed the country’s community colleges saying, “We do not know what a ‘community college’ means,” saying “call it vocational and technical,” indicating he didn’t know the difference between the two.
  20. Trump also said the US will end its military presence in Syria “very soon,” contradicting statements by his new SoS Pompeo and his incoming national security John Bolton, who have both said US troops should stay there for the foreseeable future.
  21. Trump also touched on random topics including the firing of Shulkin, North Korea, and complimented the success of his supporter Roseanne Barr’s reboot of her sitcom, “Look at Roseanne — look at her ratings.”
  22. On Friday, Roseanne tweeted, “Trump has freed so many children held in bondage to pimps all over this world. Hundreds each month.” This pro-Trump conspiracy theory originated with QAnon, a user on the anonymous message board 4chan.
  23. On Thursday, Andrew McCabe set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for his legal fees. In the first 24 hours, McCabe raised close to half a million dollars.
  24. On Thursday, Sessions rebuffed a call by Republicans to appoint a second special counsel to look into the FBI’s handling of its most high profile probes, saying such appointments occur only in “extraordinary circumstances.”
  25. Sessions revealed he instead has named US Attorney John Huber to look into these topics, including the DOJ’s and FBI’s actions in 2016 and 2017, and several matters related to Hillary Clinton and her family’s foundation.
  26. On Friday, after apologizing for mocking Parkland student David Hogg, and losing 14 of her show’s sponsors, Fox News host Laura Ingraham announced on her show that she would be taking a break being on-air.
  27. Despite being accused by at least 15 women of sexual misconduct, several of which are currently live cases, Trump issued a proclamation Friday designating April National Sexual Assault Awareness month.
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New York City, February 2018.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 72: “RULING AS A PARTY OF ONE”

Week 71 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

March 24, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-71-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-e56ab486d504

This week Cambridge Analytica became a full-blown UK and US scandal, as the company came under scrutiny for harvesting the data of 50 million Facebook users and using it to impact the 2016 US election, possibly in cooperation with Russia. British authorities raided the company late Friday, while back home, Facebook faced a backlash from users and Congress for mishandling the security of personal information and for the company’s flat-footed and weak response to the crisis.

This week Trump is increasingly ruling as a party of one, making decisions and taking actions on his own, without consultation or planning. After losing his national security advisor and lead attorney in the Mueller probe, Trump is leaving positions unfilled or filling them with sycophants and cable-tv personalities. This week, Trump heightened his attacks on Mueller, as he has shifted to a more aggressive stance in all matters, including the Russia probe. Trump is in danger from several looming threats including the Mueller probe, fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and women coming forward to tell their stories.

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Jacksonville, FL February 2018. Artist: Tommy Amgdn
  1. On Saturday, Axios reported Andrew McCabe met with Mueller’s team, and turned over memos, including information that will corroborate James Comey’s account of his firing by Trump.
  2. On Saturday and Sunday, Trump sent a series of error-filled tweets blasting the Russia probe and familiar targets like Comey and Hillary Clinton, and for the first time, directly attacking Mueller.
  3. As he had hours after the firing, Trump again attacking McCabe with false claims, “How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife’s campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M,” adding “Comey knew it all.”
  4. Trump also tweeted “The Mueller probe should never have been started,” saying there was “no collusion and there was no crime.” This is false. Four Trump aides and 13 Russians have been charged with crimes.
  5. Trump tweeted the investigation was based on a “Fake Dossier paid for by Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!” This is also false.
  6. Trump tweeted, “House Intelligence Committee has concluded, there wasno collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign.” This is not true. Trump also accused Comey of lying under oath to Senators.
  7. Trump complained that Mueller’s team has “13 hardened Democrats,” and “Zero Republicans.” Both Mueller and Rod Rosenstein are Republicans, and federal regulation prohibits the Department of Justice from considering political affiliation.
  8. On Monday, Trump plugged Hannity, “.@seanhannity on @foxandfriends now! Great! 8:18 A.M.” Hannity told “Fox & Friends” he expects “criminal charges” against McCabe, and that Trump will not fire Mueller.
  9. On Monday, Mississippi’s governor signed into law an abortion ban at 15 weeks, the earliest abortion ban in the country. On Tuesday, a federal judge temporarily blocked the ban.
  10. On Tuesday, Trump ally Rep. Louie Gohmert introduced a resolution in the House which would declare March 31st, Cesar Chavez’s birthday, “National Border Control Day.”
  11. On Tuesday, NPR reported Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services, created a new division, the Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom, saying religious freedom is “the first freedom.”
  12. On Friday evening, the White House announced a policy to ban most transgender individuals, including those requiring medications and surgery, from serving in the military.
  13. According to press secretary Sarah Sanders, unlike Trump’s July 2017 tweet which occurred without foresight or planning, the new policy was “developed through extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders, including combat veterans.”
  14. On Tuesday, as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos prepared to go before Congress, NYT reported she had withheld vital information from her staff on the department’s budget for the fiscal year that begins in October.
  15. DeVos’s budget calls for a 5% spending cut, including eliminating dozens of programs, and pitches a $1 billion school choice proposal. Information driving budget decisions was omitted from materials given to Congress.
  16. Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters quit as a Fox News analyst, saying the cable-tv network had degenerated into a “propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration,” adding, “now I am ashamed.”
  17. On Wednesday, Trump’s golf club in Westchester County, New York petitioned the Department of Labor to use the federal H-2 visa program to bring in foreign workers to serve as waiters, waitresses, and cooks.
  18. AP reported EPA administrator Scott Pruitt spent more than $120,000 in public funds last summer for a trip to Italy that included a meeting with G-7 ministers and a private tour of the Vatican. Pruitt’s security detail cost more than $30,500.
  19. On Wednesday, Politico reported Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his wife took a security detail on their vacation to Greece and Turkey last year. Unlike Pruitt, Zinke was not conducting government business on his two-week vacation.
  20. On Tuesday, a filing by the Republican National Committee showed the committee spent $271,000 at Trump private businesses in February, and 86% of expenses were categorized as “venue rental and catering.”
  21. CNBC reported the RNC spent a total of $424,000 in the first two months of 2018, more than 100 times what the committee spent at Trump’s properties during the same two-month period in 2017.
  22. On Saturday, NYT reported despite CEO Alexander Nix telling the UK Parliament, “We’ve never worked in Russia,” employees of Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group had contact with Russian oil giant Lukoil in 2014 and 2015.
  23. According to two former employees, there were at least three meetings with Lukoil executives in London and Turkey, and Lukoil was interested in how data was used to target American voters.
  24. Lukoil is not state-owned, but depends on Kremlin support, and its CEO has met with Putin on numerous occasions. The company has been used as a vehicle of government influence, and is on the US sanctions list.
  25. On Saturday, The Observer reported Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge University academic who harvested Facebook data, had a previously undisclosed teaching position and grants from a Russian university.
  26. On Sunday, a shocking exposé in The Guardian told the story of Christopher Wylie, and his role as an employee at Cambridge Analytica, where he used data hacked from Facebook to influence to target the US electorate.
  27. The story also detailed Wylie’s meetings with Steve Bannon in 2013, who then booked him to meet with Robert and Rebekah Mercer. Wylie, who says he “made Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool,” is now a whistleblower.
  28. On Monday, UK’s Channel 4 News broadcast an undercover investigation of Cambridge Analytica taped between November 2017 and January 2018 at various meeting with senior company officials, including CEO Nix.
  29. In the tapes, Cambridge Analytica executives explain harvesting damaging material on opponents and spreading it through social media, as well as using bribes, ex-spies, fake IDs, and sex workers to influence elections.
  30. On Monday evening, Elizabeth Denham, the UK Information Commissioner, said her office is applying for a warrant to raid the offices of Cambridge Analytica and seize their servers.
  31. Facebook’s forensics investigators, firm Stroz Friedberg, were at Cambridge Analytica’s offices Monday night were told by Facebook to “stand down” at the request of the Information Commissioner’s Office.
  32. On Monday, the European Commission said its region’s data protection authorities will investigate Facebook’s sharing of data with Cambridge Analytica as a possible breach of data protection laws.
  33. The European Commission’s Justice commissioner, Vera Jourova, said she will raise the issue with in Washington DC this week during her scheduled meetings with Jeff Sessions and Wilbur Ross on Tuesday.
  34. On Tuesday, Cambridge Analytica suspended its CEO Nix and launched an independent investigation to determine if the company engaged in any wrongdoing. Nix was set to arrive from London to the US on Tuesday.
  35. In a statement, a spokesperson for Cambridge Analytica said its political division did not use Facebook data. The company also said the Channel 4 video “edited and scripted to grossly misrepresent” the conversations.
  36. On Monday, Wylie, told “The Today Show” that while he was at Cambridge Analytica, the company met with Trump’s campaign manager at the time, Corey Lewandowski.
  37. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Wylie also said Bannon oversaw Cambridge Analytica’s early efforts in 2014 to collect data to build detailed profiles on millions of American voters ahead of the 2016 election.
  38. Bannon served as vice president and secretary from June 2014 to August 2016, when he joined the Trump campaign. Bannon okayed the $1 million expenditure to acquire the data, including Facebook profiles, in 2014.
  39. Bannon tested the messages “drain the swamp” and “deep state.” The company also tested views on Putin. Wylie added, “there’s a lot of Americans who really like this idea of a really strong authoritarian leader.”
  40. Wylie noted Trump started to utilize those terms in his stump speeches once Bannon joined the campaign. Wylie also fears the Facebook data was turned over to Russians who aimed to interfere with the US election.
  41. Facebook staffers were set to brief several congressional committees, including House Energy and Commerce, Senate and House Intelligence, and Senate and House Judiciary. Democrats want hear from CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  42. On Wednesday, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg broke his silence with a post on Facebook saying the company made “mistakes” and outlined how it has changed its policies to make sure that user data is protected.
  43. Later that day in his first tv-interview, Zuckerberg told CNN, “I’m really sorry that this happened,” and said he’d “be happy” to testify. Both House and Senate committees have requested his testimony.
  44. On Wednesday, Aleksandr Kogan said he was being used as a “scapegoat.” He told BBC he was approached by Cambridge Analytica, and that all the information he provided was obtained legitimately.
  45. On Wednesday, AP reported that company filings show Cambridge Analytica has a link to a Chinese security and logistics company run by Erik Prince.
  46. On Friday, The Guardian reported the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) was granted a warrant to examine the records of Cambridge Analytica. Investigators completed a seven-hour search at 3 a.m. Saturday.
  47. On Friday, a leaked 27-page Cambridge Analytica internal memo obtained by The Guardian claimed the company won the White House for Trump by using Google, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
  48. On Monday, Trump hired Joseph diGenova for his legal team in the Mueller probe. A former United States attorney, diGenova is expected to usher in more aggressive and less cooperative stance with Mueller.
  49. Mr. diGenova is a frequent guest on Fox News, where he espouses a conspiracy theory that a group of people in the FBI and DOJ were trying to “frame Donald Trump” by concocting the Russia probe.
  50. On Monday, WAPO reported Trump’s team has turned over to Mueller written descriptions that chronicle key moments in hopes of avoiding a prolonged interview, and limiting the scope of what would be discussed.
  51. Trump has told aides he is “chomping at the bit” to be interviewed by Mueller’s team, but his lawyers, especially after his attacks on Twitter, are trying to limit the in-person exposure.
  52. On Monday, WAPO reported that diGenova’s hire caught many Trump advisers by surprise, prompting fears Trump is planning a shake-up. Trump continues to complain his lawyers and are not protecting him.
  53. Trump is also not consulting with top advisers, including chief of staff John Kelly and chief White House attorney Don McGahn, on his comments about the probe. Reportedly, he is instead watching television and calling friends.
  54. On Monday, NYT reported Trump is considering reshuffling his legal team. including firing Ty Cobb, who has advocated for cooperating with Mueller. Trump is also discussing adding additional lawyers to the team.
  55. On Monday, NYT reported John Dowd is considering resigning from Trump’s legal team, fearing he has no control of Trump’s behavior, especially recently when Trump has gone on an aggressive attack of Mueller himself.
  56. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Trump reached out to Theodore Olson, a former solicitor general to George W. Bush and seasoned litigator, to join his legal team. Olson declined.
  57. On Thursday, Dowd resigned as Trump’ lead lawyer in the Mueller probe. Reportedly, Trump broke with Dowd on whether he should agree to be questioned by Mueller’s team.
  58. Dowd has also said Trump has ignored his advice, including tweeting about Mueller and other topics hours about Dowd told him not to. Dowd was also “blindsided” that Trump was interviewing other candidates.
  59. Shortly after Dowd resigned, Trump said he would like to clear his name by testifying. With Dowd gone, Trump is likely to adopt a more aggressive stance against Mueller.
  60. On Thursday, WAPO reported Trump is having trouble finding top-notch lawyers to represent him in the Mueller probe. Several prominent white-collar lawyers have, like Olson and Emmet Flood, turned down offers.
  61. Some law firms have signaled they don’t want the controversy of representing a unpopular and divisive leader, while others are claiming they have clients with conflicting interest.
  62. On Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Flake said he would support impeachment proceedings against Trump as a “remedy” if Trump moves to end the Mueller probe before it is completed “without cause.”
  63. On Wednesday, Trump kept up his attacks of Mueller, sending a series of typo-ridden tweets including, “I think President Trump was right when he said there never should have been a Special Council appointed.”
  64. Reuters reported three sources who have spoken to Mueller’s team contradicted Sessions’ testimony he “pushed back” against the proposalmade by George Papadopoulos at a March 2016 meeting to meet with Russians.
  65. On Tuesday at a news conference, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan list of a half-dozen recommendations for state and federal government to improve election security.
  66. Chairman Richard Burr said the committee is completing work on four core topics: election security, the intelligence community’s assessment of Russian meddling, the Obama administration’s response in 2016, and social media.
  67. Burr also said the committee would try to come to a conclusion about where the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. The bipartisan functioning put his committee in stark contrast to the House Intelligence Committee.
  68. On Wednesday, Department of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former department head Jeh Johnson testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the government’s response to Russian hacking and what was being done to protect us going forward.
  69. Senators from both parties knocked the Trump regime for not working quickly enough before the upcoming midterms, and also questioned missteps by the Obama administration for the 2016 election.
  70. Senators from both parties complained about the lack of urgency of state election officials getting security clearance to prepare for midterms: Nielsen said only 20 of 150 have cleared.
  71. On Thursday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to end their Russia probe, saying contacts between Trump associates and Russia feel short of collusion, saying contacts did not amount to active cooperation.
  72. The committee’s report recommended dramatic new steps to crack down on intelligence leaks, including administering “mandatory polygraphs” and stiffening legal penalties for leaking classified information.
  73. The report also accused Obama’s DNI James Clapper, an outspoken critic of Trump and the regime, of providing “inconsistent testimony” about his contacts with the media.
  74. On Friday, Trump tweeted just his delight about the finding, citing no collusion, and “The Obama Administrations Post election response was insufficient.” Trump also started targeting Clapper.
  75. Russia-state news agency RT also tweeted about committee’s finding: “No collusion: ‘We disagree with narrative that Russians were trying to help #Trump’ — House Intelligence Committee”
  76. Democratic-aligned group Center for American Progress prepared a report showing the Republicans had either no or incomplete information about 81 percent of the known contacts between Trump associates and Russia.
  77. The Center for American Progress report documents at least 70 contacts, including at least 22 high-ranking Trump campaign officials who knew about the contacts during the 2016 campaign and the transition.
  78. Daily Beast reported Guccifer 2.0, the hacker who took credit with providing WikiLeaks emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, was an officer in Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU).
  79. Trump’s close ally, Roger Stone, admitted to being in direct touch with Guccifer 2.0 during the campaign. Mueller’s team has taken over the investigation of Guccifer 2.0.
  80. Using IP addresses, investigators identified Guccifer 2.0 as a particular GRU officer working out of the agency’s headquarters in Moscow. Hacking organization “Fancy Bear” has also been traced to the GRU.
  81. On Friday, AP reported Mueller is examining the connections between the Trump campaign and Cambridge Analytica. Mueller’s team has asked former staffers about the Trump campaign’s data operations.
  82. Reportedly, Mueller’s team is interested in how the Trump campaign collected and utilized voter data in battleground states.
  83. Mueller is also asking members of Trump’s data team, which included analysts from the RNC, about its relationship with Cambridge Analytica, for which the campaign paid just under $6 million in 2016.
  84. Cambridge Analytica made several approaches to the Trump campaign starting in the spring of 2015 before Trump launched his campaign. The Trump campaign’s first payment of $100,000 came in July 2016.
  85. On Friday, WAPO reported that when a Russian news agency reached out to Papadopoulos in September 2016 election for an interview, he was told by deputy communications director Bryan Lanza, “You should do it.
  86. Emails described to WAPO indicate Papadopoulos had much more extensive contact with the Trump campaign and transition team, including Bannon and Michael Flynn, than has been publicly acknowledged.
  87. On Monday, WAPO reported Charles Kushner, Jared’s father, confirmed meeting with Qatar’s finance minister three months after Trump took office, and said he turned down possible funding to avoid questions of conflict of interest.
  88. On Monday, AP reported Kushner Cos. routinely filed false paperwork with New York City, declaring the company had no rent-regulated tenants in dozens of buildings across the city, when it actually had hundreds.
  89. In 2015, Kushner Cos. bought three apartment building in a gentrifying area of Queens and turned a 50% profit selling two years later by doing away with rent protections, raising rents, and pushing tenants out.
  90. On Wednesday, AP reported the New York City’s buildings regulatorlaunched an investigation into more than a dozen Kushner Cos. properties for filing false paperwork claiming it had zero rent-regulated tenants.
  91. On Wednesday, NYT reported UAE political adviser George Nader worked more than a year to turn top Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy into an instrument of influence at the White House for the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
  92. Nader’s cultivation of Broidy included the prospect of being awarded huge contracts for his private security company. Nader also paid Broidy $2.7 million for “consulting, marketing and other advisory services rendered,”
  93. Nader and Broidy both pushed for the firing of Rex Tillerson, backed confrontational approaches to Iran and Qatar, and pushed for a private meeting between Trump and the rule of the UAE outside the White House.
  94. Nader is the first witness in the Mueller probe to be granted immunity for his cooperation. Sources say Nader’s relationship with Broidy may offer clues as to the direction of the inquiry.
  95. On Wednesday, Intercept reported the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman boasted he has Kushner “in his pocket.” In later October 2017, Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh, spending several nights with the crown prince.
  96. On November 4, 2017 the crown prince launched an anti-corruption crackdown, arresting dozens of members of the Saudi royal family and imprisoning them at the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh.
  97. Reportedly, the Saudi figures named in the President’s Daily Brief, said to be critics of the crown prince, were among those rounded up, including at least one who was reportedly tortured.
  98. On Wednesday, Trump hosted the Saudi Crown Prince in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Of the 20 attendees — 10 from Saudi Arabia and 10 US — none were women.
  99. On Wednesday, WSJ reported federal prosecutors have dropped charges against 11 of the 15 bodyguards for Turkey’s Erdogan who were accused of beating protesters outside the Turkish Embassy in DC in Week 27.
  100. Seven of the charges were dropped on February 14, 2018, the day before Tillerson flew to Ankara for a meeting with Erdogan to ease tensions. US officials said no one pressured prosecutors to drop charges.
  101. On Wednesday, Citigroup said in a letter its loan to the Kushner Cos. was “completely appropriate,” despite the loan closing on March 31, 2017, less than a month after the bank’s CEO met with Kushner at the White House.
  102. The letter from Citigroup was in response to questions by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings and other Democrats. The bank wrote, “The Kushner family has been a client of Citi for decades.”
  103. On Wednesday, retired four-star general Barry McCaffrey called it “simply outrageous” that Kushner, who has no relevant experience but has ties to family business dealings is a leading representative of US foreign policy.
  104. On Sunday, WAPO reported in the early months of Trump taking office, senior White House staffers were asked to sign a nondisclosure agreementbecause Trump was upset about leaks.
  105. Reportedly Reince Priebus and McGahn both complied, knowing the agreement ultimately would not be enforceable. The agreement was similar to one Trump campaign staffers were forced to sign.
  106. On Wednesday, CNN reported senior White House officials did sign nondisclosure agreements. Trump was advised the agreements weren’t feasible for federal government employees and couldn’t be enforced.
  107. Ivanka and Jason Greenblatt, a former lawyer for the Trump Organization, supported the idea of the agreements. Eventually, McGahn relented and drafted a watered-down, unenforceable version of an agreement.
  108. News broke of a second Trump insider getting divorced in two weeks: White House aide Dan Scavino’s wife filed for divorce in mid-January.
  109. A bipartisan overhaul of Congress’ sexual misconduct system that was speeding along will not be attached a must-pass government spending bill this week, perhaps ending momentum for the harassment reform plan.
  110. Trump again pushed Republicans to change longstanding rules in the Senate in order to speed along his nominees, arguing for putting an end to 60 votes needed to invoke cloture.
  111. On Tuesday, the Kremlin was the first to report Trump called Putin to congratulate him on his re-election. Trump confirmed a “very good call” with Putin, and said the two would meet in the “not too distant future.”
  112. Trump also did not mention Russia’s meddling in the US election, instead focusing on “shared interests,” including North Korea and Ukraine, overruling his national security advisers.
  113. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Trump ignored specific warnings from his national security advisers for his call with Putin, including a section in his briefing materials which read, “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.”
  114. Trump also disregarded instructions to condemn Putin for the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK using nerve gas. Aside from the call, Trump has also yet to forcefully call out the attack.
  115. Trump saying “probably we’ll be seeing President Putin in the not-too-distant future,” caught aides by surprise. The two are not scheduled to be in the same country until November for a Group of 20 summit.
  116. Sen. John McCain issued a statement, saying a US leader “does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections.” In Week 23, Trump congratulated Turkey’s Erdogan on passing a referendum to consolidate power. Trump also praised China’s Xi for ending term limits.
  117. On Tuesday, CNN reported Trump was furious over how quickly it leaked that advisers told him not to congratulate Putin, reinforcing his beliefmembers of his national security team are seeking to undermine him.
  118. On Wednesday, according to a White House statement, Trump joined with French President Macron in reiterating “their solidarity with the United Kingdom in the wake of Russia’s use of chemical weapons.”
  119. On Tuesday, WSJ reported that on a February call, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney told Michael Cohen he breached the nondisclosure agreement by publicly saying he paid Clifford $130,000. Cohen said, “I didn’t f — ing breach it!”
  120. Stephanie Clifford underwent a lie detector test. The examiner found there was a more than 99% probability she told the truth when she said she had unprotected sex with Trump in 2006.
  121. On Tuesday, the New York Post reported a Manhattan judge ruled in a first-of-its-kind decision that Trump could not claim immunity through his job, and must face a defamation lawsuit brought by Summer Zervos.
  122. On Tuesday, ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal sued The National Enquirer’s parent company AMI to be released from her 2016 hush agreement. McDougal alleges Cohen was secretly involved in her talks.
  123. McDougal sold her story to AMI, whose owner is a personal friend of Trump, for $150,000, wanting to go public her story about Trump. McDougal said the parameters of the agreement were never clear to her.
  124. On Wednesday, CBS announced that Stephanie Clifford’s “60 Minutes” interview will air on Sunday.
  125. On Thursday, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney demanded the Trump Organization and the two banks involved in the $130,000 payment preserve all records, saying he plans to subpoena them
  126. Attorney Michael Avenatti cited “unmistakable links” between Trump’s company and a secrecy agreement she signed. Avenatti told NBC News, we plan to “uncover the truth about the cover-up and what happened.”
  127. On Wednesday, ABC News reported nearly a year before being fired by Sessions for “lack of candor,” McCabe authorized a criminal probe against Sessions for his lack of candor about his contacts with Russian operatives.
  128. McCabe authorized the probe after letters from Sens. Patrick Leahy and Al Franken from the Senate Judiciary Committee, following Sessions’ senate confirmation hearing in January 2017, in which he said he had not been in touch, nor was he aware of others on the campaign who were, with Russians.
  129. On Wednesday, CNN reported, according to his lawyer, Sessions is not under investigation for perjury for his statements by Mueller’s team.
  130. On Thursday, Bob Goodlatte, a Republican on the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the DOJ for the FBI’s 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton, as well as the internal report that lead to Sessions firing McCabe.
  131. On Friday, in op-ed, McCabe said he learned of his firing after 21-years in the FBI from “a friend called to tell me that CNN was reporting that I had been fired” and read him Sessions’ statement.
  132. On Wednesday, ABC News reported that at a “It’s on Us” rally at University of Miami on Tuesday, Joe Biden told students of Trump, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him,” for disrespecting women.
  133. On Thursday, Trump responded to Biden on Twitter, saying “Crazy Joe Biden…threatens me, for a second time,” adding “he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don’t threaten people Joe!”
  134. On Thursday, H.R. McMaster resigned, saying he had discussed his departure with Trump for several weeks, and questions about his status were casting a shadow over his exchanges with foreign officials.
  135. Trump chose John Bolton as his third National Security Advisor in 14 months. Bolton is an outspoken advocate for military action, and has recently called for action against North Korea and Iran.
  136. On Thursday, NBC News reported Trump is also considering firing Kelly and operating without a formal chief of staff, instead acting as his own chief of staff and having a handful of aides who report directly to him.
  137. On Friday, Foreign Policy reported Bolton is planning a massive shake-up of the National Security Council. Dozens of current White House officials are expected to be removed.
  138. Source say firings will start with getting rid of every Obama holdover. Bolton will also be targeting those of who been disloyal to Trump or are suspected of having leaked to the media.
  139. On Friday, NYT reported Bolton’s political committee, known as The John Bolton Super PAC, first hired Cambridge Analytica in August 2014, while the company was still harvesting Facebook data.
  140. Bolton’s super PAC used the company for two years, paying $1.2 million primarily for “survey research,” and was provided information on “behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging.
  141. On Friday morning, Trump threatened in a tweet to veto a $1.3 trillion spending bill passed hours earlier by Congress, reportedly furious over the failure of Congress to pay for his wall on the border of Mexico.
  142. On Friday afternoon, Trump told reporters at a news conference by himself that he signed what he called “this ridiculous situation, but threatened, “I will never sign another bill like this again — I’m not going to do it again.
  143. Trump continued, disparaging the legislation to reporters, saying “Nobody read it,” adding he only signed it as a matter of national security, “We had no choice but to fund our military,” an angle Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis had reported pushed.
  144. Trump also requested a line-item veto for future government spending bills and demanded an end to the filibuster rule.
  145. On Thursday evening, Karen McDougal told CNN she had a 10 month affair with Trump, after she met him in the summer of 2006, during the filming of “Celebrity Apprentice” at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.
  146. Although a White House schedule released Thursday evening showed the first couple would depart the White House together aboard Marine One, on Friday Melania did not join Trump for the flight.
  147. On Friday, AP reported after six weeks of firings and 14 months on the job, Trump is becoming more confident, bucking the advice of White House staffers and congressional Republicans and going it alone.
  148. Trump has floated to outside advisers a plan to do away with the traditional West Wing power structure, and run the White House with a more free-wheeling atmosphere, like he did with his business.
  149. Reportedly, the sense of apprehension is palpable in the West Wing, where tempers are running short and staffers are considering future employment prospects behind closed doors.
  150. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index had their worst week in two years, leaving investors hoping for a Trump respite. Trump unilaterally started a trade war with China without preparation or planning.
  151. On Friday, NYT reported the mood in the White House as “bewildered resignation” as staffers are left with predicting and reacting in real time to Trump’s shifting moods.
  152. NYT also reported Trump is feeling increasingly confident in his own abilities, while feeling embattled by Congress, the Russia investigation, foreign entanglements, a potential trade war, and women from his past speaking out.
  153. On Saturday, Bloomberg reported Trump is considering a National Security Council recommendation to expel dozens of Russian diplomats from the US in response to the nerve-agent poisoning in the UK.
  154. On Saturday, tens of thousands of students converged on DC for “March For Our Lives,” a rally to toughen gun laws. Additional rallies took place in cities and towns around the country.
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Artist: Margete Griffin. Jacksonville, FL. February 2018
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New York City. February 2018.
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New York City. February 2018.
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New York City. February 2018.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: “MARCH FOR OUR LIVES” 2018

About 60,000 people came out to march for stricter gun laws (amongst other fascist aspects of this regime) today on the streets of downtown Los Angeles. 

DCIM100GOPROG0668063.DCIM100GOPROG0688065.DCIM100GOPROG0508047.DCIM100GOPROG0618058.DCIM100GOPROG0518048.IMG_0133IMG_0199IMG_0196IMG_0200IMG_0197IMG_0201IMG_0198IMG_0214IMG_0215IMG_0212IMG_0203IMG_0204IMG_0202IMG_0205IMG_0279IMG_0280IMG_0274IMG_0288IMG_0275IMG_0290IMG_0256IMG_0264IMG_0265IMG_0267IMG_0233IMG_0236IMG_0240IMG_0241IMG_0272IMG_0259IMG_0234IMG_0235IMG_0232IMG_0195IMG_0194IMG_0190IMG_0223IMG_0228IMG_0231IMG_0227IMG_0193IMG_0226IMG_0218IMG_0230

24mar18. Los Angeles, CA

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 71: “WHITE HOUSE VERGING ON MANIA”

Week 70: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

March 17, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-70-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-84a521ec35c6

In another frenzied week in America, Trump fired his secretary of state through a tweet, and continued to stoke fears of imminent additional departures, in what was described as a White House verging on mania. Trump is reportedly joyful, feeling liberated to act on his impulses and authoritarian instincts. Even as the Mueller probe and allegations of paying to silence Stephanie Clifford close in, Trump is cocky and irreverent — as if signaling he has matters in hand.

Russia seems increasingly aggressive and emboldened, in sharp contrast to, and perhaps with the silent complicity of Trump. Alarming reports surfaced not only of Russia’s use of chemical weapons and possibly murdering another Russian exiles in the UK, but also attacking US and European nuclear and energy infrastructure. In response, our Treasury Department took the first baby steps in imposing sanctions, while Nikki Haley and the White House issued a stark warning on Russia’s use of nerve gas. Amid an almost completely decimated leadership structure at our State Department, Trump, Kushner and Ivanka — although under clouds for self-dealing and security clearance issues — consolidated worldwide diplomacy in their hands.

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Wynwood, Miami, FL December 2017
  1. On Saturday night, Trump gave a 73-minute campaign-style dystopian and unhinged speech in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, ahead of Tuesday’s special election, campaigning for Republican candidate Rick Saccone.
  2. Trump occasionally mentioned Saccone and insulted his opponent (“Lamb the sham”), but mostly it was a campaign speech about Trump. Trump announced his new slogan for the 2020 campaign: Keep America Great.
  3. Trump called MSNBC’s Chuck Todd “a sleeping son of a bitch,” and mocked Rep. Maxine Waters for calling for his impeachment, referring to her as “a low-IQ individual.”
  4. Trump again called for the death penalty for drug dealers, saying “toughness” is the solution, adding drug dealers “who kill thousands” of people, “do you think they care who’s on a blue-ribbon committee?”
  5. Toronto Star calculated that Trump made 30 false claims during the speech, including “We put an infrastructure bill in for $1.7 billion,” “they want to stop DACA,” and “we have a big deficit with Canada too.”
  6. On Saturday, in a speech to the France National Front while touring Europe, Steve Bannon said “Let them call you racists. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor.”
  7. On Saturday, in an interview with NBC News, Putin said the Russian government was not behind interference in the US election, saying, “Maybe they’re Ukrainian, Tatars, Jews — just with Russian citizenship.”
  8. Jewish groups and US lawmakers condemned Putin’s statement, including the Anti-Defamation League, saying “It is deeply disturbing to see the Russian president giving new life to classic anti-Semitic stereotypes.” Trump did not respond.
  9. On Saturday, NYT reported Trump is in discussions with Emmet Flood, who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment process, about joining the legal team and helping him navigate his DOJ communication.
  10. Trump is also considering a shake-up of his legal team. Some allies say Ty Cobb’s approach of being cooperative with Robert Mueller is not working. In the summer of 2017, Flood turned down an offer to work for Trump.
  11. On Sunday, Trump denied the NYT’s report of a shake-up, tweeting, “The Failing New York Times purposely wrote a false story stating that I am unhappy with my legal team on the Russia case….Wrong.”
  12. The Boston Globe reported a rider added to the Homeland Security reauthorization bill would allow Trump to dispatch Secret Service agents to polling places nationwide during federal elections, a vast expansion of executive authority.
  13. AP reported that Trump’s effort to discredit the news media by continually using the term “fake news” is being mimicked by officials at all levels of government as a weapon against unflattering stories.
  14. Experts on the media and democracy warned the continual use of “fake news” could do long-term damage by sowing confusion and contempt for journalists, and by undermining the media’s role as a watchdog.
  15. AP reported, based on their analysis of data, the Trump regime censored, withheld or said it couldn’t find records sought by citizens, journalists, or others more than any other administration in the past decade.
  16. Of the 823,222 FOIA requests received by the regime, 78% received censored files or nothing. The number of times the regime said it would be illegal under US law to turn over information doubled from last year.
  17. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that FEMA has removed all mention of anything climate change related from the documents meant to guide the agency’s strategic plan for 2018–2022.
  18. The new document for FEMA, an agency responsible for dealing with the effects of disasters, have removed references to climate, global warming, sea-level rise, extreme weather, and other scientific predictions.
  19. WAPO reported audio of a fundraising speech Trump made on Wednesday revealing he bragged about making up information — saying the US runs a trade deficit with Canada — in a meeting with Canadian PM Trudeau.
  20. Trump mimicked Trudeau in the audio, “Nice guy, good-looking guy, comes in — ‘Donald, we have no trade deficit,’” then Trump bragged, “I didn’t even know. … I had no idea. I just said, ‘You’re wrong.’”
  21. On Thursday, Trump doubled down, tweeting, “We do have a Trade Deficit with Canada.” This statement is false: the Office of the United States Trade Representative says the US has a trade surplus with Canada.
  22. After delaying it three times, Trump’s USDA withdrew an Obama-era animal welfare rule which would have set new standards for the treatment of animals if their meat is going to be sold as “certified organic.”
  23. CNN reported six months after Hurricane Maria hit, Puerto Ricans are still dying. 10% of the island is still without electricity, much slower than the recoveries after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Medical treatment is precarious.
  24. On Friday, AP reported that Trump’s International Wildlife Conservation Council, a newly created advisory board, is stacked with trophy hunters, including ones with ties to Trump and his family.
  25. The 16 member board is appointed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, andwill help rewrite federal rules for importing the heads and hides of African elephants, lions, and rhinos. A $250,000 budget of taxpayer dollars has been set aside for travel expenses, staff time, and other costs.
  26. In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the head of ICE, and the Department of Labor, 18 Republican members of Congress defended private prison company GEO Group’s practice of forced labor for undocumented immigrants.
  27. On Monday, USA Today reported white supremacist leader Richard Spencer tweeted a YouTube video in which he bemoaned that because of violent clashes, his rallies are no longer “fun.”
  28. On Friday, a resolution denouncing white nationalists and neo-Nazis in the Tennessee legislature didn’t make it out of committee. A motion brought by a Democrat to talk about the bill could not find a Republican to second.
  29. Dallas Morning News reported that a local newspaper, the Olton Enterprise,removed reference of a same-sex couple, the son and his partner, from a mother’s obituary, citing “religious and ethical reasons.”
  30. On Thursday, Politico reported on emails which reveal conservatives, including Newt Gingrich, targeted Obama holdovers “burrowed into the government,” including State Department Iran expert Sahar Nowrouzzadeh.
  31. Nowrouzzadeh, born in Connecticut, was attacked by conservative media. Brian Hook, chief of State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, sent an email to himself in April which included a list of names, questioning their loyalties.
  32. On Sunday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave an alarming interview to “60 Minutes” in which she admitted she hasn’t “intentionally” visited underperforming schools, and struggled to answer basic questions about the nation’s schools.
  33. DeVos continued Monday on the “Today” show, when asked about Trump’s proposal for school safety measures, she contradicted the NRA-friendly White House report just out saying, “everything is on the table.”
  34. Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, told Bloomberg, “My function, really, as an economist is to try to provide the underlying analytics that confirm his intuition. And his intuition is always right in these matters.”
  35. CNN reported at a meeting set up at chief of staff John Kelly’s request, officials from the White House counsel’s office and the Cabinet liaison met with Ryan Zinke, David Shulkin, Ben Carson, and Scott Pruitt last month to provide “a clear message that optics matter.”
  36. On Wednesday, CNN reported emails show Carson and his wife selected the $31,000 dining set for the Department of Housing and Urban Development dining room, in contrast to Carson’s statement in Week 68that he had little or no involvement.
  37. On Thursday, The Guardian reported Naved Jafry, a senior adviser at Carson’s HUD, had multiple allegations of fraud and had exaggerated his military record. Jafry apologized for inflating his biography and resigned.
  38. On Thursday, Zinke said his department cut the cost of replacing six historical doors in his office from $139k to $75k. Zinke said the episode shows the need for “a little more flexibility or common sense” in laws.
  39. Secretary of Defense James Mattis was linked to Theranos, which was involved in a massive corporate fraud uncovered this week. Mattis served on the company’s board, and advocated for use of their technology (which is fake) inside the military.
  40. On Tuesday, Democrat Conor Lamb narrowly won a House special election in Pennsylvania in a district which has traditionally gone Republican. Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016.
  41. Republicans massively outspent Democrats on the race: outside groups had spent more than $14 million on Republican Rick Saccone’s behalf, compared to just $2 million for Lamb. After the election Trump and the GOP said Saccone was a bad candidate, and that Lamb embraced Trump policy, which is false.
  42. Two House Democrats asked the US special counsel to investigate if a trip by Zinke to Pennsylvania weeks before the special election may have violated the Hatch Act.
  43. AP reported that despite promises by Trump to drain the swamp, he hasfilled federal agencies with ex-lobbyists and corporate lawyers who now regulate the industries they previously worked in.
  44. White House counsel Don McGahn has issued at least 37 ethics waivers to key administration officials at the White House and executive branch agencies. Under Obama, just five ethics waivers went to former lobbyists.
  45. NYT reported the Kushner Companies and the Trump Organization are quietly working together, and have signed a letter of intent on at least one real estate deal, raising concerns from experts in government ethics.
  46. Kansas City Business Journal reported that Sprint will cut 500 jobs at its Oakland Park headquarters. In Week 7, Trump took credit for 5,000 jobs at Sprint which were created under the Obama Administration.
  47. On Monday, AP reported on Donald Jr.’s previously undisclosed business dealings with Texas hedge fund manager Gentry Beach, a longtime hunting buddy who raised millions for the Trump campaign.
  48. Beach has been granted special access, including to top National Security Council officials to push for curbing US sanctions in Venezuela to open business for US companies. NSC lawyers raised red flags about the meeting.
  49. On Monday, McClatchy reported Ivanka, while acting as a White House adviser, hasn’t cut ties with the Trump Organization, and will pull in more than $1 million from family business deals across the globe.
  50. Some Trump-branded developments are hiring state-owned companies, receiving gifts from foreign governments such as eased regulations, and accepting payments from customers who are foreign officials.
  51. On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported two months after Kushner joined the White House, his family sold a stake in a Brooklyn building to Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, whose controlling shareholder is the Japanese government.
  52. At the time of the deal, March 31, Kushner was helping Trump oversee trade policy. The purchase price represented a premium of more than 60% over the basis Kushner Cos. and their partners paid four years earlier.
  53. The deal freed up cash for Kushner Cos. to take ownership stakes in nearby buildings in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood, while the building NTT invested in remains vacant.
  54. On Wednesday, CNN reported Department of Defense employees charged almost $140,000 on department-issued Visa cards at Trump branded properties during Trump’s first eight months of being in office.
  55. On Sunday, BuzzFeed reported Trump lawyers are considering a challenge to stop “60 Minutes” from airing an interview of Stephanie Clifford, the performer who uses the stage name Stormy Daniels.
  56. On Monday, Dallas Morning News reported Texas officials are investigating whether a Dallas-area notary properly signed off on Clifford’s agreement. As a notary, she did not sign or date the 2016 agreement.
  57. In a complaint filed with the DOJ and Office of Government Ethics, watchdog group CREW argued Michael Cohen’s payment to Clifford “constituted a loan” to Trump’s campaign, and Trump “seemingly violated a federal law by failing to disclose it” in campaign filings.
  58. On Monday, NYT reported on a letter from Stephanie Clifford’s attorney to Cohen, in which Clifford offered to wire $130,000 into any account of Trump’s choosing to buy her way out the hush agreement.
  59. The offer, which had a deadline of Tuesday at noon, also seeks an agreement that neither Trump or the shell company set up by Cohen, would block the broadcast of Clifford’s “60 Minutes” interview.
  60. On Wednesday, WSJ reported a second lawyer who works for Trump Organization, Jill Martin, is listed as counsel in an arbitration demand for Essential Consultants to pay $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford in 2016 in exchange for her silence.
  61. In a statement, the Trump Organization said Martin filed the document “in her individual capacity” while waiting for a New York-based lawyer to get approval to practice in California.
  62. On Thursday, WAPO reported CBS tentatively plans to air the “60 Minutes” episode on March 25. CBS president David Rhodes said at the Innovative TV conference on Tuesday that the hold up is routine fact checking.
  63. On Thursday, AP reported that lawyers representing Trump’s family hotel business threatened a Panamanian judicial official handling the dispute of the hotel previously known as Trump International Hotel in Panama.
  64. In the complaint, the justice of the peace, Marisol Carrera, said Trump’s lawyers accosted her in her office after she ruled against Trump in Week 69. The abuse continued, she said, after she called for the police to come.
  65. On Friday, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney told MSNBC in a morning interview that Clifford was threatened with physical harm, and suggested she had only signed the hush agreement because of threats against her.
  66. On Friday, in an afternoon interview with CNN, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney said some of the alleged threats continued to take place while Trump was in the office.
  67. On Friday, in papers filed in federal court via Essential Consultants,Michael Cohen accused Stephanie Clifford of violating the hush agreement 20 times, and claimed he had the right to seek $20 million of damages.
  68. Also in the filing, Cohen seeks to move the case out of the public eye, and back into private arbitration. In a separate filing, a lawyer representing Trump said he intends to join the push to return to private arbitration.
  69. On Monday, Bloomberg reported Mueller is considering setting aside the obstruction of justice case against Trump, which is almost complete, while his team finishes work on possible collusion and the hacking of Democrats.
  70. Mueller’s team is concerned that bringing obstruction of justice first, the part that might hit Trump closest personally, may cause witnesses to become less cooperative and lead Trump to move to shut down the probe.
  71. Obstruction of justice includes the James Comey firing, Trump’s input on Donald Jr.’s misleading June 9 meeting statement, and Trump considering firing Mueller. Trump, Ivanka and Donald Jr. have not yet been interviewed.
  72. On Monday, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein offered unqualified support for Mueller despite White House criticism, adding, “I don’t believe there is any justification at this point for terminating the special counsel.”
  73. On Monday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee brought the committee’s investigation of the 2016 election to an end, over fierce objections by Democrats. Republicans drafted a 150-page report on their findings without consulting with Democrats.
  74. Among the findings in the report, Republicans said that Russia did meddle, that the Obama administration had a “lackluster” response, but there was no preference by Russia for Trump and no collusion.
  75. The Republicans reached the exact opposite finding of US intelligence agencies, which unanimously found that Russia interfered with the intention of helping Trump win.
  76. Trump tweeted after the report was released, in all capitalized letters, the House Intelligence Committee, “FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA.”
  77. On Tuesday, Rep. Trey Gowdy broke from his Republican colleagues, saying evidence gathered by the committee clearly showed Russia did work to undermine Hillary Clinton.
  78. On Tuesday, Rep. K. Michael Conaway, who is technically leading the committee, backed off from the Republican report findings saying “it’s clear [Russian officials] were trying to hurt Hillary [Clinton].”
  79. On Tuesday, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee issued a 21-page “status report” which laid out their case to continue the probe. The report finds Russia’s “active measures” efforts were intended to help Trump win.
  80. The status-report included a long list of key witnesses they have yet to call, including Reince Priebus, Stephen Miller, KT McFarland, Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, Sam Nunberg, and others who met with the regime like Natalia Veselnitskaya, and social media companies.
  81. Democrats also cited a previously unreported item, that Trump’s business had been “actively negotiating a business deal in Moscow with a sanctioned Russian bank” during the 2016 campaign season.
  82. Business Insider reported Joseph Mifsud, the professor who met with George Papadopoulos and told him Russia had “dirt”on Hillary Clinton, has gone missing. His fiancée, with whom he has a baby, has not heard from him.
  83. On Tuesday, WAPO reported that in the spring of 2016, months before the emails were released, Roger Stone had a conversation with Julian Assange, in which Assange said his organization had obtained emails of senior Democrats.
  84. At least two people were informed of the conversation: the source for the WAPO story who chose to remain anonymous due to the ongoing FBI investigation and Nunberg, who testified before a grand jury in Week 69.
  85. BuzzFeed reported, based on testimony given by Felix Sater to the House Intelligence Committee, he has worked as an American spy, both as an asset for the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (or DIA) tracking Osama bin Laden, and then for the FBI for over a decade providing intel.
  86. Some say Sater may still be working with the FBI and knows many agents. Reportedly he did some of this work to avoid jail time for a financial crime.Today he is being questioned on Trump’s business deals and ties to Russia.
  87. BuzzFeed reporters interviewed Sater in Los Angeles, where he is now living. Sater says he is telling his full story to the FBI agents, at least six of whom he allegedly knows from past dealings, as part of the Mueller probe.
  88. On Monday, Daily Mail reported Hamad al Mazroie, the spy chief for the UAE intelligence service, and Mohammed Dahlan, the UAE crown prince’s personal conduit to the Kremlin, were also at the Seychelles meeting.
  89. On Wednesday, Paul Manafort asked a federal judge again to dismiss the criminal case filed against him in Washington, DC, arguing Mueller’s appointment was invalid and that he exceeded the scope of his authority.
  90. On Thursday, NYT reported that in recent weeks, Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization to hand over all documents related to Russia and other topics he is investigating. It is unclear why Mueller used a subpoena.
  91. This marks the first Mueller subpoena of Trump’s business. In Week 36, Trump said Mueller would be crossing a “red line” if he looked into Trump’s family business.
  92. CNN reported the FBI contacted Thailand’s immigration bureau last week to set up a meeting with Anastasia Vashukevich and Alexander Kirillov, escorts held in Thai jail. In Week 69, Vashukevich said she has 16 hours of tapes of conversations with Russians on US election interference.
  93. On Tuesday, US District Judge T.S. Ellis, III, in Alexandria, Virginia said given the nature of the charges and weight of the evidence against him,Manafort “faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.”
  94. The judge placed Manafort on a 24-hour-a-day lockdown,” citing “The defendant is a person of great wealth who has the financial means and international connections to flee…and every incentive to do so.”
  95. On Thursday, four GOP Senators — Chuck Grassley, Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, and Thom Tillis — called on the DOJ to appoint a second special prosecutor to investigate the FBI’s mishandling of the Russia probe prior to Mueller’s appointment.
  96. On Monday, James Schwab, the San Francisco spokesperson for ICE resigned, citing “false” and “misleading” statements made by top-ranking officials, including Sessions and ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan.
  97. On Monday, Robert Lightfoot Jr., who has served as acting director of NASA for more than a year awaiting a qualified Trump nominee to replace him, will retire without a clear successor.
  98. On Tuesday, Trump opened the door to establishing a new “space force” inside the Pentagon to oversee all space activities, even though the Pentagon brass and his own Air Force secretary have opposed the idea.
  99. On Monday, John McEntee, Trump’s personal assistant, was fired and escorted out of the White House. A White House official said the cause for the firing was an unspecified security issue.
  100. On Thursday, WAPO reported McEntee was fired over a gambling habit: betting tens of thousands of dollars at a time, leaving him vulnerable to outside influence. Formerly, he was a production assistant at Fox News.
  101. Rex Tillerson cut his trip to Africa short, returning on Monday, explaining to reporters on the plane home, “I felt like, look, I just need to get back.” Tillerson was in Africa for an apology tour after Trump’s “shithole countries” comment in Week 61.
  102. On his way back, Tillerson said of the UK spy poisoning “a really egregious act” that appears to have “clearly” come from Russia, adding once the facts are in, “we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be.”
  103. On Tuesday, Trump fired Tillerson as Secretary of State, and replaced him with CIA director Pompeo. Tillerson learned he was fired, hours after returning from his Africa trip, through a staffer who saw Trump’s tweet.
  104. Trump met reporters shortly after, on Tuesday morning, and told them he had made the decision to fire Tillerson “by myself. Trump claimed he had called Tillerson from Air Force One around noon.
  105. On Tuesday, Under SoS Steve Goldstein disputed that claim, saying Tillerson learned of his firing through Twitter and “did not speak to the president” and is unaware of why he was fired. Goldstein was then fired.
  106. On Friday, in an off-the-record meeting with Kelly and a small group of reporters, Kelly said he informed Tillerson Sunday that Trump would likely fire him soon. Kelly added Tillerson was suffering from a stomach bug, so the conversation took place while Tillerson was on the toilet.
  107. On Wednesday, Vanity Fair reported H.R. McMaster could be next, and that Trump is considering firing Sessions and replacing him with Pruitt, who would not be recused from overseeing the Russia probe.
  108. With Tillerson and Goldstein out, eight of the top 10 positions in the State Department are vacant. Only deputy secretary John Sullivan, who will now be the acting SoS, and spokesperson Heather Nauert, a former co-host of “Fox & Friends,” remain.
  109. On Wednesday, Trump picked Larry Kudlow to replace Gary Cohn as director of the National Economic Council. Kudlow is best known for his CNBC television show, and for making grand prognostications and provocative statements.
  110. Trump is considering replacing VA Secretary Shulkin with Pete Hegseth, a co-host of “Fox & Friends Weekend.” Trump reportedly frequently calls Hegseth to discuss veterans’ policy.
  111. On Thursday, at a discussion at the Holocaust Memorial Museum,McMaster called for further US action against Russia as punishment for crimes in Syria, saying “Russia is also complicit in Assad’s atrocities.”
  112. On Thursday night, WAPO reported Trump plans to fire McMaster, his second national security adviser. Trump is comfortable removing McMaster, with whom he never gelled, but says he doesn’t want to humiliate him (as he did with Tillerson).
  113. Also on Thursday, Trump indicated there will be more firings, telling reporters, “There will always be change. And I think you want to see change. I want to also see different ideas.”
  114. The mood in the White House this week has “verged on mania.” White House aides are anxious and nervous, and on edge not knowing if they will be next. “Everybody fears the perp walk,” one White House official said.
  115. Remaining staff are clashing with each other, vying for vacated positions. Trump reportedly said last week, “I like conflict,” while wrapping his fists toward one another to simulate a clash. “I like watching it.”
  116. On Thursday, CBS News reported that a shake-up, which some in the White House are calling a purge, could result in the firings of Kelly, McMaster, and three cabinet members, depending on Trump’s volatile moods.
  117. On Friday, WSJ reported after making cryptic comments by Kelly indicating he may step down, he and Trump reached temporary “truce” in their tumultuous relationship. Kushner and Ivanka continue to undercut Kelly.
  118. Trump told advisers afterward that Mr. Kelly was “100% safe.” Kelly told his worried staffers, at least for the moment, he and Trump had patched things up. “I’m in.”
  119. Also on Friday, when an ABC News reporter caught McMaster giving a tour in the West Wing and asked his status, McMaster said, “Everybody has got to leave the White House at some point. I’m doing my job.”
  120. KBS World Radio, a South Korean public international broadcaster, reported Ivanka will, in Tillerson’s stead, meet with South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha on her visit to the US. Ivanka has interim security clearance.
  121. On Wednesday, dubbed National School Walkout Day one month after the Parkland shooting, students at high schools around the country walked out at 10 a.m. and for 17 minutes recognized the 17 murdered.
  122. On Monday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered “fullest condemnation” of the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, but declined to blame Russia as Prime Minister Theresa May did earlier that day.
  123. On Wednesday, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats over the attempted assassination attempt. PM May also announced increased checks on private flights, customs and freight from Russia, and other measures.
  124. On Wednesday, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the UN, “Russia is responsible…using a military-grade nerve agent,” adding “the credibility of this council will not survive if we fail to hold Russia accountable.”
  125. On Wednesday, the White House changed its position. Sanders issued a statement blaming Russia, and adding the attack, “fits into a pattern of behavior in which Russia disregards the international rules-based order, undermines the sovereignty and security of countries worldwide.”
  126. On Thursday, the US, France, and Germany joined Britain in a joint statement saying Russia was likely responsible for attack, and calling it the “first offensive use of a nerve agent” in Europe since World War II.
  127. On Thursday, Trump’s Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Russia, including five entities and 19 individuals for election interference. This marks the first steps to impose sanctions, well past the deadline of a law passed by Congress.
  128. The entities sanctioned include those listed on Mueller’s indictment. The move was seen as largely symbolic as many on the list were already under sanction.
  129. The Trump regime also accused Russia of a series of cyberattacks on American and European nuclear power plants and water and electric systems, allowing Russia to sabotage infrastructure at will.
  130. Computer screenshots released by the Department of Homeland Security show Russian state hackers were in a position to manipulate or shut down power plants. Most US power plants are privately owned, many with older versions of software.
  131. Three separate Russian cyber-operations were underway simultaneouslyconducted by separate Russian groups for energy attacks, those who hacked DNC emails, and those who used social media to sow discord.
  132. Russian cyberattacks surged last year, starting three months after Trump took office. Trump has said little to nothing about Russia’s cyberattacks, and has yet to acknowledge they interfered in our election.
  133. On Tuesday, the Guardian reported Russian exile Nikolai Glushkov was found dead in his London home. The cause of death is unknown, and there is not yet an established link to the nerve gas attack in Salisbury.
  134. On Friday, a post-mortem of Glushkov revealed he died of “compression to the neck.” Glushkov’s death is now being investigated as a murder inquiry.
  135. Miami Herald reported the Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov, which the Pentagon has been monitoring because it has sailed too close to US waters on several occasions, docked at the port of Havana on Friday.
  136. On Thursday, Vanessa Trump took legal steps to formally end her 12-year marriage to Donald Jr. The couple have five children together.
  137. On Thursday, Politico reported the Trump regime is finalizing its plan to solve the opioid crisis, which will include allowing harsher law enforcement measures, including the death penalty, for drug dealers.
  138. The parents of slain DNC staffer Seth Rich sued Fox News, reporter Malia Zimmerman and Fox News commenter Ed Butowsky over their coverage which contained “false and fabricated facts,” and was later retracted.
  139. In Week 38, ABC News reported then press secretary Sean Spicer met with Zimmerman and Butowsky about the Seth Rich story at the White House, and asked to be “kept abreast of developments.”
  140. On Friday, Facebook banned the Trump campaign’s data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, and its parent company SCL Group, as well as University of Cambridge psychologist Aleksandr Kogan, and Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies.
  141. Kogan had gained access to the personal information of 270,000 Facebook members after they chose to download his app, “thisisyourdigitallife.”Kogan passed the information on to Cambridge Analytica and Wylie.
  142. Facebook learned of Kogan’s actions in 2015, and demanded the information be destroyed. Cambridge Analytica, Kogan and Wylie certified to Facebook that they had done so. Facebook learned this was not true.
  143. On Saturday, NYT reported a joint examination with The Observer of London found Cambridge Analytica had harvested private information from Facebook of more than 50 million users without their permission.
  144. Wylie, who worked at Cambridge Analytica until 2014 said, “Rules don’t matter for them. For them, this is a war, and it’s all fair,” adding “They want to fight a culture war in America,” and analytics were the arsenal.
  145. Cambridge Analytica was also involved in the 2014 election when the firm secured a $15 million investment from Robert Mercer and wooed Bannon. At that time, the company did not have the data to make its products work.
  146. Facebook downplayed the scope of the leak, and questioned whether any of the data was still out of their control. Of the 50 million hacked, 30 million contained enough information to build psychographic profiles.
  147. Also of note is Cambridge Analytica’s use of non-US employees in US elections, which would be illegal. Mueller has demanded emails of Cambridge Analytica employees who worked for the Trump team.
  148. On Friday, Sessions fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, about 24 hours before he could retire and collect his full pension. His firing stems from an Inspector General investigation which found he leaked information to the media about the Clinton-related case.
  149. McCabe, who had more than two decades of service in the FBI, could lose a portion of his anticipated pension. A spokesperson for McCabe said he learned of his firing from Sessions’ press release.
  150. Sessions fired McCabe just before 10 p.m. Hours earlier, Fox News posted a story that McCabe had been fired. The story was up for 45 minutes before Fox News took it down, claiming the draft was posted by mistake.
  151. Just after midnight, Trump tweeted his support for Sessions’ move, “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI — A great day for Democracy.”
  152. Trump also bashed Comey, tweeting, “Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!”
  153. On Saturday, former CIA director John Brennan responded to Trump, tweeting, “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history.”
  154. On Saturday, CNN reported McCabe wrote memos documenting his conversations with Trump. Those memos have now been turned over to Mueller’s team.
  155. On Friday, Sen. Jeff Flake told CNN the Republican Party “might not deserve to lead” due to its support of Trump. Thursday Flake said, “Never has a party abandoned, fled its principles and deeply held beliefs so quickly.”
  156. Michael Flynn make his first appearance since pleading guilty in the Mueller probe, campaigning for Republican congressional candidate Omar Navarro who is running against Maxine Waters in November.
  157. On Saturday, in a morning interview with the Daily Beast, Trump attorney John Dowd said he hopes Deputy AG Rosenstein will shut down Mueller’s probe into Russia’s election interference.
  158. When asked if he was speaking on behalf of Trump, Dowd answered, “Yes as his counsel.” In a subsequent statement Saturday morning, Dowd backtracked saying he had been “speaking for myself, not the president.”
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On a street sign in New York City, November 2017
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New York City, 2018
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New York City, 2018

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 70: DICTATOR (wannabe)

Week 69 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

March 10, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-69-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-da89823dc88b

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Artist: Tee Wat

This week, Trump acted like a dictator, taking policy matters into his own hands. After praising China’s President Xi for ending term limits, Trump took controversial actions, imposing tariffs and setting up a meeting with Kim Jong-un — both against his party’s positions, and taken after foregoing or ignoring experts’ and allies’ advice.

Amid record turnover, Trump’s inner-circle continues to shrink, which is likely to continue as Trump reportedly tells friends the White House problems come from those around him, not him. With almost one-third of key roles in the executive branch key roles remaining unfilled, and many senior White House roles vacated, increasingly power and control lies in the hands of Trump alone, while the legislative branch remains largely compliant.

Despite Trump’s success in taking back the narrative this week by diverting media attention with the shiny coins of tariffs and a North Korea meeting, trouble lies ahead. This week a new cooperating witness was reported in the intensifying Mueller probe, and the Stormy Daniels story entered potentially dangerous legal territory for Trump and Michael Cohen.

  1. On Saturday, WAPO reported on the air of anxiety and volatility inside the White House as Trump rages. White House officials say these are darkest days in at least half a year, with one adding, “We haven’t bottomed out.”
  2. Retired four-star Army general Barry McCaffrey warned the American people and especially Congress should be alarmed, saying Trump is “starting to wobble in his emotional stability and this is not going to end well.”
  3. On Saturday, CNN obtained a recording of a closed-door campaign fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago that evening. Trump complained that his campaign was still under scrutiny while Hillary’s is not, blaming a “rigged system” that doesn’t have the “right people” in place to fix it.
  4. Trump called the Iraq invasion “the single worst decision ever made,” criticizing George W. Bush, “That was Bush. Another real genius,” as well as US intelligence: “Great intelligence agency there.”
  5. Trump praised China’s President Xi, who in Week 68, did away with term limits, saying “He’s now president for life. President for life,” adding, “I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”
  6. On Monday, NY Post reported a New Jersey Transit worker made an announcement on a Manhattan-bound train warning passengers that ICE agents were on board “looking for illegals.” The worker was suspended.
  7. On Monday, fights broke out and police made arrests as white supremacists clashed with protesters ahead of Richard Spencer delivering a speech at Michigan State University to what was reportedly a tiny crowd.
  8. AP reported Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services issued new guidelines and priorities for $260 million of Title X grant applications, giving preference to groups that stress abstinence at the expense of reproductive health organizations.
  9. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists called it turning “back the clock on women’s health,” and others noted the regime’s continued practice of shifting away from science to unscientific ideologies.
  10. On Thursday, Mississippi legislature passed a ban on abortion after 15 weeks, the nation’s most restrictive abortion bill. The bill will now head to the governor, who has publicly said he will sign it.
  11. Des Moines Register reported the Iowa Senate approved a ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The ban will now move to the state’s House of Representatives where its outcome is uncertain.
  12. Alejandra Pablos, a 32-year-old prominent reproductive justice activist, was detained by ICE while traveling to Phoenix from Virginia this week to check in with immigration officials, necessitated by a DUI three years ago.
  13. Pablos will be held in a detention center outside Tucson until her December court date. The Supreme Court ruled in Week 68 that people being held for deportation are not entitled to a bond hearing.
  14. On Friday, the ACLU filed a class-action suit against the Trump regime, accusing it of broadly separating immigrant families seeking asylum. The lawsuit follows a case in Week 68 of ICE separating a Congolese woman from her 7-year-old daughter.
  15. Trump’s DHS has not announced a formal policy to separate adults seeking asylum from their children, but the regime has said they are considering doing this broadly to discourage asylum seekers from coming to the US.
  16. Dallas Morning News reported that Stacy Bailey, a popular art teacher at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School in Mansfield, was suspended for asking that LGBTQ language be added to school district’s policy.
  17. WAPO reported on a nationwide analysis issued by California’s insurance marketplace which found premiums for ACA health insurance plans could rise by 35–94% around the country in the next three years.
  18. In a Fish and Wildlife Service memorandum quietly issued by the Trump regime last Thursday, the regime said it will now consider elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe and Zambia on a case-by-case basis.
  19. In South Cumberland Elementary School, 100 miles east of Nashville, amural depicting a lynching was removed from the gymnasium wall after months of calls and emails to the superintendent and the school board.
  20. On Monday, California-based cartoonist Matt Furie, who created Pepe the Frog, sued website Infowars for selling a poster using the character alongside Alex Jones, Trump, Milo Yiannopoulos, and other right-wing figures.
  21. HuffPost reported Ben Carson changed the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s mission statement, deleting a reference to protecting consumers, and removing the mandate to “build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.”
  22. On Monday, a federal judge declined a request from the state of California to immediately stop enforcement of a key part of the Trump regime’s policy to punish sanctuary cities for protecting undocumented immigrants.
  23. On Tuesday, Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice sued the state of California and two top state officials for impeding immigration enforcement, citing the Constitution gives the government sweeping authority over immigration.
  24. Sessions’ DOJ claims California is blocking enforcement efforts by DHS. Tuesday evening, Gov. Jerry Brown responded calling the federal lawsuit a political stunt and “SAD!
  25. On Sunday, NYT reported Rex Tillerson’s State Department has yet to spend any of $120 million it was allocated since late 2016 to counter Russia’s efforts to meddle in elections and sow distrust in democracy.
  26. None of the 23 analysts in the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, tasked with countering Moscow’s disinformation, speak Russian. A hiring freeze has hindered bringing on computer experts to track Russian efforts.
  27. Tillerson continues to focus on drastically shrinking the State Department. Last year, the department spent just 79% of the money allocated by Congress, the lowest in 15 years.
  28. Axios reported VA secretary David Shulkin started handling his own media, saying Trump appointees in his agency are conspiring to undermine him. Shulkin also told Politico he has the green light to “purge” his agency.
  29. On Friday, WAPO reported Shulkin has canceled morning meetings with Trump’s political appointees, gathering instead with only aides he trusts. Shulkin has also placed an armed guard outside his office.
  30. William Otis, a Trump pick for a seat on the US Sentencing Commission, the body that sets policy used to punish federal criminals, has called for abolishing the agency and made racially charged comments about crime.
  31. On Tuesday, AP reported John Konkus, a Republican consultant and key aide to Scott Pruitt, was granted permission by the Environmental Protection Agency to make extra money moonlighting for private clientswhose identities are being kept secret.
  32. The letter detailing the arrangement, which was released to Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, gave Konkus approval to work for at least two clients, whose names were redacted in the letter.
  33. On Tuesday, the US Office of Special Counsel announced Kellyanne Conway had violated the Hatch Act on two cable-TV interviews by “advocating for and against candidates” in last year’s Alabama Senate special election.
  34. OSC special counsel, Henry Kerner, said Conway “impermissibly mixed official government business with political views,” and referred her violation to Trump for “consideration of appropriate disciplinary action.”
  35. On Tuesday, the White House said Conway did not violate the Hatch Act because she “did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate,” rather broadly for people who would support Trump’s agenda.
  36. Rep. Elijah Cummings, ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, called on Trump to take disciplinary action. UN ambassadorNikki Haley and social media director Dan Scavino have also received reprimands or warnings on the Hatch Act.
  37. On Tuesday, Gary Cohn resigned as head of the National Economic Council, saying there was no single factor in his decision, but Trump’s choice to impose tariffs seemed to be the final straw.
  38. On Wednesday, ABC News reported John Kelly has terminated or reassigned several White House staffers for issues related to their security clearances, including at least one staffer who worked in the Office of the First Lady.
  39. In an op-ed John Feeley, US ambassador to Panama resigned “because the traditional core values of the US…have been warped and betrayed.” Feeley said he made a private decision to step down after Charlottesville.
  40. On Wednesday, NPR reported that 13 1/2 months in a record-setting 43% of top-level positions in the Trump White House have seen turnover. After two full years, Obama was at 24% and George W. Bush at 33%.
  41. On Tuesday, during Congressional testimony, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao admitted that Trump personally killed the Gateway project, a plan for a new tunnel between Manhattan and New Jersey, in Week 60.
  42. On Wednesday, Betsy DeVos visited Parkland high school. One student tweeted, “Betsy Devos came to my school, talked to three people, and pet a dog.” DeVos also held a press conference which lasted only eight minutes.
  43. CNN reported on a Sinclair internal memo, branded an “anchor delivered journalistic responsibility message,” telling local TV stations to decry “fake stories” from national news outlets — echoing Trump’s “fake news” claims.
  44. AP reported the Interior Department plans to spend $139,000 to upgrade three sets of double doors in Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office. Zinke’s spokesperson said he was not aware. The contractor at Conquest Solutions hung up on AP.
  45. On Thursday, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short declined to provide the details to the House Oversight Committee on how Rob Porter was permitted to work for the White House with an interim security clearance
  46. On Friday, Rep. Cummings, ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, wrote a letter to Trey Gowdy, chair of the committee, asking that a subpoena be issued to force the White House to turn over the security clearance documents.
  47. On Friday, NYT reported EPA chief Pruitt wanted to host public debates challenging climate change science, but Kelly nixed the idea. Pruitt said Trump has expressed enthusiasm for the idea.
  48. WAPO reported the Trump regime’s Domestic Policy Council and the Department of Justice is studying new policy which would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty for drug dealers.
  49. The regime cites the death penalty as part of their strategy to address the opioid crisis. As per Week 68, Trump has said he admires the Chinese and Filipinos who don’t have drug problem, because “they just kill them.”
  50. On Monday, calling it “Bigger than Watergate,” Trump took to Twitter to blame Obama for launching the Russia probe in order to discredit his campaign “so Crooked H would win.” Trump also tweeted Obama “did NOTHING about Russian meddling.”
  51. On Tuesday, Trump denounced as “wrong” reporting that his White House is in chaos, tweeting it is a “Fake News narrative,” and his White House has “great Energy!” adding “I still have some people that I want to change.”
  52. On Sunday, Axios reported on a grand jury subpoena sent to a witness by Robert Mueller last month seeking all communications sent and receivedwith Carter Page, Corey Lewandowski, Trump, Hope Hicks, Keith Schiller, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roger Stone, and Steve Bannon from November 1, 2015 to the present.
  53. Trump launched his campaign 4 1/2 months earlier. On Monday, NBC News reported Sam Nunberg was the witness who received the subpoena. Nunberg spent much of Monday making media appearances.
  54. After telling the media Monday that he would defy a subpoena from Mueller, on Tuesday, Nunberg changed course, telling AP, “I’m going to end up cooperating with them.”
  55. On Friday, Nunberg appeared at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC. Nunberg is the first Trump campaign affiliate to appear in front of a grand jury in the Mueller probe and walk through the main entrance.
  56. On Saturday, after spending six hours in front of the grand jury, Nunberg told ABC News he now believes the Mueller probe is “warranted,” adding “there’s a lot there.”
  57. On Monday, a deep dive on Christopher Steele by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker revealed several previously unreported stories. Mayer says Steele’s life “is sort of a mess at this point, thanks to American politics.”
  58. Initially Steele did not know he was doing research for the Clinton campaign. The campaign in turn didn’t know at the time that Steele had gone to the FBI with his findings, or that the FBI opened an investigation.
  59. Mayer reported that the CIA became convinced by the very end of the summer that the Russians were not only interfering, but also trying to help Trump, as Steele had been saying. Obama wanted to issue a bi-partisan public statement but Sen. Mitch McConnell blocked it, saying he would not sign off.
  60. In a second short memo written in November 2016, Steele cites one Russian source who claimed Moscow intervened to block Trump from picking Mitt Romney for his SoS, because Romney would be unfriendly to Russian interests. Steele shared this information with Mueller’s team.
  61. Mayer also reports that Obama and Biden didn’t know about Russian hacking until August 2016, and didn’t know about the dossier until an Oval Office meeting in January 2017.
  62. On Thursday, WSJ reported on analysis which shows that weeks after Trump won the election, Russia-backed online “trolls” flooded social media trying to block Romney from becoming SoS.
  63. The trolls used terms like “two headed snake” and a “globalist puppet” to describe Romney, and promoted a rally outside Trump Tower and helped spread a petition to block Romney from being nominated.
  64. On Monday, the Senate Intelligence Committee investigators said it will question Reddit and Tumblr, amid recent reporting that Internet Research Agency had accounts on both social media platforms during the 2016 election.
  65. On Monday, NYT reported Anastasia Vashukevich, a Belarusian escort, said from jail in Bangkok that she had more than 16 hours of audio recordings that could help shed light on Russian interference in the US election.
  66. Vashukevich said she is close to Oleg Deripaska, and the recordings made in August 2016 feature his discussions about the US presidential election. She said she would turn over the tapes in return for asylum in the US.
  67. ABC News reported Flynn put his Virginia home up for sale to pay his mounting legal fees in the Mueller probe. Flynn’s youngest brother said, “This has been a trying experience. It has been a crucible and it’s not over.”
  68. On Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was grilled by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Trump’s response to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Coats said there are ongoing conversations between Trump and US intelligence agencies.
  69. Coats said, “We assess that Russia is likely to continue to pursue even more aggressive cyber attacks with the intent of degrading our democratic values and weakening our alliances.”
  70. When pressed on what is being done, Coats said that information is classified, and answered Trump “directs me to do my job and my job is to provide the intelligence.”
  71. On Sunday, NYT reported Mueller’s team is focused on George Nader, an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed of the UAE. Last year. Nader was a frequent visitor to Trump’s WH to meet with Bannon and Jared Kushner.
  72. In recent weeks, Mueller’s team has interviewed Nader about possible attempts by the UAE to buy influence by contributing financial support to Trump during the presidential campaign. It is illegal for foreign entities to contribute to campaigns or for campaigns to accept foreign money.
  73. Around Trump’s inauguration, Nader meet with Elliott Broidy, a Republican fund-raiser, whom he later introduced to Prince Mohammed. Broidy lobbied Trump to meet privately “in an informal setting” with Prince Mohammad.
  74. On October 6, 2017 Broidy sent a detailed memorandum to the crown prince and Nader through an encrypted email address about his advocacy for the UAE in his meetings with Trump and others in the White House.
  75. On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported Broidy learned last week that his email accounts used in his capacity as a deputy finance chairman of the RNC and in foreign affairs circles, had been hacked.
  76. Law-enforcement officials have been notified and are investigating. Broidy used his political ties to advance his business interests and those of foreign leaders. All the information will be released soon on “the dark web.”
  77. In 2009, Broidy pleaded guilty to paying nearly $1 million in gifts to officials with close ties to the comptroller overseeing the NY state pension fund in exchange $250 million of public funds to manage and $18 million in management fees.
  78. On Tuesday, NYT reported Nader is cooperating and gave testimony to a grand jury last week. Nader is being questioned by Mueller’s team on the influence of foreign money on Trump’s political activities and about the January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles, which Nader attended.
  79. The Seychelles meeting was arranged by Prince Mohammed between Erik Prince, as a representative of Trump, and Kirill Dmitriev, a Putin ally, and Nader, reportedly per Week 21 to set up back-channel communication.
  80. Shortly after Seychelles, Dmitriev met with Anthony Scaramucci, then an informal advisor to Trump, at Davos. In an interview there with Russia-news agency TASS, Scaramucci criticized Obama’s economic sanctions as ineffective.
  81. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Nader started cooperating with Mueller after he arrived at Dulles airport in mid-January. Nader, who helped organize the Seychelles meeting, has testified in front of a grand jury.
  82. Nader’s testimony was part of Mueller’s effort to gather information which indicated the Seychelles meeting in January 2017 was an effort to establish a back channel between the incoming regime and the Kremlin.
  83. Nader also told Mueller’s team the meeting was set up before the inauguration so a member of the Trump transition could meet with an emissary from Moscow to discuss future relations between the countries.
  84. Erik Prince gave a false statement in his House Intelligence Committee testimony, telling lawmakers the meeting was a chance encounter that was not a planned discussion.
  85. On Wednesday, CNN reported after meeting Nader as he arrived at Dulles with search warrants, the FBI imaged his electronic devices and served him with a subpoena to appear before a grand jury on January 21.
  86. Reportedly Mueller is interested in at least two meetings Nader attended: the December 2016 meeting in New York which the Obama Administration was not notified about, and the Seychelles meeting.
  87. CNN reported there is no indication Nader is suspected of wrongdoing, but his knowledge of these meeting could help investigators understand possible efforts to influence key figures in the administration.
  88. On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham said there should be a second special counsel to investigate Republican’s claims of improper surveillance of Page, saying the DOJ and FBI “got off the rails” by approving the warrant.
  89. On Wednesday, NBC News reported Hicks told the House Intelligence Committee last week that one of her email accounts was hacked, and she could no longer access either her personal or Trump campaign accounts.
  90. On Wednesday, NYT reported that Mueller has learned of two conversations between Trump and key witnesses, Don McGahn and Reince Priebus, to ask them about their testimony in the Russia probe.
  91. In one conversation, Trump told Porter to instruct McGahn to issue a statement denying the January 7 NYT article, which reported Trump told McGahn to fire Mueller. McGahn said no, and reminded Trump he did ask that.
  92. After McGahn would not deny the NYT article, Trump confronted him in the Oval Office in front of Kelly. Trump also asked Priebus in December2017 how his interview with Mueller’s team went, and if they were nice.
  93. Trump lawyers’ advised him to avoid anything that could be construed as interfering. Witnesses and lawyers who learned of the conversationthought they could be problematic and reported them to Mueller.
  94. On Thursday, Manafort was arraigned on 18 tax and fraud charges in a federal court in Virginia. The judge mandated home confinement and that Manafort wear a second GPS monitoring device.
  95. A trial date was set for July 10, ahead of the Washington DC trial which is scheduled to start September 17. Jurors will hear from 20 to 25 witnesses, and the trial is expected to last eight to 10 days.
  96. On Friday, WSJ reported Trump’s lawyers are negotiating with Mueller. One idea is Trump would give an interview in exchange for a deadline to the probe 60 days after the interview.
  97. Trump is pressuring his legal team to bring an end to the probe. Another consideration is reaching agreement on the scope of Trump’s testimony, which his lawyers want to limit to the firings of Flynn and James Comey.
  98. On Friday, WAPO reported Trump was so eager to have Putin attend the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow that he made his first direct outreach in a personal letter, including a personal handwritten note.
  99. Trump also tweeted from the pageant, “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow — if so, will he become my new best friend?”
  100. Trump wrote the letter, which has been turned over to Mueller, at a time he was looking to expand his real estate empire. Mueller’s team has questioned witnesses about the Miss Universe pageant and Trump’s interest in having Putin attend the event.
  101. Mueller is also examining Trump’s relationship with the Agalarovs. Emin Agalarov emailed Donald Jr. in June 2016 to ask if he would like to meet with Natalia Veselnitskaya, which led to the June 9 Trump Tower meeting.
  102. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Mueller’s team has requested documents and interviewed witnesses about incidents involving Cohen over the past several months, including in recent weeks.
  103. Mueller’s team is interested in Cohen’s roles in the discussions around apossible Trump Tower Moscow project, as well as a Russia-friendly peace proposal for Ukraine delivered by a Ukrainian lawmaker to Cohen one week after Trump took office.
  104. On Monday, WSJ reported that First Republic Bank flagged the October 27, 2016 $130,000 payment from Cohen to Stephanie Clifford as suspicious, and reported it to the Treasury Department.
  105. WSJ reported Cohen said he missed two deadlines earlier that month to make the $130,000 payment because he couldn’t get in touch with Trumpin the hectic final days of the campaign to reimburse him for the payment.
  106. WAPO also reported City National Bank, the bank which received the payment on behalf of Clifford launched an internal inquiry about the payment a full year after receiving the funds.
  107. On Tuesday, Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels,sued Trump, alleging that since he never signed the non-disclosure agreement, the “hush agreement” in invalid.
  108. In the agreement, Trump is referred to as David Dennison, and Clifford as Peggy Peterson. The agreement and side letter have a DD where Trump was supposed to sign. According to Clifford’s lawyer, he did not.
  109. Clifford’s lawsuit adds credence to the legal complaint filed by Common Cause in Week 67 that the $130,000 payment amounted to an undeclared in-kind contribution to Trump’s presidential campaign.
  110. On Wednesday, NYT reported Trump’s lawyer obtained a restraining order last week in California to prevent Clifford from speaking out about her alleged affair with Trump.
  111. Although Clifford had reached an agreement to keep silent about her affair with Trump, her newly released settlement agreement reveals she did share her story with four people.
  112. One person was adult-film actress Jessica Drake, listed as “Angel Ryan” in the agreement, who is now being represented by Gloria Allred. Others known are Clifford’s manager Gina Rodriguez and Keith Munyan.
  113. Jessica Drake had also accused Trump of sexual misconduct a month before the election. A Trump spokesperson had said that Trump didn’t know the woman and had “no interest in ever knowing her.”
  114. On Wednesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump denied the affair or making the payment himself, and that “there was no knowledge of any payments from the president.”
  115. Sanders said the arbitration was won in Trump’s favor, admitting the nondisclosure agreement exists and directly involves Trump, marking the first time the White House admitted Trump was involved in any way with Daniels.
  116. On Thursday, CNN reported Trump was upset at Sanders over her responses to questions about Clifford, with one source saying Sanders “gave the Stormy Daniels storyline steroids yesterday.”
  117. On Friday, NBC News reported Cohen used his Trump Organization email while negotiating with Clifford and arranging to wire funds for her silence, indicating Cohen may have been acting in an official capacity.
  118. Cohen also used his Trump Organization email account in an email dated October 26 with a representative of First Republic Bank as the funds were being wired.
  119. Experts say the payment to Clifford could be a violation of election law. If Cohen paid out of his own money as stated, and intended to help the campaign, that would be an excessive contribution and illegal.
  120. If Trump paid the $130,000 out of his own funds, he would have had to disclose the payment, otherwise it could be construed as a knowing and willful violation of federal election law, which is a federal crime.
  121. On Monday, the majority owner of the Panama Hotel, Orestes Fintiklis, declared victory as Trump’s name was removed from his hotel, following a Panamanian court order authorizing a change of administration.
  122. WNYC reported Trump ordered new tee markers for his golf courses using with the Presidential Seal. Under federal law, the seal’s use is permitted only for official government business, and misuse can be a crime.
  123. Forbes reported one year after taking office, Trump’s fortune dropped by $400 million to $3.1 billion on Forbes World’s Billionaires list, citing market declines in NYC real estate and Trump’s polarizing personality.
  124. On Thursday, in a federal court filing, a group of former Justice Department officials raised concerns about Trump’s possible interference in the AT&T-Time Warner merger, over his grudge with CNN.
  125. The Young Turks reported King & Spalding, a law firm that has worked on Trump’s real estate concerns, filed a disclosure with the FARA revealing Saudi Arabia paid the firm up to $450,000 for a 30-day period.
  126. The contract was registered with the DOJ on February 21. Five days later, Secretary Rick Perry canceled a scheduled trip to India to instead fly to London to discuss a nuclear cooperation agreement with senior Saudi officials.
  127. On Friday, Trump pardoned Kristian Saucier, a former Navy sailor.Saucier’s lawyer strategically planned to go on Fox News at a time of day Trump watches, and invoked Hillary’s use of a private email server.
  128. On Friday, the Trump Organization said it has donated $151,470 in foreign government profits from its hotels and similar businesses last yearto the US Treasury, but refused to provide any details.
  129. Few public records are available. The DOJ foreign agent records reveal a public relations firm working with the Saudi government spent $270,000 for lodging and catering between Oct. 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, alone.
  130. On Tuesday, the UK government warned Russia of a robust response if the Kremlin is behind the sudden illness of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, both of whom were exposed to an unknown substance Sunday.
  131. On Wednesday, Mark Rowley, head of Counter Terrorism Policing, said a nerve agent was used to try to kill Skripal and his daughter. Both are in critical condition.
  132. On Thursday, The Telegraph reported Skripal has close ties to a security consultant who worked for Steele’s Orbis Business Intelligence, the company that compiled the dossier.
  133. On Friday, Britain deployed 180 special troops to Salisbury. Russia’s Sergei Lavrov dismissed the UK government’s threat of retaliation as propaganda. There was no response from the White House or State Department.
  134. On Wednesday, the EU unveiled an array of tariffs they would place on US goods if Trump follows through with tariffs, adding Trump’s move would put “thousands of European jobs in jeopardy” and would be met with a “proportionate response”
  135. On Wednesday, 107 House Republicans urged Trump to “to take action against China and other unfair trading partners,” but avoid broad tariffs that would hurt jobs, manufacturing and consumers.
  136. On Thursday, a study done by the Council on Foreign Relations found Trump’s steel tariffs could kill up to 40,000 auto jobs by the end of 2019, equal to nearly one-third of the steel workforce.
  137. On Thursday, Trump tweeted that China has been asked to “develop a plan for the year of a One Billion Dollar reduction in their massive Trade Deficit.” The actual trade deficit is $100 billion, not $1 billion.
  138. On Thursday, in defiance of allies, Trump signed an order imposing tariffs on every country except Canada and Mexico. Shortly after, Sen. Jeff Flake he would immediately “draft and introduce legislation to nullify” the tariffs.
  139. On Thursday, a group of 11 countries, including close US allies Japan, Canada, and Australia, signed a revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership without the US. Countries involved with TPP, originally conceived by the US to counter China’s influence, have left the door open for China to join.
  140. On Thursday, during a press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Tillerson said on North Korea, “In terms of direct talks with the United States, you ask negotiations and we’re a long ways from negotiations.”
  141. On Thursday, at the State Department press briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert said of North Korea, “We are not going to schedule talks about talks or any kind of chat or anything like that at this point.”
  142. Later Thursday, in an unusual breach of protocol, South Korea official Chung Eui-yong, not a US official, announced at the White House that Kim Jong-un had invited Trump to meet for negotiations, and Trump had accepted.
  143. Trump would become the first sitting US leader to meet with a North Korea dictator — an act which will elevate Kim Jong-un on the world stage. Previously, the highest level US official to meet was SoS Madeleine Albright in 2000.
  144. The State Department was not involved in Trump’s decision making. The department’s chief North Korea negotiator, Joseph Yun, recently resigned, and the posts of US ambassador to South Korea and North Korea remain unfilled.
  145. Previously, Trump had said he would start talks with North Korea “only under the right conditions.” Like tariffs, Trump appears to have made the decision to meet impulsively and without consulting experts.
  146. On Friday, WSJ reported late Thursday, Trump interrupted three South Koreans officials as they analyzed an offer to meet with Kim Jong-un and outlined possible diplomatic options, saying “OK, OK, tell them I’ll do it.”
  147. The South Korean officials reportedly looked at each other in disbelief. White House aides, State Department officials, U.S. intelligence officers and others were left scrambling to work out arrangements for a meeting.
  148. On Friday, press secretary Sanders told reporters at the daily press briefing that Trump “will not have the meeting without seeing concrete steps and concrete actions take place by North Korea.”
  149. In a sign of the disarray by Trump’s sudden decision, a White House spokesperson shortly after issued a statement contradicting Sanders, saying, “The invitation has been extended and accepted, and that stands.”
  150. On Friday, Vanity Fair reported Trump has told close friends he is tired of being reined in. Republican sources say Trump believes the problem is the team around him, and he will replace his senior staff in the coming weeks.
  151. Sources say Trump plans to fire Kelly next, adding Cohn wanted the position, but Trump laughed at him. H.R. McMaster, Kushner, and Ivanka could come after according to sources. Trump recently met with John Bolton.
  152. On Friday, CNN reported on a Pentagon memo outlining the initial guidance for Trump’s military parade on Veterans Day. The parade will not include tanks in order to “minimize damage to local infrastructure.”
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On the streets of New York City, 2018
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Artist: Tee Pop – Miami, FL 2017

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 69: “COMPLETE AND ONGOING MELTDOWN”

Week 68 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

March 3, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-68-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-a3c0728c9376

This was Trump’s worst week since taking office. So far.

This week Trump lost loyalist Hope Hicks, and along with the broadening and deepening Trump-Russia probe, Trump became even more unhinged, angry and erratic, deciding by midweek he would ignore all experts and party loyalists and unilaterally act — first on gun control, which he retracted a day later, and then imposing tariffs, again against the counsel of all around him. Also striking out at and threatening to fire or push out almost everybody left in leadership in his shrinking regime, including his son-in-law and daughter, while low and mid-level staffers raced for the exits.

The length of this list will stand testament to what it felt like to live in America this week. Trump’s daily rages and outrageous, puerile, unpredictable behavior have stunned our country and the world. There is almost no aspect of Trump or his White House operating with a semblance of what have been our democratic norms, or a sense of order and balance. Complete, and ongoing meltdown.

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Artist: Chip Southworth. Jacksonville, Florida. 26feb18
  1. The Trump campaign used a photo of a 17-year-old Parkland survivor surrounded by her family in a hospital room in an email sent Saturday soliciting donations for the campaign.
  2. On Saturday, at CPAC, columnist Mona Charen criticized the “hypocrites” in the GOP for being silent about sexual harassers and abusers of womenwho are in the party. Charen was booed and had to be escorted out.
  3. On Saturday, tentative plans for Mexican President Peña Nieto to make his first visit to the White House were canceled after a testy call with Trump in which Trump refused to publicly affirm that Mexico won’t pay for his wall.
  4. Roberta Jacobson, US ambassador to Mexico, quit amid tense relations with Trump. Jacobson was one of the most experienced Latin America experts in the State Department, with 31 years of experience in the region.
  5. Numerous colleges sent emails and tweets to students and parents advising high schoolers that getting suspended for being involved in protests on gun control will not hurt them in the admissions process.
  6. On Saturday, House Democrats released a 10-page rebuttal to the Nunes memo, redacted over a two week period by the FBI, countering claims that top FBI and DOJ officials abused their power spying on Carter Page.
  7. The memo said Page was interviewed by the FBI “multiple times about his Russian intelligence contacts” in March 2016, the same month he joined the Trump campaign. The FBI originally took interest in Page in 2013.
  8. The memo also says the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Russian election interference began on July 31, and by September 2016the bureau had numerous “sub-inquiries” into Trump campaign associates
  9. Contrary to the Nunes memo’s accusation, the FBI received the dossier in September 2016, so the dossier played no role in the FBI’s initial probe.
  10. The October 2016 surveillance warrant application against Page, as well as the three subsequent renewals, were approved by federal judges appointed by Republicans. The court knew who paid for the dossier.
  11. The memo also says Russian agents previewed their hack and dissemination of stolen emails to George Papadopoulos. Shortly after, Trump said publicly that Russia would be richly rewarded for releasing the emails.
  12. On Saturday, after the memo was released, Trump took to Twitter, tweeting the Democratic memo is “a total political and legal BUST,” and “FBI did not disclose who the clients were” — which is false.
  13. Trump’s Twitter rant coincided with Fox News programming. He tweeted the Russia investigation is a “Witch Hunt” and parroted a line on Fox News, “Russians had no compromising information on Donald Trump.”
  14. Trump partially quoted a Fox News anchor in a tweet, but omitted five words, changing the meaning: “Congressman [Adam] Schiff, he argues the Republican memo omitted and distorted key facts,” was changed to, “Congressman Schiff omitted and distorted key facts.”
  15. On Saturday evening, Trump made an unscheduled appearance on Jeanine Pirro’s show, calling Democrats sore losers, the memo “a very bad document for their side” and attacking Rep. Schiff, referring him “a bad guy.”’
  16. NYT reported that Sens. Richard Burr and Mark Warner, the chair and top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, demanded a meeting with Speaker Paul Ryan last month after learning Rep. Devin Nunes had leaked Warner’s private texts.
  17. The texts were between Warner and Adam Waldman, a Russian-connected lawyer in an effort to arrange a meeting with Christopher Steele. Fox News, Trump and others used the texts in an effort to discredit Warner in Week 65.
  18. Trump said Saturday he would like a military parade “with a lot of plane flyovers” to be held in Washington DC on Veterans Day, adding we’ll see if we can do it at a “reasonable cost,” but “the generals would love to do it.”
  19. On Sunday, China’s Communist Party abolished term limits, clearing the way for President Xi to stay in power indefinitely. Neither the State Department nor Trump had a statement to this surprising move.
  20. On Sunday, Axios reported Trump talks privately about executing all big drug dealers. According to a source, Trump admires the Chinese and Filipinos who don’t have drug problem, because “they just kill them.”
  21. NYT reported the Norwegian Nobel Committee has uncovered what appears to be two forged nominations of Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. The matter has been referred to the Oslo police for investigation.
  22. On Monday, a new CNN poll found Trump’s approval was down to 35%, matching the low point. Trump’s disapproval stood at 58%.
  23. An AP-NORC poll found 57% of adults think Trump is racist, including more than 8 in 10 blacks and three-quarters of Hispanics.
  24. A report released by the Urban Institute found in 2019 6.4 million fewer Americans will have health insurance as a result of the GOP eliminating the individual health care mandate, and other policy changes by Trump.
  25. On Monday, the ACLU sued the Trump regime for unlawfully separating a Congolese woman from her 7-year-old daughter by holding them in far apart immigration facilities, after they sought asylum four months ago.
  26. On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected the regime’s request to speed up the legal fight over protections for Dreamers, removing some of the urgency for Congress to craft a legislative fix for DACA.
  27. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled immigrants can be held by US immigration officials indefinitely without receiving bond hearings, a blow to immigrant advocates who asked for a six-month maximum period.
  28. BuzzFeed reported Scott Lloyd, head of Trump’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, said under deposition that he does not believe undocumented immigrants have the constitutional right to an abortion “because of their immigration status.”
  29. ProPublica obtained chat logs of Atomwaffen, a white supremacist group, revealing they celebrated the fatal stabbing of a 19-year-old gay and Jewish University of Pennsylvania student Blaze Bernstein by Samuel Woodward, an avowed neo-Nazi.
  30. On Tuesday, a report released by the Anti-Defamation League showed anti-Semitic activity shot up 57% in 2017 (1,986 incidents), the largest single-year increase since the organization started tracking data in the 1970s.
  31. On Monday, in a rebuke to Jeff Sessions, a federal court ruled that a 1964 civil rights law bans workplace discrimination against LGBTQ individuals: “sexual orientation discrimination constitutes a form of discrimination.”
  32. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expressed solidarity in a statement with “Last Men in Aleppo” producer Kareem Abeed, who was denied a visa to attend the Academy Awards due to Trump’s travel ban.
  33. On Tuesday, the faculty at Lehigh University voted to rescind Trump’s honorary degree bestowed on him in 1988. Last October, the Lehigh board was presented a petition signed by 35,000, but took no action.
  34. On Tuesday, NYT reported Housing and Urban Development officials spent $31,000 on a new dining room set for Secretary Ben Carson in late 2017, at the same time as the agency proposed cuts to programs for the homeless, elderly, and poor.
  35. On Thursday, CNN reported Carson plans to cancel the order, saying “I was as surprised as anyone to find out that a $31,000 dining set had been ordered,” adding he will find other options, perhaps used furniture.
  36. On Thursday, Equifax announced an additional 2.4 million customers had their information breached in a hack. In Week 65, acting director Mick Mulvaney said he would pull back on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s investigation of Equifax.
  37. WSJ reported Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked UCLA not to post a video of his recent public appearance where he was repeatedly heckled by students. Marketplace did post the audio and transcript of the event.
  38. On Monday, Politico reported Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency has experienced a surge in open records lawsuits due to lack of transparency: 55 FOIA requests have been filed since Trump took office, compared to 11 in Obama’s final year.
  39. On Monday, Pruitt’s EPA announced a reorganization in which the National Center for Environmental Research, best known for studying the effects of chemicals on children, will no longer exist, but will merge with other groups.
  40. On Tuesday, Trump directed the EPA to roll back the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule, a sweeping clean water rule viewed as one of Obama’s signature environmental legacies.
  41. On Thursday, bowing to widespread criticism, Pruitt said he would fly coach, despite “unprecedented” threats against him. In Week 67, Rep. Trey Gowdy asked Pruitt’s office for waivers that would allow Pruitt to fly first class.
  42. Politico revealed tapes of Pruitt on talk radio in 2005. He dismissed evolution as unproven theory, said majority religions were under attack, and said the Constitution should be amended to ban abortion and gay marriage.
  43. Politico reported former head of the Federal Railroad Administration Heath Hall’s side gig as a public relations consultant was far more extensive than previously reported, including communicating with county officials on PR work and regularly sending invoices.
  44. Axios reported Trump has put his personal pilot, John Dunkin, on the short list to head the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency has a budget of over $16 billion, 45,000 employees, and oversees all US civil aviation.
  45. On Friday, Trump tapped Peter Wright, a corporate lawyer at Dow Chemical since 1999, to run an EPA office which oversees emergency response to hazardous spills and cleanups of the nation’s most toxic sites.
  46. On Monday, in a meeting with national governors, Trump said he would have rushed in to Parkland high school if a shooting was happening, adding “I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon.”
  47. Trump added at the meeting he was misunderstood, and doesn’t want to arm all teachers, rather only the teachers with “natural talent,” comparing it to “hitting a baseball, or hitting a golf ball, or putting.”
  48. WSJ reported the White House legal team is considering ways Trump could testify before Robert Mueller, providing questions are limited in scope and don’t test Trump’s recollections in ways that could trap him into perjuring himself.
  49. NYT reported Mueller’s team has requested and received documents from Skadden on its Ukraine work, beyond Alex van der Zwaan. Skadden also does work for Russian oligarchs and companies with close ties to Putin.
  50. On Tuesday, the Patriot Legal Expense Fund Trust filed paperwork with the IRS and registered in Delaware as a political committee to help defray the legal costs of “eligible persons” involved in the Russia investigation.
  51. Questions remain about the vetting of donors, transparency on contribution amounts, and how the funds will be allocated. WAPO counts at least 48 staffers who have given interviews to Mueller and/or Congress.
  52. ABC News reported Michael Flynn has said he will not accept support from the fund. Flynn will also not accept funds from “Trump, the Trump Organization, or the campaign.” Others have yet to publicly respond.
  53. On Tuesday, in the UK, MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee grilled Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica, over the company’s role in the US election and Brexit. Nix denied any wrongdoing.
  54. On Tuesday, NBC News that reported US intelligence developed substantial evidence that Russia compromised seven states before the 2016 presidential election, but the states were not notified.
  55. Russian breaches of the seven states — Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas, and Wisconsin — range from entry into state websites to penetration of actual voter registration databases.
  56. Not until September 2017, Week 45, did the Department of Homeland Security contact all states, letting 21 of them know they were targeted by Russia and some attacks were successful. The DHS informed them and the media on a Friday evening.
  57. On Tuesday, when asked by Sen. Jack Reed at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, National Security Agency chief Mike Rogers testified he has not been formally asked by Trump to take steps to disrupt Russian election hacking activity.
  58. Rogers added when asked if Russia is seeking to interfere still, “I believe they are attempting to undermine our institutions.” Press secretary Sarah Sanders said there could be action in the “coming weeks and months.”
  59. On Wednesday, CNN reported Mueller’s team has been asking witnesses about Trump’s business activities in Russia in the time prior to his announcement that he would run for president in 2016.
  60. Questions include when Trump became serious about running and how it coincided with his business ventures, centering on the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and discussions to brand a Trump Tower Moscow.
  61. Trump’s lawyers told the Senate Judiciary Committee he made $12.2 million and a “substantial portion” came from the Miss Universe pageant. Mueller also wants to know if Trump’s meetings with Russian government and business could have resulted in possible “kompromat.”
  62. On Wednesday, Reuters reported that regulator New York State Department of Financial Services requested information from Deutsche Bank, Signature Bank, and New York Community Bank on their lending relationships with Jared Kushner.
  63. On Wednesday, NYT reported Kushner’s family real estate got loans from Apollo and Citigroup shortly after executives from those companies met with Kushner at the White House, in his capacity as a White House official.
  64. Apollo lent $184 million in November to refinance a skyscraper in Chicago, triple the size of the average Apollo property loan. Apollo advised the Trump regime on infrastructure and Joshua Harris, a founder of Apollo who met with Kushner, discussed a possible White House position.
  65. Citigroup lent the family and one of its partners $325 million to finance office buildings in Brooklyn. The loan was made in the spring of 2017, shortly after Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat met with Kushner at the White House.
  66. On Friday, AP reported that the SEC dropped its inquiry into Apollo’s loan to Kushner late last year. The SEC declined to comment on why they had halted the investigation.
  67. On Wednesday, NBC News reported Mueller’s team is asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Trump knew in advance Democratic emails had been stolen and that WikiLeaks planned to publish the emails.
  68. Mueller’s team has been questioning on a news conference Trump held on July 27, 2016, days after WikiLeaks began publishing the emails, when he said “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
  69. At this same time, Trump said he said he was open to lifting sanctions on Russia and possibly recognizing its annexation of Crimea in Ukraine, an unusual position for a Republican and not popular with the base.
  70. Witnesses were asked if Trump knew John Podesta had been targeted, if Trump was advised to make the statement about emails from someone outside his campaign, and if Trump tried to coordinate the release to damage Hillary.
  71. Witnesses are also being asked about Roger Stone’s contacts with WikiLeaks during the campaign and if he’s ever met with Julian Assange, and whether this was part of a larger plot.
  72. On Tuesday, The Atlantic revealed a screenshot of private Twitter messages between Stone and WikiLeaks. Stone told the House Intelligence Committee in September he had communicated with WikiLeaks via an “intermediary.”
  73. On Wednesday, in an interview on CNN, Republican Rep. Tom Rooney, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, called for the committee to end its Russia investigation, saying “because I don’t think it’s appropriate.”
  74. On Thursday, Putin unveiled a new array of nuclear-capable weapons which he claimed renders defenses “useless.” Trump has yet to acknowledge or speak out against Russian interference in our election.
  75. Putin also boasted about Russia’s military might with a video which show nuclear warheads raining down on what appears to be an outline of Florida, home of Trump’s winter White House, Mar-a-Lago.
  76. On Thursday, Rick Gates told a federal court that he and his wife believe it’s “not prudent” to travel to Boston with their children for a family vacation after feeling threatened by an online commenter invoking Russian mafia.
  77. The DOJ’s inspector general is expected to criticize former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe for authorizing the disclosure of information about a continuing investigation into Hillary and Obama’s DOJ to journalists, giving Trump further reason to condemn McCabe, even though McCabe’s revelations were not about Trump.
  78. On Wednesday, Paul Manafort was arraigned in Washington DC, where he pleaded not guilty to a revised, five-count indictment. Manafort was set to be arraigned in Alexandria on Friday to 18 new and modified charges, but the hearing was postponed due to weather.
  79. ABC7 in Chicago reported that records relating to Stephen Calk’s $16 million in loans to Manafort described in Week 67 have been subpoenaedby his wife’s attorney in divorce court.
  80. On Thursday, CNN reported FBI counterintelligence officials are investigating Ivanka’s involvement with the negotiations and financingsurrounding Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver.
  81. The development opened in February 2017, just after Trump took office, and was done with Joo Kim Tiah, a member of one of Malaysia’s wealthiest families. It is unclear whether Mueller is interested in this deal.
  82. On Thursday, NBC News reported Mueller is building a case for criminal charges against Russians who hacked and leaked DNC and Podesta emails in order to hurt Democrats in the 2016 election.
  83. The leak of the emails through WikiLeaks was cited by Trump at least 145 times during the campaign. Indictments would delve into the details of, and the people behind, the Russian intelligence operation to hack emails.
  84. On Friday, NBC News reported Mueller’s team is investigating whether Kushner’s business discussions with foreign officials during the transitionshaped White House policies to benefit or retaliate against people he spoke with.
  85. Mueller’s team has asked witnesses about Kushner’s efforts to secure financing for his family’s real estate transactions, and discussions with individuals from Qatar, Turkey, Russia, China, and the UAE.
  86. Kushner’s family reached out to a Qatar sovereign fund about investing in troubled 666 Fifth Avenue. Kushner also held a meeting in December 2016in Trump Tower with the former PM of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim (HBJ).
  87. After talks with the fund and HBJ collapsed, the White House backed a punishing blockade against Qatar lead by Saudi Arabia and UAE. Qatari government officials claim to have evidence of Saudi Arabia and UAE coordinating with Kushner, but have not yet turned it over to Mueller.
  88. Mueller’s team also has reached out for information on Kushner to Turkish nationals through the FBI’s legal attache office in Ankara. It is unclear if Mueller has reached the Turkish nationals, and what is under scrutiny.
  89. On Friday, WAPO reported the payment to Stephanie Clifford took place on October 27, 13 days after the initial deadline after the deal fell apart and then came together again, as more women were coming forward.
  90. That the payment was made just 12 days before the election could impact two complaints filed with the FEC which argue that the payment was intended to influence the election and violated campaign finance law.
  91. NPR reported Russian politician Alexander Torshin has methodically cultivated ties with leaders of the NRA over six years in an effort to leverage those connections and gain deeper access into US politics.
  92. In Week 62, McClatchy reported the NRA had funneled $30 million to the Trump campaign. In a letter to Ron Wyden of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the NRA denied wrongdoing and said the FBI is investigating Torshin, not the NRA.
  93. On Monday, the Trump Organization said it has donated the hotel profits from foreign governments to the US Treasury, but declined to identify the foreign customers or the amounts.
  94. On Monday, when asked about Trump’s sexual misconduct in an interview with NBC News, Ivanka said “I believe my father, I know my father. So I think I have that right as a daughter to believe my father.”
  95. On Monday, Melania parted ways with Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who was working as an unpaid senior adviser to the First Lady, amid backlashon Winston Wolkoff’s $26 million inauguration contract.
  96. On Tuesday, Trump’s White House finally began the process of responding to petitions on their website with over 100,000 signatures. Only a few petitions gained a response including a request not to defund the National Endowment for the Arts.
  97. On a petition with 1.1 million signatures requesting that Trump release his tax returns, the White House answered no, saying “this petition is not within the scope of the Terms of Participation of We the People.”
  98. WAPO reported on lingering questions on how Melania was able to obtain a green card in the elite EB-1 program, typically reserved for the likes of renowned academics, multinational business executives, or Olympians.
  99. Melania was also then in a position to sponsor US residency for her parents. Trump has proposed ending the sponsorship of relatives, tweeting “CHAIN MIGRATION must end now!” saying relatives “can be truly evil.”
  100. On Saturday, AP reported Trump officials were fighting efforts to be physically evicted from the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Pamana they manage. The owner claims the Trump name is hurting business.
  101. Orestes Fintiklis, who owns the property, filed termination notices for Trump management. Witnesses told AP Trump officials were seen carrying files to an office where the sounds of a shredding machine could be heard.
  102. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Panamanian police handcuffed a security guard working for Trump, who was detained for denying officers access to hotel offices. Physical altercations between security guards continued.
  103. The Panamanian Labor Ministry is investigating whether Trump employees have disregarded lawful orders from their employer. Trump and US officials have not made any public statements about the situation.
  104. On Tuesday, breaking a three day silence, Trump tweeted about the Russia investigation, calling it a “WITCH HUNT,” again included commentary from Fox News, and adding Hillary should investigated for “criminality.”
  105. On Tuesday, Trump tapped Brad Parscale, digital media director of his 2016 campaign, to run his re-election bid. The news was first reported by The Drudge Report. Experts noted the announcement came unusually early.
  106. AP reported Parscale sold his company, Giles-Parscale, in August for $9 million to CloudCommerce Inc., which is listed as a penny stock. In 2006, the CEO of CloudCommerce was caught trying to bribe a FBI agent.
  107. On Tuesday, Politico reported White House aides working on the highest-level interim clearances were notified last Friday in a memo that their clearance would be downgraded to the Secret level.
  108. Kushner is among the officials who lost access to Top Secret/SCI-level(sensitive compartmented information) information, who will no longer be able to see presidential daily briefs or have unfettered access.
  109. On Tuesday, WAPO reported four Commerce Department appointees lost their security clearance over issues with background checks. CNN noted the White House chief calligrapher has a higher security clearance than Kushner.
  110. Bloomberg reported more than 30 Trump aides were downgraded to lower-level “secret” interim security clearances. None have yet been asked to leave, but their portfolios on top secret matters will be redistributed.
  111. Sen. Chuck Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for answers from the WH and the FBI on how several of these staffers, including Kushner, had access to the highly classified President’s Daily Brief.
  112. On Tuesday, WAPO reported officials in at least four countries have discussed ways to manipulate Kushner by taking advantage of his complex financial dealings, liquidity issues, and lack of foreign policy experience.
  113. The four countries are the UAE, China, Israel, and Mexico; but it is unclear if any acted on their discussions. Mueller has asked what protocols Kushner used to set up conversations with foreign leaders.
  114. Sources say H.R. McMaster learned that Kushner had contact with foreign officials that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report. White House officials were concerned Kushner was “naive and being tricked.”
  115. McMaster learned about Kushner’s contacts at daily intelligence briefings, where reports of foreign officials talking about their meetings with Kushner and their perceptions of his vulnerabilities were raised.
  116. On Tuesday, Axios reported senior communications official Josh Raffel resigned from the White House. Raffel was a point person internally for Kushner and Ivanka.
  117. Last fall, Raffel was promoted to deputy communications director and worked closely with Hope Hicks. His departure comes as the Muellerprobe intensifies, and Kushner’s security clearance was revoked.
  118. On Tuesday, Hope Hicks spent nine hours behind closed doors testifying before the House Intelligence Committee. Hicks would only answer questions about her time on the campaign, and a limited amount about the transition.
  119. NYT reported that Hicks acknowledged to lawmakers that her work for Trump sometimes requires her to tell “white lies,” but claimed she did not lie to Mueller about the Russia investigation and links to Trump associates.
  120. On Wednesday, Hope Hicks resigned as White House communications director. Hicks was one of Trump’s longest-serving, and one of his most loyal advisers. Hicks was Trump’s fourth communications director.
  121. On Wednesday, CNN’s Erin Burnett reported that according to one of Trump’s close allies, Trump berated Hicks after her House Intelligence Committee hearing where she revealed she was sometimes required to tell “white lies.”
  122. On Wednesday, Trump attacked Sessions again, tweeting why is Sessions“asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse…..Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!”
  123. For the first time, Sessions responded in a statement, saying he acted appropriately referring the case, and the DOJ “will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution.”
  124. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Trump referred to Sessions as “Mr. Magoo,” the bumbling cartoon character. Trump is also complaining to associates that Sessions isn’t defending him to the best of his abilities.
  125. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Mueller is investigating Trump’s efforts to fire Sessions last July, and whether the goal was to pick a replacement who would exercise control over the probe into Trump-Russia coordination.
  126. Mueller’s team is also investigating Trump’s effort to fire Sessions in the spring of 2017. Mueller is examining whether the firing is part of a pattern of attempted obstruction, by changing the direction of the Russia probe.
  127. On Wednesday, WAPO reported aides for Trump keep folders on Republicans who have criticized Trump. When Sen. Bob Corker reconsidered running in 2018, Trump aides reminded him to not fully support Corker.
  128. On Thursday, NBC News reported McMaster will be leaving the White House as early as next month, in a move supposedly orchestrated by John Kelly and James Mattis. This would be the second NSA to leave the Trump regime.
  129. McMaster is a widely respected military general. He has clashed repeatedly with Trump, most recently in Week 66 when McMaster said at the German conference that Russian interference is “incontrovertible.”
  130. On Thursday, BuzzFeed reported that many mid- and low-level White House staffers viewed loyalist Hicks’ resignation as a tipping point, and are actively looking for jobs. The White House has an atmosphere of low morale.
  131. Also causing frustration is Trump going rogue on issues like gun control and tariffs, breaking with GOP positions. Although Trump values loyalty above all else, many Trump loyalist have left or are trying to leave.
  132. On Thursday, CNN reported the tumult of recent days has left Trump seething with anger. Although Trump is trying to change the subject, allies of Trump’s describe a sense of “meltdown” at the White House.
  133. On Thursday, NYT reported Trump is isolated and angry, and carries a bitter feud with Sessions, lashing out with a vitriol that is stunning members of his staff. Trump calls Sessions’ recusal the “original sin.”
  134. NYT reported White House morale has sunk to a new low. Kelly reportedly joked about his move to the White House from the Department of Homeland Security: “God punished me.”
  135. NYT also reported that aides claim while Trump has told Kushner and Ivanka that they should stay and keep serving in their roles, he has also privately asked Kelly for his help in moving them out.
  136. On Thursday, despite it not being on his schedule as of 9 p.m. the night before, Trump summoned business leaders in the steel and aluminum industries for what was described as a listening session.
  137. Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic adviser, had warned Trump not to impose tariffs, and had said he would resign if Trump did so. Trump did not actually listen to industry leaders, instead he mostly talked.
  138. At the end of the session, in a populist move seemingly designed to appeal to his base, Trump announced he would impose long-term tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, without a White House legal review. TheDJIA plunged roughly 500 points after Trump made his announcement.
  139. This marked the second time this week — gun control and tariffs — that Trump had, without notice, broken from GOP traditional positions. Republicans spoke out publicly against him, especially on tariffs.
  140. Thursday evening, after meeting with Trump and Pence in the Oval Office, Chris Cox, an NRA lobbyist, tweeted that Trump had backed off from his Wednesday support for gun control measures.
  141. Trump acknowledged the same, tweeting an hour later at 10 p.m., “Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!.”
  142. Trump was widely criticized by conservatives and conservative media forcomments at the gun control meeting with lawmakers, when he said “take the guns first, go through due process second.”
  143. Think Progress reported Trump ally Carl Icahn sold off his $31.3 million stake in Manitowoc Company, a company heavily dependent on steel to manufacture its products, a week before Trump’s decision on tariffs.
  144. On Friday, Electrolux, Europe’s largest home appliance maker, said it would delay a planned $250 million investment in Tennessee, citing Trump’s tariff hike could cause a “pretty significant” hike in steel prices.
  145. On Friday, Bloomberg reported that Anthony Scaramucci is on the White House “exclusion list” for entrance. Scaramucci believes Kelly is behind the move, “Does the president want to lose everyone because of General Jackass?”
  146. McClatchy reported Sen. Bill Nelson, the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, called on Twitter to explain how imposter accounts undermined the Miami Herald and inflamed the public after Parkland.
  147. Of concern is that Russia-linked accounts and propaganda which influenced the 2016 election are still here, and are attempting to discredit established media and sow public alarm and discord.
  148. On Thursday, in a Twitter thread, CEO Jack Dorsey said his platform is in many ways, broken, adding Twitter “didn’t fully predict or understand the real-world negative consequences.” Dorsey confessed Twitter’s failures, and said the company is rethinking everything.
  149. On Friday, in a scathing op-ed on Kushner, the NYT Editorial Board cited Kushner’s bad advice, shady deals, and incompetence, and as a lesson learned called for firming up the anti-nepotism law.
  150. On Friday, AP reported the Trump regime awarded the first border wall construction contract to SWF Constructors, a tiny Nebraska-based offshoot of Edgewood, New York-based Coastal Environmental Group.
  151. It is unclear why SWF was listed on the bid. Coastal is a construction company that has been sued repeatedly for failing to pay subcontractors, and was accused of shady billing practices in a 2016 government audit.
  152. Following Alec’s Baldwin’s interview in the Hollywood Reporter on Thursday about how impersonating Trump on SNL is “agony,” on Friday, Trump took to Twitter at 5:42 a.m. to attack Baldwin.
  153. In the tweet, which was deleted, Trump misspelled “dying” and mistyped Baldwin’s name as “Alex.” Trump tweeted Baldwin’s “dying mediocre career was saved by his terrible impersonation of me,” adding “it was agony for those who were forced to watch.”
  154. On Friday, Baldwin replied, tweeting, “Agony though it may be, I’d like to hang in there for the impeachment hearings, the resignation speech…You know. The Good Stuff. That we’ve all been waiting for.”
  155. Companies continued to distance themselves from the NRA and take a harder line against guns, raising the age to buy weapons, and limiting what they sell. Companies include Dicks, Walmart, Kroger, and REI.
  156. After Delta cuts ties with the NRA in Week 67, the Georgia legislature voted to pull a jet-fuel tax break the company enjoyed from a tax bill, Delta’s CEO said Friday, “Our values are not for sale.”
  157. On Saturday, CNN reported Trump hit a milestone having spent 100 days in office at one of his golf clubs at taxpayers’ expense. In total, Trump has spent nearly 1 in 4 of his days in office at one of his golf clubs.
  158. On Saturday, Trump will host a campaign fundraiser for his 2020 run at Mar-a-Lago. Tickets start at $2,700, with $25,000 and $50,000 options.
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On a street pole in New York City. 2018.
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Message from the people in NYC. 2018.
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Suffice it to say, he’s not a well-liked dictator in New York City. 2018.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 68: PEEK-A-BOO, WE SEE YOU

Week 67 of this ‘presidency’: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

February 24, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-67-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-6bc3c6c84d02

On a holiday week with Congress out of session, gun control and the Mueller probe dominated the headlines and the country’s attention. The youth-led activism on gun control sparked by Parkland students has been compared to the successful youth movement against the Vietnam War. The Trump regime was caught flat-footed on the issue, left to parrot NRA talking points; while one White House described the mass shooting as a “reprieve” from a series of negative news and scandals starting in Week 65.

The Mueller probe made news this week with new indictments, and the probe’s fourth and fifth guilty pleas. A comparison of public knowledge on where the probe was headed was made to the “tip of the iceberg,” as charges against a previously unknown Dutch man whose father-in-law is a Russian oligarch came Tuesday. Trump’s White House continues its high-drama chaos with continuing threats of firings and actual resignations, and amid controversy over access to highly classified materials.

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On a sign in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. February 2018
  1. On Saturday, at the Munich Security Conference, US lawmakers from both parties and top national security officials told Europe’s foreign policy elite to ignore Trump’s tweets, Trump’s main mode of communication.
  2. On Saturday, in the opening of her show, Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro slammed the FBI again, this time over the Parkland shooting, saying “The FBI needs a complete overhaul, a complete cleansing.”
  3. On Sunday, Rep. Trey Gowdy defended Mueller on “Face the Nation” after the indictments, saying “Russia is not our friend,” adding about Mueller, “This is exactly what we wanted him to do.” Other Republicans have been silent.
  4. WAPO reported Trump spent the weekend at Mar-a-Lago stewing, watching cable news and calling friends to vent. On Saturday and SundayTrump skipped golf, reportedly to honor the Parkland victims.
  5. Starting after 11 p.m. Saturday night and continuing through midday Sunday, Trump sent a series of 10 tweets lashing out at the Russia probe. The tweets were laden with false statements, profanity, and misspellings.
  6. Trump seized on Mueller’s Russian indictments and Rod Rosenstein’s statement that there is “no allegation in the indictment that any American had any knowledge” of Russian election interference in this indictment to yet again claim he was exonerated.
  7. Trump tweeted he “never said Russia did not meddle in the election.” This is false. Trump has called Russian meddling a “hoax” and a “witch hunt” ginned up by Democrats numerous times before and after taking office.
  8. Trump also criticized H.R. McMaster’s incontrovertible statement tweeting McMaster forgot to add the 2016 results were not impacted, and “the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems.”
  9. Trump tweeted that he had “never gotten over the fact” that Obama “was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran,” which Trump complained no one in Congress, the DOJ, or FBI is investigating.
  10. Trump lashed out at Rep. Schiff, tweeting “Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control” is now blaming Obama for Russian meddling as an excuse for why “Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election.”
  11. Trump tweeted that the FBI missed “signals” sent out about the school shooting because the agency was too focused on Russian collusion, drawing widespread condemnation, including from survivors on Twitter.
  12. Asked about Trump, Emma Gonzalez, a Parkland student who is helping organize gun-control marches in DC and other cities on March 24 said, “the best thing for us to do is ignore him,” calling his words “disgraceful.”
  13. On Sunday night, Trump was again tweeting, this time mocking a “very insecure” Oprah for her performance on “60 Minutes,” adding “Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!”
  14. On Monday, which was President’s Day, after golfing, Trump took to Twitter to again criticize Obama, saying Obama was president during the election, asking “So why didn’t he do something about Russian meddling?”
  15. On Monday, WAPO reported according to a White House official, after the flurry of negative news to hit the regime in the last week, the school shooting which killed 17 was viewed as a “a distraction or a reprieve.”
  16. Baltimore Sun reported Republican Aaron Penman, who is running for state delegate, hosted a “gun bingo” campaign fundraiser that included raffling off an AR-15 gun, three days after the Parkland shooting.
  17. The Chicago Blackhawks banned four fans from their home games for directing racist taunts at Black American hockey player Devante Smith-Pelly of the Washington Capitals while he was in the penalty box.
  18. Politico reported the Trump regime is trimming language on women’s reproductive rights and discrimination from the soon-to-be-released State Department annual report on global human rights.
  19. By order of the regime, passages which deal with women’s access to contraceptives and abortion will be removed, and a broader section which chronicles racial, ethnic and sexual discrimination will be pared down.
  20. The State Department report is relied on by a range of people, from U.S. lawmakers to political activists. Officials say these late, unusual revisions reflect Trump regime orders while many key roles remain unstaffed.
  21. On Thursday, Reuters reported Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House are replacing Matthew Masterson, chair of the Election Assistance Commission who has helped states protect election systems from cyber-attacks by Russia.
  22. Masterson is a popular figure among state election officials, who praised his expertise. He was picked by GOP speaker John Boehner and nominated by Obama to a four-year term. Ryan and Trump will pick his replacement.
  23. Politico reported Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services is taking steps to dismantle LGBTQ health initiatives: regulations to protect LGBTQ worker and patients have halted or rolled back, LGBTQ-friendly language removed from documents.
  24. Senior advisers dedicated to LGBTQ health have been reassigned. Officials are also concerned that many Trump appointees at the agency have records of anti-LGBTQ beliefs or actions.
  25. NY Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin proposed sweeping reforms to federal Immigration and Nationality Law that would allow the government to revoke citizenship within 10 years for a broad range of alleged offenses.
  26. On Thursday, Intercept reported an email sent to US Citizenship and Immigration Services staff members by director L. Francis Cissna announced a new agency mission statement which omits the words “nation of immigrants.”
  27. In its annual audit of the world’s human rights, Amnesty International accused Trump of taking “actions that violate human rights at home and abroad,” grouping Trump with other authoritarian leaders from Egypt, Russia, China, the Philippines, and Venezuela.
  28. Amnesty International said Trump’s policies created a year of “hate-filled rhetoric,” citing his Muslim Bans, anti-immigration policies, and his attacks on the rights of women and girls, the LGBTQ community, and more.
  29. AP reported the Trump regime is calling for the elimination of LIHEAP — Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program — which provides heating assistance for low-income families, as part of his 2019 budget.
  30. Also as part the 2019 budget, Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department plans to use money raised from drilling on public lands to fund $18 billion of backlogged infrastructure plans at his department’s choosing.
  31. On Wednesday, WAPO reported two senior US Geological Survey officialsresigned after Zinke asked them to provide confidential data on the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska before it was released to the public, an action which would violated the USGS’s scientific integrity policy.
  32. On Monday, Scott Pruitt postponed canceled a trip scheduled to Israel amid scrutiny over his travel costs. According to Week 66, Pruitt reportedly has been flying in first class and on military jets.
  33. On Wednesday, Rep. Gowdy, chair the House Oversight Committee,demanded Pruitt turn over documents related to his first-class travel, and raised concerns about conflicting statements from Pruitt’s press office.
  34. Trump’s nominee to become ambassador to the Bahamas, billionaire Doug Manchester, headed a newspaper where former employees said the “‘Mad Men’-style,” was uncomfortable and often disrespectful toward women.
  35. WAPO reported that two weeks after Trump nominated Florida businessman Leandro Rizzuto Jr. to become ambassador to Barbados, Rizzuto pledged thousands to underwrite a gala at Mar-a-Lago.
  36. Since Trump has yet to nominate a head of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the position is held by Michael Kratsios, a 31 year-old former chief of staff to Peter Thiel who has a political science degree.
  37. CNN reported The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s inspector general is looking in the role secretary Ben Carson’s family has played at the agency. In Week 64, Carson was warned by agency lawyers about his sending his son on a listening tour.
  38. WSJ reported watchdog group Common Cause filed complaints with the FEC and DOJ asking the agencies to investigate the $150k payment to Karen McDougal who sold her Trump story to the National Enquirer (AMI).
  39. Common Cause said the “catch and kill” payment made by AMI was intended to influence the election. Michael Cohen was in touch with AMI’s CEO and chief content officer during the investigation.
  40. CNBC reported Trump’s former bodyguard, Keith Schiller, worked for Trump for nearly 20 years, is being paid $15k a month from a GOP slush fund. Schiller has been questioned as part of the Mueller probe.
  41. CNBC reported the RNC has been quietly paying more than $37,000 a month in rent to Trump’s companies and thousands more in salary to Pence’s nephew for expenses previously covered by the Trump campaign.
  42. These payments started shortly after the RNC came under pressure for paying legal bills for Trump and Donald Jr. in the Mueller probe, and stopped doing so.
  43. Forbes reported based on identifying 164 tenants of Trump properties, at least 36 have meaningful relationships with the federal government, from contractors to lobbying firms to regulatory targets.
  44. Forbes noted China’s largest bank, the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China is a tenant on the 20th floor of Trump Tower, six floors below Trump’s desk. The Chinese government is majority owner of the bank.
  45. Donald Jr. made an “unofficial” business trip to India to promote Trump Organization real estate transactions. While there, he delivered a foreign policy speech on Indo-Pacific relations at an event with Indian PM Narendra Modi.
  46. Indian newspapers have been running full-page advertisements about the Trump Tower project under the headline: “Trump is Here — Are You Invited?” inviting people to spend a $38k booking fee and meet Donald Jr.
  47. During his trip, Donald Jr. praised the “spirit” of people in poverty-stricken areas of India, adding that he likes that they “smile.” Trump Tower apartments in a New Delhi suburb run from $775,000 to $1.5 million.
  48. Donald Jr. called accusations that his family is profiting from Trump’s position “nonsense,” adding “It’s sort of a shame. Because we put on all these impositions on ourselves and essentially got no credit.”
  49. On Tuesday, a review board overseeing Puerto Rico’s housing contracts suspended a $133 million contract awarded to Adjusters International, whose senior vice presidents is Trump’s failed FEMA nominee Daniel Craig.
  50. Craig helped his firm with the bid for the contract which should have been disqualified for failing to comply with FEMA requirements. Craig is under federal investigation for ethics issues involving FEMA contracts for Hurricane Katrina.
  51. AP reported six-months after Hurricane Harvey in Texas, recovery has lagged well behind earlier post-disaster efforts. Relief efforts have been slow to unfold and tangled with bureaucracy.
  52. Federal records show it took four times as long to house people in trailers after Harvey than Katrina, and housing repairs are running months behind Sandy. Local communities have been left to their own devices.
  53. On Tuesday, the regime held its first daily press briefing in over a week, and first since the Parkland shooting, with unanswered questions on the Rob Porter scandal, Russian indictments, and hush money for Trump’s affairs.
  54. The briefing started 88 minutes late, the longest delay to date, and lasted only 20 minutes long. Sanders left many questions unanswered, cutting off at 3:30 p.m. for Trump’s Public Safety Medal of Valor Awards Ceremony.
  55. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump has repeatedly acknowledged Russian interference, and that Trump “has been tougher on Russia in the first year than Obama was in eight years combined.” Both statements are false.
  56. Sanders also said VA chief David Shulkin’s job is safe, despite alleged misuse of taxpayer money during a 10-day trip to Europe and attempts to conceal it in Week 66, unless “other stuff comes up.”
  57. Politico reported it has been a year since Trump held a news conference. In their first years in office, Obama held 11 formal news conferences, George W. Bush held four, Clinton held 14, and George H.W. Bush held 26.
  58. On Tuesday, a front page story at WAPO was “Is anyone listening?” the story of Rachel Crooks, who claims Trump kissed her for two minutes when she worked as a secretary at Trump Tower in 2006.
  59. On Tuesday, Trump sent two tweets denying Crooks’ claim, calling it “Another False Accusation,” saying of Crooks, “to the best of my knowledge, never met,” and “Never happened!
  60. Trump also lashed out at WAPO in his tweets, calling the paper “Fake News Washington Post,” and asking why WAPO doesn’t “report the story of the women taking money to make up stories about me?”
  61. Crooks is one of 16 women who have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump. Crooks is also running in November 2018 for a seat in Ohio’s state Legislature.
  62. On Tuesday in a Kentucky rural district, Democrat Linda Belcher won a state House of Representative seat by 36 points. Trump won the district by 49 points in 2016, an 85 point swing.
  63. On Tuesday, NYT reported Jared Kushner is resisting giving up his access to highly classified information, sparking an internal struggle with chief of staff John Kelly, who announced an overhaul of the security process in a memo in Week 66.
  64. Kelly’s public statements, in which he said policy change would not harm Kushner’s ability to do his job, have ratcheted up tensions. Kushner and Ivanka reportedly were critical of Kelly when speaking to Trump.
  65. On Wednesday, Trump again attacked his beleaguered Attorney General, tweeting the Obama administration did nothing about Russian meddling so “why aren’t they the subject of the investigation?” adding “Ask Jeff Sessions!”
  66. On Sunday, the LA Times reported Rick Gates will change his plea to guilty of fraud-related charges, and testify against Paul Manafort. Gates will become the fourth person in the Mueller probe to plead guilty and cooperate.
  67. On Monday, CNN reported Mueller’s interest in Kushner has expanded to include Kushner’s efforts to secure financing for his company from foreign investors during the presidential transition.
  68. Mueller is interested in Kushner’s discussions with Chinese investors, including Anbang’s chairman, Wu Xiaohui, a week after the election, as well as negotiations with a Qatari investor, relating to 666 Fifth Avenue.
  69. In Week 35, Intercept reported Kushner not getting a deal with a Qatar sovereign wealth fund on 666 Fifth Avenue may have influenced US policy towards Qatar.
  70. Mueller is also reportedly investigating Kushner’s involvement in the Trump campaign’s 2016 data analytics operation, his relationship with Flynn, and Kushner’s contacts with Russians.
  71. On Monday, Politico reported conservatives are urging Trump to grant pardons to limit the impact of the Mueller probe. Supporters said Trump should consider pardoning Michael Flynn, Manafort, Gates, and George Papadopoulos.
  72. On Wednesday, conservative media floated a false narrative that based on a new filing in his case, Flynn should withdraw his guilty plea because the special counsel “withheld” evidence which could exonerate him.
  73. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats defended hosting the controversial secret visit by Russian spy chiefs in Week 64, telling Sen. Chuck Schumer in a letter that the meetings focused on counterterrorism cooperation.
  74. One of the visitors was GRU chief, Igor Korobov, who was sanctioned for interfering in the US election. When MSNBC asked the State Department about his travel waiver, they were directed by State to the Russian government.
  75. BuzzFeed reported Mueller’s team has now identified more than $40 million in “suspicious” financial transactions to and from companies controlled by Manafort. Mueller’s October indicted listed just $18 million.
  76. On Tuesday, Alex van der Zwaan, son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan, pleaded guilty to making false statements in a November 3 interview by Mueller’s team, days after Manafort and Gates were indicted.
  77. False statements were related to a 2016 recorded phone call about a 2012 report prepared by van der Zwaan’s law firm, Skadden, Arps, about the jailing of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
  78. Van der Zwaan was hired by Manafort and Gates to prepare the reportwhile working for Skadden. Last year, Skadden fired van der Zwaan and has been cooperating in the Mueller probe.
  79. German Khan is an owner of Alfa Group, Russia’s largest financial and industrial group. In Week 21, Alfa Bank was being investigated by the FBI over frequently pings of Trump Organization servers during the campaign.
  80. Alfa Bank is also mentioned in the dossier. Khan and other Alfa Bank owners sued Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson in Week 47, and BuzzFeed in Week 28, saying their reputations had been tattered by the dossier.
  81. On Thursday, Mueller filed a new indictment against Manafort and Gates which included 32 additional counts, including tax and bank fraud charges. The initial indictment last October had 12 counts.
  82. Manafort and Gates received large amounts of money for their work in Ukraine from 2006–2015 which they laundered by bringing it into the US as corporate loans, also avoiding reporting the money as income.
  83. When the money dried up, Manafort and Gates lied to lenders about their finances, and set up a real estate scheme under which they were able to obtain millions in financing in 2015 and 2016.
  84. Lawfare reported while there are no allegations about the Trump campaign directly, the indictment alleges bank fraud between 2015 and 2017 during which Manafort and Gates were both involved with Trump.
  85. In previous weekly lists, at the time Manafort took the position as Trump’s campaign chair, although he was cash poor, he offered to do the job for free, potentially to relieve pressure to repay Russian oligarch Deripaska.
  86. WSJ reported Mueller’s team and federal prosecutors in NY are also examining a $16 million loan made to Manafort by Federal Savings Bank, a small bank in Chicago run by Steve Calk.
  87. In Week 26, the loan represented 24% of the bank’s reported capital. Mueller’s team wants to know if the loan was part of a possible quid pro quo for Calk to secure the position of Army secretary in the Trump regime.
  88. Early Thursday, WAPO reported Gates’ legal defense is in question. His three lawyers asked to leave the case, citing “highly sensitive matters” that would “potentially be prejudicial as well as embarrassing.”
  89. Late Thursday, shortly after Mueller filed the new charges, the judge granted the three lawyers’ request, and Gates’ new lawyer Thomas C. Green, filed notice with the court that he is now representing Gates.
  90. On Thursday, The Daily Beast reported that Gates fired Tom Green, and is replacing him with lawyer Barry Pollack of Miller Chevalier. Reportedly Gates is, at this point, not cooperating in the Mueller probe.
  91. On Thursday afternoon, Green denied the report that he been fired, and the next day The Daily Beast completely rewrote their story leaving out any mention of Green and printed a correction.
  92. On Friday morning, NYT reported Gates will plead guilty in the Mueller probe and will cooperate. The deal reportedly came after Mueller filed additional charges. Gates became the fifth to plead guilty in the probe.
  93. Gates pleaded guilty in court to participating in a financial conspiracy with Manafort. He also admitted that he lied to investigators on February 1, while negotiating with prosecutors.
  94. Gates lied about a conversation he had with Manafort in March 2013, after Manafort had met with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher to discuss the situation in Ukraine. Gates falsely claimed Manafort said Ukraine did not come up.
  95. Gates’ three attorneys had asked to step off the case on February 1 after Gates’ lie, saying “Irreconcilable differences have developed with the client which make our effective representation of the client impossible.”
  96. Court documents revealed Gates has been discussing a deal with Mueller’s team since January. If Gates fully cooperates he could ask for probation, or he could face up to 71 months in prison on the two felony counts.
  97. Gates was deputy campaign manager as Trump was developing policy positions and engaging with voters on social media. Gates stayed on after Manafort resigned in August and was a consultant on the transition team.
  98. On Friday, less than two hours after Gates agreed to cooperate, new charges were filed against Manafort in the Mueller probe, alleging Manafort paid European politicians to push positions favorable to Ukraine.
  99. Charges say Manafort, with assistance from Gates, orchestrated a group of former European politicians, called the “Hapsburg group,” to appear independent, while being secretly paid 2 million euros by Manafort.
  100. Manafort funded the payments from an offshore account, similar to $4 million payments he made to Alex van der Zwaan to produce the report on jailing Tymoshenko. Manafort maintained his innocence on Friday.
  101. On Friday, Susan Rice’s attorney responded to Sens. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham’s request in Week 66, saying she documented the January 2017 meeting before Obama left the White House because they were “justifiably concerned” about ties between Russia and the incoming Trump regime.
  102. Rice’s attorney added Rice memorialized the meeting based on advice she received from the White House counsel, and that Rice was not aware of the existence of the FBI’s investigation at the time.
  103. On Wednesday, Trump met with grieving parents and students impacted by school gun violence at the White House. Several attendees showed raw emotion and tears, which reportedly overshadowed a policy discussion.
  104. During the meeting, Trump held a card captured in photographs with items including, “What would you most want me to know about your experience?” and a reminder to express empathy: “I hear you.”
  105. After listening, Trump suggested arming teachers to increase school safety. On Thursday morning, Trump lashed out at news organizations for reporting this, tweeting that he “never said ‘give teachers guns.’”
  106. On Thursday, Trump hosted a second White House meeting on gun violence. Trump floated the idea of paying teachers “a little bit of a bonus” for carrying guns in class, and promised federal funds to train them.
  107. Trump fired back at Education secretary Betsy DeVos for suggesting active shooter drills, saying “active shooter drills is a very negative thing,” adding “I think it’s crazy, I think it’s very bad for children.”
  108. Trump blamed video games and movies for youth violence, suggesting “maybe they have to put a rating system for that.” Ratings systems for movies and video games have existed for decades.
  109. Trump repeated the terms “hardening” numerous times, meaning adding armed guards and arming teachers. He also spoke against banning guns, saying that a school “is frankly no different” than a military base.
  110. Trump added, “we have to let the bad guy know that they are hardened,” harkening back to National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre’s talking points after Sandy Hook that the only way to stop bad guys with guns is having good guys with guns.
  111. NPR reported many of Trump’s words seem to come from a NRA script. Trump said of the NRA, “I don’t think I’ll be going up against them,” adding “I’m very close to them; they’re very, very great people.”
  112. On Thursday evening, the night after a widely-watched CNN Town Hall on gun control, Trump tweeted, “School shooting survivor says he quit @CNN Town Hall after refusing scripted question.” CNN denied the charge.
  113. On Friday, Trump called deputy Scot Peterson, the Parkland security guard who failed to stop the shooting, a “coward.” Critics pointed to the armed guard who froze to show the fallacy of Trump’s proposal to arm teachers.
  114. In speeches at CPAC, both Trump and LaPierre delivered dystopian speeches, harkening the culture wars. LaPierre attacked the FBI, saying it was “not free of its own corruption and its own unethical agents.”
  115. At the Ronald Reagan dinner Friday, CPAC’s communication director Ian Walters stirred controversy by saying, “We elected Mike Steele as chairman because he was a black guy, that was the wrong thing to do.”
  116. Curtis Rhodes, the superintendent of Needville Independent School District in Texas said in a letter to families and on social media that students who take part in protests on gun violence will be suspended.
  117. On Thursday, amid customer feedback and complaints, the First National Bank of Omaha ended its relationship with the NRA. Car rental companiesEnterprise, National, and Alamo also cut ties.
  118. By Saturday, Delta and United became the latest companies to cut ties with the NRA, bringing the total to 13 including hotels, insurance companies and more.
  119. On Tuesday, 22 Democratic state attorneys general filed a lawsuit to preserve net neutrality. The suit cites the Administrative Procedure Act, which prevents the FCC from “arbitrary and capricious” redactions.
  120. On Thursday, the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality became official, and was published in the Federal Register, the government’s official record of all administrative actions.
  121. On Friday, the NRA awarded FCC chair Ajit Pai its “Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award” for withstanding months of criticism and repealing net neutrality.
  122. On Thursday, Trump said he is considering pulling ICE out of California, blaming the state for doing a “lousy management job” in patrolling illegal immigration. He added if he pulls ICE, “you would have a crime nest.”
  123. The regime has stepped up enforcement of immigration laws in Californiaas part of their efforts to pressure sanctuary cities. ICE director Tom Homan told Fox News, “There’s no sanctuary from federal law enforcement.”
  124. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Trump’s “obsession with our state is growing more outrageous by the day,” and Sen. Kamala Harris added the regime has “continually put a target on California’s back and we won’t be bullied.”
  125. On Thursday, CNN reported Trump is considering firing McMaster as National Security Adviser. In Week 66, McMaster said evidence of Russian interference was “incontrovertible.”
  126. Reportedly some in the Pentagon believe McMaster has become too politicized to return to the military. Amid tension between the two, Trump could also go as far as not to offer him a fourth star and force him to retire.
  127. On Thursday, Reuters reported both McMaster and Kelly may resign from the White House over tensions with Trump, especially as it relates to clearance for Kushner. WH officials have been working on a compromise.
  128. Ivanka led a delegation to South Korea for the Olympic closing ceremony and to brief President Moon Jae-in on new North Korea sanctions Trump imposed on Friday. Ivanka still lacks permanent security clearance.
  129. On Friday, WAPO reported Rosenstein alerted Don McGahn on February 9 that significant information requiring additional investigation would further delay Kushner’s security process.
  130. Two sources said new important information came light. Security experts say it is rare to have a high level of interim clearance for such a long period of time. Typically, this interim clearance would last for only three months.
  131. Kelly’s memo in Week 66 could mean Kushner and Ivanka could lose their high-level security clearance as early as Friday, February 23. On Friday,Trump told the press he would leave the decision to Kelly.
  132. On Friday, Elaine Duke, deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security resigned after serving less than a year on the job. Duke worked as a high-ranking DHS official under George W. Bush and was recruited back by then-Secretary Kelly.
  133. The Trump regime soured on Duke after she refused as acting secretary in Week 52 to expel 57,000 Hondurans who have lived in the US for nearly two decades under temporary protected status.
  134. Over a week has passed since Mueller unsealed criminal indictments against Russians for interfering in our 2016 election. Trump has taken no actions nor did he issue any statement or tweet on the subject this week.
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Scrawled on a wall in New York City. February 2018
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Stencil on the sidewalk in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. February 2018
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Artist who ‘doctored’ this image to add trump, not known. A witty addition to Kehinde Wiley’s Obama presidential portrait.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 67: “INCONTROVERTIBLE” ~ RUSSIA INTERFERED WITH THE 2016 ELECTION

Week 66 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

February 17, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-66-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-a3c69c829741

For the first time in quite a while, this week Trump had no control over the narrative. What was supposed to be his Infrastructure Week, was quickly supplanted by the Rob Porter scandal, which carried over from Week 65 and escalated, highlighting the Trump White House dysfunction. Another mass shooting shook the country and left Trump and his regime flat-footed ahead of bombshell indictments unsealed by Mueller against Russians on Friday.

The indictments highlight what heads of US intelligence unanimously agreed to in Senate hearings, and what H.R. McMaster called “incontrovertible” — that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s continued denial of Russian meddling leaves him in an isolated and untenable position, as the country awaits his response to Russia.

Of note, this week there was push-back from inspector generals, watchdog groups, and the judicial branch against the regime’s kleptocracy and corruption — some of the first signs of accountability.

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by Consumerart in the East Village, NYC ~ Feb2018
  1. NBC News reported Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand resigned due to her frustration that key positions in her jurisdiction were unfilled, and her concern that Rod Rosenstein’s job was in danger and she would assume oversight of the Russia probe.
  2. On Sunday, Kellyanne Conway, Mick Mulvaney, and Marc Short appeared on Sunday shows to defend the White House’s handling of the Rob Porter abuse allegations. Mulvaney’s timeline on “Face the Nation” was differentthan John Kelly’s version.
  3. When asked if Hope Hicks was in danger dating Porter, Conway said “I’ve rarely met somebody so strong with such excellent instincts and loyalty and smarts.” Porter’s first ex-wife, Colbie Holderness, responded in an op-ed about domestic abuse.
  4. On Tuesday, Politico reported in the hours after Daily Mail broke the story about Porter’s abuse, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders hastily arranged an off-the-record meeting between Porter and four reporters to tell his side of the story.
  5. On Sunday, WAPO reported under Trump ICE arrests have surged by 40%. The biggest jump has been arrests of immigrants with no criminal convictions: 37,734 arrests in fiscal 2017, more than doubling 2016’s arrests.
  6. Street-level ICE officers and field directors have greater latitude to determine whom they arrest and under what conditions. Trump officials call it taking “the shackles off,” and happily report morale is up at ICE.
  7. Houston Chronicle reported Carlos Gudiel Andres, husband and father of five, was arrested early morning while packing his tools for work, the latest case of ICE targeting predominantly Hispanic apartment complexes.
  8. Community members held a rally in CT for Zhe Long Huang and Xiang Jin Li, known as “Kris and Tony,” who face deportation to China. The couple, who own a local nail salon, fear being separated from their two sons.
  9. In Kansas, ICE handcuffed a chemistry professor, Syed A. Jamal, who has been in the US for 30 years, as he was leaving to drive his daughter to school. Jamal, who coached kids in science and sports, awaits deportation.
  10. In Phoenix, ICE was set to deport Jesus Armando Berrones-Balderas, a father of five who has lived in the US since he was one and has a son battling cancer. After media coverage, ICE granted him a one-year stay.
  11. Toronto Star reported US Border Patrol is boarding buses and trains within 100 miles of Canada and asking passengers if they are citizens. A 1953 law gives the patrol the right to do this within 100 miles of our borders.
  12. On Tuesday, BuzzFeed reported Raphael Sanchez, while chief counsel for ICE in Seattle, stole the identities of multiple immigrants while their immigration cases were under review.
  13. Sanchez pleaded guilty to using the immigrants’ information to open up credit cards and loans in their names, taking payments of more than $190,000 from the false accounts. He resigned from the agency.
  14. Reuters reported the Trump regime is considering closing more than 20 US resettlement offices, and cutting back operations at more than 40 others as part of the State Department’s plan to reduce the number of refugees allowed in.
  15. On Tuesday, a second judge, US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn, ruled DACA could not end in March, saying the regime could eventually rescind DACA, but the reasons given in September were too arbitrary to stand.
  16. Vox analyzed the hiring records for three Trump properties in New York and Florida and found only one out of 144 jobs went to a US worker from 2016 to the end of 2017. The rest were foreign workers under H-2B visas.
  17. Jocelyn Morfii, an elementary school teacher at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School in Miami for seven years, was fired after marrying a woman. The principal said it was “difficult and necessary decision.”
  18. USA Today reported that 92% of Trump’s federal judge nominees are white. Of the 87 picks so far, just one is African American, one is Hispanic, and five are Asian American.
  19. Boston Globe reported Charles Johnson, a 29 year-old who questions if six million Jews died in the Holocaust, argues black people are “dumber” than white people, and is part of white supremacist circles, has found mainstream acceptance working for a pro-Trump super PAC in DC.
  20. On Sunday, Rick Blood, the GOP deputy mayor of Mendham, ex-Gov. Chris Christie’s hometown, published a Facebook post comparing immigrants to raccoons in the basement, and lauded Trump as the exterminator.
  21. Blood deleted the post, which was a version of a post circulating on conservative blogs since early 2016. On Monday he faced Mendham residents, and then, after a township committee meeting, resigned.
  22. On Monday, Brandon Defrain, GOP chair in Bay County, Michigan resigned his post and from the party. In a Facebook post he said “I can no longer remain silent” about Trump, citing racism, hatred, and violation of civil rights.
  23. Lissa Luca, a Democratic candidate in West Virginia’s House of Delegates, was forcibly escorted out after using a public hearing on the House floor to list the donations GOP lawmakers had received from the oil and gas industry.
  24. On Monday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, led by acting director Mulvaney, dropped its lawsuit against Golden Valley Lending, a payday lender that allegedly charged people interest rates of up to 950 percent.
  25. On Monday, is a speech to the National Sheriffs Association, Sessions broke from his prepared written remarks — “The sheriff is a critical part of our legal heritage” — to instead invoke the “Anglo-American heritage.”
  26. On Thursday, the US appeals court in Virginia said Trump’s Muslim Ban was probably unconstitutional, putting it on hold pending Supreme Court review. Trump’s comments and tweets were reviewed in the case.
  27. On Thursday, the House voted to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act, to require written notice of violations, and giving businesses 60 days to come up with a plan and an additional 60 days to take action.
  28. On Thursday, Planned Parenthood and eight other groups sued Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services, saying the agency unlawfully canceled their five-year grants for teen pregnancy prevention midstream and with no explanation
  29. Heath Hall, the Federal Railroad Administration’s acting chief since June, resigned following another deadly Amtrak crash. Politico reported Hall was simultaneously working as a public relations consultant in Mississippi.
  30. Trump’s pick to run the Census Bureau, Thomas Brunell, a deeply partisan professor with no government experience who had defended racial gerrymandering and voter suppression, withdrew from consideration.
  31. According to data obtained by McClatchy, the State Department is promoting 50% fewer people into the first levels of senior Foreign Service positions, creating a crisis for the future diplomatic corps and a leadership vacuum.
  32. The Trump regime has also proposed another steep cut in the diplomatic budget of more than 25%, raising concerns the regime is intentionally undercutting the department’s work and US influence in the world.
  33. According to WAPO in partnership with Partnership for Public Service, after 13 months in office, Trump has yet to put forth a nominee for 1 in 3 key roles in the executive branch: 225 of 636 positions have no nominee.
  34. On Sunday, Politico reported Rep. Devin Nunes created his own alternative news site. The website, “The California Republican,” is paid for by Nunes’ campaign committee, and is classified on Facebook as a “media/news company.”
  35. On Sunday, WAPO reported based on information obtained under the FOIA, unlike his predecessors, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt travels first-class and on military jets, and stays at very high-end hotels, costing taxpayers tens of thousands.
  36. Pruitt also tends to bring a larger entourage of political advisers on his trips than past administrators, and rarely discloses his schedule in advance citing “security concerns” and that it could be a “distraction.”
  37. NYT reported that a $225,000 donation resulted in special treatment for Fitzgerald trucks, as Pruitt helped the company secure a pollution loophole that Obama tried to close, and the Trump regime is championing.
  38. A federal court ruled Trump’s Department of Energy must implement four Obama-era energy efficiency regulations, which have been delayed for more than a year, saying failure is “a violation of the department’s duties.”
  39. The Veterans Affairs inspector general found Secretary David Shulkin’s chief of staff doctored an email and made false statements to justify having taxpayers cover expenses for his wife on a 10-day trip to Europe.
  40. The inspector general also found Shulkin improperly accepted tickets to Wimbledon worth thousands of dollars and other gifts, and directed an aide to act as a “personal travel concierge” to him and his wife.
  41. On Thursday, Shulkin refused to resign, instead saying his chief of staff’s email account had been hacked: “We’ve seen that somebody is impersonating her, and we have to fully investigate that.”
  42. NYT reported the FCC inspector general opened an investigation by the end of 2017 into whether commissioner Ajit Pai and his aides improperlypushed for rule changes which benefitted Sinclair Broadcasting.
  43. AT&T will seek testimony from the Department of Justice’s antitrust chief, in exploring whether Trump influenced the department’s decision to block the company’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner to retaliate at CNN.
  44. WAPO tabulated that in Trump’s first 13 months in office, more than 40% (9 out of 22) of the people he originally picked for Cabinet-level jobs have faced ethical or other controversies.
  45. On Thursday, the Trump regime agreed to settle a pending lawsuit by nonprofit group Public Citizen filed last August, and will post visitor logs for some White House offices, including Office of Management and Budget and the drug czar’s office.
  46. On Sunday, the day before the White House released its 2019 budget,Mulvaney told “Fox News Sunday” that the US will post a larger budget deficit this year and could see a “spike” in interest rates as a result.
  47. On Monday, Trump unveiled his $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan which his aides told Axios is not expected to pass, and his $4 trillion budget which his aides said reads like “science fiction.”
  48. The aides told Axios Trump’s real focus in 2018 is “looking for opportunities to stir up the base” — “unexpected cultural flashpoints” like the NFL and kneeling that Trump can latch onto in person and on Twitter.
  49. As part of the infrastructure plan, Trump would give Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke the unilateral power to approve construction of pipelines through national parks. Currently, construction requires an act of Congress.
  50. Also as part of the infrastructure plan, the Trump regime wants to sell off or privatize a broad array of government assets, including the Reagan National Airport and the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
  51. As part of the budget, the Trump regime wants to shake-up the SNAP program (food stamps). Under the regime’s proposal, recipients would get half their benefits in a “USDA Foods package” determined by the regime.
  52. The package includes “shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit and vegetables,” but not fresh produce. The regime says it will save $129 million over 10 years with these limitations.
  53. Trump’s budget also proposed ending federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides some funds to PBS and NPR. PBS CEO Paula Kerger said this would result in closing some local PBS stations.
  54. On Wednesday, Mulvaney told a congressional panel Trump’s military parade could cost up to $30 million, but it is not included in the budget because it came up late.
  55. On Tuesday, in Senate testimony, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said the nation’s debt, likely to escalate with the Republican’s $1.5 trillion tax cut and other fiscal measures, “represents a dire threat to our economic and national security.”
  56. AP reported the amount of money spent lobbying by corporations, trade associations, and special interest groups spiked in the final months of 2017, in the battle for tax breaks in the Republican tax bill.
  57. The GOP tax bill was mostly written in private. Watchdog group Public Citizens reported more than 4,600 lobbyists were engaged specifically on the tax rewrite, an average of 13 lobbyists for every member of Congress.
  58. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “4.2 million hard working Americans have already received a large Bonus and/or Pay Increase.” This is false. A survey found less than 2% of America benefited from the GOP tax law.
  59. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania announced a directive for counties replacing electronic voting systems to buy machines with a paper backup, citing hackers scanned voter registration databases in the 2016 election.
  60. Foreign Policy reported BuzzFeed has hired Anthony Ferrante, who works for FTI Consulting and is a former FBI and National Security Council cybersecurity expert, to lead a team in verifying the Steele dossier.
  61. BuzzFeed is being sued for libel by Russian technology executive Aleksej Gubarev who claims the website was reckless in publishing the dossier. A source said of BuzzFeed’s strategy: “If it’s fact, it’s not libel, that’s the idea.”
  62. On Monday, Russia news agency Tass was again the first to report a telephone conversation between Trump and Putin. According to Tass, the content discussed had to do with diplomacy in the Middle East.
  63. On Monday, Putin hosted Palestinian President Abbas in Moscow and reportedly told him Trump coveys “his best wishes.” Reuters reportedAbbas told Putin he wants the US peace role diluted.
  64. On Monday, CNN reported Sens. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham sent a letter to former National Security Adviser Susan Rice asking why she sent an email to herself the day of Trump’s inauguration about an Oval Office meeting on Russian interference.
  65. The email details a January 5 meeting attended by Rice, Obama, James Comey, Sally Yates, and Joe Biden. Obama stressed he wanted every aspect handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities “by the book.”
  66. In January, Comey, James Clapper, John Brennan, and Mike Rogers released a public report saying Russia meddled in the election to help Trump win. Obama was also briefed on conversations between Michael Flynn and Sergey Kislyak.
  67. The email states: “Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.” The email was sent at 12:15 p.m., just minutes before Obama left office.
  68. On Tuesday, leaders of the US intelligence agencies testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. DNI Coats warned, “There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 US midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.”
  69. Leaders laid out the challenges which include the flow of Russian misinformation and shoring up defenses of electoral systems. Almost every state is taking steps to protect voter databases and election equipment.
  70. Coats said, “We need to inform the American public that this is real,” adding, “there needs to be a national cry for that.” Trump continues to deny that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, calling it “a hoax.”
  71. Sen. Jack Reed asked the leaders if Trump has directed them to take “specific actions to confront and to blunt” Russian interference activities. All are taking some actions, but none have been specifically directed by Trump.
  72. On Wednesday, WAPO reported at the behest of Trump in April, Don McGahn called Dana Boente at DOJ and tried to get him to persuade Comey to publicly state Trump was not personally under investigation in the Russia probe.
  73. McGahn’s office has also reportedly prepared a detailed reconstruction of the 18 days between the time of Yates’s warning and Flynn’s firing, and turned the document over to Mueller for his review.
  74. On Thursday, CNN reported Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with Mueller, indicating he will become the third regime member to cooperatein the investigation. The plea negotiations had been ongoing for about a month.
  75. Gates has already had a “Queen for a Day” interview, in which he can answer any questions about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed, and not have it used against him if he cooperates.
  76. On Friday, as part of the wrangling over Paul Manafort’s bail, Mueller’s team told a federal judge they have found evidence of “additional criminal conduct” by Manafort not addressed in their indictment last October.
  77. Mueller’s filing shows Manafort obtained a mortgage using “doctored profit and loss statements” which overstated his consulting company’s income “by millions of dollars.” There are also references to “conspiracies,” suggesting that someone beyond Manafort was involved in the fraud.
  78. NBC News released, in a public database, more than 200,000 malicious activity tweets created by Russian-linked accounts during the 2016 presidential race, which were deleted by Twitter.
  79. Russia threatened to block YouTube and Instagram if they did not removecontent posted by opposition leader Aleksei Navalny of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and deputy prime minister Sergei Prikhodko on Deripaska’s yacht.
  80. On Thursday, Steve Bannon told the House Intelligence Committee he has been instructed by the White House to invoke executive privilege on behalf of Trump, saying he could only answer 25 pre-approved questions on the Russia investigation.
  81. Rep. Adam Schiff said Bannon’s claim of executive privilege is “breathtaking and insupportable.” He added Democrats will push for initiating contempt charges against Bannon, but it is unclear if Republicans will go along.
  82. On Thursday, NBC News reported Bannon spent 20 hours with Mueller’s team at multiple meetings over the past week as part of the investigation of Russian interference and other issues that have arisen in the probe.
  83. Daily Beast reported Mark Corallo, former legal spokesperson for Trump, was interviewed this week by Mueller. In Week 64, Corallo was said to be planning to share information relating to obstruction of justice.
  84. FBI director Christopher Wray contradicted the White House timeline on Porter. Wray said the FBI submitted a partial report to the White House in March, completed it in late July, and followed up in November with additional information requested by the White House, before closing the file in January.
  85. Later Tuesday, the White House again changed its story on Porter: Sanders said the White House Office of Personnel Security didn’t consider the investigation complete until November, and it had not made a final determination thereafter.
  86. On Tuesday, at the Senate hearings, Coats said officials with an interim clearance should have limited access to sensitive information. He called the security clearance process in Trump’s White House “broken.”
  87. On Tuesday, Rep. Trey Gowdy announced the House Oversight Committee has opened an investigation into Trump’s employment of Porter, and what White House officials knew about domestic abuse accusations against him.
  88. On Tuesday, WAPO reported many White House staffers feel misled and blame chief of staff John Kelly. One White House official called Kelly “a big fat liar,” and added, “his handling of the Porter scandal amounts to dereliction of duty.”
  89. There is also infighting as press secretary Sanders and her deputy Raj Shah echoed Vice President Pence saying the White House could have been handled this better, while Kelly disagrees, telling the WSJ Monday, “It was all done right.”
  90. WAPO’s Philip Rucker, a reporter on the story, told MSNBC they tried to get a subordinate of Kelly to go on the record and say something positiveabout him for balance, but were unable to find one.
  91. On Wednesday, Politico reported nine days into the Porter scandal, press secretary Sanders is pushing for senior officials who made the decisions around Porter’s security clearance to speak to the press directly.
  92. On Wednesday, NBC News reported more than 130 appointees working in Trump’s Executive Office did not have permanent security clearances as of November 2017, including Ivanka, Kushner, Dan Scavino, and McGahn.
  93. On Trump’s National Security Council, 10 of 24 officials had only interim security clearances as of November, including Dina Powell (who has resigned), Fiona Hill, Kevin Harrington, John Rader, and Joshua Steinman.
  94. On Wednesday, National Economic Council official George David Banks who served since February 2017 became the third White House official to resign after being told he would not receive permanent security clearance.
  95. NBC News reported that in addition to the basic questionnaire to gain security clearance, some members of the Trump regime were required to answer supplemental questions asking if they are vulnerable to blackmail.
  96. On Friday, WAPO reported, amid fallout from the Porter scandal, Kelly announced an overhaul of the White House security clearance processwhich places the onus on the FBI and DOJ to hand-deliver updates and information.
  97. The five-page document begins, “We should — and in the future, must — do better,” is addressed to McGahn and McMaster, with Sessions and Wray copied, and gives 48 hours to report derogatory information to the White House.
  98. Also Friday, Kelly announced starting next week, the White House will no longer allow some employees with interim security clearances access to top-secret information, which could impact Kushner in his role as senior adviser.
  99. Kushner may not be able to maintain his extensive portfolio, which necessitate classified briefings. Kushner has also attended meetings where classified info was discussed, and had access to the President’s Daily Brief.
  100. Bloomberg reported the IRS and DOJ have issued subpoenas for documents from lenders and investors in real estate projects managed by Kushner’s family in New York and New Jersey within the past year.
  101. Talking Points Memo reported that Kushner quietly filed an addendum to his personal financial disclosure on January 3, 2018, adding a number of additional business interests which were previously undisclosed.
  102. According to a recent update by Ivanka, Kushner has taken out millions more in loans, signaling liquidity issues. The couple is battling a lawsuit accusing them of illegally omitting information on 32 other companies.
  103. TPM asked Kushner’s lawyer about public documents of other undisclosed business interests. The lawyer said Kushner “has provided complete information” on his financial disclosure, but there may be further updates.
  104. On Friday, Reed Cordish, a senior Trump adviser on government-to-government and technology initiatives, and close friend of Kushner and Ivanka, resigned.
  105. On Tuesday, Michael Cohen told the NYT he paid $130,000 of hush money to Stephanie Clifford out of his own pocket, saying neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction.
  106. On Wednesday, NYT reported Cohen’s payment has raised potential legal questions ranging from breach of contract to ethics violations. Cohen has also been vague on whether he was reimbursed for his payment.
  107. On Thursday, tax documents released by Trump’s Inaugural Committee show the committee spent nearly all of the $107 million it raised. The majority of the funds, $57 million, went to four event-planning companies.
  108. The largest payment of $25.8 million went to WIS Media Partners, an event-production company formed 45 days before the inauguration, led by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a friend and now unpaid adviser to Melania.
  109. On Friday, Ronan Farrow reported on Trump’s nine month affair with Playboy model Karen McDougal starting in 2006, which she memorialized in an eight-page handwritten document provided to The New Yorker.
  110. McDougal was paid $150,000 by American Media, Inc. (AMI), publisher of the National Enquirer, on November 4, 2016 for exclusive rights to her story. David Pecker who owns AMI is a friend of Trump, and never ran her story.
  111. Six former employees of AMI said Pecker routinely made arrangements with women called “catch-and-kill” — paying for stories that would never run. One employee said Pecker used the unpublished stories as leverage.
  112. On Friday, First Lady Melania Trump broke with the tradition of walking as a couple across the South Lawn to Marine One amid the new allegations of Trump’s marital affairs.
  113. On Wednesday, 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. This marks the third mass shooting in the last five months: at a school, church, and concert, done with a AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
  114. On Thursday, Trump tweeted blaming the shooting on mental illness and later called for mental health action. In February 2017, Trump signed a GOP bill revoking Obama-era gun checks for people with mental illness.
  115. Trump’s budget proposed a $25 million reduction in funds designated for national school safety activities, and the elimination of a $400 million grant program used to prevent bullying and for mental health assistance.
  116. Wired reported that in the aftermath of the shooting, pro-gun Russian bots flooded Twitter. The top hashtags the bots were active in within 24 hours of the shooting included #Parkland, #guncontrol, and #guncontrolnow.
  117. On Thursday, Politico reported the White House is feeling rudderless as this week Trump hung back behind staff rather than take decisive action in the face of the Porter scandal and then the Parkland school shooting.
  118. On Friday, Mueller’s office unveiled criminal indictments against 13 Russian nationals and three foreign entities, which revealed a sophisticated network of interference in the 2016 presidential election.
  119. The 37-page indictment includes conspiracy to defraud the US and aggravated identity theft, and reveals how the campaign also relied on extensive intelligence work by Russian operatives on US soil.
  120. Two operatives, Aleksandra Krylova and Anna Bogacheva, traveled as tourists through at least nine states in June 2014 to gather intelligenceused to evaluate political targets on social media before the campaigns got into full swing.
  121. Russians stole the identities of American citizens and posed as political activists. They also set up US bank accounts and used computer servers located in the US.
  122. Charges say the operation was primarily meant to communicate derogatory information about Clinton, to denigrate Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and Trump. There was also a push to back Jill Stein.
  123. Political ads sought to chip away Black Americans’ support for Hillary and to lower Muslim American turnout. Operatives also pushed social media hashtags like #Hillary4Prison and #TrumpTrain.
  124. One of the three entities indicted was Internet Research Agency, whose operations targeted US social media and which employed hundreds of people, and at one point had a monthly budget of over $1.25 million.
  125. Starting in June 2016 when Trump had clinched the GOP nomination, the operatives began to organize and coordinate pro-Trump political rallies. In August, the operatives focused on Florida which Trump narrowly won.
  126. NYT reported the Federal Election Commission had also launched its own investigation into Internet Research Agency last year, on whether it may have violated the FEC Act of 1971 with the purchase of Facebook ads.
  127. In September 2017, as social media companies started disclosing Russia’s presence, one defendant, Viktorovna Kaverzina, emailed her family: “We had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity (not a joke).
  128. Mueller’s team also unsealed an indictment against 28-year-old Richard Pinedo, a California computer science major whose company opened bank accounts and sold them to shadowy purchasers for cash.
  129. Pinedo pleaded guilty to identity fraud, and has been cooperating with Mueller’s team. He also wrote a plea supporting the indictment of Russian nationals. His lawyer said Pinedo sold accounts to Russians unwittingly.
  130. After the indictments were released, Rosenstein held a press conference. Of note, he stood alone without Mueller or anyone from Mueller’s team. He said the defendants conducted information warfare against the US.
  131. Rosenstein said he and Wray had briefed Trump on the indictments Friday morning. Experts noted the time frame between informing Trump and the public was unusually short.
  132. Rosenstein noted the defendants “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign,” and added, “there’s no allegation in this indictment” (emphasis added) of knowing collusion.
  133. The DOJ said Mueller’s work is not complete. The charges did not address the hacking of Democratic email systems or whether Trump tried to obstruct the FBI investigation into Russian interference.
  134. None of the defendants were arrested, and it is highly unlikely Russia will extradite its citizens to the US. Experts speculated the level of detail given this may indicate Mueller is perhaps deterring Russia from further action, and it may also elicit relevant documents from businesses and banks.
  135. On Friday, the White House issued a statement saying the indictments show “there was NO COLLUSION between the Trump campaign and Russia and that the outcome of the election was not changed or affected.”
  136. On Friday, Trump suggested he was vindicated, tweeting Russia started their operation in 2014, “long before I announced that I would run,”adding “the Trump campaign did nothing wrong — no collusion!
  137. Trump made no mention of a foreign power disrupting our election or acknowledging it occurred, nor did he announce any steps to address it.He was conspicuously silent on all these points again on Saturday.
  138. On Saturday, at the 2018 Munich Security Conference, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov called the indictments “just blabber.” Lavrov also noted that Vice President Pence had raised questions about the investigation.
  139. Shortly after Lavrov spoke, McMaster told the audience that evidence of Russia interference in the 2016 presidential election is “now really incontrovertible.
  140. Former US ambassador Kislyak told the audience the indictments were “some kind of hunting spree throughout the world on Russian computer wizards,” adding they have “spoiled the trust” between the two countries.
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East Village, NYC ~ Feb2018
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Spineless, Corrupt, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan by Jim Carrey
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Artist unknown ~ NYC ~ Feb2018
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“Trump = Enemy of the People” sticker on 6th (Avenue of the Americas) in New York City. Feb2018