POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 28: TANGERINE TYRANT

Week 27: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

May 20, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-27-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-cd6be88c85b7

This week’s list has over 100 items, and matches the feel of complete chaos: bombshell after bombshell about Trump’s ties to, and efforts to undermine the investigation into Russia.

Although the biggest headline of the week was the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Trump-Russia, of equal importance was the diurnal harbingers of our fading democracy. Trump’s WH invitation to yet another brutal authoritarian: Ergodan of Turkey, and the ensuing melee outside the Turkish embassy in DC, is a wake-up call for us all.

  1. WSJ reported that three former employees of the Trump organization saw him tape phone calls from Trump Tower. Trump still has not revealed if his alleged taped conversations with Comey really exist.
  2. The Economist interviewed Trump about his economic policy, and described his strategy to be “unimaginative and incoherent.” The interview revealed alarming lack of knowledge of basic concepts.
  3. Gen Michael Hayden said on CNN he’s usually not in favor of special prosecutors, but after Trump fired Comey, “I’ve changed my mind.
  4. Richard Spencer and his torch-carrying white supremacist followers marched in Charlottesville, VA to protest the removal of a Confederate monument, chanting, “You will not replace us.”
  5. Merkel’s party seized a key state from rivals in the last election, putting her in a strong position for Germany’s general election in September. This would mark the fourth setback for Putin since Trump.
  6. An NBC poll found that just 29% approve of Trump firing Comey, and 78% want an outside special prosecutor.
  7. Trump spent Mother’s Day on the golf course, and did not see Melania or Barron.
  8. The Trump regime issued a statement on N. Korea’s missile test, which oddly started out with a Russian perspective.
  9. NY Magazine reported that candidates for FBI director were being screened for their loyalty to Trump.
  10. WAPO reported on the ways Trump has leveraged his presence at Mar-a-Lago to enhance his club’s event business and enrich himself.
  11. Axios reported Sunday that Trump is considering a sweeping shake-up in his regime. One confidant said, “He’s frustrated, and angry at everyone.”
  12. The Trump regime has hidden massive amounts of data on issues such as workplace violations, energy efficiency, and animal welfare abuses — lessening the “naming and shaming” effect on corporate behavior.
  13. Clapper said US institutions are under assault — both externally with Russian interference in our election system, and internally from Trump.
  14. WNYC reported NJ Republican Rep Frelinghuysen wrote a letter to a constituent’s employer complaining about her progressive activism: “P.S. One of the ringleaders works in your bank!”
  15. Page wrote a bizarre letter to Rosenstein, complaining about Obama and Clinton, and citing Maroon 5 lyrics in the footnotes.
  16. A WAPO reporter noted “This Is Not Normal,” when the paper accidentally published Mathis’s personal cell phone number, which was on a yellow sticky note in a photo of Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller.
  17. Russian aluminum oligarch Deripaska is suing AP for libel in connection with their reporting on his ties to Manafort.
  18. Mother Jones reported that 50 farmworkers outside of Bakersfield, CA were poisoned by a pesticide just green-lighted by Trump’s EPA.
  19. Trump met with UAE crown prince Sheikh Mohammed at the WH Monday. In Week 21 it was noted that this crown prince brokered a meeting between Prince and a Putin ally in Seychelles, shortly after a clandestine US meeting with Kushner, Bannon and Flynn.
  20. On Monday, WAPO reported that Trump revealed highly classified information on ISIS to Lavrov and Kislyak at the WH meeting. As mentioned in Week 26, US media was excluded.
  21. WAPO also noted that they withheld the most significant details from the story at the urging of WH officials who warned “revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities.”
  22. Buzzfeed confirmed WAPO’s story, adding an official who was briefed on Trump’s leak said, “it’s far worse than what has already been reported.
  23. Reuters and NYT also confirmed the story, with NYT adding the leaked information came from an ally. The WH continued to deny the WAPO story Monday night.
  24. Trump took to Twitter Tuesday morning saying he leaked to Russia for “humanitarian reasons” and which he has “the absolute right to do.” Trump also ironically tweeted a complaint about “the LEAKERS.”
  25. Fmr US ambassador to Russia McFaul said Trump does not “have the right to leak classified information obtained from other countries, without their permission.”
  26. A European official told AP that their country “might stop sharing intel with US if Trump gave classified info to Russian diplomats.
  27. At a press conference Tuesday, McMaster claimed that Trump decided to leak highly classified info to the Russians on the spur of moment, and wasn’t aware where the information came from.
  28. NYT reported that Israel was the source of the intelligence given to Russia. The leak raises concerns that the information could be passed to Iran, “Russia’s close ally and Israel’s main threat in the region.”
  29. Buzzfeed reported an Israeli intelligence official said knowing Trump leaked to Russia without that country’s prior knowledge was Israel’s “worst fears confirmed.”
  30. ABC reported Trump’s leak endangered an Israeli spy placed inside ISIS.
  31. WSJ reported that the Israeli source Trump leaked was considered so sensitive, it wasn’t shared with Five Eyes, our closest allies.
  32. For the first time, more Americans support Trump’s impeachment (48%) than oppose it (41%) according to PPP. Their polling was conducted before the Russia leak.
  33. Trump hosted Turkey’s Ergodan at the WH, another in a string of brutal authoritarians invited to the WH despite human rights abuses at home.
  34. After the meeting, a video captured Ergodan’s bodyguards viciously attacking protestors outside the Turkish embassy in DC. Later, a video surfaced of Ergodan watching as his guards beat protestors.
  35. DC police chief Newsham said diplomatic immunity could limit what the city can do to hold Erogodan’s bodyguards accountable.
  36. Republicans and Democrats spoke out against the attack, with McCain calling for Turkey’s ambassador to be expelled.
  37. Ceren Borazan tweeted a photo (see below) and wrote: “Dear @POTUSI’m being attackd in this photo. I was assaulted by this man, strangled for protesting. Please help me find & prosecute this man.” The tweet was retweeted over 55k times. Trump has not responded to the assaults.
  38. Following outcry, the State Dept summoned the Turkish ambassador; but two bodyguards who were detained, we released and allowed to leave without redress.
  39. The @VP account tweeted then deleted a photo of Trump and Ergodan’s sons in law — both in government positions of power — seated across from one another at lunch.
  40. NYT reported that Comey had been writing memos on his interactions with Trump, including a February 14 meeting at which Trump asked Comey to end the FBI investigation of Flynn.
  41. NYT also reported that the meeting took place in the Oval Office, and before it started, Trump asked Sessions and Pence to leave the room.
  42. According to a Comey associate, Trump also told Comey he should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information.
  43. WAPO reported Comey had shared his notes with a small circle in the FBI and DOJ — raising questions of whether Sessions and Rosenstein were aware before they wrote the memo to back Trump’s firing of Comey.
  44. That evening, and the following morning, TV networks — including Fox News — complained that elected Republicans were refusing to go on-air.
  45. The Russian Foreign Minister advised Americans not to believe the WAPOstory on Trump leaking to Russia. A spokesperson wrote on Facebook about American newspaper: “You shouldn’t read them.”
  46. Wednesday morning, Putin offered to hand over records of Trump and Lavrov’s conversation to the US House and Senate.
  47. NBC reported Feds have subpoenaed Manafort for a $3.5mm mortgage taken out on his Hampton home just after leaving the Trump campaign. Mortgage documents were never filed, and taxes never paid on the loan.
  48. Eleven Democratic Senators called for an investigation of Sessions’s involvement with the Comey firing, after his stated recusal from the Trump-Russia investigation.
  49. In another sign of US decline under Trump, France’s PM, economic minister and national security adviser are all experts on Germany.
  50. 27-year-old Jean Jimenez-Joseph became the seventh person this year to die while under ICE custody. Jimenez-Joseph committed suicide, but ICE said he ‘passed away’ while at a detention center.
  51. ICE data revealed 41,000 arrests in Trump’s first 100 days, a 38% increase over the same period in 2016.
  52. As crises loom this week, a new NBC/WSJ poll found that only a quarter of Americans find Trump to be honest.
  53. WSJ reported Russian state-run bank VEB indirectly provided hundreds of millions in financing to Ukrainian steel mill owned by Alexander Shnaider, who then funded construction of a Trump project in Toronto.
  54. Delivering a commencement speech at the Coast Guard Academy, Trump said, “No politician in history… has been treated worse or more unfairly.
  55. On Wednesday, Rosenstein appointed a special counsel, Robert Mueller, to oversee the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump regime.
  56. Rosenstein was set to appear before the full Senate on Thursday and House on Friday.
  57. The WH was blinded by the special counsel news: given only 30 minutes advanced notice.
  58. WH PR strategy was in chaos, with Conway cancelling a scheduled appearance on Tucker Carlson’s show an hour before airtime. No members of Trump’s inner circle appeared on TV Wednesday.
  59. WAPO reported a month before Trump clinched the GOP nomination, in a private conversation with fellow GOP leaders, House Majority Leader McCarthy said Trump could be getting money from Putin, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”
  60. Some GOP leaders laughed, and McCarthy continued, “Swear to God.” Speaker Ryan swore the attendees to secrecy.
  61. When called for comment, spokespeople for Ryan and McCarthy denied the WAPO story — until the Post told them they had audio.
  62. Pence registered a PAC on Wednesday, typically a signal of seeking higher office. Neither Biden or Cheney had active PACs while in office.
  63. NYT reported that Flynn officially disclosed to the Trump transition team on January 4 that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbying for Turkey.
  64. Pence headed Trump’s transition team, but he continued to deny he knew about Flynn’s lobbying. Pence was also notified about Flynn by Rep Cummings in a letter dated November 18.
  65. NYT reported the Trump regime was aware of Flynn’s business dealings in early November, even before his infamous pro-Turkey op-ed on Nov 8.
  66. NYT also reported acting FBI director McCabe confirmed to Congress a “highly significant” investigation into possible collusion between the Trump regime and Russia to sway the 2016 election.
  67. FBI prosecutor Brandon Van Grack is leading a grand jury inquiry in VA looking into Flynn’s foreign lobbying, and has started issuing subpoenas.
  68. NBC reported that both Manafort and Flynn are considered “subjects” of a criminal investigation.
  69. Also per NBC: the FBI, with help from the Treasury Dept, CIA and other agencies, is examining contacts, money transfers and business relationships between the Trump regime and Russia.
  70. McClatchy reported that one of the Trump regime’s first foreign policy decisions, involving the fight against ISIS, was made by Flynn in coordination with outgoing NSA Susan Rice. Flynn went against Obama administration advice, and put Turkey’s interests ahead of US interests.
  71. Reuters reported that the Trump regime had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russian officials in the 7 months leading up to the election.
  72. Six of the undisclosed contacts involved Kislyak with Flynn and three other Trump regime members. The other 12 involved Russian officials or people close to Putin and Trump campaign advisers.
  73. Reuters also reported that after the election, Flynn and Kislyak had conversations about setting up a back-channel communication between Trump and Putin that could bypass the US national security bureaucracy.
  74. Yahoo reported that Trump was in touch with Flynn as recently as April 25th, telling him to “stay strong.”
  75. On Thursday, Flynn’s lawyer said his client will not honor the Senate Intel Comm’s subpoena.
  76. WH advisers and personal associates are urging Trump to hire an experienced outside attorney to deal with the Trump-Russia probe.
  77. TIME reported Russia tried to hack the Defense Dept’s Twitter accountsby sending 10,000+ tailored messages in an effort to get them to click, which would have enabled hackers to control the account.
  78. Thursday, Chaffetz, the chair of the House Oversight Committee, resigned from Congress without explanation.
  79. Newsweek reported that Trump staffers are starting to look for new jobs, and are worried about the taint of having worked for the Trump regime.
  80. Thursday, Rosenstein briefed the Senate. McCaskill and other senators said shared that Rosenstein knew Comey was going to be fired before he wrote his memo.
  81. Thursday, Trump tweeted the Special Counsel/Russian is the “single greatest witch hunt of a politician,” and continued to cite Rosenstein’s memo as justification for his firing of Comey.
  82. Trump denied collusion between his campaign and Russia in the 2016 election, but said “I can only speak for myself.
  83. On Friday, Rosenstein released his opening remarks to the House and Senate which include on Comey firing, “My memorandum is not a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination.”
  84. After Rosenstein briefed the House, Cummings told the media, “This is about the fight for the soul of our democracy. We cannot afford to lose this one.”
  85. NYT reported Trump called Comey weeks after taking office, and asked when he was planning to publicly state that Trump was not under investigation. Comey tried to explain proper chains of communication.
  86. According to a friend, Comey was troubled by many of his encounters with Trump, including a Jan 22 ceremony in the WH blue room, where Comey tried to blend in the blue curtains to avoid Trump’s attention.
  87. WAPO also reported on Comey’s apprehension around meetings with Trump, citing his extensive preparations with staff, and writing out notes in his car directly after meetings.
  88. NYT also reported Priebus asked Comey to push back on media reports in mid February that the Trump regime had been in contact with Russia during the election.
  89. Kushner, while in a WH room with a high-level delegation of Saudis, called the chief executive of Lockheed Martin, and asked if she would cut the price on a $100bn+ weapons deal with Saudi Arabia.
  90. CNN reported that despite his recusal, Nunes continues to review intelligence relating to Russia, including as part of the Gang of Eight. Nunes had recused himself over his close ties to the Trump regime.
  91. Pence’s team continued to spin stories and distance him from Trump, indicating Pence was kept in the dark on Flynn and Russia, and that he’s a “loyal soldier” but the news cycle is wearing on him.
  92. In Trump’s first 119 days, he has made 586 false and misleading claims.
  93. As Trump floated Joe Lieberman as his top pick for FBI director, mysteriously Liberman’s Wikipedia page was edited to remove ‘Donald Trump’ as a notable client of his firm.
  94. As Trump leaves for his first overseas trip, foreign leaders have been instructed to praise him for winning the Electoral College. A report cited: ‘Compliment him on his election win, and compare him favorably to former President Obama.’
  95. On Friday, Rep Carlos Curbelo became the first Republican to call for Trump’s impeachment.
  96. Spicer issued a statement Friday afternoon in response to NYT stories, accusing Comey of “grandstanding” and “politicizing” the Russia probe, and hurting our ability “to engage and negotiate with Russia.”
  97. NYT reported late Friday on a document detailing conversations between Trump and Russian officials in the Oval Office. Trump said “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job.”
  98. Stepping closer to obstruction of justice charges, Trump also allegedly told Russian officials that firing Comey had relieved “great pressure” on him, and that he is not under investigation.
  99. WAPO reported late Friday that law enforcement has identified a current WH official as “a significant person of interest.
  100. Reuters reported that the Trump regime is exploring ways to use obscure ethics rules to undermine the special counsel investigation of Trump-Russia — citing since Kushner and Manafort were clients of Mueller’s former firm, Mueller should be barred from investigating them.
  101. Late Friday, NY Magazine reported the person of interest in the WAPO story is Kushner.
  102. CNN reported that intercepts of Russian communications reveal Russian officials bragged during the presidential campaign that they could use Flynn to influence Trump.
  103. Trump pick for deputy Treasury Secretary, James Donovan, withdrew from consideration on Friday.
  104. A former Trump campaign official who has hired counsel in the Russian probe told a CNN reporter that Trump should help pay for legal costs.
  105. As Trump left for his first foreign trip, one reporter noted, “Almost palpable relief the circus has left town for a few days.” Truly was a different feel from the not normal chaos of recent months.

Following are various art pieces collected in my social media feed throughout the week: 

18557253_1699737440044294_3608585254213462892_npaul heyn portlandStahler Skam. Photo Alex ArtLife. Portland, OR.IMG_312218447456_1735228299826535_826944409094025593_n18485382_10212861314476233_1777321943579916643_n18278523_1869327583316156_2013512660993949515_o

18404156_1529894120416788_6392263938087566999_o
Evil Mike Pence. Portland, Oregon.

18238935_1869325779983003_8202462100577507106_o18279054_1869315193317395_430418503014361910_o18359194_1869306033318311_5609930370227301843_o18558922_10103146919829337_6837397189962762788_o18485757_10212917175032518_886209998376115439_n

Next week: Politiks of Graffiti 29 ! 

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 27: THE DAY DEMOCRACY DIED (VERY NIXONIAN)

Week 26 of donald trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

May 13, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-26-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-61ba023aee54

What stands out in Week 26 is our normalization of a leader who bold-faced lies to us, and the ease with which Trump continues to indulge in this behavior. We’ve entered uncharted territory: Trump fired the FBI director in charge of investigating him and his regime’s ties to Russia, and admitted he did so because of the investigation.

The other take-away of Week 26 is what you missed. We’re in such a state of constant chaos, it’s easy to overlook the ways the Trump regime continues to tear the fabric of our values, to loot every cent they can, and to move us further away from democracy.

  1. Despite Russian involvement, Macron defeated Le Pen handily in France’s presidential election, marking the third European country (Austria, Netherlands) to reject the Trump-like candidate since the US election.
  2. A shocking Guardian article detailed the use of data to influence the outcome of Brexit and the US election. Names tied to the scandal include Trump, Farage, Thiel, Bannon, and Mercer and his Cambridge Analytica.
  3. The article also warned that the Trump regime is already weaponizing US data for future elections, citing the company that helped Trump win has “been awarded contracts in the Pentagon and the US state.”
  4. While in Beijing for a meeting with potential investors for the family’s New Jersey project, Kushner’s sister mentioned Jared and the EB-5 visa program to market the investment. EB-5 visas allow immigrants a path to a green card for investing $500,000 in a project that creates US jobs.
  5. The Kushner family later apologized after being accused of kleptocracy by the media.
  6. A WAPO researcher who attended the meeting tweeted, “I was threatened, harassed and forced to delete recordings and photos of The Kushner family recruiting Chinese investors in US Green cards.
  7. Page said he would no longer cooperate with the Senate Intel Comm’s request, saying he wants information he requested on the “unjustified civil rights violations by the Clinton/Obama regime.”
  8. Eric Trump reportedly told a reporter back in 2014, when asked about funding golf courses, “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.
  9. Eric Trump later denied having said this, but Donald Jr. had similarly said at a real estate conference in 2008: “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.
  10. Trump-connected lobbyists are making millions at major companies and foreign governments by touting their access to the Trump regime.
  11. Goldman Sachs hired a top Trump campaign staffer, David Urban, as a lobbyist.
  12. Eight Senate Democrats asked regulators to investigate whether Trump friend Carl Icahn violated insider trading laws in the biofuel market.
  13. Wilbur Ross doubled down on the Trump regime rhetoric with Canada on tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber, and warned Canada that “threats of retaliatory action” are “inappropriate.
  14. Nikki Haley issued a strong statement on Venezuela, citing Maduro’s ‘disregard for the fundamental rights of his own people.’ As Venezuela’s state-owned oil company donated $500k to Trump inauguration, the rest of the regime has been silent.
  15. The State Depart has yet to resume daily press briefings.
  16. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel revived the deleted EPA climate change webpage, which as cited in Week 24 was mysteriously taken down on a Friday night, and put the information up on Chicago’s website.
  17. Minutes after an ABC reporter asked Spicer why Trump’s campaign website still calls for a Muslim ban, that reference was deleted.
  18. Despite Trump’s promises to keep jobs in the US, Indiana’s Rexnord — in Pence’s home state nearby Carrier which Trump visited to much ballyhoo — is moving jobs to Mexico. Trump tweeted to blame Obama.
  19. On CBS’s “60 Minutes,” residents in Granger, IN lamented their neighbor, who had no criminal record and had been in the US for 20-years, being deported and separated from his wife and children, who are all citizens.
  20. AP reported the Trump regime targeted Haitian immigrants, seeking evidence of crimes as an excuse to deport them.
  21. A bill that passed the Texas house would allow adoption agencies to reject families on the basis of religion or sexual orientation.
  22. Dan Heyman, a Public News Service reporter, was arrested Tuesday night in West Virginia for persistently asking Secretary Price questions.
  23. Price commended the police who arrested the journalist.
  24. EPA dismissed five scientists from a major scientific review board, and replaced them with representatives from industries the EPA regulates.
  25. Later in the week, two EPA science board members resigned in protest.
  26. Trump signed an EO creating a commission on ‘election integrity’ to re-examine Hillary’s 3 million vote win and “fraud.” The commission will be led by Pence and noted xenophobe Kobach of Kansas.
  27. Rep Lewis issued a statement on the commission, saying “It’s only been 54 years since we were jailed, beaten, and killed for trying to cast a vote.”
  28. Reversing progress, Sessions instituted a tougher new criminal charging and sentencing policy — a noted failure from the 1980 and 1990s. Sessions policy will disproportionately impact people of color.
  29. ICE arrested 1,378 suspected “gang members” in what Fox Newscharacterized as the largest gang sweep ever.
  30. Trump tweeted that China ‘just agreed that the U.S. will be allowed to sell beef, and other major products’ into China again. This deal was brokered by Obama last September.
  31. FP reported on Bannon’s attempts to get NSA McMaster fired, calling it the WH “Games of Thrones for morons.” McMaster remains one of the few Trump senior officials who was not part of the campaign.
  32. When asked about NSC’s duties at a daily press briefing, McMaster said “a lot of what we do at the NSC is trying to keep up with the President.
  33. During the day of the Yates/Clapper hearing, Trump sent a total of 7 tweets at Yates, including one from the @POTUS account.
  34. CNN anchors Dana Bash and John King likened Trump’s tweets ahead of the hearing to “witness intimidation.
  35. Yates testified that she met with WH counsel McGahn twice to warn him that Flynn had lied to Pence about his conversations with the Russian envoy and therefore Pence’s public statements were false.
  36. Yates warned McGahn that Flynn was compromised and could be blackmailed by the Russians. Yates met with McGahn on January 26 and 27, and was fired on Monday, January 30, allegedly for saying she would not defend the Muslim ban.
  37. Despite her warning, Flynn remained as Trump NSA for 18 days, sitting in on important foreign meetings and receiving classified information.
  38. The day after the Yates/Clapper hearing, Sen Graham said based on what he heard, he wants to investigate Trump’s business dealings.
  39. After Trump blamed Obama for Flynn having security clearance, NBC reported Flynn never received the broader security clearance required for an NSA.
  40. Trump briefly changed his Twitter cover Monday night to a statement that Clapper said ‘there is “no evidence” of collusion w/Russia and Trump.’ Trump repeated this lie all week, including in a Friday morning tweet.
  41. On Friday, Clapper told Andrea Mitchell that he didn’t say what Trump claimed.
  42. ProPublica reported that part of Comey’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Comm on Huma Abedin was inaccurate. The FBI issued corrections just hours before Trump fired Comey.
  43. Following Clapper’s testimony on Monday, the Senate Intel Comm asked Treasury Dept agency FinCEN for more information on Trump’s business dealings.
  44. WSJ reported Friday FinCEN will provide info on businesses owned by Trump and family members to the Senate Intel Comm and the FBI. Ranking member Wyden is interested in shell companies and money laundering through property transfers.
  45. Vanity Fair reported that FBI sources said there are multiple inquiries in progress, including the cyber investigation and the business side. Bharara would have been investigating the business side as US AG SDNY.
  46. Late Friday night, the US Attorney SDNY Twitter account tweeted from acting AG Kim, ‘We will not allow the US financial system to be used to launder proceeds of crimes committed anywhere-here or in Russia.’
  47. On Friday, a bi-partisan group of 178 former US AGs and asst US AGs of SDNY wrote a letter to Rosenstein calling for a Special Prosecutor
  48. Law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius provided a letter showing Trump has limited business dealings with Russia. ABC reported Morgan, Lewis has deep ties to Russia and received a “Russia Law Firm of the Year” award in 2016.
  49. Trump’s initial stated basis for firing Comey was a letter from AG Sessions and Deputy AG Rosenstein, relating to Hillary’s emails. Of note, Sessions had agreed to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation.
  50. Comey became the third person, after Yates and Bharara, fired by Trump while investigating him. Mary McCord who was the DOJ assistant AG overseeing the Trump-Russia probe also resigned without explanation.
  51. Shortly after the firing, CNN reported grand jury subpoenas for business records have been issued to Flynn as part of the FBI’s Russia investigation.
  52. The Senate Intel Comm also subpoenaed Flynn after he declined to comply with their April 28th letter unless he was offered immunity
  53. Trump’s popularity hit a new low in a Quinnipiac poll: 36% approve, 58% disapprove. The poll was conducted before the Comey firing.
  54. The morning after firing Comey, Tillerson and then Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.
  55. Lavrov scolded Andrea Mitchell for asking Tillerson a question — “Who was giving you your manners, you know?” Tillerson did not intervene.
  56. Trump’s meeting took place at the WH, and included Lavrov and Kislyak. Photo credited to Russian news agency TASS emerged, showing of a joyous meeting. US media was excluded from both meetings.
  57. The WH readout of the meeting with Lavrov did not mention Kislyak. If not for Russian new agency photos, no one would know he was there.
  58. POLITICO reported the idea to exclude US press came from Putin. As did the insistence for the meeting at the WH.
  59. The Senate Intelligence Committee invited Comey to testify next Tuesday. He declined for now, saying he needed some time off first.
  60. NYT reported that days before the firing, Comey had asked Deputy AG Rosenstein for a significant increase in resources for the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the US election.
  61. General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and NSA, said of Trump’s successive firing of Yates, Bharara and Comey, “…it’s beginning to feel a little bit like Nicaragua around here.
  62. FT said of Comey’s firing, “Putin chalked up another victory,” as Trump’s action resembles that of a non-democracy.
  63. Trump claimed that he followed the recommendation of his Deputy AG Rosenstein that Comey be fired over his handling of Hillary’s emails. By the next day, leaks led to multiple stories which contradicted that claim.
  64. This story would change again and again in the coming days — leaving surrogates having lied to the media. Pence said Trump fired Comey at the “recommendation of the Deputy AG,” seven times during a presser.
  65. WAPO reported that in fact Trump made a decision to fire Comey, and then met with Sessions and Rosenstein to craft a plan for how. Trump was totally unprepared for the media explosion and political backlash.
  66. Trump himself said in a NBC interview Thursday that he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he fired Comey, saying “…Russia is a made up story.”
  67. WAPO also reported that Trump was angry that Comey would not back his false Obama wiretapping claim, and that Comey focused on the Trump-Russia probe and not leaks.
  68. Reuters reported that Trump was infuriated that Comey would not preview his Senate testimony for Trump, Sessions and Rosenstein ahead of the May 3rd hearing.
  69. NYT reported that Trump and Comey’s dislike each another. Comey told associated that Trump was “outside the realm of normal,” even “crazy.
  70. WSJ reported that Comey had started getting daily instead of weekly briefings in the past three weeks due to potential evidence of collusion.
  71. WSJ also reported that on Monday, Comey briefed lawmakers on his request to boost the investigation, and requested additional personnel from Rosenstein.
  72. In an open-letter to Rosenstein, 20 attorney generals called for an independent investigation, saying Trump’s firing of Comey was a violation of the public trust.
  73. Trump abandoned plans to visit the FBI after the Comey firing. According to NBC, Trump was told agents might not provide a warm reception.
  74. McClatchy reported Comey sought to expand his Trump-Russia probe to include Manafort, citing Manafort earned $80–100mm for political and business consulting work done for clients, including a Russian billionaire.
  75. Rachel Maddow reported that despite earlier indications he would do so, Manafort has yet to register as a foreign agent. Also, Sessions would not confirm if he has recused himself from matters involving Manafort.
  76. WSJ reported the Justice Dept requested Manafort’s bank records as part of a probe into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 election.
  77. WSJ also reported that NY AG Schneiderman and Manhattan DA Vance have been examining real-estate transactions by Mr. Manafort.
  78. On Thursday, acting FBI Director McCabe testified at a Sen Intel Comm open, televised hearing. McCabe said he will not update the WH on the Russian investigation.
  79. McCabe contradicted the Trump regime’s assertion that Comey was not well-liked at the FBI, saying “the vast majority of employees enjoyed a deep, positive connection to Director Comey.
  80. Also contradicting WH claims, McCabe called the Trump-Russia investigation “highly significant.
  81. Trump still claimed on Thursday that he had spoken to Comey three times about whether he was under investigation. When Sen Collins asked if that would standard practice, McCabe answered, “It is not.
  82. POLITICO reported Rosenstein arrived at the Senate Intel Comm’s office while the open, televised hearing was taking place. Burr and Warner left the hearing, for what Burr said was a meeting “we can’t push off.
  83. Sarah Flores, DOJ spokesperson lied that the meeting with Burr was previously planned, and is “nothing unusual.”
  84. NYT reported that at a WH dinner shortly after Trump took office, at Trump’s request, Comey declined to pledge his loyalty or discuss the Trump-Russia investigation.
  85. The dinner took place on January 27, the day after Yates initially informed the WH counsel that Flynn was compromised and subject to blackmail.
  86. Rudy Giuliani, who was also photographed at Trump Hotel DC the night of the Comey firing, was given a May 19 deadline by a judge in Detroit to produce his memo for Trump on the Muslim Ban.
  87. In a series of erratic early morning tweets Friday, Trump threatened to cease press daily briefings, and tweeted ‘Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
  88. A source close to Comey said he is “not worried about any tapes.
  89. Presidential historian Michael Beschloss noted in a tweet, “Presidents are supposed to have stopped routinely taping visitors without their knowledge when Nixon’s taping system was revealed in 1973.”
  90. Top House and Senate Democrats demanded that Trump release any tapes of communication between he and Comey.
  91. Chaffetz asked the DOJ Inspector General to look at Comey’s firing. Democrats also asked him to look into whether Sessions has recused himself and whether the FBI investigation into Russia is properly staffed.
  92. Durbin and Feinstein called on Rosenstein to resign if he refuses to appoint a special counsel. Klobuchar said Senators plan next week to further push this demand in close doored meetings.
  93. On the backs of visit by Duterte and the Russian envoy, Trump will host brutal authoritarian Erdogan for a WH visit on May 16.

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Bumper sticker in a car window in Cocoa Beach, FL 11may17                                                 

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 26: FXCK THE PRESIDENT

DCIM100GOPROG0325590.
New York City, NY. March 2017.

Week 25 of donald trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

May 6, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-25-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-c9e266046627

The fabric and values of our country are transforming before our eyes. The Trump regime of billionaires and sycophants – with most Republicans cowering along in lock-step — continue to act and take actions that are greedy and cruel. As we hit Week 25, every subgroup of Americans not white, straight and male has been a target.

The beat of Trump-Russia continues, as does Trump’s mentally imbalanced leadership — for which there is increasing concern. This week the authoritarian themes of silencing dissent, and consolidating power and wealth were also front and center.

  1. Trump delivered a campaign speech in Harrisburg, PA to mark his first 100-days. One pundit called it “the most hate-filled in modern history.
  2. Frustrated by his failures in the first 100-days, Trump took to Twitter and Fox News to demand changes in to “archaic” rules of the House and Senate, so he could consolidate his power.
  3. Trump called for a government shutdown in September to fix what he called a ‘mess.’ Republican leaders rejected this idea.
  4. Trump also blamed constitutional checks and balances for the chaos of his first 100 days, saying “It’s an archaic system … It’s really a bad thing for the country.
  5. Trump said he is open to meeting Kim Jong Un, saying “ I would absolutely be honored to do it.”
  6. Trump ally Erdogan fired 3,900 from the civil service and military as “threats to national security” in his second post-referendum purge. Trump has filled 5% of key roles in the executive branch.
  7. Tillerson sent a survey to employees ahead of a major State Department overhaul involving significant job and budget cuts. Tillerson has yet to name a deputy, or fill the key roles vacated by early resignations.
  8. In a CBS interview, Trump denied that Russia hacked our election, saying it “could’ve been China, could’ve been a lot of different groups.
  9. A massive coordinated hack and online leak of Macron’s emails occurred just 1 1/2 days before the French presidential election. Macron’s campaign blamed Russia for the attack.
  10. The leaks came within an hour of the midnight campaign blackout, during which politicians, media and citizens are legally required to pull back from any public election discussion.
  11. The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency accused Russia of gathering large amounts of political data in cyberattacks ahead of Germany’s September election.
  12. Sparking shock and outrage, Trump invited Philippines President Duterte, an authoritarian known for brutality, to the WH. Trump did not clear the invitation with the State Department.
  13. According to Duterte’s spokesman, Trump praised Duterte saying “you’re doing a great job.
  14. Amid concern with Trump’s embrace of authoritarian rulers, Tillerson said American values, such as human rights, should not be a condition for US foreign policy.
  15. Trump Tower in the Philippines continues to use videos of Trump and Ivanka as a key selling point.
  16. The Moscow Times reported that someone is throwing chemicals at Russian opposition, causing them to go partially blind.
  17. USA Today compiled a list of 38 Russians opposed to Putin who were victims of unsolved murders or suspicious deaths in the past three years. Two such deaths were related to the Steele dossier/Trump-Russia ties.
  18. McCain said he was “looking at other options” after Trump ally Corker backed off from imposing more sanctions on Russia.
  19. In violation of the Hatch Act, Secretary Ross accompanied Trump to Pennsylvania for a campaign event to raise money for Trump’s 2020 campaign, and WH staffer Sandra Sanders tweeted about it.
  20. On Tuesday, without taking questions, Spicer walked out of a room full of reporters, as the Trump regime was forced to accept most of the Democrats’ wish list in order to avoid a government shutdown.
  21. The OGE sent a letter to the WH and executive branch agency heads asking for copies of any waivers for Trump regime members from ethics rules. According to the NYT, at least two such waivers have been granted.
  22. The OGE says it wasn’t consulted about Ivanka’s job, saying she should be considered a federal employee and subject to those rules.
  23. Voice of America, a government-funded news agency, posted a story and tweeted about Ivanka’s new book, raising questions about the Trump regime’s use of government sources to promote private business interests.
  24. A State Department account (@GenderAtState) also likely violated federal rules by retweeting a post promoting Ivanka’s book.
  25. After pushback from his Cabinet, Trump started to dismantle his “shadow Cabinet” — young, inexperienced spies placed at federal agencies.
  26. The IRS is demanding $7 billion in back taxes from the Mercer’s hedge fund. The Mercers’ donations and ties to the Trump regime make it unlikely they will pay.
  27. Congress allocated a whopping $120 million for the Trump Family’s security costs. Costs include business trips to Vancouver and Dubai by Trump’s sons, and ski weekends in Aspen and Whistler for Ivanka.
  28. The WSJ uncovered that Kushner had failed to report $1bn of loans in his financial disclosure. He also omitted his stake Cadre, a tech startup with ties to Goldman Sachs, George Soros and Peter Thiel.
  29. POLITICO reported that at least nine members of Trump’s transition team have registered as lobbyists, despite a five-year lobbying ban.
  30. Wilbur Ross said the Syria strike — which he viewed with Trump and Chinese President Xi at Mar-a-Lago — was “after-dinner entertainment.”
  31. Priebus told ABC that the Trump regime “looked at” changing libel laws to go after the media for articles “that have no basis or fact,” and “writing stories about constant contacts with Russia…”
  32. A Code Pink activist who briefly laughed during Sessions confirmation hearing was convicted in Virginia. Two others will also face charges.
  33. Trump’s new FCC Chairman Pai said the FCC would investigate Colbert for a joke made about Trump and Putin and “take appropriate action.”
  34. AP reported that Republican House Chair Hensarling told dozens of government agencies to exclude communications with his committee from FOIA requests. He was widely criticized.
  35. Citing emails obtained under the FOIA, CBS reported that Trump had direct involvement in hunting the National Park Service official who tweeted photos of Trump and Obama’s inauguration crowds.
  36. Seemingly to counter his unpopularity, Trump has mentioned the election results on 39% of the days since November 8th.
  37. In an article in New Yorker, writer Evan Osnos reported that Trump’s fitness to service is “officially part of the discussion in Congress.
  38. Breaking a tradition of 18 years, a school district in Seattle canceled its international field trip over concerns of Trump’s border enforcement.
  39. Trump did away with a 16-year-old tradition of celebrating Cinco do Mayo at the WH.
  40. Sen Casey blasted Trump and his regime for deporting a mother and her 5-year-old son back to Honduras, where they would face grave danger. Despite Casey’s efforts to intervene, the deportation is moving forward.
  41. According to the ACLU, Texas is about to become the first “show me your papers” state.
  42. The Trump regime fired chief usher Angella Reid, the first woman and second African American to hold the job. The job typically involves a long tenure, so this Friday afternoon firing was viewed with curiosity.
  43. Trump said he may not fund historically black colleges, a 25-year-old program, saying the funding may be unconstitutional.
  44. In a memo, Trump ordered his regime to end Michelle Obama’s girls education program, “Let Girls Learn.”
  45. After campaigning on cracking down on drugs, a line of attack that seemed racially based, Trump proposed cutting funding for the Drug Control Office, the agency charged with cracking down, by 95%.
  46. Rape charges were dropped against an immigrant teen in Maryland. Fox News had devoted days of coverage to the case, using it to validate Trump’s immigration agenda.
  47. Several outlets reported that Gorka would accept a role outside the WHafter being denied security clearance and over his associations with a Hungarian hate group. Gorka said these reports were “very fake news.”
  48. The Daily Beast reported that Trump and Bannon intervened to save Gorka, and for now, he will remain.
  49. On Wednesday, POLITICO reported that Lewandowski’s firm, Avenue Strategies, quietly signed a deal to represent Citgo, a US-based oil company owned by Venezuela, in its proposed sale to Russia’s Rosneft.
  50. Citgo has donated $500k to Trump inauguration. According to The Daily Beast, that money may have come from the Kremlin, at least indirectly.
  51. The owner of the 19.5% stake in Rosneft sold shortly after Carter Page’s July meeting with Putin allies in Russia, is still not known.
  52. A bi-partisans group of Senators called on Trump to block Citgo’s sale to Rosneft, citing concern that with control of Citgo, Russia could use its influence to counter US trade sanctions imposed in 2014.
  53. Amidst reports on Citgo and other questionable dealings, Lewandowski resigned from the Avenue Strategies, the firm he co-founded.
  54. Friday afternoon, Mark Green, Trump’s second pick for Army Secretary, withdrew as a nominee. Senators had expressed alarm at Green’s public homophobic statements, something Trump vetting missed or ignored.
  55. Rachel Maddow cited that Trump has yet to fill 57 of 58 senior level Pentagon positions which require Senate confirmation.
  56. Trump reportedly speaks to Rupert Murdoch almost every day. Some had speculated that Murdoch may be the biggest winner of Trump firing Bharara, as Fox News is under investigation in the Southern District.
  57. As the Senate Intel Committee got back on track, the Committee sent letters to several Trump insiders including Flynn, Manafort, Page and Stone, requesting records of their communication with Russia.
  58. Page said he planned to cooperate, but his records as a private citizen would be ‘minuscule in comparison’ to what the FBI had collected under a FISA warrant. Page was asked to list any Russian official or business executive he met with between June 16, 2015 and Jan. 20, 2017.
  59. WAPO reported that Trump transition staffers warned Flynn about contact with Kislyak. Flynn was warned on both Kislyak’s background and that contact with him would likely be monitored.
  60. WAPO reported Billingslea was among a small group of national security hands in the Trump transition team who were concerned about Flynn and Trump’s pro-Russia stance.
  61. AP reported the Obama administration was concerned about the request for info on Kislyak, and about Flynn’s contact with Russia. They also delayed telling the Trump team about planned sanctions against Russia.
  62. One punishment was to close two Russian compounds. AP reported the Obama administration feared if they told the Trump regime too far in advance, they might give Moscow lead time to clear information out.
  63. NBC further reported that the Obama administration gave the Trump regime only hours notice about closing Russian compounds.
  64. AP reported the Obama administration was also concerned about sharing info with the Trump transition team after classified documents were copied and removed from a secure facility.
  65. Sally Yates will testify Monday before the Senate that she gave a formal warning to Trump’s WH that Flynn was lying three weeks before he was fired. This contradicts the Trump regime’s version of what happened.
  66. Nine weeks have passed since Trump’s tweet accusing Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower. This week Trump said it has “been proven very strongly.
  67. Rand Paul, a supporter of Trump’s false claim, also said he thinks Obama spied on him. Paul tweeted that he has requested info on whether he “was surveilled by Obama admin” or the Intelligence community.
  68. At an open Senate hearing, Comey reiterated that there was no spying on Trump Tower.
  69. On Thursday, Trump and the GOP passed a series of measures, including passage of Trumpcare/AHCA in the House, a watering down of Dodd Frank, and a ‘Religious Liberty’ EO which allows religious institutions to participate in politics, and power to decide on covering birth control.
  70. Beer was rolled in as the votes on Trumpcare were cast in the House, followed by a celebration at the WH — this, as more than 24 million Americans stood to lose healthcare coverage.
  71. After the vote and celebration, it became apparent that many House members never read Trumpcare or considered how it would impact their state/district. As House members returned home for an 11 day vacation, many hid and/or turned off their phones.
  72. Jason Chaffetz, who in Week 24 was noted to have left DC and halted his investigation of Flynn in order to get foot surgery, slithered back to DC to vote for Trumpcare.
  73. After Trumpcare passed the House, the non-partisan Cook Political Reportsaid the vote hurt the re-election prospects of 20 Republicans.
    DCIM100GOPROG0145572.
    New York City, NY. March 2017
    artist Stahler Skam, based in Portland, Oregon.
    Artist: Stahler Skam. Portland, Oregon.

    oddo & subdude
    Artist: Subdude. Photo: Oddo Personnosrep. London, England. May 2017.

Stay tuned for next week’s artistic expressions of political discontent from around the globe…

 

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 25: “MOLOCH!”

Week 24 of Donald Trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

April 29, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-24-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-2ecfe069542f

Today marks day 100 of the Trump regime. Despite the Republicans having control of the House and Senate, Trump has yet to tally a single legislative accomplishment. He was obsessive this week in pushing for Trumpcare 3 ahead of the 100-day mark; but the Resistance, which continues to grow in number and fervor, headed him off.

And all the while, the drumbeat of Russia grows louder. This week, Speaker Ryan acknowledged Russian interference. Trump’s involvement has evolved from a “Trump-Russia probe” to a “Trump-Russia scandal,” and this week, to a “Trump-Russia cover-up.” As this unfolds, concern grows that Trump will seek to distract attention by starting a war. The one constant throughout the weeks is Trump’s attempts to enrich himself and his regime through a growing list of conflicts of interest and corruption.

  1. Speaker Ryan acknowledged that Russia interfered with our election, and said US probes could help our allies prevent similar interference.
  2. As Le Pen advanced to the French presidential election runoff, Putin is using many of the tools successfully employed in the US to target France.
  3. WikiLeaks released more top-secret CIA documents. Our media has by and large stopped covering the WikiLeaks document dumps.
  4. A group of psychiatrists at a conference held at Yale Medical School cited a “Duty to Warn” about Trump being dangerously ill.
  5. Of the ten items listed on Trump’s contract with the American people for the first 100 days of his administration, he accomplished none of them.
  6. The State Department and two US embassies promoted Mar-a-Lago on their website with a 400-word blog post. After public outrage, the post was removed.
  7. NYT reported the State Department is likely to remain largely unstaffed into 2018. Trump has yet to fill 200 leadership jobs which require Senate confirmation. Tillerson is taking no action either.
  8. Similarly, as the Trump regime launched its tax plan, the Treasury Department does not have a single confirmed appointee in positions tasked with reforming the tax code.
  9. Trump’s tax reform plan was launched with Mnuchin handing out a one-pager with broad details and no numbers.
  10. Democrats, including former Obama ethics chief Norm Eisen noted Trump’s tax reform could save him hundreds of millions of dollars. Without tax returns, it’s impossible to know his total benefit.
  11. Beyond State, the slow pace of nominations in the first 100 days has left cabinet agencies in limbo. Only 26 of the 556 senior positions which require Senate confirmation have been filled.
  12. Haley was the only member of the Trump regime to condemn the abuse and killings of gay men in the Russian republic of Chechnya. Days later, the State Department said they want to clear her remarks in advance.
  13. UN diplomats were invited to the WH, but Tillerson was not included. Haley was there, and Trump publicly threatened to fire her, “Does everybody like Nikki? Good, otherwise she could easily be replaced.”
  14. In his first 100 days, Trump has an unprecedented number (15) of appointees who got fired, withdrew or quit.
  15. Carl Bernstein said there is a “serious belief” in the FBI and Congress that there is an active cover-up underway by the Trump regime of their involvement with Russia.
  16. On Monday, Yahoo reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe had stalled due to lack of staffing and Sen Burr’s unwillingness to sign off on witness requests.
  17. Democrats in the Senate Intelligence Committee hired April Doss, the former head of intelligence law at the NSA. Burr refused to bring on additional staffing, saying staffing levels were already sufficient.
  18. Trump picked ally Dana Boente to take over the Justice Department unit’s probe of Trump-Russia. Boente was last named by Trump as an interim acting-AG on the Monday Night Massacre (firing of Yates).
  19. On Tuesday, POLITICO reported that Flynn’s lobbying work for Turkey came to him via Dmitri Zairian, a Russian with ties to the Putin regime.
  20. The WH denied a request by House Oversight Committee leaders Chaffetz and Cummings to release documents related to Flynn.
  21. Shortly thereafter, Chaffetz and Cummings addressed the press, saying Flynn may have broken the law by not disclosing payments from Russia.
  22. The next day, Chaffetz posted an explanation on Facebook of why he was leaving office, citing a foot injury. His explanation was met with much skepticism.
  23. Friday, Cummings said the WH is “covering up” for Flynn. Sen Blumenthal said there is “powerful, mounting, incontrovertible evidence” of a violation of criminal law.
  24. The Pentagon’s internal watch dog group opened an investigation into whether Flynn took payments from foreign governments after leaving the military.
  25. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee released documents showing the Pentagon warned Flynn not to take foreign payments without advance approval from the military. Flynn did not seek approval.
  26. Spicer blamed Obama for Flynn having security clearance, neglecting the fact that Obama fired Flynn, and Trump appointed him to NSA.
  27. NBC reported the Trump team did do a background check on Flynn as part of him becoming NSA. Despite their public denials, senior transition team members like Pence and Sessions would have seen the information.
  28. Michael Cohen said he may sue Buzzfeed for publishing the Steele dossier, which includes allegations that Cohen traveled to Prague in August to meet with Russians.
  29. The Guardian reported that Steele had also alerted the UK government with two memos about collusion between Trump and Russia. His contact in the US appears to have been with McCain, not Comey.
  30. Steele’s memo also reported that four members of the Trump regimetravelled to Prague for secret discussion with the Kremlin in August/September 2016 on how to pay hackers for penetrating the Democratic party computer systems.
  31. Peter Severa, a Russian hacker whose wife said he was “linked to Trump’s win” in Week 22, was indicted in Bridgeport, CT on eight counts related to the Kelihos botnet malware.
  32. Rep Ciciline, a ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, requested the Inspector General open an investigation into the firings of Yates and Bharara. Yates will testify on May 8th in a Senate hearing.
  33. Trump made 16 false claims in a bizarre interview with AP. He also made at least 15 comments which AP classified as “unintelligible.”
  34. Also in the AP interview, Trump bragged about getting highest ratings since 9/11 coverage.
  35. Trump said he planned to keep on his controversial press secretary, Spicer, because “the guy gets great ratings.
  36. After a second EO was blocked, Trump said he would “absolutely” consider proposals to break-up the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. This threat was compared to the type of action of a dictator might take.
  37. The Trump regime set up a VOICE (Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement) hotline for callers to report on immigrants. The hotline was flooded with calls with reports of space aliens.
  38. A federal judge in San Francisco temporarily blocked the Trump regime efforts to withhold money from sanctuary cities.
  39. WAPO reported on ICE data which shows half of the immigrants arrested had no criminal convictions or had committed traffic offenses.
  40. Supreme Court Justice Roberts spoke out against Trump’s immigration plan, describing the regime’s interpretation as “prosecutorial abuse” for making it easy to strip citizenship for even lying about minor infractions.
  41. Trump’s Muslim Ban suffered another setback as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied his request for an 11-member court review.
  42. A report by the ADL revealed that anti-Semitic incidents in the US rose by 86% in the first three months of 2017, over the same period last year.
  43. Trump proposed budget would strip all funding from a State Department bureau that promotes the rights of women around the world.
  44. A Trump supporter stormed a cafeteria at a Kentucky university and asked about political affiliation, before stabbing two women.
  45. Trump’s USDA rolled back Michelle Obama’s school nutrition standards.
  46. Mnuchin said Trump will not release his tax returns, adding Trump “has given more financial disclosure than anybody else.
  47. NYT reported that Kushner recently financed real-estate transactions in NYC through the Steinmetz family, who are under investigation for bribing a government official in Guinea to secure mining rights.
  48. The investigator who found Florida AG Bondi did nothing wrong by accepting $25k of campaign cash and then dropping the investigation of Trump U, ignored key evidence already unearthed.
  49. POLITICO reported that Lewandowki’s DC firm is offering foreign clients in-person meetings with Trump, Pence and other senior regime members.
  50. HuffPost’s Christina Wilkie compiled a public spreadsheet to identify $107mm of donations to Trump inauguration. Discrepancies have been found, and the regime has yet to explain where unspent monies went.
  51. Ivanka was booed for defending her father at a conference for female business leaders in Berlin.
  52. WAPO reported that workers endured long hours and low pay working at factories used by Ivanka’s company in China.
  53. Facebook revealed fake accounts were used on its platform to sway the US election. Facebook also indicated its findings do “not contradict” the January 6 report issued by the US Director of National Intelligence.
  54. Commerce Secretary Ross said the Trump regime would impose a 20% tariff on Canadian softwood lumber.
  55. On Wednesday morning, Trump said he was considering withdrawing from NAFTA. By the evening, amidst confusion and without a reasonable explanation, he changed course and said the US would remain.
  56. Trump ceremoniously summoned the entire US Senate onto a bus to the WH for a closed-door meeting on N Korea. To the Senators’ frustration, nothing was offered beyond public information. Stagecraft.
  57. Trump gave another disturbing 100-day interview to Reuters, for which the first headline to break was “there is a chance of a ‘major, major conflict with North Korea.”’
  58. Trump also bemoaned to Reuters about missing his past life, and added, “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.
  59. Trump brought a printed map handout to his Reuters interview to showcase his electoral win.
  60. Trump also asked WAPO in his 100-day interview to put his electoral college handout on their front page.
  61. The US economy grew at just 0.7% in the first quarter, the weakest showing in three years. Expectedly, Trump did not comment or tweet.
  62. The Resistance claimed another victory as Trumpcare 3 failed to muster support in the House, despite the GOP’s 47 seat advantage.
  63. Fallout from the O’Reilly ouster continued, as CNN reported FoxNews is now under federal investigation by USPIS and the Justice Department for settlement payments and the overall environment at the network.
  64. A new CNN/OCR poll found that 2/3 of Americans do not believe Trump is honest and trustworthy.
  65. Koi, the restaurant in Trump Soho, became the latest Trump business to suffer a decline in business and close. Unlike Trump Hotel DC, Koi didn’t have the benefit of foreign diplomats patronizing it to win favor.
  66. The Trump regime announced Friday that the EPA website would be undergoing changes, and then removed climate science from public view.
  67. The White House Correspondents’ Dinner will go on without Trump tonight. He will instead hold a campaign rally in Pennsylvania.

All photos taken by me as I walked the streets of NYC & Philadelphia in March & April 2017:

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Moloch
[moh-lok, moluh k]
noun
1.a deity whose worship was marked by the propitiatory sacrifice ofchildren by their own parents. II Kings 23:10; Jer. 32:35.
2.anything conceived of as requiring appalling sacrifice:the Moloch of war.
3.(lowercase) a spiny agamid lizard, Moloch horridus, of Australiandeserts, that resembles the horned lizard.
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DCIM100GOPROG0125570.DCIM100GOPROG0115569.DCIM100GOPROG0315589.IMG_1790DCIM100GOPROG0165574.IMG_1685IMG_1357

Please come back next week for “Politiks of Graffiti 26!” 

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 23: BANG BANG !

Week 22 of Donald Trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

April 15, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-22-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-fdf7960cacd6

Week 22 has, by far, the most items related to Trump-Russia ties. This week, the word “probe” progressed to “scandal,” signaling an acceptance that some sort of collusion occurred. Trump continues his attempts to divert attention from this story by bombing and provocation without a strategy or plan. Two days of bombing have earned him his first two days of positive press. Meanwhile, as we approach the 100-day mark, Trump has accomplished little and his regime is in disarray.

  1. Six weeks have passed since Trump’s tweet accusing Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower. He has yet to offer any evidence or apologize.
  2. Trump continues to claim, without evidence, that Susan Rice committed a crime by spying on the Trump campaign.
  3. The Trump regime has articulated five different policies for Syria in the last two weeks. As the week closed, he still hadn’t settled on one.
  4. Reuters reported that the Assad regime was warned by Russia (after Russia was warned by Trump) of the impending US strike, and was able to mostly evacuate the target.
  5. Tillerson attended a G7 meeting, where he was a dissenting voice on imposing more sanctions on Russia. Tillerson said of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, “Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?
  6. Tillerson ditched his press pool while meeting with Putin. Tillerson claimed he and Putin found very little to agree on.
  7. As news about the Trump-Russia collusion in our election seeped out this week, Trump and Putin sought to display a deteriorating US-Russia relationship, with Trump saying relations were “at an all-time low.
  8. The next day, Trump tweeted an odd, unprompted reassurance, “Things will work out fine between the U.S.A. and Russia. At the right time everyone will come to their senses & there will be lasting peace!”
  9. Buzzfeed reported Pyotr Levashov (Peter Severa), a Russian hacker, was detained in Spain for ties to a computer virus linked to the US election. His wife said he was arrested for being “linked to Trump’s win.”
  10. WAPO reported that the FBI had obtained a FISA warrant to monitor Carter Page in connection with an investigation of the Trump campaign’s connection to the Russia’s effort to swing the election in Trump’s favor.
  11. WAPO also reported that the first 90-day FISA warrant was issued in July 2016, and has since been renewed by the FISA court more than once.
  12. In an ABC interview, Page said he couldn’t guarantee he did not discuss easing of sanctions with Russian contacts at a meeting in July in the Russian capital, “We’ll see what comes out in this FISA transcript.”
  13. According to the Steele dossier, also discussed at that July meeting was the sale of a 19.5% stake in Rosneft, Russia’s state oil company — allegedly in exchange for lifting of sanctions.
  14. CNN reported that classified documents reviewed by Democrats and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee contradict Nunes’s and Trump’s claims that Susan Rice did anything unusual or illegal.
  15. Financial records obtained by AP confirmed at least 2 payments totaling $1.2mm paid by a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine on the so-called Black Ledger to Manafort’s consulting firm in the US.
  16. After consulting with federal authorities, Manafort said he would register as a foreign agent for his past work on behalf of pro-Russia interests in the Ukraine.
  17. Manafort became the second in Trump’s inner-circle to retrospectively register as a foreign agent, Flynn being the first for his work with Turkey.
  18. A DC lobbying firm which was that was directed by Manafort and Gates also retroactively registered as a foreign agent for work to promote a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party’s interests in Washington.
  19. The day after Manafort stepped down from the Trump campaign, he set up a shell company which secured $20mm in loans, including $3.5mm from Spruce Capital, which has connections to a post-Soviet fertilizer oligarch, Alexander Rovt, who also has ties to Trump.
  20. Buzzfeed reported on a bizarre story involving Trump attorney Michael Cohen taking a $350k check from a Russian NHL player, which was meant to be passed along to Cohen’s client, a Russian women in Florida for payment on a condo, but instead Cohen cashed the check and kept it.
  21. Former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove said Trump borrowed from Russiaas a lender of last resort after the 2008 financial crisis.
  22. The Guardian reported British spies were the first to spot the Trump team’s links to Russia dating back to late 2015. GCHQ shared the suspicious activity with their counter-parts in US intelligence.
  23. Germany, Estonia, Poland, Netherlands, France and Australia also relayed material on the Trump campaign’s links to Russia to US Intelligence during 2016.
  24. The head of GCHQ met with CIA Chief Brennan in July 2016 — per The Guardian, the matter was deemed so sensitive it was handled at “director level.” This meeting allegedly precipitated Brennan’s one-on-one meetings with the Gang of Eight, described in Week 21.
  25. CNN confirmed The Guardian reporting, citing sources in the US congressional and law enforcement, and US and European intelligence.
  26. CIA director Pompeo had harsh words for Wikileaks, including a “hostile intelligence service,” and said Russian military intelligence used WikiLeaks to release hacked DNC emails.
  27. Pompeo also described RT, as Russia’s “primary propaganda outlet” and said it actively collaborated with WikiLeaks.
  28. Ironically, while part of Trump’s campaign, Pompeo had cheered on Wikileaks, tweeting a Restate article, “BUSTED: 19,252 Emails from DNC Leaked by Wikileaks”
  29. Offering no evidence, Stone told POLITICO the Obama administration got a FISA warrant on him. Stone has admitted communication with both Guccifer 2.0 and Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks.
  30. Maddow observed the serious press and agencies rushing in this week to take credit for having uncovered the Trump regimes collusion with Russia — meaning the scandal has entered a new phase as accepted.
  31. The House Intelligence Committee sent Rep Quigley to Cyprus as part of its Trump-Russia probe. Week 19’s list noted some of the extensive ties between Cyprus and the Trump regime.
  32. The Department of Justice released 90 pages under the FOIA about voting machine malfunctions in PA, MI, WI, FL and NC.
  33. As Trump neared the 100-day judgment mark, POLITCO described the WH as a “pressure cooker” to show results, when little has been accomplished.
  34. As power continued to consolidate in the hands of the Trump family, Trump’s WH drew comparisons to a “family business.”
  35. Unabated personnel drama plagued the WH the entire week, as snipes continued between Bannon, Kushner and Trump.
  36. After Trumpcare failed (twice), Trump had promised to take on tax reform next, saying a plan was forthcoming. This week Trump’s WH scrapped this effort, saying they would not produce a tax plan.
  37. WSJ reported that Trump’s federal hiring freeze, put in place day 1 of his administration, put correctional officers at risk, could delay payments to veterans, and prevent disabled and retirees from getting social security.
  38. The next day, Trump lifted his Federal hiring freeze.
  39. During the hiring freeze, thousands of positions remain vacant including more than 350 at the EPA alone. CNBC blamed the pace on “Trump’s close involvement” and “turf wars” in his inner circle and Cabinet.
  40. Trump threatened to undermine Obamacare to get Democrats to the negotiating table. Specifically, he would hold back subsidy payments to healthcare companies providing insurance to low-income Americans.
  41. The Government Accountability Office said it’s investigating whether the Trump transition team followed federal guidelines and ethics rules during the transition.
  42. DeVos said she would scrap Obama’s plan for tougher federal oversight and new rules for student-loan servicers. Coincidentally, DeVos has significant holdings in one such servicer, Performant Financial Corp.
  43. Trump appointed crony Don Benton, a salesman, to director of the Selective Service System, overseeing the military draft. This is the first time since 1941 a person with no military experience has been chosen.
  44. Allan Lichtman, the American University who predicted the winner of the last eight presidential elections, predicted Trump will be impeached.
  45. CREW and others sued DHS under the FOIA for failing to disclose visitor logs of the WH, Mar-a-Lago and Trump Tower.
  46. On Friday, the Trump regime said they will not release the WH visitor logs, breaking with a practice started under President Obama.
  47. The rationale for not releasing visitor logs were “security risks”’ and to save taxpayers $700k over the next three years. A weekend in Mar-a-Lago costs taxpayers an estimated $3mm.
  48. Trump is on track to spend more in his first year, than Obama spent in all eight years in office.
  49. Trump Hotel DC is facing new legal challenges under the emoluments clause from a watchdog group represented by constitutional lawyer Laurence Tribe, who noted a “major infusion of value” from the GSA.
  50. A deal for a Trump-branded hotel in Dallas with a developer Mukemmel Sarimsakci, known as “Turkish Trump,” collapsed. Sarimsakci said the Trump Organization had been vetting potential investors in the deal.
  51. Bloomberg found that of Trump’s 10 most engaged followers on Twitter, five are confirmed robots and three appear to be bots.
  52. A Florida court of appeals ruled against Trump, saying he owed a paint company $300k for stiffing them on work done and supplies provided at the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort.
  53. Trump completely reversed himself on several key campaign positions this week. China is no longer a currency manipulator, NATO is no longer obsolete — nor is Ex-Im Bank, and he likes the job Yellin is doing.
  54. Trump credited new-found knowledge from China’s leader (N Korea) and business leaders like Boeing’s CEO (Ex-Im Bank). Boeing donated $1mm to Trump’s inauguration, and as mentioned in prior weeks, China has granted many goodies to Trump, including 38 new trademarks.
  55. Trump’s Treasury Department oddly placed Germany on its new special currency “monitoring list.” Germany’s currency is the Euro.
  56. In a FBN interview Trump described eating “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake” with China’s leader — giving a free advertisement to Mar-a-Lago catering — then got the country he bombed wrong (said Iraq).
  57. Spicer made shocking statements regarding Hitler and the Holocaust at Tuesday’s press briefing. He used the term “Holocaust center” rather than concentration camp, and in comparing Hitler to Assad, said the former had never used chemical weapons on his own people.
  58. The Anne Frank Center called on Trump to fire Spicer. The Trump regime has amassed a steady stream of anti-Semitic behavior, including omitting Jews from the WH International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement.
  59. No one from the Trump family attended the WH Passover Sedar, unlike his President Obama and Michelle who attended every year.
  60. NBC reported on Gorka’s ties to Vitezi Rend, a Nazi-linked group, including wearing his honorary medal from the group at Trump’s Inaugural ball.
  61. In a speech on Tuesday, AG Sessions ordered prosecutors to crack down on illegal immigrants more aggressively, claiming gangs and cartels are turning U.S. cities into “war zones.”
  62. ICE quietly detained 367 immigrants this week in raids across the country. ICE claims the raids are focused on “criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants and immigration fugitives” — advocates say this is not true.
  63. A mother of four in Cincinnati was deported after appeals. Maribel Trujillo had no criminal record in her 15 years here, and has children aged 3–14 years-old, the youngest of which has special needs.
  64. On Thursday, the “mother of all bombs”- the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat — in Afghanistan. Trump refused to say if he had ordered the strike, and even if he knew about it.
  65. Trump said he gave total authorization to “my military” — a reference appropriate for a dictatorship, not a democracy.
  66. While his popularity continues to flounder, Trump got his second day of positive press for dropping the MOAB (the first was the Syrian bombing).
  67. Trump has yet to declare a strategy in Afghanistan or appoint an ambassador. The $16mm cost MOAB killed 36 ISIS fighters — a cost of roughly half a million per fighter.
  68. Late Thursday, Trump also issued confrontational statements about N. Korea, threatening a pre-emptive strike. N. Korea’s vice foreign minister says Trump is “making trouble” with “aggressive” tweets.
  69. Trump spent Friday in Mar-a-Lago, golfing and avoiding the press. Friday marked Trump’s 18th time golfing, compared to other presidents at this point: Obama 0, W Bush 0, Clinton 3.
  70. As Tax Day approaches April 18th, thousands are expected to march today in cities around the country to protest Trump being the only modern day president to not release his tax returns.

Below are my original photos taken over a period of time in New York:

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Queens, New York 8apr17

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by artist CDRE

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Make America Great Again, spotted on Long Island at the abandoned Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital. 26mar17

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Please stay tuned for next week’s post of POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 24!

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 21: CRIME SCENE

Week 20 of Donald Trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

published April 1, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-20-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-d73e7ecbb05b

For the third week running, Trump has lost control of the narrative. His legislative agenda has ground to a halt — a sign of his waning political capital; however, he continues to fundamentally change the values and fabric of our country in a myriad of alarming ways. Russia’s interference in our election is now an accepted notion, and words like “collusion” and “cover up” entered the fray this week as all eyes turned to examining the Trump regime’s role.

  1. Four weeks have passed since Trump’s tweet accusing Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower. He has yet to offer any evidence or apologize.
  2. The Sunday Times reported that during Merkel’s visit to the WH, Trump handed her a £300bn invoice for money he falsely claimed Germany owed to NATO.
  3. On Sunday, Trump announced that Kushner would lead a newly formed White House Office of American Innovation, giving him broad authority over federal bureaucracy. Kushner already has a significant portfolio.
  4. On Monday, NYT reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee will question Kushner about two meetings he arranged with Kislyak during the transition.
  5. Kushner will also be questioned on a previously unreported meeting with Sergey Gorkov, the head of Russia’s state-owned development bank, Vnesheconombank (VEB). Gorkov is former KGB, and was appointed by Putin to run VEB, a bank under US sanctions for three years.
  6. Kushner and VEB gave different public accounts of why they met.
  7. VEB paid the legal bill as a secret “third party” for their employee, Evgeny Buryakov, at his trial for spying in the US for Russian Intelligence.
  8. Kushner arrived for a ski vacation in Aspen on the same day as Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, one of Putin’s closest confidants. Abramovich’s wife is also friends with Ivanka.
  9. China’s Anbang walked away from the planned purchase of 666 Fifth Avenue, which would have netted Kushner $400mm — a sign that the Chinese government is uncertain of the Trump regime’s longevity.
  10. Changing course, Ivanka will become a federal employee. In her new role of Assistant to the President, the highest staff title, Ivanka will have the same rank as McMaster.
  11. In January, Trump attorneys had said Ivanka would resign from her business positions. She is still listed as CEO of a NY based business.
  12. Ethics filings released on Friday showed that Ivanka and Kushner, despite their new roles, will remain as beneficiaries of real estate and investment businesses worth about $741mm.
  13. Ivanka will also maintain her stake in the controversial Trump Hotel DC, which netted her between $1–5mm from January 2016-March 2017, and value her stake between $5–25mm.
  14. Ethics filings also revealed that Bannon earned $917k in the past 12 months, more than half of which comes from Mercer related entities.
  15. Trump again took credit for jobs created before he took office: this time a $1.2bn investment by Ford that was planned in 2015.
  16. Per WAPO tracking, so far Trump has taken credit for jobs created before he took office 11 times.
  17. Trump’s anti-immigrant policies are scaring eligible families away from safety net programs like SNAP, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and free school lunches.
  18. ICE arrested five Green Card applicants in Lawrence, MA when they showed up for their scheduled appointments at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office. All are scheduled to be deported.
  19. A federal judge in Hawaii extended the order blocking Trump’s second Muslim Ban.
  20. Trump has been named in more than 50 lawsuits filed by individuals, arising from his Muslim Bans.
  21. Trump signed an EO which legalizes discrimination against LGBTQ federal employees.
  22. Trump excluded LGBTQ people from the US Census, removing categories for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”
  23. At a WH women’s event, Trump said “If I weren’t president, [women’s empowerment] would be a very scary statement. We can’t compete!” He also asked the crowd is they knew about Susan B. Anthony.
  24. Trump’s lawyer said the Zervos sexual harassment-related lawsuit, suing Trump for defamation, should be put on hold because it will “distract the president from his duties.”
  25. On the back of the failed Yemen raid and the Mosul bombing that left 200 civilians dead, Trump declared Somalia a war zone, lifting Obama’s civilian protection rules for airstrikes.
  26. WAPO reported a growing sense of panic and mistrust among civilians in Iraq and Syria amidst a record number of casualties by US-led airstrikes.
  27. NBC reported that 40% of US colleges reported a drop in international student applications because of Trump’s policies like the Muslim Ban. Foreign students generate $32bn in revenue and 400k jobs.
  28. Trump approval hit a new low at Gallup: 35% approve, 59% disapprove. Ratings this week are the lowest ever for a new president.
  29. Trump will not throw the ceremonial first pitch in the Nationals opening day, making him the second since Taft in 1910 not to do so.
  30. USA Today reported Trump and his companies have been linked to at least 10 former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to organized crime or money laundering.
  31. WNYC reported three all-cash real estate purchases by Manafort in New York. One purchase was for $10mm at Trump Tower in 2006 — the same time Manafort entered a $10mm contract with a pro-Putin Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, to help strategize on influencing US elections.
  32. Deripaska took out quarter page advertisements in the WAPO and WSJ denouncing the AP story, and offering to testify to Congress.
  33. On Monday, Nunes unilaterally cancelled all scheduled hearings and meetings for the week. He refused to share his source for the leaks.
  34. On Tuesday, WAPO reported that the Trump regime tried to block Sally Yates from testifying at the House hearing.
  35. WAPO also reported that both Yates and Brennan had made clear that parts of their testimony contradict statements made by the WH.
  36. On Thursday, NYT identified two WH officials, Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Michael Ellis, as the ones who gave Nunes intelligence reports. Ellis formerly worked for Nunes, and Cohen was brought in by Flynn and kept on by Trump/Bannon/Kushner despite McMasters’ desire to fire him.
  37. WAPO identified a third WH source involved in leaking information to Nunes: John Eisenberg, top lawyer for the National Security Council, on which Bannon sits.
  38. E Randol Schoenberg uncovered that Ezra Cohen-Watnick’s wife Rebecca Miller did PR for Putin.
  39. Barton Gellman raised the specter of unchartered territory — that these leaks could indicate that the Trump WH is spying on the FBI.
  40. On Friday, Schiff met with Trump and was given the materials. In a statement, Schiff said nothing he had seen warranted a departure from normal review procedures. He also questioned why senior WH staff leaked to Nunes, who then shared the info back with Trump’s WH.
  41. CREW and Democracy 21 requested an OCE inquiry into whether Nunes violated House ethics rules.
  42. Robert Wasinger, a former Trump campaign official, transition team staffer and Trump appointee became the second staffer to leave without signing an ethics pledge. Wasinger is now working as a lobbyist.
  43. ProPublica reported the Trump regime is refusing to respond to inquiry letters from Congressional Democrats, including the letters sent by Senate Democrats to Wilbur Ross in Week 18.
  44. The man behind the #Calexit Campaign — an effort to break California from the rest of the country — splits his time between living in San Diego and Russia, and has ties to a group reportedly backed by the Kremlin.
  45. BBC verified a key claim in Steele’s dossier — a Russian diplomat named Kalugin (misspelled in the dossier as “Kulagin”), who was head of the embassy’s economic section in Washington, was a spy.
  46. BBC also confirmed contact between the Trump campaign and Russia, including sharing of voter rolls in key states like MI and PA.
  47. The identity of ‘Source D’ in the Steele dossier, source of the most salacious details, was confirmed to be Belarusian American businessman Sergei Millian, who also had ties to Trump campaign officials.
  48. The FBI raided an obscure casino in Saipan run by a Trump protege, which has attracted attention over its huge revenue and cash flows. Board members include Trump transition team member Woolsey.
  49. On Thursday, Flynn’s lawyer said he had offered his testimony to the FBI and the House and Senate intelligence committees in exchange for immunity. Per his lawyer, Robert Kelner, so far there are no takers.
  50. The next morning, Trump tweeted that Flynn should ask for immunity in this “witch hunt.”
  51. Robert Kelner tweeted on November 12, 2016, “A prediction: Donald Trump will make novel and unusual use of the President’s pardon power. An under-utilized tool of political power.”
  52. Jeremy Bash, an ex-intel official, said Flynn could only get immunity if he could deliver evidence against someone higher up the chain: Trump.
  53. A federal judge approved the $25mm Trump University settlement for defrauding more than 6,000 students, and with all the news, no one really noticed.
  54. NBC reported that the Obama administration was so concerned that Trump would destroy documents related to the Russia probe, that they created a list with serial numbers and hand delivered it to all members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
  55. At a press conference before Senate Intelligence Committee hearings, Burr said Russia hired more than 1,000 hackers to create fake, anti-Hillary news. Warner added that Russia targeted key swing states, including MI, PA and WI.
  56. The Senate Intelligence Committee held its first day of hearings on Thursday. All experts who testified concurred on Russia’s involvement.
  57. Former special agent Clint Watts testified that one of reason Russia’s attacks were so successful is Trump and his team amplified and seemingly coordinated with propaganda coming out of Russia.
  58. As proof that Russia wasn’t only aiming to hurt Hillary, but rather to buoy Trump, Watts testified that Russia interfered in the Republican primary to undermine candidates, including Rubio.
  59. Rubio shared at the hearing that during his presidential campaign, his staff had a hack attempts from Russian IPs. Also, this week a second attempt was made to hack his former members of his campaign staff.
  60. CBS reported the FBI is probing whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russian Intelligence to carry out cyberattacks on the DNC and other targets in 2016
  61. Trump’s personal lawyer of more than 15 years, was named lead attorney for Sberbank, a Russian bank which is majority owned by the Russian government. Sberbank faces charges in US federal court for racketeering.
  62. WAPO reported that nearly one out of every three days while in office, Trump has visited a Trump branded property.
  63. The Center for Public Integrity noted that Wilbur Ross, while charged with Trump’s trade policy, maintains a stake in a shipping company that flies the Chinese flag, and visits Iran and Russia.
  64. Trump insider Rudy Giuliani is defending an alleged Iranian money launderer. Giuliani did not notify the court of his role, as is generally required. He also visited Turkey to discuss the case with Erdogan. The case it being heard in the Southern District of NY (formerly Bharara).
  65. In a letter to the federal judge on Friday, the federal prosecutor on the case disclosed that Giuliani tried to go around him, and cut a deal between the Turkish and U.S. governments.
  66. Senate Democrats called for an ethics probe of Mnuchin for promoting a movie he produced during a public interview on March 24th. Mnuchin said Friday it was not his intention to promote the movie.
  67. ProPublica reported that while in Congress in 2016, HHS Price bought stocks in 6 pharmaceutical companies, then used his connections to help scuttle a rule that would have hurt the companies’ profit.
  68. The Oklahoma Bar launched an investigation into whether Pruitt lied under oath in his testimony during his Senate confirmation hearing by saying while AG he only used his professional email for AG business.
  69. The State Department has gone dark. Since the IJR interview of Tillerson in which he signaled regret over taking SoS, both John Bolton and Condoleezza Rice have been invited to the WH by Trump.
  70. WAPO reported that many career diplomats in the State Department have been instructed not to speak to Tillerson directly, or to make eye contact.
  71. Senators in the House Armed Services oversight subcommittee urged Trump to fill Pentagon positions to “ensure that the American people know about and have a means to address instances of waste, fraud and abuse in their government.” Only one position has been filled (Mattis). Bannon and Kushner have blocked other picks.
  72. Trump friend and insider Carl Icahn, stands to significantly benefit from several of Trump’s policies, including a regulation that if put in place will save CVR Energy, of which Icahn owns 82%, $206mm per year.
  73. Newsweek reported that Comey wanted to go public in July with information on Russia’s campaign to influence the election, but in a meeting with Kerry, Lynch, Johnson and Rice, was told not to proceed.
  74. When asked by a reporter about Flynn during an EO signing ceremony, Trump walked out of the room without signing the orders.
  75. NPR reported that Trump has started to employ “Whataboutism” — a Russian propaganda tactic commonly used by Putin. When criticized, Trump will say someone else is worse.

Originals photos by me, in NYC March2017:

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IMG_0239Please continue following the weekly posts of “Politiks of Graffiti” on TOKIDOKI!

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 19: AMERICAN PSYCHO

Week 18 of Donald Trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.published March 18, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-18-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-f948c7fb7910#.yexbgkmf9

Events and actions this week lend credence to an evolving theme: Trump isn’t all that interested in typical legislative stuff like passing healthcare or his budget — his passion and focus are on enriching himself, and making America white.

This week was also unfamiliar territory for Trump: he couldn’t control the narrative the entire week. We’re learning Trump is great on offense, but inept on defense.

As Trump’s wiretap claim entered its second week, Trump still offered no evidence to support it. Conway backed Trump saying, “microwaves that turn into cameras” can spy on us. Spicer said Trump didn’t mean wiretapping literally when he tweeted about wiretapping.

OMB Mulvaney claimed Obama had been “manipulating” jobs data.

The Trump regime had its second email scandal in two weeks. WSJ reported that Tillerson used an email alias – ‘Wayne Tracker’ — while at Exxon, to discuss climate change.

Kushner is set to net $400 million on the sale of a NYC office building to a Chinese firm with murky links to the Chinese power structure.

Ivanka imported 53 metric tons of Chinese goods while her father was making his ‘Buy American’ speeches.

A businesswoman with ties to Chinese Intelligence and the Chinese ruling elite purchased a penthouse in a Trump property for $15.8 million.

These ties, along with the 38 trademarks granted to Trump in Week 14, as Trump readies to host China’s PM at Mar-a-Lago. Trump has shifted on both his “One China” policy and trade war threats in recent weeks.

Trump insider Stone told AP he may have been the subject of surveillance by Intelligence for his possible role as a foreign agent for Russia.

Former WH staffer Crowley, who was fired for plagiarism, took a job as a foreign agent for a Ukrainian oligarch with ties to Russia.

Reuters uncovered that Russian elite have invested close to $100 million in Trump luxury towers in Southern Florida.

The yacht of Trump financial backer Robert Mercer, was spotted in the British Virgin Islands next to the yacht of Dmitry Rybolovlev, the Russian oligarch mentioned in Week 17 for his multiple connections to Trump and Wilbur Ross.

Mercer also has close ties to Bannon, and collaborated with him on at least five ventures, including Breitbart News.

A document released Thursday showed that Flynn received three formerly-undisclosed payments from Russian interests, totaling $70,000.

WSJ broke that Flynn also had an interaction with a Russian-British national while he was head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, which he failed to report, as required.

Russia continued provocations: a Russian spy ship reappeared in the US eastern seaboard, just 20 miles south of a U.S. Navy submarine base.

News of the DOJ’s findings that Russian agents were behind the Yahoo hacking, brought Russia interference back front and center.

As things heated up on Russia in the Senate, McCain accused Rand Paul, on the Senate floor, of “working for Vladimir Putin.”

Further to Week 17’s Deep State theme, Trump opened the week signing an executive order on a “reorganizing” of the executive branch, which opened the door to the Trump regime dismantling federal agencies.

POLITICO reported on the growing paranoia and dysfunctionality in Trump’s executive branch. One staff member said, “people are scared.”

Tillerson mirrored Trump, saying the proposed slashing of the State Department’s budget would make it “much more efficient,” while offering no vision or strategy for foreign policy.

As mentioned in Week 17, much to the consternation and over objections by our media, Tillerson did not bring press along on his first trip to Asia. He did, however, bring one reporter from conservative media IJR — who coincidentally had written a glowing piece about him two weeks prior.

Friday, Tillerson said the US was prepared to take military action against North Korea, if necessary. Tillerson cut his trip to South Korea short, citing fatigue.

Saturday, Tillerson stood by his decision not to allow the media along on his trip to Asia, saying, “I’m not a big media press access person.”

A Federal Judge in Hawaii halted Trump’s second Muslim Ban the day before it was set to go into effect, saying the Ban is unconstitutional and discriminates based on religion.

The Federal Judge also cited remarks made by Miller and Giuliani on TV in his ruling.

Conservative media IJR (same as on Tillerson’s plane) speculated that Obama’s visit to Hawaii and was behind the ruling. IJR next day added an editor’s note to the article, and soon thereafter, the reporter resigned.

Buzzfeed reported that Nick Ayers, a top adviser to Pence is an investor in the IJR.

Trump held a campaign rally in Nashville, TN on Wednesday in which he chastised the Federal Judge who ruled against his Muslim Ban, claiming incompetence, before transitioning the crowd to cheers of, “Lock her up!”

Trump’s ranting about the halt of his second Muslim Ban at the Nashville rally — “This is watered-down version of the first one” – could be a death blow to his chances in an appeal, which he does plan to file.

WAPO reported on a second internal report prepared for the Trump regime, again with data undercutting the premise of his Muslim Ban.

Trump’s Nashville campaign rally was half full; while thousands of protestors outside chanted things like, “bless your heart.”

Gorka, Trump’s top counter-terrorism advisor, was reported to be a sworn member of Hungarian group listed by our State Department as ‘under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany’ during World War II.

In Netherland’s race for prime minister, the candidate associated with Trump lost with unexpectedly poor results. Some in Europe noted that Austrian and Dutch elections point to a Trump backlash.

At a photo op before his Michigan speech, Trump said publicly to the governor “Come on, governor — even though you didn’t endorse me….I never forget.”

WAPO’s Fahrenthold followed up on three promises made by Trump on November 8: donating his salary, giving away leftovers from Inaugural Committee, and donating profits derived from foreign governments use Trump hotels to the US Treasury. Trump has given $0 so far.

On Friday, the Trump Organization announced it will wait until 2018 to start donating profits from foreign government in his hotels.

Anti-Semitic threats continued. CNN created a map to show how widespread Jewish bomb threats have become: so far in 2017, 159 bomb threats in 38 states.

Trump’s Muslim Ban took another blow from a Federal Judge in Maryland who suspended the part of the ban that prevented visas from being issued. Trump and his surrogates continued the “judicial overreach” and need to change this imbalance of power, talking point.

Trump’s budget got off to a disastrous start when OMB Mulvaney said of cutting funds to Meals on Wheels, it’s a program, “not showing results.” Words ‘Meals’ and ‘Wheels’ trended on Twitter for the rest of the day.

WSJ reported that tax cuts for the wealthy in the GOP’s tax plan would save Trump millions.

Part of Trump’s 2005 tax return was leaked to reporter David Cay Johnston, who shared them on The Rachel Maddow Show. Trump called it “fake news,” Maddow called the scoop, “a drop of water in the desert.”

NJ legislature passed a bill requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.

Continuing his efforts to drain the swamp, Trump nominated his fifth Goldman Sachs employee to a role as Deputy Treasury Secretary.

Ethics documents showed that Liddell, Trump’s director of strategic initiatives, has $3–4 million in stock holdings of 18 of the companies, whose CEOs attended a meeting with he and Trump.

By midweek, Republicans including Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, were turning on Trump for his wiretapping claim. Ryan joined him too.

The Senate Intelligence Committee issued a formal statement that there is no evidence of any surveillance (going beyond wiretapping) or Trump Tower during or after the campaign. The statement was issued 15 minutes before the WH daily briefing.

At the daily briefing, which started an hour late, Spicer said Trump stands by his allegation that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.

Spicer also parroted allegations first made on Fox News, that Obama used British intelligence agency GCHQ to spy on Trump. GCHQ issued a strongly worded refute of this ridiculous claim.

Friday morning, UK media reported the US made formal apology to Britain for the WH accusation that the GCHQ wiretapped Trump Tower.

That afternoon, Spicer denied that an apology was made, saying, “I don’t think we regret anything,” while Trump commented on the matter, “We said nothing. All we did was quote a very talented legal mind.”

With cameras rolling, Trump refused when asked by Merkel, to shake her hand.

Multiple pictures surfaced of Ivanka inexplicably seated next to Chancellor Merkel at the meeting.

Trump misspoke during the press conference with Merkel, referring to the US as a “company” instead of a country.

Also at the press conference, Trump turned to Merkel in answering about his wiretap claims by Obama and said, “At least we have something in common perhaps.” He claimed he got the information from Fox News.

After the press conference, Fox News’ Shep Smith said on his show, ‘Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that now-President of the United States was surveilled at any time, in any way. Full stop.’

Oklahoma Rep Cole became the first congressional Republican to call on Trump to apologize to Obama for his false wiretapping claim.

Friday is was announced that Trump’s DOJ is working to speed deportations, shifting immigration judges to 12 US cities where they claim there are more immigrants who have committed crimes.

Cases continued to surface of non-criminals being targeted for deportation, including a mother of six in Chicago during a routine check-in with ICE. Her congressman was handcuffed defending her.

Canada’s version of the Girl Scouts — the Girl Guides — canceled all trip to the US citing concerns over Trump’s Muslim Ban, and it’s message.

Rep Steve King said Blacks and Hispanics “will be fighting each other” before overtaking whites in population. Few in the GOP condemned him, as King continued to the TV circuit re-iterating his white nationalism.

The Trump regime went to court to try to bring the consumer protection agency created by Sen Warren after the 2008 recession, under direct control of Trump, opening the door to dismantling it.

The WH “1600 Daily” email blast mistakenly included a very obviously satirical article from WAPO, “Trump’s budget makes perfect sense and will fix America, and I will tell you why.”

Continuing his pattern of hiring insiders, Trump plans to nominate Kellyanne Conway’s husband to a powerful post overseeing the Federal government’s lawsuits, including the Muslim Ban.

Republicans continue to face energized, raucous crowds when returning home. Sen Ernst faced a packed crowd, which frequently booed her.

The House Intel Committee sent a letter to the FBI, CIA and NSA demanding info on whether Flynn was being surveilled. The House Intel Committee oversees the FBI, CIA and NSA, yet the agencies did not comply. Rachel Maddow in a segment called it “nuts” and “not normal.”

Open hearings in Congress on Russian interference start next week: March 20th in the House, and March 30th in the Senate. McCain said on upcoming Trump-Russia probes, “ I think there’s a lot of shoes to drop from this centipede.”

Courageous artist Karen Fiorito depicts Nazi dollar signs and clown 🤡 mushroom clouds. Arizona.
Artist Tom Blackford in London, care of notbanksyforum.
Artist Maria Acevedo, care of weartasone instagram.




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