Week 49 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-49-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-dc7e777ac601 October 21, 2017
This was one of, if not the worst week for our country since Trump took office. As the length of the list reveals, this was a week of complete chaos and eroding norms. There was an observable sense of exhaustion, anger, sadness, fear and loss among Americans.
With Trump effectively driving the narrative around his handling of a fallen soldier, there was little coverage or focus on most items on this list. Many of these news stories would in normal times be front page coverage for months. Investigations of Russian interference quietly progressed on several fronts, and alarmingly Trump and some prominent regime members continue to deny the existence of, and take steps to protect against Russian involvement.
At the Value Voter Summit, Trump ally and former adviser
Gorka told the crowd, “The left has no idea how much more damage we can do to them as private citizens.”
BuzzFeed reported a subpoena was issued in March by Summer Zervos’s lawyer to Trump for documents about “any woman alleging” Trump touched her inappropriately. Zervos is suing Trump for defamation.
Larry Flint took out a full-page ad in the Sunday edition of leading to the impeachment and removal from office” of Trump. WAPO offering to pay $10MM for “information
New Yorker reported on “Duty to Warn,” a group of psychiatrists mobilizing behind the 25th Amendment, who claim Trump “suffers from an incurable malignant narcissism” which makes him unfit to serve and dangerous. The Editorial Board of the
San Francisco Chronicle published an op-ed, “ California burns: Where’s the president?” as Trump for a second week was silent on CA’s deadliest wildfire.
New Yorker reported on Pence’s extremism on social issues. In a meeting, when the discussion turned to LGBT rights, Trump pointed at Pence and said: “Don’t ask that guy — he wants to hang them all!” The media company of Trump ally
Anthony Scarmucci ran a Twitter poll asking people to vote on the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust. Before it was taken down, 1 in 5 responded “less than one million.”
Mic reported Army recruiters have been instructed to stop enlisting green card holders “until further notice.” Baring green card holders from enlisting is against federal law. A federal judge in
HI blocked Trump’s revised travel ban, saying it “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor.” A federal judge in
MD granted a nationwide preliminary injunction, saying the Trump regime has “not shown that national security cannot be maintained without an unprecedented eight-country travel ban.” White supremacist
Richard Spencer spoke at U of Florida in his first campus speech since the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. His appearance was met with mass protests inside and outside the speech.
FL Gov. Scott declared a state of emergency for Alachua County. U of Florida banned torches, masks, weapons and athletic equipment that could be used as a weapon. Police announced
three white nationalists were charged with attempted homicide after they argued with and fired a shot at a group of protestorsfollowing Spencer’s speech. A federal judge in
KS denied bond for one of three men in a militia group “the Crusaders,” a group of Trump supporters who had plotted an attack against Muslims one day after the 2016 election to “wake people up.” On Friday,
Mashable reported the EPA climate change website which was taken down in April, reappeared in part, but with all references to climate change removed.
Forbes reported during the transition period, Wilbur Ross moved assets into family trusts, leaving more than $2BN off his financial disclosure report. Forbes discovered the discrepancy based on magazine records. Ross’s moving assets raises concerns of
violating federal rules, and also, given his role as Sec Commerce, potential for conflicts of interest.
Rep Cummings said “several” Trump aides have admitted to using private emails for government business and “confessed” that they failed to forward official records, in violation of federal record-keeping law. Gowdy had joined Cummings in
Week 46 to request details on private email use with an initial deadline of October 10. The WH did not fully respond. Now Cummings is concerned Gowdy is letting the WH slide.
Trump will meet Philippine President Duterte on his upcoming trip to Asia. Duterte has come under international criticism for his brutal crackdown on drug trafficking, including thousands of extrajudicial killings. In a speech at the Heritage Foundation,
Pruitt said the Trump regime plans to restrict scientists who get EPA grants from serving on the agency’s scientific advisory committees. Earlier this year,
Pruitt failed to renew half of the membership of the 18-person Board of Scientific Counselors. He is considering more than 130 candidates who reject mainstream science on climate change.
Trump nominee for drug czar, Tom Marino, withdrew from consideration after a WAPO/“60 Minutes” investigation detailed how he helped steer legislation that weakened the DEA’s ability to go after drug distributors.
Anthony Alexis, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s enforcement chief, announced he is stepping down. Alexis is the highest-profile official to leave the agency since Trump took office. A federal judge ruled
Trump’s pardon of Arpaio will not wipe out the guilty verdict she returned or any other rulings in the case. The Court had found Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt. Arpaio’s lawyer will likely appeal.
POLITICO reported Trump personally interviewed at least two candidates for US attorney positions in NY. One potential nominee would have jurisdiction over Trump Tower, and could investigate the Trump regime.
CNN reported Trump also met with Jessie Liu who he tapped to be the next US attorney for the District of Columbia, where Trump now resides. On Monday,
Trump had a pair of Q&A sessions, first in the Cabinet Room and then in the Rose Garden with McConnell. The sessions covered a variety of topics and were filled with false statements. Trump bragged about his performance in office in all areas. Trump
fabricated that James Lee Witt, a FEMA administrator under B. Clinton gave him an “A-plus” for handling the hurricanes, including Puerto Rico. At the Cabinet room Q&A,
Trump bragged his moves had ended Obamacare: “There is no such thing as ObamaCare anymore.” A Yale Law School professor detailed how
Trump admitting he is trying to kill Obamacare is illegal: “Modern American history has never seen as full-scale an effort to sabotage a valid law,” upheld twice by the SCOTUS. Also Monday, Trump said
he and McConnell are “closer than ever before.” Bannon is waging a war on the GOP establishment, and has suggested opposition to McConnell as a litmus test for his support. When asked about his 12-day silence on US soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger,
Trump claimed Obama and past presidents “didn’t make calls” to families of soldiers killed in duty. This is a false statement. On Tuesday, Trump evoked his chief of staff’s son to
attack Obama, saying Obama “did not call Gen. Kelly after the death of his son.” Daily Beastconfirmed WH officials signed off on this line of attack.
CNN reported Kelly did not know Trump would use the death of his son publicly. Kelly and much of the WH were caught off guard.
AP contacted the families of all 43 people who have died in military service since Trump took office and made contact with about 20 of them. More than half said they had not heard from Trump.
Trump also complained how hard it was on him to make these calls, “It is a very difficult thing…it is a very, very tough day.” He, however, failed to mention the hardship on the families of fallen soldiers. Trump also claimed “
absolutely no collusion” between his campaign and Russia, and blamed it as being an excuse by Democrats for losing. He also referenced Hillary repeatedly, saying he hoped she would run again.
WAPO reported the Trump campaign spent $1.1MM in legal fees for the Mueller probe during the quarter ended September. In a sign of increased activity, $927K was spent during the first six months of the year. The
Trump campaign and RNC continue to pay for Trump and Donald Jr.’s lawyer, but not for Trump campaign or WH staffers.
Business Insider reported Veselnitskaya was acting as an agent for the Kremlin when she delivered a memo at the Trump Tower meeting. The same memo was given to Rohrabacher at his Moscow visit in April 2016.
CNN reported Senate investigators have spoken with some of the Russians present at the Trump Tower meeting. Burr said he is “sequencing” interviews “before we know exactly what we want from Don Jr.”
Yahoo reported on a Russian tv interview of an agent who worked in the English language department of a Russian troll farm. He was instructed: “We had a goal to set up the Americans against their own government.” The agents
watched “House of Cards” to better understand American politics, and were instructed to repetitively post anti-Hillary comments about her wealth, private email server, and Bill Clinton’s administration.
CNN reported House and Senate investigators are interviewing Matt Tait, a cybersecurity expert recruited by Republican operative Peter W. Smith, about Smith’s interactions with the Trump campaign. Tait has in the past said
he believes Smith had connections with Flynn, Bannon and Conway during the campaign. The Senate Intel Comm has also reached out to Eric York, another security expert enlisted by Smith.
Business Insider reported Mueller has also interviewed Tait as part of the probe into the relationship between Peter Smith and Flynn, and their possible collusion with Russia to get Hillary’s deleted emails.
Business Insider reported on tools used by a Cambridge Analytica intern which aid in targeting US voters on divisive issues. The tools were left unprotected online for a year, including the 8 months before the election.
CNN reported based on documentation, Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch in Putin’s inner-circle, is thought to be behind the Russian troll farm in St. Petersburg called Internet Research Agency. On Monday,
AL Republican Roy Moore’s Senate campaign said it does not know why more than 1K fake Twitter accounts originating from Russia started following Moore’s account, causing a spike in his following. In a letter, the lawyer for
the founders of Fusion GPS said they are refusing to comply with Nunes subpoena. Fusion GPS lawyers argued Nunes signed the subpoena “with no authority to sign it, as part of personal mission.” On Thursday, citing Fusion GPS’s refusal,
Trump tweeted suggesting the FBI, Democrats and Russians as co-conspirators behind the “Fake dossier.” The
Senate Intel Comm subpoenaed Carter Page for documents and testimony as part of its Russia investigation. In a dramatic shift, Page who earlier said he was eager to testify, will likely evoke the Fifth Amendment.
POLITICO reported Spicer was interviewed by Mueller’s team on Tuesday. Reportedly he was grilled on the firing Comey and his statements, as well as about Trump’s meetings with Lavrov and Kislyak in the Oval Office.
Mueller’s team is actively interviewing Trump’s former and current aides. Priebus and Keith Kellogg, interim NSA after Flynn, have been interviewed. Hicks and McGahan are expected to be interviewed shortly. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a prominent exiled Russian oligarch, told
MSNBC: “ I am almost convinced that Putin’s people have tried to influence the US election in some way.” Khodorkovsky also said of Kushner’s meeting with VEB’s Gorkov last December,
Gorkov was acting on behalf of the Kremlin. Kushner has said the meeting was to discuss business.
Kushner added Charles Harder to his legal team. Vanity Fair speculated the addition may have come out of concern about Priebus’s testimony in Week 48, as relates to Kushner’s proximity to Trump’s decision to fire Comey. NYU journalism professor
Jay Rosen noted Harder’s expertise: “ defamation, reputation protection, privacy, media law, entertainment, intellectual property and business litigation.”
Daily Beast reported Donald Jr. and Conway pushed tweets by the Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency, including allegations of voter fraud, the week before Election Day. Trump aides and allies
Flynn, Flynn Jr., Stone, Gorka, Parscale, and Ann Coulter retweeted or tweeted Russian troll farm content. Clint Watts said Russia can declare success: Americans using content against Americans.
POLITICO reported the Senate Intel Comm interviewed Trump’s fmr campaign manager Lewandowski on Wednesday. Lewandowski signed off on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. The
Senate Intel Comm announced it will postpone and reschedule its open hearing of Michael Cohen scheduled for Oct 25. In Week 45, the committee abruptly canceled their interview after Cohen breached terms.
POLITICO reported a federal judge has tossed out a libel suit filed by Russian oligarch Deripaska alleging he was paying Manafort to advance the goals of the Russian government and Putin. AP falsely implied
CNN reported . The DOJ deadline was October 17, but RT is resisting the DOJ’s request that its American arm register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act RT has not yet registered. McCain said the
WH blocked its cyber czar, Rob Joyce, from testifying before the Senate Armed Services Comm on US efforts to defend against cyberattacks. McCain signaled Joyce could be subpoenaed. During a panel hosted by the George W. Bush Institute,
UN ambassador Nikki Haley called Russia’s interference in the 2016 election “warfare,” and added “we’ve got to fix it.” On Thursday, at a security conference in Washington,
CIA director Pompeo made a false statement on Russia interference: “The intelligence community’s assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election.”
The CIA quickly issued a statement clarifying Pompeo’s remarks: “The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed.” Pompeo has a record of statements minimizing Russia.
Putin entered American politics again, saying in an interview that Americans should not “disrespect” Trump. Putin also defended Trump’s voters and his nontraditional ways, and blamed the US media. The acting commissioner of
Pennsylvania’s ObamaCare exchange said premiums are expected to spike by 31% for 2018 because of Trump’s decision to stop paying key subsidies. On Tuesday, at a news conference in the Rose Garden,
Trump said he would support the Alexander-Murray deal, which would stabilize Obamacare insurance markets by restoring subsidies cut by Trump. On Wednesday, in an early morning tweet,
Trump changed his positions: “can never support bailing out ins co’s who have made a fortune w/ O’Care.” He repeated his new position later in a tax reform meeting. On Wednesday,
Sen Alexander told reporters, “The president called me 10 days ago and asked me to work with Senator Murray to do this.” Gallup found,
reversing a trend of the past three years when the rate of US uninsured declined from 18% to 10.9%, in the third quarter, likely as a result of actions by Trump and Congress, the uninsured rate rose to 12.3% In a speech Monday,
McCain repudiated Trump: “spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma.” On Tuesday,
Trump threatened McCain, telling a radio host, “You know, I’m being very nice. I’m being very, very nice. But at some point I fight back and it won’t be pretty.” On Thursday,
George W. Bush delivered a rebuke of Trump in a speech at the Bush Institute, without mentioning Trump by name. Bush called on America to “reject bigotry and white supremacy.”
Bush added, “We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism. Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.” After the speech,
McCain tweeted his support of Bush: “Important speech by my friend, President George W. Bush today, reminding us of the values that have made America a beacon of hope for all.”
McCain became the first Republican to sign onto a bill drafted by Klobuchar and Warner, the Honest Ads Act, which would increase the transparency of political advertisements on social media platforms.
NPR revealed Trump National Golf Club, LA claims to have donated $5MM to charitable causes, and lists about 200 organizations. Many contacted said they never received the money, and only $800K was accounted for.
WAPO reported in a June call, Trump offered a grieving military father $25K from his personal account, and said his staff would establish an online fundraiser for the family. The father said neither happened. Shortly after the
WAPO story, the WH said Trump had sent a $25k check he promised to the father . Military families are privately concerned about a commander in chief writing checks to parents of fallen soldiers. On Wednesday,
in a series of tweets, Trump suggested Comey exonerated Hillary “long before investigation was complete.” Trump threatened, “Where is Justice Dept?” On Wednesday, Sessions testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Comm during a five-hour, highly-contentious oversight hearing.
Sessions repeatedly said his discussions with Trump were off-limits to lawmakers. When asked about his conversations Russians during the campaign, he said
he “could not recall” the specifics of the conversation, but “I don’t think there was any discussions about the details of the campaign.” Sessions acknowledged he discussed Comey with Trump before writing the letter that was used to justify the firing, but
refused in questioning to share what Trump said to him about Comey. Sessions says he can’t “
make a blanket commitment” not to jail journalists, and that he reserves the right to jail journalists “if we have to.” On Tuesday night, Rep. Frederica Wilson told CNN she had overheard Trump’s condolence call to Army Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson.
Wilson said Myeshia “broke down” during the call. Wilson said when Myeshia
hung up, she said ‘he didn’t even remember his name.’ Wilson also said Trump basically told Myeshia, ‘I guess he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt.’ Wednesday morning,
Trump tweeted Wilson had fabricated what he said, adding “(and I have proof). Sad!” No proof has been given. Trump
repeated his claim later when asked by a reporter about his statement: “I didn’t say what that congresswoman said; didn’t say it all. She knows it.” The WH did not confirm or deny Wilson’s account. Sgt. La David Johnson’s mother,
Cowanda Jones-Johnson, who also heard the call told , and that Trump did tell Myeshia her husband, “must have known what he signed up for.” WAPO that Wilson’s account was accurate Chuck Hagel, former Sec of Defense under Obama and Republican senator, told
USA Today Trump’s comments about the fallen troops “sickens” him, and were “beneath the dignity of the presidency.” Army Sgt. La David Johnson
body wasn’t found until two days after he was killed in Niger. Johnson was one of four Green Berets killed in an ambush. Rachel Maddow reported
Trump’s behavior may have been a diversion away from explaining what happened in Niger. Two weeks later there still has not been an explanation of the mission or the ambush.
POLITICO reported staffers at the NSC drafted a Niger sympathy statement for Trump on October 5. Trump never released the statement. On Thursday, McCain, chairman of the Sen Armed Services Comm said
the Trump regime has not been forthcoming about the attack in Niger, and that he may subpoena to get access to information he wants.
LA Times reported the General Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command, asked for more military resources in March. CNN reported Sgt. La David Johnson body was found nearly a mile from the ambush. On Thursday, the
Pentagon announced it has sent a team to Niger to conduct a “review of the facts,” of what happened on October 4. It is still not known with certainty what group carried out the attack. On Thursday,
Kelly delivered an impassioned defense of Trump and his call to Johnson’s widow, evoking his own experience with the loss of his son and his experience in the military as a four-star general. Kelly drew ire for referencing that in his day
women were “sacred, looked upon with great honor,” given Trump’s record with women, and for saying Gold Star families should be off-limits given Trump’s attacks of the Khans.
Kelly attacked Wilson, saying he was “stunned” by her account, and she exhibited “selfish behavior.” Kelly chastised Wilson, “ empty barrels making the most noise” for allegedly saying she helped get funding for a building. Late Thursday, Trump attacked Wilson on Twitter,
calling her “wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D),” and said she “gave a total lie on content!”
Miami Herald reported Kelly got his facts wrong attacking Wilson. Kelly claimed Wilson said “she got the money” for a new building during a 2015 ceremony. Wilson was not in Congress when the money was secured. On Friday,
Sun Sentinel released a full video of Wilson’s remarks. Wilson took credit for securing approval for the naming of the building. She did not take credit for funding. On Friday afternoon, the
WH stood by Kelly issuing a statement repeating the “empty barrel” assertion and attacking Wilson even though the video showed his claim was false. On Friday afternoon at the press briefing,
press sec Sanders said it’s “highly inappropriate” to get into a debate with a four-star general. WAPOlisted several four-star generals Trump has publicly bashed. On Friday,
Trump signed an executive order allowing the Air Force to recall as many as 1k retired pilots to active duty. The order is not specific to the Air Force, and could be used to call up more officers in other branches. Bennie Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Comm,
called for an investigation of drinking water in Puerto Rico. As per Week 48, Puerto Ricans are drinking from a Superfund site.
CNN reported only 33 of the 250 beds (16%) on the USNS Comfort are being used, nearly two weeks after the ship arrived.
CNN reported one month after Hurricane Maria, 1MM Americans are still without drinking water and 3MM without electricity. One Puerto Rican commented, “Much of the island feels like it was hit by a storm yesterday.” On Thursday, at a press conference with Puerto Rico’s governor, Trump rated his handling of disaster relief as
10 out of 10. Recent polls show Americans give him a rating of 4 out of 10. Trump repeated his warning that FEMA could not stay forever. At some point, Trump said, “
FEMA has to leave” and “the people have to take over.” The official death toll count remains at 48, but as per VOX in Week 48, the actual count could be hundreds more.
Senators Markey and Warren, and Reps Velazquez and Thompson have asked for an audit of the death count. On Thursday,
Oxfam issued a statement saying one month in, “Without reliable water supply, electricity, phone service and other basic amenities, life in Puerto Rico is untenable.” On Wednesday,
CREW started its case against Trump in the Southern District of NY, saying he violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by continuing to own and profit from his businesses.
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan said Trump’s recent grudge against the NFL is because Trump’s bid to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014 failed. On Thursday, Fmr CIA Director John Brennan said Trump has escalated tensions with N. Korea to a dangerous level, and that
Cabinet members and senior officials may need to step in as “governors” to prevent war. A federal judge Wednesday
barred the Trump regime from blocking an undocumented immigrant teen “Jane Doe” from getting an abortion. The judge said she was “astounded” the regime was trying to block the teen. A federal appeals court Friday said
Jane Doe could get an abortion, but would need a sponsor. Trump’s HHS in March announced federally funded shelters are prohibited from providing abortion to unaccompanied minors.
POLITICO reported Trump officials were blindsided and are scrambling to come up with an opioid plan after Trump’s off-script statement Mondaywhere he promised to deliver an emergency declaration next week.
Newsweek reported Sen Cardin, ranking member of the Sen Foreign Relations Comm, joined House democrats in demanding Ivanka’s security clearance be reviewed given her failure to divest from her business empire.
Daily Beast reported at the end of a tumultuous week, WH aides say Trump show zero remorse, and he “loved Kelly’s performance” and “considers the issue won.” Kelly however is looking more and more dispirited. On Friday in a tweet,
Trump falsely blamed a 13% rise in UK crime on “Radical Islamic terror.” A report by the UK’s Office of National Statistics out Thursday said the increase was due to knife crime and sexual offenses. Forbes list of the
400 richest Americans 2017 list showed Trump’s wealth fell by $600MM to $3.1BN. Trump fell from the #156 to #248.
Smithsonian reported on a survey which found a spike in fear. In 2017, Americans are afraid of five items, up from one in prior years. Americans also have “a great fear of some of the things happening in this presidency.” The most feared item is corruption of government officials (74%). As the week drew to a close,
32 days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, just 16.6% of the island has electricity, and 71.7 drinking water.
“Tuck Frump” by Miami-based artist Tee Wat
New York City, October 2017
Street art sends powerful messages to passersby. Stay WOKE!
Week 48 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
October 14, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-48-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-e8a21132e25a
This week, starting with ominous statements by Sen. Corker, numerous accounts by Trump aides and Republican insiders leaked to the media describing Increasingly, a WH in peril. seems Trump isolated, erratic, unmoored and unfit for office.
Amid criticism, Trump threatened to pull out, but later backed off. Although the death count officially stands at 45, reporting revealed possibly hundreds more preventable deaths related to the Hurricane Maria. The humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico worsened with the inadequate response by the federal government.
He continues to focus on undoing Obama’s legacy, piece-by-piece. The Mueller investigation hit Trump’s inner-circle, and social media’s role in aiding Russia continues to unfold. Trump remains silent on both California’s deadliest wildfires and the deadliest combat incident since he took office.
On Saturday night,
Richard Spencer led another white supremacist torch-lit rally at University of Virginia. The rally lasted 10 minutes and 40–50 people attended. Spencer vowed, “we will keep coming back.” On Sunday,
Trump attacked former ally Corker in a series of incendiary tweets, saying “Corker “begged” me to endorse him for re-election” and “wanted to be Secretary of State.” Trump claimed to have said no to both.
Corker responded, tweeting it’s a shame the WH has become an “adult day care center,” and that someone “missed their shift this morning.” On Sunday,
Pence left a Colts game after a protest during the national anthem. Pence later issued a full statement opposing the protests. The Colts were playing the 49ers, a team known to protest. Before the game, Pence tweeted a photo of he and the Second Lady wearing Colts gear.
The photo was one he originally tweeted in 2014. Shortly after,
Trump tweeted he had asked Pence to leave the game “if any players kneeled,” and said he was proud of Pence and the Second Lady. The pool of
journalists covering Pence were not allowed into the stadium, and were told, “there may be an early departure from the game.” ABCestimated Pence’s flight cost taxpayers nearly $250k. Bowing to pressure from Trump, the Cowboy’s Jerry Jones, after kneeling with players in week 3 of the season,
changed course saying any player who “disrespects the flag” by kneeling will not be allowed to play. On Tuesday,
Trump threatened the NFL over protests saying the league is “getting massive tax breaks” and the law should be changed. This claim is false: the NFL gave up its 501(c)(6) tax-exempt status in 2015. On Tuesday, bowing to pressure from Trump and fans, NFL Commissioner Goodell, who previously had said players had the right to voice their opinions,
sided with owners opposed to letting players demonstrate. On Monday, Pence headlined a fundraiser in CA
for Republicans including controversial, Kremlin-ally Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher had a previously undisclosed meeting in Russia with Veselnitskaya described in Week 47. University of Wisconsin
approved a policy which calls for suspending or expelling students who disrupt campus speeches and presentations. The policy mirrors Republican legislation passed by the state Assembly. On Columbus Day, unlike Obama, Trump celebrated the “arrival of Europeans,” but
did not mention of the suffering of Native Americans. On Sunday, the
Trump’s DHS allowed the Jones Act waiver, which helped speed relief to Puerto Rico, to expire. No explanation was given. Trump’s EPA announced it would
repeal the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The statement described the regulation as the “so-called Clean Power Plan.” On Friday,
Trump addressed the Value Voters Summit hosted by Family Research Council, which has been classified by SPLC as an anti-gay hate group. Trump is the first US leader to address the group.
Reuters reported the Trump regime has been quietly cutting support for halfway houses for federal prisoners, severing contracts with as many as 16 facilities, necessitating some inmates stay behind bars longer.
ABC reported the Treasury Dept’s inspector general is looking into allegations reported by BuzzFeed in Week 47 that agency officials have been illegally looking at private financial records of US citizens. A report compiled by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) at House and Senate Democrats’ request,
found the Trump transition team ignored ethics officials and refused to cooperate with the GAO. Trump named Kathleen Hartnett White to the WH’s Council on Environmental Quality. Hartnett White,
a climate science denier, once also said, “fossil fuels dissolved the economic justification for slavery.” In response to a filing by CREW, Trump’s
DOJ told a court in DC that Trump can destroy records without judicial review, including tweets. Brian Brooks became the
second candidate under consideration for deputy Treasury Secretary to withdraw from consideration. Mnuchin said he has no plans to fill the number two slot in his agency.
WAPO reported at the Interior Dept, when Zinke enters the building a staffer takes the elevator to the seventh floor, climbs the stairs to the roof and puts up a special flag. The flag comes down when he leaves. On Wednesday,
NBC reported Tillerson calling Trump a “moron” was provoked by Trump suggesting a tenfold increase in the US nuclear arsenalduring a July 20 meeting with the high-ranking national security leaders. In response to the story which he called “Fake News,”
Trump tweeted a threat to revoke the broadcasting licenses of “NBC and the Networks.” Later that afternoon, at a news conference,
Trump again lashed out at the independent news media saying it’s “frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.” In a statement Wednesday night,
Republican Sen. Sasse asked Trump if he was “recanting” his oath to protect the First Amendment. Indiana Republican lawmaker Jim Lucas drafted a
bill that would require professional journalists to be licensed by state police. Under pressure to confirm Trump’s judicial nominees,
McConnell will no longer allow “blue slips,” used by senators to deny a nominee from their state a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and vote on confirmation. The Trump regime
withdrew from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), citing anti-Israel bias and a being in arrears on a $550MM payment. Israel remains part of UNESCO.
NYT published an interview with Corker in which he said Trump is treating his office like a “reality show” with reckless threats at other country that could put our country “on the path to World War III.” Corker said he is concerned about Trump, and Trump’s behavior should concern “anyone who cares about our nation.” He added there is
no ‘good cop, bad cop’ underway with Tillerson — Trump is undermining diplomacy. Corker said
nearly all Senate Republican share his concerns: “the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here.”
WAPO reported Trump is frustrated by his cabinet and that he is not getting enough credit for his handling of three hurricanes. Trump is lashing out and rupturing alliances with both Republicans and Democrats. One confidant said
Trump is like a whistling teapot, saying when he does not blow off steam, he can turn into a pressure cooker and explode: “I think we are in pressure cooker territory.”
POLITICO quoted 10 sources current and former WH aides who employed strategies like delays and distractions as “guardrails” in trying to manage Trump’s impulsivity.
Vanity Fair reported sources say Trump is “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling.” They say the WH is in crisis as advisers struggle to contain Trump who is increasingly unfocused and consumed by dark moods. Trump allegedly
told his former bodyguard Schiller, “I hate everyone in the White House!” Kelly is allegedly miserable in the job, and is staying on in a sense of duty and to keep Trump from making disastrous decisions. One former official speculated Kelly and Mattis have
discussed what they would do if Trump ordered a nuclear strike — “would they tackle him?” According to sources, Bannon said the risk to Trump’s presidency wasn’t impeachment, but the
25th Amendment. Bannon thinks Trump has only a 30% chance of making it the full term. In a column “What Bob Corker Sees in Trump,” conservative columnist Peggy Noonan urged
Republicans they have a duty to speak on the record about what they see happening with Trump. On Thursday, at a signing ceremony for his health care executive order,
Trump nearly walked out of the room without signing the order. Pence pulled him back in. On Tuesday, Tump said in an interview with
Forbes that he could beat Tillerson in an IQ test. Trump met with Tillerson later that day at the WH. On Friday,
Corker called out Trump for his effort to disempower Tillerson saying: “You cannot publicly castrate your own secretary of state without giving yourself that binary choice.”
CNN’s Fareed Zakaria said, “ It’s very clear now that we essentially have no diplomacy going on in the United States,” adding the way Trump has treated Tillerson is “the most dramatic example of it.” On
CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Parscale claimed he fine-tuned ads on Facebook to directly reach voters with the exact messages they cared most about. He also claimed he handpicked Republican Facebook employees to help.
Daily Beast reported the Kremlin recruited two black video bloggers, Williams and Kalvin Johnson, to produce incendiary YouTube videos calling Hillary a racist. The videos were spread on social media platforms.
WAPO reported Google has uncovered evidence about $100k of ads purchased by Russian agents to spread disinformation on across the company’s many products, including YouTube, during the 2016 election. Google said the
ads do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-linked troll farm that bought ads on Facebook. Some ads touted Trump, Sanders and Stein, while others aimed to fan the flames of divisive issues. Nunes, who recused himself as Chair of the House Intel Comm’s Russia probe,
unilaterally signed off on subpoenas to Fusion GPS, the research firm that produced the Steele dossier. Democrats were not consulted.
Reuters reported Grassley, the Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary Comm, is also taking steps to discredit the dossier according to Democrats on the committee. Carter Page told the Senate Intel Comm that
he will not cooperate with any requests to appear before the panel on Russia, and will plead the Fifth.
Daily Beast reported the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is looking at Cambridge Analytica’s work from the Trump campaign as part of its Russian probe. Cambridge Analytica, which has
ownership ties to the Mercers and Bannon, was brought in to help the campaign by Kushner. The company is also under investigation in the UK watchdog for its role in Brexit.
NYT reported Israel caught Kaspersky Lab working with the Russian government to search the world for US secrets, using Kaspersky software to scan for classified words. Kaspersky software is used by 400MM people.
WSJ reported that Russia’s use of the Kaspersky program to spy on the US is broader and more pervasive than the operation against one individual in Week 47. Trump continues to deny Russian meddling in the US election.
POLITICO reported as part their posture to cooperate, Trump’s attorneys may offer Mueller a meeting with Trump. If Mueller doesn’t ask by Thanksgiving, attorneys may force the issue by volunteering his time. Legal experts were
surprised by Trump’s lawyers strategy noting Trump would be speaking under oath and he routinely distorts facts, and that Trump would be interviewed in connection with a criminal investigation.
CNN reported Russian operatives used YouTube, Tumblr and even Pokémon Go as part of their effort to interfere in the election, using a campaign titled “Don’t Shoot Us” to spread a divisive message.
NBC reported Manafort had a previously undisclosed $26MM loan from Deripaska through a series of transactions. It is unclear if the $26MM is a loan or an indirect payment from the Russian oligarch. The loan brings the
total financial relationship between Manafort and Deripaska to $60MM over the past decade, according to financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.
Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni, initially responded to including: “Mr. Manafort is not indebted to former clients today, nor was he at the time he began working for the Trump campaign.” NBC with a statement Maloni’s statement was
later revised and that sentence was removed. Both Manafort and Maloni have received subpoenas to supply documents and testimony in the Mueller probe.
Yahoo reported Andrew Feinberg, fmr correspondent for Sputnik, provided a guide and emails to FBI investigators looking into possible violations of the law which requires agents of foreign nations to register with the DOJ. Further, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is investigating
in the broader probe into Russia’s election meddling. RT and Sputnik as possible parts of the Russia state run propaganda machine On Friday
, Mueller’s team interviewed Trump’s former chief of staff, Priebus. Priebus’ lawyer said he voluntarily met with investigators and “was happy to answer all of their questions.” Priebus was
present during Trump’s efforts to limit the Russia probe, and for discussions that led to the firing of Comey. He was also asked to leave the Oval Office before the infamous Trump-Comey conversation.
POLITICO reported Twitter deleted tweets and other user data of potentially irreplaceable value to investigators in the Russia probe. Federal investigators believe
Twitter was one of Russia’s most potent weapons. Bots and fake accounts launched recurring waves of pro-Trump, anti-Clinton story lines that were either false or greatly exaggerated.
AP reported Twitter has turned over 201 accounts linked to Russian attempts at influencing the 2016 election to Senate investigators. It is unclear if the posts associated with these accounts have been deleted.
CNN reported an attorney for Roger Stone said he has complied with the House Intel Comm request to provide the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks’ Assange.
WSJ reported Congressional investigators are homing in on connections between the Trump campaign, and Facebook and Twitter. Digital director Parscale was paid $88MM during the campaign, the highest paid vendor. Every
vendor that worked with Parscale on the Trump campaign signed a nondisclosure agreement, and there are no federal disclosure requirements for online ads. Both Congress and Mueller are investigating the role activity on Facebook and Twitter played in the 2016 election, and
whether the Russian social-media activity was in any connected to the Trump campaign. A Morning Consult poll found
Trump’s approval has fallen in every state since he took office. The swings were as high as 30 percentage points in blue-states IL and CA, to 11 points in red-state LA. A
Reuters/Ipsos poll found Trump’s popularity is eroding in small towns and rural communities: in September 47 approve/47 disapprove, down from 55/39 in his first four weeks in office. WAPO reported as of October 10, Trump’s
first 263 days in office, he has made 1,318 false or misleading claims. The Brookings Institute released a 108-page report which
concluded Trump “likely obstructed justice” in his firing of Comey. If Mueller agrees, there are legitimate articles of impeachment that could be drawn up. In a letter to Mattis,
over 100 Democrats are demanding proof that Trump did indeed consult with the Pentagon as he claimed in a tweet, prior to announcing his ban of transgender individuals from military service. A Kaiser Foundation poll found
62% of Americans say Puerto Ricans aren’t getting the help they need. 76% were aware Puerto Ricans are US citizens. On Thursday, in a series of tweets,
Trump threatened to abandon Puerto Rico’s recovery effort, blaming the island for its infrastructure problems and saying and relief workers would not stay “in P.R. forever.” The
tweets follow harsh criticism from Puerto Rico of the Trump regime’s response to Hurricane Maria. One Puerto Rican said, “He doesn’t think of us as Americans.” Trump also quoted a Sharyl Attkisson, a television journalist with Sinclair Broadcasting, in saying that
while Puerto Rico survived Hurricane Maria, now “a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.” Later Thursday,
the WH issued a statement committing “the full force of the U.S. government” for now, but adding “successful recoveries do not last forever.” At a House Energy and Commerce hearing about efforts to rebuild the island’s energy grid,
Sec Perry referred to Puerto Rico as a country. Next day, Trump referred to the
Virgin Islands’ governor as a president.
VOX reported although the official death count in Puerto Rico is 45, they found 81 death linked to Hurricane Maria, as well as 450 more reported deaths, most of causes still unknown, and 69 still missing. Puerto Rico’s governor said
four deaths are being investigated as cases of leptospirosis, a disease spread by animals’ urine through contaminated water. A total of ten people have come down with the disease. Rachel Maddow reported a doctor resigned from the disaster response team in Puerto Rico after
seeing medical workers getting manicures and pedicures from residents of the island in medical triage tents.
NYT reported on Puerto Rico’s health care is in dire condition, and continues to suffer from mismanagement. The US Comfort ship with 800 medical personnel which can serve 250, has seen 82 patients in six days.
CNN reported Puerto Ricans are drinking water from a hazardous-waste site, having no other options for water. A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll found just
32% of registered voters think the federal government has done enough to help Puerto Rico.
Bloomberg revealed one of its reporters was inadvertently put on the Pentagon’s internal email list which detailed how to spin Hurricane Maria to convince the public that the government response was going well. On Thursday, Trump also signed an
executive order ending Obamacare subsidies for the poor. Not paying the subsidies could boost premiums for millions and send the health insurance exchanges into turmoil.
NPR estimated consumers who earn 400% of the federal poverty level — $48k for individuals or $98.4k for a family of four — will see their the cost of their plans rise by, on average, 20% nationwide. Doctors, hospitals, insurers, state insurance commissioners and patient advocates denounced Trump’s move. Trump actions
puts pressure on Congress to protect consumers from soaring premiums.
WSJ reported if Congress doesn’t succeed, WH aides said Trump “will claim victory” for ending the Iran deal, cutting billions in payments to health insurers, and deporting hundreds of thousands of immigrants. On Friday, a coalition of
attorneys general from 18 states and DC filed a lawsuit to block Trump’s halt to subsidy payments under Obamacare.
NYT reported as of Friday, Trump has taken 12 actions which could weaken Obamacare and curtail enrollment, including spreading negative news releases and posting infographics criticizing the health law. On Saturday,
Trump boasted on Twitter that health insurance companies’ stocks “plunged yesterday” after his steps to dismantle Obamacare. A Kaiser Health poll found
71% of Americans say the Trump regime should work to improve Obamacare, while just 21% say make it fail. On Friday, Trump slammed Iran as a “menace” and
called for “decertification” of the nuclear deal, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), saying Iran is “not living up to the spirit of the deal.” Trump sent the
deal back to Congress with a 60-day window to address its “many serious flaws” or see it “terminated.” Top officials on Trump’s national security team, including
Mattis and Tillerson said Iran has technically complied with its restrictions. The International Atomic Energy Association also confirmed compliance.
Daily Beast reported while McMaster also wanted to save the Iran Deal, Trump consulted Fox News’ Sean Hannity and fmr UN Ambassador John Bolton, two neoconservatives who pushed for decertification. The leaders of
Britain, Germany and France declared their commitment to stand by JCPoA. They deal was the culmination of 16 years of diplomacy. After being added to Trump’s travel ban,
Chad pulled its troops from the fight against Boko Haram in Niger. US officials had warned Trump his decision would have major consequences for the fight against terrorism. California’s deadliest wildfires charred more than 221,754 acres of land in Northern CA, and
left at least 35 dead and hundreds more missing. Trump has yet to publicly comment or tweet about the wildfires. Nor has Trump
publicly commented on the deadliest combat incident since he took office, which took place in Niger last Saturday while Trump was golfing. The ambush by ISIS left four soldiers dead and two wounded. As the week ended, 24 days after Hurricane Maria,
just 64% of Puerto Ricans had access to drinking water, and only 14.6% had electricity. Trump spent
his fourth weekend since Hurricane Maria golfing. On Saturday, he visited Trump National Golf Club in VA, his 72nd day of golf since taking office.
Artistic Expressions of PoLiTiKs found on the stReEts of New YoRk CiTy tHis moNth:
a print from Instagram
Week 47 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
October 7, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-47-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-4d2a98d43d18
This was a dark week for our country, with the unfolding humanitarian crises in Puerto Rico and USVI, and the deadliest mass shooting in modern history in Las Vegas. Trump’s tin-ear and lack of empathy to these events were conspicuous in his ominous “calm before the storm” statement Thursday.
Amid the chaos, major stories broke on Kushner and Ivanka’s use of personal email accounts, all of which were surreptitiously moved to a Trump Organization server. Mueller’s Russia probe continued full-steam, and news of a meeting with Christopher Steele indicated the dossier is likely being used as a roadmap. As with every weekly list, this week rights and protections were taken away from women and marginalized communities.
Despite the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, for a second weekend since Maria hit, Trump golfed Saturday and Sunday at Trump properties. DoD reported Saturday just
45% have drinking water and 5% have electricity. Late Saturday, the WH sent flattering readouts of Trump’s conversations with a former governor of Puerto Rico, and the governors of Puerto Rico and USVI.
Readouts are typically reserved for calls with foreign leaders. Trump sent his most tweets in a day since taking office on Saturday (25): continuing his manufactured battle with the NFL, and his attacks on the fake news and the Mayor of San Juan.
On Saturday, after his first tour of Puerto Rico, top general Jeffrey Buchanan, the DoD’s primary military liaison with FEMA, said
the damage there is “the worst I’ve ever seen.” Fourteen Democrats on the House Natural Resources Comm called for an
oversight hearing on the Trump regime’s handling of the Puerto Rico and USVI relief efforts. On Sunday night, in the
deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, one man who owned 47 guns killed 58 and wounded hundreds. Trump said the quick response of law enforcement was “ in many ways, a miracle.” In the aftermath of the shooting,
top trending stories on Facebook and Google promoted politicized fake news from unreliable sources like 4chanwhich claimed the shooter was a Democrat opposed to Trump. While refusing to the call the white male shooter a terrorist,
Trump referred to him as “a very sick man” and “demented.” The first bill Trump signed revoked Obama-era gun check for people with mental illness.
NBC obtained the Trump WH talking points distributed for the Las Vegas shooting. They include “thoughts and prayer,” “gather facts before making policy arguments,” and comparing it to Baltimore and Chicago murders. On Saturday, funding for
CHIP, the program which provided healthcare for 9mm children and pregnant women in low-income households, expired. No action was taken by Congress to renew it.
Two high school football players in Crosby, TX were kicked off their high school football team for protesting during the national anthem — one knelt and one for raised his fist. According to a reporter, at least
two NFL teams were said to be bowing to pressure by Trump, and plan to create policies requiring their players to stand during the national anthem. Joining Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the UAE, the
US voted against a UN Human Rights Council resolution that condemns the death penalty for consensual same-sex sexual acts. The resolution passed by a 27–13 margin. A judge in Texas ruled that
state officials would be violating state privacy laws if they handed over voters’ personal information to Trump’s Election Integrity Commission. The judge issued a temporary restraining order.
Trump’s DOJ is investigating affirmative action at Harvard. The revelation came to light after watchdog group American Oversight filed a FOIA request for information on affirmative action investigations at two schools. Brownsville, TX city commissioner
Cesar De Leon apologized after the release of a recording of his racist rant using the “n-word” about county and city officials. After initially refusing to, under pressure, he resigned.
BuzzFeed reported Trump regime lawyers asked a court to dismiss a lawsuit filed to halt Trump’s Transgender Military Ban, saying the Pentagon hasn’t finalized the details of the ban yet. Six transgender soldiers who are part of the lawsuit
say they have already suffered — their medical treatments have been canceled and their careers are being derailed — and hence they need immediate relief. On Wednesday,
Sessions rolled back an Obama-era policy which protected transgender workers from discrimination, saying “Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se.” On Friday,
Trump rolled back Obamacare’s birth control mandate, allowing any employer to cite religious or moral objections to covering the cost of birth control for employees under their healthcare plan. On Friday,
Sessions issued new guidelines which instructed federal agencies and attorneys to protect religious liberty. The policy provides broad exemptions to discriminate against women and LGBTQ people.
ABC reported Sessions consulted with Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal advocacy group that champions conservative causes, ahead of issuing the new guidelines. After Gov Brown signed a law limiting cooperation between local police and ICE in CA, the Trump regime said it will go after undocumented immigrants and
likely pick up “collateral” they were not initially targeting.
Mother Jones reported according to documents released by a federal court, Kobach tried to roll back voter protection by amending the National Voter Registration Act: adding requirements to make it harder to register to vote. On Tuesday, 14 days after Hurricane Maria decimated the island, Trump visited Puerto Rico. He
praised federal and local officials for the response, but purposefully excluded the Mayor of San Juan.
Trump complained about the costs of helping Americans in Puerto Rico, saying “you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack because we’ve spent a lot of money.” Similar statements were not made about Texas or Florida. Trump
hailed the relief response as “incredible” and “great,” and bragged that “only 16 people are known to have died,” many less than Katrina. Hours later, the death count rose to 34. In an image that became symbolic of his trip to Puerto Rico and his lack of empathy for the people,
Trump went to a supply distribution point dressed in a dark suit, and tossed rolls of paper towels into a crowd. Oxfam took the unusual step of criticizing the US government.
Oxfam said it is “outraged at the slow and inadequate response” by the Trump regime in Puerto Rico.
Oxfam also announced it would be taking the rare step of intervening in an American disaster, pursuing its own two-pronged approach in Puerto Rico.
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is in Puerto Rico, warned that tens of thousands could die for want of insulin, blood pressure medications and antibiotics, as well as sweltering heat and lack of food and water. By Friday, the official death count in Puerto Rico reached 36, but as
NPR reported, the actual toll is expected to be much higher with uncounted bodies piling up in places that have no way to communicate. Rep Luis Gutiérrez, who traveled to Puerto Rico on his own expense, said the media reports are correct:
the island is a humanitarian crisis. Gutiérrez said the Trump regime doesn’t “want you to know the truth.”
WAPO reported FEMA removed statistics about drinking water access and electricity in Puerto Rico from their website on Thursday morning. Following a social media outcry,
the statistics were restored on Friday afternoon. Stats reveal progress is extremely slow. On Wednesday morning,
Trump said he would wipe out Puerto Rico’s debt, causing trading prices of Puerto Rico municipal bonds to plummet. Mulvaney dialed back: “I wouldn’t take it word for word with that.”
POLITICO reported on a third, previously undisclosed email account on Kushner and Ivanka’s private domain. The three accounts raise concern about the security of sensitive government documents. The third account has
hundreds of emails from WH addresses. In addition to Kushner and Ivanka, personal household staff had access to the account for scheduling purposes.
USA Today reported Kushner and Ivanka’s personal emails were redirected to Trump Organization server 2–3 days after public disclosure about the existence personal emails. The move also comes
shortly after Mueller asked the WH to turn over records related to his investigation of Russia’s interference in the election. Cummings asked the FBI to
investigate whether Kusher and Ivanka exposed classified information through their use of personal email and transfer to Trump Organization servers. The
US Official of Special Counsel found Ambassador Haley violated the Hatch Act by promoting a House candidate on Twitter. Haley was given a warning. The investigation follows a complaint filed by CREW in June.
WAPO reported, back in August, Trump saw an article about Republican-controlled Iowa requesting federal permission to fix its Obamacare markets. Trump’s instruction was, “Tell Iowa no.” Trump’s
HHS taken many steps to suppress sign-ups for Obamacareincluding slashing grants for groups that help consumers, cutting the enrollment period in half, and reducing the advertising budget by 90%.
McClatchy reported Kushner and Ivanka were both fined $200 for missing deadlines to submit financial reports required by government ethics rules. This is Kushner’s second time being fined for late filings. After receiving an 18-day filing extension,
Kushner has made changes to his financial disclosure forms 39 times. In many cases, those changes were in response to questions from the OGE. Eli Miller,
Mnuchin’s chief of staff, flew in hedge fund billionaire Nelson Peltz’s private jet to Palm Beach. The Treasury Department’s inspector general office has launched an inquiry.
BuzzFeed reported the US intelligence unit of Mnuchin’s Treasury Dept has been violating domestic surveillance laws by spying on financial records of US citizens and companies. The
Interior Dept’s inspector general opened an investigation into Zinke’s travel, including his use of taxpayer-funded charter and military planes, and his mixing of official trips with political appearances.
NYT reported on Pruitt’s schedule: almost every day he has multiple meetings, sessions or speaking engagements with top corporate executives and lobbyists of the industries the EPA regulates, but rarely does he meet with environmental groups or consumer or public health advocates.
POLITICO reported, in a closed-door meeting with wealthy donors, Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers floated the idea of a “purge” of anti-Trump Republicans, saying they are blocking Trump’s legislative agenda. A federal judge in Phoenix
dismissed the criminal case against Arpaio and accepted Trump’s pardon. In a blistering 14-page ruling, she held off on ruling on Arpaio’s request to throw out all orders in the case.
Mother Jones reported 10-months in, Trump still hasn’t appointed someone to the job of National Protection and Programs Directorate, a position charges with protecting our elections from cyberattacks. In a letter to the WH, Cummings, the top democrat of the House Oversight Comm, asked
Kellyanne Conway, known to have traveled with Price, to provide documentation related to all her non-commercial flights.
Reuters reported Energy Sec Perry took a charter flight from PA to OH the day before Price resigned. Commercial alternatives were available.
WAPO reported Transportation Sec Chao used government planes seven times including days trip to cities within an hour of DC, as well as for trips to France and Italy which cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
NYT reported Mnuchin traveled on military jets seven times at a cost of more than $800k. The investigation by the OMB found while he broke no laws, Mnuchin gave loose justifications for the costly flights.
Donald Jr. has delivered several speeches, earning as much as $100k per speech. His speeches raise ethics violation and conflict of interest concerns, especially as related to access to the WH. Trump’s Interior Dept
rejected 25 petitions to list a variety of species as endangered or threatened, including several linked to climate change. Trump has yet to nominate a director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. In response to a FOIA lawsuit, the
Secret Service said it does not have a complete Mar-A-Lago visitor log. All the Secret Service has turned over so far is a one-page listing of 22 Japanese officials. Joel Clement, an
Interior Dept executive turned whistleblower who claimed the Trump regime retaliated against him for disclosing how climate change affects Alaska Native communities, resigned Wednesday.
Guardian reported, in what may be a watershed case, US professor David Carroll is suing Cambridge Analytica in British Courts to ask for his personal data back. UK law allows for such requests, unlike US law. On Monday, Facebook shared that
Russian purchased $100k worth of ads which reached about 10mm Americans. More than half the ads were seen after the election, indicating Russia continues to meddle in US politics.
WAPO reported on research by social media analyst Jonathan Albright which found Russian propaganda on Facebook may have been viewed by hundreds of millions, perhaps many billions.
WSJ reported after internal debate, Facebook decided to scrap mention of Russia in a public report released on April 27 about manipulation of its platform during the 2016 election. Instead, in a significantly
shortened report, Facebook blamed “malicious actors.” It is unclear how much Facebook knew at the time. Not until September 6 did Facebook identify Russia as the source of interference.
Fast Company reported that after finding suspicious accounts on Instagram and calling Facebook to confirm, Facebook updated its blog post to clarify about 150 political ads sold to Russia showed up on Instagram.
CNN reported Russian operatives targeted MI and WI with Facebook ads. Some of the ads were highly sophisticated in their targeting of key demographic groups in areas of the states that turned out to be pivotal.
Trump won both states by under 1%: MI by 10.7k of 4.8mm votes cast and WI by 22.7k votes. Congressional investigators want to know if Russia had any assistance from the Trump campaign.
WSJ reported on the most significant security breaches in years: in 2015 Russian hackers stole NSA data. The breach could enable Russia to evade NSA surveillance and infiltrate US networks. The breach is the
first confirmed time Kaspersky software was exploited by Russian hackers. As noted in Week 34, Kaspersky was trained at a KGB-sponsored technical school and worked in Russian military intelligence.
POLITICO reported Trump loyalists are losing patience with multiple, continuing congressional Russia probes, saying they have distracted from his agenda and allowed Democrats to question the legitimacy of his win.
WAPO said these loyalists are pushing Republicans chairing committees to wrap up their investigations and make the scandal disappear. An interim press briefing by Burr and Warner on Wednesday was cited as an example.
Burr and Warner said they concurred with US intel’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. They also said the issue of collusion is still open. Burr and Warner also
detailed some threads of investigations including Russian efforts on social media, the April 2016 meeting at the Mayflower Hotel, and changes to the Republican Party platform.
Burr said they had “hit a wall” with the Steele dossier because the author would not meet with them. On Thursday, Rachel Maddow reported that Christopher Steele is open to meeting with the Senate Intel Comm. On Wednesday,
Reuters reported Mueller has taken over FBI inquiries into the Steele dossier as part of the special counsel’s Russia probe. On Thursday,
CNN reported Mueller’s team met with Steele this past summer. The broad assertion of the dossier, that Russia waged a campaign to interfere in the election, is now accepted by US intel. The CIA and FBI took Steele’s research seriously enough
they chose not to include it in the publicly released January report on Russian interference to avoid divulging the parts of the dossier they had corroborated and how. Three Russian
owners of Alfa Bank, Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan, sued Fusion GPS and its founder claiming their reputations were unfairly tattered by the dossier. The three sued BuzzFeed in Week 28.
Mother Jones reported Sen Wyden of the Senate Intel Comm does not concur with Burr’s statement that he can say certifiably there was no voter tampering. Wyden also questioned Burr’s handling of the investigation.
Daily Beast reported the Senate Judiciary Comm is not investigating Russian interference, but engaging in routine oversight of the DOJ. Sources include a staffer for Grassley, Republican chair of the committee.
WAPO reported Michael Cohen turned over documents to Congressional investigators and Mueller related to two, previously undisclosed contacts with Russians. These contacts are not related to Trump Tower Moscow.
Cohen and a business associate emailed weeks before the Republican National Convention, about Cohen traveling to an economic conference in Russia attended by Putin and his top financial and government leaders.
Cohen also received a proposal in late 2015 for a Moscow residential project from a company founded by a Russian billionaire who once served in the Russian parliament. Cohen maintains he never traveled to Russia.
Foreign Policy reported in a previously undisclosed meeting: Rep Rohrabacher met with Veselnitskaya in Moscow two months prior to the infamous June 9 meeting with Donald Jr.
POLITICO reported Trump lawyer Ty Cobb is putting the finishing touches on launching a legal defense fund to help mid-level WH staffers cover their legal costs related to Mueller’s Russia probe.
Newsweek reported Robert Mercer, Bannon-ally and part owner of Cambridge Analytica, donated $200k to the Republican Party legal defense fund the day Trump fired Comey.
The Atlantic revealed emails between Manafort and Kilimnik referenced in the WAPO story in Week 45. The emails suggest Manafort was extremely eager to please Russian oligarch Deripaska, and to get made whole. Kilimnik met Manafort on August 2 in NYC. Emails
prior reference important messages about the “future of his country.” Days before, Trump said “Wouldn’t it be a great thing if we could get along with Russia?” After Tillerson said Saturday he was reaching out to Pyongyang in hopes of starting a new dialogue,
Trump undercut him Sunday tweeting, I told Rex “he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.”
NBC reported Tillerson almost resigned this past summer after Trump’s Boy Scout speech. Days before that speech, Tillerson referred to Trump as a “moron” in a meeting with national security and Cabinet officials. After the report, Tillerson
pulled together an impromptu news conference to publicly praise Trump. Bob Schieffer described it as, “ not like a news conference, it was more like a hostage tape.” Corker, a Trump ally during the campaign who is retiring, in
a harsh rebuke of Trump, said Kelly, Mattis and Tillerson are the are the “people that help separate our country from chaos.”
The New Yorker reported shortly after Tillerson was confirmed, he met Trump at the WH, and Trump “began fulminating about federal laws that prohibit American businesses from bribing officials overseas.” On Friday,
for the first time in seven years, the US economy lost jobs. Expectation for September were to add 80k jobs, however 33k jobs were lost. Job totals from July and August were also downwardly revised. On Thursday, at a dinner surrounded by military leaders and their spouses at the WH,
Trump warned this is “the calm before the storm.” What he meant was unknown by even members of his staff. The mystery around his pronouncement continued on Friday when he was asked about the statement and
responded, “you’ll find out,” then winked. A September
AP-NORC poll showed Trump reaching his lowest approval yet: 32% approve, 67% disapprove. Trump’s approval among Republicans fell to 67%.
The poll also found just 24% think the country is headed in the right direction, 26% believe Trump is a strong leader, 23% view him as honest, and 16% say he is level-headed. One year after the infamous “Access Hollywood” video went public, women’s advocacy group
UltraViolet playing the footage, looping again and again, on a large screen on the Mall in DC for 12 hours straight.
ProPublica reported Ivanka and Donald Jr. were close to being charged for a felony fraud in 2012 for misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo. Their partners were Russians Felix Sater and Tevfik Arif.
Kasowitz contributed $25k to Manhattan DA Vance before a sit-down, and later donated $32k. The case was dropped. Felix Sater is a frequent subject of The Weekly List, including involvement with Trump Tower Moscow.
Breaking from the advice of Tillerson and Mattis, Trump is expected to decertify the landmark deal curbing Iran’s nuclear program. Iran has not breached the accord, but instead Trump claims the “spirit” of the deal.
HuffPost reported the Trump regime is preparing repeal the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era climate change policy which limits greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Trump has called the policy, “stupid.” Almost three weeks after Hurricane Maria, as just 12% of Puerto Rico had electricity and 55% drinking water, on Saturday morning,
Trump made his 69th trip to a Trump golf course of his 260 days in office.
Some graffiti on this sad situation around New York City this week:
Sticker by Australian street artist CRiSP. Placed on a “POTUS” poster at a bus stop.
Sticker in East Village
There’s an artist sending trump messages in fortune cookies. This one reminds trump that he SADLY lost New York. That’s gotta hurt.
So much of the graffiti related to trump is defaced because it appears most people can’t even stand to see his face. This one was covered with humanitarian facts. Better to look at than his face any day…
New York City. 28sep17
London, England. September 2017
London, England. sep17
Week 46 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
September 30, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-46-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-e23a6920c44b
This week the country turned to a humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, where 3.5mm Americans lack basics like water, food, medicine and electricity. At least 16 have already died. Trump seemed split between denying the crisis altogether, and blaming Puerto Rico, its officials and the media. The regime’s late and inadequate response to Hurricane Maria is the clearest fallout of Trump’s unstaffed federal agencies.
This week Trump’s regime came under increased scrutiny for blatant and irreverent kleptocracy. HHS Secretary Price was the first casualty from unfolding scandals of several regime members involving millions spent on chartered and military flights, and other wasted taxpayer money. Social media giants Facebook and Twitter also took center stage in the probe of Russia’s involvement with the 2016 election, and possible Trump campaign complicity.
At his UN speech on Saturday, N. Korea’s foreign minister warned that
a strike against the US mainland is “inevitable” following Trump’s mocking Kim Jong Un with the nickname “little rocketman.” An
ABC/WAPO poll found 66% see Trump as doing more to divide than unite the country. Just 37% trust Trump on his handling of N. Korea. Eight months in, the
ABC/WAPO poll found Trump’s approval at 39% (57% disapprove), the lowest approval level since Truman’s presidency.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported more than 120 people were forcibly arrested in downtown St. Louis by police cracking down on protests. Numerous innocent bystanders were swept up by police.
BuzzFeed reported DHS published new requirements for immigration files, including: social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results. The rules take effect October 18. The new policy will cover
not only new immigrants, but also green card holders and naturalized citizens. The policy will also affect US citizens who communicate with immigrants. In February, the Office of Inspector General issued a report which found the
DHS pilot programs for using social media to screen applicants for immigration lacked criteria to determine if it’s effective.
NBC reported the Trump regime wants to lower the number of refugees allowed into the US to 45k in 2018, down significantly from 110k in 2017, and lower than the State Dept’s recommended 50k in the travel ban.
Boston Globe reported 50 immigrants were arrested in MA as part of nearly 500 rounded-up nationwide in sanctuary cities and in the case of MA, a state that did fall in line with Trump’s aggressive deportation policies.
Reuters reported the number of immigrants without criminal histories arrested by ICE is up more than 200% since Trump took office. Trump’s
DOJ is demanding private account information for thousands of Facebook users in three separate search warrants targeted at anti-administration activists. Three activist leaders are named. One leader, Emmelia Talarico,
operated the disruptj20 page where Inauguration Day protests were organized and discussed. The page was visited by roughly 6k users. DOJ has also sought info from Dreamhost.
Daily Beast reported documents obtained under a FOIA request strongly suggest ICE agents are using private information obtained by NSA surveillance in their investigations.
POLITICO reported immigration judges sent to the US-Mexico border to speed deportations by Trump are finding their caseload nearly empty, while full caseloads back home are left unattended to.
Ten confederate flags posters with cotton attached to them were found at American University Tuesday night. Franklin Township in
Ohio, a state that wasn’t part of the confederacy, will reinstall a confederate monument taken down in the wake of Charlottesville. At the
Air Force Academy, after finding racial slurs scrawled outside black students’ doors, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria gathered all 4k cadets and told them, “You should be outraged not only as an airman, but as a human being.” House Republican Mark
Walker referred to his female colleagues as “eye candy.” After public condemnation, he said he regretted his “flippant remark meant to be lighthearted.” An article in
Columbia Journalism Review argued “given the surfeit of evidence,” including most recently Trump’s “castigation of NFL players,” it is appropriate to use the term racist about Trump. At a private dinner Monday night,
Trump sounded satisfied with his NFL feud, telling guests, “it’s really caught on.” David McCraw of the
Palmetto Restaurant and Ale House in Greenville, SC said his restaurant will ban all NFL games until protests end. In a letter to students and parents, the principal of Parkway High School in LA said
athletes must “stand in a respectful manner ” during the National Anthem, or risk losing playing time or being removed from their team.
Trump’s DOJ argued employees can fire people because of their sexual orientation. The DOJ inserted itself in a case opposing the EEOC which backed Donald Zarda, who was fired by Altitude Express for being gay.
BuzzFeed reported HHS announced, for the first time, the department’s ten regional representatives will not help states with planning for the upcoming open enrollment period of Obamacare. In a letter, Oklahoma officials blamed the Trump regime for rising health-care premiums after the
regime missed a deadline to approve a waiver that would have reduced premiums by 30% for 130k residents. Starting Wednesday and continuing,
Trump repeatedly blamed the failure of the latest GOP Obamacare repeal attempt on a US senator being in the hospital, confounding his own aides. No senator is in the hospital. On Monday, at a rally in Alabama for Strange featuring Pence,
campaign staffers informed reporters they couldn’t leave the pen to interview voters. On Tuesday, at a speech at Georgetown Law,
Sessions criticized US universities for being “politically correct” and infringing on students’ free-speech rights.
Students and faculty protested Sessions speech by taking a knee outside the speech; but ironically many were not allowed inside. Chuck Rosenberg, the
acting head of the DEA, resigned Tuesday, saying Trump has little respect for the law. Rosenberg has served under both W. Bush and Obama, and served twice as Comey’s chief of staff.
POLITICO reported even after departures of many Trump aides this summer, many who remain are reaching out to headhunters, lobbyists, and GOP operatives for help in finding new jobs.
USA Today reported information on Ivanka’s China supply chain has disappeared since she took a senior role in the Trump regime. Tracking data has vanished, leaving the identity of 90% of shipments a mystery. Ivanka’s business secrecy obscures
whether China is using business ties to try to influence the White House — and whether Ivanka could profit from Chinese government subsidies while destroying American jobs. On Monday, in a speech to an oil industry group, Zinke said
nearly one-third of Interior’s employees are not loyal to Trump. He also said he is working to make the department’s culture more business friendly. Zinke also added, without explanation, “
Fracking is proof that God’s got a good sense of humor and he loves us.” After campaigning for McConnell in KY in Week 45,
Gorsuch addressed a conservative group at the Trump Hotel DC amid protests and criticism for speaking at a venue that is the subject of several lawsuits against Trump. Sunlight Foundation reported
Trump National Golf Club in DC hosted the Turkish Airlines World Golf Cup in September, again raising Emoluments Clause concerns. The Turkish government owns 49% of Turkish Airlines.
WAPO reported at a private dinner Tuesday, Trump told attendees he thoughts his calling Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man” at his address to the UN would be seen as a compliment, not an insult.
POLITICO reported Kushner used a private email set up last December to communicate with regime members about government business. Kushner’s lawyer said
fewer than 100 emails were sent or received from January through August, but failed to address December, a month when Kushner had undisclosed meetings with Russians. On Monday,
NYT reported that six WH advisers (Kushner, Ivanka, Cohn, Bannon, Miller, Priebus) used private emails accounts to discuss WH matters, sparking charges of hypocrisy. While four advisers used commercial email services like Gmail,
Kushner created a domain, IJKFamily.com in December 2016 for he and Ivanka. On Monday, Rep Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Comm, announced
he is investigating Kushner’s use of personal emails.
CNN reported Kushner didn’t inform the Senate Intel Comm about the existence of his personal email account during his recent closed interview.
Burr and Warner wrote a letter to Kushner’s attorney instructing him to double-check that he has turned over every relevant document, including those from his personal email account, as well as any other email accounts.
POLITICO reported the WH launched an internal probe of private email use following . Of particular interest are Kushner and Ivanka’s use of a private email domain. POLITICO’s Sunday report
WSJ reported McGahn considered resigning last summer over lack of protocols for meetings between Trump and Kushner, and concern the meetings would be construed by Mueller as an effort to coordinate stories.
Reuters reported in a letter, McCain and Cardin cited that two months after signing it, Trump has not begun enforcing a law imposing new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. The letter also noted the Trump regime
has not yet provided information related to Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors required under the measure. That information is due tomorrow.
WAPO reported Obama met privately with Zuckerberg at a world leaders meeting in Peru on November 19 to warn him if Russian interference wasn’t addressed, it would get worse in the next presidential election.
Facebook contacted the FBI in June 2016 over concerns of Russian espionage after tracking a hacking group, but failed to recognize Russian operatives were pumping propaganda using ad micro-targeting.
WAPO reported Russian operatives used targeted messages on Facebook to exploit racism, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiments, and to sow chaos among Americans during the 2016 election. The divisive themes used by Russian operatives on Facebook
mirrored those used by Trump and his supporters on social media and on right-wing websites. Investigators are looking into the possibility of coordination.
BuzzFeed reported Bannon plotted to infiltrate Facebook by getting a spy through the company’s hiring process. The idea came from Chris Gacek, a former Congressional staffer who now works at Family Research Council.
POLITICO reported that in addition to Trump, Russian-funded Facebook ads also backed Stein and Sanders.
Daily Beast reported Russian operatives impersonated real American Muslims in a Facebook group United Muslims of America named after a real nonprofit, and shared fake memes about Hillary, McCain and more.
CNN reported Russian operatives bought ads on Facebook which referenced Black Lives Matters and targeted residents of Ferguson and Baltimore. The ads were meant to sow discord among Americans. Congressional investigators are examining the
sophisticated targeted by the Russian operatives, and questions arise on whether they knew how to target their ads because of collusion with the Trump campaign.
Paul Horner, a leading purveyor of fake news during the 2016 election, was found dead of an apparent drug overdose. He was 38. Horner told WAPO in 2016 he thought Trump won the White House because of him.
Mother Jones reported on a new study which found Russia concentrated million of fake news tweets to 27 states, 12 of which were swing states including PA, MI and FL where Trump narrowly won. In a Facebook post,
Zuckerberg said he was wrong to dismiss the notion of fake news and its impact on the election: “Calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it. This is too important an issue to be dismissive.” In explaining
why Trump hasn’t been suspended from Twitter despite violating the company’s guidelines relating to threats of violence (against N. Korea), the company cited his tweets’ “newsworthiness.”
NYT reported Russian operative relied heavily on Twitter to influence the 2016 election. The platform was used for large-scale automated messaging using “bot” accounts to spread false stories and promote news articles. Russian operatives’ use of Twitter continues, including this week when a network of accounts activated around Trump’s admonishment of the NFL.
These accounts continue to identify divisive issues and fan the flames. Twitter met with House and Senate investigators who are probing Russian interference.
The company found roughly 200 accounts believed to be tied to the same Russian operatives who bought ads on Facebook. Twitter handed over copies of all sponsored tweets purchased by Kremlin-backed news agency
RT. Twitter said RT spent $274k on ads in 2016. Warner said he wasn’t satisfied with Twitter’s Senate Intel Comm briefing, saying it was “
frankly inadequate on almost every level.”
WSJ reported Google is conducting a broad internal investigation to assess whether Russian operatives used its ads or services to try to manipulate voters. The company is also talking with Congressional investigators. On Tuesday, the
Trump regime denied a request by Puerto Rico to waive the Jones Act in order to ease shipping restrictions and help get fuel and supplies to the island. Trump had waived the act during Harvey and Irma. On Tuesday,
McCain asked the Trump regime to reverse course and waive the Jones Act to help the Puerto Rican people. On Wednesday, amid uproar, Trump said he was reluctant to waive the Jones Act, citing “we have a lot of shippers and a lot of
people that work in the shipping industry” who are opposed to lifting the act. Bowing to public pressure,
Trump finally waived the Jones Act on Thursday, announced through a tweet by press secretary Sanders. Lawmakers said
Trump’s 10-day Jones Act waiver is not enough for Puerto Rico. Several members of Congress are pushing for a one-year period. On Thursday,
AP reported despite DHS Sec Duke saying “the relief effort is under control,” Puerto Ricans say relief is failing them. A young mother of two said, “I have not received any help, and we ran out of food yesterday.” On Friday, while speaking about his tax plan,
Trump said Puerto Rico relief is hampered by it being surrounded by water: “This is an island, surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water.” Cummings, the ranking dem on the House Oversight Comm and Placket of USVI
called for an emergency hearing on Trump’s hurricane response to Puerto Rico and USVI. The Katrina hearing was cited as precedent. On Friday, the
general in charge of relief in Puerto Rico said there are “not enough” troops or equipment to place to help. On Friday, in a tear-filled plea to the media,
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said, “I will do what I never thought I was going to do. I am begging, begging anyone who can hear us to save us from dying.” On Saturday in a series of tweets,
Trump attacked the Mayor of San Juan for “poor leadership” and being “nasty.” Mayor Cruz tweeted asking people to focus on “saving lives” and not to be “distracted by anything else.” Trump also sent a series of tweet before and after his golf game Saturday
blaming the “Fake New Media,” working in conjunction with Democrats, for spreading disinformation and taking away the spirit of our soldiers. Trump also tweeted blame at the people of Puerto Rico during the week saying they “
want everything to be done for them” and that they were “ already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt.” Ironically, Trump’s
golf course in Puerto Rico filed for bankruptcy, listing assets of $9mm and liabilities of $78mm. The Puerto Rican government’s $33mm investment in Trump’s Coco Beach was completely wiped out.
WAPO reported on Trump’s “lost weekend” — after Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, Trump spent a long weekend (Sept 21–24) in NJ during which he and his top aides effectively went dark on Puerto Rico. It wasn’t until the following
Tuesday, September 26, that Trump addressed the situation in Puerto Rico. This after senior officials said on Monday, Trump “was becoming frustrated by the coverage he was seeing on TV.”
POLITICO reported Price combined business travel on government-funded private jets with personal travel, including a trip to St. Simons Island for he and his wife where they owns property, and a lunch with his son. On Thursday,
POLITICO reported Price also took military jets to Europe, Asia and Africa with his wife, costing taxpayers over $500k. In total, Price’s travel costs
exceeded $1mm since May. On Thursday, Price said he’d pay for ‘his seat’ and write a check for $52k. Late Friday, after
Trump said Price is “fine man” but that he “didn’t like the optics.” Price resigned late Friday joining an unusually long list of Trump regime firings and resignations.
WAPO reported the EPA is spending almost $25k to construct a secure, soundproof communications booth for Pruitt. No previous EPA head had a similar set up. Pruitt and his deputies have taken other steps to heighten security, including
having EPA staff members surrender their cellphones and other digital devices before entering meetings with Pruitt.
WAPO also reported Pruitt took charter and military flights that cost taxpayers more than $58k. The EPA’s inspector general announced a preliminary probe into Pruitt’s travels to Oklahoma at taxpayer expense.
POLITICO reported Zinke has taken several flights on private or military aircraft, including a $12k charter plane to his hometown in Montana, and two chartered flights for Zinke and his staff to the USVI in March.
WAPO reported Zinke charged taxpayers $12k for a flight on a private plane owned by oil executives.
WAPO reported VA Sec Shulkin took a 10-day, taxpayer-funded, trip to Europe in July with his wife. Shulkin had four days meeting, and the rest was spent on vacation including Wimbledon, a cruise and sight-seeing.
CBS reported Trump kids’ ski vacation to Aspen in March cost taxpayers more than half a million dollars, including $330k in security costs, $196k in lodging and tens of thousands in other expenses. On Wednesday, Trump launched his tax plan saying, ““I don’t benefit. I don’t benefit.”
NYT reported, based on two pages of his 2005 return, Trump could save more than $1.1bn under his new plan.
WSJ reported the Treasury Dept took down a 2012 economic analysis which contradicts Mnuchin’s take on corporate-tax cut’s winners.
CNN reported after months of being at odds, the IRS Criminal Investigation division is now sharing years of Manafort’s and Flynn’s tax returns with Mueller. It is not clear if Mueller has Trump’s tax returns.
CNN also reported the IRS Criminal Investigation division has been working with the FBI to investigate Manafort since before the election in probes that centers on possible money laundering and tax fraud issues.
ABC reported Mueller is investigating Russian-American money that flowed into the Trump campaign during the election. Three Americans with significant Russian business connections contributed almost $2mm.
POLITICO reported Pence sent his lawyer to meet with Mueller over the summer to express his willingness to cooperate in the Russia probe.
CNN reported Mueller could start interviewing WH staff this week, or possible next depending on scheduling.
Spicer hired Chris Mead, a high-powered criminal defense attorney, to represent him in Mueller’s Russia probe.
BuzzFeed reported Tillerson and Lavrov had a 45 minute private meeting. Under Sec Tom Shannon, US official for Europe Elisabeth Millard, and other US officials were excluded, and a full readout was not provided. After the candidate he backed in the Alabama, Luther Strange, lost the senate primary Tuesday,
Trump deleted his tweets supporting Strange. Roy Moore, the winner in Alabama who was backed by Bannon, is
so extremist in his racism, xenophobia and homophobia, many Republicans when asked simply claimed they had never heard of him. Corker, a Trump ally during the 2016 campaign,
became the second Republican to unexpectedly announce he will not seek re-election in 2018. A
Quinnipiac poll found 69% of Americans think Trump should stop tweeting from his personal account, and 57% think he is not fit to serve.
Trump waited four days to call Merkel and congratulate her on winning re-election. Merkel had called Trump on November 9, one day later. Fifty days after
Trump announced he was going to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency, he still has not made it official.
Week 45 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
September 23, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-45-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-bf4226b63a4e
Photo I took of a t-shirt through a shop window in Budapest, Hungary. September 2017
Artist Subdude. London, England. September 2017
London, England 09/17
Artist Subdude. London, England 09/17
Week 45 is the week of Paul Manafort — who now in retrospect, seems an even more odd choice by Trump for campaign manager. As Mueller zeroes in on Manafort and Flynn, almost every Trump campaign and WH staffers, past and present, is being drawn in to the expanding Russia probe. This week several regime members drew heat for unrepentant kleptocracy.
This week DHS informed 21 states they were targeted by Russia, strangely a year later and on a late afternoon on Friday. Trump, who benefitted from a slight approval rating reprieve courtesy of positive media coverage, continues to deny Russian involvement and to act erratically and unbefitting of the office on both foreign policy and domestic issues. Trump also continues to ignore what is shaping up to be a humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico.
In a series of
bizarre Sunday morning tweets, Trump referred to Kim Jong Un as the “Rocket Man,” retweeted a criticism of a NYT story, and retweeted two of his own tweets. Trump also retweeted a GIF of him
hitting Hillary with a golf ball in the head, sparking criticism for the violent imagery against a female political opponent. Elected Republicans remained silent. The original account of the golf GIF was
@Fuctupmind, whose Twitter feed is full of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ tweets. Trump began his
first UN remarks by mentioning Trump World Tower, “I actually saw great potential right across the street to be honest with you.” Trump threatened to “
totally destroy” N. Korea, and using his new nickname for Kim Jong Un, said, “Rocket man is on a suicide mission.” N. Korea’s ambassador walked out before Trump’s speech started. Trump also said, “
I will always put America first,” and urged other leaders to do the same. Several analysts compared Trump’s speech to the 1920’swhen traditionalist reacted to changing times by stoking hate of others.
WAPO’s Asia Pacific reporter noted Kim Jong Un’s regime tells N. Korean people every day that the US “wants to destroy them and their country. Now, they will hear it from another source” — Trump. On Wednesday, in an escalating war of words, N. Korea’s foreign minister likened
Trump to a “dog barking.” On Thursday, while threatening escalation,
Kim Jong Un called Trump a “mentally deranged US dotard.” N. Korea analysts noted it is unprecedented to have Kim Jong Un himself directly attack a US leader. On Friday, the
LA Times reported aides repeatedly warned Trump not to deliver a personal attack on Kim Jong Un at his UN speech, saying insults could irreparably escalate tensions.
Pew Research reported America’s image has suffered since Trump took office. In a survey spanning 37 nations, just 22% have confidence Trump is doing the right thing in international affairs, versus 64% for Obama. As tensions rise with N. Korea,
76% of S. Koreans and 72% of Japanese say they have no confidence in Trump to do the right thing in world affairs. Trump also blasted Iranian leaders as a “
corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy,” and said “the Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions,” and an “embarrassment” to the US. On Friday,
Iran showed off its new ballistic missile at a military parade in Tehran. President Rouhani said, “when it comes to defending our country, we will ask nobody for their permission.” At a bilateral meeting,
Trump praised Turkey’s authoritarian leader Erdogan, saying: “We have a great friendship.” Erdogan is the subject of international condemnation for his brutal crackdown on dissidents. State authorities in
NH are investigating the wounding of an 8 year-old biracial boy as a possible hate crime. The boy was pushed off a picnic table with a rope around his neck by teenagers. US Army recruiters are
canceling contracts with hundreds of immigrant recruits, exposing some to deportation. Recruiters claim the move is to eliminate onerous background investigations from the enlistment process.
Newsweek reported white supremacists are recruiting on college campuses. At University of Houston, flyers reading “Beware the International Jew” and “Imagine a Muslim-Free America” were hung around campus.
McClatchy reported the Trump regime is considering a policy which would fast-track the deportation of thousands of unaccompanied Central American teenagers who arrived at the southern border. More than 150k children who arrived at the southern border, escaping violence and poverty in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, would be
sent back when they turn 18, without seeing an immigration judge first.
NPR reported parents traveling within Texas to a hospital to get their two-month old a lifesaving operation were arrested and put into deportation proceedings. A hospital nurse may have tipped border patrol off. Under Obama, immigration agents avoided enforcement actions at hospitals, schools and churches.
The Trump regime rounds up people in the country illegally at those places, even if they have no criminal record.
Guardian reported Trump has assembled the most male-dominated government in decades, with 80% of nominations for top jobs in the Trump regime going to men. On Friday,
DeVos formally rescinded Obama-era policies campus sexual assault meant to protect victims, instead siding with men’s rights advocates. No formal policy was put in place, just a higher burden of proof.
WSJ reported as Trump’s temporary travel ban expired Friday, DHS may replace it with a targeted approach that will impact nine countries, only one of which is not majority Muslim. Trump has no business interests in the six already on the list, it is uncertain about the additional three. A triathlon scheduled to take place at Trump National golf course in NC, originally named “
Tri at the Trump” then rebranded “Tri for Good,” was canceled amid controversy. This would have been the race’s fourth year. WJAR-TV,
one of RI’s most watched television stations, said it is being forced by its owner Sinclair Broadcast Group to broadcast multiple programs favorable to Trump.
AP reported the Republican Governors Associations quietly set up a media outlet, “The Free Telegraph.” Critics called the website, which makes no mention of a being a product of an official party committee, propaganda. On Monday, Trump said
he was looking into staging a military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue for July 4th. On Wednesday, in a speech at a lunch with African leaders,
Trump praised the health care of Nambia, a nonexistent African country. Nicaragua announced it will sign on to the
Paris climate accord — leaving only Syria and the US outside it. Trump
blocked a woman with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on Twitter. Laura Packard had tweeted Graham-Cassidy would jeopardize the lives of people like her who rely on Obamacare exchanges for coverage.
AP reported lawmakers across the country introduced dozens of bills this year which would close or limit public access to a wide range of government records and meetings. The Trump regime has
removed links to taxpayer-funded climate data on the U.S. Geological Survey website. A search for “Effects of Climate Change” had 2,825 items in December and today has zero items.
WAPO reported that in a memo to Trump, Interior Sec Zinke is recommending modifying 10 national monuments created by Obama, including shrinking the boundaries of at least four.
Justice Gorsuch campaigned for McConnell in a speech in McConnell’s hometown on Thursday. In Week 21, McConnell passed the filibuster-ending “nuclear option” that allowed Gorsuch to get confirmed.
WAPO reported Democrats are introducing The Hotel Act, legislation which would ban federal officials from using taxpayer fund for travel expenses at Trump-owned properties or locales.
POLITICO reported HHS Sec Price used a private-jet for travel, breaking precedent. Price has been an outspoken critic of federal spending, and has developed a plan for department-wide savings at HHS.
POLITICO also reported Price traveled by private by private plane at least 24 times since early May, costing taxpayers more than $300k. Many flights were to conferences, so dates were known well in advance. The most frequent justification for chartered flights is lack of comparable options.
POLITICO found several commercial flight options at comparable times for five chartered flights Price took last week. WAPO reported according to a senior administration official,
the WH did not approve Price’s travel on chartered planes. On Friday,
WAPO reported the HHS Inspector General is investigating Price’s use of two dozen chartered flights in recent months.
ABC reported Treasury Dept investigators are also looking into a charter flight Mnuchin took from NY to DC on August 15 at a cost to taxpayers of $25k. There are ample flight and rail alternatives available for this route. For a third time, Republicans in the Senate tried to pass healthcare
without using regular order or trying for any bi-partisan support. McCain’s vote against these tactics will likely cause Graham-Cassidy to fail. The Trump regime continued to sabotage Obamacare:
HHS announced it will shut down the @HHSgov website for 12 hours during all but one Sunday in the remaining six weeks of open enrollment season. Jeff Mateer,
Trump’s nominee for a federal judgeship in Texas, in two 2015 speeches, described transgender children are evidence of “Satan’s plan,” and lamented that states were banning conversion therapy.
WAPO reported the EPA has spent $833k on Pruitt’s round-the-clock personal security detail over the past three months, doubling what was spent by his predecessors, and amid massive cost cutting for the agency. According to a copy of his schedule obtained by
WAPO, Pruitt met regularly with executives from the auto, mining and fossil fuel industries — in some cases shortly before making decisions favorable to them.
POLITICO reported a review of Trump’s pick for USDA hires reveals the agency is full of campaign staff and volunteers, many of whom have little or no federal policy experience or knowledge about agriculture.
Trump’s picks are also being paid above their pay scale. One former truck driver is being paid the highest levels on the federal government’s pay scale, a GS-12, earning $80k annually, although he has no college degree. Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo said he will need to
liquidate part of his children’s college fund to pay for specialized legal representation in the Mueller Russia probe. Flynn’s siblings launched a
legal-defense fund to help defray the costs of the Russia probe. The family will not disclose the identity of donors, raising concerns from ethics experts.
Reuters reported Trump is using money donated to his re-election campaign and the RNC to pay for his legal fees related to the Russia probe.
CNN reported the RNC spent $231k in August to cover Trump’s legal fees, paying personal attorneys Sekulow $131k and Dowd $100k. The RNC has also payed
nearly $200k of Donald Jr.’s legal fees for the Russia probe in August.
WSJ reported the Republican Party is funding Trump’s legal defense in the Russia probe with help from a handful of wealthy individuals, including a Ukrainian-born American with close business ties to Russian oligarchs.
NYT reported Donald Jr. has decided to forego his Secret Service protection, citing he wants more privacy. Jody Hunt, Sessions’ chief-of-staff and
Trump’s pick to be assistant AG of the DOJ’s Civil Division, was present at a key meeting between Sessions, Comey and Trump, at which Trump asked all but Comey to leave. Sessions new chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, said
Mueller’s Russia probe is turning into a “witch hunt,” and said Rosenstein should “order Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation.” On Tuesday, Senate investigators
canceled a meeting with Michael Cohen, saying he broke an agreement by releasing a statement and speaking to the media. NBC reports the committee will subpoena Cohen instead.
Guardian reported on the eighth person at the June 9 Trump Tower meeting: Ikray “Ike” Kaveladze, saying he is an associate of some of Russia’s richest and most powerful people. Kaveladze was involved in the 2013 takeover of Stillwater Mining by Norilsk Nickel, a Russian mining firm owned by an associate of Putin —
the first Russian company to take a majority stake in a US company. Kaveladze served on the new company’s board.
NYT reported on two Trump lawyers, Cobb and Dowd, overheard by NYT reporters while discussing over lunch a clash within Trump’s legal team over how much to cooperate with Mueller. Per the overheard conversation,
WH officials fear that colleagues are wearing wires for Mueller. NYT reported in the aftermath McGahn erupted at Cobb, and Kelly reprimanded him.
CBS reported FBI surveillance of Manafort during 2016 picked up conversations between Manafort and Russians about the campaign, and may also include conversations between Manafort and Trump.
WSJ reported Mueller’s team interviewed deputy AG Rosenstein about Trump’s firing of Comey in June or July. Mueller has independence on his investigation, but ultimately answers to Rosenstein. Rosenstein said Trump shrugged off any potential consequences for firing Comey. Rosenstein also
turned over the May 8 memo from Trump which outlined his rationale for firing Comey, to Mueller’s team.
CNN reported Manafort was wiretapped by the US government. The wiretap was first authorized by the special court that handles FISA warrants in 2014 when Manafort was the subject of a FBI investigation. The surveillance was discontinued late last year for lack of evidence, then restarted by the FBI under
a new FISA warrant for ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, which extended into early 2017.
NYT reported on aggressive tactics being employed by Mueller’s investigator against Manafort, including prosecutors telling him they planned to indict him as they searched his Virginia home. To get the search warrant,
Mueller’s team had to show probable cause that Manafort’s home contained evidence of a crime. To pick the lock, prosecutors had to persuade a judge Manafort would destroy evidence. Also of note:
Mueller’s team first learned of the emails between Donald Jr. and Russians to set up the June 9 meeting through NYT reporting.
WAPO reported Mueller has requested extensive records and email correspondence from the WH for 13 categories which investigators for the special counsel have identified as critical to their probe.
Mueller’s agents have zeroed in on Manafort and Flynn. Their past associates are being questioned on whether they tried to conceal consulting work that could have benefited foreign governments.
NYT reported requests relate to the areas of Flynn’s hiring and firing, the Comey firing, and Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak at which he said the Comey firing has relieved “great pressure” on him. Documents are also sought for communications with
Manafort, as well as Trump’s campaign foreign policy team: Carter Page, J. D. Gordon, Keith Kellogg, George Papadopoulos, Walid Phares and Joseph E. Schmitz. Other areas include
Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak, Spicer’s statements on Comey’s firing, and the June 9 Trump Tower meeting and the WH response to that meeting.
Axios reported Spicer’s colleagues say he filled “notebook after notebook” at meetings during the campaign and then at the WH. Spicer was known for keeping copious notes. When
Axios’s Mike Allen texted Spicer for a comment, Spicer responded, “From a legal standpoint I want to be clear: Do not email or text me again. Should you do again I will report to the appropriate authorities.”
WAPO reported that less than two weeks before the RNC Convention, Manafort made an offer in an email through an intermediary to give Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska a private briefing. Manafort and Deripaska had a
business relationship in which Manafort was paid as an investment consultant. Deripaska is one of Russia’s richest men, and someone Putin turns to on a regular basis. Manafort emails indicate he may have been
looking to get paid money owed by past clients using his role and influence as Trump’s campaign manager. An email in April asked, “How do we use to get whole?” Also of note,
Deripaska claimed Manafort siphoned off $19mm of funds intended for investments— for which Deripaska sued in US court. It is possible Manafort was looking to wipe that debt away. Also in email, Manafort communicated with Konstantin Kilimnik, his long-time man in Kiev who attended Soviet military school,
using code terms like “OVD” for Deripaska and “black caviar” for possible payments.
NYT reported in order to help defray his legal expenses, Manafort is working for allies of the leader of Iraq’s Kurdish region on a referendum on Kurdish independence from Iraq. The US opposes the referendum. As part of that work,
Manafort may leave the country and return to the region in the coming days for the vote.
NYT reported New York-based law firm Skadden, Arps has been asked by the DOJ for documentation related to work arranged by Manafort for Viktor Yanukovych, the Russia-aligned former PM of Ukraine. The work was part of
an effort to shield Yanukovych from international condemnation for his government prosecuting and convicting the former Ukrainian PM Tymoshenko without evidence and for political reasons. Skadden, Arps has returned half the $1.1mm in fees the firm received. It is
unclear if the document request relates to Mueller’s Russia probe, and its focus on Manafort. Former Trump campaign manager Lewandowski, while defending Trump, said he hopes
Manafort, Stone or any others on the campaign who colluded with Russia in 2016, “go to jail for the rest of their lives.” Mueller brought in Stephen Kelly, fmr congressional affairs chief for the FBI, to act as a liaison to Capitol Hill.
Kelly will be a point of contact and keep congressional investigators up to date on the special counsel’s probe.
Twitter will meet with the Senate Intel Comm next week relating to the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the US election. Bowing to pressure from lawmakers and the public,
Facebook will release 3k ads bought by a Russian agency to congressional investigators. Facebook also vowed to be more “transparent.”
Daily Beast reported Russians used Facebook to organize more than a dozen pro-Trump rallies in Florida during the 2016 election. The page for one such group, “Being Patriotic,” was closed by Facebook in August 2017. On Friday morning,
Trump defended Russia from Facebook ads as being a “Russia hoax,” while attacking Hillary, tweeting the greatest influence was “the Fake News Media “screaming” for Crooked Hillary Clinton.”
USA Today reported, according to the FBI, as many as 39 states had their election systems scanned or targeted by Russia. Several states are now considering switching back to paper ballots. On Friday,
DHS contacted election officials in 21 states to notify them they had been targeted by Russian government hackers during the 2016 election. This was the first time government officials contacted the states. DHS did not
make names of the 21 states public, citing privacy. , and wanting to know why it took DHS a year to inform them. Sen Warner called the delay “unacceptable.” BuzzFeedreported state officials are outraged
PA and WI, states with odd voting patterns which were the subject of recounts, were among the 21 disclosed as of Friday night. Officials in FL, another surprise on election night, said they were also a target of Russia. On Friday night, fmr DNI Clapper said
US Intel’s findings on Russia’s election interference “did serve to cast doubt on the legitimacy” of Trump’s victory, and expressed concern that Russian interference will continue. On Friday night in Alabama, at what was supposed to be a campaign rally for Sen Luther Strange,
Trump said of his support of Strange, “I’ll be honest, I might have made a mistake.” The campaign rally turned out to be a 90 minute rant, including Trump again
deriding Kim Jong Un, calling him “little Rocket Man.” Trump also said of Colin Kaepernick who took a knee in protest,
NFL owners should respond by saying, “Get that son of a bitch off the field.” The next morning, Trump tweeted about Stephen Curry, a member of the NBA Champion Warriors who
had expressed reservations about going to the WH: “Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” A
WAPO opinion writer described how Trump is making Americans sick: including rising blood pressure, a surge in mouth-guards for night-time teeth clenching and grinding, and unusually busy psychotherapists. Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, decimating the island and leaving 3.5mm without electricity for months. On Friday,
70k were evacuated over concern of a failing dam. Trump did little to mention or address this crisis. The Trump regime
plans to rollback Obama-era limitations on drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional battlefields.
Week 44 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
September 16, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-44-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-7fbc1a8d7e01
Front and center this week were reports on Russia’s use of social media to influence the US election, possibly with help from the Trump regime. As well, a slew of reporting continued to build the evolving mosaic of connections and quid pro quo between members of the Trump regime and Putin allies.
Trump’s short-lived pivot ended abruptly late in the week when he again evoked “both sides” on Charlottesville, then started an embarrassing tweet storm about a tragic bombing in London. An interview by Rachel Maddow of Hillary on her new book, provided a momentary pause and wake up call for how much our country has changed — both our global standing and government competency — under a leader who admires, and aspires to authoritarianism.
When asked about Hurricane Irma,
Trump took the opportunity to compliment the Coast Guard’s branding: “If you talk about branding? No brand has improved more than the United States Coast Guard.”
Axios reported according to an adviser, Trump finally realized: “People really f@&@ing hate me.” The adviser noted Trump’s need for affirmation may have led to his sudden embrace of Schumer and Pelosi. WH social media director Dan Scavino Jr.
tweeted then deleted a video, which he incorrectly attributed to Miami Airport during Hurricane Irma.
FP reported on growing concerns within the CIA that due to his personal beliefs, Trump ally Pompeo is rolling back the agency’s diversity mandate. In June,
senior CIA management abruptly canceled an event with the Matthew Shepard Foundation, in honor of their late gay son. Shepard’s death led to some of the country’s first federal hate crime laws. On Sunday, Trump announced his sixth wave of US Attorney nominations:
41 of the 42 were men. On Monday, Trump nominated six to become US attorneys.
All six where white men. Trump’s NASA nominee Bridenstine was quoted as saying the agency should be reorganized, and “
expansion of human knowledge” about space and Earth should be removed from NASA’s objectives. The UNC Board of Governors
approved a ban on litigation which effectively ended the civil rights center work benefitting low-income and minority groups at UNC’s law school. ICE arrested a 34 year-old father of two in Santa Fe,
using his younger brother, who was in HHS custody, as bait.
Phoenix New Times reviewed ICE arrest records and found that employees at two Motel 6 locations in predominantly Latino neighborhoods were alerting ICE on undocumented guests. After an outcry on social media,
Motel 6 said it would stop sharing guest lists, but has yet to acknowledge if this was only done at the local level, and to explain why employees were collaborating with ICE.
NYT reported the Trump regime is considering lowering the refugee quota to below 50k, the lowest level since 1980, and less than half the 110k admitted by Obama in 2016. An
ABC News affiliate reported DACA recipients are being detained for hours at Texas border checkpoints, with no explanation as to why. Border Patrol claim it’s new protocol. A federal judge in Chicago blocked
DOJ’s rules under Sessions which required sanctuary cities to cooperate with immigration agents in order to get public safety grants, like the COPS program in Week 43. In the wake of Charlottesville,
the Senate unanimously passed a resolution condemning white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups. The resolution called Heyer’s murder a “domestic terrorist act.” The resolution
urges Trump and his regime to speak out against hate groups, and called on the DOJ and federal agencies to use all resources to improve data on hate crimes, and address growth of hate groups. On Tuesday, the
House unanimously approved the resolution, and on Wednesday, press secretary Sanders said Trump “ looks forward” to signing the resolution. Instead, on Thursday, Trump
claimed that both sides were to blame in Charlottesville, repeating his charge that those who resisted the neo-Nazis and white supremacists were as much to blame as the alt-right crowds.
WAPO reported POLITICO’s editors warned staff on topics like physical attacks on journalists and white supremacy: “Try to stay away from those things because some of them are partisan.” Trump nominated
Eric Dreiband to lead the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. Dreiband testified against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and represented UNC in banning transgender people from using the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity. In her book “Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History,” reporter
Katy Tur detailed an unwanted kiss from Trump while covering his campaign. Tur said she was “mortified.”
Axios reported that according to an internal memo, the CDC is cracking down on employees communications with the press. The memo says not to speak to reporters, “even for a simple data-related question.” On Monday,
Trump’s DOJ said in a court filing that a judge should erase her finding that Arpaio violated a court order and was guilty of criminal contempt — a symbol of vindication. Two legal advocacy groups f
iled challenges to Trump’s pardon of Arpaio, saying it was unconstitutional because it undermines the power of the judicial branch.
Salon reported Trump has formed at least 49 new businesses since he announced his run for presidency, and continuing since he took office. He has done almost nothing to separate himself from his businesses.
McClatchy reported despite Trump’s pledge not to work with foreign entities, a construction company owned by the Chinese government was hired to work on Trump’s new golf club development in Dubai.
BuzzFeed reported Trump International Beach Resort in Florida has asked the government for permission to hire more temporary foreign workers. Trump has sought more than 380 H-2 visas since June 2015. Florida AG
Pam Bondi will start next week on Trump’s commission to combat the opioid crisis. In April, an ethics commission cleared Bondi of accepting a $25k donation from Trump at the same time she received a complaint on Trump University for fraud, which her office dismissed. In a September report on executive branch agency waivers and authorizations, the
OGE noted the WH has refused to provide information requested and to answer follow-up questions on secret WH waivers. The Secret Service released
just 22 of the visitor names to Mar-a-Lago in response to an April FOIA filing by CREW and two other groups. All 22 names were all related to Japanese PM Abe’s February visit The limited disclosure violated a federal judge’s
order to turn over all visitor names from Jan 20 — March 8, 2017. Trump has spent 25 days at Mar-a-Lago. CREW promised to head back to court.
WAPO shared a receipt sent to “National Security Council” from Mar-a-Lago, showing taxpayers were billed the “rack rate” of $1,092 for a two-night stay. Mar-a-Lago is 99% owned by Trump’s revocable trust. Derek Harvey, the
controversial former Mideast chief for the NSC who was fired by McMaster, is going to work for Nunes. At Trump’s behest, McConnell is
considering making the blue slip, a way for individual senators to block a nominees from their home states, advisory instead when it comes to appeals court nominees.
POLITICO reported, in a reversal of internal policy, OGE said WH staffers may accept anonymous donations from lobbyists to legal defense funds. Late Friday, after scrutiny from the
POLITICO story, OGE clarified its rules, saying contributions to legal defense funds from anonymous donors, as well as those from lobbyists and foreign governments, are unacceptable.
ABC reported Mnuchin requested use of a government jet to take him and his wife to their honeymoon in Europe, prompting an “inquiry” by the Treasury Dept’s Office of Inspector General.
CREW sued the Treasury Dept for documents relating to Mnuchin’s use of a government plane to travel to Kentucky with his wife Louise Linton. The Treasury Dept failed to respond to a prior request for disclosure. Trump’s Election Integrity Comm convened its second meeting in NH. Of note,
the list of witnesses included no people of color or women, but instead allies of Kobach and tarnished academics. Gizmodo reported on a document obtained from the DOJ which shows Sessions was
lobbied by Heritage Foundation to exclude Democrats, mainstream Republicans, and academics from Election Integrity Comm. The author of the letter from Heritage,
Hans von Spakovsky, participated in Kobach’s NH meeting, on a panel. Spakovsky has led the charge for strict voter ID laws for more than a decade. In a statement, Alan King, a
Democratic judge from Alabama on Trump’s Election Integrity Comm, criticized the commission for overzealous effortsto purge people from voter rolls in favor of more affluent voters.
ProPublica investigated the Election Integrity Comm’s use of emails and found no instructions or training has been given. Some commission members are using private email which violates federal law. On Monday,
Mexico withdrew its offer of aid to help Hurricane Harvey victims, noting Trump failed to send condolences to Mexico for a magnitude 8.1 earthquake and hurricane.
NYT reported that in a WH meeting, Kelly likened Mexico to Venezuela under the leadership of the Chávez regime, and suggested it was on the verge of a collapse which would have repercussions for the US. Despite an
ongoing DOJ investigation into Malaysian PM Najib Razak for misappropriating billions of dollars from a government fund he controlled, Trump invited him to the WH for a friendly visit. Najib has also been
criticized for human rights violations under his leadership. He and his entourage stayed at the Trump Hotel DC.
Yahoo reported Russian news agency, in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Sputnik, is under investigation by the FBI into whether it is acting as an undeclared propaganda arm of the Kremlin Andrew Feinberg,
Sputnik’s former WH correspondent, turned over emails to the FBI. Feinberg said supervisors regularly “would say, ‘Moscow wants this or Moscow wants that.’” Feinberg also told
MSNBC many of the popular articles from right-wing media outlets like on Breitbart, Infowars and Gateway Pundit and were prominently featured Sputnik’s website.
RT, the Russian state-owned outlet, said it will be required by the FBI to register as a foreign agent in the US, signaling their content will be viewed as propaganda of Moscow.
Russian journalist Latynina fled Russia with her family following a series of attacks. Latynina writes for an independent newspaper and Friday received a prize for defending human rights and freedom of the press.
Priebus and McGahn both hired lawyer William Burck to represent them in the Mueller Russia probe. POLITICO reported lawyers for
former and current Trump aides are advising clients not to lie for Trump. Lawyers are also warning clients that being connected to Trump won’t protect them from criminal charges.
WSJ reported some of Trump’s lawyers concluded earlier this summer Kushner should step down. Among their concerns were undisclosed meeting with Russians, and mentioning Mueller probe to other WH staff. Also knowing the June 9 meeting was yet to come out publicly,
lawyers had prepared talking points for Kushner’s resignation, blaming the toxic political environment and him being used as a weapon against Trump. Russian politician Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the Duma,
said on live TV that Russia stole the US presidency. The TV show focused on the US’s diminishing power on the world stage.
Daily Beast reported Russia used Facebook’s event-management tool to remotely organize and promote political protests, including an August 2016 anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rally in Idaho. The event was hosted by “SecuredBorders,” outed as a Russian front in March. When their Facebook page was taken down last month,
the group had 133k followers.
Former FBI agent Clint Watts noted this group is an example of the next step in Russian influence: “The second part of behavior influence is when you can get people to physically do something.” In the months leading up to the Idaho rally,
there were dozens of stories on right-wing websites like implying immigrants were taking over Twin Falls. Infowars and Breitbart
Business Insider reported on another Russian-link Facebook group: “Heart of Texas,” which had over 225k followers, and was taken down by Facebook last week. The group started by posting anti-Hillary memes, then became shifted as Election Day neared. Starting in November, “Heart of Texas”
organized a series of anti-immigrant, anti-Hillary rallies across Texas.
ProPublica reported Facebook enabled advertisers to target ads towards users who expressed interest in categories like “Jew hater” and “How to burn jews.” After ProPublica contact them, Facebook took these down.
Bloomberg reported that Russia’s effort to influence US voters through Facebook and other social media is a “red-hot” focus of Mueller, as well as possible links in that effort to the Trump campaign.
WSJ reported Facebook has given Mueller more details on Russian ad buys, including copies of the ads and details about the accounts that bought them and the targeting criteria they used. While Congress has the power to
subpoena Facebook for “basic subscriber records” and to call witnesses, Mueller’s search warrant compels Facebook to disclose much more detailed information.
Vanity Fair reported that Congressional investigators and Mueller are focused on whether any Americans helped Russia target social media to impact crucial swing districts and wavering voter demographics. In an interview with
Forbes after the election, Kushner bragged about the Trump campaign’s online efforts, and said he had a technology expert “give me a tutorial on how to use Facebook micro-targeting.” Questions also emerge about
possible ties between Kushner and Parscale to data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica, whose major investor is Robert Mercer, a patron of Bannon.
Senate Intel Comm ranking members Burr and Warner said they are likely to ask representatives from Facebook to publicly testify on Russia’s activity on their platform during the 2016 election. Sen Warner tweeted that groups linked to Russia which used Facebook to meddle in the 2016 election
paid in Rubles. A campaign finance reform group, headed by the former chair of the FEC Trevor Potter, said
Facebook was an “accomplice” in a Russian influence scheme, and called on the company to publicly release Russian ads.
BuzzFeed obtained a proposal delivered by a Putin diplomat to Trump three months into office detailing a wholesale restoration of diplomatic, military, and intelligence channels between Russia and the US. Members of the WH and State Dept did not dispute the authenticity of the proposal.
Delivering the proposal meant Russia believed Trump would not hold alleged 2016 election interference against them.
Daily Beast reported the Trump campaign has begun turning over documents to Mueller. The Mueller probe is broad, and it is treating the WH, transition team, and campaign as separate legal entities. At a press briefing Tuesday,
Sanders said the DOJ “should certainly look at” prosecuting Comey, claiming he had leaked privileged information to the media and offered false testimony to Congress. On Wednesday,
Sanders again said Comey, essentially a political opponent, should face criminal charges for leaking a memo to the NYT.
Sanders also said for her Monday tweet referring to Trump as “a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.” ESPN reporter Jemele Hill should be fired
NYT reported after Trump was told that Mueller was appointed, he berated Sessions in the Oval Office. Trump called Sessions an “idiot,” and said picking him for AG was the “worst decisions he had made.” Trump
blamed the Mueller appointment on Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the DOJ Russia investigation, and said Sessions should resign. Sessions said he would quit and sent a resignation letter. Sessions later told associates
the way Trump publicly demeaned him was his most humiliating experience in his decades of public life.
Flynn refused a new request to appear in front of the Senate Intel Comm. Flynn has offered to testify before both the Senate and House Intel Comms in exchange for immunity, but neither committee accepted the offer. Top Democrats on the House Intel and Foreign Affairs wrote in a letter that
Flynn concealed more than a dozen foreign contacts and overseas tripsduring the process of renewing his security clearances in 2016. The foreign contact information came from three private companies
advised by Flynn which were pursuing a joint venture with Russia in 2015 and 2016 to bring nuclear power to several Middle Eastern countries.
WSJ reported Flynn continued promoting the project after he took the position of NSA in the Trump regime, even after NSC ethics advisers directed Flynn to remove himself from the project.
Even after Flynn was fired by Trump, he continued to lobby the Trump regime on the project, including Cohn and Barrack, Jr. ahead of their May trip to Saudi Arabia.
NBC reported Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn is the subject of the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The inquiry is based at least in part on his work with Flynn Intel Group.
CNN reported the DOJ refused the Senate Judiciary Comm’s request to interview two top FBI officials — Carl Ghattas and James Rybicki – on the firing of Comey, citing Mueller’s ongoing investigation.
NYT reported Senate Judiciary Comm ranking members Grassley and Feinstein are considering subpoenaing members of the DOJ in their inquiry on Trump’s firing of Comey.
CNN reported Susan Rice privately told the House Intel Comm that she unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the UAE came to New York late last year. The New York meeting (
reported in Week 21) took place last December, and was attended by Flynn, Kushner and Bannon. In an unusual breach of protocol, the UAE did not advise the Obama administration in advance.
Shortly after in January, Erik Prince, brother of Betsy DeVos, attended a secret meeting in Seychelles, arranged by the UAE, with a Russian close to Putin, allegedly to set up a back-channel for communications.
WAPO reported DHS ordered all federal agencies to ban the use of a Kaspersky security software. Co-founder Eugene Kaspersky graduated from a KGB-supported school and worked in Russian military intelligence. The moves comes after the GSA removed the company from its approved vendor list,
suggesting a vulnerability exists with Kaspersky that could give the Kremlin backdoor access to the systems the company protects.
BuzzFeed reported that Flynn, Bannon and Kushner met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in NY days before Trump was inaugurated to push a deal which Flynn was advising on: nuclear power plants in the Middle East. An eye witness said
at least half-a-dozen other people were with the trio at the Four Seasons bar. Flynn failed to disclose the meeting in security clearance forms, and Kushner disclosed it only in his amended forms. As part of the for-profit deal, reactors would be built by
US companies and security would be provided by the Russian state-owned firm Rosoboron. Congressional approval would have been needed. In
February, Abdullah visited the WH and met with Trump, Kelly and Mattis. A statement afterward underscored that the US “is committed to strengthening the security and economic partnership with Jordan.”
Bloomberg reported at the time Veselnitskaya met with Donald Jr. at Trump Tower, she also represented real-estate company Prevezon, which was under criminal investigation for a money laundering case. In 2013, Bharara filed a civil suit against Prevezon. Sessions abruptly settled the case three days before trial in May for just $5.9mm.
There was no mention of the ongoing criminal investigation. Democratic lawmakers want to know if
the Trump team members put pressure on Sessions to settle the case after Bharara was fired.
Bloomberg said in the criminal case several countries and banks including Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, UBS and TD have supplied documents to the US to track more than $200mm that left Russia after a massive fraud.
Business Insider reported that in the Prevezon criminal case, grand-jury testimonies are at a key stage. Prevezon is owned by the son of a powerful Russian government official.
POLITICO reported Kyle Freeny, an attorney working on the DOJ’s highest-profile money laundering case, is joining Mueller’s team.
Democrats flipped two very pro-Trump districts in special elections: there was a 28-point swing in NH, and a 31-point swing in OK. Benevity tracked
a shift in donations made by Fortune 1000 US workers: ACLU went from #87 in 2015 to the top spot in 2017. SPLC went from #230 in 2015 to #17 in 2017. Early Friday morning,
Trump took to Twitter after a bombing in London: “Another attack in London by a loser terrorist,” and “Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner.” UK PM May publicly
alluded to Trump’s tweet, saying she never thinks it’s helpful to “speculate” on “an ongoing investigation.” Friday, McMaster tried to clarify the tweets, saying Trump was speaking “generally.”
Bloomberg reported PM May complained directly to Trump, saying she was unhappy with his response when he called to offer condolences. Joining his classmates at Yale,
185 of Mnuchin’s high school classmates from Riverdale Country School classmates called on him to resign.
WSJ reported Rohrabacher contacted the WH trying to broker a “deal” that would end Assange’s US legal troubles, in exchange for a computer drive or other data-storage device that he said would exonerate Russia. Kelly intercepted the call and advised
Rohrabacher the deal “was best directed to the intelligence community.” Kelly did not make Trump aware of Rohrabacher’s message.
AP reported that despite a pledge by the Trump inaugural committee to give leftover funds to charities, nothing has been donated. The group has helped pay for redecorating the WH and the Pence’s residence in DC. Trump’s inaugural committee raised
$107mm, a record amount and double what Obama raised for his well-attended inauguration. The amount of times to close out the books is also unusual.
Pence’s press secretary Marc Lotter resigned. It was unclear what his next move will be. Pence recently replaced his chief of staff. In an
Atlantic article, “How Trump Is Ending the American Era,” Eliot Cohen described the damage Trump has done, and continues to do to America’s global standing. On Friday, the
Pentagon issued new guidance clarifying that transgender troops currently in the military can re-enlist in the next several months. This is yet another example in past weeks of Mattis going against Trump.
Week 43 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
September 9, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-43-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-d1621f9224f8
This week the Mueller probe edged towards engulfing Trump’s entire inner-circle. Also of great import, Facebook finally admitted to the company’s role in allowing Russian bots to infiltrate our election. Speculation grew that a foreign entity influenced our election, and that the Trump campaign was complicit.
This week the Trump regime continued its assault on marginalized communities and women, rescinding DACA and taking away protections for victims of campus sexual assault. A second major hurricane illuminated the extent to which the Trump regime has already deconstructed federal agencies like the EPA and State Department.
Late Saturday over Labor Day Weekend, the
DOJ unceremoniously announced there is no evidence Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. Trump did not apologize to Obama for this frequently repeated, false claim. Trump visited Hurricane Harvey survivors in Houston seeking shelter at the NRG Center. While preparing to serve lunch, Trump said
his hands were “too big” to fit in the plastic serving gloves. As he left the shelter,
Trump told survivors, “have a good time everybody.” The Pentagon miscalculated the number of troops deployed the Harvey: command
said 6,300 were deployed, but the actual number was 1,638. On Saturday afternoon,
AP reported that while many ultra-polluted Superfund sites in Houston were flooded, and there was concern about toxins spreading, the EPA was not on scene. The EPA responded with a statement on Sunday, in which the agency
personally attacked the credibility of the : “Michael Biesecker has a history of not letting the facts get in the way of his story.” AP reporter The EPA said the Superfund sites were
inaccessible, but they had used aerial imaging in their assessments. AP reported its staff had used a boat, vehicles and gone on foot to reach seven of the sites.
WAPO reported the EPA has taken the unusual step of putting a Trump political operative, John Konkus, who has little environmental policy experience, in charge of dolling out hundreds of millions of EPA grants. The
GAO will investigate hiring practices by the EPA. Agencies are not supposed to hire industry lobbyists for two years, but the EPA allegedly skirted those orders using a provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Trump nominated David Zatezalo, a former chief executive Rhino Resources, a company which
repeatedly clashed with federal regulators over safety, to run the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Trump nominated Jim Bridenstine, a representative from Oklahoma who
has denied climate change and has no science credentials, to lead NASA. This is the longest in its history that NASA has been without a leader.
CNN reported ahead of his Senate confirmation, parts of Bridenstine’s online presence were scrubbed, including radio and video interviews, and Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts belonging to his campaign. Following a
nuclear test by N. Korea which unleashed a 6.3-magnitude tremor Saturday, on Sunday, Trump was openly critical of S. Korea, tweeting, “their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work.”
NYT reported Trump’s antagonistic comments recently have made S. Korea question their alliance with the US, which stretches over 67 years. Later that day, Mattis addressed the press and said, “
our commitments among the allies are iron-clad.” Mattis repeated that commitment in a statement on Wednesday. This marked the third time in a week that Mattis’s message has differed from Trump (see Week 42), in addition to his statement to troops in Week 42 about upholding American values in the era of Trump.
WSJ reported that nearly 400 EPA employees have left in recent days, leaving the agency with its lowest staffing in almost 30 years. The Pentagon
dramatically scaled back the number of reporters traveling with Mattis overseas to just six: one wire service, one newspaper, a radio pool reporter, and a three-person pool television crew.
AP, the oldest and largest American wire service, which provides news to thousands of print and broadcast clients and has traveled with the defense secretary for decades, will not be included in all trips. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
narrowed the scope of Trump’s second Muslim Ban, ruling extended family members are exempt. The Trump regime filed papers with the
Supreme Court in support of a Christian baker in Colorado, who a state court ruled against for refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The
US Commission on Civil Rights issues a letter denouncing Trump’s pardon of Arpaio, citing Arpaio’s repeatedly violating the of civil rights of Latinos and defying a federal court order, amongst other violations.
Trump’s DHS planned a massive nationwide raids to target 8,400 undocumented immigrants, described as “the largest operation of its kind in the history of ICE” for later this month.
NBC reported the “massive roundup” plan was canceled late Thursdaydue to Hurricane Irma and damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. Sessions announced
nonsanctuary jurisdictions would get “priority consideration” in a grant program called COPS. While Obama had used to the program to promote trust between officers and community, Sessions and Trump are using it to crackdown on immigrants. On Thursday, at the same time as Donald Jr.’s senate testimony,
DeVos said she will roll back Obama-era directive on campus sexual assault at a speech at George Mason University. She did not take any questions. DeVos said she would develop a replacement that she said would do a better job of “
balancing the rights of victims and the accused.” Men’s rights advocates applauded DeVos for listening to their side. On a call with survivor advocates Friday,
Biden said DeVos “does not speak for the American people,” and called on advocates to meet with college and university administrators and “demand they step up.”
CBC News reported on a spike in international undergraduate and graduate applications to Canadian universities in the wake of Trump. As part of the NAFTA negotiations,
Canada demanded that the US end its “right to work” laws in place in some states. Canadian officials say these laws gut unions by starving them of money.
ACLU reported ICE has asked the National Archives and Record Administration for permission to begin destroying 11 types of records, including those related to sexual assaults and solitary confinement. A Republican in the House referred to a female colleague challenging his amendment as “young lady” and said
she “doesn’t know a damn thing what she’s talking about.” He later apologized. The
FBI will probe the brutal arrest by Utah cops of a nurse who followed hospital policy and refused to draw blood (Week 42). In Iowa, a photo of
five high school boys in wearing KKK hoods and burning a cross circulated on social media. The boys were suspended. Rachel Maddow ran a segment on how
Trump has given white nationalists like Bannon and the alt-right a path to power. An
Atlantic piece, “ Donald Trump is the First White President,” spoke of Trump’s white support, the undertones of racism successfully harnessed in his campaign, and his obsession with the negation of Obama’s legacy.
USA Today investigated membership in Trump’s clubs and traced 4,500 members. For the first time in US history, wealthy people have close access to a president as a result of payments that enrich him personally.
USA Today found membership includes 50+ executives whose companies hold federal contracts and 21 lobbyists and trade group officials. Two-thirds played on a Trump course one of the 58 days he was there. Republican leaders
prevented a vote on a bill in the House which would have banned federal spending at Trump businesses. Rep Pascrell’s motion to
demand Trump release his tax returns was voted down 21–14 in the House Way and Means Comm, helping Republicans avoid a more public vote in the full House. This breaks a 40-year precedent of presidents making their tax returns public. The
GAO will investigate Zinke’s threat to withhold support for Alaska over Murkowski’s Obamacare repeal vote. In Week 42, the OIG closed its investigation after the two Alaska senators refused to participate. A lawsuit filed against Trump’s Election Integrity Commission alleges that at least two members are
using personal emails for office business. Kobach authored an article at
Breitbart claiming out-of-state voters changed the outcome of the NH senate race in 2016. This claim is false. Kobach and the Election Integrity Comm will arrive in NH next week to discuss, among other things, “
election integrity issues affecting public confidence.” NH Senators Shaheen and Hassan
issued a statement condemning Trump’s Election Comm for misleading the public. They also called on NH’s Secretary of State to resign from the commission. Heading back from summer recess,
WSJ reported on the unusually strained relations between Trump and Republicans, saying Trump invited leaders to Bedminster, “but they were unable to coordinate schedules.”
NYT reported as late as an hour before the DACA decision was announced on Tuesday, administration officials expressed concern that Trump didn’t fully grasp the details of rescinding DACA or its impact. Instead of facing the public, Trump sent Sessions to speak to the press on Tuesday to be the face of ending DACA. Sessions claimed DACA was “
deemed illegal by, I think, just about every legal expert.” Javier Palomares, the
CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, resigned from Trump’s National Diversity Coalition over Trump’s decision to end DACA. A
POLITICO/Morning Consult poll found just 15% believe DACA should be rescinded, while 76% believe Dreamers should be allowed to stay. On Tuesday, in a nighttime tweet,
Trump signaled he may be open to changing his mind on DACA, saying if Congress can’t pass something in six months, “I will revisit this issue!” The
US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement denouncingTrump’s decision to end DACA. Bannon told
CBS’s “60 Minutes” he disagrees with Trump on ending DACA, but blasted the US Conference of Catholic Bishops saying they are opposed to DACA because “they need illegal aliens to fill the churches.”
VOX noted despite Trump’s tweet, the government is already winding down DACA, as the Trump regime is no longer accepting new applications from young immigrants. On Thursday,
Trump again tweeted his assurance to Dreamers, falsely claiming if you “are concerned about your status during the 6 month period, you have nothing to worry about — No action!”
CNN estimated 983 undocumented immigrants per day will lose protection they previously enjoyed under DACA, as the two-year tenure of their status expires. At an Oval Office meeting on Wednesday, after Republican leaders and Mnuchin advocated for a 18-month hike for the debt ceiling,
Trump unexpectedly sided with “Chuck and Nancy” for a three-month hike. Later at a rally in North Dakota,
Trump called Democratic senator Heitkamp, who is running for re-election, a “good woman,” and said, “these are great people. They work hard. They’re for you 100 percent.” On Wednesday, after months of denying Russia had purchased advertisement there,
Facebook issued a bland headline, “An Update On Information Operations On Facebook,” admitting this wasn’t true. Facebook told Congressional investigators Wednesday that
the company sold $100k of advertisement to Internet Research Agency, a “troll farm” in St. Petersburg with a history of pushing pro-Kremlin propaganda. Facebook reported that
roughly a quarter of the ads were “geographically targeted.” The ads focus was to amplify divisive issues like LGBT matters, race issues, immigration and gun rights.
Daily Beast calculated that $100k in Facebook ads could have reached as many as 70 million users if amplified in a sophisticated manner.
NYT reported on the sophisticated ways “troll farms” manipulated and disseminated news on Facebook and Twitter during the 2016 election. Former FBI agent Clint Watts called it a “bot cancer eroding trust.”
NYT also found some of the most aggressive and misogynistic Bernie Sanders supporters were actually Russian bots and trolls A
WAPO columnist speculated that Trump would not have won without the help of an organized Russia attack on Facebook. A NYT op-ed decreed: “ Facebook Wins, Democracy Loses.”
Reuters reported Facebook turned over data to Mueller about Russian involvement, including copies of advertisements and data about buyers. Mueller is probing whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intel Comm said
Facebook’s Russia disclosure is the “tip of the iceberg” on election interferencethrough social media.
McClatchy reported Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies may be subpoenaed. A former prosecutor said Facebook ad buys suggest “numerous crimes, including conspiracy to defraud” the US.
USA Today reported Russia has interfered in at least 27 European and North American countries’ elections since 2004. Nunes, who had recused himself as House chair,
lashed out at Sessions in a letter for not sharing FBI and DOJ documents related to the Steele dossier. Nunes also threatened Sessions and Wray with a public hearing.
Vanity Fair reported Gowdy is also waging a war to discredit the Steele dossier. Gowdy claims subpoenas are necessary because the FBI and DOJ haven’t supplied the documents underlying the dossier. Trump attorney Michael Carvin
filed a brief asking a federal judge to toss out lawsuit that accuses the Trump campaign of conspiring with Russian operatives to publish stolen DNC information on WikiLeaks. In
Week 23, the DOJ said it was preparing charges against Assange, with Sessions saying Assange’s arrest is a priority. Strangely, this never happened and now the Trump regime is defending WikiLeaks. As a
news conference in China, Putin said, Trump is “not my bride, and I am not his groom.” On Thursday,
Donald Jr. meet with the Senate Judiciary Comm behind closed doors. Only one senate Republican attended the hearing, and stayed for only about five minutes. Feinstein, the ranking Democrat, said
Donald Jr. has agreed to public testimony, and if he doesn’t follow through he will be subpoenaed. Grassley, who Trump offered federal support for the ethanol industry in Week 42, said no final decision has been made. Donald Jr. claimed he took the meeting with Veselnitskaya and others because
she might have damaging information “concerning the fitness, character or qualifications” of Hillary.
NPR obtained a copy of Donald Jr.’s four-page statement in which he said Veselnitskaya “provided no meaningful information,” and the meeting was “primarily focused on Russian adoptions” and the Magnitsky Act. Donald Jr. disclosed, for the first time,
three phones calls with Agalarov before the June 9 meeting, the content of which he couldn’t recall. He said he had no recollection of any documents left by Russian visitors. Donald Jr. also said he did “
not collude with any foreign government and do not know of anyone who did,” and that he hoped the interview had fully satisfied the senate inquiry.
Newsweek compiled a list of Donald Jr.’s rationales for taking the meeting. Thursday’s testimony was his fifth version so far. After Donald Jr.’s testimony,
Democratic senator Coons issued a memo citing statute 18 U.S.C. 1001(a) & ©(2), which outlines the punishments for lying to Congress.
CNN reported Mueller will seek to interview the staff aboard Air Force One present as Trump helped craft the misleading statement issued by Donald Jr. about the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower. Mueller wants to know
how the statement was put together, whether information was intentionally left out, and who was involved. Mueller considers the aides who helped craft the statement to be witnesses. In Donald Jr.’s senate testimony, he claimed
he was not aware of what role, if any, his father might have played in drafting the statement.
WAPO reported Mueller has alerted the WH that his team will seek to speak with six Trump insiders, including Hicks, Priebus, Spicer, McGahn, and one of McGahn’s deputies, Burnham. Mueller also expects to question
Josh Raffel, a WH spokesperson who works closely with Kushner, as well as possibly Trump family members, including Kushner. Each of the six was
privy to internal discussions in areas being investigated by Mueller including the Comey firing, Trump’s inaction on Flynn, and possible coordination with Russia.
Daily Beast reported Mueller wants to speak with Hicks about what happened on Air Force One as Trump crafted Donald Jr.’s statement.
Daily Beast also reported efforts are underway to organize a legal defense fund for WH staffers. Legal fees related to the Mueller probe are expected to be high with lawyers likely billing $500–1k per hour. Late Friday,
POLITICO reported Hicks hired Robert Trout, a highly regarded attorney, to represent her in the Mueller probe.
CNN obtained the 17-page Trump Tower Moscow letter of intent, signed by Trump in October 2015, the day of a Republican primary debate. The property would be named Trump World Tower Moscow. The deal would have
given Trump perks including a $4 million upfront fee, no upfront costs, a percentage of the sales, and the opportunity to name the hotel spa after his daughter Ivanka. During the campaign,
Trump said he had “nothing to do with Russia.”
On Friday, Trump hosted Russia’s new US ambassador Anatoly Antonov in DC. Russia media reported that Antonov describe the meeting as “warm.” US media was not informed of the meeting. Antonov said Russia did not interfere in the US election. Two years ago, the
EU put Antonov on its list of officials subject to sanctions, citing his involvement in supporting the deployment of Russian troops to Ukraine. Dmitry
Firtash, a Ukrainian industrialist and top-tier Russian mob associate with ties to Manafort is fighting US prosecutors’ efforts to bring him to Chicago for a bribery trial. He remains in Vienna on $174mm bail. Asked for comment on the second major hurricane in two weeks, Pruitt said
Hurricane Irma isn’t the right time to talk about climate change. On Thursday, by a 31–0 vote the
Senate Appropriations Comm allocated $51bn for the State Depart and foreign operations, nearly $11bn more than requested by the Trump regime. On Friday, the
committee blasted the Trump regime in its report saying its approach to foreign policy weakens US standing in the world. On Friday, the
State Dept was criticized for its response to Hurricane Irma which had already affected thousands of Americans in the Caribbean Islands. A task force was set up Friday, after the storm hit. State Dept employees point out there is
currently no Under Secretary of State for Management, who would typically be in charge of State’s response to a storm of Irma’s magnitude. In another move towards what Bannon had called the “deconstruction of the administrative state,” the
OMB issued a memo directing “a net reduction in total incremental regulatory costs” for agencies.
WSJ reported Trump is unlikely to nominate Cohn to Fed Chair when Yellen’s term comes up in February, citing Cohn’s criticism of Trump’s Charlottesville response in a FT interview (Week 41).
NYT reported Kelly is trying to be welcoming to Cohn, but WH aides say Trump is freezing Cohn out by employing a familiar tactic: refusing to make eye contact with him. Bannon told
CBS’s “60 Minutes” Christie didn’t get a position in Trump’s cabinet because Christie wasn’t loyal after the “Access Hollywood” tapes.
Bloomberg reported key Trump aide’s said Trump is rattled by the pending departure of longtime bodyguard Schiller. Aides described Schiller as the “emotional anchor” for Trump in the WH turmoil.
I am currently in Budapest, Hungary and was hoping to not have to see this face. But, unfortunately, this is going to be a popular nightmare mask for people all over the world this Halloween. The world continues to just laugh and laugh… – Added to the image is Australian street artist CRiSP’s “Selfie This” sticker. I felt it was appropriate. 9SEP17.
Week 42 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
September 2, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-42-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-a1fbe96c91ca
Despite being a summer week heading into Labor Day weekend, Week 42 is the longest list so far, with the most items relating to Trump-Russia. News reports indicate the Mueller probe in moving ahead on many fronts, and uncovering damaging evidence about the Trump regime.
This week Trump was unable to control the narrative. Media accounts paint a disturbing picture of a leader who is stormy, depressed, angry, unsteady and increasingly isolated. Resignations and firings continue en masse, as Trump’s WH continues to be filled with drama and showcase his inability to work with others and hire talent.
Stories less covered continue to detail bigotry towards, and stripping away rights and protections of, marginalized communities and women. Another continuing theme is the dismantling of government programs and initiatives, alongside instituting authoritarian measures.
WAPO reported before Trump pardoned Apraio, he had asked Sessions to have the Justice Dept drop their case. Ten days before
Hurricane Harvey, Trump revoked Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, an Obama-era set of regulations designed to make federally funded infrastructure less vulnerable to flooding. On Sunday morning, as Houston was flooding,
Trump promoted a book by Sheriff David Clarke on Twitter: “great book by a great guy, highly recommended! Former OGE director Shaub noted it is a
government ethics violation to use public office to endorse any product, service or enterprise. Clarke, who has been the subject of repeated allegations of mistreating inmates in his jails,
abruptly resigned as Sheriff on Thursday. Speculation grew that he would be taking a position in the Trump regime. On Sunday, when asked by Chris Wallace about Charlottesville, Tillerson said, “I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values,” — and when asked on
Trump’s response, “The President speaks for himself.” Also on Sunday, a video emerged on Facebook of
Mattis telling troops, “You just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other and showing it.” On Tuesday, again going against Trump,
Mattis announced transgender troops will be allowed to remain in the military pending the results of a study by experts. On Wednesday, shortly after Trump tweeted on N. Korea: “Talking is not the answer!” —
Mattis contradicted Trump’s statement and told reporters, “We’re never out of diplomatic solutions.”
Buzzfeed reported ICE left 50 immigrant women and children stranded at a bus station in San Antonio as Hurricane Harvey approached. On Monday, Trump reversed an Obama-era policy,
allowing police to receive surplus military gear. Buried in a bill that
Trump signed into law is a provision which allows police warrantless searches in parts of VA, MD and DC. Amidst the chaos, there was almost no media coverage. In Salt Lake City,
a nurse was forcibly arrested after she followed hospital protocol and refused to let the police draw blood from an unconscious patient who was not a suspect and faced no charges. Televangelist Jim Bakker said
Christians would start a civil war if Trump is impeached. Roger Stone expressed a similar sentiment in Week 41. A group of
evangelical leaders in Tennessee released the “Nashville Statement,” which denounced gay marriage and condemned acceptance of “homosexual immorality or transgenderism.”
Reuters reported that Confederate flag sales have boomed since Charlottesville. One company said their orders quadrupled. A
federal judge in San Antonio temporarily blocked a Texas ban on sanctuary cities from going into effect on Friday. Trump’s
HHS cut the advertising budget for Obamacare by 90%. Lowering enrollment is a way to compromise the ACA. The ACLU said it is deeply concerned about
reports of abuse and retaliation by ICE of their clients who are participating in a class action suit to stop the immediate deportation of any Iraqi nationals. A decorated marine, George Ybarra, who served in the Persian Gulf War was transferred to an immigration center in AZ. Although a federal judge
ruled Ybarra is a citizen, ICE continues to work to deport him to Mexico. The Trump regime said
women’s right will not be part of their demands in negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Mnuchin said the
Treasury Dept may scrap plans finalized under Obama to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill to replace Andrew Jackson.
The Trump WH removed a list of 250+ schools under investigation by the Obama administration for violating Title 9 by mishandling campus sexual assault, signaling an end of enforcement and accountability.
Trump ended an Obama-era rule which required companies to collect pay data for workers of different genders, races and ethnic groups. The Trump regime’s Transportation Dept
abandoned an Obama-era plan of local-hiring for public workers. The program was meant to help offset longstanding racial and gender imbalances in the construction industry. Sessions’s DOJ will
retry the woman who prosecutors say disrupted Session’s Senate confirmation hearing by laughing.
USA Today reported anti-protester bills are gaining traction in Republican controlled statehouses. So far, twenty states have proposed bills with restrictions on right to assemble and protest, and six have approved bills. The Interior Dept’s watchdog group
dropped its investigation of the threat by Zinke to Murkowski over her vote to repeal Obamacare, after the two senators from Alaska declined to be interviewed. The GSA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is
undertaking a formal review of how the agency has handled the Trump hotel DC lease. Trump’s Election Integrity Comm apologized after being
chastised by a district judge their failure to disclose documents publicly as required. In addition to his position as vice chair of Trump’s Election Integrity Commission,
Kobach will become a regular columnist at . Breitbart On Monday, in a press conference with Finnish President Niinistö, Trump defended his decision to pardon Arpaio.
When asked the timing, Trump said, “In the middle of a hurricane, even though it was Friday evening, I assumed the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally.” Trump
confused two Finnish women journalists with dirty-blond hair of being the same person, saying “Again. You’re going to give her — the same one?” Niinistö responded, “No, they are not the same lady,” Trump also falsely claimed Finland is buying Boeing fighter jets.
Niinistö pushed back in a tweet Monday, calling this “ankka,” which translates to a falsehood or fake news. On Tuesday, Trump visited Austin. He did not tour
areas heavily hit by Hurricane Harvey or meet with any victims. By Tuesday, Harvey had dumped more rain than any storm in history in parts of Texas. Trump praised FEMA administrator Brock Long, saying he “
has really become very famous on television over the last couple of days.” Trump acknowledged the crowd, “
What a crowd, what a turnout!” — but failed to mention or acknowledge the 15 casualties, tens of thousands of displaced, or irreversible damage caused by Harvey. Trump wore a USA hat during the visit with a 45 on the side. This
merchandise is for sale on Trump’s website for $40. Ari Fleischer, press secretary for W. Bush, said of the visit, there was “something missing” and that was “
empathy for the people who suffer.” As Hurricane Harvey continued to devastate,
AP reported the Republicans are considering cutting $1bn from disaster accounts to help finance Trump’s wall.
NYT reported on voting irregularities in the 2016 election: voters being told they were ineligible to vote, or turned away from polls, or sent to other polling place in several blue counties in swing states.
Little digital forensic investigation has been done to examine the impact in at least 21 states whose election systems were targeted by Russia. Academic and private election security experts
warn future elections, including next year’s midterms, could be subject to hacking since nothing has been done to improve or build an effective defense.
Moyers & Company reported pro-Russian bots have been taking up right-wing causes after Charlottesville. A case study was done their impact on the narrative around Berkeley.
Bloomberg reported on the growing sophistication of pro-Russian bots, which are already taking a role in sowing seeds of discord in the US, and taking on Trump critics like McCain. Experts say the Russian bots never left after the 2016 election, and are
sharpening their attacks for upcoming elections in 2018 and 2020. The bots are learning to mimic human behavior.
WAPO reported during his run for president, in late 2015 to early 2016, Trump was seeking a deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow. Michael Cohentook the lead for Trump. The deal was never publicly disclosed. Felix Sater urged Trump to come to Moscow, and said he could get Putin to say, “great things” about Trump. In late
2015, Trump started to publicly praise Putin. Shortly after, Putin offered praise of Trump in return. Sater said, at Trump’s request,
he traveled to Russia with Ivanka and Donald Jr. A lawyer for the Trump Organization said they happened to be there at the same time.
NYT reported on emails between Cohen and Sater which were turned over Monday to the House Intel Comm. Sater emailed Cohen, “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it.” Sater said he
lined up financing for Trump for the Trump Tower in Moscow through VTB Bank, a bank under US sanctions for its involvement in Russia’s efforts to undermine democracy in Ukraine. VTB is also majority-owned by the Russian government, as are other banks in The Weekly Lists including
VEB, Alfa Bank and Sberbank — all of which have ties to Trump and his aides. In an email, Sater bragged about his Russia connections, saying, “I arranged for
Ivanka to sit in Putin’s private chair at his desk.” Ivanka told
WAPO she did not recall sitting in Putin’s chair. She also said she was not involved with Cohen’s discussion on the project, except to recommend architects.
ABC reported in October 2015, four months into his presidential campaign, Trump signed a letter of intent for Trump Tower Moscow.
Rachel Maddow noted the day Trump signed the term sheet was the same day as the third Republican primary debate. Trump seemed off and had a poor performance that night.
WAPO reported in mid-January 2016, Cohen emailed Putin lieutenant Dmitry Peskov to ask for his assistance with the stalled Moscow project and to arrange “meetings with the appropriate individuals.” The email is the
first known direct outreach by a senior Trump aide to a senior member of Putin’s government. Cohen told Congressional investigators that he did not receive a response. Peskov confirmed Wednesday that
he received Cohen’s email asking for his help in getting the stalled Trump Tower Moscow project moving again, but said he did not respond or share it with Putin. In Week 15,
Sater and Cohen were involved in a back-channel plan to get US sanctions against Russia lifted. In Week 17, Alex Orono, a Russian working with them on this plan, died suddenly.
Sater has cooperated with US authorities in the past, signing a plea deal with Andrew Weissmann, who is now part of Mueller’s special counsel.
Yahoo reported Swalwell, a Democrat on the House Intel Comm said the panel may call Trump to testify on the Trump Tower Moscow deal to clear up past conflicting statement.
Trump has publicly said of Sater, if he was sitting in the same room, “I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.” It is believed Sater was conducting business for Trump through 2016.
NYT reported on an eight page letter from Cohen’s attorney to the House Intel Comm giving a point-by-point rebuttal to the Steele dossier and “vehemently” denying Russian collusion.
CNN reported the “WV” referenced in Week 41 was Rick Clay of West Virginia, who tried through Trump aide Dearborn to make contact with Russians, allegedly to discuss their “shared Christian values.”
NBC reported Mueller’s team is investigating Trump’s role in crafting Donald Jr.’s response to the June 9 meeting, and whether Trump knew about the meeting and tried to conceal its purposes.
FT reported Akhmetshin gave testimony under oath for several hours on August 11, another sign Mueller is looking closely at the June 9 meeting.
Guardian reported after news that the Senate Judiciary Comm would interview Donald Jr. on the June 9 meeting, Trump called the committee chair Grassley to offer Iowa federal support for the ethanol industry.
Grassley tweeted about Trump’s phone call offering support. Also of note from Week 41, the Senate Judiciary Branch will shortly vote on whether to make the Fusion GPS testimony on the Steele dossier public.
CNN reported Mueller’s special counsel has issued subpoenas for Manafort’s former attorney, Melissa Laurenza of Akin Gump, and to his current spokesperson, Jason Maloni.
POLITICO reported Mueller is teaming up with NYAG Schneiderman on its investigation into Manafort and his financial transactions. The two teams have shared evidence and talked frequently in recent weeks. Mueller’s and Schneiderman’s team has
pressured Manafort by approaching his family and former business partners. Several people and firms who have worked with Manafort have been subpoenaed. Trump has
privately discussed his pardon powers with aides. State and federal investigators believe potential of a pardon has influenced Manafort’s decision on cooperating. Trump cannot pardon state crimes.
WSJ reported on Manafort’s close relationship with Russian oligarch Deripaska. The two worked together from 2004–2015 in counties with Russian political interests including Ukraine, Georgia and Montenegro. As per Week 28,
Deripaska has offered to give testimony to Congressional investigators in exchange for immunity. That offer is still being rejected, for not wanting to interfere with Mueller’s probe.
NBC reported Manafort turned over notes taken during the June 9 meeting to Congressional investigators and Mueller. The words “donor” and “RNC” appear in close proximity. It is illegal for foreigners to donate to American elections.
Daily Beast reported Mueller enlisted help from the IRS’s Criminal Investigations unit, an elite investigative entity that focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. One of Mueller’s top deputies, Andy Weissmann, has worked with the CI unit extensively. The
CI unit would have access to Trump’s tax returns.
Bloomberg detailed the massive debt Kushner has outstanding against his family’s real estate investment in 666 Fifth Avenue. To pay off looming debt, the family has sold off properties and forgone new deals. Kushner Cos. bought the building near a market high and has
tried to get China and sovereign funds to buy the property or refinance part of the debt. These efforts may be influencing US foreign policy as per Week 35.
Speculation is Kushner’s outreach to VEB and Kislyak could have been related to real estate financing.
WSJ reported lawyers for Trump have met with Mueller and submitted memos arguing Trump didn’t obstruct justice by firing Comey. They also claim Comey is not a reliable witness. Experts say this is highly unusual.
Axios reported Russian diplomats continue to die unexpectedly. Russia’s ambassador to Sudan was the seventh diplomat to die since November. Rep DeSantis
floated an amendment to end the Mueller probe and stop Mueller from looking into activities prior to June 2015. DeSantis is a Trump loyalist and is considering running for governor of Florida in 2018.
WAPO reported on Trump’s WH during a “summer of crisis,” citing Trump’s “dark mood.” Trump is fighting with Kelly, Tillerson and Cohn, and friends say, “He’s turning on people that are very close to him.”
WAPO reported Kelly refused to join Trump on stage in Phoenix after Trump prompted, “Where’s General Kelly? Get him out here. He’s great.”
WAPO also reported Trump continues to call friends and outside advisers, including Bannon, from his personal phone when Kelly isn’t around.
POLITICO reported on the shrinking West Wing, citing three factors: 1) Kelly’s careful review process, 2) five open-ended Russia investigations making it hard to hire, and 3) Trump’s dark mood over the summer.
Eight of the 28 members of the Nat’l Infrastructure Advisory Council resigned. In a letter, the cyber-security experts said Trump “threatened the security of the homeland,” citing Charlottesville and withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Trump lashed out at, then fired
longtime aide George Gigicos because of the small crowd size at this Phoenix rally last week. Responding to criticism about
unfilled key roles in the executive branch, Trump tweeted to @foxandfriends: “We are not looking to fill all of those positions. Don’t need many of them — reduce size of government.”
ProPublica reported while Trump continues to leave key executive branch positions which require Senate confirmation unfilled, he has quietly installed more than 1k political staffers. Many of these hires are regulating industries they used to work in. Most names are kept secret. These employees
working in the shadows face must less scrutiny, and answer to no one but the WH. The RNC chief of staff, Sara Armstrong resigned.
Armstrong is the sixth RNC staffer to leave in the past month.
FP reported two top State Dept officials resigned in what was called “Black Friday.” One State Dept official said “Dissatisfaction is a big factor” for why diplomats continues to take early retirement or new jobs. Longtime Trump aide
Keith Schiller, best known for hand delivering the letter to Comey about his firing, is leaving the WH.
Indictments were issued for 15 security guards of Turkey’s Erdogan, who in Week 31 had attacked protested outside the Turkish embassy in DC. The UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein slammed Trump’s attacks on the media, warning
Trump’s rhetoric could provoke violence: “ultimately the sequence is a dangerous one.” Zeid also raised concern about
Trump’s “worrying remarks” about women, Mexicans and Muslims, and issue like immigration.
NBC reported on a focus group in Pittsburgh, where voters including those who voted for Trump expressed “abject disappointment” in his tone and leadership. Also noted was Trump’s lack of empathy. A
Pew Research poll found just 16% of Americans like the way Trump conducts himself. The poll also noted a deterioration in Republican support: a third agree with Trump on only a few or no issues. At
Gallup daily tracker, Trump matched his biggest net disapproval of -27 (approve 34, disapprove 61), with the trend continuing lower.
A voter satisfaction with the direction of the country declined to just 35%, and 56% think Trump is tearing the country apart. Fox News poll found On Friday,
NYT reported Mueller has obtained an early draft of a letter giving Trump’s reasons for firing Comey.
WSJ reported an excerpt from the draft. Paraphrasing, Trump wanted to convey: “ You’ve told me three times I’m not under investigation but you won’t tell the world, and it’s hampering the country.”
POLITICO reported the decision to fire Comey was made in Bedminster, where Trump huddled with Kushner and Miller. McGahn, Priebus and Bannon warned Trump against it, saying it would trigger a firestorm.
NYT reported Trump was supposed to golf that weekend, but it rained, so instead he stewed inside about Comey and the Russia investigation. Trump ordered Miller to draft the letter. After returning from Bedminster Monday, May 8,
Trump handed copies of the letter to senior officials including McGahn and Pence in the Oval office. McGahn was alarmed and tried to stop the letter. On May 8, Rosenstein got a copy of the letter, and agreed to write a separate memo. May 9,
the letter was replaced with a simpler rationale for firing Comey: his handling of the Clinton email investigation. In an op-ed,
McCain blasted Trump, saying Congress doesn’t answer to him despite his recent attacks, “We must, where we can, cooperate with him. But we are not his subordinates.” On Thursday, Sanders said
Trump promised to donate $1mm of his “personal money” to Hurricane Harvey victims. On Friday, when pressed on where the money was coming from, Sanders said she wasn’t sure. At a signing ceremony in the Oval office Friday,
religious leaders took turns praising and thanking Trump for his response to Hurricane Harvey.
NYT reported on Kelly’s unhappiness serving under Trump, telling an associate it was “by far the hardest job he had ever had.” Trump likes to surround himself with former military men from “central casting.”
Trump berated Kelly after the Phoenix campaign rally. Kelly told WH staff members “he had never been spoken to like that during 35 years of serving his country,” and he would not let it happen again.
Kelly has not been able to get Trump to stop binge-watching Fox News, Trump’s primary source of information. Trump does not have web browser on his phone, despite his frequent retweets of story links. In a radio interview,
Eric Trump said the negative media coverage was impacting his father: “It important to keep in context. Otherwise, quite frankly, you’d probably end up killing yourself out of depression.” On Friday, a day after Trump ordered Russia to close three US outposts, a
fire was reported at the DC diplomatic annex, and smoke was coming out of the chimney at the consulate in San Francisco on a 100 degree day.
Photo by: Paul Hehn in Portland, OR
Week 41 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
August 26, 2017
Week 41 is full of content about Trump-Russia, and indications that the Mueller probe is closing in on Trump and his regime. News stories indicate that despite Trump’s public indifference and belittlement of the probe, he is privately consumed by it, and acting in ways which could well be construed as, and lead to charges for, obstruction of justice.
In the two weeks since Charlottesville, our country is consumed in flames of hate, and Trump is fanning those flames. As well, he continues his unimpeded march to authoritarian power, neutralizing the judicial branch with an unethical pardon, and attacking members of his own party in an effort to silence them. So far, the latter is largely working, and as this week comes to a close, remaining checks and balances to save our democracy are eroding, and Trump appears to feel fully in power.
Following the counter-protest march of over 40k in Boston,
Trump tweeted the country needs “to heel.” Trump used the misspelled word four times in two consecutive deleted tweets, before correcting it to heal. Rev. Bernard, pastor of a megachurch in Brooklyn, became t
he first member of Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board to resign over Charlottesville.
No WH officials were made available for Sunday political talk shows. On
CNN Sunday, Carl Bernstein urged reporters to interview Republicans on or off the record about whether Trump is mentally fit to lead. A
NBC News/Marist poll found Trump’s approval in three key battleground states has eroded: Michigan 36 approve/55 disapprove, Pennsylvania 35/54, and Wisconsin 34/56.
NPR reported some Liberty University graduates are returning their diplomas to protest school President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s ongoing support of Trump, even after Trump’s remarks on Charlottesville. Former HHS secretaries from
both parties urged Republicans to move quickly and stabilize Obamacare as Trump threatened to continue withholding key payments to insurers. Sunday night, when asked by reporters for his reaction to five sailors injured and 10 missing after the
USS John S. McCain collided with a merchant ship, Trump responded, “That’s too bad.”
USA Today reported Secret Service agents have already hit the federally mandated pay caps meant to last the entire year for protecting Trump. Under the Trump regime, an unprecedented 42 people have protection.
Secret Service cited Trump’s frequent weekend trips to his properties, and his family’s extensive business and vacation travel. Secret Service spent $60k on golf carts, revenues which go to the Trump Organization.
Trump disbanded a federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment which helped policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government’s climate analysis into long-term planning. Since being established in 1990, the National Climate Assessment is supposed to release reports every four years.
The next assessment would have been due in 2018. Trump’s
Interior Dept ordered the National Academy of Sciences to halt its study of health risks and harm caused by mountaintop coal mining in Appalachia.
New Yorker reported on the dismantling of HUD under a thoroughly uninformed Sec Carson. There are still no nominees for major parts of HUD, including the Federal Housing Administration and many others. Carson’s team removed online training materials meant to
help homeless shelters provide equal access to transgender people, and pulled back a survey to reduce LGBT homelessness. Interior’s Inspector General confirmed in a letter it is
investigating Sec Zinke’s pressure on Sen Murkowski to vote yes on the Obamacare repeal. An
ABC News/Washington Post poll found 9% of Americans say it’s acceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views. This meshes with the 10% who say they support the alt-right movement. The
Anne Frank Center tweeted in alarm, “1 in 10 adults in U.S. say neo-Nazi views acceptable — 22 million Americans. Evil epidemic of hatred.” The poll also found that
3 in 10 Trump supporters accept or are indifferent to white supremacists. Singer
Billy Joel wore a Star of David during the encore of his sold-out show in NYC.
Brandeis University was closed and evacuated Wednesday after the school received an email with a bomb threat.
HuffPost reported a spike in anti-Semitism in the two weeks since Charlottesville. ADL provided a list of more than two dozen incidents involving swastikas, broken glass and neo-Nazi propaganda. A
coalition of major rabbinical groups canceled their annual High Holidays call, saying Trump’s “words have given succor to those who advocate anti-Semitism.” The
UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the US government to reject racial hatred and violence. The statement was released online after Trump’s mixed messages on Charlottesville. The Girl Scouts’ CEO wrote a letter to families with
resources to talk to girls about what they are hearing in the news, and hate and violence, adding lying about what really happened can “undermine her trust.”
Twenty organizations have pulled their charity events from Mar-a-Lago in response to his comments on Charlottesville. Daniel Kammer, the State Dept Science Envoy,
resigned in an open letter citing Trump’s “attacks on core values of the United States.” The first letter of the seven paragraphs spell the word, IMPEACH. On his radio show, Trump’s nominee for Department of Agriculture Sam
Clovis said “LGBT behavior” is a choice, and that legalizing gay marriage could lead to the legalization of pedophilia. Liz MacKean, the
BBC journalist who broke the news of the torture of gay men in Russia, died of a stroke at the age of 52. Trump signaled he is
likely to end DACA, the Obama program which allows young people who came to the US illegally as children to remainhere. As many as 1 million immigrants could be affected. The
DHS announced it will require holders of employment-based visas to be interviewed in order to update their status. More than 100k visa holders could be impacted. The Brennan Center and Protect Democracy Project filed a lawsuit for info on
communication between government agencies and the Election Integrity Comm. The agencies did not respond to a FOIA request. On Tuesday, the
DOJ modified its warrant, dropping its request for IP addresses from DreamHost for an anti-Trump site, disruptj20.org. On Thursday,
a court ordered DreamHost to turn over the data requested. The court asked the DOJ to disclose its method for searching the data to minimizing data on innocent third-party visitors to the site. In a
WAPO op-ed, activist Melissa Byrne described being grabbed, cuffed and questioned, and her banner confiscated, by the Secret Service without having been read her rights at a Starbucks in Trump Tower. On Monday,
Trump delivered his second address to the nation. Reading from the teleprompter he asked the American people to trust him in sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan. Trump opened the speech with a call for unity. Historian Michael Beschloss noted this was the first time a leader “
had to start a speech on war and peace by vowing that he opposed bigotry and prejudice.” Trump’s speech was full of his typical
bellicose terms, like “overwhelming force,” but offered little in the way of strategy and substance. Of note,
three generals now seem to have Trump’s ear: Kelly, McMaster and Mattis. As recently as Week 38, Trump had scoffed at adding troops. He also compared Afghanistan to a 21 Club renovation. There is
not yet a confirmed US ambassador to Afghanistan. 24 hours after his address to the nation, Trump headed to a campaign rally in Phoenix, despite
pleas from the Mayor of Phoenix in an op-ed and on air that it was not a good time for Trump to visit. Despite his calls for unity Monday, Trump delivered a 72-minute dystopian speech in which
he repeatedly attacked the media and “others” — again targeting marginalized communities. Trump referred to
the media as the enemy of the American people, saying “They don’t like our country.” After the speech, many in the media expressed concern about their safety. Trump also
threatened to shut down the government in the fall if Congress did not approve funding for his Wall. Despite his advance promises not to,
Trump attacked McCain and Flake, the two senators of Arizona, in his speech without using their names. Also, despite promising not to do so,
Trump insinuated he would pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio, citing the legal system not treating him fairly. Trump
did not mention the accident involving the USS John. S McCain, or the continuing search for missing sailors during his speech.
WAPO reported as Trump ranted and rambled, “hundreds left early.” The room was only partially filled as Trump began to speak. Police
used tear gas to disperse crowds of thousands of protestors after Trump’s speech. Police helicopters circled downtown Phoenix.
In a likely violation of the Hatch Act, Ben Carson appeared on stage in Phoenix, after being introduced as the Secretary of HUD.
NPR fact-checked Trump’s speech, and found numerous false and misleading statements. Ahead of the rally Tuesday,
Trump met with potential Republican challengers to primary Sen Flake in 2018. During the brief meeting, Trump referred to the senator as “the flake.” After Trump’s Phoenix speech, former director of National Intelligence Clapper told
CNN he questioned Trump’s “fitness to be — in this office.” ” Clapper said understanding the levers of power available to a president, he
found the speech “downright scary and disturbing.” Clapper also said
Trump could be a threat to national security. He worries about Trump’s access to nuclear codes, noting it a fit of pique, “there’s actually very little to stop him.” Trump tweeted asking if Clapper “who famously got caught lying to Congress,” would
share “his beautiful letter to me?” Clapper said he had handwritten almost identical notes to both candidates for Election Day.
CNN reported Wednesday that the WH was preparing paperwork and talking points for surrogates ahead of Trump pardoning Arpaio. On Monday, in a later-deleted Instagram post, Mnuchin’s wife, Louise Linton
bragged about traveling on a chartered government plane, and about the lavish fashion brands she was wearing. On Wednesday,
CREW requested information on authorization of the chartered airplane. Typically, secretaries fly on commercial flights for domestic travel. Ethics groups also filed requests to learn
if the trip to Fort Knox, KY was planned so Mnuchin and his wife could view the solar eclipse near the path of totality. On a sudden, unannounced trip to the Middle East,
Kushner was snubbed by the Egyptian foreign minister who canceled their meeting without officially citing a reason. The meeting did later take place.
NPR reported Trump’s approval with women is at a historically low 29%. Trump’s approval with men is much higher (43%).
NYT reported on a brewing war between Trump and McConnell, as the two haven’t spoken for weeks. McConnell questioned whether Trump can salvage his presidency. McConnell also questioned Trump’s understanding of the presidency, and claimed Trump was “
entirely unwilling to learn the basics of governing.
NYT also reported on an August 9 call with McConnell, which Trump initiated, Trump brought up healthcare, but was “even more animated” about McConnell’s refusal to protect him from the Russia investigation. After the
NYT story broke, another Republican senator called the reporter to say Trump is “consumed with Russia.”
POLITICO reported on more clashes between Trump and Republican senators over Russia. In additional to Trump public admonishments of McConnell, McCain and Flake, Trump also targeted Corker and Tillis. Trump tried to convince
Corker the Russian sanctions bill wasn’t good policy, saying it was unconstitutional and would damage him. Trump berated Tillis for his bi-partisan bill to protect Mueller from being fired. Including these contacts, WAPO counted
seven times so far Trump has attempted to influence actions related to the Russia investigation. On Tuesday,
Glenn Simpson, founder of private research firm Fusion GPS who hired Steele to produce the dossier, testified for 10 hours in front of the Senate Judiciary Comm. He also provided 40k pages of documents. The Senate Judiciary Comm
will vote on releasing the testimony to the public. Rachel Maddow said Simpson’s lawyer has given the okay to release the testimony and documents publicly.
WAPO reported CIA director Pompeo, Trump’s close ally, required the Counterintelligence Mission Center, which investigates possible collusion between Trump and Russia, to report directly to him. Current and former agent expressed apprehension about conflict of interests. There is “
real concern for interference and politicization,” and that Pompeo may bring newly discovered information to the WH. Pompeo spends
more time at the WH than his predecessors. He also defended Trump’s comments on Charlottesville, saying Trump’s condemnation of bigotry was “frankly pretty unambiguous.” Pompeo has also shown a
willingness to handle political assignments for the WH: for example calling news agencies, speaking on condition of anonymity, at the WH’s behest to dispute a NYT article on Trump-Russia. In an internal CIA memo released under the FOIA, former CIA director
Brennan wrote some in Congress don’t get the “gravity” of Russia election meddling. Kushner Cos., the real estate company 0f Kushner’s family,
switched to a public relations firms with crisis management expertise.
NYT reported on Rinat Akhmetshin, one of the attendees of the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower, and his extensive and deep ties to Russian intelligence, government and oligarchs. Akhmetshin has worked on
behalf of several Russian oligarchs to hack adversaries’ emails and documents in order to buffer their case. Mueller is interested in why Akhmetshin attended the June 9 meeting.
CNN reported Congressional investigators unearthed an email from Rick Dearborn, a top campaign aide who is now Trump’s deputy chief of staff, about an individual seeking to connect top Trump officials with Putin.
WSJ reported Mueller is looking into Flynn’s role in seeking Hillary’s emails from Russian hackers, along with now deceased GOP operative Peter W. Smith. Investigators have examined
intel reports which detail Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from Hillary’s server, and then transmit them to Flynn via an intermediary.
NBC reported Mueller issued the first grand jury subpoenas to executives who worked on an international campaign organized by Manafort, a significant step in the inquiry which also focuses on Trump and Kushner. Mueller’s team is examining
lobbying done by Manafort for a Russia-backed Ukrainian political party from 2012–2014. According to recent financial disclosures, Manafort was paid $17mm between 2013 and 2014.
USA Today reported on a Russian propaganda Twitter network aimed at American audiences which consistently spreads links from alt-right media including Breitbart, True Pundit and Gateway Pundit. Roger
Stone told , saying “You will have a spasm of violence in this country, and insurrection, like you’ve never seen.” TMZ if Trump is impeached the country would break out into civil war
NYT reported on Trump Hotel DC, the now highly profitable meeting place for Trump family members and surrogates, lobbyists and journalist. Trump continues to profit from the hotel operations. The hotel is also described as a “
safe zone for Trump supporters.” Richard Spencer stayed at Trump Hotel DC, and met with white nationalist Evan McClare, as he planned the Charlottesville rally.
WAPO fact checker reported Trump’s list of false and misleading claims had topped 1,000 items early in the week. By week’s end, the list approached 1,100 items, one of the busiest weeks of lying yet. After Icahn resigned in Week 40 ahead of a story on his influencing regulations to his financial benefit, the Trump regime stated unlike a government employee,
Icahn had “no official role or duties.” Icahn financially benefitted from his
82% stake in CVR Energy. The company had accumulated a large short position in biofuels blending credits, called RINs, the price of which fell when Icahn’s proposal on the biofuels regulation was reported in February, netting him a huge return. On Friday,
Trump attacked another Republican, saying Corker is constantly asking if he should run in 2018, and “Tennessee not happy!” Corker had questioned Trump’s fitness to serve in Week 40. In an interview with
FT, Cohn was openly critical of Trump’s Charlottesville response, saying Trump “must do better” in condemning neo-Nazi and white supremacists.” Fed Chair
Yellen spoke out openly against the Trump regime’s efforts to roll back banking regulations enacted after the 2008 financial crisis, saying these regulations have made the banking system safer. Changing course,
Bloomberg reported t he WH no longer plans to work with Congress to produce a joint tax plan, instead relying on the House and Senate to hash it out. Trump said he will rally the public instead. The
WH rapid response director, Andy Hemming is leaving. Hemming had worked from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. every weekday blasting out stories favorable to the Trump regime. The RNC
passed a resolution to condemn neo-Nazis, the KKK and white supremacists, despite pushback from several Republican members. The resolution did not, however, mention Trump. A Quinnipiac poll found that
62% of Americans believe Trump is dividing the country. As Trump left the WH Friday afternoon, a reporter asked, “do you have a message for the people of Texas?”
Trump responded, “Good luck to everybody.” Hours before
Hurricane Harvey, thought to be the worst hurricane in 12 years, hit landfall in Texas, with the country anxiously watching, Trump issued a directive and a pardon. Late Friday,
Trump signed a directive that precludes transgender individuals from joining the military. Mattis has six months to develop a plan to implement the order, and discretion over those already serving. Trump’s directive also
bans DoD from paying for medical treatment regimens for transgender individuals currently serving in the military. Late Friday,
Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an elected official who defied a federal court’s order to stop violating people’s constitutional rights. Arpaio had been found in contempt of court in his ongoing case. The
NYT Editorial Board had noted with a pardon of Arpaio, Trump would show “his contempt for the American court system,” and also send a “message to other officials that they may flout court orders also.” Questions arose about whether Trump’s
pardon of Arpaio was testing the waters and sending a signal to those under investigation by Mueller. Late Friday, Trump adviser
Gorka left his post as deputy assistant in the WH. In a letter, Gorka said he resigned. Trump aides said he was fired. Shortly after 11 pm EST, Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm. The
National Hurricane Center said it expects “catastrophic and life-threatening” flash flooding and dump 15–30 inches of rain. The Trump regime imposed sanctions on
Venezuela; however, Citgo was exempted. As cited in Week 25, Citgo donated $500k to Trump’s inauguration, and that money may have come indirectly from Russia.
Sagacious street artist Plastic Jesus in Los Angeles, CA – August 2017
Week 40 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
August 19, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-40-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-eb3a830375a9
This week’s list is not the longest, but it is certainly the most heartbreaking. Trump’s comments on Charlottesville legitimized the worst of us, and spawned a watershed moment for our country. His remarks were met with widespread condemnation and reactions, and precipitated a mass exodus of corporate CEOs, wiping away any lingering doubts that Trump’s goals were ever truly linked to job creation. For the first time, real questions about fitness for office were raised out loud by both sides.
This week in Trump’s shrinking, chaotic regime it became even clearer that Trump answers to no one but himself. He continues to attack and attempt to intimidate Republicans into submission, as part of his continuing efforts to consolidate power.
In an impromptu news conference on Charlottesville late Saturday afternoon, Trump said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of
hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” White supremacists and neo-Nazi leaders cheered Trump’s “on many sides” comments, taking his words as
a defense, or even as a tacit approval, of their action. On Sunday, the WH issued a statement to “clarify” Trump’s Saturday comments, saying Trump condemns all forms of “violence, bigotry and hatred” while
naming white supremacists, KKK, and neo-Nazis. 32 year-old Heather Heyer was
killed Saturday after a car driven by James Fields rammed into a crowd of counter-protestors in Charlottesville. Nineteen others were injured.
titled, “Here’s A Reel Of Cars Plowing Through Protesters Trying To Block The Road,” which included a video encouraging people to drive through protests. Daily Caller and Fox News deleted a post Two state troopers, Lieutenant Cullen and Trooper Bates, who were keeping watch on the demonstrations in Charlottesville, were
killed when their helicopter went down. On Sunday, a candlelight vigil planned for Heather Heyer in Charlottesville was
cancelled due to a “credible threat from white supremacists.” Neo-Nazis disparaged Heyer, and the
KKK celebrated her death. Neo-Nazi website , led by my The Daily Stormer was taken down after activists Sunday tweet, contacted domain hosts Go Daddy, Google, etc. After US hosting companies refused to host
The Daily Stormer, the website briefly relocated to Russia, for which they thanked Trump, before being kicked off there too. China rebuffed them too. In the wake of Charlottesville,
numerous tech companies including Facebook, Google, Spotify, Uber, Squarespace and many others took action to curb use of their services and platforms by alt-right groups. A Unite the Right organizer was
disavowed by his family. Several marchers who were identified on social media lost their jobs. Others were asked to denounce their activities or were expelled by colleges. On Sunday,
Trump’s popularity hit a new low at with 34% approving and 61% disapproving (-27). Gallup On Monday, Sessions said the car ramming into Heather Heyer and 19 others “
does meet the definition of domestic terrorism” under US law. On Monday morning,
Merck’s CEO resigned from Trump’s American Manufacturing Council saying as a “matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.” Later Monday,
Trump tweeted @Merck is a leader in “higher & higher drug prices,” and “taking jobs out of the U.S.” Later Monday and Tuesday,
four more CEOs resigned from Trump’s American Manufacturing Council over his handling of Charlottesville. Trump countered, “
I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on.” Trump offered no new names publicly. On Wednesday,
NYT reported the CEOs on Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum held a morning conference call to discuss whether to disband the policy forum. The Manufacturing Council planned a call that afternoon. Before the policy forum, and possible manufacturing council could formally disband, midday Wednesday Trump tweeted “
rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople,” he was ending both. On Thursday, the WH announced
the Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure, which was still being formed, would not move forward. On Monday,
Trump said he is “seriously considering” a pardon for ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio, saying, “He’s a great American patriot.” In the aftermath of Charlottesville,
the Phoenix mayor called on Trump to delay his planned rally next week, saying Trump’s plan to pardon Arpaio could “enflame emotions and further divide our nation.” Minutes after the Phoenix mayor’s statement,
Trump tweeted a link for tickets to his Phoenix event. Advocates said there has been
a spike in reports of anti-LGBTQ violence since Trump took office. As of August, there are already more hate-related homicides than in all of 2016, excluding Pulse. A Virginia high school sent a letter to parents saying
selection for AP and Honors classes would at least partly based on race. On Monday, the
Holocaust memorial in Boston was vandalized for the second time this summer. On Monday,
reading from a teleprompter, Trump gave his third version of comments on Charlottesville, calling the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists “repugnant” and saying, “racism is evil.” On Tuesday morning,
Trump tweeted then deleted an image of a train running over a CNN reporter. On Tuesday at Trump Tower, with Mnuchin, Chao and Cohn by this side, Trump turned what was supposed to be remarks about his infrastructure plan into
an “off-the-rails” news conference on Charlottesville. Reversing himself for the fourth time in four days, Trump said “
I think there’s blame on both sides” — insinuating that the “alt-left” was just as much to blame as white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Trump claimed
not all the white supremacists and neo-Nazis were bad people, “you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.” When asked about Bannon,
Trump said “He’s a good man. He’s not a racist,” and that the press treats him, “frankly, very unfairly.” Trump claimed
alt-right protestors had a permit, but counter-protesters “came charging in without a permit” and “were very, very violent.” WAPOgave the claim that counter-protestors had no permit 4 Pinocchios. Trump equated taking down the statue of
Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville to taking down statues of Washington (“George Washington was a slave owner”) and Jefferson (“Because he was a major slave owner”). Trump’s staff, expecting brief remarks on infrastructure, were stunned by his action. One senior WH official told NBC,
Trump “went rogue.”
POLITICO reported Trump was “in good spirits” Tuesday night, and felt the “new conference went much better” than his Monday speech.
Alt-right leaders praised Trump’s Tuesday comments. Richard Spencer said he was “really proud of him,” and David Duke tweeted, “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth.”
Axios reported within the Trump WH, Bannon unapologetically supported Trump’s instinct to blame “both sides,” and that he and Trump “instinctively searched for “their” people in that group of protesters.” Mnuchin’s Yale classmates wrote an open letter
calling on him to resign immediately, saying Trump “declared himself a sympathizer with groups” whose values are antithetical to Yale and decent human beings. In a Republican primary in Alabama Tuesday,
Trump’s chosen candidate Luther Strange, who he very publicly supported, came in second. On Wednesday,
Pence cut his international trip to Central and South America short to come home. The stated reason was to join a national security meeting on Friday, although rumors flew with other theories. On Wednesday,
Fox News’ Shep Smith said his show “ reached out to Republicans of all stripes across the country today” and couldn’t find a single one willing to come on and discuss Trump’s Tuesday comments. In a letter, fmr CIA director Brennan told
CNN’s Blitzer Trump’s comments on Charlottesville were “despicable,” and that Trump “is putting our national security and our collective futures at grave risk.” On Wednesday, the
Generals of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard tweeted to condemn the racist violence in Charlottesville, declaring the nation’s armed forces unequivocally against hatred. Sen Corker, one of Trump’s first senate supporters who was also under consideration for VP, said Trump “
has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence” to be a successful leader. European leaders, including
Merkel and May, denounced Trump’s comments on Charlottesville. Martin Schulz of German said Trump “is betraying our Western value.” Rep Steve
Cohen of TN, a ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, introduced articles of impeachment in response to Trump’s comments on Charlottesville. On Wednesday, Sessions told
NBC News that the Charlottesville car attack may be considered a “hate crime.”
USA Today Editorial Board called on Congress to censure Trump for his “shocking equivocations about the white-supremacist,” challenging Republicans to “stand up for American values” or be Trump enablers. On Thursday,
the Cleveland Clinic pulled their 2018 Florida gala from Mar-a-Lago. Cleveland Clinic had held their event there for eight years. By Friday evening,
16 charities had pulled their events from Mar-a-Lago, costing the Trump Organization hundreds of thousands, or possibly millions in lost revenues. Citing violence at Charlottesville,
Texas A&M and the University of Florida cancelled scheduled speaking appearances by white supremacist Richard Spencer, both citing safety concerns. On Thursday, Michigan State University
denied a request by Spencer to rent space on the campus for a September event. Students and graduates of
Lehigh University students petitioned trustees to revoke Trump’s honorary degree, citing Trump’s “both sides” remarks.
Thousands gathered at UVA on Wednesday night for an unannounced candlelight vigil. They chanted “love wins,” and sang “We Shall Overcome” and “Amazing Grace.” At a funeral for Heather Heyer mother, Susan Bro said, “
They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her.” Bro told NBC Thursday she has received death threats from hate groups.
Bro said she will not meet with Trump after he blamed “both sides” for violence in Charlottesville. She also has not picked up his phone calls. Trump
continued to tweet about Confederate statues after his news conference, “can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson — who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!”
The great-great grandchildren of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson called for Confederate statues to be removed. They also condemned the white supremacist and violence in Charlottesville. They also suggested statues be moved to museums.
Bertram Hayes-Davis, great-great-grandson of Jefferson Davis suggested, “In a public place, if it is offensive and people are taking issue with it, let’s move it.” In the days following the Charlottesville alt-right rally,
13 US cities and Duke University said they would remove Confederate monuments. Several other cities are considering same. After a terrorist attack in Spain, Trump tweeted about what
General Pershing did when terrorist were caught: “There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” . Politifact rated Trump’s claim, Pants on Fire Trump continued to do battle with Republicans,
targeting Flake who he called “toxic” and “WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate,” and Graham who he said “can’t forget his election trouncing.” Countering Trump,
McConnell offered his “full support” for Flake.
James Murdoch donated $1mm to the Anti-Defamation League in the wake of Charlottesville. As many of social media noted, Fox News played a major role in stoking the hate of far-right extremists. According to government
documents published by one of Murdoch’s newspapers Tuesday, Australian authorities denied a bid by Trump to build a casino in 1988 due to his ties to the mafia and organized crime.
HuffPost reported on Trump aide Katharine Gorka’s role in helping to pull DHS funding for Life After Hate, a group dedicated to countering neo-Nazis and white supremacists, as noted in Week 33. Of note: also in Week 33, the State Dept’s anti-Semitism monitoring office was shuttered. In an interview Thursday, former VP
Gore said if he could give Trump one piece of advice, it would be to resign. On Friday, the
17 remaining members of Trump’s presidential arts and humanities panel resigned Friday in protest over his Charlottesville comments. Trump’s WH responded late Friday, saying
Trump was going to disband the arts and humanities panel anyway. Trump and Melania said t
hey will not attend this year’s Kennedy Center Honors in December. According to Huckabee Sanders, the decision is meant to allow “honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.” The decision was made
after numerous honorees announced their intentions to skip or protest if Trump attended. After Trump’s cancelation, event organizers said, “We are grateful for this gesture.” NBC called this week
Trump’s “worst week yet,” and said he was more isolated than ever.
Hope Hicks took over as the interim WH communications director, as Trump continued his search to replace Scaramucci. Hicks is the fourth person in that role. Trump’s personal
lawyer John Dowd forwarded an email with secessionist Civil War propaganda. The email also stated the group Black Lives Matter “has been totally infiltrated by terrorist groups.” Trump’s DOJ issued a
warrant to DreamHost demanding the company turn over all IP addresses related to DisruptJ20.org, a website used in planning actions to interrupt Trump’s inauguration. A week after the inauguration, the DOJ had asked for
information such as people’s physical and email addresses and DreamHost had complied. DreamHost’s lawyers called the latest request a “ complete overreach.”
NYT reported Mueller, for the first time, is seeking to interview past and current members of Trump’s WH beyond Manafort, including members of the communications team. Mueller is interested in
interviewing Priebus about what occurred during the campaign and in the WH, especially as it relates to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting and the Comey firing. During a press conference on his visit to Columbia, Pence told reporters he
“never witnessed” any evidence of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, and that he was “not aware” of it ever having occurred.
WAPO reported Trump aid George Papadopoulos, starting in March 2016 with an email headed, “Meeting with Russian Leadership — Including Putin,” repeatedly tried to get Trump aides to meet with Russians. Experts on Russian intelligence speculated
his email chain offers further evidence that Russians were looking for entry points into the Trump campaign. Papalopoulos said he was acting as a Russian intermediary.
NYT reported on an investigation by Ukrainian investigators and the FBI of a Ukrainian malware expert named “Profexer,” for his part in a network of hackers allegedly engaged by Russia to hack the US election. Also under investigation is a
Russian government hacking group, Advanced Persistent Threat 28 or Fancy Bear, believed to be involved in the DNC hacking. Much of the work was outsourced to private vendors. In the
first know hitch, Mueller’s special counsel lost a top FBI investigator, Peter Strzok. It is unclear why Strzok stepped away. A US District court judge ruled that as part of a libel suit brought by Webzilla CEO Aleksej Gubarev against
Buzzfeed, Steele could be questioned about the funding and sourcing of the dossier. Rep Rohrabacher, an advocate for the Kremlin, said
he plans to brief Trump on his meeting with Assange. Assange told Rohrabacher that he was not behind the DNC hack, and that the Russians were not involved.
Assange is trying to strike a deal so he can stop living in asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. In Week 23, Sessions said the DOJ was preparing charges against Assange whose “arrest is a priority.”
The National Parks Service reversed a ban on plastic water bottles at national parks. The move came after confirmation of Trump’s Deputy Interior Secretary, who previously represented Deer Park Water. In a tweet, the Trump Organization featured a photo with the caption, “
From our Presidential ballroom to intimate historic room,” to advertise meeting and event space. Raising ethical concerns, Justice
Gorsuch is scheduled to address conservative groups at Trump Hotel DC in September, less than two weeks before the court will hear arguments on Trump’s Muslim Ban. Mattis’ DoD parted ways with senior media adviser, Steve Warren.
Pentagon reporters have complained about lack of access to Mattis, and some recently being kicked off Mattis’s Middle East trip last minute. On Friday, Trump friend and ally
Carl Icahn resigned as a special adviser to Trump, although Icahn had done nothing in that role. The WH said Icahn had been fired on Monday. Icahn resigned hours before
(see The New Yorker published a piece on his conflicts of interest Week 20). The head of a watchdog group said, “This kind of self-enrichment and influence” was “unprecedented.” Trump tweeted photos from Camp David of him signing the Global War on Terrorism War Memorial Act. Of the 14 people at the signing, there was
only one woman and not a single person of color. In an interview with
The American Prospect on Wednesday, a venting Bannon referred to white supremacists as “clowns” and “losers.” Contradicting Trump, Bannon said on N. Korea, “
there’s no military solution here, they got us,” and added, “it’s just a sideshow.” In new interviews, Bannon said he viewed the
post-Charlotte racial strife and turmoil as a political winner for Trump. On Friday,
Trump fired Bannon. According to Bannon allies, he submitted his intention to leave the WH on August 7.
Axios reported Bannon met with the billionaire Mercer family for five hours Friday in New York and “together they will be a well-funded force on the outside.” Bannon told
Bloomberg that he would be returning to run Breitbart, and that he would be “ going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America.” Bannon told the
Weekly Standard, “The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” saying Trump will not achieve his campaign promises. Bannon vowed to continue the fight from the outside. In an op-ed titled,
“I Voted for Trump, And I Sorely Regret It,” past avid supporter Julius Krein wrote of his disillusionment with Trump, and the realization that Trump would not achieve his stated goals. Right-wing radio host Limbaugh backed white nationalists and told his 26 million listeners that
America is on the “cusp of a second civil war,” blaming international financiers who are trying to bring down America. On Saturday,
Boston hosted a Free Speech Rally organized by conservatives and libertarians at Boston Commons. Friday, Mayor Walsh said 500 police officers would be there, and urged people to stay away. Thousands of counter-protestors
marched through downtown Boston to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Police estimated 15k peacefully marched.