George Orwell’s 1984: “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”
and 45 this week: “Just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,”
Week 89 of this: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
July 28, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-89-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-f710c1092ba
These are all of the images that passed through my feeds this week. The first one is by Jim Carrey. The second one is by Oddo Personnosrep from London, England.
This week there were dramatic developments in several areas which could be perilous trouble for Trump: a federal judge ruled an emoluments clauses lawsuit can proceed; Trump’s decades-long bookkeeper was subpoenaed to testify in the Southern District; leaked tapes revealed Trump knew about the payments to silence former Playboy model Karen McDougal just before the election — all as the trial of Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is set to kick off Tuesday. Michael Cohen asserted Trump knew about, and approved, the June 9 Trump Tower meeting with Russians to get dirt on Hillary;
Seeking to counter these closing walls, Trump continued to promote his alternative version of the truth, telling a crowd in Kansas City, and pushing a new storyline that Putin wants to help Democrats win the midterms. Trump reportedly is living in his own reality as well, admonishing staffers that only Fox should be on televisions, and retaliating against those who are critical of him, including exploring revoking security clearances and banning a reporter from a Rose Garden press briefing. “Just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,”
As a court deadline for reuniting migrant families arrived on Friday, 711 out of 2,551 children ages 5 to 17, and 46 children of 103 children under 5 have yet to be reunited with their parents, while the Trump regime claimed their work is done.
Trump accused the Mueller probe of trying to hurt Republicans in the midterms, tweeting “the Rigged Witch Hunt…seems intent on damaging the Republican Party’s chances in the November Election.”
Trump also tweeted, “No Collusion, No Obstruction,” adding, “13 Angry Democrats…want this Witch Hunt to drag out to the November Election,” saying the GOP needs to “get smart fast and expose what they are doing! On Sunday, Rep.
Trey Gowdy told “Fox News Sunday” that “It can be proven…that Russia is not our friend and they tried to attack us,” adding Trump regime members should consider quitting over Russia. On Sunday,
Sen. Marco Rubio said he wants a vote on the bipartisan DETER Act in which the DNI would be required to conclude if any foreign nations interfered in elections, and if so, sanctions would be imposed. On Saturday, the
Justice Department released a 412 page redacted copy of the FISA application seeking a warrant against Carter Page, along with three renewals, to news organizations that had filed FOIA lawsuits. The application says
Page was “the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government” to “undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election in violation of U.S. criminal law.” The application also revealed that Page “has been
collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government,” and efforts are being “coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with” Trump’s campaign. On Sunday, Page told “State of the Union” the FISA warrant accusations are “
so ridiculous,” “misleading,” and “a complete joke.” Page said “I sat in on some meetings, but to call me an adviser I think is way over the top.” On Sunday, in a series of tweets, Trump claimed, without evidence, to be vindicated, tweeting that the warrants
are “ridiculously heavily redacted.” Trump also tweeted there is “
little doubt that the Department of “Justice” and FBI misled the courts” — putting the word Justice in quotes. Trump called it a “Witch Hunt Rigged, a Scam!” Trump tweeted, without evidence,
his campaign “was illegally being spied upon (surveillance) for the political gain of Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC,” adding, “Republicans must get tough now. An illegal Scam!”
Trump also quoted Fox News’ Pete Hegseth and Andrew McCarthy, tweeting, “This is so bad that they should be looking at the judges who signed off on this,” and, “Page was just the foot to surveil…ILLEGAL!”
Lawfare reported the four judges who signed off on the FISA warrants were nominated by Republican presidents, and then and appointed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court by a conservative.
Lawfare also reported there are “ long-term, programmatic consequenceslong after we’re finished” with Trump — of allowing a FOIA request to apply to a highly-confidential FISA warrant. The redacted warrant also
dispels a claim by Rep. Devin Nunes and Trump that there was not proper disclosure that dossier author Christopher Steele was paid by Democrats: not only is this in a footnote, but also more than a full page in the applications. Later Sunday, Trump tweeted “Obama knew about Russia before the Election. Why didn’t he do something about it?”
Trump answered himself, tweeting, “Because it is all a big hoax, that’s why.” On Sunday, Trump also tweeted, “
I had a GREAT meeting with Putin,” blaming the “Fake News” for using every bit of their energy to “disparage it,” and adding, “so bad for our country!”
AP reported Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh suggested at a roundtable discussion in 1999 that the 8–0 ruling in 1974 that forced Nixon to turn over the Watergate tapes may have been wrongly decided.
WAPO reported documents released by the Interior Department under the FOIA on July 16, and retracted a day later reveal in Secretary Ryan Zinke’s quest to shrink national monuments last year, important evidence was dismissed. Zinke and aides
ignored information that public sites boosted tourism and spurred archaeological discoveries, focusing instead on logging, ranching, and energy development that would be unlocked. On Tuesday,
federal labor mediators advised the Education Department that it had engaged in “bad-faith bargaining” when it implemented a contract this year that gutted compensation and benefits provisions. The department also limited its 3,900 employees’ ability to carry out union duties during the work day.
Mediators said curtailing workers’ protections and access to union representation is in violation of federal law. On Wednesday, Education Department
Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed ending Obama-era policies which eased access to loan forgiveness for students defrauded by for-profit colleges. The Trump regime’s
new rules would require borrowers to prove they have fallen into deep financial distress to file for debt relief, or to prove the higher education institutions they attended had intentionally misled them. On Thursday, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that
the largest of the six lawsuits against the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department over the new citizenship question on the 2020 census can move forward.
Huffpost reported, based on applications obtained through a FOIA request, the federal government has issued more than three dozen permits allowing hunters to import lion trophies from Africa since 2016.
WAPO reported Trump has yet to nominate a science adviser to lead the Office of Science and Technology. Every administration since Eisenhower has named a science adviser by their first October, except Trump.
WAPO reported documents obtained by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) show the EPA worked to “discredit employees who sounded the alarm as they left the agency” in 2017. A report by the nonpartisan Brennan Center found
nine states with a history of racial discrimination are aggressively removing voters from their rolls, following the Supreme Court’s decision for Ohio purging in Week 87. Fox News reported that
several Republican candidates who are Nazis and anti-Semites have won their primaries, creating a headache for the Republican Party. On Monday,
hundreds of protestors, including many women dressed in the red cloaks and white bonnets of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” protested Vice President Pence during his visit to Philadelphia. On Thursday, WKXW-FM hosts Dennis Malloy and Judi Franco in New Jersey were
kicked off the air after calling Gurbir Grewal, the nation’s first Sikh attorney general, “turban man.” On Tuesday,
Rep. Maxine Waters’ office in Los Angeles was evacuated after receiving a package labeled “anthrax.” The item was determined not be a danger. On Tuesday, while addressing the conservative high school students at Turning Point USA High School Leadership Summit,
Attorney General Jeff Sessions briefly joined students in chants by students of “Lock her up!” On Thursday,
Sessions said “I perhaps should’ve taken a moment to advise them of the fact you’re presumed innocent until a case is made.” Chants of “Lock her up!” are still popular at Trump rallies and conservative events.
Guardian reported Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy has turned the windowless basement beneath the federal courthouse in San Diego into a pop-up “dungeon” like meeting place for lawyers and migrant clients.
Lawyers have three hours to introduce themselves, discuss why their clients crossed the border, and to explain the intricacies of plea deals and misdemeanors, before the clients are herded into court for a mass hearing. On Monday, in a court filing, the Trump regime said
463 migrant parents separated from their children have already been deported, and said that number is still “under review,” meaning the number could be higher. The regime has reunited
879 parents with their children out of 2,551 as of Monday, with the deadline for reunifying all by Thursday looming. The judge temporarily suspended deportations of families that have been reunited.
Texas Tribune reported in court filings, hundreds of migrants describe inhumane conditions in federal custody including cramped, cold conditions, and tearful separations of children and mothers.
Migrants also described rotten sandwich meat turned green or black, drinking water that smells like chlorine, and being told by border agents, “they don’t want stupid people like me here bothering their country.” On Tuesday, the Justice Department instructed U.S. attorneys offices in an agency-wide email not to use the term “undocumented” immigrants
and instead refer to someone illegally in the U.S. as “an illegal alien.” In 2013,
The Associated Press Stylebook changed its terminology to not describe a person as illegal, only actions. The DOJ said the goal is “to clear up some confusion and to be consistent in the way we draft our releases.”
The Nation reported a 6-year-old girl from Guatemala separated from her mother under Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy was sexually abused while at an Arizona detention facility run by Southwest Key Programs. The girl was
forced to sign a statement confirming that she understood it was her responsibility to stay away from her abuser, and was instructed to “maintain my distance from the other youth involved.” On Wednesday, PBS reported in 100 pages of testimony provided in court,
migrant parents they were pressured by immigration officials to sign forms waiving their reunification rights in a “coercive and misleading manner.” On Thursday, the Trump regime said in a court filing they had reunited
1,442 families with children ages 5 to 17, and said an additional 378 children have already been released under “appropriate circumstances.” Of the
711 still in government custody, the regime maintains that it could not or should not have reunited all of those children because their parents were deported, or declined to be reunified or have criminal histories. On Thursday,
BuzzFeed reported 123 asylum-seekers being held at a federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon, many of whom are Sikh and Hindu, are being denied religious items and time and space for prayers. On Friday,
NYT reported on children left behind after parents were misled and deported. One father from Guatemala said, “the official told me, ‘Sign here, and you will be deported together.’” He was deported alone.
Of the 711 children still in custody, 431 parents were deported; 120 have parents who waived the right to reunification; 79 have a parent here who has not been found; 94 have a parent whose location is under “review;” 67 have a parent who raised a “red flag.” The Trump regime
claimed it had met the San Diego court’s deadline, saying the 711 remaining children are not “eligible” to be given back.
The Trump regime continues to face immigration lawsuits across the country, including a case in Seattle filed by 17 states on family separations and how the government handles claims for asylum for children in detention. A federal judge in Los Angeles she would
appoint an independent monitor to evaluate conditions for migrant children housed in border processing centers. Advocates say children are being medicated for convenience.
WAPO reported according to her testimony to the Senate in April, Maria Butina received financial support from Russian billionaire Konstantin Nikolaev for a pro gun rights group in Russia from 2012–2014. Nikolaev’s fortune came from port and railroad investments in Russia. He is on the board of
American Ethane, a Houston company showcased by Trump at an event in China last year. He claims he has not met Trump. Nikolaev’s
son Andrey, who is studying in the U.S., volunteered for Trump’s 2016 campaign. Nikolaev was spotted at the Trump Hotel DCduring Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. Nikolaev’s net worth matches the description in the court filings last week for the billionaire “
funder” of Butina’s activities — a “known Russian businessman with deep ties to the Russian Presidential Administration.” Nikolaev has also
invested in Silicon Valley companies, including Grabr. Alexey Repik, a Russian pharmaceutical executive who attended Trump’s inauguration and had access to exclusive events, is also a Grabr investor. On Sunday,
Reuters reported that in April 2015, Butina traveled to the U.S. with Alexander Torshin, then the Russian Central Bank deputy governor, for separate meetings with Stanley Fischer and Nathan Sheets. Fischer was then the Federal Reserve vice chairman, and Sheets a Treasury undersecretary.
The meetings were arranged by the Center for the National Interest, a D.C. think tank supportive of improving U.S.-Russia relations. On Thursday, ABC News reported that one of the “friendship and dialogue dinners” with influential Americans that Butina held was
in February 2017 at Bistro Bis with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher also attended a meeting
Butina helped arrange two years earlier in St. Petersburg, Russia which also included her mentor, Kremlin-connected banker Torshin. On Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry demanded Butina be released, saying, “Her arrest is motivated solely by the motives of the U.S. domestic and foreign policy,
and therefore she is a political prisoner.” On Monday, in a series of tweets,
Trump called for the end of the Mueller probe, falsely claiming the “Fake Dirty Dossier” was “responsible for starting the totally conflicted and discredited Mueller Witch Hunt!” Trump also cited Tom Fitton on “Fox & Friends,” tweeting “misconduct by the FBI and the Justice Department” using the Dossier to get a search warrant on Page was “
a fraud and a hoax designed to target Trump…” On Monday,
WSJ reported at a briefing, the Department of Homeland Security for the first time publicly revealed that last year Russian hackers got inside the control rooms of U.S. electric utilities where they could have caused blackouts.
DHS said some companies still may not know they have been compromised, because the attackers used credentials of actual employees to get inside utility networks. Their goal is to be disguised as employees.
Hackers stole confidential information, such as how utility networks are configured, what equipment was in use, and how it was controlled. They familiarized themselves with how the facilities were supposed to work. On Tuesday,
offering no evidence, Trump tweeted, “I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election,” adding “they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats.” Putin acknowledged that
he wanted Trump to win at the Helsinki summit joint news conference. The Atlantic noted the White House transcript initially did not include this question in their transcript.
The discrepancy involved a question from a , “Did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?” Putin says, “Yes, I did. Yes, I did.” Reuters reporter After the “Rachel Maddow Show” and
The Post also raised the issue of the discrepancy in the transcript, the White House ultimately updated it to include the missing question on Thursday. On Thursday,
Daily Beast reported Russia’s GRU intelligence agency behind the 2016 election hacking targeted Sen. Claire McCaskill, a vulnerable Democrat, as she began her 2018 re-election campaign. McCaskill has been highly critical of Russia. In August 2017, around the time of the attempted hack,
Trump traveled to Missouri and attacked McCaskill, telling the crowd to “vote her out of office.”
McCaskill later released a statement: “While this attack was not successful, it is outrageous that they think they can get away with this. I will not be intimidated…Putin is a thug and a bully.” On Monday, press secretary
Sarah Sanders announced Trump is “looking to take away” security clearances for six former senior national security and intelligence officials who were critical of him over his Helsinki summit.
The officials, who served under W. Bush and Obama, include former CIA directors John Brennan and Michael Hayden, former FBI director James Comey, former NSA Susan Rice, former DNI James Clapper, and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. Comey and McCabe already lost security clearance when they were fired. Experts said while Trump probably does have the authority to unilaterally suspend or terminate a security clearance,
no president has ever done so. On Wednesday,
the White House banned CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins from attending a press event with Trump in the Rose Garden. Sanders claimed Collins “shouted questions and refused to leave.” Hours earlier, Collins peppered Trump with questions about Michael Cohen and the Helsinki meeting with Putin, while Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude sat for pictures,
typical for pool reporters.
CNN said in a statement, “This decision to bar a member of the press is retaliatory in nature and not indicative of an open and free press. We demand better.”
The President of Fox News said in a statement, “We stand in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press.”
White House Correspondents’ Association President said, “This type of retaliation is wholly inappropriate, wrong-headed, and weak. It cannot stand.” Reporters ask questions to hold people in power “accountable.” On Monday, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis
delayed the start of Paul Manafort’s case to July 31. Ellis will begin meeting jurors this week, as scheduled. The jury will consist of 16 people. The judge also
granted immunity for the five witnesses requested by Mueller: James Brennan, Donna Duggan, Conor O’Brien, Cindy Laporta, and Dennis Raico. Manafort appeared in court wearing a green jumpsuit. Two of the witnesses,
Brennan and Raico, worked at the The Federal Savings Bank in Chicago, the bank led by Stephen Calk which gave Manafort a $16 million loan, a significant portion of the bank’s capital. Mueller’s team asserts
Calk knew Manafort submitted a fraudulent loan application but approved it anyway because he wanted to be appointed by Trump as Secretary of the Army. On Monday, in a court filing,
U.S. prosecutors were given access to 12 audio recordings seized at the April Cohen raid. According to the retired judge Barbara Jones, “the parties” no longer object to the government listening. According to sources, Trump’s legal team had
originally asserted privilege, but later dropped their claim. Cohen attorney Lanny Davis tweeted, “The tapes will speak for themselves — spin can’t change facts.”
Vanity Fair reported according to Cohen allies, it’s not the recordings that are valuable, but the backstories. Sources say Cohen has discussed the content of the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower. Sources also say Rudy Giuliani, who had claimed the tapes were “exculpatory,” may have
waived privilege to undercut Cohen, who could have potentially used the tapes as a bargaining chip to cut a deal with prosecutors. On Tuesday, Cohen’s attorney
Davis gave CNN a copy of a recording of Cohen and Trump discussing how they would buy the rights to Karen McDougal’s story about an alleged affair Trump had with her years earlier. The recording reveals
Trump had contemporaneous knowledge of a proposal to buy the rights to the story. Cohen told Trump about his plans to set up a company and finance the purchase of the rights from AMI. On Wednesday,
WAPO reported the release came as a surprise to prosecutors handling the Cohen case. Former prosecutors found it off that someone angling for a plea deal would make potential evidence public. Inside the White House,
Trump reportedly raged about the release. Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted, “What kind of lawyer would tape a client? So sad!” His surrogates have attacked Cohen’s reputation. Sources say
the government seized more than 100 recordings that Cohen made of his conversations on his iPhone with people discussing matters that could relate to Trump and his businesses, and with Trump talking. On Wednesday,
WSJ reported federal investigators are examining the years-long dealings of Cohen and AMI. The DOJ is investigating whether AMI at times acted like an extension of Mr. Trump and his campaign. Prosecutors
subpoenaed AMI on the same day in early April that the FBI raided Cohen. Investigators subpoenaed AMI chairman and CEO David Pecker separately, and delivered a subpoena to AMI for information on the payment to McDougal. On Monday,
Politico reported Trump advisers have quietly begun planning for when Sanders departs. Bill Shine has been asking around for recommendations, and a short-list of replacements has already emerged. On Tuesday,
Ivanka announced she is shutting down her fashion brand, a year after stepping away from leading the business, claiming she wanted to avoid the appearance of profiting off her father’s presidency.
Ivanka’s brand had faced a consumer backlash, and retailers including Marshall’s, Nordstrom, T.J. Maxx, and Hudson’s Bay Company had stopped selling her products. Trump fans bought her products however. Ivanka was also criticized amid Trump’s
America first mantra for her products being manufactured in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and China, where low-wage laborers have limited ability to advocate for themselves. On Thursday, Axios reported
Ivanka and Kushner plan to stay at the White House for the long-term. They have gained power, having eliminated their adversaries including Steve Bannon and Rex Tillerson, and John Kelly is sidelined. Trump told CNBC that
stock market gains since the election give him the opportunity to fight trade wars, saying, “This is the time. You know the expression we’re playing with the bank’s money.” Trump also said, “I would have a higher stock market right now. …
It could be 80 percent if I didn’t want to do this.” Market gains have slowed with Trump’s tariffs, with the benchmark index up just 4.9% in 2018. On Tuesday, Harley Davidson announced Trump’s tariffs will cost the company
$50 million in profit this year, and an addition $100 million in 2019 — wiping out almost all the company’s 2019 projected profits. On Tuesday,
Whirlpool’s stock plunged 14.5%, the biggest loss since 1987, as Trump’s tariffs caused the prices of steel and aluminum used in the manufacture of the company’s products to substantially rise. On Tuesday, at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Kansas City,
Trump told farmers caught in his escalating trade war to be “a little patient” and they would be “the biggest beneficiaries” of his policies. Trump told the crowd of 4,000, “stick with us,” adding, “don’t believe the crap you see from
these people, the fake news.” Some veterans in the crowd then pointed, booed and hissed at journalists at the event. Trump also told the crowd, “
Just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” invoking comparison on social media to George Orwell’s book, “1984.” Trump’s heavily partisan remarks were unusual for an address to the nonpartisan VFW. After the event,
the national headquarters for the VFW issued a statement of support for the media, and condemning the boos. On Wednesday, the
Trump’s regime announced $12 billion in emergency aid to farmers caught in Trump’s trade war. The aid is designed to help farmers facing tariffs in China, Mexico, and other countries retaliating.
The regime will largely rely on a 1933 program called the Commodity Credit Corporation, a division of the Agriculture Department created during the Great Depression to reimburse farmers for lost business.
On Wednesday, in a series of tweets, Trump attacked critics of his tariffs, tweeting, “every time I see a weak politician asking to stop Trade talks or the use of Tariffs…I wonder, what can they be thinking?”
Trump also tweeted, “Are we just going to continue and let our farmers and country get ripped off?” saying, “negotiations are going really well, be cool,” and “China is targeting our farmers” and “being vicious.” On Wednesday, automakers
Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler scaled back their 2018 earnings due to rising prices for raw materials. GM stock fell 8% and Fiat Chrysler 16% intraday — the worst plunge in years. On Wednesday,
Reuters reported the European Union is readying a package of tariffs on $20 billion of U.S. goods if Trump imposes trade levies on imported cars, as threatened. On Wednesday, after a meeting with European Commission President Junckner and Trump backing off his EU tariff threat, and
declared “very big day for free and fair trade,” despite the fact no deal was agreed to.
NYT reported that Trump was upset when Melania’s television aboard Air Force One was tuned to CNN. He raged at this stuff for violating a rule that the White House entourage should watch Fox. Trump is
increasingly living in a world of select information, abetted by aides who insulate him from the outside world, and he bends the truth to his own narrative. For now, his approval with Republicans remains high.
Axios reported Trump has been frustrated and has complained that some of his recent TV appearances have not had the production values of the prime time TV shows he watches daily. Bill Shine will help. On Thursday, Facebook’s market value fell by $119 billion or 19%, the
largest one-day loss in market value by any company in U.S. stock market history, after releasing a disastrous quarterly report. On Tuesday, a Quinnipiac poll showed
Trump’s approval dropped from 38 approve, 58 disapprove in July 24, compared to 43 approve, 52 disapprove on June 20. Just 31% of women approve of Trump (64% disapprove). American voters
believe 51–35 percent “that the Russian government has compromising information” on Trump, and 68% are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about Trump’s relationship with Russia. On Wednesday, a NBC News/Marist poll found
Trump’s approval sagging in three Midwest states: Michigan 36 approve/54 disapprove; Minnesota 38/51: and Wisconsin 36/52. Also in those states,
the majority do not believe Trump deserves to be re-elected versus try someone new: Michigan 28/62; Minnesota 38/60; Wisconsin 31/63. On Wednesday, a federal judge in Maryland said
he will allow plaintiffs to proceed with their case, which says Trump has violated the emoluments clauses, little-used anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution. The marks
the first time in U.S. history that a federal judge has interpreted those constitutional provisions and applied their restrictions to a sitting president. The opinion says the Constitution’s ban on emoluments
could cover any business transactions with foreign governments where Trump derived a “profit, gain or advantage.” Trump has not divested of his business empire. On Wednesday, Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, two top Trump-allies in the House,
filed articles of impeachment to oust Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the overseer of the Special Counsel investigation. Meadows however sidestepped a procedural move that
could have forced the issue to a vote as the House prepared to leave for a five-week summer recess, and will not return until September. On Thursday, Speaker Paul Ryan
firmly rejected the effort to impeach Rosenstein. Later, conservatives said Ryan agreed to give the DOJ “one last chance” in August to turn over the documents lawmakers have subpoenaed. On Thursday,
NYT reported Mueller’s team is examining Trump’s tweets and negative comments about Sessions and Comey as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into possible obstruction of justice. Mueller’s team has told Mr. Trump’s lawyers
they are examining the tweets under a section “Tampering With a Witness, Victim, or an Informant,” suggesting they may be investigating Trump for witness tampering.
Investigators want to interview Trump about tweets he wrote about Sessions and Comey, and why he has continued to publicly criticize Comey and McCabe, another possible witness against Trump. On Thursday,
WSJ reported Allen Weisselberg, a longtime bookkeeper for Trump, has been subpoenaed to testify as a witness before a federal grand jury in the criminal probe Cohen. It is not known if he has appeared yet. Weisselberg, has served as executive vice president and chief financial officer at the Trump Organization for decades, and has been described as “
the most senior person in the organization that’s not a Trump.” Weisselberg is
prized by Trump for his loyalty. He worked for Trump’s father, Fred’s, real-estate firm in the 1980s. For years, at least through the financial crisis, Weisselberg prepared Trump’s tax returns. He has been
linked to the payments made to Stephanie Clifford and McDougal, and is mentioned in the recording released by Cohen this week, “I’ve spoken with Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up.” On Sunday,
WAPO reported that since Kim Jong Un’s summit with Trump, North Koreans have canceled follow-up meetings, demanded more money, and failed to maintain basic communications with the U.S. Even as Trump told the media last week, “Discussions are ongoing and they’re going very well,”
North Korea maintains a testing facility Trump said would be destroyed, and is hiding key parts of its nuclear program.
Trump has vented his frustration to staffers over lack of progress, as North Korea fully engages with South Korea and China. Trump said Russia would help, but UN ambassador Nikki Haley said Russia is abetting illegal smuggling. On Sunday night,
Trump tweeted there would be “consequences” if Iranian President Hassan Rouhani continues threatening America: “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”
Trump added, “WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!” The threat was similar to those made to Kim Jong Un. On Monday,
Bolton doubled-down on Trump’s threat in a statement to reporters, saying he spoke to Trump and “if Iran does anything at all to the negative, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid before. ” On Tuesday,
Reuters reported the Kremlin was reticent on the idea of a second summit in Washington D.C. Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov suggested the two could possibly meet at the G20 in Argentina in late November. On Tuesday, CNN reported t
he White House has suspended the practice of publishing public summaries, known as “readouts,” of Trump’s phone calls with world leaders, breaking a long-time precedent of both parties. Trump has had
at least two calls with foreign leaders in the last two weeks, including Turkish President Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. The calls were reported first by foreign media. On Wednesday, Bolton announced that
Trump will postpone the second summit with Putin until next year, saying Trump believes the second meeting “should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over.” Republican leaders
Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had said Putin would not be welcome for meetings on Capitol Hill, which customarily occur when a foreign head of state visits Washington. On Friday,
Putin said he is ready to go to Washington D.C., and for Trump to come to Moscow, saying, “He has this invitation already and I told him about it,” adding but there “has to be necessary conditions.” It is
not clear when Putin first invited Trump to Moscow — details from their meeting remain unknown. On Friday, Sanders said Trump is open to visiting Russia if Putin extends a formal invitation. On Wednesday,
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Trump’s meetings with Putin and Kim Jong Un. Pompeo was defiant, sparring with senators from both sides. Ahead of his testimony,
knowing Pompeo would be grilled on Crimea, the State Department issued a “declaration” stating the U.S. rejects Russia’s annexation of Crimea and calling on Russia to end its occupation. In three hours of testimony,
Pompeo dodged questions from frustrated senators on both sides asking for more information on Trump’s meeting with Putin, saying, “Presidents are entitled to have private meetings.” Committee chair Bob Corker said
senators have “serious doubts” about Trump’s foreign policy, saying the White House “is making it up as they go,” and intentionally creates distrust in institutions like NATO. Sen. Robert Menendez said the takeaways are the regime “is increasingly not transparent” and
on North Korea, “we have no agreements on anything.” Pompeo said North Korea has a different definition of denuclearization. On Thursday,
Trump tweeted “we will look into…‘SHADOW BANNING’” Republicans — suppressing their content on Twitter. Twitter acknowledged the issue, calling it unintentional and saying it was not targeting Republicans. On Thursday, CNN reported Cohen says
Trump knew in advance about the June 9 meeting where Russians were expected to give his campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton, and is willing to make that assertion to Mueller. Cohen alleges he was present, along with several others, when
Donald Jr. informed Trump about the Russians’ offer. Cohen claims Trump approvedgoing ahead with the meeting with the Russians. On Friday, Trump responded to Cohen’s allegations,
tweeting, “I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr.” Giuliani also continued to try to discredit Cohen, saying he is not credible.
Trump also lashed out at Cohen, tweeting, “Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam (Taxi cabs maybe?). He even retained Bill and Crooked Hillary’s lawyer.” Trump also
repeated his false statement, tweeting, “the only Collusion with Russia was with the Democrats,” adding, “the rigged Witch Hunt continues! How stupid and unfair to our Country…” On Thursday,
AP reported Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian said to have promised Donald Jr. dirt on Hillary, worked more closely with senior Russian government officials than she previously disclosed. Scores of emails, transcripts, and legal documents obtained through Russian opposition figure Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s London-based investigative unit,
portray Veselnitskaya as a well connected attorney. On Friday, at a community forum in West Hollywood, Michael Avenatti claimed he is now representing
three additional women who had relations with Trump and were “paid hush money prior to the 2016 election.”
VICE reported Anastasia Vashukevich, who claims to have hours of tapes of conversations with Oleg Deripaska, will give the tapes to Deripaska. FBI investigators have tried to speak with her, but were rebuffed by Thai authorities. TMZ first reported Kristin Davis, known as the “Manhattan Madam,” was
subpoenaed by Mueller’s team as part of the Russia probe. Davis worked for Roger Stone for over a decade and the two are close friends. Lori Stegmann, a devout Republican commissioner in northwestern Oregon
became a Democrat, saying “I cannot condone the misogyny, the racism, and the unethical and immoral behavior” of the Trump regime. Stegmann, an orphan and an immigrant, said, “I feel like I struck a nerve because
so many people told me ‘That’s what I’m feeling,’ and ‘You’re right, the Republican party I joined has changed.’”
Week 89: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
July 21, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-88-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-c4edff1d80a2
This week it was hard to believe what was happening right before our eyes: stood on stage in Helsinki, after a two hour, private meeting with Putin, and Trump The free-world looked on in horror, and there was bipartisan outrage back at home — even concern raised that Trump may be compromised — and yet, as the week came to a close, Trump suffered no real consequences. The Republicans even rewarded him by inexplicably backing his partial ban of Chinese telecom company ZTE. sided with our former foreign adversary over the U.S. intelligence community.
Trump stumbled defiantly through the rest of a shocking week: shifting his positions on backing U.S. intelligence, considering an offer to allow Russian intelligence to question the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, publicly criticizing the Federal Reserve, and threatening his former fixer Michael Cohen who had taped their conversations.
Russian Maria Butina was arrested and indicted on charges of spying — the 26th Russian to be indicted but first Russian to face charges in U.S. court for interfering in the 2016 election. As Butina’s ties to the NRA surfaced, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin took steps to change existing rules and allow dark money donors to remain anonymous. Shockingly, as the week came to a close, Trump has still yet to admit it was Russia who interfered in the 2016 election.
Los Angeles, CA ~ March 2018
On Sunday, British PM Theresa May told BBC that when she met with Trump,
he advised her to sue the European Union, not go into negotiations. May noted this was in contrast to what he said at their new conference, “don’t walk away.” The
White House canceled National Security Adviser John Bolton’s scheduled interview for Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted that a CNN reporter had “disrespected @POTUS & PM May.” On Sunday,
NYT reported British investigators believe the nerve agent attack against Sergei Skripal and his daughter was likely carried out by GRU, the same Russian military intelligence indicted in the Mueller probe. On Sunday, in an interview on “CBS Evening News,” when Trump was asked about our biggest global foes ahead of Helsinki, he responded, “
I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade.” On Sunday, en route to Helsinki, Trump tweeted he was looking forward to his meeting with Putin, while mocking critics, “I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition!” and
calling the media “the enemy of the people.” As Trump and Putin were set to arrive, Finnish newspaper
Helsingin Sanomat financed 300 billboards on the routes from the airport to the summit which read, “ Mr. President, welcome to the land of free press.” On Sunday,
Daily Mail reported that Morry Matson, a CVS in manager in Ohio and former Trump delegate, called the police on a black woman for trying to use a coupon at his store. Matson was dubbed “Coupon Carl.” The
Toledo Blade reported a woman spray-painted “Hail Trump” and the N-word on a neighbor’s home, just hours before Toledo’s annual African-American Parade. Patricia Edelen, 47, was arrested. The mayor of Wilmington, Delaware apologized after Muslim children from the the Darul Amaanah Academy summer camp
were asked to leave a public pool because of their religious clothing.
Cal Poly rescinded a scholarship for pro-Trump wrestler Bronson Harmonafter video surfaced of him yelling an anti-gay slur and making an obscene gesture during a counter-protest to a Families Belong Together march. The
Tennessean reported on a record number of Tennesseans using Confederate flag license plates: there were 3,273 active plates in June 2018, up 72% from June 2015. A HuffPost/YouGov survey found
85% of Trump voters believe MS-13, the gang Trump frequently conjures to defend his immigration policy, is a very serious or somewhat serious threat to the entire U.S. On Sunday,
Trump’s Health and Human Services Department submitted revised plans to reunite families, after Judge Dana Sabraw accused the regime using safety concerns as “cover” to avoid meeting his July 26 deadline. Judge Sabraw said the government “has an absolute 100 percent obligation to meet these deadlines and to do it safely.” The regime
will use methods other than DNA testing to verify parentage for older children. On Sunday,
WAPO reported that experts say migrant children being reunited with parents may be deeply traumatized. Some children suffer nightmares, others have trouble trusting their parents again. A ten-year old described seeing an out-of-control
kindergartener get injected with something after he misbehaved in class. She added, “They told us to behave, or we’d be there forever.” On Thursday, NBC News reported that as the court imposed July 26 deadline nears for the regime to reunify the
2,551 migrant children over 5 years old, in a court filing the regime said they have just unified just 364 so far.
Of 1,607 parents eligible to be reunited, 719 have final orders of deportation, leaving them with the choice of bringing their child back to a violent country or leaving them behind in the care of the U.S. government. The
judge temporarily halted the regime from deporting reunited migrant families, accepting the ACLU argument that many of who plan to seek asylum need time to file claims. On Friday, the
Trump regime told the court that the federal government has reunited 450 children ages 5 to 17 years old. Judge Sabraw said, “I am very impressed with the effort that is being made.” On Monday, hours before his one-on-one summit with Putin, Trump sent two tweets calling
the Mueller probe a “Rigged Witch Hunt” twice, and again blamed Obama for doing nothing.
Trump also tweeted, “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity,” and falsely claimed the probe was headed by Peter Strzok. The Twitter account for the
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affair, headed by Sergey Lavrov, tweeted, “We agree.” On Monday,
Germany’s foreign minister said Europe could no longer rely on the U.S. after Trump called the European Union a “foe,” urging Europeans to close ranks and readjust its partnership with the U.S.
Putin arrived late, and the summit at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki started about an hour after schedule. In a short public greeting, Trump declared he expected to have an “extraordinary relationship” with Putin. Trump and Putin started by speaking alone, with only interpreters,
for two hours — longer than the 90 minutes allotted on Trump’s daily schedule. After, the two held a 46 minute news conference. Unlike his adversarial tone with NATO allies,
Trump refused to challenge Putin in any way, including his claim that Russia did not interfere in the U.S. election, saying, “I have President Putin — he just said it’s not Russia.” Trump made
no mention of the Justice Department’s 12 indictments, and when pressed said, “I have great confidence in my intelligence people,” but Putin was “extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.” When asked if he would hold Russia accountable at all,
Trump said, “I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish,” adding, “the probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart.” Trump declined an invitation by an
AP reporter, with the world watching, to warn Putin not to interfere again, instead deferring to Putin who said, Russia “has never interfered and is not going to interfere” in U.S. elections. Putin suggested what Trump described as an “
interesting idea” — Mueller’s investigators could come to Moscow and question the Russian suspects, so long as Russians could come to Washington D.C. to do the same.
Trump insisted his campaign did not collude with Russia, and then rattled off conspiracy theories. When Putin was asked if he had compromising information on Trump, he said, “It’s hard to imagine greater nonsense.”
Former intelligence chiefs condemned Trump. Former CIA Director John Brennan tweeted Trump’s performance “exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors,” calling it, “nothing short of treasonous.” Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Trump “failed America today.” Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Trump “
essentially capitulated and seems intimidated” by Putin. Sen. John McCain and several Democrats spoke out forcefully. McCain called the summit “a tragic mistake,” adding Trump delivered “
one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” On Monday, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats issued a statement saying U.S. intelligence has been “
clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy.” On Monday,
Trump played down his earlier comments, tweeting, “I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people,” adding, “to build a brighter future,” the two largest nuclear powers, “must get along!” On Monday, other Republicans reacted, but
mainly in muted ways, defending the U.S. intelligence community and their assessment, but offering muted criticism of Trump and his behavior.
Reuters reported Russian establishment viewed the summit as a win for Putin, noting the symbolism of a U.S. leader sitting down with Putin after four years of international isolation triggered by the annexation of Crimea. Russia state TV reported “
Trump is ours,” and joked the U.S. lawmakers came to Russia “to make deals with our hackers” for midterms. They report Putin will run circles around “political neophyte” Trump. After the summit, in an interview with Sean Hannity that aired Monday night,
Trump praised Putin: “I thought President Putin was very, very strong,” adding, “I think we’re doing really well with Russia as of today.” Late Monday,
Trump returned from Helsinki to face protests at the White House. Protestors chanted, “Putin’s puppet” and “traitor” and carried giant letters that spelled out “liar.” On Tuesday,
Motherboard reported Election Systems and Software, the top voting machine maker, admitted in a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden that it installed remote-access software on election-management systems. The company says it provided remote connection software “to a
small number of customers between 2000 and 2006,” contradicting earlier statements, and raising concern about the security of their systems. On Tuesday,
Vanity Fair reported Trump was surprised by the outrage about his summit. By time he landed back in Washington D.C., Trump “was enraged there was a lack of people out there defending him,” Reportedly, chief of staff
John Kelly was irate about Trump’s comments at the summit, and called around to Republicans on Capitol Hill, giving them the go-ahead to speak out against Trump. On Tuesday, amid
widespread criticism and condemnations, Trump tweeted, “While I had a great meeting with NATO…I had an even better meeting” with Putin, blaming “the Fake News” for misreporting. On Tuesday, Sen.
Mark Warner, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said he is concerned Trump got “taken advantage of” in his private session with Putin, saying, “We sure as heck need a briefing.” On Tuesday, Speaker Paul Ryan said
the House may consider new sanctions on Russia. Ryan also said there is “ no question” Russia interfered in 2016 election and “is not our ally.” Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo will testify before Bob Corker’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 25. Although the hearing was scheduled on North Korea, he is expected to be grilled on Trump’s meeting with Putin. On Tuesday,
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and GOP leaders used their weekly press conference to support U.S. intelligence findings on Russian interference, and to reassure Europe about America’s commitment to its allies. McConnell said
the Senate might move forward with new sanctions against Russia in the wake of Trump’s remarks, mentioning the bipartisan bill from Sens. Marco Rubio and Chris Van Hollen, which would impose new penalties. Facing pressure,
reading from a prepared statement, Trump said he misspoke in Helsinki, saying, “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place.” Trump claimed as he read the written statement, “
The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.’ Sort of a double negative,” in explaining his shifting position.
Trump then ad-libbed and contradicted himself, “Could be other people also. A lot of people out there,” and added, “There was no collusion at all.” This jibes with Trump’s unwillingness to call out Russia. Photos of the note Trump was reading surfaced.
At the top was an addition in black marker which read, “THERE WAS NO COLUSION,” and Trump crossed out the words, “Anyone involved in that meddling to justice.” A few hours later,
Trump seemed to reverse course again, tweeting, “The meeting between President Putin and myself was a great success,” and blamed the media, “except in the Fake News Media!” A CBS poll found
just 32% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the Helsinki summit, including 68% of Republicans. Seven in ten believe the U.S. intelligence assessments that Russia interfered in the elections. On Monday, the Justice Department disclosed that
Maria Butina was arrested Sunday and appeared Monday in court.
Butina is accused of trying to cultivate relationships with American politicians over a two-year period. Butina twice tried to set up secret meetings between Trump and Putin during the 2016 campaign.
In June 2015, as Trump announced his campaign, Butina wrote a column in a conservative U.S. magazine, suggesting that only by electing a Republican could the U.S. and Russia hope to improve relations. In July 2015, at FreedomFest in Las Vegas,
she asked Trump about his foreign politics relating to Russia at a public event. He answered, “I know Putin and I’ll tell you what, we get along with Putin.” According to charges, at the behest of Alexander Torshin, a Russian government official,
Butina made connections through the National Rifle Association and religious organizations to steer the GOP towards pro-Russia positions.
Butina is the 26th Russian to face charges in the Russia investigation, and the first to be arrested. Charges were filed by the DOJ, which already had an investigation underway, and worked parallel to the Mueller probe. In May 2016, Torshin and Butina proposed a meeting between Trump and Putin during the annual NRA convention in Kentucky. Kushner shot the idea down,
and instead Donald Jr. met the two at the NRA dinner. The charges also say an American operative met with Butina in Moscow and helped identify political, news media, and business officials to target —
the most explicit evidence yet of an American aiding Russian efforts. On Tuesday,
a federal grand jury approved a criminal indictment of Butina with two charges, conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent. Her lawyer denied she was an “agent of the Russian Federation.” On Monday, Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. Treasury would no longer require certain tax-exempt organizations including politically active nonprofit groups,
such as the NRA, to report dark money donors. Butina, who once posed with guns in Russian
GQ magazine, pleaded not guilty to acting as a covert Russian agent working with Torshin in a plan that “ was calculated, patient, and directed by the Russian Official.” Authorities said Butina used a student visa to attend American University, and through a
pro-gun organization set up in Russia, got in contact with GOP operative Paul Erickson and other top NRA officials as early as 2013. Authorities also
alleged Erickson had “involvement” in Butina’s efforts to establish a “back channel” line of communication between the Kremlin and the Republican Party through the NRA. On Tuesday, Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee tweeted
Democrats wanted to interview Butina, but “GOP members of HPSCI refused our request to bring her and others in.” On Tuesday, in a court filing,
Mueller asked the judge to grant immunity from prosecution for five potential witnesses whose testimony Mueller may want to compel in the upcoming Paul Manafort trial. Mueller said the potential witnesses have not been identified publicly in connection with the case, and
asked the judge to seal from public view the court motions detailing the witnesses’ identities. On Tuesday, CNN reported the MP leading a British investigation into online disinformation said
data collected by Professor Aleksandr Kogan on behalf of Cambridge Analytica had been accessed from Russia and other countries. On Wednesday, CNN reported
prosecutors from Mueller’s team met with attorneys representing Andrew Miller, a former Roger Stone associate, and spent almost 90 minutes in a sealed court proceeding before Chief Judge Beryl Howell. The meeting signals
Stone is still under investigation by Mueller team. Howell oversees matters related to the federal grand jury that has indicted in Week 87, led to the indictments of 12 Russians. On Wednesday,
Mueller’s team published nearly 500 pieces of evidence for the Manafort trial, which begins next week. Exhibits include Manafort’s homes, cars, a $21,000 watch, and high-end clothing. There will also be photographs of the putting green at his home in the Hamptons, as well as
email communication between Manafort and Tad Devine, a Democratic consultant, who worked for Ukrainian President Yanukovych. On Monday, FCC Chairman
Ajit Pai announced he has serious concerns about Sinclair Broadcast Group’s acquisition of Tribune Media, saying he would put the deal through a lengthy administrative process, likely dooming it.
AP reported Trump will be the first sitting president to skip the All-Star Game in Washington D.C., citing his preference for friendly crowds.
NYT reported Trump has yet to award the National Arts Medals, an award created by Congress in 1985 to recognize the country’s greatest artists, which typically goes to about a dozen artists each year. On Tuesday, the
Scotsman reported U.S. government spending records show Trump’s Turnberry firm was paid £52,477 to cover the accommodation bill for his weekend stay at his resort. In an op-ed Beck Dorey-Stein, a White House stenographer from 2012 to 2017, a staffer position that stays through changing administrations, said
Trump uniquely refused to be recorded and have a record of his words. In an interview, Dorey-Stein said “I quit because I couldn’t be proud of where I worked anymore,” adding, “
I felt like President Trump was lying to the American people.” On Wednesday, New York Gov.
Andrew Cuomo opened the door to a possible criminal case against the Donald J. Trump Foundation, saying the state will provide a criminal referral if Attorney General Barbara Underwood asks for it. CNN reported on a 2016 panel in which Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, when asked what one decision should be overturned,
said he would “put the nail” in the ruling which upholds independent counsels. On Wednesday,
WAPO reported Trump loyalists at the Department of Veteran Affairs are taking aggressive steps to purge or reassign staff members disloyal to Trump ahead of Robert Wilkie’s likely confirmation. On Wednesday,
the Senate confirmed Trump’s 23rd circuit court judge, breaking a record set by George H.W. Bush who got 22 confirmed. On Wednesday, anti-Trump protestors, joined by lawmakers,
held a candlelight vigil in front of the White House to protest Trump’s refusal to denounce Russian interference, and to show support for Mueller. Protestors chanted, “Hell naw Kavanaugh,” and “Trump is not above the law!” According to organizers,
similar protests took place in 200 cities around the country. On Wednesday,
Politico reported the Interior Department’s internal watchdog opened a full investigation into a real estate deal involving a foundation established by Secretary Ryan Zinke and Halliburton Chairman David Lesar. Under the arrangement, Lesar would be building a parking lot to benefit a major redevelopment project that
could raise the land value of Zinke’s nearby properties. Zinke has oversight over issues impacting Halliburton. On Thursday, the Trump regime’s Interior and Commerce departments announced
a joint proposal which would strip the Endangered Species Act of key provisions, weakening a law enacted 45 years ago. If approved,
protections for threatened plants and animals would be made on a case-by-case basis. The proposal would also strike the phrase “without reference to possible economic or other impacts” from the Act’s language. Conservationists decried much of the proposal, including the
removal of a requirement compelling federal agencies to consult with scientists and wildlife agencies before approving permits for ventures such as drilling.
Daily Beast reported Michael Barry, the senior National Security Council director for intelligence programs, is leaving the White House to rejoin the CIA, creating another in the growing list of vacancies in Bolton’s NSC. On Wednesday,
James Comey, a Republican, urged votes for Democrats in the midterms, tweeting, “This Republican Congress has proven incapable of fulfilling the Founders’ design that “Ambition must..counteract ambition.” On Tuesday, in an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson,
Trump said he’s bothered by Article 5 provisions of NATO that require the U.S. to come to the defense of other member countries. Carlson mentioned the small country of Montenegro, to which Trump responded, “
They’re very strong people, they’re very aggressive people. They may get aggressive and, congratulations, you’re in World War Three.” Russia has made clear they view the region as part of their sphere of influence, and
said the country would “regret” joining NATO in 2017. Article 5 has only been invoked once, after the U.S. was attacked on 9–11. On Wednesday,
Trump continued to defend his Helsinki performance in a series of tweets, saying, “So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki.” Trump added, “
Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting,” saying even compared to the NATO summit, his meeting with Russia “may prove to be, in the long run, an even greater success.”
Trump also said, “Some people HATE” that he gets along well with Putin,” adding, “They would rather go to war than see this. It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome!” On Wednesday, when asked by a reporter whether Russia is still interfering in U.S. elections,
Trump answered, “no,” contradicting Coats, and his declaration Tuesday that he believes U.S. intelligence on Russia. On Wednesday, at the Aspen Security Forum, FBI director
Christopher Wray said he has threatened to resign. Wray reaffirmed that “Russia attempted to interfere with the last election and…continues to engage in malign influence.” On Wednesday, press secretary Sanders held a White House daily briefing for the
first time in over two weeks. Sanders covered for
Trump’s “no” answer, claiming it was in response to taking further questions from the press, saying the regime is “working very hard to make sure that Russia is unable to meddle in our elections.” Sanders refused to rule out the Kremlin’s request to question Americans, saying
Trump is open to the idea of having former U.S. ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul questioned by Russia, and Trump is “going to meet with his team” to discuss the offer. That Trump was
considering turning over Americans drew astonishment and outrage from current and former U.S. officials. The proposition is unheard of. McFaul served as U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012–2014. On Thursday, the Senate
planned a resolution introduced by Democrats to block Trump from allowing Americans, such as McFaul, from being questioned by Russian intelligence. Shortly after,
press secretary Sanders announced Trump disagreed with Putin’s proposal, which she said had been “made in sincerity.” Trump initially had described the idea as an “incredible offer.” The Senate’s resolution passed 98–0.
WAPO reported Trump did not understand the massive diplomatic and security implications of turning Americans over to an autocratic regime that jails and kills dissidents. On Thursday,
WAPO reported as Russian officials describe “important verbal agreements” in Helsinki, at the most senior levels across the U.S. military, officials are scrambling to determine what Trump agreed to.
Press officers at the Pentagon are unable to answer media questions. As Moscow suggests a new arrangement regarding Syria, the U.S. General in the region was scheduled to brief media and did not yet know details. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis did not attend Trump’s Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, and
has not appeared in public this week, or been available for comment. While Trump continued to tweet about the “big results” from the summit,
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the regime was “assessing . . . three takeaways,” which she characterized as “modest.” On Thursday,
Trump-ally Devin Nunes blocked Rep. Schiff’s motion to subpoena the interpreter at Trump’s Helsinki summit with Putin to testify in closed session before the House Intelligence committee. On Thursday, in a speech on the House floor, House Minority Whip
Steny Hoyer called on Republicans to bring up an amendment providing additional funding for election security, as House Democrats chanted “USA.” On Thursday,
Trump criticized the European Union again, using the excuse of an EU fine on Google, tweeting, “I told you so!…They truly have taken advantage of the U.S., but not for long!” Trump blamed the media for outrage over his Putin summit, which he said was “a great success,” and
again said referred to the media as “the real enemy of the people,” and “the Fake News Media.” Trump also tweeted, “
The Fake News Media is going Crazy,” and accused the media of lying, saying, “Many of the stories written about me, and the good people surrounding me, are total fiction.” Trump accused the “Fake News Media” of
wanting “so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war,” tweeting they hate “that I’ll probably have a good relationship with Putin.” Trump also tweeted, “
The Democrats have a death wish, in more ways than one,” saying Democrats want to abolish ICE. On Thursday,
Putin warned there are certain political “forces” in the U.S. — a reference to what he views as an anti-Russian cabal within U.S. national security — trying to undermine his successful summit with Trump. Putin again
invoked this deep state notion, saying consider the efforts of a “quite powerful” group in Washington that seeks to undermine good relations between the U.S. and Russia. On Thursday, Sanders tweeted
Trump had asked national security adviser John Bolton to issue an invitation to Putin to come to “Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway.” Sander’s tweet was
sent hours after Trump had tweeted that he was looking forward to “our second meeting” with Putin, and defended his Helsinki summit performance. On Thursday, in an interview at the Aspen Security Forum,
DNI Coats told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that he still does not know what happened in Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Putin. Coats said he hopes to learn more about the meeting, adding of the summit, “
If he had asked me how that ought to be conducted I would have suggested a different way, but that’s not my role, that’s not my job.” Coats also
warned of a “cyber-9/11,” saying there are threats, “every day, against our institutions, against our military, against our financial services, against our critical infrastructure.”
Coats said he felt the need to “correct the record” when he issued a statement Monday reaffirming that the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia interfered, after Trump’s statement at the summit. Coats also said
he was not made aware of until it was made public that Sergey Kislyak and Lavrov met with Trump in the Oval office in May 2017. Coats noted with a long sigh that it was probably not the best thing to do. During the interview, Mitchell read Coats the tweet by Sanders on a second summit with Putin in Washington.
Coats said, “Say that again?” and then added, “Okaayyy, that’s gonna be special.” Coats was also asked if he is considering resigning, to which he responded, “
That’s a place I don’t really go to publicly.” Earlier at the Aspen Security Forum, Tom Burt, Microsoft’s vice president for customer security and trust,
said the same Russians who hacked the DNC have targeted at least three 2018 Congressional campaigns. Burt declined to name the candidates or their party, citing privacy concerns,
but said they are notable candidates running for reelection. Trump’s DHS has said they’ve seen no sustained campaign against election systems. Also at Aspen, deputy attorney general
Rod Rosenstein said the DOJ will inform American companies, private organizations, and individuals if they are being covertly attacked in order to affect elections or the political process. Rosenstein said
focusing on a single election misses the point, adding Russian threats are “pervasive,” and “meant to undermine America’s democracy on a daily basis,” whether it is election time or not. Also at Aspen, Secretary of Homeland Security
Kirstjen Nielsen refused to say whether Russian interference in 2016 helped Trump, saying she had not seen “any evidence” interference was to “favor a particular political party.” When asked about Trump’s comment that there were “fine people on both sides” in Charlottesville,
Nielsen also blamed both sides, responding, “It’s not that one side was right and one side was wrong.” On Thursday, Republicans in the House
voted down a Democratic effort to increase election security spending.
Politico reported based on a survey of all 50 states, most states’ election offices have failed to fix their most glaring security weaknesses, and few have plans for how to use their share of election security funding. On Thursday, breaking long-standing practice,
Trump criticized the Federal Reserve for raising rates, telling CNBC, “I am not happy…all of this work that we’re putting into the economy and then I see rates going up.” On Friday,
Trump ratcheted up criticism of the Fed, tweeting, “China, the European Union and others have been manipulating their currencies and interest rates lower… taking away our big competitive edge.”
Trump also tweeted the U.S. “should not be penalized because we are doing so well,” saying the U.S. should be able to “recapture what was lost due to illegal currency manipulation and BAD Trade Deals.” On Friday,
Trump tweeted a 2010 video of Hillary Clinton in an interview with Russia state television, calling for a strong and stable Russia. Trump added, “Will the Dems and Fake News ever learn? This is classic!” On Friday,
NYT reported Michael Cohen secretly taped a conversation with Trump two months before the election discussing payments to Karen McDougal, who said she had an affair with Trump. The FBI seized the recording in their raid. The recording
undercuts the Trump campaign’s denial of any knowledge of payments to McDougal. Days before the 2016 election, Hope Hicks called McDougal’s claim of an affair “totally untrue.” Rudy Giuliani told the
Times that Trump had discussed payments to McDougal with Cohen in person on the recording, and said Trump did not know in advance about the payment American Media Inc. made to silence McDougal. CNN reported
Cohen had other recordings of Trump in his records that were seized by the FBI. Giuliani dismissed the other recording as mundane. A source told CNN that is not true. In the recording, Cohen and Trump discuss buying the rights to that contract from AMI. CNN reported
when informed about the recording, Trump said, “I can’t believe Michael would do this to me.”
WAPO reported in the recording, Cohen advised Trump to consider buying the rights to McDougal’s claims to better “control” the story, reportedly saying, “I think we need to bring this in-house.” On Saturday, Trump suggested
there could be consequences for Cohen secretly recording him, tweeting, “Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client — totally unheard of & perhaps illegal.” On Saturday,
Cohen attorney Davis responded, tweeting, “The strategy of @realdonaldtrump @potus @RudyGiuliani is flawed; just as is #Trump’s false #Twitter statement made against @michaelcohen212 this morning.” On Friday, in an op-ed, GOP Rep.
Will Hurd, a former undercover CIA officer, said Trump is being manipulated by Putin, writing that Trump, “standing idle” while Putin “spouted lies” should “concern all Americans.” On Friday,
Reuters reported Mnuchin is open to lifting sanctions from Russian aluminum giant Rusal, owned by oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Mueller is investigating financial ties between Deripaska and Manafort. On Friday, Republicans agreed to
water down legislation in reconciling bills designed to punish Chinese telecom company ZTE, delivering a victory to Trump. The Senate version would had restored a full ban. On Friday,
Trump again complained about being criticized by the “Fake News Media,” tweeting, “In the Old Days they would call it Diplomacy. If I was loud & vicious, I would have been criticized for being too tough.” On Friday,
Trump also tweeted “The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again — can’t believe it.” On Thursday, the NFL halted enforcement of anthem rules while working out a solution with players. Trump tweeted, “
Isn’t it in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart?” It is not. He also called on the Commissioner, “First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!” On Saturday,
WSJ reported at the end of a turbulent week, Trump is taking an increasingly defiant approach, tired of being told he can’t do things like criticize the Fed or the intelligence community. Trump’s comments on the Fed ricocheted through currency and bond markets,
leaving the White House to clarify his comments and say Trump respects the Fed’s independence. Reportedly before the summit,
Trump had authorized the Justice Department to release the indictments against 12 Russians, agreeing it would strengthen his hand with Putin in bringing up election interference. Trump’s plan, formulated with his aides,
was for him to “shove it in Putin’s face and look strong doing it.” Trump did the exact opposite, siding with Putin and saying he saw no reason why Russia would have interfered.
Russian associated social media accounts urged the U.S. to free Butina. On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry posted a call to action on its Twitter account to mobilize a digital “flash mob,” including changing profile photos. On Saturday, TASS reported Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov told Secretary of State Pompeo that
U.S. actions against Russian citizen Butina were inadmissible, and said she should be released as soon as possible.
Week 70: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
March 17, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-70-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-84a521ec35c6
In another frenzied week in America, Trump fired his secretary of state through a tweet, and continued to stoke fears of imminent additional departures, in what was described as a White House verging on mania. Trump is reportedly joyful, feeling liberated to act on his impulses and authoritarian instincts. Even as the Mueller probe and allegations of paying to silence Stephanie Clifford close in, Trump is cocky and irreverent — as if signaling he has matters in hand.
Russia seems increasingly aggressive and emboldened, in sharp contrast to, and perhaps with the silent complicity of Trump. Alarming reports surfaced not only of Russia’s use of chemical weapons and possibly murdering another Russian exiles in the UK, but also attacking US and European nuclear and energy infrastructure. In response, our Treasury Department took the first baby steps in imposing sanctions, while Nikki Haley and the White House issued a stark warning on Russia’s use of nerve gas. Amid an almost completely decimated leadership structure at our State Department, Trump, Kushner and Ivanka — although under clouds for self-dealing and security clearance issues — consolidated worldwide diplomacy in their hands.
Wynwood, Miami, FL December 2017
On Saturday night,
Trump gave a 73-minute campaign-style dystopian and unhinged speech in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, ahead of Tuesday’s special election, campaigning for Republican candidate Rick Saccone. Trump occasionally mentioned Saccone and insulted his opponent (“Lamb the sham”), but
mostly it was a campaign speech about Trump. Trump announced his new slogan for the 2020 campaign: Keep America Great. Trump called MSNBC’s
Chuck Todd “a sleeping son of a bitch,” and mocked Rep. Maxine Waters for calling for his impeachment, referring to her as “a low-IQ individual.”
Trump again called for the death penalty for drug dealers, saying “toughness” is the solution, adding drug dealers “who kill thousands” of people, “do you think they care who’s on a blue-ribbon committee?”
Toronto Star calculated that Trump made 30 false claims during the speech, including “We put an infrastructure bill in for $1.7 billion,” “they want to stop DACA,” and “we have a big deficit with Canada too.” On Saturday, in a speech to the France National Front while touring Europe,
Steve Bannon said “Let them call you racists. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor.” On Saturday, in an interview with
NBC News, Putin said the Russian government was not behind interference in the US election, saying, “Maybe they’re Ukrainian, Tatars, Jews — just with Russian citizenship.” Jewish groups and US lawmakers condemned Putin’s statement, including the Anti-Defamation League, saying “
It is deeply disturbing to see the Russian president giving new life to classic anti-Semitic stereotypes.” Trump did not respond. On Saturday
, NYT reported Trump is in discussions with Emmet Flood, who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment process, about joining the legal team and helping him navigate his DOJ communication.
Trump is also considering a shake-up of his legal team. Some allies say Ty Cobb’s approach of being cooperative with Robert Mueller is not working. In the summer of 2017, Flood turned down an offer to work for Trump. On Sunday,
Trump denied the , “The Failing New York Times purposely wrote a false story stating that I am unhappy with my legal team on the Russia case….Wrong.” NYT’s report of a shake-up, tweeting
The Boston Globe reported a rider added to the Homeland Security reauthorization bill would allow Trump to dispatch Secret Service agents to polling places nationwide during federal elections, a vast expansion of executive authority.
AP reported that Trump’s effort to discredit the news media by continually using the term “fake news” is being mimicked by officials at all levels of government as a weapon against unflattering stories.
Experts on the media and democracy warned the continual use of “fake news” could do long-term damage by sowing confusion and contempt for journalists, and by undermining the media’s role as a watchdog.
AP reported, based on their analysis of data, the Trump regime censored, withheld or said it couldn’t find records sought by citizens, journalists, or others more than any other administration in the past decade. Of the
823,222 FOIA requests received by the regime, 78% received censored files or nothing. The number of times the regime said it would be illegal under US law to turn over information doubled from last year. On Thursday,
Bloomberg reported that FEMA has removed all mention of anything climate change related from the documents meant to guide the agency’s strategic plan for 2018–2022. The new document for FEMA, an agency responsible for dealing with the effects of disasters, have removed references to
climate, global warming, sea-level rise, extreme weather, and other scientific predictions.
WAPO reported audio of a fundraising speech Trump made on Wednesday revealing he bragged about making up information — saying the US runs a trade deficit with Canada — in a meeting with Canadian PM Trudeau.
Trump mimicked Trudeau in the audio, “Nice guy, good-looking guy, comes in — ‘Donald, we have no trade deficit,’” then Trump bragged, “I didn’t even know. … I had no idea. I just said, ‘You’re wrong.’” On Thursday,
Trump doubled down, tweeting, “We do have a Trade Deficit with Canada.” This statement is false: the Office of the United States Trade Representative says the US has a trade surplus with Canada. After delaying it three times,
Trump’s USDA withdrew an Obama-era animal welfare rule which would have set new standards for the treatment of animals if their meat is going to be sold as “certified organic.” CNN reported six months after Hurricane Maria hit,
Puerto Ricans are still dying. 10% of the island is still without electricity, much slower than the recoveries after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Medical treatment is precarious. On Friday,
AP reported that Trump’s International Wildlife Conservation Council, a newly created advisory board, is stacked with trophy hunters, including ones with ties to Trump and his family. The 16 member board is appointed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and
will help rewrite federal rules for importing the heads and hides of African elephants, lions, and rhinos. A $250,000 budget of taxpayer dollars has been set aside for travel expenses, staff time, and other costs. In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the head of ICE, and the Department of Labor,
18 Republican members of Congress defended private prison company GEO Group’s practice of forced labor for undocumented immigrants. On Monday,
USA Today reported white supremacist leader Richard Spencer tweeted a YouTube video in which he bemoaned that because of violent clashes, his rallies are no longer “fun.” On Friday,
a resolution denouncing white nationalists and neo-Nazis in the Tennessee legislature didn’t make it out of committee. A motion brought by a Democrat to talk about the bill could not find a Republican to second.
Dallas Morning News reported that a local newspaper, the Olton Enterprise, removed reference of a same-sex couple, the son and his partner, from a mother’s obituary, citing “religious and ethical reasons.” On Thursday,
Politico reported on emails which reveal conservatives, including Newt Gingrich, targeted Obama holdovers “burrowed into the government,” including State Department Iran expert Sahar Nowrouzzadeh. Nowrouzzadeh, born in Connecticut, was attacked by conservative media. Brian Hook, chief of State Department’s Policy Planning Staff,
sent an email to himself in April which included a list of names, questioning their loyalties. On Sunday,
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave an alarming interview to “60 Minutes” in which she admitted she hasn’t “intentionally” visited underperforming schools, and struggled to answer basic questions about the nation’s schools.
DeVos continued Monday on the “Today” show, when asked about Trump’s proposal for school safety measures, she contradicted the NRA-friendly White House report just out saying, “everything is on the table.” Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, told
Bloomberg, “My function, really, as an economist is to try to provide the underlying analytics that confirm his intuition. And his intuition is always right in these matters.” CNN reported at a meeting set up at chief of staff John Kelly’s request, officials from the White House counsel’s office and the Cabinet liaison
met with Ryan Zinke, David Shulkin, Ben Carson, and Scott Pruitt last month to provide “a clear message that optics matter.” On Wednesday, CNN reported
emails show Carson and his wife selected the $31,000 dining set for the Department of Housing and Urban Development dining room, in contrast to Carson’s statement in Week 68that he had little or no involvement. On Thursday,
The Guardian reported Naved Jafry, a senior adviser at Carson’s HUD, had multiple allegations of fraud and had exaggerated his military record. Jafry apologized for inflating his biography and resigned. On Thursday,
Zinke said his department cut the cost of replacing six historical doors in his office from $139k to $75k. Zinke said the episode shows the need for “a little more flexibility or common sense” in laws. Secretary of Defense
James Mattis was linked to Theranos, which was involved in a massive corporate fraud uncovered this week. Mattis served on the company’s board, and advocated for use of their technology (which is fake) inside the military. On Tuesday,
Democrat Conor Lamb narrowly won a House special election in Pennsylvania in a district which has traditionally gone Republican. Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016.
Republicans massively outspent Democrats on the race: outside groups had spent more than $14 million on Republican Rick Saccone’s behalf, compared to just $2 million for Lamb. After the election Trump and the GOP said Saccone was a bad candidate, and that Lamb embraced Trump policy, which is false. Two House Democrats
asked the US special counsel to investigate if a trip by Zinke to Pennsylvania weeks before the special election may have violated the Hatch Act.
AP reported that despite promises by Trump to drain the swamp, he has filled federal agencies with ex-lobbyists and corporate lawyers who now regulate the industries they previously worked in. White House counsel Don McGahn has
issued at least 37 ethics waivers to key administration officials at the White House and executive branch agencies. Under Obama, just five ethics waivers went to former lobbyists.
NYT reported the Kushner Companies and the Trump Organization are quietly working together, and have signed a letter of intent on at least one real estate deal, raising concerns from experts in government ethics.
Kansas City Business Journal reported that Sprint will cut 500 jobs at its Oakland Park headquarters. In Week 7, Trump took credit for 5,000 jobs at Sprint which were created under the Obama Administration. On Monday
, AP reported on Donald Jr.’s previously undisclosed business dealings with Texas hedge fund manager Gentry Beach, a longtime hunting buddy who raised millions for the Trump campaign.
Beach has been granted special access, including to top National Security Council officials to push for curbing US sanctions in Venezuela to open business for US companies. NSC lawyers raised red flags about the meeting. On Monday,
McClatchy reported Ivanka, while acting as a White House adviser, hasn’t cut ties with the Trump Organization, and will pull in more than $1 million from family business deals across the globe. Some
Trump-branded developments are hiring state-owned companies, receiving gifts from foreign governments such as eased regulations, and accepting payments from customers who are foreign officials. On Tuesday,
Bloomberg reported two months after Kushner joined the White House, his family sold a stake in a Brooklyn building to Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, whose controlling shareholder is the Japanese government. At the time of the deal, March 31,
Kushner was helping Trump oversee trade policy. The purchase price represented a premium of more than 60% over the basis Kushner Cos. and their partners paid four years earlier.
The deal freed up cash for Kushner Cos. to take ownership stakes in nearby buildings in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood, while the building NTT invested in remains vacant. On Wednesday, CNN reported
Department of Defense employees charged almost $140,000 on department-issued Visa cards at Trump branded properties during Trump’s first eight months of being in office. On Sunday,
BuzzFeed reported Trump lawyers are considering a challenge to stop “60 Minutes” from airing an interview of Stephanie Clifford, the performer who uses the stage name Stormy Daniels. On Monday,
Dallas Morning News reported Texas officials are investigating whether a Dallas-area notary properly signed off on Clifford’s agreement. As a notary, she did not sign or date the 2016 agreement. In a complaint
filed with the DOJ and Office of Government Ethics, watchdog group CREW argued Michael Cohen’s payment to Clifford “constituted a loan” to Trump’s campaign, and Trump “seemingly violated a federal law by failing to disclose it” in campaign filings. On Monday,
NYT reported on a letter from Stephanie Clifford’s attorney to Cohen, in which Clifford offered to wire $130,000 into any account of Trump’s choosing to buy her way out the hush agreement. The offer, which had a deadline of Tuesday at noon, also seeks an agreement that
neither Trump or the shell company set up by Cohen, would block the broadcast of Clifford’s “60 Minutes” interview. On Wednesday,
WSJ reported a second lawyer who works for Trump Organization, Jill Martin, is listed as counsel in an arbitration demand for Essential Consultants to pay $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford in 2016 in exchange for her silence. In a statement, the
Trump Organization said Martin filed the document “in her individual capacity” while waiting for a New York-based lawyer to get approval to practice in California. On Thursday,
WAPO reported CBS tentatively plans to air the “60 Minutes” episode on March 25. CBS president David Rhodes said at the Innovative TV conference on Tuesday that the hold up is routine fact checking. On Thursday,
AP reported that lawyers representing Trump’s family hotel business threatened a Panamanian judicial official handling the dispute of the hotel previously known as Trump International Hotel in Panama. In the complaint, the justice of the peace,
Marisol Carrera, said Trump’s lawyers accosted her in her office after she ruled against Trump in Week 69. The abuse continued, she said, after she called for the police to come. On Friday, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney told MSNBC in a morning interview that
Clifford was threatened with physical harm, and suggested she had only signed the hush agreement because of threats against her. On Friday, in an afternoon interview with CNN,
Stephanie Clifford’s attorney said some of the alleged threats continued to take place while Trump was in the office. On Friday, in papers filed in federal court via Essential Consultants,
Michael Cohen accused Stephanie Clifford of violating the hush agreement 20 times, and claimed he had the right to seek $20 million of damages. Also in the filing, Cohen seeks to
move the case out of the public eye, and back into private arbitration. In a separate filing, a lawyer representing Trump said he intends to join the push to return to private arbitration. On Monday,
Bloomberg reported Mueller is considering setting aside the obstruction of justice case against Trump, which is almost complete, while his team finishes work on possible collusion and the hacking of Democrats. Mueller’s team is concerned that bringing obstruction of justice first, the part that might hit Trump closest personally,
may cause witnesses to become less cooperative and lead Trump to move to shut down the probe. Obstruction of justice includes
the James Comey firing, Trump’s input on Donald Jr.’s misleading June 9 meeting statement, and Trump considering firing Mueller. Trump, Ivanka and Donald Jr. have not yet been interviewed. On Monday, deputy attorney general
Rod Rosenstein offered unqualified support for Mueller despite White House criticism, adding, “I don’t believe there is any justification at this point for terminating the special counsel.” On Monday,
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee brought the committee’s investigation of the 2016 election to an end, over fierce objections by Democrats. Republicans drafted a 150-page report on their findings without consulting with Democrats. Among the findings in the report, Republicans said that
Russia did meddle, that the Obama administration had a “lackluster” response, but there was no preference by Russia for Trump and no collusion.
The Republicans reached the exact opposite finding of US intelligence agencies, which unanimously found that Russia interfered with the intention of helping Trump win.
Trump tweeted after the report was released, in all capitalized letters, the House Intelligence Committee, “FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA.” On Tuesday, Rep. Trey Gowdy
broke from his Republican colleagues, saying evidence gathered by the committee clearly showed Russia did work to undermine Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday,
Rep. K. Michael Conaway, who is technically leading the committee, backed off from the Republican report findings saying “it’s clear [Russian officials] were trying to hurt Hillary [Clinton].” On Tuesday,
Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee issued a 21-page “status report” which laid out their case to continue the probe. The report finds Russia’s “active measures” efforts were intended to help Trump win.
The status-report included a long list of key witnesses they have yet to call, including Reince Priebus, Stephen Miller, KT McFarland, Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, Sam Nunberg, and others who met with the regime like Natalia Veselnitskaya, and social media companies. Democrats also cited a previously unreported item, that
Trump’s business had been “actively negotiating a business deal in Moscow with a sanctioned Russian bank” during the 2016 campaign season.
Business Insider reported Joseph Mifsud, the professor who met with George Papadopoulos and told him Russia had “dirt”on Hillary Clinton, has gone missing. His fiancée, with whom he has a baby, has not heard from him. On Tuesday,
WAPO reported that in the spring of 2016, months before the emails were released, Roger Stone had a conversation with Julian Assange, in which Assange said his organization had obtained emails of senior Democrats.
At least two people were informed of the conversation: the source for the WAPO story who chose to remain anonymous due to the ongoing FBI investigation and Nunberg, who testified before a grand jury in Week 69.
BuzzFeed reported, based on testimony given by Felix Sater to the House Intelligence Committee, he has worked as an American spy, both as an asset for the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (or DIA) tracking Osama bin Laden, and then for the FBI for over a decade providing intel. Some say Sater may still be working with the FBI and knows many agents. Reportedly he did some of this work to avoid jail time for a financial crime.
Today he is being questioned on Trump’s business deals and ties to Russia.
BuzzFeed reporters interviewed Sater in Los Angeles, where he is now living. Sater says he is telling his full story to the FBI agents, at least six of whom he allegedly knows from past dealings, as part of the Mueller probe. On Monday,
Daily Mail reported Hamad al Mazroie, the spy chief for the UAE intelligence service, and Mohammed Dahlan, the UAE crown prince’s personal conduit to the Kremlin, were also at the Seychelles meeting. On Wednesday,
Paul Manafort asked a federal judge again to dismiss the criminal case filed against him in Washington, DC, arguing Mueller’s appointment was invalid and that he exceeded the scope of his authority. On Thursday,
NYT reported that in recent weeks, Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization to hand over all documents related to Russia and other topics he is investigating. It is unclear why Mueller used a subpoena. This marks
the first Mueller subpoena of Trump’s business. In Week 36, Trump said Mueller would be crossing a “red line” if he looked into Trump’s family business. CNN reported the
FBI contacted Thailand’s immigration bureau last week to set up a meeting with Anastasia Vashukevich and Alexander Kirillov, escorts held in Thai jail. In Week 69, Vashukevich said she has 16 hours of tapes of conversations with Russians on US election interference. On Tuesday, US District Judge T.S. Ellis, III, in Alexandria, Virginia said given the nature of the charges and weight of the evidence against him,
Manafort “faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.” The judge
placed Manafort on a 24-hour-a-day lockdown,” citing “The defendant is a person of great wealth who has the financial means and international connections to flee…and every incentive to do so.” On Thursday,
four GOP Senators — Chuck Grassley, Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, and Thom Tillis — called on the DOJ to appoint a second special prosecutor to investigate the FBI’s mishandling of the Russia probe prior to Mueller’s appointment. On Monday,
James Schwab, the San Francisco spokesperson for ICE resigned, citing “false” and “misleading” statements made by top-ranking officials, including Sessions and ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan. On Monday, Robert Lightfoot Jr.,
who has served as acting director of NASA for more than a year awaiting a qualified Trump nominee to replace him, will retire without a clear successor. On Tuesday,
Trump opened the door to establishing a new “space force” inside the Pentagon to oversee all space activities, even though the Pentagon brass and his own Air Force secretary have opposed the idea. On Monday,
John McEntee, Trump’s personal assistant, was fired and escorted out of the White House. A White House official said the cause for the firing was an unspecified security issue. On Thursday,
WAPO reported McEntee was fired over a gambling habit: betting tens of thousands of dollars at a time, leaving him vulnerable to outside influence. Formerly, he was a production assistant at Fox News.
Rex Tillerson cut his trip to Africa short, returning on Monday, explaining to reporters on the plane home, “I felt like, look, I just need to get back.” Tillerson was in Africa for an apology tour after Trump’s “shithole countries” comment in Week 61. On his way back,
Tillerson said of the UK spy poisoning “a really egregious act” that appears to have “clearly” come from Russia, adding once the facts are in, “we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be.” On Tuesday,
Trump fired Tillerson as Secretary of State, and replaced him with CIA director Pompeo. Tillerson learned he was fired, hours after returning from his Africa trip, through a staffer who saw Trump’s tweet. Trump met reporters shortly after, on Tuesday morning, and told them
he had made the decision to fire Tillerson “by myself.” Trump claimed he had called Tillerson from Air Force One around noon. On Tuesday, Under SoS
Steve Goldstein disputed that claim, saying Tillerson learned of his firing through Twitter and “did not speak to the president” and is unaware of why he was fired. Goldstein was then fired. On Friday, in an off-the-record meeting with Kelly and a small group of reporters,
Kelly said he informed Tillerson Sunday that Trump would likely fire him soon. Kelly added Tillerson was suffering from a stomach bug, so the conversation took place while Tillerson was on the toilet. On Wednesday,
Vanity Fair reported H.R. McMaster could be next, and that Trump is considering firing Sessions and replacing him with Pruitt, who would not be recused from overseeing the Russia probe. With Tillerson and Goldstein out,
eight of the top 10 positions in the State Department are vacant. Only deputy secretary John Sullivan, who will now be the acting SoS, and spokesperson Heather Nauert, a former co-host of “Fox & Friends,” remain. On Wednesday,
Trump picked Larry Kudlow to replace Gary Cohn as director of the National Economic Council. Kudlow is best known for his CNBC television show, and for making grand prognostications and provocative statements. Trump is
considering replacing VA Secretary Shulkin with Pete Hegseth, a co-host of “Fox & Friends Weekend.” Trump reportedly frequently calls Hegseth to discuss veterans’ policy. On Thursday, at a discussion at the Holocaust Memorial Museum,
McMaster called for further US action against Russia as punishment for crimes in Syria, saying “Russia is also complicit in Assad’s atrocities.” On Thursday night,
WAPO reported Trump plans to fire McMaster, his second national security adviser. Trump is comfortable removing McMaster, with whom he never gelled, but says he doesn’t want to humiliate him (as he did with Tillerson). Also on Thursday,
Trump indicated there will be more firings, telling reporters, “There will always be change. And I think you want to see change. I want to also see different ideas.”
The mood in the White House this week has “verged on mania.” White House aides are anxious and nervous, and on edge not knowing if they will be next. “Everybody fears the perp walk,” one White House official said.
Remaining staff are clashing with each other, vying for vacated positions. Trump reportedly said last week, “I like conflict,” while wrapping his fists toward one another to simulate a clash. “I like watching it.” On Thursday, CBS News reported that a
shake-up, which some in the White House are calling a purge, could result in the firings of Kelly, McMaster, and three cabinet members, depending on Trump’s volatile moods. On Friday,
WSJ reported after making cryptic comments by Kelly indicating he may step down, he and Trump reached temporary “truce” in their tumultuous relationship. Kushner and Ivanka continue to undercut Kelly. Trump told advisers afterward that
Mr. Kelly was “100% safe.” Kelly told his worried staffers, at least for the moment, he and Trump had patched things up. “I’m in.” Also on Friday, when an ABC News reporter caught McMaster giving a tour in the West Wing and asked his status,
McMaster said, “Everybody has got to leave the White House at some point. I’m doing my job.” KBS World Radio, a South Korean public international broadcaster, reported
Ivanka will, in Tillerson’s stead, meet with South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha on her visit to the US. Ivanka has interim security clearance. On Wednesday, dubbed National School Walkout Day one month after the Parkland shooting,
students at high schools around the country walked out at 10 a.m. and for 17 minutes recognized the 17 murdered. On Monday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered “fullest condemnation” of the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter,
but declined to blame Russia as Prime Minister Theresa May did earlier that day. On Wednesday, the
UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats over the attempted assassination attempt. PM May also announced increased checks on private flights, customs and freight from Russia, and other measures. On Wednesday,
US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the UN, “Russia is responsible…using a military-grade nerve agent,” adding “the credibility of this council will not survive if we fail to hold Russia accountable.” On Wednesday, the White House changed its position. Sanders
issued a statement blaming Russia, and adding the attack, “fits into a pattern of behavior in which Russia disregards the international rules-based order, undermines the sovereignty and security of countries worldwide.” On Thursday, the US, France, and Germany joined Britain in a joint statement saying Russia was likely responsible for attack, and
calling it the “first offensive use of a nerve agent” in Europe since World War II. On Thursday,
Trump’s Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Russia, including five entities and 19 individuals for election interference. This marks the first steps to impose sanctions, well past the deadline of a law passed by Congress. The entities sanctioned include those listed on Mueller’s indictment. The move was seen as
largely symbolic as many on the list were already under sanction. The Trump regime also
accused Russia of a series of cyberattacks on American and European nuclear power plants and water and electric systems, allowing Russia to sabotage infrastructure at will. Computer screenshots released by the Department of Homeland Security show
Russian state hackers were in a position to manipulate or shut down power plants. Most US power plants are privately owned, many with older versions of software.
Three separate Russian cyber-operations were underway simultaneouslyconducted by separate Russian groups for energy attacks, those who hacked DNC emails, and those who used social media to sow discord.
Russian cyberattacks surged last year, starting three months after Trump took office. Trump has said little to nothing about Russia’s cyberattacks, and has yet to acknowledge they interfered in our election. On Tuesday, the Guardian reported
Russian exile Nikolai Glushkov was found dead in his London home. The cause of death is unknown, and there is not yet an established link to the nerve gas attack in Salisbury. On Friday, a post-mortem of Glushkov revealed he died of “compression to the neck.”
Glushkov’s death is now being investigated as a murder inquiry.
Miami Herald reported the Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov, which the Pentagon has been monitoring because it has sailed too close to US waters on several occasions, docked at the port of Havana on Friday. On Thursday,
Vanessa Trump took legal steps to formally end her 12-year marriage to Donald Jr. The couple have five children together. On Thursday,
Politico reported the Trump regime is finalizing its plan to solve the opioid crisis, which will include allowing harsher law enforcement measures, including the death penalty, for drug dealers.
The parents of slain DNC staffer Seth Rich sued Fox News, reporter Malia Zimmerman and Fox News commenter Ed Butowsky over their coverage which contained “false and fabricated facts,” and was later retracted. In
Week 38, ABC News reported then press secretary Sean Spicer met with Zimmerman and Butowsky about the Seth Rich story at the White House, and asked to be “kept abreast of developments.” On Friday,
Facebook banned the Trump campaign’s data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, and its parent company SCL Group, as well as University of Cambridge psychologist Aleksandr Kogan, and Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies. Kogan had gained access to the personal information of 270,000 Facebook members after they chose to download his app, “thisisyourdigitallife.”
Kogan passed the information on to Cambridge Analytica and Wylie. Facebook learned of Kogan’s actions in 2015, and demanded the information be destroyed.
Cambridge Analytica, Kogan and Wylie certified to Facebook that they had done so. Facebook learned this was not true. On Saturday,
NYT reported a joint examination with The Observer of London found Cambridge Analytica had harvested private information from Facebook of more than 50 million users without their permission. Wylie, who worked at Cambridge Analytica until 2014 said, “Rules don’t matter for them. For them, this is a war, and it’s all fair,” adding “
They want to fight a culture war in America,” and analytics were the arsenal.
Cambridge Analytica was also involved in the 2014 election when the firm secured a $15 million investment from Robert Mercer and wooed Bannon. At that time, the company did not have the data to make its products work.
Facebook downplayed the scope of the leak, and questioned whether any of the data was still out of their control. Of the 50 million hacked, 30 million contained enough information to build psychographic profiles. Also of note is
Cambridge Analytica’s use of non-US employees in US elections, which would be illegal. Mueller has demanded emails of Cambridge Analytica employees who worked for the Trump team. On Friday,
Sessions fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, about 24 hours before he could retire and collect his full pension. His firing stems from an Inspector General investigation which found he leaked information to the media about the Clinton-related case. McCabe, who had more than two decades of service in the FBI, could lose a portion of his anticipated pension.
A spokesperson for McCabe said he learned of his firing from Sessions’ press release. Sessions fired McCabe just before 10 p.m.
Hours earlier, Fox News posted a story that McCabe had been fired. The story was up for 45 minutes before Fox News took it down, claiming the draft was posted by mistake. Just after midnight,
Trump tweeted his support for Sessions’ move, “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI — A great day for Democracy.”
Trump also bashed Comey, tweeting, “Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!” On Saturday, former
CIA director John Brennan responded to Trump, tweeting, “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history.” On Saturday, CNN reported
McCabe wrote memos documenting his conversations with Trump. Those memos have now been turned over to Mueller’s team. On Friday,
Sen. Jeff Flake told CNN the Republican Party “might not deserve to lead” due to its support of Trump. Thursday Flake said, “Never has a party abandoned, fled its principles and deeply held beliefs so quickly.”
Michael Flynn make his first appearance since pleading guilty in the Mueller probe, campaigning for Republican congressional candidate Omar Navarro who is running against Maxine Waters in November. On Saturday, in a morning interview with the
Daily Beast, Trump attorney John Dowd said he hopes Deputy AG Rosenstein will shut down Mueller’s probe into Russia’s election interference. When asked if he was speaking on behalf of Trump, Dowd answered, “Yes as his counsel.” In a
subsequent statement Saturday morning, Dowd backtracked saying he had been “speaking for myself, not the president.”
On a street sign in New York City, November 2017
New York City, 2018
New York City, 2018
Week 62 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
January 20, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-62-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-e261e4c56fab
Trump marked his one-year anniversary in office with Trump’s erratic behavior and fluid positions on issues were fuel on the flames of a country and Congress torn and divided. Conversely, the anniversary of the Women’s March celebrated millions marching in 250 cities across the country, and marked a record number of women running for office and becoming politically involved. a government shutdown, the first shutdown in history when a single party is in control of the House, Senate, and White House.
This week new evidence emerged of Russia’s effort to financially support Trump’s 2016 campaign, while the Mueller probe engulfed more Trump insiders quoted in Wolff’s book. With all the noise and chaos, it was again easy to miss the continued dismantling of our federal agencies, and disappearing rules and protections for women and marginalized communities.
The art featured in this week’s post is by Jim Carrey, a multi-talented, “WOKE” human. Three more brilliant pieces are featured at the bottom of this, unfortunately, extensive list:
In Week 61 a false missile warning was sent to Hawaiians on Saturday. At the time, Trump was golfing at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, and was informed within minutes while having lunch.
Residents and visitors of Hawaii were not informed it was a false alarm for 38 minutes, despite state officials and Trump knowing within minutes. Frantic messages between loved ones show “goodbyes”, and “I love yous”.
Trump made no mention of the incident on Saturday, instead tweeting about “fake news” and the Wolff book. On Sunday evening, Trump told the press, “Well, that was a state thing…I love that they took responsibility.”
Politico reported the erroneous alert sent the White House scrambling, and raised concern about the regime’s preparedness. The regime has not yet tested a formal plan for how to respond to a domestic missile attack.
On Tuesday, Japanese public broadcaster NHK issued an apology after the company’s app issued a false alert saying North Korea had likely launched a ballistic missile, warning, “evacuate inside the building or underground.”
On Saturday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted a meme, “Fake news is at it again!” accusing the . The Wall Street Journal of misquoting Trump Journal quoted Trump as saying, “I probably have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un.”
Late Saturday, the WSJ released the tape of the interview via a tweet. The by an external service, and stand by what we reported.” Journal stated they have reviewed the audio “as well as the transcript provided
On Sunday morning, Trump attacked the ,” and in a second tweet, “and they knew exactly what I said and meant. They just wanted a story. FAKE NEWS!” WSJ, tweeting, “Obviously I didn’t say that
On Sunday, the WSJ issued a statement, again refuting Trump and saying the Journal stands by what was reported.
Trump also said in the WSJ interview that he “should get credit for firing” James Comey, saying “it turned out I was right” because “many things have been found out about Comey” since his departure.
Dozens of refugees from Puerto Rico who came to Connecticut after Hurricane Maria are set to be evicted from hotels by FEMA, after the agency said their homes back on the island are “habitable,” so they should go back.
The Detroit Free Press reported after 30 years in the US, 40 year-old Jorge Garcia, a husband and father, was deported to Mexico. Garcia has no criminal record, not even a traffic ticket, and paid his taxes every year.
Economic Policy Institute said if Trump’s Department of Labor proposed rule allowing employers to pocket tips so long as they pay minimum wagegoes into effect, women workers would lose $4.6 billion, 80% of the $5.8 billion lost.
Politico reported Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services is planning to expand “conscience” protections for those who do not want to perform abortions or treat transgender patients based on their gender identity on the basis of moral objections.
Intercept reported on a prosecutor in Whatcom County, Washington who sought a warrant to get Facebook to disclose names of anti-pipeline activists. The first two attempts were fought and won by the ACLU and Facebook.
Facebook advised the prosecutor to seek formal guidance from the Department of Justice, and on the third request, using a DOJ template, the prosecutor was successful in obtaining a warrant and gained access tomessages to and from the page and a list of everyone “invited” to the protest event.
Simon Edelman, a photographer for the Department of Energy, was fired after leaking a photo of Secretary Rick Perry embracing Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy, at private meeting. Edelman is seeking whistleblower protections.
According to a report released by Gallup, the number of Americans without health insurance grew by 1.3%, the biggest increase since 2008, as 3.2 million Americans went uninsured during Trump’s first year.
The House unveiled a bipartisan landmark sexual assault bill under which taxpayers would no longer pay for sexual harassment settlements in cases involving members of Congress, and victims would have more rights and resources when filing a complaint.
An employee of the Agriculture Department anonymously issued a statement saying the USDA is being dismantled from within, citing talent flow are retiring or quitting, and positions on the front lines going unfilled.
Betsy DeVos’s Education Department awarded two companies with contracts to collect overdue student loans, including Performant Financial, a company with ties to DeVos. The contracts are worth hundreds of millions.
Reuters reported Simon Henshaw, a top US diplomat in charge of refugee issues resigned, becoming the third State Department senior official to depart or be reassigned from refugee work in recent weeks.
McClatchy reported the unexpected departure of top ranked diplomat John Feeley sent shock waves through the State Department. Sixty percent of top-ranking career diplomats have left, and staffers wonder who will leave next.
Staffers said the departure caused them reassess their commitment to a regime they feel is undercutting the department’s work and US influence in the world. New applications to join the foreign service have fallen by half.
The New York Times reported that under the Trump regime, which has embraced corporate interests, the uranium mining industry is making a renewed push into areas of the Grand Canyon and Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument.
Mining companies lobbied Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke extensively to shrink Utah’s national monuments, which the regime did in Week 56. Abandoned mines have already left a toxic legacy in these areas, included tainted groundwater.
On Wednesday, 10 of the 12 members of the National Park Service advisory board resigned. In May 2017, Zinke suspended all outside committees while he reviewed their work. No meetings have taken place.
The resignations leave the federal government without a body to designate national historic and natural landmarks, and again illustrates the extent to which the Trump regime has marginalized federal advisory boards.
Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency, in a shift from past practices, is “streamlining” the safety review of new chemicals. Experts and advocates warn the regime is skipping important steps to “protect the public from hazardous chemicals.”
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, now under Mick Mulvaney’s leadership, is considering repealing of a key set of rules enacted last year which protect consumers against predatory payday lenders.
WSJ reported, citing funding cuts, the CDC plans to scale back or halt its work to prevent infectious-disease epidemics and other health threats in 39 foreign countries, narrowing their work down from 49 to 10 countries.
Politico reported Teresa Manning, the anti-birth control official who led Trump’s HHS Title X federal family planning program, was fired last Friday. Manning maintains she resigned.
On Thursday, Trump appointee Carl Higbie resigned as chief of external affairs for the volunteer service organization after CNN unearthed racist, sexist, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBTQ comments he made on radio shows.
The Washington Post reported Trump has yet to put forth a nominee for 245 of the 633 key roles in the executive branch which require Senate confirmation, including the role of ambassador to South Korea.
On Sunday, conservative columnist Erick Erickson tweeted Trump called friends to brag about his “shithole” countries remark, adding according to one friend, Trump “thought it would play well with the base.”
On Sunday talk shows, Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue changed their recollection of not recalling Trump’s comments in Week 61, to aggressively going after Senator Dick Durbin for “gross misrepresentation,” saying the words were not spoken.
On Sunday, Department of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, told “Fox News Sunday” that she did not recall Trump “saying that exact phrase,” adding Trump “will continue to use strong language” because he feels “very passionate about immigration.”
On Sunday evening, Trump again denied the “shithole” countries remark to reporters, saying “I’m not a racist,” and “I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you.”
On Monday, Trump attacked Durbin, branding him as “Dicky Durbin” and saying Durbin “misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting.”
On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Trump went golfing and held no public events. Past US leaders from both parties have done some form of community service to commemorate King’s life of service.
On Monday, in a slight towards Cotton and Purdue, Sen. Lindsey Graham said “My memory hasn’t evolved. I know what was said and I know what I said.”
On Monday, WaPo reported on the past Thursday meeting on immigration. On a 10:15 a.m. call with Durbin, Trump expressed pleasure and was on board with Durbin and Graham’s bipartisan immigration pact.
When Durbin and Graham arrived at the White House at noon, Trump was surrounded by immigration hardliners and was “fired up.” Trump said he was not interested in the bipartisan plan, and started his racist rant.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, based on a “Fox & Friends” segment, that his approval ratings with Black Americans has doubled and unemployment for Black Americans is the lowest ever. The approval statement is false, and unemployment for Black Americans has been declining since 2011.
On Tuesday, Nielsen testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was pressed by Democrats. She told Durbin she remembered just “general profanity.” Sen. Cory Booker told Nielsen her silence and amnesia are “complicity.”
A Quinnipiac poll found American voters say 58–35 percent that Trump’s alleged comments on immigrants are racist. Americans disapprove 57–38 of the job Trump is doing.
On Saturday, the Trump regime’s US Citizenship and Immigration Services, following a federal court order in Week 61, resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA.
On Tuesday, the Trump’s DOJ said it would take the rare step of asking the Supreme Court to overturn the federal judge’s DACA ruling and allow the regime to phase out DACA, beginning in March.
On Tuesday, Jeff Sessions told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that a “good nation” does not admit immigrants who are “illiterate” and have “no skills.” Sessions also criticized Graham for reciting Emma Lazarus’ poem inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
On Wednesday, Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly told Democratic lawmakers that Trump’s hard-line immigration policies were “uninformed,” and the US would never construct a wall and that Mexico would never pay for it.
On Thursday, Trump took to Twitter to push back on Kelly’s remarks, saying NAFTA was “a bad joke,” and saying a reworked trade deal would make Mexico pay for his wall “directly or indirectly.”
On Thursday, GOP Rep. Scott Perry falsely claimed on Tucker Carlson’s show that ISIS was behind the Las Vegas shooting, based he said on what he “believed” to be “credible evidence.”
Corey Lewandowski said he would voluntarily appear before the House Intelligence Committee this week for the committee’s Russian investigation. On Tuesday, he hired lawyer Peter Chavkin, of Mintz Levin, to represent him.
On Tuesday, NYT reported Steve Bannon was subpoenaed last week by Mueller, the first grand jury subpoena to a member of Trump’s inner circle. Bannon was cast aside by the Trump regime and Breitbart in Week 61.
The subpoena was issued shortly after Wolff’s book, quoting Bannon, was released. of the Mueller probe since the DOJ rarely allows targets to be subpoenaed. NYT reported the subpoena may be a sign Bannon is not a target
On Tuesday, Bannon went before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors. WaPo reported that Mueller subpoenaing Bannon before he spoke to Congress may have been a way to cement his cooperation.
Bannon arrived on Tuesday without documents and refused to answer questions about conversations. Bannon’s attorney William Burck said the White House had told Bannon not to respond, “executive privilege belongs to the President of the United States. It’s not Mr. Bannon’s right to waive it.”
The House then issued a subpoena, but Bannon still refused to cooperate. Bannon spent more than 10 hours behind closed doors, and will be called back. As per Week 61, Burck also represents McGahn and Priebus.
Late Tuesday, the Daily Beast reported according to sources, although Bannon is not cooperating with the House Intelligence Committee, he will tell all to Mueller. The House subpoena was issued by Trump ally Devin Nunes.
Bloomberg reported Don McGahn’s office was deeply involved with instructing Burck on which questions Bannon could answer, raising questions of conflicts with McGahn’s role as a witness and Burck representing him.
On Wednesday, chief of staff Kelly told Fox News that the White House didn’t urge Bannon to invoke executive privilege, saying, “Steve has had very, very little contact with the White House since he left.”
On Wednesday, Reps. Michael Conaway and Adam Schiff instructed Bannon to return on Thursday. Burck responded the committee did not give Bannon sufficient time to prepare and to complete discussions with the White House.
The committee then proposed an alternative date for Bannon to return on January 29. Bannon has yet to agree to that date.
Foreign Policy reported Trump made the decision to curtail Bannon’s testimony to the House citing executive privilege based on legal advice from deputy White House counsel Uttam Dhillon. This privilege will not extend to Mueller.
NBC News reported FBI agents visited Bannon’s home last week to serve him with a subpoena to testify before a grand jury as part of the Trump-Russia probe. This indicates Mueller still has a grand jury empaneled.
The agents were unaware Bannon had retained Burck hours earlier. The agents then served Burck. Bannon could be interviewed by Mueller’s team before the end of the month.
Axios reported Bannon made one important slip up in his House testimony, when he admitted he’d had conversations with Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, and former legal spokesman Mark Corallo about Donald Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting with Russians.
Politico reported Corallo, who is mentioned in Wolff’s book, hired attorneys Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova ahead of possible being called in by Mueller’s team.
Corallo spent a two-month stint on Trump’s legal team, and resigned in July 2017. Wolff’s book speculates Corallo quit in part over Trump’s role in crafting Don Jr.’s statement on the June 9 meeting.
AP reported that the White House’s contention is that “pretty much everything is off limits” until Trump says it’s not. This week the House Intelligence Committee also interviewed Trump insiders Lewandowski, Rick Dearborn, and Hope Hicks.
BuzzFeed reported Mueller’s team is investigating transactions marked as “suspicious activity” by Citibank, which handles Russian embassy accounts, which were sent to the US Treasury’s financial crimes unit.
Included in the unusual activity was a $120,000 payment to Sergey Kislyak ten days after the election, and an attempt to withdraw $150,000 from the Russian embassy account five days after Trump’s inauguration.
On Thursday, McClatchy reported the FBI is investigating whether Alexander Torshin, a top Russian banker with ties to Putin, illegally funneled money to the NRA to help Trump win the 2016 election.
The NRA spent a record $55 million in 2016, including $30 million to Trump, three times what the group donated to Romney in 2012. Most was spent by an arm of the NRA which is not required to disclose donors.
Torshin has ties to organized crime, and has been implicated of money laundering in Spain. Per Week 53, Torshin tried to arrange a meeting with Trump through Jared Kushner, but instead sat with Donald Jr. at a NRA dinner.
On Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee released testimony by Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS. Much of the information overlaps with the Senate testimony release in Week 61, but there is additional detail,
Simpson testified that he believes Trump’s golf courses in Scotland and Ireland may have been financed by illicit Russian money, something Eric Trump discussed in a radio interview with WBUR, then later denied.
Simpson also singled out Trump properties in Panama and Toronto where Russian mafia figures were listed as buyers. Simpson said Russia’s mafia is under the dominion of the Russian government and Russian intelligence.
Simpson said the Russian government had “infiltrated” the NRA via Torshin, and other conservative organizations to influence the US election. Ironically Simpson said, Putin is not in favor of universal gun ownership.
Yahoo News reported that hacking group Shadow Brokers, which leaked hacked classified NSA manuals, very likely used Kaspersky software to exfiltrate the documents as part of a Russian intelligence operation.
A status hearing for George Papadopoulos, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating in the Mueller probe, was postponed for up to 90 days, an indication the probe will stay active at least until spring.
German monthly Manager Magazin reported Deutsche Bank could have information about suspicious money transfers by Kushner and Kushner Companies. Deutsche Bank has submitted the suspicious information to the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority for Germany, BaFin.
Politico reported the criminal trial for Paul Manafort and Rick Gates is likely to start in September, just before the midterm elections. The judge admonished Gates for an event where lobbyists said Mueller’s team was “very unfair.”
Trump attorney Ty Cobb revised his timing of when Mueller would complete the special counsel probe, saying it will be wrapped up in 4 to 6 weeks. Cobb also speculated the investigation will ultimately be immaterial.
Daily News reported Omarosa Manigault-Newman may have taped West Wing conversations, and now fears being subject to the Mueller probe. A source said the WH cell phone ban was due to Omarosa’s history of recording conversations.
A new poll by PBS Newshour, NPR, and Marist found that 42% of Americans have not heard of Mueller. Whether they know him or not, two-thirds of Americans want his team to be able to finish the investigation.
Tristan Harris, a former Facebook manager told NBC News Facebook, which put profits ahead of users, is a “living, breathing crime scene” for the 2016 election,” adding, “only they have full access to what happened.”
On Friday, Twitter announced as part of their efforts towards transparency following Congressional hearings, 677,775 people in the US were notified they had followed, tweeted or liked content from a Russia-linked bots.
Twitter also updated the number of Russia-linked bots involved in US election interference to over 50,000, and raised the number associated with Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency from 1,000 to 3,800.
Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock, which manages $6 trillion in investments, said he would be informing public companies they need to contribute to society, not just make profits, for BlackRock to support them.
On Monday, the WSJ reported that in early 2017, US counterintelligence told Kushner that Wendi Deng Murdoch could be using her relationship with Ivanka to further the interests of the Chinese government.
Kushner and Ivanka emerged as important contact points within the Trump regime for the Chinese government in early 2017. Both Kushner Companies and Ivanka’s brand have continuing business ties to China.
Rep. Elijah Cummings is pushing House Oversight Committee chair Trey Gowdy to subpoena the WH for documents related to Flynn and Kushner’s security clearance. Cummings questions why their clearances were not suspended.
NBC News reported watchdog group Public Citizen, in a report titled “Presidency for Sale,” analyzed monies spent at Trump properties during 2017 in order to curry favor with the president, raising concerns of conflicts of interest.
The report cited four foreign governments, 16 special interest groups, and 35 Republican congressional campaign committees spent money at Trump properties in 2017. The biggest spender was Saudi Arabia.
Documents obtained by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch show Trump spent an additional $3.2 million since June on flights to his properties, bringing the total money spent on Trump travel to $15.5 million.
Miami Herald reported a November inspection of Mar-a-Lago turned up two priority lodging violations which could pose a “significant threat to the public health” and 15 violations in the club’s two main kitchens.
Bloomberg reported that Wolff got access to the White House by pitching a sympathetic view of Trump’s first 100 days. In the inexperienced White House , almost everyone who spoke to him thought someone else had approved it.
On Tuesday, Trump hosted Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, at the White House. Nazarbayev has been accused of committing human rights violations and cracking down on political opposition.
At a press conference with the two leaders, Trump ordered CNN’s Jim Acosta, “Out!” after Acosta peppered Trump with questions about which immigrants Trump would let in: “Just Caucasian or white countries, sir?”
On Wednesday, Sen. Jeff Flake delivered a speech on the Senate floor about Trump’s attacks on the press and the truth. Flake said Trump’s lies have eroded “trust in our vital institution.”
Flake compared Trump’s rhetoric towards the media to that of Joseph Stalin, citing his repeated use of “enemy of the people,” and adding “the free press is the guardian of democracy.”
Flake also criticized his colleagues for not standing up to Trump, saying “a Congress that fails to act as a check on the president adds to the danger.”
Also on Wednesday, Flake’s fellow Arizona senator, John McCain, penned an op-ed telling Trump to stop attacking the press, saying Trump’s rhetoric is providing cover for regimes around the world to crack down on free press.
McCain cited the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) data showing 2017 was “one of the most dangerous years to be a journalist.” CPJ also documented 21 journalists were jailed on “fake news” charges in 2017.
That evening, Trump launched what was, according to him, his “Highly-Anticipated 2017 Fake News Awards,” which he tweeted were selected to single out “the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media.”
Trump chose to launch his awards on the Republican National Committee website, which proceeded to crash with the incoming traffic. The website finally came back online a little over an hour later.
CNN reported that Trump has used the word “fake” — “fake news,” “fake polls,” “fake media,” and “fake stories” — as an insult more than 400 timessince taking office, averaging more than once per day.
On Thursday, in lieu of normal editorial page content, the . NYT editorial board devoted the page entirely to letters from Trump supporters
The owner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a Trump ally, ordered the paper to run an editorial defending Trump from charges of racism. The move sparked outrage in a city where Hillary won 75% of the vote.
CNN reported that a Fox News reporters, Diana Falzone, had filed a story about the alleged sexual relationship between Trump and Stephanie Clifford in October 2016, but executives at Fox News killed it. Clifford uses the stage name “Stormy Daniels.”
WSJ reported Trump lawyer Michael Cohen used a private Delaware company, Essential Consultants LLC, established on October 17, 2016, to make the $130,000 payment to Stephanie Clifford cited in Week 61.
Cohen listed himself as the “ authorized person” for the company, rather than hiring a lawyer or an agent, a tactic used to obscure identity. Clifford was identified as “Peggy Peterson” in the agreement to hide her identity.
Cohen had planned to use a Delaware company called Resolution Consultants LLC, created September 30, to make the payment. On the morning he created Essential, he dissolved Resolution two minutes later.
Mother Jones reported that during a series of sexual and romantic encounters between Stephanie Clifford and Trump, he had her spank him with a . Forbes magazine with him, Ivanka, and Donald Jr. on the cover
On Friday, the Trump regime rescinded 2016 guidance from the Obama administration which said defunding Planned Parenthood could be against federal law.
Variety reported Trump may skip the Super Bowl pre-game interview, breaking a decades-old tradition. Trump has been highly-critical of NFLplayers for kneeling during the national anthem.
On Tuesday, in a special election in the 10th state senate district in Wisconsin, Democrat Patty Schachtner won by nine points, in a district Trump carried by 17 points in 2016.
On Thursday, Trump visited Pennsylvania’s 18th district where a special election for a congressional seat will be held in March. Trump tweeted he was going “to give my total support to RICK SACCONE,” a “great guy.”
Later that morning, the White House denied Trump’s visit to Pennsylvania was for Saccone’s campaign. Press secretary Sanders said the trip was instead “to discuss the incredible successes his tax plan is already achieving.”
A Gallup survey of 134 countries found approval of US leadership at 30% after Trump’s first year, a record low and down from 48% in Obama’s last year. China is second at 31%, and Germany is now the top-rated global power at 41%.
In the Western Hemisphere, Trump’s approval plummeted: Canadian approval of US leadership fell from 60% to 20%, and Mexico approval fell from 44% to 16%. Approval of US leadership in Iceland is just 8%.
Trump finished his first year with 37% approval, the lowest in modern history. Unlike his predecessors, Trump’s approval stayed in a narrow 10 point range since he took office, the least movement since Johnson.
On Thursday, Bloomberg reported Trump would mark the one-year anniversary of his inauguration with a gala at Mar-a-Lago, with tickets starting at $100K a couple, and $250K to participate in a roundtable.
At the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, the government shut down. This is the first government shutdown in which one party is in the control of the House, Senate, and White House.
Trump was originally scheduled to fly to Mar-a-Lago on Friday at 4 p.m. He canceled due to the shutdown, but the Mar-a-Lago Saturday gala moved forward without him, with Donald Jr. and Eric hosting in his place.
In Week 9, before taking office, Trump said he would hand over the family businesses to Donald Jr. and Eric, and not mix politics with business.
USA Today reported a year after Trump’s inauguration, for which the committee raised a record $106.7 million, there is still no clarity or accounting of where the leftover funds have gone.
Trump raised double what Obama’s committee raised, for a much smaller event. Thomas Barrack, the inaugural committee’s chairman, had said extra money would go to charity, but would not comment to USA Today.
Mother Jones outlined women’s political activism in the year since the Women’s March: a record 602 are running for office in 2018, 480 of who are not incumbents; 441,808 donated $200 or more to a federal political campaign in the first half of 2017, eight times higher than 2013.
On the anniversary of the historic Women’s March, millions of women, children, and male allies again took to the streets in cities across the country.
The size of the Women’s March in Chicago exceeded last year, as over 300K showed. Hundreds of thousands showed up at marches in DC, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and tens of thousands in 250 cities across the country including Austin, Charlotte, Cleveland, Chattanooga, and more.
Week 61 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
January 13, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-61-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-1691307f33d5
This is the longest weekly list so far, and contains historic moments. Senator Dianne Feinstein released 300 pages of Fusion GPS testimony on the Steele dossier, days after her Republican colleagues had unilaterally issued the committee’s first criminal referral to the FBI, implicating Steele. Trump’s “shithole” countries statement prompted worldwide condemnation and questions of whether he is eroding US moral authority — while concerns about his fitness for office continued to swirl.
This week there were innumerable shocking and important developments, including proposed changes to Medicaid, exempting Florida from offshore drilling, and waiving fines for five megabanks, including Deutsche Bank — all of which, in a week of sheer bedlam, got little or no attention. Oprah Winfrey’s historic “a new day is on the horizon” speech at the Golden Globes, which captured the country’s attention Sunday night and prompted speculation of a possible presidential run, was a distant memory by Tuesday.
This week the featured art is from Loretto, a London-based street artist. *Not my photos.
WAPO reported that Trump has made more than 2,000 false or misleading claims in his first 355 days in office — on average, 5.6 claims per day. The Twitter account for the
House Committee on Natural Resources attacked outdoor apparel company Patagonia in a tweet with a graphic referring to the company as “lying” and “hiding.” On Sunday’s “
State of the Union,” Jake Tapper cut off Stephen Miller, saying “There’s one viewer that you care about right now and you’re being obsequious,” adding “You’re being a factotum in order to please him.” Contradicting Trump regime talking points,
Sebastian Gorka said he was told to cooperate with he got a bad feeling and did not. Steve Bannon was set to meet with Wolff after him. Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff, but said after meeting him in Reince Priebus’s office On Sunday, the same day as the Golden Globes,
Trump delayed his “fake news awards” he has teased about on Twitter, adding interest had exceeded his expectations. On Sunday, in her speech accepting her Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes, Oprah spoke of being “inspired” by the
women coming forward as part of #MeToo, and harkened “A new day is on the horizon.” In response to Trump’s fake news awards, the
Committee to Protect Journalists announced their Press Oppressors awards. Trump won the category, “Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom” and was the runner-up in “Most Thin-skinned.” On Sunday,
Axios reported according to a copy of his real schedule, Trump’s time in the Oval Office has shrunk to 11am to 6pm, then he’s back to the residence. During the day he also has blocks of “Executive Time.” According to a source,
Axios reported Executive Time means TV and Twitter time alone in the residence. Trump schedule also lists 8 am to 11 am as Executive Time in the Oval Office, but most is spent at the residence. On Sunday, Trump
tweeted then deleted a column in the .” He then tweeted a corrected form, “consequential presidency.” NY Post which he incorrectly said referred to his “enormously consensual presidency Trump also mistakenly linked to
the email address of the author of the column, Michael Goodwin, rather than to the article. On Sunday,
Bannon apologized for his role in Wolff’s book in a statement given to Axios — expressing “regret” to Trump, praising Donald Jr., and adding, “There was no collusion and the investigation is a witch hunt.” On Monday, CNN reported in
early 2016, before Bannon and Trump became allies, a watchdog group led by Bannon tried to shop anti-Trump research alleging ties between Trump companies and organized crime. On Monday, Trump spokesman
Hogan Gidley said the WH is not accepting Bannon’s apology over his attacks on Trump and his family, adding Jared Kushner and Ivanka are “sacrificing” for the nation. On Tuesday,
Bannon stepped down as executive chairman of the departure was forced by his one-time patron, Rebekah Mercer. Breitbart over the controversy sparked by this remarks in the Wolff book. NYT reported On Monday,
at a speech to the American Farm Bureau in Nashville, Trump told the crowd it was a privilege to have voted for him: “Oh, are you happy you voted for me? You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege.”
Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Detroit ICE will proceed with deporting Yancarlos Mendez, a 27 year-old caregiver for a 6-year-old paraplegic boy. ICE says Mendez has overstayed his visit under a visa program. The County Sheriff in Williamson,TX
is investigating a noose found on a campaign sign outside the home of a supporter of Democrat Christine Mann, who is running for Texas’ 31st congressional district. A federal judge in NJ
lifted a decree dating back to 1982 which had barred the RNC from poll watching and other election day activities. Democrats had cited Sean Spicer’s presence in poll watching activities in their case. Joe Arpaio, the 85 year-old former sheriff with a history of racial profiling and mistreating immigrants, who in
Week 41 was pardoned by Trump, announced he will run for the AZ senate seat vacated by Jeff Flake. On Monday,
the Trump regime announced the end of the Temporary Protected Status permits for about 200,000 Salvadorans who have lived in the country since at least 2001, leaving them to face deportation. In Trump’s first year, arrests by
ICE are up by 40%. Trump has also slashed the number of refugees accepted into the US to the lowest levels since 1980. Nearly 700,000 are also set to lose protection under DACA.
Miami Herald reported Trump’s DHS is considering a new regulation that would prevent H-1B visa extensions for hundreds of thousands of workers, predominantly from India, who work in the technology field.
ICE conducted pre-dawn raids on 98 7-Eleven stores across the country to check employees’ immigration status in one of the most sweeping probes taken against an employer under Trump. Twenty-one were arrested. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that
while a legal challenge to ending the Obama-era DACA program proceeds, protections against deportation for the 690,000 Dreamers must stay in place. Also in the ruling, the judge said
anyone who has DACA protection expiring can renew it. On Wednesday, the WH responded, calling the injunction “outrageous.” The Trump regime vowed to fight the ruling. Deyshia Hargrave,
a Louisiana teacher, was handcuffed and forcibly removed from a school board meeting after questioning the superintendent’s pay raise. Hundreds of teachers, parents and officials rallied in her support.
WAPO reported Renee Thole, a white social studies teacher in Ohio, told a 13 year-old black student that he would be lynched if he didn’t stop talking in class. Thole was reprimanded and sent for cultural sensitivity training. A panel of federal judges
struck down NC’s congressional map saying it unconstitutionally gerrymandered, and demanded state Republicans redraw lines ahead of midterms. This is a first by federal courts. On Thursday, the Trump regime issued guidelines to states which will
require people to work or prepare for jobs in order to receive Medicaid, the first time this requirement would exist in Medicaid’s half-century history.
IBT reported during the Christmas holiday, the Trump regime quietly waived part of the punishment for five megabanks who were convicted and fined for manipulating global interest rates, including Deutsche Bank.
NYT reported that the blueprint for what has become Trump’s energy policy looks similar to confidential memo by Robert Murray, CEO of coal company Murray Energy, who donated $300K to Trump’s inauguration. On Tuesday,
the Trump regime granted an exception to the state of Florida for the announced plan to open offshore drilling off the US coastline in Week 60. Observers noted Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is located in FL. On Monday,
Trump renominated K.T. McFarland for ambassador to Singapore. In Week 56, NYT reported on McFarland’s emails revealing she had knowledge of a crucial email exchange between Michael Flynn and Sergey Kislyak. On Monday,
Trump renominated 21 judicial nominees, including two rated “not qualified” to be federal judges by the American Bar Association.
WSJ reported Robert Weaver, Trump’s nominee to lead the troubled Indian Health Service, misrepresented his leadership roles and work experience at a Missouri hospital to a Senate sub-committee. On Monday,
Trump nominated Marie Royce, wife of Republican Rep. Ed Royce from CA, to a senior State Department role. Also on Monday,
Rep. Royce said he would retire. Royce became the eighth Republican committee chair to not seek re-election in November 2018. On Tuesday, another CA congressman,
conservative attack dog Darrell Issa said he would not seek re-election. Trump’s unpopularity continues to weigh on Republicans, and many expect a blue wave in midterms. Second lady Karen
Pence’s chief of staff, Kristan King Nevins, resigned. On Tuesday, CNN reported
WH aides have been told to decide by the end of January if they plan to stay on through the November midterms. Chief of staff John Kelly is finding it difficult to replace top advisors who have already left. People in the
WH say exhaustion for employees is magnified by the chaos and unpredictability under Trump. Potential and existing employees are also concerned about the ongoing Mueller probe and legal fees.
Don McGahn, the WH counsel, and HR McMaster, Trump’s second NSA, are considering resigning. McGahn’s wife Shannon resigned from the Treasury Department in Week 60.
Bloomberg reported Geoffrey Berman, Trump’s interim Southern District of NY AG, has longstanding business ties to Deutsche Bank starting when he worked for law firm Greenberg Traurig, and continuing until recently.
A decade ago, Berman was brought in by Robert Khuzami, then general counsel for Deutsche’s US operations. Now, Berman has tapped Khuzamito be his deputy.
Kirsten Gillibrand said she will use her “blue-slip,” which gives senators a way to block confirmation of nominees in their state, to block Berman, citing his conflicts of interest with Trump, including the fact that Trump interviewed him as part of the nomination process. On Monday,
NBC News reported initial talks between Trump’s lawyers and Mueller are underway for Trump to be interviewed. A range of possibilities from handwritten responses to a formal sit-down are being discussed. Trump’s lawyers are seeking clarification on whether Trump would be interviewed by Mueller, legal standard, location, topics, and duration.
Trump’s lawyers are trying to avoid an in-person interview. On Monday,
WAPO reported Mueller is likely to seek an interview of Trump. A source said Mueller’s team could interview Trump in the next several weeks, saying “This is moving faster than anyone really realizes.” On Wednesday,
at a press conference with Norwegian PM Erna Solberg, Trump again complained about Hillary Clinton and the FBI, saying “A lot of people looked on that as being a very serious breach, and it really was,” referring to a 2016 interview Clinton had with the FBI regarding her email server. Trump also said there was
“no collusion” with Russia seven times. He called the Russian investigation a “phony cloud,” calling it a “Democratic hoax that was brought up as an excuse for losing the election.” Also at the press conference,
Trump lauded the delivery of F-52s to Norway. No such plane exists, except in a popular video game. Also at the press conference,
Trump deflected questions on whether he would do a sit-down interview with Mueller, saying “we’ll see what happens…it seems unlikely that you’d even have an interview.” On Friday,
Bloomberg reported despite Trump’s statement, his lawyers and Mueller’s team are continuing talks about an interview. The next call will be next week, and working out the details could take several weeks.
BuzzFeed reported the biography for Joseph Mifsud, the professor who met with George Papadopoulos and told him the Russians had dirt on Hillary, was removed from the website at the university in Italy where works.
BuzzFeed reported the Trump regime is seeking a broad reset with Russia in 2018, setting up numerous high-level engagements with the Russian government, the first such meetings since the Ukraine crisis in 2013.
Daily Beast reported in February 2017, Kevin Harrington, a senior official for strategic planning on Trump’s NSC, proposed withdrawing US forces Eastern Europe as an overture to Putin. On Tuesday,
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee released the senate testimony of Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS, breaking with her Republican colleague, committee chair Chuck Grassley.
The release reflects a growing partisan divide: in Week 60, Sens. Grassley and Lindsey Graham made the committee’s first criminal referral against Steele without consulting Democrats, including Feinstein, the ranking member.
Feinstein stated, “The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice.” Feinstein also noted,
“to my knowledge, there is not a single fact that’s proven to be incorrect” in the dossier. A spokesperson for
Grassley said Feinstein’s action “undermines the integrity of the committee’s oversight work and jeopardizes its ability to secure candid voluntary testimony.” Republican Sen
Sen. John Cornyn, also on the committee, broke from Grassley saying, “I respect Chairman Grassley, and I don’t really understand how this happened, but I do think more transparency is important.” The transcript indicates that
Steele first reached out to the FBI in July 2016, because, according to Simpson’s testimony, Steele felt there was a crime in progress, “He said he was professionally obligated to do it,” According to Simpson’s testimony,
Steele was concerned that Trump could be blackmailed by the Russians over an alleged 2013 sexual escapadebelieved to have been recorded at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Moscow, Based on the transcript, when the
FBI met with Steele in September 2016 for a full debriefing in Rome, the bureau already knew about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Per the transcript, and as reported by the
NYT in Week 60, an Australian diplomat had informed the FBI about his conversation with Papadopoulos regarding Hillary’s hacked emails, and an investigation was opened. Republicans have in recent weeks sought to discredit the Trump-Russia probe by diminishing the credibility of Steele and the dossier, thought to be the original source of the FBI investigation.
This appears to be false.
Steele ended contact with the FBI after a front-page story at the between Trump and Russia. This was inaccurate reporting — the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation began in July 2016. NYT on October 31, 2016 said the FBI found no conclusive link But after the NYT story, Simpson testified, “
There was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people and that we didn’t really understand what was going on.” Simpson testified when he started doing his research on
Trump, he was struck by Trump’s many connections to people linked to Russian organized crime, and his frequent travel to Russia. At the time Simpson was working for Steele, he was also working at a New York law firm with Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin on another case;
but Simpson was not aware at the time of the June 9 Trump Tower meeting. Simpson also testified that based on his research,
Trump is not as rich as he appears to be, saying Trump has a lot of questionable business entanglements which should be investigated. Fusion GPS
lawyer Joshua Levy claimed in the transcript someone has already been killed “as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work.” On Wednesday,
Trump attacked “Sneaky Dianne Feinstein,” who he falsely claimed had on “numerous occasions stated that collusion between Trump/Russia has not been found,” and calling the release “a disgrace.” On Tuesday,
Michael Cohen filed lawsuit in federal court against Fusion GPS and “false and defamatory” allegations that harmed his reputation and business interests. BuzzFeed, claiming the dossier contains
Politico reported Republicans are ramping up scrutiny of DOJ and FBI officials’ contacts with the media. Experts raised concern that the effort is meant to intimidate officials and chill investigative reporting. On Wednesday,
Sen. Ben Cardin released a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff report detailing two decades of Putin’s attackson democratic institutions, universal values, and the rule of law across Europe and the US. The report includes 30 recommendations, and says that the US remains
vulnerable to Russia’s aggressive and sophisticated malign influence operations without unequivocal leadership from Trump. On Friday, the
Des Moines Register reported Grassley faced relentless questioning about Trump’s fitness for office and his own handling of the Russia investigation at a rural town meeting Friday morning.
WAPO reported that Mueller’s team added a veteran cyber prosecutor to his team in early November. Ryan Dickey was assigned from the DOJ’s computer crime and intellectual-property section. Russian oligarch
Oleg Deripaska again sued Paul Manafort and Rick Gates in a NY court for more than $25 million in damages over a failed business deal. The new suit cites Manafort and Gates’ recent indictments in the Mueller probe. On Thursday,
Daily Beast reported Bannon hired attorney Bill Burck of the firm Quinn Emanuel as he prepares to be questioned by the House Intelligence Committee in the Trump-Russia probe, possibly next week.
Burck also represents McGahn and Priebus. Experts say having three Trump insiders represented by the same attorney may irk investigators over concern they are coordinating their stories.
Politico reported Mueller is seeking a May 14 trial date for Manafort and Gates. In a new report, the special counsel says they’ve produced 590k electronic items, considerable more than the 400k last reported.
AP reported hacking group Fancy Bear, who infiltrated the 2016 US election, is now laying the groundwork for an espionage campaign against the US Senate, according to a cybersecurity firm report issued Friday.
US intelligence believes the Russia’s military intelligence service is behind Fancy Bear’s activities. Several other democracies and the upcoming Olympics, from which Russia has been excluded, have also been targeted. Despite Trump’s pledge not to expand overseas while in office,
Trump Towers made its debut in north India — 250 ultra luxury residences under a brand license from the Trump Organization. In a letter, Democrats on the
House Oversight Committee called on the committee’s chair to subpoena the Trump Organization for documents detailing payments from foreign governments received during 2017.
BuzzFeed reported that since the 1980s, Trump has sold more than 1,300 condos to shell companies, and that the purchases were made without a mortgage — signals of possible money laundering per the Treasury Department.
’s analysis revealed 21% of the 6,400 condos sold by Trump in the US, yielding $1.5 billion in sales, fit this pattern. Sales of these type surged in the late 2000s and early 2010s, when Trump was in financial trouble. BuzzFeed At the
Trump SoHo, 77% of condo sales were to shell companies that paid cash. In The Weekly List, Felix Sater, who has ties to Russian organized crime and is under scrutiny by Mueller, worked on the Trump SoHo deal.
USA Today reported Trump’s companies sold $35 million of real estate in 2017, 70% of which went to LLCs or other unnamed buyers. In the two years prior to Trump’s nomination, 4% of sales went to such buyers.
NYT reported that Kushner Companies’ financial ties to Israel have deepened with Kushner’s role in the Trump regime. Menora Mivtachim, Israel’s largest financial institutions, recently invested $30 million in a Kushner Cos. apartment complex in MD. In addition to
Menora transaction, Kushner Cos. also has deals with Israel’s wealthiest families and a large Israeli bank that is the subject of a US criminal investigation. Abbe D. Lowell, Kushner’s attorney, said Kushner is not involved with the deals.
WSJ reported the Securities and Exchange Commission launched a probe into the Kushner Companies’ use of the EB-5 visa program in May 2017. The probe is in collaboration with the Brooklyn’s US attorney’s office, which also subpoenaed the company. On Monday, the five member
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, four of whom were appointed by Trump, unanimously rejected Energy Secretary Perry’s proposal to prop up nuclear and coal power plants in competitive electricity markets.
WSJ reported as South Korea and North Korea resume diplomacy and prepare to meet, Trump is considering a limited strike against North Korea, known as a “bloody nose” strategy. Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis are trying to hold him back. On Tuesday,
North Korea agreed to send athletes to the February Winter Olympics in South Korea, a symbolic breakthrough. In Week 56, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and UN ambassador Nikki Haley said it was uncertain if the US would attend.
The Guardian reported that according to a draft of a policy review, the Trump regime plans to loosen constraints on the use of nuclear weaponsand develop more usable nuclear warheads. UK media reported
Trump canceled his planned trip to the UK to open the new US embassy in London, amid fears he won’t be welcome. Trump is also unhappy about the lack of “bells and whistles,” and not being able to meet the Queen. Late night Thursday,
Trump tweeted the reason he canceled the trip is because Obama “sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts.”” The new location was actually picked under George W. Bush. Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, issued a statement saying Trump’s visit would be met with “mass peaceful protests,” adding
Trump “is not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda.” At his first press conference,
Trump’s ambassador to the Netherlands was peppered with questions about false claims he made in 2015 about chaos that the “Islamic movement” to the country. Ambassador Peter Hoekstra couldn’t answer. On Tuesday, seemingly to refute Wolff’s book accusations of his being mentally unfit,
Trump hosted a televised negotiation meeting on DACA which included a bipartisan group of lawmakers. When asked, Trump said, contrary to his prior statements,
he would support a “clean” bill protecting dreamers, and take up comprehensive immigration reform later. GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy then corrected him. By the end of the meeting,
Trump seemed to indicate that his Wall was not a must have for him. Later Tuesday, he reversed himself, tweeting he made clear today that the Wall “must be part of any DACA approval.” On Tuesday, Rep. Brendan Boyle introduced the
“Stable Genius Act” which would require presidential candidates to take a mental health exam. On Wednesday, Trump welcomed the media to his first cabinet meeting of 2018, saying, “
Welcome back to the studio.” At the cabinet meeting,
Trump announced a push for new federal libel laws as part of his 2018 agenda: “our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace,” and people should have “meaningful recourse.”
Trump also complained to reporters about their coverage of his DACA meeting Tuesday, saying news anchors were complimentary — even sending Trump letters telling him so — before network bosses weighed in.
On Thursday at 7:33 am, ahead of a planned House vote, Trump ripped the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act , which his own WH had publicly supported the day before, tweeting the bill might be have been used to spy on his campaign. On Thursday at
9:14 am, Trump changed course and tweeted to reaffirm his support for the bill, saying “today’s vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it! Get smart!”
Trump’s first tweet appeared around the time of a . The on-screen graphic read, “House votes on controversial FISA act today.” Fox & Friends segment in which Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano railed against the bill NBC News reported that
in between the tweets, Kelly raced to Trump to explain the situation and compose the second tweet. Kelly then rushed to Capitol Hill to ensure wavering lawmakers. The bills passed handily.
Newsweek reported that Trump speaks at a fourth-grade level, the worst vocabulary of any modern US leader according to Factbase, which analyzed the first 30,000 words each leader spoke while in office.
A Quinnipiac poll grading Trump’s first year in office found 39% gave him an “F,”17% a “D,” 11% a “C,” 16% a “B,” and 16% an “A.” The poll also found 69–28 he is not level-headed, and 57–40 he is not fit to serve.
WAPO reported a Koch-backed group called The Libre Institute is launching new outreach programs targeting hundreds-of-thousands of Puerto Ricans moving to FL and other states, ahead of the 2018 election. A year after
Trump and Pence touted Carrier Corp in their plan to save American jobs, the company announced new layoffs at its factory in Indianapolis, bringing the headcount there of workers down from 1,600 to 1,100. NBC News reported, based on information obtained through the FOIA,
40 federal workplace safety inspectors in OSHA have departed since Trump took office, and as of October 2, 2016, none had been replaced. On Thursday,
WAPO reported at a meeting to discuss protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries, Trump said, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Instead, Trump suggested the US should bring in more people from countries such as Norway. Trump also reportedly singled out people from Haiti, saying, “
Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.” The meeting was originally to discuss a bipartisan immigration deal with Sen. Richard Durbin and Lindsey Graham.
Trump also invited GOP immigration hardliners Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue, and Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Bob Goodlatte, and Mario Díaz-Balart. On Friday morning,
Trump tweeting a vague denial saying he did not use the term “shithole,” but acknowledged he used “tough” language during the negotiations. At Friday morning news conference,
Durbin, the only Democrat in the room, described Trump’s words as “hate filled, vile, and racist,” adding Trump “said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly.” Graham issued a statement saying “
I said my piece directly to him yesterday,” but not confirming whether Trump used the word “shithole.” Speaker Paul Ryan called Trump’s remarks, “unhelpful” and “unfortunate.” On Friday, Trump followed through with a pre-scheduled news conference at which he said, before signing the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day proclamation, “
Congratulations to him and to everybody.” After Trump signed the proclamation and was leaving the room,
reporter April Ryan shouted the question, “Mr. President, are you a racist?” Trump did not respond. Two of the Republicans senators in the room,
Cotton and Perdue, said in a statement they “do not recall” Trump saying those comments specifically. White supremacist
Richard Spencer defended Trump, and neo-Nazi website celebrated Trump’s comments saying he is “more or less on the same page with us.” The Daily Stormer
World leaders and activists spoke out against Trump’s comments. Several countries called in US ambassadors for an explanation. The African Union Mission expressed its “infuriation, disappointment and outrage.” The
African group of ambassadors to the UN said in a statement they were “appalled” and condemned Trump’s “outrageous, racist and xenophobic remarks.” They demanded “a retraction and an apology.” Rep. Cedric Richmond, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee,
announced they will introduce a censure resolution next week for Trump’s remarks. Rep. John
Lewis announced he will skip Trump’s State of the Union, saying “I cannot in all good conscience be in a room with what he has said about so many Americans.” On Friday,
WSJ reported Trump lawyer Michael Cohen arranged a $130K payment to Stephanie Clifford, an adult-film star, in October 2016 to silence her from speaking about her sexual encounter with Trump. Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels, has
privately alleged the encounter took place at a July 2006 celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, months after Melania had given birth to Barron Trump. Clifford was set to go on “
Good Morning America” in the fall of 2016 to discuss her relationship with Trump, but the National Enquirer agreed to pay her $150K for her story — which the paper then buried. On Saturday, residents of
Hawaii received an emergency alert on their mobile devices and television screens, warning of a “ballistic missile threat inbound” and telling them to “seek immediate shelter.” The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said the alert was sent in error.
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.