POLITIKKKS OF GRAFFITI 117: VIKTORIES FOR PUTIN

Week 116

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-116/

This week concerns about Trump’s foreign policy were front and center, as the regime rolled back sanctions against a Russian oligarch, and withdrew from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty — both seen as victories for Putin. The Financial Times reported on a previously undisclosed one-on-one meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 just months after Helsinki. Congress rebuked Trump’s foreign policy again this week in a piece of legislation drafted by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over Trump’s withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Heads of U.S. Intelligence agencies testified before the Senate on their annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment,” revealing findings in sharp contrast from Trump on Iran, ISIS, and North Korea, as well as the southern border. Trump reacted by castigating his appointed agency heads, then later inviting them to the Oval office and blaming the media instead.

This week Trump continued to threaten to do whatever it takes to build his wall, including declaring a national emergency if the bipartisan congressional group does not fully fund it. Meanwhile, Trump continued his false narrative that the wall is being built, while spreading other disinformation about immigration and voter fraud. The far-right has increasingly adopted Trump’s strategy of creating alternative realities and embracing conspiracy theories — this week claiming an attack on a gay, black actor was a hoax, and spreading conspiracies about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s health. The country is increasingly divided, as the U.S. Intelligence assessment also warned that Russia and other countries are looking to sow dissent, spread disinformation, and interfere in future U.S. elections.

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Meme from Rosie O’Donnell’s Twitter Page, 3Feb19
  1. Watchdog group Transparency International released its Corruption Perceptions Index for 2018. The U.S. dropped four points to 71 over 2017, and dropped out of the top 20 nations for the first time since 2011.
  2. The scale is 1 to 100, with 1 being very corrupt and 100 the cleanest. The report cites the U.S. drop “is a red flag and comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balance, as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power.”
  3. On Saturday, in a series of evening tweets, Trump railed against the indictment of Roger Stone, claiming Stone “didn’t even work for me anywhere near the Election!”
  4. Trump also tried to draw a whataboutism type comparison: “What about the Fake and Unverified “Dossier,” a total phony conjob, that was paid for by Crooked Hillary to damage me and the Trump Campaign?”
  5. Trump also complained he had endured “one sided Fake Media coverage (collusion with Crooked H?)” during his “very successful presidential campaign,” adding in a third tweet, “WITCH HUNT!”
  6. On Sunday, on “This Week,” Roger Stone accused Mueller of using “Gestapo tactics,” saying, “They could simply have called my lawyers and I would have turned myself in…It’s an attempt to poison the jury pool.”
  7. On Saturday, NYT reported Trump’s defeat in the border wall standoff with Congress has left him vulnerable to a primary fight, as anti-Trump Republicans are urging fellow Republicans to run.
  8. A top Trump campaign official, Bill Stepien, traveled to the Republican National Committee meeting in New Mexico to orchestrate a unanimous resolution of support for Trump, in an effort to project party unity.
  9. The resolution, although largely symbolic, was also a sign of the RNC’s deepening ties to Trump. The RNC has historically waited for candidates to clinch the primary to give “undivided support.”
  10. On Sunday, in an interview with WSJ, Trump said he thinks it is “less than 50-50” that the 17 members of congress charged with negotiating a deal over border wall funding would come up with something he could accept.
  11. Trump vowed he would build a wall anyway by using executive powers to declare a national emergency. When asked if he would accept less than $5.7 billion for his wall, he responded, “I doubt it. I have to do it right.”
  12. On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “58,000 non-citizens voted in Texas, with 95,000 non-citizens registered to vote,” citing a list compiled by the Texas secretary of state’s office, and mentioned on a “Fox & Friends” segment.
  13. Texas politicians and voters’ advocates asked officials to investigate both figures, suggesting the notion of voter fraud has been conjured in the past as a way to remove voters from the rolls.
  14. Trump also tweeted Sunday, “the cost of illegal immigration so far this year is $18,959,495,168. Cost Friday was $603,331,392.” It is unclear where Trump got his numbers from, but experts said they were too high.
  15. Trump also tweeted “There are at least 25,772,342 illegal aliens, not the 11,000,000 that have been reported.” Most studies put the number close to 11 million, and Trump’s Department of Homeland Security recently estimated 12 million.
  16. On Saturday, Reuters reported after NATO and Russia failed to resolve a dispute over a new Russian missile allies say is a threat to Europe, the U.S. may pull out from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
  17. On Sunday, at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, actress Patricia Arquette thanked Robert Mueller and “everyone working to make sure that we have sovereignty for the United States of America” while accepting an award.
  18. WAPO reported that Trump, who often spends days in the presidential residence, relishes giving tours of the White House to hundreds of acquaintances and strangers, bragging about how he has improved it.
  19. Trump reportedly has claimed, without evidence, that his private dining room off the Oval Office was in “rough shape” and had a hole in the wall, saying of Obama, “he just sat in here and watched basketball all day.”
  20. Although former President Obama typically does not respond to Trump, an Obama White House official told WAPO there was no hole in the wall, and that Obama rarely worked in the room and did not watch basketball there.
  21. On Monday, a Congressional Budget Office report found the 35 day government shutdown cost the U.S. economy about $3 billion in forgone economic activity that will not be recovered, not including indirect effects.
  22. The agency’s annual report also out Monday found the federal budget deficit will hit about $900 billion this year, and exceed $1 trillion every year beginning in 2022, two years earlier than the CBO estimated last year.
  23. The CBO also estimated the national debt will soar to almost $29 trillion in 10 years — making debt held by the public the largest percentage since 1947, and more than twice the average of the past 50 years.
  24. On Monday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow pushed back on the CBO assessment of the government shutdown cost, saying, “We frequently disagree with CBO with all respect.”
  25. A new Politico/Morning Consult poll found just 31% support shutting the government down again to force Congress to appropriate money for the wall, while 58% oppose it.
  26. On Tuesday, Harley-Davidson announced Trump’s tariffs had wiped out its profits in the fourth quarter of 2018. The company’s stock plunged 7.6% on the day, and overall was down by 33% for the year.
  27. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve said it will not raise rates this year. When chairman Jerome Powell was asked if Trump swayed the decision, he responded the Fed did not take “political considerations into account.”
  28. On Wednesday, NBC News reported Foxconn may not build a $10 billion plant in Wisconsin, citing the high cost of U.S. labor. Trump announced the Foxconn deal with much ballyhoo at a White House ceremony in 2017.
  29. On Wednesday, Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chief Executive Terry Gou, told Reuters the company would instead create a “technology hub” in Wisconsin that would largely consist of research facilities.
  30. On Friday, after talks with the White House, Foxconn said it is moving forward with construction of the Wisconsin factory, but would not clarify what kind of jobs will be housed at the $10 billion plant.
  31. On Monday, New Jersey state Sen. Dawn Addiego became the latest to leave the Republican Party and become a Democrat. Addiego’s defection gave the Democrats in New Jersey their largest majority in decades.
  32. On Monday, an AP-NORC poll found 35% approve of Trump’s handling of foreign policy, 63% disapprove. Also, 53% say U.S. standing in the world will get worse next year, while 21% say get better, and 25% stay the same.
  33. On Monday, Trump again denied global warming, tweeting in the Midwest “windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded,” adding “What the hell is going on with Global Waming [sic]?”
  34. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Twitter account responded, “Winter storms don’t prove that global warming isn’t happening,” with an accompanying illustration to explain.
  35. On Monday, Politico reported Senate Rules Committee chair Roy Blunt plans to take up a measure in his committee to cut debate time on some lower-level Trump nominees for the judicial and executive branch.
  36. Sen. Blunt said he hopes the measure can be passed in a bipartisan way, but added if it cannot, Republicans are prepared to use the “nuclear option” and act unilaterally and add a permanent reduction.
  37. On Sunday, a Washington Post-ABC News poll taken before Stone’s indictment found half of Americans are skeptical that Mueller’s report will be fair, with 28% having “just some” confidence, and 22% “none at all.”
  38. Most Americans favored Congressional Democrats: getting Trump’s tax returns (60%), investigating campaign collusion with Russia (57%), ties to foreign governments (61%), and Trump’s relationship with Putin (59%).
  39. On Sunday, the Trump regime lifted sanctions on Oleg Deripaska, one of Russia’s most influential oligarchs. The sanctions were put in place against Deripaska and six other oligarchs in April over 2016 election interference.
  40. One Deripaska company, EN+, announced seven new directors as part of the deal, including Christopher Bancroft Burnham, a banker who served on Trump’s State Department transition team.
  41. Rep. Jackie Speier wrote to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin raising concerns that he sold a stake in his film company to Len Blavatnik. A spokesperson for Mnuchin tweeted that this was false information.
  42. Democrats Rep. Elijah Cummings and Sen. Ron Wyden wrote to Treasury seeking information on Mnuchin’s relationship with Blavatnik, and whether he sought ethics guidance or to minimize conflicts of interest.
  43. NBC News reported even as the European Union moved forward last week with sanctions against Russia for poisoning Sergei Skripal in the U.K., three months after deeming Russia in violation, the U.S. has yet to do so.
  44. On Saturday, The Daily Beast reported, three weeks into the term, House Republican leadership has yet to name the intelligence committee’s GOP membership, stalling the committee from conducting hearings.
  45. On Monday, Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said Michael Cohen will testify before his panel on February 8; however, it will be closed-door testimony.
  46. On Monday, WAPO reported Lanny Davis said Cohen has swapped attorneys, wanting new representation as he navigates testifying before congressional panels. This is the third iteration of his legal team.
  47. Cohen is bringing on Michael Monico and Barry Spevack, two Chicago-based lawyers, and firing Guy Petrillo and Amy Lester. Reportedly, Cohen has fallen behind in payments to Petrillo and Lester.
  48. On Monday, in a written response to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Trump’s attorney general nominee William Barr said he has discussed the Mueller probe with Vice President Michael Pence, including a “general discussion”
  49. Barr cited occasional conversations in the spring of 2017 on policy and personnel, and “In these conversations, I did not provide legal advice, nor, to the best of my recollection, did he provide confidential information.”
  50. On Monday, Judge T.S. Ellis abruptly canceled sentencing for Paul Manafort in the Virginia case scheduled for February 8, citing the current dispute in D.C. court over whether Manafort broke his plea deal.
  51. On Monday, press secretary Sarah Sanders convened the first White House briefing since December 18, the first in 41 days. Both CNN and MSNBC did not cover the briefing.
  52. National security adviser John Bolton said the U.S. will impose sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., cutting off President Nicolás Maduro’s main source of cash.
  53. At the White House briefing, Bolton held a yellow notepad with what appeared to be the words “5,000 troops to Colombia,” sparking reporters to speculate on a military intervention.
  54. When asked by reporters to clarify Bolton’s notes, a White House spokesman reiterated Trump’s “all options are on the table” declaration.
  55. Sanders fielded questions, ducking answering as in the past. When asked if Trump is considering pardoning Stone, she responded, “I’m not aware of that. I haven’t had any discussions with him on that matter.”
  56. Sanders also said of Stone, “This has nothing to do with the president, and certainly nothing to do with the White House,” adding, “This is something that has to do solely with that individual.”
  57. On Monday, at a Justice Department news conference on an unrelated topic, acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker told reporters he had been “fully briefed” on the Mueller probe and it is “close to being completed.”
  58. Experts noted it was highly unusual for a DOJ official to publicly comment on an ongoing investigation, and expressed concern that Whitaker might participate in the review process after the investigation concludes.
  59. On Tuesday, Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Charles Grassley of the Senate Judiciary Committee introduced a bill to ensure the Mueller report would be released directly to Congress and the public.
  60. The Senate Judiciary Committee also delayed a scheduled vote to move William Barr’s confirmation forward by one week, citing concerns based on his testimony that the Mueller report would be released.
  61. On Monday, CNN reported Mueller’s team still wants to have Stone associate Andrew Miller appear before the grand jury. Miller has been fighting a subpoena in Mueller’s Russia probe of the 2016 election.
  62. Miller’s attorney told CNN that Mueller’s team made clear to him that they and the Justice Department are considering an additional indictment of Stone and may have plans to charge others.
  63. On Tuesday, the National Rifle Association made its first attempt to distance itself from a December 2015 trip taken by a group of its high-ranking members to Moscow, saying the trip was not “official.”
  64. ABC News reported that NRA emails and photos posted on social media show the organization was significantly involved in planning the trip to meet with senior Kremlin officials.
  65. In one email, a NRA employee helps Maria Butina make travel arrangements for the delegation which included the NRA president and future president, as well Trump campaign surrogate sheriff David Clarke.
  66. Dozens of pages of emails between August 2015 and November 2016 detail Butina’s efforts to organize the summit. Sen. Ron Wyden is investigating the meeting and seeking “information and documentation” from the NRA.
  67. On Tuesday, Financial Times reported that Trump and Putin spoke during last November’s G20 summit in Argentina without a U.S. official present to take notes. Only First Lady Melania Trump attended.
  68. The White House had previously disclosed that Trump met Putin for an “informal” talk, but did not disclose that Trump had no official member of his team present. Putin had a translator present, Trump did not.
  69. According to a Russian government official, the two spoke for about 15 minutes about a number of foreign policy issues. Trump had canceled formal bilateral talks due to a dispute over Ukrainian naval vessels.
  70. In a new memoir, Chris Christie said Trump and Jared Kushner thought firing then national security adviser Michael Flynn would end the “Russia thing” as a side effect. Trump comes off well in Christie’s book
  71. On Tuesday, Trump attacked former aide Cliff Sims, whose book was much more critical, calling him “ a low level staffer that I hardly knew,” and saying his book is “boring” and based on “made up stories and fiction.”
  72. Trump also tweeted that Sims “signed a non-disclosure agreement. He is a mess!” Trump campaign chief operating officer Michael Glassner said it may sue Sims, claiming he violated his NDA.
  73. On Wednesday, a court filing by Mueller’s team revealed Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency, currently facing a legal battle for interference in the 2016 election, is waging a disinformation campaign against Mueller.
  74. According to the filing, Mueller’s team turned over one million pages of evidence to lawyer for for Concord Management, owned by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, known as “Putin’s chef,” as part of discovery.
  75. Concord is accused of funding IRA. Allegedly someone connected to Concord manipulated and leaked the documents to reporters to make it appear that Mueller’s case against IRA and Concord were flimsy.
  76. According to the filing, a Twitter account called @HackingRedstone tweeted: “We’ve got access to the Special Counsel Mueller’s probe database,” and sent the altered documents. The account was suspended.
  77. On Friday, an unsealed docket confirmed that it is Mueller’s team that is involved in the mysterious grand jury subpoena fight that a government-owned foreign company has taken to the Supreme Court.
  78. WAPO reported that on January 18 about a dozen long-time employees from Latin America at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York were summoned, one by one, and fired.
  79. The employees, who compose about half the wintertime staff, claim they were fired over their undocumented status, following reporting on undocumented labor at Trump’s club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
  80. A former manager said the club emphasized finding cheap labor, and despite Trump’s public pronouncements of “America first,” the attitude towards hiring undocumented workers was “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
  81. On Monday, BuzzFeed reported according to a petition posted by the Department of Labor, Eric Trump’s Virginia winery is looking to hire 23 foreign guest workers under the federal H-2 visa program.
  82. The program allows U.S. employers to hire foreign laborers on a temporary basis so long as no qualified U.S. worker wants to the job. Trump Vineyard Estates, LLC pays $12.25 per hour for the positions.
  83. A report by the Anti-Defamation League on murder and extremism in the U.S. found domestic extremists killed at least 50 people in 2018, the fourth-deadliest year on record for extremist-related killings since 1970.
  84. The report also noted “every single extremist killing had a link to right-wing extremism,” and that “white supremacists were responsible for the great majority of the killings.”
  85. LA Times reported two years after Trump signed an order to hire 5,000 new Border Patrol agents and 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, thousands of positions remain unfilled.
  86. The regime has spent tens of millions on hiring, yet Border Patrol has about 2,000 more vacancies than when Trump signed the order. ICE has hired 1,325 investigators and deportation officers, but lost about 1,600.
  87. On Sunday, veteran journalist Tom Brokaw said on a “Meet the Press” panel about xenophobia in the U.S. that Hispanics should “work harder at assimilation.” Brokaw later apologized in a series of tweets.
  88. On Monday, NBC News reported comedian Mohanad Elshieky, who was traveling home to Oregon after a performance, was ordered off a Greyhound bus after two Customs and Border Protection officers boarded.
  89. The officers asked if he was an American citizen, so he showed his driver’s license and valid work authorization card. They made him call for details on his asylum document. CBP called the incident a misunderstanding.
  90. On Tuesday, Jussie Smollett, a gay, Black actor, was attacked by two men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs, hit him, poured an unknown chemical substance on him, and wrapped a rope around his neck.
  91. Smollett plays a gay musician on TV, and he also self-identifies as being gay, and is an activist for LGBTQ rights and HIV education. Chicago police said they were investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
  92. In a follow-up interview with Chicago police, Smollett said his attackers yelled “MAGA country” during the assault. He was attacked while walking downtown around 2 a.m.
  93. Right-wing internet and social media accounts put forward, without evidence or by citing false information, that Jussie’s attack was a hoax — similar to the Covington kids alternative narrative in Week 115.
  94. In an impassioned appearance on Smollett, actress Ellen Page accused Trump and Vice President Pence of fostering a climate of hate, saying “connect the dots” with the rise in crimes against marginalized people.
  95. On Thursday, when asked about the attack on Smollett, Trump said “That I can tell you is horrible. I’ve seen it. Last night. It’s horrible. Doesn’t get worse.” Trump then pivoted the discussion to the need for his wall.
  96. On Thursday, AP reported ICE has started force-feeding immigrants at a Texas location, after immigrants at several facilities have gone on hunger strikes over the past month to protest conditions inside detention facilities.
  97. At an El Paso, Texas ICE detention center, nearly 30 men, mostly from India and Cuba, have been striking to protest what they say is rampant verbal abuse and threats of deportation from guards.
  98. There are also hungers strikes at ICE facilities in Miami, Phoenix, San Diego, and San Francisco. The men in El Paso are being force-fed through nasal tubes leading to persistent nose bleeds and vomiting.
  99. On Thursday, CBS News reported ICE told hundreds of immigrants they were issued a Notice to Appear (NTA) for hearings scheduled January 31 or risk being deported. For many immigrants, the notices were fake.
  100. Immigration attorneys in Chicago, Miami, Texas, and Virginia said they learned the dates were not real when they called the courts to confirm after an advisory from the Executive Office of Immigration Review.
  101. ICE blamed the confusion from the government shutdown and a Supreme Court ruling last summer which necessitates having a date on the NTA, as opposed to ICE’s former practice of listing date at “to be determined.”
  102. On Wednesday, WAPO reported nearly 100,000 comments were posted with the Education Department website on Secretary Betsy DeVos’s plan to overhaul rules on campus sexual assault — 20 times what is typical.
  103. A spokesperson for the American Council on Education, which represents university presidents, said DeVos’s plan is the most controversial regulatory undertaking in the history of the Education Department.
  104. Several figures in the pro-Trump media, including Sebastian Gorka, falsely claimed online that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is hiding a secret illness or is dead. The claims were based on a QAnon conspiracy theory.
  105. HuffPost reported Rep. Steve King’s house.gov official government website links to a white nationalist blog that contains racists, anti-Semitic, and Nazi sympathizing content.
  106. ABC News reported according to court papers filed Friday night, the Trump regime does not know how manymigrant children were separated from their parents at the southern border before the “zero-tolerance” policy.
  107. The filings, in response to the findings by the department of Health and Human Services inspector general in Week 114 and mandated by a California judge, showed the regime could not confirm or deny reports of thousands of additional family separations.
  108. The deputy director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement told the judge that identifying separated children between July 2017 and June 2018 was not feasible, and that the regime does not intend to figure it out.
  109. On Friday, photos surfaced from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook which showeda man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe. Northam apologized and said he was in the photo.
  110. On Saturday, despite a flood of calls from numerous prominent Democrats and progressive organizations and activists for him to resign, Northam refused and changed his story to say he was not pictured in the photo.
  111. On Tuesday, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found 56% of all adults say they would not consider voting for Trump in 2020, while just 28% said they definitely will vote for him, and 14% said they would consider it.
  112. Among mainline Republicans, 27% want a Republican other than Trump. When including GOP leaners, 41% of women, 42% of independents, and 49% of moderates want another Republican alternative.
  113. On Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and other top U.S. intelligence officials gave annual testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on national security challenges.
  114. The testimony highlighted the distance between intelligence officials and Trump on several critical fronts, and are detailed in an annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment” released on Tuesday.
  115. The report stressed the growing cyberthreat from two U.S. adversaries, Russia and China, which it said are “more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s.”
  116. None of the officials said there is a security crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, negating the need for a national emergency. Coats said high crime rates and a weak job market were spurring Central Americans to migrate.
  117. Coats said, contrary to Trump’s assertions, North Korea was “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities,” which the country’s leaders consider “critical to the regime’s survival.”
  118. Officials also warned that ISIS has not been defeated as Trump asserted in his plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, but rather is a still-formidable organization capable of attacking the U.S.
  119. Haspel said Iran was in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement, but Iranian leaders are discussing reneging on the deal if they fail to reap the economic benefits given Trump pulled the U.S. out.
  120. Officials warned that Russia, and other countries, continues to interfere with U.S. politics via “information warfare” and “refine their capabilities and add new tactics as they learn from each other’s experiences.”
  121. On Wednesday, in a series of five morning tweets, Trump blasted the U.S. intelligence chiefs. On Iran, he called them “extremely passive and naive” adding, “They are wrong!” and perhaps they “should go back to school!”
  122. Trump tweeted on Iran: “They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There [sic] economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back,” adding, “Be careful of Iran.”
  123. Trump also celebrated what he claimed were his accomplishments, saying ISIS’s control in parts of Iraq and Syria “will soon be destroyed,” and that there was a “decent chance of Denuclearization” in North Korea.
  124. On Thursday, Trump tweeted a photo of him meeting with Haspel, Coats, and others in the Oval office, sayingthey “told me that what they said on Tuesday at the Senate Hearing was mischaracterized by the media.”
  125. Trump said their testimony on Iran, ISIS, North Korea was “was distorted” by the press, saying “a false narrative is so bad for our Country” adding, “happily, we had a very good meeting” and “we are all on the same page!”
  126. Representatives from the CIA and DNI declined to comment. None of the agencies whose leaders testified have issued retractions or amendments to their written or spoken statements.
  127. On Tuesday, WAPO reported U.S. intelligence officials learned in late 2018 that Russia made a secret proposal to North Korea in the fall 2018 to build and operate a nuclear power plant there.
  128. Byproduct and waste would be transferred back to Russia, reducing the risk North Korea would use it to build nuclear weapons. The offer marked a new attempt by Moscow to intervene in the high-stakes nuclear talks.
  129. On Thursday, Trump announced he is planning to meet with Kim Jong Un for a second summit at the end of February. CNN reported sources say the location will be the Vietnamese coastal city of Da Nang.
  130. On Wednesday, a Gallup poll found Republican Party favorability dropped to 37% from 45% in September, due to the government shutdown. Favorability for Democrats stayed at 45%.
  131. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted the Democrats’ bill that would make Election Day a federal holiday, calling it “another paid holiday and a bunch of government workers being paid.”
  132. On Wednesday, press secretary Sanders told the Christian Broadcasting Network that “God calls all of us to fill different roles” and that he wanted “Trump to become president, and that’s why he’s there.”
  133. Sanders also said “I think he has done a tremendous job in supporting a lot of the things that people of faith really care about,” adding Speaker Pelosi calling his wall “immoral is a ridiculous charge.”
  134. On Wednesday, in a letter, Senate Judiciary Committee chair Lindsey Graham asked FBI director Wray for a briefing on Stone’s arrest , including “the number of agents involved, the tactics employed, the timing.”
  135. Graham also asked if the FBI had tipped off the media, writing “the American public has had enough of the media circus that surrounds the Special Counsel’s investigation.” CNN has insisted they were not tipped off.
  136. On Wednesday, in an interview with the Daily Caller, Trump criticized the FBI’s arrest of Stone, saying he was “disappointed to see that go down that way…where it was on camera…a very, very disappointing scene.”
  137. Trump also said “I thought it was very unusual. You know, I’ve stayed out of that whole situation because there was no collusion whatsoever,” adding, “you have 29 people and you have armored vehicles.”
  138. When Daily Caller asked if he would ask the FBI to review its use of force, Trump responded, “I think it’s a good question for you to ask, and it’s something I’ll think about.”
  139. Daily Caller also compared FBI resources spent on the Las Vegas shooting to the Mueller probe, Trump said of the probe “well over 30 million dollars now on this Russian collusion hoax, and everybody knows it’s a hoax.”
  140. On Thursday, NPR provided a fact check of whether the FBI used unusual force when arresting Stone, and found the answer to be no, the arrest was typical for law enforcement agencies.
  141. On Thursday, in a court filing, Mueller’s team described evidence seized in the FBI raid of Stone as “voluminous and complex,” and asked the judge to delay the trial to give them more time to sift through the information.
  142. Investigators seized hard drives with “several terabytes of information” including “FBI case reports, search warrant applications and results, bank and financial records, and the contents of numerous physical devices.”
  143. On Friday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she is considering slapping a gag order on Stone, who has been on a media blitz since his indictment. Jackson said the trial will likely take place in July or August.
  144. The judge admonished Stone about witness tampering. When Judge Jackson asked if he understood an agreement not to contact any witnesses or potential victims, he replied, “I do, your honor.”
  145. On Thursday, CNN reported according to records provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Donald Jr.’s calls to a blocked number before and after the June 9 Trump Tower meeting were not with Trump.
  146. ABC News reported Donald Jr.’s calls on June 6 and June 9 were with two family friends: NASCAR CEO Brian France, and real estate developer Howard Lorber, who has done business in Russia.
  147. Trump’s ties to Lorber have drawn the interest of congressional investigators. In the 1990s, when Trump explored real estate options in Russia, Lorber accompanied him on a tour of Moscow.
  148. On Thursday, Trump touted the calls were not made to him, tweeting, “Just out: The big deal…Don jr telephone calls, after the innocent Trump Tower meeting…conclusively found NOT to be made to me.”
  149. Trump also tweeted a Daily Caller article saying “New Evidence Destroys Adam Schiff’s Theory About Trump Tower Meeting.” Trump added, “This Witch Hunt must end!”
  150. Trump also conjured a Daily Caller article, tweeting “Nellie Ohr…was long ago investigating for pay (GPS Fusion) members of my family,” adding, “created by ousted & discredited Christopher Steele. Illegal! WITCH HUNT.”
  151. On Thursday, NBC News reported Tricia Newbold, the “whistleblower” in the story about Carl Kline’s role in granting security clearance to Kushner and at least 30 others against expert advice in Week 115, was suspended
  152. The notice, proposed on December 3 but signed Wednesday, said in Newbold’s 18-year career she has not faced any “prior formal disciplinary action,” but harshly criticizes Newbold for her “defiance.”
  153. On Thursday, Democratic Reps. Ted Lieu and Don Beyer in a letter called on acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to revoke Jared Kushner’s security clearance, citing reporting in Week 115.
  154. On Thursday, Trump sent a series of morning tweets, alternating between demanding a wall and saying that one was already built, saying, “Large sections of WALL have already been built.” This is a false claim.
  155. Trump also tweeted, “the Wall is getting done one way or the other,” and that Republicans “are wasting their time” talking with Democrats, adding, “I’ve got you covered. Wall is already being built.”
  156. In response, Speaker Pelosi told reporters “It doesn’t matter what Congress does? Really, a president who wants Congress to become completely irrelevant in how we meet the needs of the American people? No.”
  157. Later Thursday, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office of the bipartisan congressional committee met for the first time that they must fund $5.7 billion for his wall, saying, “I don’t think they’re going to make a deal.”
  158. Trump added, “And if it’s not going to work, then the politicians are really wasting a lot of time,” saying he could end up circumventing Congress by declaring a national emergency to fund his wall.
  159. On Thursday, in a rebuke of Trump’s foreign policy, the Senate voted 68-to-23 to advance legislation drafted by Leader Mitch McConnell strongly opposing Trump withdrawing troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
  160. Contrary to Trump’s assertions, McConnell said “I believe the threats remain. ISIS and Al Qaeda have yet to be defeated, and American national security interests require continued commitment to our mission there.”
  161. The rebuke, along with the House vote to prohibit the use of funds to withdraw from NATO in Week 115,signals an increasing trend of growing dissent to Trump’s foreign policy by Congress.
  162. Congress is also questioning Trump’s moves in Venezuela, where he is following the lead of Sen. Marco Rubio. Sens. Cory Gardner and Bob Menendez plan to reintroduce the North Korea Policy Oversight Act.
  163. On Thursday, the Trump regime cut off all U.S. aid to Palestinian security forces for training and equipment, an unintended consequence of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) signed by Trump last October.
  164. ATCA was meant to make the Palestinian Authority pays compensation to terror victims who won civil suits against the PLO in U.S. courts in exchange for U.S. aid. Palestinians chose not to sign or receive aid.
  165. On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the U.S. will withdraw in six-months from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, one of the last major nuclear arms control treaties with Russia.
  166. Trump did not say if the U.S. would replace the I.N.F., telling reporters “I hope we’re able to get everybody in a big, beautiful room and do a new treaty that would be much better,” without specifying who he meant.
  167. Trump’s decision, when first leaked in October, took European allies by surprise, leaving allies fearful of Trump’s unilateral instincts and their recognition that Putin poses a growing threat.
  168. On Friday, WAPO reported Leader McConnell has privately cautioned Trump about declaring a national emergency, telling him the move could trigger political blowback and divide the GOP.
  169. At least six Republican senators are fiercely opposed to the move, and polling during the shutdown found that 66% of Americans were against it as well — 12 points higher than opposition to the wall.
  170. On Thursday, NYT interviewed Trump in the Oval office for 85 minutes, after publisher A.G. Sulzberger declined an off-the-record dinner invitation from Trump and asked for an on-the-record interview.
  171. The Times drew criticism that the paper was normalizing Trump. In the interview, Trump took credit for popularizing the term “fake news,” and called himself a victim of “unfair” coverage, saying, “I’m a victim of that.”
  172. In a rambling interview, Trump insisted he forced Jim Mattis to resign, said Rudy Giuliani “has been wrong” on Trump Tower Moscow and other matters, and signaled forgiveness for Steve Bannon.
  173. Trump claimed it was not he who directed a senior campaign official to contact Stone about WikiLeaks, and claimed deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein told him he is “not a target of the investigation.”
  174. On Friday, Trump hinted to reporters he will unveil some action on to the wall at the State of the Union, saying “you’ll hear the State of the Union, and then you’ll see what happens right after the State of the Union.”
  175. Trump said “I think there’s a good chance we’ll have to” declare a national emergency in order to appropriate the funds to build his border wall, adding “we have very, very strong legal standing to win.”
  176. Trump also falsely claimed several time the wall is being built, saying “We’re building the wall, and we’re building a lot of wall,” adding, “but I can do it a lot faster the other way.”
  177. Trump also claimed, without evidence, that Democrats are “not being honest” in their conference negotiations because of the forthcoming 2020 election, but “I know the Republicans want to do something.”
  178. On Saturday, NYT reported Trump sought a previously unreported loan from Deutsche Bank in early 2016 to get money for Trump’s Turnberry property, at a time when he was lending tens of millions to his campaign.
  179. Although Deutsche Bank had been a lender of last resort for Trump for years, they turned down the loan, fearing the reputation of the bank could be harmed because of Trump’s polarizing statements during his campaign.
  180. Bankers in the private banking unit appealed the denial to Deutsche Bank’s top executives in Frankfurt. Reportedly it was upon this review that senior officials realized the scope of lending to Trump.
  181. On Saturday, NBC News reported analysis of the main English-language news sites used by Russia in the 2016 election show Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who is about to announce her 2020 run, is the favored Democrat.
  182. Websites and social media linked to the Kremlin noted sites associated with propaganda, including RT, the Russian-owned TV outlet; Sputnik News, a radio outlet; and blog Russia Insider are all backing Gabbard.
  183. Washington Examiner fired two reporters who were nonpartisan, straight-news reporters on Friday, while hiring new staff, signaling a possible shift in news coverage to be more conservative and Trump-friendly.

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Trump participates in a meeting with National Security Adviser Ambassador John Bolton; Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, right, in the Oval Office Thursday, Jan. 31. 2019, at the White House. (Official White House Photo)

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 116: SUBVERSION & INDICTMENTS

JANUARY 26, 2019

Week 115

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.  https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-115/

This is the longest and perhaps most perilous week for Trump so far. Not only did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outmaneuver him in the government shutdown, but by week’s end she was publicly questioning if Trump is beholden to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and if his campaign coordinated efforts to subvert the 2016 U.S. election. Meanwhile, House committees, now chaired by Democrats, geared up to challenge Trump and his regime on a number of fronts, including inquiries into Deutsche Bank’s handling of Trump’s accounts and the regime’s process of granting of security clearances.

Following dire warnings from agencies, unions, and former government officials about safety and security risks, public outcries and protests from unpaid furloughed workers, and plummeting approval, Trump finally agreed to reopen the government Friday. The final impetus appeared to be delayed flights at New York’s LaGuardia Airport due to staffing issues with unpaid air traffic controllers.

This week a sixth Trump insider, Roger Stone, was indicted on seven counts Friday, raising further concerns that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to subvert the election. A line in the indictment document, a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone,” left pundits speculating if the person directing Stone to gather information on the WikiLeaks’ release of Clinton Campaign emails stolen by Russia was Trump or a family member. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani also made incriminating public statements about the timing of Trump’s discussions with Michael Cohen on the Trump Tower Moscow project, as Trump continued to publicly threaten Cohen and his family, raising concerns of witness tampering.

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Artwork by Jim Carrey this week. Pic 1: 45. Pic 2: Roger Stone.

  1. WAPO reported Trump has made 8,158 false or misleading claims in his first two years in office, including more than 6,000 in the second year alone.
  2. Trump averaged 5.9 false or misleading claims per day in his first year in office, and almost triple that, 16.5 per day, in his second year. The biggest topic of Trump’s misleading claims is immigration.
  3. On Saturday, Trump gave a 13 minute speech in which he offered a 3-year reprieve on his attempts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and temporary protected status, in exchange for $5.7 billion for his wall.
  4. The proposal was put together by a small group of Trump insiders, without consulting Democrats. House Speaker Pelosi called it a “non-starter,” and vowed to pass legislation in the coming week to reopen the government.
  5. WAPO reported Trump’s speech and handling of the shutdown accentuated traits of his time in office: a shortage of empathy; difficulty accepting responsibility; and a desire for revenge against political foes.
  6. Trump has approached the shutdown like a public relations challenge. White House aides acknowledge he is losing the battle of public opinion. One friend said even if his base is intact, he is ripping the nation apart.
  7. Trump has also drawn criticism for his competence as an executive. West Wing aides acknowledge they hadno contingency plans for the shutdown, and are learning about problems at agencies though reporting in real time.
  8. On Sunday, Brett McGurk, the former U.S. envoy to fight against ISIS who resigned after Trump announced withdrawal from Syria, told “Face the Nation” that “there is no plan” for what comes after troops are withdrawn.
  9. On Sunday, amid trade negotiations between the countries, China granted Ivanka Trump’s company preliminary approval for another five trademarks. The applications were filed in 2016 and 2017.
  10. On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “The Media is not giving us credit for the tremendous progress we have made with North Korea,” adding “Looking forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at end of February!”
  11. On Tuesday, NBC News reported according to a report from Beyond Parallel, a project sponsored by a defense think tank, North Korea has as many as 20 undisclosed missile sites in the country.
  12. Reportedly, some Trump officials and U.S. allies are nervous because they know so little about what Trump and Kim Jong Un talked about in Singapore, and are concerned about what Trump might agree to next.
  13. On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani told “Meet the Press” that discussions to build a Trump Tower in Moscow remained an “active proposal” as late as November of 2016, months later than Trump previously publicly admitted.
  14. Giuliani said Trump can “remember having conversations” with Michael Cohen “throughout 2016.” Cohen admitted he worked on the project through June 2016, after telling Congress talks ended January 2016.
  15. On Sunday, Giuliani told the Times that Trump had said discussions about the project were “going on from the day I announced to the day I won.”
  16. On Monday, Giuliani tried to walk back his comments in a statement, saying his remarks about discussions between Trump and Cohen “were hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the president.”
  17. Hours later, in an interview with The New Yorker, Giuliani said “I have been through all the tapes” of conversation between Trump and Cohen. The existence of tapes had not been previously discussed.
  18. When pressed about the tapes in the interview, Giuliani responded “I shouldn’t have said tapes,” adding, “No tapes. Well, I have listened to tapes, but none of them concern this.”
  19. Vanity Fair reported Trump is “furious” about Giuliani’s recent botched press appearances. Reportedly Trump is being advised by Ivanka and Jared and others to fire Giuliani before he does more damage.
  20. AP reported that Trump’s close allies have urged him to bench Giuliani, with some suggesting he be barred from evening interviews because of concerns that he was going on TV after drinking.
  21. On Monday, NYT reported that a confidential document, titled “Terms of Removal” and signed by representatives of Oleg Deripaska and the Treasury Department, is significantly different than what has been publicly shared.
  22. The Treasury Department described the broad contours of the agreement in a letter to Congress, which was released publicly. However, major details were not provided to Congress, which voted last week.
  23. The deal is significantly less punitive and contains provisions that free Deripaska from hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, while leaving him and his allies with majority ownership of his most important company.
  24. Despite the Treasury Department indicating that Deripaska had lowered his stake in the sanctioned companies below the 50% threshold to 44.95%, the document reveals the actual overall stake is closer to 57%.
  25. Also Viktor Vekselberg, who has attracted Mueller’s attention, has a stake in Mr. Deripaska’s empire,as does Len Blavatnik, a Ukrainian-born billionaire, who donated $1 million to Trump inauguration.
  26. On Monday, Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny announced he has heard audio recordings of Deripaska’s associates plotting to have Anastasia Vashukevich arrested.
  27. Vashukevich was supposed to be deported, when released from prison in Thailand, to her home to Belarus, but instead she was arrested during their layover at Moscow in connection with a prostitution case.
  28. On Tuesday, Vashukevich, who said she had evidence Russia interfered in the U.S. election, was freed from Russian police custody. TASS News reported she remains a suspect in an unrelated criminal case.
  29. On Tuesday, ABC News reported congressional investigators are looking into Robert Foresman, now vice chairman of UBS’s investment arm, who lived for years in Moscow and led a $3 billion Russian investment fund.
  30. Foresman, who has ties to the Kremlin, sought a sit down with Trump through the producer of “The Apprentice,” Mark Burnett, during the transition period. Burnett helped get him a meeting with Tom Barrack.
  31. The meeting with Barrack was canceled, but Foresman continued to pursue a role on Trump’s team by meeting with Michael Flynn. Foresman did not support Trump in the primary or general election.
  32. Records also show Foresman had a December 2016 meeting with Sergei Gorkov, chairman of a state-owned Russian development bank. Gorkov also flew in for one day in December for a meeting with Jared Kushner.
  33. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court allowed the mystery foreign government-owned company thought to be part of the Mueller probe to file appeal papers under seal.
  34. On Saturday, the Diocese of Covington criticized any students involved in taunting Native Americans at the Indigenous Peoples March, adding the matter is under investigation and students could be expelled.
  35. Nathan Phillips, a veteran in the indigenous rights movement, said he felt threatened by the teens. The Indigenous Peoples Movement called the incident “emblematic of our discourse in Trump’s America.”
  36. On Monday, USA Today reported the Sandmann family hired Louisville public relations firm RunSwitch PR, which was instrumental in a 3-page statement in which Nick defended his actions, and an extended video.
  37. On Monday, Trump tweeted “Looking like Nick Sandman & Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly with early judgements proving out to be false — smeared by media.”
  38. The tweet was sent during Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show, whom Trump quoted in a tweet: “‘New footage shows that media was wrong about teen’s encounter with Native American’ @TuckerCarlson.”
  39. On Tuesday, in the morning Trump again tweeted on Covington, invoking his common anti-media theme: “Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be.”
  40. ICE arrested Carmen Puerto Diaz at a green card interview with her husband. Diaz, who is five months into a high risk pregnancy, was denied medication for days, and was later released after public outrage.
  41. Star Tribune reported coach Michael Walker, whose high school team is predominantly black, pulled out of a MLK Day game in Minneapolis, citing the host team had a front row Trump 2020 banner last time they played.
  42. On Monday, Mark Bartlett, 51, was arrested in Florida, after a video showed him drawing a gun, and yelling racial slurs at a group of Black Americans participating in an anti-gun violence event on MLK Day.
  43. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to allow Trump’s transgender military ban to proceed, clearing the way for it to go into effect while lower courts hear additional arguments.
  44. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court took no action on the Trump regime’s appeal in the “Dreamers” case, leaving the program in place, and signaling that the court will not hear the regime’s challenge in the current term.
  45. On Tuesday, Trump’s Justice Department said it plans to ask the Supreme Court to take up hearing the case on adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census on an expedited basis in order to decide the case by June.
  46. Trump, who tried to end the program in 2017, said in a cabinet meeting this month that he had expected to use a victory in the Supreme Court as leverage in negotiations with Democrats on immigration.
  47. On Tuesday, the day after Sen. Kamala Harris announced her 2020 presidential run, Trump supporters rekindled birtherism, claiming she is not eligible to run because her parents were not born in the U.S. Harris was born in Oakland.
  48. On Wednesday, James Jackson, a 30 year-old white supremacist, pleaded guilty to killing a Black man with a sword in New York. Jackson had planned to carry out many attacks against Black men.
  49. Jackson picked New York because it’s “the media capital of the world” and he “wanted to make a statement.” The criminal complaint states Jackson “was angered by black men mixing with white women.”
  50. On Wednesday, Colorado police arrested Christopher Cleary, 27, who threatened to kill “as many girls as I see,” because he is a virgin and had been rejected by women multiple times.
  51. On Wednesday, the Trump regime granted a waiver to give Miracle Hill Ministries in South Carolina permission to participate in the federally funded foster-care program, even though the group openly discriminates.
  52. Miracle Hill does not permit adoption by LGBTQ and non-Christian parents. The waiver overrides an Obama-era regulation barring groups that discriminate on the basis of religion from receiving federal money.
  53. On Thursday, newly-appointed Florida secretary of state Michael Ertel resigned after photos emerged of him posing as a Hurricane Katrina victim in blackface at a private Halloween party 14 years ago.
  54. On Thursday, NBC News reported the Trump regime plans to begin turning asylum-seekers back at the southern border on Friday to wait in Mexico under a new policy designed to crack down on immigration.
  55. Customs and Border Protection officers will begin turning back asylum-seekers from Central America at the San Ysidro port of entry in California from Tijuana, Mexico, where thousands are waiting in poor conditions.
  56. Currently, immigrants who pass an initial “credible fear” interview are allowed to remain in the U.S. to see an immigration judge. The new policy dubbed Migration Protection Policy is likely to be sued by advocates.
  57. Beginning Friday, asylum-seekers will be sent back to Tijuana with a notice to appear in court in San Diego. On their court dates, I.C.E. will provide transportation from the port of entry to immigration court.
  58. On Monday, Trump marked Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a 2-minute visit to Washington’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. This was Trump’s only public event for the day.
  59. On Monday, National Review reported that Rep. Joe Neguse said the House Judiciary Committee will likely investigate whether Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh committed perjury during his confirmation hearing.
  60. On Tuesday, a North Carolina Superior Court judge denied Republican Mark Harris’ request to certify the still-disputed 9th District congressional race, saying the Board of Elections should complete its investigation.
  61. On Tuesday, the House voted 357-22 on legislation to prevent Trump from pulling out of the North Atlantic Treaty Association, after reporting that Trump considered pulling out during 2018. The bill will now move to the Senate.
  62. On Wednesday, Trump backed a coup in Venezuela by opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, the 35-year-old National Assembly leader. President Nicolás Maduro dismissed Guaidó’s claim to the presidency.
  63. Maduro responded by giving American diplomats 72 hours to leave the country with a derisive “be gone!” and accused the Trump regime of plotting to overthrow him. The U.S. said it would ignore the deadline.
  64. On Tuesday, as Congress returned to session on Day 32 of the shutdown, Trump tweeted, “Without a Wall our Country can never have Border or National Security,” adding, “Must finally be done correctly. No Cave!”
  65. Speaker Pelosi told reporters “We cannot have the president, every time he has an objection, to say I’ll shut down the government until you come to my way of thinking…If we hold the employees hostage now, they’re hostage forever.”
  66. The Transportation Security Administration reported TSA employees called out at a national rate of 10% on Sunday, a record high and a jump from 3.1% one year ago on the same weekend.
  67. A TSA spokesperson told ABC News we are in “uncharted territory.” Employees say they are unable to continue to unpaid work, and at February 1, when rent and mortgages are due, things will get worse.
  68. On Tuesday, Politico reported furloughed federal workers are running up credit card debt, taking out loans, flocking to pawn shops, finding temporary work, and asking friends and family to help.
  69. A spokesperson for the Consumer Bankers Association, which represents retail lenders, said calls for help have picked up tenfold, and will increase further nearing February 1 when mortgage and rent payments are due.
  70. On Tuesday, a report issued by the FBI Agents Association, the group representing 13,000 agents, said the shutdown has impeded the agency’s efforts to crack down on child trafficking, violent crime, and terrorism.
  71. The 72-page report says the FBI has been unable to issue grand jury subpoenas and indictments in several cases. Field offices have run out of basic supplies like copy paper, forensic supplies, and DNA swab kits.
  72. On Tuesday, the State Department canceled the 16th International Export Control and Border Security Conference, focused on border security and scheduled to take place in Scotland in mid-February, citing the shutdown.
  73. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that he told press secretary Sarah Sanders “not to bother” with giving formal press briefings from the “podium” anymore, saying, “the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately.”
  74. Sanders has not taken questions from the podium since December 18, and she appeared just once in September, November, and December. The number of press briefings has steadily declining since Trump took office.
  75. According to data collected by The American Presidency Project, in 2018, the Trump regime averaged less than 5 press briefings per month, fewer than any president in recent history.
  76. CNN reported the lack of briefings is also a result of an ongoing power struggle for control between Sanders, Bill Shine, Kellyanne Conway, and Mercedes Schlapp on the communications team, going on for months.
  77. Also staffing of the White House press office has dwindled. Roles of many younger press aides who have departed, including “assistant press secretary” or “deputy press secretary” positions, remain unfilled.
  78. Unlike in past administrations, there has not been a rush of candidates to fill empty seats. The White House has not prioritized hiring, but Trump’s campaign is actively hiring for the 2020 re-election.
  79. On Tuesday, A. Wess Mitchell, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, resigned effective February. The resignation comes at a time when Europeans are questioning Trump’s commitment to alliances.
  80. Mitchell’s departure creates another assistant secretary of state vacancy at the State Department. Six of the 24 spots have nominees awaiting Senate confirmation. Mitchell was the first assistant secretary under Trump.
  81. On Tuesday, Politico reported Shahira Knight, Trump’s legislative affairs director who acts as his liaison to Congress, is planning to leave in the coming months what many insiders say is a thankless job.
  82. Slate reported that the Trump regime’s Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women quietly changed the definition of domestic violence last April with little notice, making the definition substantially more limited.
  83. Under the new definition, only harms that constitute a felony or misdemeanor crime may be called domestic violence, excluding critical components of the phenomenon like the dynamics of power and control.
  84. Rolling Stone reported Susan Combs, Trump’s unconfirmed appointee who is leading the Interior Department’s reorganization, earned almost $2.1 million in recent years from oil companies who stand to benefit.
  85. Combs, who was nominated by Trump in July 2017, has also been fiercely opposed to protecting endangered species during her time in Texas government — a position in line with the oil and gas industry.
  86. On Thursday, California Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, who serves in a conservative stronghold, announced he would switch parties and become a Democrat, blaming Trump’s behavior and divisiveness.
  87. On Thursday, the Golden State Warriors made their annual trip to Washington D.C. as NBA champions.Rather than visit the White House, the team was seen in photos visiting with former President Obama.
  88. On Wednesday, Trump sent a letter to Pelosi, saying he had checked, and that there were no such concerns from the Secret Service, and “therefore, I will be honoring your invitation” and delivering the State of the Union.
  89. Hours later, Pelosi sent a letter to Trump, saying she would not pass a resolution authorizing him to come, saying “I look forward to welcoming you” to the House to speak “when government has been opened.”
  90. On Wednesday, Trump said he would look for alternative venues for the State of the Union, telling reporters, “The State of the Union has been canceled by Nancy Pelosi because she doesn’t want to hear the truth.”
  91. Trump also told reporters, “It’s a great, great horrible mark.” Ronald Reagan’s address was postponed after the Challenger space shuttle exploded, but there is no precedent for a SOTU invitation being rescinded.
  92. On Wednesday, after 11 p.m. EST, Trump tweeted that Pelosi had “changed her mind because of the Shutdown, suggesting a later date. This is her prerogative,” adding, “I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over.
  93. On Wednesday, a CBS News poll found that 71% of Americans do not believe that Trump’s wall is worth the government shutdown, while just 28% believe it is.
  94. The poll found 47% believe Pelosi is doing a better job handling shutdown negotiations, to 35% for Trump. Also, 60% believe the shutdown is causing serious problems, 34% said some problems, 5% no problems.
  95. Trump’s approval fell 3 points from November down to 36%, while 59% of Americans disapprove, a high for his time in office for this poll.
  96. On Wednesday, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found 57% of Americans believe it is likely that Russia “has compromising information“ on Trump, compared to 31% who do not think it is likely.
  97. On Wednesday, an AP-NORC poll found Trump’s approval at a yearlong low of 34%, down from 42% in December. Trump’s standing with independents is among its lowest points of his time in office.
  98. The polls also found that 71% of women and independents disapprove of Trump, both up from 58% in December, and 76% of college graduates disapprove, up from 65% in December.
  99. The polls also found 60% of Americans blame Trump for the government shutdown, while just 31% blame congressional Democrats and 36% congressional Republicans.
  100. On Wednesday, Trump unveiled a new slogan in the early morning, tweeting, “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!,” adding “this is the new theme, for two years until the Wall is finished,” and, “Use it and pray!”
  101. Minutes later, Trump again tweeted, “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!” And again in the afternoon, Trump tweeted, “Even Trump Haters like (MS)NBC acknowledge you “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!”
  102. On Wednesday, Day 33 of the shutdown, led by several unions that represent furloughed federal employees and out-of-work contractors, hundreds of workers staged a sit-in inside the Hart Senate Office Building.
  103. Protesters stood in silence for 33 minutes, holding Styrofoam plates with messages like: “Jobs not walls,” “Will work for pay,” and “Please let us work.” The empty plates signified the need to feed their families.
  104. After the silence, protestors shouted, “No more food banks,” and, “They need paychecks!” Some staged a sit-inoutside senators’ offices, and demanded a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
  105. When McConnell’s office staff refused, a dozen took seats in the hallway outside his office, and were later pulled up from the floor and arrested, their arms zip tied behind their backs, by the U.S. Capitol Police.
  106. On Wednesday, McConnell blocked a bill to temporarily reopen the Department of Homeland Security, the fourth time he has blocked a House’s DHS bill from coming to the floor
  107. McConnell has also blocked legislation three times that would have opened other departments and agencies, arguing it would be a “show” vote because Trump will not sign it.
  108. On Wednesday, WAPO reported acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has pressed agency heads to provide him with a list by Friday of programs which would be impacted if the shutdown lasts until March or April.
  109. Mulvaney’s request is the first known by a top White House official for a broad accounting of the spreading impact of the shutdown. So far officials have been focused on the wait times at airports, but not other programs.
  110. Officials are already grappling with keeping their agencies functioning as unpaid workers refuse to show up. Over months, the impact is expected to extend to tens of millions of Americans who rely on government services.
  111. Federal workers will miss their second paycheck on Friday. Unions are filing legal action against the regime for making employees work without pay. Agencies are still trying to understand the scope of their problems.
  112. Other impacts include the federal court system is likely to halt major operations after February 1, and the Department of Agriculture will run out of funding to pay food stamp benefits in March to 40 million people.
  113. On Wednesday, a joint statement by air traffic controllers, pilots, and flight attendants unions said, “We have a growing concern for the safety and security of our members, our airlines and the traveling public.”
  114. The 130,000 aviation professionals said, “We cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break,” adding, “It is unprecedented.”
  115. On Wednesday, five bipartisan former secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security, including John Kelly, sent a letter to Trump and Congress calling for an end to the shutdown, calling it “unconscionable.”
  116. The letter said “DHS employees who protect the traveling public, investigate and counter terrorism, and protect critical infrastructure should not have to rely on the charitable generosity of others.”
  117. On Thursday, former secretary Jeh Johnson said at an event “from a security standpoint we are letting our guard down,” adding, the “very people we depend on for security are made to suffer.”
  118. On Monday, Lara Trump, campaign adviser and wife of Eric Trump, told Bold TV said federal workers are going through “a little bit of pain,” but that Trump’s wall “is so much bigger than any one person.”
  119. Kevin Hassett, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, appeared to compare the shutdown to a vacation, saying it could leave workers “better off” since they will receive back pay and without having to report to work.
  120. On Thursday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC, “I don’t really quite understand why” federal workers need to go to food banks, adding, “these folks will get back pay once this whole thing gets settled down.”
  121. Ross also said “It’s kind of disappointing that the air traffic controllers are calling in sick.” The anchor said it is because they cannot support their families, Ross responded, “They are eventually going to be paid.”
  122. On Thursday, Pelosi took a swipe at Ross and Trump, telling reporters “I don’t know if it’s a “let them eat cake” kind of attitude, or “call your father for money,” or this is character building for you, it is all going to end well.”
  123. Minutes later, suggesting he was watching Pelosi’s press conference, Trump tweeted “Nancy just said she “just doesn’t understand why?” Very simply, without a Wall it all doesn’t work,” adding, “We will not Cave!”
  124. On Wednesday, Michael Cohen indefinitely postponed his scheduled February 7 testimony to Congress, with his attorney Lanny Davis citing verbal attacks by Trump, including unspecified threats against Cohen’s family.
  125. Trump allies Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows also sent a letter to Cohen’s attorney, Guy Petrillo, suggesting Cohen would face aggressive questioning from House Republicans.
  126. Trump allies have privately said Cohen’s disclosures are one of the most significant threats to Trump. Cohen has spent more than 70 hours in interviews with investigators for the Southern District of New York and with Mueller’s team.
  127. On Wednesday, committee chairs Reps. Elijah Cummings and Adam Schiff said they understood Cohen’s concerns for his family’s safety and repeated their earlier warning against efforts to intimidate witnesses.
  128. On Thursday, in an early morning tweet, Trump called Cohen a “bad lawyer” who “sadly will not be testifying before Congress,” adding Cohen, “is using the lawyer of Crooked Hillary Clinton to represent him.”
  129. That lawyer, Lanny Davis, in an interview on Thursday accused Giuliani of witness tampering for recent comments he made about Cohen’s father-in-law, suggesting he might have ties to organized crime.
  130. On Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena for Cohen to appear privately before the panel next month and correct false testimony he delivered last year about the Trump Tower Moscow project.
  131. On Wednesday, House committee chairs Reps. Maxine Waters and Adam Schiff said they are planning to launch a joint investigation of Deutsche Bank over its business dealings with Trump.
  132. Waters asked Deutsche Bank for details of its handling of Trump’s accounts in May 2017, but the bank refused to cooperate, citing privacy. She now has subpoena power as chair of the House Financial Service Committee.
  133. On Thursday, Deutsche Bank AG said it received an inquiry from the two House committees on its ties to Trump. Reps. Waters and Schiff said they are in talks with the bank and expect its cooperation in its inquiries.
  134. On Wednesday, in a letter sent by committee chair Rep. Elijah Cummings to White House counsel Pat Cipollone, the House Oversight Committee announced it will investigate White House security clearances.
  135. The letter also states the investigation will look into why the regime is “defying federal law by failing to provide to Congress information about its security clearance process required by the SECRET Act.”
  136. The letter seeks information about security clearance issued for Jared Kushner, John Bolton, Michael Flynn, Michael Flynn Jr., K.T. McFarland, Robert Porter, Robin Townley, John McEntee, and Sebastian Gorka.
  137. Cummings said he also sent a letter to the National Rifle Association about Bolton, seeking information about his contacts with Maria Butina. Democrats vowed to subpoena Trump if documents are not turned over.
  138. On Thursday, NBC News reported Jared Kushner’s application for a top-secret clearance was rejected by two career White House security specialists, but was overruled by their supervisor, Carl Kline.
  139. Kline became director of the personnel security office in the Executive Office of the President in May 2017.Kushner was one of at least 30 cases in which he overruled security experts, approving top security clearance.
  140. The FBI background check on Kushner raised concerns about potential foreign influence on him, citing questions about his family’s business, his foreign contacts, his foreign travel, and meetings during the campaign.
  141. Kline recommended to the CIA that Kushner be granted “sensitive compartmented information” (SCI) clearance. CIA officials wondered how Kusher was granted top-secret clearance and denied the SCI request.
  142. On Thursday, Trump tweeted promotion of a book by conservative commentator Doug Wead, who had appeared on “Fox & Friends” that morning calling Trump the “most accessible” president in history.
  143. Trump also quoted Wead, tweeting, “This is everything FDR dreamed about, the New Deal to put America back to work. Think of LBJ, he gave people food stamps & welfare. Donald Trump’s giving them a job.”
  144. Trump also repeated his new slogan, tweeting, “Without a Wall there cannot be safety and security at the Border or for the U.S.A. BUILD THE WALL AND CRIME WILL FALL!”
  145. On Thursday, the Senate rejected dueling proposals to end the shutdown. The Senate voted 52-44 to reject House-backed legislation that would fund the government through February 8, with six Republicans joining the Democrats.
  146. The Senate also voted down Trump’s proposal by a 50-47 vote which would have provided $5.7 billion for his border wall and granted temporary protection for some undocumented immigrants.
  147. On Thursday, in an unplanned evening press availability, Trump claimed, “In fact, I see a lot of the Democrats — almost all of them are breaking saying, ‘Walls are good. Walls are good.’” This is a false statement.
  148. Trump floated the idea of a prorated down payment for his wall to reopen the government. Speaker Pelosi scoffed at the idea being discussed in the Senate, and added of Trump, “I don’t think he knows what he wants.”
  149. Trump threatened to declare a national emergency, saying: “I have other alternatives,” and adding, “A lot of people who wants this to happen. The military wants this to happen. This is a virtual invasion of our country.”
  150. Trump defended Wilbur Ross, saying “perhaps he should have said it differently,” and claiming, without evidence, that grocery stores and banks “are working along” with furloughed federal workers.
  151. On Thursday, CNN reported the White House is preparing a draft proclamation for Trump to declare a national emergency. The questions of legality and legal challenges are the main hold ups in acting.
  152. The draft states: “The massive amount of aliens who unlawfully enter the United States each day is a direct threat to the safety and security of our nation and constitutes a national emergency.”
  153. Also $7 billion in possible funding for the wall has been identified: $681 million in Treasury forfeiture funds, $3.6 billion in military construction, $3 billion in Pentagon civil works funds, and $200 million in DHS funds.
  154. On Thursday, Trump attacked Michael D’Antonio, a commentator and Trump biographer, for “playing his biggest con of all on Fake News CNN,” tweeting D’Antonio is “a broken down hack who knows nothing about me.”
  155. On Friday, in an early morning raid, FBI agents arrested Roger Stone at his home in Fort Lauderdale. In Mueller’s team 24-page document, Stone was indicted on seven counts of lying, obstruction and witness tampering.
  156. CNN video footage showed FBI agents at Stone’s door: “FBI. Open the door,” before adding, “FBI. Warrant.” The FBI agents who arrested Stone were working without pay given the government shutdown.
  157. The indictment said Stone sought stolen emails from WikiLeaks that could damage Trump’s opponents. In July 2018, Mueller indicted 12 Russians of orchestrating the hacks and distributing documents to WikiLeaks.
  158. The indictment also notes before Stone’s actions in the summer of 2016, the Democratic National Committee had already announced it had been hacked by Russians, implying Stone knew that too.
  159. The indictment said “a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone” about future releases by “Organization 1,” thought to be WikiLeaks. It was unclear who directed the senior campaign official.
  160. After WikiLeaks released its first set of Clinton campaign emails on October 7, 2016, Stone received a text message from “an associate of the high-ranking Trump campaign official” saying “well done.”
  161. In an October 2016 email to Steve Bannon, then-campaign chief executive, Stone implied he had information about WikiLeaks’ plans. It was not clear if Bannon is the high-ranking official and his lawyer declined to comment.
  162. Stone tried to cover up what he had done by lying to Congress. He also tried persuade another witness, identified as “Person 2” — thought to be Randy Credico —  to refuse to talk to the House Intelligence Committee.
  163. Jerome Corsi confirmed to CNN that he is “Person 1” in the indictment and that the statements about him in the indictment are “accurate.” Corsi also said what the indictment contains “confirms I did nothing wrong.”
  164. After Stone’s arrest, Trump tweeted, “Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country! NO COLLUSION!”
  165. Trump also tweeted, “Who alerted CNN to be there?” echoing a tweet by former Fox News host Greta van Susteren, who falsely claimed the FBI had tipped off CNN to cover Stone’s arrest. CNN monitored grand jury activity.
  166. Stone appeared in a Fort Lauderdale court with steel shackles on his wrists and ankles Friday morning, and was released on a bond. On the courthouse steps, he made the V-for-victory gesture used by Richard Nixon.
  167. Stone said “There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president, nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself.” The crowd booed and chanted, “Lock him up!”
  168. With Stone’s indictment, the Mueller probe has now led to charges against 34 people and guilty pleas by six Trump associates and advisers. Stone got his start in politics working for Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign.
  169. Agents also moved to search Stone’s New York City apartment. His case was assigned to assigned to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia, who is also hearing Paul Manafort’s case.
  170. On Friday, House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff said his committee will release all interview transcripts from its Russia probe to Mueller, citing Stone is second witness to be indicted for lying.
  171. On Friday, the Nixon Foundation distanced itself from Stone, tweeting during his time as a college student, Stone “was a junior scheduler on the Nixon reelection committee. Mr. Stone was not a campaign aide or adviser.”
  172. On Friday, Mueller’s team said in court that Manafort should not any get credit for cooperating when he is sentenced on February 8, saying the “multiple discernible lies” were not instances of “mere memory lapses.”
  173. On Friday, TSA Administrator David Pekoske tweeted that the department had scraped together funds left over from last year to make a “a partial payment” to TSA screeners for the first two-weeks of the shutdown.
  174. On Friday, WAPO reported at least 14,000 of the 26,000 unpaid Internal Revenue Service employees, whose work includes tax processing and call centers, did not show up this week after being called back last week.
  175. On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration announced it was restricting flights into and out of New York’s LaGuardia Airport, saying there were not enough air traffic controllers to manage flights safely.
  176. Within hours, delays at LaGuardia had a ripple effect on other East Coast airports. The FAA’s action was the first time staffing shortages hit air traffic control centers during the shutdown.
  177. On Friday, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found Trump’s approval at 37%, one point off the low in his first two years, as 60% of Americans disapproved of his handling of the shutdown.
  178. Trump’s two-year average approval rating of 38% is the lowest on record for a president in 72 years of polls, compared with an average of 61% for the 12 previous presidents since 1945.
  179. The poll also found Trump’s approval among women dropped to a new low of 27 %, down 9 points since November, while 49% of men approved. His rating with independents dropped to 32%, matching its low.
  180. Shortly after the FAA’s action, the White House announced Trump would address the press from the Rose Garden. In the afternoon, cabinet officials and White House aides lined the sides and applauded him as he spoke.
  181. Trump claimed victory, saying he was “very proud to announce” what he called “a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government.” The government would reopen for three weeks with no funding for his wall.
  182. At a joint press conference after the speech, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer thanked federal workers for working a month without pay. Rather than accepting credit, Pelosi praised the unity of her caucus.
  183. Pelosi said McConnell “is a professional” so it is painful to see him kowtowing to Trump, saying she asked him, “Do you just want to abolish the Congress or maybe just the United States Senate? Because that is effectively what you’re doing.” Pelosi said his response was “nothing.”
  184. Later, Trump gave no explanation for his capitulation, tweeting, “This was in no way a concession. It was taking care of millions of people” hurt by the shutdown, adding, “in 21 days, if no deal is done, it’s off to the races!”
  185. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter expressed outrage, tweeting “Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush: As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States.”
  186. On Friday evening, press secretary Sanders quoted Trump’s tweet saying this was in no way a concession,” adding that in 21 days, Trump “is moving forward building the wall with or without the Democrats.”
  187. Late Friday, Trump signed a bill to temporarily reopen the government, ending a 35 day shutdown, the longest in the nation’s history. Over one million government contractors will not be reimbursed for missed pay.
  188. Late Friday, in a series of tweets, Pelosi said Trump’s “continued efforts to undermine” the Mueller probe “raises the questions,” adding, “What does Putin have on @realDonaldTrump, politically, personally or financially?”
  189. Pelosi also asked, mirroring a statement issued by her office Friday, why has the Trump regime “continued to discuss pulling the U.S. out of NATO, which would be a massive victory for Putin?
  190. Pelosi also tweeted “Stone’s indictment makes clear there was a deliberate, coordinated effort by top Trump campaign officials to subvert the will of the American people during the 2016 Election. #FollowTheFacts.”
  191. On Saturday, Trump sought to shift the narrative, tweeting, “If Roger Stone was indicted for lying to Congress, what about the lying done by Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Lisa Page & lover, Baker and soooo many others?”
  192. Trump also sent a series of five tweets arguing for his wall, culminating with a video of snippets Schumer and Pelosi, with his new slogan “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!”
  193. On Saturday, NYT compiled a list of more than 100 in-person meetings, phone calls, text messages, emails, and private messages on Twitter that Trump and his campaign associates had with Russians during the 2016 election.
  194. Gizmodo reported that some of Trump’s photos on Facebook and Instagram have been manipulated to make him appear thinner, and to make his fingers appear slightly longer.

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Roger Stone, a former advisor to President Donald Trump, exits the Federal Courthouse on January 25, 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Stone strikes the famous pose of his personal hero, the late former president Richard M. Nixon, by raising his arms high and making V-for-victory signs with his fingers.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 90: TRULY ORWELLIAN

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.

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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; Michael Cohen asserted Trump knew about, and approved, the June 9 Trump Tower meeting with Russians to get dirt on Hillary; 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.

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Seeking to counter these closing walls, Trump continued to promote his alternative version of the truth, telling a crowd in Kansas City, “Just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” 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.

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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.

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  1. On Saturday, 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.”
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.”
  7. 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.
  8. 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.”
  9. On Sunday, in a series of tweets, Trump claimed, without evidence, to be vindicated, tweeting that the warrants are “ridiculously heavily redacted.”
  10. 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!”
  11. 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!”
  12. 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!”
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.”
  17. 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!”
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. Fox News reported that several Republican candidates who are Nazis and anti-Semites have won their primaries, creating a headache for the Republican Party.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.”
  33. 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.
  34. 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!
  35. 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.
  36. Guardian reported Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy has turned thewindowless basement beneath the federal courthouse in San Diego into a pop-up “dungeon” like meeting place for lawyers and migrant clients.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.”
  42. 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.”
  43. 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.”
  44. 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.
  45. 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.”
  46. 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.”
  47. On Thursday, the Trump regime said in a court filing they had reunited1,442 families with children ages 5 to 17, and said an additional 378 children have already been released under “appropriate circumstances.”
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.”
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. 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.
  55. 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.
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.”
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.
  63. Rohrabacher also attended a meeting Butina helped arrange two years earlier in St. Petersburg, Russia which also included her mentor, Kremlin-connected banker Torshin.
  64. 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.”
  65. 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!”
  66. 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…
  67. 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.
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. 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.”
  71. Putin acknowledged that he wanted Trump to win at the Helsinki summit joint news conference. The Atlantic noted the White House transcriptinitially did not include this question in their transcript.
  72. The discrepancy involved a question from a Reuters reporter, “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.”
  73. 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.
  74. 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.
  75. 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.”
  76. 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.”
  77. 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.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.
  80. 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.”
  81. 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.
  82. 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.”
  83. 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.”
  84. 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.”
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. 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.
  88. 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.
  89. 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.
  90. 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.”
  91. 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.
  92. 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.
  93. 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.
  94. 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.
  95. 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.
  96. 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.
  97. 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.
  98. 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.
  99. 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.
  100. 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.
  101. 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.
  102. 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.
  103. 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.
  104. 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.
  105. 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.”
  106. 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.
  107. 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.
  108. 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.
  109. 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.
  110. 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.
  111. 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.”
  112. 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.
  113. 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.
  114. 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.
  115. 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?”
  116. 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.”
  117. 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.
  118. 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.
  119. 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.
  120. 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.
  121. 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.
  122. 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.
  123. On Thursday, Facebook’s market value fell by $119 billion or 19%, thelargest one-day loss in market value by any company in U.S. stock market history, after releasing a disastrous quarterly report.
  124. 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).
  125. 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.
  126. 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.
  127. 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.
  128. 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.
  129. 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.
  130. 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.
  131. 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.
  132. 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.
  133. 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.
  134. 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.
  135. 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.
  136. 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.
  137. 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.
  138. 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.”
  139. 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.
  140. 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.”
  141. 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.
  142. 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.
  143. 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.
  144. 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.”
  145. 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.
  146. 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.
  147. 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.
  148. On Tuesday, CNN reported the 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.
  149. 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.
  150. 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.”
  151. 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.
  152. 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.”
  153. 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.
  154. 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.
  155. 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.
  156. 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.”
  157. 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.
  158. 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.
  159. 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.
  160. 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.
  161. 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.
  162. 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.
  163. 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.”
  164. 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…”
  165. 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.
  166. 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.
  167. 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.”
  168. 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.
  169. TMZ first reported Kristin Davis, known as the “Manhattan Madam,” wassubpoenaed 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.
  170. 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.
  171. 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.’”

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 89: ‘HELL’SINKI

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: Trump stood on stage in Helsinki, after a two hour, private meeting with Putin, and sided with our former foreign adversary over the U.S. intelligence community. 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.

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.

IMG_1187
Los Angeles, CA ~ March 2018
  1. 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.”
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.”
  6. 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.”
  7. 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.”
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.”
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.”
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. The Twitter account for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affair, headed by Sergey Lavrov, tweeted, “We agree.”
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.”
  28. 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.”
  29. 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.”
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.”
  33. 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.”
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.”
  37. 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!”
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.”
  42. 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.”
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. 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,”
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.”
  49. 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.”
  50. 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.
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.”
  54. 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.
  55. 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.
  56. 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.”
  57. 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!”
  58. 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.
  59. On Monday, the Justice Department disclosed that Maria Butina was arrested Sunday and appeared Monday in court.
  60. 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.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.”
  63. 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.
  64. 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.
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
  67. 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.”
  68. 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.
  69. 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.”
  70. 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.
  71. 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.
  72. 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.”
  73. 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.
  74. 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.
  75. 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.
  76. 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.
  77. 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.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.
  80. 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.
  81. 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.
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. In an op-ed Beck Dorey-Stein, a White House stenographer from 2012 to 2017, a staffer position that stays through changing administrations, saidTrump uniquely refused to be recorded and have a record of his words.
  85. 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.”
  86. 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.
  87. 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.
  88. 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.
  89. On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed Trump’s 23rd circuit court judge, breaking a record set by George H.W. Bush who got 22 confirmed.
  90. 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.
  91. 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.
  92. 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.
  93. 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.
  94. 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.
  95. 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.
  96. 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.
  97. 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.
  98. 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.”
  99. 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.
  100. 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.”
  101. 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.
  102. 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.”
  103. 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.”
  104. 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!”
  105. 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.
  106. 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.”
  107. On Wednesday, press secretary Sanders held a White House daily briefing for the first time in over two weeks.
  108. 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.”
  109. 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.
  110. 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.
  111. 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.
  112. 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.”
  113. 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.
  114. 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.
  115. 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.
  116. 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.
  117. 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.”
  118. 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.
  119. 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.”
  120. 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!”
  121. 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.”
  122. 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.”
  123. 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.”
  124. Trump also tweeted, “The Democrats have a death wish, in more ways than one,” saying Democrats want to abolish ICE.
  125. 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.
  126. 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.
  127. 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.”
  128. 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.
  129. 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.
  130. 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.”
  131. 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.”
  132. 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.
  133. 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.
  134. 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.”
  135. Coats was also asked if he is considering resigning, to which he responded, “That’s a place I don’t really go to publicly.”
  136. 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.
  137. 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.
  138. 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.
  139. 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.
  140. 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.”
  141. 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.”
  142. On Thursday, Republicans in the House voted down a Democratic effort to increase election security spending.
  143. 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.
  144. 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.”
  145. 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.”
  146. 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.”
  147. 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!”
  148. 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.
  149. 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.”
  150. 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.
  151. 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.
  152. 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.”
  153. 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.”
  154. 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.”
  155. 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.”
  156. 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.”
  157. 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.
  158. 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.
  159. 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.”
  160. 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.
  161. 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!”
  162. 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.
  163. 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.
  164. 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.
  165. 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.
  166. 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.
  167. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_4885
Wynwood, Miami, FL December 2017
  1. On Saturday night, Trump gave a 73-minute campaign-style dystopian and unhinged speech in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, ahead of Tuesday’s special election, campaigning for Republican candidate Rick Saccone.
  2. Trump occasionally mentioned Saccone and insulted his opponent (“Lamb the sham”), but mostly it was a campaign speech about Trump. Trump announced his new slogan for the 2020 campaign: Keep America Great.
  3. Trump called MSNBC’s Chuck Todd “a sleeping son of a bitch,” and mocked Rep. Maxine Waters for calling for his impeachment, referring to her as “a low-IQ individual.”
  4. Trump again called for the death penalty for drug dealers, saying “toughness” is the solution, adding drug dealers “who kill thousands” of people, “do you think they care who’s on a blue-ribbon committee?”
  5. Toronto Star calculated that Trump made 30 false claims during the speech, including “We put an infrastructure bill in for $1.7 billion,” “they want to stop DACA,” and “we have a big deficit with Canada too.”
  6. On Saturday, in a speech to the France National Front while touring Europe, Steve Bannon said “Let them call you racists. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor.”
  7. On Saturday, in an interview with NBC News, Putin said the Russian government was not behind interference in the US election, saying, “Maybe they’re Ukrainian, Tatars, Jews — just with Russian citizenship.”
  8. Jewish groups and US lawmakers condemned Putin’s statement, including the Anti-Defamation League, saying “It is deeply disturbing to see the Russian president giving new life to classic anti-Semitic stereotypes.” Trump did not respond.
  9. On Saturday, NYT reported Trump is in discussions with Emmet Flood, who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment process, about joining the legal team and helping him navigate his DOJ communication.
  10. Trump is also considering a shake-up of his legal team. Some allies say Ty Cobb’s approach of being cooperative with Robert Mueller is not working. In the summer of 2017, Flood turned down an offer to work for Trump.
  11. On Sunday, Trump denied the NYT’s report of a shake-up, tweeting, “The Failing New York Times purposely wrote a false story stating that I am unhappy with my legal team on the Russia case….Wrong.”
  12. The Boston Globe reported a rider added to the Homeland Security reauthorization bill would allow Trump to dispatch Secret Service agents to polling places nationwide during federal elections, a vast expansion of executive authority.
  13. AP reported that Trump’s effort to discredit the news media by continually using the term “fake news” is being mimicked by officials at all levels of government as a weapon against unflattering stories.
  14. Experts on the media and democracy warned the continual use of “fake news” could do long-term damage by sowing confusion and contempt for journalists, and by undermining the media’s role as a watchdog.
  15. AP reported, based on their analysis of data, the Trump regime censored, withheld or said it couldn’t find records sought by citizens, journalists, or others more than any other administration in the past decade.
  16. Of the 823,222 FOIA requests received by the regime, 78% received censored files or nothing. The number of times the regime said it would be illegal under US law to turn over information doubled from last year.
  17. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that FEMA has removed all mention of anything climate change related from the documents meant to guide the agency’s strategic plan for 2018–2022.
  18. The new document for FEMA, an agency responsible for dealing with the effects of disasters, have removed references to climate, global warming, sea-level rise, extreme weather, and other scientific predictions.
  19. WAPO reported audio of a fundraising speech Trump made on Wednesday revealing he bragged about making up information — saying the US runs a trade deficit with Canada — in a meeting with Canadian PM Trudeau.
  20. Trump mimicked Trudeau in the audio, “Nice guy, good-looking guy, comes in — ‘Donald, we have no trade deficit,’” then Trump bragged, “I didn’t even know. … I had no idea. I just said, ‘You’re wrong.’”
  21. On Thursday, Trump doubled down, tweeting, “We do have a Trade Deficit with Canada.” This statement is false: the Office of the United States Trade Representative says the US has a trade surplus with Canada.
  22. After delaying it three times, Trump’s USDA withdrew an Obama-era animal welfare rule which would have set new standards for the treatment of animals if their meat is going to be sold as “certified organic.”
  23. CNN reported six months after Hurricane Maria hit, Puerto Ricans are still dying. 10% of the island is still without electricity, much slower than the recoveries after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Medical treatment is precarious.
  24. On Friday, AP reported that Trump’s International Wildlife Conservation Council, a newly created advisory board, is stacked with trophy hunters, including ones with ties to Trump and his family.
  25. The 16 member board is appointed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, andwill help rewrite federal rules for importing the heads and hides of African elephants, lions, and rhinos. A $250,000 budget of taxpayer dollars has been set aside for travel expenses, staff time, and other costs.
  26. In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the head of ICE, and the Department of Labor, 18 Republican members of Congress defended private prison company GEO Group’s practice of forced labor for undocumented immigrants.
  27. On Monday, USA Today reported white supremacist leader Richard Spencer tweeted a YouTube video in which he bemoaned that because of violent clashes, his rallies are no longer “fun.”
  28. On Friday, a resolution denouncing white nationalists and neo-Nazis in the Tennessee legislature didn’t make it out of committee. A motion brought by a Democrat to talk about the bill could not find a Republican to second.
  29. Dallas Morning News reported that a local newspaper, the Olton Enterprise,removed reference of a same-sex couple, the son and his partner, from a mother’s obituary, citing “religious and ethical reasons.”
  30. On Thursday, Politico reported on emails which reveal conservatives, including Newt Gingrich, targeted Obama holdovers “burrowed into the government,” including State Department Iran expert Sahar Nowrouzzadeh.
  31. Nowrouzzadeh, born in Connecticut, was attacked by conservative media. Brian Hook, chief of State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, sent an email to himself in April which included a list of names, questioning their loyalties.
  32. On Sunday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave an alarming interview to “60 Minutes” in which she admitted she hasn’t “intentionally” visited underperforming schools, and struggled to answer basic questions about the nation’s schools.
  33. DeVos continued Monday on the “Today” show, when asked about Trump’s proposal for school safety measures, she contradicted the NRA-friendly White House report just out saying, “everything is on the table.”
  34. Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, told Bloomberg, “My function, really, as an economist is to try to provide the underlying analytics that confirm his intuition. And his intuition is always right in these matters.”
  35. CNN reported at a meeting set up at chief of staff John Kelly’s request, officials from the White House counsel’s office and the Cabinet liaison met with Ryan Zinke, David Shulkin, Ben Carson, and Scott Pruitt last month to provide “a clear message that optics matter.”
  36. On Wednesday, CNN reported emails show Carson and his wife selected the $31,000 dining set for the Department of Housing and Urban Development dining room, in contrast to Carson’s statement in Week 68that he had little or no involvement.
  37. On Thursday, The Guardian reported Naved Jafry, a senior adviser at Carson’s HUD, had multiple allegations of fraud and had exaggerated his military record. Jafry apologized for inflating his biography and resigned.
  38. On Thursday, Zinke said his department cut the cost of replacing six historical doors in his office from $139k to $75k. Zinke said the episode shows the need for “a little more flexibility or common sense” in laws.
  39. Secretary of Defense James Mattis was linked to Theranos, which was involved in a massive corporate fraud uncovered this week. Mattis served on the company’s board, and advocated for use of their technology (which is fake) inside the military.
  40. On Tuesday, Democrat Conor Lamb narrowly won a House special election in Pennsylvania in a district which has traditionally gone Republican. Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016.
  41. Republicans massively outspent Democrats on the race: outside groups had spent more than $14 million on Republican Rick Saccone’s behalf, compared to just $2 million for Lamb. After the election Trump and the GOP said Saccone was a bad candidate, and that Lamb embraced Trump policy, which is false.
  42. Two House Democrats asked the US special counsel to investigate if a trip by Zinke to Pennsylvania weeks before the special election may have violated the Hatch Act.
  43. AP reported that despite promises by Trump to drain the swamp, he hasfilled federal agencies with ex-lobbyists and corporate lawyers who now regulate the industries they previously worked in.
  44. White House counsel Don McGahn has issued at least 37 ethics waivers to key administration officials at the White House and executive branch agencies. Under Obama, just five ethics waivers went to former lobbyists.
  45. NYT reported the Kushner Companies and the Trump Organization are quietly working together, and have signed a letter of intent on at least one real estate deal, raising concerns from experts in government ethics.
  46. Kansas City Business Journal reported that Sprint will cut 500 jobs at its Oakland Park headquarters. In Week 7, Trump took credit for 5,000 jobs at Sprint which were created under the Obama Administration.
  47. On Monday, AP reported on Donald Jr.’s previously undisclosed business dealings with Texas hedge fund manager Gentry Beach, a longtime hunting buddy who raised millions for the Trump campaign.
  48. Beach has been granted special access, including to top National Security Council officials to push for curbing US sanctions in Venezuela to open business for US companies. NSC lawyers raised red flags about the meeting.
  49. On Monday, McClatchy reported Ivanka, while acting as a White House adviser, hasn’t cut ties with the Trump Organization, and will pull in more than $1 million from family business deals across the globe.
  50. Some Trump-branded developments are hiring state-owned companies, receiving gifts from foreign governments such as eased regulations, and accepting payments from customers who are foreign officials.
  51. On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported two months after Kushner joined the White House, his family sold a stake in a Brooklyn building to Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, whose controlling shareholder is the Japanese government.
  52. At the time of the deal, March 31, Kushner was helping Trump oversee trade policy. The purchase price represented a premium of more than 60% over the basis Kushner Cos. and their partners paid four years earlier.
  53. The deal freed up cash for Kushner Cos. to take ownership stakes in nearby buildings in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood, while the building NTT invested in remains vacant.
  54. On Wednesday, CNN reported Department of Defense employees charged almost $140,000 on department-issued Visa cards at Trump branded properties during Trump’s first eight months of being in office.
  55. On Sunday, BuzzFeed reported Trump lawyers are considering a challenge to stop “60 Minutes” from airing an interview of Stephanie Clifford, the performer who uses the stage name Stormy Daniels.
  56. On Monday, Dallas Morning News reported Texas officials are investigating whether a Dallas-area notary properly signed off on Clifford’s agreement. As a notary, she did not sign or date the 2016 agreement.
  57. In a complaint filed with the DOJ and Office of Government Ethics, watchdog group CREW argued Michael Cohen’s payment to Clifford “constituted a loan” to Trump’s campaign, and Trump “seemingly violated a federal law by failing to disclose it” in campaign filings.
  58. On Monday, NYT reported on a letter from Stephanie Clifford’s attorney to Cohen, in which Clifford offered to wire $130,000 into any account of Trump’s choosing to buy her way out the hush agreement.
  59. The offer, which had a deadline of Tuesday at noon, also seeks an agreement that neither Trump or the shell company set up by Cohen, would block the broadcast of Clifford’s “60 Minutes” interview.
  60. On Wednesday, WSJ reported a second lawyer who works for Trump Organization, Jill Martin, is listed as counsel in an arbitration demand for Essential Consultants to pay $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford in 2016 in exchange for her silence.
  61. In a statement, the Trump Organization said Martin filed the document “in her individual capacity” while waiting for a New York-based lawyer to get approval to practice in California.
  62. On Thursday, WAPO reported CBS tentatively plans to air the “60 Minutes” episode on March 25. CBS president David Rhodes said at the Innovative TV conference on Tuesday that the hold up is routine fact checking.
  63. On Thursday, AP reported that lawyers representing Trump’s family hotel business threatened a Panamanian judicial official handling the dispute of the hotel previously known as Trump International Hotel in Panama.
  64. In the complaint, the justice of the peace, Marisol Carrera, said Trump’s lawyers accosted her in her office after she ruled against Trump in Week 69. The abuse continued, she said, after she called for the police to come.
  65. On Friday, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney told MSNBC in a morning interview that Clifford was threatened with physical harm, and suggested she had only signed the hush agreement because of threats against her.
  66. On Friday, in an afternoon interview with CNN, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney said some of the alleged threats continued to take place while Trump was in the office.
  67. On Friday, in papers filed in federal court via Essential Consultants,Michael Cohen accused Stephanie Clifford of violating the hush agreement 20 times, and claimed he had the right to seek $20 million of damages.
  68. Also in the filing, Cohen seeks to move the case out of the public eye, and back into private arbitration. In a separate filing, a lawyer representing Trump said he intends to join the push to return to private arbitration.
  69. On Monday, Bloomberg reported Mueller is considering setting aside the obstruction of justice case against Trump, which is almost complete, while his team finishes work on possible collusion and the hacking of Democrats.
  70. Mueller’s team is concerned that bringing obstruction of justice first, the part that might hit Trump closest personally, may cause witnesses to become less cooperative and lead Trump to move to shut down the probe.
  71. Obstruction of justice includes the James Comey firing, Trump’s input on Donald Jr.’s misleading June 9 meeting statement, and Trump considering firing Mueller. Trump, Ivanka and Donald Jr. have not yet been interviewed.
  72. On Monday, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein offered unqualified support for Mueller despite White House criticism, adding, “I don’t believe there is any justification at this point for terminating the special counsel.”
  73. On Monday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee brought the committee’s investigation of the 2016 election to an end, over fierce objections by Democrats. Republicans drafted a 150-page report on their findings without consulting with Democrats.
  74. Among the findings in the report, Republicans said that Russia did meddle, that the Obama administration had a “lackluster” response, but there was no preference by Russia for Trump and no collusion.
  75. The Republicans reached the exact opposite finding of US intelligence agencies, which unanimously found that Russia interfered with the intention of helping Trump win.
  76. Trump tweeted after the report was released, in all capitalized letters, the House Intelligence Committee, “FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA.”
  77. On Tuesday, Rep. Trey Gowdy broke from his Republican colleagues, saying evidence gathered by the committee clearly showed Russia did work to undermine Hillary Clinton.
  78. On Tuesday, Rep. K. Michael Conaway, who is technically leading the committee, backed off from the Republican report findings saying “it’s clear [Russian officials] were trying to hurt Hillary [Clinton].”
  79. On Tuesday, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee issued a 21-page “status report” which laid out their case to continue the probe. The report finds Russia’s “active measures” efforts were intended to help Trump win.
  80. The status-report included a long list of key witnesses they have yet to call, including Reince Priebus, Stephen Miller, KT McFarland, Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, Sam Nunberg, and others who met with the regime like Natalia Veselnitskaya, and social media companies.
  81. Democrats also cited a previously unreported item, that Trump’s business had been “actively negotiating a business deal in Moscow with a sanctioned Russian bank” during the 2016 campaign season.
  82. Business Insider reported Joseph Mifsud, the professor who met with George Papadopoulos and told him Russia had “dirt”on Hillary Clinton, has gone missing. His fiancée, with whom he has a baby, has not heard from him.
  83. On Tuesday, WAPO reported that in the spring of 2016, months before the emails were released, Roger Stone had a conversation with Julian Assange, in which Assange said his organization had obtained emails of senior Democrats.
  84. At least two people were informed of the conversation: the source for the WAPO story who chose to remain anonymous due to the ongoing FBI investigation and Nunberg, who testified before a grand jury in Week 69.
  85. BuzzFeed reported, based on testimony given by Felix Sater to the House Intelligence Committee, he has worked as an American spy, both as an asset for the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (or DIA) tracking Osama bin Laden, and then for the FBI for over a decade providing intel.
  86. Some say Sater may still be working with the FBI and knows many agents. Reportedly he did some of this work to avoid jail time for a financial crime.Today he is being questioned on Trump’s business deals and ties to Russia.
  87. BuzzFeed reporters interviewed Sater in Los Angeles, where he is now living. Sater says he is telling his full story to the FBI agents, at least six of whom he allegedly knows from past dealings, as part of the Mueller probe.
  88. On Monday, Daily Mail reported Hamad al Mazroie, the spy chief for the UAE intelligence service, and Mohammed Dahlan, the UAE crown prince’s personal conduit to the Kremlin, were also at the Seychelles meeting.
  89. On Wednesday, Paul Manafort asked a federal judge again to dismiss the criminal case filed against him in Washington, DC, arguing Mueller’s appointment was invalid and that he exceeded the scope of his authority.
  90. On Thursday, NYT reported that in recent weeks, Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization to hand over all documents related to Russia and other topics he is investigating. It is unclear why Mueller used a subpoena.
  91. This marks the first Mueller subpoena of Trump’s business. In Week 36, Trump said Mueller would be crossing a “red line” if he looked into Trump’s family business.
  92. CNN reported the FBI contacted Thailand’s immigration bureau last week to set up a meeting with Anastasia Vashukevich and Alexander Kirillov, escorts held in Thai jail. In Week 69, Vashukevich said she has 16 hours of tapes of conversations with Russians on US election interference.
  93. On Tuesday, US District Judge T.S. Ellis, III, in Alexandria, Virginia said given the nature of the charges and weight of the evidence against him,Manafort “faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.”
  94. The judge placed Manafort on a 24-hour-a-day lockdown,” citing “The defendant is a person of great wealth who has the financial means and international connections to flee…and every incentive to do so.”
  95. On Thursday, four GOP Senators — Chuck Grassley, Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, and Thom Tillis — called on the DOJ to appoint a second special prosecutor to investigate the FBI’s mishandling of the Russia probe prior to Mueller’s appointment.
  96. On Monday, James Schwab, the San Francisco spokesperson for ICE resigned, citing “false” and “misleading” statements made by top-ranking officials, including Sessions and ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan.
  97. On Monday, Robert Lightfoot Jr., who has served as acting director of NASA for more than a year awaiting a qualified Trump nominee to replace him, will retire without a clear successor.
  98. On Tuesday, Trump opened the door to establishing a new “space force” inside the Pentagon to oversee all space activities, even though the Pentagon brass and his own Air Force secretary have opposed the idea.
  99. On Monday, John McEntee, Trump’s personal assistant, was fired and escorted out of the White House. A White House official said the cause for the firing was an unspecified security issue.
  100. On Thursday, WAPO reported McEntee was fired over a gambling habit: betting tens of thousands of dollars at a time, leaving him vulnerable to outside influence. Formerly, he was a production assistant at Fox News.
  101. Rex Tillerson cut his trip to Africa short, returning on Monday, explaining to reporters on the plane home, “I felt like, look, I just need to get back.” Tillerson was in Africa for an apology tour after Trump’s “shithole countries” comment in Week 61.
  102. On his way back, Tillerson said of the UK spy poisoning “a really egregious act” that appears to have “clearly” come from Russia, adding once the facts are in, “we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be.”
  103. On Tuesday, Trump fired Tillerson as Secretary of State, and replaced him with CIA director Pompeo. Tillerson learned he was fired, hours after returning from his Africa trip, through a staffer who saw Trump’s tweet.
  104. Trump met reporters shortly after, on Tuesday morning, and told them he had made the decision to fire Tillerson “by myself. Trump claimed he had called Tillerson from Air Force One around noon.
  105. On Tuesday, Under SoS Steve Goldstein disputed that claim, saying Tillerson learned of his firing through Twitter and “did not speak to the president” and is unaware of why he was fired. Goldstein was then fired.
  106. On Friday, in an off-the-record meeting with Kelly and a small group of reporters, Kelly said he informed Tillerson Sunday that Trump would likely fire him soon. Kelly added Tillerson was suffering from a stomach bug, so the conversation took place while Tillerson was on the toilet.
  107. On Wednesday, Vanity Fair reported H.R. McMaster could be next, and that Trump is considering firing Sessions and replacing him with Pruitt, who would not be recused from overseeing the Russia probe.
  108. With Tillerson and Goldstein out, eight of the top 10 positions in the State Department are vacant. Only deputy secretary John Sullivan, who will now be the acting SoS, and spokesperson Heather Nauert, a former co-host of “Fox & Friends,” remain.
  109. On Wednesday, Trump picked Larry Kudlow to replace Gary Cohn as director of the National Economic Council. Kudlow is best known for his CNBC television show, and for making grand prognostications and provocative statements.
  110. Trump is considering replacing VA Secretary Shulkin with Pete Hegseth, a co-host of “Fox & Friends Weekend.” Trump reportedly frequently calls Hegseth to discuss veterans’ policy.
  111. On Thursday, at a discussion at the Holocaust Memorial Museum,McMaster called for further US action against Russia as punishment for crimes in Syria, saying “Russia is also complicit in Assad’s atrocities.”
  112. On Thursday night, WAPO reported Trump plans to fire McMaster, his second national security adviser. Trump is comfortable removing McMaster, with whom he never gelled, but says he doesn’t want to humiliate him (as he did with Tillerson).
  113. Also on Thursday, Trump indicated there will be more firings, telling reporters, “There will always be change. And I think you want to see change. I want to also see different ideas.”
  114. The mood in the White House this week has “verged on mania.” White House aides are anxious and nervous, and on edge not knowing if they will be next. “Everybody fears the perp walk,” one White House official said.
  115. Remaining staff are clashing with each other, vying for vacated positions. Trump reportedly said last week, “I like conflict,” while wrapping his fists toward one another to simulate a clash. “I like watching it.”
  116. On Thursday, CBS News reported that a shake-up, which some in the White House are calling a purge, could result in the firings of Kelly, McMaster, and three cabinet members, depending on Trump’s volatile moods.
  117. On Friday, WSJ reported after making cryptic comments by Kelly indicating he may step down, he and Trump reached temporary “truce” in their tumultuous relationship. Kushner and Ivanka continue to undercut Kelly.
  118. Trump told advisers afterward that Mr. Kelly was “100% safe.” Kelly told his worried staffers, at least for the moment, he and Trump had patched things up. “I’m in.”
  119. Also on Friday, when an ABC News reporter caught McMaster giving a tour in the West Wing and asked his status, McMaster said, “Everybody has got to leave the White House at some point. I’m doing my job.”
  120. KBS World Radio, a South Korean public international broadcaster, reported Ivanka will, in Tillerson’s stead, meet with South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha on her visit to the US. Ivanka has interim security clearance.
  121. On Wednesday, dubbed National School Walkout Day one month after the Parkland shooting, students at high schools around the country walked out at 10 a.m. and for 17 minutes recognized the 17 murdered.
  122. On Monday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered “fullest condemnation” of the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, but declined to blame Russia as Prime Minister Theresa May did earlier that day.
  123. On Wednesday, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats over the attempted assassination attempt. PM May also announced increased checks on private flights, customs and freight from Russia, and other measures.
  124. On Wednesday, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the UN, “Russia is responsible…using a military-grade nerve agent,” adding “the credibility of this council will not survive if we fail to hold Russia accountable.”
  125. On Wednesday, the White House changed its position. Sanders issued a statement blaming Russia, and adding the attack, “fits into a pattern of behavior in which Russia disregards the international rules-based order, undermines the sovereignty and security of countries worldwide.”
  126. On Thursday, the US, France, and Germany joined Britain in a joint statement saying Russia was likely responsible for attack, and calling it the “first offensive use of a nerve agent” in Europe since World War II.
  127. On Thursday, Trump’s Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Russia, including five entities and 19 individuals for election interference. This marks the first steps to impose sanctions, well past the deadline of a law passed by Congress.
  128. The entities sanctioned include those listed on Mueller’s indictment. The move was seen as largely symbolic as many on the list were already under sanction.
  129. The Trump regime also accused Russia of a series of cyberattacks on American and European nuclear power plants and water and electric systems, allowing Russia to sabotage infrastructure at will.
  130. Computer screenshots released by the Department of Homeland Security show Russian state hackers were in a position to manipulate or shut down power plants. Most US power plants are privately owned, many with older versions of software.
  131. Three separate Russian cyber-operations were underway simultaneouslyconducted by separate Russian groups for energy attacks, those who hacked DNC emails, and those who used social media to sow discord.
  132. Russian cyberattacks surged last year, starting three months after Trump took office. Trump has said little to nothing about Russia’s cyberattacks, and has yet to acknowledge they interfered in our election.
  133. On Tuesday, the Guardian reported Russian exile Nikolai Glushkov was found dead in his London home. The cause of death is unknown, and there is not yet an established link to the nerve gas attack in Salisbury.
  134. On Friday, a post-mortem of Glushkov revealed he died of “compression to the neck.” Glushkov’s death is now being investigated as a murder inquiry.
  135. Miami Herald reported the Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov, which the Pentagon has been monitoring because it has sailed too close to US waters on several occasions, docked at the port of Havana on Friday.
  136. On Thursday, Vanessa Trump took legal steps to formally end her 12-year marriage to Donald Jr. The couple have five children together.
  137. On Thursday, Politico reported the Trump regime is finalizing its plan to solve the opioid crisis, which will include allowing harsher law enforcement measures, including the death penalty, for drug dealers.
  138. The parents of slain DNC staffer Seth Rich sued Fox News, reporter Malia Zimmerman and Fox News commenter Ed Butowsky over their coverage which contained “false and fabricated facts,” and was later retracted.
  139. In Week 38, ABC News reported then press secretary Sean Spicer met with Zimmerman and Butowsky about the Seth Rich story at the White House, and asked to be “kept abreast of developments.”
  140. On Friday, Facebook banned the Trump campaign’s data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, and its parent company SCL Group, as well as University of Cambridge psychologist Aleksandr Kogan, and Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies.
  141. Kogan had gained access to the personal information of 270,000 Facebook members after they chose to download his app, “thisisyourdigitallife.”Kogan passed the information on to Cambridge Analytica and Wylie.
  142. Facebook learned of Kogan’s actions in 2015, and demanded the information be destroyed. Cambridge Analytica, Kogan and Wylie certified to Facebook that they had done so. Facebook learned this was not true.
  143. On Saturday, NYT reported a joint examination with The Observer of London found Cambridge Analytica had harvested private information from Facebook of more than 50 million users without their permission.
  144. Wylie, who worked at Cambridge Analytica until 2014 said, “Rules don’t matter for them. For them, this is a war, and it’s all fair,” adding “They want to fight a culture war in America,” and analytics were the arsenal.
  145. Cambridge Analytica was also involved in the 2014 election when the firm secured a $15 million investment from Robert Mercer and wooed Bannon. At that time, the company did not have the data to make its products work.
  146. Facebook downplayed the scope of the leak, and questioned whether any of the data was still out of their control. Of the 50 million hacked, 30 million contained enough information to build psychographic profiles.
  147. Also of note is Cambridge Analytica’s use of non-US employees in US elections, which would be illegal. Mueller has demanded emails of Cambridge Analytica employees who worked for the Trump team.
  148. On Friday, Sessions fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, about 24 hours before he could retire and collect his full pension. His firing stems from an Inspector General investigation which found he leaked information to the media about the Clinton-related case.
  149. McCabe, who had more than two decades of service in the FBI, could lose a portion of his anticipated pension. A spokesperson for McCabe said he learned of his firing from Sessions’ press release.
  150. Sessions fired McCabe just before 10 p.m. Hours earlier, Fox News posted a story that McCabe had been fired. The story was up for 45 minutes before Fox News took it down, claiming the draft was posted by mistake.
  151. Just after midnight, Trump tweeted his support for Sessions’ move, “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI — A great day for Democracy.”
  152. Trump also bashed Comey, tweeting, “Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!”
  153. On Saturday, former CIA director John Brennan responded to Trump, tweeting, “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history.”
  154. On Saturday, CNN reported McCabe wrote memos documenting his conversations with Trump. Those memos have now been turned over to Mueller’s team.
  155. On Friday, Sen. Jeff Flake told CNN the Republican Party “might not deserve to lead” due to its support of Trump. Thursday Flake said, “Never has a party abandoned, fled its principles and deeply held beliefs so quickly.”
  156. Michael Flynn make his first appearance since pleading guilty in the Mueller probe, campaigning for Republican congressional candidate Omar Navarro who is running against Maxine Waters in November.
  157. On Saturday, in a morning interview with the Daily Beast, Trump attorney John Dowd said he hopes Deputy AG Rosenstein will shut down Mueller’s probe into Russia’s election interference.
  158. When asked if he was speaking on behalf of Trump, Dowd answered, “Yes as his counsel.” In a subsequent statement Saturday morning, Dowd backtracked saying he had been “speaking for myself, not the president.”
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On a street sign in New York City, November 2017
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New York City, 2018
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New York City, 2018

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 63: “THIS ONE IS BROKEN”

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 a government shutdown, the first shutdown in history when a single party is in control of the House, Senate, and White House. 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.

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: 

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  1. 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.
  2. 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”.
  3. 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.”
  4. 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.
  5. 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.”
  6. On Saturday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted a meme, “Fake news is at it again!” accusing the Wall Street Journal of misquoting Trump. The Journal quoted Trump as saying, “I probably have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un.”
  7. Late Saturday, the WSJ released the tape of the interview via a tweet. The Journal stated they have reviewed the audio “as well as the transcript provided by an external service, and stand by what we reported.”
  8. On Sunday morning, Trump attacked the WSJ, tweeting, “Obviously I didn’t say that,” and in a second tweet, “and they knew exactly what I said and meant. They just wanted a story. FAKE NEWS!”
  9. On Sunday, the WSJ issued a statement, again refuting Trump and saying the Journal stands by what was reported.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.”
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.”
  36. 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.
  37. 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.”
  38. 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.”
  39. On Monday, Trump attacked Durbin, branding him as “Dicky Durbin” and saying Durbin “misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting.”
  40. 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.
  41. 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.”
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.”
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.”
  52. 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.”
  53. 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.
  54. 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.
  55. The subpoena was issued shortly after Wolff’s book, quoting Bannon, was released. NYT reported the subpoena may be a sign Bannon is not a targetof the Mueller probe since the DOJ rarely allows targets to be subpoenaed.
  56. 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.
  57. 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.”
  58. 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.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. 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.”
  62. 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.
  63. The committee then proposed an alternative date for Bannon to return on January 29. Bannon has yet to agree to that date.
  64. 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.
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
  67. 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.
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. 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.
  71. 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.
  72. 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.
  73. 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.
  74. 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.
  75. 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.
  76. 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,
  77. 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.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.
  80. 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.
  81. 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.
  82. 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.
  83. 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.”
  84. 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.
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. 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.”
  88. 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.
  89. 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.
  90. 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.
  91. 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.
  92. 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.
  93. 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.
  94. 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.
  95. 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.
  96. 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.
  97. 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.
  98. 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.
  99. 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.
  100. 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?”
  101. 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.”
  102. 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.”
  103. 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.”
  104. 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.
  105. 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.
  106. 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.”
  107. 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.
  108. 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.
  109. On Thursday, in lieu of normal editorial page content, the NYT editorial board devoted the page entirely to letters from Trump supporters.
  110. 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.
  111. 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.”
  112. 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.
  113. 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.
  114. 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.
  115. 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.
  116. On Friday, the Trump regime rescinded 2016 guidance from the Obama administration which said defunding Planned Parenthood could be against federal law.
  117. 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.
  118. 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.
  119. 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.”
  120. 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.”
  121. 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%.
  122. 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%.
  123. 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.
  124. 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.
  125. 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.
  126. 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.
  127. 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.
  128. 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.
  129. 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.
  130. 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.
  131. 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.
  132. 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.

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 62: THE SHITHEAD HAS TOLD OVER 2,000 LIES in 355 DAYS…THE USA IS SUFFERING

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. 

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.”
  4. Contradicting Trump regime talking points, Sebastian Gorka said he was told to cooperate with Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff, but said after meeting him in Reince Priebus’s office he got a bad feeling and did not. Steve Bannon was set to meet with Wolff after him.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.”
  7. 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.”
  8. 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.”
  9. 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.
  10. On Sunday, Trump tweeted then deleted a column in the NY Post which he incorrectly said referred to his “enormously consensual presidency.” He then tweeted a corrected form, “consequential presidency.”
  11. Trump also mistakenly linked to the email address of the author of the column, Michael Goodwin, rather than to the article.
  12. 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.”
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. On Tuesday, Bannon stepped down as executive chairman of Breitbart over the controversy sparked by this remarks in the Wolff book. NYT reportedthe departure was forced by his one-time patron, Rebekah Mercer.
  16. 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.”
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. On Monday, Trump renominated 21 judicial nominees, including two rated “not qualified” to be federal judges by the American Bar Association.
  36. 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.
  37. On Monday, Trump nominated Marie Royce, wife of Republican Rep. Ed Royce from CA, to a senior State Department role.
  38. Also on Monday, Rep. Royce said he would retire. Royce became the eighth Republican committee chair to not seek re-election in November 2018.
  39. 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.
  40. Second lady Karen Pence’s chief of staff, Kristan King Nevins, resigned.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.”
  50. 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.
  51. 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.”
  52. Also at the press conference, Trump lauded the delivery of F-52s to Norway. No such plane exists, except in a popular video game.
  53. 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.”
  54. 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.
  55. 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.
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.”
  61. Feinstein also noted, “to my knowledge, there is not a single fact that’s proven to be incorrect” in the dossier.
  62. 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.”
  63. 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.”
  64. 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,”
  65. 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,
  66. 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.
  67. 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.
  68. 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.
  69. Steele ended contact with the FBI after a front-page story at the NYT on October 31, 2016 said the FBI found no conclusive link between Trump and Russia. This was inaccurate reporting — the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation began in July 2016.
  70. 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.”
  71. 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.
  72. 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.
  73. 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.
  74. 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.”
  75. 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.”
  76. On Tuesday, Michael Cohen filed lawsuit in federal court against Fusion GPS and BuzzFeed, claiming the dossier contains “false and defamatory” allegations that harmed his reputation and business interests.
  77. 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.
  78. 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.
  79. The report includes 30 recommendations, and says that the US remainsvulnerable to Russia’s aggressive and sophisticated malign influence operations without unequivocal leadership from Trump.
  80. 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.
  81. 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.
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. 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.
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. 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.
  88. 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.
  89. 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.
  90. 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.
  91. BuzzFeed’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.
  92. 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.
  93. 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.
  94. 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.
  95. 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.
  96. 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.
  97. 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.
  98. 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.
  99. 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.
  100. 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.
  101. 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.
  102. 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.
  103. 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.”
  104. 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.
  105. 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.
  106. 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.
  107. 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.”
  108. On Tuesday, Rep. Brendan Boyle introduced the “Stable Genius Act” which would require presidential candidates to take a mental health exam.
  109. On Wednesday, Trump welcomed the media to his first cabinet meeting of 2018, saying, “Welcome back to the studio.”
  110. 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.”
  111. 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.
  112. 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.
  113. 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!”
  114. Trump’s first tweet appeared around the time of a Fox & Friends segment in which Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano railed against the bill. The on-screen graphic read, “House votes on controversial FISA act today.”
  115. 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.
  116. 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.
  117. 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.
  118. 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.
  119. 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.
  120. 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.
  121. 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?”
  122. 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.
  123. 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.
  124. 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.
  125. 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.”
  126. 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.”
  127. 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.”
  128. 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.
  129. Two of the Republicans senators in the room, Cotton and Perdue, said in a statement they “do not recall” Trump saying those comments specifically.
  130. White supremacist Richard Spencer defended Trump, and neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer celebrated Trump’s comments saying he is “more or less on the same page with us.”
  131. 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.”
  132. 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.”
  133. 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.
  134. 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.”
  135. 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.
  136. 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.
  137. 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.
  138. 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.

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 46: TSAR WARS

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

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Photo I took of a t-shirt through a shop window in Budapest, Hungary. September 2017
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Artist Subdude. London, England. September 2017
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London, England 09/17
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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. The original account of the golf GIF was @Fuctupmind, whose Twitter feed is full of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ tweets.
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. On Wednesday, in an escalating war of words, N. Korea’s foreign minister likened Trump to a “dog barking.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.”
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. On Monday, Trump said he was looking into staging a military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue for July 4th.
  30. On Wednesday, in a speech at a lunch with African leaders, Trump praised the health care of Nambia, a nonexistent African country.
  31. Nicaragua announced it will sign on to the Paris climate accord — leaving only Syria and the US outside it.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. WAPO reported according to a senior administration official, the WH did not approve Price’s travel on chartered planes.
  42. On Friday, WAPO reported the HHS Inspector General is investigating Price’s use of two dozen chartered flights in recent months.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. CNN reported the RNC spent $231k in August to cover Trump’s legal fees, paying personal attorneys Sekulow $131k and Dowd $100k.
  55. The RNC has also payed nearly $200k of Donald Jr.’s legal fees for the Russia probe in August.
  56. 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.
  57. NYT reported Donald Jr. has decided to forego his Secret Service protection, citing he wants more privacy.
  58. 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.
  59. 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.”
  60. 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.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.
  63. 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.
  64. 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.
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
  67. 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.
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. 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.
  71. 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.
  72. 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.
  73. 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.
  74. 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.
  75. 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.
  76. 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.
  77. 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.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.”
  80. 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.
  81. 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.
  82. 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?”
  83. 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.
  84. 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.
  85. 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.
  86. As part of that work, Manafort may leave the country and return to the region in the coming days for the vote.
  87. 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.
  88. 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.
  89. 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.
  90. 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.
  91. 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.
  92. Twitter will meet with the Senate Intel Comm next week relating to the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the US election.
  93. 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.”
  94. 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.
  95. 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.”
  96. 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.
  97. 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.
  98. DHS did not make names of the 21 states public, citing privacy. BuzzFeedreported state officials are outraged, and wanting to know why it took DHS a year to inform them. Sen Warner called the delay “unacceptable.”
  99. 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.
  100. 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.
  101. 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.
  102. The campaign rally turned out to be a 90 minute rant, including Trump again deriding Kim Jong Un, calling him “little Rocket Man.
  103. 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.”
  104. 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!
  105. 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.
  106. 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.
  107. The Trump regime plans to rollback Obama-era limitations on drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional battlefields.

POLITI’KKK’S OF GRAFFITI 42: DISOBEY

Week 41 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

August 26, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-41-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-13247a760fd8

Week 41 is full of content about Trump-Russia, and indications that the Mueller probe is closing in on Trump and his regime. News stories indicate that despite Trump’s public indifference and belittlement of the probe, he is privately consumed by it, and acting in ways which could well be construed as, and lead to charges for, obstruction of justice.

In the two weeks since Charlottesville, our country is consumed in flames of hate, and Trump is fanning those flames. As well, he continues his unimpeded march to authoritarian power, neutralizing the judicial branch with an unethical pardon, and attacking members of his own party in an effort to silence them. So far, the latter is largely working, and as this week comes to a close, remaining checks and balances to save our democracy are eroding, and Trump appears to feel fully in power.

  1. Following the counter-protest march of over 40k in Boston, Trump tweeted the country needs “to heel.” Trump used the misspelled word four times in two consecutive deleted tweets, before correcting it to heal.
  2. Rev. Bernard, pastor of a megachurch in Brooklyn, became the first member of Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board to resign over Charlottesville.
  3. No WH officials were made available for Sunday political talk shows.
  4. On CNN Sunday, Carl Bernstein urged reporters to interview Republicans on or off the record about whether Trump is mentally fit to lead.
  5. A NBC News/Marist poll found Trump’s approval in three key battleground states has eroded: Michigan 36 approve/55 disapprove, Pennsylvania 35/54, and Wisconsin 34/56.
  6. NPR reported some Liberty University graduates are returning their diplomas to protest school President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s ongoing support of Trump, even after Trump’s remarks on Charlottesville.
  7. Former HHS secretaries from both parties urged Republicans to move quickly and stabilize Obamacare as Trump threatened to continue withholding key payments to insurers.
  8. Sunday night, when asked by reporters for his reaction to five sailors injured and 10 missing after the USS John S. McCain collided with a merchant ship, Trump responded, “That’s too bad.”
  9. USA Today reported Secret Service agents have already hit the federally mandated pay caps meant to last the entire year for protecting Trump. Under the Trump regime, an unprecedented 42 people have protection.
  10. Secret Service cited Trump’s frequent weekend trips to his properties, and his family’s extensive business and vacation travel. Secret Service spent $60k on golf carts, revenues which go to the Trump Organization.
  11. Trump disbanded a federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment which helped policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government’s climate analysis into long-term planning.
  12. Since being established in 1990, the National Climate Assessment is supposed to release reports every four years. The next assessment would have been due in 2018.
  13. Trump’s Interior Dept ordered the National Academy of Sciences to halt its study of health risks and harm caused by mountaintop coal mining in Appalachia.
  14. New Yorker reported on the dismantling of HUD under a thoroughly uninformed Sec Carson. There are still no nominees for major parts of HUD, including the Federal Housing Administration and many others.
  15. Carson’s team removed online training materials meant to help homeless shelters provide equal access to transgender people, and pulled back a survey to reduce LGBT homelessness.
  16. Interior’s Inspector General confirmed in a letter it is investigating Sec Zinke’s pressure on Sen Murkowski to vote yes on the Obamacare repeal.
  17. An ABC News/Washington Post poll found 9% of Americans say it’s acceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views. This meshes with the 10% who say they support the alt-right movement.
  18. The Anne Frank Center tweeted in alarm, “1 in 10 adults in U.S. say neo-Nazi views acceptable — 22 million Americans. Evil epidemic of hatred.”
  19. The poll also found that 3 in 10 Trump supporters accept or are indifferent to white supremacists.
  20. Singer Billy Joel wore a Star of David during the encore of his sold-out show in NYC.
  21. Brandeis University was closed and evacuated Wednesday after the school received an email with a bomb threat.
  22. HuffPost reported a spike in anti-Semitism in the two weeks since Charlottesville. ADL provided a list of more than two dozen incidents involving swastikas, broken glass and neo-Nazi propaganda.
  23. A coalition of major rabbinical groups canceled their annual High Holidays call, saying Trump’s “words have given succor to those who advocate anti-Semitism.”
  24. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the US government to reject racial hatred and violence. The statement was released online after Trump’s mixed messages on Charlottesville.
  25. The Girl Scouts’ CEO wrote a letter to families with resources to talk to girls about what they are hearing in the news, and hate and violence, adding lying about what really happened can “undermine her trust.”
  26. Twenty organizations have pulled their charity events from Mar-a-Lago in response to his comments on Charlottesville.
  27. Daniel Kammer, the State Dept Science Envoy, resigned in an open letter citing Trump’s “attacks on core values of the United States.” The first letter of the seven paragraphs spell the word, IMPEACH.
  28. On his radio show, Trump’s nominee for Department of Agriculture Sam Clovis said “LGBT behavior” is a choice, and that legalizing gay marriage could lead to the legalization of pedophilia.
  29. Liz MacKean, the BBC journalist who broke the news of the torture of gay men in Russia, died of a stroke at the age of 52.
  30. Trump signaled he is likely to end DACA, the Obama program which allows young people who came to the US illegally as children to remainhere. As many as 1 million immigrants could be affected.
  31. The DHS announced it will require holders of employment-based visas to be interviewed in order to update their status. More than 100k visa holders could be impacted.
  32. The Brennan Center and Protect Democracy Project filed a lawsuit for info on communication between government agencies and the Election Integrity Comm. The agencies did not respond to a FOIA request.
  33. On Tuesday, the DOJ modified its warrant, dropping its request for IP addresses from DreamHost for an anti-Trump site, disruptj20.org.
  34. On Thursday, a court ordered DreamHost to turn over the data requested. The court asked the DOJ to disclose its method for searching the data to minimizing data on innocent third-party visitors to the site.
  35. In a WAPO op-ed, activist Melissa Byrne described being grabbed, cuffed and questioned, and her banner confiscated, by the Secret Service without having been read her rights at a Starbucks in Trump Tower.
  36. On Monday, Trump delivered his second address to the nation. Reading from the teleprompter he asked the American people to trust him in sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan.
  37. Trump opened the speech with a call for unity. Historian Michael Beschloss noted this was the first time a leader “had to start a speech on war and peace by vowing that he opposed bigotry and prejudice.
  38. Trump’s speech was full of his typical bellicose terms, like “overwhelming force,” but offered little in the way of strategy and substance.
  39. Of note, three generals now seem to have Trump’s ear: Kelly, McMaster and Mattis. As recently as Week 38, Trump had scoffed at adding troops. He also compared Afghanistan to a 21 Club renovation.
  40. There is not yet a confirmed US ambassador to Afghanistan.
  41. 24 hours after his address to the nation, Trump headed to a campaign rally in Phoenix, despite pleas from the Mayor of Phoenix in an op-ed and on air that it was not a good time for Trump to visit.
  42. Despite his calls for unity Monday, Trump delivered a 72-minute dystopian speech in which he repeatedly attacked the media and “others” — again targeting marginalized communities.
  43. Trump referred to the media as the enemy of the American people, saying “They don’t like our country.” After the speech, many in the media expressed concern about their safety.
  44. Trump also threatened to shut down the government in the fall if Congress did not approve funding for his Wall.
  45. Despite his advance promises not to, Trump attacked McCain and Flake, the two senators of Arizona, in his speech without using their names.
  46. Also, despite promising not to do so, Trump insinuated he would pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio, citing the legal system not treating him fairly.
  47. Trump did not mention the accident involving the USS John. S McCain, or the continuing search for missing sailors during his speech.
  48. WAPO reported as Trump ranted and rambled, “hundreds left early.” The room was only partially filled as Trump began to speak.
  49. Police used tear gas to disperse crowds of thousands of protestors after Trump’s speech. Police helicopters circled downtown Phoenix.
  50. In a likely violation of the Hatch Act, Ben Carson appeared on stage in Phoenix, after being introduced as the Secretary of HUD.
  51. NPR fact-checked Trump’s speech, and found numerous false and misleading statements.
  52. Ahead of the rally Tuesday, Trump met with potential Republican challengers to primary Sen Flake in 2018. During the brief meeting, Trump referred to the senator as “the flake.”
  53. After Trump’s Phoenix speech, former director of National Intelligence Clapper told CNN he questioned Trump’s “fitness to be — in this office.” ”
  54. Clapper said understanding the levers of power available to a president, he found the speech “downright scary and disturbing.
  55. Clapper also said Trump could be a threat to national security. He worries about Trump’s access to nuclear codes, noting it a fit of pique, “there’s actually very little to stop him.”
  56. Trump tweeted asking if Clapper “who famously got caught lying to Congress,” would share “his beautiful letter to me?” Clapper said he had handwritten almost identical notes to both candidates for Election Day.
  57. CNN reported Wednesday that the WH was preparing paperwork and talking points for surrogates ahead of Trump pardoning Arpaio.
  58. On Monday, in a later-deleted Instagram post, Mnuchin’s wife, Louise Linton bragged about traveling on a chartered government plane, and about the lavish fashion brands she was wearing.
  59. On Wednesday, CREW requested information on authorization of the chartered airplane. Typically, secretaries fly on commercial flights for domestic travel.
  60. Ethics groups also filed requests to learn if the trip to Fort Knox, KY was planned so Mnuchin and his wife could view the solar eclipse near the path of totality.
  61. On a sudden, unannounced trip to the Middle East, Kushner was snubbed by the Egyptian foreign minister who canceled their meeting without officially citing a reason. The meeting did later take place.
  62. NPR reported Trump’s approval with women is at a historically low 29%. Trump’s approval with men is much higher (43%).
  63. NYT reported on a brewing war between Trump and McConnell, as the two haven’t spoken for weeks. McConnell questioned whether Trump can salvage his presidency.
  64. McConnell also questioned Trump’s understanding of the presidency, and claimed Trump was “entirely unwilling to learn the basics of governing.
  65. NYT also reported on an August 9 call with McConnell, which Trump initiated, Trump brought up healthcare, but was “even more animated” about McConnell’s refusal to protect him from the Russia investigation.
  66. After the NYT story broke, another Republican senator called the reporter to say Trump is “consumed with Russia.
  67. POLITICO reported on more clashes between Trump and Republican senators over Russia. In additional to Trump public admonishments of McConnell, McCain and Flake, Trump also targeted Corker and Tillis.
  68. Trump tried to convince Corker the Russian sanctions bill wasn’t good policy, saying it was unconstitutional and would damage him. Trump berated Tillis for his bi-partisan bill to protect Mueller from being fired.
  69. Including these contacts, WAPO counted seven times so far Trump has attempted to influence actions related to the Russia investigation.
  70. On Tuesday, Glenn Simpson, founder of private research firm Fusion GPS who hired Steele to produce the dossier, testified for 10 hours in front of the Senate Judiciary Comm. He also provided 40k pages of documents.
  71. The Senate Judiciary Comm will vote on releasing the testimony to the public. Rachel Maddow said Simpson’s lawyer has given the okay to release the testimony and documents publicly.
  72. WAPO reported CIA director Pompeo, Trump’s close ally, required the Counterintelligence Mission Center, which investigates possible collusion between Trump and Russia, to report directly to him.
  73. Current and former agent expressed apprehension about conflict of interests. There is “real concern for interference and politicization,” and that Pompeo may bring newly discovered information to the WH.
  74. Pompeo spends more time at the WH than his predecessors. He also defended Trump’s comments on Charlottesville, saying Trump’s condemnation of bigotry was “frankly pretty unambiguous.”
  75. Pompeo has also shown a willingness to handle political assignments for the WH: for example calling news agencies, speaking on condition of anonymity, at the WH’s behest to dispute a NYT article on Trump-Russia.
  76. In an internal CIA memo released under the FOIA, former CIA director Brennan wrote some in Congress don’t get the “gravity” of Russia election meddling.
  77. Kushner Cos., the real estate company 0f Kushner’s family, switched to a public relations firms with crisis management expertise.
  78. NYT reported on Rinat Akhmetshin, one of the attendees of the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower, and his extensive and deep ties to Russian intelligence, government and oligarchs.
  79. Akhmetshin has worked on behalf of several Russian oligarchs to hack adversaries’ emails and documents in order to buffer their case. Mueller is interested in why Akhmetshin attended the June 9 meeting.
  80. CNN reported Congressional investigators unearthed an email from Rick Dearborn, a top campaign aide who is now Trump’s deputy chief of staff, about an individual seeking to connect top Trump officials with Putin.
  81. WSJ reported Mueller is looking into Flynn’s role in seeking Hillary’s emails from Russian hackers, along with now deceased GOP operative Peter W. Smith.
  82. Investigators have examined intel reports which detail Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from Hillary’s server, and then transmit them to Flynn via an intermediary.
  83. NBC reported Mueller issued the first grand jury subpoenas to executives who worked on an international campaign organized by Manafort, a significant step in the inquiry which also focuses on Trump and Kushner.
  84. Mueller’s team is examining lobbying done by Manafort for a Russia-backed Ukrainian political party from 2012–2014. According to recent financial disclosures, Manafort was paid $17mm between 2013 and 2014.
  85. USA Today reported on a Russian propaganda Twitter network aimed at American audiences which consistently spreads links from alt-right media including Breitbart, True Pundit and Gateway Pundit.
  86. Roger Stone told TMZ if Trump is impeached the country would break out into civil war, saying “You will have a spasm of violence in this country, and insurrection, like you’ve never seen.”
  87. NYT reported on Trump Hotel DC, the now highly profitable meeting place for Trump family members and surrogates, lobbyists and journalist. Trump continues to profit from the hotel operations.
  88. The hotel is also described as a “safe zone for Trump supporters.Richard Spencer stayed at Trump Hotel DC, and met with white nationalist Evan McClare, as he planned the Charlottesville rally.
  89. WAPO fact checker reported Trump’s list of false and misleading claims had topped 1,000 items early in the week. By week’s end, the list approached 1,100 items, one of the busiest weeks of lying yet.
  90. After Icahn resigned in Week 40 ahead of a story on his influencing regulations to his financial benefit, the Trump regime stated unlike a government employee, Icahn had “no official role or duties.
  91. Icahn financially benefitted from his 82% stake in CVR Energy. The company had accumulated a large short position in biofuels blending credits, called RINs, the price of which fell when Icahn’s proposal on the biofuels regulation was reported in February, netting him a huge return.
  92. On Friday, Trump attacked another Republican, saying Corker is constantly asking if he should run in 2018, and “Tennessee not happy!” Corker had questioned Trump’s fitness to serve in Week 40.
  93. In an interview with FT, Cohn was openly critical of Trump’s Charlottesville response, saying Trump “must do better” in condemning neo-Nazi and white supremacists.”
  94. Fed Chair Yellen spoke out openly against the Trump regime’s efforts to roll back banking regulations enacted after the 2008 financial crisis, saying these regulations have made the banking system safer.
  95. Changing course, Bloomberg reported the WH no longer plans to work with Congress to produce a joint tax plan, instead relying on the House and Senate to hash it out. Trump said he will rally the public instead.
  96. The WH rapid response director, Andy Hemming is leaving. Hemming had worked from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. every weekday blasting out stories favorable to the Trump regime.
  97. The RNC passed a resolution to condemn neo-Nazis, the KKK and white supremacists, despite pushback from several Republican members. The resolution did not, however, mention Trump.
  98. A Quinnipiac poll found that 62% of Americans believe Trump is dividing the country.
  99. As Trump left the WH Friday afternoon, a reporter asked, “do you have a message for the people of Texas?” Trump responded, “Good luck to everybody.”
  100. Hours before Hurricane Harvey, thought to be the worst hurricane in 12 years, hit landfall in Texas, with the country anxiously watching, Trump issued a directive and a pardon.
  101. Late Friday, Trump signed a directive that precludes transgender individuals from joining the military. Mattis has six months to develop a plan to implement the order, and discretion over those already serving.
  102. Trump’s directive also bans DoD from paying for medical treatment regimens for transgender individuals currently serving in the military.
  103. Late Friday, Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an elected official who defied a federal court’s order to stop violating people’s constitutional rights. Arpaio had been found in contempt of court in his ongoing case.
  104. The NYT Editorial Board had noted with a pardon of Arpaio, Trump would show “his contempt for the American court system,” and also send a “message to other officials that they may flout court orders also.”
  105. Questions arose about whether Trump’s pardon of Arpaio was testing the waters and sending a signal to those under investigation by Mueller.
  106. Late Friday, Trump adviser Gorka left his post as deputy assistant in the WH. In a letter, Gorka said he resigned. Trump aides said he was fired.
  107. Shortly after 11 pm EST, Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm. The National Hurricane Center said it expects “catastrophic and life-threatening” flash flooding and dump 15–30 inches of rain.
  108. The Trump regime imposed sanctions on Venezuela; however, Citgo was exempted. As cited in Week 25, Citgo donated $500k to Trump’s inauguration, and that money may have come indirectly from Russia.

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Sagacious street artist Plastic Jesus in Los Angeles, CA – August 2017

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 39: INCOMPETENT & UNWORTHY HE IS

Week 38 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

August 5, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-38-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-4730486b719a

This week, as his popularity hit new lows, Trump and his regime’s white nationalist push became more conspicuous and aggressive. Trump continues to irreverently lie — one such false statement on Donald Jr.’s June 9 meeting could directly implicate him in covering up the Russia scandal, which entered a new phase as Mueller impaneled a grand jury in Washington DC.

As a continuation of a theme over the past two weeks, the Republicans are finally pushing back on Trump, as Congress took steps to keep him in check. Trump seems prepared to fight Congress, along with battles he is already waging against the judicial branch and the media.

  1. On a Fox News interview, Conway advised WH staffers not to address Trump by his first name, and to treat him with “deference and humility.”
  2. On his Sunday show, Fareed Zakaria cautioned with Trump in power, the US faces something worse than being feared or derided — the US is “becoming irrelevant.”
  3. On Sunday, Putin ordered the US diplomatic missions in Russia to reduce their staff by 755 personnel, the single largest forced reduction, comparable only to the months after the Communist revolution in 1917.
  4. The Trump regime had no response to Putin’s order on Sunday, or for the entire week.
  5. ProPublica reported Customs and Border Protection is set to jumpstart Trump’s wall in a Texas national wildlife refuge. The agency will use money allotted by Congress for other purposes.
  6. A spokesperson for Pruitt’s EPA told WAPO the agency will make changes to the EPA Museum. For example, the exhibit on Obama’s Clean Power Plan will be removed, and coal may be added.
  7. CBN News reported nearly all of Trump’s cabinet officials attend Bible lessons with a pastor who compares Trump to biblical heroes.
  8. In a statement released Tuesday, 56 retired generals and admirals came out against Trump’s transgender military ban, arguing it would be disruptive and degrade military readiness.
  9. CBC News reported Montreal’s Olympic Stadium is being used to house a surge in asylum seekers crossing from the US. More than 1k crossed from the US into Quebec in July alone.
  10. The NAACP issued its first-ever travel advisory for a state. NAACP cited Missouri legislation making discrimination cases harder to win, recent racist incidents, and racial disparities in traffic enforcement.
  11. Kobach appealed an order requiring him to answer question under oathabout two documents containing plans for changes to US election law.
  12. A top EPA official, Elizabeth Sutherland, resigned after 30 years at the agency. In a scathing letter, she wrote, “The environmental field is suffering from the temporary triumph of myth over truth.”
  13. The Trump regime will redirect resources of the DOJ toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies, which the regime claim discriminate against white applicants.
  14. ProPublica reported Candice Jackson, DeVos’s pick to head the Civil Rights Office, said she faced discrimination for being white while at Stanford because of a help section reserved for minority students.
  15. WAPO reported Lizandro Claros Saravia, a standout soccer player who had a scholarship to play college soccer, was deported to El Salvador along with his brother after going to ICE to report he got into college.
  16. Documents released to the Daily Beast under the FOIA show high-level DHS officials ordered staff to stiff-arm members of Congress and treat lawyers with deep suspicion in the first hours of Trump’s Muslim Ban.
  17. In an ICE press release, the agency admitted in Kelly’s final sweep as DHS head, designed to catch Central Americans who had come to the US as family unit, 70% of those captured were not people being targeted.
  18. Tillerson’s State Dept is considering eliminating the promotion of democracy from its mission statement.
  19. Amateur hackers at the DefCon conference in Las Vegas were able to exploit vulnerabilities in five voting machine types within 24 hours.
  20. POLITICO reported that by firing of Priebus, Trump severed one of his few remaining ties to the Republican Party.
  21. In a bombshell story, WAPO reported Trump dictated Donald Jr.’s misleading statement claiming Russian adoption was the rationale for the June 9 meeting, while flying back from the G20.
  22. While at the G20, the NYT asked for comment on their pending story. Ivanka, Trump and Kushner met on the sidelines with advisers, who recommended telling the truth. Trump disregarded all advice.
  23. WAPO further reported Kushner’s lawyers first learned about the June 9 email trail while researching their response to Congressional investigators weeks prior. Advisers and lawyers for Trump, Donald Jr. and Kushner had mapped out a strategy for disclosing the information.
  24. WAPO further reported that with this misleading statement, Trump is now directly implicated in trying to cover up Russia scandal.
  25. The day after reports that Trump crafted Donald Jr.’s statement, CBS reported Congressional investigators requested Donald Jr.’s phone records around the time of the June 9 meeting.
  26. Trump ally former Sheriff Joe Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt of court for defying a court order to stop detaining suspected undocumented immigrants.
  27. Phoenix New Times reported Arpaio was a no-show for his pre-sentencing hearing on Thursday.
  28. Ahead of his first cabinet meeting with Kelly as chief of staff, Trump referred to the Cabinet Room as a “board room.
  29. Sec of Interior Zinke told GQ in an interview that Rick Perry was didn’t understand what his position is about, “I think he thought his department was more about energy than…science. Mostly, it’s science.”
  30. WAPO reported lobbyists are taking credit in the Trump era for writing bills to protect their industry that are passed in Congress with minimal input from the public, and little of no discussion in Congress.
  31. NYT reported Lewandowski has a new “advisory” business, which again is testing the ethical boundaries of Trump giving significant access and power to friends and loyalists not on the government payroll.
  32. WAPO reported Secret Service vacated its command post inside Trump Tower following a dispute over terms of the lease for the space. The post has been relocated to a trailer on the sidewalk.
  33. Six months after leaving office, Pence handed over state-related emailstransmitted from his personal AOL account. Some requests for Pence’s emails are more than a year old.
  34. Pence’s attorney, also a top fundraiser for Trump and Pence, determined which emails to release, raising concerns from watchdog groups.
  35. A US Court of Appeals ruled that 17 states and DC could pursue the Trump regime for their efforts to sabotage Obamacare.
  36. Ivanka said, “We are committed to supporting the American worker,” as 100% of her companies’ goods are manufactured overseas, and the Trump Organization and Eric’s winery seek to bring in foreign workers.
  37. WSJ reported the US attorney issued subpoenas to Kushner Cos. Employees and Kushner family members have allegedly been offering green cards in exchange for $500k investments in their properties.
  38. Kelly asserted his authority as chief of staff on Monday, firing Scaramucci immediately.
  39. Kelly’s first priority will be to gain control of the information that reaches Trump, with a goal of cutting out backchannels and bad information.
  40. Kelly reportedly called Sessions to tell him his job is safe.
  41. CNN reported Kelly was so upset about the handling of Comey’s firing, Kelly called Comey afterward and said he was considering resigning.
  42. On Tuesday, bowing to criticism on transparency, Tillerson held his first press briefing, saying he is not “very happy” with Congress’ vote to sanction Russia.
  43. Tillerson acknowledged the understaffed State Dept: 22 of 24 assistant secretary slots are either unfilled or staffed by Obama holdovers.
  44. On Tuesday, Greg Andres, a former DOJ official, became the 16th member of Mueller’s team. Andres has vast experience with white-collar crime, including fraud and illegal foreign bribery.
  45. On Tuesday, a story on Golf.com recounted a scene at Trump’s Bedminster golf club, in which he tells members the reason he stays away from Washington is because the White House is a “real dump.
  46. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “I love the White House, one of the most beautiful buildings (homes) I have ever seen,” and referred to Golf.com as “Fake News.”
  47. On Thursday, Golf.com responded with a podcast about the story, saying at least 8 people heard Trump call the WH a dump.
  48. At a tense July 19 meeting with generals, Trump complained about the options in Afghanistan, saying, “We are losing.” Trump also compared US efforts to the renovation of the 21 Club, infuriating the generals.
  49. Trump complained the US wasn’t getting a piece of Afghan’s mineral wealth, and said he was considering firing Gen. Nicholson.
  50. As Kelly established an organizational structure, McMaster fired two Bannon loyalists from the NSC: Rich Higgins and Ezra Cohen-Watnick.
  51. As the turf battle heated up between McMaster and Bannon, rumors circulated that Trump may send McMaster off to Afghanistan to replace Nicholson.
  52. On Thursday, McMaster cleared Susan Rice and said she will keep her top-secret security clearance. Circa reported Trump was not aware of McMaster’s decision.
  53. Conservative media turned on McMaster, calling him a “sycophant” and “deeply hostile to Israel and Trump.” A new app that tracks Russian troll activity also found “firemcmaster” as the most tweeted item.
  54. NPR reported on a lawsuit that alleges Fox News and Ed Butowsky, a wealthy Trump supporter, with the knowledge of the WH, created a fake story about murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich leaking DNC emails to WikiLeaks to help Trump deflect from Russian involvement.
  55. The story started May 10, the day after the Comey firing. A few days later, Butowsky texted Wheeler, the expert suing for being inaccurately cited in the story, that Trump “wants the article out immediately.”
  56. ABC reported Spicer met with two Fox News contributors about the Seth Rich story at the WH, and asked to be “kept abreast of developments.”
  57. Yahoo reported the lawyer who is suing Fox News on behalf of Wheeler will seek to depose Trump and Spicer.
  58. Reporter Andrew Feinberg, who worked at Sputnik, said he was pushed to cover the Seth Rich story: “It’s really telling that the White House is pushing the same narrative as a state-run Russian propaganda outlet.”
  59. Newsweek reported Russia is using LinkedIn to target critics by damaging their reputations and chances for employment, and possible exposing them to physical harm beyond social media.
  60. On Wednesday, flanked by senators Cotton and Perdue, Trump introduced a bill to slash immigration levels in half over the next decade.
  61. Trump said the bill, named the RAISE Act, will favor green card applicants who speak English, financially support themselves, and contribute to the economy.
  62. AP fact checked Trump’s speech and found it was full of false statements.
  63. The bill was sharply rebuked by Democrats and Republicans. Catholic Bishops issued a strong statement against RAISE, saying it will weaken family bonds and impact ability to respond to those in crisis.
  64. At a contentious press briefing after the RAISE Act announcement, Stephen Miller said the 1883 “huddled masses” poem inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty doesn’t matter since it was “added later.
  65. Miller also acted aggressively towards a NYT and CNN reporters. Miller said CNN’s Jim Acosta, son of Cuban immigrants who did not speak English, had a “Cosmopolitan bias.
  66. ‘Cosmopolitan’ is an anti-Semitic term used by 20th century authoritarian regimes.
  67. The Anne Frank Center tweeted that Nazis found Anne Frank on August 4, 1944, after her family was denied entrance to the US in 1941, for “Reasons refugees hear now.
  68. Trump told the WSJ the head of the boy scouts called him to say his jamboree speech was “the greatest speech that was ever made to them.” The Boy Scouts denied any call from national leadership was made.
  69. Trump also told the WSJ that Mexican president Peña Nieto called him and told him fewer people were crossing the border. This is also a lie.
  70. WH press secretary Sanders revised Trump’s statements to say an individual Boy Scout leader called Trump, and the statement from Peña Nieto took place in a conversation at the G20.
  71. On Wednesday Trump signed the Russia sanctions bill behind closed doors and with no press coverage. Trump criticized Congress, but said nothing of Russia interference or the 755 US embassy members removed.
  72. In a statement, Trump called the measure “significantly flawed.” Trump also said it “encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate,” adding, “I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars.”
  73. On Thursday, Trump again attacked Congress, tweeting, “Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low,” and you can thank “the same people that can’t even give us HCare!”
  74. McCain responded, “You can thank Putin for attacking our democracy, invading neighbors & threatening our allies” for the dangerous low.
  75. Russia PM Medvedev said the Trump regime “has demonstrated full impotence.” He also tweeted the Trump regime has shown its “total weakness” in handing power to Congress “in the most humiliating way.”
  76. On Wednesday, Trump approval dropped to new lows: Rasmussen (38 approve), Gallup (36–60) and Quinnipiac (33–61). Trump used to cite Rasmussen as his favorite when his approval there reached high 50s.
  77. Quinnipiac also found American voters say 54–26 that they are embarrassed to have Trump as a leader.
  78. On Thursday, two bipartisan pairs of senators (Graham/Booker, Tillis/Coons) released legislation to block Trump from firing Mueller without good reason.
  79. Buzzfeed reported the RNC has instructed staff not to delete or modify any documents related to last year’s campaign, given “the potentially expansive scope of the inquiries and investigations.”
  80. WSJ reported Mueller impaneled a grand jury in Washington to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, a sign his inquiry is growing in intensity. Trump’s special counsel Cobb, was not aware.
  81. A grand jury is already impaneled in Alexandria, VA to investigate Flynn. The second grand jury and recent hires shows the investigation has entered a new phase. The location gives Mueller’s team easy proximity.
  82. Reuters reported grand jury subpoenas have been issued in connection to the June 9 meeting between Donald Jr., Veselnitskaya and others.
  83. On Thursday, Trump held a campaign rally in WV in which he called the Russia investigation a “hoax,” and presided over cheers of “Lock her up!”as he called for an investigation into Hillary’s deleted emails.
  84. Also of note at the rally, the supporters standing behind Trump as he spoke, a group typically carefully selected by staffers, was 100% white.
  85. As the Senate adjourned for the summer, WAPO reported this is a historically unproductive period of governance as Republicans had no major legislative achievements despite controlling Congress and the WH.
  86. The Senate unanimously agreed to a “pro forma” sessions before leaving for break, meaning Trump cannot make recess appointments. Murkowski, attacked by Trump in Week 37, did the wrap-up.
  87. The Interior Dept’s Office of the Inspector General launched a preliminary investigation of Zinke’s threats to the Alaska senators in an apparent effort to sway Murkowski to vote for the Obamacare repeal.
  88. NBC reported SCL Group, a private British behavioral research company related to Cambridge Analytica, was awarded several contracts by the State Dept.
  89. On their website, SCL Group advertised “our methodology has been approved by” with the State Dept and NATO logos. After NBC’s report, NATO and the State Dept asked that their logos be removed.
  90. AP reported Flynn will file an amended public financial filing to show he entered into a consulting agreement with SCL Group, a subsidiary of Cambridge Analytica.
  91. Cambridge Analytica is funded by Trump ally the Mercers, and per Week 26 is under investigation for possible interference in both Brexit and the 2016 US election.
  92. Flynn’s amended filing will also include $28k from the Trump transition team, and $5k as a consultant for an aborted Middle East nuclear power deal. Per Week 32, that Middle East deal was a venture with Russia.
  93. CNN reported that one year into the FBI’s Russia investigation, now headed by Mueller, the probe has expanded to focus on possible financial crimes, some of which are not connected to the 2016 elections.
  94. Investigators are looking into whether financial laws were broken, and whether Trump dealings could put members of the regime in a compromising position with Russia.
  95. Further, the FBI noticed a spate of curious communications between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence in the summer of 2016,including contact with Manafort on information damaging to Hillary.
  96. CNN also reported Page has been under a FISA warrant since 2014.
  97. VOX reported that as many as 10 or more senior intelligence officials, including Comey and McCabe, are likely to be interviewed as part of Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation.
  98. WAPO released the transcripts of Trump’s phone calls with Mexican President Peña Nieto and Australian PM Turnbull during Trump’s first week in office.
  99. When Peña Nieto said Mexico would not pay for the wall, Trump responded, “You cannot say that to the press,” acknowledging talk about the wall was more about image management than economic policy.
  100. Trump told Peña Nieto he won New Hampshire (a lie) because the state is “a drug-infested den.”
  101. Despite Trump claiming early on that reports of him berating Turnbull on the call were “fake news,” the transcript does confirm this. Trump told Turnbull he had a more pleasant call earlier with Putin.
  102. Trump balked at taking refugees from Australia as required in a deal struck by Obama, saying he hates taking these people, and they could “become the Boston bomber in five years.”
  103. As Trump departed for a three-week vacation at this golf course in Bedminster, GQ labelled him “the laziest president in American history.
  104. Likewise, the cover of Newsweek referred to Trump as “Lazy Boy” and pictures him a chair watching television and eating junk food. The accompanying article refers to him as “America’s boy king.
  105. Staffers of Republicans on the House Intel Comm traveled to London to track down Steele, author of the dossier. POLITICO reported growing tensions as Democrats on the House Intel Comm, Sen Intel Comm members, and Mueller were not notified.
  106. In a press conference Friday, Sessions threatened the DOJ may prosecute journalists over suspected leaks. Sessions also said he is reviewing the DOJ’s policies affecting media subpoenas.
  107. NYT reported Mueller’s special counsel made its first formal request to the WH to hand over documents. Mueller seeks information on the financial dealing of Flynn related his company’s work for Turkey.
  108. Flynn was paid $530k. Investigators want to know if the Turkish government was behind the payments, and if Flynn Intel Group made kickbacks to Ekim Alptekin, for concealing the source of the money.
  109. Flynn’s now third version of financial disclosure forms list $1.8mm in income, $400k more than in his prior forms.
  110. Failing to register as a foreign agent is a felony, and trying to hide to source of money by routing it through a private company, and using kickbacks to a middle man, could lead to criminal charges.

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