POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 74: DOUCHES & DUNCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 64: WAKE UP

*Pics at bottom of the list*

Week 63 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

January 27, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-63-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-d282dcba29d9

The fabric of our country is changing at an alarming pace, although in the chaos, related news is garnering little media coverage or attention. Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is becoming increasingly active and emboldened, using Gestapo-type tactics to target immigrants living lawfully in our country, as Trump and his regime continue to openly target and disparage marginalized communities.

This week a bombshell story revealed Trump tried to fire Robert Mueller in June 2017, and may still be considering this drastic measure as the Trump-Russia and obstruction of justice probe enters a more robust phase. Trump, his Republican allies, and conservative media continue to ramp up attacks on our American institutions and individuals whose testimony could hurt him.

  1. After the government shut down, the White House changed the outgoing message on the comment line: “Unfortunately, we cannot answer your call today, because Congressional Democrats are holding government funding…”
  2. On Sunday, while visiting troops in the Middle East, Vice President Pence laid blame for the government shutdown on Democrats, saying Democrats “had decided to play politics with military pay,” and telling troops, “you deserve better.”
  3. On Sunday, Trump called for Republicans to trigger the nuclear option if the stalemate continues, tweeting “Republicans are fighting for our Military and Safety at the Border. The Dems just want illegal immigrants.”
  4. Sen. Tom Cotton sent “cease-and-desist” letters to his own constituents, ordering them not to contact him. A spokesperson for Cotton’s office told Snopes such letters are issued “under extreme circumstances.”
  5. On Monday, White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley referred to Sens. Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin’s immigration plan as “amnesty,” and slammed them as “dishonest” in their presentation of the plan to Trump.
  6. The Trump campaign’s YouTube channel released “Complicit,” a racist, disturbing ad which claimed Democrats who stop Trump’s immigration plan are complicit in murders committed by illegal immigrants.
  7. Trump’s attempt to pin blame on Democrats was aided by Russian bots: tracking website Alliance for Securing Democracy found #SchumerShutdown was most tweeted hashtag by Russian bots.
  8. Daily Beast reported that a document released by the Trump regime which stated, “‘An analysis conducted by DHS’ concluded that 73% of terrorists were ‘foreign-born,’” was in fact not conducted by the DHS or true.
  9. The Washington Post reported Trump shifted his position on immigration. At the meeting with lawmakers in Week 61, after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen handed out a four-page memo, Trump said he did not agree. Sen. Chuck Schumer called it “negotiating with Jell-o.”
  10. On Sunday, Sen. Graham renewed his attack on the White House’s handling of immigration, saying nothing is going to get done with Stephen Miller leading negotiations, adding “He’s been an outlier for years.”
  11. Sunday night, in a statement the White House fired back saying Graham “chooses to support legislation that sides with people in this country illegally and unlawfully,” and that Graham has “been an outlier for years.”
  12. The Wall Street Journal reported the Trump regime inserted a provision in the House spending bill that allows them to spend on intelligence activities not authorized by Congress — sidestepping a longstanding law on notification.
  13. Also snuck into the spending bill were $31 billion in tax cuts, including a delay in implementing three ObamaCare taxes designed to offset the cost of expanding insurance coverage to low- and middle-income Americans.
  14. On Monday the government shutdown was ended. Tuesday, Sen. Schumer said funding for Trump’s wall was off the table, to which Trump tweeted, “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there is no Wall, there is no DACA.”
  15. On Friday, Trump continued to taunt Schumer on the flight back from Davos, tweeting “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer took such a beating over the shutdown that he is unable to act on immigration!”
  16. An ABC News/WaPo poll found Trump’s one-year approval rating at just 36%, with approval among women voters down to 29%. Also, 55% of women voters doubt Trump’s mental stability.
  17. ICE arrested and detained Lukasz Niec, a Polish doctor who came to the US at age 5, and is a respected doctor at Kalamazoo’s Bronson Methodist Hospital, just after he dropped his 12 year-old daughter off at school.
  18. WaPo reported ICE has detained or deported several prominent immigrant activists across the country, prompting accusations that the Trump regime is targeting political opponents.
  19. Immigrant activists already targeted include Maru Mora Villalpando in Washington, Eliseo Jurado in Colorado, and Jean Montrevil and Ravi Ragbir in New York. Villalpando said she has no criminal record, proof ICE is targeting activists.
  20. WPIX 11 reported two New Jersey dads, Gunawan Liem and Roby Sanger, were arrested by ICE as they dropped off their kids at school. A third manmanaged to escape and took shelter at the Reformed Church.
  21. Reverend Kaper-Dale said, “We had one night when 35 dads were taken in one night from Avenel, New Jersey, from the same apartment complex. I had 60 kids become orphans that night or become fatherless.”
  22. The Verge reported ICE has gained agency-wide access to a nationwide license plate recognition database. The source of the data is Vigilant Solutions, which has a database of more than 2 billion license plate photos.
  23. ICE will be able to query the database to track license plates’ movements over the past five years, and will get email alerts when a new record of a particular plate is found — raising significant privacy concerns.
  24. The Trump regime requested to add a citizenship question in the 2020 Census, potentially shifting more power to rural America. Advocates for the Hispanic community say this step is designed to suppress participation.
  25. On Wednesday, a prominent group of mayors gathered in DC for a mayor conference, canceled their meeting with Trump, citing the regime again threatening to withhold funding from nearly two dozen sanctuary cities.
  26. On Monday, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled the state’s congressional map “clearly, plainly and palpably” violated the state constitution, and blocked its use for the 2018 midterms.
  27. Puerto Rico’s governor said he would move to privatize the island’s public power company, citing slow progress. Four months after Hurricane Maria, nearly 30% of Puerto Ricans are still without power.
  28. A poll commissioned by GLAAD showed for the first time since the survey began in 2014, non-LGBT Americans said they are less comfortable with their LGBTQ neighbors. LGBTQ respondents reporting they experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender jumped 11%.
  29. CBS Atlanta reported a 19 year-old Michigan man was arrested by the FBI after making a series of calls threatening to come to Atlanta and commit mass murder at CNN headquarters. He also made derogatory comments about blacks and Muslims in the calls. He was released on bond.
  30. WaPo reported Brandon Griesemer, the man accused of threatening to attack CNN declared in high school that he identified with Hitler, and according to a classmate, said the “the Holocaust was exaggerated.”
  31. According to an FBI agent affidavit, Griesemer made 22 phone call to CNN in a span of two days earlier this month, four of which included threats. In one call he said, “Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down.”
  32. On Wednesday, in a speech about truth, Pope Francis said popularizing of the term ‘fake news,’ is a sign of “intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes, and leads only to the spread of arrogance and hatred.”
  33. Pope Francis compared lies to the snake in the Garden of Eden, and asked people to discern and seek out the truth, saying “even a seemingly slight distortion of the truth can have dangerous effects.”
  34. On Monday, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed an executive order requiring internet service providers with state contracts to abide by net neutrality, becoming the first state to take such action after the FCC repeal.
  35. On Monday, Secretary Nielsen said in a notice published in the Federal Register that she was waiving dozens of environmental regulations to accelerate construction on part of Trump’s proposed Wall in New Mexico.
  36. For the first time in 50 years, the Bureau of Land Management is considering culling wild horses, putting the lives of tens of thousands of animals at stake. Over 75,000 wild horses live on public lands.
  37. WaPo reported Trump’s Interior Department canceled an Obama-era review of how a ban on mining development of 234,000 acres in Minnesota would affect a neighboring wilderness, opening the area up to mining companies again.
  38. Shortly after taking office, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke met with Andrónico Luksic, who rents a DC home to Ivanka and Jared Kushner. His family owns a Chilean mining company whose expired lease in Minnesota wilderness is now renewed.
  39. On Monday, Trump dealt a huge blow to the renewable energy industry, approving duties of as much as 30% on imported solar equipment, a move that threatens an industry that relies on 80% of parts from abroad.
  40. Trump imposed tariffs of 20–50% on washing machines imported from close US ally, South Korea. In response, LG Electronics told US retailers they will raise prices US consumers pay by approximately $50.
  41. Axios reported Attorney General Jeff Sessions continually urged FBI director Christopher Wray to make a “fresh start” with his core team and fire deputy director Andrew McCabe. Sessions also urged Wray to dismiss top FBI’s lawyer James Baker, who was reassigned in December.
  42. The pressure by Sessions came at the urging of Trump. Axios also reportedWray threatened to resign if McCabe was removed. Reportedly after that threat, attorney Don McGahn told Sessions it was not worth losing Wray.
  43. On Tuesday, Wray announced he would bring in a new chief of staff — replacing James Rybicki, who also served as Jim Comey’s chief of staff.
  44. Rachel Maddow reported that of the six FBI witnesses to Comey’s interaction with Trump — Comey plus the five he contemporaneously informed — four have been fired, reassigned, or sidelined.
  45. The four — Comey, McCabe, Baker, and Rybicki — have also become the subject of attacks by Trump, his Republican allies, and conservative media.
  46. On Tuesday, Trump denied that Wray had threatened to resign after being pressured by Sessions to fire McCabe, saying “He didn’t at all. He did not even a little bit. Nope. And he’s gonna do a good job.”
  47. WaPo reported shortly after Comey was fired, Trump summoned acting FBI director McCabe to the Oval Office and asked him who he voted in the 2016 election. McCabe said he didn’t vote.
  48. Trump also berated McCabe for his wife’s campaign taking donations from a friend of Hillary Clinton in 2015. McCabe, who has worked at the FBI for two decades, found the conversation “disturbing.”
  49. WaPo identified at least six members of Russia’s elite who attended Trump’s inauguration, some with close access. Their presence drew the attention of counterintelligence officials at the FBI.
  50. Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who attended Donald Jr.’s June 9 meeting, was at both the inauguration and a black-tie inaugural partyhosted by the campaign committee of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.
  51. Various businessman attended with hopes of a thaw in the relationship between the two countries. Maria Butina, assistant to Alexander Torshin, who interacted with the Trump campaign in 2016, also attended.
  52. George Papadopoulos’ fiancée, Simona Mangiante said “I believe history will remember him like John Dean,” adding he is on the right side of history and was “the first one to break a hole on all of this.”
  53. On Tuesday, CNN reported Rick Gates has quietly added a prominent white-collar attorney, Tom Green, to his defense team, possibly signaling Gates may be in talks with Mueller’s team about cooperating.
  54. An errant court filing of a one-page memo by Paul Manafort’s lawyerssuggested federal investigators had an informant inside Manafort’s consulting firm, who provided information on his financial dealings.
  55. On Tuesday, the New York Times reported Sessions was questioned for several hours last week in the Mueller probe. Sessions is a key witness on the campaign’s possible ties to Russia and whether Trump obstructed the investigation.
  56. Sessions may be questioned about his role as head of the campaign’s foreign policy team, including overseeing Papadopoulos, his role in developing the position towards Russia, and his meetings with Sergey Kislyak.
  57. NBC News reported the FBI interviewed Michael Flynn on January 24, two days after he was sworn in as National Security Adviser. Flynn did not have a lawyer present, and did not report the meeting that day to the NSC or anyone in the Trump regime.
  58. McCabe, then deputy FBI director, called Flynn directly set up the meeting. It appears the purpose of the meeting was not disclosed to Flynn, prior. Peter Strzok conducted the interview of Flynn.
  59. On January 26, Sally Yates told McGahn about Flynn’s FBI interview. Yates also shared Flynn had lied to Pence and other top regime members about his meeting with Kislyak, and therefore could be blackmailed by Russia.
  60. Flynn stayed on until February 13, when it became public he had lied to Pence about his meeting with Kislyak. The next day, Trump summoned Comey to the White House and asked him to drop his investigation.
  61. Mueller’s team has interviewed Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Mike Rogers, director of the NSA, Comey, CIA director Mike Pompeo and numerous other members of Trump’s campaign and White House inner-circle by the end of 2017.
  62. Flynn’s tenure and firing by Trump are topics of the interviews. Reportedly, Pompeo, Coats, and Rogers are “peripheral witnesses” to the Comey firing. Sessions however played a key role in the Comey firing.
  63. Axios reported Mueller has spoken to George Nader, a Bannon associate who claims to have Middle East connections, at least twice. Nader often visited the White House in the regime’s early months, and also met with Kushner.
  64. WaPo reported Mueller’s team is looking to interview Trump in the coming weeks about the departures of Flynn and Comey, and whether he and his regime are seeking to obstruct of blunt the special counsel probe.
  65. Mueller is also interested in Trump’s efforts to remove Sessions as Attorney General or pressuring him to quit, and examining whether it is part of a “pattern” of behavior by Trump.
  66. Trump’s team is hoping for a hybrid testimony of some in-person and others in written statements. Trump insider Roger Stone has warned him that an in-person interview would be a “suicide mission.”
  67. On Wednesday, before departing for Davos, Trump told members of the media he is “looking forward” to being interviewed by Mueller, saying “I would love to do it.” He also said he would do the interview under oath.
  68. On Thursday, Trump attorney John Dowd tried to walk back Trump’s comments, telling CNN that he is the one who will decide if Trump talks to Mueller, and adding “I have not made any decision yet.”
  69. WSJ reported Trump’s legal team has been studying a 1997 federal court ruling that could serve as the basis for delaying, limiting, or avoidingTrump having to be interviewed by Mueller.
  70. Legal scholars said the 1997 case could be invoked to give Trump more favorable interview terms. Trump continues to publicly deny his campaign colluded with Russia or that he obstructed justice when he fired Comey.
  71. On Thursday, Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant reported Dutch intelligence agency AIVD, the equivalent of our CIA, provided US intelligence with crucial information about Russian interference in the US election.
  72. AIVD penetrated the computer network of Russian hacking group Cozy Bear, and was able to see everything the group was doing, including the DNC hack in 2016 and the State Department in 2014.
  73. US media had reported the CIA and NSA had been alerted to the hacks by an unnamed Western intelligence agency. The AIVD intelligence may have contributed to a subsequent FBI inquiry into Russian interference.
  74. On Thursday, Chuck Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee said the committee will redact and release transcripts of its interviews with Donald Jr. and “all witnesses” related to the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower.
  75. In response to questions by Sen. Kamala Harris, Facebook revealed Russian operatives created 129 events across 13 pages linked to Russian-troll farm Internet Research Agency, and reached 340,000 unique users.
  76. On Thursday, NYT reported Trump ordered McGahn to fire Mueller in June 2017. McGahn refused to order the Department of Justice to do so, saying he would instead quit. Trump backed off, but started publicly attacking Mueller.
  77. Trump cited three alleged, pretextual conflicts of interest as an excuse for the firing. Mueller learned about this attempt in recent months through interviewing current and former senior White House officials.
  78. Trump also considered firing deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, and elevating the department’s number 3 official, Rachel Brand, to oversee the Mueller probe. When Ty Cobb came on in July, Trump ratcheted back his criticism of Mueller.
  79. Trump has wavered in recent months about firing Mueller. Cobb has tried to keep him calm by assuring him the investigation is almost over. Since last month, Republicans have ramped up their attacks on Mueller.
  80. On Friday in Davos, when asked by reporters about the NYT story on his wanting to fire Mueller, Trump said, “Fake news, folks. Fake news. Typical New York Times fake stories,” but did not deny the story.
  81. On Friday, CNN reported Trump is still fuming about the Russian investigation, and has been venting about Rosenstein. Trump has also discussed firing Rosenstein, but so far his advisers convinced him not to.
  82. Steve Bannon is scheduled to be interviewed by Mueller’s team next week. A source said others White House officials who have been interviewed say of the probe, “they’re really digging into the Comey obstruction piece.
  83. Foreign Policy reported Trump pressed his senior aides in June 2017 to devise and carry out a campaign to discredit three FBI officials who would be witnesses against him in the Mueller probe.
  84. Trump attorney Dowd, who was hired shortly after Comey’s testimony on June 8, warned Trump that potential corroborative testimony of the senior FBI officials would play a central role in Mueller’s final conclusion.
  85. Repeating what Dowd said, he told allies they had to “fight back harder.” The three were McCabe, Rybicki, and Baker — the three mentioned in a June 7 Vox article as corroborating witnesses for Comey.
  86. The GOP war on the FBI continued, as Rep. Devin Nunes raised the specter of a secret memo which allegedly shows serious misconduct by the FBI and DOJ towards the Trump campaign — part of a Deep State plot.
  87. Reportedly, 200 Republicans have privately read the memo. Democrats dismissed the memo as a biased hack job, and said releasing it publicly would violate the House Intelligence Committee’s agreement with the FBI and DOJ.
  88. On Sunday, the Daily Beast reported Nunes refused to share the secret memo with the FBI. On Monday, Mother Jones reported Nunes also refused to share the secret memo with the DOJ.
  89. CNN reported that Richard Burr, GOP chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee was also denied access to Nunes’s memo. Ranking member Democrat Mark Warner said the memo is “sloppy, careless” and “has no grounding in fact.”
  90. Business Insider reported Twitter accounts associated with Russia began promoting the hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo, and the frequency spiked by 233,000% in the 48 hours after Nunes spoke of making the memo public.
  91. Also in that time period, references to the “memo” have increased by 68,000% with the most-shared URL being linked to WikiLeaks.
  92. Daily Beast reported Nunes’s secret memo alleges surveillance abuse, and specifically names McCabe, Rosenstein, and Comey — the three are also subjects of Trump’s frequent attacks.
  93. On Wednesday, in a letter, assistant AG Stephen Boyd told Nunes that releasing the memo without giving the FBI the opportunity to review it would be “extraordinarily reckless,” and cited the “risk of harm to national security.”
  94. The letter also states releasing the memo would violate the terms of the deal reached with Speaker Paul Ryan in Week 60: release would “represent a significant deviation from the terms of access negotiated in good faith.”
  95. Starting Monday, Republicans seized on a single text sent from FBI attorney Lisa Page to senior agent Peter Strzok the day after the election saying, “Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society,” to spread innuendo all over the media.
  96. Rep. John Ratcliffe told Fox Newsthere may have been a secret society of folks within the Department of Justice and the FBI” to prevent Trump from winning the 2016 election. Rep. Trey Gowdy called the FBI bias “stunning.”
  97. Sen. Ron Johnson told Fox News Tuesday that an informant told him about a group at the FBI that were holding secret meetings off site, and the text corroborated the possibility of collusion as at the highest levels.
  98. On Thursday, Johnson pulled back his claim, telling CNN “it’s a real possibility” that the “secret society” text was exchanged in jest. Asked if he owes an apology, Johnson said, “We will see what the next texts say.”
  99. On Friday, at a speech in Norfolk, Virginia, Sessions said some investigators in the DOJ have strayed from their duty to be fair and partial, and it is time to return to “protecting the safety of Americans with integrity and fairness.”
  100. While Sessions did not specifically attack Mueller or his team, he did imply that some of the criticism of the DOJ is justified and called for “eliminating political bias or favoritism…from our investigations and our prosecutions.”
  101. AP reported one year after Trump pledged to donate profits from any foreign governments staying in his namesake hotels to the US Treasury, no such payments have been made to the Treasury.
  102. AP also reported despite Trump’s promise to draw a “red line” between his businesses and his administration, he has exploited vague language and created the appearance he is in fact profiting from being in office.
  103. The Trump Organization has taken in more than $600,000 from dozens of political organizations, companies, foreign governments and officials using its hotels and resorts, including Saudi, Malaysian, and pro-Turkey groups.
  104. Politico reported that the Republican National Committee’s annual winter meeting on February 1 will be held at the Trump Hotel DC.
  105. McClatchy reported that one year in, five of Trump’s top staffers still have not secured final approval of their financial reports required by law to assure Americans they are not personally benefiting from their White House jobs.
  106. The delay resulted from staffers either refusing to disclose mandated information to the Office of Government Ethics, or failing to resolve a conflict of interest or other violations — aided by a White House not forcing staffers to comply.
  107. The New Yorker reported China has been aggressively courting Kushner since the election. Kushner met with Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the US, multiple times, including meetings with Flynn or alone.
  108. According to current and former officials briefed on US intelligence,Chinese officials said Cui and Kushner, preparing for a summit at Mar-a-Lago, discussed Kushner’s business interests along with policy.
  109. In March 2017, the FBI’s chief of counterintelligence briefed Kushner on the danger of foreign-influence operations, saying he was a top target. Kushner assured him saying New York real estate is not “a baby’s business.”
  110. Despite warnings given to then-head of his transition team, Chris Christie, on planning ahead of meetings with foreign counterparts, Trump met with more than two dozen heads of state before his campaign contacted the State Department.
  111. Kushner has been unable to get full security clearance; yet, he is one of up to fourteen who are recipients of the President’s Daily Brief (PDB). Never before has someone received a PDB after not getting cleared for this long.
  112. On Friday, a federal court ruled that Kushner Cos. must disclose the identities of its business partners in several Maryland properties. The motion was filed by AP, ProPublica, WaPo, and Baltimore local media.
  113. CNN reported on Trump Hotel DC. In the first 11 months of 2017, the hotel had a 50% occupancy rate, one-third below an industry average, yet room rates were 40% higher than those of nearly two dozen DC hotels.
  114. Axios reported Trump has turned on Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Sources say in the last six months Trump has attacked Ross, saying his trade deals are terrible and he “has lost his step.” Ross has also been falling asleep in meetings.
  115. Axios also reported that Trump has turned on Zinke, who he said has “gone rogue.” Trump’s White House was not informed in advance when Zinke publicly exempted Florida from offshore drilling in Week 61.
  116. On Monday, Vanity Fair reported Ivanka is taking charge of replacing John Kelly. After a public disagreement on immigration, Trump reportedly told friends, “I’ve got another nut job here who thinks he’s running things.”
  117. Politico reported watchdog group Common Cause filed two complaints alleging the $130,000 payment to Stephanie Clifford violated campaign finance laws over non-reporting of an in-kind donation to the campaign.
  118. Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, told Politico he is willing to give Trump a “mulligan” on his past and relationship with Stephanie Clifford, so long as Trump delivers to Evangelicals on policy.
  119. Billy Graham’s granddaughter, Jerushah Armfield, disagreed, telling CNNTrump’s bad behavior is sending the wrong message to the world, adding in order to forgive, “that individual needs to repent and apologize.”
  120. On Pence’s trip to Israel, female journalists were subjected to second class treatment. On Monday, a journalist from Finland was asked to remove her bra during a security check. When she refused, she was denied entrance.
  121. The next day, on his visit to the Western Wall, female journalists were relegated to the other side of a fence, while Pence prayed on the men’s side. Female journalist coined the hashtag #pencefence on Twitter.
  122. On Wednesday, Tal Schneider, an Israeli journalist with the Globesfinancial daily, said she planned to sue Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch for gender segregation.
  123. Bloomberg reported on the dysfunctional relationship between Trump and British PM Theresa May, including frequent clashes, and May being unable to get her points across on telephone calls amid Trump’s interruptions.
  124. Trump also reportedly told May that he will not visit the UK unless she bans protests. Trump also complained about the “negative coverage” he has received in the British press.
  125. WaPo reported that according to senior officials, Trump will “affect an Indian accent” when he quotes Indian PM Narendra Modi.
  126. On Wednesday at Davos, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin brushed off concerns about a decision by 11 Pacific Rim countries to forge a new commercial bloc without the US, saying the US is open to bilateral trade deals.
  127. Also, uncharacteristically for a Treasury secretary, Mnuchin publicly commented on the dollar, which has weakened sharply in recent weeks as Chinese investors are slowing their purchases of US securities.
  128. On Wednesday at Davos, French President Emmanuel Macron laid claim to being the leader of the free world in the vacuum created by Trump pulling back from trade deals and renouncing of the Paris climate accord — both at odds with Europe.
  129. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, “It’s a transformational moment for Europe,” adding European leaders believe in globalization. A coalition of pro-European orientation is building, leaving Trump behind.
  130. A Quinnipiac poll found 67% of Americans say Trump is not a good role model for our children, and 29% think he is. By a 2:1 margin, Americans say they are embarrassed to have Trump leading our country.
  131. A district court judge in Maryland seemed inclined to open a hearing on the emoluments suit against Trump, saying he was not persuaded by a ruling in a New York court in Week 58.
  132. Courtland Sykes, a Republican candidate for the US Senate in Missouri, said in a Facebook post that women should be homemakers and not “career obsessed banshees,” and that feminists are “she devils.”
  133. The #MeToo movement continued to dominate American conversation.Larry Nassar, the former doctor for the American gymnastics team, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for multiple sex crimes, as Judge Rosemarie Aquilina proclaimed, “I just signed your death warrant.”
  134. On Friday, Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn was accused of a pattern of sexual misconduct. Trump lawyer Cohen told NBC News, “Steve is a truly great man who has been the driving force behind the RNC finance committee.” On Saturday, Wynn resigned as RNC finance chair.

 

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New York City, November 2017
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Artist: Tee Wat
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New York City, November 2017
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New York City, November 2017