POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 159: WHO WILL SURVIVE IN AMERICA?

NOVEMBER 23, 2019

Week 158

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. AMY SISKIND’S LIST: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-158/
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On the Bowery in New York City, USA 21Nov19

This was a remarkable week in impeachment hearings as nine witnesses testified. By week’s end, it was clear that there was a coordinated effort that included multiple senior Trump officials “in the loop” seeking investigations from Ukraine in exchange for aid and a White House visit — an effort that went against U.S. national security interests. Trump and his allies’ defense, claiming Ukrainian corruption and 2016 interference, was also debunked, leaving by week end their only defense to be lack of a firsthand witness to Trump directing the activities. The impeachment hearings were stunning as, with each passing day, it became all the more clear how irreverently and irresponsibly Trump has acted, yet how unwilling the Republican Party was to stand up to him and hold him accountable.

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West Village, NYC, USA 21nov19

Another conspiracy theory was also debunked as a draft of the Department of Justice Inspector General found there was no political bias by senior FBI officials against Trump in getting the wiretap of Carter Page. Trump took an unusual trip to Walter Reed Medical Center early in the week that led to speculation of a health issue, and spent the rest of the week ranting and bullying about impeachment, mostly on Twitter and Fox News, and largely avoiding the press. Trump and his allies continued to attack and discredit impeachment witnesses publicly, and blocked testimony from senior officials and subpoenaed documents from the State Department. Trump continued his battle with the U.S. military, flexing his commander in chief might to overturn their rules.

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East Village, NYC, USA 22nov19

As the week came to end, and Congress left for Thanksgiving break, it was unclear where the impeachment investigation would head next. The House Intelligence Committee started writing its report, but did not rule out further hearings, and the Judiciary Committee also considered follow up on information gleaned from the Roger Stone trial related to Trump’s written testimony in the Mueller probe.

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East Village, NYC, USA 22nov19
  1. On Saturday, the White House said Trump underwent a partial examination at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center ahead of his annual physical. Trump had his last physical in February.
  2. Press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump made the unscheduled visit, citing, “Anticipating a very busy 2020, the President is taking advantage of a free weekend here in Washington, D.C.”
  3. Grisham later appeared on Fox News’ “Justice with Judge Jeanine” and said Trump is as “healthy as can be,” and that any speculation is “wholly irresponsible & dangerous for the country.”
  4. Later, just after midnight. Trump tweeted, “Visited a great family of a young man under major surgery,” adding, “Also began phase one of my yearly physical. Everything very good (great!). Will complete next year.”
  5. On Monday, Dr. Sean Conley, Trump’s physician, said in a memo said Trump “has not had any chest pain, norwas he evaluated or treated,” adding the visit was a “routine, planned interim checkup.”
  6. On Tuesday, Trump recounted First Lady Melania asking him about reports he had a heart attack, telling reporters he told her, “These people are sick, they’re sick, and the press really in this country is dangerous.”
  7. On Saturday, Democrat John Bel Edwards won the election for governor of Louisiana, after Trump held two rallies for the Republican running, and told the crowd days before, “You got to give me a big win, please, O.K.”
  8. Edwards won a red state, similar to Andy Beshar in Kentucky in Week 156, by energizing African-Americans and moderate whites in and around the urban centers. Trump won Louisiana by 20 points in 2016.
  9. On Saturday, House investigators released the transcript of Tim Morrison’s testimony. Morrison testified that Gordon Sondland was in regular touch with Trump, and claimed to be acting on his orders.
  10. Morrison said Sondland briefed Trump before the July 25 call, and that until he spoke to Sondland on September 1, he had not drawn a connection between withholding Ukraine aid and an investigation.
  11. Morrison said he did not hear anything troubling on the July 25 call, unlike Alexander Vindman, but recommended access to it be limited. He claimed the call was placed on a highly-classified server by mistake.
  12. Morrison disputed Vindman’s account that he asked for edits to the July 25 transcript to include a mention of Burisma, saying, “I believe it was accurate and complete,” and Vindman’s proposed changes were accepted.
  13. Morrison said John Bolton met with Trump privately in August in an effort to get him to release the $400 million in military aid to Ukraine. He said Bolton emerged and said Trump was “not yet ready” to release the money.
  14. The House also released the transcript of Jennifer Williams’ testimony. Williams testified she was on the July 25 call and her contemporaneous notes reflected Ukrainian President Zelensky did mention Burisma.
  15. Williams said Trump’s request for investigations on the July 25 call struck her as “unusual and inappropriate” and “shed some light on possible other motivations” for his decision to freeze military aid to Ukraine.
  16. She added she found the call to be “more specific to the president in nature, to his personal political agenda,” than “foreign policy objective” of U.S. She put a hard copy of the call transcript in Vice President Mike Pence’s briefing book.
  17. Williams also said that Pence canceling his trip to Zelensky’s inauguration was decided by Trump. She said she was given no explanation for the change of plans.
  18. On Sunday, Trump attacked Williams, referring to her as a Never Trumper, tweeting, “Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read BOTH transcripts of the presidential calls, & see the just released ststement [sic].”
  19. Trump added, “Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers…& work out a better presidential attack!” In her testimony, Williams said she had reviewed the April 21 call transcript with Pence.
  20. Trump also tweeted, “The Crazed, Do Nothing Democrats are turning Impeachment into a routine partisan weapon. That is very bad for our Country, and not what the Founders had in mind!!!!”
  21. Trump added, “Republicans & others must remember, the Ukrainian President and Foreign Minister both said that there was no pressure placed on them,” adding, “But why isn’t Germany, France (Europe) paying?”
  22. Trump also tweeted, “Where is the Fake Whistleblower?
  23. On Sunday, Trump attacked Fox News host Chris Wallace, tweeting he is “nasty & obnoxious,” and his “dumb and unfair interview” of Trump ally Rep. Steve Scalise “would never have happened in the @FoxNews past.”
  24. On Monday, Fox Business host Neil Cavuto defended Wallace, saying journalists are “obligated to question,” adding, “The best we can do as journalists is be fair to all,” and, “That’s not fake doing that.”
  25. On Sunday, WSJ reported Sondland plans to testify Wednesday that he kept several Trump regime officials apprised of his Ukraine push, including White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
  26. On Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told “Face the Nation” she has “no idea” if the impeachment inquiry will wrap by year-end, noting depositions could continue into Thanksgiving week, and could lead to more hearings.
  27. Pelosi also said, “I will make sure he does not intimidate the whistleblower,” adding, “I told the president, you’re in my wheelhouse when you come after the whistleblower.”
  28. Pelosi also invited Trump to testify, saying, “If he has information that is exculpatory…then we look forward to seeing it,” adding, “He could come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants.”
  29. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer echoed Pelosi, telling reporters if Trump does not agree with what he is hearing, “He should come to the committee and testify under oath,” adding, “What is he hiding?”
  30. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “Our Crazy, Do Nothing…Speaker of the House, Nervous Nancy Pelosi…suggested on Sunday’s DEFACE THE NATION that I testify about the phony Impeachment Witch Hunt.”
  31. Trump said he will “strongly consider” testifying “in order to get Congress focused again,” adding, “Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax.”
  32. On Monday, an ABC News/Ipsos poll found 70% of Americans think Trump’s request for Ukraine to investigate a political rival was wrong, 25% say his actions were not wrong.
  33. The poll also found 51% say Trump should be impeached and removed, 6% say his actions were wrong but he should not be impeached, 13% impeached but not removed, and 25% he did nothing wrong.
  34. On Monday, NBC News reported Trump has turned his ire in the impeachment hearings to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as diplomats from State testify, threatening to bring down his presidency.
  35. Trump confronted Pompeo at an October 29 White House lunch about his lackluster effort to stop diplomatsfrom testifying. Trump also blames him for choosing William Taylor, who has provided damaging testimony.
  36. Trump criticized Pompeo for hiring a “Never Trumper” on Twitter on October 23. On October 26, Pompeo was excluded as Trump sat with his national security team during the raid that killed ISIS leader al-Baghdadi.
  37. Pompeo is also under siege from State Department staffers. His decision to allow the State Department to help cover legal of officers ensnared in the impeachment inquiry could further strain his relationship with Trump.
  38. On Monday, Pompeo told reporters, “I always defend State Department employees,” but declined to answer questions related to William Taylor and Maria Yovanovitch’s impeachment hearing testimony.
  39. Pompeo denied any “nefarious purposes” for Yovanovitch’s recall, adding, “The State Department is doing a fantastic job. I think we’ve delivered in a way that the Obama administration has not delivered on Ukraine.
  40. On Tuesday, Time reported Pompeo planned to stay at the State Department until early spring 2020, then run for Senate, but is worried the impeachment inquiry is hurting his reputation, and straining his relationship with Trump.
  41. On Monday, the Hill Editor-In-Chief Bob Cusack said in an email to staffers the paper was reviewing and updating John Solomon’s Ukraine columns. Yovanovitch testified his work was part of the smear campaign against her.
  42. On Tuesday, CNN reported Jimmy Finkelstein, the owner of the Hill, has been friends with Trump for decades, and boasts of their close friendship. Hill staffers revolted over Solomon’s columns and how they were handled.
  43. On Monday, Politico reported David Holmes said in testimony that he “vividly” recalled the conversation because Trump spoke so loudly that it caused Sondland to wince and hold the phone away from his ear.
  44. Holmes was concerned Russia was monitoring the call given two of the three mobile networks in Ukraine are Russian-owned, and “We generally assume that mobile communications in Ukraine are being monitored.”
  45. Holmes said, “I’ve never seen anything like this,” adding, a “conversation of this level of candor, colorful language.” He reported the call to his supervisor. He will testify publicly on Thursday, alongside Fiona Hill.
  46. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he “can’t imagine a scenario” under which the Senate would remove Trump, saying House Democrats are “seized with Trump derangement syndrome.”
  47. McConnell also complained about the lack of civility in political discourse, saying, “People are acting out,” and “We need to learn how to behave better, how to disagree without anger.”
  48. On Monday, CNN reported prosecutors in the SDNY have contacted people associated with Ukraine’s state-run oil-and-gas company, Naftogaz, as part of an investigation into Rudy Giuliani and associates.
  49. Prosecutors are investigating whether Giuliani, Igor Fruman, and Lev Parnas tried to secure energy deals. Fruman and Parnas also worked to oust CEO Andriy Kobolyev, who is known for his anti-corruption reforms.
  50. On Tuesday, AP reported a lawyer for Andrew Favorov, the director of the integrated gas division at Naftogaz, said he will cooperate with the probe into Giuliani and will meet voluntarily with the DOJ.
  51. On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “Our great Farmers will recieve [sic] another major round of “cash,” compliments of China Tariffs.” The payments are the second part of a three-tranche $16 billion federal aid package.
  52. On Monday, Trump met with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell at the White House. Trump tweeted the meeting was “good & cordial” and “everything was discussed including interest rates.”
  53. While it is not uncommon for a president to meet with a Fed Chair, it is uncommon to discuss rates. In a statement after, the Fed said monetary policy is “based solely on careful, objective and non-political analysis.”
  54. On Monday, CBS News reported San Diego billionaire Doug Manchester, Trump’s nominee for U.S. ambassador for the Bahamas, was asked by the RNC for another $500,000 donation as he awaited Senate confirmation.
  55. Manchester, whose nomination has been stalled in the Senate, was first appointed by Trump the day after he was sworn in, after donating $1 million to Trump’s inaugural fund.
  56. On Monday, Mina Chang, a high-ranking State Department staffer who in Week 157 was reported to have inflated her resume, resigned, saying it “is the only acceptable moral and ethical option for me at this time.”
  57. On Monday, Paul Erickson, the former boyfriend of Russian agent Maria Butina, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering. The case was separate from the one against Butina.
  58. On Monday, WAPO reported the IRS whistleblower, who filed a complaint in August saying at least one Trump political appointee at Treasury tried to interfere with an audit of Trump or Pence, filed additional documents.
  59. The IRS whistleblower met with staffers for Sens. Charles Grassley and Ron Wyden, the chair and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, earlier this month. Follow-up interviews are expected.
  60. On Monday, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily halted a ruling that required Trump’s accounting firm to turn over his tax returns, and gave the House Oversight Committee until Thursday to respond.
  61. On Thursday, House lawyers urged the Supreme Court to reject Trump’s attempt to shield his tax returns, citing the “rapidly advancing impeachment inquiry” puts their case on even stronger grounds.
  62. On Thursday, Manhattan DA Cy Vance urged the Supreme Court in an opposition brief to stay out of the fightfor Trump’s tax returns, citing the courts have already ruled unanimously in two seminal cases.
  63. On Tuesday, lawyers for the House Judiciary Committee asked a federal judge for an expedited ruling on whether Don McGahn should abide by their subpoena to testify “as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry.”
  64. Lawyers noted the “need for McGahn’s testimony has become even more pressing.” Part of the committee’s inquiry is related to whether Trump was truthful in his written testimony, as Roger Stone was convicted of lying.
  65. On Tuesday, the judge said she would rule by November 25 on the House lawsuit seeking to enforce a subpoena against McGahn, who skipped testifying in May. House Democrats filed a lawsuit in August.
  66. On Tuesday, a Manhattan appeals court judge dismissed Trump’s request to dismiss Summer Zervos’ defamation lawsuit, and cleared the way for Trump to be deposed. The judge agreed to fast-track Trump’s appeal.
  67. On Tuesday, watchdog group American Oversight obtained emails under the FOIA showing U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley sent confidential information on private email after losing her classified system password.
  68. On Tuesday, the White House faced fresh allegations of dishonesty after press secretary Grisham said in a radio interview that Obama aides left “you will fail” and other disparaging notes for the incoming Trump regime.
  69. No other Trump aides have made similar allegations. Obama aides pushed back at the suggestion, saying it was a lie. Later in the day, Grisham tried to walk back her story, saying she viewed the action as a harmless prank.
  70. On Thursday, Politico reported newly released documents show the Secret Service spent more than $250,000 at Trump properties in the first five months of 2017. The majority was spent at Trump’s golf courses.
  71. On Sunday, Hong Kong police stormed Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which was occupied by protestors. Universities have become the new battlegrounds for protests after months of arrests.
  72. On Sunday, Guardian reported UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with an ex-KGB agent at a lavish Italian party in April 2018, without his personal security detail, a month after the nerve agent attack in Salisbury.
  73. Senior UK officials blame the delayed release of UK intelligence’s investigation into Russian interference in Brexit on wanting to protect Johnson’s relationship with Trump, given what the report says on Trump.
  74. On Sunday, AP reported Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the U.S. and South Korea have indefinitely postponed joint exercises in an “act of goodwill” towards North Korea to keep the door open to diplomacy.
  75. The move comes as Japan’s defense minister, whose country feels threatened by North Korea, told Esper that “no one could be optimistic about” changing the North’s behavior.
  76. On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “Mr. Chairman, Joe Biden may be Sleepy and Very Slow,” adding, “I am the only one who can get you where you have to be,” and, “You should act quickly, get the deal done. See you soon!”
  77. On Monday, an adviser to North Korea leader Kim Jong Un snubbed Trump saying, “we are no longer interested in such talks that bring nothing to us,” adding Trump has not earned a new summit to “brag about.”
  78. On Tuesday, NBC News reported the Foreign Policy Research Institute found among 2020 Democrats, Tulsi Gabbard is the most popular with Russian propagandists (46% favorable, 44% unfavorable) and Joe Biden the least (3% favorable, 53% unfavorable).
  79. Researchers, which analyzed more than 1,700 news stories put out by Sputnik, Russia Today and RT, found a similar pattern to Russia backing Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
  80. On Wednesday, NBC News reported that Trump hosted a previously undisclosed dinner for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and board member Peter Thiel in October — the second meeting in recent months.
  81. On Wednesday, Benny Gantz failed to form a government in Israel, deepening the political crisis, and making it likely Israel will need to hold its third national election in less than a year.
  82. On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on bribery, fraud, and breach of trust charges. Netanyahu is not legally required to step down, but the charges put his political future in doubt.
  83. This is the first time in Israeli history that a sitting prime minister has been indicted. Members of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party called for a primary challenge ahead of the next election.
  84. Shortly later, in a televised statement, Netanyahu called the corruption charges against him an “attempted coup” which is “tainted by extraneous considerations, aiming to bring down a right-wing prime minister.”
  85. On Friday, Netanyahu told reporters, “Police and investigators are not above the law,” and parroting Trump, said, “The time has come to investigate the investigators.”
  86. On Thursday, a Federal Elections Commission disclosure showed the RNC paid $94,800 to Books-a-Million on October 29 to buy Donald Jr.’s new book, days before it was released.
  87. On Saturday, the FBI revealed Richard Tobin, 18, of Brooklawn, New Jersey, directed a far-right network to vandalize networks in Michigan and Wisconsin last September, in what he called “Operation Kristallnacht.”
  88. On Sunday, Christine Blasey Ford received the ACLU courage award. Dr. Ford said, “I was not prepared for the venom, the persistent attacks. I was not prepared to be physically threatened and forced out of my home.”
  89. On Monday, NBC News reported the Trump regime is preparing to publish a rule that would send migrants who pass through Guatemala, El Salvador, or Honduras back to those countries before they can seek asylum.
  90. Immigration advocates said the three countries should not be deemed “safe third countries,” and that the Trump regime bullied the governments into signing agreements that will be deadly for asylum seekers sent back.
  91. On Monday, Media Matters reported Clarence Mason Weaver, an advisory board member of “Black Voices for Trump,” believes women should strive to be “handmaidens,” “be submissive,” and stay out of the workplace.
  92. On Tuesday, Patrick Carlineo Jr., 55, an Islamophobic man from Addison, New York, pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Rep. Ilhan Omar. Although he faces 10 years, Omar asked the judge for “compassion” in his sentencing.
  93. On Tuesday, NBC News reported a second batch of leaked emails showed Stephen Miller had more editorial influence over Breitbart during the 2016 campaign than was previously known.
  94. At the time, Miller not only pushed anti-Marco Rubio stories, but also fed the website anti-immigrant stories. More than 80 Democratic members of Congress have called on Miller to resign.
  95. On Wednesday, University of Georgia confirmed reports that swastikas were drawn on Jewish students’ doors earlier this year. One student said the letters for a Jewish sorority, Sigma Delta Tau, were torn off her door.
  96. On Thursday, a jury acquitted humanitarian worker Scott Warren, who was arrested by Border Patrol in Week 135 for harboring two migrants and providing them food and shelter in the Arizona desert.
  97. On Tuesday, just after midnight Trump falsely quoted Fox News, tweeting, “Pelosi just stated that ‘it is dangerous to let the voters decide Trump’s fate.’” The quote was from Fox News reporter Mike Emanuel an hour prior.
  98. Trump continued, “In other words, she thinks I’m going to win and doesn’t want to take a chance on lettingthe voters decide,” adding, “Like Al Green, she wants to change our voting system,” and, “Wow, she’s CRAZY!”
  99. Pelosi said in a Dear Colleague memo, “The weak response to these hearings has been, “Let the election decide,” calling that a “dangerous position,” citing Trump is “jeopardizing the integrity of the 2020 elections.”
  100. Late Monday, Sen. Ron Johnson wrote in a letter, Vindman fits the profile of “a significant number of bureaucrats and staff members within the executive branch [who] have never accepted President Trump as legitimate.”
  101. Trump called Vindman a “Never Trumper;” Fox Host Laura Ingaham said he worked “against the president’s interests;” and Rep. Douglas Collins cited “concern regarding the credibility and judgment” of Vindman in a letter.
  102. Tim Morrison questioned Vindman’s “judgment” and was critical of his going directly to White House attorney John Eisenberg, rather than up the chain of command. Eisenberg had told Vindman to come directly to him.
  103. WSJ reported the Army is ready to relocate Vindman and his family to an Army base to protect him, and has stepped up patrols of his home and security assessment after Trump and allies have attacked him.
  104. On Tuesday, Vindman and Jennifer Williams testified in the morning in the impeachment inquiry. Both were on the July 25 call. In the afternoon, Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison testified.
  105. In his opening statement, Vindman denounced smears of government officials testifying, saying, “The vile character attacks on these distinguished and honorable public servants is reprehensible.”
  106. Vindman closed out his statement addressing his father: “Dad, my sitting here today…is proof that you made the right decision forty years ago to leave the Soviet Union. Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”
  107. Vindman said of the July 25 call he took Trump’s requests to Zelensky to open investigations into the “2016 election, the Bidens and Burisma” as demands, citing the power disparity between the two men.
  108. Vindman said, “Frankly, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” it was “in certain regards, my worst fear of how our Ukraine policy could play out,” and “was likely to have significant implications for U.S. national security.”
  109. Both Vindman and Williams said they knew of no one at the National Security Council, the State Department, or Pentagon who was in favor of holding up aid to Ukraine, and described Giuliani’s outsized influence.
  110. Williams was asked by House Democrats about Trump’s Sunday tweet attacking her, saying it looked like witness intimidation. She said, “It certainly surprised me. I was not expecting to be called out by name.”
  111. Republican’s counsel questioned Vindman over dual loyalties, asking about an offer to be Ukraine’s defense minister. Vindman said he took the offer as a joke, and reported it to his superiors and counterintelligence.
  112. Fox News picked up on the inquiry, and moments later sent out an alert, saying, “Vindman says Ukrainian official offered him the job of Ukrainian defense minister.”
  113. GOP Rep. Jim Jordan said Morrison and Hill raised questions on his judgment. Vindman read his performance review by Hill: “Alex is a top 1 percent military officer and the best Army officer I have worked with.”
  114. During the testimony, the official White House Twitter account, tweeted, “Tim Morrison, Alexander Vindman’s former boss, testified in his deposition that he had concerns about Vindman’s judgment.”
  115. Rep. Joaquin Castro asked Vindman if he was aware of any evidence that Ukraine interfered in 2016, Vindman responded, “I am not, adding, “This is a Russian narrative that President Putin has promoted.”
  116. Later Tuesday, Trump spoke to reporters from a cabinet meeting, his first public appearance in days. He said of Vindman, “I understand now he wears his uniform when goes in. No, I don’t know Vindman at all.”
  117. Trump also said, “We have to get USMCA signed. Nancy Pelosi can’t get it off her desk,” adding, “The woman is grossly incompetent. All she wants to do is focus on impeachment, which is just a little pipe dream she’s got.”
  118. Trump also accused Pelosi of using the USMCA to get impeachment votes, calling it “a kangaroo court headed by little Shifty Schiff, where we don’t have lawyers, we don’t have witnesses, we don’t have anything.”
  119. Trump added, “they’re using this impeachment hoax for their own political gain” to damage the GOP and him, saying, “but it’s had the opposite effect,” and falsely claiming, “I’m the highest I’ve ever I’ve ever been in the polls.”
  120. Shortly after, Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, NSA to Pence who was on the July 25 call, contradicted Williams’ testimony, saying he heard “nothing wrong or improper on the call.”
  121. On Tuesday, ahead of his public testimony, Kurt Volker revised his closed door House testimony, citing, “I have learned many things that I did not know at the time of the events in question.”
  122. Volker had testified that investigations were not discussed at the July 10 meeting. He said he now recalled that Sondland made a “generic comment about investigations” and that “all of us thought it was inappropriate.”
  123. Volker testified, “I opposed the hold on U.S. security assistance as soon as I learned about it on July 18,” but thought they could “turn it around” before Ukrainians knew, adding, “I did not know the reason for the hold.”
  124. Volker claimed he did not understand that requests that Ukraine investigate Burisma was related to the Bidens, saying the former investigation would be “appropriate and unremarkable,” and the latter “unacceptable.”
  125. Volker said there was no direct quid pro quo, but in his attempts to set up a summit between Trump and Zelensky, he tried to negotiate a statement by Zelensky promising investigations of the 2016 election and Burisma.
  126. Volker disputed being part of an “irregular” channel of Ukraine policy, and said he had never heard the term “three amigos” referencing himself, Secretary Perry, and Sondland, adding, “I frankly cringe when I hear it.”
  127. Morrison said being on the July 25 call he feared “how its disclosure would play in Washington’s political climate. My fears have been realized,” and urged lawmakers “not to lose sight” of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
  128. Morrison said he recommended that access to the July 25 call transcript be restricted, but that its placement onto a highly classified computer system was an “administrative error.”
  129. Morrison said he was surprised that Vindman went to Eisenberg, not him, after the July 25 call. Vindman said he did so at Bolton’s direction. Morrison said Vindman was frustrated over being excluded from meetings.
  130. Morrison said he did not skip his own chain of command by going to Eisenberg after the call, saying he was required to go to Charles Kupperman for “administrative matters.”
  131. Morrison said he was told on a September 1 conversation Sondland said “Ukrainians would have to have the prosecutor general make a statement with respect to the investigations as a condition of having the aid lifted.”
  132. WAPO Editorial Board noted the two witnesses requested by Republicans, Volker and Morrison, added to the evidence that Trump abused his office. Their testimony was sharply different than the narrative pushed by Rep. Devin Nunes.
  133. Later Tuesday, the Washington Examiner reported Republicans are shifting strategy to accepting “quid quo pro” did occur, but now saying it does not matter, and it relatively common occurrence with foreign aid.
  134. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at an investment conference in Moscow that he has “great respect” for the U.S., and hopes Russia will not be accused of meddling in the 2020 U.S. election.
  135.  Putin noted the blame has been shifted to Ukraine, saying, “Hopefully no one accuses us of election interference in the United States. Now they’re accusing Ukraine. We’ll let them deal with that themselves.”
  136. On Wednesday, Sondland testified in the impeachment inquiry. In his opening statement he said of the central question in the impeachment inquiry, “Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’” that “the answer is yes.”
  137. Sondland’s 19-page opening statement included texts and emails not previously made public, and was filled with new details and disclosures, saying his memory had been refreshed by other testimony.
  138. Sondland complained several times about the State Department’s refusal to turn over his materials, which he said would have been “helpful” in reconstructing who he spoke to and met with, when and what was said.
  139. Sondland said that he and other senior regime officials “followed the president’s orders,” coordinating with Giuliani on getting Ukraine to launch investigations. Trump directed them to “talk to Rudy.”
  140. Sondland said, “Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the United States,” and that they were carrying out Trump’s wishes, saying, “we knew that these investigations were important to the president.”
  141. He said he worked with Giuliani on this “at the express direction of the president of the United States,” adding “there was no secret” about what was happening in the regime, and “Everyone was in the loop.”
  142. He said Perry, Volker, and himself did not want to work with Giuliani: “We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we were playing the hand we were dealt,” adding, “we followed the president’s orders.”
  143. Sondland said that Zelensky “had to announce the investigations — he didn’t have to actually do them.” He said although he was not directly told aid was tied to investigations, it was “abundantly clear” that was the case.
  144. Sondland said he did not know why aid was being withheld, but that he “shared concerns of the potential quid pro quo regarding the security aid with Sen. Ron Johnson,” and Ukrainian officials.
  145. Sondland said Pompeo “was aware that a commitment to investigations was among the issues we were pursuing” and the “State Department was fully supportive of our engagement” and “commitment to investigations”
  146. Sondland also testified, “based on my communications with Secretary Pompeo” that he felt comfortabletelling a top Zelensky aide that funds would not be unfrozen until Ukraine committed publicly to investigations.
  147. Sondland said he spoke to Pence before he met with Zelensky in Warsaw on September 1 and told him “that I had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations.”
  148. Sondland read from a July 19 email he sent to Mulvaney, Pompeo, Perry and others, in which he told them Zelensky would conduct a “fully transparent investigation” and “turn over every stone.”
  149. Fox New anchor Chris Wallace said Sondland “took out the bus and ran over President Trump, Vice President Pence, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani, Mick Mulvaney,” adding, “He implicates all of them.”
  150. Fox News contributor Ken Starr questioned if Sondland flipping would cause GOP senators to push Trump to resign, and later added, “articles of impeachment are being drawn up if they haven’t already been drawn up.”
  151. Sondland also confirmed David Holmes’ account of his July 26 call with Trump, saying it “did not strike me as significant,” and “I would have been more surprised” if Trump did not mention investigations.
  152. However, Sondland said in that call, and in others, he had no “recollection of discussing Vice President Biden or his son.” Sondland, Morrison, and Volker all claimed they did not connect Burisma to the Bidens.
  153. An August 26 email from Sondland showed he provided Bolton with Giuliani’s contact information, days before Bolton traveled to Ukraine, saying Bolton’s office had “requested Mr. Giuliani’s contact information.”
  154. During the testimony, Trump spoke to reporters outside the White House before heading to Texas, while reading off a piece of paper. He said of Sondland “seems like a nice guy,” but added, “I don’t know him very well.”
  155. Trump read from his notes recounting a September 9 conversation with Sondland, when he told him, “I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky — President Zelensky to do the right thing.”
  156. September 9 was the day the House Intelligence Committee learned of the whistleblower’s complaint. Sondland was relaying in testimony what Trump had told him to tell Taylor.
  157. Trump also told reporters, “That means it’s all over,” and read again from his notes in all capitalized, bold black letters, “This is the final word from the president of the United States: ‘I want nothing.’”
  158. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “Impeachment Witch Hunt is now OVER!” citing he said, “I WANT NOTHING!I WANT NOTHING! I WANT NO QUID PRO QUO! TELL PRESIDENT ZELENSKY TO DO THE RIGHT THING!”
  159. During the testimony, Giuliani tweeted Sondland was “speculating based on VERY little contact. I never met him and had very few calls with him, mostly with Volker.” Minutes later, Giuliani deleted the tweet.
  160. Shortly after, Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, issued a statement saying Pence never spoke to Sondland about “investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine.”
  161. A State Department spokesperson said “Sondland never told Secretary Pompeo that he believed the president was linking aid to investigations of political opponents. Any suggestion to the contrary is flat out false.”
  162. Later Wednesday, Laura Cooper and David Hale testified in the impeachment hearing. Cooper said military aid to Ukraine was critically important and she did not know over the summer why it was withheld.
  163. Cooper said since her closed door deposition, she has learned from her staffers Ukraine reached out to them as early as July 25 to ask what was going on with military aid, significantly earlier than previously known.
  164. Trump allies have claimed Ukrainians did not know aid was being withheld until August 28. Cooper also said during the week of August 6, her staffers interacted with Ukrainian officials who raised the hold on aid.
  165. Although Republicans repeatedly claimed Democrats would not allow their witnesses, Hale was the third on their list. Hale said Pompeo did call Fox News host Sean Hannity about Yovanovitch, which Pompeo denied.
  166. Hale also said that Giuliani was behind allegations that led to Yovanovitch being ousted, adding, “I believe that she should have been able to stay at post and continue to do the outstanding work.”
  167. Hale said the first time he heard of investigations into the Bidens and 2016 election was in March when Yovanovitch emailed him “speculating on the motives of various actors” behind “the smear campaign.”
  168. Hale said at a July 26 interagency meeting chaired by Kupperman, all agencies advocated for resuming aid to Ukraine. The Office of Management and Budget said aid was on freeze, and that the order came from Trump through Mulvaney.
  169. On Wednesday, a Gallup poll found Trump’s approval for November 1–14 was up to 43% from 41% in October. His disapproval fell from 57% to 54%. Trump’s handling of the economy remains his strongest area.
  170. On Thursday, American Research group found Trump’s approval at 37%, while 60% disapprove. The net -23 approval is the lowest for the past year.
  171. On Thursday, an Emerson College poll found 34% of independents support impeachment, 49% are against it — a sharp move from October when 48% supported it and 39% were against it.
  172. On Wednesday, Yahoo News reported the FBI reached out to a lawyer for the CIA whistleblower to ask to interview them. No interview has been scheduled, and it is unclear what the scope of the questioning would be.
  173. On Wednesday, lawyers for Vindman sent a warning letter to Fox News seeking a retraction or correction of an October segment by host Laura Ingraham suggesting Vindman might be guilty of espionage.
  174. The letter said the segment “sparked a torrent of republications and copycat false charges.” The letter also highlighted other inflammatory statements made on Fox News by Donald Jr. and host Tucker Carlson.
  175. Fox News responded on the Ingraham segment: “as a guest on Fox News, John Yoo was responsible for his own sentiments,” and “he has subsequently done interviews to clarify what he meant.”
  176. Later Wednesday, Trump held a publicity stunt at an Apple plant that has been making high-end computers since 2013. Trump accepted a plate with the words “Assembled in USA.”
  177. Shortly after, Trump tweeted the falsehood, “Today I opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texasthat will bring high paying jobs back to America.” Apple needs waivers on components from China.
  178. On Thursday, Sen. Johnson said in a radio interview Sondland “never used the word ‘quid pro quo,’” saying “he described to me some kind of arrangement” and when he asked Trump, he “adamantly denied” it.
  179. On Thursday, Trump attacked Fox News for its impeachment coverage, tweeting why they “waste airtime on Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell,” saying, “Fox should stay with the people that got them there, not losers!”
  180. Trump added, “The Republican Party, and me, had a GREAT day yesterday with respect to the phony Impeachment Hoax,” but you “would have no idea they were reporting on the same event. FAKE & CORRUPT NEWS!”
  181. Trump also tweeted, “Bob Mueller, after spending two years and 45 million dollars, went over all of my financials, & my taxes, and found nothing,” adding, “the Witch Hunt continues,” and “is not legal.”
  182. Trump added, “But I’m clean,” adding, “when I release my financial statement (my decision) sometime prior to Election,” it will show “that I am much richer than people even thought — And that is a good thing.”
  183. Trump continued, “I never in my wildest dreams thought my name would in any way be associated with the ugly word, Impeachment!” adding the calls “were PERFECT,” and, “Great corruption & dishonesty by Schiff.”
  184. Trump also called Democrats “human scum,” saying, “Corrupt politician Adam Schiff’s lies are growing by the day,” telling Republicans, “Keep fighting tough,” and citing “the most unfair hearings in American History.”
  185. Trump also tweeted, “But we are winning big, and they will soon be on our turf,” referring to the Senate.
  186. Trump quoted attorney Sam Dewey on Fox News, tweeting, “The new House Resolution gives Adam Schiff (the most dishonest man in politics) the power unilaterally to release edited transcripts.”
  187. Trump again quoted Dewey, tweeting, “Nothing gives Schiff jurisdiction over Impeachment.” Trump then retweeted his first tweet of the morning. Trump then tweeted, “Read the two Transcripts of Ukrainian calls!”
  188. On Thursday, at her weekly news conference, Speaker Pelosi told reporters “we haven’t made any decision,” on whether there is enough evidence to impeach Trump, adding “the day’s not over.”
  189. Pelosi also indicated there may be more witnesses, saying “testimony of one person may lead to the need for testimony of another.” And lashed out at Republicans for “the defense” of Trump’s behavior.
  190. Pelosi said Trump violated his oath of office, saying, “the facts are uncontested as to what happened,” and adding, “when we see a violation of the Constitution, we have no choice but to act.”
  191. Pelosi said Trump “used his office for his own personal gain,” undermined U.S. “national security” by withholding aid to Ukraine “to the benefit of the Russians,” and “undermined the integrity of our elections.”
  192. Pelosi said on reluctant witnesses, “we’re not going to wait till the courts decide,” adding, “That might be information that’s available to the Senate,” and “it’s a technique. It’s obstruction of justice, obstruction of Congress.”
  193. On Thursday, Fiona Hill and David Holmes testified in the impeachment hearing. Hill is the co-author of a 500-page book analyzing the psyche of Putin, and is a foremost expert on Russia.
  194. Hill criticized Republicans for propagating a “fictional narrative” that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 elections, saying, “These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes.”
  195. Hill said of the investigation, “I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests,” adding, “I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative.”
  196. Hill said, “President Putin and the Russian security services operate like a super PAC,” deploying millions of dollars to interfere, and that Russia will do again in 2020, saying time is “running out of time to stop them.”
  197. Hill said Russia’s goal “is to delegitimize the president,” and to put whoever won in 2016, Trump or Clinton, “under a cloud,” adding, “It’s a playbook they will run again in 2020.”
  198. Hill said Trump’s pressure campaign was purely political and had nothing to do with reforming corruption in Ukraine, the explanation frequently cited by Trump and Republicans.
  199. At her deposition, Hill had described a “shadow foreign policy” being run by Sondland, but said after his testimony, she realized he kept Trump, Mulvaney, and Pompeo “in the loop” about his efforts.
  200. Hill described a July 10 meeting with Ukrainians, after which Sondland told her “That he had an agreement with chief of staff Mulvaney that in return for investigations this meeting [with Trump] would get scheduled.”
  201. Hill said when she told Bolton, he said, “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” and told her to report the conversation to White House lawyer Eisenberg.
  202. Hill said Bolton told her that “Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up, which she took to mean Giuliani was “pushing views that would come back to haunt us,” adding, “that’s where we are today.”
  203. Hill said after Yovanovitch’s ouster, she had confronted Sondland with her concerns, and he told her that “he was in charge of Ukraine,” and when she asked, “who put you in charge?” Sondland said, “the president.”
  204. Hill said she now realized Sondland was “ involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security, foreign policy,” adding she had told him “this is all going to blow up. And here we are.”
  205. Holmes said he was convinced in late August that Trump froze military aid for the investigations, calling it “an expression of dissatisfaction with the Ukrainians who had not yet agreed to the Burisma/Biden investigation.”
  206. Both Hill and Holmes made it clear that Burisma was “code” for Biden, and that anyone who worked on Ukraine would know that, contradicting public testimony by Volker, Morrison, and Sondland.
  207. Holmes testified about the July 26 call between Trump and Sondland, saying after the call Sondland told him that Trump cared only about “big stuff that benefits the president” like the “Biden investigation.”
  208. As Holmes testified, Trump tweeted, “I have been watching people making phone calls my entire life,” adding, “My hearing is, and has been, great,” questioning Holmes being “able to hear or understand a conversation.”
  209. Holmes also said at the lunch someone asked why Giuliani was “so active in the media with respect to Ukraine” and Sondland responded, “‘Dammit Rudy. Every time Rudy gets involved he goes and f — -s everything up.’”
  210. On Thursday, during the hearings, Trump hosted Senate Republicans for lunch, including Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, who have shown tepid support, to woo them. Lisa Murkowski was invited but did not attend.
  211. At the lunch, with roughly six senators attending, Trump passed around a transcript of his first phone call with Zelensky, and discussed which witnesses should be called in a Senate trial.
  212. On Thursday, AP reported public testimony provided loads of evidence, but the one hole is no witness could attest to Trump directly conditioning the release of $400 military aid to an announcement of the investigations.
  213. Without direct proof, Republican support in the House seemed to remain intact despite witnesses showing Trump was willing to leverage the presidency to push a foreign government for personal political help.
  214. On Thursday, Daily Beast reported that according to Andriy Yermak, Lev Parnas was with Giuliani in Madrid when he met them in Madrid earlier this year and urged him to investigate the Bidens.
  215. On Thursday, after the impeachment hearings, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham sent to a letter to Secretary Pompeo as part of launching a probe of Biden, Burisma, and Ukraine.
  216. Graham asked for any calls Joe Biden had with former Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko relating to the firing of the country’s top prosecutor and Burisma, investigating unsubstantiated claims on the prosecutor’s firing.
  217. On Friday, Joe Biden said in an interview, “Lindsey is about to go down in a way that I think he’s going to regret his whole life,” adding of Lindsey, “I’m just embarrassed by what you’re doing, for you. I mean, my Lord.”
  218. On Thursday, former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith announced at a Committee to Protect Journalists event, that he would donate $500,000 to the nonprofit group, which advances press freedoms around the world.
  219. Smith told the crowd, “Autocrats have learned how to use those same online tools to shore up their power. They flood the world of information with garbage and lies, masquerading as news. There’s a phrase for that.”
  220. On Friday, Trump appeared on “Fox & Friends” for 53 minutes. PolitiFact found many of Trump’s points “were either inaccurate or repeated debunked conspiracy theories.”
  221. Trump falsely claimed, “They were spying on my campaign,” adding, “This was an overthrow attempt at the presidency. They tried to overthrow the presidency. This is a disgrace.”
  222. Trump said, “Adam Schiff is a sick puppy,” but that his July 25 call was “appropriate,” “perfect” “nice,” and “everything,” adding Zelensky said, “what are they talking about? They must think we’re nuts in this country.”
  223. Trump said of impeachment, “Frankly, I want a trial,” adding Pelosi is “crazy as a bedbug. She is nuts, ” and “the one I want to testify most is ‘Shifty Schiff,’ and I want to find out why did he make up my statement?”
  224. Trump said he knew the identity of the whistleblower: “I know exactly who it is,” telling the hosts, “By the way you know who the whistleblower is too, otherwise you’re not doing your job. Everybody knows it.”
  225. Trump said a “historic” report by the DOJ IG is coming, and, “I don’t like to use the word ‘deep state.’ I just say they’re really bad, sick people,” and mentioned the “modern-day version of whatever wiretapping may be.”
  226. Trump repeated the debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine’s 2016 involvement, saying, “They gave the server to Crowdstrike, or whatever it’s called….which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian.”
  227. Crowdstrike is a U.S. cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC in May 2016 to investigate the breach of its server. Conspiracy theorists claim the company’s chief technology officer is Ukrainian, but he was born in Russia.
  228. Trump asked, “Why isn’t Germany putting up money? Why isn’t France putting up money (for Ukraine)?Why isn’t all of the European nations, why aren’t they putting up?” The EU has put up $15 billion since 2014.
  229. Trump falsely claimed of Volker, “I don’t know him,” and “This guy, Sondland, hardly know him,” and praised Giuliani, adding if he goes to a country and “you hear it’s a corrupt country, I mean it means a lot.”
  230. Trump said of Yovanovitch, “she’s an Obama person,” adding, “everybody says is so wonderful, she wouldn’t hang my picture in the embassy,” and, “This was not an angel, this woman, OK?.”
  231. Trump also said of Yovanovitch, “I said, ‘Why are you being so kind?’ ‘Well, sir, she’s a woman. We have to be nice,’” adding, “She’s very tough. I heard bad things.”
  232. Shortly after, lawyers for Yovanovitch said in a statement, “The Embassy in Kyiv hung the official photographs of the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State as soon as they arrived from Washington, DC.”
  233. Trump also said, If it weren’t for me Hong Kong would have been obliterated in 14 minutes.” In was unclear what he meant. He added “we have to stand with Hong Kong but I’m also standing with President Xi.”
  234. Trump also said of Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George, “I don’t know what Kellyanne did to that guy” calling him “some kind of a nut job,” and, “She must have done some bad things to him because that guy’s crazy.”
  235. On Friday, NYT reported in addition to Hill’s testimony, U.S. intelligence officials informed senators and their aides that Russia was behind the years-long campaign to frame Ukraine for hacking the 2016 U.S. election.
  236. The revelations showed the Russian’s success not only at sowing discord in the U.S., but also in undermining the government of Ukraine and influencing the American political debate.
  237. On Thursday, Trump intervened and reversed a U.S. Navy decision to oust Edward Gallagher from the SEALs, and lose his Trident pin, after Gallagher had been at the center of a high-profile war crimes prosecution.
  238. Trump tweeted, “The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin,” adding, “This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business.”
  239. On Friday, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said Gallagher should face a planned “trident review board,” which could lead to his ouster from the SEALs, despite Trump’s tweet.
  240. On Friday, WAPO reported Trump took the advice of Pete Hegseth, a Fox News personality, when he issued pardons in Week 157. Trump called Hegseth numerous times to discuss the issue.
  241. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy tried to persuade Trump not to, and senior military officials brought documents and data to a meeting to show Trump he was fed bad information.
  242. Trump was lobbied with information that the three cases involved overly restrictive rules of engagement during the Obama administration. Trump tweeted Sunday, “Our great warfighters must be allowed to fight.”
  243. On Friday, CNN reported DOJ IG Michael Horowitz found a former FBI lawyer is under investigation for allegedly altering a document related the 2016 surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.
  244. However, the alterations, outlined in a draft of the IG’s soon to be released report, were made by a low-level FBI lawyer who has since been forced out of the agency, and did not effect the validity of the surveillance subpoena.
  245. Horowitz turned the evidence over to U.S. Attorney John Durham for his investigation of the investigators. The IG report is expected to be released on December 9.
  246. Later Friday, Trump told reporters at the White House, “I think we had a tremendous week with the hoax,” adding, “They call it the impeachment hoax. And that’s really worked out incredibly well.”
  247. Trump added he has “tremendous support” from Republicans, adding, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen support in the Republican Party like we do right now,” and “We’ve never had this kind of support.”
  248. Asked if the whistleblower should be fired, Trump said, “ What whistleblower? I don’t think there is. I consider it to be a fake whistleblower,” falsely claiming the complaint did not track what he said.
  249. On Friday, Chair Schiff told the LA Times that his committee has begun work on its report in the impeachment inquiry, which will be handed off to the House Judiciary Committee, but is not ruling out further hearings.
  250. Schiff added, “We’re not foreclosing the possibility of additional depositions or hearings,” but added, “we’re also not willing to wait months and months and let them play rope-a-dope with us in the courts.”
  251. On Friday, Politico reported after Thanksgiving, House Democrats are planning to hold at least one hearing on Trump’s misdeeds in the Mueller report, fueling possible additional articles of impeachment.
  252. Democrats say Roger Stone’s trial raised the question of whether Trump provided false statements in his written testimony to Mueller’s team relating to WikiLeaks. Democrats also hope to get McGahn’s testimony.
  253. On Friday, Bolton tweeted, “Glad to be back on Twitter after more than two months,” and later explained the White House “refused to return access to my personal Twitter account. Out of fear of what I may say?
  254. A White House spokesperson denied it, saying, “The White House did not block Mr. Bolton.” Trump also denied it on “Fox & Friends,” saying, “of course not,” and, “No, I actually had a good relationship with John.”
  255. On Friday, a group of conservative-leaning lawyers called Checks & Balances told the Times in a statement: “In recent months, we have become concerned by the conduct of Attorney General William Barr.”
  256. The group said they were so alarmed by Barr’s speech last week, they felt the need to push back on his expansive view of executive power. The group sharply denounced abuses of power by Trump.
  257. The group also said Barr’s interpretation set a dangerous precedent, with one member saying, “Conservatism is respect for the rule of law,” and another saying, “It’s important for conservatives to speak up.”
  258. On Friday, AG Barr said in an interview with AP that the death of Jeffrey Epstein was a “perfect storm of screw-ups,” refuting statements from Epstein’s family that he may have been murdered.
  259. Later Friday, NYT reported the highly anticipated DOJ IG report will sharply criticize lower-level employees for sloppiness, but absolve top ranking officials of abusing their power over bias against Trump.
  260. The report, while not finalized, is expected to show a proper legal basis for the government’s applications to monitor Carter Page, but find errors were made, including the use of human sources in the report.
  261. IG Horowitz found a low-level lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, altered an email used in court to renew the Carter Page wiretap. Horowitz referred the matter to John Durham for a potential criminal charge.
  262. Clinesmith left the Russia investigation in February 2018 after the IG found he was one of a handful of FBI officials who expressed animus towards Trump in text messages. Clinesmith resigned two months ago.
  263. The report was expected to find no politically biased actions by top officials targeted by Trump, including James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and Peter Strzok, debunking conspiracy theories used by Trump and his allies.
  264. On Friday, Trump tweeted an altered video of a CNN segment mocking host Chris Cuomo, replacing the voice of Cuomo’s mother with Trump screaming things like “I want no quid pro quo,” and “fake news.”
  265. On Friday, a lawyer for Lev Parnas said he is willing to tell Congress that Devin Nunes, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, met with former Ukrainian Prosecutor Victor Shokin about digging up dirt.
  266. The lawyer told CNN Parnas learned from Shokin that he met Nunes “in Vienna last December.” Congressional records show Nunes and three aides traveled to Europe from November 30 to December 3, 2018.
  267. The lawyer told CNN, “Nunes had told Shokin of the urgent need to launch investigations into Burisma, Joe and Hunter Biden, and any purported Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.”
  268. On Friday, CBS News reported according to a “Memorandum of Investigative Activity,” the whistleblower reached out to the intelligence committee IG on October 8 to clarify the nature of their contact.
  269. The IG passed the October 18 memo to House and Senate intelligence committees, saying the whistleblower acknowledged reaching out to Chair Schiff, but clarified that nothing substantial was discussed.
  270. On Friday, WAPO reported Trump has opened up Camp David as an “adult playground” and venue to woo Republican lawmakers during the impeachment inquiry, hosting by Mulvaney and White House officials.
  271. Trump has called in to compliment lawmakers at the dinners. Trump has also in recent weeks stopped attacking Republicans. He has also brought them along to sporting events in an effort to woo them.
  272. In recent weeks, Trump has also invited groups of Senate Republicans for lunch on Thursdays. Trump’s message at lunches echoes what he says publicly, and attendees claim they feel no overt pressure to stay on his side.
  273. Late Friday, the State Department released nearly 100 pages of documents to the FOIA to watchdog group American Oversight, just before the midnight court-imposed deadline. More documents will be released.
  274. Documents revealed a clear paper trail between Giuliani and Pompeo in the weeks before Yovanovitch was ousted. The two also spoke on the phone on March 26 and March 29, before her recall in April.
  275. Late Friday, Trump quoted Jason Chaffetz appearing on Fox News, tweeting, “The support for Impeachment is not there. I think the Democrats will have to come up with a new game plan.”
  276. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “Adam Schiff will be compelled to testify should the Democrats decide” despite his calls which were “totally appropriate (perfect), to go forward with the Impeachment Hoax.”
  277. Trump added, “Polls have now turned very strongly against Impeachment!” and tweeted an Emerson College poll, quoting Joe Concha tweeting, “You see why Pelosi is reluctant to go in with this.”
  278. On Friday, in a speech at the ADL’s International Leadership Award, Sacha Baron Cohen said social media giants, Facebook, Twitter, and Google are “the greatest propaganda machines in history.”
  279. On Saturday, WSJ reported James Barnes, the Facebook employee who was embedded in the Trump 2016 campaign and helped him win using its powerful tools, left Facebook and will work for Democrats in 2020.

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Fiona Hill, former senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, and David Holmes, political counselor for the US Embassy in Ukraine, are sworn in before testifying during the House Select Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry into Trump on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 134: CLOWN REGIME

JUNE 01, 2019

Week 133

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-133/
IMG_8674
Clown images of Mueller and 45. Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. 1jun19. artist: https://www.instagram.com/degrupo/

This week, special counsel Robert Mueller addressed the nation for the first time since the start of his investigation. Notably, Mueller said, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” contradicting Attorney General William Barr’s statements, and Trump’s repeated proclamations of “no obstruction.” Mueller resigned and closed the special counsel office, and seemed to pass the ball to Congress on whether to pursue charges against Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi demurred, but pressure built this week after Mueller’s appearance with 55 members of Congress backing an impeachment inquiry, up from 31 last week, including 13 of the 24 House Judiciary Committee members.

Trump exploded after Mueller’s appearance, seeking to discredit him and the investigation. Later, he shifted the narrative by starting a trade war with Mexico, invoking a decades old act to empower himself to impose tariffs over a so-called “national emergency” at our southern border. As the week came to a close, Trump’s Department of Justice thumbed its nose at a court order to produce documents related to Michael Flynn. The regime has now usurped both the legislative and judicial branch — seizing and consolidating power with increasingly authoritarian actions. Adding to the authoritarian feel were the continued attacks on the rights of marginalized communities and women, the stripping of protections for the environment, and a shocking discovery this week related to the 2020 census citizenship question. And yet, there has been no accountability or consequences for Trump, his family, and the remaining members of the regime.

IMG_8693
“P H O N Y.” Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. 1jun19.
  1. On Saturday, 2020 candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar told a crowd in Iowa that during Trump’s 2017 inauguration speech, the late Sen. John McCain “kept reciting” the names of dictators.
  2. On Saturday, during his trip to Japan, Trump sided with Kim Jong Un over his senior advisers, tweeting, “North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me.”
  3. Trump also tweeted: “I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me,” and sided with Kim over Joe Biden, saying he “smiled” when Kim “called Swampman Joe Biden a low IQ individual, & worse.”
  4. In Trump’s initial tweet, Trump misspelled Biden’s name, saying “Joe Bidan a low IQ individual.” Trump then deleted the tweet. Earlier in the week, North Korea had called Biden a “fool of low IQ” and an “imbecile.”
  5. Members of the regime sought to downplay recent North Korea tests. Japanese Prime Minister Abe has yet to meet with Kim, and therefore relies on the U.S. as an intermediary. The U.S. has 54,000 forces in Japan.
  6. Japan is threatened by North Korea’s short-range missiles. Trump has downplayed North Korea’s tests, saying they do not violate his agreement with Kim, since short-range missiles do not directly threaten the U.S.
  7. On Sunday, press secretary Sarah Sanders told “Meet the Press,” of Trump and Kim, “I think they agree in their assessment” of Biden, adding Trump “doesn’t need somebody else to give him an assessment of Joe Biden.”
  8. On Monday, Memorial Day, in a series of tweets during his visit to Japan, Trump said, “The Dems are getting NOTHING done in Congress!” adding, “they only want a Do-Over on Mueller!”
  9. Trump also tweeted, “Impeach for what, having created perhaps the greatest Economy in our Country’s history, rebuilding our Military, taking care of our Vets,” adding the “Dems are Obstructionists!
  10. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “I was actually sticking up for Sleepy Joe Biden while on foreign soil,” adding Kim called him a “low IQ idiot,” but he relayed the Kim’s quote “as a much softer “low IQ individual.””
  11. On Tuesday, NYT reported that during Trump’s four-day trip to Japan, despite red carpet treatment, Trump focused on politics at home rather than diplomacy, tweeting at every opportunity he had.
  12. Past precedent is for American officials traveling abroad to leave domestic politics at home once they leave. Trump spent his time attacking Democrats, his 2020 rivals, and his national security adviser John Bolton.
  13. On Tuesday, AP reported the Navy is reviewing whether members violated Defense Department policy or regulations by wearing an arm patch with the words “Make Aircrews Great Again” during Trump’s visit to Japan.
  14. On Thursday, WSJ reported a May 15 email from a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command official to U.S. Navy and Air Force officials said the “USS John McCain needs to be out of sight” ahead of Trump’s visit to Japan.
  15. The official who made the request said it was the result of conversations between the White House Military Office and the Navy. Reportedly Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan was aware of the concern.
  16. According to photos obtained by the Journal, a tarp was hung over the ship’s name ahead of Trump’s arrival, then the Navy used a barge to block the name and gave the sailors on the ship the day off.
  17. On Thursday, Trump tweeted, “I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan,” adding, “I loved being with our great Military Men and Women.”
  18. On Thursday, Trump reiterated to reporters, “I wasn’t involved. I would not have done that,” but said whoever kept the ship out of sight, “did it because they thought I didn’t like him. And they were well-meaning.”
  19. WAPO reported staffers did not want McCain’s name seen in photographs during Trump’s visit. Trump was not involved in the planning, but the request was reportedly made to keep him from becoming upset.
  20. Hours later, Trump discounted the story, tweeting: “The Navy put out a disclaimer on the McCain story. Looks like the story was an exaggeration, or even Fake News — but why not, everything else is!”
  21. On Thursday, Secretary Shanahan told reporters, “I would never dishonor the memory of a great American patriot like Sen. John McCain,” and “I’d never disrespect the young men and women that crew that ship.”
  22. The action was criticized by some Republican lawmakers. Meghan McCain tweeted: “It was named after my great grandfather and grandfather…and my father was added as namesake after he died. Get a life.”
  23. On Sunday, the Times drew criticism for a piece on Hope Hicks, featuring a glamorous photo of Hicks, and positing that she faced an “existential” question of whether she should comply with a congressional subpoena.
  24. On Sunday, Fox News host Chris Wallace challenged Sen. Lindsey Graham on “Fox New Sunday,” forcing him to watch clips of himself calling for the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton for ignoring subpoenas.
  25. Graham said on “Fox News Sunday” that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s job is “very much at risk,” adding, “Nancy Pelosi is riding a bucking, wild bronco called the Democratic caucus.”
  26. On Sunday, Rep. Liz Cheney told “This Week” that the beginnings of Mueller’s investigation were suspect and needed to be investigated, saying, “That sounds an awful lot like a coup and it could well be treason.”
  27. Rep. Cheney specified texts exchanged by Peter Strzok and Lisa Page that were critical of Trump, and named James Comey and Andrew McCabe for their roles in the investigation.
  28. On Monday, Trump tweeted a news article about Rep. Cheney’s remarks, adding, “Liz Cheney: Statements by agents investigating Trump ‘could well be treason.’”
  29. On Sunday, press secretary Sanders told “Meet the Press” there was an “outrageous amount of corruption that took place at the F.B.I. They leaked information. They lied,” and they wanted to take down Trump.
  30. On Sunday, Axios reported according to CrowdTangle, Trump’s Twitter interaction rate, a measure of the impact his tweets, has fallen precipitously, reaching a new low this month.
  31. Trump’s interaction rate, measured by retweets and likes per tweet, divided by size of following, has fallen from 0.55% in November 2016, to 0.32% in June 2017, and down to 0.16% in May 2019.
  32. The number of tweets sent has increased from 157 times per month during his first 6 months, to 284 times per month over the last 6 months. As of May 25, Trump is up to 343, sure to break his record in August of 348.
  33. Utah judge Michael Kwan was suspended for making anti-Trump comments in court and on Facebook, including referencing to the “Access Hollywood” tape and calling Trump’s time in office a “fascist takeover.”
  34. While Facebook continued to defend their choice not to remove altered videos of Speaker Pelosi, the platform banned artist Kate Kretz, who turned MAGA hats into symbols of hate such as a Nazi arm band or a KKK hood.
  35. On Tuesday, CNN reported Facebook executives Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg did not attend a hearing in Ottawa, ignoring a subpoena from Canadian parliament. The two risk being held in comtempt.
  36. On Wednesday, in her first interview on the matter, Speaker Pelosi said Facebook’s unwillingness to take the videos down shows its leaders were “willing enablers” of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  37. Pelosi also said, “We have said all along, poor Facebook, they were unwittingly exploited by the Russians,” but added, of the altered video, “I think it’s wrong,” and “I can take it . . . But [Facebook is] lying to the public.”
  38. On Wednesday, Vox reported cybersecurity firm FireEye revealed Facebook and Twitter removed thousands of accounts linked to Iran, which were impersonating Americans and GOP candidates for Congress.
  39. On Sunday, Nolan Brewer pleaded guilty to vandalizing Congregation Shaarey Tefilla, a synagogue in Indiana,with Nazi symbolism. Brewer was sentenced to three years in prison.
  40. Brewer detailed his road to radicalization to federal agents, including meeting with far-right group Identity Evropa, and being inspired by writings of former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro and the Nazi website Stormfront.
  41. On Sunday, the New York Post reported incoming college students are rejected schools in states with restrictive abortion laws. One admissions consultant had 61 clients remove Georgia and Ohio schools from their list.
  42. On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood said Missouri’s health department refused to renew its annual license to provide abortion. PP will close the state’s last abortion clinic, effectively ending legal abortion in Missouri.
  43. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court turned down an appeal of an Indiana law banning abortion on the basis of sex or disability, but upheld part of the same law requiring abortion providers to bury or cremate fetal remains.
  44. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his opinion: “From the beginning, birth control and abortion were promoted as a means of effectuating eugenics.” Observers noted Thomas left the door open to outlaw birth control.
  45. Vice President Mike Pence applauded the Supreme Court expanding “protections for the unborn,” tweeting he was “proud” to have signed the bill into law, and calling it “a victory for life.”
  46. On Wednesday, the Louisiana state house passed a bill banning abortion once a heartbeat is detectable, with no exception for a pregnancy due to rape or incest. The Democratic governor is expected to sign it.
  47. On Friday, a Missouri judge granted Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary restraining order against the state pulling its license. Missouri would have become the only state without a clinic that provides abortion.
  48. On Wednesday, Rewire News reported some pregnant migrant mothers in U.S. Marshals Services custody are not receiving adequate services, and are shackled when accessing prenatal care, giving birth, and postpartum care.
  49. Some mothers are forced to give their children up to Texas DFPS. A spokesperson claimed the protection agency may request temporary custody of the child when a parent or relative is not available to care for a child.
  50. On Thursday, NBC News reported Customs and Border Protection agents rounded up 1,036 migrants illegally crossing near El Paso early Wednesday, the largest group ever encountered; the previous record of 424 was set last month.
  51. On Thursday, Trump told reporters on the South Lawn that he was “going to do something very dramatic on the border” and it will be a “big league statement,” “my biggest statement, so far, on the border.”
  52. Trump also said he will not be closing the border, but that “the asylum procedures are ridiculous,” adding, “No place in the world has what we have in terms of ridiculous immigration laws.”
  53. On Thursday, Politico reported Trump is considering a draft proposal which would prohibit migrants from seeking asylum if they have resided in a country other than their own before arriving at the U.S. border.
  54. The proposal would effectively ban migrants from Central America from seeking asylum since almost all have had to undertake long journeys that traced through Mexico.
  55. On Friday, CNN reported an unannounced visit by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General to an El Paso, Texas Border Patrol processing facility found “dangerous overcrowding” and unsanitary conditions.
  56. The IG found “standing room only” conditions at facilities with a maximum capacity of 125 migrants. On May 7 and 8, logs indicated that there were “approximately 750 and 900 detainees, respectively.”
  57. The report stated, “We also observed detainees standing on toilets in the cells to make room and gain breathing space, thus limiting access to the toilets.” Cells held four to five times their capacity.
  58. The IG found Border Patrol managers were concerned about an “immediate risk to the health and safety” and faced decreasing morale, and stated the situation at the border is “an acute and worsening crisis.”
  59. On Tuesday, Rep. Steve King said at a town hall that not all cultures contribute equally to civilization, adding saying so is “devaluing” the Founding Fathers, and “It is not about race…It is about culture.”
  60. On Thursday, a white campground manager in Mississippi pulled a gun on a black couple setting up for a picnic, saying they did not have a reservation. After a video was posted on Facebook, the manager was fired.
  61. On Wednesday, Motherboard reported Twitter has started researching whether white supremacists should be banned from their platform, or be allowed to stay and have their ideas engaged.
  62. On Thursday, Politico reported the State Department quietly published a notice on the federal register that it will establish a new body called the Commission on Unalienable Rights to focus on human rights.
  63. The notice says the commission will provide “fresh thinking” where discourse has departed from “our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights” — raising alarm bells with LGBTQ advocates.
  64. On Thursday, New York City police said they were investigating an anti-Semitic message on a billboard at the Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn which read, “Hitler is coming.”
  65. According to the New York City Police Department, the city has seen a 67% increase in hate crimes from April 2018 to April 2019. Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the incident investigated as a hate crime.
  66. On Thursday, Fox News host Laura Ingraham, countering Pelosi’s complaints about the altered video on Facebook, defended extremists who have been banned, including white supremacist Paul Nehlen.
  67. Nehlen describes himself as “pro-white,” and has said we need to “rid white lands of Jews.” After public outcry, Fox News defended Ingraham in a statement, saying she is “a fierce protector of freedom of speech.”
  68. On Friday, on Ingraham’s show, Rudy Guiliani claimed he canceled his trip to meet Ukraine’s new president, who is Jewish, because he is “surrounded by Soros people, Democrats, and people trying to set us up.”
  69. On Saturday, WAPO reported the Trump regime will end the Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers program which trains disadvantaged young people for wildland fire fighting and other jobs in rural communities.
  70. Over 1,100 job center workers will lose their jobs at the soon-to-be-closed centers. WAPO reported the closings will result in the largest number of federal job cuts in a decade. No reason was given for the cuts.
  71. On Monday, NYT reported on the Trump regime hardening its attack on climate science. In the coming months, Trump will complete the rollback of federal efforts to curb greenhouse-gas emissions initiated by Obama.
  72. Trump is described as an “armchair naysayer” on climate change, and has been influenced by friends and donors including Carl Icahn, who owns oil refineries, and Harold Hamm, an oil-and-gas billionaire.
  73. Trump appointee James Reilly, director of the United States Geological Survey, ordered using computer models that project the impact of climate change through 2040, not the end of the century as was previously done.
  74. Scientists say this is misleading, since the planet is expected to warm at the same rate through 2050, but depending on carbon emissions levels, the rate of warming through is the end of the century is highly variable.
  75. The regime is also targeting the National Climate Assessment, a report that has been produced every four years since 2000. The next report, due in 2021 or 2022, will not automatically include worst case scenarios.
  76. The regime is setting up a climate review panel, led by a climate change denier, William Happer, who serves on the National Security Council, and along with John Bolton, has been funded by Robert and Rebekah Mercer.
  77. On Tuesday, WSJ reported Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s financial disclosure forms show she still owns shares of Vulcan Materials Co., more than a year after she said she would divest her stake.
  78. Bloomberg reported Kushner Cos got $800 million of financing backed by Freddie Mac to buy apartments in Maryland and Virginia — the company’s biggest purchase in a decade.
  79. Prior to Kushner taking a White House role, Kushner Cos had roughly $500 million in loans from Fannie and Freddie. Trump appointed Joseph Otting, former CEO of Steve Mnuchin’s OneWest Bank, to oversee the agency.
  80. Over Memorial Day weekend, the group We Build The Wall, through which veteran Brian Kolfage raised millions on a GoFundMe page, started construction of a private wall along the New Mexico-Mexico border.
  81. About half a mile of steel fencing was put up on land owned by American Eagle Brick Co. Fisher Sand & Gravel, the North Dakota company Trump has been pushing to build his wall, did the construction.
  82. On Tuesday, the town government of Sunland Park, New Mexico ordered the group to stop construction, saying it lacked necessary permits. We Build The Wall stopped construction on Wednesday.
  83. On Monday, Republican leaders in the Senate, including Sens. Lindsey Graham, John Corynyn, and Thom Tillis, vowed to quickly quash any impeachment charges. The three are up for re-election in 2020.
  84. On Tuesday, the Guardian reported a new book by author Michael Wolff claims Mueller prepared a three-count obstruction of justice indictment, but decided to shelve it. A special counsel spokesperson denied it.
  85. On Tuesday, in a 25-tweet post, Rep. Justin Amash accused Attorney General William Barr of using his post “to sell the president’s false narrative to the American people.”
  86. On Tuesday, at a town hall of 700 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Amash was greeted by a standing ovation. Amash said, “I think it’s really important that we do our job as Congress. That we would not allow misconduct to go undeterred.”
  87. On Tuesday, Democrats in the House and Senate told U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan they would like to pursue getting Trump’s personal financial records and corporate records in their emoluments lawsuit.
  88. Democrats claim they have not been able to consider and approve business proceeds from foreign governments, and are requesting documents from banks, the Trump Org, and his trust account beginning in late June.
  89. On Tuesday, Roger Stone tried and failed for a second time to get his criminal case moved to a new judge, citing his case was not related to a separate criminal case against Russian military officers.
  90. On Tuesday, bowing to a request by CNN, the DOJ agreed in federal court to publicly release lists describing hundreds of miscellaneous court actions, such as search warrants, used in the Mueller investigation
  91. On Tuesday, Trump cautioned Roy Moore, who is considering running for the senate again in 2020, tweeting: “Republicans cannot allow themselves to again lose the Senate seat in the Great State of Alabama.”
  92. In his last run for Senate, Trump backed Moore, who is accused of seeking out multiple teen girls while in his 30s. Moore said Wednesday, “There’s a lot I have to offer,” adding, “Everything seems to be very favorable.”
  93. On Wednesday, Moore struck back at Trump, telling Politico: “The president doesn’t control who votes for the United States Senate in Alabama,” adding, “They know I’ll win. That’s why they’re upset.”
  94. On Tuesday, the new State Department spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus, said she would resume news briefings, saying she would answer questions almost every weekday when not traveling with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
  95. Since Eisenhower, State Department daily briefings were the norm. Under Trump, the briefings shrank to twice a week or less, some weeks none at all. The Department of Defense has gone almost a year without a briefing.
  96. On Wednesday, the DOJ announced Mueller would hold a press conference at 11 a.m. EST. Barr and Trump’s aides were notified Tuesday evening. Barr was in Alaska, and Trump watched from the White House.
  97. Mueller spoke to the public for the first time since his investigation began, and in remarks that lasted for just under 10 minutes, announced he was resigning and closing the special counsel’s office.
  98. Mueller said his office did not “make a determination,” saying DOJ policy prohibits charging a sitting president with a crime, seeming to counter Barr who said evidence was insufficient to warrant a prosecution.
  99.  Mueller seemed to pass the responsibility to Congress, saying “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”
  100. Mueller also raised eyebrows by saying, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” This statement contradicted Barr’s public statements and Trump’s narrative.
  101. Mueller said he and Barr had disagreed over whether to release his team’s summaries, but said, “I certainly do not question the attorney general’s good faith in that decision,” and complimented him releasing the report.
  102. Mueller said he did not want to comment further in public, saying, “The report is my testimony,” and adding, “I am making that decision myself. No one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further.”
  103. Mueller opened and closed his remarks commenting on Russian interference in the 2016 election, saying there were “multiple, systematic efforts” and that “allegation deserves the attention of every American.”
  104. Shortly after Mueller finished, Trump tweeted, “Nothing changes from the Mueller Report,” adding, “There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you.”
  105. Press secretary Sanders said, “We consider this case closed,” and downplayed the appearance, saying Mueller “has closed his office and it’s time for everybody to move on.”
  106. Speaker Pelosi resisted calls for impeachment, saying, “You don’t bring an impeachment unless you have all the facts,” adding we need an “ironclad case that even the Republican Senate…will be convinced.”
  107. Speaker Pelosi said “the press makes more a of a fuss,” saying “it’s like 35…maybe its 38 out of 238” House members who are for impeachment, adding, “but we want to do what’s right and what gets results.”
  108. Mueller’s remarks also pushed three more Democratic 2020 presidential candidates to call for impeachment, making 10 out of 23. Rep. Amash said, “The ball is in our court, Congress.”
  109. Late Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “How do you impeach a Republican President for a crime that was committed by the Democrats? WITCH-HUNT!”
  110. On Thursday, in a series of tweets, Trump attacked Mueller referencing “the Greatest Presidential Harassment in history,” and falsely claiming Mueller spent “$40,000,000 over two dark years.”
  111. Trump also accused Mueller of having a personal vendetta against him, calling him “highly conflicted” and said he “would have brought charges, if he had ANYTHING, but there were no charges to bring!”
  112. Trump also tweeted: “Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax,” adding, “now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.”
  113. In an earlier version of the tweet that was deleted, Trump said, “I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.” This was his first public acknowledgment that Russia interfered expressly to help him.
  114. Trump also tweeted, “So now the Dems and their partner, the Fake News Media, say he fought back against this phony crime that didn’t exist,” and “Could this be Obstruction? No, Mueller didn’t find Obstruction either.”
  115. A half-hour later, Trump told reporters, “No, Russia did not help me get elected,”adding “You know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia didn’t help me at all. Russia, if anything, I think, helped the other side.”
  116. Trump also told reporters that Mueller was “totally conflicted” and “a true never-Trumper,” adding, “Robert Mueller should have never been chosen” by former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.
  117. Trump said Mueller was “totally conflicted” because he had discussions about the position of FBI director, and is friendly with James Comey. “He loves Comey. Whether it’s love or a deep like, he was conflicted.”
  118. Trump also cited an unidentified “business dispute” with Mueller. It has been previously reported that the White House alleges a dispute over membership fees at Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia.
  119. Trump said of Democrats advocating for impeachment, “It’s a dirty, filthy, disgusting word, and it has nothing to do with me,” adding, “There was no high crime, and there was no misdemeanor.”
  120. Afterwards, Trump tweeted, “Robert Mueller came to the Oval Office…seeking to be named the Director of the FBI,” and “I told him NO. The next day he was named Special Counsel — A total Conflict of Interest.”
  121. Trump’s use of “Russia, Russia, Russia” was widely mocked and referenced by Dictionary.com, which tweeted, “Palilogy is a word that describes the technique of repeating a word or phrase for emphasis.”
  122. CNN fact-checked Trump’s morning statements and tweets and found 21 lies and falsehoods about the Russia investigation, Mueller’s findings, the cost of the probe, and the legal restrictions that Mueller faced.
  123. As of Thursday evening, 50 House members were in favor of starting an impeachment inquiry of Trump, including five committee chairs, 11 members of the House Judiciary Committee, and one Republican.
  124. On Thursday, a Republican group, the Republicans for the Rule of Law, said it would hand-deliver copies of the Mueller report to every Republican member of Congress with sections highlighted.
  125. On Friday, “CBS This Morning” aired Barr’s first network interview. The interview was taped Thursday from Alaska the day after Mueller spoke publicly. Barr appeared in casual attire by a fireplace.
  126. Barr countered Mueller’s public statement, saying, “The opinion says you cannot indict a president while he is in office,” but added Mueller “could’ve reached a decision as to whether it was criminal activity.”
  127. Barr said Mueller “had his reasons for not doing it, which he explained and I am not going to, you know, argue about those reasons,” but added he and Rosenstein “felt it was necessary” for them to make a decision on the issue.
  128. Barr also said he did not understand what Mueller meant when he seemed to refer the investigation to Congress, saying, “The Department of Justice doesn’t use our powers of investigating crimes as an adjunct to Congress.”
  129. When asked about his reputation, “You’re now someone who’s accused of protecting the president, enabling the president, lying to Congress,” Barr responded, “I don’t care about my legacy,” adding,“I’ll be dead.”
  130. Barr added, “we live in a crazy, hyperpartisan period of time,” saying he would be “attacked because nowadays people don’t care about the merits or the substance, they only care about who it helps.”
  131. Barr also criticized the media for allegedly ignoring surveillance of the Trump campaign, saying, “Normally the media would be interested in letting the sunshine in and finding out what the truth is.”
  132. As of Friday, 55 House members were in favor of starting an impeachment inquiry, including 13 of the 24members of the House Judiciary Committee.
  133. On Thursday, just before the Supreme Court was set to rule likely in favor of adding a new citizenship question to the 2020 census, new evidence was found in the files of GOP redistricting strategist Thomas Hofeller.
  134. Hofeller, who was known as the “Michelangelo of gerrymandering, the architect of partisan political maps” died last summer. His estranged daughter found the files while sorting through his personal effects.
  135. Hofeller urged Mark Neuman, his friend for decades and part of Trump’s transition team, to consider the census question. Neuman later became an informal adviser on census issues to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
  136. Files cited his 2015 study which found adding a citizenship question would allow Republicans to draft even more extreme gerrymandered maps to give a structural advantage to ‘Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.’
  137. Hofeller wrote a key part of the DOJ letter claiming the question was needed to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the rationale used by the regime for adding the question. The regime hid Hofeller’s involvement.
  138. The documents were included in a federal court filing on Thursday by opponents of the question, and represent the clearest evidence to date that the Trump regime added the question to advance Republican interests.
  139. The filing also sought sanctions against the defendants in the lawsuit, led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who were accused of misrepresentations “on the central issues of this case.”
  140. On Friday, the NYT Editorial Board said in an op-ed that the Trump regime lied about the census, calling on the Supreme Court to see these actions as “a blatant attempt to rig a constitutional mandate.”
  141. On Wednesday, the Miami Herald reported federal prosecutors in Washington D.C. subpoenaed Trump’s Mar-a-Lago and Trump Victory, a political fundraising committee, for records relating to donor Cindy Yang.
  142. Yang has drawn scrutiny for allegedly trying to sell Chinese citizens access to the Trump regime. Bing Bing Peranio and several others who had donated to Trump were also named in the subpoenas.
  143. Prosecutors also sought information on at least eight Trump-related events that Yang advertised to Chinese clients, including five that gave proceeds to Trump Victory for Trump’s re-election.
  144. On Thursday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson certified that the federal government now owns condo 43G in Trump Tower, which was seized from Paul Manafort as part of the Mueller probe.
  145. On Thursday, late in the day, Trump said he would impose a 5% tariff on Mexican imports beginning June 10 unless Mexico stopped the flow of illegal immigrants coming to the U.S. border.
  146. The White House added tariffs would increase to 10% on July 1, then an additional 5% on the first day of each month, reaching 25% “until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory.”
  147. The White House cited the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers which gives Trump power to impose tariffs on countries if he cites a “national emergency,” as he did months ago for the southern border.
  148. WAPO reported White House officials were caught off guard by the announcement which seemed to escalateon Thursday afternoon, after Trump’s morning storm on Mueller.
  149. Some aides tried to talk Trump out of imposing tariffs, saying it would undermine passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal, which was just sent to Congress.
  150. Republican senators also warned Trump Mexico tariffs could blow up the USMCA trade deal. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst from farm state Iowa expressed concern about the impact on the agriculture community.
  151. In a harsh letter late Thursday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told Trump “social problems can’t be resolved through taxes or coercive measures,” adding, “The statue of liberty is not an empty symbol.”
  152. On Thursday, Costco’s chief financial officer said the retailer is starting to see the effect of Trump’s trade war with China, as consumers are beginning to see higher prices for goods like furniture, bikes, and luggage.
  153. On Friday, Trump brushed back criticism, tweeting: “In order not to pay Tariffs, if they start rising, companies will leave Mexico,” adding Mexico has taken “30 percent of our Auto Industry…come back home to the USA.”
  154. Trump tweeted tariffs are about “stopping drugs as well as illegals!” adding, “90 percent of the Drugs” come from Mexico and our southern border, and “80,000 people died last year, 1,000,000 people ruined.”
  155. CNBC reported Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and top trade advisor Robert Lighthizer opposed Trump’s surprise move to impose tariffs — it was pushed by Stephen Miller as a way to counter the surge in border crossings.
  156. On Friday, the Dow dropped more than 350 points, with shares of the Big three auto makers, railroads, and consumer goods companies dropping sharply. Mexico is one of the U.S.’s largest trading partners.
  157. On Friday, CNBC reported business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are considering legal options, including suing the White House over Trump’s new tariffs.
  158. On Friday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson advocated for Trump’s tariffs, saying, “When the United States is attacked by a hostile foreign power, it must strike back. And make no mistake, Mexico is a hostile foreign power.”
  159. On Friday, Trump said in a proclamation that the regime would end India’s special trade treatment, removing the country’s designation as a beneficiary developing country.
  160. On Friday, the deadline for Judge Emmett Sullivan’s order related to Michael Flynn, the DOJ turned over a voice mail recording, but failed to comply with turning over recordings of his calls with Russian officials.
  161. The DOJ cited as rationale that it did not rely on the recordings to establish Flynn’s guilt or in his sentencing. The DOJ also failed to release unredacted portions of the Mueller report related to Flynn as ordered.
  162. Sullivan had ordered that the materials be made public, including transcripts and recording of any conversations Flynn has with Russian officials, including his December 2016 conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
  163. Prosecutors provided only one item, a transcript of a November 2017 call between Trump attorney John Dowd and Flynn attorney Rob Kelner, much of which was already made public in the Mueller report.
  164. Dowd possibly obstructed justice saying, “I understand your situation, but let me see if I can’t state it in starker terms,” adding, if “there’s information that implicates the President, then we’ve got a national security issue.”
  165. On Friday, in the criminal case against Flynn’s former business partner Bijan Rafiekian, a memo that was part of the Mueller probe revealed Flynn’s Turkish client complained about Trump’s stance during the campaign.
  166. Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman, paid Flynn $500,000 to advance Turkish government interests. The October 2016 memo says, “Start a strategic outreach campaign for the next President…regardless of party.”
  167. The memo also indicated that part of the work was investigating alleged financial ties between schools and supporters of Gulen, a cleric the Turkey wanted the U.S. to extradite, and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
  168. On Monday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz was ousted by parliament in a no-confidence vote, making the center-right politician the shortest-serving chancellor since 1945 with just 525 days in office.
  169. The ousting comes after Austria’s vice chancellor resigned in Week 131 after a video emerged showing him offering government contracts to a purported Russian investor in exchange for campaign donations.
  170. On Wednesday, Boris Johnson, the leading candidate to succeed Theresa May as British Prime Minister, was ordered to appear in court to face summons on three counts of misconduct relating to alleged Brexit lies.
  171. On Wednesday, Israel’s Parliament voted to dissolve itself. The country will hold an unprecedented second election after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition.
  172. On Wednesday, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in speech that Russia is “probably” not adhering to an international treaty banning nuclear weapons testing.
  173. Russia rebuked the accusation with Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign relations, saying, “Unfounded accusations from the mouths of the Americans have already become an absurd norm in international affairs.”
  174. On Thursday, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported North Korea executed Kim Hyok Chol, North Korea’s special envoy to the U.S., along with three other foreign ministry officials over the failed Hanoi summit.
  175. Another official, Kim Jong Un’s top deputy, Kim Yong Chol, was sentenced to hard labor. The five were accused of spying for the U.S. for “poorly reporting on the negotiations without properly grasping U.S. intentions.”
  176. On Friday, Secretary of State Pompeo told reporters in Germany, “We’ve seen the reporting…We’re doing our best to check it out.” On May 5, Pompeo smirked when asked about the execution on ABC’s “This Week.”
  177. On Friday, Bloomberg reported that Trump is expected to face thousands of protestors when he visits the U.K. next week. Protestors are also planning to fly another giant balloon depicting Trump as an orange baby.
  178. On Friday, speaking to British tabloid The Sun, Trump said he was surprised Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, called him “divisive” and “misogynistic” in 2016, saying, “I didn’t know that she was nasty.”
  179. On Friday, Trump ally Alan Dershowitz said in an op-ed that the Supreme Court could overrule impeachmentif the House were to impeach Trump despite his not having committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
  180. On Saturday, Speaker Pelosi spoke at the California Democratic Party convention in San Francisco. A person in the crowd shouted, “Impeach!,” which soon became dozens shouting, then close to a hundred chanting.
  181. Pelosi said Congress would continue to aggressively investigate Trump and his regime, saying, “What is the president covering up?” adding, “We must investigate the president’s welcoming of the assault on our democracy.”
  182. Pelosi added, “Mueller warned us in the starkest terms that there was an attack on our election and an attack on our democracy,” questioning, “Why won’t the president defend us from this attack?
  183. On Saturday, beginning in the evening and ending on Sunday, New Neighborhood, Slightly Altered States, and other arts and media companies hosted a public reading of the Mueller report in Queens, NY.

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller makes a statement about the Russia investigation in his first public appearance on May 29, 2019 at the Justice Department in Washington, DC.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 133: “ALARMING POWERS”

MAY 25, 2019

Week 132

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember. https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-132/
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“IMPEACH” sticker in Times Square, NYC. 23may19.

This week the first Republican, Rep. Justin Amash, came out for impeaching Trump. While Trump allies sought to attack and punish Amash to avoid further defections, momentum grew among the House Democratic caucus for impeachment hearings. Feeling the pressure Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended staying focused on policy, but directly attacked Trump for a “cover-up,” leading Trump to storm out of a scheduled meeting with Democratic leaders, saying he refused to work with them until they stop investigating him. The two leaders publicly battled, as altered videos of Pelosi appeared online, a redux of false attacks on Hillary Clinton’s mental acumen used in 2016.

In authoritarian-type moves, Trump granted his attorney general alarming powers to investigate the investigators. Trump bypassed Congress, invoking a national emergency again to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, and “joked” about serving up to five terms in office. Trump continued to stonewall House oversight as Trump prevented Don McGahn from testifying, and appealed rulings thwarting his efforts to block the release of financial documents from Mazars USA and Deutsche Bank.

This week the war on women’s reproductive rights continued, while the regime quietly stripped protections from the LGBTQ community. A sixth immigrant was reported to have died in U.S. government custody in the last eight months — this, the second death hidden by the Trump regime until uncovered by the press. Speaker Pelosi noted in ten years not a single child died in custody at the border.

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A sticker depicting the TREASONOUS relationship between 45 and Saudi Arabia. New York City. 22may19.
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ILLEGITIMATE. Sticker in New York City. 22may19.
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Flag flying outside of a Firehouse in NYC. A solemn reminder of the courage and sacrifice of many, protecting a country which is being sold to the highest bidder by an incompetent con man. 24may19. 
  1. The Times tallied 29 open investigations related to Trump, including ten federal criminal investigations, eight state and local investigations, and 11 Congressional investigations.
  2. On Saturday, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash became the first Republican to say Trump committed impeachable offenses, and that Attorney General William Barr “deliberately misrepresented” the Mueller report.
  3. In a series of tweets, Amash said: “Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.”
  4. Amash tweeted, “Few members of Congress” read Mueller’s report, and “America’s institutions depend on officials to uphold both the rules and spirit of our constitutional system” even when “personally inconvenient.”
  5. On Saturday, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel slammed Amash for “parroting the Democrats’ talking points on Russia,” and subtly threatened a primary challenge in 2020.
  6. On Sunday, Trump attacked Rep. Amash, tweeting: “Never a fan of @justinamash,” calling him “a total lightweight” and “a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!”
  7. Trump also tweeted, “If he actually read the biased Mueller Report, “composed” by 18 Angry Dems who hated Trump” he would find “NO COLLUSION and, ultimately, NO OBSTRUCTION.”
  8. On Sunday, Michigan state Rep. Jim Lower said he would primary Amash, saying in a statement, “I am a Pro-Trump, Pro-Life, Pro-Jobs, Pro-2nd Amendment, Pro-Family Values Republican.”
  9. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accused Amash of being a closet Democrat, while the WAPO Editorial Board celebrated him, saying, “Could this be … a Republican with backbone?”
  10. On Monday, Amash doubled down, saying in a 20 tweet thread
    “some of the president’s actions were inherently corrupt,” adding, “Other actions were corrupt — and therefore impeachable.”
  11. On Monday, in an evening vote, the House Freedom Caucus voted to formally condemn Amash, one of its founding members, but stopped short of kicking him out of the group.
  12. On Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff told “Face the Nation” that impeachment hearings could be an “additional tool” to get information, adding the House is “gradually escalating the tactics.”
  13. On Sunday, Guardian reported U.S. prosecutors will be given open access by Ecuadorian officials to Julian Assange’s possessions during his time living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
  14. On Sunday, Trump threatened Iran, tweeting: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” It was unclear what prompted the tweet, perhaps Fox News segments.
  15. On Monday, when asked by reporters about Iran, Trump said he had seen “no indication that anything is happening or will happen,” adding, “But if it does it will be met with great force.”
  16. On Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to reject a Democratic proposal to requirecongressional approval before Trump can take military action against Iran. Only GOP Sen. Rand Paul voted for it.
  17. On Sunday, NYT reported anti-money-laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving Trump and Kushner be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog.
  18. The transactions, including some by Trump’s foundation, set off computer systems alerts. Staffers prepared suspicious activity reports which should have been sent to the Treasury Department unit policing financial crimes.
  19. At least some transactions involved money flowing back and forth with overseas entities or individuals. Staffers were overruled by executives and the SAR reports were never filed.
  20. Tammy McFadden, an experienced staffer in the bank’s Jacksonville office, said she found money had moved from Kushner Companies to Russian individuals, and wanted to report the transactions. She was later fired.
  21. Typically SAR reports are reviewed by a team of anti-money laundering experts. Instead the reports went to private banking relationship managers in New York who said McFadden’s concerns were unfounded and did not file SARs.
  22. Several anti-money laundering staffers who complained about the processes to the head of the bank’s financial crimes investigations division in Jacksonville were ignored and criticized for having a negative attitude.
  23. On Monday, is a series of five tweets, Trump attacked the Times for its reporting, saying, “The Failing New York Times (it will pass away when I leave office in 6 years),” adding, “keep writing phony stories.”
  24. Trump also tweeted, “When you don’t need or want money, you don’t need or want banks,” adding, “Fake Media only says this to disparage, and always uses unnamed sources (because their sources don’t even exist.)”
  25. Trump also tweeted, “The Mainstream Media has never been as corrupt and deranged as it is today,” adding, “FAKE NEWS is actually the biggest story of all and is the true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!
  26. On Monday, Deutsche Bank shares fell nearly 3%, down 5% since the start of the year — hitting a record low amid downgrades.
  27. On Wednesday, Deutsche Bank management said it used faulty software to detect money laundering. The bank nonetheless maintained that no suspicious transactions had been missed as a result.
  28. On Monday, the White House counsel blocked Don McGahn from testifying before the House Judiciary Committee scheduled for Tuesday, citing a Department of Justice opinion.
  29. The 15-page legal opinion argued McGahn cannot be compelled to testify based on past DOJ legal opinionsregarding the president’s close advisers, and his immunity is broader than a claim of executive privilege.
  30. As a private citizen, McGahn was not bound by an Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memo to refuse to comply with a subpoena, but McGahn’s lawyer, William Burck, said in a letter that McGahn would not testify.
  31. On Monday, Rep. David Cicilline, a member of House Democratic leadership who serves on the Judiciary Committee, said if McGahn does not testify, the panel should open an impeachment inquiry into Trump.
  32. On Monday, WAPO reported Michael Cohen told a House panel at closed-door hearings that Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow instructed him to falsely claim Trump Tower Moscow negotiations ended on January 31, 2016.
  33. Cohen testified in February and March 2019 before the House Intelligence Committee. Sekulow called Cohen’s claim “completely false.” The four lawyers Schiff sent requests to last week cited attorney-client privilege.
  34. On Monday, the House Intelligence Committee voted 12-7 to release Cohen’s testimony. Cohen said Jared and Ivanka’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, also reviewed his testimony and was aware of the “false” statements.
  35. Cohen said, through an intermediary, Lowell reached out to tell Cohen to edit his testimony to distance himself from Ivanka in the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations.
  36. Cohen also said he discussed the possibility of a pardon with Sekulow and Robert Costello, an intermediary for Rudy Giuliani. Costello wrote in an email to Cohen, “Sleep well tonight, you have friend in high places.”
  37. Cohen said in his testimony that Trump had read his written testimony, which was false, before it was provided to Congress, with Sekulow saying the client likes it and that is good.
  38. On Monday, federal judge Amit Mehta ruled Mazars USA, Trump’s accounting firm, must turn over Trump’s financial records to the House Oversight Committee — an early judicial test of Trump’s stonewall tactic.
  39. Mehta wrote, “It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct.”
  40. The judge also drew comparisons to former president James Buchanan, generally considered by historians to be one of the country’s worst leaders, who he said also complained bitterly about “harassing” congressional inquiries.
  41. The judge also denied Trump’s lawyer’s request that he issue a stay of his ruling until the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia completed its review of the case.
  42. Trump told reporters Monday he would appeal the ruling, saying, “totally the wrong decision by obviously an Obama-appointed judge,” adding it was “crazy” because “this never happened to any other president.”
  43. On Monday, Chair Jerry Nadler told CNN if McGahn does not show, the “first thing we are going to do is hold McGahn in contempt.” Nadler issued a letter to McGahn Monday evening saying he expected him to appear.
  44. On Monday, Politico reported during a closed-door leadership meeting in Speaker Pelosi’s office, Democrats clashed over impeachment, with Pelosi and her allies rejecting the call to move forward for now.
  45. Three leaders, Reps. Cicilline, Jamie Raskin, and Joe Neguse pushed to begin impeachment proceedings. Pelosi and her allies argued the majority of Democrats do not want impeachment.
  46. At a Steering and Policy Committee meeting, Rep. Steve Cohen called for impeachment. Pelosi said, “This isn’t about politics at all. It’s about patriotism. It’s about the strength we need to have to see things through.”
  47. Pelosi and her allies argue anti-Trump fervor is overwhelming messaging on their agenda, and most House members are against it. Also impeaching in the House and acquitting in the Senate would strengthen Trump’s hand.
  48. WAPO reported at least five members of Pelosi’s leadership team are pushing for impeachment, including four on the Judiciary Committee. Nadler met with Pelosi and made the case to start the inquiry.
  49. The Indianapolis Star reported dozens of graduates walked out in protest at a commencement address by Vice President Mike Pence at Taylor University. The school had debated the appropriateness of his appearance.
  50. On Monday, BuzzFeed reported Immigration and Customs Enforcement is detaining 52,398 migrants, a record high. Earlier in May, the average daily population was 46,873.
  51. On Monday, NBC News reported Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, a 16 year-old from Guatemala, died in Customs and Border Protection custody at the Weslaco Border Patrol Station in south Texas.
  52. Vasquez was diagnosed with the flu the day before, and was unresponsive Monday morning during a welfare check. He is the fifth migrant child to die in U.S. custody since December.
  53. On Wednesday, CBP temporarily closed the migrant facility, saying “a large number” of people in custody were found to have high fevers.
  54. On Wednesday, AP reported the Pentagon will build temporary shelter at the U.S.-Mexican border for at least 7,500 adult migrants in ICE custody, following a request by the Department of Homeland Security. The military will not operate the facilities.
  55. On Wednesday, CBS News reported a 10 year-old girl from El Salvador died in U.S. custody on September 29, 2018. Her death, the sixth known in the past eight months, was not previously reported.
  56. On Thursday, Speaker Pelosi said at a news conference, “It’s important to note that in the 10 years before this, not a single child died in custody at the border. Now, 6 children have died in the last several months.”
  57. On Thursday, BuzzFeed reported the ACLU of Texas sued the U.S. government over the fatal CBP shooting of Claudia Patricia Gómez González, a 20 year-old Guatemalan woman, in May 2018.
  58. On Monday, AL.com reported Alabama Public Television refused to air an episode of the animated series “Arthur” which featured a gay wedding, choosing to re-run an episode in the slot instead.
  59. On Monday, CNN reported Muhlaysia Booker, a transgender woman whose brutal assault was captured on video in April in a possible hate crime, was found dead by the Dallas police after being shot.
  60. On Tuesday, two dozen states, cities, and counties sued the Trump regime over its new rule which would shield health care workers who refuse medical procedures if it violates their “conscience.”
  61. The lawsuit argued the new rule would have dire effects for patients who depend on government assistance, particularly low-income people of color, women, and LGBTQ people
  62. On Wednesday, a HUD proposal would gut protections for transgender people at homeless shelters, allowing taxpayer-funded shelters “to consider a range of factors,” such as religious beliefs, for whom they admit.
  63. On Friday, the Trump regime’s Health and Human Services department moved to revoke transgender health protection by removing “gender identity” as protected under federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination in health care.
  64. The move is the latest in a series targeted at the LGBTQ community, including in the military, housing, and healthcare, and would reverse an Obama-era policy the regime is already not enforcing.
  65. On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the House Financial Services Committee the redesign of the $20 bill to add Harriet Tubman, announced in April 2016 by Obama’s Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, will be delayed until 2028.
  66. Trump had said in 2016 of removing his hero Andrew Jackson, “ I think it’s very rough when you take somebody off the bill.” Mnuchin also said, “The $10 and the $50 will come out with new features beforehand.”
  67. CNN reported the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to Aid Access, a European organization that provide doctor-prescribed abortion pills by mail, to stop deliveries.
  68. On Wednesday, NPR reported that anti-abortion groups, fueled by passage of the Alabama abortion ban, are reconsidering decades-old talking points on exceptions for rape and incest.
  69. In a letter to RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, one anti-abortion group wrote: “A child conceived in rape is still a child. We don’t blame children for other matters outside their control. Why should we do so here?”
  70. On Friday, a federal judge in Mississippi temporarily blocked a state law which would have banned abortion after six weeks. The same judge had blocked a ban at 15 weeks last November.
  71. On Friday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed legislation banning abortion at eight weeks into law. The Missouri law has an exception for medical emergencies, but not for rape and incest.
  72. On Wednesday, Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley warned people to avoid Dayton’s downtown area on Saturday, as the city braced for a rally organized by a group with ties to the Ku Klux Klan.
  73. On Friday, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston apologized after students from a middle school where the majority are Latino or Black on a field trip were told by a staff member “no food, no drink, no watermelon.”
  74. After reviewing footage of the visit, the museum found other visitors made racist comments to the students. Those identified had their membership revoked or will be banned from visiting.
  75. On Monday, NYT reported Kris Kobach has given the White House a list of 10 demands if he is to become the regime’s “immigration czar,” including a jet on call, weekends off, and becoming secretary of homeland security.
  76. On Tuesday, the Nevada state senate voted to join 14 other states in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact to pledge their electors to the candidate with the most nationwide popular votes.
  77. The measure now moves to the state’s Democratic governor who has not indicated if he will sign it. Nevada, with its six electoral votes, would bring the total to 195. Once 270 electors are pledged, the compact would kick in.
  78. On Monday, at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, Trump joked about serving a fifth term: “if things keep going like they’re going — we’ll go and we’ll do what we have to do: we’ll do a three and a four and a five.”
  79. On Monday, the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General found Secretary Betsy DeVos used her personal email account for “a limited number of emails” — fewer than 100 — from January 2017 to April 2018.
  80. On Tuesday, at a House Financial Services Committee hearing, HUD Secretary Ben Carson confused a question about REO, or “real estate owned,” with the sandwich cookie, Oreo.
  81. After the hearing, Carson tweeted at Rep. Katie Porter who asked the question, “OH, REO! Thanks, @RepKatiePorter. Enjoying a few post-hearing snacks. Sending some your way!” with a photo of the cookies.
  82. On Tuesday, Rachel Maddow reported Wendy Vitter, the controversial judge confirmed in Week 130, was rushed through by Mitch McConnell weeks after her husband alerted him a big investment by Rusal for Kentucky.
  83. On Wednesday, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that Russian President Vladimir Putin out-prepared Trump in a key meeting in Hamburg, Germany in 2017.
  84. Tillerson said what was supposed to be a exchange of pleasantries ballooned into a two-hour-plus meeting spanning the globe. A committee aide recounted that “Putin seized every opportunity to push what he wanted.”
  85. Tillerson also said Jared Kushner that should have consulted more often with State Department colleagues, saying his lack of knowledge of history exposed him to being outmaneuvered.
  86. On Thursday, Trump attacked Tillerson on Twitter, calling him “a man who is “dumb as a rock” and totally ill prepared,” and adding, “I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!”
  87. On Thursday, WAPO reported Trump has repeatedly asked the Army Corps of Engineers to award a border wall contract to a Fisher Industries, a North Dakota construction firm whose CEO is a GOP donor and on Fox News.
  88. On a call made from Air Force One, Trump aggressively pushed Fischer to DHS leaders and the commanding general of the Army Corps. DHS and military officials are reportedly concerned by Trump pushing the company.
  89. Trump called the commanding general to the Oval Office on Thursday and again brought up Fischer first thing. Fischer sued the U.S. government last month after the Army did not accept its bid for part of the wall.
  90. Fischer is building fencing in New Mexico, and their machinery was seen in El Paso, Texas. The company’s CEO Tommy Fischer has gone on conservative media and met with members of Congress to push their services.
  91. Jared Kushner has also been pushing for Fischer. An aide said Trump was told the company was cheaper than others and could build the wall faster, and that he frequently sees Fischer on Fox News.
  92. On Tuesday, Trump’s attorney filed a notice of appeal for federal judge Mehta’s ruling on Mazars. The case will be heard by Merrick Garland, the chief judge at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
  93. On Tuesday, ABC News reported Democrats on the House Judiciary are pushing back on a DOJ offer to have Mueller give a public opening statement and then answer committee questions behind closed door.
  94. Reportedly, Mueller is seek guidance from the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel to advice on what he can and cannot say. The House Intelligence Committee is also in talks with the DOJ to have Mueller testify.
  95. On Tuesday, CNN reported sources on Mueller’s team say he is hesitant to testify to Congress — not wanting to seem political. Mueller has been seen arriving at work every morning since submitting his report.
  96. On Tuesday, the New York state assembly passed a double loophole bill, allowing the state to prosecutepeople pardoned by Trump. The bill now moves to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to sign.
  97. On Wednesday, the New York state assembly passed a bill giving Congress the right to ask for Trump’s and his organization’s state tax returns. The bill is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Cuomo.
  98. On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas to former White House communications director Hope Hicks and to Don McGahn’s former chief of staff, Annie Donaldson.
  99. The subpoenas called for Hicks and Donaldson to produce requested documents by June 4, and for Hicks to testify June 19 and for Donaldson to appear for a deposition on June 24.
  100. On Tuesday, WAPO reported a confidential 10-page draft memo prepared last fall by the Internal Revenue Service said Trump’s tax returns must be given to Congress unless he invokes executive privilege.
  101. The memo states disclosure to the House “is mandatory, requiring the Secretary to disclose returns, and return information, requested,” and exposed a break from the Treasury Department which refused to reply.
  102. The memo states the law “does not allow the Secretary to exercise discretion in disclosing the information provided the statutory conditions are met,” contradicting Secretary Mnuchin.
  103. On Tuesday, a Quinnipiac Poll found Trump’s approval at 38%, while 57% disapprove, for a net approval of -19. That is down from May 2, when Trump’s approval was 41% and 55% disapprove, for a net approval of -14.
  104. Going into the 2020 election, 54% said that they “definitely” will not vote to re-elect Trump, historically strong opposition.
  105. On Wednesday, a Monmouth University survey found 60% say Trump should not be re-elected in 2020, while 37% said he should. Trump’s approval with Republicans remains high at 86%.
  106. On Wednesday, Chair Schiff said he would not enforce a subpoena against Attorney General Barr, after the House Intelligence Committee and DOJ reached an 11th hour deal on Mueller report materials.
  107. Under the deal, the DOJ will supply redacted material and underlying information, but in a staged manner. Schiff said the subpoena “will remain in effect and will be enforced” until materials are provided.
  108. On Wednesday, after a meeting with her caucus, Speaker Pelosi said Trump is engaged in a “cover-up,” adding, “we do believe that it’s important to follow the facts. We believe that no one is above the law.”
  109. Nearly a dozen out of the 24 Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee voiced support for opening an impeachment inquiry. Other Democrats have come out in recent days to publicly voice their support.
  110. On Wednesday, Trump abruptly stormed out of a scheduled meeting with Democratic congressional leadersto discuss advancing legislation after three minutes, and marched to the Rose Garden to address reporters.
  111. Trump had walked into the Cabinet Room, shaken, did not shake Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s hands, and said “Speaker Pelosi said something terrible today and accused me of a cover-up.”
  112. Trump blasted Democrats, telling reporters, “Instead of walking in happily to a meeting, I walk in to look at people who said I was doing a cover-up,” adding, “I don’t do cover-ups.”
  113. Trump also said he cannot work on infrastructure “under these circumstances,” adding, “get these phony investigations over with,” and “we’re going to go down one track at a time.”
  114. Pelosi told reporters Democrats were ready to give Trump a signature accomplishment but “for some reason, maybe it was lack of confidence on his part…he just took a pass,” and, “it makes me wonder why.”
  115. Pelosi also called Trump’s actions an “orchestrated event — almost to an ‘oh, poor baby’ point of view,” and adding the visuals “obviously were planned long before” the meeting.
  116. Pelosi added, “In any event, I pray for the president of the United States, and I pray for the United States of America.” Schumer said “they came up with a very inelegant way to get out” of getting a infrastructure deal done.
  117. Later, at an event for a liberal policy group, Pelosi said, “The fact is, in plain sight in the public domain, this president is obstructing justice and he’s engaged in a cover-up,” adding, “that could be an impeachable offense.”
  118. At the same event, Chair Schiff likened Barr to a “personal attorney” for Trump, saying Barr has the “duplicity of Rudy Giuliani without all the good looks and general likability.”
  119. Later, in a letter to House Democrats, Pelosi accused Trump of throwing a “temper tantrum,” citing Trump’s threat to stop working with Democrats as being concerned only with his own job, not the American people.
  120. On Wednesday, in late night tweets, Trump said of Pelosi’s accusations he has a temper tantrum, “This is not true,” and “I was purposely very polite and calm,” adding, “Can be easily proven. It is all such a lie!”
  121. Trump also tweeted, “Zero is getting done with the Democrats in charge of the House,” adding, “All they want to do is put the Mueller Report behind them and start all over again. No Do-Overs!”
  122. On Wednesday, on the Fox News show “Hannity,” Sen. Lindsey Graham likened the two year investigation led by Special Counsel Mueller as a “political rectal exam.”
  123. On Wednesday, federal judge Edgardo Ramos rejected Trump’s request to halt House subpoenas, saying Deutsche Bank and Capital One may turn over financial documents related to Trump and his businesses.
  124. On Wednesday, NBC News reported nine banks have been subpoenaed by the House Financial Services Committee about their dealing with the Trump Organization. So far two, Wells Fargo and TD Bank, have complied.
  125. Chair Maxine Waters is especially interested in Trump’s business relationship with Russia and other foreign entities. Other banks include Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank, and JP Morgan Chase.
  126. On Wednesday, NBC News tabulated that 31 of the 235 House Democrats have called for the start of an impeachment inquiry.
  127. On Wednesday, Sen. Christopher Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warned Trump may use an obscure loophole in the Arms Export Control Act to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia, circumventing Congress.
  128. Murphy said in a tweet, “Arms control law allows Congress to reject a sale to a foreign country. But Trump would claim the sale constitutes an ‘emergency.’” Sen. Bob Menendez called it “a dangerous precedent.”
  129. On Friday, Trump declared a national emergency, citing tensions with Iran, as a means to bypass Congressional approval and sell over $8 billion of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan.
  130. The move angered members of both parties. Rep. Mike McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Trump’s move could damage future White House interactions with Congress.
  131. On Wednesday, newly unsealed search warrants revealed Michael Cohen exchanged 230 telephone calls and 950 text messages with Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg between November 8, 2016 and July 14, 2017.
  132. On Thursday, on “Fox & Friends,” Donald Jr. slammed Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr, saying, “You have one Republican who’s too weak to stand up to the Democrats.”
  133. On Thursday, in a series of tweets, Trump sought to portray Democrats as the obstacle to passing legislation like infrastructure, tweeting, “The Democrats have become known as THE DO NOTHING PARTY!”
  134. Trump also tweeted, “The Democrats are getting nothing done in Congress,” adding, “All of their effort is about a Re-Do of the Mueller Report, which didn’t turn out the way they wanted.”
  135. Trump tweeted he “was extremely calm yesterday,” adding Democrats and “the Fake News Media” made it up and “so many stories about the meeting use the Rage narrative anyway — Fake & Corrupt Press!”
  136. On Thursday, in a closed-door meeting with House Democratic leadership, Speaker Pelosi reportedly said that Trump “wants to be impeached, so he can be exonerated by the Senate.”
  137. On Thursday, at her weekly news conference, Pelosi told reporters Trump wants to be impeached, saying, “The White House is just crying out for impeachment,” adding, “That’s why he flipped yesterday.”
  138. Pelosi also said, “I think what really got to him was these court cases,” citing the Mazars USA and Deutsche Bank rulings going against him, and added “he wants us to be” on a path to impeachment, but we are not.
  139. Pelosi said Trump’s storming out of the meeting was staged, calling him the “master of distraction,”and adding Trump “has a bag of tricks and the White House has a bag of tricks that they save for certain occasions.”
  140. Pelosi said Trump’s behavior, including “obstruction of justice, the things he’s doing, it’s clear. It’s in plain sight…Ignoring subpoenas, obstruction of justice,” adding, “Yes, these could be impeachment offenses.”
  141. Pelosi said she was concerned about Trump, “I pray for the President of the United States,” adding, “I wish that his family or his administration or his staff would have an intervention for the good of the country.”
  142. On Thursday, press secretary Sarah Sanders denied Trump’s walkout was pre-planned, saying he “absolutely” intended to stay for the meeting, and the placards on the Rose Garden podium “had been printed weeks ago.”
  143. On Thursday, during a meeting to support America’s farmers and ranchers in the White House, Trump went off topic and asked aides to step to the microphone and attest to his calm demeanor in the meeting yesterday.
  144. Trump had five members of the regime speak for him, including Kellyanne Conway, who said he was “very calm,” and economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who said “You were very calm” but Speaker Pelosi “lost it.”
  145. Trump also called Speaker Pelosi “crazy Nancy,” and added “she’s lost it.”
  146. The event was supposed to focus on announcing a $16 billion farm aid package to offset losses from Trump’s trade war. Trump falsely claimed the aid was offset by “the billions of dollars the Treasury takes in” from China.
  147. On Thursday, Chair Nadler pushed House colleagues to empower committee chairs with the ability to hold individuals in contempt of Congress without going to the floor for a full House vote.
  148. Nadler cited the change could avoid clogging up the House floor given Trump’s all-out stonewalling of Congressional subpoenas. House Oversight Committee Elijah Cummings supported the proposed change.
  149. A faction of House Democrats are also pushing to invoke Congress’ inherent contempt powers, which have not been used in nearly a century, to allow members to impose fines on those who defy a House subpoena.
  150. On Thursday, Chicago banker Stephen Calk was indicted in Manhattan on a charge that he arranged $16 million in loans to then campaign chair Paul Manafort in an effort to obtain a high-level position in the Trump regime.
  151. Calk made the loans in his position as chairman of Federal Savings Bank in hopes of a cabinet position like Treasury Secretary. If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison.
  152. On Thursday, WAPO reported altered videos of Speaker Pelosi’s Wednesday speech, which make her sound as if she is drunk and slurring her words, rapidly spread around social media.
  153. A version of the video posted by the conservative Facebook page Politics WatchDog had over 2 million view by Thursday evening. The origins of the video is unclear, but it also appeared on Twitter, YouTube, and news sites.
  154. Rudy Giuliani tweeted the altered video, along with the comment, “What is wrong with Nancy Pelosi? Her speech pattern is bizarre.” Giuliani later deleted the tweet.
  155. On Thursday, Trump tweeted a heavily edited video of Speaker Pelosi meant to question her mental acuity, writing: “PELOSI STAMMERS THROUGH NEWS CONFERENCE.”
  156. The clip was a segment on Fox News, and included derogatory remarks by commentator Gregg Jarrett GOP operative Ed Rollins, who opined, “I think she is getting worn down….I think she’s very inarticulate.”
  157. On Friday, Trump pinned the tweet to the top of his page. Giuliani told WAPO, “I have been noticing a gradual change in her speech pattern and gestures for sometime,” adding, “I’d like to see original video.”
  158. On Thursday, in a late evening directive, Trump directed the country’s sixteen intelligence agencies to fully cooperate with Barr in his review of the investigation into Russian election interference in 2016.
  159. The directive came hours after Trump was asked at an impromptu press conference, “Who specifically are you accusing of treason?” following his tweet in Week 131 referencing “this was TREASON!”
  160. Trump replied, “If you look at Comey; if you look at McCabe; if you look at probably people higher than that; if you look at Strzok; if you look at his lover, Lisa Page, his wonderful lover — the two lovers, they talked openly.”
  161. In the directive, Trump also delegated significant authority to Barr to declassify intelligence documents as he sees fit, after consulting with intelligence agency heads.
  162. The Times reported Barr wanted more information on what foreign assets the CIA had in Russia in 2016, and what those informants told the agency about how Putin interfered in the 2016 election.
  163. The DOJ confirmed Barr asked Trump to issue the directive to broaden his authority, and also extends to the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security. Experts raised red flags about the power given to Barr.
  164. Sarah Sanders said in a statement, the directive will “help ensure that all Americans learn the truth about the events that occurred…during the last presidential election and will restore confidence in our public institutions.”
  165. On Friday, Facebook refused to remove the altered videos, saying instead it would notify users independent fact-checkers had deemed it had been manipulated, and use algorithms to reduce the video’s prominence.
  166. Later Friday, Trump told reporters before departing for Japan that he can “absolutely” work with Speaker Pelosi, and denied knowledge of the fake videos, saying, “I don’t know about the videos.”
  167. On Thursday, federal prosecutors charged Julian Assange with an 18-count indictment for violating the Espionage Act, alleging he unlawfully obtained and disclosed national defense information.
  168. WAPO noted the charges raised new concerns for journalists who publish classified information, and could change the delicate balance in U.S. law between press freedom and government secrecy.
  169. First Amendment advocates expressed concerns that prosecuting Assange could set a dangerous precedent. The DOJ could not point to comparable charges which were successfully prosecuted.
  170. On Thursday, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. said it would expedite its review of Trump’s attempt to block Mazars USA from releasing information to the House, with oral arguments starting July 12.
  171. The ruling means the accounting firm will not hand over Trump’s business records to the House Oversight Committee while the case is pending. Since the case is likely to go to the Supreme Court, this likely will take into 2020.
  172. On Saturday, Trump lawyers also secured a deal with the House to delay disclosure of Trump records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One sought by the Intelligence and Financial Services committees.
  173. On Friday, Trump tweeted: “The Dems want a second shot at Bob Mueller, are very unhappy with the No Collusion Report,” adding, “no second chances — must get back to work. So bad for our Country!”
  174. On Friday, former GOP Rep. Tom Coleman wrote in an op-ed published in the Kansas City Star, that based on the finding in the Mueller report Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are illegitimate and should be impeached.
  175. On Thursday, DOJ lawyers argued in a D.C. court that the House cannot sue Trump to stop him from using military funds to build his border wall under his national emergency declaration.
  176. On Friday, a federal judge in California temporarily blocked parts of Trump’s wall from being built, saying the regime is acting illegally by shifting money from other programs without Congressional approval.
  177. U.S. District Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr wrote shifting funds when Congress says no “does not square with fundamental separation of powers principles dating back to the earliest days of our Republic.”
  178. On Saturday, Trump tweeted “another activist Obama appointed judge has just ruled against us” on his wall, adding, “This is a ruling against Border Security and in favor of crime, drugs and human trafficking.”
  179. On Saturday, during his visit to Japan, Trump again attacked the Federal Reserve, saying the stock market would be 7,000 to 10,000 higher and growth would have exceeded 3%, “but they wanted to raise interest rates.”
  180. On Saturday, Trump tweeted: “Can’t believe that Rolling Thunder would be given a hard time with permits,” citing the last year of the motorcycle ride due to permit costs, adding, “They love our Country…If I can help, I will!”
  181. The group’s leader said they were still planning to have this year’s ride be their last in Washington. The group has not had any contact with Trump or anyone from the regime.
  182. On Saturday, an estimated 500 to 600 people of all persuasions showed up in Dayton, Ohio to counter-protest a much feared Ku Klux Klan rally. Only nine people showed up for the KKK rally.
  183. On Friday, UK’s Theresa May resigned as prime minister, acknowledging she was unable to steer the country to deliver Brexit. Boris Johnson, a far-right, Trump-like figure is a leading contender to take her spot.
  184. In Australia, in a shocking upset, center-right Prime Minister Scott Morrison won re-election after almost every poll for three years showed him losing. Pundits warned Democrats to watch for same ahead of 2020.

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Deutsche Bank was front and center this week, with reporting the bank failed to report transactions flagged by anti-money laundering specialists. Trump also lost his case to block the House subpoena of Deutsche Bank for his transactions as a bank customer.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 73: “THE GREAT POLITICAL SWINDLE” ~ god SAVE AMERICA

*Unfortunately, for our country, this list, PROVEN, as well as supported by The National Library of Congress, is getting longer and longer every week. 

** In an effort to make it more reader-friendly and easier to digest, I’ve broken it up  most of the way, by inserting a photo (all taken by me,) between every 20 facts.

*** This list is by Amy Siskind and the link to her actual list is highlighted below. PLEASE, if these facts strike a chord and mean something to you, PLEASE share this post. Street Art comes in many forms, but no matter what, it gives a voice to the voiceless. Help us to make their voices heard. Resoundingly. 

Week 72 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

March 31, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-72-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-15d0c913ef70

In a week some described as relatively quiet on the news front heading into Passover and Easter, Trump continued to seize power. Trump is acting increasingly strident and confident in his — and solely his — abilities and judgment. As Hope Hicks departed and Trump had yet to name her replacement, news stories indicated Trump is considering becoming his own press secretary, as well as possibly his own chief of staff. Trump continues to be scattered legislatively, save his obsession with his border wall, while continuing to strike out at adversaries, this week’s favored target being Amazon.

Trump’s remaining inner-circle continues to be plagued by possible ethics violations and incompetence. With the exit of attorney John Dowd, Trump is without a lead counsel in the Mueller probe, as he also faces threats on a number of other fronts including Stephanie Clifford, the emoluments clause and the unraveling of Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in the US election.

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Venice Beach, California. 25march2018.
  1. In a case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal appeals court rejected the position of Sessions’ DOJ and ruled transgender people are protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bans workplace discrimination based on sex.
  2. Fake photos of the teens who spoke at March For Our Lives went viral on the far right. One photo showed leader Emma Gonzalez and other leaders ripping up what was photoshopped to be the Constitution.
  3. Rep. Steve King attacked Gonzalez for her Cuban heritage on his Facebook page: “This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don’t speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island.”
  4. Rep. King was excoriated by critics for his post about Emma Gonzalez. His staff responded, “just pointing out the irony of someone wearing a communist flag while advocating for gun control. — Team King”
  5. On Sunday, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said Joseph DiGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing would not be joining Trump’s legal team in the Mueller probe, citing conflicts of interest.
  6. Having lost lead attorney John Dowd as well last week, this leaves Trump without a traditional criminal defense attorney as Mueller’s team enters a critical phase in its investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
  7. On Sunday, Trump sent two tweets, claiming top lawyers want to represent him and “Fame & fortune will NEVER be turned down by a lawyer, though some are conflicted,” adding “there was NO COLLUSION.”
  8. Trump also tweeted about “the $1.6 Billion given to building and fixing the border wall” in the spending bill. The law says funds can be used only to repair and build previously approved fencing, not to build a new wall.
  9. The law also bars construction on a Texas wildlife preserve that the Trump regime had previously identified as a starting point for work on a new border wall in Week 37.
  10. On Tuesday, WAPO reported that privately, Trump has started pushing the US military to fund construction of his border wall, saying Jim Mattis and congressional leaders could push for the funding citing a “national security” risk.
  11. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted construction of his border wall has begun, and included four photos. This statement false: Trump’s border wall has not been started, and the photos are from a 2009 replacement project.
  12. California’s senators and Democratic colleagues called for a probe into the resignation of San Francisco ICE spokesperson James Schwab, who resigned in Week 70 citing false statements made by the Trump regime.
  13. A new Indiana law requires all doctors to ask every woman seeking treatment for a physical or psychological condition whether she haspreviously had an abortion “in any way connected to the ailment.”
  14. Intercept reported, according to a string of emails and documents obtained through a public records request, ICE uses backend Facebook data to locate and track immigrants that it is working to round up.
  15. According to a directive shared by ICE on Thursday, the Trump regime will abandon a policy of generally releasing pregnant women from immigrant detention, instead deciding on a case-by-case basis.
  16. On Friday, in a big victory for the ACLU, a US District Court judge in Washington DC ruled that the Trump regime cannot block undocumented teens from getting abortions.
  17. On Friday, ABC News reported halfway through the fiscal year (October 1, 2017), the Trump regime has admitted less than a quarter of its proposed refugees ceiling: just 10,548 out of the 45,000.
  18. The regime’s cap of 45,000 is the lowest since the refugee admissions program began in 1975. Obama has set the cap at 110,000 for the fiscal year, and Trump lowered it once taking office.
  19. Under rules proposed by the State Department Friday, nearly all applicants for a visa to the US, an estimated 14.7 million people per year, will be asked to submit their social-media usernames for the past five years.
  20. The proposal covers 20 social media platforms, and includes people wanting to come to the US for business or pleasure, including countries such as Brazil, China, India and Mexico.
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On a t-shirt through the window in an East Village, New York City shop. November 2017.
  1. On Monday the Commerce Department announced that the 2020 US Census will include a question about citizenship. Opponents fear this will lead to inaccurate population counts, affecting the distribution of federal funding and redistricting for House seats.
  2. Career officials at the Census Bureau were critical of the plan to add the question, but Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross decided to include it despite their input. The census has not asked participants about citizenship since 1950.
  3. In a draft of the 2020 US Census released Tuesday, questions regarding categories of sexual orientation and gender identity were removed, sparking outrage from LGBTQ advocacy groups.
  4. Data in census categories — for example race, gender, length of commute — are used by federal agencies make decisions about law enforcement, health care, equal employment opportunities, and more.
  5. Politico reported, based on interviews, public documents, and FEMA records the hurricane response by the Trump regime in Puerto Rico was significantly undersized compared to the response to Hurricane Harvey.
  6. Within 9 days of the storms, FEMA had approved $141.8 million in individual assistance for victims of Harvey, and only $6.2 million for victims of Hurricane Maria.
  7. Also nine days in, the federal government had dispatched 30,000 personnel in the Houston region, compared to only 10,000 at the same point after Maria.
  8. Puerto Rico was strong-armed into using an experimental funding formula to access federal funds for rebuilding. The formula requires that Puerto Rico pay for any excess costs in the rebuilding effort. The funding formula has never been used for a disaster of this scale.
  9. Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Seattle’s KOMO-TV is now being forced by owner Sinclair Broadcasting to read Sinclair-written scripts warning of the dangers of “one-sided news stories plaguing our country.”
  10. Sinclair has also imposed must-run segments on things like the “Deep State” produced by Sinclair’s Kristine Frazao, who prior worked as a reporter and anchor for the Russian-government funded news network RT.
  11. On Monday, CNN reported Secretary Ryan Zinke told Interior Department staffers that diversity isn’t important. Three high ranking officials in say he said, “I don’t care about diversity,” or “I don’t really think that’s important anymore.”
  12. On Monday, three more contractors in Secretary Ben Carson’s Department of Housing and Urban Development lost their jobs over a widening ethics controversy surrounding Accel Corporation, a private employment agency, and their staffing arrangement with HUD.
  13. After interviewing over 20 insiders and reviewing internal emails NYT reported that HUD appears to be abandoning efforts to enforce fair housing laws.
  14. In Week 69 Carson changed HUD’s mission statement, eliminating the mandate to “build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.”
  15. Diana Flynn, a top civil rights lawyer in the Justice Department, is resigning and will become the litigation director at Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ advocacy organization which is currently suing to stop Trump’s transgender military ban.
  16. The Trump administration has established an anti-regulation litmus test for judicial appointments, with the hope to weaken what they have labeled the “administrative state.”
  17. WSJ reported Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency agreed to test a water-purification system developed by Water-Gen Ltd., an Israeli technology company, at the request of Republican donor and Trump ally, Sheldon Adelson.
  18. The Trump regime picked a new fight with the state of California, as the EPA’s Pruitt reportedly will move to roll back an Obama-era goal to have car makers meet a 54.5 mpg standard by 2025, one of Obama’s signature efforts to fight climate change.
  19. The move would be a victory for carmakers, and could allow them to roll back industry standards worldwide. The move would also be likely to spark a courtroom challenge from California.
  20. HuffPost received a leaked memo from the Office of Public Affairs at Pruitt’s EPA which listed eight approved talking points regarding climate change. The talking points downplay the role humans play in climate change, stating that the toll of human action on the climate is unknown.
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Chelsea, Manhattan, NYC. November 2017.
  1. On Thursday, ABC News reported Pruitt has been living in a DC condo co-owned with his wife by Stephen Hart, CEO of the lobbying firm Williams and Jensen, which represents a roster of fossil fuel companies.
  2. WAPO reported that clients of Hart’s firm include Exxon Mobil Corp. and the major liquefied natural gas exporter Cheniere Energy Inc. Market rate rent in the area run at more than $3,000 for two bedrooms per month.
  3. On Friday, WAPO reported Pruitt is paying just $50 per night for the nights he stays in the condo. According to EPA officials, Pruitt has paid a total of $6,100 to stay in the condo for roughly six months.
  4. ABC News reported that Pruitt’s daughter also stayed in the condo. Justina Fugh, a EPA ethics lawyer, did not know about the arrangement, but said she did not immediately see it as an ethical concern since Pruitt was paying for the room.
  5. On Friday, CNN reported that according to a letter by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Pruitt used his security detail while on non-official business, including trips home to Tulsa, a family vacation to Disneyland, and the Rose Bowl.
  6. According to a July 2014 memo obtained by MSNBC, Rudy Giuliani’s law firm warned Cambridge Analytica foreign citizens could not play “substantive management” roles in the running of US election campaigns.
  7. On Sunday, Sen. Mark Warner told “Meet the Press” that Facebook has not been fully transparent with Congress about the data leak, saying when he questioned the company about Cambridge Analytica they “blew that off.”
  8. Corey Lewandowski said Sunday he never approved contact with Cambridge Analytica while working for Trump, saying, “They pitched me three times, three times I said no.”
  9. On Monday, watchdog group Common Cause filed legal complaints with the FEC and DOJ accusing Cambridge Analytica, SCL Group, Nix, Christopher Wylie, and others of violating US election laws as non-US citizens by participating in the decision-making process of US political campaigns.
  10. Mark Zuckerberg has been called to testify before Congress on April 10 at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on data privacy, and on April 12 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
  11. NYT reported that an employee of Palantir, the data analysis company co-founded by Trump supporter Peter Thiel, was directly involved with Cambridge Analytica and the creation of an app that was used to scrape Facebook users’ data.
  12. Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie alleged that pro-Brexit campaign Vote Leave engaged in fraud to skirt election spending laws.
  13. In an interview with The Daily Beast Wylie said he didn’t come forward earlier with information about Cambridge Analytica, waiting until long after the US election and Brexit, because he “didn’t fully appreciate the impact.”
  14. A super PAC run by John Bolton was one of the first organizations to use the Facebook data mined by Cambridge Analytica in 2014. The super PAC held a $454,700 contract with the company to gain “behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging.”
  15. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported, according to records released to the UK Parliament, Cambridge Analytica gave Bolton’s PAC data harvested from millions of Facebook users. The papers were produced by Wylie.
  16. Emails released show SCL Group discussed with Aggregate IQ, a Canadian company that worked closely with both Cambridge Analytica and SCL, how it could release information on how to target voters in several US states to Bolton’s PAC.
  17. On Sunday, Stephanie Clifford appeared on “60 Minutes,” saying she stayed silent because of fear. She said she was threatened with a lawsuit by Michael Cohen in 2011 after selling her story for $15,000.
  18. Shortly after, she was approached by a stranger in a parking lot who told her, “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,” adding, of her daughter, “That’s a beautiful little girl, it would be a shame if something happened to her mom.”
  19. The night they met, Clifford said she told Trump, “Someone should take that magazine and spank you with it,” to get him to stop talking about himself. It was a magazine with Trump on the cover, and she claims she spanked him with it, wearing his underwear.
  20. Trevor Potter, former chair of the Federal Election Commission, was also interviewed and compared the case to John Edwards, but said the paying off was worse because it happened right before election day on a hot topic.
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New York City, February 2018.
  1. Potter also said Mueller could look into Clifford’s case as part of his investigation of Cohen, also the middleman for the Trump Organization for negotiations with Russia for a Trump Tower Moscow.
  2. The interview was the highest-rated episode of “60 Minutes” in 10 years, attracting 22 million viewers.
  3. On Monday, Trump was uncharacteristically silent on Clifford’s interview, refraining from sending a single tweet or making any comment.
  4. On Monday, Clifford’s lawyer Michael Avenatti sued Cohen for defamation, saying Cohen defamed Clifford by insinuating she lied about an affair with Trump. The complaint also says the hush agreement is invalid since Trump did not sign it.
  5. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders angrily deflected questions about Stephanie Clifford at a press conference on Tuesday, two days after Clifford’s appearance on “60 Minutes.”
  6. On Wednesday, Michael Avenatti filed a motion in a federal court in California seeking to depose Trump and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohenover the $130,000 payment made to Clifford.
  7. On Wednesday, David Schwartz, the lawyer for Cohen, said in an CNN interview that Cohen did not tell Trump about the hush agreement to pay Clifford $130,000 in 2016.
  8. Avenatti said Schwartz’s comments prove the hush agreement was invalid. Experts say Schwartz’s comments could also result in an ethics complaintagainst Cohen with the New York bar association.
  9. On Monday, Dan Webb, a prominent white-collar-defense lawyer for the firm Winston and Strawn, declined an offer to lead Trump’s legal defensein the Mueller probe.
  10. Trump had also reached out to Tom Buchanan, a DC-based partner of Winston and Strawn, to join his legal team. The firm issued a statement citing “business conflicts” for why the two declined.
  11. Most top-tier lawyers have refused to represent Trump in Mueller’s Russia investigation. Instead, Reuters reports, an assistant DA from Georgia, Andrew Ekonomou, has been elevated on Jay Sekulow’s legal team working on the case.
  12. On Monday, a new CNN poll found Trump’s approval up to 42%, the highest in eleven months. Trump showed improvement from February with Republican voters (80% to 86%) and independents (35% to 41%).
  13. On Monday, NYT reported with Trump’s inner circle thinning, he is increasingly in touch with Rob Porter. Trump has spoken with aides about bringing Porter back, although he knows he probably cannot do so.
  14. On Monday, WSJ reported White House attorneys are examining whethertwo loans, from Apollo and Citigroup, to Kushner’s family business may have violated any criminal laws or federal ethics regulations.
  15. The Office of Government Ethics is investigating after receiving a letter from Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, saying the loans, “raise serious ethical questions that need to be investigated.”
  16. Reps. Elijah Cummings and Krishnamoorthi wrote attorney Don McGahn requesting documents from a White House review into dealings Kushner Cos. had with Citigroup and Apollo Group Management. Jared held meetings in the White House with leaders from both financial groups.
  17. On Monday, Politico reported associates of Trump are concerned about what Rick Gates may reveal to Robert Mueller following last month’s plea deal. One Republican consultant commented, “He saw everything.”
  18. On Tuesday Mueller’s team filed court papers arguing for jail time for Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer and Dutch citizen who lied about his interactions with Gates and an unidentified person. Van der Zwaan will be the first person to be sentenced in the investigation.
  19. Sen. Ron Wyden requested internal records from the NRA regarding foreign funding received over the past three years. Wyden wants to determine if any foreign funds were used to influence US elections.
  20. On Tuesday, Mueller released documents revealing top Trump campaign official Gates had frequent conversations in September and October 2016 with a person believed to have active links to Russian spy services.
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East Village, New York City. February 2018.
  1. The documents revealed Gates told an associate his contact “was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with the G.R.U.,” the Russian military intelligence agency. In the document, he is known as “Person A.”
  2. The document states communications between Gates and Person A are “pertinent to the investigation.” Sources say Person A is likely Konstantin Kilimnik, Manafort’s right-hand man in Ukraine.
  3. The document is a sentencing memo for Alex van der Zwaan, who worked closed with Gates and Person A to prepare a report used to defend Viktor Yanukovych, and in Week 67 was revealed to have lied to Mueller’s team.
  4. On Friday, VICE reported Congress is looking into an August 2016 flight on a private jet linked to Deripaska which traveled from Moscow to Newark, then flew back to Moscow that same afternoon.
  5. The flight arrived with hours of a meeting in Manhattan between Manafort and Kilimnik. Weeks prior, Manafort had Kilimnik reach out to Deripaska and told him “to extend an offer of ‘private briefings.’”
  6. On Wednesday, NYT reported Dowd broached the idea of Trump pardoning Manafort and Michael Flynn with their attorneys, suggesting Trump’s lawyers were concerned the two would cut a deal in exchange for leniency.
  7. The revelation raises concerns that Dowd, who resigned as Trump’s lead counsel in Week 71, was offering pardons to influence their decisions on whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the Mueller probe.
  8. Dowd’s conversation with Flynn’s attorney took place during the summerof 2017, at a time when a grand jury was hearing evidence against Flynn. His conversation with Manafort’s attorney took place before Manafort was indicted in October.
  9. It is not known if Dowd discussed the pardons with Trump. When contacted by the NYT, Dowd said, “There were no discussions. Period. As far as I know, no discussions.”
  10. On Thursday, The Guardian reported that in 2010 a small group of businessmen, including wealthy supporters of Putin, started working with Trump on plans for a glitzy hotel in Riga, the capital of Latvia.
  11. Talks with Trump’s company were abandoned after Russian Igor Krutoy, who had met with Trump and Ivanka at Trump Tower, was questioned by Latvian authorities as part of a major criminal inquiry. Latvian authorities also reached out to the FBI.
  12. Krutoy has written music for Emin Agalarov, the Russian singer involved with setting up the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. Krutoy was also a celebrity representative for Putin’s 2018 election campaign.
  13. On Thursday, Reuters reported Mueller’s team is questioning witnesses about the Trump campaign’s contact with Russians at the Republican National Convention in July 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.
  14. Witnesses have been asked about a convention-related event attended by both Kislyak and Sessions, and also about why Republican Party platformlanguage hostile to Russia was deleted from a section on Ukraine.
  15. One witness said they were also asked by Mueller’s team about a meeting Sessions had with Kislyak on the sidelines of a campaign speech Trump gave at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel in April 2016.
  16. The government of Ecuador cut off Julian Assange’s internet access after he made a series of tweets stating that the evidence Russia poisoned a former spy and his daughter was “circumstantial.” Assange lives in the London embassy of Ecuador, where he is seeking asylum.
  17. On Friday, Ted Malloch, an American touted as a possible candidate to serve as US ambassador to the EU last year, was detained as he landed at Logan Airport, and issued a subpoena to testify in the Mueller probe.
  18. Malloch is a controversial London-based academic with close ties to Nigel Farage. Guardian reported Malloch was questioned about his involvement in the Trump campaign and instructed lying to the FBI is a felony.
  19. Malloch said the FBI asked about Roger Stone, and whether he had ever visited the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Assange resided. He will appear before Mueller’s grand jury in Washington DC on April 13.
  20. On Friday, Yevgeniy Nikulin, a Russian accused of hacking US technology companies in 2012, was extradited to the Czech Republic. Sessions called the case “deeply troubling behavior once again emanating from Russia.”
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Wynwood, Miami, Florida. December 2017.
  1. The Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship has been renamed by the State Department as the Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship. An insider suggested it may have been renamed to escape Trump’s budget cuts.
  2. Seth Rich’s brother has filed a lawsuit accusing right-wing activists Ed Butowsky and Matt Crouch, Crouch’s media company America First Media, and The Washington Times of acting “with reckless disregard for the truth” by perpetuating conspiracy theories.
  3. On Wednesday Trump tweeted that his administration “stands in solidarity” with Orange County, which joined the administration’s lawsuit challenging the “sanctuary state” law, SB 54.
  4. On Wednesday, all 22 female senators wrote in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that the Senate must begin to debate anti-harassment legislation.
  5. On Wednesday, a federal judge in Maryland ruled a lawsuit accusing Trump of violating the emoluments clause by refusing to divorce himself from his businesses may proceed.
  6. The judge refused a plea from Sessions’ DOJ to dismiss the lawsuit. A similar lawsuit was dismissed in New York in December, when the judge ruled the watchdog group CREW did not have standing.
  7. On Wednesday, CBS News reported as communication director Hope Hicks prepares to leave the White House, the communication department is filled with chaos and in-fighting.
  8. Staffers are reportedly unsure what to expect “in a lawless White House,” noting Trump thrives on chaos and resents authority, process and order.
  9. Hicks’ last day of work was Wednesday. As Wednesday came to a close, even though Hicks resigned in Week 68, Trump had yet to name an interim communication director.
  10. On Wednesday, Trump hired 22 year-old Disney star Caroline Sunshine to join the White House communications team as a press assistant. Sunshine has no prior relevant experience in communications.
  11. Trump is reportedly being told by outside advisers that the doesn’t need a communications or chief of staff. Trump is frustrated at the management structure in the West Wing, believing it doesn’t suit his freewheeling style.
  12. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported John Kelly is losing some clout in Trump’s White House as he has been out of the decision making process on several occasions recently, including the firing of H.R. McMaster in Week 71.
  13. Kelly is also now rarely on the line when Trump speaks with foreign leaders, including Trump’s recent call with Putin. Aides say recently Kelly is less aware of what’s on Trump’s mind and what he’s planning to do next,
  14. On Wednesday Trump fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and hopes to replace him with the White House doctor Ronny Jackson, a White House physician and rear admiral in the Navy.
  15. Trump announced his nomination via Twitter. Jackson has no experience running a bureaucratic institution, and would inherit an agency with major problems and quickly face crucial, multibillion-dollar decisions.
  16. On an op-ed Wednesday, Shulkin said he was fired so Trump could privatize the VA and turn into a money making operation for his friends, warning they would put their personal agendas in front of the well-being of our veterans.
  17. On Friday, Shulkin told MSNBC he spoken to Trump hours before he was fired, and Trump didn’t mention his imminent firing. Shulkin said he was informed by Kelly of his firing shortly before Trump’s tweet.
  18. Trump had considered “Fox & Friends Weekend” co-host Pete Hegseth for the position of VA Secretary, but reportedly Hegseth, who has had issues in his personal life, did not want to go through the confirmation process.
  19. Defense Secretary James Mattis is finding himself more isolated in the administration after Trump appointed the aggressive hawks John Bolton to national security adviser and Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State.
  20. WAPO reported Trump’s Presidential Personnel Office (PPO), the office responsible for recruiting and vetting thousands of political appointees, ishobbled by inexperience and being short-staffed.
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New York City, February 2108.
  1. PPO is responsible for recruiting and vetting candidates for more than 4,000 jobs, more than 1,200 requiring Senate approval. The office has just 30 employees, less than a third of prior administrations.
  2. Six of the staffers over the age of 35 left shortly after Trump took office.Most staffers are in their 20s and have not relevant experience but worked on the Trump campaign. The PPO floor has become a social hub.
  3. On Monday, the US and 14 European Union members expelled scores of Russian diplomats in response to Russia’s alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.
  4. Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russians, including 12 people identified as Russian intelligence officers who have been stationed at the United Nations, as well as closing the Russian consulate in Seattle.
  5. On Thursday, the Kremlin ordered an equivalent number of expulsions, as well as the closing of the American Consulate in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, citing an “anti-Russian campaign” orchestrated by the US and UK.
  6. On Thursday, NBC News reported that when Trump finally signed off on providing US weapons to Ukraine to help in their fight against Russian-backed separatists, Trump told aides not to talk about it publicly.
  7. Reportedly, Trump was concerned speaking about it publicly may agitate Putin. However officials claim in Trump’s phone call to congratulate Putin, he also said, “If you want to have an arms race we can do that, but I’ll win.”
  8. On Friday, Russia released a video of a missile test for ‘Satan 2,’ its new intercontinental ballistic missile. Sputnik claimed the missile is “capable of striking targets both via the North and South Poles.”
  9. On Wednesday, Axios reported that, according to inside sources, Trump is “obsessed with Amazon” and wants “to go after Amazon with antitrust or competition law.”
  10. Amazon’s owner, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post — a media outlet frequently attacked by Trump. Reportedly, Trump’s friends in real estate are also upset about Amazon’s impact on their shopping mall holdings.
  11. On Wednesday, Amazon stock dropped more than 4%, wiping out more than $31 billion in shareholder value, and was down 6% for the week.
  12. On Thursday, Trump tweeted attacks on Amazon: “Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy,” and “Amazon is doing great damage to tax paying retailers.”
  13. On Saturday, Trump was again tweeting about Amazon, calling the company a “scam” and falsely claiming the post offices loses “Billions of Dollars” because of Amazon.
  14. At a speech at Yale, after joking he wasn’t going to talk about the 2016 election, saying “I’m still in therapy,” Jeb Bush attacked Trump as “Republican in basically name only,” adding he goes home to children who “actually love me.”
  15. Eric and Donald Jr. took to Twitter to fire back at Bush, with Donald Jr. tweeting, Trump learned enough about politics in a few weeks to “dismantle you piece by piece despite it being your life’s work.”
  16. On Thursday, in what was billed as an infrastructure event before a crowd of union builders in Richfield, Ohio, Trump instead turned it into stream of consciousness-type of campaign rally-style speech.
  17. Trump harped on his Mexico wall, while comparing the border to the “demilitarized zone between North and South Korea,” adding “But our own border, we don’t take care of it. Think of it.”
  18. Trump mocked Obama for leaving so many judicial posts vacant, ignoring the Republican-controlled Senate for two years, “When I got in, we had over 100 federal judges that weren’t appointed…Why the hell did he leave that?”
  19. Trump also dismissed the country’s community colleges saying, “We do not know what a ‘community college’ means,” saying “call it vocational and technical,” indicating he didn’t know the difference between the two.
  20. Trump also said the US will end its military presence in Syria “very soon,” contradicting statements by his new SoS Pompeo and his incoming national security John Bolton, who have both said US troops should stay there for the foreseeable future.
  21. Trump also touched on random topics including the firing of Shulkin, North Korea, and complimented the success of his supporter Roseanne Barr’s reboot of her sitcom, “Look at Roseanne — look at her ratings.”
  22. On Friday, Roseanne tweeted, “Trump has freed so many children held in bondage to pimps all over this world. Hundreds each month.” This pro-Trump conspiracy theory originated with QAnon, a user on the anonymous message board 4chan.
  23. On Thursday, Andrew McCabe set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for his legal fees. In the first 24 hours, McCabe raised close to half a million dollars.
  24. On Thursday, Sessions rebuffed a call by Republicans to appoint a second special counsel to look into the FBI’s handling of its most high profile probes, saying such appointments occur only in “extraordinary circumstances.”
  25. Sessions revealed he instead has named US Attorney John Huber to look into these topics, including the DOJ’s and FBI’s actions in 2016 and 2017, and several matters related to Hillary Clinton and her family’s foundation.
  26. On Friday, after apologizing for mocking Parkland student David Hogg, and losing 14 of her show’s sponsors, Fox News host Laura Ingraham announced on her show that she would be taking a break being on-air.
  27. Despite being accused by at least 15 women of sexual misconduct, several of which are currently live cases, Trump issued a proclamation Friday designating April National Sexual Assault Awareness month.
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New York City, February 2018.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 70: DICTATOR (wannabe)

Week 69 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

March 10, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-69-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-da89823dc88b

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Artist: Tee Wat

This week, Trump acted like a dictator, taking policy matters into his own hands. After praising China’s President Xi for ending term limits, Trump took controversial actions, imposing tariffs and setting up a meeting with Kim Jong-un — both against his party’s positions, and taken after foregoing or ignoring experts’ and allies’ advice.

Amid record turnover, Trump’s inner-circle continues to shrink, which is likely to continue as Trump reportedly tells friends the White House problems come from those around him, not him. With almost one-third of key roles in the executive branch key roles remaining unfilled, and many senior White House roles vacated, increasingly power and control lies in the hands of Trump alone, while the legislative branch remains largely compliant.

Despite Trump’s success in taking back the narrative this week by diverting media attention with the shiny coins of tariffs and a North Korea meeting, trouble lies ahead. This week a new cooperating witness was reported in the intensifying Mueller probe, and the Stormy Daniels story entered potentially dangerous legal territory for Trump and Michael Cohen.

  1. On Saturday, WAPO reported on the air of anxiety and volatility inside the White House as Trump rages. White House officials say these are darkest days in at least half a year, with one adding, “We haven’t bottomed out.”
  2. Retired four-star Army general Barry McCaffrey warned the American people and especially Congress should be alarmed, saying Trump is “starting to wobble in his emotional stability and this is not going to end well.”
  3. On Saturday, CNN obtained a recording of a closed-door campaign fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago that evening. Trump complained that his campaign was still under scrutiny while Hillary’s is not, blaming a “rigged system” that doesn’t have the “right people” in place to fix it.
  4. Trump called the Iraq invasion “the single worst decision ever made,” criticizing George W. Bush, “That was Bush. Another real genius,” as well as US intelligence: “Great intelligence agency there.”
  5. Trump praised China’s President Xi, who in Week 68, did away with term limits, saying “He’s now president for life. President for life,” adding, “I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”
  6. On Monday, NY Post reported a New Jersey Transit worker made an announcement on a Manhattan-bound train warning passengers that ICE agents were on board “looking for illegals.” The worker was suspended.
  7. On Monday, fights broke out and police made arrests as white supremacists clashed with protesters ahead of Richard Spencer delivering a speech at Michigan State University to what was reportedly a tiny crowd.
  8. AP reported Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services issued new guidelines and priorities for $260 million of Title X grant applications, giving preference to groups that stress abstinence at the expense of reproductive health organizations.
  9. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists called it turning “back the clock on women’s health,” and others noted the regime’s continued practice of shifting away from science to unscientific ideologies.
  10. On Thursday, Mississippi legislature passed a ban on abortion after 15 weeks, the nation’s most restrictive abortion bill. The bill will now head to the governor, who has publicly said he will sign it.
  11. Des Moines Register reported the Iowa Senate approved a ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The ban will now move to the state’s House of Representatives where its outcome is uncertain.
  12. Alejandra Pablos, a 32-year-old prominent reproductive justice activist, was detained by ICE while traveling to Phoenix from Virginia this week to check in with immigration officials, necessitated by a DUI three years ago.
  13. Pablos will be held in a detention center outside Tucson until her December court date. The Supreme Court ruled in Week 68 that people being held for deportation are not entitled to a bond hearing.
  14. On Friday, the ACLU filed a class-action suit against the Trump regime, accusing it of broadly separating immigrant families seeking asylum. The lawsuit follows a case in Week 68 of ICE separating a Congolese woman from her 7-year-old daughter.
  15. Trump’s DHS has not announced a formal policy to separate adults seeking asylum from their children, but the regime has said they are considering doing this broadly to discourage asylum seekers from coming to the US.
  16. Dallas Morning News reported that Stacy Bailey, a popular art teacher at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School in Mansfield, was suspended for asking that LGBTQ language be added to school district’s policy.
  17. WAPO reported on a nationwide analysis issued by California’s insurance marketplace which found premiums for ACA health insurance plans could rise by 35–94% around the country in the next three years.
  18. In a Fish and Wildlife Service memorandum quietly issued by the Trump regime last Thursday, the regime said it will now consider elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe and Zambia on a case-by-case basis.
  19. In South Cumberland Elementary School, 100 miles east of Nashville, amural depicting a lynching was removed from the gymnasium wall after months of calls and emails to the superintendent and the school board.
  20. On Monday, California-based cartoonist Matt Furie, who created Pepe the Frog, sued website Infowars for selling a poster using the character alongside Alex Jones, Trump, Milo Yiannopoulos, and other right-wing figures.
  21. HuffPost reported Ben Carson changed the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s mission statement, deleting a reference to protecting consumers, and removing the mandate to “build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.”
  22. On Monday, a federal judge declined a request from the state of California to immediately stop enforcement of a key part of the Trump regime’s policy to punish sanctuary cities for protecting undocumented immigrants.
  23. On Tuesday, Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice sued the state of California and two top state officials for impeding immigration enforcement, citing the Constitution gives the government sweeping authority over immigration.
  24. Sessions’ DOJ claims California is blocking enforcement efforts by DHS. Tuesday evening, Gov. Jerry Brown responded calling the federal lawsuit a political stunt and “SAD!
  25. On Sunday, NYT reported Rex Tillerson’s State Department has yet to spend any of $120 million it was allocated since late 2016 to counter Russia’s efforts to meddle in elections and sow distrust in democracy.
  26. None of the 23 analysts in the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, tasked with countering Moscow’s disinformation, speak Russian. A hiring freeze has hindered bringing on computer experts to track Russian efforts.
  27. Tillerson continues to focus on drastically shrinking the State Department. Last year, the department spent just 79% of the money allocated by Congress, the lowest in 15 years.
  28. Axios reported VA secretary David Shulkin started handling his own media, saying Trump appointees in his agency are conspiring to undermine him. Shulkin also told Politico he has the green light to “purge” his agency.
  29. On Friday, WAPO reported Shulkin has canceled morning meetings with Trump’s political appointees, gathering instead with only aides he trusts. Shulkin has also placed an armed guard outside his office.
  30. William Otis, a Trump pick for a seat on the US Sentencing Commission, the body that sets policy used to punish federal criminals, has called for abolishing the agency and made racially charged comments about crime.
  31. On Tuesday, AP reported John Konkus, a Republican consultant and key aide to Scott Pruitt, was granted permission by the Environmental Protection Agency to make extra money moonlighting for private clientswhose identities are being kept secret.
  32. The letter detailing the arrangement, which was released to Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, gave Konkus approval to work for at least two clients, whose names were redacted in the letter.
  33. On Tuesday, the US Office of Special Counsel announced Kellyanne Conway had violated the Hatch Act on two cable-TV interviews by “advocating for and against candidates” in last year’s Alabama Senate special election.
  34. OSC special counsel, Henry Kerner, said Conway “impermissibly mixed official government business with political views,” and referred her violation to Trump for “consideration of appropriate disciplinary action.”
  35. On Tuesday, the White House said Conway did not violate the Hatch Act because she “did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate,” rather broadly for people who would support Trump’s agenda.
  36. Rep. Elijah Cummings, ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, called on Trump to take disciplinary action. UN ambassadorNikki Haley and social media director Dan Scavino have also received reprimands or warnings on the Hatch Act.
  37. On Tuesday, Gary Cohn resigned as head of the National Economic Council, saying there was no single factor in his decision, but Trump’s choice to impose tariffs seemed to be the final straw.
  38. On Wednesday, ABC News reported John Kelly has terminated or reassigned several White House staffers for issues related to their security clearances, including at least one staffer who worked in the Office of the First Lady.
  39. In an op-ed John Feeley, US ambassador to Panama resigned “because the traditional core values of the US…have been warped and betrayed.” Feeley said he made a private decision to step down after Charlottesville.
  40. On Wednesday, NPR reported that 13 1/2 months in a record-setting 43% of top-level positions in the Trump White House have seen turnover. After two full years, Obama was at 24% and George W. Bush at 33%.
  41. On Tuesday, during Congressional testimony, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao admitted that Trump personally killed the Gateway project, a plan for a new tunnel between Manhattan and New Jersey, in Week 60.
  42. On Wednesday, Betsy DeVos visited Parkland high school. One student tweeted, “Betsy Devos came to my school, talked to three people, and pet a dog.” DeVos also held a press conference which lasted only eight minutes.
  43. CNN reported on a Sinclair internal memo, branded an “anchor delivered journalistic responsibility message,” telling local TV stations to decry “fake stories” from national news outlets — echoing Trump’s “fake news” claims.
  44. AP reported the Interior Department plans to spend $139,000 to upgrade three sets of double doors in Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office. Zinke’s spokesperson said he was not aware. The contractor at Conquest Solutions hung up on AP.
  45. On Thursday, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short declined to provide the details to the House Oversight Committee on how Rob Porter was permitted to work for the White House with an interim security clearance
  46. On Friday, Rep. Cummings, ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, wrote a letter to Trey Gowdy, chair of the committee, asking that a subpoena be issued to force the White House to turn over the security clearance documents.
  47. On Friday, NYT reported EPA chief Pruitt wanted to host public debates challenging climate change science, but Kelly nixed the idea. Pruitt said Trump has expressed enthusiasm for the idea.
  48. WAPO reported the Trump regime’s Domestic Policy Council and the Department of Justice is studying new policy which would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty for drug dealers.
  49. The regime cites the death penalty as part of their strategy to address the opioid crisis. As per Week 68, Trump has said he admires the Chinese and Filipinos who don’t have drug problem, because “they just kill them.”
  50. On Monday, calling it “Bigger than Watergate,” Trump took to Twitter to blame Obama for launching the Russia probe in order to discredit his campaign “so Crooked H would win.” Trump also tweeted Obama “did NOTHING about Russian meddling.”
  51. On Tuesday, Trump denounced as “wrong” reporting that his White House is in chaos, tweeting it is a “Fake News narrative,” and his White House has “great Energy!” adding “I still have some people that I want to change.”
  52. On Sunday, Axios reported on a grand jury subpoena sent to a witness by Robert Mueller last month seeking all communications sent and receivedwith Carter Page, Corey Lewandowski, Trump, Hope Hicks, Keith Schiller, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roger Stone, and Steve Bannon from November 1, 2015 to the present.
  53. Trump launched his campaign 4 1/2 months earlier. On Monday, NBC News reported Sam Nunberg was the witness who received the subpoena. Nunberg spent much of Monday making media appearances.
  54. After telling the media Monday that he would defy a subpoena from Mueller, on Tuesday, Nunberg changed course, telling AP, “I’m going to end up cooperating with them.”
  55. On Friday, Nunberg appeared at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC. Nunberg is the first Trump campaign affiliate to appear in front of a grand jury in the Mueller probe and walk through the main entrance.
  56. On Saturday, after spending six hours in front of the grand jury, Nunberg told ABC News he now believes the Mueller probe is “warranted,” adding “there’s a lot there.”
  57. On Monday, a deep dive on Christopher Steele by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker revealed several previously unreported stories. Mayer says Steele’s life “is sort of a mess at this point, thanks to American politics.”
  58. Initially Steele did not know he was doing research for the Clinton campaign. The campaign in turn didn’t know at the time that Steele had gone to the FBI with his findings, or that the FBI opened an investigation.
  59. Mayer reported that the CIA became convinced by the very end of the summer that the Russians were not only interfering, but also trying to help Trump, as Steele had been saying. Obama wanted to issue a bi-partisan public statement but Sen. Mitch McConnell blocked it, saying he would not sign off.
  60. In a second short memo written in November 2016, Steele cites one Russian source who claimed Moscow intervened to block Trump from picking Mitt Romney for his SoS, because Romney would be unfriendly to Russian interests. Steele shared this information with Mueller’s team.
  61. Mayer also reports that Obama and Biden didn’t know about Russian hacking until August 2016, and didn’t know about the dossier until an Oval Office meeting in January 2017.
  62. On Thursday, WSJ reported on analysis which shows that weeks after Trump won the election, Russia-backed online “trolls” flooded social media trying to block Romney from becoming SoS.
  63. The trolls used terms like “two headed snake” and a “globalist puppet” to describe Romney, and promoted a rally outside Trump Tower and helped spread a petition to block Romney from being nominated.
  64. On Monday, the Senate Intelligence Committee investigators said it will question Reddit and Tumblr, amid recent reporting that Internet Research Agency had accounts on both social media platforms during the 2016 election.
  65. On Monday, NYT reported Anastasia Vashukevich, a Belarusian escort, said from jail in Bangkok that she had more than 16 hours of audio recordings that could help shed light on Russian interference in the US election.
  66. Vashukevich said she is close to Oleg Deripaska, and the recordings made in August 2016 feature his discussions about the US presidential election. She said she would turn over the tapes in return for asylum in the US.
  67. ABC News reported Flynn put his Virginia home up for sale to pay his mounting legal fees in the Mueller probe. Flynn’s youngest brother said, “This has been a trying experience. It has been a crucible and it’s not over.”
  68. On Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was grilled by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Trump’s response to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Coats said there are ongoing conversations between Trump and US intelligence agencies.
  69. Coats said, “We assess that Russia is likely to continue to pursue even more aggressive cyber attacks with the intent of degrading our democratic values and weakening our alliances.”
  70. When pressed on what is being done, Coats said that information is classified, and answered Trump “directs me to do my job and my job is to provide the intelligence.”
  71. On Sunday, NYT reported Mueller’s team is focused on George Nader, an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed of the UAE. Last year. Nader was a frequent visitor to Trump’s WH to meet with Bannon and Jared Kushner.
  72. In recent weeks, Mueller’s team has interviewed Nader about possible attempts by the UAE to buy influence by contributing financial support to Trump during the presidential campaign. It is illegal for foreign entities to contribute to campaigns or for campaigns to accept foreign money.
  73. Around Trump’s inauguration, Nader meet with Elliott Broidy, a Republican fund-raiser, whom he later introduced to Prince Mohammed. Broidy lobbied Trump to meet privately “in an informal setting” with Prince Mohammad.
  74. On October 6, 2017 Broidy sent a detailed memorandum to the crown prince and Nader through an encrypted email address about his advocacy for the UAE in his meetings with Trump and others in the White House.
  75. On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported Broidy learned last week that his email accounts used in his capacity as a deputy finance chairman of the RNC and in foreign affairs circles, had been hacked.
  76. Law-enforcement officials have been notified and are investigating. Broidy used his political ties to advance his business interests and those of foreign leaders. All the information will be released soon on “the dark web.”
  77. In 2009, Broidy pleaded guilty to paying nearly $1 million in gifts to officials with close ties to the comptroller overseeing the NY state pension fund in exchange $250 million of public funds to manage and $18 million in management fees.
  78. On Tuesday, NYT reported Nader is cooperating and gave testimony to a grand jury last week. Nader is being questioned by Mueller’s team on the influence of foreign money on Trump’s political activities and about the January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles, which Nader attended.
  79. The Seychelles meeting was arranged by Prince Mohammed between Erik Prince, as a representative of Trump, and Kirill Dmitriev, a Putin ally, and Nader, reportedly per Week 21 to set up back-channel communication.
  80. Shortly after Seychelles, Dmitriev met with Anthony Scaramucci, then an informal advisor to Trump, at Davos. In an interview there with Russia-news agency TASS, Scaramucci criticized Obama’s economic sanctions as ineffective.
  81. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Nader started cooperating with Mueller after he arrived at Dulles airport in mid-January. Nader, who helped organize the Seychelles meeting, has testified in front of a grand jury.
  82. Nader’s testimony was part of Mueller’s effort to gather information which indicated the Seychelles meeting in January 2017 was an effort to establish a back channel between the incoming regime and the Kremlin.
  83. Nader also told Mueller’s team the meeting was set up before the inauguration so a member of the Trump transition could meet with an emissary from Moscow to discuss future relations between the countries.
  84. Erik Prince gave a false statement in his House Intelligence Committee testimony, telling lawmakers the meeting was a chance encounter that was not a planned discussion.
  85. On Wednesday, CNN reported after meeting Nader as he arrived at Dulles with search warrants, the FBI imaged his electronic devices and served him with a subpoena to appear before a grand jury on January 21.
  86. Reportedly Mueller is interested in at least two meetings Nader attended: the December 2016 meeting in New York which the Obama Administration was not notified about, and the Seychelles meeting.
  87. CNN reported there is no indication Nader is suspected of wrongdoing, but his knowledge of these meeting could help investigators understand possible efforts to influence key figures in the administration.
  88. On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham said there should be a second special counsel to investigate Republican’s claims of improper surveillance of Page, saying the DOJ and FBI “got off the rails” by approving the warrant.
  89. On Wednesday, NBC News reported Hicks told the House Intelligence Committee last week that one of her email accounts was hacked, and she could no longer access either her personal or Trump campaign accounts.
  90. On Wednesday, NYT reported that Mueller has learned of two conversations between Trump and key witnesses, Don McGahn and Reince Priebus, to ask them about their testimony in the Russia probe.
  91. In one conversation, Trump told Porter to instruct McGahn to issue a statement denying the January 7 NYT article, which reported Trump told McGahn to fire Mueller. McGahn said no, and reminded Trump he did ask that.
  92. After McGahn would not deny the NYT article, Trump confronted him in the Oval Office in front of Kelly. Trump also asked Priebus in December2017 how his interview with Mueller’s team went, and if they were nice.
  93. Trump lawyers’ advised him to avoid anything that could be construed as interfering. Witnesses and lawyers who learned of the conversationthought they could be problematic and reported them to Mueller.
  94. On Thursday, Manafort was arraigned on 18 tax and fraud charges in a federal court in Virginia. The judge mandated home confinement and that Manafort wear a second GPS monitoring device.
  95. A trial date was set for July 10, ahead of the Washington DC trial which is scheduled to start September 17. Jurors will hear from 20 to 25 witnesses, and the trial is expected to last eight to 10 days.
  96. On Friday, WSJ reported Trump’s lawyers are negotiating with Mueller. One idea is Trump would give an interview in exchange for a deadline to the probe 60 days after the interview.
  97. Trump is pressuring his legal team to bring an end to the probe. Another consideration is reaching agreement on the scope of Trump’s testimony, which his lawyers want to limit to the firings of Flynn and James Comey.
  98. On Friday, WAPO reported Trump was so eager to have Putin attend the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow that he made his first direct outreach in a personal letter, including a personal handwritten note.
  99. Trump also tweeted from the pageant, “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow — if so, will he become my new best friend?”
  100. Trump wrote the letter, which has been turned over to Mueller, at a time he was looking to expand his real estate empire. Mueller’s team has questioned witnesses about the Miss Universe pageant and Trump’s interest in having Putin attend the event.
  101. Mueller is also examining Trump’s relationship with the Agalarovs. Emin Agalarov emailed Donald Jr. in June 2016 to ask if he would like to meet with Natalia Veselnitskaya, which led to the June 9 Trump Tower meeting.
  102. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Mueller’s team has requested documents and interviewed witnesses about incidents involving Cohen over the past several months, including in recent weeks.
  103. Mueller’s team is interested in Cohen’s roles in the discussions around apossible Trump Tower Moscow project, as well as a Russia-friendly peace proposal for Ukraine delivered by a Ukrainian lawmaker to Cohen one week after Trump took office.
  104. On Monday, WSJ reported that First Republic Bank flagged the October 27, 2016 $130,000 payment from Cohen to Stephanie Clifford as suspicious, and reported it to the Treasury Department.
  105. WSJ reported Cohen said he missed two deadlines earlier that month to make the $130,000 payment because he couldn’t get in touch with Trumpin the hectic final days of the campaign to reimburse him for the payment.
  106. WAPO also reported City National Bank, the bank which received the payment on behalf of Clifford launched an internal inquiry about the payment a full year after receiving the funds.
  107. On Tuesday, Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels,sued Trump, alleging that since he never signed the non-disclosure agreement, the “hush agreement” in invalid.
  108. In the agreement, Trump is referred to as David Dennison, and Clifford as Peggy Peterson. The agreement and side letter have a DD where Trump was supposed to sign. According to Clifford’s lawyer, he did not.
  109. Clifford’s lawsuit adds credence to the legal complaint filed by Common Cause in Week 67 that the $130,000 payment amounted to an undeclared in-kind contribution to Trump’s presidential campaign.
  110. On Wednesday, NYT reported Trump’s lawyer obtained a restraining order last week in California to prevent Clifford from speaking out about her alleged affair with Trump.
  111. Although Clifford had reached an agreement to keep silent about her affair with Trump, her newly released settlement agreement reveals she did share her story with four people.
  112. One person was adult-film actress Jessica Drake, listed as “Angel Ryan” in the agreement, who is now being represented by Gloria Allred. Others known are Clifford’s manager Gina Rodriguez and Keith Munyan.
  113. Jessica Drake had also accused Trump of sexual misconduct a month before the election. A Trump spokesperson had said that Trump didn’t know the woman and had “no interest in ever knowing her.”
  114. On Wednesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump denied the affair or making the payment himself, and that “there was no knowledge of any payments from the president.”
  115. Sanders said the arbitration was won in Trump’s favor, admitting the nondisclosure agreement exists and directly involves Trump, marking the first time the White House admitted Trump was involved in any way with Daniels.
  116. On Thursday, CNN reported Trump was upset at Sanders over her responses to questions about Clifford, with one source saying Sanders “gave the Stormy Daniels storyline steroids yesterday.”
  117. On Friday, NBC News reported Cohen used his Trump Organization email while negotiating with Clifford and arranging to wire funds for her silence, indicating Cohen may have been acting in an official capacity.
  118. Cohen also used his Trump Organization email account in an email dated October 26 with a representative of First Republic Bank as the funds were being wired.
  119. Experts say the payment to Clifford could be a violation of election law. If Cohen paid out of his own money as stated, and intended to help the campaign, that would be an excessive contribution and illegal.
  120. If Trump paid the $130,000 out of his own funds, he would have had to disclose the payment, otherwise it could be construed as a knowing and willful violation of federal election law, which is a federal crime.
  121. On Monday, the majority owner of the Panama Hotel, Orestes Fintiklis, declared victory as Trump’s name was removed from his hotel, following a Panamanian court order authorizing a change of administration.
  122. WNYC reported Trump ordered new tee markers for his golf courses using with the Presidential Seal. Under federal law, the seal’s use is permitted only for official government business, and misuse can be a crime.
  123. Forbes reported one year after taking office, Trump’s fortune dropped by $400 million to $3.1 billion on Forbes World’s Billionaires list, citing market declines in NYC real estate and Trump’s polarizing personality.
  124. On Thursday, in a federal court filing, a group of former Justice Department officials raised concerns about Trump’s possible interference in the AT&T-Time Warner merger, over his grudge with CNN.
  125. The Young Turks reported King & Spalding, a law firm that has worked on Trump’s real estate concerns, filed a disclosure with the FARA revealing Saudi Arabia paid the firm up to $450,000 for a 30-day period.
  126. The contract was registered with the DOJ on February 21. Five days later, Secretary Rick Perry canceled a scheduled trip to India to instead fly to London to discuss a nuclear cooperation agreement with senior Saudi officials.
  127. On Friday, Trump pardoned Kristian Saucier, a former Navy sailor.Saucier’s lawyer strategically planned to go on Fox News at a time of day Trump watches, and invoked Hillary’s use of a private email server.
  128. On Friday, the Trump Organization said it has donated $151,470 in foreign government profits from its hotels and similar businesses last yearto the US Treasury, but refused to provide any details.
  129. Few public records are available. The DOJ foreign agent records reveal a public relations firm working with the Saudi government spent $270,000 for lodging and catering between Oct. 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, alone.
  130. On Tuesday, the UK government warned Russia of a robust response if the Kremlin is behind the sudden illness of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, both of whom were exposed to an unknown substance Sunday.
  131. On Wednesday, Mark Rowley, head of Counter Terrorism Policing, said a nerve agent was used to try to kill Skripal and his daughter. Both are in critical condition.
  132. On Thursday, The Telegraph reported Skripal has close ties to a security consultant who worked for Steele’s Orbis Business Intelligence, the company that compiled the dossier.
  133. On Friday, Britain deployed 180 special troops to Salisbury. Russia’s Sergei Lavrov dismissed the UK government’s threat of retaliation as propaganda. There was no response from the White House or State Department.
  134. On Wednesday, the EU unveiled an array of tariffs they would place on US goods if Trump follows through with tariffs, adding Trump’s move would put “thousands of European jobs in jeopardy” and would be met with a “proportionate response”
  135. On Wednesday, 107 House Republicans urged Trump to “to take action against China and other unfair trading partners,” but avoid broad tariffs that would hurt jobs, manufacturing and consumers.
  136. On Thursday, a study done by the Council on Foreign Relations found Trump’s steel tariffs could kill up to 40,000 auto jobs by the end of 2019, equal to nearly one-third of the steel workforce.
  137. On Thursday, Trump tweeted that China has been asked to “develop a plan for the year of a One Billion Dollar reduction in their massive Trade Deficit.” The actual trade deficit is $100 billion, not $1 billion.
  138. On Thursday, in defiance of allies, Trump signed an order imposing tariffs on every country except Canada and Mexico. Shortly after, Sen. Jeff Flake he would immediately “draft and introduce legislation to nullify” the tariffs.
  139. On Thursday, a group of 11 countries, including close US allies Japan, Canada, and Australia, signed a revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership without the US. Countries involved with TPP, originally conceived by the US to counter China’s influence, have left the door open for China to join.
  140. On Thursday, during a press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Tillerson said on North Korea, “In terms of direct talks with the United States, you ask negotiations and we’re a long ways from negotiations.”
  141. On Thursday, at the State Department press briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert said of North Korea, “We are not going to schedule talks about talks or any kind of chat or anything like that at this point.”
  142. Later Thursday, in an unusual breach of protocol, South Korea official Chung Eui-yong, not a US official, announced at the White House that Kim Jong-un had invited Trump to meet for negotiations, and Trump had accepted.
  143. Trump would become the first sitting US leader to meet with a North Korea dictator — an act which will elevate Kim Jong-un on the world stage. Previously, the highest level US official to meet was SoS Madeleine Albright in 2000.
  144. The State Department was not involved in Trump’s decision making. The department’s chief North Korea negotiator, Joseph Yun, recently resigned, and the posts of US ambassador to South Korea and North Korea remain unfilled.
  145. Previously, Trump had said he would start talks with North Korea “only under the right conditions.” Like tariffs, Trump appears to have made the decision to meet impulsively and without consulting experts.
  146. On Friday, WSJ reported late Thursday, Trump interrupted three South Koreans officials as they analyzed an offer to meet with Kim Jong-un and outlined possible diplomatic options, saying “OK, OK, tell them I’ll do it.”
  147. The South Korean officials reportedly looked at each other in disbelief. White House aides, State Department officials, U.S. intelligence officers and others were left scrambling to work out arrangements for a meeting.
  148. On Friday, press secretary Sanders told reporters at the daily press briefing that Trump “will not have the meeting without seeing concrete steps and concrete actions take place by North Korea.”
  149. In a sign of the disarray by Trump’s sudden decision, a White House spokesperson shortly after issued a statement contradicting Sanders, saying, “The invitation has been extended and accepted, and that stands.”
  150. On Friday, Vanity Fair reported Trump has told close friends he is tired of being reined in. Republican sources say Trump believes the problem is the team around him, and he will replace his senior staff in the coming weeks.
  151. Sources say Trump plans to fire Kelly next, adding Cohn wanted the position, but Trump laughed at him. H.R. McMaster, Kushner, and Ivanka could come after according to sources. Trump recently met with John Bolton.
  152. On Friday, CNN reported on a Pentagon memo outlining the initial guidance for Trump’s military parade on Veterans Day. The parade will not include tanks in order to “minimize damage to local infrastructure.”
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On the streets of New York City, 2018
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Artist: Tee Pop – Miami, FL 2017

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

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 41: EVIL MONKEY

Week 40 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

August 19, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-40-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-eb3a830375a9

This week’s list is not the longest, but it is certainly the most heartbreaking. Trump’s comments on Charlottesville legitimized the worst of us, and spawned a watershed moment for our country. His remarks were met with widespread condemnation and reactions, and precipitated a mass exodus of corporate CEOs, wiping away any lingering doubts that Trump’s goals were ever truly linked to job creation. For the first time, real questions about fitness for office were raised out loud by both sides.

This week in Trump’s shrinking, chaotic regime it became even clearer that Trump answers to no one but himself. He continues to attack and attempt to intimidate Republicans into submission, as part of his continuing efforts to consolidate power.

  1. In an impromptu news conference on Charlottesville late Saturday afternoon, Trump said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.
  2. White supremacists and neo-Nazi leaders cheered Trump’s “on many sides” comments, taking his words as a defense, or even as a tacit approval, of their action.
  3. On Sunday, the WH issued a statement to “clarify” Trump’s Saturday comments, saying Trump condemns all forms of “violence, bigotry and hatred” while naming white supremacists, KKK, and neo-Nazis.
  4. 32 year-old Heather Heyer was killed Saturday after a car driven by James Fields rammed into a crowd of counter-protestors in Charlottesville. Nineteen others were injured.
  5. Daily Caller and Fox News deleted a post titled, “Here’s A Reel Of Cars Plowing Through Protesters Trying To Block The Road,” which included a video encouraging people to drive through protests.
  6. Two state troopers, Lieutenant Cullen and Trooper Bates, who were keeping watch on the demonstrations in Charlottesville, were killed when their helicopter went down.
  7. On Sunday, a candlelight vigil planned for Heather Heyer in Charlottesville was cancelled due to a “credible threat from white supremacists.
  8. Neo-Nazis disparaged Heyer, and the KKK celebrated her death. Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer was taken down after activists, led by my Sunday tweet, contacted domain hosts Go Daddy, Google, etc.
  9. After US hosting companies refused to host The Daily Stormer, the website briefly relocated to Russia, for which they thanked Trump, before being kicked off there too. China rebuffed them too.
  10. In the wake of Charlottesville, numerous tech companies including Facebook, Google, Spotify, Uber, Squarespace and many others took action to curb use of their services and platforms by alt-right groups.
  11. A Unite the Right organizer was disavowed by his family. Several marchers who were identified on social media lost their jobs. Others were asked to denounce their activities or were expelled by colleges.
  12. On Sunday, Trump’s popularity hit a new low at Gallup with 34% approving and 61% disapproving (-27).
  13. On Monday, Sessions said the car ramming into Heather Heyer and 19 others “does meet the definition of domestic terrorism” under US law.
  14. On Monday morning, Merck’s CEO resigned from Trump’s American Manufacturing Council saying as a “matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”
  15. Later Monday, Trump tweeted @Merck is a leader in “higher & higher drug prices,” and “taking jobs out of the U.S.
  16. Later Monday and Tuesday, four more CEOs resigned from Trump’s American Manufacturing Council over his handling of Charlottesville.
  17. Trump countered, “I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on.” Trump offered no new names publicly.
  18. On Wednesday, NYT reported the CEOs on Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum held a morning conference call to discuss whether to disband the policy forum. The Manufacturing Council planned a call that afternoon.
  19. Before the policy forum, and possible manufacturing council could formally disband, midday Wednesday Trump tweeted “rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople,” he was ending both.
  20. On Thursday, the WH announced the Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure, which was still being formed, would not move forward.
  21. On Monday, Trump said he is “seriously considering” a pardon for ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio, saying, “He’s a great American patriot.”
  22. In the aftermath of Charlottesville, the Phoenix mayor called on Trump to delay his planned rally next week, saying Trump’s plan to pardon Arpaio could “enflame emotions and further divide our nation.”
  23. Minutes after the Phoenix mayor’s statement, Trump tweeted a link for tickets to his Phoenix event.
  24. Advocates said there has been a spike in reports of anti-LGBTQ violence since Trump took office. As of August, there are already more hate-related homicides than in all of 2016, excluding Pulse.
  25. A Virginia high school sent a letter to parents saying selection for AP and Honors classes would at least partly based on race.
  26. On Monday, the Holocaust memorial in Boston was vandalized for the second time this summer.
  27. On Monday, reading from a teleprompter, Trump gave his third version of comments on Charlottesville, calling the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists “repugnant” and saying, “racism is evil.”
  28. On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted then deleted an image of a train running over a CNN reporter.
  29. On Tuesday at Trump Tower, with Mnuchin, Chao and Cohn by this side, Trump turned what was supposed to be remarks about his infrastructure plan into an “off-the-rails” news conference on Charlottesville.
  30. Reversing himself for the fourth time in four days, Trump said “I think there’s blame on both sides” — insinuating that the “alt-left” was just as much to blame as white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
  31. Trump claimed not all the white supremacists and neo-Nazis were bad people, “you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”
  32. When asked about Bannon, Trump said “He’s a good man. He’s not a racist,” and that the press treats him, “frankly, very unfairly.”
  33. Trump claimed alt-right protestors had a permit, but counter-protesters “came charging in without a permit” and “were very, very violent.” WAPOgave the claim that counter-protestors had no permit 4 Pinocchios.
  34. Trump equated taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville to taking down statues of Washington (“George Washington was a slave owner”) and Jefferson (“Because he was a major slave owner”).
  35. Trump’s staff, expecting brief remarks on infrastructure, were stunned by his action. One senior WH official told NBC, Trump “went rogue.”
  36. POLITICO reported Trump was “in good spirits” Tuesday night, and felt the “new conference went much better” than his Monday speech.
  37. Alt-right leaders praised Trump’s Tuesday comments. Richard Spencer said he was “really proud of him,” and David Duke tweeted, “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth.”
  38. Axios reported within the Trump WH, Bannon unapologetically supported Trump’s instinct to blame “both sides,” and that he and Trump “instinctively searched for “their” people in that group of protesters.”
  39. Mnuchin’s Yale classmates wrote an open letter calling on him to resign immediately, saying Trump “declared himself a sympathizer with groups” whose values are antithetical to Yale and decent human beings.
  40. In a Republican primary in Alabama Tuesday, Trump’s chosen candidate Luther Strange, who he very publicly supported, came in second.
  41. On Wednesday, Pence cut his international trip to Central and South America short to come home. The stated reason was to join a national security meeting on Friday, although rumors flew with other theories.
  42. On Wednesday, Fox News’ Shep Smith said his show “reached out to Republicans of all stripes across the country today” and couldn’t find a single one willing to come on and discuss Trump’s Tuesday comments.
  43. In a letter, fmr CIA director Brennan told CNN’s Blitzer Trump’s comments on Charlottesville were “despicable,” and that Trump “is putting our national security and our collective futures at grave risk.
  44. On Wednesday, the Generals of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard tweeted to condemn the racist violence in Charlottesville, declaring the nation’s armed forces unequivocally against hatred.
  45. Sen Corker, one of Trump’s first senate supporters who was also under consideration for VP, said Trump “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence” to be a successful leader.
  46. European leaders, including Merkel and May, denounced Trump’s comments on Charlottesville. Martin Schulz of German said Trump “is betraying our Western value.”
  47. Rep Steve Cohen of TN, a ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, introduced articles of impeachment in response to Trump’s comments on Charlottesville.
  48. On Wednesday, Sessions told NBC News that the Charlottesville car attack may be considered a “hate crime.
  49. USA Today Editorial Board called on Congress to censure Trump for his “shocking equivocations about the white-supremacist,” challenging Republicans to “stand up for American values” or be Trump enablers.
  50. On Thursday, the Cleveland Clinic pulled their 2018 Florida gala from Mar-a-Lago. Cleveland Clinic had held their event there for eight years.
  51. By Friday evening, 16 charities had pulled their events from Mar-a-Lago, costing the Trump Organization hundreds of thousands, or possibly millions in lost revenues.
  52. Citing violence at Charlottesville, Texas A&M and the University of Florida cancelled scheduled speaking appearances by white supremacist Richard Spencer, both citing safety concerns.
  53. On Thursday, Michigan State University denied a request by Spencer to rent space on the campus for a September event.
  54. Students and graduates of Lehigh University students petitioned trustees to revoke Trump’s honorary degree, citing Trump’s “both sides” remarks.
  55. Thousands gathered at UVA on Wednesday night for an unannounced candlelight vigil. They chanted “love wins,” and sang “We Shall Overcome” and “Amazing Grace.”
  56. At a funeral for Heather Heyer mother, Susan Bro said, “They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her.” Bro told NBC Thursday she has received death threats from hate groups.
  57. Bro said she will not meet with Trump after he blamed “both sides” for violence in Charlottesville. She also has not picked up his phone calls.
  58. Trump continued to tweet about Confederate statues after his news conference, “can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson — who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!”
  59. The great-great grandchildren of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson called for Confederate statues to be removed. They also condemned the white supremacist and violence in Charlottesville.
  60. They also suggested statues be moved to museums. Bertram Hayes-Davis, great-great-grandson of Jefferson Davis suggested, “In a public place, if it is offensive and people are taking issue with it, let’s move it.”
  61. In the days following the Charlottesville alt-right rally, 13 US cities and Duke University said they would remove Confederate monuments. Several other cities are considering same.
  62. After a terrorist attack in Spain, Trump tweeted about what General Pershing did when terrorist were caught: “There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” Politifact rated Trump’s claim, Pants on Fire.
  63. Trump continued to do battle with Republicans, targeting Flake who he called “toxic” and “WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate,” and Graham who he said “can’t forget his election trouncing.”
  64. Countering Trump, McConnell offered his “full support” for Flake.
  65. James Murdoch donated $1mm to the Anti-Defamation League in the wake of Charlottesville. As many of social media noted, Fox News played a major role in stoking the hate of far-right extremists.
  66. According to government documents published by one of Murdoch’s newspapers Tuesday, Australian authorities denied a bid by Trump to build a casino in 1988 due to his ties to the mafia and organized crime.
  67. HuffPost reported on Trump aide Katharine Gorka’s role in helping to pull DHS funding for Life After Hate, a group dedicated to countering neo-Nazis and white supremacists, as noted in Week 33. Of note: also in Week 33, the State Dept’s anti-Semitism monitoring office was shuttered.
  68. In an interview Thursday, former VP Gore said if he could give Trump one piece of advice, it would be to resign.
  69. On Friday, the 17 remaining members of Trump’s presidential arts and humanities panel resigned Friday in protest over his Charlottesville comments.
  70. Trump’s WH responded late Friday, saying Trump was going to disband the arts and humanities panel anyway.
  71. Trump and Melania said they will not attend this year’s Kennedy Center Honors in December. According to Huckabee Sanders, the decision is meant to allow “honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”
  72. The decision was made after numerous honorees announced their intentions to skip or protest if Trump attended. After Trump’s cancelation, event organizers said, “We are grateful for this gesture.”
  73. NBC called this week Trump’s “worst week yet,” and said he was more isolated than ever.
  74. Hope Hicks took over as the interim WH communications director, as Trump continued his search to replace Scaramucci. Hicks is the fourth person in that role.
  75. Trump’s personal lawyer John Dowd forwarded an email with secessionist Civil War propaganda. The email also stated the group Black Lives Matter “has been totally infiltrated by terrorist groups.”
  76. Trump’s DOJ issued a warrant to DreamHost demanding the company turn over all IP addresses related to DisruptJ20.org, a website used in planning actions to interrupt Trump’s inauguration.
  77. A week after the inauguration, the DOJ had asked for information such as people’s physical and email addresses and DreamHost had complied. DreamHost’s lawyers called the latest request a “complete overreach.
  78. NYT reported Mueller, for the first time, is seeking to interview past and current members of Trump’s WH beyond Manafort, including members of the communications team.
  79. Mueller is interested in interviewing Priebus about what occurred during the campaign and in the WH, especially as it relates to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting and the Comey firing.
  80. During a press conference on his visit to Columbia, Pence told reporters he “never witnessed” any evidence of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, and that he was “not aware” of it ever having occurred.
  81. WAPO reported Trump aid George Papadopoulos, starting in March 2016 with an email headed, “Meeting with Russian Leadership — Including Putin,” repeatedly tried to get Trump aides to meet with Russians.
  82. Experts on Russian intelligence speculated his email chain offers further evidence that Russians were looking for entry points into the Trump campaign. Papalopoulos said he was acting as a Russian intermediary.
  83. NYT reported on an investigation by Ukrainian investigators and the FBI of a Ukrainian malware expert named “Profexer,” for his part in a network of hackers allegedly engaged by Russia to hack the US election.
  84. Also under investigation is a Russian government hacking group, Advanced Persistent Threat 28 or Fancy Bear, believed to be involved in the DNC hacking. Much of the work was outsourced to private vendors.
  85. In the first know hitch, Mueller’s special counsel lost a top FBI investigator, Peter Strzok. It is unclear why Strzok stepped away.
  86. A US District court judge ruled that as part of a libel suit brought by Webzilla CEO Aleksej Gubarev against Buzzfeed, Steele could be questioned about the funding and sourcing of the dossier.
  87. Rep Rohrabacher, an advocate for the Kremlin, said he plans to brief Trump on his meeting with Assange. Assange told Rohrabacher that he was not behind the DNC hack, and that the Russians were not involved.
  88. Assange is trying to strike a deal so he can stop living in asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. In Week 23, Sessions said the DOJ was preparing charges against Assange whose “arrest is a priority.”
  89. The National Parks Service reversed a ban on plastic water bottles at national parks. The move came after confirmation of Trump’s Deputy Interior Secretary, who previously represented Deer Park Water.
  90. In a tweet, the Trump Organization featured a photo with the caption, “From our Presidential ballroom to intimate historic room,” to advertise meeting and event space.
  91. Raising ethical concerns, Justice Gorsuch is scheduled to address conservative groups at Trump Hotel DC in September, less than two weeks before the court will hear arguments on Trump’s Muslim Ban.
  92. Mattis’ DoD parted ways with senior media adviser, Steve Warren. Pentagon reporters have complained about lack of access to Mattis, and some recently being kicked off Mattis’s Middle East trip last minute.
  93. On Friday, Trump friend and ally Carl Icahn resigned as a special adviser to Trump, although Icahn had done nothing in that role. The WH said Icahn had been fired on Monday.
  94. Icahn resigned hours before The New Yorker published a piece on his conflicts of interest (see Week 20). The head of a watchdog group said, “This kind of self-enrichment and influence” was “unprecedented.”
  95. Trump tweeted photos from Camp David of him signing the Global War on Terrorism War Memorial Act. Of the 14 people at the signing, there was only one woman and not a single person of color.
  96. In an interview with The American Prospect on Wednesday, a venting Bannon referred to white supremacists as “clowns” and “losers.
  97. Contradicting Trump, Bannon said on N. Korea, “there’s no military solution here, they got us,” and added, “it’s just a sideshow.”
  98. In new interviews, Bannon said he viewed the post-Charlotte racial strife and turmoil as a political winner for Trump.
  99. On Friday, Trump fired Bannon. According to Bannon allies, he submitted his intention to leave the WH on August 7.
  100. Axios reported Bannon met with the billionaire Mercer family for five hours Friday in New York and “together they will be a well-funded force on the outside.”
  101. Bannon told Bloomberg that he would be returning to run Breitbart, and that he would be “going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America.”
  102. Bannon told the Weekly Standard, “The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” saying Trump will not achieve his campaign promises. Bannon vowed to continue the fight from the outside.
  103. In an op-ed titled, “I Voted for Trump, And I Sorely Regret It,” past avid supporter Julius Krein wrote of his disillusionment with Trump, and the realization that Trump would not achieve his stated goals.
  104. Right-wing radio host Limbaugh backed white nationalists and told his 26 million listeners that America is on the “cusp of a second civil war,” blaming international financiers who are trying to bring down America.
  105. On Saturday, Boston hosted a Free Speech Rally organized by conservatives and libertarians at Boston Commons. Friday, Mayor Walsh said 500 police officers would be there, and urged people to stay away.
  106. Thousands of counter-protestors marched through downtown Boston to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Police estimated 15k peacefully marched.

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 40: SHIP OF FOOLS

Week 39 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

August 12, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-39-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-1b911b954f30

Despite Congress being out of session and Trump on vacation, this was one of the most alarming weeks so far. Without provocation, Trump made aggressive statements towards three countries, and escalated the possibility of nuclear war with N. Korea. The country continued to burn in hate as violence surrounding a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville led to a state of emergency in Virginia.

Other troubling trends continued this week including: an increase of media controlled by Trump and his allies, an unstaffed and unprepared executive branch, and steps taken to suppress the vote in future elections. Even with his new chief of staff, it is apparent Trump is consolidating power and answering to no one. He is also stepping up his attacks on the legislative branch.

  1. On Sunday, reminiscent of state-owned propaganda, Trump launched the first broadcast of “real” Trump TV featuring Kayleigh McEnany, formerly a commentator on CNN.
  2. On Monday, the RNC named McEnany to be its national spokesperson, meaning she will get paid by the RNC for her Trump TV work.
  3. Lara Trump will run Trump TV as part of her job with consulting group Giles-Parscale. Per Week 31, Parscale has been called by Congressional investigators to testify on his role in the Trump campaign and Russia.
  4. Trump’s FCC chair, Ajit Pai, revived a regulatory loophole allowing Sinclair Broadcasting to vastly exceed federal limits on media ownership. When a pending deal closes, Sinclair will reach 72% of US households.
  5. VOX analyzed 17 months of Fox & Friends transcripts and found a symbiotic relationship between Trump and the show. Since the election, data reveals the show’s primary goal is talk to Trump, not their audience.
  6. On Fox News Sunday, Rosenstein said he has not been directed by Trump to investigate Hillary’s email, as suggested by Trump. Rosenstein added, “That wouldn’t be right. That’s not the way we operate.”
  7. Rosenstein also dismissed that the Russia probe is a “total fabrication” — the reference by Trump. He also said Mueller can investigate any crimes he discovers within the scope of his probe.
  8. Conway suggested WH staffers may be required to take lie-detector testsas part of the regime’s efforts to find leakers.
  9. WAPO Editorial Board wrote Trump’s DOJ is joining the GOP’s crusade to suppress voting, citing an Ohio case of culling voters before the SCOTUS. The Obama administration found this unlawful, Trump’s does not.
  10. Indiana NCAAP and Priorities USA are suing the state over a law which results in closing voting precincts in black and Latino areas.
  11. A WAPO survey found 52% of Republicans believe Trump won the popular vote, and would support postponing the 2020 election to make sure that only eligible American citizens could vote if Trump proposed it.
  12. AP reported Ivy League schools are bracing for scrutiny from the Trump regime for their efforts to make their campuses diverse.
  13. A bomb was tossed through the window of a Mosque in Bloomington, MN. Minnesota’s governor declared the bombing “an act of terrorism.”
  14. Trump did not acknowledge the bombing. Tuesday, Gorka said the WH would “wait and see” in case the blast turned out to be a hoax. By week end, Trump still had no comment.
  15. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted out a Fox News story about a vehicle ramming into soldiers in France, which the news agency insinuated, without having evidence yet, was carried out by Islamic terrorists.
  16. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund will appeal a federal judge’s ruling allowing a white Alabama town to secede from a racially-mixed county school district and start its own system.
  17. CNN fired conservative pundit Jeffrey Lord after he tweeted the Nazi salute, “Sieg Heil!” at a prominent liberal activist.
  18. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found Trump’s moves to undermine Obamacare have already triggered double-digit premium increases on individual health insurance policies in many states.
  19. NYT reported government scientists are concerned that a report by scientists in 13 federal agencies, which finds a drastic impact of climate change in the US, will be suppressed by Trump.
  20. In a series of emails obtained by The Guardian, the Trump regime advised staff at the USDA not to use certain terms like “climate change”and “climate change adaption.”
  21. Karina Brown, an Asian American woman who attended a Bon Jovi concert in Columbus, OH was told by a fellow concert-goer, “You don’t belong in this country.
  22. Five transgender troops sued Trump over his tweet to instate a transgender military ban.
  23. The Canadian military is building a refugee camp in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle near Plattsburgh, NY to house up to 500 US asylum seekers. This is in addition to a shelter at Montreal Olympic Stadium in Week 38.
  24. CNN reported Sam Clovis, Trump’s nominee to be chief scientist at the USDA, had on his conservative radio show stoked the birther conspiracy, called Eric Holder a “a racist black,” and Tom Perez “a racist Latino.”
  25. More than 75 consumer, health and advocacy groups came together to stop the Trump regime from stripping nursing home residents and their families of rights to take facilities to court over alleged abuse or neglect.
  26. As the Trump Organization tweeted about the launch of The Trump Estates and golf in Dubai, concerns continued to surface about ways US foreign policy has been impacted by the Trump family’s investments.
  27. WAPO reported on how Trump hotel DC has become a center of influence, where members of industry and others seeking access meet with Trump regime members. And Trump financially benefits.
  28. Trump Hotel DC turned a $2mm profit for the first four months of 2017, far exceeding the Trump Organization’s projected loss of $2.1mm. Driving profits were sky-high room prices and spending on food and beverages.
  29. WSJ reported rooms at Trump Hotel DC’s average daily room rate was $660 compared with $496 for comparable hotels. The room rates are 60% higher than the hotel’s original budget.
  30. The 18 Democrats on the House Oversight Comm sent letters to 15 cabinet departments and nine executive branch agencies requesting information on their spending at Trump Organization businesses.
  31. POLITICO reported Trump’s slow pace in filling vacancies at FERC has caused $13bn of infrastructure projects, expected to create 23k new jobs, to be indefinitely delayed.
  32. NYT and ProPublica continued to track Trump appointees put in charge of dismantling government regulations. 85 appointees have been identified, many with industry or legal ties, or other conflicts of interest.
  33. A US District Court judge in NY will hear arguments in the Trump foreign emoluments lawsuit starting on October 18.
  34. According to a letter to the Senate, the OGE has rejected retroactive waivers for the Trump regime.
  35. Trump ally Robert Mercer donated $300k to Flake’s Republican primary challenger after Flake spoke out against Trump. Among other benefits, the Mercers’ hedge fund has avoided $6.8bn of back taxes under Trump.
  36. AP reported Trump companies applied to a casino trademark in Macau, the world’s largest gambling market. Past applications by Trump had been rejected. Trump had pledged no new foreign deals while in office.
  37. Two top aides for UN ambassador Haley — her chief of staff and communications director — resigned. Haley said on Twitter it was because of “family concerns.”
  38. Four top cybersecurity officials resigned from their posts, including the chief information security officer for the EPA and the CIO for the DHS, both of whom had been in their jobs for just a few months.
  39. FORTUNE reported vegetable prices may be going up soon as Trump’s immigration policies have led to a farmworker shortage, and crops are rotting in the fields.
  40. The Toronto Star reported Trump has made 500 false claims in his first 200 days in office.
  41. A CNN poll taken at 200 days found just 24% of Americans trust most of what they hear from the WH.
  42. In another sign of Trump’s waning popularity, Democrat Phil Miller won a special election (+10) in a Iowa district Trump had won by 22 in 2016.
  43. AP reported Pence has been quietly carving out his own political foot-print, noting Republicans privately admit Trump could be the first president since Nixon to leave office or not to seek re-election.
  44. After Sen Blumenthal appeared on CNN to discuss the Russian probe, Trump attacked him on Twitter for 2 days, calling him a “phony Vietnam con artist,” and saying he “should take a nice long vacation in Vietnam.”
  45. Trump tweeted, “Thank you Nicole!” to an account @ProTrump45. The account, under the name Nicole Mincey, was deleted and appears to have been a bot, part of the Russia-backed disinformation campaign.
  46. VICE reported that since taking office, Trump receives a folder full of positive news about himself twice a day. Some in the WH refer to the folder as “the propaganda document.”
  47. Bloomberg reported Manafort and Donald Jr. turned over thousands of documents in August to the Senate Judiciary Comm in the Russia probe.
  48. Bloomberg also reported Fusion GPS, a company linked to the dossier, and its CEO have yet to turn over requested documents. Senate Judiciary Comm chair Grassley wants to know if Russians paid for the dossier.
  49. Page Six reported Trump’s story about a renovation at the 21 Club, which Trump told the generals while berating them about losing in Afghanistan (Week 38), was “completely wrong in every detail.
  50. On Wednesday, WAPO reported the FBI conducted a predawn raid on Manafort’s home in Alexandria, VA, seizing documents and other materials related to Mueller’s Russia probe.
  51. The raid occurred on July 26, the day Manafort was scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Comm and a day after he met with the Senate Intel Comm.
  52. The FBI search warrant was for documents relating to tax, banking and other matters. Sources said the FBI agents left with a “trove of material.”
  53. ABC reported Manafort was awoken in the predawn hours by a group of armed FBI agents knocking on his bedroom door.
  54. On July 26 Trump called for acting FBI director McCabe to be fired. Also, that morning he inexplicably tweeted his transgender military banwithout notifying the DoD or having a strategy in place.
  55. Bloomberg reported Manafort alerted Congressional investigators about the June 9 Trump Tower meeting three months ago.
  56. Trump ally the National Enquirer posted a story, “Trump Advisor Sex Scandal — Paul Manafort’s Sick Affair,” shortly after the WAPO article hit.
  57. POLITICO reported Federal investigators sought cooperation from Jeffrey Yohai, Manafort’s son-in-law, early in the summer, in an effort to increase pressure on Manafort.
  58. On Thursday, Manafort fired WilmerHale and switched to Miller and Chevalier, a boutique firm in Washington that specializes in complicated financial crimes.
  59. A story in The New Yorker noted that with Manafort’s sophistication and links to Russia oligarchs, he was in a good position to “understand what Vladimir Putin wanted from the Trump campaign.
  60. ABC reported Congressional investigators want to question Rhona Graff, Trump’s assistant for 30 years, on the email exchange and meeting at Trump Tower on June 9 with Russians.
  61. The bipartisan Sen Judiciary Comm asked the WH to respond to questions about changes to Kushner’s security clearance forms related to undisclosed meetings with Russians. The deadline to reply was July 6.
  62. On Tuesday afternoon, WAPO reported that analysis by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) concluded N. Korea has passed the key threshold of producing missile-ready nuclear weapons.
  63. Later Tuesday, from his golf course in Bedminster, Trump warned N. Korea against threatening US cities, saying threats “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.
  64. Late Tuesday, in reaction to Trump’s ‘red line’ of N. Korea threatening US cities, Kim Jong-un’s regime said it may strike Guam.
  65. Trump’s “fire and fury” comments broke the Dow’s 10-day winning streak.
  66. Trump’s comments were condemned by Democrats, Republicans and nuclear weapons experts, saying his incendiary rhetoric would make things worse.
  67. The Toronto Star reported on the numerous time Trump has used varieties of the hyperbolic phrase, “like the world has never seen,” to make a point, including while a businessman and running for office.
  68. Wednesday, NYT reported Trump’s “fire and fury” threat to N. Korea was improvised. The sheet of paper in front of him was about the opioid crisis, and he ad-libbed without input from his team on wording.
  69. As the N. Korea crisis unfolds, Trump has yet to appoint an ambassador to S. Korea. As per Week 38, 22 of 24 assistant secretary positions in the State Dept are either unfilled or staffed by Obama holdovers.
  70. Blumenthal told MSNBC the Sen Armed Services Comm has been informed as N. Koreans moved from milestone to milestone, indicating Trump also should have known progress and not been alarmist.
  71. A 30-foot inflatable chicken with Trump-like hair floated next to the WH on Wednesday. The balloon was set up by documentary filmmaker Taran Singh Brar to protest Trump “being a weak and ineffective leader.”
  72. Foreign Policy reported on a 7-page memo written by Rich Higgins about the “deep state” targeting Trump, thought to be behind the recent NSC shake-up, including McMaster firing Higgins.
  73. On Thursday, Trump escalated the rhetoric on N. Korea further, saying his “fire and fury” comment may not have been “tough enough.” Asked how he could of been tougher, Trump replied, “You’ll see. You’ll see.”
  74. Shortly after, flanked by Pence and McMaster in Bedminster, Trump did a 20 minute lie-ridden press conference. A historian described Trump’s bizarre outpouring as “he was a dam that had suddenly burst free.”
  75. Trump called it a “disgrace” that the Senate didn’t pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, placing blame on McConnell and saying he wants him to get back to work and get it done.
  76. Trump also twice tweeted about McConnell’s failure to repeal and replace Obamacare, and retweeted a Fox & Friends story Friday saying Trump was leaving the door open on whether McConnell should step down.
  77. On the other hand, Trump said he was “very thankful” to Putin for expelling hundreds of US diplomats “because now we have a smaller payroll.” This is a false statement: diplomats remain on the payroll.
  78. Reuters reported the State Dept was “horrified and rattled,” by Trump’s remarks on expelling diplomats. The third ranking State member under W. Bush called the remarks, “grotesque.”
  79. Also at the press conference, in contrast to what his regime said days earlier, Trump seemingly impromptu declared the opioids a federal emergency: “I’m saying officially, right now, it is an emergency.”
  80. Also, on the transgender military ban, Trump said “I think I’m doing the military a great favor.” and on the transgender community: “I think I have great support…I got a lot of votes.”
  81. On Kim Jong-un, Trump said, “He got away with it for a long time…He’s not getting away with it. This is a whole new ballgame.” Adding, “And nobody, including N. Korea, is going to be threatening us with anything.”
  82. Also at the press conference, Trump said “I don’t think Iran is in compliance,” on the 2015 deal to curtail nuclear weapons.
  83. Trump also said there was “no collusion between us and Russia. In fact, the opposite. Russia spent a lot of money on fighting me.”
  84. Gordon Humphrey, a former GOP senator, suggested Congress should use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, saying of Trump “He is sick of mind, impetuous, arrogant, belligerent and dangerous.”
  85. Tillerson sought calm on N Korea, saying Wednesday “Americans should sleep well at night.” Gorka told BBC radio, “the idea that Secretary Tillerson is going to discuss military matters is simply nonsensical.
  86. On Friday, Trump escalated tensions further, tweeting the US military is “locked and loaded” should N. Korea “act unwisely.
  87. As tensions rose, US allies and adversaries urged caution. Germany PM Merkel said, “verbal escalation will not contribute to a resolution,” and Russia foreign minister Lavrov said rhetoric was “over the top.”
  88. In a phone call Friday night, China’s President Xi Jinping also urged Trump to exercise restraint according to Chinese state media.
  89. As tensions heightened with N Korea, former Defense Secretary Panetta told CNN “we’re dealing with probably the most serious crisis involving a potential nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis.”
  90. In Hawaii, emergency management officials are working on reinstating alarm sirens to warn of a nuclear attack, last used during the Cold War.
  91. On Friday evening, Trump spoke to reporters with Tillerson, McMaster and Haley by his side. Speculation was this was to assure Americans that diplomacy was also being used with N. Korea.
  92. Instead, Trump escalated the rhetoric yet again, saying Jong-un “will not get away with” what he’s doing, and if he attacks Guam, or American territory or ally, “he will truly regret it and he will regret it fast.”
  93. When asked about Venezuela, Trump said we have many options, “including a possible military option if necessary.
  94. His threat played into Maduro’s hands. Venezuelan officials have long said the US is planning an invasion. Maduro requested a phone call with Trump on Friday, which was rejected.
  95. A DoD spokesperson said Friday evening the US is not planning to invade Venezuela, and “any insinuations by the Maduro regime that we are planning an invasion are baseless.”
  96. Trump called the governor of Guam Friday night to reassure him of US protection. He also joked that Governor Calvo has become “extremely famous,” and offered, “your tourism [is] going to go up like tenfold.
  97. On Friday night, hundreds of white supremacists marched on University of Virginia’s campus carrying torches and chanting “White lives matter,” and “You will not replace us,” and “Jew will not replace us.”
  98. On Saturday morning, white supremacists in Charlottesville to attend the Unite the Right rally carried Confederate flags and flag with the Nazi Swastikas. Militia groups carrying guns also attended.
  99. Violent clashes between white supremacists and protestors broke out. Local police declared a state of emergency.
  100. Later Saturday, the Virginia governor declared a state of emergency in response to the Unite the Right white nationalist rally. White supremacists were ordered to vacate the park before the rally.
  101. Trump addressed Charlottesville hours later, but failed to condemn white supremacists, many of whom were wearing Trump gear, instead tweeting, “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for.”
IMG_7085
From SOLD Magazine: Artist RamiroStudios in New York, August 2017

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 35: TWITTER TWAT

Week 34 of trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

July 8, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-34-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-a15f5f9de76b

This is arguably the most alarming weekly list so far. A plot that has played out week-by-week as Trump alienated our allies while cozying up to authoritarians, followed by his embarrassing behavior at the NATO and G7 meetings, culminated this week at the G20 with US isolationism. This videohttps://goo.gl/VR1zxi, which traces weekly not normal items, explains why Putin is the winner in this new world alignment.

This week Trump amped-up his assault on the media, including encouraging violence. With this, Trump has distracted the country and media, and taken back the narrative. In the atmosphere of chaos, this week also stands out for the number of important stories that received little or no media coverage.

  1. As more and more states refused to comply with what Trump described as his “very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL”, he questioned, “What are they trying to hide?
  2. By midweek, 44 states and DC refused to provide some or all of the voter roll data requested by Trump’s Election Integrity Commission.
  3. States are denying the request based on concerns over privacy and federal overreach, and also concern that the effort of identifying voter affiliation will be used to purge Democrats from voter rolls.
  4. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a Hatch Act complaint against Kobach, saying he used Trump’s commission to solicit political campaign money.
  5. A Maryland official, Deputy SoS Luis Borunda, resigned from Trump’s commission.
  6. Several experts on the regulatory process told The Hill that Trump’s commission may have violated the law by failing to submit the requests to states through OIRA, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act.
  7. A DOJ letter sent to 44 states’ election officials on the same day Kobach and Pence made their requests, asks states to detail their compliance with the NVRA. This request also raised concerns about voter purging.
  8. At a rally in DC Saturday night, Trump continued his attacks on the “fake” media, saying, “I’m President and they’re not.”
  9. On Sunday, Trump tweeted a video created by a Reddit user from both his personal account and the official @POTUS account, showing him violently wrestling down a person whose face is the CNN logo.
  10. The Reddit user was named “HanAssholeSolo” and his posts were full of anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic and other white supremacists materials.
  11. The Reddit user later apologized, but Trump did not. The parents and wife of the CNN reporter who covered the story received around 50 harassing phone calls. Allegedly, CNN did not defend the reporter.
  12. As Trump continued his anti-CNN rhetoric, the cable network’s anchors and executives received death threats and other harassing messages.
  13. Following Trump’s tweet, three media watchdog groups have started to do something they never imagined: documenting violent threats and actions against the media in the US.
  14. Maine’s Governor LePage said he makes up stories to mislead the press. LePage also called the media “vile” and “inaccurate.”
  15. NYT reported the Trump regime discussed using the pending merger between Time Warner and AT&T as leverage over CNN.
  16. On Thursday, Trump media ally Daily Caller reported the WH doesn’t support the merger if Zucker still heads CNN.
  17. Trump ally and Bannon patron Bob Mercer bought 2.5mm shares of Time Inc., owner of Time magazine in the first quarter of 2017. Per Week 33, David Pecker, owner of National Enquirer is also interested in Time Inc.
  18. Maddow reported that TRMS was sent a forged NSA document. Maddow speculated this was an attempt to trick her show into reporting a false story, and hence weakening her credibility and dulling that storyline.
  19. Maddow said that other media outlets may also be receiving forged documents as well, citing recently retracted stories at CNN and Vice.
  20. POLITICO reported on the Trump regime’s obsessive crackdown on leaks from the intelligence community, which has led to an “increasingly tense and paranoid working environment” in the national security community.
  21. On Sunday, protestors gathered at rallies in dozens of cities around the country to call for Trump’s impeachment.
  22. NBC reported that in Trump’s first 168 days in office, he spent 50 days at Trump properties and 36 days at Trump golf resorts.
  23. NYT reported that while working with industry players, not EPA staff, Pruitt has moved to undo, delay or block 30 environmental rules, a rollback larger in scope than any other in the agency’s 47-year history.
  24. Several states sued over the EPA’s decision to keep a Dow pesticide, which studies show can harm children’s brains, on the market. Per Week 33, Dow spent millions lobbying and donated to Trump’s inauguration.
  25. The Wisconsin assembly passed a bill which would block students from protesting conservative speakers on college campuses.
  26. NYT reported the Trump regime’s latest anti-immigrant tactic is to target undocumented parents suspected of having paid to have their children smuggled into the US.
  27. POLITICO reported that Trump insider Stephen Miller has been holding meetings with agencies on how to further curb the entry of refugees. Miller clashed with Tillerson, who demanded autonomy.
  28. A new law in Florida allows parents and residents to file complaints with school boards to challenge what’s taught in science classes.
  29. Attorneys general for 18 states and DC sued DeVos and the Dept of Education over a decision to roll back rules put in place to help students who have been defrauded by their colleges.
  30. Devos’s Dept of Education may stop publishing the list of college and universities in violation of Title IX for mishandling campus sexual assault. The Obama Administration started the list to hold schools accountable for an issue which impacts 1 in 5 college women and 1 in 20 college men.
  31. WAPO reported the WH gender pay gap until has more tripled under Trump, with female staffers earning on average 63% of what their male counterparts make. This is the biggest WH gender pay gap in decades.
  32. Female journalists were banned from the Speaker’s lobby, a room area where reporters speak to members of Congress, because their sleeveless dressed were not viewed as “appropriate attire.”
  33. In a 53 page memo to the court, Trump attorney Kasowitz argued for the dismissal of a sexual harassment lawsuit against Trump, claiming Trump cannot be sued in state court while in office.
  34. The Auschwitz Memorial condemned a political video posted by Louisiana Republican Clay Higgins, which the congressman filmed inside an Auschwitz gas chamber.
  35. At a protest outside Sen Portman’s office in Columbus, OH, a woman in a wheelchair was pushed out of her chair to the ground by a police officer.
  36. The KKK plans a rally in downtown Charlottesville today, and warned that many of its 80–100 members and supporters will be armed.
  37. Pro-Trump Twitter operatives are marketing their services to candidates and others, promising to mobilize their followers and networks for pay.
  38. Guardian reported investigators are looking into whether the Trump campaign and far-right websites coordinated with Russia in spreading fake news. Sen Warner noted key voters in swing states were targeted.
  39. Motherboard reported on an analysis of the Twitter bots that helped Trump, and found the same bots and alt-right narrative emerged in the French election against Macron.
  40. On July 4, NRP tweeted the Declaration of Independence, and was attacked by Trump supporters who called it “propaganda” and “spam.
  41. A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found Trump’s net approval with Independents has fallen by 17 points since he took office.
  42. The poll also found that the majority (54%) of Americans believe Trump did something illegal or unethical with Russia.
  43. While his predecessors Clinton, W. Bush and Obama celebrated July 4th by visiting troops, Trump spent the day on a Trump-branded golf course. McCain, Warren and Graham visited troops in Afghanistan.
  44. Despite his recusal, Sessions spoke to Fox & Friends about the Trump-Russia probe, offering advice to Mueller on hiring practices and tempo.
  45. WSJ reported the OGE will release an additional two dozen ethics waivers just filed for Trump regime members working on issues they handled in their private-sector jobs. Trump has already granted as many waivers to WH officials as Mr. Obama did in his eight years in office.
  46. The State Depart’s Office of the Inspector General said the State Dept and USAID have failed to adequately track more than $30bn of foreign aid.
  47. In a survey of 35k employees in the State Dept and USAID, workers said they were concerned about the future of their agencies and the lack of support from the Trump regime and Tillerson.
  48. An Indiana nonprofit is suing Pence’s successor for keeping residents in the dark on the deal between the Trump regime and Pence with Carrier. The group’s request for information in December went unanswered.
  49. In another sign the Trump regime won’t take civil rights seriously, Trump nominated Eric Dreiband to the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. Dreiband has spent his career defending companies from charges of discrimination.
  50. One of the DOJ’s top corporate crime watchdogs, Hui Chen, resigned, saying holding companies to standards the Trump regime wasn’t living up to was “creating a cognitive dissonance that I could not overcome.”
  51. Walter Shaub, director of the OGE resigned in frustration, six months before his term ended, saying, “It’s clear that there isn’t more I could accomplish.” Shaub and OGE have 24 items in The Weekly List.
  52. Shaub said in post-resignation interview that Trump’s ethics program is “a very serious disappointment,” and that his efforts to get basic information from the regime was “like pulling teeth.”
  53. CREW filed an ethics complaint against Kushner, saying he failed to make the required disclosure of his ownership interest in Cadre. The online real estate investment company has a value of $800mm.
  54. The Russian sanctions bill, which passed in the Senate 98–2, stalled in the House as Republican Pete Sessions, chair of the House Rules Comm, said it would make American energy companies less competitive.
  55. WSJ reported energy companies including Exxon and Chevron, and other industries, are lobbying against the Russian sanctions bill, saying it would hurt their business with Russian partners.
  56. Trump Organization renewed more than 1k web domains, including many which refer to Trump and Russia, like TrumpTowerMoscow.com., indicating possible interest in future development.
  57. Axios reported that Russian government-owned Sputnik news is coming to the DC airwaves after taking over a FM radio station. The FCC has not yet been notified according to a spokesperson.
  58. Matt Tait, who is cited in the WSJ story on possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia on Hillary’s deleted emails, wrote an op-ed, “The Time I Got Recruited to Collude with the Russians,” to tell his story.
  59. Tait said it was clear to him that Smith knew Flynn and his son, well, and that they knew the “dark web” was likely Russia but didn’t care. Tait warned it could be “part of a wider Russian campaign against the US.”
  60. Tait also received a document titled “A Demonstrative Pedagogical Summary to be Developed and Released Prior to November 8, 2016,” which list four groups involved, including group one which listed: Bannon, Conway, Clovis, Flynn and Lisa Nelson.
  61. McClatchy reported a Kremlin documents shows Kaspersky Lab, a leading global seller of anti-virus programs, has ties to Russia’s spying apparatus. Kaspersky’s certification has a FSB military intelligence unit number.
  62. Kaspersky security software is available globally, including at Target and Walmart. The company also serves as a subcontractor for US federal software contracts, and was used by the DNC last summer.
  63. CNN reported that Russia is stepping up spying efforts in the US post the US elections. Officials cited said Russia feels emboldened by the lack of a significant retaliatory response by Trump and Obama.
  64. US Intel estimates that Russia has 150 operatives in the US. Since the election, many have tried to sneak in under the guise of business.
  65. Strangely, the State Dept reportedly continues to grant temporary duty visas to suspected Russian intelligence officers, despite knowledge.
  66. AP reported on a lawsuit filed by Coalition for Good Governance, saying Georgia’s 6th Congressional election results should be voided because of previously identified problem with the touchscreen voting system.
  67. The suit cites the work of a private cybersecurity researcher who found that a misconfigured server had left Georgia’s 6.7 million voter records exposed to hackers last August.
  68. Republican SoS in Georgia, Brian Kemp blamed the media for developing a false narrative about Russia hacking, and said states are doing enough to keep elections secure and “anything to the contrary is fake news.
  69. WSJ reported that Mueller has hired an “absolute cream of the crop” team of 15 top attorneys with experience in national security, public corruption and financial crimes for the Russia probe.
  70. FT reported Russian-born Sater has agreed to co-operate with an international investigation into a money-laundering network. Per Week 32, Sater has extensive ties to organized crime and the Trump family.
  71. In their campaign for the upcoming election, Merkel’s party has dropped the reference to the US as a “friend.” Four years ago, her party referred to the US as Germany’s “most important friend” outside of Europe.
  72. Bloomberg reported China and Germany have stepped up to lead this year’s G20 summit, a role formerly held by the US.
  73. Pew Research found that 17 of the 19 G20 countries in their survey look to Merkel, not Trump, to lead in world affairs.
  74. Guardian reported Trump considered a sneak visit to Downing Street in order to avoid massive UK protests en route to or from the G20 summit. After the story broke, the WH said Trump would not visit.
  75. Instead, on his way to the G20, Trump chose to stop off at Poland, despite the new far-right government’s authoritarian leanings including cracking down on judges and the media.
  76. AP reported the Polish government promised the WH cheering crowds as part of the invitation. Members of the ruling party and pro-government activists bussed in groups of people for Trump’s speech.
  77. Trump gave another of his dystopian speeches in Poland, saying Western civilization was at risk of decline because of “radical Islamic terrorism” and government bureaucracy.
  78. At a news conference in Poland, Trump said he thinks meddling in the US election was done by Russia, but “it could have been other people in other countries” and that “nobody really knows for sure.”
  79. Also on his trip to Poland, Trump continued to dismiss and belittle US intelligence, saying, “Do we even have seventeen intelligence agencies?
  80. The day before Trump was set to meet with Putin, seemingly as a bargaining chip, The Moscow Times reported the Russian embassy to the US is accusing the US of “kidnapping” a man accused of cyber-fraud.
  81. Ahead of his meeting with Putin, top Senate Democrats sent a letter to Trump saying not raising Russia’s interference in our election would be “a severe dereliction of the duty of the office to which you were elected.”
  82. LA Times reported that in preparing Trump for his meeting with Putin, aids had written a list of “tweet-length sentences,” which summarize the main points.
  83. Trump met with Mexico’s Pena Nieto at the G20. After the meeting, Trump was asked if Mexico will pay for the wall to which he responded, “absolutely.” Mexico’s foreign minister said the wall was not discussed.
  84. Friday, without provocation or reason, Trump tweeted a random lieabout Podesta: “Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!”
  85. At the G20, Trump and Putin met for 2:16 hours off-camera, behind closed doors. The meeting was originally scheduled to last 30 minutes.
  86. Only Tillerson and Trump were present from the US side, despite media speculation that McMaster and Fiona Hill would be included.
  87. Lavrov and Tillerson gave different accounts of what happened behind closed doors. Lavrov said Trump told Putin some circles in America were “exaggerating” allegations of Russian interference in the US election.
  88. Sally Yates tweeted Trump’s refusal to confirm Russian interference“insults career intel pros & hinders our ability to prevent in future.”
  89. Tillerson’s version differed, but both said they agreed to put whatever happened behind them: “There was not a lot of re-litigating of the past.” Tillerson added, “This is a very important relationship.
  90. Russia faces no consequences from Trump for interfering in our election. It was unclear if Trump returned the two Russian compounds seized by Obama as punishment for Russia interfering in our election.
  91. In an op-ed, “Trump Caves to Putin,” conservative journalist Stephen Hayes laid out an indictment of how Trump bowed to Putin on Russian interference and foreign policy. Elected Republicans however were silent.
  92. AP reported Saturday that Putin said, “he thinks Trump believes his denial of Russian meddling in US vote, but better to ask Trump himself.”
  93. Ivanka took her father’s seat at a G20 meeting on Saturday. Normally, government ministers or senior officials would take such a role.
  94. Trump isolated the US from other G20 countries on a series of policies ranging from climate to free trade.
  95. The US abstained from signing onto the G20 communique on climate-related issues, the sole country at the summit to do so.
  96. As the summit came to a close, leaders feared for that the G20 summits may be ineffective while Trump is in office. President Macron said, “Our world has never been so divided.”
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Artist: Subdude in London, England

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