POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 28: TANGERINE TYRANT

Week 27: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

May 20, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-27-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-cd6be88c85b7

This week’s list has over 100 items, and matches the feel of complete chaos: bombshell after bombshell about Trump’s ties to, and efforts to undermine the investigation into Russia.

Although the biggest headline of the week was the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Trump-Russia, of equal importance was the diurnal harbingers of our fading democracy. Trump’s WH invitation to yet another brutal authoritarian: Ergodan of Turkey, and the ensuing melee outside the Turkish embassy in DC, is a wake-up call for us all.

  1. WSJ reported that three former employees of the Trump organization saw him tape phone calls from Trump Tower. Trump still has not revealed if his alleged taped conversations with Comey really exist.
  2. The Economist interviewed Trump about his economic policy, and described his strategy to be “unimaginative and incoherent.” The interview revealed alarming lack of knowledge of basic concepts.
  3. Gen Michael Hayden said on CNN he’s usually not in favor of special prosecutors, but after Trump fired Comey, “I’ve changed my mind.
  4. Richard Spencer and his torch-carrying white supremacist followers marched in Charlottesville, VA to protest the removal of a Confederate monument, chanting, “You will not replace us.”
  5. Merkel’s party seized a key state from rivals in the last election, putting her in a strong position for Germany’s general election in September. This would mark the fourth setback for Putin since Trump.
  6. An NBC poll found that just 29% approve of Trump firing Comey, and 78% want an outside special prosecutor.
  7. Trump spent Mother’s Day on the golf course, and did not see Melania or Barron.
  8. The Trump regime issued a statement on N. Korea’s missile test, which oddly started out with a Russian perspective.
  9. NY Magazine reported that candidates for FBI director were being screened for their loyalty to Trump.
  10. WAPO reported on the ways Trump has leveraged his presence at Mar-a-Lago to enhance his club’s event business and enrich himself.
  11. Axios reported Sunday that Trump is considering a sweeping shake-up in his regime. One confidant said, “He’s frustrated, and angry at everyone.”
  12. The Trump regime has hidden massive amounts of data on issues such as workplace violations, energy efficiency, and animal welfare abuses — lessening the “naming and shaming” effect on corporate behavior.
  13. Clapper said US institutions are under assault — both externally with Russian interference in our election system, and internally from Trump.
  14. WNYC reported NJ Republican Rep Frelinghuysen wrote a letter to a constituent’s employer complaining about her progressive activism: “P.S. One of the ringleaders works in your bank!”
  15. Page wrote a bizarre letter to Rosenstein, complaining about Obama and Clinton, and citing Maroon 5 lyrics in the footnotes.
  16. A WAPO reporter noted “This Is Not Normal,” when the paper accidentally published Mathis’s personal cell phone number, which was on a yellow sticky note in a photo of Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller.
  17. Russian aluminum oligarch Deripaska is suing AP for libel in connection with their reporting on his ties to Manafort.
  18. Mother Jones reported that 50 farmworkers outside of Bakersfield, CA were poisoned by a pesticide just green-lighted by Trump’s EPA.
  19. Trump met with UAE crown prince Sheikh Mohammed at the WH Monday. In Week 21 it was noted that this crown prince brokered a meeting between Prince and a Putin ally in Seychelles, shortly after a clandestine US meeting with Kushner, Bannon and Flynn.
  20. On Monday, WAPO reported that Trump revealed highly classified information on ISIS to Lavrov and Kislyak at the WH meeting. As mentioned in Week 26, US media was excluded.
  21. WAPO also noted that they withheld the most significant details from the story at the urging of WH officials who warned “revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities.”
  22. Buzzfeed confirmed WAPO’s story, adding an official who was briefed on Trump’s leak said, “it’s far worse than what has already been reported.
  23. Reuters and NYT also confirmed the story, with NYT adding the leaked information came from an ally. The WH continued to deny the WAPO story Monday night.
  24. Trump took to Twitter Tuesday morning saying he leaked to Russia for “humanitarian reasons” and which he has “the absolute right to do.” Trump also ironically tweeted a complaint about “the LEAKERS.”
  25. Fmr US ambassador to Russia McFaul said Trump does not “have the right to leak classified information obtained from other countries, without their permission.”
  26. A European official told AP that their country “might stop sharing intel with US if Trump gave classified info to Russian diplomats.
  27. At a press conference Tuesday, McMaster claimed that Trump decided to leak highly classified info to the Russians on the spur of moment, and wasn’t aware where the information came from.
  28. NYT reported that Israel was the source of the intelligence given to Russia. The leak raises concerns that the information could be passed to Iran, “Russia’s close ally and Israel’s main threat in the region.”
  29. Buzzfeed reported an Israeli intelligence official said knowing Trump leaked to Russia without that country’s prior knowledge was Israel’s “worst fears confirmed.”
  30. ABC reported Trump’s leak endangered an Israeli spy placed inside ISIS.
  31. WSJ reported that the Israeli source Trump leaked was considered so sensitive, it wasn’t shared with Five Eyes, our closest allies.
  32. For the first time, more Americans support Trump’s impeachment (48%) than oppose it (41%) according to PPP. Their polling was conducted before the Russia leak.
  33. Trump hosted Turkey’s Ergodan at the WH, another in a string of brutal authoritarians invited to the WH despite human rights abuses at home.
  34. After the meeting, a video captured Ergodan’s bodyguards viciously attacking protestors outside the Turkish embassy in DC. Later, a video surfaced of Ergodan watching as his guards beat protestors.
  35. DC police chief Newsham said diplomatic immunity could limit what the city can do to hold Erogodan’s bodyguards accountable.
  36. Republicans and Democrats spoke out against the attack, with McCain calling for Turkey’s ambassador to be expelled.
  37. Ceren Borazan tweeted a photo (see below) and wrote: “Dear @POTUSI’m being attackd in this photo. I was assaulted by this man, strangled for protesting. Please help me find & prosecute this man.” The tweet was retweeted over 55k times. Trump has not responded to the assaults.
  38. Following outcry, the State Dept summoned the Turkish ambassador; but two bodyguards who were detained, we released and allowed to leave without redress.
  39. The @VP account tweeted then deleted a photo of Trump and Ergodan’s sons in law — both in government positions of power — seated across from one another at lunch.
  40. NYT reported that Comey had been writing memos on his interactions with Trump, including a February 14 meeting at which Trump asked Comey to end the FBI investigation of Flynn.
  41. NYT also reported that the meeting took place in the Oval Office, and before it started, Trump asked Sessions and Pence to leave the room.
  42. According to a Comey associate, Trump also told Comey he should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information.
  43. WAPO reported Comey had shared his notes with a small circle in the FBI and DOJ — raising questions of whether Sessions and Rosenstein were aware before they wrote the memo to back Trump’s firing of Comey.
  44. That evening, and the following morning, TV networks — including Fox News — complained that elected Republicans were refusing to go on-air.
  45. The Russian Foreign Minister advised Americans not to believe the WAPOstory on Trump leaking to Russia. A spokesperson wrote on Facebook about American newspaper: “You shouldn’t read them.”
  46. Wednesday morning, Putin offered to hand over records of Trump and Lavrov’s conversation to the US House and Senate.
  47. NBC reported Feds have subpoenaed Manafort for a $3.5mm mortgage taken out on his Hampton home just after leaving the Trump campaign. Mortgage documents were never filed, and taxes never paid on the loan.
  48. Eleven Democratic Senators called for an investigation of Sessions’s involvement with the Comey firing, after his stated recusal from the Trump-Russia investigation.
  49. In another sign of US decline under Trump, France’s PM, economic minister and national security adviser are all experts on Germany.
  50. 27-year-old Jean Jimenez-Joseph became the seventh person this year to die while under ICE custody. Jimenez-Joseph committed suicide, but ICE said he ‘passed away’ while at a detention center.
  51. ICE data revealed 41,000 arrests in Trump’s first 100 days, a 38% increase over the same period in 2016.
  52. As crises loom this week, a new NBC/WSJ poll found that only a quarter of Americans find Trump to be honest.
  53. WSJ reported Russian state-run bank VEB indirectly provided hundreds of millions in financing to Ukrainian steel mill owned by Alexander Shnaider, who then funded construction of a Trump project in Toronto.
  54. Delivering a commencement speech at the Coast Guard Academy, Trump said, “No politician in history… has been treated worse or more unfairly.
  55. On Wednesday, Rosenstein appointed a special counsel, Robert Mueller, to oversee the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump regime.
  56. Rosenstein was set to appear before the full Senate on Thursday and House on Friday.
  57. The WH was blinded by the special counsel news: given only 30 minutes advanced notice.
  58. WH PR strategy was in chaos, with Conway cancelling a scheduled appearance on Tucker Carlson’s show an hour before airtime. No members of Trump’s inner circle appeared on TV Wednesday.
  59. WAPO reported a month before Trump clinched the GOP nomination, in a private conversation with fellow GOP leaders, House Majority Leader McCarthy said Trump could be getting money from Putin, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”
  60. Some GOP leaders laughed, and McCarthy continued, “Swear to God.” Speaker Ryan swore the attendees to secrecy.
  61. When called for comment, spokespeople for Ryan and McCarthy denied the WAPO story — until the Post told them they had audio.
  62. Pence registered a PAC on Wednesday, typically a signal of seeking higher office. Neither Biden or Cheney had active PACs while in office.
  63. NYT reported that Flynn officially disclosed to the Trump transition team on January 4 that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbying for Turkey.
  64. Pence headed Trump’s transition team, but he continued to deny he knew about Flynn’s lobbying. Pence was also notified about Flynn by Rep Cummings in a letter dated November 18.
  65. NYT reported the Trump regime was aware of Flynn’s business dealings in early November, even before his infamous pro-Turkey op-ed on Nov 8.
  66. NYT also reported acting FBI director McCabe confirmed to Congress a “highly significant” investigation into possible collusion between the Trump regime and Russia to sway the 2016 election.
  67. FBI prosecutor Brandon Van Grack is leading a grand jury inquiry in VA looking into Flynn’s foreign lobbying, and has started issuing subpoenas.
  68. NBC reported that both Manafort and Flynn are considered “subjects” of a criminal investigation.
  69. Also per NBC: the FBI, with help from the Treasury Dept, CIA and other agencies, is examining contacts, money transfers and business relationships between the Trump regime and Russia.
  70. McClatchy reported that one of the Trump regime’s first foreign policy decisions, involving the fight against ISIS, was made by Flynn in coordination with outgoing NSA Susan Rice. Flynn went against Obama administration advice, and put Turkey’s interests ahead of US interests.
  71. Reuters reported that the Trump regime had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russian officials in the 7 months leading up to the election.
  72. Six of the undisclosed contacts involved Kislyak with Flynn and three other Trump regime members. The other 12 involved Russian officials or people close to Putin and Trump campaign advisers.
  73. Reuters also reported that after the election, Flynn and Kislyak had conversations about setting up a back-channel communication between Trump and Putin that could bypass the US national security bureaucracy.
  74. Yahoo reported that Trump was in touch with Flynn as recently as April 25th, telling him to “stay strong.”
  75. On Thursday, Flynn’s lawyer said his client will not honor the Senate Intel Comm’s subpoena.
  76. WH advisers and personal associates are urging Trump to hire an experienced outside attorney to deal with the Trump-Russia probe.
  77. TIME reported Russia tried to hack the Defense Dept’s Twitter accountsby sending 10,000+ tailored messages in an effort to get them to click, which would have enabled hackers to control the account.
  78. Thursday, Chaffetz, the chair of the House Oversight Committee, resigned from Congress without explanation.
  79. Newsweek reported that Trump staffers are starting to look for new jobs, and are worried about the taint of having worked for the Trump regime.
  80. Thursday, Rosenstein briefed the Senate. McCaskill and other senators said shared that Rosenstein knew Comey was going to be fired before he wrote his memo.
  81. Thursday, Trump tweeted the Special Counsel/Russian is the “single greatest witch hunt of a politician,” and continued to cite Rosenstein’s memo as justification for his firing of Comey.
  82. Trump denied collusion between his campaign and Russia in the 2016 election, but said “I can only speak for myself.
  83. On Friday, Rosenstein released his opening remarks to the House and Senate which include on Comey firing, “My memorandum is not a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination.”
  84. After Rosenstein briefed the House, Cummings told the media, “This is about the fight for the soul of our democracy. We cannot afford to lose this one.”
  85. NYT reported Trump called Comey weeks after taking office, and asked when he was planning to publicly state that Trump was not under investigation. Comey tried to explain proper chains of communication.
  86. According to a friend, Comey was troubled by many of his encounters with Trump, including a Jan 22 ceremony in the WH blue room, where Comey tried to blend in the blue curtains to avoid Trump’s attention.
  87. WAPO also reported on Comey’s apprehension around meetings with Trump, citing his extensive preparations with staff, and writing out notes in his car directly after meetings.
  88. NYT also reported Priebus asked Comey to push back on media reports in mid February that the Trump regime had been in contact with Russia during the election.
  89. Kushner, while in a WH room with a high-level delegation of Saudis, called the chief executive of Lockheed Martin, and asked if she would cut the price on a $100bn+ weapons deal with Saudi Arabia.
  90. CNN reported that despite his recusal, Nunes continues to review intelligence relating to Russia, including as part of the Gang of Eight. Nunes had recused himself over his close ties to the Trump regime.
  91. Pence’s team continued to spin stories and distance him from Trump, indicating Pence was kept in the dark on Flynn and Russia, and that he’s a “loyal soldier” but the news cycle is wearing on him.
  92. In Trump’s first 119 days, he has made 586 false and misleading claims.
  93. As Trump floated Joe Lieberman as his top pick for FBI director, mysteriously Liberman’s Wikipedia page was edited to remove ‘Donald Trump’ as a notable client of his firm.
  94. As Trump leaves for his first overseas trip, foreign leaders have been instructed to praise him for winning the Electoral College. A report cited: ‘Compliment him on his election win, and compare him favorably to former President Obama.’
  95. On Friday, Rep Carlos Curbelo became the first Republican to call for Trump’s impeachment.
  96. Spicer issued a statement Friday afternoon in response to NYT stories, accusing Comey of “grandstanding” and “politicizing” the Russia probe, and hurting our ability “to engage and negotiate with Russia.”
  97. NYT reported late Friday on a document detailing conversations between Trump and Russian officials in the Oval Office. Trump said “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job.”
  98. Stepping closer to obstruction of justice charges, Trump also allegedly told Russian officials that firing Comey had relieved “great pressure” on him, and that he is not under investigation.
  99. WAPO reported late Friday that law enforcement has identified a current WH official as “a significant person of interest.
  100. Reuters reported that the Trump regime is exploring ways to use obscure ethics rules to undermine the special counsel investigation of Trump-Russia — citing since Kushner and Manafort were clients of Mueller’s former firm, Mueller should be barred from investigating them.
  101. Late Friday, NY Magazine reported the person of interest in the WAPO story is Kushner.
  102. CNN reported that intercepts of Russian communications reveal Russian officials bragged during the presidential campaign that they could use Flynn to influence Trump.
  103. Trump pick for deputy Treasury Secretary, James Donovan, withdrew from consideration on Friday.
  104. A former Trump campaign official who has hired counsel in the Russian probe told a CNN reporter that Trump should help pay for legal costs.
  105. As Trump left for his first foreign trip, one reporter noted, “Almost palpable relief the circus has left town for a few days.” Truly was a different feel from the not normal chaos of recent months.

Following are various art pieces collected in my social media feed throughout the week: 

18557253_1699737440044294_3608585254213462892_npaul heyn portlandStahler Skam. Photo Alex ArtLife. Portland, OR.IMG_312218447456_1735228299826535_826944409094025593_n18485382_10212861314476233_1777321943579916643_n18278523_1869327583316156_2013512660993949515_o

18404156_1529894120416788_6392263938087566999_o
Evil Mike Pence. Portland, Oregon.

18238935_1869325779983003_8202462100577507106_o18279054_1869315193317395_430418503014361910_o18359194_1869306033318311_5609930370227301843_o18558922_10103146919829337_6837397189962762788_o18485757_10212917175032518_886209998376115439_n

Next week: Politiks of Graffiti 29 ! 

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 27: THE DAY DEMOCRACY DIED (VERY NIXONIAN)

Week 26 of donald trump’s presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

May 13, 2017 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-26-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-61ba023aee54

What stands out in Week 26 is our normalization of a leader who bold-faced lies to us, and the ease with which Trump continues to indulge in this behavior. We’ve entered uncharted territory: Trump fired the FBI director in charge of investigating him and his regime’s ties to Russia, and admitted he did so because of the investigation.

The other take-away of Week 26 is what you missed. We’re in such a state of constant chaos, it’s easy to overlook the ways the Trump regime continues to tear the fabric of our values, to loot every cent they can, and to move us further away from democracy.

  1. Despite Russian involvement, Macron defeated Le Pen handily in France’s presidential election, marking the third European country (Austria, Netherlands) to reject the Trump-like candidate since the US election.
  2. A shocking Guardian article detailed the use of data to influence the outcome of Brexit and the US election. Names tied to the scandal include Trump, Farage, Thiel, Bannon, and Mercer and his Cambridge Analytica.
  3. The article also warned that the Trump regime is already weaponizing US data for future elections, citing the company that helped Trump win has “been awarded contracts in the Pentagon and the US state.”
  4. While in Beijing for a meeting with potential investors for the family’s New Jersey project, Kushner’s sister mentioned Jared and the EB-5 visa program to market the investment. EB-5 visas allow immigrants a path to a green card for investing $500,000 in a project that creates US jobs.
  5. The Kushner family later apologized after being accused of kleptocracy by the media.
  6. A WAPO researcher who attended the meeting tweeted, “I was threatened, harassed and forced to delete recordings and photos of The Kushner family recruiting Chinese investors in US Green cards.
  7. Page said he would no longer cooperate with the Senate Intel Comm’s request, saying he wants information he requested on the “unjustified civil rights violations by the Clinton/Obama regime.”
  8. Eric Trump reportedly told a reporter back in 2014, when asked about funding golf courses, “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.
  9. Eric Trump later denied having said this, but Donald Jr. had similarly said at a real estate conference in 2008: “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.
  10. Trump-connected lobbyists are making millions at major companies and foreign governments by touting their access to the Trump regime.
  11. Goldman Sachs hired a top Trump campaign staffer, David Urban, as a lobbyist.
  12. Eight Senate Democrats asked regulators to investigate whether Trump friend Carl Icahn violated insider trading laws in the biofuel market.
  13. Wilbur Ross doubled down on the Trump regime rhetoric with Canada on tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber, and warned Canada that “threats of retaliatory action” are “inappropriate.
  14. Nikki Haley issued a strong statement on Venezuela, citing Maduro’s ‘disregard for the fundamental rights of his own people.’ As Venezuela’s state-owned oil company donated $500k to Trump inauguration, the rest of the regime has been silent.
  15. The State Depart has yet to resume daily press briefings.
  16. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel revived the deleted EPA climate change webpage, which as cited in Week 24 was mysteriously taken down on a Friday night, and put the information up on Chicago’s website.
  17. Minutes after an ABC reporter asked Spicer why Trump’s campaign website still calls for a Muslim ban, that reference was deleted.
  18. Despite Trump’s promises to keep jobs in the US, Indiana’s Rexnord — in Pence’s home state nearby Carrier which Trump visited to much ballyhoo — is moving jobs to Mexico. Trump tweeted to blame Obama.
  19. On CBS’s “60 Minutes,” residents in Granger, IN lamented their neighbor, who had no criminal record and had been in the US for 20-years, being deported and separated from his wife and children, who are all citizens.
  20. AP reported the Trump regime targeted Haitian immigrants, seeking evidence of crimes as an excuse to deport them.
  21. A bill that passed the Texas house would allow adoption agencies to reject families on the basis of religion or sexual orientation.
  22. Dan Heyman, a Public News Service reporter, was arrested Tuesday night in West Virginia for persistently asking Secretary Price questions.
  23. Price commended the police who arrested the journalist.
  24. EPA dismissed five scientists from a major scientific review board, and replaced them with representatives from industries the EPA regulates.
  25. Later in the week, two EPA science board members resigned in protest.
  26. Trump signed an EO creating a commission on ‘election integrity’ to re-examine Hillary’s 3 million vote win and “fraud.” The commission will be led by Pence and noted xenophobe Kobach of Kansas.
  27. Rep Lewis issued a statement on the commission, saying “It’s only been 54 years since we were jailed, beaten, and killed for trying to cast a vote.”
  28. Reversing progress, Sessions instituted a tougher new criminal charging and sentencing policy — a noted failure from the 1980 and 1990s. Sessions policy will disproportionately impact people of color.
  29. ICE arrested 1,378 suspected “gang members” in what Fox Newscharacterized as the largest gang sweep ever.
  30. Trump tweeted that China ‘just agreed that the U.S. will be allowed to sell beef, and other major products’ into China again. This deal was brokered by Obama last September.
  31. FP reported on Bannon’s attempts to get NSA McMaster fired, calling it the WH “Games of Thrones for morons.” McMaster remains one of the few Trump senior officials who was not part of the campaign.
  32. When asked about NSC’s duties at a daily press briefing, McMaster said “a lot of what we do at the NSC is trying to keep up with the President.
  33. During the day of the Yates/Clapper hearing, Trump sent a total of 7 tweets at Yates, including one from the @POTUS account.
  34. CNN anchors Dana Bash and John King likened Trump’s tweets ahead of the hearing to “witness intimidation.
  35. Yates testified that she met with WH counsel McGahn twice to warn him that Flynn had lied to Pence about his conversations with the Russian envoy and therefore Pence’s public statements were false.
  36. Yates warned McGahn that Flynn was compromised and could be blackmailed by the Russians. Yates met with McGahn on January 26 and 27, and was fired on Monday, January 30, allegedly for saying she would not defend the Muslim ban.
  37. Despite her warning, Flynn remained as Trump NSA for 18 days, sitting in on important foreign meetings and receiving classified information.
  38. The day after the Yates/Clapper hearing, Sen Graham said based on what he heard, he wants to investigate Trump’s business dealings.
  39. After Trump blamed Obama for Flynn having security clearance, NBC reported Flynn never received the broader security clearance required for an NSA.
  40. Trump briefly changed his Twitter cover Monday night to a statement that Clapper said ‘there is “no evidence” of collusion w/Russia and Trump.’ Trump repeated this lie all week, including in a Friday morning tweet.
  41. On Friday, Clapper told Andrea Mitchell that he didn’t say what Trump claimed.
  42. ProPublica reported that part of Comey’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Comm on Huma Abedin was inaccurate. The FBI issued corrections just hours before Trump fired Comey.
  43. Following Clapper’s testimony on Monday, the Senate Intel Comm asked Treasury Dept agency FinCEN for more information on Trump’s business dealings.
  44. WSJ reported Friday FinCEN will provide info on businesses owned by Trump and family members to the Senate Intel Comm and the FBI. Ranking member Wyden is interested in shell companies and money laundering through property transfers.
  45. Vanity Fair reported that FBI sources said there are multiple inquiries in progress, including the cyber investigation and the business side. Bharara would have been investigating the business side as US AG SDNY.
  46. Late Friday night, the US Attorney SDNY Twitter account tweeted from acting AG Kim, ‘We will not allow the US financial system to be used to launder proceeds of crimes committed anywhere-here or in Russia.’
  47. On Friday, a bi-partisan group of 178 former US AGs and asst US AGs of SDNY wrote a letter to Rosenstein calling for a Special Prosecutor
  48. Law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius provided a letter showing Trump has limited business dealings with Russia. ABC reported Morgan, Lewis has deep ties to Russia and received a “Russia Law Firm of the Year” award in 2016.
  49. Trump’s initial stated basis for firing Comey was a letter from AG Sessions and Deputy AG Rosenstein, relating to Hillary’s emails. Of note, Sessions had agreed to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation.
  50. Comey became the third person, after Yates and Bharara, fired by Trump while investigating him. Mary McCord who was the DOJ assistant AG overseeing the Trump-Russia probe also resigned without explanation.
  51. Shortly after the firing, CNN reported grand jury subpoenas for business records have been issued to Flynn as part of the FBI’s Russia investigation.
  52. The Senate Intel Comm also subpoenaed Flynn after he declined to comply with their April 28th letter unless he was offered immunity
  53. Trump’s popularity hit a new low in a Quinnipiac poll: 36% approve, 58% disapprove. The poll was conducted before the Comey firing.
  54. The morning after firing Comey, Tillerson and then Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.
  55. Lavrov scolded Andrea Mitchell for asking Tillerson a question — “Who was giving you your manners, you know?” Tillerson did not intervene.
  56. Trump’s meeting took place at the WH, and included Lavrov and Kislyak. Photo credited to Russian news agency TASS emerged, showing of a joyous meeting. US media was excluded from both meetings.
  57. The WH readout of the meeting with Lavrov did not mention Kislyak. If not for Russian new agency photos, no one would know he was there.
  58. POLITICO reported the idea to exclude US press came from Putin. As did the insistence for the meeting at the WH.
  59. The Senate Intelligence Committee invited Comey to testify next Tuesday. He declined for now, saying he needed some time off first.
  60. NYT reported that days before the firing, Comey had asked Deputy AG Rosenstein for a significant increase in resources for the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the US election.
  61. General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and NSA, said of Trump’s successive firing of Yates, Bharara and Comey, “…it’s beginning to feel a little bit like Nicaragua around here.
  62. FT said of Comey’s firing, “Putin chalked up another victory,” as Trump’s action resembles that of a non-democracy.
  63. Trump claimed that he followed the recommendation of his Deputy AG Rosenstein that Comey be fired over his handling of Hillary’s emails. By the next day, leaks led to multiple stories which contradicted that claim.
  64. This story would change again and again in the coming days — leaving surrogates having lied to the media. Pence said Trump fired Comey at the “recommendation of the Deputy AG,” seven times during a presser.
  65. WAPO reported that in fact Trump made a decision to fire Comey, and then met with Sessions and Rosenstein to craft a plan for how. Trump was totally unprepared for the media explosion and political backlash.
  66. Trump himself said in a NBC interview Thursday that he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he fired Comey, saying “…Russia is a made up story.”
  67. WAPO also reported that Trump was angry that Comey would not back his false Obama wiretapping claim, and that Comey focused on the Trump-Russia probe and not leaks.
  68. Reuters reported that Trump was infuriated that Comey would not preview his Senate testimony for Trump, Sessions and Rosenstein ahead of the May 3rd hearing.
  69. NYT reported that Trump and Comey’s dislike each another. Comey told associated that Trump was “outside the realm of normal,” even “crazy.
  70. WSJ reported that Comey had started getting daily instead of weekly briefings in the past three weeks due to potential evidence of collusion.
  71. WSJ also reported that on Monday, Comey briefed lawmakers on his request to boost the investigation, and requested additional personnel from Rosenstein.
  72. In an open-letter to Rosenstein, 20 attorney generals called for an independent investigation, saying Trump’s firing of Comey was a violation of the public trust.
  73. Trump abandoned plans to visit the FBI after the Comey firing. According to NBC, Trump was told agents might not provide a warm reception.
  74. McClatchy reported Comey sought to expand his Trump-Russia probe to include Manafort, citing Manafort earned $80–100mm for political and business consulting work done for clients, including a Russian billionaire.
  75. Rachel Maddow reported that despite earlier indications he would do so, Manafort has yet to register as a foreign agent. Also, Sessions would not confirm if he has recused himself from matters involving Manafort.
  76. WSJ reported the Justice Dept requested Manafort’s bank records as part of a probe into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 election.
  77. WSJ also reported that NY AG Schneiderman and Manhattan DA Vance have been examining real-estate transactions by Mr. Manafort.
  78. On Thursday, acting FBI Director McCabe testified at a Sen Intel Comm open, televised hearing. McCabe said he will not update the WH on the Russian investigation.
  79. McCabe contradicted the Trump regime’s assertion that Comey was not well-liked at the FBI, saying “the vast majority of employees enjoyed a deep, positive connection to Director Comey.
  80. Also contradicting WH claims, McCabe called the Trump-Russia investigation “highly significant.
  81. Trump still claimed on Thursday that he had spoken to Comey three times about whether he was under investigation. When Sen Collins asked if that would standard practice, McCabe answered, “It is not.
  82. POLITICO reported Rosenstein arrived at the Senate Intel Comm’s office while the open, televised hearing was taking place. Burr and Warner left the hearing, for what Burr said was a meeting “we can’t push off.
  83. Sarah Flores, DOJ spokesperson lied that the meeting with Burr was previously planned, and is “nothing unusual.”
  84. NYT reported that at a WH dinner shortly after Trump took office, at Trump’s request, Comey declined to pledge his loyalty or discuss the Trump-Russia investigation.
  85. The dinner took place on January 27, the day after Yates initially informed the WH counsel that Flynn was compromised and subject to blackmail.
  86. Rudy Giuliani, who was also photographed at Trump Hotel DC the night of the Comey firing, was given a May 19 deadline by a judge in Detroit to produce his memo for Trump on the Muslim Ban.
  87. In a series of erratic early morning tweets Friday, Trump threatened to cease press daily briefings, and tweeted ‘Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
  88. A source close to Comey said he is “not worried about any tapes.
  89. Presidential historian Michael Beschloss noted in a tweet, “Presidents are supposed to have stopped routinely taping visitors without their knowledge when Nixon’s taping system was revealed in 1973.”
  90. Top House and Senate Democrats demanded that Trump release any tapes of communication between he and Comey.
  91. Chaffetz asked the DOJ Inspector General to look at Comey’s firing. Democrats also asked him to look into whether Sessions has recused himself and whether the FBI investigation into Russia is properly staffed.
  92. Durbin and Feinstein called on Rosenstein to resign if he refuses to appoint a special counsel. Klobuchar said Senators plan next week to further push this demand in close doored meetings.
  93. On the backs of visit by Duterte and the Russian envoy, Trump will host brutal authoritarian Erdogan for a WH visit on May 16.

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Bumper sticker in a car window in Cocoa Beach, FL 11may17                                                 

COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA & AROUND: …IS NOT ITS STRANGENESS…

“(What makes this world so hard to see clearly is not its strangeness but its usualness). Familiarity can blind you too.”  ― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values





7may17. Cocoa Beach & The Jetty, Cape Canaveral, FL

COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA STREET ART: MERMAID by DAVID ROTHMAN

“I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have NO FEAR of depths and a great fear of shallow living.” ~ Anais Nin

More information on this artist can be found at: https://www.drothmanart.com

DCIM100GOPROG0095638.IMG_2654IMG_2277IMG_2656IMG_2278IMG_2279DCIM100GOPROG0025703.IMG_2284IMG_2283IMG_2281IMG_2280IMG_2330IMG_2401IMG_2326IMG_2318IMG_2657DCIM100GOPROG0015702.IMG_2662IMG_2663IMG_2665 This mural is located prominently on the outside wall of Coconuts Fresh Catch Market at 33 S. Atlantic Avenue. Thank you, Coconuts, for a bold move forward in the acquisition of street art in this great little beach community. Keep it up!

may2017. Cocoa Beach, FL