This week Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, thought to be one of the sane and sober voices remaining in the regime, resigned in a public letter rebuking Trump’s treatment of allies and deference to authoritarians. Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria was the last straw for Mattis, a decision reportedly made on a call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the week before. Mattis’ departure elicited bipartisan concern, and placed the country on edge.
This week Trump’s beloved stock market continued to crater, as the markets entered a correction period with Dow Jones Industrial Average’s worst weekly performance in 10 years, and on track for the worst December since the Great Depression. By the week’s end, Trump was privately agitating about firing Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, in what would be an unprecedented act.
In the final week Congress was in session ahead of the holidays, Trump abruptly changed his position on funding for his wall, bowing to pressure from the likes of commentator Ann Coulter and radio host Rush Limbaugh, precipitating a government shutdown Friday at midnight — the third this year, even as Republicans control the House, Senate, and White House.
Investigations under the Mueller probe and other jurisdictions progressed this week, as every part of Trump’s life is now under investigation. In a remarkable hearing, Judge Emmet Sullivan delayed sentencing for Michael Flynn, after castigating him for his role in working against U.S. interests. A pair of shocking reports made public by the Senate Intelligence Committee detailed Russia’s extensive interfering in the 2016 election in support of Trump, and another report by the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats indicated Russia was at it again in the 2018 midterms.
On Sunday, Trump attacked SNL over the depiction of him in a sketch, tweeting “A REAL scandal is the one sided coverage, hour by hour, of networks like NBC & Democrat spin machines like Saturday Night Live.”
Trump also tweeted, “Should be tested in courts, can’t be legal? Only defame & belittle! Collusion?” Trump drew rebukes that he was again threatening the Constitution’s First Amendment protection.
On Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified before the House Judiciary Committee over the death of Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl.
Rep. Hank Johnson asked Nielsen about the girl’s death, and how many other children had died in the custody of DHS. Nielsen responded, “I’ll get back to you on that figure. I’m not going to guess under oath.”
Coats said that “Russia, and other foreign countries, including China and Iran, conducted influence activities and messaging campaigns” to further their strategic interests here. The report is not yet publicly available.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted to Flynn in the morning, “Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn,” citing “tremendous pressure being put on him,” and adding of the campaign, “There was no Collusion!”
On Wednesday, when asked about the signed copy, Giuliani changed his story, telling CNN, “I was wrong if I said it. I haven’t seen the quote, but I probably meant to say there was never a deal much less a signed one.”
Allen Weisselberg told state investigators of the foundation’s policies, “There’s no policy, just so you understand.” Underwood said the foundation’s remaining $1.75 million will be distributed to other charities.
On Tuesday, in an abrupt shift, press secretary Sarah Sanders backed off from the threat, telling Fox News, “At the end of the day, we don’t want to shut down the government, we want to shut down the border.”
On Wednesday, the Senate approved a stopgap spending bill. Voting was pushed back to late in the day, and some senators sang Christmas carols in the chamber as they prepared to leave for the holiday break.
Trump also tweeted a photo from the Oval Office of him saying “some of the many Bills that I am signing in the Oval Office right now.” Upon closer inspection, the piece of paper he is signing in the photo is blank.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis arrives for a closed intelligence briefing at the U.S. Capitol with members of the House of Representatives December 13, 2018 in Washington, DC. Mattis and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefed House members on the death of Jamal Khashoggi. This week, Mattis resigned in a letter widely viewed as a sharp rebuke of Trump and his foreign policy.
As I’ve been listing, I’ve always suspected things would crescendo as we were moving towards the end of the Trump era. Week 109 is the longest list so far, with 181 not normal items. Up until now, Trump has never been questioned or countered in his authority, other than in rulings by the Judicial branch. Soon he will be facing Democrats as equals — a House that can hold him accountable — as well as the multiple investigations and lawsuits steaming ahead and expanding in scope. Trump is unprepared and understaffed for what is coming his way starting January. He is going to hate 2019.
This week, confronted by presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, his first check on power in person, Trump cowered and retreated — ill-prepared for how to face a direct challenge to his previously unequivocal power and authority.The Republicans, in small measure, stood up to him on the slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, condemning Saudi crown prince MBS and approving a resolution to end its military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Trump’s small inner circle is in disarray and shrinking — even replacing the chief of staff role became an arduous task.
This week reporting indicates a possible new phase in the Mueller probe relating to Middle East countries, and their attempts to influence the 2016 election to gain access. Meanwhile, cases against Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and Maria Butina progressed, bringing the investigations closer to Trump, his campaign, and regime. Also this week there were three bombshell stories on Trump’s inaugural committee, relating to unaccounted monies and pay for play, foreign contributions, and overpaying for the Trump Hotel DC with Ivanka a part of negotiations. As Trump prepares to depart for Mar-a-Lago for a 16 day holiday, new or expanding investigations threaten to engulf every part of his life, including his campaign, regime, family and business — with possible felony charges after his time in office.
The journalists included Jamal Khashoggi; journalists at the Capital Gazette; Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Reuters journalists arrested in Myanmar; and Maria Resser, CEO of the Philippine news website Rappler.
Trump also tweeted, “Leakin’ James Comey must have set a record for who lied the most to Congress in one day,” adding, “this whole deal is a Rigged Fraud headed up by dishonest people,” concluding, “They are now exposed!”
The filing also states, “A sitting National Security Advisor, former head of an intelligence agency, retired Lieutenant General, and 33 year veteran of the armed forces knows he should not lie to federal agents.”
In a post meeting huddle with her caucus, Pelosi said of the wall, “It’s like a manhood thing with him — as if manhood can be associated with him,” compared Trump to a skunk, and said she was “trying to be the mom.”
The probe is also examining whether some of the top donors gave money in exchange for access to the Trump regime, policy concessions, or to influence officials — a violation of federal corruption laws.
On Wednesday, in his farewell speech after serving for four decades, Sen. Hatch said the Senate “is in crisis,” saying “the committee process lies in shambles,” and compromise is “now synonymous with surrender.”
This week featured the normalcy and tranquility of the funeral of George H.W. Bush, juxtaposed with bombshells of damning information on Trump coming from the Mueller probe and other investigations. As the Mueller probe is reportedly nearing its close, Mueller’s team filed court memos relating to three of its most high profile defendants: Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, and Paul Manafort. The Southern District of New York also filed a memo on Trump Friday —including the clearest implication yet that Trump committed felonies. As the country awaits Mueller’s final report, Trump’s White House has no plans to counter it in place, but rather will reportedly wing it.
This week major stock indexes tumbled more than 4%, erasing all the year’s gains, as economic data softened, showing Trump’s trade tariffs and the growing budget deficit are slowing the economy.As Trump’s second year comes to a close, he reportedly has no vision or strategy for 2019, save for his xenophobic and racist agenda, and instead is distracted by the Mueller probe and the incoming Democratic House majority.Continued shake-up in personnel plague the regime, and many key roles remain vacant, or are filled with loyalists who are unqualified.
Morales said when she was interviewed for the job, she had no legal working documents. When Trump announced his candidacy in 2015, a maintenance worker helped her procure a realistic-looking green card.
Trump’s tweet was widely condemned. George Conway, husband of Kellyanne, tweeted “File under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1512,” the sections of the federal code dealing with obstruction of justice and witness tampering.
On Monday, Eric Trump attacked Conway, tweeting “Of all the ugliness in politics, the utter disrespect George Conway shows,” adding Kellyanne “is great person and frankly his actions are horrible.”
The memo noted Flynn’s “early cooperation was particularly valuable” given his “long-term and firsthand insight,” and his guilty plea “likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming.”
Among other things, the legislation erodes the ability of the governor to enact laws, and requires the legislature to approve whether the state can pull out of a federal lawsuit, like repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
On Tuesday, amid President Xi’s silence on a supposed deal, Trump tweeted “I am a Tariff Man,” saying he was prepared to impose higher levies if Xi did not live up to the agreement Trump claims they reached.
On Wednesday, Daily Beast reported that when aides and advisors tried to get Trump to tackle the growing budget deficit in April 2017, which was projected to continue to grow, he said, “Yeah, but I won’t be here.”
Aides say Trump would likely ignore a plan anyway, so crafting one is futile. Former officials also noted the difficulty in coming up with a strategy when Trump has not been forthright about what happened.
The SDNY memo said “While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows.”
The SDNY memo said “Individual 1” (Trump) was directly involved in efforts to buy the silence two women, intended to influence the campaign, and thereby constituted violations of campaign finance law, a felony.