POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 87: PUTIN IS THE MASTER

Week 86: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

July 7, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-86-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-de0b294f224

“A piece of street art posted to the side of a Lithuanian barbecue restaurant is stirring up conversation on social media. According to The Washington Post the image erected earlier this week by the owners of Keule Ruke in Vilnius depicts GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin locked in a kiss. Created by artist Mindaugas Bonanu, the image is meant to draw similarities to an iconic Soviet-era art piece on the Berlin Wall of Leonid Brezhnev and East German president Erich Honecker kissing (based itself on photo).”

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This week Russia was front and center as a delegation of seven Republican Senators traveled to Moscow, without any Democrats or U.S. media along, for what was described as “conciliatory” meetings with their Russian counterparts. The meetings took place on the same day the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee released a report saying Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election with the intent of helping Trump win.

As former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen publicly hinted he will cooperate and the Mueller probe continued to broaden, Trump seemed increasingly unhinged, attacking Democrats and Republicans, as well as the media and corporations. His rhetoric of “anarchy” and “better take it easy” and ICE “liberating” towns became increasingly hostile and inflammatory.

This week, as stories of migrant children being gravely mistreated continued to emerge, the regime was forced in court to admit it had underestimated the number of children in its care, and had no tracking system in place to reunify separated families. Meanwhile, the regime took additional steps to make America more white, setting up a denaturalization task force and discharging immigrants from the U.S. army. More everyday incidents of racism were reported across the country.

The Families Belong Together marches tallied over 400,000 protestors at over 750 locations. Participants were 71% women, compared with 85% at the 2017 Women’s March, and 84% had a BA degree or more.

Pew Research reported for the first time, the U.S. resettled fewer refugees than the rest of the world in 2017 — taking in 33,000, the lowest total since the years following the Sept. 11 when it resettled about 97,000.

On Monday, WNYC reported Trump’s United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is creating a new denaturalization task force to examine bad naturalization cases.

USCIS expects to hire dozens of lawyers and immigration officers in the coming weeks to find U.S. citizens they say were not properly naturalized, revoke their citizenship, and deport them.

AP reported the U.S. Army quietly and abruptly discharged dozens of reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with a promised path to citizenship. The total number of discharges is not known.

Immigrants have served in the U.S. Army since 1775. More than 5,000 immigrants were recruited into the program in 2016, and an estimated 10,000 are currently serving.

U.S. refugee resettlement is on pace to remain historically low in 2018 as the Trump regime lowered the refugee ceiling for fiscal 2018 to 45,000 refugees, the lowest cap since the Refugee Act was adopted by Congress.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted that he “never pushed the Republicans in the House to vote for the Immigration Bill.” On Wednesday, Trump tweeted “House Republicans should pass the strong but fair immigration bill.”

On Sunday, in an interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo, Trump said he would not move forward on a new NAFTA deal with Mexico and Canada until after the midterms.

Trump also slammed our European allies, saying, “The European Union is possibly as bad as China, just smaller. It’s terrible what they do to us.”

Trump also attacked Harley-Davidson, saying; “Everybody who ever bought a Harley-Davidson voted for Trump … and they are very unhappy about it,” adding, “I think they are going to take a big hit.”

Trump also said, “You get rid of ICE, you’re going to have a country that you’re going to be afraid to walk out of your house,”adding, “They go into Long Island, they actually liberate towns.” This repeated claim is false.

Trump also threatened critics of him or his regime, saying, “I hope the other side realizes that they better just take it easy,” adding, “even some of the radical ideas, I really think they’re very bad for the country.”

Bartiromo’s interview was widely criticized for its lack of substance and her refusal to push back on lies. Fox Business president Brian Jones defended Bartiromo and said, “We are proud of her hard work.”

On Sunday, Axios reported on a leaked draft of a bill ordered by Trump in which the U.S. would effectively leave the World Trade Organization, and Trump could raise U.S. tariffs at will, without congressional consent.

The Hill reported that Trump tweeted the phrase “stock market” 46 times in 2017, almost once a week. In 2018, as the market rally has stalled, Trump has only mentioned the stock market two times.

On Tuesday, Trump again threatened Harley-Davidson, claiming “my Administration is working with other Motor Cycle companies who want to move into the U.S.”

Trump also tweeted, “Harley customers are not happy with their move — sales are down 7% in 2017.” The move was announced in 2018.

Moog Music, the legendary synthesizer designer and manufacturer, said due to Trump’s China tariffs, the company may need to lay off workers or move some, if not all, of its manufacturing overseas.

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort filed a request with the Department of Labor for 61 additional H-2B temporary visas for foreign servers and cooks.

On Sunday, the staff of the Capital Gazette released a letter thanking those who offer support, and calling out Trump without naming him, “We won’t forget being called an enemy of the people.”

On Monday, the Baltimore Sun reported Trump declined a request from Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley last week to lower American flags in honor of the fatal shooting at the Capital Gazette last week.

On Tuesday, Trump reversed as press secretary Sarah Sanders called Buckley in the morning to say the White House had issued a proclamation ordering the flags lowered nationwide until sunset Tuesday.

On Sunday, National Security Adviser John Bolton told “Face the Nation,” relating to Trump’s upcoming meeting with Putin, “we’re going to have to see” if the U.S. eventually recognizes Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

On Saturday, in Paris, Rudy Giuliani addressed the National Council of Resistance of Iran which was once listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and Europe, and called for regime change in Tehran.

AP reported Trump repeatedly pressed aides in August 2017 to invade Venezuela. Rex Tillerson and H.R. McMaster were reportedly stunned, and McMaster and others explained it could backfire and talked him out of it.

On Tuesday, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg, the Trump regime is temporarily letting ZTE resume some business activities while the U.S. weighs ending a seven-year ban on the company.

On Tuesday, in a court brief, nearly three dozen retired military officers and national security officials asked a federal appeals court to uphold an order blocking Trump’s transgender military ban.

On Monday, George Stephanopoulos reported on his 45-minute interview of Cohen, which took place Saturday evening at a Manhattan hotel where Cohen has been staying — Cohen’s first public interview since the FBI raid.

Stephanopoulos reported Cohen said, “My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will,” adding, “I put family and country first,” not Trump.

On Wednesday, July 4, Cohen scrubbed mention of Trump from his Twitter bio, and changed his Twitter header photo, deleting one that showed him standing behind a Trump campaign podium.

On Thursday, Cohen hired Lanny Davis, the attorney and PR man who led President Clinton’s public defense against multiple scandals in the 1990s. Davis was also a surrogate for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns.

On Sunday, NYT reported that sponsors of migrant children trying to reunite the children with parents face considerable red tape, and must pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in airfare for the children.

On Monday, a U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia blocked the systematic, arbitrary detention of migrants who have shown credible evidence that they were fleeing persecution in their home countries.

The lawsuit noted that 1,000 asylum seekers had been denied parole in five ICE districts. Before Trump took office, more than nine out of 10 asylum seekers were granted parole.

The judge ordered the government to conduct individualized reviews to determine whether a person is a flight risk, poses a national security threat, or is a danger to the community before denying parole.

Bloomberg reported on a 15 year-old girl who said after fleeing El Salvador and forcibly separated from her mother, she was crammed into a windowless room with 60 other girls.

The room was divided by wire fencing into three cages, each holding 20 separated girls, some as young as 3 years-old. She said she was deprived of proper sleep or food for three days, and that “the place was freezing.”

Grassroots Leadership, a human rights organization, posted letters from immigration detention centers. One woman called the facility “la perrera,” the kennel, because of the chain-link cages she and others were held in.

She said for eight days after she was captured, she was not allowed to bathe or brush her teeth. She and other women slept on the floor under “aluminum paper” blankets, saying they were treated like “we were animals.”

Others described the anguish of being separated from their children. One woman wrote, “From then on, I didn’t know anything more about my children…They told us our kids would be adopted by other people.”

In protest of Trump’s family separation policy, Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis arranged baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph statues in a chain-linked, enclosed cage on their lawn.

On Wednesday, NYT reported Trump’s inauguration fund collected $500,000 from two private prison companies, Geo Group and CoreCivic, which are involved in housing detained migrant families.

Defense Secretary James Mattis sits on a board of a housing contractor, and Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos provided funds to one of the groups. Some contractors employ GOP lobbyists with ties to Trump.

On Tuesday, Intercept reported that when Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen toured a detention facility housing women in Southern Texas, migrant mothers who were separated from their children were moved outdoors.

The mothers tried to yell their questions to Nielsen from a distant soccer field but were ignored. Reporters were also not given access to Nielsen during the visit.

On Thursday, in a series of tweets, Trump renewed his calls for deporting migrants without due process, tweeting, “they must be told to leave without our … Country being forced to endure a long and costly trial.”

Trump also tweeted, “Tell the people “OUT,” and they must leave, just as they would if they were standing on your front lawn,” and repeated his lie about needing to hire thousands of judges.

On Monday, BuzzFeed reported that Sen. Richard Burr, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the committee is in weekly conversation with Christopher Steele, author of the dossier.

On Monday, AP reported, according to internal memos and business records obtained, Konstantin Kilimnik was far more involved in formulating pro-Russia political strategy with Paul Manafort than previously known.

Memos date back to 2004, and show Kilimnik helped formulate Manafort’s pitches to clients in Russia and Ukraine, including Oleg Deripaska, and that he helped Manafort plan to influence Western politicians and media outlets.

On Monday, McClatchy reported Mueller’s team likely got access to the NRA’s tax returns, which would identify “dark money” donors, companies, and wealthy individuals who financed $21 million of donations to Trump.

On Tuesday, Trump accused the NSA of violating privacy, tweeting, “The NSA has deleted 685 million phone calls and text messages,” and trying to tie it to the unrelated Mueller probe: “The Witch Hunt continues!

On Thursday, Bloomberg reported Mueller is tapping more prosecutors to help with new legal battles as the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election continues to expand.

Instead of adding to his staff, Mueller is making use of prosecutors from U.S. attorneys offices and from Justice Department headquarters, as well as FBI agents — and may hand off more cases as he did with Cohen.

On Friday, a newly released court document showed Manafort is being kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day ahead of his July 25 trial, saying his safety cannot be otherwise guaranteed while in prison.

On Monday, the White House Twitter account — @WhiteHouse — falsely accused Sen. Kamala Harris of “supporting the animals of MS-13,” and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of “supporting criminals moving weapons, drugs, and victims.”

On Tuesday, the White House Twitter account attacked two House Democrats, Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Mark Pocan, who announced last week they would introduce legislation to abolish ICE.

On Monday, an image with a fake quote by Rep. Maxine Waters, which read, “Waters: SCOTUS pick should be illegal immigrant,” was posted and spread around pro-Trump Facebook and Twitter accounts.

On Tuesday, Trump escalated his attacks on Rep. Waters, referring to her as “Crazy Maxine Waters,” and saying she is “one of the most corrupt people in politics.”

On Tuesday, Trump continued attacks on gangs as a proxy for people with brown skin and his support for ICE, tweeting, “we have an “infestation” of MS-13 GANGS,” and “who do we send to get them out? ICE!”

CNN reported that Trump’s tweet on Tuesday, falsely claiming Obama granted citizenship to 2,500 Iranians as part of nuclear deal negotiations, came from a story on the Fox News website.

ABC News reported Mark Harris, an insurgent Republican candidate for Congress in North Carolina, had questioned in a 2013 sermon whether careers were ‘healthiest pursuit’ for women.

WAPO reported on a white woman in Maple Heights, Ohio who called the police on a 12 year-old black boy who was mowing her neighbor’s lawn, after he had slightly crossed onto her property line.

On Tuesday, a woman called the police on Rep. Janelle Bynum, a black Oregon state representative running for re-election, while she was going door-to-door campaigning and using her cellphone.

On Wednesday, the Daily News reported the principal at the University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men in Rochester, New York refused to allow the school’s first black valedictorian give a graduation speech.

Instead, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren invited Jaisaan Lovett, who had served as her intern previously, the give his speech at City Hall. Warren said, “I think it was personal between Jaisaan and the principal.”

On July 4, a white man in North Carolina asked a black woman who was swimming in a community pool for her ID, then called the police. After a video of the incident went viral, he was fired by Sonoco.

On Friday, Larry Lappin, a white man in Petaluma, California apologized after a video of him cursing a neighbor on July 4 for playing Spanish-language music went viral, saying he had been drinking too much.

On Friday, the day after a video surfaced of Michael Miselis, a member of a white-supremacist group, attending the Charlottesville rally and pounding on a black man, he was fired from his job at Northrop Grumman.

The NAACP issued a new study showing a continued rise in hate crimes to “the highest level in a decade,” and said there is a direct relationship between the rise and “Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric and racist policies.”

The report found racially-motivated crimes comprise nearly 60% of overall hate crimes. Overall, the report found, “Anti-Black, anti-Semitic, anti-gay and anti-Latino were the most common type of hate crimes.”

On Monday, Kentucky’s GOP governor Matt Bevin canceled dental and vision benefits for almost 500,000 people on Medicaid in his state, following a judge blocking the state’s Medicaid work requirements in Week 84.

On Tuesday, Trump’s Department of Education rescinded an Obama-era guideline that encouraged the use of race to promote diversity, directing schools and colleges to adopt race-neutral admissions standard

The regime instead reposted a W. Bush administration document strongly encouraging the use of “race-neutral” methods on the Department of Education website.

On Tuesday, Jeff Sessions withdrew 24 Justice Department guidance documents, most but not all dating back to the Obama administration, including materials about affirmative action and the right of refugees.

NBC News reported Trump’s most recent financial disclosures reveal first lady Melania Trump earned between $100,000 and $1 million in 2017 from Getty Images for use of a series of images shot between 2010–2016.

At least a dozen news agencies paid to use the photos, which include a requirement photos be used only in positive coverage. Several agencies removed the images from their websites after inquiries by NBC News.

On Tuesday, Scott Schools, a top aide to Rod Rosenstein resigned. Schools was a senior official and played a critical role as a strategic counselor on institutional norms and ethics. His exit follows Rachel Brand.

School’s role included recommending Andrew McCabe be fired for “lack of candor,” advising then acting AG Sally Yates about the boundaries of her congressional testimony, and getting regular briefings on the Mueller investigation.

CNN reported based on a mortality database which they and Centro de Periodismo Investigativo sued Puerto Rico to obtain, 26 Puerto Ricans died from leptospirosis in the six months following Hurricane Maria.

On Tuesday, 75 protesters blocked the entrance to an ICE building in Philadelphia, refusing to allow anyone to enter or leave. Nearly 30 were arrested after a clash with police.

On July 4, Therese Okoumou climbed the Statue of Liberty in protest of Trump’s immigration policy of separating families. Police closed down and evacuated the Statue.

Okoumou was among 40 Rise and Resist protestors who earlier had hung a banner on the Statue calling for the abolishment of ICE.

Walmart stopped selling T-shirts and baby onesies that said “Impeach 45” after an social media outcry from Trump supporters who threatened to boycott the retailer.

In an op-ed, Alan Dershowitz said he was being “shunned” on Martha’s Vineyard for defending Trump, saying one good thing is finding out “who my real friends are and who my fairweather friends were.”

On Thursday, actor and Trump supporter James Woods revealed his agent, Ken Kaplan, had dropped him in a message saying, “It’s the 4th of July and I’m feeling patriotic. I don’t want to represent you anymore.”

On Monday, CNN reported Trump is planning a one-on-one meeting with Putin at the start of their July 16 summit in Helsinki, before aides join their first formal meeting.

On Tuesday July 3, seven Senate Republicans met with their Russian counterparts in Moscow. The meetings were closed-door and the media was not given access, nor were any Democrats invited.

The senators struck a “conciliatory” tone. Sen. Richard Shelby told Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, “I’m not here today to accuse Russia of this or that or so forth, I’m saying that we should all strive for a better relationship.”

Among the Russian attendees were Sergey Kislyak, whose conversations with Michael Flynn led to Flynn’s firing, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The visit represents the most significant congressional visit to Russia in over a decade.

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachev raised Russia’s grievances about U.S. sanctions and seizure of Russian diplomatic properties. Kosachev was put under U.S. sanctions in April.

While some GOP senators had hoped to meet with Putin during the trip, a spokesperson said Putin “had no time for the visitors.” Kosachev later told Russia state TV the GOP lawmakers’ visit was a concession.

On Tuesday, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee released a report backing the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to aid Trump.

The report describes activity that goes far beyond the intelligence community’s initial January 2017 findings, and says Russia is continuing its efforts to undermine U.S. democracy.

The report also backed the intelligence findings that Russian intelligence services used digital operations to target both major political parties, as well as think tanks and lobby groups, in order to influence U.S. policy.

On Wednesday, London Metropolitan Police said two people found unconscious in Amesbury, Wiltshire, on Saturday were exposed to nerve agent Novichok, the same used on Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

The U.K. Home Secretary accused Russia of using Britain as a “dumping ground for poison.” The Russian embassy called the assertions “merely speculative,” and said May’s government was subjecting them “to hell”.

On Friday, Sen. Ron Johnson, who was one of the seven GOP Senators in Moscow, told Sirius radio “The Big Picture,” that it was time to “evaluate” whether to lift sanctions imposed on Russia over its annexation of Crimea.

On Monday, WAPO reported two of Scott Pruitt’s top aides, both Trump appointees, have provided congressional investigators new details about his most controversial spending and management decisions.

Aides said Pruitt sought a job for his wife that would pay over $200,000, requested help from senior EPA officials in a dispute with a Washington landlord, and disregarded concerns about his first-class travel.

CNN reported that according to Kevin Chmielewski, a whistleblower, Pruitt and his aides kept “secret” calendars and schedules to hide controversial meetings or calls with industry representatives or others.

On Monday, a mother carrying her toddler son confronted Pruitt at a D.C. restaurant and asked him to resign before scandal pushes him out, saying her son loves animals, breathing clean air, and drinking clean water.

On Thursday, Pruitt resigned. WAPO reported the White House informed Pruitt that he had to submit his resignation. Trump tweeted shortly after that Pruitt did an “outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him.”

In his resignation letter, Pruitt wrote it had been “a blessing” to serve under Trump and undertake “transformative work,” and blamed “the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family.”

On Friday, in his final hours at the EPA, Pruitt granted a loophole allowing a major increase in the manufacturing of older diesel freight trucks which produces as much as 55 times the air pollution as newer trucks.

The newer technology reduced emissions of nitrogen oxide, which are blamed for asthma, lung cancer, and other ailments. The move was opposed by environmental, public health, industry players, and truck manufacturers.

Pruitt will be replaced by his deputy, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who shares Pruitt’s zeal for undoing environmental regulations. Wheeler is a Washington insider who has spent years effectively navigating the rules.

The New Yorker reported on the record-setting turnover under Trump: as of the end of June, 61% of top-level advisers have turned under Trump. At the same point in, Obama’s turnover was 14% and W. Bush was 5%.

With Pruitt’s departure, Trump’s Cabinet has the fastest turnover rate of any Administration in a hundred years. Turnover is also alarming at lower levels, where positions are held by second and third waves of aides.

On Thursday, a federal judge in California rejected the Trump regime’s challenge to block three of the state’s sanctuary laws, allowing laws that restrict local law enforcement cooperation with ICE and require state oversight of facilities housing immigration detainees to stay in place.

A third law which could require employers to notify employees about upcoming workplace inspections will stay in place, but the judge struck down a ban on employers voluntarily giving access to employee records.

The ruling allows the California to keep in place its most significant legislative measures aimed at countering Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration. The judge called on Congress to pass immigration reform.

On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said nearly 3,000 — not the 2,047 number he gave to Senators last week — migrant children are in custody after crossing the southern border.

Azar said some of the children may have been separated before “zero tolerance,” and some children may not qualify for reunification because they were separated during their journey and not by U.S. border agents.

Of the roughly 3,000 migrant children still in federal custody, about 100 are under the age of 5.

DNA will be used to reunite families to meet the deadlines of the San Diego federal court ruling. Azar said the regime will soon start reuniting families in ICE detention centers while their asylum claims play out.

Immigration advocates and others raised concerned over how DNA collected by migrants would be used in the future, including DNA could be used to track undocumented immigrants indefinitely.

On Thursday, NYT reported that according to two Department of Homeland Security officials, records linking migrant children to their parents have disappeared or have been destroyed.

DHS has deployed hundreds of federal workers to comply with an injunction from a federal judge in San Diego under which families must be reunited by July 26, with a July 10 deadline for children under 5.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement had initiated procedures such as identification bracelets and registration numbers, but Border Patrol which handled the migrants for the first 72 hours, did not follow through.

PBS reported on a motion filed Monday by Democratic attorneys general in 17 states and D.C., which includes 900 pages of declarations and personal testimonies from parents, children, and other family members.

Olivia Caceres, separated from her 1 year-old son in November wrote, “(My son) is not the same since we were reunited,” adding “When I took off his clothes he was full of dirt and lice. It seemed like they had not bathed him the 85 days.”

An investigator for the Washington attorney general wrote, “The guards would wake all the girls up at 4 a.m. to count them by kicking on their mats.” Other stories were similarly excruciating.

In hundreds of cases, Border Patrol deleted the initial records in which parents and children were listed together as a family with a “family identification number,” leaving no record of how to reunite them.

On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Azar said the Trump regime “will comply” with the deadlines, though he criticized the judge’s timetable as “extreme.”

Late Thursday, according to court records filed late in the day, the Trump regime said it would not be able to meet a federal judge’s deadline to reunite all migrant families separated at the southern border.

Azur said HHS overall is caring for more than 11,800 minors through a nationwide network of shelters, overseen by ORR. More than 80% of the minors are teenagers, mostly males, who crossed the border alone.

Despite Trump’s zero-tolerance policy being in place for much of June, more than 42,000 were apprehended in June, nearly double the number in June 2017. Border crossings tend to slow in summer months.

On Friday, at a status hearing, the Trump regime said they cannot locate the parents of 38 migrant children under the age of 5: 19 were released from custody, whereabouts unknown, and the other 19 were deported.

When the judge asked about having counsel back over the weekend, the ACLU attorney said, “We will do whatever,” but the DOJ attorney said she could not attend because she had out-of-town dog-sitting responsibilities.

The judge said he would agree to delay the July 10 deadline if the government could provide a master list of all children and the status of their parents by 10 a.m. Pacific time on Monday.

On Thursday, one week after five were killed at the Capital Gazette, Trump said of the media at a rally in Montana, “Fake news. Bad people,” and

“They’re so damn dishonest,” and “These are really bad people.”

Trump said he would donate $1 million if he could test Sen. Warren — who he called “the fake Pocahontas” — for Native American heritage, adding, “but we have to do it gently because we’re in the MeToo generation.”

To chants of “lock her up,” Trump said of Hillary Clinton, “She gets special treatment under the Justice Department. … Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. She gets special treatment under the Justice Department.”

Trump also took aim at George HW Bush and his slogan on volunteerism, saying, “‘Thousands points of light’….What does that mean? I know one thing. ‘Make America Great Again’ we understand.”

On his way to the rally, when asked about allegations Rep. Jim Jordan overlooked sexual abuse during his time as a wrestling coach at Ohio State University, Trump said, “I don’t believe them at all. I believe him.”

After the rally, Trump ramped up the rhetoric ahead of midterm elections, tweeting, “A vote for the Democrats in November is a vote to let MS-13 run wild in our communities,” and “Democrats want anarchy, they really do.”

Trump also tweeted that the MS-13 “take jobs and benefits away from hardworking Americans,” and repeated his false claim that ICE is “liberating communities from savage gangs like MS-13.”

On Thursday, Bill Shine was named White House deputy chief of staff for communications, where he will report directly to Trump and oversee both the press and communications teams. Shine also has close ties to Hannity.

The appointment of Shine, who was pushed out of Fox News over his mishandling of sexual harassment scandals at the network, met with protests from both advocates and some conservatives.

A new Washington Post-Schar School poll found a huge gender gap in Trump’s approval — while his overall approval is 43%, just 32% of women approve compared to 54% of men.

On Friday, South Korea media reporting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo bought a CD of ‘Rocket Man,’ along with a letter from Trump, as gifts for Kim Jong Un. Pompeo laughed off, and would not confirm or deny it when asked by U.S. media.

Pompeo met with Kim Jong Chol in North Korea to hoping to flesh out specifics, following evidence North Korea continues to build its nuclear program despite assurances given by Trump after the Singapore summit.

On Saturday, AP reported Pyongyang called the visit by Pompeo “regrettable” and accused Washington of making “gangster-like” demands to pressure the country into abandoning its nuclear weapons.

A statement from a North Korea spokesperson said, “We had expected that the U.S. side would offer constructive measures that would help build trust,” but those hopes were “naive” and “foolish.”

Protests are planned across London for Trump’s visit next week, including a giant ‘Trump Baby’ balloon set to be flown close to the UK Parliament. Over 10,000 people signed a petition in support of the balloon.

On Wednesday, donning a sombrero, Sheffield’s Lord Mayor Magid Magid announced “in solidarity” with Mexico, Trump will be banned from his city, “I further declare July 13th to be Mexico Solidarity Day!”

On Friday, Guardian reported according to Downing Street, Trump will almost entirely avoid London during his four-day U.K. visit next week, prompting accusations he is trying to avoid planned protests against him.

On Friday, Trump officially launched a trade war with China, imposing the first duties on $34 billion in Chinese goods.

Moments later, China fired back, accusing the U.S. of violating World Trade Organization rules setting off “the largest trade war in economic history to date.” China said it would retaliate.

Russia also said it would retaliate, imposing tariffs on U.S. products, and would be “joining the European Union, China, India and Canada in complaining to the World Trade Organization about the American action”

The owner of a Chinese factory told an NPR podcast he was making flags for Trump’s 2020 campaign. It is unclear if the Trump campaign or related businesses put in the order.

On Thursday, the Heritage Foundation tweeted a list of “Things to remember” countering Trump before his trip to Europe, including “Russia is the aggressor,” “Crimea belongs to Ukraine,” and Putin can’t be trusted.

On Friday, WAPO reported allies are worried that similar to the week of G7, Trump will blow up the NATO summit then offer concessions to another autocrat, NATO’s main adversary Russia.

At his rally in Montana, Trump railed against NATO, saying “you got to start paying your bills,” and “They kill us on trade,” while defending Putin, calling him “fine” at the event.

WAPO also reported that Trump gave out his personal cell phone number to a handful of foreign leaders shortly after taking office, and his White House is not informed of his calls, nor is there a typical public readout.

Aides have urged Trump to route all conversations with foreign leaders through the Situation Room, as required under federal records law, but Trump refuses, instead giving them a terse summary of his calls.

In conversations with Trudeau, May, and Merkel, Trump is sometimes assertive, brash and even bullying. With Putin, Trump takes a more conciliatory approach, often treating the Russian leader as a confidant.

White House aides worry that Putin is playing on Trump’s inexperience to gain the upper-hand, saying things like “fake news” and that U.S. foreign policy establishment, the “deep state,” is conspiring against them.

On Friday, NYT reported Trump’s attorneys set new conditions for a Mueller interview, saying Mueller needs to prove he has evidence that Trump committed a crime and that his testimony is essential.

This marks a shift to a more combative approach. According to a Washington Post-Schar School poll, 45% of Americans disapprove of how Mueller is handling the investigation, up from 31% in January 2018.

On Saturday, Trump again attacked the media, tweeting that Twitter is getting rid of fake accounts, and asking will that “include the Failing New York Times and propaganda machine for Amazon, the Washington Post.”

In an op-ed, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist said Mueller “is under assault,” extolling, “No matter who is in the White House, we Republicans must stand up for the sanctity of our democracy and the rule of law.”

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POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 72: “RULING AS A PARTY OF ONE”

Week 71 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

March 24, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-71-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-e56ab486d504

This week Cambridge Analytica became a full-blown UK and US scandal, as the company came under scrutiny for harvesting the data of 50 million Facebook users and using it to impact the 2016 US election, possibly in cooperation with Russia. British authorities raided the company late Friday, while back home, Facebook faced a backlash from users and Congress for mishandling the security of personal information and for the company’s flat-footed and weak response to the crisis.

This week Trump is increasingly ruling as a party of one, making decisions and taking actions on his own, without consultation or planning. After losing his national security advisor and lead attorney in the Mueller probe, Trump is leaving positions unfilled or filling them with sycophants and cable-tv personalities. This week, Trump heightened his attacks on Mueller, as he has shifted to a more aggressive stance in all matters, including the Russia probe. Trump is in danger from several looming threats including the Mueller probe, fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and women coming forward to tell their stories.

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Jacksonville, FL February 2018. Artist: Tommy Amgdn
  1. On Saturday, Axios reported Andrew McCabe met with Mueller’s team, and turned over memos, including information that will corroborate James Comey’s account of his firing by Trump.
  2. On Saturday and Sunday, Trump sent a series of error-filled tweets blasting the Russia probe and familiar targets like Comey and Hillary Clinton, and for the first time, directly attacking Mueller.
  3. As he had hours after the firing, Trump again attacking McCabe with false claims, “How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife’s campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M,” adding “Comey knew it all.”
  4. Trump also tweeted “The Mueller probe should never have been started,” saying there was “no collusion and there was no crime.” This is false. Four Trump aides and 13 Russians have been charged with crimes.
  5. Trump tweeted the investigation was based on a “Fake Dossier paid for by Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!” This is also false.
  6. Trump tweeted, “House Intelligence Committee has concluded, there wasno collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign.” This is not true. Trump also accused Comey of lying under oath to Senators.
  7. Trump complained that Mueller’s team has “13 hardened Democrats,” and “Zero Republicans.” Both Mueller and Rod Rosenstein are Republicans, and federal regulation prohibits the Department of Justice from considering political affiliation.
  8. On Monday, Trump plugged Hannity, “.@seanhannity on @foxandfriends now! Great! 8:18 A.M.” Hannity told “Fox & Friends” he expects “criminal charges” against McCabe, and that Trump will not fire Mueller.
  9. On Monday, Mississippi’s governor signed into law an abortion ban at 15 weeks, the earliest abortion ban in the country. On Tuesday, a federal judge temporarily blocked the ban.
  10. On Tuesday, Trump ally Rep. Louie Gohmert introduced a resolution in the House which would declare March 31st, Cesar Chavez’s birthday, “National Border Control Day.”
  11. On Tuesday, NPR reported Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services, created a new division, the Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom, saying religious freedom is “the first freedom.”
  12. On Friday evening, the White House announced a policy to ban most transgender individuals, including those requiring medications and surgery, from serving in the military.
  13. According to press secretary Sarah Sanders, unlike Trump’s July 2017 tweet which occurred without foresight or planning, the new policy was “developed through extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders, including combat veterans.”
  14. On Tuesday, as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos prepared to go before Congress, NYT reported she had withheld vital information from her staff on the department’s budget for the fiscal year that begins in October.
  15. DeVos’s budget calls for a 5% spending cut, including eliminating dozens of programs, and pitches a $1 billion school choice proposal. Information driving budget decisions was omitted from materials given to Congress.
  16. Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters quit as a Fox News analyst, saying the cable-tv network had degenerated into a “propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration,” adding, “now I am ashamed.”
  17. On Wednesday, Trump’s golf club in Westchester County, New York petitioned the Department of Labor to use the federal H-2 visa program to bring in foreign workers to serve as waiters, waitresses, and cooks.
  18. AP reported EPA administrator Scott Pruitt spent more than $120,000 in public funds last summer for a trip to Italy that included a meeting with G-7 ministers and a private tour of the Vatican. Pruitt’s security detail cost more than $30,500.
  19. On Wednesday, Politico reported Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his wife took a security detail on their vacation to Greece and Turkey last year. Unlike Pruitt, Zinke was not conducting government business on his two-week vacation.
  20. On Tuesday, a filing by the Republican National Committee showed the committee spent $271,000 at Trump private businesses in February, and 86% of expenses were categorized as “venue rental and catering.”
  21. CNBC reported the RNC spent a total of $424,000 in the first two months of 2018, more than 100 times what the committee spent at Trump’s properties during the same two-month period in 2017.
  22. On Saturday, NYT reported despite CEO Alexander Nix telling the UK Parliament, “We’ve never worked in Russia,” employees of Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group had contact with Russian oil giant Lukoil in 2014 and 2015.
  23. According to two former employees, there were at least three meetings with Lukoil executives in London and Turkey, and Lukoil was interested in how data was used to target American voters.
  24. Lukoil is not state-owned, but depends on Kremlin support, and its CEO has met with Putin on numerous occasions. The company has been used as a vehicle of government influence, and is on the US sanctions list.
  25. On Saturday, The Observer reported Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge University academic who harvested Facebook data, had a previously undisclosed teaching position and grants from a Russian university.
  26. On Sunday, a shocking exposé in The Guardian told the story of Christopher Wylie, and his role as an employee at Cambridge Analytica, where he used data hacked from Facebook to influence to target the US electorate.
  27. The story also detailed Wylie’s meetings with Steve Bannon in 2013, who then booked him to meet with Robert and Rebekah Mercer. Wylie, who says he “made Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool,” is now a whistleblower.
  28. On Monday, UK’s Channel 4 News broadcast an undercover investigation of Cambridge Analytica taped between November 2017 and January 2018 at various meeting with senior company officials, including CEO Nix.
  29. In the tapes, Cambridge Analytica executives explain harvesting damaging material on opponents and spreading it through social media, as well as using bribes, ex-spies, fake IDs, and sex workers to influence elections.
  30. On Monday evening, Elizabeth Denham, the UK Information Commissioner, said her office is applying for a warrant to raid the offices of Cambridge Analytica and seize their servers.
  31. Facebook’s forensics investigators, firm Stroz Friedberg, were at Cambridge Analytica’s offices Monday night were told by Facebook to “stand down” at the request of the Information Commissioner’s Office.
  32. On Monday, the European Commission said its region’s data protection authorities will investigate Facebook’s sharing of data with Cambridge Analytica as a possible breach of data protection laws.
  33. The European Commission’s Justice commissioner, Vera Jourova, said she will raise the issue with in Washington DC this week during her scheduled meetings with Jeff Sessions and Wilbur Ross on Tuesday.
  34. On Tuesday, Cambridge Analytica suspended its CEO Nix and launched an independent investigation to determine if the company engaged in any wrongdoing. Nix was set to arrive from London to the US on Tuesday.
  35. In a statement, a spokesperson for Cambridge Analytica said its political division did not use Facebook data. The company also said the Channel 4 video “edited and scripted to grossly misrepresent” the conversations.
  36. On Monday, Wylie, told “The Today Show” that while he was at Cambridge Analytica, the company met with Trump’s campaign manager at the time, Corey Lewandowski.
  37. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Wylie also said Bannon oversaw Cambridge Analytica’s early efforts in 2014 to collect data to build detailed profiles on millions of American voters ahead of the 2016 election.
  38. Bannon served as vice president and secretary from June 2014 to August 2016, when he joined the Trump campaign. Bannon okayed the $1 million expenditure to acquire the data, including Facebook profiles, in 2014.
  39. Bannon tested the messages “drain the swamp” and “deep state.” The company also tested views on Putin. Wylie added, “there’s a lot of Americans who really like this idea of a really strong authoritarian leader.”
  40. Wylie noted Trump started to utilize those terms in his stump speeches once Bannon joined the campaign. Wylie also fears the Facebook data was turned over to Russians who aimed to interfere with the US election.
  41. Facebook staffers were set to brief several congressional committees, including House Energy and Commerce, Senate and House Intelligence, and Senate and House Judiciary. Democrats want hear from CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  42. On Wednesday, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg broke his silence with a post on Facebook saying the company made “mistakes” and outlined how it has changed its policies to make sure that user data is protected.
  43. Later that day in his first tv-interview, Zuckerberg told CNN, “I’m really sorry that this happened,” and said he’d “be happy” to testify. Both House and Senate committees have requested his testimony.
  44. On Wednesday, Aleksandr Kogan said he was being used as a “scapegoat.” He told BBC he was approached by Cambridge Analytica, and that all the information he provided was obtained legitimately.
  45. On Wednesday, AP reported that company filings show Cambridge Analytica has a link to a Chinese security and logistics company run by Erik Prince.
  46. On Friday, The Guardian reported the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) was granted a warrant to examine the records of Cambridge Analytica. Investigators completed a seven-hour search at 3 a.m. Saturday.
  47. On Friday, a leaked 27-page Cambridge Analytica internal memo obtained by The Guardian claimed the company won the White House for Trump by using Google, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
  48. On Monday, Trump hired Joseph diGenova for his legal team in the Mueller probe. A former United States attorney, diGenova is expected to usher in more aggressive and less cooperative stance with Mueller.
  49. Mr. diGenova is a frequent guest on Fox News, where he espouses a conspiracy theory that a group of people in the FBI and DOJ were trying to “frame Donald Trump” by concocting the Russia probe.
  50. On Monday, WAPO reported Trump’s team has turned over to Mueller written descriptions that chronicle key moments in hopes of avoiding a prolonged interview, and limiting the scope of what would be discussed.
  51. Trump has told aides he is “chomping at the bit” to be interviewed by Mueller’s team, but his lawyers, especially after his attacks on Twitter, are trying to limit the in-person exposure.
  52. On Monday, WAPO reported that diGenova’s hire caught many Trump advisers by surprise, prompting fears Trump is planning a shake-up. Trump continues to complain his lawyers and are not protecting him.
  53. Trump is also not consulting with top advisers, including chief of staff John Kelly and chief White House attorney Don McGahn, on his comments about the probe. Reportedly, he is instead watching television and calling friends.
  54. On Monday, NYT reported Trump is considering reshuffling his legal team. including firing Ty Cobb, who has advocated for cooperating with Mueller. Trump is also discussing adding additional lawyers to the team.
  55. On Monday, NYT reported John Dowd is considering resigning from Trump’s legal team, fearing he has no control of Trump’s behavior, especially recently when Trump has gone on an aggressive attack of Mueller himself.
  56. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Trump reached out to Theodore Olson, a former solicitor general to George W. Bush and seasoned litigator, to join his legal team. Olson declined.
  57. On Thursday, Dowd resigned as Trump’ lead lawyer in the Mueller probe. Reportedly, Trump broke with Dowd on whether he should agree to be questioned by Mueller’s team.
  58. Dowd has also said Trump has ignored his advice, including tweeting about Mueller and other topics hours about Dowd told him not to. Dowd was also “blindsided” that Trump was interviewing other candidates.
  59. Shortly after Dowd resigned, Trump said he would like to clear his name by testifying. With Dowd gone, Trump is likely to adopt a more aggressive stance against Mueller.
  60. On Thursday, WAPO reported Trump is having trouble finding top-notch lawyers to represent him in the Mueller probe. Several prominent white-collar lawyers have, like Olson and Emmet Flood, turned down offers.
  61. Some law firms have signaled they don’t want the controversy of representing a unpopular and divisive leader, while others are claiming they have clients with conflicting interest.
  62. On Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Flake said he would support impeachment proceedings against Trump as a “remedy” if Trump moves to end the Mueller probe before it is completed “without cause.”
  63. On Wednesday, Trump kept up his attacks of Mueller, sending a series of typo-ridden tweets including, “I think President Trump was right when he said there never should have been a Special Council appointed.”
  64. Reuters reported three sources who have spoken to Mueller’s team contradicted Sessions’ testimony he “pushed back” against the proposalmade by George Papadopoulos at a March 2016 meeting to meet with Russians.
  65. On Tuesday at a news conference, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan list of a half-dozen recommendations for state and federal government to improve election security.
  66. Chairman Richard Burr said the committee is completing work on four core topics: election security, the intelligence community’s assessment of Russian meddling, the Obama administration’s response in 2016, and social media.
  67. Burr also said the committee would try to come to a conclusion about where the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. The bipartisan functioning put his committee in stark contrast to the House Intelligence Committee.
  68. On Wednesday, Department of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former department head Jeh Johnson testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the government’s response to Russian hacking and what was being done to protect us going forward.
  69. Senators from both parties knocked the Trump regime for not working quickly enough before the upcoming midterms, and also questioned missteps by the Obama administration for the 2016 election.
  70. Senators from both parties complained about the lack of urgency of state election officials getting security clearance to prepare for midterms: Nielsen said only 20 of 150 have cleared.
  71. On Thursday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to end their Russia probe, saying contacts between Trump associates and Russia feel short of collusion, saying contacts did not amount to active cooperation.
  72. The committee’s report recommended dramatic new steps to crack down on intelligence leaks, including administering “mandatory polygraphs” and stiffening legal penalties for leaking classified information.
  73. The report also accused Obama’s DNI James Clapper, an outspoken critic of Trump and the regime, of providing “inconsistent testimony” about his contacts with the media.
  74. On Friday, Trump tweeted just his delight about the finding, citing no collusion, and “The Obama Administrations Post election response was insufficient.” Trump also started targeting Clapper.
  75. Russia-state news agency RT also tweeted about committee’s finding: “No collusion: ‘We disagree with narrative that Russians were trying to help #Trump’ — House Intelligence Committee”
  76. Democratic-aligned group Center for American Progress prepared a report showing the Republicans had either no or incomplete information about 81 percent of the known contacts between Trump associates and Russia.
  77. The Center for American Progress report documents at least 70 contacts, including at least 22 high-ranking Trump campaign officials who knew about the contacts during the 2016 campaign and the transition.
  78. Daily Beast reported Guccifer 2.0, the hacker who took credit with providing WikiLeaks emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, was an officer in Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU).
  79. Trump’s close ally, Roger Stone, admitted to being in direct touch with Guccifer 2.0 during the campaign. Mueller’s team has taken over the investigation of Guccifer 2.0.
  80. Using IP addresses, investigators identified Guccifer 2.0 as a particular GRU officer working out of the agency’s headquarters in Moscow. Hacking organization “Fancy Bear” has also been traced to the GRU.
  81. On Friday, AP reported Mueller is examining the connections between the Trump campaign and Cambridge Analytica. Mueller’s team has asked former staffers about the Trump campaign’s data operations.
  82. Reportedly, Mueller’s team is interested in how the Trump campaign collected and utilized voter data in battleground states.
  83. Mueller is also asking members of Trump’s data team, which included analysts from the RNC, about its relationship with Cambridge Analytica, for which the campaign paid just under $6 million in 2016.
  84. Cambridge Analytica made several approaches to the Trump campaign starting in the spring of 2015 before Trump launched his campaign. The Trump campaign’s first payment of $100,000 came in July 2016.
  85. On Friday, WAPO reported that when a Russian news agency reached out to Papadopoulos in September 2016 election for an interview, he was told by deputy communications director Bryan Lanza, “You should do it.
  86. Emails described to WAPO indicate Papadopoulos had much more extensive contact with the Trump campaign and transition team, including Bannon and Michael Flynn, than has been publicly acknowledged.
  87. On Monday, WAPO reported Charles Kushner, Jared’s father, confirmed meeting with Qatar’s finance minister three months after Trump took office, and said he turned down possible funding to avoid questions of conflict of interest.
  88. On Monday, AP reported Kushner Cos. routinely filed false paperwork with New York City, declaring the company had no rent-regulated tenants in dozens of buildings across the city, when it actually had hundreds.
  89. In 2015, Kushner Cos. bought three apartment building in a gentrifying area of Queens and turned a 50% profit selling two years later by doing away with rent protections, raising rents, and pushing tenants out.
  90. On Wednesday, AP reported the New York City’s buildings regulatorlaunched an investigation into more than a dozen Kushner Cos. properties for filing false paperwork claiming it had zero rent-regulated tenants.
  91. On Wednesday, NYT reported UAE political adviser George Nader worked more than a year to turn top Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy into an instrument of influence at the White House for the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
  92. Nader’s cultivation of Broidy included the prospect of being awarded huge contracts for his private security company. Nader also paid Broidy $2.7 million for “consulting, marketing and other advisory services rendered,”
  93. Nader and Broidy both pushed for the firing of Rex Tillerson, backed confrontational approaches to Iran and Qatar, and pushed for a private meeting between Trump and the rule of the UAE outside the White House.
  94. Nader is the first witness in the Mueller probe to be granted immunity for his cooperation. Sources say Nader’s relationship with Broidy may offer clues as to the direction of the inquiry.
  95. On Wednesday, Intercept reported the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman boasted he has Kushner “in his pocket.” In later October 2017, Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh, spending several nights with the crown prince.
  96. On November 4, 2017 the crown prince launched an anti-corruption crackdown, arresting dozens of members of the Saudi royal family and imprisoning them at the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh.
  97. Reportedly, the Saudi figures named in the President’s Daily Brief, said to be critics of the crown prince, were among those rounded up, including at least one who was reportedly tortured.
  98. On Wednesday, Trump hosted the Saudi Crown Prince in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Of the 20 attendees — 10 from Saudi Arabia and 10 US — none were women.
  99. On Wednesday, WSJ reported federal prosecutors have dropped charges against 11 of the 15 bodyguards for Turkey’s Erdogan who were accused of beating protesters outside the Turkish Embassy in DC in Week 27.
  100. Seven of the charges were dropped on February 14, 2018, the day before Tillerson flew to Ankara for a meeting with Erdogan to ease tensions. US officials said no one pressured prosecutors to drop charges.
  101. On Wednesday, Citigroup said in a letter its loan to the Kushner Cos. was “completely appropriate,” despite the loan closing on March 31, 2017, less than a month after the bank’s CEO met with Kushner at the White House.
  102. The letter from Citigroup was in response to questions by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings and other Democrats. The bank wrote, “The Kushner family has been a client of Citi for decades.”
  103. On Wednesday, retired four-star general Barry McCaffrey called it “simply outrageous” that Kushner, who has no relevant experience but has ties to family business dealings is a leading representative of US foreign policy.
  104. On Sunday, WAPO reported in the early months of Trump taking office, senior White House staffers were asked to sign a nondisclosure agreementbecause Trump was upset about leaks.
  105. Reportedly Reince Priebus and McGahn both complied, knowing the agreement ultimately would not be enforceable. The agreement was similar to one Trump campaign staffers were forced to sign.
  106. On Wednesday, CNN reported senior White House officials did sign nondisclosure agreements. Trump was advised the agreements weren’t feasible for federal government employees and couldn’t be enforced.
  107. Ivanka and Jason Greenblatt, a former lawyer for the Trump Organization, supported the idea of the agreements. Eventually, McGahn relented and drafted a watered-down, unenforceable version of an agreement.
  108. News broke of a second Trump insider getting divorced in two weeks: White House aide Dan Scavino’s wife filed for divorce in mid-January.
  109. A bipartisan overhaul of Congress’ sexual misconduct system that was speeding along will not be attached a must-pass government spending bill this week, perhaps ending momentum for the harassment reform plan.
  110. Trump again pushed Republicans to change longstanding rules in the Senate in order to speed along his nominees, arguing for putting an end to 60 votes needed to invoke cloture.
  111. On Tuesday, the Kremlin was the first to report Trump called Putin to congratulate him on his re-election. Trump confirmed a “very good call” with Putin, and said the two would meet in the “not too distant future.”
  112. Trump also did not mention Russia’s meddling in the US election, instead focusing on “shared interests,” including North Korea and Ukraine, overruling his national security advisers.
  113. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Trump ignored specific warnings from his national security advisers for his call with Putin, including a section in his briefing materials which read, “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.”
  114. Trump also disregarded instructions to condemn Putin for the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK using nerve gas. Aside from the call, Trump has also yet to forcefully call out the attack.
  115. Trump saying “probably we’ll be seeing President Putin in the not-too-distant future,” caught aides by surprise. The two are not scheduled to be in the same country until November for a Group of 20 summit.
  116. Sen. John McCain issued a statement, saying a US leader “does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections.” In Week 23, Trump congratulated Turkey’s Erdogan on passing a referendum to consolidate power. Trump also praised China’s Xi for ending term limits.
  117. On Tuesday, CNN reported Trump was furious over how quickly it leaked that advisers told him not to congratulate Putin, reinforcing his beliefmembers of his national security team are seeking to undermine him.
  118. On Wednesday, according to a White House statement, Trump joined with French President Macron in reiterating “their solidarity with the United Kingdom in the wake of Russia’s use of chemical weapons.”
  119. On Tuesday, WSJ reported that on a February call, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney told Michael Cohen he breached the nondisclosure agreement by publicly saying he paid Clifford $130,000. Cohen said, “I didn’t f — ing breach it!”
  120. Stephanie Clifford underwent a lie detector test. The examiner found there was a more than 99% probability she told the truth when she said she had unprotected sex with Trump in 2006.
  121. On Tuesday, the New York Post reported a Manhattan judge ruled in a first-of-its-kind decision that Trump could not claim immunity through his job, and must face a defamation lawsuit brought by Summer Zervos.
  122. On Tuesday, ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal sued The National Enquirer’s parent company AMI to be released from her 2016 hush agreement. McDougal alleges Cohen was secretly involved in her talks.
  123. McDougal sold her story to AMI, whose owner is a personal friend of Trump, for $150,000, wanting to go public her story about Trump. McDougal said the parameters of the agreement were never clear to her.
  124. On Wednesday, CBS announced that Stephanie Clifford’s “60 Minutes” interview will air on Sunday.
  125. On Thursday, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney demanded the Trump Organization and the two banks involved in the $130,000 payment preserve all records, saying he plans to subpoena them
  126. Attorney Michael Avenatti cited “unmistakable links” between Trump’s company and a secrecy agreement she signed. Avenatti told NBC News, we plan to “uncover the truth about the cover-up and what happened.”
  127. On Wednesday, ABC News reported nearly a year before being fired by Sessions for “lack of candor,” McCabe authorized a criminal probe against Sessions for his lack of candor about his contacts with Russian operatives.
  128. McCabe authorized the probe after letters from Sens. Patrick Leahy and Al Franken from the Senate Judiciary Committee, following Sessions’ senate confirmation hearing in January 2017, in which he said he had not been in touch, nor was he aware of others on the campaign who were, with Russians.
  129. On Wednesday, CNN reported, according to his lawyer, Sessions is not under investigation for perjury for his statements by Mueller’s team.
  130. On Thursday, Bob Goodlatte, a Republican on the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the DOJ for the FBI’s 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton, as well as the internal report that lead to Sessions firing McCabe.
  131. On Friday, in op-ed, McCabe said he learned of his firing after 21-years in the FBI from “a friend called to tell me that CNN was reporting that I had been fired” and read him Sessions’ statement.
  132. On Wednesday, ABC News reported that at a “It’s on Us” rally at University of Miami on Tuesday, Joe Biden told students of Trump, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him,” for disrespecting women.
  133. On Thursday, Trump responded to Biden on Twitter, saying “Crazy Joe Biden…threatens me, for a second time,” adding “he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don’t threaten people Joe!”
  134. On Thursday, H.R. McMaster resigned, saying he had discussed his departure with Trump for several weeks, and questions about his status were casting a shadow over his exchanges with foreign officials.
  135. Trump chose John Bolton as his third National Security Advisor in 14 months. Bolton is an outspoken advocate for military action, and has recently called for action against North Korea and Iran.
  136. On Thursday, NBC News reported Trump is also considering firing Kelly and operating without a formal chief of staff, instead acting as his own chief of staff and having a handful of aides who report directly to him.
  137. On Friday, Foreign Policy reported Bolton is planning a massive shake-up of the National Security Council. Dozens of current White House officials are expected to be removed.
  138. Source say firings will start with getting rid of every Obama holdover. Bolton will also be targeting those of who been disloyal to Trump or are suspected of having leaked to the media.
  139. On Friday, NYT reported Bolton’s political committee, known as The John Bolton Super PAC, first hired Cambridge Analytica in August 2014, while the company was still harvesting Facebook data.
  140. Bolton’s super PAC used the company for two years, paying $1.2 million primarily for “survey research,” and was provided information on “behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging.
  141. On Friday morning, Trump threatened in a tweet to veto a $1.3 trillion spending bill passed hours earlier by Congress, reportedly furious over the failure of Congress to pay for his wall on the border of Mexico.
  142. On Friday afternoon, Trump told reporters at a news conference by himself that he signed what he called “this ridiculous situation, but threatened, “I will never sign another bill like this again — I’m not going to do it again.
  143. Trump continued, disparaging the legislation to reporters, saying “Nobody read it,” adding he only signed it as a matter of national security, “We had no choice but to fund our military,” an angle Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis had reported pushed.
  144. Trump also requested a line-item veto for future government spending bills and demanded an end to the filibuster rule.
  145. On Thursday evening, Karen McDougal told CNN she had a 10 month affair with Trump, after she met him in the summer of 2006, during the filming of “Celebrity Apprentice” at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.
  146. Although a White House schedule released Thursday evening showed the first couple would depart the White House together aboard Marine One, on Friday Melania did not join Trump for the flight.
  147. On Friday, AP reported after six weeks of firings and 14 months on the job, Trump is becoming more confident, bucking the advice of White House staffers and congressional Republicans and going it alone.
  148. Trump has floated to outside advisers a plan to do away with the traditional West Wing power structure, and run the White House with a more free-wheeling atmosphere, like he did with his business.
  149. Reportedly, the sense of apprehension is palpable in the West Wing, where tempers are running short and staffers are considering future employment prospects behind closed doors.
  150. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index had their worst week in two years, leaving investors hoping for a Trump respite. Trump unilaterally started a trade war with China without preparation or planning.
  151. On Friday, NYT reported the mood in the White House as “bewildered resignation” as staffers are left with predicting and reacting in real time to Trump’s shifting moods.
  152. NYT also reported Trump is feeling increasingly confident in his own abilities, while feeling embattled by Congress, the Russia investigation, foreign entanglements, a potential trade war, and women from his past speaking out.
  153. On Saturday, Bloomberg reported Trump is considering a National Security Council recommendation to expel dozens of Russian diplomats from the US in response to the nerve-agent poisoning in the UK.
  154. On Saturday, tens of thousands of students converged on DC for “March For Our Lives,” a rally to toughen gun laws. Additional rallies took place in cities and towns around the country.
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Artist: Margete Griffin. Jacksonville, FL. February 2018
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New York City. February 2018.
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New York City. February 2018.
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New York City. February 2018.

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 66: PRESIDENT OF THE DIVIDED STATES

Week 65 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

February 10, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-65-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-28d95a0899dd

This week the chaos in our country infected Trump’s beloved stock market, which suffered its most volatile week since the financial crisis of 2008, as the Republican Party of Trump abandoned yet another of its guiding principles, fiscal responsibility. The regime suffered multiple resignations from its thinly staffed White House, as well as resignation of the third-ranking official at the Department of Justice amid escalating attacks on our institutions by Trump and his allies.

Troubling signs that Russia never left, and plans to meddle in our midterms emerged, although an increasingly autocratic Trump has conveniently yet to acknowledge Russian interference in our 2016 election. The whitewashing of America continues with statements and actions by Trump and his regime which are antithetical to American values. Trump also continues his pattern of siding with men facing allegations of abuse, ignoring victims’ suffering and accusing them of telling lies, despite Steve Bannon’s warnings that the “anti-patriarchy movement” is changing the US power structure.

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  1. Late Saturday, WAPO reported Trump is hopeful that the release of the Devin Nunes memo release will pave the way for further shake-ups, including the firing of Rod Rosenstein, as he continues to take steps to derail the Mueller probe.
  2. Late Saturday, TIME reported that in an August 2013 letter to an academic press, Carter Page bragged about his tie to the Kremlin: “I have had the privilege to serve as an informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin.”
  3. On Sunday, Republicans lawmakers including Rep. Trey Gowdy tried to distance themselves from the Nunes memo. Four members of the House Intelligence Committee said the memo should not impact the Mueller probe.
  4. Asked about the Nunes memo release in an interview with CBS News, former CIA director Leon Panetta said, “I’ve been in public life for over 50 years. I have never in my lifetime seen anything like this happen.”
  5. On Monday, Nunes admitted a central part of his memo’s case against the FBI is untrue: the FBI did disclose a law firm working for Hillary’s campaign and the Democratic Party paid for the dossier in a footnote.
  6. Also on Monday, Nunes told Fox & Friends that George Papadopoulos who is mentioned in his memo, “never even knew who Trump — never even had met with” him. This is a lie. There a picture of the two together.
  7. Amid the onslaught of attacks, Republican voters have soured on the FBI. Gallup found 49% of GOP voters think the FBI is doing an “excellent” or “good” job in December 2017, down from 62% in 2014.
  8. On Monday, the House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously to release the Democratic rebuttal to the Nunes memo. Trump now has five days to review it and decide on redactions, if any, and if it should be released.
  9. On Tuesday, Trump met with Rosenstein to discuss the Democratic rebuttal memo. Chief of staff John Kelly told reporters he asked key lawyers and national security officials to complete a final evaluation of the memo by Thursday.
  10. On Monday, at a speech in Ohio, Trump called the Democrats who didn’t applaud his State of the Union speech “un-American” and “treasonous,” adding “I mean they certainly didn’t seem to love our country that much.”
  11. On Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Flake took to the Senate floor to rebuke Trump’s “not normal” comments, adding “Democratic colleagues love this country as much as we do. To suggest otherwise is simply unconscionable.”
  12. On Tuesday, Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries took the House floor saying, “how dare you lecture us,” asking if it is treason for a “campaign to meet with a hostile foreign power to sell out our democracy and rig the election?”
  13. On Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump was “clearly joking” when he made the comment about Democrats. Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley added that the remark was “tongue-in-cheek.”
  14. On Tuesday, White House officials say they have begun planning for a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America’s armed forces. Trump reportedly said, “I want a parade like the one in France.”
  15. Trump’s idea for a military parade was met with widespread bipartisan condemnation calling it a waste of money, and saying it would break from democratic traditions. Conservative Joe Walsh tweeted, “Trump isn’t a King.”
  16. Robert J. O’Neill, a Fox News contributor and former Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden, tweeted that Trump’s parade idea is “third world bullshit,” saying a “First World” country doesn’t do such things.
  17. On Thursday, Democrats introduced the PARADE (Preventing the Allocation of Resources for Absurd Defense Expenditures) Act, which would block Trump from spending taxpayers funds for his parade.
  18. Chicago Sun Times reported Arthur Jones, an outspoken Holocaust denier, activist anti-Semite, and white supremacist, is set to become the GOP nominee for an Illinois congressional seat, representing parts of Chicago.
  19. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported released a report, “The Alt-Right is Killing People.” Of 12 incidents which led to death or injuries, nine of those incidents occurred during 2017.
  20. The Guardian reported that court documents reveal California police worked with, and expressed sympathy for, neo-Nazis while working to identify anti-fascist activists and Trump protesters after violent clashes at rallies.
  21. Dallas Morning News reported the Trump regime capped the number of refugees it would admit at 45,000 for the fiscal year 2018, down from 85,000 allowed in Obama’s final year in office.
  22. In the first four months of fiscal year 2018, just 6,700 refugees have been admitted, putting the US on pace to take 20,000 refugees, the lowest since the 1980 Refugee Act gave US leaders the power to set caps.
  23. On Wednesday, the FBI released information that Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez, whose death in November 2017 was used by Trump to push for his border wall, was the result of an accident, not a homicide.
  24. Reuters reported the Trump regime plans to revamp a US government program called “Countering Violent Extremism,” from countering all violent ideologies to solely focusing on Islamist extremism.
  25. On Thursday, Trump tweeted “Time to end the visa lottery. Congress must secure the immigration system and protect Americans,” and linked to the 2010 case of Mubarak Ahmed Hamed, who illegally transferred money.
  26. WAPO reported an employee of the Montana Department of Labor resigned after learning ICE planned to subpoena the state for labor data which would be used to “hunt down & deport undocumented workers.”
  27. CNN reported Amer Adi, who has lived in the US for almost 40 years, has a wife and four daughters who are US citizens, and who Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan described as a “pillar” of his community, was deported to Jordan by ICE.
  28. Since Trump took office, ICE arrests have increased by 42%. Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants have been arrested, including many like Adi who are deeply rooted and have no criminal convictions.
  29. Reuters reported Trump’s Department of Homeland Security has drafted rules that would allow ICE to scrutinize immigrants’ use of certain taxpayer-funded public benefits, for them or their children, to determine if they could become a public burden.
  30. Under the draft, a person would be considered a “public charge” if they depend on “any government assistance,” the result of which is effectively barring lower- and middle-income people from immigrating.
  31. On Tuesday, at a meeting with Leader Mitch McConnell, Kelly said undocumented immigrants who hadn’t signed up for the DACA program were either “too afraid” or “too lazy to get off their asses.”
  32. When asked later that day by the media to clarify his comments, Kelly doubled-down saying, “I gotta say that some of them just should have probably gotten off the couch and signed up.”
  33. Kelly’s words were met with harsh condemnation from Democrats and advocates, calling his words “ignorant,” “discriminatory,” and “cruel.” Advocates cite fear, cost, and misinformation as the main barriers.
  34. On Tuesday, when asked by the media about the pending government shutdown, Trump said he would “love to see a shutdown” if it helped get a tough immigration deal, including his border wall, passed in Congress.
  35. On Wednesday, Rep. Nancy Pelosi held the House floor for over eight hours, the longest continuous speech in the chamber since 1909, to advocate for Dreamers, and for a vote on a bill to address DACA.
  36. On Monday, Reuters reported acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mick Mulvaney planned to pull-back from a full-scale probe of how hackers stole personal date of 143 million Americans from Equifax.
  37. Intercept reported coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler hosted fundraisers for Sens. John Barrasso and Jim Inhofe, Republicans on the Committee on Environment and Public Works, ahead of his nomination for a top EPA position.
  38. Association of Health Care Journalists reported The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services threatened to ban a reporter from press calls after he refused to delete parts of a published story at the request of CMS administrator Seema Verma.
  39. The agency followed through with its threat last week when Virgil Dickson of Modern Healthcare said his phone went mute during a CMS press calland a woman’s voice told him he was not allowed to participate.
  40. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said in an interview with KSNV News 3 Las Vegas, that the warming climate is not “necessarily is a bad thing,” suggesting instead that a warm climate could be beneficial.
  41. The state legislature in Idaho voted to strip all mentions of human-caused climate change from statewide science guidelines, the first state to do so. Parents, teachers, and students are pushing back for revised standards.
  42. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told Politico she found it “hurtful” being criticized for not upholding civil rights. She responded to lawsuits against her and her department for repealing Obama-era rules on campus sexual assault, saying she hoped “nobody who has been involved” would now not come forward.
  43. On Thursday, the two largest teachers union were blocked from entering the Education Department building to deliver complaints in the form of 80,000 report cards to DeVos, because they did not have an appointment.
  44. A three-month study conducted by Oxford, as part of the school’s Computational Propaganda Research Project, found Trump supporters consume and share the most fake news on Twitter and Facebook.
  45. Congressional Republicans took another step in quietly dismantling Obamacare, disbanding the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a board designed to tame runaway Medicare costs, should they ever arise.
  46. Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom Trump described in 2016 as a “hater” and a “Mexican” who disliked Trump because of his strong border stance, will hear a key environmental case on Trump’s border wall with Mexico.
  47. On Monday, the Supreme Court denied a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to delay redrawing congressional lines. The deadline to redraw districts, which will benefit Democrat, was Friday.
  48. Pennsylvania State Rep. Cris Dush sent a letter to fellow House Republicans calling for the impeachment of the five justices who ruled that the legislature must redraw the state’s gerrymandered maps.
  49. On Friday, Dallas Morning News reported that county Republicans filed a lawsuit alleging the Democratic Party chair did not sign petitions of 128 candidates, so they should be kicked off the March 6 primary ballot.
  50. Sen. Chuck Grassley sent a letter of rebuke to Jeff Sessions, saying a memo which instructs Department of Justice employees not to communicate with Congress without pre-approval discourages whistleblowers and does not comply with the law.
  51. Spain extradited Russian citizen Pyotr Levashov, aka Peter Severa, a spam kingpin, to the US to face charges of links to a series of powerful botnets that were capable of pumping out billions of spam emails.
  52. A counter-extradition request from Russia was rejected. Levashov was apprehended while vacationing with his family in Barcelona in April. In Week 22, his wife said he was arrested for being “linked to Trump’s win.”
  53. On Monday, NYT reported Trump’s lawyers have advised him against being interviewed by Mueller’s team over concern Trump would make false statements and contradict himself, and could be charged with lying.
  54. If Trump refuses to be interviewed, Mueller could subpoena him to testify before a grand jury, a court fight that could be determined by the Supreme Court. It could also prompt accusations that Trump has something to hide.
  55. On Tuesday, Steve Bannon did not show up to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, despite a subpoena. Bannon’s attorney said theWhite House would not let him testify beyond 14 pre-approved yes-or-no questions.
  56. On Tuesday, Rep. Adam Schiff said if Bannon maintains his refusal, the committee should commence contempt proceedings to compel his testimony. The House has given Bannon one week to comply with their subpoena.
  57. On Wednesday, Schiff said in a statement that neither Bannon and Corey Lewandowski have “articulated legitimate grounds for refusing to appear and answer questions.” Schiff plans to subpoena Lewandowski too.
  58. NBC News reported Bannon is likely to meet with Mueller’s team next week. Bannon has reportedly struck a deal with Mueller’s team to avoid having to testify before a grand jury.
  59. Politico reported that the FBI was monitoring Carter Page when he spoke to Bannon in January 2017, and may have picked up the call. In Page’s November testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, he mentioned the call.
  60. According to Page, Bannon called to ask him to cancel a planned television appearance shortly before Trump’s January 21 inauguration. The two then discussed the dossier which was made public on January 11 by BuzzFeed.
  61. Research findings by BuzzFeed and Jonathan Albright of Columbia University reveal Russian trolls were active on Tumblr during the 2016 election, although the company has yet to face Congressional scrutiny.
  62. Russian-run Tumblr accounts used the same or similar usernames as the list of confirmed Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency accounts on other social media. Accounts generated hundreds of thousands of interactions which were anti-Hillary Clinton.
  63. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Russia is already gearing up to meddle in the 2018 midterms, following the playbook it used in 2016. Tillerson warned the US is not “better prepared” and that Russia will adapt as well.
  64. In an interview with NBC News the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, Jeanette Manfra said, “We saw a targeting of 21 states and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated.”
  65. NBC News reported many of the states complained the federal government did not provide specific threat details. Manfra said clearances are being processed to make more sharing possible.
  66. On Thursday, George W. Bush said during his talk at an economic summit in Abu Dhabi that there is “pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled” in the 2016 US election.
  67. A poll by NBC News/SurveyMonkey found 79% of Americans are concerned our voting systems might be vulnerable to computer hackers, while just 55% say our federal government is doing enough about it.
  68. On Wednesday, the WSJ reported the Senate Intelligence Committee is drafting is a report on vulnerabilities in the US election system based on the committee’s Russia probe which is expected to be released in March.
  69. On Thursday, Fox News reported Sen. Mark Warner, ranking Democrat of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had extensive contact via texting with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch who was offering him access to Christopher Steele.
  70. Of note: last week in Week 64, Assange messaged a Twitter account he thought belonged to Fox News’ Sean Hannity offering, “Have some news about [Sen Mark] Warner.” Fox News broke the story on Warner.
  71. On Thursday, shortly after the Fox News story, Trump tweeted “Senator Mark Warner got caught having extensive contact with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch.” Russian bots were also active in attacking Warner.
  72. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, also on the Senate Intelligence Committee, tweeted in response to the Fox News story, “Sen.Warner fully disclosed this to the committee four months ago. Has had zero impact on our work.
  73. On Wednesday, Sen. Ron Johnson released a new report which included additional texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and Page. A September 2, 2016 text from Page says, “potus wants to know everything we’re doing.”
  74. Shortly after the next texts were released, Trump tweeted, “NEW FBI TEXTS ARE BOMBSHELLS!” Press secretary Sanders added the report, “further shows that there is reason for us to have great cause for concern.”
  75. Sen. Johnson asserted the text was Obama wanting to know about the Clinton email investigation, however the investigation was closed at that time. September 2 was three days before Obama confronted Putin for meddling in our election on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Hangzhou, China.
  76. On Thursday, FBI informant Douglas Campbell resurrected Uranium One, saying in a statement to three congressional committees that Russia routed $3 million through an American lobbying firm to influence Hillary and Obama.
  77. On Thursday, CBS News reported that House Intelligence Republicans will literally wall off their aides from Democratic staffers. Republicans on the committee claim to not be part of this, instead suggesting the move is by Nunes.
  78. A Marist College poll found Americans who strongly disapprove of Trump is up to 44% from 39% last month, while just 24% strongly approve.
  79. The poll also found 71% do not think the FBI is out to get Trump. Also, 55% said they would believe Mueller over Trump, compared to 30% who said the reverse.
  80. WAPO reported Christopher Steele, according to colleagues, was so concerned about what he learned from his Russia network on the Kremlin’s plans, he said “it was like “sitting on a nuclear weapon.”
  81. Steele was summoned to Rome to meet with the US intelligence. He shared that Russia had damaging information on Trump, and they planned to carry out an operation to tilt the US election, ordered by Putin.
  82. The FBI treated Steele as a peer. On Russian expertise, Steele had been sought out by the DOJ on past cases, as well as providing briefing material for British prime ministers and at least one US president.
  83. Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted then deleted a tweet celebrating a high school secretary’s $1.50/week pay increase under the GOP tax law. Ryan collected $500,000 from the Koch Brothers days after the law passed.
  84. Ryan, in turn, donated $5,000 to 143 Republican members of Congress.
  85. CNN reported under the Republican tax law, Exxon will lower its tax bill by $6 billion, as the company’s tax rate is lowered from 35% to 21%. Tillerson recused himself for one year only from matters relating to Exxon.
  86. WAPO reported according to a document released by the Treasury Department, the US government expects to borrow $955 billion in 2018 up from $519 billion last year, and the highest borrowing amount in six years.
  87. The jump in borrowing is the biggest since a spike under Reagan. The Congressional Budget Office said in a report the steep increase in borrowing is from lower tax receipts resulting from the GOP tax law.
  88. On Tuesday, the Commerce Department announced the trade gap in goods and services rose to $566 billion in 2017, the highest level since 2008.
  89. Following the sell-off Friday on the release of the Nunes memo, the global sell-off continued Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) plunging 1,175 points, the largest single-day drop in history.
  90. CNBC reported the DJIA traveled more than 20,000 points this week, the most volatility since October 2008, during the financial crisis.
  91. On Tuesday, Democrats picked up a seat in the Missouri state House of Representatives. Mike Revis, a 27-year-old, won the race by four points, in a deep-red district that Trump had won by 28 points.
  92. So far in nine 2018 special election races, Democratic candidates are running 27 points ahead of Clinton and 12 ahead of Obama. In 70 races in 2017, Democrats ran 10 points ahead of Clinton and 7 ahead of Obama.
  93. Lawfare reported, based on 103 FBI emails obtained under a FOIA request, that despite statements by Trump and Sanders, bureau employees were shocked by Comey’s firing, and were supportive of him as their leader.
  94. NYT reported FEMA awarded Tiffany Brown, an Atlanta entrepreneur and sole owner of her company with no experience in large-scale disaster relief, a $156 million contract to deliver meals for Puerto Ricans.
  95. Brown’s contract called for delivering 30 million meals. By the time 18.5 million meals were due, only 50,000 had been delivered. House Democrats have asked Rep. Gowdy to subpoena documents from FEMA.
  96. Reps. Elijah Cummings and Gerald Connolly, the Democratic leaders on the House Oversight Committee send a letter to committee chair Gowdy complaining that 13 of the 19 subpoenas put forth by Democrats have been rejected.
  97. On Friday, Sen. Tim Kaine demanded the release of a secret memo outlining Trump’s interpretation of his legal authority to wage war. Sessions was briefed on the memo last April, but Trump has yet to brief Congress.
  98. On Tuesday, the National Weather Service sent out an errant tsunami warning on Twitter to several East Coast locations. The warnings were supposed to be a test, but due to a glitch came out as an actual warning.
  99. In an op-ed, former Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub criticized the Russia probe legal defense fund set up by the Trump regime in Week 64 as “unethical” citing Trump’s ability to allocate funds and lack of visibility on donors.
  100. WAPO reported that, breaking with tradition, Trump does not read his daily intelligence reports, instead relying on oral briefings. Experts say by not reading the detailed classified info, Trump could miss detail and nuance.
  101. In the quickly shifting US media landscape, Time Inc. takeover by Meredith with funding by the Koch Brother was completed, Newsweek was in disarray after being raided by the Manhattan DA, and biotech billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong took over the LA Times.
  102. Daily Beast reported that a media startup Redfish, a Berlin-based media collective marketed as “grassroots,” is actually supported by the Kremlinand most of its in-house staff last worked for Russian government media.
  103. On Friday, at the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics in South Korea, Vice President Pence and the second lady sat stone faced while South Korean president Moon, North Korea officials and others stood together to applaud their athletes.
  104. As Pence led the US delegation, openly gay figure skater Adam Rippon told a reporter, “You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?” Rippon turned down a meeting request from Pence.
  105. On Tuesday, UK’s Daily Mail reported the two ex-wives of Trump aide Rob Porter say he was physically and emotionally abusive, and his second wife had an order of protection against him. Porter is currently dating Hope Hicks.
  106. Porter had a central role in the Trump regime, working for Kelly and as Staff Secretary, controlling the information that reached Trump, including highly classified information. On Wednesday, Kelly said “Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can’t say enough good things about him.
  107. Porter denied the allegations, but resigned on Wednesday. CNN reportedsenior aides to Trump had known about the abuse allegations for months. Trump reportedly learned of the allegations this week.
  108. Hicks did not recuse herself from the White House media strategy. A statement from Sen. Orrin Hatch was being released by the White House without his office’s knowledge as new facts came out and the senator’s office was issuing an updated statement. Porter formerly served as chief of staff to Hatch.
  109. A year into serving, Porter was unable to get permanent security clearance. Kelly and others had been aware since early fall that this was due to the FBI speaking to Porter’s ex-wives as part of routine background.
  110. Late Wednesday, reportedly after seeing photos of Porter’s first wife with a black eye, Kelly said in a statement he was “shocked” by the allegations against Porter, and “there is no place for domestic violence in our society.”
  111. On Thursday, Porter’s second ex-wife Jennifer Willoughby said she told the FBI about the abuse and protective order. She said when FBI agents asked if Porter could potentially be blackmailed, she answered, “maybe.”
  112. Intercept reported a friend of Porter tried to silence Porter’s first ex-wife Colbie Holderness by contacting her husband ahead of her FBI interview in January 2017. Holderness described her abuse in detail to the FBI, and told them she believed Porter’s history would make him easy to blackmail.
  113. On Thursday, WAPO reported that White House counsel Donald McGahn knew Porter’s ex-wives accused him of domestic violence in January 2017, but allowed him to continue as an influential aide and gatekeeper of information to Trump.
  114. McGahn’s views didn’t change in June when the FBI flagged some of its findings to the White House, or in September when he learned the domestic violence claims were delaying Porter’s security clearance, or in November when Porter’s former girlfriend contacted him about the allegations.
  115. Rep. Cummings slammed House Oversight Committee chair Gowdy in a letter for stonewalling efforts to get information on the security clearance process at the White House. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney called for an investigation of Porter.
  116. CNN reported 30 to 40 White House officials and political appointees are still operating without full security clearances, including Jared Kushner. Experts describe the backlog as unusual after more than a year in office.
  117. WAPO reported McGahn and others are hesitant to act on others not getting security clearance, because they have not taken steps on Kushner, who has access to highly classified materials including the daily briefings.
  118. On Friday, CNN reported Trump is frustrated with Hicks over her role in what has become the Porter scandal. Trump thinks Hicks let her romantic relationship cloud her judgment, and put her priorities ahead of his.
  119. WAPO reported Kelly told White House staff in a Friday morning meeting to communicate a new version of events, and to say he took action to remove Porter within 40 minutes of learning abuse allegations were credible.
  120. This version contradicts reporting and accounts of numerous White House officials who say Kelly knew about the allegations for months. Kelly also told his staff to convey to other White House aides that he cares about domestic violence.
  121. On Friday, Trump told reporters he was “very sad” about Porter’s departure and “we wish him well.” Trump did not express any sympathy for Porter’s victims, instead adding Porter “says he’s innocent.
  122. WAPO’s Jennifer Rubin noted Trump has yet to put forth a nominee for the DOJ’s director for the office of violence against women, nor has he named a White House adviser for violence against women, a position created by Obama.
  123. The House voted to change decades-old procedures handling reports of sexual harassment and assault accusations. The bill still has to pass through the Senate and Trump. Eight lawmakers have resigned or said they will not seek re-election since the start of #MeToo.
  124. Changes include a rule that lawmakers cannot have sexual relations with their staff, a new office will help guide victims, taxpayers will no longer pay lawmakers’ legal bills, and non-disclosure statements will no longer be required.
  125. In an interview with Bloomberg, Bannon warned Trump the “anti-patriarchy movement” is going to dramatically alter the power structure in the US, adding “I think it’s going to unfold like the tea party, only bigger.”
  126. On Friday, Rachel Brand, the third-highest-ranking official at the DOJ, a department under constant attack by Trump, resigned to take a position at Walmart. Brand was confirmed for the position just nine months ago.
  127. Brand would have been next in line to oversee the Mueller investigation if Trump fires Rosenstein, renewing concerns Trump will move to end the Mueller probe. Trump appointee Noel Francisco is now next in line.
  128. On Friday, Kelly’s deputy chief of staff, Jim Carroll, announced he will leave the White House to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Reportedly, the resignation was planned prior to the Porter scandal.
  129. Carroll is the third deputy chief of staff to resign in the first 13 months since Trump took office. Late Friday, the NYT reported Kelly has offered to resign over the Porter scandal.
  130. On Friday WAPO reported that a second White House staffer, David Sorensen, a speechwriter for Stephen Miller, resigned amid allegations by his ex-wife, Jessica Corbett, that he was physically and emotionally abusive.
  131. Corbett first contacted the Post after Porter’s case became public. Corbett said she detailed her domestic abuse allegations to an FBI agent in October 2017, as part of Sorensen’s background check process.
  132. NYT reported US spies paid a $100,000 down-payment in Berlin in September 2017 to a Russian who promised to deliver stolen NSA cyberweapons as well as compromising information on Trump.
  133. Reportedly the Russian handed over data in October and December, but all was related to the 2016 election and alleged ties between Trump and Russia, not the NSA or CIA hacking tools. The CIA then cut ties.
  134. Intercept further reported Trump appointee CIA director Mike Pompeo was at times reluctant to stay involved in the operation, fearing the information obtained from the Russians would be Trump-related material.
  135. Some sources claim that the CIA has become so politicized under Pompeo, agents fear taking in materials that could be damaging to Trump, and also fear Trump’s blowback on their agencies and firing senior officials.
  136. Late Friday, Trump announced he will not allow the Democrats’ rebuttal memo to be declassified and released. McGahn said in a letter the memo contains “numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages.”
  137. On Saturday, Trump tweeted he did not release the memo because it is “very political and long.” Sen. Dianne Feinstein called it “hypocrisy at its worst” adding she has read the classified materials and the Nunes memo is “misleading.”
  138. On Saturday, again following his pattern of supporting men accused of assault, Trump tweeted “lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” adding, “some are true and some are false.”
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Sticker on trash bin in Manhattan, NYC. 9feb18

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Artist SacSix in NYC. feb2018

POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 2: BAD HOMBRE

This will be a continuing series as Donald Trump’s mental issues become more and more apparent, thus inspiring artists all over the world to create against his oppressive policies. Amy Siskind is a highly successful Wall Street executive and the Co-founder and President of The New Agenda, a national organization working on issues including domestic violence, LGBT, sexual assault, and economic independence and advancement. She has been brilliantly documenting each week of Trump’s presidency, making lists showing what he has executively acted, who he has nominated, and various other nonsensical, inappropriate, and in some cases, illegal policy enforcements. We will start with Week 1, but in no time, I can assure you that these posts will catch up to present time, because artists are hungrily expressing the discontent of millions around the globe. Siskind decided to do this because “experts on authoritarianism advise people to keep a list of things subtly changing around us, so that we’ll remember.”

Week 1: published November 20, 2016

Acts of hate — for the first 400 per SPLC, I could name many that I had seen covered by the media. Then I noticed the count exceeded 700, and I realized I knew very little about those additional 300.

Reporters critique their own paper’s coverage of Trump, then delete it (see below tweet which disappeared overnight, after 2k+ retweets).

A president-elect is openly (on Twitter!) trying to take away our freedom of expressions, First Amendment rights: targets this week include SNL, NYT and Hamilton.

The media, including traditional media, covered an alt-right conference and published their demands, which included a ban on immigration for 50 years of anyone not white, and an all white nation.

Major media following Trump’s reality show storylines, instead of reporting as traditional media/journalism.

Democrats advocating for a Mitt Romney appointment to SOS — a man with whom we agree on almost nothing on policy, but because he is competent and not a racist or a bigot.

The pace of untraditional, unorthodox acts, and conflicts of interest by Trump are coming so fast and furious, they’re barely getting coverage.

Utter outrage by the left at the complacency and largely silence of our elected leaders. Watch of a Tea Party-esque type uprising.

A request for tolerance for, and understanding of, white supremacists.

https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-1-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-aa8738496f9#.m51ldcc8d

Artist: SubDude in London, England.
Photo taken in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Photo: London, England.
Photo: Samuel Dylan Clayton at Protest March in Berlin, Germany.
Photo: Abigail Kafka at The Lennon Wall in Prague, Czech Republic.
Artist: SubDude in London, England.
Artist: Eric Yahnker
Photo: Samuel Dylan Clayton in Berlin, Germany.
Artist: Eric Yahnker
Artist: SubDude in London, England.
Artist: Eric Yahnker

Stay tuned for “POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 3” and Amy Siskind’s ‘Week 2’ list…