Week 30: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

June 10, 2017

This week all eyes were on the Comey testimony, which opened the door for what could be obstruction of justice, an impeachable offense. Despite Republicans controlling the House, Senate and White House, legislative progress has largely come to a halt amid weekly and sometimes daily bombshells, as all eyes turn to the Trump-Russia scandal. Also of note is the complete disarray of the Trump regime, and the difficulty Trump is having hiring staff and even finding legal representation.

  1. In the aftermath of terrorists attacks in London Saturday night, Trump attacked the Mayor tweeting, “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is “no reason to be alarmed!”
  2. The US ambassador to the UK contradicted Trump, tweeting from the embassy account we “Commend the strong leadership” of the Mayor.
  3. Trump used the attack as an opportunity to promote his Muslim Ban, “I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” Ironically, the Trump regime spent months denying it was a “ban.”
  4. Trump also criticized Sessions, tweeting the DOJ should have stayed with the first Muslim ban, “not the watered down, politically correct version.”
  5. Experts said Trump’s tweets would likely hurt the chances on appeal at the Supreme Court.
  6. NYT reported that Trump is fuming at Sessions, especially over his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
  7. Mattis tried to reassure allies at a conference in Singapore, asking them to “bear with us” after Trump’s disastrous foreign trip.
  8. POLITICO reported that Trump’s national security team was blind-sided when he left out the planned language reaffirming US commitment to Article 5 from his NATO summit speech in Brussels.
  9. A noose was found at a construction site in DC, marking the third noose found in the DC area this week.
  10. The Ku Klux Klan applied to hold a rally in Charlottesville on July 8th.
  11. Reuters reported that the Trump regime is seeking to reopen hundreds of cases of illegal immigrants who were granted a reprieve under Obama.
  12. Buzzfeed reviewed more than 50 reports of school bullying, and found that kids nationwide are using Trump’s words to taunt their classmates.
  13. Kim Weaver dropped her run for Congress against Trump ally, Steve King, after receiving multiple death threats.
  14. POLITICO reported that Tillerson has made himself largely inaccessible to staff and outsiders, funneling all inquiries through two staffers.
  15. The Mayor of Los Angeles said ICE’s aggressive raids could cause high tensions in his city to boil over: “I fear a tinderbox out there.”
  16. Canadian searches for flights to US cities have dropped by 43% since Trump’s first proposed Muslim Ban.
  17. Ivanka continued her efforts to reset her image, appearing on the cover of US Weekly with a headline, “Why I Disagree with My Dad.”
  18. Questions arose of whether it is constitutional for Trump to block users, given he Twitter communicate about domestic and foreign policy.
  19. Trump filed a 6 month extension for filing his 2016 taxes. His rationale for the extension is unknown.
  20. WSJ reported Saudi Arabia’s lobbyists and consultants spent $270k at the Trump Hotel DC as part of an effort to lobby Trump against a bi-partisan Act that lets Americans sue foreign countries over terrorist attacks.
  21. The DOJ argued Trump can accept payments from foreign governments, saying the emoluments clause doesn’t apply to “fair-market commercial transactions” like payments for hotel rooms and golf club fees.
  22. As questions remain on why Kushner met with VEB’s Gorkov, Bloomberg reported that Kushner is seeking a $250mm loan to pay back Chinese investors for a New Jersey luxury tower. US banks are wary to lend.
  23. WNYC reported the Kushner family is set to lose $6.5mm in annual tax credits for a property in Jersey City.
  24. The acting US ambassador to China resigned over Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord.
  25. The head of the US Patent Office resigned.
  26. 85% of the top science jobs in Trump’s executive branch remain unfilled and do not have a nominee.
  27. The chief executive of Newseum warned that Trump’s denigration of the media would lead to the “delegitimization of journalists,” and encourage authoritarians to target reporters and newspapers around the world.
  28. Rep Gianforte agreed to pay $50k to the Committee to Project Journalists in a civil settlement for assaulting journalist Ben Jacobs.
  29. Mueller brought in several, well-known attorneys with relevant experience to join his special counsel Russia probe, including Michael Dreeben, the DOJ’s top criminal law expert.
  30. Yahoo reported four top law firmed turned down requests to represent Trump citing his unwillingness to listen to advice, potential harm to recruiting and client relationships, and his history of not paying bills.
  31. Forbes reported that at a charity golf tournament run by Eric Trump for St. Jude Children’s Research, $1.2 million of expenses paid to the Trump Organization had no documented receipts.
  32. Additionally, $500k was re-donated to other charities (4 of whom subsequently held tournaments at Trump golf courses), and $100k was funneled though the Eric Trump Foundation to the Trump Organization.
  33. The NY Attorney General’s office said it will look into these payouts by Eric Trump’s Foundation.
  34. Flynn turned over more than 600 pages of documents to the Senate Intel Comm. Most are business records, but also some personal documents.
  35. The Intercept published a leaked top-secret NSA document which detailed the efforts of Russian hackers to target a voting-software supplier and more than 100 local election officials just prior to Election Day.
  36. The FBI arrested the leaker: 25 year-old Reality Winner, a federal contractor in Augusta, Georgia. The FBI was able to track the leak to Winner after The Intercept provided a copy to the NSA for comment.
  37. Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intel Comm said Russian attacks on our election were broader and targeted more states than reported in The Intercept.
  38. Sen Klobuchar asked that the Senate Rules Comm get a classified briefing on the Russian vote hacking attempts.
  39. Deutsche Bank ignored the House Democrats’ request for information on Trump’s accounts and possible ties to Russia.
  40. Thursday, Deutsche Bank blamed privacy laws for preventing the bank from disclosing the information requested.
  41. At a Senate Intel Comm hearing Wednesday, Coats, Rogers and Rosenstein largely refused to answer senators’ questions. One conservative journalist called it contempt of Congress.
  42. A pro-Trump PAC ran ads attacking Comey as a “showboat” and a failure on the day of his testimony.
  43. WAPO reported Coats told associates Trump asked him to intervene to get Comey to back off the FBI’s investigation of Flynn in its Russia probe.
  44. Sources said the ask was made at the end of a briefing at the WH, when Trump asked everyone to leave the room, except Coats and Pompeo.
  45. NYT reported the day after Trump asked Comey to end the investigation of Trump, Comey told Sessions not to leave him alone with Trump.
  46. ABC reported that Trump lashed out repeatedly at Sessions in private meetings about recusing himself from Russia, and that Sessions in turn suggested he could resign.
  47. After allegations Nunes was behind the House Intel subpoenas on “unmasking,” Nunes refused to confirm if he had stepped aside in the Russia probe.
  48. VOX reported that Comey had spoken to three senior FBI officials (Rybicki, Baker, McCabe), who could vouch for his story that Trump asked him to shut down the Flynn investigation.
  49. Trump’s approval hit a new low in a Quinnipiac poll: approve 34%, disapprove 57%. Of note, Trump is almost underwater with white men!
  50. A senior State Dept official will travel to Russia to help solve the “irritants” in our relationship.
  51. Putin threatened Sweden with a military response to “eliminate the threat” if the country joins NATO.
  52. Former DNI Clapper said “Watergate pales” compared to what the US is confronting now.
  53. Ahead of his testimony Thursday, on Wednesday the Sen Intel Comm released seven pages of Comey’s testimony.
  54. Highlights include: unusually frequent contacts with Trump, Trump requested a loyalty pledge, Comey documented all contact, Trump focused on Russian hooker report, and Trump asked him to let Flynn off.
  55. Trump’s pick for FBI director, Wray, works for a law firm that counts among it’s clients Russian-state oil companies Rosneft and Gazprom
  56. Comey testified in an open session Thursday. Major networks covered the testimony as over 19 million watched. Many in DC caught “Comey fever” and played hooky to watch at restaurants and pubs.
  57. Among the highlights: Comey said Trump lied about him and the FBI; that Sessions had no choice but to recuse himself; and that he was fired because of the Russia investigation.
  58. Comey said he took notes starting directly after the first meeting on January 6 because he was concerned Trump “might lie.” Comey did not feel the need to take notes with Obama or W Bush.
  59. On Trump’s threat of having taped his conversations, Comey said, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.” This spurred another round of demands by Democrats for Trump to produce the tapes, or admit he lied.
  60. Comey said Sessions seemed uncomfortable when Trump asked him to leave the room, “My sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn’t be leaving.” Comey said the same of Kushner.
  61. Comey said he leaked a memo about his meeting with Trump through a friend at Columbia to the NYT in hopes of getting a special counsel appointed.
  62. Comey testified he has given his memos to Mueller, and suggested the special counsel is investigating Trump for obstruction of justice.
  63. Comey said there was no doubt that Russia interfered in our election, saying, “they’re coming after America” and “they will be back.” He also noted this is an attack on our democracy, not a particular political party.
  64. Trump’s lawyer, Kasowitz responded, included a written statement where he misspelled President. He also got the timeline of the Comey memo wrong, and falsely accused Comey of leaking classified information.
  65. After the Comey testimony, Republicans mostly shied away from the camera this week, while Speaker Ryan offered a tepid defense for Trump’s actions: “he’s just new to this.
  66. Numerous Trump surrogates spent the days surrounding Comey’s testimony by trying to smear him as a liar and attention seeker.
  67. NBC reported that during the Senate Intel Comm’s closed hearing, senators learned about a third, undisclosed meeting between Sessions and Russia. This confirms an item in Week 29, which the DOJ denied.
  68. PM May suffered a major setback in the UK elections, as her Conservative Party lost the majority. Her party’s loss also could spell trouble for Brexit.
  69. Senate Intel Comm staff will interview Kushner next week. NBC reported that Congress wants to ask Kushner if he was seeking funding for his NYC tower.
  70. Pelosi told MSNBC that she is looking into why Trump picked Saudi Arabia as his first country to visit. Past presidents, going back to Reagan had visited close allies Canada or Mexico first.
  71. Pelosi also said she is looking into why while at the visit in Saudi Arabia, Trump had cleared the room.
  72. Trump and Tillerson had an embarrassing difference in foreign policy on Qatar as Tillerson said there should “be no further escalation by parties in the region,” and Trump sided with Saudi Arabia and others, slamming Qatar as a sponsor of terrorism.
  73. Trump’s attorney said he would file a complaint against Comey for leaking his memo to his friend at Columbia.
  74. According to a letter from the US Office of Special Counsel, Trump’s social media director Scavino violated the Hatch Act in April when he tweeted a call to oust a member of the House. He was issued a warning.
  75. In a Friday speech with the president of Romania in the Rose Garden, Trump switched course again and said he would support Article 5 of the NATO pact.
  76. Trump also called Comey a liar and a “leaker,” and that Comey’s testimony showed there was “no collusion, no obstruction.”
  77. Trump also said he would be willing to tell his side of story under oath, “100 percent,” but still would not confirm if the “tapes” really exist.
  78. Top Democratic donor Tom Steyer called for impeachment hearings over obstruction of justice.

Past weeks:
Week 1: https://goo.gl/KWlyOO Week 2: https://goo.gl/Pn7MFs
Week 3: https://goo.gl/CZwxsX Week 4: https://goo.gl/JhwuON
Week 5: https://goo.gl/TGM6x8 Week 6: https://goo.gl/uhyjxe
Week 7: https://goo.gl/bMdhTG Week 8: https://goo.gl/89MW8h
Week 9: https://goo.gl/ekv9wE Week 10: https://goo.gl/RETyH1
Week 11: https://goo.gl/6cs0tt Week 12: https://goo.gl/bRMx5o
Week 13: https://goo.gl/xzdjyY Week 14: https://goo.gl/1HwN4H
Week 15: https://goo.gl/JxVghS Week 16: https://goo.gl/sZpudG
Week 17: https://goo.gl/QymWmJ Week 18: https://goo.gl/Ri6E9N
Week 19: https://goo.gl/L6JOSV Week 20: https://goo.gl/PvlahQ
Week 21: https://goo.gl/XDjZFw Week 22: https://goo.gl/AQydgj
Week 23: https://goo.gl/FlWS69 Week 24: https://goo.gl/O2c7Th
Week 25:https://goo.gl/bJi31u Week 26: https://goo.gl/KhFQ7Y
Week 27: https://goo.gl/6Kgby0 Week 28: https://goo.gl/teZ4i4
Week 29: https://goo.gl/HKaBbO

Former FBI director James Comey testifies in front of the Senate intelligence Committee