Week 31: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
June 17, 2017
Another week for the history books: Trump is under investigation for obstruction of justice — a fact he confirmed through a tweet. With his increasingly erratic behavior, Trump has become his own worst enemy. While investigations by the House, Senate, FBI, federal investigators and special counsel into Trump-Russia steam ahead, Trump’s continued efforts to interfere with investigations may prove to be his ultimate undoing.
This week the tentacles of the Trump-Russia probe reached new members of the Trump regime, and several chose to lawyer up. Congress is singularly focused on Trump-Russia, save for McConnell’s odd, clandestine AHCA efforts.
- Trump canceled his UK visit, saying he didn’t want to come until the British public supports him. Large-scale protests were expected.
- Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ has been coined “the summer White House,” and similar to Mar-a-Lago, offers access — such as Trump crashing parties — as part of the marketing plan.
- Since taking office, Trump has been at one of his properties every 3.5 days, and at one of his golf courses every 6.2 days.
- On Sunday, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow, said Trump is considering firing Robert Mueller.
- Trump allies, including Newt Gingrich and Kellyanne Conway, attacked Mueller, claiming he was biased for Comey, and that members of his staff have donated to Democrats of liberal causes.
- Gingrich also accused Mueller of being part of the “deep state” plot to undermine Trump.
- Preet Bharara told ABC Sunday that Trump called him three times. Bharara was fired the day after he did not return the third call. Bharara noted Obama did not call him once while he served.
- Bharara also described his contact as “a little bit uncomfortable, and said reading about Trump’s contact with Comey “felt a little bit like deja vu.”
- Marc Kasowitz bragged that he was behind the firing of Bharara. According to a ProPublica source, Kasowitz told Trump, “This guy is going to get you.”
- In response to a FOIA request, the Secret Service said it has no audio or transcripts of any tapes made in the WH. Trump has still not verified if he lied about the existence of tapes, despite promises to do so soon.
- Hundreds of Kremlin critics were arrested amid anti-corruption protests, including opposition leader Navalny who was detained near his home.
- A Moscow court sentenced Navalny to 30 days in prison for staging an unsanctioned rally. The WH and State Dept were silent on all of this.
- Rep. Greg Gianforte was sentenced to a 180-day deferred sentence, and ordered to complete 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management counseling for assaulting reporter Ben Jacobs.
- The 9th Circuit upheld an injunction blocking part of Trump’s second Muslim ban. In their ruling, the judges cited Trump’s own tweets.
- Trump changed the expiration date of the Muslim ban in an effort to prevent the Supreme Court from declaring it moot.
- Monday, in a bizarre display in front of cameras, Trump’s cabinet members took turns praising him.
- A journalist noted: “ Putin televises the beginnings of his cabinet meetings.”
- Rep. Mike Quigley introduced the “COVFEFE Act,” to require the preservation of Trump’s tweets. The original covfefe tweet was deleted.
- Also of note, Trump has been actively blocking users on Twitter, despite using his Twitter account for policy and other announcements.
- Trump’s approval sunk again in a new AP/NORC poll, with his net favorability falling to -29 (approve 35, disapprove 64).
- The AP/NORC poll also found that 7 in 10 Americans are at least moderately concerned that Trump or his campaign associates had inappropriate ties to Russia.
- A survey of CEOs, business execs, government officials, and academics at the Yale CEO summit found that 50% gave Trump a “F” and 21% a “D” for his first 130 days in office.
- Bloomberg reported that Russian cyber hack of the US electoral system was far wider than reported — including 39 states in all. The attacks included incursions into voter databases and software system.
- Further, in Illinois, which became known as “Patient Zero” in the government probe, Russian hackers gained access to personal information on 15 million people, half of whom were active voters.
- Cindy McCain agreed to join the State Dept, after being aggressively courted by Trump.
- Dana Shell Smith, the US ambassador to Qatar, resigned.
- Trump’s EPA head, Scott Pruitt, skipped much of the G7 environmental summit.
- The Dept of Energy said it will close an office that works with other countries to develop clean energy technology.
- At a Senate Appropriations hearing, Tillerson said he would not be staffing the State Dept until next year.
- Trump’s Commerce Dept removed sexual orientation and gender identification from its anti-discrimination policies.
- Trump appointed loyalist Lynne Patton, who planned Eric’s wedding and golf tournaments at Trump courses, to run the office that oversees federal housing programs in New York. She has no housing experience.
- Office of Government Ethics director Shaub responded to a request from four Senate democrats, saying Steve Bannon had in fact violated WH ethics rules, noting Bannon’s ethics waiver was retroactive and neither dated nor signed.
- USA Today reported that in the last 12 months, 70% of Trump property buyers have been LLCs, compared to 4% two years ago.
- China approved nine Trump trademark requests which were previously rejected. Intellectual property lawyers suggested “special treatment.”
- AP reported a company that partners with both Trump and Kushner is a finalist for a $1.7 billion contract to build the new FBI headquarters.
- While Ivanka has made attempts to reset her public image, Guardian reported at her clothing factory in China workers complain of verbal abuse, impossible targets, and poverty pay.
- During Senate Judiciary Committee testimony, Rosenstein said he now agrees that Russia interfered in our election. Rosenstein had not taken a position during his confirmation hearings.
- On Tuesday, reporters at the Capitol were told they were no longer allowed to interview senators in the hallways, contrary to years of precedent.
- Karen Tumulty, a reporter for WAPO, was expelled from the Capitol for doing just that.
- Following a backlash, later that day Senate Republicans backed off from their restrictions on the media.
- DC police said they will charge 12 of Erdogan’s security guards for assaulting protesters outside the Turkish embassy.
- In response to a FOIA requests, a DC judge ordered the DOJ to produce Sessions’ clearance form, on which he was required to disclose contacts with Russians, within one month.
- The DC judge also ordered the DOJ and FBI to release any records of Priebus reaching out to the FBI to request they refute reports of communications between the Trump campaign and Russia.
- Tuesday, Sessions testified in front of the Senate Intel Committee, but largely refused to answer important questions. He did not mention any further contact with Russian officials, nor confirm the third meeting.
- McCain asked Sessions if he had “any contacts with any representative, including any American lobbyist or agent of any Russian company” at the hearing Tuesday. Sessions said, “I don’t believe so.”
- Guardian reported that Richard Burt, a lobbyist for Russia who helped craft a foreign policy speech for Trump, said he attended two dinners hosted by Sessions during the 2016 campaign.
- Burt also served on the advisory board of Alfa Capital Partners, a private equity fund in which Alfa Bank was an investor. Per Week 21, the FBI is looking in links between Alfa Bank and Trump during the campaign.
- Sen. Kamala Harris was interrupted by Sens. McCain and then Burr during her questioning of Sessions. Harris was also scolded by Burr for not being “courteous” in the hearing last week of Coats, Rogers and Rosenstein.
- By a 98–2 vote, the Senate passed a new Russian sanctions bill which would impose additional sanctions, and limit Trump’s ability to lift them.
- WIRED reported on Mueller assembling a “dream team” of lawyers, including attorneys who specialize in money laundering and organized crime, and a former prosecutor for the Watergate investigation.
- On Wednesday, a lone gunman, who had volunteered for Bernie Sanders, shot at Congressional Republicans who were practicing for a baseball game at a park in Alexandria, VA. Extreme rhetoric was blamed.
- The next night as the bipartisan game was being played, the Trump regime rescinded Obama’s protections for parents of ‘Dreamers,’ and reduced protections for ‘Dreamers.’
- In Ossining, NY, ICE detained a 19 year-old on the day of his prom and weeks before his high school graduation.
- On Wednesday, WAPO reported that Mueller is investigating Trump for obstruction of justice.
- WAPO also reported that Mueller will interview Coats, Rogers, and Ledgett as part of the investigation.
- In a poignant moment on primetime TV, Lester Holt said on NBC Nightly News, “NBC News has learned the president of the United States is now under criminal investigation.”
- Late Thursday, Rosenstein issued an odd statement prodding the media for “anonymous allegations” on Russia, and saying “Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true” anonymous sources.
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi predicted that Trump will “self-impeach.”
- On Friday in a tweet, Trump acknowledged he was under investigation, and described it as a “Witch Hunt.”
- Trump’s tweet also took a swipe at Rosenstein, raising questions of whether Trump would fire him. Doing so could make it possible for Trump to put in place a process to fire Mueller.
- Sen. Diane Feinstein said she is increasingly concerned that Trump will fire Mueller. In a strong statement she noted, “We’re a nation of laws that apply equally to everyone, a lesson the president would be wise to learn.”
- AP reported Trump advisors and confidant describe him as increasingly angry over the investigation and yelling at televisions carrying coverage.
- NYT reported that Trump’s private attorney, Kasowitz, has advised WH staffers not to hire private lawyers yet.
- Kasowitz was hit with ethics complaints in NY and DC over this advice.
- WAPO reported that Mueller is investigating Kushner for his finances and business dealings. This is in addition to previously reported investigations of Kushner’s meetings in December with Kislyak and Gorkov.
- WAPO also reported that the FBI and federal prosecutors are investigating the financial dealing of Flynn, Manafort, and Page.
- CNN reported the House Intel Committee is planning to call Brad Parscale, the digital director for Trump’s campaign, in their investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
- CNN also reported that Kushner is under federal investigation for his role in overseeing Trump’s data operations, and is expected to talk to Senate investigators about the campaign’s data operation.
- Pence hired big-name experienced, top dollar lawyer with Watergate experience to represent him in the Russian probe.
- Pence’s PAC held a fundraiser in Indianapolis Friday night. When Rachel Maddow’s staff asked whether funds go towards legal costs, the response was: “His legal fees will be paid by non-tax dollars.”
- Trump personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, hired counsel for the Russian probe. Cohen is under investigation by the special counsel, and will testify in front of the House Intel Committee on September 5.
- Michael Caputo, a Manafort ally who served as a senior communications adviser on Trump’s campaign, hired a lawyer. Caputo lived in Moscow, and in 2000 worked to improve Putin’s image in the US.
- Manafort and Page also hired counsel for the Russia probe.
- CNBC reported that the Trump regime is touting that they created coal jobs which might not actually exist.
- Putin offered Comey political asylum in Russia, continuing to publicly insert himself into US politics.
- BuzzFeed reported that 14 recent deaths in the UK appear tied to Russia.
- Frustrating House Republicans, Trump called their version of AHCA/Trumpcare — which he had celebrated in the Rose Garden — “mean,” and said he hoped the Senate would pass a better version.
- McConnell has been leading an oddly closed-door effort to pass AHCA in the Senate with no hearings or input. Open frustration was expressed by Democrats, some Republicans, and major patient advocacy groups.
- The OGE released Trump’s most recent financial disclosure Friday. Trump reported $315 million of loans, including $130 million from Deutsche Bank, the bank known for Russian ties which refused Democrats request for info.
- The 98 pages of financial disclosure showed a sharp rise in revenue at places Trump frequented including Mar-a-Lago and nearby golf courses.
- Trump also made $20 million at the newly opened Trump Hotel DC. Despite early promised to turn over payments from foreign government to the US Treasury, Trump is not tracking all payments.
- The Attorneys General for DC and Maryland sued Trump for breaching his constitutional oath by accepting millions in payments and benefits from foreign governments.
- Nearly 200 Congressional Democrats filed an emoluments lawsuit against Trump saying he has violated constitutional restrictions on taking gifts and benefits from foreign leaders.
- A Russian oil tycoon parked his giant yacht in front of the Statue of Liberty. The yacht was a gift from a Roman Abramovich, who in Week 20 was skiing in Aspen at the same time as Kushner and Ivanka.
- In an early sign of cracks from unfilled key roles in the executive branch, after the USS Fitzgerald collision, Trump was criticized for leaving the positions of US navy secretary and ambassador to Japan unfilled.
Week 1: https://goo.gl/KWlyOO Week 2: https://goo.gl/Pn7MFs
Week 3: https://goo.gl/CZwxsX Week 4: https://goo.gl/JhwuON
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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
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Week 27: https://goo.gl/6Kgby0 Week 28: https://goo.gl/teZ4i4
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