Week 73: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

April 7, 2018

This was an alarming week simply for all that happened in what should have been a quiet holiday week with Congress out of town. As in recent weeks, Trump is not seeking to work with the input of Congress, nor does the Republican Party seem to have a policy plan; rather Trump is governing unilaterally.

This week, after a Mar-a-Lago weekend where Fox News hosts told him he was viewed as softening on immigration, Trump spent the week creating a crisis to demonize and take actions against immigrants — using the shiny coin of “caravans” to energize his base around the hatred of others.

Trump is acting against the advice of his dwindling pool of senior staffers, and gyrating on issues like withdrawing troops from Syria and tariffs. But again, Trump is calling the shots and choosing the focus. As departures continue, Trump stayed with loyalist Scott Pruitt as scandals engulfed his EPA chief — a story which consumed a great portion of our media’s attention, despite a myriad of alarming developments, including the regime starting a database to track journalists and bloggers.

  1. Trump’s Department of Homeland Security will monitor 290,000 news sources around the world, and compile a database of journalists, editors, foreign correspondents, and bloggers to identify top “media influencers.
  2. WAPO reported that in reaction to Trump, tens of millions of Americans are joining protests and getting political. One in five Americans have protested or participated in rallies since the beginning of 2016.
  3. Of those participating, 19% said this was their first time marching or joining a political gathering. About one-third saying they intend to volunteer or work for a 2018 congressional campaign.
  4. The number of women who have filed to run for US House seats in November 2018 continued to swell. So far, a record 309 women have filed to run in both parties, breaking the record of 298 in 2012.
  5. In a letter addressed to the Republican chair and ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, more than 200 former diplomats expressing alarm over the slide in US leadership in the world.
  6. In what one former undersecretary described as a “cry from the heart,” diplomats urged senators to grill Mike Pompeo about his plans to reverse the corrosion of the State Department at his confirmation hearing.
  7. Politico reported Rex Tillerson spent $12 million while Secretary of State to hire an army of consultants, mostly from the consulting firm Deloitte, to make the State Department leaner and modernized to the standards.
  8. Congressional officials, who for months have been unsuccessfully trying to get information on Tillerson’s project, said it would be a subject in the Senate confirmation of Pompeo.
  9. Russian bots tweeted their support of Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who in Week 72 disparaged a Parkland student: #IstandwithLaura jumped 2,800 percent in 48 hours and was the top trending hashtag for the bots.
  10. On Easter Sunday, shortly after tweeting “HAPPY EASTER,” Trump sent a series of tweets venting on immigration and vowing “NO MORE DACA DEAL!”
  11. Trump blamed Mexico and Democrats, warning “Getting more dangerous. ‘Caravans’ coming,” and threatened Mexico, tweeting “They must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA.”
  12. On Monday, CNN reported that over the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, Trump heard from allies, some of whom work for Fox News including Jeanine Pirro and Sean Hannity, that his base believes he is softening on immigration.
  13. Trump’s tweet about “Caravans” was related to a segment aired extensively on Fox News about Central Americans trekking from the Mexico-Honduras border into the US. His tweet followed a segment Sunday on “Fox & Friends.
  14. On Monday, at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, Trump spoke to the crowd of roughly 30,000 parents and children on a variety of topics including bragging about his handling of the economy, “We’re going to make it bigger and better and stronger.”
  15. Trump also touted the military, “So just think of $700 billion, because that’s all going into our military this year,” and said of the DACA kids, “Democrats have really let them down. It’s a shame…”
  16. In a report titled, “Hate in the White House,” the Southern Poverty Law Center enumerated the many groups and individuals associated with hate groups and extremist ideology that are part of the Trump regime.
  17. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright penned an op-ed, “Will We Stop Trump Before It’s Too Late?” warning, “fascism poses a more serious threat now than at any time since the end of World War II.”
  18. On Monday, WAPO reported according to new DOJ directives, the Trump regime will pressure US immigration judges to process cases faster by imposing a quota system tied to their annual performance reviews.
  19. Immigration judges will be expected to clear at least 700 cases a year to receive a “satisfactory” performance rating. Their union called the quota an “unprecedented” step that risks undermining judicial independence.
  20. WAPO reported ICE ignored a directive from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis saying that noncitizen troops and veterans should not be deported, moving to deport Xilong Zhu, 27, who came from China in 2009 to attend US college.
  21. Zhu enlisted in the Army and was caught in an immigration dragnet created by the DHS. Zhu’s case comes as the Trump regime has pressured immigration judges to speed up deportation proceedings.
  22. The Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project reported a webpage that focused on breast cancer was scrubbed from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health. Information on insurance for low-income people was also removed.
  23. Bob Nonini, a Republican lieutenant governor candidate in Idaho, softened his stance Tuesday, a day after saying saying punishments for women who get an abortion should include the possibility of the death penalty.
  24. BuzzFeed reported that in at least 18 cases, Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education has failed to inform colleges that complaints were filed against them relating to campus sexual assault.
  25. DeVos’ department is still, almost a year later, working on an overhaul of Title IX regulations dealing with handling of sexual misconduct, but under the Clery Act, the department is required to track and disclose crimes reported on campus.
  26. Dayanna Volitich, a Florida middle school teacher, resigned after it was revealed that she is responsible for a white supremacist podcast and Twitter account full of racist and anti-Semitic posts.
  27. On Monday, the Trump regime said it will roll back an Obama-era car pollution standard in California. The EPA’s statement was notable in suggesting the regime would take on California’s authority to set its own rules.
  28. On Thursday, San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera sued Jeff Sessions, asking a federal court to overturn his December decision to revoke legal guidance designed to protect minorities, the indigent, and disabled.
  29. On Thursday, NBC News reported Puerto Rico’s Department of Education will close 283 of the island’s 1,100 schools this summer, following a sharp drop in enrollment amid the economic slump and departure of families.
  30. On Monday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Trump’s White House is considering using “rescission,” an obscure 1974 law that allows presidents to try to cancel spending approved by Congress, to slash from the budget bill approved last week.
  31. On Tuesday, DJ Gribbin, Trump’s top infrastructure aide, resigned after Trump acknowledged this week that his public works program wouldn’t happen before the midterm elections this fall.
  32. NPR reported Kentucky lawmakers signed a measure preventing federally-certified radiologists from judging X-rays in state black lung compensation claims, leaving it to physicians who typically work for the coal companies.
  33. Deadspin compiled a shocking video of news anchors at networks owned by Sinclair Broadcasting spliced together reciting propaganda-type scripts provided and required by the company.
  34. The script includes paradoxically warning viewers about “troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country,” and warns about “false news” and “fake stories.”
  35. Sinclair Broadcasting currently owns or operates 193 stations, and that number will rise to more than 230 if its proposed merger with Tribune Media goes through, which is highly likely under the Trump regime.
  36. Krish Vignarajah, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Maryland, is boycotting Sinclair-owned stations after Sinclair forced affiliate stations to read statements decrying “fake news” from other news stations.
  37. David Smith, executive chairman of Sinclair Broadcast, wrote in emails to New York that the entire print media “serves no real purpose,” adding it is reality-distorting tool of leftists that has “no credibility” and no relevance.
  38. On Wednesday, CNN reported a Sinclair producer in Nebraska resigned on March 26, citing corporate mandates for the past year and a half, and saying promos warning of “fake” news were just the final straw.
  39. A new study by researchers at Ohio State University found fake news played a significant role in the 2016 election: about 4% of Obama supporters were dissuaded from voting for Hillary by fake news.
  40. Among the top fake news stories that Obama supporters believed were that Hillary was in very poor health, Pope Francis endorsed Trump, and that Hillary approved weapons sales to Islamic jihadists, including ISIS.
  41. Jill McCabe, the wife of Andrew McCabe wrote in an op-ed, “it’s time to set the record straight,” saying Trump and others attacked her reputation with “such destructive lies,” in an “effort to vilify us to suit their needs.”
  42. ProPublica reported on a Trump project in Mumbai, where the Trump Organization had licensing deals, had its permits revoked after investigators found “significant irregularities.”
  43. In Week 67, Donald Jr. made an “unofficial” business trip to India to deliver a foreign policy speech on at an event with Indian PM Modi. ProPublica reported that while there, he tried to get the decision overruled.
  44. On Tuesday, a lawsuit filed by nonprofit watchdog group Democracy Forward claims the Trump regime has failed to provide information on Jared Kushner’s meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last May in Riyadh.
  45. On Thursday, Daily Mail reported Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman bragged Kushner handed him US classified intelligence that the crown prince used as part of a purge of ‘corrupt’ princes and businessmen.
  46. NYT reported David Pecker, owner of the National Enquirer, took Kacy Grine, a French businessman who advises one of Saudi Arabia’s richest men and sometimes Crown Prince MBS, to meet with Trump in the Oval Office and then to briefly meet with Kushner.
  47. The New Yorker reported on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts to remake the Middle East, and his connections to Jared Kushner — “They became close very fast,” according to a former US official who see MBS periodically.
  48. New Yorker also reported a financial analyst present at a meeting between Charles Kushner and Qataris, said Kushner’s father pitched a huge renovation of 666 Fifth Avenue, “He asked for just under a billion dollars.”
  49. Charles Kushner has maintained he attended the meeting only out of politeness and did not talk business. The financial analyst also said Charles Kushner hosted a follow-up meeting the next day at 666 Fifth Avenue.
  50. The New Yorker also reported SCL Group, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, had been retained by the Emirati government. In Week 30, Trump sided with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in a blockade of Qatar. In Week 31, the US ambassador to Qatar resigned.
  51. On Friday, Bloomberg reported an investment group that includes Kushner Cos, will receive $600 million in financing from JPMorgan Chase to build a residential tower in Brooklyn. A source said approval of the deal took months as it was run up the chain of command at JPMorgan.
  52. On Sunday, China announced its plan to counter Trump’s new tariffs on steel and aluminum, levying duties that will take effect Monday on more than 128 US goods exported to the country.
  53. On Monday, Trump attacked Amazon for the fourth time this week tweeting, “Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon,” adding, “not a level playing field!”
  54. On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as much as 759 points, closing down more 450 points over fears of trade wars with China and Mexico (NAFTA). Amazon was another down day, falling 5.2%.
  55. Amazon is the 17th company Trump has attacked since the election, often driving down their stock price. According to historians, unlike past leaders, Trump’s attacks are not about policy, but rather to “discredit his perceived opponents.”
  56. The stock market is having its worst second quarter since the Great Depression due to trade tariffs imposed by China and Trump’s public lashing of Amazon.
  57. On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported China is targeting their tariffs at American farmers in swing-states like Ohio and Iowa in a way that could impact the midterm elections.
  58. On Wednesday, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow sought to tamp down fears of a trade war with China, saying Trump’s tariffs “are all proposals” right now, adding “we’re putting it out for comment.”
  59. On Thursday, Trump said he instructed the US Trade Representative to consider an additional $100 billion of tariffs on Chinese products. The representative expressed support for the move, calling Trump’s response “appropriate.”
  60. On Friday, Kudlow again cautioned “this is not a trade war,” adding no new duties have been implemented, and talks with China will continue for several months before anything is done.
  61. Clothing is exempted from the tariffs providing a big break to American clothing companies that hold trademarks in China, including Ivanka’s clothing companies which manufacture in China.
  62. On Friday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a CNBC interview that Amazon’s tax-collecting doesn’t make sense, calling it “unfair” and saying infrastructure is “very, very important for the states’ economies.”
  63. On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged another 500 points on fears of Trump’s trade war with China, and possibly Mexico. Also, job adds for March came in at 103,000, well below the 193,000 expected.
  64. On Sunday, Trump’s lawyers filed an appeal, asking a New York state appeals court to throw out, or freeze a defamation lawsuit by Summer Zervos while Trump is in office.
  65. On Monday Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen filed papers in a federal court in Los Angeles asking that their case with Stephanie Clifford be heard by a private arbitrator in lieu of a jury.
  66. On Thursday, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he didn’t know Cohen paid Stephanie Clifford $130,000 days before the election. This is his first public response to questions about the payment.
  67. Clifford’s lawyer said Trump’s statement would be shown to be untruthful if he is deposed. The statement also raises questions of whether the hush agreement is valid, given one party did not know about it.
  68. Trump’s comments also have implications for the complaint filed by Common Cause with the FEC and DOJ, claiming the argued that the payment was made to influence the election but not publicly disclosed.
  69. On Monday, Egypt’s state news agency MENA reported Trump called Egypt’s President al-Sisi to express his “sincere congratulations” on his re-election victory. Al-Sisi won 97% of the vote.
  70. On Monday, WSJ reported Mueller is investigating an August 4, 2016 email by Roger Stone in which he claimed he had met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: “I dined with Julian Assange last night.”
  71. The email was addressed to Trump adviser Sam Nunberg. The next day, Stone praised Assange on Twitter. Stone claims the email was a joke, and that he never had contact with Assange in 2016.
  72. On Wednesday, CNN reported the day Stone allegedly sent the email to Assange, he appeared on the InfoWars radio show and predicted “devastating” upcoming disclosures about the Clinton Foundation.
  73. On Monday, Yuri Ushakov, the Kremlin foreign policy adviser said in Moscow that during Trump’s March 20 call with Putin, Trump proposed the two meet at the White House in the near future, and that Putin would like to take him up on the suggestion.
  74. On Monday, press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed that a White House meeting was discussed on the call, but played down the prospect, saying, “We have nothing further to add at this time.”
  75. A visit would be a significant gesture to Russia: Putin has not been invited to visit the White House since 2005. Amid expelling diplomats, Trump has yet to directly criticize Putin, and Russian state-owned news outlets have not criticized Trump directly.
  76. On Tuesday, the State Department told CNN the US and Russia can replace diplomats in each other’s countries who were expelled last week, describing the process as standard practice.
  77. On Tuesday, the Mueller probe notched its first prison sentence: attorney Alex van der Zwaan was sentenced to 30 days in prison, a $20,000 fine, and two months of supervised release.
  78. On Tuesday, Mueller’s team disclosed a memo from Rod Rosenstein in response to Paul Manafort’s motion to dismiss charges, contending Mueller was authorized to investigate only matters arising from the main subject of the investigation.
  79. The Rosenstein August 2017 memo was written to clarify his initial public order, and says Mueller was tasked with examining allegations that Manafort, in particular, committed a crime by “colluding with Russian government officials.”
  80. After the memo was revealed, Rosenstein became the subject of attacks by Fox News pundits, including Andrew Napolitano, and Joe DiGenova who told Sean Hannity that Rosenstein’s conduct “has been a disgrace legally and every other way.”
  81. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Mueller’s team told Trump lawyers in early March that Mueller is continuing to investigate Trump, but views him as a subject of his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, not a criminal target as of now.
  82. The special counsel is preparing a report about the Trump’s actions while in office and potential obstruction of justice. Mueller reiterated the need to interview Trump to complete his probe.
  83. On Wednesday, Facebook acknowledged that Cambridge Analytica had improperly gathered detailed information on 87 million people, 71 million of whom were Americans.
  84. The company said overall, “malicious actors” took advantage of search tools on its platform — now disabled — to discover the identities and collect information on most of its 2 billion users worldwide. The scam started on the so-called “Dark Web” where criminals posted stolen information.
  85. Facebook suspended Canadian tech firm AggregateIQ from its platform. AggregateIQ has been linked with Cambridge Analytica, and is under investigation for whether it broke privacy laws or used unauthorized data.
  86. Open Secrets reported that in the final weeks leading up the 2016 election, Robert Mercer donated to Secure America Now, a group that used Facebook and Google to target anti-Muslim ads at swing voters.
  87. On Wednesday, CNN reported Mueller is questioning Russian oligarchs who travel into the US. At least one oligarch was stopped and his electronic devices searched when his private jet landed at a New York area airport.
  88. At least two other oligarchs have been questioned as well, all relating to whether wealthy Russians illegally funneled cash donations directly or indirectly into Trump’s presidential campaign and inauguration.
  89. On Thursday, McClatchy reported Mueller’s team questioned an associate of the Trump Organization who was involved in overseas deals with Trump. Investigators showed up at his home with subpoenas compelling electronic records and sworn testimony,
  90. Investigators were particularly interested in the associate’s interactions with Cohen, who has been involved with Trump Organization business deals in Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Russia.
  91. On Friday, the Treasury Department imposed major sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs and the 12 companies they own, as well as 17 senior government officials, a state-owned weapons trading company and its subsidiary, a Russian bank.
  92. Included in the sanction list are Putin’s son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov, Oleg Deripaska, who once had close ties to Manafort, oil executive Igor Rotenberg, and Aleksandr Torshin, who courted NRA leaders and Trump.
  93. Trump made no public comment, nor did he send any tweets about the Russian sanctions.
  94. On Friday, CNN reported Trump has begun informal preparation for a possible interview with Mueller’s team, a sign his legal team is considering allowing an interview, even though they have not formally agreed to it yet.
  95. On Friday, CNN reported Joseph Schmitz, a Trump adviser, played a key role in trying to get the FBI and other government agencies to review materials from the dark web in the summer of 2016, which he wrongly thought were Hillary’s deleted emails.
  96. On Monday, CNN reported the US military has been working on plans to send dozens of additional US troops to northern Syria. Trump’s remarks on possibly withdrawing all troops have puzzled many at the Pentagon.
  97. CNN reported in a meeting with his national security team on Tuesday, Trump became irritated when his top military leaders warned him of the risks of withdrawing from Syria, saying it would be unwise.
  98. On Tuesday, Trump escalated his anti-immigrant rhetoric, floating the idea of sending the military to the US-Mexico border. Trump said at a news conference he would soon meet with Mattis to discuss having the military deployed.
  99. WAPO reported Trump was briefed on the possibility of sending troops by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and that White House aides loved the idea, including senior adviser Stephen Miller who has been involved in the planning.
  100. On Tuesday, Trump threatened to cut off foreign aid to Honduras as he continued to complain about the caravan of roughly 1,000 migrants, primarily from Honduras, traveling through Mexico.
  101. Trump also threatened Mexico with NAFTA: “Cash cow NAFTA is in play, as is foreign aid to Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen.” Mexico had taken steps late Monday to break up the caravan.
  102. On Tuesday, the Mexican ambassador to the US warned Trump’s call for the US military to guard the US-Mexico border is an unwelcome one, saying the Mexican government is still trying to clarify what Trump meant. The US ambassador to Mexico, Roberta Jacobson, resigned in Week 68.
  103. On Wednesday, Trump signed a proclamation directing the national guard to be deployed to the US-Mexico border. The strategy will require the cooperation of border-state governors who oversee their respective National Guard operations.
  104. Although George W. Bush and Obama had also deployed National Guard personnel, Trump’s proclamation comes at a time when the number of people crossing illegally is at its lowest level since 1971, although there was an uptick in March.
  105. Later Tuesday, Trump hosted the leaders of three Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — who are concerned about Russian aggression. Trump told the leaders of himself, “Nobody has been tougher on Russia”
  106. At a joint press conference following the meeting, Trump called US immigration laws “horrible” and “very unsafe,” saying he is calling on Congress to “get their act together” to change them, adding “we don’t have laws. We have catch and release.”
  107. Trump encouraged Latvian President Vējonis to pick a Baltic, not US, reporter because they are “real news, not fake news.”
  108. Also at the joint news conference, Trump reiterated his intent to pull US troops out of Syria, “I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation.”
  109. As Trump held the joint press conference with heads of three Baltic states, a White House reporter noted it has been 411 days since Trump held a solo news conference, his only. This is far fewer than his predecessors.
  110. Later Tuesday, in his last public remarks as Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster denounced Russia for its increased aggression around the world, and declared the US has “failed to impose sufficient costs.”
  111. The three Baltic leaders were present for his remarks, and McMaster lauded their to counter Russia. McMaster said, “Russia has used old and new forms of aggression to undermine our open societies and the foundations of international peace and stability.”
  112. On Wednesday, the day after Trump’s joint news conference, Russia tested missiles in the Baltic Sea, just outside of NATO territorial waters.
  113. On Thursday, at a speech in West Virginia to talk about the new tax law, Trump read the first lines of the speech, then threw the pieces of paper it was written on into the air, and instead preceded to give a rambling speech.
  114. Trump alleged without evidence that people voted multiple times, “in many places, like California, the same person votes many times,” adding, “Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people.”
  115. Politifact tweeted a fact-check story from November 18, 2016, which found that Trump and far-right media’s claims of three millions illegal votes was false.
  116. Trump also ranted about immigration policies like catch-and-release and family based migration, and repeated a claim from his campaign kickoff speech that immigrant women “are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before.”
  117. It was unclear what Trump was referring to, although this week he has been frequently mentioning caravans. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Trump was referring to “smugglers in general.”
  118. On Wednesday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown said in a series of tweets she will refuse to send her state’s National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border, adding “I’m deeply troubled by Trump’s plan to militarize our border.”
  119. On Friday, Arizona and Texas were poised to send hundreds of National Guard personnel to the US-Mexico border. Trump’s Wednesday memorandum does not specify how long or in what capacity the troops will serve.
  120. Late Friday, Secretary Mattis approved using Defense Department money to pay for as many as 4,000 National Guard personnel to perform border security missions, meaning the federal government will foot the bill.
  121. Late Friday, Trump signed a memo ending a policy known as “catch-and-release,” under which immigrants without proper paperwork are released from detention while awaiting a court hearing on their status.
  122. As part of Trump’s memo, he asks Mattis to come up with a list of military facilities that could be used to detain illegal immigrants, and Sessions and Nielsen to identify any other resources or steps that may be needed.
  123. On Tuesday, Trump bragged about hitting 50% approval at the “honest polling” Rasmussen, saying it was higher than “Cheatin’ Obama” with the same pollster at the same point in office.
  124. Former White House communications director Jen Psaki told CNN Trump’s use of “Cheatin’ Obama” may have “racial undertones,” referring to Trump’s birther claims that Obama “shouldn’t have been president.”
  125. On Tuesday, Judge Rebecca Dallet won a bitter race for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, 56–44. Democrats in Wisconsin had not won an open Supreme Court seat election since 1995.
  126. On Wednesday, Judith Giuliani filed a contested divorce against Rudy Giuliani in Manhattan Supreme Court. This follows the divorce filings in recent weeks by the wives of Donald Jr., and White House aide Dan Scavino.
  127. Juli Briskman, the Virginia cyclist who was fired after flipping off Trump, sued her former employer Akima, saying “I believe that Americans should not be forced to choose between their principles and their paychecks.”
  128. In a statement Friday, the White House announced Trump will again skip the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, sending press secretary Sanders instead.
  129. On Friday, NPR reported evangelical leaders are organizing a sit-down with Trump on June 19 at the Trump International Hotel DC, over concern his sex-scandals and divisive rhetoric could suppress evangelical turnout in November.
  130. On Thursday, AP reported Mick Mulvaney gave big pay raises to the deputies he has brought in to help him run the bureau, even as he has requested an budget of zero funding for the agency in Week 62.
  131. Mulvaney has hired eight appointees, paying four $259,500 a year and one $239,595 — more than members of Congress and cabinet secretaries. The top salary under the general federal government pay scale is $134,776.
  132. On Thursday, Simon Edelman filed a complaint with the US Office of Special Counsel, the government agency that protects federal employees, including whistle-blowers from reprisals.
  133. In Week 62, Edelman was fired after leaking a photo of Secretary Rick Perry embracing Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy. Edelman’s lawyer said he leaked a photo for the “reasonable belief that he was reporting evidence of criminal corruption, obstruction of justice, and ethics violations.”
  134. ABC News reported the Environmental Protection Agency paid $2,460 to a Capitol Hill condo association after EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s security detail broke down the door after being unable to reach him by phone on a weekday afternoon. He had been napping.
  135. On Tuesday, The Atlantic reported after the White House denied his request to give two aides large raises, Pruitt used a hiring loophole within the Safe Drinking Water Act to grant the raises.
  136. Despite an encouraging phone call Trump gave Pruitt on Monday, White House insiders indicated Trump and the regime are displeased with the ethical issues Pruitt has found himself embroiled in.
  137. On Monday, WAPO reported last year Pruitt considered leasing a private jet on a month-to-month basis to accommodate his travel needs. The estimated cost came in at $100,000 a month.
  138. On Monday, NYT reported that in March 2017, the EPA signed off on a Canadian energy company’s pipeline-expansion plan, a client of Williams & Jensen, whose owner is renting Pruitt his condominium for $50 a day.
  139. On Monday, Daily Beast reported that the same condominium was used to host at least three GOP fundraisers during the time Pruitt was renting; although Pruitt was not invited or present during the events.
  140. On Monday, amid calls for Pruitt to resign, Trump called his embattled EPA chief to tell Pruitt to “keep your head up” and “keep fighting,” because the White House has “got your back.”
  141. On Thursday, the EPA’s top ethics watchdog Kevin Minoli clarified his earlier statement that Pruitt’s rental arrangement had not broken the federal gift rule, saying at that time, he didn’t have all the facts.
  142. Minoli’s clarification came after being sent a series of questions by former head of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub. Minoli will examine the use of a second room by Pruitt’s daughter as a gift, and whether Pruitt violated the impartiality rule by meeting with people from the landlord’s lobbying firm.
  143. On Thursday, Samantha Dravis, the associate administrator of the EPA’s office of policy, resigned. Dravis formerly worked as Pruitt’s policy director and general counsel at the Republican Attorneys General Association.
  144. On Thursday, CNN reported that Trump floated the idea of replacing Sessions with Pruitt as recently as this week, despite the brewing scandals.
  145. On Thursday, on a flight returning from a speech in West Virginia, Trump defended Pruitt to the media, saying he is doing “a fantastic job,” and that Pruitt is a “fantastic person.”
  146. On Thursday, CBS News reported Pruitt wanted to use his vehicle’s lights and sirens to get to his official appointment. When his security detail told him sirens could be used only in emergencies, the agent, a 16-year veteran was removed from his detail.
  147. Despite Pruitt claiming that the lobbying firm run the condominium owner has no business before the EPA, Daily Beast reported, based on lobbying disclosure forms and publicly-listed EPA records, there is a long list of companies that do.
  148. On Thursday, NYT reported at least five officials at the EPA, four of them high ranking and one a Trump appointee, were reassigned or demoted after raising concerns about Pruitt’s spending and management of the agency.
  149. On Thursday, Politico reported Pruitt fell behind on his $50-a-night payments for the condominium, forcing his lobbyist landlord to pester him for payment.
  150. On Friday, Politico reported that the couple who owned the condominium had originally agreed to allow Pruitt to rent it for six weeks until he got settled, but when he wouldn’t leave, they changed the locks.
  151. On Friday, Trump tweeting defending Pruitt, saying he is doing a “great job but is TOTALLY under siege,” and decrying reporting that Pruitt may replace Sessions as attorney general by the “honest and corrupt” media.
  152. On Friday, WSJ reported, according to a White House aide, John Kelly urged Trump last week that Pruitt should step down, citing negative reports about Pruitt’s spending habits and management style.
  153. On Friday, AP reported that Pruitt’s total security costs approach $3 million, including travel expense such as flying first-class to avoid unpleasant interactions, security overtime, and a soundproof phone booth in his office.
  154. On Friday, in a letter, 64 Democrats in the US House urged Trump to call on Pruitt to resign. Three Republicans in the House have also called on Pruitt to resign.
  155. On Friday, Trump met with Pruitt to discuss the controversies. Conservative groups are rallying behind Pruitt, warning Trump getting someone as dogged as Pruitt though the Senate would be impossible.
  156. On Saturday, Rep. Trey Gowdy, chair of the House Oversight Committee, said he would probe the actions of Pruitt, saying “I don’t have a lot of patience for that kind of stuff.”

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Posters mocking EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s $50 per night housing in Washington have been posted around Capitol Hill.
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