Week 149: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

September 21, 2019

This week, the contents of a whistleblower complaint were reported to be a conversation between Trump and the new Ukrainian president, in which Trump seemed to suggest withholding financial and military support from Ukraine if President Volodymyr Zelensky did not order an investigation of Trump’s 2020 political foe. Trump later in the week openly admitted to having made the request, and called it “appropriate,” instead blaming the “partisan” whistleblower and the media. Republicans stood behind Trump.

This week, the Trump White House continued to stonewall Congressional investigations, preventing two former aides from testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, and severely limiting what former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski could say. House Democrats continued to be disjointed on holding a formal impeachment inquiry, as Trump continued to flex and test his executive powers.

Amid continued worldwide protests, Russian President Vladimir Putin loosened his grip on power in city council election, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fell short on securing a governing coalition. Trump sent additional troops to the Middle East at the request of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates after Iran allegedly bombed a Saudi oil field — and did so unilaterally, without involving Congress.

  1. On Sunday, after an NYT op-ed describing previously unreported allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Trump defended Kavanaugh in a series of tweets.
  2. Trump tweeted Kavanaugh should “start suing people for libel” or “the Justice Department should come to his rescue,” adding, “The lies being told about him are unbelievable. False Accusations without recrimination.”
  3. Trump also tweeted “the Radical Left Democrats and their Partner, the LameStream Media” are after Kavanaugh, “an innocent man who has been treated HORRIBLY,” adding, “they want to scare him into turning Liberal!”
  4. On Monday, NYT issued a correction to the op-ed, which precedes a book coming out on Kavanaugh, saying friends of the alleged victim say she does not recall the incident during college.
  5. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT THESE HORRIBLE PEOPLE WILL DO OR SAY. They are looking to destroy, and influence his opinions,” adding, “They should be sued!”
  6. On Monday, at least five Democrats running for president called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment, including some calling him out for lying under oath during his Senate confirmation hearings.
  7. On Monday, WBUR reported Rep. Ayanna Pressley plans to introduce a resolution to begin an impeachment inquiry against Kavanaugh, saying in a statement, “I believe Christine Blasey Ford. I believe Deborah Ramirez.”
  8. Later Sunday, Trump tweeted the U.S. has “reason to believe that we know” who is responsible for an attack on a Saudi oil field, referring to Iran, adding, we are “locked and loaded depending on verification.”
  9. Trump also lashed out at the media, saying, “The Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, “No Conditions.” That is an incorrect statement (as usual!).” Trump said this on June 23 on “Meet the Press.”
  10. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “Because we have done so well with Energy over the last few years (thank you, Mr. President!),” adding, “We don’t need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas…but will help our Allies!”
  11. On Monday, Mark Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, told reporters Trump’s reference may not refer to military action, saying, “I think that locked and loaded is a broad term.”
  12. On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence echoed Trump at a speech at the Heritage Foundation, saying, “We’re locked and loaded and we’re ready to defend the interests of our allies.”
  13. On Monday, WSJ reported Saudi officials have not provided sufficient evidence to U.S. intelligence to conclude Iran launched the attack. Trump told reporters of his Sunday threat, “I don’t want war with anybody.”
  14. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of conducting the strike on Saudi Arabia’s oil fields, and called it an “act of war.” Pompeo met with Saudi officials about forming a coalition.
  15. After meeting with Saudi Crown Prince MBS, Pompeo told reporters the attack “also endangered the lives of all the American citizens living and working in Saudi Arabia, as well as the world’s energy supply in general.”
  16. When asked about a possible military strike on Wednesday, Trump told reporters, “There are many options. There’s the ultimate option and there are options a lot less than that.”
  17. On Wednesday, former national security advisor John Bolton criticized Trump, saying inviting the Taliban to Camp David was “disrespectful” and negotiations with North Korea were “doomed to failure.”
  18. Shortly after, as he announced his new NSA, hostage negotiator Robert O’Brien, Trump told reporters, “John was not able to work with anybody, and a lot of people disagreed with his ideas.”
  19. On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to fall short of a governing majority in Israel’s election based on exit polling, leaving doubt he would remain in office after a decade in power.
  20. If he falls short, Netanyahu will likely face court and possible jail time over allegations of corruption. If he had won the election, Netanyahu hoped to pass legislation that would have prevented him from being indicted.
  21. On Tuesday, Netanyahu blamed media biased coverage of his campaign for his possible loss, and said he would not concede. By week’s end, neither Netanyahu or his rival had enough allies to form a governing coalition.
  22. On Thursday, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Israeli officials “played” Trump on a couple of occasions, adding, “We later exposed it to the president so he understood, ‘You’ve been played.’”
  23. In Moscow’s election, voters sharply reduced Russian President Vladimir Putin’s party representation in the city legislature, in the biggest electoral shock in the city since the 1990 city council election.
  24. On Monday, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer appeared on the television show “Dancing With the Stars,” dressed in a skintight, fluorescent lime green ruffled shirt and white slacks.
  25. Traditionally, holding the position of press secretary is a golden ticket to future respectability and job opportunities. Spicer has expressed some regret for repeatedly telling falsehoods while in the position.
  26. Spicer also described Trump in glowing terms in his recent book. Trump returned the favor ahead of the DWTS appearance, tweeting, “He will do great.” Spicer’s pay for the show is determined by how long he stays on.
  27. On Monday, Trump attacked Democrats, tweeting, “They failed on the Mueller Report….they failed on everything else,” adding, so now they are “trying to build a case that I enrich myself by being President.”
  28. Trump also tweeted, “Good idea, except I will, and have always expected to, lose BILLIONS of DOLLARS..for the privilege of being your President,” adding, “and doing the best job that has been done in many decades.”
  29. Trump also tweeted, “I am far beyond somebody paying for a hotel room for the evening,” adding, “Obama Netflix?” — seeming to suggest Obama’s Netflix deal after leaving office should come under scrutiny.
  30. On Monday, Politico reported some Air Force crews stayed at Trump’s Turnberry resort for multiple day visits. High ranking officers staying at the resort also got a VIP pin and Scottish shortbread.
  31. On Monday, Politico reported several Obama-era national security leaders have agreed to testify on behalf of former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe over allegations that he misled officials about leaks to the media.
  32. On Monday, the House Oversight Committee launched an investigation into Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to determine whether she used her role in the Trump regime to benefit herself and her family.
  33. A spokesperson for Chao dismissed a letter from the committee, saying “media attacks” on her and her family “are stale and only attempt to undermine her long career of public service.”
  34. On Monday, AP reported according to a letter from the Kentucky state Democratic Party to the State Board of Elections, more than 150,000 registered Kentucky voters were improperly place on an “inactive list.”
  35. The letter called on the board to immediately reinstate the voters in time for the November election, saying the move caused “immediate and irreparable harm to the Kentucky Democratic Party.”
  36. On Monday, Trump held a campaign rally in New Mexico, saying, “Nobody loves the Hispanics more,” and “we love our Hispanics, get out and vote,” as he sought to win a state he lost in 2016.
  37. Trump attacked CNN contributor Steve Cortes, who was in the crowd, saying, “He happens to be Hispanic, but I never quite figured it out because he looks more like a WASP than I do.”
  38. Trump also asked Cortes from the stage, “Who do you like more, the country or the Hispanics?” then answered, “I may have to go for the Hispanics, to be honest with you. We got a lot of Hispanics.”
  39. Trump also insinuated Hispanics are “going to love” his wall, suggesting, without evidence, that they “understand it better than other people, but at the whole center of this crisis is the drugs that are pouring in.”
  40. On Wednesday, in an op-ed, Abel Guerra, who worked in the George W. Bush administration and is a Republican, wrote “I’m Latino,” adding, “I’m asking you to vote Trump out.”
  41. Guerra wrote, “As Hispanics, we need to get more voters registered and to the polls,” adding, “a vote against Trump is a stand for human freedom and a future where America is again known for its ideals and not ignorance.”
  42. On Wednesday, Rep. Ilhan Omar urged Twitter to take down a tweet by Trump which falsely claimed she was out dancing on the anniversary of 9/11, saying he has “violated their community standards.”
  43. The false tweet was made by conservative actor and comedian Terrence Williams. Trump added as a caption, “IIhan Omar, a member of AOC Plus 3, will win us the Great State of Minnesota. The new face of the Democrat Party!”
  44. On Wednesday, HuffPost reported that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s “2019 Back-to-School tour” includes visits to schools that ban transgender students and staff.
  45. On Thursday, WAPO reported HUD Secretary Ben Carson made dismissive comments about transgender people at HUD’s San Francisco office, citing concern “big, hairy men” will try to infiltrate women’s homeless shelters.
  46. According to government officials, Carson has repeatedly mocked transgender people at internal meetings in Washington. One official said, “His overall tone is dismissive and joking about these people.”
  47. On Saturday, NYT reported the body of Bee Love Slater, 23, a black transgender woman, was found burned beyond recognition in Florida. Slater was the 18th transgender person killed in the U.S. so far in 2019.
  48. On Monday, VICE reported Trump’s new asylum policies, known as “Migrant Protection Protocols,” have been responsible for sending 42,000 asylum seekers back to Mexico in recent months.
  49. In the case of a man named David, five hours after ICE marched him and his family across the border to Mexico, cartel members surrounded him and others at a bus stop and abducted them into a truck.
  50. David told VICE the kidnappers took his few belongings, including Customs and Border Protection paperwork that he and his family needed to attend their immigration court hearing in December.
  51. On Thursday, the LA Times reported CBP is starting to screen migrant families for “credible fear” to determine whether they qualify for U.S. protection, rather than highly trained asylum officers.
  52. CBP agents began training to do screenings, the first step in the interview process, in April, and have now been deployed to family detention facilities where they will decide for the first time whether there is a credible fear.
  53. CBP has provided few details about the training, but sources who spoke to the Times anonymously for fear of retaliation said the goal of the Trump regime is to make it more difficult for those seeking asylum.
  54. On Thursday, acting Homeland Security Department Secretary Kevin McAleenan walked back a decision to temporarily halt deportation of immigrants facing serious medical conditions known as “deferred action.”
  55. In a statement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said requests will be considered “on a discretionary, case-by-case basis, except as otherwise required by an applicable statute, regulation, or court order.”
  56. House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings said his committee would continue to investigate, adding, “It should not take an emergency hearing by Congress…to force the Trump administration to do the right thing.”
  57. On Thursday, AP reported in an August 29 letter from the Education Department, the Trump regime threatened to cut funding for a Middle East studies program run by the University of North Carolina and Duke University.
  58. The regime claimed the schools are misusing a $235,000 grant to unfairly promote “the positive aspects of Islam” but not Christianity or Judaism, and gave the schools until September 22 to revise it or lose funding.
  59. On Thursday, Mother Jones reported anti-Semitic trolls are using a popular app called Telegram, after being kicked off of 4chan, to compile a list of Jewish people who are critical of white nationalism.
  60. On Friday, acting DHS Sec. McAleenan unveiled the department’s new counterterrorism strategy, which for the first time placed an emphasis on countering the threat of white nationalism within the U.S.
  61. On Monday, NYT reported the White House ordered former Trump aides Rob Porter and Rick Dearborn not to appear before the House Judiciary Committee, saying in a letter they were “absolutely immune.”
  62. The White House cleared a third witness, Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, to testify publicly before the committee on Tuesday, and answer limited questions.
  63. In a second letter to the committee later Monday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone said Lewandowski could discuss his work on the campaign and matters in the Mueller report, but nothing else.
  64. House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler called the White House seeking to limit Lewandowski’s testimony “a shocking and dangerous assertion of executive privilege and absolute immunity.”
  65. Democrats are challenging the notion of congressional subpoena immunity in a court case with Don McGahn, but it could take months, and close the window on impeachment ahead of the 2020 election.
  66. On Tuesday, Lewandowski testified in five-hour public hearings before the House Judiciary Committee. His seat was flanked by two empty seats which were meant for Rob Porter and Rick Dearborn.
  67. Lewandowski, who is known to be a devoted friend and supporter of Trump, and who is running for the Senate seat in New Hampshire in 2020, followed White House orders in limiting his testimony.
  68. Lewandowski was combative towards Democrats, and refused to answer questions about encounters with Trump beyond the Mueller report. He defended Trump, saying “I wasn’t asked to do anything illegal” by Trump.
  69. When pressed, Lewandowski repeatedly said, “The White House has directed that I not disclose the substance of any discussion with the president or his advisers to protect executive branch confidentiality.”
  70. Shortly after Lewandowski gave his opening remarks, Trump showed his appreciation, tweeting, “Such a beautiful Opening Statement by Corey Lewandowski! Thank you Corey! @CLewandowski”
  71. In fiery exchanges, Rep. David Cicilline said, “you’re not going to stonewall me,” and Chair Nadler called the “assertion of executive privilege and absolute immunity” a “cover-up, plain and simple.”
  72. When Lewandowski said the White House instructed him not to answer questions, Nadler cited “Article 3 of Nixon’s impeachment” was based on obstruction, ignoring subpoenas, and “pleading imaginary privileges.”
  73. Chair Nadler said he is considering holding Lewandowski in contempt, saying, “I’ve been asked several times today whether the committee will hold you in contempt. It is certainly under consideration.”
  74. NBC News reported according to a source on the committee, a purpose of the hearing was to expose the regime obstructing Congress by not fully complying with a subpoena as another possible obstruction by Trump.
  75. House Judiciary Democrats were unable to extract much from Lewandowski as a witness, but Democrats’ counsel Barry Berke, who got 30 minutes after committee members, was able to get more information.
  76. Berke got Lewandowski to acknowledge that when he said he would “voluntarily” appear before Mueller’s team on national television that it was a lie, as was his saying he had not been asked to testify.
  77. Berke also exposed that Lewandowski took the Fifth and refused to testify unless he was granted immunity, and that the White House dangled a job in front him, before asking him to deliver a message to Jeff Sessions.
  78. Berke also established Lewandowski wanted a private meeting with Sessions so there would be no record. Even though he was loyal to Trump, Lewandowski did not deliver the message, and knew it was illegal.
  79. Overall, Lewandowski largely confirmed the event detailed in the Mueller report. During a break in the hearing, he tweeted a link to his new super PAC. Trump has offered support to his 2020 senate run.
  80. On Monday, House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff said Trump’s acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, has until Tuesday to turn over the whistleblower complaint reported on in Week 148.
  81. Schiff said if Maguire refuses to comply, he will be called in front of his committee on Thursday to publicly explain why. Maguire was named acting DNI in August after Dan Coats resigned.
  82. On Tuesday, Schiff said Maguire refused to turn over the “urgent” whistleblower complaint. Schiff warned the agency might be acting to conceal high-level wrongdoing by Trump or his immediate advisers.
  83. On Tuesday, the DNI said it was acting legally in a letter from Jason Klitenic, the DNI general counsel to Congress, citing the complaint “involves confidential and potentially privileged communications.”
  84. On Wednesday, WAPO reported the whistleblower complaint involves Trump’s private conversations with a foreign leader, including a “promise” so troubling it prompted a U.S. intelligence official to formally file.
  85. It was not known which foreign leader or what he promised. The complaint raises further concerns about Trump’s handling of sensitive information, and may further strain his relationship with U.S. intelligence.
  86. Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson determined the complaint was credible and troubling enough to be considered of “urgent concern,” a legal threshold which requires notifying Congress.
  87. On Thursday, the Hill reported Atkinson did not disclose the contents of the whistleblower’s complaint during a private session with Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee that lasted more than three hours.
  88. Atkinson did reveal that the complaint did not stem from just one conversation. Following the meeting, Chair Schiff threatened legal action if the DNI did not share the whistleblower complaint.
  89. On Thursday, NBC News reported the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel advised the DNI on whether to disclose the whistleblower’s complaint. It was unclear if Attorney General William Barr was involved.
  90. On Thursday, Trump defended himself, tweeting, “Another Fake News story out there,” saying when he speaks to a foreign leader, “I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies.”
  91. Trump added the “other country” may also be listening, and, “is anybody dumb enough to believe he would say something inappropriate on a “heavily populated” call,” adding he would “only do good for the USA!
  92. Later Thursday, WAPO reported the whistleblower complaint centers on Ukraine. Two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, Trump spoke with the newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
  93. Trump’s call is already under investigation by House Democrats who demanded the names of call participants and a transcript. Rudy Giuliani has been pressuring Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political opponents.
  94. Later Thursday, NYT reported the intelligence official filed the formal whistleblower complaint on August 12. Last week, Chair Schiff and two other committee chairs requested a transcript of the call.
  95. Democrats indicated they plan to investigate whether delaying military aid to Ukraine “is part of President Trump’s effort to coerce the Ukrainian government into pursuing politically motivated investigations.”
  96. Later Thursday, in an interview on CNN, Giuliani initially denied asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, then when pressed, “did you ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?” changed his position, responding, “of course I did.”
  97. On Friday, WAPO reported when Trump spoke to Zelensky on July 25, Ukrainians were waiting on stalled $250 million of military assistance, and Zelensky was waiting for a high-priority meeting at the White House.
  98. According to a readout of the call released by Kiev, Trump told Zelensky Ukraine could improve its image with the U.S. if it completed corruption cases that have “inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.”
  99. Trump also on the call specifically pressed Zelensky to re-open a corruption investigation of 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. The call is the subject of the whistleblower complaint.
  100. Days later, Rudy Giuliani met with an aide to Zelensky in Madrid to outline two cases he said Ukraine should pursue: Hunter Biden and allegations Democrats worked with Ukraine to release info on Paul Manafort.
  101. Giuliani told the Post he was acting in his personal capacity as Trump’s lawyer, but the State Department put him in touch with Zelensky’s aide. The State Department did not comment to the Post.
  102. Reportedly, there was a high level of discomfort by Ukrainian officials with the outreach. Zelensky and his aides have said if there is a case to pursue they will do so, but do not want to get involved with U.S. politics.
  103. WAPO also reported that White House counsel Pat Cipollone has been engaged since shortly after the whistleblower complaint was filed, helping to identify legal obstacles to keep the information from going public.
  104. Cipollone’s involvement showed the White House had a direct role in preventing DNI Maguire from complying with Congress. Maguire is scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee next week.
  105. On Thursday, “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade defended Trump, saying the complaint boils down to, “do you like the president’s policy on Ukraine” better than those of Barack Obama.
  106. On Friday, Republican lawmakers also defended Trump. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “Who is the whistleblower — is he still working?…I’ve heard rumors it’s somebody who left. Why did he leave?”
  107. Trump ally Rep. Mark Meadows said, “If there’s wrongdoing, certainly we need to look at it,” adding, “But my understanding of what has taken place is, this is just a different version of Russia collusion — Russiagate 2.0.”
  108. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that if Trump “has done what has been alleged, then he is stepping into a dangerous minefield with serious repercussions for his Administration and our democracy.”
  109. On Friday, Trump defended what he said in the July call, telling reporters what he said was “totally appropriate,” but would not say if he had asked Zelensky to investigate Biden.
  110. Trump also said his exchanges with heads of state are “always appropriate” and that “it doesn’t matter what I discussed,” then added, “somebody ought to look into Joe Biden’s statement.”
  111. Trump also said he does “not know the identity of the whistleblower,” but said the whistleblower is “partisan,” and described the complaint as a “political hack job.”
  112. On Friday, dictionary Merriam-Webster tweeted its word of the day was “misprision,” which is the concealment of treason or felony.
  113. On Saturday, WSJ reported on the July call, Trump pressed Zelensky eight times to work with Giuliani to investigate whether Joe Biden, while vice president, tried to influence the investigation of Hunter Biden.
  114. According to the Ukrainian government, after the call Trump congratulated Zelensky, and expressed hope his government would push ahead with investigations to improve relations between the countries.
  115. On Saturday, in a series of tweets, Trump defended his call, tweeting, “the Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party” want to stay “far away” from Biden pressing to fire a prosecutor investigating his son.
  116. Trump also tweeted “nothing was said that was in any way wrong” with his conversation with Zelensky, but “Biden’s demand, on the other hand, was a complete and total disaster.”
  117. Trump added, “the Fake News knows this but doesn’t want to report,” adding, “Democrats and the Fake News Media have gone “bust” on every other of their Witch Hunt schemes,” calling it “the Ukraine Witch Hunt.”
  118. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “The LameStream Media had a very bad week. They pushed numerous phony stories and got caught,” adding, “They are The Enemy of the People!”
  119. Trump cited especially “the Failing New York Times, which has lost more money over the last 10 years than any paper in history,” an untrue claim, “and The Amazon Washington Post.”
  120. Trump also tweeted, “The Fake News Media…knowingly make up the facts,” claiming “they even make up sources in order to protect their partners, the Democrats,” and, “They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!
  121. On Tuesday, on a trip to California for fundraising events, Trump told reporters the homeless are hurting real estate prestige, saying they are living in “our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings.”
  122. Trump said, “People in those buildings pay tremendous taxes” for “locations because of the prestige,” adding he spoke to “foreign people, foreign tenants” who wanted to leave because of the homeless problem.
  123. Trump also claimed, in addition to foreign tenants, that “the people of San Francisco are fed up, and the people of Los Angeles are fed up. And we’re looking at it, and we’ll be doing something about it.”
  124. On Tuesday, WAPO reported the Trump regime plans to revoke California’s right to set stricter air pollution standards for cars and light trucks, a set of Obama-era policies aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
  125. Already 13 states and the District of Columbia have adopted California’s standards, setting the stage for what is likely to be a massive legal battle between California and the federal government.
  126. In a speech on Tuesday, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said, “We embrace federalism and the role of the states, but federalism does not mean that one state can dictate standards for the nation.”
  127. On Tuesday, California Republican Rep. Paul Cook said he would not seek re-election in 2020, becoming the 18th House Republican to do so ahead of the 2020 election.
  128. On Wednesday, Trump told reporters he expects to direct the EPA to fine San Francisco and Los Angeles for pollution stemming from their homelessness problems.
  129. Trump claimed, without evidence, of the two California cities, “There’s tremendous pollution being put into the ocean because they’re going through what’s called the storm sewer that’s for rainwater.”
  130. Trump also claimed, again without evidence, “And we have tremendous things that we don’t have to discuss pouring into the ocean. You know there are needles, there are other things.”
  131. On Tuesday, the Trump’s DOJ and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau asked the Supreme Court to take up a lawsuit challenging the financial watchdog group’s constitutionality.
  132. Top DOJ and CFPB lawyers argued the CFPB infringes on Trump’s executive authority. The case could have fatal consequences on the agency, halting or hindering its work to police the financial sector.
  133. On Tuesday, James Steeley, the head of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, refused to testify to Congress about the Trump regime’s implementation of the public service loan forgiveness program.
  134. Steeley told Rep. Bobby Scott, the chairman of the House education committee, in a letter that he would not appear, citing, “PHEAA is strictly bound by the laws, regulations and guidance of the programs.”
  135. On Tuesday, the Trump regime’s Department of Agriculture finalized a new rule which would reduce the number of inspectors required at pork plants by roughly 40% and limits on pig slaughter line speeds.
  136. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said, “This regulatory change allows us to ensure food safety while eliminating outdated rules and allowing for companies to innovate,” calling it a “modernization.”
  137. United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents 30,000 pork workers, called the new rule dangerous. The USDA’s inspector general has opened a probe on whether the agency concealed information on safety.
  138. On Wednesday, the Pentagon, in budget requests sent to lawmakers, warned of dire outcomes from urgently needed military construction projects due to funding transferred to pay for Trump’s border wall.
  139. The Pentagon warned that cancelled funding could lead to hazardous living conditions for troops and their families, unsafe schools that impede learning, and buildings that do not meet military safety standards.
  140. Even before Trump pulled $3.6 billion, funding 127 projects, to pay for his wall, the 2013 budget deal designed to end a government shutdown had already starved the military construction budget for years.
  141. On Wednesday, NYT reported according to figures given to the House Oversight Committee first requested in June, the Pentagon has spent $184,000 on Trump’s Turnberry resort since 2017.
  142. Figures show between August 2017 and July 2019, the Pentagon spent $124,579 at Turnberry, with an average cost of $189 per overnight stay, suggesting over 660 rooms were paid for by the military.
  143. The Pentagon said there were also $59,729 in travel charges associated with the stays at Turnberry that could not be tied to actual vouchers. The resort is also 25 miles from the airport where planes refueled.
  144. On Thursday, the Miami Herald reported the Marine unit 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) in West Palm Beach planned to hold its annual ball at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort on November 16.
  145. When the Herald called to confirm the event posted, a Marine said, “It’s a work in progress,” adding, “We booked it but there were complications involved… It’s just money and some other things. We’re doing our best.”
  146. Marine Corps spokesman told the Herald on Friday that no taxpayer money would be spent on the ball, and a venue had not been finalized. As many as 700 guests have attended past ANGLICO balls.
  147. On Tuesday, following the death of journalist and political commentator Cokie Roberts from complications from breast cancer, Trump told reporters, “I never met her….She never treated me nicely.”
  148. Trump also told reporters he did not believe Sen. Elizabeth Warren had 20,000 people at a campaign rally Monday, saying, “No. 1, she didn’t have 20,000 people and No. 2, I think anybody would get a good crowd there.”
  149. Trump provided no basis for this claim. He also told reporters, “I think you have a good crowd there if you don’t even go there, just say you’re going and how many people are in the park.”
  150. On Wednesday, Trump blamed Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke for endangering gun reform, tweeting, “Dummy Beto made it much harder to make a deal,” adding “many that Dems just want to take your guns away.”
  151. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell relented, backing an election security amendment to give the Trump regime an additional $250 million to assist states with voter systems and election interference.
  152. On Thursday, Trump filed a lawsuit against Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr and his accounting firm, Mazars, after Vance’s office issued a subpoena last month to Mazars for Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns.
  153. On Friday, a state Supreme Court judge in New York ordered Trump to answer questions under oath for a civil case in which protestors said they were assaulted by Trump’s security guards in 2015 during the campaign.
  154. The judge ordered Trump to “appear for a videotaped deposition prior to the trial” slated for September 26. The judge rejected the argument made by Trump’s attorney that he should not have to testify due to his duties.
  155. On Wednesday, Politico reported on a growing conflict between House Judiciary Chair Nadler and Speaker Pelosi on the panel’s handling of impeachment. Pelosi feels there are not the votes on the floor to proceed.
  156. Reportedly Pelosi took a swipe at Nadler in a closed-door meeting of House Democrats last week, saying his committee has pushed too far on impeachment, and telling members, “And you can feel free to leak this.”
  157. Nadler has made clear he believes Trump should be impeached now. So far, 146 Democrats are for an impeachment inquiry, while 89 are against it or have not publicly declared.
  158. On Wednesday, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found 37% of voters support starting impeachment proceedings, half oppose it, and 12% are undecided. Seven in 10 Democrats supports starting proceedings.
  159. On Friday, Speaker Pelosi told NPR that despite reporting that Trump requested election interference, she still does not support the start of an impeachment inquiry.
  160. Pelosi said Congress should “pass some laws that will have clarity for future presidents,” adding, “[A] president should be indicted, if he’s committed a wrongdoing — any president.”
  161. Pelosi also said, “The Founders could never suspect that a president would be so abusive of the Constitution, that the separation of powers would be irrelevant to him and that he would continue” to withhold facts.
  162. Pelosi fears alienating swing voters ahead of the 2020 election. She called the whistleblower complaint “very alarming” and said it was “in a different class in terms of [Trump’s] behavior.”
  163. On Friday, the Pentagon announced Trump has deployed more troops to the Middle East to strengthen air and missile defenses around Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
  164. Defense Secretary Mark Esper called the move defensive in nature. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered no specifics on the number of troops deployed.
  165. On Friday, Trump told reporters he could order a retaliatory strike “in one minute,” adding his restraint should be seen as strength and toughness.
  166. Trump also said, “Our nuclear was getting very tired. Now we have it in, as we would say, tippy-top shape,” adding, “We have new and we have renovated and it’s incredible. We all should pray we never have to use it.”
  167. Later Friday, a senior U.S. official told the Times the additional troops deployed would number in the low hundreds. Two-thousand troops were deployed to the Middle East in June as a show of force to Iran.
  168. On Saturday, Speaker Pelosi attacked Trump for sending U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, saying in a statement that Trump is turning a “blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s continued violence.”
  169. Pelosi also called the decision to deploy additional forces to the region is “the latest outrageous attempt” by the Trump regime to “circumvent” Congress, adding “these unacceptable actions are cause for alarm.”
  170. On Saturday, WAPO reported Trump’s threat to withhold financial and military assistance from Ukraine to help the country protect against Russian aggression revealed his expansive view of executive power.
  171. Unlike the Mueller probe findings that Trump did not work directly with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, with Ukraine he was an active participant in using the powers of the U.S. to taint a political foe.
  172. A senior fellow at the Brookings Institute said, “We haven’t seen anything like this in my lifetime,” adding Trump “appears to be daring the rest of the political system to stop him — and if it doesn’t, he’ll go further.”
  173. On Saturday, the Alaska Republican Party scrapped its 2020 presidential primary, saying in a statement that holding it “would serve no useful purpose” because Trump is president.
  174. On Friday, hundreds of thousands of young people around the world, led by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, took to the streets to protest government inaction on the climate crisis.
  175. On Saturday, thousands gathered in Washington D.C. and around the country for the “We the People March,” to remind Congress that they work for the people, and to demand that the Trump regime be held accountable.

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On Saturday, ten-thousand protestors gathered in Washington D.C. and at solidarity marches around the country as part of the “We the People March,” to remind Congress that they work for the people, and to demand that the Trump regime be held accountable.

Copyright Amy Siskind, September 21, 2019

Activist, author. The Weekly List website, podcast https://theweeklylist.org/ & book THE LIST. POLITICO 50. President @TheNewAgenda. More info AmySiskind.com

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