Week 22: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
April 15, 2017
Week 22 has, by far, the most items related to Trump-Russia ties. This week, the word “probe” progressed to “scandal,” signaling an acceptance that some sort of collusion occurred. Trump continues his attempts to divert attention from this story by bombing and provocation without a strategy or plan. Two days of bombing have earned him his first two days of positive press. Meanwhile, as we approach the 100-day mark, Trump has accomplished little and his regime is in disarray.
- Six weeks have passed since Trump’s tweet accusing Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower. He has yet to offer any evidence or apologize.
- Trump continues to claim, without evidence, that Susan Rice committed a crime by spying on the Trump campaign.
- The Trump regime has articulated five different policies for Syria in the last two weeks. As the week closed, he still hadn’t settled on one.
- Reuters reported that the Assad regime was warned by Russia (after Russia was warned by Trump) of the impending US strike, and was able to mostly evacuate the target.
- Secretary of State Tillerson attended a G7 meeting, where he was a dissenting voice on imposing more sanctions on Russia. Tillerson said of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, “Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?”
- Tillerson ditched his press pool while meeting with Putin. Tillerson claimed he and Putin found very little to agree on.
- As news about the Trump-Russia collusion in our election seeped out this week, Trump and Putin sought to display a deteriorating US-Russia relationship, with Trump saying relations were “at an all-time low.”
- The next day, Trump tweeted an odd, unprompted reassurance, “Things will work out fine between the U.S.A. and Russia. At the right time everyone will come to their senses & there will be lasting peace!”
- BuzzFeed reported Pyotr Levashov (Peter Severa), a Russian hacker, was detained in Spain for ties to a computer virus linked to the US election. His wife said he was arrested for being “linked to Trump’s win.”
- WAPO reported that the FBI had obtained a FISA warrant to monitor Carter Page as part of an investigation of the Trump campaign’s connection to the Russia’s effort to swing the election in Trump’s favor.
- WAPO also reported that the first 90-day FISA warrant was issued in July 2016, and has since been renewed by the FISA court more than once.
- In an ABC interview, Page said he couldn’t guarantee he did not discuss easing of sanctions with Russian contacts at a meeting in July in the Russian capital, “We’ll see what comes out in this FISA transcript.”
- According to the Steele dossier, also discussed at that July meeting was the sale of a 19.5% stake in Rosneft, Russia’s state oil company — allegedly in exchange for lifting of sanctions.
- CNN reported that classified documents reviewed by Democrats and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee contradict Nunes’ and Trump’s claims that Susan Rice did anything unusual or illegal.
- Financial records obtained by AP confirmed at least 2 payments totaling $1.2 million paid by a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine on the so-called Black Ledger to Paul Manafort’s consulting firm in the US.
- After consulting with federal authorities, Manafort said he would register as a foreign agent for his past work on behalf of pro-Russia interests in the Ukraine.
- Manafort became the second in Trump’s inner-circle to retrospectively register as a foreign agent, Flynn being the first for his work with Turkey.
- A DC lobbying firm which was directed by Manafort and Rick Gates also retroactively registered as a foreign agent for work to promote a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party’s interests in Washington.
- The day after Manafort stepped down from the Trump campaign, he set up a shell company which secured $20 million in loans, including $3.5 million from Spruce Capital, which has connections to a post-Soviet fertilizer oligarch, Alexander Rovt, who also has ties to Trump.
- BuzzFeed reported on a bizarre story involving Trump attorney Michael Cohen taking a $350k check from a Russian NHL player, which was meant to be passed along to Cohen’s client, a Russian women in Florida for payment on a condo, but instead Cohen cashed the check and kept it.
- Former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove said Trump borrowed from Russia as a lender of last resort after the 2008 financial crisis.
- The Guardian reported British spies were the first to spot the Trump team’s links to Russia dating back to late 2015. GCHQ shared the suspicious activity with their counterparts in US intelligence.
- Germany, Estonia, Poland, the Netherlands, France, and Australia also relayed material on the Trump campaign’s links to Russia to US Intelligence during 2016.
- The head of GCHQ met with CIA Chief Brennan in July 2016 — per The Guardian, the matter was deemed so sensitive it was handled at “director level.” This meeting allegedly precipitated Brennan’s one-on-one meetings with the Gang of Eight, described in Week 21.
- CNN confirmed The Guardian reporting, citing sources in the US congressional and law enforcement, and US and European intelligence.
- CIA director Pompeo had harsh words for WikiLeaks, including a “hostile intelligence service,” and said Russian military intelligence used WikiLeaks to release hacked DNC emails.
- Pompeo also described RT as Russia’s “primary propaganda outlet” and said it actively collaborated with WikiLeaks.
- Ironically, while part of Trump’s campaign, Pompeo had cheered on WikiLeaks, tweeting a Restate article, “BUSTED: 19,252 Emails from DNC Leaked by WikiLeaks”
- Offering no evidence, Stone told Politico the Obama administration got a FISA warrant on him. Stone has admitted communication with both Guccifer 2.0 and Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks.
- Rachel Maddow observed the serious press and agencies rushing in this week to take credit for having uncovered the Trump regimes collusion with Russia — meaning the scandal has entered a new phase as accepted.
- The House Intelligence Committee sent Rep. Mike Quigley to Cyprus as part of its Trump-Russia probe. Week 19’s list noted some of the extensive ties between Cyprus and the Trump regime.
- The Department of Justice released 90 pages under the FOIA about voting machine malfunctions in PA, MI, WI, FL, and NC.
- As Trump neared the 100-day judgment mark, Politico described the WH as a “pressure cooker” to show results, when little has been accomplished.
- As power continued to consolidate in the hands of the Trump family, Trump’s WH drew comparisons to a “family business.”
- Unabated personnel drama plagued the WH the entire week, as snipes continued between Bannon, Kushner, and Trump.
- After Trumpcare failed (twice), Trump had promised to take on tax reform next, saying a plan was forthcoming. This week Trump’s WH scrapped this effort, saying they would not produce a tax plan.
- WSJ reported that Trump’s federal hiring freeze, put in place day 1 of his administration, put correctional officers at risk, could delay payments to veterans, and prevent disabled and retirees from getting social security.
- The day after the report, Trump lifted his Federal hiring freeze.
- During the hiring freeze, thousands of positions remained vacant including more than 350 at the EPA alone. CNBC blamed the pace on “Trump’s close involvement” and “turf wars” in his inner circle and Cabinet.
- Trump threatened to undermine Obamacare to get Democrats to the negotiating table. Specifically, he would hold back subsidy payments to healthcare companies providing insurance to low-income Americans.
- The Government Accountability Office said it’s investigating whether the Trump transition team followed federal guidelines and ethics rules during the transition.
- Sec. Betsy DeVos said she would scrap Obama’s plan for tougher federal oversight and new rules for student-loan servicers. Coincidentally, DeVos has significant holdings in one such servicer, Performant Financial Corp.
- Trump appointed crony Don Benton, a salesman, to director of the Selective Service System, overseeing the military draft. This is the first time since 1941 a person with no military experience has been chosen.
- Allan Lichtman, the American University professor who predicted the winner of the last eight presidential elections, predicted Trump will be impeached.
- CREW and others sued DHS under the FOIA for failing to disclose visitor logs of the WH, Mar-a-Lago, and Trump Tower.
- On Friday, the Trump regime said they will not release the WH visitor logs, breaking with a practice started under President Obama.
- The rationale for not releasing visitor logs were “security risks”’ and to save taxpayers $700k over the next three years. A weekend in Mar-a-Lago costs taxpayers an estimated $3 million.
- Trump is on track to spend more in his first year than Obama spent in all eight years in office.
- Trump Hotel DC is facing new legal challenges under the emoluments clause from a watchdog group represented by constitutional lawyer Laurence Tribe, who noted a “major infusion of value” from the General Services Administration.
- A deal for a Trump-branded hotel in Dallas with a developer Mukemmel Sarimsakci, known as “Turkish Trump,” collapsed. Sarimsakci said the Trump Organization had been vetting potential investors in the deal.
- Bloomberg found that of Trump’s 10 most engaged followers on Twitter, five are confirmed robots and three appear to be bots.
- A Florida court of appeals ruled against Trump, saying he owed a paint company $300k for stiffing them on work done and supplies provided at the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort.
- Trump completely reversed himself on several key campaign positions this week. China is no longer a currency manipulator, NATO is no longer obsolete — nor is Ex-Im Bank, and he likes the job Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is doing.
- Trump credited new-found knowledge from China’s leader (N. Korea) and business leaders like Boeing’s CEO (Ex-Im Bank). Boeing donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration, and as mentioned in prior weeks, China has granted many goodies to Trump, including 38 new trademarks.
- Trump’s Treasury Department oddly placed Germany on its new special currency “monitoring list.” Germany’s currency is the Euro.
- In a FBN interview Trump described eating “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake” with China’s leader — giving a free advertisement to Mar-a-Lago catering — then got the country he bombed wrong (said Iraq).
- Spicer made shocking statements regarding Hitler and the Holocaust at Tuesday’s press briefing. He used the term “Holocaust center” rather than concentration camp, and in comparing Hitler to Assad, said the former had never used chemical weapons on his own people.
- The Anne Frank Center called on Trump to fire Spicer. The Trump regime has amassed a steady stream of anti-Semitic behavior, including omitting Jews from the WH International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement.
- No one from the Trump family attended the WH Passover Seder, unlike his President Obama and Michelle who attended every year.
- NBC reported on Gorka’s ties to Vitezi Rend, a Nazi-linked group, including wearing his honorary medal from the group at Trump’s Inaugural ball.
- In a speech on Tuesday, AG Sessions ordered prosecutors to crack down on illegal immigrants more aggressively, claiming gangs and cartels are turning U.S. cities into “war zones.”
- ICE quietly detained 367 immigrants this week in raids across the country. ICE claims the raids are focused on “criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants and immigration fugitives” — advocates say this is not true.
- A mother of four in Cincinnati was deported after appeals. Maribel Trujillo had no criminal record in her 15 years here, and has children aged 3–14 years-old, the youngest of which has special needs.
- On Thursday, the “mother of all bombs” — the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat — in Afghanistan. Trump refused to say if he had ordered the strike, and even if he knew about it.
- Trump said he gave total authorization to “my military” — a reference appropriate for a dictatorship, not a democracy.
- While his popularity continues to flounder, Trump got his second day of positive press for dropping the MOAB (the first was the Syrian bombing).
- Trump has yet to declare a strategy in Afghanistan or appoint an ambassador. The $16 million cost MOAB killed 36 ISIS fighters — a cost of roughly half a million per fighter.
- Late Thursday, Trump also issued confrontational statements about N. Korea, threatening a preemptive strike. N. Korea’s vice foreign minister says Trump is “making trouble” with “aggressive” tweets.
- Trump spent Friday in Mar-a-Lago, golfing and avoiding the press. Friday marked Trump’s 18th time golfing, compared to other presidents at this point: Obama 0, W. Bush 0, Clinton 3.
- As Tax Day approaches April 18th, thousands are expected to march today in cities around the country to protest Trump being the only modern day president to not release his tax returns.
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
Copyright Amy Siskind, April 15, 2017