Week 29: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
June 3, 2017
This was an abbreviated week with Memorial Day and Congress out of session. Republicans were largely in hiding. Without the background noise in DC, two major themes played out: the spreading Russia crisis, and the shaping of a new world order.
Even before Megyn Kelly’s prime-time interview of Putin, Russia has become a national obsession. Several bombshells on Trump-Russia broke this week, as the collusion puzzle continues to piece together. And seemingly at Putin’s behest, a new world order is shaping with Trump distancing himself from our democratic allies, and cozying up to brutal authoritarian states.
- As the Trump-Russia scandal spread, Donald Jr,. Eric, and Eric’s wife Lara met with GOP leaders to discuss strategy. Donald Jr. and Eric were supposed to steer clear from politics while running the family business.
- Secretary of State Tillerson, Exxon’s former CEO, was present in Saudi Arabia at the same time Exxon’s current CEO was signing a major deal with state-owned Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC).
- The Trump regime planned to quietly sell $1.2 million of semiautomatic handguns to Erdogan’s security guards. After these guards beat American protestors at the Turkish embassy in DC, members of Congress objected.
- Belgian newspaper Le Soir reported that during his Brussels visit, Trump complained to the Belgian PM about his difficulties in setting up golf courses in the EU.
- In the final leg of his trip, Trump continued to ignore US press. Trump was the only G7 leader to not hold a press conference after the summit.
- The WH omitted the name of the husband of Luxembourg’s gay PM from the caption of a photo taken at the NATO summit. It was later corrected.
- Merkel warned Europeans that the US and Britain are no longer reliable partners, and that Europe “must take its fate into its own hands.”
- Macron said his prolonged, white-knuckled handshake with Trump was “not innocent,” telling French media, “we must show that we will not make small concessions, even symbolic ones.”
- In an interview with Megyn Kelly, Putin it would be a good thing for Moscow if NATO were completely “falling apart.”
- In sharp contrast to Trump, on Monday France’s Macron stood on stage next to Putin and called Russian media outlets “organs of influence and propaganda.” France also accepted LGBTQ refugees from Chechnya.
- While visiting Australia, McCain sought to reassure our important ally, telling them Trump’s actions have “unsettled many Americans as well.”
- CNN reported that Trump’s return from his first foreign trip finds him lonely and angry. One source said, “I see him emotionally withdrawing. He’s gained weight. He doesn’t have anybody whom he trusts.”
- A furious Trump threatened a WH shake-up again and again this week amid the broadening Russia crisis; however it also became clear that few are interested in working for Trump.
- Trump’s Communications Director quit Tuesday. Other than that, no changes were made this week despite all the drama.
- Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George Conway, withdrew his name from consideration to lead the Civil Division of the DOJ.
- Reuters reported that Trump FBI director search has become “chaotic,” and said Trump interviewed candidates for 10–20 minutes, and in one case, mostly talked about himself.
- AP reported Trump gave his cell number to world leaders and urged them to call him directly, raising concerns about security and secrecy.
- Trump’s Twitter account experienced a strange surge of followers in the month of May. Nearly half his new followers are likely fake accounts.
- Rolling back 40 years of progress, the Trump regime plans to disband the Labor Department division responsible for policing discrimination among federal contractors.
- Also as part of this move, Trump will also roll back protections for the LGBTQ community, and for victims of campus sexual assault.
- Amid racial tensions in Portland, OR after two men were killed by a white supremacist while coming to the aid of Muslims women, a Republican said the party should use militia groups at public events.
- Three days after the Portland attack, Trump tweeted attack was “unacceptable;” although he did so through the @POTUS Twitter account, not the personal account he typically uses.
- One hundred eighth graders on a field trip to DC refused to pose with Paul Ryan. One student added, “I don’t want to be associated with him.”
- WNYC reported Trump SoHo plans layoffs, citing in the past five months room and event bookings are down sharply.
- As Trump lost the appeal in federal court on his second Muslim ban, the regime gave US embassies broad discretion to limit travelers through intensified screening measures for visa applicants.
- In another act of violence against US media, several windows at the Lexington Herald-Leader were shattered by bullets.
- Texas’s House passed SB 4, which attempts to abolish “sanctuary cities” by making local officials who refuse to enforce the Trump’s regime’s extremist measures liable and subject to removal from office.
- A Texas state representative, Matt Rinaldi, called ICE on SB 4 protesters. He also threatened to “put a bullet in one of his colleague’s heads” during a scuffle on the House floor.
- A man arrested for failing to pay fare on Minneapolis light rail faces deportation after undergoing inappropriate questioning by a transit officer on his immigration status. The exchange was captured on video.
- In Michigan, ICE agents ate breakfast at an Ann Arbor restaurant, complimented the chef on the waffles and bacon and eggs and toast, and then went to the kitchen area and arrested three restaurant workers.
- A Guardian article described ICE agents as “out of control” and “getting worse” as arrests of nonviolent undocumented immigrants explode across the country. Agents have also been accused of targeting protesters.
- The Trump regime filed a petition with the SCOTUS to appeal the second Muslim ban rulings. Ironically the ban, marketed as imperative to protecting America, had a 90 day limit. It is now over 120 days later.
- A noose was found at the segregation exhibition of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
- NYC sculptor Alex Gardena, upset about the “Fearless Girl” statue looking at the Wall Street bull, placed a statue of a urinating dog next to the girl.
- Signaling his lack of knowledge on governing and his continued authoritarian bent, Trump tweeted the Senate “should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved.”
- China arrested one activist, and two others disappeared, after investigating alleged labor abuse at a factory that makes Ivanka’s shoes.
- Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley called for an investigation into a Chinese company marketing investments in a property partly managed by Kushner using EB-5 visas (granting visas for $500k investments).
- McCain said Russia is a bigger threat to the US than ISIS, and said “We have done nothing since the election last November to respond to Vladimir Putin’s attempt to change the outcome of our elections.”
- Politico reported as Mueller ramps up his Russia investigation, Trump aides are responsible for preserving materials, despite many using auto-delete apps. Destroying materials could expose aids to criminal charges.
- On Meet the Press, Clapper said of the Kushner-Russia reports his warning light was clearly on, and “all of us in the intelligence community, very concerned about the nature of these approaches to the Russians.”
- NYT reported that the FBI is investigating Kushner’s motives for meeting with Gorkov, head of VEB, a Russian state bank, and whether it had to do with Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
- CNN reported on intercepted conversations during the 2016 election which reveal Russians believed they had “derogatory” information on Trump and some of his tops aides that could be used to influence them.
- At a Recode conference, Hillary said the Russians “could not have known how best to weaponize that information” without help from Americans.
- Trump’s close confidant and personal attorney, Michael Cohen was asked by House and Senate investigators “to provide information and testimony” on contacts he had with Russia. So far Cohen has declined.
- The House Intel Committee sent a preliminary request for information to former Trump aide, Boris Epshteyn.
- The New Yorker reported that Trump reached out to ally Roger Stone, who is at the center of congressional and FBI investigations, on May 11th and told him, “good job.”
- CNN reported that Congress is investigating a possible third undisclosed meeting between Sessions and Kislyak.
- The House Intel Committee issued seven subpoenas Wednesday on the Trump-Russia probe — four subpoenas related to Russia investigation, and three were issued to the NSA, FBI, and CIA on “unmasking.”
- Rep. Adam Schiff said no Democrats were consulted on the “unmasking” subpoenas. Democrats on the House Intel Committee said that Nunes violated his Russian recusal by issuing these subpoenas.
- The WH finally disclosed waivers granted. VOX reported that Trump has granted more lobbyist waivers in 4 months than Obama did in 8 years!
- The waiver granted to Bannon for communicating with Breitbart may have violated ethics rules, as it was granted retroactively.
- WH Office of Management Director Mulvaney said the day of the CBO “has probably come and gone.”
- It has been 36 days since the State Dept held a daily press briefing.
- Politico reported the WH ordered agencies not to comply with Democrat’s oversight requests, as Republicans fear the information could be used against Trump. None of these requests have been honored so far.
- Trump tweeted at 12:06 a.m.: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe…” While Twitter stayed awake lambasting Trump, the tweet remained up until morning, when it was replaced by a humorous version.
- When Spicer was asked about the Trump tweet the next day, he refused to admit wrong or a mistake instead saying, “The president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.”
- Amid outrage by corporate CEOs, US and international politicians and experts, and a clear majority of US citizens, Trump formally withdrew from the Paris Accord with another of his hallmark dystopian speeches.
- While delivering his speech, Trump referred to a casino robbery in a Manila casino as an “act of terrorism.” This was a false statement.
- Trump also bragged in his speech about adding one million jobs. The actual number is closer to 600k. Trump’s top economic adviser Cohn said Trump was using the ADP number, ignoring its own government report.
- May’s nonfarm payroll number came in Friday well below expectations (138k actual vs. 185k expected).
- After Trump pulled from the Paris Accord, Ivanka sought to recreate her image, tweeting support for the LGBTQ community and being featured as the “most powerful Jewish woman.” Both were met with outrage.
- A poll by Politico/Morning Consult found support for Trump impeachment is rising: 43% this week, up from 38% last week.
- WAPO reported that the Trump regime is moving to return the two US compounds the Obama administration had taken away from Russia as punishment for interfering in the 2016 election.
- Yahoo reported that days after taking office, the Trump regime tasked the State Dept with finding ways to lift economic sanctions, to return the two US compounds, and to relieve tensions Russia.
- As these were the same State Dept employees that helped develop punitive measures, they were alarmed and rallied congressional allies.
- WAPO reported that while Kushner and VEB’s Gorkov have given different accounts for why they met, shortly after their meeting, Gorkov met with Putin in Japan.
- Congressional investigators are looking into whether Kushner was vulnerable to Russian influence because his real estate holding are over-leveraged, and whether this led to his meeting with Gorkov.
- WAPO reported that Kushner financed a luxury skyscraper in Jersey City using federal loans meant to help poor, job-starved areas.
- NBC reported that five current and former officials say Trump participated in a private meeting in April 2016 with Kushner, Sessions, and Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel.
- Nigel Farage is a “person of interest” in the FBI’s Trump-Russia scandal, in part for meeting with Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in March.
- James Comey is scheduled to testify in front of the Senate Intel Committee next Thursday, and is expected to say that Trump asked him to back off the investigation of Flynn.
- ABC reported that Comey is angry, saying Rosenstein and Sessions never relayed any concerns about his job performance before firing him.
- NYT reported that Trump could try to block Comey’s from testifying citing executive privilege. As of today, Trump has not decided if he will try to block Comey’s testimony.
- Going a step further than Trump, Putin said maybe “patriotically minded” private Russian hackers meddled in the US election
- DOJ’s Andrew Weissman, who oversaw foreign bribery and bank cases, is joining Mueller’s Russia investigation team.
- AP reported Mueller has taken over a separate DOJ criminal probe into Manafort, which predates the 2016 election.
- Mueller may also expand his inquiry to investigate Sessions’ and Rosenstein’s roles in firing Comey.
- Reuters reported special counsel will also probe Flynn’s ties to Turkey.
- Politico reported the Trump regime is pushing Congress for legislative victories as Trump grows impatient; but as the Trump-Russia scandal heats up, it’s unlikely any legislation will be passed in coming months.
- Today, Americans in 150+ cities will participate in the “March for Truth” to demand the urgency and transparency on Trump-Russia.
A closing note: the number of items we have normalized and/or forgotten about from the early lists is astounding. Each week brings new bombshells and scandals — stories that in normal times would be front page news for weeks or months — for example, Pence’s (Week 16) and Tillerson’s (Week 19) email scandals. In the chaos, we have forgotten.
Week 1: https://goo.gl/KWlyOO Week 2: https://goo.gl/Pn7MFs
Week 3: https://goo.gl/CZwxsX Week 4: https://goo.gl/JhwuON
Week 5: https://goo.gl/TGM6x8 Week 6: https://goo.gl/uhyjxe
Week 7: https://goo.gl/bMdhTG Week 8: https://goo.gl/89MW8h
Week 9: https://goo.gl/ekv9wE Week 10: https://goo.gl/RETyH1
Week 11: https://goo.gl/6cs0tt Week 12: https://goo.gl/bRMx5o
Week 13: https://goo.gl/xzdjyY Week 14: https://goo.gl/1HwN4H
Week 15: https://goo.gl/JxVghS Week 16: https://goo.gl/sZpudG
Week 17: https://goo.gl/QymWmJ Week 18: https://goo.gl/Ri6E9N
Week 19: https://goo.gl/L6JOSV Week 20: https://goo.gl/PvlahQ
Week 21: https://goo.gl/XDjZFw Week 22: https://goo.gl/AQydgj
Week 23: https://goo.gl/FlWS69 Week 24: https://goo.gl/O2c7Th
Week 25:https://goo.gl/bJi31u Week 26: https://goo.gl/KhFQ7Y
Week 27: https://goo.gl/6Kgby0 Week 28: https://goo.gl/teZ4i4
Copyright Amy Siskind, June 3, 2017