Week 35: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
July 15, 2017
I’m pleased to share that “The Weekly List” has found a safe home at the Library of Congress. May future generations learn from our slow slide to authoritarianism, and never let it happen again!
This week the bombshell story about Donald Jr.’s emails, the first direct evidence of possible collusion and intent between the Trump campaign and Russia, dominated media coverage and conversation. But as with each week, amidst the bedlam, there were a myriad of less-covered, important stories on how the fabric of our country is changing, and kleptocracy is omnipresent.
- After the G20, Pope Francis warned about “dangerous” international alliances, including the one between the US and Russia.
- On Sunday after returning from the G20, Trump sent a bizarre set of tweets, including his apparent acceptance that Putin did not meddle in our election, and his plan to set up a Cyber Security unit with Putin.
- After widespread condemnation of his Cyber Security unit idea, Trump tweeted Sunday night that he didn’t really mean it.
- US officials say Russia government hackers were behind recent cyber-intrusions into the administrative and business networks of a US nuclear power plant and other energy companies.
- Reuters reported European infrastructure networks have also recently been hacked, and the Russian government is thought to be the culprit.
- An Arkansas bill scheduled to go into effect July 30 would make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion without notifying the man who impregnated her, even in cases of rape.
- On Monday, Capitol police arrested citizens protesting the GOP health care bill outside of Republican senate offices.
- A federal judge halted the deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals, including many Christians fearing persecution. The Trump’s regime efforts to deport took on new urgency because Iraq has agreed to accept deportees.
- An Iranian cancer researcher, traveling on a valid visa to the US to work as a visiting scholar at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, was detained at Logan Airport, along with his wife and three children.
- Pew Research found the percentage of Muslim refugees has steadily declined under Trump from 50% in February to 31% in June, while the percentage of Christian refugees has increased from 41% to 57%.
- A federal judge’s ruling in Hawaii narrowed the scope of Trump’s Muslim ban by vastly expanding the list of family relationships with U.S. citizens that visa applicants can use to get into the US.
- Trump ally Rep. Steve King called for using federal funds set aside for Planned Parenthood and welfare programs like food stamps to be reallocated for funding Trump’s Mexican Wall.
- Politico reported that Trump and his regime are quietly working with conservative Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue to cut the number of legal immigrants allowed into the US by half over the next decade.
- According to a memo obtained by WAPO, the Trump regime is considering expanding the DHS’s power to expedite the deportation of illegal immigrants, a major expansion of the agency’s power.
- DeVos met with MRA groups who believe campus sexual assault is a hoax, including The National Coalition for Men, an organization with a history of harassing and intimidating alleged sexual-assault survivors.
- DeVos also met with Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), an organization SPLC described as promoting misogyny. SAVE has lobbied against efforts to address military sexual assault, calling it a “witch hunt.”
- Ahead of these pivotal meeting, Candice Jackson, the acting assistant secretary for civil right at the Education Dept said 90% of campus sexual accusations come after drunk sex or break-ups. She later apologized.
- Sessions delivered a speech to Alliance Defending Freedom, a group designated as an “anti-LGBT hate group” by the SPLC in 2016, off camera on Tuesday. The DOJ refused to release his remarks.
- Rep. Martha McSally stood on the House floor Wednesday in a sleeveless dress and open-toed shoes to say she would not comply with the dress code in the chamber and Speaker’s lobby.
- On Friday, female members of the House wore sleeveless clothing to work, tweeting in support of “Sleeveless Friday.”
- Price’s HHS quietly defunded teen pregnancy programs designed by the Obama administration to fund scientifically valid ways to help teenagers make healthy decisions that avoid unwanted pregnancy.
- The ACLU filed a suit against Trump’s Election Integrity Commission, saying it isn’t following federal law requiring it to be open to the public.
- Trump’s Election Integrity Commission published a 112 page document of public feedback (mostly negative), which exposed personal information including email addresses, phone numbers, and home addresses of some.
- Over 3k Colorado voters have canceled their registrations since Trump’s Election Integrity Commission requested voter roll information.
- A nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog group filed a complaint with the FEC alleging Price improperly used his congressional campaign fund to promote his confirmation to HHS Secretary.
- Center for Public Integrity reported Bannon failed to properly disclose more than $2 million in mortgage debt on his financial disclosure form.
- Trump’s expected pick for chief of the Wage and Hour Division of the Dept of Labor, Cheryl Stanton, was named in a lawsuit last year for allegedly not paying her house cleaners.
- WAPO reported that while Trump has chastised companies for outsourcing jobs and Ivanka branded herself a feminist, Ivanka’s clothing lines are exclusively produced at low-wage foreign factories, and women employees are not well treated.
- After Trump’s much ballyhooed deal with Carrier to keep American jobs, Indiana has lost 5k manufacturing jobs since February.
- WSJ reported the CEO of a OpenGov, a small start-up that Kushner’s brother has a stake in, got a seat at a WH roundtable for prominent technology-industry leaders last month. Kushner owned the stake before selling it to his brother early in the year.
- Politico reported that conservative Sinclair Broadcasting increased “must run” segments featuring former Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn to nine times per week across its affiliates.
- Sputnik, a Russian government-funded news outlet, started broadcasting on 105.5 FM last week from K-Street offices, a few blocks from the WH.
- Within 24 hours of announcing “The Weekly List” will be archived in the Library of Congress, I was the target of two hit pieces in Sputnik News, one in RT, and other various Russia-friendly blogs.
- NYT reported that Pence has quietly hosted at least four private dinners, and has more in the works, to court big donors and corporate executives.
- The Trump regime’s deregulation teams is full of appointees with deep industry ties. NYT and ProPublica reported on 71 appointees with industry links, including 28 with potential conflicts.
- Intercept reported Kushner tried to get a half-billion loan bailout for his 666 Fifth Avenue from a Qatar sovereign wealth fund, and the deal not coming to fruition may have influenced US policy towards Qatar.
- USA Today reported a US Golf Association exec told USGA executive committee members that Trump threatened to sue the organization if it moved the 2017 US Women’s Open from Trump‘s golf club in Bedminster.
- Trump tweeted: “I will be at the @USGA #USWomensOpen in Bedminster,” advertising one of his properties again.
- Documents released to WAPO under the FOIA show the State Dept spent more than $15k for rooms at the new Trump hotel in Vancouver.
- At the behest of Bannon, Trump aides Erik Prince and Stephen Feinberg, who both benefited from military contracting, developed an alternative plan to the one proposed by the Pentagon for Afghanistan. Their plan was to rely on contractors (mostly non-American) instead of American military troops.
- Twitter users who were blocked by Trump’s personal account are suing him in federal court, saying he violated their First Amendment rights.
- Trump tweeted that Comey had “leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION” and “That is so illegal!” The Columbia law professor who received some of Comey’s memos said the memos he received were not classified.
- Saturday evening, NYT reported that Donald Jr., Kushner, and Manafort met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer with close Kremlin ties, at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016.
- Donald Jr. initially claimed the meeting was related to an adoption program. Kushner had failed to disclose the meeting in his security clearance. Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign manager at the time, had no comment on the meeting.
- On Sunday, NYT reported Donald Jr. met with the Veselnitskaya after being promised damaging information on Hillary. The meeting took place two weeks after Trump became the GOP nominee.
- On the question of whether Trump campaign colluded with Russia, NYT noted Donald Jr.’s meeting is “the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help.”
- A spokesperson for Trump’s lawyer told the NYT, “the president was not aware of and did not attend the meeting.”
- Donald Jr. hired attorney Alan Futerfas to represent him in the Russia probe, adding to a long list of attorneys defending Team Trump.
- WAPO reported the acquaintance who set up the meeting was Rob Goldstone, who was active in the Miss Universe pageant and works as a manager for Russian pop singer, Emin Agalarov.
- As news was breaking on Donald Jr., Russia’s Lavrov threatened that Russia is “considering specific measures” as retribution for Trump not returning two compounds seized by the Obama administration.
- On Tuesday, Donald Jr. preemptively tweeted his email exchange in setting up the Trump Tower meeting. Donald Jr had been contacted by the NYT for comment, asked for more time, then tweeted.
- Shortly after his tweet, the NYT story broke. In addition to the emails, the story details the changing accounts by all involved parties.
- Per emails, Donald Jr. was offered information that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” and “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
- Donald Jr.’s response was: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
- Donald Jr. forwarded the email chain — with the subject line, “Re: Russia — Clinton — private and confidential” — to Kushner and Manafort ahead of the meeting.
- The email was sent by Rod Goldstone on behalf of a mutual friend, Emin Agalarov. Emin is the son of Aras Agalarov, a real estate tycoon referred to as the “Donald Trump of Russia,” who has close ties to, and was awarded the “Order of Honor of the Russian Federation” by, Putin.
- The meeting took place in Trump Tower, one floor below Trump’s offices. Trump continued to deny knowledge or involvement all week.
- According to emails, the meeting took place at 4:00 pm. Donald Jr. said it lasted 20–30 minutes. At 4:40 pm same day, Trump tweeted in response to a tweet by Hillary, “where are your 33,000 emails that you deleted?”
- Julian Assange tweeted, “Contacted Trump Jr this morning on why he should publish his emails (i.e with us),” indicating he has been in contact with Donald Jr.
- WAPO reported Donald Jr. changed his story about the meeting with Veselnitskaya four times in the first four days of the story coming to light.
- NYT reported Trump personally signed off on Donald Jr.’s first statement Saturday night saying his meeting with a Russian lawyer was to discuss adoption policy — a known lie.
- After releasing his emails, Donald Jr. gave an interview to Fox News telling his side of the story. Trump called his son “a high-quality person” and added, “I applaud his transparency.”
- Yahoo reported that Trump had a Moscow real estate deal with Aras Agalarov, the same Russian oligarch who set up the meeting with Veselnitskaya, to construct a Trump Tower in Moscow.
- A letter intent was signed by Trump, and then, as the presidential campaign got underway, Donald Jr. was assigned to take the lead. Ivanka also looked at spots for Trump Tower Moscow with Emin Agalarov.
- The deal did not happen because the Russian economy floundered, in part because of US and EU sanctions imposed after Crimea and Ukraine. Doing away with US sanctions could help put the deal back on track.
- In April 2016, Emin and Aras Agalarov told WAPO they wanted Trump to be elected. Emin said Trump’s election would be “an amazing breakthrough” that would forge peace between Russia and the US.
- CNN reported Mueller’s investigators plan to examine the meeting and email exchanges disclosed by Donald Jr. as part of their broader Russian-meddling investigation.
- On “The Late Show” Tuesday night, Joe Scarborough announced he is leaving the Republican Party. “It’s a shame there are so few Republicans speaking truth to power,” Scarborough tweeted.
- NYT reported Tuesday that Trump’s long-time personal attorney and lead counsel for the Russia probe, Kasowitz, has been the target of Trump’s frustration and ire, and may resign.
- ProPublica reported that as Trump’s lead attorney on the Russia probe, Kasowitz is unable to see classified information because he isn’t seeking security clearance, and may have trouble getting one.
- On Wednesday night, Kasowitz threatened a stranger in an email, saying “I’m on you now,” and “Watch your back, bitch,” etc. Later, he apologized through a spokesperson, saying he was working late that night.
- McClatchy reported that Congressional and DOJ investigators are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states.
- Kushner, who is already a “person of interest” for the DOJ investigations, will be investigated for his role overseeing the digital operations, and for possible cooperation with Russian efforts.
- Of note, the Russians knew to target women and African-Americans in two of the three decisive states, Wisconsin and Michigan. Clinton lost WI, MI, and PA by a combined 77,744 votes out of 13.9 million ballots cast.
- WSJ reported that in light of Donald Jr. emails, US intel investigators are re-examining conversations captured in the spring of 2015 of Russian government officials discussing associates of Trump.
- Rep. Brad Sherman of CA introduced articles of impeachment against Trump. Rep. Al Green of TX was the only other Democrat to join.
- AP reported that Trump’s mysterious friend “Jim,” who Trump frequently referenced on the campaign trail and more recently ahead of his trip to Paris, may not actually exist.
- Trump faced heavy criticism after telling France’s first lady during his first state visit to the country, “You’re in such good shape.”
- Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Sessions asking why the DOJ settled a $230 million Russian money laundering case against Prevezon for $6 million two days before trial in May.
- Veselnitskaya represented the family of Pyotr Katsyv, whose son owns Prevezon. Democrats want to know is she was involved at any point in settlement negotiations.
- Prevezon was part of Russia’s largest tax fraud scheme. Magnitsky, the lawyer who exposed the alleged fraud, was jailed, tortured and killed in Russia. Veselnitskaya has been trying to undo the Act in his name.
- The case against Prevezon was initially brought by US attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by Trump.
- Axios reported Trump’s outside legal teams wants him to wall off Kushner from discussing the Russian investigation with Trump.
- On Thursday morning, NPR reported Sessions had defied a judge’s order by not supplying the required forms to show his foreign contacts. The court’s 30-day deadline expired Wednesday.
- Later that afternoon, a day late, the DOJ did release one heavily redacted page of Sessions’ SF86, showing only that he had checked a box “no” on whether he had met with any foreign governments in the past 7 years.
- New Republic reported that Trump’s relationship with Russia dates back to the 1980s, and over decades Russia has laundered money through Trump’s real estate and casinos.
- Sebastian Gorka told CNN that Trump is considering returning the Russian compounds because “we want to give collaboration” a chance. US intelligence found evidence the compounds were used for spying on the US.
- Thursday, Trump said he would invite Putin to the WH at the right time. Trump also continued to not acknowledge that Russia who hacked our election, saying it could have been China or N. Korea.
- NYT reported that Kushner has supplemented his federal disclosure form three times, adding more than 100 foreign contact names.
- Chicago Tribune reported that Peter W. Smith, the GOP operative who detailed his efforts along with members of the Trump campaign to get Hillary’s deleted emails from Russian hackers, committed suicide.
- Smith’s interview with WSJ’s Shane Harris was the first report of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Smith’s suicide happened nine days after the interview occurred.
- Smith left a curious suicide note, citing a bad turn in his health, and writing, “NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER.” Harris said when he spoke to Smith, he had no indication “he was ill or planning to take his own life.”
- NBC reported at the June 9 meeting, Veselnitskaya was accompanied by Rinat Akhmetshin a Russian-American lobbyist, and former Soviet counterintelligence officer with ongoing ties to Russian intelligence.
- AP confirmed that Akhmetshin attended the meeting. Donald Jr. had not disclosed Akhmetshin’s attendance, nor had Kushner in his forms.
- Daily Beast reported Akhmetshin was previously accused in federal and state courts of orchestrating an international hacking conspiracy.
- Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called on Donald Jr. to testify as early as next week. Grassley said he would subpoena him if necessary.
- Grassley filed a complaint against Akhmetshin in March, saying he was effectively engaged in lobbying work as an unregistered agent for Russian interests. Akhmetshin lobbied for Congress to repeal the Magnitsky Act.
- FP reported that the private email account of a top US intelligence officer working in the secretive arm of the State Dept focusing on Russia, was hacked. Russia is suspected of being behind the hack.
- Yahoo reported Trump lawyers knew about the emails three weeks ago, although Trump claimed he learned about them, “a couple of days ago.”
- Friday, CNN said there were at least 8 people at the Donald Jr./Veselnitskaya meeting.
- On the Friday Fox News hand-off from Shepard Smith to Chris Wallace, Smith said “Why is it lie after lie after lie?….The deception, Chris, is mind-boggling…Where are we, and why are we getting told all these lies?” Wallace answered, “I don’t know what to say.”
- Veselnitskaya told WSJ that she had been meeting regularly and sharing information with Russian authorities and Russia’s top prosecutor, Yuri Chaika — the “Crown prosecutor” referenced in Goldstone’s emails.
- Amid a legal team shake-up, Trump hired Ty Cobb to become point person inside the WH for matters related to Russia, and Kushner lawyer Jamie Gorelick stepped away from representing him on Russia.
- Maddow reported on a lawsuit filed by United to Protect Democracy on behalf of three citizens against Trump and Stone for their role in the public sharing of information hacked by the Russians. If it goes to trial, discovery could reveal information on how stolen info was disseminated.
- Friday, a judge order a retrial of the Code Pink activist who was arrested after she laughed during Sessions’ confirmation hearing.
- Lawyers for the only known DREAMer to be deported, filed supporting statement showing ICE agents wrongly forced him across the border.
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Copyright Amy Siskind, July 15, 2017