Nel's New Day

October 31, 2019

Syria: DDT Makes Russia Great Again

Impeachment has overwhelmed the media, shutting out most other news including the travesty in Syria, started by a casual telephone call between Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and Turkish president Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan 25 days ago. In a few minutes, DDT set the scene for the displacement and murder of former Kurdish allies along with the takeover of northern Syria by Turkey and Russia with at least 160,000 Kurds now forced out of their homes.

DDT first pulled troops out of northern Syria which allowed hundreds of ISIS prisoners to escape and then lifted all sanctions on Turkey despite their war crimes. As always, he fabricated a new reality with a multitude of lies. A few corrections:

  • Kurds did not “release” ISIS prisoners; the former U.S. allies were on the run.
  • Kurds were not “very thankful” about DDT’s pulling the troops; they pelted U.S. troops with rotten vegetables and rocks.
  • Troops were not pulled out of the Middle East; they were sent to Iraq and the Syrian oil fields. He also sent another 3,000 service members to Saudi Arabia.
  • The military deployment to Syria was not scheduled for only “30 days” because there was no timetable.
  • The deployment didn’t happen “almost 10 years ago” because airstrikes didn’t begin until 2014. Ground troops were deployed in late 2015.
  • Others had not tried to make this deal for “many, many decades” because DDT made an extremely narrow decision in the withdrawal of U.S. troops, not a broad accord resolving longstanding regional issues.  
  • Saudi Arabia won’t be paying for all the troops sent to protect their oil fields because White House officials know nothing about any deal. DDT’s next plan was to get NATO to pay for protecting Saudi oil fields, an unlikely scenario.
  • DDT doesn’t have “control of oil in the Middle East”; he has control over no Middle East oil fields. Russia, Iran, and Syria control the Syrian oil fields.  Russia’s state-owned Rosneft oil company, owned by Russia, controls 60 percent of the Kurdish area’s main oil export pipeline, and Iraq keeps the rest. DDT has given them 2.5 billion gallons of oil.

DDT’s later idea about putting troops in Iraq and Syria may also fail. In a face-to-face unannounced meeting, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi told Defense Secretary Mark Esper (or “Esperanto,” as DDT called him) that U.S. troops don’t have permission to come to Iraq from Syria. Mahdi added that his government is taking “all international legal measures” in response to their recent entry. DDT’s plan to protect the oil fields in Syria—but not the Kurds—violates the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed after 9/11. AUMF can only target “nations, organizations, or persons” who were involved in the attack on the U.S. to prevent “future acts of international terrorism.” The law may block protection of oil fields.

Any plan for DDT to take the oil may also violate international law. He said that “we should be able to take some [oil]” and added a plan to make a deal with “ExxonMobile or one of our great companies to go in there … and spread out the wealth.” When DDT earlier said that the U.S. should have taken the oil from Iraq, Sarah Saadoun, researcher at Human Rights Watch, explained that this would be pillage, “the unlawful appropriation of public or private property in connection with an armed conflict.” An “occupying army” to “use the natural resources of the territory for the needs of the occupying army or for the benefit the local population.” The 1996 US War Crimes Act also criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions or articles of The Hague Regulations, including the prohibition on pillage. A sentence for these violations can be life in prison. DDT used the term “fools” to describe people who believe in enforcing U.S. and international law.

DDT’s pullout of troops gave ISIS a huge win: U.S. officials stated that they are losing the ability to collect critical intelligence about the terrorists’ group’s operation on the ground. The pullout also caused greater risk in the raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr Badhdadi because it disrupted the careful planning by the Pentagon. Officials said that the success of the raid was in spite of, not because of, DDT.  

Throughout DDT’s attempt to divert attention from his impeachment with the killing of al-Baghdadi, he behaves like a buffoon. He awkwardly staged a photo supposedly taken during the raid in contrast to Pete Souza’s reality-based photo of President Obama and his team tracking the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The date and time for DDT’s picture show it was taken 65 minutes before the raid. Tweets ridiculed the image for scattered Ethernet cables that weren’t connected to anything, the placement of DDT’s chair higher than others at the table, and the few obscured documents in front of him compared to those in front of others. A later photograph cut off he man on the right to make DDT look larger. 

Former presidents were accompanied by their chiefs of staff during times of crisis, but Mick Mulvaney was at home in South Carolina during the raid. He learned about it from the same announcements as the rest of the public, perhaps an indication that he is not long for the White House.

DDT’s derogatory dog references have been prominent in the media, both written and video, because he commonly uses canines to denigrate people—including al-Baghdadi about his death—yet praised a military dog for its part in the raid. A number of his comments are cited here. DDT was so enamored with the animal helping to take down al-Baghdadi that he tweeted a photo-shopped image illustrating his giving the dog the Medal of Honor. Gone in the picture is the face of James McCloughan, the first person who received the award from DDT for his saving ten men in a days-long Vietnam battle.

Days after DDT removed U.S. troops from northern Syria, DDT hailed the Turkish “cease-fire agreement, which kept killing people, as “a great day for civilization.” He followed that with high praise for Russia and Turkey taking over part of Syria. His comments are reminiscent of those by then British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in September 1938, who shook hands with Adolf Hitler after France and England signed the Munich agreement that allowed Germany to annex Czechoslovakia. Poland was next, and the price for this “appeasement” was World War II. Winston Churchill, a man who DDT says he admires, told Chamberlain:

“You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.”

DDT repeats Chamberlain’s mistakes: he takes dictators such as Vladimir Putin and Erdoğan at their word and ignores military and diplomatic advice; he disregards threats from his actions and consequences of his public statements; he dismisses an ally losing over 10,000 fighters while helping the U.S. destroy ISIS; and he emboldens Iran, strengthens Russia, alienates allies, damages U.S. credibility, and helps ISIS. Winston Churchill’s statement to Chamberlain fits DDT.  

October 28, 2019

DDT: Corruption, Character

News events about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) keep rolling. Today, NYT broke news about how Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, twice reported worries about DDT’s pressuring Ukraine, especially asking “a foreign government [to] investigate a U.S. citizen.” He heard DDT’s July 25 telephone call to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky offering quid pro quo. A decorated Iraq war veteran with a Purple Heart, Vindman will be the first White House official to testify with first-hand knowledge about the call. (Vindman’s opening statement.)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the House will take its first formal vote on Thursday to “affirm” the impeachment investigation. The resolution will also cover procedures for public hearings and interview transcripts.

Military and intelligence officials cringed about DDT’s colorful description of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s capture, a combination of fabricated, tactically sensitive, and classified information that he presented to the world. Again, DDT presents himself only as an entertainer delivering an exciting narrative about covert life-and-death events. One official said:

“We agonized over what we would put in his briefings because who knows if and when he’s going to say something about it. He has no filter. But also if he knows something, and he thinks it’s going to be good to say or make him appear smarter or stronger, he’ll just blurt it out.”

Details such as the U.S. possessing documents about future ISIS plans damages military ability to use that information, and DDT’s report about capturing ISIS fighters complicates interrogation. He also revealed technology used in discovering the location and the raid itself as well as tactical details about the robot, helicopter flight patterns, methods of entering the compound, and even military dog training. DDT’s behavior belies his faux concern about fear that Democrats would leak information if they knew about the operation.

DDT invented his message to the Russians and performance of the “crying and screaming” from al-Baghdadi: the visuals of the raid had no audio. Some people surmised that the visual for DDT and others in the Situation Room was set up later to imitate the photo from that room during the capture of Osama bin Laden.

Back to last week’s corruption and fraud:

One arguing point by Republicans—although invalid—is that they are devoted to the U.S. Constitution. DDT finally openly repudiated the document that provide the supreme law of the United States with his term “phony Emoluments Clause.” The reference was made in high dudgeon after he backed out of having the G7 Summit at his personal resort, but a number of lawsuits already challenge his right to take money from foreign governments without congressional permission. He also argues that the constitutional impeachment process is unconstitutional and gave himself the right to spend federal funds wherever he wishes in violation of the constitution.

DDT also referred to the phony constitution when discussing his Washington, D.C. hotel. Thinking that he could escape multiple lawsuits about his constitutional violation, DDT considers selling the hotel, hoping for $500 million on a $200 million investment. Because DDT leases the building where the hotel is located, he would be selling only the rights to operate the hotel. The hotel’s building is owned by the government, making DDT both tenant and landlord, prohibited by the lease but still in operation. His lease costs $3 million a year plus a percentage of the profits, but DDT has not paid much over the base cost, indicating that the place is not profitable. He continues to run his own business, despite his assertion that he wouldn’t have any oversight; thus the sale would result in more conflicts of interest with a sale to people trying to curry favor. A House committee has subpoenaed DDT for documents to investigate his lease.

DDT may understand that his name is losing money. He has taken his name off two Central Park ice skating rinks. At one time, the arenas posted red signs with “Trump” around the rink and at the skate rental desk, signs now covered with a white tarp or with “Trump” in small print at the bottom. His name has even been removed from uniforms. Four concessions run by the Trump Organization—the two rinks, the Trump Golf Links in the Bronx, and the Michael Friedsam Memorial Carousel in Central Park—have either lost revenue or stayed flat since DDT was elected. The two rinks dropped by 5 percent. DDT’s name has been taken off six residential buildings in Manhattan and three hotels, all properties that had leased the Trump name.

New Jersey may revoke the liquor license for one of DDT’s golf clubs because of a 2015 case in which a man caused a fatal wreck after he was overserved alcohol at the club in Colts Neck. The man pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide after killing his father. DDT has 30 days to challenge the revocation. The club also violated state law by selling alcoholic drinks other than beer on carts throughout the golf course. According to state law, anyone with one liquor license revoked must give up all other licenses for two years. DDT has two other New Jersey golf clubs, one of them in Bedminster that he calls his summer White House. Alcohol sales provide golf courses its income.

DDT attacked Obama for not donating his presidential salary, but DDT has spent nearly 300 years of presidential salary on taxpayer-funded trips to play golf at his private clubs, including last weekend.

In DDT’s snitty micro-managing, he cancelled White House subscriptions to the Washington Post  and the New York Times. He also plans to order all his agencies to do the same. Almost a year ago, DDT tried to revoke or suspend the press passes of journalists with his objection as “fake news.” Judges have opposed this action twice thus far, but the DOJ is appealing the latest decision to allow the reporter to cover the White House. An argument against any suspension is “viewpoint discrimination” which DDT obviously has according to a tweet about “two nasty lightweight reporters” whose “reporting is so DISGUSTING & FAKE.” DDT’s bubble didn’t allow him to foresee the booing he faced at Game 5 of the World Series game after he was introduced. He was not happy.

DDT’s use of “fake news” may be short-lived. A Calgary (Alberta) communications agency joined the Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists to trademark the term and served DDT with a cease-and-desist to stop him from using the term.

A federal judge held DDT’s billionaire Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in contempt of court because she failed to stop collecting loan payments from former Corinthian Colleges students, a defunct for-profit college company that defrauded tens of thousands of borrowers. Judge Sallie Kim fined the Education Department $100,000, money used to compensate the 16,000 people damaged by the Education Department. She warned “additional sanctions” if the Educational Department continues to violate the injunction.

One of DeVos’ top officials, A. Wayne Johnson, has quit in an effort to become Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s appointment to a U.S. Senate seat. Johnson has 500 competitors for the job. He came to the Education Department from his private student loan firm to manage $1.5 trillion in student loans, equal to Russia’s annual GDP and more than seven times Portugal’s GDP. As a going-away gift, Johnson wants to forgive up to $50,000 of student debt for each borrower at a cost of $925 billion. He says it could be financed by a one-percent tax on revenue generated by all employers including non-profit organizations. 

Student loan payments provided over 100 employees of student loan company Sallie Mae a five-day, expenses paid trip to Maui as the company celebrated record profits. The company made $5 billion from 374,000 borrowers. Sallie Mae provides private loans which charge much higher interest.

Peter Navarro, DDT’s trade representative, refused to answer six times when asked whether DDT is pressuring China to investigate Joe Biden as part of the trade talks. Sounds like a yes.

The DOJ tried to conceal the whistleblower complaint about the Ukraine phone call by not reporting the information to the FEC.

DDT has acquired only 16 percent of the land he needs in Texas for his wall because people don’t want to give up their land. Yet he may cause another shutdown in December if Congress doesn’t give him money for his monument.

Twice last week, GOP senators blocked election security bills. DDT already said that he would veto any bill requiring federal election campaigns to report “illicit offers” of campaign assistance from foreign governments and their agents.

DDT loves proclamations and last week was no different. For “National Character Counts Week,” he signed a statement encouraging future leaders to “lead lives of virtue and integrity” with a strong “moral compass.” He wants them to “demonstrate good character through our thoughts, discourse, and deeds” with deeds in our homes, schools, workplaces, and houses of worship. Let us set an example for others of the timeless values of respect, compassion, justice, tolerance, fairness, and integrity.” The signing of this proclamation that satirists like Andy Borowitz would write—but it’s for real.

Oddity of the week: DDT has released an attack ad against Hillary Clinton for the 2020 campaign.

October 27, 2019

DDT: Week 144 – Disasters Grow

Last week ended with more bad news for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) after Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, testified on Saturday. Like others, he said he saw top DDT officials stopping their support for former U.S. ambassador for Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, after DDT took her out of Ukraine. About his testimony, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) said, “It’s a much richer reservoir of information that we originally expected.”

DDT’s chief argument for blocking subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry was that there is no inquiry. A federal judge disagreed, ruling that the House had launched “an official impeachment inquiry” because “a House resolution has never, in fact, been required to begin an impeachment inquiry.”  AG Bill Barr has also been ordered to turn over grand jury material he redacted in Robert Mueller’s final report by October 30. Beryl Howell, chief judge for the Washington, D.C. district court, responded to the DOJ claim barring “disclosure to the Congress of grand jury information” by declaring, “DOJ is wrong.”

A month into the impeachment inquiry, DDT becomes increasingly frustrated with his inability to block subpoenas. Earlier, he said that only “crooks” need a “war room” to defend themselves from impeachment, but he has brought back Jane and Marty Raskin, criminal defense attorneys who were part of his legal team during the Mueller investigation. White House officials are also having regular impeachment strategy meetings and discussing the possibility of hiring a veteran lawyer with impeachment experience and a communications strategist.

Depositions this coming week:

  • Monday – Former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman. (He has asked a court to rule on whether he should after receiving his subpoena.)
  • Tuesday – Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s top expert on Ukraine.
  • Wednesday – Kathryn Wheelbarger, acting assistant secretary of defense for international security.
  • Thursday – Tim Morrison, a White House adviser on Russia and Europe.

More reports show DDT’s responsibility for deaths in Ukraine because he held up military aid for personal political reasons. Russia has been firing artillery shells at Ukrainian soldiers in rural areas in spite of the Moscow-signed ceasefire. In one case, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and another eight injured. Approximately 13,000 people, one-fourth of them civilians, have been killed since 2014 when Russia illegally annexed Crimea and started a separatist uprising in Donbass. The death rate in Donbass dropped after $1.5 billion in U.S. military aid. The congressionally-approved $391 million was designated not only for weapons but also for defensive systems against Russian artillery attacks. DDT’s indifference about saving lives in Ukraine is like his abandonment of Kurdish allies so that Turks could kill them.

DDT’s high point is killing people. “He died like a dog,” crowed DDT about the U.S. military killing ISIS leader Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria last night and continued with a gleeful description of the death. CNBC reporter John Harwood tweeted, “Trump relishes describing ghastly violence.” Once again, DDT violated protocol by not notifying Democratic congressional leaders of his raid but did tell Russia before the attack. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) demanded a briefing on DDT’s action. Although the Kurds were instrumental in the attack on al-Baghdadi, DDT gave Russia and Iraq credit without their taking part. Before President Obama’s raid that killed Osama bin Laden, he informed leaders of both parties. The Russian Defense Ministry stated that there were no recorded airstrikes in the Idlib zone on Saturday where the operation is said to have taken place and that al-Baghdadi’s presence there was unlikely because the area is controlled by either Syria or a rival al-Qaeda. Al-Baghdadi’s death has been reported at other times.

Despite the possibility of al-Baghdadi’s death, impeachment still looms large over DDT with past officials’ negative interviews. Yesterday, former acting chief of staff John Kelly told a conference audience at the conservative Sea Island Summit that he had warned DDT:

“Whatever you do, don’t hire a ‘yes man’—someone who won’t tell you the truth. Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached.”

DDT denied that Kelly “said that.” He accused Kelly of wanting “to come back into the action like everybody else.” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said that Kelly “was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President.” Yes man Mick Mulvaney replaced Kelly, and DDT isn’t happy with him either. He snapped at him in front of his aides when Mulvaney reminded him of the Hatch Act, prohibiting all executive branch employees except DDT from using their positions for political activities, and called Mulvaney “weak.” In dictator fashion, DDT said, “I’m in charge of the Hatch Act,” meaning that people don’t need to follow the law.

A month ago, DDT floated the idea of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin or Deputy Chief of Staff Chris Liddell as his chief of staff. DDT also suggested Kellyanne Conway as a possibility. Others one the list for his “yes man” chief of staff are former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and veteran political operative Wayne Berman.

DDT’s advisers are also trying to push out Mulvaney. Fox’s Sean Hannity called him “dumb” and “interpretation of things,” “idiotic.” Fox’s Lou Dobbs called Mulvaney’s press conference “thoroughly confusing” and that it “seemed to contradict what the president has said.” Mulvaney may have been “dumb” when he defended Trump’s selection of Doral for the G7 Summit, now rescinded, by saying that DDT still thinks of himself as working in the “hospitality business.” 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may also be moving on. DDT was upset that he hired acting ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, who testified about the quid pro quo.  

DDT can hire anyone for chief of staff, but he’s restricted in his appointees for agency directors. Ken Cuccinelli is out as head of the DHS after Kevin McAleenan left because he hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate for any position and hasn’t been at the agency for 90 days before the vacancy. Immigration is currently such a hot potato that infighting about McAleenan’s replacement will make DDT’s life worse. DHS has had four DHS secretaries in less than three years.  

Rick Perry, totally inadequate for the position of Energy Secretary, is gone, and DDT found another lobbyist to add to his Cabinet. DDT picked Dan Brouillette, top lobbyist for Ford Motor Company, to replace Perry one month after he told an audience, “We stared down the unholy alliance of lobbyists and donors and special interests, who made a living bleeding our country dry. That’s what we’ve done.” He does stare them down in his Cabinet meetings—secretaries of Defense, EPA, HHS, Labor, Interior, and now Energy.

DDT repeatedly claimed that he opposes corruption, but his own affairs indicate that corruption begins at home. Earlier this year, the U.S. Marshals Service awarded a $33 million contract to CertiPath, owned in part by DDT’s younger brother, Robert Trump. The company failed to disclose that DDT’s close relative will benefit financially. Protests led to a “stop work order” on the contract.   

When the Pentagon picked Microsoft instead of Amazon for its new $10 billion cloud computing contract, the military may have proved Jim Mattis’ claim that DDT had called the former defense secretary and ordered him to “screw Amazon” as part of DDT’s ongoing vendetta against Jeff Bezos, owner of both Amazon and Washington Post. Mattis refused, saying that the bid procedure “will be done by the book, both legally and ethically.” DDT fired Mattis six months after the altercation.

Mystery traders made $1.8 billion from stock purchases placed hours before DDT tweeted talks with China were “back on track” at the G20 meeting in June. Other trades are netting people in the know, one just before Iranian drones attacked Saudi Arabian oil production facilities ($180 million) and another made shortly before DDT announced a delay in tariffs on Chinese goods ($190 million). Democrats are seeking a probe into the suspicious stock trades connected to DDT’s statements.  

Two top HUD officials admitted at a congressional hearing that the agency deliberately and illegally missed a legally required deadline to make billions of desperately needed hurricane relief funding available to Puerto Rico. They managed to issue funding notices to 18 states by the deadline and published all notices except Puerto Rico.

DDT’s administration is also blocking the report from an interagency working group that describes environmental risks for low income communities. Of the multiple agencies required to file annual progress reports about actions each one takes to address environmental justice, only four have done so, and most haven’t updated environmental justice strategic plans.

The National Archives is investigating Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross‘ use of private email for official business, discussions with the European Commission for Trade, a U.S. ambassador’s meeting with German car manufacturers, a dinner with the ambassador of Japan, an event related to billionaire businessman Bill Koch, and meeting requests from a far-right Internet troll.

DDT’s highly touted whistleblower protection office at the VA was designed to punish whistleblowers and held no wrongdoers accountable. it shelled out over $300,000 last month on ineffective and at times irrelevant training for its staff who work on misconduct and whistleblower retaliation allegations.

More corruption tomorrow!

October 25, 2019

‘Quid pro Quo’ Review

About 30 GOP House members, so desperate about evidence against Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the impeachment inquiry, behaved like thugs this past week when they pushed into a closed-door committee; forced out Laura Cooper, a top Pentagon official who oversees Ukraine policy who was preparing to testify; illegally compromised sensitive information by using their cellphones; and tried to record the proceedings for DDT. They delayed the proceedings for five hours, ordering they pizza and fast food before leaving a mess to be cleaned up. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who earlier threatened DDT’s former fixer Michael Cohen if he testified, bragged about leading the group. Like a mob boss, DDT urged them to carry out their illegal activities and then praised them.

GOP representatives claimed that their objection was the secrecy of the process, but 47 of them have access to the closed-door depositions but don’t take advantage of this opportunity. Thus far, not one of them has leaked any positive information about DDT from the testimony—which they would if it were available. When former GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy from South Carolina ran the mostly secret hearings about Benghazi, he said, “Private [hearings] always produce better results.” 

Not a trial, Impeachment inquiry proceedings are comparable to a grand jury, held in secret to determine if a person should be indicted. The Senate holds the trial if the House votes in favor of impeachment; Republicans will then be in charge to call DDT’s witnesses. On Fox & Friends, GOP legal analysis Andrew Napolitano explained to Brian Kilmeade how the Democrats are following congressional regulations:

“I read the House rules. The hearings over which Congressman Schiff is presiding … are consistent with the rules…. They can’t change the rules, they follow the rules. And when were the rules written last? In January of 2015. And who signed them? John Boehner. And who enacted them? A Republican majority.”

In evidence that DDT lied about wanting to combat corruption in Ukraine, he tried to cut foreign aid programs that would combat corruption in Ukraine and other parts of the world. On Fox News Sunday, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tried to support DDT’s false claim by claiming that he held up the aid because of rampant corruption in Ukraine although he had earlier claimed that the money was held up for political purposes. That was just before he said he didn’t say that. [visual Mulvaney – Sure we’re crooks cartoon 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wouldn’t back up DDT’s false claims that McConnell called the DDT’s version of the July 25 extortion telephone call “the most innocent phone call he’s read.” McConnell said he does not remember any conversations with DDT about the Ukraine phone call or the subject of Ukraine.

DDT got lies from Kahyap Patel, a protégé of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) who formerly chaired of the Intelligence Committee and fed information from hearings to DDT. Fiona Hill, who testified about Ukraine to the House last week, said that DDT thought Patel was in charge of Ukraine policy for the National Security Council instead of Tim Morrison who replaced Hill in early September. Patel’s name has appeared in several depositions about DDT’s shadow foreign policy campaign to get political favors from Ukraine. Nunes’ top staffer, Patel also discredited FBI and DOJ officials investigating Russia’s election interference.

A breakdown of DDT’s quid pro quo:

State Department officials Kurt Volker and Gordon Sondland testified about a May 23 meeting with DDT when he refused to invite Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky to the White House. Sondland said DDT “directed those of us present . . . to talk to Mr. Giuliani . . . about his concerns.”

Volker met with Giuliani on July 19 and testified that “he mentioned both the accusations about Vice President Biden and about interference in the 2016 election.” Giuliani said he wanted “Ukraine to investigate what happened in the past.”

Volker worked with Zelensky top aide Andrey Yermak to set up the July 25 phone call between Zelensky and DDT. On the morning of July 25, Volker texted Yermak to lay out the quid pro quo: “Heard from White House-assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate/‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington. Good luck!” During the call, Mr. Trump requested investigations of both the DNC server hacking and Biden; Zelensky promised to comply in exchange for a visit to the White House.

Giuliani called Volker and Sondland about Zelensky’s pending White House visit. Volker testified that “Mayor Giuliani then said he believed the Ukrainian president needed to make a statement about fighting corruption, and that he had discussed it with Mr. Yermak.” Giuliani said that the Ukrainians’ draft statement about corruption was too “generic” and demanded a “specific reference to ‘Burisma’ and ‘2016.’ ” (Joe Biden’s son Hunter was associated with the gas company Burisma.) Volker changed the statement per Giuliani’s requirements. Yermack accepted the statement but said that the declaration won’t be released until a confirmation of the date for Zelensky’s visit to the White House.

Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, testified about the demand for the public statement. Sondland told Taylor he had heard about the requirement directly from DDT and that DDT wanted “everything,” including military aid to Ukraine, tied to the country’s leaders’ commitment to investigate Democrats, the 2016 election, and Burisma. Taylor stated that DDT “wanted President Zelenskiy ‘in a public box’ by making a public statement about ordering such investigations.” Mulvaney declared that he had held up the military aid in exchange for the Ukrainian investigations. Mulvaney may be right that the government exchanges “favors” all the time, but using favors to help just DDT is illegal.

Ukraine learned that the $391 million military aid was being held up in early August although DDT denied it, but pressure on Zelensky started before his election last spring. DDT also delayed trade privileges with Ukraine with former national security adviser John Bolton warning the White House’s trade representative to withdraw any action benefiting Ukraine.

Taylor said that Sondland told him on September 8 about a conversation with Zelensky, based on a talk with DDT, that Zelensky needs to “clear things up” in public to end a “stalemate,” meaning that Ukraine would not get the “much-needed military assistance” to fight Russia. Zelensky said he couldn’t promise investigations of Biden and the Democrats, the statement “was shelved,” and Zelensky’s visit was canceled. The military aid, far earlier authorized by Congress, was released on September 11 after public outcry. The House Democrats announced an investigation into the reasons behind the blocking of the military aid and possible connection to help DDT’s reelection campaign. 

The July 25 phone call between Zelensky and DDT was in the midst of a three-month quid pro quo process with specific, repeated demands to Ukraine for political investigations which were orchestrated by DDT’s personal lawyer. Taylor testified that State Department Mike Pompeo was an integral part of the quid pro quo process. A federal judge gave DDT 30 days to release documents related to Ukraine, including communications between his personal secretary Rudy Giuliani and Pompeo. Giuliani’s communications are subject to public disclosure because he doesn’t work for the government.

Philip Zelikow, a history professor at the University of Virginia, explained DDT’s crimes and cited 18 U.S.C. § 201(b), that any public official who “corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for… being influenced in the performance of any official act” is breaking the law. Zelikow added that things of value don’t need to be tangible to fit the bribery law.

The Bulwark cited the GOP shifts for DDT defenses: 

  • The quid pro quo wasn’t real because only the U.S. knew it existed.
  • Maybe both sides knew about it, but it was never enforced.
  • Because the quid (withholding military aid) was illegal, then by definition it couldn’t have been an actual thing.
  • Maybe it was illegal and maybe both sides knew about it and maybe it was enforced, but executive authority allows all of this.
  • Maybe executive authority doesn’t actually allow any of this, but the impeachment process in the House was tainted, so whatever the Senate thinks of Trump’s actions, they’re duty-bound to acquit him because they have to think about future precedent.

Because Republicans have no real defense for DDT’s actions, they wail and gnash their teeth about impeachment not being “fair”—although impeachment about Bill Clinton’s affair was fine because he is a Democrat. To understand the GOP definition of fair, think about their behavior toward Democrats for the past four terms.

More information about GOP corruption comes from Giuliani’s “butt dialing.” On October, he was overheard raving about his need for hundreds of thousands of dollars and referring to “Robert” who is in Turkey, possibly Robert Mangas who is a registered agent of the Turkish government and a lawyer at Greenberg Traurig, Giuliani’s former employer. Mangas provided an affidavit in the case of Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab, charged in the U.S. with laundering money; his lawyer Giuliani had tried to persuade Turkey’s president to release the trader and and then sought help from DDT. In another butt-dial 18 days earlier, Giuliani railed against the Bidens with non-stop false allegations that he used for demanding investigations, a focus for the House impeachment inquiry into DDT.

With associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Giuliani worked with Ukrainian officials to get damaging information about DDT’s targets such as former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, and the Bidens. DDT’s lawyers are now claiming that Parnas has “executive privilege” because Giuliani also works for DDT. At this time, the public doesn’t know whose interests Giuliani represents—or even which country.

If DDT wants to investigate, he should look inward.

October 24, 2019

Barr’s Criminal Inquiry: No Crime, Just Distraction

Six days ago, the State Department determined no systemic or deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employers in emails sent to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s private computer server. The report, going back nine years and interviewing 130 people, was quietly made public on a Friday evening and reported in the back pages of major newspapers after several years of investigation by numerous agencies and Congress. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) frequently called on his rallies to chant “lock her up” after Michael Flynn initiated the words at the 2016 RNC when DDT became the GOP presidential candidate. In a review of 33,000 emails, the report found 38 current or former employees “culpable” of violating security procedures, but no material had been marked classified until after they had been sent. The vast majority of people “did their best to implement [security policies].”

Despite common security lapses by DDT’s own administration, he continues to attack Democrats with Clinton’s emails and maintains that a server in Ukraine is hiding her emails. The impeachment inquiry into DDT shows that his officials and personal lawyer pressuring Ukraine to pursue investigations that politically benefit DDT used private phones and cell apps to communicate their efforts.

The completion of the report seemed to be a hiatus of meaningless investigations into Democrats—until tonight. In what appears to be an attempt to distract the media from evidence against DDT revealed within the impeachment inquiry, Bill Barr (left), attorney general and DDT’s fixer, opened a criminal inquiry into the DOJ Russia investigation. John Durham, Barr’s prosecutorial puppet supposedly leading the inquiry, may now subpoena for witness testimony and documents, impanel a grand jury, and file criminal charges. 

A criminal inquiry requires only a “reasonable indication” that a crime has been committed, a much lower standard than the probable cause required to obtain search warrants. The decision is not reviewed by a court. The DOJ does require “an objective, factual basis for initiating the investigation; a mere hunch is insufficient.” Without the criminal description, Durham could only voluntarily interview people and examine government files. Some witnesses have refused voluntary interviews.

Barr has typically used his position as a place to protect DDT and fight his enemies since his appointment at the beginning of 2019, but the criminal inquiry is a new low. The situation is unusual as the DOJ conducts a criminal inquiry into the DOJ, using Durham because of the prosecutors’ respected reputation. The DOJ Inspector General typically conducts management reviews, but he cannot empower a grand jury, which may be Barr’s aim. 

In May, Barr claimed that conversations with intelligence and law enforcement led him to think that the FBI acted improperly, if not unlawfully. DDT gave Barr extraordinary powers to declassify intelligence secrets for his initial review, meaning that he can make public documents or information from the CIA and the FBI over their objections.

The FBI investigation into Russian interference began in July 2016 after the Australian government gave information to the FBI that a DDT campaign adviser had been approached with an offer of stolen emails that could damage Clinton’s campaign. At first, the agency didn’t use CIA information but moved forward in August 2016 when John O. Brennan, CIA director at that time, shared intelligence with then FBI director Comey. The CIA provided more evidence to the FBI in early 2017 that Russia tried to get DDT elected. During his investigation, Robert Mueller obtained convictions or guilty pleas from several DDT associates and indictments of over two dozen Russians because of their wide-ranging interference scheme.

According to DOJ guidelines, the FBI “has the authority and responsibility to investigate all criminal violations of federal law not exclusively assigned to another federal agency. Under “Investigations”:

“(1) A general crimes investigation may be initiated by the FBI when facts or circumstances reasonably indicate that a federal crime has been, is being, or will be committed. The investigation may be conducted to prevent, solve, and prosecute such criminal activity.”

Barr’s micro-managing of Durham’s inquiry including trips to Italy to get help from its officials to support a conspiracy theory, that the Italian government helped set up the DDT campaign adviser who was told in 2016 that the Russians had damaging information that could hurt Clinton’s campaign. Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy said that his country’s intelligence services had no such role in the Russia investigation. Barr’s trip, circumventing protocols, followed DDT’s bidding in what should have been an independent inquiry, and Barr made a second trip to Italy with Durham. DDT also called Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, pressuring him to help Barr gather information that discredits the Robert Mueller investigation. 

Earlier, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) caused diplomatic difficulties by sending letters to leaders of Britain, Italy and Australia, urging them to help “investigate the origins and extent of foreign influence in the 2016 election.” With no evidence, Graham declared that an Australian former diplomat was involved in the supposed plot to take down DDT. Australia’s ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, rejected Graham’s description of the role of the diplomat, Alexander Downer. DDT worsened the situation by accusing other countries of a wide foreign plot against him.

Durham’s investigation thus far includes interviews with over two dozen former and current FBI and intelligence officials about possible anti-DDT bias among officials working on the Russia investigation and a possible abuse of power in seeking the court order for a wiretap on DDT’s campaign official of interest. Another question is whether CIA officials tricked FBI into opening the Russia investigation. In rejection of the conspiracy theory that the Russian investigation was to block DDT’s election, a former official pointed out that the FBI openly investigated Clinton’s private email server but hid the counterintelligence investigation into DDT’s campaign.

Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tied Durham/Barr’s inquiry to Ukraine last week, and Durham admitted that he has interviewed private Ukrainian citizens. The DOJ did not give a reason. Most of the people involved in the opening of the Russia investigation have not been interviewed, possibly because Barr is waiting for a criminal inquiry. As this criminal inquiry opens, the DOJ inspector general is finishing his inquiry into the FBI’s conduct during the early time of the Russia investigation including the application for a warrant to wiretap the campaign official.

Thus far, Barr has not clarified what crime Durham is investigating or when the criminal inquiry began. DDT has accused the FBI officials who opened the case of treason, defined as “only in levying War against [the U.S.], or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

The New York City Bar Association has asked Attorney General William Barr to immediately recuse himself from any matters pertaining to DDT’s Ukraine scandal because of Barr’s conflict of interest as head of the DOJ. The tipping point of the concern came from Barr’s refusal to recuse himself in the DOJ’s review, also improper, of the whistleblower complaint regarding DDT’s “July 25, 2019 telephone call to request the Republic of Ukraine to investigate Mr. Trump’s allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and former Vice President Biden and his son.”

Barr got his job as AG by writing an unsolicited memo stating that Mueller’s investigation was “fatally misconceived” and criticized the lack of partisan “balance” on his team. The memo also praised DDT’s firing of Comey and, during his confirmation hearings, refused to recuse himself from the Russia investigation despite these opinions. Getting the AG job, Barr followed through with his commitment to protect DDT from Mueller’s investigation with an erroneous—one could say biased—synopsis of Mueller’s report followed by dragging his heels until he released a heavily redacted version of the report because of criticism from the usually taciturn Mueller.

The report showed DDT’s wrongdoing, but by then Barr’s “no collusion” repetition had taken root with people who ignored the actual report. Not until DDT’s flagrant quid pro quo with Ukraine extorting the president for the congressionally-approved military aid. In May, Barr testified “I don’t know” to Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) question about whether anyone at the White House had “hinted” that he should open an investigation, the one that is now a criminal inquiry.

In other support for DDT, Barr argued for the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census to undercount immigrants and deny communities of federal resources for the next ten years. Barr also has the same obsession to discriminate against individuals and groups with the unconstitutional excuse of “religious liberty.” His focus is to illegally expand DDT’s power through politicizing his own office, to shield DDT’s friends, and to prosecute his enemies. Instead of an independent agency of justice, the DOJ has become a reign of terror guided by the authoritarian leader of the United States.  

October 19, 2019

How DDT ‘Deals’ with World Leaders

[Note: To readers who notice when postings disappear on Nels New Day for a while, I will be gone for several days. Looking forward to a recap of this week’s events next weekend—like the bedbugs at Doral are safe because Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) didn’t like all the criticism of holding the 2020 G7 summit at his personal resort. There goes his millions of dollars.] 

The following piece by Shay Khatiri  posted on Charlie Sykes’ The Bulwark analyzes the reason behind DDT’s relationships.

“On Wednesday, the White House published a letter, dated October 9th, that President Trump sent to his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. First, he issued a warning to Erdogan that he would ‘destroy the Turkish economy’ if Erdogan went ahead with his genocidal plan. Then, he gave Erdogan a carrot, that if he makes peace with the Syrian Democratic Forces’ leader General Mazlum Abadi, ‘history will look upon [Erdogan] favorably.’ That didn’t deter Erdogan. Instead, the letter ended up in the trash. It’s obvious to virtually all observers of foreign policy that this type of intimidation would not work, but not to the President.

“Surveying Donald Trump’s brand of personal diplomacy, one wonders whether the President of the United States is committing the fatal sin of mirror imaging.

“Mirror imaging is a cognitive trap that strategists fall into when they mistakenly assume that an adversary will behave the same way they themselves would. It is common—something strategists are wary of and teach inexperienced analysts to avoid. For example, the key mistake made by the United States that led to Pearl Harbor was mirror imaging. The attack surprised American strategists because they would not have made the same decisions had they been in Japan’s position.

“This is a trap that Donald Trump is falling into.

“Based upon his past actions, Donald Trump has made clear there are a few things that incentivize him: personal recognition and financial gain, chief among them. The notoriety and historical significance of being the first president to walk in the Korean demilitarized zone or being the guy who signs a deal with the Taliban to end the Afghanistan War on an anniversary of 9/11 are cases that attest to his desire for grandiosity at the expense of rational strategy. The consequences of his decisions that will come to fruition after he leaves the office are no matter to him.

“It is troubling to imagine then, that he thinks that all leaders function the same way.

“Trump’s most frequently (read: only) used foreign policy tool has been America’s economic power. Whether dealing with the Europeans or the Chinese, whether punishing the Iranians or the Turks, Trump’s only resort has been sanctions and tariffs. Issuing a threat to Turkey to deter it from massacring the Syrian Kurds, Trump vowed to destroy Turkey’s economy if Erdogan went ahead with his plan. Similarly, he has responded to Iran’s growing aggressions since the spring only with sanctions.

“He also tries personal appeasement. Trump infamously praises dictators regularly, even as he is slamming them with economic pressure. He also praises allied country leaders like Macron, Merkel, and May, again, as he is slamming their economies with tariffs and criticisms on military expenditure.

“Donald Trump was a New York real estate developer and TV celebrity. His previous life was almost entirely comprised of materialistic individuals driven by greed and ego. The characters he found himself surrounded by responded to straight-forward personal incentives. World leaders don’t. There are other and often greater factors heads of state take into consideration when they make decisions.

“But Trump thinks that they operate the same way he does, or at least are motivated by a similar type of selfishness. This is why he wrongly assumed that the threat of economic sanctions would deter Erdogan from massacring Syrian Kurds. The same logic applies to his thinking that sanctions would deter Iran in the Persian Gulf, something that hasn’t happened. Similarly, he tried to broker deals with China and North Korea with the stick of economic pressure and carrot of personal appeasement.

“In the case of Turkey, Erdogan has other concerns. He doesn’t want a Kurdish separatist group on his southern border. Fertility rates for Turks and Kurds in Turkey suggest that Turkey’s population could be majority Kurdish within a generation or two, which is unacceptable to Erdogan’s ethno-nationalist vision. These are factors that have never and would never cross Trump’s mind. This is the result of mirror imaging.

“Miscalculations by leaders pose “tremendous” threats to international security. Khrushchev’s miscalculation led to the Cuban missile crisis and almost brought on a nuclear war. Japan’s miscalculation and mirror imaging cost it to absorb two nuclear bombs.

Since the end of World War II, Americans have benefited from reasonably responsible leaders, the quality of our governmental institutions, and our power in most forms. These factors have minimized the costs, number, and magnitude of miscalculations like mirror imaging. As the power gap with our adversaries is narrowing, partially due to their rise and partially due to our self-inflicted wounds, we also must grapple with the fact that we have a leader religiously committed to miscalculations and weakening our institutions.”

Erdogan was highly offended by the language and message in DDT’s letter because he values himself as a strongman. DDT’s condescending language such as “don’t be fool” and DDT has “worked hard to solve some of your problems” shows Erodogan that DDT considers himself superior to the Turkish president. Erdogan sends people to prison for milder language and reacts negatively to criticism from other countries.

At first, Erdogan pretended he didn’t get the letter, and Faik Oztrak of the Republican People’s Party called the letter a “rag.” Former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu tweeted: “The Turkish nation has been insulted. [Erdogan’s planned] U.S. visit must be canceled unless an immediate apology is forthcoming.” Then a government official reported Erdogan’s rejection by saying the letter “was thrown into the trash.”

Fifty-five years ago, Lyndon Johnson wrote Turkish Prime Minister Ismet Inonu about the damage that a Turkish-Greek war would cause to NATO and warned of the Soviet involvement. Johnson threatened that he would not agree to the use of U.S. military equipment if that happened. Turkey didn’t take up arms against Cyprus, but the country restored relationships with the Soviet Union. Anti-Americanism peaked four years later in 1968 with the Vietnam War and western “imperialism.” Erdogan has scheduled talks with Vladimir Putin next week. 

DDT sent this letter during a time of shrinking U.S. popularity among Turks: 81 percent of them pick the U.S. as the greatest threat to Turkey, up from 44 percent three years ago. Last Thursday night, DDT bragged to a rally audience about his wonderful agreement, one that gave up everything for what he called a “ceasefire,” but Turkish forces began bombing Kurds almost immediately after VP Mike Pence, who brokered the non-deal, left Istanbul.

In a bizarre spin, DDT repeated Erdogan’s lies that there was only “minor sniper and mortar fire that was quickly eliminated,” something that the Kurds “want … to happen.” He added that the Kurds should be grateful for this “ultimate solution.”

A series of DDT’s tweets included this one:

“The U.S. has secured the Oil, & the ISIS Fighters are double secured by Kurds & Turkey.”

No and no.

DDT desperately needs praise, and his actions have produced great acclaim from Russia

“Putin won the lottery! Russia’s unexpected triumph in the Middle East. Those who were convinced of Trump’s uselessness for Russia ought to think again… Trump’s mistake in Syria is the unexpected ‘lottery win’ that further strengthened Moscow’s position in the Middle East and undermined America’s prestige as a rational political player and a reliable partner.”—Mikhail Rostovsky in the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.

“All of this benefits the Russian Federation. You know, I’ve been watching Trump’s behavior lately and get seditious thoughts: maybe he really is a Russian agent? He is laboring so hard to strengthen the international image of Russia in general—and Putin in particular…In this situation, Americans—to their chagrin and our enjoyment—are the only losers in this situation.”—Maksim Yusin, editor of international politics at the leading Russian business daily Kommersant

“This is such a pleasure. Russian soldiers have taken an American base under our complete control, without a fight! Trump ran away!”—Olga Skabeeva, host of Russia’s state television program 60 Minutes

“It’s been a long time since America has been humiliated this way. For us, this is of great interest, because this is a key region where energy prices are being determined. That is a shining cherry on top.” —Mikhail Sinelnikov-Orishak, political analyst

 “They ran away in shame! I can’t recall such a scenario since Vietnam. For us, this is of great interest, because this is a key region where energy prices are being determined. That is a shining cherry on top.”

It’s the “art of the deal” from someone who believes that everyone thinks exactly like him.

October 18, 2019

DDT: Week 143 – A World on Fire

Perhaps the best daily rundown of politics comes from Rantt Media, created two years ago. Today’s summary covers the damage of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in Syria:

“President Trump has singlehandedly undone years of progress in Syria, enabled atrocities against our allies, and eroded America’s credibility in a matter of days. The situation in Syria was relatively stable until the self-proclaimed stable genius decided to launch a betrayal of historic proportions and throw the region into chaos.

“On October 6, Trump announced the spontaneous withdrawal of 50-100 troops from Northern Syria and the abandonment of Kurdish forces who helped us diminish ISIS. The announcement came after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who wasted no time commencing his slaughter of the Kurds.

“Since last week, the Kurds have reported at least 218 civilians killed, including 18 children, and 650 injured. More than 160,000 people have been displaced. Over 700 ISIS supporters have fled prisons the Kurds were guarding. There have been reports of white phosphorous used against Kurdish civilians, which would constitute a war crime on the part of Turkey. After all of that, the Trump Administration then cut a deal with Turkey that puts a rubber stamp on all of their goals…

“Turkey’s objective is to push the Kurds out of Northern Syria. What Pence announced was actually that the US is now backing Turkey’s objective and that the Kurds must leave their homeland or be slaughtered. Meanwhile, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and Russia are able to move into newly ceded land. The move was surrender. And before the day was complete, the idea that it was a ‘ceasefire’ at all quickly unraveled when reports of gunfire and shelling began to pour in…

“After the announcement, President Trump claimed this surrender was a victory.”

Rachel Maddow tweeted this summary:

  1. turkey wants to push the kurds out of that part of syria.
  2. trump gives ‘em the OK to invade.
  3. pence brokers a “deal” in which the kurds… must get out of that part of syria.
  4. the US agrees to un-sanction turkey.

After the Kurdish debacle, Budget Director and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney held a press conference and confirmed that he held up military aid to Ukraine to force the country to investigate DDT’s political rival. For months, Republicans, including DDT, claimed no quid pro quo despite evidence that DDT, his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, and DDT’s political appointees illegally tried to extort the Ukrainians into interfering in the 2020 election. Mulvaney justified the extortion with the assertion, “We do that all that time with foreign policy” and then told concerned people “Get over it.” Those close to DDT, including his lawyer Jay Sekulow, disavowed Mulvaney’s statement who then released a statement falsely saying that his words were “misconstrued.” Fox’s Laura Ingraham excused Mulvaney’s “mistake” because Mulvaney isn’t a lawyer. Mulvaney graduated from the law school at the University of North Carolina in 1992 and practiced law for five years.

Mulvaney also announced that DDT will host the 2020 G7 summit at his personally-owned Doral Miami Golf Club in a brazen violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Emolument Clause. The facility has such a bad reputation for cleanliness that the nickname for next year’s G7 meeting is Bedbug Summit. Even Fox journalist Chris Stirewalt was stunned by this announcement and recent events, saying, “The world is on fire.” In 2012, President Barack Obama held the summit at the government-owned retreat at Camp David in Maryland. Eric Trump promised that his father would not overcharge people; the government paid $546 per night for each staffer’s lodging at DDT’s Mar-a-Lago Club. A lawsuit against DDT illegally profiting from foreign and state governments will be heard before the entire 4th Circuit Court on December 12. DDT says that his court defeats are temporary because he’s appointing all the judges.

A detailed look at DDT tax documents with businesses appearing more profitable to lenders and less profitable to tax officials could be “versions of fraud,” according to a tax expert. Taken from DDT’s property tax appeal for nine years, the information comes from expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings with no explanation for multiple inconsistencies. Two former DDT associates, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, went to prison, in part for falsifying tax and bank records, some related to real estate.

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) walked out of DDT’s Wednesday meeting, DDT accused her of having a meltdown. CNN correspondent Jamie Gangel, however, reported that Republicans were seriously alarmed about DDT’s behavior, describing them as “completely shaken,” “shell shocked,” and “sickened.” In public, Republicans defended DDT; in private, they said that he isn’t in control of himself. DDT’s frenetic frustration with the impeachment inquiry was demonstrated with a massive number of tweets—almost 50 of them five days after the impeachment inquiry started and many more since then. Hashtags started using the term “meltdown” after DDT’s erratic behavior during a press conference with the Finnish president, and comments about DDT’s mental fitness accelerated. Since that time, he’s played the martyr, heckler, autocrat, projectionist, conspiracist, and bully.  

Giuliani may have a connection to Dmitry Firtash’s attempt to avoid extradition to the U.S. Firtash’s associates worked to get dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for Giuliani’s help in Firtash’s legal case. Fox consultant Joe deGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing, both lawyers, billed Firtash $1 million that included costs for Lev Parnas, Giuliani’s associate who has been arrested for violating campaign-finance laws. Part of the “dirt” was a witness statement from Viktor Shokin, a former Ukrainian prosecutor-general, that helped Giuliani renew his conspiracy theory about Biden’s attempt to help his son in Ukraine. In June, diGenova and Toensing’s son, Brady Toensing, joined the DOJ as senior counsel in the Office of Legal Policy.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to break up the team that assesses the environmental impacts of major projects on the nation’s public lands and spread them across seven states. The Department of Interior already announced it would move Grand Junction (CO) in a building shared by Chevron with 300 staffers moved across the West. Only 61 employees would stay in D.C. The strategy seems to be a dismantling of the agency and its ability to conduct energy development.

In his claim to “drain the swamp,” DDT has thus far appointed 1 lobbyist for each 14 political appointments—a total of 261.

DDT’s Miami resort, Doral, was the site of a conservative event featuring Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Donald Trump Jr. The “entertainment” included a video with DDT in a church setting, slaughtering church worshipers and representatives of CNN, NPR, MSNBC and Black Lives Matter as well as politicians such as the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Hillary Clinton in the “Church of Fake News.” DDT never responded.

Conference-goers also chanted, “War! War!” after Pastor Mark Burns told the crowd three times, “We’ve come to declare war!” A white radio host Wayne Allyn Root also bragged about beating up black students at his high school and saying “it was funny.” Root added, “To win in politics … you’ve got to be a natural-born killer.”

Red-meat lovers rejoiced at a study that eating red meat isn’t the health problem purported in the past. Seems that the study was done by a group partially funded by the beef industry. Sort of like studies that Monsanto and GMO foods aren’t dangerous being subsidized by Monsanto.

It’s pretty shady when your international business success is all about your father’s name, Donald Trump Jr. said. DDT said that it was wrong that Hunter Biden make money off his father’s name. That was the same day that DDT said that the 2020 G7 summit would be at his personal resort, making him millions of dollars and charging taxpayers more millions of dollars for permanent upgrades–all also benefiting the man who carries DDT’s name, Donald Trump, Jr.

DDT was up to 13,435 false claims in his first 995 days, an average of 22 per day since the last check on April 26, 2019 and a drastic increase from the 5 to 7 during his first year. Ukraine alone accounts for over 250 lies in the past few weeks. One of the most dangerous was his accusation that Kurds deliberately released ISIS prisoners to get the U.S. involved in the conflict. The Kurds have always been U.S. allies. 

The wife of a U.S. senior spy killed a 19-year-old motorcycle rider in Britain because she didn’t know which side of the road to drive on and then fled the country. DDT wants to introduce her to the dead man’s parents in front of a gaggle of reporters. DDT defended the wife by saying that drivers have to “be careful” when driving on “opposite roads.” In Virginia, the woman had been ticketed for failing to “pay full time and attention.”

DDT’s approval ratings averaged 40.7% during his 11th quarter in office, beginning on July 20 and ending on October 19 and a two-percent drop from the previous quarter.

October 17, 2019

DDT: Kurds Need to be ‘Cleaned Out’

Eleven days after Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) blew up the Middle East by pulling 50 U.S. service members helping Kurds in northern Syria, he declares victory by allowing Turkey to take over northern Syria and drive the Kurds, U.S. allies, from their land (green area). In the “agreement,” the U.S. will help Turkey fight “terrorists” (the term that Turkey uses for all Kurds) and protect the “safe zone” (the Kurdish land).

Because of DDT’s telephone call with Turkey, hundreds of ISIS supporters, including many leaders, have escaped from camps where the Kurds were keeping them, and U.S. troops were attacked by Turkey, supposedly a NATO ally of the U.S.

The end result for the United States is that ISIS now has a place to rebuild its forces, the world knows that the U.S. is unreliable, and DDT supported another autocrat. The U.S. even bombed its own base in an attempt to avoid embarrassment about its disorganized pullout. Europeans also further separate themselves from the United States. 

Tonight, DDT stayed indifferent to the plight of a former U.S. ally by saying that the area earlier occupied by Kurds has been “cleaned out,” a term for genocide. About the conflict that he generated, DDT said, “Sometimes you have to let them fight. It’s like two kids in a lot, you got to let them fight and then you pull them apart.” In this case, the “fight” displaced over 100,000 Kurds, causing them to lose their homes and killing many of them, while permitting Turkey to annex part of Syria. 

Turkey got everything it wanted, and DDT gave Vladimir Putin another favor. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said Trump’s decision to abandon Kurdish allies in Syria “will stand as a bloodstain in the annals of American history.” Brett McGurk, former civilian head of the administration’s U.S.-led counter-IS campaign, wrote that the deal was a gift to the Turks “with no ability to meaningfully influence facts on the ground” and “non-implementable.”

VP Mike Pence and State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo brokered the deal that gave away Syrian land to Turkey. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was far more clear about the strategy, saying that the only reason for the 120-hour hiatus was to allow Kurds to flee their homes. The U.S. has no way to monitor the agreement, and ISIS will have the land to build their forces.

Every day since DDT’s call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been a disaster as he moved between surprise and disaster. His October 6 proclamation showed that he knew Turkey would attack the Kurds. Twelve hours later he threatened Turkey and then said that any conflict was not his problem. Three days later he wrote Erogan a letter that looks like a joke from beginning: 

“Let’s work out a good deal! You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people ….”

To his conclusion: “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!” 

After nine days, he doubled tariffs on steel, increasing the percentage to the same as last May which had caused imports to sharply fall by 76 percent. He also lied about putting tariffs on the $100 billion in trade: reality is closer to $24 billion. DDT imposed sanctions on Turkey’s defense and energy ministries, as well as some high-profile Turkish officials. With these ineffectual measures, a bipartisan congressional coalition considered targeting Erdogan’s U.S. assets and suspending U.S. military support. For months, senators worked on bipartisan sanctions required by law to punish Turkey’s purchase of an advanced Russian antimissile system.

ISIS has reason to thank DDT: U.S. air surveillance turned from them to U.S. troops in an attempt to protect them from attacks by Turkey. Earlier this week, DDT tweeted:

“After defeating 100% of the ISIS Caliphate, I largely moved our troops out of Syria. Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land. I said to my Generals, why should we be fighting for Syria….”

As usual, DDT lied. The caliphate is not defeated, and DDT didn’t single-handedly win any victories.

Iran also benefits from DDT’s laissez faire toward the crisis. Monday, he tweeted indifference about the conflict because we are 7,000 miles away!” Russia moved into the vacuum that DDT left in northern Syria into a military outpost that the U.S. abandoned, and Vladimir Putman may be replacing DDT in Saudi Arabia, as indicated by Putin’s meeting with King Salman. China, alienated by DDT’s trade war, has reached out to Russia, and India is being folded into their partnership. Russia and China have joined in military exercises for joint power, and they work together in energy and aerospace. India’s external affairs minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, has said for two years that his country needs a relationship of “stability,” which doesn’t represent the United States. Together China, Russia, and India comprise over 36 percent of the world’s population; the United States has under 5 percent.

DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has also taken a part in Turkey in Erdogan’s desired attempted extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, hoping to send Gulen back to his death in Turkey. Living in exile for the past 20 years in Pennsylvania, Gulen is blamed for plotting the 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan but denied any involvement in the plot. White House aides worried that Giuliani is working on behalf of the Turkish government. DDT frequently questioned officials about why Gulen shouldn’t be turned over to “my friend” Erdogan although officials explained that the extradition was illegal and would politically damage DDT. Giuliani’s aggressive work at Gulen’s extradition began after Michael Flynn, in prison for lying about his paid work for Turkey, lobbied DDT for the same purpose. Giuliani was also behind the attempt to stop prosecution of a Turkish Iranian man for money laundering which could violate lobbying laws.  

Advisers had told DDT that not doing anything about the Kurdish issue is costly, the lack of U.S. presence in the region strengthens Iran, and he will be politically damaged by the deteriorating situation. Another problem with Turkey is that the U.S. has stored as many as 50 nuclear weapons in the country at Incirlik, public knowledge because DDT frequently discloses sensitive information. On Wednesday, he appeared to confirm information about the weapons’ location which the U.S. attempts to hide. DDT claimed the weapons were safe because “we have a great air base there—a very powerful air base.” According to Vipin Narang, a nuclear proliferation expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Incirlik is Turkey’s air base.”

DDT has caused deaths in the United States with his endorsement of violence. Now he tacitly grants Turkey the right to kill Kurds. In the humanitarian disaster of the Turkish invasion, at least 100,000 Kurds have been displaced. Last weekend, Turkish-backed military executed Kurds, including a women human-rights activist. In 2018, when DDT was resistant to U.S. troops in Syria, the Pentagon and State Department persuaded Kurds not to plan for a U.S. departure. Without this betrayal, Kurds could have eased out of the relationship and moved on to a partnership with Syria and Russia. Instead, they were forced into a crisis.

Once again, DDT demonstrated his indifference to human life when he said yesterday that the Kurds would be fine because they “know how to fight.” He added, “There’s a lot of sand they can play with.” In a meeting with congressional leaders, he called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) a “third-grade politician” and referred to former Defense Secretary James Mattis the “world’s most overrated general” after the House bipartisan resolution criticizing DDT’s pulling troops out of northern Syria. The vote was 354 to 60 with three Republicans and independent Rep. Justin Amash (MI) voting present. Although the GOP leadership were among the 129 Republican supporting the resolution, opposition came from the leaders of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, the co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus Tom Reed (R-NY), and VP Mike Pence’s brother Greg Pence (R-IN).  

In his delusion, DDT claimed that he himself “captured” the Islamic State after accusing Mattis not being “tough enough.” He falsely declared that U.S. soldiers “are totally safe” although they were “bracketed” by artillery fire by Turkey, supposedly a NATO ally, and may need to be airlifted away from Turkish attacks. DDT pulled out military forces with no contingency plan, no idea of how to rescue the troops under attack.

DDT briefly broke up his beautiful friendship sometime sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who said that DDT “will have American blood on his hands if he abandons Kurds because ISIS will come back, and if any American is killed anywhere because a resurgent ISIS, it will fall on the Trump administration like it did Obama.” Like other tiffs between DDT and Graham, the senator will likely back off: he thinks he needs DDT to get reelected next year. 

The goal of Republicans now is to convince their base, including the evangelicals, that killing the Kurds is a good idea.

 

October 16, 2019

Donald of the Thousand Days

Fifty years ago, the popular film Anne of the Thousand Years told the story of Anne Boleyn’s three years of tenure before England’s King Henry VIII had her beheaded so that he could marry another woman. Although she ruled for slightly more than 1,000 days, the title may reflect on the downward spiral of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) during his first thousand days. A few memorable moments from those days.

Last March, DDT wanted to shoot migrants—including asylum seekers—so that they wouldn’t cross the southern border. Told that this was illegal, he wanted to shoot them in the legs to slow them down as Israelis do to Palestinians. His Department of Homeland Security told him that shooting migrants was illegal, starting his purge of over a dozen top officials from the DHS. DDT didn’t quit: he decided that he wanted to electrify his border wall, fortify it with spikes to pierce human flesh, and build a moat (which he spelled “moot”) stocked with snakes and alligators. He even asked aides for a cost estimate of his plans. Peter Singer has created one, available here. Costs: $2.5 billion in set-up costs for snakes and alligators, $1.8 billion for annual operating costs; and several billion dollars for building the moat. DDT’s incessant, punitive and sometimes illegal attack on immigrants is chronicled in Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D. Shear.

One of the most humorous episodes of DDT’s 1,000 days is his desire to buy Greenland. He even cancelled his state visit to Denmark because Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said she wouldn’t sell Greenland to him. The Danish newspaper Politiken published a satiric piece in which Kim Kielsen, Premier of Greenland, suggested his government might buy the U.S. back. The author parodied an interview with Kielsen saying Greenland has a prior claim on the U.S. because Leifr “The Lucky” Eiríksson was the first European to settle America. Kielsen said no price had been established, but Greenland would take into consideration the vast U.S. debt and lower the price if DDT were included in the deal. (Technically, Eiríksson, although spending part of his childhood in Greenland and some of his adulthood working for the Norwegian court, was born in Iceland.)

Although DDT tweeted that he didn’t plan to build one of his towers in Greenland, his son Jr. took the photo seriously, cheering that this building could be finished within ten years. 

DDT did joke about trading Puerto Rico for Greenland, and Puerto Ricans are delighted with the possibility. A man tweeted about the improvement of education because “Denmark is the country with the best education in the world.” Nieto, a Puerto Rican podcaster, shared photos of his Danish “Starter Kit” with “Danish Delights” butter cookies, the TV show Vikings, and Danish beer. Others included a Danish-to-Spanish dictionary on their “Starter Kits.” Another tweet added a picture of a “Conversational Danish” reading book. Using the hashtags #DenmarkPR and #DinamarcaPR, Denmark in Spanish, Puerto Ricans claimed the Danish royal family with perks of being a Danish territory, “representation in the Europe [League] and possibly in the World Cup.”

People around the world now know that Greenland isn’t for sale, but tourism searches soared after DDT’s unrequited demand.

DDT already showed Denmark his antagonism when he sent them Carla Sand as the U.S. ambassador. The wealthy widow of a billionaire and climate denier who promotes QAnon conspiracy theories such as a fake video reportedly about blacks hitting a white woman DDT supporter bought her position for under $300,000. The cancellation of his visit less than two weeks before the event—a visit which DDT initiated—was a snub that cost both countries money and provided more reason for the European Union not to trust him to follow through with his promises. Denmark had already organized discussions about increasing investments in the United States. 

Some people speculated that DDT also cancelled his visit to avoid comparison with President Obama, who visit a few weeks after DDT’s aborted visit. DDT has always been jealous of the former president because of how well liked the former president is–and how much better he looks as shown by their visits to England. Or neo-Nazi aide Stephen Miller told DDT to avoid those “globalists” in his campaign term. 

In another baffling episode, delusional DDT told 9/11 First Responders that he had helped at Ground Zero:

“And I was down there also …. I spent a lot of time down there with you.”

Retired New York City Fire Department Deputy Chief Richard Alles stated he never heard of a group of rescuers hired by DDT to assist, as DDT claimed, and that additional help from private responders had not been necessary. Ground Zero was on lockdown by 9/15/01, and a government-issued ID badge was required to access the site. DDT’s claim that he “helped” clear rubble adds to the other lies about his involvement in assistance after the tragedy. One gas station owner went a step farther in promising free gas on any day that DDT “doesn’t say something stupid.” 

DDT told the AMVETS, a volunteer-led veterans service organization, that his aides talked him out of giving himself a Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for acts of military valor. A reminder: during the Vietnam War, DDT avoided the military with five deferments, four for college and one for bone spurs in his heel. He made this comment shortly after he named himself “the Chosen One” in his administration’s trade conflict with China and looked up at the sky to make his point clear. In Australia, he told his audience he gave himself bogus awards all the time, but he wasn’t lying because he received them from himself.

Medals are important to DDT also ordered the Navy Achievement Medals awarded to four prosecutors in the Eddie Gallagher case be rescinded. The Navy SEAL platoon turned Gallagher in for stabbing a captured and wounded teenage fighter repeatedly in the neck and then threatened to kill those who reported him. Yet DDT sold a Medal of “Freedom” to Miriam Adelson for campaign donations. She and her husband, Sheldon, gave $500,000 to a legal fund for DDT’s aides involved in the Russian scandal investigation. This “freedom” donation topped the $30 million DDT received from the Adelsons in late 2016 and the $100 million to GOP candidates and PACs for the 2018 election. They also donated $5 million to DDT’s inaugural committee. In return for their largesse, DDT moved the Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. Created by John F. Kennedy, the Medal of Freedom is awarded for “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Sheldon Adelson received $670 million in the first quarter of 2018 because of DDT’s tax cuts for the wealthy and big business, and DDT lobbied Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to allow construction of a casino owned by one of Adelson’s companies. DDT displayed other forms of gratitude for donations. For prolific GOP donor Robert Murray, DDT pressured the Tennessee Valley Authority to save an old, unprofitable coal plant that buys its coal from Murray Energy. EPA Secretary Andrew Wheeler is an ex-lobbyist for Murray. DDT stopped negotiating lower drug prices after Pfizer gave $1 million to DDT’s inaugural fund.

DDT topped off his 1000 days by posting this photograph of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) shut down his insane comments about Syria by saying that “all roads with you lead to Putin.” He thought he could embarrass Pelosi with the caption of “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!” Pelosi now uses the photo of DDT’s personal meltdown on her Twitter account, and the image shows his bewilderment and the ducked heads around the room.  

For the past 1000 days, DDT has run the United States like a Banana Republic for his personal gain:

  • He relentlessly demonizes the press, putting journalists’ lives at risks by calling for violence against them.
  • He undermines a federal criminal investigation and claims that he is above the law, even above any scrutiny.
  • He interferes with election results and voting rights, for example trying to throw out Arizona’s election results when Democrat Kyrsten Sinema received more votes than GOP Martha McSally. 
  • He pardons crimes for ideological reasons, for example when he pardoned Arizona’s former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio in an “endorsement of racism” and “deep disdain for the judiciary,” according to Chiraag Bains, senior fellow at Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy Program.
  • He shamelessly monetizes the position of president by not divesting from real estate holdings and hiring his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner who also keep running their businesses.

In DDT’s first 1000 days, he spent 310 days at his resorts and 239 days playing golf at his courses. He daily lies, with a total of at least  13,435, and makes “stupid” comments, something that this gas station owner noted.

 

October 14, 2019

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Today eleven states, 128 state and local municipalities, and the District of Columbia recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a holiday instead of Columbus Day. In 1989, the movement to change the commemoration of the day from Christopher Columbus began in South Dakota although the federal government sticks with Columbus Day. South Dakota calls its holiday “Native American Day,” and Hawaii honors “Discovers’ Day” to pay homage to Polynesian voyagers. (This map is available in interactive format here.) 

Seventy-nine percent of college students support the acknowledgement of Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of the national holiday for Columbus that was created in 1937.

There are good reasons to drop the adulation of the racist and genocidal Columbus, who never landed on the coast of what is now the United States.

On Columbus’ first voyage in 1492 to present-day Bahamas, he enslaved the Taínos, a civilization that he called curious and friendly. His exploitation of the island’s inhabitants and the theft of their land set the tone for European conquests of the Americas. With an African slave on his voyages, he laid the foundation for slavery in America.

Governor and viceroy of the Indies, the tyrant Columbus was known for being a brutal autocrat, generally hated by the people. He cut off the nose and ears of a man stealing corn before he sold him into slavery. After a woman said that Columbus was of lowly birth, his brother Bartolomé cut out her tongue, stripped her naked, and paraded her around the colony on a mule. The two men were finally ordered back to Spain because of being power mad.

Columbus was known for his sexual abuse of women, his focus on finding gold, and his total disregard for humanity. He saw people of color as obstacles and treated them with extreme cruelty. Only a few hundred Tainos remained of the 250,000 on the Bahamas when Columbus landed 60 years earlier because he cut off their hands, gave them diseases, and destroyed their way of life.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) announced a proclamation to celebrate Columbus Day rather than Indigenous Peoples Day.

“Today, we commemorate this great explorer, whose courage, skill, and drive for discovery are at the core of the American spirit. The bold legacy of Columbus and his crew spun a thread that weaves through the extensive history of Americans who have pushed the boundaries of exploration.”

The purpose of Columbus Day was to overcome the severe discrimination and violence against Italians who immigrated to the United States in the nineteenth century. In designating the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Bahamas, President Benjamin Harrison described the man from Genoa as a “pioneer of progress and enlightenment.”

Those who celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day honor the millions of natives who lived in the Western Hemisphere before Columbus’ reign of terror. As a nation, we deserve better than to use the name of a vicious, violent, power-hungry, racist man as a symbol of the United States.

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