Nel's New Day

November 10, 2019

Open Impeachment Inquiry Hearings: Follow the Money

Despite frantic tweets from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and vehement denials from GOP lawmakers, the impeachment inquiry proceedings move forward this week with televised hearings. The focus will be on “three interrelated lines of inquiry“:

Did DDT ask a foreign leader for investigations to help his personal political interests, including an investigation into DDT’s political rival and possible opponent in the 2020 election?

Did DDT use the Office of the President to pressure Ukraine for his own personal political interests, including leveraging a White House meeting with Ukraine’s president or withholding U.S. military aid?

Did DDT and his administration try to hide information from Congress and the U.S. people about DDT’s actions and behavior, thus seeking to obstruct, suppress, or cover up information?

In closed-door hearings, GOP representatives tried to avoid these inquiries, for example asking about Marie Yovanovitch’s national heritage. (Her father fled the Soviet Union and then the Nazis; her mother grew up “stateless” in Germany. They moved to the United States when Marie was three.) Other questions tried to whitewash evidence from the Mueller investigation, and one member asked Yovanovitch whether her staff “monitored” the social media account of an alt-right conspiracy theorist who accused a pizzeria as being the site of a fictional Democratic pedophile ring. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), former chair of the Intelligence Committee who leaked information to the White House, questioned the origins of the FBI Russia investigation and pushed accusations of bias in the DOJ.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) gave GOP Intelligence Committee members inquiry parameters for witnesses, but Republicans want to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter by calling them as witnesses. Other GOP witness requests were for Hunter Biden’s business partner Devon Archer; the unnamed whistleblower who DDT and GOP lawmakers are determined to out; the researcher Nellie Ohr of Fusion GPS which commissioned a dossier about Russia and Trump; and Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian American who worked with the Democratic National Committee. Schiff said that Democrats would evaluate the GOP requests for witnesses but added:

“[The inquiry] will not serve … as a vehicle to undertake the same sham investigations into the Bidens or 2016 that the President pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit, or to facilitate the President’s effort to threaten, intimidate, and retaliate against the whistleblower who courageously raised the initial alarm.”

DDT announced that he will release a “transcript” of an April call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, perhaps hoping that it will wipe out the damaging July 25 extortion call. The public and Congress still have no access to the complete transcript of the July 25 call.

Republicans focused their defense of DDT’s extortion by claiming that former VP Joe Biden secured Hunter Biden’s position on a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, during Joe Biden’s time in the executive branch. Hunter worked for Burisma from 2014 to 2019, sometimes earning as much as $50,000 a month, but extensive investigations found no relationship between Hunter’s job and Joe’s influence. Other attacks on Joe Biden without evidence come from far-right conspiracy theorists evolving from attempts by DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to get a corruption inquiry dropped for an associate of Russian organized crime.

Giuliani’s and DDT’s corruption with Ukraine have business purposes indicated by their connection with Lev Parnas, arrested for campaign finance violation and planning to testify before the House. Businessmen used their connections with Giuliani and DDT, hoping to install new board members on Ukraine’s state gas company, Naftogaz, and get lucrative contracts. Part of the scheme, recently resigned Energy Secretary Rick Perry, had proposed a donor as a board member but refused to testify before the House. Sources claim Perry asked DDT to make his July 25 call to Zelensky and represented the U.S. at Zelensky’s inauguration while DDT was still extorting the new Ukrainian president. Federal prosecutors are investigating Giuliani.

A loud voice pushing the lie that Joe Biden’s position benefited Hunter came from Donald Trump Jr. On Sean Hannity’s Fox show to tout his new book, Triggered, DDT’s namesake said:

“I wish my name was Hunter Biden. I could go abroad, make millions off of my father’s presidency. I’d be a really rich guy.”  

Supposedly in charge of the Trump Organization, Trump Jr. has repeatedly leveraged political connections for business deals—selling condos in India for a Trump-branded property and fighting to save a Trump property by asking the president of Panama to intervene for him. Taxpayers paid for his travel. China gave a large number of trademarks to Ivanka Trump, who receives about $4 million each year from the DDT-promoted hotel chain, and her husband, Jared Kushner, has sold over $100 million worth of Trump Organization property since DDT’s election.

DDT’s son, Eric Trump, said, “When my father became commander in chief of this country, we got out of all international business, right?” Unbelievably wrong as this article shows. Eric also whined about Hunter’s advantages that are actually those of Eric:

“Money grows on trees, there are no rules, and the press will always cover for you ….”

Trumps’ views on nepotism:

“I like nepotism. I think, you know, a lot of people say, ‘Oh, nepotism.’ Usually these are people without children. But I like nepotism.”–DDT

Nepotism is “kind of a factor of life” and a “beautiful thing.”—Eric Trump

As for DDT’s newly-discovered concern for corruption, he, along with Ivanka, participated in a hotel development deal in Azerbaijan, which ranks 152nd out of 180 on Transparency International’s index of the world’s most corrupt countries. The Trumps partnered with the son of the country’s then-transportation minister, Ziya Mammadov, described in a U.S. diplomatic cable as “notoriously corrupt, even for Azerbaijan.” The Mammadov family has been connected to a corrupt scheme involving operatives from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. In Brazil, Trump partnered with Paulo Figueiredo, later arrested for his part in diverting pension funds into real estate developments, including the one with DDT. Just a bit of DDT’s corruption.

In a GOP strategy for impeachment inquiry hearings, House Minority Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) transferred Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) to the Intelligence Committee because of Jordan’s aggressive questioning. Jordan faces possible lawsuits about at least eight ex-OSU wrestlers asserting that he ignored sexual abuse reports while Jordan was an assistant coach at Ohio State University from 1987 to 1995. A male student said Jordan shrugged when he told Jordan about sexual abuse by school doctor Richard Strauss. A recent witness said that Jordan “snickered” when he told Jordan about the abuse. Jordan replied, “I have nothing to do with this” before walking away. Originally, Jordan said he knew nothing about the abuse and then shifted to claim that “conversations in a locker room” aren’t the same. The head coach who Jordan worked for apparently knew about the claims. Defending Jordan, DDT and GOP lawmakers followed their pattern of supporting sexual abusers and their enablers unless they are registered Democrats.  

Strauss was accused of sexually abusing almost 300 men during a 17-year period. Ohio State knows of 1,429 cases of fondling and 47 cases of rape by Strauss, who killed himself in 2005. The most recent lawsuit is the 13th against the school, and an attorney said that this information “barely scratches the surface.”

Republicans are caught in a bind of bribery and blackmail. DDT will campaign against anyone who doesn’t support his every action, and he has promised to give money to senators who don’t appear to be 100-percent behind him. Those who face a tight election and sign a resolution condemning the inquiry as “unprecedented and undemocratic” may receive campaign funds; those who have offended him get nothing.

GOP senators benefiting from DDT’s largesse are Cory Gardner (CO), Joni Ernst (IA), David Perdue (GA) and Thom Tillis (NC). DDT also plans to appear at a reception for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s PAC. Receiving no money, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) not only didn’t sign the resolution but also called for a retraction of his tweet comparing impeachment and “lynching” and said that DDT made a “big mistake” asking China to investigate the Bidens. Martha McSally (AZ) was also overlooked in DDT’s gifts because she won’t use WinRed, the DDT-endorsed online fundraising site.

For the 2020 election, 22 Republican senatorial seats are up for election, and the GOP senators on the ballot are behind in fundraising. In the first ten months of the 116th Congress, Jonny Isakson (GA), Mike Enzi (WY), Pat Roberts (KS), and Lamar Alexander (TN) announced that they won’t run for re-election in 2020. About DDT’s donations to some of the GOP senators, Richard Painter, George W. Bush’s top ethics lawyer, tweeted:

“Any other American who offered cash to the jury before a trial would go to prison for felony bribery. But he can get away with it? Criminal.”

DDT and GOP lawmakers sent out a hue and cry for public hearings—until they were announced. Now Republicans use the same decibel level to decry the public hearings that start this week. Follow the money.

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 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.

 

September 28, 2019

Ukraine the Icing on the Corruption

Filed under: Foreign policy,Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 11:47 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

The focus of the impeachment comes from the intent of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to find “dirt” on Joe Biden and accuse him of threatening a prosecutor in Ukraine. Here’s the background.   

Viktor Shokin was prosecutor general of Ukraine from February 2015 to March 2016. A large consensus of Western nations pushed for his ouster because they believed he was in the center of the country’s corruption. The United States was part of the consensus to remove Shokin, and VP Biden was one of the leaders in that effort. Therefore, he threatened to withhold U.S. loan guarantees from Ukraine while Shokin continued to use his position for corruption. At the same time, Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, also threatened to withdraw financial support for Ukraine unless it solved its corruption problem. In February 2016, Shokin’s deputy prosecutor, Vitaly Kaska, resigned because of cronyism and corruption in the office. Because the coalition decided that Shokin must leave office, the Ukrainian voted to remove him from office a month later.

Shokin investigated a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings, while he was in office. Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, was on Burisma’s board and paid $50,000 a month. The investigation was quickly closed, however, by the time that VP Biden threatened to withhold financial aid, possibly because the “investigation” was an extortion attempt of the company’s owner, Myola Zlochevsky. Biden didn’t block anyone from investigating Burisma. Shokin’s successor, Yuiy Lutsenko, also investigated Burisma before closing the case ten months later but “did not prosecute any serious criminal during his 3 years in office,” according to Ukraine expert Anders Åslund. After waiting two years, Lutsenko reopened the case after Biden’s decision to run for president and DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani inviting him to New York and meeting with him in January. In April, Lutsenko admitted any implications of Biden and other U.S. Democrats were false and withdrew his claim that he had been told not to investigate a list of possible suspects. DDT lied about it and continued his false allegations. Lutsenko is now gone after new Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky asked for his removal. Wanting the Biden issue back into the news, DDT has sent associates such as Rudy Guiliani to Ukraine to push for an investigation and called Zelensky in late July, asking for the investigation to be reopened as a “favor” in the same conversation about the U.S. offers to help Ukraine against Russian aggression.

The story about DDT’s shakedown of Zelensky for renewed investigation despite lack of corruption contains two conspiracies: the work of DDT, Giuliani, AG Bill Barr, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to denigrate Biden and the coverup on the complaint of how they were carrying out the first conspiracy. The impeachment inquiry is now focused on DDT’s treachery against the United States by using Ukraine for his own person benefit. But his global pattern of defending a corrupt foreign official and using a foreign government to fight his domestic political opponents for personal gain while circumventing or removing U.S. security officials in his way are part of a pattern throughout the world.

Russia: DDT defended collaboration with Russia and get their campaign help to win the 2016 election. In July 2016, he asked Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails and said he had “no pause” in “asking a foreign government—Russia, China, anybody—to interfere, to hack … anybody in this country.” In 2017, DDT said he saw no difference between getting help from the U.S. and help from Russia. DDT frequently says that the U.S. is no better than Russia and defended Vladimir Putin’s killing dissidents by saying that the U.S. isn’t “so innocent.” He praised Putin for being “a leader, you know, unlike what we have in this country,” in a reference to President Obama. In one press conference last month, DDT declared that Putin had “outsmarted” Obama, protected Putin from intelligence reports that he interfered in the 2016 U.S. election, and denounced the intelligence agencies, calling their agents liars and hacks. DDT blamed President Obama for Putin’s annexing Crimea and tried to get Russia reinstated into the former G8.

North Korea: DDT declares that Kim Jong-Un is not testing nuclear weapons and, when proved wrong, says that he doesn’t care. Kim is still testing missiles. Imitating Kim, DDT ridicules U.S. officials and policians like Kim does, for example, repeatedly applauding Kim for calling Joe Biden a “fool of low IQ.” In June, DDT ridiculed President Obama by falsely saying that he was “begging for meetings [with meetings] constantly.” After North Korea denounced national security adviser John Bolton as a “human defect” and asked that Bolton vanish, DDT fired Bolton and defended North Korea.

Saudi Arabia: DDT continues the U.S. pattern of protecting the Saudis and expanded it by protecting crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, from U.S. intelligence that shows MBS directed the torture and dismemberment of a U.S. resident, journalist Jamal Khashoggi. After the CIA concluded that MBS was behind the killing, DDT lied when he claimed that the CIA “didn’t make a determination.” He also refused a congressional directive to issue a legally mandated report on Khashoggi’s death and refused to have the FBI look into the case, saying that “nobody so far has pointed directly a finger” at MBS. When about the CIA implication of MBS, DDT said,  MBS, DDT replied, “I just don’t want to talk about intelligence.” DDT also plans to deploy at least 200 personnel as well as missile defense and radar equipment to Saudi Arabia with more planned, despite no commitment from other nations to protect the kingdom.

China: In DDT’s trade war, he consistently blames, the U.S. and not China while punishing people in the United States with fines from tariffs. He also finds China’s Communist government superior to U.S. democracy. In talking about funding the wall, he said, “I find China, frankly, in many ways, to be far more honorable than Cryin’ Chuck and Nancy [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)]. I really do. I think that China is actually much easier to deal with than the opposition party.” While the war weakens U.S. economy, China plans to invest in Iran’s fossil fuels to the benefit of both countries but a bad deal for the U.S. Trade between China and U.S. is shrinking on both sides with raised tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s imports. Another increase by U.S. comes on October 15.

Israel: DDT blocked two Democratic congresswomen from going to Israel by urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials to refuse them and telling him that allowing the women into Israel would look weak. Israel had originally thought that denying entry to members of Congress is offensive. He also puts Israel before the United States, especially when he said, “Any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat [were] being very disloyal to Israel.” In a speech to Jewish-Americans, he called Netanyahu “your prime minister.”

Turkey: DDT consistently excuses Turkish aggression against the United States and his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a Turkish foreign agent who had blocked the arming of U.S. allies, anti-ISIS Kurds. DDT sympathized with the authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after he assaulted protesters in Washington and tried to illegally expel Turkish dissident Fethullah Gülen who Erdogan would kill. Defense Secretary James Mattis protested the abandonment of the Kurds, and DDT fired him.

Iran: DDT broke a successful anti-nuclear deal with no good reason, put heavy sanctions on Iran, and then cried wolf when the Iranians began to retaliate. He sent a U.S. drone just 20 miles outside Iranian airspace, photographed installations within the country, and tried to take over one of their ships in Gibralter. When he lacked support from other countries, some of them U.S. allies, he threatened to sanction them also. And he picks national security advisers who want war with Iran.

Afghanistan: The U.S. continues to kill civilians, recently 30 Afghanistan civilians resting after harvesting pine nuts. The drone strike also wounded another 40 farmers and laborers. Of the 150 people at the harvest, some are still missing. Almost 4,000 civilians were killed or wounded in the first half of 2019, a huge increase in casualties inflicted by government and US-led foreign forces. Afghanistan now has a record opium harvest, producing 90 percent of the world’s supply, which worsened since the U.S.-led invasion. Marine occupation cut back on production, but lack of foreign aid drove people back to farming poppies.

Venezuela: DDT is still trying to effect a coup in the South American country, this time by tripling aid, taking money from Honduras and Guatemala and giving it directly to DDT’s puppet Juan Guaidó. The aid is badly needed after the heavy sanctions that DDT placed on the country to oust democratically-elected President Nicholas Maduro. 

DDT’s foreign policy comes from his perception that he’s an enemy to former presidents. He demeans domestic critics by talking about U.S. inferiority, and he constantly attacks U.S. intelligence officials. His tweeted smears of people loyal to the United States are accelerating and becoming more vicious. All of DDT’s corruption has one reason–personal gain.

September 22, 2019

Evangelicals Killing Christianity in U.S

Christian evangelicals were largely responsible for electing Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in 2016, but their politics are driving people away from organized religion, according to a recent analysis in fivethirtyeight.com. Michele Margolis, a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of From Politics to the Pews: How Partisanship and the Political Environment Shape Religious Identity, said:

“Politics can drive whether you identify with a faith, how strongly you identify with that faith, and how religious you are. And some people on the left are falling away from religion because they see it as so wrapped up with Republican politics.”

In the early 1990s, less than ten percent of people in the U.S. lacked a formal religious affiliation, with liberals having about the same percentage as the general public. Twenty-five years later, almost 25 percent have no affiliation with a religion, and 40 percent of liberals are part of that group. The share of conservatives and moderates with no religion is also rising. By now, most people’s ideology matches their religious identity. The more liberal the person, the less likely to belong to a faith, and vice versa. 

Many religiously unaffiliated still believe in God, but the percentage of liberals who never attend religious services has tripled. Those in the U.S. who say that God exists fell from 53 percent in 1991 to 36 percent in 2018.

In the past, politics weren’t connected to loss of faith; reasons were a church scandal or the feeling that a religion’s hierarchies or rules were antiquated, restrictive, or irrelevant. Searches into the connection between politics and faith were carefully done because the view that politics can shape religious beliefs can be offensive. Two sociologists, Michael Hout and Claude Fischer, did look beyond conventional demographic and generational shifts to find reasons for changes of falling religious affiliation in the mid-1990s, particularly among liberals. Published in 2002, their results offer the theory that some left-leaning people walked away from religion because of the Christian right’s extensive participation in politics, especially when the white evangelical Protestants became controlling in focusing the GOP platform on sexual morality such as opposition to marriage equality and abortion. 

Exploring that theory, prominent political researchers discovered that people leaving a religious affiliation kept their political identities instead of a growing secular attitude moving them toward the left. One study showed that just reading a news story about a Republican who spoke in a church might cause Democrats to claim they were nonreligious in “an allergic reaction to the mixture of Republican politics and religion,” according to David Campbell, a co-author of the study and political scientist at the University of Notre Dame. The numbers began to increase, and liberals are unlikely to return.

Surveys by the Pew Research Center show that the percentage of liberals who believe that churches and religious organizations positively contribute to society dropped from 49 percent in 2010 to only 33 percent. Only 11 percent of very liberal people say that being Christian is important to what it means to be American, compared to 69 percent of people who identify as very conservative. Liberals are unlikely to return to organized religion as long as conservatives push their fundamentalist religious beliefs into politics.

Surveys also show that secular liberals are more likely than moderates or conservatives to have spouses who aren’t religious. These couples don’t create a structured religion for their children, and the youngest liberals who have always lived in a political Christian right world are the most secular. The fundamentalist Christian power in politics undermines trust in both religion and Christian power in government, making politics more and more divisive.

Evangelical Christian hypocrisy is a strong reason for turning away from religion, and an eight-month investigation into DDT’s supporter Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University, reveals him a poster boy for the conservative religion’s double standard that can lead people to leave religious affiliation. University officials described Falwell’s abuse of school’s funds, for example his gift of $1.8 million to Miami poolboy, Giancarlo Granda, for an LGBTQ-friendly Miami Beach hotel. Falwell also sold university property to his young handsome personal trainer Benjamin Crosswhite, providing him the money to buy the property which the university rented back from him. Colleagues have described more deals.

Under Falwell’s direction, the school made big loans to his friends not in the university’s financial interests. Prototype Tourism LLC, a tourism company founded by Josh Oppenheimer, got $200,000 but had trouble paying back the loan. Family friend Robert Moon, who founded Construction Management Associates, Inc., got $750,000 before the university awarded him $130 million in construction contracts at the school with no other bids and sold him university property. In 2012, Falwell turned management of several university properties over to the company that his son, Trey Falwell, formed and that listed its address as that of Jerry Falwell’s and his wife’s home.

A senior university official said:

“We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students’ money to do it.”

Other accusations include photographs of Falwell and his son Trey at the WALL nightclub in Miami Beach while they were drinking alcohol and dancing. Falwell’s university punishes students for drinking alcohol and co-ed dancing. Falwell hired “IT guy” John Gauger to reduce the pictures’ prominence in Google searches. Claims include sending and texting racy photos of his wife to male subordinates and “accidentally” emailing a picture of his wife in a French maid outfit to multiple people. Falwell was overheard hiring DDT’s former fixer Michael Cohen to fix blackmail for the photographs, possibly by his pool boy, in a recording of Cohen with Tom Arnold.  

Falwell makes colleagues uncomfortably by incessantly talking about his sex life at work. He called one of his students “emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded” and described the campus police chief “a half-wit and easy to manipulate.” About his former associate athletics director, Falwell wrote, “Only get Kevin involved in something if you want it not to work.”

Liberty officials fear retribution from Falwell and his wife. One school employee said:

“It’s a dictatorship. Nobody craps at the university without Jerry’s approval.”

A high-ranking university official, one of the over two dozen officials who spoke out, said:

“We’re talking about the difference between right and wrong. Not even ‘being a Christian,’ but being a good person, versus people who manipulate the system.”

While not denying the content of the embarrassing emails, Falwell claims that his embarrassing emails were stolen from Liberty University in a “criminal conspiracy” that makes him the target of an “attempted coup.” The FBI doesn’t comment, but cybercrime expert Nick Ackerman called Falwell’s claim “totally insane.”

Falwell is also a prime example of a politically powerful evangelical Christian who’s in the religion business to make money. He slammed David Platt, an evangelical Virginia pastor who apologized for welcoming DDT to his church by saying:  

 “I only want to lead us with God’s Word in a way that transcends political party and position, heals the hurts of racial division and injustice, and honors every man and woman made in the image of God.”

Falwell said that “pastors like [David Platt] need to grow a pair.” He responded to critics by bragging about how much money he made for Liberty University. A former university official called Falwell’s “washing his hands of any responsibility for spiritual life at the university—that was frankly a pretty Trumpian line of commentary.”

John Stoehr, political scientist and journalist, describes white evangelical Christians as sadists for the pleasure they derive from human suffering who they consider as “others.” People of color and members of the LGBTQ community deserve pain, humiliation, and physical abuse because of “divine justice.” Stoehr writes:

“[Sadists] are cruel because being cruel to people deserving cruelty feels good.”

For example, Christian leader Mark Taylor claimed that “patriots” will drag dead high-profile Democratic politicians through the streets if DDT doesn’t mass-arrest them by January.  White evangelicals don’t recognize political legitimacy in “others” because they don’t see them as equal. According to the evangelical Christian “moral compass,” “others” are to be used or abused, cheated and defeated because they aren’t equal.

Led by DDT, most U.S. evangelicals ignore the climate crisis destroying the planet for their descendants. World leaders including UK’s Boris Johnson, France’s Emmanuel Macron, and India’s Narendra Modi are coming to New York City for the UN climate action summit on September 23, but DDT won’t be present. Instead, he booked a room at the UN headquarters to give a speech about religious freedom, hoping to distract from the 60 speeches giving concrete plans to slow the climate crisis around the world. While over 4 million children and adults marched in 163 countries to save the planet, DDT praised Australia for digging coal.

Hypocrisy, Christian control, sadism, and DDT—these are reasons to leave organized religion.

July 12, 2019

Acosta Gone, Barr Protects DDT

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta failed to survive the scandal surrounding the Acosta’s extremely light sentence for Jeffrey Epstein when he was a U.S. AG in Florida over a decade ago. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) announced Acosta’s “resignation” today, effective in a week. For DDT, it’s a win-win: he looks tough, and he can put in an acting secretary who will be far harder against labor than Acosta has been. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney wanted Acosta gone to get rid of more regulations.

DDT, the man who promised to “drain the swamp,” has the most Cabinet secretaries lost to corruption and other ethics concerns during the first term of any presidency, showing his nepotism, self-dealing, lax oversight, and choice of lobbyists who oppose the policies of their agencies. Ronald Reagan had some struggles: his EPA director Anne Gorsuch, a Supreme Court justice’s mother, was found in contempt of Congress for refusal to release records about Superfund money misuse, and his interior secretary James Watt mocked diversity in a U.S. chamber of Commerce speech and lied about his influence-peddling as a lobbyist. Acosta makes the fifth “resigned” Cabinet secretary from ethics issues, joining Tom Price (HHS), Scott Pruitt (EPA), David Shulkin (VA), and Ryan Zinke (Interior). DDT’s replacements for the four are all former lobbyists or corporate executives for the industries they now oversee. Other appointments have been withdrawn because of more ethics problems: Andy Puzder (Labor) for labor violations and spousal abuse; and Ronny Jackson (VA) for misconduct and mismanagement. Another remaining three Cabinet members—Ben Carson (HUD), Elaine Chao (Transportation), and David Bernhardt (Interior)—face ethical problems.  

Acosta’s replacement, deputy secretary Patrick Pizzella who was former lobbyist for overseas sweatshops, will add to DDT’s stable of ethically-challenged lobbyists in his Cabinet. In the late 1990s, he worked with Jack Abranoff, whose 21 convictions led to reforms in lobbying laws, for a Russian front group, the government of the Marshall Islands, and a trade association opposing a minimum wage in a U.S. commonwealth. 

The DOJ is still protecting DDT in the case of his friend, hedge fund billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, again arrested for sex trafficking after DDT’s Labor Secretary Alex Costa, then U.S. AG in Florida, let Epstein off in 2008. Or maybe DDT is protecting himself; in 2016, the BBC released a documentary accusing DDT of “predatory” behavior toward teenage girls, some underage, by model Barbara Pilling. In an earlier court filing, Epstein said, “I want to set up my modeling agency the same way Trump set up his modeling agency.” More support for Epstein has come from DDT’s DOJ. The involvement of AG Bill Barr to exonerate Epstein could indicate wrongdoing by DDT. More background on Epstein.

Barr’s recusal from the Epstein case didn’t last long. Originally recusing himself from the New York sex trafficking case because of his work at the law firm Kirkland and Ellis lawyer representing Epstein, Barr changed his mind and will only recuse himself from an investigation of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s involvement in Epstein’s Florida plea deal. At least for now. He has said nothing about his family connection with Epstein. In 1973, Barr’s father hired Epstein, then 20 and without any college degree, to teach calculus and physics teacher at the prestigious Dalton School. Epstein went on to amass a fortune under the mentorship of a student’s father, Bear Stearns’ chairman Alan “Ace” Greenberg, and Barr’s father, Donald Barr, resigned a year later under pressure from the school’s board of trustees after Headmaster Barr morphed a “humanistic, progressive” school into one with “discipline and authoritarian rule.” The headmaster was irritated by the board’s hiring an outside committee to evaluate the school and its operation.

Epstein is surrounded by many of the rich and famous: Prince Andrew; Woody Allen; Mort Zuckerman, owner and publisher of the U.S. News and World Report who partnered with Epstein to develop the gossip publication Radar; Leslie Wexner, the chairman of Limited Brands which owns lingerie store Victoria’s Secret; Ken Starr, who led the impeachment of Bill Clinton and played a “significant part” in Epstein’s plea deal; and Larry Summers, former Harvard president and secretary of the treasury. Woody Allen’s play Manhattan, released a few years after Epstein left Dalton, is about an affair between a 17-year-old Dalton school student and an older man.

Questioning people wonder if DDT told Barr to unrecuse himself as he did with AG Jeff Sessions about the Russia investigation and Hillary Clinton issues. Another reason for Barr to withdraw his recusal is DDT’s interest in using Bill Clinton’s ties to Epstein for campaign fodder, something that Barr can more easily do if he doesn’t recuse himself. DDT may have other involvements in the case against Epstein.

In Acosta’s secret arrangement with Epstein, victims were not notified about plea agreement, and an email from Jay Lefkowitz, Epstein, thanked Acosta for not telling them. In February 2019, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra ruled that the government’s agreement violated federal law, specifically the “Crime Victims’ Rights Act,” which could nullify the 2008 settlement. The judge also asked that Acosta apologize; he has not publicly commented on the case, even during his resignation comments.  

As Labor Secretary, Acosta drastically cut funding from his agency to fight sexual exploitation of children from $68 million to $18.5 million. He also tried to cover his support for Epstein by asking women to come forward, and 14 women have accused Epstein of sexual assault and sex trafficking since he was arrested on July 6. Federal prosecutors revealed that he paid $350,000 to two people days after a published investigation in a Miami newspaper last November to buy off possible witnesses, one of them a co-conspirator in the deal that Epstein made. Defense lawyers are trying to get Epstein released on bail with the claim that he has been law-abiding for 14 years.

Earlier when  Epstein pled not guilty, his defense lawyer Reid Weingarten asked for bail because there was no rape: “no violence, no coercion, no intimidation, no deception.” Answering the judge about the girls being under 18, Weingarten said that would make it “statutory rape” before he claimed he was having a “senior moment,” that lack of penetration would not constitute rape at all. He also complained that it was only “prostitution,” not “sex trafficking,” although girls were transported from Florida to New York. Epstein is staying in jail without bail until July 15.

Acosta’s slap on Epstein’s wrist may be used against Epstein in his upcoming prosecution. Juries usually cannot hear about a defendant’s prior convictions, but one exception to this rule is criminal cases involving “child molestation.” As part of his Florida agreement, Epstein pled guilty to a state charge of solicitation of minors to engage in prostitution. Prosecutors may be able to use the legal trove of documentary evidence found in his Manhattan apartment—notes, call records between Epstein and his accomplices with victims, and “an extraordinary volume of photographs of nude and partially nude young women or girls.”

The New Yorker Magazine reported that Epstein’s “business” might be a blackmail scheme implicating many of his friends. A billionaire hedge-fund manager said that he knew no one who had investigated in Epstein’s so-called hedge funds.

In another effort to protect DDT, Barr plans to investigate the FBI’s investigation of Russian collusion in the 2016 election. Barr presented this political question, throwing it out like red meat to DDT supporters:

“How did the bogus narrative begin that Trump was essentially in cahoots with Russia to interfere with the U.S. election?”

The FBI had credible evidence that led to suspicions and questions—no “bogus” and no “narrative.” From the Washington Post:

“This is a guy who sounds like he developed strong feelings long ago—before, even he has admitted, he was privy to all the information—that the collusion investigation was unfounded and launched for suspicious purposes. And his commentary to this day is consistently uncharitable to the law enforcement personnel who serve beneath him. We didn’t need another reason to question Bill Barr and the integrity of his work, but he’s given us one anyway.”

Afraid of special investigator Robert Mueller testifying before the House, Barr is smearing the process and encouraging special investigator Mueller to back out of his appearance on July 17. Barr has failed: Mueller postponed his appearance before the House committee for a week in order to allow more time for questioning.

DOJ investigators interviewed Christopher Steele, the former British spy who prepared the dossier that DDT’s supporters falsely claimed instigated the Robert Mueller probe, for 16 hours last month and found his testimony credible and surprising. Steele’s hiring by Fusion GPS developed out of a attempt, initially contracted by conservative political website The Washington Free Beacon, to obtain opposition research on DDT and other Republican presidential candidates to benefit candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). According to DOJ investigators—who were looking for dirt on Dems—Steele provided new and important information that fails to support Barr’s desire to smear the FBI.

DDT may further protect himself by getting rid of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, one of the few ethical official left in the administration, “sooner rather than later.” Although DDT can’t get rid of the office, he wants to “downsize” it. A possible replacement is Fred Fleitz, former chief of staff to John Bolton. A rabid Islamophobe, Fleitz is president and CEO for the far-right, anti-Muslim “think tank,” the conspiratorial Center for Security Policy. Fleitz believes that mosques are responsible for over 80 percent of U.S. violence and subversion.

June 10, 2019

‘The Best [Corrupt] People’

When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) got elected, he frequently claimed that he would “surround myself only with the best and most serious people.” These “best people” have proved to be a disaster, even to DDT, and his phenomenal turnover means that at least 50 top officials left him within the past 16+ months since his inauguration.

Some of their names might not be well-known, but their disastrous influence remains. For example, leaving this past week was Kevin Hassett, chair of DDT’s Council of Economic Advisers and advocate of DDT’s tax cuts. Hassett said that his departure has nothing to do with DDT’s disastrous tariff decisions, but he questions a successful forecast in GDP growth for 2019 and is “very much concerned” about the growing fiscal deficit. Other departed economic advisers include Paul Winfree who came from the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, Jeremy Katz who also pushed the tax cut bill, Dina Powell who worked with Ivanka Trump on “empowerment of women,” Gary Cohn who was formerly president and COO of Goldman Sachs who wasn’t happy with DDT’s blaming “both sides” in the neo-Nazi protest in Charlottesville (VA) and left after dissatisfaction with DDT’s tariff policy, Everett Eissenstat who left to be GM’s senior vice president of global public policy, Clete Willems who dumped a job to negotiate with China to join a law firm public law and policy practice, and Linda McMahon who helped build World Wrestling Entertainment who did stay with DDT to chair one of his super PACs. And these are only some of the people in his economic world.

Staying, of course, is DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who seems to be charge of almost everything because he doesn’t have any other place to go. Almost totally silent for his first two years, he appeared two times in the past few weeks. One was testimony with hardliner neo-Nazi Stephen Miller in a closed Senate session about DDT’s new immigration plan. Kushner managed to avoid most questions and failed to provide solutions while frequently interrupted by Miller. Republicans publicly praised Kushner for the presentation of a merit-based system for the highest skilled people but privately said that he lacked clear answers. He said that immigrants would be required to pass a civics test to get access to the point system but then avowed that the central purpose is to unify immigrant families, including mothers and children. He couldn’t answer a question about what do to with undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. Because Kushner rejected the idea of DACA, GOP officials gave the immigration plan as much chance as Kushner’s peace plan in the Middle East—which is zero.

Kushner’s next performance, an interview with Axios, got a lot more media play: 

“Uh when there are things that they don’t do that we do not approve of, we we talk about that with them privately, but we feel like we’re in a position now where there’s a lot of interest that we have that are shared with them.”—about Kushner’s relationship with Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who tortured and dismembered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (After Kushner’s interview, DDT said he didn’t blame MBS for Khashoggi’s murder.)

“It’s a horrific thing that happened, and what we’ve done is we’ve called for full transparency.”—about whether the Saudis should return Khashoggi’s body for a proper burial.

“Look, I would not have come into government had there been anything salacious and nefarious that I was worried about.”—about the headline, “Background check chief has ‘never seen’ mistakes and omissions at level of Jared Kushner forms.”

“So, the answer is no, absolutely not. You can’t not be a racist for 69 years, then run for president and be a racist. And what I’ll say is that when a lot of the Democrats call the president a racist, I think they’re doing a disservice to people who suffer because of real racism in this country…. Like I said, I wasn’t involved in that.”—a statement that he made over and over about whether DDT is a racist, with the example that DDT continually claimed that President Obama was not born in the United States.

“Look, I think that the president did his campaign the way he did his campaign.”—about whether DDT’s campaign pledge to ban Muslims from the U.S. was “religiously bigoted.”

“It doesn’t make a difference.”—about the number of refugees permitted to settle in the U.S.

“I do think this is a terrible thing. Because you want people who have been successful in this country, who have taken advantage of the greatness of the opportunity that America provides, to go into government and to serve their country. When they get harassed and they have their companies looked at and their employees have to deal with this nonsense because people want to push a narrative, I think that’s a terrible thing.”—about whether Deutsche Bank should examine transactions moving cash from companies Kushner controls to Russians.

“[The meeting was] total waste of time, [and] we were not given anything that was salacious.”—about whether he should have called the FBI about Russian offering dirt on Hillary Clinton and whether he would call the FBI if it happened again.

“Look, I’m not here to be trusted.”—about why Palestinians don’t trust him in the peace negotiations.

Kushner owns part of real estate company Cadre that received $90 million in mysterious foreign funding since he became DDT’s senior adviser. The money was funneled from a Cayman Islands through Goldman Sachs. Kushner was refused a security clearance, but DDT demanded that he be given one.

Another Cabinet member is also being investigated for conflict of interest. Elaine Chao, Transportation Secretary and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has high-level political connections in China because of her family’s shipping company which helped both Chao and McConnell prosper. Part of Chao’s job is to promote U.S. maritime industry.

Chao’s father James S.C. Chao was once roommate with Jiang Zemin who became president of China. He founded Foremost Group, a New York-based shipping company in 1964 and received a big contract with the U.S. government to ship rice to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. In 1984, the Chao family acquired part of a Chinese-owned manufacturer of marine electronic equipment although they can’t remember the investment. With some of its ship-building financed by Chinese loans, Foremost ships over 70 percent of its freight, mostly iron ore, to China for steel manufacturing. DDT has temporarily lifted tariffs on imported steel. Chao’s Transportation Department has cut programs for U.S.-flagged ships and replacing ships to train U.S. mariners. Congress replaced the money, but Chao is still being questioned for her connections and status to boost Foremost’s reputation and visibility. In her confirmation hearings, she failed to mention her family’s deep ties to the Chinese maritime industry and her accolades China gives her, a violation of her questionnaire. Thirteen members of the Chao family donated over $1 million to McConnell’s campaigns and PACs. James Chao gave the couple at least $25 million.

McConnell himself also has problems with taking campaign money from Russians–$3.5 million from oligarch Oleg Deripaska. When DDT wanted to lift sanctions last year against mafia-esque Deripaska, Vladimir Putin’s friend, McConnell pushed the Senate into following DDT’s directions although the GOP House voted 362-53 to keep the sanctions in place. Lifting sanctions allowed Deripaska’s aluminum company Rusal and its parent company En+ back into the U.S. Within four months of McConnell’s favor to Deripaska, who also worked with DDT’s convicted former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Deripaska’s Russian aluminum company Rusal sent $200 million for a $1.7 billion aluminum plant in northeastern Kentucky. Part of the action came from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), known for his ethical problems with prostitution. Vitter’s wife, one of DDT’s judicial nominees, was not been able to get confirmed for over 18 months—partly because she didn’t support Brown v. Topeka, the Supreme Court case that just celebrated its 55th anniversary for overturning public school segregation. Soon after Sen. Vitter told McConnell about brokering the deal to pour Deripaska’s money into Kentucky, wife Wendy Vitter was confirmed for her lifetime federal judicial term. And the payoffs are all out in the open, no need to hide any of the quid pro quo.

The husband/wife team work well together. Chao designated a special liaison, McConnell’s advance man Scott Inman in McConnell’s 2014 election, to help with grant applications and other priorities from the Transportation Department for McConnell’s state of Kentucky, providing him with at least $78 million for his projects as he runs for re-election in 2020. No other state has this advantage. Earmarks are supposedly no longer legal, but McConnell has found another way to funnel a large amount of money into his state as these details prove. As McConnell said, “All 100 senators may have one vote, but they’re not all equal. Kentucky benefits from having one of its own setting the agenda for the country.” And set it, he does.

May 10, 2019

DDT: Week 120 – Fear in the White House

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is busy trying to divert people from what he fears most—open proof that he has committed crimes, especially against the United States. He claimed that the Mueller investigation and report prove “a strong no collusion conclusion,” but he doesn’t want the report released or testimony from Robert Mueller. By Friday he moved on to “essentially, no obstruction.” The man who ran his presidential campaign as the best businessman for the job has been terrified to release his tax returns. DDT has good cause because new discoveries show that his business ventures lost over $1 billion in the decade between 1985 and 1994 at the same time his ghost-written book The Art of the Deal was published. Later he whined that no one was doing well at that time—no one except his father, Fred Trump, who made $53.9 million in 1990 and 1991 with only one serious loss, $15 million invested in DDT’s apartment project. In several years, DDT lost more money than almost any other individual taxpayer. He claimed “almost all real estate developers did” what he did to “show losses for tax purposes.”

DDT called the information about his business failures “inaccurate Fake News” but didn’t refute specific reporting. He confirmed that he was created a huge “tax shelter” and considered it “sport” to play with tax returns and financial dealings. He’s also suing to keep his tax returns from going to the House, tax returns that could vindicate his claim if he isn’t lying. And DDT kept Fox. Brian Kilmeade said that the report “shows that he lost a lot of money over the course of 10 years—if you consider a billion dollars a lot of money” and that it shows he’s “a bold businessman.”

What DDT wants people to ignore:

Twice in the past month, White House officials, at DDT’s direction, asked DDT’s first White House counsel, Don McGahn, to say that he believes the president never obstructed justice in order to calm down DDT. McGahn won’t. DDT initially told McGahn to tell Mueller anything for the investigation and is now ordering McGahn to illegally refuse to appear for congressional testimony after receiving a subpoena.

DDT said that he would let his fixer AG Bill Barr decide whether Mueller would testify after DDT said that Mueller should not testify after DDT said that he would let Barr decide. Mueller has postponed his formerly scheduled testimony on May 15. The DOJ controls any Mueller testimony until Mueller quits. Then DDT would probably claim “executive privilege” as he did with Mueller’s report.

In less than a year, the U.S. national debt rose from $21 trillion to $22 trillion.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 24-16 to declare Barr in contempt for not providing them with the full Mueller report.

Almost 800 former federal prosecutors from both political parties have signed onto a letter stating that Mueller’s report shows anyone not protected “by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President” would face “multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.”

The GOP-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. to testify about the Russian interference in the 2016 election, especially his earlier testimony about a June 2016 meeting with Russians. Some GOP senators and DDT are highly upset about the testimony.

The New York state Senate voted in favor of legislation allowing them to give DDT’s state tax returns to congressional committees.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) announced that he subpoenaed DDT’s tax returns from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in accord with federal law Sec. 6103 of the tax code. Mnuchin said that Barr told him what to do.

The FBI is investigating DDT’s associate, Cindy Yang, to see if the Chinese are funneling money to DDT’s re-election campaign after DDT’s friend, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, was arrested for soliciting prostitution in one of Yang’s former Florida massage parlor. Details here.

DDT lost an attempt to stonewall a House subpoena for financial records from his accounting firm: a federal judge agreed to fast-track the full case for an appeals court to hear the case by summer. The firm Mazar had agreed to provide these records if the House were to subpoena them.

The House passed a $17.2 supplemental billion disaster bill by 257-150 over DDT’s opposition because he doesn’t want to give more than $11 billion to Puerto Rico. He lies about giving the U.S. territory $91 billion and about giving Puerto Rico more than any state. Thirty-four GOP representatives voted for the bill.

DDT’s pick for FBI director, Christopher Wray, said that the investigation into the Russian involvement with the election and DDT is not “spying” as Barr declared under oath.

The House holds the nation’s purse strings, and its Oversight Committee has threatened to withhold wages from Interior Department employees preventing interviews with people who blocked lawmakers from interviewing employees about Secretary David’s Bernhardt’s complying with recordkeeping laws. Committee chair Elijah Cummings stated that salaries would not be paid to any “federal officer or employee who prevents another federal officer or employee from communicating directly with any member, committee, or subcommittee of Congress.”

New Treasury Department requirements reveal more about DDT’s money laundering for the ruling Sassou-Nguesso family of Congo, former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, former Transportation Minister Ziya Mammadov of Azerbaijan, former Kazakhstani official and oligarch Timur Kulibayev, former Almaty mayor Viktor Khrapunov of Kazakhstan, special Philippines envoy to the U.S. for Trade, Investment, and Economic Affairs Jose E.B. Antonio, vice presidential candidate and billionaire Hary Tanoesoedibjo (Hary Tanoe) of Indonesia, and former Soviet official Tevfik Arif. There might be many more.

National “security” adviser John Bolton is looking for a war for the U.S. Last Sunday, he falsely claimed that a long-scheduled deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier and bomber task force to the Middle East was to oppose Iran. His comment comes on top of intensifying sanctions against Iran. Bolton also wants a war with Venezuela’s legally-elected president, but DDT disagrees after his long telephone call with Vladimir Putin. Another DDT reason to quit attacking Nicholas Maduro is DDT’s sale of a luxury ocean-view property in the Dominican Republic to a “mysterious shell company” possibly connected to the Maduro regime.

The “fake news” about Iran has come from Israel that will do anything to cause trouble between Iran and the U.S. In return to increased sanctions and other threats from the U.S. to eliminate oil experts through the Strait of Hormuz, Iran has threatened that if the U.S. chokes off its oil exports that exit the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz, Iran will close the Strait to other nations. Because 30 percent of the world’s oil shipments use this route, Saudi Arabia could benefit, but a global crash could ensue. Nixon’s gas price surge from his rescue of Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War accelerated the drive for his impeachment. Two weeks ago, oil prices shot up to a six-month high after the U.S. refused to renew all Iranian oil waivers and warned China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey of sanctions if they didn’t comply: China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joked about “the idea of a coup” in Iran.

DDT seems to be almost as afraid of North Korea’s president, Kim Jong-Un, as he is of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. After giving Kim everything he wants—propaganda, stature, and cessation of military exercises—Kim continues making and test-firing a “tactical guided weapon.” Meanwhile, DDT falsely tells reporters that “there’s been no tests.” After the tests, DDT tweeted that dictator Kim “knows that I am with him.” North Korea launched short-range ballistic missiles at least twice this week, the second time while DDT’s special envoy was in the country and both based on a Russian design. The U.S. also seized a North Korean ship flouting sanctions by carrying banned exports of coal. China has said that it will not take part in three-way nuclear talks with the United States and Russia.

China seems to be ahead in DDT’s trade war. He’s so desperate from his failure in negotiations that he’s claiming that he will give all the money he gets from tariffs to buy U.S. agricultural products—supposedly more than China would buy—and sent this food to other countries where people are starving. All the people in the U.S. paying more for products from China to cover tariffs send food away from starving people in the U.S. Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue said he doesn’t know anything about more aid for farmers.

DDT seems to have dumped Kim Jong-Un for Xi Jinping. After bragging about “beautiful letters” from the North Korean president last year, DDT now says that the president of China sent him a “beautiful letter.”

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

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