Nel's New Day

November 30, 2019

DDT: Week 149 – Trouble around the World

After bad publicity from the impeachment inquiry and pardoning war criminals, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) made a surprise visit to troops in Afghanistan. He’s still in trouble with emerging news.

Much has been said about the shadow government that DDT runs in Ukraine, but he has another one in Turkey, as suggested by former National Security Adviser John Bolton when he talked a “personal or business relationship dictating Trump’s position on Turkey.” Like the “irregular” diplomatic run by the “three Amigos” and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Turkey’s “backdoor diplomacy” has been operated by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak, DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and DDT’s business partner Aydin Dogan’s son-in-law, Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ.

Along with Mehmet’s wife Arzuhan Dogan Yalçındağ and Iranian/Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab, the three sons-in-law circumvented U.S. ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield, who has been in the foreign service since 1980. Zarrab, represented by DDT’s private secretary Rudy Giuliani, was arrested in the U.S. for evading Iranian sanctions. Giuliani also had his finger in the financial pie. Originally, the irregular diplomatic channel resulted in Michael Flynn’s firing from national security advisor, followed by a prison term for lying about being a foreign agent hired by Turkey. This extensive timeline reports the many times that DDT connected with Turkey and the favors that he gave them as he sided with Turkey against objections of advisers to help his substantial business interests in the company.

Since DDT lifted sanctions on Turkey, it began using U.S.-made Viper and F-4 Phantom II fighters to begin tests of radars connected to its new Russian S-400s although the U.S. warned against this “activation” of the surface-to-air missile systems. Turkey’s government announced it will test low and high altitude flights this week. Using the F-35 for these tests can give Russia knowledge about the plane’s capabilities, and NATO, including the U.S., warned that the system can’t be integrated with other allied aid defense networks. It will be unable to detect the difference between friendly and hostile aircraft. The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAASTA) requires the U.S. to take action against Turkey, but DDT is a “fan” of Erdogan, wanting to keep a trade agreement and protect personal financial gain from his two Trump towers in Turkey. Erdogan is also negotiating with Russia about the purchase of Su-35 Flanker-E fighter jets after announcing plans to buy components of the new S-500 air defense system.

Questions: Why did DDT life sanctions against Turkey? Why did DDT let Turks kill U.S. Kurdish allies? What did DDT say to Erdogan in his “diplomatic” dealings? What are DDT’s financial ties? Why does Bolton think that DDT is financially compromised?

DDT also illegally suspended congressionally approved $105 million funding for Lebanon so that it can push back on extremists. Without that aid, DDT allows attacks by Hezbollah and invasion by forces that can hurt the U.S. In this case, the winners are Russia and Iran.

On the home front, the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday sued AG Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross because they refused congressional subpoenas in an investigation into an attempt to put a citizenship question into the 2020 census. Ross said under oath that the DOJ asked for the question, but evidence shows that he lied. The Supreme Court ruled that Ross’ rationale “seems to have been contrived.” A complaint claims that Ross and his aides conspired with DOJ officials to cover up what happened and provide a legal justification for Ross’ demand. Another Ross lie may be that he didn’t communicate with the White House about the event.

Throughout the past week, the fallout from DDT’s pardoning three Navy Seal war criminals continues. Resigned/fired Navy Secretary Richard Spencer sent a letter last week, citing good order and discipline throughout the Navy’s ranks to be “deadly serious business”:

“The lives of our sailors, Marines and civilian teammates quite literally depend on the professional execution of our many missions, and they also depend on the ongoing faith and support of the people we serve and the allies we serve alongside.

“Unfortunately, it has become apparent that in this respect, I no longer share the same understanding with the commander in chief who appointed me, in regards to the key principle of good order and discipline. I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took.

“The rule of law is what sets us apart from our adversaries. Good order and discipline is what has enabled our victory against foreign tyranny time and again, from Captain Lawrence’s famous order ‘Don’t Give up the Ship,’ to the discipline and determination that propelled our flag to the highest point on Iwo Jima. The Constitution, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, are the shields that set us apart, and the beacons that protect us all.”

DDT started lobbying for Eddie Gallagher against the wishes of the Navy Seals after the convicted Seal received positive publicity for him from Fox. Two of Gallagher’s supporters, Bernard Kerik and Marc Mukasey, are two of DDT’s and Giuliani’s friends. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/30/us/politics/trump-seals-eddie-gallagher.html   Like DDT, Gallagher shows great disdain for authority. His goal in the service was “to kill as many people as possible,” and he turned off his locator so his superiors couldn’t find him. Now pardoned, he gave an interview to Fox in which he denigrated Rear Adm. Collin Green, commander of the Navy Seals:

“I just get a feeling of embarrassment for my community that Admiral Green is letting the ego get the best of him at this point. And he’s trying to take my trident because it’s all about retaliation.”

DDT is considering taking his three pardoned war criminals on the campaign trail with him next year.

No matter the spin, conservatives can’t get evidence that the intelligence agencies leaders conducted the investigation into Russian interference from personal bias against DDT. That is the decision of DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz although he did find “errors and omissions in documents related to the wiretapping of a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page” and an altered email by a “low-level” attorney in seeking a renewal of the wiretap. The IG concluded that the wiretap application had a legal and factual basis.

DDT lost one of the few people in the White House since his inauguration, deputy chief of staff Daniel Walsh, who planned foreign trips and decided White House aides’ use of government resources. He was an important part in the failed planning to have the G7 summit at DDT’s Doral resort.

While the State Department fires ethical career service people, it hired Frank Wuco as senior adviser at the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance. A conservative talk radio host, he suggested dropping nuclear bombs on Afghanistan after 9/11 and promoted far-right conspiracy theories including President Obama not born in the U.S., former CIA director John Brennan converted to Islam, former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. esd a member of the Black Panthers, and former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Last year, Wuco moved from the Department of Homeland Security. DDT had also considered “using nuclear” in Afghanistan and promoted the false birther theory.

While progressives in the United States try to block foreign interference in the U.S. election, DDT is interfering in the British election on December 12. Anti-Brexit Boris Johnson is trying to keep his leadership in the nation, and DDT called into a radio station on Halloween to say:

“So bad for your country, so bad. [Labour Party head Jeremy Corbyn would] take you in such a bad way. He’d take you into such bad places.”

This coming week, DDT heads to Buckingham Palace while NATO meets in London, and Corbyn maintains that DDT has an arrangement with Johnson that includes the sale of Britain’s popular National Health Service to U.S. pharmaceutical companies. DDT also wants to sell “chlorinated chickens” and hormone-injected beef to Britain that don’t meet their food safety regulations, and Corbyn maintains that he has copies of trade agreements between DDT and Johnson. Over 70 percent of the voters don’t approve of DDT, and DDT is less popular than Vladimir Putin. Johnson knows this, and he’s tried to get DDT to back off. This past week, Johnson said on LBC radio:

“What we don’t do traditionally as loving allies and friends, what we don’t do traditionally, is get involved in each other’s election campaigns.”

In a possibly fraudulent act, DDT reported higher occupancy rates to lenders and lower ones to tax officials over three consecutive years while the Trump Organization refinanced a $100 million loan. 

After the federal government forced 159 BLM employees from Washington to the West, staffers’ wages were reduced. The change was justified by reduced cost of living in the new location. The new location will favor energy interests: the new Grand Junction (CO) office share a building with Chevron. The town is four hours away from a major city and has only a small regional airport with no direct flights to D.C. The move costs $6.6 million, but lawmakers blocked funding for the move in the 2020 budget. The Agricultural Department’s Economic Research Service move to Kansas City (MO) cost them almost 80 percent of its employees.

In an unusual move, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has been bypassed in budget talks as the House tries to meet the December 20 deadline for passing the budget.  

July 4, 2019

Will the Judicial Branch Protect Democracy?

July 4—the date that people in the United States celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress. For the past 243 years, some people have tried to protect the nation from the erosion of democracy, a far more difficult task in the past two years as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) destroyed U.S. relationships with all countries except those run by autocrats and dictators. Setting himself up as the supreme ruler with no checks, DDT is enabled by congressional Republicans. Although the third branch of government, the judicial branch, has tried to protect democracy, DDT is loading lifetime judgeships with mostly young white men who follow his authoritarianism.

DDT’s latest move outside the law came from his determination to put a question about citizenship on the 2020 census. A week ago, the Supreme Court decision gave DDT two options: print the census without the question or go back to court to with a better reason and fewer lies to include the question. Over the weekend, DDT’s administration looked for ways to stall—with DDT even suggesting that the constitutionally mandated census might be delayed.

Four days later, the DOJ said it would not return to court, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (bottom left) announced that the census forms were sent to the printers without the question. Yet DDT tweeted that the question would be on the 2020 census, catching the attention of a judge. Yesterday, the judge convened a telephone conference with government and Maryland immigrant-rights groups lawyers to address DDT’s declaration that the government was “absolutely moving forward” with its citizenship question plan for the 2020 census, defying a Supreme Court ruling and contradicting the DOJ and Commerce Department statements. Josh Gardner, DOJ’s civil division lawyer, said he knew nothing about DDT’s position until he read the tweet. Assistant AG Jody Hunt told the judge that DOJ lawyers “have been instructed to examine whether there is a path forward, consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision” to include the question. The DOJ also warned the New York court ruling opposing the question that it might again appeal the case to the now-recessed Supreme Court. 

Lawyers from the rights groups requested a court order requiring the government to agree that “there will be no further effort to inquire about citizenship status as part of the 2020 census.” They also asked the judge to compel the administration to “publicly counter any such misinformation that comes from government officials.”

The judge said that he might not be able to “enjoin the President of the United States from tweeting things” but ordered the DOJ to explain by tomorrow at 2:00 pm EST whether the government would still try to add the question to the 2020 census forms. DOJ lawyers asked if they could have until Monday. The judge said, “No.” Lawyers for the rights groups reminded the judge that DOJ lawyers previously insisted the printing process for census forms begin by last Monday. The Census Bureau already botched a contracting process when the Government Publishing Office awarded its single largest printing contract to a bankrupt company. 

On Independence Day, DDT’s latest ploy is to overturn the Supreme Court decision by ordering the citizenship question through an executive order.

Judges across the country are opposing DDT’s positions. A federal judge in Seattle blocked AG Bill Barr’s order [Barr: right of Ross] to keep thousands of migrants indefinitely detained while waiting for asylum case decisions. Denying migrants a bail hearing is unconstitutional, according to the judge; a bond hearing must be granted within seven days or migrants will be released. DHS has raised fees for asylum seekers, slowed the processing and forced over 13,000 migrants to wait in Mexico for movement on their legal cases. Barr’s order is one reason for the seriously overcrowded facilities.

DDT claims that living conditions in his detention camps are “better than where they came from,” but a report from his own DHS Inspector General tells of horrific conditions with filth and overcrowding at the migrant detention centers. People lie in cages on bare cement floors with nothing to do, and men are held for weeks in a room with standing room only—88 of them in a room designed for 40. Children have no access to showers, clothing changes, laundry facilities, and hot meals. 

A federal judge ordered lawyers representing detained migrants and US Customs and Border Protection to rapidly resolve allowing health experts to examine children and inspect detention facilities inside a Florida migrant facility. The order covers all CBP’s El Paso and Rio Grande Valley sectors. Children lack access to soap, clean water, toilets, toothbrushes, medical care, and adequate nutrition and sleep. With infants and pregnant women, they “are dirty, cold, hungry and sleep-deprived,” according to the court filing. Children are required to care for infants and toddlers, some of whom show signs of illness. John Kelly, former DHS director and DDT’s chief of staff, is on the board of the company owning the Florida facility.

A federal judge expanded a previous ruling to block DDT from taking billions of dollars in military funds for his southern border wall in New Mexico, California, Arizona and Texas. DDT claimed “national emergency”; the judge said that there was no new evidence for changing an earlier decision. He also stated that the wall would cause “irreparable harm” because it “will harm [the plaintiffs’] ability to recreate in and otherwise enjoy public land along the border.” A 2-1 vote in a 9th Circuit Court panel denied DDT’s request to halt the order blocking military funds for a border wall.

The 9th Circuit Court sent a decision against DDT’s transgender ban in the military back to federal judge, Marsha Pechman, ruling that she should have given the military’s judgment more deference. The Supreme Court lifted lower court injunctions blocking the ban from going into effect although it didn’t address the ban’s legality. Pechman was one of four federal judges ruling against the ban on the basis of the constitution’s equal protection guarantee. DDT’s used inaccurate figures in a claim of “tremendous medical costs”; no one in the military has cited DDT’s claim of “disruption” regarding transgender military members.

The 9th Circuit Court also vacated a unanimous three-judge panel decision allowing DDT’s gag rule on facilities serving low-income women seeking abortions. DDT’s orders prevented clinics receiving federal funds from making abortion referrals and sharing space with abortion providers. Injunctions against DDT’s declaration will continue in Oregon, Washington, and California as the issue works its way throughout the courts.

The 9th Circuit Court denied an appeal from three University of Oregon basketball players who were expelled from the school for rape allegations. They had originally sued in 2015 on the basis of gender discrimination; a federal court threw out their lawsuit.

The 4th Circuit Court ruled 2-1 that the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act applying severe criminal penalties for violent acts motivated by race, religion, and other protected classifications applies to workplace assaults. A defendant lost his claim that the law didn’t apply to his punching a gay co-worker in the face.

A Montana district court blocked Canadian mining company Lucky Minerals Inc. from exploring for gold just north of Yellowstone National Park.

Scott Warren, an Arizona activist on trial for saving the lives of migrants in the desert, was acquitted by a hung jury. Federal prosecutors plan to seek a retrial for Warren, hoping to put him in prison for several years for giving food, water, clean clothes, and beds to migrants in the desert. 

A last-minute change in testimony exonerated Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher in the 2017 murder of a 15-year-old captive in Iraq. Given immunity, medic Corey Scott changed his previous statements and claimed he killed the boy after several Navy Seals testified they saw Gallagher stab the boy to death. Gallagher had texted a photo of himself posing with the body and the message, “Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife.” DDT had previously arranged for Gallagher’s release from confinement and suggested he would pardon him.

The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that going on someone else’s land without their permission is trespassing. Two people sued a giant corporation for building roads and drilling a well without permission to get gas from adjacent lands.

For almost a decade, Republicans worked to destroy the Affordable Care Act. Some are now getting nervous about their re-elections of they succeed in the goal. With two conservative judges on a panel who might strike down the ACA, the GOP state AGS asked the 5th Circuit Court to delay oral arguments, but the court gave them one business day until July 9. The court will begin by deciding whether states and the House of Representatives have standing to defend the ACA.

House Democrats, led by the Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-MA), are suing the IRS and Treasury Department to gain access to DDT’s tax returns. Both Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig consistently refused to obey the 1924 law requiring them to release DDT’s tax returns. One reason given for obtaining the tax returns is DDT’s incessant complaining about how unfair the audit process is. House members need to see his returns to evaluate his complaints.

This year, the Supreme Court couldn’t decide Carpenter v. Murphy; it is “restored to the calendar for reargument.” The question is whether Oklahoma can prosecute major crimes committed by Native Americans on reservation land for the Five Civilized Tribes, covering the eastern half of the state including Tulsa. Deciding for the defendant, Patrick Murphy, would threaten the validity of past convictions—something that didn’t bother conservative justices in other decisions this year—or replace past law regarding the dissolution of Native American reservations. States have something to look forward to next year because Oklahoma may not be alone in backlash to the decision.

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