Nel's New Day

September 7, 2019

More Investigations by and for DDT

Investigations into the abuses of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) using government funds for his own private piggy back does not end with the Pentagon supporting his Scottish Turnberry resort. VP Mike Pence added to DDT’s coffers during Pence’s European trip. While VP Mike Pence attended meetings in Dublin (Ireland), he stayed at DDT’s golf course, Doonbeg, requiring four extra flights in Air Force 2, four extra motorcade trips, and security. Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, said that the government “negotiated room rates” for DDT’s resort. DDT “suggested” (code for ordered) the stay at the golf course including Pence’s wife, sister, and mother. Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short said “suggested” and then denied he said it until the next day when he reversed the reversal, the same day that DDT said he did not “suggest” anything. Although Pence claims to be “personally paying all family expenses,” taxpayers covered expenses for staff, security, and transports for them.

Pence claimed that he wanted to stay close to his ancestral home, but the visit there was rather bleak. Only one couple finally showed up, a huge difference from the crowds in Ireland for President Obama. 

 

Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deer tried—and failed—to cover up for Pence’s homophobia:

 

“For all of you who still think our @VP is anti-gay, I point you to his and the @SecondLady’s schedule tomorrow where they will join Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar and his partner Dr. Matthew Barrett for lunch in Ireland.”

Pence also faced LGBTQ support for LGBTQ people at his next stop, Iceland, where he was greeted with row of rainbow flags from the technology company Advania across from his meeting with President Gudni Johannesson in the capital, Reykjavik. Johannesson and Iceland’s first lady, Eliza Reid, wore rainbow bracelets during the meeting.

Two House committees are investigating Pence’s stay at DDT’s golf resort and DDT’s suggestion that the 2020 G7 summit meet at his Doral resort in Miami. Representatives requested documents from DDT, Pence, and other officials about violations of the Emoluments Clause. The State Department enriched DDT by allowing seven foreign governments to rent luxury condos in New York’s Trump Tower in 2017 with no congressional consent from lawmakers as required by the constitution.

Pro-pollution DDT is is bad for businesses that cross him. The DOJ is accusing four automobile companies of antitrust violations because they plan to conform with California’s fuel efficiency standards. The EPA and Transportation Department also notified California that the deal “appears to be inconsistent with federal law.”

CEOs understand that DDT is causing them serious problems. In an August survey of CEOs, 62 percent said the trade war with its flipflops on tariffs is “highly detrimental” to outlook and strategy, and 72 percent believe that cutting interest rates won’t sustain the economic cycle. The 3.9 percent rate of investment DDT has fallen from President Obama’s 5.7 percent after the nation’s economy started to recover in 2010.

History shows that no one wins in a trade war. When President George W. Bush raised steel tariffs in 2002, the GDP declined by $30.4 million, and about 200,000 jobs disappeared, 13,000 in raw steel-making. The cost to taxpayers was $400,000 for every steel-industry job saved. The World Trade Organization also ruled that the Bush tariffs were illegal

With DDT, the U.S. trade deficit for the first half of 2019 is bigger than in the last two years.

Farmers may suffer more than businesses. Bob Kuylen, the vice president of the 50,000-member North Dakota Farmers Union, said that farmers “lost pretty much all of our markets since Trump took over” leaving farmers “land-rich and cash-poor.” He added that bonuses for his high-protein wheat crops have dropped 95 percent.

In more DDT corruption, the private company of DDT’s campaign manager Brad Parscale has received almost $1 million from a PAC supporting DDT and Pence. Law prohibits PACS from coordinating with candidates’ campaigns.

DDT may have defrauded the IRS by not paying taxes on a tax-avoidance $50-million dollar loan that he owes to one of his own companies. He says it’s a wash; IRS law states that a firm owed money and has no outstand debt is worth at least as much as it is owed.

To give DDT $3.6 billion for his wall, the Pentagon “deferred” 127 projects in 23 states, 19 countries, and three U.S. territories, including $400 million for military installations in Puerto Rico. Another $770 million of the money disappeared from projects in allied European nations to help deter a possible attack from Russia, and another one is for cybersecurity. The Pentagon plans to get Congress to replace the $3.6 billion for a wall that Congress voted down. Either the projects weren’t important in the first place, of the military thought they could blackmail Congress. 

Congressional members are losing status with their constituents because of the lost revenue after Pentagon projects were deferred. North Carolina is unhappy after losing $80 million dollars, and its GOP senator Thom Tillis voted to remove FEMA funds for detention centers. The biggest loser, Tillis is up for re-election next year. He’s also in trouble after DDT lied about signing an emergency declaration “at the request of Senator Thom Tillis.” Federal law allows only governors to make these requests, but DDT couldn’t bear to give a Democrat credit for anything.  

GOP Sen. Martha McSally, also up for re-election after being appointed last year, downplayed Arizona’s loss by saying the state loses only $30,000. Later she had to explain that the loss is $30 million. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) simply blamed the Democrats.

Seventy percent of residents in the 200-household living community for older adults, River Bend Resort and Golf Club in Brownsville (TX), found that DDT’s wall puts them on Mexico’s side of DDT’s 30-foot-tall barrier.

DDT wants to raise mortgage costs and the deficit by ending government control of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae that handle half the nation’s mortgages. Part of the strategy in stopping an even worse recession from the unraveling housing market in 2008 was to have government control of those companies. People are already struggling to find affordable homes, and the U.S. will lose revenue from the companies’ profits while Wall Street gets richer. After paying less than $200 billion to rescue Freddie and Fannie, the government received $300 billion in dividends from them. Neither company has capital to be sustainable for several years, and taxpayers would be forced to bail them out again in “exigent circumstances,” according to the 53-page proposal. Shares in the companies drastically fell last week.

DDT brought out his 85th mandate to destroy the planet by rolling back George W. Bush’s energy-efficient requirements for LED bulbs. Continued use of incandescent bulbs cost people more money. Eliminating inefficient bulbs nationwide would save electricity equivalent to the output from at least 25 large power plants, equivalent to powering all homes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Since 2010, energy consumption in U.S. homes dropped by 6 percent.

Only three incumbent presidents—Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush—faced primary challengers, and all three lost the general elections for a second term. With GOP politicians planning to run against DDT, Republicans have a solution: cancel 2020 presidential primaries and caucuses, already almost done in four states. One of the states is South Carolina, where Mark Sanford is considering an intent to run against DDT. DDT is right about the rigging of the election—at least for the GOP.

More NRA scandals: Former NRA president Marion Hammer obtained loans of over $250,000 at an interest rate down to two percent from the NRA’s Florida affiliate where she is the only employee. This affiliate reported a $28,389 shortfall when it gave Hammer a $200,000 loan. Most of Unified Sportsmen of Florida gets almost all its budget from the NRA. The IRS can impose tax penalties if the organization benefits a private shareholder or person.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who incited people to defend themselves from immigrants before the El Paso shooting, cannot understand how the killer at Midland-Odessa last week could obtain a gun without a background check. The shooter bought the gun in a private sale which, under state law, has no background checks.

“The economy is great,” says DDT, but new jobs slowed in August to 130,000, 34,000 of them government jobs included 25,000 short-term positions for the 2020 U.S. census. Reductions of June and July jobs numbers by 20,000 brought the 2019 monthly average down to 143,000, 25 percent below the 192,000 in 2018. President Obama’s monthly job growth averages were 251,000 per month in 2014, 227,000 in 2015 and 193,000 in 2016. The stock market went up but only because of DDT’s promise of trade talks with China in October. U.S. business investment and growth in trade-sensitive sectors slumped after fewer foreign sales, rising costs of imported goods, and the uncertain global outlook. People’s views of the economy are partisan, but they’re all going down—and independents are much closer to those of Democrats than Republicans. And the election is less than 14 months away.

September 6, 2019

DDT: Week 137 – Alabama’s Hurricane, Pentagon’s Pandering

Almost 70 years ago, Herman Wouk wrote The Caine Mutiny, a fictionalized account of a mutiny on a U.S. destroyer-minesweeper during World War II. Worried about the potential loss of the ship during a storm, the executive officer takes command from Captain Queeg at the suggestion of the communications office who talks about Section 184 of the Navy regs. Citing Queeg’s incompetence, cowardice, and mental illness, the officer prevents the loss of the ship in a storm but is then tried by court martial. A highlight of the movie based on the book, featuring Humphrey Bogart as Queeg, is the scene in which Queeg breaks down under questioning about an episode regarding strawberries.

When Queeg shared a large tin of strawberries, a gift from another ship’s captain, with his officers, they were given one scoop while Queeg had two—like the scoops of ice cream that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) doles out. He gets two and everyone else gets one. That night, Queeg wants more strawberries and finds them missing. In a fury, he obsessively wakes his sailors and orders them to search throughout the ship for his strawberries before the out-of-control Queeg concocts the theory, never proved, that crewmen secretly copied keys to the icebox and obsessively forces more searching to locate them.

The Caine Mutiny led to the 25th Amendment  blocking one person such as the vice president to pronounce that a president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Instead the majority of the Cabinet must initiate the process, and two-thirds of the Congress must also agree. For the past 960 days, however, Republican leaders have ignored DDT’s obsessive lying, incompetence, and inability to maintain control of himself.

On the day of his inauguration, DDT insisted that his crowd was bigger than the crowd for any president’s inauguration and insisted on photographs that proved his lie. Since then, he continued with his own out-of-control, incompetent, obsessive behavior with wild claims about his winning the popular vote because of voter fraud, claiming all news he didn’t like to be fake news, and creating far more fantasies to show that he is a god who can control nature. His statement about Hurricane Dorian damaging Alabama, however, hit a high point.   

David Lauter put DDT’s “strawberry” episode with his Alabama proclamation and obsession of proving himself right into three acts. DDT’s behavior entire focus on the hurricane was the non-existent problem in Alabama while Dorian devastated the Bahamas (sounds like Alabama?) and killed possibly hundreds of people, threatened Florida, damaged North Carolina, and heads to the Northeast coast.

Act I – The Gathering Storm

Sunday, September 1: DDT’s first tweet – “In addition to Florida—South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”

National Hurricane Center’s forecasts showed that any small chance of Dorian hitting the Gulf Coast disappeared at least a day earlier. Twenty minutes after DDT’s tweets, the National Weather Service’s Birmingham (AL) station tweeted to set the record straight and reassure Alabama residents that they were safe from a fearsome storm: “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”

Christopher Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), wrote in an email, “The current forecast path of Dorian does not include Alabama.”

DDT repeated his personal warning to Alabama that afternoon in televised remarks from a Federal Emergency Management Agency briefing.  

Act 2 – The TV Hour

Monday, September 2: ABC correspondent Jon Karl noted Trump’s mistake and the weather service’s response: “He also misstated the storm’s possible trajectory [and the weather service] corrected the president.” Karl also commented that DDT canceled his scheduled trip to Poland, supposedly to monitor the hurricane, but played golf at his Virginia country club.

DDT doesn’t admit mistakes, claims he works hard, criticizes President Obama for playing golf, and obsessively watches television while saying that he pays little attention to TV. He called Karl a “lightweight reporter” on Twitter and made his usual slurs against the media: “It was in fact correct that Alabama could have received some ‘hurt.’ Always good to be prepared! But the Fake News is only interested in demeaning and belittling. Didn’t play my whole sentence or statement. Bad people!” 

Act 3 – Closing the Ring

Wednesday, September 4: Cable news reported on the story, and DDT performed in the Oval Office by displaying a NOAA weather map showing the August 29 forecast track, in white but added a black Sharpie line over a sliver of southern Alabama. DDT said, “That was the original chart. It could’ve — was going towards the Gulf.” Altering official government weather forecasts is illegal with the possibility of a prison term and fine as well as dangerous for people who believe him.    

Thursday, September 5: Rear Adm. Peter Brown, a Coast Guard flag officer and White House homeland security and counter-terrorism advisor, issued a 225-word statement carefully explaining that his briefings to DDT “included the possibility of tropical storm force winds in southeastern Alabama.”

Coda – Protecting DDT

Friday, September 6: NOAA reversed its earlier message about the forecast not including Alabama and disavowed the September 1 tweet from the National Weather Service that corrected DDT about the danger in Alabama from Dorian: “Birmingham National Weather Service’s Sunday morning tweet spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time. From Wednesday, August 28, through Monday, September 2, the information provided by NOAA and the National Hurricane Center to President Trump and the wider public demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama.”

DDT, now feeling vindicated through the lies of a federal agency, tweeted: “The Fake News Media was fixated on the fact that I properly said, at the beginnings of Hurricane Dorian, that in addition to Florida & other states, Alabama may also be grazed or hit.”

James Spann, a meteorologist based in Alabama, wrote that the September 1 tweet from the National Weather Service in Birmingham that corrected DDT was “spot on and accurate.”

During all the crises of last week, including a Category 5 hurricane, DDT, fixated on his insistence of always being right, posted nine tweets and five maps about Alabama and the big storm to justify his mistake, ordered a White House official to release a 225-word statement defending his error that could endanger lives, and coerced NOAA into lying for him. He also called Fox correspondent John Roberts into his office to again lie about the hurricane hitting Alabama and “to hit back at Shepard Smith.”

On his show, Smith said

“Why would the president of the United States do this? He decries fake news that isn’t and disseminates fake news that is. Think China pays the tariffs. The wall is going up. Historic inauguration crowds. The Russia probe was a witch hunt. You need an ID to buy cereal. Noise from windmills causes cancer. It’s endless!”

DDT increasingly manipulates government agencies to enrich his personal businesses, costing taxpayers millions of dollars, for example refueling stops that an Air National Guard crew made last spring on a routine trip from the U.S. to Kuwait to deliver supplies. The stops at a small airport 20 miles from DDT’s Scottish Turnberry resort and 50 miles outside Glasgow (Scotland) cost much more than charges at a military base in the UK, such as nearby Lakenheath Air Base in England. The military spent $11 million on 629 fuel purchase orders at the airport since October 2017, and the airport paid for a five-person crew to stay at DDT’s golf resort along with free rounds of golf. One crew member said that their per diem allowance wasn’t enough to cover food and drinks.

In the past, the same plane refueled at U.S. air bases in Germany, Spain, Azores, and Italy. Never in Scotland. Since April, the Pentagon has stonewalled the House Oversight Committee’s investigation requesting information about the reason for the location of the stops en route to the Middle East and the transport plane’s return and refused to send any documents to the committee.

The reason for stops at Turnberry may be to keep the golf resort from going under: in 2017 the property lost $4.5 million, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018. The golf resort must keep the airport to be at all viable. The Scottish government bought the debt-ridden airport in 2013 for £1. In June, the Scottish government said it will sell the airport that continues to lose money. U.S. taxpayer money is vital for the airport: the authorization of U.S. payments to Prestwick worth £1.4m in the first three months of 2019 is equivalent to revenue from passenger services in 2017 and 2018.

Over two months ago, a Scottish newspaper reported that the U.S. Defense Department is set to sign a contract to continue refueling until fall 2024 with over 35 transactions a month and another £8m from 12.4 million gallons of aviation fuel, three million more than the existing arrangement. Taxpayer spending at both the airport and at DDT’s property may be conflicts of interest and violations of the Emoluments Clause. Even worse, such actions could be illegal activities on the part of the Pentagon that appears to pander to DDT’s desires and further make the U.S. look like a dictatorship.   

June 17, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-One, Any Success Elusive

Two years ago yesterday, a New York businessman rode down an escalator to become the president of the United States who is under investigation for criminal charges. Supporters didn’t believe an article about investigating Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) for obstruction of justice, but he angrily tweeted that he is being investigated. Much has been said about DDT invoking executive privilege, but the U.S. Supreme Court blocked Nixon from using the privilege to withhold evidence in a criminal investigation in 1974. The investigation is also looking into money laundering by DDT associates and the business affairs of DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Russian hackers breached voting systems in 39 different states, according to a new report. This number is almost twice what was previously reported. Russians tried to delete or alter voter data, accessed software for poll worker use on Election Day, and breached a campaign finance database.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and NSA director Adm. Michael Rogers refused to talk about DDT’s involvement with Russia in  a hearing, but Coats told his colleagues in March that DDT asked both him and Rogers to stop former FBI director James Comey in a probe into Michael Flynn. DDT asked Coats in front of CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

DDT’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, has clients with Russian connections include Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who is close to President Vladimir Putin and Sberbank, Russia’s largest state-owned bank. Kasowitz also represented one of Deripaska’s companies for years in a civil lawsuit in New York and was scheduled to argue on the company’s behalf May 25, two days after news broke that Trump had hired him.

Jay Sekulow, with a specialty in “religious liberty” case, is now the television face of DDT’s legal team. Sekulow claims that the president is a “unitary executive” with unlimited national security powers. Former VP Dick Cheney expanded this theory when George W. Bush’s White House Counsel John Yoo justified using torture. The U.S. Constitution does not provide unchecked power for any of the three branches of government.

A Few DDT Failures:

A federal judge has ruled that DDT failed to conduct an adequate environmental review of the Dakota Access pipeline. Judge James Boasberg requested further briefings to see if the pipeline should be shut down until a full review of impacts of potential oil spills.

The Senate voted 97-to-2 to stop DDT’s power to unilaterally scale back sanctions on Russia.  Mike Lee and Rand Paul didn’t like the idea, and Secretary of State is not happy about tying “the administration’s hands.”

The ethics office refused a “retroactive” waiver to exempt white supremacist Steve Bannon for all of his infractions since he came to the White House. The “waiver” to nullify ethics claims was neither signed nor dated, raising the question of whether DDT knew anything about it.

The three-judge unanimous panel ruling against DDT’s travel ban in the 9th Circuit Court decided that he didn’t comply with federal immigration law. DDT failed to offer justification to stop the entry of over 180 million people into the U.S. basing its ban on nationality. Judges cited DDT’s tweets as an “authority.” In a case about the ban before the 4th Circuit Court, lawyers want judges to ignore DDT’s statements as president and rule only on the executive order and DDT’s official actions. If the Supreme Court hears the case, it will have to address both this questions and early constitutional issues from the 4th Circuit ruling.

Comey might have been fired earlier if he had refused to meet with DDT. Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara  said he was fired the day after he refused a call from DDT because he saw direct contact between the president and a law-enforcement official. He reported the call to AG Jeff Sessions on March 9 and was fired “twenty-two hours later.”

Congress is putting the heat on DDT about releasing tapes of his conversations with Comey after DDT accused him of lying under oath.

DDT’s Attempts at Foreign Policy:

In the week since eight Middle East countries have blockaded Qatar, a country that DDT had supported only days before, the U.S. has crossed from one side to another. DDT called the country extremist, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for diplomacy, and the United States completed a sale of 36 fighter jets for $12 billion that President Obama had initiated. Iran, Kuwait, and Turkey have declared themselves on the side of Qatar, and the blockading countries have broken up families. U.S. incompetence can put either Russia or Turkey as broker in the Middle East crisis, and Turkey is already deploying troops to help Qatar

The Philippines military has confirmed that the U.S. will provide “technical support” to fight ISIS in that country, but President Rodrigo Duterte says he doesn’t want the help. If that’s true, it means that the military may have gone rogue, and the U.S. could be in the middle of the mess.

After dumping 194 countries by rejecting the Paris climate agreement, DDT made the United States into a footnote with the G7 group of industrialized nations. The other six reconfirmed a commitment to reducing carbon emissions in a statement after its environment meeting that EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt left early. “G6” countries are already meeting with California in a beginning to work with some states in slowing down climate change. A German fact check of DDT’s speech about saving $3 trillion shows he didn’t account for massive savings in fiscal benefits of avoiding massive climate changes.

DDT is afraid to go to Britain if there are large-scale protests. He told current prime minister Theresa May that he’ll wait until the British public supports a visit. UK will save lot of money in not having to break out the gold coach for him.

And a Few Other Pieces:

D.C. and Maryland are suing DDT because of the millions in payments he is receiving in his Washington hotel that violate the Emoluments Clause of the constitution. Government lawyers content that this prohibition doesn’t count for DDT. If a federal court decides whether the case can continue, the plaintiffs will request that DDT’s personal tax returns be publicly revealed. Another 196 congressional Democrats are suing DDT for the same reason.

DDT is blocking more people from his Twitter account, including VoteVets.org, a group representing over 500,000 veterans, family members, and civilian supporters. A record of his more notable blocks, including famous novelist Stephen King, is available here.

DDT’s climate quote of the week: “You’ve got one heck of an island there. Your island has been there for hundreds of years, and I believe your island will be there for hundreds more.” The statement was made to Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge of Tangier (VA) on an island that has about 25 years left before sea-level rise from climate change puts it under the water. Of the 450 population in the town first settled in the 17th century, about 87 percent voted for DDT in the place that is sinking 15 feet each year.

DDT’s wife Melania has reported that she officially moved into the White House with their son Barron.

Anyone watching comedy shows or news have seen clips of DDT’s Cabinet meeting where members and attendees were forced to suck up to the fragile DDT. Former CIA member Ned Price compared the fawning to what could be seen around North Korea’s Kim Jung-Un. Best headline: “Roomful of Pussies Purrs Its Praise At Feral Orange Tomcat.” Only Defense Secretary James Mattis didn’t play the game, instead praising the members of the military. Lesser noticed, however, is the parody that came from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Well worth watching! The article is also a detailed debunking of DDT’s claims. If you really want to read the comments ….

Being president makes a lot of money for DDT, and not just from his salary. His recent financial disclosure shows tens of millions of dollars in income from his “Trump” golf courses and resorts that get the biggest boosts from places he personally visits. One of these is Mar-a-Lago that doubled its 2016 incoe to $29 million. DDT visited at least one of his own properties in one-third of his first 108 days in office, 36 times. Details here.

Republican approval of how things are going in the U.S. dropped 17 points from 58 percent last month to 41 percent.

For the first time in his 22 weekends, DDT is not spending time at one of his golf courses or resorts. Instead, he has gone to the presidents’ retreat of Camp David. It may not be a common practice. DDT called Camp David “rustic” and said, “You know how long you’d like it? For about 30 minutes.” This facility does not require millions of dollars per visit like DDT’s time at his personal business places such as Mar-a-Lago and Bedminster (NJ). DDT should be okay: he’s only going overnight.

June 14, 2017

Media Consumed by Sessions’ Testimony, Emoluments Clause Lawsuits

The most transparent—in some ways—action in Congress this week was the testimony of AG Jeff Sessions when he complained about “scurrilous” allegations, waffled on some answers, and claimed that “only the president can claim executive privilege.” The head of the Department of Justice doesn’t even know the law: both presidents and members of their administration can refuse to answer questions or even respond to subpoenas. Sessions passed along an erroneous perspective of executive privilege that Brian Williams falsely confirmed on MSNBC.  The AG found himself in a pickle with his false claim.

John McCain (R-AZ), a guest at the hearing because he is on another committee, complained about Kamala Harris (D-CA) who tried to keep Sessions from limiting her questions by talking nonstop. A notable Sessions quote to her is that being rushed “makes me nervous.” Chair Richard Burr allowed Sessions to take up time by grandstanding Harris’ (left) questions, the same way that he did last week in testimony by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Sessions smirked when he was able to avoid her last “yes or no” question. He had preceded his stalling by vigorously stating, ”I am not stonewalling.” (It’s not good when a person has to deny this!) People being questioned know that senators have a finite number of minutes, and they can avoid embarrassing questions by stalling. Sessions insisted that he didn’t answer questions because DDT may want to declare executive privilege any time in the future.

Sessions declared that he was “following the historic policies of the Department of Justice” by not answering questions, but he could not cite any of these policies when Harris asked him about specifics.  Other senators brought up former AG Eric Holder’s refusal to discuss conversations with President Obama as precedent for Sessions’ refusals to answer questions, not a good idea because he was held in contempt. As Sessions pointed out, however, he was testifying in front of his “colleagues” so there probably won’t be a problem of that sort.

The male senators have a history of reprimanding only female senators. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) silenced Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) during confirmation hearings for Sessions and then complained, “Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Much of Sessions’ testimony was “I can’t answer that” and “I can’t recall.” But other parts were more revealing than that from James Comey, who released his information the day before the hearing.

  • Sessions claimed at the beginning of the hearing that he had no third meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak but he started to hedge his answers about the issue throughout his testimony.
  • Sessions claimed that he had recused himself from all DDT ties to Russia the day after he was sworn into office, but there is a question why no one—not the public and not his associates—knew about the recusal for another month.
  • Sessions said he doesn’t know if Russia was involved with the presidential election because he didn’t read anything about the possibility except in the media.
  • Sessions covered for DDT by disclaiming Comey’s testimony, finally exploding into calling it a “secret innuendo.”

GOP senators may have covered for Sessions in the hearing, but Burr did request—very politely—further information and documents from him.

On the same day that Sessions gave his weak testimony, at least 196 Democrats in Congress sued DDT for violating the Emolument Clause, the part of the U.S. Constitution that prevents presidents from taking gifts from foreign nations without the approval of Congress. Like other lawsuits against DDT in connection with the Emoluments Clause, this one will ask that DDT reveal his business affairs and put his holdings in a blind trust or sell them. A court ruling for these members of Congress to proceed would make history as the first since the U.S. became a country.

Other lawsuits come from owners of businesses in Washington, D.C. competing with DDT’s hotels and restaurants and the states of D.C. and Maryland represented by their attorneys general because businesses are at a disadvantage. Soon after DDT’s inauguration, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sued DDT on the same basis of the other lawsuits. There is no precedent for the suit, now pending in New York, but an argument for dismissing the case is lack of standing for the plaintiffs. Several examples of DDT profiting are listed in the lawsuit, including the lease for the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China that is due to expire during DDT’s term. Favorable terms for the rental could be a financial gift to the president.

Government lawyers contend that this prohibition doesn’t count for DDT. If a federal court decides whether the case can continue, the plaintiffs will request that DDT’s personal tax returns be publicly revealed.

Another media concern for the week is whether DDT plans to fire the special investigator selected by Rosenstein to investigate Russia–and probably DDT. Technically, he cannot do that, but he can fire Rosenstein and keep replacing him until he finds someone for the Justice Department who will then fire the investigator. Sessions has no control because he has recused himself, but he may violate the recusal as he has in recommending that James Comey be fired. At this time, the White House claims that there are no plans to get rid of the investigator because staffers begged him to do it, but DDT’s decision depends on who he talked with last.

Last week, DDT’s declaration of “Infrastructure Week” failed to draw attention from James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He tried the same thing this week with a focus on workplace development. At the same time, people are learning more about the workplaces that provide clothing for daughter Ivanka Trump’s business. Ivanka’s claim of “women’s empowerment” and “paid child care” rings hollow with the revelation that the women working in the factory manufacturing Ivanka-branded clothing make so little that they cannot afford to live with their children. Employees at the factory in Subang (Indonesia) earn $173 a month, the lowest legal wage in the entire country. The factory does give them an extra $10.50 if they don’t take time off for menstrual periods.

Workers making Ivanka’s clothes in China earned about $62 per week, below the legal minimum wage, and sometimes work 86 hours overtime a month with the legal limit at 36 hours. Since April, Ivanka has said that they no longer buy clothes from that factory—maybe because Indonesia is cheaper. That was the rationale for moving Ivanka’s shoe factory from China to Ethiopia last year: five Ethiopians at the Addis Ababa are paid the same as one Chinese worker.

Spearheaded by Ivanka Trump, the week focuses on promotion of expansion of apprenticeship programs. Will this allow lower pay than minimum wage so that Ivanka’s and DDT’s business purchases can come to the U.S.? The media has paid almost no attention, however, as Jeff Sessions, Russia, and lawsuits are swallowing up the news.

May 20, 2017

DDT: Week Seventeen outside Russia

You Can Make a Difference: You can make your voice heard! The Department of Interior is considering rollbacks for protections of up to 27 national monuments;  the public comment period ends on May 26 for Utah’s Bears Ears and on July 20 for all the others. All the monuments, created after 1996, that are considered for the chopping block are larger than 100,000 acres. They were created through the 1906 Antiquities Act, but the law has never been used to eliminate them. The plan by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is probably to open these public lands to logging, mining, and grazing. One of the monuments being considered is the Grand Canyon-Parashant on the north side of the Colorado River. More advice on protesting the elimination of public lands.

Last week’s news about DDT concentrated on connections with Russia, including his telling Russian officials in the Oval Office that former FBI director James Comey is a “nut job” and firing him took off “great pressure because of Russia.” But DDT was surrounded by far more issues.

DDT’s lack of financial transparency has become murkier since his tax attorneys told him to submit an updated financial disclosure in lieu of his tax returns without signing it, meaning that he won’t certify the information as true. Director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, said that his office required DDT’s signature for certification, and DDT claimed that he will certify the information by mid-June. Without the signature, incorrect financial information cannot result in a fine or referral for criminal persecution. The same lawyers at Morgan Lewis also wrote a letter testifying to DDT’s lack of financial ties with Russia except for about $100 million. The longtime firm for the Trump Organization was named Russia Law Firm of the Year in 2016.

Sheriff David Clarke, under scrutiny for the death of a man denied water for a week in Clarke’s jail in Milwaukee (WI), said he will be assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security. He calls transgender people mentally ill, that they lead a “freakish lifestyle, and he asked for “pitchforks and torches” in response to the Supreme Court legalizing marriage equality. Clarke also referred to Islam as “a sick ideology” and that “we ought to just try to kill it.” He plagiarized chunks of his 2013 master’s thesis on U.S. security and wears medals that are probably not legitimate, according to veterans.

Another inappropriate DDT nominee is his possible selection of former Sen. Joe Lieberman for FBI director. In addition to great antipathy from Democrats because of his past actions, Lieberman is employed by the law firm that has represented DDT for at least six years. Nominating the 75-year-old man would indicate a heavy politicization for a position that should be independent and separate from any branches of the government, including the executive. His selection of the lately-come conservative, however, fits DDT’s neocon philosophy because Lieberman fails to see the importance of Bill of Rights protections.

DDT also plans to appoint Newt Gingrich’s ex-mistress and now wife, Callista, as ambassador to the Vatican. At least the country would have one woman.

DDT’s hosting his tyrant-of-the-week, Turkish President Recep Erdogan, led to the injury of 11 people when members of Erdogan’s security detail attacked peaceful protesters across from the Turkish embassy. Nine of the injured were sent to the hospital after Erdogan watched the attack from his car. The Turkish government described the protesters as “terrorists” and said that the demonstrators were being “provocative.” DDT said nothing about the attacks but compliments Erdogan for his leadership. New Jersey resident Ceren Borazan, one of the attack victims wrote:

“My Kurdish friends and allies were protesting peacefully against Erdogan being in Washington when were suddenly attacked by a group of Erdogan’s official bodyguards and secret police. They attacked women, children and elderly with reckless abandon.”

Borazan was strangled, punched and kicked by Erdogan’s personal guards. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said, “This is the United States of America. We do not do this here. There is no excuse for this thuggish behavior.” Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) agreed and called on the State Department and DOJ to press charges. He said, “Agents of foreign governments should never be immune from prosecution for felonious behavior.” The attackers are probably protected by diplomatic immunity.

The GOP party that claims a belief in states’ rights has blocked a rule encouraging states to create retirement plans for private-sector workers whose employers don’t provide these plans. The rule would have exempted these state plans from the law that outlines rules for workplace savings. Last month the GOP eliminated this benefit for cities and counties. In fact, the rollback of the rule sends more money to Wall Street, showing that the GOP loves regulations that send money to the wealthiest. The GOP plan keeps people from saving before taking away their Social Security.

With the daily DDT scandals, Republican members of Congress are avoiding television appearances. CBS This Morning invited 20 Republican lawmakers and White House staff to appear on the program; they all declined. Chris Hayes reported the same for his MSNBC program. Even Fox is having trouble, and Tucker Carlson said that Kellyanne Conway backed out of her scheduled appearance on his show.. Fox and Friends had to resort to its news of the day—the cancellation of Tim Allen’s sitcom.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer may be on the way out, and Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle, self-proclaimed “patriot,” has said that she’s “in conversations” for the job. She lists “deep knowledge” as a requirement for the job, but she’s already passed the “leaking” qualification.  Another one is her support for a leader—like Putin or Netanyahu—who can easily destroy ISIS with military force, troops, and bombings. Putin, according to Guilfoyle, could fix the United States if he led the country for 48 hours. Her strongest credential for DDT, however, is her statement on Fox that James Clapper said in his Senate testimony about Russia that “there is no evidence of collusion.” That’s what DDT said, but Clapper said the opposite.

The White House staff members have become so manipulative that they are feeding DDT false information. K.T. McFarland gave DDT a printout of two Time covers about a coming ice age and surviving global warming. DDT doesn’t look at the Internet so he didn’t know that 1970s cover were part of a hoax circulating for years. He attaches so much significance to printouts he receives that they guide his agenda and control his appointments. Last February someone gave DDT a printout from the fake GotNews.com about deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh being behind numerous leaks, and she was forced out of the White House.

Imagine if Dictator Donald Trump had to pay expenses—including those for the Secret Service—to travel to his own properties where he makes money from the visits? That’s a bill that Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) has introduced. The Stop Waste and Misuse by the President (SWAMP) Act states that Trump’s travel “results in the American taxpayer effectively subsidizing the president’s businesses.”

DDT sniveled his way through a graduation address at the Coast Guard Academy, well described here. In response to his complaint that “no politician in history … has been treated worse or more unfairly,” CNN’s Jake Tapper responded, “Four U.S. Presidents have been actually literally assassinated and killed.” DDT was addressing young people who will be putting themselves into physical danger—unlike DDT who dodged the draft.

A couple bits of good news: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed the Fairbanks Declaration over a week ago, indicating the need to slow the impact of climate change in the Arctic. And the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal for the decision from the 4th Circuit Court to strike down North Carolina’s voter restriction law. A judge in the lower court ruling had stated that the state’s ballot restrictions targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.” The law had required approved ID, dropped early voting from 17 to 10 days, stopped out-of-precinct voting, blocked same-day registration and voting, and eliminating preregistration by 16-year-olds. It may be a temporary fix because GOP state legislators are already planning another path to voter suppression.

Update on Jason Chaffetz from the May 10 post: He announced his resignation on June 30 and told lawmakers that he’ll be on the Fox network. Even conservatives are not happy about his bailing out a job he took only six months ago. Why is he leaving? Family is always cited, but does he think that the Russian scandal could bring him down? Meanwhile, colleagues are telling him to immediately step down from his committee chair position.

DDT may think that his days are numbered in the White House. He’s put his Caribbean estate for sale at a greatly inflated price, probably looking for another Russian billionaire to grab it up while DDT is still supposedly president. Emolument’s Clause, anyone?

Robin Bell’s projection art at DDT’s Washington hotel is the most recent in the anti-DDT artistic movement and the fifth of his Bell’s projections. This one protests DDT’s on-going violation of the Emoluments Clause preventing him from taking “gifts” from foreign nations.

A picture is worth a thousand words! A rogue Barnes & Noble shopper revised the book display touting Ivanka Trump’s new book.

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