Nel's New Day

March 3, 2018

DDT: Week 58 – Russia, Guns

[Note: Survivors of the Parkland (FL) school shooting cannot get a permit for their March for Our Lives on March 24 because a student group “at a local educational institution” wants to film a talent show on the Mall on that date. That permit states, “Games will be the main activity for filming,” and equipment listed “two tables, two bikes, and jump ropes.” March for Our Lives organizers planned their rally away from federal land and in D.C., on Pennsylvania Avenue between Third and 12th streets NW.]

The increasing fury from the tweets of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), such as his primal scream “WITCH HUNT,” has been worsened by revelations about White House policy possibly being directed by Jared Kushner’s need for money. The debt on his Fifth Avenue property, $1.4 billion, comes due next year. Investigations show possible connections between financing for Kushner’s family business and Kushner’s discussions with Qatar, Turkey, Russia, China, and the United Arab Emirates:

  • The punishing blockade against Qatar occurred after a Qatar billionaire decided not to invest in Kushner’s business.
  • Apollo Global Management loaned Kushner $184 million, triple the average size of a typical loan, after an Apollo founder Joshua Harris, advising DDT about infrastructure, met with Kushner about a White House job for Harris.
  • Israel’s Menora Mivtachim loaned $30 million to Kushner for additional equity in 10 Maryland apartment complexes just before DDT’s trip with Jared and Ivanka last May. Since then, DDT declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel and the move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
  • Citigroup loaned Kushner $325 million after Kushner met with a chief executive, Michael Corbat.

Kushner has now lost his high-level security clearance to a status below the White House chief calligrapher, which includes his losing access to DDT’s daily brief.

Robert Mueller’s investigation:

  • DDT’s attacks on AG Jeff Sessions for his handling of Sessions’ assignment of his inspector general to examine GOP accusations of FISA surveillance procedures as well as whether DDT tried to get rid of AG Jeff Sessions last summer to get control of the Russia investigation.
  • Whether DDT knew about Russia stealing DNC emails before the public was aware of the action and whether DDT knew when WikiLeaks was going to release the hacked emails. In July 2016, DDT asked Russia to find emails deleted by Hillary Clinton.
  • Whether DDT’s associate Roger Stone knew about the email information before it was public.  Stone lied about not having direct communication with WikiLeaks during DDT’s campaign. Democrats asked the House Intelligence Committee to subpoena WikiLeaks messages with Stone, but Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) and the other GOP members have refused.

Nunes did release the Democratic refutation of the GOP House Intelligence Committee memo and explanation of the warrant to surveil Carter Page. A government watchdog group filed a second ethics complaint against Nunes’ leaking private information from Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) to the Fox network about the Russian interference to the media. After some of Hope Hicks’ testimony was leaked, the two top members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, including GOP Richard Burr (NC), told House Speaker Paul Ryan about “concerns” regarding the operations of the House committee and accusations of the GOP illegal leaking.

The scariest Russian information this week came from Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency. He reported to the Senate Armed Services Committee that he cannot try to stop the Kremlin meddling—and perhaps control—of U.S. elections without presidential authorization—which DDT won’t give. Members of the NSC understand that DDT would perceive any discussion of the Russian problem as a personal affront. Rogers, due to retire in April, said, “President Putin has clearly come to the conclusion that there’s little price to pay and that therefore ‘I can continue this activity.’”

Vladimir Putin continues to make fools of conservatives, who he calls “useful fools.” In his latest address, Putin announced Russia has an “invincible” missile moving at hypersonic speed with an “unlimited” range that renders defense “completely useless.” He said that “any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies to be a nuclear attack on our country.” DDT had no response to Putin and saved his energy for tweeting against Alex [sic] Baldwin after his performance on Saturday Night Live.

DDT has a serious problem with his animosity toward Iran. He has incessantly threatened to sever the U.S. deal with Iran to keep it from developing nuclear weapons in order to please his base. At the same time, Russia, who DDT doesn’t dare offend, is building a closeness with Iran, becoming that country’s most important ally.

DDT is scapegoating former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe by accusing him of leaking information in October 2016 about conflict within the FBI and DOJ regarding Hillary Clinton’s family foundation and then intentionally misleading investigators about what he had done. The DOJ is also investigating former FBI director James Comey, his statement about closing the cases against Clinton’s email server without charges, and his decision to announce resumption of his work in this area only ten days before the presidential election. Last May, DDT asked McCabe in a meeting who McCabe voted for in that election and attacked him in tweets about his wife taking donations from a Democrat’s PAC for her political campaign. McCabe’s retirement is scheduled for March 18.

In trouble for paying legal fees defending DDT and Donald Trump Jr. in the Russian collusion, the RNC switched the monthly $37,541.67 to rent part of Manhattan’s Trump Tower. DDT’s election campaign also paid over $470,000 in rent for space at Trump Tower during 2017. Other RNC expenditures include $427,000+ expenditures at DDT’s properties such as Trump International Hotel (Washington, D.C.), Mar-a-Lago (Palm Beach), and Trump National Doral (Miami). DDT’s former bodyguard Keith Schiller collected $75,000 for “security services” immediately after Chief of Staff John Kelly fired Schiller in September, and the RNC said that he is being paid to consult on its 2020 convention site selection. VP Mike Pence’s son, John Pence, also gets over $7,000 a month for “consulting,” and DDT political ally Brad Parscale, DDT’s former campaign digital director and newly-named 2020 campaign director, got over $882,000 from the RNC in January.

Parscale sold his digital company last year for $10 million to CloudCommerce that it has not made a profit for almost ten years and spent over $19 million in investor money since it was started almost 20 years ago. At this time, CloudCommerce has $107,000. In 2006, a top executive was caught in an FBI bribery sting and pled guilty to securities fraud. Andrew Van Noy, Cloudcommerce’s chief executive, has earned less than $9,000 in each of the past three years and has faced six-figure debts from unpaid credit cards and repossessed cars while facing two real-estate fraud lawsuits. Parscale, a member of the board, hired Eric Trump’s wife, Lara, for an undisclosed amount.

DDT hasn’t said anything about the stock market since its volatility in early February, but his announcement of tariffs—25 percent on steels and 10 percent on aluminum—caused the markets to plummet again this week. A president can legally impose tariffs with proof that imports threaten U.S. national security. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross doesn’t believe in the significant “trickle-down” possibility of price hikes with taxes on imports. All DDT’s advisers and the GOP legislators opposed the move except the Commerce Department. Just days before the announcement, DDT’s former adviser Carl Icahn sold $31.3 million of stock in Manitowoc, a manufacturer relying on steel. It is the first time that Icahn trade these stocks in two years. DDT’s answer to global concerns both foreign and domestic is that “trade wars are good and easy to win.”

Traumatized by the tariffs, the GOP is also suffering from DDT’s statement:

“I like taking the guns. Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

The only gun position DDT has consistently kept this week is to arm the teachers, despite objections from diverse groups. Evidence supporting the insanity of arming teachers come from increasing news such as the “Teacher of the Year” in Georgia who fired a gun in his classroom this week, the six-year-old who found his teacher’s gun that had been left on the back of a toilet and the third-grader who reached into an armed guard holster and fired his gun.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto won’t be coming to visit DDT— Peña Nieto’s second cancellation since DDT’s inauguration because DDT won’t admit that Mexico won’t be building the wall. Mexican officials said that DDT “lost his temper” during the 50-minute telephone call; U.S. officials called him frustrated and exasperated. DHS Director Kirstjen Nielsen has canceled her visit to Mexico. Jared Kushner was in charge of U.S.-Mexico relationships.

More to come about appointments, resignations, lawsuits, etc. during Week 58.

September 2, 2016

Donald Trump’s Speech: ‘Make America White Again’

A trip to Mexico to meeting with president Enrique Peña Nieto followed by a bombastic anti-immigrant speech in Arizona sent Donald Trump’s mood soaring and conservative Hispanics fleeing. Trump’s advisors told him he had to take a hard line in order to keep his early followers, and Trump was also furious when Peña Nieto contradicted the candidate’s line by saying that Mexico wasn’t going to pay for the wall. Hours after meeting with Trump, Peña Nieto Mexico’s president defended himself against criticism by saying that Trump’s “policy stances could represent a huge threat to Mexico.”

Although fact-checking Trump’s statements is a fool’s errand, I can’t resist:

Illegal immigration is about 11.4 million—not 30 million as Trump declares—based on U.S. census, and Politifact has ruled his statement as Pants on Fire. Trump falsely conflates statistics on rates of taxes, crime, terrorism, unemployment, etc. More people left than came in between 2009 and 2014, a net loss of 140,000 immigrants

Bernie Sanders—not President Obama or Hillary Clinton—said that climate change is the biggest threat to U.S. security. The president has said that fighting terrorism and keeping U.S. safe—and defeating ISIL—is the top priority.

Immigrants commit violent crime at a lower rate than those born in the United States. The Obama Administration already prioritizes the deportation of undocumented criminals. Refugees already undergo the most rigorous (extreme?) vetting process of any category of immigrants entering the United States.

Trump has praised the president in the past for an unprecedented number of deported immigrants—totally different from an “open” border.

President Obama also increased Border Patrol staffing to an all-time high of 21,444 agents in 2011, and his administration has ended the practice of “voluntary returns,” or turning back Mexicans without any consequences used by earlier presidents, including Republicans. Many of the releases have been ordered by the courts, for example when a federal judge ruled that detention of children and their mothers violated a 1997 Court settlement.

Undocumented workers in the U.S. live under the risk of removal and don’t receive most government benefits. They aren’t treated better than veterans who have all government rights.

No politician has recommended amnesty for undocumented immigrants; the Senate bill of 2013, including former GOP presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), included many requirements on a 13-year path to citizenship including paying penalties. It also requested tens of millions of dollars to double the number of border patrol agents and greatly increase border security. According to the CBO, the bill would boost economic output and increase the GDP.

Trump’s promise to “complete the biometric entry-exit visa tracking system” doesn’t take into consideration its huge technical and financial problems. Of the 45 million people admitted annually—Trump’s wife possibly one of them—only one percent overstay their visas.

In the past, Trump campaigned by calling NAFTA a “disaster”; now he wants to “update” and “improve” the trade agreement.

The National Border Patrol Council did endorse Trump, but many of the members disagreed with the union leaders’ decision.  But it hasn’t been without controversy. The L.A. Times noted that “the rank-and-file seem as polarized about Trump as the rest of the nation, with some going so far as to challenge their union leaders’ decision.”

President Obama’s 2012 temporary deportation reprieve to children brought illegally to the U.S. made 600,000 young people eligible for work permits. His expansion to more immigrants is on hold after a 4-4 decision in the Supreme Court.

And the other generic lies: No, Mr. Trump, Hillary Clinton has not “evaded justice.” She DOES “have the strength or stamina” to lead the country.”The military is not “depleted.” Trump’s new campaign hires—Robert Mercer’s people—and his super PACs negate his claim that “nobody owns Trump.” Plus the wild claims such as getting the Middle Eastern countries paying to resettle refugees in their area because settling 100,000 refugees in the U.S. cost as many trillions of dollars a the national debt. 

Trump Watch: Quote of the week comes from a question by guest host Joy Reid on last night’s All In with Chris Hayes: “My culture is a very dominant culture. And it’s imposing and its causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner!”—Marco Gutierrez, Mexican-born Trump surrogate. The humor about “taco trucks on every corner.” The commentary from Washington Post is perhaps the best.

jacksonThe most bizarre event of the week, a very hard choice, is a leaked eight-page script of Trump’s attempt to win over blacks. Ridiculed by not going into black communities, Trump said he was attending a Detroit church and sitting in the congregation. Then he was going to make a video closed to the public and the press. The New York Times got the information about this “infomercial” with Bishop Wayne T. Jackson (right) of Great Faith Ministries International with not only the 12 questions to be asked but also the exactly-worded responses that Trump is supposed to use to woo a population that has now increased to a two-percent or less support. Campaign aides would also be editing the video. After the embarrassment of the NYT article, Trump said he would be speaking to the congregation, but then Jackson he wouldn’t be speaking. Plans may again change again.

Only one of this year’s four presidential candidates has a foundation that was fined for breaking the law, as Trump would say “pay for play.” The IRS fined Donald Trump $2,500 for donating $25,000 to the re-election campaign of Florida AG Pam Bondi from the Trump Foundation while her office was considering a case against Trump University. After the donation, Bondi dropped the case. The “charitable” Trump Foundation violated tax laws by giving a political contribution to Bondi’s campaign that they concealed by falsely listing in the 2013 tax filings as donated to a Kansas charity with a name similar to Bondi’s political group.

The moderators of four presidential debates have been announced—Lester Holt (September 26), Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz (October 9), and Chris Wallace (October 19). Four years ago, The Guardian described Radditz as calm, articulate and relentless after she moderated the vice-presidential debate. That may have been the reason that conservatives were so critical of her. One of her strengths is asking for specifics–something that Trump will hate. The vice-presidential debate on October 4 will be moderated by Elaine Quijano.

Trump’s campaign has a new hire, Deputy Campaign Manager David Bossie—confidant of manager Kellyanne Conway, CEO Stephen Bannon, and heavy funder Robert Mercer and family. In a move closer—if possible—to the conservative community, Bossie is king of Clinton conspiracy theories, with a sole goal of tearing down Hillary Clinton. His vicious attacks began over 25 years go in an attempt to keep Bill Clinton from being a presidential candidate.

By 1998, then House Speaker Newt Gingrich forced Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), chair of the chamber’s inquiry into Bill Clinton’s 1996 campaign finance practices, to oust Bossie, then an aide, because of Bossie’s unethical actions. He created the organization Citizens United Not Timid (note the acronym) that led the Supreme Court to create almost unlimited donations for campaigns through super PACs. Trump, who claims to hate these PACs, has now hired the person to make them possible. As Hrafnkell Haraldsson wrote, “New Trump Hire Proves Hillary Clinton’s Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Is Real.” This piece by Rachel Maddow is an excellent overview of Bossie.

Bossie and Bannon, along with polite Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, are members of the ultra-conservative Council for National Policy (CNP). It is so secretive that people are told not to admit their membership, name the group, or tell anyone when or where the group meets. People pay thousands of dollars to join the CNP only by invitation. As of 2014, Conway was on the executive committee, and Bannon was a general member. Other members include white supremacist leaders, birthers, and conspiracy “new” operation leaders.

New hires for Trump’s campaign may want to worry about getting paid. In the past, Trump has not paid many of his employees, and recent campaign workers, including campaign manager Paul Manafort, have not been paid months after they left. Trump’s super PAC does a better job of paying people: the firm that new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, owns was paid over $700,000 last year.

Friction is also building between the Trump and the RNC although chair Reince Priebus denies it. The discussion on this Sunday’s talk show may be lively. And beware the taco truck epidemic.

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