Nel's New Day

May 17, 2020

DDT: Week 173 – The Friday Night Dump—and More

In the past, the notorious news release on late Friday night has been with the hope that it will fade by Monday when people pay attention. That theory has disappeared with the prevalence of internet users and the growing fixation of media watching. Yet Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues his purge on Friday, last night the retaliatory firing of State Department inspector general Steve Linick, the third Friday move in three weeks to dump people who alienated DDT. Linick’s sins:

  • July 1, 2019: Investigating the use of tax-payer Diplomatic Security agents to run personal errands such as picking up takeout food by State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo and his wife. (Agents called themselves “UberEats with guns.”
  • August 2019: Issued a report alleging State Department leaders mistreated and harassed staffers, accusing them of disloyalty to DDT.
  • October 2, 2019: Gave documents about Ukraine disinformation to the House’s impeachment inquiry into DDT that personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani gave the State Department
  • November 14, 2019: Released a finding that DDT’s high-ranking political appointees retaliated against  career civil servant while Rex Tillerson was Secretary of State. 

DDT’s real reason, however, may have come after House COVID-19 legislation provides the inspector general would have oversight for funding in the bill passed yesterday. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) tweeted how the firing was shameful:

“Another late Friday night attack on independence, accountability, and career officials. At this point, the President’s paralyzing fear of any oversight is undeniable.”

DDT’s replacement, director of the State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions Steve Akard, withdrew his nomination in 2017 to become director general of the Foreign Service because of opposition. Akard, a former Mike Pence underling in Indiana when the VP was governor, was rejected because of lack of experience and a political appointee. The appointment of Akard bypasses Linick’s deputy, Diana Shaw. 

On Friday, May 1, Acting HHS IG Christi Grimm was fired after 8:00 pm; on Friday, April 3, Intelligence IG Michael Atkinson was fired at 10:00 pm. Acting Defense Department IG Glenn Fine went on April 7. The person in that position oversees DDT’s handling of $2.3 trillion in the “stimulus package.”

In a problem for DDT, Michael Pack, nominee to lead the Agency for Global Media overseeing the Voice of America and other news outlets, is being investigated for unlawful use of $1.6 million from his nonprofit, Public Media Lab, that were sent to his independent production company, Manifold Productions. Pack refused to send requested documents to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for almost eight months, and his vote before a panel for his confirmation last Thursday was postponed. The D.C. attorney general’s office has been asked to look into the allegation. DDT has threatened to adjourn Congress so that he can make any appointments he wants without confirmation. He also accused the Voice of America of promoting Chinese propaganda for its independent reporting. VP Mike Pence also threatened a Voice of America reporter with retaliation for disclosing that Pence was told his needed to wear a mask to visit the Mayo Clinic last month. The truth was especially embarrassing for Pence because his wife, Karen Pence, claimed that her husband didn’t know about the mask policy what was posted on the walls.

DDT can fire anyone he wants in the executive branch, but he doesn’t have the same rights in Congress. To purge someone, therefore, he needs to run a smear campaign against him—like he did against Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) with the help of his fixit AG Bill Barr. Thanks to the DOJ, the FBI raided Burr’s house and took his cell phone in an insider trading case. Burr has been removed from his chairmanship of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence which just happens to be investigating the connection between the Russian influence on the 2016 election and DDT. The committee has one more segment of their report to release.

Burr’s sell-off of his stock may be hinky, but he isn’t alone in the behavior. Other senators—Diane Feinstein (D-CA), James Inhofe (R-OK), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA)—took the same action. Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), brother of DDT’s Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, made millions by selling stock options just before the market crash this spring and then buying them back. After Perdue received classified information about COVID-19, he sold his casino shares before the market crash and bought Pfizer (drugs) and DuPont (medical supplies). Burr is just alone in being investigated.

Before Burr stepped down, he asked DDT to quickly declassify the last of five parts of their Russian investigation, a bipartisan effort. The executive branch determines what is declassified, and the finale to the committee’s work may never see the light of day. With the top Democratic senator on the Intelligence committee, Virginia’s Mark Warner, Burr issued a statement that they would release an unclassified version on the Senate floor even if there is no declassification. Lawmakers cannot be prosecuted for what they say as part of the legislative process. An Alaska senator entered 4,000 pages of the classified Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record. The first four parts of Burr’s committee were on U.S. election security, Russia’s use of social media, the Obama administration response to the interference, and the January 2017 Intelligence Committee Assessment validating the intelligence analysis describing Russia interference include efforts to help DDT win the election as accurate, thorough, and untainted by political bias.   

White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow wants to cut in half the taxes for corporations, already slashed by 40 percent to only 21 percent, if they bring their operations back to the U.S. Other perks would be liability protection and a payroll tax cut for returning businesses, taking money from Social Security and Medicare.

The Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, warned of an “extended period” of weak economic growth, promised to use the U.S. central bank’s power, and asked for more spending to help the economy. Interest rates were almost zero before the virus epidemic because of DDT’s insistence, and the lending to companies and first-ever corporate bond purchases have set precedents. At this time, Powell promised the interest rates wouldn’t go into the negative zone below zero.

DDT keeps trying to persuade investors that the downturn in the stock market will shoot up any day now and makes other promises such as a vaccine by the end of the year. Small investors may not worry about the market’s volatility despite its falling three days during the past week, but they should. Those who think that the markets will follow a “V” shape, bounding right back, should note that stock prices starting to fall in September 2007 during the Great Recession didn’t bottom out for 17 months and the fall during the Great Depression from October 1929 until the middle of 1932 dropped the market 80 percent. Stocks didn’t come back until the mid-1950s. The market would give a bounce and then drop again.

While Republicans demonize China to distract people from DDT’s COVID-19 failure, Cabinet members, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, are making money off their relationships with the country. Others with personal business interests are Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) wife, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue (brother of Georgia’s senator discussed above).

According to a newly released transcript, DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner “misled” Congress about his friend who provided a backchannel to Russia. The House hearing in 2017, run by Republicans, failed to elicit the information that Rick Gerson acted as a Kushner operative who also worked for the UAE and secretly met with a Russian hedge fund manager in the Seychelles.

DDT is desperately looking for photo ops and campaign rallies outside the White House, but a Pennsylvania factory manufacturing PPE canceled “a presidential visit” because of health reasons. Masks are a big issue with DDT who never wears one, and Pence rarely does. On a visit to an Alexandria nursing home, he stood closely to staff with no protective gear, accompanied by his press secretary Katie Miller who tested positive for COVID-19 the next day. She also didn’t wear a mask. DDT found another PPE factory in Pennsylvania to visit—still no mask

Almost a week ago, the public learned that three White House aides—one each for DDT, Pence, and Ivanka Trump—tested positive for COVID-19 as well as 11 Secret Service agents. Since then there have been no new reports of confirmed cases, but DDT was so furious at the earlier revelations that staff may be hiding any new cases.

At the unveiling of his new space force flag, DDT, looking happier than he has for months, bragged about the military developing a new “super duper” missile traveling 17 times faster than anything the U.S. has. Either the Pentagon doesn’t know anything about the missile, or it doesn’t want to talk about it. Defense Secretary Mark Esper didn’t elaborate when asked for specifics.

While DDT ignores COVID-19, the number of confirmed cases went above 1.5 million and the deaths are over 90,000—headed for over 100,000 by the end of the month.

April 11, 2020

A Week of New ‘Loyalists’ for DDT’s Coterie

Wisconsin’s Tuesday election keeps getting worse and worse. Thousands of requested absentee ballots in a hotly-contested Wisconsin election were never delivered or too late for the U.S. Supreme Court deadline to return, in a scenario probably leading to court cases on the event’s validity. The margin in the state’s 2019 Supreme Court race was about 6,000 votes.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the post office may not have placed a postmark on ballots when they were mailed in or not put dates on the postmark. Ballots sent by metered mail on April 7 may have postmarks indicating that the ballots were mailed with no specific date, just “APR 2020.”  The U.S. Supreme Court demanded that all mail-in ballots be postmarked by 4:00 pm on April 7. The court ruling may disenfranchise thousands and thousands of additional eligible voters who followed the rules. The state’s election commission agreed to count ballots with that postmark if the USPS states that this postmark was used only on April 7.

The Wisconsin requirement was that the ballot be received by April 13, but the U.S. Supreme Court changed that requirement the day before the election, violating the reason for their ruling—that changes to election rules not be made immediately before the date of the election. Another question is whether to count ballots arriving on Wednesday, April 8, because they had to be mailed by Tuesday, April 7, at the latest to arrive the next day. Ballots with no postmark on Thursday may not be counted although they could have been mailed at the appropriate time. The Supreme Court decision, a “stay pending appeal,” blocked a lower court order from taking effect while a full appeal follows a tortured path through the appellate process. No one knows if counting ballots will have further federal litigation. The high court disregarded its ordinary procedures in a ruling for Republicans in the Wisconsin election case just as it has for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the past.

As Rick Hasen wrote: 

“The biggest problem with the Supreme Court’s opinion in the Wisconsin voting case was not the result (which was still wrong), but the Court’s sloppiness and nonchalance about voting rights and what that means for November.”

Election officials plan to start counting Wisconsin ballots at 4:00 pm on Monday, April 13. Madison has also received absentee ballots with two postmarks, one before the deadline and one after. About 50 ballots also lacked witness signatures. Thus far, an organization has recorded over 2,100 cases of voters who requested but did not receive absentee ballots. Election officials plan to start counting Wisconsin ballots at 4:00 pm on Monday, April 13. 

Eliminating voter rights wasn’t the only corruption from last week.

Last week, DDT continued his purging the U.S. intelligence agencies when he fired Michael Atkinson, the community’s inspector general in retribution for Atkinson’s legal action. One reason was DDT’s act of revenge for Atkinson’s telling Congress about a whistleblower’s complaint that revealed DDT’s extortion of Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Three days later, DDT attacked Christi A. Grimm, the acting HHS IG who released a report on hospitals’ struggles to cope with COVID-19 patients. The report included 323 hospitals in 46 states that contradicted DDT’s claims that everything in the hospitals was just fine. Grimm found a “severe” and “widespread” shortage of testing supplies and protective gear at hospitals dealing with the pandemic.

Tuesday, Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine, designated to oversee the $2.2 trillion for the coronavirus disaster, hit DDT’s chopping block by moving him to a deputy IG. Picked by the head of a council of IGs, Fine would have led the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to conduct and coordinate audits, but his position as deputy disqualifies him from leading the committee. Investigators are to search for waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer money in the disbursement of loans, loan guarantees, and financial payments to households and businesses. As a deputy IG, Fine is disqualified to lead the committee.

DDT replaced Fine with the unqualified Jason Abend to the new Defense Department IG, responsible for overseeing audits and criminal investigations of nearly $700 billion in annual spending. Abend is a Customs and Border Protection policy adviser who had previously been special agent at the Federal Finance Housing Agency and HUD. Until Abend is confirmed by the GOP senators who will confirm a ham sandwich, however, Sean Donnell, IG at the EPA will do double duty by also being acting Defense Department IG. Being IG is an easy job under DDT because he doesn’t want any investigations.

Grimm could also be removed from the pandemic committee if she is no longer IG, and DDT has nominated a new Education IG to disqualify the current IG on the panel by moving him to deputy IG. Senate would have to confirm DDT’s appointment before that would happen.

DDT is also appointing his White House lawyer Brian Miller as a special IG at the Treasury Department to oversee distribution of $500 billion to distressed industries. His work is supposed to be coordinated with the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. Miller helped put together DDT’s defense for the Senate impeachment trial and will easily manage gifts to DDT’s political allies and donors. During negotiations for the $2.2 trillion bill, DDT said, “I’ll be the oversight.” Now he figured out a way to do it. DDT’s pick will need to deal with a five-member oversight commission: one of them jointly picked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the other four each picked by one of the four congressional leaders. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has selected Bharat Ramamurti, a former top aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

DDT also threatened to fire seven more IGs. Before DDT, Republicans thought that government oversight was important. Former Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), House Oversight Committee Chair, called the Obama administration “the most corrupt government in history” and said about funding during that time, much less than DDT’s new slush fund:

“This money, at the American people’s expense, going through the hands of political leaders, is in fact corrupting the process.”

Some Republicans who exonerated DDT for impeachment because they thought he had “learned his lesson” are getting nervous, especially about DDT’s firing Atkinson. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), endorsed by Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Democrat senators, asked DDT for an explanation.

Progressives are pressing congressional members to stop the firing of IGs except for highly limited circumstances, like an amendment the House passed in 2008 for the Inspectors General Act. The Senate axed that provision, but similar legislation has again been introduced.

DDT managed another slush fund in the $2.2 trillion bill through a last-minute provision allowing the Federal Reserve to set up a $450 billion bailout plan with minimal oversight. These funds are exempt from the federal open meetings law without requirements for announcing meetings and keeping records about discussions. The record of votes will be secret until after the health crisis ends. Charles Glasser, media attorney, said:

“We may never know what terms are being given to banks, what collateral is being offered, what repayment methods and duties banks and other financial institutions may have, and those are important questions.”

AG Bill Barr went on Fox’s Laura Ingraham show to support DDT’s firing of Fine, known as a bulldog investigator. Part of Barr’s defense is the ongoing criminal investigation into the FBI’s Russia investigation for possible abuse or improprieties headed by Barr’s guy. Barr described the investigation as a “sprawling case” that “takes some time” to fully investigate. He also accused media criticism of DDT’s pushing an unproved drug, hydroxychloroquine, for COVID-19 of being a “jihad.” Barr may not realize that jihad means “striving for the benefit of the community” or a fight against Satan.

Another empty seat in the administration is that of acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly who spent $243,000 to fly to Guam to speak to the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt after he fired its captain for saving the crew from possible death and more illness from COVID-19. In his address to the crew who had cheered the captain, Modley called the captain stupid, later apologized, and “voluntarily resigned” his position after talking with Defense Department Secretary Mark Esper.

DDT has become the wrecking ball of the federal administration.

Today’s world deaths (108,834) from 1,780,440 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 210 countries and territories. On April 11, the U.S. has 20,577 deaths in 532,879 confirmed cases. 

February 9, 2020

DDT: Week 159 – ‘Vengeance Is Mine, Saith the Lord.’

On Thursday, self-appointed “lord,“ Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) began his retaliation for government officials who were not willing to lie for him. His frequently-used words “vicious” and “horrible” for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) came in his vicious and horrible speech at the National Prayer Breakfast and his attacks on the religious beliefs of Pelosi and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). DDT accused Romney of using “religion as a crutch” and called Pelosi a liar for saying that she prays. His GOP sycophants fed his ego for his ramblings that made the annual religious event into a partisan campaign meeting. DDT’s hateful comments followed Arthur Brooks’ keynote speech about loving one’s enemies and taking contempt out of one’s heart, just like Jesus. DDT disagrees with Jesus.

Later that day, he spread more vitriol from the White House and topped off his comments by threatening revenge. DDT repeated false conspiracy theories about Joe Biden’s non-existent corrupt dealings in Ukraine and then held up his own family, who are making a fortune off DDT’s position in the Oval Office, as perfection. “I’m really not a bad person,” DDT said defensively.

The GOP senators who said that he’s “learned his lesson” tried to protect Gordon Sondland, a big GOP donor. Running for reelection in 2020, GOP Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Martha McSally (AZ), and Thom Tillis (NC) asked DDT to let Sondland resign because they want his money this year; Ron Johnson (WI) echoed them to get donations for 2022. About the firing of Vindman, Tillis said that DDT “gets to set foreign policy.” Collins excused DDT for his purging of witnesses because that wasn’t part of her definition of “lesson.”

AG Bill Barr and GOP senators already announced their plans to investigate the Bidens. DDT’s Treasury Department, which is protecting his income tax returns, has turned over information to Senate Republicans on Hunter Biden with no subpoenas and “producing ‘evidence’ of questionable origin,” according to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The Treasury Department has violated the law by refusing to turn over DDT’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. A whistleblower has also claimed that officials protected DDT’s taxes from an audit. In the next big cover up, Barr announced all investigations of 2020 candidates require his clearance

According to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Face the Nation, DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani is also looking for “dirt” on the Bidens that he is submitting directly to Barr. Graham’s interviewer, Margaret Brennan said that the channel between Giuliani and Barr sounds like a “taxpayer-funded research operation against Joe Biden” which was the basis of the impeachment probe.

In the Atlantic, McKay Coppins explains how DDT is spending $1 billion to spread disinformation and destroy faith in the media. Part of the disinformation will probably be DDT’s latest lie about his investigation into the Bidens. “I had to do it,” he claimed, because of a treaty between Ukraine and the U.S. that states nothing about “corruption” in Ukraine. DDT ignored 330,000 companies in Ukraine to focus on a political opponent.

Friday, DDT full-throatedly began his vengeance with the “Friday Night Massacre.” He fired:

  • National Security Council aid Alexander Vindman and had him walked off the White House grounds after Vindman testified under subpoena at a House Intelligence Committee hearing;
  • Vindman’s twin brother, also on the National Security Council, for—nothing;
  • Gordon Sondland, who also testified after subpoenas, after he paid $1 million to be appointed ambassador to the European Union.

At least one expert called the firing of both Vindmans and Sondland a “criminal action,” but GOP senators told DDT he can do anything he wants.

Fewer than half of the 18 people who testified in the impeachment inquiry—Michael Atkinson, Laura Cooper, Catherine Croft, David Hale, David Holmes, George Kent, Philip Reeker, and Mark Sandy—are still in their positions: Jennifer Williams has been moved out of the White House, and gone are Christopher Anderson, Fiona Hill, Michael McKinley, Tim Morrison, Bill Taylor, Marie Yovanovitch, and Kurt Volker, some of them retired rather than fired. People familiar with the whistleblower say the person is still doing his intelligence job for the CIA although people such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) are working hard to destroy him.

Fewer than half of the 18 people who testified in the impeachment inquiry—Michael Atkinson, Laura Cooper, Catherine Croft, David Hale, David Holmes, George Kent, Philip Reeker, and Mark Sandy—are still in their positions: Jennifer Williams has been moved out of the White House, and gone are Christopher Anderson, Fiona Hill, Michael McKinley, Tim Morrison, Bill Taylor, Marie Yovanovitch, and Kurt Volker, some of them retired rather than fired. People familiar with the whistleblower say the person is still doing his intelligence job for the CIA although people such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) are working hard to destroy him.

Firing is in the Washington air: VA Secretary Robert Wilkie fired his deputy secretary James Byrne. An independent investigation found that Wilkie personally looked for damaging information about a congressional aide because she said she was sexually assaulted in a VA hospital in an effort to discredit her. Wilkie is DDT’s fourth VA secretary.

DDT cheered after a federal appeals court rejected an emoluments lawsuit from over 200 Congressional Democrats. He’s not yet off the hook because the ruling didn’t address whether DDT’s business dealings are illegal. The D.C. Circuit Court ruled that the Democrats lacked legal standing, but they might proceed if a congressional chamber formally authorized the lawsuit.

A WaPo reporter has found more evidence of DDT’s profit-making off federal money by charging the Secret Service up to $650 per night lodging at his clubs, charges paid by taxpayers. At Bedminster, the Secret Service was charged $17,000 per month for a three-bedroom on DDT’s property even when DDT wasn’t there. Average rental rate for comparable properties in the area is $3,400, and the highest noted is $8,500. Secret Service agents are exempt from per diem requirements. The $471,000 taxpayer payments to DDT’s companies come from only a fraction of DDT’s travel. While campaigning, DDT said he would have no time to travel if he were elected, but he has spent one-third of his time at his private cubs and hotels, always accompanied by the Secret Service. Past presidents—George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush—did not charge for the Secret Service staying with them. Payments to DDT are not listed in public databases of federal spending, and the Secret Service is paying a great deal at DDT’s D.C. hotel although DDT has not stayed there since his inauguration.

Walter Shaub, former head of the U.S. Office of Government, has a chart of DDT’s conflicts of interest. Shaub warned that “this is just the start.”

DDT plans to destroy tribal cultural areas, rare rock art, 75 million-year-old dinosaur fossils, and natural landscapes by permitting mining, drilling, grazing, logging, road development, and off-road-vehicle use in Utah’s national monuments. Although cases are in the courts, the Interior Department plans to continue before the legal process is settled because I moves too slowly.

On January 31, DDT designated the entire Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency a “Security Agency” with the same secrecy as high intelligence agencies such as the FBI and Secret Service and the ability to hide records from the public. The new classification exempts “all CBP employee names from subsequent responses to Freedom of Information Act requests or other public disclosures for CGP employee data.” CBP now has spying powers of the recognized 18 intelligence agencies. Earlier the Office of Intelligence and Analysis had received the ability to reject any FOIA requests.

Last month, an active-duty U.S. soldier who was born in Iran and traveling as part of U.S. official duty was detained and harassed by border agents after having their telephone confiscated. The telephone still hasn’t been returned to the soldier. The action was taken as part of a CBP strategy to block U.S. citizens of Iranian heritage from returning to their homes after attending a concert in Vancouver, BC. Officials claimed they had no directive to detain Iranian Americans, but a leaked document from the Seattle Field Office ordered targeting Iranian Americans for secondary screening based on their country of origin.

A second court case has exonerated humanitarian aid volunteers who provide water and food in the southern Arizona desert. A U.S. District judge reverse the conviction of four people and permitted their religious freedom to prevail. Four months ago, Scott Warren was successful in his religious freedom defense after providing food, water, and clothing to men in the desert. The judge in the second case described the government defense of “deterrence by death” as “gruesome” and “unsupported by evidence” because it’s dependent on killing people as a deterrence.

The man elected as U.S. president has time to rage about photos of him, this one showing the line at the edge of his face because of the bronze goo he slathers on his skin. No, it’s not from Photoshopping as he claims, but he did think his hair looked “good.” 


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