Nel's New Day

June 16, 2018

Court, Staff Problems for DDT

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) turned 72 this past week, trying to get out of lawsuits and scandals through a series of lies. Yet the information about his corrupt associates continues. More documents from DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen have been uncovered, including 731 pages of messages that he sent on such apps as WhatsApp and Signal that allow the content of the texts to remain encrypted. While getting data from a second phone, the FBI took 315 megabytes of data from one of his Blackberry phones. In addition, investigators reconstructed 16 pages of Cohen’s shredded documents. Yesterday was the deadline for Cohen to review hundreds of thousands of documents seized in the April raid of his office and home, and his lawyers disappeared yesterday, making him more likely to cooperate with the Russian investigation. The reason for the loss may be a fee dispute; Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said that Cohen’s bills could be as much as $500,000 per week. DDT’s campaign fund paid about $228,000 by the end of April, but it may have stopped because experts considered this to be potentially illegal.

Cohen is expecting to be arrested, and DDT is separating himself from his former friend. An opening gambit is DDT’s comment that anyone will lie to stay out of prison, insinuating that Cohen will take that tack. Leaks about Cohen’s legal problems may come from him in a signal to DDT that he will need a pardon. The pardon, however, would take away from using Fifth Amendment if he is called on to testify against someone else—like DDT. Meanwhile, however, Cohen fails in his search for a buyer for his expensive Trump building apartment and lawyers.

Cohen also failed in court to get a gag order on Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti to prevent him from speaking publicly about the lawsuit. Although Cohen had proclaimed “irreparable injury” to get the order, the judge regarded his request to be frivolous, “a complete joke and baseless” because Cohen “can’t deal with the truth, the facts, and the law.”

After several pundits said that Paul Manafort, former DDT campaign manager, should take a toothbrush with him to court, a judge ordered him to jail for tampering with witnesses while out on bail and waiting for trial on charges of federal conspiracy and money laundering. DDT again tried to minimize any relationship with Manafort and refused to talk about pardoning him. Rick Gates, Manafort’s deputy, pled guilty to lying to Mueller’s investigators and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

A judge did rule has that Robert Mueller’s office must reveal names of alleged foreign agents who worked with former DDT campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

DDT’s charitable foundation is in legal trouble for its “political coordination” with his presidential campaign, among other issues, but a major problem could be “a $150,000 donation that the Ukrainian billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, made in September 2015 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in exchange for a 20-minute appearance” from DDT via video in Kiev. Two weeks after DDT’s election, his foundation stated in a tax form that it may have been illegally benefited by the donation.

George Conway, husband of DDT’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, has come out with strong support of Robert Mueller’s legal authority in the Russia investigation in his essay “The Terrible Arguments against the Constitutionality of the Mueller Investigation.” A graduate of Harvard and Yale and a Republican, George Conway is an attorney who served as a clerk in the 2nd Circuit Court.

The DOJ has found several meetings between the NRA and elite Russians during the presidential campaign in its investigation about whether lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the organization. Influential Russians hosted NRA representatives in Moscow while the Kremlin hacked Democrat emails and put viral fake news on U.S. social media accounts to smear Hillary Clinton. Donating or using foreign money in U.S. election campaigns is a crime. The NRA, DDT’s biggest financial supporter, spent over $30 million, perhaps as much as $70 million, on his candidacy and has attempted to hide its expenditures and donors.

Russia also influenced the Brexit vote for the UK to leave the EU, and at least two of the British actors in this collusion also provided support for DDT’s campaign. Emails show that British businessman Arron Banks, the largest donor in UK history during the campaign for UK’s departure from the EU who denied Russian involvement, had several meetings with Russians during Brexit. Banks also admitted that he gave phone numbers for these Russians to people on DDT’s transition team. The defense of “witch hunt” is now becoming popular with Brexit supporter Banks.

DDT’s staff are still causing him trouble. DDT bragged about how “everybody wants to work in the White House,” but so few people want to work for him that officials are begging for employee candidates at a conservative job fair.

Marc Short, White House director of legislative affairs, plans to leave this summer. His leadership of DDT’s legislative agenda has not always been successful, and DDT has frequently criticized him while he goes out on his own to make his own unsuccessful deals. An example this past week is DDT’s claim that he wouldn’t sign the more moderate immigration bill to go before the House this coming week before declaring that he would sign either one of the bills that was passed. Two other communications staffers left the White House this week—Steven Cheung, director of strategic response, and Cliff Simms, now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s senior adviser. At least 18 of DDT’s 31 assistants—including six replacements—left their posts.

Another imminent high profile departure may be Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Asked about the possibility, DDT said that “at a certain point everyone sort of leaves, you have to leave.” Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah may also resign by the end of the year.

Three DOJ lawyers refused to support AG Jeff Sessions’ decision to not support the Affordable Care Act, but senior career Justice Department official Joel McElvain flat-out resigned. GOP Congress failed to repeal the law so Sessions will try to kill the ACA by not defending the law of the United States.

At the beginning of June, Rudy Guiliani yelled at his son for making out with his wife at the theater. Now 32-year-old Andrew Giuliani lost access to the White House without an escort despite his $77,000 a year job in the Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs. Chief of staff John Kelly and others also won’t promote Andrew because he “subverts the chain of command” and has other workplace issues. Rudy Giuliani disappeared from media for over a week after his denigrating comments about Stormy Daniels appearance. Maybe because his current wife, Judith Nathan, went to the media about his affairs, one of them with married New Hampshire hospital administrator Maria Rosa Ryan.

Some jobs in the White House are vital, for example taping together documents that DDT regularly tears up in his ignorance of the law. Former records management analyst Solomon Lartey and Reginald Young Jr., each making over $60,000 a year, have been fired for no reasons from their positions to repair notes and memos that DDT tears up for preservation according to the Presidential Records Act. Other workers are still taping papers back together again.

Another important government job responsibility is to keep track of DDT’s loyalists—and a black list of those who seem less than loyal. Mari Stull, former food lobbyist and wine blogger and currently senior adviser at the State Department, maintains a list of government officials and employees of international organizations and agencies, examining social media for political disagreement and past support of any of President Obama’s policies. Included are people who work for such agencies as the World Health Organization and the United Nations. People on the black list are kept out of meetings, and her actions are causing three assistant secretaries of state—Molly Phee, Erin Barclay, and Nerissa Cook—to quit or change agencies.

DDT may manage one nomination this coming week, Kathy Kraninger as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Interim director Mick Mulvaney has already eliminated the “protection” part of the agency, so Kraninger’s lack of experience in finance, banking, and consumer issues is irrelevant. She will, however, follow Mulvaney’s leadership of no government and regulations while promoting business interests.

Little climate news hits the mainstream media these days, but WashPo has reported that the melting Antarctica’s ice sheet is annually dumping 200 billion tons of ice into the ocean which raises sea levels one-half millimeter a year, tripling in the last decade. There goes Miami—and a lot more East Coast homes.

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June 9, 2018

Russian, Chinese Involvements Expand

While Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gives a few tweets and alienates our former allies, a member of the Congress is trying to slow down meddling by foreign nations in U.S. elections. Until DDT, notifying the FBI seems like a natural response for any candidates if foreign nations contact them about helping their campaign. DDT’s campaign members, however, didn’t bother to mention their frequent contacts with Russians to federal law enforcement, even after major party presidential nominees “were urged to alert the FBI about any suspicious overtures to their campaigns.” Therefore Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) is promoting the Duty to Report Act which would “explicitly require candidates and campaigns to notify the FBI if anyone representing a foreign power offers dirt on that candidate’s opponents.” He writes:

“[T]he legislation would make it a crime for candidates, their immediate family, or people involved with their campaign to fail to notify the FBI if any of them are told about, are offered, or receive in an unsolicited way nonpublic, materially significant information about another person running for the same office, when they know or recklessly disregard that the source is a foreign power or agent of a foreign power.”

The bill has 16 co-sponsors—all Democrats. Republicans may still be trying not to offend the man who signs their bills and names their far-right appointments.

Robert Muller continues his investigation, filing new charges against Paul Manafort for conspiracy against the U.S., laundering money, false statements, and conspiracy to obstruct justice in his attempt to coach witness testimony.  A judge decides on June 15 whether Manafort goes to jail after he was caught contacting witnesses in violation of his release before his trial and tried to control their testimony. This highly detailed article following Manafort’s involvement in the Russian takeover of Ukraine uses a variety of documents to explain the threads and indicates that any DDT pardon for Manafort won’t cover state-level activities that can be prosecuted.

An obstruction of justice indictment for coaching witnesses against Konstantin Kilimnik, overseer to Manafort’s Kiev office who has been repeatedly linked to Russian intelligence services, makes 20 Mueller indictments in the past year’s investigation. Kilimnik is currently missing, presumably in Russia after Ukraine allowed him to move there. A timeline of Mueller’s first 388 days.

Mueller also asked witnesses in the investigation to give him their personal phones so that his team can read encrypted texts, conversations with DDT’s associates. They received Manafort’s encrypted messages last month. On his popular Fox program, Sean Hannity recommends breaking the law: he told Mueller witnesses to protect themselves by destroying their cellphones. A response to this illegal advice:

“18§1512 Whoever corruptly persuades another person or attempts to do so with intent to alter, destroy, mutilate or conceal an object with intent to impair the object’s  integrity or availability for use in official proceeding shall be fined or imprisoned not more than 20 years.”

A new link in the Russian scandal has appeared through the connection between former GOP Rep. Curt Weldon (PA), who lost his election in 2006 after a number of ethics charges against him, and the $500,000 payment by Columbus Nova to DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Weldon’s decade-long ties to former Ukrainian Parliament member Andrii Artemenko, interviewed twice in the Mueller investigation, led to possible funding of a peace plan lifting sanctions on Russia by Viktor Vekselberg, co-founder of the Renova Group, a U.S./Russian venture company that lists Columbus Nova as part of its structure. Weldon has strongly supported Russia, stating that “the U.S. is much worse in many ways.” In January 2017 after DDT’s inauguration, Cohen met with Artemenko and Felix Sater, Cohen’s friend and DDT’s former business partner, and agreed to deliver the peace plan, approved by Vladimir Putin’s aides, to Michael Flynn, then DDT’s national security adviser. The full story.

Brittany Kaiser, a data director with DDT’s campaign’s data firm Cambridge Analytica, met personally with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange in February 2017 “to discuss the U.S. election.” CA had offered in July 2016 to help Assange index and distribute the 33,000 emails stolen from Hillary Clinton, and Kaiser had said that she funneled money to WikiLeaks, calling the organization her “favorite charity.”

Recent information shows Ivanka Trump tried to arrange a meeting between her father and Vladimir Putin through Russian Olympian Dmitry Klokov by introducing him to DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen during the presidential campaign. The purpose was to close a business deal to make millions for DDT, a presidential candidate, and his family. Cohen turned down a meeting, saying that the Trump Organization already had an agreement in place.

Carl Cameron, former Fox political correspondent who covered DDT’s campaign, talked about how the Russians orchestrated its cyberattack on Hillary Clinton in 2016 through Roger Stone’s connections with Guccifer 2.0, a Russian military intelligence officer, and other Russian groups to elect DDT with viralizing memes and fake news on social media. Much of this information has already been made public, but Joe Romm’s article puts everything together—thus far.

After Michael Cohen’s lawyers claimed client privilege for the seized documents, a judge assigned a special master to evaluate whether this was accurate. She found 162 items out of 300,000 that should not be available to prosecutors on that basis. The deadline for reviewing all the items is June 15. After that time, documents that are not privileged can be turned over to prosecutors. If DDT wants to challenge any of the unprivileged documents, he will need to do it publicly.

DDT has dropped the term “Spygate,” perhaps because last week House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreed with Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) that there was no evidence to support DDT’s claim that the FBI put a spy in his campaign. He followed that statement by saying that DDT shouldn’t pardon himself. The conservatives got upset, and he tried to make up for his honesty by adding the next day that there is no evidence of “collusion between the Trump campaign and President Trump and Russia.” Some Republicans are consistently calling on him to step down as speaker because he isn’t running for re-election.

DDT seems to have turned on China with his tariffs but not before daughter Ivanka received 13 new trademarks from China in the past three months plus provisional approval for another eight trademarks. At this time, she has at least 25 trademarks pending review and 36 active marks with the eight provisional ones. Most of Ivanka Trump’s U.S. imports come from China. His loosening sanctions on ZTE, the telecommunications company spying on the U.S., came the day after the Chinese-owned company hired Bryan Lanza, former DDT adviser, as a lobbyist. ZTE’s reward was for DDT to tweet, “Too many jobs in China lost.”

China successfully hacked highly classified information about undersea warfare from a Naval Undersea Warfare Center contractor in Rhode Island. The information tells China what distance is necessary to detect their submarines.

During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s third state visit to China this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping award him the country’s first friendship medal and promised everlasting friendship between the two countries.

In the U.S. this week, DDT had to fill his celebration of Super Bowl winners with Washington staffers after he disinvited Super Bowl winners, Philadelphia Eagles. He was upset because several of them declined to come to the White House, but he claimed the reason for disinviting them was that they didn’t stand for the national anthem. Fox tried to pass off footage of Eagles praying as “kneeling.” No Eagles knelt during the protests to injustice, and Chris Wallace had to apologize on behalf of the network because he is he executive producer of the Shannon Bream “news” show.

Comedian Stephen Colbert compared the false news on Fox to five black and Latino teenagers wrongfully convicted of a 1989 rape:

“So Donald Trump is blaming a group of black guys for something they didn’t do. They’ll have to rename the Eagles the Central Park 53.”

DDT took out large newspaper ads calling for their execution but never apologized after their sentences were vacated because of DNA evidence and a confession from a serial rapist and murderer. Last year, DDT disinvited Golden State Warriors after star player Stephen Curry said he probably would not attend.

DDT “misrepresentations” continue with false jobs claims. Earlier this year, he bragged about job totals that were the worst in seven years. Now he tweeted:

“In many ways this is the greatest economy in the HISTORY of America and the best time EVER to look for a job! … Best Economy & Jobs EVER”

The 2.97 million jobs during his first 16 months were exceeded by President Obama’s 3.45 million jobs in the preceding 16 months. The 1.047 million jobs created in January to May 2018 tied for third in the past seven years. DDT’s GDP growth fell short not only of his promises but also across much of President Obama’s two terms.

May 26, 2018

DDT’s Problems with Russia

Filed under: Russia — trp2011 @ 11:45 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Monday is the day that people are to celebrate Memorial Day—instead of the actual day of commemoration on May 30—so that people can have a three-day weekend and forget the day’s meaning. The tradition of honoring those who died in the service of the country goes back to Civil War days, and the purpose of the day now is to remember those who died to preserve freedom—and presumably—the U.S. Constitution in the United States. Toward that end, the blog posts for the next few days will catch up on events that threaten to take rights from the people of the U.S. and those in which people are fighting back.

Despite raising issues with China and North Korea, Russian news still fills the media. Except for a breakdown from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) regarding James Clapper’s interviews about Russia throwing the election to him, DDT has been quiet. For example, he made no comment about the investigation from a five-country coalition team concluding that the Russian military fired the missile hitting the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014 and killed all 298 people on the plane.

DDT also failed to comment about the news that intermediaries for Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko paid $400,000 to DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen Michael Cohen in exchange for a meeting between Poroshenko and DDT last year. Cohen has more problems with his former business partner, Evgeny “Gene” Freidman (aka the “Taxi King”), reaching a plea deal for his false tax returns. The Soviet immigrant managed taxis owned and controlled by Cohen when he failed to remit the 50-cent-per-ride tax to the state. Freidman is a position to know Cohen’s wrong-doings. And then there’s the discovery that Cohen met Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg in Trump Tower less than two weeks before Trump took office. Head of the Russian investment firm Renova Group, Vekselberg co-founded Columbus Nova that paid over $1 million to Cohen’s Essential Consultants with $400,000 going to Cohen to arrange a meeting with DDT. The meeting was one of two before the third meeting between Vekselberg and Cohen on Inauguration Day.

News in May also came from House Republicans, especially Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), trying to cover up DDT’s Russian involvement in direct contrast to results from the Senate Intelligence Committee. The results of that investigation agreed with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to help then-candidate Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. The chair of the Senate committee, Richard Burr (R-NC), released the conclusion that “there is no doubt that Russia undertook an unprecedented effort to interfere with our 2016 elections.

John Bolton, new national security adviser, isn’t concerned: he eliminated the cybersecurity coordinator position on the National Security Council.

One person who claimed that she didn’t know if Russia wanted to help DDT win the presidential election is Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, looking like a “dumb blonde” (right) during congressional briefings about election security. DDT’s angry words toward Nielsen have continued for months, including one time in front of the entire cabinet, and Chief of Staff John Kelly is no longer defending her as DDT blames Nielsen for higher numbers of people cross the Mexico border. Nielsen hasn’t been silent about DDT, complaining that he fails to understand the nuances of immigration law While DDT accuses her of being a George W. Bush Republican, not a compliment. DDT wants instant results for

Special investigator Robert Mueller has started zeroing in on Roger Stone, former campaign staffer and longtime friend of DDT, who talked about his prior knowledge regarding WikiLeaks hacking into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Subpoenas have been issued to Stone’s social media director and Twitter specialist Jason Sullivan and John Kakanis, Stone’s driver, accountant and operative. Jeffrey Yohai, Paul Manafort’s former son-in-law, has also cut a deal with Mueller regarding the criminal probes, including those surrounding DDT’s one-time campaign chair. Former DDT campaign adviser Sam Nunberg predicted that Stone will be indicted for “some stupid financial thing.” Mueller’s investigation has brought 19 indictments and five guilty pleas.

DDT’s major ploy to stop Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling with the presidential election was to demand that the DOJ investigate the FBI and DOJ that may have “infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes.”  Pundits were split between whether Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had caved in to DDT by asking the DOJ inspector general to review the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for any political motivations during the campaign or whether he was stalling. By searching for “anyone” who might have infiltrated or surveilled “participants in a presidential campaign,” Rosenstein may also investigate infiltration into Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

DDT is incensed because FBI agents sent an informant to talk to two DDT campaign advisers after the evidence that they had connections with Russians during the campaign. The FBI also got a secret warrant in October 2016 to monitor former DDT campaign aide Carter. The FBI had good cause to investigate DDT’s campaign for communication with Russians. Rachel Maddow pointed out some people connected to Russian intelligence: Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, and others who were aware. Some of these people have already pled guilty to these communications after lying to the FBI. Other ties with Russia come from DDT’s family members, friends, and business associates. These connections are over a year old; a newer article lists more. At least 15 blanket denials of contact have proved false, and Mueller’s indictments reveal at least 75 contacts between DDT’s team and Russia-linked operatives amid consistent denials.

The purpose of the FBI is to look for crimes, and it discovered that DDT’s campaign was connected to Russian meddling in the election, causing the FBI to investigate the situation. DDT’s accusation that the FBI wanted an “October surprise” to defeat him in the election was bogus because the agency didn’t release any of their information before he was elected. Hillary Clinton, however, did suffer from FBI’s “investigation.” DDT’s attacks are on organizations that protected him immediately before the election while exposing false, damaging information about DDT’s opposition, Hillary Clinton.

In protecting DDT, the RNC has paid almost $500,000 in legal fees to former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and others in the ongoing Russia investigations.

Donald Trump, Jr. is also  in hot water after the release of the  2,500 page transcript from the Senate Judiciary Committee about the June 9, 2016 meeting at the Trump Tower intended to obtain information from the Russians that would cost Hillary Clinton the presidential election. The documents provide testimony from five people who attended the meeting: Donald Trump, Jr.; Rob Goldstone; Irakly (Ike) Kaveladze, an employee of the Agalarovs; Rinat Akhmetshin, the consultant; and Anatoli Samochornov, the interpreter for Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya.  Also released were notes from a meeting that Manafort took on the phone, and Veselnitskaya’s written answers to its questions. Jr. keeps saying that he didn’t tell his father about the meeting, but evidence indicates that he might be lying.

The discovery that Jr. had another secret meeting at Trump Tower eight weeks later on August 3, 2016 with an Israeli social media manipulation specialist, an emissary for two Arab princes, and a private security contractor for the Middle East. Erik Prince, former head of Blackwater and brother to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, arranged the session on August 3, 2016. Emissary George Nadar told Jr. that the princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were enthusiastic to help DDT win the election, and Israeli Joel Zamel said his company could give an edge to DDT’s political campaign. Nadar went on to frequently meet with Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn, who was promoting a secret plan to destabilize Iran with private contractors. After the election, Nadar paid Zamel money, as much as $2 million, at least partly for Zamel’s participation in social media campaigning. U.S. law forbids the involvement of foreign governments or people in U.S. elections. Zamel’s companies also have links to Russian oligarchs and president Vladimir Putin.

If that isn’t enough trouble for Jr., the FBI have recordings from the Spanish police between Jr. and Alexander Torshin, an official at Russia’s Central Bank with close ties to the NRA, and Alexander Romanov, a Russian who was convicted of money laundering. Those conversations are connected to Torshin’s meeting with Jr. at the NRA convention in May 2016. Spanish prosecutor José Grinda said, “Mr. Trump’s son should be concerned.” Torshin was one of 17 Russians sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department, and documents show that donors may have used the NRA to help DDT and his campaign.

Yet DDT and far-right Republicans keep claiming that the investigation is a “witch hunt.” DDT’s tweets today continue to rant about Russia with the same tired lies that he always uses. His demands that the DOJ and FBI must turn over everything to him about the investigation into him along with his claim that he is control of those agencies is an erosion into democracy and fails every person who died to protect the United States.

 

May 11, 2018

DDT: Weeks 67-68 – Iran, North Korea Plus Religion, Giuliani

Catching up on the last two weeks of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) roller-coaster events:

Will the United States go to war to support Israel? That question may be front and center now that DDT has withdrawn from the Iran agreement for that nation’s denuclearization. Israel fired on targets in Syria that were believed to be Iranian soon after DDT’s withdrawal. Claims that Iran fired 20 rockets at the Golan Heights the most extensive Israeli bombing on Syria since the countries signed a disengagement agreement after the October war of 1973. Israel has illegally occupied Golan Heights since the Six-Day War in 1967. DDT’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, are scheduled to arrive in Israel soon for the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on May 14. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has assured Israel that the U.S. will stand at its side in a fight.

DDT’s officials are circulating a report from Securities Studies Group, an organization with ties to DDT’s national security adviser John Bolton, that provides strategy for a regime change in Iran is being circulated among DDT’s officials. The plan is to stir unrest and help the Iran public to drive a wedge between the people and the nation’s rulers. The plan sounds identical to Russia’s approach to control the 2018 presidential election.

Israel’s military escalation came after DDT decided to please some of his constituents—including Vladimir Putin and Israel—by withdrawing from the Iranian deal. Russia’s economy desperately needs the rubles from the increase in oil prices if Iranian resources aren’t available. At the same time, Russia is concerned about Israel’s attacks on Iran, but DDT may side with Israel, again separating him from Putin. Perhaps DDT figures that a world war would allow him to declare military law, like in Turkey, so that he can remain dictator forever. Bernard Avishai discusses Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s motivations and the dangers of his country in pushing a war in the Middle East.

DDT announced his withdrawal several days before the deadline at the same time the media jumped on the millions of dollars in “pay to play” paid to his personal lawyer Michael Cohen for access to DDT. Since payments made to DDT’s personal lawyer were first announced, the amount has vastly grown, for example AT&T’s $600,000 to Cohen for access to DDT instead of $200,000. CEO Randall Stephenson called Cohen’s hiring “a big mistake,” and top lobbyist for the company, Bob Quinn, has retired. Quinn was a leader in opposing net neutrality. AT&T also paid Cohen to get approval for its $85 billion merger with Time Warner. Drugmaker Novartis agreed that its $1.2 million contract with Cohen was “a mistake.” Reports as of now show that Cohen was paid $2.95 million through Essential Consultants, the shell company Cohen set up to funnel hush money to Stormy Daniels and perhaps others. The involved companies learned about Essential Consultants because Cohen reached out to them.

In his work to guarantee never-ending war for the U.S., former VP Dick Cheney, who mythologized weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, went on Fox Business directing DDT to believe the falsehood that Iran has these weapons. He also encouraged the continuation of “enhanced interrogation techniques” (aka torture).

DDT is also hoping that people will ignore all the Russia and Cohen scandals because three U.S. prisoners have been released from North Korea. He also hopes that his talks with North Korea will result in his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, even encouraging his rally crows to chant, “No-bel, No-bel. When the prisoners arrived at 3:00 am, he said, “I think you probably broke the all time in history television rating for three o’clock in the morning.” DDT also thanked North Korean president Kim Jong-Un “ who really was excellent to these three incredible people.” They had been imprisoned for at least a year, and one of them had been sentenced to ten years’ hard labor in one of the world’s most brutal prisons. DDT plans to meet with Kim Jong-Un in Singapore on June 12.

While people become excited about the release of prisoners in North Korea, they forget the four U.S. citizens still held in Iran for longer than the newly released NK ones. DDT’s withdrawal spells disaster for these people, one of them 81 years old. Another two U.S. men are still illegally imprisoned in Turkey. 

Although DDT’s new lawyer Rudy Giuliani appeared on Sean Hannity only nine days ago, so much has happened that it could have been last year. Giuliani, DDT’s lawyer for one day, said that DDT had paid Cohen $35,000 a week to clean up hush money to Stormy Daniels about her affair with DDT as well as “things that might come up.” DDT first agreed that he paid off Daniels and then tried to deny that he did, going so far as to say that Giuliani “will get his fact straight.” Giuliani lacks the skill to stay quiet, a serious problem in court. (Transcript for the program.)  Giuliani went on another talk show to say that he knew the payment didn’t look good immediately before the election but changed his story to say that the settlement was made solely “to protect the President’s family.” He also might be waiving attorney-client privilege by saying that he had conferred with DDT before he talked about DDT paying Cohen. About the payoff, Giuliani said:

“I don’t think the president realized he paid him back for that specific thing until we made him aware of the paperwork.”

Despite being released from his law firm and claiming “sole concentration” as DDT’s lawyer, Giuliani appeared in a Florida court today to represent a woman accused of purchasing car insurance ten minutes after her car crash. He isn’t licensed to practice law in Florida but said the woman was her personal assistant.

DDT’s staff tried to prep him in advance of any interview with Robert Mueller, but he could answer only two questions in four hours. The argument might be that an interview could cut into time for his important work in the Oval Office, but evidence indicates that he “works” less than two hours a day. DDT is still falsely accusing that the investigators are Democrats as he continues his rant against the investigation. DDT is back to saying that he wants an interview with Mueller, but most people no longer believe him.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) issued DOJ with a subpoena after he was refused extensive information about a longtime intelligence source for the CIA and FBI with the concern that the source could be jeopardized if Nunes discovers the person’s identity. Common knowledge indicates that Nunes wants the information to take to the White House. DOJ officials offered a classified briefing about his demand, but Nunes threatened a contempt charge against AG Jeff Sessions. He also has not bothered to read earlier classified information that he demanded. Nunes is under investigation for three potential campaign law violations.

Giuliani’s bombshell about DDT’s paying off Stormy Daniels intersected with DDT’s appearance for the day of prayer, causing CNBC to tweet, “Trump leads National Prayer Day event after saying he repaid lawyer for hush money to porn star.” DDT signed the “White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative” that permits religious organizations to use taxpayer money to discriminate on the basis of gender and sexual orientation, allow religious organizations to be “experts” for public policy, remove requirements that religious groups refer anyone objecting to their teachings to other programs, and use his new “faith-based office” to guarantee no blocking of “liberty of conscience” of believers. (Sounds like Sharia law for evangelicals.) The major groups wanting to deny services to LGBTQ people are Mormons and white evangelicals, 20 percent of the population. Among that 20 percent, 47 percent think that it’s wrong to refuse business based on religious convictions.

States such as Kansas and Oklahoma are already passing laws permitting adoption agencies to prevent same-gender couples from adopting children. A lesbian couple in Mississippi was denied an adoption by the state the day before they were scheduled to take their daughter home despite a court ruling that the Mississippi’s ban on same-gender adoptions was struck down by a federal judge in 2016. In another case, the state Supreme Court ruled that a lesbian couple could divorce; a dissenting justice, Jess Dickinson, is now head of the agency denying the couple their legally adopted child. Bryan Fischer, former spokesman for the American Family Association (AFA), announced on his show that only Christians have First Amendment rights and protections.

Anti-LGBTQ preacher Kevin Swanson will hold the Bible Family Conference in Washington, D.C. on August 10-11. He wants to execute all LGBTQ people and all Girls Scout leaders because they support LGBTQ and women’s rights. He also wants Boy Scouts, now called Scouts BSA because it recruits girls as well as boys, to have a “sodomy merit badge” because openly gay scouts can join the organization. The name of Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) has disappeared as keynote speaker.

The six worst states for LGBTQ support are Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, West Virginia, Louisiana, and North Carolina.

More later!

May 8, 2018

DDT Drops Iran Denuclearization, Cohen Sells White House Access

Filed under: Foreign policy — trp2011 @ 9:54 PM
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The U.S. has withdrawn from the six-country deal to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons is dead, according to Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). He has no reason to take this action. Although DDT has claimed that the deal with Iran was “horrible,” Iran has reduced its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent to only 300 pounds, far less than needed for even one bomb. Iran also removed about 13,000 of its centrifuges, leaving just over 5,000 of its oldest-model machines in place. It ceased all enrichment at its underground facility at Fordow, one of the nuclear sites which are continually monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which repeatedly states that Iran is complying with the agreement’s restriction.

Last week, the White House released a statement that falsely declared Iran “has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program.” A backlash led to the change of one letter—“has” to “had”—that totally revised the false report. The White House excuse was a “typo,” but journalist Brian Beutler pointed out that the “original statement uses the word ‘has’ twice, strongly suggesting an intent to mislead the global public into believing Iran had covertly reactivated its nuclear weapons program in direct defiance of the agreement.”

The White House admitted in its correction that Iran no longer “has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program,” but DDT ignored all the evidence showing Iran is following its part of the bargain and made up lies about Iran not pursuing its nuclear program. This comment adds to the 3,000+ lies that he has told since he was inaugurated. DDT also ignored the 63 percent people in the U.S. who want the U.S. to stay in the Iran denuclearization agreement.

Last week, Netanyahu threw fuel on the conflagration by releasing Iranian documents showing that Iranians worked a decade ago to design a nuclear warhead. In more work to rationalize his decision to inflame Iran, DDT hired Black Cube, an Israeli-based private intelligence agency, to falsely smear U.S. negotiators of the agreement, including Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl. The foreign spies also targeted Rhodes’ and Kahl’s spouses.

In his move toward regime change in Iran, DDT alienated major European and Asian countries but continued to forge a relationship with Saudi Arabia. His supporters include new lawyer Rudy Giuliani and new national security adviser, John Bolton; both are pushing toward the steps leading to more U.S. conflict in the Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also pushed DDT to leave the Iran agreement although Netanyahu’s military and intelligence advisers assert that their country is safer with blocking nuclear bombs in Iran.

Lies led to the U.S. 2003 invasion of Iraq with serious fiscal and cultural repercussions fifteen years later, and comparisons are being made between those falsehoods and DDT’s current ones about Iran. John Bolton wants to bomb Iran—just as the George W. Bush era started an ongoing preemptive war against Iraq that has spread across the Middle East. Leaders of France, Germany, and the UK pointed out that a UN Security Council resolution supporting the Iran agreement “remains the binding international legal framework for the resolution of the dispute about the Iranian nuclear program.” Thus the U.S. has been the first country to violate the agreement.

Paul Waldman summarized DDT’s withdrawal:

“This decision is deeply uninformed, utterly illogical, inimical to the interests of the United States, taken for the pettiest of personal reasons and done with absolutely no plan for what to do next. In other words, it’s pure Trump.”

After his announcement, DDT signed an executive memorandum for the 180-day withdrawal process to impose all sanctions on Iran relaxed under the agreement. On the 90-day mark of August 6, these sanctions will be reinstated:

  • Iran buying or acquiring U.S. dollars
  • Iran trading gold and other precious metals
  • Iran’s sale, supply or trade of metals such as aluminum and steel, as well as graphite, coal and certain software for “integrating industrial processes”
  • “Significant” sales or purchases of Iranian rials, or the maintenance of significant funds or accounts outside the country using Iranian rials
  • Issuing Iranian debt
  • Auto sanctions

The U.S. will also halt Iran’s ability to export its carpets and foods into the U.S. and end certain licensing-related transactions.

  • Further sanctions imposed after 180 days on November 4:
  • Iran’s ports, as well as the country’s shipping and shipping sectors
  • Buying petroleum and petrochemical products with a number of Iranian oil companies
  • Foreign financial institutions transacting with the Central Bank of Iran and other Iranian financial institutions
  • Certain financial messaging services to Iran’s central bank and other Iranian financial institutions
  • Provision of underwriting services, insurance, or reinsurance
  • Iran’s energy sector

On Nov. 5, the U.S. will prevent U.S.-owned foreign entities from being allowed to engage in certain transactions with Iran and reimpose certain Iranian individuals.

DDT’s speech about the evil in Iran overlooks the way that the U.S. has violated its own denuclearization agreements. While DDT is demanding that North Korea comply with the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the U.S. violates the NPT, and Israel refuses to sign the treaty because it maintains a massive hidden nuclear arsenal obtained through deceit. The U.S. also consistently attempts to change regimes in violation of international law and the UN charter, most recently in Iraq and Libya which had complied with U.S. demands to close their nuclear programs.

What happens now that DDT has refused to recertify the deal? Uri Friedman presented three possibilities over six months ago:

Congress Ends the Iran Deal: Congress has 60 days to introduce legislation that imposes nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, including those against the banking system and oil exports. Doing so would breach the Iran deal, possibly unraveling the agreement depending on whether other countries in the agreement join or resist the sanctions. Sanctions would most likely cause Iran to no longer comply with the deal and return to their nuclear program. At that point, the U.S. could either bomb Iran or do nothing. Bolton would certainly not accept doing nothing. The withdrawal from an agreement with Iran negatively impacts any denuclearization agreement with North Korea, disturbed about DDT’s decision because they may not be able to trust the United States’ agreements. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani plans to negotiate with the deal’s three European countries, Russia, and China—once more leaving the United States out in the cold. If negotiations don’t work, Iran is ready to start unlimited uranium enrichment in a few weeks, and the U.S. could be fighting both Iran and North Korea.

Congress Seeks to Improve the Iran Deal: Congress could decide not to reimpose sanctions on Iran at this time. Last October, Republicans—including Sens. Rand Paul (KY), Susan Collins (ME), and Bob Corker (TN)—are in a quandary about quitting the deal, but none of them is particularly reliable in sticking to their positions.

Congress Does Nothing: The agreement can die from inaction—a death “by a thousand cuts.” Because Congress can’t agree on anything, this scenario is most likely.

DDT’s withdrawal from the Iran deal puts the rest of the world in control. Iran can build nuclear weapons if the other four five countries cannot persuade the nation to do otherwise. No nation will trust the United States in any of DDT’s promises, and all nations will understand that DDT is incapable of planning. DDT’s actions may even isolate Israel with the Israelis being blamed for outbreaks of hostilities. And DDT owns responsibility for any issues that come from his withdrawal.

Oil prices rose today after DDT’s announcement with the possibility of future spikes, and lack of Iranian oil can lead to inflation and slower economic growth in the U.S. Gas prices typically rise in the summer, and DDT’s withdrawal can make the problem even worse for consumers. As they pay more for gas, they are able to pay less for other purchases. Gas costs re made even worse from all the gas-guzzling cars consumers purchased after the gas prices dropped by over one-third in the past six years.

DDT managed to avoid some of the media attention from the actions of his personal attorney Michael Cohen, who may have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by both corporate clients and the Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg through the New York investment firm Columbus Nova. The Russian oligarch may also have provided the payoff in hush money for Stormy Daniels, according to her lawyer Michael Avenatti in documents supported by the media. The drug company Novartis and Korea Aerospace Industries, both with U.S. business relationships, also paid Cohen. Soon after the last Novartis payment, DDT met with the company’s incoming CEO; Korea Aerospace, which had no comment, is in competition for a multibillion-dollar joint contract to product U.S. Air Force jet trainers.

These episodes of The Apprentice in the White House may lead to more legal charges and World War III.

 

April 23, 2018

DDT: Week Sixty-six – Legal Problems Add Those with Lawyer Cohen

The Cohen Crisis continues in the White House as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) claims that his former personal lawyer won’t “flip” on him, meaning that DDT knows he’s not innocent. At the same time, Republican congressional members not only have concerns about Michael Cohen cooperating with investigator Robert Mueller but also plan to get rid of Mueller.

DDT has also become increasingly rabid about James Comey, especially because his memos, given to the House Judiciary Committee, were immediately leaked following the release of Comey’s book, A Higher Loyalty, earlier this week. Both the memos and the book were equally uncomplimentary about DDT. Instead of wiping out Comey’s credibility, as House members hoped, the memos seem to support Comey’s plausibility. DDT denied that he fired Comey because of the investigation into DDT’s ties with Russia, but his video with Lester Holt shows him saying that he considered “this Russia thing” in his decision to boot the FBI head. He also told two Russian diplomats in the Oval Office that firing “nut job” Comey took “great pressure” off of him.

Sanctions on Russia were another concern throughout the past week. Nikki Haley, UN ambassador and apologist for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), announced two days after DDT’s and John Bolton’s airstrikes on Syria that the U.S. is increasing economic sanctions against Russia. DDT overturned her statement the next day, and her declaration were described as a misstatement and privately as “an error that needs to be mopped up.” New DDT economic adviser Larry Kudlow called Haley’s comments due to “momentary confusion.” “With all due respect, I don’t get confused,” Haley said, and Kudlow apologized, saying that he was wrong. Within a week, DDT eased earlier sanctions on oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who has a connection with the 2016 election. Comey said in his interview with George Stephanopoulos that Russia may have something on DDT to blackmail him.

The memory of DDT’s airstrikes on Syria has faded, and no proof yet exists that gas was responsible for deaths or that Syria was responsible. Initially, popular conservative pundits such as Fox’s Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham criticized DDT’s airstrikes while Michael Savage and Ann Coulter condemned DDT’s actions. Mike Cernovich tweeted that the chemical attacks in Syria were staged and wrote, “At least I won’t feel bad when he gets impeached.”

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, moving toward nomination for Secretary of State in a reluctant Senate, went to North Korea on Easter Sunday (also April Fools Day) to begin talks with Kim Jong-Un, and DDT is already trying to figure out how to make the non-talks with North Korea’s leader successful if DDT decides to bail on them. Hawk and new national security adviser John Bolton told DDT to feel free to leave the meeting at any time if he doesn’t get what he wants but that the meeting could be considered a success even if doesn’t last for an hour. DDT assured Bolton that he could sway Kim when he sees him in person.

DDT bragged about North Korea’s “denuclearization,” but Kim Jong-Un plans to keep his nuclear arsenal. DDT’s aides privately believe that Kim’s closing one nuclear facility is not a pledge to move toward nuclear disarmament. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who met with DDT last week, tried to tell him that past U.S. talks with North Korea have failed and questioned why Japan was the only U.S. ally that was not exempted from tariffs on aluminum.

A prime reason for Kim’s negotiation is to end the Korean War, suspended for the past 65 years but not formally ended. The U.S. could have a problem with the 28,000 military members stationed on the Korean peninsula.

The search warrants for DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen may be a bigger problem for DDT than Robert Mueller investigation. Last Monday, Cohen tried to freeze the inspection of his materials and had to reveal that Sean Hannity was one of his clients along with protecting DDT and Elliott Broidy from sex scandals. Hannity vigorously denied any professional involvement with Cohen which may have lost him any attorney-client confidentiality. A judge has not yet ruled about the confidentiality of Cohen’s materials regarding DDT but doesn’t seem inclined to keep Cohen’s papers from litigation.

Since warrants were served on his property, Cohen has withdrawn two libel suits against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS, that produced the infamous Christopher Steele dossier about ties between DDT and Russia. Cohen can now avoid questioning from Fusion or turning over evidence related to the case.

Problems of Cohen, aka “The Fixer”:

  • Ties to Russian kleptocrats.
  • Close working relationship with convicted felon Felix Sater, Russian-financed real estate developer and former Trump Organization employee.
  • Shift from low-rate personal injury lawyer to mogul as he purchased a dozen luxury units in DDT properties.
  • 2016 meeting with Putin associates in Prague.
  • Partnership with a Ukrainian immigrant to purchase the biggest collection of expensive NYC taxi medallions.

Over 20 percent of donations to DDT’s 2020 campaign–$3.9 million—have gone for legal bills with almost $1 million during the current year. At least $66,000 of legal fees for DDT’s longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller have been paid by DDT’s campaign donations, perhaps illegally. Schiller was questioned about events as far back as 2013, long before the campaign. The campaign has also paid almost $288,000 for Donald Trump Jr.’s legal concerns.

The conservative Wall Street Journal wrote that Cohen stopped a Us Weekly story in 2013 about Donald Trump Jr.’s affair with Celebrity Apprentice contestant Aubrey O’Day between 2011 and 2012. The same article tracked Cohen’s payments to Stormy Daniels to kill her story about an affair with DDT and to a pregnant Playboy Playmate to conceal information about her affair with Elliott Broidy.

DDT’s long-time denial about his interaction with prostitutes in Russia (aka “pee tapes”) was that he’s a germophobe. His latest reason is that it couldn’t have happened because he didn’t stay overnight in Moscow during that time period in 2013. In the past, social media posts indicated that he was in the city for several days, his faithful bodyguard Keith Schiller related a different story to congressional investigators, and recent revelation of flight records shows that DDT was in Moscow from Friday, 11/8/13, through early Sunday morning (11/10/13).

The Russian scandal will get a great deal more media air time since DDT hired limelight-loving Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor, for his legal team. One reason for hiring Giuliani may be that he can get information out of the FBI. Before Comey was fired, he had begun an investigation about Giuliani’s possibly knowing about the email leaks during Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president before they were announced. Giuliani’s law firm advised Cambridge Analytics, under fire for using private data and providing foreign labor for GOP campaigns, and tried to resolve the case of Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold dealer accused of violating U.S. law by helping Iran avoid economic sanctions. In 1988 Giuliani stopped FBI Agent Tony Lombardi from continuing the investigation into DDT’s money laundering just a few weeks before DDT raised $2 million for Giuliani’s mayoral campaign. Wayne Barrett, formerly of The Village Voice, also wrote about Giuliani’s key part in using New York City taxpayer money to support DDT’s buildings.

The team also has taken on former federal prosecutors Jane Serene Raskin and Marty Raskin, a couple who manage a Florida-based law firm that specializes in responding to search warrants, who are willing to risk their reputation by working for DDT. None of DDT’s lawyers has much experience as defense attorneys.

DDT decided not to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership after he thought he would after he said he wouldn’t.

DDT is attacking two populations in the U.S. in its plans to allow health care officials and insurers to discriminate against transgender people and include indigenous people in a Medicaid work requirement. The latter comes from DDT’s position that Native Americans are “the tribes are a race rather than separate governments” which overlooks the history of treaties between the U.S. government and administrations from George Washington to Barack Obama.

A side effect of DDT’s tariffs is an increased cost in false teeth (aka Implants, crowns and bridges); 45 percent of these are imported from China and Mexico. About 30 percent of U.S. medical devices including hips and heart valves are imported. DDT’s economy is becoming composed of trickle down costs for most of the U.S. population.

The popularity of the tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthiest in the nation got a brief bump earlier this year but no more: only 27 percent respondents now call them a good idea. Thirty-six percent of people call them a bad idea in a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, and 53 percent predict a negative result to the new law. Political strategists consider the tax cuts a political loser, and the GOP has no other accomplishment during its first 15 months.

Appointments/lawsuits later this week!

April 14, 2018

DDT: Week 64 – Shifting Opinions, More Executive Orders

Another blow to the defense of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the Russian investigation is the revelation that his lawyer Michael Cohen was in Prague during the summer of 2016 despite Cohen’s denials. That information shows that the Steele dossier about DDT was not wrong in claiming Cohen’s visit to the city and that he may have taken over for campaign communications with Russia after Paul Manafort was fired by the campaign. Sources maintain that Cohen went to the Czech Republic through Germany so that his passport didn’t need to be stamped.

In his latest attempt to destroy the Affordable Care Act, DDT expanded “hardship exemptions” to the law’s individual mandate by waiving fines for those without insurance to those who say they object to abortion rights. Anyone living in an area where all affordable health plans in the federal exchange provide abortion may apply for an exemption of fees from months that they weren’t covered. This criterion is added to exemptions for being homeless, experiencing domestic violence, and experiencing a family member’s death. The new guideline will not always work in the 26 states that ban marketplace plans from covering abortions, but people living in a county with no or only one insurer can also apply for the exemption. All counties have ACA healthcare plans, but 26 percent of enrollees live in areas with a single insurer on the marketplace.

This weekend was the 8th Summit of the Americas in Lima (Peru), but DDT skipped the event in order to bomb Syria as he hoped to cover up all his scandals. U.S. presidents attended the first seven summits; with a 16 percent approval rate in South America, DDT probably didn’t want to face anyone there. Meanwhile, China is making great investment on the continent, especially Brazil, and President Xi Jinping has been there several times.

DDT got a lot of traction from his supporters by refusing participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now he changed his mind after the 11 other countries already made their own trade pact. DDT told his trade representative and the new National Economic council Director to examine how the U.S. could get back into the agreement. A tweet after the order made DDT appear to waffle about his demand although it may be one of the few ways to persuade China to back down from its proposed tariffs.

DDT may worsen negotiations with China and upset his supporters by bailing out farmers with a Depression-era program, Commodity Credit Corporation, that can borrow up to $30 billion from the Treasury Department for farmers whose orders from China shrink. History shows the misuse and unfairness of CCC, and it doesn’t stop a trade war. Farmers also fear long term effects when South America becomes more competitive because of unreliability in U.S. supplies, and the U.S. loses its markets. Providing welfare for farmers can result in more trade wars when other countries fight the U.S. at the World Trade Organization. Ad hoc subsidies in the late 1990s and early 2000s led to a year-long dispute with Brazil about U.S. cotton subsidies that resulted in millions of dollars in payment from Washington. The farm bill already pays from $5 billion to $7 billion in welfare to farmers for price and revenue drops as well as subsidizes 62 percent of farmers’ crop insurance premiums. Another $3 billion covers disaster assistance for producers after hurricanes and wildfires last year. The apparel and chemical industries can also be hit with DDT’s trade wars.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month with a declaration from DDT, who bragged about his own sexual assaults, tries to hide those of others, and nominated a Secretary of Education who protects rapists in schools:

“Sexual assault crimes remain tragically common in our society, and offenders too often evade accountability. These heinous crimes are committed indiscriminately: in intimate relationships, in public spaces, and in the workplace. We must respond to sexual assault by identifying and holding perpetrators accountable. Too often, however, the victims of assault remain silent. They may fear retribution from their offender, lack faith in the justice system, or have difficulty confronting the pain associated with the traumatic experience. My Administration is committed to raising awareness about sexual assault and to empowering victims to identify perpetrators so that they can be held accountable. We must make it as easy as possible for those who have suffered from sexual assault to alert the authorities and to speak about the experience with their family and friends.”

Part of the declaration spells “assault” as “assult.”

The U.S. Postal Service is caught in the middle of DDT’s vendetta against Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com. History about the USPS shows that Congress, not Amazon, is at the heart of the issue. A nonprofit business, USPS is required to deliver to every home and business in the U.S., and Congress sets is charges and locations of postal office. In 2006, Congress mandates that the USPS prefund retirees’ health benefits up to 2056 at an annual $5 billion cost which creates a “manufactured crisis.” Unlike other delivery services such as FedEx or UPS, the USPS cannot lobby for any changes.

Both UPS and FedEx save money by contracting with USPS to deliver parcels for the rural and most-expensive routes. With mail volumes shrinking, the USPS makes up for the lost revenue in reduced first-class mail by contracting with Amazon and other internet retailers. Federal regulators have determined that the contract between Amazon and the USPS is profitable for the USPS. Striking out at Amazon because of his anger at Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post, DDT issued an executive order for an administration task force, chaired by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, to evaluate he USPS finances and operations with proposed changes.

As for DDT’s criticism about Amazon not charging state sales tax—although it does—DDT’s online store of the Trump Organization charges sales tax only in Florida and Louisiana, not even in New York where the business has a physical presence in violation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in 1992 Quill Corp v. North Dakota ruling to the contrary. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case from South Dakota next week that will decide whether companies will be required to pay sale tax in all states that have sales tax. Ten percent of shopping is now done online.

The Department of Homeland Security is extending DDT’s Big Brother lifestyle in its project “Media Monitoring Services” that establishes a database of journalists. It will include reporters on general media and other “media influences” for searching contact information, professional history, and “sentiment,” permitting intimidation for journalists reporting negative information about political leaders.

Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget who also took over the Consumer Protection Bureau, is now removing regulatory power from the Treasury Department for his own purview. He is now responsible for reviewing tax regulations before they take effect, including the massive tax break for non-corporate “pass-through” businesses. The new arrangement prevents Treasury from publishing “any tax regulatory action” without his permission. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin lost the argument to keep the 34-year agreement giving his agency the ability to write tax rules and regulations. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) pointed out that “this administration added more bureaucratic red tape to a fundamentally flawed law.”

Much is being said about James Comey’s heroism in declaring his opposition to DDT in his new book Higher Loyalty. Yet Comey, then a Republican, stated that he might have deliberately come out with more accusations of Hillary Clinton emails just ten days before the presidential election in order to influence the outcome. The excuse for Comey and the FBI not revealing its investigation into Russian assistance to DDT’s campaign against Clinton at least six months before the election was the need for the FBI to be apolitical, evidently only true if the person being protected is from the same political party as the investigator. The same cannot be said regarding Robert Mueller, also a Republican.

DDT tweeted today, “Mission Accomplished!” Almost 15 years ago, George W. Bush used the same words on May 2, 2003 before the war slogged on for another 15 years with no resolution. Like Bush’s approach in Iraq, DDT has not identified any mission in Syria. John Bolton wa in the White House only four days before he found some place to bomb.

If the bombing of Syria yesterday has any humor, it comes from Alex Jones, top conspiracy theorist and (former) DDT supporter, who burst into tears and moaned:

“We’ve made so many sacrifices and now he’s crapping all over us. It makes me sick.”

Jones claims that DDT’s administration is “done.”

April 13, 2018

Can DDT’s Airstrikes Cover Up His Problems?

After a very bad week for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)—a fire in Trump Tower, search warrants taking a large number of documents from his lawyer Michael Cohen, the release of information about his attempt to cover up his affairs through lawsuits, former FBI director James Comey’s anti-DDT book hitting the airwaves—DDT ordered military attacks against Syria’s president in opposition to advice from his own generals. His reason in a short speech late Friday was the killing of civilians through chemical attacks.

DDT cited the horrifying ways that people died this month in an attack, but three-fourths of 6,047 civilians killed by the U.S. in the Middle East, mostly Iraq and Syria, during the past four years were under his “watch.” Until John Bolton came into the White House this week, DDT said he gave military generals “total authorization” to decide the military operations. The U.S. Constitution does not authorize the president to begin an armed conflict without congressional authorization; a 1973 law reinforced this constitutional position. Yet Congress passed a law, the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, allowing the U.S. president to take action against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. In the past 17 years, presidents have used this law to attack Afghanistan, Cuba, the Philippines, Georgia, Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Turkey, and Congress refuses to curb an elected president the right to attack countries whenever they want.

The question about DDT’s air strikes, which could cause World War III if Russia carries through with its threats of retaliation, came from DDT’s weeks of temper tantrums. They started with the FBI raid on the office, home, and hotel room of Michael Cohen, DDT’s longtime attorney “fixer,” and the seizure of records about his clients and personal finances, including tax returns, as well as his computer and phone.  Cohen is being investigated for bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations. DDT, who led the birther conspiracy of President Obama for at least five years while he was in office and as recently as last November, continues to call the investigation of the Russian scandal as a “witch hunt.”

DDT raged for hours after the raid, attacking AG Jeff Sessions and special investigator Robert Mueller, yet Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein turned the raid over to FBI agents and prosecutors in New York. Several other high-level DOJ people had to sign off on the search warrants with no advance notice to Cohen, indicating strong evidence because these warrants were used instead of a subpoena.

Cohen also helped out DDT’s associates, arranging a $1.6 million deal late last year for a former pregnant Playboy model on behalf of Elliott Broidy, a major financial supporter for DDT and a married man. Cohen and Broidy are both deputy national finance chairmen for the RNC, and last month Broidy hosted a fundraiser for DDT’s 2020 presidential campaign. He also worked with George Nadar who is cooperating with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen had a tendency to tape conversations with his associates, and the FBI may now have these recordings.

Another object of DDT’s fury this week was Comey’s new book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, is overwhelming the media, and DDT called Comey a “slime ball, also writing, “It was my great honor to fire James Comey!” The memoir is available to the public on Tuesday.

Mueller has asked a Virginia judge for 35 blank subpoenas for Paul Manafort’s trial that begins July 10—witnesses to be filled in later. Manafort’s lawyers are trying to block business and finance papers from a storage area that a former Manafort employee showed the FBI last May. Both Manafort and his associate Rick Gates are listed as contacts for the lease.

Since the search warrant was executed on Cohen, DDT has decided he won’t be interviewed by Mueller which could move up Mueller’s release of an obstruction of justice report regarding DDT’s intent on firing former FBI Director James Comey, DDT’s role in writing the public statement that lied about a June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr and Russians, and DDT’s suggestion of his pardoning grand jury witnesses before they testified against him, and DDT’s pressuring AG Jeff Sessions to not recuse himself from the Russian investigation. Mueller would probably send a confidential report to Rosenstein, who could decide whether to make the report public and send the findings to Congress.

The biggest question about Mueller is whether DDT can fire him. DDT thinks he can, but according to law he can fire only the person in the DOJ who refuses to fire Mueller. That and DDT’s going to war around the world are the two greatest concerns today in the United States.

DDT’s pick for Secretary of State, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, struggled during today’s confirmation hearings.  His hawkish attitude for regime change in North Korea and opposition to diplomacy with Iran disappeared in his responses advocating diplomacy over military action and independence from president despite their close relationship. He faked answers and avoided questions, claiming a bad memory, and failed to recognize that the agreement with Iran involves the UK, France, and Germany. Pompeo also refused to say that he disagreed with DDT’s constant attacks on Mueller. Called out about his associations with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists, Pompeo said that he couldn’t remember everything he had said during his 54 years. He opposed marriage equality but said that he has “respect for every individual.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) could give Pompeo a floor vote even if he can’t pass the Senate Foreign Relations Committee because member Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is opposed to Pompeo. Some vulnerable Democrats from red states may feel pressured to vote to confirm, but Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), up for re-election this year, said:

“I am voting NO on Pompeo for Secretary of State because our top diplomat should believe in diplomacy. He has an alarming tendency towards military provocation and brinkmanship.”

To tell associates such as Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn that he will save them, DDT pardoned Scooter Libby yesterday. on Thursday. A jury convicted Libby of four felonies, including obstruction of justice and perjury before a grand jury, in connection to his revealing the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame when he was VP Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. Former FBI director James Comey, fired by DDT, helped convict Libby of lying under oath to the FBI about leaking classified information when Comey was Deputy Attorney General. George W. Bush had commuted Libby’s sentence of 30 months in prison and $250,000 fine but twice refused to pardon him. Richard Painter, chief ethics lawyer for George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, tweeted:

“So what’s the message here? Lie to a grand jury to protect political superiors and you will get a full pardon?”

Scott Pruitt just stays in the news, making DDT look bad. This article, repeated on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, describes how Pruitt’s condo renters changed the locks to get rid of him.

Information came out about how the Trump Organization threatened Panama’s president, Juan Carlos Varela, with violating an investment treaty between Panama and the U.S. if he supports a court-order eviction notice for DDT’s management of Trump International Hotel Panama. The majority owner claims he won his case in firing the Trump Organization, and the name was removed. The Trump Organization refuses to admit defeat. The letter insinuates that the U.S. government will force Panama to protect DDT’s business.

DDT tweeted about his “well built hotel,” but one man died and six firefighters were injured in a fire on the 50th floor. There was no sprinkler system because DDT said they were too expensive, and residents were not told to evacuate.

DDT’s other business is going downhill in putting his name on other people’s products. Within three years, he has lost 17 of 19 companies that pay him to produce or distribute his branded consumer items. The only ones left are a Panamanian company selling bed linens and home goods and a Turkish company selling furniture. And the name isn’t even on the outside of the product. Even the DDT-branded urine test is gone, and the last items are being sold off at discount prices—for example, cologne down to $9.99 per ounce from $42.

DDT is losing a major constituency—older, white, educated voters. They now support Democrats over Republicans by two points after going for Republicans by ten points in 2016. That 12-point change is frightening Republicans, especially after House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) decision to not run for re-election in 2018, especially because this demographic tends to be reliable voters.

Another demographic is moving away from DDT—Southerners. Fifty-one percent of voters in the South disapprove while 48 percent approves of his performance. The poll also shows a 55-percent support from Southerners for same-gender marriage, and 69 percent think that undocumented immigrants should be able to get legal status in the U.S. Mississippi is sticking with DDT at 57 percent approval rating.

After a really hard week, DDT may hope that a big media explosion of air strikes in Syria might help his ratings. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called the action a “one time shot”—at least until DDT gets more bad news and looks for a way to cover it up.

 

July 8, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Four – Mostly Russia!

The last week of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was dominated by North Korea, his world trip, the fallout from his commission’s demand to garner all the states’ voting data, GOP’s lies in their attempt to destroy health care, and, of course, his tweets. But there’s more.

The U.S. is rapidly losing its world leadership: a majority of people in the U.S. have more confidence in Angela Merkel, the chancellor of the country poised to take over the U.S.’s former position, than in DDT.

The White House publication of all its employees’ salaries shows a 37 percent discrepancy in male and female median earnings. Women’s median wage is $72,650 while men get $115,000. DDT’s gap is more than double the national gap of 17 percent and the largest since 2003. Of 22 staffers paid the highest in the White House, only five are women. In April, DDT revoked President Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order requiring companies with federal contracts to comply with labor and civil rights laws. DDT made it possible for all companies to pay workers unfairly.

Science has literally left the White House. The last three employees departed the science division of DDT’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Although 222,000 jobs were added in June, new manufacturing jobs were half those in February, and 59,000 of the new jobs were in health and services—the area on the GOP chopping block with Trumpcare. DDT promised at least a four-percent increase in the economy in his first year, but Wall Street is forecasting half that or lower, about the average since President Obama brought the nation out of its Bush recession. The recent slump of the dollar comes from the world view of U.S. economy. As the Fed normalizes monetary policy by raising interest rates, the government has lost its opportunity for cheap loans to repair the nation’s infrastructure. Less federal tax revenue indicates faltering personal income. Although people think that the country is in good shape because of rising stock markets, some experts have expressed concern about the future of stocks.

DDT is clinging to his travel ban, but it’s alienating people—even grandparents—because of the highly restrictive definition of “close” relatives connected to people applying to come into the country. The exclusion of grandparents as “close family members” has hit social media.

The extremist radical policies from DDT are facing courts and sometimes losing. Scott Pruitt’s EPA huge favor to the oil and gas industry last month has been overturned. The Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Pruitt lacked authority to delay an Obama-era regulation cracking down on pollutants from drilling operations. /The EPA admitted that Pruitt’s two-year delay would have a bad affect on the health of children near oil and gas operations.

Tom Price’s HHS agency reported that the Affordable Care Act is “working as intended” because it protects insurers from big risks and moderates consumer premiums. The charge on plans with lower average risks that is transferred to higher-risk plans is neutral within every state. Another temporary plan, reinsurance, protects insurers from high-cost enrollees by paying companies for the first three years. Both plans are permanent in George W. Bush’s Medicare’s prescription program, Part D. Medicare Part D also assesses insurers collecting huge profits from the program and paying them to insurers with commensurate losses, but the GOP maintains that this is an insurer “bailout” for the ACA. Reinsurance reduced net claim costs by four to six percent in 2016. Stopping the program is driving up premiums for 2017 and 2018, thus the GOP is causing the infamous “death spiral” of health care.

Eighteen states plus the District of Columbia are suing Betsy DeVos because of her delay in regulations to protect federal student loan borrowers who have been defrauded by their schools. The rules, set to take effect last July 1, prohibit colleges from forcing students to settle complaints through arbitration instead of court and make it easier for the borrowers to seek debt forgiveness.

The Hatch Act prevents government officials in the executive branch from involvement in political activity; a 2012 amendment added disciplinary action to its violation. Dan Scorvino, DDT’s social media director, may have broken this law when he tweeted in April that DDT’s supporters should defeat Rep. Justin Amash (MI) in the primary. It goes far beyond his vicious tweets that almost equal those of DDT. During DDT’s campaign, Scorvino tweeted an anti-Semitic image of Hillary Clinton atop piles of hundred-dollar bills and a Jewish Star of David that read, “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” Another violator is UN Ambassador Nikki Haley for her retweeting a DDT message endorsing Ralph Norman, the Republican running for Congress in South Carolina’s 5th District. Norman won the special election.

Russia stays in the news:

Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law, finalized a $285 million refinancing loan from Deutsche Bank the month before last November’s election when the bank was in court answering a federal mortgage fraud case and charges that it aided a possible Russian money-laundering scheme. DDT has also garnered almost $8 million from Russian government official Igor Zorin for Florida properties.

DDT’s longtime buddy Michael Cohen has lost his place in DDT’s inner circle to separate DDT from Russian connections. Cohen bought apartments from DDT, bullied DDT’s condo board into submission, and acted as intermediary with mafia-linked DDT business partner, Felix Sater, and Ukraine parliamentarian, Andrii Artemenko, soon after DDT’s inauguration. Artemenko gave Cohen documents to deliver to Michael Flynn before he was fired for Russian connections. Cohen denies reports that he met overseas with Russian officials and operatives, but he has acquired his own lawyer and refuses to provide documents to or appear before congressional intelligence committees.

Sater, a Russia-born real estate dealmaker who allegedly has organized crime links, is agreeing to testify in an international investigation into a Kazakh family’s dealings in the U.S. including the Trump SoHo in downtown New York City. Sater is a known mob informant who fled to Russia to avoid criminal charges. He was also in prison for slashing a man’s face with a broken cocktail glass. His history is here. DDT has said, “I am not involved in Russia.” That doesn’t mean that Russia isn’t involved with DDT. Others are also willing to report on DDT’s connection with financing the Trump SoHo in a front for money laundering.

Although Peter Smith, the man who may have been involved in Russian hacking, has died, the news about his attempts to get Hillary Clinton emails continues. A document of involved people lists senior members of DDT’s campaign, some of them now serving in the White House. Included are white supremacist Steve Bannon. DDT’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, senior Agriculture Department adviser Sam Clovis, and the fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn.  Security consultant Matt Tait, a Smith colleague, gave reasons “that the group was formed with the blessing of the Trump campaign.” The UK cyber-analyst wrote about how Smith recruited him to verify the accuracy of emails.

What has DDT’s Department of Homeland Security to investigate Russian cyber attacks on U.S. voting machines? Nothing.

Hackers from a foreign government—probably Russia—hacked at least a dozen U.S. power plants, including a nuclear facility in Kansas. DDT still hasn’t addressed the problem with Russian president, Vladimir Putin. After DDT’s talk with Putin in Hamburg (Germany) this past week, Putin came away with the impression that DDT agreed that there had been no hacking into the U.S. election.

The company that provides cybersecurity for the U.S. government, including the Pentagon, may lose its contract. Kaspersky Lab, based in Moscow, has certifications issued by the Russian Security Service (FSB) which allows the Russian government to examine anything from Kaspersky. Its security software is also sold at U.S. retail outlets such as Target and Walmart. U.S. intelligence is increasingly concerned that Kaspersky software could cyberattack U.S. infrastructure such as the electric grid, airlines, water utilities, etc. Former CIA station chief in Moscow, Steve Hall, pointed out the Russian control over all of Kasperky’s data:

“Any time [Russian President Vladimir Putin] wants Kaspersky to do something – anything – he’ll remind them that’s where their families are and where their bank accounts are. There’s no doubt in my mind it could be, if it’s not already, under the control of Putin.”

Last Sunday, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said, “I get so frustrated when we get focused on tweets.” DDT is responsible for Cassidy’s frustration, and over two-thirds of people in the United States wish that DDT would stop the tweeting. The miserable attacks on Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough were followed by a view of DDT’s fat ass in the air while he pummels a character labeled CNN. He didn’t create the video, but he retweeted it which makes it an official communication from the White House.

While in Germany, DDT attacked Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, claiming that all the foreign powers were talking about her email serve and tweeting that he “refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA.” A few DDT mistakes: Podesta’s emails were not on the DNC server; he was not involved with the DNC; the CIA spies on foreign governments and wasn’t investigating cyber-attacks on Clinton.  And DDT continually says that Russia wasn’t involved in the hacking.

“‘The president of the United States is the most powerful person in the world. The president is the spokesman for democracy and liberty. Isn’t it time we brought back the pomp and circumstance and the sense of awe for that office that we all held?’”

The above quotation is from DDT’s 2015 book, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again. He should read it sometime.

 

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