Nel's New Day

May 24, 2020

Week 174 – Some Good News, Voting Squabbles

A federal judge overturned a new Florida law requiring felons to pay court fines and fees before they can register to vote, as permitted by an initiative passed in 2018 by 65 percent of the voters. The constitutional amendment expanded voting rights for those who completed “all terms of their sentence including probation and parole.” Judge Robert L. Hinkle compared the state law to a tax, unconstitutionally illegal.

In addition to using security agents as servants, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had them pack household goods and move his mother-in-law into a retirement home. Pompeo also ordered state Department officials to fabricate a justification for the emergency authorization to force an $8 billion arms deal without congressional approval and then hide it. To keep from firing Pompeo, DDT is trying to persuade him to run for Kansas senator. June 1 is the deadline for filing for candidacy.

Rachel Maddow is off the hook, at least temporarily, for a $10 million defamation lawsuit by One America News Network (OANN) after she said a writer for the right-leaning channel publishes the same material for Russia’s state propaganda network. On July 22, 2019, Maddow cited a Daily Beast article on her show, saying it reported OANN “has a full-time on-air reporter who covers U.S. politics, who is also simultaneously on the payroll of the Kremlin.” Maddow added, “The most obsequiously pro-Trump right wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda.” OANN plans to appeal the lawsuit’s dismissal.

Two Democratic FCC commissioners claim a $48 million fine with no admission of guilt for Sinclair is insufficient punishment for the conservative network’s violations of regulations and asked for harsher punishments and greater scrutiny into whether Sinclair should be allowed to own any television stations.  Sinclair lied for an FCC review in its attempt to buy Tribune Media, causing the merger to collapse; didn’t report its providing accounting services to TV stations it didn’t own to the FCC; and aired sponsored programming 1,723 times without telling viewers the content was paid by a hospital group and not news.

The EPA admitted ignoring serious problems with rolling back the regulation to reduce automobile pollution through mileage standards. The agency had not seen about two-thirds of the 1,000-page document that Transportation Department staffers gave the White House as justification for the changes, and the top EPA official said that the Transportation had not addressed over 250 comments from EPA experts. Documents about objections from EPA staff may create legal problems for the rule mandating an improvement of average fuel efficiency because of the rules that the EPA broke. In the margins of the new regulation, agency staff wrote:

“The action revising the [greenhouse gas] standards will result in increased climate impacts and air pollution emissions compared to the existing standards.”

Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-DE) wrote that the EPA failed to enter document into the public record, changed the rule after it was signed, and didn’t follow it obligation to write part of the mileage rule:

“The result is a policy that fails to protect public health, fails to save money, fails to result in safer vehicles and will, ultimately and undoubtedly, fail in court.”

Even without protection from DDT’s EPA, scientists say that the worldwide drop in carbon emissions from coronavirus shutdowns could be the largest in recorded history. The 17-percent decrease from the same month last year is the same as emission levels in 2006, according to an analysis of the 69 countries responsible for 97 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Forty-three percent of the decrease came from reduced surface transportation.

DDT is launching the latest phase of his pre-election smear campaign against Democrats, and faithful loyalist Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), chair of Senate Homeland Security Committee, wants to help him. He declassified an email former White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice wrote herself as a reminder immediately before DDT’s inauguration about a discussion with President Obama and his team concerning Michael Flynn. Rice’s email states:

“[President Obama] stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.”

Rice – 1; Johnson – 0. And Flynn – 0. 

Rice called on DDT to release the transcripts of phone calls between Flynn and the Russian ambassador during the transition while Barack Obama was president. Flynn pled guilty—twice—to his private conversations with a foreign country with the goal of undermining his own country’s foreign policy. No release is impending.

Watching judicial decisions regarding Texas absentee voting is like watching a ping-pong game. The state’s AG, Ken Paxton, has fought to keep from expanding the extremely narrow parameters for absentee voters, even if people are in danger of being infected and dying from COVID-19. With no evidence, his excuse is “fraud.” The latest ruling from a Texas federal judge permits absentee ballots for voters afraid of catching the virus, applying the law to all registered voters who “lack immunity from Covid-19 and fear infection at polling places.” This ruling supersedes the decision from the state Supreme Court stopping five counties from issuing mail-in ballots. The next Texas election is July 14, and July 2 is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot. Paxton filed an appeal.

COVID-19 caused almost 30 states to change rules or practices for this year’s primaries or the general election, affecting roughly 86.6 million registered voters and more than 40 million people who now have the temporary right to cast an absentee ballot. Over a dozen states postponed primaries because of the virus, and 11 states requiring an excuse to vote by mail may use the virus for a reason. Another 12 states and the District of Columbia are proactively sending absentee ballot applications or request forms to voters specifically because of the coronavirus. Roughly 34.7 million people will receive the forms. Maryland, Montana, Nevada, and New Jersey sending absentee ballots for the primaries to approximately 11.3 million voters joined five other states that already mailed ballots to voters. In the 34 states that already do not require an excuse to vote absentee or by mail, the number of requests have shot up by ten times over 2016. Before the onset of the virus, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah already conduct elections by mail. Only Kentucky made voting more onerous by requiring government-issued photo IDs. ID-issuing offices are closed in the state.

With no evidence, DDT told reporters that mail-in ballots lead to “forgeries” and “thousands and thousands of fake ballots.” He added a diatribe about people printing “fraudulent ballots” and said “a lot of things can happen.” “To really vote, and without fraud, you have to go and you have to vote at the polling place,”  said DDT, the man who voted by mail from an address that Florida says he can’t have as a legal residential address. Previously, he said that Republicans need to block mail-in ballots to keep electing Republicans. DDT’s family also votes by mail.

DDT is so desperate to keep blue states from voting by mail that he threatened to block funding to Michigan and Nevada because he was under the impression that the states were mailing ballots. In fact, the states mailed applications for absentee ballots. GOP-led states such as Nebraska, West Virginia and Georgia made similar plans to offer applications for absentee ballots, but DDT has no comments about these red states. Interference with elections is unconstitutional.

Colorado, the third state after Washington and Oregon to legislate complete vote by mail, found the practice popular and relatively free of fraud—only 0.0027 percent out of 2.5 million ballots. In 2018, the state had the second highest turnout rate in the country after a 9.4 percent increase among registered voters. In April, 79 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans supported mail-in ballots for 2020. Yet the RNC and DDT’s re-election campaign are paying $20 million to fight voting changes in battleground states. Many Colorado Republicans advocate mail voting, and supporters say it’s safe because of paper ballots, signature verifications, a risk-limiting audit, and voter list checks make it safe. Research shows that neither party benefited from the mail-in system.

Vote by mail is also safer health wise. Wisconsin’s in-person primaries on April 7, mandated by the state Supreme Court and the GOP legislators, led to a “large” spread of coronavirus, according to a study.  

DDT may think that he can postpone the November election, mandated by the U.S. Constitution. About postponement, DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said, “I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other, but right now that’s the plan.” Backlash forced Kushner to backtrack to the media: 

“I have not been involved in, nor am I aware of any discussions about trying to change the date of the Presidential election.”   [photo – Kushner]

A  federal judge allowed a federal lawsuit against DDT, his three oldest children, and his company of collaboration with a fraudulent marketing scheme to prey on investors. The case involves an exchange of “secret” payments for use of DDT’s former reality TV show The Celebrity Apprentice and other promotional events to boost ACN Opportunity, a telecommunications marketing company linked to a nonprofit that used Trump’s brand to appeal to teens. According to the lawsuit, the Trumps profited off the poor and vulnerable by “systematically defrauding economically marginalized people.”

May 24: COVID-19 deaths are 99,300—just 700 short of 100,000.

May 23, 2020

DDT: Week 173 – Wall to Wall Corruption

For black humor about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his fake cures, read Dana Milbank’s “If Trump Likes Hydroxychloroquine, He’ll Love Camel Urine.” And now to the real news which also read like black humor. 

What COVID-19 is covering up

Five agency watchdogs fired within less than two months to keep them investigating DDT’s corruption. (More about that later.)

A $1.3 billion federal contract for a small section of the southern wall with no bid to a firm that DDT found on Fox news when the owner begged for the contract. Note: the company’s earlier contract faced an inspector general audit over improper political influence—but firing the IG will take care of that.

One of the few medical experts, this one for vaccines, fired because he didn’t approve of DDT’s drug of choice, hydroxychloroquine.

Jared Kushner’s staffing of the PPE procurement team with young investment bankers who were told to prioritize DDT’s political allies and business cronies.

AG Bill Barr trying to drop charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn who pled guilty twice about his corrupt vole in the Russia investigation with DDT’s lawyers arguing that he is above the law and immune from investigation.

DDT’s possibly launching the first nuclear weapon test since 1992 to threaten China and Russia.

DDT withdrawing from the Treaty on Open Skies, an almost 30-year pact to reduce accidental wars by permitting reconnaissance flights for the 34 countries in the agreement on short notice. DDT also doesn’t want to continue the START pact with Russia that limits nuclear platforms such as bombers, submarines, and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, George W. Bush’s senior intelligence officials, tweeted about DDT’s withdrawal, “This is insane.”

Possibility of White House commission, the FEC, and the FCC investigating online bias and censorship by social media companies to force them into allowing more far-right material.

DDT celebrating almost 99,000 deaths from COVID-19 by golfing on his resort in Virginia two days after a spike in the state provided the largest number of cases in one day.

Michigan suffering from massive flooding because private companies failed to care for dams while DDT threatens to pull funding from blue states, including Michigan, if they insist on allowing people to vote by mail.

The husband of Sen. Kelly Loefler (D-GA), worried about her reelection this fall after her appointment earlier this year, giving $1 million to DDT’s super PAC.

Republicans spending $20 million to recruit 50,000 volunteers in 15 key states to “observe” (aka intimidate) voters on Election Day. Four confirmed cases of voter fraud in 2016 were three people caught trying to vote for DDT twice and an election worker caught trying to fill in a bubble on someone else’s ballot for mayor.

DDT’s campaign recruiting pro-DDT doctors for a coalition that supports his handling of a health crisis killing almost 100,000 people thus far to open up the country no matter what.  

DDT writing a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) so filled with lies that the fact-checker required 2280 words and it was called “factually incorrect” by the highly reputable British medical journal, Lancet.  The letter lies about the reasons that DDT is removing the U.S. from WHO.  

DDT concealing his addition of workers for foreign arms sales to “essential work” in mid-April, a classification of people needed “to maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily.” Employees questioned why they weren’t such essential items as masks and ventilators. COVID-19 cases and deaths occurred at the plants, probably because of lack of care in protecting workers.

Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) attempt to abolish the 164-member World Trade Organization (WTO) after 90 years of success, a move to damage U.S. businesses and give a victory to China. Hawley can only withdraw U.S. membership if he gets permission from Congress. Even USTR Robert Lighthizer finds the WTO important to the U.S.: global trade liberalization has increased U.S. economy by $1.2 billion between 1950 and 2016. Eliminating WTO and trade agreements would decrease $2.8 trillion in global GDP and put the U.S. at a serious financial and political disadvantage.

The VA refusing to remove Nazi symbols on markers in its national cemetery at For Sam Houston in San Antonio (TX) for two German POWs buried there in 1943. Swastikas cannot be legally displayed for the German display, and all known monuments that feature the Nazi symbol have been removed or replaced.

Eight weeks ago, DDT “dumped” Steve Linick, the fourth inspector general in a late Friday evening tweet. The news burgeoned throughout the week. First, the firing was attributed to an investigation into the way that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife used security agents as servants. The next investigation in the news was that DDT’s use of an emergency declaration last year to fast-track weapons sales to Saudi Arabia with no congressional permission at the request of Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) for the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  Congress passed three resolutions to block the sales and stop Saudi’s support for the war in Yemen, but DDT vetoed them. DDT catered to Saudi Arabia even after the Crown Prince’s murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and journalist in its embassy in Turkey. Lawmakers—even some GOP ones such as Sens. Chuck Grassley (IA), Mitt Romney (UT), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), and John Thune (SD)— want a justification for Linick’s firing.

Pompeo refused to be interviewed by Linick about his pressure for the “emergency” arms sale. Heather Cox Richardson wonders if the arms sales are connected to the nuclear deal that DDT made with Saudi Arabia. Lawmaker opposed that deal also, concerned that the Saudis will use the nuclear materials to develop weapons, but “Energy Secretary Rick Perry secretly approve six authorizations by March 2019.”

Next DDT told the media that he fired Linick because Pompeo asked him to do so. Pompeo said that “Linick wasn’t performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to, that was additive for the State Department, very consistent with what the statute says he’s supposed to be doing.” Inspectors general are supposed to be independent, not follow the agencies’ directions.

By the middle of the week, the media released information about Linick investigating the highly expensive parties that Pompeo gave for possible donors for a political run, possibly senator from Kansas. The two dozen elite gatherings, known as “Madison Dinners” and regularly scheduled until the onset of the coronavirus, developed a master list of about 500 Republicans: 29 percent from the corporate world; 25 percent from media or entertainment; 30 percent from politics or government; and 14 percent diplomats or foreign officials. NBC has the list. No one has a record of any other secretary of State having these dinners that taxpayers funded. 

Pompeo’s diplomatic trips also included stops for campaigning, for example dropping off at a retirement area with GOP donors on his way to Latin America this year. In London, he also met with GP donors just after a trip to Kansas where he met with Charles Koch. The visits were not on his public schedule, and he didn’t tell reporters with him about the meeting.

To protect another Cabinet member, DDT fired the Transportation Department inspector general last week. Mitch Behm was investigating Secretary Elaine Chao for political favoritism for her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Chao can fire the new acting IG, Howard “Skip” Elliott, a former railroad executive who also oversees the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, if she wishes. And it’s not the only conflict of interest that Chao has. Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, stated Chao’s office “actually seems to be trying to defend the idea that someone can serve both as a political appointee reporting directly to the Secretary and as an independent Inspector General charged with overseeing the Secretary’s actions.” DDT’s new appointee, Eric Soskin, is a DOJ trial lawyer “involved in some hot-button immigration and civil rights cases.”

“With the firings [of internal government oversight officials], [Trump] is demolishing the ideal that inspectors general can operate independently without fear of retribution as they attempt to uncover waste, fraud and abuse that does not serve the interests of the American people,” CNN’s Maeve Reston writes in an analysis of the consequences of Trump’s “oversight purge.” 

In his pursuit of collecting loyalists, DDT got John Ratcliffe confirmed by the GOP Senate, 49-44, for director of 17 intelligence agencies. Ratcliffe has a history of lying to make himself look better and protected a company a company accused of reprisal against a whistleblower to get donations. He also nominated a new U.S. attorney, Justin Herdman, to head up the Washington office to oversee cases that prosecute DDT’s friends. Timothy Shea, Herdman’s acting predecessor and AG Bill Barr’s friend whose time had run out, had protected Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.

And then there’s DDT’s threats against any blue states that allow mail-in voting—but that’s for another day.

May 23 COVID-19: 1,666,828 cases; 98,683 deaths.

March 1, 2020

DDT Goes to India, Woos Taliban

Last week before Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) came home to the worst decline in the stock market since 2008 and the possibility of an epidemic in the U.S., he spent two happy days with another authoritarian. Jealous of the 50,000 audience for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston, DDT was promised a much bigger crowd during his stay on a trip to India. At a rally, 100,000 attendees cheered DDT before over one-third of them walked out of the cricket stadium during his speech. Another third left during Modi’s speech. In Ahmedabad, a city of six million, Modi failed to come up with the 10 million along the motorcade path, but he did provide costumed musicians, dancers, and a marching band on camels. [Visual Trump India]

During press conferences, DDT avoided Modi’s international condemnation for revoking the statehood of Muslims and establishing a religious test for new migrants to make India a Hindu nation and drive out the 200 million Muslims. DDT was supposed to talk “about our shared tradition of democracy and religious freedom” but instead skipped the subject. While police used tear gas and smoke grenades to disperse crowds in New Delhi, DDT spoke of India as a place where different faiths “worship side by side in harmony.” He ignored both the violence and the anti-Islam law. 

DDT may have hoped that his visit to the state of Gujarat would help him get donations and votes from influential Indian-Americans, It’s also the place where Modi tacitly supported the killing of over 1,000 people in 2002 in sectarian violence, almost 80 percent of them Muslims killed by Hindu mobs. George W. Bush banned Modi from visiting the U.S. because of his actions until he became prime minister in 2014. Like today’s sectarian violence, police didn’t intervene and sometimes joined in that attacks. Last week, over 30 people were killed in protests. George W. Bush banned Modi from visiting the U.S. because of his actions until he became prime minister in 2014. Both DDT and Modi achieved political power through inciting hatred of Muslims. The Delhi riots bear a strong resemblance to the ethnic pogrom in Gujarat almost two decades ago.

Modi, hurt by a steep economic downturn, can’t fulfill campaign promises on job creation. DDT imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from India that raised penalties on agricultural goods and restrictions on U.S. medical devices. DDT retaliated by removing India from a decades-old preferential trade program.

Michael Fuchs wrote:

“The leaders of the world’s two biggest democracies are pursuing dangerous, nationalist visions at odds with their countries’ founding values.”

Both DDT and Modi achieved political power through inciting hatred of Muslims. The Delhi riots bear a strong resemblance to the ethnic pogrom in Gujarat almost two decades ago.

Yasmeen Serhan echoed Fuchs’ statement about democracies moving to autocracies

“As the leaders of the world’s two largest democracies, their shared disregard for norms, disdain for dissent (from the media and elsewhere), and dedication to strengthening their own executive power at the expense of state institutions designed to curb it have made them emblematic of the democratic deterioration that has been taking place in recent years.

“A mainstay of autocratic rule is the consolidation of executive power…. Trump’s bid to extend his presidential authority in the U.S. has steadily increased over time, from his attempts to defy Congress and the Constitution over his hardline immigration policies to his impeachment-spurring efforts to withhold congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine. In both cases, Trump’s rationale was largely the same: to invoke presidential privilege or, in autocratic speak, to declare himself constitutionally above the law. White House withholding press briefings and attacking news outlets and journalists perceived as critical.

“But perhaps the most common trait among burgeoning autocrats in recent years is the growing appeal to populist and nationalist sentiment. This has been most pronounced in India through Modi’s efforts to transform the country from a secular democracy into a theocratic, nationalist one that dominates its minorities. In the U.S., Trump has made his nativist rhetoric about immigration a hallmark of his administration.”

In praising Modi, DDT may have thought he was criticizing China, but he described his own approach to ruling the U.S.:

“There is all the difference in the world between a country that seeks to claim power through coercion, intimidation and aggression, and a country that seeks to grow by setting its people free, and unleashing them to chase their dreams, and that is India.”

Protests have come from the Indian 2019 Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which grants amnesty to non-Muslim immigrants from three nearby Muslim-majority countries—Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh—who came to India before 2015 in an expansion of the 1951 National Register of Citizens. Assam, which borders Bangladesh, has been registering “Indian” citizens since the 1951 census but now works to expel Muslims as “foreigners.” To stay in the country, Muslims, unlike those of any other religion, must provide proof that their families migrated to India before 1971, the year that Bangladesh declared independence from Pakistan and created a refugee crisis. Generations of Indian Muslims born and raised in India must produce their grandparents’ legal documents, which in many cases no longer exist, or leave.

Under DDT, the U.S. stripped Latinx of citizenship even if they were born in the U.S. and have birth certificates. Officials demand documents such as baptismal records and ask questions such as “Do you remember when you were born?” Some had passports revoked, put in deportation proceedings, and barred from returning to the U.S. if they visited Mexico. The project began on the southern border but moved north to central states. DDT’s Muslim bans also draw parallels to Modi’s driving Muslims out of India.

AG Bill Barr created a new office to denaturalize citizens who committed any crimes. The new section replaces the one investigating cases about revoking citizenship for those convicted of terrorism, war crimes, human rights violations, and sex offenses. Under President Obama, the office focused on people who falsified applications and committed major crimes. Since 2008, 228 denaturalization cases have been filed, 40 percent of them since 2017. In three years, case referrals have increased 600 percent. Under DDT, the process may be used against people who make misstatements on the application.

Human rights lawyer Arjun Sethi called DDT and Modi the “worst kind of fascists.”

“Both Modi and Trump have criminalized minority communities, championed fake news and persecuted dissent, promoted supremacist ideologies, and played on the racism and anxiety of dominant communities.”

DDT’s visit to India also brought up his business ventures, the most in any country except the U.S. His India ventures include four luxury residential projects and an office tower branded with the Trump name under licensing deals. Since DDT’s last visit to India in 2014, one of DDT’s business has been accused of massive fraud, and the other faces a funding crunch. Both of them have close ties to Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. 

The week concluded by the U.S. and the Taliban signing an agreement that would begin the complete withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops from Afghanistan over 14 months after over 18 years, the longest war on foreign soil. The text is here. Estimates of that war cost for the U.S. is almost $8 trillion by 2050. Secretary of State Pompeo said that the Afghans need to determine the future of their country, but no Afghans were at the table for the negotiation. It was entirely one-sided by the Taliban with the U.S. running the show.

According to the agreement, the Taliban will break off ties to terror groups, but nothing was said about human rights—oppression of females and harsh punishments exacted against anyone for petty offenses. The Taliban agreed that Afghan soil will not be used by terrorists to attack the United States or its allies, but it does not have control over areas outside Afghan hands. Several factions, including ISIS, control areas and could grow stronger without U.S. troops. Former national security adviser John Bolton wrote:

“Legitimizing Taliban sends the wrong signal to ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorists, and to America’s enemies generally.”

The deal stipulates that the badly-split Afghan government must organize a negotiating team to begin talks with the Taliban by March 10. On the same day, before any talks, thousands of Taliban prisoners held by Afghans must be released in exchange for 1,000 Taliban-held members of the Afghan security forces. Twenty-two GOP lawmakers have issued a warning letter to Pompeo and DOD Secretary Mark Esper that the Taliban has “a history of extracting concessions in exchange for false assurances.” 

Under DDT, the U.S. signed an agreement with an officially listed terrorist group, the Haqqani Network, which has a campaign of suicide bombings. The Network’s leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is the Taliban’s deputy leader and military commander. A day before the signing ceremony, the Taliban’s multimedia chief described it as a historic landmark for proclaiming “the defeat of the arrogance of the White House in the face of the white turban.” Pompeo indicated that he doesn’t trust the Taliban to live up to the agreement; DDT said he wants to meet with them.

We have ten days to see any success. 

February 21, 2020

DDT: Week 161 – Russian Interference Denial, Bad Global Diplomacy

Russia is again preferring Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) elected as president in 2020, according to a classified hearing for the House Intelligence Committee about election security. The information is not a surprise, but the ramifications of the intelligence briefing are. DDT became furious after Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) told DDT that only Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who DDT perceives as his arch-nemesis, was told about the release of the information. Nunes has a years-old pattern of running to DDT with information and/or lies. Republicans are accusing the briefers from other agencies of trying to sabotage DDT’s reelection. DDT immediately fired Joe Maguire, acting Director of Intelligence, for telling House members about Russia’s preference. He said that Maguire should not have allowed the briefing and that he should be been told about it if it did happen. In addition, DDT said that Russia wasn’t interfering and called it “Hoax number 7.”  

DDT’s aides have been ordered to identity and remove government officials who don’t defend DDT’s interests so that he can replace them with loyalists. Johnny McEntee, DDT’s new personnel chief, told agencies to expect staffing changes (aka purges), starting with the State Department and the Department of Defense.

Russia should be delighted with DDT after he replaced Maguire with Richard Grenell, U.S. ambassador to Germany. Grenell fits DDT’s criteria: he supports white nationalists, defends DDT on the Fox network and Twitter, and doesn’t believe that Russia isn’t supporting DDT through disinformation and other election interference. Like DDT, the racist, anti-immigrant Grenell has a history of attacking women on Twitter.

Early in Grenell’s ambassadorship, German officials called for his expulsion. Grenell ordered Germany to stop trading with Iran and then said he would work on policy, not diplomacy, to help far-right nationalists take power in Europe. He said he planned to “empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders” and praised Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, connected to the Freedom Party created in the 1950s by a former Nazi officer. Grenell was described as “an extreme-right colonial officer,” a “total diplomatic failure” who was acting like a “brat.”

The German newspaper Der Spiegel‘s description of Grenell from interviews:

“Almost all of these [30] sources paint an unflattering portrait of the ambassador, one remarkably similar to Donald Trump, the man who sent him to Berlin. A majority of them describe Grenell as a vain, narcissistic person who dishes out aggressively, but can barely handle criticism. His brash demeanor, some claim, hides a deep insecurity, and they say he thirsts for the approval of others.” 

Called upon to explain why Grenell plans to “empower” Europe’s anti-immigrant conservatives at the time, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert forgot that German was not an ally during World War II:

“We have a very strong relationship with the government of Germany….  Tomorrow is the anniversary of the D-Day invasion [when the U.S. helped liberate France from Germany]. We obviously have a very long history with the government of Germany.”

As acting DNI heading up 17 intelligence agencies, Grenell would oversee the intelligence community’s efforts to combat election interference and disinformation, but he has been skeptical of Russia’s role in 2016. He also fails to meet the requirement of federal law that “any individual nominated for appointment as Director of National Intelligence shall have extensive national security expertise.” Before Grenell became ambassador to Germany, he was spokesperson for the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, run a public affairs consultancy, been a Fox News contributor, and, for a few days, was presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s national security spokesperson. Since becoming an ambassador, Grenell became special envoy for negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia.

Grenell, one of DDT’s “best people,” also worked for Moldovan oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, now a fugitive and barred from entering the U.S. because of corruption. Writing articles defending Plahotniuc in 2016, Grenell did not say he was being paid and did not register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Both Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, DDT’s former campaign manager and deputy campaign manager, were convicted of violating this law. Undisclosed work for a foreign politician could block someone from security clearance or a position in a U.S. intelligence agency. A lawyer specializing in security clearances said it’s unclear how Grenell received clearance to become an ambassador.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) gave a weak excuse for Grenell’s complete lack of experience for his new position: Grenell is gay. Gaetz evidently considered Grenell’s sexual orientation as the one requirement for heading up 17 intelligence agencies. Grenell, however, supports homophobia. About VP Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, Grenell said they are “great people, “godly people,” followers of Christ [who] don’t have hate in their heart for anyone.”

Kash Patel, former national security council director of counterterrorism, has become a top adviser in Grenell’s office. As Nunes’ staffer, Patel was a leader in discrediting the Russian interference into the U.S. election. In her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Fiona Hull expressed concern that Fiona Hill, the National Security Council’s former senior director for Eurasian and Russian affairs, said she believed that Patel was sending information to DDT after becoming improperly involved in Ukraine policy. DDT had identified Patel as the National Security Council’s “Ukraine director,” a position held by one of Hill’s deputies. Patel was lead author of a memo accusing the FBI and DOJ leaders of abusing their power in the Russia investigation.

While DDT was busy firing career government workers, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and some of his U.S. entourage were stunned at the European disapproval of the U.S., DDT, and his policies at the Munich Security Conference. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened by accusing the DDT administration of “rejecting the idea of the international community.” He summarized DDT’s policy:

“Every country should fend for itself and put its own interests over all others … ‘Great again’—even at the expense of neighbors and partners.”

Pompeo was unable to convince most countries that “the U.S. is out there fighting for sovereignty and our friends.” After his speech, German and French officials agreed that Pompeo was speaking only to DDT and not the Europeans in the room. Nicholas Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, expressed concern about Macron’s overtures toward Russia in his speech. Many countries at the conference also failed to agree with the position of Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper who spoke about China being a reprehensible force.

Criticism directed toward China for expelling three Wall Street Journal reporters didn’t go well for Pompeo, especially because he told the country that “mature, responsible countries understand that a free press reports facts and expresses opinions.” Earlier, Pompeo had kicked an NPR reporter off his overseas trip in an unwarranted snit at another NPR reporter. Trips to Senegal, Angola and Ethiopia were not diplomatically successful; Africans still remember when DDT called them “sh*thole” countries. DDT also cut aid to Africa and expanded a travel ban affecting about one-fourth of its 1.2 million people.  

In South Africa, Pompeo criticized South African government’s plans to expropriate private land without compensation and said that economies need “respect for property rights.” Pompeo said, “Be wary of authoritarian regimes and their empty promises. They breed corruption, dependency and instability.” Because of the racist apartheid that lasted until 1994, South Africa is one of the world’s most unequal countries. At the present time, DDT is appropriating private land for his wall while desecrating sacred tribal land.  

Saudi Arabia was a more successful stop for Pompeo. He could ignore how they imprison U.S. citizens and kill a U.S. resident and journalist. (Importance of a “free press,” anyone?) After all, DDT makes money from the Saudis, and Jared Kushner is buddies with the Crown Prince.

Those surprised by the reaction to the U.S. at the conference might have benefited from reading the Pew Research results showing attitudes toward DDT and his policies. In 32 countries, 64 percent lack confidence that DDT will do the right thing in world affairs, and Western Europe has the most common anti-DDT sentiments. Overall, DDT has an average of 29 percent. In Mexico, 89 percent lack confidence in DDT. He gets the highest level of confidence from the most autocratic countries and Israel. These results are a year old; 2020 will probably be worse for DDT.

Having lost friendship with democracies, DDT is now being deserted by other autocrats. In the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte declared that “America is very rude” to Filipino friends and moved on to a relationship with China. DDT’s desertion of Venezuela’s president also lost that country for his ally.

Pompeo came home to a lawsuit about his communications with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) about Pompeo’s interest in being the senator from Kansas. American Oversight, a watchdog group, is suing the State Department for records about this relationship. Pompeo says he’s not going to run for the open seat after Pat Roberts retires but keeps meeting with Republicans.

February 10, 2020

Week 159: Beyond Impeachment

The impeachment trial, the outrageous speeches of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), and Democratic candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire have consumed most of the media. Yet DDT keeps wreaking havoc in other ways. 

The “peace plan” that Jared Kushner orchestrated for Israel without any Palestinian input is not going smoothly. In a spike of violence, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager in the contested West Bank that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to illegally annex, the fifth killing in the West Bank and Jerusalem since DDT tried to give Palestinian territory to Israel. Two Palestinians were killed during a protest against the Israeli’s demolition of a Palestinian house. Israeli police prevented Palestinians from worshipping at the Al-Aqsa Mosque at the Jerusalem location which Jews call the Temple Mount.

A week ago, at the Arab League headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas announced to its members that Palestine would immediately cut ties with the U.S. Palestine Authority’s security forces have long joined Israel to police the occupied West Bank under Palestinian control. The PA also has intelligence cooperation agreements with the CIA which it is stopping at this time. [Right: Abbas shows the Arab League how Palestine has lost land in the last century.]

The Arab League foreign ministers said the U.S.-Israel plan would not lead to a comprehensive and just peace and the League will not support its implementation. It does not meet Palestinians’ minimum aspirations. The foreign ministers affirmed that peace requires a future Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as capital and based on borders before Israel captured land in the 1967 Middle East War.

David Friedman, U.S. ambassador to Israel, said that Israel cannot annex the West Bank without U.S. permission. He didn’t mention Palestinian’s rights to keep their land. Most of the world sees Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank as illegal. Netanyahu has temporarily backed down, possibly endangering his chances for reelection on March 2.

DDT’s assassination of Iranian leader Qasem Soleimani won’t go away: Iraqi officials are now saying that ISIS is responsible for the rocket attack that DDT used to justify the murder. Soleimani was fighting ISIS.

A former Air Force drone operator called the U.S. military “worse than Nazis” in the atrocities that they inflict in the Middle East. From a small room near Las Vegas, he remotely fired missiles over 7,000 miles way. He said his breaking point was killing a child in Afghanistan that his superiors said was a “dog.” He quit the military and spoke against the drone program after directly killing 13 people while his squadron fired on 1,626 targets that included women and children. In his training, he was told to “kill people and break things.” Superiors kept him in line with punitive measures and mockery. He wants people to understand how the drone program dehumanizes the operators.

DDT has a plan for “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” in an executive order requiring Greek and Roman architectural style for all federal buildings costing over $50 million in Washington and throughout the U.S.  His goal is supposedly to “inspire … respect for our system of self-government.” Smithsonian-funded museums will escape the order. The “inspiration” comes from the “National Civic Art Society” that argues contemporary design in buildings is “dehumanizing.” All designs will be subject to White House approval.

For Architect of the Capitol, DDT nominated J. Brett Blanton, an engineer in airport operations and construction management who is not a licensed or practicing architect and was confirmed in mid-January by a voice vote on the day that the impeachment trial began. Blanton also served as a transportation engineer for the military. His first project will be overseeing the renewal project for the 111-year-old Beaux-Arts office building Cannon House Office Building (left), designed by architects for the New York Public Library and other early 19th-century buildings. Only one senator, Rules Committee Chair Roy Blunt (R-MO), appeared at Blanton’s hearing.

After DDT praised Super Bowl victors, the Kansas City Chiefs, for represented the “Great State of Kansas,” Fox & Friends hosts defended the geographically challenged man in the Oval Office despite the Chiefs’ location in Kansas City, Missouri. It’s not his first gaffe

  • At a UN luncheon with African leaders, he praised the health care in the non-existent country of Nambia.
  • He told his foreign policy advisers that Nepal and Bhutan are parts of India, instead of separate countries. [He also called them Nipple and Button.]
  • He also doesn’t know that Ireland isn’t part of the United Kingdom.
  • When talking to Indian Prime Minister Narenra Modi, he said, “[I]t’s not as though you have China right on your border.” [The India-China border is 2521 miles.]
  • He announced that he is building a border wall in Colorado, 1,193 miles from the Mexico border.
  • He thinks that Belgium is a “beautiful city” instead of a country.
  • Paris is still in Germany instead of France, according to DDT.
  • In talking to people from the Baltic states, he thought he was talking to the Balkans. This explains the difference.
  • When DDT bombed Syria, he thought he was bombing Iraq.
  • Recently at Davos, he thought he was talking with a Syrian Kurd when he was having a conversation with the president of Iraqi Kurdistan.
  • He announced that his call from South Korea was from North Korea.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may keep a map without names for the countries to educate DDT. Pompeo used it after he lost his temper with NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly, walked out of his interview, and swore at her in private before he demanded she identify Ukraine on his unmarked map. She had no trouble complying because of her education, but Pompeo tried to make it appear as if she didn’t. DDT was delighted with Pompeo’s lying, rudeness, and swearing by calling it “impressive.” He added, “I think you did a good job on [the reporter].”

In retaliation against Kelly, Pompeo removed NPR reporter Michele Kelemen from his trip to Europe and said in an interview in Kazakhstan that revoking her press credentials for the trip sends “a perfect message about press freedoms” to the world. He added that the State Department only grants press credentials when it believes reporters are “telling the truth and being honest.” [Pompeo’s altercation was with Kelly, not Kelemen.] Despite his behavior, Pompeo said that journalists are allowed to ask him anything they want. Kelly’s brilliant response to the Pompeo debacle in a NYT op-ed explains the substance of the interview that got lost after Pompeo’s temper tantrum and how his personal attack on her is “not the point.”

On his tour, Pompeo ironically praised Kazakhstan for taking in refugees fleeing persecution and said:

“The protection of basic human rights defines the soul of a nation.” 

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross likes the novel coronavirus sweeping China that has killed over 1,000 people And affected another 40,000+. He said:  

“I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America.”

DDT told states and local officials that they could block refugees, Texas took him up on it, people got riled at the governor, and a judge told states they couldn’t block refugees. A Maryland U.S. District judge called DDT’s policy “unlawful” and “does not appear to serve the overall public interest. [It] flies in the face of clear Congressional intent.” Although 42 states and over 100 local governments agreed to acceptance refugees, seven states were thus far noncommittal. DDT already lowered the annual national refugee cap to 18,000, down from 110,000 in 2016.

DHS has put non-violent protesters who committed acts of civil disobedience on its “extremist” list of white supremacists and mass killers.

DDT’s Labor Department, run by the son of former Justice Antonin Scalia, has changed rules so that workers will have a harder time suing for wage theft and other violations.

DDT’s tariffs will hurt everyone in the nation. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reduces the average family’s real income by $1,277 in 2020 by reducing the GDP level and raising consumer prices. The projection is over double that of last year’s $580 report.

On the campaign trail, DDT said, “If we don’t win, your farms are going to hell.” DDT had told farmer that they might have some “pain” from his trade wars, but he didn’t warn them about the eight-year high of farm bankruptcy rates that spiked 20 percent in 2019. Earlier in a campaign speech in Warren (MI), DDT declared that F-35 jets are literally invisible.

Another lie from the SOTU: Wooing black voters, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gave a “scholarship” to fourth-grader Janiyah Davis to let her escape from a “failed government school.” She already attends one of Philadelphia’s most sought-after schools, Math, Science and Technology Community Charter School III, a public school.  Last year, she moved from a Christian school with tuition. Janiyah and her mother were invited to the SOTU after the principal in he former school was asked for names for youth who might want scholarships. No one checked to see where Janiyah attended school, explained why they were invited, or warned them that they would be in the spotlight. After the SOTU, Janiyah’s mother said:

“I don’t view MaST as a school you want to get out of at all. I view it as a great opportunity.”

DDT was angry with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf for vetoing tax credits for students in private religious schools.

January 6, 2020

The U.S. Stands Alone

A bully always expects an adversary to back down—the philosophy of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in his mistaken belief that running a government is the same as running a business. He ordered the assassination Iran’s military leader, Qassem Soliemani, on Iraqi soil to show that he is the boss, but events prove him wrong.

Two days after Soliemani’s murder, the Iraqi Parliament voted by 170-0 to rid itself of U.S. troops by 170-0, primarily Shiites, with many of the 328 Parliament members, mostly ethnic Kurdish and Sunni Muslim minorities, absent. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spent Sunday on the “news” shows explaining that Iraq certainly didn’t want the U.S. to pull its troops.

Since its expulsion vote, the Iraqi Parliament determined that U.S. troops cannot leave their bases or fly in Iraqi airspace while plans are being made for their departure, according to Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf, the military spokesman for Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. The U.S. sent a letter to Iraq giving information about moving troops out of Iraq, but Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mark Milley explained that sending it was an accident because it was a draft, poorly worded and “that’s not what’s happening.” DDT said that he wanted the letter “cleaned up.” Someone in the Iraqi military provided Information about the contents of the letter. DDT also threatens sanctions on Iraq if it expels U.S. troops and demands reimbursement for costs for keeping a military presence in the country, especially the “extraordinarily expensive air base [that] cost billions of dollars to build.”

During his appearances on TV, Pompeo kept assuring people that there was no danger but asked about retaliation for Soleimani’s assassination, Pompeo flippantly responded, “It may be that there’s a little noise here in the interim.”  The Pentagon has sent six B-52 bombers to the Indian Ocean for use against Iran. DHS has also warned businesses to take precautions about possible cyberattacks. Computer experts also cautioned about Iran targeting such infrastructure as energy grids and financial institutions.  

Pompeo, supposedly in charge of diplomacy instead of violence, persuaded DDT to kill Soliemani against the advice of the Pentagon after a ten-year fixation to attack Iran. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Pompeo’s classmate at the U.S. Military Academy, and VP Mike Pence reinforced Pompeo’s recommendation. Esper ignored the traditional decision-making process when he failed to discuss plans with senior Pentagon leaders and the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the killing. Pompeo had expected European allies to cheer his decision but discovered that they are giving him the cold shoulder.

DDT usually gets rid of people who don’t make him look good, but Pompeo thinks that he can stay, deciding that he won’t run for U.S. Senator from Kansas. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had wanted Pompeo to be a candidate because he was considered a shoo-in. Kansas, known in the past as solid red, elected a Democratic woman governor in the last election because her predecessor ruined the state with his draconian tax cuts.

Brand new at his job, Esper has lost more experienced support when his chief of staff Eric Chewning, a former Army intelligence officer, quit. Esper had already not told senior Pentagon leaders and the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the killing, ignoring the usual decision-making process. Chewning departure followed those of six other senior Pentagon officials in December.  Chewning’s replacement is Jen Stewart, minority staff director for the House Armed Services Committee. 

On March 16, 2003, Bush’s VP Dick Cheney said, “From the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” For almost 14 years since George W. Bush set into motion the killing of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his male relatives, Iraqi life has worsened, and ISIS built a powerful organization that threatens the world. The U.S. put Shiites into power, and they developed a coalition with Iran. Bush’s VP Dick Cheney’s prediction that Iraqis would rejoice over the regime change and Bush’s early claim of “Mission Accomplished” have both proved to be wrong.

On January 3, 2020, Pompeo said, “I know that the Iraqi people will ultimately demand that the Iranians get out.” That and his claim that Iraqis would be “dancing in the street” after Soleimani’s death was as false as W.’s and Cheney’s statements. Instead Iraqis turned out in tens of thousands to mourn the Iranian’s killing.

In the past few months, the Iraqi government and militias, supported either by Iran or the U.S., have killed hundreds of unarmed protesters and injured thousands of them, mostly led by young men who came to age after Bush’s 2003 preemptive war who want to end foreign interventions. The U.S. escalated the military conflict by blaming Iran, and Iran blamed the U.S. as Iraqi militias attacked U.S. bases in Iraq 11 times within the last week of 2019. One U.S. military contractor was killed, and U.S. bombs killed 24 Iraqis and injuring another 50. After the Iraqi militia protested at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad (Iraq), the U.S. killed eight people at the Baghdad airport including Soleimani and the leader of the Iraqi militia.

Even Iraqis who oppose Soleimani are opposed to U.S. occupation in their country because they see DDT, like Soleimani, a villain because they don’t want foreigners to control their country—either the U.S. or Iran. That belief led to their vote “to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason.”

U.S. interference in Iran goes back over a half century. In 1953, the U.S. ousted democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh because the oil industry was taken from Western petroleum companies. When the U.S. attacked Afghanistan after 9/11, it obtained intelligence from Soleimani about fighting the Taliban, but the U.S. lost this source when W. Bush, through his VP’s direction, listed Iran as one of his “Axis of Evil.” Soleimani, however, continued to be a major influence in Iraq in opposition to the U.S. DDT continued to eliminate any diplomacy with Iran when he imposed sanctions on the country and dropped out of the six-country Iran agreement.

After Soleimani’s murder, Iran ended its commitments to limit nuclear fuel production but promised to return if U.S. economic sanctions are removed. Soliemani’s killing stopped the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Esper and Pompeo have claimed that DDT won’t attack Iranian cultural sites, but DDT repeated his threats to commit this barbaric war crime which would be a declaration of war. Targeting cultural sites violates the Hague Convention on Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, ratified by the Senate in 2008. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted, “Targeting civilians and cultural sites is what terrorists do.”

The threats of destroying their cultural sites have united Iranians with the rally cry, “Attend the funeral for our cultural heritage.” Iranian information minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi tweeted:

“Like Isis, Like Hitler, Like Genghis! They all hate cultures. Trump is a terrorist in a suit.”

European allies are trying to provide for the safety of their troops in the Middle East, and the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, invited Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Brussels for talks. Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said he would seek direct talks with Iran to discuss the safety of its troops in Iraq and continue the fight against ISIS. DDT has blocked Zarif from addressing the UN Security Council on January 9 by refusing him a visa to enter the U.S. in violation of a 1947 agreement with the UN that the U.S. allow foreign officials into the country for UN affairs.

Russia condemned DDT’s killing Soliemani, calling it “fraught with grave consequences for regional peace and stability.” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed his condolences over Soleimani’s death in a conversation with Zarif, and they agreed that DDT’s actions “grossly violate the norms of international law.” Putin has been working with Soleiman on Syria including Soleimani’s invitation to Moscow for an Iranian-Russian coalition. The Russian Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, connected the attack’s timing to DDT’s re-election campaign, something that millions of people in the U.S. also believe.

Immediately after Soliemani’s assassination, Israel was the only country to support DDT’s actions. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has drawn any support since then, saying, “We’re not involved.” After losing two elections in less than a year, Netanyahu wants to win the March 2 election to keep his position and protect himself from criminal prosecution after his indictment.

Over the weekend, al-Shabaab, US African Command killed a U.S. service member and two private contractors for the DOJ at a Kenyan Defense Force used by U.S. Special Operations forces. Al-Shabab is affiliated with al-Qaeda, but DDT has said nothing about bombing Kenya which has no natural resources that he would want.

January 3, 2020

DDT: Week 154 – WWIII?

“Our president will start a war with Iran because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate. He’s weak and he’s ineffective, so the only way he figures that he’s going to get reelected, and as sure as you’re sitting there, is to start a war with Iran.”

That’s what Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said about President Obama in 2011. Immediately before the 2012 election heralding President Obama’s second term, DDT tweeted, “Don’t let Obama play the Iran card in order to start a war in order to get elected — be careful Republicans!” Now DDT may avoid publicity about his extortion of Ukraine and a false investigation of his political opponent with his assassination of Qassem Soleimani that can “start a war with Iran.” The strike against Soleiman is far worse than earlier assassinations because it attacked a state leader, unlike the other U.S. killings of leaders in the Middle East. The U.S. made no attempt to arrest Soleimani in Iraq before he was killed.

The murder of Solemani, leader of the elite Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and second most powerful leader in the country, in a preemptive strike on the Baghdad International Airport had no congressional authorization. Repercussions are not certain, but the killing makes a U.S. presence in the Middle East far more dangerous, and U.S. people may be targeted around the world. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted:

“The question is this – as reports suggest, did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?”

To block DDT from illegally starting a war with Iran, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) plan legislation to “prohibit any funding for offensive military force in or against Iran without prior congressional authorization.” An earlier measure to amend the National Defense Authorization Act for a similar purpose passed the House in July but was dropped in December. Instead of waging a new war, Khanna said, the United States needs to “get out priorities right” about its “crumbling infrastructure,” desperate housing needs, and “the existential crisis of climate change.” Sanders tweeted that “it’s the working-class kids who will … fight and die in a disastrous new Middle East conflict – not the children of billionaires.” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has introduced privileged legislation—meaning Republicans cannot block the bill from the Senate floor—banning any hostilities with Iran not explicitly authorized by a congressional declaration of war or a specific authorization for the use of military force.

Echoing George W. Bush’s statements about his preemptive attack on Iraq, DDT said earlier this week that a war with Iran “would go very quickly.” Dan Spinelli disagrees and gives details. The same “quickly” comment was made about World War I, which instigators claimed would last a couple of weeks. World War I killed over 20 million people, and W.’s war in Iraq has lasted almost 14 years. And just like W.’s mythical “weapons of mass destruction,” vague descriptions of Iran’s “developing plans” and future attacks are intended to foment fears. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has already replaced Soleimani with Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani, Soleimani’s deputy commander. Khamenei also warned of a “harsh retaliation” for Soleimani’s killers. Ghaani said that “any military action against Iran will be regretted.”

The U.S. also reportedly killed Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in yesterday’s strike. In retaliation against the killing of one U.S. military contractor, the U.S. killed 25 Iraqis who were able to breach the most secure U.S. embassy in the world. Iraq’s deputy parliament speaker it is time to put an end to “US recklessness and arrogance”; an emergency parliament session for Saturday will discuss the U.S. airstrike in Baghdad killing the Iranian and Iraqi leaders. The session will work on taking “decisive decisions that put an end to US presence inside Iraq.” About 5,000 U.S. members, supposedly to protect and train Iraqis, are stationed in Iraq. The country’s prime minister Adel Abdel Mahdi stated, “The assassination of an Iraqi military commander in an official post is an aggression against the country of Iraq, its state, its government and its people” and “could spark a devastating war.”

Like killing the head of the CIA, the assassination of Soleimani is ”an explicit act of war,” as an Al Jarzeera journalist wrote.

VP Mike Pence, one heartbeat from being U.S. president, is already spreading disinformation—or ignorance—when he falsely connected Iran to the 9/11 attackers and couldn’t even remember the number of those attackers when he said that 10 of the 12 attackers on 9/11 were linked to Iran. Of the 19 (not 12) 9/11 attackers, 15 were from Saudi Arabia, 2 from the UAE, and 1 each from Egypt and Lebanon.  

Before the assassination, thousands of supporters of Iraqi’s Kataib Hezbollah militia attacked the 104-acre U.S. embassy in Iraq. Media almost universally used the term “Iran-supported” without mentioning that the attackers are Iraqi. The event came after U.S. airstrikes in Iran killed 24 people, largely civilians, because an Iraqi militia rocket strike killed U.S. military contractor (aka mercenary). Protesters backed off the attack after the group claimed it received guarantees from Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi to work toward passing a law calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country. The militia gained influence after it worked with the U.S. to drive ISIS out of Iraq. DDT has lost all leverage in controlling Iran after he dropped out of the anti-nuclear agreement and returned to imposing sanctions on Iran.

The U.S. won’t have allied support for a war with Iran: only Israel stands behind the U.S. in its unilateral war. Germany warned against further “dangerous escalation,” and the UK stated that more conflict is “in none of our interests.” DDT failed to inform European partners, and the UK said, “The purpose of having allies is that we can surprise our enemies and not each other.” The Conservative chair of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee expressed concern about the “pattern” of the U.S. not sharing with the UK. France criticized the U.S. for “playing their game in an unpredictable manner” and said that the assassination has made the world “more dangerous.” Last week, Vladimir Putin said he will no longer cooperate with sanctions against Iran and said about Soleimani’s death, “We express our sincere condolences to the Iranian people.” China stated it “has always opposed the use of force in international relations,” urged the U.S. “to remain calm and exercise restraint to avoid further escalating tensions,” and called for respect for Iraq’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

While keeping allies and Congress in the dark about his plans, DDT gave Israel advance warning about killing Soleimani. In addition to other preparedness for the attack’s backlash, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came back early from his visit to Greece. Netanyahu is running for reelection in March, despite his three criminal indictments, in the third election for the country’s prime minister. He is asking Israel’s parliament for immunity.

DDT also referred to his plans to people staying at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Five days before killing Soleimani, he wandered his private resort, dropping hints that he was working on a “big” response to the Iranian regime that they would be hearing or reading about very “soon.” These comments went much farther than his New Year’s Eve tweet about the “big price” Iran would pay for damaging the U.S. embassy in Iraq. Two sources said that he talked about his contact with national-security and military advisers about an imminent aggressive action. One of them said that DDT kept repeating, “You’ll see.”

This afternoon, DDT claimed that his escalating tensions with Iran were to “stop a war” and told the attacked Iranians to immediately end “aggressions in the region.” Then he initiated another airstrike that killed five Iraqis in a convoy for a medical unit of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces near Baghdad. 

State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. action created no danger for Americans in the region, but his agency asked U.S. citizens to immediately leave Iraq and suspended all consular operations. On Sunday, Pompeo tried to play down any problems in either Iraq or North Korea, but the Pentagon had blocked any government travel to Iraq or Syria, including by U.S. lawmakers and their staffers, because of regional instability. Pompeo is removing 28 percent of diplomatic staffing in Iraq by the end of May 2020, removing 114 positions in the Baghdad embassy alone, in a retraction on diplomacy and oversight.

Senior government officials continue the spin that killing Soleimani was intended to “advance the cause of peace.” The rest of the world has the opposite vision. On Twitter “WWIII” is the top trending term worldwide. People curious about DDT’s timing may consider that he bragged about the killing in his big speech to evangelicals today. And that Iran is hacking into DDT’s re-election campaign in opposition for his possible second term.  

December 22, 2019

Week 152 – World, Domestic Affairs

World and domestic affairs beyond impeachment affect the United States through decisions that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) makes.

DDT stayed silent during violent protests from India’s attempt to eliminate secularization. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a conservative re-elected in May, the parliament permits citizenship for undocumented migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who moved to India before 2014 and belong to one of six religious minorities, excluding Islam. Modi claims that the law protects persecuted religious groups, much like DDT said about his executive order protecting only Jewish people. India is now trying to control protests by shutting down phone and internet access in parts of the country.

Shortly before DDT was elected, Russian interference helped an anti-immigrant movement in Britain pass Brexit, a separation from the European Union. After agonizing over the process for over three years, the Brits elected Boris Johnson as prime minister to finish the process, much to the possible detriment of almost everyone in the country. Like DDT, Johnson is connected to corruption and sexual misconduct. The UK will leave the EU by the last day of 2020 no matter how disastrous, and the UK may have to pay the EU up to £39 billion. Northern Ireland stayed with the EU and will have a customs and regulatory border with Great Britain; Scotland voted to stay with the EU and may separate from the UK.

DDT, close friends with the autocratic Turkish president Recip Tayyip Erdogan, rejected the congressional votes to recognize that the Ottoman’s killing of Armenians in 1915-16 to support Germany in World War I was genocide. In retribution for the congressional resolution, Erdogan threatens to shut down Incirlik air base where the U.S. stores nuclear warheads. DDT called resolution criticizing the killing of 1.5 million Armenians “worthless” and the “biggest insult” to Turkish people. Erdogan also tried to prevent sanctions against Turkey after its military offensive in Syria by threatening to close the Kurecik radar base. Following DDT’s wishes, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tried to block the resolution. On December 12, the Senate unanimously passed the resolution after the House did so with only one no vote. Because resolutions do not have the weight of law, they do not require a president’s signature. 

Israel is headed for its third election in less than a year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to put together a winning coalition but plans to stay prime minister. The national election to determine the Israeli prime minister is next March, but on December 26, 100,000 Likud party members, Netanyahu’s party, vote for their leaders. Gideon Sa’ar is challenging Netanyahu to represent Likud; the winner is in line to become prime minister.Christians in the Gaza Strip are banned from visiting holy cities such as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Nazareth for Christmas. Last year, almost 700 Gazan Christians received permits to travel the holy cities.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor is investigating Israeli war crimes allegedly committed in the Palestinian territories. Netanyahu claims that the ICC has jurisdiction only for sovereign states and denies any Palestinian state. He plans to illegally take over the Jordan Valley, composing one-fourth of the West Bank. In the ICC, Palestine is suing the U.S. for DDT’s moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Two courts, one in the EU and the other in Canada, have also decided that Israel “an occupying power” and “not … a sovereign entity” in determining labeling of products from Jewish settlements in the West Bank.   

The end of the year means tax preparation. Last year the 2017 tax cuts hurt a large percentage of people in the U.S., but large corporations are making out like bandits from their 40-percent tax rate cut. Approximately 400 of the largest corporations in the U.S. paid an average federal tax rate of about 11 percent on their profits last year, roughly half the official rate set by the tax law and half the rate that they averaged between 2008 and 2015. In 2018, corporations averaged 11.3 percent in taxes, the lowest level in over 30 years, while the deficit hit $984 billion, unusual in a supposedly strong economy. There is no evidence of the GOP claim of lower taxes’ cut causing economic growth and boosting business investment. The unemployment rate has stayed low in some areas, but higher wages are largely caused by blue states increasing the minimum wage rate.

In the Fortune 500, 91 corporations earning $101 billion paid no federal taxes last year. Amazon paid no taxes on $10.8 billion in profits and got a $129 million rebate. Firing 800 people, Activision Blizzard made $447 million and received a tax rebate of $243 million, giving them a -54.4 percent.

Overturning the Affordable Care Act would give the wealthy and pharmaceutical companies a huge tax break. The top 1,400 highest-earning taxpayers would receive $3.8 billion, and pharmaceutical companies would pay $2.8 billion less in taxes. People on Medicare would pay more for prescription drugs, and U.S. drug costs are already the highest in the developed world. Twenty million people would lose health insurance, and the poverty rate would increase. Causing a crack in the ACA, a state judge overturned the individual mandate in the ACA despite a Supreme Court ruling that accepted it.

DDT plans to reduce aid to the 39.7 million people in the United States living in poverty by allowing sports stadiums and arenas to use opportunities designed to meet the needs of middle- and low-income people. The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act requires financial institutions to meet the credit needs of all communities where they do business so that they can’t refuse to serve people based on income level and demographics rather than credit worthiness. Under DDT’s plan, investors can delay taxes or reduce tax payments on their capital gains while building stadiums that displace people of color. 

Eating pork may be dangerous under DDT’s new rules, according to Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors Jill Mauer and Anthony Vallone, who filed whistleblower disclosure forms. A pilot program for over 92 percent of U.S. pork plants will provide fewer inspectors who must stand at a distance while untrained plants’ employees check carcasses and still try to maintain line speeds. Defects can include feces, sex organs, toenails, bladders, and unwanted hair—think Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Beef processing may suffer from the same MO.  

The U.S. Forest Service is permitting Canada’s Midas Gold to write the environmental report necessary to obtain approval for mining in Idaho after a “collaborative” meeting that included Midas. In that way, Midas can avoid habitat restoration work to protect the surrounding area.

In a software failure, Boeing’s Starliner, intended to fly NASA astronauts to space, didn’t get to the right orbit. A few days earlier, Boeing announced it was stopping the production of the 737 Max that killed 346 people in two crashes and demonstrated multiple other problems. The planes have been grounded since March 11, pending approval for planes being built. Almost 400 737 Max jets at the Renton (WA) facility are costing the company about $4.4 billion every three months for production, storage, and maintenance. Although Boeing may not have any work stoppage, hundreds of other U.S. manufacturers in its supply chain may be forced to lay off workers. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that Boeing’s problems had taken 0.4 percent off the GDP for the year.

For years, the FAA allowed Boeing to perform its own inspections. High level Boeing officials knew about the planes’ problems and lied to the FAA. Earlier this month, the FAA fined Boeing $3.9 million for “knowingly submitted aircraft” to the agency for safety certification even after learning that crucial wing components “could not be used due to a failed strength test.”

State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo not only fired Bill Taylor, acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, but also told him to get out of the country early because he didn’t want to be photographed with the highly respected career diplomat. Pompeo urged Taylor to take the job, and Taylor then testified to the House Intelligence Committee about DDT’s attempts to extort Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Taylor believes his obligation is to the country, not DDT, and Pompeo wants to be the senator from Kansas.

Another of DDT’s circle of associates is now heading for prison, but Rick Gates, associate of DDT’s campaign manager Paul Manafort, gets only 45 days after evading taxes and concealing millions of dollars representing pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine after Gates’ cooperation. Manafort, DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and DDT’s first national security adviser are in the slammer. George Papadopoulos, DDT’s former campaign adviser on foreign policy, and Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who worked with Manafort and Gates, have finished their prison sentences. Roger Stone, longtime DDT adviser and confidant, awaits sentencing. DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani faces a criminal investigation. Others connected to DDT include Richard Pinedo, who has a prison sentence for fraudulently trying to hurt Clinton’s campaign; Sam Patten and Maria Butina, who were charged with being unregistered foreign agents; and those on this long list of indicted Russian individuals and entities. 

New Jersey’s Rep. Jeff Van Drew switched from Republican to Democrat and swore “undying support” to DDT—until someone asked him about it. He said he didn’t say “undying.” Republicans don’t want him.

December 5, 2019

DDT’s Disasters: Impeachment Inquiry, NATO

This week’s news has largely focused on the impeachment inquiry and the NATO conference in London, both of them crazy. Corrupt GOP Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz wants to impeach President Obama—who left the office almost three years ago—for wiretapping Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) which didn’t happen. DDT pretends he’s in charge of the impeachment and tweeted, “Do it now, fast …. We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify.”

When the House Judiciary Committee entered the impeachment inquiry yesterday, three of the constitutional experts were selected by Democrats, and Republicans picked the fourth, Jonathan Turley who had already written op-eds opposing the impeachment. His weak arguments against impeachment included Democrats are acting only out of anger and moving too fast. Turley testified for Bill Clinton’s impeachment because he was a “perjurer” but now finds insufficient evidence despite DDT’s refusal to allow executive employees to comply with subpoenas, threats to deny congressionally approved funding for Ukraine without an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden, lying under oath, attacks and intimidation on impeachment inquiry witnesses, cover-ups of the scheme, setting himself up above the law, etc.

Republicans piled on by supporting Russian propaganda, claiming insufficient information, listing faults of other presidents, and crying “unfair” as well as the argument that Democrats shouldn’t polarize the country with impeachment. Outside the hearing, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) said DDT is just using “the blunt talk of a Manhattan businessman” instead of “smarmy talk of politicians.” Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) said withholding the aid for corruption in exchange for investigating a major political opponent was just a coincidence. He added that changing the term quid pro quo to bribery proves that there are no grounds for an impeachment inquiry. DDT’s latest defense is that the term “do us a favor though” is actually “doing U.S. a favor though.” That one took 130 days to think up. The GOP defenses for DDT are remarkably similar to those for Richard Nixon almost 50 years ago as shown in this Art Buchwald column during Nixon’s impeachment.  [visual Art]

In 2010, Turley defended the most recent person impeached in the U.S., Louisiana federal district court Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr, who was charged with taking a vast sum of gifts while he was a state court judge and lied under oath to the Senate and FBI to be confirmed. Although Turley didn’t disagree that Porteous had taken money and other gifts, he defended his client with claims that Porteous didn’t break any laws, although he may have been guilty of bad judgment; he didn’t act unethically; and his actions were business as usual in New Orleans. Turley described Porteous’ decades-long egregious behavior as mostly personal failings that failed to meet the “high crimes and misdemeanor” standard for impeachment. A super majority of Senators found Porteous guilty of all four counts, one of them with a vote of 96-0. This is the constitutional expert who Republicans hired to present their defense of DDT and who opposes “perjurers.”  

Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) asked House committee chairs to draft articles of impeachment.  

Angered by the House hearings, DDT had a rocky time in London from NATO colleagues. Intending to look like a statesman, he either argued or suffered ridicule. He schmoozed with reporters for over two hours on the first day but escaped more mocking by unexpectedly canceling a press conference on the second day of the 70th anniversary meeting of 29 countries to immediately leave for the U.S. The night before, a secret mike at the Buckingham Palace reception caught Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gossiping with French President Emmanuel Macron, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. DDT first called Trudeau “two-faced” and then referred to himself as “funny.”

Macron had called out Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for threatening to oppose NATO’s defense plan for Baltic countries if NATO refuses to classify as terrorists anyone Turkey wishes. Then he criticized the lack of U.S. leadership because DDT pulled troops out of northern Syria without warning NATO allies, allowing Turkey to send troops against the Kurds. DDT called Macron’s comments “nasty” and met with Erdogan at NATO, perhaps the only NATO leader who wasn’t upset with him. Up for election on December 12, Johnson avoided photographs with DDT.

NATO leaders have agreed to “a forwarding-looking reflection process … to further strengthen NATO’s political dimension including consultation.” The next meeting is scheduled for 2021 to avoid DDT’s fourth year in office.

While DDT was in London, North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui called him a dotard, a “an old person, especially one who has become physically weak or whose mental faculties have declined,” in his dotage, “the period of life in which a person is old and weak.” DDT had earlier said the U.S. would use force against North Korea if necessary and called President Kim Jong-Un “Rocket Man”–again. Despite DDT saying that North Korea was no problem for the U.S., the hostile country has regularly launched missiles while DDT called off military exercises. Kim’s latest threat is an unwelcome “Christmas gift” for the U.S.

Rudy Giuliani is back in Ukraine this week, meeting with discredited prosecutors Yuri Lutsenko, Viktor Shokin and Kostiantyn Kulyk and still looking for damaging information connected to his conspiracy theories. He’s also working on his documentary series highlighting the same falsehoods. Investigations into Giuliani’s affairs show that a major source of his income may result from selling access to DDT and the DOJ. For example, Giuliani charged Lutsenko $200,000 for a meeting with AG Bill Barr. DDT’s officials indicated irritation and frustration about the trouble that Giuliani may be causing during the impeachment inquiry.

As Giuliani digs deeper and deeper in trouble, DDT distances himself from his private lawyer. DDT told Bill O’Reilly that he “didn’t direct [Giuliani] to go” to Ukraine on his behalf, that he was just one of Giuliani’s clients, in direct contradiction to DDT’s own transcript of the July 25 phone call to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. A few days before that claim, Giuliani declared to Fox that DDT would never “throw me under the bus” but that he has “insurance.”

DDT’s aides dispute the report of Giuliani’s many calls to the White House and the Office of Management and Budget during the freeze on funds to Ukraine. They did not dispute, however, the close contact with DDT while he ran DDT’s shadow Ukraine policy pushing Ukraine’s president to announce investigations that personally benefit DDT politically. And they are refusing to comply with subpoenas to clarify who Giuliani called. Two days ago, Giuliani said that he had nothing to do with withholding aid from Ukraine and talked to the OMB about other subjects. The next day he said he didn’t talk to anyone in OMB. Russian can most likely provide the text of any phone calls to the White House.

Like Giuliani, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may disappear from DDT’s circle. In London, he visited with GOP donors, possibly raising funds for a Senate run in Kansas this coming year. Pompeo is still pushing Russian propaganda that Ukraine interfered in the U.S. election after swearing as CIA director that Russia was totally responsible for the inference.

Republicans like Sen. John Neeley Kennedy (R-LA) still behave like Russian assets by spreading Russian propaganda. Kennedy sees the false claim about Ukraine interfering with the U.S. election as “fact” and Ukrainian expert Fiona Hill’s testimony refuting this conspiracy theory as “opinion.” Senators were briefed on Russian involvement as opposed to the false Ukrainian theory, but Kennedy didn’t attend the briefing. The GOP-run Senate Intelligence Committee found no evidence that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.

Fox’s Tucker Carlson has joined the Russian assets in the United States when he said:

“Why do I care what is going on in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia? I’m serious. Why shouldn’t I root for Russia? Which by the way I am.”

Members of DDT’s base proudly wear shirts stating, “I’d rather be Russian than Democrat.” Their position about DDT? All businessmen cheat. So what? 

Get some rest this weekend. The impeachment inquiry continues on Monday with Democratic and Republican counsels to the House Intelligence and House Judiciary committees. It begins just hours before the DOJ release of the internal review of the 2016 Russian investigation origins, predicted to be a bust for AG Bill Barr who wants evidence for his personal conspiracy theories.

November 25, 2019

More Impeachment News

Although the impeachment inquiry may be moving onto writing articles of impeachment, the bad news for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues to pour out.

Lev Parnas, associate of DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani, has given the House Intelligence Committee audio and video recordings and photographs. Giuliani used Parnas to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Parnas said he acted as translator as part of a “team” regularly meeting in Washington’s Trump International Hotel about spreading conspiracy theories among key Ukrainians. Team members included Giuliani, journalist John Solomon who spread the conspiracy theories through such media as The Hill, and married attorneys Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing who appeared on Fox for the same purpose.

Joseph Bondy, Parnas’ lawyer, said that his client worked for over a year with Giuliani to find damaging information about the Bidens while DDT and GOP members of Congress pushed false information that Joe Biden intervened in a Ukrainian criminal investigation and Ukraine meddled to the 2016 election to help Hillary Clinton. After the 2018 election, while Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) was still chair of the Intelligence Committee but before the Democrats took over the House, he visited former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin in Vienna who promoted the conspiracy theories. Because they would have to tell House Intelligence Adam Schiff (D-CA), Nunes’ aides called off this year’s trip to Ukraine where he planned to interview two former Ukrainian prosecutors about evidence helping DDT’s reelection campaign. Instead, Parnas set up the meetings with the two men over phone and on Skype.

Nunes is the first congressional member thus far who is directly implicated in the Ukrainian scandal. He first denied any meetings and then said he didn’t want to talk about the situation. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), chair of the Armed Services Committee, said that Nunes may face an ethics investigation about the possibility of this meeting. Nunes says that he will file a lawsuit against CNN and The Daily Beast for their articles about his alleged meeting. Mark Sumner has a timeline of Nunes’ sycophantic behavior since DDT’s inauguration.

Western leaders, including then-VP Joe Biden, ousted Shokin in 2016 because Shokin wouldn’t pursue corruption cases. No evidence exists that the Bidens acted inappropriately or that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.

Almost a year ago at DDT’s Hanukkah party in the White House, DDT met with Giuliani and associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman and asked them to undertake “a secret mission” to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Parnas and DDT have had at least eight meetings since 2014, including photo-ops and attendance at high-dollar fundraisers.

Giuliani’s recent subpoenas list allegations of money laundering as well as obstruction of justice, conspiracy to defraud the United States, making false statements to the federal government, serving as an agent of a foreign government without registering with the Justice Department, donating funds from foreign nationals, making contributions in the name of another person, allowing someone else to use one’s name to make a contribution, mail fraud, and wire fraud. His involvement with Kremlin-connected Russian oligarchs, Dmitry Firtash and Ihor Kolomoisky, led to DDT’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, perhaps the catalyst for DDT’s impeachment inquiry. Energy tycoon Firtash offered to find dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for fighting extradition to the U.S. on bribery and racketeering. The convoluted relationships among people involved in promoting conspiracy theories is available here. Executives of the Ukrainian state-run gas company are cooperating with Giuliani’s criminal investigation.

Anticipating DDT trying to save himself by rejecting his private lawyer, Giuliani plans to protect himself. For the second time, Giuliani has bragged about having “insurance”:

“I’ve heard things written like he’s going to throw me under the bus. When they say that, I say he isn’t, but I have insurance.”

Giuliani tried to cover up his statement by claiming humor or another type of evidence against the Bidens, but his statement sounds like a threat.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may also be in trouble after newly released documents implicate him in connection with Giuliani regarding the Ukrainian bribery scam. Almost 100 pages show repeated contacts between Giuliani and Pompeo starting last spring. A lawsuit forced the release of the records showing that Pompeo had at least two phone calls with Giuliani in March during the time that DDT’s private lawyer was trying to oust Yovanovitch. The next month, Pompeo ordered her removal. According to the documents, the State Department sent congressional members a deliberately misleading reply about her departure that “reveals a clear paper trail from Rudy Giuliani to the Oval Office to Secretary Pompeo to facilitate Giuliani’s smear campaign against a U.S. ambassador,” according to Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. Earlier, EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified, “Everyone was in the loop.”

A federal judge has ordered the Pentagon and White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to release records about DDT’s withholding military aid to Ukraine. The 211 pages include communications between the Pentagon, its comptroller, and OMB. The first half are due by December 12, and the second by December 20.

When DDT became confused about who he should fire on the reality show The Apprentice, producers would engage in “retroactive narrative construction” to justify DDT’s statements. Now his staffers and agency officials face the same dilemma for his actions caused by his alternative realities, recently freezing the military aid to Ukraine with no legal rationale. Hundreds of documents show a frantic search for after-the-fact justification about the legality of the funds’ freeze. 

In Fox, Ken Starr, chief investigator of President Clinton for his impeachment, said:

“We now know that the president in fact committed the crime of bribery…I think articles of impeachment are being drawn up if they haven’t already been drawn up…. I think we’ve known that, it was just confirmed today [on Wednesday].”

Starr also said he wondered if senators would ask DDT to resign “in light of what we’ve heard today” from Sondland.

DDT’s biggest problem with Ukraine is the election of Volodymyr Zelensky for president last spring. The losing candidate, incumbent Petro Poroshenko, had agreed to drop investigations into DDT’s former campaign manager in exchange for anti-tank missiles, the Javelins, from the U.S. Before the Ukrainian election and accompanied by associates Parnas and Igor Fruman, Giuliani met with key Poroshenko official, prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko, at least twice. Poroshenko agreed to announcing investigations into the Bidens and Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election for electoral help with a state visit to the U.S. John Solomon started writing articles with false information from Lutsenko in March with these claims and a smear campaign against Marie Yovanovitch, then-ambassador to Ukraine.

Poroshenko lost in a landslide on April 21, and DDT had to find an alternative route for his goals. DDT attacked Zelensky because he thought the new president might really oppose corruption instead of pretending to do so in an effort to please DDT. Without corruption by Poroshenko and Lutsenko, DDT needed a new game plan.

DDT’s latest strategy has been to bribe his jurors, an illegal practice in courts throughout the United States. He started out by transferring money from his campaign to those of four vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection. Then top White House officials secretly met with GOP senators to strategize the limiting of the impeachment trial, comparable to juries meeting accused criminals in their trials. They may have agreed to two weeks, long enough to look honest but short enough to not damage DDT. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already promised that DDT would be acquitted. Jury tampering also includes free lunches, specifically with Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) who have sometimes been critical about DDT’s actions. Romney went so far as to describe DDT’s asking foreign countries to investigate Joe Biden as “wrong and appalling.”

Upping the ante, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and other officials hosted over 40 GOP House members for overnight stays at the presidential retreat Camp David before any impeachment vote—at taxpayers’ cost. DDT doesn’t like the rustic setting so he avoided the hiking, bowling, skeet shooting, campfires, and friendly talk, but he called in during the dinners to compliment them. The representatives were impressed. DDT has met with or reached out to over half the GOP House members since the launch of the impeachment inquiry and given 50 of the 53 senators lunch with him.

With the goal of discouraging people who think that DDT should be impeached, Republicans are quoting new polls indicating that the majority doesn’t support his impeachment. Fivethirtyeight.com, which has conservative results, posted that 56.8 percent think that DDT committed an impeachable offense. Even more, 77.3 percent think that DDT asked Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, and 63.5 percent think that the action is inappropriate. Almost 60 percent believe that DDT tried to cover up his actions with Ukraine.

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