Nel's New Day

February 15, 2020

DDT: Week 160 – What Corruption Looks Like

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is taking advantage of his removal from constitutional mandates with his usual MO—first deny he did something before saying he did it. DDT now says that he sent his private lawyer Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to look for damaging information on political opponent Joe Biden after earlier claiming that he didn’t do it. DDT’s legal team even lied for him under oath during the impeachment trial in the Senate. Thus far, Giuliani hasn’t found any “dirt,” but he’s still trying. AG Bill Barr has announced that the DOJ is taking any information from Giuliani while a U.S. attorney in New York is investigating Giuliani’s alleged illegal and corrupt activities in Ukraine, including driving out the U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

DDT is also playing his Ukraine games with states, extorting them to do what he wants. His Wednesday tweet about meeting with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, threatened that the state:

“I’m seeing Governor Cuomo today at The White House. He must understand that National Security far exceeds politics. New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harassment, start cleaning itself up, and lowering taxes. Build relationships, but don’t bring Fredo [DDT’s nickname for the governor’s brother Chris Cuomo, a CNN news host]!”

DDT is now behaving as the Democratic prosecution for the impeachment trial predicted if he were acquitted.

As DOJ prosecutors won’t protect DDT allies from their crimes, AG Bill Barr uses outside prosecutors in attempts to exonerate Michael Flynn and other politically sensitive national-security cases (aka whatever DDT wants). For two weeks—since Barr hired his friend Tim Shea to replace an honest prosecutor—these outside prosecutors are interrogating DOJ prosecutors about investigative steps, prosecutorial actions, and their reasons in both public and not-public cases, about either DDT’s friends and allies or DDT’s critics and adversaries. Barr said that DDT’s tweets made it impossible for him to do his job; it’s obvious that DDT’s bragging is blocking Barr for swinging court decisions for DDT’s side.

Claiming to have “integrity,” Barr lost some credibility after former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was told that he won’t face criminal charges hanging over his head for 18 months because the DOJ couldn’t find any evidence against him. Barr’s problem is not so much that the case was dropped but that the federal judge’s statements were made public. He called McCabe’s case a “banana republic” prosecution. The judge explained:

“I don’t think people like the fact that you got somebody at the top basically trying to dictate whether somebody should be prosecuted ….  I think there are a lot of people on the outside who perceive that there is undue inappropriate pressure being brought to bear. It’s very disturbing that we’re in the mess that we’re in in that regard. Because I think having been a part of the prosecution for a long time and respecting the role that prosecutors play in the system. I just think the integrity of the process is being unduly undermined by inappropriate comments and actions on the part of people at the top of our government. I think it’s very unfortunate. And I think as a government and as a society, we’re going to pay a price at some point for this.”

Last August, McCabe sued the DOJ for being fired because of “Trump’s unconstitutional plan and scheme to discredit and remove DOJ and FBI employees who were deemed to be his partisan opponents because they were not politically loyal to him.”

The Army isn’t in DDT’s pocket—yet. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy announced that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman would not be “investigated.” He could, however, be denied a promotion. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Vindman’s former employer at the NSC, said that the Purple-Heart winner was marched out of the White House because DDT is “entitled to a staff that he has confidence in and that he believes will execute his policy.”

O’Brien claimed that the removal of the Vindman brothers wasn’t retaliation, but DDT called Alexander Vindman a “never-Trumper” and “very insubordinate” for legally responding to a congressional subpoena. He also said that Vindman “reported a false call” without any explanation and that Vindman had been sent “to a much different location” where “the military can handle him any way they want.”

DDT’s former chief of staff John Kelly may be on the chopping block after Kelly defended Vindman’s testimony about DDT’s phone call with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky, criticized DDT’s pardoning Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher for his war crimes, and supported immigrants wanting to come to the U.S. Kelly also had a few choice words about the Fox network, DDT’s almost exclusive source of information:

“If you only watch Fox News because it’s reinforcing what you believe, you are not an informed citizen.”

In another form of retaliation, DDT is sending 100 CBP members, mostly from the SWAT-like Border Patrol Tactical Unit, to nine “sanctuary” cities during the next five months to search out undocumented immigrants instead the troops doing their job, finding drug traffickers on the southern border. These troops have training in sniper certification and advanced weapons. The targeted cities have no greater rates of violent crime, rape, and property crime, but militarization will make them more dangerous. In another study, the almost 2,500 counties that follow federal law but don’t detain unauthorized immigrants for ICE have lower crime rates than the other ones, an average of 35.5 fewer crimes per 10,000, because of better crime reporting and cooperation with law enforcement.

DDT’s cruel “public charge” order has returned, forcing legal immigrants who use public benefits or 12 months within a 36-month period from their paths to citizenship and out of the United States. A judge had declared an injunction against the order until it was heard on appeal because it had no rational basis and “has never been the rule.” The judge wrote that “the rule is simply a new agency policy of exclusion in search of a justification. It is repugnant to the American dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upward mobility.” DDT’s order would immediately cause “significant hardship” to “hundreds of thousands of individuals who were previously eligible for admission and permanent residence in the United States.” The 2nd Circuit Court put the appeal on a fast tract, but that wasn’t good enough for our “cruelty-in-chief” leader. He went to his conservative lackeys on the Supreme Court who lifted the injunction until the case might appealed to a future Supreme Court, an indeterminate time in the future. 

Reagan-appointee Judge David Sentelle, considered one of the most conservative judges in the nation and protégé of Sen. Jesse Helm (R-NC), agreed with two other judges on a panel that DDT’s stripping health coverage from Arkansas’ Medicaid beneficiaries is illegal. The ruling was against Arkansas’ new work requirement that lost Medicaid coverage for over 18,000 people in five months and changed congressional objectives for Medicaid. According to the ruling, the law does not allow DDT to use their own opinions on how to improve the health of low-income people, the excuse used for the work requirement. Sentelle wrote that “the principal objective of Medicaid is providing health care coverage,” not to make people find jobs. The unanimous ruling from the D.C. Circuit Court affirms a lower court decision, in which a judge found HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s approval of Arkansas’ work requirements “arbitrary and capricious.” The case may go to the Supreme Court; SCOTUS Justice Neil Gorsuch clerked for Sentelle and considered him a mentor. 

During a Senate hearing, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell rejected an idea suggested by Sen. John N. Kennedy (R-LA) that “the richness of our social programs” makes people less inclined to look for work because they can get a government check for not working. Agreeing with most economists, DDT’s GOP appointee testified that the ability of getting benefits has “actually declined, during this period of declining labor force participation” with mandates of having jobs to receive them since the 1990s. According to Powell, the “declining labor force participation” in the U.S., compared to other industrialized nations, come from lower levels of educational attainment. Powell also warned that $1 trillion budget deficits, as recommended by DDT’s newest budget, are unsustainable.   

In another lie at DDT’s SOTU speech, Tony Rankins didn’t see his life as a homeless, drug-addicted Army veteran turned around because of DDT’s “Opportunity Zone” tax breaks supposedly targeting poor neighborhoods. Rankins did get a job, but he started four months before the publication of the list in a site that wasn’t included. DDT also praised Rankins’ employer, R Investments, but the company has only a storage warehouse in one of the zones. No employees. The “Opportunity Zone” program was supposedly to help struggling neighborhoods, but the ones with the tax breaks had already moved toward gentrification and away from support for poor, black communities.

DDT also used his SOTU speech to demonstrate that the CIA, as well as the DOJ works for him. Director Gina Haspel, who had no reason to attend the speech, especially in a seat of honor, and certainly no right to stand, clapping, when DDT called on Congress to sue sanctuary cities for offenses committed by undocumented immigrants. A former CIA officer pointed out that Joint Chiefs don’t applaud. The Supreme Court justices don’t applaud. The CIA director shouldn’t, either.”

But DDT is the new normal—the time of corruption.

January 17, 2020

DDT: Week 156 – ‘Trump Knew … What Was Going On’

Another busy, frustrating week for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), that Kerry Eleveld called a “five-alarm fire” for the White House.

  1. The Government Accountability Office reported that DDT’s administration broke the law freezing congressionally-allocated funding for Ukraine.
  2. Rachel Maddow’s interview with Lev Parnas, associate of DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, revealed the unethical and possibly illegal machinations of DDT, his administrations, and his shadow associates in Ukraine.
  3. Ukraine started a criminal investigation into DDT’s allies.
  4. Seven House “managers” took two articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial.
  5. GOP senators who vociferously claimed to exonerate DDT swore under oath to “do impartial justice.” Many of the 22 GOP senators up for re-election this year, including appointed Martha McSally from Arizona, search for exists from their dilemma such as lying, avoid facts, and smearing the media.

1. On the same morning that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swore in all the senators for DDT’s impeachment trial—senators who may have lied under oath when they swore they would “do impartial justice,”—the non-partisan federal GAO ruled that DDT violated the law in withholding aid designated for Ukraine. The Impoundment Control Act mandates that the Executive Branch cannot make funding changes without asking Congress to reconsider its allocations. Congressional members weren’t even notified of DDT’s decision.

The OMB claimed the freeze was “to determine the best use of such funds” and “necessary to ensure that the funds were not spent ‘in a manner that could conflict with the president’s foreign policy.'” The GAO called that reasoning “impermissible” because the president cannot “substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law.” The OMB’s claim of the hold being a “programmatic delay” has “no basis in law,” according to the GAO decision.

2. MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow show devoted almost two hours to Maddow’s interview with Parnas as he explained how DDT, Giuliani, and AG Bill Barr directed the extortion of Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelensky to force him into an announcement of an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter for DDT’s political benefit. Parnas has enough texts, documents, and notes to make many of his statements ring true, especially when members of the State Department, such as Gordon Sonderland, made the same testimony. Parnas said:

“President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all of my movements. I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani [DDT’s personal secretary] or the president.”

Like DDT’s comments about other people who give damaging information about him, he kept declaring that he doesn’t know Parnas—nine times in two minutes. Multiple photographs of Parnas and DDT together have long been on the internet, and a video of them has also surfaced. Parnas’ phone records also have contacts with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who played a key part in defending DDT on the House Intelligence Committee during the impeachment inquiry. A month ago, Nunes couldn’t “recall” Parnas’ name but regained his memory this week although he claimed they were “talking about random things.” [Newly-released documents show extensive contact between Parnas and a Nunes aide to obtain damaging material from Ukrainian prosecutors about Joe Biden.] Despite photographs to the contrary, DDT’s White House aide Kellyanne Conway suffers from the same amnesia as does House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Parnas also gave information about VP Mike Pence’s involvement in the Ukrainian scheme, for example, when Pence went to Poland on DDT’s behalf to meet with Zelensky.

Knowing about Parnas’ actions, Barr refused to release Parnas’ documents for three months to the House for its impeachment inquiry. Parnas told Maddow that the DOJ would make corruption charges against Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash disappear if he would provide damaging information against Joe Biden and that Barr knew about the potential deal. Firtash gave Parnas $1 million, and Parnas retained Giuliani’s firm while working for Giuliani to give attorney-client confidentiality to DDT because Giuliani represented both him and Parnas. Barr ultimately did not intervene in Firtash’s case but met with his lawyers Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova. The DOJ refused to answer questions from Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) about why Firtash has not been extradited.

Parnas told Maddow that he is being open about the events to protect himself from Barr. He said:

“[Officials in the Justice Department are] trying to scare me into not talking. My wife is scared. My kids are nervous.”

After claiming that she was putting together a “small” group of senators to vote for witnesses in the impeachment trial, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) accused the House of doing “an incomplete job” by not addressing evidence from Parnas until after the impeachment articles were released. Information that Barr was suppressing. Since her vote for the tax cuts for the wealthy and Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, Collins, up for re-election this year, has gone from the most popular GOP senator at 82 percent to the least popular at 42 percent, even below that of the generally-hated Mitch McConnell. Collins walks a very fine line between pleasing DDT to get money from him for her campaign and getting votes from dissatisfied constituents.

3. According to texts from Robert Hyde on Parnas’ phone, the DDT donor was tracking former U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch last March.  A few of his statements:

“They know she’s a political puppet. They will let me know when she’s on the move… They are willing to help if you/we would like a price.”

“Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money… what I was told.”

These statements fit with DDT’s comments to Zelensky in the July 25 telephone call about Yovanovitch:

“Well, she’s going to go through some things.”

Robert Hyde is a member of conspiracy-theory ridden QAnon, designated by the FBI as a possible domestic terrorism threat.

Yovanovitch’s anti-corruption work threatened pro-Russians working with Parnas, Giuliani, and others. The U.S. ambassador escaped Ukraine last spring after she was notified by a superior during an important ceremony to “get on the next plane to the U.S.” She immediately left the country. After this information became public, Pompeo cancelled a classified congressional briefing about embassy security, a mandatory monthly event.

Ukraine’s national police has asked the FBI for assistance in its new investigation regarding these illegal activities.  According to Ukrainian authorities, an ambassador possibly being “under illegal surveillance and her electronic gadgets … interfered [with] by the private persons at the request of the US citizen” can be a violation of both Ukrainian laws and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which protects diplomats on foreign soil.

4. The seven managers from the House to prosecute DDT in the impeachment trial in the Senate delivered two articles of impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi selected these prosecutors with an emphasis on litigators, comfortable in the courtroom. Six are lawyers; the seventh, Val Deming, served as the first female chief of the Orlando (FL) Police Department. Leaders are Committee Intelligence Chair Adam B. Schiff (D-CA) and Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Pelosi also achieved diversity in her selection: three of the seven (Deming, Garcia, and California’s Zoe Lofgren) are women; Demings and Hakeem Jeffries (NY) are black; and Sylvia Garcia (TX) is Latina. Jason Crow (CO) and Garcia not only provide geographic diversity but also represent the freshmen House class.  

5. The GOP senators have presented two defenses for DDT: what he did wasn’t illegal and so what–known as the “what about it” response. 

DDT first wanted a big show for the trial but now wants the trial dismissed. GOP senators rejected the idea. McConnell first claimed he had enough votes to keep any witnesses or documents from the trial, but a few GOP senators consider joining Democrats to vote for a real trial with witnesses instead of a sham. McConnell plans keep the trial from media reporting and block the trial from being filmed although the House hearings were available for public viewing. He also wants to block media access to senators as they come and go from the chamber and deny access to reporters to and in the elevators.

The “imminent” trial is unhinging DDT. He kept a student audience waiting for an hour to hear about prayer so that he could watch senators sign their oath. After reporters’ questions, he whined and exaggerated his trade deals and furiously talked about the impeaching being a “hoax,” over and over again. Then he shouted in a tweet, “I JUST GOT IMPEACHED FOR MAKING A PERFECT PHONE CALL!” Following that, he begged retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to vote against witnesses in the trial. His meeting with aides also focused on impeachment. During his ceremony for national champion LSU football team, DDT devolved into swearing about an attempt to impeach him. (He’s already impeached.) Why is he so afraid if he’s done nothing wrong?

The Senate convenes for opening arguments in DDT’s impeachment trial at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.

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