Nel's New Day

June 1, 2019

DDT: Week 123 – U.S. Continues to Sink

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:39 PM
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A major shock of the week came from the attack of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) on another ally, this time with his declaration of tariffs—taxes on U.S. people—of 5 percent on all goods from Mexico starting June 10. He has promised an increase of 5 percent each week up to 25 percent on $347 billion of goods until Mexico slows the movement of asylum seekers crossing the southern border. Even some Republicans object to his latest strike, and stock prices plummeted after the news after steadily dropping in the past month. DDT’s move may also tank his proposed trade treaty with Canada and Mexico. Three months ago, DDT added tariffs to $200 billion of goods from China, beginning his plan to tax almost every Chinese import into the U.S., and he’s threatening tariffs on billions of dollars of products from India. DDT’s whiplash shifts in tariffs could scuttle changes for trade deals with other nations because they won’t trust him to honor any agreements. Singapore and Hong Kong are now ahead of the U.S. as the world’s most competitive economy as DDT pursues his trade war with China.

In other major news this week, Robert Mueller, leaving the DOJ, said that DDT wasn’t charged with a crime because the DOJ did not permit doing this to a sitting—at least Republican—president. Mueller added that he did not exonerate DDT.  Mueller addressed the seriousness of obstruction of justice and told people to be highly concerned about the way that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

“They used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign. They stole private information, and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization WikiLeaks. The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate…. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American.”

To summarize Mueller’s statements:

  • Russia attacked our elections;
  • Obstruction of justice is a serious crime;
  • DDT hasn’t been cleared;
  • DDT wasn’t indicted because he can’t be indicted while in office.

Conservative David Frum wrote that Mueller’s report states that “the social media campaign and the GRU hacking operations coincided with a series of contacts between Trump Campaign officials and individuals with ties to the Russian government.” Frum added that those contacts “were covered up by a series of lies, both to the special counsel and to Congress. Lying by the Trump campaign successfully obscured much of what happened in 2016.” Quoting Mueller’s report in an interview, Frum declared that DDT was “brazen” about doing everything he could to undermine the special counsel’s investigation—just as DDT is doing now to discredit the report. From Mueller’s report:

“The President engaged in a second phase of conduct, involving public attacks on the investigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation. Many of the President’s acts directed at witnesses, including discouragement of cooperation with the government and suggestions of possible future pardons, occurred in public view.”

DDT’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders continues to claim that DDT “has been fully and completely exonerated,” and DDT himself claimed that Russia had not interfered after he said it did. “I had nothing to do with Russia getting me elected,” DDT said before he declared nobody but “me” helped him get elected. Then he ranted about the courts’ not allowing him to be impeached although impeachment is completely the purview of Congress and not the judicial system. DDT accused Mueller of not like him and falsely bragged about his great powers granted in Article II of the U.S. Constitution.  

AG Bill Barr, DDT’s current fixer, reversed his earlier position that the Mueller didn’t disagree with Barr’s early translation of the investigation and blatantly said that Mueller was wrong in his analysis after Mueller’s press conference. Despite the DOJ order not to blame DDT for obstruction, Barr said he decided to make a decision that DDT was not guilty because he “didn’t agree with the legal analysis.”

DDT stays buddies with North Korea’s president Kim Jong-Un despite Kim’s executions of officials who negotiated with the U.S. for denuclearization. Purged are Kim Hyok Chol with four other foreign ministry officials for “poorly reporting” after spearheading talks with U.S. nuclear envoy Stephen Biegun. While DDT damned Mueller, he praised Kim for being a “funny guy” who “loves his people.”

Russia, another beloved country of DDT, is likely conducting low-yield nuclear tests in violation of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, according to director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley. Tests can help Russia design new weapons. DDT is opposed to arms-control treaties, and New START, a bilateral U.S.-Russia treaty to cut strategic nuclear weapons arsenals in half expires in 2010.

The Supreme Court, scheduled this month to announce whether the 2020 census is permitted to ask all people in the country if they are citizens, has received new inflammatory information about the reason for this question. Hard drives belonging to the deceased Thomas B. Hofeller revealed his study that the question could greatly favor Republicans in gerrymandering maps and deter people of color from being counted. The Constitution mandates counting people for districts, not counting citizens. Materials on Hofeller’s computer show that he was a source for the DOJ’s request that the question be added to the census.

A few stories came back from DDT’s trip to Japan last week—his fascination with sumo wrestling, the fancy meal of cheeseburgers, his declaration that he would put tariffs on Japanese goods, his siding with North Korea over Japan, his support in Kim’s badmouthing former vice-president and senator Joe Biden—but my favorite is his extreme pettiness regarding the USS John S. McCain. It started with the claim that he told officials to hide the name on the ship so that no one could see it while he spoke on the USS Wasp. There were denials that a tarp was placed over the McCain name, a barge was strategically placed to hide the name, that members of its crew were turned away from hearing his speech. Whether he gave orders to hide the name, DDT did say that “someone did that, and they were well-meaning.”

After years of corruption, Transportation Secretary and Senate Leader’s wife, Elaine Chao, is finally facing ethics charges in investments. Two years ago, she kept a financial stake in construction-materials company Vulcan Materials, and her recent sale of shares netted her over $40,000. Her problems follow those of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, former EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt, former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, current Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, former HHS Secretary Tom Price, former regulatory adviser Carl Icahn, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, former CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, among others.

Last week, Lynne Patton, a HUD administrator, wrote that she “honestly” doesn’t care if she breaks federal law, in this case the Hatch Act banning officials from using their “official authority for political purposes” to prevent “federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity.” Kelly Anne Conway echoed Patton’s disregard for the law through her comment about violating law:

“Blah, blah, blah. If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work.”

DDT’s team probably didn’t expect the backlash of the Treasury decision to leave DDT’s beloved racist Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill by pushing 19th-century black activist Harriet Tubman to the back of the bus. A movement is causing people to stamp Tubman’s image over Jackson’s picture on the bill, a totally legal action.

The New York Times has continued its support for DDT that helped him get elected the first time. This time, the newspaper published a “glam shot” of pretty Hope Hicks, who admitted that she sometimes lied for DDT, with a statement that she faces an “existential” question of whether to comply with a legal House subpoena for her to testify. Responses to subpoenas are black and white—either subjects do or don’t. human existence. Responses to subpoenas are black and white—subjects either do or don’t, such as whether to run red lights or shoplift or break other laws. As the Times supports DDT in violating the law by ignoring subpoenas, it told its reporters that they may not appear on The Rachel Maddow Show to discuss their articles. Yet their reporters are welcome as “political analysists” on CNN and MSNBC, specifically on Morning Joe as Joe Scarborough campaigned for DDT. Note that the less biased news source Washington Post now has the inside track to discuss their latest findings.

It’s definite: DDT’s and GOP $1.5 trillion tax cuts didn’t fuel economic growth, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. The 2.9 percent growth in GDP reflected a small—if any—first year effect. Tax cuts didn’t pay for itself, didn’t help U.S. worker’s wages, and didn’t boost domestic capital investment. Corporations used the bulk of their 40-percent tax cut for stock buybacks.

May 5, 2019

DDT: More Week 119 – Make America Worse Unless Courts Help

Even in the “Kentuky Derby [sic],” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) thinks that rules don’t matter. The first declared victor, Maximum Security, was subsequently disqualified because the horse tripped another horse. The runner-up, Country House, was then declared the winner. DDT tweeted that sticking to the rules is unfair “political correctness.” Those who held out hope that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wouldn’t be as bad as feared can follow these ways that he’s destroying the country.

April was the ninth-year anniversary of the biggest ocean oil spill in the U.S. when the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 people and cost $61.6 billion. DDT’s oil lobbyist/Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt plans to erase offshore drilling regulations designed to stop another Deepwater Horizon. The changes will annually save $98 million for the heavily subsidized oil and gas industry because they no longer will need to test blowout preventers for disasters. The word “safe” was also removed from standards in maintaining the level of down-hold pressure in wells to avoid accidents.

The EPA won’t update federal standards about toxic waste from oil and gas wells, including fracking waste. Companies allow the waste into drinking water, spread it on roads as a de-icer, use it to irrigate crops, and spray it into the air to evaporate. The same product from other industries is designated as hazardous waste and subject to highly regulated tracking and disposal rules. At least 55 chemicals released into the air and water are carcinogenic as well as being linked to asthma, low birth weights, and other health problems.

DDT’s new “healthcare” rule allows hospitals, pharmacies, insurance companies, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers to deny patients basic medical care because of personal beliefs. He bragged at the National Day of Prayer event how his new rule can allow anyone to refuse healthcare to anyone else for any reason. Those suffering from his decision include LGBTQ people, women seeking contraception, unmarried couples, and all children of couples who are considered unacceptable by healthcare workers. The rule means that taxpayers are required to pay for institutions and individuals who don’t have to provide any services to them.

Two days ago, DDT said that he was fine with Robert Mueller testifying at congressional hearings if his fixer AG Bill Barr agreed. Barr agreed, and Mueller is tentatively scheduled to appear before a House hearing on May 15. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that the Senate is not interested. Now DDT says that Mueller should not testify. The question might be whether DDT can block Mueller’s testimony if Mueller no longer works for the government.

DDT brags about his economy, but his threat to more than double tariffs to 25 percent may drive the stock market down. Oil prices also dropped 2.83 percent in today’s Asian trading. Trade negotiations with China were scheduled to return on Wednesday, but DDT says that the process is moving “too slowly.” Threats of increased tariffs may cause China to cancel trade talks, and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He may cancel his trip to the U.S.

DDT, members of his family, and his businesses are suing Deutsche Bank and Capital One to keep them from complying with congressional subpoenas. Deutsche Bank is already turning over DDT’s financial documents to New York’s state AG’s office. Among Deutsche documents are DDT’s tax returns.

Without congressional approval, the State Department allowed at least seven foreign governments to rent luxury condominiums in New York’s Trump World Tower in 2017, a potential violation of the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause. The monthly rent of $8,500 was over 2.5 times the median rent in the surrounding neighborhood. A federal judge turned down DDT’s request to dismiss a lawsuit accusing him of violating the constitution’s Emoluments Clause from over 200 congressional members. Also, another recent revelation is that the White House paid Mar-a-Lago $1,000 for DDT staffers’ alcoholic drinks—in addition to many more expenses.

In her acceptance for the conservative Manhattan Institute’s Alexander Hamilton Award, Secretary of State Betsy DeVos announced she would continue her fight for “freedom from government.” Hamilton fought for a strong centralized government control. The Institute might want to reconsider its award’s name.

On the campaign trail, DDT declared himself the “law and order” candidate. In Watertown (NY) a judge gave a man who raped a 14-year-old girl no prison time and ten years probation because he raped only one girl. A Georgia man who kept a teenage girl in a dog cage for over a year and raped her got off with the eight months he spent in a detention center before he was sentenced and ten years probation. Initially the sex between the man and the girl, 15 when she met him on a chat room for people with eating disorders; she was persuaded to live with the man when she turned 16, age of consent in Georgia.

DDT sometimes fails in his anti-immigrant attacks: 

Even non-citizens have the constitutional right to complain about the U.S. government, according to a panel of judges from the 2nd Circuit Court. ICE decided to deport Ravi Ragbir because he criticized their agency.

A federal judge gave DHS six months to identify thousands of children they kidnapped from families at the southern border instead of the two years the government wanted. The deadline is October 25. Emails show that the government cannot match children with their parents because it has no data about children and parents.

A unanimous federal appeals panel upheld California’s misnamed “sanctuary state” law, ruling that the law doesn’t stop enforcement of federal immigration laws or conflict with federal law. California state law requires employers to alert employees before ICE inspections and allows the state AG to inspect immigration facilities.

A federal judge ruled that ICE cannot use an immigration interview as a trap for deportation and ordered a Chinese man to be returned to the U.S. before the flight arrived in China. Wanrong Lin, 31, has lived in the U.S. for 17 years; his wife and three children are U.S. citizens. They own and operate a restaurant in Maryland.

ACLU is suing DDT for the new policy denying bond hearings to asylum seekers proving they face fear in their countries of origin. The new policy deports any arrivals through expedited removal proceedings or indefinitely detail them for years. The suit claims that the new policy denies up to 400,000 people Fifth Amendment due process rights.

Taxpayers are shelling out at least $40 million for two tent cities along the Texas border. Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan calls them “soft-sided facilities.” Visitors to existing “facilities” report that people don’t get showers and live in dirty clothing.

Although cannabis is legal in many states and jurisdictions, green card holders can be banned from citizenship if they are suspected of its use, even for medical purposes.

Last year, DHS used a private intelligence firm, LookingGlass Cyber Solutions, to spy on and track 600 Families Belong Together protests in the U.S., Mexico, and the Netherlands. The data were shared with both DHS and “state-level law enforcement agencies.” The coalition organized over 750 events on June 30, 2018 with over 400,000 participants in all 50 states as well as European and Americas’ countries.

Other lawsuits oppose DDT’s efforts to destroy the United States:

Last month, a judge ruled that Michigan had to redraw its gerrymandered districts; this week a unanimous panel of judges ruled that Ohio’s districts were unconstitutional. That makes federal courts in five states striking down gerrymandered maps while the Supreme Court dithers about the issue. Like Michigan, Ohio must redraw its districts before the 2020 election.

A U.S. district judge has delivered an injunction against the Texas law barring the state from business with companies involved in the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. Bahai Amawi had lost her job as speech pathologist with a local school district because her contractor participated in the boycott. Similar anti-free speech laws have been passed in two dozen other states. Federal judges have also struck down laws in Arizona and Kansas.

Gabby Giffords’ gun-safety group is suing the Federal Election Commission for refusing to act on complaints about the NRA’s illegal coordination of political spending with DDT and other GOP candidates. The lawsuit contends that the NRA hid its illegal expenditure of $35 million for Republicans in three election cycles. Other groups have supplemented a July 2017 complaint against DDT’s 2016 presidential campaign committee for soliciting contributions from foreign nationals after the Mueller report supported their claims. The Mueller report stated that criminally indicting Donald Trump Jr. must meet a high bar, but the FEC has no such bar to level civil penalties against him. The Brennan Center has a new report on ways that the FEC employs a partisan gridlock to stonewall responses to complaints about candidates, parties, and super PACS.

The latest fashion in GOP state legislatures is the anti-abortion “heartbeat” approach, making abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat illegal. Laws would also be unconstitutional because they violate Roe v. Wade which permits abortions up to the viability of a fetus at 24 weeks. The law loses its support when people learn that these laws outlaw abortion before women discover they are pregnant. Twelve percent of those polled changed their minds when they discovered the truth, resulting in a majority of people—56 percent—opposing these laws. Laws use the term “heartbeat” to sound sympathetic although a sound at six weeks doesn’t match how people understand a “heartbeat.” About two-thirds of the public want to retain Roe v. Wade.

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

May 4, 2019

DDT: Week 119 – Master Liar at Work

After publicly telling 5,000 lies in his first 601 days, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) doubled this total to 10,111 in just 226 more days, upping his average of 8 lies a day to almost 23 days in little more than the past seven months. Some days he did better—for example, the 45 lies in a telephone interview with Sean Hannity on April 25 and 24 lies in one speech to the NRA. His best record may have been the 61 false claims in a campaign rally on April 27. DDT’s tweets help his average too: 171 false or misleading claims in three days between April 25 and 27. April was his best month thus far! Twenty-percent of lies are about immigration, thanks to the 160 times he falsely claimed that his border wall is being built. The WaPo “Bottomless Pinnochios” have reached 21 with claims earning Three or Four Pinocchios repeated at least 20 times. More of his lies.

DDT shared lies with Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in their hour-long talk. Despite the Mueller report facts, DDT, who had no visual contact with Putin, proudly pointed out that Putin “smiled” about the “no collusion” between Russia and DDT. He said they would denuclearize North Korea despite North Korea’s continued testing of weapons. DDT also failed to talk to Putin about his interference in the 2016 election, but DDT is satisfied that Putin won’t be a problem in 2020—because Putin said he wouldn’t.

They may have talked for the first time since Russia opposed DDT’s attempted coup to depose Venezuela’s democratically elected president, Nicholas Maduro. DDT said that Putin told him that “he is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela, other than he’d like to see something positive happen for Venezuela.” That statement contradicts DDT’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said that Russia had actually “invaded” Venezuela. Pompeo added that “the Russians have people working over there in the hundreds” and that the Russians persuaded Maduro to stay in Venezuela instead of going to Havana.

Like Putin, DDT, who cares nothing about human rights in other parts of the world including the United States, also lies about human rights as the reason to replace Maduro with U.S. puppet Juan Guaidó. To make his desired regime change, DDT greatly increased sanctions against Venezuela in addition to earlier ones punishing the nation. He also covertly sent weapons to support Guaidó last February. Eric Prince, founder of the Blackwater mercenaries and brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, wants to provide 5,000 mercenaries to Guaidó.

Members of CODEPINK and Popular Resistance are living in the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, D.C. to protect it from a possible invasion and coup by U.S.-backed opposition forces. Expelling people from the embassy would violate the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations that “the premises of the mission shall be inviolable.” U.S. agents cannot enter the embassy without the Maduro government’s permission, and the U.S. has a duty to protect the embassy against, intrusion, damage, and disturbance of the peace. The embassy is “immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.”

Until he talked with Putin, DDT was in complete accord with national security adviser John Bolton to overthrow the existing leadership not only in Venezuela but also in Cuba and Nicaragua. Threats with “a full and complete” embargo” toward Cuba if it fails to “immediately” stop supporting the Maduro government were preceded by DDT’s blocking Nicaragua’s bank loans. U.S. GOP presidents historically intervene in these three countries—Eisenhower in 1960 and Reagan who tried but failed to overthrow Daniel Ortega’s socialist government in Nicaragua. George W. Bush followed with a failed coup against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Bolton wants to eradicate “communism and socialism in this hemisphere,” and DDT sees the half-million voters born in the three countries to be pivotal in Florida for the 2020 election. U.S. corporations want Venezuela’s oil, the biggest reserve in the world.

After his conversation with Putin and Guaidó’s failure to accomplish his coup this week, DDT’s enthusiasm for overturning Maduro seems to have dampened. Gone is DDT’s strong support for Bolton and Pompeo’s military action in Venezuela, and back is DDT’s typical waffle position of “all options are on the table.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who wants touch military action, will have to reverse his position—again.

DDT selects his officials for their abilities to lie, and AG Bill Barr is a prime example. This past week’s attention focused on Barr’s lying under oath in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Mueller investigation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) accused Barr of committing a crime by lying to Congress. Barr’s connection with the secretive conservative extremist Catholic group Opus Dei, developed in Franco’s Spain during the 1930s, provides support for his “ends justify the means” approach, recently demonstrated by his comfort with lying during testimony. Like Barr, the organization prizes wealth and power at the expense of those more disadvantaged while it uses politics to further its personal advancement and destroy justice and democracy.

Barr was forced to admit that Mueller’s investigation discovered DDT’s implication in a felony with the case referred to the Southern District of New York. The case concerned crimes of hush payments that violated campaign finance laws.

The day after the redacted Mueller report was released to the public, White House lawyer Emmet Flood wrote AG Bill Barr criticizing Mueller for explicitly stating that his investigation did not “exonerate” President Trump on allegations of obstruction of justice and accusing Mueller’s report of making “political” statements. Flood’s full letter is here.

Lies from DDT’s associates also created problems in Mueller’s investigation as he noted in the report. Campaign manager Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn faced criminal charges for their lies, and others, such as Donald Trump, Jr., couldn’t be questioned. Other witnesses, like Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Sergei Millian, left the country. DDT himself displayed an abysmally poor memory in the few answers he gave to Mueller.

In lying about how President Obama was at fault for the Russian involvement in the 2016 election, DDT again brought to light House Speaker Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) refusal to work with the president in this issue. McConnell had already taken drastic steps to block Merrick Garland from being considered for the Supreme Court for several months, and he promised scorched earth if President Obama went public with the knowledge that Russia was working to elect DDT.

Republicans may deny the possibility of climate change, but the EPA has published a report telling people how to plan for climate change’s catastrophes. Despite the EPA ban of using these terms of “climate change” or “a changing climate,” the report used them 29 times. Communities should assume “the worst-case scenario” as they adapt to the “debris-related impacts of climate change,” according to the report. Concerns are chemical and industrial release along with gas emissions.

Because of the firefighters’ support of Joe Biden’s candidacy, DDT sent 58 attack tweets or retweets in an hour early Wednesday morning.  He lied about everything that he had done for the firefighters.

Once again, this week was Infrastructure Week. Supposedly DDT agreed with Democratic congressional leaders Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Dick Schumer (D-NY) that $2 billion was a good number for the nation to rebuild its crumbling bridge, roads, and other parts of the infrastructure. DDT first called the public-private partnerships of last year recommended by economic adviser Gary Cohen as “so stupid.” GOP opposition, however, will likely scuttle the deal: acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has already told people that the idea is too expensive and doomed for failure. McConnell also opposes the deal, and Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) asked how “we are going to pay for this.”

Raising gas taxes by 35 cents would raise only one-fourth of the needed amount, and tax increases would be necessary for the remainder. Republicans want to keep giving taxes from the poor and middle-class to the wealthy so that won’t work. DDT will probably follow the same as pattern as he did with immigration—agree with Democrats and then call off the entire deal.

When DDT is lying, his comment and speeches devolve into derangement, like his enactment of the Paris massacre during his talk at the NRA convention. Or his graphic lying description of how Democrats “execute babies” at his Wisconsin speech.

DDT looks good with the dropping unemployment rate. The bad news is for blacks, the college-educated, and involuntary part-time workers. Increase came in temp help, and local government jobs almost tripled. Wage increases match the inflation rate. The raw numbers are good, the reality not so much. Like the stock market going up because tax cuts for corporations permit them to buy more stocks.

Farmers’ personal income fell by the most in three years during the first quarter of 2019 from the ongoing trade war. Other factors included low commodity prices and the climate change disasters such as the Midwest spring floods. Earnings dropped by $11.8 billion in the quarter, just shy of the $12 billion that DDT promised to pay them out of taxpayers’ pockets. DDT’s 2020 budget cuts reduce federal subsidies for crop insurance and small growers from 62 percent of premiums to 48 percent with limits on growers making less than $500,000 annually. In January, he told farmers that his trade deals “are going to get you so much business, you’re not even going to believe it.”

Coming soon: “Make America Worse.”

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

 

May 1, 2019

U.S. AG Barr Defends Cover-up of DDT

Special investigator Robert Mueller joins people disturbed about AG Bill Barr’s misrepresentation of Mueller’s final report. A timeline of the report from its release to Barr’s testimony today before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his protection of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT).

March 22: Robert Mueller delivered his 448-page report to the DOJ.

March 24: Bill Barr released his personal four-page interpretation of Mueller’s report that attempted to exonerate DDT of all blame by announcing that Mueller found no collusion between the DDT campaign and Russia and that Mueller had absolved DDT of obstruction of justice.

March 25: Mueller sent first letter to Barr, expressing “concern” about Barr’s misrepresentation of his findings with an introduction and executive summary to Barr that day.

March 27: Mueller sent a second letter to Barr and the DOJ leadership about Barr’s summary:

“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions. There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

Muller requested the release of the report’s introduction and executive summaries. DOJ officials said that they believed Mueller agreed with them about the process of releasing the report until they saw the letter. The complete letter is here.

March 28: Mueller told Barr on the phone that Barr’s summary was misleading about the report and said that Barr did not reveal how DDT’s campaign interacted inappropriately with Russians. Examples: Campaign manager Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates regularly provided polling to a Russian national believed by Gates to be a “spy”; Mueller outlined 10 “episodes” in which DDT may have obstructed justice. In addition, Barr didn’t mention that DDT’s mostly unsuccessful “to incluence the investigation” were “largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

March 29: Barr wrote Congress claiming that his March 24 communication was intended as Mueller’s principal conclusions, not a summary. He volunteered to testify before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees on May 1 and 2.

April 10: Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath. Asked if Mueller supported “your conclusion,” Barr answered:

I don’t know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion.”

The questioner, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), called Barr “the chief propagandist” for DDT and that Barr lied to the people after learning about Mueller’s prior communication with Barr.

April 18: Barr gave a press release before he made public a heavily redacted Mueller report and repeated “no collusion” as his boss DDT has. Asked if it was improper for him to spin the unreleased report, Barr walked off the stage.

April 30: The Washington Post released information about Mueller’s criticism to Barr about the Barr’s misrepresentation and publicity prior to Barr’s congressional testimony.  Both Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and House Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) demanded Mueller’s letter to Barr. Nadler also asked that Mueller testify before his committee, but the DOJ, where Mueller is employed, can’t find a time when Mueller would be available. Barr threatened to not appear at the House Judiciary Committee hearing on May 2 because he might be questioned by staff counsel instead of House members. Members of Congress called for Barr’s resignation.

May 1: Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

  • Barr testified he had not reviewed the underlying evidence in Mueller’s report although he wrote in his first summary that the evidence failed to establish that DDT committed obstruction of justice.
  • Barr said he doesn’t know anything about the internal polling data that Manafort and Gates regularly sent to Russian national Kilimnik to share with others in Ukraine and with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The Mueller report described over 200 connections between DDT’s campaign and a foreign adversary.
  • Barr sat in silence for six seconds when asked if campaigns should contact the FBI if foreign governments offer them damaging information on their political opponents. When prompted, he specified a narrow yes, “if a foreign intelligence service.” Barr did suggest it would be possible for an employee of a foreign adversary to work for a U.S. campaign if that person were not paid.
  • Asked about lies from DDT and other people in Mueller’s report, Barr said that he’s “not in the business of determining when lies are told to the American people.” [Internet response was not positive.]
  • Barr falsely claimed that he “didn’t exonerate” DDT and that he wasn’t hiding Mueller’s information. [Sen. Richard Blumenthal used a color-coded chart for 14 claims connected with DDT’s obstruction of justice, showing that Mueller found substantial evidence regarding this obstruction of “crime, intent, interference with an ongoing investigation, and the obstructive act.”]
  • Barr called Mueller’s letter to him “snitty” and refused to share notes from their telephone call. Also, Barr accused Mueller of not writing the letter to him although Mueller signed the letter.
  • Barr told Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) that he will “work with you to enhance the security of our election.” Asked if he would help get the Secure Elections Act passed, he said he would “take a look” at it. [Klobuchar had far more questions.]
  • Barr said that DDT “fully cooperated” with the investigation although the Mueller report shows differently.
  • Barr asserted that Mueller didn’t intend his report for Congress although Mueller stated that intent in his report.
  • Barr admitted under oath that a case for obstruction of justice can be pursued without an underlying crime if people concerned about crimes “take an inherently malignant act, such as destroying documents.” The statement was to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), DDT’s cheerleader, who was sure that his original question would keep DDT from being accused of obstruction. [Asked earlier this week about DDT’s obstruction of justice, Graham said, “I don’t care.”]
  • Barr said that DDT was “falsely accused” of coordinating with Russia.
  • Barr declared that he is in charge of summaries, redactions, and times of releases because a special investigator works.
  • The worst: Barr said that the president had the right to fire any independent special counsel if he disagreed with the investigation.
  • Barr refused to testify at the House Judiciary Committee hearing tomorrow. Members may subpoena him, landing the situation in court If Barr continues his refusal. Barr could be sued for civil contempt, leaving the decision to a judge. This solution was used in 2007 when George W. Bush’s counsel Harriet Miers refused to testify about her removal of several U.S. attorneys; a court ruled that Miers had to comply with the subpoena, and the case was appealed. The case was dropped when the 110th Congress was over. An unlikely option not used for 100 years is to hold Barr in contempt, meaning the House’s security force could arrest and detain him. In 1973, Sen. Sam Ervin (D-NC) threatened to jail people who failed to appear for the Watergate hearings after then President Nixon tried to prevent key aides from testifying.  Permitting Barr his own way sets a precedent for the DOJ’s total control of Congress—a separate branch of government.

When “Poppy” Bush, George W.’s father, named Barr attorney general in the early 1990s, NYT writer William Safire, a staunch Republican, used the nickname “Coverup-General” because of Barr’s concealing evidence about George H.W. Bush’s involvement in “Iraqgate” and “Iran-Contra.” Christmas 1992 headlines told of Barr’s Christmas gift to Bush and Ronald Reagan—hiding their crimes in the Iran-Contra scandal. Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh, named six years earlier to investigate Reagan’s Iran-Contra activities, found the documents of Caspar Weinberger, Reagan’s former defense secretary, who had been in on the deal, and Bush’s diary that would corroborate Walsh’s findings. Elliott Abrams was already convicted of withholding evidence from Congress and might have more information. Abrams was silent, hoping for a pardon.

In April 2001—almost ten years later—Barr said in an interview for oral presidential histories:

“There were some people arguing just for [a pardon for] Weinberger, and I said, ‘No, in for a penny, in for a pound.’ I went over and told the President I thought he should not only pardon Caspar Weinberger, but while he was at it, he should pardon about five others.”

Bush followed Barr’s advice, destroying years of investigation. Walsh had already gotten one conviction and three guilty pleas with two other people lined up for prosecution. Bush was in Walsh’s sights. The pardons closed down the investigation and protected himself as well as the others involved in the crimes. After the pardons, Walsh stated that the diary and notes for Weinberger’s public trial were “evidence of a conspiracy among the highest ranking Reagan Administration officials to lie to Congress and the American public.” Officials includes Reagan, Bush, and Barr. Coverup-General Barr is the go-to guy, and Republican senators confirmed him. Only Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) voted against his party, but Barr got three Democratic senators: Doug Jones (AL), Joe Manchin (WV), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ).

Even Fox contributor Andrew Napolitano, who DDT once considered for a personal lawyer, claims that Mueller’s report shows DDT’s pattern of obstruction that was “unlawful, defenseless and condemnable.” He made his opinion well-known through both an op-ed and a video.

A must-read about Barr is a NYT op-ed from former FBI director James Comey who tells Barr that “[DDT] has eaten your soul.”

And a must-watch about Barr comes from Rachel Maddow’s interview with Hillary Clinton immediately before Minute 17. Clinton’s best one-liner about DDT’s inviting foreign countries to support her 2016 election:

“China, if you’re listening, why don’t you get Trump’s tax returns? I’m sure the media would richly reward you.”

According to Barr, this approach would not be illegal because it’s done out in the open.

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

 

December 14, 2018

DDT: Week 99 – Advent Surprises

In Advent’s 22 to 28 days leading up to Christmas, one custom is the calendar which has pockets or drawers, each concealing a gift that delight children. This Advent is bringing political surprises for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), but the “gifts” won’t delight him.

Thinking that he could control the Democrats in the coming year, DDT met with Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (CA) last Tuesday. Pelosi and Schumer expected a closed meeting, but DDT invited the press so that they could hear him say that he would be “proud” to shut down the federal government if he didn’t get money for his “wall.” Later in a closed-door meeting, Pelosi told the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee that the wall is “like a manhood thing for him.” DDT said that the money for his new wall would come from his new NAFTA, which means he plans to use non-existent money gained from his new trade agreement for a $25 billion wall.

Some events from the past week that should terrify DDT:

Russian agent  Maria Butina is pleading guilty and giving testimony about her conspiracy to infiltrate the NRA to help Russia. Although Vladimir claims that he and his spies know nothing about her, Natasha Bertrand of The Atlantic tweeted:

“Is that why the Russian gov has conducted 6 consular visits to Butina, passed 4 diplomatic notes to State about her case, and had Lavrov personally speak to Pompeo twice about her prosecution? (The official Kremlin Twitter account changed its avatar to a picture of her, too.)”

In possible illegal “coordination” (maybe collusion?), DDT’s presidential campaign and the NRA used the same people and parent company in strategically making ad buys. The law permits the NRA to spend as much money for advertising, but any expenditures sharing information with a campaign is limited to $5,000 as in-kind donations. The NRA spent $30 million.

DDT’s former fixer Michael Cohen received a sentence of three years for failure to report his multimillion-dollar payoff for orchestrating secret hush payments to women who claim affairs with DDT and an additional concurrent two months sentence and $50,000 fine for lying to Congress about his dealings with a Trump Tower in Moscow. DDT has thus far failed in his attempts to distance himself from his former fixer, the man who DDT called “my attorney. The slightest chink in the GOP indifference to DDT’s criminal activity came from Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) when he expressed “concern” about the possibility that DDT might have implicated himself in a crime, if, according to Cassidy, “this so-called hush money is a crime.”

After almost a day of silence, DDT insisted that the hush-money payoffs were “not campaign finance” despite the admission of the National Enquirer’s owner AMI that it paid off one of the women “in concert with” DDT’s campaign to “suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election.” DDT also claimed that, although Cohen pled guilty to these violations of campaign-finance law, they “are not a crime.”

After DDT’s election, he appointed Kushner to replace Cohen as his contact with David Pecker, National Enquirer publisher and chief executive of AMI. Kushner and Pecker talked frequently after DDT’s inauguration on a variety of subjects from relationships with Saudis to dirt on Morning Joe’s Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough. Pecker’s pro-DDT coverage drastically diminished after the raids on Cohen’s office, leading to Pecker becoming an unindicted co-conspirator. AMI’s admission that its pre-election hush-money scheme was specifically connected to DDT’s campaign.

DDT claimed that he would pick only the “best people.” One of them was Michael Flynn, DDT’s former national security adviser who is now waiting his sentence for lying to the FBI. Flynn’s defense is that nobody told him the consequences of lying to the FBI. Special investigator Robert Mueller responded to this feeble excuse: Flynn lied multiple times before, during, and after the FBI interview—sticking to his lies even when given a chance to tell the truth—and he was told about the interview topic.

The Mueller team wrote:

“A sitting National Security Advisor, former head of an intelligence agency, retired Lieutenant General, and 33-year veteran of the armed forces knows he should not lie to federal agents. He does not need to be warned it is a crime to lie to federal agents to know the importance of telling them the truth. The defendant undoubtedly was aware, in light of his ‘many years’ working with the FBI, that lying to the FBI carries serious consequences.”

Soon after DDT’s inauguration, DDT’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort urged him to vigorously attack the FBI. Communications regarding Manafort’s lying showed that DDT’s undermining the FBI would damage its investigation into the Russian election collusion, as shown in some communications that are the subject of Manafort’s lying. Manafort specifically identified former FBI Director James Comey for damage to the FBI credibility and advised a senior administration official to attack DOJ, the FBI, and Obama officials for seeking FISA warrants to eavesdrop on himself and Carter Page, again to delay the investigation. A hearing on allegations about Manafort’s lying is on January 25.

Beyond investigations into DDT’s campaign, transition team operations, business, and foundation operations, prosecutors are delving into expenditures of his inaugural committee and his super PAC. Foreigners—primarily from Middle Eastern nations—likely contributed donations to both these funds in exchange for influence on U.S. policy, a violation of U.S. law The probe into inaugural donations involves federal prosecutors in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Despite the claim that donors to the inaugural committee were “fully vetted and disclosed” to the FEC, the audit has not been made public, and a GOP lobbyist pleaded guilty to arranging for foreigners to pay $50,000 for inaugural tickets through a U.S. purchaser.

Ivanka Trump has been found to funnel huge sums from the inaugural donations into the Trump Organization while she was executive vice president. Internal emails and receipts show that she negotiated hotel prices for venue rentals. Overcharging for event spaces violates tax law, and the IRS can issue steep fines if a person with “substantial influence” over a nonprofit group overcharges for their outside business. Rick Gates, then deputy to the inaugural chair who is guilty of lying to the FBI and conspiracy against the U.S., asked vendors to take payments directly from vendors and sign confidentiality agreements about their payments. With a third of the staff, a quarter of the events, and revenue of twice as much as George W. Bush’s second inauguration, the records for DDT’s inauguration show at least $40 million missing from the funds.

Mueller’s investigation continues with revelations about work by DDT’s officials in the Middle East to influence politics in the United States.

While Republicans were reluctant to criticize DDT’s legal problems, a bipartisan vote in the Senate of 59-41 called for an end to military assistance to Saudi Arabia in connection with its war in Yemen that has killed 50,000 people and starved another 12 million. The Congress can order DDT to remove U.S. military members from “hostilities abroad” without the existence of a declaration of war or authorization of the use of force. Last month, the Senate passed a resolution by 58 to 41 removing the U.S. military’s refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft. House Speaker quashed a similar measure by putting an amendment in the farm bill that just passed, but the House changes party majority at the end of the year. The Senate is also considering a bill suspending weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and imposing sanctions on officials blocking humanitarian access in Yemen or who were involved in the torture and dismemberment of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The “rule of law” has moved 180 degrees in the past two decades. During Bill Clinton’s presidency, the GOP investigated Whitewater, a land deal in which the Clintons lost $45,000 several years before Clinton went to the White House. He was impeached for a lie about Monica Lewinsky. In the 1990s, Republicans believed that the rule of law had no exceptions, that a serving president is subject to a civil lawsuit, required to answer a subpoena and testify before a grand jury. One telephone call from the White House to the Treasury Department was classified as obstruction of justice. The current occupant of the Oval Office can threaten and dismiss law enforcement officials for investigating him, intimidate prosecutors, repeatedly defame legal opponents, offer pardons for witnesses against him, lie about multimillion-dollar deals with a country that has leverage against him, and offer a bribe to the president of said country with a $50 million penthouse. Republicans respond by promising more investigations into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

No one knows if a sitting president can be indicted, but a memo from Ken Starr, hidden in the National Archives for almost 20 years, says “yes.” According to Starr, “in this country, no one, even President Clinton, is above the law.” Maybe Republican presidents are exempt, however, since the Supreme Court became an arm of the executive branch.

November 2, 2018

DDT: Week 93 – Midterm Election Tensions Leading to War

“Are you both prepared for federal prison?” A reporter asked Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, two men who tried to smear special investigator Robert Mueller (left) with a fake sexual assault accusation, in a press conference. Details of that story swirl around the internet between rabid racist remarks from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) about a shrinking migrant caravan thousands of miles away from the southern U.S. border.

Wohl, a 20-year-old DDT supporter, began the fake story on Gateway Pundit with his claim that the victim would be at his press conference. She failed to appear, and Wohl had no evidence. Earlier, women had reported to the media that they had been offered tens of thousands of dollars to lie about a non-existent assault. Investigation into Wohl and his lie revealed that his alleged intelligence firm was composed of himself, fake LinkedIn profiles, and his mother’s telephone number. The alleged assault supposedly occurred in New York City on the same day that Mueller served on jury during in Washington, D.C.

In 2017, the Arizona Corporation Commission filed a cease-and-desist order against Wohl for violating securities law misrepresenting how much money would be at risk in an investment and his company’s size in 2015 and 2016. He has failed to make the $1,371.61 monthly payments for his fine. Bloomberg reported that DDT praised Wohl’s support for him. [The hand on DDT’s shoulder in the photo belongs to another man not in the photo’s frame.]

Burkman, a registered Washington lobbyist and conspiracy theorist who raised money for Rick Gates, was identified by a woman offered money to lie about Mueller as the man behind the scam. Gates pled guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI. Conservatives are so terrified of possible discoveries from special investigator Robert Mueller about the Russian scandal that they are resorting to fraudulent smear campaigns as shown by this 11-minute segment from The Rachel Maddow ShowHuffPo also trailed the sordid events surrounding Wohl’s and Burkman’s fraud.

Gateway Pundit, the far-right fake news website founded and run by a gay man, Jim Hoft, has backed off on the accusations about Mueller that he published, stating that they were taking down the “information” and looking into the allegations against Wohl. An Esquire article asked what Mueller has on Burkman, known for trying to bring down Bill Clinton, if he’s willing to hire Wohl for such a risky attempt to bring down Mueller.

DDT has been very quiet about the Wohl-Burkman fiasco, but he’s talked a great deal about the “invasion” coming across Mexico from Central America. He plans to send 15,000 active military members to the U.S. southern border—the same number as deployed to Afghanistan—but no one knows what they will do, short of declaring war on Mexico. According to the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the military cannot enforce U.S. domestic laws, including immigration law, unless Congress authorizes this action—and Congress is on vacation. On the other hand, anyone on U.S. soil can ask for asylum. Immigrants coming across a port of entry break no law; others commit only a federal misdemeanor but can still pursue an asylum claim.

In the past 20 days, the caravan of refugees has traveled about 620 miles; the walking trip to Tijuana, over 2,000 more miles, would require over two months. Before DDT deployed the troops, he was told that “only a small percentage” of migrants could reach the U.S. Even if it keeps 3,000 asylum-seekers, DDT will be assigning at least three military members to each traveler. As more red meat for his followers, DDT declared rocks equivalent to AR-15s, saying that the military should fire back if anyone throws stones at them.

Foreign countries are using DDT’s violence-laced rhetoric to shoot people on the immigrant caravan as a justification for its murders to suppress free speech, for example the Nigerian Army’s killing 45 peaceful protesters. DDT has also exonerated Israel for its killing of dozens of protesters and wounding over 1,000 others, even if they were running away or praying. And he fails to criticize Saudi Arabia for their murder of a WaPo reporter, Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident.

Khashoggi was strangled almost immediately after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, and his body was then dismembered and destroyed, according to the first official explanation from Turkey. Department of State Secretary Mike Pompeo said something vague about sanctions but added:

“[DDT] has made very clear not only do we have important commercial relationships, but important strategic relationships, national security relationships with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and we intend to make sure that those relationships remain intact.”

DDT panders to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his desire for an Israel-Saudi Arabia coalition to defeat Iran and destroy Palestinians. Also on the table is Jared Kushner’s to create a Palestinian-Israeli “peace” through threats against Palestine.

Reports that Kushner gave the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) classified information from DDT’s daily briefings have been rampant for over six months. A source said that MBS bragged he had Kushner “in his pocket.” Before Kushner lost his top-security clearance, he was particularly interested in Middle East information and may have given MBS a hit list of enemies. DDT’s sole goal in the Middle East is to destroy Iran, and he will support murderers to accomplish his desired end.

DDT has a new fascist friend leader with the election of Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil. Called the “Trump of Latin America,” Bolsonaro ran on the same fears as DDT—crime, bad economy, etc. Hats might as well read “Make Brazil Great Again.” Retired generals will also play a large part in designing his policies as will evangelical Christians. He also pledged freedom for the people, probably correct for a small percentage of his constituency. Bolsonaro’s proposals, similar to those of DDT, include chemical castration for rapists, police impunity to kill more criminals, greater gun ownership, reduction of environmental controls, hydroelectric dams on the Amazon River, deforestation and mining on indigenous reserves, emphasis on the “traditional family,” education about Bolsonaro’s perception of economic successes and institutions during the past dictatorship, and a permissive attitude toward attacks on LGBTQ people. Bolsonaro describes refugees as “the scum of the earth” and says he would be “incapable of loving a homosexual son,” is “in favor of a dictatorship,” and “in favor of torture.”

In his promise to remove left-wing “criminals” from Brazil, Bolsonaro praised its dictatorship from 1964-1985 and allowed his followers to physically attack reporters and threaten to rape them. Ana Campagnola, a member for the state legislature in Santa Catarina, is campaigning to allow students to denounce “indoctrinator teachers” who criticize Bolsonaro’s victory. She sent her 70,000 Facebook followers a WhatsApp number for students to report “party-political or ideological expressions that humiliate or offend your freedom of faith and conscience.”

In other DDT-esque statements, Bolsonaro promised to pay down debt, trim the deficit, and reduce government. DDT’s identical promises failed: The U.S. showed DDT’s same promises to be false: the deficit for the current year will be about double that of President Obama’s last year because of tax cuts for big business and the wealthy, the deficit will soar over $2 trillion within a decade, and DDT’s government is riddled with corruption.

After 11 people were slaughtered a week ago in a Pennsylvania synagogue, faith leaders and the Pittsburgh mayor urged DDT to not disrupt the funerals, but daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner enabled him in his decision to go where he was not welcome. Following the visit, DDT again made himself the victim by complaining about the media and minimized the protest of 4,000 people as “small.”

DDT, the U.S. quitter-in-chief who dumped many of President Obama’s achievements from fits of pique, turned to attacking Ronald Reagan’s 1987 legendary end to the Cold War by pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia. DDT doesn’t mind Russia interfering with U.S. elections—because Putin favors Republicans—but he follow’s National Security advisor John Bolton’s war-mongering. Even sometimes crazy and supposedly libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) opposes both the plan and Bolton. Russia denies actions that violate the agreement: DDT won’t believe that claim although he accepts Putin’s assertion that Russia doesn’t meddle with voting in U.S. In Russia this week, Bolton told the media that he thought Russia did not have “any real effect” on the vote in the presidential election.

During a visit from National Security advisor John Bolton in Russia, Vladimir Putin not only ridiculed the U.S. national seal but also said that said that U.S. global dominance is ending as DDT accelerates the problem with a string of mistakes “typical of an empire.” The usual hawkish Bolton blandly smiled at Putin during his visit and organized a visit between Putin and DDT in Paris on November 11, the U.S. holiday to honor veterans.

After announcing his plan to withdraw from the treaty, DDT said he plans to build up the massive nuclear arsenal in the United States, an action leading to another arms war.Both China and India are jockeying to take over U.S. world power. A war could make DDT think that he can suspend elections in 2020.

 

 

June 9, 2018

Russian, Chinese Involvements Expand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 13, 2018

Can DDT’s Airstrikes Cover Up His Problems?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

March 24, 2018

DDT: Week Sixty-one – Tweeting, Hiding from Protests

Late Friday evening has become the time for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to drop bombs, usually in order to steer the media away from news that he doesn’t like. DDT’s news last night before the massive March for Our Lives gatherings today was to once again ban transgender military members in the military. His ban of several months ago has been overturned in court, but DDT executed an order supporting the new memo from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that disqualifies U.S. troops who have had gender confirmation surgery because “military service requires sacrifice.” Transgender troops without surgery can stay if they have been medically stable for 36 consecutive months before joining the military or if they were diagnosed with gender dysphoria after President Obama’s end of the ban in 2016. Four lawsuits are already opposing DDT’s earlier ruling.

Facebook’s providing Cambridge Analytica with data consumed much of the news during the past week. Clips of C.A.’s officials were caught on a hidden camera explaining their blackmail to put conservative candidates into office. Last Sunday, CBS reported that DDT’s campaign never used any data from Cambridge Analytica, but suspended C.A. CEO president Alexander Nix disagreed, saying that C.A. put DDT the winner in the presidential election. Brad Parscale, DDT’s current campaign director, worked with C.A. to turn women and black voters against Hillary Clinton with fake stories.

Worse news from C.A.: key players have a new company, Emerdata, with C.A. primary funder Robert Mercer’s daughters, C.A.’s suspended CEO Alexander Nix as director, C.A.’s chief data officer Alexander Tayler, and Julian Wheatland, chairman of Cambridge Analytica parent firm SCL Group. Connected to Emerdata is Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater and now chairing the private security firm operating mostly in Africa. Prince is the brother of Secretary of State Betsy DeVos. George Nadar, who organized a meeting in the Seychelles between Erik Prince and a high-level Russian banker to set up a secret DDT-Russia back channel, has been granted immunity and is now singing to Mueller. Before he became FBI Director, discovered that Prince had probably broken the law by trying to sell secretly modified paramilitary attack aircraft to Azerbaijan’s military.

DDT’s keeps tweeting continual denial that “there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), minority leader of the House Intelligence Committee, responded:

“Mr. President, the Committee reached no such conclusion — only Republicans. In fact, we did find evidence of collusion, despite GOP members being more interested in protecting you than learning the truth. When accusing others of lying, best not to misrepresent facts yourself.”

DDT’s increasingly frantic tweets about Mueller indicates that he is closing in on the truth about DDT’s corruption, fraud, and Russian collusion. The messages from DDT, stuck in the White House for last weekend, hit a new high for him, and desperate aides took him to a golf course after the Sunday morning tweet storm. DDT came back with more vituperative tweets by Wednesday.

Excited about Vladimir Putin’s being “re-elected” for another six years, DDT called the dictator to congratulate him, ignoring warnings from his national security advisers. Briefing materials stated “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” and condemn the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) tweeted:

“An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections. And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election.”

DDT took pride in being on good terms with the Russian president and not bringing up anything negative such as the Kremlin’s murders and meddling in the U.S. elections. Republicans such as retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) treated DDT’s turning his belly up to Russia as the new normal. Videos showed ballot-stuffing at polling stations; earlier, viable candidates were either arrested on sham charges or killed. The story escalated when DDT became furious about his actions becoming public, and he is again determined to discover who did the leaking, calling it criminal.

Although the White House staff does not work for him personally, DDT has required them to sign “non-disclosure” agreements with threats if they reveal anything about him. Earlier DDT failed to force reporters to sign NDAs when they traveled with VP Mike Pence. As rumors run rampant, some people think that Chief of Staff John Kelly is behind the leaking because of past inappropriate statements to the press. DDT took pride in being on good terms with the Russian president and not bringing up anything negative such as the Kremlin’s murders and meddling in the U.S. elections.

More revelations about Russia’ interference in the U.S. elections:

The hacker that stole Democratic National Committee emails, Guccifer 2.0, was “an officer of Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU),” connecting the hack to the Kremlin.

Andrew McCabe, fired by the DOJ with the blessing of AG Jeff Sessions, had authorized a criminal investigation into Sessions last year because he “lacked candor when testifying before Congress about contacts with Russian operatives.” Sessions said under oath that he had no contacts with any Russian officials during the campaign until he began to remember that he talked to the Russian ambassador twice. After Mueller was appointed as special investigator, McCabe’s investigation moved on to him. Other Sessions’ “lack of candor” comes from his claim under oath to the House Judiciary Committee that he “pushed back against a suggestion to meet with Russians during DDT’s campaign. Three people have told investigator Robert Mueller that Sessions never objected to arranging a meeting with Russia. Emails show that DDT’s campaign urged George Papadopoulos to reach out for a “partnership with Russia.” Although Sessions recused himself from all things Russian, he fired McCabe to defend DDT from Mueller’s Russian investigation. Former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has written a thought-provoking description of Sessions’ “lack of candor.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has called for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about McCabe’s firing. Even Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that McCabe should have been allowed to finish his last 26 hours.

As GOP congressional leadership shy away from protecting the investigation into the Russian scandal, the conservative WashPo chides their refusal to declare Robert Mueller off-limits from DDT’s firing machine:

“The president treats government as purely a tribal battle between one side and the other and expects public servants to put loyalty to him before loyalty to country or the rule of law. Republican congressional leaders should not remain complicit in this debasement.”

Columnist Eugene Robinson wrote:

“If Trump does try to fire Mueller, [Ryan] and [McConnell] should get much of the blame. They have given Trump no reason to believe they will ever stand up to him.”

This past week, DDT hosted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who gained his new position in a coup that involved torture and imprisonment of his family members. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster expressed concerns about the relation of Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law, with MBS who bragged about having Kushner “in his pocket.” MBS may also have used classified information from DDT’s daily briefings to determine who MBS imprisoned. Tillerson and McMaster are gone; Kushner remains in the White House, and the Senate failed to stop the U.S. part in a bloody, three-year war in Yemen. Despite a bipartisan effort, 45 GOP and 10 Democratic senators voted to continue its support for Saudi Arabia’s bombing missions.

With Jared Kushner head of his family business, it filed at least 80 false applications for construction permits in a three-year period ending in 2016 lying about the rent-regulated tenants in its buildings to make it easier to push them out and sell a building with higher rents.

The Dow Jones index dropped 1,460 points this past week after the Feds raised the prime rate a quarter of a percent, Facebook suffered from public knowledge that it provided information to Cambridge Analytica, and DDT escalated the trade war by placing tariffs on $60 billion of Chinese goods and limiting China’s freedom to invest in U.S. tech. China threatened tariffs on $3 billion in U.S. goods, most of them agricultural, hitting the states that voted for DDT. The 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act may be a harbinger of our future. Yet DDT caved on most of his steel and aluminum tariffs, exempting countries for two-thirds of steel and over half of aluminum imports.

Capping the week was March for Our Lives, a movement by young people protesting unlimited gun ownership with the message “Enough Is Enough.” Millions of people, almost one million just in Washington, D.C., marched around the world with 800 different protests in the United States alone. DDT escaped to Mar-a-Lago before the event this morning, detouring around any protesters on his way back from the golf course. Most legislators went home yesterday immediately after a $1.3 trillion spending bill passed Congress. [Above: the view from the Washington, D.C. stage.]

Two GOP congressional members gave lukewarm praise for the young people although Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) misrepresented their mission. Others idly commented about sports, farmers, and praise for the spending bill and tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. Democrats were seen attending the marches. For the first time in almost two decades, more people have a negative view of the NRA than positive, according to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. It found that 37 percent see the NRA in a positive light with 44 percent viewing it negatively. The greatest drop came from white married women.

March 15, 2018

Russian Interference in U.S. to Expand Chaos

No matter how bad the Russia collusion and hacking have gotten, the Republicans have seemed rather blasé about this involvement, even supporting Russia over the people in the United States. Will these Republicans change their position if they lose their electric power? Russian hackers have been attacking the U.S. infrastructure, including electricity, water, and transportation as well as nuclear and manufacturing sectors, and the federal government is getting worried. Last summer, the news that Russia had gotten into over a dozen power plants in seven states didn’t get much attention in the first year of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the Oval Office. Now Russians have moved into dozens of states with their attacks on the infrastructure. Eric Chien, a security technology director at the digital security firm Symantec, said:

“We now have evidence they’re sitting on the machines, connected to industrial control infrastructure, that allow them to effectively turn the power off or affect sabotage…. They have the ability to shut the power off.”

Today’s public alert from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI warned that these hackers have been targeting U.S. infrastructure for the past two years. They started by staging malware and spear phishing at small commercial networks before obtaining remote access in energy sector networks which allowed them to collect information connected with Industrial Control Systems. At least three simultaneous Russian cyber hacking attacks are going into infrastructure controls, stealing documents and using a “troll farm” called the Internet Research Agency to spread misinformation on social media for chaos and discord, and focusing on disrupting the infrastructure of U.S. and European countries.

Last summer, Congress passed a law mandating that DDT place sanctions on Russia, but he  ignored the law.  A letter from 140 House Democrats asked DDT to impose these sanctions on Russia, an action that the Treasury Department took after the chemical attack on a Russian double agent in Britain followed by the death of a Russian exile. Even these sanctions are weak, because they are only on the entities and people indicted by Robert Mueller. The State Department also released a condemnation of Russia’s “campaign of coercion and violence” in the Russian annexation of Crimea four years ago this week, but no sanctions.

A serious problem for Republicans this week comes from the House Intelligence Committee GOP announcement that it closed down its investigation into the Russian scandal before finishing its job. The committee issued a brief summary with a 150-page report supposedly to follow, explaining the GOP position that intelligence agencies were wrong in its evidence of how Russia supported DDT in the presidential election. DDT saw the GOP whitewash as a vindication.

Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA), forced from leadership of the committee after he briefed White House officials on committee information, has always protected DDT, even leaking information, and announced last June that they wouldn’t find any collusion. GOP members limited topics under discussion and witnesses’ questions while following White House restrictions and refusing to investigate phone and bank records corroborating witness claims. Nunes consistently undermined Robert Mueller’s investigation with false information. The person ostensibly in charge of the House Intelligence Committee investigation claimed ignorance of George Nadar, a key witness about secret meetings in the Seychelles.

The report was so biased that hard-right GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who led the Benghazi/private email server email against Hillary Clinton said that the GOP evidence was “motivated in whole or in part by a desire to harm [Clinton’s] candidacy or undermine her Presidency had she prevailed.” Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Monday that “there is evidence” showing the Russians attempted to help President Trump during the 2016 presidential election, contradicting a draft report from the panel. Rooney also warned that the government needs to act to prevent foreign interference in the upcoming midterm elections.

The GOP spin from other committee members, however, is that the intelligence community is wrong about Russian interference just as they were about Iraq weapons—ignoring the fact that the intelligence community denied “specific information” about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction before George W. Bush invaded Iraq. Then, as now with the GOP members of the “no Russian interference” group, the politicians were wrong in their perspective about the documents given them.

Deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah made an awkward statement by saying that DDT would have been aware of any such collusion if it did occur. In Shah’s words, proof of collusion would also be proof of DDT’s knowledge about it. Luckily for him, it appears to be an opinion.

Democrats on the committee had not seen the report when it was released and were not told about the conclusion before it was made public. Following the release of the GOP summary, the minority members of the House intelligence Committee released a 21-page “Status of the Russia Investigation.” The majority of the document is composed of four appendices, beginning in Appendix A with the outstanding lines of inquiry which have been partially or not at all addressed:

  • Hacking and dissemination of campaign emails by Russia to determine the specific of this cyber operation.
  • DDT’s campaign knowledge of the email hacks.
  • Elections security—or lack thereof.
  • Russian social media campaign.
  • Financial leverage in DDT’s business deals, perhaps for Russian money laundering and DDT’s actively negotiating a business deal in Moscow with a sanctioned Russian bank during the election, despite his assertion that he had no business dealings with Russia.
  • Money-laundering and foreign payments, already somewhat revealed by Robert Mueller’s special investigation which includes charges against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates.
  • Post-election effects and obstruction of justice, including intervention from and lies by Michael Flynn in U.S. affairs with Russia, DDT attempts to block James Comey to investigate Flynn, and DDT’s writing a memo to cover the June 2016 meeting in which his son Donald Trump Jr. and two other senior campaign advisers intended to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Appendix B lists over 30 key witnesses which had not been interviewed with brief descriptions of their potential involvement which needs further inquiry. Appendix C gives over 20 entities, including Deutsche Bank, which should be sent “indispensable” documents that directly connect to Russian election interference.  Fifteen other people and entities that should appear and/or present documents are in Appendix D. This list includes DDT, Jared Kushner, Hope Hicks, Erik Prince, and the White House. A key line in the most recent report from this committee:

The Minority has a good faith reason to believe that the White House does in fact possess such documentation memorializing President Trump’s conversations with Director Comey.  Subsequent press reporting revealed the existence of a memorandum reportedly composed by President Trump and Stephen Miller that referenced President Trump’s communications with Director Comey.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May says that it is “highly likely” former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned in Salisbury, England by Russia. DDT refuses to mention the word “Russia” in connection with the poisoning although Secretary of State Secretary Rex Tillerson said that the attack “clearly came from Russia.”

Today, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster used strong language to decry Russia’s actions and blamed the Kremlin for “the abhorrent nerve agent attack” in England. It may be his last speech because rumors from the White House indicate he is to be fired by the end of the month, despite the press secretary’s denial. DDT has told Chief of Staff John Kelly that McMaster is too rigid and his briefings are too long.

Earlier, Nunes tried to protect DDT with a GOP committee memo about the Russian investigation that DDT erroneously used to proclaim exoneration for himself. It was followed by a heavily redacted response from the Democrats showing the GOP’s “distortions and misrepresentations.” Complaints that Christopher Steele’s dossier on DDT were responsible for a warrant to surveil DDT’s associate and suspected foreign agent Carter Page where shown to be totally bogus.

Meanwhile Robert Mueller is continuing his investigation, this week with subpoenas to the Trump Organization for documents, some related to Russia, in its first approach to DDT’s business affairs. Despite DDT’s denial that it has no holdings in Russia, witnesses have been asked about DDT’s business plans to build in Moscow. DDT has talked to Emmet Flood, the lawyer who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment, about hiring him. Lawyers have advised DDT not to talk with Mueller, but he may be considering an interview if Mueller restricts the scope of questioning and concludes the DDT-involved part of the investigation within 60 days of the interview. Good luck!

Meanwhile Conor Lamb defeated Vladimir Putin in a U.S. House race last Tuesday in the far southwest Pennsylvania district with an almost 96 percent white population and so badly gerrymandered that no Democrat ran against the Republican in the past two elections. DDT won that district by 20 points in the presidential election. The former representative resigned after the publicity that the anti-abortion Republican encouraged his lover to have an abortion. This news was followed by multiple stories of his inappropriate action from his staff. Murphy is a developmental psychologist with a wife and adult daughter.

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