Nel's New Day

November 9, 2018

DDT: Week 94 – Midterm Elections a ‘Big Victory’

The past week has not been a success for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), despite what he claims. He did not take the midterm loss of the U.S. House gracefully. George W. Bush called the Dems taking the House in 2006 a “thumping”; President Obama described the GOP taking the House back in 2010 a “shellacking.”  By today, Democrats have taken over at least 32 GOP seats in the House with another possible eight; DDT declared the GOP loss a big victory.

DDT thought he could protect himself by firing AG Jeff Sessions and appointing Matthew Whitaker, but that ploy may also fail. Even Fox’s commentator Judge Anthony Napolitano believes that DDT’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as Acting AG is illegal because he was never confirmed by the Senate. Napolitano said:

“Under the law, the person running the Department of Justice must have been approved by the United States Senate for some previous position. Even on an interim post.”

Napolitano also pointed out that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is next in line for the position. Napolitano’s position adds fuel to the possibility of Whitaker’s direct ethics violations by taking control of Robert Mueller’s investigation after extensive public criticisms and suggestions for subverting Mueller’s work. Interfering with Mueller’s work could put Whitaker under investigation by the person he is supposedly supervising. Napolitano added that a president cannot fire an AG for the purpose of shaking up the leadership of DOJ and interfere with a criminal investigation that the president opposes. In asserting that Mueller has been authorized to investigate only links and coordination between the DDT campaign and the Russian government is wrong.

George Conway, husband of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, wrote that DDT’s appointment violates the constitution.

I don’t know Matt Whitaker,” DDT said in response to a question about whether he had talked to Whitaker about the Russian investigation. That was four weeks after he told Fox & Friends, “I know Matt Whitaker.” The latter is more likely because he hosted him frequently in the Oval Office—at least over a dozen times—and frequently spoke with him on the phone. In September, a White House aide said that Whitaker has an easy chemistry with DDT. While Sessions’ Chief of Staff, Whitaker also privately advised DDT about how he could pressure the DOJ to investigate people he viewed as his political enemies.

DDT tried to claim that Whitaker doesn’t need to be confirmed to the DOJ because special investigator Robert Mueller wasn’t confirmed. Special counsels aren’t confirmed because the DOJ names and supervises them. Instead, Whitaker has been appointed to supervise the entire DOJ although his only “confirmation” was as a federal prosecutor 14 years ago. Rationale people can find many more reasons that Whitaker isn’t fit for the DOJ AG. One might be that he stated that all judges should be Christians with a “biblical sense of justice,” specifically from the New Testament.  That requirement eliminates two Supreme Court justices.

A big problem for Whitaker moving forward, however, may be his role with World Patent Marketing, accused of fraud by customers and settling for over $25 million. More than just an advisor on the board, Whitaker threatened critics, including customers, of legal action if they continued with their complaints. He refused to respond to an October 2017 from the FTC for his records related to the company, and he refused to pay customers his share of monies that the company bilked from them. Some of these people are veterans who lost their life savings after fraudulent promises convinced them to invest in the company. Whitaker sometimes appeared to act as the company’s attorney, going so far as to emphasizing that he was a former U.S. attorney in his threats. Whitaker also appeared in promotional materials for the company and was named in scripts to persuade wishful inventors to pay as much as $400,000 each.

The FBI and the United States Postal Inspection Service have opened a criminal investigation into the company after concluding that it actively “suppressed” complaints about the company through “threats, intimidation and gag clauses.” A press release noted that the company director used legal action as a threatening cudgel to stop customers from posting negative reviews online or reporting it to the Better Business Bureau. Whitaker used his law firm’s logo and his past position as top federal prosecutor in south Iowa to threaten a man who said he would report the company; four days later the company sued the man with information that Whitaker had intervened in the matter. The parties settled the lawsuit out of court in 2016.

Whitaker’s new position includes the supervision of the FBI and its investigations.

In opposition to Whitaker’s appointment for acting AG, a network of activists called Nobody Is above the Law set up a website where protest organizers could list demonstrations on late afternoon Thursday. Hundreds of cities in the U.S., Canada, and parts of Europe responded. Even my small town of Newport (OR) had over 100 protesters at 5:00 pm yesterday. [Right: Newport.] The name of the protest came from Whitaker’s 2017 interview on The David Webb Show when he stated that a U.S. president can end any federal investigation without obstructing justice. [Below New York.]

Last Wednesday, CNN reporter Jim Acosta lost his White House credentials after DDT had a temper tantrum during a press conference and an intern tried to take Acosta’s microphone from him. One version of the event, complete with video, is that Acosta was raising his hand as the intern approached him, and he accidentally touched her arm. The audio clearly indicates that he said, “Pardon me, ma’am.” But Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders drew more attention to the event when she issued a doctored video, possibly from a right-wing site, that makes the action look aggressive. Professionals who examined Sanders’ version said that the action was speeded up and several duplicate frames were added to achieve the effect that conservatives prefer.

In response to Sanders’ false depiction (aka fake news) of the Acosta event, J.K. Rowling, the famous author of Harry Potter books, tweeted a quote from George Orwell’s book 1984:

“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth.”

Even conservative writer Ben Shapiro disagreed with Sanders’ false claims about Acosta and tweeted:

This is not what happened. You could have banned him simply for refusing to abide by any of the normal rules of the press room. No need to state something happened that didn’t.”

In effect, Sanders libeled Jim Acosta by lying about him with actual malice and an intent to ruin his reputation, leaving her open to a lawsuit.

Evidence shows that DDT was a key player in paying off Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to silence their information about having had affairs with DDT. The U.S. Attorneys Office has evidence of DDT’s role, including multiple meetings with media executive David Pecker who used the National Enquirer tabloid to shut up the two women. Pecker paid off McDougal and was reimbursed by DDT’s legal “fixer” Michael Cohen who was then reimbursed by DDT. Cohen directly paid Daniels after Pecker refused to get involved before DDT reimbursed Cohen. DDT also used Pecker to block negative stories about him during his campaign. DDT cannot be indicted for these wrongdoings, but the DOJ can give the information about personal campaign finance violations to House members for possible impeachment–unless Whitaker blocks that from happening.

As a brief respite for the people in the United States, DDT has gone to Paris for a meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron, but not before he railed at CNN reporter Abby Phillips, calling her question on the Russia investigation “stupid,” and threatened more journalists. DDT tweeted he was insulted by Macron’s call for a “true European army” to guard against the U.S. and other potential adversaries and again demanded that Europe “first pay its fair share of NATO.” Macron was discussing DDT’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear arms INF Treaty that Ronald Reagan negotiated with the former Soviet Union in 1987. Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. DDT will leave before the Paris Peace Forum, a gathering of 61 countries this weekend to work toward collective decision-making to avoid another world war.

DDT denied Russia’s claim that he will meet with Vladimir Putin but admitted that they will be meeting in Buenos Aires later this month at the G20 meeting.

Another week, another white man, this time a former Marine, murders people. In Thousand Oaks (CA), a 28-year-old white man shot and killed at least 12 people and injured another 21 before turning the gun on himself. Many of the people in the bar had survived the Las Vegas shooting a year ago where 58 people were killed and 852 injured. The shooting marks the 307th mass shooting in the U.S. of 2018 in 312 days, meaning that mass shootings, defined by four or more people, not including the shooter, being “shot and/or killed” at “the same general time and location,” are an almost daily event in the U.S. Over 12,000 people died from gun-related violence in the US so far this year, and another 24,000+ others have been injured. No one has been killed or injured thus far this year in the U.S. by foreign terrorists. DDT referred to the killer as a “sick puppy.”

The people of Thousand Oaks are further traumatized by the fires sweeping across California that have already burned Paradise, a town of 25,000, and killed nine people.

More news about the ongoing election later, but notable is DDT’s tweet that Arizona might have a new election now that Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) is 20,000 votes ahead of Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) for U.S. senator. If only we had that choice two years ago after the presidential election!

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.

 

May 26, 2017

DDT: Week Eighteen, More GOP Losses

Good news for investors, albeit temporary, is the announcement from U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta that President Obama’s order, the fiduciary rule, will go into effect on June 9 instead of another postponement from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Stock companies and brokers hate the rule that requires them to act in the best interest of their customers. Acosta’s decision caused several stocks to drop because of the industry’s disappointment in not being able to push more expensive products to benefit themselves.

Another failure for DDT: The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate its nation-wide Muslim ban, ruling 10-3  that DDT’s executive order “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.” The Maryland court order blocking the ban remains in place.

The Supreme Court has determined that two North Carolina GOP lawmakers used racial demographics to design two congressional districts. Elena Kagan, author of the majority opinion, described District 12 (below) as “snakelike.” The vote of 5-3 was opposed by John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, and Alito.

AG Jeff Sessions also had to pull back on his official definition of “sanctuary cities” and acknowledged that the federal government has very limited ability to revoke funding. As a judge had earlier ruled, the law only requires governments to share information about immigrants’ citizenship or legal status—nothing else.

Another fight that DDT may lose is a request from the Office of Government Ethics to release all the waivers DDT has provided to former lobbyists hired in the White House or federal agencies so that they can work with former issues they had been involved with or clients. DDT’s executive order stated that he would follow President Obama’s practices to prohibit lobbyists from representing their former clients and issues without waivers, but he told Walter Shaub, the head of the Ethics section, that he won’t sent copies of the waivers. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has refused to provide the waivers.

Mulvaney also has a money problem because taxes are coming in “slower than expected,” meaning that the government could have fewer months before running out of cash. The current projection is October 2, even if some payments are suspended. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged a House committee to raise the debt limit before summer recess. The House Freedom Caucus opposed any increase in the debt limit without further cuts to the budget, meaning that Ryan may have to turn to Democrats.

DDT was elected partly because he promised jobs and used Carrier as one of his examples, saying it was a “100 percent chance” he would save the jobs that might move if he were elected. Carrier just announced that it was cutting 622 workers from its Indianapolis factory.

Loose lips sink ships—or in some cases, submarines. Pentagon officials are extremely upset because DDT told Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on April 29 that two nuclear submarines had been moved towards North Korea. Aircraft carriers don’t need to hide because the U.S. uses them as a show of force, but submarines are hidden as a means of strategic deterrence. According to the Philippine transcript of the call, DDT also told Duterte he was doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem” and “keep up [the] good work; you are doing an amazing job.” Duterte has supported the extrajudicial killing of 9,000 people in less than a year, wants to “slaughter” millions of drug addicts just like Adolf Hitler “massacred” millions of Jewish people, and put his country under martial law. Today Duterte “joked” about his soldiers raping women.

Another leak keeping the U.S. out of the intelligence loop is the naming of Salman Abedi as the recent bomber in Manchester by “U.S. officials.” The UK press kept the name secret because the UK government and Greater Manchester police wanted to make their investigation more effective, but the U.S. ruined the investigators’ plans. Police briefly stopped sharing information about the investigation with anyone in the U.S. until Secretary of State Rex Tillerson apologized. UK Prime Minister announced that she will “make clear” that leaking of sensitive information must stop. That’s at least three big intelligence mistakes in less than a month.

Last week Turkish security guards attacked protesters standing across the street from the country’s embassy in Washington, D.C. while President Recep Erdogan watched from his car. Local police reported that Turkish guards savagely attacked protesters with Erdogan guards shown on video kicking and choking protesters. Yet Turkey criticized “the inability of U.S. authorities to take sufficient precautions at every stage of the official program” and demanded that the U.S. conduct a “full investigation of this diplomatic incident and provide the necessary explanation.” Turkey is also furious with the U.S. over DDT’s decision to arm Kurds to fight ISIS in Syria, maintaining that they are an affiliate of a terrorist organization.

Erdogan has indefinitely extended his dictated “state of emergency,” mandated after last year’s failed coup, until the country achieves “welfare and peace.” The decree permits him to make law without the Parliament of the courts.

DDT’s need to hire a private lawyer reflects the seriousness of the Russian investigation. His choice, New Yorker Marc Kasowitz, is known as a litigator and not a criminal defense lawyer with no background in constitutional cases. His experience with DDT is in civil cases, several of which he has lost—for example, DDT suing an author who claimed that DDT isn’t a billionaire, women accusing him of sexual misconduct, and students at Trump University. Kasowitz also represents Russia’s largest state-owned bank, OJSC Sberbank, which is currently in an open U.S. federal court case.

In other Russia news:

Former CIA Director John Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee that he believes Russia “brazenly” interfered in last year’s presidential election and that he knew of contacts between Trump associates and Russian officials. The interactions were enough for the FBI to investigate a possibility a collusion between the campaign and Moscow. Brennan informed eight senior congressional members last summer–long before the election–that Russia was working to elect DDT as present. He also briefed both President Obama and DDT in January that Vladimir Putin had personally ordered an “influence campaign” targeting the presidential election.

Another revelation is that DDT asked both the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, to publicly deny any collusion between his campaign and Russia. Both refused DDT’s requests. In their failure to understand the independence of intelligence agencies, senior White House officials asked if they could ask Comey to stop his investigation of Michael Flynn, DDT’s former national security adviser.

After refusing to submit subpoenaed materials and pleading the Fifth Amendment, former national security adviser Michael Flynn was found to have lied in his interview for a 2016 security clearance renewal, according to a letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). Flynn told investigators that he was paid by “U.S. companies” when a Russian media propaganda arm, RT, paid him to travel to Russia. The Fifth Amendment, however, does not protect Flynn from incriminatory documents; he could be convicted of criminal charges for withholding any documents. Flynn had discussed a back channel of communication with Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, in order to skip the U.S. national security bureaucracy—like DDT meeting Russian officials in the Oval Office with only Russian media present. During the presidential race, Russian officials bragged that they could use Flynn to influence DDT, causing intelligence officials to try to curb information given Flynn after DDT’s election.

AG Jeff Sessions also failed to disclose his meetings with the Russians when he applied for his security clearance. His excuse was that he was a senator at the time, but a legal expert differs with that opinion. During his confirmation hearing, Sessions testified that he “did not have communication” with the Russians during the campaign and asserted the same lie in an official questionnaire. Later Republicans let him cover himself by amending his testimony. Sessions canceled appearances before two congressional committees this week. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) is now spreading lies about the Sessions’ stories being wrong. In advising DDT to fire James Comey, Sessions also violated two oaths to recuse himself from issues dealing with Hillary Clinton’s emails and with the Russian investigation.

Also under investigation for deliberately manipulating the election through hacking or distributing hacked materials are Republican operative and DDT adviser Roger Stone.

DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is the latest to be caught up in the FBI investigation about Russian collusion. He has been declared a “person of interest” in his relationship with Flynn and his contacts with the Russians. One of his past meetings, not reported on his security clearance forms, was with Sergey Gorkov, the head of Russian-owned development bank Vnesheconombank that is sanctioned by the United States for Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. DDT put Kushner in charge of an extensive number of presidential duties including peace in the Middle East, the opioid solution, a $1 trillion infrastructure plans, recreation of government IT, and the reform of Veterans Affairs. Kushner left DDT’s world visit to return with his wife, Ivanka, to Washington yesterday when the news about his status broke.

 

Earlier, it was reported that Flynn discussed a back channel of communication with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. The world now knows that in December Kushner may have been with Flynn in suggesting that DDT’s transition team and the Russian government use Russia’s diplomatic facilities in this secret communication. Kushner also had far more meetings with Russia officials than earlier reported. (The above graphic is a few weeks old; people may have been added since then.)

In another Kushner “oops,” Jared and his wife, Ivanka Trump, failed to disclose their multimillion-dollar art collection in public financial disclosures. By now, however, that seems like a minor problem for them.

If you question that DDT could be suffering from dementia, you need to read this article.

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