Nel's New Day

April 6, 2019

DDT: Week 115, Part II – Disasters Causing Meltdown

Watching Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ramble on has caused increasing concern among those exposed to his television appearances. [The “meltdown” cover from last summer’s Time may be even more appropriate now.]

This past week, he talked about his father being born in a “wonderful” place in Germany although Fred Trump was born in New York City, the son of a man banished from Bavaria because of draft dodging. DDT’s grandfather was the immigrant, like those who DDT hate and fear. Although DDT’s grandfather became a citizen earlier, he brought his wife back from Europe just three months before DDT’s father was born in 1905. During the same session, DDT talked about the “oranges” of the Mueller report instead of its “origins.” The noise from “windmills” causes cancer, according to DDT. If true, as Stephen Colbert said, everyone in Holland would be dead.

Bad news keeps piling up on him. The new book A Hill to Die On (Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer), released this past week, reveals much about DDT’s contentious relationship with congressional members, and the WaPo published its latest record of DDT’s lies since his inauguration—9,451 as of March 31. That’s an average of almost 12 a day, with a high acceleration rate in the past year.

For the second time recently, Congressional Republicans passed a bill that DDT has promised to veto, a resolution to end U.S. military support for DDT’s Saudi/UAE-Led Coalition’s brutal war on Yemen. The House vote of 247-175 included 16 yes GOP votes. The Senate passed the bill last month with seven Republicans voting for it. That chamber had passed the same resolution last December, but former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) refused to bring it to the floor. A bicameral War Powers Resolution has not passed Congress since the original passage of the 1973 War Powers Act.

DDT also has problems with  his tax returns. His tax firm promised to give ten years of his returns to Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chair of the House Oversight Committee. House Ways and Means Committee Chair, Richard Neal (D-MA), also asked the IRS for six years of DDT’s personal and business tax information, using a law from almost a century ago. DDT’s lawyers claim that Neal has no justification, but another law governing tax return disclosure requires the Treasury secretary to hand over all returns requested by the chairs of congressional committees that oversee taxes. No Treasury secretary has ever refused Congress’ request. Neither Secretary Steve Mnuchin nor the IRS has responded. Mnuchin himself is in trouble: the U.S. Ethics Office—which is much more lax than in the past—won’t certify his 2018 financial disclosure statement because of his possibly shady dealings. Last month, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was also told his disclosure statement couldn’t be certified because of an accuracy.

Although DDT typically dawdles in making appointments for government officials, the Senate confirmed Michael Desmond as the new chief counsel of the IRS on February 27—two weeks after DDT asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to fast-track the process. Desmond has earlier advised the Trump Organization on tax issues before DDT took office and worked with tax counsels for the Trump Organization. Last fall, the Senate confirmed Charles Rettig, owner of a unit in a Trump building and author of an article arguing that DDT should not release his tax returns, as the IRS Commissioner. The old saying “follow the money” has been joined by “follow DDT’s appointments.”

DDT had another tax problem when WaPo discovered that he had failed to pay taxes of $36,200 on his LA golf course where he visited yesterday. An article pointing out that he had delinquent taxes for two different years caused him to pay off.

While DDT talks big about security on the border, he hands out undeserved security clearances to friends and family like candy. Despite DDT’s denials, an 18-year White House security adviser, Tricia Newbold, has testified to the House Oversight Committee about 25 high-level security clearances for Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and others in spite of earlier rejection for blackmail, conflicts of interest, criminal conduct, drug abuse, financial problems, foreign influence, and other red flags. Since DDT overturned these rejections, applicants are no longer required to have credit checks. Newbold reported that her direct manager, Carl Kline, overruled her denials and retaliated against her when she objected, including a 14-day suspension without pay.

Newbold, who has dwarfism, said when she raised concerns, Kline retaliated by placing essential files up high, out of her physical reach. On The Daily show, Trevor Noah called out the “middle school bullies who were put in charge of America’s government” and urged security specialist Tricia Newbold to fight back. Kline has been subpoenaed to testify before the Oversight Committee.

Kushner made over 40 revisions to his original financial disclosures and added millions of previously undisclosed assets, including financial ties to Russia in the months following his appointment as presidential adviser. Public reporting shows that he has an extremely close relationship with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and received financial help from Qatar. Last month, Kushner’s company sought a $1.5 billion loan from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and in 2018, a private equity billionaire leveraged loans for access to the White House. Although Kushner was denied access to top-secret documents last year, he regained his top security clearance in May 2018.

Cummings has not publicly announced the 25 people on Newbold’s list, but the committee prioritized Kushner and eight other current and former officials:

John Bolton: recent interaction with Russian nationals that may not have been reported.

Ivanka Trump: Missed deadline for filing financial reports to the Office of Government Ethics and use of personal email account for government purposes.

Michael Flynn: contacts with foreign officials; misleading information about a conversation with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. that he denied; and secret lobbying campaign on behalf of the Turkish government.

Rob Porter: abuse of two ex-wives.

Sebastian Gorka.

K.T. McFarland: deception to the Senate about knowledge about Flynn’s contacts with Russia.

John McEntee (DDT’s personal assistant for his first year): concerns about finances and gambling. (He is now senior adviser for DDT’s campaign.)

Robin Townley (top aide to Flynn).

In another dismal security risk, a Chinese woman with two passports, four cellphones, a laptop, a hard drive, and a thumb drive containing malware gained access to Mar-a-Lago while DDT’s wife and son were on the premises and he was nearby playing golf. Yujing Zhang lied her way past the Secret Service agents and wasn’t caught until she was approached by a receptionist inside. She told security officials that she wanted to go to the swimming pool and was believed to be the relative of a member named Zhang. Experts have worried about the lack of security at the Winter White House, as DDT calls his resort. In 2017, Mar-a-Lago guests and wait staff surrounded DDT and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as they talked about North Korea’s ballistic test. DDT called the latest problem “a little fluke.”

A third judge has ruled against Wilbur Ross’ citizenship question on the 2020 census as he also faces congressional hearings and a Supreme Court appearance. “Unreasonableness,” “woefully deficient,” and “improper” were just a few of the terms in U.S. District Judge George Hazel’s 119-page opinion. Ross, 81, showed himself so pathetically incapable of testifying that he “declined” to appear before the Appropriations Committee.  He was replaced with an empty chair.

Last fall, DDT preened himself for making a trade agreement with Mexico and Canada to replace NAFTA after his heavy criticism about that agreement during his campaign. His new agreement won’t exist, however, without congressional approval, and on April 19 the International Trade Commission will release its report on the effects of the new NAFTA’s version. Experts predict little positive impact for the U.S. and question whether little change is worth the effort. Even worse could be a negative or mediocre conclusion about DDT’s agreement.

DDT exhibited fear about the loss of his and other GOP congressional 2020 elections by telling House Republicans to be “more paranoid than they are” about vote counting. At the NRCC spring dinner, he suggested the elections that “went Democrat” were rigged:

“I don’t like the way the votes are being tallied… You don’t like it either, you just don’t want to say it because you’re afraid of the press.”

Last November, DDT said without evidence that Florida’s ballots were “massively infected” and talked about “electoral corruption” in Arizona. Before the 2016 election, he said he might not “give up peacefully” if he lost.

DDT’s approval ratings in public polling range around 40 percent, but he would hate even more a private E-score compiled to determine the level of personalities’ appeal for television audiences for marketing executives and advertisers. On over 40 personality and physical attributes, DDT scores high on “aggressive, “mean,” “insincere,” “confident,” and “creepy” but between 0 and 4 percent for “sexy,” “impartial,” “handsome,” and “physically fit.” His overall strong positive appeal is 14 percent compared to his 39 percent of overall strong negative appeal. Tracking stopped in 2015.

March 5, 2019

Life for DDT Gets Worse

Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) run of bad news started with the midterm elections putting the House under Democratic control. In just the last week, he’ faces a world of public investigations, his North Korea summit blew up, his highly knowledgeable former fixer Michael Cohen dished him, and Republicans come out against him, most recently opposing his national emergency. Before that, he failed with government shutdown, trade war with China, and signature “tax reform” bill that gave him bad press, and the new NAFTA doesn’t look good. Robert Mueller’s report may arrive soon, and the House might get DDT’s tax returns. His one good day with all those problems came during his two-hour speech to CPAC, but his appearance, ostensibly stoned, has been ridiculed more than any other “performance” he has given.

On top of that, Jane Mayer’s lengthy—and highly specific—report on DDT’s dependence on Fox network for his information and Fox network’s operation similar to state-owned propaganda media went viral. He even reinforced reporting on the day that the New Yorker essay was published by tweeting about Fox programming at least five times using quotes by hosts Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and Tucker Carlson and guests Devin Nunes and Ari Fleischer. Fox may have told him to lash out at requests for documents from the House Judiciary Committee to 81 people and organizations in Trumpland the day after he said he would cooperate with the investigation. Here are the names; only daughter Ivanka is missing—for now.

DDT tweeted that House Democratic committee chairs are going “stone cold CRAZY” and claims that the people investigating are all “innocent,” seemingly putting Cohen into that mix. Added to DDT’s fury is the investigation into security clearances that he gave his son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka after intelligence vetting turned them down and White House officials refused to push for them. DDT lied about giving them clearances, and Ivanka Trump told ABC News that her father had “no involvement” regarding the clearances. Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Don Beyer Jr. (D-VA) have referred Kushner to the DOJ for investigation because of his false statements on security clearance applications and in public interviews.

Using a 1924 law, the House Ways and Means Committee plans to request DDT’s tax returns. He said he would order Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to refuse, but the law does not permit refusal. Last week, Cohen surmised that the returns are not being audited, the reason that DDT always gave for not releasing them. Cohen explained the reason for DDT not releasing his taxes:

“What he didn’t want is to have an entire group of think tanks that are tax experts run through his tax return and start ripping it to pieces, and then he’ll end up in an audit, and he’ll ultimately have taxable consequences, penalties and so on. I presume that he is not under audit.”

Steve Moore, DDT’s economic adviser during the 2016 campaign, said he advised DDT to “never, ever, ever, ever release his tax returns.” He said that people didn’t care about DDT’s taxes, but a Quinnipiac University poll found that a majority of respondents think DDT should release the returns and Congress should investigate if he doesn’t. Reasons for examining them include conflicts of interest, inappropriate business relationships and/or influence by foreign governments, and the impact of DDT’s 2017 tax cut legislation on his personal finances.

Cohen’s testimony may have been the impetus for New York insurance regulators to subpoena Aon, Trump Organization’s insurance broker, for DDT’s possible fraud from misrepresentation of assets. The materials are due in two weeks.

At the recent summit in Hanoi, DDT said he believed promises from North Korea President Kim Jong-Un and stopped two large-scale military exercises. Kim didn’t know anything about the torture of U.S. resident Otto Warmbier and he wouldn’t do any testing of weapons, according to DDT. Less than a week after DDT returned, U.S. military analysts and South Korean intelligence officials report that before the summit North Korea started rebuilding facilities in Tongchang-ri to launch satellites into orbit and test engines and other technologies for its intercontinental ballistic missile program. North Korea may have other fuel-making facilities as well as fissile materials, nuclear warheads, and missiles in secret locations.

While DDT was being kindly toward Kim, North Korean hackers continued to attack sites such as water utilities, oil and gas companies, and “critical infrastructure companies” in the U.S. and among U.S. allies. Most of the U.S. attacks were against banks and fossil fuel companies near Houston. After over four days of blaming Kim for the summit’s failure, DDT used the Democratic scheduling of Cohen’s testimony before the House as his excuse for failing. That won’t work after people find out that no one can take Kim “at his word.”

Since getting back to the U.S., Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lied about what was said at the summit. National security adviser John Bolton, who gave up over $1 million a year to worry about being DDT’s next punching bag, explained DDT’s comment: “It doesn’t mean that [DDT] accepted as reality; it means that he accepts that’s what Kim Jong Un said.” Yet DDT was clear about believing Kim:

“I don’t think that the top leadership knew about it.”

“I did speak about it, and I don’t believe that [Kim] would’ve allowed that to happen.

The conservative Eugene Register-Guard ran this headline, “Adviser: Trump ‘Gave Nothing Away’ in North Korea Talks,” skipping the word “Says” after “Advisor”—as in “Advisor Says.” Bolton repeatedly said that DDT “gave nothing away. That’s what matters, not my view.” At least he didn’t out and out lie like Pompeo; he just kept answering questions about DDT with “that’s his view.”

A setback for people who believe that Cohen lied is DDT’s payment to him for hush money to Stormy Daniels about her affair with DDT. The New York Times has copies of six of the eleven checks that DDT or his trust wrote while he was in the Oval Office. DDT’s defenders claim that the checks could have been for other purposes, but others close to DDT maintain that he will run for a second term so that he can’t be indicted on this and other crimes. The checks were signed by either DDT or his son Donald Trump Jr. and his company CFO Allen Weisselberg, who will be testifying before the House Oversight Committee. Payments to Cohen were for Daniels to keep her story quiet ($130,000) and for Cohen to control polls to inflate DDT as a businessman ($50,000), to “gross up” ($180,000), to offset Cohen’s taxes for the payments ($180,000), and to provide a bonus ($60,000). DDT said he didn’t know about the payment a month before his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said that DDT reimbursed Cohen.

Former Trump Organization executive vice president Barbara Res said that Weisselberg, to be called for testimony, knows of at least five other hush money conspiracies to hide DDT’s affairs. DDT may have signed the checks.

Republicans are upset about DDT’s administration’s coverup probe into the torturing and dismemberment of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Even DDT’s sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called it “worthless.” Others described it as “miserable,” “a waste of time,” and “a sham.” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) called DDT “in violation of the Magnitsky Act,” the law that requires investigation into the people responsible for the murder. All this happened in the days before DDT wants the Senate to confirm his latest nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the UN.

For almost four years, DDT has fought an off-shore wind power farm near one of his Scotland golf courses because he doesn’t like its appearance. DDT now not only lost his lawsuit in July 2015 but also is now required to pay all legal fees. After other legal challenges, he also agreed to relocate some of the housing at the golf course which has been in the red for at least four years. DDT’s newer Scottish golf course at Turnberry also lost millions of dollars in 2017.

DDT is even in trouble regarding his school records. The headmaster at New York Military Academy was told to bury DDT’s academic records. DDT’s father sent him there for five years because he needed more discipline. The headmaster said that he couldn’t give the records to an influential alumnus as ordered, but he “moved them elsewhere on campus where they could no be released.” The school briefly closed in 2015 because of bankruptcy but reopened after its purchase by a Chinese investor.

Fordham confirmed Cohen’s claim that the school had been threatened about their revealing his grades. DDT bragged that he “was first in my class” at Wharton but doesn’t appear on the dean’s list or any other that would record the top 50 percent of students academically.

DDT, who promised to erase the trade deficit and started a trade war to do it, increased the deficit by 20 percent–$100 billion—since he was inaugurated and added punitive tariffs.

More people believe Cohen than believe DDT, 50 to 35 percent. The man who Jim Jordan, ranking GOP on the House Oversight Committee, called a “pathological liar” has more credibility than the leader of the free world. In addition, two-thirds think that DDT committed crimes before he was elected, and a higher percentage of people believe that he has committed crimes since then than those who think he has not.

Things aren’t going well for DDT.

August 18, 2018

DDT: Week 82 – ‘Full of Sound & Fury’

The feeling of being besieged has driven Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to lash out in all directions with increasingly virulent tweets, statements, and orders. Seething with the report that his beloved military parade would cost $90 million, he accused the Washington, D.C. of inflating the cost before canceling the project. Instead he plans to attend one in Paris. The Pentagon had already postponed the parade until next year because it would have to pay half the price of the parade, scheduled for this November. Instead of putting money into more healthcare for veterans, DDT promised to “buy some more jet fighters.” Lockheed has the F-35s on sale for $91.1 million, giving DDT about $900,000 left over after he gets one “jet fighter.”

As social media tries to control the false information that it spreads, DDT, perhaps worried that lack of false information will affect the fall election, tweeted:

“Let everybody participate, good & bad, and we will all just have to figure it out!”

DDT opposes the decision to suspend Alex Jones’ program for his hate speech. Jones, a good friend of DDT, is known for his conspiracy theories, including the false accusation that no one died at Sandy Hook Elementary School because the dead children were actors.

A huge frustration for DDT during the past week came from the media focus on Omarosa Manigault Newman after the release of her new book, Unhinged,  and the beginning of her releasing damning tapes made during her time with DDT. Furious with Omarosa, DDT called on AG Jeff Sessions to arrest her although he didn’t cite any broken laws. That demand came after DDT’s campaign sued Omarosa, asserting that her new book broke her 2016 confidentiality agreement. He forced people who worked for his campaign or in his White House to sign the NDAs to not “demean or disparage publicly” DDT, his company, or any member of his family. Omarosa has been been accused of a lack of ethics for taping her conversations, especially the one when Chief of Staff took her into the situation Room to fire her, but no one questions that her information is inaccurate.

DDT’s daughter-in-law, Eric’s wife Lara, tried to persuade Omarosa to work for the campaign for a monthly salary of $15,000 if she stopped publication of her book and said only positive things about her time with DDT. The “offer,” which Omarosa taped, raises the question of whether campaign donations can be used to quiet people if it appears to be attached to a job. The DDT campaign has a pattern of this hush money, including employees such as former White House aide John McEntee and Keith Schiller, who got $15,000 a month. Even Fox & Friends thinks that Omarosa has come out on top of the battle. Host Brian Kilmeade claimed that Omarosa “outsmarted” DDT, but he hasn’t said anything about the betrayal of the Fox network. DDT did produce an outrage on the media when he called Omarosa a “dog” and “a crazed, crying lowlife.”

DDT’s biggest war this week came from weaponizing the removal of security clearances. Following threats to strip these clearances from others, even those who don’t have them such as James Comey and Andrew McCabe, DDT took the clearance from former CIA director John Brennan, revealing the information through Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ briefing. She read DDT’s announcement that the reason was Brennan’s “risk posed by his erratic conduct and behavior,” but DDT changed his story by saying that he attacked Brennan because of the “witch hunt” about the Russian scandal. DDT had no justification for revoking the security clearance other than retaliation and the feeling of power that it gave him.

The order from DDT was signed on July 26, 2018, meaning that DDT waited almost three weeks until he used it for a diversion. In this case it was a combination of Omarosa’s book and the Paul Manafort trial that went to the jury this past week. Now he’s “eager” to strip more clearances, according to White House officials, beginning with current Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. Although DDT cannot easily fire people, his removal of security clearances makes people unable to complete the job’s responsibilities. In essence, people who criticize him can lose their jobs.

The conservative press supports DDT’s actions—as it does his other actions—in this case because Brennan has openly criticized DDT’s actions, but current and past officials support him. Retired Navy admiral William McRaven, who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden called DDT’s stripping security clearances “McCarthy-era tactics.” He wrote that he would “consider it an honor” if DDT would also revoke his clearance. Sixty former CIA station chiefs, analysts and operations officers as well as a former director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center wrote “that the country will be weakened if there is a political litmus test applied before seasoned experts are allowed to share their views.” That follows the declaration from 11 former directors and deputy directors of the CIA and one director of national intelligence who called DDT’s action “a political tool.”

DDT also came out in anger against the over 300 newspaper organizations that wrote editorials in opposition to his frequent “mantra that members of the media who do not blatantly support the policies of the current US administration are the ‘enemy of the people,’” as the Boston Globe wrote. It continued, “[In his first year,] he used the word “fake”—as in “fake news,” “fake stories,” “fake media” or “fake polls”—more than 400 times.” Since then, DDT has accelerated his use of these terms. This week, he tweeted about “collusion,” that the media is “pushing a political agenda.” One tweet read, “THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY.”

Outraged at newspapers fighting back against DDT’s constant abuse of the media, conservatives, including former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer, accused the newspapers of a double standard because they criticize Sinclair media for carrying the same message on all its stations. Sinclair forces all its stations to carry identical pro-DDT messages whereas the participating editorials expressing support for free press acted voluntarily.

Also this week, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution sponsored by Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “condemning attacks on the free press.”

The defense in the trial for Paul Manafort, facing 18 charges of tax and bank fraud, rested this week without any witnesses, and the jury began deliberations on Thursday. Angry about the trial, DDT claimed that Manafort “happens to be a very good person” although he repeatedly tried to distance himself from his former campaign manager who worked for him for six months. Two years ago, the news broke about Manafort lobbying to move U.S. opinion toward Russians on behalf of Ukraine’s rulers, and DDT said he had “a crook running my campaign.” At that time, he ordered him fired, in an allegation by Corey Lewandowski. Judge T.S. Ellis III is being guarded by deputy U.S. marshals because he faces death threats. He said, “A thirsty press is essential to a free country.”

In DDT’s war on regulations to give more money to big business, he funded corporations through taking money from people with student loans, failing to protect people from dangerous chemicals, stripping people’s wages by reducing overtime pay rights, putting teenagers into dangerous jobs with long hours, and charging people more money with weakened banking regulations. The primary beneficiaries of these lax regulations are the wealthiest one percent who own 40 percent of the stock market; the top ten percent owns 80 percent. DDT’s latest money-making scheme for the wealthy would permit new uses for the carcinogenic asbestos, such as the out-of-date roofing felt. Russia, the world’s largest asbestos producer is delighted. Russian asbestos producer, Uralasbest, tweeted:

“Donald is on our side! … He supported the head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, who stated that his agency would no longer deal with negative effects potentially derived from products containing asbestos. Donald Trump supported a specialist and called asbestos ‘100% safe after application.’”

The Russian company stamped their product a seal that included DDT’s image and the words “Approved by Donald Trump.” DDT wrote in 1997 that anti-asbestos efforts were “led by the mob” and tweeted in 2012 that the World Trade Center wouldn’t have burned down in the 9/11 attacks if the “incredibly powerful fire retardant asbestos” had not been replaced with “junk that doesn’t (cont).”

DDT failed to effective contribute to the touching tributes to Aretha Franklin after her death this week. In a statement during a Cabinet meeting, DDT introduced his comments by saying that Franklin had “worked for me.” She performed a few times at a DDT casino, but he made her sound like his servant. Others provided a loving respectful homage to Franklin and her achievements. Fox network tried to honor Aretha Franklin, but the station used a photo of Patti LaBelle.

DDT’s latest Gallup poll is 39 percent approval—the same as his average since he was inaugurated. Among Republicans, his approval is 82 percent, down seven points from last week.

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