Nel's New Day

March 20, 2020

DDT: Week 165 – Beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic

With daily press briefings about the state of the country after going without them for almost a year, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is trying to appear somber, knowledgeable, and presidential. Yet he loses his temper and rants against the reporters, and he can’t get out more than one or two sentences without telling a lie. Although almost everything that happens now is tainted by the growing number of cases of covid-19 and the resulting deaths, he still has time to lead the U.S. back into the last century.

In an update from earlier this week, Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) aren’t the only members of Congress who have enriched themselves through the threat of covid-19. Others are Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), James Inhofe (R-OK), and Ron Johnson (R-WI). Johnson, who compared deaths from the virus to those in vehicle accidents, sold all his stock in his family’s company for between $5 million and $25 million. Inhofe has done this before when he purchased shares in the defense contractor Raytheon in 2018 after lobbying Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to increase defense spending. Once that transaction became public, he canceled it. 

George Conway points out, “There is no new Trump.” DDT is still lying to the U.S. population with only one goal—get reelected. And DDT won’t stop lying.

On Wednesday, after Joe Biden beat Bernie Sanders in all three states that voted, DDT smeared Biden at a press briefing. Asked about his lack of credibility, DDT cut off a reporter and railed:

“Who are you asking that question—I see that [ratings are] very high. 95% of the Republican party. We just had a poll that was done by a very reputable group where I’m beating sleepy Joe Biden by a lot in Florida, in the state of Florida and in other states. I don’t really know who you’re talking about.”

By Thursday, DDT was delivering a long rant against the media, and on Friday, DDT attacked Peter Alexander who asked DDT for a message “to Americans who are scared.”  

DDT continued his purge of career professionals by firing Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Travers took the position last August when Joseph Maguire was moved up to director of intelligence. Maguire was recently replaced by unqualified DDT-loyalist Richard Grenell. Travers was reluctant to fire people as Grenell wanted. Acting deputy of the Center, Peter Hall, is supposedly moving back to the National Security Agency. The theory behind fewer people at the Counterterrorism Center is that ISIS and al-Qaeda are much less of a threat.

Dale Cabaniss abruptly left her job as director of the U.S. Government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM), in charge of human resources policy and security clearances, after five months on the job because of DDT’s new head of the Presidential Personnel Office. John McEntee, DDT’s 29-year-old former body man, was fired by former chief of staff John Kelly because McEntee’s gambling habit and allegations of financial crimes caused him to fail a security clearance. Kelly is gone, and DDT-loyalist McEntee has returned into a position of power. He’s hiring his friends, including at least college seniors, to surround him.

With McEntee in control of her staffing, Cabaniss couldn’t send clear, timely messages to agency managers about responses to the health crisis. Guidance about staff teleworking was delayed and vague although health officials wanted people to work from home. Respected for her experience, Cabaniss was seen as restoring moral to her agency with a mission of administering federal health insurance policies, retirement claims, benefits, and workforce policy.

Instead of passing a new surveillance law giving DDT unwarranted spying powers, the Senate unanimously approved a 75-day reauthorization of three provisions. On recess, the House has yet to pass the bill. DDT is considering a veto because he wants to look into “the illegal attempted ‘coup’ of the duly elected President of the United States, and others!” Two senators objected to the lack of privacy that the proposed bill sent them from the House. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has threatened the staff and their family members of the International Criminal Court that is investigating alleged war crimes by U.S. military forces in Afghanistan.

The increase of restrictions around the world is leaving grocery shelves more and more empty, but the growing number of infected people isn’t the only problem that people in the U.S. will have with food shortages. Farmers warn that DDT’s limits on seasonal workers from Mexico will exacerbate the surging problem. Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue’s new policy will lose 60 percent of the necessary laborers. Grain harvesting is largely automated, but farmers need fruit and vegetable pickers.

In another disaster, DDT is threatening dozens of endangered species in the Southeast by proposing genetically engineered crops on wild public lands. The increase of glyphosate and other pesticides harms bees, butterflies, and other pollinators necessary to humans’ food supply and other species in the wildlife refuges. DDT recommends pesticides on 131 refuges in ten states, the Virgin Island, and Puerto Rico—about four million acres.  

The EPA is moving farther away from science by restricting research to be used in public health protection decisions and scientific assessments. It removes thousands of scientific papers by public health scientists keeping data from being public for privacy reasons. Experts fighting covid-19 by treating patients, researching vaccines, and educating the public will have no involvement in stopping the pandemic in the U.S. Members of national health organizations will also need to stop their work with the virus to write comments of protest to the proposal because the EPA gives only 30 days for a response. The proposal covers decisions about vehicle emissions, clean air standards, and clean water protections as well as EPA’s own “state-of-science reports, technology assessments, weight-of-evidence analyses, meta-analyses, risk assessments, toxicological profiles of substances, integrated assessment models, hazard determinations, exposure assessments, or health, ecological, or safety assessments.” The idea for the proposal comes from tobacco lobbyists in the past that helped them control government decisions.

Amid all the virus noise, the media largely overlooked the rocket attack on an Iraqi base housing U.S. troops. Two of them were seriously injured. Last week, the U.S. retaliated against militia blamed for the deaths of one British and two U.S. service members, killing a number of Iraqis. Officials in Iraq have asked the U.S. to stop its unilateral military actions and work with Iraq. Under the shelter of coronavirus news, DDT is pulling troops out of three western Iraqi bases in a retreat from the Iraqi militia. Troops left one base this week with others planned soon.

The Pentagon blames Iran for killings by Iraqi militias, and the U.S. announced more sanctions against Iran.

Early sanctions have denied Iranians medication and supplies as thousands of people are dying from the virus. Iran lacks sufficient testing kits, ventilators, antiviral medicine, and other life-saving supplies.

A major requirement for keeping a job in DDT’s administration is open admiration. VP Mike Pence displays this every day at the press briefings. Another mandate is covering for all DDT’s lies and mistakes. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin gamely tried to explain away DDT’s disastrous Oval Office speech on a Sunday news show when Jonathan Karl asked him about why the market reacted negatively to DDT’s misleading and false statements.

About the market, Mnuchin said, “The stock market is going to go up, it’s going to go down.” In the last month, the Dow has gone down over 10,000 points—one-third of its value and about 650 points above its value on DDT’s inauguration day. As for all the information that DDT got wrong, Mnuchin said, “I don’t think in an Oval Office address you can address every single issue as you’re discussing it….” Asked why he got “things wrong about his own proposals,” Mnuchin replied, “I don’t think he got things wrong at all.” Mnuchin continued to spin.  

DDT is now trying to convince people that he doesn’t care about careening stock markets, but he wants to preserve his former low unemployment rate as a reelection talking point. With businesses rapidly being closed to protect people from the virus, the number of unemployment claims have skyrocketed. DDT asked state labor officials to delay letting anyone know the numbers, to only “provide information using generalities to describe claims levels” until next week. It’s a follow-up to DDT’s saying he wanted to leave all the people on the ship because “I like the numbers where they are.” With DDT, it’s all about numbers that make him look good. Politico calls it “scoreboard obsession”—always keeping score.

In one of the biggest monthly drops, economic confidence dropped from 41 to 22, down almost 20 points. Even the Republicans’ confidence went down 11 points.

United States covid-19 cases: 19,772 with 389 new ones today; deaths: 279 with 23 more today.

January 25, 2020

DDT: Week 157 – Outside the Impeachment Bubble

Historic anniversaries this week:

January 21: Inauguration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in 2016.

January 22: Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade permitting women to have abortions up the third month and in danger of being overturned.

January 23: Supreme Court decision in Citizens United that gave candidates $2.9 billion of dark money from Super PACs to influence elections with unlimited funds

This week DDT also announced he plans to cut Medicare and Social Security if he is re-elected because of his “great economy”:

“We have tremendous growth, we’re going to have tremendous growth. Next year, it will be towards the end of the year, the growth is going to be incredible….”

On the same day, the Dow dropped over 150 points. Economic growth is far below DDT’s projections for his tax cuts benefiting the wealthy and big business—not yet 3 percent–and the deficit spiked to $1 trillion. For next year, the Chicago Federal Reserve projects 1.9 percent economic growth, but DDT hopes to cut taxes again for more personal benefit. 

White House officials prompted DDT to cover up his statement that alienates his older voters, and DDT came out with the falsehood that Democrats will “destroy your Social Security” and that he will “save it!” Democrats created the program and spent almost a century protecting it. DDT already proposed tens of billions of dollars in Social Security cuts, and Republicans believe that “saving” Social Security can be done by “cutting” Social Security.

In his speech at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland), DDT called climate scientists “foolish fortune tellers,” “alarmists,” who want “absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives.” After basing his two campaigns for president on fear, he said, “Fear and doubt is not a good thought process.” Then he repeated his lie that the U.S., which has seen worsening air quality, has “the cleanest air in the world.” DDT spoke an hour after 17-year-old Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, at a conference concerned with climate change. He dodged an onstage question-and-answer session after the speech.

The conference focus was on climate change.

Although red states in the South won’t acknowledge the existence of climate change, they will receive billions of dollars for “natural” disasters made far worse by the human-caused changes in climate. These states need a reason to get the money so they use terms such as “changing coastal conditions” and the “destabilizing effects and unpredictability” of being hit by multiple storms in a short time. A $16 billion fund will be distributed to prepare for future natural disasters in states most affected by disasters from 2015 to 2017—GOP-oriented states along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Of the eight states fitting the criterion, only California didn’t vote for DDT. Half the money was assigned to Puerto Rico, but DDT withheld the funding because of “corruption.”

In support for DDT’s climate denial, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that activist Greta Thunberg should go to college to learn about economics after she called for investors to take their money out of fossil fuel stocks. Mnuchin, known as the “foreclosure king,” made his money from unethical mortgage practices. Climate economist Gernot Wagner, who has gone to “college”—Harvard and Stanford—presented a letter from Larry Fink, chief executive of Blackrock, the world’s largest asset management firm. Fink announced his company’s divestment of companies centered on fossil fuels and contribute to climate change. Wagner said that this decision came from the “scenario of having fossil fuels go the way of tobacco that makes fossil fuel execs the most nervous.” Divestment is economics, not politics.  

In his continued assault on the environment and people’s health, DDT has overturned or begun overturning 95 environmental regulations and is especially fixated on building pipelines. The oldest environmental law, created during Richard Nixon’s first year in the presidency as a response to the Santa Barbara Oil Spill, has been called the Magna Carta of environmental law. NEPA helps guarantee that the government considers development affects on climate and the affected local community by covering infrastructure such as highways and fossil fuel exploration. DDT’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposes horrific changes to NEPA after working for 2 years with those it considers is stakeholders, industry groups like electrical utilities, the American Petroleum Institute, and the American Gas Association. New rules eliminate considering climate change in environmental impact reports, allow companies to conduct their own reviews, and limit public input. The rule changes, like all others, has a time for public comment, and like all other DDT rule changes, all public comments will be ignored if they disagree with DDT’s plans to help big business.

In another environmental change, DDT plans to pollute 60 percent of waterways in the United States by removing protections for streams, wetlands, and groundwater. Winners are real estate developers (including golf courses), fossil fuel producers, and farmers; losers are the rest of the people in the nation. His changes affect not only smaller bodies of water but also the Chesapeake Bay, Mississippi River, and the Puget Sound. Not only is protection set up by President Obama in 2015 rescinded but also protections from the 1972 Clean Water Act are also eliminated. The chemical discharged into all these bodies of water will then move into larger and larger bodies of water. Wetlands can no longer perform their jobs of filtering surface water, protecting against floods, and providing wildlife habitat.

Even DDT-appointed scientists disagree. The EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board determined that DDT’s rule ignores science with “no scientific justification” for the devastating impact on the health of all water systems—and people.

DDT’s earlier deregulations have been on everything from chemicals in drinking and shower water to sprays on food and into the air. One Indiana town already experienced an outbreak of childhood cancers from chemicals. His rule changes also block the production of food. In 2018, the EPA allowed “emergency” approvals to spray the insecticide sulfoxaflor, highly toxic to bees, on over 16 million acres of crops that attract bees, vital to pollinating one-third of the food supply as well as other plants that animals need. The last decade has shown a drastic loss in the bee population.

Also at Davos, DDT tried to cover up his statement that “no Americans were harmed” when Iran retaliated to DDT’s assassination of Iranian leader Qassem Soleimani by firing over a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi air bases where U.S. forces were housed. To avoid combat, DDT said that he wouldn’t counter-attack Iran because “we suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.” Yet 11 U.S. service members were sent to hospitals for treatment for concussions because of the strike, and more troops were transported out of Iraq for medical treatment and evaluations in Germany. The Pentagon said that more military members may need to be transported from Iraq in the next few days. Caught in his lies, DDT said that he “heard they had headaches and a couple of other things … not very serious.” To DDT, brain damage is far less severe than missing limbs. Thus far, 34 U.S. service members have been diagnosed with concussions and traumatic brain injuries after the airstrikes; 17 are back on active duty, according to the Pentagon.

In a speech to his donors at Mar-a-Lago, DDT admitted Soleimani presented no “imminent” threat to the U.S. and killed him because he said “bad things” about the U.S. DDT had planned to kill Soleimani months earlier because Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former national security adviser John Bolton wanted a push-back against Iran. Once the murder was a fait accompli, White House, State Department, and Pentagon officials struggled to justify what DDT had ordered while other officials and the president daily changed the rationale to hide DDT’s sole concern about the killing’s impact on his election. Based on all the available intelligence, DDT’s “presentation” to private citizens, one he has not made to lawmakers, deserted his “rationale” for killing Soleimani of “imminent” threats on four U.S. embassies to just his being a “bad person.  

Officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are so afraid of DDT that they asked Senate and House Intelligence committees to stop public hearings on the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment. DDT has prevented these hearings since he moved into the Oval Office.

DDT also threatened Iraq that it could lose access to its central bank account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York if U.S. troops were expelled from U.S.-occupied Iraq. That account is used for oil revenue and payment for government salaries and contracts. He also threatened to end waivers allowing Iraq to purchase Iranian gas for generators supplying much of Iraq’s power.

At Davos, DDT said that “we have to protect Thomas Edison—we have to protect all of these people that came up with originally the light bulb, and the wheel.” The message was that these inventors are still alive and that someone from the U.S. invented the wheel.

January 12, 2020

The Messiah Keeps Failing

Televangelist Jim Bakker told his audience that “Trump is a test whether you’re even saved. Only saved people can love Trump.” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has now been raised to the level of Jesus. Here are a few of this week’s actions connected to the evangelists’ new Messiah.

Taxpayers have funded the DOJ for over two years to investigate the conspiracy theory regarding corrupt in the Clinton Foundation The inquiry to satisfy conservatives is over. The investigation found nothing in contrast to the discovery of massive corruption in DDT’s “charity” foundation. It’s the 1990s all over—nothing there. Now DDT is hoping for “better” results from the DOJ investigation into the origins of the FBI’s 2016 examination into a tie between DDT’ campaign and Russia.

DDT’s fixer, AG Bill Barr, may be the subject of an investigation after the New York City Bar Association asked Congress to investigate Barr for making the DOJ and its prosecutors as “political partisans willing to use the levers of government to empower certain groups over others.” Barr has spoken about the progressives’ “campaign to destroy the traditional moral order” and promised to use the DOJ to resist “forces of secularization.” He criticized DAs from large cities “who style themselves as ‘social justice’ reformers, who spend their time undercutting the police, letting criminals off the hook, and refusing to enforce the law,” according to a letter from 450 450 former federal prosecutors working in GOP and Democratic administrations.” Barr also misrepresented DOJ reports to protect DDT and manipulated the agency for the same end.

After DDT gave states permission to take Medicaid coverage from people who don’t meet work requirements, several red states took advantage of another way to punish the poor. Now, six states—Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, and Virginia—have reversed or suspended these increased restrictions because of legal challenges and coverage losses. Maine governor Janet Mills said that more people were uninsured with no greater participation in the workforce. Arizona cited “the evolving national landscape.” Kentucky has a new Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, who campaign against the new work plan, protecting health coverage for almost 100,000 low-income state residents. Michigan’s new Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, urged a reversal of the work requirement which could cause up to 183,000 Michiganders to lose coverage because of its highly restrictive statute. Arkansas may be take coverage from people who should be exempt by their law because almost 25 percent of the target population lost coverage in the first seven months and work requirements haven’t helped people find jobs. Federal courts have already vacated work requirement waivers in three states because they fail to meet the central objective of Medicaid.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wants to keep hiding how taxpayer money is being spend on DDT when he leaves the White House and on DDT’s family—at least after the 2020 election. This agreement with Congress is connected to Mnuchin’s attempt to move the Secret Service DHS to Treasury. DDT complained about the $96 million cost for President Obama’s travel in eight years, an amount possibly equaled during DDT’s first year. The White House has refused to divulge any travel expenses for over two years.

DDT may have been able to pardon possible war criminal retired Army Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn before his murder trial, but Lt. Gen. Francis M. Beaudette, commander of U.S. Army Special Operations, won’t reinstate Goldsteyn’s Special Forces tab. The decision now goes to an administrative panel who will also consider reinstatement of Golsteyn’s Distinguished Service Cross.

E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit against DDT after his insults about her charges of sexual assault may continue, and a judge okayed the discovery process. DDT had said he was innocent because Carroll isn’t his “type.”

Gerrymandering is one of the reasons that Republicans have taken over the majority of states and then elected DDT through the Electoral College. Although the Supreme Court sometimes blocks gerrymandering if it’s based on racial reasons, the conservative justices will support gerrymandering if Republicans rig the system for the GOP. One person proving the lengths to which Republicans go has released a cache of computer information to show how her deceased father, Thomas Hofeller, drew a vast quantity of maps to make all districts easier for Republicans to win, often to take voting rights from minorities. Stephanie Hofeller has now posted all the files she has on the website thehofellerfiles.com, linking to a Google Drive of Hofeller’s emails and documents tied to his gerrymandering work.

Some of the files went public earlier through court filings and news reports, and Stephanie Hofeller already released a document connected to DDT’s failed attempt to add a citizenship question to the Census, another method of trying to add GOP districts to control states’ legislatures, House membership, and the presidential election. Hofeller’s 2015 studies shows that adding the question “would be advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” That discovery caused justices to block the question on the Census.

After Stephanie Hofeller discovered her father had died, she collected his belongings, including hard drives and USB sticks. She gave them to the government watchdog Common Cause that used the information in a North Carolina case about the state illegally drawing districts to favor Republicans. 

Common Cause won its case last fall, a case that may influence anti-gerrymandering lawsuits in other states. Thirteen state Constitutions require elections to be “free and equal,” five more require them to be “free and open,” and eleven others require them to be “free,” offering significant opportunities for other state Constitutional challenges to partisan.” North Carolina legislature is required to redistrict much of the state Senate and House maps with the requirements that they have fairly equal populations, be contiguous and compact, and stick to county groupings. In addition, districts must consider existing municipal boundaries and not consider race. The ruling also mandates compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act.  

Unfortunately, the court told the GOP General Assembly to draw new maps which were still biased for Republicans. Soon after, the Wake County Superior Court ordered the start of candidate filing. Because dates for the primary elections could not be changed, the current gerrymandered districts be used for the 2020 elections.

Losing a question about citizenship on the Census, DDT has persuaded DHS to share government data so that the Census Bureau can get this information for everyone in the U.S. His goal is to redraw districts based on the number of eligible voters instead of residents, as required by the Constitution. This method would also benefit Republicans and non-Hispanic white people. DHS is releasing information that cannot be obtained with the person’s consent or a waiver from the DHS secretary. Latinx community groups are suing the administration because of DDT’s new plan. Another reason for lawsuits is that the process may not produce accurate data.

DDT is still on the campaign trail, and his speeches keep getting longer with more lies. At over two hours, the December 18 speech had 120 fact-free declarations, 67 percent of the total statements. In his most recent speech, DDT focused on lies about Iran and Ohio’s economy. He’s still calling for the audience to chant “lock her up” about Hillary Clinton, apparently not understanding that she is not a 2020 presidential candidate.

DDT is refusing to comply with a court order to release 40 pages of emails between Robert Blair, top aide to acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and a member of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, about the freeze on Ukraine’s congressionally mandated military aid package. The 300 pages of emails already released show the growing tension between the Pentagon and the White House in late August and early September.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is calling for changes to the Senate impeachment rules, a pattern that the Republicans have used for all their wins when they are in the majority. Chances of changes are unlikely because 67 votes are necessary for revising rules amenable to Republicans. By now DDT wants to cancel the impeachment trial. His tweets today show that he’s increasingly obsessed with impeachment, moving closer to panic.

Disappointment at the low December job increase of 145,000 caused the stock markets to drop. The average monthly jobs gains for 2019 were 176,000, a drop from 223,000 in 2018. Average hourly earnings rose by a mere 0.1 percent in December to make the annual increase 2.9 percent. This increase is approximately equivalent to inflation, and much of it comes from minimum wage increases in a few states. Economists say wages are not growing as fast as they should be, especially for those who aren’t seeing a boost from state and local minimum wage increases.

More jobs were created in the last 34 months of the Obama Administration (7.7 million or 227,000/month on average) than the first 34 months of the Trump Administration (6.1 million or 178,000/month on average through November 2019. This total is the smallest since 2011.

September 24, 2019

Ukraine: DDT’s Road to Impeachment

A new Nixon era has been introduced: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that six committees will begin a formal impeachment inquiry of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in response to allegations that he tried to enlist a foreign power for his own political gain. The impeachment committee process against Nixon, lasting almost eight months, was completed over 25 years ago at the end of July with recommendations for articles of impeachment for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress. Nixon resigned less than two weeks later.

Pelosi directed the chairs of the committees investigating DDT to send their best cases for DDT’s impeachable offenses to the Judiciary Committee to lay the groundwork for articles of impeachment. That committee’s investigation already focused on Robert Mueller’s findings and DDT’s personal profits from state and foreign governments’ spending. An inquiry is the first step to a vote to charge DDT with high crimes and misdemeanors. Before Pelosi’s announcement, 149 House Democrats and one Independent, formerly a Republican, called for DDT’s impeachment; the number has increased since then.

Pelosi said:

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections…

“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution. The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”

The impeachment impetus came from allegations that DDT violated the law in his refusal to release a whistleblower’s complaint about DDT’s “promises” to a foreign country and his pressure on Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden for corruption while withholding almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine to fight Russian aggression.

The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee entered the fray by inviting the whistleblower to a closed session by Friday and interviewing the intelligence inspector general who wanted to release the complaint to Congress as required by law. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) unexpectedly permitted a vote on Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) consent resolution to release the complaint to the Intelligence Committee that unanimously passed.

VP Mike Pence’s complicity in DDT’s apparent extortion and bribery plot comes from the transcript of his press conference in Poland when Pence said that he had talked to Zelensky about DDT’s “financial support in great detail.” Pence added that DDT “had me make clear, we have great concerns about issues of corruption.” Over three weeks ago, Pence spread the same story that DDT and Rudy Giuliani are trying to promote.

DDT’s shifts about Ukraine keep dribbling out: 

  • DDT said he didn’t talk to Zelensky about Joe Biden.
  • DDT said he talked to Zelensky about corruption but not Biden.
  • DDT said he “might” have talked about Biden in the “beautiful conversation with Zelensky”
  • DDT said that he talked about the $250 million military aid in the conversation but didn’t connect it to Biden.
  • DDT forgot to mention that he gave Ukraine an extra $140 million after talking with Zelensky about investigating Biden; that information came from Zelensky’s announcement. 
  • DDT said, “Who wouldn’t speak to your son? Of course, you spoke to your son.” [Evidently DDT talked to his son about the June 2016 meeting with Russia to get dirt on political opponent Hillary Clinton.] 
  • DDT said he connected the money designated for Ukraine to the talk about corruption: “Why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?”
  • DDT said he didn’t pressure Zelensky to investigate in exchange for the money, but that if “a Republican ever did what Joe Biden did, if a Republican ever said what Joe Biden said, they’d be getting the electric chair right now.” [Actually, an investigation exonerated Biden of any wrongdoing, but DDT isn’t as lucky. DDT typically projects his behavior and crimes onto others. DDT’s only concern with “corruption” in Ukraine has been about Joe Biden.]
  • DDT told budget officials to block military aid for Ukraine three days before his telephone conversation with Zelensky and ordered officials to tell lawmakers that the delays were an “interagency process” with no additional information.
  • DDT said he didn’t tell anyone to withhold the funding to help Ukraine fight Russian aggression. (He did.)
  • DDT said he did withhold the funding but because NATO countries didn’t give Ukraine money. (They already are.)
  • DDT said he might give the telephone call transcript to a “respected source” so “everyone will say” his conversation with Zelensky was perfectly fine, much like Nixon’s offer to give his audio recording to a hard-of-hearing conservative senator for a summary.
  • DDT said that he will release the full transcript to the public tomorrow.

A timeline of the events in this debacle.

After Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) met with Zelensky in early September, he reported that Ukraine’s president“directly” expressed concerns that “the aid that was being cut off to Ukraine by the president was a consequence” of his unwillingness to launch an investigation into the Bidens. Murphy said that any demand from a U.S. president provides “an implicit threat” with “consequences.”

In mid-August, lawmakers discovered that acting chief of staff and budget director Mick Mulvaney took control of the Ukrainian aid from the Defense and State departments in a possibly illegal action that blocked money authorized by Congress. At the same time, the whistleblower filed a complaint about DDT and Ukraine to Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is covering for DDT, avoiding answers about the telephone call with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press and with Jake Tapper about the difference between business dealings for Biden’s son and DDT’s family. Mnuchin said that following federal law in releasing the whistleblower complaint to Congress would “set a terrible precedent” with the current administration.

DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who claimed he was looking for “dirt on Biden,” claimed that the State Department sent him to talk to Zelensky’s right-hand man, Andriy Yermack. In doing so, he might avoid prosecution under the Logan Act which criminalizes a private citizen’s attempt to intervene without authorization in disputes or controversies between the U.S. and foreign governments. His statements leave him open to prosecution for bribery and extortion conspiracy because he has no immunity. The Hobbs Act defines extortion as “obtaining property from another, with his consent, under color of official right,” according to Barbara McQuade. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act criminalizes the act of a U.S. citizen to corruptly offer “anything of value” to a foreign official to retain business or influence an official decision. Giuliani clearly acts on the part of DDT to persuade Ukraine to “investigate” a political opponent, illegal under federal law that blocks a person from soliciting, accept, or receiving a “contribution or donation of money or other thing of value” from a foreign national in connection to a U.S. election and prohibits a foreign national from the same act. Damaging information fits the definition of a “thing of value.”

Giuliani’s stories change as swiftly as those from DDT:

  • Last week, Giuliani said, “I did what I did on my own, and then I told [Trump] about it afterwards. Because I’m his lawyer.”
  • Over the weekend, Giuliani told the Washington Post, about DDT, “I don’t do anything that involves my client without speaking with my client.”
  • Monday, Giuliani told Sean Hannity, about his meeting with Yermack, “I wasn’t operating on my own. I was operating at the request of the State Department.”

Giuliani is left hanging out to dry. DDT asked Zelensky eight times to talk to Giuliani, and the State Department said that that it didn’t ask him for help:

“Mr. Giuliani is a private citizen and acts in a personal capacity as a lawyer for President Trump. He does not speak on behalf of the U.S. Government.”

On Sunday, however, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he approved of Giuliani “inserting himself in foreign affairs” and pressing Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden, possibly encouraging Giuliani to break the law.

Because the law does not designate what to do if the DNI violates the law by not releasing the complaint, experts think that the IG, who wants to provide Congress with the complaint, is in charge of delivering the complaint. Jesselyn Radack, a national security lawyer, said that “the DNI cannot countermand the inspector general’s determination.” The DNI, however, consulted the DOJ, another violation of the law, whose opinions are “considered to be binding.” Employees of the executive branch can’t be prosecuted for not doing what the White House demands, but they can be fired, according to a former DOJ official.

Repubicans argue that they don’t know the facts but that DDT’s actions with Ukraine aren’t wrong because the people who want to know the facts are speculating. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) claimed that DDT didn’t talk to Zelensky about Joe Biden—after DDT said that he talked to Zelensky about Biden. The media has the same confusion about how to defend DDT after he admits to extortion by saying “So what if I did?” Republicans and DDT have spread around the blame—Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, Ukraine, the whistleblower, the media—or just saying that DDT did nothing wrong by trying to blackmail Ukraine. It’s all part of the coverup pattern for DDT’s sole concerns, his reelection in 2020.

Failing to stop Pelosi’s impeachment plan by offering to release the transcript of the Zelensky telephone call, DDT called the Speaker to “work something out” with “this whistleblower complaint.” She said, “Tell our people to obey the law.” He should have listened to aides who told him not to call Zelensky.

May 24, 2019

DDT: Week 122 – One Track Trump

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has had what might be his worst week since he was inaugurated. In retaliation, he has expanded the powers of his fixer AG Bill Barr to use the entire intelligence for investigation of his investigation and declassify any information within the intelligence communityhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/barr-could-expose-secrets-politicize-intelligence-with-review-of-russia-probe-current-and-former-officials-fear/2019/05/24/58f822f8-7e2f-11e9-8bb7-0fc796cf2ec0_story.html?utm_term=.aa26591d6ba7  Barr is comfortable being selective about the release of information to put anyone in a bad light if they don’t 100-percent support DDT, and the end result can be the deaths of people in the U.S. intelligence world as Barr outs them to garner favor with DDT. The man in the Oval Office has proved that he cannot keep important information secret.

In another dangerous move, DDT plans to destroy the media with charges of treason under the Espionage Act against Julian Assange. Two prosecutors involved in the case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He would be charged for publishing information about the actions taken by the U.S. government, until now protected by the First Amendment. Almost 50 years ago, a Supreme Court case protected the press in the Pentagon Papers, but DDT wants to overturn that. In its charges, the U.S. is trying to interpret the Espionage Act as any form of communication. https://truthout.org/video/julian-assanges-attorney-decries-espionage-charges-as-threat-to-press-freedom/  Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union said,

“For the first time in the history of our country, the government has brought criminal charges against a publisher for the publication of truthful information.”

If Assange is convicted guilty under the Espionage Act, I could be convicted of reprinting information that the government considers negative to them.

DDT’s week included two big losses in court when two separate judges permitted his tax returns and some of his financial information to be given to the House because of its subpoenas. Last Monday, accountants at Mazars USA were ordered to turn over eight years of DDT’s tax returns to the House Oversight Committee. In the past, Mazars flagged DDT’s financial statements because of his flagrant lies including ten non-existent stories to Trump Tower and 800 acres at his Virginia vineyard. If DDT appeals the ruling within seven days, the case goes to the D.C. Circuit Court led by Chief Judge Merrick Garland, the same judge who McConnell prevented from any hearings for almost a year after President Obama nominated him for the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, another judge ruled that Deutsche Bank and Capital One should turn over financial documents related to DDT and his businesses after House Democrats’ subpoenas. The judge disagreed with DDT’s argument that the demands for documents lacked a legitimate legislative purpose and declared that the subpoenas “are clearly pertinent.” Wells Fargo and TD Bank, two of nine subpoenaed institutions, have already turned over information to the House Financial Services Committee. Others are Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase.

New York State legislature passed a law to turn over DDT’s state tax returns—similar to his federal ones—to the House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee, and Joint Committee on Taxation for any “specified and legitimate legislative purpose.” Richard Neal, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, still wants DDT’s federal returns to investigate “the mandatory presidential audit program at the I.R.S.” The New York law is broad enough that DDT may not be able to successfully fight it.

Another New York bill passed in its General Assembly could hamper DDT: state prosecutors would be permitted to pursue people convicted of federal crimes who receive presidential pardons for federal crimes for the same crimes in the state. These crimes could involve DDT through his Foundation, bank dealings, NRA’s money laundering from Russia for DDT’s campaign, and other DDT donors. DDT is also connected to several other scandals when a private citizen in New York.

By Thursday morning, DDT had a meltdown, refusing to have a previously-planned meeting about infrastructure with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In a press conference, DDT claimed that he called off the meeting because Pelosi was talking about “the i-word,” but the conference looked preplanned because of the optics. Pelosi had met with the Democratic caucus to talk them out of impeachment. He became more enraged after Pelosi said that he was “engaged in a coverup.” A day later, Pelosi called for a family intervention and said that “he flipped yesterday” because he was “crying out for impeachment.”

DDT furiously declared he will not work with Democrats on any legislature while investigations of his campaign, finances and foreign ties continue. According to DDT, he varies from former presidents by being incapable of running the United States while he is being investigated. As Stephen Colbert described his blackmailing comment, “My way or no highways.” In the midst of his anger, he admitted he knew about the Trump Tower meeting in which a Russian lawyer offered Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign members “dirt” on Hillary Clinton to help DDT’s campaign, confessing that he had lied about his ignorance.

In his angry speech, DDT warned that a Republican Congress might impeach a Democratic president and followed up with the statement that “we can’t allow that to happen.” That actually happened 20 years ago—impeach being an investigation. While Bill Clinton was investigated for almost eight years with an impeachment trial in 1998-99, he continued to negotiate in good faith with Republicans throughout the entire process. Later he called up all his aides in front of the television cameras and ordered them to testify to his calmness.

Because conservatives cannot attack House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on any credible issues, they smear her through such methods as distorting video of her—in this case, slowing down a video 75 percent to make her speech sound slurred. After media outlets, including Fox, reported on the doctored video, DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani described Pelosi as having a “bizarre” speech pattern immediately before he called for “the integrity of … government.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin continues to maintain the IRS is not required to give up DDT’s tax returns, but a confidential IRS legal memo declares that the House is entitled to receive these unless DDT declares executive privilege in hiding them. The memo states that Mnuchin cannot withhold the information is “statutory conditions are met.” The 10-page document explains who and why Congress can access tax returns and how the provision has been interpreted throughout the decades. Even executive privilege may not be sufficient for DDT to hide his tax returns.

The latest DDT associates to receive subpoenas from House Democrats are his former communications adviser Hope Hicks, who said she told “white lies” for DDT, and White House counsel assistant Annie Donaldson. These subpoenas came on the heels of White House counsel Don McGahn’s refusal to comply with his subpoena

By mid-May, DDT was facing at least 29 investigations: 10 federal criminal investigations, 8 state and local investigations, and 11 House investigations.

The DOJ has also offered to give up more of the redacted Mueller report and underlying information to the House Intelligence Committee in exchange for its not enforcing a subpoena against Barr although there is no timeline.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson secretly appeared for seven hours before the House Foreign Affairs Committee last Tuesday to give voluntary testimony. His statements included Russian President Vladimir Putin “seized every opportunity to push what he wanted” and far out-prepared DDT for the meeting in Germany. DDT has always bragged about the lack of importance to prepare for meetings. Tillerson also discussed the inadequacy of DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has aligned himself with the murderous Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to negotiate for peace between Palestine and Israel. Asked to describe Trump’s values, Tillerson said, “I cannot.” http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/trump-isnt-helping-himself-his-latest-shot-tillerson?cid=eml_mra_20190523  In refuting Tillerson’s statements, DDT said:

“I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!”

DDT looks to Putin for validation and brags about how the U.S. is doing with its foreign policy—verging on war with Iran and Venezuela, in opposition to Russia, while failing to denuclearize North Korea.

During eight months beginning on the day of DDT’s election, Michael Cohen, DDT’s former fixer, communicated 1,180 times through telephone and text with Andrew Intrater, the CEO of  U.S. money-management firm Columbus Nova LLC controlled by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Reports show that Columbus paid Cohen over $500,000 after the election. He also exchanged communication and was paid $300,000 on a $1.8 million contract to help Kazakshstan’s BTA Bank JSC. An investigation show that Cohen was involved in persuading White House officials to lift sanctions on Russians in exchange for payment through Essential Consultants, LLC, a company he set up in October 2016.

Tomorrow, DDT retreats to Japan for some positive attention after the stress of his past week. Officials said that the trip is light on substance while DDT is wined (Coked?) and dined. One of DDT’s problems is his rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership while Japan moved ahead to liberalize the market access for beef, pork, and other agricultural products for Australians, Canadians, and the EU through the Eu-Japan trade deal. That means higher tariffs for U.S. exports. At least DDT has the “Trump Cup,” a new trophy he will award to the winner of the first Sumo wrestling tournament of the new Japanese imperial era.

May 6, 2019

Back to the Swinging Doors of DDT’s Administration

People keep moving in an out of the administration:

Stephen Moore is the latest person to be fired before hired. Once a recommendation by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) alongside Herman Cain for the Federal Reserve Board, he lasted longer than Cain. DDT said that he had pulled his name, but two hours earlier Moore had claimed that DDT was “full speed ahead” and that Moore is “all in.” The same thing happened to Cain who was positive that he was the nominee until DDT’s tweet told a different story. For the past month, Moore complained about a “sleaze” campaign that cited his writings from years ago. Yet the day before DDT dumped him, he talked about higher wages for women than for the “breadwinner” causing the “family instability.” Moore has much more going against him currently than his lack of experience, ignorance, racism, and misogyny. His leadership of the Koch-backed ALEC proved his austerity and anti-labor positions promoting income inequality, stagnant incomes, and suppressed wages.Ten years ago, Moore said, “I’m not even a big believer in democracy.”

Like Nixon, DDT is trying to politicize the Federal Reserve Board to lower interest rates and get re-elected. Nixon got his wish in a booming economy, but his scheme led to double-digit inflation.

Oil lobbyist David Bernhardt lasted four days without being investigated after he was confirmed as Interior Department Secretary from Senate Republicans. This coming week, both his investigator and the agency’s top lawyer face Senate confirmation hearings for their posts. The lawyer, who formerly advised the Koch brothers, advised both Bernhardt and his predecessor, Ryan Zinke, regarding legal and ethical issues as well as serving as chief public records officer. This connection erases any separation between politics and Freedom of Information in an agency that works hard to hide their actions. The lawyer said his “job is to protect the Secretary.”

Bernhardt is being investigating for involvement in policies affecting former clients. The Department admitted that Bernhardt’s staff deliberately failed to record his controversial meetings with representatives of fossil fuel, timber and water interests on his public calendar by citing “internal protocol.” They also confirmed he used a personal itinerary overwritten by his scheduling staff after denying that it happened for several months. Many entries were simply described as “internal” or “external.” An agency officer told Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chair of the Oversight Committee, that Bernhardt’s calendar was “deleted at the end of the day.” These practices also violate federal record laws. Later a Department spokeswoman said these practices didn’t exist.

The investigation in the Interior Department includes a total of six of DDT’s appointees who may have conflicts of interest by engaging with former employers or clients about the business of the Department. These include Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech, White House liaison Lori Mashburn, three top staffers at the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, and the department’s former energy policy adviser. The Assistant Secretary kept interacting with his former employer, a conservative think tank, after he joined the Interior Department to discuss pending lawsuits that were settled in his former employer’s interests. Another investigation concerned a former lobbyist for the NRA who participated in issues about his former clients after he joined the Department. He also got recreational shooting opened up in the Sonoran Desert National Monument.

Mark Morgan is DDT’s pick for the head of ICE. He supports DDT’s wall on the southern border and denied that children were held in “cages.” Earlier this year, DDT has named Ronald Vitiello for the position but dropped him, saying that “we’re going in a tougher direction.” Matthew Albence, currently acting ICE director, had said that immigration detention is like “summer camp.” A former senior official said, “Matt never met an undocumented immigrant that he wouldn’t deport.”

Morgan is a good match for Kevin McAleenan, new acting DHS secretary, who promoted family separation to “protect families and children,” even separating legal asylum seekers at legal ports of entry. Last December, McAleenan broke the law by failing to notify Congress with 24 hours of the deaths of two children. Then he forced migrant families to sleep underneath an El Paso bridge in dangerous, unhealthy conditions. McAleenan was in charge of firing tear gas at asylum-seekers. His agents were also well known for ethnic profiling, illegal searches, seizure of religious items, and sometimes, murder and rape.

Julie Kirchner, former leader for the anti-immigration group Federation for American Immigration Reform, is DDT’s consideration to head U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services if DDT fires Francis Cissna in Stephen Miller’s purge of the federal government. Founded by a white supremacist, FAIR has been labeled a hate group. Currently Kirchner investigates individuals’ complaints against maladministration, especially that of public authorities for USCIS. If confirmed for the head of the agency, she would control the adjudication of applications for asylum, green cards, citizenship, and renewals for protective programs like DACA and TPS.

Patrick Shanahan remains acting as Secretary of Defense as more and more bad news comes from and about his former employer and friend, Boeing. The latest is Boeing’s admission that warning lights were “optional” on the 737 Max commercial jetliners that killed hundreds of people in the last few months. Earlier Boeing tried to blame pilots for their lack of performance. Now the company claims that the lights had no impact on the planes’ safety. Only 20 percent of ordered planes had this upgrade to activate the warning sensor. Neither pilots nor the FAA safety inspectors and supervisors were told about the lack of this safety feature. DDT has suggested that Boeing can solve all its problems with the 737 Max 8 jets by renaming them.

Less than two weeks ago, an internal investigation cleared Shanahan of conflicts of interest although Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson expressed three concerns: his decision to accept the problematic KC-46 tanker, his meeting with Space X CEO Elon Musk, and possible inappropriate sharing of classified information from Boeing programs. Shanahan also incessantly praised the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Internal documents about the Dreamliner production as well as interviews with employees show the same kind of shoddy work on the 737 Max. A quality manager who pointed out problems was moved to other parts of the South Carolina plant where Boeing moved manufacturing despite a lack of comparable work force to that in the Seattle area. As a “right-to-work” state, South Carolina employees can be paid less than in Washington, and the state gave Boeing $1 billion. Fortunately, the Dreamliner has not had a crash yet although it was grounded for a time because of overheating batteries.

Last week, a Boeing 737 slid off a Florida runway into the St. Johns River.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is one of the subjects named by Sears in a lawsuit against its former CEO Edward Lampert, claiming that Mnuchin was part of the board members who helped Lampert and his hedge fund strip Sears of over $2 billion. Lampert and Mnuchin were roommates at Yale University and worked together at Goldman Sachs.

Jared Kushner has done his daddy-in-law proud with his extremely rare public appearance at the Times 100 Summit. He downplayed the Russian election interference from the Mueller report as “a couple of Facebook ads.” Kushner missed the part about the “expansive and expensive” Russian attack, as described by Steve Benen, including “public events, advertising, rallies, p.r. stunts, outreach to domestic allies, and an aggressive social-media component [that] reached as many as 126 million people.”

John Kelly, once DHS Secretary before becoming DDT’s chief of staff, has found a way to make money off his attitudes about immigrants and still avoid DDT. Kelly is now a board member of Caliburn International, the company owning the biggest detention centers for unaccompanied migrant youth. Caliburn received $222 million from taxpayers for a year, but their centers’ capacity has increased from 1,250 beds to 3,200 beds in just one detention center.

Scott Walker, loser as presidential candidate and Wisconsin’s most recent gubernatorial race, found a new job: he’s honorary chair of The Center for State-led National Debt Solutions—aka pusher for a constitutional balanced budget amendment. Ostensibly a Republican, Walker seems to be on the opposite side of congressional Republicans who are driving the national debt sky high. In every date, including Wisconsin, the infrastructure is collapsing while wealthy individuals and corporations received massive tax cuts.

Before he left Wisconsin, Walker put the state’s taxpayers on the hook for $4.1 billion to employ 13,000 people at Foxconn’s manufacturing plant. The deal was announced with DDT; a photo may show the only work DDT has done. Foxconn backed out of the manufacturing plant, and the number of employees dropped to 1,000 workers—about $4 million for each job. Manufacturing the product in China will “be more profitable” for Foxconn, according to one of its officials. Last year, the company hired 178 people, 82 fewer than needed for its first $10 million tax cut. On the campaign trail a week ago, DDT asked Wisconsin’s governor, Tony Evers, to be more “optimistic and hopeful” about Foxconn. Without re-negotiation, which Foxconn hasn’t supported, Wisconsin taxpayers are totally screwed.

Thanks to Walker and his Republicans, almost 15 percent of Wisconsin’s dairy farms aren’t milking or have disappeared. Despite oversupply, Walker tried to beat California in milk production and dropped milk prices by over 25 percent. Other losses included less immigrant farm labor and DDT’s trade war.

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

 

 

April 13, 2019

DDT: Week 116 – Problems Pile Up

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has told former Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, now acting DHS director, that he would pardon McAleenan for violating the law if he blocks migrants and asylum seekers from coming across the southern border. DDT fired Claire Grady from DHS because she was legally in the line of succession to take over DHS after DHS fired Kirstjen Nielsen. Neo-Nazi Stephen Miller is now in control of the U.S. immigration policy; the Senate has not confirmed officials for seven top DHS officials.

Although White House officials oppose “placing” undocumented immigrants in so-called sanctuary regions, DDT and Miller are determined to retaliate against Democrats. The term is used for places that follow federal law but don’t pursue migrants who have not committed crimes. Matthew Albence, ICE’s new acting deputy director, opposed DDT’s idea last November because transportation would take money and other resources from enforcement. In February, legal experts rejected the idea, and conservatives say that DDT’s idea gives migrants a free ride to their destinations and creates difficulty in deporting them later. Jessica Vaughan, head of the anti-immigration group Center for Immigration Studies, said that the “immigration policy amateurs in senior positions at the White House … should stay in their lane—which is not immigration.”

AG Bill Barr also reinstated an “efficient” judicial process to get rid of migrants. Instead of giving people fair hearings, DOJ will permit cursory opinions without explanation and set precedents with a small minority of appeals judges. For six temporary judicial seats, Barr—and DDT—can pick judges from immigration appellate judges who have the highest deportation rates. Immigration judges lack independence because they are within the executive branch. DDT has a personal lawyer in Barr as Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) had Roy Cohn to destroy thousands of people in the 1950s. With no evidence, the supposed AG dropped the erroneous word “spying” into his testimony to throw red meat to DDT’s base. Over 25 years ago, Barr had no legal basis for sweeping up millions of U.S. residents’ phone calls in the early 1990s for George H.W. Bush.

According to the conservative Wall Street Journal, federal prosecutors in New York have “more evidence than previously known in its criminal investigation” into DDT’s directing Michael Cohen to make illegal payoffs for DDT’s extra-marital affairs. An interview with Hope Hicks, DDT’s former close aide, led to implicating DDT in federal crimes, and Keith Schiller, DDT’s former bodyguard, has calls to David Pecker, CEO of the National Enquirer’s publisher which admitted paying $150,000 on DDT’s behalf to hide his relationship with a former Playboy model. Investigators also have a recorded phone conversation between Cohen and the two women’s lawyer. Information came “weeks before” Cohen testified about the hush-money payoffs in court. Cohen has said that he has 14 million damaging files about DDT that he has not yet released and wants to postpone the May 6 reporting date for going to prison. This evidence may include “possible federal campaign finance violations by the Republican National Committee, including possibly illegal conduiting of illegal substantial donations to the RNC by foreign nationals, including from China.”

AMI is selling the National Enquirer along with tabloids Globe and National Examiner. The decision came after negotiations with Jeff Bezos’ legal team because of the Enquirer’s attempted shakedown in revenge for news about Saudi Arabia published in the Washington Post, especially the murder of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). The blackmail story threatening to publish revealing photos of Bezos and his mistress if the negative articles about Saudis didn’t stop is connected to DDT through AMI CEO David Pecker, close friend of DDT. The Enquirer fingered the brother of Bezos’ mistress as the photos’ source, but Saudis hacked into Bezos’ phone.

Congress wants answers about six secret authorizations from DDT’s Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, to give Saudi Arabia nuclear technology and services with no limits to block their developing weapons. In reference to MBS’s overseeing the torturing and dismemberment of Khashoggi, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) said:

“If you cannot trust a regime with a bone saw, you should not trust them with nuclear weapons.”

These authorizations require congressional approval. A bipartisan bill requires the executive branch to regularly disclose information about allowing permission for nuclear energy cooperation with foreign countries.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin thinks that he doesn’t have to obey a 1924 anti-corruption law requiring him to turn over DDT’s tax returns. Section 6103 of the Tax Code states that Treasury officials “shall,” meaning no choice, turn over the tax returns “upon written request” of the chair of either congressional tax committee or the federal employee who runs Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation. No request has ever been refused. In another potentially illegal act, Mnuchin told Congress that his legal team has consulted with the White House to block DDT’s release of tax returns to House members, in what may be obstruction of justice.

Section 7214(a) requires that DDT, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, IRS director Charles Rettig, and Mnuchin be removed from office if they fail to comply with the request to submit DDT’s tax returns by House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-MA). If convicted of this refusal, they “shall be fined not more than $10,000, or imprisoned not more than 5 years of both.” Removal from office can block service on corporate board and require disclosures to lenders. DDT may be busy pardoning himself as well as others. The primary question is how long Mnuchin can stall.

In his pompous appearance before the House Financial Committee this week, Mnuchin complained that the House had not brought NAFTA 2.0 to the floor. There’s a good reason: DDT hasn’t sent the Canada/Mexico/U.S. trade agreement to Congress. He also threatens steep new tariffs of cars imported from Mexico, an act exempted by the agreement. When asked how he could do something the agreement prevents, DDT said, “We haven’t finished our agreement yet.” Yet VP Mike Pence is on the road touting the agreement.

Opposed by top Pentagon leadership, DDT designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp—which he called Islamic RGC—as a terrorist organization. His unprecedented—and unpresidented—action puts the U.S. at risk of war, and Iran answered by labeling the U.S. military forces also a terrorist organization. The U.S. may no longer be able to successfully negotiate with Iran if U.S. ships just stray into Iran’s waters, as they did in 2016. DDT’s statement read that “if you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that the goal was to force Iran to behave like a “normal” country, perhaps using the “new normal” in the U.S. as an example.

DDT is one of those people who has done “business with the IRGC” in his financial dealings with wealthy oligarch Ziya Mammadov to build a never-opened Trump International Hotel & Tower Baku in Azerbaijan’s capital city. The Mammadov family has strong ties to money laundering with DDT’s so-called “terrorist group,” the IRGC, and some workers were paid in cash—hundreds of thousands of dollars. Between January 2014 and July 15, DDT earned $2.5 million from the project and another $323,000 later, according to his financial disclosure report. A lawyer involved with the project said that the Trump Organization “approved the smallest details. DDT’s business admitted knowledge of developers’ ties to Iranian Revolutionary Guard in 2015 and may have also violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Maryanne Trump Barry, DDT’s older sister, retired as a federal appellate judge to dodge an investigation into her fraudulent tax schemes with DDT and other siblings to greatly increase their wealth. Barry, who will continue to collect a salary of about $200,000 was co-owner of a family-created shell company, All Country, to siphon cash from their father’s empire by marking up purchases already bought by employees in order to avoid gift and estate taxes. By the time of DDT’s father’s death, his children had acquired almost all the father’s estate. Barry also benefited from gross undervaluation of her father’s properties when she and the siblings took ownership. Her share was $182.5 million.

Despite the refusal of Secretary of State Betsy DeVos to protect campus victims of sexual harassment,  the 4th Circuit Court ruled that colleges and universities must take action against targeted violent, sexist cyber abuse including threats of rape and murder. The University of Mary Washington did nothing to stop these actions, and the court ruled court ruled that Title IX and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause require schools’ addressing cyber harassment and do not permit First Amendment protection for threats to kill or injure others. The decision sets a precedent for legal liability in all universities and colleges.

DDT says he know “nothing” about WikiLeaks after Julian Assauge was arrested, but he’s been praising WikiLeaks for over 30 months. In October 2016, DDT said, “This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove” and repeated the sentiment many times.

Once again, DDT bragged about a poll that showed his high level of disapproval, this one from Fox’s Lou Dobbs Tonight. Fox Business reporter Blake Burman had to correct that the 55-percent rate DDT shouted out was actually for the unfavorable impression of him.

April 11, 2019

Barr, Others Face Congressional Hearings

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has done one smart thing for himself: with the help of corrupt GOP, he put Bill Barr into the DOJ leadership. Much has been written about Barr’s protection of DDT for the past two days in hearings about his “Barr Report,” a bastardized interpretation of Mueller’s investigation. But before that, Barr put DDT above the Constitution. Thanks to Barr, DDT’s financial benefits from foreign payments to his hotels, resorts, condos, and trademarks have been exempted from the emolument clause: foreign countries can pander to DDT as much as they want by paying inflated prices at his facilities. The justification is that DDT doesn’t get the money because of his “official capacity” because it’s related only to his private business.

Barr also supports DDT by lying for him. “I support the president’s policy, which is we’re not going to separate families,” Barr said two days before DDT fired his DHS secretary for refusing to separate families. About the Affordable Care Act, Barr said that DDT supports protections for people with pre-existing conditions while Barr goes to court to eliminate the ACA. Today, Barr continued his lying during testimony before House Appropriations Committee and its chair Nita Lowey (D-NY), ignoring how transparent his falsehoods are. He claimed that DDT had no warning about Russia targeting DDT’s first presidential campaign despite media coverage to the contrary. From NBC reporting on December 18, 2017:

“In the weeks after he became the Republican nominee on July 19, 2016, Donald Trump was warned that foreign adversaries, including Russia, would probably try to spy on and infiltrate his campaign, according to multiple government officials familiar with the matter. The warning came in the form of a high-level counterintelligence briefing by senior FBI officials, the officials said.”

Like a squid shooting ink, Barr tried to cover up for DDT and Republicans though his obfuscations and lies. He told committee members that he was “concerned” that the government during President Obama’s administration had “spied” on DDT’s campaign although he admitted he had no evidence. Going beyond protecting DDT with redactions, Barr plans an investigation into Russia’s “spying” against DDT’s first presidential campaign.

About his claim, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote under the heading of “Trump Toady”:

“This is the language of a PR spinner, not the attorney general of the United States. As my colleague Aaron Blake points out, ‘spying’ is a loaded phrase and a political accusation.”

Congressional members were disturbed by Barr’s bizarre allegations:

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, tweeted that Barr’s words contradicted previous Department of Justice communications and asked for an immediate briefing to clarify the issue.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said he had been told nothing about any spying on DDT’s campaign and that “almost seems to be endorsing one of these theories that has been debunked time and time again.” Warner added that Barr’s comments are “disrespectful” to Department of Justice employees.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, argued “the top law enforcement officer of the country should not casually suggest that those under his purview engaged in ‘spying’ on a political campaign” and that Barr’s “partisan talking point … strikes another destructive blow to our democratic institutions.”

Barr couldn’t even answer questions on issues other than the Mueller investigation.

Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) asked in the hearing about people losing health care coverage if Barr succeeds in helping to overturn the ACA because there is no replacement. Barr said, “If this is such a hokey position to have, what are you worried about?” Adding that healthcare is a policy issue, Barr added, “I’m a lawyer. I’m not in charge of health care.”

Barr didn’t know that the DOJ, his own department, found a 17-percent rise in hate crimes in 2017.

At least the redacted pages won’t be all black. Barr plans to color-code his redactions and add “explanatory notes” for each redaction. He plans to redact information in four categories: classified information, current investigations, and peripheral people not charged with a crime. Barr denies that DDT would fit into this category, but he also lies. “Executive privilege” might also be redacted. Barr won’t ask a federal court to allow Congress to see grand jury material. If Nadler wants to see it, he can ask the court, Barr said.

Some salient comments from Barr’s hearing yesterday:

Asked specifically whether the investigation was a witch hunt, Barr said, “it depends on where you sit.”

Asked if the White House has seen or been briefed on Mueller’s report, Barr said, “I’m not going to say anything more about it.” [Sounds like, “Yes, but I don’t want to admit it.” Richard Nixon’s AG John Mitchell went to prison for 19 months for conducting obstruction on Nixon’s behalf by briefing him on investigations.] Earlier he had said that he had not consulted

Barr plans to release his [heavily] redacted report “within a week” but won’t talk about it until then. Congress is on recess for the next two weeks.

Barr’s misrepresentation in his four-page summary of the Mueller report that clears DDT of obstruction of justice has disturbed members of the investigative team who found “alarming and significance” evidence of this obstruction. They also found that evidence of collusion was “compelling.” Barr said that Mueller did not review the Barr Report before he submitted it to Congress.

The “Spygate” that Barr intends to “investigate”started with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) when he maintained that the surveillance of Carter Page, which started over a year before DDT announced his first campaign, was politically motivated. Nunes had a lot to say but never read the intelligence surrounding the FISA issued for Page by four GOP-appointed judges. Investigation of the infamous Steele dossier, created through an investigation to find damaging information about DDT and other GOP candidates by conservative Paul Singer, also revealed that it did not trigger the FBI investigation into Russian influence over the U.S. election. Singer pulled his funding for the project after Sen. Marco Rubio pulled out of his presidential campaign.

Jubilant about Barr’s testimony, DDT repeatedly shouts, “They spied. They spied!” He also asserted, “I have not read the Mueller report. I won. No collusion, no obstruction. I won. Everybody knows I won.” A majority of people, 56 percent, think that DDT and his campaign have not been exonerated. The investigation is still in play. DDT commonly claims that “everybody knows ….” Here are 30 examples.

Barr wasn’t the only person testifying to Congress this week. Jeffrey Rosen faced fire at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for a position to replace Rod Rosenstein as deputy AG by refusing to firmly commit to making special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia probe public.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had a contentious appearance before the House Financial Services Committee when he tried to give weak excuses for the IRS breaking the law by failing to give Congress six years of DDT’s tax returns. Mnuchin said that DDT already won the 2016 election and had disclosed some information about personal finances. He also said that Kevin Brady hadn’t requested specific returns; President Obama voluntarily disclosed his tax returns every year. A GOP chair obtained tax returns in 2014 from conservative and liberal nonprofit groups claiming tax-exempt status.

When Mnuchin maintained that he had to leave for an “important meeting,” the back and forth erupted into Mnuchin petulantly telling Chair Maxine Waters with appropriate hand gestures, “Please dismiss everybody. I believe you’re supposed to take the gravel [sic] and bang it.” The exchange is well worth watching.

About releasing his tax returns, DDT’s excuse is “the people don’t care.” A majority of people, 51 percent, want Democrats to require DDT to release his returns. Even more, 64 percent, want DDT to voluntarily release his tax returns. IRS officials said that being under audit, DDT’s excuse, does not prevent people from releasing returns. DDT’s assertion, that there’s “no law whatsoever” for turning over his tax returns, also doesn’t hold water. A 1924 statute gives some congressional leaders access to anyone’s tax returns.  in this area, he’s overlooking one inconvenient statute. The only reason to hide DDT’s tax returns is if they contain incriminating information.

November 20, 2017

Tax cuts: The GOP Has to Do Something!

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 11:16 PM
Tags: , ,

The U.S. public can give thanks this week because Congress can’t do any damage to us; they’ve all gone home for thanksgiving.  They’ll be back next week, however, when the Senate takes up the House bill that raises taxes on everyone except the wealthy and corporations. Even the conservative publication Forbes thinks that congressional tax “reform” is crazy: it has published a piece called “GOP Tax Bill Is the End Of All Economic Sanity In Washington.”

“There’s no economic justification whatsoever for a tax cut at this time. U.S. GDP is growing, unemployment is close to 4 percent (below what is commonly considered “full employment”), corporate profits are at record levels and stock markets are soaring. It makes no sense to add any federal government-induced stimulus to all this private sector-caused economic activity, let alone a tax cut as big as this one. This is actually the ideal time for Washington to be doing the opposite….

“The GOP’s insanity is compounded by its moving ahead without having any idea of what this policy will actually do to the economy. The debates in the Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees and on the House floor all took place before the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis and, if it really exists, the constantly-promised-but-never-seen report from the Treasury on the economics of this tax bill.”

On CNN, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney promised that “the president is not going to sign a bill that raises taxes on the middle class, period.” Yet this is what the Senate tax bill does.

 

Information about tax cuts keeps trickling out with these disasters after this post on Nels New Day. Gone are tax credits for plug-in motor vehicles, deductions for medical expenses and moving expenses, write-offs for tax preparation, most tax benefits for college in student loans and tuition waivers for graduate students, deductions for theft or loss of valuables—even in wildfires. Although low-income housing keeps its small subsidy, the bill ends the tax-free status of bonds for financing and repair, which has the same affect as dropping the subsidy. Affected by this loss are all private enterprises serving the public interest such as airports and waste disposal facilities.

A huge drawback to the GOP tax bill is that it continues to move manufacturing offshore. The bill allows manufacturers to pay nothing to the U.S. for its products. CEOs won’t bring foreign profits into the U.S. when their taxes are based on the country where factories are located. The GOP fantasy is that these companies will invest in U.S. jobs. They have not done this in the past, and they have blatantly said they won’t do it with the proposed tax bill. The 15 corporations benefitting most from the 2004 tax holiday cut over 20,000 jobs and reduced their research spending.

A basic GOP premise of tax cuts is to punish blue states and reward red states that already get back more than they pay in federal taxes. The punitive measures come from curtailing or eliminating the deductibility of state and local taxes and dropping the home mortgage interest deduction. Congress also refuses to provide any assistance for the billions of dollars lost to wildfires in the West while giving tens of billions to Texas and Florida for help after hurricane damage. Puerto Rico, which can’t help Republicans win a presidency, will get funding but only through loans.

Republicans claim that dropping health insurance mandates from the Senate bill, but people who get subsidies will continue to buy the insurance. There will be no savings for the government.

Other losses in deductions:

  • Alimony: No longer deductible for decrees after 2017.
  • College boosters: No longer deductible if for eligibility in buying seats at games or preferences such as prime parking places.
  • Employee achievement awards.
  • Employer-provided housing: A cap of $50,000 salary.
  • Home sale gains: Qualification requires the home to be the primary home for five of the past eight years instead of two of the past five years.
  • Office day care center.
  • Rare disease research.
  • Stadium bonds (DDT promised to do this to the NFL).

Winners:

REUTERS/Mike Segar TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTSO7UI

  • Businesses because they receive three-fourths of the benefits.
  • Owners of jets and golf coursesThe savings on each of these are minimal compared to lost benefits, but it should keep Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) satisfied.
  • Churches that can campaign for political candidates.
  • Anti-abortion activists because people can name fetuses as beneficiaries of 529 college savings plans. The tax bill defines “child in utero” in personhood terms as “a member of the species of homo sapiens at any state of development, who is carried in the womb.” Law already covers the 529 accounts, but the bill throws the door open to making all abortion illegal.
  • Inheritors for 5,500 estates that drops not only tax on the estate but also on any capital gains on inherited taxes until they are sold.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) tries to convince the people that the new plan is “fair” and “simple” because taxes can be filed on a postcard. Yet the card has no instructions on the card to explain what should be put in a line—i.e., what is a savings plan?—and even asks for the Social Security number to be put on the back of a card that gets put into the mail, available for anyone to see it. And people pay more taxes.

VP Mike Pence sounded sincere when he lied to a Wall Street CEO gathering. He claimed that workers could keep more of their money (false) and companies are incentivized to bring jobs back to the United States (false). Instead of eliminating loopholes, the tax bill leaves them only for the wealthy. According to Ivanka Trump, people can use their tax cuts to hire a tutor to teach their children the Mandarin Chinese language. Gary Cohn, DDT’s multi-millionaire economic advisor, cheerfully claimed that people can use their $1,000 in tax cuts for remodeling the kitchen or buying a new car.

Bruce Bartlett, an expert in supply-side economics serving under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said, “There has never been a tax cut in American history in which taxes were raised on the poor to benefit the wealthy. I don’t know of any other country that has done anything remotely like this.” After 1986 tax cuts, wages fell for ten years. Most Republicans have no answer for the failure of tax cuts although Mulvaney tried to explain that the world is different now.

When Bill Clinton raised taxes on top earners from 31 percent to 39.6 percent in 1993, the economy boomed. It created 23 million jobs and grew the economy for 32 straight quarters, at that time the longest expansion in history.

According to a Quinnipiac poll, only 25 percent of people like the GOP tax plan, and only 16 percent think it will reduce their taxes. Thirty-five percent expect their taxes to increase. Only 24 percent say it will help the middle class the most, while 61 percent think that the wealthy benefits most.

This photo shows the GOP position toward tax cuts that take money away from most of the people to benefit the wealthy. The “King of Foreclosure” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his ultra-wealthy wife admire new bills with his name emblazoned on it.

The Republicans have only one reason to destroy the U.S. economy with their tax cuts: get their donors back. If they don’t pass something, nobody will fund their campaigns. In their reality, better to pander to donors than help the hundreds of millions of people in the United States.

The Senate tax bill has differences from the House bill that may cause trouble when Congress returns next week. Three defectors to the tax bill will sink it. Here’s a partial score card of concerned senators:

  • Susan Collins (ME): She opposes dropping the health care mandate, the “biggest mistake,” because it causes insurance premiums to drastically rise.
  • Ron Johnson (WI): A conservative, he owns a small business and wants more perks for it. His demand will increase the deficit and take the amount into an area 60 instead of 50 votes.
  • Bob Corker (TN) and Jeff Flake (AZ): They don’t like the $1.5 trillion—or more—deficit.
  • Lisa Murkowski (AK): She also doesn’t like dropping the individual mandate but said that “one should not assume this is a precondition for my support for the tax bill.” She likes the Arctic oil drilling in the bill.
  • Rand Paul (KY): He might back out without the repeal of the individual mandate.

It’s all a crap shoot; in the meantime we have Thanksgiving.

October 17, 2017

DDT’s Expensive Swamp

Cutting the waste in government was a frequent claim of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) while on the campaign trail and the subject of an early executive order. DDT said that his executive order on March 13, 2017, would require a “thorough examination of every executive department and agency” to find out “where money is being wasted [and] how services can be improved.” His proposed budget slashes funds for the social network.

DDT should look to himself for waste in government. Although he has spent one night at New York’s Trump Tower since he was inaugurated, the apartment costs millions of dollars. He overcharged the facilities for the Secret Service there, requiring the command post to move to a trailer on the sidewalk in July. Expenditures for DDT’s golf trips are over $72 million, according to Trump Golf Count. At that rate, he’ll spend almost $400 million during his term.

DDT’s current campaigning for 2020 is on the taxpayer tab as well. When he went to Phoenix (AZ) to tout his “wall,” his campaign funds may have paid for the convention center and indoor security, but taxpayers were out almost $500,000 for his campaign event. Just employee overtime expenses for the Phoenix Police Department cost $336,887.

The costs of DDT’s family trips are astronomical. Just one ski vacation for Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, their spouses, their kids and their dogs cost taxpayers $330,000. The State Department paid the cost of $117,489.44 for the car rental charge when Tiffany Trump and her mother vacationed for two weeks in Italy. That was considerably cheaper than the $2 million that DDT cost the State Department during a 48-hour trip to Italy in May.

Secret Service is running out of money to protect DDT and his family of 18. Without congressional approval to increase the budget, 1,100 agents, one-third of them, will have to work overtime without pay. The current expenditure of $30 million is 250 percent more than the past annual cost of $12 million for President Obama and his family. The Secret Service protected 42 people around the clock until Donald Trump, Jr. refused his guard. After he said he wanted privacy, he was found killing moose in Alaska. Kellyanne Conway was also removed from the list.

Sen. Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced an amendment the 2018 appropriations bill to prevent Secret Service payment to any businesses owned or operated by DDT:

“None of the funds made available by this Act to the United States Secret Service may be used to purchase, rent, or otherwise acquire goods or services, including hotel rooms, office space, or golf carts, from entities that are owned or operated by the President or the immediate family of the President.”

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) expanded Schiff’s plan to prohibit federal spending across the government at all “Trump-owned hotels, resorts, and other Trump-owned businesses.” The bills went nowhere but may have been educational.

In addition to DDT’s costs, taxpayers are paying for jetsetting Cabinet members:

  • (Former) Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price: Over $1 million in military and charter flights. When he resigned, Price said that he would reimburse the government $52,000. A millionaire who made stock trade in health-care companies while helping them with laws, Price has been a proponent of taking hundreds of billions of dollars from federal health programs. As HHS secretary, he backed a $6 billion cut to NIH and an overall 18 percent reduction to the HHS budget. His goal is to eliminate “waste.” He also cut 90 percent from the Affordable Care Act’s advertising budget from $100 million to $10 million and almost half of the budget for consumer “navigators.” Price’s excuse for chartering private planes is that he once missed a meeting because of a four-hour delay on a commercial flight. Storms had shut down all flights in Washington, not only Price’s scheduled flight but also private jets which he attempted to get. Price missed dinner on Thursday night but was still available to give his speech the next morning. His destination, a two-day industry conference at the luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel in Southern California, brings to question the excuse that he travels to be “connected with the real American people.” Another argument was how busy he was with the hurricanes; most of the chartered flights occurred before they hit the U.S.
  • EPA Director Scott Pruitt: Almost $60,000 for “non-commercial” flights. Pruitt spent 48 of 92 days traveling, most of the flights at least stopping in Oklahoma, possibly laying the groundwork for a senatorial campaign. One charter flight for $14,000 took Pruitt from Tulsa to Guymon (OK) to talk about closing the EPA’s ten regional offices by reassigning staff to state capitals—part of eliminating one-third of the EPA budget.
  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin: Over $800,000 in costs for flights, including a government jet to Kentucky (where he and his wife viewed the solar eclipse) plus his request to take a government jet on his honeymoon to Europe.
  • Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke: A number of flights on private and military aircraft, including between St. Croix to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as paying $12,000 to an oil-and-gas exploration firm for a charter flight instead of a commercial one because he was speaking to a political donor’s professional hockey team in Nevada. Zinke’s wife, manager of the campaign for Troy Downing who is a GOP candidate for a Montana senator, often travels with him as they stop at political fundraisers and donor events.
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin: Payment for his wife’s costs to Europe where they spent half his time, four days, on vacation tours that included four palaces and the championship Wimbledon match. Just weeks earlier, Shulkin told staff to cut back on travel expenses.
  • Secretary of Energy Rick Perry: At least $58,000 for private flights.
  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao: Seven FAA jet flights, including to New York and Paris.

VP Mike Pence may have cost taxpayers approximately $250,000 last week to stage a PR stunt. He flew from Las Vegas to Indiana with a pool of reporters to follow DDT’s orders by walking out of the football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers after over 20 players knelt to protest police brutality. From there he flew to Los Angeles for a fundraiser. Worse than his staging this stunt was his statement that he saved people money because he would have flown to Washington, D.C. for the one night if he hadn’t gone to Indianapolis. Evidently no hotel openings in either Las Vegas or LA. Four Green Berets had been killed in Niger, but DDT ignored this tragedy to tweet against peaceful and legal protests by NFL athletes—29 times thus far.

DDT’s Cabinet runs high tabs in areas other than travel. Scott Pruitt’s protective 24/7 detail, triple that of his predecessors, costs $832,735.40 for his first three months, and the agency asked for an exception to DDT’s hiring freeze to hire an additional (number redacted on a memo) security members. In the past, Secretaries of State, Defense, and Homeland Security received this kind of protection, but DDT has extended it to such dangerous positions as the Secretary of Education and the EPA. Betsy DeVos costs almost $1 million a month for protection from U.S. marshals.

Pruitt also wants a sound-proof booth. He’s paying almost $25,000 for it on the floor where employees cannot take cellphones or take notes. EPA employees say that he already has one but wants it “updated.”

One of Zinke’s staff is paid to go up to the roof and hoist his secretarial flag when Zinke enters the building and reverse the process when he leaves. He is the first White House official to do that for almost a century. His deputy secretary has his own flag to fly when Zinke is gone. Another cost, the amount not identified, is Zinke’s commissioning commemorative coins with his name that he hands out to staff and visitors. Again, the use of personalized coins is unique.

Price had early on asked to reopen the executive dining room, complete with executive chef, but Price has been fired.

And DDT’s executive order attempting to destroy health care for millions will cost the country $20 billion this year.

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