Nel's New Day

December 22, 2019

Week 152 – World, Domestic Affairs

World and domestic affairs beyond impeachment affect the United States through decisions that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) makes.

DDT stayed silent during violent protests from India’s attempt to eliminate secularization. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a conservative re-elected in May, the parliament permits citizenship for undocumented migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who moved to India before 2014 and belong to one of six religious minorities, excluding Islam. Modi claims that the law protects persecuted religious groups, much like DDT said about his executive order protecting only Jewish people. India is now trying to control protests by shutting down phone and internet access in parts of the country.

Shortly before DDT was elected, Russian interference helped an anti-immigrant movement in Britain pass Brexit, a separation from the European Union. After agonizing over the process for over three years, the Brits elected Boris Johnson as prime minister to finish the process, much to the possible detriment of almost everyone in the country. Like DDT, Johnson is connected to corruption and sexual misconduct. The UK will leave the EU by the last day of 2020 no matter how disastrous, and the UK may have to pay the EU up to £39 billion. Northern Ireland stayed with the EU and will have a customs and regulatory border with Great Britain; Scotland voted to stay with the EU and may separate from the UK.

DDT, close friends with the autocratic Turkish president Recip Tayyip Erdogan, rejected the congressional votes to recognize that the Ottoman’s killing of Armenians in 1915-16 to support Germany in World War I was genocide. In retribution for the congressional resolution, Erdogan threatens to shut down Incirlik air base where the U.S. stores nuclear warheads. DDT called resolution criticizing the killing of 1.5 million Armenians “worthless” and the “biggest insult” to Turkish people. Erdogan also tried to prevent sanctions against Turkey after its military offensive in Syria by threatening to close the Kurecik radar base. Following DDT’s wishes, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tried to block the resolution. On December 12, the Senate unanimously passed the resolution after the House did so with only one no vote. Because resolutions do not have the weight of law, they do not require a president’s signature. 

Israel is headed for its third election in less than a year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to put together a winning coalition but plans to stay prime minister. The national election to determine the Israeli prime minister is next March, but on December 26, 100,000 Likud party members, Netanyahu’s party, vote for their leaders. Gideon Sa’ar is challenging Netanyahu to represent Likud; the winner is in line to become prime minister.Christians in the Gaza Strip are banned from visiting holy cities such as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Nazareth for Christmas. Last year, almost 700 Gazan Christians received permits to travel the holy cities.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor is investigating Israeli war crimes allegedly committed in the Palestinian territories. Netanyahu claims that the ICC has jurisdiction only for sovereign states and denies any Palestinian state. He plans to illegally take over the Jordan Valley, composing one-fourth of the West Bank. In the ICC, Palestine is suing the U.S. for DDT’s moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Two courts, one in the EU and the other in Canada, have also decided that Israel “an occupying power” and “not … a sovereign entity” in determining labeling of products from Jewish settlements in the West Bank.   

The end of the year means tax preparation. Last year the 2017 tax cuts hurt a large percentage of people in the U.S., but large corporations are making out like bandits from their 40-percent tax rate cut. Approximately 400 of the largest corporations in the U.S. paid an average federal tax rate of about 11 percent on their profits last year, roughly half the official rate set by the tax law and half the rate that they averaged between 2008 and 2015. In 2018, corporations averaged 11.3 percent in taxes, the lowest level in over 30 years, while the deficit hit $984 billion, unusual in a supposedly strong economy. There is no evidence of the GOP claim of lower taxes’ cut causing economic growth and boosting business investment. The unemployment rate has stayed low in some areas, but higher wages are largely caused by blue states increasing the minimum wage rate.

In the Fortune 500, 91 corporations earning $101 billion paid no federal taxes last year. Amazon paid no taxes on $10.8 billion in profits and got a $129 million rebate. Firing 800 people, Activision Blizzard made $447 million and received a tax rebate of $243 million, giving them a -54.4 percent.

Overturning the Affordable Care Act would give the wealthy and pharmaceutical companies a huge tax break. The top 1,400 highest-earning taxpayers would receive $3.8 billion, and pharmaceutical companies would pay $2.8 billion less in taxes. People on Medicare would pay more for prescription drugs, and U.S. drug costs are already the highest in the developed world. Twenty million people would lose health insurance, and the poverty rate would increase. Causing a crack in the ACA, a state judge overturned the individual mandate in the ACA despite a Supreme Court ruling that accepted it.

DDT plans to reduce aid to the 39.7 million people in the United States living in poverty by allowing sports stadiums and arenas to use opportunities designed to meet the needs of middle- and low-income people. The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act requires financial institutions to meet the credit needs of all communities where they do business so that they can’t refuse to serve people based on income level and demographics rather than credit worthiness. Under DDT’s plan, investors can delay taxes or reduce tax payments on their capital gains while building stadiums that displace people of color. 

Eating pork may be dangerous under DDT’s new rules, according to Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors Jill Mauer and Anthony Vallone, who filed whistleblower disclosure forms. A pilot program for over 92 percent of U.S. pork plants will provide fewer inspectors who must stand at a distance while untrained plants’ employees check carcasses and still try to maintain line speeds. Defects can include feces, sex organs, toenails, bladders, and unwanted hair—think Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Beef processing may suffer from the same MO.  

The U.S. Forest Service is permitting Canada’s Midas Gold to write the environmental report necessary to obtain approval for mining in Idaho after a “collaborative” meeting that included Midas. In that way, Midas can avoid habitat restoration work to protect the surrounding area.

In a software failure, Boeing’s Starliner, intended to fly NASA astronauts to space, didn’t get to the right orbit. A few days earlier, Boeing announced it was stopping the production of the 737 Max that killed 346 people in two crashes and demonstrated multiple other problems. The planes have been grounded since March 11, pending approval for planes being built. Almost 400 737 Max jets at the Renton (WA) facility are costing the company about $4.4 billion every three months for production, storage, and maintenance. Although Boeing may not have any work stoppage, hundreds of other U.S. manufacturers in its supply chain may be forced to lay off workers. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that Boeing’s problems had taken 0.4 percent off the GDP for the year.

For years, the FAA allowed Boeing to perform its own inspections. High level Boeing officials knew about the planes’ problems and lied to the FAA. Earlier this month, the FAA fined Boeing $3.9 million for “knowingly submitted aircraft” to the agency for safety certification even after learning that crucial wing components “could not be used due to a failed strength test.”

State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo not only fired Bill Taylor, acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, but also told him to get out of the country early because he didn’t want to be photographed with the highly respected career diplomat. Pompeo urged Taylor to take the job, and Taylor then testified to the House Intelligence Committee about DDT’s attempts to extort Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Taylor believes his obligation is to the country, not DDT, and Pompeo wants to be the senator from Kansas.

Another of DDT’s circle of associates is now heading for prison, but Rick Gates, associate of DDT’s campaign manager Paul Manafort, gets only 45 days after evading taxes and concealing millions of dollars representing pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine after Gates’ cooperation. Manafort, DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and DDT’s first national security adviser are in the slammer. George Papadopoulos, DDT’s former campaign adviser on foreign policy, and Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who worked with Manafort and Gates, have finished their prison sentences. Roger Stone, longtime DDT adviser and confidant, awaits sentencing. DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani faces a criminal investigation. Others connected to DDT include Richard Pinedo, who has a prison sentence for fraudulently trying to hurt Clinton’s campaign; Sam Patten and Maria Butina, who were charged with being unregistered foreign agents; and those on this long list of indicted Russian individuals and entities. 

New Jersey’s Rep. Jeff Van Drew switched from Republican to Democrat and swore “undying support” to DDT—until someone asked him about it. He said he didn’t say “undying.” Republicans don’t want him.

November 30, 2019

DDT: Week 149 – Trouble around the World

After bad publicity from the impeachment inquiry and pardoning war criminals, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) made a surprise visit to troops in Afghanistan. He’s still in trouble with emerging news.

Much has been said about the shadow government that DDT runs in Ukraine, but he has another one in Turkey, as suggested by former National Security Adviser John Bolton when he talked a “personal or business relationship dictating Trump’s position on Turkey.” Like the “irregular” diplomatic run by the “three Amigos” and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Turkey’s “backdoor diplomacy” has been operated by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak, DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and DDT’s business partner Aydin Dogan’s son-in-law, Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ.

Along with Mehmet’s wife Arzuhan Dogan Yalçındağ and Iranian/Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab, the three sons-in-law circumvented U.S. ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield, who has been in the foreign service since 1980. Zarrab, represented by DDT’s private secretary Rudy Giuliani, was arrested in the U.S. for evading Iranian sanctions. Giuliani also had his finger in the financial pie. Originally, the irregular diplomatic channel resulted in Michael Flynn’s firing from national security advisor, followed by a prison term for lying about being a foreign agent hired by Turkey. This extensive timeline reports the many times that DDT connected with Turkey and the favors that he gave them as he sided with Turkey against objections of advisers to help his substantial business interests in the company.

Since DDT lifted sanctions on Turkey, it began using U.S.-made Viper and F-4 Phantom II fighters to begin tests of radars connected to its new Russian S-400s although the U.S. warned against this “activation” of the surface-to-air missile systems. Turkey’s government announced it will test low and high altitude flights this week. Using the F-35 for these tests can give Russia knowledge about the plane’s capabilities, and NATO, including the U.S., warned that the system can’t be integrated with other allied aid defense networks. It will be unable to detect the difference between friendly and hostile aircraft. The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAASTA) requires the U.S. to take action against Turkey, but DDT is a “fan” of Erdogan, wanting to keep a trade agreement and protect personal financial gain from his two Trump towers in Turkey. Erdogan is also negotiating with Russia about the purchase of Su-35 Flanker-E fighter jets after announcing plans to buy components of the new S-500 air defense system.

Questions: Why did DDT life sanctions against Turkey? Why did DDT let Turks kill U.S. Kurdish allies? What did DDT say to Erdogan in his “diplomatic” dealings? What are DDT’s financial ties? Why does Bolton think that DDT is financially compromised?

DDT also illegally suspended congressionally approved $105 million funding for Lebanon so that it can push back on extremists. Without that aid, DDT allows attacks by Hezbollah and invasion by forces that can hurt the U.S. In this case, the winners are Russia and Iran.

On the home front, the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday sued AG Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross because they refused congressional subpoenas in an investigation into an attempt to put a citizenship question into the 2020 census. Ross said under oath that the DOJ asked for the question, but evidence shows that he lied. The Supreme Court ruled that Ross’ rationale “seems to have been contrived.” A complaint claims that Ross and his aides conspired with DOJ officials to cover up what happened and provide a legal justification for Ross’ demand. Another Ross lie may be that he didn’t communicate with the White House about the event.

Throughout the past week, the fallout from DDT’s pardoning three Navy Seal war criminals continues. Resigned/fired Navy Secretary Richard Spencer sent a letter last week, citing good order and discipline throughout the Navy’s ranks to be “deadly serious business”:

“The lives of our sailors, Marines and civilian teammates quite literally depend on the professional execution of our many missions, and they also depend on the ongoing faith and support of the people we serve and the allies we serve alongside.

“Unfortunately, it has become apparent that in this respect, I no longer share the same understanding with the commander in chief who appointed me, in regards to the key principle of good order and discipline. I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took.

“The rule of law is what sets us apart from our adversaries. Good order and discipline is what has enabled our victory against foreign tyranny time and again, from Captain Lawrence’s famous order ‘Don’t Give up the Ship,’ to the discipline and determination that propelled our flag to the highest point on Iwo Jima. The Constitution, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, are the shields that set us apart, and the beacons that protect us all.”

DDT started lobbying for Eddie Gallagher against the wishes of the Navy Seals after the convicted Seal received positive publicity for him from Fox. Two of Gallagher’s supporters, Bernard Kerik and Marc Mukasey, are two of DDT’s and Giuliani’s friends. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/30/us/politics/trump-seals-eddie-gallagher.html   Like DDT, Gallagher shows great disdain for authority. His goal in the service was “to kill as many people as possible,” and he turned off his locator so his superiors couldn’t find him. Now pardoned, he gave an interview to Fox in which he denigrated Rear Adm. Collin Green, commander of the Navy Seals:

“I just get a feeling of embarrassment for my community that Admiral Green is letting the ego get the best of him at this point. And he’s trying to take my trident because it’s all about retaliation.”

DDT is considering taking his three pardoned war criminals on the campaign trail with him next year.

No matter the spin, conservatives can’t get evidence that the intelligence agencies leaders conducted the investigation into Russian interference from personal bias against DDT. That is the decision of DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz although he did find “errors and omissions in documents related to the wiretapping of a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page” and an altered email by a “low-level” attorney in seeking a renewal of the wiretap. The IG concluded that the wiretap application had a legal and factual basis.

DDT lost one of the few people in the White House since his inauguration, deputy chief of staff Daniel Walsh, who planned foreign trips and decided White House aides’ use of government resources. He was an important part in the failed planning to have the G7 summit at DDT’s Doral resort.

While the State Department fires ethical career service people, it hired Frank Wuco as senior adviser at the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance. A conservative talk radio host, he suggested dropping nuclear bombs on Afghanistan after 9/11 and promoted far-right conspiracy theories including President Obama not born in the U.S., former CIA director John Brennan converted to Islam, former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. esd a member of the Black Panthers, and former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Last year, Wuco moved from the Department of Homeland Security. DDT had also considered “using nuclear” in Afghanistan and promoted the false birther theory.

While progressives in the United States try to block foreign interference in the U.S. election, DDT is interfering in the British election on December 12. Anti-Brexit Boris Johnson is trying to keep his leadership in the nation, and DDT called into a radio station on Halloween to say:

“So bad for your country, so bad. [Labour Party head Jeremy Corbyn would] take you in such a bad way. He’d take you into such bad places.”

This coming week, DDT heads to Buckingham Palace while NATO meets in London, and Corbyn maintains that DDT has an arrangement with Johnson that includes the sale of Britain’s popular National Health Service to U.S. pharmaceutical companies. DDT also wants to sell “chlorinated chickens” and hormone-injected beef to Britain that don’t meet their food safety regulations, and Corbyn maintains that he has copies of trade agreements between DDT and Johnson. Over 70 percent of the voters don’t approve of DDT, and DDT is less popular than Vladimir Putin. Johnson knows this, and he’s tried to get DDT to back off. This past week, Johnson said on LBC radio:

“What we don’t do traditionally as loving allies and friends, what we don’t do traditionally, is get involved in each other’s election campaigns.”

In a possibly fraudulent act, DDT reported higher occupancy rates to lenders and lower ones to tax officials over three consecutive years while the Trump Organization refinanced a $100 million loan. 

After the federal government forced 159 BLM employees from Washington to the West, staffers’ wages were reduced. The change was justified by reduced cost of living in the new location. The new location will favor energy interests: the new Grand Junction (CO) office share a building with Chevron. The town is four hours away from a major city and has only a small regional airport with no direct flights to D.C. The move costs $6.6 million, but lawmakers blocked funding for the move in the 2020 budget. The Agricultural Department’s Economic Research Service move to Kansas City (MO) cost them almost 80 percent of its employees.

In an unusual move, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has been bypassed in budget talks as the House tries to meet the December 20 deadline for passing the budget.  

November 29, 2019

The Completion of Thanksgiving

For several weeks, the media has obsessed about Thanksgiving dinner—specifically how to get along with people gathering around the groaning board. Culture since the election of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has made this an all-consuming issue.

With his typical cruelty, DDT’s son Donald Trump Jr has this recommendation: “trigger a liberal” at Thankgiving dinner with the goal of encouraging fights among families at the family gathering. He tweeted, “Trigger a liberal thanksgiving” and offered an autographed copy of his book for winners who send him photos or videos of “something/someone triggered maybe with my book.” Jr is listed as author of Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us:

“This is the book that the leftist elites don’t want you to read — Donald Trump, Jr., exposes all the tricks that the left uses to smear conservatives and push them out of the public square, from…”

Triggered became a best seller after the RNC and the Trump Organizations spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase copies of the book that promotes lies through conspiracy theories and encourages Jr’s social media followers to engage in bad behavior. Conservatives, however, may be more “triggered” by a discussion of the facts and their lack of defense for their beloved leader.

On Thanksgiving Day, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) unexpectedly visited troops in Afghanistan after pardoning three war criminals who were blamed of their crimes by their Navy Seal colleagues. Once again DDT created chaos by announcing peace talks with the Taliban, after dumping the idea just two months ago after a period of negotiations, and demanding a cease-fire that negotiators had already rejected and that the U.S. has no leverage to enact. DDT claimed that the Taliban wants a ceasefire, but he also claimed that Turkey wouldn’t kill the Kurds. The Taliban negotiating team was surprised at DDT’s statements. A member said, “Our positions remain the same.” With DDT removing troops from Afghanistan, the U.S. has even less leverage than earlier.

Since he was inaugurated almost three years ago, DDT had previously made no trips to Afghanistan and only one to a war zone, a secretive trip to Iraq almost a year ago. That time, plane spotters saw Air Force One crossing Britain; this time, he took a military plane with only five people, including Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY). DDT ate with Barrasso and a commander based at Bagram.

DDT demonstrated his obsession with impeachment during the traditional ceremony of pardoning a turkey. The two fowl, Bread and Butter, will not reside on a table but instead safely live out their natural lives because of the selection. DDT’s statement:

“Thankfully, Bread and Butter have been specially raised by the Jacksons to remain calm under any condition, which will be very important because they’ve already received subpoenas to appear in Adam Schiff’s basement on Thursday. It seems the Democrats are accusing me of being too soft on turkey, but Bread and Butter — I should note that, unlike previous witnesses, you and I have actually met.”

DDT added that the news media would find the pardon “very popular” because “turkeys are closely related to vultures.”

Although both turkeys were saved, only Butter received a “pardon.” One joke was that Butter received the pardon because Bread got more votes.

Although the DDT base may have found humor in the comments about impeachment, satirist Andy Borowitz gave another perspective about the pardon in his humor column, “Trump Refuses to Pardon White House Turkey After Accusing It of Working for Soros”:

“In a startling break with Thanksgiving tradition, Donald J. Trump refused to pardon the White House turkey after claiming that it was working as a secret operative of the billionaire George Soros.

“A group of fourth graders from Bethesda, Maryland, who had gathered on the White House lawn for the annual turkey-pardoning ceremony appeared unprepared for the anti-Soros outburst that Trump unleashed on the Thanksgiving bird.

“’That turkey was sent by Soros to spy on me,’ Trump said, angrily turning on the fowl. ‘A lot of people are saying this.’

“While the oblivious turkey pecked desultorily at the ground, an increasingly enraged Trump spewed a stream of conspiracy theories linking the feathered animal to global élites, election fraud in Florida, and Jim Acosta.

“Trump attempted to lead the fourth-grade class in a chant of ‘Lock It Up,’ apparently directed at the Thanksgiving delicacy, but the students slowly backed away from him in silence.

“Tracy Klugian, one of the children who witnessed Trump’s meltdown, said that he found it ‘sad.’

“’I get that he’s upset about Mueller and the midterms, but he shouldn’t take it out on a turkey,’ he said.”

Background on the turkey pardon: residents of the White House typically ate the donated turkeys until 1989 with the exception of Abraham Lincoln giving the turkey in 1863 to his son Tad and President Kennedy’s refusal to eat the turkey in 1961. Richard Nixon freed the turkey but gave no pardon. George H.W. Bush began the official presidential turkey pardon tradition. The pardon got attention in 2007 when the turkey found back during the ceremony of H.W.’s son, W.

As my vegetarian friend said, maybe next year’s turkey could be named “Tofu.”

And now the conservative Christians can launch into their mythical persecution and their fantasy of the “war on Christmas.” If you get together with conservatives at the winter holiday dinner, here are some talking points. Just change the title.

November 23, 2019

DDT: Week 148 – Misery Beyond Impeachment

The people of the United States had one victory this past week during the impeachment inquiry: the government didn’t shut down. Without a new budget—or an extension of the existing one—the situation would have returned to the same as December 22, 2018, almost a year ago. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) signed an extension until December 20 that passed the Senate by 74 to 20 (all Republicans) and the House by a mostly party-line vote of 231 to 192. The question is whether he will sign a new budget if it doesn’t have the $8.6 billion that he wants for his wall. Republicans want $5 billion for the structure, and Democrats include no money in all the spending bills they passed. Of the 12 annual spending bills required to fund military and federal agencies, lawmakers have agreed on not one of them. An alternative is to keep funding at current levels through the end of 2020, something that neither side wants. The passed extension includes a 3.1 percent military pay raise and funding for the census.

The bad news for people in the U.S. is that ISIS is rebounding after DDT’s actions causing greater instability in the Middle East by taking assistance from the Kurds. According to a Pentagon report, Turkey’s launch of a military operation caused by DDT’s actions has boosted ISIS ability to go abroad for attack. Despite Turkey’s claims about fighting the terror group, neither Turkey nor its proxy forces will carry through with its promises. The U.S. has stopped training “for commando teams, prison guards, counter-IED techniques, and other specialty skills” that the Kurds lack. DDT had moved the troops in northern Syria only to “protect the oil.” The report states that the Syrian forces joining the Turkish incursion “had not carried out any counterterrorism operations against ISIS since the start of the offensive and were unlikely to do so.” Instead, some of the Turkish-back militias that smuggled ISIS fighters into the area “probably maintain low-level ties to ISIS.” The “ceasefire” is also in name only with these militias engaging in murder and violence.

Last week, DDT insisted, “The ceasefire continues to hold” during his press conference with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “I’m a big fan of the President,” DDT said about Erdogan. The Pentagon sent questions about the ceasefire to the State Department which didn’t respond. Christian genocide-survivors near Tal Tamr are also threatened by militia attacks.

Turkey is also sending ISIS fighters to their “home countries,” beginning with one to the U.S., another to Britain, and seven others to Germany. Erdogan said that he is sending thousands of ISIS-affiliated people in Turkey’s custody back to “their countries of origin.”

DDT sides against democracy and human rights in Hong Kong because he wants a good deal with China. This past week, the House on Wednesday passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act by a vote of 417 to 1 (Thomas Massie, R-KY). The day before, the Senate unanimously approved the measure. DDT’s deference to Xi Jinping resembles that of his devotion to Vladimir Putin.

Last weekend, the media discussed the reason that DDT made an unscheduled trip to Walter Reed Medical Center. He said that it was to start his annual exam earlier; his last one was nine months ago. Yet the visit wasn’t on either his White House or personal calendar. The press secretary claimed he went because he had a free day, but the visit was on Saturday when DDT typically plays golf. The “routine checkups” described for the visit could easily be done at the White House, but results of drug combinations—amphetamines, phenylnephrine, and caffeine—would need more sophisticated equipment.

Press secretary Stephanie Grisham went on Jeanine Pirro’s show to report DDT’s fantastic health despite the fact that he works from 6:00 am to “very, very late at night” something his schedule doesn’t show. Pirro described DDT as “almost superhuman.” Grisham, the press secretary who has never had a press conference, said it was “dangerous for the country” for anyone to challenge the veracity of her claims.

With the world focused on the impeachment inquiry, the news has largely ignored a second whistleblower, this one who reported that at least one political appointee at the Treasury Department may have tried to interfere with an audit of DDT’s or VP Mike Pence’s tax returns. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), chair and ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee are now looking into the complaint with credible allegations of “evidence of possible misconduct,” specifically “inappropriate efforts to influence” the audit of Trump’s materials. The House Ways & Means Committee is also considering obtaining a deposition from the whistleblower and discussing whether to interview the person in a committee executive session.

Earlier this month, DDT’s campaigning failed to elect GOP governors in Kentucky and Louisiana. Now he has worse news: Louisiana’s GOP failed to get a supermajority in its legislature to override the Democratic governor’s veto. The census will bring legislative redistricting in 2020, and the GOP can no longer control the process.   

Clarence Mason Weaver, a new DDT pick for DDT’s advisory board for the reelection campaign device “Black Voices for Trump,” said that women are not equal to men and women should act like “handmaidens” rather than “queens.”

For DDT’s first five months in office, U.S. taxpayers paid his businesses $2,000 a day—over $250,000—for DDT’s Secret Service. He keeps his businesses, visits them with aides and security, and then charges the government for all their expenses. This unconstitutional act violates the Emoluments Clause which DDT calls “silly” and blames on Democrats.   

For the past four years, DDT has used Hillary Clinton’s secure private server as a weapon with constant cries “lock her up.” Yet no Republican has paid attention to Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor and ambassador to the UN, after she sent sensitive and classified information through unsecured channels before she resigned as ambassador. Haley couldn’t find her secure password so on July 4, 2017, she used her unsecured BlackBerry 10 smartphone to send “confidential” information so her aides could “clean it up.” The subject was North Korea’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting Alaska. Haley communicated information about the danger of nuclear war with North Korea. DDT’s pressure to investigate Clinton’s email was probably a factor in her losing, and he continued to investigate everyone surround the issue up through this year.

Back in September when people were mysteriously dying from vaping, DDT supported a national ban on flavored vaping products and claimed, “We can’t allow people to get sick, and we can’t have our kids be so affected.” Regulators cleared the ban, and only DDT’s sign-off was needed. Big business got to him, however, and DDT backed down before a press conference on November 4. He thought the job losses would cause him political problems. Yesterday, he decided that maybe it would be okay if he raised the vaping age to 21. Although some of the deaths are for those under 21 years of age, the median age is 53 with patients’ ages ranging from 13 to 78. And DDT hasn’t signed off on anything about vaping.

Over the objections of the Army Corps of Engineers and Customs and Border Protection officials, Jared Kushner and other officials plan to live-stream DDT’s wall building. Contractors don’t want their techniques available to smugglers who have already sawed through new sections of DDT’s wall. Officials are also concerned that cameras will show work crews violating Mexican sovereignty as they wander south of the border with their vehicles and heavy equipment. U.S. costs will include building web connectivity and keeping people available to reposition the cameras. Kushner has called meetings every two weeks to push for faster construction. So far, DDT has replaced 81 miles of barrier.

Arrested for giving humanitarian aid to two young men from Central America in the Arizona desert, Scott Warren has been exonerated of two felony charges in his second trial. The first one ended in a mistrial with a hung jury. Warren had faced 20 years in prison if prosecutors had proved criminal intent instead of humanitarian aid.

AG Bill Barr said he was going to start executing federal inmates after 16 years of no capital punishment, but a U.S. District Court judge blocked the executions intended to be done by a single drug instead of a mix of three.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr is looking into the Trump Organization’s CFO Allen Weisselberg as part of its criminal investigation into DDT’s business affairs. The question is whether DDT recorded the hush-money reimbursements for DDT’s sexual affairs as “legal expenses,” with sham invoices. Weisselberg’s earlier immunity deal applied only to federal proceedings. Vance’s charges has remained on hold for almost a year until federal prosecutors said that their investigation was “effectively concluded.” The two-year statute of limitations for misdemeanor false-records charges ends on December 5, 2019. Vance is still waiting from the Supreme Court to see if they will hear DDT’s request for blanket immunity from criminal investigation. If the case is not heard, Vance will receive DDT’s tax returns by the end of the year.

November 16, 2019

DDT: Week 147 – Problems Past Impeachment Inquiry

In the trial of Roger Stone, close associate of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), a jury of his peers has unanimously determined his guilt in seven felony counts, including lying to Congress and witness tampering as liaison between WikiLeaks and DDT’s campaign. The last of Robert Mueller’s indictments to be tried, he is the sixth DDT aide or adviser to be convicted. Stone presented his actions as “not intentionally dishonest” and politics as usual; he said that the truth—including revealing DDT’s lies in his written responses to Mueller—would embarrass DDT. On Fox, Stone’s daughter asked DDT to pardon her father. After hearing of the conviction, DDT demanded that several federal officials past and present, including Hillary Clinton and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), be sent to prison.

Lawyers are calling for the impeachment of AG Bill Barr after his speech to the right-wing judicial activist group The Federalist Society in which he attacked “the left” and called on king-like powers for DDT:

“The fact of the matter is: that in waging a scorched earth, no holds-barred war of resistance against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in the systemic shredding of norms and undermining the rule of law.”

A month ago, Barr attacked “radical secularists” in a speech at Notre Dame Law School. Barr, who published his philosophy that the president is above the law with his “unitary executive theory” of unfettered control over the executive branch, is working on a report smearing the U.S. intelligence agencies and refuting the Mueller investigation by talking to leaders of foreign governments.   

The Circuit Court for the District of Columbia Congress upheld a lower court and ruled against DDT’s immunity by permitting Congress to get eight years of DDT’s tax returns. Three of the 11 appeals judges voted to return the decision to a lower court—two DDT judges and one appointed by George H.W. Bush. The court put the ruling on hold for seven days while DDT appeals to the Supreme Court. In addition to these two court rulings, two earlier cases, United States v. Nixon (1974) and Clinton v. Jones (1997), unanimously ruled against presidential immunity.

Other DDT’s lawsuits that could reach the Supreme Court include congressional demand for accessing redacted portions of Mueller’s investigation and violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause. New York wants records regarding hush money for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to see if they have been falsified.

Another lawsuit charges DDT and his son-in-law/senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner, with violating the law when they failed to keep records of meetings with foreign officials including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, and top Saudi officials. DDT had at least five meetings with Putin with no notetaker and confiscated a State Department interpreter’s note from another meeting with Putin. No record came from DDT’s private meeting in Vietnam. Kushner recently met with top Saudi officials with no State Department officials and no record.

The Trump Organization has agreed to pay $290,000 to the Scottish government, ending a multiyear legal battle in which Donald Trump tried and failed to block an offshore wind farm from being built in view of one of his Scottish golf courses. In the beginning of his fight with Scotland, DDT wrote, “I am going to fight [Scottish first minister Alex Salmond] for as long as it takes—to hell if I have to—and spend as much as it takes to block this useless and grotesque blot on our heritage.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan killed U.S.-allied Kurds and displaced 200,000 more from Syria after he promised not to do so, and his staff beat up U.S. resident protesters in Washington, DC the last time that he visited. This week, Erdogan visited again, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gave the Turkish autocrat the same inducements DDT promised in a deal that Erdogan failed to follow: a $100 billion trade deal and a way to avoid U.S. sanctions over Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system. Last month, the House overwhelmingly voted to impose sanctions on Turkey over its assault into Syria, and a bipartisan group of senators who introduced a similar bill. DDT calls Erdogan, who commits war crimes, “a friend” who “deserves respect.” 

During a press conference, Erdogan denied the Armenian genocide, and DDT said nothing. From 2014 to 1923, the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, which became Turkey, systematically exterminated and expelled 1.5 million ethnic Armenians, starting with wholesale killing of males through massacre. Two weeks ago, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 405 to 11 in favor of a resolution to recognize the killing of 1.5 million Armenians more than a century ago as a genocide. While Erdogan was in the Oval Office, he showed a film depicting Kurds as terrorists to DDT and several Republicans, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (SC), Ted Cruz (TX), and Rick Scott (FL). Graham blocked the House resolution after the meeting. DDT repeated his falsehood, “We’re keeping the oil.” His officials know that taking oil out of Syria for the financial benefit of the U.S.—or DDT—clearly violates the law.

Before DDT was elected to the Oval Office, he said that he had “a little conflict of interest” in Turkey because of his two Trump towers in Istanbul. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton said that DDT’s foreign policy about Turkey comes from personal and financial interest.

DDT made tens of millions of dollars in profits by allowing Colombian drug cartels and other groups to launder money through the hotel in Panama that formerly carried his brand. Drug cartels bought hotel unit to conceal sources of money earned through drug trafficking and other criminal activities. In investigating conflicts of interest, the Sunlight Foundation found over 600 for DDT and 1,100 for the First Family.

After a recanvass of election results, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin conceded his race for reelection. Democrat Andy Beshear had defeated Bevin by over 5,000 votes. In Louisiana, Democratic John Bel Edwards won a second term by over two percent. DDT had vigorously campaigned for GOP gubernatorial candidates in both Kentucky and Louisiana.

DDT had an unannounced physical today after his regular annual exam last February. In the past, he had his physical performed by a doctor who was drunk on the job, wrote a letter himself that his doctor signed about how great his health is, provided zero test results from his physicals,and faked all of his other health data. The exam was not on DDT’s personal schedule yesterday.

A federal judge ruled that Florida cannot automatically put DDT’s name first on the ballot for presidential candidates. Three other states have had the same archaic law—Arizona, Georgia, and Texas.

Over 900 leaked emails from white supremacist and DDT’s aide Stephen Miller to Breitbart News show how he shaped its ideology through articles and talking points from white nationalist websites and a book about “white genocide” praised by white nationalists and neo-Nazis. He complained about the removal of Confederate flags after a white supremacist killed nine blacks were killed in a Charleston (SC) church and talks about only crimes that are committed by non-whites. He pushes against non-white immigrants and supports policies praised by Hitler. Miller worked on a “fast track” proposal with Gordon Sondland, EU ambassador and witness in impeachment inquiry, to boost immigration to the U.S. of skilled and wealthy Europeans. Seventeen Jewish groups and elected officials have called for Miller’s firingDDT is defending his white supremacist aide.

Donald Trump Jr.’s book Triggered  is #1 on the NYT book list because of bulk sales to political groups such as the RNC and DDT’s campaign. But he still faces problems on his advertising tour. MAGA conservatives drove him out of a two-hour appearance after 20 minutes because he and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle would answer questions. The first protesters in the crowd of 450 people were America Firsters, but the hubbub worsened. University of Florida student body president, Michael Murphy, may be impeached because he used $50,000 of student tuition fees to bring Jr, GOP activist Guilfoyle, and RNC official Tommy Hicks, to speak. Student funds cannot pay for events either supporting or opposing “a political party at any level.” In a New York bookstore, unknown people moved Jr.’s book into the Young Adult section with the title Daddy, Please Love Me: How Everything I Do Is to Earn My Father’s Love.

DDT may wonder about his future. In a speech before 400 Orthodox Jews in the U.S., DDT suggested that he could go to Israel to be “prime minister” of Israel “if anything happens here”: polarization in Israel is preventing the selection of someone for this position. On the other hand, fraudulent voting may put him back into office. The federal government restricts balloons and colored pencils—and many other ordinary consumer products—much more than the nation’s voting machines which are “largely free” from government supervision according to the Brennan Center for Justice. The three companies that dominate the voting technology industry—Election Systems & Software (ES&S), Dominion, and Hart InterCivic—have all had trouble with accuracy and accusations of miscounts.

October 19, 2019

How DDT ‘Deals’ with World Leaders

[Note: To readers who notice when postings disappear on Nels New Day for a while, I will be gone for several days. Looking forward to a recap of this week’s events next weekend—like the bedbugs at Doral are safe because Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) didn’t like all the criticism of holding the 2020 G7 summit at his personal resort. There goes his millions of dollars.] 

The following piece by Shay Khatiri  posted on Charlie Sykes’ The Bulwark analyzes the reason behind DDT’s relationships.

“On Wednesday, the White House published a letter, dated October 9th, that President Trump sent to his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. First, he issued a warning to Erdogan that he would ‘destroy the Turkish economy’ if Erdogan went ahead with his genocidal plan. Then, he gave Erdogan a carrot, that if he makes peace with the Syrian Democratic Forces’ leader General Mazlum Abadi, ‘history will look upon [Erdogan] favorably.’ That didn’t deter Erdogan. Instead, the letter ended up in the trash. It’s obvious to virtually all observers of foreign policy that this type of intimidation would not work, but not to the President.

“Surveying Donald Trump’s brand of personal diplomacy, one wonders whether the President of the United States is committing the fatal sin of mirror imaging.

“Mirror imaging is a cognitive trap that strategists fall into when they mistakenly assume that an adversary will behave the same way they themselves would. It is common—something strategists are wary of and teach inexperienced analysts to avoid. For example, the key mistake made by the United States that led to Pearl Harbor was mirror imaging. The attack surprised American strategists because they would not have made the same decisions had they been in Japan’s position.

“This is a trap that Donald Trump is falling into.

“Based upon his past actions, Donald Trump has made clear there are a few things that incentivize him: personal recognition and financial gain, chief among them. The notoriety and historical significance of being the first president to walk in the Korean demilitarized zone or being the guy who signs a deal with the Taliban to end the Afghanistan War on an anniversary of 9/11 are cases that attest to his desire for grandiosity at the expense of rational strategy. The consequences of his decisions that will come to fruition after he leaves the office are no matter to him.

“It is troubling to imagine then, that he thinks that all leaders function the same way.

“Trump’s most frequently (read: only) used foreign policy tool has been America’s economic power. Whether dealing with the Europeans or the Chinese, whether punishing the Iranians or the Turks, Trump’s only resort has been sanctions and tariffs. Issuing a threat to Turkey to deter it from massacring the Syrian Kurds, Trump vowed to destroy Turkey’s economy if Erdogan went ahead with his plan. Similarly, he has responded to Iran’s growing aggressions since the spring only with sanctions.

“He also tries personal appeasement. Trump infamously praises dictators regularly, even as he is slamming them with economic pressure. He also praises allied country leaders like Macron, Merkel, and May, again, as he is slamming their economies with tariffs and criticisms on military expenditure.

“Donald Trump was a New York real estate developer and TV celebrity. His previous life was almost entirely comprised of materialistic individuals driven by greed and ego. The characters he found himself surrounded by responded to straight-forward personal incentives. World leaders don’t. There are other and often greater factors heads of state take into consideration when they make decisions.

“But Trump thinks that they operate the same way he does, or at least are motivated by a similar type of selfishness. This is why he wrongly assumed that the threat of economic sanctions would deter Erdogan from massacring Syrian Kurds. The same logic applies to his thinking that sanctions would deter Iran in the Persian Gulf, something that hasn’t happened. Similarly, he tried to broker deals with China and North Korea with the stick of economic pressure and carrot of personal appeasement.

“In the case of Turkey, Erdogan has other concerns. He doesn’t want a Kurdish separatist group on his southern border. Fertility rates for Turks and Kurds in Turkey suggest that Turkey’s population could be majority Kurdish within a generation or two, which is unacceptable to Erdogan’s ethno-nationalist vision. These are factors that have never and would never cross Trump’s mind. This is the result of mirror imaging.

“Miscalculations by leaders pose “tremendous” threats to international security. Khrushchev’s miscalculation led to the Cuban missile crisis and almost brought on a nuclear war. Japan’s miscalculation and mirror imaging cost it to absorb two nuclear bombs.

Since the end of World War II, Americans have benefited from reasonably responsible leaders, the quality of our governmental institutions, and our power in most forms. These factors have minimized the costs, number, and magnitude of miscalculations like mirror imaging. As the power gap with our adversaries is narrowing, partially due to their rise and partially due to our self-inflicted wounds, we also must grapple with the fact that we have a leader religiously committed to miscalculations and weakening our institutions.”

Erdogan was highly offended by the language and message in DDT’s letter because he values himself as a strongman. DDT’s condescending language such as “don’t be fool” and DDT has “worked hard to solve some of your problems” shows Erodogan that DDT considers himself superior to the Turkish president. Erdogan sends people to prison for milder language and reacts negatively to criticism from other countries.

At first, Erdogan pretended he didn’t get the letter, and Faik Oztrak of the Republican People’s Party called the letter a “rag.” Former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu tweeted: “The Turkish nation has been insulted. [Erdogan’s planned] U.S. visit must be canceled unless an immediate apology is forthcoming.” Then a government official reported Erdogan’s rejection by saying the letter “was thrown into the trash.”

Fifty-five years ago, Lyndon Johnson wrote Turkish Prime Minister Ismet Inonu about the damage that a Turkish-Greek war would cause to NATO and warned of the Soviet involvement. Johnson threatened that he would not agree to the use of U.S. military equipment if that happened. Turkey didn’t take up arms against Cyprus, but the country restored relationships with the Soviet Union. Anti-Americanism peaked four years later in 1968 with the Vietnam War and western “imperialism.” Erdogan has scheduled talks with Vladimir Putin next week. 

DDT sent this letter during a time of shrinking U.S. popularity among Turks: 81 percent of them pick the U.S. as the greatest threat to Turkey, up from 44 percent three years ago. Last Thursday night, DDT bragged to a rally audience about his wonderful agreement, one that gave up everything for what he called a “ceasefire,” but Turkish forces began bombing Kurds almost immediately after VP Mike Pence, who brokered the non-deal, left Istanbul.

In a bizarre spin, DDT repeated Erdogan’s lies that there was only “minor sniper and mortar fire that was quickly eliminated,” something that the Kurds “want … to happen.” He added that the Kurds should be grateful for this “ultimate solution.”

A series of DDT’s tweets included this one:

“The U.S. has secured the Oil, & the ISIS Fighters are double secured by Kurds & Turkey.”

No and no.

DDT desperately needs praise, and his actions have produced great acclaim from Russia

“Putin won the lottery! Russia’s unexpected triumph in the Middle East. Those who were convinced of Trump’s uselessness for Russia ought to think again… Trump’s mistake in Syria is the unexpected ‘lottery win’ that further strengthened Moscow’s position in the Middle East and undermined America’s prestige as a rational political player and a reliable partner.”—Mikhail Rostovsky in the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.

“All of this benefits the Russian Federation. You know, I’ve been watching Trump’s behavior lately and get seditious thoughts: maybe he really is a Russian agent? He is laboring so hard to strengthen the international image of Russia in general—and Putin in particular…In this situation, Americans—to their chagrin and our enjoyment—are the only losers in this situation.”—Maksim Yusin, editor of international politics at the leading Russian business daily Kommersant

“This is such a pleasure. Russian soldiers have taken an American base under our complete control, without a fight! Trump ran away!”—Olga Skabeeva, host of Russia’s state television program 60 Minutes

“It’s been a long time since America has been humiliated this way. For us, this is of great interest, because this is a key region where energy prices are being determined. That is a shining cherry on top.” —Mikhail Sinelnikov-Orishak, political analyst

 “They ran away in shame! I can’t recall such a scenario since Vietnam. For us, this is of great interest, because this is a key region where energy prices are being determined. That is a shining cherry on top.”

It’s the “art of the deal” from someone who believes that everyone thinks exactly like him.

October 18, 2019

DDT: Week 143 – A World on Fire

Perhaps the best daily rundown of politics comes from Rantt Media, created two years ago. Today’s summary covers the damage of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in Syria:

“President Trump has singlehandedly undone years of progress in Syria, enabled atrocities against our allies, and eroded America’s credibility in a matter of days. The situation in Syria was relatively stable until the self-proclaimed stable genius decided to launch a betrayal of historic proportions and throw the region into chaos.

“On October 6, Trump announced the spontaneous withdrawal of 50-100 troops from Northern Syria and the abandonment of Kurdish forces who helped us diminish ISIS. The announcement came after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who wasted no time commencing his slaughter of the Kurds.

“Since last week, the Kurds have reported at least 218 civilians killed, including 18 children, and 650 injured. More than 160,000 people have been displaced. Over 700 ISIS supporters have fled prisons the Kurds were guarding. There have been reports of white phosphorous used against Kurdish civilians, which would constitute a war crime on the part of Turkey. After all of that, the Trump Administration then cut a deal with Turkey that puts a rubber stamp on all of their goals…

“Turkey’s objective is to push the Kurds out of Northern Syria. What Pence announced was actually that the US is now backing Turkey’s objective and that the Kurds must leave their homeland or be slaughtered. Meanwhile, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and Russia are able to move into newly ceded land. The move was surrender. And before the day was complete, the idea that it was a ‘ceasefire’ at all quickly unraveled when reports of gunfire and shelling began to pour in…

“After the announcement, President Trump claimed this surrender was a victory.”

Rachel Maddow tweeted this summary:

  1. turkey wants to push the kurds out of that part of syria.
  2. trump gives ‘em the OK to invade.
  3. pence brokers a “deal” in which the kurds… must get out of that part of syria.
  4. the US agrees to un-sanction turkey.

After the Kurdish debacle, Budget Director and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney held a press conference and confirmed that he held up military aid to Ukraine to force the country to investigate DDT’s political rival. For months, Republicans, including DDT, claimed no quid pro quo despite evidence that DDT, his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, and DDT’s political appointees illegally tried to extort the Ukrainians into interfering in the 2020 election. Mulvaney justified the extortion with the assertion, “We do that all that time with foreign policy” and then told concerned people “Get over it.” Those close to DDT, including his lawyer Jay Sekulow, disavowed Mulvaney’s statement who then released a statement falsely saying that his words were “misconstrued.” Fox’s Laura Ingraham excused Mulvaney’s “mistake” because Mulvaney isn’t a lawyer. Mulvaney graduated from the law school at the University of North Carolina in 1992 and practiced law for five years.

Mulvaney also announced that DDT will host the 2020 G7 summit at his personally-owned Doral Miami Golf Club in a brazen violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Emolument Clause. The facility has such a bad reputation for cleanliness that the nickname for next year’s G7 meeting is Bedbug Summit. Even Fox journalist Chris Stirewalt was stunned by this announcement and recent events, saying, “The world is on fire.” In 2012, President Barack Obama held the summit at the government-owned retreat at Camp David in Maryland. Eric Trump promised that his father would not overcharge people; the government paid $546 per night for each staffer’s lodging at DDT’s Mar-a-Lago Club. A lawsuit against DDT illegally profiting from foreign and state governments will be heard before the entire 4th Circuit Court on December 12. DDT says that his court defeats are temporary because he’s appointing all the judges.

A detailed look at DDT tax documents with businesses appearing more profitable to lenders and less profitable to tax officials could be “versions of fraud,” according to a tax expert. Taken from DDT’s property tax appeal for nine years, the information comes from expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings with no explanation for multiple inconsistencies. Two former DDT associates, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, went to prison, in part for falsifying tax and bank records, some related to real estate.

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) walked out of DDT’s Wednesday meeting, DDT accused her of having a meltdown. CNN correspondent Jamie Gangel, however, reported that Republicans were seriously alarmed about DDT’s behavior, describing them as “completely shaken,” “shell shocked,” and “sickened.” In public, Republicans defended DDT; in private, they said that he isn’t in control of himself. DDT’s frenetic frustration with the impeachment inquiry was demonstrated with a massive number of tweets—almost 50 of them five days after the impeachment inquiry started and many more since then. Hashtags started using the term “meltdown” after DDT’s erratic behavior during a press conference with the Finnish president, and comments about DDT’s mental fitness accelerated. Since that time, he’s played the martyr, heckler, autocrat, projectionist, conspiracist, and bully.  

Giuliani may have a connection to Dmitry Firtash’s attempt to avoid extradition to the U.S. Firtash’s associates worked to get dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for Giuliani’s help in Firtash’s legal case. Fox consultant Joe deGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing, both lawyers, billed Firtash $1 million that included costs for Lev Parnas, Giuliani’s associate who has been arrested for violating campaign-finance laws. Part of the “dirt” was a witness statement from Viktor Shokin, a former Ukrainian prosecutor-general, that helped Giuliani renew his conspiracy theory about Biden’s attempt to help his son in Ukraine. In June, diGenova and Toensing’s son, Brady Toensing, joined the DOJ as senior counsel in the Office of Legal Policy.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to break up the team that assesses the environmental impacts of major projects on the nation’s public lands and spread them across seven states. The Department of Interior already announced it would move Grand Junction (CO) in a building shared by Chevron with 300 staffers moved across the West. Only 61 employees would stay in D.C. The strategy seems to be a dismantling of the agency and its ability to conduct energy development.

In his claim to “drain the swamp,” DDT has thus far appointed 1 lobbyist for each 14 political appointments—a total of 261.

DDT’s Miami resort, Doral, was the site of a conservative event featuring Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Donald Trump Jr. The “entertainment” included a video with DDT in a church setting, slaughtering church worshipers and representatives of CNN, NPR, MSNBC and Black Lives Matter as well as politicians such as the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Hillary Clinton in the “Church of Fake News.” DDT never responded.

Conference-goers also chanted, “War! War!” after Pastor Mark Burns told the crowd three times, “We’ve come to declare war!” A white radio host Wayne Allyn Root also bragged about beating up black students at his high school and saying “it was funny.” Root added, “To win in politics … you’ve got to be a natural-born killer.”

Red-meat lovers rejoiced at a study that eating red meat isn’t the health problem purported in the past. Seems that the study was done by a group partially funded by the beef industry. Sort of like studies that Monsanto and GMO foods aren’t dangerous being subsidized by Monsanto.

It’s pretty shady when your international business success is all about your father’s name, Donald Trump Jr. said. DDT said that it was wrong that Hunter Biden make money off his father’s name. That was the same day that DDT said that the 2020 G7 summit would be at his personal resort, making him millions of dollars and charging taxpayers more millions of dollars for permanent upgrades–all also benefiting the man who carries DDT’s name, Donald Trump, Jr.

DDT was up to 13,435 false claims in his first 995 days, an average of 22 per day since the last check on April 26, 2019 and a drastic increase from the 5 to 7 during his first year. Ukraine alone accounts for over 250 lies in the past few weeks. One of the most dangerous was his accusation that Kurds deliberately released ISIS prisoners to get the U.S. involved in the conflict. The Kurds have always been U.S. allies. 

The wife of a U.S. senior spy killed a 19-year-old motorcycle rider in Britain because she didn’t know which side of the road to drive on and then fled the country. DDT wants to introduce her to the dead man’s parents in front of a gaggle of reporters. DDT defended the wife by saying that drivers have to “be careful” when driving on “opposite roads.” In Virginia, the woman had been ticketed for failing to “pay full time and attention.”

DDT’s approval ratings averaged 40.7% during his 11th quarter in office, beginning on July 20 and ending on October 19 and a two-percent drop from the previous quarter.

October 17, 2019

DDT: Kurds Need to be ‘Cleaned Out’

Eleven days after Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) blew up the Middle East by pulling 50 U.S. service members helping Kurds in northern Syria, he declares victory by allowing Turkey to take over northern Syria and drive the Kurds, U.S. allies, from their land (green area). In the “agreement,” the U.S. will help Turkey fight “terrorists” (the term that Turkey uses for all Kurds) and protect the “safe zone” (the Kurdish land).

Because of DDT’s telephone call with Turkey, hundreds of ISIS supporters, including many leaders, have escaped from camps where the Kurds were keeping them, and U.S. troops were attacked by Turkey, supposedly a NATO ally of the U.S.

The end result for the United States is that ISIS now has a place to rebuild its forces, the world knows that the U.S. is unreliable, and DDT supported another autocrat. The U.S. even bombed its own base in an attempt to avoid embarrassment about its disorganized pullout. Europeans also further separate themselves from the United States. 

Tonight, DDT stayed indifferent to the plight of a former U.S. ally by saying that the area earlier occupied by Kurds has been “cleaned out,” a term for genocide. About the conflict that he generated, DDT said, “Sometimes you have to let them fight. It’s like two kids in a lot, you got to let them fight and then you pull them apart.” In this case, the “fight” displaced over 100,000 Kurds, causing them to lose their homes and killing many of them, while permitting Turkey to annex part of Syria. 

Turkey got everything it wanted, and DDT gave Vladimir Putin another favor. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said Trump’s decision to abandon Kurdish allies in Syria “will stand as a bloodstain in the annals of American history.” Brett McGurk, former civilian head of the administration’s U.S.-led counter-IS campaign, wrote that the deal was a gift to the Turks “with no ability to meaningfully influence facts on the ground” and “non-implementable.”

VP Mike Pence and State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo brokered the deal that gave away Syrian land to Turkey. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was far more clear about the strategy, saying that the only reason for the 120-hour hiatus was to allow Kurds to flee their homes. The U.S. has no way to monitor the agreement, and ISIS will have the land to build their forces.

Every day since DDT’s call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been a disaster as he moved between surprise and disaster. His October 6 proclamation showed that he knew Turkey would attack the Kurds. Twelve hours later he threatened Turkey and then said that any conflict was not his problem. Three days later he wrote Erogan a letter that looks like a joke from beginning: 

“Let’s work out a good deal! You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people ….”

To his conclusion: “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!” 

After nine days, he doubled tariffs on steel, increasing the percentage to the same as last May which had caused imports to sharply fall by 76 percent. He also lied about putting tariffs on the $100 billion in trade: reality is closer to $24 billion. DDT imposed sanctions on Turkey’s defense and energy ministries, as well as some high-profile Turkish officials. With these ineffectual measures, a bipartisan congressional coalition considered targeting Erdogan’s U.S. assets and suspending U.S. military support. For months, senators worked on bipartisan sanctions required by law to punish Turkey’s purchase of an advanced Russian antimissile system.

ISIS has reason to thank DDT: U.S. air surveillance turned from them to U.S. troops in an attempt to protect them from attacks by Turkey. Earlier this week, DDT tweeted:

“After defeating 100% of the ISIS Caliphate, I largely moved our troops out of Syria. Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land. I said to my Generals, why should we be fighting for Syria….”

As usual, DDT lied. The caliphate is not defeated, and DDT didn’t single-handedly win any victories.

Iran also benefits from DDT’s laissez faire toward the crisis. Monday, he tweeted indifference about the conflict because we are 7,000 miles away!” Russia moved into the vacuum that DDT left in northern Syria into a military outpost that the U.S. abandoned, and Vladimir Putman may be replacing DDT in Saudi Arabia, as indicated by Putin’s meeting with King Salman. China, alienated by DDT’s trade war, has reached out to Russia, and India is being folded into their partnership. Russia and China have joined in military exercises for joint power, and they work together in energy and aerospace. India’s external affairs minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, has said for two years that his country needs a relationship of “stability,” which doesn’t represent the United States. Together China, Russia, and India comprise over 36 percent of the world’s population; the United States has under 5 percent.

DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has also taken a part in Turkey in Erdogan’s desired attempted extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, hoping to send Gulen back to his death in Turkey. Living in exile for the past 20 years in Pennsylvania, Gulen is blamed for plotting the 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan but denied any involvement in the plot. White House aides worried that Giuliani is working on behalf of the Turkish government. DDT frequently questioned officials about why Gulen shouldn’t be turned over to “my friend” Erdogan although officials explained that the extradition was illegal and would politically damage DDT. Giuliani’s aggressive work at Gulen’s extradition began after Michael Flynn, in prison for lying about his paid work for Turkey, lobbied DDT for the same purpose. Giuliani was also behind the attempt to stop prosecution of a Turkish Iranian man for money laundering which could violate lobbying laws.  

Advisers had told DDT that not doing anything about the Kurdish issue is costly, the lack of U.S. presence in the region strengthens Iran, and he will be politically damaged by the deteriorating situation. Another problem with Turkey is that the U.S. has stored as many as 50 nuclear weapons in the country at Incirlik, public knowledge because DDT frequently discloses sensitive information. On Wednesday, he appeared to confirm information about the weapons’ location which the U.S. attempts to hide. DDT claimed the weapons were safe because “we have a great air base there—a very powerful air base.” According to Vipin Narang, a nuclear proliferation expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Incirlik is Turkey’s air base.”

DDT has caused deaths in the United States with his endorsement of violence. Now he tacitly grants Turkey the right to kill Kurds. In the humanitarian disaster of the Turkish invasion, at least 100,000 Kurds have been displaced. Last weekend, Turkish-backed military executed Kurds, including a women human-rights activist. In 2018, when DDT was resistant to U.S. troops in Syria, the Pentagon and State Department persuaded Kurds not to plan for a U.S. departure. Without this betrayal, Kurds could have eased out of the relationship and moved on to a partnership with Syria and Russia. Instead, they were forced into a crisis.

Once again, DDT demonstrated his indifference to human life when he said yesterday that the Kurds would be fine because they “know how to fight.” He added, “There’s a lot of sand they can play with.” In a meeting with congressional leaders, he called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) a “third-grade politician” and referred to former Defense Secretary James Mattis the “world’s most overrated general” after the House bipartisan resolution criticizing DDT’s pulling troops out of northern Syria. The vote was 354 to 60 with three Republicans and independent Rep. Justin Amash (MI) voting present. Although the GOP leadership were among the 129 Republican supporting the resolution, opposition came from the leaders of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, the co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus Tom Reed (R-NY), and VP Mike Pence’s brother Greg Pence (R-IN).  

In his delusion, DDT claimed that he himself “captured” the Islamic State after accusing Mattis not being “tough enough.” He falsely declared that U.S. soldiers “are totally safe” although they were “bracketed” by artillery fire by Turkey, supposedly a NATO ally, and may need to be airlifted away from Turkish attacks. DDT pulled out military forces with no contingency plan, no idea of how to rescue the troops under attack.

DDT briefly broke up his beautiful friendship sometime sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who said that DDT “will have American blood on his hands if he abandons Kurds because ISIS will come back, and if any American is killed anywhere because a resurgent ISIS, it will fall on the Trump administration like it did Obama.” Like other tiffs between DDT and Graham, the senator will likely back off: he thinks he needs DDT to get reelected next year. 

The goal of Republicans now is to convince their base, including the evangelicals, that killing the Kurds is a good idea.

 

October 12, 2019

Impeachment Causes Panic, Disaster

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) presided over two campaign rallies in the past week, those in Minnesota and Louisiana, and ramped up his fury. While networks no longer televise his speeches because they lack information, the media publicizes clips, many of them “bleeped” because the man in the Oval Office uses such coarse language that it cannot be broadcast. Amidst abusive insults, DDT’s liberal sprinkling of “R-rated” vulgarities are delivered to an audience where small children are present. At one point, he seemed to be trying to imitate language during sex between former FBI agent Peter Strzok and attorney Lisa Page. It’s the new normal for how the leader of the U.S. represents the nation throughout the world—foul fury delivered in profanities with no relationship to policy.

The visuals from DDT’s rallies always show wildly cheering people, ecstatic about every curse that comes out of DDT’s mouth. There is a reason: he orchestrates his rallies like a “reality” television program with section leaders guiding their every move. John Pence, VP Mike Pence’s nephew, acts as one of these section leaders who urge the audience to chant, leads them, and then tells them when to quit, according to Omarosa Manigault Newman. She added that Pence is “particularly responsible for all of the staging and choreography of the campaigns … to get the outcome that we saw from Donald Trump saying go back to your countries that you came from and if you don’t love it, leave it.” All of it is coordinated and manufactured “to stoke fear in this country and we’ve seen it, we feel it, and they’re going to continue on because they believe it’s a winning strategy,” Newman said. About the 13-second “send her back” chant in Greenville, Newman said:

“If he wanted to shut it down, he would have looked to his right which is where the lead is standing, and he would have given a signal. They would have been shut down immediately. The way that he stepped back and he basked in the glow of these ugly chants, it indicated to the section leaders to let them keep going, to stoke them up, to keep it going.”

DDT’s rallies look good for his campaign, but they’re bad news for city and county budgets. Knowing that DDT’s campaigns have already stiffed at least ten cities over millions of dollars in unpaid expenditures, Minneapolis demanded the $530,000 cost for this week’s rally upfront. DDT threatened to sue the city, and it backed down. 

At today’s speech for the hate group Values Voters Summit, DDT seemed to have a mental breakdown. After complaining about the IRS being used against him, he said:

“Generations of Americans before us … did not work. They fight. They sacrifice. They do so much.”

He apparently cleaned up his language for the evangelicals, however, who have criticized DDT for “using the Lord’s name in vain.”

The Scottish government also can’t get legal costs out of DDT after he lost his case to block windmills near his Aberdeen golf course and was ordered to the government’s bills. DDT lost $14.3 million at his two Scottish golf courses last year, adding to losses for each of several previous years.

DDT’s business is also selling off real estate—about $110 million—in about 100 transactions in a goal to hoard money.  In January 2018, the sale of land in the Dominican Republic for $3.2 million clearly violated DDT’s promise to have no foreign deals while he was in office. DDT’s mansion in Beverly Hills went for $13.5 million to a company tied to Indonesian billionaire and DDT’s business partner Hary Tanoesoedibjo. A woman running a business selling access to Chinese officials got a Manhattan penthouse. HUD Ben Carson okayed the $900 million sale of the biggest federal subsidized housing complex, Spring Creek Towers, with DDT having a four-percent ownership. Sales erased liabilities of $19 million in New York, $8 million in San Francisco, and $12 million in Las Vegas Condo as the business repaid $60 million liabilities since his inauguration. Details here.  

DDT has failed to live up to his campaign promises in every major way except getting rid of regulations, and that goal is to help himself and big business at the cost of public safety and economic benefit. His focus, “drain the swamp,” has shifted to “fill the swamp.” In 33 months, DDT has put more ex-lobbyists into his Cabinet than either President Obama or George W. Bush did in their entire eight years. The $3.4 billion spent on lobbying in 2019 is the most since 2010, and DDT uses his office to make money for his personal businesses. Without DDT’s executive orders for two years hiatus before appointments or avoidance of conflicts of interest, these former lobbyists represent their earlier employers’ interests in the departments of Defense, Interior, EPA, Labor, Trade.

During his campaign, DDT suckered in voters by claiming to be a fabulous businessman, and he continues to brag about having “a lot of business ability” to make the right decisions. His narcissism drives him to be the most aggressive micromanager ever seated in the Oval Office. Former Jim Mattis disagrees with DDT’s style of telling people what to do with no background for his orders. In his memoir Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Read, Mattis, who has a personal collection of over 7,000 books, wrote:

 “If you haven’t read hundreds of books, you are functionally illiterate, and you will be incompetent, because your personal experiences alone aren’t broad enough to sustain you. Any commander who claims he is ‘too busy to read’ is going to fill body bags with his troops as he learns the hard way. Reading sheds light on the dark path ahead. By traveling into the past, I enhance my grasp of the present.”

DDT doesn’t know if Rudy Giuliani remains his lawyer because he hasn’t spoken to Giuliani for several days, starting to throw Giuliani “under the bus.” Giuliani stated that he is still DDT’s lawyer, and DDT today defended Giuliani after federal prosecutors began a criminal investigation into Giuliani’s breaking lobbying laws while trying to drive Ukraine’s U.S. ambassador Marie Yavonovitch out of the country.

Giuliani may have incriminated DDT in the Ukrainian crimes by saying that he wasn’t guilty of foreign lobbying violations because he was following DDT’s directions. Referring to his work to get Marie Yovanovitch, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, pulled out of the country, he said:

“It would be kind of ridiculous to say I was doing it on [former Ukrainian prosecutor] Lutsenko’s behalf when I was representing the president of the United States.”

DDT’s withdrawal of assistance from Kurds to allow Turkish invasion has reached a new level of disaster: Turkish forces are deliberately attacking U.S. forces in Syria to take over the land. Turkey knows where U.S. forces are stationed in Syria, and Brett McGurk, former special envoy for DDT against ISIS, said that the attack against the U.S. was deliberate. DDT’s military leaders Mark Esper and Mark Milley said that the Pentagon would not abandon the Kurds but have withdrawn forces to protect them from Turkey’s invasion.

In another unprecedented anti-immigrant action, DDT signed an executive order requiring state and local governments to consent in writing before people can arrive. He announced his move at his Minneapolis rally when he called their U.S. representative, Ilhan Omar, “an American-hating socialist.” No GOP governments and state officials are commenting on DDT’s new order. Case history shows that refugee and immigration policy is federal, not state.

In AG Bill Barr’s attack on the First Amendment separation of church and state before the Notre Dame’s law school audience, he blamed “secularists” and “so-called progressives” for destroying U.S. society. He said:

“This is not decay. This is organized destruction. Secularists and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.”

Barr profited off these industries while serving as general counsel at Verizon, being paid as a Time Warner board member, and representing telecom GTE. To Barr, freedom of religion is a “moral upheaval,” especially in public schools. This is the man selected to protect all the people in the United States.

Other Bits:

Two valuable advisory boards to protect marine life and fight invasive species disappeared after DDT refused to fund them. Both NOAA’s Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee and the Interior Department’s Invasive Species Advisory Committee had operated for over a decade.

If DDT gets his way, reporters will be exempted from the White House, in conflict with the constitution’s First Amendment, if DDT gets his way.

Microsoft discovered that Iran tried to identify, attack and breach email accounts belonging to DDT’s campaign last summer. Will Republicans who aren’t bothered by Russian interference in past elections mind if countries opposed to them do the same thing for the other side in 2020?

October 10, 2019

Corruption Begins at Home

With his current obsession in investigating corruption, which he claimed after the extortion call to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) needs to look closer to home.

Today, two men who worked with DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested as they tried to board a plane to Vienna at Dulles airport near Washington, DC on charges of conspiring to skirt federal laws that prohibit foreign nationals from contributing to US campaigns. They allegedly laundered foreign money with corporate identities and “straw donors” in “secret agreements” to hide the plan from candidates and federal regulators. Parnas and Fruman had one-way tickets, and Giuliani had planned to fly there last night. He refused to comment other than he didn’t plan to meet with them there. DDT said, “I don’t know those gentlemen.” Parnas had posted photos of his dinner with DDT at the White House on May 1, 2018 that have since been pulled. [From left: Vice President Mike Pence, Igor Fruman, Lev Parnas, President Donald Trump, and Trump Lawyer Rudy Giuliani – Miami Herald]

Two other defendants, Andrey Kukushkin and Parnas’ longtime partner David Correia, a longtime business partner of Parnas, were also indicted on the same charges while allegedly working with Parnas and Fruman. Kukushkin was arrested last night in San Francisco. Bill Sweeney, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said that “this investigation is about corrupt behavior, deliberate lawbreaking.” Paul Manafort’s lawyers are representing Parnas and Fruman.

House Democrats had subpoenaed Parnas and Fruman for documents and testimony after they refused to voluntarily appear before House committees.  Both men are immigrants, Parnas from Ukraine and Fruman from Belarus. Parnas also worked with Guiliani to push falsehoods that Ukraine tried to interfere in the 2016 election on the part of Hillary Clinton.

Parnas’ involvement in the Ukraine scandal seems to go back to the beginning with his job as Giuliani’s fixer, the man who connected Giuliani to Ukrainian prosecutors willing to do bogus investigations on Joe and Hunter Biden. Former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), who lost his district in 2018, is also involved with Parnas. Sessions received money from Parnas for his campaign and wrote Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to ask that Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch be recalled to Washington, DC because she wouldn’t pressure Ukrainians for the investigations. Parnas also donated to campaigns for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), and Florida GOP governor Ron Desantis. Sessions had been considering a run for a district 100 miles away from his old one.

Parnas’ company is called Fraud Guarantee.

Another Ukrainian player is Rick Perry, who urged Ukraine to fire the board of state-owned gas company Naftagaz and replace them with big U.S. donors to GOP campaigns. Parnas and Fruman, in partnership with oil magnate Harry Sargeant III, wanted to import natural gas to Ukraine. Sargeant told a senior executive at the gas company that he “regularly meets with Trump at Mar-a-Lago and that the gas-sales plan had the president’s full support.” The executive “perceived it to be a shakedown.” Parnas said that Yovanovitch would be removed, and Giuliani told reporters, “I did play a role in that.” Perry, who plans to resign soon, has been subpoenaed about his involvement in the Ukrainian scandal.

DDT said that if Zelensky wanted to meet with him, they should circumvent official diplomatic channels and go strictly through Giuliani, who created a more direct role than earlier known. Monday, Fiona Hill, DDT’s former Senior Director for European and Russian affairs, plans to testify that Giuliani and EU ambassador Gordon Sondland circumvented the NSC and normal White House process to run a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine. DDT had appointed Sonderland to perform ambassador responsibilities in Ukraine although the nation is not in the European Union and then blocked him from testifying before the House. He tried to do the same for Parnas and Fruman and lied about their working for the White House before he denied knowing them.

Other Corruption Tidbits:

DDT’s former national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said it was “absolutely not” appropriate for Mr. Trump to seek help from foreign powers for an election.

The eight-page letter written to House Democrats in an attempt to stop impeachment includes more quid pro quo in DDT’s “art of the deal.” Pat Cipollene wrote that if House Democrats “return to the regular order of oversight requests, we stand ready to engage in that process,” and ends by asking House Democrats to “abandon the current invalid efforts to pursue an impeachment inquiry and join the President in focusing on the many important goals that matter to the American people.” Earlier, DDT threatened Congress to shut down legislation, forgetting that if he refuses to either sign or veto a bill, it goes into law.

DDT is finally taking an interest in congressional affairs, calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) three times a day in an attempt to lock down GOP loyalty in case of impeachment.  

At least four national security officials raised concerns about DDT’s call with Zelensky that pressured Ukraine in exchange for DDT’s “favors.” Their worries began with Yovanovitch’s recall from Ukraine and continued with Giuliani’s promotion of Ukrainian conspiracies and DDT’s statements in White House meetings that he wanted damaging information on Biden. People who listened to the July 25 telephone call between DDT and Zelensky said that “alarm bells were kind of ringing.”

Former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), released from Fox network for his plans to join DDT’s legal impeachment team, won’t be part of the group until January—if ever. DDT said that lobby rules prevent Gowdy from joining until next year. NYT Maggie Haberman questions the reason. She tweeted:

 “Someone in West Wing badly wanted a win internally and put out Gowdy before it was a done deal. So it was quickly done yesterday and then had to be undone.”

DDT assigned his politically appointed official Michael Duffey the authority to withhold $391 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine because career staff questioned the legality of delaying funds.

In an interview with Bob Schieffer, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson talked about how DDT tried to break the law. In one of the times, DDT pushed Tillerson to persuade DOJ to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader, Giuliani’s client for money laundering. Tillerson refused to interfere in the ongoing investigation of Reza Zarrab and reported his objections to then-chief of Staff John Kelly. When asked if he talked to DDT about Zarrab, Giuliani said “So what [if I did].” Asked if he had talked to Tillerson, Giuliani said, “You have no right to know that.”

Zarrab was arrested in 2016 for evading U.S. sanctions against Iran. Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who DDT fired, wrote that Zarrab had “facilitated millions of dollars-worth of transactions on behalf of Iran . . . through a global network of companies located in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.” Bharara added that Zarrab was “engaged in a massive bribery scheme . . . paying cabinet-level [Turkish] governmental officials and high-level bank officers tens of millions of Euro and U.S. dollars” to facilitate his transactions. DDT’s interest in Zarrab ties into his facilitation of the Turkish invasion of the Kurds: the attempt at Zarrab’s release was another way that DDT could do a favor for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Republican lawmakers make themselves complicit by their silence, denial, of arguments that DDT’s behavior is wrong but not impeachable. The laws that DDT have broken could put anyone else in prison. For a start:

18 U.S. Code § 872, “Extortion by officers or employees of the United States”: “Whoever, being an officer, or employee of the United States or any department or agency thereof, or representing himself to be or assuming to act as such, under color or pretense of office or employment commits or attempts an act of extortion, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

2 U.S. Code § 192, “Refusal of witness to testify or produce papers”:  punishable by a year in prison.

In a bizarre twist to Turkey news, two Russian pranksters pretending to be Turkey’s minister of defense Hulusi Akar called Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Graham said that DDT would try to be helpful “within the limits of his power” to Erdogan on the case. Now criticizing DDT for abandoning “our Kurdish allies,” Graham also told the pranksters that Turkey’s “Kurdish problem is a big problem.” He continued by saying that Turkey needs to be “protected from this threat in Syria” and that both he and DDT are “sympathetic” to the problem. It is a big different from Graham’s criticism of DDT’s pulling the troops as “shortsighted and irresponsible.”

It’s a deep swamp, with many more stories to be uncovered. Republicans need to start their investigations at home.

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