Socialized Medicine For Me But Not For Thee

Ken AshfordHealth CareLeave a Comment

Rand Paul, one and a half years ago:

He adds:

We know the current system isn’t working for families or health-care providers, so perhaps it’s time to try something new. I say we try freedom. More freedom to choose and innovate, leading to more access and affordability, which will help ensure our health-care system remains the best in the world.

Best in the world, huh? Then why this?

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, one of the fiercest political critics of socialized medicine, will travel to Canada later this month to get hernia surgery. 

Paul, an ophthalmologist, said the operation is related to an injury in 2017 when his neighbor, Rene Boucher, attacked him while Paul was mowing his lawn. The incident left Kentucky’s junior senator with six broken ribs and a bruised lung. 

He is scheduled to have the outpatient operation at the privately adminstered Shouldice Hernia Hospital in Thornhill, Ontario during the week of Jan. 21, according to documents from Paul’s civil lawsuit against Boucher filed in Warren Circuit Court. 

The procedure is estimated to cost anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000, according to court documents. MDsave.com lists a hernia repair costing between $4,000 and $8,000.

Shouldice Hernia Hospital markets itself as “the global leader in non-mesh hernia repair,” according to the clinic’s website. The hospital’s website outlines payments it accepts, including cash, check or credit card for those patients, like Paul, who are not covered by Ontario’s insurance plan for its residents or a provincial health insurance plan.

Kelsey Cooper, a spokeswoman for Paul, said the hospital is privately owned and people come from around the globe for their services. 

To be fair, Shouldice IS a private hospital that got grandfathered into Canada’s socialized medicare system, but it doesn’t look good for the guy who wrote ” our health-care system remains the best in the world.”

Exhausting Futility Continues

Ken AshfordGubmint Shutdown, Immigration and Xenophobia, L'Affaire Russe, Polls, Russia, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Shutdown Day Number 23 and there is no sign of movement.

Trump apparently has little to do but tweet all day — childish attacks on Elizabeth Warren (racist attacks there) and on Jeff Bezo’s personal life. But that is kind of the point that Trump wants to make — he’s ready to work on a deal and Dems are off “vacationing”.

Here’s the Elizabeth Warren tweet (since deleted):

Anyway, Trump’s tactic of “I’m ready to fix this — where are the Dems?” is not working, as most everyone outside of Fox News world knows that Trump walked out of the last meeting he had with Democrats. Democrats are in not in any hurry to come back to the table. Polls show that Trump, not Democrats, are painted into a corner and looking bad, as TSA agents call in sick for work.

The public generally is more apt to blame the President, with 55% saying he is more responsible for the shutdown than are Democrats in Congress, while 32% say the blame rests mostly with the Democrats. Another 9% say both are responsible. Democrats are more unified in their blame for the President (89% blame Trump) than are the Republican rank-and-file in blaming the Democrats (65% of Republicans blame the Democrats in Congress, 23% blame Trump). Independents are more apt to blame Trump (48% to 34%), and are most likely to say both sides are responsible (14%).

Oh, and while all that is going on, we are talking—seriously, mind you—about whether the president of the United States is an asset of Russian intelligence.

In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.
The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.

The investigation the F.B.I. opened into Mr. Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has long been publicly known: whether his firing of Mr. Comey constituted obstruction of justice.

Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude. But the president’s activities before and after Mr. Comey’s firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which Mr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry, the people said.

Trump responded by Tweet of course:

Yeah, you need proof BEFORE you open an investigation. *sarcasm*

And so on. No denial though. And he didn’t deny it here either:

And that’s been the course of the political dialogue for a few days, with the additional note that, of the five times Trump met privately with Putin, there exists no record of what was said.

On Saturday, The Washington Post’s Greg Miller reported new details of the extreme things done by Trump to conceal his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin from even the senior-most members of Trump’s own administration. Trump even reportedly seized the interpreter’s notes after one of his meetings, the Trump-Putin sit-down at the Hamburg G20 meeting in July 2017. Even more disturbingly, Trump and Putin met privately a second time at Hamburg—with no American present. In an act of astonishing recklessness, Trump relied entirely on the Russian interpreter, preventing any U.S. record-keeping at all.

So you see, Trump’s own determination to defy normal presidential operating procedures to keep secret his private conversations with Putin only lends credibility to the worst suspicions: that he is an Russian asset and/or dupe.

At the VERY least, you could agree that Trump is hiding something. Maybe something to do with his financial entanglements with Russia.

So here we are:

I don’t live in Nihilist Nation, but right now… I’m fucking exhausted.

UPDATE: Well, this morning Trump did straight out say he wasn’t working for Russia, but then, when it comes to the wall/shutdown, he floats another obvious lie:

Must See TV — Max Boot gives 18 Reasons Why Trump May Be a Russian Asset

Weekly List 113

Ken AshfordWeekly ListLeave a Comment

This week Trump struggled to create stagecraft and find narratives to justify funding for his border wall, while keeping the government shuttered. Trump delivered a prime-time Oval Office address, visited the U.S.-Mexico border, and held an immigration round-table to make his case, while the reality of the shutdown hurt federal workers and contractors, and agencies started to cut back or cease operations and functions.

This was a week of bombshells on the Trump-Russia front, as an inadvertently unredacted filing by Paul Manafort’s attorneys revealed Manafort had delivered 2016 president campaign polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik, who the FBI believes has ties to Russian intelligence. Michael Cohen set a date to testify before the House, and Natalie Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin who attended the June 9 Trump Tower meeting was back in the news. Late Friday, a bombshell story by the Times revealed the FBI had opened an inquiry in May 2017 into whether Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.

As the week came to a close, the government shutdown reached Day 22, making it the longest shutdown in history, with no end in sight. Federal workers got their first $0 paycheck on Friday, week three of the shutdown.

  1. On Saturday, Pentagon chief of staff Kevin Sweeney resigned, after serving for two years. Sweeney is the second senior Pentagon official to depart in the wake of Jim Mattis’ resignation. Reportedly, he was forced out.
  2. NYT reported the idea of Trump’s border wall was hatched in 2014 as Trump explored a presidential run, as a memory trick for an undisciplined candidate to remember to talk about getting tough on immigration.
  3. The wall was a simple concept to feed to his base like ‘crooked Hillary’ and ‘lock her up.’ Now, Trump is obsessed by the idea of a wall because it was the most memorable and tangible promise he made during his campaign.
  4. Most Republicans privately agree with Democrats that the wall is only a minor piece of a broad set of actionsneeded to overhaul the immigration system. Democrats add the wall is immoral, expensive, and ineffective.
  5. On Saturday, the Trump regime sent a letter to congressional leaders demanding $5.7 billion for “a steel barrier,” as well as $800 million to address “urgent humanitarian needs” of unaccompanied migrant children.
  6. On Sunday, incoming House Intelligence chair Adam Schiff told “State of the Union” that “as one of our first acts,” he plans to make transcripts of witness interviews fully available to Mueller’s team.
  7. Rep. Schiff also said, “This is a real danger, a present danger for the United States, this rise of authoritarianism, and we need to better understand it, and we need to figure out a better strategy to counter it.”
  8. On Sunday, press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News host Chris Wallace, “nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally,” and our most vulnerable entry is at our southern border.
  9. Wallace responded, “The state department says there hasn’t been any terrorists found coming across the southern border.” Sanders tried to dance around the facts, saying terrorists are “coming a number of ways.”
  10. On Monday, NBC News reported according to May 2018 Customs and Border Protection data, just six immigrants who were in the terrorism database were stopped at the U.S.-Mexico border in the first half of 2018.
  11. The Terrorist Screening Database revealed 41 in the database from October 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, 35 of which were U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. At the northern border, 91 were stopped.
  12. On Sunday, during a trip to Israel, national security adviser, John Bolton laid out conditions for U.S. withdrawal from Syria, breaking from Trump’s previous statements of an immediate withdrawal.
  13. Bolton suggested a delay of months or years, until the Islamic State was completely defeated and Turkey provided guarantees that it would not strike Kurdish forces allied with the U.S.
  14. On Sunday, when asked by reporters about the change, Trump responded he had “never said we were doing it that quickly.” In the video of his announcement on December 9, Trump said troops are “coming back now.”
  15. On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan scolded Bolton and refused to meet with him, saying he had made a “very serious mistake” by demanding protection for U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria.
  16. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed to the Middle East to give a major speech about America’s role in the region and assure allies in the region given the unpredictable behavior and recent actions of Trump.
  17. Early drafts of the speech suggest that in a rebuke to Obama, Pompeo will say Iran is the real terrorist culprit, and suggest the country could learn from the Saudis about human rights and the rule of law. Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive countries.
  18. The drafts also applaud Saudi Arabia for purportedly bringing to killers of Jamal Khashoggi to justice — counter to the CIA and Congress findings which concluded Crown Prince MBS ordered the killing.
  19. On Thursday, Pompeo delivered a speech in Cairo, bolstering U.S. alliances with Arab autocrats, and excoriating Obama for “fundamental misunderstandings” of radical Islamism, adding, “the age of self-inflicted American shame is over.”
  20. On Sunday, Trump told reporters at the White House that he “can relate” to the furloughed federal workerswho are not getting paychecks, adding, “I’m sure the people that are on the receiving end will make adjustments.”
  21. Trump also claimed, despite ample evidence to the contrary, “Many of those people that won’t be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100 percent with what I’m doing.”
  22. The shutdown, in its third week, has affected a wide range of professions, including the Coast Guard and air traffic controllers. When asked if federal workers will get a check on Friday, Trump said “we’ll see what happens.”
  23. Trump also said he “informed my folks to say that we’ll build a steel barrier” at his weekend meeting at Camp David with senior officials, adding the Democrats “don’t like concrete, so we’ll give them steel.”
  24. On Monday, in a series of tweets, Trump attacked the media, saying “the Fake News & totally dishonest Media concerning me and my presidency has never been worse,” adding “Many have become crazed lunatics.”
  25. Trump accused the media of hiding his successes, tweeting “The Fake News will knowingly lie and demean” to make him look as bad as possible, and “use non-existent sources & write stories that are total fiction.”
  26. Trump also tweeted, “The Fake News Media in our Country is the real Opposition Party,” adding, “It is truly the Enemy of the People! We must bring honesty back to journalism and reporting!”
  27. Trump criticized coverage of his shift on troop withdrawal from Syria: “The Failing New York Times has knowingly written a very inaccurate story on my intentions on Syria. No different from my original statements.”
  28. Hours later, NYT reported Trump said he would deliver a prime-time address on Tuesday, and visit the southern border on Thursday to make a case for his wall and to cast immigration as a national security crisis.
  29. Trump’s address sparked debate inside and outside TV networks, noting Trump’s frequent lies, fear-mongering, and attacks on the press. That day, networks did decide to cover Trump’s address from the Oval Office.
  30. Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence on his behalf, threatened that Trump may consider using “emergency powers” to order that the wall be built, and Democrats continued to call out Trump’s falsehoods.
  31. On Monday, Day 17, the impacts of the shutdown spread including mortgage applications being delayed, public companies unable to get approval to raise capital, and Secret Service agents working without pay.
  32. Seeking to minimize public outrage, the Trump regime directed the Internal Revenue Service to issue tax refunds during the shutdown.The IRS workers called back from furlough to process checks were unpaid.
  33. On Monday, the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents 61,000 pilots, sent Trump a scathing letter urging him to immediately end the shutdown, saying it could adversely affect safety and security.
  34. On Tuesday, the Detroit Free Press reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the agency responsible for inspecting defects in cars, trucks, and SUVs, said it will not be doing so during the shutdown.
  35. On Tuesday, WAPO reported the shutdown is hindering some of the poorest college students from receiving federal student loans and grants, including Pell grants, student loans, and other forms of financial aid.
  36. On Tuesday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called on Congress to end the government shutdown, saying in a letter, “The shutdown is harming the American people, the business community, and the economy.”
  37. On Tuesday, a Reuters-Ipsos found a growing number of Americans blame Trump for the shutdown: 51% blame Trump, up 4 points from 2 weeks ago, while just 32% blame congressional Democrats.
  38. On Tuesday, ahead of his prime-time address, Trump invited representatives from cable and broadcast news channels to an off-the-record lunch, including Bill Shine, Kellyanne Conway, and Sarah Sanders.
  39. NYT reported that Trump dismissed his own new strategy of giving a speech and going to Texas as pointless, telling reporters “It’s not going to change a damn thing,” but that Shine, Conway, and Sanders think it’s worth it.
  40. Ahead of Trump’s address from the Oval Office, WAPO compiled a fact-checking cheat sheet of 20 false assertions related to immigration recently used repeatedly by Trump and the regime to make the case for his wall.
  41. WAPO dispelled the notion that the situation at the border is a national crisis , as  apprehensions have been declining since 2000. They also clarified that the wall is not being paid for by Mexico, the wall has not been built, and other repeated lies.
  42. Before his address, the Trump campaign emailed an urgent fundraising appeal to supporters in Trump’s name, saying “I want to do something so HUGE, even Democrats and the Fake News won’t be able to ignore.”
  43. In a 9-minute address, Trump painted a misleading and bleak picture of the situation at the southern border. He inflated numbers, exaggerated public safety risks, and repeated false claims about funding the wall.
  44. Although speeches from the Oval Office are typically used to unify the country, Trump used it to try to gain a political advantage. Trump did not declare a national emergency, despite threats during the day he might.
  45. Trump started the address with a lie that the U.S. has a “growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border,” and inflated or gave misleading numbers related to arrests, sex crimes, and violent killings.
  46. Trump falsely claimed the “border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs.” While 90% of illegal drugs come from Mexico, virtually all of it comes through legal points of entry, so the wall would not address this.
  47. Trump also again falsely claimed “The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.” Trump made this same promise more than 200 times during the presidential campaign.
  48. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered a joint response, saying Democrats want to reopen the government, immigrants are not a security threat, and that Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall but it has not.
  49. TV hosts said Trump’s speech offered little in the way of news, but rather featured points, including misinformation, that he has said repeatedly as part of his speeches and tweets. Critics said the networks got played.
  50. According to numbers from Nielsen, the Pelosi-Schumer response rated slightly higher than Trump’s address, as many organized on social media to boycott the address, saying the networks should not have covered it.
  51. Also during Trump’s address, over 100,000 viewers instead watched Stormy Daniels fold clothes on Instagram Live with the song Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” playing in the background.
  52. On Tuesday, Donald Jr. showed support for his father’s wall, with an Instagram post comparing the wall to a zoo fence, saying, “You know why you can enjoy a day at the zoo? Because walls work.”
  53. On Wednesday, rating agency Fitch said the U.S. is in danger of losing its triple-A sovereign credit rating, citing the ongoing government shutdown.
  54. On Wednesday, WAPO reported the Food and Drug Administration, whose inspectors oversee 80% of the country’s food supply, has suspended all routine inspections of domestic food-processing facilities.
  55. On Wednesday, a meeting between Trump and congressional leaders over the shutdown collapsed when Trump stormed out. The meeting started with Democratic leaders pleading with Trump to reopen the government.
  56. Democrats claimed Trump asked Speaker Pelosi “Will you agree to my wall?’”She said no, then he reportedly got up, slammed his hand on the table, and said “Then we have nothing to discuss,” then walked out.
  57. Shortly after, Trump tweeted “Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time,” saying he asked for Border Security including a wall, and when “Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!”
  58. On Wednesday, in a meeting with Senate Republicans, Trump threatened to circumvent Congress and declare a national emergency to get funds to build his wall, if he does not get what he wants from “Chuck and Nancy.”
  59. WAPO reported that Trump, who views himself as a “gut politician,” is finding his arsenal of bluster, falsehoods, threats, and theatrics has not worked as a negotiator, now that the Democrats control the House.
  60. Trump continues to believe that federal workers support him, telling reporters the workers “are on my side” and adding they would be paid and “be happy.” Trump also remarkably said, “This is not a fight I wanted.”
  61. On Wednesday, the National Treasury Employees Union became the second union to sue the Trump regime. The union workers, including Border Protection officers, are being forced to work without pay.
  62. On Wednesday, the House passed another bill that would end the shutdown, reopening several agencies, without money for Trump’s wall. Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the bill from coming to the Senate floor.
  63. On Wednesday, Trump ended his day by attacking the media, tweeting: “the Mainstream Media has NEVER been more dishonest than it is now,” adding, “They are truly the Opposition Party working with the Dems.”
  64. Trump complained that the media “quickly leaked the contents” of an “OFF THE RECORD luncheon,” adding, “Who would believe how bad it has gotten with the mainstream media, which has gone totally bonkers!”
  65. Trump then retweeted four flattering posts by Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, a pro-Trump organization, saying, “We support the shutdown for a wall!” and “Stand your ground.”
  66. On Thursday, in response to Schumer describing Trump’s behavior in the Wednesday meeting as a “temper tantrum,” Trump tweeted, “Cryin Chuck told his favorite lie when he used his standard sound bite.”
  67. Trump also denied allegations about his temperament by Democrats, tweeting “after Nancy said no to proper Border Security, I politely said bye-bye and left, no slamming!”
  68. On Thursday, Trump admitted Mexico would not pay directly for his wall, telling reporters outside the White House, “When I said Mexico would pay for the wall….obviously I never meant Mexico would write a check.”
  69. In fact, Trump did say numerous times on the campaign trail that Mexico would pay for the wall, and his campaign also outlined steps he would take to compel Mexico to directly pay $5 to 10 billion for his wall.
  70. On Thursday, in a conference call with reporters, the president of the FBI Agents Association said 5,000 special agents, intelligence analysts, attorneys, and professional staff are currently furloughed without pay.
  71. He warned of reduced staffing for “critical functions that support field operations,” adding, “We really feel that the financial insecurities we are facing right now equate to a national-security issue.”
  72. He also warned of a mounting backlog at Quantico labs, which provide forensic-analysis support services, and said funds supporting drug trafficking and undercover operations have been dangerously limited.
  73. With FBI morale already in steady decline with the barrage of attacks by Trump resulting in a loss of trust in the institution, the Atlantic reported there’s talk of staging a mass “sick-out” if funding is not restored.
  74. As Trump made his way to McAllen, Texas for his border visit, the historic Cine El Rey Theater posted on its sign: “Welcome to McAllen — The 7th Safest City in America.”
  75. Trump held a press conference in McAllen, surrounded by border agents, victims of crimes, a display of illegal drugs, an AK-47 and an AR-15 rifle, and a trash bag stuffed with cash confiscated by law enforcement officials.
  76. Trump called the situation a “crisis,” saying the only solution was his wall, although the props for the press conference were mostly from criminals at international bridges and conventional ports of entry.
  77. After, Trump traveled a few miles south of McAllen for an exclusive interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on a bluff overlooking Mexico, with border agents, military vehicles, and a helicopter flyover for effect.
  78. Trump told Hannity he may declare a national emergency, saying “If we don’t make a deal with Congress, most likely I will do that,” adding, “because I’m allowed to do it. The law is 100 percent on my side.”
  79. During his trip to McAllen, Trump canceled his Davos trip, citing “the Democrats intransigence on Border Security” and the “great importance of Safety for our Nation” in a tweet.
  80. Hours earlier Trump had said his trip to Davos was still on, telling reporters before he departed, “I have planned to go; it’s been very successful when I went. We have a great story to tell.”
  81. On Thursday, NBC News reported under a proposal, Trump could take billions set aside to fund civil works projects at disaster areas to pay for his wall by declaring a national emergency.
  82. The money is designated for projects all over the country, including $2.5 billion for reconstruction of Puerto Rico and $2.4 billion for projects in California, through fiscal year 2020.
  83. Senior Defense Department officials discussed the proposal with Trump on the flight to McAllen. The 315 mile barrier would be 30-feet high with a feature designed to prevent climbing, and would take 18 months to build.
  84. On Thursday evening, Trump tweeted, “Dear Diary…,” sharing a video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta in McAllen, saying of a steel fence, “Occasionally migrants come thru but residents say their community is quite safe.”
  85. Donald Jr. then joined in, and had back and forth jabs in tweets with Acosta. Donald Jr. then retweeting a doctored video depicting Acosta getting run over by a golf cart.
  86. Also late Thursday, Trump tweeted, “We lose 300 Americans a week, 90% of which comes through the Southern Border,” saying the number would drastically decrease with his wall. It was unclear what Trump meant.
  87. On Monday, Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell was fired after saying a racial slur -“Martin Luther coon King Jr. Park” — during a live weather broadcast from Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park in Rochester, New York.
  88. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam granted Cyntoia Brown clemency, following calls, petitions and messages from supporters. Brown, a Black woman, could have served 51 years in prison for self-defense at age 16.
  89. Police in Ventura, California are investigating a swastika painted outside Temple Beth Torah as a hate crime. There have been several reported cases of hate incidents in Ventura County in the past two years.
  90. A new study published in Educational Researcher found school bullying among seventh and eighth graders in areas that voted for Trump were 18% higher than students living in areas that went for Hillary Clinton.
  91. On Thursday, NYT published an interview of Rep. Steve King in which he asks, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”
  92. The Times reported Trump’s first hire for the 2016 presidential primary in Iowa, Chuck Laudner, was a former chief of staff to Rep. King, and that Rep. King has been has further emboldened with Trump in power.
  93. On Friday, the Trump regime removed all teenagers from a tent camp for unaccompanied migrants in Tornillo, Texas, after a federal watchdog warned about “serious safety and health” concerns at the facility.
  94. About 5,500 of the 6,200 teens who cycled through Tornillo since June have been released to a parent or guardian while they await the outcome of their immigration cases, and 700 were transferred to other facilities.
  95. The tent city, originally intended to house migrants for 30 days, but ultimately were used and expanded over seven months amidst criticism from lawmakers, will be dismantled.
  96. Germany news agency Deutsche Welle reported the Trump regime quietly downgraded the European Union mission to the U.S. from member state to international organization. EU officials were not notified of the change.
  97. The State Department did not respond to EU officials or press on the issue, citing limited operations due to the government shutdown. The downgrade reverses an Obama-era enhanced EU diplomatic role.
  98. On Tuesday, an unsealed indictment revealed Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Donald Jr. at Trump Tower, was charged with obstructing justice in a separate money-laundering investigation.
  99. The indictment cited Veselnitskaya made a “misleading declaration” to the court in 2015 while representing Prevezon Holdings, as part of a civil case arising from into suspected Russian money laundering and tax fraud.
  100. The Prevezon case, originally brought by Preet Bharara for $230 million before he was fired, wasmysteriously settled by then Attorney General Jeff Sessions two days before trial for $5.8 million in Week 37.
  101. The indictment argues Veselnitskaya has worked closely with senior Russian officials for years. She is also a central figure in Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  102. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to intercede in a mysterious fight over a sealed grand jury subpoenato a corporation owned by an unnamed foreign government by Mueller’s team.
  103. The court’s action means the corporation must provide information to Mueller’s team, or face financial penalties. The order also vacated chief justice John Roberts’ temporary stay.
  104. On Tuesday, a filing by Paul Manafort’s attorneys, which inadvertently included details not intended to be made public, revealed Manafort shared 2016 presidential campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik.
  105. Kilimnik, a business associate of Manafort, is believed by the FBI to have ties to Russian intelligence. In the filing, Manafort’s attorneys deny that he broke his plea deal by lying repeatedly to Mueller’s team.
  106. In the unredacted filing, Mueller’s team alleged that Manafort “lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik,” and lied about discussing a Ukrainian peace plan with Kilimnik during the 2016 campaign.
  107. Michael Cohen has said he was given a Russian-friendly peace plan for Ukraine by a Ukrainian lawmaker and Felix Sater in January 2017, which would have paved the way for the U.S. to lift sanctions on Russia.
  108. On Thursday, NYT reported attendance by at least a dozen Ukrainian political and business figures at Trump’s inauguration got Mueller’s attention, and spawned several related inquiries by federal prosecutors.
  109. Indications are that at least some of the Ukrainians, who paid at least $25,000 per ticket for inauguration events, were there promoting “peace” plans that aligned with Russia’s interests, including lifting U.S. sanctions.
  110. According to information disclosed in the Manafort filing, he told Kilimnik to pass polling data to two Ukrainian oligarchs who helped finance the Russia-aligned Ukrainian political parties for which Manafort had worked.
  111. One of the two oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin, attended the Liberty Ball. Within days of the inauguration,Trump’s White House made inquiries to the State Department and Congress about easing Russian sanctions.
  112. The abrupt shift set off alarms. Several officials said that the National Security Council under Mike Flynn inquired whether Ukraine was really part of Russia and whether Crimea wanted to be part of Russia.
  113. On Thursday, Michael Cohen announced that he will voluntarily testify before the House Oversight Committee on February 7, a month before he begins a three-year prison term in March.
  114. House Oversight Committee chair Elijah Cummings said the hearing will be public, and that Mueller cleared Cohen’s testimony before it was agreed to, meaning it can include Trump Tower Moscow and other Russian ties.
  115. On Wednesday, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Elections Ltd, was fined by the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office for failing to comply with the ICO notice to return information to Prof. David Carroll.
  116. Carroll, who is U.S. based, sued to get his personal data back in Week 47, saying he was one of millions who had his information harvested. The company refused to disclose how much data they held or how they used it.
  117. On Thursday, WSJ reported on a hack by Russia of America’s electric system. U.S. officials were so concerned by the hack, they took the unusual step in early 2018 of publicly blaming the Russian government.
  118. The Journal reconstructed the hack, revealing glaring vulnerabilities. Rather than strike the utilities, the Russian hackers went after the system’s unprotected underbelly — hundreds of contractors and subcontractors.
  119. Russian hackers planted malware on sites of online publications, sent out fake résumés with tainted attachments, and slipped through hidden portals to get into systems that monitor and control electricity flows.
  120. On Wednesday, WAPO reported that newly arrived White House Counsel Pat Cipollone has hired 17 lawyers in recent weeks to help in a new strategy to strongly assert Trump’s executive privilege.
  121. The strategy would prevent Trump’s confidential discussions with top advisers from being disclosed toHouse Democratic investigators, and revealed in Mueller’s report. Cipollone is coordinating with Emmet Flood.
  122. The White House Counsel’s Office was down to fewer than 20 lawyers late last year, compared with 40 to 50 in past administrations. Cipollone has plans to bolster the ranks to 40 in the coming weeks.
  123. On Wednesday, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the Mueller probe and was a frequent target of Trump, said he will resign as soon as Trump’s attorney general nominee is confirmed.
  124. NBC News reported Rosenstein intends to stay on until the Mueller probe is complete. A source said that would mean Rosenstein would remain until early March. Officials said Rosenstein was not being forced out by Trump.
  125. On Wednesday, as GOP senators promise Trump’s nominee for attorney general William Barr will not touch the Mueller probe, Barr has refused to meet with most Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  126. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the regime cited the “truncated schedule” as an excuse, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she was refused as the DOJ cited reduced staff and resources due to the partial government shutdown.
  127. On Friday, Rudy Giuliani told the Hill that Trump’s team should be allowed to “correct” Mueller’s final report before Congress or the American people get the chance to read it.
  128. On Friday, CNN reported the Trump Organization has hired Stefan Passantino, a lawyer who formerly worked in the White House Counsel’s Office, to oversee the response to investigations by House Democrats.
  129. On Wednesday, Trump threatened to cut off Federal Emergency Management Agency aid to California, tweeting: “Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money.”
  130. Trump also tweeted, “It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!” The FEMA response for clarification by WAPO read, “Due to the federal funding hiatus, we are not able to respond to general press queries.”
  131. On Wednesday, Speaker Pelosi, whose district is in California, tweeted that Trump’s threat “insults the memory of scores of Americans who perished in wildfires last year & thousands more who lost their homes.”
  132. On Tuesday, the chairs of seven House committees sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin demanding information on why sanctions against Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s businesses were lifted.
  133. On Thursday, Mnuchin delivered a classified briefing to U.S. House lawmakers. Mnuchin, who served as the Trump campaign’s national finance chairman in 2016, has up until now faced little scrutiny.
  134. Pelosi slammed Mnuchin for “wasting” lawmakers’ time during the classified briefing, saying his remarks give “stiff competition” for “one of the worst classified briefings we have received” from the Trump regime.
  135. On Wednesday, four Democratic senators requested information from the EPA about a financial filing which revealed a $50,000 donation to Scott Pruitt’s legal defense fund from a Republican donor and businesswoman.
  136. Forbes reported Trump sold $35 million of real estate in 2018. Although Eric and Don Jr. are running day-to-day operations, Trump kept ownership of the business, which has continued to liquidate properties.
  137. On Monday, Jim Yong Kim, the president of the 189-nation World Bank, said he would resign, three years before his term expires. As the U.S. is the largest shareholder in the bank, Trump will appoint his successor.
  138. On Friday, Financial Times reported Ivanka Trump is being considered to replace Kim, whose sudden departure leaves the bank’s future uncertain. The Trump regime has been negatively inclined towards the bank.
  139. On Friday, Trump suggested a path to citizenship for specialized visa holders, tweeting: “H1-B [sic] holders in the United States can rest assured” changes are coming soon. The H1-B program is for highly skilled workers.
  140. Trump also tweeted, “We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people.” It was unclear what Trump meant. The regime has tightened regulations that govern the program.
  141. On Friday, as many as 800,000 federal workers missed their paycheck, the first in the three weeks of the shutdown. Missing paychecks are likely to trigger at least some unemployment claims and resignations.
  142. WAPO reported furloughed workers are selling household and personal items on websites like Craigslist and Facebook to try to make ends meet. Many Americans continue to live from paycheck to paycheck.
  143. Tampa International Airport, working with United Way, started a food bank for the airport’s 700 Transportation Security Administration, CBP, and Federal Aviation Administration employees, which will open Monday.
  144. On Friday, pictures shared by the National Park Service and National Parks Traveler showed vandals in the currently unstaffed Joshua Tree National Park cut down Joshua trees to make new roads into out-of-bounds areas.
  145. On Friday, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, whose 16,000 controllers are working without pay, became the third union to sue the government over the shutdown.
  146. On Friday, unions with a combined 244,000 members of federal and government employees, weather service, and machinists, and aerospace workers also filed suit demanding full compensation plus overtime.
  147. On Friday, Foreign Policy reported that U.S. diplomats are filing for unemployment benefits and seeking school lunches for their children, while Pompeo is making unpaid workers organize an upcoming conference.
  148. A group of current and former employees pooled money to buy groceries for their colleagues who are running out of money, while others fundraise for janitors and other low-level contractors, who will not get back pay.
  149. On Friday,Trump ally Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Mark Meadows said in a tweet that Trump should “use asset forfeiture money” to pay for the wall, and if not, “he should declare a national emergency.”
  150. On Friday, Senate Leader McConnell adjourned the Senate before 2 p.m. for the weekend, ensuring the government shutdown, then tied for the longest at 21 days, will be the longest in U.S. history.
  151. On Friday, Trump during an immigration roundtable at the White House, Trump told reporters he could call a national emergency but would “rather not,” calling it an “easy way out,” and saying instead Congress should act.
  152. Later Friday, Speaker Pelosi told reporters on the protracted shutdown: “It’s a temper tantrum by the president. I’m the mother of five, grandmother of nine. I know a temper tantrum when I see one.”
  153. A new NPR/Ipsos poll found, as the shutdown matched the longest in history on Friday, three-quarters of Americans say the shutdown is “embarrassing for the country,” including 58% of Republicans.
  154. The polls also found that 71% of Americans believe the shutdown will hurt our country, and 72% think Congress should pass a bill to reopen the government now while budget talks continue.
  155. On Thursday, Politico reported Trump’s White House reached out to allies and conservative activist groups to prepare for an ailing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s possible death or departure from the Supreme Court.
  156. On Friday, the Supreme Court issued a statement saying Justice Ginsburg shows “no evidence of remaining disease,” and her recovery is “on track.” This week, for the first time, Ginsburg missed oral arguments.
  157. On Friday, a NYT bombshell reported the F.B.I. opened investigations into Trump almost immediately after he fired James Comey, including whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.
  158. The investigation included a counterintelligence component into whether Trump’s actions constituted a threat to national security, and whether he was knowingly working for Russia or had fallen under their influence.
  159. The investigation had a criminal component, considering whether the Comey firing was obstruction of justice. F.B.I. agents grew suspicious of Trump during the campaign given his statements and the change in RNC platform.
  160. The criminal and counterintelligence elements were coupled together into one investigation, because if Trump fired Comey to impede or end the Russia investigation, that would be a crime and national security concern.
  161. In the months before the election, the F.B.I. was already investigating four Trump associates for ties to Russia. Agents were also concerned about claims in the Steele dossier that Russians could blackmail or bribe Trump.
  162. Investigators were also troubled by Trump’s NBC News interview after firing Comey, as well as his Oval Office meeting with Russian officials where he said, “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
  163. Given the historic nature of investigating a sitting president, agents were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry. But Trump twice publicly tying the Comey firing to the Russia investigation prompted them to take action.
  164. Mueller’s team took over the inquiry into Trump when he was appointed, just days after it had been opened. Agents were concerned Trump would appoint a new F.B.I. head who would impede the investigations.
  165. Giuliani told NYT, “I think it’s of no concern at all. It goes back a year and a half ago. If they found something that imperiled national security, they would have had to report it,” adding it shows “how out of control they are.”
  166. On Friday, press secretary Sanders denounced the Times reporting, saying “This is absurd. James Comey was fired because he’s a disgraced partisan hack,” adding, unlike Obama, “Trump has actually been tough on Russia.”
  167. Reuters reported Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at the Russia Calling annual forum, said Russia would supply soy beans and poultry meat to China given that the U.S. had effectively given up on that market.
  168. On Wednesday, Russian news agency TASS reported the head of Russia’s Roscosmos State Space Corporation had his visit to the U.S. at NASA’s invitation canceled because the “second American civil war” is underway.
  169. As midnight passed on Saturday, the government shutdown became the longest in U.S. history, breaking the previous record of 21 days in 1995–1996 under former President Bill Clinton.
  170. On Friday, NYT reported Republican lawmakers and aides are privately concerned with Trump’s handling of the shutdown, and admit even members of his own party do not know what to expect from him.
  171. Trump has undercut Vice President Mike Pence, his delegate meant to negotiate an end to the stalemate, on several occasions. Kushner has also been brought on, but given his inexperience has not been productive.
  172. White House officials acknowledge Trump dove into the fight with no clear end game. Trump and Republicans also wrongly assumed that when federal workers missed their first paycheck Friday, Democrats would cave.
  173. On Saturday, Trump sent a Twitter storm of 12 tweets before noon on topics related to the Times, the FBI, former FBI Director James Comey, Hillary Clinton, Robert Mueller, and the government shutdown.
  174. Trump tweeted, “Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI” opened an investigation for no reason and with no proof “after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!”
  175. Trump raged, tweeting on Comey: “Everybody wanted him fired, Republican and Democrat alike…after the rigged & botched Crooked Hillary investigation, where she said she didn’t know anything (a lie).”
  176. Trump also tweeted: “the FBI was in complete turmoil (see N.Y. Post) because of Comey’s poor leadership,” adding “My firing of James Comey was a great day for America. He was a Crooked Cop.”
  177. Trump also tweeted that Comey was being “protected by his best friend, Bob Mueller, & the 13 Angry Democrats,” who have “NO interest in going after the Real Collusion (and much more) by Crooked Hillary Clinton.”
  178. Trump also tweeted, “I have been FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton,” adding, “as I have often said, getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing.”
  179. Trump also tweeted, “Lyin’ James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter S and his lover, agent Lisa Page” are all “part of the Witch Hunt. Remember the “insurance policy?” This is it!”
  180. Trump then shifted to the government shutdown, tweeting: “Democrats should come back to Washington and work to end the Shutdown,” adding, “I am in the White House waiting for you!”
  181. Trump then quoted some misleading statistics, and tweeted: “Democrats come back!” adding, “Democrats could solve the Shutdown in 15 minutes! Call your Dem Senator or Congresswoman..Humanitarian Crisis.”
  182. Trump also tweeted, “I just watched a Fake reporter from the Amazon Washington Post say the White House is ‘chaotic,’” and “the Fakes always like talking Chaos,” but “there’s almost nobody in the W.H. but me.”
  183. Trump also tweeted: “We have a massive Humanitarian Crisis at our Southern Border,” adding, “We will be out for a long time unless the Democrats come back from their “vacations” and get back to work.”

The Buck Stops With Everybody

Ken AshfordGubmint Shutdown, Immigration and Xenophobia, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Impasse.

Government is shut down. Nobody is budging. At a meeting yesterday with Pelosi and Schumer, Trump asked if they would fund his wall. He specifically said “wall” and NOT “border security” (he lied in a later tweet about this). Pelosi said no, and Trump said (verbatim) “Bye bye” and left.

At present, he seems to have rallied the Republicans behind him. They seem to feel that to go against Trump will mean the end of the Republican party (Senator Graham said that specifically). I predict history will show that sticking with Trump will foretell the end of the Republican Party.

So here we are. Trump flew down today to the US-Mexico border.

Here’s something that is pretty awkward. According to NBC News, Department of Homeland Security tests of all eight prototype border walls currently constructed at the “Pogo Row” site in Otay Mesa, CA, revealed that all of them were vulnerable to breaching — but that in particular, the “steel bollard” design Trump is now touting as his choice can be sliced through with a saw:

Also, as Trump goes on and on about the necessity for a wall, here are some facts that he doesn’t want you to know:

The design of Trump’s border wall could still change — and already has fluctuated with the political winds. During the 2016 campaign, Trump talked of a solid concrete border wall. Then it was steel slats. Sometimes he called it a wall, other times it is a fence. He has described it stretching for 2,000 miles and 1,000 miles and even just 700 miles…

If Trump’s border wall gets funding, construction would not begin for at least six months — and likely longer, Zarenski said.

Land along the border still needs to be acquired.

Soil and environmental studies need to be done…

Even if these huge crews broke ground today, they would finish just 86 miles of border wall by year’s end. By Election Day 2020, 161 miles of border wall would be done. It would take 11 years to reach 1,000 miles. And that is assuming 10,000 workers going all at once, five days a week.

Given the fact that people who currently own the land that will need to be acquired are gearing up for a protracted legal battle, we could add years to that estimate. For some of us “oldies,” that means that a 1,000 mile wall might not be completed in our lifetime because it could be 2030 before it’s finished. Meanwhile, the so-called “crisis” Trump is trying to sell will continue.

Lies:

More lies:

There is an interesting media phenonmenon going on. I see this Atlantic article that, like most articles, seems to suggest that Republicans are squirming:

As President Donald Trump descends on the border Thursday to further make his case for a wall, back home in Washington congressional Republicans—the ones whose resolve he needs if he’s going to continue his shutdown campaign—are growing more anxious. While the images Trump broadcasts to the nation may bolster his case to his base, these Republicans are left to talk and share doubts among themselves.

A handful of Republican senators have so far signaled their willingness to reopen parts of the government without funding for a border wall now that the partial government shutdown is tied for the second longest in the country’s history, with no end in sight. Those Republicans include Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who told reporters on Tuesday that Congress “can focus on [Trump’s] very legitimate concerns about border security … through the Homeland Security appropriations bill” and “in the meantime, let’s allow for these other departments to do the work.”

The GOP response to all of this is crucial to ending the impasse. With enough members, Senate Republicans could potentially persuade Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—and indirectly, the president—to take up legislation reopening parts of the government without the inclusion of border-wall funding. Perhaps more likely, worried Republicans could try to pressure Trump to find another way out of the mess—maybe by declaring a state of emergency in order to unlock funding for the border wall, a move that would almost certainly be met with legal challenges from Democrats. Republicans shifting on the issue may also reflect what they’re hearing from their constituents, indicating to Trump that there’s a potential voter rebellion on its way.

But then there is this outlier article from yesterday:

Freshman House Democrats are ready to shut down the shutdown.
The new class of 60-plus members has been in Congress for less than week only to see the partial government shutdown consume the Capitol and grind nearly everything to a halt — including action on their campaign promises to overhaul Washington and deliver for voters back home.

Now, as the shutdown drags into Day 19, the frustration is starting to reach a tipping point for some who fear the prolonged stalemate could do real political damage in vulnerable Democratic districts.

***

Democrats remain united behind their leadership’s shutdown strategy of refusing to negotiate with Trump on his border wall demand and pressuring Senate Republicans to take up House-passed bills to open up the government. But the first fissures are starting to show.

The freshmen arranged an impromptu 90-minute meeting over the weekend at a retreat in Virginia because several new members were “freaking out” about the ongoing shutdown and the party’s strategy, according to a Democratic source who requested anonymity to speak candidly.

I suspect the pressure is more on Republicans at this point.

Breaking: Mystery Foreign Company Gets No Help From SCOTUS

Ken AshfordBreaking News, L'Affaire Russe, Supreme Court, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

A few weeks ago, there was a super-secret hearing in DC Court regarding a subpeona issued to an unknown foreign company from the Mueller investigation. The company was fighting the subpoena.

This just happened:

Basically, the Supreme Court denied the foreign country-owned company’s request to stay a contempt order. The contempt order resulted from its refusal to comply with a grand jury’s subpoena. Chief Justice Roberts’ “administrative stay” is vacated, so the result is the contempt order is back in effect.

What does that mean? Well, without knowing the company, the contents of the subpoena, or how (if) it relates to Trump, it is hard to say. But bookmark this.

This Sounds Like Collusion

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Ooops!

Due to a redaction error by Manafort’s attorneys, we just learned that:

1) Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, who has been tied to Russian intelligence, met in Madrid during the campaign;

2) Manafort shared 2016 polling data with Kilimnik; and

3) They discussed a “Ukrainian peace plan.”

Here is the filing in question. You can copy (Ctrl-C) the redacted parts and paste them into any text editor.

The Non-Crisis Ploy

Ken AshfordGubmint Shutdown, Immigration and Xenophobia, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Flop sweat for Donald Trump.

As the government shutdown enters its third week, and there is no movement on funding Trump’s wall, Trump is looking and acting desperate. Tonight, he will go on primetime television and, everyone expects, he will declare some sort of emergency and then try to get his wall funded by the military.

Basically, the administration is trying to move the narrative away from politics and to national security, even though this issue has been — and continues to be — part and parcel to Trump’s political rallying cry. Pence said it plainly: “Our position is very simply this: There is a humanitarian and national security crisis at the southern border.” The Veep has been going on the morning shows with network White House correspondents.

At the crux of the controversy is this: Even if everyone accepts the base case that this is a humanitarian crisis, Republicans say there is no answer that does not include a wall, and Democrats — generally speaking, at the moment — say there is no answer that does include a wall.

White House aide Stephen Miller reportedly has a hand in writing the primetime address advocating for a wall on the Mexico border.

Many are doubtful that Trump’s address will be accurate when it comes to the number of crossings and threats (Washington Post provides great numbers here). Recently, the president claimed his predecessors encouraged him on the border wall. But they all came out with statements saying they never did this.

At this point, anything officially released by the White House should simply be considered a lie unless it’s confirmed with someone reliable, especially when it comes to the border. (Some are now saying that, given the parade of lies from the Administration these past few days, Trump will probably avoid stating any facts at all, and make emotional arguments about gangs, MS-13, drug trafficking, etc)

And that raises questions of legality. Can a President just declare anything an emergency? Even if it is based on made-up “facts”?

In 1976, Congress passed the National Emergencies Act, which permits the president to pronounce a national emergency on a whim, at his discretion. The act offers no definition of “emergency.” It lays out no required criteria; it demands no showing by the president.

Declaring a national emergency also gives the president access to dozens of laws with specialized funds he otherwise would not have.

There are several significant caveats and, while it may be easy to declare a national emergency, Trump cannot just do whatever he wants.

One statute provides for “unobligated funds originally set aside for military construction projects” if the national emergency involves the military, and another “permits a president to divert funds from Army civil works projects and reprogram them” but still may require further authorization. Then there is the issue of seizing land through eminent domain through a claim of military necessity.

But this might be Trump’s out. Knowing the emergency powers will be challenged in court, Trump could seek to use available funds and begin building the wall. A court would quickly decide whether to temporarily enjoin his efforts. The larger case, however, would remain in the system for years, gifting him an excuse to end the congressional impasse.

So the theatre starts tonight at 9 pm, with Democrats being granted (by the networks) equal time for a response.

RELATED:

UPDATE — Looks like cold feet….

And here’s some tips from a guy who knows a little about Soviet-style manipulation:

And this just happened:

Kellyanne might not like the question, but it is a legitimate one. This president lies pathologically and she knows it.

LATE NIGHT UPDATE: Trump spoke. Not for long. No declaration of a “national emergency”. He didn’t even MENTION the wall until half way through.

Over the course of the overtly political nine-minute speech on Tuesday night, Trump sought to convince the public of a nonexistent emergency to justify the partial government shutdown he started to create leverage to build his long-sought border wall. In a humiliating turn for the networks, the president broke no news, instead using the opportunity to reiterate the same immigration talking points he’s been pushing for years. And by breaking into regular programming to air what was effectively his regular stump speech, they all implicitly validated his claim of a crisis.

Here are some of the untruths and distortions in Trump’s speech, most of which he’s uttered before.

“I am speaking to you because there is a growing and humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border. Every day Customs and Border Patrol agents encounter thousand of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country. We are out of space to hold them and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country.”

The notion that the number of border crossings represent a “crisis” is not true. The number of people caught crossing at the border (the standard metric for determining the volume of illegal crossings generally) remains below annual levels under President Barack Obama and far below the high levels of the 1990s and early 2000s. Border Patrol arrested 396,579 people at the U.S. Mexico border in fiscal year 2018. The agency arrested an average of 400,751 people per year over the previous decade.

“Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country.”

That distorts the truth. Several studies show that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. A June 2018 report by the libertarian Cato Institute found that legal immigrants were roughly one-fifth as likely to be incarcerated as native-born Americans. Undocumented immigrants were half as likely to be incarcerated, according to the report, which drew on 2016 data from the American Community Survey. Do undocumented immigrants commit crimes? Of course — but at lower rates than their native-born counterparts.

“As part of an overall approach to border security, law enforcement professionals have requested $5.7 billion for a physical barrier. At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall.”

Congressional Democrats never asked that the wall be made of steel rather than concrete. When Trump first said he was making that concession, Democratic party leaders said they didn’t care. “There’s no requirement that this government be shut down while we deliberate the future of any barrier, whether it’s a fence or a wall,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“The wall would also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we made with Mexico.”

That’s not true. Trump vowed during his presidential campaign that Mexico would pay for the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, but Mexico has refused to pay. The president now insists that Mexico will pay for the project through a renegotiated NAFTA agreement known as the USMCA. The deal still needs congressional approval and isn’t yet in effect, but even if it were in effect, any economic gains from the deal would go to private individuals and companies, not the U.S. Treasury.

And of course, Trump painted immigrants as criminals, etc. all without data or support. Nor did he presented detailed data about how many children are being fraudulently used for border-crossing purposes, merely implying it’s common. The evidence suggests it’s a small minority of the families who cross.

Essentially, it was a stump speech.

And here’s something interesting….

Weekly List 112

Ken AshfordWeekly ListLeave a Comment

This week, for the first time since he took office, Trump faced a check on his power as the 116th Congress was sworn in. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took back the gavel, she made clear she will take Trump on, telling the Times she considers herself Trump’s equal, and the “TODAY” show that Trump can be indicted while in office. The 116th Congress, the most diverse by race, religion, and gender — on the Democratic side — stood in sharp contrast to Trump, who increasingly surrounds himself with rooms full of white men.

The government shutdown passed three weeks, with no end in sight, as Trump dug in his heels and Pelosi’s House voted to reopen the government without any funding for his wall. As the shutdown’s impact was increasingly felt across the country, including unpaid essential TSA workers calling in sick at four major airports, reporting indicated the Trump regime had not planned for or anticipated a long-term shutdown, and is caught flat-footed. Trump’s lack of empathy for those impacted by the shutdown, and threat to call a national emergency, further belied his autocratic tendencies.

Trump held a bizarre cabinet meeting in which he rambled on for 95 minutes, full of lies, revisionist history and self-aggrandizement — as his cabinet members took turns praising him. Although displays like this in his first year would be the topic of discussion for days, there was a notably shorter focus and reaction to the spectacle, as if truly we are the frogs in water close to boil. The federal grand jury seated in Washington D.C. for the Mueller probe was extended for an additional six months, as the 18 month mark passed.

  1. The International Federation of Journalists, an international trade association, said in its annual report 94 journalists and media workers died in 2018, 12 more than 2017, after declining for the last six years.
  2. Reporters Without Borders also found journalists faced an “unprecedented level of hostility” in 2018. The group blamed politicians and public figures for encouraging disdain for the news media.
  3. In 2018, 348 reporters were detained, 60 held hostage, 3 missing, and 80 were killed. Of those killed, 61% were murdered or deliberately targeted for their reporting, while 39% were killed while reporting.
  4. Also in 2018, for the first time the U.S. joined the list of the deadliest countries for journalists, with six killed, including the four murdered at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland in Week 85.
  5. On Saturday, a server outage caused by a malware attack which originated from outside the U.S. disrupted deliveries of the LA Times and other newspapers across the country.
  6. On Saturday, CNET reported CenturyLink customers, including those trying to reach 911 emergency service, experienced outages which dragged on for two days. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called for an investigation.
  7. On Saturday, at 10:01 p.m., Trump tweeted “Absolutely nothing” (on Russian Collusion). Kimberley Strassel, The Wall Street Journal,” adding, “The only Russian Collusion was with Hillary and the Democrats!”
  8. Trump also quoted Fox News co-host Jesse Watters, tweeting, “the FBI, under President Obama, rigged the investigation for Hillary and really turned the screws on Trump,” adding, “Whole Hoax exposed.”
  9. On Sunday, in an interview with the LA Times, departing chief of staff John Kelly painted a dim portrait of Trump, saying his tenure would be best measured by what he stopped Trump from doing.
  10. Kelly also said Trump never told him to do anything illegal, and that Trump “was fully informed on the impact” of every decision he made. Kelly has opposed withdrawing from Syria and Afghanistan.
  11. Kelly admitted that he was not consulted when he served as secretary of homeland security about Trump’s Muslim Ban, saying “I had very little opportunity to look at them” before the orders were issued.
  12. Kelly also tried to distance himself from Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, saying “What happened was Jeff Sessions — he was the one that instituted the zero-tolerance process on the border,” adding, “He surprised us.”
  13. Kelly also said Trump has backed away from the idea of a solid concrete wall long ago, saying Trump “still says ‘wall’ — oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward steel slats.”
  14. Yahoo News reported that with continued White House resignations, Trump has increasingly turned to Stephen Miller to be the public face with the media. Several called Miller’s reemergence a “public relations catastrophe.”
  15. Miller’s reemergence also comes as the White House press operation retreats. Since December 19, the communications team has ceased basic tasks like daily press briefings and distributing Trump’s public schedule.
  16. According to data compiled by The American Presidency Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara, press secretary Sarah Sanders has slowed daily press briefings down to just one per month recently.
  17. WAPO reported that increasingly Trump’s White House has no response to inquiries. Instead of the typical “no comment” response from prior administrations, the Trump regime simply does not answer inquiries at all.
  18. The White House has also stopped explaining or seeking to clarify Trump’s tweets, like the one on Christmas Eve day that he “just gave out a 115 mile long contract.” No response was given inquiries on multiple tweets.
  19. On Sunday, arguing for his wall, Trump tweeted, “President and Mrs. Obama built/has a ten foot Wallaround their D.C. mansion/compound…the U.S. needs the same thing.” The Obamas do not have a ten foot wall.
  20. On Monday, New Year’s Eve, Trump sent a total of 13 tweets. Trump attacked critics of his decision towithdraw from Syria as “failed generals” and complained about coverage by the “Fake News Media.”
  21. Trump also tweeted, “I’m in the Oval Office. Democrats, come back from vacation now” to discuss his border wall. Politico reported there was no Marine posted outside the West Wing, meaning Trump was not in the Oval Office.
  22. Trump also tweeted, “It’s incredible how Democrats can all use their ridiculous sound bite and say that a Wall doesn’t work,” adding “They now say it is immoral- but it is far more immoral for people to be dying!”
  23. Trump also falsely claimed in a tweet, “MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL through the many billions of dollars a year that the U.S.A. is saving through the new Trade Deal.”
  24. Trump also tweeted “without the Wall there can be no Border Security.” He added, “Throughout the ages some things NEVER get better and NEVER change. You have Walls and you have Wheels.”
  25. On Monday, the U.S. stock markets closed out 2018, posting its worst performance in a decade, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor’s 500 were down 6.2%.
  26. On Monday, the U.S. Strategic Command deleted a tweet which noted the “big” Times Square ball drop celebration at midnight, and joked “if ever needed, we are #ready to drop something much, much bigger.”
  27. In a follow-up tweet, U.S. Strategic Command, a government account, apologized: “Our previous NYE tweet was in poor taste & does not reflect our values…We are dedicated to the security of America & allies.”
  28. On Monday, Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White resigned, tweeting it has been her honor and privilege to serve alongside “Secretary Mattis, our Service members and the civilians who support them.”
  29. Trump closed out 2018 with an interview on Fox News, marking his 41st since his inauguration. The phone interview with Pete Hegseth aired on the cable network’s New Year’s Eve countdown show.
  30. During his time in office, Trump has formed symbiotic relationships with several Fox News and Fox Business hosts and contributors, drawing criticism and comparisons to state-run TV.
  31. On Tuesday, the first day of the new year, Trump’s first tweet was to promote a pro-Trump book by former White House aide Sebastian Gorka, “a very good and talented guy,” adding, “Lots of insight — Enjoy!”
  32. Trump then tweeted, “HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE, INCLUDING THE HATERS AND THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA! 2019 WILL BE A FANTASTIC YEAR FOR THOSE NOT SUFFERING FROM TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. JUST CALM DOWN AND ENJOY THE RIDE, GREAT THINGS ARE HAPPENING FOR OUR COUNTRY!”
  33. Trump spent New Year’s Eve holed up in the White House also continued his attacks on Democrats, tweeting, “The Democrats do not care about Open Borders and all of the crime and drugs that Open Borders bring!”
  34. Trump also attacked retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, tweeting, “‘General’ McChrystal” got fired like a dog by Obama,” adding, “Known for big, dumb mouth. Hillary lover!” Notably, Trump put the word General in quotes.
  35. The tweet was in response to McChrystal telling “This Week” on Sunday he would not work for Trump, saying, “It’s important for me to work for people who I think are basically honest,” adding, “I don’t think he tells the truth.”
  36. On Saturday, CNN reported Trump quietly issued an executive order Friday freezing federal workers’ pay for 2019, canceling a 2.1% across-the-board pay raise that was set to take effect in January.
  37. Trump had initially told lawmakers of his plan in August, saying the federal budget could not support the raise, and describing a pay raise as “inappropriate.” The 2.6% raise for U.S. troops in 2019 was not effected.
  38. WAPO reported the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is facing scrutiny after tweeting a sample letter for furloughed federal workers suggesting they bargain with landlords and offer to do chores to cover their rent.
  39. On Tuesday, WSJ reported as the government shutdown continues, federal workers are worried about paying their bills. Some are filing unemployment claims or telling landlords they cannot pay their rent on time.
  40. Of the 800,000 employees impacted, 420,000 have been deemed essential and are working without pay. The American Federation of Government Employees sued Monday, saying requiring employees to work without pay is illegal.
  41. PBS “Newshour” reported national parks, left open to visitors but with little staff on duty, were impacted byvandalism, overflowing garbage and toilets, illegal off-roading, and other damaging behavior in fragile areas.
  42. However, E&E News reported the Old Post Office tower which shares facilities with the Trump Hotel DC, will remain open during the shutdown, with funds provided by the General Services Administration.
  43. On Sunday, Jazmine Barnes, a 7-year-old Black girl, was shot and killed while riding in a car leaving a Walmart in Texas with her mom and three sisters by an unidentified white man in his 40s, driving a red truck.
  44. In Florida, Daniel Taylor, a white man who grabbed a Black female employee and later kicked another at a McDonald’s during an argument over straws, was arrested after a video of the incident went viral.
  45. The Arizona Republic reported on videos obtained from the Arizona Department of Health Services which show migrant children being dragged and shoved at an Arizona shelter operated by Southwest Key.
  46. The incidents involving three children were reported in mid September, and the shelter closed in late October. State regulators said the company failed to perform background checks on all its employees.
  47. On Tuesday, AP reported U.S. authorities fired tear gas into Mexico to stop migrants from crossing the border. Customs and Border Protection claimed in a statement that tear gas was used to target rock throwers.
  48. An AP photographer contradicted CBP, saying at least three volleys of gas were launched at migrants, including women and children, before rocks were thrown. An AP journalist also saw plastic pellets fired by U.S. agents.
  49. On Thursday, in a statement, Mexico’s foreign affairs ministry formally asked the U.S. government to conduct a thorough investigation of the tear-gassing, reiterating its commitment to the safety of migrants.
  50. WAPO reported Emma Torres, a former kitchen employee at Trump’s Bedminster golf club, said she informed a human resources officer at the club that she did not have papers to live in the U.S. legally.
  51. Torres said superiors kept her name, and those of other undocumented workers, off a list of people to be vetted by the Secret Service before Trump visited the club, because of their status and because they did not have papers.
  52. Victorina Morales, mentioned in the NYT story, said Secret Service agents gave her a pin to wear every time Trump visited. It is unclear if Morales received a screening from Secret Service, or the purpose of the pin.
  53. On Wednesday, in a segment titled “Men in Decline,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed there is “more drug and alcohol abuse” and “higher incarceration rates” in areas where women earn more than men.
  54. Carlson added “before you applaud that as a victory for feminism, consider some of the effects. Study after study has shown that when men make less than women, women generally don’t want to marry them.”
  55. On Thursday, Carlson compared the barrage of criticism he received to “how we wound up in the dark ages,” saying, “This is why important science is no longer being conducted. This is why art isn’t being made.”
  56. On Friday, a D.C. court sided with the Trump regime, saying restrictions on transgender people serving in the military can stand. The decision lifted an injunction barring the regime from limiting their service.
  57. The order does not change the status quo since three other cases have temporarily prevented the regime from implementing its policy, but the ruling was seen as a blow to civil rights and gay rights organizations.
  58. On Friday, the Guardian reported the Trump regime has stopped cooperating with UN investigators on investigations of potential human rights violations occurring inside America.
  59. The State Department stopped responded to queries on May 7, 2018, leaving at least 13 requests unanswered, and sending a dangerous signal to authoritarian regimes around the world.
  60. In his televised New Year’s Eve message, Kim Jong-un said international sanctions must be lifted before North Korea will give up weapons or stop producing nuclear material — the position prior to the Singapore Summit.
  61. Responding in a tweet, Trump mischaracterized the statement saying “North Korea will not make or test nuclear weapons, or give them to others,” adding, “I also look forward to meeting with Chairman Kim.”
  62. On Monday, federal prosecutors filed a status report under seal in the case of Sam Patten, a Republican consultant who pleaded guilty to failing to register as a lobbyist for a political party in Ukraine in August.
  63. Patten, a business associate of Paul Manafort, ran a company with a Russian national identified only as “Person A,” thought to be Konstantin Kilimnik. Patten has been cooperating in the Mueller probe.
  64. On Monday, Russia’s state security service, the FSB, said it had arrested Paul Whelan, an American citizen, on suspicion of spying. Foreigners found guilty of spying on Russia face 10 to 20 years in prison.
  65. Putin has publicly said Maria Butina was not known to any of his spy agencies, and Russia’s Foreign Ministry has extensively used social media to portray her as a political prisoner.
  66. On Thursday, Russia charged Whelan with espionage, claiming he spent years cultivating confidential sources, and allegedly received a flash drive containing a list of employees for a secret Russian agency.
  67. The family said Whelan, a Marine Corps veteran, was in Russia for a wedding. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said U.S. officials hoped to gain consular access to see Whelan.
  68. On Saturday, Russia foreign ministry dismissed chances of a swap of Whelan for Dmitry Makarenko, a Russian arrested on December 29, after being indicted in Miami in 2017 for breaking U.S. law.
  69. On Friday, CNN reported a federal grand jury convened in D.C. for the Mueller probe has been extended for up to six additional months. The grand jury’s 18-month term was set to expire over the weekend.
  70. On Friday, The Daily Beast reported Democrats are looking at ways to block the Trump regime from lifting U.S. sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska-controlled companies EN+ and Rusal.
  71. On Friday, WSJ reported the FBI is investigating fake texts sent to Republican House members by someone impersonating a top aide to Vice President Mike Pence.
  72. Netflix blocked an episode of its show “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj” which was critical of Crown Prince MBS, from streaming in Saudi Arabia, after the Saudi government said the episode violated its cybercrime laws.
  73. The Saudi Press Agency reported prosecutors will seek the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects accused of killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudis claims neither MBS or King Salman knew of the operation.
  74. On Wednesday, in an interview with The New York Times Magazine, former Senate Majority Leader HarryReid called Trump an “amoral” person and said he’s “the worst President we’ve ever had.”
  75. On Wednesday, incoming Utah Sen. Mitt Romney wrote a sharp rebuke of Trump in an op-ed the day before he was sworn in. Romney said that two years in, Trump has “not risen to the mantle of the office.”
  76. Romney wrote a “president shapes the public character of a nation,” saying a leader “should unite us and inspire us,” and “demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity,” but that Trump’s character falls short.
  77. Romney also noted “the world needs American leadership, and it is in America’s interest to provide it,” adding, the world is increasingly under leadership by China and Russia which is “autocratic, corrupt and brutal.”
  78. In response to Romney’s op-ed, Trump tweeted in the morning, “Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not,” adding, “I won big, and he didn’t…Be a TEAM player & WIN!”
  79. GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Romney’s niece, tweeted “For an incoming Republican freshman senator” to attack Trump is what the “Democrats and media want” and is “disappointing and unproductive.”
  80. On Wednesday, ahead of a meeting with party leaders, Trump again tweeted false claims about the wall, including “Mexico is paying for the Wall through the new USMCA Trade Deal.”
  81. Trump also tweeted another false claim: “Much of the Wall has already been fully renovated or built.” Some walls and fencing have been replaced during Trump’s time in office, but no new wall has been built.
  82. Wednesday marked the 12th day of the shutdown. Trump said he will veto any measure that did not include $5.6 billion for his wall, telling Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer he would “look foolish” if he backed down.
  83. On Wednesday, Trump also held a cabinet meeting open to the press in which he went on a 95-minute stream-of-consciousness diatribe full of lies, revisionist history, and self-aggrandizement.
  84. On the table where the meeting took place there was a noticeable “Game of Thrones”-style poster with a photo of Trump which read “SANCTIONS ARE COMING NOVEMBER 4.” Trump did not mention the poster in his diatribe.
  85. Trump again trashed Mattis, saying he “essentially” fired him, adding, “What’s he done for me?” Trump also suggested even though he dodged the draft, “I think I would have been a good general, but who knows?”
  86. Trump again took credit for falling oil prices, falsely claiming his calls to leaders were the reason for the fall, “I called up certain people, and I said let that damn oil and gasoline — you let it flow, the oil.”
  87. Trump also took a swipe at Democrats for calling his wall immoral, saying, “Then we have to do something about the Vatican, because the Vatican has the biggest wall of them all.”
  88. Trump also complained that Democrats left D.C. over the holiday, saying “I was here on Christmas evening. I was all by myself in the White House — it’s a big, big house — except for the guys on the lawn with machine guns.”
  89. Trump falsely claimed there were 35 million immigrants illegally in the U.S. In 2016, Pew Research estimated 10.7 million, and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen told Congress there were between 11 and 22 million last week.
  90. Trump described the recent stock market downturn in late 2018 as a “glitch,” saying the markets will soar again on the strength of his trade deals.
  91. Trump also addressed Romney’s op-ed, saying “They say I am the most popular president in the history of the Republican Party,” and adding Romney is not a “team player.”
  92. Trump claimed he could have any government job and be the “most popular person” in Europe, despite a recent poll showing just 16% think he would “do the right thing in world affairs,” down from 84% for Obama.
  93. Trump also defended pulling troops from Afghanistan giving an inaccurate and incomplete account: “Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan.”
  94. Several cabinet members interjected praise for Trump, including Vice President Pence who thanked him for his strong stand on border security, and Secretary Nielsen who said “now more than ever we need the wall.”
  95. Acting AG Matthew Whitaker added, “Sir, Mr. President, I will start by highlighting the fact that you stayed” in D.C., giving up Christmas and New Year’s with your family while “some members of Congress went on vacation.”
  96. On Wednesday, Whitaker had breakfast with former AG Ed Meese, who told an AP reporter Whitaker said U.S. Attorney John Huber is continuing to investigate FBI-related concerns raised in the last year by GOP lawmakers.
  97. Huber is investigating FBI surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, and whether the FBI should have done more to investigate the Clinton Foundation. The DOJ has provided no public updates on his work.
  98. Later, Trump held a meeting with Congressional leaders to discuss the government shutdown. Axiosreported Trump chose the Situation Room as a location as a way to dramatize security concerns at the border.
  99. On Wednesday, Apple lowered its first quarter guidance. CEO Tim Cook cited lower-than-anticipated revenue in China following the trade tensions between the U.S. and China resulting from the trade war.
  100. On Thursday, the Dow Jones tumbled more than 600 points, amid Apple’s shares plunging 10%, a weaker-than-expected manufacturing monthly number, and rising fears of an economic slowdown.
  101. On Thursday, the Treasury Department released numbers showing the U.S. national debt reached a record $22 trillion at the end of 2018, more than $2 trillion higher than when Trump took office.
  102. On Thursday, with Pelosi set to be sworn in as Speaker of the 116th Congress, she told “TODAY” in an interview that she will not rule out indicting Trump, despite Justice Department guidelines against it.
  103. On impeachment, Pelosi said, “We have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report. We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason,” and on funding for Trump’s wall, “No, no. Nothing for the wall.”
  104. Asked about Trump criticizing her vacation in Hawaii during the shutdown, Pelosi said Trump “may not know this, but Hawaii is part of the United States of America; maybe he doesn’t realize that.”
  105. Pelosi will reclaim the House Speaker gavel she last had from 2007 until eight years ago. When the NYTasked Pelosi whether she considers herself Trump’s equal, she responded, “the Constitution does.”
  106. The 116th Congress sworn in Thursday is the most racially diverse and most female group of representatives ever elected to the House, after an election dubbed the “Year of the Woman.”
  107. The freshman class included historic firsts, including the first two Native American women and first two Muslim American women, as well as several who are the first African-American women elected in their states.
  108. The diversity was only on the Democratic side, where 60% of the incoming class is women. The Republican freshman class included just two women in the House and two in the Senate, and just one person of color.
  109. Pelosi took her speaker’s oath surrounded by scores of children who were her family members and family members of the incoming class, saying, “I now call the House to order on behalf of all of America’s children.”
  110. On Thursday, shortly after Pelosi spoke, Trump convened an impromptu news conference, his first in the White House briefing room. CNN and Fox News broke away from other coverage; MSNBC did only for a short time.
  111. Trump stood alongside notably all white male border patrol agents to give his standard message about immigration and border patrol, delivered no new news, and left after without taking any questions from reporters.
  112. On Thursday, Trump posted a “Game of Thrones”-style image similar to the one of the table in the cabinet meeting Wednesday, which read “THE WALL IS COMING” on his official Instagram page.
  113. On Thursday, Trump tweeted an image from conservative outlet The Daily Wire that read “Warren 1/2020th,” a reference to DNA results, after Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her 2020 presidential run.
  114. On Thursday, in the evening, the House voted to reopen the government without giving Trump any money for his wall. A handful of House Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the bill.
  115. When reporters asked Pelosi if she would accept “even a dollar” for Trump’s wall, she joked “A dollar? A dollar? Yeah, one dollar,” adding, “We are not doing a wall. So that’s that.
  116. On Thursday, at a MoveOn rally in the evening near Capitol Hill, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the two freshman Muslim American women told the crowd, “‘We’re going to go in there and impeach the motherfucker.”
  117. On Friday, Trump tweeted “How do you impeach a president who has won perhaps the greatest election of all time,” and “had the most successful first two years of any president, and is the most popular Republican.”
  118. Trump also asserted, without evidence, “no Collusion with Russia, it was the Dems that Colluded.” The grounds for impeachment are “high crimes and misdemeanors,” and not related to job performance or popularity.
  119. Trump continues to take credit for stock market gains and positive economic announcements, while blaming others including the Fed Chair, the Treasury Secretary, and Democrats for bad news.
  120. On Friday, Trump blamed Thursday’s stock market sell-off on Democrats, saying in a tweet he had warned that “if the Democrats take over the House or Senate, there will be disruption to the Financial Markets.”
  121. On Friday, when asked by the moderator at the American Economic Association’s annual meeting, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he would not resign if Trump asked him to.
  122. On Friday, press secretary Sanders, speaking to reporters outside the White House, falsely claimed CBP picked up nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists “that came across our southern border” last year.
  123. According to DOJ public records and two former counterterrorism officials who spoke to NBC News, not a single immigrant has been arrested at the southwest border on terrorism charges in recent years.
  124. Also, a head of Trump’s meeting with Congressional leaders Friday, the White House issued a misleading statement: “3,775 known or suspected terrorists [were] prevented from traveling or entering the U.S.” in 2017.
  125. WAPO reported the DOJ also acknowledged errors and deficiencies in a controversial report issued in January 2018, which implied a link between terrorism and immigration, but again refused to correct or retract it.
  126. The report was written in compliance with Trump’s March 2017 executive order to justify his Muslim ban. Critics expressed alarm at highly misleading data without context, and sued for corrections or retraction.
  127. For example, the DOJ claimed between 2003 and 2009, immigrants were convicted of 69,929 sex offenses.The offenses actually spanned a period from 1955 to 2010–55 years, according to GAO date.
  128. On Friday, sitting congressman and Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz co-hosted the Fox News show “Outnumbered.”
  129. On Friday, The Daily Beast reported Trump kicked off the meeting with Congressional leaders with a 15-minute long, profanity-laced rant including a demand for a wall, saying the word “fuck” at least three times.
  130. Pelosi and Schumer urged Trump to reopen the government, saying he was holding the government hostage. Trump responded, “I’m not going to say it’s for leverage, but I’m not going to get a deal unless I do this.”
  131. Trump threatened to keep the government closed for “years” if that is what it took to get his wall. Trump also said he did not want to call the partial government shutdown a “shutdown,” but rather to use the term “strike.”
  132. Trump also blamed Pelosi for Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s comments, and told the leaders he was too popular to impeach. Trump also then reportedly apologized to Pelosi for cursing so much in the meeting.
  133. After the meeting, Trump spoke to the press in the Rose Garden. In a rambling, hour-long news conference,Trump asserted he had the power to declare a national emergency to build the wall without Congress.
  134. Trump also said the government would stay closed until he got funding for his wall, and claimed, without providing evidence, that previous presidents have told him they wished they had built a wall themselves.
  135. Trump offered no empathy for federal workers, saying the “safety net is going to be having a strong border because we’re going to be safe,” and landlords would “work with” them and be “nice and easy.”
  136. Trump also offered the possibility that the shutdown would not end, “We’ll see what happens. It may get solved; it may not get solved.” Senate Leader Mitch McConnell was silent in the meeting, and did not attend the press briefing.
  137. When asked about comments by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Trump told reporters “I thought her comments were disgraceful,” adding he thought her remarks “dishonored” the country.
  138. On Friday, Leader McConnell took to the Senate floor and took the unusual position that the shutdown fight was between Trump and the Democrats. Republicans facing tough 2020 re-elections are speaking out.
  139. On Friday, Politico reported that contrary to Trump’s claims in the news conference, former presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama did not confide in him that they regretted not building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
  140. WAPO reported while federal workers go without pay, senior members of the Trump regime, includingcabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries, and Vice President Mike Pence will get a roughly $10,000 raise as of January 5.
  141. WAPO reported the shutdown has put further strain on the immigration system, as employees at the borderare working but not getting paid, and judges and clerks in backlogged immigration courts have been sent home.
  142. Agents are taking an average of more than 2,000 migrants per day into custody. With nowhere to detain them, the Trump regime is releasing hundreds onto the streets in El Paso, Yuma, and other border cities.
  143. Also, while the Trump regime has threatened to crack down on companies that hire unauthorized workers, the shutdown has crippled the main compliance tool for employers to make sure they are following the law.
  144. On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham told Fox News host Sean Hannity if Trump gives in on funding for his wall, “that’s the end of 2019, in terms of him being” effective in office, and “probably the end of his presidency.”
  145. NBC News reported the shutdown is jeopardizing the welfare of some of the poorest families and the elderly. Most of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s enforcement activities have been suspended.
  146. Public housing officials are concerned about rental assistance payments from the government — a suspension could put millions of tenants at risk if the shutdown continues to February.
  147. On Friday, CNN reported that hundreds of Transportation Security Administration officers, who are required to work without pay during the shutdown, have called out sick at four major U.S. airports.
  148. Some of the reasons given for calling in sick include parents cannot afford child care without a paycheck, and workers finding cash-paying jobs outside of the government to pay their rent and other bills.
  149. The TSA is bracing for more call outs next week, and are working closely to rearrange scheduling to maintain normal wait times in security lines, and well as manage concerns about the safety of air travel.
  150. On Friday, WAPO reported the Trump regime, which had not anticipated a long-term shutdown, recognized only this week the breadth of the potential impact of keeping the government closed.
  151. Thousands of federal programs are affected by the shutdown, including food stamps for 38 million low-income Americans, which would start to run of funding in February. Grocers and retailers would also be hurt.
  152. The White House has not briefed lawmakers on the expanding consequences of a continuing shutdown, leading to confusion. Economists warn of the impact to the economy with a drop-off in spending.
  153. On Friday, Mary Mayhew, the director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services who joined the regime in October 2018, resigned to join the incoming Florida governor’s office.
  154. On Saturday, Trump took a combative tone in a series of tweets. Trump complained about the media coverage: “Washington Post and NBC reporting of events, including Fake sources, has been very inaccurate.”
  155. Trump also tweeted, “we need a WALL! In 2018, 1.7 million pounds of narcotics seized, 17,000 adults arrested with criminal records, and 6000 gang members,” adding, “A big Human Trafficking problem.”
  156. Trump also again referenced federal workers being Democrats, tweeting “I don’t care that most of the workers not getting paid are Democrats,” adding, “I am in the White House ready to go, where are the Dems?”
  157. Shortly after, Pence met with congressional aides for three hours. Pence did not have the okay to float a new or specific compromise number for the wall as he did last month with Schumer. No progress was made.
  158. WAPO reported Trump boasted in a call with friends Friday night that he was in a strong negotiating position because he captured the attention of the political world, and said things his core voters appreciated.
  159. The government shutdown entered it third week on Saturday, the second longest shutdown in history, with no end in sight. Trump is looking for optics to enhance his wall pitch, like visiting the border or meeting with sheriffs.
  160. On Saturday, Trump tweeted many people who oppose him, “including President Obama & the Dems” have had campaign violations, claiming, “While no big deal, I did not commit a campaign violation!
  161. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “‘Former @NYTimes editor Jill Abramson rips paper’s “unmistakably anti-Trump” bias,’” adding. “Hence the term Fake News, Enemy of the People, and Opposition Party!”
  162. Abramson told Politico, Fox News host Howard Kurtz in a report headlined, “Former NY Times editor rips Trump coverage as biased” took her book “totally out of context,” calling it an attempt to “Foxify my book.”

Trump’s Ignorance Of Afghanistan Is Scary And Curious

Ken AshfordAfghanistan, Military Issues, Russia, Trump & Administration, War on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

At a press briefing at the end of a cabinet meeting Wednesday, Trump took questions from the press, and went on for 90 minutes in a rambling monologue festooned from end to end with falsehoods on a variety of subjects.

But one particular statement he made has stood out:

But then Trump went right off the deep end with a disquisition on the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and his remarks betrayed a perilous, gawping ignorance of the very reason why Afghanistan became such a lawless hellhole in the first place—which is how it came to pass that al-Qaeda found sanctuary there with the deranged Pakistani subsidiary that came to be called the Taliban, which is how al-Qaeda managed to plan and organize the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001—which is the very reason the American troops that Trump keeps saying he wants to bring home are still there at all.

“Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan,” Trump began. “The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is, it was a tough fight. And literally they went bankrupt; they went into being called Russia again, as opposed to the Soviet Union. You know, a lot of these places you’re reading about now are no longer part of Russia, because of Afghanistan.”
They were right to be there.

You’ll want to let that sink in for a moment: on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, Donald Trump endorsed a revisionist lunacy that is currently being championed by a bunch of cranks at the outermost neo-Stalinist fringe of Vladimir Putin’s ruling circle of oligarchs. They’ve already managed to cobble together a resolution in Russia’s Potemkin parliament that is to be voted on next month. It’s jointly sponsored by lawmakers from Putin’s United Russia and the still-existing Communist Party.

The resolution slammed the former Soviet leaders Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, Andrei Gromyko and Dimitri Ustinov for turning Afghanistan into an apocalyptic wasteland of more than a million corpses and forcing a third of the Afghan population to flee the country as refugees, costing as well the lives of 15,000 Soviet soldiers, for good measure.

And now, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, is saying Gorbachev was wrong, and Brezhnev, Andropov, Gromyko and Ustinov were right, and so are Vladimir Putin’s creepy neo-Stalinist revisionists. Further than that, the idea the invasion bankrupted the Soviet Union, leading to its collapse, and that the Soviets rightly invaded Afghanistan “because terrorists were going into Russia,” as Trump claimed, is a whole-cloth fiction.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board piled on, saying Trump’s comments on Afghanistan were a “slander against every ally that has supported” the US effort in the country and adding, “We cannot recall a more absurd misstatement of history by an American President.”

And this hints on a question that many people are asking: Where is Trump getting his information from?

Certainly not our generals.

Or historians. Let’s go back not too far in time.

Through the 1970s, Afghanistan had been governed by a president who was friendly to the Soviet Union, but it was not reliably under Soviet control. That president, Mohammad Daoud Khan, became convinced that the local Communists were plotting against him. He struck first, assassinating one Communist leader in April 1978, and arresting others.

Instead of preventing the plot, this coup-from-above triggered it. In April 1978, the Communists—enabled by their strong presence in Afghanistan’s Soviet-trained military—seized power.

The new regime launched an ambitious modernizing agenda: women’s rights, land reform, secularization. That project went about as well as expected. While the Communists appealed to a small, educated elite in Kabul, they offended the ultraconservative countryside. Violent guerrilla resistance gathered. The guerrillas called themselves “mujahideen,” holy warriors. The Kabul government dismissed them as “bandit elements” and “terrorists.”

By the end of 1979, the Kabul-based Communist government was teetering, nearing collapse. The Soviet authorities in Moscow blamed the incompetence, corruption, and internecine violence of their local allies. In December 1979, they overthrew and killed the then-Communist leader, installed somebody more compliant, and deployed 85,000 troops to enforce their rule over the countryside. The Soviets had expected a brief, decisive intervention like those in Prague in 1968 or Budapest in 1956. Instead, the war turned into a grinding Vietnam-in-reverse. The Soviets withdrew, defeated, in 1989.

Now, Putin doesn’t give a crap about Afghanistan, but he cares about the now broken-apart USSR. In 2005, Putin described the collapse of the Soviet Union as (depending on your preferred translation) “the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century” or “a major geopolitical disaster of the 20th century”—but clearly a thing very much to be regretted.

And in reviving the image of the USSR, the Putin regime tries to rehabilitate and justify the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.

Trump just did that.

It is now two days since that statement, and there has been no attempt by the White House to tidy things up: no presidential tweet, no corrective statement. The president’s usual defenders—Sean Hannity, Fox & Friends, the anti-anti-Trump Twitter chorus—have likewise ignored the whole matter. They’re back to denouncing the Steele dossier, fulminating against Mueller, and reprising the Clinton-email drama. There’s apparently nothing they can think of to say in exoneration or excuse.

So we understand why Putin is interested in propping up the Soviet Union.
But how that propaganda is reaching Trump—by which channels, via which persons—seems an important if not urgent question.

New Congress; Same President

Ken AshfordCyberbullying, Election 2020, Race, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

The new Congress is being sworn in today. There is a partial government shutdown. An American was arrested in Russia for spying (he probably wasn’t — it’s retaliation). And the Dow is down today, uh, let’s see — 550 points.

So what is on Trump’s mind? Re-election.

Let’s be clear about this: if you think this is funny, you’re a dick. And this isn’t politics.

I’m not prepared to discuss Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy yet, simply because I feel we JUST HAD A FUCKING ELECTION!!! Plus, Trump clearly wants the focus to go there. But I will say this… it is clear they are trying to “Hillary” her, and it is not likely to work. She simply doesn’t have Hillary baggage.

Some reax:

And Senator Warren is not impressed.

UPDATE: Dow closed down 660.02

Enter Mitt

Ken AshfordElection 2020, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Yesterday, Mitt penned a scorching New Year’s Day attack on Trump in the Washington Post:

The Trump presidency made a deep descent in December. The departures of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, the appointment of senior persons of lesser experience, the abandonment of allies who fight beside us, and the president’s thoughtless claim that America has long been a “sucker” in world affairs all defined his presidency down.

It is well known that Donald Trump was not my choice for the Republican presidential nomination. After he became the nominee, I hoped his campaign would refrain from resentment and name-calling. It did not. When he won the election, I hoped he would rise to the occasion. His early appointments of Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Nikki Haley, Gary Cohn, H.R. McMaster, Kelly and Mattis were encouraging. But, on balance, his conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions last month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.

It is not that all of the president’s policies have been misguided. He was right to align U.S. corporate taxes with those of global competitors, to strip out excessive regulations, to crack down on China’s unfair trade practices, to reform criminal justice and to appoint conservative judges. These are policies mainstream Republicans have promoted for years. But policies and appointments are only a part of a presidency.

To a great degree, a presidency shapes the public character of the nation. A president should unite us and inspire us to follow “our better angels.” A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect. As a nation, we have been blessed with presidents who have called on the greatness of the American spirit. With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.

He then went on to attack Trump as hurting American prestige worldwide, as well as engaging in fiscal irresponsibility.

Romney, to be sworn in as Utah’s junior senator on Thursday, was of course the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee, the WaPo op-ed could be seen as the opening salvo in a run against Trump in 2020.

Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, gave a tepid Twitter response…

… if only because of his meaningless (and misspelled phrase): “Jealously [sic] is a drink best served warm…” . In any event, I’m not sure sycophancy is the way to go. Then again, Parscale is a tech guy, and not so much of a campaign manager.

Trump then added his own critique:

I think Dems are also asking if Romney is a (Jeff) Flake, too. That is, a man somewhat anti-Trump in words but not in deeds (votes). Trump’s tweet urges Romney to be a team player, but cannot resist the dig (I won big and he didn’t — never mind the fact that Trump did not win big at all and got only 46.4% of the vote compared to Romney’s 47.2%

All this was followed by the Chairwoman of the GOP

… which is a very interesting tweet considering that she is Romney’s niece!

Many believe, with good reason, that Romney is planning to join the GOP furrowed brow club — the group of outspoken GOP politicians who speak against Trump, but do nothing because they fear his base. And maybe he will do that, but that seems a terrible strategy for a 2020 run. He needs to distinguish himself from Trump in a significant way — not just with rhetoric. I doubt he will move to the left on many issues, but he does have to take a stand here and there.

It is all part of a larger question about how much Republicans are willing to stand behind Trump.

Watch this space.

UPDATE — Looks like the RNC is willing to cheat in order to protect Trump

Mitt Romney’s scorching critique of President Trump in a New Year’s Day op-ed has sparked a call from within the Republican National Committee to change party rules to protect Trump from any long-shot primary challenge in 2020.

The RNC committeeman representing the Virgin Islands late Tuesday emailed fellow elected members of the national party urging them to change the rules when they convene in New Mexico for their annual winter meeting later this month. Republicans are confident that Trump would hold off any primary challenger, but worry the campaign would derail his re-election.

“Look, the political history is clear. No Republican president opposed for re-nomination has ever won re-election,” RNC committeeman Jevon O.A. Williams said in a email obtained by the Washington Examiner. “Unfortunately, loopholes in the rules governing the 2020 re-nomination campaign are enabling these so-called Republicans to flirt with the possibility of contested primaries and caucuses.”

Romney, to be sworn in as Utah’s junior senator on Thursday, was the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee, and is seen as an acute threat to Trump in the wake of his op-ed in the Washington Post. Williams said Romney or someone like him would complicate Trump’s 2020 campaign.

“While President Trump would win re-nomination it wouldn’t come quick and it wouldn’t be inexpensive. Any contested re-nomination campaign—even a forlorn hope—would only help Democrats,” Williams wrote. “Accordingly, I am asking for your support to take the unprecedented step of amending the rules to close loopholes in the re-nomination campaign, including Rule 40.”

Trump would be the overwhelming favorite in any contested 2020 primary. But Republican National Committee rules make it relatively easy for a well-funded challenger to win enough votes to have his or her vote placed in nomination on the floor of the party’s nominating convention in Charlotte.

Under current rules, a primary challenger can get a vote on the convention floor if he or she wins a plurality of delegates in five states or territories (Washington, D.C. can also be one of the five).

Existing rules technically prohibit any changes to these regulations inside of a presidential cycle, which begins after the midterms. But as a private organization, the RNC could in fact make any changes it wants at any time.

Williams wants the RNC to change the rules, endorse Trump and declare him the de-facto nominee, heading off any primary challenge. But such a move, while possible, could be complicated and generate criticism that the president is engaging in the sort of establishment election-rigging he decried on the campaign trail in 2016.

Election-rigging? Not above this Republican party.

UPDATE #2 — Romney on CNN just now

Doesn’t sound like he is staking positions against Trump.

And here it is….

Okay then. I’m an idiot.

Reflections on 2018

Ken AshfordTrump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

1968 is often thought of as the most turbulent year domestically in modern American history, but I think 2018 is right up there. Sure, there wasn’t rioting in the streets, but the limitations of democracy and our constitutional rule of law remain tested.

Trump is, if not a criminal, certainly immoral, and without question the worst custodian of this country. He care not for the Constitution or reality. That’s a deadly concoction.

2018 saw Trump claim that he had solved the North Korea problem — he actually hadn’t — after cozying up to Kim Jong Un. And his obsession with Russia and Putin is mystifying — that is, until you accept the facts about his Moscow deals-in-the-making.

And Mueller’s investigation remains front page news, if only because Trump cannot stop tweeting about it (“WITCH HUNT!”) several times a week. (Certainly, Mueller cannot be blamed for the constant attention on his investigation). And then there is the whole SDNY investigation into Trump.

But Digby is right:

[T]he whole year is a low point. But to my mind nothing is lower than the fact that  Donald Trump believes that separating children, even infants, from their parents at the U.S. border — putting the kids in cages and then losing track of hundreds of them as their parents were deported — was a justifiable “deterrent.” Trump reportedly calls their nations “shithole countries” and threatens their leaders with a cutoff of aid if they don’t somehow keep their citizens from seeking refuge in the U.S. (Does he want them to build a wall to keep their people in?)

Trump has created a crisis where none existed — illegal immigration and asylum claims are quite low by historical standards — out of bigotry and rank political opportunism. His administration has changed the rules and procedures, forcing people to take more and more dangerous risks. And now children are dying. Two kids under age 10 have died in government custody under dubious conditions in the past month.

***

It is the very end of 2018. The government is shut down over Trump’s demand for a  wall at the border, while refugee children die in our government’s custody. Our president does not show even a scintilla of empathy or take any responsibility. That’s low, even for him. I hesitate to think what 2019 is going to bring.

So do I. But I don’t think Trump’s end-of-the-year gambit is going to turn things around for him. I don’t think his base really CARED about a wall that much. They just liked the chant. I mean, when you think about it, “Freebird” isn’t that great a song, but people asked for it anyway at concerts.

We haven’t hit the worst yet. But we’re coming to a head. A constitutional crisis.

Buckle up.

Why Should Democrats Negotiate When Team Trump Can’t Even Agree On What A “Wall” Means?

Ken AshfordGubmint Shutdown, Immigration and Xenophobia, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

In an interview published Sunday in the Los Angeles Times, Kelly was quoted saying that the current White House plan for a barrier is “not a wall.”

“The president still says ‘wall’ — oftentimes, frankly, he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing.’ Now he’s tended toward steel slats,” Kelly said. “But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it.”

And during a television interview Sunday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway chided Trump critics for focusing on the word “wall.”

“It is a silly, semantic argument because people who just want to say ‘wall, wall, wall’ want it to be a four-letter word,” she said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“There may be a wall at some places, there may be steel slats, there may be technological enhancements,” Conway said. “But always saying ‘wall’ or ‘no wall’ is being very disingenuous and turning a complete blind eye to what is a crisis at the border when it comes to the drugs pouring in.”

Trump seemed to strike back at Kelly and Kellyanne this morning with this tweet:

We are in the second week of a government shutdown, and the administration is fighting with itself about what it is asking for.

Weekly List 111

Ken AshfordWeekly ListLeave a Comment

Increasingly, Trump stands alone. The generals are gone, much of his experienced and competent senior staffers have resigned or been fired. This week, in a tantrum over his decision to shut down the government, Trump stewed and tweeted and blamed and attacked from the White House, while the rest of Congress was home for the Christmas holiday. At one point on Christmas Eve day, as the stock market was plummeting, Trump bemoaned his self-imposed status, tweeting, “I am all alone (poor me) in the White House.” Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley called it, “a sad and pathetic moment.” As the week came to a close, Trump again complained: “I am in the White House waiting for the Democrats.”

This week the stock market continued wild gyrations, as Trump again publicly lashed out at his Federal Reserve Chair, and privately threatened to fire his Treasury Secretary. Parts of the government were shuttered during the holiday week, and the effects of the shutdown started to be felt. Trump took a surprise visit — his first — to a combat zone, but even that backfired and led to further criticism as he held a campaign rally-style event with U.S. troops at a military base in Iraq, and continued his partisan criticisms of Democrats and demagoguery about his wall and the shutdown while abroad. Iraqi politicians denounced Trump’s visit and demanded U.S. troops leave their country.=

This week the crisis at our southern border intensified as a second child died in Border Patrol custody, and more than 1,600 migrants were dropped off without warning over the holidays at a Greyhound bus stop in El Paso. Incoming House Democrats promised to hold hearings on the treatment of migrants when they take control of committees, and incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hired a distinguished former Department of Justice official as the new General Counsel of the House, as talks of investigations and impeachment continued.

  1. On Saturday, WAPO reported that for two years seasoned advisers tried to tutor Trump on history, deliberation, restraint, and preparation, and tried to rein in his most reckless impulses. All of these advisers are gone or have failed.
  2. Trump enters his third year unchecked, with the country in disarray: the government is shut down, the stock market is in free-fall, and foreign allies are voicing alarm. Hostile powers like Russia are cheering.
  3. Republicans are for the first time sporadically openly critical, while Trump surrounds himself solely with sycophants, with Jared Kushner taking more power and Nikki Haley, John Kelly, and Jim Mattis about to depart.
  4. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week was “the most chaotic week of what’s undoubtedly the most chaotic presidency ever in the history of the United States,” citing senior level departures.
  5. On Saturday, in the evening, Trump attacked outgoing Defense Secretary Mattis, tweeting, “When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance. Some thought I shouldn’t.”
  6. Trump also tweeted, “Interesting relationship-but I also gave all of the resources that he never really had. Allies are very important-but not when they take advantage of U.S.”
  7. Trump also attacked Brett McGurk, whom Trump claimed he did not know, even though McGurk was his anti-ISIS point man — adding “Grandstander? The Fake News is making such a big deal about this nothing event!”
  8. On Sunday, irritated by criticism, Trump announced he would push out Mattis two months earlier than planned. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified Mattis of the decision.
  9. Mattis’ deputy will assume the role temporarily. The announcement brought additional instability to the Pentagon as it manages Trump’s sudden decisions to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
  10. On Sunday, Sen. Bob Corker told “State of the Union” Trump was to blame for the government shutdown. In two tweets, Trump attacked Corker, saying he did not run for re-election because his “poll numbers TANKED.”
  11. On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin phoned the chief executives of six of the country’s largest banks from his vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to ensure they had ample liquidity.
  12. Over the weekend, Trump’s advisers sought to assure investors that Trump will not fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, seeking to quell further speculation and calm the markets.
  13. Mnuchin said in a statement Trump had not suggested firing Powell and did not believe he could do so. Incoming chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told “This Week” that Trump “now realizes” he cannot sack the Fed chairman.
  14. On Monday, the stock market plummeted again, in the worst day of Christmas Eve trading day in history. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 653 points, and Standard & Poor’s 500 entered a bear market.
  15. Markets were spooked by Mnuchin’s calls, Trump’s threats to fire Fed Chair Powell, Mattis stepping down, and the uncertainty created by the government shutdown.
  16. On Monday, Trump spent Christmas Eve day mostly alone at the White House after canceling his trip to Mar-a-Lago. This was his third day holed up in the White House. Members of Congress have left for the holidays.
  17. Trump sent 12 tweets on a variety of topics. Trump tweeted, “Virtually every Democrat we are dealing with today strongly supported a Border Wall or Fence” until he suggested it. This claim is false.
  18. Trump also tweeted “To those few Senators who think I don’t like or appreciate being allied” with other countries, they are wrong, saying instead those “countries take advantage of their friendship.”
  19. Trump again attacked Mattis, claiming he “did not see this as a problem,” that our allies are “take total advantage of the U.S., and our TAXPAYERS,” adding “it is being fixed!”
  20. Trump also attacked Brett McGurk again, calling him an “Obama appointee,” who loaded up “airplanes with 1.8 Billion Dollars in CASH” to Iran, adding he was “approved by Little Bob Corker.”
  21. Trump also tweeted, “AMERICA IS RESPECTED AGAIN!”
  22. As the stock market was plunging, Trump tweeted, “The only problem our economy has is the Fed,” adding, “The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can’t score because he has no touch — he can’t putt!”
  23. Trump sent one more tweet before noon, claiming reporting in Week 109 that he “‘lashed out’ at the Acting Attorney General…is a made up story, one of many, by the Fake News Media!”
  24. Shortly after, in a confusing tweet, Trump tweeted, “The Wall is different than the 25 Billion Dollars in Border Security,” claiming “The complete Wall will be built with the Shutdown money plus funds already in hand.”
  25. Trump also tweeted, “Saudi Arabia has now agreed to spend the necessary money needed to help rebuild Syria, instead of the United States. See?” Adding, “Thanks to Saudi A!”
  26. Trump ended the morning Twitter spree just after noon, tweeting “I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal.” This tweet in particular drew shock and dismay.
  27. WAPO reported White House officials refused requests for comment about Trump’s tweets and activities. First Lady Melania Trump returned from Mar-a-Lago later in the day to join Trump at the White House.
  28. In the afternoon, Trump sent two more tweets. One included a photo in the Oval Office, saying “Christmas Eve briefing with my team working on North Korea…Looking forward to my next summit with Chairman Kim!”
  29. Trump also claimed that he “just gave out a 115 mile long contract for another large section of the Wall in Texas.” It was unclear what he meant. He has repeatedly boasted falsely that parts of his wall have been built.
  30. Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said, “It’s a sad and pathetic moment when on Christmas Eve the president of the United States is firing downer tweets…This is like Charles Dickens’s Scrooge on steroids.”
  31. In the evening, Trump and Melania participated in NORAD Santa Tracker calls with children. Trump asked a 7 year-old girl, “Are you still a believer in Santa? Because at seven it’s marginal, right?”
  32. On Christmas, in an Oval Office appearance with reporters, Trump praised Mnuchin, but when asked if he has confidence in Powell, responded “Well, we’ll see. They’re raising interest rates too fast, that’s my opinion.”
  33. In the fourth day of the shutdown, Trump claimed of federal workers “many of those workers have said to me, communicated — stay out until you get the funding for the wall. These federal workers want the wall.”
  34. Trump also threatened to keep the government shut, saying “I can’t tell you when the government is going to be open. It’s not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they would like to call it.”
  35. The president of the National Treasury Employees Union, representing 150,000 federal workers, called the shutdown “a travesty,” saying workers will have a hard time paying mortgages and buying Christmas presents.
  36. On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported before Trump’s Oval Office comments, a person familiar said Trump had considered firing Mnuchin. Another said Mnuchin’s tenure may depend on how the stock market performs.
  37. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted “I hope everyone, even the Fake News Media, is having a great Christmas!” adding, “our Country is doing very well. We are securing our Borders, making great new Trade Deals…#MAGA.”
  38. The Department of Defense tweeted a Christmas message from Mattis taped the day before he resigned, praising troops for “keeping watch by night” during the season, noting they “carry on the proud legacy.”
  39. On Wednesday, Trump made an unannounced trip to Iraq to visit U.S. troops, his first trip to a conflict zone after months of public pressure and comparisons to his predecessors. He was accompanied by Melania.
  40. Trump told reporters he considered the safety risks in making his first trip to a war zone, claiming “I had concerns for the institution of the presidency. Not for myself, personally. I had concerns for the first lady.”
  41. Trump told U.S. service members al-Asad Air Base on the day after Christmas. “We’re no longer the suckers, folks.” Trump defended his decision to abruptly withdraw from Syria.
  42. Trump said the era of heavy U.S. intervention abroad was ending: “The United States cannot continue to be the policeman of the world…We are in countries most people haven’t even heard about. Frankly, it’s ridiculous.”
  43. Trump also continued to threaten keeping the government shut, telling troops in Iraq, “We need a wall” and falsely claiming “We have terrorists coming in through the southern border.”
  44. Trump falsely claimed to the troops that he had given them a 10% raise after they had not received a pay raise in more than 10 years. The actual raise was 2.6%, and the troops have received raises every year for decades.
  45. Trump’s speech to troops had the feel of one of his campaign rallies, with chants of “USA! USA!” and background music. Trump also made partisan attacks, and signed red “Make America Great Again” hats for the troops.
  46. On Wednesday, after the Christmas holiday break, roughly 400,000 federal employees will be furloughed, with another 400,000 deemed “essential personnel” required to stay on the job without pay.
  47. On Wednesday, Politico reported Trump and leaders of the House and Senate are not in negotiations. Also, there were no calls or meetings between House GOP and Democratic leaders scheduled.
  48. On Thursday, Trump resumed his attacks on Democrats, tweeting we “desperately need Border Security and a Wall,” and claiming of the shutdown, “most of the people not getting paid are Democrats.”
  49. On Thursday, Trump defended his turning the trip to Iraq into a partisan political event, tweeting “CNN & others within the Fake News Universe were going wild about my signing MAGA hats for our military.”
  50. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told CNN the hats Trump signed in Iraq and at a military base in Germany where they stopped to refuel belonged to troops, and were not distributed by the White House.
  51. Trump also continued to face criticism for attacking incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a news conference held in Iraq: “we have a problem with the Democrats because Nancy Pelosi is calling the shots.”
  52. Defense Department Directive 1344.10 prohibits troops from participating in political rallies, giving the appearance of endorsing a candidate or even displaying partisan political signs, posters, and banners.
  53. On Thursday, AP reported that Trump’s surprise visit infuriated Iraqi politicians, who called the visit “arrogant” and “a violation of national sovereignty,” and demanded the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
  54. On Thursday, Trump lashed out at Democrats over the shutdown in a series of tweets, saying, “‘Border Patrol Agents want the Wall.’ Democrat’s say they don’t want the Wall (even though they know it is really needed).”
  55. Trump also tweeted the Democrats “don’t want ICE,” adding, “They don’t have much to campaign on, do they? An Open Southern Border and the large scale crime that comes with such stupidity!”
  56. Trump also again attacked the 9th Circuit for its role, tweeting “The reason the DACA for Wall deal didn’t get done was that a ridiculous court decision from the 9th Circuit,” adding “after ruling, Dems dropped deal.”
  57. Trump also compared the wall to Democrats slow-walking his nominees, tweeting “The Democrats OBSTRUCTION of the desperately needed Wall…is exceeded only by their OBSTRUCTION of 350 great people.”
  58. Later in the day, Trump tweeted “This isn’t about the Wall, everybody knows that a Wall will work perfectly,” adding, “this is only about the Dems not letting Donald Trump & the Republicans have a win.”
  59. On Friday, in a series of tweets, Trump threatened Democrats, tweeting, “We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall.”
  60. Trump has made similar threats before, but has not offered details on how his plan would work. When people seek asylum, the government is required to consider those requests regardless of border closures.
  61. Trump also suggested, without providing evidence, that shutting the border would improve U.S. trade with Mexico, tweeting “I would consider closing the Southern Border a ‘profit making operation.’”
  62. Trump also again threatened to cut aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, tweeting “We will be cutting off all aid to these 3 countries — taking advantage of U.S. for years!”
  63. On Friday, Mexican President Lopez Obrador said: “We are always seeking a good relationship” with the U.S., adding on the wall funding dispute, “we have not commented on this issue, because it is an internal affair.”
  64. On Friday, incoming acting chief of staff Mulvaney told “Fox & Friends” that Trump canceled his New Year’s plans at Mar-a-Lago, and will remain in Washington, D.C. as the government shutdown continues.
  65. On Friday, Mulvaney accused Democrats of walking away from the negotiating table, saying they ignored an offer for border wall funding below Trump’s $5 billion request.
  66. A spokesperson for Pelosi said Democrats will not fund Trump’s “immoral, ineffective and expensive wall,” adding Trump “has changed his position so many times” he needs to publicly endorse a proposal.
  67. On Friday, WAPO reported since arriving back in the White House early Thursday, Trump has had no public events, and aides have given little details other than he is working and making phone calls.
  68. After canceling his trip to Mar-a-Lago, rather than engage in substantive negotiations on the shutdown, Trump has instead sent a rash of tweets blaming Democrats and casting immigrants as a threat to the country.
  69. Contrary to Trump’s threats on Twitter, aides say closing the border would cause an economic catastrophe. A Reuters/Ipsos poll found 47% of Americans blame Trump for the shutdown, 33% blame Democrats.
  70. On Friday, Trump dined with Kushner, Vice President Mike Pence, and Mulvaney as the shutdown hit one week. Noticeably absent were the faces of experienced staffers to consult after the bevy of departures.
  71. On Sunday, NYT reported previously unreleased video shows the Proud Boys initiated the attack in Manhattan in Week 101. Ten Proud Boys have been arrested, and will be charged with riot and attempted assault.
  72. On Sunday and on Christmas Eve, Immigration and Customs Enforcement released more than 400 migrants at the Greyhound bus station in El Paso. The community and shelters were not given warning or time to prepare.
  73. On Christmas Day, ICE released hundreds more migrant asylum-seekers at a park near a bus station in downtown El Paso. Unprepared shelters struggled to provide food and shelter to the deluge of migrants arriving.
  74. On Thursday, the Texas Tribune reported over the four-day period, ICE has dropped off a total of between1,600 and 1,700 migrants in El Paso. Immigration shelters are trying to keep up with the inflow.
  75. On Tuesday, AP reported an 8 year-old boy from Guatemala died in Customs and Border Protection just after midnight on Christmas Day, marking the second death of an immigrant child in detention this month.
  76. The boy was identified as Felipe Gómez Alonzo. Border Patrol’s El Paso sector, which had custody of Alonzo and Jakelin Caal, on Tuesday ordered immediate medical assessments on all 700 children in its custody.
  77. On Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen faulted the parents and “open border” supporters for Alonzo’s death,” adding, “Smugglers, traffickers, and their own parents put these minors at risk.”
  78. Nielsen also called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate an uptick in sick children crossing from Mexico, and on the U.S. Coast Guard medical corps to assess CBP’s medical programs.
  79. LA Times reported the government shutdown has caused Border Patrol agents and an estimated 44,000 active duty Coast Guard members to work without pay over the holiday week.
  80. On Thursday, Daily Beast reported ICE paid an estimated $807 million in fiscal year 2018 of taxpayer money to cover the costs of 19 private prison facilities which held approximately 18,000 migrants.
  81. At some detention facilities, migrants worked for pennies. One detainee at the Corley center who took the graveyard shift in the facility kitchen was paid $3 for 7 hours of work. Advocates say this borders on slave labor.
  82. The detainee also told The Daily Beast of the conditions, “It’s inhumane. It’s like a torture chamber,” adding “We don’t go outside. I don’t breathe fresh air, haven’t been outside since I’ve been in here.”
  83. The Corley facility is run by GEO Group, a private prison company which made over $281,000 in donations to Trump’s campaign and inauguration, and has seen its revenue rise since Trump took office.
  84. ProPublica reported on Long Island high schools that are embracing the Trump regime’s crackdown on MS-13 to target immigrants. Under Operation Matador, ICE has arrested 816 people suspected of gang affiliation.
  85. Of those, 170 came to New York legally as unaccompanied minors. ICE uses “administrative arrests” to pursue gang members and “gang associates,” who had no criminal records, are deemed a danger.
  86. ProPublica tracked the case of one teen named Alex, who was falsely assumed to be a gang member because of the color of his sneakers and a school mascot doodle. He was detained and then deported to Honduras.
  87. The Courier reported Jacob Dick and Owen Stewart, who worked in the county office outside Toledo,resigned after appearing in a video depicting a white doll with its face painted brown hanging from a noose.
  88. WJTV reported Lanekia Michelle Brown, 37, died in Madison County, Mississippi jail awaiting trial after a traffic stop. Brown, a Black woman, complained of stomach pains, and died before the nurse arrived.
  89. On Wednesday, a man at a Dallas-area Macy’s was captured in a video ranting at employees who spoke in Arabic to each other, saying “All the Arabs, all you Arabs and Democrats. Go back to where you came from…”
  90. On Thursday, the Buena Regional School District Superintendent said referee Alan Maloney, who in Week 110 forced a Black wrestler to cut his dreadlocks, will no longer be allowed to officiate matches in their district.
  91. In Oregon, Amber Rocco, a 39 year-old white woman, was captured in a video threatening a Black couple on Christmas Eve with a knife while shouting racist slurs at them, all because they parked their car crooked
  92. On Friday, the McMinnville Police Department, after seeing the video and receiving other information,arrested Rocco and charged her with intimidation, unlawful use of a weapon, menacing, and harassment.
  93. In Portland, Oregon, Jermaine Massey, 34, a black man who was staying in a Doubletree hotel and called his mother from the lobby, was told by a white security guard that he was trespassing and escorted out by police.
  94. On Wednesday, Republican Georgia state Sen. Michael Williams, who infamously campaigned for governor using a “deportation bus,” reported to jail after being indicted on charges that include insurance fraud.
  95. On Friday, the North Carolina state elections board dissolved under a court order, two weeks before hearings to consider evidence of possible absentee ballot fraud in the Ninth District’s seat in Congress.
  96. No one has been charged yet in connection with the allegations. The dissolution means the seat could remain empty for weeks or months. Pelosi has said she will not seat republican Mark Harris unless the race is certified.
  97. On Friday, Hollywood Reporter reported Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show, which regularly boasted upward of 40 corporate advertisements per night prior to recent comments, hit a low of 21 ads on Wednesday.
  98. NYT reported the children of Dr. Larry Braunstein, a podiatrist in Queens who was a tenant of Fred Trump,claim their father provided a bone spurs diagnosis for Trump, allowing him to avoid being drafted during Vietnam.
  99. Bloomberg reported Trump took out $340 million of variable rate debt between 2012–2015, meaning the recent Federal Reserve rate hikes have added roughly $5.1 million of debt service, lowering his net worth by 7%.
  100. On Wednesday, WSJ reported acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker lied on his resume and in government documents, saying he was named an Academic All-American while playing football at the University of Iowa.
  101. Whitaker made the false claim in the biography on his former law firm’s website and on a resume sent in 2014 to the chief executive of World Patent Marketing, and in a 2010 application for an Iowa judgeship.
  102. NYT reported on the impact on health from Trump’s rollback of environmental protections. In California, where the Trump regime rolled back an Obama-era ban on pesticides, farm workers are being sickened.
  103. In West Virginia, the regime halted two major water pollution rules on coal mines and power plants. In Texas, an estimated 300 will die prematurely from coal-power burning plants no longer needing to cut emissions.
  104. On Friday, the Trump regime’s EPA proposed major changes in the way the federal government calculates benefits, in human health and safety, of the release of mercury into the air.
  105. The proposal claims federal rules imposed on mercury by the Obama administration are too costly to justify,opening the door for coal mining companies, which have long opposed the rules, to challenge them in court.
  106. On Friday, Trump’s Interior Department, in a new proposal, sought to limit Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests citing an “unprecedented surge” since Trump took office.
  107. The proposal would enable the agency to reject FOIA requests that it considers “unreasonably burdensome” or too large, and to impose limits on requests for individual requesters each month.
  108. On Wednesday, Justice Department attorneys representing Trump asked a federal appeals court to postpone indefinitely all further filings in an appeal related to an emoluments case, citing the government shutdown.
  109. The Justice Department is one of the government agencies lacking appropriations because of the shutdown. The government brief is not due until January 22, but the court agreed to put the case on hold indefinitely.
  110. On Wednesday, the California federal judge in the census question trial rejected the DOJ’s request to postpone, without explanation.
  111. On Thursday, the DC federal judge hearing the challenge to Trump’s asylum rules also rejected the DOJ’s request to postpone, noting there are enough CBP and ICE staffers working to effectively file the asylum claims.
  112. A subpoena for an unnamed, foreign government-owned company in a mystery court case became the first known legal challenge apparently related to Mueller’s investigation to make its way to the Supreme Court.
  113. On Sunday, Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily stayed a contempt citation against the company, as well as an escalating financial penalty imposed by a judge imposed for failing to comply with the subpoena.
  114. On Thursday, McClatchy reported a mobile phone traced to Michael Cohen briefly sent signals ricocheting off cell towers in the Prague area in late summer 2016, in the height of the presidential election.
  115. The Steele dossier asserted that Cohen and one or more Kremlin officials met in Prague to plot ways to limit discovery of the close “liaison” between the Trump campaign and Russia.
  116. Additionally, in late August or early September, electronic eavesdropping by an Eastern European intelligence agency picked up a conversation among Russians, one of whom is heard saying Cohen was in Prague.
  117. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani gave differing answers for whether Trump would give Mueller more written answers, telling Fox News on Sunday, “I announced 10 days ago ‘over my dead body’ and I’m not dead yet.”
  118. Days later, Giuliani told Axios Trump “might agree,” then told NBC News he did not “anticipate” any additional written answers, then told The Daily Beast that negotiations for an in-person interview are “still open.”
  119. On Thursday, Concord Management and Consulting, a Russian firm owned by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, said in a court filing that a “nude selfie” is among the materials collected by Mueller’s team in his ongoing probe.
  120. The filing asks if the nude selfie could “really threaten the national security of the United States?” Concord was indicted for allegedly bankrolling efforts to disrupt the 2016 election.
  121. On Saturday, the Daily News reported Anibal Romero, an attorney representing undocumented immigrants who worked at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, has turned over documents to the New Jersey AG.
  122. Documents include fraudulent green cards and Social Security numbers that club management gave Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz, who were interviewed in the NYT story in Week 108.
  123. Previously, Romero contacted Mueller’s team, for fear contacting former AG Jeff Sessions could backfire on his clients. Mueller’s team said the case was not in their jurisdiction, but referred it to an FBI agent in New Jersey.
  124. On Saturday, TIME reported Victor Boyarkin, who was put on the U.S. sanction list on December 19 as a former Russian intelligence officer, had links to Paul Manafort, then chairman of Trump’s 2016 campaign.
  125. Boyarkin is accused of handling money and negotiations for Russian oligarchs. Boyarkin told TIME this fall that Manafort “owed us a lot of money,” and that “he was offering ways to pay it back.”
  126. Boyarkin said he was approached by Mueller’s team, but did not help. He said he was introduced to Manafort around 2006, when Oleg Deripaska asked both of them to help redraw the map of Eastern Europe.
  127. Manafort may have played a role in Montenegro’s 2016 elections, on behalf of pro-Russian opposition which sought to slow the country’s joining NATO. Deripaska also had business interests there.
  128. The pro-Russia candidate lost. In July 2018, Trump took issue with protecting Montenegro under NATO’s Article 5, calling it “a tiny country with very strong people,” adding “they are very aggressive people.”
  129. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “The Mueller Angry Democrats recently deleted approximately 19,000 Text messages between FBI Agent Lisa Page and her lover, Agent Peter S.” calling them “INVALUABLE to the truth.”
  130. The tweet follows Giuliani saying Friday that Mueller “should be investigated for destruction of evidence” for the texts being erased. The DOJ watchdog found the FBI did not intentionally destroy the messages.
  131. On Friday, House Speaker Pelosi appointed Douglas Letter as the new General Counsel of the House of Representatives. Letter worked for the DOJ for four decades, representing administrations of both parties.
  132. Letter “distinguished” himself as the DOJ’s Director of the Civil Division. He resigned from the DOJ in January 2018, reportedly over Trump’s repeated attacks on the agency.
  133. Conservative publication the Washington Examiner dubbed Letter, “the man who could impeach Trump,” calling him a guiding force in Democrats investigating and potentially impeaching Trump.
  134. Outgoing committee chairs Reps. Trey Gowdy and Robert Goodlatte asked their Senate counterparts to pick up their inquiry into the FBI’s handling of investigations of the Trump campaign and Hillary Clinton’s emails.
  135. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a strong defender and ally of Trump, the incoming chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee when Sen. Grassley agreed to step down early, said he would pick up some of the inquiries.
  136. Trump ally Rep. Goodlatte also issued a press release praising his committees’ accomplishments with the probe, including the firings of “multiple high-ranking Justice Department employees.”
  137. The stock market closed Friday after two week of wild gyrations, during which the S&P posted six moves of more than 1%, three of which were over 2%. The S&P posted just eight 1% moves in all of 2017.
  138. The Dow also rose 1,000 points in one day for the first time on Wednesday. Investment advisors called the movements “disturbing to investors,” noting conditions of “panic and fear.”
  139. On Friday, CNBC reported a member of the Trump regime reached out to at least one investor to ask for advice on stock markets after the plunge on Christmas Eve day and the recent market drubbing.
  140. Reportedly, Trump is determined to boost equities. The investor advised for Trump to end his criticism of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Twitter, stop senior staff turnover, and reach a trade deal with China.
  141. Reuters reported China’s soybean imports from the U.S. plunged to zero in November, marking the first time since Trump’s trade war that China has imported no U.S. supplies. China is importing from Brazil instead.
  142. On Friday, AP reported farmers are at risk of having some federal payments to growers hardest hit by Trump’s trade war with China, put on hold starting next week due to the government shutdown.
  143. The new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is set to go into effect tomorrow, a major 11-country agreement which will reshape trade rules among economic powerhouses including Japan, China, Canada, and Australia.
  144. The Obama administration had recognized the importance of remaining in the deal to counter China’s growing economic influence. In one of his first acts, Trump pulled the U.S. out in January 2017.
  145. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “Just had a long and very good call with President Xi of China,” claiming “deal is moving along very well,” and “big progress being made!”
  146. On Saturday, WAPO reported that instead of pivoting after midterm loses, Trump is instead focused on pleasing his most ardent supporters, in stark contrast to historical behavior of leaders after such losses.
  147. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “I am in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come on over and make a deal on Border Security,” adding “they are spending so much time on Presidential Harassment.”
  148. On Saturday, Trump also tweeted that “Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies” are at fault for the death of the 8 year-old boy this week, not Border Patrol.
  149. Trump also claimed Border Patrol was not at fault for the death of a 7 year-old girl, tweeting “The father of the young girl said it was not their fault,” and adding “Border Patrol needs the Wall and it will all end.”
  150. In Turkey, prosecutors opened a probe into two prominent actors for comments on a television program which were alleged to be insulting to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
  151. WAPO reported a Russian bank gave far-right French candidate Marine Le Pen’s party a 9.4 million-euro loan for the 2017 presidential election, another example of Russia’s influence operation abroad.
  152. Secretary of State Pompeo will head a U.S. delegation to Brazil for the inauguration of far-right incoming president Jair Bolsonaro, who has expressed admiration for Trump as a model of governance.