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Sarah Sanders Press Conference – 2/20/2018

Her first press conference since the shooting —

Asked about the tweet that the FBI would have got the killer if it hadn’t been focusing on “collusion”

Sanders is listing things that Trump is going to do re: mass shooting. Listening session with students, meeting with governors, etc. Sounds like a lot of talk.

Sanders says Trump opposes bump stocks. That is a reg thing, which means no new laws (statutes) coming out of Congress. Trump isn’t going to push for it either, because GOP.

She says “Unfortunately, when horrific tragedies like this happen, everybody wants a quick and a simple answer. But there isn’t one.”

Quick and simple? Sandy Hook was six years ago.  Orlando, last year. Las Vegas, this year. This isn’t a one-off event.

Well, that was a quick presser.

UPDATE:

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The White House said Tuesday there was “an incident” last week which will be revealed in the coming days that will show how President Donald Trump is “tough on Russia.” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made the comment at the daily briefing, but offered no more details. Trump has suggested on Twitter that President Barack Obama’s administration didn’t do enough to counter meddling in the 2016 election, and called himself “much tougher on Russia than Obama.”

I must have missed that. In any event, if we don’t know about it, it probably isn’t that big.

Trump’s Behavior Continues To Offend And Baffle

In the days following the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland Florida, and with Mueller clearly breathing down Trump’s neck, his behavior has been frenzied and offensive.

Here’s how Time described it:

The weekend began with what many considered a victory of the smallest order. The typically chatty President bypassed the reporters to board his waiting helicopter without saying a word about the Mueller indictments. Trump ignored the shouted questions and climbed into the green-and-white helo. (First Lady Melania Trump traveled separately to Andrews Air Force Base, a development her staff attributed to scheduling convenience but which inevitably raised questions about her reaction to the latest reports of the President’s infidelities, including one published hours earlier.)

The presidential silence was short-lived, however.

As soon as Trump was in the air, aboard a Marine helicopter that reaches speeds of 150 miles per hour and has anti-missile systems at the ready, the President unleashed the first of 22 tweets to come between Friday afternoon and Sunday night. “The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!” the initial tweet read, incorrectly stating what the filings actually said — especially for him. It was merely the prelude to what would be many, many tweets that the President would send in obvious frustration with the chaos surrounding him.

***

Even by Trumpian standards, the President’s weekend in Florida was a class apart. In angry, sometimes profane and occasionally misspelled outbursts, the President gave the world a glimpse into what was going through his head at a moment certain to draw scrutiny for generations. It also brought to light what it’s like to work for this Leader of the Free World who is increasingly feeling isolated.

Let’s have a rundown.

First off, Trump was planning to visit his resort at Mar-a-Lago, but it really seems like the Florida high school shooting but a wrench in those plans. How could he go to Florida and play gold at a place only 40 minutes away?  Plus, he had other things on his mind….

Trump is referring of course to the Mueller indictment of 17 Russian people and entities for their social media electioneering and influencing.  That was his best attempt at spin, now that he could no longer claim that the Russia thing was a hoax. Of course, he is right that there was no mention of collusion IN THIS INDICTMENT, as everyone pointed out.

Trump eventually went to a hospital, visited only two patients and stayed about 35 minutes.  Mostly he met with doctors and nurses and first responders.

But the next day, prohibited from playing golf because it would have made him look bad, Trump took to Twitter and got defensive and crazed:


Again, Trump focuses on the “no collusion” aspect, which makes him look silly. (At the end of the day, there may prove to actually be “no collusion” on his part, but you can’t say that definitively NOW).

Trump points out that the Russia group was formed in 2014, before he began to run for President. The problem was that Trump has always toyed with the idea of running for President, since 2000. Also, the goal of the Russia group, as the Mueller indictment points out, wasn’t to elect Trump so much as it was to NOT elect Hillary, and so discord in America. Trump’s entrance into the race was fortuitous.

Then, you have this tweet, from 2014:

and this tweet, also from 2014, by Yulya Alferova—ex-wife of Russian oligarch Artem Klyushin and a member of Trump’s entourage in Moscow in 2013:

Well, that’s awkward.

So much for Trump’s claim that nobody knew he was running back in 2014. Apparently, Russia knew.

Trump also tweeted about Rob Goldman, the ad exec at Facebook, who said that the majority of Russia’s ad spend came after the election, and that the majority of the ads were not intended to sway the elections. Both Trump and Goldman make an obvious error — they are asserting that one could understand the scope of the Russian propaganda campaign just through the ads. Russia’s ads were viewed roughly 11 million times, while posts by Russia-controlled accounts had been viewed 150 million times. Leaving aside pure numbers, anyone who had read the indictment knew that ads were a minute part of the operation. Facebook likes to point out that the Russians only spent a hundred thousand dollars on all their ads, a rather small number in comparison to the $1.25 million that the indictment reveals Russia’s Internet Research Agency was spending monthly on its election influence campaign.

Later that day, Rob Goldman seemed to come to the same understanding, and posted internally at Facebook a message that read as follows: “I wanted to apologize for having tweeted my own view about Russian interference without having it reviewed by anyone internally. The tweets were my own personal view and not Facebook’s. I conveyed my view poorly. The Special Counsel has far more information about what happened [than] I do—so seeming to contradict his statements was a serious mistake on my part.”

But Trump wasn’t done for the day. Next came what I consider to be one of his most offensive tweets to date:

That tweet alone, many thought, was all that was needed to impeach the president. He was using the death of 17 people and making it about him.  The FBI was under scrutiny — it had received a tip about Nikolaus Cruz and failed to follow up, but in all honesty, even if the FBI *had* followed up, there was nothing that they could have done under current law. Also, it goes without saying, that the Florida office of the FBI probably isn’t swamped with Russian “collusion” work. The FBI employs tens of thousands of agents.

Next?

H.R. McMaster is Trump’s National Security Advisor and also a lieutenant general in the U.S. Army. At a conference in Germany, he said that there was “incontrovertible” evidence that Russia had meddled in the U.S. election. McMaster was citing Friday’s federal indictments, stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, that said Russian operatives conducted a sophisticated internet campaign to sow chaos in the American political scene.

Trump’s drivel about Clinton and the DNC being the REAL conspirators is, of course, senseless.

Trump’s tweets continued into the next day.

Embarrassing.

Schiff, by the way, did criticize Obama, and perhaps in hindsight, Obama should have done more. The problem is that by doing so, he would have been accused of swaying the election (by none other than Trump).  Kind of a Catch-22 that Obama was in.

And Trump has denied Russian involvement over and over again.

June 2016: “It was the D.N.C. that did the ‘hacking.’”

September 2016: “I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the D.N.C.”

October 2016: “Maybe there is no hacking.”

December 2016: “I don’t believe they interfered. That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point.”

January 2017: “Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyberinfrastructure of our governmental institutions.”

May 2017: “If Russia did anything having to do with our election, I want to know about it.”

July 2017: “Somebody did say if he did do it, you wouldn’t have found out about it.”

November 2017: “Every time he [Putin] sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’”

Anyway, on and on Trump’s tweets went.

… with Trump trying to revive those days when he was running for President.

And uinto the next day

By the way, there is absolutely zero evidence that companies are coming back into the country AT ALL.  And as for Obama not doing anything about Russian meddling, he did. Obama expelled Russian diplomats, seized their compounds, and signed the Magnitsky Act in Dec 2016. Trump has refused to enforce the 2017 sanctions that Congress enacted after Magnitsky and is doing NOTHING about Russia’s ongoing attack on our democracy.

Which brings us to today

Again, more Obama attacks (by the way, the Parkland Florida high school shootings is still very much in the news, although you wouldn’t know it from Trump’s feed).  First of all, Obama was talking in October 2016, long before the facts had been gathered. It was only two days after the Carter Page FISA warrant, so it is unlikely that the extent of Russian involvement was known.

Trump’s next tweets followed along with what they were talking about on Fox & Friends this morning:

No, Republicans are not leading in the generic polling (although Republicans have made gains, the Generic Congressional Ballot at Real Clear Politics has Dems up by an average of 6.9 points.

[UPDATE: This happened today —

]

The idea that Trump has been tougher on Russia than Obama is ridiculous.

And finally….

That makes it sound a lot like he might have given it a try were it not for those pesky security cameras! Also, one person who might try something like this in the lobby of a building would be the owner of the building itself. Just saying — it was Trump Tower, after all.

And we also know that this is Trump’s modus operandi from the Access Hollywood tape:

You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

Which is pretty much how the woman describes it.

The woman in question is Rachel Crooks, and the incident did not take place in the lobby of Trump Tower.  It was in a hallway.  The story plainly says this.  And Rachel isn’t scared.

Trump tweets are often thought to have diversionary intent, but all he does is jump from one controversy to another.

Another Mueller Indictment

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has charged Dutch lawyer Alex Van Der Zwaan with making false statements to FBI investigators. Van Der Zwaan, who was officially charged on Feb. 16 in a federal court in Washington, has a plea hearing scheduled for Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. EST.

According to the indictment, the false statements came when Mueller’s team probed Van Der Zwaan’s work for the Ukraine Ministry of Justice, and include lying about his interactions with Rick Gates, the Paul Manafort associate and former Trump campaign adviser who was indicted by Mueller last fall.

Van Der Zwaan was charged with lying to investigators about conversations related to a report he helped prepare on the trial of a Ukrainian politician, Yulia Tymoshenko.

The lawyer also reportedly lied about his talks with someone else, named “Person A” in the indictment. 

Prosecutors said Van Der Zwaan also deleted and failed to turn over emails requested by the special counsel and a law firm.

Alex Van der Zwaan is the son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan, an owner of Alfa Group. Khan and his Alfa Bank partners filed a $75K defamation suit against Glen Simpson and Fusion GPS over the firm’s role in producing the Steele dossier.

Here’s the backstory: In the early 2010s, van der Zwaan was working in the London office of Skadden Arps, one of the world’s largest and most powerful corporate law firms. His work seemed to focus on the former Soviet Union.

During this same time period, Manafort and Gates were working for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych — a Kremlin-backed leader with dubious democratic credentials.

Yanukovych was in the midst of a power struggle with another prominent Ukrainian politician, which he decided to solve by jailing her in the fall of 2011. Manafort and Gates’s job was to run cover for this clearly undemocratic prosecution. So they retained a team from Skadden Arps, which included van der Zwaan, to put together a “report” that conveniently concluded that there was no political motive for putting her in jail.

This was a big deal in Ukraine but a relatively obscure issue for most of the rest of the world. Manafort and Gates continued their work for Yanukovych afterward, and van der Zwaan moved on to other things — most notably marrying Eva Khan, the daughter of Ukrainian-Russian billionaire German Khan, in the summer of 2017. (One of Khan’s companies is, somewhat curiously, mentioned in the infamous Steele dossier.)

But the Mueller investigation would soon deliver van der Zwaan an unhappy honeymoon. In the process of looking into Manafort and Gates’s ties to the Kremlin, Mueller’s team started investigating the Skadden Arps report. According to the indictment, FBI agents personally questioned van der Zwaan in November 2017 about his communications with Gates and an unidentified Person A (which seems likely to be Manafort, though that’s not 100 percent clear).

Van der Zwaan told them that his last communication with Gates was in August 2016 and was an “innocuous text message,” and that he hadn’t spoken to Person A since 2014. This, according to the indictment, is a lie — van der Zwaan was actually secretly communicating with Gates and Person A about the Skadden report.

“In or about September 2016, he spoke with both Gates and Person A regarding the Report, and surreptitiously recorded the call,” the indictment says.

The indictment also alleges that van der Zwaan deleted an email between himself and Person A sent around the same time as those conversations — and told the FBI that he “did not know” where the email was.

This clearly relates to Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who finds himself in very hot water. Federal law enforcement officials have identified more than $40 million in “suspicious” financial transactions to and from companies controlled by Manafort — a much larger sum than was cited in his October indictment on money laundering charges.

The vast web of transactions was unraveled mainly in 2014 and 2015 during an FBI operation to fight international kleptocracy that ultimately fizzled. The story of that failed effort — and its resurrection by special counsel Robert Mueller as he investigated whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to interfere with the 2016 election — has never been fully told.

But it explains how the special counsel was able to swiftly bring charges against Manafort for complex financial crimes dating as far back as 2008 — and it shows that Mueller could still wield immense leverage as he seeks to compel Manafort to cooperate in the ongoing investigation.

Last week, Mueller’s team told a judge that it had evidence Manafort committed bank fraud, and news organizations have reported that the special counsel may be preparing additional charges.

The atty who was charged by Mueller today, Alex Van Der Zwaan, was 1 of 8 Skadden Arps attorneys involved in writing a report commissioned by manafort that whitewashed Yanukovych’s record, according to Ukrainian prosecutors.

I can’t emphasize how unusual and shocking it is that an attorney for a prestigious, international law firm was charged by Mueller for lying about his work at the firm.  Lawyers — particularly lawyers at a top law firm — should know better than to lie to the FBI. His conduct as described in the charging document suggests he had something to hide. As others have reported, his father-in-law is a Russian oligarch. This charge sends a message to every potential witness in the Mueller investigation—you will be charged if you lie to the FBI. It raises the stakes for “minor” witnesses, suggesting that Mueller will charge any probable violation related to obstructing his investigation.

The Kids Are Alright

Wednesday, February 14, Valentines Day, 2018. Nikolaus Cruz, a troubled possible deranged right-wing gun nut, walks into Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida and opens up with his AR-15.  Seventeen people, mostly students, are dead.

It could have been like the Las Vegas mass shooting.  It could have been like Sandy Hook.  And by that I mean, it could have been a three or four day story.

But something happened. This one feels different.  Maybe it is because, unlike Las Vegas, they are gathered in the same community.  Maybe it is because, unlike Sandy Hook, the victims and their friends are old enough to speak out eloquently. But for whatever reason, the high school students of Parkland are not letting this one go.

In the days that followed the tragedy, the students have only grown louder. A group of five students appeared on several national news programs together on Sunday. One published an op-ed on CNN’s website. And on Sunday, the five student leaders announced they would be organizing a national March for Our Lives on March 24.

There is Emma Gonzalez.  Little did she know last week that her face and eulogy speech would be replayed all over the country, and that she would appear on, of all things, Meet The Press, to express her outrage and Trump, Rubio and the Republican governor of Florida.


In her speech, Gonzalez told people to vote out of office politicians who are funded by the National Rifle Association (NRA). According to the New York Times, one video of Gonzalez’s speech was viewed more than 100,000 times in just a few hours.

There is Jaclyn Corin. On Meet the Press, Corin said that before last week, she never imagined she would become a political activist.

After Wednesday, however, the high school junior has become a student leader and is starting by organizing a trip to Tallahassee, Florida’s capital, with roughly 100 other students to speak with members of the state Senate, House of Representatives, and potentially Gov. Rick Scott (R).

The group will travel more than 450 miles to talk to 10 state senators and representatives from both parties Wednesday.

David Hogg was one of the first students to appear on national news after the shooting. In a clip that quickly circulated across the internet, the 17-year-old senior looked directly into CNN’s camera and pleaded with lawmakers to do something.

“We’re children,” he said. “You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role. Work together. Come over your politics and get something done.”

He has also said that he will not feel safe going back to school until lawmakers take action.

“What I’m looking for is reasonable change with the United States Congress and bills that are passed before I get back to school,” he said on Meet the Press. “This is not the time for inaction and debate.”

Hogg ended the segment by telling Trump that “blood is on your hands.”

And there are others:

Incredibly, there is a right wing backlash against these kids. David Hogg is now being targeted by Gateway Pundit, a far-right blog that has press credentials from the Trump White House. A post published on Monday by the site’s White House correspondent, Lucian Wintrich, features Hogg’s photo with the word “EXPOSED” stamped in red.

Wintrich says Hogg and other students throw up some “red flags.” The first “red flag” is that Hogg’s father is a retired FBI agent. (Hogg freely admitted this on national television.) The insinuation is that Hogg’s father, who does not even work for the FBI, has tasked his son with talking about gun control to take the heat off the agency.

Wintrich also uses an edited YouTube video of Hogg having some difficulty answering questions for a taped interview as evidence that Hogg is “heavily coached on lines and is merely reciting a script.” There is no evidence, in the video or elsewhere in the article, supporting this claim.

Wintrich then drops all pretenses and fully embraces the conspiracy:

Why would the child of an FBI agent be used as a pawn for anti-Trump rhetoric and anti-gun legislation? Because the FBI is only looking to curb YOUR Constitutional rights and INCREASE their power. We’ve seen similar moves by them many times over. This is just another disgusting example of it.

The Gateway Pundit story is spreading quickly on Facebook and has already been picked up by One American News Network, another right-wing outlet with White House media credentials.

Another Gateway Pundit story, authored by Kristinn Taylor, attacks Hogg and fellow students Delaney Tarr, Cameron Kasky and Emma González. The entire article attacks these students for smiling in a photo. 

The article is entitled “Student School Massacre Survivors and CBS Reporter Party Like Rock Stars.” But there is no evidence of any partying. Rather, at one point, the group, which was being interviewed for CBS’ morning show, smiled for a photo.

Donald Trump Jr. embraced the attacks, liking one of the tweets about Hogg.

The notion that Hogg is an FBI plant is insane, and easily refuted.  But it shows that the right is actually scared of these kids. They actually might make a difference this time.

Because God knows the adults aren’t doing anything.

Even former Congressman Jack Kingston joined in, and was rebuffed.

Recommended reading: Here’s What It’s Like At The Headquarters Of The Teens Working To Stop Mass Shootings

The truth is, Hogg is eloquent. And people stupider than him — gun owners — can’t handle it.

Update: David Hogg condemned the attacks in a statement to Buzzfeed:

“I just think it’s a testament to the sick immaturity and broken state of our government when these people feel the need to pedal conspiracy theories about people that were in a school shooting where 17 people died and it just makes me sick … It’s immature, rude, and inhuman for these people to destroy the people trying to prevent the death of the future of America because they won’t.”

EPILOGUE:

Weekly List 66

For the first time in quite a while, this week Trump had no control over the narrative. What was supposed to be his Infrastructure Week, was quickly supplanted by the Rob Porter scandal, which carried over from Week 65 and escalated, highlighting the Trump White House dysfunction. Another mass shooting shook the country and left Trump and his regime flat-footed ahead of bombshell indictments unsealed by Mueller against Russians on Friday.

The indictments highlight what heads of US intelligence unanimously agreed to in Senate hearings, and what H.R. McMaster called “incontrovertible” — that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s continued denial of Russian meddling leaves him in an isolated and untenable position, as the country awaits his response to Russia.

Of note, this week there was push-back from inspector generals, watchdog groups, and the judicial branch against the regime’s kleptocracy and corruption — some of the first signs of accountability.

  1. NBC News reported Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand resigned due to her frustration that key positions in her jurisdiction were unfilled, and her concern that Rod Rosenstein’s job was in danger and she would assume oversight of the Russia probe.
  2. On Sunday, Kellyanne Conway, Mick Mulvaney, and Marc Short appeared on Sunday shows to defend the White House’s handling of the Rob Porter abuse allegations. Mulvaney’s timeline on “Face the Nation” was different than John Kelly’s version.
  3. When asked if Hope Hicks was in danger dating Porter, Conway said “I’ve rarely met somebody so strongwith such excellent instincts and loyalty and smarts.” Porter’s first ex-wife, Colbie Holderness, responded in an op-ed about domestic abuse.
  4. On Tuesday, Politico reported in the hours after Daily Mail broke the story about Porter’s abuse, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders hastily arranged an off-the-record meeting between Porter and four reporters to tell his side of the story.
  5. On Sunday, WAPO reported under Trump ICE arrests have surged by 40%. The biggest jump has been arrests of immigrants with no criminal convictions: 37,734 arrests in fiscal 2017, more than doubling 2016’s arrests.
  6. Street-level ICE officers and field directors have greater latitude to determine whom they arrest and under what conditions. Trump officials call it taking “the shackles off,” and happily report morale is up at ICE.
  7. Houston Chronicle reported Carlos Gudiel Andres, husband and father of five, was arrested early morning while packing his tools for work, the latest case of ICE targeting predominantly Hispanic apartment complexes.
  8. Community members held a rally in CT for Zhe Long Huang and Xiang Jin Li, known as “Kris and Tony,”who face deportation to China. The couple, who own a local nail salon, fear being separated from their two sons.
  9. In Kansas, ICE handcuffed a chemistry professor, Syed A. Jamal, who has been in the US for 30 years, as he was leaving to drive his daughter to school. Jamal, who coached kids in science and sports, awaits deportation.
  10. In Phoenix, ICE was set to deport Jesus Armando Berrones-Balderas, a father of five who has lived in the US since he was one and has a son battling cancer. After media coverage, ICE granted him a one-year stay.
  11. Toronto Star reported US Border Patrol is boarding buses and trains within 100 miles of Canada and asking passengers if they are citizens. A 1953 law gives the patrol the right to do this within 100 miles of our borders.
  12. On Tuesday, BuzzFeed reported Raphael Sanchez, while chief counsel for ICE in Seattle, stole the identities of multiple immigrants while their immigration cases were under review.
  13. Sanchez pleaded guilty to using the immigrants’ information to open up credit cards and loans in their names, taking payments of more than $190,000 from the false accounts. He resigned from the agency.
  14. Reuters reported the Trump regime is considering closing more than 20 US resettlement offices, and cutting back operations at more than 40 others as part of the State Department’s plan to reduce the number of refugees allowed in.
  15. On Tuesday, a second judge, US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn, ruled DACA could not end in March, saying the regime could eventually rescind DACA, but the reasons given in September were too arbitrary to stand.
  16. Vox analyzed the hiring records for three Trump properties in New York and Florida and found only one out of 144 jobs went to a US worker from 2016 to the end of 2017. The rest were foreign workers under H-2B visas.
  17. Jocelyn Morfii, an elementary school teacher at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School in Miami for seven years, was fired after marrying a woman. The principal said it was “difficult and necessary decision.”
  18. USA Today reported that 92% of Trump’s federal judge nominees are white. Of the 87 picks so far, just one is African American, one is Hispanic, and five are Asian American.
  19. Boston Globe reported Charles Johnson, a 29 year-old who questions if six million Jews died in the Holocaust, argues black people are “dumber” than white people, and is part of white supremacist circles, has found mainstream acceptance working for a pro-Trump super PAC in DC.
  20. On Sunday, Rick Blood, the GOP deputy mayor of Mendham, ex-Gov. Chris Christie’s hometown, published a Facebook post comparing immigrants to raccoons in the basement, and lauded Trump as the exterminator.
  21. Blood deleted the post, which was a version of a post circulating on conservative blogs since early 2016. On Monday he faced Mendham residents, and then, after a township committee meeting, resigned.
  22. On Monday, Brandon Defrain, GOP chair in Bay County, Michigan resigned his post and from the party. In a Facebook post he said “I can no longer remain silent” about Trump, citing racism, hatred, and violation of civil rights.
  23. Lissa Luca, a Democratic candidate in West Virginia’s House of Delegates, was forcibly escorted out after using a public hearing on the House floor to list the donations GOP lawmakers had received from the oil and gas industry.
  24. On Monday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, led by acting director Mulvaney, dropped its lawsuit against Golden Valley Lending, a payday lender that allegedly charged people interest rates of up to 950 percent.
  25. On Monday, is a speech to the National Sheriffs Association, Sessions broke from his prepared written remarks—“The sheriff is a critical part of our legal heritage” — to instead invoke the “Anglo-American heritage.”
  26. On Thursday, the US appeals court in Virginia said Trump’s Muslim Ban was probably unconstitutional, putting it on hold pending Supreme Court review. Trump’s comments and tweets were reviewed in the case.
  27. On Thursday, the House voted to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act, to require written notice of violations, and giving businesses 60 days to come up with a plan and an additional 60 days to take action.
  28. On Thursday, Planned Parenthood and eight other groups sued Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services, saying the agency unlawfully canceled their five-year grants for teen pregnancy prevention midstream and with no explanation
  29. Heath Hall, the Federal Railroad Administration’s acting chief since June, resigned following another deadly Amtrak crashPolitico reported Hall was simultaneously working as a public relations consultant in Mississippi.
  30. Trump’s pick to run the Census Bureau, Thomas Brunell, a deeply partisan professor with no government experience who had defended racial gerrymandering and voter suppression, withdrew from consideration.
  31. According to data obtained by McClatchy, the State Department is promoting 50% fewer people into the first levels of senior Foreign Service positions, creating a crisis for the future diplomatic corps and a leadership vacuum.
  32. The Trump regime has also proposed another steep cut in the diplomatic budget of more than 25%, raising concerns the regime is intentionally undercutting the department’s work and US influence in the world.
  33. According to WAPO in partnership with Partnership for Public Service, after 13 months in office, Trump has yet to put forth a nominee for 1 in 3 key roles in the executive branch: 225 of 636 positions have no nominee.
  34. On Sunday, Politico reported Rep. Devin Nunes created his own alternative news site. The website, “The California Republican,” is paid for by Nunes’ campaign committee, and is classified on Facebook as a “media/news company.”
  35. On Sunday, WAPO reported based on information obtained under the FOIA, unlike his predecessors,Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt travels first-class and on military jets, and stays at very high-end hotels, costing taxpayers tens of thousands.
  36. Pruitt also tends to bring a larger entourage of political advisers on his trips than past administrators, andrarely discloses his schedule in advance citing “security concerns” and that it could be a “distraction.”
  37. NYT reported that a $225,000 donation resulted in special treatment for Fitzgerald trucks, as Pruitt helpedthe company secure a pollution loophole that Obama tried to close, and the Trump regime is championing.
  38. A federal court ruled Trump’s Department of Energy must implement four Obama-era energy efficiency regulations, which have been delayed for more than a year, saying failure is “a violation of the department’s duties.”
  39. The Veterans Affairs inspector general found Secretary David Shulkin’s chief of staff doctored an email and made false statements to justify having taxpayers cover expenses for his wife on a 10-day trip to Europe.
  40. The inspector general also found Shulkin improperly accepted tickets to Wimbledon worth thousands of dollars and other gifts, and directed an aide to act as a “personal travel concierge” to him and his wife.
  41. On Thursday, Shulkin refused to resign, instead saying his chief of staff’s email account had been hacked: “We’ve seen that somebody is impersonating her, and we have to fully investigate that.”
  42. NYT reported the FCC inspector general opened an investigation by the end of 2017 into whether commissioner Ajit Pai and his aides improperly pushed for rule changes which benefitted Sinclair Broadcasting.
  43. AT&T will seek testimony from the Department of Justice’s antitrust chief, in exploring whether Trump influenced the department’s decision to block the company’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner to retaliate at CNN.
  44. WAPO tabulated that in Trump’s first 13 months in office, more than 40% (9 out of 22) of the people he originally picked for Cabinet-level jobs have faced ethical or other controversies.
  45. On Thursday, the Trump regime agreed to settle a pending lawsuit by nonprofit group Public Citizen filed last August, and will post visitor logs for some White House offices, including Office of Management and Budget and the drug czar’s office.
  46. On Sunday, the day before the White House released its 2019 budget, Mulvaney told “Fox News Sunday” that the US will post a larger budget deficit this year and could see a “spike” in interest rates as a result.
  47. On Monday, Trump unveiled his $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan which his aides told Axios is not expected to pass, and his $4 trillion budget which his aides said reads like “science fiction.”
  48. The aides told Axios Trump’s real focus in 2018 is “looking for opportunities to stir up the base” — “unexpected cultural flashpoints” like the NFL and kneeling that Trump can latch onto in person and on Twitter.
  49. As part of the infrastructure plan, Trump would give Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke the unilateral power to approve construction of pipelines through national parks. Currently, construction requires an act of Congress.
  50. Also as part of the infrastructure plan, the Trump regime wants to sell off or privatize a broad array of government assets, including the Reagan National Airport and the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
  51. As part of the budget, the Trump regime wants to shake-up the SNAP program (food stamps). Under the regime’s proposal, recipients would get half their benefits in a “USDA Foods package” determined by the regime.
  52. The package includes “shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit and vegetables,” but not fresh produce. The regime says it will save $129 million over 10 years with these limitations.
  53. Trump’s budget also proposed ending federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides some funds to PBS and NPR. PBS CEO Paula Kerger said this would result in closing some local PBS stations.
  54. On Wednesday, Mulvaney told a congressional panel Trump’s military parade could cost up to $30 million, but it is not included in the budget because it came up late.
  55. On Tuesday, in Senate testimony, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said the nation’s debt, likely to escalate with the Republican’s $1.5 trillion tax cut and other fiscal measures, “represents a dire threat to our economic and national security.”
  56. AP reported the amount of money spent lobbying by corporations, trade associations, and special interest groups spiked in the final months of 2017, in the battle for tax breaks in the Republican tax bill.
  57. The GOP tax bill was mostly written in private. Watchdog group Public Citizens reported more than 4,600 lobbyists were engaged specifically on the tax rewrite, an average of 13 lobbyists for every member of Congress.
  58. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “4.2 million hard working Americans have already received a large Bonus and/or Pay Increase.” This is false. A survey found less than 2% of America benefited from the GOP tax law.
  59. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania announced a directive for counties replacing electronic voting systems to buy machines with a paper backup, citing hackers scanned voter registration databases in the 2016 election.
  60. Foreign Policy reported BuzzFeed has hired Anthony Ferrante, who works for FTI Consulting and is a former FBI and National Security Council cybersecurity expert, to lead a team in verifying the Steele dossier.
  61. BuzzFeed is being sued for libel by Russian technology executive Aleksej Gubarev who claims the website was reckless in publishing the dossier. A source said of BuzzFeed’s strategy: “If it’s fact, it’s not libel, that’s the idea.”
  62. On Monday, Russia news agency Tass was again the first to report a telephone conversation between Trump and Putin. According to Tass, the content discussed had to do with diplomacy in the Middle East.
  63. On Monday, Putin hosted Palestinian President Abbas in Moscow and reportedly told him Trump coveys“his best wishes.” Reuters reported Abbas told Putin he wants the US peace role diluted.
  64. On Monday, CNN reported Sens. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham sent a letter to former National Security Adviser Susan Rice asking why she sent an email to herself the day of Trump’s inauguration about an Oval Office meeting on Russian interference.
  65. The email details a January 5 meeting attended by Rice, Obama, James Comey, Sally Yates, and Joe Biden. Obama stressed he wanted every aspect handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities “by the book.”
  66. In January, Comey, James Clapper, John Brennan, and Mike Rogers released a public report saying Russia meddled in the election to help Trump win. Obama was also briefed on conversations between Michael Flynn and Sergey Kislyak.
  67. The email states: “Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.” The email was sent at 12:15 p.m., just minutes before Obama left office.
  68. On Tuesday, leaders of the US intelligence agencies testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. DNI Coats warned, “There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 US midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.”
  69. Leaders laid out the challenges which include the flow of Russian misinformation and shoring up defenses of electoral systems. Almost every state is taking steps to protect voter databases and election equipment.
  70. Coats said, “We need to inform the American public that this is real,” adding, “there needs to be a national cry for that.” Trump continues to deny that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, calling it “a hoax.”
  71. Sen. Jack Reed asked the leaders if Trump has directed them to take “specific actions to confront and to blunt” Russian interference activities. All are taking some actions, but none have been specifically directed by Trump.
  72. On Wednesday, WAPO reported at the behest of Trump in April, Don McGahn called Dana Boente at DOJ and tried to get him to persuade Comey to publicly state Trump was not personally under investigation in the Russia probe.
  73. McGahn’s office has also reportedly prepared a detailed reconstruction of the 18 days between the time of Yates’s warning and Flynn’s firing, and turned the document over to Mueller for his review.
  74. On Thursday, CNN reported Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with Mueller, indicating he will become the third regime member to cooperate in the investigation. The plea negotiations had been ongoing for about a month.
  75. Gates has already had a “Queen for a Day” interview, in which he can answer any questions about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed, and not have it used against him if he cooperates.
  76. On Friday, as part of the wrangling over Paul Manafort’s bail, Mueller’s team told a federal judge they have found evidence of “additional criminal conduct” by Manafort not addressed in their indictment last October.
  77. Mueller’s filing shows Manafort obtained a mortgage using “doctored profit and loss statements” which overstated his consulting company’s income “by millions of dollars.” There are also references to “conspiracies,” suggesting that someone beyond Manafort was involved in the fraud.
  78. NBC News released, in a public database, more than 200,000 malicious activity tweets created by Russian-linked accounts during the 2016 presidential race, which were deleted by Twitter.
  79. Russia threatened to block YouTube and Instagram if they did not remove content posted by opposition leader Aleksei Navalny of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and deputy prime minister Sergei Prikhodko on Deripaska’s yacht.
  80. On Thursday, Steve Bannon told the House Intelligence Committee he has been instructed by the White House to invoke executive privilege on behalf of Trump, saying he could only answer 25 pre-approved questions on the Russia investigation.
  81. Rep. Adam Schiff said Bannon’s claim of executive privilege is “breathtaking and insupportable.” He added Democrats will push for initiating contempt charges against Bannon, but it is unclear if Republicans will go along.
  82. On Thursday, NBC News reported Bannon spent 20 hours with Mueller’s team at multiple meetings over the past week as part of the investigation of Russian interference and other issues that have arisen in the probe.
  83. Daily Beast reported Mark Corallo, former legal spokesperson for Trump, was interviewed this week by Mueller. In Week 64, Corallo was said to be planning to share information relating to obstruction of justice.
  84. FBI director Christopher Wray contradicted the White House timeline on Porter. Wray said the FBI submitted a partial report to the White House in March, completed it in late July, and followed up in November with additional information requested by the White House, before closing the file in January.
  85. Later Tuesday, the White House again changed its story on Porter: Sanders said the White House Office of Personnel Security didn’t consider the investigation complete until November, and it had not made a final determination thereafter.
  86. On Tuesday, at the Senate hearings, Coats said officials with an interim clearance should have limited access to sensitive information. He called the security clearance process in Trump’s White House “broken.”
  87. On Tuesday, Rep. Trey Gowdy announced the House Oversight Committee has opened an investigation into Trump’s employment of Porter, and what White House officials knew about domestic abuse accusations against him.
  88. On Tuesday, WAPO reported many White House staffers feel misled and blame chief of staff John Kelly. One White House official called Kelly “a big fat liar,” and added, “his handling of the Porter scandal amounts to dereliction of duty.”
  89. There is also infighting as press secretary Sanders and her deputy Raj Shah echoed Vice President Pence saying the White House could have been handled this better, while Kelly disagrees, telling the WSJ Monday, “It was all done right.”
  90. WAPO’s Philip Rucker, a reporter on the story, told MSNBC they tried to get a subordinate of Kelly to go on the record and say something positive about him for balance, but were unable to find one.
  91. On Wednesday, Politico reported nine days into the Porter scandal, press secretary Sanders is pushing for senior officials who made the decisions around Porter’s security clearance to speak to the press directly.
  92. On Wednesday, NBC News reported more than 130 appointees working in Trump’s Executive Office did not have permanent security clearances as of November 2017, including Ivanka, Kushner, Dan Scavino, and McGahn.
  93. On Trump’s National Security Council, 10 of 24 officials had only interim security clearances as of November, including Dina Powell (who has resigned), Fiona Hill, Kevin Harrington, John Rader, and Joshua Steinman.
  94. On Wednesday, National Economic Council official George David Banks who served since February 2017became the third White House official to resign after being told he would not receive permanent security clearance.
  95. NBC News reported that in addition to the basic questionnaire to gain security clearance, some members of the Trump regime were required to answer supplemental questions asking if they are vulnerable to blackmail.
  96. On Friday, WAPO reported, amid fallout from the Porter scandal, Kelly announced an overhaul of the White House security clearance process which places the onus on the FBI and DOJ to hand-deliver updates and information.
  97. The five-page document begins, “We should — and in the future, must — do better,” is addressed to McGahn and McMaster, with Sessions and Wray copied, and gives 48 hours to report derogatory information to the White House.
  98. Also Friday, Kelly announced starting next week, the White House will no longer allow some employees with interim security clearances access to top-secret information, which could impact Kushner in his role as senior adviser.
  99. Kushner may not be able to maintain his extensive portfolio, which necessitate classified briefings. Kushner has also attended meetings where classified info was discussed, and had access to the President’s Daily Brief.
  100. Bloomberg reported the IRS and DOJ have issued subpoenas for documents from lenders and investors in real estate projects managed by Kushner’s family in New York and New Jersey within the past year.
  101. Talking Points Memo reported that Kushner quietly filed an addendum to his personal financial disclosure on January 3, 2018, adding a number of additional business interests which were previously undisclosed.
  102. According to a recent update by Ivanka, Kushner has taken out millions more in loans, signaling liquidity issues. The couple is battling a lawsuit accusing them of illegally omitting information on 32 other companies.
  103. TPM asked Kushner’s lawyer about public documents of other undisclosed business interests. The lawyer said Kushner “has provided complete information” on his financial disclosure, but there may be further updates.
  104. On Friday, Reed Cordish, a senior Trump adviser on government-to-government and technology initiatives, and close friend of Kushner and Ivanka, resigned.
  105. On Tuesday, Michael Cohen told the NYT he paid $130,000 of hush money to Stephanie Clifford out of his own pocket, saying neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction.
  106. On Wednesday, NYT reported Cohen’s payment has raised potential legal questions ranging from breach of contract to ethics violations. Cohen has also been vague on whether he was reimbursed for his payment.
  107. On Thursday, tax documents released by Trump’s Inaugural Committee show the committee spent nearly all of the $107 million it raised. The majority of the funds, $57 million, went to four event-planning companies.
  108. The largest payment of $25.8 million went to WIS Media Partners, an event-production company formed 45 days before the inauguration, led by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a friend and now unpaid adviser to Melania.
  109. On Friday, Ronan Farrow reported on Trump’s nine month affair with Playboy model Karen McDougal starting in 2006, which she memorialized in an eight-page handwritten document provided to The New Yorker.
  110. McDougal was paid $150,000 by American Media, Inc. (AMI), publisher of the National Enquirer, on November 4, 2016 for exclusive rights to her story. David Pecker who owns AMI is a friend of Trump, and never ran her story.
  111. Six former employees of AMI said Pecker routinely made arrangements with women called “catch-and-kill” — paying for stories that would never run. One employee said Pecker used the unpublished stories as leverage.
  112. On Friday, First Lady Melania Trump broke with the tradition of walking as a couple across the South Lawn to Marine One amid the new allegations of Trump’s marital affairs.
  113. On Wednesday, 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. This marks the third mass shooting in the last five months: at a school, church, and concert, done with a AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
  114. On Thursday, Trump tweeted blaming the shooting on mental illness and later called for mental health action. In February 2017, Trump signed a GOP bill revoking Obama-era gun checks for people with mental illness.
  115. Trump’s budget proposed a $25 million reduction in funds designated for national school safety activities, and the elimination of a $400 million grant program used to prevent bullying and for mental health assistance.
  116. Wired reported that in the aftermath of the shooting, pro-gun Russian bots flooded Twitter. The top hashtags the bots were active in within 24 hours of the shooting included #Parkland, #guncontrol, and #guncontrolnow.
  117. On Thursday, Politico reported the White House is feeling rudderless as this week Trump hung back behind staff rather than take decisive action in the face of the Porter scandal and then the Parkland school shooting.
  118. On Friday, Mueller’s office unveiled criminal indictments against 13 Russian nationals and three foreign entities, which revealed a sophisticated network of interference in the 2016 presidential election.
  119. The 37-page indictment includes conspiracy to defraud the US and aggravated identity theft, and reveals how the campaign also relied on extensive intelligence work by Russian operatives on US soil.
  120. Two operatives, Aleksandra Krylova and Anna Bogacheva, traveled as tourists through at least nine states in June 2014 to gather intelligence used to evaluate political targets on social media before the campaigns got into full swing.
  121. Russians stole the identities of American citizens and posed as political activists. They also set up US bank accounts and used computer servers located in the US.
  122. Charges say the operation was primarily meant to communicate derogatory information about Clinton, to denigrate Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and Trump. There was also a push to back Jill Stein.
  123. Political ads sought to chip away Black Americans’ support for Hillary and to lower Muslim American turnout. Operatives also pushed social media hashtags like #Hillary4Prison and #TrumpTrain.
  124. One of the three entities indicted was Internet Research Agency, whose operations targeted US social media and which employed hundreds of people, and at one point had a monthly budget of over $1.25 million.
  125. Starting in June 2016 when Trump had clinched the GOP nomination, the operatives began to organize and coordinate pro-Trump political rallies. In August, the operatives focused on Florida which Trump narrowly won.
  126. NYT reported the Federal Election Commission had also launched its own investigation into Internet Research Agency last year, on whether it may have violated the FEC Act of 1971 with the purchase of Facebook ads.
  127. In September 2017, as social media companies started disclosing Russia’s presence, one defendant,Viktorovna Kaverzina, emailed her family: “We had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity (not a joke).
  128. Mueller’s team also unsealed an indictment against 28-year-old Richard Pinedo, a California computer science major whose company opened bank accounts and sold them to shadowy purchasers for cash.
  129. Pinedo pleaded guilty to identity fraud, and has been cooperating with Mueller’s team. He also wrote a plea supporting the indictment of Russian nationals. His lawyer said Pinedo sold accounts to Russians unwittingly.
  130. After the indictments were released, Rosenstein held a press conference. Of note, he stood alone without Mueller or anyone from Mueller’s team. He said the defendants conducted information warfare against the US.
  131. Rosenstein said he and Wray had briefed Trump on the indictments Friday morning. Experts noted the time frame between informing Trump and the public was unusually short.
  132. Rosenstein noted the defendants “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign,” and added, “there’s no allegation in this indictment” (emphasis added) of knowing collusion.
  133. The DOJ said Mueller’s work is not complete. The charges did not address the hacking of Democratic email systems or whether Trump tried to obstruct the FBI investigation into Russian interference.
  134. None of the defendants were arrested, and it is highly unlikely Russia will extradite its citizens to the US. Experts speculated the level of detail given this may indicate Mueller is perhaps deterring Russia from further action, and it may also elicit relevant documents from businesses and banks.
  135. On Friday, the White House issued a statement saying the indictments show “there was NO COLLUSIONbetween the Trump campaign and Russia and that the outcome of the election was not changed or affected.”
  136. On Friday, Trump suggested he was vindicated, tweeting Russia started their operation in 2014, “long before I announced that I would run,” adding “the Trump campaign did nothing wrong — no collusion!
  137. Trump made no mention of a foreign power disrupting our election or acknowledging it occurred, nor did he announce any steps to address it. He was conspicuously silent on all these points again on Saturday.
  138. On Saturday, at the 2018 Munich Security Conference, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov called the indictments “just blabber.” Lavrov also noted that Vice President Pence had raised questions about the investigation.
  139. Shortly after Lavrov spoke, McMaster told the audience that evidence of Russia interference in the 2016 presidential election is “now really incontrovertible.
  140. Former US ambassador Kislyak told the audience the indictments were “some kind of hunting spreethroughout the world on Russian computer wizards,” adding they have “spoiled the trust” between the two countries.

Grand Jury In Mueller Probe Hands Down Indictment Against 13 Russian Nationals And Three Russian Entities

13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities are accused of violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes.

“The indictment charges all of the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft,” Mueller says.

The indictment says the conspiracy involved Russian nationals traveling to the US under false pretenses to conduct research as early as June 2014

My quick takes:

(1) Mueller’s team knows SO MUCH MORE than what we (including the media know)

(2) Contra everything Trump has said, the Russian involvement was NO HOAX.  It confirms that that there was a Russian troll farm attempting to sway the 2016 election in favor of Trump and against Hillary, and that the Russians planned this as far back as 2014. Russians used fake persona, Paypal accounts, and on-the-ground “Americans” to spread memes, hold fake rallies, etc. They set up VPNs to hide their tracks.

(3) Pennsylvania, Florida, and North Carolina(!) were the swing states targeted by Russia

(4) No allegations about Russian hacking, which makes sense (that would be a completely different operation)

(5) VERY lightly hints that the Trump campaign did not collude, but may have been unwittingly duped by Russians — prepare yourself for this possibility

Some paragraphs of note —

This one, we knew:

Hmmmm….

Some of the Russia political ads on social media include:

The Pinedo plea (below) might have something to do with Count 2 of the indictment

Wait…. something’s missing.  Oh, right….

Details Of Another Trump Affair Shows How Trump Attempts To Keep His Transgressions Secret

A report out from the New Yorker Friday morning about President Donald Trump’s alleged affair with model Karen McDougal more than a decade ago shows how Trump’s allies paid women who had affairs with him to stay silent.

Trump and McDougal began an affair in 2006 after he met her at a party at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, where he taped an episode of “The Apprentice,” according to notes about their relationship the New Yorker obtained from McDougal.

McDougal’s account of her affair with Trump is strikingly similar to reports about Trump’s affair with porn star Stephanie Clifford, who uses the screen name Stormy Daniels.

According to McDougal’s and Clifford’s accounts, Trump pursued both women while married to Melania Trump, and both women met up with him in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel. (Former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos alleged in 2016 that Trump inappropriately kissed and groped her at the same hotel years earlier.)

His allies also arranged payments to both McDougal and Clifford in exchange for their silence, according to reports, and the same lawyer — Keith Davidson — represented both women.

The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Trump’s longtime attorney Michael Cohen paid Clifford $130,000 as part of an agreement for her to keep quiet about her relationship with Trump. Cohen on Wednesday confirmed that he made a payment in that amount to Clifford, though he would not say why.

According to the New Yorker’s report, American Media, Inc. (AMI), the company that owns the Trump-friendly National Enquirer, purchased the rights to McDougal’s story — for $150,000, as the Wall Street Journal reported in November 2016 — but has yet to run her account.

McDougal told the New Yorker that Davidson represented her when she sold the rights to her story to AMI, and said he encouraged her to sign the deal. McDougal said that she now regrets signing the contract, in which AMI promised to feature her on two covers and publish regular columns by McDougal about fitness.

“It took my rights away,” she told the New Yorker. “At this point I feel I can’t talk about anything without getting into trouble, because I don’t know what I’m allowed to talk about. I’m afraid to even mention his name.”

McDougal said that she did not fully understand the contract when she signed it. According to emails obtained by the New Yorker, Davidson pushed her to sign the deal to get things “wrapped up.” She also told the New Yorker that AMI has not upheld its commitment to publish her columns regularly, though AMI contended that McDougal did not submit the promised columns.

Trump has denied that he had an affair with either woman. A White House official in January told the Wall Street Journal that allegations of an affair between Trump and Clifford were “old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election.” Cohen in January also said that Trump “vehemently” denied having a sexual relationship with Clifford.

A White House spokesperson told the New Yorker that McDougal’s account was “fake news,” and said, “The President says he never had a relationship with McDougal.”

Read the New Yorker’s full report here.

Trump’s Inaugural Committee Money

A lingering question of the Trump Administration is the money that was raised for his inauguration.  There was A LOT raised, and plenty left over.  From NPR in April 2017:

An inauguration is an expensive party to throw, and President Trump got plenty of help putting his on. Financial Election Commission disclosures released on Wednesday show that some uberwealthy donors helped Trump defray the cost: Million-dollar givers included investment firm founder Charles Schwab, mining entrepreneur Christopher Cline and Bank of America. Investor and casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson spent $5 million.

Those megadonors contributed to Trump’s monster inauguration haul of nearly $107 million, the FEC forms show. That sum doubles President Barack Obama’s then-record inauguration donations in 2009, which totaled around $53 million.

Though this report shows how much money Trump’s inauguration brought in, it does not detail exactly how that money was spent. Presidential inauguration committees do not have to disclose that to the FEC.

***

Trump’s committee has said that any leftover money from this year’s inauguration will be given to charity, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

For his part, Fischer thinks the Inauguration Day donations should have some of the strictures of campaign donations.

“There’s no reason to think that a million-dollar contribution made after Election Day would be any less corrupting or pose any less risk of influence than a million-dollar contribution made before Election Day,” he said.

But there has been no indication about the charities the leftover money went to.

Until today.  The Inauguration Committee filed its taxes and via the New York Times, we know (sort of) what was spent:

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s inaugural committee paid nearly $26 million to an event planning firm started by an adviser to the first lady, Melania Trump, while donating $5 million — less than expected — to charity, according to tax filings released on Thursday.

The nonprofit group that oversaw Mr. Trump’s inauguration and surrounding events in January 2017, the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee, had been under pressure from liberal government watchdog groups to reveal how it spent the record $107 million it had raised from wealthy donors and corporations.

Its chairman, Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a longtime friend of Mr. Trump, had pledged that the committee would be thrifty with its spending, and would donate leftover funds to charity.

But the mandatory tax return it filed with the Internal Revenue Service indicates that the group’s charitable donations included only an already publicized $3 million for hurricane relief, plus a total of $1.75 million to groups involved in decorating and maintaining the White House and the vice president’s residence.

That’s not even $5 million to charities.

So where did the rest go?  Mostly between two companies:

One of the companies, WIS Media Partners of Marina del Rey, California, was created by a longtime friend of Mrs. Trump, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, according to a person familiar with the firm. Records show that the firm was created in December 2016, but otherwise there is very little information available about it.

Ms. Winston Wolkoff made her name planning Manhattan society galas and has subsequently been brought on as a senior adviser to the first lady’s official government office.

***

Much of the money paid to Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s firm and other event production companies likely was passed through to other vendors who provided goods or services on a subcontractor basis.

Ms. Winston Wolkoff personally received $1.62 million for her work, according to one official from the inaugural committee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the details publicly. The official said that Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s firm paid the team used by Mark Burnett, the creator of “The Apprentice,” whose involvement in the inaugural festivities was requested by Mr. Trump.

Christ. Nice work if you can get it.  Sounds like it all went through middlemen, each one taking their cut, before trickling down to the actual people who did the work, if there were any.

And the other company?

Also reaping payments for event production services was Hargrove, Inc., of Lanham, Md., a company that plans trade shows and other events, which was paid $25 million. David Monn of New York, who also is known for orchestrating society events and planned a state dinner for former President Barack Obama, was paid $3.7 million, and a company called Production Resource Group of New Windsor, N.Y., was paid $2.7 million, according to the tax return.

So $27 million to a fake friend-of-Melania business, and $25 million to an ACTUAL event planner.  That’s $52 million.  $5 million to charities.  That’s $57 million.  That leaves us $50 million short.

Other expenses for which the committee paid directly included ticketing, on which it spent $4.1 million, and promotional gifts, on which it spent $560,000.

It also spent heavily on payroll and administrative expenses, including spending $9.4 million on travel, $4.6 million on salaries and benefits for its 208 employees, $500,000 on legal fees and $237,000 on fund-raising.

It strikes me that these are the legitimate expenses, totaling roughly another $25 million.  And they still have $2.8 million in the bank.  So…. I still don’t understand why it is $20 million short.

I don’t know. Even if my number-rounding accounting is flawed, it doesn’t make sense why an inauguration with smaller crowds and fewer pop stars than Obama should cost twice as much.

High School Shooting: The Aftermath

I feel like I can go back to the last mass shooting and cut and paste. With 17 dead (so far), the “day after” talk surrounding yesterday’s shooting is all too predictable.

We learn about heroes:

We learn details:

And graphic video [WARNING] —

And more about the killer, like he was adopted at birth by a kindly older couple…. and:

He had been getting treatment at a mental health clinic, but he had stopped. He had been expelled from school for disciplinary problems. Many of his acquaintances had cut ties in part because of his unnerving Instagram posts and reports that he liked shooting animals. His father died a few years ago, and his mother, among the only people with whom he was close, died around Thanksgiving. He was living at a friend’s house. He was showing signs of depression.

And the finger-pointing starts.  The left and reasonable rightly say this is an issue of gun control.  Why?  Because this doesn’t happen in other countries.  Other countries have mentally disturbed people.  Other countries have terrorists.  But other countries make it hard — or near impossible — to get a weapon of mass destruction, like the AR-15 used in so many mass shootings.  It is easier to get one of those than it is to get a driver’s license.

And the right — they are playing defense. Some are saying we need armed police in schools — except Stoneman Douglas High School had one.  He didn’t see or hear anything until the shooting started.

And it looks like the right has picked out, among others, their fall guy — their favorite punching bag of this administration, the FBI.  It comes from Buzzfeed, which reports this:

Last fall, a Mississippi bail bondsman and frequent YouTube vlogger noticed an alarming comment left on one of his videos. “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” said a user named Nikolas Cruz.

The YouTuber, 36-year-old Ben Bennight, alerted the FBI, emailing a screenshot of the comment and calling the bureau’s Mississippi field office. He also flagged the comment to YouTube, which removed it from the video.

Agents with the bureau’s Mississippi field office got back to him “immediately,” Bennight said, and conducted an in-person interview the following day, on Sept. 25.

“They came to my office the next morning and asked me if I knew anything about the person,” Bennight told BuzzFeed News. “I didn’t. They took a copy of the screenshot and that was the last I heard from them.”

And the President weighed in this morning with this:

And that prompted none other than Donald Trump Jr to like a tweet criticizing the FBI:

So clearly, the fault lies with the FBI and the people who failed to report him.

Trump’s tweet, I am happy say, is not enjoying as many “likes” as he usually gets. A tweet about DACA sent out at the same time got twice as many likes.

As for others on the right, they urge caution

In any event, the left is once again raising the issue about how our GOP politicians are beholden to the NRA, including Trump himself.

Here’s what the NRA posted on Instagram on Valentine’s Day, just hours before the shooting. It has not been taken down:

… and in two days, we will have moved on.

UPDATE:

This changes things. He was a domestic terrorist (in my eyes), having trained with a white supremacist group.

The group is known as the Republic of Florida. Here is their website (although I suspect it will be taken down soon). They claim no involvement in the shooting.  From their FAQ page (spelling errors are theirs):

What is your organization about? What does it do? 

We are a white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics, And the ultimate creation of a white ethnostate so we can be free from anti-white policies and have policies that reflect our values as white westerners.

Our current short-term goals are to occupy urban areas to recruit suburban young whites, Then to “Withdrawal” into majority white urban areas to create communes, While maintaining a permanent small presence.

Long term, Our towns will become our ethnostates. Were not going to ask permission from the estableshemnt to have our territorial imparrative!

Are you a hate group? Do you hate minorities? 

Considering we are minorities ourselves statistically in most cases, No we do not hate minorities.  Noting the spirit of the question, No. We don’t hate people who are not white. We have done business with many people who are not white and work with people who are nonwhite in our communities toward our ultimate goals. Ironically, Black people are very often a lot more accepting of our beliefs than white liberals. 

How would you summarize your outlook on history? 

ROFHARDTIMES

History is filled with conquest and struggle. If we come out on top of that struggle, We need to fell guilty about it.

Republic Of Florida is a Militia?

Republic Of Florida is an organization that has a militia, Just as the United States is a nation with an army. Not everyone in the ROF is required to be part of paramilitary training, However, Everyone is encouraged to arm themselves.

Republic Of Florida is to United States Of America

ROF Militia is to US Army.

Thinking of “ROF Militia” And “Republic Of Florida” As the same thing, is erroneous.

How can I get an ROF Flag?

First, Lets show you a picture of what an actual ROF Flag looks like:

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This is not to be confused with the Bonnie Blue, Which a flag that virtually every secessionist, And less-dedicated ROF members, Are sure to own.

Owning an authentic ROF flag is a sign of an extremely loyal member of an ROF cell; The reason being is they require dedication and sacrifice simply to produce them, Which means they were obtained for either 2 reasons:

  1. They made the ROF flag with knowledge on how to make them, And with financial willingness to spend the money required to make them.
  2. Were given the ROF flag by someone else who footed the bill, As a reward for that members dedication.

A genuine ROF Flag is very expensive to produce and made to rugged specifications. There is no website you go to to buy an ROF flag. There is however methods of creating them that you can learn if you are part of ROF, Or are creating an ROF cell. Several private companies have assisted us in the creation of our flags, Which are made out of the finest of thick yet light, Durable poly-cotton materials. ROF Flags

So if you want an ROF flag, You either have to know how to make it, Or be given one, Which is a major honor.

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What does the ROF Flag Represent?

The white field represents purity/the white race, The St. Andrews cross is a symbol of our ancestors and the symbol of the cross of Burgundy used in the FL state flag, Which is part of Florida’s rich heritage. The blue represents the oceans surrounding our state, The righteousness of our cause, and a government that cares about the health and well being of the people.  The white star represents our independence and our freedom.

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It should be noted that different ROF flags carry different meanings.

Does ROF do anything positive in the community?

During hurricane IRMA, We passed out free water and food while Amazon.com charged +20$ for bottled water. The store shelves were EMPTY. We passed out these supplies to all colors and creeds, Albeit in a majority white area. 

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We do numerous positive non-partisan activities that help our communities:

The ROF Militia is on the front lines during hurricanes and natural disasters making sure people are properly cared for in the aftermath, And helping preparations before the storm.

We pass out water in the hottest days of the year, And educate people on the importance of hydration

We patrol the streets at night to combat crime- This mostly involves observing and reporting to local authorities, Unless we witness forcible felonies of certain types where we feel intervention is necessary to prevent great bodily injury or loss of life, or if children or elderly are in danger.

Can a nonwhite join ROF?

In theory, Yes. Ask your local company captain/Cell coordinator if he will allow it. This wont give you a free pass to race mix, And you would be fighting for segregated communities for racial self-determination. If this sounds like you- Then Join ROF; Regardless of what your racial background is.

Are you a Christian Organization?

Technically, Per amendments to the late 1990’s conventions, We are a Christian Organization that makes an exception for a few Odinists. Now in 2017 almost half of ROF is Odinists. If following ROF doctrine to exact spec from the late 1990’s/Early 2000’s, No other organizations are allowed. But no religious belief is outlawed by the 10 codes as of 2017.

Is Islam Compatible with ROF?

No. Islam is not a religion in the traditional sense, It is closer to a military doctrine than a religion, And its values are counter-intuitive to the belief systems of ROF. Islam is a serious threat to western civilization And an enemy of ROF and the Floridian people.

Are the uniforms US Army uniforms?

This is usually a loaded question asked by a childish person whom is attempting to accuse us of “Stolen Valor”. Its a “Power play”, Among many, that helpless childish nihilists use when they have no argument and when they are unable to stop us from operating. Needless to say in 2017, Almost none of our uniforms look that much like US Amry uniforms, And are easily identifiable as ROF uniforms.

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None of the well known ROF companies in North Florida use multicam as of late 2017.

Our pre-2017 uniforms are not, And never were, “Stolen valor” The were purchased from private companies. And if they ever were US Army uniforms, They ceased to be US Army Uniforms the moment we took the American Flag patches off and replaced them with ROF patches. We actually wore the multicam camoflage pattern before the US Army Adopted OCP, Which is their version of Multicam. Technically in a strange way that isn’t worth arguing about, The US Army is “Stealing our valor”, Which is very very Ironic considering people accuse ROF of “Stealing Valor”. Tactical Uniforms/Equipment are tools. They are not substitutes for courage, They are not playtoys. They are tools of utility and concealment.

Stolen valor is the impersonation of a military unit. We are not impersonating the ROF, We are the ROF.

Don’t you find your goals to be a bit absurd and Impossible? Aren’t you traitors to America? 

Culteral marxism was looked at as “Absured” 40 years ago, But is the law of the land in US politics today.

History is filled with groups like the ROF who were laughed at in the early days. There was a time when the idea of the the colonies becoming the United States (Which really wasn’t supposed to be one country by the way, It was supposed to be a union of nation states) Seemed crazy, And seemed like total treason against the British government. Now we celebrate this “treason” and call it patriotism every 4th of July.  Yet for us having this exact same mindset, And wanting to be truly free and have taxation with representation, Just as the founding fathers of the actual U.S. did, We get called traitors. You people calling us traitors must be the ancestors of the redcoats and loyalists of that time.

I heard X about your organization, And the X Organization/Individual said this about your organization.

A wise man believes none of what he hears and half of what he sees.

99% Of people who talk about ROF, media or not, Are simply not qualified to talk about ROF. There are even people in ROF who are not necessarily qualified. If it did not come from ROF doctrine, Then it doesn’t represent the belief systems of ROF. People outside of ROF do not get to decide on our behalf what our organization is about. That isn’t how this works.

Why are your members taking over hotel buildings and meeting with government officials?

Please understand that anybody can start a blog and start throwing out random “Facts” about ROF, About how we are having a “Right Wing Bilderberg”, About how our female members are somehow sex slaves that have no rights bla bla bla.

You have female members? Are they considered equals?

They are considered equally important, But we do not pretend that women are the same as men. Women are biologically different, And thus usually are committed to tasks that are different within ROF. We teach them defensive tactics rather than offensive ones. Women shouldn’t be on the front lines of combat. Women simply are not built for combat. You can use a shovel as a hammer, But its still the wrong tool for the job- Likewise, we biologically are suited toward different jobs.  The social engineers and feminists, Who by the way are miserable young gals with absolutely no direction in their life, find that gender roles are part of some oppressive patriarchal conspiracy to oppress women. The reality is men and women love eachother and work with eachother and raise families together. If that is a conspiracy it is one we are glad to be a part of.

Seems like a lot more men than women.

We have almost 4 women per every 10 men. A little under 40% of our membership is female. That is almost unheard of in right wing political organizations. Our male to female ratio very often surpasses the left wing groups.

Do ROF’s do drugs?

Those whom are in ROF Cells, Or living an ROF lifestyle, Are permitted from the recreational use of drugs. 10 codes, Code #4 says:
I will not poison myself with the misuse of chemical substances. Chemical substances have their place, But they should only be used medicinally. Drug abuse is the number one obstacle to the recruiting of the young in our society.

The definition of “Medicinal use” is a subject of fierce debate. Some ROF’s claim marijuana is a good treatment for stress and headaches. It also is a subject of debate where alcohol falls into this code.

Are you guys violent?

The short answer: Yes. 

Marxists

Many of us are involved in paramilitary training, and we are well aware of FL Statutes 776. We will stand our ground against all who attack us. Those who attack us better know what they are doing.  If your a military aged man and we believe you can cause us great bodily harm, We will do everything in our power to make you no longer be a threat, Which will probably involve us killing or hospitalizing you. Best bet is to fight us with your words if you disagree with us. But if you want to get violent and put your hands on us, That works in our favor. We can always use practice.

We will use all tools at our disposal to advance our objectives, But our first priority is to exercise what rights we have under the law.

What if a member of the press wants to contact you?

We have a 24 Hour Hotline 561-463-2713 

RROFrecruiter@Gmail.com – The same for as for recruitment inquiries. We have a lot of press organizations contacting us, And we reserve the right to deny any press organization an interview.

We did have a facebook page before Facebook decided that our advocating our own right to exist and have a territorial imperative was forbidden thought.

Do you support Trump?

We do not have any desire to be part of the United States, And want our own country, And do not support the federal government running our affairs, So we are unwilling to enter into a discussion on if we “Support” Trump, Because we don’t support the government he is in charge of.

Isn’t Jordan Jereb a crazy nutball? How the hell is he the leader of ROF?

Its quite simple; Jereb is not the leader of ROF. He is the leader of a single cell of ROF, A cell that has become successful and popular, And through Jereb’s knowledge of community organizing, Multimedia, The internet, Has created the most visible ROF related activity on the internet. There are many ROF cells that do not advertise themselves on the internet, Some actually hate Jereb, Some even believe Jereb is a provocateur who has ruined ROF. People who say “Jereb is the leader of ROF.” Simply have not done their research.

This will be updated as more frequently asked questions are asked. 

Breaking: School Shooting in Florida [UPDATE: 17 Dead]

3:15 pm ET – Shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida. Broward County Sheriff Office saying 20-50 hurt. Students and teachers told to barricade although some are evacuated. SWAT team present.  Shooter(s) unknown and at large.

3:25 pm — Reports are that the police know who the shooter is, but not saying anything until confirmed. He is a student.

Another student on television said he had a rifle — knew him — said he was weird.

3:40 pm — Fox News echoing Fire Marshall saying that at least one killed.

Shooter reportedly pulled the fire alarm as part of planned shooting.  Still at large.

3:55 pm — There was a massive police response, including a SWAT team. The FBI and ATF are also responding.

“Person of interest” has been taken into custody at his home. Authorities believe he was online last night and were able to determine identity of victim.

Florida senator says “many people have been killed”.

This screen capture appears to show the suspect in custody (burgandy shirt)

Apparently, this happened in one classroom. Students were able to ID the student, and police converged on his house. This is how he was caught.

4:05 pm — Still no all-clear though.

4:10 pm — Ah, this explains it.  The suspect in custody was apparently on a Youtube conversation about bombs last night (amazing how fast they got this info) so there is no all-clear because they need to check school for bombs.

4:15 pm — This happened toward the end of school. Many students did not have a last period class. There was a fire drill earlier in the day, which made the second one seem odd.  There was a Broward County police officer on duty in the school when it happened.  Press gets confirmation that suspect is in custody.  Motive unknown.

Superintendent of schools say that there are “numerous fatalities” at the Stoneman Douglas High School.

4:23 pm — Not sure what it happening but the live helicopter shot appears to show the suspect in a hospital gurney now being put into an ambulance.  Nobody is mentioning it.

Correction: Local Florida news identifies suspect as FORMER student of the high school.  Shooter being taken to hospital.

4:35 pm — Unconfirmed reports of “as many as seven dead”

4:50 pm — Social media has identified the shooter as RTOC student Nikolas Cruz. He was watching YouTube videos on how to make bombs last night.  Pictures below are from social media.

5:00 pm — Apparently deranged, but teachers and the school knew of him as being a possible threat. He was told never to appear on campus with a backpack.  Miami Herald is the first news outlet to confirm his name as Nikolas De Jesus Cruz, aged 19.

This is his high school picture.

7:00 pm — Death toll: 17.  Three were killed outside the school.

Another 17 injured; 3 in critical condition

Suspect used AR-15, and had multiple magazines. He pulled the fire alarm to make it easy to shoot students. He slipped out with the other evacuating students. He was expelled last year. Gun nut.

NRA contributions:

•John McCain: $7.7m
•Richard Burr: $7m
•Roy Blunt: $4.6m
•Thom Tillis: $4.4m
•Cory Gardner: $3.9m
•Marco Rubio: $3.3m
•Joni Ernst: $3.1m
•Rob Portman: $3m
•Todd Young: $2.9m
•Bill Cassidy: $2.9m

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