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Weekly Lists

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
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May 12, 2018

Week 78

This week Trump threatened to take away media credentials, equating negative coverage to fake news. Trump and his surrogates continued to publicly undermine the Mueller probe, pressing for its completion and questioning the validity of its outcome; yet, seemed unprepared to handle the fallout of information made public by Stephanie Clifford’s attorney, Michael Avenatti.

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May 05, 2018

Week 77

Have we normalized that Trump lies to the American people? That was a central question after Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani publicly contradicted recent statements by Trump and the White House, saying Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen for a $130,000 payment to silence Stephanie Clifford, made days before the 2016 election. According to The Washington Post, Trump has told over 3,000 false or misleading statements since taking office.

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April 28, 2018

Week 76

In some ways this week felt normal as leaders of France and Germany visited the White House, and the leaders of North and South Korea met for a historic summit and spoke of the denuclearizing the peninsula. In the days Macron was in America, the country seemed relatively calm with less news breaking and Trump refraining from his typical banter and tweets.

But beneath the veneer, the dysfunction and chaos of the Trump regime continued. Amid the firing and attempted nominations of top officials, Trump continues to unilaterally pick from a small circle of unqualified sycophants. This week the country was shocked when Speaker Ryan fired the House chaplain for speaking up for the less fortunate — symbolic for Republicans in the era of Trump who have joined in the weekly attacks on “the others” and those who would advocate for them. As the week ended, the country endured another fallen norm: a functional House Intelligence Committee.

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April 21, 2018

Week 75

This week Trump became increasingly frantic about the fed raid on Michael Cohen, as innuendo swirled that Cohen could cooperate with federal prosecutors if indicted. Trump spent much of the week attacking James Comey, and teetering on firing Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller. Yet again this week, the national focus continued to be on Trump’s gyrations, with no visible efforts in Congress towards the typical discussions and debates on policy or legislation.

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April 14, 2018

Week 74

This week, Trump became angry and stormy after the office and hotel room of his longtime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen were raided by the FBI. The country stood on edge as Trump threatened to fire Mueller, Sessions, and Rosenstein. Other than a few hollow warnings, Republicans in leadership did nothing by way of passing legislation or any other measures to block Trump from taking steps to dull or end the Mueller probe. And as Speaker Paul Ryan became the latest Republican leader to announce he will not seek re-election in November, increasingly it appears the party will abdicate its responsibility to counter Trump.

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April 07, 2018

Week 73

This was an alarming week simply for all that happened in what should have been a quiet holiday week with Congress out of town. As in recent weeks, Trump is not seeking to work with the input of Congress, nor does the Republican Party seem to have a policy plan; rather Trump is governing unilaterally.

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March 31, 2018

Week 72

In a week some described as relatively quiet on the news front heading into Passover and Easter, Trump continued to seize power. Trump is acting increasingly strident and confident in his — and solely his — abilities and judgment. As Hope Hicks departed and Trump had yet to name her replacement, news stories indicated Trump is considering becoming his own press secretary, as well as possibly his own chief of staff. Trump continues to be scattered legislatively, save his obsession with his border wall, while continuing to strike out at adversaries, this week’s favored target being Amazon.

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March 24, 2018

Week 71

This week Cambridge Analytica became a full-blown UK and US scandal, as the company came under scrutiny for harvesting the data of 50 million Facebook users and using it to impact the 2016 US election, possibly in cooperation with Russia. British authorities raided the company late Friday, while back home, Facebook faced a backlash from users and Congress for mishandling the security of personal information and for the company’s flat-footed and weak response to the crisis.

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March 17, 2018

Week 70

In another frenzied week in America, Trump fired his secretary of state through a tweet, and continued to stoke fears of imminent additional departures, in what was described as a White House verging on mania. Trump is reportedly joyful, feeling liberated to act on his impulses and authoritarian instincts. Even as the Mueller probe and allegations of paying to silence Stephanie Clifford close in, Trump is cocky and irreverent —as if signaling he has matters in hand.

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March 10, 2018

Week 69

This week, Trump acted like a dictator, taking policy matters into his own hands. After praising China’s President Xi for ending term limits, Trump took controversial actions, imposing tariffs and setting up a meeting with Kim Jong-un — both against his party’s positions, and taken after foregoing or ignoring experts’ and allies’ advice.

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