January 21, 2017

Week 10

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

An observation: this week’s list includes two articles, one by McClatchy and one by the NYT, with breaking news on Russian interference in our election, including possible Trump team complicity. Both articles are shocking and disturbing, yet garnered little attention. It’s as if the American people are losing faith and trust in our institutions, and giving up that there will be accountability and consequences.

  1. The Sunday Times reported that Trump’s first meeting as president will be with Putin.
  2. In interviews with the Times of London and Germany’s Bild, Trump referred to NATO as “obsolete.”
  3. Next day, the front page of Le Monde showed Trump standing with his back turned, and a title, “Trump Contre L’Europe” (translates, “Trump Against Europe”).
  4. The Trump transition team is considering a plan to evict the press corps from the White House. Trump later clarified, saying he won’t evict all press, but he will pick who is allowed to come.
  5. Trump’s war of words with Rep. Lewis continued for four days.
  6. Trump canceled his plan to visit Museum of African American History on MLK Day. Sean Spicer said Monday Trump never planned to be in DC, after Kellyanne Conway said the prior Friday that Trump was going.
  7. A dossier provided to US Intelligence alleges that Trump agreed to sideline the issue of Russian intervention in Ukraine after Russia promised to feed the emails it stole from prominent Democrats’ inboxes to WikiLeaks.
  8. Trump ally Rep. Todd Rokita is considering legislation that would allow Trump to fire federal employees for no cause.
  9. Trump publicly traded barbs with outgoing CIA Director John Brennan. Brennan said Trump “does not yet” fully appreciate what embracing Russia might mean, and called Trump’s response “repugnant.”
  10. After saying that the American people don’t care about his tax returns at his press conference, an ABC poll found 74% of Americans want Trump to release his returns.
  11. In a 2014 interview, Trump identified Russia as the US’s “biggest problem” and greatest geopolitical foe.
  12. On Sunday talk shows, Reince Priebus and Rep. Jason Chaffetz warned and attacked the director of the Office of Governmental Ethics, who has publicly challenged Trump’s conflicts of interests.
  13. In a speech, Putin defended Trump and said the Obama administration was trying to undermine Trump’s legitimacy.
  14. Trump’s cabinet level appointees are the least diverse in decades: 18 of 23 are white men, and none are Latino. Trump defended this, saying his cabinet has the highest IQ of any cabinet ever.
  15. Michael Flynn’s son tweeted an article from a Kremlin-funded website which said Flynn should take control of the 16 US Intelligence agencies.
  16. A disturbing WAPO article detailed Trump’s isolation at Trump Tower, including his leaving the building only once over several days, and interacting with very few people.
  17. NBC and WSJ reported that jobs at GM and Bayer, which Trump took credit for, were in the works for years; and that corporate leaders are crediting him to avoid his Twitter wrath.
  18. In Greenwich, CT, a Republican official grabbed a woman by her genitals, bragging “I love this new world, I no longer have to be politically correct.” He was caught on tape, and later arrested.
  19. Trump was sued for defamation by one of the woman who accused him of unwanted sexual advances. Attorney Gloria Allred said she will subpoena unseen The Apprentice footage.
  20. Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson’s disclosure says he intends to stay away from State decisions benefiting Exxon for only one year.
  21. Media was banned from Trump’s DC hotel in the days leading up to his inauguration. Trump did, however, stop by his DC hotel, and Spicer told the press, “I encourage you to go there, if you haven’t been.” Trump still benefits financially from the hotel.
  22. Passwords used by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s incoming cybersecurity advisor, and 13 other Trump team staff, were leaked in a mass hack.
  23. A CBS News poll found Trump’s favorably had fallen to 32%. Similarly, a Fox News poll had him at 37% favorability. Trump is the first incoming president to have a net-negative approval rating.
  24. Trump bragged about “displaying our military,” including possible military parades in major US cities.
  25. Trump also had tried to include tank and missile launchers in his inaugural parade.
  26. McClatchy reported that the FBI and 5 other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have been investigating how money may have covertly moved from Kremlin to help Trump win.
  27. Nearly 70 members of Congress and Secretary of State Kerry boycotted Trump’s inauguration.
  28. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who did attend, explained, “members of Congress have a lot of information that the public does not have,” and eventually the American people would understand the boycotts.
  29. As Trump takes office, he has the fewest cabinet members approved of any modern day president. Trump has nominated only 28 of 690 Senate-confirmable jobs in the Executive Branch.
  30. The day before his inauguration, Trump asked 50 Obama administration officials to stay on in their roles.
  31. As Trump takes office, the State Department says they have not been instructed on whether to attend upcoming peace talks.
  32. The Trump team tried an additional form of suppressing the media, serving CNN with a retraction request, which the network is forced to responds to, for a routine story.
  33. In a parting interview, VP Biden told Vanity Fair, he is worried Trump might destroy Western civilization.
  34. The NYT reported law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining communications and financial transactions between Russian officials and Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Roger Stone.
  35. Despite his efforts to promote ticket sales through a heavily advertised online video, Trump inauguration and events were poorly attended, and no well-known celebrities agreed to perform.
  36. The Guardian’s Editorial Board described Trump’s inaugural speech as, “bitter, blowhard and banal,” and said, in contrast to FDR’s speech of overcome fear, Trump “told the world to be very afraid.”
  37. The streets along the inaugural parade route had thin crowds, and the entire stands were empty (see video below).
  38. Trump team banned the Department of Interior from Twitter, after the department retweeted photos of small crowds on Inauguration Day. A National Park Spokesperson apologized.
  39. Within hours of Trump being sworn in, all mention of climate change, civil rights, and LGBT were removed from the White House webpage.
  40. Upon taking office, Trump was likely already in violation of the federal lease with his Trump hotel DC property.
  41. An estimated 2.5 million Americans marched in the Women March, ten times more than showed for Trump inauguration. AP reported that 500,000 marched in DC alone, doubling the expected attendance.

Copyright Amy Siskind, January 21, 2017

An estimated 4 million women and men marched in the Women’s March at marches around the country and the world. The protests were perhaps the largest political demonstrations in history (except possibly the Vietnam War protests).