November 24, 2018

Week 106

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

There is no such thing as a slow holiday news week in the era of Trump! This week, in the chaos of news and not normal, reporting of Ivanka Trump’s use of a personal email account for White House business — remarkably similar to Hillary Clinton’s private server on which Trump fixated throughout his 2016 campaign and beyond — was barely mentioned in the news 48 hours later.

This week there were more alarming breaks from norms, including Trump siding with Saudis over U.S. intelligence on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Trump bypassing advice by White House counsel to give troops at the U.S.-Mexico border the right to use lethal force, Trump attacking the admiral who oversaw the Osama bin Laden raid, and once again Trump attacking the Judiciary Branch for ruling against him — this time drawing the ire of both Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts and the American Bar Association.

With just weeks until the Democrats take control of the House and can subpoena and investigate, and as the Mueller probe lurks into its final stages, Trump is increasingly frantic and belligerent. Trump continues to cozy up to authoritarians and break from norms, including concern for human rights. At home, a notable rise in the normalization and occurrence of hate crimes and the rise of white supremacists continues.

  1. WAPO reported that of the 277 women who ran in the midterms, a record 124 have won so far. In the next session, there will be 102 women in the House of Representatives, 13 in the Senate, and 9 governors.
  2. As midterm votes continued to be counted, Democrats held a popular vote lead over Republicans in the House of more than 8.6 million votes, the largest midterm margin since Watergate, and will pick up nearly 40 seats.
  3. A Quinnipiac University poll found nearly 60% of Americans disapprove of the way Trump is handling race relations. Republicans approve by 76%, while Democrats disapprove by 93%.
  4. On Saturday, on his trip to California where 76 have died in the wildfires, Trump claimed Finland does not have wildfires because crews “spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things” to clear forest floors.
  5. On Sunday, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said in an interview he spoke to Trump briefly about forest management in Paris, but that he has no idea where Trump got the idea that raking is part of his country’s routine.
  6. On Saturday, while traveling to the Asia-Pacific in Trump’s stead, Vice President Mike Pence laughed off the suggestion that Trump questioned his loyalty, saying he “was tempted not to dignify it with a comment.”
  7. On Sunday, two days after the White House demanded “decorum” at press conferences, Trump tweeted, “So funny to see little Adam Schitt,” misspelling incoming House Intelligence Committee chair Schiff’s name.
  8. On Sunday, Trump told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace he would not overrule his acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker if he decides to curtail the Mueller probe, saying, “I would not get involved.”
  9. Trump also claimed he “did not know [Whitaker] took views on the Mueller investigation” before appointing him, adding, “I think we’ve wasted enough time on this witch hunt…probably, we’re finished,”
  10. When asked by Wallace about retired Adm. William McRaven, who oversaw the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, Trump called him a “Hillary Clinton fan” and an “Obama backer.”
  11. Trump attacked McRaven, saying he should have apprehended bin Laden sooner. McRaven had publicly defended former CIA director John Brennan in an op-ed when Trump revoked his security clearance in Week 92.
  12. On Monday, Trump attacked McRaven, tweeting, “we should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did,” claiming he (Trump) wrote that in his book “just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center.”
  13. Trump also tweeted, “We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars…Fools!” Trump’s claim on his book is untrue: there is one mention of bin Laden, but it was after he was already one of the world’s most wanted terrorists.
  14. On Monday, the Republican National Committee’s Twitter account joined Trump in attacking McRaven, claiming he was on “Hillary Clinton’s short list for Vice President in 2016,” and, “He’s hardly a non-political figure.”
  15. McRaven’s name did appear on a lengthy list of possible Clinton 2016 running mates, as well as on one for Trump, although McRaven did not endorse a candidate. McRaven has recently been battling leukemia.
  16. On Tuesday, reporters asked Trump why he has yet to visit troops in a combat zone, breaking precedent of heads of state throughout history. Trump said he plans to visit a war zone, but did not specify where or when.
  17. Trump claimed he has not visited troops because he does not want to associate himself with wars he views as failures. He has also cited the long flights and potential security risks as reasons he has avoided visits
  18. San Francisco Chronicle reported that a record 14,056 migrant children are in Department of Health and Human Services custody, topping a record from two months ago, in an already overburdened system.
  19. Under Trump, ICE background checks on sponsors has resulted in arrests of undocumented adults who come forward to take custody of the children, leaving more children spending time in holding facilities.
  20. Previous administrations did not use immigration status in determining the release children into sponsor care. HHS has opened tent facilities in Texas which can house thousands more children.
  21. NYT reported the price tag for the regime reuniting families separated under Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy is $80 million and rising with 140 children still in custody — an average of $30,000 per child.
  22. On Monday, WAPO reported documents filed in a challenge to a question on the 2020 Census survey reveal the Trump regime privately discussed the possibility of sharing future census information with law enforcement.
  23. Experts warn such a move could have a chilling effect on response rates, as well as cautioning that the Justice Department does not have the authority to change the rules.
  24. On Monday, the Seattle Times reported a yogurt store owner called 911 on behalf of the employees at the store who complained about an “unwanted subject,” saying customers are “kind of scared because he looks suspicious.”
  25. The man, Byron Ragland, was doing his job supervising a parent-child visit. Ragland is also a nine-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, a psychology student at the University of Washington, and a Black American.
  26. A white woman in Phoenix went on a racist rant when Lennys Bermudez Molina asked if she could sit in an open seat next to her, saying “I prefer white — let’s just put it like that.” Molina recorded a video of the conversation on her cell phone.
  27. The white woman continued, “I would prefer the whole freaking nation to be white. How about that?” adding “Oh, it’s going to happen. You’re going to be wiped out, trust me.”
  28. College campuses reported an uptick in anti-Semitism. Cornell University reported three swastikas in 9 days, and at Duke University, a tribute to victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre was defaced by a large, red swastika.
  29. On Monday, the Guardian reported, according to a document released by Washington state law enforcement, the FBI now classifies far-right Proud Boys as an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism.”
  30. The document revealed that the “Proud Boys members have contributed to the recent escalation of violence at political rallies held on college campuses, and in cities,” and “have a history of misogyny and glorifying violence.”
  31. On Wednesday, NBC News reported the sister organization, The Proud Boys’ Girls has also been classified as “extremist.” A female sheriff’s deputy in Washington state was fired in July for her affiliation to the group.
  32. On Wednesday, Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes publicly claimed in a video to have quit the far-right group, saying “I am officially disassociating myself from the Proud Boys.”
  33. McInnes blamed his departure on the “NYC Nine,” eight of whom have been arrested by the NYPD, claiming “I am told by my legal team and law enforcement that this gesture could help alleviate their sentencing.”
  34. PBS “Frontline” released the second part in their series, “Documenting Hate: New American Nazis,” which reported on the resurgence of white supremacist groups, and their recruiting inside the U.S. military.
  35. The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe protested outside the U.S. Capital on Thanksgiving Day over Trump’s Department of Interior’s alternative interpretation of the Indian Reorganization Act to take away their land.
  36. WOSU Radio reported the Ohio legislature is weighing a bill during the lame duck session which would ban abortion entirely, and would allow criminal charges against both doctors and pregnant women seeking abortions.
  37. A federal judge in Mississippi struck down an abortion ban after 15 weeks, passed by the state legislature in March. The judge derided the legislation, saying its “professed interest in ‘women’s health’ is pure gaslighting.”
  38. The judge also noted despite the state ranking as the most medically challenged for women, the state leaders are silent on expanding Medicaid and “our alarming infant and maternal mortality rates.”
  39. On Tuesday, a group of 38 Republicans in the House sent a letter to Trump, calling on him to scrap protections for LGBTQ workers included in the newly negotiated NAFTA trade proposal with Mexico and Canada.
  40. On Friday, the Trump regime asked the Supreme Court to bypass the usual legal process, and to immediately take up Trump’s transgender military ban and rule on the issue in its current term.
  41. The Solicitor General asked the court to consolidate the challenges to the ban and rule on this issue, saying “The decisions imposing those injunctions are wrong, and they warrant this Court’s immediate review.”
  42. Lawyers representing challenges said there is no need to abandon the norms of the Supreme Court waiting to take action until regional appeals courts have ruled, questioning the urgency of the Trump regime.
  43. A rule change was proposed by Nancy Pelosi which would overturn a 181-year ban on religious headwear on the floor of Congress, as Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first two Muslim American women in Congress.
  44. On Monday, Politico reported the general overseeing the deployment of troops at the U.S.-Mexico border said the troops will start heading home in the coming days, having completed the missions for which they were sent.
  45. Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan said the first troops have started to leave and all the troops will be home by December 15, in time for Christmas, as originally expected.
  46. On Tuesday, Buchanan’s command appeared to backpedal on his statement, which seemed to suggest the deployment was unnecessary, saying “no specific timeline for redeployment has been determined.”
  47. On Wednesday, WAPO reported, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo, the Trump regime is considering sweeping new measures which would force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico as their cases are processed.
  48. The regime’s plan, known as “Remain in Mexico,” would be a major change from current screening procedures, which generally allow those who fear returning to their home countries to avoid immediate deportation.
  49. Trump has repeatedly said he despises the current system, known as “catch and release,” which allows migrants to remain in the U.S. until they can get a hearing with an immigration judge. Trump has pledged to end it.
  50. Under the plan, asylum seekers would have to meet a higher bar in the screening procedure — that they fear persecution in Mexico—in order to meet the requirement for immediate admission into the U.S.
  51. On Thursday, Politico reported on a fiery West Wing meeting presided by Trump Monday on the topic of granting the troops at the U.S.-Mexico border the right to use lethal force to defend border patrol agents.
  52. John Kelly and Kirstjen Nielsen were initially against the measure, saying it was beyond Trump’s constitutional powers. Pitted against all the other attendees including Trump and Stephen Miller, the meeting devolved into a melee.
  53. Also at the meeting was Chris Crane, president of ICE and Brandon Judd, president of the border patrol union. Kelly and Nielsen finally agreed, and Kelly signed a Cabinet declaration granting the military the authority.
  54. The move by Trump ran afoul of guidance by acting White House counsel Emmet Flood, who cautioned Trump it would likely run into constitutional roadblocks. The decision came after dozens of meetings.
  55. On Monday, in a departure of its nearly 100 year tradition of having a comedian headline its roast, the White House Correspondents’ Association announced presidential biographer Ron Chernow will headline this year.
  56. On Monday, CNN asked for an emergency hearing after Trump threatened to revoke Jim Acosta’s press pass again. That afternoon, bowing to pressure, the White House said his press pass has been “restored.”
  57. On Monday, the White House issued new rules for reporters, including how they can ask questions. The press corps did not agree to the new rules, which the correspondents’ association said it had “no role” in crafting.
  58. On Monday, WAPO reported that a record request by liberal watchdog group American Oversight revealed that Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to send hundreds of emails about government business in 2017.
  59. White House ethics officials learned of the emails in responding to the request. Emails were sent to White House aides, Cabinet officials, and her assistants, many in violation of federal records rules.
  60. The private email account was on a domain shared with Kushner. In the emails, she discussed or relayed official White House business. Ivanka’s attorney claimed none of the messages contained classified information.
  61. The domain “ijkfamily.com” was set up by Ivanka and Jared in December 2016 through a Microsoft system. Emails were prescreened for security problems by the Trump Organization, but stored by Microsoft.
  62. Ivanka discussed government policies and official business fewer than 100 times, and shared her official schedule and travel plans with herself and her personal assistants  fewer than 1,000 times.
  63. On Tuesday, when asked by reporters, Trump defended Ivanka, saying “Just so you understand, Ivanka Trump did some emails, they were not classified like Hillary Clinton,” adding, “they were not deleted.”
  64. Trump also said, “Ivanka Trump can handle herself. They are in the historical records, no deletion whatsoever,” adding, “It is all fake news.”
  65. When reporter April Ryan, a Black woman, asked Trump, “Elijah Cummings wants to investigate Ivanka’s emails. What do you say, sir?” Trump pointed at her, turned away, then asked the group, “What else?”
  66. On Monday, Mueller’s team filed a brief, saying Mueller’s powers are still intact, writing “Whitaker taking charge of the Russia probe “neither alters the special counsel’s authority…nor raises any jurisdictional issue.”
  67. The explanation came in response to a case brought by former Roger Stone aide Andrew Miller against Mueller, claiming Mueller is an unlawful prosecutor because Trump did not appoint him and he was not Senate confirmed.
  68. On Monday, Senate Democrats Richard Blumenthal, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Mazie Hirono sued to block Whitaker from serving as acting attorney general, saying his placement in the post was unconstitutional.
  69. The lawsuit, which is the third filed to block Whitaker, cites that the Vacancies Reform Act does not allow for the appointment of people to cabinet-level positions who have not been senate confirmed.
  70. On Monday, CNN reported the watchdog group American Oversight said in a letter sent to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics that the DOJ had failed to provide a copy of Whitaker’s public financial disclosure reports.
  71. Whitaker has likely had to file two sets of public financial disclosures since joining the Justice Department last year. Federal ethics law requires the reports be available to public requestors within 30 days of their filing.
  72. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Whitaker has received more than $1.2 million over three years from Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), which described itself as a new watchdog nonprofit.
  73. FACT, which says it is dedicated to exposing unethical conduct by public officials, has no employees, but allowed Whitaker to regularly appear in the media. In 2014, the IRS approved FACT for tax-exempt charity status.
  74. WAPO analyzed Whitaker’s 200 plus television and radio appearances from 2014 to September 2017, and found an overwhelming focus on Democrats, including 750 mentions of Hillary and 185 of Mueller.
  75. FACT was founded in 2012 under a different name and mission. At the time, Whitaker, was a U.S. attorney with a legal practice in Iowa that paid him $79,000 a year. The source of funding remains unclear.
  76. On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked the inspector general to investigate Whitaker’s communications with the White House, citing concerns he shared confidential information about the Mueller probe.
  77. Schumer also wants the inspector general to investigate whether Whitaker “provided any assurance” to Trump or other White House officials “regarding steps he or others may take” related to the Mueller probe.
  78. On Wednesday, CNN reported the Office of Special Counsel opened an investigation into a possible Hatch Act violation by Whitaker, for taking donations for a 2014 senate run while serving as chief of staff at the DOJ.
  79. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from accepting political contributions. The $8,800 of contributions were made in January and February to repay debt from his unsuccessful run for a Senate seat in Iowa.
  80. On Tuesday, NYT reported Trump told former White House counsel Don McGahn in the spring that he wanted to order the DOJ to prosecute two of his political adversaries, Hillary Clinton and James Comey.
  81. McGahn said no, and told Trump he had no authority to order a prosecution. He also had White House lawyers write a memo warning Trump could face a range of consequences, including impeachment.
  82. Trump privately continues to float ideas, like appointing a second special counsel to investigate Clinton and Comey. He has also attacked the integrity of DOJ officials, saying they are on a “witch hunt” to bring him down.
  83. Trump has also been frustrated FBI director Christopher Wray would not open an investigation on Clinton for her role in Uranium One and the Clinton Foundation, calling his appointee “weak” for not pursuing her.
  84. On Wednesday, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told The Hill “of course she [Clinton] should be investigated” for obstruction of justice, citing “destroying evidence in a gross and massive way,” meaning deleted emails.
  85. On Tuesday, a federal judge blocked Trump’s proclamation targeting some asylum seekers, ordering the Trump regime to resume accepting asylum claims from migrants no matter where or how they entered the U.S.
  86. Judge Jon Tigar of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote, “Whatever the scope of the president’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden.”
  87. On Tuesday, when asked by reporters about the ruling, Trump called it a “disgrace,” and labeled Judge Tigar “an Obama judge.”
  88. On Wednesday, in a highly unusual public statement, when asked by an AP reporter, Chief Justice John Roberts rebutted Trump’s statement, saying an “independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”
  89. Roberts said, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” adding, “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best.”
  90. On Wednesday, Trump responded in two tweets, saying, “Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have “Obama judges,” adding, “It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an “independent judiciary.””
  91. Trump also tweeted, “Please study the numbers, they are shocking. We need protection and security — these rulings are making our country unsafe,” adding, “Very dangerous and unwise!”
  92. On Wednesday, the American Bar Association took the unusual step of issuing a statement criticizing Trump’s attacks on the 9th Circuit Court, saying judicial independence is critical to American democracy.
  93. ABA also said “when government officials question a court’s motives, mock its legitimacy or threaten retaliation,” they “erode the court’s standing and hinder the courts from performing their constitutional duties.”
  94. On Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, Trump tweeted, “Justice Roberts can say what he wants, but the 9th Circuit is a complete & total disaster,” adding “It is out of control, has a horrible reputation.”
  95. Trump later tweeted, “79% of these decisions have been overturned in the 9th Circuit,” citing Fox News. Trump also called the 9th Circuit a “dangerous disgrace” and a “dumping ground” for “easy wins and delays.”
  96. In a scathing series of tweets, George Conway, Kellyanne Conway’s husband, refuted Trump’s claims about the 9th Circuit as untrue.
  97. On Monday, Reuters reported Germany halted all arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and imposed a travel ban on the 18 Saudis linked to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi from entering the 26 countries in the EU.
  98. On Tuesday, in an extraordinary statement, Trump sided with the Saudi Crown Prince MBS over the findings by U.S. national intelligence agencies on the killing of Khashoggi.
  99. Trump’s 633 word, crude statement with exclamation points ignored known facts, stating, “It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!
  100. Trump added “We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder…In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” adding Iran’s crimes are worse anything Saudi Arabia has done.
  101. In his statement, Trump also came close to embracing the conspiracy theory of Khashoggi’s critics in Saudi Arabia, that he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and an “enemy of the state.”
  102. Trump also wrote, “The world is a very dangerous place,” and repeated his false claim that alienating the Saudis would put $110 billion in military sales at risk. So far just $14.5 billion in sales have been booked.
  103. On Wednesday, when asked by reporters if he was motivated by personal gain, Trump said, “I don’t make deals with Saudi Arabia,” and “I don’t have money from Saudi Arabia.”
  104. Trump also falsely claimed siding with Saudis would keep the price of oil down, telling reporters if we break out relationship we will “see oil prices go to $150 a barrel.”
  105. On Tuesday, the editorial board of WAPO condemned Trump, saying he has slandered Khashoggi and betrayed American values, and his actions let dictators know “they can murder their critics and suffer no consequences.”
  106. The Post compared Trump’s move with his siding with Putin on Russian interference in the 2016 election, saying he had “affinity for a brutal and reckless leader by disregarding the findings of the U.S. intelligence.”
  107. On Tuesday, WSJ reported Saudi Arabia is accused of torturing at least eight of the 18 women’s-rights activists imprisoned this year without being formally charged with any crime. At least one tried to commit suicide.
  108. Torturing women is unprecedented according to activists. At least four were subjected to electric shocks and lashings, one was sexually assaulted, and many were kept in solitary confinement for several months.
  109. On Wednesday, Trump celebrated low oil prices, tweeting “Enjoy! $54, was just $82. Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!” Experts say the fall in price has little to do with Saudi Arabia.
  110. On Friday, the WSJ reported that the recent downward trend in oil prices is due to a surge in crude production from the U.S. petroleum industry combined with a weakened global growth, not related to Saudi and OPEC output.
  111. On Thursday, Denmark and Finland joined Germany in halting arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
  112. On Tuesday, a photo of Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith wearing a Confederate soldier’s hat and holding a rifle surfaced on Facebook. The photo was taking during a 2014 visit to the Jefferson Davis Home.
  113. On Tuesday, Trump defended Hyde-Smith’s lynching comment in Week 105, dismissing her comment as a joke, and adding “She is a tremendous woman and it is a shame that she has to go through this.”
  114. Following the lynching comment, several corporations, including Pfizer, Amgen, Walmart, AT&T, and others asked to have their campaign donations to Hyde-Smith returned.
  115. On Tuesday, Hyde-Smith offered a qualified apology, saying her comments did not mean she would “enjoy any type of capital punishment,” and “for anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize.”
  116. On Thursday, as Vice President Pence stood in for Trump at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, he broke from Trump, directly confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin on election interference.
  117. Pence told WAPO of his conversation, “So I looked at him and I said, ‘We know what happened in 2016,’” adding, “I’m very aware of what you’ve said about that, but I’m telling you we’re not having it.”
  118. On Wednesday, Mueller’s team urged a judge to deny a request from former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos to delay the commencement of his two week jail sentence, which is scheduled to begin November 26.
  119. Papadopoulos’ attorney filed a motion, saying sentencing should be delayed pending the case challenging the constitutionality of Mueller’s appointment as special counsel.
  120. On Wednesday, AP reported Trump was set to be interviewed by Mueller’s team on January 27 at Camp David, but Trump’s lawyers balked. John Dowd sent a feisty letter disputing Mueller’s authority to question Trump.
  121. Reportedly Trump wanted to do the interview, but Trump’s lawyers, after being informed of the 16 topics Mueller wanted to cover from Mueller team prosecutor James Quarles, canceled the interview.
  122. This week, Trump’s lawyers handed over his written answers to some of Mueller’s questions, after a hard fought battle to compromise. Trump answered only questions about Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  123. Trump’s team refused to answer questions about whether he has tried to obstruct the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and his campaign. It is unclear if Mueller intends to push for more answers.
  124. On Thursday, House Republicans subpoenaed James Comey and Loretta Lynch to testify privately. Comey tweeted, “I will resist a “closed door” thing because I’ve seen enough of their selective leaking and distortion.”
  125. On Friday, WAPO reported Jerome Corsi, an associate of Trump and Roger Stone, is in plea negotiations with Mueller’s team. Corsi provided research on Democratic figures during the 2016 campaign to Stone.
  126. Corsi cooperating could shed light on whether Trump or his advisers were connected to and had knowledge of WikiLeaks’ release of hacked Democratic emails in 2016, a key part of Mueller’s inquiry.
  127. The New Yorker reported Emma Briant, an expert on disinformation at George Washington University, has unearthed new emails from October 2015, revealing the earliest documented role played by Steve Bannon in Brexit.
  128. Emails show Bannon, then vice president of Cambridge Analytica, owned largely by Robert Mercer, was in the loop for discussions with the leaders of Leave.EU, a far-right nationalist organization.
  129. Mueller’s investigations into foreign interference in Trump’s election, and British probes into Brexit, have increasingly become interwoven, including the role of the Russian Ambassador to the U.K., Alexander Yakovenko.
  130. Investigators from both countries are also looking into the role of Nigel Farage, the former leader of Euroskeptic U.K. Independence Party, who was an ally of Bannon and Trump, and also visited Julian Assange in 2017.
  131. On Thursday, Trump started the day tweeting, “HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!” then devolved to warning of “bedlam, chaos, injury and death” at the U.S.-Mexico border if law enforcement cannot do their job.
  132. In the morning at a press gaggle, when asked by reporters at Mar-a-Lago what he was thankful for, Trump responded, “for having a great family and for having made a tremendous difference in this country.”
  133. Trump continued, “I’ve made a tremendous difference in the country. This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office that you wouldn’t believe it.”
  134. When asked how he would rate the job he is doing, Trump responded “Look, I hate to do it, but I will do it. I would give myself an A-plus. Is that enough? Can I go higher than that?
  135. Trump also broke with tradition, using the Thanksgiving morning conference call with military members in five countries overseas to instead weigh in on several controversial political issues.
  136. Trump again criticized the 9th Circuit, saying “We get a lot of bad court decisions from the 9th Circuit, which has become a big thorn in our side,” adding, “We always lose…then you hopefully win at the Supreme Court.”
  137. Trump also said, “it’s a terrible thing when judges…tell you how to protect your border,” calling it a “disgrace.” Later in the day he said “judicial activism” prevented security officials from protecting the border.
  138. He blamed “the world” for the death of Khashoggi, dismissing the finding of the CIA that Saudi Crown Prince MBS was to blame, instead claiming the crown prince hated the death even more than Trump did.
  139. After claiming “Nobody’s done more for the military than me,” Trump made numerous false claims about military, and asked commanders what they were seeing in their regions on a call which is publicly broadcasted.
  140. Trump bragged about sending troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, even as troops are being pulled back, and expressed no doubts about the constitutionality of giving soldiers the right to use lethal force there.
  141. Trump had Thanksgiving dinner at Mar-a-Lago, which he has dubbed the “southern White House,” hosting a large crowd of more than 500 paying members along with his family.
  142. Before leaving for Mar-a-Lago, Trump bemoaned to reporters “being president has cost me a fortune.” In addition to other business like Trump Hotel DC, Mar-a-Lago is now charging $200,000 a person for members.
  143. NBC News calculated that in Trump’s first 673 days in office, he has spent almost one-third (217) at a Trump property, and about one-quarter (165) golfing at a Trump golf property.
  144. On Friday, New York state Supreme Court threw out Trump’s motion to dismiss, and said the NY attorney general’s lawsuit against the Trump Foundation can proceed.
  145. The judge noted a separate case has determined Trump is not immune to civil actions while serving as head of state, and said allegations of wrongdoing were strong enough to let the case go forward.
  146. On Friday, the White House quietly released a massive new federal report by the National Climate Assessment warning that national disasters like wildfires and hurricanes are worsening because of global warming.
  147. The report found warming-charged extremes “have already become more frequent, intense, widespread or of long duration,” and contradicted Trump who has been unwilling to acknowledge global warming as a cause.
  148. The report warned of worsening conditions, noting the last few years have smashed U.S. records for damaging weather, costing the U.S. nearly $400 billion since 2015.
  149. A co-author noted the recent wildfires in Northern California can be attributed to climate change, saying “a warm, dry climate has increased the areas burned over the last 20 years.”
  150. The report found the Lower 48 states have warmed 1.8 degrees since 1900 with 1.2 degrees in the last few decades alone. By the end of this century, the U.S. will be 3 to 12 degrees hotter.
  151. The report, written by outside scientists and officials from 13 federal agencies, was released on Friday afternoon, the day after Thanksgiving, prompting advocates to accuse the Trump regime of trying to bury it.
  152. Trump tweeted about cold weather on Wednesday, “Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS — Whatever happened to Global Warming?”
  153. Trump tweeted again on Thursday: “This is the coldest weather in the history of the Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC, and one of the coldest Thanksgivings on record!”
  154. The report addressed this: “Over shorter timescales and smaller geographic regions, the influence of natural variability can be larger than the influence of human activity … Over climate timescales of multiple decades, however, global temperature continues to steadily increase.”
  155. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a food safety alert warning to consumers to throw away romaine lettuce due to an outbreak of E. coli that has sickened 32 people in 11 states.
  156. Wired reported that after disease outbreaks linked to food, in 2011, Obama’s Food and Drug Administration issued rules requiring produce growers to begun testing their water, starting in 2018.
  157. However, Trump’s FDA, bowing to pressure from the farm industry and Trump’s overarching dictate to eliminate regulations, earlier this year shelved the water-testing rules for at least four years.
  158. Trump and his Mar-a-Lago guests were spared from the romaine lettuce scare on Thanksgiving. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Friday morning that the contaminated lettuce likely originated in California.
  159. On Friday, the Hollywood Reporter revealed Bill Shine, the White House communications chief will be paid by both the White House and Trump ally Fox News this year and next, according to his financial disclosure form.
  160. Shine started his White House position on July 5, and had an unusually long extension of 68 days for filing his form. Whitaker released Shine’s form on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

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Copyright Amy Siskind, November 24, 2018

Troops Deployed To U.S. Mexican Border In Texas Celebrate Thanksgiving
U.S. Army troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border eat a Thanksgiving meal at a base near the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge on November 22, 2018 in Donna, Texas. The troops were deployed by Trump just ahead of the midterm election.