W

December 01, 2018

Week 107

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

This week started with escalations, both between Russia and Ukraine, and at the U.S.-Mexico border. Heartbreaking images and video surfaced from Tijuana of migrants from Central America, including women and children, some in diapers, being showered with tear gas from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. As Trump and the regime sought to justify the use of force, and Republicans remained almost universally silent, other condemned the action, including the Auschwitz Museum which invoked the uprise of Hitler. This, as data and reporting continues to point to a dangerous uptick in right-wing violence and acts of, and normalization of, hate.

This week the Mueller probe was center stage, as Trump stepped up his attacks to discredit Mueller ahead of the findings being released. The week started with focus on Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone as possible conduits between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. Until a bombshell Thursday, when Michael Cohen outlined in a plea agreement how he misled Congress about negotiating on the Trump Tower Moscow. Cohen said negotiations continued until June 2016, and that Trump and his children were also in the loop. Cohen’s documents made clear that other members of the regime, including Donald Jr., may have lied to Congress, and also called into question Trump’s written answers in the Mueller probe, submitted under oath in recent days, on his and his campaign’s contact with Russians.

  1. WAPO reported right-wing violence is on the rise. Terrorism researchers say the trend started with white anxiety about Obama’s presidency, and has accelerated in the era of Trump.
  2. The superintendent of the Baraboo School District told parents the district is “not in a position to punish” students who made an apparent Nazi salute in a prom photo, saying “we cannot know the intentions in the hearts.”
  3. The 10-day investigation involved local authorities, parents, and others. The letter states, “because of students’ First Amendment rights, the district is not in a position to punish the students for their actions.”
  4. Police in Alabama fatally shot Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., a 21 year-old Black man who formerly served in the U.S. Army, at a Birmingham mall, after they mistook him for the gunman in a mall shooting.
  5. On Monday, a day before the run-off race for senator in Mississippi, two nooses were found hanging from trees, along with six “hate signs” at the state Capitol in Jackson.
  6. Dallas Morning News reported Ro Lockett, a 28 year-old Black man shopping with a friend and their sons, was handcuffed outside a Stonebriar Centre store after being falsely accused of shoplifting.
  7. WAPO reported an autopsy of Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, a transgender asylum seeker, who died in ICE custody weeks after arriving in the U.S. from Honduras, revealed she was beaten while in custody.
  8. Hernandez was part of a group of migrants that arrived in early May as she tried to escape violence she faced as a transgender woman. Transgender Law Center, on behalf of her family, plans to file a lawsuit.
  9. On Wednesday, AP reported the Trump regime has waived FBI checks on 2,100 caregivers and short-staffing mental health workers, putting the safety of 2,300 migrant teens living in tent cities at risk.
  10. Initially, the Department of Health and Human Services had planned to keep migrant children in the tent city in Tornillo for just a few days, but as the migrant children population ballooned, now talk is of making the detention camp 10 times as big.
  11. BCFS, a San Antonio nonprofit, runs Tornillo. The cost per night per child is $1,200, significantly higher than the $775 officials have publicly disclosed, and almost five times the cost of a typical youth migrant shelter.
  12. On Wednesday, Elizabeth Midlarsky, a Jewish professor and Holocaust scholar at Columbia Teachers College, found two spray-painted red swastikas, and the word “YID” scrawled on a wall outside her office.
  13. On Thursday, Sen. Tim Scott, the sole black GOP senator, gave the deciding opposition vote to Trump nominee Thomas Farr to the federal bench, citing Farr’s support of racially discriminatory election policies.
  14. In the New York Review of Books, Columbia professor Bernard Harcourt argued Trump is fueling a toxic blend of antebellum white supremacy, twentieth-century fascism, and European far-right movements of the 1970s.
  15. Harcourt warned Trump has enabled an upsurge of white nationalists and extremist organizations like Atomwaffen, Proud Boys, and Rise Above Movement, that threatens to push the country into violent social conflict.
  16. Two New York University researchers found that Trump in 2016 appealed to men who are secretly insecure about their manhood, calling it the “fragile masculinity hypothesis.” The same pattern continued in 2018 House races.
  17. The study measured search terms, like “erectile dysfunction,” “penis size, and “hair loss.” Fragile masculinity was not a factor for Republicans Mitt Romney in 2012, John McCain in 2008, or House races in 2014 and 2016.
  18. From 2010 through 2017, 92 of the 263 incidents of domestic terrorism were committed by right-wing attackers. Researchers say at least 20 people have died so far in 2018 in suspected right-wing attacks.
  19. On Saturday, The Guardian reported the British Parliament used its legal powers to seize internal Facebook documents, including confidential emails between senior executives, and with CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  20. The move is unprecedented. The documents allegedly contain significant revelations about Facebook decisions on data and privacy controls that led to Cambridge Analytica being able to collect user data.
  21. On Sunday, the Independent reported the U.K. High Court will rule as early as Christmas whether Brexit should be declared “void,” citing a legal case by the criminal investigation into Leave funder Arron Banks.
  22. On Sunday, Trump congratulated himself on falling oil prices, tweeting, “So great that oil prices are falling (thank you President T).” Trump also issued a warning to the Fed, “Inflation down (are you listening Fed)!”
  23. On Sunday, a judge denied George Papadopoulos’ request to delay the start of his prison time, saying he must report to a federal prison camp in Oxford, Wisconsin to begin his 14-day sentence on Monday.
  24. On Sunday, attorney Alan Dershowitz told “ABC This Week” the Mueller report is going to be “devastating” to Trump. Dershowitz added that he knows that Trump’s “team is already working on a response to the report.”
  25. On Sunday, Russia opened fire on and seized three Ukrainian ships that were sailing off the coast of Crimea. Ukraine said it was a Russian “act of aggression.” Moscow said the ships had illegally entered its waters.
  26. On Sunday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection fired tear gas into Mexico to repel Central American migrants approaching the border. Traffic in both directions was suspended at the port between San Diego and Tijuana.
  27. Tensions had been rising as thousands of migrants arrived in Tijuana, and camped outside a sports stadium. Mexican police broke up the migrants’ daily protests on Sunday, triggering a rush toward the U.S. border.
  28. CBP was backed by U.S. military police, San Diego police, and the California Highway Patrol. Migrants, many with young children who were sick and hungry, were trapped between U.S. and Mexican forces.
  29. Hundreds of mostly Honduran migrants were subjected to a volley of canisters of tear gas. Photos and videos emerged of young children, some in diapers, suffering from exposure to tear gas.
  30. An AP reporter noted “Children screamed and coughed. Fumes were carried by the wind toward people who were hundreds of feet away.” A mother trying to run with her baby, said the gas “asphyxiates you more.”
  31. Mexico’s Interior Department said about 500 people attempted to rush the border. U.S. authorities put the number at 1,000. Mexico said it would deport 98 of the migrants.
  32. On Monday, Trump tweeted “Would be very SMART if Mexico would stop the Caravans long before they get to our Southern Border,” adding, “We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!”
  33. On Monday, when asked by reporters if he was comfortable with tear-gassing children at the border, Trump responded “They had to use [it] because they were being rushed by some very tough people.”
  34. Trump also said there was “tremendous violence” during the confrontation with authorities,” adding “three Border Patrol people yesterday were very badly hurt through getting hit with rocks and stones.”
  35. A statement by CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan on Monday contradicted Trump, saying four agents were struck by rocks “but were wearing protective gear and did not suffer serious injuries.”
  36. Trump also falsely claimed “Obama had a separation policy; we all had the same policy. I tried to do it differently.” Obama did not have a separation policy, but Trump officially did with his “zero tolerance” policy.
  37. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement some migrants “sought to harm CBP personnel,” and some “women and children in the caravan are being used by the organizers as human shields.”
  38. On Monday, the Auschwitz Museum tweeted the Holocaust did not start with gas chambers, it “gradually developed from words, stereotypes & prejudice through legal exclusion, dehumanisation & escalating violence.”
  39. On Tuesday, WAPO reported the tear gas used on migrants, commonly known as CS gas, is considered a chemical weapon, and has been outlawed on the battlefield by nearly every nation, including the U.S.
  40. According to a biological and chemical weapons expert, research has noted that an infant exposed to CS gas develops severe pneumonitis and requires a month of hospitalization. Effects are not yet well documented.
  41. On Monday, in two tweets, Trump complained about CNN’s coverage and suggested that the U.S. government start its own worldwide television network in order to “show the World the way we really are, GREAT!”
  42. The Daily Beast reported according to emails obtained by the Sierra Club through the Freedom of Information Act, then EPA Chief Scott Pruitt chose topics for interviews on “Fox & Friends,” and knew questions in advance.
  43. In response to the reporting, Fox said it is disciplining employees involved in the email exchange with an aide to Pruitt. Fox would not say who was being disciplined or how, noting that it was a personnel matter.
  44. Sinclair Broadcasting distributed a two-minute commentary to its 200 local television stations featuring former Trump White House official Boris Epshteyn defending the use of tear gas on migrants at the border.
  45. Echoing language used by Trump, Epshteyn said, “The fact of the matter is that this is an attempted invasion of our country.” As of Wednesday morning, the segment had aired on at least two dozen Sinclair stations.
  46. Later Wednesday, Sinclair tried to distance itself from Epshteyn, tweeting, “The opinions expressed in this segment do not reflect the views of Sinclair Broadcast,” and “they are labeled clearly as commentary.”
  47. Author Margaret Atwood announced she will write a sequel to her landmark book “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which is also a popular TV-series. “The Testaments,” set 15 years later, will be released September 2019.
  48. Atwood tweeted, “Dear Readers, everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.
  49. Christine Blasey Ford, who has received continued death threats, moved houses four times, and hired private security since testifying, said she would donate remaining GoFundMe money to sexual assault survivors.
  50. Blasey Ford, who has not been able to return to work, said of testifying, “Although coming forward was terrifying, and caused disruption to our lives, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to fulfill my civic duty.”
  51. On Monday, Solicitor General Noel Francisco urged the Supreme Court to turn down cases on whether Trump had legally installed Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, saying the lower courts should weigh in first.
  52. On Monday, ABC News reported Jared Kushner was behind the push to inflate the Saudi arms deal to $110 billion, well over the actual number which is closer to $15 billion, to solidify the new alliance with crown prince MBS.
  53. On Tuesday, national security adviser John Bolton defended his decision to not listen to tape of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, telling reporter, “I don’t speak Arabic,” and adding “What do you think I’ll learn from it?”
  54. On Tuesday, The Guardian reported that the White House is preventing CIA director Gina Haspel from briefing the Senate on Jamal Khashoggi’s death.
  55. Instead, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis will brief the Senate on U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, ahead of a vote on whether to support the Saudi’s military campaign in Yemen.
  56. On Monday, Trump attacked the Mueller probe in two tweets, saying, “When Mueller does his final report, will he be covering all of his conflicts of interest in a preamble.” There is no evidence of conflicts of interest.
  57. Trump also tweeted, “many campaign workers, people inside from the beginning, ask me why they have not been called (they want to be),” adding “there was NO Collusion & Mueller knows it!”
  58. On Monday, Jerome Corsi told CNN he is refusing to sign a plea deal with Mueller’s team, saying “They can put me in prison the rest of my life. I am not going to sign a lie.”
  59. In a statement following Corsi’s comments, Roger Stone said the special counsel was harassing Corsi “not for lying, but for refusing to lie,” and continued to maintain his own innocence.
  60. On Monday, the special counsel said in a filing that Paul Manafort had breached the plea agreement he signed two months ago by repeatedly lying, saying he should be sentenced immediately.
  61. The filing notes Manafort’s “crimes and lies” about “a variety of subject matters” relieve the special counsel of all promises they made to him in the plea agreement. Defense lawyers disagreed Manafort had violated the deal.
  62. On Tuesday, The Guardian reported Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2013, 2015, and in March 2016. Manafort joined the Trump campaign on March 29, 2016.
  63. An internal document by Ecuador’s intelligence agency described Manafort as “one of several well-known guests. It also mentions “Russians.” In a statement, Manafort denied meeting Assange.
  64. On Tuesday, Trump again attacked Mueller in two morning tweets, saying the probe is a “Phony Witch Hunt” and that “Mueller and his gang of Angry Dems are only looking at one side, not the other.”
  65. Later Tuesday, Trump tweeted “at least 3 major players are intimating that the Angry Mueller Gang of Dems is viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts & they will get relief,” adding, “This is our Joseph McCarthy Era!”
  66. On Tuesday, NYT reported that Kevin Downing, a lawyer for Manafort, repeatedly briefed Trump’s lawyers on discussions with Mueller’s team after Manafort agreed to cooperate — a highly unusual arrangement.
  67. Rudy Giuliani defended the briefings, telling NYT they provided valuable insights about the probe and where it was headed, adding the information could help shape a legal defense strategy and public relations campaign.
  68. The briefings did not break the law, but did contribute to a deteriorating relationship between lawyers for Manafort and Mueller’s team. Downing assured Trump’s team that Manafort had not implicated him in wrongdoing.
  69. Last year, John Dowd broached the idea of pardoning Manafort and Michael Flynn. When asked by reporters Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Sanders said she had no knowledge of any conversations about a pardon for Manafort.
  70. NBC News reported according to legal experts the arrangement could amount to obstruction of justice or witness tampering if Manafort disclosed confidential information or Trump’s team discussed a pardon.
  71. On Tuesday, Corsi provided WAPO with a copy of a draft document of his statement of offense prepared by Mueller’s team as part of the plea deal, detailing ties between WikiLeaks and key associates in Trump’s orbit.
  72. According to the document, Corsi emailed Stone in early August 2016 about WikiLeaks’ plans. Nearly 10 weeks later the group published John Podesta’s hacked emails in October.
  73. Also in the document, Stone wrote to Corsi on July 25, 2016, urging him to find out Assange’s plans: “Get to [Assange] [a]t Ecuadorian Embassy in London and get the pending [WikiLeaks] emails.”
  74. Giuliani said Trump does not recall speaking to either Stone or Corsi about WikiLeaks, and that Trump’s legal team lodged a complaint last month with the DOJ about the Corsi document including Trump’s name.
  75. In the document, Mueller offered to let Corsi plead guilty to a single felony count of lying to federal investigators. Corsi rejected the deal. Giuliani said Mueller overplayed his hand: “They’ve screwed it up.”
  76. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted about the Mueller probe, saying “Wait until it comes out how horribly & viciously they are treating people, ruining lives for them refusing to lie. Mueller is a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue….”
  77. On Wednesday, CNN reported in Trump’s written answers to Mueller’s questions, he claimed Stone did not tell him about WikiLeaks, and that he was not told about the June 9 Trump Tower meeting involving Donald Jr.
  78. Both inquiries are central in the probe of whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump’s written answers could be subject to criminal charges if they are found to be false.
  79. On Wednesday, Trump told the New York Post that he never discussed a pardon with Manafort, adding “but I wouldn’t take it off the table. Why would I take it off the table?”
  80. Trump also ripped the Mueller probe, claiming Manafort, Stone, and Corsi were all asked to lie by the special counsel, saying “If you told the truth, you go to jail.” Trump also repeated his charge, “this is McCarthyism.”
  81. On Wednesday, WSJ reported that Manafort allegedly lied to Mueller’s team about his personal business dealings and about his contacts with his associate, Konstantin Kilimnik.
  82. The context is these statements do not appear to be central to the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election. It is unclear if Mueller’s team plans to accuse Manafort of additional lies.
  83. On Wednesday, WAPO reported that Mueller is looking into Trump’s late night calls to Stone from a blocked number during the campaign, to see whether Stone served as a bridge between Trump and WikiLeaks.
  84. According to the draft document of Corsi statement, Stone was in regular contact with Trump campaign officials, including “then-candidate Donald J. Trump.” Stone said Trump initiated the calls.
  85. Stone told the Post that he never discussed WikiLeaks with Trump, adding phone conversations are not that important, saying “unless Mueller has tape recordings of the phone calls, what would that prove?”
  86. According to phone records Trump’s team turned over to Mueller, there were numerous calls between Stone and Trump throughout the campaign. In midsummer, Trump associates wanted to know WikiLeaks’ plans.
  87. Corsi forwarded a request from Stone to Ted Malloch, an informal Trump adviser in London, to visit Assange and see what he has planned for the weeks leading up the election. It is not clear if Malloch did visit.
  88. On Wednesday, Trump retweeted a image posted by account “@The_Trump_Train,” which depicted Mueller, Obama, the Clintons, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, and others behind bars.
  89. Trump also retweeted a false claim from this account, “Illegals can get up to $3,874 a month under Federal Assistance program…RT if you agree: If you weren’t born in the United States, you should receive $0 assistance.”
  90. On Wednesday, Trump defended his retweeting a photo of Rosenstein behind bars, telling the New York Post in an interview, “He should have never picked a special counsel.”
  91. On Wednesday, legislation brought to the floor to protect Mueller by Sens. Jeff Flake, Chris Coons ,and Cory Booker was blocked. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it a “solution in search of a problem.”
  92. A new analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis found 84 farms in the Upper Midwest filed for bankruptcies in the 12 months ended June 2018, double the number from the same period in 2013–2014.
  93. On Monday, GM announced it plans to cut 14,800 jobs U.S. and Canada and end production at several North American factories, the first significant downsizing since its bankruptcy, citing lower sedan sales.
  94. The cuts would reduce GM’s annual costs by $4.5 billion by the end of 2020, freeing up money to invest in electric and self-driving vehicles. In reaction to the news, the company’s stock rose 4.8% on Monday.
  95. On Monday, Trump told GM CEO Mary Barra to stop making cars in China and open a plant in Ohio, “They better damn well open a new plant there very quickly,” adding, “You’re playing around with the wrong person.”
  96. On Tuesday, GM stock tumbled after Trump threatened the company, tweeting, “Very disappointed with General Motors and their CEO…We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including for electric cars.”
  97. It was not clear what subsidies Trump was referring to. The only related item is a $7,500 plug-in tax credit, which goes to the consumer, not the company. GM is also close to the 200,000 electric car cap on the credit.
  98. On Tuesday, in a wide-ranging, 20-minute interview with WAPO, Trump blamed Democrats, the Chinese government and the central bank for any economic weakness and recent declines in the stock market.
  99. He had especially tough words for his appointee Fed Chair Jerome “Jay” Powell, saying “So far, I’m not even a little bit happy with my selection of Jay. Not even a little bit,” adding, “the Fed is way off-base with what they’re doing.”
  100. When asked why he did not reappoint Janet Yellen, he said she impressed him greatly during an interview, but he believed that the 5-foot-3-inch economist was not tall enough to lead the central bank.
  101. Trump also bragged that the stock market was up 38% since he took office. This is false: the Dow Jones industrial average is up 25%, a smaller increase than during Obama’s first two years in office.
  102. Trump again questioned the CIA’s assessment that the Saudi crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s assassination, saying “Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t. But he denies it. And people around him deny it.
  103. Trump said of the recent climate change report, “One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence,” and “You look at our air and our water, and it’s right now at a record clean.”
  104. On Wednesday, Fed Chair Powell said he now sees current interest rates “just below” neutral, a departure from his remarks two months ago, suggesting the Fed was near the end of raising rates.
  105. On Thursday, Trump again attacked GM, tweeting “General Motors is very counter to what other auto…companies are doing,” adding they are “pouring into the U.S.” and BMW “just announced a major new plant.”
  106. In the tweet, Trump also repeated his frequent false claims that “Big Steel is opening and renovating plants all over the country” — a claim which has been repeatedly debunked by fact checkers.
  107. BMW issued a statement in response to Trump’s tweet, saying, “We can confirm that we are considering building an engine plant in the U.S.,” saying the option has been under consideration for the past few years.
  108. On Wednesday, at 11:39 p.m., Trump continued his attacks on the Mueller probe, tweeting, “So much happening with the now discredited Witch Hunt. This total Hoax will be studied for years!”
  109. On Thursday, at 6:54 a.m., Trump again attacked the Mueller probe in two tweets, saying “Did you ever see an investigation more in search of a crime?” and calling it “a total disgrace.”
  110. Trump called the probe an “illegal Joseph McCarthy style Witch Hunt,” which he said “has shattered so many innocent lives,” and falsely claimed has wasted more than $40 million (a tweet Tuesday claimed $30 million).
  111. On Thursday, German authorities raided Deutsche Bank’s headquarters in Frankfurt over allegations of money laundering. The public prosecutors office said 170 officials were involved in the raid.
  112. The investigation is directed at two employees and other individuals, and is based on details in the Panama Papers; although prosecutors alleged there were “sufficient indications” for the suspicious nature before that.
  113. On Thursday, Michael Cohen made a surprise appearance before a federal judge in the Southern District of New York to plead guilty to lying to Congress about his role and timing related to the Trump Tower Moscow.
  114. Cohen said he lied about negotiations on Trump Tower Moscow ending January 2016, before the Iowa Caucuses, saying they continued until June 2016, after Trump had secured the Republican nomination.
  115. Cohen gave false answers in 2017 to both the Senate and House intelligence committees in order to be consistent with Trump’s “political message.” Trump said, “I have ZERO investments in Russia,” in January.
  116. Cohen said he also lied in saying he “never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the Moscow project and ‘never considered’ asking Individual 1 to travel for the project.” Individual 1 is Trump.
  117. Cohen said he also “discussed the status and progress of the Moscow Project with Individual 1 on more than the three occasions,” and “briefed family members of Individual 1 within the Company about the project.”
  118. Cohen continued discussions on the project with “Individual 2,” Felix Sater, as late as June 2016. Cohen discussed traveling to Russia in May, and having Trump travel there after the Republican National Convention.
  119. Cohen also lied about not receiving a response and thinking the project was halted, admitting he had a 20 minute phone conversation with an assistant to Dmitry Peskov, a senior aide to Putin, on land and financing.
  120. Cohen told the judge he lied to “to be loyal to Individual 1 .” A prosecutor from Mueller’s team was present in the courtroom. Cohen’s lawyer said he has cooperated in the Mueller probe, and will continue to cooperate.
  121. When asked about Cohen’s plea deal as he left for the G20 summit, Trump said “Cohen is lying and he’s trying to get a reduced sentence for things that have nothing to do with me,” adding, “He’s a very weak person.”
  122. Trump also told reporters, “This was a project that we didn’t do, I didn’t do . . . There would be nothing wrong if I did do it.” This contradicts his earlier statements to reporters and on the campaign trail.
  123. On Thursday, in a tweet sent while aboard Air Force One, Trump canceled his scheduled meeting with Putin at the G20, citing “the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia.”
  124. Earlier in the day, as he left the White House, Trump told reporters the meeting with Putin was still on. Russian officials were caught off guard by Trump’s abrupt cancelation.
  125. On the flight to Argentina, Trump tweeted plugs for several favorable books, including ones “by @GreggJarrett and @JudgeJeanine Pirro” saying “Go get them now, the phony Witch Hunt is well explained!”
  126. As Trump arrived at the G20, a giant Baby Trump blimp was launched by activists. The blimp was created for Trump’s visit to London, and was also used at his recent trip to Paris, before being shipped to Buenos Aires.
  127. That evening, just after Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show was over, Trump quoted Alan Dershowitz, tweeting, “He (Mueller) has no authority to be a roving Commissioner. I don’t see any evidence of crimes.”
  128. On Thursday, Yahoo News reported Mueller’s team is additionally looking at Ivanka and Donald Jr.’s roles in Trump Tower Moscow, which sources say was independent of Cohen’s efforts
  129. On Thursday, BuzzFeed reported as part of the negotiations, Cohen discussed plans to give Vladimir Putin the $50 million penthouse in Trump Tower Moscow in a conversation with a representative of Dmitry Peskov.
  130. On Thursday, WAPO reported Trump has tried to expand his real estate brand to Russia for 30 years, including traveling to Moscow and unveiling four ultimately unsuccessful attempts before running for president.
  131. The latest attempt began in September 2015, and according to court documents ended on June 14, 2016, the day WAPO reported Russia was suspected to be behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee.
  132. On Thursday, federal agents stormed the City Hall office of Alderman Ed Burke in Chicago, papering over office windows. Burke was recently defeated in his re-election over his property-tax reduction work for Trump.
  133. Over 12 years of working for Trump, Burke’s law firm, Klafter & Burke was allegedly able to cut the property taxes on Trump’s downtown tower by more than $14 million. Burke stopped working for Trump last summer.
  134. On Friday, Trump sent two tweets, admitted he “lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia,” saying “Against all odds, I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool.”
  135. On Friday, NPR reported Donald Jr.’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017 conflicts with Cohen’s account. Donald Jr. claimed there was no contact on Trump Tower Moscow during 2016.
  136. On Friday, at the G20 summit in Argentina, Saudi crown prince MBS and Putin were seen greeting each other by smiling, having an exuberant handshake, then firmly embracing.
  137. On Friday, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr said his committee has worked with and made multiple referrals to Mueller for criminal prosecution, saying, “If you lie to us, we’re going to go after you.”
  138. On Friday, at a hearing for Manafort, Mueller’s team said they are considering new criminal charges, contending Manafort obstructed justice and committed additional federal crimes since entering a plea agreement.
  139. Manafort’s attorneys denied that he violated the plea deal and said they will rebut the government’s filing after they see it. Manafort, who is currently in prison, waived his right to appear in court.
  140. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered Mueller’s team to provide a report by December 7 detailing how Manafort breached the agreement, and tentatively scheduled March 5 for Manafort’s sentencing.
  141. On Friday, CNN reported that after visiting Trump at Mar-a-Lago in March 2018, Cohen believed Trump would pardon him if he stayed on message and protected his boss. Lawyers for both were in steady communications.
  142. In the days following the raid on Cohen’s home and office, Trump started to distance himself from Cohen, saying Cohen only did a “tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work. Cohen knew the game had changed.
  143. On Friday, in a filing seeking a lenient sentence, Cohen claimed he was in “close and regular contact” with Trump’s White House staff and legal team as he prepared a statement for Congress on Trump Tower Moscow.
  144. Cohen said his false statement was based on Trump team efforts to portray that contact by Trump, his campaign, and company with Russia “as having effectively terminated before the Iowa caucuses of February 1, 2016.”
  145. Cohen’s lawyers claim Cohen kept Trump “apprised” of his contacts with Russia during the campaign, and that his false statement to Congress arose from his loyalty to Trump, who they referred to throughout as “Client-1.”
  146. Cohen’s lawyers asked for a sentence of time served, citing his cooperation with Mueller, guilty pleas on payments to silence women, and cooperation in the ongoing federal investigation into the Trump Foundation.
  147. Late Friday, Trump again plugged Hannity’s show, tweeting, “Watch @seanhannity on @FoxNews NOW. Enjoy!”
  148. On Wednesday, California Democrat TJ Cox declared victory, giving Democrats their 40th pick up in the House in the midterm elections. Democrats picked up seven seats in California alone.
  149. On Thursday, retiring House Majority Leader Paul Ryan cast doubt on the “bizarre” California election results, saying “This election system they have — I can’t begin to understand what ‘ballot harvesting’ is.”
  150. On Friday, AP retracted its call in a North Carolina 9th Congressional race, saying the board of elections delayed certifying results over “claims of irregularities and fraudulent activities related to absentee by-mail voting.”
  151. The race was called for Republican Mark Harris, after Democrat Dan McCready conceded on November 9. Harris had a lead of 905 votes out of 283,000 counted. The GOP has held this district since the early 1960s.
  152. Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Maggie Hassan, along with survivors, called on Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos to rescind the just released campus sexual abuse policies, calling it a major step backwards.
  153. On Wednesday, NBC News reported the Veterans Affair Department privately told Congress that veterans who did not receive their full GI bill payments due to a computer glitch, would not be reimbursed.
  154. On Thursday, after pressure from members of both parties of Congress, the VA reversed course and promised pay veterans the full amount of benefits they are due under the Forever GI Bill.
  155. On Friday, six additional White House officials were reprimanded for violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits public employees from conducting political activity in their official roles.
  156. The staffers included Raj Shah, Jessica Ditto, Madeleine Westerhout, Helen Aguirre Ferré, Alyssa Farah, and Jacob Wood. All deleted their social media posts that were in violation for supporting Trump
  157. The Office of Special Counsel also issued guidelines Friday, warning federal workers to avoid workplace talk about impeachment and #resistance for the next 705 days — until the day after Election Day 2020.
  158. On Friday, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by Politico, Secretary Nielsen requested the deployment of civilian law enforcement officers to the U.S.-Mexico border as early as next week.
  159. Current and former U.S. officials described the request, which would draw officers from other cabinet departments who in most cases have duties entirely unrelated to border security, as unprecedented.
  160. On Friday, documents released under the FOIA revealed months after joining the advisory board of World Patent Marketing in 2014, Whitaker fielded angry complaints from customers that they were being defrauded.
  161. One customer even showed up at Whitaker’s office in Iowa. As a U.S. attorney, Whitaker was a spokesperson for the company for three years, even participating in national television ads promoting the company.
  162. When the FTC subpoenaed Whitaker for his records in October 2017, he missed the deadline to reply, then made clear he had been named chief of staff for Jeff Sessions. Whitaker never provided any of his records.
  163. The FTC eventually filed a complaint against the company for cheating customers and making false promises. Some clients lost their life savings. In May 2018, the company paid a $25 million settlement and shut down.
  164. On Friday, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said Whitaker will appear before his committee in January, when a new Democratic majority will begin ramping up oversight of the Trump regime.
  165. On Friday, a federal judge for the Southern District of New York ruled against the Trump regime’s move to withhold grant funding from law enforcement agencies of so-called sanctuary cities.
  166. Judge Edgardo Ramos called the move illegal and unconstitutional. The ruling blocked the regime from enforcing those conditions on New York, New York City, and the six states that challenged the requirements.
  167. On Friday, a federal judge put off an immediate ruling on James Comey’s request to invalidate a subpoena from House Republicans to appear at a closed-door session, asking for additional legal briefs over the weekend.
  168. In the first half of Affordable Care Act registration, enrollment is down from 2.8 million last year to 2.4 million, with the biggest drops in Pennsylvania (down 25%), Missouri (down 25%), and Ohio (down 20%).
  169. Advocates note the enrollment period has been cut in half to just 45 days, less advertising, and government spending to help consumer has dropped from $63 million in 2016, to $36 million in 2017 to $10 million this year.
  170. On Saturday, WSJ reported that the CIA has intercepted at least 11 messages sent by crown prince MBS to his closest adviser, who oversaw the team that killed Khashoggi.
  171. Trump spoke briefly to the Saudi crown prince at the G20 summit. The exchange between the two leaders was not scheduled. A White House official sought to downplay the interaction as exchanging pleasantries.

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Maria Lila Meza Castro, a 39-year-old migrant woman from Honduras, runs from tear gas with her twin daughters in front of the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, in Tijuana, on Nov. 25. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)