W

January 12, 2019

Week 113

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

This week Trump struggled to create stagecraft and find narratives to justify funding for his border wall, while keeping the government shuttered. Trump delivered a prime-time Oval Office address, visited the U.S.-Mexico border, and held an immigration round-table to make his case, while the reality of the shutdown hurt federal workers and contractors, and agencies started to cut back or cease operations and functions.

This was a week of bombshells on the Trump-Russia front, as an inadvertently unredacted filing by Paul Manafort’s attorneys revealed Manafort had delivered 2016 president campaign polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik, who the FBI believes has ties to Russian intelligence. Michael Cohen set a date to testify before the House, and Natalie Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin who attended the June 9 Trump Tower meeting was back in the news. Late Friday, a bombshell story by the Times revealed the FBI had opened an inquiry in May 2017 into whether Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.

As the week came to a close, the government shutdown reached Day 22, making it the longest shutdown in history, with no end in sight. Federal workers got their first $0 paycheck on Friday, week three of the shutdown.

  1. On Saturday, Pentagon chief of staff Kevin Sweeney resigned, after serving for two years. Sweeney is the second senior Pentagon official to depart in the wake of Jim Mattis’ resignation. Reportedly, he was forced out.
  2. NYT reported the idea of Trump’s border wall was hatched in 2014 as Trump explored a presidential run, as a memory trick for an undisciplined candidate to remember to talk about getting tough on immigration.
  3. The wall was a simple concept to feed to his base like ‘crooked Hillary’ and ‘lock her up.’ Now, Trump is obsessed by the idea of a wall because it was the most memorable and tangible promise he made during his campaign.
  4. Most Republicans privately agree with Democrats that the wall is only a minor piece of a broad set of actions needed to overhaul the immigration system. Democrats add the wall is immoral, expensive, and ineffective.
  5. On Saturday, the Trump regime sent a letter to congressional leaders demanding $5.7 billion for “a steel barrier,” as well as $800 million to address “urgent humanitarian needs” of unaccompanied migrant children.
  6. On Sunday, incoming House Intelligence chair Adam Schiff told “State of the Union” that “as one of our first acts,” he plans to make transcripts of witness interviews fully available to Mueller’s team.
  7. Rep. Schiff also said, “This is a real danger, a present danger for the United States, this rise of authoritarianism, and we need to better understand it, and we need to figure out a better strategy to counter it.”
  8. On Sunday, press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News host Chris Wallace, “nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally,” and our most vulnerable entry is at our southern border.
  9. Wallace responded, “The state department says there hasn’t been any terrorists found coming across the southern border.” Sanders tried to dance around the facts, saying terrorists are “coming a number of ways.”
  10. On Monday, NBC News reported according to May 2018 Customs and Border Protection data, just six immigrants who were in the terrorism database were stopped at the U.S.-Mexico border in the first half of 2018.
  11. The Terrorist Screening Database revealed 41 in the database from October 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, 35 of which were U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. At the northern border, 91 were stopped.
  12. On Sunday, during a trip to Israel, national security adviser, John Bolton laid out conditions for U.S. withdrawal from Syria, breaking from Trump’s previous statements of an immediate withdrawal.
  13. Bolton suggested a delay of months or years, until the Islamic State was completely defeated and Turkey provided guarantees that it would not strike Kurdish forces allied with the U.S.
  14. On Sunday, when asked by reporters about the change, Trump responded he had “never said we were doing it that quickly.” In the video of his announcement on December 9, Trump said troops are “coming back now.”
  15. On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan scolded Bolton and refused to meet with him, saying he had made a “very serious mistake” by demanding protection for U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria.
  16. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed to the Middle East to give a major speech about America’s role in the region and assure allies in the region given the unpredictable behavior and recent actions of Trump.
  17. Early drafts of the speech suggest that in a rebuke to Obama, Pompeo will say Iran is the real terrorist culprit, and suggest the country could learn from the Saudis about human rights and the rule of law. Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive countries.
  18. The drafts also applaud Saudi Arabia for purportedly bringing to killers of Jamal Khashoggi to justice — counter to the CIA and Congress findings which concluded Crown Prince MBS ordered the killing.
  19. On Thursday, Pompeo delivered a speech in Cairo, bolstering U.S. alliances with Arab autocrats, and excoriating Obama for “fundamental misunderstandings” of radical Islamism, adding, “the age of self-inflicted American shame is over.”
  20. On Sunday, Trump told reporters at the White House that he “can relate” to the furloughed federal workers who are not getting paychecks, adding, “I’m sure the people that are on the receiving end will make adjustments.”
  21. Trump also claimed, despite ample evidence to the contrary, “Many of those people that won’t be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100 percent with what I’m doing.”
  22. The shutdown, in its third week, has affected a wide range of professions, including the Coast Guard and air traffic controllers. When asked if federal workers will get a check on Friday, Trump said “we’ll see what happens.”
  23. Trump also said he “informed my folks to say that we’ll build a steel barrier” at his weekend meeting at Camp David with senior officials, adding the Democrats “don’t like concrete, so we’ll give them steel.”
  24. On Monday, in a series of tweets, Trump attacked the media, saying “the Fake News & totally dishonest Media concerning me and my presidency has never been worse,” adding “Many have become crazed lunatics.”
  25. Trump accused the media of hiding his successes, tweeting “The Fake News will knowingly lie and demean” to make him look as bad as possible, and “use non-existent sources & write stories that are total fiction.”
  26. Trump also tweeted, “The Fake News Media in our Country is the real Opposition Party,” adding, “It is truly the Enemy of the People! We must bring honesty back to journalism and reporting!”
  27. Trump criticized coverage of his shift on troop withdrawal from Syria: “The Failing New York Times has knowingly written a very inaccurate story on my intentions on Syria. No different from my original statements.”
  28. Hours later, NYT reported Trump said he would deliver a prime-time address on Tuesday, and visit the southern border on Thursday to make a case for his wall and to cast immigration as a national security crisis.
  29. Trump’s address sparked debate inside and outside TV networks, noting Trump’s frequent lies, fear-mongering, and attacks on the press. That day, networks did decide to cover Trump’s address from the Oval Office.
  30. Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence on his behalf, threatened that Trump may consider using “emergency powers” to order that the wall be built, and Democrats continued to call out Trump’s falsehoods.
  31. On Monday, Day 17, the impacts of the shutdown spread including mortgage applications being delayed, public companies unable to get approval to raise capital, and Secret Service agents working without pay.
  32. Seeking to minimize public outrage, the Trump regime directed the Internal Revenue Service to issue tax refunds during the shutdown.The IRS workers called back from furlough to process checks were unpaid.
  33. On Monday, the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents 61,000 pilots, sent Trump a scathing letter urging him to immediately end the shutdown, saying it could adversely affect safety and security.
  34. On Tuesday, the Detroit Free Press reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the agency responsible for inspecting defects in cars, trucks, and SUVs, said it will not be doing so during the shutdown.
  35. On Tuesday, WAPO reported the shutdown is hindering some of the poorest college students from receiving federal student loans and grants, including Pell grants, student loans, and other forms of financial aid.
  36. On Tuesday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called on Congress to end the government shutdown, saying in a letter, “The shutdown is harming the American people, the business community, and the economy.”
  37. On Tuesday, a Reuters-Ipsos found a growing number of Americans blame Trump for the shutdown: 51% blame Trump, up 4 points from 2 weeks ago, while just 32% blame congressional Democrats.
  38. On Tuesday, ahead of his prime-time address, Trump invited representatives from cable and broadcast news channels to an off-the-record lunch, including Bill Shine, Kellyanne Conway, and Sarah Sanders.
  39. NYT reported that Trump dismissed his own new strategy of giving a speech and going to Texas as pointless, telling reporters “It’s not going to change a damn thing,” but that Shine, Conway, and Sanders think it’s worth it.
  40. Ahead of Trump’s address from the Oval Office, WAPO compiled a fact-checking cheat sheet of 20 false assertions related to immigration recently used repeatedly by Trump and the regime to make the case for his wall.
  41. WAPO dispelled the notion that the situation at the border is a national crisis , as  apprehensions have been declining since 2000. They also clarified that the wall is not being paid for by Mexico, the wall has not been built, and other repeated lies.
  42. Before his address, the Trump campaign emailed an urgent fundraising appeal to supporters in Trump’s name, saying “I want to do something so HUGE, even Democrats and the Fake News won’t be able to ignore.”
  43. In a 9-minute address, Trump painted a misleading and bleak picture of the situation at the southern border. He inflated numbers, exaggerated public safety risks, and repeated false claims about funding the wall.
  44. Although speeches from the Oval Office are typically used to unify the country, Trump used it to try to gain a political advantage. Trump did not declare a national emergency, despite threats during the day he might.
  45. Trump started the address with a lie that the U.S. has a “growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border,” and inflated or gave misleading numbers related to arrests, sex crimes, and violent killings.
  46. Trump falsely claimed the “border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs.” While 90% of illegal drugs come from Mexico, virtually all of it comes through legal points of entry, so the wall would not address this.
  47. Trump also again falsely claimed “The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.” Trump made this same promise more than 200 times during the presidential campaign.
  48. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered a joint response, saying Democrats want to reopen the government, immigrants are not a security threat, and that Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall but it has not.
  49. TV hosts said Trump’s speech offered little in the way of news, but rather featured points, including misinformation, that he has said repeatedly as part of his speeches and tweets. Critics said the networks got played.
  50. According to numbers from Nielsen, the Pelosi-Schumer response rated slightly higher than Trump’s address, as many organized on social media to boycott the address, saying the networks should not have covered it.
  51. Also during Trump’s address, over 100,000 viewers instead watched Stormy Daniels fold clothes on Instagram Live with the song Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” playing in the background.
  52. On Tuesday, Donald Jr. showed support for his father’s wall, with an Instagram post comparing the wall to a zoo fence, saying, “You know why you can enjoy a day at the zoo? Because walls work.”
  53. On Wednesday, rating agency Fitch said the U.S. is in danger of losing its triple-A sovereign credit rating, citing the ongoing government shutdown.
  54. On Wednesday, WAPO reported the Food and Drug Administration, whose inspectors oversee 80% of the country’s food supply, has suspended all routine inspections of domestic food-processing facilities.
  55. On Wednesday, a meeting between Trump and congressional leaders over the shutdown collapsed when Trump stormed out. The meeting started with Democratic leaders pleading with Trump to reopen the government.
  56. Democrats claimed Trump asked Speaker Pelosi “Will you agree to my wall?’”She said no, then he reportedly got up, slammed his hand on the table, and said “Then we have nothing to discuss,” then walked out.
  57. Shortly after, Trump tweeted “Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time,” saying he asked for Border Security including a wall, and when “Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!”
  58. On Wednesday, in a meeting with Senate Republicans, Trump threatened to circumvent Congress and declare a national emergency to get funds to build his wall, if he does not get what he wants from “Chuck and Nancy.”
  59. WAPO reported that Trump, who views himself as a “gut politician,” is finding his arsenal of bluster, falsehoods, threats, and theatrics has not worked as a negotiator, now that the Democrats control the House.
  60. Trump continues to believe that federal workers support him, telling reporters the workers “are on my side” and adding they would be paid and “be happy.” Trump also remarkably said, “This is not a fight I wanted.”
  61. On Wednesday, the National Treasury Employees Union became the second union to sue the Trump regime. The union workers, including Border Protection officers, are being forced to work without pay.
  62. On Wednesday, the House passed another bill that would end the shutdown, reopening several agencies, without money for Trump’s wall. Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the bill from coming to the Senate floor.
  63. On Wednesday, Trump ended his day by attacking the media, tweeting: “the Mainstream Media has NEVER been more dishonest than it is now,” adding, “They are truly the Opposition Party working with the Dems.”
  64. Trump complained that the media “quickly leaked the contents” of an “OFF THE RECORD luncheon,” adding, “Who would believe how bad it has gotten with the mainstream media, which has gone totally bonkers!”
  65. Trump then retweeted four flattering posts by Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, a pro-Trump organization, saying, “We support the shutdown for a wall!” and “Stand your ground.”
  66. On Thursday, in response to Schumer describing Trump’s behavior in the Wednesday meeting as a “temper tantrum,” Trump tweeted, “Cryin Chuck told his favorite lie when he used his standard sound bite.”
  67. Trump also denied allegations about his temperament by Democrats, tweeting “after Nancy said no to proper Border Security, I politely said bye-bye and left, no slamming!”
  68. On Thursday, Trump admitted Mexico would not pay directly for his wall, telling reporters outside the White House, “When I said Mexico would pay for the wall….obviously I never meant Mexico would write a check.”
  69. In fact, Trump did say numerous times on the campaign trail that Mexico would pay for the wall, and his campaign also outlined steps he would take to compel Mexico to directly pay $5 to 10 billion for his wall.
  70. On Thursday, in a conference call with reporters, the president of the FBI Agents Association said 5,000 special agents, intelligence analysts, attorneys, and professional staff are currently furloughed without pay.
  71. He warned of reduced staffing for “critical functions that support field operations,” adding, “We really feel that the financial insecurities we are facing right now equate to a national-security issue.”
  72. He also warned of a mounting backlog at Quantico labs, which provide forensic-analysis support services, and said funds supporting drug trafficking and undercover operations have been dangerously limited.
  73. With FBI morale already in steady decline with the barrage of attacks by Trump resulting in a loss of trust in the institution, the Atlantic reported there’s talk of staging a mass “sick-out” if funding is not restored.
  74. As Trump made his way to McAllen, Texas for his border visit, the historic Cine El Rey Theater posted on its sign: “Welcome to McAllen — The 7th Safest City in America.”
  75. Trump held a press conference in McAllen, surrounded by border agents, victims of crimes, a display of illegal drugs, an AK-47 and an AR-15 rifle, and a trash bag stuffed with cash confiscated by law enforcement officials.
  76. Trump called the situation a “crisis,” saying the only solution was his wall, although the props for the press conference were mostly from criminals at international bridges and conventional ports of entry.
  77. After, Trump traveled a few miles south of McAllen for an exclusive interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on a bluff overlooking Mexico, with border agents, military vehicles, and a helicopter flyover for effect.
  78. Trump told Hannity he may declare a national emergency, saying “If we don’t make a deal with Congress, most likely I will do that,” adding, “because I’m allowed to do it. The law is 100 percent on my side.”
  79. During his trip to McAllen, Trump canceled his Davos trip, citing “the Democrats intransigence on Border Security” and the “great importance of Safety for our Nation” in a tweet.
  80. Hours earlier Trump had said his trip to Davos was still on, telling reporters before he departed, “I have planned to go; it’s been very successful when I went. We have a great story to tell.”
  81. On Thursday, NBC News reported under a proposal, Trump could take billions set aside to fund civil works projects at disaster areas to pay for his wall by declaring a national emergency.
  82. The money is designated for projects all over the country, including $2.5 billion for reconstruction of Puerto Rico and $2.4 billion for projects in California, through fiscal year 2020.
  83. Senior Defense Department officials discussed the proposal with Trump on the flight to McAllen. The 315 mile barrier would be 30-feet high with a feature designed to prevent climbing, and would take 18 months to build.
  84. On Thursday evening, Trump tweeted, “Dear Diary…,” sharing a video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta in McAllen, saying of a steel fence, “Occasionally migrants come thru but residents say their community is quite safe.”
  85. Donald Jr. then joined in, and had back and forth jabs in tweets with Acosta. Donald Jr. then retweeting a doctored video depicting Acosta getting run over by a golf cart.
  86. Also late Thursday, Trump tweeted, “We lose 300 Americans a week, 90% of which comes through the Southern Border,” saying the number would drastically decrease with his wall. It was unclear what Trump meant.
  87. On Monday, Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell was fired after saying a racial slur -“Martin Luther coon King Jr. Park” — during a live weather broadcast from Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park in Rochester, New York.
  88. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam granted Cyntoia Brown clemency, following calls, petitions and messages from supporters. Brown, a Black woman, could have served 51 years in prison for self-defense at age 16.
  89. Police in Ventura, California are investigating a swastika painted outside Temple Beth Torah as a hate crime. There have been several reported cases of hate incidents in Ventura County in the past two years.
  90. A new study published in Educational Researcher found school bullying among seventh and eighth graders in areas that voted for Trump were 18% higher than students living in areas that went for Hillary Clinton.
  91. On Thursday, NYT published an interview of Rep. Steve King in which he asks, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”
  92. The Times reported Trump’s first hire for the 2016 presidential primary in Iowa, Chuck Laudner, was a former chief of staff to Rep. King, and that Rep. King has been has further emboldened with Trump in power.
  93. On Friday, the Trump regime removed all teenagers from a tent camp for unaccompanied migrants in Tornillo, Texas, after a federal watchdog warned about “serious safety and health” concerns at the facility.
  94. About 5,500 of the 6,200 teens who cycled through Tornillo since June have been released to a parent or guardian while they await the outcome of their immigration cases, and 700 were transferred to other facilities.
  95. The tent city, originally intended to house migrants for 30 days, but ultimately were used and expanded over seven months amidst criticism from lawmakers, will be dismantled.
  96. Germany news agency Deutsche Welle reported the Trump regime quietly downgraded the European Union mission to the U.S. from member state to international organization. EU officials were not notified of the change.
  97. The State Department did not respond to EU officials or press on the issue, citing limited operations due to the government shutdown. The downgrade reverses an Obama-era enhanced EU diplomatic role.
  98. On Tuesday, an unsealed indictment revealed Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Donald Jr. at Trump Tower, was charged with obstructing justice in a separate money-laundering investigation.
  99. The indictment cited Veselnitskaya made a “misleading declaration” to the court in 2015 while representing Prevezon Holdings, as part of a civil case arising from into suspected Russian money laundering and tax fraud.
  100. The Prevezon case, originally brought by Preet Bharara for $230 million before he was fired, was mysteriously settled by then Attorney General Jeff Sessions two days before trial for $5.8 million in Week 37.
  101. The indictment argues Veselnitskaya has worked closely with senior Russian officials for years. She is also a central figure in Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  102. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to intercede in a mysterious fight over a sealed grand jury subpoena to a corporation owned by an unnamed foreign government by Mueller’s team.
  103. The court’s action means the corporation must provide information to Mueller’s team, or face financial penalties. The order also vacated chief justice John Roberts’ temporary stay.
  104. On Tuesday, a filing by Paul Manafort’s attorneys, which inadvertently included details not intended to be made public, revealed Manafort shared 2016 presidential campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik.
  105. Kilimnik, a business associate of Manafort, is believed by the FBI to have ties to Russian intelligence. In the filing, Manafort’s attorneys deny that he broke his plea deal by lying repeatedly to Mueller’s team.
  106. In the unredacted filing, Mueller’s team alleged that Manafort “lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik,” and lied about discussing a Ukrainian peace plan with Kilimnik during the 2016 campaign.
  107. Michael Cohen has said he was given a Russian-friendly peace plan for Ukraine by a Ukrainian lawmaker and Felix Sater in January 2017, which would have paved the way for the U.S. to lift sanctions on Russia.
  108. On Thursday, NYT reported attendance by at least a dozen Ukrainian political and business figures at Trump’s inauguration got Mueller’s attention, and spawned several related inquiries by federal prosecutors.
  109. Indications are that at least some of the Ukrainians, who paid at least $25,000 per ticket for inauguration events, were there promoting “peace” plans that aligned with Russia’s interests, including lifting U.S. sanctions.
  110. According to information disclosed in the Manafort filing, he told Kilimnik to pass polling data to two Ukrainian oligarchs who helped finance the Russia-aligned Ukrainian political parties for which Manafort had worked.
  111. One of the two oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin, attended the Liberty Ball. Within days of the inauguration, Trump’s White House made inquiries to the State Department and Congress about easing Russian sanctions.
  112. The abrupt shift set off alarms. Several officials said that the National Security Council under Mike Flynn inquired whether Ukraine was really part of Russia and whether Crimea wanted to be part of Russia.
  113. On Thursday, Michael Cohen announced that he will voluntarily testify before the House Oversight Committee on February 7, a month before he begins a three-year prison term in March.
  114. House Oversight Committee chair Elijah Cummings said the hearing will be public, and that Mueller cleared Cohen’s testimony before it was agreed to, meaning it can include Trump Tower Moscow and other Russian ties.
  115. On Wednesday, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Elections Ltd, was fined by the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office for failing to comply with the ICO notice to return information to Prof. David Carroll.
  116. Carroll, who is U.S. based, sued to get his personal data back in Week 47, saying he was one of millions who had his information harvested. The company refused to disclose how much data they held or how they used it.
  117. On Thursday, WSJ reported on a hack by Russia of America’s electric system. U.S. officials were so concerned by the hack, they took the unusual step in early 2018 of publicly blaming the Russian government.
  118. The Journal reconstructed the hack, revealing glaring vulnerabilities. Rather than strike the utilities, the Russian hackers went after the system’s unprotected underbelly — hundreds of contractors and subcontractors.
  119. Russian hackers planted malware on sites of online publications, sent out fake résumés with tainted attachments, and slipped through hidden portals to get into systems that monitor and control electricity flows.
  120. On Wednesday, WAPO reported that newly arrived White House Counsel Pat Cipollone has hired 17 lawyers in recent weeks to help in a new strategy to strongly assert Trump’s executive privilege.
  121. The strategy would prevent Trump’s confidential discussions with top advisers from being disclosed to House Democratic investigators, and revealed in Mueller’s report. Cipollone is coordinating with Emmet Flood.
  122. The White House Counsel’s Office was down to fewer than 20 lawyers late last year, compared with 40 to 50 in past administrations. Cipollone has plans to bolster the ranks to 40 in the coming weeks.
  123. On Wednesday, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the Mueller probe and was a frequent target of Trump, said he will resign as soon as Trump’s attorney general nominee is confirmed.
  124. NBC News reported Rosenstein intends to stay on until the Mueller probe is complete. A source said that would mean Rosenstein would remain until early March. Officials said Rosenstein was not being forced out by Trump.
  125. On Wednesday, as GOP senators promise Trump’s nominee for attorney general William Barr will not touch the Mueller probe, Barr has refused to meet with most Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  126. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the regime cited the “truncated schedule” as an excuse, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she was refused as the DOJ cited reduced staff and resources due to the partial government shutdown.
  127. On Friday, Rudy Giuliani told the Hill that Trump’s team should be allowed to “correct” Mueller’s final report before Congress or the American people get the chance to read it.
  128. On Friday, CNN reported the Trump Organization has hired Stefan Passantino, a lawyer who formerly worked in the White House Counsel’s Office, to oversee the response to investigations by House Democrats.
  129. On Wednesday, Trump threatened to cut off Federal Emergency Management Agency aid to California, tweeting: “Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money.”
  130. Trump also tweeted, “It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!” The FEMA response for clarification by WAPO read, “Due to the federal funding hiatus, we are not able to respond to general press queries.”
  131. On Wednesday, Speaker Pelosi, whose district is in California, tweeted that Trump’s threat “insults the memory of scores of Americans who perished in wildfires last year & thousands more who lost their homes.”
  132. On Tuesday, the chairs of seven House committees sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin demanding information on why sanctions against Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s businesses were lifted.
  133. On Thursday, Mnuchin delivered a classified briefing to U.S. House lawmakers. Mnuchin, who served as the Trump campaign’s national finance chairman in 2016, has up until now faced little scrutiny.
  134. Pelosi slammed Mnuchin for “wasting” lawmakers’ time during the classified briefing, saying his remarks give “stiff competition” for “one of the worst classified briefings we have received” from the Trump regime.
  135. On Wednesday, four Democratic senators requested information from the EPA about a financial filing which revealed a $50,000 donation to Scott Pruitt’s legal defense fund from a Republican donor and businesswoman.
  136. Forbes reported Trump sold $35 million of real estate in 2018. Although Eric and Don Jr. are running day-to-day operations, Trump kept ownership of the business, which has continued to liquidate properties.
  137. On Monday, Jim Yong Kim, the president of the 189-nation World Bank, said he would resign, three years before his term expires. As the U.S. is the largest shareholder in the bank, Trump will appoint his successor.
  138. On Friday, Financial Times reported Ivanka Trump is being considered to replace Kim, whose sudden departure leaves the bank’s future uncertain. The Trump regime has been negatively inclined towards the bank.
  139. On Friday, Trump suggested a path to citizenship for specialized visa holders, tweeting: “H1-B [sic] holders in the United States can rest assured” changes are coming soon. The H1-B program is for highly skilled workers.
  140. Trump also tweeted, “We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people.” It was unclear what Trump meant. The regime has tightened regulations that govern the program.
  141. On Friday, as many as 800,000 federal workers missed their paycheck, the first in the three weeks of the shutdown. Missing paychecks are likely to trigger at least some unemployment claims and resignations.
  142. WAPO reported furloughed workers are selling household and personal items on websites like Craigslist and Facebook to try to make ends meet. Many Americans continue to live from paycheck to paycheck.
  143. Tampa International Airport, working with United Way, started a food bank for the airport’s 700 Transportation Security Administration, CBP, and Federal Aviation Administration employees, which will open Monday.
  144. On Friday, pictures shared by the National Park Service and National Parks Traveler showed vandals in the currently unstaffed Joshua Tree National Park cut down Joshua trees to make new roads into out-of-bounds areas.
  145. On Friday, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, whose 16,000 controllers are working without pay, became the third union to sue the government over the shutdown.
  146. On Friday, unions with a combined 244,000 members of federal and government employees, weather service, and machinists, and aerospace workers also filed suit demanding full compensation plus overtime.
  147. On Friday, Foreign Policy reported that U.S. diplomats are filing for unemployment benefits and seeking school lunches for their children, while Pompeo is making unpaid workers organize an upcoming conference.
  148. A group of current and former employees pooled money to buy groceries for their colleagues who are running out of money, while others fundraise for janitors and other low-level contractors, who will not get back pay.
  149. On Friday,Trump ally Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Mark Meadows said in a tweet that Trump should “use asset forfeiture money” to pay for the wall, and if not, “he should declare a national emergency.”
  150. On Friday, Senate Leader McConnell adjourned the Senate before 2 p.m. for the weekend, ensuring the government shutdown, then tied for the longest at 21 days, will be the longest in U.S. history.
  151. On Friday, Trump during an immigration roundtable at the White House, Trump told reporters he could call a national emergency but would “rather not,” calling it an “easy way out,” and saying instead Congress should act.
  152. Later Friday, Speaker Pelosi told reporters on the protracted shutdown: “It’s a temper tantrum by the president. I’m the mother of five, grandmother of nine. I know a temper tantrum when I see one.”
  153. A new NPR/Ipsos poll found, as the shutdown matched the longest in history on Friday, three-quarters of Americans say the shutdown is “embarrassing for the country,” including 58% of Republicans.
  154. The polls also found that 71% of Americans believe the shutdown will hurt our country, and 72% think Congress should pass a bill to reopen the government now while budget talks continue.
  155. On Thursday, Politico reported Trump’s White House reached out to allies and conservative activist groups to prepare for an ailing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s possible death or departure from the Supreme Court.
  156. On Friday, the Supreme Court issued a statement saying Justice Ginsburg shows “no evidence of remaining disease,” and her recovery is “on track.” This week, for the first time, Ginsburg missed oral arguments.
  157. On Friday, a NYT bombshell reported the F.B.I. opened investigations into Trump almost immediately after he fired James Comey, including whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.
  158. The investigation included a counterintelligence component into whether Trump’s actions constituted a threat to national security, and whether he was knowingly working for Russia or had fallen under their influence.
  159. The investigation had a criminal component, considering whether the Comey firing was obstruction of justice. F.B.I. agents grew suspicious of Trump during the campaign given his statements and the change in RNC platform.
  160. The criminal and counterintelligence elements were coupled together into one investigation, because if Trump fired Comey to impede or end the Russia investigation, that would be a crime and national security concern.
  161. In the months before the election, the F.B.I. was already investigating four Trump associates for ties to Russia. Agents were also concerned about claims in the Steele dossier that Russians could blackmail or bribe Trump.
  162. Investigators were also troubled by Trump’s NBC News interview after firing Comey, as well as his Oval Office meeting with Russian officials where he said, “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
  163. Given the historic nature of investigating a sitting president, agents were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry. But Trump twice publicly tying the Comey firing to the Russia investigation prompted them to take action.
  164. Mueller’s team took over the inquiry into Trump when he was appointed, just days after it had been opened. Agents were concerned Trump would appoint a new F.B.I. head who would impede the investigations.
  165. Giuliani told NYT, “I think it’s of no concern at all. It goes back a year and a half ago. If they found something that imperiled national security, they would have had to report it,” adding it shows “how out of control they are.”
  166. On Friday, press secretary Sanders denounced the Times reporting, saying “This is absurd. James Comey was fired because he’s a disgraced partisan hack,” adding, unlike Obama, “Trump has actually been tough on Russia.”
  167. Reuters reported Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at the Russia Calling annual forum, said Russia would supply soy beans and poultry meat to China given that the U.S. had effectively given up on that market.
  168. On Wednesday, Russian news agency TASS reported the head of Russia’s Roscosmos State Space Corporation had his visit to the U.S. at NASA’s invitation canceled because the “second American civil war” is underway.
  169. As midnight passed on Saturday, the government shutdown became the longest in U.S. history, breaking the previous record of 21 days in 1995–1996 under former President Bill Clinton.
  170. On Friday, NYT reported Republican lawmakers and aides are privately concerned with Trump’s handling of the shutdown, and admit even members of his own party do not know what to expect from him.
  171. Trump has undercut Vice President Mike Pence, his delegate meant to negotiate an end to the stalemate, on several occasions. Kushner has also been brought on, but given his inexperience has not been productive.
  172. White House officials acknowledge Trump dove into the fight with no clear end game. Trump and Republicans also wrongly assumed that when federal workers missed their first paycheck Friday, Democrats would cave.
  173. On Saturday, Trump sent a Twitter storm of 12 tweets before noon on topics related to the Times, the FBI, former FBI Director James Comey, Hillary Clinton, Robert Mueller, and the government shutdown.
  174. Trump tweeted, “Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI” opened an investigation for no reason and with no proof “after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!”
  175. Trump raged, tweeting on Comey: “Everybody wanted him fired, Republican and Democrat alike…after the rigged & botched Crooked Hillary investigation, where she said she didn’t know anything (a lie).”
  176. Trump also tweeted: “the FBI was in complete turmoil (see N.Y. Post) because of Comey’s poor leadership,” adding “My firing of James Comey was a great day for America. He was a Crooked Cop.”
  177. Trump also tweeted that Comey was being “protected by his best friend, Bob Mueller, & the 13 Angry Democrats,” who have “NO interest in going after the Real Collusion (and much more) by Crooked Hillary Clinton.”
  178. Trump also tweeted, “I have been FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton,” adding, “as I have often said, getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing.”
  179. Trump also tweeted, “Lyin’ James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter S and his lover, agent Lisa Page” are all “part of the Witch Hunt. Remember the “insurance policy?” This is it!”
  180. Trump then shifted to the government shutdown, tweeting: “Democrats should come back to Washington and work to end the Shutdown,” adding, “I am in the White House waiting for you!”
  181. Trump then quoted some misleading statistics, and tweeted: “Democrats come back!” adding, “Democrats could solve the Shutdown in 15 minutes! Call your Dem Senator or Congresswoman..Humanitarian Crisis.”
  182. Trump also tweeted, “I just watched a Fake reporter from the Amazon Washington Post say the White House is ‘chaotic,’” and “the Fakes always like talking Chaos,” but “there’s almost nobody in the W.H. but me.”
  183. Trump also tweeted: “We have a massive Humanitarian Crisis at our Southern Border,” adding, “We will be out for a long time unless the Democrats come back from their “vacations” and get back to work.”

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Government workers protest the government shutdown during a demonstration in the Federal Building Plaza on January 10, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. The protest, on the 20th day of a partial shutdown, was one of several held around the country today.