W

February 16, 2019

Week 118

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

This was a jarring week as Trump declared a national emergency after Congress refused to fund his wall — perhaps his most brazen authoritarian act yet. Trump’s predilection not to govern, but rather rule by an unprecedented executive fiat, set off alarm bells for Constitutional separation of powers, as Trump departed early Friday for a weekend of golf at Mar-a-Lago.

This week the Mueller probe made news as reporting indicated Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort discussed a peace plan for Ukraine and handed off internal polling data in a secretive meeting to a business associate with ties to Russian intelligence, and a search warrant revealed Roger Stone was in direct contact with WikiLeaks while interacting with the Trump campaign —both in the months before the 2016 election.

At a Trump campaign-style event in El Paso, a BBC cameraman was physically assaulted by a supporter — symbolic of Trump’s continued attacks on the media and his stoking of hatred against marginalized communities. Trump’s speech in El Paso and his declaring a manufactured emergency in Rose Garden were both a repetition of disproven lies and exaggerations, as Trump continues to propagate a dystopian alternate reality and act unilaterally.

  1. A CNN poll found 51% of American approve of the way Mueller is handling the investigation, while just 35% approve of the way Trump is responding. 33% believe Trump and 56% Mueller.
  2. On impeachment, 61% believe if Trump authorized his campaign to coordinate with Russia he should be impeached, while 65% support it if Mueller’s report finds Trump tried to interfere in the investigation.
  3. On Saturday, Trump appeared to mock the Trail of Tears, tweeting: “Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race,” adding, “See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!”
  4. Thousands of Native Americans died in the forced relocation. Conservatives tried to defend the statement noting Trump’s lack of historical knowledge, despite his pattern of insulting Native Americans.
  5. Donald Jr. also made light of the Trail of Tears, quoting Trump’s tweet and adding, “Savage!!! Love my President.”
  6. On Sunday, actor Rob Lowe deleted a tweet mocking Sen. Warren over her past Native American ancestry claims which said she “would bring a whole new meaning to Commander in ‘Chief.” He later apologized.
  7. On Sunday, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told “Fox News Sunday” if Congress will not give Trump money for his border wall, “we will go off and find the money someplace else,” adding, “sort of move money around.”
  8. Mulvaney also said the regime was close to identifying the source of the leaks of Trump’s daily schedule, adding based on his work at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “it’s nearly impossible to fire a federal worker.”
  9. On Sunday, Trump defended last week’s reporting on his Executive Time, tweeting “it should have been reported as a positive, not negative,” adding, “I probably work more hours than almost any past President.”
  10. Trump also tweeted, “The fact is, when I took over as President, our Country was a mess,” adding several examples of why, and saying, “I had no choice but to work very long hours!”
  11. Later Sunday, Axios reported a White House staffer had leaked an additional four days of Trump’s private schedules from last week. Trump spent 50% of his time in “Executive Time” during those days.
  12. On Sunday, Trump took a swipe at global warming and Amy Klobuchar, tweeting: “Klobuchar announced that she is running for President, talking proudly of fighting global warming while standing in a virtual blizzard.”
  13. On Monday, Rep. Ilhan Omar apologized after tweets saying support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby,” which drew condemnation from fellow Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
  14. On Monday, Trump told reporters of Rep. Omar, “I think she should be ashamed of herself,” adding “I think it was a terrible statement and I don’t think her apology was adequate.”
  15. On Tuesday, Trump called on Rep. Omar to resign and called her “terrible,” adding “she should either resign from Congress or she should certainly resign from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”
  16. On Wednesday, Rep. Omar responded, tweeting, “You have trafficked in hate your whole life — against Jews, Muslims, Indigenous, immigrants, black people and more. I learned from people impacted by my words. When will you?”
  17. On Monday, the Roosevelt School District on Long Island said it had taken appropriate action after teachers displayed two nooses as part of a large classroom collage under the term “back to school necklaces.”
  18. On Monday, Ruben Diaz Sr., a member of the New York City Council, said the legislative body is “controlled by the homosexual community.” The speaker of the council demanded an apology, Diaz refused.
  19. On Monday, Democrats sought to put a cap on ICE detention beds, saying it will force the Trump regime “to prioritize deportation for criminals and people who pose real security threats, not law-abiding immigrants.”
  20. The Trump regime asked for 52,000 beds given its claim that the number illegally crossing the border has reached 2,000 per day. Democrats are looking for a cap at 16,500 beds, the level as Obama left office.
  21. On Tuesday, rapper 21 Savage was released from ICE custody on bond after being detained in Week 117 for overstaying his visa. ICE refused to answer why it had originally refused to release him on bond.
  22. On Tuesday, Republicans in Wisconsin’s state legislature blocked a resolution to recognize Black History Month, citing the resolution mentioned the former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
  23. The Sandusky Register reported city leaders of Sandusky, Ohio declared Election Day will become a paid holiday, replacing Columbus Day. The city is 69% white, 23% black, 7% Hispanic, and 0.4% Native American.
  24. On Tuesday, Guardian reported that advocates say the Trump regime is continuing to separate families at the border, despite claims the practice ceased with the end of “zero tolerance,” including in El Paso, Texas.
  25. Daily Beast reported a Trump regime report released Tuesday revealed the regime is considering using Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, to house detained unaccompanied immigrant children.
  26. Environmental law experts say Goodfellow, formerly used as a landfill site, is toxic and could pose serious health risks including exposure to multiple toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and contaminated groundwater.
  27. On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Customs and Border Protection on behalf of two American women who were stopped inside a convenience store in Montana in Week 80 for speaking Spanish.
  28. The lawsuit claimed the women were shocked when the agent said their accent was “very strong” and asked where they were born. The agent said he was “dead serious” and asked to see their identification.
  29. The agent also said speaking Spanish “is very unheard of up here.” CBP agents have the authority to detain and question people up to 100 miles from an international border.
  30. On Thursday, AP reported the commander for the Portland, Oregon police rapid response team exchanged friendly text messages with the leader of right-wing extremist group, Patriot Prayer.
  31. According to a member of Portland’s city council, Lt. Jeff Niiya exchanged collaborative text messages with Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson to provide aid and support for the group’s plans to demonstrate.
  32. Fox News refused to air a national advertisement for “A Night at the Garden,” an Oscar-nominated documentary about the 1939 Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden. The ad was titled “It Can Happen Here.”
  33. On Monday, Michael Cohen postponed his testimony scheduled for this week before the Senate Intelligence Committee due to post surgery medical needs. This is Cohen’s third postponement in February.
  34. YouTube announced it will longer recommend videos that “come close to” violating its community guidelines, including conspiracy theory videos. Experts say the goal had been to keep people on the site to see ads.
  35. On Tuesday, ranking Democrat Mark Warner said he “respectfully” disagrees with Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr that the committee has not found evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.
  36. In a rare public split of the leaders, Warner told reporters, “I’m not going to reach any conclusion until we finish the investigation. And we still have a number of the key witnesses to come back.”
  37. Warner also noted that the Senate has not uncovered direct evidence: “We were never going to find a contract signed in blood saying, ‘Hey Vlad, we’re going to collude,’” but there may be circumstantial evidence.
  38. Warner added, “there’s never been a campaign in American history that during the campaign and its aftermath that the campaign folks affiliated with the campaign had as many ties with Russia as the Trump campaign.”
  39. Among the key witnesses to testify or come back is Cohen, who Burr said “any good will that might have existed…is now gone” after Cohen was seen out with friends on Saturday night and then postponed his testimony.
  40. Burr also added he would prefer Cohen appear before the committee prior to going to prison on March 6, but “the way he’s positioning himself [by] not coming to the committee, we may help him go to prison.”
  41. The Atlantic reported despite Burr claiming Christopher Steele had not responded to the committee’s attempts to engage with him, Democratic aides say Steele submitted written answers to the committee in August.
  42. Another contention is Burr’s unwillingness to hire outside investigators, which experts saw as a “red flag” given the complex nature of the investigation, including financial transactions with Deutsche Bank.
  43. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted: “The Senate Intelligence Committee: THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA!”
  44. On Wednesday, Cohen lawyer Lanny Davis disputed Burr’s claims, calling them “inaccurate,” and said Cohen is suffering from severe post shoulder surgery pain, but will testify to Congress before going to prison.
  45. On Tuesday, WAPO reported a meeting on August 2, 2016 between Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and Konstantin Kilimnik at the Grand Havana Room has emerged as a potential fulcrum in Mueller’s investigation.
  46. Kilimnik, a Russian political operative, flew into the U.S. for the meeting. According to a partially redacted transcript of the February 4 hearing, the three discussed a proposed resolution to the conflict over Ukraine.
  47. During the hearing, Judge Amy Berman alluded to Manafort handing off internal polling data from Trump’s presidential campaign to Kilimnik, and that after the meeting, the three exited from three separate doors.
  48. Mueller’s team said among the false statements Manafort made while cooperating were key lies about the August meeting and other interactions with Kilimnik, who also has ties to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
  49. On Wednesday, the judge ruled Manafort had lied to Mueller’s team, breaching his cooperation agreement and is “no longer bound” by the plea agreement, possibly adding additional years on to his prison sentence.
  50. The judge said Mueller’s team established Manafort “intentionally made multiple false statements to the FBI, [Mueller’s office] and the grand jury,” including on “his interactions and communications with Kilimnik.”
  51. Manafort also lied about a payment from a company to a law firm, which he previously said was a loan repayment, and made material false statements on another case which is not yet publicly known.
  52. The judge said she will factor in Manafort’s lies in his sentencing on March 13, where he faces up to 10 years in prison in the D.C. case, along with a possible seven-to-10-year sentence in his related Virginia case.
  53. On Sunday, NBC News reported ahead of Trump’s scheduled trip to the El Paso, Texas, politicians and business leaders say his portrayal of their community is unfair, misleading, and exaggerated.
  54. In El Paso, violent crime has been cut in half since the 1990s, with recent data showing fewer than 400 incidents per 100,000 people. McAllen, Texas, where Trump visited in January, has seen a similar drop off.
  55. Also, according to U.S. Border Patrol statistics, the number of undocumented immigrants apprehended at the border dropped from nearly 120,000 in 2000 to 25,000 in 2017.
  56. On Monday, in a series of morning tweets, Trump ripped media fact-checkers, quoting Fox News host Jesse Watters who accused them of lying to the public, saying “Fact checkers have become Fake News.”
  57. On Monday, the El Paso County Commissioners Court approved a resolution condemning the Trump regime for misinformation and lies about a “crisis situation” noting “2017 was the lowest year of illegal cross-border migration on record.”
  58. Trump also attacked Democrats, saying they “do not want us to detain, or send back, criminal aliens,” and “are so self righteous and ANGRY!” adding, “Loosen up and have some fun. The Country is doing well!”
  59. Trump also tweeted, shortly after the additional Axios reporting on his considerable Executive Time, “No president ever worked harder than me (cleaning up the mess I inherited)!”
  60. On Monday, lawmakers said in the late evening that they had reached an “agreement in principle” to avoid a government shutdown, without giving Trump much of the money he sought to build his wall.
  61. The deal includes just $1.375 billion for 55 miles of fencing, and does not include the cap Democrats wanted on ICE detention beds. Lawmakers hoped to avoid a shutdown at the end of the three-week extension Friday.
  62. On Monday, Trump was briefed on the committee’s progress as he took the stage in El Paso. He told the crowd, “Just so you know, we’re building the wall anyway.” Trump also said the wall “has to be built.”
  63. On the stage, banners read “Finish the Wall.” Trump falsely claimed a “big, beautiful wall right on the Rio Grande” is already being built. The crowd chanted “Lock her up!” and “Build the Wall,” reminiscent of 2016.
  64. Trump said, “I will never sign a bill that forces the mass release of violent criminals into our country. And I will never abolish or in any way mistreat our great heroes from ICE and Border Patrol and law enforcement.”
  65. Trump repeated his attack on media fact-checkers, telling the crowd, “Where are the fact-checkers? Some of the most dishonest people in media are the so-called ‘fact-checkers.’’’
  66. Trump also went off topic, saying embattled VA Governor Ralph Northam would “even allow a newborn baby to come out into the world, wrap the baby, and make the baby comfortable, and then…execute the baby!”
  67. Democrat Beto O’Rourke held a protest rally in El Paso. Trump said “We have 35,000 people tonight and he has 200 people, 300 people.” Actual estimates were 6,500 for Trump’s rally and at least 10,000 for Beto.
  68. At the Trump rally, a BBC cameraman was attacked. A spokesperson said, “BBC cameraman Ron Skeans was violently pushed and shoved.” A BBC reporter said the supporter also tried to smash Skeans’ camera.
  69. A viral 36-second video captured a Trump supporter wearing a red Make America Great Again cap shouting at the media as he is restrained by event security. The crowd’s chant shifted from “U.S.A.” to “Let him go.”
  70. On Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Trump “condemns all acts of violence against any individual or group of people — including members of the press.” Trump did not comment or tweet.
  71. On Tuesday, the White House Correspondents’ Association condemned the physical attack, and called on Trump to “make absolutely clear to his supporters that violence against reporters is unacceptable.” He did not.
  72. Bloomingdale’s issued an apology and removed t-shirts that read “Fake News” from its stores, after reporter Allison Kaden suggested on a New York news station that the clothing “delegitimizes” journalists.
  73. On Tuesday, at a meeting with his cabinet, Trump told reporters he is again considering a military parade, in what he called “a ‘Salute to America’ parade,” saying it would be “a gathering, as opposed to a parade.”
  74. Trump suggested July 4 for the parade, and after having his requests stymied by the Pentagon under James Mattis, this time said he would enlist the Interior Department, which oversees the National Park Services.
  75. On Tuesday, Trump said he was “extremely unhappy” with the bipartisan shutdown deal, singling out Democrats and saying, “It’s sad. They’re doing the country no favors. They’re hurting our country very badly.”
  76. A White House official told NBC News that even if Trump signs the deal, other options are on the table to build his wall, including redirecting federal money through executive orders.
  77. On Tuesday, conservative commentator Ann Coulter ripped Trump, tweeting, “Trump talks a good game on the border wall but it’s increasingly clear he’s afraid to fight for it,” adding, “call this his ‘Yellow New Deal.’”
  78. On Wednesday, NYT reported White House aides sought to minimize the damage of Trump agreeing to the bipartisan deal by calling conservative news hosts Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity, and conservative lawmakers.
  79. Trump criticized Speaker Pelosi and Democrats saying, “With the wall, they want to be stingy,”and again threatening to redirect federal funds, adding, “but we have options that most people don’t really understand.”
  80. On Monday, California governor Gavin Newsom announced he will recall the 360 National Guard troops who had been deployed to the border, saying the state would not be part of Trump’s “manufactured crisis.”
  81. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted “California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars,” saying the state owes the government $3.5 billion.
  82. On Wednesday, Governor Newsom responded, tweeting “Fake news,” adding, “this is CA’s money, allocated by Congress for this project,” and “(Also, desperately searching for some wall $$??).”
  83. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “Coal is an important part of our electricity generation mix” adding Tennessee Valley Authority “should give serious consideration to all factors before voting to close viable power plants.”
  84. The 49 year-old coal-fired plant Trump cited buys much of its coal from Murray Energy, chaired by Trump mega-donor, Robert Murray. The TVA board, an independent agency, planned to meet Thursday to discuss its closure.
  85. On Thursday, the TVA said it would close two coal-fired plants, including the one that purchased coal from Murray Energy. Kentucky Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul had also urged TVA to keep the plants open.
  86. On Tuesday, the Treasury Department’s daily statement showed the national debt passed $22 trillion for the first time. When Trump took office, the national debt stood at $19.95 trillion.
  87. The surge in the national debt resulted from Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut for the rich and corporations in 2017, as well as a growth in domestic and military spending.
  88. On Thursday, the Internal Revenue Service released data showing for the first 12 days of this year’s tax filing season, the first year reflecting Trump’s 2017 tax-cut law, the average tax refund was 8.7% less than in the prior year.
  89. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Trump installed a room-sized golf simulator at the White House, which allows him to play virtual rounds at courses around the world. The system costs about $50,000.
  90. White House officials said Trump paid for the installation, and that Trump did not play during his “Executive Time.” Trump played 70 rounds of outdoor golf a year, about double Obama at 38 rounds.
  91. On Sunday, Daily Beast reported that according to multiple sources, Michael Sanchez, brother to Lauren Sanchez who has ties to Trump associates, was the one to give Jeff Bezos’ texts to the National Enquirer.
  92. On Monday, WSJ reported that last year America Media Inc. sought Justice Department advice on whether it should register as a foreign agent after publishing a magazine promoting Saudi Arabia and crown prince MBS.
  93. AMI also sought Saudi financing last year when considering an acquisition of Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, and Money. A lawyer for David Pecker said Sunday the financing was “never obtained.”
  94. On Tuesday, when asked by a reporter if he was aware that AMI was investigating Jeff Bezos, Trump responded, “No, no I wasn’t.”
  95. On Tuesday, Trump ally Tom Barrack defended Saudi Arabia at a summit in Abu Dhabi, saying of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, “whatever happened in Saudi Arabia, the atrocities in America are equal, or worse …”
  96. On Wednesday, in a rebuke to Trump, the House voted 248-to-177 to halt aid for Saudi Arabia’s conflict in Yemen. The Senate passed a parallel resolution in December. Trump could vote to veto the resolution.
  97. Bipartisan members of Congress expressed fresh outrage after Trump’s White House missed a legally mandated deadline to report whether the regime believes Saudi crown prince MBS is behind Khashoggi’s murder.
  98. On Wednesday, FEMA director Brock Turner resigned, saying in a statement he was leaving “to go home to” his family.” A spokesperson for the agency said Turner’s departure was unrelated to last year’s vehicle controversy.
  99. On Wednesday, Politico reported former Interior Department secretary Ryan Zinke will team up with Corey Lewandowski, working as a senior adviser at Washington lobbying firm Turnberry Solutions.
  100. On Friday, a federal court in D.C. ruled the Mashantucket Pequot tribe can revive a lawsuit and add new claims of political interference, after the Interior Department under Zinke had blocked their plans to open a casino.
  101. On Tuesday, Jonathan Reiner, former VP Dick Cheney’s cardiologist, tweeted: “It’s been 4 days since the president underwent his annual physical exam and still no data has been released. What are they hiding?
  102. On Thursday, the White House released limited information on Trump’s physical exam, with the doctor citing Trump “remains in very good health.” Trump reportedly weighs 243 pounds, making him technically obese.
  103. On Tuesday, former Trump attorney John Dowd told ABC News that the Mueller probe was “a terrible waste of time,” adding, “I will be shocked if anything regarding the president is made public, other than ‘We’re done.’”
  104. Dowd said Trump cooperated and at “no time in history has anybody had this kind of look at communications with the president,” adding if he were supervising Mueller, “ [I would] tell him to ‘knock it off, get it done.”
  105. On Wednesday, Roger Stone’s legal team asked the judge to hold Mueller’s team in contempt, claiming they had “publicly distributed the Indictment prior to its release from the sealing ordered by the Court” to CNN.
  106. Stone has used the raid to fundraise for his legal fees, writing in emails and on social media of the FBI’s “excessive use of force,” and equating it to captures of Osama bin Laden and Pablo Escobar.
  107. On Thursday, in an interview aired on CBS, former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe said he authorized an investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia the day after meeting him in May 2017, for fear he would be fired.
  108. McCabe said he was speaking to someone who “won the election for the presidency, and who might have done so with the aid of the government of Russia, our most formidable adversary,” adding it “troubled me greatly.”
  109. On “CBS This Morning,” Scott Pelley, the correspondent who interviewed McCabe, said McCabe disputes the assertion that deputy director Rod Rosenstein was joking about wearing a wire when he met with Trump.
  110. Pelly said there were discussions of the 25th Amendment — “counting noses” on where various cabinet members would vote. The full interview with McCabe about his new book will air on Sunday’s “60 Minutes.”
  111. A spokesperson for Rosenstein released a statement saying he “never authorized any recording that Mr. McCabe references,” adding, “there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment,” nor was he considering it.
  112. As CBS was airing their story, the Atlantic published an excerpt from his book in which Trump wanted McCabe to send a sinister message to employees: “I felt the way I’d felt in 1998, in a case involving the Russian Mafia.”
  113. Shortly after, Trump attacked McCabe, tweeting: “Disgraced FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe pretends to be a “poor little Angel” when in fact he was a big part of the Crooked Hillary Scandal & the Russia Hoax.”
  114. Trump also called McCabe “a puppet for Leakin’ James Comey,” and “part of “insurance policy” in case I won,” adding, “McCabe’s wife received BIG DOLLARS from Clinton people for her campaign.”
  115. Trump ally Lindsey Graham, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that it was “imperative” that McCabe and others come before his committee to address what appears to be bias against Trump.
  116. On Thursday, Alan Dershowitz, an informal adviser to Trump, told Fox News host Tucker Carlson of the DOJ discussing the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, “If that’s true, it is clearly an attempted coup d’etat.”
  117. Trump quoted Dershowitz, tweeting: “Trying to use the 25th Amendment to try and circumvent the Election is a despicable act of unconstitutional power grabbing…which happens in third world countries.”
  118. On Thursday, WAPO reported McCabe’s book also took aim at former AG Jeff Sessions, saying he did not read intelligence reports, and often confused classified material with newspaper clips.
  119. McCabe also accused Sessions of being racist, saying he blamed nearly every societal problem on immigrants and uttered racist sentiments. Sessions also became overwhelmed in meetings on multiple subjects.
  120. On Wednesday, in outlining their Russia probe, Democrats said at least three committees will be involved: House Intelligence Committee will take the lead, along with House Financial Services and House Foreign Affairs.
  121. House investigators also indicated they may target Ivanka, citing “a number of public reports about her involvement in the Trump Tower Moscow deal,” and saying she may have relevant information.
  122. On Friday, in a letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings said two Trump attorneys may have lied to Congress about Cohen’s hush money payments.
  123. Cummings also questioned the false statements made by the two attorneys, Sheri Dillon and Stefan Passantino, wondering whether they “were acting at the direction of, or coordination with, the president.”
  124. On Saturday, Politico reported Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the Intelligence Committee and Rep. Eliot Engel, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, are close to taking action to force Trump to reveal his private talks Putin.
  125. Schiff and Engel are consulting with House General Counsel Douglas Letter on the best way to compel the Trump regime to turn over documents and other information related to the one-on-one meetings.
  126. On Thursday, Daily Beast reported that DHS has gutted two task forces set up to protect against foreign adversaries meddling in U.S. elections in response to the 2016 election.
  127. The two tasks forces were set up as part of the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Agency to secure election infrastructure and focus on foreign influence efforts, including through social media.
  128. The staff for both task forces have dwindled. Before midterms the CSIA task forces reported to Chris Krebs, the Senate-confirmed director. After, leadership has been moved to someone lower in command.
  129. Experts say Trump has shown no interest in securing U.S. elections, or coming up with a strategy. A lawmaker suggested the task forces were never intended to be permanent.
  130. On Wednesday, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler said in a letter that Matt Whitaker may have “misled” the committee in his testimony last week, calling it “unsatisfactory” or “contradicted by other evidence.”
  131. Nadler also said he would seek more information from Whitaker, and that his staff would work for a “reasonable accommodation” about further information, leaving open the possibility of deposing him.
  132. On Thursday, William Barr was sworn in as the new attorney general. Whitaker will stay on at the DOJ as a senior counselor in the associate attorney general’s office.
  133. On Thursday, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs called on AG Barr to investigate Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts for his “liberal” based appointments on the FISA court, which oversees surveillance.
  134. On Thursday, the White House announced that Trump will sign the bipartisan government spending bill, but would also declare a national emergency and seek $8 billion for his border wall under executive actions.
  135. As of Thursday, the $8 billion included $1.375 billion in the spending bill for fencing in Texas; $600 million from the Treasury Department’s drug forfeiture fund; $2.5 billion from a Defense Department drug interdiction program; and $3.5 billion from a military construction budget.
  136. Press secretary Sanders said the executive action was to “ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border.” The Senate and House both passed the spending bill by large majorities.
  137. Speaker Pelosi told reporters if Trump declares a national emergency, Democrats could consider legal actions, saying “first of all, it’s not an emergency,” and adding that Trump “has tried to sell a bill of goods.”
  138. On the one-year anniversary of the Parkland shooting, Pelosi also warned Republicans that if Trump sets the precedent, a future Democratic president could declare gun violence a national emergency.
  139. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a statement vowing to defend the Constitution’s separation of powers, saying “declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power.”
  140. On Friday, in a rambling, incoherent 50-minute speech from the Rose Garden, Trump declared a national emergency to build his wall, a campaign promise he had said Mexico would pay for back in 2016.
  141. Trump was sniffling and often went off topic and ad-libbed during the speech. His remarks were confusing, full of false and misleading statements, and veered off to numerous unrelated topics.
  142. Before speaking about the national emergency, Trump opened with a long preamble about trade deals and North Korea, including falsely claiming Obama was on the verge of striking North Korea.
  143. Trump oddly noted after declaring a national emergency, “I can do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this” — a statement certain to be used in legal challenges.
  144. In making his case, Trump falsely described a lawless, chaotic southern border. Illegal border crossings have been declining for decades. It is not true that immigrants commit more crimes than native-born Americans.
  145. Trump used campaign-style rhetoric: “we’re talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs.” WAPO reported Trump used the word “invasion” seven times.
  146. Trump also repeated a series of false claims, including: “A big majority of the big drugs, the big drug loads don’t go through ports of entry. They can’t go through ports of entry.”
  147. Trump also said, “You can’t take human traffic — women and girls — you can’t take them through ports of entry.” This is false. About 80% of human trafficking victims passed through official ports of entry.
  148. Trump also used an unproven and exaggerated claim: “You have chain migration. Where a bad person comes in, brings 22 or 23 or 35 of his family members…They are all in.”
  149. Trump acknowledged he would likely lose in lower-court judges, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit would probably rule against him before he ultimately got a “fair shake” in the Supreme Court.
  150. The White House claimed over 50 national emergencies have been declared since 1976 when Congress enacted the National Emergencies Act, allowing presidents to bypass Congress.
  151. However, NYT reported there is no precedent for Trump’s national emergency, where a president has asked for funds from Congress, been denied, then used emergency powers to get funds and move forward.
  152. Of past national emergencies, 51 of 59 have been related to imposing sanctions or trade regulations on foreign officials and groups for things like human rights violations, terrorism, or narcotics trafficking.
  153. Only once has a president’s national emergency been challenged in court: in 1952, in the case of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, the Supreme Court overturned President Harry Truman’s national emergency.
  154. Trump cited Obama: “We may be using one of the national emergencies that (Obama) signed having to do with cartels, criminal cartels. It’s a very good emergency he signed.” This order froze financial assets.
  155. In 2014, both Trump and Pence said Obama should not use executive authority on “DREAMers.” Trump tweeted: “Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution…because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress.”
  156. When reporters asked Trump about his February summit with North Korea, Trump said that Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize for opening a dialogue with North Korea.
  157. Trump also complained that Obama was there “for about 15 seconds” before he was awarded the prize, and “he didn’t even know what he got it for,” adding, “I’ll probably never get it, but that’s OK.”
  158. Trump claimed Abe “gave me the most beautiful copy of a letter” he sent. AP could not confirm Trump’s claim. Japan’s Foreign Ministry said it cannot comment on details of the exchanges between Trump and Abe.
  159. As Trump was speaking, the dystopian Hulu series of “The Handmaid’s Tale” was filming for season 3 in around Washington D.C. Onlookers tweeted confusion about whether it was a real life protest instead.
  160. Ahead of him signing the bill, conservative commentator Ann Coulter tweeted Trump is not fighting, and “the goal of a national emergency is for Trump to scam the stupidest people in his base for 2 more years.”
  161. When asked about Coulter’s influence, Trump told reporters, “I don’t know her. I hardly know her. I haven’t spoken to her in way over a year,” adding, “I have nothing against her, but she’s off the reservation.”
  162. On Friday, Coulter fired back, saying in an interview “It was one thing, the promise he made every single day at every single speech,” adding, “the only national emergency is that our president is an idiot.”
  163. On Friday, House Democrats said they will vote on a joint resolution overriding Trump’s national emergency, forcing Senate Republicans to go on the record, after several spoke against Trump declaring an emergency.
  164. Pelosi and Schumer said in a statement, Trump’s declaration “if unchecked, would fundamentally alter the balance of powers, inconsistent with our Founders’ vision,” adding, “Congress cannot let the president shred the Constitution.”
  165. On Friday, the first legal challenge was filed against Trump’s national emergency by legal advocacy group Public Citizen, on behalf of three Texas landowners and an environmental group.
  166. Government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics sued, saying Trump’s DOJ failed to show the legal authority of his national declaration by refusing to provide documents requested under the FOIA.
  167. The ACLU announced a lawsuit against the Trump regime over his “blatantly illegal declaration,” saying, “There is no emergency. This is an unconstitutional power grab that hurts American communities.”
  168. On Friday, California’s Gov. Newsom and AG Xavier Becerra said the state would sue the Trump regime over his declaration. Newsom called Trump’s wall “a vanity project, a monument to stupidity.”
  169. On Friday, CNN reported press secretary Sanders has been interviewed in the Mueller probe. Sanders said Trump “urged me, like he has everyone in the administration, to fully cooperate with the special counsel.”
  170. The White House did not immediately grant Mueller’s team an interview with Sanders. The interview took place late last year, around the time the special counsel interviewed John Kelly.
  171. While it is unclear what the topics were, two areas of interest appear to be how she composed statements made on the podium defending Trump and Sanders’ statements relating to the June 9 Trump Tower meeting.
  172. On Wednesday, Jerome Corsi filed an amicus brief arguing for the court to impose a gag order on Stone. On Friday, Corsi also sued Stone for defamation, seeking damages in excess of $25 million.
  173. On Friday, Mueller’s team said in a new filing that search warrants executed on accounts in the investigation into Russian hackers uncovered communications between Stone with Guccifer 2.0 and with WikiLeaks.
  174. The warrants were part of the case against 12 Russian GRU officers. Although the content of the communications was not provided, this was the clearest indication yet of Stone’s direct contact with WikiLeaks.
  175. Stone’s attorneys objected to his case being labeled as “related” to the Russian hacking case, and asked it be moved to a new judge. The judge denied the requests, saying they are indeed related.
  176. The judge also issued a gag order for Stone in and around the Washington, D.C. courthouse where the case is being heard, and said she could change her mind and amend her order to broaden the gag “if necessary.”
  177. On Friday, Mueller’s team filed a memo with the court in Virginia, saying Manafort’s crimes including tax and bank fraud were “brazen” and “serious,” and noting federal guidelines for such crimes would be 19.5 to 24.5 years.
  178. The memo said Manafort “acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law,” and failed to pay millions of taxes, adding, “the sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes” to deter others.
  179. The memo also said “Manafort’s age does not eliminate the risk of recidivism he poses,” saying his “criminal activity has occurred over more than a decade,” and he conspired to tamper with witnesses after indicted.
  180. Mueller’s team also said they would fine Manafort tens of millions of dollars. Judge T.S. Ellis has not set a sentencing date. Manafort will be sentenced in his D.C. case on March 13.
  181. On Friday, the Guardian reported a senior Belgian intelligence officer is under investigation over allegedly exchanging confidential information with a woman believed to be a Russian agent.
  182. Additionally, Clement Vandenborre, head of counter-intelligence at GISS, was suspended for allegedly shredding confidential documents as part of the scheme. The Belgian capital is home to NATO headquarters.
  183. On Friday, at the Munich Security Conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the conference with critiques of U.S. foreign policy, receiving a sustained standing ovation, except from Ivanka.
  184. Vice President Mike Pence, defending U.S. foreign policy, told the audience at the conference that he brings greetings from Trump, and not a single person clapped.
  185. Pence also followed Trump’s lead, criticizing NATO allies, saying they “still need to do more,” adding the U.S. expects “every NATO member to put in place a credible plan to meet the 2 percent threshold.”
  186. The Munich Security Conference report cited the Trump regime for displaying an “irritating enthusiasm for strongmen across the globe” and “disdain for international institutions and agreements.”
  187. On Saturday, in an op-ed titled, “Phony Wall, Phony Emergency,” the Times Editorial Board called out Trump for his “breathtaking display of executive disregard for the separation of powers.”
  188. The Editorial Board also mocked Trump for leaving early Friday to head to Mar-a-Lago after signing the bill, noting Trump “plans to manage the border crisis from the golf course at Mar-a-Lago this weekend.”

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Donald Trump Holds MAGA Rally: Trump speaks during a rally at the El Paso County Coliseum on February 11, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. Trump continues his campaign for a wall to be built along the border as the Democrats in Congress are asking for other border security measures.