W

March 30, 2019

Week 124

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

This week was dominated by news of the Mueller report, which was delivered to Attorney General William Barr last Friday, but has yet to be given to Congress or the American people. On Sunday, AG Barr sent a four-page letter to Congress, which he characterized as a “summary” of the Mueller report, but later in the week, in a second letter, wrote it “did not purport to be, an exhaustive recounting of the Special Counsel’s investigation or report” which was revealed to be nearly 400 pages long.

Barr’s Sunday letter said that Mueller did not find evidence Trump or his campaign knowingly colluded with Russia, but on obstruction of justice charges, Mueller did not render an opinion. Barr and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein however concluded not to proceed with criminal charges, and Trump instantly weaponized the information to falsely claim he was fully exonerated, and pivot to attacking Democrats and the media, with the help of his allies. The media was caught on its heels, as some of the initial reporting incorrectly cited the Mueller report, including the front page of Monday’s New York Times. Trump aides who had been jailed or investigated by Mueller’s team were given media opportunities to declare themselves as victims of an overaggressive prosecutor. By Friday, bowing to public pressure, Barr in a second letter said he would release a redacted version of the Mueller report by mid-April or sooner.

As Trump took his victory lap, the Justice Department, on his orders, argued to a federal appeals court that the Affordable Care Act should be invalidated. Trump also sought to end most aid to Puerto Rico, as the Pentagon notified Congress the first $1 billion was being allocated to his wall. With the economy continuing to weaken, Trump refreshed his attacks on the Federal Reserve, as his pick Stephen Moore came under increasing criticism. At week’s end photos emerged of hundreds of migrants being held in inhumane conditions under a bridge in El Paso due to overcrowding at facilities. Trump blamed Central American countries and, by Saturday, said he would cut off U.S. aid to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

  1. On Saturday, Mueller’s office said it is handing off its case before Judge Amy Berman Jackson against Rick Gates, who continued to cooperate in several investigations, to the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office.
  2. On Saturday, in a call with roughly 120 House members, Speaker Nancy Pelosi amplified her call that the Mueller report be made public in full, and rejected the notion of classified briefings.
  3. On Sunday, Trump broke 40 hours of silence on Twitter, tweeting: “Good Morning, Have A Great Day!” and “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Last weekend, Trump sent over 50 tweets, a record amount.
  4. On Sunday, Attorney General William Barr delivered a letter to the Chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees outlining what he felt were the principal conclusions of the Mueller report.
  5. Barr said in his four-page summary that the Mueller investigation found that neither Trump nor any of his aides conspired with the Russian government’s efforts to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.
  6. The letter stated “despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign,” Mueller did not find evidence of “agreement — tacit or express — between the Trump campaign and the Russian government on election interference.”
  7. Barr also said Mueller did not reach a conclusion on obstruction of justice: “The Special Counsel states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.””
  8. On obstruction of justice, Barr said Mueller’s report “catalogu[ed] the President’s actions, many of which took place in public view,” but also cited actions taken privately which are described in the report.
  9. Although Mueller did not take a stance, Barr and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein concluded the evidence gathered “is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
  10. Experts noted the unusual nature of Trump appointees, including his recently hand-picked AG, making a decision on obstruction of justice, rather than forwarding the full report to Congress for their judgment.
  11. Trump declared victory an hour later in his first public remarks, tweeting “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”
  12. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said Mueller “did not find any collusion and did not find any obstruction. AG Barr and DAG Rosenstein further determined there was no obstruction…total and complete exoneration.”
  13. Trump later told reporters, “This was an illegal takedown that failed. And hopefully somebody’s going to be looking at the other side,” adding, “so many people have been so badly hurt, after not looking at the other side.”
  14. Speaker Pelosi and Leader Chuck Schumer said the letter “raises as many questions as it answers,” noting “Barr’s public record of bias against the Special Counsel’s inquiry,” and demanded release of the full report.
  15. House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler called for the release of all underlying evidence, citing “Special Counsel Mueller worked for 22 months” to determine if Trump obstructed justice,” while “Barr took 2 days.”
  16. On Sunday, CNN reported Mueller’s team deliberated at length with the Justice Department about seeking to subpoena Trump for a sit-down interview, after Mueller made the request for months.
  17. The decision was made to accept written answers instead. By Mueller not making the request, AG Barr was able to write “there were no such instances” during the investigation where Mueller was turned down.
  18. On Monday, NYT noted Trump has ended norms in place since Watergate: firing an FBI director for investigating him and his associates, forcing out an attorney general for not protecting him, and dangling pardons.
  19. Because Mueller took no position on obstruction of justice according to Barr, future occupants of the White House will feel entitled to do the same, and thwart efforts by law enforcement to scrutinize their actions.
  20. On Sunday, Donald Jr. said in a statement the “Collusion Truthers in the media and Democrat Party” should be “held accountable,” saying they “are only going to double down on their sick and twisted conspiracy theories.”
  21. On Monday, Kellyanne Conway called on House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff to resign, while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Schiff should lose his committee leadership position.
  22. On Monday, Trump posted a tweet of a Fox News clip mocking Schiff. He later told reporters in the Oval Office, “There are a lot of people out there who have done some very, very evil things.”
  23. Trump added, “I would say treasonous things against our country,” and “those people will certainly be looked at,” and, “They lied to Congress. Many of them…They have done so many evil things.”
  24. On Monday, Schiff told reporters, “Undoubtedly there is collusion,” adding his committee will continue to investigate if Trump and the “people around him compromised in any way by a hostile foreign power.”
  25. On Monday, Trump’s re-election campaign sent a memo to television producers telling them to “employ basic journalistic standards when booking” officials who “made outlandish, false claims, without evidence.”
  26. The list included Democratic lawmakers Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Reps. Nadler, Schiff, and Eric Swalwell, as well as Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and former CIA Director John Brennan.
  27. On Monday, Steve Bannon told Yahoo News that with the Mueller probe over, Trump “is going to go full animal,” adding that Trump will “come off the chains.”
  28. Bannon also said Trump will use the report “to bludgeon” House members requesting documents, and that he had repeatedly told Trump, “Don’t say Mueller’s bad, I don’t think he’s going to have anything.”
  29. On Monday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham said his committee may “look into the other side,” threatening to investigate FISA warrants, the Clinton campaign, and the counterintelligence investigation.
  30. On Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul tweeted: “time for Congress to investigate” former President Obama, saying “What did [he]know and when? How did this hoax go on for so long unabated?”
  31. On Monday, after criticism that Barr and Rosenstein seemed to make a quick decision on obstruction of justice, a “leak” indicated the two knew Mueller would not make a decision on obstruction three weeks prior.
  32. On Monday, NBC’s Savannah Guthrie asked Sanders if Trump owed Mueller an apology for calling him “a national disgrace, discredited, a prosecutor gone rogue.” Sanders responded, “Are you kidding?”
  33. On Monday, in the evening, Trump tweeted, “the Fake News Media has lost tremendous credibility with its corrupt coverage,” praising Fox News for being “up BIG,” and “ratings of CNN & MSNBC tanked last night.”
  34. On Monday, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a resolution by Sen. Schumer to unanimously pass a non-binding resolution which cleared the House 420-0 in Week 121, for public release of the Mueller report.
  35. On Wednesday, McConnell again blocked a resolution, this time by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, calling for the public release of the Mueller report.
  36. Both times, McConnell claimed Barr is working with Mueller to determine what in the report should or should not be released. Graham had blocked Schumer’s first attempt to bring the resolution to the floor in Week 121.
  37. On Monday, Graham told reporters at a morning press conference that Barr should testify publicly before his committee. Graham added he would leave it up to Barr if Mueller should testify.
  38. On Tuesday, Graham told reporters Barr told him he would send the Mueller report to the White House first, in case it wants to claim executive privilege over any parts, before it is made public.
  39. Graham also said Barr told him it would most likely take “weeks, not months,” to make a version of Mueller’s final report public.
  40. On Monday, six Democrats who chair House committees sent a letter to Barr requesting he submit the full Mueller report to Congress by April 2.
  41. On Tuesday, CNN reported Speaker Pelosi told House Democrats in a private meeting that Barr said it was his job to defend Trump and that Trump is “above the law” in a memo, so wait to see the full report.
  42. On Wednesday, AG Barr said he will not meet the Democrat’s April 2 deadline. Rep. Nadler said he is “disappointed” and that Democrats are exploring legal options, including possibly subpoenaing Mueller.
  43. On Tuesday, a Quinnipiac poll found 84% of Americans believe the Mueller report should be made public, 9% do not. Among Republicans, 77% say it should be made public, 17% do not.
  44. On Wednesday, a CNN poll found 56% of Americans do not believe Trump and his campaign were exonerated from collusion, while 43% believe he was: 77% of Republicans said he was, 80% of Democrats said he was not.
  45. Without seeing the full report, 7% said it makes them more likely to back Trump, and 6% less likely — while a combined 86% said they already figured out their vote or the investigation results would not sway them.
  46. On Thursday, NYT reported and the DOJ confirmed that the Mueller report exceeds 300 pages, revealing Mueller went beyond the bare-bones summary required by DOJ regulations.
  47. The length of the report also raised questions of how Barr could summarize its contents in four-pages.
  48. DOJ officials, including some in Barr’s office, may redact information that Trump could claim as privileged before sending it to Congress. Democrats would likely contest Trump claiming privilege.
  49. On Monday, the Supreme Court turned down the request of the mystery foreign state-owned company fighting the Mueller team’s subpoena to get a Supreme Court appeal.
  50. On Monday, Bloomberg reported a lawsuit by BTA Bank JSC alleged Felix Sater and the wealthy Kazakh businessman Ilyas Khrapunov explored financing a Trump Tower Moscow deal in 2012 using laundered money.
  51. The complaint filed in Manhattan federal court said Sater tried to help launder some of the $4 billion stolen a decade ago by Khrapunov’s father-in-law, ex-BTA Chairman Mukhtar Ablyazov.
  52. On Monday, the House Intelligence Committee postponed its scheduled interview with Sater this week, citing needing further answers to lingering questions arising from Barr’s summary of the Mueller report.
  53. On Wednesday, David Goodhand, an assistant U.S. attorney, told the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for D.C., Judge Beryl Howell, the court where Mueller’s grand jury was convened, that their cases are “continuing robustly.”
  54. The cases related to Russian collusion in the 2016 election, raising questions of why Mueller’s report was finalized while the cases continued to proceed in the D.C. court.
  55. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. is now leading the subpoena fight with the mystery foreign company, the upcoming trial in November against Roger Stone, and the sentencing of Rick Gates.
  56. On Monday, Graham said he told Trump over the weekend at Mar-a-Lago that he had encouraged John McCain to turn over the Steele dossier to the FBI, saying of it, “it could be a bunch of garbage, it could be true, who knows?”
  57. On Wednesday, Graham told CNN on Trump, “I could give a damn what he thinks about me and John McCain,” adding “I’m not into this idea the only way you can help honor John McCain is to trash Trump.”
  58. On Monday, Rep. Mo Brooks quoted a passage from Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” on the House floor, comparing Hitler’s characterization of “big lie” propaganda to Democrats and the media use of the Mueller probe.
  59. On Monday, Pennsylvania Republican State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz was criticized for “disrespectful” prayer before the state’s first Muslim lawmaker, Democrat Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, was sworn in.
  60. NBC News reported advocates and lawyers said in a letter transgender and gay migrants held at an immigration facility in New Mexico have been subjected to “rampant sexual harassment, discrimination and abuse.”
  61. The letter relating to Otero County Processing Center in Chaparral claimed the warden placed or threatened to place migrants who complained in solitary confinement, or in barracks with heterosexual men.
  62. The facility is operated by Management & Training Corporation, a private company that has benefitted from Trump’s policies, said it follows ICE’s transgender detainee guidelines, and was not aware of the incidents.
  63. IndyStar reported Lynn Starkey, a counselor with 39 years of exemplary work at an Indiana high school, including teacher of the year recognition, was told she will lose her job over being in a same-sex marriage.
  64. Starkey will become the second guidance counselor at Roncalli High School, one of more than 60 schools run by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, to lose her job over being in a sex-same marriage.
  65. On Friday, the Tulsa World reported the buildings that house Oklahoma’s Democratic Party headquarters were vandalized with racist and anti-Semitic symbols and words.
  66. On Friday, Pat Buchanan warned against “people from different…cultures and ethnicities and races” coming to the U.S. on Laura Ingraham’s podcast, claiming Black Americans have not been “fully assimilated.”
  67. On Monday, Jeremy Richman, the father of a first-grade girl killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, was found dead in an apparent suicide. This follows the suicides of two Parkland high school students last week.
  68. National Rifle Association’s Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre warned in a fundraising letter the group could be “shut down forever,” blaming Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pressure on banks and insurance companies.
  69. Alex Jones said in a sworn deposition that a “form of psychosis” caused him to believe certain events, like the Sandy Hook massacre, were staged. Jones blamed “trauma of the media and the corporations lying so much.”
  70. On Monday, federal prosecutors in New York charged Michael Avenatti, former attorney for Stormy Daniels, with an extortion attempt. He was also charged by federal prosecutors in California with bank and wire fraud.
  71. On Tuesday, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped criminal charges against Jussie Smollett. As records were sealed, it was unclear why. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called it a “whitewash of justice.”
  72. On Thursday, Trump suggested the FBI and DOJ will review Smollett’s case, tweeting “FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. It is an embarrassment to our Nation!”
  73. Bloomberg reported lawyers for Trump will go before an appeals court seeking to overturn a ruling that he cannot block critics on Twitter, claiming the account belongs to him personally and not the government.
  74. On Tuesday, Jennifer Utrecth, an attorney for the Justice Department, argued for Trump. One Circuit Judge remarked, “It’s curious to me that the Department of Justice is here representing essentially a private entity.”
  75. On Wednesday, Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s head of legal, policy, and trust, told WAPO that the platform is considering labeling tweets that violate the company’s abuse terms, giving users who may see them context.
  76. The move would allow the company to keep tweets up because they are in the public interest. Twitter has been criticized as Trump’s tweets often violate its rules against bullying, dehumanization, and threatening harm.
  77. On Tuesday, Motherboard reported in a major policy shift, Facebook announced it would ban white nationalism and white separatism the same way it has treated white supremacy, on both its Facebook and Instagram platforms.
  78. Users who try to post that type of content will be directed to a nonprofit that helps people leave hate groups. Facebook made the shift after a backlash from civil rights activists and historians.
  79. On Thursday, Axios reported that Google is pulling a conversion therapy app, following pressure from LGBTQ groups. Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft have also banned the app in recent months.
  80. On Monday, the Pentagon notified Congress it authorized the transfer of $1 billion to begin construction of a new wall, the first such transfer since Trump’s veto of a resolution to block his national emergency.
  81. The Pentagon funds, diverted from other projects, will be used to build 57 miles of fencing and other measures on the U.S.-Mexico border. The Army Corp of Engineers will be deployed to begin planning and construction.
  82. Every Democrat on related Senate Appropriations Committee subcommittees joined in a letter to acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan to object, saying the funds and personnel were not approved.
  83. On Tuesday, the House fell short of overriding Trump’s veto of a resolution to block his national emergency. Fourteen Republicans crossed to join Democrats, but roughly 50 were needed.
  84. On Monday, the Trump regime broadened its attack on the Affordable Care Act, as the Justice Department argued to a federal appeals court that the entire law should be invalidated.
  85. In December, a federal judge ruled the ACA’s individual mandate was unconstitutional. A DOJ legal filing challenging the individual mandate at the 5th Circuit took it further saying the ACA should be struck down.
  86. The regime’s new position was harshly criticized by the insurance industry and by consumer advocates, saying it would put more than 100 million Americans’ coverage at risk.
  87. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted his support, saying, “The Republican Party will become “The Party of Healthcare!” However, Trump did not offer any information on the regime’s plans.
  88. On Tuesday, Politico reported Trump told Republicans they have to come up with “a plan that is far better than Obamacare.” Healthcare was a top issue for voters in the midterm victory by Democrats.
  89. Trump’s actions caught Republicans by surprise. Trump allies, including Rep. Mark Meadows, have acknowledged Trump has provided little to no guidance on crafting a health care plan.
  90. On Wednesday, Leader Schumer announced Democrats will try to force a vote on defunding the DOJ’s efforts on invalidate the ACA.
  91. On Wednesday, Politico reported the shift in legal tactics by Trump was opposed by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and AG Barr. Allies of acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney helped pushed the move.
  92. On Wednesday, federal judge James Boasberg blasted the Trump regime for failing to consider how many Medicaid beneficiaries would lose coverage under proposals to require recipients to work to get coverage.
  93. The Trump regime had approved the work requirement for Arkansas and Kentucky. The judge deemed the approvals to be “arbitrary and capricious,” and said the work requirement could not go into effect.
  94. On Thursday, a federal judge in D.C. blocked the Trump regime’s association health plans (AHPs), a cheaper alternative which allows businesses and individuals to band together to create group coverage.
  95. AHPs are less expensive and also exclude protections required under ACA. The judge found the plans violate the ACA, calling it an ACA “end-run” — a victory for blue states which had sued to block the plans.
  96. On Friday, Politico reported Trump appointee Seema Verma, who oversees Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare, directed millions of taxpayer dollars to Republican communications consultants.
  97. The subcontracts, routed through a larger federal contract, break with precedent. Staffers in her department raised concerns about her use of federal funds on GOP consultants and to amplify her own work.
  98. On Tuesday, NBC News reported Vice President Mike Pence talked director of national intelligence Dan Coats out of quitting over his frustration with Trump at the end of last year.
  99. Among the tensions, Trump pushed Coats to find evidence that Obama wiretapped him, demanded Coats publicly criticize U.S. intelligence as biased, and accused Coats of being behind leaks of classified information.
  100. Trump has also taken to referring to Coats privately as “Mister Rogers,” when he is upset Coats will not implement a directive or leaves Trump feeling disrespected. Pence has pushed Trump to refer to him as Coats.
  101. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted “the Mainstream Media is under fire and being scorned all over the World as being corrupt and FAKE,” saying for two years the media pushed the “Russian Collusion Delusion.”
  102. Trump also tweeted the media “always knew there was No Collusion,” and again invoked the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ tweeting “they truly are the Enemy of the People and the Real Opposition Party!
  103. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Puerto Rico faces a food-stamp crisis as Congress missed the deadline for reauthorization in March, resulting in a cuts in stamps for 1.3 million, or 43% of the island’s residents.
  104. In an Oval Office meeting in February, Trump told top advisers to limit the federal support going to Puerto Rico to only money going to the electric grid, saying instead funds should be going to the mainland.
  105. On Tuesday, Trump told GOP senators behind closed doors that Puerto Rico received too much money to rebuild after Hurricane Maria, and it “is way out of proportion to what Texas and Florida and others have gotten.”
  106. On Wednesday, the White House told NBC News that Trump “will not put taxpayers on the hook to correct a decades-old spending crisis” that left Puerto Rico “with deep-rooted economic problems.”
  107. On Thursday, CNN reported Trump has refused to meet with Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. Aides for Rosselló said at a tense encounter at the White House in Wednesday, Trump aides said they were pushing too hard.
  108. Trump later denied Rosselló’s claims, telling reporters that he has “taken better care of Puerto Rico than any man, ever.” Trump claims Puerto Rico is wasting money, an assertion that Rosselló denied.
  109. On Tuesday, in her first testimony before the Democratic-led House, Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos defended deep cuts to education as part of Trump’s budget to cut her agency’s spending by 10%.
  110. Proposed funding cuts included $18 million for the Special Olympics, while boosting funding for charter schools by $60 million.
  111. On Wednesday, following public outcry on cutting funding for the Special Olympics, DeVos issued a statement, blaming the media and some members of Congress for “falsehoods and fully misrepresenting the facts.”
  112. On Thursday, at a press conference, Trump told reporters “I just authorized the funding of the Special Olympics,” adding, “I have overridden my people.”
  113. After Trump’s statement, DeVos said, “I am pleased and grateful the president and I see eye-to-eye on this issue,” adding, “This is funding I have fought for behind-the-scenes over the last several years.”
  114. On Tuesday, Paula Kerger, the longtime president and CEO of PBS, said in an interview “I wish I knew” why for a third year Trump’s proposed federal budget would zero-out funding for the network.
  115. Kerger noted PBS is “in places where local journalism has really collapsed, and our local radio and TV stations really are the local media presence” saying she will again rely on Congress to restore funding.
  116. On Tuesday, WAPO reported the Army chose Palantir Technologies to build its intelligence systems, marking the first time the government chose a Silicon Valley software company over a traditional military contractor.
  117. Palantir was co-founded by Peter Thiel, the billionaire investor who has served as a Trump adviser from time to time, including during his 2016 campaign.
  118. On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that Trump’s current pick for Federal Reserve, Stephen Moore, owes more than $75,000 to the Internal Revenue Service according to court documents.
  119. Moore also was the president of political advocacy organization Club for Growth when the group paid a $350,000 penalty to settle Federal Election Commission violations.
  120. WAPO reported experts are also concerned about Moore’s long record of controversial statements, and about Trump having a direct line to him impacting the market’s view of the Fed’s independence.
  121. On Thursday, the Commerce Department reported economic growth slowed at the end of 2018, with GDP gaining just 2.2% in the fourth quarter, putting yearly GDP grown at 2.9%, below Trump 3% promise.
  122. On Thursday, as the numbers came out, Trump tweeted “Very important that OPEC increase the flow of Oil. World Markets are fragile, price of Oil getting too high,” adding, “Thank you!”
  123. On Friday, CNBC reported OPEC leader Saudi Arabia said it will ignore Trump’s threshold for oil prices.
  124. On Friday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Axios that he “would love to see” the Fed cut rates by half a point, mirroring comments made by Stephen Moore.
  125. On Friday, Trump blamed the Fed for the slowing economy, tweeting: “Had the Fed not mistakenly raised interest rates, especially since there is very little inflation” GDP would be higher.
  126. On Thursday, Politico reported Leader McConnell is moving closer to using the procedural move known as the nuclear option to speed through Trump’s nominees, claiming “unprecedented obstruction.”
  127. The Senate Rules Committee approved a resolution in February that would limit debate time for executive branch nominees and District Court judges, but not Supreme Court and cabinet nominees.
  128. McConnell’s action comes after prodding by Trump at a closed-door meeting Tuesday. Democrats strenuously objected. McConnell is still hoping for bipartisan support of what he calls “a change the institution needs.”
  129. On Thursday, Jessie Liu, Trump’s pick for the number three position at the DOJ, withdrew from consideration over serving as a top official of the National Association of Women’s Lawyers, which supported abortion rights.
  130. On Friday, Politico reported that Linda McMahon will resign as head of the Small Business Administration, a cabinet position, to return to the private sector.
  131. On Friday, NBC News reported that according to the Partnership for Public Service, 155 high-ranking positions which require senate confirmation do not yet have a nominee by Trump.
  132. Experts say that after 26-months of Trump in office, every position should have a nominee. The Partnership for Public Service data also shows 282 of 714 (40%) of key executive branch jobs are unfilled.
  133. Another reason for lag is the high turnover. Brookings Institute found, prior to the McMahon resignation, turnover of top Trump officials was at 66%, including 10 of 22 cabinet positions.
  134. On Thursday, NBC News reported Trump is expected to pick Morgan Ortagus, a Fox News contributor, to replace Heather Nauert, a former Fox News anchor, as State Department spokesperson.
  135. HuffPost reported Trump has placed images of the White House emblazoned with the words “Trump Hotels” on products for sale at the Trump Store in Trump Hotel DC.
  136. On Wednesday, the Washingtonian reported the Trump Hotel DC pulled merchandise using White House images, citing criticism.
  137. On Wednesday, USA Today published excerpts from hours of interviews with Barbara Bush conducted by Susan Page for an upcoming book. Bush blamed Trump for a heart attack she said she had in June 2016.
  138. Bush said the morning after election day, “I woke up and discovered, to my horror, that Trump had won.” She also said, “Putin endorsed him, for heaven’s sake. Putin the killer!…That’s an endorsement you don’t want.”
  139. When asked if she still considered herself a Republican, in October 2017 she said yes, but in February 2018, Bush, who had been one of the most recognizable faces of the party, said, “I’d probably say no today.”
  140. NASA was forced to scrap its first all-female spacewalk because of a lack of “spacesuit availability” in astronaut Anne McClain’s size. McClain’s spot was substituted by a man for Friday’s mission.
  141. On Tuesday, George Papadopoulos told Reuters “my lawyers have applied for a pardon” from Trump, claiming Mueller’s team threatened him that if he did not agree to the plea deal, he would be charged with a more serious crime.
  142. Other former Trump aides also came public to say they were victims of an overly aggressive Mueller probe including Michael Caputo in an op-ed and on MSNBC alongside Carter Page.
  143. On Wednesday, in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Trump said he would not rule out pardons, saying, “Many, many people were in­cred­ibly hurt by this whole scam.”
  144. Several Trump allies, including Hannity, Fox New host Tucker Carlson, Sen. Rand Paul, Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk, and Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton also spent the week publicly pushing for pardons.
  145. On Thursday, AP reported Trump’s closest advisers and GOP allies are trying to steer him away from pardons, saying it could spark a political firestorm overshadowing what Trump sees as a moment of triumph.
  146. On Wednesday, in an interview with ABC News, former Trump legal spokesman Mark Corallo said he spoke to Mueller’s team about the crafting of the statement to cover up the Trump Tower meeting.
  147. Corallo said Hope Hicks lied about the statement, and grew angry when he disagreed, adding when he said there were documents to prove she was lying, she responded, “Nobody’s ever going to see those documents.”
  148. On Wednesday, House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings sent a letter to Trump audit firm Mazars USA, requesting 10 years of “statements of financial condition” and audits for Trump and several of his companies.
  149. On Thursday, Judge Tanya Chutkan said Maria Butina, who admitted to working as a Russian agent to infiltrate the NRA, will be sentenced on April 26. Charges against Butina were not part of the Mueller probe.
  150. On Friday, the DOJ formally asked Judge Chutkan in a court filing to send Butina back to Russia after she is sentenced, and to have her acknowledge she cannot return to the U.S. for 10 years.
  151. On Thursday, Jared Kushner testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee at a closed-door hearing. Kushner, who appeared before the committee in 2017, was re-interviewed as part of its Russia investigation.
  152. Later Thursday, Kushner said in a statement, “today I voluntarily answered follow up questions” hoping it “puts an end to these baseless accusations,” and adding “it is time for Congress to complete its work, move on.”
  153. On Friday, Roger Stone, in another possible violation of his gag order, posted an Instagram image of Rep. Schiff’s head laid over a “bullschiff” meter. Stone later deleted the image.
  154. On Thursday, Trump tweeted, “Congressman Adam Schiff, who spent two years knowingly and unlawfully lying and leaking, should be forced to resign from Congress!”
  155. On Thursday, the nine Republicans on Schiff’s committee called on him to step down as chair, citing Schiff’s statement that there is collusion is “incompatible with your duties as the chairman.”
  156. On Thursday, Schiff gave an impassioned speech to his committee, citing his evidence of collusion, and adding “the day we do think that’s OK is the day we will look back and say that is the day America lost its way.”
  157. On Thursday, Speaker Pelosi told reporters at a press conference when asked about Barr’s letter said, “We don’t need you interpreting for us. It was condescending, it was arrogant, and it wasn’t the right thing to do.”
  158. Pelosi also said, “I have said, and I’ll say again, no thank you, Mr. Attorney General, we do not need your interpretation, show us the report and we can draw our own conclusions.”
  159. When asked about attacks on Schiff, Pelosi said, “What is the president afraid of? Is he afraid of the truth? That he would go after a member, a chairman of a committee,” adding “I think they’re just scaredy cats.”
  160. Pelosi also attacked Rep. Devin Nunes, saying, “I’m so proud of the work of Chairman Adam Schiff — in stark contrast to the irresponsible, almost criminal behavior of the previous chair of the committee.”
  161. On Thursday, Trump held his first rally since Mueller finished his probe, in Grand Rapids, Michigan — his first rally in the rust-belt in nearly 2 1/2 years. Trump spoke for more than 80-minutes.
  162. Before the rally, the chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party held a warm-up rally where she led the crowd in chants of “No Collusion! No Obstruction!” and the crowd chanted, “Lock her up!”
  163. Trump declared victory in the Mueller investigation, hammering his critics and the media saying, “The Russia hoax is finally dead. The collusion delusion is over.”
  164. Trump invoked the “deep state,” saying the probe “was nothing but a sinister effort…to sabotage the will of the American people,” and an effort to “illegally regain power by framing innocent Americans.”
  165. Trump again attacked Rep. Schiff, saying, “They’re on artificial respirators right now,” and “Little pencil-neck Adam Schiff. He’s got the smallest, thinnest neck I’ve ever seen.”
  166. Contradicting his own 2020 budget proposal which slashed funding by 90%, Trump said he was going to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, saying “I support the Great Lakes. Always have….They’re big. Very deep.”
  167. With no outlines for an alternative, Trump barely mentioned healthcare. He invoked Sen. John McCain’s no vote which was met with boos, and renewed his pledge to protect coverage for pre-existing conditions.
  168. On Friday, Trump’s 2020 campaign started selling “Pencil-Neck Adam Schiff” t-shirts, with a description “He spent two years knowingly and unlawfully lying and leaking. He should be forced to resign.”
  169. On Friday, Pelosi again defended Schiff and took a shot at Rep. Nunes, tweeting his “calm, professional leadership is something we should all be proud of. Unlike his predecessor…”
  170. On Friday, in a two-page letter to Congress, AG Barr said the Mueller report, which numbers close to 400 pages, will be delivered to Congress “by mid-April, if not sooner.”
  171. Barr does not plan to submit the report to White House beforehand, saying Trump “would have the right to assert privilege over certain parts of the report, he has stated publicly that he intends to defer to me.”
  172. Barr said he would redact grand jury information, information about ongoing investigations, and information that would “potentially compromise sources and methods” used for intelligence collection.
  173. Barr’s letter also contradicted his Sunday letter which he characterized as a “summary” of the Mueller report, saying it “did not purport to be, an exhaustive recounting of the Special Counsel’s investigation or report.”
  174. Asked by reporters about the letter at Mar-a-Lago, Trump said, “I have great confidence in the attorney general, if that’s what he’d like to do,” adding, “I have nothing to hide. This was a hoax. This was a witch hunt.”
  175. Rep. Nadler responded, saying, “Congress requires the full and complete Mueller report, without redactions, as well as access to the underlying evidence, by April 2. That deadline still stands.”
  176. On Friday, in an op-ed, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates called for Barr to release the full Mueller report as soon as possible, saying, “It is time for the American people to hear the whole truth.”
  177. On Friday, Trump mocked Democrats tweeting, “Mueller was a Hero to the Radical Left Democrats, until he ruled that there was No Collusion with Russia,” adding, “no matter what we give them, it will never be enough.”
  178. On Friday, photos emerged of hundreds of migrants being held in a penned-in area under the Paso Del Norte International Bridge in El Paso. The regime described the situation as a temporary measure.
  179. Reportedly, a surge in migrants coming from Central America strained facilities at the Southwest border. This week, Customs and Border Protection handled thousands of people in excess of the system’s capacity.
  180. Advocates say migrants in the outdoor holding center complained of not having enough food and water, of not receiving adequate medical attention, and of being cold.
  181. On Friday, in a series of tweets, Trump threatened “I will be CLOSING the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week,” blaming Democrats and Mexico saying, “they just take our money and ‘talk.’”
  182. Trump later told reporters at Mar-a-Lago that there is a “very good likelihood” that he will close the border with Mexico next week: “I will close the border if Mexico doesn’t get with it.”
  183. On Saturday, Trump said he would cut hundreds of millions in aid to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala over what he said was their lack of help in stopping the flow of migrants to the U.S.
  184. On Friday, Trump demanded WAPO and NYT should be stripped of their Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of collusion with Russia, tweeting: “there was No Collusion! So, they were either duped or corrupt?”
  185. On Saturday, NYT reported on Trump’s 2020 campaign. Aides say he relies on always having a foil, and now without Mueller or a Democrat to run against, Trump will use the media as a stand-in.
  186. The campaign is also battling Trump’s preference for fights and distractions, and a tougher electoral map. Aides also say Trump, 72, is tired, and will only commit to one campaign event a day.
  187. On Saturday, Trump sent one tweet, then headed to his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach for the 55th time.

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 Attorney General William Barr departs his home March 26, 2019 in McLean, Virginia. Democratic members of the Congress have urged Barr to release the full text of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible obstruction of justice charges against Trump.