February 11, 2017

Week 13

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

Given that we’re 13 weeks into this tracking exercise, starting this week I’ll be adding a section at the bottom of the list: “Some Things We’ve Already Normalized.” The goal is to remind us of items in the early lists, that at the time were unprecedented and shocking, but have long since been accepted and forgotten. We must remember what normal used to be in order to resist, and find our way back — and so we begin!

  1. In a Fox News interview, when O’Reilly referred to Putin as a “killer,” Trump responded, “Well, you think our country is so innocent?
  2. Trump’s comments were condemned by leaders and voices on both sides. Putin demanded an apology from Fox News.
  3. The NYT ran a disturbing story describing Trump’s first two weeks. Like the WAPO story cited in Week 10, Trump is reportedly still isolated — going upstairs alone at 6:30 p.m., and maintaining a small inner-circle.
  4. The NYT also reported that Trump wasn’t fully briefed on the executive order he signed giving Bannon a National Security Council seat. Trump tweeted that he calls his own shots, and referred to the story as fake news.
  5. The WSJ reported that arrests of Russian intelligence officers are likely linked to Russia’s US hacking.
  6. Rep. Nancy Pelosi called on the FBI to probe Trump’s personal and financial ties to Russia, to explore whether Russia may be blackmailing him.
  7. By the end of the week, 6 New England Patriots said they would not attend the Super Bowl celebration ceremony at the White House.
  8. McClatchy reported on efforts to silence public opinion: the WH comment line is shut down, signatures aren’t being counted on petitions, and federal agencies are no longer allowed to respond to requests.
  9. On SNL, Melissa McCarthy delivered a devastating portrayal of Sean Spicer. Days later, Trump is reportedly rattled, and rumored to be seeking a replacement.
  10. Spurred into a consideration by a petition signed by 1.5 million citizens, UK officials announced that Trump would not be allowed to address the UK Parliament during his upcoming visit.
  11. As of this week, key roles in the executive branch are empty. Of the 658 positions that are open and require Senate confirmation, Trump has appointed only 35 (8 are confirmed, and 27 await confirmation).
  12. Trump continued to assert that the “very dishonest press” doesn’t report terrorist attacks. At first, the source of his claim appeared to be InfoWars. The WH later released a list of attacks, with several misspellings (all attacks on the list had in fact been covered).
  13. The White House is still not open to the public. Tours typically resume shortly after the new president takes office.
  14. As part of her lawsuit against Mail Online, Melania mentioned the “once-in-a-lifetime” merchandising possibilities she envisioned as FLOTUS.
  15. Republicans in a House committee voted to eliminate the agency charged with protecting voting machines from being hacked.
  16. Without explanation or warning, the USDA purged a page on animal welfare from its website.
  17. Trump attacked the federal judges ruling on his Muslim ban, and questioned the independence of the judicial branch, saying, “The courts seem to be so political,” and threatening that any terrorist attacks would be the fault of these judges if they don’t rule his way.
  18. Trump also referred to Federal Judge James Robart, a W. Bush appointee who ruled against Trump’s Muslim ban, as a “so-called judge.”
  19. Trump nominee for the SCOTUS called Trump’s remarks, “demoralizing” and “disheartening.” Trump refuted, saying Neil Gorsuch’s comments were misrepresented. In response, a spokesperson for Gorsuch said it was true.
  20. During a debate on the confirmation of Sessions, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was formerly silenced by Rep. Mitch McConnell and Republicans for reading a letter by Coretta Scott King, in a refrain that will go into the history books: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” The rule cited by McConnell, Rule XIX, was not used on GOP men like Sen. Ted Cruz.
  21. A HuffPost story seemed to call Trump’s mental health into question, citing leaks that Trump called Flynn at 3 a.m. to ask him about a weak dollar and the economy. A member of W. Bush NSC added, “I genuinely do not think this is a mentally healthy president.”
  22. In response to Trump’s failed raid in Yemen, according to the NYT, Yemenis withdrew permission for US anti-terror ground mission. More stories came out questioning Trump’s decision-making process and truthfulness on the Yemen raid.
  23. WSJ reported that Trump’s appointee to acting SEC Chair is seeking to get rid of the requirement under Dodd-Frank that companies disclose the pay gap between CEOs and their employees.
  24. Trump tweeted, from both his personal account and the POTUS account, that Nordstrom has treated his daughter unfairly. He included a veiled threat, “She’s a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing.” Nordstrom cited lagging sales, and their stock rose 4.1% that day.
  25. Trump’s attack against Nordstrom was widely condemned by ethics experts as a clear violation of federal ethics rules.
  26. Next day, Conway said on Fox News, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would say.” Spicer later that day said Conway was “counseled.” Trump sided with Conway.
  27. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, head of the House Oversight Committee, called Conway’s statement, “wrong, wrong, wrong.” Next day, Conway made a snide remark about Chaffetz’s stormy townhall.
  28. France’s spy agency, the DGSE, said Russia is actively working to get Le Pen elected. Le Pen announced that if she wins, Jews would have to leave France if they did not give up their Israeli citizenship.
  29. A bipartisan group of Senators introduced a bill that would require congressional approval for Trump to lift sanctions on Russia.
  30. A Hitler’s Valentine’s Day card was handed out by the College Republicans at Central Michigan University. Nationwide, anti-Semitism incidents continue to escalate since Election Day.
  31. Reuters reported that Trump did not get briefed prior to his phone call with Putin, and had to ask aides about the New START treaty.
  32. Breaking 7 decades of presidential precedents, Trump said he will not rely on White House Council of Economic Advisers.
  33. Democrats in the House moved to force a debate on Trump’s Russia business conflicts and ties.
  34. Rachel Maddow reported in order to shield himself from having to pay for the clean-up of a failed SC business formerly owned by his son, Trump claimed to have no relationship to former owner.
  35. Townhalls hosted by Republicans in Utah, Tennessee, and others states had huge crowds show up and vociferously show their displeasure.
  36. A national poll conducted by PPP found that 51% of Trump supporters think the “Bowling Green massacre” — a lie put forward by Conway in Week 12 — is justification for Trump’s Muslim ban.
  37. Courts again turned back Trump, this time in his efforts to scale back an Obama-era consumer protection designed to avoid conflicts of interests when brokers give retirement advice.
  38. FLOTUS Trump again broke with tradition, not hosting the First Lady of Japan during her tour of Washington DC.
  39. WAPO broke that despite his earlier denials, Flynn did indeed have conversations with Russia’s ambassador about sanctions while Obama was still in office. Flynn changed his version to having “no recollection.”
  40. Aides for Pence, who had vouched for Flynn on Sunday tv, said Flynn had lied to Pence, and Flynn was his only source. When asked about this story, Trump feigned ignorance, despite WAPO having it on page 1.
  41. In a meeting with Senators, Trump again asserted voter fraud, citing alleged buses of Massachusetts people who voted in New Hampshire.
  42. Trump has still not come to an agreement with federal officials over his Trump DC hotel’s violation of lease.
  43. After a conversation with the leader of Taiwan in Week 3, an action not taken by an American president in decades, Trump asserted his bumble was to show strength to China. Unceremoniously this week, Trump changed course, and said he would honor the ‘One China’ policy.
  44. Without notice, days after Sessions is confirmed, federal agents started conducting mass immigration raids in at least six states. Citizens reported seeing check-points in several major cities.
  45. CNN broke that US intelligence has corroborated some parts of the infamous Russian dossier. Spicer responded by attacking CNN for fake news reporting.
  46. Gallup found that only 29% of Americans think Trump is respected in the world. 67% believe he is not.
  47. Trump continued to actively lie this week. Protests and marches continued nationwide.

Some Things We’ve Already Normalized:

  • The first family is not living in the White House.
  • Trump is not receiving daily intelligence briefings.
  • Trump remains an Executive Producer of The Celebrity Apprentice.
  • Media coverage of Trump includes images of his tweets.
  • Our Secretary of State is a former CEO of Exxon, who has close ties to Putin, and no government or diplomatic experience.

Copyright Amy Siskind, February 11, 2017

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