W

February 15, 2020

Week 170

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

This week, unchecked by checks and balances, Trump continued his retaliation tour, unabashedly showcasing his will to control the Justice Department. After career prosecutors made recommendations for sentencing for his longtime associate Roger Stone, which were overridden by the DOJ, a mass exodus ensued, nicknamed the ‘Tuesday massacre’ — a nomenclature now familiar in the era of Trump. Feeling unshackled, Trump publicly criticized prosecutors, judges, and even jurors, seeming to openly seize the DOJ as a department under his control, without a hint of independence.

Trump also flexed his political will by deploying the Department of Homeland Security to impose measures on so-called sanctuary cities, while inviting the New York governor to the White House, after suggesting in a tweet that the state should terminate lawsuits against him and his businesses in exchange for reopening Global Entry to New York citizens. Trump continued to threaten his perceived political enemies and the so-called deep state with retribution for his grievances despite aides’ attempts to calm him down.

Senators, now fully recognizing Trump had only been further empowered by their impeachment acquittal, reigned in his ability to strike Iran, and expressed odd surprise that this was indeed the outcome of their lapse in holding Trump accountable. Without consequences for his actions, the public increasingly worried about what an unbridled Trump will do next.

  1. On Thursday, a WAPO analysis found Trump’s words are being used by children as young as 6 years-old to bully classmates, mimicking his racist and xenophobic rhetoric and the cruel ways he delivers it.
  2. The Post reported that of the 28,000 news stories found, at least three-quarters of the attacks were directed at kids who are Hispanic, black, or Muslim. Students have also been victimized because they support Trump (14%).
  3. Trump’s rhetoric at campaign rallies, including phrases like “send him back to Mexico” and “ban Muslims,” has been used by students or school staff members to harass students more than 300 times since early 2016.
  4. On Tuesday, WNYC reported the National Archives allowed Immigration and Customs Enforcement to delete or destroy documents detailing sexual abuse and death of undocumented immigrants back in 2017.
  5. A Columbia University professor noted the exception was allowed by archivists despite tens of thousands of people posting critical comments, and dozens of senators and representatives objecting.
  6. The National Archives and the Interior Department have also quietly deleted files on endangered species, offshore drilling inspections, and the safety of drinking water.
  7. On Saturday, speaking in Malaysia at the Third Conference of the League of Parliamentarians for Al-Quds, when asked for his advice to Trump, Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said he should “resign.”
  8. On Saturday, NYT reported a handful of Republican senators tried to stop Trump from firing Gordon Sondland as U.S. ambassador to the E.U., but Trump moved ahead last Friday anyway.
  9. The senators encouraged Trump to let Sondland leave on his own terms, arguing that it would look bad to fire him, and that Sondland was already in talks with senior officials about leaving after the Senate trial.
  10. When State Department officials called Sondland Friday to tell him to resign, he resisted, saying he did not want to be included in a larger purge. Sondland said Trump would have to fire him, which Trump did.
  11. On Saturday, CNN reported national security adviser Robert O’Brien is expected to make major cuts to the National Security Council as soon as this week. Sources say O’Brien was waiting for impeachment to be over.
  12. On Saturday, Trump retweeted a clip of Fox News host Jeanine Pirro calling for Sen. Mitt Romney to be “removed from office,” saying, “How about you get the hell out of the United States Senate?”
  13. On Sunday, Trump spent the day tweeting at his perceived enemies in a day long tweet-storm of 52 tweets and retweets. Trump also retweeted the Time magazine cover video of Trump forever for the third time in 4 days.
  14. Trump blamed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio for weekend shootings of NYPD officers, tweeting because of their “lack of support, our wonderful NYC police are under assault.”
  15. Trump tweeted, “Romney hurt some very good Republican Senators, and he was wrong about the Impeachment Hoax. No clue!” in response to a WSJ op-ed that Romney’s vote hurt other Republicans running in 2020.
  16. Trump also retweeted far-right allegations about Romney’s connections to Ukrainian gas company Burisma and Hunter Biden, noting one of the senior advisors to his 2012 campaign was a board member for the company.
  17. Trump retweeted a random follower, saying, “Romney is covering up his part in corruption in Ukraine. This has nothing to do with truth or God. He is a desperate man. The truth will come out.”
  18. Trump also again attacked Sen. Joe Manchin, tweeting, “they are really mad at Senator Joe Munchkin” — assigning him a derogatory nickname — saying, “He couldn’t understand the Transcripts.”
  19. Trump also attacked red state senator Doug Jones, tweeting, “So good to see that Republicans will be winning the Great State of Alabama Senate Seat back,” saying, “he cast a partisan vote for the Impeachment Hoax.”
  20. On Sunday, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told Fox Business networks are refusing to give Trump airtime after a good week. It has been 11 months since the last White House daily press briefing.
  21. On Sunday, Trump ally Rep. Devin Nunes told Fox Business he threatened to refer Justice Department Inspector General Michael Atkinson to the DOJ for not providing requested documents on the whistleblower complaint.
  22. Nunes added of the NSC, “I have been saying for a long time…he would be best to take all of those people, ship them across the Potomac, put them — quarantine them, get them the hell away from the White House.”
  23. On Sunday, Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham told “Face the Nation” that he would “get to the bottom” of failures in the process for obtaining FISA warrants, and vowed to reform the system at the urging of Trump.
  24. Graham also said he spoke to Attorney General William Barr that morning, and Barr had “created a process” for Rudy Giuliani to send the dirt he dug up on the Bidens in Ukraine to the DOJ, “and they would see if it’s verified.”
  25. Graham also said Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s “reassignment was justified,” and suggested he may have been part of a plot against Trump, working directly with the whistleblower to bring the Ukraine scandal to light.
  26. Just before Graham’s appearance, Trump tweeted, “DeFace the Nation will tell @LindseyGrahamSC that he must start up Judiciary and not stop until the job is done. Clean up D.C. now, last chance!”
  27. Trump also tweeted, “FBI Director Christopher Wray just admitted that the FISA Warrants and Survailence of my campaign were illegal,” adding, “THE WHOLE SCAM INVESTIGATION…WAS A FIXED HOAX.”
  28. Trump also tweeted, “WHO PAYS THE PRICE?” and “This is the biggest political crime in American History, by far. SIMPLY PUT, THE PARTY IN POWER ILLEGALLY SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN.”
  29. Trump also attacked election analyst Larry Sabato, tweeting he “got it all wrong last time, never came close to understanding the Trump Voter,” adding in a second tweet, “he doesn’t have a clue!”
  30. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “Will be in Manchester, New Hampshire, tonight for a big Rally,” adding, “Want to shake up the Dems a little bit — they have a really boring deal going on,” and, “Big crowds in Manchester!”
  31. Trump also falsely tweeted, “95% Approval Rating in the Republican Party, a Record! 53% overall,” claiming it was because of “Corrupt Democrat politicians,” and adding, “Thank you Nancy!”
  32. Trump also tweeted, “Because of how badly they did with the Impeachment Hoax, AOC will primary Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, and win,” adding, “Pelosi will lose the House, AGAIN! My poll numbers great.”
  33. On Monday, CNN reported that before they were fired, both Sondland and Vindman were planning their exits, but that Trump did not want them to go quietly.
  34. An adviser to Trump told CNN the firings were meant to send a message that siding against Trump will not be tolerated, calling it “flushing out the pipes,” and adding, “it was necessary.”
  35. On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to all 74 federal government Inspectors General requesting investigations into “any and all instances of retaliation” against impeachment inquiry witnesses.
  36. Schumer also called on the IGs to protect whistleblowers, writing, “These attacks are part of a dangerous, growing pattern of retaliation against those who report wrongdoing only to find themselves targeted” by Trump.
  37. On Sunday, Matt Schlapp, chair of the Conservative Political Action Conference, said Romney would be excluded from its conference, citing, “I would actually be afraid for his physical safety, people are so mad at him.”
  38. On Monday, the Louisiana Republican Party voted to censure Romney by voice votes, without mentioning his impeachment vote. The same group refused to censure former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke 30 years ago.
  39. On Monday, the Daily Caller claimed the White House has identified the “anonymous” official behind the NYT editorial and recently released book, and that official will be fired as part of the NSC layoffs.
  40. On Monday, BuzzFeed reported according to a memo obtained, the Department of Homeland Security is considering plans to reward “friendly” states which turn over information to federal immigration authorities which might otherwise be inaccessible.
  41. The memo also included retaliation against states that limit access to records like New York, such as closing down DHS offices, refusing to accept their state identification, cutting TSA PreCheck services, and more.
  42. On Monday, NYT reported the DOJ filed lawsuits against California, New Jersey, and Washington state as part of a “significant escalation” to fight sanctuary cities’ refusal to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
  43. On Friday, NYT reported the Trump regime will deploy law enforcement tactical units from the southern border to sanctuary cities like New York and Chicago to boost enforcement power of local ICE officers.
  44. The specially trained officers are also expected to be sent to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, New Orleans, Detroit, and Newark, New Jersey as part of the secret operation.
  45. The effort is part of Trump’s crackdown on localities that have refused to cooperate in handing over immigrants targeted for deportation to federal authorities. Deployment will run from February through May.
  46. A spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection confirmed 100 officers would be deployed “in order to enhance the integrity of the immigration system, protect public safety, and strengthen our national security.”
  47. On Monday, a Quinnipiac poll found 55-40% believe the Senate voting to acquit Trump does not clear him of any wrongdoing in the Ukraine matter, while 59-35% believe the impeachment trial was conducted unfairly.
  48. On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fired his chief of staff, and promoted Andriy Yermak, a senior aide who negotiated with Rudy Giuliani last summer over possibly opening investigations.
  49. Yermak replaced Andriy Bohdan, a former lawyer for the oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky who was opposed by Giuliani. The shake-up appeared to be primarily related to a growing clash between Zelensky and Kolomoisky.
  50. On Tuesday, Senate Republicans blocked three election security-related bills. All three were blocked by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who accused Democrats of advancing the bills for fundraising fodder.
  51. Two bills would require campaigns to alert the FBI and Federal Election Commission about offers of foreign assistance, and a third would provide more election funding and ban voting machines connected to the internet.
  52. On Saturday, Metropolitan Police in D.C. escorted more than 100 masked members of white nationalist group Patriot Freedom, who were shouting “Reclaim America!” through the National Mall. There were no arrests.
  53. On Monday, a federal judge in Maryland ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release immigrants who were arrested and detained during marriage interviews.
  54. The case was filed by six couples who accused ICE of luring in immigrants who are seeking legal status based on their marriages to U.S. citizens, and then detaining and seeking to deport them.
  55. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted 22-10 to rescind Trump’s expanded travel ban and rein in his authority to issue such travel restrictions. The bill is not expected to clear the Senate.
  56. On Wednesday, students at Nicholas Senn High School in Chicago held a sit-in to protest a teacher who allegedly told a Latino student who did not stand for the national anthem to “go back to your country.”
  57. On Thursday, a high school basketball game in California ended with fans of the visiting team yelling xenophobic taunts of “Where’s your passport, where’s your passport?!” at players from Puerto Rico and France.
  58. On Monday, Trump proposed sweeping cuts to foreign aid and safety net programs, including changing work requirements for Medicaid and food stamps and tightening eligibility rules for federal disability benefits.
  59. On Monday, Star Tribune reported a document obtained revealed revisions to the Bureau of Land Management planning processes under which environmental study requirements would be removed.
  60. On Monday, Reuters reported the DOJ employee union filed a whistleblower complaint with the department’s Inspector General over anti-human trafficking grants.
  61. The complaint noted two Tier 1 nonprofits were denied funding, and funding was instead granted to two Tier 2 groups — Hookers for Jesus and the Lincoln Tubman Foundation — who were not recommended by career DOJ officials.
  62. On Monday, while hosting governors at the White House, Trump told reporters he spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping on coronavirus, and Xi told him “the heat, generally speaking, kills this kind of virus.”
  63. As of Monday, the virus had killed at least 910 people in China, after the country tried to hide the outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control reported there have been 12 cases so far in the U.S., but none have died.
  64. Trump suggested he would like to model the U.S. criminal justice system after China: “Countries with a powerful death penalty, with a fair but quick trial, they have very little if any drug problem. That includes China.”
  65. On Monday, Reuters reported the U.S. military disclosed more than 100 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with brain injuries that resulted from the Iran missile strike, more than double what was most recently reported.
  66. On Monday, when asked about head trauma in an interview with Fox Business, Trump said, “That exists. But, you know, I viewed it a little bit differently than most, and I won’t be changing my mind on that.”
  67. On Sunday, in an unusual Sunday morning filings, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. suggested they would accept a delay of Michael Flynn’s February 27 sentencing to allow testimony from his former lawyers.
  68. Notably, Brandon Van Grack, a former member of Robert Mueller’s team who has been the lead attorney on Flynn’s case, was not a signatory to the filings submitted Sunday.
  69. On Monday, AP reported AG Barr confirmed what Sen. Graham said Sunday, noting the DOJ is taking information that Giuliani is gathering in Ukraine about Joe and Hunter Biden.
  70. Barr added, “we have to be very careful with respect to any information coming from the Ukraine. There are a lot of agendas in the Ukraine, a lot of cross currents,” and we cannot take information at “face value.”
  71. On Monday, WAPO reported federal prosecutors recommended in a filing that Roger Stone get seven to nine years of prison time for lying to Congress and tampering with a witness in the Mueller probe.
  72. The sentencing recommendation came after days of debate within the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C., coming out at the high end. Stone is the sixth Trump associate convicted and the last indicted in the Mueller probe.
  73. On Tuesday, at just before 2 a.m., Trump tweeted on Stone, “This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”
  74. Hours later, a senior DOJ official said the department plans to reduce its sentencing recommendation for Stone, saying officials were “shocked to see the sentencing recommendation in the Roger Stone case last night.”
  75. The official also told the Post, “The department finds the recommendation extreme and excessive and disproportionate to Stone’s offenses. The department will clarify its position later today.”
  76. The DOJ also submitted a second sentencing memo to the judge, calling for a sentence of “far less,” saying it “would be reasonable under the circumstances” without making a specific recommendation.
  77. Shortly after, Aaron Zelinksy, a former prosecutor from Mueller’s office who was still on the Stone case, filed a notice to withdraw from the case.
  78. By the end of the day, all four career prosecuters handling the case against Stone withdrew from the legal proceedings; three were part of the Mueller team. Zelinsky also said he would leave his assignment in the D.C. office.
  79. Later Tuesday, when asked by reporters about Stone, Trump said, “I have not been involved in it at all,” adding, “I didn’t speak to them,” and calling the initial recommendation “an insult to our country.”
  80. Trump also said, “That was a horrible aberration. These are, I guess, the same Mueller people that put everybody through hell and I think it was a disgrace,” adding, “They ought to be ashamed of themselves.”
  81. Trump also called Romney a “disgrace” for voting to convict him, and during the event told told Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, “you keep him, we don’t want him.”
  82. Despite Trump’s continued attacks, Politico reported Romney’s fellow Senate Republicans are not turning against him despite his vote, and that Romney has gotten back to voting to support Trump’s agenda.
  83. Shortly after, Axios reported Trump withdrew his nomination for former U.S. Attorney for D.C. Jessie Liu to serve as the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes.
  84. Liu stepped down in January after Trump nominated her, and was replaced in Week 168 by one of AG Barr’s close advisers, Timothy Shea. She oversaw cases for Stone, Flynn, Rick Gates, and others.
  85. Later Tuesday, NBC News reported Liu, who had been the U.S. attorney for D.C., was abruptly removed by AG Barr last month, as part of Barr’s moves to take control of legal matters of interest to Trump.
  86. Officials told NBC this was not the first time Barr had intervened, noting the reduced sentencing request for Flynn, and Barr aides taking over the criminal investigation into former FBI director Andrew McCabe.
  87. Schumer asked the DOJ IG to investigate: “This situation has all the indicia of improper political interference in a criminal prosecution.” Former AG Eric Holder called it “unprecedented,” “wrong,” and “dangerous.”
  88. Later, Trump tweeted, “four prosecutors (Mueller people?) who cut and ran after being exposed” for an investigation that was “illegal, the Mueller Scam, and shouldn’t ever even have started…13 Angry Democrats?”
  89. Trump also quoted a tweet that DOJ officials were shocked to see the sentencing recommendation, adding, “All starting to unravel with the ridiculous 9 year sentence recommendation!”
  90. Trump also criticized the judge, tweeting, “Is this the Judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something that not even mobster Al Capone had to endure? How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton?”
  91. Trump also quoted a tweet, “Raise your hand if you believe it’s time for a FULL PARDON for Roger Stone and Michael Flynn,” adding, “Prosecutorial Misconduct?”
  92. On Tuesday, WSJ reported the DOJ is nearing a final decision on whether to charge Erik Prince for allegedly lying to Congress and violating U.S. export laws in his business dealings overseas.
  93. Later Tuesday, Trump held his first campaign rally since being acquitted in New Hampshire on the day of the primary. Trump’s crowd erupted in chants of “Lock her up!” as he opened the rally.
  94. Trump said of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ripping up his SOTU speech, “I’m speaking and a woman is mumbling terribly behind me, angry,” adding, “We’re the ones who should be angry,” and credited her for his rising poll numbers.
  95. Trump, who held the rally to draw attention from the Democratic primary, said of the candidates running, “My only problem is I’m trying to figure out who is the weakest candidate. I think they’re all weak.”
  96. Trump also said Democrats “want to destroy our countrysides, put windmills all over them. Watch your house go down in value,” adding, “You want to see a bird graveyard? Go to the bottom of a windmill.”
  97. Trump said of coronavirus, “They’re working hard. Looks like by April, you know in theory when it gets a little warmer it miraculously goes away,” adding, “We only have 11 cases and they’re all getting better.”
  98. Trump, who toggled from reading the Teleprompter and going off script, read a poem, “The Snake,” about a woman who was bitten by a pet snake, saying it represented the threat of undocumented immigrants.
  99. Trump also falsely claimed, We are protecting people with pre-existing conditions and we always will,” and said, “We have some really evil, dirty, horrible people,” and, “We should impeach President Obama.”
  100. Trump also repeated a false claim about the 2016 election in New Hampshire, saying, “We should have won the election, but they had buses being being shipped up from Massachusetts. Hundreds and hundreds of buses.”
  101. Shortly after, Ellen Weintraub, the FEC Commissioner tweeted, “No, #NewHampshire, there were no busloads of illegal voters in your state in 2016. It. Just. Didn’t. Happen.”
  102. Weintraub also tweeted, “We need to address democracy’s *real* problems: Foreign interference, Disinformation, Voter suppression, Strains on our institutions,” adding, “#FactsMatter #TruthMatters”
  103. Trump also tweeted insults at his Democratic competitors, saying, “Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to as Pocahontas, is having a really bad night,” adding, “I think she is sending signals that she wants out.”
  104. Trump also tweeted, “Impeachment King Steyer (how did that work out?) spent 200 Million Dollars” and got little support in Iowa and New Hampshire, adding, “Could it be that something is just plain missing?”
  105. Trump also tweeted, “A very bad night for Mini Mike!” and “Bootedgeedge (Buttigieg) is doing pretty well tonight. Giving Crazy Bernie a run for his money. Very interesting!”
  106. Late Tuesday, Trump complained about the media coverage of the primary amid Democrats’ record turnout, tweeting, “The Fake News Media is looking hard for the Big Democrat Story, but there is nothing too fabulous.”
  107. Trump, who basically ran unopposed, also tweeted, “Wouldn’t a big story be that I got more New Hampshire Primary Votes than any incumbent president, in either party, in the history of that Great State?”
  108. On Wednesday, in the early morning, Trump again complained, tweeting, “Fake News @CNN and MSDNC have not surprisingly refused to talk about my record setting number of voters in New Hampshire (and in Iowa).”
  109. Trump also tweeted, “Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control” despite telling reporters Tuesday he did not ask the DOJ for a reduced sentence for Stone.
  110. Trump also tweeted of the Stone case, “perhaps should not have even been brought,” falsely claiming “the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!”
  111. The White House had no explanation when asked by the Times for what Trump was referring to with his allegations that Mueller lied to Congress.
  112. Trump also quoted Tucker Carlson on “Fox & Friends,” tweeting, “Two months in jail for a Swamp Creature, yet 9 years recommended for Roger Stone…that sounds very fair! Rogue prosecutors maybe? The Swamp!”
  113. On Wednesday, CNBC reported according to a new unsealed court filing, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson rejected Stone’s previous request for a new trial last week, with Stone citing she rejected his previous request to strike a juror.
  114. Stone claimed the juror “should have been removed for bias” because they are employed in a division of the IRS “that works hand-in-hand” with the DOJ. Berman said there was nothing in the questionnaire to back that.
  115. Shortly after, Trump told reporters prosecutors “ought to go back to school and learn.” Asked if he would pardon Stone, he said, “I don’t want to say yet. But people were hurt, viciously and badly by these corrupt people.”
  116. Trump, appearing alongside President Lenín Moreno of Ecuador, added, “I want to thank the Justice Department. And I didn’t speak to them, by the way. They saw the horribleness of a nine-year sentence for doing nothing.”
  117. Trump added, “You look at what happened, how many people were hurt, their lives were destroyed, and nothing happened with all the people that did it and launched this scam,” mentioning James Comey, Peter Strzok, and Lisa Page.
  118. When asked what lesson he learned from impeachment, Trump said, “That the Democrats are crooked. They’ve got a lot of crooked things going. They’re vicious. That they shouldn’t have brought impeachment.”
  119. On Wednesday, Michael Caputo, a former Trump associate and a friend of Stone, said a petition for Trump to pardon Stone had 120,000 signatures, claiming “Stone was targeted by dirty cops.”
  120. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee announced AG Barr is scheduled to testify in front of the panel on March 31, after taking the unusual step of intervening in Stone’s case.
  121. The committee said in a statement Barr will “address numerous concerns regarding his leadership of the Department of Justice and the President’s improper influence over the Department and our criminal justice system.”
  122. On Wednesday, in a speech at Georgetown University, Marie Yovanovitch warned that “right now the State Department is in trouble,” saying the department is being hollowed and senior leaders lack moral clarity.
  123. Yovanovitch added, “We need to re-empower our diplomats to do their job. We can’t be afraid to share our expertise or challenge false assumptions,” and that international institutions need “a reboot, not the boot.”
  124. On Wednesday, Sen. Graham again argued to publicly expose the identity of the whistleblower, telling reporters, “I’m very concerned that there are people who basically have had a political agenda and acted on it.”
  125. Later Wednesday, Trump told reporters he did nothing wrong in the Stone case, saying, “I didn’t speak to them [DOJ officials], by the way, just so you understand,” and added, “They saw the horribleness.”
  126. Trump added, “You have murderers and drug addicts, they don’t get nine years,” adding, “nobody can even define what he did?” Trump added prosecutors “ought to apologize” to people “whose lives they’ve ruined.”
  127. On Wednesday, WAPO reported a week after his acquittal, Trump is seeking to bend the executive branch as part of his impeachment vendetta against those he feels betrayed him.
  128. According to his aides and allies, Trump feels increasingly comfortable doing whatever he pleases, to the point of feeling untouchable in punishing his enemies and protecting his friends.
  129. Top aides say Trump has been told not to speak out on legal matters because DOJ officials could fear his wrath, but he responds, “I have a right to say whatever I want,” and they say, “He knows exactly what he’s doing.”
  130. Former chief strategist Stephen Bannon said Trump “is mad and he should be mad…Democrats and the media wasted three years of the nation’s time…Now he understands how to use the full powers of the presidency.”
  131. On Wednesday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, one of the Republicans who expressed hope last week Trump had learned his lesson, said, “there haven’t been very strong indicators this week that he has.”
  132. On Wednesday, NYT reported after Stone’s case, career prosecutors around the country are concerned about what comes next, and whether they will face more pressure from Trump.
  133. Reportedly Timothy Shea had encouraged prosecutors in the Stone case to use their discretion to deviate from guidelines and lower the sentencing, but acquiesced after three of the four prosecutors threatened to quit.
  134. Then on Tuesday, Barr and the deputy attorney general Jeffrey Rosen overruled him. Prosecutors in the office were skeptical that senior DOJ officials were not adequately warned about the recommendation.
  135. On Wednesday, CNN reported Jessie Liu submitted her resignation to the Treasury Department, after Barr moved her out of her role as head of the U.S. attorney office in D.C., and Trump pulled her nomination.
  136. On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned the House Financial Services Committee that the coronavirus epidemic “could lead to disruptions in China that spill over to the rest of the global economy.”
  137. On Tuesday, Just Security reported new partially unredacted versions of Office of Management and Budget emails first received January 22 shed further light on the standoff between the OMB and Pentagon over Ukraine aid.
  138. The emails revealed that the OMB, including the general counsel’s office, was fully aware of the Pentagon’s concerns but took steps to bury them, and that OMB misled and lied to the Government Accountability Office.
  139. The emails also revealed OMB and Pentagon officials fielded multiple requests from lawmakers in early August, and strategized about ways to “ignore” or “put them off.”
  140. Later Tuesday, Trump told reporters the U.S. military will look into taking disciplinary action against Alexander Vindman, saying, “if you look at what happened…they’re going to certainly I would imagine take a look at that.”
  141. Trump added that it was “going to be up to the military,” and said of how Vindman characterized his July 25 call, “I think what he did was just reported a false call.”
  142. On Wednesday, asked by reporters traveling with him to NATO meetings in Brussels, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, “I have not seen that news,” and, “I would just refer your questions” to the U.S. Army.
  143. On Wednesday, Daily Beast reported Vindman is not under Army investigation for now, despite Trump’s suggestions, citing Vindman did not commit a professional infraction by testifying.
  144. However another official noted in the the military’s “up or out” culture, Vindman’s career may not be safe. Being denied his next promotion would spell the end of his military career.
  145. On Thursday, the Atlantic reported on a 75-minute speech by former White House chief of staff John Kelly to students and guests at Drew University on Wednesday evening.
  146. Kelly defended Vindman for following his military training in reporting concerns, saying he “did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave,” adding, “he went and told his boss what he just heard.”
  147. Kelly also said Vindman was right to report the call because it signaled a major shift in U.S. policy toward Ukraine, akin to hearing “an illegal order,” adding, “We teach them, ‘Don’t follow an illegal order.’”
  148. Kelly also criticized Trump for attacking the media, saying, “The media…and I feel very strongly about this, is not the enemy of the people,” adding, “if you only watch Fox News…you are not an informed citizen.”
  149. Kelly questioned Trump’s summits with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, saying Kim “will never give his nuclear weapons up,” and, “I never did think Kim would do anything other than play us….he did that fairly effectively.”
  150. Kelly said of Trump rolling back disciplinary action against Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, “the idea that the commander in chief intervened there, in my opinion, was exactly the wrong thing to do.”
  151. Kelly also said he disagreed with how Trump characterized immigrants, saying, “they’re overwhelmingly good people,” and, “They’re not all rapists, and they’re not all murderers…it’s wrong to characterize them that way.”
  152. Shortly after, Trump attacked Kelly, tweeting, “When I terminated John Kelly, which I couldn’t do fast enough, he knew full well that he was way over his head. Being Chief of Staff just wasn’t for him.”
  153. Trump added of Kelly, “He came in with a bang, went out with a whimper, but like so many X’s, he misses the action & just can’t keep his mouth shut, which he actually has a military and legal obligation to do.”
  154. Trump added, “His incredible wife, Karen, who I have a lot of respect for, once pulled me aside & said strongly that ‘John respects you greatly. When we are no longer here, he will only speak well of you,’’’ adding, “Wrong!”
  155. On Thursday, Trump tweeted, “Now it looks like the fore person in the jury, in the Roger Stone case, had significant bias,” citing a segment on “Fox & Friends,” adding, “not looking good for the “Justice” Department.”
  156. Trump also quoted Fox News host Sean Hannity, tweeting, “Deven [sic] Nunes predicts that more examples of Mueller team misconduct will be revealed in coming weeks.”
  157. On Thursday, in a radio interview with Geraldo Rivera, Trump said he may no longer allow national security and foreign service staff to listen in on his calls with foreign leaders, after complaining about Vindman.
  158. When asked by Rivera why he allowed it, Trump responded, “Well, that’s what they’ve done over the years,” adding, “When you call a foreign leader, people listen. I may end the practice entirely. I may end it entirely.”
  159. Trump also said, “I’m not a fan of Vindman,” calling him “very insubordinate,” and adding, “Vindman was the guy that, when we took him out of the building, the whole building applauded.”
  160. Trump also admitted he personally sent Giuliani to Ukraine, despite his past denials. When asked if he was sorry he sent him, Trump said, “No, not at all,” and praised Giuliani’s role as a “crime fighter.”
  161. Trump added, when you ask “why did I use Rudy, and one of the things about Rudy, number one, he was the best prosecutor, you know, one of the best prosecutors, and the best mayor.”
  162. Trump added, “But also, other presidents had them. FDR had a lawyer who was practically, you know, was totally involved with government. Eisenhower had a lawyer. They all had lawyers.”
  163. When asked about the four prosecutors who resigned, Trump said, “I don’t think they quit the case, I think what they do is they felt they got caught… I don’t think they quit for moral reasons.”
  164. On Thursday, NYT reported Hope Hicks will return to the White House in a new role as “counselor to the president,” in which she will help Jared Kushner with project overseas and will also help with the re-election campaign.
  165. On Thursday, Trump also rehired former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former press secretary Sean Spicer, three years after being fired/pushed out, to join the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships.
  166. On Thursday, at her weekly news conference, Pelosi slammed Trump’s Stone intervention, calling it “an abuse of power,” and said he “is again trying to manipulate federal law enforcement to serve his political interest.”
  167. Pelosi added, “This is not what America is about. I would hope that Republicans who respect the rule of law, and I assume most of them do except for the aberration in the White House … would speak out on this.”
  168. On Thursday, Politico reported top lawyer on the House Intelligence Committee, Daniel Goldman, said a decision on whether to subpoena John Bolton will likely come in the “next couple of weeks.”
  169. On Thursday, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Trump traded barbs ahead of a scheduled meeting at the White House to discuss Trump’s DHS revoking Global Entry immigration for New York residents.
  170. Ahead of the meeting, Cuomo told MSNBC, “I have no problem with them looking at the database for Trusted Traveler Program people. But that’s not what it’s about,” saying, “It’s about retaliation.”
  171. Shortly after, Trump responded, tweeting that “National Security far exceeds politics,” and said, “New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harrassment [sic], start cleaning itself up, and lowering taxes.”
  172. New York prosecutors are investigating whether Trump and his businesses lied to insurance companies and broke state law. Trump also tweeted, “Build relationships, but don’t bring Fredo,” referring to his brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo.
  173. Politico reported Cuomo and Trump ended the meeting without resolution. NY AG Letitia James filed a lawsuit Monday saying the restrictions are only due to “political retribution.”
  174. On Thursday, in an afternoon interview with ABC News, AG Barr pushed back on Trump, saying, “I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody,” as questions about the DOJ’s independence continued.
  175. In an usual public rebuke from a cabinet member, Barr added, “I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases” — about the department, the people serving, and the cases.
  176. Barr also said Trump’s public statements “make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors and the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.”
  177. Barr insisted he had planned to modify Stone’s sentencing recommendation prior to Trump sending his tweet, but that Trump’s comments made the department look bad.
  178. CNN reported Barr spoke to Trump privately before the interview to express frustration, and that after he recorded it, and before it aired, the DOJ informed the White House of what Barr had said.
  179. WAPO reported according to people close to Barr he has become increasingly frustrated with Trump’s tweets about the DOJ, which have fostered doubts about the department’s independence.
  180. Also behind the fight is a deeper tension between Trump and Barr’s DOJ over criminal charges not having been brought against Comey, McCabe, Page, and Strzok.
  181. Shortly after, Press Sec. Grisham said Trump “has the right, just like any American citizen, to publicly offer his opinions,” adding he “uses social media very effectively to fight for the American people against injustices.”
  182. On Thursday, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell issued a rare statement in response to Trump’s attacks of Justice Amy Berman Jackson, saying, “Public criticism or pressure is not a factor.”
  183. Howell said judges in this court “base their sentencing decisions on careful consideration of the actual record in the case before them; the applicable sentencing guidelines…and their own judgment and experience.”
  184. On Thursday, in a joint statement, 41 elected prosecutors condemned Barr’s recent rhetoric that attacked progressive policies, calling his approach to criminal justice “dangerous and failed.”
  185. The prosecutors argued his approach disproportionately punished poor people and racial minorities, arguing he is trying to bring us back to a time when a “fear-driven narrative prevailed.”
  186. On Thursday, the Senate passed a resolution 55-to-45 to limit Trump’s power to order military action against Iran without first seeking Congressional approval. Eight Republicans joined Democrats.
  187. On Friday, Trump attacked Sen. Joe Manchin after the senator appeared on Fox News, tweeting he was “very surprised & disappointed” that he “voted against me on the Democrat’s totally partisan Impeachment Hoax.”
  188. Trump added, “Every Republican Senator except Romney, many highly religious people, all very smart, voted against the Impeachment Hoax,” and called Manchin “a puppet for Schumer & Pelosi.”
  189. On Friday, Trump continued his battle with Barr, tweeting a quote from his ABC interview saying Trump did not ask him to do anything, adding, “This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so.”
  190. Trump added, “I have so far chosen not to!” Trump shortly after also tweeted, “DRAIN THE SWAMP! We want bad people out of our government!”
  191. Shortly after, the DOJ revealed it would not charge McCabe with lying to investigators about a media disclosure years ago. WAPO reported Trump was not told about the McCabe decision in advance, and was upset.
  192. McCabe’s attorneys said, “We learned this morning through a phone call from the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office… that the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of Andrew McCabe has been closed.”
  193. It was unclear why charges that McCabe “lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions” were suddenly dropped, and no explanation was given.
  194. The Post reported White House lawyers, including Pat Cipollone, tried to calm Trump. One official said Trump “believes very strongly that action should be taken.” Aides advised him not to comment over the weekend.
  195. On Friday, McCabe told CNN, “I don’t think I’ll ever be free of this President and his maniacal rage that he’s directed towards me and my wife since October of 2016 for absolutely no reason whatsoever.”
  196. McCabe said he expected more retaliation: “He’s made it pretty clear in the way he’s conducted himself over the last week” that he’s on a “tour of retaliation against everyone who had anything to do with his impeachment inquiry.”
  197. Later Friday, NYT reported Barr assigned an outside prosecutor to review the case against former Trump adviser Flynn. The review is highly unusual and could trigger further accusations of political interference.
  198. Barr has also assigned a handful of outside DOJ prosecutors to review the handling by career prosecutors of other politically sensitive national-security cases in the U.S. attorney office in D.C.
  199. Over the past two weeks, the outside prosecutors have grilled career prosecutors on investigative steps, prosecutorial actions, and why they took them. The move comes as Barr also maneuvered to remove Jessie Liu.
  200. On Friday, Politico reported Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the annual Munich Security Conference for a meeting that the Trump regime tried to hide.
  201. The State Department did not announce the meeting which took place in Lavrov’s own dedicated meeting room at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof. Russian journalists traveling were alerted and wrote about it afterward.
  202. Lavrov’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, posted a photo of the two on Facebook and wrote that Pompeo had said “good luck” to those gathered in the hallway, adding that those who heard it in the hallway “gasped.”
  203. Asked about the meeting by Politico, the State Department said there had been a “pull aside” with Lavrov but gave no further details. It was not clear why the State Department did not disclose the meeting or its contents.
  204. On Friday, a memo made public by the House Foreign Affairs Committee regarding the killing of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani made no mention of an imminent threat, the rationale used by Trump to justify the attack.
  205. Committee Chair Eliot Engel said the report “directly contradicts” Trump’s “false assertion” he attacked Iran to prevent an imminent attack, calling Trump’s explanation to the American people “false, plain and simple.”
  206. On Friday, WAPO reported federal prosecutors are continuing to investigate Giuliani and his two associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, including interviewing a new witness last week.
  207. Parallel developments within the DOJ mean that one part of the department, the SDNY, is scrutinizing Giuliani’s activities, while another is setting up an “intake” process from Giuliani for information gathered in Ukraine about the Bidens.
  208. On Friday, WAPO reported in a sealed motion, Stone’s attorney asked for a new trial, one day after Trump tweeted the forewoman had “significant bias.” The basis of the motion was not known.
  209. Trump’s tweet was referencing Tomeka Hart, a former president of the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners who said on Facebook she “can’t keep quiet any longer” after the DOJ reduced its sentencing request.
  210. Hart wrote in her post, “It pains me to see the DOJ now interfere with the hard work of the prosecutors,” adding, “They acted with the utmost intelligence, integrity, and respect for our system of justice.”
  211. On Friday, Pelosi appointed Shanna Devine to lead the newly established Office of the Whistleblower Ombudsman. The position was established as part of a House rules package passed in January.
  212. On Friday, Michael Avenatti, the former attorney for Stormy Daniels over hush money payments from Trump, and a ferocious critic who flirted with running for president, was found guilty of trying to extort Nike.
  213. On Friday, Fox Business reported that Trump may take a victory lap at the Daytona 500 in his presidential limousine. NASCAR named Trump the grand marshal of the Daytona 500, the first time for a president to do so.
  214. On Saturday, Trump quoted a NYT story, tweeting, “Ralph Waldo Emerson seemed to foresee the lesson of the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump. ‘When you strike at a king,’ Emerson famously said, ‘you must kill him.’”
  215. Trump added, “Trump’s foes struck at him but did not take him down,” and adding, seeming to mock himself, “a triumphant Mr. Trump emerges from the biggest test of his presidency emboldened, ready to claim exoneration and take his case of grievance, persecution and resentment to the campaign trail.”
  216. In addition to asserting himself as a king in the tweets, Trump added to the article by the Times’ Peter Baker, “The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!”
  217. Trump also attacked McCabe, quoting Fox News host Laura Ingraham: “IG report on Andrew McCabe: Misled Investigators over roll in news media disclosure,” and adding, “IG RECOMMENDED MCCABE’S FIRING.”
  218. On Saturday, CNN reported Barr’s actions have sparked unease among prosecutors, including ordering U.S. attorney’s offices to participate in what are perceived as politically charged actions.
  219. The DOJ ordered prosecutors to hold news conferences, make public statements, and use social media to promote Barr’s efforts to crack down on sanctuary cities, but later backed off on the demand.
  220. The DOJ also instructed federal prosecutors to write op-eds pushing for the passage of pending legislation on fentanyl. In the past, prosecutors have been instructed not to comment publicly on pending legislation.
  221. Prosecutors in Manhattan, who handle handle high profile cases including foreign governments and the likes of Giuliani and his associates, and Michael Cohen, are also concerned about interference by Barr.
  222. Prosecutors say some clients have expressed concern about cooperating with investigations out of fear the DOJ could improperly interfere and put them in jeopardy.

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Copyright Amy Siskind February 15, 2020

Attorney General William Barr criticized Trump’s tweets about the Roger Stone case in an exclusive interview with ABC News Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas on February 13, 2020.