February 03, 2018

Week 64

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

The news this week was dominated by the Devin Nunes memo, which, following high drama and despite calls to withhold it from US intelligence leaders including Trump appointee Christopher Wray, was released on Friday. Trump suffered no consequences for making highly classified information public, nor for pushing out Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, almost assuring he will irreverently continue to take steps to undermine the Mueller probe, likely dispensing with Rod Rosenstein next. With few exceptions, Republicans remain silent and complicit.

This was also the week of Trump’s first State of the Union address which was a blur in the bedlam of Week 64. Critical stories about Russia’s slow creep into our country and Trump’s refusal to impose sanctions were the most alarming stories this week, yet received little attention. Nor did the stories about the continued dismantling of our executive branch agencies, and ICE ramping up their heinous activities, unchecked.

  1. On Sunday, Alexey Navalny, an anti-corruption opponent of Putin was dragged violently into a van while protesting in central Moscow. He was later released, pending trial. The US issued no statement on the arrest.
  2. On Monday, CIA director Mike Pompeo told BBC News that there has been no significant diminishing of Russian attempts at subversion in Europe and the US, and that Russia will likely target the US midterm elections.
  3. On Monday, a Russian jet buzzed an American spy plane over the Black Sea, in what the State Department characterized as an “unsafe” flyby. The encounter was first reported by Russia’s RIA news agency.
  4. On Tuesday, Russian news agency TASS first reported that Sergei Naryshkin, the director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (or SVR) visited the US for consultations with US counterparts to discuss the war on terror.
  5. On Wednesday, WAPO reported two Russian spy chiefs, Naryshkin and Alexander Bortnikov, who runs the FSB, came to DC to meet with Pompeo. A senior US intelligence official was called back from Moscow for the meeting.
  6. The head of Russia’s military intelligence also came to DC, but it is not clear if he met with Pompeo. The meetings raised concerns that the Trump regime is willing to move beyond the issue of election interference.
  7. Naryshkin is currently under sanctions imposed by the Obama administration for his alleged role in Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. SVR is also thought to have played a key role in US election interference.
  8. On Friday, CNN reported the CIA followed a multi-agency legal process to give Naryshkin access. In a letter to Sen. Chuck Schumer, Pompeo defended the meeting saying he and others met with Russians “to keep Americans safe.”
  9. Schumer said Pompeo’s meeting represented “a serious national security issue,” noting Pompeo did not directly acknowledge that he met with Russian counterparts, and his “refusal to answer that question is deeply troubling.”
  10. On Monday, the Trump regime announced it would not implement new sanctions against Russia, despite a law that passed almost unanimously in Congress in August to punish Russia for interfering in the 2016 election.
  11. Monday was the deadline to impose sanctions on anyone doing business with Russian defense and intelligence sectors. A State Department spokesperson said, “the mere threat of sanctions will deter Russia’s aggressive behavior.”
  12. On Tuesday, Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended the Treasury Department’s decision to delay implementation of Russia sanctions to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, vowing “there will be sanctions.”
  13. On Tuesday, BuzzFeed reported the Treasury Department lifted their list of Russian oligarchs from Forbes magazine’s ranking of the “200 richest businessmen in Russia 2017.” Treasury officials did not deny the charge.
  14. Democratic lawmakers blasted Trump for holding off on Russian sanctions, while Republicans stayed silent with the exception of Sen. Susan Collins who called the move “perplexing.”
  15. On Friday, Bloomberg reported that the Treasury Department memo argues imposing sanctions on Russia would slow Russian growth and provoke retaliation, and “could hinder the competitiveness” of US asset managers.
  16. Sen. Mark Warner, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Politico that in late 2017, his committee received “extraordinarily important new documents” on the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia.
  17. Warner noted, “We’re seeing this coordinated effort to try to impede the investigation.” The Senate Intelligence Committee, however, has remained functional. Warner added, “Mueller is getting closer and closer to the truth.”
  18. Daily Beast reported that Julian Assange messaged a Twitter account he thought was Sean Hannity inviting him to send a message through other channels, offering, “Have some news about [Sen Mark] Warner.”
  19. On Monday, NBC News reported the day after James Comey was fired, Trump called Andrew McCabe demanding to know why Comey was allowed to fly back from DC on a FBI plane. Trump was enraged Comey took a FBI plane.
  20. McCabe said he hadn’t been asked, but said he would have authorized it. Trump then attacked McCabe, suggesting he ask his wife how it feels to be a loser. McCabe responded, “OK, sir,” and hung up.
  21. On Monday, facing pressure from the Trump regime, conservative media and Republicans in congress, McCabe abruptly and unexpectedly announced he would step down as deputy FBI director.
  22. On Monday, Carl Bernstein slammed the “enablers” putting Trump ahead of the country, calling McCabe’s departure a “Monday Night Slaughter,” referencing Nixon’s famous Saturday Night Massacre.
  23. On Sunday, in an interview with British journalist Piers Morgan on Britain’s ITV, Trump also shared he sometimes tweets from bed, adding he is “very busy during the day, very long hours.”
  24. Trump said, “I wouldn’t say I’m a feminist,” but rather for all people. Trump also said women “really like” our military, adding “I think they want to be safe at home.”
  25. Trump dismissed global warming, saying that ice caps were going to melt but instead “they’re at a record level.” He also pushed back on global warming and climate change saying it’s “getting too cold all over the place.”
  26. The US Travel Association reported spending by international visitors fell sharply in 2017: through November 2017, spending dropped by 3.3%, which translates to $4.6 billion less spent and 40,000 lost jobs.
  27. Axios reported, according to National Security Council documents, the Trump regime is considering paying for and building a centralized nationwide 5G network, an unprecedented federal takeover of a historically private infrastructure.
  28. On Monday, Trump’s FCC chairman Ajit Pai spoke out against the regime’s plan, saying he would oppose, “any proposal for the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network.”
  29. Arizona Capitol Times reported that Trump supporters targeted a Navajo lawmaker, staffers, and children protesting congressional efforts to pass immigration reform, telling them “go home” and “get out of the country.”
  30. Boston Herald reported that illegal immigrants married to US citizens who are seeking to gain legal residency are being swept up by ICE. One spouse was arrested at his USCIS interview, an initial step for obtaining a green card.
  31. Chicago Tribune reported that Miguel Perez Jr., who served two tours in Afghanistan and has lived in the US since age 8, began a hunger strike to avoid deportation to Mexico, where he said he would face certain death. Perez was diagnosed with PTSD after serving, and had a felony drug conviction.
  32. Kansas City Star reported that ICE detained Syed Ahmed Jamal, a 54-year-old chemistry professor who has lived in the US for 30 years, as he was leaving his front-yard to take his seventh-grade daughter to school.
  33. Washington will no longer require residents to provide their place of birth in obtaining a license after the state’s licensing department was found to have been providing personal information of residents to ICE officials.
  34. The day after Harry Pangemanan took shelter from ICE at the Reformed Church in NJ, his two US-born daughters returned home to find the door-frame crushed and house ransacked.
  35. Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale said the home of Arthur Jemmy and Silfia Tobing, an Indonesian Christian couple who also entered sanctuary at Reformed Church to escape deportation in October, has also been ransacked.
  36. Arizona Legislature expelled GOP Rep. Don Shooter who was accused of sexually harassing several women around the state capital. At least a half dozen Arizona lawmakers have resigned or been forced out over sexual misconduct.
  37. VICE News reported Trump’s head of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Scott Lloyd, discussed using so-called “abortion reversal,” a controversial, scientifically unproven method, on an undocumented teen in the custody of his agency.
  38. Paul Nehlen, a Republican running for Congress in WI, tweeted a list of names of his “mostly Jewish” critics including phone numbers and email addresses, saying of his critics, “74 are Jews, while only 7 are non-Jews.”
  39. Boston Globe reported the Koch Brothers are ramping up spending on college campuses from $35 million in 2014 to $100 million in 2017, to promote far-right values and ideas and to invite conservative speakers.
  40. A new report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found the amount of white supremacist propaganda targeting college students has increased by 258 percent between fall 2016 and fall 2017.
  41. The ADL counted 346 incidents of hate propaganda spread on 216 college campuses in 44 states and DC since September 2016. ADL’s CEO said, “White supremacists are targeting college campuses like never before.”
  42. In a resolution passed at its annual winter meeting Friday, the Republican National Committee is siding with Trump on his order to ban transgender individuals from the military.
  43. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke named Paul Daniel Smith director of the National Park Service. A 2006 investigation found Smith “inappropriately used his position” to “circumvent NPS procedures,” allowing a NFL owner to cut down trees.
  44. On Tuesday, Politico reported Trump’s CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald bought shares of a tobacco company one month into her role which includes reducing tobacco use, the leading cause of preventable death.
  45. On Wednesday, Fitzgerald resigned. The tobacco stock was among at least a dozen purchases she made after taking the role as CDC head.
  46. WAPO reported, based on information obtained under the FOIA, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson was warned by agency officials that sending his son on a listening tour may violate ethics rules by “using his position” for private gain.
  47. Saying the immediate humanitarian emergency has subsided, as of January 31 FEMA said it will “officially shut off” the mission of providing potable water and food to residents of Puerto Rico.
  48. Nearly a third of Puerto Rico is still without electricity, and many residents, especially in remote areas, depended on FEMA for a steady supply of food and drinking water.
  49. The Environmental Defense Fund said, based on records obtained under the FOIA,  Trump’s EPA head Scott Pruitt was personally involved in removing climate change web pages from the agency’s website last April.
  50. On Tuesday, a February 2016 radio interview surfaced in which Pruitt said of Trump, if elected, he would “use executive power to confront Congress in a way that is truly unconstitutional.” This week, after a Senate hearing where Pruitt was questioned about the comments, the EPA sent out a statement from Pruitt lavishing praise on Trump.
  51. Vox reported on ways Pruitt is slowly “strangling his agency,” including rolling back regulations on companies he is meant to regulate, and halting or delaying implementation of laws and cleanup of Superfund sites.
  52. On Wednesday, after being overruled by the Supreme Court in the regime’s efforts to repeal the Obama era Clean Water Rule or Waters rule, Pruitt’s EPA announced instead it would delay implementation by two years.
  53. On Thursday, Tom Shannon, the third-ranking official at the State Department announced he was stepping down. Shannon, the most senior career diplomat at State with 34 years of experience, cited personal reasons.
  54. Bloomberg reported that with Shannon’s departure, seven of the nine top jobs at the State Department are vacant. Those roles oversee trade policy, nuclear weapon proliferation, refugee issues, and countering human trafficking.
  55. Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), requested zero funding for the second fiscal quarter of 2018. Mulvaney is known to want to dismantle the agency he now runs.
  56. A DC Circuit judge ruled the structure of the CFPB complies with the Constitution, a rebuke to the Trump regime which claimed having independent directors who Trump couldn’t fire without grounds robbed him of his constitutional powers.
  57. The Intercept reported Mulvaney stripped a CFPB office devoted to lending discrimination of its enforcement power, transferring the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity to a department under his purview.
  58. Mulvaney claimed the restructuring was an effort at streamlining, saying the office will now instead focus on consumer advocacy and education. Staffers say the office had taken on important cases of discrimination.
  59. On Friday, Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, in one of his first acts after being sworn in, granted Indiana permission to add work requirements to its Medicaid program, becoming the second state to do so.
  60. On Friday, K.T. McFarland withdrew her nomination to be ambassador to Singapore. Her confirmation stalled after senators asked if she answered truthfully about her knowledge of contacts between Michael Flynn and Sergey Kislyak.
  61. Trump appointed the husband of a former Trump household aide as an EPA official, the latest example of Trump appointing people with close ties to his family or businesses rather than those with relevant experience.
  62. Reversing the Obama-era push to reduce the US nuclear arsenal, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis unveiled a new nuclear strategy which includes two new types of weapons. Experts and Americans remain concerned about Trump’s volatility.
  63. An op-ed in South Korea daily Hankyroeh claimed White House NSC senior director Matthew Pottinger said in a closed-door meeting with Korean Peninsula experts a “bloody nose” strike on the North Korea “might help in the midterm elections.”
  64. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg announced she will not attend Trump’s first SOTU, as did ten members of the House, including Trump targets during 2017: Reps. John Lewis, Frederica Wilson, and Maxine Waters.
  65. On Tuesday, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, an immigration hardliner, announced he has asked the US Capitol Police and Jeff Sessions to check the identification of all State of the Union attendees, and arrest any illegal immigrants.
  66. Official tickets distributed for Trump’s State of the Union misspelled union as “uniom.” Trump’s WH blamed the sergeant-at-arms for the mistake, the sergeant-at-arms did not return a request for comment.
  67. On Monday, in a fundraising solicitation, Trump offered those willing to donate $35 or more to his reelection campaign the opportunity to see their name displayed during a live-streaming of the State of the Union.
  68. In a break from long-standing tradition, Melania rode to the State of the Union with her invited guests, arriving separately from Trump. The two have not been publicly seen together since New Year’s Eve.
  69. Also breaking tradition, Trump repeatedly clapped for himself during the State of the Union. Some found the non-stop clapping to be a distraction, while others questioned why Trump was repeatedly clapping for himself.
  70. Politifact reported that of the ten statements Trump made during the State of the Union, four were “Mostly False” and two “Half True.”
  71. After a State of the Union billed as a “unifying” speech to bridge a partisan divide, Trump’s first two tweets after on Thursday blasted Democrats, “Resist, Blame, Complain and Obstruct — and do nothing.”
  72. On Thursday, Trump claimed in a tweet that he had “the highest number” of viewers for his State of the Union in history. This claim is false — the 45.6 million viewers puts his speech in ninth place.
  73. Twitter notified the Senate Judiciary Committee that among its findings, Russian bots retweeted Trump almost half a million times in the final weeks before the 2016 election.
  74. Wired reported Mueller’s team has interviewed at least one Facebook employee who was involved Trump’s campaign. Questions may have involved whether the Trump campaign helped Russia target ads.
  75. Facebook embedded staff with the Trump campaign’s San Antonio–based digital team and sold more than 3,000 Facebook and Instagram ads to accounts linked to the Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency.
  76. On Tuesday, CNN reported Trump’s lawyers are arguing Mueller has not met the high threshold to introduce Trump in-person. Discussions are ongoing, and lawyer John Dowd said he would make the final decision.
  77. On Tuesday, NBC News reported Trump is privately telling friends and aides things are going great. Trump is convinced Paul Manafort will not flip, and he is sure tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks will get him re-elected.
  78. Trump reportedly has a two-track strategy for Mueller: either he will be let off with no charges, or he will discredit the investigation and the FBI without removing Mueller and ask Sessions to prosecute him and his team.
  79. On Wednesday, NYT reported that Mark Corallo, a former spokesperson for Trump’s legal team, plans to tell Mueller about a previously undisclosed conference call between him, Hope Hicks, and Trump on Donald Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting.
  80. During the call, Hicks said that emails written by Donald Jr. before the meeting “will never get out” because few people have access to them, leaving Corallo concerned she was contemplating obstruction of justice.
  81. Corallo reportedly was not only alarmed by what Hicks said, but also that she had said it with Trump on the phone without a lawyer, and therefore the conversation could not be protected by attorney-client privilege.
  82. Corallo contemporaneously shared his account with three colleagues, who later told the Times. He also immediately notified the legal team and jotted down notes to memorialize it. He also shared his concerns with Steve Bannon.
  83. On Wednesday, Mueller’s team filed a report seeking a 90 day delay in Flynn’s sentencing hearing. AP reported it is common for sentencing to be delayed until the government believes a person has fully cooperated.
  84. On Thursday, three lawyers for Rick Gates informed a federal court they are withdrawing from representing him in the Mueller probe. In Week 63, Gates hired attorney Tom Green, a sign that he may be seeking to cooperate.
  85. NYT reported that Trump’s re-election campaign raised $15.2 million in the last three months of last year, and about 25% went to legal fees, including fees in the Russia probe for Michael Cohen and the campaign.
  86. The Office of Government Ethics unofficially okayed a legal defense fund, the Patriot Legal Expenses Fund Trust, which will raise money from donors to pay the legal expenses of the members of the Trump regime in the Mueller probe.
  87. WAPO reported Trump broke from his own Justice Department, calling for the release of the Nunes memo. In Week 63, the DOJ said in a statement the release without official review would be “extraordinarily reckless.”
  88. Trump’s wishes were conveyed to Sessions by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in two conversations. Reportedly, Trump is frustrated and angry that he can’t issue orders to “my guys” at what he sometimes calls the “Trump Justice Department.”
  89. Trump has also been complaining about Rosenstein, who Trump refers to as “the Democrat from Baltimore,” (Rosenstein is not a Democrat), saying he should be fired for not properly supervising the Mueller probe.
  90. On Monday, Bloomberg reported Trump erupted on the flight back from Davos after learning the Department of Justice’s Stephen Boyd has issued a statement saying releasing the memo would be “extraordinarily reckless,” saying it undermined him.
  91. Trump met with Sessions and Wray at the White House last Monday. Kelly held separate meetings and calls with senior DOJ officials, adding a disclaimer that the White House isn’t expecting officials to do anything illegal or unethical.
  92. On Sunday, NYT reported Trump has long been mistrustful of Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller. Reportedly, Trump considered firing Rosenstein last summer, and has recently told associates he is frustrated with him.
  93. Fox News’s Sean Hannity and Republicans have recently ramped up attacks on Rosenstein, including Sessions in Week 63 as he said in a speech investigators must be free of bias.
  94. On the Sunday talks shows, Sen. Lindsey Graham said firing Mueller “would be the end” of Trump, and Sen. Collins said it “wouldn’t hurt” to protect Mueller through legislation. All other Republicans were silent.
  95. On Monday, the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines to make the Nunes memo public, citing transparency. Current and former intelligence officials expressed concern that releasing the memo could harm national security.
  96. Nunes has not reviewed the classified information underlying the memo, which was prepared by Republican staff. The committee also voted along party lines not to release the Democrat’s 10-page rebuttal memo.
  97. Using an obscure committee rule to make classified information public for the first time in the panel’s 40-plus-year history, Trump has five days to decide whether to release the memo, or if no decision, it will be released.
  98. The Nunes memo reportedly claims the FBI abused the FISA over its use of the dossier to get a FISA warrant on Carter Page. It cites the roles of McCabe and Rosenstein who appears to be the regime’s next target.
  99. WSJ reported Carter Page was on the US counterintelligence radar as far back 2013, well before the dossier. Page was interviewed by the FBI after he met Victor Podobnyy, a junior attaché at the Russian consulate in NYC.
  100. In March 2016, Trump named Page to WAPO as one of his five on his foreign policy advisory committee, along with Papadopoulos. Page had many unexplained trips to Moscow during 2016 and after the election.
  101. On Tuesday, at his weekly press conference, Speaker Paul Ryan backed making the Nunes memo public and investigating the FBI, “Let it all out, get it all out there. Cleanse the organization.”
  102. On Tuesday, WAPO reported both Rosenstein and Wray made a last-ditch plea to Kelly at the White House on Monday about the dangers of releasing the Nunes memo, saying the release could jeopardize classified information.
  103. Rosenstein also said the DOJ was not convinced the memo accurately describes its investigative practices. Kelly said Trump was still likely to release the memo. On Tuesday, Trump claimed he had still not read it.
  104. On Tuesday, Daily Beast reported that when Nunes was asked by Democrat Rep. Mike Quigley if his staff had talked to the White House on the memo, as had been the case with Nunes’s March claim of surveillance, Nunes refused to answer.
  105. On Wednesday, CNN reported in December 2017, Rosenstein went to the White House to ask for Trump’s help in fighting off document demands from Nunes. Instead Trump asked about the status of the Mueller probe.
  106. Rosenstein was reportedly caught off guard by Trump’s question, and demurred on the Russia investigation. Trump asked Rosenstein if he was “on my team,” to which he answered, “Of course, we’re all on your team.”
  107. On Wednesday, CNN reported, based on emails they obtained, FBI agent Peter Strzok co-wrote the first draft of the controversial Comey letter sent to Congress on newly uncovered Clinton emails just days before the 2016 election.
  108. Strzok also supported reopening the Clinton email investigation when the emails were discovered on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Republicans have in past weekly lists been painting Strzok as having been biased against Trump.
  109. On Wednesday, a transcript of the contentious Monday House Intelligence Committee meeting was released. Nunes said of the FBI and DOJ, “we are not going to be briefed by people that are under investigation by this committee.”
  110. On Wednesday, Wray’s FBI said in a statement, after a limited opportunity to review the memo, “we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact” its accuracy. Trump appointed Wray.
  111. On Wednesday night, Reuters reported an official of the Trump regime said the Nunes memo is likely to be released on Thursday. Rumors also circulated that Wray could quit if the memo is released.
  112. Late Wednesday night, Rep. Adam Schiff tweeted that he discovered Nunes had made material changes to the memo he sent to the White House, and therefore the White House is reviewing a document the House Intelligence Committee did not approve for release.
  113. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee say five changes were made to the memo, Republican say there were only two, which they described as “ “accommodations,” but not initiated by the White House.
  114. CNN reported in recent phone calls, Trump has told friends he believes the Nunes memo will expose bias at the FBI’s top ranks, thereby making it easier to argue that the Mueller probe is prejudiced against him.
  115. Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi sent letters to Ryan asking him to intervene in the Nunes memo’s release. Pelosi called Nunes’ actions “dangerous” and “illegitimate,” and said he should be removed as committee chair.
  116. The WAPO Editorial Board wrote that Speaker Ryan’s handling of the Nunes memo had tarnished the House, “Mr. Ryan bears full responsibility for the deterioration of congressional oversight of intelligence operations.”
  117. On Thursday, Comey defended his former colleagues from Republican attacks, tweeting “American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field, so long as good people stand up.”
  118. On Friday, ahead of the memo release, Trump attacked “top Leadership and Investigators” of the FBI and DOJ, both of whom he appointed, for having “politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats.”
  119. Former CIA director John McLaughlin said, “the bargain is the intelligence community gives congressional intelligence committees everything in exchange for impartiality, but the GOP has broken that trust.”
  120. On Friday, Sen. John McCain issued a statement criticizing Trump’s attacks on the FBI, saying “The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests — no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s.”
  121. On Friday, Trump approved release of the memo without redactions, saying from the Oval Office, “I think it’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country. . . . A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves and much worse than that.”
  122. When asked by reporters whether he has confidence in Rosenstein, Trump said, “You figure that one out.” Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a briefing earlier this week Rosenstein would remain in the regime “until Trump saw fit.”
  123. Friday afternoon, the DJIA closed down 666 points on market jitters related to the release the Nunes memo. This marks the biggest drop in the Dow since 2008, except for the day after the Brexit vote.
  124. AP reported information disclosed in the memo “ is extraordinary because it involves details about surveillance of Americans, national security information the government regards as among its most highly classified.”
  125. The memo accuses those who approved the FISA application of Page — a group including Comey, Sally Yates, McCabe and Rosenstein — of being politically motivated and relying on the dossier paid for by the DNC.
  126. The FISA application on Page was granted and renewed three times. Even without the dossier, this renewal would only have been granted if the judge believed surveillance was yielding information about the target.
  127. Ironically, the memo’s conclusion states: “The Papadopoulos information triggered” the FBI opening a counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 into the Trump campaign and Russia — not the dossier.
  128. Conservative media outlets, including Fox News and the Washington Examiner, were given key points from the Trump regime before the Nunes memo was released to the public.
  129. Despite being recused from the Russia investigation, Sessions weighed in backing Trump on the memo in a statement: “I have great confidence in the men and women of this Department. But no Department is perfect.”
  130. On Friday evening, Nunes admitted on Fox News that he did not read the application for surveillance which was the basis for his classified memo. Nunes admitted he relied on the review of committee member Trey Gowdy.
  131. On Wednesday, Rep. Gowdy became the latest Republican who chairs a committee to announce he will not seek reelection. So far, 41 Republican House members have announced they will not run for Congress in 2018.
  132. On Friday, Democratic leadership including Pelosi, Schumer, top leadership in both chambers, and top Democrats on the Intelligence and Judiciary committees wrote in a letter to Trump that firing Rosenstein would spark a “constitutional crisis.”
  133. On Friday, Weekly Standard reported that Nunes says there will be more memos coming, adding “We are in the middle of what I call ‘Phase Two’ of our investigation, which involves other departments,” including State.
  134. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction,” calling it an “American disgrace.”
  135. Trump also cited in a tweet a bump up in his polling numbers at Rasmussen where his approval rating is up to 49%. Trump approval numbers also improved to 42% in a Monmouth poll this week.
  136. In an op-ed “Why I Am Leaving the FBI,” Josh Campbell, a former supervisory special agent, said “relentless attacks on the bureau undermine” not just the premier law enforcement agency, but also “the nation’s security.”
  137. Citing Trump’s extreme abuse of norms, Preet Bharara and Christine Todd Whitman announced a bipartisan project to review informal rules and recommend which should be enshrined into law.
  138. WSJ reported that in Trump’s first months in office, while Melania and Barron were living in New York, Melania took 21 flights on Air Force jets in a three-month span at a cost of more than $675,000 to taxpayers.
  139. Palm Beach Post reported that Trump sued the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser over the valuation of his Trump National Golf Club. The county sent a bill for $398,315. Trump responded by suing and paying $296,595.
  140. Sen. Ron Johnson, who in Week 63 said he had an informant about a non-existent “secret society,” requested the DOJ turn over texts and emails from 16 additional FBI and DOJ employees, including Comey and McCabe.

THE LIST — weeks 1–52 of The Weekly List are coming out as a book! You can pre-order your copy by clicking here.

Copyright Amy Siskind, February 3, 2018

Democratic lawmakers, dressed in black to make a statement in support of women impacted by sexual assault and harassment, listen as Trump delivers his State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber on January 30.