March 03, 2018

Week 68

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

This was Trump’s worst week since taking office. So far.

This week Trump lost loyalist Hope Hicks, and along with the broadening and deepening Trump-Russia probe, Trump became even more unhinged, angry and erratic, deciding by midweek he would ignore all experts and party loyalists and unilaterally act — first on gun control, which he retracted a day later, and then imposing tariffs, again against the counsel of all around him. Also striking out at and threatening to fire or push out almost everybody left in leadership in his shrinking regime, including his son-in-law and daughter, while low and mid-level staffers raced for the exits.

The length of this list will stand testament to what it felt like to live in America this week. Trump’s daily rages and outrageous, puerile, unpredictable behavior have stunned our country and the world. There is almost no aspect of Trump or his White House operating with a semblance of what have been our democratic norms, or a sense of order and balance. Complete, and ongoing meltdown.

  1. The Trump campaign used a photo of a 17-year-old Parkland survivor surrounded by her family in a hospital room in an email sent Saturday soliciting donations for the campaign.
  2. On Saturday, at CPAC, columnist Mona Charen criticized the “hypocrites” in the GOP for being silent about sexual harassers and abusers of women who are in the party. Charen was booed and had to be escorted out.
  3. On Saturday, tentative plans for Mexican President Peña Nieto to make his first visit to the White House were canceled after a testy call with Trump in which Trump refused to publicly affirm that Mexico won’t pay for his wall.
  4. Roberta Jacobson, US ambassador to Mexico, quit amid tense relations with Trump. Jacobson was one of the most experienced Latin America experts in the State Department, with 31 years of experience in the region.
  5. Numerous colleges sent emails and tweets to students and parents advising high schoolers that getting suspended for being involved in protests on gun control will not hurt them in the admissions process.
  6. On Saturday, House Democrats released a 10-page rebuttal to the Nunes memo, redacted over a two week period by the FBI, countering claims that top FBI and DOJ officials abused their power spying on Carter Page.
  7. The memo said Page was interviewed by the FBI “multiple times about his Russian intelligence contacts” in March 2016, the same month he joined the Trump campaign. The FBI originally took interest in Page in 2013.
  8. The memo also says the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Russian election interference began on July 31, and by September 2016 the bureau had numerous “sub-inquiries” into Trump campaign associates
  9. Contrary to the Nunes memo’s accusation, the FBI received the dossier in September 2016, so the dossier played no role in the FBI’s initial probe.
  10. The October 2016 surveillance warrant application against Page, as well as the three subsequent renewals, were approved by federal judges appointed by Republicans. The court knew who paid for the dossier.
  11. The memo also says Russian agents previewed their hack and dissemination of stolen emails to George Papadopoulos. Shortly after, Trump said publicly that Russia would be richly rewarded for releasing the emails.
  12. On Saturday, after the memo was released, Trump took to Twitter, tweeting the Democratic memo is “a total political and legal BUST,” and “FBI did not disclose who the clients were” — which is false.
  13. Trump’s Twitter rant coincided with Fox News programming. He tweeted the Russia investigation is a “Witch Hunt” and parroted a line on Fox News, “Russians had no compromising information on Donald Trump.”
  14. Trump partially quoted a Fox News anchor in a tweet, but omitted five words, changing the meaning: “Congressman [Adam] Schiff, he argues the Republican memo omitted and distorted key facts,” was changed to, “Congressman Schiff omitted and distorted key facts.”
  15. On Saturday evening, Trump made an unscheduled appearance on Jeanine Pirro’s show, calling Democrats sore losers, the memo “a very bad document for their side” and attacking Rep. Schiff, referring him “a bad guy.”’
  16. NYT reported that Sens. Richard Burr and Mark Warner, the chair and top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, demanded a meeting with Speaker Paul Ryan last month after learning Rep. Devin Nunes had leaked Warner’s private texts.
  17. The texts were between Warner and Adam Waldman, a Russian-connected lawyer in an effort to arrange a meeting with Christopher Steele. Fox News, Trump and others used the texts in an effort to discredit Warner in Week 65.
  18. Trump said Saturday he would like a military parade “with a lot of plane flyovers” to be held in Washington DC on Veterans Day, adding we’ll see if we can do it at a “reasonable cost,” but “the generals would love to do it.”
  19. On Sunday, China’s Communist Party abolished term limits, clearing the way for President Xi to stay in power indefinitely. Neither the State Department nor Trump had a statement to this surprising move.
  20. On Sunday, Axios reported Trump talks privately about executing all big drug dealers. According to a source, Trump admires the Chinese and Filipinos who don’t have drug problem, because “they just kill them.”
  21. NYT reported the Norwegian Nobel Committee has uncovered what appears to be two forged nominations of Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. The matter has been referred to the Oslo police for investigation.
  22. On Monday, a new CNN poll found Trump’s approval was down to 35%, matching the low point. Trump’s disapproval stood at 58%.
  23. An AP-NORC poll found 57% of adults think Trump is racist, including more than 8 in 10 blacks and three-quarters of Hispanics.
  24. A report released by the Urban Institute found in 2019 6.4 million fewer Americans will have health insurance as a result of the GOP eliminating the individual health care mandate, and other policy changes by Trump.
  25. On Monday, the ACLU sued the Trump regime for unlawfully separating a Congolese woman from her 7-year-old daughter by holding them in far apart immigration facilities, after they sought asylum four months ago.
  26. On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected the regime’s request to speed up the legal fight over protections for Dreamers, removing some of the urgency for Congress to craft a legislative fix for DACA.
  27. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled immigrants can be held by US immigration officials indefinitely without receiving bond hearings, a blow to immigrant advocates who asked for a six-month maximum period.
  28. BuzzFeed reported Scott Lloyd, head of Trump’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, said under deposition that he does not believe undocumented immigrants have the constitutional right to an abortion “because of their immigration status.”
  29. ProPublica obtained chat logs of Atomwaffen, a white supremacist group, revealing they celebrated the fatal stabbing of a 19-year-old gay and Jewish University of Pennsylvania student Blaze Bernstein by Samuel Woodward, an avowed neo-Nazi.
  30. On Tuesday, a report released by the Anti-Defamation League showed anti-Semitic activity shot up 57% in 2017 (1,986 incidents), the largest single-year increase since the organization started tracking data in the 1970s.
  31. On Monday, in a rebuke to Jeff Sessions, a federal court ruled that a 1964 civil rights law bans workplace discrimination against LGBTQ individuals: “sexual orientation discrimination constitutes a form of discrimination.”
  32. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expressed solidarity in a statement with “Last Men in Aleppo” producer Kareem Abeed, who was denied a visa to attend the Academy Awards due to Trump’s travel ban.
  33. On Tuesday, the faculty at Lehigh University voted to rescind Trump’s honorary degree bestowed on him in 1988. Last October, the Lehigh board was presented a petition signed by 35,000, but took no action.
  34. On Tuesday, NYT reported Housing and Urban Development officials spent $31,000 on a new dining room set for Secretary Ben Carson in late 2017, at the same time as the agency proposed cuts to programs for the homeless, elderly, and poor.
  35. On Thursday, CNN reported Carson plans to cancel the order, saying “I was as surprised as anyone to find out that a $31,000 dining set had been ordered,” adding he will find other options, perhaps used furniture.
  36. On Thursday, Equifax announced an additional 2.4 million customers had their information breached in a hack. In Week 65, acting director Mick Mulvaney said he would pull back on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s investigation of Equifax.
  37. WSJ reported Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked UCLA not to post a video of his recent public appearance where he was repeatedly heckled by students. Marketplace did post the audio and transcript of the event.
  38. On Monday, Politico reported Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency has experienced a surge in open records lawsuits due to lack of transparency: 55 FOIA requests have been filed since Trump took office, compared to 11 in Obama’s final year.
  39. On Monday, Pruitt’s EPA announced a reorganization in which the National Center for Environmental Research, best known for studying the effects of chemicals on children, will no longer exist, but will merge with other groups.
  40. On Tuesday, Trump directed the EPA to roll back the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule, a sweeping clean water rule viewed as one of Obama’s signature environmental legacies.
  41. On Thursday, bowing to widespread criticism, Pruitt said he would fly coach, despite “unprecedented” threats against him. In Week 67, Rep. Trey Gowdy asked Pruitt’s office for waivers that would allow Pruitt to fly first class.
  42. Politico revealed tapes of Pruitt on talk radio in 2005. He dismissed evolution as unproven theory, said majority religions were under attack, and said the Constitution should be amended to ban abortion and gay marriage.
  43. Politico reported former head of the Federal Railroad Administration Heath Hall’s side gig as a public relations consultant was far more extensive than previously reported, including communicating with county officials on PR work and regularly sending invoices.
  44. Axios reported Trump has put his personal pilot, John Dunkin, on the short list to head the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency has a budget of over $16 billion, 45,000 employees, and oversees all US civil aviation.
  45. On Friday, Trump tapped Peter Wright, a corporate lawyer at Dow Chemical since 1999, to run an EPA office which oversees emergency response to hazardous spills and cleanups of the nation’s most toxic sites.
  46. On Monday, in a meeting with national governors, Trump said he would have rushed in to Parkland high school if a shooting was happening, adding “I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon.”
  47. Trump added at the meeting he was misunderstood, and doesn’t want to arm all teachers, rather only the teachers with “natural talent,” comparing it to “hitting a baseball, or hitting a golf ball, or putting.”
  48. WSJ reported the White House legal team is considering ways Trump could testify before Robert Mueller, providing questions are limited in scope and don’t test Trump’s recollections in ways that could trap him into perjuring himself.
  49. NYT reported Mueller’s team has requested and received documents from Skadden on its Ukraine work, beyond Alex van der Zwaan. Skadden also does work for Russian oligarchs and companies with close ties to Putin.
  50. On Tuesday, the Patriot Legal Expense Fund Trust filed paperwork with the IRS and registered in Delaware as a political committee to help defray the legal costs of “eligible persons” involved in the Russia investigation.
  51. Questions remain about the vetting of donors, transparency on contribution amounts, and how the funds will be allocated. WAPO counts at least 48 staffers who have given interviews to Mueller and/or Congress.
  52. ABC News reported Michael Flynn has said he will not accept support from the fund. Flynn will also not accept funds from “Trump, the Trump Organization, or the campaign.” Others have yet to publicly respond.
  53. On Tuesday, in the UK, MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee grilled Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica, over the company’s role in the US election and Brexit. Nix denied any wrongdoing.
  54. On Tuesday, NBC News that reported US intelligence developed substantial evidence that Russia compromised seven states before the 2016 presidential election, but the states were not notified.
  55. Russian breaches of the seven states — Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas, and Wisconsin — range from entry into state websites to penetration of actual voter registration databases.
  56. Not until September 2017, Week 45, did the Department of Homeland Security contact all states, letting 21 of them know they were targeted by Russia and some attacks were successful. The DHS informed them and the media on a Friday evening.
  57. On Tuesday, when asked by Sen. Jack Reed at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, National Security Agency chief Mike Rogers testified he has not been formally asked by Trump to take steps to disrupt Russian election hacking activity.
  58. Rogers added when asked if Russia is seeking to interfere still, “I believe they are attempting to undermine our institutions.” Press secretary Sarah Sanders said there could be action in the “coming weeks and months.”
  59. On Wednesday, CNN reported Mueller’s team has been asking witnesses about Trump’s business activities in Russia in the time prior to his announcement that he would run for president in 2016.
  60. Questions include when Trump became serious about running and how it coincided with his business ventures, centering on the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and discussions to brand a Trump Tower Moscow.
  61. Trump’s lawyers told the Senate Judiciary Committee he made $12.2 million and a “substantial portion” came from the Miss Universe pageant. Mueller also wants to know if Trump’s meetings with Russian government and business could have resulted in possible “kompromat.”
  62. On Wednesday, Reuters reported that regulator New York State Department of Financial Services requested information from Deutsche Bank, Signature Bank, and New York Community Bank on their lending relationships with Jared Kushner.
  63. On Wednesday, NYT reported Kushner’s family real estate got loans from Apollo and Citigroup shortly after executives from those companies met with Kushner at the White House, in his capacity as a White House official.
  64. Apollo lent $184 million in November to refinance a skyscraper in Chicago, triple the size of the average Apollo property loan. Apollo advised the Trump regime on infrastructure and Joshua Harris, a founder of Apollo who met with Kushner, discussed a possible White House position.
  65. Citigroup lent the family and one of its partners $325 million to finance office buildings in Brooklyn. The loan was made in the spring of 2017, shortly after Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat met with Kushner at the White House.
  66. On Friday, AP reported that the SEC dropped its inquiry into Apollo’s loan to Kushner late last year. The SEC declined to comment on why they had halted the investigation.
  67. On Wednesday, NBC News reported Mueller’s team is asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Trump knew in advance Democratic emails had been stolen and that WikiLeaks planned to publish the emails.
  68. Mueller’s team has been questioning on a news conference Trump held on July 27, 2016, days after WikiLeaks began publishing the emails, when he said “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
  69. At this same time, Trump said he said he was open to lifting sanctions on Russia and possibly recognizing its annexation of Crimea in Ukraine, an unusual position for a Republican and not popular with the base.
  70. Witnesses were asked if Trump knew John Podesta had been targeted, if Trump was advised to make the statement about emails from someone outside his campaign, and if Trump tried to coordinate the release to damage Hillary.
  71. Witnesses are also being asked about Roger Stone’s contacts with WikiLeaks during the campaign and if he’s ever met with Julian Assange, and whether this was part of a larger plot.
  72. On Tuesday, The Atlantic revealed a screenshot of private Twitter messages between Stone and WikiLeaks. Stone told the House Intelligence Committee in September he had communicated with WikiLeaks via an “intermediary.”
  73. On Wednesday, in an interview on CNN, Republican Rep. Tom Rooney, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, called for the committee to end its Russia investigation, saying “because I don’t think it’s appropriate.”
  74. On Thursday, Putin unveiled a new array of nuclear-capable weapons which he claimed renders defenses “useless.” Trump has yet to acknowledge or speak out against Russian interference in our election.
  75. Putin also boasted about Russia’s military might with a video which show nuclear warheads raining down on what appears to be an outline of Florida, home of Trump’s winter White House, Mar-a-Lago.
  76. On Thursday, Rick Gates told a federal court that he and his wife believe it’s “not prudent” to travel to Boston with their children for a family vacation after feeling threatened by an online commenter invoking Russian mafia.
  77. The DOJ’s inspector general is expected to criticize former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe for authorizing the disclosure of information about a continuing investigation into Hillary and Obama’s DOJ to journalists, giving Trump further reason to condemn McCabe, even though McCabe’s revelations were not about Trump.
  78. On Wednesday, Paul Manafort was arraigned in Washington DC, where he pleaded not guilty to a revised, five-count indictment. Manafort was set to be arraigned in Alexandria on Friday to 18 new and modified charges, but the hearing was postponed due to weather.
  79. ABC7 in Chicago reported that records relating to Stephen Calk’s $16 million in loans to Manafort described in Week 67 have been subpoenaed by his wife’s attorney in divorce court.
  80. On Thursday, CNN reported FBI counterintelligence officials are investigating Ivanka’s involvement with the negotiations and financing surrounding Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver.
  81. The development opened in February 2017, just after Trump took office, and was done with Joo Kim Tiah, a member of one of Malaysia’s wealthiest families. It is unclear whether Mueller is interested in this deal.
  82. On Thursday, NBC News reported Mueller is building a case for criminal charges against Russians who hacked and leaked DNC and Podesta emails in order to hurt Democrats in the 2016 election.
  83. The leak of the emails through WikiLeaks was cited by Trump at least 145 times during the campaign. Indictments would delve into the details of, and the people behind, the Russian intelligence operation to hack emails.
  84. On Friday, NBC News reported Mueller’s team is investigating whether Kushner’s business discussions with foreign officials during the transition shaped White House policies to benefit or retaliate against people he spoke with.
  85. Mueller’s team has asked witnesses about Kushner’s efforts to secure financing for his family’s real estate transactions, and discussions with individuals from Qatar, Turkey, Russia, China, and the UAE.
  86. Kushner’s family reached out to a Qatar sovereign fund about investing in troubled 666 Fifth Avenue. Kushner also held a meeting in December 2016 in Trump Tower with the former PM of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim (HBJ).
  87. After talks with the fund and HBJ collapsed, the White House backed a punishing blockade against Qatar lead by Saudi Arabia and UAE. Qatari government officials claim to have evidence of Saudi Arabia and UAE coordinating with Kushner, but have not yet turned it over to Mueller.
  88. Mueller’s team also has reached out for information on Kushner to Turkish nationals through the FBI’s legal attache office in Ankara. It is unclear if Mueller has reached the Turkish nationals, and what is under scrutiny.
  89. On Friday, WAPO reported the payment to Stephanie Clifford took place on October 27, 13 days after the initial deadline after the deal fell apart and then came together again, as more women were coming forward.
  90. That the payment was made just 12 days before the election could impact two complaints filed with the FEC which argue that the payment was intended to influence the election and violated campaign finance law.
  91. NPR reported Russian politician Alexander Torshin has methodically cultivated ties with leaders of the NRA over six years in an effort to leverage those connections and gain deeper access into US politics.
  92. In Week 62, McClatchy reported the NRA had funneled $30 million to the Trump campaign. In a letter to Ron Wyden of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the NRA denied wrongdoing and said the FBI is investigating Torshin, not the NRA.
  93. On Monday, the Trump Organization said it has donated the hotel profits from foreign governments to the US Treasury, but declined to identify the foreign customers or the amounts.
  94. On Monday, when asked about Trump’s sexual misconduct in an interview with NBC News, Ivanka said “I believe my father, I know my father. So I think I have that right as a daughter to believe my father.”
  95. On Monday, Melania parted ways with Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who was working as an unpaid senior adviser to the First Lady, amid backlash on Winston Wolkoff’s $26 million inauguration contract.
  96. On Tuesday, Trump’s White House finally began the process of responding to petitions on their website with over 100,000 signatures. Only a few petitions gained a response including a request not to defund the National Endowment for the Arts.
  97. On a petition with 1.1 million signatures requesting that Trump release his tax returns, the White House answered no, saying “this petition is not within the scope of the Terms of Participation of We the People.”
  98. WAPO reported on lingering questions on how Melania was able to obtain a green card in the elite EB-1 program, typically reserved for the likes of renowned academics, multinational business executives, or Olympians.
  99. Melania was also then in a position to sponsor US residency for her parents. Trump has proposed ending the sponsorship of relatives, tweeting “CHAIN MIGRATION must end now!” saying relatives “can be truly evil.”
  100. On Saturday, AP reported Trump officials were fighting efforts to be physically evicted from the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Pamana they manage. The owner claims the Trump name is hurting business.
  101. Orestes Fintiklis, who owns the property, filed termination notices for Trump management. Witnesses told AP Trump officials were seen carrying files to an office where the sounds of a shredding machine could be heard.
  102. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Panamanian police handcuffed a security guard working for Trump, who was detained for denying officers access to hotel offices. Physical altercations between security guards continued.
  103. The Panamanian Labor Ministry is investigating whether Trump employees have disregarded lawful orders from their employer. Trump and US officials have not made any public statements about the situation.
  104. On Tuesday, breaking a three day silence, Trump tweeted about the Russia investigation, calling it a “WITCH HUNT,” again included commentary from Fox News, and adding Hillary should investigated for “criminality.”
  105. On Tuesday, Trump tapped Brad Parscale, digital media director of his 2016 campaign, to run his re-election bid. The news was first reported by The Drudge Report. Experts noted the announcement came unusually early.
  106. AP reported Parscale sold his company, Giles-Parscale, in August for $9 million to CloudCommerce Inc., which is listed as a penny stock. In 2006, the CEO of CloudCommerce was caught trying to bribe a FBI agent.
  107. On Tuesday, Politico reported White House aides working on the highest-level interim clearances were notified last Friday in a memo that their clearance would be downgraded to the Secret level.
  108. Kushner is among the officials who lost access to Top Secret/SCI-level (sensitive compartmented information) information, who will no longer be able to see presidential daily briefs or have unfettered access.
  109. On Tuesday, WAPO reported four Commerce Department appointees lost their security clearance over issues with background checks. CNN noted the White House chief calligrapher has a higher security clearance than Kushner.
  110. Bloomberg reported more than 30 Trump aides were downgraded to lower-level “secret” interim security clearances. None have yet been asked to leave, but their portfolios on top secret matters will be redistributed.
  111. Sen. Chuck Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for answers from the WH and the FBI on how several of these staffers, including Kushner, had access to the highly classified President’s Daily Brief.
  112. On Tuesday, WAPO reported officials in at least four countries have discussed ways to manipulate Kushner by taking advantage of his complex financial dealings, liquidity issues, and lack of foreign policy experience.
  113. The four countries are the UAE, China, Israel, and Mexico; but it is unclear if any acted on their discussions. Mueller has asked what protocols Kushner used to set up conversations with foreign leaders.
  114. Sources say H.R. McMaster learned that Kushner had contact with foreign officials that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report. White House officials were concerned Kushner was “naive and being tricked.”
  115. McMaster learned about Kushner’s contacts at daily intelligence briefings, where reports of foreign officials talking about their meetings with Kushner and their perceptions of his vulnerabilities were raised.
  116. On Tuesday, Axios reported senior communications official Josh Raffel resigned from the White House. Raffel was a point person internally for Kushner and Ivanka.
  117. Last fall, Raffel was promoted to deputy communications director and worked closely with Hope Hicks. His departure comes as the Mueller probe intensifies, and Kushner’s security clearance was revoked.
  118. On Tuesday, Hope Hicks spent nine hours behind closed doors testifying before the House Intelligence Committee. Hicks would only answer questions about her time on the campaign, and a limited amount about the transition.
  119. NYT reported that Hicks acknowledged to lawmakers that her work for Trump sometimes requires her to tell “white lies,” but claimed she did not lie to Mueller about the Russia investigation and links to Trump associates.
  120. On Wednesday, Hope Hicks resigned as White House communications director. Hicks was one of Trump’s longest-serving, and one of his most loyal advisers. Hicks was Trump’s fourth communications director.
  121. On Wednesday, CNN’s Erin Burnett reported that according to one of Trump’s close allies, Trump berated Hicks after her House Intelligence Committee hearing where she revealed she was sometimes required to tell “white lies.”
  122. On Wednesday, Trump attacked Sessions again, tweeting why is Sessions “asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse…..Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!”
  123. For the first time, Sessions responded in a statement, saying he acted appropriately referring the case, and the DOJ “will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution.”
  124. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Trump referred to Sessions as “Mr. Magoo,” the bumbling cartoon character. Trump is also complaining to associates that Sessions isn’t defending him to the best of his abilities.
  125. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Mueller is investigating Trump’s efforts to fire Sessions last July, and whether the goal was to pick a replacement who would exercise control over the probe into Trump-Russia coordination.
  126. Mueller’s team is also investigating Trump’s effort to fire Sessions in the spring of 2017. Mueller is examining whether the firing is part of a pattern of attempted obstruction, by changing the direction of the Russia probe.
  127. On Wednesday, WAPO reported aides for Trump keep folders on Republicans who have criticized Trump. When Sen. Bob Corker reconsidered running in 2018, Trump aides reminded him to not fully support Corker.
  128. On Thursday, NBC News reported McMaster will be leaving the White House as early as next month, in a move supposedly orchestrated by John Kelly and James Mattis. This would be the second NSA to leave the Trump regime.
  129. McMaster is a widely respected military general. He has clashed repeatedly with Trump, most recently in Week 66 when McMaster said at the German conference that Russian interference is “incontrovertible.”
  130. On Thursday, BuzzFeed reported that many mid- and low-level White House staffers viewed loyalist Hicks’ resignation as a tipping point, and are actively looking for jobs. The White House has an atmosphere of low morale.
  131. Also causing frustration is Trump going rogue on issues like gun control and tariffs, breaking with GOP positions. Although Trump values loyalty above all else, many Trump loyalist have left or are trying to leave.
  132. On Thursday, CNN reported the tumult of recent days has left Trump seething with anger. Although Trump is trying to change the subject, allies of Trump’s describe a sense of “meltdown” at the White House.
  133. On Thursday, NYT reported Trump is isolated and angry, and carries a bitter feud with Sessions, lashing out with a vitriol that is stunning members of his staff. Trump calls Sessions’ recusal the “original sin.”
  134. NYT reported White House morale has sunk to a new low. Kelly reportedly joked about his move to the White House from the Department of Homeland Security: “God punished me.”
  135. NYT also reported that aides claim while Trump has told Kushner and Ivanka that they should stay and keep serving in their roles, he has also privately asked Kelly for his help in moving them out.
  136. On Thursday, despite it not being on his schedule as of 9 p.m. the night before, Trump summoned business leaders in the steel and aluminum industries for what was described as a listening session.
  137. Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic adviser, had warned Trump not to impose tariffs, and had said he would resign if Trump did so. Trump did not actually listen to industry leaders, instead he mostly talked.
  138. At the end of the session, in a populist move seemingly designed to appeal to his base, Trump announced he would impose long-term tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, without a White House legal review. The DJIA plunged roughly 500 points after Trump made his announcement.
  139. This marked the second time this week — gun control and tariffs — that Trump had, without notice, broken from GOP traditional positions. Republicans spoke out publicly against him, especially on tariffs.
  140. Thursday evening, after meeting with Trump and Pence in the Oval Office, Chris Cox, an NRA lobbyist, tweeted that Trump had backed off from his Wednesday support for gun control measures.
  141. Trump acknowledged the same, tweeting an hour later at 10 p.m., “Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!.”
  142. Trump was widely criticized by conservatives and conservative media for comments at the gun control meeting with lawmakers, when he said “take the guns first, go through due process second.”
  143. Think Progress reported Trump ally Carl Icahn sold off his $31.3 million stake in Manitowoc Company, a company heavily dependent on steel to manufacture its products, a week before Trump’s decision on tariffs.
  144. On Friday, Electrolux, Europe’s largest home appliance maker, said it would delay a planned $250 million investment in Tennessee, citing Trump’s tariff hike could cause a “pretty significant” hike in steel prices.
  145. On Friday, Bloomberg reported that Anthony Scaramucci is on the White House “exclusion list” for entrance. Scaramucci believes Kelly is behind the move, “Does the president want to lose everyone because of General Jackass?”
  146. McClatchy reported Sen. Bill Nelson, the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, called on Twitter to explain how imposter accounts undermined the Miami Herald and inflamed the public after Parkland.
  147. Of concern is that Russia-linked accounts and propaganda which influenced the 2016 election are still here, and are attempting to discredit established media and sow public alarm and discord.
  148. On Thursday, in a Twitter thread, CEO Jack Dorsey said his platform is in many ways, broken, adding Twitter “didn’t fully predict or understand the real-world negative consequences.” Dorsey confessed Twitter’s failures, and said the company is rethinking everything.
  149. On Friday, in a scathing op-ed on Kushner, the NYT Editorial Board cited Kushner’s bad advice, shady deals, and incompetence, and as a lesson learned called for firming up the anti-nepotism law.
  150. On Friday, AP reported the Trump regime awarded the first border wall construction contract to SWF Constructors, a tiny Nebraska-based offshoot of Edgewood, New York-based Coastal Environmental Group.
  151. It is unclear why SWF was listed on the bid. Coastal is a construction company that has been sued repeatedly for failing to pay subcontractors, and was accused of shady billing practices in a 2016 government audit.
  152. Following Alec’s Baldwin’s interview in the Hollywood Reporter on Thursday about how impersonating Trump on SNL is “agony,” on Friday, Trump took to Twitter at 5:42 a.m. to attack Baldwin.
  153. In the tweet, which was deleted, Trump misspelled “dying” and mistyped Baldwin’s name as “Alex.” Trump tweeted Baldwin’s “dying mediocre career was saved by his terrible impersonation of me,” adding “it was agony for those who were forced to watch.”
  154. On Friday, Baldwin replied, tweeting, “Agony though it may be, I’d like to hang in there for the impeachment hearings, the resignation speech…You know. The Good Stuff. That we’ve all been waiting for.”
  155. Companies continued to distance themselves from the NRA and take a harder line against guns, raising the age to buy weapons, and limiting what they sell. Companies include Dicks, Walmart, Kroger, and REI.
  156. After Delta cuts ties with the NRA in Week 67, the Georgia legislature voted to pull a jet-fuel tax break the company enjoyed from a tax bill, Delta’s CEO said Friday, “Our values are not for sale.”
  157. On Saturday, CNN reported Trump hit a milestone having spent 100 days in office at one of his golf clubs at taxpayers’ expense. In total, Trump has spent nearly 1 in 4 of his days in office at one of his golf clubs.
  158. On Saturday, Trump will host a campaign fundraiser for his 2020 run at Mar-a-Lago. Tickets start at $2,700, with $25,000 and $50,000 options.

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, March 3, 2018

White House Communications Director and presidential advisor Hope Hicks arrives February 27, 2018 to testify behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee in its ongoing investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The next day, after admitting telling “white lies,” Hicks resigned.