W

April 14, 2018

Week 74

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

This week, Trump became angry and stormy after the office and hotel room of his longtime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen were raided by the FBI. The country stood on edge as Trump threatened to fire Mueller, Sessions, and Rosenstein. Other than a few hollow warnings, Republicans in leadership did nothing by way of passing legislation or any other measures to block Trump from taking steps to dull or end the Mueller probe. And as Speaker Paul Ryan became the latest Republican leader to announce he will not seek re-election in November, increasingly it appears the party will abdicate its responsibility to counter Trump.

In a week without any real focus, policy, or direction, Trump careened on trade and on Syria. After spending much of week attacking and discrediting institutions and familiar targets like Obama, Hillary, McCabe, and Comey, Trump ended the week late Friday by addressing the nation on a US missile attack on Syria, which, unlike a year ago, will be an open-ended military engagement. With a non-functioning and unstaffed State Department, many senior national security roles vacated, and disagreement voiced by Secretary Mattis, the decision to strike — as with most decisions in recent weeks — was made by one man.

  1. Late Saturday, a fire broke out at Trump Tower on the 50th floor, leaving one dead and four New York City firefighters injured. This is the second fire in the sprinkler-free residential tower in 2018.
  2. Trump tweeted “Very confined (well built building). Firemen (and women) did a great job,” but failed to acknowledge the death in his building. Trump was one of the developers in the late 1990s who lobbied against requiring sprinklers in buildings.
  3. Late Saturday, Trump again defended Scott Pruitt and his security spending, tweeting Pruitt “received death threats because of his bold actions at EPA,” adding “Scott is doing a great job!”
  4. Also on Saturday, Trump attacked the Justice Department and FBI of slow-walking documents “relating to FISA abuse, FBI, Comey, Lynch, McCabe, Clinton Emails and much more,” tweeting what do they “have to hide?”
  5. WAPO reported on repeated clashes between Trump and chief of staff John Kelly, and Kelly’s downward arc of influence in the White House. Kelly’s credibility has also suffered amid misstatements, including his handling of the Rob Porter scandal.
  6. Kelly has instituted “Policy Time” sessions once or twice a day where advisers would address Trump on specific issues and bi-monthly cabinet meetings. Kelly’s efforts to create an atmosphere of discipline clashed with Trump’s freewheeling impulses.
  7. Reportedly, Kelly has threatened to resign multiple times — one senior White House official jokingly called it “a weekly event.” Trump has told friends recently he likes rallies where he can escape Kelly’s shackles.
  8. On Sunday, Trump attacked The Washington Post on Twitter, calling the paper “far more fiction than fact,” and saying the story on Kelly “is made up garbage.”
  9. On Sunday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro echoed Trump on “Meet the Press,” calling The Washington Post “fake news most of the time.”
  10. On Sunday, NYT Executive Editor Dean Baquet told CNN that Trump’s rhetoric against the media is “out of control” adding, “his advisers should tell him to stop.”
  11. On Saturday, Syrian activist groups reported Assad’s regime used chemical weapons on the rebel-held city of Douma. At least 25 were killed and 500 wounded. In Week 73, Trump said he would withdraw troops from Syria.
  12. On Monday, Trump signed an executive order calling for enforcing work requirements for the poor, and directing agencies to consider adding work requirements to government aid programs that lack them.
  13. On Tuesday, Trump’s Justice Department announced it would halt a program that offers legal assistance to detained foreign nationals facing deportation as it audits the program’s cost-effectiveness.
  14. Last year, the Vera Institute of Justice held information sessions for 53,000 immigrants in more than a dozen states. The federal government will also evaluate Vera’s “help desk,” which offers tips to non-detained immigrants.
  15. On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown of California heeded Trump’s call to send the National Guard to the Mexico border, but said his 400 troops will have nothing to do with immigration enforcement.
  16. Jamie Allman, who hosted a nightly show on the Sinclair-owned ABC affiliate in St. Louis, was fired and his show canceled after he sent a vulgar tweet threatening to sexually assault Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg.
  17. Brennan Walker, a 14 year-old black teen in Rochester Hills, Michigan who missed his school bus and stopped at a neighbor’s house while walking to school to ask for directions, was shot at by homeowner Jeffrey Ziegler, whose wife initially answered the door and yelled at Walker.
  18. Ximena Barreto, a Trump appointee to deputy communications director at the Department of Health and Human Services, shared an image in 2017 that said “our forefathers would have hung” Obama and Clinton for treason. Barreto was suspended earlier this week for insulting Islam and spreading conspiracy theories.
  19. AP reported in the 135 days since Mick Mulvaney took over as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency has not recorded a single enforcement action against banks, credit card companies, debt collectors, or finance companies.
  20. Politico reported that the EPA fired Mario Caraballo, a career staffer who approved an internal report undermining Pruitt’s claims he needed around-the-clock bodyguards and other expensive security protection.
  21. NYT reported Kevin Chmielewski, the former EPA deputy chief of staff, told lawmakers Pruitt insisted on staying at luxury hotels costlier than allowed and flying airlines not on the government approved list to get frequent flyer miles.
  22. Chmielewski also told lawmakers Pruitt often scheduled trips back to Oklahoma so he could stay for the weekend, and if he wanted to travel somewhere, told his staff to“find me something to do,” to justify travel.
  23. ABC News reported almost 30 senior employees at the Interior Department said they were reassigned last year, and some have formally complained it was in retaliation for their work on issues like climate change.
  24. On Thursday, the Senate approved Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist whose clients include Murray Energy, as the EPA’s deputy administrator, the agency’s No. 2 official. Democrats complained of Wheeler’s efforts to block regulations that protect Americans’ health and climate change.
  25. AP reported Wheeler accompanied Murray CEO Robert Murray to a series of closed-door meetings to lobby the Trump regime to kill environmental regulations affecting coal mines.
  26. Guardian reported Sinclair-TV chairman David Smith met with Trump at the White House. Smith claimed the meeting was to pitch a new product: chips for cell phones and other devices that can receive transmissions.
  27. On Wednesday, Wendy Vitter, Trump’s nominee for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, refused to answer whether Brown v. the Board of Education was correctly decided at her confirmation hearing.
  28. On Monday, La Prensa reported Trump Panama Hotel Management has pressured the Panamanian government to step in to its dispute with Orestes Fintiklis over control of the hotel formerly named after Trump.
  29. In Week 69, a Panamanian court ruled for Fintiklis, and Trump’s name was removed. The US Embassy in Panama said that “matters related to the Trump Organization are sent directly to the White House.”
  30. ProPublica reported the Trump Organization has filed at least nine new lawsuits against municipalities alleging Trump’s properties are worth far less than he claims, and therefore they owe much less in taxes.
  31. This marks the first time a US leader has been in legal battles with local governments. Experts say it creates a “dangerous precedent” because local governments rely on the federal government for resources.
  32. On Thursday, following his frequent attacks on Amazon, Trump issued an executive order forming a task force to be chaired by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to evaluate the Postal Service’s finances and operations.
  33. Denver Post reported Centennial Coalition, a Republican “dark money” nonprofit in Colorado, hired Cambridge Analytica to help the party win the state Senate in 2014. Centennial used targeted abortion mailers.
  34. Concerned Citizens for Colorado, controlled by Senate Republican leader Bill Cadman, also hired the company in 2014 and 2015. Concerned Citizens sent $100,000 to the Centennial Coalition in 2014.
  35. On Monday, in a morning tweet, Trump attacked “STUPID TRADE” with China. Later at a Cabinet meeting, Trump assured farmers, who have been targeted by China’s tariffs, that they “will be better off than they ever were” under Obama.
  36. The Trump regime is considering using a Depression-era program, the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) created in 1933, to bail out farmers caught in his trade war with China.
  37. The CCC can borrow up to $30 billion from the Treasury Department and extend that money to farm groups. Republican lawmakers have told the regime the approach will not provide the needed relief to farmers.
  38. On Thursday, Trump told a gathering of farm-state lawmakers and governors that he is looking into rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal he pulled the US out of days after he took office.
  39. Politico reported Paul Manafort’s lawyers filed a motion to suppress evidence found in a storage unit, arguing entry was illegal because the storage unit employee did not not have authority to let the FBI into the locker.
  40. The May 27 search warrant for the storage locker authorized FBI agents to seize financial or tax records relating to Manafort, Rick Gates, or former Ukrainian President Yanukovych. Manafort’s lawyers argue the warrant was overbroad.
  41. Daily Beast reported according to court documents, one of Manafort’s associates led an FBI agent to a storage locker filled with paperwork on Manafort’s businesses and finances. The name is redacted from the filings.
  42. On Monday, NYT reported the FBI raided Michael Cohen’s Rockefeller Center office and hotel room, seizing business records, emails, and documents related to several topics, including the payment to Stephanie Clifford.
  43. The Southern District of New York prosecutors obtained a search warrant after having the case referred to them by Mueller. To obtain a search warrant, prosecutors must convince a federal judge they are likely to discover evidence of criminal activity.
  44. On Monday, WAPO reported Cohen is being investigated for bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations. The FBI took Cohen’s computer, phone and personal financial records, including tax returns.
  45. Search requests indicate prosecutors’ interest in possible violations of election law by Cohen. As the acting attorney general supervising Mueller’s work, Rod Rosenstein would have determined if the topic needed to be referred.
  46. On Monday, WSJ reported the probe is being conducted out of the FBI’s public-corruption unit. Investigators would have had to receive high-level approval to seize documents of a personal lawyer because of sensitivities around attorney-client privilege.
  47. Trump spoke to the press at the White House before meeting with senior military commanders on Syria, calling the raid a “disgraceful situation,” an “attack on our country in a true sense” and “a total witch hunt.”
  48. Trump said they “they broke into” Cohen’s office, who he said is a “good man.” Asked if he will fire Mueller, Trump said “We’ll see what happens,” adding “And many people have said, “You should fire him.””
  49. Trump again complained about Sessions recusing himself, saying Sessions made a “terrible decision” and “what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country,” adding he would have chosen another person if he had known.
  50. On Tuesday, Trump continued his attack on the raid, tweeting “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!” and “Attorney–client privilege is dead!” There are exceptions to attorney-client privilege for crime or fraud, past or future.
  51. On Monday, NYT reported Mueller is investigating a $150,000 donation from Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk to the Donald Trump Foundation in September 2015 for a 20-minute appearance through a video link to a conference in Kiev. Cohen solicited the donation.
  52. Records on the payment came as Mueller’s team subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents, emails, and other communications about several Russians, including names not publicly tied to Trump.
  53. On Tuesday, WSJ reported that in connection with the raids, federal prosecutors asked the Trump Organization for its records relating to the $130,000 payment to Clifford.
  54. WSJ reported the search warrant also sought information on the $150,000 payment by AMI, publisher of National Enquirer, to Karen McDougal, as well as information on Cohen’s associates in the taxi industry.
  55. On Tuesday, NBC News reported Stephanie Clifford is cooperating with federal investigators in their probe of Cohen.
  56. On Tuesday, NYT reported Trump considered firing Mueller in December 2017 after hearing news that the special counsel obtained subpoenas targeted Trump’s and his family’s banking records at Deutsche Bank.
  57. Trump’s lawyers and advisers worked quickly to learn that report was false, and Trump backed off. Trump has openly discussed ways to shut down the probe, but lawyers and advisers have convinced him this would only exacerbate his problems.
  58. On Tuesday, Rachel Maddow reported Dana Boente, the former acting Attorney General, has been asked to be interviewed by Mueller’s team in the Russia investigation.
  59. Maddow also revealed handwritten notes, allegedly by Boente about his conversation with Comey, which would be the first contemporaneous evidence of what Comey told colleagues about his conversations with Trump.
  60. On Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Sanders said a press briefing that Trump could fire Mueller, “He certainly believes that he has the power to do so,” adding Trump believes Mueller has “gone too far.”
  61. On Tuesday, NYT reported on Trump’s mood the day after the raids on Cohen’s office and hotel room, reporting he was “brooding and fearful” and according to two people close to the West Wing near a “meltdown.”
  62. Aides said they felt “anxious” Tuesday that Trump might use the raid as a pretext to fire Mueller. Trump reportedly said the raids were proof that Mueller was out to get him.
  63. Over the weekend, Trump engaged in few activities, and after watching Fox News reports that the deep state was looking to sink him, he came unglued and said he wanted to fire Sessions, Rosenstein, and Mueller.
  64. On Tuesday, CNN reported Trump is considering firing Rosenstein as a way to put greater limits on Mueller. Trump is also weighing firing Sessions whom he feels has not done enough to protect him in the probe.
  65. On Tuesday, Politico reported Trump will host a dinner for Republican leaders at the White House on Wednesday. Reportedly, the dinner was planned before Trump’s attack on Mueller and others on Monday.
  66. On Tuesday, Trump canceled his trip to attend the Summit of the Americas in Peru, citing the need to oversee the “response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world.”
  67. This marks the first time a US leader has not attended the summit since 1994, and Trump has yet to make a trip to Latin America. Trump’s rhetoric on immigration and protectionism are not well received in the region.
  68. The White House said Vice President Pence will attend in Trump’s stead. Pence’s office advertised he would be attending “a banquet hosted by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of Peru.” Kuczynski resigned three weeks ago, following a corruption scandal.
  69. On Wednesday, Ivanka told the media that she and Jared are heading to Peru for the summit amid drama at the White House. Ivanka said she would unveil a new economic empowerment program for women of the region.
  70. On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee said it would move forward with legislation to limit Trump’s ability to fire Mueller. Committee chair Chuck Grassley is seeking assent to add it to the committee’s agenda for Thursday.
  71. In a letter responding to Sen. Ron Wyden, the NRA acknowledged to Congress that it has accepted contributions from about 23 Russians, or Americans living in Russia, since 2015, saying most were for membership dues.
  72. The NRA acknowledged that Kremlin-linked Alexander Torshin, placed under US sanctions in Week 73, has been a member of the NRA since 2012, and has paid membership dues but not made any contributions.
  73. On Wednesday, a day after Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee had threatened to impeach FBI director Christopher Wray and Rosenstein, the Justice Department turned over the document that launched the FBI’s Russia investigation in 2016.
  74. On Wednesday, NYT reported that the FBI agents who raided Cohen’s office and hotel room were seeking information about whether he worked with the Trump campaign to suppress negative information about Trump.
  75. The warrant, which was striking in its breadth, allowed prosecutors to gather information, including documents related to the “Access Hollywood” tape, as part of an investigation into whether Cohen’s possible coordination violated campaign finance laws.
  76. The investigation is being run by Robert Khuzami, whose boss, Geoffrey Berman, the interim United States attorney in Manhattan recently appointed by Trump, has recused himself.
  77. On Wednesday, New Yorker reported Dino Sajudin, a Trump Tower doorman, met with a reporter from the National Enquirer in late 2015 and agreed to grant exclusive rights to his information for $30,000.
  78. Sajudin’s story was that Trump may have fathered a child with a former employee in the late 1980’s. The payment from AMI, parent company of the National Enquirer, came five months after Trump launched his presidential campaign.
  79. The story never ran, similar to those of Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal. Two former employees said Cohen was in close contact with the AMI executives at the time reporters were looking into Sajudin’s story.
  80. On Thursday, Sajudin released a statement, which said in part, “I can confirm that while working at Trump World Tower I was instructed not to criticize President Trump’s former housekeeper due to a prior relationship she had with President Trump which produced a child.”
  81. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Steve Bannon has stayed in touch with some members of Trump’s circle, and is now pitching them a plan to help Trump cripple Mueller’s Russia probe.
  82. Bannon’s plan is for Trump to fire Rosenstein, to stop cooperating with Mueller including allowing staff members to be interviewed, and to have Trump protect himself by asserting executive privilege.
  83. Mueller’s team asked a judge in Alexandria, Virginia, to issue 35 sets of subpoenas to witnesses for a trial set to begin on July 10. Mueller asked for blank subpoenas, with names to be added later.
  84. On Friday, NBC News reported Rosenstein invoked the quote Martin Luther “Here I stand,”  telling confidants he is prepared to be fired by Trump, and said he had done his job with integrity.
  85. Rosenstein also said in private conversations that he did the right thing in firing Comey in May 2017, saying the American people did not have all the facts that led to his decision to the write the memo.
  86. On Friday, WAPO reported that Trump allies are worried Cohen, who is known to store the conversations using digital files and then replay them for colleagues, may have had recordings seized in the raids Monday.
  87. It is not known if Cohen taped his conversations with Trump, but people familiar say Cohen taped both business and political conversations, with one adding, “It was his standard practice to do it.”
  88. On Friday, lawyers for Cohen and Trump appeared in court seeking to temporarily bar prosecutors from examining records and electronic devices, including two cell phones, seized by the FBI.
  89. The Justice Department’s 22-page motion said Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months by federal prosecutors for his business dealings, and that a grand jury was empaneled.
  90. The motion revealed authorities had searched a number of email accounts used by Cohen, and the results indicate “Cohen is in fact performing little to no legal work, and that zero emails were exchanged” with Trump.”
  91. The motion also revealed prosecutors examined a safe-deposit box used by Cohen, carrying out the search for fear that evidence might be destroyed if they just served him with a subpoena.
  92. After three separate hearings on Friday, US District Court Judge Kimba Wood indicated that she did not have enough information to make a decision. She ordered lawyers, and Cohen personally, back on Monday.
  93. NYT reported Trump sees the inquiry into Cohen as a greater threat to him than the Mueller probe. Reportedly Trump finds himself isolated as he tries to find a new criminal lawyer, and aides are hesitant to advise him for fear of being dragged into the investigation.
  94. According to sources, Trump called Cohen on Friday to “check in.” Depending on what was discussed, the call could be problematic as lawyers typically advise clients against discussing investigations.
  95. Cohen has said he would defend Trump until the end. He has served Trump for more than a decade as a trusted fixer, including during the campaign when he helped with hush scandals.
  96. Search warrants indicate authorities are interested in Cohen’s unofficial role in the Trump campaign, including demanding all his communication with the campaign, and in particular with Corey Lewandowski and Hope Hicks.
  97. Bloomberg reported Trump’s legal team has an open gap in defending against the Mueller probe: Jay Sekulow, who is in charge of legal strategy and negotiations with Mueller, is an expert in constitutional law, not criminal defense.
  98. On Friday, WSJ reported Cohen negotiated a $1.6 million settlement on behalf of Elliott Broidy, a top Republican fundraiser with ties to Trump, with a former Playboy model who said she was impregnated by Broidy.
  99. Cohen arranged the payments to the woman as part of an agreement with the Los Angeles woman which prohibits her from disclosing her relationship with Broidy. The first payment was due December 1st.
  100. In a statement, Broidy acknowledged the “consensual relationship” adding “I offered to help her financially during this difficult period.” Cohen turned down requests to comment.
  101. On Friday, Broidy resigned as deputy national finance chairman at the Republican National Committee. Steve Wynn had recently also resigned as a deputy national finance chair, but Cohen remains in his position.
  102. On Monday, ProPublica reported Sessions became friendly with Broidy as part of the Trump campaign, and turned to Broidy for advice and recommendations for positions in the Justice Department.
  103. Sessions gave Broidy a private email address — hybart@jeffsessions.com — to send along his picks. As noted in Week 69, Broidy was convicted in 2009 for his role in a major New York state public corruption and bribery case.
  104. On Friday, CNN reported the FBI seized recordings of conversations between Cohen and lawyers for Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal.
  105. Cohen recorded some of his calls with attorney Keith Davidson, who at the time represented both women, but no longer represents either. Cohen contacted Davidson recently and encouraged him to go public with what he knew about his former clients and their agreements.
  106. McDougal alleges in a lawsuit that Cohen has a close relationship with Davidson, and that Davidson was part of a “broad effort to silence and intimidate her and others.”
  107. One source told CNN that Cohen played recordings of conversations he had with political and media figures during the exploratory part of the campaign for Trump and other associates.
  108. On Friday, McClatchy reported Mueller has evidence that Cohen secretly made a trip to Prague months before the presidential election, as described in the Steele dossier.
  109. The dossier cited information from a “Kremlin insider,” who said the Prague meeting was to “sweep it all under the carpet and make sure no connection could be fully established or proven” between the Trump campaign and Russia.
  110. Investigators have traced evidence that Cohen entered the Czech Republic through Germany in August or early September. It is unclear if Mueller’s team has evidence Cohen actually met with Konstantin Kosachev, a Putin ally.
  111. Cohen has vehemently denied that he made a trip to Prague or colluded with Russians during the campaign. Kosachev, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of a body of the Russian legislature, has also denied that he visited Prague.
  112. On Saturday, Cohen tweeted, again denying he has been to Prague, saying he was in LA with his son, and accusing the reporter of “bad reporting, bad information.”
  113. On Monday, Facebook announced it will create an independent commission that partners with academics and researchers to study the effects of social media on democracy and political elections.
  114. On Tuesday, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg testified before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees. Zuckerberg apologized at the opening of the hearing, but this did not appease senators of either party, with Richard Blumenthal saying, “We’ve seen the apology tours before…”
  115. Zuckerberg faced tough questioning from senators of both sides, which between the two committees was almost half the senate. Lawmakers plan to interview other technology companies, including Google and Twitter.
  116. Democratic Sen. Ed Markey plans to introduce a new bill, the CONSENT Act, which would require social media companies and other major web platforms to obtain explicit consent before they share or sell personal data.
  117. The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook violated a 2011 decree over data on 71 million Americans in the hands of Cambridge Analytica. The fine could potentially be huge.
  118. The Guardian reported British and US lawyers plan to file a class action lawsuit against Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, SCL Group Limited, and Global Science Research Limited for misusing the personal data of more than 71 million people.
  119. On Sunday, Trump called out Putin and Russia for the chemical attacks, tweeting, “President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price…” This is the first time Trump has attacked Putin by name.
  120. On Sunday, Michael Anton, Trump’s National Security Council spokesman resigned. Anton was brought in by Flynn, and was one of the sharpest defenders of Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.
  121. On Tuesday, Tom Bossert, Trump’s homeland security adviser, resigned at the request of National Security Adviser John Bolton. Bossert advised Trump on cybersecurity and counterterrorism since the beginning of his regime.
  122. On Tuesday, Nadia Schadlow, deputy national security adviser for strategy, resigned. Schadlow was the third senior national security official to resign or be pushed out with Bolton’s entree to the White House.
  123. On Monday, Yulia Skripal, the daughter of Sergei Skripal, both of whom were poisoned in a nerve gas attack allegedly carried out by Russia in the UK, was discharged from the hospital and taken to a secure location.
  124. On Wednesday, in a series of tweets, Trump warned US airstrikes are coming in Syria, “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’”
  125. In his most direct criticism of Moscow yet, Trump tweeted, “You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” Trump also tweeted, “Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War.”
  126. On Thursday, Trump reversed himself tweeting, “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!”
  127. On Thursday, after Trump’s Twitter threats, Defense Secretary Mattis tried to put the brakes on a possible military strike warning it could escalate into a wider conflict between Russia, Iran, and the West.
  128. Mattis detailed his concerns in closed-door meetings to Trump’s White House and Trump’s top national security advisers. Mattis also pushed for more evidence that al-Assad was behind the chemical weapons attack.
  129. On Friday night, Trump addressed the nation about his decision to order strikes on Syria. Many pundits drew a comparison to “wag the dog” — creating a crisis to divert attention from a scandal.
  130. Citing al-Assad’s use of chemical weapon against his own people, the US, along with the UK and France, struck Syrian research, storage, and military targets. Trump said earlier in the week, “We are very concerned…this is about humanity.”
  131. Unlike the US missile attack in Syria a year ago, this operation was described by US generals as open-ended; although Mattis was careful to say at a press conference Friday, the missiles were not the opening of a broader campaign.
  132. NPR reported that so far in 2018, the US has accepted only 11 Syrian refugees. This follows a dramatic decrease from 15,479 Syrian refugees resettled in 2016 under Obama, to just 3,024 in 2017 under Trump.
  133. On Friday, Reuters reported that pro-Assad officials claim that, similar to US strikes a year ago, the targeted bases were evacuated days ago thanks to warnings by the Russians.
  134. On Saturday, in a morning tweet, Trump bragged about the missile strike in Syria, saying “Mission Accomplished!” The words were reminiscent of George W. Bush’s haunting phrase in 2003 about the supposed end of major combat in Iraq.
  135. On Saturday, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the Security Council that US forces are “locked and loaded” if Assad stages another chemical attack.
  136. At the time of the Syrian air strike, acting Secretary of State John Sullivan was in Peru at the Summit of the Americas. Eight of the top ten roles at State remain unfilled, as well as many key ambassador roles.
  137. On Wednesday, McClatchy reported Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo failed to disclose last year in his questionnaire to lead the CIA that he owned a Kansas business that imported equipment from a company owned by the Chinese government.
  138. The issue, which troubled several senators, never came up in Pompeo’s Senate confirmation hearing to become CIA director. Pompeo’s Senate confirmation hearings to become Secretary of State began on Thursday.
  139. On Thursday, two key Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tim Kaine and Jeanne Shaheen said they won’t back Pompeo for secretary of state. Republican Sen. Rand Paul also indicated he would vote against him.
  140. Trump nominee Pompeo could be the first state nominee since 1925 not to get a favorable vote from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to support his nomination for secretary of state.
  141. On Sunday, conservative pollster Frank Luntz told Fox News, “I think the Republicans are in deep trouble,” saying if the elections were held today, the Republicans would lose the House and the Senate.
  142. On Wednesday, Axios reported Paul Ryan will not run for re-election in November. Insiders say Ryan passed tax reform, his longtime dream, but is ready to step out of an endlessly frustrating job, in part due to Trump.
  143. A Republican insider said, “This is a Titanic, tectonic shift. … This is going to make every Republican donor believe the House can’t be held,” saying now funds will be diverted to help Republicans keep control of the Senate.
  144. Politico reported, according to Nielsen ratings, MSNBC’s rating surged 30% from first quarter of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018, while Fox News’ rating fell 16%. Analysts said some of Fox News’ audience may be experiencing Trump fatigue.
  145. On Wednesday, Axios reported on a clip from Comey’s first interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos scheduled for Sunday night, in which Comey compares Trump to a mob boss.
  146. Comey said he was asked by Trump to investigate the salacious allegations from the dossier to “prove that it didn’t happen,” adding Trump said it would be “terrible” if Melania would believe them to be true.
  147. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted promoting Fox News’ Sean Hannity’s show, “Big show tonight on @seanhannity!” On his show that night, Hannity attacked Hillary Clinton, Mueller, and Comey.
  148. On Thursday, CNN obtained a copy of the battle plan to discredit Comey to be used by Trump allies which includes branding Comey as “Lyin’ Comey,” digital advertising and talking points to be sent to Republicans nationwide.
  149. On Friday, Trump lashed out at Comey in a series of tweets, calling him “a proven LEAKER & LIAR,” and a “weak and untruthful slime ball” who deserved to be fired “for the terrible job he did.”
  150. Trump also tweeted that Comey “leaked CLASSIFIED information” for which he “should be prosecuted,” and Comey “lied to Congress under OATH,” adding “It was my great honor to fire James Comey!”
  151. On Friday, CNN obtained a copy of the Justice Department inspector general’s report on Andrew McCabe, which found McCabe “lacked candor” on four occasions when discussing the disclosure of information to the WSJ.
  152. The disclosures were related to the FBI’s investigation of the Clinton Foundation. In addition, the report found that McCabe was not authorized to disclose the existence of the investigation.
  153. The report also cited McCabe’s conversations with federal investigators and Comey. The report, which went to Congress on Friday and is expected to be made public, formed the basis of Sessions’ firing of McCabe.
  154. Trump used it to attack Comey, calling the report “a total disaster,” adding “He LIED! LIED! LIED! McCabe was totally controlled by Comey — McCabe is Comey!!” And referring to them both as a “den of thieves and lowlifes!”
  155. On Friday, Trump pardoned Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a former Bush administration official convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in 2007. This follows his controversial pardon of Joe Arpaio in Week 41, which he also announced on a Friday, as Hurricane Harvey was about to hit.
  156. Trump acknowledged Friday he has no personal relationship to Libby, “I don’t know Mr. Libby, but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly.” Trump does have an ongoing feud with the Bush family.
  157. Trump said Libby was unfairly convicted because of an overzealous prosecutor. A number of Trump aides have pleaded guilty to similar charges such as lying to the FBI, and Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation.
  158. The pardon also telegraphed Trump’s open hostility to the criminal justice system and institutions, as well as signaling Trump’s willingness to use the power of the presidency as a personal political tool.
  159. Bloomberg reported Trump ordered the DOJ to hire Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who was forced out of the National Security Council by H.R. McMaster for showing Nunes classified documents. Cohen-Watnick went to work for Oracle after he was fired.
  160. When Trump learned in the fall of 2017 Cohen-Watnick was not at the Justice Department, he told staff he wanted him on the job as soon as possible. Generally, the White House has a policy against the rehiring of staff who are dismissed.
  161. VICE News reported two senior officials in the Trump regime, Makan Delrahim and David Bernhardt, were once registered as lobbyists for Access Industries, a holding company controlled by Russian oligarch Leonard Blavatnik.
  162. An ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 69% of Americans support Mueller’s investigation of possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russian government attempts to influence the 2016 election.
  163. The polls also found 64% of Americans support investigating Trump’s business activities, and 58% support investigations in alleged hush money.

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

Michael Cohen (L), Trump’s personal attorney, takes a phone call as he sits outside near the Loews Regency hotel on Park Ave on April 13, 2018 in New York City. Following FBI raids on his home, office, and hotel room, the Department of Justice announced that they are placing him under criminal investigation.