W

May 05, 2018

Week 77

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

Have we normalized that Trump lies to the American people? That was a central question after Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani publicly contradicted recent statements by Trump and the White House, saying Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen for a $130,000 payment to silence Stephanie Clifford, made days before the 2016 election. According to The Washington Post, Trump has told over 3,000 false or misleading statements since taking office.

This week we learned that Trump had himself dictated the medical letter used during his campaign, and as his White House doctor exited in disgrace, questions surfaced about access to accurate information about Trump’s health — another broken norm. This was another week plagued by resignations, attacks on our institutions and norms, and our values. The morning after Giuliani’s bombshell disclosure, Trump signed an executive order at the National Day of Prayer eliminating a boundary between religious groups and government.

  1. On Saturday, for the second time,Trump skipped the White House Correspondents Dinner (WHCD). The last US leader to skip the dinner was Ronald Reagan, shortly after he was shot in an assassination attempt.
  2. Instead, Trump held a rally in Washington Township, Michigan, delivering an 80-minute campaign-style speech, full of factually incorrect and dystopian statements, including, “We have the worst laws anywhere in the world,” and “We don’t have borders.”
  3. During his speech, Trump asked, “Any Hispanics in the room?” The crowd booed, then Trump continued “Naw, not so many? That’s OK,” before repeating his demand for a border wall.
  4. Trump also continued his attacks on Sen. Jon Tester: “I know things about the senator I can say, too. If I said them, he would never be elected again,” as well as attacks on James Comey: “He is a liar and a leaker.”
  5. On Sunday and Monday, Trump attacked the WHCD, tweeting the dinner “is DEAD as we know it,” saying it “was a total disaster and an embarrassment to our great Country,” and, “FAKE NEWS is alive and well.”
  6. A tree gifted to Trump by Macron last week, and planted together by the two men on the White House lawn, disappeared. The sapling was taken from the site of a World War One battle in north-east France, and Macron said should serve as reminder of “these ties that bind us”.
  7. On Monday, WAPO reported Trump has made 3,001 false or misleading claims in the 466 days since he took office, averaging 6.5 claims a day.
  8. On Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria visited the White House. Both leaders tried to avoid conflict over Trump’s “shithole countries” comment. Trump said, “You do have some countries that are in very bad shape and very tough places to live in.”
  9. Trump stirred controversy, saying, “We have had very serious problems with Christians who are being murdered in Nigeria,” ignoring the deaths of Muslims. A Muslim rights groups claimed, Trump “is luring Nigerian Christians into bolder confrontation with Muslims”.
  10. Intercept reported that since Trump took office, from January 2017 to November 2017, Muslim refugee admissions dropped by 94%, from 50% of all refugees to just 10%.
  11. Even while the Supreme Court considers Trump’s Travel Ban, the regime is taking other steps. US embassies have been ordered to intensify their screening process to identify “populations warranting increased scrutiny.”
  12. Trump’s Department of Homeland Security has explored surveillance software and social media screening that could be used to profile Muslims and other minorities. In February, the DHS established a National Vetting Center to identify terrorists and criminals, which has also sounded alarms about surveillance.
  13. Patrick Little, an extremist who has called for the country to be “free from Jews,” and who is backed by David Duke and other far-right extremists, could be the Republican candidate who will face Sen. Dianne Feinstein in November.
  14. Army Times reported the Army is investigating the 101st Airborne chaplains over allegations that without providing any reason, they ended Friday night Shabbat services for Jewish soldiers and their families.
  15. On Tuesday, despite Trump’s vows to keep them out and calling up the National Guard, US officials started allowing in caravan members who are seeking asylum from brutal violence in countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, bowing to US and international law.
  16. On Wednesday, Jeff Sessions said 35 assistant US attorneys and 18 immigration judges would be sent to the southern border to allow for more cases to be brought against illegal crossings and human smuggling.
  17. On Friday, US border officers granted entry to the last 83 of the 288 caravan members. Concern grew that asylum seekers would be detained indefinitely, or that children would be separated from their parents.
  18. On Friday, Trump’s DHS ended temporary protection status for 57,000 Hondurans in the US since 1999. This follows the regime ending protections for 200,000 Salvadorans, 50,000 Haitians, and 9,000 Nepalis.
  19. On Wednesday, at an event in Arizona, Vice President Pence praised Sheriff Joe Arpaio as a “great friend” of Trump and a “tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law.”
  20. On Tuesday, Jacob Scott Goodwin, 23, one of the white supremacists who viciously beat a black man in a parking garage in Charlottesville during last year’s “Unite the Right” rally, was found guilty of malicious wounding.
  21. On Wednesday, Iowa’s Republican controlled legislature fast-tracked a bill that would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically around six weeks, sending what could be the nation’s most restrictive legislation to the governor.
  22. On Friday, in what the Iowa Starting Line described as “A Dark Day in Iowa,” Governor Kim Reynolds signed the bill, banning nearly all abortions in Iowa.
  23. AP reported after two Native American teen brothers visiting Colorado State University arrived 30 minutes late and joined for a campus tour underway, a parent called the campus police to report feeling “nervous” about their presence.
  24. Campus police patted down the teens and released them only after they provided an email proving they had reserved spots on the tour. The school apologized to the boys’ family and issued a letter to the student body.
  25. BuzzFeed reported Sessions’ Justice Department overhauled its manual for federal prosecutors: a section titled “Need for Free Press and Public Trial” was removed, as were references to the department’s work on racial gerrymandering.
  26. New sections include Sessions’ focus on religious liberty and the Trump regime’s efforts to crack down on government leaks. Also added are admonishments not to share classified information and directing prosecutors to report contacts with the media.
  27. On Monday, Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control, asked to have his salary reduced after Sen. Patty Murray sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, questioning why Redfield’s $375,000 annual compensation is more than double that of his predecessor.
  28. On Monday, Reuters reported the Environmental Protection Agency granted Trump ally Carl Icahn’s company, CVR Energy, a waiver which will allow it to avoid tens of millions of dollars in costs related to the US Renewable Fuel Standard program.
  29. Foreign Policy reported that 38 US ambassadorship positions remain unfilled by Trump, leaving the State Department to rely on lower-level officials to pick up the slack, even in embassies of strategic importance.
  30. Unfilled US ambassadorships include hot spots and key allies such as South Korea, Turkey, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and the European Union.
  31. On Tuesday, The Wichita Eagle reported that Kansas lawmakers abandoned a plan to force Kris Kobach to pay contempt of court charges out of his own pocket, meaning Kobach will be able to use state monies.
  32. On Tuesday, California and 17 other states sued the Trump regime, saying Scott Pruitt’s EPA acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” in changing course on greenhouse gas regulations related to auto emissions.
  33. On Thursday, as the position of VA Secretary remained vacant and now without a nominee from Trump, a key healthcare program, Veterans Choice Program, will run out of money in the coming weeks.
  34. Michael Stoker, credited with coining the “Lock her up” chant, was nominated by Trump to lead the EPA’s San Francisco-based regional office, a long-open vacancy. The regime has struggled to find people interested in taking the appointment.
  35. On Sunday, Politico reported Ronny Jackson will not return to his role as White House physician.
  36. On Monday, deputy press secretary Raj Shah said, “Despite published reports, there are no personnel announcements at this time,” and that Jackson “is currently on active duty, assigned to the White House.”
  37. On Monday, CNN reported Vice President Pence’s doctor alerted White House aides that Jackson may have violated federal privacy protections for Pence’s wife, Karen, and intimidated the doctor in confrontations about the violation last fall.
  38. On Friday, Jennifer Pena, the White House physician assigned to Vice President Pence, resigned.
  39. NBC News reported Trump’s former personal doctor for more than 35 years, Dr. Harold Bornstein, said his offices were raided by Keith Schiller, a Trump lawyer, and a third man in February 2017. At the time, Schiller was director of Oval Office operations at the White House.
  40. All medical records were removed. The raid took place two days after Bornstein told a newspaper he had prescribed hair growth medicine for Trump. Bornstein said he felt “raped, frightened and sad.”
  41. On Tuesday, Bornstein told CNN that Trump dictated the glowing letter he issued about Trump’s health, “(Trump) dictated the letter and I would tell him what he couldn’t put in there.”
  42. On Monday, Thomas Homan, Trump’s nominee in November to lead ICE, said he would retire in June after a tumultuous tenure as the agency’s acting director. Homan never had a confirmation hearing.
  43. On Monday night, Nino Perrotta, head of Pruitt’s security team who led his 24-hour detail, resigned. Perrotta is set to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
  44. On Monday, Albert Kelly, a top aide in charge of Superfund sites, also resigned. Kelly is a former banker from Oklahoma who was banned from the industry for life by the FDIC . Last week, lawmakers asked Pruitt to order Kelly to testify before their committee.
  45. On Thursday, Liz Bowman, the top public affairs official at the EPA, became the third top EPA official to resign during the week.
  46. Sam Clovis, former co-chairman on the Trump campaign then nominated to and withdrew from a USDA undersecretary role by Trump, resigned from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
  47. On Friday, two top FBI aides who worked alongside Comey resigned: James Baker and Lisa Page. Although they came the same day, their resignations were not related.
  48. Baker was one of Comey’s closest confidants. Baker was the FBI’s top lawyer until December 2017, when he was reassigned by FBI director Christopher Wray. Baker has been investigated by the Justice Department on suspicion of sharing classified information with reporters.
  49. Page advised Comey, while serving under his then deputy, Andrew McCabe. She advised FBI leadership on Comey’s decision to hold a news conference to announce the bureau was recommending Hillary Clinton face no charges.
  50. On Monday, Kevin Chmielewski, a whistleblower from the EPA told ABC News Pruitt was “bold-faced” lying in his congressional hearing when he said no EPA employees faced retaliation for raising concerns about his spending decisions.
  51. WAPO reported that shortly after he took office, Pruitt came up a list of at least a dozen countries he wanted to visit, and asked aides to help him find official reasons to travel to each.
  52. Pruitt then recruited friends and political allies to help make the trips happen, raising ethical concerns. So far, Pruitt has travelled to Italy and Morocco, and canceled trips to Australia, Japan, and Israel.
  53. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Richard Smotkin, a former Comcast lobbyist who has known Pruitt for years, helped arrange Pruitt’s controversial trip to Morocco in December 2017.
  54. Records obtained by WAPO show the visit’s cost exceeded $100,000, more than twice what was previously reported. Pruitt was accompanied by eight staffers and his round-the-clock security detail.
  55. In April, Smotkin won a $40,000-a-month contract, retroactive to January, with the Moroccan government to promote the kingdom’s interests. Smotkin registered recently as a foreign agent representing Morocco.
  56. On Thursday, The Atlantic reported Michael Abboud, a member of Pruitt’s press team, shopped negative stories about Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to multiple outlets in order to divert attention away from Pruitt.
  57. CNN calculated that during Pruitt’s 2010 campaign for Oklahoma attorney general and 2014 re-election campaign, he reimbursed himself for nearly $65,000 of expenses without proper documentation.
  58. Politico reported Michael Roman, a longtime opposition researcher who served in the White House as a special assistant to Trump, resigned. Roman acted as a right-hand man to White House counsel Don McGahn.
  59. On Monday, the cover story for Trump ally David Pecker’s National Enquirer targeted Michael Cohen, trumpeting, “Trump Fixer’s Secrets & Lies,” with a subhead reading: “Payoffs and threats exposed.”
  60. On Tuesday, CNN asked Cohen whether he thought a message was being sent by the story’s publication, and he responded, “What do you think?”
  61. On Monday, ABC News reported that the Trump campaign has spent nearly $228,000 to cover some of the legal defense expenses for Cohen between October 2017 and January 2018, possibly violating campaign finance laws.
  62. On Monday, Stephanie Clifford filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump, alleging he attempted to tarnish her reputation by dismissing her account of a man who threatened her in 2011, tweeting the composite sketch was “a total con job.”
  63. On Wednesday, the lawyer for Summer Zervos subpoenaed Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which owns archives of “The Apprentice,” and the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Zervos says Trump groped her, seeking records to prove that he defamed her.
  64. On Monday, Sen. John McCain released a new book, saying Trump’s “reality show facsimile of toughness” matters more to him than the nation’s values, and comparing the actions of our government under Trump to “crimes of despotic ones.”
  65. On Monday, hours before tariffs on steel and aluminum were scheduled to take effect against Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Brazi,l and the EU, the Trump regime announced it would hold off until at least June 1.
  66. Sen. Marco Rubio told the Economist that the GOP tax law was a boon to big corporations only saying, “there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”
  67. On Tuesday, former HHS Secretary Tom Price said at the World Health Care Congress that the Republicans repeal of the individual mandate “will harm” people insured through Obamacare because of higher cost.
  68. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted the Obama Administration “has long been asking for three hostages to be released from a North Korean Labor camp, but to no avail.” This is false. Two of the three were arrested after Trump took office.
  69. The Guardian reported the government of Qatar bought a $6.5 million apartment in New York’s Trump World Tower on January 17, soon after an emoluments lawsuit was thrown out on December 21, 2017.
  70. On Thursday, AT&T and Time Warner said in a court filing said they were the victims of differential treatment by the DOJ from other similar transactions. Trump’s DOJ has demanded they sell off networks including CNN.
  71. On Thursday, ProPublica reported Jared Kushner’s ethics disclosure forms have been updated at least 40 times, most recently for misstating financials on two Brooklyn loans.
  72. For one of the Brooklyn projects, 215 Moore Street, BofI Federal Bank took over the mortgage, as the bank did for another Kushner Cos. project in New Jersey. BofI Federal Bank faced a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation last year.
  73. On Thursday, New York State Supreme Court Judge Eileen Bransten ruled that a condominium on the Upper West Side could remove the bronze letters that spell T-R-U-M-P from the building.
  74. On Thursday, House Chaplain Patrick Conroy rescinded his resignation and vowed to stay until the end of the year, saying in a letter that there was no just cause for him to be ousted from the position.
  75. Within hours, Speaker Paul Ryan reversed his position and said Conroy will remain. Ryan claimed his original rationale was questioning whether Conroy was delivering sufficient “pastoral services” to the entire House.
  76. Trump’s delegation to Beijing left with scant progress in trade talks. China’s President Xi and Vice President Wang refused to meet with the US delegation which included Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Lighthizer.
  77. On Monday, Paul Manafort asked a judge to investigate who is leaking nonpublic and possibly classified information about his case to the media, saying the leaks interfere with his right to a free trial and may violate grand jury secrecy rules.
  78. The Atlantic reported the DCCC said it is pledging not to use “illegally stolen and hacked materials” against Republicans in any campaigns in the midterms. The NRCC has so far declined to match that commitment.
  79. On Monday, NYT reported Mueller has 49 questions on an array of subjects he wants to ask Trump about his ties to Russia and to determine whether he obstructed the inquiry itself.
  80. The questions chiefly deal with Trump’s firing of Comey and Michael Flynn, his treatment of Sessions, and the June 9 Trump Tower meeting. They also deal with Trump’s business dealings, including his knowledge of Cohen’s discussions on a Moscow deal.
  81. Questions also include Jared’s attempt to set up back channel communications with Russia; whether Trump had contact with Roger Stone about the DNC hacking; and Trump’s 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant.
  82. Mueller is also seeking information on what Trump knew about a potential pardon for Flynn, and what Trump knew about campaign aides, including the former chairman Manafort, reaching out for assistance from Moscow.
  83. In January, John Dowd gave Mueller written explanations for a short list of questions, but in early March, Mueller said he needed to interview Trump. When Mueller’s team gave a revised longer list, it cemented Dowd’s view Trump should not sit for an interview. Dowd resigned shortly after.
  84. On Monday, WAPO reported that members of the Trump-allied conservative House Freedom Caucus have drafted a one-page articles of impeachment against Rod Rosenstein.
  85. The draft relates to a dispute with Rosenstein over requests for documents about the decisions and behavior of federal law enforcement in the Russia probe and other probes, including Hillary Clinton’s email server.
  86. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were “leaked” to the media. No questions on Collusion.” This is false. There were more than a dozen on collusion.
  87. Trump also tweeted, “you have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information,” and “It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!”
  88. On Tuesday, at the Newseum, Rosenstein was asked about the draft articles of impeachments and responded, “I think they should understand by now that the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.”
  89. Rosenstein also said he would not comment on documents “that nobody has the courage to put their name on,” adding the threats would not change his behavior.
  90. On Wednesday, Trump joined the House conservatives, tweeting the legal system was “rigged,” and threatening, “At some point I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!”
  91. On Wednesday, the Justice Department denied a request by the House Freedom Caucus to view an unredacted version of the August memo signed by Rosenstein, saying turning over the memo would “threaten the integrity” of Mueller investigation.
  92. On Tuesday, WAPO reported on a tense March 5 meeting, at which Trump’s lawyers told Mueller that Trump had no obligation to speak with federal investigators, and Mueller responded he could subpoena Trump to appear before a grand jury.
  93. This was the first mention of a subpoena. Dowd reportedly responded, “This isn’t some game. You are screwing with the work of the president of the United States.”
  94. After the meeting, Mueller’s team agreed to provide more information about the subjects prosecutors wanted to discuss with Trump, from which Jay Sekulow compiled a list of 49 questions he believed Trump would be asked.
  95. On Tuesday, the special counsel office and Flynn agreed to delay Flynn’s sentencing for another 60 days, on top of the original 90 days extension, saying the delay was necessary “due to the status” of the investigation.
  96. On Tuesday, Jill Stein said her campaign would only provide some of the documents requested by the Senate Intelligence Committee about her campaign’s contact with Russians, saying the request was too broad.
  97. On Wednesday, Trump hired Emmet Flood, who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment, signaling Trump advisers do not see the Mueller probe ending soon, and are worried about Democrats taking control of the House in November.
  98. Flood also worked for George W. Bush to fend off congressional investigators. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “Emmet Flood will be joining the White House staff to represent the president and the administration against the Russia witch hunt.”
  99. Flood will replace Ty Cobb who had tried to convince Trump that cooperating would bring the Mueller probe to an end. Flood is expected to take a much more adversarial approach.
  100. On Wednesday, former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo slammed the Senate Intelligence Committee for its Russia probe which he said had cost him $125,000 in legal fees and is forcing him to relocate to pay off legal fees.
  101. On Wednesday, NYT reported while Manafort faces US charges for money laundering and financial fraud related to his work in Ukraine, in Ukraine, four cases against him have been effectively frozen.
  102. The decision to halt the investigations was handed down to an anti-corruption prosecutor, and coincided with the Trump regime finalizing plans to sell Ukraine sophisticated anti-tank missiles.
  103. Additionally, Ukrainian law enforcement allowed a possible witness of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to leave for Russia. Ukrainian politicians have reportedly concluded that any help prosecuting Manafort could bring down Mr. Trump’s wrath.
  104. On Friday, NYT reported the Russian oligarch who was reported in Week 73 to be stopped by Mueller’s team as he stepped off his private plane when it landed at a New York area airport was Viktor Vekselberg.
  105. Federal agents questioned Vekselberg and searched his electronic devices. Vekselberg attended Trump’s inauguration, as well as the 2015 RT dinner in Russia where Michael Flynn and Jill Stein sat at Putin’s table.
  106. Vekselberg controls a company that has been the largest single shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus. At the time Vekselberg’s company was making the investment, Wilbur Ross was its vice chairman.
  107. Vekselberg, a native of Ukraine, is believed to have a favorable relation with Putin, and is one of the Russian oligarchs on the recent sanction list. He also has long-running business ties to the US.
  108. On Friday, the House Intelligence Committee released a newly unredacted section of its final Russia report detailing testimony from Comey and McCabe. Per the report, McCabe said the two agents who interviewed Michael Flynn “didn’t think he was lying.”
  109. On Friday, CNN reported that Rep. Devin Nunes, after months of demanding an unredacted version of a document from the Justice Department explaining how the Russia investigation began in 2016, has not read the document.
  110. On Wednesday, on Fox News’ “Hannity,” Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani gave a wide-ranging interview. Giuliani revealed Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford, contradicting recent prior statement by both Trump and the White House.
  111. Giuliani told Hannity the $130,000 reimbursement “is going to turn out to be perfectly legal. That money was not campaign money,” adding they “funneled it through a law firm and the president repaid it.”
  112. Later in the interview, Giuliani said Trump “didn’t know about the specifics of [the payment] as far as I know,” but Trump “did know about the general arrangement that Michael would take care of things like this.”
  113. Also in the interview, Giuliani said Trump fired Comey because “Comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn’t a target of the investigation.”
  114. Giuliani attacked Comey, saying he should be prosecuted and calling him a “disgraceful liar” and a “very perverted man,” and said, “every FBI agent in America has his head down because of you.”
  115. Giuliani called Hillary “a criminal,” saying, “she should go to jail. I do not know why the Justice Department is not investigating her,” adding, “Comey fixed the whole case.”
  116. Giuliani however warned Mueller to not go after Ivanka, “Ivanka Trump? I think I would get on my charger and go ride into their offices with a lance,” adding “If they go after her, the whole country will turn on them.
  117. When asked about Jared, who has testified in the Mueller probe, Giuliani said, Giuliani called him a “fine man,” but said, “men are disposable.”
  118. Giuliani said of the Mueller probe, “This has become a witch hunt like the president said. And if you look at the questions that are being asked, they’re trap questions. A first-year prosecutor would do better than that.”
  119. Giuliani attacked the Department of Justice, saying the department under Sessions is “completely unhinged and out of control. It breaks my heart” adding on Trump’s view of Sessions: he “isn’t that he’s angry, he’s heartbroken. He never expected this from Jeff.
  120. After attacking both Sessions and Rosenstein, Giuliani said, “The two of them can redeem themselves…They should order the investigation over,” adding “the whole investigation was totally unnecessary.”
  121. Giuliani also referred to the FBI agents who searched Cohen’s home, office and hotel room as “storm troopers.”
  122. Late Wednesday, Giuliani told the WSJ that Trump authorized him to announce the reimbursement after a discussion last week, saying Trump told him he was “very pleased…We finally got our side of the story.”
  123. Late Wednesday, Giuliani told BuzzFeed that Cohen “had complained to some people” after the 2016 election that he’d not been fully paid by Trump. Cohen later reportedly met with Trump about the matter.
  124. According to Giuliani, Trump told Cohen, “We’ll cover your expenses,” and agreed to pay him $35,000 a month “out of his personal funds” over the course of a year-long period that began in the first few months of 2017.
  125. On Wednesday, Caputo told CNN about being interviewed in the Mueller probe: “they are still really focused on Russia collusion. They know more about the Trump campaign than anyone who ever worked there.”
  126. Caputo also said of the Mueller probe, “The Senate and the House are net fishing. The special counsel is spearfishing. They know what they are aiming at and are deadly accurate.”
  127. On Thursday, Trump, in a series of tweets, acknowledged the payment to Stephanie Clifford, saying a non-disclosure agreement was “used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair.”
  128. Contrary to his prior statement that he knew nothing of the payment, Trump tweeted these agreements are “very common among celebrities and people of wealth,” adding he “played no roll in this transaction” — misspelling the word “role.”
  129. Trump also tweeted Cohen “received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign,” adding “money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction.”
  130. Shortly after, George Conway, husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, tweeted out a section of the campaign finance law which indicates the payment would be subject to the law, and should have been reported.
  131. On Thursday, at the National Day of Prayer, Trump announced an executive order which would establish a new faith-based office to expand government grants to and partnerships with religiously-affiliated groups.
  132. At the ceremony, Trump said he was responsible for people saying “Merry Christmas” more, and people talking more openly about prayer. Since Trump took office, the position of director of the White House faith-based office has been vacant.
  133. Trump has expanded White House access for conservative Christians — evangelicals, in particular, and also Catholics who are alarmed by the issues like gay rights, and seek to promote conservative religious rights.
  134. On Thursday, Giuliani appeared on “Fox & Friends,” saying Trump didn’t know the details of the payment to Clifford, “$135,000 seems like a lot of money. It’s not when you are putting $100 million into your campaign.”
  135. Giuliani said the payment was not political for Trump, saying Trump “had been hurt personally — not politically, personally — and the first lady by some of the false allegations, that one more false allegation, six years old.”
  136. Giuliani said politics was behind the payment by Cohen, “Imagine if that came out on Oct. 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton … Cohen didn’t even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.”
  137. On Thursday, Mueller’s team requested an additional 70 blank subpoenas ahead of their trial against Manafort in Alexandria, Virginia, where Manafort faces several charges, including bank fraud.
  138. On Thursday, WAPO reported that McGahn, John Kelly, Sanders, and Flood were not aware of Giuliani’s strategy, or did they know that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 paid to Stephanie Clifford.
  139. The shifting story left Trump’s White House in turmoil again. WAPO noted, “It has become standard operating procedure for Trump and his aides to deceive the public with false statements and shifting accounts.”
  140. Giuliani told WAPO he discussed the issue with Trump a few days ago and claimed they agreed to get in front of the narrative by releasing the story publicly: “I saw the opportunity, I was going to get this over with.”
  141. Stephen Ryan, Cohen’s attorney, has been aware of the payment for weeks or months, but didn’t share it because Cohen did not want to appear to be contradicting Trump’s denial in early April.
  142. On Thursday, NBC News reported Cohen’s phones were being wiretapped by federal investigators. The story was later corrected.
  143. On Thursday, when asked for his reaction, Giuliani told The Hill of the federal investigators in the Cohen case that Sessions should “step in, in his role as defender of justice, and put these people under investigation.”
  144. Later Thursday, NBC News corrected their earlier reporting, saying Cohen’s phone logs were being monitored, not wiretapped where investigators listen in. At least one phone call between Cohen and the White House was logged.
  145. The monitoring of Cohen’s phones was in place in the weeks leading up to the raids on Cohen’s offices, hotel room and home. It is not yet known when the monitoring was originally authorized.
  146. On Friday, Trump slammed NBC News, tweeting “NBC NEWS is wrong again!” adding “They cite “sources” which are constantly wrong….they are fabricated, fiction!” and saying, “now as bad as Fake News CNN. Sad!”
  147. On Friday, Giuliani told NBC News in a telephone interview that Trump wasn’t aware of the payment to Clifford until recently, saying Trump responded, “Oh my goodness, I guess that’s what it was for.”
  148. Giuliani said Trump was subsequently on board with the decision to go public, saying, “You’re not going to see daylight between the president and me. We’re going to work hard to have a consistent strategy.”
  149. On Friday, Trump told reporters Giuliani needed more time to “get his facts straight,” adding “virtually everything said has been said incorrectly,” and noting Giuliani “just started a day ago.”
  150. On Friday, Giuliani released a cryptic statement clarifying his remarks and trying to walk back his claim Trump had repaid Cohen, saying, “My references to timing were…my understanding of these matters.”
  151. On Friday, WAPO reported that press secretary Sanders has told colleagues the Giuliani interview left her in an untenable position. The interview was the first she heard of Trump reimbursing Cohen.
  152. Sanders responded to reporters, “I’ve given the best information I had at the time,” six times when pressed with questions, also answering, “Some information I am aware of, and some I’m not.”
  153. Sanders does not have the personal access to Trump that Hope Hicks enjoyed. Although combative with reporters in public, Sanders is largely regarded as more pleasant and helpful behind the scenes.
  154. On Friday, NYT reported Trump had known about the payment to silence Stephanie Clifford at least several months before he told reporters aboard Air Force One that he had no knowledge of it.
  155. On Friday, WSJ reported according to public records, Cohen gained access to as much as $774,000 through two financial transactions during the 2016 presidential campaign. Giuliani said this week Cohen had resolved problems for Trump beyond Clifford.
  156. Cohen gained access to $529,000 through a new mortgage cosigned by him and his wife on a condominium owned by her parents at Trump World Tower and an additional $245,000 by nearly doubled the amount he could borrow under his bank credit line tied to his Manhattan apartment.
  157. Federal investigators are examining whether Cohen committed bank fraud by making false statements inflating the value of his assets to obtain loans or by misstating the intended purpose of the loans.
  158. Giuliani said this week that Trump had reimbursed Cohen for the Clifford payment through a $35,000-a-month retainer. On Friday, Giuliani said Trump would have done this whether he was running for office or not.
  159. Dallas Morning News reported guns will be banned for appearances by both Pence and Trump at the upcoming National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas.
  160. On Friday, at the NRA convention, Pence urged state and local leaders to allow qualified school personnel to carry concealed firearms, saying,“The quickest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
  161. On Air Force One on the way to the convention, Trump told reporters the NRA is a “great organization that loves this country.” Trump also said he has a “record crowd” attending the convention.
  162. Trump went off script to ridicule former Secretary of State John Kerry : “not the best negotiator we’ve ever seen. He never walked away from the table except to be in that bicycle race where he fell and broke his leg.
  163. On Wednesday, 18 House Republicans and five running for Congress nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to get North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear weapons program.
  164. On Friday, federal judge T.S. Ellis expressed skepticism about Mueller team’s bank fraud case against Manafort, saying prosecutors’ interest in Manafort was to provide material that would lead to Trump’s “prosecution or impeachment.”
  165. Ellis repeated this suspicion several times, and suggested the charges brought by Mueller’s team in Virginia were designed to pressure Manafort into giving information on Trump or others in the campaign.
  166. Ellis mimicked a prosecutor, saying they weren’t interested in material that didn’t “further our core effort to get Trump” — saying that is why they moved the Cohen case to New York, but kept the Manafort case in Virginia.
  167. Ellis ordered Mueller’s prosecutors to turn over a full, unredacted version of Rosenstein’s August 2 memo which describes the criminal allegations Mueller’s team can investigate, under seal, in two weeks.
  168. On Friday, at the NRA convention, Trump held up the CNN article. As the crowd booed, Trump said, “they have a headline: ‘Judge in Manafort case says Mueller’s aim is to hurt Trump,’” adding “It’s called the witch hunt.”
  169. On Friday, Trump threatened another immigration fight on the upcoming spending bill, saying at the NRA convention, and repeating a mantra from his campaign speech, “They’re not sending their finest, that I can tell you.”
  170. On Friday, Trump reiterated his battle call on immigration, tweeting, “We are going to demand Congress secure the border in the upcoming CR. Illegal immigration must end!”

 

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

The morning after Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said in a Fox News interview that Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen for a $130,000 hush money payment to porn-star Stormy Daniels made days before the 2016 election, Trump signs an Executive Order on the Establishment of a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative during a National Day of Prayer event in the Rose Garden.