W

May 26, 2018

Week 80

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

This week, despite the White House providing no evidence to back Trump’s claim that the Obama administration spied on his 2016 campaign for political reasons, and despite Trump ostensibly branding “spy” and “Spygate” to rile his base and hurt the credibility of the FBI, Justice Department, and Mueller probe, the media was nonetheless consumed the entire week with covering this manufactured storyline. Reminiscent of Trump’s success in using the Nunes memo as a shiny coin to distract in Week 64, this week important stories and storylines received little or no national coverage.

After a social media barrage at the end of the week, the story that finally captured the country’s and some media attention was the Trump regime’s increasingly cruel and racist policies at the border. Immigrants are being dehumanized by Trump in words, and his regime is enacting inhumane policies resulting in families being separated, and children going missing.

This week had numerous examples of assaults on the First Amendment, including arrests of high school students protesting gun violence, media outlets being barred from an EPA event, and NFL owners banning public protests by their players in an effort to appease Trump.

  1. Border Patrol detained and questioned two women for 35 minutes after hearing them speak Spanish at a gas station in Havre, Montana, a town in the northern part of the state, near the border with Canada.
  2. On Monday, Rep. Steve King introduced the Mayor Libby Schaaf Act of 2018, named for the Oakland mayor, which calls for up to five years’ imprisonment for officials who warn residents of ICE raids.
  3. On Monday, former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, pardoned by Trump last year after being convicted of contempt of court in a racial profiling case, filed a petition to run for U.S. Senator of Arizona.
  4. On Monday, tripling-down on Trump’s “animals” comments in Week 79, the White House issued a statement saying, “The violent animals of MS-13 have committed heinous, violent attacks in communities across America.”
  5. On Tuesday, in testimony before the House, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said it’s up to individual schools to decide whether to call ICE if they suspect their students are undocumented.
  6. Civil rights groups said DeVos’ comments violate the Supreme Court‘s 1982 ruling in Plyler v. Doe, which guarantees the rights of students to receive a public education regardless of their immigration status.
  7. NBC News reported as the Trump regime prepares to ramp up separating immigrant children from their parents coming over the border, that from October 2017 to mid-April, more than 700 children have been separated.
  8. Children are turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and the government tries to connect them with family members in the US. Under a new proposal from the Department of Homeland Security, relatives would also need to go through security checks, making it less likely they will come forward.
  9. On Wednesday, NPR reported according to an ACLU report, immigrant children who are detained by border patrol suffer physical, verbal, sexual, and psychological abuse, including denial of drinking water and food.
  10. Allegations in the ACLU report included denying a pregnant teen medical care, forcing a 16 year-old girl to forcibly spread her legs and be touched, and threatening a child with sexual abuse by an adult male detainee.
  11. The Arizona Daily Star reported Alma Jacinto, a 36 year-old from Guatemala, was separated from her sons, ages 8 and 11, and forced to wear a yellow bracelet on her left wrist.
  12. The yellow bracelet identifies parents who are arrested with their children and prosecuted in Operation Streamline, a fast-track program of the Trump regime. Prosecutors refuse to tell Jacinto where her children are.
  13. According to The Arizona Republic, the Office of Refugee Resettlement reported that at the end of 2017 the agency did not know the location of 1,475 of the that of the 7,635 children placed with sponsored individuals.
  14. PBS reported Department of Health and Human Services officials came under fire during Congressional testimony in April for the missing children. It was revealed that some of the children had been victims of sex trafficking.
  15. Steven Wagner, the acting assistant secretary of HHS’ Administration for Children and Families said from October 2016 and December 2017 the agency was unable to locate 19% of immigrant children taken in.
  16. NYT reported most of the children taken into government care are from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, and were fleeing from drug cartels, gang violence, and domestic abuse, government data shows.
  17. The Trump regime appointed Ronald Mortensen, an immigrant hard-liner who advocates for restricting legal and illegal immigration and is opposed to DACA, to a senior role in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.
  18. CNN reported an undocumented woman, Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, 20, from Guatemala was shot in the head and killed by a Border Patrol agent near Laredo, Texas on Wednesday. The agent claimed he came under attack by migrants armed with “blunt objects.”
  19. On Friday, Border Patrol changed their account of shooting of the undocumented woman, saying the migrants did not have blunt objects, but “rushed” the officer after ignoring orders to get on the ground.
  20. The revised statement also refers to the gunshot victim as a “member of the group.” Customs and Border Protection canceled a press conference that was supposed to take place on Friday.
  21. WAPO reported in addition to Trump’s tirade against DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in Week 78, he has been berating her all spring over a rise in illegal crossings. The rise, due to migration patterns returning to historic seasonal norms, has stripped Trump of his proudest accomplishment.
  22. Trump is also furious at Nielsen for not securing money for his border wall, even though she was not party to the spending deal struck by senior White House aides that Trump signed.
  23. Nielsen has said Trump doesn’t understand the nuances of immigration law. One expert said Trump wants Nielsen to deliver a crackdown that looks like the Iraq War: “He wants to do shock and awe,”
  24. Trump met with Stephen Miller and Kushner ahead of his February 2017 speech to Congress, and acting like he was at a rally, “recited a few made-up Hispanic names and described potential crimes they could have committed, such as rape or murder.” Miller and Kushner laughed.
  25. LA Times reported that Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council union which represents 15,000 agents, called Trump’s National Guard deployment to the border a “colossal waste.”
  26. The union endorsed Trump in 2016. Judd said when he heard the National Guard was going to the border “I was extremely excited” for help to alleviate the Border Patrol workload, but “that has not happened at all.”
  27. Houston Chronicle reported on Esteban Pastor, a 28 year-old escaping from Guatemala who was detained in Texas and separated from his sick 18 month-old crossing the border. When he was deported three months later, agents were unable to locate his baby.
  28. Few procedures are in place to track and reunify families. Nielsen has defended the regime’s practice of separating parents from children, saying children are taken from criminals imprisoned for breaking the law.
  29. Before the Trump regime, most parents with children weren’t prosecuted for crossing the border illegally, a misdemeanor for first offenders, but deported or freed together under a practice called “catch and release.”
  30. On Saturday, facing pressure for news about separated families and missing children, Trump tweeted blaming Democrats for the “horrible horrible law that separates children from there parents.”
  31. Trump also blamed Democrats for “PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS,” and added, “ Catch and Release, Lottery and Chain must also go with it.” Trump also said we “MUST continue building the WALL!”
  32. On Friday, DHS said, for a second year in a row, it would issue 15,000 additional guest workers visas for 2018, following an outcry from businesses over being hurt by the country’s labor squeeze.
  33. Capitol Police arrested four of the eights students from the Montgomery County Students for Gun Control who staged a sit-in outside of Speaker Paul Ryan’s office last Friday. The students were calling on Ryan to pass common-sense gun control legislation.
  34. On Tuesday, AP reported the Environmental Protection Agency barred the Associated Press, CNN, and the environmental-focused news organization E&E from a national summit on harmful water contaminants convened by Scott Pruitt in Washington DC.
  35. According to AP, when their reporter asked to speak to an EPA public-affairs person, “the security guards grabbed the reporter by the shoulders and shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building.”
  36. On Tuesday, when asked at the press briefing about the EPA turning away reporters, press secretary Sarah Sanders said she would “look into” it, saying “I can’t speak to a situation I don’t have a lot of visibility into.”
  37. On Wednesday, reporters were again barred from attending the EPA water pollution event. Journalists from AP, Politico, and many others were turned away, told the sessions were were closed to reporters.
  38. On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that Trump cannot blocking Twitter users, saying it is a violation of the First Amendment. Twitter is a public forum and silencing critics is not permissible under the U.S. Constitution.
  39. On Wednesday, the NFL announced players will be allowed to stay in the locker room during the national anthem, but teams will be fined if their players kneel during the anthem.
  40. The policy was adopted without the players’ union involvement. In a statement Wednesday, the union said it would review and “challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”
  41. On Thursday, when asked about the NFL move on “Fox & Friends,” Trump said the owners did the right thing, “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem…maybe they shouldn’t be in the country.”
  42. Conversely, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told athletes, “do not [just] stick to sports.” This week, Milwaukee police released a disturbing video of Bucks player, Sterling Brown’s arrest, with obvious racial undertones.
  43. On Monday, at a private White House signing ceremony, Trump repealed auto-lending guidance from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that protected minority customers from predatory practices.
  44. Trump’s Interior Department said it would reverse Obama-era rules barring hunters in Alaska from baiting brown bears with bacon and doughnuts and using spotlights to shoot mother black bears and cubs hibernating in their dens.
  45. On Tuesday, Trump’s DHS unveiled the regime’s proposed regulations which would ban organizations that perform or refer patients for abortions from receiving Title X dollars.
  46. The regulation would also remove “medically approved” family planning services from the requirement, meaning formerly ineligible organizations, some of which oppose contraception, could now received Title X funding.
  47. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher told a group of realtors that homeowners should be able to refuse to sell their homes to gays and lesbians, saying they should not be forced to do business with “someone they think is doing something that is immoral.”
  48. On Thursday, the House passed a bill to reauthorize funds for the military, which includes authorization for Trump’s request to hold a military parade.
  49. Speaking at a Naval Academy commencement, Trump told graduates, “our ancestors tamed a continent,” adding “We are not going to apologize for America. We are going to stand up for America.”
  50. The Arizona Republic reported the Arizona Department of Education plans to make changes to the K-12 curriculum, including removing the word “evolution” in some areas and describing it as a “theory” in others.
  51. In a letter, Democrat Sen. Jeff Merkley and GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, demanded the FCC investigate identity theft and fraud of two million Americans, including the two senators, in public comments for net neutrality.
  52. Politico reported that John Bolton relied on Matthew Freedman, a consultant and former lobbyist who worked for Paul Manafort and was fired from Trump’s transition team, to meet with potential job applicants for the National Security Council.
  53. Mark Inch, a retired Army major general who was appointed nine months ago to oversee the Federal Bureau of Prisons and its more than 180,000 inmates, resigned citing the regime continually flouting “departmental norms.”
  54. On Saturday, Trump attacked the FBI and DOJ, tweeting, “If the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal,” and called for the release or review of documents.
  55. On Saturday, Jeanine Pirro opened her Fox News show, calling Jeff Sessions, “the single most dangerous person,” saying that Sessions is,“the most of powerful prosecutor in the world,” who “hides behind” Rosenstein.
  56. On Sunday, Fox News host Maria Bartiromo told “Fox & Friends” that either Obama or Hillary “were sort of masterminding all of this,” saying agencies “were all involved in trying to take down Donald Trump.”
  57. On Sunday, Trump vented in a series of seven tweets, deriding the “$20,000,000 Witch Hunt,” and attacking his political opponents, including Hillary Clinton, Andrew McCabe, Obama and the Podesta brothers.
  58. Trump also tweeted “The Failing and Crooked” NYT published a “long & boring story,” adding the “World’s most expensive Witch Hunt” found nothing on Russia, so “now they are looking at the rest of the World!
  59. Later Sunday, Trump tweeted, “I hereby demand….the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes,” and if the requests came from the Obama administration.
  60. Hours later, Rod Rosenstein announced the Justice Department inspector general will expand an ongoing review to include an inquiry to determine “whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation.”
  61. Over the weekend, media widely reported Stefan Halper is the FBI source. Halper is a Republican who worked for Nixon and Ford and donated to George W. Bush, and is an emeritus professor at the University of Cambridge.
  62. On Sunday, former CIA director John Brennan tweeted at Speaker Ryan and Leader Mitch McConnell, saying Trump was on a “disastrous path” and Republican leaders would bear responsibility for the “harm done to our democracy” if they did not intervene.
  63. On Monday, hours before attending the swearing in of his new CIA director, Trump attacked Brennan in a series of tweets, saying he “has disgraced” himself, the country, and the entire intelligence community.
  64. Trump also quoted Dan Bongino who had appeared on “Fox & Friends” that morning, saying of Brennan, “This was a Political hit job, this was not an Intelligence Investigation,” and Brennan is “worried about staying out of Jail.”
  65. On Monday, Michael Caputo hinted on Fox News that there is a second informant that penetrated Trump’s campaign, adding when the truth comes out, “[James] Clapper and the rest of them are going to be wearing some orange suits.”
  66. On Monday, Trump met privately for about an hour with Rosenstein, Christopher Wray, and Daniel Coats. Sanders said the meeting had been on the schedule since last week.
  67. After the meeting, the White House announced John Kelly would convene another gathering between the officials and congressional leaders to “review highly classified and other information.”
  68. On Monday, Rudy Giuliani told HuffPost that Robert Mueller will not be allowed to interview Trump until Trump learns more about the secret FBI informant, saying “I don’t care so much about the name as I do about the content.”
  69. On Tuesday, Rep. Lee Zeldin and 11 House conservatives introduced a resolution calling for a second special counsel to investigate possible misconduct by the Justice Department and FBI during the 2016 election.
  70. On Tuesday, DHS Secretary Nielsen told a reporter she was unaware of the finding in the January 2017 intelligence community’s assessment that Russia intervened to help Trump win: “I do not believe that I’ve seen that conclusion.”
  71. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, saying things have turned for the “Criminal Deep State,” saying they are “caught in a major SPY scandal” and calling the Russia probe, “phony” and a “made up Scam.”
  72. Trump later tweeted his branded term for the ongoing attack on the FBI and Justice Department: “SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!”
  73. On Wednesday, as he left the White House, Trump told reporters asking for proof of his spying allegations, Trump, “All you have to do is look at the basics and you’ll see it. Looks like a very serious event, but we’ll find out.”
  74. On Thursday, Trump tweeted, “Clapper has now admitted that there was Spying in my campaign,” adding, “Starting to look like one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history. SPYGATE.”
  75. Trump incorrectly attributed a statement by former DNI Clapper on “The View” speaking about his new book. Clapper had said, “They were spying on — a term I don’t particularly like … what the Russians were doing.”
  76. On Thursday, Trump also tweeted, without citing evidence, “Large dollars were paid to the Spy, far beyond normal,” adding this is “one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history.”
  77. On Thursday, AP reported Trump told an ally this week that he wanted “to brand” the informant a spy, believing the term would resonate more in the media and with the public, and came up with the term “Spygate.”
  78. On Tuesday, the White House announced that FBI and Justice Department officials would brief only Reps. Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy on confidential intelligence on the FBI’s Russia informant.
  79. After complaints by top House and Senate Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, a second meeting was scheduled at 2 p.m., including the “Gang of Eight” and Gowdy, immediately after the noon meeting for Nunes and Gowdy.
  80. At the last minute, Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, was also invited to attend both meetings. Speaker Ryan said due to a scheduling conflict, he would attend the first meeting.
  81. On Thursday, without advance notice and raising suspicions from lawmakers on both sides, chief of staff Kelly and White House lawyer Emmet Flood attended both meetings.
  82. Reportedly, Kelly and Flood delivered a message from Trump and then left. Rep. Schiff said Flood’s “involvement — in any capacity — was entirely improper, and I made this clear to him.”
  83. Later Thursday, the White House released a statement, saying Kelly and Flood made only, “brief remarks before the meetings started to relay the President’s desire for as much openness as possible under the law.”
  84. After the meeting, Schiff read a statement on behalf of Pelosi, Schumer, Warner and himself: “Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intel agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign.”
  85. Sen. McConnell told Fox News of the meeting that he learned “nothing particularly surprising.” He also told NPR he supports the Mueller investigation, as well as the inspector general’s investigation of the Justice Department.
  86. On Friday, Trump again attacked the FBI on Twitter, repeating his claim without evidence that the informant was “paid a fortune.”
  87. Trump also tweeted, without evidence, “imagine having Spies placed in a competing campaign, by the people and party in absolute power,” saying it was for “political advantage and gain,” but they still “LOST!”
  88. On Friday, Giuliani told the AP Trump’s legal team wants a briefing on the classified information shared with lawmakers, and may use it to take to the Justice Department as part of an effort to try to end the Mueller probe.
  89. Giuliani said the White House is hoping for a readout next week, adding “If the spying was inappropriate, that means we may have an entirely illegitimate investigation.”
  90. On Thursday, WSJ reported, according to emails reviewed by the Journal, Roger Stone privately sought emails he thought were damaging to Hillary Clinton from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
  91. In a September 18, 2016 message, Stone asked Randy Credico, a New York radio personality who had interviewed Assange, for Hillary’s emails related to the 2011 Libyan peace deal. Credico eventually responded, “That batch probably coming out in the next drop.”
  92. Credito told WSJ he first got to know Stone in August 2016 when Stone agreed to be on his show. Credito said Stone had claimed to be in touch with Assange, and had predicted the release of damaging information.
  93. The emails contradict Stone’s testimony to Congress, in which he said he “merely wanted confirmation” from an acquaintance that Assange had information on Hillary. Stone maintains he hasn’t been contacted by Mueller’s office.
  94. On Wednesday, Mueller’s team asked a federal judge to deny a request by AP, CNN, NYT, Politico, and WAPO for a “broad unsealing” of search warrants, affidavits, and other materials related to Manafort.
  95. Mueller’s team argued in its filing that the investigation is “not a closed matter but an ongoing criminal investigation with multiple lines of non-public inquiry.”
  96. The filing noted the probe has resulted in criminal charges against 22 individuals and entities, adding unsealing materials would create “a serious risk of jeopardizing the ongoing and interconnected aspects of the investigation.”
  97. On Saturday, NYT reported on a meeting arranged by Erik Prince at Trump Tower on August 3, 2016 between Donald Jr., George Nader, and Joel Zamel, an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation.
  98. Nader, an emissary for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the UAE and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, said the princes were eager to help Trump win the election.
  99. Zamel came to with a multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation. Reportedly, Donald Jr. responded positively to the offers for help, and Nader was embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers.
  100. After Trump was elected, Nader paid Zamel as much as $2 million after a presentation by Zamel demonstrating the significance of their help. Mueller is investigating these interactions, and Nader is cooperating.
  101. On Saturday, WSJ said it has reviewed a subpoena by Mueller team for Zamel, which has not yet been issued. Zamel runs two companies that were involved in the 2016 election, Wikistrat and Psy-Group. Mueller’s team has conducting interviews about Zamel’s work.
  102. Psy-Group, which is a secretive private intelligence firm with the motto “shape reality,” has veteran Israeli intelligence officials linked to it. Wikistrat uses a network of experts to analyze geopolitical problems.
  103. Zamel’s attorney said his client offered nothing to and received nothing from the Trump campaign. Donald Jr.’s attorney said in a statement that Donald Jr. “was not interested and that was the end of it.”
  104. On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported Mueller’s team has subpoenaed bank records for payments made to Psy-Group’s Cyprus bank accounts. While Psy-Group is based in Israel, it’s headquartered in Cyprus.
  105. Following Trump’s victory, Psy-Group formed an alliance with Cambridge Analytica to try to win U.S. government business. A proposal sent to the State Department offers Psy-Group “has conducted messaging/influence operations in well over a dozen languages and dialects.”
  106. Mueller’s team interviewed people associated with Psy-Group’s U.S. operation in February. Shortly after, the company’s CEO Royi Burstien told employees in Tel Aviv the company was closing down. Burstien is a former commander of an Israeli psychological warfare unit.
  107. On Wednesday, WSJ reported Mueller’s team has also interviewed Zamel, likely as part of their investigation into the influence of the UAE in the 2016 election. Zamel is said to be close to top officials in the UAE.
  108. Zamel starting making contacts with the UAE in 2014, and founded Psy-Group in 2016. Some of Psy-Group’s work included setting up “honey traps” — creating compromising information to be used for leverage.
  109. On Sunday, WAPO reported Andrew Intrater, chief executive of Columbus Nova and cousin of Viktor Vekselberg, not only made donations to Trump, but also signed a $1 million annual contract with Cohen for help finding investors.
  110. Intrater was reportedly impressed with the large number of wealthy people Cohen seemed to know, but after Cohen was unable to identify any new investors, the contract was terminated and Cohen was paid $500,000.
  111. On Sunday, a newly-filed Federal Election Commission report showed the RNC paid $451,780 to Trout Cacheris & Janis, a law firm that represents Hope Hicks and others Mueller’s Russia probe.
  112. On Tuesday, NYT reported Evgeny Freidman, a Russian immigrant known as the Taxi King, and significant business partner of Cohen, has agreed to cooperate with state or federal investigations as part of a plea deal.
  113. Friedman is accused of failing to pay more than $5 million in taxes and faced four counts of criminal tax fraud and one of grand larceny. Under the plea deal, he will plead guilty to a single count and get no jail time.
  114. Giuliani changed his position on whether Trump would speak to Mueller — telling the WSJ he opposed it, then WAPO he was for it. Giuliani later told BuzzFeed that he and Trump last talked a “couple weeks ago.
  115. Giuliani also told WAPO he was concerned about a perjury trap saying the “truth is relative,” adding, reminiscent of Kellyanne Conway’s alternative facts, “They may have a different version of the truth than we do.”
  116. CNN reported Trump’s lawyers are trying to narrow the scope of the Mueller interview to limit or eliminate questions regarding Trump’s conduct after he took office, especially related to obstruction of justice.
  117. Mueller is reportedly against written responses, and will insist on asking Trump questions about his time in office. The Mueller team continues to be tight lipped, not speaking publicly, about the investigation.
  118. On Tuesday, AP reported based on a review of the emails and documents, Elliott Broidy and Nader worked to cultivate the princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, then lobby Congress and the White House on the gulf state’s behalf.
  119. Summaries written by Broidy reveal he had two meeting with Trump. Broidy was also passing messages to the Trump from the two princes, and told Trump he was seeking business with them.
  120. Neither Broidy or Nader registered under Foreign Agents Registration Act, although both waged an anti-Qatar campaign on behalf of foreign client. Broidy came close to netting more than $1 billion in business as payment for his work.
  121. Cadre, a real estate technology startup co-founded and partly owned by Kushner, is in discussions about a $100 million investment with SoftBank, a private fund that gets almost half its capital from the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
  122. On Wednesday, BBC reported Cohen received a payment of at least $400,000 through an intermediary to broker talks between the Ukrainian president Poroshenko and Trump. The meeting took place at the White House last June.
  123. A senior intelligence official in Kiev said that Sater also helped Cohen. A week after Poroshenko returned home, Ukraine’s National Anti Corruption Bureau announced it was dropping its investigation of Manafort.
  124. On Wednesday, Mueller’s team asked a federal judge to start the process of preparing a pre-sentencing report for George Papadopoulos.
  125. On Friday, NYT reported according to video footage from C-Span and and an interview with Intrater who also attended, Donald Jr. and Cohen met with Vekselberg at Trump Tower on January 9, 2017.
  126. According to Intrater, the meeting took place in Cohen’s office on the 26th floor. The topics discussed were shared interests and a mutual desire to strengthen Russia’s relations with the U.S. under Trump.
  127. Intrater claimed Vekselberg, his cousin and biggest client, had no role in Columbus Nova’s decision to hire Cohen for $1 million contract shortly after the election, or the multiple donations made to Trump.
  128. On Friday, Politico reported bankruptcy lawyers for Jeffrey Yohai, Manafort’s son-in-law who is cooperating in the Mueller probe, are seeking to drop partial representation citing unpaid bills and lack of candor.
  129. On Friday, Yahoo News reported the FBI has obtained a secret wiretaps collected by Spanish police of conversations involving Alexander Torshin that lead up to his meeting with Donald Jr. at the NRA convention in May 2016.
  130. The conversations took place between Torshin and Alexander Romanov, a convicted Russian money launderer, and were wiretapped as part of officials’ investigation into Spanish organized crime.
  131. Despite allegations of ties to Russian money laundering, Torshin continues to travel to the U.S., including to the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2017 where he was supposed to meet with Trump, but that meeting was canceled the night prior.
  132. On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the regime had decided to put the trade war with China “on hold,” despite the fact that meetings in Beijing and Washington DC produced no major agreement.
  133. On Tuesday, following action rebuking Trump in the House in Week 79, the Senate Banking Committee voted 23-2 to make it harder for Trump to modify penalties against ZTE.
  134. On Tuesday, speaking at the White House, Trump floated a new plan to fine ZTE and shake up its management in lieu of sanctions, saying the company has been hurt by an April Commerce Department decision.
  135. On Friday, the Trump regime told Congress it had a new deal to revive ZTE, under which the company would pay a substantial fine, hire an American compliance officers, and change its management team.
  136. WAPO reported a letter being circulated to dozens of wealthy entrepreneurs in China last week, topped with the insignia of a real Republican committee, offered access to Trump at a fundraiser.
  137. The invitation offers a handshake and a one-on-one photo with Trump for $100,000. U.S. election law allows foreign visitors to attend fundraisers as long as they do not pay their own entry, but the invitation does raise ethical concerns.
  138. Watchdog group CREW noted that Ivanka’s business has won approval for Chinese trademarks recently, including on May 7 her business received “registration” approval for five trademark applications.
  139. Politico reported that Trump uses at least two at least two iPhones to contact friends and tweet, which are not equipped with sophisticated security features designed to shield his communications.
  140. On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by reading a letter from Trump to Kim Jong Un cancelling the Singapore summit.
  141. The letter thanked Kim Jong Un for releasing three prisoners, but included a threat, “You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”
  142. Shortly after canceling the summit, Trump told the press, “It’s possible that the existing summit could take place, or a summit at some later date.”
  143. South Korea President Moon, who had visited Trump at the White House Tuesday, convened an emergency meeting after the announcement. Spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters, “We are trying to figure out what President Trump’s intention is and the exact meaning of it.
  144. On Friday, NYT reported the summit with North Korea may be on again, a startling reversal which speaks to Trump improvising and erratic style, as well as deep divisions within the regime on how to proceed.
  145. On Saturday, Trump tweeted attacked the NYT in two tweets, saying unlike what “the Failing and Corrupt New York Times” has said, there is “ZERO disagreement” in the regime on how to deal with North Korea.
  146. Trump also said the “Failing” Timesquotes “a senior White House official,” who doesn’t exist.” The NYT countered, saying Trump falsely claimed the Times made up a source.
  147. On Wednesday, CNN reported Kushner had his White House security clearance restored, after months of uncertainty stemming in part from Kushner being questioned in the Mueller probe.
  148. Kushner’s attorney Abbe Lowell said Kushner met with Mueller’s team for a second time in April for a seven hour interview. Lowell claimed Kushner is finished with Mueller’s inquiries. Mueller did not comment.
  149. On Thursday, Axios reported Ivanka now also has full security clearance. Both Ivanka and Kushner were reportedly given full Top Secret clearance on May 1.
  150. USA Today reported T Retail LLC, a company formed in May 2017 and listed in Trump’s financial disclosure statement as earning over $100,000, is a store that sells items from t-shirts to hats to dog leashes, branded with the “Trump” name.
  151. On Thursday, in a statement, T-Mobile said it hired Turnberry Solutions in August to help in the lobbying effort to secure federal approval for its proposed takeover of Sprint. Corey Lewandowski is affiliated with Turnberry.
  152. WSJ reported Lewandowski receives a cut of the fees paid to the lobbying firm on the T-Mobile contract. Lewandowski has denied any relationship to Turnberry, although they share Capitol Hill office space.
  153. On Friday, in three executive orders, Trump rolled back civil-service protections federal employees have enjoyed for a generation, making it easier to fire poor performers and change rules related to unions.
  154. One order will limit the time federal employees can spend doing union business to no more than a quarter of their workday on “official time,” taking away a benefit granted by Congress four decades ago.
  155. Firing based on performance will change a long-standing tradition of basing layoffs on seniority. The order will now require agencies to charge unions for space in federal buildings they now use for free.
  156. WAPO reported it has now been more than two weeks since First lady Melania Trump was seen in public, prior to her kidney procedure. Melania was last seen on May 10. There has been no update on her health.
  157. On Friday, a reporter asked Trump as he was boarding Marine One about Melania, and Trump pointed to a window in the White House residence, and said: “She’s doing great. She’s looking at us right there.” She was not there.
  158. On Tuesday, women of color, LGBTQ women, and women who have served in the military made historic firsts winning their Democratic primaries. Stacey Abrams of Georgia will have a shot to become the first black female governor.
  159. The Center for American Women and Politics found in primaries so far, women make up more than 40% of House Democratic nominees, a record. Republican House women are down from prior years to under 10%.
  160. The Senate, led by Amy Klobuchar and Roy Blunt, passed a long-stalled bill to overhaul how sexual harassment complaints are made and handled, and to make lawmakers pay settlements out of their own pockets.
  161. On Friday, Harvey Weinstein, whose allegations of sexual assault were part of the start of the #MeToo movement, came handcuffed into a courtroom where he was charged with rape and sexual abuse.

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

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., joins mothers and caregivers during a news conference at the House Triangle to call on lawmakers to protect ‘immigration and refugee policies that protect the rights and safety of women and children,’ on May 23, 2018. They want to end the separating of families, stop the detention of pregnant women, and shield women who are are seeking to escape domestic violence.