A Complete Breakdown Of Donald Trump’s 54th Obstructive Week As POTUS

54th Weekend (January 27–28)

President Donald Trump applauds himself as he finishes his first State of the Union address — Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 in Washington. (Win McNamee/Pool via AP)

President Donald Trump applauds himself as he finishes his first State of the Union address — Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 in Washington. (Win McNamee/Pool via AP)

We are witnessing a Russian nesting doll of obstruction. With every attempt to undermine the rule of law and the investigation into Russia’s interference in our democracy, President Trump’s efforts grow increasingly more misleading, desperate, and futile. All the while, the Republicans complicit in the President’s authoritarian witch hunt of U.S. law enforcement are seeing their stature shrink as they shed their remaining credibility, morality, and patriotism.

There is no other way to cover this: The President of the United States, along with his sycophants in the Republican Party and right-wing media, are executing on a coordinated effort to obstruct the Trump-Russia investigation. And as a result, they are subverting the rule of law, actively undermining Americans’ trust in their own institutions, and by extension enthusiastically accomplishing the goals of Vladimir Putin — a foreign adversary.

We are witnessing the Breitbartization of the GOP, as they engage in an unsubstantiated probe into the FBI and DOJ, mindlessly seeking the “Deep State.” In spite of the GOP’s complicity, there are serious wrongdoings that we need to get to the bottom of: money laundering, collusion, and countless attempts to obstruction of justice.

By the end of the week, even members of their own party would be calling them out:

“The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests — no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s… Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.” — Senator John McCain (R-AZ)

This administration didn’t stop with the memo. President Trump selectively refused to implement Congress’ veto-proof sanctions on Russian Oligarchs, didn’t even mention Russia’s interference in the State of the Union, and continues to do nothing to defend our voting processes from Russia’s ongoing operation which will only escalate as we approach the midterms.

As more evidence of obstruction of justice surfaced, this time involving Hope Hicks, many continued to wonder what would happen if Republicans refuse to hold the President accountable for his actions.

To put it bluntly, we’d be facing a constitutional crisis that would place us on the brink of authoritarianism. That doesn’t sound like fun, but it’s the reality of the situation.

Fortunately, the American people are vigilant. They are watching, organizing, and fired up. They won’t forget this at every special election this year and in November.

If Republican members of Congress won’t hold the President accountable, you can be damn sure the American people will.

Here’s a complete breakdown of Donald Trump’s 54th week as POTUS:

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“He’s So Misinformed”

President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration policy in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington — Jan. 9, 2018 file photo (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration policy in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington — Jan. 9, 2018 file photo (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

We ended last week with yet another revelation related Trump’s efforts to undermine the Trump-Russia investigation. Foreign Policy reported that Trump targeted 3 FBI officials to discredit after learning that they could be witnesses against him in the Mueller probe. The officials were former acting-FBI Director and subsequently Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe; Jim Rybicki — James Comey’s and Christopher Wray’s chief of staff, and James Baker — formerly FBI’s general counsel.

Rybicki just resigned as Wray’s Chief of Staff. Baker was just replaced by Boente. And by the following Monday, McCabe would be gone. With the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign in full swing, with the help of Russian bots, the intent to undermine Mueller’s investigation reached new heights. As we headed into this week, obstruction of justice hovered over the State of the Union…and I’m not just referring to Trump’s speech.

Meanwhile…

  • As the world recognized Holocaust Remembrance Day, news of more inhumane ICE raids broke.

  • Rap and business mogul Jay-Z made waves with his appearance on Van Jones’ new show.

The President took notice.

But of course, only after his daily briefers over at Fox & Friends reported on it.

  • The Grammy’s got political.

Trump world wasn’t happy. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley had the most shared take.

Twitter responded.

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54th Week (January 29–February 2)

Monday, January 29

#ReleaseTheDistraction

Carter Page (Reuters)

Carter Page (Reuters)

On Monday, Republicans voted to release the dubious memo written by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes — who didn’t read the underlying intelligence that the memo is summarizing. I also want to point out up front the fact that Devin Nunes was on the Trump transition team, which is a subject of the Trump-Russia investigation. So…any move taken by Nunes to undermine this investigation is arguably an attempt to undermine an investigation into his own actions. Now that we have that established let’s dive in.

The DOJ said releasing the memo would be “extraordinarily reckless,” citing concerns over the classified nature of the content and how it could reveal sources and methods. As of this day, all we knew about the incoming memo was that it was an attempt to discredit Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein by claiming his involvement in the approval of a renewal of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) surveillance on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, was obtained under pretenses. It tries to cast doubt on the FISA process while at the same time alluding to their “Deep State” conspiracy. Just to establish how bad of an idea it is put all their chips on Carter Page, here’s quick background on the grown-up Caillou:

Carter Page was a former adviser to candidate Trump until the Trump campaign distanced themselves from him after his Russia ties were reported on. Page is the founder of Global Energy Capital, an investment firm in New York, where he partnered with Sergei Yatsenk. Yatsenk is a former Gazprom executive, a Kremlin-owned energy company Page did business with during the time he lived in Russia from 2004–2007.

It’s believed Carter Page became a subject of the Trump-Russia probe due to his campaign-approved trip to Moscow in July of 2016 to meet with Igor Sechin, the chairman of the Russia State-owned oil company Rosneft, and may have discussed the prospect of lifting sanctions on Russia. And that’s not all: Page met with Russian spy Victor Podobnyy in 2013, Russians have reportedly attempted to cultivate Page as a way to infiltrate the Trump campaign, and Page has admitted to communications with Russians during the campaign.

Page has been a subject of FBI FISA surveillance since 2014, has undergone repeated FBI questioning, and over 10 hours of questioning by congressional investigators last year. The important point about his FISA surveillance is that the FBI obtained the warrant because they believed Carter Page is “an agent of the Russian government and knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow.”

And that’s just what’s publicly known about Carter Page. Imagine what the FBI knows. You tell me if his surveillance was warranted. This was not the hill the GOP should’ve chosen to die on. But they did. More on that later.

The memo also serves as a method to try and cast the largely Republican FBI and DOJ as corrupted and politically biased against President Trump. As we see later in the week, the memo has multiple omissions of fact, and some admissions that reflect negatively on the Trump administration, that render it a misleading nothingburger

One of the main revelations this day wasn’t the vote to release the memo…it was the fact that the House Intelligence Committee made it clear they are officially investigating the FBI and DOJ.

By the memo’s Friday release, Senator John McCain would agree with the above sentiment.

Meanwhile…

  • The deadline to implement the veto-proof sanctions had arrived…and the Trump administration continued their eerie capitulation to Vladimir Putin.

Russia said that the sanctions that were implemented were in an effort to meddle in their elections…this is the 1,000th time irony died this year.

  • FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was forced into an early retirement on Monday. The decision was made by FBI Director Christopher Wray.

We also found out that Trump’s attacks on McCabe went beyond just tweets.

  • Republicans decided to not advance a bill that would protect Robert Mueller.
  • The Daily Beast reported that when reached out to by a fake Sean Hannity Twitter account (while Hannity’s real account was down), Julian Assange was receptive — as if he was feeding information to the real Hannity.

  • Republican New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen will not seek re-election.
  • CNN reported that “A Russian Su-27 jet performed an unsafe intercept of a US Navy surveillance plane while it was flying in international airspace over the Black Sea…The American pilots reported that the Russian jet came within 5 feet of the US plane.”
  • A 20-week abortion ban bill was voted down in the Senate, and a bill to protect young athletes was passed in the House.

  • A report revealed that Melania Trump was “blindsided” and “furious” about the news of her husband’s payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels.
  • It was quite the day…

One thing’s for sure: In the days to come, the media must responsibly be on their toes.

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Tuesday, January 30

What Is The State Of Our Union?

President Donald Trump (Rantt Media Co-Founder Adam A/AP)

President Donald Trump (Rantt Media Co-Founder Adam A/AP)

President Trump’s State of the Union address was a drawn-out regurgitation of what he feels are his accomplishments, peppered with fear-mongering about undocumented immigrants. In one of the worst moments of the speech, Trump tried to conflate unaccompanied minors who travel across the border to MS-13.

Trump ran through his usual touting of the Black and Hispanic unemployment rates, as well as the economy as a whole.

In what is usually a thankless job, Rep. Joe Kennedy III gave a strong response to the State of the Union.

While this was occurring, Americans gave their own rebuttals on the #StateOfTheDream hashtag.

Trump’s speech garnered some of the usual “Trump is presidential now” takes we’ve grown used to. And they were especially bad from the right.

Our take was…the opposite.

Meanwhile…

  • A stunning NBC News report revealed a banana republic style contemplation on the part of President Trump.

  • News of a DOJ Inspector General probe into Andrew McCabe that led to his resignation was reported.

  • The FBI is assessing a second dossier that was created by former journalist Cody Shearer. The dossier reportedly independently corroborates some of the allegations made in the Christopher Steele dossier.
  • After approving of the release of the Nunes memo, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) hops on the Breitbart-wing of the GOP’s coattails and says that the FBI needs a “cleanse.”
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that he doesn’t see a need to bring forward legislation to protect Robert Mueller.
  • CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald resigned after it was revealed that she traded tobacco stock while leading anti-smoking efforts.
  • While the Republican Party and the President wage a campaign to discredit the U.S. law enforcement apparatus, Trump-appointed CIA Director Mike Pompeo says that he expects Russia to target the U.S. again during the midterm elections.
  • Speaking of Pompeo, he met with Russia’s top spies — some of which may have been under U.S. sanctions. CNN reports:

CIA Director Mike Pompeo recently met with his Russian counterparts when they traveled to the US, according to US ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman.

Russian media is reporting those who met with Pompeo may have included the country’s sanctioned spy chief, Sergey Naryshkin.

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Wednesday, January 31

The Audacity Of Hope

We all know about the infamous June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting. The one where Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner met with the Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya after being promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. And we all remember the flurry of misleading statements that were released last July, the month that the meetings were revealed. We learned a few months later that the initial misleading statement was personally dictated by President Trump aboard Air Force One on the way back from G-20 summit. We also learned that other White House officials were involved, including now-White House Communications Director Hope Hicks. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has taken great interest in this misleading statement as part of his obstruction of justice probe.

Former Trump Attorney Mark Corallo spontaneously resigned that month. And now we have confirmation as to why…

Hicks has already had an interview with Mueller…if she lied about the circumstances surrounding this, then she may be susceptible to perjury charges.

Needless to say, this won’t be the last time we see Hope Hicks’ name in the news.

Meanwhile…

  • FBI Director Christopher Wray said he has “grave concerns” about the memo’s release.

  • Devin Nunes sent a memo to the White House with changes that weren’t reviewed by the committee.

  • It’s revealed that in December, Trump asked Rod Rosenstein if he was “on his team.” Yet another loyalty inquiry.

  • It’s discovered that the FBI agent, whose texts the GOP has used as evidence of anti-Trump bias in the FBI, literally wrote the first draft of the Comey letter that swung the election to Trump in the final days of the election. You can’t make this up.

  • Trump signed an EO keeping Guantanamo Bay open.
  • Representative Trey Gowdy, member of the House Intelligence Committee and infamous for his Benghazi probe, announced that he would be retiring from Congress. This comes after over the weekend, he was one of the few GOP voices in the House who said he has “100% confidence” in Mueller and that he should be able to run his investigation unperturbed. If only the members of the House who plan to remain in office had the balls to say the same.

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Thursday, February 1

“Discredit The Russia Investigation”

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office (AP/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office (AP/Andrew Harnik)

A CNN and The New York Times further confirmed the obvious. Donald Trump’s backing of the release of the Nunes memo is a clear attempt to discredit Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein with the intention of firing him.

This is part of a pattern.

Rosenstein has the ability to fire Mueller or limit the scope of his investigation (perhaps say that Trump’s personal finances are off limits). Also important to note, any impeachment referral that Mueller makes would have to first go through Rosenstein. So the idea of creating cause to fire Rosenstein is how they could undermine the investigation without necessarily calling for Mueller to be fired. As you can see, there are various ways that Rosenstein’s replacement could limit Mueller.

The crux of the memo is an attempt to discredit Rosenstein. But as I’ll soon explain, that is a claim that holds no merit.

Meanwhile…

  • Rick Gates, who was deputy to Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and charged with a 12-count indictment that included money laundering, might be negotiating with Mueller. This could provide added pressure on Manafort or Gates could provide testimony that would go for an even bigger fish…

Builds on this from the week before.

Also…

  • As news broke that the White House would approve the release of the memo, backlash mounted.

  • Size is one of Trump’s favorite things to lie about. This time, it’s about the size of his State of the Union audience.

  • Trump Jr. confirms that McCabe was forced out.

  • Trump tweeted as if he actually wants a deal on DACA. In reality, it’s an attempt to blame the Democrats if a deal falls through.

  • The Washington Post reported, “The Trump administration has stripped enforcement powers from a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unit responsible for pursuing discrimination cases, part of a broader effort to reshape an agency it criticized as acting too aggressively.”
  • The Washington Post reported that “The Trump administration is poised to ask Congress for deep budget cuts to the Energy Department’s renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, slashing them by 72 percent overall in fiscal 2019.”
  • A note of hope from President Obama’s foreign policy adviser and speechwriter.

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Friday, February 2

Useful Idiots

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. walks out of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, to speak with reporters following a meeting with President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. walks out of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, to speak with reporters following a meeting with President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

There was a term for those who unwittingly did the bidding of the Soviet Union: useful idiots. These were people who were successfully gaslit by Soviet propaganda and/or Russian spies. The U.S. Intelligence Community concluded that Russia’s longstanding objective has been to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order and our faith in democratic institutions. For decades, Russian propaganda has aimed to stir racial divisions, attack the credibility of the U.S. government, and try to weaken western influence. Modern Russia has their useful idiots in the Breitbart-wing of the Republican Party and in President Donald Trump. And I’m being generous when calling some of them unwitting.

Trump started the morning of the release of the Nunes memo attacking the FBI and the Justice Department. Of course, conservative news outlets got the first view of the memo.

Before the memo was released, Trump gave an ominous response to a question about Rosenstein.

John McCain released his statement.

By noon, the un-redacted memo was released.

The major new piece of information was that Carter Page’s FISA warrant was renewed 3 times. To clarify, it wasn’t just Rosenstein who approved the renewal. Former acting-Attorney General Sally Yates, current FBI General Counsel Dana Boente, Andrew McCabe, James Comey, and 4 judges approved of it.

Not only that, it had multiple omissions of fact and it debunked one of the GOP’s main talking points which centered around their false notion that the dossier triggered the FBI’s investigation, rather than George Papadopolous drunkenly bragging about the fact Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton to an Australian diplomat. It also mentions the fact that some of the Steele dossier has been corroborated.

Even Trey Gowdy shot down the idea that this discredited the Russia investigation.

Former FBI Director Comey chimed in.

Democrats fired back.

Reports later surfaced that the White House had no immediate plans to fire Rosenstein. John Kelly had previously stated that this memo wasn’t enough. He was right.

Despite the fact that this was a complete dud, Devin Nunes is moving onto his next target: The State Department.

Over the weekend the President’s cried vindication.

Meanwhile…

  • Sessions tried to express confidence in Rosenstein.

While many legal experts contend that Mueller lacks the standing to bring criminal charges against Trump, at least two attorneys working with clients swept up in the Russia probe told POLITICO they consider it possible that Mueller could indict the president for obstruction of justice.

  • Over the weekend, news of a 2013 Carter Page letter gave us even more reason to believe his FISA warrants were justified.

  • A Wall Street Journal report completely dismantled the GOP’s previous attempt to undermine the Russia investigation.

  • The White House continued to push for more military options with North Korea.
  • And just like that, Trump’s Black unemployment rate talking point was out the window.

  • K.T. McFarland, who is a subject of the Trump-Russia probe for her role in directing Michael Flynn’s calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, withdrew her nomination for ambassador of Singapore.
  • It appears some of these tactics are working.

This drop in confidence is being exacerbated by conservative media who has been parroting the President’s unpatriotic attacks on our institutions. Luckily, Rep. Eric Swalwell told Fox News’ what we’ve all been dying to tell him for far too long.

Bravo congressman. Bravo.

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