A Complete Breakdown Of Donald Trump’s 64th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

Donald J. Trump v. The Rule Of Law

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House — Tuesday, April 10, 2018 (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House — Tuesday, April 10, 2018 (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“As [Mussolini] was consolidating his power, he said, ‘if you pluck a chicken one feather at a time, nobody notices.’ And so, I have been concerned about the feather-plucking that is going on in the United States…I think [Trump] is the least democratic president that I’ve observed.” — The first female Secretary of State Madeleine Albright discussing her new book “Fascism: A Warning” on Pod Save The World

This was the week President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen (who’s under criminal investigation) had his offices, home, and hotel raided by the FBI. It was the week Speaker Paul Ryan announced his upcoming retirement. It was the week the US, UK, and France struck Syria. It was the week Americans sat on the edge of their Twitter timelines, wondering when President Trump was going to make yet another attempt to obstruct the Russia investigation and fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

But it was also the week Madeleine Albright (who fled Czechoslovakia with her parents in March 1939, just ten days after the Nazis invaded) released her book on fascism. A book that serves as a powerful reminder of what’s at stake and how today’s challenges echo the historic, never-ending tug of war between democracy and autocracy. Between decency and depravity. Between truth and fallacy.

President Trump has relentlessly eroded democratic norms, or as Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini put it, ‘plucked a chicken one feather at a time’ since the day he announced his candidacy, and this week was no different.

Although President Trump is far from the autocrats of the past (both in intellectual capacity and the fact he doesn’t hold absolute power), our responsibility in the media is to make sure everyone notices when the feathers of democracy are being plucked before it’s too late.

Each time President Trump calls honest reporting “fake news,” and his administration empowers thinly-veiled propaganda like Fox News and Sinclair Broadcast Group, another feather is plucked.

Each time President Trump brazenly calls for one of his political opponents to be jailed and it’s met with less outrage as if it’s being normalized, another feather is plucked.

When President Trump called a lawful federal investigation into Russian interference in our democracy (an investigation he is a subject of) an “attack on our country,” another feather is plucked.

When President Trump convinces his base that Republican investigators in the Justice Department, multiple judges, the Intelligence Community, all Democrats, and the media are executing a “deep state” conspiracy against him, another feather is plucked.

When President Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey and told Russian officials in the Oval Office the very next day “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off. I’m not under investigation.” — several feathers are plucked.

While this is all occurring, the Republican Party remains complicit as long as they can continue to get their agenda passed and engineer minority rule through voter suppression, gerrymandering, and coordinated propaganda.

Once we notice how many feathers have already been plucked, it’s our responsibility as Americans to vote with such resounding volume that our collective voice is too powerful to be suppressed.

Then, and only then, can the chicken be placed in more responsible hands.

Here’s a complete breakdown of Donald Trump’s 64th week as POTUS:

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64th Weekend (April 7–8)

Animal Assad

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, embraces Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia — Nov. 20, 2017 (Mikhail Klimentyev, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, embraces Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia — Nov. 20, 2017 (Mikhail Klimentyev, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad committed yet another chemical attack on his own people.

Russia and Assad denied the use of chemical weapons, but U.S. intel begged to differ. The BBC reported:

US intelligence agencies believe the Syrian government struck Khan Sheikhoun in response to a rebel offensive in northern Hama province, and that senior military leaders were probably involved in planning the attack.

US military radar systems monitored Syrian Air Force Sukhoi Su-22 fixed-wing aircraft take off from the government-controlled Shayrat airbase on 4 April and fly over Khan Sheikhoun on two occasions — at 06:37 (03:37 GMT) and 06:46.

Officials told NBC News that the radar systems picked up flashes on the ground, indicating that ordnance had been dropped on the rebel-held town about the same time that the first casualties with breathing difficulties were reported.

This came after President Trump, contradicting the Defense Department’s plans, announced his intention to withdraw from Syria —which is now a problematic proposition, to say the least. President Trump then made his first direct verbal attack on President Putin.

John Bolton’s first day as national security adviser was set to begin the following day.

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Meanwhile…

  • Trump’s National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton announced he was ending his tenure at the White House. Anton was brought in by then-National Security Adviser, now-convicted felon, Michael Flynn but spent most of his time as a spokesman for former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

Trump went on quite a few tweetstorms:

  • Tweeted about the fire at Trump Tower which killed an art collector (see that there is no condolence message and only a reference to a “well-built building”). We later learn that the building did not have required sprinkler systems, which he lobbied against.
  • Attacked his own Justice Department again.
  • Repeated China trade deficit lie.
  • Praised Scott Pruitt.
  • Said him and Xi Jinping will “always be friends” lol.
  • Attacked American media.

Very stable genius.

64th Week (April 9–13)

Monday, April 9

Raiders Of The Lost Cohen

President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

On Monday, news broke that would send the president into a fury and could potentially have huge legal ramifications for him.

But then, we found out it was far more than just his office that was raided, and we learned a little bit more about what was seized (we would learn much more later in the week.)

Special Counsel Robert Robert Mueller found evidence of a potential crime and brought it to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who then decided it would be better handled by the US prosecutors in the Southern District of New York (Preet Bharara’s old district).

As many rightfully pointed out, a raid of this nature could’ve only been approved by a judge if there was significant evidence that would create probable cause and perhaps a fear Cohen may destroy evidence.

The nation anxiously awaited President Trump’s reaction.

Unfortunately…I was right. Surrounded by his national security team at a meeting where President Trump was supposed to discuss Syria, he went on a tirade attacking the Russia investigation, Rosenstein, and Mueller.

While this wild story unraveled, Fox News covered the issues that really matter.

Regardless of the president and his supporters’ spin, this was a new stage in the many investigations pertaining to the president. With attorneys outside of Mueller’s team handling this, it would be harder for President Trump to obstruct (more on that later.) One thing is for sure; this is all eating away at President Trump.

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Meanwhile…

  • President Trump made a promise for a major decision on Syria within 48 hours. It came later than that, of course.

  • President Trump finalized his Trump University fraud settlement.

  • EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt came under increased fire for his unethical behavior. The Atlantic revealed that an email contradicted Pruitt’s denial of any knowledge surrounding a controversial pay raise he gave to two of his favorite aides after the White House denied the raises.

An email that suggests Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt personally signed off on a controversial pay raise for a favored aide last month is roiling the agency.

In the last few days, top staffers became aware of an email exchange between one of two aides who received such a raise and the agency’s human resources division. In mid-March, Sarah Greenwalt, senior counsel to the administrator, wrote to HR in an attempt to confirm that her pay raise of $56,765 was being processed. Greenwalt “definitively stated that Pruitt approves and was supportive of her getting a raise,” according to an administration official who has seen the email chain

The federal government’s top voice on ethics has sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency outlining areas of concern regarding agency chief Scott Pruitt.

The pointed letter from David Apol, the acting director and general counsel of the Office of Government Ethics, summarizes reports of Pruitt’s conduct, including a rental agreement with a lobbyist whose husband’s firm lobbies the EPA as well as EPA spending on Pruitt’s travel and security.

  • The CBO released a report that reflects poorly on the fiscal responsibility of the GOP’s tax cut plan and undercuts their argument that the plan would sufficiently boost the US economy to offset the costs. Bloomberg reported:

The U.S. budget deficit will surpass $1 trillion by 2020, two years sooner than previously estimated, as tax cuts and spending increases signed by President Donald Trump do little to boost long-term economic growth, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Spending will exceed revenue by $804 billion in the fiscal year through September, jumping from a projected $563 billion shortfall forecast in June, the non-partisan arm of Congress said in a report Monday. In fiscal 2019, the deficit will reach $981 billion, compared with an earlier projection of $689 billion.

The nation’s budget gap was only set to surpass the trillion-dollar level in fiscal 2022 under CBO’s report last June.

  • Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort was denied bail again as his lawyers moved to keep key evidence against Manafort out of court.

Tuesday, April 10

#ProtectMueller

Special Counsel Robert Mueller (AP)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller (AP)

After President Trump’s rant (not the good kind with two t’s) attacking the Russia investigation, remarking on Rosenstein, and openly pondering whether or not he’d fire Mueller, everyone expected to see reports that he was considering firing one of the investigators. But we didn’t expect to get two reports…

The New York Times reported that after reports of the potential Deutsche Bank subpoena into his associates’ finances, President Trump freaked out and tried to fire Mueller in December but didn’t do so after learning the subpoena was about his son-in-law Jared Kushner, not him. This marks the second reported time he tried to fire Mueller, and it explains why Democrats were so worried he’d try and do it in the month of December. But of course, as we know, President Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, he’d have to fire Mueller’s boss, Rosenstein. Which is where the CNN report comes in.

Firing Rosenstein could prove to be the more dangerous and strategically intelligent move on President Trump’s part. It would receive less political fallout from the GOP. The replacement could then rein in Mueller’s probe by limiting its scope, challenge Mueller’s moves, and/or make an effort to prematurely end the probe.

This is a great thread on the order of succession and what would happen if Trump went full Saturday Night Massacre:

The Senate is currently moving on a measure that would give added protections to Mueller if a move was made to try and fire him, but it doesn’t go far enough to protect Rosenstein or put protections in place for Mueller if his replacement meddles in the probe.

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates chimed in over the weekend.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said firing Mueller would be “suicide” for President Trump and Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) said it would be the beginning of the end of Trump’s presidency.

We’ll see.

“Whether we shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people [to decide].” — Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox after being fired by President Richard Nixon (October 20, 1973)

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Meanwhile…

  • President Trump sent some tweets…

  • Among the evidence obtained from Michael Cohen were records pertaining to the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

Federal Prosecutors have asked the Trump Organization for documents related to the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels (who is cooperating with the investigation.)

WASHINGTON — The special counsel is investigating a payment made to President Trump’s foundation by a Ukrainian steel magnate for a talk during the campaign, according to three people briefed on the matter, as part of a broader examination of streams of foreign money to Mr. Trump and his associates in the years leading up to the election.

Investigators subpoenaed the Trump Organization this year for an array of records about business with foreign nationals. In response, the company handed over documents about a $150,000 donation that the Ukrainian billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, made in September 2015 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in exchange for a 20-minute appearance by Mr. Trump that month through a video link to a conference in Kiev.

Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer whose office and hotel room were raided on Monday in an apparently unrelated case, solicited the donation. The contribution from Mr. Pinchuk, who has sought closer ties for Ukraine to the West, was the largest the foundation received in 2015 from anyone besides Mr. Trump himself.

President Trump attacked this story the following day, only to be called out by Maggie Haberman.

Search warrant documents used by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators reveal how agents zeroed in on potential criminal activity related to Paul Manafort’s time as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman.

The documents, used to obtain a search warrant in building the case against Manafort, were revealed in a court filing late Monday night. Manafort has pleaded not guilty in two federal cases, and the charges he faces do not include allegations about his time on the campaign.

  • Unsurprisingly, it was reported that President Trump is now “less inclined” to sit down for an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
  • The Trump-appointed US attorney in the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, is recused from the investigation into Michael Cohen.
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced questions in front of the Senate’s Commerce and Judiciary committees. Although it was clear some of the lawmakers had a limited knowledge of how the tech platform functions, it was overall a meaningful hearing about user data and how Facebook will handle their fake news/propaganda problem.

Minus Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).

I had some dumb jokes. Can’t blame me. Levity is required to maintain sanity these days.

  • Handwritten notes from Dana Boente, former acting attorney general now-FBI general counsel, corroborated much of Comey’s memos.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s company appealed directly to Panama’s president to intervene in its fight over control of a luxury hotel, even invoking a treaty between the two countries, in what ethics experts say was a blatant mingling of Trump’s business and government interests.

  • John Bolton made more moves. Tom Bossert resigned as Trump’s homeland security adviser upon Bolton’s request.

  • Fox News seemed to push Trump to fire Mueller.

  • Sinclair Broadcast Group continued their propaganda efforts.

Sinclair’s Chairman David D Smith met with the White House to pitch them new technology and effectively pledge allegiance. The Guardian reported:

The chairman of Sinclair Broadcast Group met Donald Trump at the White House during a visit to pitch a potentially lucrative new product to administration officials, the Guardian has learned.

“I just wanted them to be aware of the technology,” Smith said in an interview. He also recalled an earlier meeting with Trump during the 2016 election campaign, where he told the future president: “We are here to deliver your message.”

Wednesday, April 11

Goodbye Paul Ryan

Donald Trump and Paul Ryan (AP)

Donald Trump and Paul Ryan (AP)

After a career full of attempts at “entitlement reform” and pushing bills that would harm the most vulnerable Americans, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced that he would not be seeking reelection.

Add “enabler of President Trump” to his legacy.

Ryan’s retirement announcement followed a wave of GOP retirements, and certainly won’t be the last.

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Meanwhile…

  • President Trump took to Twitter early Wednesday morning. From threatening a strike on Syria to attacking the Russia investigation, it was a doozy.

Then, President Trump appeared to soften his tone?

President Trump then tried to blame the tense relationship between the US and Russia on the Russia investigation. Trump notably didn’t cite Russia’s interference in our democracy, annexation of Ukraine, hacking of US infrastructure, or use of a nerve agent in the UK for justification of poor US-Russia relations.

  • The New York Times reported even more details about what was sought in the Cohen raids. The records are in reference to potential attempts to suppress the reports of the Access Hollywood “grab ‘em by the pussy” tape, which would be in violation of election law.

  • The Mueller protection bills I referenced the previous day merged, but as I said, doesn’t have protections for Mueller if a Rosenstein replacement meddles in the probe.

  • Fox News continued…

  • Mueller asked a Virginia judge to issue 35 subpoenas for witnesses regarding Manafort’s trial.
  • Bloomberg reported:

President Donald Trump personally ordered the Department of Justice to hire a former White House official who departed after he was caught up in a controversy over the release of intelligence material to a member of Congress, according to people familiar with the matter.

Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who was forced out of the National Security Council last year, will advise Attorney General Jeff Sessions on national security matters. He left the White House in August for a job at Oracle Corp. following reports that he had shown House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes classified documents.

The Trump administration is considering a plan that would allow states to require certain food stamp recipients to undergo drug testing, handing a win to conservatives who’ve long sought ways to curb the safety net program.

  • Trump judicial nominee Wendy Vitter drew controversy.

  • In a letter to Senator Ron Wyden (R-OR), the NRA disclosed that they have received donations from 23 Russians. This came after Steven Hart, an outside counsel for the NRA, previously stated they only received one Russian donation. Speaking of the NRA, Clapback of the week goes to Rantt’s Managing Editor Remy Anne.

  • President Trump hosted Republican leaders at the White House.

Thursday, April 12

More Hush Money

President Donald Trump arrives at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla. — Friday, March 2, 2018 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump arrives at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla. — Friday, March 2, 2018 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The drip, drip, drip of salacious details about President Trump continued. We learned that the National Enquirer, who the Federal Election Commission is investigating for allegedly paying Karen McDougal $150,000 for a story about her affair with Donald Trump which they never published, paid for another story.

$30,000 is a hefty price for a simple rumor…

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Meanwhile…

  • President Trump continued to take to Twitter.

  • We learned more details about what was reportedly seized in the Cohen raids.

  • The White House prepared to undermine Rosenstein.

The nation’s intelligence chiefs had just finished briefing Donald Trump on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election when FBI Director James B. Comey stayed behind to discuss some especially sensitive material: a “widely circulated” intelligence dossier containing unconfirmed allegations that Russians had filmed Trump interacting with prostitutes in Moscow in 2013.

The president-elect quickly interrupted the FBI director. According to Comey’s account in a new memoir, Trump “strongly denied the allegations, asking — rhetorically, I assumed — whether he seemed like a guy who needed the service of prostitutes. He then began discussing cases where women had accused him of sexual assault, a subject I had not raised. He mentioned a number of women, and seemed to have memorized their allegations.”

Saying it had achieved all that it could with a walkout, Oklahoma’s largest teachers’ union on Thursday called for educators to return to the classroom and to shift their efforts to supporting candidates in the fall elections who favor increased education spending.

At a news conference, Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, characterized the nine-day walkout as “a victory for teachers,” even as it fell short of its goals.

In a deep-red state that has pursued tax and service cuts for years, teachers won a raise of about $6,000, depending on experience, while members of schools’ support staff will see a raise of $1,250.

  • The Washington Post reported that Steve Bannon is trying to push for Robert Mueller to be fired.
  • The Trump administration is reportedly trying to reenter the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

  • The FCC Chairman declined a request for an investigation into Sinclair Broadcast Group on Thursday.

  • During his confirmation hearing, Secretary of State nominee, and current-CIA Director, Mike Pompeo confirmed that he has been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
  • The Los Angeles Times reported:

Judges on a federal appeals court panel Thursday appeared hesitant to overrule President Trump and install the deputy director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as the agency’s temporary leader.

But two of the three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit indicated they had a problem with the person Trump selected to take the position, Mick Mulvaney, because he also heads the White House Office of Management and Budget. The 2010 law that created the bureau as an independent federal agency specifically said OMB should not have oversight or jurisdiction over it.

  • President Trump ordered a review of the U.S. Postal Service which was a not so subtle attempt to hurt Amazon.

  • Another example of why it’s not a great idea to arm teachers.

Friday, April 13

Oh Lordy There Are Tapes, A Syria Strike, Attacks On Comey, And A Pardon

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington — Tuesday, March 13, 2018 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington — Tuesday, March 13, 2018 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

I made the title of this day a bit discombobulating because that’s what this day felt like. The only way to tell the story of this day is to start at the beginning.

President Trump started Friday off with Twitter tantrums targeted at Comey.

Asha is right. President Trump called Comey a leaker and liar and pardoned Scooter Libby for doing just that. The New York Times reported:

The statement came on Friday when the president granted a full pardon to I. Lewis Libby Jr., who was Mr. Cheney’s top adviser before he was convicted in 2007 of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with the disclosure of the identity of a C.I.A. officer, Valerie Plame. Mr. Libby, the president declared, had not received justice.

As if this day wasn’t wild enough, more Comey excerpts were released.

As this was happening, Rosenstein was reportedly preparing for what he saw as a likely firing.

Later in the day, President Trump took aim at Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe (who Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired less than two days before his retirement) after the Inspector General report was released about his conduct.

The New York Times reported:

A major donor with close ties to the White House resigned on Friday as deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee after the revelation that he had agreed to pay $1.6 million to a former Playboy model who became pregnant during an affair.

The deal was arranged in the final months of 2017 by President Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen.

Under the terms of the deal, the Republican donor, Elliott Broidy, would pay the woman in installments over the course of two years, and she would agree to stay silent about their relationship, two people with knowledge of the arrangement told The New York Times. The deal was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Before anyone could digest this, The New York Times reported on how startled the Michael Cohen investigation is making President Trump.

This is because it’s a far harder investigation for him to obstruct than the Russia investigation. If he fired Rosenstein and Mueller, it would still go on.

Then, McClatchy DC reported on Michael Cohen’s alleged trip to Prague.

We also learned of a potentially damning revelation, if true of course. Buzzfeed News reported:

A former Russian spy helped Donald Trump’s business team seek financing for a Trump-branded tower in the heart of Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

This connection between Trump and Russian intelligence — made public here for the first time — is known to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and raises fresh questions about the president’s connections to the Kremlin. The former agent, who had served in Russia’s military intelligence arm known as the GRU and later worked as an arms dealer, negotiated for financing from a Russian state-owned bank that was under US sanctions at the time.

It’s also worth noting that Michael Cohen and longtime Trump associate Felix Sater worked on this deal.

And then, this bombshell.

At this point, the news day was already out of hand.

Then, it became clear a strike on Syria was imminent.

President Trump announced a strike on Syria, and the Pentagon later confirmed it was on three targets, that harmed Assad’s chemical weapons capability.

Over the weekend…

President Trump proclaimed “Mission Accomplished!” in Syria…

He clearly hasn’t learned a thing from history.

On Sunday, President Trump clearly didn’t get the memo that Sunday is a day for prayer.

Meanwhile…

  • Two black men were arrested for waiting for their friends at a Starbucks…

Unpresidented // Donald Trump / Government / Journalism / Politics