We are 86 weeks, over 600 days, into Donald Trump’s presidency. This news cycle keeps us deep in the weeds so let’s take a holistic view of things.
President Trump is plagued by multiple federal investigations and lawsuits.
- Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference.
- The Southern District of New York’s investigation into Trump’s former lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen
- The Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into the Trump Organization
- The New York Attorney General’s investigation into the Trump Foundation
- Emoluments clause lawsuits
- Stormy Daniels and Summer Zervos lawsuits
All five of Trump’s associates who have been charged with crimes during his presidency have now pleaded guilty and cooperated with federal investigators. Michael Cohen’s guilty plea implicated Trump in two campaign finance felonies.
Trump’s scandals go far beyond these investigations. The Trump administration separated thousands of migrant children from their parents at the southern border and still have yet to reunite 400 of them. They also have 12,800 migrant children currently in custody and are reportedly planning for indefinite internment.
Now, the President of the United States is openly trying to erase the deaths that were caused by Hurricane Maria in and government negligence in Puerto Rico, which were estimated to be 2,975 total. This is just one of the over 5,000 lies President Trump has told, according to The Washington Post.
From his capitulation to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki to his continued attacks on the Mueller’s investigation, President Trump is doing himself no favors when it comes to the well-evidenced possibility that he may have conspired with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election. In fact, polling indicates it’s making him appear more guilty.
There is also Bob Woodward’s book FEAR and the anonymous New York Times op-ed from a Trump administration official that corroborated Woodward’s reporting. Both depict an amoral president who is in over his head and unfit to lead.
And now, Donald Trump, a president who is already implicated in two felonies and is also an alleged sexual predator, is pushing for the appointment of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a judge who stands credibly accused of sexual assault and believes the president should be above the law.
All of this is bearing down on President Trump’s approval ratings as Americans are gearing up for the midterms.
This week, with Paul Manafort’s plea agreement, things just got significantly worse for not only President Trump but his son as well.
Day 599: Monday, September 10
White House Paranoia
Vice President Mike Pence spent the weekend trying to push back on the narrative Bob Woodward, and the anonymous op-ed writer have depicted. On the Sunday shows, Pence also stated that he would take a lie-detector test to prove that he is not the “White House resistance” op-ed writer. This came after Trump officials released statements admonishing the writer of the op-ed and denying any part in its creation.
None of these denials have appeared to assuage President Trump’s paranoia. CNN reported that the Trump administration further restricted cell phone use in the White House partly in response to Omarosa Manigault Newman’s recordings.
President Trump’s frustration with how he’s being depicted bled onto Twitter:
The Woodward book is a Joke – just another assault against me, in a barrage of assaults, using now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources. Many have already come forward to say the quotes by them, like the book, are fiction. Dems can’t stand losing. I’ll write the real book!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2018
With every impulsive tweet, President Trump actually confirms the allegations made in Woodward’s book.
In other news…
- NBC News: Sessions defends ‘zero tolerance’ border policy, new asylum restrictions
- Axios: Trump expected to declassify Carter Page and Bruce Ohr documents
- The Washington Post: U.S. to close Palestinian office in Washington, citing lack of progress on peace process with Israel
- The New York Times: C.I.A. Drone Mission, Curtailed by Obama, Is Expanded in Africa Under Trump
- ABC News: Trump campaign members were ‘fully aware’ of efforts to set Putin meeting: Papadopoulos
- CNN: Trump seeks to move past Stormy Daniels lawsuit, says 2016 deal was never valid
- The New York Times: Trump Administration Discussed Coup Plans With Rebel Venezuelan Officers
Day 600: Tuesday, September 11
Manafort In Talks
The Washington Post reported that Trump’s former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort has renewed talks with Special Counsel Robert Mueller about a possible plea deal. This comes after The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Paul Manafort held talks with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team seeking a plea deal while the jury was deliberating in his Virginia trial, ahead of his upcoming trial in Washington DC. The talks didn’t continue over concerns that Mueller broached. Those concerns have yet to be publicly revealed. It appears they’re back on. This presented further evidence that Manafort might be showing a willingness to cooperate with prosecutors. And as we saw later in the week, it was confirmed.
In other news…
- The Washington Post: On Sept. 11 anniversary, Trump launches fresh attacks on FBI and Justice Department with dubious allegation
- The New York Times: Trump Administration Wants to Make It Easier to Release Methane Into Air
- ABC News: Trump only trusts ‘much smaller’ group of aides in White House after op-ed, Donald Trump Jr. says
- ABC News: Trump: Storm response in Puerto Rico ‘incredibly successful’
President Trump: “…It was one of the best jobs that has ever been done…Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success.”
Reality: In Hurricane Maria’s aftermath, Puerto Rico was neglected. The death toll is estimated to be 2,975 (official toll was 64).https://t.co/34gOhZPJ8o
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) September 11, 2018
- President Trump also raised some eyebrows with his enthusiasm over 9/11.
This is a totally sane, empathetic way to walk into a memorial for those we lost on the most horrific day in American history. https://t.co/qgaU98ydxS
— Cassie Dagostino (@casatino) September 11, 2018
Day 601: Wednesday, September 12
The Lede: The New York Times reported that there are 12,800 unaccompanied migrant children in the Trump administration’s custody. This is up from the 2,400 in May of 2017. The highest levels ever. This high level of migrant children in custody is due to the fact the Trump administration is reducing the number of children that they are releasing to adoptive families. Nearly 500 of those children are in custody as a result of President Trump’s separation of undocumented immigrant families who crossed the southern border.
This news comes after last week’s report from The Washington Post that indicated Trump’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) look set to circumvent the Flores settlement. This settlement ruled that children must not be detained for more than 20 days. The Trump administration appears to be looking to move forward with their plans to indefinitely detain tens of thousands of migrants on American soil. Of the children detained, most are in federally contracted shelters, but some are in temporary “tent cities.”
The Context: ProPublica released a piece of incredible journalism that analyzed 70 of the 100 immigrant youth shelters that are federally contracted and run by the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. The shelters hold these 12,800 unaccompanied minors, with last year marking the number of kids younger than 13 at 17% of that total. ProPublica obtained more than 1,000 pages of police reports and call logs, which detail hundreds of reports of sexual abuse, fights, and missing children dating back to 2014.
Immigration advocates have noted that the Trump administration’s immigration policies have added increased pressure on these already understaffed shelters, likely making the environment even worse. President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy exacerbated this humanitarian crisis. It was engineered by President Trump and White House Adviser Stephen Miller, implemented by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and executed by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. It resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents at the border. President Trump was forced by public pressure to end this policy, and court rulings forced him to reunite these families, but he has yet to comply with those rulings.
The deadline to reunite the almost 3,000 immigrant children that remained separated from their parents was on July 26th. Since the Trump administration had no plan for reunification once they separated the children, they failed to meet that deadline. There are still nearly 500 children separated from their families, due to families they’ve deemed “ineligible” for reunification, either because they had suspicions about the parents or they could not locate them. There have also been more than 400 parents of the separated children deported. These are people who are fleeing violence in their home countries. Many of which were seeking asylum in the United States legally, only to be detained and have their children taken from them.
The Analysis: President Trump has repeatedly called for the end of immigrants’ due process rights at the border, all while his “denaturalization task force” takes aim at immigrants already residing in the U.S. And now, the Trump administration is reportedly discharging immigrants who are fighting for our country in the U.S. military.
There are countless questions to be answered, hundreds of families to be reunited, thousands of children to be placed with adoptive families, and multiple reports of abuse that must be addressed. There must be hearings on the Trump administration’s immigration policies. And the media needs to shine a light on this once again, because the public needs to know what is going on in these facilities. The psychological damage these children must be facing is unspeakable.
We will effectively have large migrant internment camps around the U.S. if this administration is not properly pressured to end the pursuit of this depraved policy. The Washington Post has created an interactive map in an effort to crowdsource the current location of some of the children who are currently separated. Journalists should pay some of these locations a visit.
In other news…
- Rantt Media: With The Stabbing Of Brazil’s Trump-like Candidate, The Election Takes A Nasty Turn
- Rantt Media: Watch Bill Nye Expertly Explain How Climate Change Strengthened Hurricane Florence
- ABC News: Trump calls San Juan mayor ‘totally incompetent’ amid flap over Hurricane Maria
This is deplorable
Trump says he did a great job in Puerto Rico & calls Mayor @CarmenYulinCruz incompetent
After Hurricane Maria, Trump attacked Mayor Cruz & said they want everything done for them
His admin neglected these Americans
2,975 people diedhttps://t.co/34gOhZPJ8o
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) September 12, 2018
- MSBNC’s Rachel Maddow: Trump admin moved millions of dollars from FEMA to ICE ahead of 2018 hurricane season
- Buzzfeed News: A Series Of Suspicious Money Transfers Followed The Trump Tower Meeting
- Reuters: Exclusive: Trump to target foreign meddling in U.S. elections with sanctions order
Day 602: Thursday, September 13
Ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Diane Feinstein (D-CA) referred a letter she had received about Brett Kavanaugh to the Justice Department. There was a lot of mystery as to what was contained in the letter. It turned out to be a sexual assault allegation against the Supreme Court nominee.
Since I’m writing this after she has already come forward, I’ll include the developments that occurred over the weekend here. Professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward as the accuser, revealing the details of the alleged assault as well as the fact she took a lie-detector test administered by a former FBI agent, and passed. I’ll let her speak for herself:
Ford said that on the night of the party, she left the family room to use the bathroom, which was at the top of a narrow stairway. She doesn’t remember whether Kavanaugh and Judge were behind her or already upstairs, but she remembers being pushed into a bedroom and then onto a bed. Rock-and-roll music was playing with the volume turned up high, she said.
She alleges that Kavanaugh — who played football and basketball at Georgetown Prep — held her down with the weight of his body and fumbled with her clothes, seemingly hindered by his intoxication. Judge stood across the room, she said, and both boys were laughing “maniacally.” She said she yelled, hoping that someone downstairs would hear her over the music, and Kavanaugh clapped his hand over her mouth to silence her.
The White House stood by Kavanaugh in defense, and so did the Senate Judiciary Committee.
And they punctuated the statement with bullet points full of women praising Kavanaugh.
Just because some women are claiming Kavanaugh is a great guy, that doesn’t detract from his alleged assault of Christine Blasey Ford.
It just means he didn’t assault every woman in his life. https://t.co/2DPGOz8taE
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) September 16, 2018
Getting 65 women to say nice things is the congressional equivalent of turning up the music to cover up her screams
— Madison Anderson (@madisonm_a) September 17, 2018
This is huge if he stands by it. https://t.co/qDms2VsdPs
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) September 16, 2018
Needless to say, this has a high chance of postponing the committee vote this coming week.
In other news…
- The Washington Post: President Trump has made more than 5,000 false or misleading claims
- NBC News: DHS transferred $169 million from other programs to ICE for migrant detention
- Politico: Trump’s FEMA chief under investigation over use of official cars
- The New York Times: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Easily Defeats Cynthia Nixon in New York Primary
- The New York Times: Democratic Insurgents Topple 6 New York Senate Incumbents
- CNN: Trump falsely claims nearly 3,000 Americans in Puerto Rico ‘did not die‘
Trump says 2,975 people didn’t die in Puerto Rico & falsely claims Dems made up deaths…
1) The Death toll was estimated by GW & accepted as official
2) Trump was negligent in the storm’s aftermath
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) September 13, 2018
Day 603: Friday, September 14
The Lede: At 12:11 pm, September 14th, yet another shockwave was sent through Washington, and surely, through the Oval Office. The President’s former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort told a federal judge “I plead guilty.” One of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s longtime objectives in his investigation has long been to flip Paul Manafort into a cooperating witness. This has also been one of President Trump’s greatest fears. It just happened.
Paul Manafort has pleaded guilty to 1 count of conspiracy against the United States (money laundering, working as an unregistered foreign agent, and lying to investigators) and 1 count of obstruction of justice (witness tampering). Manafort did not contest the other five counts against him. All were set to be tried in court in D.C. on September 24th. That is no longer necessary.
As part of this plea agreement (which you can read in full here), Manafort has agreed to waive his right to have his counsel present during his future interviews with Robert Mueller. Manafort must provide all the information that the Special Counsel asks for. Manafort must also forfeit $46 million in assets to the government.
In his Virginia trial last month, Manafort was found guilty on 8 counts (5 tax fraud, 2 bank fraud, and 1 of hiding foreign accounts), with verdicts unable to be reached for the remaining 10 counts. Andrew Weissmann, a federal prosecutor on Mueller’s team, said that other charges may be dropped at sentencing or “or at the agreement of successful cooperation.” Manafort faces potentially 10 years as part of this plea agreement. He is 69 years old.
Manafort is the fifth Trump associate to plead guilty to felony charges during the Trump presidency. Trump’s former personal lawyer/fixer (and RNC deputy finance chair) Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to 8 counts that include bank fraud, tax fraud, and campaign finance violations (2 campaign finance counts implicate President Trump). Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn, former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, and former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, also pleaded guilty to felony charges. All of them secured cooperating agreements with federal investigators.
Manafort’s cooperation could yield Mueller the most important information yet when it comes to President Trump’s potential conspiracy with the Russian government to win the 2016 election. Manafort is the first Trump associate to flip who was inside the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian operatives.
The Context (What Manafort Knows): Paul Manafort was originally forced out of the Trump campaign after reports of his foreign ties began to overwhelm Trump in late 2016. He worked on the campaign as an unregistered foreign agent. He finally registered in June 2017, but it was too late.
In November 2017, Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates were slapped with a 31-page, 12-count indictment. Those counts included laundering $18 million of the $75 million they made acting as unregistered foreign agents while lobbying on behalf of the Government of Ukraine between 2006–2016 and making false statements to the Justice Department. Both Manafort and Gates pleaded “Not Guilty” at the time. Gates later pleaded guilty and began cooperating with Mueller. Even after his subsequent superseding indictment, a Manafort plea deal remained elusive.
We’ve since learned that Paul Manafort was wiretapped via FISA surveillance in 2014 as part of an investigation into Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych. It was discontinued and then reinstated in 2016 after investigators caught a series of odd connections between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. The surveillance reportedly continued into early 2017 and involved conversations with Donald Trump. Intelligence gathered reportedly “includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign.”
It’s been reported that two weeks before Trump accepted the GOP nomination, Paul Manafort offered “private briefings” on the state of the 2016 election to Russian Oligarch, and close Putin ally, Oleg Deripaska (who also has ties to Kilimnik). Manafort reportedly met twice with Kilimnik during the 2016 campaign. A Kiev operative suggested that Kilimnik may have played a role in the Trump campaign’s gutting of anti-Russian stances from the Republican Party platform. Kilimnik also sent emails regarding Deripaska, and they met in August to speak on it.
Manafort began his work as a lobbyist and political consultant for Yanukovych in 2004 upon the advice of Deripaska. Manafort also reportedly had a $10 million a year contract with Oleg Deripaska. The contract was part of a plan to assert pro-Russia influence in U.S. politics and lasted from 2006–2009. Paul Manafort moved into Trump Tower in 2006. Before this, Manafort innovated what we now know as modern lobbying with Roger Stone. Who knew that the industry he helped build would bring him down?
Manafort’s involvement in the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting with Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., Natalia Veselnitskaya (a Russian lawyer and self-described informant), and Russian operatives is also of interest to Mueller. We now know the meeting was in an effort to obtain damaging information on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government, admitted by Trump himself and Rudy Giuliani.
Investigators are reportedly reviewing Manafort’s notes of the meeting which “contained the words ‘donations,’ and ‘RNC’ in close proximity.” According to NBC News, congressional investigators who are examining the meeting are “focused on determining whether it included any discussion of donations from Russian sources to either the Trump campaign or the Republican Party.”
Federal law, Section 30121 of Title 52, states that it is a crime for a foreign national to contribute money or other items of value to an American.
The Analysis: This is of great benefit to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and great detriment to Donald Trump. Manafort can shed light on his involvement in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, role in adding pro-Russia policies to the Republican platform, and the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian operatives. The jeopardy this puts President Trump in goes beyond what Mueller may find. Now, not only are legal experts arguing that Manafort is pardon-proof, Trump is in a political bind:
It is truly amazing how thoroughly Mueller has boxed Trump in. Pardon a guilty man, he looks guilty. Shut down an investigation that has convicted so many, he looks guilty. A political disaster if he moves against Sessions and Rosenstein.
— Adam (@aalali44) September 14, 2018
As we know, Mueller has indicted 25 Russians (13 Russian entities were indicted earlier this year for their propaganda campaign, and 12 Russian intelligence officers (GRU) were indicted for hacking the DNC, DCCC, and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign during the 2016 election and leaking through DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0).
What appears to be next are their potential American co-conspirators. With Flynn likely still cooperating, Manafort freshly flipped, Roger Stone in Mueller’s sights, and Mueller’s reports on conspiracy and potential obstruction of justice incoming, things will only get more interesting from here.
In other news…