Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 2/4/2020

With impeachment ending I’ll be resuming my normal digest updates. Some quick stories to catch up here.

  • Per a recent book from Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, Trump attacked several top military leaders as “dopes and babies” for disagreeing with his Afghanistan policy. Trump was angry that the United States had not yet taken Afghanistan’s oil. He’s frequently expressed a desire to take oil from countries we have invaded. Doing so would explicitly be a war crime under multiple treaties. In the same book, a meeting is detailed where the president threw a tantrum when his campaign advisers sought to have him issue a retraction of his birtherism. Trump was furious and wanted to release a statement reaffirming the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.
  • Six countries have been added to Trump’s travel ban. Of particular note, Nigeria not only has the largest black population of any country in the world, Nigerian immigrants in the US are more educated than those from any other country. At least they were. Now they aren’t allowed to come here.

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Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 1/16/2020

Rachel Maddow concluded her two part interview with Lev Parnas tonight. I will not be including it here. I need to get my notes (pages!) sorted out and will be making a separate entry solely on the interview and the last two Parnas data dumps.

  • The Government Accountability Office released a finding today that withholding Ukraine’s aid package was illegal. The memo places the blame on the president. Their concluding paragraph stated alarm at the refusal of the White House to cooperate with their inquiry.
  • I am normally skeptical of books with insider perspectives from the White House, but Philip Ruicker and Carol Leonnig are highly credible in my opinion. Their new book claims that Trump did not understand the significance of Pearl Harbor, that Trump interrupted an interview with a Secretary of State candidate to ask when he could meet Putin, that Trump wanted Tillerson to help him get rid of the law which prevents US businesses from bribing foreign governments (Trump has publicly said in the past that US businesses should be able to offer such bribes), that Trump suspected that Colbie Holderness (assaulted by White House staffer Rob Porter) may have “purposefully ran into a refrigerator to give herself bruises and try to get money out of Porter,” and that Trump told the Prime Minister of India that his country did not share a border with China. India’s border with China is 2,520 miles long, the 9th longest international border in the world.

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Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 1/8/2020

  • As tensions between Iraq and the US increase, both Russia and China are working to replace the military presence in Iraq.
  • The Saudi foreign minister had a meeting with the president in the Oval Office. This meeting was announced by the Saudis with no notification from the United States. (This is not normal, but Trump did the same thing when he met Russian foreign minister Lavrov.) Khalid bin Salman is the man who asked Jamal Khashoggi to come to the Saudi embassy where he was murdered by the Saudi government. Trump has never blamed them nor called for them to face any accountability. He is now meeting in the Oval Office with a man who helped murder a US resident.
  • Trump’s claim that the Pentagon had given him a list of 52 Iranian target sites, including cultural sites, was a blatant lie.
  • During his address about the Iranian missile strikes, Trump mentioned the need for an international coalition to come together to work on a treaty to prevent Iran from securing nuclear arms. The JPCOA Obama signed did exactly that. Trump withdrew the United States from it which many analysts predicted would lead to increased hostilities in the region. The analysts were correct.
  • I’m not going into much on the strike itself as it has been extensively covered in the last 24 hours. But I will say Iran has a long history of acting through proxies and taking their time with retaliation. This is absolutely not the last action they will be taking in response to the assassination.
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Trump Daily 1/6/2020

  • Jason Leopold (Buzzfeed) posted a thread about a few government agencies reaction to Trump’s Tweets. The NSA was instructed not to get involved into the drama. The CIA responded to one of Trump’s Tweets about North Korea, but that response is entirely redacted. These agencies take Trump’s Tweeting very seriously. The Department of Justice has frequently argued in court that Trump’s Tweets are not serious and shouldn’t be viewed as such. That isn’t the stance taken by our own government.
  • CBP yesterday publicly denied that anything had changed in the treatment of Iranian-Americans re-entering the country. However, since the Suleimani assassination, more than sixty Iranian-Americans have been detained in Washington alone while returning to the U.S. The extra questions included asking about political stances and allegiance to the United States.
  • In a rather bizarre experience, Congressman Timmons (he replaced Trey Gowdy in South Carolina) asked a question about impeachment and posted his personal cell phone number. I texted him with the information he asked about. Surprisingly, he responded and we had a cordial disagreement. His Tweet was complaining that the House investigation was partisan and the vote against impeachment was bipartisan. He said these things had not happened before. He’s wrong. Each vote against Clinton had bipartisan support. He eventually told me he meant to refer to the vote FOR impeachment instead of the vote against it. An entire five Democrats voted for the two passed impeachment articles against Clinton. His point, poorly phrased, was that no Republicans voted to impeach Trump. The problem here is that the Republican who said he’d vote to impeach was kicked out of the Republican party. If five Democratic votes for impeaching Clinton made it bipartisan, then Justin Amash voting for impeaching Trump makes it bipartisan.

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Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 1/5/2020

  • The evidence that Suleimani was planning an imminent attack on the US is “razor thin” according to reporting from Rukmini Callimachi. This echoes what the few congressmen who have spoken on the matter have said.
  • Trump tweeted that if Iran retaliates, the United States will target 52 sites in Iran which represent the 52 hostages Iran took in 1979. Several of those hostages and their family members have expressed anger at being invoked this way. He said these sites will include cultural targets. Targeting cultural sites is explicitly against both US and international law. The president is again openly saying he wants to commit war crimes, as he did on the campaign trail. Mike Pompeo appeared on all five Sunday news shows and either ignored the comments or flatly said Trump had not said we would target cultural sites. Pompeo lied. Later in the day, Trump told the press on Air Force One that “it doesn’t work that way” in reference to not being able to target cultural sites.
  • In the same Air Force One press spray, Trump said that if Iraq forces the United States to leave their country, he will put sanctions on them which are larger than those on Iran. He will also insist they “pay us back” for the military bases the US built there after invading Iraq in 2003. The president thinks the military bases in Iraq are a transaction the Iraqis owe the United States for.

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Trump Daily 1/4/2020

  • Lawyers today for the Department of Justice argued the Judicial Branch cannot intervene in any disputes between the Executive and Legislative branches. The Trump administration has long been using an inversion of the concept of separation of powers – that they don’t have to comply with congress and the courts can’t do anything about it. This is all in an attempt to prevent Don McGahn from testifying about the time Trump told him to falsify documents regarding firing Robert Mueller.
  • The president retweeted a Dinesh D’Souza tweet (a convicted felon) saying Democrats in congress were not informed of the Iraq strike for the same reason the Iranians were not, ie Democrats are traitors who would have leaked the information. As childish as this attack is, Republicans weren’t informed either.
  • In a long thread detailing some of the horrendous actions undertaken by Soliemani, Mike Pence linked him to the 9/11 attacks saying he helped transport “10 of the 12 terrorists.” Pence’s press secretary tried to revise the numbers but the larger problem is that the 9/11 Commission concluded that neither Iran nor Hezbollah had any idea the attack was coming. It also makes no sense to tie Soliemani to the hijackers crossing Iran. Not only is Al-Qaeda a long term enemy of Iran, but Soliemani was already appointed to run Quds Force at the time. He wouldn’t have been involved in Saudis crossing Iran, which was common.
  • The White House is blocking the release of 20 emails between a Mick Mulvaney aide and someone at the Office of Management and Budget. These emails detail the Ukraine aid hold. The New York Times will be challenging this in court and, in my opinion, will likely succeed.
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Trump Daily 1/2/2019

  • Just Security has seen unredacted emails from a previous FOIA request. The unredacted versions make several things clear. Trump was behind the hold on Ukrainian funding. The Pentagon was advising the White House that withholding the funds was likely illegal under the Impoundment Control Act. The White House never offered a reason for the delay. These emails were withheld from the House of Representatives. It is clear now there was no legal justification for doing so, which is part of the second impeachment article.
  • The third wave of FOIA’d documents from the Mueller investigation has been published. Of particular note, Ike Kaveladze told Mueller that Donald Trump Jr. specifically asked about dirt on Clinton during the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russian government assets.
  • Trump is considering pardoning ANOTHER convicted war criminal. Nick Slatten was convicted of murder for his part in Blackwater’s Nisour Square Massacre in Baghdad. 17 civilians were killed with 20 more wounded.
  • The United States assassinated Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. He ran the Quds Force in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Soleimani was responsible for Iranian actions, including terrorist attacks, throughout the entire region. Both the Pentagon and the White House misnamed the IRGC, replacing “Islamic” with “Iranian.” The president’s only statement was to tweet out an American flag. It does not appear anyone in congress was notified beforehand.
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