Sorry for the late update. It’s been a slower news cycle than normal re: the president.
- The Pentagon has announced they will not be investigating Lt. Col. Vindman as the president wanted them to do. This is likely because he didn’t do anything wrong.
- Mike Pompeo met with his Russian counterpart, Lavrov, in Munich last week. This is typical. What’s not typical is that we found out about this meeting from the Russians. The US government didn’t disclose it. We have frequently found out about meetings between Trump’s White House and Russia from Russia.
- Trump quoted a column comparing him to a king which said he’d be campaigning on “grievance, persecution, and resentment.” The president views this as a positive description.
- Despite AG Barr publicly warning him to stop, the president has continued to attack the judge overseeing Roger Stone’s trial.
- Trump granted clemency through pardons or commutations to eleven people this week. Aside from two drug convictions, these were all people convicted of corruption, bribery, or fraud. Several of them have direct ties to Trump or his associates. Of particular note is ex-governor Rod Blagojevich who went to prison after attempting to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. The president said Blagojevich went to prison “over a phone call where nothing happens.” This echoes Trump’s claims that he was impeached over a “perfect call.” That phone call caught the governor talking about the need to solicit something of value to him in exchange for Obama’s seat.
- Julian Assange has alleged at his trial that former Congressman Dana Rohrabacher told him if he said that someone other than Russia provided him with the stolen DNC emails that Trump would pardon him. Assange represented that Rohrabacher claimed to be acting at the direction of the president. Both the White House and Rohrabacher have denied this. (Personal note – I believe the White House here) Oddly, in posting his statement, Rohrabacher used a Seth Rich hashtag. He apparently believes the conspiracy theory that Rich leaked the emails and was murdered by Hillary Clinton to cover it up. The president supports this conspiracy theory.
- No nominee was named to the post of Director of National Intelligence since Dan Coats resigned in August. Since then we have had an acting DNI with a time limit on his tenure. That limit is now up. Trump has used acting directors for several key positions as a way to avoid the Senate confirmation process. This is a blatant abuse to skirt the law, but the Republicans in the Senate allow it to continue. Our new acting DNI will be Richard Grenell. There are several controversies attached to Grenell, but what jumps out here is that Grenell has ZERO intelligence experience. He is not resigning his ambassadorship so he will be the full time ambassador to Germany while he simultaneously oversees SEVENTEEN US intelligence agencies. Lev Parnas has publicly stated Grenell agreed to let Dmitry Firtash know if the US planned to extradite him for trial in the US.
- The Pentagon’s undersecretary for policy, John Rood, has been fired. Rood sent an email expressing concern that Trump’s hold on Ukraine military aid was illegal. He joins a long list of people Trump has retaliated against.
- In a private speech, Mick Mulvaney was recorded saying Republicans only care about deficits when Democrats hold the White House. He lied and said Democrats didn’t subpoena Rudy Giuliani. They did. Giuliani ignored it. He spoke several times about the fictitious “deep state” and lamented that it wasn’t easier to fire career employees who do not share the president’s agenda. He said he hoped the Trump admin is known for proving that supply side economics work. The Republican form of supply side economics has been repeatedly disproven for decades.