We Resist: Day 28

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One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

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Here are some things I've read today:

James Risen and Matthew Rosenberg at the New York Times: White House Plans to Have Trump Ally Review Intelligence Agencies.
President Trump plans to assign a New York billionaire to lead a broad review of American intelligence agencies, according to administration officials, an effort that members of the intelligence community fear could curtail their independence and reduce the flow of information that contradicts the president's worldview.

The possible role for Stephen A. Feinberg, a co-founder of Cerberus Capital Management, has met fierce resistance among intelligence officials already on edge because of the criticism the intelligence community has received from Mr. Trump during the campaign and since he became president. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump blamed leaks from the intelligence community for the departure of Michael T. Flynn, his national security adviser, whose resignation he requested.
So, so not good. And also not surprising, given that Trump and his surrogates have long said that he will replace the intelligence community with "his own people." This farce will merely serve as the justification for that purge.

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Kurt Eichenwald at Newsweek: U.S. Allies Conduct Intelligence Operation Against Trump Staff and Associates, Intercepted Communications. "As part of intelligence operations being conducted against the United States for the last seven months, at least one Western European ally intercepted a series of communications before the inauguration between advisers associated with President Donald Trump and Russian government officials, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation. ...The sources said the intercepted communications are not just limited to telephone calls: The foreign agency is also gathering electronic and human source information on Trump's overseas business partners, at least some of whom the intelligence services now consider to be agents of their respective governments. These operations are being conducted out of concerns that Russia is seeking to manipulate its relationships with Trump administration officials as part of a long-term plan to destabilize the NATO alliance."

Luke Harding, Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Nick Hopkins, and David Smith at the Guardian: Deutsche Bank Examined Donald Trump's Account for Russia Links. Under this anodyne headline is some major information. [My thanks to Aphra_Behn for helping with the research on this.]
The scandal-hit bank that loaned hundreds of millions of dollars to Donald Trump has conducted a close internal examination of the US president's personal account to gauge whether there are any suspicious connections to Russia, the Guardian has learned.

...The internal review found no evidence of any Russia link, but Deutsche Bank is coming under pressure to appoint an external and independent auditor to review its business relationship with President Trump.
Deutsche Bank is "currently undergoing scrutiny by the Department of Justice for alleged misconduct," so here is a very important question about this "internal review" which supposedly found no evidence of Trump's loans having connections to Russia: How can we be sure that this isn't a story placed by Deutsche Bank to help out Trump, in exchange for him helping them out? They say publicly they found no ties to Russia; he gives them a better deal on their fraud investigation.

Meanwhile, see the Eichenwald story just above, in which an unnamed nation is gathering intel on Trump's international business partners, "at least some of whom the intelligence services now consider to be agents of their respective governments."

It's pretty clear why Trump still has not released his taxes, or allowed any of his financial or business records to be subjected to public scrutiny.

Further, see the first item in this thread, regarding Trump appointing his pal Stephen Feinberg, a billionaire financier with no intelligence experience, to oversee "a broad review of American intelligence agencies." Which would presumably entail giving Feinberg high-level security clearances and access to classified information.

Right as the U.S. intelligence community (as well as foreign intelligence services) are closing in on Trump's crooked business dealings, he appoints his billionaire businessman friend to investigate the intelligence community, who have reportedly stopped sharing intel with Trump.

He positions his friend to get access to information on investigations into his own business dealings, and further empowers him to conclude that the intelligence community must be purged.

Got all that?

Further, the Guardian piece reveals: "According to an analysis by Bloomberg, Trump now owes Deutsche around $300m. He has four large mortgages, all issued by Deutsche's private bank. The loans are guaranteed against the president's properties: a new deluxe hotel in Washington DC's old Post Office building, just round the corner from the White House; his Chicago tower hotel; and the Trump National Doral Miami resort."

Except: There's a mistake there. Trump leases the Post Office. He cannot take out a mortgage on it. What he has is a loan that he "personally guaranteed."

A personal guarantee means no collateral. And if the loan goes south, then the lender can seize assets. But if Trump's got mortgages against his other assets, that means he's got nothing. No equity to seize. It's a shell game.

The intelligence community is onto him. Perhaps it wasn't such a wise idea for Trump to wage a discrediting campaign against them for months on end.

Which, of course, he continues to wage, saying just this morning "that leakers within his administration will 'pay a big price' for passing information to the press."

Fucking hell.

It's now a race to see whether the intelligence community can bring down our deeply corrupt and possibly compromised president before he purges them. They'd better make haste, because they need to win this war.

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[CN: Video may autoplay at link] In other news, not only is there a Russian spy ship lingering off the East Coast, but Luis Martinez reports at ABC News that: "Russia has secretly deployed a new cruise missile in the country, a move a U.S. official labels an apparent violation of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed in 1987" and "On Feb. 10 the Navy destroyer USS Porter noted three 'unsafe and unprofessional' encounters with Russian military aircraft while in the Black Sea. In each of the incidents Russian aircraft approached the destroyer at an unspecified 'low altitude,' and some were at 'high speed,' according to the Pentagon."

Everything is fine. *jumps into Christmas tree*

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Irina Reznik, Stepan Kravchenko, and Ilya Arkhipov at Bloomberg: Kremlin Tells Media to Cut Back on Fawning Trump Coverage, Sources Say. "The Kremlin ordered state media to cut way back on their fawning coverage of President Donald Trump, reflecting a growing concern among senior Russian officials that the new U.S. administration will be less friendly than first thought, three people familiar with the matter said." Or, perhaps, a growing concern that there's another authoritarian in town who's got the new kid cool vibes: "In January, Trump received more mentions in the media than Putin, relegating the Russian leader to the No. 2 spot for the first time since he returned to the Kremlin in 2012 after four years as premier, according to Interfax data."

Laura Smith-Spark and Nic Robertson at CNN: Tillerson Says U.S. May Work with Russia After Lavrov Meeting. "U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday the United States 'will consider working with Russia' when practical but will stand up for US and allies' interests when the two nations disagree, after his first meeting with his Russian counterpart." Disagree on what, is the question. Because Trump and Putin seem to agree on a lot of things that were formerly points of firm disagreement.

Wendy R. Weiser and Jonathan Brater at the Brannon Center: This GOP Bill Could Make It Easier for Russia to Hack U.S. Elections. "Last week, the House Administration Committee approved the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Termination Act, a bill to abolish the only federal agency tasked with helping states with election administration. The EAC is a little-known and tiny bipartisan agency—its annual budget is less than $10 million—with a critical mission of helping states administer elections in the most secure and reliable way. Eliminating this agency could undermine our national election infrastructure."

Relatedly: Donald Trump will reportedly announce Alexander Acosta as his new nominee for Secretary of Labor after Puzder dropped out. Acosta's nomination would finally put to bed the criticism that Trump nominated no Latinx people, since Acosta is Cuban American. And guess what? He's also part of the Crush Voting Rights gang (of which Jeff Sessions is the president, natch). And he has a history of overseeing horrendous employment practices, so let's definitely make this guy the Labor Secretary. JFC.

[CN: Eugenics] Sarah Jones at New Republic: Trump Has Turned the GOP into the Party of Eugenics. Well, he's much more brazen about it than the rest of his party, but this is what has underwritten the Social Darwinism of the Republican Party, about which some of us have been writing for 12 years or more. (That's not a knock on Sarah; to the contrary, I'm noting that what she's addressing has been identifiably emergent for a very long time.) What Trump has done is make the inextricable tie between Social Darwinism and white supremacy much more explicit.

[CN: Hate groups] Relatedly: The SPLC reports that hate groups have increased for the second consecutive year, "electified" by Trump's empowerment of their bigotry and hatred.

[CN: Racism; nativism; domestic violence] Marty Schladen at the El Paso Times: ICE Detains Domestic Violence Victim. "Federal immigration agents went to the El Paso County Courthouse last week and arrested an undocumented woman who had just received a protective order alleging that she was a victim of domestic violence. The agents apparently detained the woman Feb. 9 after receiving a tip, possibly from her alleged abuser, whom they already had in custody, El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal said. The detention has alarmed Bernal and other county officials who fear that the arrest will scare undocumented victims of domestic abuse into staying with their abusers for fear of being deported and separated from their children or other family members." Rage seethe boil.

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What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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