We Resist: Day 118

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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 in the news today:

Some morning updates, in case you missed 'em: The Latest on Trump.

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Brian Ross, James Gordon Meek, and Randy Kreider at ABC News: Trump's Disclosure Endangered Spy Placed Inside ISIS by Israel, Officials Say. "The life of a spy placed by Israel inside ISIS is at risk [now], according to current and former U.S. officials, after [Donald] Trump reportedly disclosed classified information in a meeting with Russian officials last week. The spy provided intelligence involving an active ISIS plot to bring down a passenger jet en route to the United States, with a bomb hidden in a laptop that U.S. officials believe can get through airport screening machines undetected. The information was reliable enough that the U.S. is considering a ban on laptops on all flights from Europe to the United States. The sensitive intelligence was shared with the United States, officials say, on the condition that the source remain confidential."

Naveed Jamali at New York Daily News: The President's Breach Through the Eyes of a Former Spy Against Russia. "It was that trust and faith that they would indeed protect me that kept me working undercover as a double-agent for the FBI, and made me voluntarily put myself in danger to keep meeting with the Russians for almost four years. For the relationship between intelligence asset and case officer is sacred. In one fell swoop, I have just learned that my President betrayed that trust, perhaps for nothing more than to appeal to his vanity and ego."

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post: Here's How Trump Could Survive—Even if We Learn the Worst. (Emphases mine.)
[E]ven if we do establish clear evidence that Trump obstructed justice, it is easy to discern, based on what we are already seeing, a way that Republicans ensure that Trump survives this.

In an interview with me, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) — the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee — pointed out that establishing obstruction of justice requires demonstrating corrupt intent to obstruct, a high bar to clear. But more to the point, Schiff noted that, even if this were established, Republicans would then have the option of taking refuge in the argument that this should not override the election results — rather than conceding that their party's president poses a serious enough threat to our democracy to warrant doing that.

...Remember, Trump has been assaulting our democracy on multiple fronts since the beginning, and Republicans have mostly looked the other way. There is an unfortunate tendency to cover these various stories as separate from one another, but Trump has abused his power in multiple ways that, ultimately, all trace back to the same autocratic impulse. In addition to the Russia affair, there's also the unprecedented, middle-finger-brandishing lack of transparency around his tax returns, even as he backs tax reform that would deliver his family a massive windfall; the laughably substandard ethics arrangement for his businesses and the perpetuation of likely emoluments clause violations; and the continued use of diplomatic business to promote Mar-a-Lago and steer cash into his pockets.

All of these — taken along with the alleged interference in ongoing probes — add up to a level of autocratic, above-the-law contempt for our democracy that is larger than the sum of its parts. And Republicans have effectively shrugged off most of it for as long as possible. So it's plausible that even if obstruction of justice were reasonably well established, they'd find a way to evade taking it to its logical conclusion.
As if to prove the very point, here is Speaker Paul Ryan responding to a question about whether he fears Trump's fuckery might impact Congressional Republicans' electoral prospects:

REPORTER (off camera): Mr. Speaker, what about the political impact? Your members are on the ballot again in two years; do you worry about some of the drip, drip, drip, or some of these controversies having an impact on Republican—?

RYAN: I don't worry about things that are outside of my control. I worry about things that are within our control—and that is whether or not we do what we are elected to do, which is to solve people's problems.
Woo. That is the Speaker of the House, third in line to the U.S. presidency, saying that he doesn't believe a dangerously incompetent, reckless, possibly compromised, and seemingly lawbreaking president is a "problem" for the people of this country. And further saying that said problem is outside of his control, despite the fact that it is within his control, and also part of the job he was elected to do, to provide checks and balances on the executive branch.

Absolutely extraordinary. Unsurprising, but breathtaking all the same.

Meanwhile, some conservatives think the solution is just that the White House needs a better communications team. No, really. [CN: Video may autoplay at link] Jonathan Easley at the Hill: Right Pushes Trump to Make Staff, Press Changes. "Trump's allies are pushing him to make drastic changes as the White House deals with persistent leaks and a communications strategy they believe has spun out of control. There is a broad sense among Trump's media boosters and early supporters that his staff is failing him, beginning with chief of staff Reince Priebus and extending to press secretary Sean Spicer, whose job security has been the subject of endless speculation."

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Ned Resnikoff at ThinkProgress: A Russian State Bank Reportedly Financed an $850 Million Deal with a Trump Business Partner. "[T]he Wall Street Journal reported that the president's business ties to Russian state institutions go deeper than previously known. The Journal said on Wednesday that the state-run bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) financed an $850 million deal with Russian-Canadian real estate developer Alexander Schnaider—who then funded the construction of a Trump-branded hotel in Toronto."

That would be the same Vnesheconombank with whose chief, Sergey N. Gorkov, Jared Kushner met in an undisclosed meeting last December.

The same Vnesheconombank which financed a takeover of one of Ukraine's struggling steel groups, right in the middle of a Ukrainian election—an election which was won by the pro-Putin candidate Viktor Yanukovych, for whom both Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and Sanders chief strategist Tad Devine worked during that election.

Vnesheconombank, as noted in the Times piece, is also "a target of American sanctions imposed in response to Moscow's annexation of Crimea and aggression in Ukraine. It is controlled by members of President Vladimir V. Putin's government, including Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev, and has been used to bail out oligarchs favored by Mr. Putin and to fund pet projects like the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi."

That would be the same "aggression in Ukraine" regarding which members of the Trump campaign pressured changes in the Republican platform, "to include language against arming Ukrainians against pro-Russian rebels."


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Matea Gold at the Washington Post: Trump's 'Huuuuuge' Caribbean Estate Is on the Market for $28 Million, Prompting Questions. "Le Chateau des Palmiers, which [Donald] Trump described as 'one of the greatest mansions in the world' when he bought it in 2013, was quietly listed for sale last month on the website of Sotheby's International Realty... The effort to sell the high-priced estate in the midst of Trump's tenure could present a similar ethical problem to the one his lawyer cited in defending his decision not to sell off his company after the election: that a buyer could overpay as a way to gain currency with the president. If the estate is sold, the public probably would learn little, if anything, about who has purchased it."

Staff and agencies at the Guardian: 'Erdoğan's Bodyguards' in Violent Clash with Protesters in Washington DC. "Nine people were hurt and two arrests were made during an altercation at the Turkish ambassador's residence in the US capital during a visit by Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. According to witnesses, a brawl erupted when Erdoğan's security detail attacked protesters carrying the flag of the Kurdish PYD party outside the residence. A local NBC television affiliate reported Erdoğan was inside the building at the time."

Josh Rogin at the Washington Post: Trump to Unveil Plans for an 'Arab NATO' in Saudi Arabia. "When [Donald] Trump arrives in Riyadh this week, he will lay out his vision for a new regional security architecture White House officials call an 'Arab NATO,' to guide the fight against terrorism and push back against Iran. As a cornerstone of the plan, Trump will also announce one of the largest arms-sales deals in history. Behind the scenes, the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia have been conducting extensive negotiations, led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The discussions began shortly after the presidential election, when Mohammed, known in Washington as 'MBS,' sent a delegation to meet with Kushner and other Trump officials at Trump Tower."

Trump is also reportedly scheduled to give a speech on Islam while in Saudi Arabia. What could go wrong?

[CN: Racism; carcerality] Sameer Rao at Colorlines: Criminal Justice Orgs Denounce Jeff Sessions' Mandatory Minimums Directive. "Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not explicitly mention drugs in his recent memo instructing federal prosecutors to 'pursue the most readily provable offense' in courts. It turns out that he didn't need to—various advocacy groups and activists read between the lines of the two-page document and criticized it for signaling a renewal of the War on Drugs and its criminalization of low-level drug offenses, which disproportionately harms people of color."

[CN: Nativism] Tina Vasquez at Rewire: Haitian Immigrants Rally in Protest of Possible Deportations. "This Haitian Heritage Month, Haitian immigrants and advocates are speaking out against [Donald] Trump and his administration, which will decide the fate of the 50,000 Haitian immigrants who currently reside in the United States with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). In actions across Florida this past weekend, activists asked the Trump administration to extend TPS. ...The Trump administration looking to end TPS is not a surprise, given the administration's push to ramp up detainment and deportation of undocumented people. However, on a September campaign stop, Trump said he would be one of Haitian immigrants' 'greatest champions.'"

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

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