We Resist: Day 722

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One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures (plus the occasional non-Republican who obliges us to resist their nonsense, too, like we don't have enough to worry about) 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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Earlier today by me: Trump Spiraling as He Searches for a Wall Win and Official Says Withdrawal from Syria Has Started; Gives No Further Detail. And ICYMI late yesterday: Cohen Will Testify to Congress Before Entering Prison.

Here are some more things in the news today...

Kenneth P. Vogel, Scott Shane, Mark Mazzetti, and Iuliia Mendel at the New York Times: Prosecutors Examining Ukrainians Who Flocked to Trump Inaugural.
Serhiy Kivalov, a Ukrainian lawmaker known for pro-Russian initiatives, took photos of [the Trumps' first dance at the inauguration party], as well as of his coveted tickets and passes to the soiree where it took place, the Liberty Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, posting them on Facebook and declaring that "it was an honor" to attend.

He was one of at least a dozen Ukrainian political and business figures who made their way to Washington for the inauguration, several of whom attended the Liberty Ball. Most had more on their dance cards than just parties.

They attended meetings and orchestrated encounters at Trump International Hotel with influential Republican members of Congress and close allies of [Donald] Trump. Representing a range of views, including a contingent seen as sympathetic to Moscow, they positioned themselves as brokers who could help solve one of the thorniest foreign policy problems facing the new administration — the ugly military stalemate between Russia and Ukraine and the tough sanctions imposed on Moscow following its seizure of Crimea.

...Federal prosecutors have asked witnesses about how some of the Ukrainians gained access to inauguration events, whom they met with while they were in the United States, and what they discussed — including questions about various peace plan proposals — according to people with direct knowledge of the questions and others who were briefed on the interviews.
It's truly infuriating to be reading about this now, when some of us were raising red flags about Trump's aides changing the Republican platform's Ukraine policy in a way that benefitted Russia back in July of 2016. Because the collusion has always been happening right out in the open.

It's excruciating to contemplate the vast amount of harm Donald Trump has already done in the time since those of us paying attention, and lacking the urge to extend to him and his party a benefit of the doubt that they never deserved, sounded the alarm that Trump was compromised. He should have — and could have — been stopped then.

In related news... Christopher Hooks and Mike Spies at the Trace: Documents Show NRA and GOP Candidates Coordinated Ads in Key Senate Races. "The National Rifle Association appears to have illegally coordinated its political advertising with Republican candidates in at least three recent high-profile Senate races, according to Federal Communications Commission records. In Senate races in Missouri and Montana in 2018, and North Carolina in 2016, the gun group's advertising blitzes on behalf of GOP candidates Josh Hawley, Matt Rosendale, and Richard Burr were authorized by the very same media consultancy that the candidates themselves used — an apparent violation of laws designed to prevent independent groups from synchronizing their efforts with political campaigns."

Given what we know about the NRA's documented ties to the Kremlin and the possibility that the NRA illegally filtered dark money from Russia to the Trump campaign, it's necessary to explore whether this coordination was directed and/or funded by Russia.

The entire Republican Party is compromised. Whether by active collusion or their refusal to investigate and hold accountable colluders in their ranks.

Speaking of which... Nicole Lafond at TPM: Giuliani: Trump Team Should Be Allowed to Review and 'Correct' Mueller Report. "Before Congress or the public is allowed to dig into special counsel Robert Mueller's impending report on Russian interference and the Trump campaign, the President's legal team thinks it should be allowed to review and 'correct' it. During an interview with The Hill, Rudy Giuliani suggested it was only fair that that be the case. 'As a matter of fairness, they should show it to you — so we can correct it if they're wrong,' he told The Hill. 'They're not God, after all. They could be wrong.'"

Evan Perez, Pamela Brown, and Laura Jarrett at CNN: As Robert Mueller Writes His Report, a Potential Battle Brews over Obstruction of Justice. "As special counsel Robert Mueller wraps up his Russia probe, investigators have focused on conflicting public statements by [Donald] Trump and his team that could be seen as an effort to influence witnesses and obstruct justice, according to people familiar with the investigation. The line of questioning adds to indications that Mueller views false or misleading statements to the press or to the public as obstruction of justice. That could set up a potential flashpoint with the White House and the Trump legal team should that become part of any final report from the Mueller investigation."

Cool. That all sounds great. Now how about some urgency, since people are soon going to start going hungry and becoming homeless as a result of this fucking shutdown, because Trump has remained unaccountable for two years and counting.

Erica Newland at the Washington Post: I Worked in the Justice Department; I Hope Its Lawyers Won't Give Trump an Alibi. "[W]hen it comes to the president's findings about the state of the world, [the Office of Legal Counsel] generally defers to the president. This deference, which is baked into OLC's culture, proceeds from the assumption that the president is acting consistent with Article II of the Constitution and with his oath of office, both of which require that he 'faithfully' execute the laws. That means he has a constitutional duty to act honestly and in the public interest. OLC's deference is also born of a recognition that its lawyers are not equipped to be sophisticated fact-finders. But when I was at OLC, I saw again and again how the decision to trust the president failed the office's attorneys, the Justice Department, and the American people."

Laura Rozen at Al-Monitor: Pompeo's Cairo Speech Panned as 'Tone-Deaf,' 'Hyper-Partisan,' 'Offensive'. "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's stridently partisan speech in Cairo [on January 10] chiding the former Barack Obama administration for its Iran nuclear diplomacy and attempts to engage the people of the Middle East received a withering response from former U.S. diplomats and regional experts, who called it unstatesmanlike and tone-deaf. ...Pompeo's speech 'was a regurgitation of what they have been saying for two years. There was nothing new, and it was offensive,' former career U.S. diplomat and ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein told Al-Monitor. 'That they think that anyone still wants to hear about Barack Obama's 2009 Cairo speech — get over it. You own the issue now, you own the policy,' Feierstein continued."

[Content Note: Nazism.]

This is the sort of thing happening all over the world, as rightwing fascist movements gain traction once again, and our Secretary of State is rambling reprehensible nonsense indicating (again) that this administration is part of that movement, rather than a reliable bulwark against its frightening global momentum.

Susan B. Glasser at the New Yorker: The International Crisis of Donald Trump. "After the 9/11 attacks, [Eliot Engel, the Democratic congressman from New York who has just taken over the chairmanship of the House Foreign Affairs Committee]'s predecessors on Foreign Affairs set up a new terrorism subcommittee, which underscored America's sudden, obsessive focus on countering such threats. That is the subcommittee that Engel will now eliminate in favor of his new investigative panel. There 'wasn't a great clamor' to keep the terrorism panel anymore, Engel told me, whereas there is no end to the Trump foreign-policy scandals that his members are pushing to investigate. 'We just thought, if we're going to do something relevant in this era where Congress is going to reassert itself, where there are so many questionable activities of this Administration vis-à-vis foreign policy, that it made sense to have this.' Trump, in other words, is a bigger threat than terrorism. At least for now."

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[If you can't view the image embedded in the tweet, it's a screenshot of a Fox Business article headline, which reads: "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn't the future of the Democratic Party: Joe Lieberman."]

In (cough) related news [CN: Sexual harassment and assault]:

And finally... Elena Schneider at Politico: Gillibrand Hires Three Senior Staffers Ahead of Iowa Visit. "Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's political operation has hired three senior staffers ahead of an expected presidential campaign launch. It's the latest sign of movement toward a 2020 campaign from the New York Democrat, who is also planning a trip to Iowa next weekend. The new hires are veteran Democratic operatives Dan McNally, Meredith Kelly, and Emmy Bengtson, according to a person familiar with their hiring. McNally will be Gillibrand's campaign director, while Kelly will serve as Gillibrand's communications director. Bengtson will be the deputy communications director, leading the digital operation."

If three female Senators (Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand) run, or even more (e.g. Amy Klobuchar), I am going to be delighted (if also somewhat worried about what will happen to the gender makeup of the senate, but that's not their responsibility to prevent in detriment to their ambitions).

I hope they strike a pact to appear unified in all debates until they get any Bernies Sanders or Joes Biden out of the contest, lol.

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

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