Politics

How We Can Remain Vigilant in the Face of Authoritarianism

Week 9: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

originally published January 14, 2017

This was not a good week for our country: this is the longest, and most troubling list. I want to note that the purpose of the authoritarian list is to highlight subtle changes, and so business as usual, as upsetting as it may be — like the GOP’s attempt to repeal the ACA — are not covered. Again, this is a list that is not meant to be partisan, but rather to capture changes in the fabric of our country, so we can refer back, and recall what used to be normal and acceptable.

1. The Office of Government Ethics director publicly lamented, “we seem to have lost contact with the Trump-Pence transition since the election.”

2. Three vendors have placed liens on the Trump hotel in DC for unpaid bills of over $5 million, in total.

3. The OGE similarly said they had not completed ethics reviews of Trump’s cabinet nominees. Leader McConnell said the Democrats need to “grow up”on Trump’s desire for speedy confirmations.

4. Sean Hannity endorsed a tweet which said “Make Russia Great Again” with the word, “Amen.” Hannity later deleted his tweet.

5. Meryl Streep used her Golden Globes lifetime of notable work speech to eloquently attack Trump, without mentioning his name.

6. Trump responded via a tweet that Streep is an “over-rated” actress, and denied he had mocked a disabled reporter.

7. Trump took credit for a Fiat Chrysler plant and jobs in MI and OH. Fiat Chrysler responded that Trump had nothing to do with it.

8. Trump appointed Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, to a top WH post, possibly violating the 1967 federal anti-nepotism statute.

9. Trump told the NYT that all the dress shops in DC are sold out for his inauguration. This was a lie.

10. Trump team dismissed the National Nuclear Security Administration and his deputy, responsible for maintaining our nuclear arsenal, as of January 20. Trump also dismissed the commanding general of the DC national guard.

11. Cory Booker became the first US Senator to speak out against a fellowsitting senator at a confirmation hearing (Sessions for AG).

12. CNN reported a bombshell — Intelligence chiefs had briefed Trump that Russia had gathered information to blackmail him (the dossier).

13. Same day, BuzzFeed published contents of the dossier, which apparently had been in the hands of the FBI and some in the media since the summer. Contents include the infamous golden shower.

14. Trump denied having been briefed, and said the contents of the dossier were confirmed by intelligence to be fake. DNI Clapper issued a public statement indicating the dossier’s contents are still being verified (not fake), and media reported that Comey met with Trump one-on-one to review the dossier the prior Friday.

15. Trump held his first press conference since July. Trump packed the room with paid employees, who applauded him, and jeered at reporters.

16. At presser, Trump said he had no plans to release his tax returns, or resolve conflicts of interest, saying, “I have no-conflict situation because I’m president.”

17. Trump bullied reporters at two news outlets, calling them “fake news,” and used other news outlets as evidence.

18. The director of the OGE publicly blasted Trump’s non-plan for dealing with conflicts of interest. Next day, Rep Jason Chaffetz threatened to investigate the OGE.

19. Next day, while meeting with CEO of AT&T at Trump Tower (AT&T needs approval for their merger with Time Warner, parent company of CNN) Trump tweeted CNN is “FAKE NEWS” and tanking.

20. Rep Barbara Lee said she would not attend Trump’s inauguration. During the week, the list grew to 12 members of Congress.

21. Trump encouraged his followers in a tweet to “buy L.L. Bean,” in violation of a WH policy prohibiting the endorsement of products.

22. The Justice Department inspector general opened an investigation into allegations of misconduct by the FBI and Comey, leading up to the election.

23. C-Span’s online broadcast was interrupted by Kremlin-backed broadcaster RT, while Rep Maxine Waters was speaking. Waters has said she will not meet with Trump. The broadcast was also interrupted that morning when a Senator discussed Russian hacking.

24. WAPO reported that Michael Flynn, Trump’s NSA, spoke to Russia’s envoy on Dec 29th, the day Obama announced sanctions on Russia. Trump team initially denied this, then later, said they spoke only once that day. Reuters reports they spoke 5 times that day.

25. Trump continued to deny Russian hacking, and to use quotes around Intelligence in his tweets.

26. Trump appointed Rudy Giuliani to a cybersecurity role — albeit though a private company, despite Giuliani’s lack of experience.

27. Trump appointed a sixth Goldman Sachs (past or present) employees to a major role in his administration.

28. After Congress was briefed by Intelligence chiefs, Rep John Lewis said, “I don’t see Trump as a legitimate president.”

29. Next morning, Trump tweeted a disparaging attack on Lewis, on MLK weekend, saying he was all talk.

30. Democrats in Congress were furious with FBI director Comey’s unwillingness to answer their questions and fully brief them.

31. UK media broke that the former agent who gathered the info in the dossier, had shared his findings with the FBI, starting in the summer, and had become concerned that a cabal within the FBI was compromised and attempting to cover-up information.

32. The Senate announced hearings on possible Russia-Trump ties, and said subpoenas would be issued if necessary.

33. The FEC sent Trump a letter listing 247 pages of illegal contributions to his campaign.

34. In the wake of the Trump dossier becoming public, Russia’s cybersecurity head is out of a job.

35. Human Rights Watch issued its annual report of threats to human rights around the world. For the first time in 27 years, the US is listed as a top threat because of the rise of Trump.

36. A Quinnipiac poll showed Trump’s favorability ratings continuing to slide to historic lows for modern day presidents: only 37% of Americans view Trump favorably.

 

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