No Trumps👱‍♂️ Newsbites
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says 'Texans should continue to demand' Cruz's resignation over his role in the Capitol attack amid intense backlash over Cancun trip
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday again called on Sen. Ted Cruz to resign over the Capitol siege.
  • Ocasio-Cortez went after the Texas Republican as he faces backlash over a trip to Cancun.
  • Texas is facing a deadly winter storm that caused a wave of power outages.
"If Sen. Cruz had resigned back in January after helping gin up a violent insurrection that killed several people, he could've taken his vacation in peace. Texans should continue to demand his resignation," Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet.

The Texas senator traveled to Cancun on Wednesday as his state contends with a fatal storm that has caused a wave of power outages amid record-low temperatures. He faced an onslaught of backlash online over the excursion, and was set to return to Texas on Thursday afternoon. In a statement, Cruz explained away the trip as an effort to be a "good dad" and accompany his daughters to Mexico with school cancelled due to the storm.
Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/aoc-texas-should-demand-cruz-resignation-capitol-siege-cancun-backlash-2021-2

How Ted Cruz Became the Least Sympathetic Politician in America
His getaway to Cancún during the Texas power emergency was only the latest episode in a political career that has left Mr. Cruz reviled by Democrats and more than a few Republicans.

On Monday, Senator Ted Cruz urged his constituents to “stay home,” warning that winter weather beating down on Texas could be deadly. On Tuesday, he offered a shrug emoji and pronounced the situation “not good.” Then, on Wednesday, he decamped for a Ritz-Carlton resort in sun-drenched Cancún, escaping with his family from their freezing house.

And on Thursday, many Americans who had been battered by a deadly winter storm, on top of a nearly yearlong pandemic, finally found a reason to come together and lift their voices in a united chorus of rage.

FlyinTed, a homage to Donald J. Trump’s “Lyin’ Ted” nickname, began trending on Twitter. TMZ, the celebrity website, published photographs showing a Patagonia-fleece-clad Mr. Cruz waiting for his flight, hanging out in the United Club lounge and reading his phone from a seat in economy plus. The Texas Monthly, which bills itself as “the national magazine of Texas,” offered a list of curses to mutter against Mr. Cruz.

For a politician long reviled not just by Democrats but also by many of his Republican colleagues in Washington, Mr. Cruz is now the landslide winner for the title of the least sympathetic politician in America. After leaving freezing Texans to melt snow for water while he traveled to go work at the beach, Mr. Cruz offered little more than the classic political cliché — time with family — as an explanation, citing his daughters’ desire to go to Cancún as the reason for his trip. Even his dog became a player in the drama after a report that the Cruz family had left the aptly named Snowflake behind with a security guard, stirring fresh outrage on social media.

“He’s a person that people enjoy disliking,” said Bill Miller, a veteran Texas lobbyist and political consultant who has worked with members of both parties. “And now he’s been mortally wounded. It’s like he bailed out on the state at its most weakened moment. It’s an indefensible action.”

While Mr. Cruz is hardly the first politician to face blowback after paying his way out of hardship, the junior senator from Texas presents a uniquely rich target. The conservative firebrand has spent much of his career gleefully pointing out the perceived hypocrisies of both political opponents and Republican allies — a personality trait that set off a national wave of schadenfreude as the country watched Mr. Cruz flip-flopping over his tropical getaway on Thursday.

Throughout his political career, Mr. Cruz has united politicians from former President George W. Bush to Senator Rand Paul in mutual distaste. “Lucifer in the flesh,” John Boehner, the former House speaker, said of Mr. Cruz in 2016. Even Satanists could not abide the comparison; a spokesman for the Satanic Temple quickly released a statement saying that the group wanted “nothing to do” with politicians like Mr. Cruz.

... After a 2016 primary campaign in which he called Mr. Trump a “pathological liar,” a “serial philanderer,” an “utterly amoral” conspiracy-monger and a peerless narcissist, Mr. Cruz embarked on a major reputational repair campaign aimed at wooing back the new president and the conservative base that supported him.

... “Until Donald Trump came along, this guy was the biggest performer in conservative politics,” said Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio and housing secretary. “He was the one that was trying to position himself as the id of the conservative moment.”

Mr. Castro added, “He comes off as fake and he comes off as much more concerned about himself than anyone else.”

... Congressional aides and members of Congress say there’s quite a lot that a senator can do to help in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, including coordinating relief efforts, pressuring the federal government for additional resources and disseminating crucial public safety information.
Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/19/us/politics/ted-cruz-mexico.html

Erik Prince, Trump Ally, Violated Libya Arms Embargo, U.N. Report Says
Mr. Prince offered to supply weapons, drones and mercenaries to a Libyan militia commander seeking to overthrow the government, according to U.N. investigators.

Erik Prince, the former head of the security contractor Blackwater Worldwide and a prominent supporter of former President Donald J. Trump, violated a United Nations arms embargo on Libya by sending weapons to a militia commander who was attempting to overthrow the internationally backed government, according to U.N. investigators.

A confidential U.N. report obtained by The New York Times and delivered by investigators to the Security Council on Thursday reveals how Mr. Prince deployed a force of foreign mercenaries, armed with attack aircraft, gunboats and cyberwarfare capabilities, to eastern Libya at the height of a major battle in 2019.

As part of the operation, which the report said cost $80 million, the mercenaries also planned to form a hit squad that could track down and kill selected Libyan commanders.

Mr. Prince, a former Navy SEAL and the brother of Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump’s education secretary, became a symbol of the excesses of privatized American military force when his Blackwater contractors killed 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007.


In the past decade he has relaunched himself as an executive who strikes deals — sometimes for minerals, other times involving military force — in war-addled but resource-rich countries, mostly in Africa.

During the Trump administration, Mr. Prince was a generous donor and a staunch ally of the president, often in league with figures like Steve Bannon and Roger Stone as they sought to undermine Mr. Trump’s critics. And Mr. Prince came under scrutiny from the Trump-Russia inquiry over his meeting with a Russian banker in 2017.

... The accusation that Mr. Prince violated the U.N.’s arms embargo on Libya exposes him to possible U.N. sanctions, including a travel ban and a freeze on his bank accounts and other assets — though such an outcome is uncertain.

The report raises the question of whether Mr. Prince played on his ties to the Trump administration to pull off the Libya operation.

... The sheer breadth of evidence in the latest U.N. report — 121 pages of code names, cover stories, offshore bank accounts and secretive weapons transfers spanning eight countries, not to mention a brief mention of a Hollywood friend of Mr. Prince — provides a glimpse into the secretive world of international mercenaries.

... Mr. Prince has faced accusations of violating international law before. In 2012, U.N. investigators accused his antipiracy force in Somalia, the Puntland Maritime Police Force, of “the most brazen violation of the arms embargo by a private security company.”

Whether he will face sanctions as a result of the accusations against him, though, is highly uncertain. Mr. Prince can no longer rely on allies with the Trump administration to protect him. At the same time, a senior diplomat at the U.N. said, the Biden administration may be reluctant to penalize an American for breaches of the arms embargo when others are guilty of far worse.
Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/19/world/middleeast/erik-prince-libya-embargo.html

Manhattan's district attorney hired a top prosecutor who pursued mafia bosses to investigate Trump
  • Manhattan's district attorney hired top prosecutor Mark Pomerantz to join its Trump investigation.
  • Pomerantz has a long career prosecuting white-collar crime and organized crime.
  • The Manhattan DA is investigating whether the Trump Organization committed financial crimes.
Pomerantz has joined the team assembled by District Attorney Cyrus Vance to investigate whether the Trump Organization committed insurance and tax fraud, and falsified records, The Times reported.

Reuters reported that in his new role, Pomerantz interviewed Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, on Thursday.

... Vance's investigation is the only known criminal probe being conducted into Trump's business dealings, with a civil probe by New York Attorney General Letitia James investigating whether Trump falsely reported property values to secure loans and tax benefits.

... Pomerantz has several decades of experience as a trial lawyer and litigator, having led the criminal division of the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York between 1997 and 1999.

During his time in the job he oversaw the prosecution of several organized-crime cases, including that of John A. Gotti, the son of the Gambino crime family boss John J. Gotti, on racketeering charges. According to The Times, Pomerantz was involved in the 1988 case which established the legal definition of racketeering, which has been used to prosecute organized-crime figures.
Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/manhattan-district-attorney-hires-mark-pomerantz-mafia-prosector-investigate-trump-2021-2

Trump complained that he was served a smaller steak than a dining companion at his DC hotel restaurant: report
  • Trump once complained that the steak he was served at his Washington, DC, hotel restaurant was too small.
  • The steakhouse's former top chef told The Washingtonian that Trump said his steak was smaller than the one served to his dinner companion.
  • "It was the same steak. Both well done. Maybe it was a half ounce bigger or something, I don't know," he said.
But after Trump's complaint, Williamson switched from serving the president a filet mignon or bone-in rib eye to a 40-ounce tomahawk, which is larger than all the other steaks currently offered on the restaurant's menu. The restaurant reportedly also ordered special, extra-large shrimp for Trump's appetizer dish.

Former first lady Melania Trump was also known to be picky with her food. Williamson said she once returned a plate of Dover sole, a fish that's priced at $64 on the menu, because it was topped with chives and parsley, according to the report.

Trump always sat at the same table at the center of the dining room, which was always reserved for him and his inner circle, and ate the same meal every time he visited the restaurant,
The Washingtonian reported.

Immediately after he was seated, a waiter would offer him a small bottle of hand sanitizer and ask him whether he'd like his Diet Coke with or without ice. Then the server would open the drink, according to a seven-step instruction manual The Washingtonian obtained, in front of Trump.

The former president would have two popovers, then jumbo shrimp cocktail, his signature well-done steak, and fries. He'd sometimes have either apple pie or chocolate cake for dessert. Trump also required that an assortment of snacks and sweets, including Lay's Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Potato Chips, Milky Way and Snickers bars, be laid out for him.

Trump's red meat and fast food-heavy diet has long attracted attention. His former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, wrote that Trump would regularly devour a 2,400-calorie McDonald's meal consisting of two Big Mac burgers, two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, and a chocolate milkshake on the campaign trail. In the White House, Trump would often be served two scoops of ice cream with his dessert, while his guests received one scoop.
Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-complained-steak-smaller-than-companions-dc-hotel-2021-2

Trump hotel employees say they had to pretend to support the president: 'Inside I was dying'
  • Former employees at Trump hotel said they had to pretend to support the president while on the job.
  • The hotel staff said they would also face harassment from anti-Trump activists.
  • However, one huge perk of the job: getting paid well.
For employees at the Trump International Hotel who weren't Donald Trump supporters, pretending to be one was an unwritten rule of the job, according to a Washingtonian report on Thursday.

One ex-manager at the luxury hotel in Washington, DC, told the local magazine that she quickly learned on her first days at work she'd have to fake being a fan of the former president. When given a tour of the place by another employee, they had commented that Trump was "such a kind soul" and "so good to the people."

The former manager felt inclined to agree, but later admitted: "Inside, I was dying."

Another past employee, Michel Rivera, who was a bartender at the lobby bar, told the Washingtonian that he had to lie in order to portray himself as part of the Trump crowd.

"I said certain things to play the part and do what I needed to do in order to avoid problems," Rivera told the magazine. "A lot of times, I would end up being like, 'Yes, I support the president. He's an amazing guy.'"

The Washingtonian's Jessica Sidman spoke to several past employees of the Trump hotel who detailed the pros and cons of working at a place owned by the former president while he was in office. Besides the feigned enthusiasm over Trump, another regular work occurrence was harassment from people who opposed Trump.

... Employees were also expected to abide by strict dress codes, with policies limiting the length of a man's beard and the length of a woman's fingernails. "I always tried to dress like a Fox News anchor," one former female manager said.

... Still, one major perk of a job serving prominent public officials was the pay, employees said. Rivera, the former bartender, told the Washingtonian that it was the highest-paying job he ever had, earning over $100,000 a year with tips. Now, due to fear of backlash from future employers, his resume says that he used to work at the "Old Post Office" — which is what the DC building was before being renovated into the Trump hotel.
Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-hotel-employees-pretended-support-him-2021-2

White House says there are no plans to invite Russia to join G7
The White House said Friday that there are no plans to invite Russia to rejoin the G-7 group of nations, a call that was frequently made by former President Donald Trump.

Any invitation for Russia to join the G-7 would be made in partnership with all of the group's members, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Friday.

... Throughout his presidency, Trump called on G-7 members to reinstate Russia to the group and blamed his predecessor, in part, for Russian President Vladamir Putin's aggression in Crimea and Ukraine.

"I've gone to numerous G-7 meetings, and I guess President Obama, because Putin outsmarted him, President Obama thought it wasn't a good thing to have Russia in so he wanted Russia out. I think it's much more appropriate to have Russia in and it should be the G-8," Trump said ahead of the G-7 meeting in 2019.
Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/19/white-house-says-us-not-inviting-russia-to-g7.html

New York prosecutors subpoenaed a property tax agency as part of a criminal investigation into Trump's business dealings
  • Officials are investigating if Donald Trump manipulated the value of his assets for loan and tax benefits.
  • The Manhattan DA's office subpoenaed a property tax agency as part of the criminal investigation.
  • It is just one of many legal challenges facing Trump since he left office last month.
The New York City Tax Commission confirmed that they received the subpoena, which could likely result in detailed income and expense statements from the Trump Organization being turned over to the DA's office.

District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has been conducting an ongoing investigation into Trump's company over whether it has been inflating his property values to reduce taxes.

Last year, The New York Times reported that Trump had valued properties at significantly different amounts at different times.

For instance, his Seven Springs estate, located north of New York City, was purchased in 1995 for $7.5 million. When trying to get a loan in 2014, Trump's company valued it at $291 million. On an ethics disclosure form in 2019, it was listed at $50 million.
Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/new-york-prosecutors-subpoena-property-tax-agency-in-trump-inquiry-2021-2

Pennsylvania police officer charged in the Capitol riot posted video of the insurrection and has 'no regrets'
  • A PA officer was charged by federal authorities for his alleged involvement in the Capitol riot.
  • Joseph Fischer allegedly posted a video of himself racing into the Capitol.
  • Fischer who has been suspended without pay allegedly said he told his Chief that he had no regrets.
The United States District Court in the District of Colombia charged Joseph Fischer, a patrolman at North Cornwall Township Police Department, with obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder, knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and obstruction of Justice/Congress.

On the day following the attack, Fischer allegedly posted a video on a Facebook account under the name 'SV Spindrift' that showed him charging into the Capitol. Authorities requested information on the account from Facebook and were able to determine that it belonged to Fischer, the complaint said.

In the less than three-minute video, he allegedly yelled "Charge," as well as "Hold the Line" and "Motherf--kers." The complaint also said he had a "physical encounter" with at least one police officer.


In a comment on that same day, Fischer also allegedly wrote: "there was some minor destruction and a few things were stolen ... but 98% peaceful.. I was there..we pushed police back about 25 feet. Got pepper balled and OC sprayed, but entry into the Capital was needed to send a message that we the people hold the real power."

In a message exchange with another user, Fischer also allegedly said that "word got out" that he was at the rally and that he may "need a job," adding that his chief had spoken with him.

... Fischer allegedly said that he told his chief, "if that is the price I have to pay to voice my freedom and liberties which I was born with and thusly taken away then then must be the price...," according to the criminal complaint.

He is currently suspended without pay, WGAL reported. The criminal complaint also alleges that Fischer told the chief, "I have no regrets and give zero s--ts."
Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/pa-officer-charged-role-capitol-riot-has-no-regrets-2021-2

Trumpism
or Trump-ism

Trumpism refers to the nontraditional political philosophy and approach espoused by Donald Trump and his supporters. The term Trumpism can also be used to directly refer to an outrageous or idiosyncratic statement made by Donald Trump.

Trump, whom many observers consider an anomaly, left the White House by saying, “We will be back in some form.” His legacy is “Trumpism” – a wave of white nationalism.


Trumpisms are Bushisms on steroids.