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Victoria’s Secret: Have the Angels Fallen from Grace? (Interesting article on how the Epstein saga has affected the VS Brand)

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Victoria’s Secret: Have the Angels Fallen from Grace?
by Dimitar Ganev | Oct 2, 2019

Victoria’s Secret, the largest lingerie retailer in the US, has been one of the most iconic apparel brands since the 1990s, not least because its sexually charged imaging set the industry’s standard for decades and exerted a strong influence on body image norms. But since 2015, the shares of its parent company L Brands have been dropping as sales keep taking hits from shifting consumer tastes, executive turnovers and emerging competition.
The Victoria’s Secret brand, built on skinny girls and scantily clad lingerie, is now largely perceived as inadequate for a time when consumers’ preferences have moved away from sex appeal and towards empowerment, inclusiveness and comfort. To many, the brand’s traditional marketing strategy, which bets on fashion shows where supermodels walk in stiletto heels and angel wings, seems tone-deaf in the era of #MeToo, which condemns all forms of objectifying women and imposing hard-to-achieve beauty standards.
The Victoria’s Secret Angels, once considered symbols of sexiness, have now started to alienate consumers: a recent study found that 68% of them like the brand “less than they used to” and 60% feel that Victoria’s Secret is “forced” or “fake.” Demand for its products has cooled as up-and-coming rival brands have become more attractive by promoting themselves through unedited images featuring women of more diverse shapes and sizes. The retail giant reported that it will close 53 stores in North America this year, citing a “decline in performance.”
The brand itself admitted that it relied on hypersexualised imaging for far too long and it needs to rethink its identity. At L Brands‘ recent investor day, John Mehas, head of Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, asserted that the company needs to evolve and to reconnect with consumers by launching new products, hiring new executives and using new marketing strategies.
An essential part of the narrative shift would be a more diverse group of models, improving the merchandise, replacing the brand’s marketing chief and “rethinking” its annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show, the only fashion show regularly broadcast around the world, whose ratings keep falling. The brand hinted that network television would no longer be the “right fit” for the event, which has been criticised for being focused on empowering the models who walk in it instead of trying to relate to consumers.
Inclusivity, Diversity and Epstein
Many specialised fashion publications and business outlets embarked on questioning how the once-beloved brand managed to garner such a bad reputation. Analysing the media conversation around Victoria’s Secret in the top-tier English language publications from October 2018 to September 2019, we found that the most often discussed topics were body inclusivity, the company’s ties with Jeffrey Epstein and gender diversity:
The strongest coverage drivers for both the “Body inclusivity” and “LGBTQ+ diversity” topics were the comments which 71-year-old chief marketing officer Ed Razek made in a 2018 interview with Vogue that quickly went viral. Razek, who reportedly has final say over who’s in the televised fashion show, said that he didn’t think Victoria’s Secret‘s fashion event should include transgender or plus-size models because it is supposed to be “a fantasy”.
“Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should,” he said. “Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is. It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us. And they carp at us because we’re the leader.”
The remarks prompted a strong backlash from consumers. As with the most severe social media crises, Victoria’s Secret was embroiled in an outrage cascade — outbursts of moral judgment which start to drive the conversation around brands, their products and their corporate messages. In these cases, the virality of moral judgements is facilitated by the fact that most of the content on social media feeds and timelines is sorted according to its likelihood to generate engagement.
The fact that fashion brands in particular face a growing number of crises could be explained by the supposition that fashion items are often taken to be markers of cultural and social identity, and thus are susceptible to be perceived as controversial across social networks. For instance, designers often draw inspiration from other cultures’ traditions, which has recently given rise to accusations of “cultural appropriation”.
Razek later used the company’s Twitter account to issue a formal apology, saying that his remark “came across as insensitive.”
In August 2019, Razek retired just days after the lingerie brand hired its first openly transgender model for its teen label PINK: Brazilian Valentina Sampaio. The hire was generally welcomed by commentators – for instance, Kendall Jenner, daughter of trans icon Caitlyn Jenner, posted “celebrate trans women” to her 98 million Instagram followers.
Meanwhile, media monitoring organisation GLAAD, which deals with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, said Sampaio’s move comes as transgender people are becoming more visible in advertising. Examples of the trend include recent campaigns by Calvin Klein, Gap and H&M, while Playboy’s first transgender Playmate appeared in 2017.
Another strong coverage driver within the ‘Body inclusivity‘ topic was the protest outside Victoria’s Secret‘s store on Oxford Street in London, in which protesters stripped to their underwear and held signs demanding more diversity in fashion. To address such concerns, the latest investor meeting saw Victoria’s Secret deciding it will no longer rely on a small group of supermodels to promote its sexy lingerie, in a bid to use more inclusive marketing.
An example of this new strategy was an Instagram post of model Barbara Palvin, which was celebrated for being more body-inclusive, as social media users perceived Palvin to be curvier than the other supermodels. The post received over 780,000 likes in two days, generating 4.2 times the average number of likes, with users commenting that the model looks “normal” and “healthy”.
But the brand wasn’t that successful in managing another crisis: the widely publicised ties between L Brands founder Les Wexner and financier Jeffrey Epstein, an accused child sex trafficker who committed suicide in jail. Although Epstein didn’t actually work for Victoria’s Secret or L Brands, he had control over Wexner’s finances and personal life, according to reporting by The New York Times, and used his connections with Victoria’s Secret to facilitate his alleged crimes.
L Brands tried to distance itself from Epstein, saying it had cut ties with him nearly 12 years ago and disclosing that it had hired outside counsel to review the case. Wexner said: “Being taken advantage of by someone who was so sick, so cunning, so depraved, is something that I’m embarrassed that I was even close to. But that is in the past.”
In many media reports, the ‘Epstein ties‘ topic was closely related to the ‘Sexual harassment‘ topic, which was dominated by a petition urging Victoria’s Secret to take a stand against sexual harassment and violence. The open letter was addressed to Victoria’s Secret CEO John Mehas and signed by more than 100 models, many of whom have worked with the brand in the past, and also by the Model Alliance, an advocacy organisation in the fashion industry, and the Time’s Up movement against sexual harassment which was founded in response to the Weinstein effect and #MeToo.
The petition cited “numerous allegations of sexual assault, alleged rape, and sex trafficking of models and aspiring models”. Several of the company’s photographers have been accused of misconduct, on top of the links with Jeffrey Epstein. A Victoria’s Secret spokesperson said the firm has been in conversations with the Model Alliance “for some time”: “We are always concerned about the welfare of our models and want to continue to have dialogue with the Model Alliance and others to accomplish meaningful progress in the industry.”
Crisis mode
Ed Razek‘s aforementioned controversial comments regarding transgender and plus-size models made him the most often quoted spokesperson in the discussion around Victoria’s Secret:
Razek’s dominance in the conversation underlined the crisis of perception the brand suffers: his remarks were taken by many media outlets as a sign that the brand is unwilling to adapt to the current sociocultural climate. Models who have previously worked with the brand and who had a relatively large share of voice in the media conversation were quick to criticise him. For example. Karlie Kloss and Lily Aldridge posted a photo reading “Trans and GNC [gender non-conforming] people are not a debate” to their Instagram stories.
Karlie Kloss was one of the most vocal critics: she recently told Vogue that she had decided to terminate her relationship with Victoria’s Secret because the image was not “truly reflective” of who she was and the “kind of message I want to send to young women around the world about what it means to be beautiful.” Model Tess Holliday was harsher, leaving a message to Razek on Twitter following his Vogue interview: “Who needs VS anyway? They never supported plus ladies & now they are trying to dis my trans sisters? Hell nah. Kiss my fat ass, [Victoria’s Secret].”
The majority of media reports on Razek’s retirement announcement cited these remarks as one of the key points in his career and highlighted that he was one of the main figures in the highly sexualised beauty ideal put forth by the brand. The crisis of perception was also emphasised by the fact that L Brands CEO Les Wexner, another major corporate spokesperson in the conversation, was quoted primarily in relation to the Epstein scandal.
However, some of the spokespeople portrayed Victoria’s Secret in a positive light. Adriana Lima, one of the best-known Angels, quit the label after two decades and 18 fashion shows with the brand, sharing the news on Instagram with a heartfelt caption: “Dear Victoria, Thank you for showing me the world, sharing your secrets, and most importantly not just giving me wings but teaching me to fly.”
And while she presented the brand positively, some media publications reminded their readers of a an interview she gave to Grazia in 2011 in which she outlined the physical challenges she went through in order to be in shape, especially after her pregnancy.
Angel Behati Prinsloo tried to defend the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show against the criticism for its lack of transgender models and diverse body types. In an interview with Elle, she explained what the show stands for: ‘There’s a lot of talk about everything but I think people need to also understand that it’s a show. It’s not saying negative or positive about any body type, it’s ‘this is who they are’.”
In the meantime, Barbara Palvin was named as a Victoria’s Secret Angel after the successful Instagram post which customers perceived to be more body-inclusive. She announced the news to fans also via Instagram and her hire was generally interpreted by the media as a sign that the label is finally starting to listen to its critics.
CEO John Mehas‘ comments about the brand’s marketing shift were met with similar enthusiasm, especially his plans to include messaging that responds to the #MeToo movement. But the most warmly welcomed move was the hire of Valentina Sampaio: although some publications suggested that the brand’s first openly transgender model came too late, most commentators said that the retailer has finally moved in the right direction.
Lingerie wars
While Victoria’s Secret is caught up in a fierce discussion, L Brands‘ other flagship label, Bath & Body Works, a personal-goods retailer, continues to report strong earnings, supporting its struggling parent. Many reports on Victoria’s Secret‘s controversial reputation outlined this development, making Bath & Body Works the most frequently mentioned brand in the conversation:
While L Brands is firmly focused on the Victoria’s Secret turnaround story, Bath & Body Work is perceived as staying relevant with updated stores and new product tests, maintaining a wholesome image as “America’s sweetheart of beauty brands.” Its loyal core consumer base of millennial women is boosted by fan blogs and YouTube accounts dedicated to sharing new products. The brand also plans to ramp up volume by having a digital makeover for the first time in India.
Investors have even started pressuring L Brands to make Bath & Body Works a standalone company which would not be associated with Victoria’s Secret. Hedge fund Barington Capital, whose CEO James A. Mitarotonda was one of the few corporate spokespeople in the conversation, sent a lengthy letter to L Brands CEO Les Wexner arguing for a spinoff.
But after Bath & Body Works posted its first unchanged quarter of store traffic in five years during 2019’s second quarter, Jefferies analyst Randal Konik suggested that the best days for the bath and candle retailer may be over. Konik also said that the teen brand PINK is the next sore spot for L Brands, with sales falling by low double digits in the fourth quarter, as the label is “without fans and rudderless.”
ThirdLove, American Eagle Outfitters and Savage X Fenty were identified as the main competitors which have capitalised on Victoria’s Secret’s reputational struggles. ThirdLove, an online bra startup which was launched in 2013, was perceived as coming head to head with Victoria’s Secret as it focuses on inclusive sizing and marketing, which have helped its annual sales to grow at a rate of 180% for the past four years.
The brand opened its first pop-up store in New York in July 2019, putting itself in direct competition with Victoria’s Secret as the lingerie giant had a store less than a 10 minutes’ walk away. ThirdLove also joined the discussion around Razek’s comments, taking out a full-page ad in The New York Times, in which co-founder and co-CEO Heidi Zak said she was appalled when she read them: “I’ve read and re-read the interview at least 20 times, and each time I read it I’m even angrier. How in 2018 can the CMO of any public company — let alone one that claims to be for women — make such shocking, derogatory statements?”
When asked whether Victoria’s Secret was worried its customers might now be looking for something different, Razek mentioned ThirdLove: “We’re nobody’s ThirdLove,” Razek said. “We’re their first love. And Victoria’s Secret has been women’s first love from the beginning.”
American Eagle Outfitters was also viewed as one of the main companies to break Victoria’s Secret‘s grip on the apparel industry by offering fitting bras and using messaging which pitches inclusiveness and comfort over sex appeal. Its activewear and lingerie brand Aerie has built an image of an “anti-Victoria’s Secret” label with untouched ads featuring models of all shapes and sizes. Kyle Andrew, American Eagle’s CMO, said the company’s success is due to its willingness to experiment and find ways to better listen to its teen customer base.
Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty recent show, streamed on Amazon Prime, has been making headlines everywhere, with commentators saying it was everything that Victoria’s Secret’s annual runway show wishes it could be by featuring models of all shapes, sizes, and ethnic backgrounds, with a clear focus on body inclusivity and acceptance.
Meanwhile, retail corporation Target also tried to capitalise on Victoria’s Secret’s struggles with a strategy similar to ThirdLove, American Eagle Outfitters and Savage X Fenty: it launched a new bra and underwear brand called Auden with a campaign featuring women “in all different shapes and sizes.”
Nike was mentioned as one of the brands which have gotten ahead of the curve with their socially-conscious marketing efforts featuring ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who had participated in racial justice demonstrations during national anthem ceremonies. Fast-fashion brand H&M got involved in the discussion for selling a $199 bra similar to Victoria’s Secret’s $1 million Fantasy Bra as part of its collaboration with Moschino.
Victoria’s Secret‘s reputational woos come at a time when the fashion and apparel industries occupy a central place in the extensively covered #MeToo movement and play a major role in ongoing media discussions around gender and identity. Since such issues naturally polarise consumers, brands which are dealing with products directly related to them are regularly caught up in fierce debates.
The growing importance of the debates around gender in the fashion industry has also been highlighted in the accelerating gender-neutral trend. The latest seasons have seen luxury brands like Gucci, Saint Laurent and Haider Ackerman combining menswear and womenswear runway shows, Others, such as Proenza Schouler and Rodarte, have started showing women’s pre-collections or women’s ready-to-wear during the back-to-back menswear and couture calendar. Meanwhile, fast-fashion labels such as Zara started releasing ungendered collections with models of both sexes dressed in the same clothes.
There are also a growing number of new brands like the Phluid Project, Agender and Rebrand which are built around the concept of non-binary dressing. Beyond fashion houses, the trend has also been recently reinforced by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), which added a unisex/non-binary option for New York Fashion Week. Spokespeople for the CFDA explained that this decision came as a response to “a growing number of designers whose collections are not delineated by gender”, which “reflects the cultural momentum.”
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Week 48; Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

The humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico worsened with the inadequate response by the federal government. Amid criticism, Trump threatened to pull out, but later backed off. Although the death count officially stands at 45, reporting revealed possibly hundreds more preventable deaths related to the Hurricane Maria.
Trump remains silent on both California’s deadliest wildfires and the deadliest combat incident since he took office. He continues to focus on undoing Obama’s legacy, piece-by-piece. The Mueller investigation hit Trump’s inner-circle, and social media’s role in aiding Russia continues to unfold.
  1. On Saturday night, Richard Spencer led another white supremacist torch-lit rally at University of Virginia. The rally lasted 10 minutes and 40-50 people attended. Spencer vowed, “we will keep coming back.”
  2. On Sunday, Trump attacked former ally Sen. Bob Corker in a series of incendiary tweets, saying “Corker “begged” me to endorse him for re-election” and “wanted to be Secretary of State.” Trump claimed to have said no to both.
  3. Corker responded, tweeting it’s a shame the WH has become an “adult day care center,” and that someone “missed their shift this morning.”
  4. On Sunday, Pence left a Colts game after a protest during the national anthem. Pence later issued a full statement opposing the protests. The Colts were playing the 49ers, a team known to protest.
  5. Before the game, Pence tweeted a photo of him and the Second Lady wearing Colts gear. The photo was one he originally tweeted in 2014.
  6. Shortly after, Trump tweeted he had asked Pence to leave the game “if any players kneeled,” and said he was proud of Pence and the Second Lady.
  7. The pool of journalists covering Pence were not allowed into the stadium, and were told, “there may be an early departure from the game.” ABC estimated Pence’s flight cost taxpayers nearly $250k.
  8. Bowing to pressure from Trump, the Cowboys’ Jerry Jones, after kneeling with players in week 3 of the season, changed course saying any player who “disrespects the flag” by kneeling will not be allowed to play.
  9. On Tuesday, Trump threatened the NFL over protests saying the league is “getting massive tax breaks” and the law should be changed. This claim is false: the NFL gave up its 501(c)(6) tax-exempt status in 2015.
  10. On Tuesday, bowing to pressure from Trump and fans, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who previously had said players had the right to voice their opinions, sided with owners opposed to letting players demonstrate.
  11. On Monday, Pence headlined a fundraiser in CA for Republicans including controversial, Kremlin-ally Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher had a previously undisclosed meeting in Russia with Veselnitskaya described in Week 47.
  12. University of Wisconsin approved a policy which calls for suspending or expelling students who disrupt campus speeches and presentations. The policy mirrors Republican legislation passed by the state Assembly.
  13. On Columbus Day, unlike Obama, Trump celebrated the “arrival of Europeans,” but did not mention of the suffering of Native Americans.
  14. On Sunday, the Trump’s DHS allowed the Jones Act waiver, which helped speed relief to Puerto Rico, to expire. No explanation was given.
  15. Trump’s EPA announced it would repeal the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The statement described the regulation as the “so-called Clean Power Plan.”
  16. On Friday, Trump addressed the Value Voters Summit hosted by the Family Research Council, which has been classified by SPLC as an anti-gay hate group. Trump is the first US leader to address the group.
  17. Reuters reported the Trump regime has been quietly cutting support for halfway houses for federal prisoners, severing contracts with as many as 16 facilities, necessitating some inmates stay behind bars longer.
  18. ABC reported the Treasury Dept’s inspector general is looking into allegations reported by BuzzFeed in Week 47 that agency officials have been illegally looking at private financial records of US citizens.
  19. A report compiled by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) at House and Senate Democrats’ request, found the Trump transition team ignored ethics officials and refused to cooperate with the GAO.
  20. Trump named Kathleen Hartnett White to the WH’s Council on Environmental Quality. Hartnett White, a climate science denier, once also said, “fossil fuels dissolved the economic justification for slavery.”
  21. In response to a filing by CREW, Trump’s DOJ told a court in DC that Trump can destroy records without judicial review, including tweets.
  22. Brian Brooks became the second candidate under consideration for deputy Treasury Secretary to withdraw from consideration. Mnuchin said he has no plans to fill the number two slot in his agency.
  23. WAPO reported at the Interior Dept, when Zinke enters the building a staffer takes the elevator to the seventh floor, climbs the stairs to the roof and puts up a special flag. The flag comes down when he leaves.
  24. On Wednesday, NBC reported Tillerson calling Trump a “moron” was provoked by Trump suggesting a tenfold increase in the US nuclear arsenal during a July 20 meeting with the high-ranking national security leaders.
  25. In response to the story which he called “Fake News,” Trump tweeted a threat to revoke the broadcasting licenses of “NBC and the Networks.”
  26. Later that afternoon, at a news conference, Trump again lashed out at the independent news media saying it’s “frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.”
  27. In a statement Wednesday night, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse asked Trump if he was “recanting” his oath to protect the First Amendment.
  28. Indiana Republican lawmaker Jim Lucas drafted a bill that would require professional journalists to be licensed by state police.
  29. Under pressure to confirm Trump’s judicial nominees, McConnell will no longer allow “blue slips,” used by senators to deny a nominee from their state a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and vote on confirmation.
  30. The Trump regime withdrew from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), citing anti-Israel bias and a being in arrears on a $550 million payment. Israel remains part of UNESCO.
  31. NYT published an interview with Corker in which he said Trump is treating his office like a “reality show” with reckless threats at other country that could put our country “on the path to World War III.”
  32. Corker said he is concerned about Trump, and Trump’s behavior should concern “anyone who cares about our nation.” He added there is no ‘good cop, bad cop’ underway with Tillerson — Trump is undermining diplomacy.
  33. Corker said nearly all Senate Republican share his concerns: “the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here.”
  34. WAPO reported Trump is frustrated by his cabinet and that he is not getting enough credit for his handling of three hurricanes. Trump is lashing out and rupturing alliances with both Republicans and Democrats.
  35. One confidant said Trump is like a whistling teapot, saying when he does not blow off steam, he can turn into a pressure cooker and explode: “I think we are in pressure cooker territory.”
  36. Politico quoted 10 sources current and former WH aides who employed strategies like delays and distractions as “guardrails” in trying to manage Trump’s impulsivity.
  37. Vanity Fair reported sources say Trump is “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling.” They say the WH is in crisis as advisers struggle to contain Trump who is increasingly unfocused and consumed by dark moods.
  38. Trump allegedly told his former bodyguard Schiller, “I hate everyone in the White House!” Kelly is allegedly miserable in the job, and is staying on in a sense of duty and to keep Trump from making disastrous decisions.
  39. One former official speculated Kelly and Mattis have discussed what they would do if Trump ordered a nuclear strike — “would they tackle him?”
  40. According to sources, Bannon said the risk to Trump’s presidency wasn’t impeachment, but the 25th Amendment. Bannon thinks Trump has only a 30% chance of making it the full term.
  41. In a column “What Bob Corker Sees in Trump,” conservative columnist Peggy Noonan urged Republicans they have a duty to speak on the record about what they see happening with Trump.
  42. On Thursday, at a signing ceremony for his health care executive order, Trump nearly walked out of the room without signing the order. Pence pulled him back in.
  43. On Tuesday, Trump said in an interview with Forbes that he could beat Tillerson in an IQ test. Trump met with Tillerson later that day at the WH.
  44. On Friday, Corker called out Trump for his effort to disempower Tillerson saying: “You cannot publicly castrate your own secretary of state without giving yourself that binary choice.”
  45. CNN’s Fareed Zakaria said, “It’s very clear now that we essentially have no diplomacy going on in the United States,” adding the way Trump has treated Tillerson is “the most dramatic example of it.”
  46. On CBS’s 60 Minutes, Parscale claimed he fine-tuned ads on Facebook to directly reach voters with the exact messages they cared most about. He also claimed he handpicked Republican Facebook employees to help.
  47. Daily Beast reported the Kremlin recruited two black video bloggers, Williams and Kalvin Johnson, to produce incendiary YouTube videos calling Hillary a racist. The videos were spread on social media platforms.
  48. WAPO reported Google has uncovered evidence about $100k of ads purchased by Russian agents to spread disinformation on across the company’s many products, including YouTube, during the 2016 election.
  49. Google said the ads do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-linked troll farm that bought ads on Facebook. Some ads touted Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Jill Stein, while others aimed to fan the flames of divisive issues.
  50. Rep. Devin Nunes, who recused himself as Chair of the House Intel Committee’s Russia probe, unilaterally signed off on subpoenas to Fusion GPS, the research firm that produced the Steele dossier. Democrats were not consulted.
  51. Reuters reported Chuck Grassley, the Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is also taking steps to discredit the dossier according to Democrats on the committee.
  52. Carter Page told the Senate Intel Committee that he will not cooperate with any requests to appear before the panel on Russia, and will plead the Fifth.
  53. Daily Beast reported the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is looking at Cambridge Analytica’s work from the Trump campaign as part of its Russian probe.
  54. Cambridge Analytica, which has ownership ties to the Mercers and Bannon, was brought in to help the campaign by Kushner. The company is also under investigation in the UK watchdog for its role in Brexit.
  55. NYT reported Israel caught Kaspersky Lab working with the Russian government to search the world for US secrets, using Kaspersky software to scan for classified words. Kaspersky software is used by 400 million people.
  56. WSJ reported that Russia’s use of the Kaspersky program to spy on the US is broader and more pervasive than the operation against one individual in Week 47. Trump continues to deny Russian meddling in the US election.
  57. Politico reported as part their posture to cooperate, Trump’s attorneys may offer Mueller a meeting with Trump. If Mueller doesn’t ask by Thanksgiving, attorneys may force the issue by volunteering his time.
  58. Legal experts were surprised by Trump’s lawyers strategy noting Trump would be speaking under oath and he routinely distorts facts, and that Trump would be interviewed in connection with a criminal investigation.
  59. CNN reported Russian operatives used YouTube, Tumblr, and even Pokémon Go as part of their effort to interfere in the election, using a campaign titled “Don’t Shoot Us” to spread a divisive message.
  60. NBC reported Manafort had a previously undisclosed $26 million loan from Deripaska through a series of transactions. It is unclear if the $26 million is a loan or an indirect payment from the Russian oligarch.
  61. The loan brings the total financial relationship between Manafort and Deripaska to $60 million over the past decade, according to financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.
  62. Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni, initially responded to NBC with a statement including: “Mr. Manafort is not indebted to former clients today, nor was he at the time he began working for the Trump campaign.”
  63. Maloni’s statement was later revised and that sentence was removed. Both Manafort and Maloni have received subpoenas to supply documents and testimony in the Mueller probe.
  64. Yahoo reported Andrew Feinberg, former correspondent for Sputnik, provided a guide and emails to FBI investigators looking into possible violations of the law which requires agents of foreign nations to register with the DOJ.
  65. Further, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is investigating RT and Sputnik as possible parts of the Russian state-run propaganda machine in the broader probe into Russia’s election meddling.
  66. On Friday, Mueller’s team interviewed Trump’s former chief of staff, Priebus. Priebus’ lawyer said he voluntarily met with investigators and “was happy to answer all of their questions.”
  67. Priebus was present during Trump’s efforts to limit the Russia probe, and for discussions that led to the firing of Comey. He was also asked to leave the Oval Office before the infamous Trump-Comey conversation.
  68. Politico reported Twitter deleted tweets and other user data of potentially irreplaceable value to investigators in the Russia probe.
  69. Federal investigators believe Twitter was one of Russia’s most potent weapons. Bots and fake accounts launched recurring waves of pro-Trump, anti-Clinton story lines that were either false or greatly exaggerated.
  70. AP reported Twitter has turned over 201 accounts linked to Russian attempts at influencing the 2016 election to Senate investigators. It is unclear if the posts associated with these accounts have been deleted.
  71. CNN reported an attorney for Roger Stone said he has complied with the House Intel Committee request to provide the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks’ Assange.
  72. WSJ reported Congressional investigators are homing in on connections between the Trump campaign, and Facebook, and Twitter. Digital director Parscale was paid $88 million during the campaign, the highest paid vendor.
  73. Every vendor that worked with Parscale on the Trump campaign signed a nondisclosure agreement, and there are no federal disclosure requirements for online ads.
  74. Both Congress and Mueller are investigating the role activity on Facebook and Twitter played in the 2016 election, and whether the Russian social-media activity was in any connected to the Trump campaign.
  75. A Morning Consult poll found Trump’s approval has fallen in every state since he took office. The swings were as high as 30 percentage points in blue-states IL and CA, to 11 points in red-state LA.
  76. A Reuters/Ipsos poll found Trump’s popularity is eroding in small towns and rural communities: in September 47 approve/47 disapprove, down from 55/39 in his first four weeks in office.
  77. WAPO reported as of October 10, Trump’s first 263 days in office, he has made 1,318 false or misleading claims.
  78. The Brookings Institute released a 108-page report which concluded Trump “likely obstructed justice” in his firing of Comey. If Mueller agrees, there are legitimate articles of impeachment that could be drawn up.
  79. In a letter to Mattis, over 100 Democrats are demanding proof that Trump did indeed consult with the Pentagon as he claimed in a tweet, prior to announcing his ban of transgender individuals from military service.
  80. A Kaiser Foundation poll found 62% of Americans say Puerto Ricans aren’t getting the help they need. 76% were aware Puerto Ricans are US citizens.
  81. On Thursday, in a series of tweets, Trump threatened to abandon Puerto Rico’s recovery effort, blaming the island for its infrastructure problems and saying and relief workers would not stay “in P.R. forever.”
  82. The tweets follow harsh criticism from Puerto Rico of the Trump regime’s response to Hurricane Maria. One Puerto Rican said, “He doesn’t think of us as Americans.”
  83. Trump also quoted a Sharyl Attkisson, a television journalist with Sinclair Broadcasting, in saying that while Puerto Rico survived Hurricane Maria, now “a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.”
  84. Later Thursday, the WH issued a statement committing “the full force of the U.S. government” for now, but adding “successful recoveries do not last forever.”
  85. At a House Energy and Commerce hearing about efforts to rebuild the island’s energy grid, Sec. Rick Perry referred to Puerto Rico as a country.
  86. Next day, Trump referred to the Virgin Islands’ governor as a president.
  87. VOX reported although the official death count in Puerto Rico is 45, they found 81 death linked to Hurricane Maria, as well as 450 more reported deaths, most of causes still unknown, and 69 still missing.
  88. Puerto Rico’s governor said four deaths are being investigated as cases of leptospirosis, a disease spread by animals’ urine through contaminated water. A total of ten people have come down with the disease.
  89. Rachel Maddow reported a doctor resigned from the disaster response team in Puerto Rico after seeing medical workers getting manicures and pedicures from residents of the island in medical triage tents.
  90. NYT reported on Puerto Rico’s health care is in dire condition, and continues to suffer from mismanagement. The US Comfort ship with 800 medical personnel which can serve 250, has seen 82 patients in six days.
  91. CNN reported Puerto Ricans are drinking water from a hazardous-waste site, having no other options for water.
  92. A Politico/Morning Consult poll found just 32% of registered voters think the federal government has done enough to help Puerto Rico.
  93. Bloomberg revealed one of its reporters was inadvertently put on the Pentagon’s internal email list which detailed how to spin Hurricane Maria to convince the public that the government response was going well.
  94. On Thursday, Trump also signed an executive order ending Obamacare subsidies for the poor. Not paying the subsidies could boost premiums for millions and send the health insurance exchanges into turmoil.
  95. NPR estimated consumers who earn 400% of the federal poverty level — $48k for individuals or $98.4k for a family of four — will see their the cost of their plans rise by, on average, 20% nationwide.
  96. Doctors, hospitals, insurers, state insurance commissioners and patient advocates denounced Trump’s move. Trump actions puts pressure on Congress to protect consumers from soaring premiums.
  97. WSJ reported if Congress doesn’t succeed, WH aides said Trump “will claim victory” for ending the Iran deal, cutting billions in payments to health insurers, and deporting hundreds of thousands of immigrants.
  98. On Friday, a coalition of attorneys general from 18 states and DC filed a lawsuit to block Trump’s halt to subsidy payments under Obamacare.
  99. NYT reported as of Friday, Trump has taken 12 actions which could weaken Obamacare and curtail enrollment, including spreading negative news releases and posting infographics criticizing the health law.
  100. On Saturday, Trump boasted on Twitter that health insurance companies’ stocks “plunged yesterday” after his steps to dismantle Obamacare.
  101. A Kaiser Health poll found 71% of Americans say the Trump regime should work to improve Obamacare, while just 21% say make it fail.
  102. On Friday, Trump slammed Iran as a “menace” and called for “decertification” of the nuclear deal, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), saying Iran is “not living up to the spirit of the deal.”
  103. Trump sent the deal back to Congress with a 60-day window to address its “many serious flaws” or see it “terminated.”
  104. Top officials on Trump’s national security team, including Mattis and Tillerson, said Iran has technically complied with its restrictions. The International Atomic Energy Association also confirmed compliance.
  105. Daily Beast reported while McMaster also wanted to save the Iran Deal, Trump consulted Fox News’ Sean Hannity and former UN Ambassador John Bolton, two neoconservatives who pushed for decertification.
  106. The leaders of Britain, Germany and France declared their commitment to stand by JCPoA. They deal was the culmination of 16 years of diplomacy.
  107. After being added to Trump’s travel ban, Chad pulled its troops from the fight against Boko Haram in Niger. US officials had warned Trump his decision would have major consequences for the fight against terrorism.
  108. California’s deadliest wildfires charred more than 221,754 acres of land in Northern CA, and left at least 35 dead and hundreds more missing. Trump has yet to publicly comment or tweet about the wildfires.
  109. Nor has Trump publicly commented on the deadliest combat incident since he took office, which took place in Niger last Saturday while Trump was golfing. The ambush by ISIS left four soldiers dead and two wounded.
  110. As the week ended, 24 days after Hurricane Maria, just 64% of Puerto Ricans had access to drinking water, and only 14.6% had electricity.
  111. Trump spent his fourth weekend since Hurricane Maria golfing. On Saturday, he visited Trump National Golf Club in VA, his 72nd day of golf since taking office.
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