Trump’s Family Trips Cost Taxpayers Nearly As Much In A Month As Obama’s Cost In A Whole Year
Niall McCarthy, Contributor
Data journalist covering technological, societal and media topics
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Feb 22, 2017 @ 08:21 AM 502,068
Donald Trump’s regular jaunts to his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida appear to be costing taxpayers a small fortune. The president’s three trips have probably cost the federal Treasury about $10 million, the Washington Post estimates, based on an October 2016 Government Accountability Office analysis of White House travel.
By comparison, Barack Obama’s travel expenses averaged just $12.1 million during each year of his presidency. In total, Obama’s eight year travel bill came to $97 million and unbelievably, Donald Trump is on pace to outspend him in less than one year. The Washington Post says “the elaborate lifestyle of America’s first family is straining the Secret Service and security officials, stirring financial and logistical concerns in several local communities, and costing far beyond what has been typical for previous presidents.”
Before he became America’s commander in chief, Trump frequently criticized Obama’s travel expenses on Fox News and via his Twitter account.
“President @BarackObama’s vacation is costing taxpayers millions of dollars——Unbelievable!”
Interestingly, in Trump’s first formal interview after his election victory with CBS’s 60 Minutes, he said, “I don’t think we’ll be very big on vacations, no.” After a stressful start to his stint in the White House, however, Trump seems to have changed his mind.
The FBI Infiltrated Trump Campaign In 2016 With Secret Subpoenas And Government Informants
Russia Scandal Posted on Wed, May 16th, 2018 by Sean Colarossi
The FBI has been building its case against the Trump campaign since well before Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation was established roughly a year ago.
According to The New York Times, the bureau carried out a secret mission in the summer of 2016, dispatching two agents to London “on a mission so secretive that all but a handful of officials were kept in the dark.”
The Times notes that the reason for the mission was that the Australian ambassador claimed to have evidence that the Trump campaign knew about Russia’s election interference in advance.
More from the report:
Their assignment, which has not been previously reported, was to meet the Australian ambassador, who had evidence that one of Donald J. Trump’s advisers knew in advance about Russian election meddling. After tense deliberations between Washington and Canberra, top Australian officials broke with diplomatic protocol and allowed the ambassador, Alexander Downer, to sit for an F.B.I. interview to describe his meeting with the campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos.
The agents summarized their highly unusual interview and sent word to Washington on Aug. 2, 2016, two days after the investigation was opened. Their report helped provide the foundation for a case that, a year ago Thursday, became the special counsel investigation. But at the time, a small group of F.B.I. officials knew it by its code name: Crossfire Hurricane.
Secret subpoenas and government informants
Another element of The Times report that should worry the president’s team is the fact that the FBI got its hands on campaign phone records and even had one government informant meet with Trump aides Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.
According to the report, “The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents using national security letters — a secret type of subpoena — officials said. And at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said.”
The president’s shameless apologists will likely point to this as evidence that the FBI – or deep state, as they call it – was trying to derail the Trump campaign. In reality, the steps taken by the FBI show how seriously the bureau was taking this from the very beginning.
In other words, without serious evidence of criminal wrongdoing, none of this would have unfolded in the first place.
Trump and his supporters shouldn’t be giddy that today’s reporting somehow proves their hysteria about the FBI. It doesn’t. Instead, they should be shaking in their boots about the fact that the bureau had enough evidence to carry out these activities.
The president and his allies will almost certainly continue to wage war on Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein, but this inquiry was clearly well underway before the two men were central to this explosive investigation.
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The U.S. blocked a UN Security Council resolution calling for an investigation into the 58 Palestinians killed by Israeli troops during protests along the Gaza border. We have thrown away any moral high ground.
Watergate investigation: 2 yrs; Iran/Contra:4; Whitewater: 6; Benghazi: 4; MuellerRussia: 1+ (75 charges; 5 guilty so far)
Cambridge Analytica liquidates
Friday, May 18
NEW YORK (AP) — Cambridge Analytica, the beleaguered data collection agency that worked for President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, is liquidating operations.
The British firm filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection late Thursday. It said in a New York court filing that its assets totaled $100,001 to $500,000. Its liabilities are between $1 million and $10 million and it has between one and 49 creditors.
The filing is signed by Jennifer and Rebekah Mercer, sisters who are majority shareholders of Cambridge Analytica. Their father is billionaire Robert Mercer, a Republican mega-donor with close ties to Trump. He sold his stake in the pro-Trump website Breitbart News to Jennifer and Rebekah Mercer in late 2017.
Cambridge Analytica has come under scrutiny for possible links to the federal probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 president election and fallen into the crosshairs of special counsel Robert Mueller.
Cambridge Analytica filed papers to begin insolvency proceedings in the U.K. earlier this month. At the time, it blamed “unfairly negative media coverage” and said it had been “vilified” for actions it said were both legal and widely accepted as part of online advertising.
Cambridge Analytica has insisted that none of the Facebook data it acquired from an academic researcher was used in the Trump campaign. The company was able to amass the database quickly with the help of an app that purported to be a personality test. The app collected data on tens of millions of people and their Facebook friends, even those who did not download the app themselves.
Facebook has since tightened its privacy restrictions, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in two days of hearings. Facebook also has suspended other companies for using similar tactics. One is Cubeyou, which makes personality quizzes. That company has said it did nothing wrong and is seeking reinstatement.
Cambridge Analytica suspended CEO Alexander Nix in March pending an investigation after Nix boasted of various services to an undercover reporter for Britain’s Channel 4 News. Channel 4 News broadcast clips that showed Nix saying his data-mining firm played a major role in securing Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential elections.
Acting CEO Alexander Tayler also stepped down in April and returned to his previous post as chief data officer.
On Thursday British lawmakers investigating the use of Facebook users’ data in political campaigns said that Nix accepted a summons to appear before Parliament’s media committee. He will appear on June 6.
Separately, it was announced that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will meet with leaders of the European Parliament in a closed-door meeting Tuesday about the data protection scandal that has engulfed his company.
Cambridge Analytica ran voter suppression campaigns, whistleblower claims
By Donie O’Sullivan and Drew Griffin, CNN
Thu May 17, 2018
Washington (CNN)The whistleblower whose disclosures about Cambridge Analytica shook the tech world over questions about users’ data privacy told Congress on Wednesday that the company engaged in efforts to discourage or suppress voting.
Christopher Wylie, a former Cambridge Analytica employee who blew the whistle on its alleged misuse of Facebook data, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the company offered services to discourage voting from targeted sections of the American population.
“Mr. Bannon sees cultural warfare as the means to create enduring change in American politics. It was for this reason Mr. Bannon engaged SCL (Cambridge Analytica’s parent company), a foreign military contractor, to build an arsenal of informational weapons he could deploy on the American population,” Wylie claimed, referring to Trump’s former top political adviser Steve Bannon.
Christopher Wylie swears in to a Senate Judiciary Committee
Wylie did not provide specific evidence of voter suppression campaigns taking place in the US. But when asked by Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, if one of Bannon’s “goals was to suppress voting or discourage certain individuals in the US from voting,” Wylie replied, “That was my understanding, yes.”
After the hearing, Wylie told CNN that although he did not take part in voter suppression activities, he alleged that African-Americans were particular targets of Cambridge Analytica’s “voter disengagement tactics,” which he said were used to “discourage or demobilize certain types of people from voting,” and that campaigns and political action committees requested voter suppression from Cambridge Analytica.
CNN has reached out to Bannon for comment.
Alleged Russian ties
Wylie also outlined during his testimony how he believed it may have been possible for the Facebook data of American voters to have been obtained by entities in Russia.
Wylie highlighted how Cambridge University professor Aleksandr Kogan — who has told CNN he gathered information on 30 million Americans through his Facebook personality test app in 2014, which he then passed to Cambridge Analytica — made numerous trips to Russia, in part a result of his work with St. Petersburg University.
Wylie said he believed it was possible that Cambridge Analytica was a target of the Russian security services and that Kogan’s computer could have been hacked during his visits there.
Scientist: Didn't know data used to target voters
Scientist: Didn’t know data used to target voters 02:23
In response, Kogan told CNN, “Mr. Wylie is confusing fantasy for probable” and said he did not travel to Russia while he was working for Cambridge Analytica in 2014.
“Mr. Wylie has proven once again that he has a very active imagination without actual knowledge to back it up. As with his claims about the usefulness of the data, his claims here also quickly fall apart under any sensible scrutiny,” Kogan told CNN.
After the hearing, Wylie said he was happy both Republican and Democratic lawmakers had attended.
“Although Cambridge Analytica may have supported particular candidates in US elections, I am not here to point fingers. The firm’s political leanings are far less relevant than the broader vulnerabilities this scandal has exposed,” his written testimony read.
Among lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee questioning Wylie were Republican Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Ted Cruz of Texas. Both have operated campaigns that were Cambridge Analytica clients.
Cambridge Analytica announced earlier this month that it was shutting down its operations and would announce bankruptcy proceedings.
Controversy around Cambridge Analytica’s alleged misuse of Facebook data raised a host of new questions about the social media giant’s role in the public discourse and elections, and helped prompt renewed scrutiny in Washington, where last month Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before committees in both houses of Congress.
On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Cambridge Analytica was under investigation by the Department of Justice and the FBI.
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