Giuliani: Trump would fight subpoena, not pardon himself
By JONATHAN LEMIRE
Sunday, June 3
WASHINGTON (AP) — An attorney for President Donald Trump stressed Sunday that the president’s legal team would contest any effort to force the president to testify in front of a grand jury during the special counsel’s Russia probe but downplayed the idea that Trump could pardon himself.
Rudy Giuliani, in a series of television interviews, emphasized one of the main arguments in a newly unveiled letter sent by Trump’s lawyers to special counsel Robert Mueller back in January: that a president can’t be given a grand jury subpoena as part of the investigation into foreign meddling in the 2016 election.
But he distanced himself from one of their bolder arguments in the letter, which was first reported Saturday by The New York Times, that a president could not have committed obstruction of justice because he has authority to “if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon.”
“Pardoning himself would be unthinkable and probably lead to immediate impeachment,” Giuliani told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” ”And he has no need to do it, he’s done nothing wrong.”
The former New York City mayor, who was not on the legal team when the letter was written, added that Trump “probably does” have the power to pardon himself, an assertion challenged by legal scholars, but says the president’s legal team hasn’t discussed that option, which many observers believe could plunge the nation into a constitutional crisis.
“I think the political ramifications would be tough,” Giuliani told ABC’s “This Week.” ”Pardoning other people is one thing, pardoning yourself is tough.”
Trump has issued two unrelated pardons in recent days and discussed others, a move that has been interpreted as a possible signal to allies ensnared in the Russia probe.
The letter is dated Jan. 29 and addressed to Mueller from John Dowd, a Trump lawyer who has since resigned from the legal team. Mueller has requested an interview with the president to determine whether he had criminal intent to obstruct the investigation into his associates’ possible links to Russia’s election interference.
Giuliani said Sunday that a decision about an interview would not be made until after Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore, and he cast doubt that it would occur at all.
“I mean, we’re leaning toward not,” Giuliani told ABC. “But look, if they can convince us that it will be brief, it would be to the point, there were five or six points they have to clarify, and with that, we can get this — this long nightmare for the — for the American public over.”
Trump’s legal team has long pushed the special counsel to narrow the scope of its interview. Giuliani also suggested that Trump’s lawyers had been incorrect when they denied that the president was involved with the letter that offered an explanation for Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians who offered damaging information on Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“This is the reason you don’t let the president testify,” Giuliani told ABC. “Our recollection keeps changing, or we’re not even asked a question and somebody makes an assumption.”
If Trump does not consent to an interview, Mueller will have to decide whether to go forward with a historic grand jury subpoena. His team raised the possibility in March of subpoenaing the president, but it is not clear if it is still under active consideration.
A court battle is likely if Trump’s team argues that the president can’t be forced to answer questions or be charged with obstruction of justice. President Bill Clinton was charged with obstruction in 1998 by the House of Representatives as part of his impeachment trial. And one of the articles of impeachment prepared against President Richard Nixon in 1974 was for obstruction.
Giuliani suggested Sunday that, despite the president’s broad powers, a theoretical charge of obstruction may be possible in some cases. Topics of Mueller’s obstruction investigation include the firings of FBI director James Comey and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, as well as Trump’s reaction to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation.
In addition to the legal battles, Trump’s team and allies have waged a public relations campaign against Mueller and the Justice Department to discredit the investigation and soften the impact of the special counsel’s potential findings. Giuliani said last week that the special counsel probe may be an “entirely illegitimate investigation” and need to be curtailed because, in his estimation, it was based on inappropriately obtained information from an informant and Comey’s memos.
In reality, the FBI began a counterintelligence investigation in July 2016 to determine if Trump campaign associates were coordinating with Russia to tip the election. The investigation was opened after the hacking of Democratic emails that intelligence officials later formally attributed to Russia.
Trump’s team has asked for a briefing about the informant, but Giuliani said Sunday that the president would not order the Justice Department to comply because it would negatively affect public opinion. But he continued to cast doubt on the special counsel’s eventual findings, suggesting that Trump has already offered explanations for the matters being investigated and that the special counsel was biased against the president.
“For every one of these things he did, we can write out five reasons why he did it,” Giuliani said. “If four of them are completely innocent and one of them is your assumption that it’s a guilty motive, which (Trump) would deny, you can’t possibly prosecute him.”
The special counsel’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump, who was spending a rainy Washington weekend at Camp David, also unleashed a new attack on the Justice Department, which he has repeatedly painted as corrupt and biased against him.
“As only one of two people left who could become President, why wouldn’t the FBI or Department of “Justice” have told me that they were secretly investigating Paul Manafort (on charges that were 10 years old and had been previously dropped) during my campaign? Should have told me!” Trump tweeted.
Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign chairman, faces charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent and money-laundering conspiracy and also two false-statement charges related to information he shared with the Justice Department about his Ukrainian political work. Trump has argued that the claims predate Manafort’s involvement with his Republican campaign. The FBI has not said it told the campaign about the investigation, though the bureau did provide a routine briefing for the campaign about foreign counterintelligence threats.
Associated Press writers Chad Day and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.
Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twtter.com/JonLemire
It’s Time for Trump Voters to Face the Bitter Truth
Republicans elected a president who promised to take on D.C.—instead, Trump has presided over an extraordinary auction of access and influence.
May 11, 2018 Politics
Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” while running for office. Voters gave him the opportunity to follow through when they propelled him to the White House. Instead, he surrounded himself with people who saw his victory as an opportunity to enrich themselves by selling the promise of access or influence.
This betrayal of the American public warrants more attention. Trump voters who wanted to rid Washington of sellouts should be most upset, but no one wants to admit that the person they voted for was misrepresenting his intentions. And those who rely on commentators like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, and Tucker Carlson for information lack many relevant facts.
Here’s what Trump voters should know. Michael Cohen was the president’s personal attorney. He stepped up when someone was needed to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels on the eve of the election, even using a shell corporation created under a pseudonym to hide the matter.
But that corporation wasn’t just for paying off the pornography actress. He also used it to receive huge sums of money from folks with powerful interests in influencing the U.S. government. “A Korean defense company competing for a U.S. contract said it paid him $150,000 to advise it on accounting practices,” The Washington Post reported earlier this week. “A global pharmaceutical company said it paid him $1.2 million to provide insight into health-care policy—money it said it was required to keep paying even after concluding that Cohen had little to offer. A telecommunication company said it turned to him simply to better understand the Trump administration.”
A powerful law firm paid him $500,000.
And there were $4.4 million that flowed to Cohen from a New York investment firm “whose biggest client is a company controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, the Russian oligarch.” What were these people were paying so much money to buy?
Then there’s Corey Lewandowski, the pugnacious, righteously indignant man who presided for a time over Trump’s presidential campaign. What did he do after its Make America Great Again, “drain the swamp” message won the day?
Even before Inauguration Day, he set up a lobbying firm in Washington. “A firm co-founded by Donald Trump’s original campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appears to have been pitching clients around the world by offering not only policy and political advice, but also face time with President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and senior members of their administration,” Politico reported last year. For a price, he would help foreigners get better insights into Trump than were available to most Americans.
What a sellout! But he was hardly unique.
Back in 2016, “established K Street firms were grabbing any Trump people they could find,” Nick Confessore reported in “How to Get Rich in Trump’s Washington,” a feature for The New York Times Magazine. “Jim Murphy, Trump’s former political director, joined the lobbying giant BakerHostetler, while another firm, Fidelis Government Relations, struck up a partnership with Bill Smith, Mike Pence’s former chief of staff. All told, close to 20 ex-aides of Trump, friends, and hangers-on had made their way into Washington’s influence business.”
Brian Ballard, a longtime Trump acquaintance, seems to have leveraged his relationship to the president most profitably. The Turkish government is among his firm’s many clients. Politico says Turkey pays $125,000 per month. Why does it find that price worthwhile?
George David Banks was a top energy aide to Donald Trump who came from the world of lobbying. But he quit his job in the White House when he couldn’t get a security clearance. Here’s what he told E&E News, an energy trade publication: “Going back to be a full-time swamp creature is certainly an attractive option.” Then he rejoined his former post at the American Council for Capital Formation, a think tank and lobbying group. I guess he wasn’t joking.
Remember when Trump told you that he would release his tax returns and then never did? Remember when he said that if he won the election he would put his business interests aside? “Ever since Trump and his family arrived in Washington they have essentially hung a for-sale sign on the White House by refusing to meaningfully separate themselves from their own business interests,” Bloomberg’s Tim O’Brien notes. “That’s certainly not lost on the companies that do business in or with Washington. They know that in Trump’s swamp, you pay-to-play.”
Much of this will surprise folks who get all of their news from Fox commentators and talk-radio hosts, with whom they are in a dysfunctional relationship.
The GOP base is drawn to media figures who support their president and quickly turn on those who criticize him as if they are guilty of a betrayal; for that reason, many populist-right pundits are reluctant to criticize the president or to delve deeply into the behavior of the swamp creatures he has enabled. Instead, they pander to the GOP base, keep them in the dark about important corruption—and so fail to keep the president and his associates accountable. That very betrayal of their audience is what creates the illusion of their loyalty.
I opposed electing Trump, but I’m always 100 percent honest with his supporters. And when I give specific examples of how he has failed to drain the swamp, some lash out at me for telling them truths that they don’t want to face, or angrily change the subject by pointing out that various establishment politicians have been guilty of flagrant cronyism in the past. Well, duh.
The folks who supported those bygone politicians anyway harmed the country. Does the GOP rank and file want to be just like the folks they used to criticize or be better?
Bygone Democratic misdeeds don’t change the fact that Trump’s behavior is hurting America––and that he won’t change until his supporters demand a higher standard. If the GOP base persists in blinding itself to the unethical people who trade on their relationships with the current president, America will continue to be sold out by the very faction that swore it would make it great again.
Wake up, Trump supporters—your country needs you to hold the man you elected accountable to his promises rather than blindly defending him to own liberals. Demand better or your country suffers.
Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.
Mutually Nonconsensual Sex — Caitlin Flanagan
Is it possible for two people to simultaneously sexually assault each other? This is the question—rife with legal, anatomical, and emotional improbabilities—to which the University of Cincinnati now addresses itself, and with some urgency, as the institution and three of its employees are currently being sued over an encounter that was sexual for a brief moment, but that just as quickly entered the realm of eternal return. The one important thing you need to know about the case is that according to the lawsuit, a woman has been indefinitely suspended from college because she let a man touch her vagina. What kind of sexually repressive madness could have allowed for this to happen? Answer that question and you will go a long way toward answering the question, “What is happening on American college campuses?”
The Antidote to Trump Is Decency — David Frum
Start with what you already know: It’s hypocritical in the extreme for President Trump to denounce entertainers for using language demeaning to women. When he complains that Samantha Bee has spoken insultingly of his favorite daughter, he does so as a man who has said worse of literally dozens of women who irritated him, rebuffed his advances, or failed to meet his ideals of female beauty. Nobody in American politics—nobody in most of our lifetimes in politics—has demeaned women as grossly as Donald Trump. Contempt for women is one of the guiding rules of his life: “When you’re a star, they let you do it.”
As I said, you knew that.
You also, I hope, understand that there is a huge difference between the words of most people on Twitter and those of the president of the United States, who commands the vast coercive power of the executive branch of the federal government. When Trump demands the NFL silence protest, or that an ABC executive grovel to him, or that TimeWarner fire Samantha Bee, he is not expressing an opinion. He is threatening a hostile use of state power against individuals or corporations vulnerable to that power.
The Trumpian Dissonance of Kanye West’s ‘Violent Crimes’ — Hannah Giorgis
Kanye West, who took to the rugged plains of Wyoming to produce and later premiere his latest album, Ye, ends his predictably bellicose new record with a woman’s voice. As the Phil Collins-esque “Violent Crimes” winds down, a voicemail from Nicki Minaj abruptly pierces the silence the lullaby leaves behind. Her voice a crescendo of aggression, Minaj echoes lines West had rapped earlier: “I’m sayin’ it like … / I want a daughter like Nicki / Aww man, I promise / I’ma turn her to a monster, but no menagés / I don’t know how you saying it, but let ‘em hear this.”
The lines, which reference the still-resonant triumph of Minaj’s verse on West’s 2010 “Monster” as a benchmark of success, may very well have come from the rapper herself. In her voice, the admonition that West’s hypothetical daughter avoid the sexual act from which Minaj draws her own stage sounds protective, but almost tongue-in-cheek. When the lines appear earlier in the song though, coming from West, the context in which they’re presented does little to offset the indelicacy of discussing a child’s future sex life. Kanye’s daughters aren’t hypothetical; neither North nor Chicago West exists solely as a symbolic totem of Kanye’s putative redemption from his time among the “players,” “pimps,” and “monsters.” But in “Violent Crimes,” the last song he premiered Thursday night in Wyoming, West attempts to undo years of his own misogyny—much of which is on full display throughout the same album—by offering his fatherly ambitions as some sort of mea culpa for having worshipped at the altar of his own manhood.
The Outrage Over Trump’s Market-Shaking Tweet — Russell Berman
On its face, the tweet was one of the most innocuous President Trump has ever sent—a plain-vanilla reminder early Friday morning that the monthly federal jobs report was coming out in an hour’s time.
“Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning,” the president wrote at 7:21 a.m. ET.
No exclamation points. No all-caps. No gratuitous insults, partisan jabs, or demands that his opponents be investigated.
For Trump, this was boring, even low-energy. Except this nothing-burger of a tweet may have moved billions, if not trillions, of dollars on the global market and sent the community of economists and investors who scrutinize the jobs report into a tizzy.
At precisely 8:30 a.m. ET on the first Friday of every month, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics releases a summary of employment in the United States. The data is culled from two separate reports that show, among other things, how many jobs the private and public sectors gained or lost in the previous month and whether wages went up or down. The headline figure is almost always the national unemployment rate, which in May fell to an 18-year-low of 3.8 percent.
New York Times Editorial Board
IF YOU ARE PRESIDENT, YOU MAY NOW:
Use your unsecured personal cellphone to call, among others, media personalities who parrot your talking points — and when you’re told this is a security risk, refuse to stop, saying that would be “too inconvenient”
Say that professional athletes who don’t stand during the national anthem perhaps “shouldn’t be in the country”
Fire your veterans affairs secretary by tweet, then pick as his replacement the White House doctor, who turns out to have a disqualifying history of alcohol abuse and handing out strong drugs
Hold a meeting with top Justice Department officials about a continuing criminal investigation into your campaign, seeking to force them to act in your personal legal interest
Falsely claim your approval rating among black Americans has doubled
Tell Americans to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day “with acts of civic work and community service,” and then play golf at your private course
Tell reporters who question your racial views, “I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”
Mockingly imitate the accent of the Indian prime minister
Call politicians of the opposing party “treasonous” and “un-American” for declining to stand and clap during your State of the Union speech
Accuse an F.B.I. official of “treason” for sending a joke in a private text message that you take out of context
Be described by your future E.P.A. chief as likely to be “more abusive to the Constitution than Barack Obama”
Be described by your current chief of staff as “uninformed” on immigration policy
Make more than 3,000 false or misleading claims in less than 16 months in office
Try at least twice to fire the special counsel investigating you, and back off only when your White House counsel refuses to do it
When accused of obstructing justice, say you are just “fighting back”
Keep an alleged domestic abuser on the White House staff and promote him, even after the F.B.I. denied him full security clearance because of the allegations, and then after he is gone, talk about your hopes of bringing him back on staff
Blame a high school gun massacre on the F.B.I. because it is “spending too much time” investigating your campaign’s possible collusion with a foreign power
Suggest that a law enforcement officer who failed to stop the massacre was a “coward,” that sheriff’s deputies who responded to the attack were “disgusting” and a “disgrace” — and later claim, despite dodging the draft because of bone spurs in your heels, that you would have rushed in, even without a weapon
Solicit campaign donations using a photo of yourself posing with a survivor of the massacre
Say, with regard to mentally ill people who own firearms, “Take the guns first, go through due process second”
Attack Amazon and other American companies, causing their stocks to plunge
Kick a journalist out of a press conference for asking you a question you don’t like
Threaten to take away the press credentials of reporters who publish stories you don’t like
Congratulate the Russian president on his sham election victory even after aides warn you, “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” and, when you call him, fail to mention Russia’s meddling in your election
Ask the deputy director of the F.B.I., in a private Oval Office conversation, whom he voted for in the last election —and later say of the request, “I don’t think it’s a big deal”
Ask the deputy director of the F.B.I. how his wife, who was defeated in a campaign for political office, feels being a “loser”
Tell your attorney general to pressure the F.B.I. director to fire his deputy
Call your attorney general “DISGRACEFUL” on Twitter and “Mr. Magoo” in private, for following department procedure
Ask the deputy attorney general if he is “on your team”
Choose a pastor to lead a prayer at the opening of a new American Embassy in Jerusalem who previously said Jews are going to hell
Resist accounting for more than $100 million raised for your inaugural celebration
Require senior White House staff to sign nondisclosure agreements that are supposed to last beyond your presidency
Say of unaccompanied migrant children at the American border, “They look so innocent. They’re not innocent.”
Work to discredit multiple F.B.I. officials
Permit the public release of a sensitive memo prepared by your protectors on the House Intelligence Committee, who won’t even show the memo to the F.B.I. or Senate
Stream on your re-election campaign website a live list of donors giving money during your State of the Union speech
Claim that your speech was the most watched ever when it wasn’t
Tweet that you “hereby demand” the Department of Justice investigate the F.B.I. for supposedly infiltrating your campaign for “political purposes”
Tell the Pentagon you want a military parade “like the one in France”
Call a leading member of Congress “the leakin’ monster of no control” and accuse him, baselessly, of a crime
Call the former F.B.I. director, whom you fired for refusing to end an investigation into possible illegal acts by your campaign, a “weak and untruthful slime ball” and accuse him of committing crimes
Mock the outgoing deputy director of the F.B.I. after your attorney general fires him, two days before he would have been eligible for a full government pension
Trade threats of physical violence with a former vice president
Hire an attorney who publicly endorsed a conspiracy theory that the F.B.I. framed you
Hire another attorney who floats the prospect of presidential pardons to lawyers for top aides of yours who have pled guilty to or been indicted on federal charges during an investigation into your campaign
Hire another attorney whose office gets raided by federal authorities, then denounce the raid as an “attack on our country in a true sense”
Lie about having no knowledge of a $130,000 hush payment that your lawyer made, in the weeks before your election, to a porn actress who claims she had sex with you while your wife was at home caring for your newborn son, then later admit that you paid the money back in full, even though you omitted it on your financial disclosure form, possibly violating federal law — and even though you also didn’t sign the nondisclosure agreement that you now are trying to invoke in order to keep the porn actress silent
Stand by your E.P.A. administrator even when he is mired in ethics scandals and everyone is telling you to fire him
Make frequent misstatements of fact about a special counsel’s investigation into you and your campaign
Go more than 400 days without holding a solo press conference at the White House
When asked why you relentlessly attack the press, say, “I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you”
AND ALL OF THAT IS JUST FROM THE PAST FOUR MONTHS OR SO. IN ADDITION, THE PRESIDENT IS NOW ABLE TO:
Imply, without evidence, that a television anchor was involved in a murder
Question the authenticity of a recording of you bragging about sexual assault, even though you previously admitted it was real
Say the F.B.I.’s reputation is “in tatters — worst in history” and call members of the intelligence community “political hacks”
Retweet inflammatory and fake anti-Muslim videos from an ultranationalist British group
Call the American justice system a “joke” and a “laughingstock”
Ask, in a meeting with lawmakers on immigration policy, “Why are we having all these people from (expletive) countries come here?,” referring to Africa, and “Why do we want people from Haiti here? Take them out.”
Make fun of a military flag ceremony
Retweet a doctored photo of yourself with the name of a national news organization splattered on the bottom of your shoe
Continue to call for a criminal investigation of your former political opponent, whom you call the “worst (and biggest) loser of all time” a year after the election
Exploit a White House event honoring Native American veterans to mock a senator with a racially charged slur
Change a critical element of your explanation for firing your national security adviser
Shut down a bogus voter-fraud commission because “Democrat states” refuse to turn over necessary information, even though states with both Democratic and Republican leadership did, and for good reason
Tell your rich friends after your tax bill passes, “You all just got a lot richer”
Tell your attorney general not to recuse himself from overseeing an investigation into your campaign, then when he does anyway, call it “a terrible thing”
Falsely claim that your predecessor failed to contact the families of fallen soldiers, and then exploit the death of your chief of staff’s son to defend yourself
Threaten to take away a TV network’s broadcast license for reporting on your deliberations about the nation’s nuclear arsenal
Threaten to use federal tax law to punish a professional sports league for letting its players express political opinions
Tell reporters that “It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write, and people should look into it”
Warn American citizens in Puerto Rico, only weeks after a catastrophic hurricane, that the federal government can’t help them out “forever,” even as you tell victims of a hurricane in Texas, “We are with you today, we are with you tomorrow, and we will be with you EVERY SINGLE DAY AFTER, to restore, recover, and REBUILD!”
While debating policy with lawmakers on live television, accidentally agree to a deal that is the opposite of what your party wants, get corrected by the House majority leader, and then release an official White House transcript that omits the exchange
Insult people, places and things constantly
Say that your former White House adviser and campaign chief has “lost his mind,” after another former adviser and campaign manager is indicted on money laundering and other federal charges
Claim that a new tax bill you support will “cost me a fortune,” even though it will probably save you millions, but who knows since you refuse to release your tax returns
Fail to grasp the basic science of climate change
Take credit for the fact that no one died on a domestic commercial airliner during your first year in office
Tell attendees at a rally to be “happy you voted for me,” and that they are “so lucky that I gave you that privilege”
Continue to mock foreign leaders by implying that they are, among other things, “short and fat”
After helping to negotiate the release of college athletes arrested in China, say “I should have left them in jail” after the father of one of them — whom you call “the poor man’s version of Don King” — doesn’t express proper gratitude
Get in a Twitter fight with a senator of your own party, during which you mock his height
Praise the delivery to Norway of fighter planes that exist only in a video game
Call for the firing of a journalist who mistakenly tweeted about crowd size at your rally
Decline to invite Jewish Democrats in Congress to the annual White House Hanukkah party
Say that you’re “very frustrated” that you cannot tell the Justice Department what to do, but also claim that “I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.”
Try to stop the publication of a book that says critical things about you and your administration
Tell your advisers that the 15,000 Haitians sent here in 2017 “all have AIDS,” and that Nigerians who saw America would never “go back to their huts”
Blame a domestic terror attack on a senator of the opposing party, and then undermine the prosecution of the attacker by calling publicly for his execution
Falsely claim a rise in British crime is due to “radical Islamic terror”
Accuse an F.B.I. agent of treason without evidence
Watch four to eight hours of cable television a day, mostly the channel that feeds you self-serving propaganda
Say a female senator of the opposing party “would do anything” for your campaign donations
Choose federal judgeships nominees who cannot identify or explain basic legal concepts, and who were rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association
Falsely claim that you have signed more legislation than any first-year president, when in fact you have signed less than any post-World War II president
Taunt a foreign leader who claims he has nuclear weapons by saying your “nuclear button” is “a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” and threaten his country with nuclear annihilation over Twitter
Criticize a law that your party firmly supports, then, two hours later, reverse yourself
Mock an investigation into whether your campaign colluded with a foreign government to swing the election as a “phony cloud,” a “total hoax,” “fabricated and politically motivated,” a “witch hunt” and an “artificial Democratic hit job” that “makes the country look very bad”and serves as “an excuse for losing an election that they should have won” — and also claim that the Democrats were the real colluders
Call for the firing of “SOB” athletes who choose to exercise their right to free speech
Refer to the White House as “a real dump”
Spend the weekend golfing at your private club while the mayor of an American city wades through sewage-filled water to help citizens after a catastrophic hurricane, then accuse that mayor of “poor leadership” when she criticizes your administration’s slow response to the storm
Criticize victims of that hurricane still living without drinking water or electricity by saying they “want everything to be done for them”
During a visit to some of those victims, throw rolls of paper towels at them and tell them they should be “very proud” that only 16 people have died so far, unlike in a “real catastrophe”
Attack a senator battling terminal cancer
Pick nominees to the federal bench who call a sitting Supreme Court justice a “judicial prostitute” and refer to transgender children as part of “Satan’s plan”
Campaign hard for a Senate candidate; then when he appears likely to lose, say “I might have made a mistake” and later delete your tweets supporting him
Behave so erratically and irresponsibly that senators of your own party resort to saying you’re treated like someone at “an adult day-care center” to keep you from starting World War III
Spend one of every three days as president visiting at least one of your own properties
Publicly and privately humiliate your own attorney general for recusing himself from an investigation into your campaign
Say nothing when a foreign leader’s bodyguards brutally attack peaceful protesters in the streets of Washington, D.C.
Tweet GIFs of yourself violently attacking the media and your former political opponent
Encourage police officers not to be “too nice” when apprehending criminal suspects
Help draft a misleading statement about the purpose of a meeting between your son, other top campaign aides and representatives of a rival foreign power intent on interfering in the election
Deliver a speech to the Boy Scouts of America that includes mockery of a former president and winking references to sexual orgies, and then lie by claiming that the head of that organization called and told you it was the best speech ever delivered in Boy Scout history
Hang a framed copy of a fake Time magazine cover celebrating your business acumen in your golf clubs around the world
Mock a female television anchor’s appearance, saying the anchor was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” at a holiday gathering at your private resort
Force your cabinet members to take turns extolling your virtues in front of television cameras
Welcome into the Oval Office a man who referred to your political opponent as a “worthless bitch” and who threatened to assassinate your predecessor, whom he called a “subhuman mongrel”
Continue to deny that Russia attempted to influence the presidential election, despite the consensus of the American intelligence community — and yet also blame your predecessor for not doing anything to stop that interference
Grant temporary White House press credentials to a website that, among other things, claims that Sept. 11 was an “inside job” and that the massacre of 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., was a hoax
Block people who criticize you on Twitter
Pressure multiple intelligence chiefs to state publicly that there was no collusion between your presidential campaign and the Russian government
Without consulting anyone at the Pentagon, announce a new policy barring transgender soldiers from serving in the military
Pardon a former sheriff who was convicted of criminal contempt of court for refusing to obey the law
Continue to repeat, with admiration, a false story about an American military general committing war crimes
Mock the mayor of a world city for his careful, sober response to a terrorist attack
Tell Americans that a march of torch-carrying white supremacists and neo-Nazis includes “some very fine people” — and when one of those marchers murders a peaceful counterprotester, condemn violence on “both sides”
Run an administration whose ethical standards have, in the words of the federal government’s top ethics enforcer, made the United States “close to a laughingstock”
Hide data that don’t support your pre-existing policy preferences
Admit to trying to intimidate a key witness in a federal investigation
Profit off the presidency, accepting millions of dollars from foreign government officials, businesses, politicians and other supporters who pay a premium to patronize your properties and get access to you — while also attempting to hide the visitor lists at some of those properties from the public
Promise to drain the swamp, then quietly grant ethics waivers to multiple former industry lobbyists who want to work in your administration
Call for criminal investigations of your former political opponent, seven months after winning the election
Appoint your family wedding planner to head a federal housing office
Shove aside a fellow head of state at a photo-op
Attack private citizens on Twitter
Delegitimize federal judges who rule against you
Refuse to take responsibility for military actions gone awry
Fire the F.B.I. director in the middle of his expanding investigation into your campaign and your associates
Accuse a former president, without evidence, of an impeachable offense
Employ top aides with financial and other connections to a hostile foreign power
Blame the judiciary, in advance, for any terror attacks
Call the media “the enemy of the American people”
Demand personal loyalty from the F.B.I. director
Threaten the former F.B.I. director
Accept foreign payments to your businesses, in possible violation of the Constitution
Occupy the White House with the help of a hostile foreign power
Allow White House staff members to use their personal email for government business
Claim, without evidence, that millions of people voted illegally
Fail to fire high-ranking members of your national security team for weeks, even after knowing they lied to your vice president and exposed themselves to blackmail
Refuse to release tax returns
Hide the White House visitors’ list from the public
Vacation at one of your private residences nearly every weekend
Criticize specific businesses for dropping your family members’ products
Review and discuss highly sensitive intelligence in a restaurant, and allow the Army officer carrying the “nuclear football” to be photographed and identified by name
Hire relatives for key White House posts, and let them meet with foreign officials and engage in business at the same time
Promote family businesses on federal government websites
Tweet, tweet, tweet
Collude with members of Congress to try to shut down investigations of you and your associates
Threaten military conflict with other nations in the middle of news interviews
Compare the U.S. intelligence community to Nazis
Skip daily intelligence briefings
Share highly classified information with a hostile foreign power without the source’s permission
Display complete ignorance about international relations, your own administration’s policies, American history -And our system of government
NYT: “So, for the fourth time in a year, we’ve compiled a list of Mr. Trump’s more egregious transgressions. These items don’t represent disputes about policy, over which reasonable people may disagree. They simply serve to catalog what Paul Ryan, Mitch…”
How Donald Trump Shifted Kids-Cancer Charity Money Into His Business
Dan Alexander Forbes Staff
Jun 6, 2017 #TrumpsAmerica
This story appears in the June 29, 2017 issue of Forbes.
LIKE AUTUMN LEAVES, sponsored Cadillacs, Ferraris and Maseratis descend on the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York, in September for the Eric Trump Foundation golf invitational. Year after year, the formula is consistent: 18 holes of perfectly trimmed fairways with a dose of Trumpian tackiness, including Hooters waitresses and cigar spreads, followed by a clubhouse dinner, dates encouraged. The crowd leans toward real estate insiders, family friends and C-list celebrities, such as former baseball slugger Darryl Strawberry and reality housewife (and bankruptcy-fraud felon) Teresa Giudice.
The real star of the day is Eric Trump, the president’s second son and now the co-head of the Trump Organization, who has hosted this event for ten years on behalf of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. He’s done a ton of good: To date, he’s directed more than $11 million there, the vast majority of it via this annual golf event. He has also helped raise another $5 million through events with other organizations.
The best part about all this, according to Eric Trump, is the charity’s efficiency: Because he can get his family’s golf course for free and have most of the other costs donated, virtually all the money contributed will go toward helping kids with cancer. “We get to use our assets 100% free of charge,” Trump tells Forbes.
That’s not the case. In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it’s clear that the course wasn’t free—that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament.
Additionally, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which has come under previous scrutiny for self-dealing and advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charity, apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.
And while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses.
All of this seems to defy federal tax rules and state laws that ban self-dealing and misleading donors. It also raises larger questions about the Trump family dynamics and whether Eric and his brother, Don Jr., can be truly independent of their father.
Especially since the person who specifically commanded that the for-profit Trump Organization start billing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the nonprofit Eric Trump Foundation, according to two people directly involved, was none other than the current president of the United States, Donald Trump.
The Eric Trump Foundation golf outing brought in millions for St. Jude, billings for the Trump Organization.
IN ORDER TO understand the Eric Trump Foundation, you need to understand the Donald J. Trump Foundation. The president was never known for giving his foundation much money, and from 2009 to 2014, he didn’t give it anything at all. Outsiders still donated, though, allowing Trump to dole out their money to a smattering of more than 200 charities as if it were his own, with many of the donations helping his business interests.
Eric Trump set out to do things differently. Coming out of Georgetown, he decided he would try to translate the good fortune he had inherited into support for children’s cancer research. Why this cause, especially for a guy who still doesn’t have kids? “It’s a great question—it’s one that I’ve been asked before—and I’m not really sure,” he says. “I think there is something about that innocence that has always affected me.” After visiting various hospitals, he chose to give to strength, St. Jude, the world’s best-known pediatric cancer center.
Eric Trump set up his foundation as a public charity, a classification that allows it to raise most of its money from outside donors. In 2007, when he was 23, the first Eric Trump golf tournament took place, raising $220,000. A compelling sales pitch evolved—the free golf course and the donated goods and services assured donors that every penny possible went to charity. The Eric Trump Foundation employed no staff until 2015, and its annual expense ratio averaged 13%, about half of what most charities pay in overhead. His original seven-person board was made up of personal friends, an innocuous lot who helped sell tournament tickets, which last year ranged from $3,000 for a single all-day ticket to $100,000 for a pair of VIP foursomes.
For the first four years of the golf tournament, from 2007 to 2010, the total expenses averaged about $50,000, according to the tax filings. Not quite the zero-cost advantage that a donor might expect given who owned the club but at least in line with what other charities pay to host outings at Trump courses, according to a review of ten tax filings for other charitable organizations.
But in 2011, things took a turn. Costs for Eric Trump’s tournament jumped from $46,000 to $142,000, according to the foundation’s IRS filings. Why would the price of the tournament suddenly triple in one year? “In the early years, they weren’t being billed [for the club]—the bills would just disappear,” says Ian Gillule, who served as membership and marketing director at Trump National Westchester during two stints from 2006 to 2015 and witnessed how Donald Trump reacted to the tournament’s economics. “Mr. Trump had a cow. He flipped. He was like, ‘We’re donating all of this stuff, and there’s no paper trail? No credit?’ And he went nuts. He said, ‘I don’t care if it’s my son or not—everybody gets billed.’”
Katrina Kaupp, who served on the board of directors at the Eric Trump Foundation in 2010 and 2011, also remembers Donald Trump insisting the charity start paying its own way, despite Eric’s public claims to the contrary. “We did have to cover the expenses,” she says. “The charity had grown so much that the Trump Organization couldn’t absorb all of those costs anymore.” The Trump Organization declined to answer detailed questions about the payments. But it seems that for the future president, who Forbes estimates is worth $3.5 billion, a freebie to help his son directly fight kids’ cancer took a backseat to revenue.
“I saw that Eric was getting billed,” Gillule adds. “I would always say, ‘I can’t believe that his dad is billing him for a charitable outing.’ But that’s what they wanted.”
It’s also very consistent. The Donald J. Trump Foundation famously acted like an arm of the overall business, using the charity’s money to settle a Trump business lawsuit, make a political donation and even purchase expensive portraits of its namesake. Meanwhile, Trump businesses billed the Trump campaign, fueled by small outside donors, more than $11 million to use his properties, chefs and private aircraft.
At first the extra bills did not cost the Eric Trump Foundation anything. Shortly before the spike in costs, the Donald J. Trump Foundation donated $100,000 to the Eric Trump Foundation—a gift explicitly made, according to Gillule, to offset the increased budget. Thus, the Eric Trump donors were still seeing their money go to work for kids along the same lines as previous years.
The Eric Trump Foundation declined to comment on that donation. In effect, though, this maneuver would appear to have more in common with a drug cartel’s money-laundering operation than a charity’s best-practices textbook. That $100,000 in outside donations to the Donald J. Trump Foundation (remember: Trump himself didn’t give to his own foundation at this time) passed through the Eric Trump Foundation—and wound up in the coffers of Donald Trump’s private businesses.
“His father, Mr. Trump, always, until the presidency, had a very, very tight rein on what was going on,” says Gillule, referring to the company’s golf courses. “The buck always stopped with him.”
THE COSTS FOR ERIC’S golf tournament quickly escalated. After returning, in 2012, to a more modest $59,000—while the event brought in a record $2 million—the listed costs exploded to $230,000 in 2013, $242,000 in 2014 and finally $322,000 in 2015 (the most recent on record, held just as Trump was ratcheting up his presidential campaign), according to IRS filings. This even though the amount raised at these events, in fact, never reached that 2012 high.
It’s hard to find an explanation for this cost spike. Remember, all those base costs were supposedly free, according to Eric Trump. The golf course? “Always comped,” he says. The merchandise for golfers: “The vast majority of it we got comped.” Drinks: “Things like wine we were normally able to get donated.” And the evening performances from musicians like Dee Snider of Twisted Sister and comedians like Gilbert Gottfried: “They did it for free.” So many sponsors donated, in fact, that the event invitation has carried enough logos to make a Nascar team proud.
Eric Trump, in speaking with Forbes, maintains that “our expenses on a tournament that made us somewhere in the $2 million range every year was somewhere around 100 grand,” even though his foundation’s tax records show costs soaring to $322,000. When asked for an itemized list of expenses, the Eric Trump Foundation declined to respond.
Thus it’s hard to figure out what happened to the money. All the listed costs are direct expenses: Items like overhead and salaries appear elsewhere in its IRS filings. Even if the Eric Trump Foundation had to pay the full rate for literally everything, Forbes couldn’t come up with a plausible path to $322,000 given the parameters of the annual event (a golf outing for about 200 and dinner for perhaps 400 more). Neither could golf tournament experts or the former head golf professional at Trump National Westchester. “If you gave me that much money to run a tournament, I couldn’t imagine what we could do,” says Patrick Langan, who worked at the club from 2006 to 2015. “It certainly wasn’t done that way.”
Opaque accounting doesn’t help, as the Eric Trump Foundation began hosting a few other golf events and fundraisers; former board member Kaupp says some were lumped into the cost figures of the Westchester event on the IRS filings. Hundreds of thousands of dollars over this time went directly to the Trump Organization, including one payment of $87,000 to Trump’s golf course in Washington, D.C., which hosted a separate event for St. Jude.
For his part, Eric Trump offers no indication that the charity is paying for much beyond the day in Westchester. “I’m sure if I hunted, I could find examples of expenses associated with the charity that aren’t due to day-of activities,” he says. “But I would probably have to think pretty long and hard about that.”
IT DOESN’T SEEM A COINCIDENCE that at the same time the Eric Trump Foundation went from what appeared to be a clean, efficient operation to a seemingly Byzantine one that suddenly found itself saddled with costs, there was a clear shift of control.
In 2010, the year the economics of the tournament suddenly pivoted, four of the seven original board members, who were personal friends of Eric, left. Those 4 were eventually replaced by 14 new board members, the majority of whom owed all or much of their livelihoods to the Trump Organization. Six of them were effectively full-time employees, including Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and executive vice president Dan Scavino Jr., who both serve in political roles for President Trump. Another owns a company that billed the Trump campaign $16 million. Add in Eric himself, as well as his wife, Lara, and 9 of the 17 Eric Trump Foundation board members had a vested interest in the moneymaking side of the Trump empire. The foundation had become a de facto subsidiary of the Trump Organization.
“They were wearing two hats,” says Langan, the former director of golf, who says he sat in on meetings where he couldn’t tell where the business ended and the charity began. “You’re dealing with people talking about the event and the charity who also at the same time are thinking about it as a corporation and as a business. It’s a for-profit club. You know, they’re trying to make money.”
Until this board turnover, the Eric Trump Foundation pretty much did what it told its donors it would: send its money to St. Jude. But starting in 2011, more than $500,000 was redirected to a variety of other charities, many of which were personal favorites of Trump family members and several of which had nothing to do with children’s cancer—but happened to become clients of Trump’s golf courses.
In 2012, the Eric Trump Foundation sent $5,000 to a charity called Abilis, which provides services to people with disabilities. That same year, Donald Trump’s nephew Fred Trump, whose son has cerebral palsy, hosted the inaugural Golf for Abilis fundraiser at the Trump National Westchester. Over the next five years, Abilis spent an estimated $240,000 hosting tournaments at the property.
In 2013 and 2014, the Eric Trump Foundation paid $15,000 for tables at a gala for the Little Baby Face Foundation, according to a spokesman for the latter foundation. Over the next three years, Little Baby Face spent an estimated $100,000 to hold golf outings on the Trump course. The foundation denies any direct connection between the two transactions.
Janet McHugh, the founder of a small charity named Julie’s Jungle, was delighted to receive $25,000 in total donations from the Donald and Eric Trump foundations in 2013—money she figured came from Eric and Donald Trump personally. Two years later, her charity hosted a golf tournament at Trump National Hudson Valley. McHugh says the decision to hold her tournament there was unrelated to the donation. “They didn’t comp us the golf course,” she says. “We paid.”
Altruism as a business-development strategy isn’t necessarily illegal. But a situation in which outside donor money is redeployed away from the core mission in ways that seem to ultimately benefit the family that pays the majority of the board is—at best—an appearance problem.
Other extra expenditures raise eyebrows. In 2013, for example, Eric Trump used his foundation’s money, rather than his own, to pay $1,600 to the American Society for Enology & Viticulture for a copper wine still and an antique bottle washer at a trade event and fundraiser that he was keynoting. Eric runs the family vineyard in Charlottesville, Virginia, about an hour down the road from where the event took place. “I have no idea what that is,” says Eric Trump, referring to the payment.
In 2012, the Eric Trump Foundation wrote a check for $25,000 to the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts. That same year, George Rodrigue, who had said that his famous “blue dog” paintings sometimes sold for about $25,000, created a portrait of Donald Trump for the auction at Eric’s event. That portrait ended up hanging over the couch in Eric Trump’s house, where he was photographed sitting beneath it two years later.
Perhaps Eric bought the painting for himself at the auction or on the aftermarket. Perhaps Rodrigue gave or sold him a copy. What does Eric say about the donation? “Let’s follow up later on,” he replies, when asked about it in a phone call, before getting off the line.
Later the next day, after being told Forbes had several other questions, he sent a paragraphs-long text message, which read in part: “I was reflecting on it last night and have to say I was really disappointed when you said the story would be ‘fair.’… It seems like there is a motive against either myself or my family. And if that is the case, I would simply rather disengage.” A spokesperson for the Trump Organization similarly declined to respond further to questions about Eric and Donald Trump.
THE ULTIMATE TRAGEDY HERE is that the Eric Trump Foundation has done so much good. Yes, Eric has indulged in the family trait of vainglory, from Eric Trump bobblehead dolls at the tournament to statements that leave the impression he’s giving the money personally, even though tax records suggest he’s donated six figures total, at most. (Trump wouldn’t tell Forbes how much he’s given to his own foundation. “I think it’s totally irrelevant,” he says, citing the fact that “we never charge” for use of the courses.) But in 2015, a new intensive-care unit at St. Jude opened with Eric Trump’s name on it, and the foundation’s money has funded research into a rare form of cancer.
It’s hard to imagine how the early incarnation of the golf tournament—big hauls, understandable costs—would have any problem continuing to spew out millions for years to come. Last year, the Eric Trump Foundation donated $2.9 million, according to St. Jude.
But in December, Eric Trump said he would stop fundraising. Running an event with an increasing commingling of business and philanthropy created the kind of conflict-of-interest (not to mention image) concerns that similarly plagued Ivanka Trump’s aborted attempt to auction off a coffee date on behalf of Eric’s foundation.
More recently, the foundation has rebranded itself as Curetivity. A spokeswoman for the organization said it would continue hosting golf tournaments to raise money for St. Jude. A Curetivity event was held this past May outside Washington, D.C., with Eric Trump in attendance, at the Trump National course.
Dan Alexander Forbes Staff
I write about Donald Trump, the people around him, and how they affect business. Before he won the presidency, I covered billionaires, industrial America and sports. My favorite stories focus on the hands-dirty businesses between the coasts that make up the bulk of the U.S. …
Clapper: ‘No doubt’ Russia is the reason Trump won
By Brooke Seipel
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper writes in his new book that he has “no doubt” Russians swung the 2016 presidential election to President Trump.
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow read an excerpt from Clapper’s new book, “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence,” during her Tuesday night show.
“Of course the Russian effort affected the outcome. Surprising even themselves, they swung the election to a Trump win. To conclude otherwise stretches logic, common sense, and credulity to the breaking point,” Maddow read from Clapper’s book.
“Less than 80,000 votes in three key states swung the election,” the excerpt continues. “I have no doubt that more votes than that were influenced by this massive effort by the Russians.”
Clapper’s book was released on Tuesday. Clapper said he didn’t plan on writing a book but changed his mind because of Trump’s presidency.
His book details the time leading up to and following the 2016 election, with a focus on Russia’s election interference.
The intelligence community concluded shortly after the 2016 presidential election that Russian-liked groups attempted to sway the presidential election in favor of Trump. Intelligence officials did not come to a conclusion, however, as to whether or not Russian meddling efforts were successful.