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« Reply #3570 on: Sep 17, 2019, 04:27 AM »


Manhattan D.A. subpoenas eight years of Trump’s tax returns

By Brad Reed
Raw Story
9/17/2019

The Manhattan district attorney’s office has issued subpoenas requesting eight years’ worth of President Donald Trump’s personal and business tax returns, the New York Times reports.

According to the Times, the D.A.’s office subpoenaed the tax returns late last month after it opened a criminal investigation into the hush-money agreements Trump made with adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

The Times notes that the eight-year scope of the subpoena is “broad,” which may indicate that the office has “expanded its investigation beyond actions taken during the 2016 campaign.” However, at this time there is no concrete evidence that the Manhattan D.A. is looking at past improprieties.

The D.A.’s office has been probing the illegal hush money payments made by former Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen to Daniels and McDougal during the 2016 election.

Cohen last year was sentenced to 36 months in prison for his role in arranging the illegal payments, along with other crimes. In his guilty plea, Cohen admitted to making the illegal payments “at the direction of” Trump, which seemingly implicated the president in committing a felony.

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‘Giant step closer to someone finally having their hands on’ Trump’s taxes: former deputy assistant AG

Raw Story
9/17/2019

Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman explained during an MSNBC appearance that the New York District Attorney has put America one step closer to finally seeing President Donald Trump’s taxes.

The DA’s office demanded eight years of Trump’s taxes from his accounting firm while Trump’s allies in his cabinet have defied subpoenas and refused to comply with the Constitution.

MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace opened the segment saying, “we may be one step closer to seeing Donald Trump’s tax returns.”

Even conservative A.B. Stoddard said that it was unprecedented that an administration would consistently refuse to present subpoenaed information.

“Even now under the Manhattan D.A. they can do a lot of damage and they’ve laid a lot of groundwork for a lot of evidence,” Litman said. “Now [Michael] Cohen appears to be cooperating with them as well. So, this really does open a new front in the whole war about getting his tax records. Notice they would still be secret if the D.A. got them. But as opposed to the federal campaign where they’re trying to get them from the secretary of treasury who’s resisting, for no good reason, here it’s just going to be straight New York state, the same records and a private accounting firm that has said they will cooperate. This really does, as you say, make it a giant step closer to somebody having their hands on them.

Stoddard went on to say that she doubted the public would see the taxes, but the government and the Congress may finally have access. Wallace noted that Trump lied to the public and his own supporters when he claimed he would eventually turn over his taxes or he would make them public. During the 2016 election, Trump said he had to finish an audit before he would finish them. Once the audit was finished, Trump still refused to turn them over.

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CNN reporter explains why the Manhattan Trump subpoena is different — and more serious — than Democrats’ investigation

Raw Story
9/17/2019

On Monday’s edition of CNN’s “The Situation Room,” reporter Kara Scannell analyzed the new subpoena by Manhattan prosecutors for President Donald Trump’s tax and business records — and how it differs from the existing requests issued by House Democrats.

“As you know, Kara, President Trump so far has fended off multiple attempts to make his tax returns public,” said anchor Wolf Blitzer. “Could this new subpoena in a criminal investigation in New York lead to a different result?”

“Well that is the big question here, Wolf,” said Scannell. “Will Donald Trump and his lawyers and the Trump Organization move to quash the subpoena, which is in a criminal context. The other subpoenas that have been sent by the House Democrats seeking Donald Trump’s financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One, and also a subpoena to Mazars accounting firm, they are playing out in court. But a criminal investigation is somewhat different than what the House Democrats are looking into. There are different rules around that.”

“The big question here is, does Trump seek to quash this and then how will this play out in court,” said Scannell.

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Maddow explains how Trump’s Transportation Sec. used her position to score big cash for her husband Moscow Mitch 'i have no soul, only a rancid abscess' McConnell

Raw Story
9/17/2019

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow began her Monday show with a series of crazy current events that erupted over the weekend. One was that one of the few secretaries left in President Donald Trump’s cabinet to not be accused of wrongdoing has been outed for a corruption scandal.

In her explanation of the latest cabinet scandal, Maddow noted that Elaine Chao was caught using her position to score bigger profits for her family’s business, which ultimately paid her and her family.

“They will spin out scandals every day they are in office,” Maddow said of this latest example.

Chao makes a habit of doing events with her father, who is in control of their family’s shipping company. As she and her father sit in front of American flags and seals of the Department of Transportation, Maddow said that it’s almost like her father works there too. “Or he’s officially sponsored by them somehow.”

“She has also brought her father onto Air Force One,” Maddow continued. “She has talked in interviews about her father and President Trump having such a good relationship, which is nice, you know, aw, it’s her dad. But it’s also been awesome and very highly capitalized on by the family business that her dad runs. As they have been trying to project their international reach, their apparent endorsement by the U.S. government, they’ve been turning that into their own business interests.”

According to reports, Chao tried to arrange for her family to meet with the Chinese government as part of her official trip as transportation secretary. The State Department was told to set up the meetings, and that’s when they intervened, and it was ultimately canceled.

“It’s also worth noting that as Elaine Chao has used her public position to boost her family’s business over the past few years, her family has also reportedly given millions of dollars to her and her husband, the Republican leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell,” Maddow explained. “Which means that if she has been using her public position to boost the fortunes of her family business, well, her family’s fortune has been in an immediate sense, turned right around and parceled out to her and her husband while she has been doing that.”

It’s expected that Chao will likely deny any cooperation, just like the other secretaries that were outed for their scandals.

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Is the Trump administration squelching a whistleblower — and a major scandal?

on September 17, 2019
By Sophia Tesfaye, Salon
- Commentary

America’s system of government has always worked on the honor system. With so few Senate-confirmed Cabinet and federal agency heads, and so many “acting” officials working in the Trump administration, people who are constantly forced to audition for permanent positions are now under tremendous pressure to protect a president hellbent on breaking every norm of good governance. Now a new possible political scandal could be brewing in the Trump administration that tests the loyalty of these “acting” officials — pitting their allegiance to the nation against their desire to impress their boss.

While President Trump and his administration, namely former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, loudly complained about leaking from the early onset and pushed people to go through the proper channels with complaints, there is now a serious allegation that even whistleblowers have been silenced by the administration.

According to Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a whistleblower who lodged an urgent complaint about wrongdoing within the intelligence community has gone ignored and left unprotected. In a letter released on Friday, Schiff accused a “top intel official of illegally withholding” a “whistleblower” complaint described as “urgent” by the Intelligence Community Inspector General (IC IG) — and one that could implicate the White House.

“A month ago, a whistleblower within the intelligence community lawfully filed a complaint regarding a serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law, or deficiency within the responsibility or authority of the Director of National Intelligence,” Schiff said in a statement. The IC IG first notified the committee of the whistleblower complaint on Sept. 9. The next day, Schiff requested a full, unredacted copy of the complaint, the ICIG’s findings related to the matter, and all records connected to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s (ODNI) involvement, “including any and all correspondence with other Executive Branch actors including the White House.”

In what may be the clearest example yet of obstruction in the Trump administration, acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, in direct contradiction to an unambiguous rule worked out in the wake of Watergate, is refusing to hand over the whistleblower’s complaint to Congress. The ODNI officially declined the Intelligence Committee’s request on Friday, saying that Maguire is withholding the complaint in part because it “involves confidentially and potentially privileged communications by persons outside the Intelligence Community.” But the statutory mandate being ignored by Maguire was specifically intended to deny intelligence officials this kind of discretion — that is, they’re not supposed to keep Congress from hearing whistleblower reports, or to let the officials implicated in any allegations unilaterally decide to bury them.

Schiff’s letter is clearly a plea to the whistleblower, who probably would be kept out of the loop about what was actually done with his or her complaint, to go directly to the Committee.

    The Committee expects the whistleblower to be fully protected from … reprisal, or threat of reprisal. This includes personnel action for making the disclosure to the IC IG and, if he or she so elects, for contacting the Committee directly, as permitted under the statute.

It also serves as a reminder to other public servants that they can go directly to the committee if they have information.

Schiff also issued a subpoena on Friday, requiring ODNI to produce the complaint and relevant records by Tuesday. If it doesn’t, Maguire will be directed to appear before the committee in an open hearing on Thursday.

Maguire’s refusal to cooperate further underscores how thoroughly ill-equipped our system of congressional oversight is to deal with pervasive executive branch obstruction. If a presidential appointee simply refuses to comply with the law, and the attorney general is willing to find some pretext to rationalize that refusal, external oversight bodies are forced to slog through the courts n a tedious and time-consuming process. It also makes the resignation of former DNI Dan Coats and the subsequent forced resignation of Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon look even more suspicious. The whistleblower reportedly went to the IC IG three days after Gordon’s resignation and three days before Maguire took over as acting DNI.

“The Committee can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials,” Schiff wrote in a letter accompanying his subpoena of Maguire. He continued: “This raises grave concerns that your office, together with the Department of Justice and possibly the White House, are engaged in an unlawful effort to protect the President and conceal from the Committee information related to his possible ‘serious or flagrant’ misconduct, abuse of power, or violation of law.”

Despite Schiff’s sternly worded letter, however, there is little evidence that either House Democrats or our system writ large is equipped to handle such flagrant violations. In all likelihood, Maguire will appear before the committee later this week, only to declare that he “does not recall” numerous things, assure the committee that he has no personal knowledge of anything scandalous and insist that if he did it would all be privileged communication anyway. The committee will dress him down, put him “on notice” and prepare to file more stern letters.

Our system is clearly broken. It’s not entirely because the Republican Party now marches in lockstep with Trump. But that’s a pretty important symptom.

*************

The ‘divine right’ presidency: Trump has identified the USA with himself and claimed unprecedented powers to do whatever he wants

on September 17 2019
By History News Network
- Commentary

Trump’s latest use of our government to cover up his mistakes, this time about weather forecasting, is revealing about the nature of his Presidency.

No government weather maps showed Hurricane Dorian threatening Alabama. On Thursday, August 29, Trump was briefed in the Oval Office on the Hurricane by the head of FEMA, which released a photo of him looking at a map of where Dorian had been and where it was headed. A white curved line showed the areas that Dorian might possibly hit. Not Alabama.

Early Saturday morning, August 31, the National Hurricane Center realized that Dorian was not going to hit Florida directly, and threat projections were shifted further east. The next morning, Sunday, at 7:51 AM Trump tweeted the following: “In addition to Florida – South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”

The National Weather Service’s Birmingham office reacted in 20 minutes, tweeting at 8:11: “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”

For Alabamans, whew. For Trump, though, emergency – he had made a mistake. Nobody died, his tweet perhaps scared some people, but he had been wrong, and that was impossible. At noon on Sunday at FEMA headquarters, he repeated that Alabama remained in the path of the storm, based on “new information”.

As the Hurricane moved north, doing tremendous damage but having nothing to do with Alabama, the storm in Washington about Alabama intensified. On Monday Trump repeated his clam that Alabama was in danger. By then, it was clear to everyone that Alabama would remain untouched, and the controversy shifted to whether Trump was correct that Alabama had been part of earlier forecasts. On Wednesday, Trump brought out the map from his briefing 6 days earlier. Somewhere in the White House, a new black Sharpie line had been added, extending Dorian’s “threat” another 100 miles west into a corner of Alabama.

On Thursday, Rear Admiral Peter J. Brown, Trump’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, released a statement that Alabama had been in the path of the storm. Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce who oversees NOAA and the National Weather Service, threatened to fire any employee who contradicted Trump.

On Friday afternoon, NOAA disavowed the Birmingham NWS office’s statement that Alabama would not be hit.

We all might soon forget this saga of Dorian and Alabama when the next outrage emerges, but its details display the character of our current government. Right-wing populist politicians and parties in democratic systems across the globe are being examined for their similarities to 20th-century fascists. Trump however is no strongman, he commands no armed militia of followers, who brutalize opponents. He acts more like the unelected monarchs who ruled for hundreds of years by divine right. Trump is the state and “L’état, c’est moi,” as Louis XIV is supposed to have said.

Trump’s equation of himself with the state emerges in many of his statements. When the prime minister of Denmark curtly rejected Trump’s notion of buying Greenland, he said, “She’s not talking to me, she’s talking to the United States of America. You don’t talk to the United States that way.”

Let’s add up some individual instances where Trump has identified the USA with himself, made the government into his personal servants, and claimed unprecedented powers to do whatever he wants. As soon as he was inaugurated, he enlisted the National Park Service to crop photos of the inauguration to pretend that his crowd was larger than Obama’s. He ordered by tweet all US companies to stop doing business with China. He claimed he had the right to end the Constitutional provision of birthright citizenship by executive order. He threatened to close our southern border with military force to stop migrants. He deployed the National Guard and active-duty troops to the southern border to deal with the “emergency” that he had created.

In response to Robert Mueller’s investigation, Trump’s lawyers created an argument that the President cannot commit obstruction because he can do anything he wants: “the President has exclusive authority over the ultimate conduct and disposition of all criminal investigations and over those executive branch officials responsible for conducting those investigations. Thus as a matter of law and common sense, the President cannot obstruct himself or subordinates acting on his behalf by simply exercising these inherent Constitutional powers. This led Trump to claim that he has the “absolute right to PARDON myself.”

King George III said during the American Revolution that “A traitor is everyone who does not agree with me.” Trump has often characterized his critics as traitors: when Democrats did not applaud his State of the Union speech in 2018; any Jews who vote for Democrats; congressional Democrats for opposing his anti-immigration policies. The website AXIOS counted 24 times by this past June that Trump had accused other Americans of treason.

Things didn’t turn out so well for George III, when the American colonists decided that he did not represent them. To prevent Trump from crowning himself King Don I, Americans will again have to reject divine right pretensions.

Steve Hochstadt is a professor of history emeritus at Illinois College, who blogs for HNN and LAProgressive, and writes about Jewish refugees in Shanghai.


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« Reply #3571 on: Sep 17, 2019, 05:53 AM »

Democratic White House hopeful Elizabeth Warren calls Trump ‘corruption in the flesh’

on September 17, 2019
By Agence France-Presse

Facing thousands of cheering supporters in the nation’s largest city, Democratic presidential contender Elizabeth Warren on Monday decried President Donald Trump as “corruption in the flesh”.

Warren outlined her plans to root out corruption in the White House, Congress and courts.

“Corruption has put our planet at risk. Corruption has broken our economy. And corruption is breaking our democracy,” said Warren, a Massachusetts senator who has emerged as a leading presidential contender.

While aggressive, the message was a familiar one. Warren has embraced corruption as a central campaign theme from the beginning of her 2020 presidential bid. But rarely has Warren addressed such a crowd with such a symbolic backdrop.

She faced throngs of supporters from a podium under Washington Square Park’s storied arch, a made-for-television moment designed to showcase the strength of her candidacy as much as the ambition of her message.

The event was set close to the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire, which killed more than 140 workers in 1911.

She framed those deaths as the direct result of corruption. Many women died because factory owners neglected safety features to save money, with the implicit support of local elected officials who declined to intervene.

Warren charged that the same thing is happening today.

“Giant corporations have bought off our government,” she said.

Specifically, her anti-corruption plan would “end lobbying as we know it” by instituting a lifetime ban on members of Congress and White House Cabinet secretaries from ever becoming lobbyists. At the same time, corporate lobbyists would be blocked from working for the federal government.

Both practices are common today.

She also would prohibit federal judges from avoiding misconduct investigations by leaving their posts, prevent courts from sealing settlements in public health and safety cases and ban class-action waivers for all cases involving employment, consumer protection, antitrust and civil rights.

And taking direct aim at issues involving the Trump administration, Warren would require candidates for public office to post their tax returns online. Presidents, Cabinet secretaries and members of Congress would also be prohibited from owning businesses on the side.

Trump, of course, has refused to release his tax returns years after promising to do so, and the Trump organization continues to do business around the world.

“Donald Trump is corruption in the flesh,” Warren said. “He is sworn to serve the people of the United States, but he serves only himself and his partners in corruption.” Warren noted, however, that Trump is only a symptom of the corruption that has infected the U.S. political and economic systems.

The crowd filled almost the entirety of the 10-acre (4-hectare) park, wrapping around a massive fountain and clogging the pathways that connect the street chess games to the classrooms of New York University to the giant marble arch the downtown park is best known for.

It was a younger crowd, racially diverse and packed with women. One of the biggest applause lines of the night: “We’re not here tonight because of famous arches or famous men. In fact, we’re not here because of men at all.”

Warren has long argued that the nation’s modern government only works for “the wealthy and the well-connected” like big energy, health care and insurance companies that employ lobbyists to advance their priorities over the best interests of ordinary citizens.

She wrote that popular policies championed by the Democratic Party’s progressive wing   and many in its crowded field of presidential hopefuls   like universal child care, an overhaul of the federal criminal justice system, gun reform and plans to promote affordable housing have been “stymied because giant corporations and billionaires who don’t want to pay taxes or follow any rules use their money and influence to stand in the way.”

Warren’s campaign noted that she already proposed a series of anti-corruption measures in Congress last year, but it says the proposal released Monday goes farther.

Warren has emerged as a central player in the broader fight for the direction of the Democratic Party in the age of Trump.

Like her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders, Warren is demanding transformational change that Trump and his allies deride as socialism.

Warren and Sanders are up against Democratic front-runner Joe Biden, a favorite of the party’s establishment wing.

Warren didn’t identify any of her Democratic opponents by name.

She noted, however, that “too many politicians in both parties have convinced themselves that playing the money-for-influence game is the only way to get things done.”

Warren doesn’t participate in high-dollar fundraising events as a 2020 candidate, though she did before launching her presidential campaign.

On Monday, looking out at the swelling crowd, Warren noted that she typically takes selfies with everyone who wants one at her events.

“Tonight is a little something different,” Warren said.

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The hardest job for the next president may be fixing Trump’s mess

By Eugene Robinson
Columnist
September 17 2019
Wa Post

I want to hear the Democratic presidential candidates explain, convincingly, how they’re going to beat Donald Trump. Then I want to hear how they propose to repair the devastating damage Trump has done to all three branches of government — and to our trust in our institutions.

First, Trump has to be sent packing. I shudder to think of what four more years of this chaos and decay would do to the nation. Trump is so unpopular, and has so neglected making any attempt to broaden his base, that the agenda of the eventual Democratic nominee is clear: motivate loyal Democratic constituencies to turn out in large numbers; win back at least some of the Rust Belt voters who chose Barack Obama in 2008 and Trump in 2016; and invite independents and anti-Trump Republicans along for the ride.

None of these tasks is mutually exclusive, and none involves rocket science. With just a couple of exceptions, I can see any of the Democrats onstage last Thursday getting the job done. But then would come the hard part.

Perhaps the most straightforward and least complicated undertaking, since it would be entirely within the next president’s purview, is rebuilding the executive branch from the corrupted ruin Trump will leave behind.

One of the most underreported stories about the Trump administration is its basic incompetence. Perhaps Trump’s biggest con of all was convincing his supporters that he was some sort of business wizard with a genius for management. In truth, the Trump Organization was a mom-and-pop family business that he repeatedly micromanaged to the brink of collapse. He is doing exactly the same with the government of the United States.

The White House itself is less like “The West Wing” than “Game of Thrones.” Courtiers vie for the favor of the Mad King, unable or unwilling to perform normal duties for fear of risking Trump’s ire. Usually, the White House is a place where information from outside sources is synthesized and digested so the president can make the best possible decisions. Under Trump, the flow is reversed — his whims, however ill-informed or contradictory or just plain loopy, are tweeted out and must be made into policy.

Agencies vital to our national security — including the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency — lumber along, month after month, without permanent leadership. “It’s easier to make moves when they’re acting,” Trump has said, but really the situation reflects his own insecurity. By keeping his underlings weak and beholden only to him, he limits their power — and thus hamstrings the departments they nominally lead.

So the first job of the next president will be to restock the executive branch with the kind of competent, dedicated professionals who have served both Democratic and Republican administrations in the past. This will be a big endeavor, but it’s relatively straightforward.

More difficult is figuring out how to address the damage Trump has done to the legislative branch. With the help of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Trump has rendered Congress all but impotent. Even measures with upward of 90 percent public support, such as universal background checks for gun purchases, cannot get an up-or-down vote because Senate Republicans are so terrified of Trump’s displeasure.

Even if voters hand control of the Senate to Democrats, McConnell would still be able to use the Senate’s rules to delay, deflect and disrupt. In that eventuality, would the next president push Senate leaders to get rid of the filibuster? And if the Republicans retain Senate control, which is a very real possibility, do the Democratic candidates have ideas for going over, under, around or through McConnell to make Congress a functioning legislature once again?

Hardest of all will be fixing what Trump has done to the judicial branch. Trump and McConnell have confirmed more than 150 new federal judges, most of them far-right ideologues. Their impact on jurisprudence in the coming decades will be bad; their impact on public perception of the judiciary is already worse.

We need to be able to believe that justice is blind, that our judges are fair and impartial — including those who serve on the ultimate tribunal, the Supreme Court. Trump’s brazen court-packing threatens to shatter that belief, and I don’t know whether anything but probity and time can restore that faith.

Benjamin Franklin famously said the Constitutional Convention produced “a republic, if you can keep it.” Trump will leave behind a banana republic, and his successor is going to have to fix it.

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‘The American military should not be for sale’: Ex-White House adviser shreds Trump’s cash-for-war deal with Iran

Raw Story
9/17/2019

President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser blasted the Trump administration’s approach to Middle East policy.

Ben Rhodes, who helped steer Obama policy during the 2011 “Arab Spring,” told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that President Donald Trump’s “they pay cash” remarks about following Saudi Arabia into war with Iran were “outrageous.”

“American foreign policy should not be for sale,” Rhodes said. “The American military should certainly not be for sale to the highest bidder, especially someone like Mohammed bin Salman, who’s been demonstrated to be a murderous dictator killing a journalist for the Washington Post in a consulate in Turkey while also launching this war in Yemen that’s had disastrous consequences.”

Rhodes pointed out that the U.S. does not have a treaty obligating them to defend Saudi oil fields, and he said the kingdom’s record on human rights was deeply concerning.

“Saudi Arabia is not a treatied ally of the United States,” he said. “We have no obligation to come to the defense of their oil fields, and increasingly they’re a country that should concern us in terms of their complete rejection of democratic values. I think the American people would look at this and not think it was a wise idea go to war on behalf of this particular Saudi leader.”

Rhodes has criticized the Obama administration’s support for the Saudi war in Yemen, but he said the situation has only gotten worse under the leadership of bin Salman and Trump.

“Clearly, under Mohammed bin Salman, who emerged as the de facto leader in 2015-2016, they have taken a dark, dark turn,” he said. “What I’ve seen since Trump came to office is American foreign policy has become a Saudi wish list. You had the blockade against Qatar, you had open-ended blank check support for this effort in Yemen. You had the pull-out of the Iran nuclear deal. What we have to ask is why?”

Rhodes suggested the Saudis were paying off Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

“Trump tells us they pay cash not just for our airplanes, they pay cash at Trump properties,” Rhodes said. “We don’t know what Jared Kushner has been talking about with Mohammed bin Salman, as it relates to the potential corruption of American foreign policy.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t635kxYfhRc

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Fears of ‘collateral damage to democracy’ swell as Trump weighs withdrawing from global postal pact

on September 17, 2019
By Common Dreams

Thousands of absentee ballots could be uncounted in upcoming elections thanks to President Donald Trump’s objection to a treaty which governs the international mail exchange for nearly 200 countries.

Citing disapproval of shipping rates it says unfairly favor China, the White House is weighing a potential withdrawal next month from the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a United Nations agency which allows for global postal service.

Without U.S. membership in the UPU, overseas voters could face high shipping rates for mailing their ballots as well as mass confusion, which could leave thousands of votes uncounted in 2019 and 2020.

“Military and overseas citizens already face enormous hurdles casting their votes,” Matthew Weil, director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Elections Project, told The Washington Post. “These citizens may be forced to pay up to $70 to return their ballots via private shipping companies, and it’s not clear all states will accept ballots delivered this way.”

“The White House’s latest gamble with the economy is a quintessentially Trumpian move.”
—Brian Klaas, Washington PostOriginally formed in 1874 to support the international mail exchange, the UPU will gather for a summit this month in Geneva, where the 192 member states will discuss changing shipping rates. The U.S. plans to withdraw from the union if new rates can’t be negotiated—a move which could have a cascading effect on U.S. democracy.

“If the United States withdraws, the country in which you are located may not deliver the mail ballot packet that we send, or timely return your voted ballot to our office,” Colorado election officials wrote recently to absentee voters who cast ballots in the state. Officials advised voters to update their voter registration to ensure their ballots are delivered electronically in November’s election.

The UPU keeps shipping rates low for developing countries. It has allowed China to ship internationally at low rates for five decades, even as the country has emerged as an economic superpower.

In Geneva, the White House plans to push a proposal allowing countries to set their own rates, in which case it may raise shipping rates for China, setting off “a new front in the trade war using the postal system,” wrote Brian Klaas at the Post last Friday.

If the measure fails, Trump reportedly plans to back out of the treaty. The administration has been planning the move since last October.

Election officials have begun warning voters of the possible change.

“Leaving the Universal Postal Union could have disastrous consequences for American voters overseas,” tweeted Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos on Monday.

    Leaving the Universal Postal Union could have disasterous consequences for American voters overseas. This includes our active duty military service members stationed abroad, who already face challenging barriers accessing their right to cast their ballots. https://t.co/rqHfBNTdfY

    — VT Sec. of State (@VermontSOS) September 16, 2019

In some states the deadline for sending absentee ballots overseas for the 2019 election will have passed by the time the UPU meets beginning on September 24. If the U.S. pulls out of the union after the meeting, thousands of voters may have incorrect information when they mail their ballots.

“The White House’s latest gamble with the economy is a quintessentially Trumpian move: a bold threat to walk away from a multilateral agreement that works pretty well, while ignoring the unintended consequences that could hurt American business, alienate allies, and cause collateral damage to democracy,” wrote Klaas.

More than 350,000 Americans voted via absentee ballot in the 2018 midterms, mostly with postal ballots.

*************

US military officers awarded ‘Pride Pins’ for visits to Trump’s Scottish resort: report

on September 17, 2019
Raw Story
By Tom Boggioni

According to a report from Politico, military officers making extended stays at Donald Trump’s struggling Scottish golf resort are being lavished with extra attention, including being awarded a co-called “Pride Pin” to commemorate their stay.

As part of their continuing investigation on military flight crews being housed at the Turnberry golf course, the reports also states that crews are not just staying over for one night, but may spend days at the resort playing golf while the government picks up the tab.

High-ranking officers, Politico reports, can expect “a version of its ‘Pride Pin,’ a lapel pin featuring the property’s iconic lighthouse — an honor reserved for VIPs — upon their arrival, according to a resort staffer familiar with the practice.”

The report notes that, contrary to earlier reports, stays are not limited to one-night stays.

“Air Force crews on layovers from Prestwick Airport have become a major facet of the life of the resort,” Politico reports. “It also revealed that, rather than being restricted to single-night refueling stops, some visits last multiple nights, expanding the known dimensions of the relationship between the president’s luxury resort and the U.S. military.”

While staying at the resort, military crews are also encouraged to use the golf course – for a fee – with Politico noting that stopovers appear to increase during the slow season for the resort.

“In at least one instance earlier this year, a crew was laid up for multiple nights while their plane underwent repairs, allowing them to hit the links on Turnberry’s world-class course and purchase mementos from the pro shop, where a child’s golf shirt runs 55 British pounds, about $68 at the current exchange rate,” the report states. “While crews were spotted here this summer, one longtime staffer said that they more frequently show up in the winter low season, and stay at the lodges — more spacious, freestanding structures downhill of the main hotel, which looks out over the seashore.”

“While staying at Turnberry, the crews mostly stay on resort grounds. Aside from servers at the Balkenna Tea Room, a mile from the resort, who said they had served uniformed service members of unknown nationality within the past week, staffers at the handful of establishments in the resort’s vicinity said they were unaware of a regular military presence there,” Politico reports.


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« Reply #3572 on: Sep 17, 2019, 06:05 AM »

Ivanka Says She Got Her Moral Compass from Her Dad

9/17/2019
Political Wire

Politico: “At a mid-August fundraiser in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Ivanka Trump was asked to name the personality traits she inherited most from her parents. Without much of a pause, Trump told the crowd of roughly 120 high-end donors that her mother gave her an example of how to be a powerful, successful woman.”

“And her father? He passed onto her his moral compass, she said, according to two event attendees. The exchange was part of a broader conversation about Ivanka Trump’s life in Washington and the White House during a swanky retreat organized by Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in the Wyoming mountains. Her appearance signaled an informal effort by the Trump campaign, family and top aides to woo donors this election cycle by sharing intimate, colorful details about this atypical White House.”


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