Trump to Supporters Harassing Minorities: ‘Stop It’

Donald Trump on Sunday told his supporters to stop harassing minorities, in his first televised sit-down interview since becoming President-elect.

“I am so saddened to hear that,” Trump told CBS’ Lesley Stahl on “60 Minutes” when she said Latinos and Muslims are facing harassment. “And I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it — if it helps, I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: ‘Stop it.'”

Trump directed his comments to his own supporters whom Stahl said have written racist slogans or chanted degrading messages — particularly in schools. It was a powerful appeal to a nation ripped apart by the divisive 2016 campaign. Trump’s election has left Democrats angry and many minorities fearful about the future.

Yet Trump also criticized the protests that have broken out in cities across the United States since his defeat of Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.

Trump said he’s seen “a very small amount” — including “one or two instances” — of racial slurs being directed at minorities, particularly in largely white schools, since his election.
“I would say don’t do it, that’s terrible, because I’m going to bring this country together,” Trump said.

Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Canter told CNN’s “New Day” on Monday that there have been more that 300 incidents that their organization has recorded.

“He needs to take a little bit more responsibility for what’s happening,” Cohen said.

As for anti-Trump protests, Trump said, “I think it’s horrible if that’s happening. I think it’s built up by the press because, frankly, they’ll take every single little incident that they can find in this country, which could’ve been there before. If I weren’t even around doing this, and they’ll make into an event because that’s the way the press is.”


Megyn Kelly Says Trump Offered Gifts to Influence Coverage

The Fox News presenter Megyn Kelly has claimed Donald Trump tried to influence her to cover him positively by offering gifts including free hotel stays.

She said she was not the only journalist who had been offered gifts, saying this was “one of the untold stories of the 2016 campaign”.

The claims are in her memoir, to be released on Tuesday.

In her memoir, Ms Kelly alleges that Mr Trump offered to fly her and her husband to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, or let her and her friends stay at his New York City hotel for free for the weekend. She said she did not accept his offers.

She said Mr Trump had attempted to influence journalists by praising them.

“This is smart,” she writes, “because the media is full of people whose egos need stroking.”

Publication of Ms Kelly’s memoir was originally planned for November 2015, but it was delayed. It is called Settle for More.

(h/t BBC News)


It may be smart but this is quid pro quo, something Trump accused his political rival of, and it is highly illegal and unethical.

For months Trump and Fox News claimed quid-pro-quo in the emails of Hillary Clinton, which never materialized once investigators looked into the allegations.

Trump Keeps Up Media Attacks With Misleading Tweets About New York Times


President-elect Donald Trump sounded very much like presidential candidate Donald Trump on Sunday morning in a pair of misleading tweets about the New York Times.

According to the New York Times Co.’s latest earnings report, the number of print copies it sold in the third quarter was down from the same period in 2015, but the decline was more than offset by 116,000 new digital-only subscriptions. Overall, third-quarter circulation revenue rose 3 percent; through the first nine months of the year, circulation revenue was up 2.8 percent.

Since Trump launched his White House campaign in June 2015, digital-only news subscriptions to the Times have increased 35 percent, to more than 1.3 million.

Trump’s suggestion that the Times is bleeding readers because of “very poor and highly inaccurate coverage” does not square with the numbers.

The president-elect’s interpretation of a letter to subscribers as an apology for bad coverage is a stretch. Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. wrote Friday that one of the “inevitable questions” in the aftermath of the campaign is: “Did Donald Trump’s sheer unconventionality lead us and other news outlets to underestimate his support among American voters?”

“As we reflect on this week’s momentous result, and the months of reporting and polling that preceded it, we aim to rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism,” Sulzberger added.

Trump’s tweet mirrored coverage of the letter in some conservative media outlets, which seized on portions of Sulzberger’s message. “NY Times admits biased coverage on Trump,” read a headline on Newsmax. A headline on Breitbart News, chaired by Trump campaign chief executive Steve Bannon, read, “New York Times publisher promises to ‘rededicate’ paper to honest reporting.”

“Had the paper actually been fair to both candidates, it wouldn’t need to rededicate itself to honest reporting,” Michael Goodwin wrote in the New York Post.

Yet Sulzberger’s full letter makes clear that he was simply renewing a promise that he believes the Times fulfilled during the campaign.

“We believe we reported on both candidates fairly during the presidential campaign,” he wrote. “You can rely on the New York Times to bring the same level of fairness, the same level of scrutiny, the same independence to our coverage of the new president and his team.”

(h/t Washington Post)

Repeal Obamacare? Maybe Not, Says Trump

The “repeal” of Obamacare had been the top priority for the incoming Trump administration in the chaotic week after his surprise win.

Maybe not so much now.

The president-elect has a Republican-dominated House and Senate in Congress to help him try, but experts say full repeal won’t be so easy. And it may not be what the new administration even wants now.

The Trump transition team posted a policy website with a skeleton rundown of priorities.

“A Trump Administration will work with Congress to repeal the ACA (Affordable Care Act)and replace it with a solution that includes Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and returns the historic role in regulating health insurance to the states,” it reads.

But Trump told the Wall Street Journal he would consider keeping two of its most popular provisions — one that allows adult children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans, and another that would forbid insurance companies from refusing to cover “pre-existing conditions.”

“I like those very much,” the newspaper quoted Trump as saying Friday.

The Obama administration is still talking up the law, announcing via Twitter on Thursday that 100,000 people signed up for coverage on the “Obamacare” exchanges on Wednesday, the day after the election.

The ACA, widely known as Obamacare, has been the signature achievement of Obama’s two terms. It sought to transform the unruly, expensive and inefficient U.S. health care system by stopping what were widely considered insurance company abuses, such as dumping people when their health conditions got too expensive to cover and refusing to pay for pre-existing conditions.

The ACA requires health insurance companies to pay for cancer screenings, wellness checks and vaccinations with no co-pay, and it allows children to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.

It puts into place gradual incentives to move from a system where people pay piecemeal for health treatments and, instead, reward doctors and hospitals for keeping patients well and managing their diseases. And most of all, it sought to provide health insurance to the 15 percent of Americans who did not have it before the law passed.

It’s gone a long way to doing that. Only 8.9 percent of Americans now lack health insurance.

Republicans actually like many of these aspects of Obamacare, which was loosely based on Mitt Romney’s plan for Massachusetts when he was the Republican governor there.

“The Administration recognizes that the problems with the U.S. health care system did not begin with — and will not end with the repeal of — the ACA,” the new Trump policy statement reads.

Much of the public debate has come because the average person does not understand what Obamacare does and what it doesn’t do, said Timothy Jost, an emeritus professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law and an expert on health care.

“Frankly, everything that has gone wrong with the health care system for the past six years has been blamed on Obamacare,” Jost said. “Everything that goes wrong with the health care system for the next four years will be blamed on Trump care. People who think we can just repeal Obamacare and everything will be great are in for a very, very, very rude surprise.”

Unlikely to lose coverage in 2017

For one thing, the Trump administration is going to worry about the political risks of leaving 20 million people suddenly without health insurance.

“The number of uninsured is expected to grow to about 50 million people with ‘repeal and replace’,” PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) says in a report released this week. “Trump’s challenge will be to lower that number through his replacement proposals.”

Trump cannot do much alone.

“The White House is just one part of a much larger machine. To really put his stamp on health policy, Trump must work with a patchwork of federal lawmakers, regulatory agencies, trade and advocacy groups, and the Supreme Court. These institutions will either accelerate or decelerate Trump’s agenda,” PwC said.

The people who now have coverage on the exchanges — including people signing up right now during open enrollment — are unlikely to lose their coverage in the coming year, experts from all political viewpoints agree.

“The new administration is going to want to do something fast to show that they are keeping their promise to fundamentally change the federal role in the health care system,” said Michael Sparer, a professor of health policy and management at Columbia University.

One thing a new Republican administration could do immediately is drop appeals against last May’s federal court ruling that said the Obama administration was illegally paying insurance companies to help keep health insurance costs down for low-income clients.

These so-called cost sharing reductions reimburse health insurers for charging lower co-pays and deductibles for more than 60 percent of Obamacare customers. Congress refused to allocate money to do that, and a federal district judge ruled in May that the administration couldn’t spend that money. The federal government kept on doing so while it appealed.

Symbolic moves

A new administration could stop fighting that right away, although it’s not a particularly sexy issue for voters. And it might irritate health insurance companies, Jost said.

“I don’t think anyone disagrees that it would be the insurers left holding the bag,” Jost told NBC News.

A new administration could also stop fighting lawsuits against the mandate that employers pay for birth control for women covered under their insurance plans, Sparer said. That might be popular with conservatives who said the requirement forced them to violate their religious beliefs.

There could be symbolic moves, also. The new Republican-led Congress may immediately vote on a repeal that will almost certainly be stopped by a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. While the Democrats do not have a majority in the Senate, they have enough seats to stop some legislation with a filibuster.

“I think the only grand gesture they can make is to blame Democrats for filibustering their attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act,” said Jost.

Sparer agreed that is likely. Republicans could campaign to get more seats in the Senate in the 2018 elections. “That gives them a couple of years to think about what the replacement plan they want to come up with is,” Sparer said.

A new Trump Health and Human Services Department could also stop promoting open enrollment onto the Obamacare exchanges, which closes at the end of January —10 days after Inauguration Day. Enrollment usually spikes right at the deadline, and simply stopping outreach could hit numbers.

In fact, doing nothing could accomplish a lot, said Jost.

“It has been a full court press by the Obama administration since 2010 to get this thing implemented and it has taken a Herculean effort,” Jost said. “As soon as it stops moving forward, it could start moving backward pretty quickly. Almost just by doing nothing there could be some very negative effects.”

Tevi Troy, president of the American Health Policy Institute, says Republicans plan to use the budget process to tweak the law. “I would look to the reconciliation package,” he told NBC News. “This is the mechanism for how we move forward on this.”

Re-branding with a new plan

Budget issues can pass the Senate with a simple majority, bypassing Democrats who may object, although they must go through a lengthy process involving committees.

Troy said the GOP has been discussing ways to provide a transition period so as not to throw the health insurance and health care industries into chaos.

“What I always hear is that Republicans have no plans on replacing the Affordable Care Act. I think that is not only untrue, but unfair,” Troy said.

An immediate target may be the unpopular exchanges, the web-based system for buying health insurance. Troy says they are unnecessary, and changing them up would be an easy way for Republicans to re-brand Obamacare. “People can get health care without exchanges,” he said.

Trump has put forward the idea of allowing people to buy health insurance across state lines, and Troy said that could lower costs by creating more competition, although it will be a messy task to undertake since insurance is now firmly regulated by states.

Trump’s also advocated the use of health savings accounts and tax credits to help people pay for health insurance, although experts such as Jost say it’s not clear how those would help low-income people.

The mandate to buy health insurance is another obvious target for a new administration, even though Republicans originally supported the idea. It’s there to try to ensure that enough healthy people buy health insurance so that companies can profitably pay for the sick, but it’s been seen as onerous.

And it hasn’t worked well as an incentive, said Caroline Pearson of consultancy Avalere Health. Simply dropping enforcement of the mandate would be popular and easy, while causing little damage to existing coverage.

(h/t NBC News)

Trump Kids to Run Business While on Transition Team

The Trump Organization said on Friday it was vetting new business structures aimed at transferring management control to three of President-elect Donald Trump’s children and a team of executives.

The Trump Organization said in a statement it was planning to transfer control of the portfolio of businesses to Donald Trump Jr, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and other executives.

Earlier on Friday, the three Trump children – the oldest of Trump’s five children – were also named as members of Trump’s Presidential Transition Team Executive Committee.

“This is a top priority at the organization and the structure that is ultimately selected will comply with all applicable rules and regulations,” a spokesperson for the Trump Organization said in a statement.

Federal conflict-of-interest law does not apply to the president, but most White House occupants in the last few decades have voluntarily placed their assets in a blind trust to avoid any suggestion of impropriety.

Experts in government ethics said that giving over control to Trump’s children would do virtually nothing to prevent potential conflicts of interest, since there’s usually no daylight between one’s personal interest and the interest of one’s immediate family members.

“It doesn’t meet any of the standards of a blind trust if the kids are running the company,” said Kenneth Gross, a Washington lawyer who specializes in advising political clients on compliance and ethics.

Gross noted that the official transition team roles that Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump now have would appear to complicate matters further.

“If they’re going to be involved in government functions – and they’re starting down that road – and running the business, that’s going to make it very difficult to separate the government and business functions and deal with the conflicts of interest,” Gross said.

All three children already have roles in the Trump Organization, according to the company’s website. Ivanka Trump is executive vice president of development and acquisitions, charged with domestic and global expansion of the company’s real estate interests.

Donald Trump Jr is an executive vice president, and works to expand the company’s real estate, retail, commercial, hotel and golf interests nationally and internationally. Eric Trump is executive vice president of development and acquisitions, responsible for new project acquisition, development and construction globally.

Typically, a blind trust involves turning over assets to an independent financial manager with no prior relationship to the owner. In addition, a blind trust derives its name from the idea that the owner would no longer know what assets are sold or bought. For instance, someone with extensive stock holdings would have no way of knowing which companies’ shares he or she still owned in a blind trust.

Trump’s portfolio includes interests in hundreds of limited liability companies, many overseas, as well as numerous real estate properties both domestic and foreign.

Short of selling the entire Trump empire, experts said, he will find it difficult to create a trust sufficiently “blind” to avoid the possibility of any conflicts.

(h/t Huffington Post)


This is already showing signs of a conflict of interest with Trump family using their position to help enrich their organization with insider information. This is the type of corruption Trump ran against, but only took a few days after being elected to engage in.

Trump complains About ‘Unfair’ Protestors, Deletes His Tweets Calling for Revolution in 2012

President-elect Donald Trump has got his Twitter back. After meeting with President Obama at the White House yesterday, Trump fired off a couple of tweets, including one complaining about “professional protestors” who he claims have been “incited by the media.” “Very unfair!” was the initial verdict, although a later tweet praised the protestors’ “passion for our great country.”

Trump’s judgement on the protests (which are set to continue tonight) seems typically hypocritical considering his reaction to Obama’s reelection in 2012. On November 7th that year, Trump tweeted that US citizens should “march on Washington and stop this travesty,” and that the country needed to “fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice.”

Here’s Trump in 2012:

And here he is in 2016:

In one tweet that was recently deleted (but can be seen here and here), Trump even called for revolution, saying of Obama: “He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!” He blamed America’s “phoney” electoral college system for the result, despite the fact Obama did not actually lose the popular vote — he beat Republican candidate Mitt Romney by 5 million votes.

Of course, the (imaginary) state of affairs Trump railed against as undemocratic in 2012, has won him the presidency in 2016. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a relatively small margin — some 400,000 votes — but lost the election thanks to the electoral college.

(h/t The Verge)




Trump Campaigned Against Lobbyists, But They Fill His Transition Team

Donald Trump campaigned as an outsider who vowed to “drain the swamp” in Washington, but the president-elect’s transition team is packed with veterans of the GOP establishment, as well as with lobbyists for the fossil fuel, chemical, pharmaceutical and tobacco industries.

As Trump and his aides vet nominees for his Cabinet and lay out a first 100-day agenda, they are leaning heavily on the sort of DC insiders that the billionaire railed against on the campaign trail — people who cut their teeth working for Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and former nominee Mitt Romney, as well as on the influence peddlers Trump accuses of ‘rigging’ the system against ordinary Americans.

One Republican lobbyist told POLITICO that the president-elect has no choice but to turn to GOP veterans with government experience to launch a new administration.

“Who else are you going to go to?” the lobbyist said. “Unless you get some used car salesman from Dubuque, Iowa, you go to policy people.”

To be sure, members of the transition team are not guaranteed jobs in the Trump administration — for now, they’ve been enlisted simply to assemble policy papers, vet potential nominees and develop road maps for governing. But their involvement makes it more difficult for the president-elect to portray himself as a political outsider — a development that at least some regard as positive.

“The fact that Donald Trump is reaching into the big pool of his party for some of the most highly qualified candidates is a good thing,” said one former Bush administration official. “It would be a huge mistake to not draw on that talent. I understand the campaign rhetoric. But if he’s not drawing from the Republican Party — and he’s obviously not drawing from the Democratic Party — where would he draw from?”

But some in the original band of insurgents are resentful. “The Bush crew is definitely trying to pretend that Trump’s win is not a direct repudiation of their failed administration,” said one early supporter. “I’m surprised by the hypocrisy of the whole thing.”

There’s also Ado Machida, a top domestic policy aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney; David Bernhardt, Interior Department solicitor, and James F. Manning, a senior Education official, both for the younger Bush; and Ken Blackwell, undersecretary at Housing and Urban Development, and David Malpass, deputy assistant secretary of state, both for the elder Bush.

Former Bush officials are expected to find a place in Trump’s Cabinet too. Pamela Patenaude, a potential pick to lead Housing and Urban Development, was an assistant HUD secretary under the younger Bush; and Van Hipp Jr., a former deputy assistant Army secretary for the elder Bush, is seen as a leading candidate to be Army secretary.

William Evers, a possible pick for Education Secretary, worked at the younger Bush’s Education Department; Victoria Lipnic, a candidate for Labor Secretary, worked at his Labor Department; and Robert Grady, who served the elder Bush, is seen as a candidate to lead Interior, Energy, EPA or the Office of Management and Budget.

Trump’s transition team is also flush with lobbyists, raising questions about the president-elect’s promises to limit the influence of lobbyists in government.

During an October speech in Wisconsin, Trump vowed to “make our government honest once again.” He pledged to ask Congress to ban executive branch officials from lobbying the government for five years after they return to the private sector and to issue a similar five-year ban on former lawmakers and their staffs. He also proposed a lifetime ban on senior executive branch officials lobbying for foreign governments. And he said he would “close all the loopholes that former government officials use by labeling themselves consultants and advisers when we all know they are lobbyists.”

But his transition team includes lobbyists who represent powerful corporate interests, according to an organization chart obtained by POLITICO and lobby disclosure filings:

Cindy Hayden of tobacco giant, Altria, is in charge of Trump’s Homeland Security team.

J. Steven Hart, chairman of Williams & Jensen, is in charge of the Labor team. His clients include Visa, the American Council of Life Insurers, Anthem, Cheniere Energy, Coca-Cola, General Electric, PhRMA and United Airlines.

Michael McKenna of MWR Strategies, who is working on the Energy Department team, lobbies for Engie (formerly GDF Suez), Southern Company and Dow Chemical.

David Bernhardt of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck who leads the Interior Department team, lobbies for the Westlands Water District in central California and used to represent Freeport LNG and Rosemont Copper.

Michael Torrey, who has the Agriculture Department portfolio, has his own firm representing the American Beverage Association and the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau.

Mike Catanzaro of CGCN Group, lobbies for the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, a refining group, as well as Hess, Encana, Noble Energy and Devon Energy. Catanzaro is working on energy independence, along with Mike Ference, a lobbyist at the firm S-3 Group, representing Halliburton, Koch Industries and Marathon Oil.

Rolf Lundberg, who’s tasked with trade reform, worked at the Chamber of Commerce until 2013 and spun off his own lobbying firm representing Choice Hotels and the International Franchise Association.

Jim Carter, who oversees tax reform, is an in-house lobbyist for manufacturing company Emerson.

Transportation and infrastructure is being led by Martin Whitmer, the founder partner of lobbying firm Whitmer & Worrall who represents the American Association of Railroads, the National Asphalt Pavement Association and the Utilities Technology Council.

It is not known whether Trump will allow former lobbyists to serve in his administration — instead of simply limiting what they do after leaving government. Unlike Trump, Hillary Clinton’s transition team banned lobbyists altogether and made staff sign a code of ethics requiring transition officials to recuse themselves from working on any issue on which they have lobbied in the past year.

A person close to Trump’s transition told POLITICO that he has not heard any discussion about limiting the role of lobbyists in Trump’s administration.

“When you lock lobbyists out, you’re really handcuffing yourself,” the person said. “It looks good on paper and it sounds good … But you’re cheating yourself and really limiting the talent pool.”

Indeed, even Obama had trouble keeping lobbyists out of government. The president issued several waivers permitting former lobbyists to work in his administration. Some Democrats privately acknowledge such limits are important symbolically, but are difficult to enforce.

“It is a big error to sweep with a broad brush when it comes to lobbyists,” said another former Bush administration official, “because some of the most seasoned and capable people able to responsibly pull the levers of government are among the lobbying ranks. To deprive yourself from that skill set is a mistake.”

Trump’s decision to rely on veterans of all stripes comes as a relief for many in the establishment.

“Look I don’t want his administration filled with Breitbart and Ann Coulter — those kind of folks,” said Peter Wehner, who served in the last three GOP administrations and who has been an outspoken Trump critic. “I hope for the sake of the country that he gets competent people in place who know how to run the government because he has no earthly idea what to do. I’m sure he’s in the process of figuring out that the presidency is not a reality television show.”

A Trump spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.

(h/t Politico)


Trump supporters, say hello to your first of many broken campaign promises.

Trump: Minnesota Has ‘Suffered Enough’ Accepting Refugees

In a pitch to suspend the nation’s Syrian refugee program, Donald Trump said Minnesotans have “suffered enough” from accepting Somali immigrants into their state.

“Here in Minnesota you have seen firsthand the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state, without your knowledge, without your support or approval,” Trump said at a Minneapolis rally Sunday afternoon.

He said his administration would suspend the Syrian refugee program and not resettle refugees anywhere in the United States without support from the communities, while Hillary Clinton’s “plan will import generations of terrorism, extremism and radicalism into your schools and throughout your communities.”

You’ve suffered enough in Minnesota,” he said.

Minnesota is home to nearly one in three Somalis in the United States, according to 2010 American Community Survey data.

Trump’s Minnesota rally came within hours of the FBI announcing its review of newly discovered Clinton emails did not change its original conclusion to not recommend criminal charges. Trump did not address the FBI’s new statement.

(h/t Time)

Trump Claims His Fans Beating Up a Peaceful Protester Was an “Assassination Attempt” On Him

Donald Trump was rushed off a stage here Saturday by Secret Service agents during a campaign speech after an incident in the crowd near the front of the stage.

A Secret Service spokesperson said in a statement there was a commotion in the crowd and an “unidentified individual” shouted “gun,” though no weapon was found after a “thorough search.”

A man, who later identified himself to reporters as Austyn Crites, was then immediately detained and led out by a throng of police officers, Secret Service agents and SWAT officers armed with assault rifles to a side room.
A law enforcement official later told CNN no charges were filed against Crites.
After he was released from custody, Crites told reporters the incident started off when he raised a “Republicans Against Trump” sign.
Crites said he was then assaulted by a group of people around him before anyone shouted anything about a gun.

“All of a sudden, because they couldn’t grab the sign, or whatever happened, bam, I get tackled by all these people who were just, like, kicking me and grabbing me in the crotch and just, just beating the crap out of me,” Crites said, according to KTNV. “And somebody yells something about a gun, and so that’s when things really got out of hand.”
Crites told ABC News Sunday he “just wanted to voice my displeasure,” and said he has no association with the Clinton campaign, other than personally supporting the Democratic nominee.

“I was a Republican supporter through the primaries, and I have donated money to the Hillary Clinton campaign recently because I think that Trump is a disaster for the country,” he said, adding he has already voted for Clinton.

The alleged assault against Crites is just the latest such incident to occur at a Trump rally, where other protesters have previously been roughed up.

Trump was unharmed and returned to the stage minutes later to finish his speech.
“Nobody said it was going to be easy for us, but we will never be stopped. We will never be stopped. I want to thank the Secret Service. These guys are fantastic,” Trump said, before returning to his stump speech.

Trump was in the middle of his stump speech when the commotion occurred. He was looking into the crowd, his hand over his eyes to block the glare from the stage lights, when Secret Service agents grabbed him and escorted him off the stage. Trump ducked his head as he left the stage.

The crowd surged backward, some supporters with frightened looks on their faces, as the Secret Service and police tactical units rushed in to detain a man.

(h/t CNN)


Melania Trump Illegally Modeled in U.S. Prior to Getting Work Visa

Melania Trump was paid for 10 modeling jobs in the United States worth $20,056 that occurred in the seven weeks before she had legal permission to work in the country, according to detailed accounting ledgers, contracts and related documents from 20 years ago provided to The Associated Press.

The details of Mrs. Trump’s early paid modeling work in the U.S. emerged in the final days of a bitter presidential campaign in which her husband, Donald Trump, has taken a hard line on immigration laws and those who violate them. Trump has proposed broader use of the government’s E-verify system allowing employers to check whether job applicants are authorized to work. He has noted that federal law prohibits illegally paying immigrants.

Mrs. Trump, who received a green card in March 2001 and became a U.S. citizen in 2006, has always maintained that she arrived in the country legally and never violated the terms of her immigration status. During the presidential campaign, she has cited her story to defend her husband’s hard line on immigration.

The wife of the GOP presidential nominee, who sometimes worked as a model under just her first name, has said through an attorney that she first came to the U.S. from Slovenia on Aug. 27, 1996, on a B1/B2 visitor visa and then obtained an H-1B work visa on Oct. 18, 1996.

The documents obtained by the AP show she was paid for 10 modeling assignments between Sept. 10 and Oct. 15, during a time when her visa allowed her generally to be in the U.S. and look for work but not perform paid work in the country. The documents examined by the AP indicate that the modeling assignments would have been outside the bounds of her visa.

It is highly unlikely that the discovery will affect the citizenship status of Mrs. Trump. The government can seek to revoke the U.S. citizenship of immigrants after the fact in cases when it determines a person willfully misrepresented or concealed facts relevant to his naturalization. But the government effectively does this in only the most egregious cases, such as instances involving terrorism or war crimes.

The disclosures about the payments come as Mrs. Trump takes on a more substantial role advocating for her husband’s candidacy. She made her first speech in months Thursday, in which she spoke of her time working as a model in Europe and her decision to come to the U.S.

“As a young entrepreneur, I wanted to follow my dream to a place where freedom and opportunity were in abundance. So of course, I came here,” she said. “Living and working in America was a true blessing, but I wanted something more. I wanted to be an American.”

The documents obtained by the AP included ledgers, other accounting documents and a management agreement signed by Mrs. Trump from Metropolitan International Management that covered parts of 1996 and 1997. The AP obtained the files this week after seeking copies since August from employees of the now-defunct modeling firm, after Mrs. Trump made comments earlier this summer that appeared inconsistent with U.S. immigration rules.

A New York immigration lawyer whom Mrs. Trump asked to review her immigration documents, Michael J. Wildes, also reviewed some of the ledgers at AP’s request. Wildes said in a brief statement that “these documents, which have not been verified, do not reflect our records including corresponding passport stamps.” He did not elaborate or answer additional questions asking for clarification. Wilde appeared to be referring to Mrs. Trump’s arrival in the United States on Aug. 27, 1996, one day after the ledgers list a charge for car service to pick up Mrs. Trump from the airport. Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks also did not answer additional written questions from the AP.

Since questions arose earlier this year, Mrs. Trump has declined to publicly release her immigration records. Wildes, the immigration lawyer, released a letter in September that laid out the details of what he said Mrs. Trump’s immigration records show, including a seven-week window in which Mrs. Trump was in the U.S. before her work visa was issued.

At the time, Wildes was responding to accusations that Mrs. Trump was in the U.S. more than a year before she first obtained a visa to the country, for a modeling job several media outlets reported taking place in New York in 1995 for a January 1996 issue of Max Magazine, a French men’s magazine that is now defunct. Wildes’ letter claimed that Trump never modeled in the U.S. before 1996, when she obtained a work visa. A Politico investigation later found that the Max photo shoot was published in the February 1997 issue of the magazine, putting the time of Mrs. Trump’s modeling gig in late 1996.

But during the seven-week period between the end of August and mid-October of 1996, the ledgers list modeling work for clients that included Fitness magazine and Bergdorf Goodman department store. The management agreement, which said it was not an employment agreement, included a handwritten date of Aug. 27, 1996. The top of the document said it was “made and entered into as of this 4th day of September 1996.”

Many of the documents were part of a legal dispute related to the dissolution of the firm in the late 1990s and found recently in storage. The accounting ledgers for the firm’s models were listed on hundreds of pages of continuously fed paper that appeared yellowed with age. They were authenticated by a former employee who worked at the firm at the time. The employee spoke on condition of anonymity because this person feared retaliation and threats from Trump’s presidential campaign.

Exhibit markings with the records were also consistent with documents filed in New York state court, including a deposition of one former partner that referred to the same exhibit number. The sworn testimony describing the exhibit’s content matches the documents obtained by the AP.

A former partner, Paolo Zampolli, who previously told the AP that he recruited Mrs. Trump to come to the U.S. as a model, confirmed that the contract language was used by his firm and his signature appeared on the document. Mrs. Trump’s signature on the contract resembled her signature on her marriage license recorded in 2005. Asked about the two dates on the document, Zampolli said he usually vacationed in Europe each August and likely arranged for the contract to be formally executed when he returned to New York after Labor Day, even though Mrs. Trump had signed it eight days earlier.

Zampolli previously told the AP that Mrs. Trump obtained a work visa before she modeled professionally in the United States. He said the ledgers for Mrs. Trump were consistent with printouts used by his firm at the time, but he would not personally vouch for them because he said money matters were handled by the company’s chief financial officer, who has since died.

Zampolli said he did not recall Mrs. Trump working without legal permission. “Honestly, I don’t know. It’s like 20 years ago,” he said. “The contract looks (like) a real one and the standard one.”

Foreigners are not allowed to use a visitor visa to work for pay in the U.S. for American companies. Doing so would violate the terms of that visa and could prohibit a foreigner from later changing his or her immigration status in the U.S. or bar the foreigner from the United States again without special permission to come back. The E-verify system started in 1997- after Mrs. Trump came to the country- and was dramatically expanded after 2007.

Some ledgers obtained by the AP identify Mrs. Trump by her professional name and detail her involvement with the modeling agency from July 18, 1996, through Sept. 26, 1997. Other documents from the same accounting ledgers identify Mrs. Trump as Melanija Knaus and list $20,526 in gross earnings for the period before she was granted her work visa on Oct. 18, 1996. The documents also show the modeling company paid for her rent, lent her money and paid for her pager.

Some ledgers were first made available to True.Ink, an online lifestyle publication, and then independently obtained and verified by the AP.

Metropolitan International Management managed the careers of about 65 women in 1996 and 1997, according to court records. It paid the women as independent contractors, collecting a 20 percent commission and deducting expenses. The ledger shows that the firm also deducted federal taxes from the models’ gross earnings, including Mrs. Trump’s.

Mrs. Trump’s immigration story isn’t the first controversy the would-be first lady has faced on the campaign trail.

Earlier this summer, after giving a speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump was the subject of much criticism for lifting portions of her uplifting address from Michelle Obama’s own Democratic convention speech back in 2008. Her biography for the convention program also incorrectly claimed she had been granted a college degree in design and architecture at the university in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

(h/t CBS News)

1 180 181 182 183 184 244