EPA dropped salmon protection after Trump met with Alaska governor

 The Environmental Protection Agency told staff scientists that it was no longer opposing a controversial Alaska mining project that could devastate one of the world’s most valuable wild salmon fisheries just one day after President Trump met with Alaska’s governor, CNN has learned.

The EPA publicly announced the reversal July 30, but EPA staff sources tell CNN that they were informed of the decision a month earlier, during a hastily arranged video conference after Trump’s meeting with Gov. Mike Dunleavy. The governor, a supporter of the project, emerged from that meeting saying the president assured him that he’s “doing everything he can to work with us on our mining concerns.”

The news came as a “total shock” to some top EPA scientists who were planning to oppose the project on environmental grounds, according to sources. Those sources asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

The copper-and-gold mine planned near Bristol Bay, Alaska, known as Pebble Mine, was blocked by the Obama administration’s EPA after scientists found that the mine would cause “complete loss of” the bay’s fish habitat. 

EPA insiders tell CNN that the timing of the agency’s internal announcement suggests Trump was personally involved in the decision.

Dunleavy met with Trump aboard Air Force One on June 26, as the President’s plane was on the tarmac in Alaska. The President had stopped there on his way to the G20 summit in Japan. 

Four EPA sources with knowledge of the decision told CNN that senior agency officials in Washington summoned scientists and other staffers to an internal videoconference on June 27, the day after the Trump-Dunleavy meeting, to inform them of the agency’s reversal. The details of that meeting are not on any official EPA calendar and have not previously been reported.

Those sources said the decision disregards the standard assessment process under the Clean Water Act, cutting scientists out of the process.

The EPA’s new position on the project is the latest development in a decade-long battle that has pitted environmentalists, Alaskan Natives and the fishing industry against pro-mining interests in Alaska. 

In 2014, the project was halted because an EPA study found that it would cause “complete loss of fish habitat due to elimination, dewatering, and fragmentation of streams, wetlands, and other aquatic resources” in some areas of Bristol Bay. The agency invoked a rarely used provision of the Clean Water Act that works like a veto, effectively banning mining on the site. 

Some current and former EPA officials say the decision to remove the Clean Water Act restriction ignores scientific evidence. The decision follows a series of regulatory rollbacks and political appointments within the Trump administration’s EPA that have been criticized by former EPA administrators as favoring industry interests over the environment.

The June 26 meeting between Trump and Dunleavy marked the fourth time the two had met since December. 

Dunleavy has publicly supported the mining project and wrote a letter to Trump in March protesting the EPA’s prior handling of the matter. He had dinner with Tom Collier, the CEO of Pebble Limited Partnership, the project’s developer, in February and spoke to him on the phone in May, according to copies of Dunleavy’s calendar reviewed by CNN. A member of Dunleavy’s administration used to work on the Pebble project in public relations.

In response to CNN’s question about whether Dunleavy asked Trump to direct the EPA to lift the restriction during the June meeting, Dunleavy’s press secretary said the two discussed mining and a public land order, but he declined to provide specifics of the conversation.

Dunleavy said in a statement, “This project, like all projects, should be scrutinized and examined under a fair and rigorous permitting process prescribed by law. That was not the case under the EPA’s unprecedented preemptive veto.”

Neither the White House nor the EPA responded to CNN’s question on whether the White House directed the EPA to lift the restriction on the mine.

Christine Todd Whitman, who served as an Environmental Protection Agency administrator during the George W. Bush administration, said the EPA’s decision to lift the restriction on the mine before the agency’s scientists fully reviewed the matter could violate the Clean Water Act. 

[CNN]

Trump offers to guarantee ASAP Rocky’s bail in Sweden

President Trump said he spoke with Sweden’s prime minister Saturday about jailed rapper ASAP Rocky and “offered to personally vouch for his bail.”

Trump tweeted that during a “a very good call” with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, he also “assured him that A$AP was not a flight risk.” The platinum-selling, Grammy-nominated artist has been in custody since early this month over an alleged fight.

Urged on by the first lady and celebrities including Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West, the president had said in a Friday tweet that he would intervene to try to free Rocky, whose real name is Rakim May.

“Our teams will be talking further, and we agreed to speak again in the next 48 hours!” Trump wrote Saturday after speaking with Lofven.

Lofven said in a statement earlier Saturday that he would be glad to speak with Trump about ASAP Rocky’s detention but that his government “cannot and will not attempt to influence prosecutors or courts.”

“I understand that President Trump has a personal interest in the case …. He has expressed the desire for a conversation with me, which is certainly positive,” Lofven said. “I will explain that the Swedish judicial system is independent. In Sweden, everyone is equal before the law, and this includes visitors from other countries.”

Rocky has been behind bars while Swedish police investigate the fight in Stockholm he was allegedly involved in before appearing at a music festival. Videos published on social media appear to show a person being violently thrown onto the ground by Rocky. A defense lawyer has said Rocky acted in self-defense.

Other recording artists have also spoken out on his behalf, including Sean “Diddy” Combs, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, Nicki Minaj and Post Malone.

[Los Angeles Times]

Trump says he won’t take climate action because it would threaten corporate profits

Atmospheric carbon dioxide is at a record high, Europe is in the midst of a hellish heat wave, and extreme weather is ravaging large swaths of the globe, but President Donald Trump dismissed the need for climate action during the G20 summit in Japan on Saturday and falsely claimed that air and water in the U.S. are the “cleanest” they have ever been.

Trump told reporters during a press conference Saturday morning that he is not ignoring the threat of the climate crisis, but he doesn’t want to take action to confront the emergency because such a move would threaten corporate profits.

“So we have the best numbers that we’ve ever had recently,” Trump said. “I’m not looking to put our companies out of business.”

“I’m not looking to create a standard that is so high that we’re going to lose 20-25 percent of our production. I’m not willing to do that,” Trump continued. “We have the cleanest water we’ve ever had, we have the cleanest air—you saw the reports come out recently. We have the cleanest air we’ve ever had. But I’m not willing to sacrifice the tremendous power of what we’ve built up over a long period of time, and what I’ve enhanced and revived.”

As the Associated Press reported after Trump claimed earlier this month that the U.S. is “setting records environmentally” with its air and water quality, “U.S. does not have the cleanest air, and it hasn’t gotten better under the Trump administration.”

“The U.S. ranks poorly on smog pollution,which kills 24,000 Americans per year,” according to AP. “On a scale from the cleanest to the dirtiest, the U.S. is at 123 out of 195 countries measured.”

Furthermore, according to a study published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, tens of millions of Americans are exposed to unsafe drinking water each year.

Trump’s comments came amid reports that the U.S. president attempted to pressure allies to weaken the G20 commitment to fighting climate change.

According to Politico, Trump tried “to enlist the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Australia, and Turkey in opposing commitments to stand by the Paris climate agreement made at previous G-20 summits.”

Trump’s efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, as the U.S. remained the sole outlier in refusing to back the summit’s climate declaration.

“Under the compromise struck at the last minute on Saturday,” Politico reported, “heads of state from 19 of the 20 countries backed the Paris agreement, while the United States secured a carve-out under an ‘agree to disagree’ framework—the same solution as in previous G20s since U.S. President Donald Trump was elected.”

[Raw Story]

Media

Trump pressures other G-20 leaders to weaken climate goals

President Donald Trump is pressuring some of his fellow leaders to help weaken a G-20 commitment on fighting climate change in a move that could kill chances of agreeing on a final leaders’ declaration.

Three senior officials told POLITICO that Trump is trying to enlist the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Australia and Turkey in opposing commitments to stand by the Paris climate agreement made at previous G-20 summits.

The U.S. has refused to back the part of the G-20 declaration that supports the Paris accord since the G-20 summit in Hamburg in 2017, but supported the final communique under an ‘agree to disagree’ arrangement.

But this year, Trump is pushing allies to join him in opposition and French President Emmanuel Macron warned he would rather veto a final communiqué rather than allow the climate change section to be weakened further. Officials said negotiations would go on through the night and would likely be left for the leaders themselves to continue on Saturday.

The failure to secure agreement on a final communiqué would be a stinging defeat for the summit host, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, who has sought to maintain consensus and a spirit of multilateralism.

“The President has spoken with many of those leaders that could be part of those that are lowering the ambition of the language on climate,” a senior Elysée official said. “He spoke with Turkish President Erdoğan, with Brazilian President Bolsonaro, to say that it was absolutely imperative to maintain the format 19+1 … and that no backtracking on the Paris agreement was imaginable.”

For the EU leaders including Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the communiqué must read that the Paris agreement is “irreversible” and that the G-20 countries “fully commit” to implementing it, officials explained.

Backtracking on that specific language would raise the question of whether a final communiqué was even worth it, an official said.

[Politico]

Donald Trump wants to hold next G7 summit at his Failing Florida golf resort

President Donald Trump wants to hold next year’s G7 summit at his Doral golf resort near Miami.

Trump visited the Doral resort for the first time in his presidency this week after holding a rally in Orlando to attend a fundraiser for his re-election campaign, the Washington Post reported. It marked the 126th visit to one of his properties since he was inaugurated.

Trump likes to visit his own properties so much that he suggested holding next year’s G7 summit, a gathering of leaders from the U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, at the Doral resort or one of his other luxury properties, former and current White House officials told the Post.

Aides said that White House staffers and even the White House counsel’s office have pushed back on Trump’s official visits to his properties and voiced concerns about the appearance of him using the power of the presidency to direct taxpayer money into his own companies.

Trump has not listened to the aides and overruled a recommendation against visiting his Turnberry golf club in Scotland last year. He has since visited his golf clubs in Ireland, Los Angeles and now South Florida on official trips.

The trips have been a boon for the resorts. His companies have earned at least $1.6 million in revenue from federal officials and Republican campaigns who had to travel with Trump, according to an analysis by the Post, which reported that the real number is likely much higher because the data used only covered spending through the first half of 2017.

Republicans have even “reshaped” their fundraising schedule, with one-third of fundraisers and donor events attended by Trump being held at his own properties, according to the report. Republican fundraisers told the Post that several groups have held events at Trump’s properties in order to increase the chance that the president will attend.

“The president knows that by visiting his properties, taxpayer dollars will flow directly into his own pockets. Then, unsurprisingly, the president visits his properties all the time,” Ryan Shapiro of the watchdog group Property for the People told the Post.

An earlier analysis found that the Trump campaign and more than three dozen members of Congress had spent upwards of $4 million at Trump’s properties.

The increased political spending at Trump’s properties is at the center of a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia, who allege that Trump’s profits violate laws barring the president from receiving gifts or additional payments from the federal government. Both attorneys general are also alleging that Trump violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution because his Washington hotel accepts payments from foreign governments.

House Democrats passed an amendment in response to Trump’s frequent trips to his properties, seeking to bar the State Department from spending any money at his businesses.

“It’s against the emoluments clause of the Constitution to be making money out of the job,” said Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, a Democrat who sponsored the amendment. “And he does it every chance he can.”

Last year, taxpayers paid at least $30,000 for meeting rooms and hotel stays for then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other officials in luxury suites when Trump hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.

According to State Department emails obtained by Property of the People, the rooms cost 300 percent more than the maximum amount allowed by government policies. Taxpayers were also hit with a $1,000 bar tab that Trump aides ran up at the club, ProPublica reported.

Trump’s repeated trips to his resorts came as both his Doral and Mar-a-Lago properties have struggled to draw non-government business.

Mar-a-Lago’s revenue fell by nearly 10 percent from 2017 to last year, according to Trump’s financial disclosure. Doral’s net operating income has plummeted by 69 percent since Trump took office.

“They are severely underperforming,” a Trump tax consultant told officials earlier this year while seeking tax relief for the properties. “There is some negative connotation that is associated with the brand.”

[Salon]

Trump’s tweet derails House bill opposed by lobbyist with close White House ties

President Trump on Wednesday helped derail a bipartisan casino bill opposed by a key White House ally after tying the measure to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a leading Democratic candidate vying to challenge him in 2020.

The intervention by Trump, contained in a morning tweet, eroded Republican support and prompted House Democrats to postpone a vote on the measure, which would pave the way for a new Massachusetts tribal casino.

The bill, H.R. 312, would confirm the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s sovereignty over 321 acres of land — including the Taunton, Mass., site eyed for the casino project. It was scheduled for a House vote Wednesday under expedited procedures requiring a two-thirds majority to pass, reflecting its broad support.

But opponents, including Rhode Island lawmakers, have argued that the bill would harm the business of two neighboring casinos across the state line. A key Trump ally, American Conservative Union chairman Matthew Schlapp, is lobbying for Twin River Management Group, which operates both Rhode Island casinos. Schlapp’s wife, Mercedes, is the White House strategic communications director.

In a Wednesday morning tweet that blindsided lawmakers of both parties, Trump urged Republicans to oppose the measure.

“Republicans shouldn’t vote for H.R. 312, a special interest casino Bill, backed by Elizabeth (Pocahontas) Warren,” Trump said, deploying a nickname he has frequently used to deride the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. “It is unfair and doesn’t treat Native Americans equally!”

Warren co-sponsored a similar 2018 bill introduced by Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), but there is no Senate legislation pertaining to the tribe pending in the current Congress. The House bill, introduced by Rep. William R. Keating (D-Mass.), has the support of 15 Democratic co-sponsors, including the entire Massachusetts delegation, as well as six Republicans.

The singular focus on Warren appeared to reflect a strategy embraced by Schlapp, who focused on the senator in a Wednesday morning tweet and an email he sent Tuesday to Republicans on Capitol Hill.

“Potentially giving her a win on such an issue is a real head scratcher,” Schlapp wrote in the email obtained by The Washington Post. It linked to a February story on a conservative website headlined “Warren’s Casino Fiasco.”

In a brief phone interview, Schlapp asked for questions to be texted to him but did not respond to a text or a subsequent phone call. He later referred a reporter to his Twitter feed, where he posted a statement saying that he “lobbied against the casino because it is a “terrible idea” and that his wife “had no role in my advocacy.” Schlapp is well-known in Washington Republican circles as the lead organizer of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC. A Warren spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.

According to a person familiar with the circumstances surrounding the tweet, Trump was happy to attack the project once he learned it was a key priority for Warren. He agreed to send the tweet Tuesday evening, though it was not posted until the next morning, a senior White House official said.

But conservative opposition to the bill was brewing even before Trump’s tweet. White House officials have whipped against the vote in recent days — pointing to objections from the Interior Department, which in 2017 reversed a land decision, prompting the need for legislation.

Two prominent Republican lawmakers — Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), the ranking Republican on the Rules Committee and a supporter of the tribal legislation, and Rep. Gary Palmer (Ala.), chairman of the party policy committee and an opponent of the bill — sparred in a Tuesday night leadership meeting and again in a Wednesday morning GOP conference meeting. But Trump’s tweet appeared to seal its fate: House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) canceled plans for a vote less than two hours later.

“You get a little racist tweet from the president, and it creates a backwards stampede of people on the Republican side that previously indicated they were voting yes,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.). “The lobbyist for CPAC did a lot of sabotage in the last few days on this issue, and made it a conservative vs. Democrat issue when it’s not.”

A Democratic aide said the Mashpee bill probably will get a vote next week under different procedures requiring only a simple majority to pass.

Cole, a leading GOP voice on Native American issues, said Trump’s tweet was the “precipitating factor” for the bills getting pulled Wednesday and disputed the notion that the bill ought to be dismissed by Republicans because of Warren’s apparent support.

“The communities in the area want it. The state is on record wanting it. Every member of the Massachusetts delegation wants it. Why should we be intervening in a state like that when there is unanimity?” he said. “The real conflict here is between private gaming interests that don’t want Native American competition.”

Cole said he was not aware of Schlapp’s specific involvement in lobbying against the bill or whether he played a role in getting Trump to tweet about it. “I don’t think he knows very much about Indian issues,” Cole said of Schlapp.

Democrats were happy to highlight Schlapp’s possible role while bemoaning the vote’s cancellation Wednesday.

“It is also not lost on anybody that a lobbyist for the Rhode Island casino seems to have a very tight relationship with the White House,” said Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), who represents the area eyed for the casino project. “It’s sad. The consequence of this is going to be that the tribe that greeted the Pilgrims gets hurt once again by the U.S. government.”

The bill did, if only briefly, create some strange bedfellows between Trump and the all-Democratic Rhode Island delegation — whose members have worked against the Massachusetts casino plan for months.

“All I’m going to say is, I’m glad the bill was pulled from the floor today for a variety of reasons,” said Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.). “I don’t know the president’s interest or reasoning completely. I’m not going to comment on that.”

Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.), who spent much of Wednesday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing lambasting Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr, declined to comment on Schlapp’s potential influence on the president.

He pointed instead to the lobbying done by the Mashpee tribe’s foreign investment partners: “There’s been tremendous lobbying on behalf of a Malaysian hedge fund. I’m very concerned about the level of lobbying.”

[Washington Post]

Trump awards Medal of Freedom to Business Partner Tiger Woods

President Donald Trump bestowed Tiger Woods with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, on Monday evening in the White House Rose Garden. 

The duo shares a love of the game of golf, but both have also risen to unpredictable and spectacular comebacks: Trump from bankruptcy to the presidency; Woods from public shamingfollowing multiple affairs, injuries and a resulting painkiller addiction, to winning this year’s Masters. 

The Medal of Freedom recognizes individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to the executive order designating the award. Since taking office, Trump has presented the award to numerous athletes, including Alan Page, Roger Staubach, and a posthumous award to Babe Ruth.

Trump, who has a long history with Woods, said in a tweet after the Masters that he had congratulated the golfer on the win and his comeback, announcing that he would be giving him the award.

“Spoke to @TigerWoods to congratulate him on the great victory he had in yesterday’s @TheMasters, & to inform him that because of his incredible Success & Comeback in Sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE, I will be presenting him with the PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM!” the tweet said.

Woods’ career slumped following his divorce and surrounding scandal in late 2009 and early 2010. He lost about $20 million from estimated endorsements after sponsors including Gatorade, AT&T, and Accenture cut ties. After a string of losses in 2011, Woods failed to make the World Golf Ranking’s top 50 players list. But one fan who stuck with him: Donald Trump, who supported the embattled golfer in March 2013 via Twitter.

“I remained strong for @TigerWoods during his difficult period. He rewarded me (and himself) by winning at Trump National Doral,” Trump wrote

Days later, Woods regained his No. 1 ranking

While it’s entirely up to the President’s discretion as to who receives the Medal of Freedom, the choice of Woods, who at 43 is still relatively young compared to other recipients, has raised eyebrows for Trump’s business ties to the pro golfer.

Trump, an avid golfer, owns courses across the world and frequently hits the links, playing most recently this Saturday at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia. His Trump National Doral in Miami has a villa named for Woods. According to The New York Times, Woods celebrated his first Masters win in 1997 at Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. 

And, per the Times, Woods is designing a course in Dubai that would be managed by the Trump Organization. Though it was expected to be completed by the end of 2017, it has yet to open, and a spokesman for Woods declined to comment to the Times. 

The President has played multiple rounds with Woods, including alongside Jack Nicklaus in February at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida.

[CNN]

Reality

Donald Trump is giving the Presidential Medal of Freedom to HIS BUSINESS PARTNER, for businesses he still owns, operates, promotes, and receives profits from.

https://tgrdesign.tigerwoods.com/courses/trump-world-golf-club-dubai/

Trump Says He’s Giving Tiger Woods the Presidential Medal of Freedom After ‘His Incredible Success & Comeback’

President Donald Trump tweeted Monday that he plans to give Tiger Woods the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor — in recognition of his “incredible Success & Comeback in Sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE.”

On Sunday Woods, 43, won the Masters Tournament for the fifth time, a surprising reversal of what had been a years-long slide for the country’s most famous golfer.

He walked off the course to an ecstatic response from assembled fans and his friends and family, including his two young children.

“It’s hard to comprehend right now. I mean, honestly, it’s only been a few hours out of winning the tournament,” Woods told CNN later Sunday. “I’m still trying to enjoy it and figure out that I actually won it.”

“I know I have the green jacket on but it’s just, it’s still, I think it’s going to take a little bit of time to sink in,” he added, referring to the iconic jacket awarded to the Masters winner each year.

In his Monday tweet, President Trump said he and Woods had spoken after the Masters win and Trump congratulated him on his “great victory.” The two have been friendly over the years and golfed together earlier this year.

Last summer, Woods said he and Trump have known each other “a number of years.”

“He’s the President of the United States,” Woods said. “You have to respect the office. No matter who is in the office, you may like, dislike personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office.”

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is customarily awarded to a range of figures including artists, business leaders, philanthropists and politicians. Last year Trump awarded medals to, among others, Sen. Orrin Hatch and the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Woods was a trailblazing figure in golf in the ’90s and well into the ’00s where he racked up major win after major win. But the revelation that a series of women said they had affairs with him while he was married to Elin Nordegren seriously damaged his image, and a series of back problems and surgeries imperiled his athletic performance.

In 2017 he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Florida and subsequently pleaded guilty to reckless driving.

His Masters win on Sunday bumped him from No. 12 in the world rankings to No. 6, according to Golf.com. In December 2017, in the wake of his guilty plea and various surgeries, he was ranked No. 1,999.

[Yahoo]

Reality

Tiger Woods works with Donald Trump, is a member of Mar-a-Lago which Trump still owns, and was golfing with Trump a few days before the Masters.

Trump earmarks $20 million for golfer Jack Nicklaus’ pet project in new proposed federal budget

President Donald Trump’s 2019 budget proposal has come under much scrutiny. A portion of the budget requests $20 million to go towards Trump’s golf buddy Jack Nicklaus’s mobile children’s hospital project.

The money will go towards expanding Miami’s Nicklaus Children’s Hospital to offer mobile services, which Nicklaus has long lobbied for.

“The $20 million increase will continue support for the pediatric disaster care pilot initiative which aims to improve pediatric care during emergencies,” the budget proposal reads.

“Nicklaus had lobbied Trump on the golf course in Florida, and he met with HHS Secretary Alex Azar and then-OMB Director Mick Mulvaney in Washington, D.C., to request funds. Trump personally directed HHS to earmark the funds to help Nicklaus develop mobile children’s hospitals, one individual said,” Politico reported.

Trump and Nicklaus have constantly golfed together since November the report said.

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and HHS did not respond to Politico’s requests for comment.

Read the full report here.

[Raw Story]

Trump sent policy pitch from Mar-a-Lago member to VA secretary

President Trump reportedly passed along a handwritten policy pitch from a member of his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., to then-Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkinaccording to a ProPublica report Wednesday.

The note was penned by Trump’s friend Albert Hazzouri, a cosmetic dentist in Scranton, Penn., on Mar-a-Lago stationery after the two saw each other in late 2017.

The letter, which was obtained by ProPublica, is addressed “Dear King” and appears to propose the government pay for more dental care for veterans.

It reportedly was sent on behalf of the American Dental Association (ADA), though ProPublica noted that details of the pitch were murky.

Scrawled at the top of Hazzouri’s note is a message from the president, written in black marker, ProPublica reported.

It says “Send to David S at the V.A.,” referring to Shulkin.

A Trump aide stamped “The president has seen” on the note as well.

The White House and the ADA did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Hill.

The proposal did not advance, according to ProPublica. Shulkin, who was fired in March 2018, told the publication that he does not recall receiving the message. Hazzouri said neither he nor the ADA ever met with the agency.

Hazzouri told the outlet that he had only a vague idea of the proposal he was vouching for on behalf of the ADA, noting that he passed along the note as a favor to the organization.

“I’m really not involved in any politics. I’m just a small-time dentist,” he said. “I guess there’s a lot of money spent on veterans’ care and American Native Indians’ care, and I guess they wanted to have a little hand in it, the American Dental Association, to try to guide what’s going on or whatever.”

A spokeswoman for the ADA declined to elaborate on the reported pitch to the president by Hazzouri, according to ProPublica.

Michael Graham, who leads the ADA’s lobbying arm in Washington, told ProPublica that one of his staffers had raised the topic with Hazzouri. 

“The ADA has been looking into how we can get involved in veterans’ issues,” Graham said. “Lots of vets may not be eligible but need care.”

Hazzouri received a shoutout from Trump during a campaign event in 2016, according to ProPublica. 

“Stand up, Albert. Where the hell are you, Albert? Stand up, Albert. He’s a good golfer, but I’m actually a better golfer than him. Right?” Trump said. 

Addressing the president as “King” was an inside joke with Trump from before the New York business mogul became president, Hazzouri said.

“I call other people King,” he explained. “It’s a very personal thing.”

This is not the first time a Mar-a-Lago club member has appeared to influence the Trump administration, according to ProPublica.

Democrats on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee last month reportedly opened an investigation into whether three associates of Trump, including a Mar-a-Lago club member, influenced hiring decisions at the VA.

[The Hill]

1 2 3 11