Trump praises Jim Jordan at Ohio rally: ‘A brave, tough cookie’

President Trump brought Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on stage at his rally in Ohio on Saturday night, giving the conservative lawmaker a public boost as he runs for Speaker of the House.

“Jim Jordan, how great is he?” Trump said, before bringing the lawmaker on stage.

The crowd chanted “Speaker of the House” as Jordan stood on stage.

Trump’s public nod of camaraderie with the conservative Republican, a regular presence on cable television who has criticized special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation and backed the impeachment of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, was also notable given the controversy dogging Jordan surrounding allegations he knew of sexual abuse while serving as a wresting coach at the Ohio State University.

Jordan has denied that he knew of instances of abuse. Some past wrestlers from the program have backed him, while others say he either knew or had to have known of the allegations.

Once Jordan took the stage, he rattled through a list of Trump’s accomplishments, including deregulations, nominating Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“What a great defender he’s been, what courage,” Trump said after Jordan left the stage. “He’s a brave, tough cookie along with some of his friends.”

[The Hill]

Emails reveal alarm when Trump’s golf course gripes leaked

Days after Donald Trump was elected in 2016, a group of four British political figures met with him in Trump Tower in New York. They posted photos of themselves there beaming before a big golden door and, when they returned to Britain, one of them couldn’t help bragging to the BBC about the meeting in which they had discussed Trump’s dislike for windmills that could ruin the views from one of his Scottish golf courses.

Arron Banks, who donated an amount equivalent to more than $10 million to the Brexit cause, and his spokesman Andy Wigmore were among the first people to meet Trump after his election in November 2016 alongside Breitbart UK editor Raheem Kassam and Nigel Farage, the former chairman of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

“He doesn’t like wind farms at all,” Wigmore told the BBC weeks after the meeting. “He says, ‘When I look out of my window and I see these wind mills it offends me.'” Wigmore added that the President-elect had asked him and his British counterparts at the meeting to campaign “about getting rid of wind farms in the way they currently stand.” He told a British newspaperthat Trump “kept returning” to the “issue of wind farms.”

British political operatives met with Russian ambassador days after Trump visit
The revelations led to further scrutiny of the President-elect’s potential business conflicts, and according to the emails, stoked Trump’s anger.

Wigmore’s comments, delivered with a smile, touched off a distressed email exchange, according to emails viewed by CNN. Some of Wigmore’s and Banks’ emails have recently been provided to congressional and parliamentary investigators looking into Russian interference in the United Kingdom and the US. CNN reported last month that Wigmore and Banks were also in regular contact with the Russian ambassador in London at the time.

In the emails, Kassam urged Wigmore to walk back his comments.

“WHY DID YOU GIVE THOSE QUOTES. This was a PRIVATE MEETING AND YOU HAVE F***** ALL OF US NOW,” Kassam emailed Wigmore.

Appearing to suggest over email they obfuscate the truth, Kassam wrote that Wigmore should issue a “full retraction immediately,” and claim the conversation with Trump about the windmills “never happened.”

UK investigates alleged Russian links to Brexit campaign
Kassam added, “We are going to have to distance ourselves from this. That conversation never took place and I’m afraid you have misremembered as a result of your overexcitement.”

A few weeks after their post-election Trump Tower meeting, Trump met with Farage at a party, according to an email sent by Banks to Wigmore and a colleague.

Banks wrote of Trump, “Apparently he’s still annoyed about the wind farm story (naughty boy andy) but I guess there’s not much we can do about that.”

For years before his election, Trump had publicly opposed the proposed Scottish wind farm that could be seen from a golf course he owns on Scotland’s east coast, even writing to a top Scottish official about the issue. Trump’s comments to the group, Wigmore suggested, were in part about that wind farm. Trump is expected to visit Turnberry, another golf course he owns on Scotland’s west coast, this week while he is in Europe for meetings with NATO and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Wind farms blowback

Wigmore’s November 2016 account of Trump’s disdain for wind farms, particularly those near his Scottish golf course, prompted a flurry of news reporting in the United States and drew further scrutiny about the President-elect’s potential conflicts of interest arising from his businesses.

When The New York Times asked Trump transition team spokeswoman Hope Hicks about the conversation in 2016, she said that the people involved denied that Trump had brought up the subject of wind farms.

But when the Times pointed out to Hicks Wigmore’s comments, she stopped responding.

At a later point in November 2016, Trump told the Times he “might have” brought up the topic of wind farms during the meeting.

The White House did not return CNN’s requests for comment about the newly revealed emails.

One of the emails from Kassam to Wigmore read, “You have to retract this in its entirety. What you have done is just activated the entire environmentalist lobby against the President‐elect. Your name is mud in the transition team right now and you need to issue a full retraction immediately. That you made that information up because you wanted to fill space in an interview and that you’re very sorry about it and that it never happened.”

How Europe’s populists are following the Steve Bannon playbook
Kassam told CNN, “The reason I got so mad at Andy (Wigmore) was because I think the President-elect literally mentioned wind farms once for a second, there was no sort of policy discussion about wind farms or anything like that.”

Kassam said he wasn’t asking Wigmore to lie about the meeting when he asked him to retract his comments, but did want his colleague to walk-back the suggestion that there was a detailed conversation about wind farms

“Andy isn’t exactly Mr. Attention-to-detail,” Kassam added.

Speaking to CNN, Wigmore acknowledged he was taken aback by Trump’s reaction to his comments but said he didn’t regret the indiscretion.

“Donald Trump is a man who speaks his mind,” Wigmore said. “No one expected him to win in 2016 just as no one expected people to vote for Brexit. But they did.”

Wigmore, Farage and Banks all played leading roles in Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in June 2016, and later went on to campaign for Trump, attending numerous rallies and debates across the United States in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election.

A Russia revelation

The emails obtained by CNN, of which the details of some were first reported by The Observer and The Sunday Times newspapers in London, show that a few days after the men’s post-election meeting at Trump Tower, Wigmore and Banks met the Russian ambassador in London.

CNN reported in June that, at the time of the 2016 meeting, Wigmore and Banks, were in regular contact with Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador in London, as part of what became a pattern of regular contact with the embassy.

There is no evidence that the Trump campaign knew about the men’s ties to the Russian government.

Kassam told CNN he didn’t know two of the other men were meeting with Russian government officials at the time.

Wigmore and Banks’ contact with the Russian ambassador in London while campaigning for Brexit, and later the Trump campaign, has been a source of intrigue in the United Kingdom.

The men appeared before a British parliamentary committee last month where they downplayed their connections to the Russian government.

In a radio interview last month, when it was suggested to Banks that people would ask if the men were “reporting back” to the Russians, he responded, “Well, not really.”

Wigmore said the only thing they provided the ambassador with was a phone number for the Trump transition team after the ambassador asked if they knew how to get in contact with Trump.

Wigmore claimed the ambassador said he didn’t know how to contact the incoming administration.

Kassam said that although he was unaware that Banks and Wigmore had connections with the Russian ambassador in London, it didn’t surprise him, as he described both men as socialites “running around Mayfair,” an affluent neighborhood in central London, who’d take a meeting with anyone.

[CNN]

Scott Pruitt Sought ‘Business Opportunity’ With Chick-fil-A While Leading E.P.A.

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, gave a political aide the task of helping him seek a “business opportunity” for his wife with the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A.

Emails released to the Sierra Club under the Freedom of Information Act show that Sydney Hupp, a former scheduler for Mr. Pruitt, contacted Chick-fil-A’s chief executive, Dan T. Cathy, in May 2017 at Mr. Pruitt’s behest to set up a meeting.

After a back-and-forth in which Ms. Hupp initially said the administrator “didn’t mention a specific topic” of discussion, she told the company’s director of regulatory affairs that Mr. Pruitt’s request was of a personal nature. “The Administrator would like to talk about a potential business opportunity with Mr. Cathy. Nothing very pressing, just hoping to connect sometime in the next month or so,” Ms. Hupp wrote.

Mr. Pruitt ultimately spoke by phone with Chick-fil-A representatives.

Mr. Cathy, reached by phone, referred questions to a company spokeswoman, Carrie Kurlander. Ms. Kurlander said she would not comment further. In an email to The Washington Post, which first reported Mr. Pruitt’s effort to seek a business deal with Chick-fil-A, Ms. Kurlander had said the call was about the possibility of Mr. Pruitt’s wife, Marlyn, opening a franchise of the fast food chain. Ms. Kurlander told the Post that Mrs. Pruitt never completed the franchisee application.

Jahan Wilcox, a spokesman for the E.P.A., did not respond to a request for comment.

Michael Brune, the Sierra Club’s executive director, said in a statement that Mr. Pruitt had been engaged in “unethically and illegally seeking personal benefits because of the job Donald Trump has entrusted him with.”

The revelation that Mr. Pruitt asked an E.P.A. employee to help coordinate efforts to seek a personal business opportunity comes amid a wave of investigations into the administrator’s spending and management decisions including his first-class travel and spending on security, as well as his decision last year to accept a $50-a-night lease on a condominium from the wife of a lobbyist with business before his agency. Currently Mr. Pruitt faces 12 federal investigations.

 

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/06/05/climate/pruitt-epa-chick-fil-a.html

Trump’s EPA chief Scott Pruitt caught living in prime DC condo owned by top energy lobbyist’s wife

President Donald Trump’s environmental chief has been living in a townhouse co-owned by the wife of a top energy lobbyist.

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt occupies the home a short distance from the U.S. Capitol, but neither the agency or lobbyist J. Steven Hart would say how much the Trump administration official has been paying to live in the prime location, reported ABC News.

The cost of the rental agreement will be a key question in determining whether the property is an improper gift, according to ethics experts.

Hart confirmed to ABC News that Pruitt lived in the condo, which is owned through a limited liability company that links to address owned by the lobbyist and his wife Vicki Hart — who is a lobbyist specializing in health care.

The Harts were described in 2010 by the newspaper Roll Call as a “lobbyist power couple.”

Steven Hart, chairman and CEO of Williams and Jensen, previously served in the Reagan Justice Department and is a top Republican fundraiser, and his firm reported more than $16 million in federal lobbying income last year.

“Among his many clients are the NRA and Cheniere Energy Inc., which reported paying Hart’s firm $80,000 a year,” ABC News reported.

[Raw Story]

Top Trump campaign officials urged Papadopoulos to communicate with Russians

Former Donald Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos was encouraged by campaign officials to communicate with foreign contacts, according to the Washington Post.

As the Post reports, Papadopoulos was urged by deputy communications director Bryan Lanza to participate in an interview with a Russian news agency.

“You should do it,” Lanza told Papadopoulos, adding the connection could benefit a “partnership with Russia.”

According to the Post, emails turned over to special counsel Robert Mueller show “more extensive contact” between Papadopoulos and top campaign and transition officials “than has been publicly acknowledged.”

Papadopoulos also communicated with former White House strategist Steve Bannon and onetime national security adviser Michael Flynn, “who corresponded with [Papadopoulos] about his efforts to broker ties between Trump and top foreign officials.”

Read the full report at the Washington Post.

[Raw Story]

Trump Promotes Upcoming Fox and Friends Show

Trump promised that the popular morning show would be “showing much of our successful trip to Asia, and the friendship & benefits that will endure for years to come.”

The tweets suggest that Trump had knowledge of the show’s programming schedule before airtime, a curiosity that MSNBC reporter Stephanie Ruhle pointed out.

The president is known to be especially tight with “Fox & Friends.” Long before he moved to the White House, Trump would regularly call into the show to float false claims that President Barack Obama had not been born in the United States.

Last month, the president even hosted a private White House dinner with former longtime show executive producer Jennifer Rauchet, current co-host Pete Hegseth and a few other guests.

[The Wrap]

Oil Lobby Met With Trump Interior Secretary at Trump Hotel

The oil industry’s most powerful lobbying group met on March 23 with President Trump’s interior secretary at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC. It also happened to be the same day the administration killed a rule that oil companies opposed.

The location of the meeting is raising eyebrows and ethical questions. The Trump International Hotel, situated just blocks from the White House, is ground zero for companies and foreign leaders who may be trying to cozy up to the president by using his properties, critics and ethics experts fear.

“It creates the appearance they are currying favor” by staying at a Trump hotel, said Lawrence Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog.

Noble, a CNN contributor, said while the meeting may not violate specific ethics rules, it shows that companies have discovered a “not-so-subtle way of showing support for the president.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke addressed the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) board of directors on that day at the Trump International Hotel, according to Zinke’s recently-released schedule.

Zinke, a strong advocate of the oil industry, spoke for 10 minutes, and then held a brief question-and-answer session, the Interior Department confirmed in a statement to CNNMoney.

That same day, the Interior Department announced plans to get rid of an Obama-era rule toughening standards on how much fossil fuel companies owe the government for drilling and mining on federal land. The energy industry had fought the rule. The oil industry group had even filed a lawsuit against it in December 2016.

The very next day, on March 24, the API put out a statement saying it was “pleased” by the Interior Department’s decision to get rid of the rule’s “substantial burdens.”

The Interior Department defended Zinke’s appearance at the API event.

“Like many secretaries before him, the Secretary was invited to speak at API’s meeting and he accepted the invitation. There is nothing unusual about a secretary speaking to stakeholders,” Heather Swift, a spokesperson for the department, said in a statement.

Swift said Zinke spoke about his “goals for the Department of the Interior and American energy.”

The Interior Department’s ethics office said it had “thoroughly vetted” Zinke’s API meeting. “We found that it presented no ethics violation or conflict of interest,” the ethics office said.

Noble, the ethics expert, agrees that meeting with an industry group “in and of itself is not unusual” as long as Zinke didn’t insist the gathering take place at a Trump hotel. There’s no evidence that Zinke picked the location of the API meeting.

It’s not clear how much the API spent on holding the meeting at the Trump International Hotel. Events at the hotel likely cost at least $100,000, The Washington Post has previously reported.

Neither the API nor the Trump Organization responded to requests for comment.

Zinke’s schedule doesn’t indicate who attended the meeting with API, which is chaired by ConocoPhillips (COP) CEO Ryan Lance.

The Trump International Hotel, which opened last September on the grounds of a renovated post office, has been a lightning rod for controversy. The Trump Organization rents space for the hotel from the General Services Administration, an agency of the Untied States government.

As president, Trump oversees the GSA, which makes him effectively both landlord and tenant.

Critics have argued the hotel violates the lease terms because there is a clause saying no government official can be a party to the 60-year lease that was signed in 2013.

In March, the federal government ruled that the hotel is not in violation of its lease. The GSA cited Trump’s decision to transfer control of his vast business empire to his sons and a Trump Organization executive.

However, Trump is still the ultimate beneficiary of the success of the company and the hotel.

Noble said there’s an easy way to resolve concerns about such conflicts involving Trump’s hotel.

“Just decide you won’t do any government business at the president’s hotel. Set a rule,” he said.

[CNN]

Leaked Tape Reveals Trump Invited Club Guests To Witness Cabinet Interviews

Newly leaked audio from a November party at President Trump’s Bedminster, N.J., golf club reveals then president-elect Trump touting to guests his scheduled interviews on premises with potential cabinet members and White House staff.

“We’re doing a lot of interviews tomorrow — generals, dictators, we have everything,” Trump says in the tape, obtained by Politico and published Saturday. “You may wanna come around. It’ll be fun. We’re really working tomorrow. We have meetings every 15, 20 minutes with different people that will form our government.”

We’re going to be interviewing everybody — Treasury, we’re going to be interviewing Secretary of State,” he continued. “We have everybody coming in — if you want to come around, it’s going to be unbelievable … so you might want to come along.”

The tape was recorded at the same New Jersey golf club where Trump interviewed several potential cabinet picks, including former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who was under consideration to be secretary of State.

The tape sheds some light on how Trump conducts himself at his clubs, just as he returns this weekend to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., for his third straight weekend.

Last weekend, Trump was criticized for handling a North Korea missile crisis in public at his Mar-a-Lago dining room. Guests at the club took photos of the meeting, and one person even shared a Facebook post of the person responsible for carrying “nuclear football“—  the black bag that contains the nuclear launch codes.

(h/t The Hill)

Media

Trump Blasts Nordstrom for Dropping Ivanka’s Clothing Line

President Donald Trump on Wednesday blasted luxury department store Nordstrom for dropping his daughter Ivanka Trump’s label, a move that drew immediate criticism for further blurring the line between Trump’s administration and his family’s businesses.

“My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

Nordstrom had announced on Feb. 3 that it would stop carrying Ivanka Trump’s label due to its performance.

“We’ve said all along we make buying decisions based on performance,” Nordstrom said in a statement to The Associated Press. “We’ve got thousands of brands— more than 2,000 offered on the site alone. Reviewing their merit and making edits is part of the regular rhythm of our business.”

While Nordstrom contends the decision was solely a business one, the publicly traded company has delved into the Trump administration’s controversial moves.

Nordstrom had issued an internal statement in support of immigrants following Trump’s executive order temporarily barring immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries just three days before dropping Ivanka Trump’s line.

The move also comes amid a broader #GrabYourWallet hashtag calling for a boycott of all Trump products.

Some Trump critics immediately pounced on Trump’s tweet, holding it up as further evidence that Trump is not respecting what should be a firewall between the White House and his sprawling business empire.

Norm Eisen, a former Obama administration ethics czar, called the move “outrageous” on Twitter and said Nordstrom should consider suing under the California Unfair Competition Law, which forbids “any unfair” business act.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) also replied to Trump’s tweet, by “CC”ing the Office of Government Ethics.

Casey’s press secretary Jacklin Rhoads said in an emailed statement that the senator “feels it is unethical and inappropriate for the President to lash out at a private company for refusing to enrich his family.”

The Office of Government Ethics and Nordstrom did not immediately return calls for comment.

Executive branch employees are forbidden from using their positions to promote any corporation, although the president is technically exempt. There does not appear to be an applicable rule that addresses the president impugning a company.

Trump also retweeted his tweet on his official @POTUS account, which reaches 15.1 million followers. By comparison, Trump’s @realDonaldTrump account reaches 24.2 million followers.

The president had pledged to fully step away from his private businesses, but he has also said he will not sell the companies nor will he place his assets in a blind trust while serving as president.

Instead, Trump has said his company will not enter into new foreign deals and will appoint an ethics adviser who must approve any new domestic deals in writing.

The president has also proven his desire and ability to influence companies through Twitter. He has regularly blasted corporations including Carrier, General Motors and Toyota, accusing them of moving jobs and production overseas. Lockheed and Boeing have also drawn his ire over the price tag associated with their defense contracts.

On Wednesday, Nordstrom’s stock took a brief fall following Trump’s tweet, from $42.69 per share at 10:50 a.m. to $42.50 at 10:55 a.m. However, it has since risen to $43.14 as of 12:30 p.m.

(h/t Politico)

WSJ Reports National Enquirer Purposefully Withheld Story About Trump Affair

Tabloid newspaper the National Enquirer withheld a story about Donald Trump’s past affair with a former Playboy model, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

According to the Journal, the Enquirer, which endorsed Trump for president, paid model Karen McDougal $150,000 for her story about having an affair with Trump in 2006.But the paper never published the story.

Trump was married to his wife Melania when he had the affair with the 1998 Playboy Playmate of the Year, according to documents reviewed by the Journal and sources familiar with the matter.

Trump is friendly with the Enquirer’s owner, David Pecker.

In a statement, Enquirer ownership company American Media Inc. said that it paid McDougal for fitness columns and magazine covers, as well as rights to any relationship with a married man.

“AMI has not paid people to kill damaging stories about Mr. Trump,” the company said in a statement to the WSJ.

And Pecker pointed to the Enquirer’s coverage of Trump’s affair with Marla Maples while he was married to his first wife Ivana as evidence of the company’s “commitment to investigative reporting.”

Hope Hicks, Trump campaign spokesman, told the Journal the story was “totally untrue.”

The Journal reported that a contract with McDougal barred her from telling the Trump story elsewhere, in addition to giving her columns and covers.

People familiar with McDougal’s account told the WSJ that she and Trump had a relationship for about 10 months between 2006 and 2007. A friend of the former model’s told the Journal the affair lasted about a year.

Additionally, people familiar with the matter told the Journal that adult film actress Stephanie Clifford was recently in talks with ABC’s “Good Morning America” to reveal a past relationship with Trump, but ultimately cut off contact with the network.

Hicks, Trump’s spokeswoman, said the claim was “absolutely, unequivocally” untrue.

(h/t The Hill)

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