Secret Service paid Mar-a-Lago at least $63,000, documents show

The U.S. Secret Service paid tens of thousands of dollars to President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in the span of a few months, according to documents obtained by CNN.

The expense forms show that taxpayer dollars have flowed into Trump’s private club as a result of his repeated visits to the so-called Winter White House, which pulls in millions a year from members who pay a premium for its oceanside amenities and bedroom suites.

Most of the $63,700 in payments from the Secret Service to Mar-a-Lago were made between February and April, and were categorized as hotel costs on government expense forms. The payments are detailed in forms and more than a dozen invoices on Mar-a-Lago letterhead ranging from $1,300 to $11,050.

The purposes of the expenses were not spelled out in the documents, which were redacted before CNN reviewed them. The redactions make it unclear whether there were additional payments to Mar-a-Lago.

Experts said the bills could be for rooms rented to agents, space leased for communications equipment or other purposes.

The payments to Mar-a-Lago are just a fraction of the total Secret Service costs detailed in the records CNN reviewed, which include bills from other hotels, car rental companies and event services in South Florida.

Although the Secret Service routinely pays private businesses for costs that arise while protecting the president, government ethics hawks argue Trump may personally profit from his visits. Or worse, they allege, he’s violated the Constitution.

The payments appear to overlap with some of Trump’s weekend visits to the club in Palm Beach, Florida. After his inauguration, Trump spent a total of 25 full or partial days at the Mar-a-Lago between February 3 and April 16.

Trump transferred Mar-a-Lago and his other business holdings into a trust while he serves as president. But he refused to follow precedent by divesting his holdings, and he stands to accrue any business profits when he leaves office.

His financial disclosure forms for this year show that Mar-a-Lago made $37 million in revenue between January 2016 and April 2017. The club raised its membership initiation fee in January to $200,000, double what it was a year earlier.

While the Secret Service payments are a small share of the revenue, critics of the administration, along with prominent experts in government ethics, say Secret Service payments to Mar-A-Lago could violate a constitutional provision meant to prevent self-dealing and corruption.

The domestic emoluments clause bars the president from accepting gifts, or emoluments, other than his compensation from the federal, state, or local governments.

Whether the Mar-A-Lago charges amount to “gifts” is up for debate. It may rest on how much Secret Service paid for services or rooms at the resort. That information is redacted on the documents reviewed by CNN.

“The president risks violating the domestic emoluments clause if his company is making money off of the Secret Service,” said Richard Painter, the former White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush. “To avoid that, Mar-a-Lago should either charge Secret Service a rate federal employees are authorized to pay for a hotel room under ordinary circumstances or not charge at all.”

But waiving all charges could create additional legal issues under rules that prohibit gifts to government agencies.

Earlier this year, a government transparency group called Property of the People obtained a receipt from the Coast Guard for a stay at Mar-a-Lago. That document revealed the government was billed the so-called rack rate — an industry term that usually suggests the non-discounted price for a hotel room. That charge amounted to $1,092 for a two-night stay.

Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent who served in the Presidential Protection Division, pointed out that, putting ethics arguments aside, the president always requires some level of Secret Service protection.

Although some agents could stay at nearby hotels, he said at least some members of the detail must stay with the president day and night in the event of an emergency.

“The Secret Service will make every attempt to be financially cautious, but there is an operational necessity for particular people to stay in close proximately to the president 24 hours a day,” said Wackrow, a CNN law enforcement analyst. “And they can’t sleep in the hallway.”

He said additional charges to the Secret Service could arise from the need for storage space for communications equipment, or for additional workspace.

The Mar-a-Lago expenses, detailed in records released by the Secret Service after CNN submitted a Freedom of Information Act request, are not the first payments made by the Secret Service for the use of a property owned by a White House official.

Federal contracting data show the Secret Service has paid about $170,000 to rent former Vice President Joe Biden’s property in Wilmington, Delaware since 2011.

Democrats have seized on other examples of government money flowing into Trump’s businesses to support criticism that the president may be profiting personally from his office.

In August, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee requested documents from federal agencies that detail taxpayer money going to products or services “provided by businesses owned by or affiliated with the Trump Organization.”

A spokesperson said the committee is in the process of collecting responses.

The Trump Organization and the White House did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

[CNN]

Trump: I Pardoned Arpaio During Hurricane Because I Thought TV Ratings Would Be Higher

President Trump on Monday said he announced his pardon of former Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio as Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas because he “assumed the ratings would be far higher.”

“In the middle of a hurricane, even though it was a Friday evening, I assumed the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally,” Trump said during a press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. “You know, the hurricane was just starting.”

“He’s done a great job for the people of Arizona, he’s very strong on borders, very strong on illegal immigration,” Trump said about Arpaio. “I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly when they came down with their big decision to go get him right before the election voting started.”

Democrats blasted Trump on Friday for announcing his pardon of Arpaio as Harvey made landfall, with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) accusing Trump of “using the cover of the storm” to issue the pardon.

The White House announced Trump’s decision to pardon Arpaio on Friday night in a statement.

“Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the White House said.

“Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is a worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”

Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt after he disobeyed a federal judge’s order to stop racially profiling individuals suspected of illegally entering the U.S.

[The Hill]

Media

Trump’s Huge Saudi Arms Deal is a Big Lie

Among the purported accomplishments of Donald Trump’s first presidential trip abroad—the one in which he insulted NATO allies, lost a handshake battle with French president Emmanuel Macron, and labeled Germans “bad, very bad”—the White House was eager to publicize the “tremendous” $110 billion arms and investments deal he struck with Saudi Arabia. According to The New York Times, the agreement was spearheaded by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who personally intervened to close the deal. “Let’s get this done today,” he reportedly told a delegation of Saudis in Washington ahead of the president’s high-profile flight to Riyadh.

“The deal was finalized in part thanks to the direct involvement of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser,” CNN reported at the time. “He shocked a high-level Saudi delegation earlier this month when he personally called Lockheed Martin C.E.O. Marillyn Hewson and asked if she would cut the price of a sophisticated missile detection system, according to a source with knowledge of the call.” Soon after, the president signed the deal in a ceremony with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

There’s just one small problem: according to Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow and director at the Brookings Intelligence Project, the so-called deal is more of a wish list than a matter of fact. Or, to use Trump’s favorite phrase, it’s “fake news.”

Riedel, who worked for the C.I.A. for 30 years, writes that all of his sources in the defense business and on Capitol Hill say “there is no $110 billion deal” but rather “a bunch of letters of interest or intent but not contracts. Many are offers that the defense industry thinks the Saudis will be interested in someday,” but “so far, nothing has been notified to the Senate for review.” The arms sales division of the Pentagon, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Riedel writes, has labeled them “intended sales.” And here’s the kicker: “none of the deals identified so far are new; all began in the Obama administration.” (The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Riedel’s claims.)

Some of Reidel’s reporting isn’t new—as the Times noted in its story at the time (“$110 Billion Weapons Sale to Saudis Has Jared Kushner’s Personal Touch”), several of the weapons in the proposed package had already been approved under Obama. But leave it to Donald Trump, a brand licensing tycoon who has always been more style than substance, to play up a rough draft of a potential agreement as a groundbreaking diplomatic success. His son-in-law, it seems, has a flair for selling a good story, too.

[Vanity Fair]

Trump Wrongly Takes Credit for Planned $1.33 Billion Toyota Spending

President Donald Trump took credit for Toyota Motor Corp. investing $1.33 billion in an existing U.S. factory, championing spending by a Japanese automaker he’s blasted for building a plant in Mexico.

The outlays in Georgetown, Kentucky, aren’t new — they’ve been in the works for years. But the way they’re being marketed is. Instead of emphasizing cost efficiency, Toyota is highlighting ample spending and the previously announced addition of 700 jobs. The president has taken notice.

Toyota’s announcement “is further evidence that manufacturers are now confident that the economic climate has greatly improved under my administration,” Trump said in the automaker’s statement Monday.

The bigger the U.S. investment the better right now for Toyota. Trump singled out the company in January for its plan to build a Corolla small-car factory in Mexico. As Toyota’s North American Chief Executive Officer Jim Lentz discussed setting up autonomous- and connected-car business units in the U.S. with Trump last month, the president cut him off and said the company needed to “build those new plants here.”

While Toyota is pleased Trump recognized the significance of its investment, according to Wil James, the Kentucky factory’s president, the company started preparing for the redesigned Camry that will be built at the plant during Barack Obama’s administration.

“We’ve been working on this Camry now for over three years, so this is not something that’s just brand new and picked up most recently,” James said in an interview Monday on Bloomberg Television.

As part of the $10 billion that Toyota plans to invest in the U.S. over the next five years, the company’s spending in Kentucky paves the way for output of the redesigned Camry sedan later this year. The car will be the first in North America to adopt the Toyota New Global Architecture system for designing, engineering and manufacturing vehicles.

In describing the system referred to as TNGA in March 2015, Toyota said it was aiming to reduce the amount of spending required to prepare the production line for a new model by about half. The Toyota City, Japan-based company is avoiding any emphasis of the frugal benefits of TNGA with regards to its plans in Georgetown.

“This is the largest investment in our plant’s history,” James said in the statement. “This major overhaul will enable the plant to stay flexible and competitive, further cementing our presence in Kentucky.”

Toyota will spend the $1.33 billion over the next two or three years, James said in a press conference at the Georgetown plant. It’s only after the money is spent — including on more flexible equipment in the welding shop and elsewhere — that TNGA’s expected cost savings will kick in, he said.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin predicted the state’s best year ever for capital investments by big companies during the event at the plant.

(h/t Bloomberg)

Reality

Toyota made the announcement in May 2014.

White House Caught Copying From ExxonMobil Press Release

Rex Tillerson, the new Secretary of State, was the former head of fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil and close friend to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both of these factors were enough to cause massive concern amongst both Democrats and Republicans alike, but Tillerson squeezed through the vetting process and is now the top American diplomat in the land.

People worrying about conflicts of interest still have good reasons to be concerned. The Trump administration’s push for more coal and oil in America’s energy mix is made all the easier with the former Exxon CEO in the Cabinet, and it appears that the President himself has recently taken to openly praising the company on Twitter.

Rex Tillerson, the new Secretary of State, was the former head of fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil and close friend to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both of these factors were enough to cause massive concern amongst both Democrats and Republicans alike, but Tillerson squeezed through the vetting process and is now the top American diplomat in the land.

People worrying about conflicts of interest still have good reasons to be concerned. The Trump administration’s push for more coal and oil in America’s energy mix is made all the easier with the former Exxon CEO in the Cabinet, and it appears that the President himself has recently taken to openly praising the company on Twitter.

In a statement dated March 6, the White House noted that “President Donald J. Trump today congratulated Exxon Mobil Corporation on its ambitious $20 billion investment program that is creating more than 45,000 construction and manufacturing jobs in the United States Gulf Coast region.”

“This is a true American success story,” Trump said. Indeed, this was the initiative that he recently spoke about on Twitter.

However, there’s a problem with this – a good chunk of this press release was lifted ad verbatim from an official ExxonMobil press release. For some reason, the White House and ExxonMobil decided to release statements, focusing on precisely the same topic of discourse, at exactly the same time.

It is extremely likely, of course, that this is not a coincidence. The White House could have at least tried to rewrite the paragraph to make it their own a little, but they were too lazy even to do that. Or does ExxonMobil now tell the White House what to say?

We shouldn’t even be too happy with the investment either. There are plenty more jobs waiting to be taken in the booming renewable energy sector than there is in the fossil fuel industry, but instead, the focus is on occupations that will help change the climate for the worse.

And yes, new jobs are a good thing, but this ExxonMobil program has been running since 2013, so it’s got nothing to do with Trump at all.

Some might say that he’s highlighting it now to make it look like jobs are on the up under his watch – when in fact, the record streak of job creation America is currently experiencing is down to the hard work of his predecessor.

(h/t IFL Science)

 

Trump Praises Exxon Announcement on Old Investments

President Donald Trump heralded ExxonMobil’s announcement Monday that it’s investing in manufacturing jobs in the U.S. — even though at least some of the investment started years ago.

Exxon CEO Darren Woods said the company would invest $20 billion in manufacturing projects along the Gulf Coast. But at some of the spending started in 2013 and is expected to continue through at least 2022, Exxon said in a statement. Exxon said at least one of the projects — an aviation lubricants plant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana — had already been completed.

Those facts didn’t deter Trump, who used the occasion to shower praise on the giant oil and gas company that until recently was led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“45,000 construction & manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Gulf Coast region,” Trump tweeted Monday afternoon. “$20 billion investment. We are already winning again, America!”

In a statement from the White House, Trump said: “This is exactly the kind of investment, economic development and job creation that will help put Americans back to work.”

The White House statement quoted Woods praising Trump. “Private sector investment is enhanced by this Administration’s support for smart regulations that support growth while protecting the environment,” the CEO said.

Woods took over as Exxon’s CEO in January, following Tillerson’s departure. Tillerson, who had lunch with Trump on Monday, has appeared to be out of the loop on a number of key issues and has kept a low profile within the administration.

Under his agreement with the Office of Government Ethics, Tillerson is barred from any matter involving Exxon through the end of the year. And he has until May 2 to finish divesting his stock holdings in the company, which are estimated at about $55 million. That raises the possibility Tillerson still holds a stake in the company for now. The federal law against conflicts of interest exempts the president but does apply to the secretary of state.

Spokesmen for the White House and the State Department did not immediately answer questions about whether Trump and Tillerson discussed the investment at their lunch Monday and whether Tillerson has already liquidated his holdings in Exxon.

In his announcement, Woods said that Exxon’s goal is to create 35,000 construction jobs and 12,000 full-time jobs, Woods said. The company has not said how many of the 11 projects announced Monday were planned under Tillerson.

The strategy of CEOs re-announcing old investments in the Trump era is not new. Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son announced after a December meeting with Trump a tech fund that would invest $50 billion in the U.S. Trump publicized Son’s plan despite the fact that the investment had been part of a previously announced plan.

(h/t Politico)

 

Trump Flips, Now Opposes Prosecution for Clinton

During the presidential campaign, President-elect Donald Trump pledged to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton, would join crowds of his supporters in chants of “lock her up!” and said to her face during a debate that if he were president, “you’d be in jail.”

But now that he actually will be president, Trump says he won’t recommend prosecution of Clinton, who he told New York Times reporters has “suffered greatly.”
What’s more, he said the idea of prosecuting Clinton is “just not something I feel very strongly about.”

The quotes come from the tweets of New York Times reporters Mike Grynbaum and Maggie Haberman, who attended a meeting between the President-elect and reporters and editors at the paper.

“I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t,” Trump said, according to the tweets. “She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways.”
It’s a stunning departure from the campaign rhetoric, which could come as a shock to some of the President-elect’s most ardent supporters. The Times characterized one exchange as extending an olive branch to Clinton supporters.

“I think I will explain it that we, in many ways, will save our country,” he said.

He said the issues have been investigated “ad nauseum” and he added, according to Haberman, that people could argue the Clinton Foundation has done “good work.”

The about-face on his formal rival and suggestion that the Trump administration will not pursue further investigations of Clinton related to her private email server or the Clinton Foundation first came Tuesday morning from Trump’s former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who said it would send a message to other Republicans.

“I think when the President-elect, who’s also the head of your party, tells you before he’s even inaugurated that he doesn’t wish to pursue these charges, it sends a very strong message, tone and content” to fellow Republicans, Conway said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

At the second presidential debate in early October, Trump threatened Clinton, saying that “if I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation.”

Conway said Clinton “still has to face the fact that a majority of Americans don’t find her to be honest or trustworthy,” but added that “if Donald Trump can help her heal, then perhaps that’s a good thing to do.”

“Look, I think he’s thinking of many different things as he prepares to become the president of the United States, and things that sound like the campaign are not among them,” she added.

Steve Vladeck, CNN legal contributor and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said it was unusual for a President-elect to take such a public position on whether to pursue an investigation.

“Even though the attorney general reports to the president, the Department of Justice is meant to exercise a degree of independence from the White House entirely to avoid the perception that political considerations, rather than legal ones, are behind decisions to (or to not) prosecute,” Vladeck said in an email. “Indeed, we’ve seen plenty of scandals throughout American history in which presidents have wrongly politicized the Justice Department’s role, and President-Elect Trump’s comments don’t exactly augur well for preservation of the line between law and politics over the next four years.”

Despite Trump breaking a campaign promise to some of the most fervent anti-Clinton supporters, Democrats also took issue with the decision as a sign of the President-elect’s executive overreach.

“That’s not how this works. In our democracy, the President doesn’t decide who gets prosecuted and who doesn’t,” Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut wrote on Twitter.

During Trump’s ferocious election fight with Clinton, chants of “lock her up” — referring to Clinton — became a refrain of the Republican’s campaign, as he hammered the Democratic presidential nominee over her decision to use a private email server as secretary of state, and lobbed accusations of corruption and “pay to play” politics at the Clinton Foundation. Trump’s choice for national security advisor, Michael Flynn, also led a high-profile chant at the Republican National Convention of “lock her up.”

Trump repeatedly brought up jailing Clinton on his own, often at raucous campaign rallies over the summer and into the fall.

“Remember I said I was a counter-puncher? I am,” Trump said at a San Jose, California, rally in June, referencing an anti-Trump speech Clinton gave. “After what she said about me today, her phony speech, that was a phony speech. It was a Donald trump hit job. I will say this: Hillary Clinton has to go to jail, OK? (Cheers) She has to go to jail, phony hit job. She’s guilty as hell.”

“She gets a subpoena, she deleted the emails, she has to go to jail,” Trump said at a Lakeland, Florida, rally in October.

But in interviews with the Wall Street Journal and CBS’ “60 Minutes” after the election, Trump refused to say if he would fulfill that commitment to appoint a special prosecutor.

“I’m going to think about it,” he told “60 Minutes.” “I feel I want to focus on jobs. I want to focus on health care, I want to focus on the border and immigration and doing a really great immigration bill. And I want to focus on — all of these other things that we’ve been talking about.” He told the program she “did some bad things” but added the Clintons are “good people.”

And Trump told the Wall Street Journal that “it’s not something I’ve given a lot of thought, because I want to solve health care, jobs, border control, tax reform.”

(h/t CNN)

Trump Almost Turned Second Debate Into an Episode on a Bad Reality Show

Donald Trump’s campaign sought to intimidate Hillary Clinton by inviting women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual abuse to sit in the family area close to the center of Sunday night’s presidential debate.

The four women planned to walk in the debate hall at the same time as the former president and confront him in front of a live television audience, according to sources close to the situation.

The plan was first reported by the Washington Post but was later confirmed by NBC News. It was thwarted moments before the event went on-air when the Commission on Presidential Debates intervened to prevent it, even threatening to get security to block the women.

The four — Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Kathy Shelton — eventually sat in the audience alongside other ticketed members.

If the plan had gone ahead, the women would have sat in the Trump family box which was in an elevated area close to the stage and in front of the cameras.

“We were going to put the four women in the VIP box,” Trump supporter and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani was quoted as saying by the Washington Post. “We had it all set. We wanted to have them shake hands with Bill, to see if Bill would shake hands with them.”

The newspaper said the plot was nixed by Frank J. Fahrenkopf, the debate commission’s co-chairman and a former Republican National Committee chairman, who warned that security personnel would remove the women.

Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook said Hillary knew about what he called an “awkward stunt at the beginning of the debate.”

“He wanted to throw Hillary Clinton off her game. And he need to rehabilitate what has been a failing campaign,” Mook told reporters.”The stunt didn’t work and frankly the debate didn’t work for Trump because this race fundamentally hasn’t changed.”

He added: “This was a painful moment in her marriage and it was litigated very heavily 20 years ago … this was an attempt by Donald Trump to throw her off, try to distract. The problem that he has, and the reason he lost this debate, is he has no command of the issues.”

Bill Clinton has denied all the allegations lobbed by his accusers and was never charged with any crimes, but was impeached by the Republican House in 1998 for lying about an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Broaddrick, who has accused the former president of rape, submitted an affidavit in 1998 denying that Bill Clinton had made nonconsensual sexual advances, which she later recanted.

(h/t NBC News)

Trump Attempts To Use Police Tragedy As a Photo Op

Bill Bratton. | AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

After calling off campaign events in the wake of the ambush killings of five Dallas police officers, Donald Trump reached out to NYPD officials, NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton said Friday.

A rep from Donald Trump’s Manhattan organization asked the city’s top cop to let the candidate speak to a 3 p.m. roll call at the NYPD Midtown North Precinct. But Commissioner Bratton strongly rejected the idea, which a police source said came from Trump’s head of security Keith Schiller.

During a press conference at police headquarters, Bratton told reporters “there may have been a request made to attend a roll call” by Trump and that there was “an inquiry from Senator Clinton about setting up a call to be briefed on what’s going on here in New York.”

The commissioner said he would be “more than happy” to speak with either presumptive presidential nominee but stressed his interest is in “staying out of the politics of the moment.”

“If Mr. Trump wants to speak to me, I’d be happy to brief him on what we’re doing. [If] Senator Clinton wants to speak to me, I’d be very happy to brief her on what we’re doing,” Bratton said. “But we’re not in the business of providing photo-ops for candidates.”

Donald Trump’s campaign disputed Bratton’s assertion.

“Mr. Trump and the campaign did not reach out with a request to address a roll call,” Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in an email to POLITICO.

Asked whether Trump reached out to address the officers in any capacity, Hicks responded, “No.”

(h/t Politico, NY Daily News)

Reality

This incident devolved into he-said-she-said hearsay. You will have to consider each source. The commissioner will address the press again this afternoon, along with the mayor and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. So stay tuned for updates.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton previously questioned Donald Trump ability to match President Obama’s record of killing terrorists and was critical of Trump’s response to the Orlando shootings.

While Trump has a long record of not making truthful or accurate statements. Trump’s head of security Keith Schiller was involved in smacking a protester at the start of Trump’s campaign.

Trump Acknowledges Climate Change — At His Golf Course

Donald Trump says he is “not a big believer in global warming.” He has called it “a total hoax,” “bullshit” and “pseudoscience.”

But he is also trying to build a sea wall designed to protect one of his golf courses from “global warming and its effects.”

The New York billionaire is applying for permission to erect a coastal protection works to prevent erosion at his seaside golf resort, Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland, in County Clare.

A permit application for the wall, filed by Trump International Golf Links Ireland and reviewed by POLITICO, explicitly cites global warming and its consequences — increased erosion due to rising sea levels and extreme weather this century — as a chief justification for building the structure.

The zoning application raises further questions about how the billionaire developer would confront a risk he has publicly minimized but that has been identified as a defining challenge of this era by world leaders, global industry and the American military. His public disavowal of climate science at the same time he moves to secure his own holdings against the effects of climate change also illustrates the conflict between his political rhetoric and the realities of running a business with seaside assets in the 21st century.

“It’s diabolical,” said former South Carolina Republican Rep. Bob Inglis, an advocate of conservative solutions to climate change. “Donald Trump is working to ensure his at-risk properties and his company is trying to figure out how to deal with sea level rise. Meanwhile, he’s saying things to audiences that he must know are not true. … You have a soft place in your heart for people who are honestly ignorant, but people who are deceitful, that’s a different thing.”

Neither Trump’s spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, nor Alan Garten, the general counsel of the Trump Organization, the umbrella company for Trump’s business ventures, responded to requests for comment.

For years, owners of seaside assets, investors, and industries like reinsurance have been busily adapting to and hedging against climate change – a reality widely acknowledged by the world’s top business leaders.

“If you’re being responsible you are protecting your property and investing in these things,” said Cynthia McHale, director of the insurance program at Ceres, a nonprofit that works with businesses and institutional investors to promote sustainability. “It’s certainly best practice.” But McHale added that many commercial developers of seaside properties fail to account for climate change in their decisions because they are focused on short time horizons.

Trump snatched up the golf resort from a distressed buyer in February 2014, after a winter in which an unusual number of severe storms hit the west coast of Ireland. The businessman immediately took an active hand in advancing and promoting his Irish investment.

In April of 2014, Tony Lowes, director of Friends of the Irish Environment, said Trump called him to offer the group help in opposing a proposed offshore wind project in a nearby, environmentally sensitive area. The group, which has since come out against Trump’s proposed wall, declined the businessman’s offer.

The next month, Trump gave an interview about the golf resort, also known as Trump Doonbeg, on Irish radio, vowing to invest up to €45m in the property. “If I didn’t have confidence in Ireland I would never have made this big investment,” he said. He also promised to “reshape it and make it one of the greatest golf courses in the world.”

But Trump has encountered obstacles to that vision. Days before he concluded his purchase, a single storm eroded as much as eight meters of frontage in some parts of the golf course. Since acquiring the property, Trump has been trying to build coastal protection works to prevent further erosion.

Earlier this month, after failing to win special approval from the national government for the structure, Trump re-submitted a planning application with the Clare County Council seeking permission to build the wall, which would consist of 200,000 tons of rock distributed along two miles of beach. As part of the application, Trump International Golf Links submitted an environmental impact statement — prepared by an Irish environmental consultancy — which argues that erosion is likely to accelerate as sea levels rise more quickly.

The statement acknowledges one Irish government study that assumes a steady rate of erosion through 2050, but argues that the study fails to account for the effects of climate change: “If the predictions of an increase in sea level rise as a result of global warming prove correct, however, it is likely that there will be a corresponding increase in coastal erosion rates not just in Doughmore Bay but around much of the coastline of Ireland. In our view, it could reasonably be expected that the rate of sea level rise might become twice of that presently occurring. … As a result, we would expect the rate of dune recession to increase.”

The bigger problem, though, according to the impact statement, will be the erosion caused by larger, more frequent storms. “As with other predictions of global warming and its effects, there is no universal consensus regarding changes in these events,” it states. “Our advice is to assume that the recent average rate of dune recession will not alter greatly in the next few decades, perhaps as far into the future as 2050 as assumed in the [government study] but that subsequently an increase in this rate is more likely than not.”

Later, the statement argues that rising sea levels make taking action unavoidable. “A Do nothing/Do minimum option will have the least impact on [natural] processes but the existing erosion rate will continue and worsen, due to sea level rise, in the next coming years, posing a real and immediate risk to most of the golf course frontage and assets,” states the conclusion of an analysis of various options for responding to the erosion.

Trump’s company has warned not only the county council of the perils of climate change, but also local residents. An appendix to TIGL’s planning application includes a scan of a brochure that the company has distributed to residents to make the case for building the proposed coastal protection works. The heading of one page — emblazoned with a “Trump Doonbeg” logo — is “Need for Coastal Protection.” The page lists four bullet points, the last of which is, “Predicted sea level rise and more frequent storm events will increase the rate of erosion throughout the 21st century.”

The statements in the filings contradict positions publicly held by Trump, who has weighed in repeatedly on climate change in recent years – mostly to dismiss it outright. In 2012, he tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” though he has since insisted the tweet was a joke. In 2013, he tweeted, “We should be focused on clean and beautiful air-not expensive and business closing GLOBAL WARMING-a total hoax!” In January 2014, he tweeted, “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.”

In some recent comments, Trump has continued to defy the widely held scientific consensus about man-made climate change, but his statements have become more complicated, if not entirely clear.

“I’m not a believer in global warming. And I’m not a believer in man-made global warming,” Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in September. “It could be warming, and it’s going to start to cool at some point. And you know, in the early, in the 1920s, people talked about global cooling.”

That same month, Trump appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and said, “I consider climate change to be not one of our big problems. I consider it to be not a big problem at all. I think it’s weather. I think it’s weather changes. It could be some man-made something, but you know, if you look at China, they’re doing nothing about it. Other countries, they’re doing nothing about it. It’s a big planet.”

Asked by a Washington Post editorial writer in March, “Don’t good businessmen hedge against risks, not ignore them?” Trump responded, “I just think we have much bigger risks. I mean I think we have militarily tremendous risks. I think we’re in tremendous peril. I think our biggest form of climate change we should worry about is nuclear weapons.”

The Pentagon, however, describes climate change as “an urgent and growing threat to our national security.”.

Earlier this year, Trump tapped North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, who also does not accept the scientific consensus on climate change but has expressed support for a modest carbon tax, as an energy adviser. Next Thursday, Trump is scheduled to travel to North Dakota to address a gathering sponsored by an oil industry group, an audience that will likely be receptive to climate skepticism.

But Trump — who recently vowed to “at a minimum” renegotiate December’s Paris climate deal — finds his position at odds with the two-thirds of the American public who described themselves as a “great deal” or “fair amount” worried about global warming in a March Gallup poll.

The New York billionaire has not been shy about abandoning past positions on issues like gun control and abortion as his views and his political considerations have evolved. And as he pivots to the general election, his stated position could come into line with the position taken by his business.

“It’s conceivable that he might swing around on this,” Inglis said. “Of course it would be a smart political move for him or for anyone because that’s where the public’s already going. That’s where millennials are going. That’s where the future is.”

[Politico]

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