Trump administration owes the United Nations $1 billion

President Donald Trump brushed aside warnings from the United Nations on Wednesday that the 74-year-old organization risks being unable to pay its staff and bills if member nations don’t cough up their annual dues soon

The biggest delinquent payer in the world? The United States. 

Washington owes the U.N. $381 million in back payments and $674 million this year, according to the U.S. mission to the U.N. As the largest contributor to the 193-member organization, the U.S. has long sought to pressure the U.N. to rein in spending. 

Trump, who has openly questioned the value of the U.N., has made skepticism of multinational organizations a central component of his foreign policy. Trump has demanded European countries contribute more to NATO and has pressed allies in Asia and the Middle East to rely less on U.S. military might and spend more on their own security. 

Responding to reports of deep U.N. budget deficits, Trump returned to the theme. 

“So make all Member Countries pay, not just the United States!” he wrote Wednesday

U.N. officials say 129 countries have paid their 2019 dues, two-thirds of all members. Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said that nearly $2 billion has been paid to the organization this year and that the outstanding balance for other countries amounts to another $1.3 billion. 

Dujarric described the financial situation as “the worst cash crisis facing the United Nations in nearly a decade” and said it “runs the risk of depleting its liquidity reserves by the end of the month and defaulting on payments to staff and vendors.”  

Created in 1945 on the heels of World War II, the United Nations charter tasked the organization with ending conflict and human rights abuses. Its real power lies in the 15-member Security Council, which can authorize sanctions and military action.

The U.S. has quarreled with the U.N. for decades over funding. A U.S. mission official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal decisions, said the U.S. paid $600 million to peacekeeping efforts this year and will pay “the vast majority of what we owe to the regular budget this fall, as we have in past years.”

But the longstanding tension has received renewed attention because of Trump, who once described the U.N. as “not a friend of democracy” and has consistently questioned multinational efforts such as NATO and the annual G-7 and G-20 summits.   

Trump spent three days in New York last month for the annual U.N. General Assembly, pressing his case for sovereignty while also seeking support from allies to address a suspected Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia. Despite the international audience, Trump has used his U.N. addresses to speak more to domestic audiences. 

[USA Today]

Trump Is Feuding With the Mayor of Minneapolis Over Security Costs for His Rally

The Trump campaign is locked in a battle with Minneapolis after the city insisted the president’s team cover $530,000 in security costs for a rally later this week.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that city officials told the Target Center, where Trump is planning to hold a re-election rally, that it would have to cover the security costs. The company that manages the arena, AEG, then reportedly passed those costs on to Trump’s campaign, which has now threatened legal action if it’s not assured by Tuesday that the arena would be available for the rally later in the week.

The Trump campaign also slammed Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, a Democrat, saying he was using the rally to boost his profile.

“This is an outrageous abuse of power by a liberal mayor trying to deny the rights of his own city’s residents just because he hates the President,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. “People want to hear from their president, and no mayor looking to beef up his resume for a run for higher office should stand in the way.”

Frey has been a critic of Trump, and when it was announced that Trump would hold a rally in the city, he said the president’s “message of hatred will never be welcome in Minneapolis.”

Frey got into a spat with Trump on Twitter on Tuesday, after the president said the “lightweight mayor is hurting the great police and other wonderful supporters.”

“Yawn… Welcome to Minneapolis, where we pay our bills, we govern with integrity, and we love all of our neighbors,” wrote Frey in response.

The Trump campaign has come under fire for not paying its costs in the past. A report from the Center for Public Integrity in June revealed that Trump’s campaign owed city governments at least $841,219 in unpaid bills for public safety–related expenses.

There’s no legal obligation for campaigns to cover the costs that cities incur during rallies, but they are allowed to use campaign funds to do so. Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal told the Star Tribune that “it’s not fair” for residents to have to cover security costs at events.

“It doesn’t matter who the candidate is or what the event is. If it’s anticipated that there will be a need for additional response … a source of revenue for that needs to be found,” she told the paper.

[Vice]

Trump offered a grieving military father $25,000 in a call, but didn’t follow through

President Trump, in a personal phone call to a grieving military father, offered him $25,000 and said he would direct his staff to establish an online fundraiser for the family, but neither happened, the father said.

Chris Baldridge, the father of Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge, told The Washington Post that Trump called him at his home in Zebulon, N.C., a few weeks after his 22-year-old son and two fellow soldiers were gunned down by an Afghan police officer in a suspected insider attack June 10. Their phone conversation lasted about 15 minutes, Baldridge said, and centered for a time on the father’s struggle with the manner in which his son was killed.

“I said, ‘Me and my wife would rather our son died in trench warfare,’ ” Baldridge said. “I feel like he got murdered over there.”

Trump’s offer of $25,000 adds another dimension to the president’s relations with Gold Star families, an honorific given to those whose loved ones die while serving in support of the nation’s wars. The disclosure follows questions about how often the president has called or written to grieving military families.

The Washington Post contacted the White House about Baldridge’s account on Wednesday morning. Officials declined to discuss the events in detail.

But in a statement Wednesday afternoon, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said: “The check has been sent. It’s disgusting that the media is taking something that should be recognized as a generous and sincere gesture, made privately by the President, and using it to advance the media’s biased agenda.”

Trump said this week that he has “called every family of somebody that’s died, and it’s the hardest call to make.” At least 20 Americans have been killed in action since he became commander in chief in January. The Washington Post interviewed the families of 13 and found that his interactions with them vary. About half had received phone calls, they said. The others said they had not heard from the president.

In his call with Trump, Baldridge, a construction worker, expressed frustration with the military’s survivor benefits program. Because his ex-wife was listed as their son’s beneficiary, she was expected to receive the Pentagon’s $100,000 death gratuity — even though “I can barely rub two nickels together,” he told Trump.

The president’s response shocked him.

“He said, ‘I’m going to write you a check out of my personal account for $25,000,’ and I was just floored,” Baldridge said. “I could not believe he was saying that, and I wish I had it recorded because the man did say this. He said, ‘No other president has ever done something like this,’ but he said, ‘I’m going to do it.’ ”

The president has faced worsening backlash since details emerged of his phone call Tuesday with the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, who was killed Oct. 4 alongside three other U.S. soldiers in Niger. After not addressing the incident for 12 days, Trump on Monday falsely claimed that previous presidents never or rarely called the families of fallen service members. In fact, they did so regularly.

[Washington Post]

Contractor Files $2 Million Lawsuit Against Trump For Unpaid Bills

A Maryland-based electrical company is suing President Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel for than $2 million, Politico reports.

AES Electrical, also called Freestate Electrical, alleged that its employees had to work “nonstop” to complete electrical and fire alarm systems before the hotel’s “soft opening” in September and its grand opening in October. It says it never received payment for its work.

The lawsuit also argues that without Freestate, the real estate mogul would not have been able to hold an event at the hotel in September.

“At the time of the ‘soft opening,’ Donald J. Trump, President of Defendent, Trump Old Post Office, LLC, was a U.S. presidential candidate and the ‘soft opening’ had to occur to permit Mr. Trump’s nationally televised campaign event from the Hotel on September 16, 2016, which was to honor U.S. veterans,” the lawsuit says. “But for Freestate’s acceleration of work and performance of extra work on the project, this event would not have been able to occur.”

Freestate also noted that its work before the hotel’s “grand opening” on Oct. 26 was timed just before the Nov. 8 election in order to generate “positive press coverage.”

Freestate isn’t the first contractor to accuse Trump’s businesses of not paying the bills. Two other companies that worked on the Washington hotel — A&D Construction Inc. and plumbing company Joseph J. Magnolia, Inc. — filed liens for unpaid bills.

Latest Unpaid Trump Vendor Is His Own Pollster, Filing Shows

Donald Trump has been stiffing contractors his entire career. But he’s not even waiting until the election is over to stiff those who are working for his campaign.

Trump’s latest campaign financial disclosures show that it is disputing close to $767,000 that its pollster, Tony Fabrizio, says his is owed for work done on the campaign. The conflict is just the latest sign of internal turmoil that has long rocked Trump’s organization, and could be the prelude to yet another Trump lawsuit.

“This is one of the largest disputed campaign debts I have seen, though perhaps the debt’s size should be of little surprise given the fact that Mr. Trump has managed to incrementally grow his inherited fortune by stiffing contractors and taxpayers all along the way,” said Republican campaign finance attorney Matthew Sanderson.

Trump has a long history of stiffing those who work for him. His self-professed philosophy has often been to withhold payment if he isn’t entirely satisfied with the work.
“Given [Trump’s] history of not paying vendors, and his statement that if they haven’t done adequate work he’s not going to pay them, it’s not surprising to see in his campaign that he would have a contested debt,” said Lawrence Noble, the general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center. “From his previous statements, he seems to think that’s a very valid way to do business, if he’s not happy with a vendor: to not pay them.”

A USA Today analysis found that Trump has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past thirty years, and that a large number of these lawsuits relate to people who believe Trump and his companies have failed to pay up.

In the past decade, his companies have been cited 24 times for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Those same companies have been subject to more than 200 liens filed by contractors and employees who said they were stiffed for their work.

“Let’s say that they do a job that’s not good, or a job that they didn’t finish, or a job that was way late. I’ll deduct from their contract, absolutely,” Trump told the newspaper. “That’s what the country should be doing.”

Recent reports have suggested tension between Fabrizio and now-campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, as well as a feeling within the Trump organization that some, such as Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, do not believe Fabrizio’s focus groups are necessary.

Neither the Trump campaign nor Fabrizio responded to a request for comment.

Whatever the case, Trump has found himself in a position with leverage to stiff Fabrizio’s polling firm and other campaign contractors.

“Trump can’t close down his campaign until the debt is resolved, but there’s no deadline for that, so he can hypothetically continue to file regular FEC reports ad nauseam until Fabrizio agrees to accept less,” explained Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for the left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

“Mr. Trump may be pursuing the Newt Gingrich style of campaigning, which is a strategy of stringing along the various small businesses working for your election only to leave them holding the bag at the end of the day,” quipped Sanderson, the Republican pollster.

The timing of this contested debt is unusual—most contractors to political campaigns usually wait until after the elections to settle up, and the fact that it has been listed in public records before Election Day suggests an even more troubled road ahead.

“What’s unusual about this is that it’s happening before the election. Normally these kinds of things are dealt with after the election,” Noble said. “The fact that they’re listing it as a contested debt may mean they’re getting pressure from the vendor to pay up, and the vendor’s next step may be to sue the campaign if they don’t reach a settlement.”

(h/t The Daily Beast)

In Post-Debate Interview, Trump Again Criticizes Pageant-Winner’s Weight

At the end of Monday night’s presidential debate, Hillary Clinton accused Donald Trump of taunting one of his former Miss Universe contestants about her weight.

Clinton said the Republican nominee’s criticisms of Alicia Machado, a Venezuelan who won the Miss Universe contest in 1996, was “one of the worst things he said” about women. “He called this woman Miss Piggy. Then he called her Miss Housekeeping because she was Latina.”

While Trump appeared to dispute Clinton’s accusation on the debate stage, he called into Fox and Friends Tuesday morning and once again called Machado fat.

“I know that person. That person was a Miss Universe person,” Trump told the Fox News morning show. “And she was the worst we ever had, the worst, the absolute worst, she was impossible,” he said. “She gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem. We had a real problem. Not only that, her attitude.”

With his past statements about Machado playing into critiques Clinton wanted to make at Monday night’s high-profile debate, the Clinton campaign was quick to pounce. An hour after the debate ended, her campaign tweeted a two-minute video about Machado’s experience with Trump.

“He was very overwhelming. I was very scared of him,” she says in Spanish. “He’d yell at me all the time. He’d tell me ‘you look ugly’ or ‘you look fat.’ Sometimes he’d ‘play’ with me and say ‘Hello Miss Piggy, hello Miss Housekeeping.’ ”

The Clinton campaign’s video also includes archived footage of Trump telling reporters “she weighed 118 pounds, or 117 pounds, and she went up to 160 or 170. So this is somebody who likes to eat.”

Articles at the time confirm Trump’s comments.

  • In 1997, Donald Trump told Howard Stern that Machado was an “eating machine” who “ate a lot of everything.” “You whipped this fat slob into shape,” the radio host told Trump. “I don’t know how you did it. I see all these diet plans, everything else. God bless you.” When asked if Trump had “gotten her down to 118,” he said she is going to be there soon.
  • Around the same time, Trump told Newsweek: “We’ve tried diet, spa, a trainer, incentives. Forget it, the way she’s going, she’d eat the whole gymnasium.”
  • Machado told the Washington Post at the time she was caught by surprise about reporters being present. “I asked him to please send me to a trainer or a nutritionist or something because I needed some orientation, and he sends me to a gym in New York,” she said. “When I get there, there are 80 reporters waiting to watch me sweat. I thought that was in very bad taste.”
  • Donald Trump wrote in his 1997 book Art of the Comeback, “I could just see Alicia Machado, the current Miss Universe, sitting there plumply. God, what problems I had with this woman. First, she wins. Second, she gains 50 pounds. Third, I urge the committee not to fire her. Fourth, I go to the gym with her, in a show of support. Final act: She trashes me in The Washington Post — after I stood by her the entire time. What’s wrong with this picture? Anyway, the best part about the evening was the knowledge that next year, she would no longer be Miss Universe.”

Machado told the campaign that the experience led to long-term eating disorders. “I wouldn’t eat, and I would still see myself as fat, because a powerful man had said so.”

“He always treated me like a little thing. He always treated me like trash,” Machado said Tuesday in a conference call organized by the Clinton campaign.

She said she was caught off-guard when Clinton talked about her Monday night. “I started to cry because I never imagined that someone so important would care about my story,” she said, speaking in Spanish.

“I’m very sorry that I might be an uncomfortable person for Mr. Trump,” Machado said, “but that’s how things happen, that’s how things go.”

(h/t NPR)

Media

Links

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2016/05/17/when_donald_trump_humiliated_miss_universe_for_gaining_weight.html

Trump Policy Staffers Quit After Not Being Paid

Many of Donald Trump’s Washington, D.C., policy staffers quit working for the campaign after not being paid or publicly recognized, according to a new report in The Washington Post.

According to former employees, they were told they would be paid when Corey Lewandowski was campaign manager. But Paul Manafort, who replaced Lewandowski in July, said the staffers would remain unpaid.

“It’s a complete disaster,” a campaign adviser told the Post. “They use and abuse people. The policy office fell apart in August when the promised checks weren’t delivered.”

Jason Miller, a campaign spokesman, said that the D.C. policy shop has been “very successful” but added that “no such oral agreements were made” in respect to paying the staffers.

The two leaders of the policy shop, Rick Dearborn and John Mashburn, allegedly promised the workers that the money was coming. The report notes, however, that Dearborn failed to get an approved budget for the D.C. branch after Manafort was appointed.

“I heard it from Dearborn, I heard it from Mashburn. It was understood that we would be paid. The campaign never discussed how much the pay would be. It was never in writing,” another staffer told the newspaper.

“There were some people who were treating it as a full-time job. I suspect that those people were quite astonished when the pay didn’t come through.”

There were also workers who did not hold the policy shop’s leaders responsible.

“Rick Dearborn was always professional and forthcoming with me,” said the former policy coordinator.

“I was certainly under the expectation I would be paid at some point, but I don’t blame Rick Dearborn.”

The list of staffers who left the D.C. policy shop includes Ying Ma, a former staffer to Trump adviser Ben Carson; Tera Dahl, a former assistant to ex-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.); J.D. Gordon, the shop’s director of national security; and conservative writer William Triplett, among others.

The staffers who remained in the Washington office are now working on a volunteer basis, the report added.

(h/t The Hill)

 

Donald Trump Even Refuses to Pay His Top Staff

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has run an unusually cheap campaign in part by not paying at least 10 top staffers, consultants and advisers, some of whom are no longer with the campaign, according to a review of federal campaign finance filings.

Those who have so far not been paid, the filings show, include recently departed campaign manager Paul Manafort, California state director Tim Clark, communications director Michael Caputo and a pair of senior aides who left the campaign in June to immediately go to work for a Trump Super PAC.

The New York real estate magnate and his allies have touted his campaign’s frugality, saying it is evidence of his management skills. His campaign’s spending has totaled $89.5 million so far, about a third of what Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign has spent.

But not compensating top people in a presidential campaign is a departure from campaign finance norms. Many of the positions involved might typically come with six-figure annual paychecks in other campaigns.

“It’s unprecedented for a presidential campaign to rely so heavily on volunteers for top management positions,” said Paul Ryan, an election lawyer with the campaign finance reform advocacy group Campaign Legal Center.

The Trump campaign said the Reuters’ reporting was “sloppy at best” but declined to elaborate.

One of the 10 who were unpaid, Michael Caputo, told a Buffalo radio station in June after he resigned from the campaign, that he was not volunteering. Rather, he said he just had not gotten paid. Caputo confirmed to Reuters on Thursday that the Trump campaign has still not paid his invoices.

In another instance, two high-level former Trump campaign advisers, former Chris Christie campaign manager Ken McKay and Manafort lobbying associate Laurance Gay, departed the Trump campaign in June and went to work for the Trump-backed Super PAC, Rebuilding America Now. In June, the Super PAC paid each of them $60,000, the filings show.

Federal campaign law stipulates that people working for campaigns, who may possess strategic knowledge of a campaign or work as a campaign’s agents, must wait for 120 days before going to work for a Super PAC, a political spending group that can accept unlimited sums of money from wealthy donors so long as it does not coordinate with a campaign.

Through a spokesperson, McKay and Gay said they were volunteering for Trump and did not possess strategic information so the rule did not apply to them.

Another example of free labor is Rick Gates, who was Manafort’s deputy. According to two former high-level Trump staffers, Gates essentially functioned as the Trump campaign manager for more than two months, all while not collecting a paycheck.

By contrast, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook earned roughly $10,000 in July, the same amount as President Barack Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina did in 2012. That same year, Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, was making nearly $7,000 bi-monthly.

Others who, according to the FEC filings, have not been paid include finance chairman Steven Mnuchin, national political director Rick Wiley and senior adviser Barry Bennett, who were not available for comment. Nor were Manafort, Gates and Clark.

Many campaigns have volunteers who work as low-level ground troops, knocking on voters’ doors and passing out campaign buttons. There are instances in other campaigns of senior staff opting not to draw a paycheck. For example, John Podesta, a longtime adviser to Clinton who is now her campaign chairman, considers his role honorary and does not draw a salary.

What is unusual, however, is for a campaign to have such a large group of people in top positions who are unpaid.

After Manafort resigned in August, Trump promoted his senior adviser and top pollster, Kellyanne Conway, to become his new campaign manager.

Before then, Conway ran a Super PAC affiliated with Texas Senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. For work from June 2015 to June 2016, the Super PAC paid the firm she owns more than $700,000.

She officially joined the Trump campaign July 1. But so far, according to campaign finance reports that detail spending through July 31, Conway has not been paid by the Trump campaign.

She did not respond to a request for comment.

Reality

Donald Trump has had a long history of refusing payment to the little guys, contractors and employees, now it appears he won’t look out for the big guys either.

USA Freedom Kids Manager Suing Donald Trump for Payment Refusal

Back in January, a trio of young girls known as the “USA Freedom Kids” performed at a Donald Trump rally in Pensacola, Florida. The routine, which involved the girls whirling in flashy American-flag dresses and singing a song that denounced the other presidential candidates as sworn enemies, was roundly mocked on social media, where viewers likened the video to performances honoring North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

Now Jeff Popick, the creator behind the patriotic trio and father of the youngest member in the group, told The Washington Post he plans to sue Trump, alleging his campaign violated several verbal agreements and subsequently stiffed the group of proper monetary compensation.

It started in Pensacola. When Popick first reached out to the Trump campaign about performing, he spoke with various people including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. His understanding from the campaign was that the Kids would make two appearances in Florida, where Popick lives. The first event didn’t come to fruition, and Popick says he asked for $2,500 in payment for the second performance, in Pensacola. The campaign made a counter-offer: How about a table where the group could pre-sell albums?

According to Popick, no table ever showed up—and the incident was the first of a series of broken promises and unreturned phone calls that went on all the way to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. There, Trump’s team allegedly offered Popick a consolation prize and promised that the girls could perform because of all the previous disappointments. That performance never materialized either and now he says he’s planning to file suit. He wouldn’t specify how much he’d sue for, but he explained that it wasn’t a “billion-dollar lawsuit” and suggested a performance at a Trump venue similar to the RNC one could also work.

“He might still be the best candidate as president of the United States—or not,” Popick told the Post.

(h/t Mother Jones)

Reality

Popick’s experience fits squarely with the narrative of many others who say they were ripped off by the real estate magnate for a variety of broken contracts.

Media

Hotel Fights Back After Trump Refuses To Pay

A Virginia hotel is fighting back against Donald Trump after the GOP presidential nominee criticized the air conditioning — or lack thereof — at a Monday event there.

“If we are in a ballroom, it’s not supposed to be so hot that everybody in the audience is using a fan,” Trump said during the campaign event at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center.

And he threatened to not pay his bill for the room — a frequent move by Trump’s companies when he says he receives inadequate service.

“You ought to try turning on the air conditioning or we are not going to get you paid,” Trump said. “I pay my bills so fast with somebody good. With somebody average, I pay them OK. With somebody great, a lot of times I give them bonuses … This is ridiculous.”

Attendees at the event appeared warm and uncomfortable, and laughed when Trump commented on the lack of air conditioning.

On Tuesday, the hotel pushed back, saying it had operated the air conditioning fully and pointing to the number of people in the room as the issue.

“The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center is committed to providing exceptional service and accommodation for all guests and members of the community,” hotel spokesman Michael Quonce said in a statement. “The hotel’s HVAC system was on and working properly through the event. We made every effort to create a comfortable environment for all of our guests given soaring temperatures and a ballroom filled with hundreds of attendees.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(h/t CNN)

Reality

Separate investigations have found that Trump has a pattern of not paying or underpaying contractors and individuals he has worked with, alleging that the work was substandard. And lawsuits show Trump’s organization wages Goliath vs David legal battles over small amounts of money that are negligible to the billionaire and his executives — but devastating to his much-smaller foes.

Reports published by USA Today and The Wall Street Journal in June found Trump’s companies were facing hundreds of claims that Trump has stiffed people he contracted with for decades.

Both reports analyzed court records and interviewed the people behind the claims, and found that the average working American that Trump has geared his campaign toward are some of the same people his business hasn’t paid.

Often, the issue is settled out of court for less than the sum owed under the weight of costly legal proceedings.

Trump maintains that he pays for adequate service and even pays extra when work is performed exceptionally well.

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