Trump campaign chief is funneling pay to Eric Trump’s wife, Don Jr.’s girlfriend

President Donald Trump’s campaign manager is quietly channeling money to Eric Trump’s wife, Lara Trump, and Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, The New York Times reported Monday.

The payments are hidden from public view because they’re made through campaign manager Paul Parscale’s private company, Parscale Strategy, based in San Antonio, sources told the Times. Typically, such payments would be part of public filings required by the Federal Election Commission so that donors can find out how their contributions are being used — in this case, to pay members of the president’s family.

The family benefits are linked to a network of politically connected private companies — operating with the support and help of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner — that have charged roughly $75 million since 2017 to the Trump reelection campaign, the Republican National Committee and other Republican clients, according to the Times. 

Guilfoyle last year angrily confronted Parscale about late checks owed to her, two witnesses told the Times. He reportedly promised that the situation would be rectified by his wife, Candice Parscale, who often handles his company accounts.

One of Lara Trump’s most notorious contributions to her father-in-law’s campaign early this year was to mock rival Joe Biden’s stutter, which he has grappled with since he was a child.

She was initially hired as a senior consultant in early 2017 by another Parscale company, digital vender Giles-Parscale, also based in San Antonio, The Associated Press reported. Lara Trump was to serve as a liaison between the company and Donald Trump’s campaign, headquartered in Manhattan’s Trump Tower, which is owned by the president’s Trump Organization. Parscale was named Trump’s reelection campaign manager the following year. 

The Trump campaign announced in January that Guilfoyle, a former Fox News personality who stated dating Trump Jr. two years ago, would lead the joint fundraising drive between the campaign and the RNC.

Guilfoyle left Fox News in 2018 following a human resources investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior, including sexual misconduct, HuffPost reported at the time. An attorney for Guilfoyle denied all accusations as “unequivocally baseless.”

HuffPost could not immediately reach Parscale for comment.

Parscale declined to comment to the Times “in detail” on the article, the paper reported. He has, however, said in the past that private companies provide greater flexibility in a campaign, given campaign finance law requirements, noted the Times.  

[AOL]

Trump hotels charge Secret Service up to $650 per night while protecting him

Secret Service personnel traveling with President Trump to his private luxury properties in Palm Beach, Fla., and Bedminster, N.J., pay rates as high at $650 per night for lodging, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

The Post investigation tallied the amount of taxpayer dollars spent in Trump’s properties and found that the Secret Service spent $159,000 at Trump’s D.C. hotel in his first year alone. In the president’s out-of-state properties, the Trump company is recorded as charging as much as $17,000 per month for rent.

The newspaper noted that after a thorough search of rentals in the area for comparable homes, the average cost for rent was $3,400. 

Trump previously told The Hill in 2015 that he “would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done,” but currently he often visits his properties in Florida and New Jersey, Secret Service in tow. 

In an October interview with Yahoo News, Eric Trump, the executive vice president of The Trump Organization, answered questions about the president’s decision to host the 2020 Group of Seven summit at the president’s golf club, Trump National Doral Miami in Florida.

“If my father travels, they stay at our properties for free,” Trump said. “So everywhere that he goes, if he stays at one of his places, the government actually spends, meaning it saves a fortune because if they were to go to a hotel across the street, they’d be charging them $500 a night, whereas, you know we charge them, like $50.”

Those numbers don’t match the Post’s findings. Trump told the Post that the company is legally required to charge a fee, though they were unable to find what law he was citing.

The Post’s report comes just hours before an appeals court ruled that Democrats cannot sue President Trump over emoluments claims.

More than 200 House and Senate Democrats alleged that the president’s holdings and refusal to put his business assets into a blind trust violates the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause, which prohibits federal officials from receiving gifts from foreign countries. 

The lawmakers’ lawsuit claimed that foreign diplomats’ patronage to Trump hotels is exactly the kind of entanglement that the framers of the Constitution hoped to avoid. 

Separately, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have requested details on Trump’s travel costs as part of negotiations over legislation regulating the Secret Service. However, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has told the committee that he opposes releasing that information until December, after the general election.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

[The Hill]

Trump moves to overhaul the National Environmental Policy Act

The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled significant changes to the nation’s landmark environmental law that would make it easier for federal agencies to approve infrastructure projects without considering climate change.

Many of the White House’s proposed changes to the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act have been supported by business groups that contend the law has delayed or blocked projects like laying out oil pipelines and building dams and mines, among other things.

Environmentalists said that the rules would endanger wildlife and lead to more carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, and contend that the regulations should be strengthened not weakened as the world copes with global warming.

If the proposals are enacted, it would be the first overhaul of NEPA in more than 40 years.

The plan, released by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, would no longer require any form of federal environmental review of construction projects that lack substantial government funding. The change would also widen the category of projects that will be exempt from NEPA regulations.

“We want to build new roads, bridges, tunnels, highways, bigger, better fast and we want to build them at less cost,” President Donald Trump said at the White House on Thursday.

The move is the latest effort by the Trump administration to roll back a slew of environmental regulations in place to curb greenhouse gas emissions and protect natural habitats from drilling and development.

The changes are expected to be published in the Federal Register on Friday. There will be a 60-day comment period and two open hearings before the final regulation is delivered.

The administration has argued that the law can increase costs for builders, block construction projects and threaten jobs for American workers and labor union members.

“The step we’re taking today, which will ultimately lead to final regulations, I believe will hit a home run in delivering better results to the American people by cutting red tape that has paralyzed common sense decision making for a generation,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said Thursday.

Jay Timmons, president and chief executive of the National Association of Manufacturers, said that the president’s plan is exactly what his group wanted.

“Our efforts should be used for building the infrastructure Americans desperately need, not wasted on mountains of paperwork and endless delay,” he said.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., a senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, argued that the changes prioritize polluters and corporations over the environment.

“This NEPA rewrite favors big polluters and corporate profits over balanced, science-based decision making and would prevent Washingtonians from voicing their views on proposals ranging from siting a new fossil fuel pipeline in their backyard to building an open-pit mine that could destroy the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery,” she said in a statement.

“We need to make smarter environmental decisions, not roll back the safeguards we already have,” Cantwell said.

The administration’s proposed changes might not make it through court, according to Bruce Huber, an environmental law professor at Notre Dame Law School.

“The law requires federal agencies to report the environmental impacts of their actions that significantly affect ‘the quality of the human environment,’” he said. “If the regulations announced today drive agencies to diminish the extent or quality of their reporting, federal courts may very well conclude that their reports do not comply with the law.”

William Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, said that the White House’s proposal is consistent with other environmental regulation rollbacks.

“This is all about the election and Trump getting out there and shoring up his base,” Snape said. “The Trump administration has been losing more cases than it’s winning in oil and gas – and this is a chance to blame someone else.”

[CNBC]

Trump Praises Business Partner Tiger Woods After Golfer Notches Record-Tying 82nd Career PGA Tour Win

President Donald Trump sent out his praise to “AMAZING CHAMPION” Tiger Woods in the wake of the golfer’s 82nd PGA Tour win.

Woods won the record-tying title Monday, tying with Sam Snead for highest number of PGA Tour championships.

“Great going Tiger!” Trump said Monday.

“Well, it’s a big number,” Woods said after winning. “It’s about consistency and doing it for a long period of time. Sam did it into his 50s, and I’m in my early to mid-40s. So it’s about being consistent and doing it for a very long period of time. I’ve been very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had so far.”

Trump and Woods have a warm relationship, and the president awarded Woods the Presidential Medal of Freedom earlier this year.

“You have seen the good and the bad, the highs and the lows and I would not be in this position without all of your help… I love you guys so much,” Woods said in his speech, thanking friends and family.

[Mediaite]

Trump just called the Constitution’s emoluments clause ‘phony’

Who cares about emoluments? Not President Trump, that’s for sure.

During a Cabinet meeting Monday, Trump defended his now-reversed decision to host the 2020 Group of Seven Summit at the Trump National Doral Miami resort. While on a tangent, the president hand-waved the Emoluments Clause, which prohibits the federal government from receiving gifts or titles from foreign states without the consent of Congress. Trump described it as “phony,” making it unclear if he’s aware that it’s in the Constitution of the United States.

He also reportedly argued he wouldn’t have profited off the summit, world leaders deserved the best hospitality possible, and other presidents “ran their businesses” while in office, which actually hasn’t been the case since former President Andrew Johnson left office.

[The Week]

Trump Lashes Out at Coverage of Awarding G7 to Resort He Owns, Also Extolls Resort’s ‘Tremendous Ballrooms’

President Donald Trump reacted angrily Saturday to criticism of his administration announcing it would hold a summit of foreign leaders at a resort Trump owns.

“I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders,” Trump said Saturday night.

Trump went on to praise the features of his resort like “tremendous ballrooms” and claimed again that he would not “profit” from the summit.

Trump also highlighted Doral’s proximity to Miami International Airport as a positive, but Chuck Todd and David Fahrenthold pointed to that as a negative on Friday, both of them agreeing it was a security risk for the high-profile event.

“Doral is right on the Miami airport flight paths,” Todd said. “I think one of my reporters told me there’s like 20 different flight paths that are going to have to be diverted.”

“This is such a security nightmare to put it in the middle of a neighborhood where you’re going to have the neighbors coming and going,” Fahrenthold said.

[Mediaite]

G-7 Summit To Be Held At Trump’s Miami Golf Resort

Next year’s Group of Seven gathering of the leaders of the world’s biggest economies will take place at President Trump’s Doral golf resort outside of Miami,acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announced on Thursday.

“We used a lot of the same criteria used by past administrations,” Mulvaney said. He later said it was almost as though the resort had been built for the event.

The Trump administration’s decision to host the high-profile international summit at Doral is sure to stoke the ongoing controversy about Trump’s decision to maintain his ownership of his businesses while serving as president.

“We know the environment we live in,” Mulvaney said, adding that Trump was willing to take the scrutiny.

Mulvaney noted that Doral was Trump’s suggestion that staff followed up on. He said “no” when asked whether it was better to avoid the appearance of self-dealing, pointing repeatedly to potential cost savings. He said he would not share documents on the decision-making process.

Trump made his interest in holding the summit at Doral known in August, while attending this year’s gathering in Biarritz, France.

“We haven’t found anything that could even come close to competing with it,” Trump told reporters. He mentioned the resort’s proximity to Miami International Airport, abundant parking and private cabanas to host each country’s delegation. “It’s got tremendous acreage, many hundreds of acres, so we can handle whatever happens.”

According to Trump’s financial disclosures, he earned $76 million in income from Doral in 2018. But in a sign of how the Trump brand has struggled since he became a political figure, that’s a substantial drop from the nearly $116 million the resort earned for him in 2016.

Reaction from Democrats was swift and negative.

“The Administration’s announcement that President Trump’s Doral Miami resort will be the site of the next G7 summit is among the most brazen examples yet of the President’s corruption,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., in a statement. “He is exploiting his office and making official U.S. government decisions for his personal financial gain.”

When asked whether it was appropriate to hold the international summit at Trump’s property, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told reporters at the Capitol, “No.”

While Trump stepped away from running the Trump Organization before becoming president, he never gave up his stake in his various businesses, which include golf clubs, hotels and office buildings around the world.

There are several lawsuits moving through the courts that allege Trump is violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which bans the president from accepting gifts and payments from foreign and state governments.

Noah Bookbinder — the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which is one of the groups suing Trump over the emoluments issue — described the announcement as “unbelievable.”

“Given the potential consequences the president is facing for abusing the presidency for his own gain, we would have thought he would steer clear of blatant corruption at least temporarily; instead he has doubled down on it,” said Bookbinder.

Since Trump secured the GOP nomination in 2016, his properties have become favored places for Republicans to hold fundraising and political events. Federal Election Commission records indicate that Trump’s reelection campaign, GOP committees and candidates have spent millions at Trump properties.

Mulvaney said on Thursday that he himself was initially skeptical of the idea but said the event would be “dramatically cheaper” if held at Doral. He said Trump had “made it very clear” that he would not profit from having the resort host the summit.

Trump’s international properties also have come under scrutiny. This summer, the U.S. Air Force acknowledged that hundreds of service members had stayed at Trump’s Scottish resort during refueling stops there. Vice President Pence also came under scrutiny for staying at Trump’s Irish golf resort during an official visit to Ireland.

[NPR]

Trump made ‘suggestion’ Pence stay at president’s Irish golf club

President Donald Trump suggested that Vice President Mike Pence stay at his Irish golf club on an official trip funded by taxpayer dollars, Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short told reporters Tuesday.

Pence, who is traveling with his wife, sister, and mother, is staying at the president’s golf club in Doonbeg, Ireland, during his visit to the country. Rather than stay in Dublin, where he is set for a day of meetings and events with Irish officials, Pence is making the back-and-forth trip from Doonbeg to Dublin, more than an hour flight each way.

Originally, Pence was scheduled to conclude his trip in Doonbeg, where he has familial ties, after attending World War II commemoration ceremonies in Poland.

On whether the president asked Pence to stay at his Irish golf club, Short said: “I don’t think it was a request, like a command. … I think that it was a suggestion.”

“It’s like when we went through the trip, it’s like, well, he’s going to Doonbeg because that’s where the Pence family is from,” Short said before describing the president’s suggestion. “It’s like, ‘Well, you should stay at my place.'”

“It wasn’t like a ‘you must,'” Short added. “It wasn’t like, ‘You have to.’ It’s a facility that could accommodate the team. Keep in mind, the Secret Service has protected that facility for him, too, so they sort of know the realities, they know the logistics around that facility.”

Short said the president was not having Pence stay at the resort for free, insisting that the club was the only facility in Doonbeg that could accommodate the vice president’s entourage. He said he didn’t have a cost estimate yet.

“We always explore lower cost options, which is why, you know, you have basically different footprints for this trip as well,” Short said. “But when you’re in Doonbeg tonight and you’re with the vice president on some of the official visits he’s also doing, you’ll also see there are not a lot of options in that community.”

After speaking to reporters, Short told a New York Times reporterthat Pence is “personally paying all family expenses.”

Speaking with reporters later Tuesday, Pence said he understood “political attacks by Democrats” regarding his stay at Trump’s resort.

“But if you have a chance to get to Doonbeg, you’ll find it’s a fairly small place and the opportunity to stay at the Trump National in Doonbeg, to accommodate the unique footprint that comes with our security detail and other personnel, made it logical,” he added. “We checked it with the State Department. They approved us staying there.”

The president has come under scrutiny for using taxpayer dollars at his properties both in the U.S. and overseas. Last month, Trump even suggested that next year’s G-7 summit should be hosted at his Miami golf resort, insisting he would not profit off such a venture.

Since taking office, the president has spent roughly 300 days at Trump properties, according to an NBC News count. Ahead of his inauguration, Trump chose to turn control of his company over to his two adult sons and a senior Trump Organization executive rather than divest from his large portfolio.

[NBC News]

After criticism by Paul Krugman, Trump just lashed out at American labor on Labor Day

For a newspaper that he constantly describes as “failing” and “Fake News,” Donald Trump pays an awful lot of attention to The New York Times.

A series of tweets by the paper’s Nobel Prize-winning economics columnist Paul Krugman referenced an article in the newspaper on how Trump’s establishment of “Opportunity Zones” — part of the Republican tax bill that gave billions in tax cuts to the already wealthy while offering pittances to everyone else — primarily benefited Trump’s associates and benefactors in a swampy mass of corruption as usual.

Krugman’s strong indictment of the Trump administration’s tax policies — coupled with The New York Times’ exposure of the dark underbelly of billionaire tax evasion schemes — was enough to set the president off on an epic Twitter rant, one not likely to earn him the Nobel Prize in economics that his critic already possesses.

With growing predictions of an impending economic recession looming, Trump defended his economic policies with the usual parcel of lies he offers in defense of his economic stewardship to his gullible followers.

Nothing says “truthiness” like a quote praising Trump from Fox News, at least in the president’s own eyes.

Trump went directly after Krugman in his next tweet.

Trump’s criticism of Krugman’s economic advice would certainly carry more weight if the figures he used in his tweet were anything close to the reality of the stock market performance.

No, the stock market hasn’t grown “over 50%” since Trump took office. The S&P 500 was up around 29% since the beginning of the president’s term until mid-August of this year — a figure that compares negatively to the index’s performance of a 46% gain at the same point in the Obama presidency.

Yet, any rise in the market during the Trump administration also ignores the fact that only slightly more than 50% of Americans actually own any stocks whatsoever and that the richest 10% of households controlled 84% of the total value of the stock market.

Trump says that anyone following Krugman’s advice would be doing “VERY poorly,” but their opinions about that advice will change dramatically when the poor market fundamentals caused by Trump’s trade wars and tariff impositions lead to an inevitable market collapse and wipe out the paper wealth that was generated during his term.

Unfortunately for America and the global economy, Trump is the one who doesn’t “get it.” With the U.S. Treasury bond yield curve still inverted — a historical sign that a market crash is imminent as investors flee the stock market to the safety of government bonds — chances are good that the US will enter a recession before the 2020 elections are held.

At that point, no amount of tweeted lies by Donald Trump will help reverse the economic damage his policies have caused. The smart money is following Krugman’s advice while the rich continue to exploit Trump’s tax policies to siphon money from government services that the rest of us depend on while driving up government debt to make their case to cut back or even eliminate those services.

[Occupy Democrats]

Barr books Trump’s hotel for $30,000 holiday party

Attorney General William P. Barr is planning a holiday treat for his boss.

Last month, Barr booked President Trump’s D.C. hotel for a 200-person holiday party in December that is likely to deliver Trump’s business more than $30,000 in revenue.

Barr signed a contract, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, for a “Family Holiday Party” in the hotel’s Presidential Ballroom Dec. 8. The party will feature a buffet and a four-hour open bar for about 200 people.

Barr is paying for the event himself and chose the venue only after other hotels, including the Willard and the Mayflower, were booked, according to a Justice Department official. The official said the purpose of Barr’s party wasn’t to curry favor with the president.

Barr holds the bash annually, and it combines holiday festivities and a ceilidh, a party featuring Irish or Scottish music.

“Career ethics officials were consulted, and they determined that ethics rules did not prohibit him from hosting his annual party at the Trump hotel,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the party is not a Justice Department event.

Barr’s decision to book his boss’s hotel marks the latest collision between Trump’s administration and his business, which the president no longer operates but from which he still benefits financially.

Trump said Monday that he was likely to hold next year’s Group of Seven international summit at his golf resort in Doral, Fla. Already the federal government and GOP campaigns have spent at least $1.6 million at his properties since he entered office, according to a Post analysis, though the actual figure is likely to be higher because of the difficulty of obtaining up-to-date records.

Barr, the nation’s top law enforcement official, has previously faced criticism for adopting language that hews closely to Trump’s. For example, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III complained that Barr’s characterization of his investigation — which closely mirrored the president’s — “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of Mueller’s final report. Experts have cited that and other examples in questioning Barr’s independence from the president.

“It creates the appearance that high-level political appointees or allies of the president may feel like they need to spend money at the president’s businesses as a show of loyalty, and that is something that makes me deeply uncomfortable and should make taxpayers deeply uncomfortable,” said Liz Hempowicz, director of public policy at the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight.

The Trump Organization declined to comment. Representatives from the Willard Hotel declined to comment, citing the company’s privacy policy. A spokeswoman for the Mayflower Hotel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Barr’s decision to book the Trump hotel is noteworthy, in particular, because Justice Department attorneys are defending the president’s business in court. Trump’s D.C. hotel has hosted a number of foreign governments as clients, business that has generated two lawsuits, one from the attorneys general of Maryland and D.C. and the other from about 200 Democratic members of Congress.

Both cases are being considered in federal court, and the Justice Department is defending the president’s position that he has not run afoul of the anti-corruption provisions in the Constitution called the domestic and foreign emoluments clauses.

D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D), a plaintiff in one of the emoluments cases against Trump, said Barr’s plans make him fear “that all this does is it normalizes conduct of presidential supporters or would-be supporters, who clearly know a clear avenue to curry favor with the president and that is to do business with the president’s business.

White House aides, including inside the White House Counsel’s Office, have warned Trump and Cabinet officials against making official visits to his properties.

Barr’s event falls into a different category. It isn’t an official event — it’s a party. His contract requires that he spend $4,500 to rent the ballroom — space designed by Ivanka Trump before she joined her father in the White House — and $135 per person for a buffet and open bar, a number that is likely to change after Barr chooses a menu for the event.

Walter Shaub, a former director of the Office of Government Ethics who has been an outspoken critic of Trump’s ethics record, called Barr’s decision to book Trump’s hotel “one of those things that doesn’t violate the rules, but it’s really troubling.”

“He keeps sending signals that his loyalty is to a politician and not to the country,” Shaub said. “And it’s part of an ongoing erosion of credibility at the Department of Justice.”

It’s difficult to determine whether Barr will pay market rate for the event, as the Justice Department official asserted he would. The contract, sent to Barr at his Northern Virginia home, calls for a minimum of $100 per person for food and beverage before adding 35 percent for taxes and tip. It requires that Barr pay at least $31,500, even if he cancels the event.

The hotel’s publicly available menu lists a “banquet dinner” as costing $115 per person for two hours plus $30 for each additional hour. A hosted bar costs $29 for the first hour per person and an additional $12 per hour for each additional hour. If Barr opts for that level of service at those prices, the food and beverage bill for 200 guests would probably top $45,000.

Hotels typically have lots of available space on Sunday nights, leading them to offer less expensive rates. A contract the hotel signed with Virginia Women for Trump for a Monday event in the summer of 2018, obtained separately by The Post, required a $3,050 room rental fee and a $39,000 banquet fee for a much larger group, 818 people, though it did not include an open bar.

Hempowicz said that if Barr receives a discount from the hotel, it would give other Americans dealing with the Justice Department reason for concern, whomever the party is for.

“If the attorney general gets a discount while the Justice Department defends the hotel in court, that is not how the justice system is supposed to work and it’s not how the Department of Justice is supposed to work,” she said.

[Washington Post]

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