Trump anti-discrimination official once called most hate crimes hoaxes

A senior Trump appointee responsible for enforcing laws against financial discrimination once questioned in blog posts written under a pen name if using the n-word was inherently racist and claimed that the great majority of hate crimes were hoaxes.

Eric Blankenstein, a policy director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, expressed those and other controversial views more than a decade ago on a political blog he co-authored with two other anonymous contributors.

In a 2004 post, Blankenstein wrote that a proposal at the University of Virginia to impose harsher academic penalties for acts of intolerance was “racial idiocy.” He questioned how authorities could know the motivation of someone using a racial slur.

“Fine . . . let’s say they called him n—– ,” he wrote, spelling out the slur. “. . . would that make them racists, or just a——-?”

Blankenstein also wrote that “hate-crime hoaxes are about three times as prevalent as actual hate crimes.”

The details about Blankenstein’s blog have not been previously reported. He wrote under the name “egb3r,” an alias built from his initials. The Washington Post verified the writer is Blankenstein by examining biographical details in the blog that include his age, his graduation from the University of Virginia, the date of his marriage and a reference to his father, a lawyer.

In a statement, Blankenstein acknowledged that he had written the posts but said they have no bearing on his work today. “The insight to be gained about how I perform my job today – by reading snippets of 14 year old blog posts that have nothing to do with consumer protection law — is exactly zero,” he said.

“Any attempt to do so is a naked exercise in bad faith, and represents another nail in the coffin of civil discourse and the ability to reasonably disagree over questions of law and policy,” he said. “The need to dig up statements I wrote as a 25 year old shows that in the eyes of my critics I am not guilty of a legal infraction or neglect of my duties, but rather just governing while conservative.”

Blankenstein, 39, is one of several Trump appointees at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency created by President Barack Obama following the 2008 financial meltdown. He is among the highest paid employees in the government, earning $259,500, records show.

He is responsible for supervising lenders and enforcing an array of consumer protection laws, including the four-decade-old Equal Credit Opportunity Act, landmark civil rights legislation aimed at protecting blacks and other minorities from discriminatory practices and promoting “fair lending.”

[Washington Post]

Trump Bemoans ‘Persecuted White Farmers’ in South Africa

President Trump says he has instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to look into alleged violence against white farmers in South Africa and the government’s alleged seizure of their land after watching a Fox News report on the subject. Citing Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s statement that the “South African government is now seizing land from white farmers,” Trump tweeted that he’s asked Pompeo to “closely study” the matter, which he said involves the “large scale killing of farmers.” The comments, which appear to fuel claims by right-wing groups that the South African government is waging war against whites, seemed to be an abrupt change of subject from perhaps the biggest blow to Trump’s White House so far: the conviction of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the plea deal by his longtime fixer Michael Cohen earlier this week. The State Department has yet to comment on Trump’s tweet, but in a statement cited in the same Fox News report Trump was referencing, the State Department noted that South Africa’s land redistributions are being carried out through “an open process including public hearings, broad-based consultations, and active civic society engagement.” Most of South Africa’s land belongs to a white minority two decades after apartheid ended.

[The Daily Beast]

Reality

How does a specific white genocide conspiracy theory about white farmers being murdered in South Africa pushed by the white supremacist groups AfriForum and Identity Evropa, where the white supremacist podcasts White Rabbit Radio and Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance both had episodes dedicated to, end up being tweeted out by Donald Trump?

Oh he watched it on white supremacist Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show.

The reality is, as with the vast majority of conspiracy theories, it is simply not true.

Yes there are farmers being murdered in South Africa and each one is sad and tragic, but since Trump is talking about the data then we have to look at the data. Murder rates among African farmers have drastically declined over the past decades and there are no stats that say they happened for racial reasons.

The last time there was large scale tracking in South Africa of murders of farmers by race, 33% of victims were black.

Also, South Africa’s has a high murder rate, of 34.1 per 100,000 people, that number is far lower in the rural areas.

 

White House: ‘Can’t guarantee’ no tape of Trump using N-word

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday refused to definitively rule out the possibility that President Trump has used the N-word, but repeatedly pointed out the president has denied uttering the racial slur.

“I can’t guarantee anything,” Sanders said when asked if she can assure that the public will never hear a recording of Trump saying the racial slur.

Sanders said she has not “been in every single room” but added that “the president addressed this question directly” and that she has “never heard him say it.”

The remarkable exchange came after former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman wrote in her new tell-all book “Unhinged” that there are tapes of Trump saying the racial slur on the set of his old reality show, “The Apprentice.”

Trump denied that claim in a Monday night tweet, saying an “Apprentice” producer called him “to say that there are NO TAPES of the Apprentice where I used such a terrible and disgusting word as attributed by Wacky and Deranged Omarosa.”

Manigault Newman’s book has caused a major headache for the White House, and Trump has spent the past several days publicly denying her claims and attacking her credibility. The president escalated those attacks on Tuesday morning, calling her a “lowlife” and a “dog.”

“The president is certainly voicing his frustration with the fact that this person has shown a complete lack of integrity,” Sanders said when asked about the tenor of Trump’s rhetoric.

She also denied that his scorched-earth approach is motivated by Manigault Newman’s race. Before her ouster, she was the highest-ranking African-American in the West Wing.

“The president is an equal-opportunity person who calls things like he sees it,” she said, adding that he will always “fight fire with fire.”

Even though Trump and his staff have spent several days pushing back on the book, Sanders blamed the news media for the amount of attention the book is receiving.

“The individuals in this room continue to create a large platform for somebody they know does not have a lot of credibility,” she said.

Trump’s campaign has filed for arbitration against Manigault Newman, claiming she violated a nondisclosure agreement with the publication of “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House.”

[The Hill]

Media

Donald Trump calls Omarosa Manigault Newman ‘that dog’

Donald Trump has escalated a bitter row with his former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, praising his chief of staff, John Kelly, for “quickly firing that dog”.

Manigault Newman, a former adviser to the US president and contestant on the reality TV show The Apprentice, has released three secret recordingsrelated to her firing as she promotes her memoir, Unhinged.

Her TV appearances, and her claim to have heard a tape of Trump using the N-word and other racial slurs during filming for The Apprentice, have annoyed the president, who levelled another barrage of attacks at her on Tuesday, tweeting: “When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”

On Tuesday morning, Manigault Newman revealed on CBS News a third tape that she says records a 2016 conference call among Trump campaign aides who are discussing how to address potential fallout from the release of tapes that allegedly show Trump using the N-word.

The campaign aides had previously denied that any such conversations took place.

On Monday, Trump denied claims of racism and said Manigault Newman was a liar for claiming he used the N-word: “I don’t have that word in my vocabulary and never have. She made it up.”

When Kelly fired Manigault Newman in December in the White House situation room, she secretly taped it, in an apparent breach of security protocol.

In the recording, which she played on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Kelly told Manigault Newman the firing was the result of “significant integrity issues” and that she could face damage to her reputation if she did not make it a “friendly departure”.

On Monday, Manigault Newman released another recording in which Trump appeared to express surprise that she had been fired. “Omarosa? Omarosa, what’s going on? I just saw on the news that you’re thinking about leaving? What happened?” Trump says on the tape, played on NBC’s Today show.

In a later interview on Monday, Manigault Newman said she “absolutely” had more tapes in her possession and warned that there were more to come.

The controversy has raised questions about whether she could face legal repercussions for recording in the situation room.

Defending her actions, Manigault Newman said the recordings were necessary in a White House “where everybody lies”.

Trump’s scathing attack on Manigault Newman is the latest in a string of insults directed at prominent African American people. This month, Trump questioned the intelligence of the basketball star LeBron James, who had criticised the president in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon. Trump called Lemon the “dumbest man on television”.

Days earlier, Trump said the black California congresswoman Maxine Waters, a Democrat, had a “very low IQ”.

[The Guardian]

President Trump bashes LeBron James over CNN interview: Don Lemon made him ‘look smart’

It seemed inevitable that President Donald Trump would weigh in on LeBron James’ recent interview with CNN’s Don Lemon.

After four days, Trump finally let loose in a Friday night tweet in which he bashed James and said Lemon’s interview made the new Los Angeles Lakers star “look smart.” The president also alluded to preferring Michael Jordan over James.

After four days, Trump finally let loose in a Friday night tweet in which he bashed James and said Lemon’s interview made the new Los Angeles Lakers star “look smart.” The president also alluded to preferring Michael Jordan over James.

James sat down with Lemon for the interview Monday after he cut the ribbon on his foundation’s new I Promise School in his native Akron, Ohio. James spoke at length on the intersection of sports, culture and politics.

James lamented Trump “using sports to kinda divide us, and that’s something that I can’t relate to.”

“Sports has never been something that divides people. It’s always been something that brings someone together,” he said.

James’ recent criticism of the president is not new. He has been an outspoken critic, famously calling Trump a “bum” after he rescinded a White House invitation to the Golden State Warriors this past season.

However, it appears Trump did not always feel that way toward James. In what is now a seemingly regular occurrence, there’s a tweet for that, as they say. In a post from May of 2013, Trump tweeted, “LeBron is a great player and a great guy!”

[USA Today]

Trump tweets that ‘disrespectful’ Eagles were disinvited because not enough would attend

President Donald Trump spoke out about the whirlwind he caused, by uninviting the Philadelphia Eagles to the White House ceremony.

In a tweet President Trump said: “The Philadelphia Eagles Football Team was invited to the White House. Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event. Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!”

CNN’s Don Lemon remind viewers on Monday night that not one Eagles player kneeled during the season and called President Trumps’s actions a political stunt.

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney said President Trump “is the most disrespectful person on earth,” during an interview with Lemon.

[Raw Story]

Trump cancels Philadelphia Eagles visit to the White House

The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles’ White House visit has been canceled due to the controversy over standing for the National Anthem at NFL games, President Donald Trump announced Monday.

“The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow,” Trump said in a statement. “They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country. The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better.”

It’s an unprecedented move by Trump. The NBA champion Golden State Warriors declined an invitation from the President to visit the White House after winning the 2017 championship, but presidents typically honor their invitations to championship teams. Players also have refused those invitations in the past — Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas declined to visit the White House in 2012 over disagreements with President Barack Obama’s policies.

The President typically invites the champions of major professional and college sports to the White House for a visit as a part of their victory celebrations.

Last month, the NFL announced it would require athletes to stand during the National Anthem in response to players who took a knee as protest to what some players see as the systemic oppression of people of color, including by police.

The movement was initially started by Colin Kaepernick, who was formerly with the San Francisco 49ers. He drew national attention for refusing to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” prior to kickoff.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in August 2016.

Trump has repeatedly criticized players for not standing for the anthem and has gone as far as to say team owners should fire players for doing so.

The new NFL policy gives players the option of remaining in the locker room during the playing of the anthem if they do not wish to comply.

Players on the Eagles are some of the most outspoken social justice activists in the NFL, and multiple players took part in the protests during the anthem over the last two seasons. Many players from the team were not planning on attending the ceremony as a protest of Trump, his policies and his outspoken criticism of players who chose to kneel during the anthem.

The Eagles were originally invited to the White House after their win in February’s Super Bowl over the New England Patriots. It was the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.

In response to Trump’s announcement, former Eagles receiver Torrey Smith, who was a member of the championship team and was traded during the off-season, called the move “a cowardly act.”

“So many lies smh Here are some facts 1. Not many people were going to go 2. No one refused to go simply because Trump ‘insists’ folks stand for the anthem 3. The President continues to spread the false narrative that players are anti military,” he said in one tweet.

Smith continued: “There are a lot of people on the team that have plenty of different views. The men and women that wanted to go should’ve been able to go. It’s a cowardly act to cancel the celebration because the majority of the people don’t want to see you. To make it about the anthem is foolish.”

Sen. Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said he’s skipping the White House event, and instead invited the team to take a tour of the US Capitol.

“I’m proud of what the @Eagles accomplished this year. I’m skipping this political stunt at the White House and just invited the Eagles to Congress. @Eagles How about a tour of the Capitol?” Casey wrote on Twitter.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney released a statement, where he said Trump’s decision “proves that our President is not a true patriot.”

“The Eagles call the birthplace of our democracy home, so it’s no surprise that this team embodies everything that makes our country and our city great. Their athletic accomplishments on the field led to an historic victory this year,” Kenney said.

“Disinviting them from the White House only proves that our President is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend,” he later said in the statement.

“City Hall is always open for a celebration,” he added.

Trump said in Monday’s statement that the fans are still welcome to come and partake in a “different kind of ceremony.”

“One that will honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem,” he said.

White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short told CNN’s Erin Burnett he was unsure who canceled on whom.

“It’s unfortunate when politics gets in the middle of this,” Short said.
Trump said he will be at the ceremony alongside the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus at 3 p.m. Tuesday to “celebrate America.”

[CNN]

Top staffer at a pro-Trump super PAC doubles down on claim that black people are ‘statistically’ lazier than whites

Carl Higbie, a former Trump administration official who now works as a high-ranking staffer at a super PAC connected to the president’s agenda distanced himself from racist comments he made on the radio that led to his resignation in January. Now, however, he is doubling down on his claim that black people are “statistically” lazier than whites and claiming the comments were taken out of context.

CNN’s KFILE, the blog that originally revealed the America First Policies’ staffer’s numerous bigoted comments, reported Tuesday that Higbie has since recanted his apology for the remarks he made on his radio show in 2013 and 2014. During those shows, Higbie said he believes “wholeheartedly” that the “black race as a whole” are lazier than white people. He also claimed black women use welfare “as a form of employment,” and that he doesn’t like Muslims because their “ideology sucks.”

When resigning from his position leading the government program that sponsors Americorps, Higbie said that his comments from years prior “do not reflect who I am or what I stand for” and claimed to “regret saying them.”

During a radio appearance on Friday, however, the former Trump administration official said he stands by his comments.

“They dig up a couple things, a couple. Look, I had a radio show,” Higbie told Virginia talk radio DJ John Fredericks. “How many times have you said something on radio that could possibly be construed as very controversial when taken completely out of context? What, daily?”

Higbie went on to tout his time spent “in low-income, urban minority communities” as well as his “mission trips in high school to Dominican Republic, Central America [and] South America” before saying he made a “statistical observation” about black people as a race.

“It fit their narrative,” he said of KFILE’s reporting that led to his resignation. “And because I made a statistical observation, they think that’s racist.”

CNN noted that America First Policies, Higbie’s employer, has hosted a number of events that have been attended by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who is scheduled to attend another such event tonight where the staffer will reportedly be. The super PAC also used to employ Pence’s chief of staff before he took his job in the White House.

[Raw Story]

Mulvaney closes down consumer bureau office that polices racism in lending

The acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has stripped an office devoted to lending discrimination of its enforcement power, according to an email released Thursday.

Acting CFPB chief Mick Mulvaney told bureau staff in a Tuesday email that he would transfer the agency’s Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity to a department under his purview in an effort to streamline the agency.

Mulvaney said the fair lending office will focus on consumer education and advocacy under control of the office of the director. The bureau’s supervision, enforcement and fair lending division, a separate unit outside of the director’s office, will take over policing the lending market for racial discrimination.

“These changes are intended to help make the Bureau more efficient, effective, and accountable, and I plan to seek both internal and external input as I continue to evaluate how we work,” Mulvaney wrote, saying he didn’t expect layoffs from the move but also could not rule them out.

The decision enraged the CFPB’s progressive backers, who supported former Director Richard Cordray and his aggressive actions against lenders suspected of wrongdoing.

Cordray himself panned the “CFPB squatter leadership” for “interfering” with crucial bureau work.

“We took on tough cases about redlining and other violations,” Cordray tweeted. “Some don’t like it but it is the Law of the Land.”

Mulvaney and his staff insisted the restructuring is simply a matter of streamlining the CFPB while still cracking down on racial discrimination.

“It never made sense to have two separate and duplicative supervision and enforcement functions within the same agency — one for all cases except fair lending, and the other only for fair lending cases,” senior Mulvaney adviser John Czwartacki said in a statement. “By announcing our intent to combine these efforts under one roof, we gain efficiency and consistency without sacrificing effectiveness.”

Mulvaney, who as a GOP congressman opposed the CFPB’s existence, has sought to reshape the bureau from within.

The acting director has promised to make the bureau more responsive to the needs of the financial sector, reopened rules on payday loans and prepaid debit accounts, and called for firms subject to CFPB oversight to send complaints about the bureau’s investigative procedures.

Democrats and liberal political groups that fiercely defended the CFPB under Cordray argue that Mulvaney is destroying the agency and leaving vulnerable consumers without a powerful watchdog.

[The Hill]

Trump taunts Jay-Z about black unemployment

President Donald Trump mused about hip-hop icon Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter on Sunday morning, asking whether someone would inform him about the black unemployment rate.

“Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!” the president wrote on Twitter.

Jay-Z was interviewed on the debut episode of “The Van Jones Show” on CNN on Saturday night. Jones asked the rapper and business mogul whether Trump’s demeanor and actions, including Trump’s reported use of the word “shithole” in reference to African and other countries, were important given the state of the economy.

It’s “not about money at the end of the day,” Jay-Z told Jones. “Money is not — money doesn’t equate to happiness. It doesn’t. That’s missing the whole point. You treat people like human beings, then — that’s the main point.”

The president is correct in saying that black unemployment is at a record low. However, the decline began under former President Barack Obama, and the rate continues to be higher than overall employment, a disparity that has endured for decades.

When asked about the reported “shithole” comment, which came in the context of a discussion of U.S immigration policy, Jay-Z said it was “really hurtful.”

“Everyone feels anger. After the anger, it’s really hurtful because he’s like looking down on a whole population of people,” Jay-Z said. “You are so misinformed because these places have beautiful people and beautiful everything.”

Comparing Trump’s reported remarks to former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s private, racist comments in 2013, Jay-Z said, “That’s just how people talk behind close doors.” In a leaked tape published by TMZ.com, Sterling criticized his mistress for being out in public with black people, telling her “not to bring them to my games.”

The NBA stripped Sterling of his ownership and banned him from the league. Despite the harsh penalties, Jay-Z said Sterling’s punishment avoided tough conversations, which in his eyes, can lead to someone like Trump.

“You have sprayed perfume on the trash can. What you do, when you do that is the bugs come and you spray something, and you create a superbug because you don’t take care of the problem,” he said. “You don’t take the trash out, you keep spraying whatever over it to make it acceptable. As those things grow, you create a superbug.”

That superbug, Jay-Z said, now resides in the Oval Office.

“And then now we have Donald Trump, the superbug.”

[Politico]

Reality

Donald Trump and his allies keep bringing up the low black unemployment rate, as a sign that he isn’t racist.

The black unemployment rate has been steadily falling since 2010 when Barack Obama turned the economy around from one of the worst recessions this country has ever seen, caused by Republican policies of tax cuts and deregulation.

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