Trump personally crafted son’s misleading account of Russia meeting – report

In the release, the Russia meeting was framed as a discussion about the adoption of Russian children ‘that was not a campaign issue at the time’. Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

President Trump personally dictated the press statement issued in the name of his eldest son that misleadingly downplayed the significance of a 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer, a new report alleged on Monday night.

According to the Washington Post, Trump personally intervened to prevent senior White House advisers from issuing a full and truthful account of the meeting on 9 June 2016 in which Donald Trump Jr, the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and then presidential campaign manager Paul Manafort came face-to-face with four Russians. One of the Russian visitors was the well-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

The report, based on multiple though largely anonymous sources that included the president’s own advisers, has the potential to cause political, and even legal, trouble for the White House because it draws Trump himself much closer into the fray over the Trump Tower meeting, which has become a lightning rod in the Russian affair.

Shunning the guidance of lawyers, and overturning the view apparently reached by Kushner and his team of advisers that a full and frank accounting should be made, Trump reportedly dictated a statement on board Air Force One as he was flying back to Washington from the G20 summit in Germany. As would soon become apparent, it gave a very partial and distorted account of events.

The Trump Tower meeting has proved to be one of the most toxic pieces of information to emerge so far in the billowing investigation into possible ties between Trump associates and Russia in the Kremlin’s efforts to skew the presidential outcome in favor of the Republican nominee. The special counsel leading the investigation, Robert Mueller, is understood to be looking closely at the event and has reportedly asked the White House to preserve all documents relating to it.

The new details of the president’s role in what turned out to be a major communications fiasco come on the day that his current communications chief, Anthony Scaramucci, was dismissed from the White House after barely 11 days. The blunt removal was made on the first day of the new White House chief of staff, John Kelly, who has vowed to introduce the kind of discipline that the West Wing has been sorely lacking.

The day began shortly before 5.30am with Trump tweeting “No WH chaos!” and ended with him saying: “A great day at the White House”. But as the Washington Post’s forensic deconstruction of the framing of the Trump Tower meeting shows, the president himself has the capacity to destroy even the best-laid plans, underlining the task now facing his new chief of staff.

According to the Post, senior White House officials together with the circle around Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, had spent days rehearsing various ways to address the Trump Tower meeting publicly.

Kushner’s team was reported to have decided that it was better to “err on the side of transparency” because the whole truth would eventually come out.

President Trump, however, appeared to have seen things differently.

Read the complete story on The Guardian newspaper web site.

 

Donald Trump Jr called ‘a disgrace’ for tweet goading London mayor

Donald Trump Jr: ‘You have to be kidding me?!’ Photograph: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

Donald Trump Jr is facing a backlash for criticizing London mayor Sadiq Khan with a scornful tweet sent hours after an attack at the Houses of Parliament left five dead, including a police officer.

The US president’s eldest son tweeted a link to a September 2016 story in the Independent, which quoted Khan saying terror attacks were “part and parcel of living in a big city”, and “I want to be reassured that every single agency and individual involved in protecting our city has the resources and expertise they need to respond in the event that London is attacked.”

“You have to be kidding me?!” Trump Jr tweeted, quoting the headline: “Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan”.

Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr)

You have to be kidding me?!: Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan https://t.co/uSm2pwRTjO

March 22, 2017

It’s unclear if the president’s son read the article or understood that the quote was from six months ago and not a response to the Wednesday attack, which police are treating as a terrorist incident.

This is not the first time Trump Jr has gotten into trouble for his tweets. In September, he compared Syrian refugees to poisoned Skittles, prompting widespread backlash. He also faced criticisms for sharing a white supremacist meme.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But later on Wednesday Trump Jr wrote in an email to the New York Times: “I’m not going to comment on every tweet I send.”

 

Vancouver’s Trump tower residents vote to increase insurance coverage for terrorism

 The Trump International Hotel and Tower is seen in Vancouver on Jan. 20. As the latest Trump hotel gears up for its official opening in Vancouver on Tuesday, some experts say the wealthy businessman's hospitality brand is taking a hit thanks to his unconventional and polarizing behaviour as president of the U.S. DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS


The Trump International Hotel and Tower is seen in Vancouver on Jan. 20. As the latest Trump hotel gears up for its official opening in Vancouver on Tuesday, some experts say the wealthy businessman’s hospitality brand is taking a hit thanks to his unconventional and polarizing behaviour as president of the U.S. DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS

In the weeks leading to the opening of the Trump Hotel, residents of the 69-storey tower voted to increase insurance coverage for terrorism in light of local and global events.

The vote, detailed in strata minutes obtained by Postmedia, speaks to the enduring controversy Trump brand continues to attack and comes as authorities here brace for a long day of protests as the hotel marks its grand opening.

According to strata minutes from a meeting held Jan. 17, 2017, residents were told of plans to upgrade the building’s insurance coverage to reflect “concerns surrounding recent local and world events.”

“It has been confirmed that the Hotel ownership will be undertaking to acquire the additional coverage, including Terrorism to the full value of their air space parcel (ASP),” the strata minutes read.

“Discussion ensued with the Owners present, particularly the review of the costs for coverage estimated at an upper rate of $40,000/year for the residences. It was ultimately approved.”

Trump brothers will travel in cocoon of U.S. Secret Service during Vancouver visit

When Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump arrive Tuesday to open Vancouver’s Trump International Hotel and Tower, their entourage will be bigger than just their assistants and business associates.

As presidential progeny, they travel in a cocoon of protection courtesy of a U.S. Secret Service detail, which will be backed up by a perimeter of security provided by the RCMP and Vancouver police, the cost of which will fall on the public — both American and Canadian.

“We don’t pay for the Secret Service, that would be the Americans,” said Andre Gerolymatos, co-director of the Terrorism, Risk & Security Studies Program at Simon Fraser University.

However, when it comes to added costs, such as overtime for the RCMP — which is responsible for the security of so-called internationally protected persons — or Vancouver police, “we do,” Gerolymatos said.

The Trump family has come under criticism over the cost of providing security for their high-profile, jet-setting lifestyle — including a business trips to Uruguay, where Eric Trump ran up an $88,000 hotel bill with his Secret Service detail, according to a report in the Washington Post.

For the Trump’s Vancouver visit, authorities involved declined to answer questions about protocols for arranging security and how responsibilities are delegated.

“Anybody with the name Trump, or related to Trump, is high risk right now because of what Trump is doing,” Gerolymatos said.

Trump brand under scrutiny as Vancouver hotel holds grand opening

As the latest Trump hotel gears up for its official opening in Vancouver on Tuesday, some experts are expressing doubts about the fate of the newest addition to the city’s skyline thanks to wealthy businessman Donald Trump’s polarizing behaviour as president of the U.S.

Simon Fraser University’s Lindsay Meredith predicts Trump’s actions, which include a foiled executive order to ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority nations as well as lewd comments about women that surfaced during the presidential campaign, will take a toll on the bottom line of his luxury hotel brand.

“We know it takes a long time to build brand awareness and brand value, and we know you can blow it away in seconds flat if you’re not careful,” Meredith, who teaches marketing at the Vancouver-area university, said Monday. “Any CEO better give his head a shake if he thinks he can get away with doing or saying absolutely anything and that there’s not going to be repercussions for either the corporation or the many brands that it encompasses.”

Meredith explained how powerful a hotel’s reputation can be, regardless of how well it’s run, especially when serving an extremely affluent clientele, which he described as “the 0.1 per cent.” He likened the business of catering to the ultra rich as an intricate dance, where the slightest misstep could mean disaster.

“You can’t afford to have errors when you’re dealing on this really, really high-end market. All the pieces have got to work well. You can’t just have an outstanding hotel. It’s got to have a crystal-clean image as well,” he said.

“Any bad service — it doesn’t matter whether it’s the parking valet, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the reservation — any one little piece when you’re dealing with the very, very high end basically becomes an intolerable screw-up.”

Fellow SFU business Prof. Steven Kates offered a different opinion, speculating that the Trump brand wouldn’t suffer thanks to the ambivalence of the hotel’s target market or even their outright support.

“I don’t think the effect on the Trump brand will be all that profound, unless there’s a major scandal and people actually turn against him,” Kates said. “And considering what he’s done in the past, that’s not happened, so in the future it’s hard to imagine a scenario under which he would lose his broad base of support.”

June Cotte, a marketing professor at Western University’s Ivey Business School in London, Ont., said that while the greater public may not be able to afford to stay at a Trump hotel, they can still have a powerful impact on the enterprise.

“The high-end, exclusive clientele does not necessarily want to deal with protests and demonstrations and police presence, etc. They’re usually looking for a discreet, high-end experience,” Cotte said. “If I’m going to choose between another luxury brand, like a Four Seasons, for example, and a Trump brand, why wouldn’t I choose the one that does not have riot police in front of the property?”

In terms of reversing a negative image, Cotte said undoing damage is especially challenging when the brand is attached to a particular person, as is the case with Trump. She pointed to Martha Stewart as another example, citing the lifestyle guru’s fall from grace following a conviction for insider trading, and the painstaking effort to rebuild that.

“Given the level of public interest in (Trump) right now, I don’t think that would be easy,” Cotte added. “I think people would label a rebranding effort as sort of a sham.”

Protecting Trump costs 8 times more than Obama

Schumer says it costs $500,000 per day for nearly 200 police officers to protect Trump Tower. Photograph: Derek R Henkle/AFP/Getty Images

Schumer says it costs $500,000 per day for nearly 200 police officers to protect Trump Tower. Photograph: Derek R Henkle/AFP/Getty Images

New York Senator Chuck Schumer has ramped up pressure on Donald Trump and the federal government to accept the mounting costs of protecting the president, the first family and their extended entourage.

Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, inserted himself into the debate on Sunday, saying it costs $500,000 per day for nearly 200 police officers to protect Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, which houses the Trump family business headquarters and serves as the home of the first lady, Melania Trump, and the couple’s son, Barron. The senator estimated the cost could rise to as much as $183m annually.

At current estimates, even a four-year Trump administration could be heading for a billion dollars in taxpayer-borne costs – an eight-fold increase of the $97m Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, estimates it cost to protect Barack Obama over the two terms of his administration.

The estimated costs of guarding Trump Tower have varied from $1m a day (during daily protests before the inauguration) to around $100,000 for the first lady and Barron, 10, who are staying in New York until at least the end of the school year.

Schumer urged Trump to include the costs in the federal budget, noting that New York City has only been reimbursed $7m of $35m requested for the cost of protecting the tower for the period between election day and the Inauguration.

“It’s simply unfair to have New York City taxpayers alone bear the burden of NYPD protection at Trump Tower. President Trump: this is your protection, so I challenge you to put these costs in your upcoming federal budget and make a commitment to reimburse New York City,” Schumer said during a press briefing at his Manhattan office.

In contrast, the cost of protecting former president Obama during his four trips to the city last year came to just $4.1m. The costs of protecting the Obama family home in Chicago over the same pre-inauguration period in his presidency was estimated at $2.2m.

Senator Schumer’s comments come as the full costs of protecting the first family in the lifestyle that it is accustomed are only just starting to be understood.

Last week, officials in Palm Beach said the cost of hosting the president at his Mar-a-Lago estate amounted to $60,000 a day for police overtime.

Trump stayed at Mar-a-Lago for nearly 16 days, from 16 December to 1 January as president-elect, and has visited his private resort home on three consecutive weekends this month, driving up the costs to an estimated half-million dollars.

Kirk Blouin, the town’s director of public safety, told the Sun-Sentinel that the municipality was “overwhelmed”.

Trump’s frequent trips to his self-styled Winter White House in Florida are burdening local businesses. While Air Force One lands at Palm Beach, Lantana, the small airport near Mar-a-Lago, is closed for business during the president’s trips. A banner-flying company operating from there told the Chicago Tribune it has lost more than $40,000 in contracts.

Schumer said he would cooperate with Palm Peach counties in trying to claw back the costs, adding that the cost of protecting the president in Florida was “an additional and unusual expense”.

“We have not had a president with an auxiliary White House,” he added.

Additional costs are also mounting for protecting the Trump children in their daily lives and on their frequent business trips abroad.

Last week, Eric Trump and his brother, Donald Trump Jr, traveled to Dubai to open a Trump-branded golf course. Estimates compiled by the Washington Post, put the cost of Secret Service hotel bills alone in excess of $16,000. Meanwhile, Eric Trump’s trip to visit a Trump-brand condo tower in Uruguay cost an estimated $100,000 in hotel bills.

Read the complete article on The Guardian newspaper web site.