Trump’s first month of lies – video

with narration by , Source: Guardian/Reuters/Getty Images/CNN/Fox News

In his first month as president, Donald Trump made numerous false statements on subjects that ranged from the extremely petty – such as crowd sizes – to those of national and international significance. The Guardian examines his most egregious falsehoods and considers what to do about a serial liar in the White House,

Source: The Guardian news web site.

Trump cites non-existent terror attack

Donald Trump appeared to invent a terrorist attack in Sweden during a campaign-style rally in Florida on Saturday, inviting questions that he may have confused the Scandinavian country with a city in Pakistan.

With thousands of supporters gathered in an aircraft hangar in Melbourne, Florida, Trump used his speech to talk about migration in Europe and linked it to terror attacks in Brussels, Nice and Paris. He then added Sweden to the list, incorrectly stating that an attack had happened there on Friday. More fake news by Trump.

Trump told supporters: “We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden.”

“Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what’s happening in Brussels. You look at what’s happening all over the world. Take a look at Nice. Take a look at Paris.”

The source of Trump’s remark is unclear, but it came after Fox News aired an interview with film-maker Ami Horowitz, whose latest documentary examines whether high crime rates in areas of Sweden is linked to its previous open-door policy on people fleeing war and persecution.

According to the 2016 Swedish Crime Survey, crime rates in Sweden have stayed relatively stable over the last decade, with some fluctuations. In 2015, there were 112 cases of lethal violence in Sweden, an increase of 25 cases compared with 2014, but assaults, threats, sexual offences, car theft, burglary and harassment all reduced compared to the previous year – as did anxiety about crime in society.

Read more of this story on The Guardian news site here.

Why Trump’s travel ban didn’t include a 9/11 terrorist country

Donald Trump’s failed Muslim ban involved no countries with terrorist connections to 9/11. We now know why Trump failed to include in the Muslim ban one country with ties to the terrorist attack on 9/11. It begs the question of Trump and ethics.

I wrote in an earlier article that hijackers in the September 11 attacks were 19 men affiliated with al-Qaeda. Yet 15 of the 19 were citizens of Saudi Arabia, and the others were from the United Arab Emirates (2), Egypt and Lebanon.[1]

None of those countries were mentioned in Trump’s original attempt at a Muslim ban. We now know why one of those countries in particular, the United Arab Emerates, wasn’t mentioned in the travel ban.

Eric Trump (second from left) and Donald Trump Jr. (second from right) attended an an invitation-only ceremony Saturday to formally open the Trump International Golf Club in Dubai.

Eric Trump (second from left) and Donald Trump Jr. (second from right) attended an an invitation-only ceremony Saturday to formally open the Trump International Golf Club in Dubai.

Billionaire Hussain Sajwani’s DAMAC Properties partnered with the Trump Organization to build the golf course at the heart of a development of villas and apartment blocks called DAMAC Hills. Among them are some 100 Trump-branded villas selling from 5 million dirhams ($1.3 million) to over 15 million dirhams ($4 million).

Ties between the Trumps and Sajwani remain strong. One of the Trump Organization’s subsidiaries received from $1 million to $5 million from DAMAC for running the golf club, according to a U.S. Federal Election Committee report submitted in May.

Sajwani and his family also attended a New Year’s Eve celebration at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, where Trump referred to them as “the most beautiful people from Dubai.”

Trump days later told journalists that DAMAC had offered the Trump Organization $2 billion in deals after his election, something DAMAC also confirmed.

The Trump Organization has said it won’t make new foreign deals while its namesake is president. A previously planned Trump-branded golf course designed by Tiger Woods is still being built by DAMAC further down the road.

It would appear that $2 billion in deals after the election between Trump’s companies and a country with terrorist ties to 9/11 keeps you off any Muslim travel ban.

It would certainly would appear to go against Trump’s assertion of no new deals while he is president.

As Trump would say, “No problem I can see”. That’s the problem. Donald doesn’t see the chaos going on in the White House, doesn’t see the chaos his idiotic travel ban caused, and doesn’t see the problem with tweeting threats to foreign countries.

Trump chastised Obama and Clinton for notifying foreign powers in advance of any potential event like retaliation or military action. Now Trump is doing exactly the same thing on Twitter. If Trump does it then it’s okay. If anyone else does it, then it’s bad.

Read more in ABCnews article here.

 

Trump’s own White House Shopping Channel

Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

Weekend’s at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago, membership formerly $100,000/year but now $200,000 and perhaps $300,000 next year, Trump charging Secret Service millions for rooms in Trump Tower in New York or other Trump owned properties, staff promoting Trump products, Trump tweeting about Nordstrom dropping his daughters line because of poor sales, these are just a few of the examples of Donald Trump using the White House as his personal Shopping Channel.

The blatanly obvious promotions by Trump during his presidency should worry everyone who thought Trump would form an honest and ethical government. But another, more odious connection is between Trump interests and foreign powers.

As long as Trump continues to profit from his business empire — which he does whether or not he is nominally in charge — the possibility that outside actors will attempt to affect his policies by plumping up his pocketbook will remain very much in play.

Take the Mar-A-Lago as an example. Trump doubles membership fees once he is president, then decides he will spend his weekends there. Trump didn’t personally benefit, but his properties did. If you were a foreign power wouldn’t you want to purchase a few memberships for the opportunity to be close to the President and have the opportunity for a ‘chat’.

Let’s face it, after Trumps disastrous TV appearance this week and his equally disastrous Mar-A-Lago national security blunder with diners popping away with cameras everything Trump was reading and signing, you have to admit Trump isn’t the sharpest pencil in the pack.

Notably, the Trump Organization simply cannot turn over to the US treasury all profit from interactions with foreign powers. For example, consider the significant benefit conferred by a foreign state that decides to host a series of widely advertised functions at a local Trump hotel, greatly increasing the property’s cultural cachet and thus markedly boosting its profit margins and those of other properties branded “Trump”.

For these and other reasons, Trump will remain in violation of the emoluments clause even if he adheres to any plan he offers government. While his lawyer denied that the clause applies to “fair value exchanges” – presumably as distinguished from sweetheart deals – that conclusion defies common sense.

Why should an otherwise forbidden foreign payment to the president be allowed, but only if the president gives that foreign government its money’s worth in services, advancing interests that may be contrary to the U.S.’s own?

This week, some of Trump’s critics moved forward with legal action. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, filed a lawsuit alleging that Trump’s business holdings violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which makes it illegal for government officials to “accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” CREW’s bipartisan legal team includes, among others, Norm Eisen and Richard Painter, who served as ethics lawyers under Presidents Obama and George W. Bush, respectively; Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University; and Zephyr Teachout, a professor at Fordham University (and former congressional candidate) who is considered an authority on the Emoluments Clause. All have been vocally critical of Trump’s continued refusal to sell off his business, and are now taking their case to court to argue that several of Trump’s businesses present avenues by which foreign governments could seek to influence the president by, for example, booking stays at one of his hotels or renting space at one of his properties. Additionally, the lawsuit seeks to force Trump to reveal his tax returns, something every president has done since Gerald Ford but which Trump has refused to do, significantly limiting the public’s ability to understand the president’s finances. When asked about the lawsuit, Trump described it as “totally without merit.” Eisen was quick to respond on Twitter, offering to “debate Trump (or his chosen champion) on the merits of our case anytime,” making it clear that CREW intends to continue to pursue its case. (CREW has also filed a separate complaint to the General Services Administration arguing that Trump has violated the lease on his Washington, D.C. hotel, which states that “no … elected official of the Government of the United States … shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.”)

Trump has appointed officials which may turn a blind eye to such lawsuits merely because the lawsuits are vexing.

Read more here.

The Trump Train Tragedy

Watching Donald Trump’s freak show of a press conference, it’s painfully clear that we have all made a terrible mistake.

For the last several months we all thought we were watching the presidential version of Celebrity Apprentice. Trump was going to walk into our living rooms, fire somebody at random, and then happily walk out.

In fact, we have our shows all mixed up. This is actually a very long season of The Office, with our new president playing the role of a self-obsessed buffoon who clearly thinks he’s smart, funny, kind and successful.

Trump is the boss we all know so well, and never want to see again. The one winging it at every turn, in every sentence. The one who just read something, or talked to somebody, and is now an Olympic-sized expert.

“I have been briefed,” he declared, as he explained what passes for his poodle-like policy towards Vladimir Putin.

“And I can tell you one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say, because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it: Nuclear holocaust would be like no other. They’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are we. If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.”

Coming from the mouth of Ricky Gervais or Steve Carell, this might be rather funny. But as we know from the guests at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump travels with military aides who carry real nuclear codes.

It’s great that he’s reading the most basic books about that nuclear holocaust. Who knew it could be so awful to obliterate the planet?

He’s also been reading about uranium, which is cool. It’s best if he explains this one in his own words: “You know what uranium is, right? This thing called nuclear weapons, like lots of things are done with uranium, including some bad things.”

But enough with all the briefings about bad things. Let’s get to the important stuff that President Trump wanted to tell us.

In theory, the press conference was called to reveal the name of the all-important Labor Secretary, whose identity will only get recalled on Jeopardy. He’s replacing the guy who quit after a reporter dug up the video tape of his ex-wife on Oprah. Talk about a bad hombre.

But all that was just a bait-and-switch for the real subject of Trump’s obsession: himself. In painful detail, the president took the trouble to explain his thought process in real time, as problems bubble up to the thing that sits under his combover.

Most White House reporters and presidential historians long for this kind of insight: how does a commander-in-chief deal with a crisis? What is his decision-making approach to all the world’s challenges?

Sadly in Trump’s case, it turns out the answers are astonishingly simple.

Let’s consider the first big test of Trump’s management of this branch office of the paper company: the strange firing of General Mike Flynn, formerly one of his closest and craziest advisers, handling bad things like uranium.

“As far as the general’s concerned, when I first heard about it, I said huh, that doesn’t sound wrong. My counsel came, Don McGahn, White House counsel, and he told me and I asked him, he can speak very well for himself. He said he doesn’t think anything is wrong, you know, really didn’t think.”

So now we have two people in the Oval Office who think, kind of: huh, nothing wrong with talking to the Russians and lying about it.

But let’s hear more from the 45th president: “I waited a period of time and I started to think about it, I said “well I don’t see” — to me, he was doing the job.”

So even after a period of reflection, Trump still couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. (Note to the nervous: good to know he waits before he acts.)

Read the complete article on The Guardian newspaper web site.

How Donald Trump became Deutsche Bank’s biggest headache

 Since Trump’s election, Deutsche has fielded numerous calls from the media on a possible financial trail to Moscow. Photograph: Pool/Getty Images


Since Trump’s election, Deutsche has fielded numerous calls from the media on a possible financial trail to Moscow. Photograph: Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump has become a big headache for Deutsche Bank. Here’s how.

The language was scathing, the tone sarcastic. “[Donald] Trump proclaims himself the archetypal businessman, a deal-maker without peer,” the memo said.

It mentioned Trump’s boast that he was worth “billions of dollars”. And it listed his interests in “numerous extraordinary properties” across the world, from New York to Panama, not to mention his latest golf course in Scotland.

Another document noted: “Trump is no stranger to overdue debt.”

The angry memos were written by lawyers acting on behalf of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest lender, which was suing the billionaire.

It was November 2008. Three-and-a-half years earlier the bank had loaned Trump the cash to build one of his grandest projects yet: a hotel and mega-tower in Chicago.

Trump had given his personal guarantee he would repay the $640m. As per agreement, he was now due to hand over a large chunk, $40m.

There was only one problem: the future 45th president of the United States was refusing to pay up. Deutsche initiated legal action. Trump responded with a blistering, scarcely credible writ of his own, a 10-count complaint in New York’s supreme court, in the county of Queens.

In it, Trump adopted a highly unusual defence, known as “force majeure”. He claimed that the 2008 economic crisis was a “once-in-a-century credit tsunami”, an act of God that was equivalent to an earthquake.

Since it couldn’t have been anticipated, and it wasn’t his fault, he wasn’t obliged to pay Deutsche anything. It wouldn’t get the $40m or the outstanding $330m, his writ said.

He went further. Trump claimed Deutsche Bank had actually helped cause the crunch. Therefore it owed him. Trump demanded $3bn from Deutsche in compensation.

Its New York property division first loaned money to him in 1998 at a time when the bank was attempting to expand its commercial real estate portfolio. By that stage, other major banks were becoming cautious about Trump, in part, the Wall Street Journal has said, because of frustration with his business practices.

A decade later, Deutsche was to find out for itself quite how capricious and unpredictable he could be.

Then came Trump’s Scottish golf course venture.

It was what happened next that strikes many in the banking world as unusual – bizarre, even. In 2005 Trump had borrowed money from Deutsche’s commercial real estate division. In 2010 the parties settled their legal differences.

But rather than walking away, the bank’s private wealth division then resumed lending to Trump, the troublesome four-times bankrupt client who had defaulted on a major loan.

Why? It’s unclear what assurances Trump offered. He had given his word before, only to break it.

Deutsche has refused to discuss its lending arrangements to the first family. Its clients also include Trump’s daughter Ivanka, her husband, Jared Kushner, and Kushner’s mother, Seryl Stadtmauer.

Kushner is a senior White House adviser. Just before the US election Deutsche refinanced $370m he owes against commercial property in Manhattan belonging to Kushner’s company.

Sources inside Deutsche say the investment banking side of the business is entirely separate from the private bank that handles the Trumps. Personal relationships also play an important role in private banking.

Even so, banking experts have told the Guardian it is unusual for a private bank to take on such loans, and unbelievable that a bank would continue to deal with a man who had refused to pay his debt, and then countersued using force majeure.

One former Deutsche employee, based in New York, said: “Real estate refused to deal with him [Trump]. Only the private bank is willing to accept personal guarantees.”

Joe Crowley, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, said: “President Trump’s web of global financial entanglements are of serious concern. When a foreign-owned bank that is under investigation by the Department of Justice holds hundreds of millions in personally-guaranteed debt for the president, that is problematic for ethical, diplomatic, and judicial reasons. This is why we must know more about all of Donald Trump’s business ties.”

Crowley also said he wanted the president to release his elusive tax returns.

Deutsche has not explained why it continued to bankroll Trump and his real estate deals. Even before the 2008 legal dispute, Trump’s chequered business record was infamous. Other financial houses in New York refused to give him credit, following a string of failed ventures including an airline and a casino empire in Atlantic City.

Bloomberg reported that Deutsche was now trying to restructure Trump’s $300m debt, which is guaranteed by four of his properties. The difficulty is obvious: conflict of interest. The president owes the bank money. At the same time the Trump administration and its Department of Justice is investigating Deutsche over its Russian money laundering scheme.

According to an analysis by Bloomberg, Trump now owes Deutsche around $300m. He has four large mortgages, all issued by Deutsche’s private bank. The loans are guaranteed against the president’s properties: a new deluxe hotel in Washington DC’s old Post Office building, just round the corner from the White House; his Chicago tower hotel; and the Trump National Doral Miami resort.

Trump and his businesses have a long history with the German bank, which this month posted its latest net loss, of €1.4bn. It has been the only financial institution willing to lend Trump significant sums. In the 1990s other Wall Street banks, which had previously extended him credit, turned off the tap after Trump’s businesses declared bankruptcy four times.

Trump remains the bank’s most high-profile client. He is also, increasingly, its biggest PR headache.

Read more on The Guardian newspaper here and here.

 

Trump to tighten grip on Intelligence agencies following ‘leaks’.

 Stephen A. Feinberg, right, a founder of Cerberus Capital Management, at the Capitol in December 2008. He is said to be in talks for a White House role examining the country’s intelligence agencies. Credit Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times


Stephen A. Feinberg, right, a founder of Cerberus Capital Management, at the Capitol in December 2008. He is said to be in talks for a White House role examining the country’s intelligence agencies. Credit Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times

President Trump plans to assign a New York billionaire to lead a broad review of American intelligence agencies, according to administration officials, an effort that members of the intelligence community fear could curtail their independence and reduce the flow of information that contradicts the president’s worldview.

The possible role for Stephen A. Feinberg, a co-founder of Cerberus Capital Management, has met fierce resistance among intelligence officials already on edge because of the criticism the intelligence community has received from Mr. Trump during the campaign and since he became president. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump blamed leaks from the intelligence community for the departure of Michael T. Flynn, his national security adviser, whose resignation he requested.

There has been no announcement of Mr. Feinberg’s job, which would be based in the White House, but he recently told his company’s shareholders that he is in discussions to join the Trump administration. He is a member of Mr. Trump’s economic advisory council.

Mr. Feinberg, who has close ties to Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, declined to comment on his possible position. The White House, which is still working out the details of the intelligence review, also would not comment.

Mr. Bannon and Mr. Kushner, according to current and former intelligence officials and Republican lawmakers, had at one point considered Mr. Feinberg for either director of national intelligence or chief of the Central Intelligence Agency’s clandestine service, a role that is normally reserved for career intelligence officers, not friends of the president. Mr. Feinberg’s only experience with national security matters is his firm’s stakes in a private security company and two gun makers.

On an array of issues — including the Iran nuclear deal, the utility of NATO, and how best to combat Islamist militancy — much of the information and analysis produced by American intelligence agencies contradicts the policy positions of the new administration. The divide is starkest when it comes to Russia and President Vladimir V. Putin, whom Mr. Trump has repeatedly praised while dismissing American intelligence assessments that Moscow sought to promote his own candidacy.

The last time an outsider with no intelligence experience took the job was in the early days of the Reagan administration, when Max Hugel, a businessman who had worked on Mr. Reagan’s campaign, was named to run the spy service. His tenure at the C.I.A. was marked by turmoil and questions about the politicization of the agency. He was forced to resign after six months, amid accusations about his past business dealings. (He later won a libel case against the two brothers who made the accusations.)

Even the prospect that Mr. Feinberg may lead a review for the White House has raised concerns in the intelligence community.

Against this backdrop, Mr. Trump has appointed Mike Pompeo, a former Republican congressman from Kansas, to run the C.I.A., and former Senator Dan Coats, an Indiana Republican, to be the director of national intelligence (he is still awaiting confirmation). Both were the preferred choices of the Republican congressional leadership and Vice President Mike Pence and had no close or longstanding ties to Mr. Trump. In fact, they each endorsed Senator Marco Rubio of Florida for president during the 2016 Republican primaries.

Mr. Coats is especially angry at what he sees as a move by Mr. Bannon and Mr. Kushner to sideline him before he is even confirmed, according to current and former officials. He believes the review would impinge on a central part of his role as the director of national intelligence and fears that if Mr. Feinberg were working at the White House, he could quickly become a dominant voice on intelligence matters.

Read more at the New York Times and The Guardian.