Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

Trump Inauguration Spending Under Criminal Investigation by Federal Prosecutors

December 14, 2018

Probe looking into whether committee misspent funds and top donors gave money in exchange for access to the administration

Image result for donald trump, inauguration, photos
Christopher Morris—VII for TIME
President Trump delivered his inaugural address at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2017.
President Trump delivered his inaugural address at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2017. PHOTO: ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES
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Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee misspent some of the record $107 million it raised from donations, people familiar with the matter said.

The criminal probe by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, which is in its early stages, also is examining whether some of the committee’s top donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions or to influence official administration positions, some of the people said.

Giving money in exchange for political favors could run afoul of federal corruption laws. Diverting funds from the organization, which was registered as a nonprofit, could also violate federal law.

The investigation represents another potential legal threat to people who are or were in Mr. Trump’s orbit. Their business dealings and activities during and since the campaign have led to a number of indictments and guilty pleas. Many of the president’s biggest campaign backers were involved in the inaugural fund.

The investigation partly arises out of materials seized in the federal probe of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s business dealings, according to people familiar with the matter.

In April raids of Mr. Cohen’s home, office and hotel room, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents obtained a recorded conversation between Mr. Cohen and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump, who worked on the inaugural events. In the recording, Ms. Wolkoff expressed concern about how the inaugural committee was spending money, according to a person familiar with the Cohen investigation.

The Wall Street Journal couldn’t determine when the conversation between Mr. Cohen and Ms. Wolkoff took place, or why it was recorded. The recording is now in the hands of federal prosecutors in Manhattan, a person familiar with the matter said.

The inaugural committee hasn’t been asked for records or been contacted by prosecutors, according to a lawyer close to the matter, who said: “We are not aware of any evidence the investigation the Journal is reporting actually exists.”

The inaugural committee has publicly identified vendors accounting for $61 million of the $103 million it spent, and it hasn’t provided details on those expenses, according to tax filings. As a nonprofit organization, the fund is only required to make public its top five vendors.

Money RaisedPrivate funds raised by each of the last fiveinaugural committeesSource: Federal Election Commission
Trump(2017)Obama(2013)Obama(2009)Bush (2005)Bush (2001)$0 million$50$100$150

The committee raised more than double what former President Barack Obama’s first inaugural fund reported raising in 2009, the previous record. President Trump’s funds came largely from wealthy donors and corporations who gave $1 million or more—including casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, AT&T Inc. andBoeing Co. , according to Federal Election Commission filings. There is no sign that those three donors are under investigation.

Federal prosecutors have asked Richard Gates, a former campaign aide who served as the inaugural committee’s deputy chairman, about the fund’s spending and its donors, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Gates has met with prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office and special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.

Mr. Gates, who served as deputy in the inaugural fund, in February pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the U.S. involving foreign political consulting work unrelated to the campaign. The case was brought by Mr. Mueller’s office. Mr. Gates agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department in ongoing investigations.

The committee was headed by Thomas Barrack Jr., a real-estate developer and longtime friend of Mr. Trump. There is no sign the investigation is targeting Mr. Barrack, and he hasn’t been approached by investigators since he was interviewed by the special counsel’s office last year, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Mueller’s investigators,who are probing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, asked Mr. Barrack only a handful of questions about the inaugural fund, the person said.

Mr. Mueller has also probed whether any foreign money flowed to the inaugural fund, which is prohibited from accepting foreign funds. In August, the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, on a referral from Mr. Mueller, obtained a guilty plea from a Washington consultant who admitted he used a U.S. citizen to serve as a “straw purchaser” so that a “prominent Ukraine oligarch” could attend the inauguration. The names were never disclosed.

Manhattan federal prosecutors in recent months asked Tennessee developer Franklin L. Haney for documents related to a $1 million donation he made to Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee in December 2016, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Haney in early April hired Mr. Cohen, at the time serving as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, to help obtain a $5 billion loan from the Energy Department for a nuclear-power project, the Journal has previously reported. Mr. Haney was asked for documents related to his correspondence with members of the committee, meeting calendars and paperwork for the donation, the person said. A loan application by Mr. Haney’s company is still pending at the Energy Department.

A lawyer for Mr. Haney didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment on the investigation. A lawyer for Mr. Cohen didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Since pleading guilty to federal crimes in August, Mr. Cohen has been cooperating with federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the special counsel’s office. He was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison.

According to the inaugural fund’s tax filings, the committee’s top-paid vendor was an event-production firm led by Ms. Wolkoff called WIS Media Partners. The company, which California corporate records show was formed 45 days before the inauguration, was paid $25.8 million, the largest sum paid to a vendor.

Ms. Wolkoff is a former unpaid adviser to Mrs. Trump who also helped produce events surrounding the inauguration. Ms. Wolkoff and several partners were paid about $1.6 million of the $25.8 million, and the remainder went to subcontractors, a person familiar with Ms. Wolkoff’s work said.

It couldn’t be determined which expenses are the focus of scrutiny by federal prosecutors. The committee said in its tax documents that it spent $77 million on conferences, conventions and meetings, plus $4 million on ticketing, $9 million on travel, $4.5 million on salaries and wages, and other expenses. Mr. Barrack has said that an external audit was completed of the inaugural committee’s finances, but the organization has declined to make that audit available.

The January 2017 inaugural events included a celebration concert at the Lincoln Memorial, receptions, private meals and inaugural balls.

People involved in Mr. Trump’s inaugural have attributed some of the costs to the last-minute nature of the planning. Few expected Mr. Trump to win the 2016 election, leaving his camp scrambling to arrange events for the inaugural, with little time to bid for competitive contracts, they said.

Write to Rebecca Davis O’Brien at Rebecca.OBrien@wsj.com, Rebecca Ballhaus at Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com and Aruna Viswanatha at Aruna.Viswanatha@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-inauguration-spending-under-criminal-investigation-by-federal-prosecutors-11544736455

Appeared in the December 14, 2018, print edition as ‘Trump Inaugural Spending Is Probed.’

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Trump met with Chris Christie to discuss chief of staff job

December 14, 2018

Chris Christie is a top contender for the White House chief of staff job, according to a new report.

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President Trump met with the former New Jersey governor Thursday as he weighs who will replace John Kelly, Axios reported.

“He’s tough; he’s an attorney; he’s politically-savvy, and one of Trump’s early supporters,” a source familiar with Trump’s thinking told the news outlet.

Trump told reporters Thursday he had five people he was considering for Kelly’s replacement. Kelly is expected to depart at the end of the year after 18 months in the role.

Image result for Chris Christie, photos, donald trump

The Huffington Post reported the president’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner was also in the running. Other news outlets reported that Kushner is not under consideration.

© Photo: Mark Wilson, Getty Images/ AFP

Christie and Kushner have had a fraught relationship. Christie, who was previously U.S. attorney for New Jersey, sent Kushner’s father, Charles, to federal prison in 2005 for tax evasion, witness tampering, and making illegal campaign donations.

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https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/trump-met-with-chris-christie-to-discuss-chief-of-staff-job

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Related:

© Win McNamee, Getty Images/AFP | Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie attend the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York.

See also:

PHOTOS: Chris Christie, family soak up sun on N.J. beach he closed to public

https://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/07/christie_pictured_at_island_beach_state_park_durin.html

NYT:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/03/nyregion/chris-christie-beach-new-jersey-budget.html

Trump Vows Consequences for GM, Says China Car Tariffs Too High

December 13, 2018

President Donald Trump reaffirmed his promise to punish General Motors Co. for plans to close an auto factory in the electoral battleground of Ohio and said China’s plan to lower tariffs on U.S. cars to 15 percent doesn’t go far enough.

“General Motors is not going to be treated well,” Trump said in a Fox News interview Thursday. He said GM chief executive Mary Barra was “nasty” to announce the factory-closing plan shortly before the holidays.

“I don’t like what she did, I think it was nasty,” Trump said. “It doesn’t really matter because Ohio is under my leadership from a national standpoint. Ohio is going to replace those jobs in like two minutes.”

Image result for GM, Lordstown, factory, pictures

GM announced in November it planned to cut more than 14,000 jobs and close seven factories worldwide, including one in Lordstown, Ohio, that produces the Chevrolet Cruze. The announcement drew immediate criticism from Trump and he later said he would seek to block any federal subsidies the carmaker receives.

Trump also said he would seek further reductions in the tariff China charges on U.S.-made automobiles.

“It’s not acceptable, 15 is still too high,” Trump said.

proposal to reduce tariffs on cars made in the U.S. to 15 percent from the current 40 percent — bringing the U.S. back in line with what other countries pay — has been submitted to China’s Cabinet for review, according to people familiar with the matter.

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Trump blasts General Motors for move toward electric vehicles

December 13, 2018

President Trump said Thursday that car companies should not switch wholly to making electric vehicles while arguing U.S. job loses in the industry are “not acceptable” and that France is “burning down” because of clean-energy policies.

Trump, during an interview with Fox News, blasted looming General Motors job cuts in the Midwest and mentioned ongoing fuel-tax protests in France.

Image result for Chevy Volt, assembly line, photos

“They are changing the whole model of General Motors. They going to all electric. That’s not going to work,” Trump said. “I don’t run a car company, but all electric isn’t going to work.”

“It’s wonderful to have it as a percentage of your cars,” he continued, “but to tell me a couple weeks before Christmas that [GM is] going to close in Ohio and Michigan? Not acceptable to me.”

In the same interview, Trump said the international Paris climate accord, from which he withdrew the U.S., “is not working out too well for Paris.

“That whole country is burning down. I was the one who kept us out of the Paris accord. If I was in the Paris accord, we would be paying trillions of dollars. Trillions of dollars for nothing,” he said.

[Read more: Trump’s GM threats put electric vehicles at risk]

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Committee to Protect Journalists: 251 journalists have been jailed around the world in 2018

December 13, 2018

The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 251 journalists have been jailed around the world in 2018.

This number, CPJ says, “[suggests] the authoritarian approach to critical news coverage is more than a temporary spike. China, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia imprisoned more journalists than last year, and Turkey remained the world’s worst jailer.”

“The majority of those imprisoned globally—70 percent—are facing anti-state charges such as belonging to or aiding groups deemed by authorities as terrorist organizations,” CPJ also says.

“The number imprisoned on charges of false news rose to 28 globally, compared with nine just two years ago. Egypt jailed the most journalists on false news charges with 19, followed by Cameroon with four, Rwanda with three, and one each in China and Morocco. The increase comes amid heightened global rhetoric about ‘fake news,’ of which US President Donald Trump is the leading voice.”

December 8, 2018

A Myanmar court will hear the appeal later this month of two Reuters journalists jailed for their reporting on the Rohingya crisis, a lawyer said Saturday.

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were found guilty under a state secrets act in September after exposing the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya men during a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state last year.

The pair — who have been held behind bars for nearly a year since their arrest last December — were sentenced to seven years in jail, a verdict that drew widespread condemnation, including from US Vice President Mike Pence. — AFP

Kyaw Soe Oo (left) and Wa Lone after their sentencing in September 2018
Kyaw Soe Oo (left) and Wa Lone have been in prison for one year. AFP photos
December 5, 2018

Turkey is seeking the arrest of two former aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who were dismissed amid the fallout from the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency says a court approved arrest warrants for former royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri, who are believed to have overseen the team that killed and dismembered Khashoggi at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in October. Saudi authorities say the agents who killed Khashoggi exceeded their authority. — AP

November 23, 2018

Turkey says President Donald Trump intended to turn a “blind eye” to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder after he said Washington’s ties with Riyadh would not be affected by the incident.

November 22, 2018

US President Donald Trump has doubled down on his partnership with Saudi Arabia, calling it an indispensable ally after a journalist’s grisly murder, but critics say his position ignores Washington’s enormous leverage over Riyadh.

Trump gave Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a pass on Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, glossing over the Central Intelligence Agency’s reported conclusion that the kingdom’s de facto ruler had authorised the killing. — AFP

November 21, 2018

President Donald Trump says a CIA report into the killing by Saudi agents of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi found “nothing definitive.”

“The CIA looked at it,” he tells journalists at the White House. “They have nothing definitive.” — AFP

November 17, 2018

Vice President Mike Pence has vowed the US would hold the murderers of Jamal Khashoggi to account, following media reports that the CIA had concluded the Saudi Crown Prince was behind the journalist’s killing.

“The United States is determined to hold all of those accountable who are responsible for that murder,” Pence says on the sidelines of an APEC summit in Papua New Guinea. — AFP

November 10, 2018

The killers of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi poured his remains down the drain after dissolving him in acid, a Turkish newspaper reports.

Samples taken from the drains at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul showed traces of acid, pro-government daily Sabah said, without quoting sources.

This led investigators to believe the dead body of the insider-turned-critic of the Riyadh regime was disposed of through the drains as liquid, the paper says. — AFP

November 9, 2018

The fiancee of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has expressed “shock and sadness” over reports suggesting that his body may have been dissolved with chemicals. — AP

October 26, 2018

Turkish president says Saudi chief prosecutor will arrive in Turkey on Sunday for investigation of Khashoggi killing. — AP

October 24, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump says he will be briefed Wednesday afternoon by U.S. officials looking into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabian agents.

After tomorrow, Trump says, “We’ll know pretty much everything there is to know.”

He calls the killing of Khashoggi “a total fiasco” and says Saudi Arabia never should have thought about killing the dissident Washington Post contributor.

Trump says, “Once they thought about it, everything else they did was bad too.”

Trump is repeating the denials by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that he knew of the plot before it was carried out. — AP

October 20, 2018

Amnesty International says the “impartiality” of a Saudi investigation into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi would remain in question after authorities in the kingdom said the journalist died after a fight in the consulate in Istanbul.

Amnesty’s Rawya Rageh says early Saturday the rights group and other organizations have been very clear that what is needed is “an impartial and independent investigation by the U.N. to find out what happened and ensure justice” for Khashoggi.

She said rights groups have been concerned of a “whitewash” in the investigation.

Khashoggi disappeared after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Saudi authorities say a fight broke out in the consulate after which Khashoggi died. — AP

October 20, 2018

US President Donald Trump says that he found credible Saudi Arabia’s assertion that dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi died as a result of a fight.

“I do, I do,” Trump says when asked if the Saudis’ explanation was credible, while adding: “It’s early, we haven’t finished our review or investigation.” — AFP

October 19, 2018

President Donald Trump says he now believes journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead and warned of “very severe” consequences should Saudi Arabia be proven responsible. – AFP

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October 18, 2018

President Donald Trump says the U.S. is asking Turkey for audio and video relating to missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi “if it exists.” The president on called Saudi Arabia an important ally, noting it is an important customer for U.S. military exports. Turkish officials have said Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudis’ Istanbul consulate, which Saudi officials have denied. U.S. officials say they are taking Khashoggi’s disappearance seriously, but Trump says he has not sent the FBI, stressing that he was not “American citizen.” In an intervie, Trump warned against a rush to judgment, comparing condemnation of Saudi Arabia to the allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. — AP

October 18, 2018

The Washington Post has published a new column by Jamal Khashoggi in which he warns that governments in the Middle East “have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate.” The Post published the column Wednesday, more than two weeks after Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say he was killed by Saudi agents. The Saudi government has denied it. Post Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah says she received the column from Khashoggi’s assistant a day after he was reported missing. Khashoggi writes that actions like imprisoning journalists and seizing control of newspapers “no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community.” He says, “Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation followed by silence.” President Donald Trump has suggested that the global community has jumped to conclusions that Saudi Arabia is behind Khashoggi’s disappearance. — AP

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October 18, 2018

The Washington Post plans to publish a new column by missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi in which he discusses the importance of a free press in the Middle East. The WashPost PR Blog says Khashoggi filed the column just before he disappeared. It will be published online Wednesday night in the U.S. Khashoggi was a Post Global Opinions contributor who had written opinion pieces critical of the Saudi crown prince. He was last seen Oct. 2 entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up paperwork he needed to get married. Turkish officials have claimed Saudi agents killed and dismembered him. Saudi Arabia has denied the allegations, but provided no evidence he left the consulate. The Post also plans to publish a page dedicated to Khashoggi in its opinions section Thursday.

September 22, 2018

A newspaper in southern Mexico says one of its reporters was shot to death as he left his home to work on a story.

El Heraldo de Chiapas says journalist Mario Gomez was attacked by two men Friday in Yajalon, a town in a jungle area of Chiapas state near the border with Guatemala.

Gomez is at least the 10th news worker to be killed in Mexico this year. — AP   

September 20, 2018

Unidentified gunmen on motorcycles shot at the house of a Talisay City-based radio broadcaster on Wednesday night, the Bacolod chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines reports.

In a statement, NUJP Bacolod says men on two motorcycles strafed the house of Muews Radio’s Rey Siason in Carmela Valley Homes in Talisay City.

Siason was not in his home at the time as he had stopped along the way home to eat. His daughter, a minor, told him of the incident over the phone, NUJP-Bacolod says.

“We call on the authorities to swiftly investigate the incident and bring those responsible to justice,” Marchel Espina, NUJP-Bacolod chair, says in the statement.

In February, Ranilo Azue, also with Muews Radio, was mauled outside the radio station by men believed to be associated with the government.

August 30, 2018

A Mexican television reporter was shot in the resort city of Cancun, the eighth journalist killed this year in a country notoriously dangerous for the media.

Javier Enrique Rodriguez Valladares worked as a cameraman and reporter for Canal 10.

The station says his family had confirmed his death.

News reports in Cancun say he was shot while walking with another man in the central part of the city. Local officials have not released any information about the case. — AFP

July 20, 2018

Broadcaster Joey Llana, 38, was shot dead by an unknown attacker in Daraga, Albay early Friday morning.

Llana, a blocktimer at Legaspi City’s DWZR and known for his hard-hitting commentaries, was shot while he was on the way to work, the Bicol Standard reports.

June 30, 2018

Hundreds of people have gathered in the shadow of the Maryland State House for a candlelight march in memory of five slain newspaper employees.

The mood was somber as Capital Gazette reporter Phil Davis read aloud the names of his five slain co-workers before those gathers began marching through downtown Annapolis.

Some in the crowd carried signs and banners that said “#AnnapolisStrong.”

Melissa Wilson and her husband, Benjamin Wilson, brought their children to the vigil. Melissa Wilson’s employer has offices in the same building as the newspaper and has co-workers who were there when the gunman opened fire. She said many Annapolis residents have a “one degree of separation” connection with at least one of the five paper employees who were fatally shot. — AP

“It’s not something you can ignore when it’s in your backyard,” she said.

Dennis Denora, a Sun.Star reporter and publisher of the Trends and Times community paper, has been shot dead by unidentified killers, according to the Davao chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

Denora was killed near the wet market of Panabo City in Davao Del Norte on Thursday afternoon, NUJP Davao says.

The Davao del Norte Press & Radio-TV Club says in a statement that is is angered and saddened by news of the killing.

“His death awakens the anger and pains of journalists who do their job and yet are being judged by the pistol,” the group also says.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/happens/399#LearEVbS0VM6cDvl.99

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Trump: Michael Flynn’s ‘great deal’ is because of how he was treated

December 13, 2018

President Trump defended his former national security adviser Thursday, saying Michael Flynn’s light sentence recommendation is because prosecutors are embarrassed by how Flynn was treated.

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“They want to scare everybody into making up stories that are not true by catching them in the smallest of misstatements,” Trump tweeted.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

They gave General Flynn a great deal because they were embarrassed by the way he was treated – the FBI said he didn’t lie and they overrode the FBI. They want to scare everybody into making up stories that are not true by catching them in the smallest of misstatements. Sad!……

Flynn pleaded guilty last year to one count of making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Sergei Kislyak, at the time the Russian ambassador. Both Flynn’s lawyers and special counsel Robert Mueller recommended in their sentencing memos that Flynn, who also worked for Trump’s transition team, not have to serve prison time because of his cooperation with Mueller’s investigation.

Former FBI director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told lawmakers last year that FBI agents didn’t see anything that indicated Flynn was lying in the interview, though McCabe said his statements were at odds with evidence.

A memo that detailed Flynn’s interview with the FBI revealed officials suggested he not have a lawyer present. The judge in the case requested Wednesday documents related to the interview ahead of Flynn’s scheduled sentencing next week.

Trump, who has frequently decried Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling, reiterated his criticism of the probe Wednesday.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

WITCH HUNT!

 https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/trump-michael-flynns-great-deal-is-because-of-how-he-was-treated

Trump insists Mexico is paying for the border wall

December 13, 2018

President Trump insisted on Thursday that he is keeping his campaign promise to build the wall and have Mexico pay for it.

Image result for rebecca blackwell, associated press, photos, border wall

Central American migrants planning to surrender to U.S. border patrol agents climb over the U.S. border wall from Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, late Monday, Dec. 3, 2018. Thousands of migrants are living in crowded tent cities in the Mexican city of Tijuana after undertaking a grueling, weeks-long journey to the U.S. border. (Rebecca Blackwell | The Associated Press)

In a tweet, he said the new trade agreement to replace NAFTA would save the U.S. so much money, that Mexico is effectively buying the border wall for America.

“I often stated, “One way or the other, Mexico is going to pay for the Wall.” This has never changed,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “Our new deal with Mexico (and Canada), the USMCA is so much better than the old, very costly & anti-USA NAFTA deal, that just by the money we save, MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

I often stated, “One way or the other, Mexico is going to pay for the Wall.” This has never changed. Our new deal with Mexico (and Canada), the USMCA, is so much better than the old, very costly & anti-USA NAFTA deal, that just by the money we save, MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!

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Trump recently signed the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. But despite Trump’s claim, Democrats say the U.S. is still paying for the wall, and have fought Trump’s request to appropriate another $5 billion to build more sections of it.

During an oval office meeting this week, Trump got into a spat with Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Calif., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, N.Y., over funding for the border wall. Trump says he will only accept the full $5 billion, and would be “proud” to shut down the government if Democrats did not agree to the full amount.


Honduran migrant Joel Mendez, 22, feeds his eight-month-old son Daniel as his partner Yesenia Martinez, 24, crawls through a hole under the U.S. border wall, in Tijuana, Mexico, Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. Moments later Martinez surrendered to waiting border guards while Mendez stayed behind in Tijuana to work, saying he feared he’d be deported if he crossed. (Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press)

The Washington Post fact checker unveiled a new rank this week — the Bottomless Pinocchio— that said it was based in part on Trump’s repeated claim that Mexico would pay for the border wall.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/defense-national-security/trump-insists-mexico-is-paying-for-the-border-wall

Donald Trump Jr. calls his father a Christmas ‘regifter’ — Donald Senior turns into Scrooge for cancelling media Christmas party (Jim Acosta is “Heartbroken”)

December 13, 2018

US president’s son says as his dad’s namesake, he ‘got regifted all the things that were monogrammed for him at time’

In this photo from November 28, 2018, Donald Trump Jr., center, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, right, depart following the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the Ellipse near the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

In this photo from November 28, 2018, Donald Trump Jr., center, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, right, depart following the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the Ellipse near the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump’s eldest son said his father is a “regifter” who “may or may not” have once given him the same gift he presented to his dad the year before.

Donald Trump Jr. said in an interview with the entertainment program “Extra” that because he is his father’s namesake, he “got regifted all the things that were monogrammed for him at times.”

And he said that one Christmas he called his dad out on the regifting, explaining that he was the one who’d had the item monogrammed.

Trump Jr. also said he’ll be spending the holidays with his family and girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle at his dad’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

He also joked that “it would be a wonderful thing” if he could tweet his father’s holiday dinner commentary.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/donald-trump-jr-calls-his-father-a-christmas-regifter/

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Donald Trump or The Grinch? White House cancels Christmas party to spite the press

The president expressed his dismay with the media by cancelling a traditional White House Christmas party for press

MATTHEW ROZSA
DECEMBER 13, 2018 1:43PM

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President Donald Trump has abandoned another venerable tradition in order to get back at the media — this time, the White House Christmas party for members of the press. The story was broken in an exclusive by — Fox News.

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President Trump has canceled the White House holiday party for the media, making the decades-old tradition a victim of his increasingly contentious relationship with major news organizations.

Fox News’ media reporter Howard Kurtz noted that the White House did not announce that it was dropping the press party but that “the decision is hardly shocking, given Trump’s constant attacks on ‘fake news’ and the overwhelmingly negative coverage of him and his administration.” The report also went into detail about how the rest of Trump’s holiday parties seem to be proceeding:

While dropping the media party, the White House is in the midst of a full panoply of other parties this holiday season. Selected media people generally favorable to Trump, including a few Fox News hosts, have made those guest lists.

When Democrats have been in the White House, more liberal commentators have gotten invitations, while more conservative pundits have shown up during Republican administrations.

This isn’t the first time that Trump has refused to participate in a tradition that helped bridge the gap between the politicians in Washington and the members of the press assigned to cover them. He has also refused to participate in the White House Correspondents Association Dinners on both occasions that those events were held during his presidency, even though presidents as far back as Richard Nixon have been involved in them (and Nixon was certainly no friend of the press).

In April, when Trump refused to participate in the second event of this nature, he partially alluded as to why in a tweet, according to The New York Times.

“Do you believe that the Fake News Media is pushing hard on a story that I am going to replace A.G. Jeff Sessions with EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, who is doing a great job but is TOTALLY under siege? Do people really believe this stuff? So much of the media is dishonest and corrupt!” Trump tweeted at the time.

There may be additional reasons why Trump wants to avoid the press this time around. Despite publicly claiming to be unconcerned about the possibility of impeachment, privately the president is deeply concerned that revelations about him potentially violating campaign finance laws to stifle stories about extramarital affairs could put him in legal jeopardy, according to NBC News. As one close Trump ally told the news outlet, “The entire question about whether the president committed an impeachable offense now hinges on the testimony of two men: David Pecker and Allen Weisselberg, both cooperating witnesses in the SDNY investigation.”

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

https://www.salon.com/2018/12/13/donald-trump-or-the-grinch-white-house-cancels-christmas-party-to-spite-the-press/

Trump denies directing lawyer to break law

December 13, 2018

Donald Trump on Thursday denied directing his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen to break the law after the US president’s longtime close ally was sentenced to three years for campaign finance violations and other crimes.

“I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law,” Trump tweeted.

“It is called ‘advice of counsel,’ and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made. That is why they get paid.”

Michael Cohen (left) apologized for covering up the "dirty deeds" of US President Donald Trump

Michael Cohen (left) apologized for covering up the “dirty deeds” of US President Donald Trump Michael Cohen (left) apologized for covering up the “dirty deeds” of US President Donald Trump GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File

Cohen, 52, apologized Wednesday for covering up the “dirty deeds” of his ex-boss as he was handed jail time for multiple crimes including hush money payments implicating Trump.

Pleading for leniency in a packed Manhattan courtroom before US District Court Judge William H. Pauley III, Cohen said he had been led astray by misplaced admiration for Trump.

An emotional Cohen told the court he accepted responsibility for his personal crimes and “those involving the President of the United States of America.”

In his first public comments since Cohen’s sentencing, Trump said on Twitter that legal experts had cleared him of any wrongdoing and repeated his denial that he had broken campaign finance laws, arguing that Cohen’s crimes did not involve campaign finance.

“Cohen was guilty on many charges unrelated to me, but he plead to two campaign charges which were not criminal and of which he probably was not guilty even on a civil bases,” Trump tweeted.

“Those charges were just agreed to by him in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did-including the fact that his family was temporarily let off the hook. As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me!”

Cohen admitted charges brought by federal prosecutors in New York of tax evasion, providing false statements to a bank and illegal campaign contributions.

Cohen also pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress — a charge stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia to get him elected.

Among the charges against Cohen was making secret payments to silence two women threatening to go public during the election campaign with claims they had affairs with Trump.

AFP

Shut the down government for real border control — not for the wall

December 13, 2018

Both sides need to grow up and get to work.

Improvisation isn’t Sen. Charles Schumer’s forte. When President Trump surprised the senator and Rep. Nancy Pelosi by broadcasting their acrimonious Oval Office meeting, the anguine gentleman from New York was caught off-guard.

Schumer and Pelosi invoked the word “shutdown” as though it were a magical incantation. Trump said that he’d be “proud” to shut down the government if he doesn’t get funding for a border wall. As Trump bellowed and berated the Democrats, “Schumer sat staring forward and not meeting the president’s eyes,” as CNBC put it. The promise of that kind of spectacle is about one half of why Donald Trump was elected.

Illegal immigration is the other half. If the federal apparatus serves any purpose at all, providing for national security — beginning with securing the borders — is it.

Washington should do its damned job. Which it will, once it has exhausted every other option. Republicans have the chance to take some of those options away.

By Kevin D. Williamson
Commentary
The New York Post

Disorder is always undesirable in government. And this year’s installment of shutdown theater finds many different currents of chaos adjoined: a dysfunctional constitutional order; a border that in practice is defended by very little more than strong language; a broken congressional budgeting process in which the regular order of appropriations has been supplanted by a series of “continuing resolutions,” stopgap measures that have now been passed more than 100 times in this still-young century.

The abandonment of what budget geeks refer to as “regular order” keeps Washington effectively in a state of constant fiscal emergency.

Republicans used to fear being blamed for these things, a part of the more general GOP tendency to fear being blamed for things. But they have discovered that the political price for these acts of theater is pretty low. They are slow learners, but they learn — or at least they can, where there is a question of self-preservation.

Mainly, shutdowns inconvenience federal workers who get furloughed, which upsets their household finances. One feels for them. What’s rarely said aloud but surely appreciated by Republicans is that practically all of them are Democrats.

Republicans ought to be the party of order. But border security is an issue worth taking a stand on, even at the cost of a little ceremonial disorder. The politics are broadly on the side of those who wish to see the borders more adequately secured, and the issue will put Democrats in the position of defending illegal immigration.

Republicans have the right politics, then, but the wrong policy. Building a wall would bring some benefits and would present Trump with an important symbolic victory, but it is at best an incomplete policy, and in some ways a bad one.

For much of the US-Mexico border, a wall is neither practical nor desirable. A wall, moreover, does things that we don’t want to do, such as necessitating the appropriation of private property along the border, interrupting access to water, etc.

Those headaches can be dealt with. The bigger problem is that a wall doesn’t do what we want it to do: cut off the flow of illegal immigrants. Most new illegal immigrants don’t enter the United States by wading across the Rio Grande. They come legally on visas and fail to leave when required. You can build the wall 10 feet higher, but unless you are going to build it high enough to cut off international air traffic, it won’t solve the problem.

If the Republicans are going to shut down the government over border security, they should do it on behalf of a better border-security agenda.

The most important reform would be putting an electronic wall between would-be illegal workers and their employers through a robust, mandatory program of employment-eligibility verification. And then there’s the mundane, tedious work of everyday law enforcement: Raiding a few construction sites will net a few illegal drywall installers, but if you really want to change behavior, then that begins with frog-marching the employers off to the federal pokey.

The federal government doesn’t have a very good record on that, and winning convictions in such cases is difficult. But it is the employers who provide the main lure for illegal immigration in the first place. And we know where they live.

Republicans should be the responsible party on immigration. The Democrats are too much in thrall to identity politics to do that. And Republicans should not fear a shutdown.
What they should fear is getting too little in exchange.

Kevin Williamson is roving correspondent for National Review, where this article first appeared.

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https://nypost.com/2018/12/12/shut-the-down-government-for-real-border-control-not-for-the-wall/
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