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Trump 40: Donald Trump and the Chamber of Incompetence

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"Trump hotel emoluments case is at federal appeals court as president asks for it to be thrown out"


RICHMOND — President Trump’s luxury hotel in downtown Washington and the foreign dignitaries who book rooms and host events there are central to a novel appeals court case Tuesday involving anti-corruption provisions of the Constitution.

The attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia contend that the president is illegally profiting from the Trump International Hotel’s foreign and state government visitors and that his financial gain comes at the expense of local competitors.

“The president is neither above the law nor exempt from litigation, and nothing in this suit impinges on his public duties,” D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) and Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) say in court filings in advance of oral arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.

At issue are the Constitution’s once-obscure emoluments clauses, designed to prevent undue influence on government officials but never before applied in court to a sitting president.

A federal judge in Maryland allowed the case to move forward and adopted a broad definition of the ban to include “profit, gain, or advantage” received “directly or indirectly” from foreign, federal or state governments.

Trump and his lawyers appealed, saying in court filings that the president should be shielded from such liability and legal distractions. They also are trying to stop an order from U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte authorizing dozens of subpoenas to federal government agencies and Trump’s private business entities.

The subpoenas seek details on some of the most closely held secrets of Trump’s business and finances: Which foreign governments have paid the Trump Organization money? How much? And for what?

All of the documents — including marketing materials targeted to foreign embassies, credit card receipts and restaurant reservation logs — relate to Trump’s D.C. hotel.

“The complaint rests on a host of novel and fundamentally flawed constitutional premises, and litigating the claims would entail intrusive discovery into the president’s personal financial affairs and the official actions of his Administration,” according to the Justice Department’s filing.

“Despite this remarkable complaint, the district court treated this case as a run-of-the-mill commercial dispute,” the filing continues. Not only did it deny the president’s motion to dismiss, but it refused even to certify for immediate appeal.”

The Richmond-based court, which takes appeals from Maryland, temporarily put the subpoenas on hold while the case is pending.

The three-judge panel on Tuesday will specifically consider whether the District and Maryland have legal grounds — or standing — to sue the president in the first place. And the appeals court will consider the president’s request to dismiss the case outright or to take the unusual step of ordering the lower-court judge to allow a midstream appeal.

“The president seeks to justify that extraordinary remedy on the ground that he is completely immune from judicial process,” Racine and Frosh said in their court filing.

Unlike past presidents, Trump has retained ownership of his private businesses, including the hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, a few blocks from the White House, that has attracted government clients. The Kuwaiti Embassy has held its National Day celebration there three years in a row. Lobbyists representing the Saudi government reserved blocks of rooms in December 2016. The former governor of Maine stayed at the hotel and dined at its restaurant in 2017.

Despite the case — and a separate emoluments suit brought by 198 Democrats in Congress — the Trump Organization did more business with foreign governments in 2018 than it did the year before. The company said it received $191,000 in profits from large events and hotel bookings paid for by foreign governments last year, money it donated to the U.S. Treasury. The previous year the company reported about $150,000.

In January, the inspector general for the General Services Administration said the agency had “improperly ignored” potential conflicts with the emoluments provision in leasing the Old Post Office building to the hotel. The watchdog agency did not recommend that GSA modify the deal, but several House committees are now planning investigations into the project.

In his initial ruling in March 2018, Messitte found that Maryland and the District had sufficiently shown that Trump’s hotel “has had and almost certainly will continue to have an unlawful effect on competition.” He specifically noted the local governments’ financial interests in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, which offer venues that may compete for some events.

The provisions being reviewed by the 4th Circuit have never before been tested at a federal appeals court. One bars federal officers from taking presents, or emoluments, from foreign governments. The other prohibits presidents from taking side payments from individual states.

The Justice Department had urged Messitte to dismiss the case, arguing that the clauses were meant to stop officials from taking bribes — but not to prevent them from doing business.

The Office of Legal Counsel within the Justice Department has routinely addressed the meaning and implications of the provisions for presidents past. President Ronald Reagan requested a guidance about whether he could accept the pension he earned as California’s governor. President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize only after the legal counsel’s office said he could do so without violating the emoluments clause.


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I just threw up in my mouth a little. :puke-right:


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I wonder if he, or any repug for that matter, actually knows what socialism is, other than a derogatory term they use against democrats.


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2 hours ago, fraurosena said:

I just threw up in my mouth a little. :puke-right:


Is Putin considered a deity now?

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"Deutsche Bank, George Conway and the black hole of Trump’s corruption"


There are varying ways to deal with President Trump and the gravitational pull of his corruption. One is exemplified by Deutsche Bank. Another is exemplified by George T. Conway III, the husband of top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.

Bear with us on this one.

If you’re at all familiar with Trump’s financial history, you know that Deutsche Bank looms large. That’s the German institution to which, it would not be an exaggeration to say, Trump owes the survival of his real estate business. After he bankrupted a couple of casinos and became known in the financial world as a liar, a con man and somebody you’d be a fool to loan money to, Deutsche Bank was still there for him. In the early 2000s, when no other bank would loan Trump the hundreds of millions of dollars he needed for his large projects, Deutsche Bank kept doing so.

But why? Some light is shed on the answer in an investigation by David Enrich of the New York Times, and what it reveals could be a metaphor for much of Trump's life, especially his political life.

According to Enrich, Deutsche Bank kept loaning Trump money even though he was lying to them and they knew it — and even as he screwed them over and sued them. What Deutsche Bank’s approach embodies is similar to those who allow themselves to get drawn into Trump’s orbit of corruption, even though they are fully aware of the risks involved.

Here’s the summary:

Over nearly two decades, Deutsche Bank’s leaders repeatedly saw red flags surrounding Mr. Trump. There was a disastrous bond sale, a promised loan that relied on a banker’s forged signature, wild exaggerations of Mr. Trump’s wealth, even a claim of an act of God.

But Deutsche Bank had a ravenous appetite for risk and limited concern about its clients’ reputations. Time after time, with the support of two different chief executives, the bank handed money — a total of well over $2 billion — to a man whom nearly all other banks had deemed untouchable.

When Trump was seeking funding for a tower in Chicago, he claimed he was worth $3 billion, “but when bank employees reviewed his finances, they concluded he was worth about $788 million.” Yet they lent him $500 million to build the project.

Multiple times, Trump would default on a loan or otherwise cost the bank dearly, and one division would sever ties with him, yet he managed to get more money from a different arm of the bank. And multiple times they concluded he was lying to them about his assets, but decided that, for other reasons — such as his income from “The Apprentice,” they’d loan him more money despite his lies.

There’s a degree to which one is inclined to look at this story and say, “Anyone who’s dumb enough to loan money to Donald Trump deserves what they get.” Which may be true. Deutsche Bank wasn’t like Trump’s other marks — the struggling people whose life savings he stole with Trump University, or the small business owners whose bills he refused to pay, or the people seeking to turn their financial lives around that he preyed on with the Trump Institute, or the foreign models he exploited with Trump Model Management, or any of the other victims of his long history of scams and cons.

But this isn’t really about what Deutsche Bank did or didn’t get from their relationship with him. If Trump knowingly submitted false documents in order to obtain loans, that would be a crime. And, indeed, the New York state attorney general has issued subpoenas to the bank covering a number of transactions, including Trump’s failed attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills. You may recall that this came up in Michael Cohen’s recent testimony to Congress. Here’s what happened there, per the Times investigation:

Mr. Trump asked Ms. Vrablic if the bank would be willing to make a loan and handed over bare-bones financial statements that estimated his net worth at $8.7 billion.

Mr. Cohen testified to Congress last month that the documents exaggerated Mr. Trump’s wealth. Deutsche Bank executives had reached a similar conclusion. They nonetheless agreed to vouch for Mr. Trump’s bid, according to an executive involved.

To repeat, over and over the bank knew Trump was lying to them but gave him more money anyway. To be sure, this isn’t much different from the way many Republicans think of him. Sure, he lies about everything all the time. But they’ve decided that they’re going to live with that and go along for the ride, in part because he’s giving them something specific they want, like a bunch of right-wing judges.

But it’s one thing to sacrifice your integrity to stand behind the most corrupt and personally repugnant president we’ve ever had, and it’s another to become a direct party to his misdeeds. I can’t say whether anyone at Deutsche Bank is in legal jeopardy, but I’m guessing that, right now, with law enforcement poking around, some of them are ruing the day they decided to become partners with Trump. They’re hardly alone in that: As Trump’s own former lawyer Cohen testified, “The more people that follow Mr. Trump as I did blindly are going to suffer the same consequences that I’m suffering.”

Conway’s insinuations about Trump’s mental state

Now let’s talk about Conway. Lately, he has been publicly insinuating that Trump is in serious mental decline. This finally baited Trump into responding: “A total loser!”

And that, in turn, led to this new Post story digging into the backstory here.

Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale is now claiming that Trump “doesn’t even know” Conway, as if not having the great privilege of personally knowing Trump is a mark of terrible shame, and that Trump turned down Conway for a job he wanted (hence “loser"). But Conway told The Post that, in fact, he and Trump have had multiple personal interactions. Conway also says he turned down an offer from Trump to work at the Justice Department, because, having seen Trump fire former FBI director James B. Comey in early 2017, he understood that the agency would be under relentless presidential assault for the next two years.

What’s funny is what came next. As The Post report notes:

In a conversation with Trump at the wedding of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in June 2017, Conway said, Trump approached him and complimented him for not taking a job under then-attorney general Jeff Sessions.

“He said to me, I remember it clearly, you were smart not to work for that guy,” Conway said. “He is so weak.”

Trump then ranted for several minutes that Sessions should have never recused himself from the Mueller investigation. “I told him, I’d heard the recusal issue was pretty clear, that Sessions had to recuse himself,” Conway said. “He took great affront at that.”

In other words, Trump, by ranting uncontrollably about Sessions’s failure to live up to his corrupt demand that he act as his personal protector, confirmed that Conway’s assessment had been right — that there would be no way to work at the Justice Department without getting drawn into a bottomless cesspool of a situation stemming from Trump’s corruption.

Something tells us that Conway’s reading of the dangers of getting pulled into Trump’s orbit will be vindicated, while Deutsche Bank’s approach to those dangers will not.


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"Obama’s presidency will be hailed as transformative. Trump’s will be viewed with scorn."


As it was with George W. Bush and every other president who preceded him, Barack Obama made policy decisions I found troubling.

Obama once described the driving principle of his foreign policy as little more than “don’t do stupid s---.” That reflexive reaction to Bush’s military adventurism led to U.S. inaction in the face of some 500,000 Syrian deaths and the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. Domestically, Obama failed to pass a significant piece of legislation during his final six years in office.

And yet, 100 years from now, Obama’s presidency will be hailed as the most transformative of our lifetimes, and Donald Trump’s will be viewed with the same scorn that followed the Dred Scott decision. Like that pre-Civil War Supreme Court case, Trump will forever be condemned as a racial reprobate whose words and actions inspired white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Last week’s slaughter of Muslims in New Zealand was allegedly committed by a fascist who claimed to draw inspiration from President Trump, among others. It was the latest in a long line of tragedies that our president failed to clearly condemn. After the 2017 riots in Charlottesville, Trump proclaimed a moral equivalence between neo-Nazis and their opponents. Following the killings in Christchurch, the president dismissed the threat of white supremacy while claiming the rising tide of violence coming from the far right was limited to a few troublemakers with “very serious problems.”

Trump’s acting chief of staff appeared on national television to declare that “the president is not a white supremacist.” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway once again shamed herself by dismissing the fascist mass murderer from Australia as an “eco-terrorist.” The president’s apologists denied that the current commander in chief was inspiring right-wing violence. But the Center for Strategic and International Studies reported in November that far-right attacks rose in Europe by 43 percent since 2016, while right-wing terrorist attacks have quadrupled in the United States over the same time. Hate crimes rose 17 percent in 2017.

This troubling chapter in U.S. history has one author — and his name is Donald Trump. This sputtering reality star has created a political identity and corrupt presidency inspired by the wave of racism that followed Obama’s. The Manhattan multimillionaire’s 2016 calls for a Muslim ban and creation of a Muslim registry; the claim of ignorance toward former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke; the attack on a Hispanic judge’s integrity; the callousness shown toward a Muslim Gold Star family; and the anti-Semitic tweet featuring a Star of David and piles of $100 bills next to Hillary Clinton’s face. These are just a few of the racially charged offenses that Trump committed even before Americans elected him president.

The shocking conclusion to the 2016 campaign made millions of Americans, including me, look foolish for believing that Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012 had proved that the United States had emerged from the scourge of racism infecting it for more than four centuries. I remain shocked that this strain of bigotry still fuels the political careers of Trump and his enablers on Capitol Hill.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. often said that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” That is but one reason why the rise in bigotry shown to Muslims, Jews, Hispanics, blacks and “others” has been so discouraging in the age of Trump. Like those who believed these racists were relics from a bygone age, I had also convinced myself that my Republican colleagues were so repelled by racism that they would never support a leader who provided inspiration to neo-Nazis and white supremacists; the manifesto of the New Zealand killer and the words of David Duke after Charlottesville showed just how wrong I was.

That’s why any policy differences I had with Obama now seem so insignificant. Americans who still have faith in the upward arc of King’s moral universe should be grateful for Obama’s presidency and the way his election exposed the white racism that is still at large in our land. If changing the Constitution and reelecting Obama two more times would break the fever that now ravages Trump’s Washington, I would cheerfully champion the passage of that constitutional amendment, slap a “Hope and Change” sticker on my shirt, and race to the nearest voting booth to support the man historians will remember as the most significant president since Abraham Lincoln.


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Fuck this guy.


Carrying a bitter personal feud beyond the grave, President Donald Trump escalated his attacks on the late Sen. John McCain on Tuesday, declaring he will "never" be a fan of the Vietnam war hero and longtime Republican lawmaker who died last year of brain cancer.

"I was never a fan of John McCain, and I never will be," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

The fresh vitriol followed Trump's weekend tweets insulting the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, with whom he long had a fractious relationship. He repeated some of those attacks, complaining about McCain's vote against repealing President Barack Obama's health care law.


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