Nel's New Day

November 25, 2019

More Impeachment News

Although the impeachment inquiry may be moving onto writing articles of impeachment, the bad news for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues to pour out.

Lev Parnas, associate of DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani, has given the House Intelligence Committee audio and video recordings and photographs. Giuliani used Parnas to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Parnas said he acted as translator as part of a “team” regularly meeting in Washington’s Trump International Hotel about spreading conspiracy theories among key Ukrainians. Team members included Giuliani, journalist John Solomon who spread the conspiracy theories through such media as The Hill, and married attorneys Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing who appeared on Fox for the same purpose.

Joseph Bondy, Parnas’ lawyer, said that his client worked for over a year with Giuliani to find damaging information about the Bidens while DDT and GOP members of Congress pushed false information that Joe Biden intervened in a Ukrainian criminal investigation and Ukraine meddled to the 2016 election to help Hillary Clinton. After the 2018 election, while Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) was still chair of the Intelligence Committee but before the Democrats took over the House, he visited former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin in Vienna who promoted the conspiracy theories. Because they would have to tell House Intelligence Adam Schiff (D-CA), Nunes’ aides called off this year’s trip to Ukraine where he planned to interview two former Ukrainian prosecutors about evidence helping DDT’s reelection campaign. Instead, Parnas set up the meetings with the two men over phone and on Skype.

Nunes is the first congressional member thus far who is directly implicated in the Ukrainian scandal. He first denied any meetings and then said he didn’t want to talk about the situation. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), chair of the Armed Services Committee, said that Nunes may face an ethics investigation about the possibility of this meeting. Nunes says that he will file a lawsuit against CNN and The Daily Beast for their articles about his alleged meeting. Mark Sumner has a timeline of Nunes’ sycophantic behavior since DDT’s inauguration.

Western leaders, including then-VP Joe Biden, ousted Shokin in 2016 because Shokin wouldn’t pursue corruption cases. No evidence exists that the Bidens acted inappropriately or that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.

Almost a year ago at DDT’s Hanukkah party in the White House, DDT met with Giuliani and associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman and asked them to undertake “a secret mission” to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Parnas and DDT have had at least eight meetings since 2014, including photo-ops and attendance at high-dollar fundraisers.

Giuliani’s recent subpoenas list allegations of money laundering as well as obstruction of justice, conspiracy to defraud the United States, making false statements to the federal government, serving as an agent of a foreign government without registering with the Justice Department, donating funds from foreign nationals, making contributions in the name of another person, allowing someone else to use one’s name to make a contribution, mail fraud, and wire fraud. His involvement with Kremlin-connected Russian oligarchs, Dmitry Firtash and Ihor Kolomoisky, led to DDT’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, perhaps the catalyst for DDT’s impeachment inquiry. Energy tycoon Firtash offered to find dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for fighting extradition to the U.S. on bribery and racketeering. The convoluted relationships among people involved in promoting conspiracy theories is available here. Executives of the Ukrainian state-run gas company are cooperating with Giuliani’s criminal investigation.

Anticipating DDT trying to save himself by rejecting his private lawyer, Giuliani plans to protect himself. For the second time, Giuliani has bragged about having “insurance”:

“I’ve heard things written like he’s going to throw me under the bus. When they say that, I say he isn’t, but I have insurance.”

Giuliani tried to cover up his statement by claiming humor or another type of evidence against the Bidens, but his statement sounds like a threat.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may also be in trouble after newly released documents implicate him in connection with Giuliani regarding the Ukrainian bribery scam. Almost 100 pages show repeated contacts between Giuliani and Pompeo starting last spring. A lawsuit forced the release of the records showing that Pompeo had at least two phone calls with Giuliani in March during the time that DDT’s private lawyer was trying to oust Yovanovitch. The next month, Pompeo ordered her removal. According to the documents, the State Department sent congressional members a deliberately misleading reply about her departure that “reveals a clear paper trail from Rudy Giuliani to the Oval Office to Secretary Pompeo to facilitate Giuliani’s smear campaign against a U.S. ambassador,” according to Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. Earlier, EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified, “Everyone was in the loop.”

A federal judge has ordered the Pentagon and White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to release records about DDT’s withholding military aid to Ukraine. The 211 pages include communications between the Pentagon, its comptroller, and OMB. The first half are due by December 12, and the second by December 20.

When DDT became confused about who he should fire on the reality show The Apprentice, producers would engage in “retroactive narrative construction” to justify DDT’s statements. Now his staffers and agency officials face the same dilemma for his actions caused by his alternative realities, recently freezing the military aid to Ukraine with no legal rationale. Hundreds of documents show a frantic search for after-the-fact justification about the legality of the funds’ freeze. 

In Fox, Ken Starr, chief investigator of President Clinton for his impeachment, said:

“We now know that the president in fact committed the crime of bribery…I think articles of impeachment are being drawn up if they haven’t already been drawn up…. I think we’ve known that, it was just confirmed today [on Wednesday].”

Starr also said he wondered if senators would ask DDT to resign “in light of what we’ve heard today” from Sondland.

DDT’s biggest problem with Ukraine is the election of Volodymyr Zelensky for president last spring. The losing candidate, incumbent Petro Poroshenko, had agreed to drop investigations into DDT’s former campaign manager in exchange for anti-tank missiles, the Javelins, from the U.S. Before the Ukrainian election and accompanied by associates Parnas and Igor Fruman, Giuliani met with key Poroshenko official, prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko, at least twice. Poroshenko agreed to announcing investigations into the Bidens and Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election for electoral help with a state visit to the U.S. John Solomon started writing articles with false information from Lutsenko in March with these claims and a smear campaign against Marie Yovanovitch, then-ambassador to Ukraine.

Poroshenko lost in a landslide on April 21, and DDT had to find an alternative route for his goals. DDT attacked Zelensky because he thought the new president might really oppose corruption instead of pretending to do so in an effort to please DDT. Without corruption by Poroshenko and Lutsenko, DDT needed a new game plan.

DDT’s latest strategy has been to bribe his jurors, an illegal practice in courts throughout the United States. He started out by transferring money from his campaign to those of four vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection. Then top White House officials secretly met with GOP senators to strategize the limiting of the impeachment trial, comparable to juries meeting accused criminals in their trials. They may have agreed to two weeks, long enough to look honest but short enough to not damage DDT. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already promised that DDT would be acquitted. Jury tampering also includes free lunches, specifically with Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) who have sometimes been critical about DDT’s actions. Romney went so far as to describe DDT’s asking foreign countries to investigate Joe Biden as “wrong and appalling.”

Upping the ante, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and other officials hosted over 40 GOP House members for overnight stays at the presidential retreat Camp David before any impeachment vote—at taxpayers’ cost. DDT doesn’t like the rustic setting so he avoided the hiking, bowling, skeet shooting, campfires, and friendly talk, but he called in during the dinners to compliment them. The representatives were impressed. DDT has met with or reached out to over half the GOP House members since the launch of the impeachment inquiry and given 50 of the 53 senators lunch with him.

With the goal of discouraging people who think that DDT should be impeached, Republicans are quoting new polls indicating that the majority doesn’t support his impeachment. Fivethirtyeight.com, which has conservative results, posted that 56.8 percent think that DDT committed an impeachable offense. Even more, 77.3 percent think that DDT asked Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, and 63.5 percent think that the action is inappropriate. Almost 60 percent believe that DDT tried to cover up his actions with Ukraine.

November 10, 2019

Open Impeachment Inquiry Hearings: Follow the Money

Despite frantic tweets from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and vehement denials from GOP lawmakers, the impeachment inquiry proceedings move forward this week with televised hearings. The focus will be on “three interrelated lines of inquiry“:

Did DDT ask a foreign leader for investigations to help his personal political interests, including an investigation into DDT’s political rival and possible opponent in the 2020 election?

Did DDT use the Office of the President to pressure Ukraine for his own personal political interests, including leveraging a White House meeting with Ukraine’s president or withholding U.S. military aid?

Did DDT and his administration try to hide information from Congress and the U.S. people about DDT’s actions and behavior, thus seeking to obstruct, suppress, or cover up information?

In closed-door hearings, GOP representatives tried to avoid these inquiries, for example asking about Marie Yovanovitch’s national heritage. (Her father fled the Soviet Union and then the Nazis; her mother grew up “stateless” in Germany. They moved to the United States when Marie was three.) Other questions tried to whitewash evidence from the Mueller investigation, and one member asked Yovanovitch whether her staff “monitored” the social media account of an alt-right conspiracy theorist who accused a pizzeria as being the site of a fictional Democratic pedophile ring. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), former chair of the Intelligence Committee who leaked information to the White House, questioned the origins of the FBI Russia investigation and pushed accusations of bias in the DOJ.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) gave GOP Intelligence Committee members inquiry parameters for witnesses, but Republicans want to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter by calling them as witnesses. Other GOP witness requests were for Hunter Biden’s business partner Devon Archer; the unnamed whistleblower who DDT and GOP lawmakers are determined to out; the researcher Nellie Ohr of Fusion GPS which commissioned a dossier about Russia and Trump; and Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian American who worked with the Democratic National Committee. Schiff said that Democrats would evaluate the GOP requests for witnesses but added:

“[The inquiry] will not serve … as a vehicle to undertake the same sham investigations into the Bidens or 2016 that the President pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit, or to facilitate the President’s effort to threaten, intimidate, and retaliate against the whistleblower who courageously raised the initial alarm.”

DDT announced that he will release a “transcript” of an April call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, perhaps hoping that it will wipe out the damaging July 25 extortion call. The public and Congress still have no access to the complete transcript of the July 25 call.

Republicans focused their defense of DDT’s extortion by claiming that former VP Joe Biden secured Hunter Biden’s position on a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, during Joe Biden’s time in the executive branch. Hunter worked for Burisma from 2014 to 2019, sometimes earning as much as $50,000 a month, but extensive investigations found no relationship between Hunter’s job and Joe’s influence. Other attacks on Joe Biden without evidence come from far-right conspiracy theorists evolving from attempts by DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to get a corruption inquiry dropped for an associate of Russian organized crime.

Giuliani’s and DDT’s corruption with Ukraine have business purposes indicated by their connection with Lev Parnas, arrested for campaign finance violation and planning to testify before the House. Businessmen used their connections with Giuliani and DDT, hoping to install new board members on Ukraine’s state gas company, Naftogaz, and get lucrative contracts. Part of the scheme, recently resigned Energy Secretary Rick Perry, had proposed a donor as a board member but refused to testify before the House. Sources claim Perry asked DDT to make his July 25 call to Zelensky and represented the U.S. at Zelensky’s inauguration while DDT was still extorting the new Ukrainian president. Federal prosecutors are investigating Giuliani.

A loud voice pushing the lie that Joe Biden’s position benefited Hunter came from Donald Trump Jr. On Sean Hannity’s Fox show to tout his new book, Triggered, DDT’s namesake said:

“I wish my name was Hunter Biden. I could go abroad, make millions off of my father’s presidency. I’d be a really rich guy.”  

Supposedly in charge of the Trump Organization, Trump Jr. has repeatedly leveraged political connections for business deals—selling condos in India for a Trump-branded property and fighting to save a Trump property by asking the president of Panama to intervene for him. Taxpayers paid for his travel. China gave a large number of trademarks to Ivanka Trump, who receives about $4 million each year from the DDT-promoted hotel chain, and her husband, Jared Kushner, has sold over $100 million worth of Trump Organization property since DDT’s election.

DDT’s son, Eric Trump, said, “When my father became commander in chief of this country, we got out of all international business, right?” Unbelievably wrong as this article shows. Eric also whined about Hunter’s advantages that are actually those of Eric:

“Money grows on trees, there are no rules, and the press will always cover for you ….”

Trumps’ views on nepotism:

“I like nepotism. I think, you know, a lot of people say, ‘Oh, nepotism.’ Usually these are people without children. But I like nepotism.”–DDT

Nepotism is “kind of a factor of life” and a “beautiful thing.”—Eric Trump

As for DDT’s newly-discovered concern for corruption, he, along with Ivanka, participated in a hotel development deal in Azerbaijan, which ranks 152nd out of 180 on Transparency International’s index of the world’s most corrupt countries. The Trumps partnered with the son of the country’s then-transportation minister, Ziya Mammadov, described in a U.S. diplomatic cable as “notoriously corrupt, even for Azerbaijan.” The Mammadov family has been connected to a corrupt scheme involving operatives from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. In Brazil, Trump partnered with Paulo Figueiredo, later arrested for his part in diverting pension funds into real estate developments, including the one with DDT. Just a bit of DDT’s corruption.

In a GOP strategy for impeachment inquiry hearings, House Minority Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) transferred Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) to the Intelligence Committee because of Jordan’s aggressive questioning. Jordan faces possible lawsuits about at least eight ex-OSU wrestlers asserting that he ignored sexual abuse reports while Jordan was an assistant coach at Ohio State University from 1987 to 1995. A male student said Jordan shrugged when he told Jordan about sexual abuse by school doctor Richard Strauss. A recent witness said that Jordan “snickered” when he told Jordan about the abuse. Jordan replied, “I have nothing to do with this” before walking away. Originally, Jordan said he knew nothing about the abuse and then shifted to claim that “conversations in a locker room” aren’t the same. The head coach who Jordan worked for apparently knew about the claims. Defending Jordan, DDT and GOP lawmakers followed their pattern of supporting sexual abusers and their enablers unless they are registered Democrats.  

Strauss was accused of sexually abusing almost 300 men during a 17-year period. Ohio State knows of 1,429 cases of fondling and 47 cases of rape by Strauss, who killed himself in 2005. The most recent lawsuit is the 13th against the school, and an attorney said that this information “barely scratches the surface.”

Republicans are caught in a bind of bribery and blackmail. DDT will campaign against anyone who doesn’t support his every action, and he has promised to give money to senators who don’t appear to be 100-percent behind him. Those who face a tight election and sign a resolution condemning the inquiry as “unprecedented and undemocratic” may receive campaign funds; those who have offended him get nothing.

GOP senators benefiting from DDT’s largesse are Cory Gardner (CO), Joni Ernst (IA), David Perdue (GA) and Thom Tillis (NC). DDT also plans to appear at a reception for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s PAC. Receiving no money, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) not only didn’t sign the resolution but also called for a retraction of his tweet comparing impeachment and “lynching” and said that DDT made a “big mistake” asking China to investigate the Bidens. Martha McSally (AZ) was also overlooked in DDT’s gifts because she won’t use WinRed, the DDT-endorsed online fundraising site.

For the 2020 election, 22 Republican senatorial seats are up for election, and the GOP senators on the ballot are behind in fundraising. In the first ten months of the 116th Congress, Jonny Isakson (GA), Mike Enzi (WY), Pat Roberts (KS), and Lamar Alexander (TN) announced that they won’t run for re-election in 2020. About DDT’s donations to some of the GOP senators, Richard Painter, George W. Bush’s top ethics lawyer, tweeted:

“Any other American who offered cash to the jury before a trial would go to prison for felony bribery. But he can get away with it? Criminal.”

DDT and GOP lawmakers sent out a hue and cry for public hearings—until they were announced. Now Republicans use the same decibel level to decry the public hearings that start this week. Follow the money.

November 2, 2019

DDT: Week 145 – More GOP Destruction One Year before 2020 Election

Republicans got their wish: the House voted 232-196, mostly along party lines, for impeachment. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the Intelligence Committee, said that testimony transcripts will be released and open hearings televised as soon as possible. He’s waiting for testimony from eight more witnesses, some of whom have refused. More damaging information against DDT emerged from his possibly extorting Ukraine earlier in a Rudy Giuliani-brokered deal to block support for Robert Mueller’s investigation into Paul Manafort. 

After the death of Abu Bakr Baghdadi from a U.S. raid, ISIS has named a replacement for its leadership, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. The statement also announced the death of Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, al-Baghdadi’s close aide, in a joint U.S.-Kurd operation hours after al-Baghdadi’s death. The new leader is identified as a scholar, warrior, and “emir or war.”

Documents about the FBI search into Brett Kavanagh before his hearings for Supreme Court justice reveal that only superficial information was provided because FBI discoveries were “unquestionably private” and “could subject Judge Kavanaugh and others to harassment or embarrassment in their private lives.” The FBI made the decision about whether the information would “concern the performance of his public duties.”

Kavanaugh may have set the MO for crying during confirmation hearings. Lawrence VanDyke broke down after hearing an evaluation of him from the American Bar Association that he is “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules…. [He] lacks humility, has an “entitlement” temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful.” Republican senators responded by attacking the ABA. 

DDT planned to sign a first-step trade deal with China at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Santiago in mid-November. President Sebastián Piñera has canceled this summit and another one on the environment with other 100 international delegations, however, because of protest demonstrations opposing inequality. China has not agreed with DDT’s view of the deal, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is leading the U.S. delegation to two summits in Bangkok next week.

Macroeconomist Greg Mankiw, chair of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers and the most recent defector of “the party of Trump,” criticized congressional Republicans who “are willing, in the interest of protecting their jobs, to overlook Trump’s misdeeds.” He plans to vote for a “center-left” Democratic presidential candidate to prevent DDT’s reelection.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), a prominent House leader, became the 21st GOP member of Congress, not including Pennsylvania’s Tom Marino who left after two weeks, to announce that he will not run for reelection, compared with just seven Democrats. One of 17 GOP House members forgoing candidacy, Walden is one of five Republicans in a senior committee position to announce retirement. The current GOP bailout loses women and minorities along with the Texas exodus—called the Texodus. One of the two departing GOP women from the 13-female contingent in the House is responsible for GOP’s House candidate recruitment for 2020.

In the 115th Congress, two dozen GOP congressional members quit. Almost 40 percent of the 241 Republicans in office in January 2017 are gone or leaving because of election losses, retirements, or resignations.  

“Impeachment has become a terrible, terrible thorn in the side of the American democracy and the conduct of American government since Watergate,” Ken Starr said before he complained that DDT “is being held to a remarkable standard” in which we are “over-criminalizing the conduct of the business of government.” For four years, Starr investigated Clinton for the House Judiciary Committee and prepared a report that provided the catalyst for Clinton’s the impeachment for lying about oral sex in a civil deposition. Starr accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of having a conflict of interest in wanting to be president although Starr said nothing about Newt Gingrich who was in charge of impeaching Clinton. Since Starr’s resignation from public life, he has supported perpetrators in sexual scandals. 

First DDT wanted to get rid of insurance; now he’s eradicating protections for diseases. Under George W. Bush, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) created Predict, a program to track and research deadly diseases such as Ebola, the H5N1 bird flu, and HIV. In 14 years, Predict cost $207 million to collect over 100,000 samples and find almost 1,000 novel animal-originating viruses. This identification can reduce disease transmission and reveal precursors of a new illness to prevent another pandemic. Researchers warn that a flu like the 1918 outbreak could kill 50 million to 80 million people. As the resurgence of measles demonstrates, diseases know no national borders. Under DDT, the program “collapsed.”

DDT is celebrating National Adoption Month by discriminating against LGBTQ people. HHS proposed rule will allow adoption and foster care agencies to reject LGBTQ families as well as permit them to refuse organizations receiving taxpayer money to refuse to serve LGBTQ people. The rule change would also permit all HHS grant recipients to discriminate, including public health ones such as HIV, STI, and opioid addiction programs. Other programs receiving taxpayer funding permitted to discriminate are youth homelessness, human trafficking, and pre-K education.

In Missouri, Randall Williams, director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, keeps a spreadsheet of the times of menstruation for women who terminated their pregnancy at the state’s one remaining abortion clinic. His information comes from medical records obtained during the state’s annual inspection, including dates of medical procedures. Earlier this year, Missouri passed a law, temporarily blocked in the courts, forbidding abortions after the eighth week of pregnancy with no exception for rape or incest. Missouri refuses to track opioid prescriptions and gun ownership because of privacy. The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement also tracked the length of pregnancies and requests for abortions although a court ordered the department to stop blocking abortions for minors.

DDT promised GOP senators campaign money—specifically Joni Ernst (IA), Cory Gardner (CO), and Thom Tillis (NC)—if they oppose his impeachment. Next week, he’s hosting a fundraiser for David Perdue (GA). Richard Painter, George W. Bush’s lead ethics lawyer, calls it felony bribery.

The Keystone Pipeline, approved by DDT in 2017, spilled 383,000 gallons of oil in North Dakota. 

DDT has given immigration agents access to classified information from U.S. intelligence agencies, but migrants and others denied entry cannot see this evidence used against them.

The U.S. Army refuses to explain why they are discharging immigrant recruits who joined the military with the promise of an expedited path to citizenship.

DDT is again physically threatening “the left” by saying that he has “the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump” who will “play it tough” if they get “to a certain point. Then it would be very bad, very bad.” DDT may not know that today, International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, his State Department called for “an end to violence against media professionals.”

In possibly a new low for Fox, Tucker Carlson blamed the California fires on blacks and LGBTQ people hired by the utility PG&E, saying that the state is “not civilized anymore.”

People are sawing through DDT’s new border walls with a reciprocating saw costing about $100 while others are climbing the wall with makeshift ladders.

DDT promised to save the coal industry, but Murray Energy Corp., the largest underground coal mining company in the U.S., became the ninth coal producer to declare bankruptcy during DDT’s first 145 weeks.

Twitter will ban all ads about political candidates, elections and hot-button policy issues such as abortion and immigration; Mark Zuckerberg plans to make billions from GOP lies in publishing their lying advertisements.

One year from Election Day 2020, some polling:

Only 26 percent of voters think that DDT doesn’t need to comply with subpoenas. 

81 percent of Republicans think that soliciting foreign interference is wrong

Only 26 percent of suburban women, a strong DDT support in 2016, approve of him, and 88 percent of them, ten percent more than in 2016, plan to vote in 2020.

47 percent of likely voters, including 51 percent of independent voters, plan to vote against DDT.  

Only 74 percent of Republicans, down 13 points in three months, approve of DDT.

49 percent of people think that DDT should be impeached and removed from office; 47 percent say not.

38 percent of people approve of DDT while 58 percent disapprove of his job performance.

DDT filed paperwork request the change of his permanent residence from New York to Florida that has no state income tax or inheritance tax. Moving won’t stop the New York lawsuits into his alleged tax fraud. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, “It’s not like Mr. Trump paid taxes here anyway. He’s all yours, Florida.”

A Daily Mail reporter documented the filth and other dismaying conditions of DDT’s Doral resort in Miami. It’s for those with a strong stomach who are not eating while seeing the photographs. Acting chief of staff claimed that of the ten places considered for the G7 Summit in 2020, that the Doral was the “best option.” One shudders to think about the conditions of the other ones.

May 22, 2017

‘Pay for Play,’ Or Women ‘Empowerment’ in Saudi Arabia

The first stop on a world trip by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) garnered big bucks for his daughter Ivanka. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates gave her $134 million for her new initiative to “benefit female entrepreneurs around the globe.” Women Entrepreneurs Fund seems to be the sort of “pay for play” activity that DDT accused Hillary Clinton of running in the Clinton Foundation. Last year DDT was furious that the Clinton Foundation accepted money from Saudi Arabia because they treat “women as slaves” and “kill gays.” He added, “Hillary must return all money from such countries!”

About the countries who just donated money to Ivanka’s fund, DDT said to Clinton during a debate last year:

“You talk about women and women’s rights. These are people that push gays off business — off buildings. These are people that kill women and treat women horribly, and yet you take their money. So I’d like to ask you right now. Why don’t you give back the money that you’ve taken from certain countries that treat certain groups of people so horribly? Why don’t you give back the money. I think it would be a great gesture.”

Of course, this was because the countries had donated to the Clinton Foundation, which did not accept any donations from Saudi Arabia while Clinton was Secretary of State. Donations to DDT’s daughter is just fine.

Scrutiny of Ivanka’s project caused her to claim that the World Bank would manage the investment fund. Yet it is widely known by both domestic and foreign officials that Ivanka has an office in the West Wing, meets with foreign leaders, and advises her father on many presidential matters. Writing her a check can make Ivanka’s father very happy. Ethics experts have objected to Ivanka’s leadership in gathering funds. Kathleen Clark at the Washington University in St. Louis said that it was unclear whether Ivanka had “any governmental authority” to make such requests. Richard Painter, Bush’s ethics czar, declared:

“It absolutely cannot be a private fund. She can’t be at the White House soliciting money for a private foundation. We went through this with Hillary Clinton, who resigned from her foundation when she took a job as secretary of state.”

Presidents and their families can be legally involved in philanthropy, but their efforts are subject to a lengthy approval process to guarantee there is no special access or influence or influence for donors. One example is “Let Girls Learn,” a Michelle and Barack Obama charity that supports educational opportunities for teen girls in developing countries. In 2016 the World Bank invested $2.5 billion in the project, stating that the empowerment of girls was “central” to the group’s development efforts. Earlier this year, DDT’s White House sent a memo to Peace Corps employees ending the program. After public outcry, a White House official indicated that it would continue the work—just not the name or probably any connection to the Obamas. Yet Jennifer Rigg, executive director of Global Campaign for Education-US (GCE-US), said, “We haven’t seen any new commitments, partners, or projects of Let Girls Learn announced since the start of the current administration.” DDT’s new budget provides deep cuts for Peace Corps–as well as everything else except the military.

During Clinton’s campaign, DDT attacked her for connections to Goldman Sachs, which is now deeply entrenched in the White House with at least six high-level officials. Dina Powell, who headed up the investment bank’s project to provide business education for women throughout the world, 10,000 Women, is working with Ivanka on this fund-raising. Ivanka’s chief of staff is Julie Radford, previous leader of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Business initiative, which invested in small U.S. businesses. Information about Ivanka’s project is very sketchy, and Dan Primack has several questions:

  • Do these investments need a financial return, or are they are a grant or loan?
  • Who is on the investment committee, and will they get paid?
  • How are the people behind the project actively soliciting contributions from private institutions and foreign governments, and has White House counsel signed off on the project?
  • Will the fund get capital from U.S. state pension funds, similar to other private equity funds?
  • How will the fund balance interests of U.S. companies that might receive direct competition from foreign startups that receive investment?

In her speech about women’s empowerment in Saudi Arabia, Ivanka glowed about how well the nation treats women, saying that the country’s “progress” in its treatment of women “is very encouraging.” Journalists were asked to leave the room before problems of women’s inequality could be brought up, such as women not having the right to drive, go anywhere alone, or be included in public life. U.S. officials also ignored these issues. Women reporters were banned from most of Ivanka’s event on women’s empowerment with Princess Reema bint Bandar.

In Saudi Arabia, adult women must have permission from a male guardian to travel, marry, work, and have access healthcare. Without a male relative, they also struggle with transactions such as renting an apartment or filing legal claims. Saudi women who attempt the restrictions of male control are jailed. Restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia extend to their garb. Even most foreign visitors—although not Melania and Ivanka Trump—are required to wear floor-length black dresses—no pants—that cover all the body including arms and legs. A head scarf should cover their head and hide their hair. More conservative women wear veils that also cover their faces, save for a slit that makes their eyes visible. In the past, First Ladies of the U.S. have dressed modestly but not in conformance with the mandated dress for Saudi women. DDT was highly critical when Michelle Obama failed to wear a scarf, accusing her of creating enemies.

Although 38 women were elected in December 2015 for a total of 3,159 municipal positions, Saudi Arabian councils are segregated by sex: women participate only through a video link in a separate room. Women are also denied the opportunities given males in sports: women were not allowed to attend or participate in national tournaments or state-organized sports leagues until last summer when four women represented Saudi Arabia in the Rio Olympics.

Aziza al-Yousef, a 58-year-old activist, said, “If Ivanka is interested in women empowerment and human rights, she should see activists, and not just officials.” As Ivanka wrote in her 2009 book, The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life, “Perception is more important than reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true.”

The donation to Ivanka Trump raises a few question:

  • Is it just a coincidence that Ivanka gets $134 million at the same time that Saudi Arabia is able to buy at least $110 billion in lethal weapons from the United States and she travels to the country as “assistant to the president of the United States”?
  • Is it now acceptable that Ivanka receive at least $134 million from countries that her father describes as abusers of women and killers of gays?
  • And is $134 million enough for Ivanka to describe herself as an “advocate for the education & empowerment of women & girls” while ignoring the donor that lacks these values?

Time will tell.

February 18, 2017

DDT: Week Four – Part 2

The news from the past week wasn’t all bad for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Some of it will make life more difficult and dangerous for the people in the United States.

Two-State Solution?: A future Palestinian state may have completely disappeared this week as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said during a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he doesn’t care whether there is a two-state or a one-state solution. “I like the one that both parties like,” DDT said. The statement conflicts with a half-century of work for a two-state solution although he followed—albeit very mildly—the five-decade policy of presidential opposition to Israeli settlement on Palestinian land. The usual bombastic DDT was quite mild with Netanyahu, especially when he said, “I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit.”

DDT also didn’t say he supported moving the U.S. embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a city that is partly Palestinian, but he has appointed David M. Friedman as Ambassador to Israel. Friedman has openly said that supporters of a two-state solution are worse than Nazi collaborators. He strongly supports the Israeli seizure of privately-owned Palestinian land and has financially invested in the illegal settlement enterprise in the Israeli-occupied, Palestinian-owned West Bank where Palestinians live under a half-century 50-year military occupation. DDT and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, along with Kushner’s family who are on the organization’s founding board of trustees, have donated to American Friends of Beit El Institutions, a group opposed to the two-state resolution. Kushner is in charge of peace negotiations between Palestine and Israel. “There’s no need to worry about the First Amendment,” said Friedman about the Muslim ban when he claims that immigrants applying for entry to the U.S. don’t have “the rights of free speech and privacy.”

DDT’s First Big Bill—Supporting Oil Industry: One in a series of regulatory rollback bills, a regulation requiring oil and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments is the first to fall under the hatchet of DDT’s signature. The oil and gas industry, including Secretary of State and Exxon-wealthy Rex Tillerson, is delighted because they can hide their business in Russia. DDT claimed that the bill will bring back jobs, showing that he has no idea what he has signed. He had the same problem with the order he signed that allows financial advisors to steal from investors. In his written response to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson acknowledged:

“Part of my job…will be to make sure that because American companies, NGOs and development relief efforts are expected to play by the rules and abide by [the Cardin-Lugar rule]…and other laws, that foreign companies or investors do not get an unfair advantage by cheating or keeping to a lower standard.”

Now the oil industry–and Tillerson–will use its deep swamp to easily hide bribery from foreign countries.

GOP Promotion of Coal Mining Waste in Streams: In its enthusiasm to overturn everything that President Obama did to help people, Congress is using the Congressional Review Act to destroy the nation. The right-to-bribery oil bill was the first; the second is to allow coal companies to dump their debris in waterways. DDT said he will save “many thousands American jobs” by making water unusable. The plan doesn’t increase the number of jobs: it just allows miners to continue burying streams by blowing off the tops of mountains, causing higher rates of cancer and heart disease. Thus far, Appalachia has seen 2,000 miles of streams ruined; the new law will allow another 6,000 miles of streams to suffer from the debris. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said, “If you want to help miners, then come address their health and safety and their pension program.” There was no evidence that this help for miners will occur.

Guns for the Mentally Disabled: The next time that the NRA speaks about a high profile mass shooting, someone will say, “The problem isn’t guns, it’s mental illness. We just need to keep guns out of the wrong hands.” Four Democrats and an Independent joined GOP senators to reverse an Obama regulation that referred a small number of people to the FBI background check system to prevent them from buying guns. This population is composed of people applying for Social Security disability benefits because of a mental condition and incapable of managing their own finances. President Obama used George W. Bush’s National Instant Criminal Background Check Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 for the regulation. DDT will most likely sign this bill next week.

Russia Feeling Brave?:  The country’s recent deployment of a ground-launched cruise missile violates the Cold War-era arms control treaty. A Russian intelligence ship was also seen 30 miles from the Naval Submarine Base in New London (CT), 18 miles out in international waters. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) has expressed concern about the ship in connection with Russia’s firing the missile and the Russian aircraft buzzing a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea. He tweeted, “Russia is acting like it has a permission slip to expand influence, test limits of reach. Questions are obvious: does it, and if so, why?”

House Oversight Committee Rejection of Flynn’s Possible Treason: Top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), said that more information about former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s talks with the Russians is upcoming and that these conversations are not covered by executive privilege. Flynn would have to answer questions in congressional investigations if Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) changed his mind about not investigating Flynn’s possible acts of treason. The GOP House just wants to “move on.” Chaffetz is now focused on investigating Sid the Science Kid. GOP senators appear to have more interest in investigations, but they have caved on issues before. Chaffetz did ask DDT for an accounting of security measures during his talk with Abe at Mar-a-Lago. (A few months back, Chaffetz said that he could never look his daughters in the face if he support Donald Trump.)

Immigration Abuse: DDT’s Muslim ban has been blocked, but border agents are still targeting people protected by the Dreamer act, falsifying records to keep innocent people in detention, targeting people from countries other than the “Muslim ban,” lying to get travelers to give up visas and green cards, hiding people in detention, detaining U.S. citizens who work for the government, etc. The new immigration tactics will vastly increase domestic abuse after officials detained an undocumented woman at the El Paso County Courthouse when she got a protective order against her abuser. In the past, the United States had given victims of domestic violence the option of protection through the U Visa if they cooperated with law enforcement. The officials picked up the woman on a tip from her abuser after he was arrested, creating a practice giving great control to an abusive person. DDT said he had promised “to get the bad ones.”

The Return of J. Edgar Hoover Tactics: DDT may be keeping dossiers on journalists, congressional members, and other influential people who don’t agree with him. White House reporter April Ryan stated that Omarosa Manigault, White House communications official “physically intimidated” Ryan as well as making verbal threats including the assertion that DDT officials had collected “dossiers” of negative information on her and several other journalists. White supremacist and DDT’s chief strategist Steve Bannon has asked people to dig for dirt on at least four Democrats who Bannon worries about participating in the 2020 presidential election: Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Murphy wrote that the White House “scouring my background” is a “compliment.”

japan-prime-ministerOne piece of humor from this past week was the look on Japanese Prime Minister Abe after an enforced 19-second handshake with DDT. Check the video out! People have started paying more attention to DDT’s handshakes than what he says. For example, the one with his Supreme Court Justice nominee made Neil Gorsuch look particularly pained. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was prepared: he strong-armed DDT and quickly took his hand back.

trump-to-great

You could also have gotten the above DDT inauguration print from the Library of Congress for only $16.95, but it’s been pulled—maybe because of the typo? The Internet, however, never forgets!

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