Saudi affair exposes Trumpism’s moral apathy: Simply, Trump Has No Morals At All

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Saudi affair exposes Trumpism’s moral apathy

AP: Trump compares Saudi, Kavanaugh accusations

Washington (CNN) Donald Trump has dug a moral hole through the middle of America’s foreign policy — and he’s not sorry at all.

The President’s reaction to the apparent murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul offers the clearest evidence yet of his turn away from a foreign policy rooted in universal human values.
The crisis is instead showcasing Trump’s radical form of “America First” realpolitik, his promise not to infringe other nations’ sovereignty with lectures on human rights and his trust in the word of autocrats.
In his unrepentant conduct of American foreign policy, Trump is lurching from a path taken by every president since World War II, who all believed to various degrees that American leadership was needed to create a world safe for democracy, open commerce and freedom.
And it will be seen around the world as an unmistakable sign that there is no cost for heinous behavior — after all it happened days after a US-based journalist for a top American newspaper was apparently killed before his body was reportedly chopped up in an official Saudi government building.
Washington often failed to honor its values — in the carpet bombing of Cambodia, for instance, or its support for Arab dictators. And many in the Middle East saw post-9/11 foreign policy as deeply hypocritical.
But for 70 years, the United States has been a beacon for dissidents in totalitarian nations, acting as a guarantor of democracy and peace in Europe and Northeast Asia. It waged a Cold War to defeat Communism, enhancing its claims of benevolent foreign policy leadership.
It is that legacy of moral clarity that the Trump administration is burning in the mystery over what happened to Khashoggi.
Three days ago, Trump was promising “severe” punishments for Saudi Arabia after the journalist vanished, in an episode that flouts every conventional American principle on how governments should treat their people.
But now, the President has shifted his tone and is abetting the kingdom’s evolving narrative on Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Jarring footage meanwhile of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo beaming in photo-ops Tuesday alongside King Salman and ruthless son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, encapsulated a closing of ranks with Riyadh.
The President told The Associated Press that blaming Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s disappearance was another case of “guilty until proven innocent” an echo of his rhetoric concerning the sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
It all looked like an administration more concerned with insulating its relationship with the Saudi royals, key players in its effort to squeeze Iran, than seeking answers about what happened to Khashoggi.

Buying the Saudi story

Pompeo’s spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the secretary of state had thanked the King for ordering “a thorough, transparent and timely investigation” into Khashoggi’s disappearance. While body language and official statements do not convey everything that goes on behind the scenes, Pompeo’s demeanor hardly suggested a rebuke was delivered.
His trip only compounded impressions created by Trump, who gave credence to shifting Saudi denials of involvement and acted as a PR agent for the king, on Monday, relaying his comment that “rogue killers” were to blame.
On Tuesday, Trump, who sources told CNN was frustrated with news coverage about the Khashoggi episode, bought into an explanation offered by the crown prince, who many experts believe knew what was in store for Khashoggi if he did not order his elimination himself.
“Just spoke with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate,” Trump tweeted. “Answers will be forthcoming shortly.”
Three sources familiar with the case say the Saudi mission to interrogate and possibly abduct Khashoggi was organized by a high-ranking officer with the main Saudi intelligence service. It’s unclear whether the crown prince authorized either contingency but CNN previously reported that the operation could not have happened without his direct knowledge.

Saudi response fits Trump’s view of sovereignty

The President’s handling of the Khashoggi case epitomizes the doctrine of individual national sovereignty he laid out at the UN General Assembly.
“Whatever those values may be and they have been in the past in terms of foreign policy, they are no longer important and he has made that very clear,” said Ivo Daalder, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, co-author of a study of Trump’s foreign policy, “The Empty Throne,” published on Tuesday.
“His basic view is what you do is your problem as long as you leave us alone,” Daalder said, maintaining Trump was closer to China’s worldview in this context than a traditional American one.
Trump has left little doubt that in his deal-driven ideology is designed to leverage financial wealth and will not be deflected by human rights concerns.
“We are not here to lecture — we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship,” Trump said during his first foreign trip — to Saudi Arabia — last year.
Then, in a revealing interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday the President frankly said that he didn’t want to sanction Saudi Arabia because it could cost firms like Boeing and Raytheon billions in arms deals and cost jobs.
In the same interview, he indicated that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s repression would not disrupt their relationship — that he had previously compared to a love affair.
“Let it be an embrace. Let it be whatever it is to get the job done,” Trump said.
And he hinted that as long as Russian President Vladimir Putin did not kill his opponents on US soil, he would look the other way.
“I rely on them, it’s not in our country,” he said.
While Trump cozies up to autocrats and strongmen like Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, Kim, Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and MBS, he has insulted leaders of American allies. He has called journalists “the enemy of the people.”
Critics believe such rhetoric has offered license to repressive leaders in places like Turkey, Russia and the Philippines — not to mention MBS, whose recklessness has turned into a political embarrassment for the US.
Mona Charen, a conservative commentator, said on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” that Trump had taken realism to extremes and that Khashoggi’s case was so “flagrant” it cried out for US moral leadership.
“The world is full of bad actors and sometimes you have to deal with them and that is the world we live in. But what isn’t acceptable is an attempt to whitewash what they are, an attempt to let them off the hook,” she said.

Broken trust

Cooper dissects Trump's 'rogue' theory

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Cooper dissects Trump’s ‘rogue’ theory 05:07
Trump views criticism of his approach as the naive complaints of a political establishment that led America into nearly two decades of foreign wars and disdained the voters that put him in office in 2016.
He thinks the United States has been a soft touch, letting its values get in the way of maximizing its power while savvier nations have taken advantage while getting fat on its generosity — see NATO.
Even in his own party, there are those who believe his abandonment of American core principles and global leadership is catastrophic.
“There isn’t enough money in the world to purchase back our credibility on human rights and the way nations should conduct themselves,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said in an interview on CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday.
What Trump does next will decide whether Washington is able to credibly criticize strongmen like Putin and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, he said.
“We can’t say anything about that if we allow Saudi Arabia to do it and all we do is a diplomatic slap on the wrist,” Rubio said.
A senior administration official told CNN’s Barbara Starr that the decision on what to do with the Saudis may be the “the most consequential” of Trump’s presidency, since it will dictate whether US military leaders and diplomats can maintain a moral high ground on human rights.
That’s unlikely to change Trump’s mind, since any rupture with the Saudis would endanger his effort to destabilize and pressure Iran.
He is relying on Saudi Arabia to release more oil onto the market to meet demand after pressuring allies to stop imports from Iran.
Riyadh of course has considerable influence on the state of the global economy and therefore Trump’s own prospects of re-election with its power to engineer spikes in global oil prices.
In the longer term, foreign policy traditionalists worry about what Trump’s ideological turn means for the American-led world order.
“The order in essence was based in trust. People had to trust the United States to ultimately do the right thing. You were willing to give it room to fail and to make mistakes but then to come back,” Daalder, a former US ambassador to NATO, said.
“He has fundamentally broken that trust.”

If The Saudi’s Killed A Journalist: So Now What? Answer, Nothing

If The Saudi’s Killed A Journalist: So Now What? Answer, Nothing 

 

In this article today I am not trying to be cold-blooded or hate filled, I’m trying to be honest. Here in the States you have your typical politicians like Lindsey Graham wagging their tongues about “there will be hell to pay if the Saudi government killed this man.” I almost never side with Donald Trump but I do sort of agree with him on this issue. Reality is that many governments kill people every year. How many Journalist’s die in the line of duty every year? The Organization Reporters Without Borders says that 65 Reporters were killed in the line of duty in 2017 plus many more were imprisoned. He was not a Reporter but do you remember the American college kid who tore down a poster in North Korea and spent a year or so in one of their prisons only to be sent back home in a coma where he died a couple of weeks later? Folks, nothing real happened to North Korea because of this because mans murder. Mr. Trump was trying to strike a deal with N.K. President (Dictator) Kim Jung Un to get rid of their Nuclear Weapons. Which was/is more important, one life, or not having a thin-skinned ego maniac with is finger on a Nuke button? By the way, I am speaking of Mr. Kim, not the one that is in Our White House.

 

Now, let us get back to the murder of the Saudi/American Journalist who was murdered inside the Saudi Embassy in Turkey. Here are some realities for us all to think about. Mr. Trump is under pressure to cancel a multi-billion dollar weapons deal with the Saudi government because of them killing this man. Would this action by our President be a wise decision? Would it teach “them” a lesson? My answer is no, it would not. In fact if anything it could/would shift the balance of power on this planet. Here is why I am saying this. First it would shift the Saudi government toward the Chinese. If we do not sell these weapons to the Saudi’s the Chinese would be falling all over themselves to sell weapons to the Saudi government. Honestly I believe that it would be the Chinese and not the Russians who would fill the gap because the Russian government has aligned themselves with the Shiite Nations, mainly Iran and as you know, the Sunni Saudi’s are the enemy of Shiite Islam. China and Russia are allies of each other so it would be more crushing to the U.S. if China filled our void. Plus there is the reality that canceling this contract would put many American workers out of a job which would be felt in the voting booth next month.

 

Think about these things please, what if the Russians and the Chinese governments held complete sway over all of the Middle-East, over all of OPEC? What if China grew close to the Saudi Royal Family by such things as massive weapons sells? China is already building the largest refinery in the world in the Saudi Kingdom. If the U.S Government steps away from the Saudi Royal Family how long will it be before the Saudi’s decide to take their oil off of the dollar standard and put it on the Chinese Yen? If the Saudi’s did this I am sure that the rest of OPEC and the Arab world would very quickly follow suite. Think about it, the dollar not being the “world standard” currency. What if OPEC decided to only take the Yen as trading currency, and decided to either not sell any oil to the U.S. at all, or if they did, only at twice or three times the market rate? What would this do to the U.S. economy, to your job, to your living standard? In 2008 during that “depression” the U.S. economy backed off about 2%, what would things here in the States look like if our economy fell off by 10, 15 or 20%? I am just trying to be honest, I don’t like many realities in our world yet if we decide to change some of the current realities, we must be very careful about the new realities that bloom.

 

 

3 Theories Behind Nikki Haley’s Shocking Resignation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

3 theories behind Nikki Haley’s shocking resignation

Washington (CNN)In a political world seemingly incapable of being shocked, the resignation of United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley on Tuesday did just that.

The most common reaction upon hearing the news, which Axios’ Jonathan Swan first reported, was “WHAT????” (A senior State Department official told CNN that Haley had only told her staff about her resignation Tuesday morning. Another source familiar with the matter said Haley’s resignation caught national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by surprise.)
And that reaction was quickly followed by “WHY???”
The answer to the second question is now the big story. And, in truth, we just don’t totally know yet why Haley, who seemed to be one of the few Trump administration officials able to stay in the good graces of Trump, the international community and establishment Republicans all at once, would decide to simply (and suddenly) call it quits.
Trump, seeking to minimize any damage to himself from the surprise resignation, sat down with his outgoing UN ambassador shortly after the news broke and insisted he a) knew about her plans to leave last week and b) she had made the decision because she had served for two years (actually one year and seven months) and felt like it was time to go. (Haley will leave her job at the end of the year, Trump announced Tuesday.)
“It’s been eight years of intense times,” Haley said of her time as governor of South Carolina and her time in the administration. “And I am a believer in term limits.” She added: “I don’t have anything set on where I am going to go.”
And that might be true! But, the fact that neither Bolton nor Pompeo had any inkling that Haley was preparing to resign casts some doubt on the this-was-all-part-of-the-plan explanation. And, losing an Indian-American woman four weeks before an election and on the heels of a very contentious Supreme Court fight that divided deeply along gender lines suggests is far less than ideal timing for Trump.
So, what else MIGHT be beyond Haley’s shock resignation? Here are a few theories:

1. She got edged out by the likes of Bolton and Pompeo

It’s no secret that the national security adviser and secretary of state, respectively, are foreign policy hard-liners. And that while Haley was outwardly very tough within the UN (and the Trump administration), she was reportedly a voice urging more moderation — and toeing the preferred line of establishment Republicans — in private. While Haley was, without question, a star of the first year of Trump’s administration, she did clash with him at times over, among other things, Russia. During a TV appearance in April, Haley announced the US would impose new sanctions on Russia. Trump insisted no such sanctions had been put in place and the White House blamed the misunderstanding on a “momentary confusion” on Haley’s part. She quickly responded that she did not “get confused.”
With Bolton and Pompeo as the new shiny objects in the Trump Cabinet, Haley may have seen the writing on the wall — and decided to leave on her own terms (before she is pushed).

2. She needed to make some money

Haley has spent a long time in elected (or appointed office). Prior to being elected governor in 2010, she spent six years as a member of the state House. Those are not hugely lucrative jobs. In 2015, the year before she was tapped to serve in the Trump administration, she and her husband reported an annual income of just over $170,000. In 2014, that number was closer to $190,000. And in 2013, Haley and her husband, Michael, reported making $270,000.
According to Haley’s 2018 financial disclosure, she reported a significant number of outstanding debts, including somewhere between $25,000 and $65,000 in credit cards, a mortgage in excess of $1 million and a line of credit between $250,000 and $500,000.

Trump's big announcement on Nikki Haley

Trump’s big announcement on Nikki Haley 02:04
With one child in college and another headed there in the next few years, Haley could well have been lured by the seven-figure salaries available to someone with a resume like hers in the private sector.
(Also worth noting: Over the weekend, Citizens Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a government ethics watchdog, requested an investigation into Haley’s acceptance of seven free flights from South Carolina businessmen in 2017.)

3. She wants to run for president

There’s very little doubt that Haley has her eye on the White House at some point in the future. (Doubt me? Haley brought her most trusted political adviser — and pollster — Jon Lerner to the UN with her.) Knowing that her resignation would set off talk of a potential primary challenge to Trump in 2020, Haley laughed off the possibility during her comments on Tuesday — making clear she plans to campaign for Trump in two years time.
In truth, Haley is too smart to run against Trump in 2020. While Trump’s approval ratings are in bad shape with the broad electorate, he is among the most popular Republican presidents ever among Republican voters. No one is beating Trump in a primary in 2020 — not Haley, not anyone.
BUT, just because Haley isn’t running in 2020 doesn’t mean she isn’t running. Remember that whether Trump wins or loses in 2020, the 2024 Republican nomination will be open. Yes, Vice President Mike Pence is a likely candidate — particularly if Trump wins a second term in 2020. And he will be the Trump candidate. But what if there is a desire for a candidate who has OK relations with Trump world but also is not seen as totally and completely aligned with a former president who was, to put it mildly, a non-traditional Republican candidate and president?
Enter Haley! She will have spent almost two years serving Trump, yes, but, by the time 2024 comes around, she will be six years removed from the Trump White House. Which might be a very appealing thing for Republicans.

The Latest: Haley departure raises question about Trump team

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE RACINE JOURNAL TIMES)

 

The Latest: Haley departure raises question about Trump team

  • Updated 
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the resignation of U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley (all times local):

6:35 p.m.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s abrupt announcement that she is resigning has raised fresh questions about President Donald Trump’s team.

The news has blindsided some key U.S. allies and many congressional Republicans involved in foreign policy matters.

It comes less than a month before congressional elections, thwarting White House efforts to project an image of stability. The loss of one of the highest-profile women in the administration comes at a time when women’s votes are being vigorously pursued.

Trump says he’s narrowed down a short list of five people to replace Haley. Former White House adviser Dina Powell is among those on the short list.

———

6:25 p.m.

Ivanka Trump says she won’t replace Nikki Haley as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations despite her father, President Donald Trump, saying she’d be “incredible” in the role.

In a tweet Tuesday evening, the presidential senior adviser and elder daughter said her father will “nominate a formidable replacement for Ambassador Haley.”

She adds: “That replacement will not be me.”

Trump and Haley announced Tuesday that she will be departing the administration at the end of the year. The timing of the announcement was surprising, coming just weeks ahead of the midterm elections.

Trump told reporters that selecting his daughter would spark concerns about nepotism. But he also said there is no one more competent in the world for the role than Ivanka.

The post requires Senate confirmation.

Roe V Wade Gets Struck Down In 2019: Now Where Do We Go As A Country?

Roe V Wade Gets Struck Down In 2019: Now Where Do We Go As A Country?

 

If, big if, but if the Republicans can hold onto the Congress and the Senate, then Roe V Wade will be over turned in 2019. I believe that this is the only way that the Republicans could get their votes on the Supreme Court. Thus their goal is to rule via the Supreme Court over the next 20-30 years of life in America. But my question is a simple one. When all abortions in the U.S. are ruled to be murder, how is our society going to respond? I believe that the biggest single reason that the Democrats lost the so-called Christian Right, is the abortion issue. This has got to be the only reason that the “Christian Right” would stay hooked to an habitual liar, fraud and thief like Donald Trump, his Family and fellow soon to be felons. Folks if this scenario I mentioned did happen, (with or without the help of Nannie Vlad), then the other will soon follow. But no, I do no expect the Fake News Fraud-in-Chief to ever spend a real day in a prison or ever be a felon, step #3 is good ole dependable hypocrite Mikie to give out full pardons to all the good -ole-boys.

 

Democrats like Nancy Pelosi in their ego actually believe that we the Sheep want them back in Office, no, no, no, you angry old lady, we just want the Hell rid of Donald Trump and his group of habitual lying kiss-asses that surround him. If the Democrats do win the Congress back in November and they then are stupid enough to vote this hateful Relic to lead them again, they deserve their own dirt. Personally, I believe that every single person who is in any level of Politics reaches the age of 70, they must retire. If you can Constitutionally mandate age discrimination as is done in the minimum age of a President, why should we not have a maximum age. If your 70th birthday would occur while you are still in Office, then you can not be a candidate for that Office. There has to be a limit somewhere in order to try to put a cap on some of this madness.

Off Color Humor Poem On: The Vanity Of A Man

The Vanity Of A Man

 

The pride I have has never been to the excessive level of vanity

Though my appearance is great and my achievements historic

For one to be vain they would have no real value unlike myself

I am never hollow and worthlessness, who does not know my face

I cannot be excessive in my pride, the whole world bows at my feet

 

Vanity is something worthless, trivial and pointless, unlike me

Egotism, vainglory and pride they are a sham without reality

Arrogance, self-love, conceitedness, who could say that of me

The Wall I build between us is because you are unworthy of me

How could your off-color eyes and mind understand my greatness

 

I have heard some dare to say that they have warned you about me

A Billionaire cannot be sleazy unlike the poor who always sit and bitch

Turn your eyes away from those who walk their life in vain endeavors

A man should never live their life in vanity manifested in their wickedness

I am a most stable genius, a King, certainly vanity does not ever taint me

Donald Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes And Outright Tax Fraud

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes
as He Reaped Riches From His Father

The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.

President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help.

But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.

Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.

These maneuvers met with little resistance from the Internal Revenue Service, The Times found. The president’s parents, Fred and Mary Trump, transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children, which could have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55 percent tax rate then imposed on gifts and inheritances.

The Trumps paid a total of $52.2 million, or about 5 percent, tax records show.

The president declined repeated requests over several weeks to comment for this article. But a lawyer for Mr. Trump, Charles J. Harder, provided a written statement on Monday, one day after The Times sent a detailed description of its findings. “The New York Times’s allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 percent false, and highly defamatory,” Mr. Harder said. “There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. The facts upon which The Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate.”

Mr. Harder sought to distance Mr. Trump from the tax strategies used by his family, saying the president had delegated those tasks to relatives and tax professionals. “President Trump had virtually no involvement whatsoever with these matters,” he said. “The affairs were handled by other Trump family members who were not experts themselves and therefore relied entirely upon the aforementioned licensed professionals to ensure full compliance with the law.”

[Read the full statement]

The president’s brother, Robert Trump, issued a statement on behalf of the Trump family:

“Our dear father, Fred C. Trump, passed away in June 1999. Our beloved mother, Mary Anne Trump, passed away in August 2000. All appropriate gift and estate tax returns were filed, and the required taxes were paid. Our father’s estate was closed in 2001 by both the Internal Revenue Service and the New York State tax authorities, and our mother’s estate was closed in 2004. Our family has no other comment on these matters that happened some 20 years ago, and would appreciate your respecting the privacy of our deceased parents, may God rest their souls.”

The Times’s findings raise new questions about Mr. Trump’s refusal to release his income tax returns, breaking with decades of practice by past presidents. According to tax experts, it is unlikely that Mr. Trump would be vulnerable to criminal prosecution for helping his parents evade taxes, because the acts happened too long ago and are past the statute of limitations. There is no time limit, however, on civil fines for tax fraud.

The findings are based on interviews with Fred Trump’s former employees and advisers and more than 100,000 pages of documents describing the inner workings and immense profitability of his empire. They include documents culled from public sources — mortgages and deeds, probate records, financial disclosure reports, regulatory records and civil court files.

The investigation also draws on tens of thousands of pages of confidential records — bank statements, financial audits, accounting ledgers, cash disbursement reports, invoices and canceled checks. Most notably, the documents include more than 200 tax returns from Fred Trump, his companies and various Trump partnerships and trusts. While the records do not include the president’s personal tax returns and reveal little about his recent business dealings at home and abroad, dozens of corporate, partnership and trust tax returns offer the first public accounting of the income he received for decades from various family enterprises.

[11 takeaways from The Times’s investigation]

What emerges from this body of evidence is a financial biography of the 45th president fundamentally at odds with the story Mr. Trump has sold in his books, his TV shows and his political life. In Mr. Trump’s version of how he got rich, he was the master deal maker who broke free of his father’s “tiny” outer-borough operation and parlayed a single $1 million loan from his father (“I had to pay him back with interest!”) into a $10 billion empire that would slap the Trump name on hotels, high-rises, casinos, airlines and golf courses the world over. In Mr. Trump’s version, it was always his guts and gumption that overcame setbacks. Fred Trump was simply a cheerleader.

“I built what I built myself,” Mr. Trump has said, a narrative that was long amplified by often-credulous coverage from news organizations, including The Times.

Certainly a handful of journalists and biographers, notably Wayne Barrett, Gwenda Blair, David Cay Johnston and Timothy L. O’Brien, have challenged this story, especially the claim of being worth $10 billion. They described how Mr. Trump piggybacked off his father’s banking connections to gain a foothold in Manhattan real estate. They poked holes in his go-to talking point about the $1 million loan, citing evidence that he actually got $14 million. They told how Fred Trump once helped his son make a bond payment on an Atlantic City casino by buying $3.5 million in casino chips.

But The Times’s investigation of the Trump family’s finances is unprecedented in scope and precision, offering the first comprehensive look at the inherited fortune and tax dodges that guaranteed Donald J. Trump a gilded life. The reporting makes clear that in every era of Mr. Trump’s life, his finances were deeply intertwined with, and dependent on, his father’s wealth.

Donald J. Trump accumulated wealth throughout his childhood thanks to his father, Fred C. Trump.

By age 3, Mr. Trump was earning $200,000 a year in today’s dollars from his father’s empire. He was a millionaire by age 8. By the time he was 17, his father had given him part ownership of a 52-unit apartment building. Soon after Mr. Trump graduated from college, he was receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year from his father. The money increased with the years, to more than $5 million annually in his 40s and 50s.

Fred Trump’s real estate empire was not just scores of apartment buildings. It was also a mountain of cash, tens of millions of dollars in profits building up inside his businesses, banking records show. In one six-year span, from 1988 through 1993, Fred Trump reported $109.7 million in total income, now equivalent to $210.7 million. It was not unusual for tens of millions in Treasury bills and certificates of deposit to flow through his personal bank accounts each month.

Fred Trump was relentless and creative in finding ways to channel this wealth to his children. He made Donald not just his salaried employee but also his property manager, landlord, banker and consultant. He gave him loan after loan, many never repaid. He provided money for his car, money for his employees, money to buy stocks, money for his first Manhattan offices and money to renovate those offices. He gave him three trust funds. He gave him shares in multiple partnerships. He gave him $10,000 Christmas checks. He gave him laundry revenue from his buildings.

Much of his giving was structured to sidestep gift and inheritance taxes using methods tax experts described to The Times as improper or possibly illegal. Although Fred Trump became wealthy with help from federal housing subsidies, he insisted that it was manifestly unfair for the government to tax his fortune as it passed to his children. When he was in his 80s and beginning to slide into dementia, evading gift and estate taxes became a family affair, with Donald Trump playing a crucial role, interviews and newly obtained documents show.

The line between legal tax avoidance and illegal tax evasion is often murky, and it is constantly being stretched by inventive tax lawyers. There is no shortage of clever tax avoidance tricks that have been blessed by either the courts or the I.R.S. itself. The richest Americans almost never pay anything close to full freight. But tax experts briefed on The Times’s findings said the Trumps appeared to have done more than exploit legal loopholes. They said the conduct described here represented a pattern of deception and obfuscation, particularly about the value of Fred Trump’s real estate, that repeatedly prevented the I.R.S. from taxing large transfers of wealth to his children.

“The theme I see here through all of this is valuations: They play around with valuations in extreme ways,” said Lee-Ford Tritt, a University of Florida law professor and a leading expert in gift and estate tax law. “There are dramatic fluctuations depending on their purpose.”

The manipulation of values to evade taxes was central to one of the most important financial events in Donald Trump’s life. In an episode never before revealed, Mr. Trump and his siblings gained ownership of most of their father’s empire on Nov. 22, 1997, a year and a half before Fred Trump’s death. Critical to the complex transaction was the value put on the real estate. The lower its value, the lower the gift taxes. The Trumps dodged hundreds of millions in gift taxes by submitting tax returns that grossly undervalued the properties, claiming they were worth just $41.4 million.

The same set of buildings would be sold off over the next decade for more than 16 times that amount.

The most overt fraud was All County Building Supply & Maintenance, a company formed by the Trump family in 1992. All County’s ostensible purpose was to be the purchasing agent for Fred Trump’s buildings, buying everything from boilers to cleaning supplies. It did no such thing, records and interviews show. Instead All County siphoned millions of dollars from Fred Trump’s empire by simply marking up purchases already made by his employees. Those millions, effectively untaxed gifts, then flowed to All County’s owners — Donald Trump, his siblings and a cousin. Fred Trump then used the padded All County receipts to justify bigger rent increases for thousands of tenants.

After this article was published on Tuesday, a spokesman for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance said the agency was “reviewing the allegations” and “vigorously pursuing all appropriate areas of investigation.”

All told, The Times documented 295 streams of revenue that Fred Trump created over five decades to enrich his son. In most cases his four other children benefited equally. But over time, as Donald Trump careened from one financial disaster to the next, his father found ways to give him substantially more money, records show. Even so, in 1990, according to previously secret depositions, Mr. Trump tried to have his father’s will rewritten in a way that Fred Trump, alarmed and angered, feared could result in his empire’s being used to bail out his son’s failing businesses.

Of course, the story of how Donald Trump got rich cannot be reduced to handouts from his father. Before he became president, his singular achievement was building the brand of Donald J. Trump, Self-Made Billionaire, a brand so potent it generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue through TV shows, books and licensing deals.

Constructing that image required more than Fred Trump’s money. Just as important were his son’s preternatural marketing skills and always-be-closing competitive hustle. While Fred Trump helped finance the accouterments of wealth, Donald Trump, master self-promoter, spun them into a seductive narrative. Fred Trump’s money, for example, helped build Trump Tower, the talisman of privilege that established his son as a major player in New York. But Donald Trump recognized and exploited the iconic power of Trump Tower as a primary stage for both “The Apprentice” and his presidential campaign.

The biggest payday he ever got from his father came long after Fred Trump’s death. It happened quietly, without the usual Trumpian news conference, on May 4, 2004, when Mr. Trump and his siblings sold off the empire their father had spent 70 years assembling with the dream that it would never leave his family.

Donald Trump’s cut: $177.3 million, or $236.2 million in today’s dollars.

I Am A Conservative Christian And The Evangelical Leaders Do Not Speak For Me

 

I was already planning to write an article today about the so-called Christian Right and Republican Politics and I was just putting the pieces together in my mind on how to write it. Then just before I clicked over to this platform I checked in once more to the Google news site that I read every day and found the embers on which to start my fire.  The top Google News story a few moments ago was from a Writer from the New York Times named Mike Cohen. The story line was “Evangelical Leaders Are Frustrated At G.O.P. Caution On Kavanaugh Allegation.” There was a picture of a man named Ralph Reed whom the article calls “the Social Conservative Leader”, okay, lets stop right there for a moment. Personally I consider myself to be a social conservative Christian and I personally have never heard of Mr. Reed and after reading some of his opinions I am fully sure that he does not represent me at all. I have often wondered how people here in the U.S. who call themselves Christians can possibly throw their support behind either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. I realize that many do lean toward one Party or the other simply because our system only gives us two real choices here in the U.S. and both are obviously saturated in evil. I still believe that we voters must dump both of these evils and give the voters several more choices. For us Christians to condone the evil that is both Parties is to greatly diminish the love and the teachings of Christ whom we say we are followers of. Back in November of 2016 we all witnessed pure evil at the top of both of the Republican and the Democratic Tickets, we the people had a no win situation, many people were simply voting for what they felt was the least of the two evils. If we Christians condone that which is evil then we are and we will be counted among the evil, we must separate ourselves from them.

 

According to Mr. Reed “the Senate Republicans and the White House are not (PROTECTING) Judge Kavanaugh forcefully enough from a sexual assault allegation.” Mr. Reed goes on to say “if Republicans were to fail to defend and confirm such a (obvious and eminently qualified and decent nominee) that it will be difficult to energize the (faith-based) conservatives in November.” I have a few questions about having Mr. Kavanaugh sitting on the Supreme Court of our Country other than “just” this sexual assault case from when he was 17 years old though, but I will start my thoughts to you with this assault allegation. It appears that the events of that night became quite well-known in the school that the girl attended so it is not some just now made up story. There is a letter that has popped up now about 65 girls that Mr. Kavanaugh went to school with that are saying that he was a great guy who showed no signs of this type of behavior. My question on this is that MR. Kavanaugh went to an all boys prep school and the girl who said she was attacked by him went to an all girls prep high school. So, none of these 65 girls went to school with him, it would be a bit odd that they could have known him so well unless he was quite the ‘party animal.’

 

When Mr. Kavanaugh got his first job on the Bench his boss had a very bad reputation for sexual misconduct and in fact he resigned from the Bench because of all of the allegations against him. Mr. Kavanaugh said this past week that he was unaware of his Bosses reputation even though it was well know where he worked at. So, even now, is Mr. Cavanaugh just oblivious to the reality going on around him, is he just ignorant, or is he a liar? The New York Times also reports about how Court Clerk’s (the women) who wanted to get a job under Mr. Kavanaugh needed to have that certain “Model” look as he wanted all his female Clerks to be very good-looking. So, talent and knowledge didn’t seem to mean as much with him as a tight butt and a short skirt does seem to.

 

Now, another very important issue that is being swept under the table by the Republicans in the Senate concerning Mr. Kavanaugh is his finances and his financial records. Bank records show that he has never had more than $60,000 in the bank at any time of his adult life yet he came up with a 20% down payment on a house note of 1.25 million dollars and $107,000 entrance fee for a local Country Club. His finances do not match up with his expenses and his tax records do not match up with where he got the money for his life style. When a person is being considered for a position on the Supreme Court it is normal for the FBI to do a thorough investigation into the person, this has not been done with Mr. Kavanaugh and the Republicans who control the Senate and Mr. Trump do not want to wait long enough for the FBI to run an investigation before they want to vote him onto the Court, why? There are other hypocrisies in Mr. Kavanaugh’s writings like his opinions on the impeachment of President Bill Clinton because of his low character and how he is now willing to over look President Trumps Plethora of examples of no morals.

 

Here is what I am getting at concerning Judge Kavanaugh and concerning the so-called Christian right. First, sexual assault is something that must be taken seriously and should be investigated by the FBI being that this man is seeking a job in which he will sit in judgement of you, me, our children and grandchildren. For a so-called religious leader to act like even the possibility of such an event is something that doesn’t matter, I beg to differ with you on calling such a person a ‘Religious Leader.’ The White House and the Senate are totally treating the Supreme Court as a Political Toy when it is supposed to be totally independent of Politics all together. Procedures need to be followed, including a full FBI investigation into Judge Kavanaugh morals and sexual assault does fall into this category. Also, the FBI needs to do a full investigation into the financial back ground of Judge Kavanaugh to find out who it is that has been funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to him and why it is that there is no record of this money on his tax reports. We the people need honesty from our government, it is obvious that there is little to no honesty in either the Congress or in the White House so it is very important for we the people to at least have some honest people sitting on the Court Benches and for them to be more than just political monkeys.

Over Turning Supreme Court Rulings

Over Turning Supreme Court Rulings 

 

If you live here in the U.S. and you pay any attention to the national news you probably know of a man named Brett Cavanaugh who is President Trumps hand-picked Judge to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Kennedy. Quite honestly the more I dig into the life and character of Judge Cavanaugh the less I want to see him confirmed by the Senate for this post. In this article I am not going to get into all of the reasons that I believe he is a very bad choice to be on the Bench but I am going to discuss the politics being injected into the choosing of Supreme Court Justices these days. As most of you probably know there are nine Justices that sit on the Bench and they are appointed to lifetime positions.

 

Of the eight current Justices it is considered that 4 are ‘liberal’ and 4 are ‘conservative,’ so this makes this 9th members spot very important to the politicians, both Republicans and Democrats. The Republicans want to get Mr. Cavanaugh confirmed before the mid-term elections that are being held in 7 weeks because they know if the Democrats are able to take control of the Senate that a ‘conservative’ like Mr. Cavanaugh will not happen because the Democrats would have the votes to block it. One of the big reason that the Republicans want Mr. Cavanaugh on the Bench is because they want to get some existing laws changed and they could do it with a 5 to 4 margin in the Supreme Court.

 

Laws that the Republicans want over turned are things like ‘Roe V Wade’ which legalized abortion back in 1973, Gay marriage and ‘The Affordable Care Act/Obama Care.’ To me I have always felt that the purpose of the Supreme Court is for them to decide what is legal or not legal via the U.S. Constitution. The Court was set up by our Nations Founding Fathers about 240 years ago in an attempt to eliminate politics from the decision-making process of what is Constitutionally legal, or not. The term being thrown around in the Senate hearings is “precedent”, meaning, Judge Cavanaugh, do you believe in it? Judge, do you believe that once a law is in place that has been voted on by prior Supreme Court Justices should not be ‘revisited’? The purpose of these 9 Justices is for them to make their decisions on what our Nations Constitution says, not on what their personal likes or dis-likes are nor what their political view points are.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I personally believe that there have been Supreme Court decisions in the past that I think were bad decisions, ones that I wish the Court had ruled differently on like Roe V Wade. There is another Court decision from about 1963 where a Court ruling made it to where District Attorneys can not be criminally or materially sued for their Court decisions. The 1963 Ruling was because the Justices at the time believed that D.A.’s would always be honest and would never do things like obstruct justice in court decisions. I have often wondered if those Justices were actually that naive, or really just that stupid. But, I believe that once a Supreme Court Decision has been made that said decision should not be able to be ‘revisited’, that ‘precedent’ should always hold. Yet the validly of this line of though depends on all Supreme Court Justices, on every case, on every vote to be made by their interpretation of the Nations Constitution, if this is not what they are doing then in my opinion it is they who are breaking the laws of the every Constitution they have sworn to uphold.

Mueller’s investigation bears the hallmark of an organized crime case

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

Mueller’s investigation bears the hallmark of an organized crime case

Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller has extensive experience prosecuting organized crime and white collar cases from his time as FBI director.
 Alex Wong/Getty Images

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  • Paul Manafort’s recent plea deal and cooperation agreement with the special counsel Robert Mueller is the latest indication of how the Russia investigation mirrors an organized crime case.
  • The hallmark of any prosecutor’s approach to an organized crime case is the use of cooperating witnesses to move up the chain.
  • “You start low and you ask people: who did you answer to? Who gave you orders? Who did you report to?” said one Justice Department veteran. “That’s the only way to get to the top of a criminal organization, and that’s exactly what Mueller’s doing.”
  • But there are also a few crucial differences that make the Russia probe similar to a complex white-collar investigation.

As the special counsel Robert Mueller works his way through the myriad of threads in the Russia investigation, his approach bears more and more similarities to what prosecutors do when they’re tackling complex organized crime cases.

Mueller’s recent plea deal and cooperation agreement with Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, is just the latest indication of that.

The hallmark of any prosecutor’s approach to an organized crime case, experts say, is the use of cooperating witnesses.

Going up the ladder is critical in these types of cases because the organization typically has a hierarchical structure and a clear chain of command. It also usually involves wide-ranging, multi-party criminal activity.

“The higher you go, the more insulated those people are,” said Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor from the Southern District of New York who successfully prosecuted more than 100 members and associates of the Sicilian Mafia. “So the best way to penetrate that closed inner circle is by flipping people, and flipping them up.”

After investigators get a sense of which players are part of a criminal enterprise, they start by targeting those at the lowest levels.

“If they don’t voluntarily cooperate, you get honest leverage on them to compel their cooperation,” said Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor who was part of the team that convicted the Gambino crime family boss John Gotti in the 1990s. “You find their criminal conduct and use that to force them to do what they should have done originally, which is to tell the truth.”

Paul Manafort
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded guilty this week.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Honig said he once nailed a case by flipping someone who was the driver for a more powerful person in the organization.

“That led us right up the chain,” he said. “And you can see that happening in the Russia investigation.”

The first plea deal Mueller’s office announced was that of George Papadopoulos, who served as an early foreign policy aide to the Trump campaign. Next, he looped in Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who admitted to lying to the FBI.

In February, Rick Gates, the former deputy chairman of the Trump campaign, announced that he would be pleading guilty and cooperating with the special counsel. Gates’ cooperation led prosecutors upstream, and his courtroom testimony against Manafort helped them successfully convict his former boss on eight counts of financial fraud last month.

Likewise, legal scholars say, Manafort’s cooperation, as well as that of Trump’s former longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, will likely help Mueller and New York federal prosecutors get information on an even bigger fish.

“It’s a classic strategy used in organized crime,” Cotter said. “You start low and you ask people: who did you answer to? Who gave you orders? Who did you report to? That’s the only way to get to the top of a criminal organization, and that’s exactly what Mueller’s doing.”

‘When you pull at a thread, you never know what you’re going to unravel’

michael cohen paul manafort
Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort are the two highest ranking people who have flipped.
Associated Press/Craig Ruttle; Associated Press/Alex Brandon; Business Insider

That said, there are two critical differences between Mueller’s approach to the Russia probe and prosecutors’ approach to organized crime cases.

The first is that most criminal enterprises don’t have a clear paper trail.

“Organized crime is particularly dependent on insider witnesses, because everything is kind of hidden and done in the shadows,” said Alex Whiting, a former Justice Department lawyer who prosecuted organized crime and corruption cases when he worked at the US attorney’s office in Boston.

“These cases usually aren’t paper heavy because there’s no email trail or documentation,” he added.

The Russia investigation, by contrast, has often been document-heavy. Prosecutors introduced 400 pieces of evidence at Manafort’s first trial in Virginia last month, and they planned to put forward almost three times that amount at his second trial had he not struck a last-minute plea deal.

Similarly, their charging document against Gates extensively cited his financial records, emails, and communications with other witnesses.

In that sense, Whiting said, certain aspects of the Russia probe make it more like a white-collar case.

The other crucial difference is that organized crime cases cases involve activities that clearly cross legal boundaries.

But Mueller’s team is sifting through a mix of legal political activity and potentially illegal activity.

The prototypical example of that overlay, Whiting said, is Trump himself.

“The president has the legal authority to fire the FBI director, but is it obstruction if he fired him to hamper an investigation into him?” Whiting said. “Trump has the power to pardon anyone for any federal crime, but is he obstructing justice if he does it to prevent them from testifying? Is collusion a crime?”

“There’s a complexity here that you don’t often see with organized crime,” he added. “In that respect, it’s much more like investigating white-collar crime, because the main questions there are, what was the conduct, and did the conduct cross into illegal territory?”

The bottom line in a case like the Russia probe, Honig said, is that there’s no way to tell where it will ultimately lead.

“When you pull at a thread, you never know what you’re going to unravel.”

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