Draft indictment detailed Trump’s role in hush money scheme

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

WSJ: Draft indictment detailed Trump’s role in hush money scheme

(CNN) Federal prosecutors prepared a detailed 80-page indictment against Michael Cohen that outlined President Donald Trump’s role in directing payments to women to keep quiet about alleged affairs, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The report adds new details to Cohen’s comments in court when he pleaded guilty in August, in which he said the payments to the women were coordinated with Trump.
Trump was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the payments that were made to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels, to keep quiet about their alleged affairs with Trump, the Journal reported, and the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan gathered information about Trump’s participation.
The transactions may have violated campaign finance laws.
The 22-page document prosecutors ultimately filed against Cohen alleged that he coordinated with one or more members of the Trump campaign. In court, Cohen admitted that “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” he kept information that would have harmed Trump from becoming public during the 2016 election cycle.
Prosecutors had prepared a draft indictment of Cohen that was more detailed and included additional charges, people familiar with the investigation have told CNN.
The indictment was sent to the Justice Department in anticipation of charging Cohen, a person familiar the matter said. But negotiations between Cohen and prosecutors then began in earnest and they negotiated a plea deal. Prosecutors never filed the indictment and Cohen pleaded guilty to an information containing fewer charges.
The Journal report adds new details about how Trump was involved.
Trump met in August 2015 at Trump Tower with David Pecker, the CEO of American Media, who offered to use the National Enquirer to buy the silence of women who might try to publicize sexual affairs with Trump, according to the Journal. The criminal filing from prosecutors described the meeting in vague terms, but didn’t go into detail.
During the campaign, Trump asked Pecker to stop McDougal from telling her story, and Pecker’s company paid $150,000 to the former Playboy model. Then in October 2016, Cohen paid $130,000 to Daniels himself to keep her from going public about an affair with Trump.
The President lawyers declined to comment. Trump has previously denied both affairs.
Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing Daniels, said the new developments vindicated his client.
“For over 8 months we have been battling Donald Trump and the lies he has told about his payment to my client. This is further vindication that we were right,” Avenatti said.
“I think the President should be indicted,” he added.
American Media declined to comment on the report.

Trump, LIAR IN CHIEF Made Up B.S.: Trump’s mystery tax cut puzzles Washington

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO NEWS)

 

WHITE HOUSE

Trump’s mystery tax cut puzzles Washington

The president has spoken twice about a tax plan no one else seems to know anything about. ‘I guess I’ll hear about it when I get to work on Monday,’ one official said.

Call it the mystery middle class tax cut.

In recent days President Donald Trump has twice promised a new “major tax cut” ahead of the November midterm elections, mystifying White House officials, congressional leaders, and tax wonks around town who mostly have no idea what he’s talking about.

The pledge — which Trump repeated Monday afternoon — came as news to House and Senate lawmakers, who’ve already returned to their home states to campaign for the elections and have no plans to consider new legislation before then.

White House officials spent the day trying to decode what Trump meant because no one knew the substance of any such tax cut, or had seen any policy proposal related to it. Aides were left wondering what Trump had read in newspaper clippings, or seen on Twitter, to inspire this grand promise from his rally podium.

One senior administration official on Sunday night had not even heard about the president’s tax cut remark on Saturday in Nevada and said they had no idea what he was talking about. “I guess I’ll hear about it when I get to work on Monday,” the official said.

Trump said that House Speaker Paul Ryan was involved in crafting the plan. But Ryan’s office shed no light, referring questions back to the White House.

Trump first floated the idea on Saturday, saying that his administration is “studying very deeply right now round the clock a major tax cut for middle income people.” He upped the ante before leaving for a campaign trip to Texas on Monday, telling reporters at the White House that the administration plans to produce a “resolution” calling for a 10 percent tax cut for middle income earners. It was not clear what he meant by resolution. There are no current plans in Congress for any kind of large new tax cut for the middle class.

The GOP is already scrambling to avoid criticism for the ballooning debt and deficit under Trump’s watch. The president’s own Treasury Department reported last week that the deficit hit $779 billion in the 2018 fiscal year, the highest level since 2012, following the GOP tax cut bill and a massive spending increase in Congress. Jason Furman, who served as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama suggested a 10 percent middle class tax cut would cost roughly $2 trillion over ten years.

“This is the height of cynicism,” Greg Valliere, chief global strategist for Horizon Investments, said of Trump’s tax cut talk. “Number one, I think even Republicans would be gun shy about adding this much more to the deficit. And the public actually seems pretty indifferent to tax cuts. This doesn’t pass the smell test or the laugh test.”

One potential clue to Trump’s thinking: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) released a tax proposal aimed at the middle class late last week. Some Republicans close to the White House speculated that Trump is trying to one-up his potential 2020 presidential rival.

Regardless of the origin of the president’s comments, they nonetheless set off a scramble in official Washington to de-code his exact meaning.

One senior administration official stressed that the president was left hungry for more even after his White House pushed tax reform legislation through Congress for the first time since 1986. “He’s wanted to do more,” the official added. “But on those specifics, you may have to wait a bit because they have to go through Congress.”

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady already unveiled a tax reform 2.0 bill earlier this fall, which now must wait for consideration from the Senate. Brady’s bill contains many of the tweaks and fixes to the individual side of the tax code, so much so that one Republican congressional staffer said: “What else can we really do?” when asked for reaction to Trump’s comments.

Tax wonks, too, were left to speculate about the policy machinations. Some suspect Trump was referring to a proposal from the Treasury Department to index capital gains to inflation, a move the department could do unilaterally.

“We think Mr. Trump could have been hinting that the administration may propose indexing capital gains for inflation,” Brian Gardner, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods wrote in a note to clients on Monday. “While indexing capital gains for inflation might not meet many people’s definition of a ‘middle class tax cut,’ it is an idea that National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow supports and has pushed for many years and which the administration floated during the summer.

Or Trump could have been referring to a proposal out of his Department of Labor that would expand access to 401(k)’s for people who work for small businesses, said Stephen Moore, an informal economic adviser to the Trump campaign and distinguished visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation who, despite his own deep relationships in the White House, was also left wondering about Trump’s ‘major tax cut’ rhetoric.

The specifics may not matter, though, in the days before an election — especially as the media echoes his message, often uncritically.

“Trump says ‘major tax cut’ on the way for the middle class” read one headline on Fox News business on Oct. 22. “Trump: Working on tax cut for middle class,” an MSNBC chyron declared during his remarks Monday. Making headlines like those may have been Trump’s clearest plan all along.

And for Republicans making the final sprint to the midterms, Trump talking about tax cuts – even fanciful ones with no chance of happening – is better than Trump talking about much of anything else.

“It’s not a serious proposal. It wasn’t kicked around a whole lot, he just tossed it out there,” said one conservative lobbyist with close ties to GOP leaders on the Hill. “Nobody is taking it seriously, but we’d rather have him talking about tax cuts than some of the crazy stuff he usually talks about.”

ONCE AGAIN: Donald “Is The Fake News’ Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Even Fox News Shoots Down Donald Trump’s Economy Boast

President’s GDP tweet has been contradicted by his top White House economic adviser; he still hasn’t removed it.
Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, isn't vouching for the president's tweets.

KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS
Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, isn’t vouching for the president’s tweets.

President Donald Trump boasted Monday in a tweet that it’s the first time in more than a century that America’s gross domestic product growth is higher than the unemployment rate.

Except that it’s not.

In fact, the GDP has been higher than the unemployment rate more than 20 percent of the time since 1948, according to actual facts.

Even Fox News wasn’t buying Trump’s tout this time.

Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, also shot down the president’s claim, later quipping about yet another Trump tweet that he’s not the head of the “Council of Twitter Advisers.”

But Trump still hadn’t changed his false tweet as of Monday night.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

The GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years!

Fox News research contradicted Trump in a tweet about two hours after his claim, noting that there have been 63 quarters with a GDP growth rate higher than the average quarterly unemployment rate (several during the Clinton administration).

In 2006, unemployment was about 4.7 percent and quarterly GDP growth was significantly higher than it is now, at 5.4 percent, according to data.

Fox News Research

@FoxNewsResearch

Since 1948, there have been 63 quarters with a GDP growth rate higher than avg quarterly unemployment rate

Recent Quarters with GDP Growth higher than Unemployment Rate:
•Q2 2018
•Q1 2006
•Q3 2003
•Q2 2000
•Q4 1999
•Q3 1999
•Q4 1998
•Q3 1998
•Q3 1997
•Q2 1997
•Q2 1996

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

The GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years!

Twitter had fun with Trump’s fake news — and the takedown by Fox.

Hassett told skeptical reporters that the GDP has been higher than unemployment for 10 years and speculated that someone may have given Trump that information with an extra zero accidentally added to the 10.

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Trump also tweeted that President Barack Obama claimed he’d need a magic wand to boost the economy to 4.2 percent. But Obama was actually talking about boosting manufacturing jobs, not economic growth.

PBS NewsHour

@NewsHour

Pres. Obama on Donald Trump: “The answer is he doesn’t have an answer.”

Asked to clarify Trump’s tweet about that, Hassett smiled and said: “I’don’t know. I’m sorry, and again, I’m not the chairman of the Council of Twitter Advisers.”

Hassett also said he’s “grateful” when the press points out mistakes.

Hassett talked to reporters at a press briefing about Trump’s positive effect on the economy.

Trump inherited a healthy economy, and most indicators remain on the same uphill incline that began under Obama — who inherited an economy in crisis from a Republican administration.

The U.S. is in its 10th year of economic growth, with 95 straight months of job creation. Trump has been in office less than 20 months.

TicToc by Bloomberg

@tictoc

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett corrected Trump’s false claim that U.S. GDP was higher than unemployment in 100 years:

“At some point, somebody probably conveyed it to him adding a zero to that and they shouldn’t have done that”

Detroit Judge Stops Deportation of More Than 100 Iraqi Christians

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Detroit Judge Stops Deportation of More Than 100 Iraqi Christians

(TRUMP CAMPAIGNED WITH PROMISE TO SAVE THEM, HE IS DEPORTING THEM TO CERTAIN DEATH INSTEAD)(TRS)
8:12 PM ET
(DETROIT) — A judge has temporarily halted the deportation of more than 100 Iraqi Christians living in the Detroit area who fear torture and possible death if sent back to Iraq.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith Thursday halted their deportation for 14 days while he decides if his court has jurisdiction to hear their plight.

The Justice Department said the detainees must go to immigration court to try to remain in the U.S., not U.S. District Court.

Most of the 114 Iraqis are Chaldean Christians, but some are Shiite Muslims and converts to Christianity. They were arrested about June 11 and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said all have criminal convictions.

The American Civil Liberties Union says they fear torture or death in Iraq, which agreed to accept them.

So Far Trump And Obama Don’t Act Much Different When It Comes To Iran

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

New York (CNN) As a candidate, President Donald Trump pulled no punches in his criticism of the Obama administration’s multilateral pact with Tehran to curb the Iranian nuclear program. The deal stank, he said then.

Now his secretary of state is, for the time being, certifying it.
“I’ve been doing deals for a long time, I’ve been making lots of wonderful deals — great deals — that’s what I do. Never, ever, ever in my life have I seen any transaction so incompetently negotiated as our deal with Iran. And I mean, never.”
It was September 9, 2015, a few months into his presidential campaign, and Trump was in Washington, where he was addressing a rally against the Obama administration’s historic nuclear pact with Tehran. Trump by then had established himself as a Republican primary player. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz welcomed his rival to the event, reasoning that where Trump went, the cameras followed.

Trump: "I've been doing deals for a long time"

Trump: “I’ve been doing deals for a long time” 05:06
That much has remained the same. But when it comes to the Iran deal, Trump has, for the moment, changed. Blaring skepticism has given way to (yet another) pragmatic adjustment. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday delivered a letter to Congress confirming that Iran has kept up its end of the controversial bargain.
The letter pads what will be an unpopular conclusion among GOP hawks with word that Trump has ordered a review of plans to lift sanctions in accordance with the deal, citing the Iranian government’s ties to assorted terror groups. To follow through on the implicit threat would, ironically, put the US in defiance of the terms of the agreement.

Explore Trump’s progress on key campaign promises

Which is to say, it’s not happening. At least not yet. By fate or fancy, the Trump administration has effectively taken on the foreign policy of its predecessor. The missile attack on Syria — a one-off tactical jab — was initially celebrated (or denounced) as a departure from Obama’s caution, but the reality is that American strategic positions in multiple foreign theaters remain essentially indistinguishable from a year ago.
Democrats will, of course, use this as another example of Trump betraying his campaign promises. That’s fair enough. Candidates make outlandish claims at their own political peril. But the reality here is that reality, more than any president, rules. Who saw it coming? Former Associated Press correspondent Terry Anderson, kidnapped by Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, in 1985 and held for nearly seven years, offered a pretty good preview.
“The Iranians aren’t at Trump’s beck and call, and they won’t be if he’s elected president,” Anderson told The New Yorker after the 2015 speech. “It’s so idiotic that I don’t know how to address it. One of the first things a president learns when he comes into office is that he can’t simply order things and make them happen — in our government, let alone anyone else’s.”
If he hasn’t yet learned that, then Trump has surely experienced it. Though largely true to his campaign pledges as a matter of effort, he has been repeatedly turned back by the same forces he vowed to tame. Obamacare remains, thanks to in the intransigence of his own party. NATO? “Obsolete” no more. Tax reform? That could be the most difficult feat of all.
President Trump’s reversals
before becoming president
after becoming president

NATO
March 27, 2016
“I think NATO’s obsolete. NATO was done at a time you had the Soviet Union, which was obviously larger, much larger than Russia is today. I’m not saying Russia’s not a threat. But we have other threats.”
April 12, 2017
“I complained about that a long time ago, and they made a change. Now they do fight terrorism. I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.”

China
June 28, 2016
“I’m going to instruct my treasury secretary to label China a currency manipulator.”

Attacking the Syrian government
August 29, 2013
Tweet: “What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.”
April 6, 2017
“Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched…” Trump did not ask for nor receive congressional approval to launch his attack.

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen
September 12, 2016
“She’s keeping (rates) artificially low to get Obama retired … I think she is very political and to a certain extent, I think she should be ashamed of herself because it is not supposed to be that way.”
April 12, 2017
I like her, I respect her … It’s very early.”

Executive orders
July 10, 2012
Tweet: “Why is @BarackObama constantly issuing executive orders that are major power grabs of authority?”
March 31, 2017
Trump has issued 23 executive orders, including his controversial travel ban, since taking office on January 20.

The unemployment rate
March 12, 2016
The numbers are phony. These are all phony numbers. Numbers given to politicians to look good. These are phony numbers.”
March 10, 2017
White House press secretary Sean Spicer: “I talked to the President prior to this and he said to quote him very clearly: ‘They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.’ “

Presidential golf
October 13, 2014
Tweet: “Can you believe that,with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf.Worse than Carter”
February 11, 2017
Trump has visited his golf courses 16 times since taking office. In early February he tweeted: “Played golf today with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and @TheBig_Easy, Ernie Els, and had a great time. Japan is very well represented!”

The Export-Import Bank
August 4, 2015
“I don’t like it because I don’t think it’s necessary … It’s sort of a featherbedding for politicians and others, and a few companies. And these are companies that can do very well without it. So I don’t like it. I think it’s a lot of excess baggage. I think it’s unnecessary. And when you think about free enterprise it’s really not free enterprise. I’d be against it.”
April 12, 2017
“It turns out that, first of all, lots of small companies are really helped, the vendor companies. But also, maybe more important, other countries give [assistance]. When other countries give it we lose a tremendous amount of business.”

Federal hiring freeze
October 23, 2016
“On the first day of my term of office, my administration will immediately pursue … a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce the federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health).”
April 12, 2017
Trump signed a presidential memorandum freezing federal hiring days after taking office. Then, on his 82nd day in office, budget director Mick Mulvaney announced this: “What we are doing tomorrow is replacing the across-the-board hiring freeze that we put into place on day one in office and replacing it with a smarter plan, a more strategic plan, a more surgical plan.”
Even China, an ever-present campaign trail piñata, has been spared in deference to existential concerns on the Korean Peninsula. “They’re not currency manipulators,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal a week ago, after more than a year of guarantees that he would order his treasury secretary to label the country a currency manipulator.
His explanation was simple. Pyongyang and its nukes were the priority.
“What, am I going to start trade war with China in the middle of (Chinese President Xi Jinping) working on a bigger problem with North Korea?” Trump said during an interview with Fox News. “I’m dealing with China with great respect. I have great respect for him. We’ll see what he can do. Maybe he won’t be able to help. That’s possible. I think he is trying. Maybe he won’t be able to help. That’s a whole different story.”
And so it goes for the Iran deal. Is Trump going to begin unraveling the dense, multinational accord in the middle of a ramped-up war on ISIS and escalating tensions with Syria (plus Russia and Iran by proxy)?
Not yet. His tactical unpredictability, for now, only stretches so far. Through nearly 100 days in office, Trump’s foreign policy has a familiar ring.