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Donald J. Trump Is a Crook

Donald J. Trump is projecting himself onto others when he calls them crooks; Trump is the crook. There may be no one more crooked or corrupt than Donald J. Trump. Remember the 10 million dollar fine Trump’s Casio paid for money laundering, for willful and repeated violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) or Trump’s fraudulent University, or Trump bogus charity he used as his personal piggy bank. Trump is using taxpayer money to prop up his properties. Trump has committed obstruction of justice and now he is telling people to break the law and he will pardon them, that is an abuse of power.  Donald J. Trump is a liar, a crook, a fraud, a deadbeat, a tax cheat, a con man, criminal and a bad businessman. Find out how crooked Donald J. Trump really is.

Some of the legal issues of Donald J. Trump (aka Don the Con). Here you will find a short list of the lawsuits against Donald J. Trump. We may never know all of Donald J. Trump legal issues because he hides them with Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), threats, false names and fixers. Donald J. Trump is a crook a deadbeat and a fraud. The more you know the better informed you will be to make your own determination on Donald J. Trump. more...

There may be no one more crooked or corrupt than Donald J. Trump. Trump is using taxpayer money to prop up his properties and making a profit at the expense of the American taxpayer. Trump is greedy con man who does not care about America or the American people, but he does want their money. Trump only cares about himself and how much money he can put in his pockets. He does not care where the money comes from the American taxpayer or foreign money he just wants money. Now we know why he refused to divest, Trump wanted to use the power of the presidency to put money in his pockets. Below you can find some examples of how crooked and corrupt Trump is using taxpayer dollars to prop up his properties and accepting foreign governments spending at Trump properties wishing to gain favor with him. more...

There's evidence which casts doubt on Trump's wealth claims and reveals his history of relationships with figures connected to organised crime.

By Amy Gardner

President Trump urged Georgia’s lead elections investigator to “find the fraud” in a lengthy December phone call, saying the official would be a “national hero,” according to an individual familiar with the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the conversation. Trump placed the call to the investigations chief for the Georgia secretary of state’s office shortly before Christmas — while the individual was leading an inquiry into allegations of ballot fraud in Cobb County, in the suburbs of Atlanta, according to people familiar with the episode.

The president’s attempts to intervene in an ongoing investigation could amount to obstruction of justice or other criminal violations, legal experts said, though they cautioned a case could be difficult to prove. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had launched the inquiry following allegations that Cobb election officials had improperly accepted mail ballots with signatures that did not match those on file — claims that state officials ultimately concluded had no merit. more...

David Knowles

As word spread Sunday of President Trump’s astonishing phone conversation with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger the day before, there was widespread speculation that the president had committed one or more crimes in his effort to overturn the results of the election in Georgia, including extortion and, ironically, election fraud. A recording of the one-hour call was released Sunday by the Washington Post. The president is heard pressuring Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” that would put him in the lead over President-elect Joe Biden in Georgia, which has already certified its results. Trump also threatens Raffensperger with the possibility of criminal charges unless he comes up with the votes to overturn the election results. “You know, that’s a criminal — that’s a criminal offense. And you know, you can’t let that happen,” Trump says on the call. “That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. That’s a big risk.” more...

By Alexandra Garrett

Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger called out President Donald Trump's campaign fundraiser emails on Wednesday. "Where I feel really bad is just the people that are, you know, struggling during the pandemic are giving President Trump's campaign money for this recount because they believe him, said Kinzinger during an interview with CNN's New Day. "And it's just a scam it's a big grift," Kinzinger added. "Hard-working taxpayers are giving their money to this because they are convinced because the president's telling them that they can win." The Trump campaign sent out over 500 emails since the presidential election on November 3. More than 400 of those emails contained fundraising solicitations. A large number of the emails focused on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the presidential election although most of the lawsuits filed from Trump's campaign turned out unsuccessful in proving any voting irregularities contributed to President-elect Joe Biden's win. more...

Legal threats range from investigations into his business dealings in New York to possible obstruction of justice charges – but all come with a political cost
by Ed Pilkington in New York

At noon on 20 January, presuming he doesn’t have to be dragged out of the White House as a trespasser, Donald Trump will make one last walk across the South Lawn, take his seat inside Marine One, and be gone. From that moment, Trump’s rambunctious term as president of the United States will be over. But in one important aspect, the challenge presented by his presidency will have only just begun: the possibility that he will face prosecution for crimes committed before he took office or while in the Oval Office.

“You’ve never had a president before who has invited so much scrutiny,” said Bob Bauer, White House counsel under Barack Obama. “This has been a very eventful presidency that raises hard questions about what happens when Trump leaves office.” For the past four years Trump has been shielded from legal jeopardy by a justice department memo that rules out criminal prosecution of a sitting president. But the second he boards that presidential helicopter and fades into the horizon, all bets are off.

The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, is actively investigating Trump’s business dealings. The focus described in court documents is “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization” including possible bank fraud. A second major investigation by the fearsome federal prosecutors of the southern district of New York has already led to the conviction of Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen. He pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations relating to the “hush money” paid to Stormy Daniels, the adult film actor who alleged an affair with Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. During the course of the prosecution, Cohen implicated a certain “Individual 1” – Trump – as the mastermind behind the felony. Though the investigation was technically closed last year, charges could be revisited once Trump’s effective immunity is lifted. more...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson

(CNN) One of Donald Trump's services to history will be to underscore just how much the integrity of the presidency depends on the character of its incumbent. Most presidents at least demonstrate some reverence for the office, understand how easily the public trust on which it stands can be abused and retain a concept of a national interest that supersedes their own. Trump's obliviousness to such rules is on display in an extraordinary debate about his looming use of the president's absolute pardon power. Departing presidents usually grant clemency to those who suffered miscarriages of justice or who have served long terms for nonviolent crimes. But many have also used this constitutional gift to absolve cronies: Bill Clinton, for instance, pardoned his brother after he pleaded guilty to cocaine charges. President Gerald Ford pardoned his predecessor Richard Nixon, hoping to heal the country after Watergate. But accepting a pardon generally involves an admission of guilt on behalf of the convicted person, a willingness to live within the bounds of the law or the notion that society will benefit from granting mercy.

Trump, who has already ignored the official government pardon process in sprinkling clemency on several political allies, is now considering preemptive absolution for his children Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka, and even — in an incredible constitutional leap — himself. Other presidential operatives, like Trump's legal fixer Rudy Giuliani, are also reportedly angling for pardons.  He is said to fear that a Democratic Justice Department could come after his kin after he leaves office, assuming that President-elect Joe Biden will abuse his powers just as Trump has. But there's no sense that the first family would get clemency for admitted wrongdoing. The aim would be more to shut down any pending investigations they face in civilian life and apparently offer get-out-of-jail-free cards for any past criminality. While a president can help out whoever he wants, federal pardons would not derail state and local cases embroiling the Trumps. Still, all his life, the President has proved that if you are willing to trample the spirit of the law, you can get away with almost anything. more...

One source said the president feels embattled and the conversations are within that context, not because he believes anyone did anything illegal.
By Kristen Welker, Carol E. Lee, Peter Alexander and Hallie Jackson

President Donald Trump has been discussing the possibility of issuingpardons for his family members and some close associates, multiple sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. One source said the conversations in recent days were within the context of a president who feels embattled, and not because Trump believes he or any of his family members had done anything illegal.

The New York Times first reported the discussions and said Trump had spoken about whether to grant pre-emptive pardons for his three eldest children, Eric and Donald Jr., and White House advisor Ivanka Trump. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and attorney Rudy Giuliani were also mentioned. The Times reported that Trump had talked with Giuliani about pardoning him as recently as last week. Giuliani has denied that to NBC News, calling it "a lie," adding that the reports were "totally false." The White House has not yet commented. However, late Tuesday Trump tweeted: "Pardon investigation is Fake News!" Trump has not acknowledged he lost the November presidential election to President-elect Joe Biden, and he and Giuliani have continued to make false and baseless claims that the election was rigged. The claims have lacked any evidence, and legal efforts have suffered repeated setbacks. more...

Heard on All Things Considered
Ryan Lucas

Of all the perks of being president, Donald Trump may soon miss most the legal protection that it affords. For four years, Trump has benefited from the de facto immunity from prosecution that all presidents enjoy while in office. But that cloak will pass to Joe Biden when he's sworn in on Jan. 20, leaving Trump out in the legal cold.

"Clearly, the president enjoyed immunity when he was in office," said Danya Perry, a former state and federal prosecutor in New York. "And it's possible, as a matter of law, that he could be indicted on Jan. 21." There's no indication that an indictment is imminent, and it's possible that Trump could emerge entirely unscathed. But there's also no doubt that once he's out of office, he'll be facing a higher level of legal jeopardy than he has in years. "His legal risks increase immeasurably come Jan. 21, both on the civil and the criminal side," Perry said.

Potential federal liability
The most developed case that could ensnare Trump might be out of the Southern District of New York. It stems from the federal prosecution against Michael Cohen, Trump's onetime personal attorney and fixer. Cohen pleaded guilty to a range of crimes, including arranging illegal hush money payments to keep women silent during the 2016 campaign about extramarital affairs they say they had with Trump before he was president. Trump has denied the allegations. Cohen has said he acted at the direction of and in coordination with Trump. Prosecutors, meanwhile, referred to the president in court papers as "Individual 1." more...

By Elliot Hannon

The litany of prosecutions President Donald Trump may be facing when he turns back into a plain old real estate magnate frog on Jan. 20, 2021, just got a little longer, the New York Times reported Friday. Trump’s unseemly business dealings have manifested themselves in some murky tax filings, both of which have been a source of interest for New York state investigators: Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is conducting a criminal investigation while state Attorney General Letitia James carries out a civil one. Both probes, the Times reports, have recently expanded to include tens of millions of dollars in tax write-offs by Trump and his business, the Trump Organization, including deductions taken for paying his daughter Ivanka as a consultant while she was simultaneously on the payroll of the company as an executive officer. The investigations have ramped up of late, and, the Times reports, subpoenas have been issued to the Trump Organization.

Trump has paid essentially no taxes for decades by exploiting tax loopholes that allowed him to cover his substantial business losses, but also by deploying accounting methods that look an awful lot like fraud. To help keep his tax bill close to nonexistent, the Times now reports Trump took $26 million in tax deductions from 2010 to 2018 for fees paid to unidentified consultants that Trump classified as business expenses. When it comes to Ivanka, $747,622 in payments were made to Trump’s daughter through the consulting company TTT Consulting LLC, of which Ivanka is a co-owner. Ivanka disclosed the income when joining the White House in 2017. The exact same amount was listed in the Trump Organization’s tax deductions for a pair of hotel projects.

“While companies can deduct professional fees, the Internal Revenue Service requires that consulting arrangements be market-based and reasonable, as well as ‘ordinary and necessary’ to running a business,” the Times notes. “The I.R.S. has sometimes rejected attempts to write off consulting fees if they were meant to avoid taxes and did not reflect arms-length business relationships.” While these federal returns would fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government, the Times points out that they would also be included Trump’s New York state returns, which would provide an avenue for state-level prosecution. more...

By Ankush Khardori

Following his defeat in last week’s presidential election, President Donald Trump faces the possibility of criminal investigations on multiple fronts. There has been plenty of speculation about the sorts of charges that a Biden Justice Department could pursue—the possibilities include a bribery charge based on Trump’s effort to have Ukraine initiate an investigation into Biden last year, or perhaps income tax fraud—but a critical determinant for any such exercise would be how quickly such a charge would need to be filed.

Legal analysts discussing Trump’s criminal exposure after leaving office often note that the statute of limitations for a federal criminal offense is usually five years. That means that if Trump committed some sort of crime that ended in 2016 when he won election, he would need to be indicted in 2021; if he committed a crime that ended in 2017, his first year in office, that case would need to be filed by 2022; and so on. This is a significant limitation on any investigation of Trump, since even under the best circumstances, it can take years for the government to fully investigate a complex criminal case. And of course, Trump has been in office for the past four years with no sign that anyone at the Justice Department—besides special counsel Robert Mueller and his team’s Russia probe, which turned up evidence that Trump committed obstruction of justice and resulted in a handful of successful prosecutions of Trump underlings—has closely scrutinized any of his many questionable dealings during and before his presidency. (There has been much speculation that Trump might engineer a self-pardon before leaving office, but the legality of such a maneuver would at best be highly debatable.) more...

By Edward Ericson Jr

After President Donald Trump melted down on Twitter Saturday, it's safe to say that virtually no one in America doesn't know that he is under FBI investigation, again. Although it's highly doubtful that former President Barack Obama ordered Trump Tower's phones tapped, the feds are reportedly looking into the Trump campaign's contacts with Russian government agents, trying to determine whether they colluded to illegally influence the election.

If he is confirmed, the longtime U.S. Attorney for Maryland, Rod Rosenstein, will oversee this investigation, since Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself after being caught lying about his own contacts with the Russian ambassador.
This is unprecedented stuff, from a Washington-politics perspective. But law enforcement investigations are nothing new to Trump. Herewith are five instances Trump is known or suspected to have been criminally complicit, but was not charged with any crime. These incidents raise two questions: How would the world be different today if prosecutors had decided differently? And why did the prosecutors decide to give Trump a pass?

1. The obstruction of justice, 1981. As Trump was trying to get into the Atlantic City casino boom, he blew the cover of a confidential FBI informant named Daniel Sullivan, a mob-connected "labor consultant" Trump had hired to liaison with construction unions. "New York was so totally corrupt and so controlled by the mob in the '80s that in order to be a successful businessman, you had to have some way to work that world," Walter Stowe, one of Sullivan's FBI handlers, told the Washington Post last year. more...

By Kara Scannell and Erica Orden, CNN

New York (CNN) If things don't go Donald Trump's way on Election Day, the President may face more serious matters than how to pack up the West Wing. Without some of the protections afforded him by the presidency, Trump will become vulnerable to multiple investigations looking into possible fraud in his financial business dealings as a private citizen -- both as an individual and through his company. He faces defamation lawsuits sparked by his denials of accusations made by women who have alleged he assaulted them, including E. Jean Carroll, the former magazine columnist who has accused him of rape. And then there are claims he corrupted the presidency for his personal profits.

As President, Trump has been able to block and delay several of these investigations and lawsuits -- including a yearlong fight over a subpoena for his tax returns -- in part because of his official position. Many of those matters have wound through the courts and will come to a head whether he is reelected or not. But with the polls showing that Democratic rival Joe Biden is leading in the race, the stakes become much higher for Trump if he loses the election. A raft of legal issues, including a criminal investigation by New York prosecutors, will come into focus in the weeks after Election Day. "In every regard, his leaving office makes it easier for prosecutors and plaintiffs in civil cases to pursue their cases against him," said Harry Sandick, a former federal prosecutor in the Manhattan US attorney's office. "For example, he is claiming a higher protection from subpoenas in the criminal cases and also in the congressional subpoena cases, [and that] is based largely on the fact that he is President."

Some have suggested a formal apparatus for investigating Trump after he leaves office. Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, has floated the creation of a "Presidential Crimes Commission," made up of independent prosecutors who can examine "those who enabled a corrupt president," as he put it in an August tweet. "Example 1: Sabotaging the mail to win an election." The most serious legal threat facing Trump is the Manhattan district attorney's broad criminal investigation into the financial workings of the Trump Organization. Prosecutors have suggested in court filings that the investigation could examine whether the President and his company engaged in bank fraud, insurance fraud, criminal tax fraud and falsification of business records. more...

The New York Times’s major new story reveals that Trump had political, legal, and financial reasons to hold back the returns.
By Andrew Prokop

One of the biggest secrets in American politics — what’s in the tax returns that President Donald Trump has refused to release for so long — has at last been revealed, by the New York Times. Times journalists Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig, and Mike McIntire obtained “tax-return data extending over more than two decades” related to the president, and have revealed their findings in a bombshell new report. (They are not posting the documents themselves, to avoid jeopardizing their sources.)

For years, the political world has speculated on what Trump was trying to hide by holding back his returns, and by falsely claiming that he can’t release them until the IRS finishes an extended audit. Was it that he paid no income taxes at all in some years? Was it that he was far less successful a businessman than he let on? Was he claiming legally dubious deductions? The answer, it turns out, is all of the above.

The Times story makes clear the supposedly wealthy president often paid no income taxes while his businesses regularly lost vast sums of money, and he himself was on the hook for increasing sums in loans. All of that is politically damaging enough to Trump’s image, and likely a sufficient reason to work hard to keep the tax returns secret. But there’s likely another reason behind Trump’s reticence — because reporters would scour his returns for legally dubious claims, and put the pieces together to how he was trying to snooker the IRS. more...

"Any decent prosecutor" could make a "pretty viable" case, Nick Akerman, who investigated Nixon's tax returns, says
Roger Sollenberger

A former federal prosecutor during the Watergate investigation, which uncovered criminal activity that led to former President Richard Nixon's resignation, said the bombshell New York Times report on President Donald Trump's taxes suggests that he could ultimately face time behind bars along with his daughter, senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump. "No question about it," Nick Akerman told CNN's Erin Burnett in a Monday interview. "And his daughter could go to jail, too. Tax evasion is a five-year felony. It's a pretty serious crime, and the more money that's stolen, the longer you go to jail."

Akerman, who investigated Nixon's taxes during the Watergate probe, said The Times report revealed that he was a "rookie amateur" compared to Trump. "What Nixon did was essentially backdate one deed for a gift of papers to the U.S. government. He basically created a phony deed," said Akerman, whose investigation prompted the political precedent of every major-party presidential candidate publicizing his or her tax returns — until Trump. The Times report, he said, laid out "a whole series of activities that could qualify as tax fraud — not tax avoidance."

While the headline read, "Trump Tax Avoidance," Akerman said there is "a key difference" when it comes to fraud — a more serious crime. Tax avoidance means trying to get the most deductions legally permissible under the tax code. "Tax fraud is lying about what your income was," Akerman said. "Lying about what your deductions are." Akerman said the report suggested multiple instances of fraud —  the "most glaring" example being an allegation involving consultant  fees that Trump appears to have paid to Ivanka, but which he later wrote  off as a tax deduction. more...

A damning expose lays bare decades of deception, fraud and scheming — by Trump and Congress
David Cay Johnston

The richly detailed examination of Donald Trump's taxes in today's New York Times carries two crucial but unstated messages. One is about Trump. The other about what chumps we Americans are when it comes to our own income taxes. Trump paid no income taxes in 10 of the last 17 years while raking in as much as $153 million in a single year. The year he ran for president he paid just $750. He paid the same sum during his first year in the Oval Office. That's less than the average monthly rent paid by Americans, which was $1,023 in 2018.

That Trump is a serious tax cheat is no surprise to DCReport readers. Four years ago, I revealed that Trump lost two income tax fraud trials. He fabricated a consulting business in 1984. It showed no revenue, yet Trump claimed more than $600,000 in deductions. He could not produce a single receipt. Trump's longtime tax lawyer and accountant, Jack Mitnick, testified during one of the two civil fraud trials that Trump forged the tax return. Mitnick was Trump's witness, by the way, showing just how much chutzpah Trump has. More...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) It was the moment when Donald Trump's "Art of the Deal" fabulism, billionaire tycoon bluster and populist standard-bearing for forgotten Americans was revealed to be what it always looked like: a sham. A stunning New York Times exposé of the President's tax returns Sunday revealed a pitifully inept businessman and a serial tax avoider crushed by massive debts that could expose him to conflicts of interest given his position as President and power to help undisclosed lenders. Trump refused to talk about his tax returns and blasted the Times report as "totally fake news" on Sunday. But the article portrays the anti-elite crusader who rails against a corrupt system as actually using its loopholes to avoid paying any federal taxes at all in 10 of 15 years beginning in 2000 by writing off his own staggering losses.

In 2016 and 2017 each, Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes -- far less than many Americans who are working hard amid a deep recession to stay afloat. Trump took huge deductions -- including $70,000 to take care of his hair -- and also appeared to write off hundreds of thousands of dollars paying his daughter Ivanka as a consultant to the Trump Organization, according to the Times report. The story also reveals the extent to which Trump's status as President is being used to shore up his losing ventures — for example his hotel in Washington, DC, and his golf resorts. More...

New York Times reporting on the president’s taxes suggest two possibilities.
By Elie Mystal

In a 2015 filing with the Federal Election Commission, then-candidate Donald Trump claimed his net worth was $10 billion. The financial press was skeptical of that claim, but nonetheless, Trump listed assets totaling $1.4 billion against $265 million in liabilities.

According to tax documents obtained and reported on by the New York Times, Trump paid only $750 in federal income tax the year that he won the presidency, partly buoyed by claims of his financial triumphs. And that was a year when Trump actually paid some income tax. Trump paid $0 in federal income tax in 11 of 18 years, according to the Time’s description of the documents.

Now, it is possible to be worth billions of dollars and yet owe the federal government no income tax most of the time. For instance, you could just sit and stare at the gold bullion you’ve accumulated in your mountain lair and not bother anybody. More...

TYT Sports

Another failure on Trump's business record. Rick Strom breaks it down. Give us your thoughts in the comments below!

The president’s niece, Mary L. Trump, is the first to break ranks with the family and release a tell-all memoir.
By Maggie Haberman and Alan Feuer

Mary L. Trump, President Trump’s niece, plans to publish a tell-all family memoir next week, describing how a decades long history of darkness, dysfunction and brutality turned her uncle into a reckless leader who, according to her publisher, Simon & Schuster, “now threatens the world’s health, economic security and social fabric.” The book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” depicts a multigenerational saga of greed, betrayal and internecine tension and seeks to explain how President Trump’s position in one of New York’s wealthiest and most infamous real-estate empires helped him acquire what Ms. Trump has referred to as “twisted behaviors” — attributes like seeing other people in “monetary terms” and practicing “cheating as a way of life.” Ms. Trump, who at 55 has long been estranged from President Trump, is the first member of the Trump clan to break ranks with her relatives by writing a book about their secrets. Since late June, her family — led by the president’s younger brother, Robert S. Trump — has been trying to stop the publication of the book, citing a confidentiality agreement that she signed nearly 20 years ago during a dispute over the will of the family patriarch, Fred Trump Sr., the president’s father. But a judge in New York has refused to enjoin Simon & Schuster from releasing the memoir and is expected to soon rule on whether Ms. Trump herself violated the confidentiality agreement. Here are some of the highlights from her manuscript:

By Jonathan Chait

When Congress enacted an emergency plan to send $1,200 checks to every American adult, Republicans joked that President Trump would want to sign his name on the checks. A few weeks later, after the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump was exploring this outlandish desire, a reporter asked, “Is that right? Do you want to sign those checks?” Trump denied it: “No. Me sign? No.” Last night, the Washington Post reported that Trump’s name will be displayed on every check. A measure passed by both parties to alleviate an economic emergency has been expropriated by his reelection campaign. Trump’s presidency has largely consisted of outrageously corrupt notions proceeding from fearful accusation to accepted reality. Within a few days, this one will also probably be forgotten. Trump has never respected any meaningful distinction between the federal government and the Trump Organization. He expects every federal employee, especially its law-enforcement agents, to advance his personal political agenda. He has functionally mixed its budget with his own by having the government pour money into his properties, and he has treated its official powers as if they are his own personal chits. The authority he has gained through the emergency response to the coronavirus has vastly expanded the potential for corruption, and every sign indicates that Trump is already engaging in systemic abuse. Some of the corruption is lingering just below the surface. Trump is speaking constantly with corporate leaders, who can position themselves at the front of the line for federal contracts or relief payments. He supports bailouts for industries with a shaky claim to the public purse, like cruise lines, and has staunchly opposed any rescue for the United States Postal Service, which handles essential government communication. Trump of course has been trying to force the post office to raise rates on Amazon, in retaliation for Jeff Bezos’s ownership of the Washington Post. The economic crisis has put the post office on life support, giving Trump the leverage he wants to make it punish a detested rival. Trump has treated the distribution of the federal government’s supply of emergency medical equipment like he is walking around the neighborhood with a money clip, pulling out bills and patting grateful recipients on the cheek. When New York governor Andrew Cuomo noted that he retains power to reopen public spaces, Trump exploded, “I got it all done for him, and everyone else, and now he seems to want Independence! That won’t happen!” Trump routinely threatens Democratic governors not to complain about his mismanagement if they want help from Washington, conflating the authority of the government with his own authority (“When they disrespect me, they are disrespecting our government”). He has used the precious supply of ventilators as in-kind contributions, allowing endangered Republican allies like Martha McSally and Cory Gardner to hold them up as proof of their clout.

By Christina Wilkie, Amanda Macias

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump has removed the lead watchdog overseeing the $2 trillion coronavirus package, just days after the official, Glenn Fine, was appointed to the role. The move came as Trump pursued similar action in recent weeks against independent inspectors general across the federal government. Fine had been the acting Pentagon inspector general until Monday afternoon, when Trump abruptly removed him from his post. “Yesterday, the President nominated Mr. Jason Abend for the position of DoD Inspector General,” said Dwrena Allen, a spokesperson for the Defense Department’s Inspector General, in a statement to CNBC. “The same day, the President also designated Mr. Sean W. O’Donnell, who is the Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General (EPA IG), to serve as the Acting DoD IG in addition to his current duties at the EPA,” Allen said. “Mr. Fine is no longer on the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee,” Allen said, and he now “reverts to his position as the Principal Deputy Inspector General.” Fine had been chosen March 30 to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee by his fellow inspectors general, who were tasked by the new law to select a chairman for their committee. By removing Fine from his Pentagon job, Trump effectively eliminated Fine from the oversight committee, since only sitting inspectors general can serve on the committee. - Is Trump removing oversite so he and his friends can steal some of the money? If so Trump is a crook.

By Justin Baragona

President Donald Trump has a “small financial interest” in the maker of an anti-malarial drug that he has been touting as a “game changer” in treating coronavirus, according to The New York Times. Over the past two weeks, Trump and his Fox News allies have aggressively promoted hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure, despite top infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and others urging caution and noting that there was not enough evidence of the drug’s efficacy. - Trump is using the office of the president to promote products he has a financial interest in, Trump is a crook.

While Dr. Anthony Fauci has urged caution in using hydroxychloroquine, some doctors are prescribing it to patients who have the virus despite the fact it has never been tested for it.
By Peter Baker, Katie Rogers, David Enrich and Maggie Haberman

WASHINGTON — President Trump made a rare appearance in the Situation Room on Sunday as his pandemic task force was meeting, determined to talk about the anti-malaria medicine that he has aggressively promoted lately as a treatment for the coronavirus. Once again, according to a person briefed on the session, the experts warned against overselling a drug yet to be proved a safe remedy, particularly for heart patients. “Yes, the heart stuff,” Mr. Trump acknowledged. Then he headed out to the cameras to promote it anyway. “So what do I know?” he conceded to reporters at his daily briefing. “I’m not a doctor. But I have common sense.” Day after day, the salesman turned president has encouraged coronavirus patients to try hydroxychloroquine with all of the enthusiasm of a real estate developer. The passing reference he makes to the possible dangers is usually overwhelmed by the full-throated endorsement. “What do you have to lose?” he asked five times on Sunday. Bolstered by his trade adviser, a television doctor, Larry Ellison of Oracle and Rudolph W. Giuliani, a former New York mayor, Mr. Trump has seized on the drug as a miracle cure for the virus that has killed thousands and paralyzed American life. Along the way, he has prompted an international debate about a drug that many doctors in New York and elsewhere have been trying in desperation even without conclusive scientific studies. - Trump is using the office of the president to promote products he has a financial interest in, Trump is a crook.

Documents show the president’s company reported different numbers — higher ones to lenders, lower ones to tax officials — for Trump’s signature building. Last month, ProPublica revealed a similar pattern in two other Trump buildings.
by Heather Vogell

Donald Trump’s business reported conflicting information about a key metric to New York City property tax officials and a lender who arranged financing for his signature building, Trump Tower in Manhattan, according to tax and loan documents obtained by ProPublica. The findings add a third major Trump property to two for which ProPublica revealed similar discrepancies last month.

In the latest case, the occupancy rate of the Trump Tower’s commercial space was listed, over three consecutive years, as 11, 16 and 16 percentage points higher in filings to a lender than in reports to city tax officials, records show.

For example, as of December 2011 and June 2012, respectively, Trump’s business told the lender that 99% and 98.7% of the tower’s commercial space was occupied, according to a prospectus for the loan. The figures were taken from “borrower financials,” the prospectus stated.

In tax filings, however, Trump’s business said the building’s occupancy was 83% in January 2012 and the same a year later. The 16 percentage point gap between the loan and tax filings is a “very significant difference,” said Susan Mancuso, an attorney who specializes in New York property tax.

A spokesperson for the Trump Organization said that “comparing the various reports is comparing apples to oranges” because reporting requirements differ. Trump had much to gain by showing a high occupancy rate to lenders in 2012: He refinanced his share of Trump Tower that year and obtained a $100 million loan on favorable terms.

The vast majority of the gap between occupancy figures could be explained by diverging reports on how much space the Trump Organization used in Trump Tower. In loan documents, the company said it and its affiliates occupied 74,900 square feet in mid-2012, or 31% of the building. But tax reports from the January before and after listed the company and related parties as occupying 41,600 square feet — or about 18% of the tower.

“I cannot give you an explanation,” said Kevin Riordan, a financing expert, former accountant and real estate professor at Montclair State University who reviewed the tax and loan records for Trump Tower at ProPublica’s request.

More than a dozen tax and finance experts, presented with ProPublica’s earlier findings, also said they could not decipher a reason for the differences. As with Trump Tower, the discrepancies made the two properties — a skyscraper located at 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower near Columbus Circle — appear more profitable to the lender and less so to property tax officials.

Those discrepancies were “versions of fraud,” according to Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley. The penalties for false filings can include fines or criminal charges.

By D'Angelo Gore - factcheck.org

President Donald Trump downplayed the findings in a case against his namesake charitable foundation, claiming the judge had found only “some small technical violations.” Actually, in a settlement announced this week, the judge ruled that Trump “breached his fiduciary duty” to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in service of his 2016 presidential campaign.

The ruling was part of a settlement to a June 2018 case filed by the office of the New York state attorney general against Trump, his three eldest children and their charitable foundation. The lawsuit alleged that the Trump Foundation had long “operated in persistent violation of state and federal law governing New York State charities” by, among other things, allowing Trump’s 2016 campaign committee to direct and coordinate the foundation’s televised fundraiser for veterans in Des Moines, Iowa, in January 2016.

In a statement posted to Twitter on Nov. 7, Trump called the lawsuit a form of “politically motivated harassment,” and seemingly dismissed the judge’s ruling as insignificant. “All they found was incredibly effective philanthropy and some small technical violations, such as not keeping board minutes,” Trump’s statement read.

There was more to it than that.

In her ruling on Nov. 7, state Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla wrote that the parties resolved most of the attorney general’s claims on their own, but left it to her to determine what Trump would have to personally pay for his alleged misuse of his foundation.

“A review of the record … establishes that Mr. Trump breached his fiduciary duty to the Foundation and that waste occurred to the Foundation,” she wrote. “Mr. Trump’s fiduciary duty breaches included allowing his campaign to orchestrate the Fundraiser, allowing his campaign, instead of the Foundation, to direct distribution of the Funds, and using the Fundraiser and distribution of the Funds to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign.” Full Story

By aaron katersky

President Donald Trump has been ordered by a New York State judge to pay $2 million to a group of nonprofit organizations as part of a settlement in a civil lawsuit stemming from persistent violations of state charities laws.  The payment is the final resolution to a case brought by the New York attorney general's office after the Trump Foundation held a fundraiser for military veterans during the 2016 campaign.

The televised fundraiser took in nearly $3 million in donations that were dispersed on the eve of the Iowa caucuses as directed by then-campaign chief Corey Lewandowski. The two million must be paid by President Trump himself for breaching his fiduciary duty to properly oversee the foundation that bears his name. "I direct Mr. Trump to pay the $2,000,000, which would have gone to the Foundation if it were still in existence, on a pro rata basis to the Approved Recipients," Judge Saliann Scarpulla wrote.

The lawsuit filed by the state's attorney general accused President Trump -- along with his children, Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka -- of conflating charity with politics, repeatedly using charitable donations for personal, political and business gains, including legal settlements, campaign contributions and even to purchase a portrait of Trump to hang at one of his hotels..

Filed in state Supreme Court by the attorney general's Charities Bureau, the suit sought to dissolve the private New York-based foundation and prevent the Trumps from serving as directors of any nonprofits in the future. The foundation has already agreed to cease operations and must pay the two million to a consortium of nonprofit organizations. Full Story

A new ProPublica investigation found that Trump inflated and deflated his assets when convenient.
By Aaron Rupar

A new ProPublica investigation lends credence to a remarkable claim made by Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former longtime personal lawyer and fixer, during his congressional testimony earlier this year. Cohen alleged that Trump “inflated his total assets when it served his purposes and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.” And ProPublica’s Heather Vogell has receipts indicating Cohen knew what he was talking about. Property tax documents obtained by Vogell via New York’s Freedom of Information Law “show stark differences in how Donald Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities.

The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax.” To cite one example from the story, Trump’s representatives told a lender that the occupancy rate in his building at 40 Wall Street in New York City was 59 percent as of the end of 2012. But that figure wasn’t the same as 81 percent occupancy rate for 2012 that was reported to tax authorities. Trump ultimately used the lower occupancy rate figure to create a perception of “leasing momentum” — his company reported that occupancy rates started to rise in 2013 — that was helpful in securing a refinancing.

While there are reasons for such discrepancies that don’t necessarily involve fraud, the pattern that emerges from ProPublica’s analysis suggests that on numerous occasions Trump used one set of figures for lenders and another for tax officials — just as Cohen claimed during his testimony. If done intentionally, false reporting of this sort can have consequences. As ProPublica’s story notes, New York City’s property tax forms say that the signatory “affirms the truth of the statements made” and that “false filings are subject to all applicable civil and criminal penalties.” Trump of all people should know this — Cohen and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort are currently serving time for falsifying tax and bank records. Full Story

By Sonam Sheth

Newly uncovered tax documents from President Donald Trump contain several discrepancies that real-estate experts said could point to financial fraud, ProPublica reported on Wednesday. The documents obtained by ProPublica were part of records for four Trump properties in New York City: Trump International Hotel and Tower, 40 Wall Street, Trump Tower, and 1290 Avenue of the Americas. Tax records for 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower reportedly contained discrepancies that could raise some red flags — specifically, the numbers made the properties look more valuable to lenders and less valuable to tax authorities, ProPublica said.

In one instance in 2017, according to ProPublica, Trump told a lender that he got twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities that year. Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley, told the outlet she couldn't see why there were inconsistencies in the first place, adding that they looked like "versions of fraud." Trump has been at the center of several financial scandals. The New York Times reported last year that Trump used a series of dubious tax schemes to shield a $400 million inheritance from the IRS. And in September, Mother Jones published an investigation that found that Trump might have fabricated a loan to avoid paying $50 million in income taxes. But Trump has long maintained that he has committed no financial or tax crimes.

He has said he can't release his tax returns because they are under audit, even though there is no rule to prevent him from doing so. But the president may soon be forced to give his tax returns to investigators. On October 7, US District Judge Victor Marrero ordered Trump to turn over eight years of his tax returns to New York prosecutors investigating whether he violated state laws by fabricating business records. Days later, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered the president to turn over the past eight years of his tax returns to the House Oversight Committee, saying lawmakers have the right to see the documents. Trump's lawyers have said they will fight both decisions and take them to the Supreme Court if they have to. But the public may still get a window into the president's closely held financial documents thanks to an employee at the IRS who recently blew the whistle on "inappropriate efforts to influence" the agency's audit of Trump's tax returns. According to The Washington Post, the person accused of trying to interfere with the audit is a political appointee at the Treasury Department. Full Story

By Elliot Hannon

It’s not Trump’s taxes, the whole enchilada, but ProPublica got ahold of property tax documents of the Trump Organization, adding to the growing corpus of financial info on the president that strongly points to Trump deploying a secret financial weapon to maintain the appearance of “successful businessman”—fraud. ProPublica collated financial info from public sources and found the president was reporting different numbers on his properties to lenders and tax authorities. Trump arranged the numbers to paint a rosier picture of his buildings’ performance for lenders to secure cheaper loans, and then rearranged those numbers to look less profitable when reporting to the taxman in order to lower his property taxes.

“The documents were public because Trump appealed his property tax bill for the buildings every year for nine years in a row, the extent of the available records,” ProPublica reports. “We compared the tax records with loan records that became public when Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, sold the debt on his properties as part of mortgage-backed securities.” The site reviewed records for four Trump buildings and found noticeable discrepancies at two properties in particular—40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Full Story

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

(CNN) - President Donald Trump's real estate business reported different financial figures for two of his Manhattan properties to lenders than to New York tax authorities, according to documents obtained by ProPublica. The different sets of numbers on expenses, profits and occupancy figures resulted in the two buildings appearing more lucrative to lenders and less so to city officials assessing property taxes, ProPublica found in an investigation published Wednesday. ProPublica obtained the property tax documents through the state of New York's Freedom of Information Act law and loan records after Trump's lender sold the debt on the properties, making them public. The Trump Organization did not respond to questions from ProPublica or CNN.

ProPublica had reviewed the documents for four Trump properties, finding discrepancies involving two of them -- 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Trump has not publicly released his tax returns, claiming that he's barred from doing so because he's under IRS audit. Being under IRS audit does not prevent someone from making their tax returns public. CNN previously reported that Trump believed in 2013 and 2014 that releasing his tax returns as part of a presidential bid would make him look like a smart businessman who had spent years lowering his taxable income, according to two people with firsthand knowledge of conversations at the time.

According to ProPublica, Trump's company reported to New York City tax officials that it made about $822,000 in 2017 renting out space in the Trump International Hotel and Tower -- which Trump owns only a portion of -- to two commercial tenants. However, the company told Ladder Capital that it made $1.67 million that same year — more than twice as much reported to tax authorities, ProPublica reported. ProPublica also found that Trump had given conflicting occupancy figures for 40 Wall Street, recently rebranded as "The Trump Building." The Trump Organization told the lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9% leased as of December 31, 2012. A few years later, the occupancy level had been raised to 95%.

The company reported to tax officials that the building was 81% rented as of January 5, 2013. The figures in the tax and loan reports finally matched up in January 2016, ProPublica noted. The portrayal of an increase in occupancy and prediction that revenue would surge were critical to helping Trump secure a refinance loan for 40 Wall Street, according to ProPublica. Experts told ProPublica that there can be legitimate reasons for the differences in tax and loan documents but that the multiple inconsistencies lacked a clear explanation. As President, he has faced numerous legal challenges seeking the release of his tax returns, including from House Democrats and the Manhattan district attorney. Trump on Friday lost his appeal to stop a House subpoena of his tax documents from his longtime accountant Mazars USA. The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit upheld a lower court ruling saying the firm must turn over eight years of accounting records. Full Story

The president’s businesses made themselves appear more profitable to lenders and less profitable to tax officials. One expert calls the differing numbers “versions of fraud.”
by Heather Vogell

Documents obtained by ProPublica show stark differences in how Donald Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax. For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street.

Lenders like to see a rising occupancy level as a sign of what they call “leasing momentum.” Sure enough, the company told a lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9% leased on Dec. 31, 2012, and then rose to 95% a few years later. The company told tax officials the building was 81% rented as of Jan. 5, 2013. A dozen real estate professionals told ProPublica they saw no clear explanation for multiple inconsistencies in the documents. The discrepancies are “versions of fraud,” said Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley. “This kind of stuff is not OK.” New York City’s property tax forms state that the person signing them “affirms the truth of the statements made” and that “false filings are subject to all applicable civil and criminal penalties.”

The punishments for lying to tax officials, or to lenders, can be significant, ranging from fines to criminal fraud charges. Two former Trump associates, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, are serving prison time for offenses that include falsifying tax and bank records, some of them related to real estate. “Certainly, if I were sitting in a prosecutor’s office, I would want to ask a lot more questions,” said Anne Milgram, a former attorney general for New Jersey who is now a professor at New York University School of Law. Trump has previously been accused of manipulating numbers on his tax and loan documents, including by his former lawyer, Cohen. But Trump’s business is notoriously opaque, with records rarely surfacing, and up till now there’s been little documentary evidence supporting those claims. That’s one reason that multiple governmental entities, including two congressional committees and the office of the Manhattan district attorney, have subpoenaed Donald Trump’s tax returns.

Trump has resisted, taking his battles to federal courts in Washington and New York. And so the question of whether different parts of the government can see the president’s financial information is now playing out in two appeals courts and seems destined to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Add to that a Washington Post account of an IRS whistleblower claiming political interference in the handling of the president’s audit, and the result is what amounts to frenetic interest in one person’s tax returns. ProPublica obtained the property tax documents using New York’s Freedom of Information Law. The documents were public because Trump appealed his property tax bill for the buildings every year for nine years in a row, the extent of the available records. We compared the tax records with loan records that became public when Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, sold the debt on his properties as part of mortgage-backed securities. ProPublica reviewed records for four properties: 40 Wall Street, the Trump International Hotel and Tower, 1290 Avenue of the Americas and Trump Tower.

Discrepancies involving two of them — 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower — stood out. There can be legitimate reasons for numbers to diverge between tax and loan documents, the experts noted, but some of the gaps seemed to have no reasonable justification. “It really feels like there’s two sets of books — it feels like a set of books for the tax guy and a set for the lender,” said Kevin Riordan, a financing expert and real estate professor at Montclair State University who reviewed the records. “It’s hard to argue numbers. That’s black and white.” Full Story

The president’s latest attempt to keep his tax returns hidden is a novel one.
By Bess Levin

As you may or may not have heard, Donald Trump refused to release his tax returns while running for president, claiming, falsely, that an audit prevented him from doing so but that the public would see them just as soon as he got the green light. Two years and 242 days after moving into the White House that, of course, has not happened. Instead, Trump has sicced his Treasury secretary, attorney general, and various personal lawyers on anyone attempting to get their hands on the information, in a manner suggesting the details within could make a person look quite bad. Typically, Trump’s attorneys have argued that such requests, like the ones from various House committees, constitute “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT” or supposedly lack “a legitimate legislative purpose.”

On Thursday, though, they came up with a novel new argument: It’s illegal to investigate a sitting president for any crimes he may have committed. In a lawsuit filed today against Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who recently subpoenaed eight years of Trump’s tax returns to determine if the Trump Organization falsified business records relating to Stormy Daniels payments, the president’s lawyers claim such a request is unconstitutional because the founding fathers believed sitting presidents should not be subject to the criminal process. “The framers of our Constitution understood that state and local prosecutors would be tempted to criminally investigate the president to advance their own careers and to advance their political agendas,” the suit reads. “And they likewise understood that having to defend against these actions would distract the president from his constitutional duties.” Strangely, actual legal experts aren’t entirely convinced of this argument.

“Even assuming that the president cannot be indicted while in office, it does not follow that his business and associates are likewise immune from investigation,” Harry Sandick, a former federal prosecutor, told Bloomberg. “The complaint makes light of the idea that ruling in their favor would elevate the president above the law, but it certainly seems as if the president views himself as above the law.” Vance, who agreed not to enforce the subpoena—issued to Trump’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA—until a scheduled September 25 hearing, is investigating if executives at the Trump Organization filed false business records concerning hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who both claim to have had affairs with Trump, charges he, naturally, denies. The president’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, admitted to arranging the hush money payments and released audio of him discussing the Daniels payment with Trump. Full Story

The president has reportedly told staff he’ll just pardon them.
By Bess Levin

As you might have heard once or twice, Donald Trump kicked off his bid for the presidency by proclaiming that he was going to build a wall on the southern border and make Mexico pay for it. Unfortunately for the supporters who voted for him based on that pledge, construction on the barrier hasn’t exactly panned out as the president promised, in that virtually none of it has been built, due to a combination of factors like Mexico shockingly declining to finance the thing, Democrats refusing to provide the billions in funding, environmental concerns, and logistical issues like people living where Trump wants the fencing to go. Sure, the president could just lie about the wall being built already, which he has many times.

But he really wants to make good on an ineffectual passion project that the base can point to like a beacon of hope for racists. So he’s got a new plan to get it done in time for 2020: Break the law. Honestly, it’s so simple he’s probably kicking himself for not having thought of it sooner. The Washington Post reports that the president has “directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land, and disregard environmental rules, according to current and former officials involved with the project.” In the coming weeks, Defense Secretary Mark Esper is expected to approve the White House’s request to reroute $3.6 billion in Pentagon funds to the project, money that the president decided to divert from apparently less important Defense Department projects after lawmakers refused to pony up $5 billion.

When staffers have nervously suggested that Trump’s demands are unworkable or illegal, the president has apparently told them not to worry because he’ll pardon everyone who helps him get this thing done, and has “waved off worries about contracting procedures and the use of eminent domain, saying ‘take the land,’” according to officials who sat in on the meetings. Full Story

By Matthew Chapman

On MSNBC Saturday, former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah laid out all the ways that President Donald Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani could be breaking federal law with their apparent scheme to push Ukraine into digging up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden. “Extortion, conspiracy to engage in extortion, and violating federal election law,” said host Alex Witt. “Do you agree with all those premises?” “I do, Alex, and I would add one to that, which is federal bribery,” said Rocah. “Here, Trump essentially was trying to get the Ukrainian president to bribe him, give him information about his political opponent in exchange for aid to the country. So, that is soliciting a bribe. And you know, look, we can get into this more.

Obviously, this is my area of expertise, whether something violates federal criminal laws, but I do worry that we’re going down a path that we went down with the Mueller investigation, because for the president of the United States, that is not the standard.” “I think Rudy Giuliani should be investigated,” she continued. “I don’t know if this Department of Justice is independent enough to do that. He is a private citizen, though. He can be prosecuted. The president we know cannot be prosecuted, but this is something that Congress must take action on now. And one other point with respect to what you were saying in the prior conversation with the other panelists.” “You know, this isn’t about what Joe Biden’s son did or didn’t do,” added Rocah. “There are avenues to investigate United States citizens through a process known as mutual legal assistance treaties.

The Department of Justice does it all the time. If there is reason for a U.S. citizen to be investigated and the aid of another country is needed, there are proper channels to do that through, and they don’t include the president of the United States calling up the leader of another country and demanding it in exchange for foreign aid. I think we’re going down a rabbit hole there.” “What kind of hot water could Rudy Giuliani be in for having gone over, and potentially at the president’s behest, have these conversations with the Ukrainian president and leadership?” Witt pressed her. Full Story

The president supposedly dangled millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine in exchange for Kiev investigating Joe Biden. That looks a lot like old-fashioned corruption.
By Barbara McQuade

If the latest allegations about President Donald Trump’s conversations with the leader of Ukraine are true, his conduct may constitute a garden-variety public corruption crime: extortion and bribery. The Washington Post has reported that the subject of an intelligence community whistleblower’s complaint relates to a “promise” made by Trump in a conversation with the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. Further reporting indicates that the conversation amounted to a threat to withhold $250 million in military aid to Ukraine unless Zelensky investigates the family of Joe Biden, who is of course running to unseat Trump in 2020. Full Story

A Mother Jones investigation has uncovered new information about a puzzling Trump deal.
By Russ Choma

Donald Trump’s massive debts—he owes hundreds of millions of dollars—are the subject of continuous congressional and journalistic scrutiny. But for years, one Trump loan has been particularly mystifying: a debt of more than $50 million that Trump claims he owes to one of his own companies. According to tax and financial experts, the loan, which Trump has never fully explained, might be part of a controversial tax avoidance scheme known as debt parking.

Yet a Mother Jones investigation has uncovered information that raises questions about the very existence of this loan, presenting the possibility that this debt was concocted as a ploy to evade income taxes—a move that could constitute tax fraud. Here’s what is publicly known about this mystery debt: On the personal financial disclosure forms that Trump must file each year as president, he has divulged that he owes “over $50 million” to a company called Chicago Unit Acquisition LLC. The forms note that this entity is fully owned by Trump. In other words, Trump owes a large chunk of money to a company he controls. We don’t assess any value to it because we don’t care,” Trump said of the loan. “I have the mortgage. That is all there is. Very simple. I am the bank.”

The disclosures state that this loan is connected to Trump’s hotel and tower in Chicago, and the forms reveal puzzling details about Chicago Unit Acquisition: It earns no revenue—suggesting that Trump was not paying interest or principal on the loan—and Trump assigns virtually no value to Chicago Unit Acquisition. Something doesn’t add up. Under basic accounting principles, a firm that is owed money and has no outstanding debt should be worth at least as much as it is owed. The loan has another odd feature: It is identified as a “springing” loan, a type of loan made to borrowers who are viewed as credit risks. Known sometimes as “bad boy” loans, these agreements allow the lender to impose harsh repayment terms if certain criteria aren’t met. These are not the type of loan terms that someone is likely to impose on himself.

The Trump Organization has consistently refused to answer questions about Chicago Unit Acquisition, a limited liability company it formed in Delaware in 2005, as construction began on the Trump International Hotel and Tower in downtown Chicago. But Trump did tell the New York Times in a 2016 interview that this debt represents a loan he repurchased from a group of lenders. “We don’t assess any value to it because we don’t care,” Trump said. “I have the mortgage. That is all there is. Very simple. I am the bank.” Jason Greenblatt, who was then the Trump Organization’s top lawyer, declined to explain to the Times the reason for the Chicago Unit Acquisition deal. “It’s really personal corporate trade secrets, if you will,” he said. “Neither newsworthy or frankly anybody’s business.” Full Story

The president has told aides troubled by his orders not to “worry” about flouting any laws, The Washington Post reported.
By Nick Visser

President Donald Trump reportedly told officials in his administration that he would pardon them if they had to break any laws to get hundreds of miles of his border wall built before the next presidential election, according to a report Tuesday night in The Washington Post. “Don’t worry, I’ll pardon you,” the president has allegedly told aides worried about his instructions to seize private land through eminent domain, flout environmental rules or push through billion-dollar contracts. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reported remarks. The Post spoke with an anonymous administration official who said Trump was merely joking when he made those statements. The president has used his vow to have 500 miles of border wall constructed by the next election as an applause line at his campaign rallies. He reportedly has instructed aides to get the structure built at any cost. Full Story

There’s new reporting by the New York Times that Trump $1.17 billion between 1985 and 1994 according to documents obtained by the Times. David Cay Johnston says this adds to the mounting evidence against Trump on tax fraud. more...
Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General William Barr may have tried to clear him of obstruction, but Special Counsel Robert Mueller specifically did not exonerate him. Trump interfered in federal investigations and tried to influence their outcomes, violating federal law. That is a clear case of obstruction. What’s the evidence and what does it mean? The trail of evidence starts with Trump firing James Comey, the FBI director responsible for overseeing the investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia during the 2016 election. When the President fires people who are investigating him in an attempt to disrupt that investigation, it’s textbook obstruction. But he wasn’t done after Comey was gone. Trump made two more attempts at stopping the investigation by trying (unsuccessfully) to fire Robert Mueller, Comey’s predecessor. He has pushed out officials surrounding the investigation and sought to replace them with his loyalists. He has intimidated witnesses, and publicly dangled pardons, likely in an attempt to persuade them to change their testimony. Full Story

By Will Rahn

Although the special counsel's report on Russian interference does not come to a conclusion as to whether President Trump obstructed justice, Robert Mueller's team did examine 10 "discrete acts" in which he may have done so. The report says these 10 instances can be divided into "two phases, reflecting a possible shift in the president's motives." The first phase took place before Mr. Trump fired his first FBI director, James Comey, after he had been reassured he was not personally under investigation. After Comey's dismissal and Mueller's appointment as special counsel, the report indicates, the president knew he was now under investigation for possibly obstructing justice, and switched gears. Full Story

It’s no secret that tax law in the United States is extremely confusing. Even the length of the official tax code is subject to wild speculation; people estimate it to be somewhere between 2,500 pages and four times the length of the complete written works of Shakespeare. As a result of this confusion, many people are intimidated by this substantial piece of American legislation. It’s because of this wariness around taxes and tax law that accounting has become such a lucrative profession, and it’s why the word “audit” strikes fear into the hearts of business owners.

But what if we could make tax law less confusing? What if it’s possible to break down the thousands of pages and hundreds of sections into something easier for ordinary people to understand? In order to better understand the intricacies of tax law, we should start by examining the concept of tax fraud. After all, by understanding what constitutes a violation of the law, we can obtain a better understanding of the law itself. And what better place to start than with the President of the United States? Donald Trump has a long and fascinating history as a business mogul before becoming elected President in 2016. In that time, he has made big waves in real estate and entrepreneurship and has been accused of multiple fraudulent activities in the process. Many of these accusations have been catalogued in a massive exposé published by the New York Times. Full Story

In the 1990s, President Trump engaged in “dubious” tax schemes and “outright” fraud in an attempt to increase his parents’ wealth, $413 million of which was later transferred to Trump himself, according to an investigation published Tuesday by The New York Times. The Times reports that, among other illicit strategies, Trump and his siblings set up a fake corporation to hide financial gifts, Trump helped his father illegally claim millions in tax deductions, and Trump led his parents to undervalue their real-estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars when filing tax returns. Much of this wealth trickled down to Trump (the Times notes that he was a millionaire by the time he was eight), and was taxed far less than it would have been if it had been reported properly. The Times adds that Fred and Mary Trump gave more than $1 billion to their children, which could have been taxed at a rate of 55 percent, or $550 million. Instead, it was taxed at about 5 percent, and the Trumps only paid $52.5 million. Full Story
By aaron katersky

"Persistent illegality," not politics, is why the New York State attorney general’s office sued President Trump’s charitable foundation, the office said in a new court filing. The Trump Foundation is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit that alleged the foundation’s money was misused "numerous times" in ways that ran afoul of New York charities laws and denies engaging in any illegal activity.

In response, Attorney General Barbara Underwood's office disagrees and asserts the Trump Foundation "coordinated extensively" with the Trump campaign. "Donald J. Trump used his control over the Donald J. Trump Foundation for his benefit to advance his personal, business, and political interests in violation of federal and state law governing charities," the filing said.  The lawsuit accused President Trump -- along with his children, Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka -- of conflating charity with politics, repeated and willful self-dealing and failure to follow basic fiduciary obligations. Full Story


NEW YORK (AP) — Insider testimony, emails and other evidence show President Donald Trump turned his charitable foundation into a wing of his White House campaign, New York’s attorney general said in a new court filing Thursday. State Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, detailed her case against the foundation in a 37-page court filing in a lawsuit that seeks $2.8 million in restitution and an order banning Trump and his three eldest children from running any New York charities for 10 years.

The filing was a response to an earlier court submission from the foundation’s lawyers, who have argued that the lawsuit against the charity is both flimsy and politically motivated. NEW YORK (AP) — Insider testimony, emails and other evidence show President Donald Trump turned his charitable foundation into a wing of his White House campaign, New York’s attorney general said in a new court filing Thursday. State Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, detailed her case against the foundation in a 37-page court filing in a lawsuit that seeks $2.8 million in restitution and an order banning Trump and his three eldest children from running any New York charities for 10 years.

The filing was a response to an earlier court submission from the foundation’s lawyers, who have argued that the lawsuit against the charity is both flimsy and politically motivated. The Trump Foundation reached a deal in December to fold and distribute about $1.7 million in remaining funds to other nonprofits in a court-supervised process. Each charity will get the same amount, and the attorney general’s office has the right to reject the ones it deems unfit. That agreement, though, didn’t resolve the lawsuit, which says the foundation’s involvement in a Trump maneuver during the run-up to the Iowa caucuses in 2016 broke rules barring charities from getting involved in political campaigns.

At the time, Trump was feuding with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and refusing to participate in the network’s final Republican presidential primary debate before the caucuses. Instead, he held a rally at the same time as the debate at which he called on people to donate to veterans charities. The foundation acted as a pass-through for people who heeded his call for donations. James said the evidence of banned coordination between campaign officials and the foundation includes deposition testimony from Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg and emails he exchanged with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. In one email, a Trump company vice president asked Lewandowski for guidance on how to distribute the money that was raised. Full Story

The Donald J. Trump Foundation was a New York-based private foundation founded and chaired by U.S. president Donald Trump. Trump originally created the foundation to donate his proceeds from his book Trump: The Art of the Deal to charitable causes. Trump stopped contributing personal funds to the foundation in 2008 and instead solicited donations from outsiders. During the 2016 presidential election campaign the foundation's activities came under intense media scrutiny, initially by the Washington Post's David Fahrenthold, who went on to win the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for his investigatory work. Investigations subsequently revealed various ethical and legal violations, including failure to register in New York, self-dealing, and illegal campaign contributions.

In December 2016, Trump attempted to dissolve the foundation, but the office of the New York State attorney general Eric Schneiderman immediately blocked the dissolution pending completion of its then-ongoing investigation. On June 14, 2018, New York attorney general Barbara Underwood filed a civil suit against the foundation as well as Trump himself and Trump's three adult children, Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr., alleging "persistently illegal conduct" with respect to the foundation's money. She asked the court for an order dissolving the charity and imposing $2.8 million in restitution and penalties. She also made referrals to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

On June 18, New York governor Andrew Cuomo's office announced that the governor would refer the civil case to New York's Department of Taxation and Finance if it is requested to do so by the attorney general's office. Given the violations alleged in the civil case, some experts believe a tax investigation could lead to state criminal charges. On December 18, 2018, Attorney General Underwood announced that the foundation had agreed to shut down under court supervision and distribute its remaining assets to court-approved charities, although she did not end investigations of the foundation and its directors. Full Story

By aaron katersky and m.l. nestel

Trump University attendees are getting paid back. A federal judge in the Southern District of California on Monday finalized a $25 million settlement to be paid to attendees of the now-defunct real estate seminar called Trump University. Judge Gonzalo Curiel's decision came after an appeals court rejected arguments from a Florida woman who attended Trump University and said she wanted to pursue a separate lawsuit.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman called the settlement a victory for Trump U. "victims." "Judge Curiel's order finalizing the $25 million Trump University settlement means that victims of Donald Trump's fraudulent university will finally receive the relief they deserve," he said in a statement, adding that the amount surpassed the initial number the class-action suit initially negotiated. "This settlement marked a stunning reversal by President Trump, who for years refused to compensate the victims of his sham university," the statement added. "My office won't hesitate to hold those who commit fraud accountable, no matter how rich or powerful they may be." Full Story

Trump University (also known as the Trump Wealth Institute and Trump Entrepreneur Initiative LLC) was an American for-profit education company that ran a real estate training program from 2005 until 2010. It was owned and operated by the Trump Organization. (A separate organization, Trump Institute, was licensed by Trump University but not owned by the Trump Organization.)

After multiple lawsuits, it is now defunct. It was founded by Donald Trump and his associates, Michael Sexton and Jonathan Spitalny, in 2004. The company offered courses in real estate, asset management, entrepreneurship, and wealth creation. The organization was not an accredited university or college. It conducted three- and five- day seminars (often labelled "retreats") and used high pressure tactics to sell these to its customers. It did not confer college credit, grant degrees, or grade its students. In 2011, the company became the subject of an inquiry by the New York attorney general's office for illegal business practices that resulted in a lawsuit filed in 2013.

Trump University was also the subject of two class actions in federal court. The lawsuits centered around allegations that Trump University defrauded its students by using misleading marketing practices and engaging in aggressive sales tactics. The company and the lawsuits against it received renewed interest due to Trump's candidacy in the 2016 presidential election. Despite repeatedly insisting that he would not settle, Trump settled all three lawsuits in November 2016 for a total of $25 million after being elected to the presidency. Full Story

WASHINGTON, DC – The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) today imposed a $10 million civil money penalty against Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort (Trump Taj Mahal), for willful and repeated violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). In addition to the civil money penalty, the casino is required to conduct periodic external audits to examine its anti-money laundering (AML) BSA compliance program and provide those audit reports to FinCEN and the casino’s Board of Directors. Trump Taj Mahal, a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, admitted to several willful BSA violations, including violations of AML program requirements, reporting obligations, and recordkeeping requirements.

Trump Taj Mahal has a long history of prior, repeated BSA violations cited by examiners dating back to 2003. Additionally, in 1998, FinCEN assessed a $477,700 civil money penalty against Trump Taj Mahal for currency transaction reporting violations. "Trump Taj Mahal received many warnings about its deficiencies," said FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery. "Like all casinos in this country, Trump Taj Mahal has a duty to help protect our financial system from being exploited by criminals, terrorists, and other bad actors. Far from meeting these expectations, poor compliance practices, over many years, left the casino and our financial system unacceptably exposed." Trump Taj Mahal admitted that it failed to implement and maintain an effective AML program; failed to report suspicious transactions; failed to properly file required currency transaction reports; and failed to keep appropriate records as required by the BSA. Notably, Trump Taj Mahal had ample notice of these deficiencies as many of the violations from 2012 and 2010 were discovered in previous examinations. Full Story

Find out more about more about how the Trump crime family misled investors. more...

By Jennifer Rubin

President Trump exonerated himself. Attorney General William P. Barr dissembled to protect him. Republicans have practiced willful ignorance to avoid confronting the evidence in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report. A clear majority of Americans don’t buy any of it, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. Fifty-seven percent (though down from 64 percent in March) think Trump committed crimes before being elected, and 46 percent think he committed crimes since being elected, while 46 percent do not.

There is bad news for those trying to undermine Mueller or set up a credibility contest between Trump and other sources: Mueller conducted a fair investigation, voters say 72 - 18 percent, including 65 - 25 percent among Republicans. Voters say 51 - 38 percent that the Mueller Report did not clear President Trump of any wrongdoing. American voters also say 54 - 42 percent that Trump “attempted to derail or obstruct the investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 election.” . . . The news media is an important part of democracy, 66 percent of American voters say, while 23 percent say the media is the "enemy of the people." Republicans say 49 - 36 percent that the news media is the enemy of the people. Every other listed party, gender, education, age and racial group says the media is an important part of democracy.

By 52 - 35 percent, voters trust the media more than Trump to tell the truth about important issues. Republicans trust Trump more than the media 82 - 9 percent. Trusting the media more are Democrats 92 - 2 percent and independent voters 54 - 29 percent. ... The U.S. Supreme Court is too influenced by politics, voters say 59 - 35 percent. Republicans are divided as 44 percent say the Supreme Court is too influenced by politics and 49 percent say it is not. Every other listed group says the Supreme Court is too influenced by politics. Full Story

by Michael Sean Winters

Michael Cohen's testimony before Congress, combined with the House Judiciary Committee's issuance of a request for information from 81 people in the orbit of President Donald Trump, focused the nation's attention on the increasingly difficult-to-avoid conclusion that our president is, in technical, legal terminology, a crook. What is to be done? And who is to do it? Let's start with the second question first. Special counsel Robert Mueller and the prosecutors for the Southern District of New York are surely aware that Mr. Trump must not be treated with kid gloves because he is the president, but he must be treated differently. That is, no one is above the law, but the law must take account of the fact that it is aiming at the chief magistrate in the country, duly elected to office, and consequently, that any legal action is also a political action and, quite likely, a constitutional one. That is why I said at the beginning of the year that I hope Mr. Mueller understands he needs more than a smoking gun to charge the president with collusion with the Russians, he needs a smoking cannon. The evidence the prosecutors present must be virtually incontrovertible. Full Story

By Russ Buettner and Charles V. Bagli

ATLANTIC CITY — The Trump Plaza Casino and Hotel is now closed, its windows clouded over by sea salt. Only a faint outline of the gold letters spelling out T-R-U-M-P remains visible on the exterior of what was once this city’s premier casino. Not far away, the long-failing Trump Marina Hotel Casino was sold at a major loss five years ago and is now known as the Golden Nugget. At the nearly deserted eastern end of the boardwalk, the Trump Taj Mahal, now under new ownership, is all that remains of the casino empire Donald J. Trump assembled here more than a quarter-century ago. Years of neglect show: The carpets are frayed and dust-coated chandeliers dangle above the few customers there to play the penny slot machines. On the presidential campaign trail, Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, often boasts of his success in Atlantic City, of how he outwitted the Wall Street firms that financed his casinos and rode the value of his name to riches.

A central argument of his candidacy is that he would bring the same business prowess to the Oval Office, doing for America what he did for his companies. “Atlantic City fueled a lot of growth for me,” Mr. Trump said in an interview in May, summing up his 25-year history here. “The money I took out of there was incredible.”His audacious personality and opulent properties brought attention — and countless players — to Atlantic City as it sought to overtake Las Vegas as the country’s gambling capital. But a close examination of regulatory reviews, court records and security filings by The New York Times leaves little doubt that Mr. Trump’s casino business was a protracted failure. Though he now says his casinos were overtaken by the same tidal wave that eventually slammed this seaside city’s gambling industry, in reality he was failing in Atlantic City long before Atlantic City itself was failing.

But even as his companies did poorly, Mr. Trump did well. He put up little of his own money, shifted personal debts to the casinos and collected millions of dollars in salary, bonuses and other payments. The burden of his failures fell on investors and others who had bet on his business acumen. In three interviews with The Times since late April, Mr. Trump acknowledged in general terms that high debt and lagging revenues had plagued his casinos. He did not recall details about some issues, but did not question The Times’s findings. He repeatedly emphasized that what really mattered about his time in Atlantic City was that he had made a lot of money there. Full Story

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