Trump Stole Money Donated For Kids Fighting Cancer

Dan Alexander with Forbes:

 The best part about all this, according to Eric Trump, is the charity’s efficiency: Because he can get his family’s golf course for free and have most of the other costs donated, virtually all the money contributed will go toward helping kids with cancer. “We get to use our assets 100% free of charge,” Trump tells Forbes.

That’s not the case. In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it’s clear that the course wasn’t free–that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament.

Additionally, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which has come under previous scrutiny for self-dealing and advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charity, apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.

And while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses.

A Direct Line to Compromise

Our days aren’t complete without the latest aside in the ongoing disaster. This time it’s a secret phone line that Trump’s son-in-law wanted to set up between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin using Russia’s technology. Ellen Nakashima, Adam Entous, and Greg Miller for the Washington Post:

Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports.

Ambassador Sergei Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, son-in-law and confidant to then-President-elect Trump, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Kislyak said Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications.

The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser.

The Post’s Robert Costa also has the scoop on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s request for “…all documents, emails and phone records going back to his campaign’s launch…” from the Trump campaign:

The request to Trump’s political operatives represents the first time that Trump’s official campaign structure has been drawn into the Senate committee’s ongoing bipartisan investigation. That investigation is separate from the federal probe being led by the Justice Department’s special counsel, former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III.

“The Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the state’s special election”

Julia Carrie Wong & Sam Levin reporting for The Guardian who captured the above audio:

The Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the state’s special election, breaking his glasses and shouting, “Get the hell out of here.”

Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political reporter, was asking Greg Gianforte, a tech millionaire running for the seat vacated by Ryan Zinke, about the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate allegedly “body-slammed” the reporter.

“He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said by phone from the back of an ambulance. “This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”

Fox News reporters witnessed the unprovoked assault, Alicia Acuna:

During that conversation, another man — who we now know is Ben Jacobs of The Guardian — walked into the room with a voice recorder, put it up to Gianforte’s face and began asking if him if he had a response to the newly released Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act. Gianforte told him he would get to him later. Jacobs persisted with his question. Gianforte told him to talk to his press guy, Shane Scanlon.

At that point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of “I’m sick and tired of this!”

The response from the candidate is insane and contradicts everyone who witnessed it and the audio:

“After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”

“Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, did not dispute the account.”

Matt Apuzzo, Maggie Haberman, and Matthew Rosenberg for the Times:

President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”

It Gets Worse

This morning, the Times’ Michael S. Schmidt reported that Comey left a fantastic paper trail before he was fired:

President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

The existence of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.

Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.

There’s also this incredible buried lede:

Alone in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.

An Idiot’s Guide to Mishandling Classified Information

Absolutely insane series of events.

Yesterday the Washington Post’s Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe reported that Trump gave classified information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in front of the Russian press during their jovial meeting at the White House:

The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.

“This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”

This isn’t the first time the embarrassment has mishandled classified information, but the follow-up was so flawed.

The LA Times’ Michael A. Memoli and Noah Bierman quoting the national security advisor:

McMaster said Trump “wasn’t even aware” of the source of the information and again called “the premise” of a Washington Post report that Trump had improperly shared highly classified intelligence “false.”

This morning, the embarrassment confirmed the original article:

That isn’t how that works. The president casually gave classified information to a foreign adversary in front of their state media.

National Embarrassment Threatens Former FBI Director With Blackmail

After lying about his predecessor recording his calls, Trump has threatened to release secret recordings of his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey:

If the White House records something it can be subpoenaed as Nixon’s recordings were during Watergate.

More Details About Comey

The WSJ’s Shane Harris and Carol E. Lee:

Mr. Comey started receiving daily instead of weekly updates on the investigation, beginning at least three weeks ago, according to people with knowledge of the matter and the progress of the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe. Mr. Comey was concerned by information showing possible evidence of collusion, according to these people.

The collusion might be entirely overstated, but the cover-up is amazing.

 

Who Do You Meet With After Firing The FBI Director Investigating Your Collusion With Russia?

David E. Sanger and Neil MacFarquhar for the Times:

Only hours after dismissing James B. Comey as director of the F.B.I., amid an investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian officials, the president met with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, at the White House. The Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey I. Kislyak — best known to many Americans as the man who discussed lifting sanctions on Russia with Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser — was also in the Oval Office for the meeting.

The world’s only glimpse of this session came from the Russian news agency Tass, which distributed photos of the meeting, with a grinning Mr. Trump shaking hands with the two visitors. No reporters were allowed in to ask questions — though they were ushered in minutes later for Mr. Trump’s session with Henry A. Kissinger, the former secretary of state.

Breaking here to note how insane it is that journalists weren’t allowed to  witness the meeting with Trump and the Russian kleptocrats. Very reassuring.

And, at the State Department, there was no briefing on an earlier meeting between Mr. Lavrov and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson. Mr. Tillerson is famously reluctant to talk with the press. So that left the field clear for Mr. Lavrov, who has now sat opposite four American secretaries of state and knows how to work the news media well, to describe the conversations.

A Brief History of the President’s Lies

David Leonhardt in the opinion pages:

The president of the United States is lying again.

He is lying about the reason he fired James Comey, the F.B.I. director. Trump claimed that he was doing so because Comey bungled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email, which meant that Comey was “not able to effectively lead the bureau.”

There is no reason to believe Trump’s version of the facts and many reasons to believe he is lying. How can I be so confident?

First, it’s important to remember just how often Trump lies. Virtually whenever he finds it more convenient to tell a falsehood than to tell a truth, he chooses the falsehood.

An incomplete list of the things he has lied about include: Barack Obama’s birthplace, Obama’s phone “tapp,” John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Sept. 11, the Iraq war, ISIS, NATO, military veterans, Mexican immigrants, Muslim immigrants, anti-Semitic attacks, the unemployment rate, the murder rate, the Electoral College, voter fraud, the size of his inaugural crowd, his health care bill and his own groping of women.

Great article, you should read the whole thing.