Extensive reporting by the Washington Post's David Farenthold shows how Donald Trump used the Trump foundation to take credit for donations using other people's money. In Farenthold's first example, a New Jersey charity gave $150,000 to the Trump foundation. The Trump foundation then contributed $150,000 to the Palm Beach Police Foundation without adding any of Trump's own money. The police foundation rented a room at Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club for a gala to give Trump an award for his philanthropy; the bill for the facilities rental was $276,463 according to police foundation tax records.
Farenthold also found that on at least two occasions Trump spent foundation money on gifts for himself, including $20,000 on a 6-foot high portrait of himself. Foundation funds have also been used for political purposes, which is illegal.
Yesterday's NY Daily News reported that Trump's repeated claims that he obtained 9/11 recovery program funds as reimbursement for charitable work are almost certainly false. The program's purpose was to help local businesses resume routine operations. The News reported:
Records from the Empire State Development Corp., which administered the recovery program, show that Trump’s company asked for those funds for "rent loss," "cleanup" and "repair" — not to recuperate money lost in helping people.
Despite questions about its longterm viability, Twitter has served as a forum for some of the more incisive political discussions of the 2016 campaigns. Currently trending is a conversation among a diverse group of political commentators questioning NY Times coverage of the presidential campaign. A leading voice is Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute. Joining Ornstein in taking the Times to task for its sloppy news coverage are leading election law scholar Rick Hasen, as well as journalists James Fallows, Eric Boehlert, and Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall, among others.
The main thrust of the group's criticism has been what Marshall calls "parodic coverage" of the Clintons by by the news division of the NY Times — which, "though only as a leading example for the rest of the national press, has a decades' long history of being lead around by rightwing opposition researchers into dead ends which amount to journalistic comedy...," while Trump's history of criminal ties, business and political corruption, misuse of a nonprofit entity, and the "Trump University" scam have been mostly ignored.
In this morning's Mother Jones Kevin Drum posts his analysis of the FBI report on Hillary Clinton's email and concludes "There's remarkably little here."
... [T]his report is pretty much an almost complete exoneration of Hillary Clinton. She wasn't prohibited from using a personal device or a personal email account, and others at state did it routinely. She's told the truth all along about why she did it. Colin Powell did indeed advise her about using personal email shortly after she took office, but she chose to follow the rules rather than skirt them, as Powell did. She didn't take her BlackBerry into her office. She communicated with only a very select group of 13 people. She took no part in deciding which emails were personal before handing them over to State. She had nothing to do with erasing information on the PRN server. That was a screw-up on PRN's end. She and her staff all believed at the time that they were careful not to conduct sensitive conversations over unclassified email systems. And there's no evidence that her server was ever hacked.
In a rare moment of clarity, recently at least, for the Washington Post, Paul Waldman writes in today's "Plum Line" that a raft of emails released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request reveal that donors to the Clinton Foundation wanted some kind of access but didn't get it. Waldman highlights three communications between Clinton Foundation executive and Clinton aide Huma Abedin:
- A sports executive who had donated to the foundation wanted to arrange for a visa for a British soccer player to visit the United States; he was having trouble getting one because of a criminal conviction. Abedin said she’d look into it, but there’s no evidence she did anything and the player didn’t get his visa.
- Bono, who had donated to the foundation, wanted to have some kind of arrangement whereby upcoming U2 concerts would be broadcast to the International Space Station. Abedin was puzzled by this request, and nothing was ever done about it.
- The Crown Prince of Bahrain, who had donated to the foundation, wanted to meet with Clinton on a visit to Washington. Abedin responded to Band that the Bahrainis had already made that request through normal diplomatic channels. The two did end up meeting.
That, apparently, is it. As Waldman notes, if there were more, Judicial Watch, who brought the FOIA request, would certainly have shared. Read the full article here.
Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall sent up early warnings of the "seeming bromance between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin." In his most recent examination of Trump's various dependencies on Russian connections Marshall observes that as Trump's debt load has nearly doubled over the last year, and no major US banks but one will do business with him, Trump has increasingly relied on Russian oligarchs " many with ties to Putin — for cash. In addition Marshall cites Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort's history defending ousted pro-Russian former Ukrainian President Yanukovych, and Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page's ties to Russian energy conglomerate Gazprom.
Responding to a Sanders supporter's tweet that Clinton campaign "strategy" would be to declare victory after the New Jersey primary on June 7, FiveThiryEight.com's Nate Silver tweeted:
Clinton "strategy" is to persuade more "people" to "vote" for her, hence producing a "majority" of "delegates."
Echoing Talking Point Memo's Josh Marshall, investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Kurt Eichenwald, who now writes for Newsweek, in his May 27 piece labels the hub-bub over Clinton's emails a "nothing burger."
The recent report released by the inspector general of the State Department shows that, on the topics it analyzes, there is no Clinton email scandal.
Trump is doing this for the simple reason of brutalizing Clinton and showing that he can do so. Whether it makes any sense as a literal argument is really beside the point. It is at the root of the "bitch slap" mentality that power is demonstrated by inflicting harm on others and showing they can't fight back.