Soggy crisis after crisis

Well in a week where one hurricane devastated south central America and another hurricane expected to go straight through Florida, it was for the most part a quiet week with Donald Trump. But it wasn’t quiet!

Trump surprised the leaders of his own party in Congress when he backed a deal pushed by Democrats to attach hurricane relief money to a shorter-term bump in the debt ceiling as well as keeping the government open, cutting off his own Treasury secretary to strike a deal. Republican congressional leaders, in control of both chambers of the legislative branch, were “shell-shocked” and “visibly annoyed”. Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin was in the middle of arguing for a longer-term deal in the meeting when the President abruptly cut him off and sided with the Democrats. The House easily approved with the deal where all but 90 Republicans approved.

House Republicans unleashed their fury over Trump’s deal with the Democrats at Steve Mnuchin, with conservatives calling the treasury secretary’s appeal to them to “vote for it for me” insulting and inappropriate. Most rank-and-file House Republicans don’t know Mnuchin and more than one said they believed he was a Democrat, based on his previous donations to political candidates.

Republicans were hoping to get am 18 month extension of the debt ceiling. Do the math. The 18 months would expire after the mid-term elections. 18 months would of helped many Republicans up for mid-term elections tell their constituents that it would have been a big win – maybe [so far] the only big win in this session of Congress.

Trump will phase out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [or DACA] that has protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children. Trump tweeted “Make no mistake, we are going to put the interest of AMERICAN CITIZENS FIRST!” Sure, but most of these people are taking courses in colleges and universities. Others have graduated. Microsoft has 27 of these “Dreamers” working for them.

Trump was expected to end the program with a potential six-month delay, during which Congress could potentially pass legislation protecting people who would otherwise lose their legal protection under DACA. Trump claims he is sympathetic to the plight of the immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children and in some cases have no memories of the countries they were born in. During the elections, his campaign rhetoric blasting DACA as illegal “amnesty”. Last week, Trump said, “We love the ‘Dreamers'”.

Javier Palomarez, the head of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said he plans to work until the “bloody end” to sway Trump to keep intact an Obama-era program extending legal protections to young undocumented immigrants. “If he gets rid of DACA, he’s showing that he is a liar.” He changed his mind as he announced he would step down from Trump’s National Diversity Coalition.

If the Dreamers left, it would cost the government $60 billion over 10 years and $400 billion in the economy over 10 years.

In 2011, Trump said that it would be very wrong to deport the Dreamers. They do a good job, good marks, etc.

A coalition of 16 Democratic and nonpartisan state attorneys general filed suit in New York federal court on Wednesday to stop Trump’s sunset of DACA and they say Trump’s comments about Mexicans should be used against him. The lawsuit also devotes a section to Texas, the state that pushed Trump to end the program, using a section to describe Texas as “a state found to have discriminated against Latinos/Hispanics nine times since 2012.”

Trump, who styles himself a master negotiator, threw himself into the middle of the fight between Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE by offering to mediate the dispute at the White House. You know they won’t take him seriously.

A watchdog group is looking into a trip that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin made recently with his wife, Louise Linton, aboard a government plane. He supposedly went there to discuss tax reform and later the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox. The group is investigating whether the purpose of the trip was actually to view the total solar eclipse. Has he visited anywhere else regarding the tax reform or is it a coincidence that he went to one of the best locations to see the eclipse at the same time?

Trump always boasted that his Mar-a-Lago mansion can withstand any storm. His boasting will get the big test this weekend with Hurricane Irma heading its way. Strikes by four major hurricanes have done little damage to Mar-a-Lago in the 90 years. The mansion’s walls are 1 meter thick, anchored by steel and concrete beams embedded into coral rock.

[While I think we hope there is no damage to the joint, I’m sure a few hope that the place does get hit a bit so it would put Trump in his place.]

An AP investigation last year showed Trump received a $17 million insurance payment for Mar-a-Lago damage in 2005 after hurricanes Frances, Jeanne and Wilma hit in two years, but he said in an unrelated lawsuit deposition in 2007 that he didn’t know how much was spent on repairs. He conceded to pocketing some of the money. Anthony Senecal, Trump’s longtime butler and Mar-a-Lago’s unofficial historian, told the AP the roof lost some tiles and some trees were flattened. Town of Palm Beach records showed no permits were issued for major repairs during that period.

Woops. White House aides reportedly refer to Ivanka Trump as “Princess Royal” behind her back, and it’s definitely not meant to be a compliment. Ivanka Trump has little to no political experience and was not elected to office, so many questioned what qualifications she had to act on the president’s behalf in such a formal, international setting at the G-20 summit, during which at one point she sat in for her father.

According to Vanity Fair, one former Trump adviser responded by stating, “Excuse me. This is not a royal family, and she’s not the princess royal,” which helps explain the nickname.

Former Trump Chief Strategist Steve Bannon claims that illegal aliens are filling the churches of America. The church “have an economic interest”. James Rogers, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’s chief spokesman, called Bannon’s comments “preposterous” and accused the conservative agitator of presenting a false choice between compassion and security. “Our pro-immigration stance is based on fidelity to God’s word and honors the American dream. For anyone to suggest that it is out of sordid motives of statistics or financial gain is outrageous and insulting.”

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, more than a quarter of American Catholics (27%) were born outside the country, mostly from the Americas; and one out of three American Catholics now identify as Latino or Hispanic. Of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States in 2011, for example, 82% were Christian, mostly from Latin America.

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How the Trump family is profiting from charities [updated]

Updated. See slow….

According to Forbes, the charity Eric Trump Foundation, brought in $1.2 million from donors in 2015, And while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids with cancer, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities [some not related to cancer or sick kids foundations], 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.

All of this seems to defy federal tax rules and state laws that ban self-dealing and misleading donors. It also raises larger questions about the Trump family dynamics and whether Eric and his brother, Don Jr., can be truly independent of their father. Foundation had no actual employees until 2015 and all board members were friends of his. In 2014, 4 left and 14 were added. Almost half had connections to the Trump Organization.

Holding an annual charity golf tournament at Mar-A-Lago saw cost balloon from $59,000 in 2012 to $230,000 in 2013 jumping to $322,000 in 2015 as Donald Trump insisted nothing is for free and charged Eric’s foundation. After calculations, no one can figure out how they were billed that much at full cost in 2015. While the event pulled in $2 million in donations, in subsequent years, it never went reached $2 million.

It seems after a “successful” charity golf tournament at Mar-A-Lago, the foundation added a few other golf events and fundraisers.

Eric Trump also used foundation money for non-foundation purposed such as a copper wine still and an antique bottle washer. The foundation used money to send it to another foundation where a painter created a portrait of Donald Trump. That portrait ended up hanging over the couch in Eric Trump’s house.

But in 2015, with other people’s’ money, a new intensive-care unit at St. Jude opened with Eric Trump’s name on it, and the foundation’s money has funded research into a rare form of cancer. Last year, the Eric Trump Foundation donated $2.9 million, according to St. Jude.

More recently, the foundation has rebranded itself as Curetivity. A spokeswoman for the organization said it would continue hosting golf tournaments to raise money for St. Jude.

[Forbes will have a detailed article at the end of the month, the Trump family and foundations declined to comment when Forbes asked.]

Updated 2017/06/10:

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is “looking into” a charitable foundation founded by Eric Trump, a spokesman for Schneiderman said, after Forbes magazine raised questions about whether Donald Trump’s son had made misleading statements about how the foundation spent its money. It was at an early stage and could not be considered a formal investigation.

One item at issue was that the Eric Trump Foundation has rebranded itself “Curetivity” and held a fundraiser under that name. But, after a query from The Washington Post morning, the attorney general’s office said the charity had not officially changed its name with New York charity regulators

Schneiderman’s office is already investigating the Donald Trump’s own name-branded foundation. Trump had used his charity’s money to settle lawsuits involving his for-profit businesses or to buy portraits of himself. That investigation is ongoing, a spokeswoman for Schneiderman said.

[Not surprising, those pro-Trump supports claimed that Forbes has no evidence. I am sure a respectable magazine like Forbes would not publish a story unless there are facts – unlike Fox News, Breitbart, etc. Changing the registration of a charity should be easy for anyone to confirm.]

 

 

Trump and immigration

Businesses run and owned by Donald Trump and his adult children have been certified to legally hire 1,371 foreign visa workers since 2001. In addition, Trump-branded real estate has raised at least $50 million in foreign investor money through a program that gives foreign investors access to green cards, according to the company that did the development of the real estate. The Trump enterprise has made use of low-skilled permits for vineyard seasonal workers, for example, and has used high-skilled visas to bring in models for its modeling agency.

Trumps’ businesses have received 283 H-1B visas since 2001. The high-skilled visas have been used for Trump’s modeling venture, Trump Model Management, Mar-A-Lago, the Trump Corporation and businesses associated with his hotels and resorts. Yes, the H-1B visa is to be used for scientists, doctors and the like – not for models, cooks and accountants [all which can be found quite easily].

Trump businesses have received 1,024 H-2B visas since 2000, according to Labor records. Those visas have gone to Mar-A-Lago, Jupiter Gold Club, Lamington Farm and the Trump National Golf Club for jobs like cooks, waiters and waitresses and housekeepers. Trump Vineyards has received 64 H-2A permits since 2006 for agricultural work.

Melania Trump is Slovenian, but began modeling in the US with H-1B visas and was given a green card in 2001, before she married Trump. Trump self-sponsored herself for residency, according to a letter by her attorney released during the campaign. She became a US citizen in 2006. [She also had some run-ins with others claiming she was an escort while at Trump Model Management.]

Trump’s first wife, Ivana, was also an immigrant, coming to the US via Canada from Czechoslovakia. Ivana became a US citizen in 1988, 11 years after she married Trump.

Trump faced a lawsuit in the 1980s that accused him and business partners of withholding wages from undocumented Polish immigrants and union workers hired by a contracting company called Kaszycki & Sons to demolish the building that would make room for Trump Tower.

A judge ruled in 1991 that Trump and his associates owed the workers more than $300,000 plus interest. The ruling was appealed, and the case was eventually settled under a sealed agreement, according to a source familiar with the proceedings.

The Washington Post reported in 2015 that it interviewed workers on the construction of Trump’s hotel in the nation’s capital who said they entered the country illegally, several of whom were still lacking authorization to live and work in the US.

Ever notice that the only Trump business that didn’t fit the same area of ownership is the Trump Model Management which would have little to do with the other businesses unless the models need a room to stay or take a vacation at Mar-A-Lago.