Trump Family’s greed will be the end of them

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating the Eric Trump Foundation after Forbes reported a fundraiser meant to raise money for St. Jude’s was used to benefit the Trump Organization.

Eric Soufer, the attorney general’s director of communications, confirmed the investigation to Politico.

Forbes reviewed filings from Eric Trump’s foundation and found the Trump Organization received more than $1.2 million for use of the course. The Trump Organization also used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.

More than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to the Trump family, according to Forbes. Eric Trump sold donors on the fact that use of the golf course was free to ensure 100 percent of all money raised would go to charity.

Republicans are worried that Trump’s loud-mouthed, smart-ass New York lawyer will cause serious problems

Republicans are reportedly worrying that Marc Kasowitz — President Donald Trump’s civil lawyer from his days as a reality TV game show host and real estate mogul — is going to do the president more harm than good in the fight against the multiple federal investigations engulfing the White House.

The New York Daily News said Saturday that Republican officials are concerned that the “aggressive and loud” Kasowitz is wildly out of his depth trying to defend the president in an investigation as delicate and wide-ranging as the Russia probe.

Republicans who are wary of Kasowitz say one of their biggest concerns is Kasowitz’ habit of threatening to litigate over trifling offenses and then not following through. The Daily News said that Kasowitz threatened “The New York Times with a libel suit if it failed to retract a story detailing the accounts of women who alleged Trump of groping them.”

However, the Daily News’ Adam Edelman said, “The Times never retracted the story and Kasowitz never filed the suit.”

Similarly, Kasowitz threatened to file a complaint with the Inspector General against fired FBI Director James Comey over his testimony before Congress two weeks ago. However, there was no grounds for the complaint since Comey was appearing before Congress as a private citizen. Kasowitz never filed the complaint.

Politico reported Friday night that the normal tension and chaos of the Trump White House has escalated to a fever pitch. Last week, Kasowitz told aides and staffers that they need not worry about obtaining their own legal counsel, which many outsiders regard as terrible advice.

Vice President Mike Pence obtained his own independent legal representation and is currently raising “buckets” of money to pay for his defense.

“Pence hiring a lawyer tells the White House staff two things: They’re all potential witnesses in this investigation and don’t listen to Marc Kasowitz,” said former Clinton White House official Adam Goldberg to Politico.

Edelman wrote, “In the three weeks since being brought in by Trump, Kasowitz has already levied unfulfilled threats and reportedly bragged about convincing his new boss to fire people — actions that wouldn’t appear to help the commander-in-chief defend himself against possible obstruction of justice charges.”

According to Pro Publica, Kasowitz warned Trump months about U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, saying, “This guy is going to get you.”

At the time of his firing, Bharara was pursuing an active investigation against Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Rep. Tom Price R-GA). Trump fired him in March, only days after telling Bharara that he would be keeping his job leading the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Among Kasowitz’ other clients are the embattled Russian bank OJSC Sberbank and Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who was ousted from the network over a series of sexual harassment complaints.

Six HIV experts resign from Presidential commission because Trump doesn’t give a damn

Scott A. Schoettes

Posted with permission from Newsweek



Five of my colleagues and I resigned this week from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA).

As advocates for people living with HIV, we have dedicated our lives to combating this disease and no longer feel we can do so effectively within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care.

The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and—most concerning—pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease.

Created in 1995, PACHA provides advice, information, and recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding programs, policies, and research to promote effective treatment, prevention, and an eventual cure for HIV.

Members, appointed by the President, currently include public health officials, researchers, health care providers, faith leaders, HIV advocates, and people living with HIV. PACHA also monitors and provides recommendations to effectively implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which was created by the White House Office of National AIDS Policy in 2010 and revised in 2015.

The decision to resign from government service is not one that any of us take lightly. However, we cannot ignore the many signs that the Trump Administration does not take the on-going epidemic or the needs of people living with HIV seriously.

While many members of the public are unaware of the significant impact that HIV/AIDS continues to have in many communities— or that only 40 percent of people living with HIV in the United States are able to access the life-saving medications that have been available for more than 20 years—it is not acceptable for the U.S. President to be unaware of these realities, to set up a government that deprioritizes fighting the epidemic and its causes, or to implement policies and support legislation that will reverse the gains made in recent years.

Signs of President Trump’s lack of understanding and concern regarding this important public health issue were apparent when he was a candidate. While Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders both met with HIV advocates during the primaries, candidate Trump refused. Whatever the politics of that decision, Mr. Trump missed an opportunity to learn—from the experts—about the contours of today’s epidemic and the most pressing issues currently affecting people living with HIV.

In keeping with candidate Trump’s lack of regard for this community, President Trump took down the Office of National AIDS Policy website the day he took office and there has been no replacement for this website 132 days into his administration.

More important, President Trump has not appointed anyone to lead the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, a post that held a seat on the Domestic Policy Council under President Obama. This means no one is tasked with regularly bringing salient issues regarding this ongoing public health crisis to the attention of the President and his closest advisers.

By comparison, President Obama appointed a director to this office just 36 days into his administration. Within 18 months, that new director and his staff crafted the first comprehensive U.S. HIV/AIDS strategy. By contrast, President Trump appears to have no plan at all.

We believe he should embrace the important work accomplished by the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Public health is not a partisan issue, and this important document could easily be ratified by the Trump Administration. If the President is not going to engage on the subject of HIV/AIDS, he should at least continue policies that support people living with and at higher risk for HIV and have begun to curtail the epidemic.

While these actions and others are gravely worrisome to us as HIV advocates, the final straw for us—more like a two-by-four than a straw—is President Trump’s handling of health care reform.

It is indisputable that the Affordable Care Act has benefitted people living with HIV and supported efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Gains in the percentage of people with HIV who know their status, the percentage engaged in care, the percentage receiving successful treatment, and a decrease in new cases of HIV were seen in Massachusetts under Romneycare. We are beginning to see similar effects on a national level under Obamacare.

People living with HIV know how broken the pre-ACA system was. Those without employer-based insurance were priced out of the market because of pre-existing condition exclusions. And “high risk pools” simply segregated people living with HIV and other health conditions into expensive plans with inferior coverage and underfunded subsidies—subsidies advocates had to fight for tooth-and-nail in every budgetary session.

Because more than 40 percent of people with HIV receive care through Medicaid, proposed cuts to that program would be extremely harmful. Prior to Medicaid expansion under ACA, a person had to be both very low income and disabled to be eligible for Medicaid.

For people living with HIV, that usually meant an AIDS diagnosis—making the disease more difficult and expensive to bring under control—before becoming eligible.

Between reinstating that paradox by defunding Medicaid expansion, imposing per-person caps on benefits, and/or block granting the program, the changes to Medicaid contemplated by the American Health Care Act would be particularly devastating for people living with HIV.

And we know who the biggest losers will be if states are given the option of eliminating essential health benefits or allowing insurers to charge people with HIV substantially more than others.

It will be people—many of them people of color—across the South and in rural and underserved areas across the country, the regions and communities now at the epicenter of the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic.

It will be young gay and bisexual men; it will be women of color; it will be transgender women; it will be low-income people.

It will be people who become newly infected in an uncontrolled epidemic, new cases that could be prevented by appropriate care for those already living with the disease.

While we are in agreement that the ACA needs to be strengthened to lower premiums, improve competition, and increase access to care, it makes no sense to dismiss gains made under the ACA just to score political points.

Experts with real facts, grounded in science, must be in the room when healthcare policy decisions are made. Those decisions affect real people and real lives. If we do not ensure that U.S. leadership at the executive and legislative levels are informed by experience and expertise, real people will be hurt and some will even die.

Because we do not believe the Trump Administration is listening to—or cares—about the communities we serve as members of PACHA, we have decided it is time to step down.

We will be more effective from the outside, advocating for change and protesting policies that will hurt the health of the communities we serve and the country as a whole if this administration continues down the current path.

We hope the members of Congress who have the power to affect healthcare reform will engage with us and other advocates in a way that the Trump Administration apparently will not.

Scott A. Schoettes is Counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal . He resigned from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS on June 13, along with Lucy Bradley-Springer, Gina Brown, Ulysses W. Burley III, Michelle Ogle, and Grissel Granados.

Kellyanne Conway says: “If I were shot, half of Twitter would approve!”

Kellyanne Conway blamed the shootings of two Republican congressman on critical media coverage of the Trump administration and suggested her own critics would cheer if she were killed.

The White House adviser appeared Friday morning on “Fox & Friends,” where she complained about the media coverage on the day GOP majority whip Steve Scalise and Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) were shot and wounded, along with three others, while practicing for a congressional baseball game.

“But look at Twitter,” Conway continued. “If I was shot and killed tomorrow, half of Twitter would explode in applause and excitement — this is the world we live in now.”

Hmmmm.  Only HALF?  I suspect it would be more like 99.9%.

Quietly, behind closed doors, Republicans are already planning to dump Trump for Pence, pick Pence’s VP

According to an Axios report, the latest Republican “parlor game” focuses on who current Vice President Mike Pence would choose as his own VP should President Donald Trump be impeached.

Played in “the shadows of the Russia investigation,” this VP speculation game focuses on the desired “effect” each speculative vice president would have on the country.

The choice of Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan or Nikki Haley would result in a “return to normalcy,” while Bob Gates or John Boehner would help ease the “anxiety” created by Trump.

Picking Joe Biden or Michael Bloomberg, Axios noted, would “calm the country” by assuring them there would be no Trump-era status quo in the White House, whereas someone like Jeff Sessions, Rudy Giuliani or Newt Gingrich would “keep the spirit of America First Trumpism alive.”

Conservative columnist states the obvious: Trump is not smart enough to be President.

In a new Foreign Policy column, conservative columnist Max Boot claims that President Donald Trump may not be intelligent enough to hold office.

“The evidence continues to mount that he is far from smart,” Boot wrote. “So far, in fact, that he may not be capable of carrying out his duties as president.”

Boot argues that there are a number of indicators for the president’s low IQ: he believes he made up the phrase “priming the pump,” he doesn’t know Israel is in the Middle East and he requires “dumbed down” security briefings.

The icing on the cake, according to Boot, is that the president thought firing former FBI Director James Comey would somehow “exonerate” him of the pressure the bureau put on him over his relationship to Russia.

“How could Trump fire Comey knowing that the FBI director could then testify about the improper requests Trump had made to exonerate himself and drop the investigation of Flynn? And in case there was any doubt about Trump’s intent, he dispelled it by acknowledging on TV that he had the ‘Russia thing’ in mind when firing the FBI director,” Boot wrote. “That’s tantamount to admitting obstruction of justice.”

“Is this how a smart person behaves?” he continued. “If Trump decides to fire the widely respected special counsel Robert Mueller, he will only be compounding this stupidity.”

“Trump supporters used to claim that sage advisors could make up for his shortcomings,” Boot wrote. “But he is proving too willful and erratic to be steered by those around him who know better.”

Blasting Trump’s inability to “learn on the job,” Boot concluded that “nearly five months in office, Trump has given no indication that he possesses the mental capacity to be president.”

Read Boot’s entire takedown of the president’s lack intelligence via Foreign Policy and Yahoo News.

In spite of mounting evidence, Trump refuses to believe Russia tried to interfere with US election

According to a Wall Street Journal report, President Donald Trump attempted to persuade the director of the National Security Agency to say that there was no collusion between the president’s campaign and Russia, and that he does not believe Russia interfered in his election.

According to sources familiar with the matter, there exists a memo written after a phone conversation between Trump and NSA Director Adm. Rogers where “the president questioned the veracity of the intelligence community’s judgment that Russia had interfered with the election and also tried to persuade Adm. Rogers to say there was no evidence of collusion between the campaign and Russian officials.”

On June 7, the day before former FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress about the events leading up to his firing by Trump, Adm. Rogers said he didn’t feel any pressure from the president “to push back against allegations of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

The Journal‘s report also confirms the Washington Post and New York Times reports that Trump is now being investigated for potential obstruction of justice by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Read the entire report via the Wall Street Journal.