Touching on corruption claims tainting his administration’s reputation, Trump also dismissed concerns that his administration was directing government business to his resorts in Scotland and Ireland.
He didn’t argue that such a move would be unethical. The President insisted — with the chutzpah that his supporters love — that he was simply too rich to need the help. “I’m going to give out my financial condition. And you’ll be extremely shocked that the numbers are many, many times what you think,” said Trump, who unlike other presidents has refused to release his tax returns and to fully divest from his businesses. “I don’t need to have somebody take a room overnight at a hotel.”
Conflicts of Interest
The Trump Organization generated at least $500 million of revenue in 2017, according to the president’s most recent financial disclosure. Trump transferred ownership of the business before his inauguration to a trust run by sons Donald Jr. and Eric and longtime executive Allen Weisselberg and promised not to embark on any new projects outside the U.S. But the moves didn’t mollify critics. That the president can revoke the trust and withdraw money at any time has helped prompt lawsuits alleging he is violating the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The arrangement has provoked concerns that foreign governments can curry favor with the president by renting rooms at his luxury hotel in Washington or deploying state-owned companies to develop overseas projects, as some suggested a Chinese firm may have done when it agreed to help build a $500 million entertainment complex in Indonesia that includes a Trump-branded hotel. Last year the president reported income from at least 11 countries.
Internal government emails about the FBI’s headquarters made public in October of 2017 further fueled doubts that the president has separated himself from his business. The emails, from January, appear to show officials discussing Trump’s personal involvement in discussions about a new building on the site, just down the street from his Washington hotel. Trump, a wealthy businessman who operates country clubs and resorts, has reportedly profited from at least 10 foreign governments during his time as president. The include the Kuwaiti Embassy, which booked the Trump hotel for an event; a public-relations firm hired by Saudi Arabia that spent $270,000 on rooms, meals and parking at Trump’s hotel in Washington; and Turkey, which used the same facility for a government-sponsored event.
Emoluments Violations- Endless!
Critics argue Trump’s acceptance of payments from foreign governments violates the Foreign Emoluments Clause, which bans elected officials in the United States from accepting gifts or other valuables from foreign leaders. The Constitution states: “No Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Dozens of lawmakers and several entities have filed suit against Trump alleging violations of the clause, including the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “Trump is the framers’ worst-case scenario — a president who would seize office and attempt to exploit his position for personal financial gain with every governmental entity imaginable, across the United States or around the world,” Norman Eisen, the chief White House ethics lawyer for Obama, told The Washington Post.
His Lawyer and Fixer Sent to Jail!
In August, his longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, one of which implicated the Trump Organization in hush-money payments to a woman who said she had an affair with Trump, which could prompt state and federal prosecutors to investigate the company. Michael Cohen, Trump’s long-time lawyer and “fixer” pleaded guilty to federal crimes he says he committed at Trump’s direction. On August 21, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in a federal court in Manhattan to a series of felony crimes involving Trump. Cohen entered guilty pleas to five counts of tax evasion, one count of bank fraud, one count of making an unlawful corporate contribution, and one count of making an illegal campaign finance contribution on October 27, 2016 — the day a $130,000 payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels was finalized. During his plea entry, Cohen said he had made the illegal campaign and corporate contributions “at the direction of the candidate” and with the “purpose of influencing the election.” He did not identify said candidate by name, but the criminal complaint, which refers to said candidate as “individual 1,” said that person became President of the United States in January 2017 — meaning it can be only be President Donald Trump. On December 12, Cohen was sentenced to 36 months in prison.
His Foundation- A Personal Piggy-Bank and Money Launderer for his Family
The Donald J. Trump Foundation was used to settle its namesake’s personal debts, benefit his business and boost his presidential campaign in violation of the state tax code, according to a lawsuit filed in June by New York’s attorney general. In December, Trump agreed to shut it down under an agreement with the state that called for the charity’s remaining $1.7 million in assets to be given away.
One investigation by The New York Times called Trump’s approach to paying taxes as “outright fraud” noting that Trump had devised, “a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns.” That’s a big deal because this undervaluation enabled the Trump family to underpay inheritance taxes from the senior Trumps’ estate by about 90 percent. The inheritance tax at the time was 55 percent and Fred Trump and his wife left an estate worth more than a billion dollars yet paid about $52.2 million according to tax records. All of this points to tax fraud and more importantly to ongoing fraud that seems to be a good fit with the RICO statute.
Trump Hidden Taxes! Loams from the Russians?
The Oversight Committee acted last year after former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testified that “Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.” The Financial Services and Intelligence committees said they were looking into money laundering and lending practices. House Democrats have said they believe Trump’s tax returns might provide insights into a question special counsel Robert Mueller never answered: Did Trump borrow money from Russian entities or otherwise do business with them before he became president? He has denied any such relationship. Democrats say that if any existed, that would give Russian President Vladimir Putin leverage over Trump. The House lawyers say the president’s immunity from the burdens of legal process applies only to his official acts, not his personal ones. Grand juries cannot be blocked from investigating a president’s private conduct, they say, because that could hinder the prosecution of a president after leaving office.
Scottish leaders are advocating for an investigation into President Donald Trump over possible money laundering, adding yet another locale to the list of U.S. allies that the Trump administration has alienated. The country’s Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie wants First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to seek a so-called “unexplained wealth order,” which — as its name suggests — demands answers from a target for unexplained wealth. In this case, Harvie is questioning the eventual president’s acquisition of land for both Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire and the Trump Turnberry resort in Ayrshire, which Trump abruptly acquired during the Great Recession. Perhaps Trump will be angrily tweeting about the Scottish Green Party next, considering his well-documented past animosity towards those who even dare to question his behavior and/or motives. Trump has consistently and infamously resisted calls to release his tax returns, which would provide information about where his money actually came from like the funds which he used to purchase that Scottish land. This new Scotland financial debacle follows similar issues in the U.S. House investigators have questioned whether some of Trump’s other business activities functioned as shells for money laundering, and they’ve investigated this possibility alongside credible allegations against Trump of bank fraud, tax fraud, insurance fraud, and more. He routinely artificially adjusted property valuations and more in order to get the most out of whoever he happened to be dealing with at the time.
President Trump has proclaimed himself the “king of debt,” a proud master of “doing things with other people’s money.” So it was quite surprising when Jonathan O’Connell, David A. Fahrenthold, and Jack Gillum revealed in a Washington Post story in May that Trump had abruptly shifted strategies and begun spending hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to fund projects. In the nine years before he ran for President, the Post reported, the Trump Organization spent more than four hundred million dollars in cash on new properties—including fourteen transactions paid in full. In fifteen years, he bought twelve golf courses (ten in the U.S., one in Ireland, and a smaller one in Scotland), several homes, and a winery and estate in Virginia, and he paid for his forty-million-dollar share of the cost of building the Trump Hotel in Washington, DC. a property leased to Trump by the U.S. government. But his largest cash purchase was the Turnberry, followed by tens of millions of dollars in additional cash outlays for rehabbing the property. Using what appears to be more than half of the company’s available cash to purchase Trump Turnberry makes no obvious sense for any business person, but especially for Donald Trump. It is a bizarre, confounding move that raises questions about the central nature of his business during the years in which he prepared for and then executed his Presidential campaign.
It was reported that President Donald Trump made tens of millions of dollars in profits by allowing Colombian drug cartels and other groups to launder money through a Trump-affiliated hotel in Panama, according to a new investigation by the organization Global Witness.In the early 2000s, Trump was having financial difficulties and began selling his high-profile name to real estate developers around the world, the report said. One of these developed Panama’s Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower. The report said the drug cartels purchased hotel units to hide the origins of money earned through drug trafficking and other criminal activity, and Trump is estimated to have earned tens of millions of dollars from the deals. The report said the Panama project is a textbook case of money laundering. Investing in luxury properties is a tried and trusted way for criminals to move tainted cash into the legitimate financial system, where they can spend it freely,” the report noted. “Once scrubbed clean in this way, vast profits from criminal activities like trafficking people and drugs, organized crime, and terrorism can find their way into the U.S. and elsewhere.”
In 2016 The Wall Street Journal‘s Jean Eaglesham, Mark Maremont, and Lisa Schwartz outlined a specific example of just that sort of structure: “Donald Trump owns a helicopter in Scotland.” To be more precise, he has a revocable trust that owns 99 percent of a Delaware limited liability company that owns 99 percent of another Delaware LLC that owns a Scottish limited company that owns another Scottish company that owns the 26-year-old Sikorsky S-76B helicopter, emblazoned with a red ‘TRUMP’ on the side of its fuselage.” All told, the Journal reported, 15 entities were used at that point to “own” Trump’s fleet of two airplanes and three helicopters. Layer on layer of corporate structure makes it hard for investigators, tax officials, or prying lawyers to figure out who owns what, the underlying source of money for specific transactions, whether taxes are being appropriately paid in a given jurisdiction, or who might be partners in what enterprises.
In 2001, as part of the USA Patriot Act, the Treasury Department was given a new tool against money laundering, known as “Section 311,” after the relevant section of the law, to designate foreign financial institutions, jurisdictions, or entities as “of primary money laundering concern.” A Section 311 designation was meant to help authorities highlight suspicious patterns of activity without having to prove any single transaction was illegal—it’s the rough equivalent for money laundering of the criminal RICO statute, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, that allows prosecutors to take down entire mafia families, drug cartels, and street gangs without having to prove everyone involved knew about or participated in all the various individual crimes.
“We deliberately put these tools together to go after really bad people—organized crime, terrorists, dictators, Chinese Triads,” Sharma says. “You didn’t have to point to a single illegal transaction. The totality of the transactions should give you pause enough that we would want to be sure US institutions scaled back or ceased doing business with them.” The designation, which effectively forces US financial institutions to sever ties with the entity, makes it all but impossible for an entity to participate in the global financial system. In the years since, the US Treasury Department has used Section 311 to go after the banks and front companies that help North Korea evade sanctions, to go after Iran’s nuclear program and terrorism financing, to isolate Syria, to punish banks that helped Saddam Hussein launder money, and to pressure off-shore havens, like the Pacific island of Nauru, that the US believes are complicit in money laundering.
The Trump Taj Mahal casino broke anti-money laundering rules 106 times in its first year and a half of operation in the early 1990s, according to the IRS in a 1998 settlement agreement. It’s a bit of forgotten history that’s buried in federal records held by an investigative unit of the Treasury Department, records that congressional committees investigating Trump’s ties to Russia have obtained access to, CNN has learned. The casino repeatedly failed to properly report gamblers who cashed out $10,000 or more in a single day, the government said.
Russian Real Estate Deals in Palm Beach County!
In 2008, Trump set a real estate sales record when he sold a since-subdivided estate for $95 million to Dmitry Rybolovlev. A sale is in the works for the last of three Palm Beach vacant lots carved from the oceanfront estate a Russian billionaire bought for a record-setting $95 million from President Donald Trump in 2008, more than eight years before the president took office. So far, Dmitry Rybolovlev, who made his fortune in the fertilizer business, has sold two of his three subdivided lots in the 500 block of North County Road for a combined $71.34 million. The lot at 525 N. County Road is priced at $42 million. As long as it sells for at least $23.66 million, Rybolovlev’s ownership trust will break even,
At least on paper, according to the deeds filed in courthouse records. There’s no reason to suspect that the lot under contract won’t bring at least $24 million, according to real estate observers familiar with the property. The land is in a prime location on a stretch of beachfront known to locals as the North End’s Billionaires Row. Although Palm Beach County courthouse records list the price of the 2008 deal as $95 million, trump has consistently maintained that Rybolovlev actually paid $5 million more. The sale set a U.S. residential price record at the time and still stands as Palm Beach’s largest-ever single seller/single buyer deal.
Why did the Russians do all this? Speier speculates that the real estate transactions happened at a time when Trump needed money. It was the middle of the Great Recession, Trump was having a hard time renting or selling his properties and he owed a boatload to Deutsche Bank and others. He had a Deutsche Bank loan for $640 million and was unable to make payments and he had personally guaranteed $40 million of that debt. Under the circumstances, Trump looked like a target for old fashioned Russian kompromat, Vladimir Putin would extend a lifeline in the form of a favor that might be called in later or never. But the purchase of high-end real estate by many Russian Oligarchs also suggests a money laundering operation in which ill-gotten profits from Russian organized crime would be scrubbed clean through the American real estate market. Money laundering is also prosecutable under RICO.
In one deal in particular, documented by US Representative Jackie Speier in The San Francisco Chronicle, Trump sold a Palm Beach Mansion for $95 million to Dimitry Rybolovlev a Russian Oligarch and billionaire with ties to Vladimir Putin. The transaction drew suspicion because Trump had paid only $41.35 million for the property a few years earlier and the $95 million sale price was not only 230 percent of what Trump paid but it was also $13 million higher than the highest price paid for a Palm Beach mansion. Palm Beach County appraised the house for $59.8 million roughly $35 million less than what Rybolovlev paid. Speier suspects that the deal was more than a one off and her article states, “Russian mobsters frequented and enjoyed the Trump casinos. Russians were heavy purchasers of units in the Trump Tower. So many Russians bought Trump apartments at his developments in Florida that the area became known as Little Moscow. The developers of two of his hotels were Russians with significant links to the Russian mob. The late leader of that mob in the United States, Vyacheslav Kirillovich Ivankov, was living at the Trump Towers. In various real estate deals, Trump, at the very least, had turned a blind eye to apparent Russian money laundering. Why did the Russians do all this? Speier speculates that the real estate transactions happened at a time when Trump needed money. It was the middle of the Great Recession, Trump was having a hard time renting or selling his properties and he owed a boatload to Deutsche Bank and others. He had a Deutsche Bank loan for $640 million and was unable to make payments and he had personally guaranteed $40 million of that debt. Under the circumstances, Trump looked like a target for old fashioned Russian kompromat, Vladimir Putin would extend a lifeline in the form of a favor that might be called in later or never. But the purchase of high-end real estate by many Russian Oligarchs also suggests a money laundering operation in which ill-gotten profits from Russian organized crime would be scrubbed clean through the American real estate market. Money laundering is also prosecutable under RICO.
According to a recent story on Pro Publica when applying for a real estate loan Trump said he, “Took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street.”
The Trumps have supporting information bottled up in litigation against lenders like Deutsche Bank preventing them for the moment from releasing banking information such as loan application records.
The bank records and tax returns could shed much light on Trump’s income sources. For example, it has been well reported that Trump sold high end condominiums to Russian organized crime figures.
His Cabinet – Corruption Large and Small!
Scott Pruitt, former EPA Administrator was facing more than a dozen investigations into his taxpayer-funded travel, questionable spending decisions, use of aides to conduct personal errands and other matters when he resigned July 5. The myriad probes homed in on his actions after joining the agency. But even before he got there, Pruitt, 50, enraged environmentalists—and won praise from conservatives—for targeting the EPA with more than a dozen lawsuits in his former role as Oklahoma attorney general. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned after months of federal investigations into his alleged misuse of taxpayer funds, excessive spending, and conflicts of interest Pruitt reportedly enlisted his government staff to carry out a variety of personal errands, including helping him procure a used Trump Tower mattress, discounted Rose Bowl tickets, Ritz-Carlton lotion, and a new apartment. He also reportedly used his office to help secure a Chick Fil-A franchise for his wife and a White House internship for his daughter. In July 2018, embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned from his position after being plagued by a series of ethics scandals over abuse of government resources and his lavish spending habits.
Wilbur Ross, Commerce Secretary, may have violated conflict-of-interest rules while divesting hundreds of millions of dollars in assets, two watchdog organizations have alleged. It’s a turnaround for the 80-year-old Commerce Secretary, whose plan to sell assets was praised by Senate Democrats at his confirmation hearing. Now they’ve joined a growing chorus that also includes members of the House calling for investigations of Ross’s actions while unwinding his fortune.
His lawyer said that none of the complaints provide a factual or legal basis for believing Ross violated conflict-of-interest or other laws or engaged in unethical conduct. The New York Times reported that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had threatened to fire top National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration employees if the agency didn’t disavow a tweet from a regional office that contradicted Trump’s false claim that Hurricane Dorian was likely to hit Alabama. Ross called acting NOAA Administrator Neil Jacobs and told him to fix the National Weather Service’s contradiction of Trump’s claim. When Jacobs opposed the demand, Ross told him NOAA’s political staff would be fired, the Times reported.
The bombshell report accused Ross, who managed a private equity firm before joining the administration, of pathologically swindling his business associates out of their share of profits and misleading investors for decades. The article also charged Ross, whose net worth is estimated at $700 million, with failing to follow through on his pledges to charity, not paying his domestic staff, and even swiping hundreds of Sweet ‘N Low packets from a local restaurant. In response, the Department of Commerce called the article “petty nonsense.” An explosive report in Forbes magazine accused Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross of swindling his associates out of $120 million.
Since 2014, Ross has been the vice-chairman of the board of Bank of Cyprus PCL, the largest bank in Cyprus, which has been mentioned as being involved in money-laundering and nefarious loans. In November 2017, Paradise Papers reporting found that after becoming commerce secretary, Ross retained investments in Navigator Holdings, a shipping company he once controlled which transports petrochemicals for Russian gas and petrochemicals company Sibur. Sibur has American sanctions against it for its close ties to Russian oligarchs Leonid Mikhelson and Gennady Timchenko, and President Vladimir Putin‘s son-in-law Kirill Shamalov. He had failed to clearly disclose these ties to Russian interests during his confirmation hearings. While his confirmation was pending, Ross promised in a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics to cut ties “with more than 80 financial entities in which he has interests,” played a key role in securing his confirmation. However, according to the leaked documents, while he did divest some holdings, he did not disclose the full extent of those he retained. Senator Richard Blumenthal accused Ross of misleading the Senate Committee on Commerce and the American people by giving the impression that he had divested entirely from Navigator and by not disclosing Navigator’s ties to the Kremlin.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke left the Trump administration in January amid mounting federal investigations into his travel, political activity and potential conflicts of interest. As Secretary, Zinke opened more federal lands for oil, gas and mineral exploration and extraction. Zinke’s expenditures as Secretary of the Interior, which included expensive flights, raised ethical questions and controversy, and were investigated by the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General. His ethical troubles were the subject of a PBS News Hour report on October 19, 2018. On October 30, 2018, the investigation into Zinke was referred to the Justice Department by Interior’s Inspector General!
An explosive Miami Herald investigation revealed that Labor Secretary Alex Acosta played a role in giving billionaire child molester Jeffrey Epstein a lenient sentence as a federal prosecutor. Labor secretary-designate Alex Acosta testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, at his confirmation before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The Herald revealed that current US Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta played a key role in securing a drastically reduced sentence for billionaire financier and sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein while serving as the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
Cabinet Corruption- More- endless!
Prosecutors and law enforcement had enough evidence to put Epstein behind bars for life for molesting at least 80 underage girls in what one detective described as a “sexual pyramid scheme” that went on for years. But Acosta struck a deal with Epstein’s lawyers for Epstein to serve just 13 months in his own private jail cell, register as a sex offender, and pay restitution to victims. Epstein also provided testimony against two former Bear Stearns executives for their role in the 2008 financial crisis.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s investments in a debt-collection company and the nation’s largest operator of for-profit charter schools raised concerns about possible conflicts of interest during her nomination hearings. She agreed to divest those and 100 other holdings. The department later awarded a contract to the debt-collection company, which DeVos said she had nothing to do with. More lies! Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been sued for seizing wages from student loan borrowers, violating provisions of the federal Coronavirus relief bill. DeVos was held in contempt of court and the Education Department must pay a $100,000 fine after a federal judge ruled it failed to stop collecting student loans on a now-defunct college. The rare rebuke came after U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim was “astounded” to discover that DeVos and her department continued to chase more than 16,000 former students from the bankrupt Corinthian Colleges Inc. for funds allegedly owed earlier this month despite a 2018 order to stop. Kim even threatened DeVos with the prospect of jail time after the shocking revelation—described as “gross negligence” at its best and “intentional flouting” of the order at its worst—but the San Francisco judge settled on the fine and the contempt of court finding in a hearing on Thursday.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s use of military aircraft for eight trips that cost taxpayers almost $1 million didn’t violate any laws, according to a report by the department’s inspector general. But the report faulted Mnuchin for a “disconnect between the standard of proof called for… and the actual amount of proof provided” to justify the requests. After the internal investigation, Mnuchin started making more information about his plane trips publicly available. Mnuchin, failed to disclose nearly $100 million of his assets on Senate Finance Committee disclosure documents and forgot to mention his role as a director of an investment fund located in a tax haven, an omission that Democrats said made him unfit to serve in one of the government’s most important positions. Both Trump and Mnuchin inherited money from their families, they have both run businesses accused of widespread racial discrimination and they have given to both parties to hedge their political bets and protect themselves. Mnuchin formed a groups of billionaire investors to buy IndyMac Bank from the FDIC as part of a sweetheart deal. They named it OneWest. The FDIC had taken it over after its 2008 collapse. This group was able to eventually take over $1.5 billion in profits, when the FDIC took the risk, this bank had a horrible record regarding foreclosures and servicing its inherited customers. By the way, one of the investors was George Soros, who the right wing believes is the Devil Incarnate. “There is a sad irony in the image of Steve Mnuchin as a philanthropist, compared to the reality of Mnuchin as the leader of a bank responsible for foreclosing on tens of thousands of American families and senior citizens,” said Paulina Gonzales, of the California Reinvestment Coalition, an NGO which monitors banks. “Steve Mnuchin was greatly enriched by OneWest Bank and now CIT Group, but those banks did little to serve the needs of ordinary families and working class communities.”
The Department of Homeland Security is investigating whether Brock Long, FEMA Administrator, broke agency rules by using government vehicles to commute from Washington to his home in Hickory, North Carolina. He made regular trips, bringing with him staff who stayed in nearby hotels, according to Politico. House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy has asked Long to see documents related to the travel, and the matter has been referred to federal prosecutors, the Wall Street Journal reported. Long said he’s focused on leading the response to Hurricane Florence.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson allowed his son to help organize an agency listening tour in Baltimore, despite being told by government lawyers that doing so might violate ethics rules. He canceled an order for a $31,000 dining set for his Washington office amid media attention that the expense exceeded a $5,000 limit for office redecoration. Carson has said he had little involvement in the matter. His office didn’t respond to a request for comment. Ben Carson’s record as a neuro surgeon is not pristine either and there were numerous complaints regarding malpractice and concerns from many, many patients. Maryland court records show Carson has been involved in at least a half-dozen malpractice cases, some of which remain pending, while others were either settled or dismissed for untold sums.
That ratio is typical in Carson’s field, experts say, but a number of Carson’s former patients and their families involved in the claims offered the Guardian a conflicting account of his near-perfect medical path toward presidential politics, detailing their continued suffering from paralysis, seizure, an uncontrollable bladder and more life-altering ordeals. But, is the public aware of many of Carson’s outrageous lies in his biography, especially about his “scholarship” to West Point? Carson seems to know very little about our country’s history and even about the “slave trade” that brought hundreds of thousands of Africans to this country, not as “immigrants,” but as slaves!
Tom Price, former Health and Human Services Secretary, was criticized at his confirmation hearings for investments he made while serving as a Georgia congressman. The transactions that received the most scrutiny involved privately offered shares of Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd., an Australian drug company he learned about from a New York congressman who sits on the company’s board.
But what of the VA and the Trump lies! Candidate Trump loudly and frequently condemned the Obama administration’s treatment of veterans, frequently (and absurdly) arguing that under Obama, veterans were treated worse than undocumented immigrants. Trump, in his typical manner, rarely offered any particular policy critique of the Obama administration’s approach — he just vaguely invoked the scandals (which were better-publicized than the subsequent bipartisan legislation or successful reforms) and tossed it into the general stew of racial and cultural animosity of his campaign message.
Trump was, therefore, somewhat surprised to learn after taking office that veterans liked Bob McDonald, thought he was doing a good job, and broadly opposed rocking the boat. Concurrently, retired Gen. Eric Shinseki was forced out as Secretary of Veterans affairs and replaced by Bob McDonald, a veteran and Procter & Gamble executive whose political contributions over the years had gone exclusively to Republicans. Armed with new authority and new money by the McCain-Sanders legislation and backed by an overwhelming 97-0 confirmation vote, McDonald set about to clean house. And it basically worked.
But on December 11, the nation’s largest veterans organizations — including the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Amvets — came together to tell Trump to keep McDonald. “We all want McDonald,” Joe Chenelly, the executive director of Amvets, told the New York Times. “He has a good business mind, he is experienced and we feel we can trust him.”
Trump was not, however, willing to admit that his campaign rhetoric had been entirely inaccurate, so he insisted on firing McDonald anyway. As a compromise, he nominated David Shulkin, who had been the VA’s undersecretary for health affairs, to serve as secretary. That paired veterans’ goals of continuity with Trump’s goal of avoiding an admission of error, though, of course, the fact that Shulkin had been specifically tasked with running health programs was an implicit admission that the Obama-era reform process had in fact been successful.
Eventually. Trump’s first Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin resigned following an internal investigation showed he used taxpayer money on flights to Europe and accepted improper gifts. Shulkin’s position had quietly become untenable, and rumors of his departure have percolated for weeks. Shulkin’s relationship with his own staff at Veterans Affairs has become toxic to the point where he’s posted an armed guard outside his office door. As part of the breakdown, the VA communications team has been openly trashing their boss to the press. It was a fairly stunning turn of events for Shulkin, a man who was confirmed by the Senate in a 100-0 vote and spent most of 2017 as the Trump administration’s least controversial Cabinet member.
Trump nominated his personal physician Ronny Jackson to the post. But Jackson’s nomination was derailed when his White House colleagues accused Jackson of over-prescribing opiates and drinking heavily on the job, which contributed to him allegedly sexually harassing female colleagues and drunkenly “wrecking” a government vehicle. Amid the misconduct allegations and questions over his qualifications to lead a federal agency as large and complex as the VA, Jackson withdrew from consideration.
Another scandal in the most inept and corrupt administration in the history of the United States. When the real story of this rancid group is opened to the world, the administrations of Grant, Harding, Nixon, Reagan, and all the rest will pale in comparison to this unhinged brigand!
A senior Trump administration official misused his office for private gain by capitalizing on his government connections to help get his son-in-law hired at the Environmental Protection Agency, investigators said in a report obtained by The Associated Press.
The Interior Department’s Inspector General found that Assistant Interior Secretary Douglas Domenech reached out to a senior EPA official in person and later by email in 2017 to advocate for the son-in-law when he was seeking a job at the agency.
Investigators said Domenech also appeared to misuse his position to promote a second family member’s wedding-related business to the same EPA official, who was engaged at the time.
The AP obtained the report detailing the investigation in advance of its public release.
It’s the second finding of ethical violations in six months against Domenech, the agency’s assistant secretary for insular and international affairs. Investigators in December found that he broke federal ethics rules by twice meeting with his former employer, a conservative Texas-base
Trump’s White House Staff
Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, amassed an array of business ventures in the two years between his retirement from the military and his White House appointment. Those associations led to complaints about possible conflicts of interest and one criminal charge. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to federal agents about a $530,000 consulting contract he had with Dutch company Inovo BV that was primarily intended to benefit Turkey’s government. He also admitted to lying about his post-election contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who’s also head of the Office of Management and Budget, received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from payday lenders when he was in Congress. After Trump named him acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, he said that wouldn’t pose a conflict because he was no longer in elected office and had no plans to run for one in the future. He later proposed loosening regulations on the industry. A spokesman for Mulvaney said it is ludicrous to think campaign contributions he received years ago while serving in Congress would influence him today.
Press aide Kelly Sadler was caught mocking deceased Sen. John McCain’s terminal cancer diagnosis. On May 10, White House sources told The Hill that press aide Kelly Sadler mocked deceased GOP Sen. John McCain’s terminal diagnosis, joking that his opposition to CIA Director Nominee Gina Haspel “didn’t matter” because “he’s going to die soon anyway.”
McCain died of a rare, aggressive form of brain cancer in August 2018. While Sadler left the White House after her remarks leaked, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway told CNN Sadler would be welcome to apply for other roles in the administration.
On July 16, Trump shocked and angered Democrats and Republicans alike during his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, when he slammed his political foes and sided with Russia over the conclusions of his own intelligence agencies.
When asked by a reporter whether he believed the unanimous consensus of the US intelligence community that the Russian government meddled in the 2016 election, the president responded, “My people came to me … they said they think it’s Russia” that interfered. Trump added, “I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.” He added that he had “great confidence” in his “intelligence people” but that Putin “was extremely strong and powerful in his denial” of Russian interference. In the wake of his remarks, a slate of intelligence and national security veterans told INSIDER they believed Trump acted exactly like a “controlled asset” beside his handler.
When Jason Chaffetz called Kellyanne Conway’s hawking of Ivanka Trump’s clothing line on television “absolutely wrong, wrong, wrong” and “clearly over the line”, it was supposed to be a reassuring sign. It wasn’t.
This was one of several data-points just from this week showing again that President Donald Trump is not so much draining the swamp, as he famously promised to do, as flooding it or giving it a gilded makeover in his own image. To be honest the new and at times novel tales of violations of ethical norms and rules are coming almost too fast to track; I wrote Friday and again Monday morning about the ways Trump and his administration are abusing their public offices and these new instances have surfaced since I filed the latter column.
First there’s Conway. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (not to be confused with the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller) issued a report Tuesday calling for “disciplinary action” against Conway for “impermissibly mix[ing] official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special [Senate] election” which took place in December. Under the Hatch Act, federal employees are prohibited from engaging in political activities from their official positions, but Conway did just that, according to Special Counsel Henry Kerner, going out of her way to attack Democratic senatorial candidate (and ultimate victor) Doug Jones twice in television interviews in the run-up to the election. She appeared on “Fox & Friends” on Nov. 20 and CNN’s “New Day” on Dec. 5 and talked about the Alabama Senate race (in the former appearance without being asked about it) in ways that went beyond her remit, per Kerner. (This is Conway’s third apparent ethical violation in the White House.)
More: Conway simply ignored the Office of Special Counsel when it asked her to respond to the allegations of violating the Hatch Act, though the White House counsel’s office did defend her appearances to Kerner. (The counsel’s office also promised that she would respond, which she did not.)
So what? The fact that she was directly warned about violating the Hatch Act and did it anyway indicates a level of confidence that she could violate the law with impunity. And guess what: Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley issued a statement Tuesday saying the White House didn’t think Conway did anything wrong. Not a surprise: The administration blew off the judgment of the independent
And Conway is not alone. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump lists five other Trump appointees who have had run-ins with the Hatch Act. “If this all seems confusing: Fair enough,” he writes. “That’s why the Office of Special Counsel offers training for administration officials about where the legal lines are.”
Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman made several bombshell claims against members of the administration in her book “Unhinged.” Omarosa Manigault-Newman, who was fired in December 2017, resurfaced in the public eye this summer to promote her book “Unhinged.” Aside from releasing a tape she recorded of Chief of Staff John Kelly firing her in Trump’s situation room, Manigault-Newman made a number of claims against members of the administration.
She said tapes of Trump using the n-word on the set of “The Apprentice” do indeed exist, that Trump had advance knowledge of WikiLeaks releasing hacked emails from the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016, and that she walked in on him eating paper in the Oval Office.
Trump and press secretary Sarah Sanders vehemently denied Maginault-Newman’s claims, with Trump calling her a “dog” who “cried and begged” for a job.
The New York Times reported that former White House counsel Don McGahn provided over 30 hours of testimony in the Mueller probe .Don McGahn voluntarily provided over 30 hours of testimony in the Mueller probe as a self-protection measure out of fear that Trump would make him his “fall guy.” McGahn was present for a number of moments crucial to the Mueller probe’s inquiry into whether Trump obstructed justice. Trump reportedly raised the prospect of investigating Comey and Clinton with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who took over following Jeff Sessions’ ouster. The idea was shut down by former White House counsel Don McGahn, who told Trump he didn’t have the authority to order a DOJ investigation and the move would appear to be a politically motivated abuse of power.
In a move that stunned military and intelligence veterans, Trump revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan and threatened to do the same for other former officials who had criticized him.
Trump’s Campaign Manager and Corrupt Fund-raising!
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted of eight counts of tax and bank fraud, and becomes a cooperating witness in the Mueller probe. On August 21, a jury in Virginia convicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on eight counts of federal tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to report foreign bank accounts after a dramatic weeks-long trial. Manafort was prosecuted and tried as part of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. A mistrial was declared on an additional 10 charges filed against Manafort after the jury failed to come to a consensus. “It doesn’t involve me, but it’s a very sad thing that happened,” Trump said in response to the conviction. “This has nothing to with Russian collusion…this has absolutely nothing to do — this is a witch hunt.”
Elliott Broidy, a former RNC Deputy Finance Chairman, a Los Angeles money manager, forged a relationship with Trump by raising millions of dollars for his presidential campaign. After the election, he sought to make that relationship pay off. According to documents later stolen from his computer and leaked to the media, Broidy explored lucrative consulting arrangements with a sanctioned Russian company and a Malaysian financier under criminal investigation, neither of which panned out. His defense-contracting firm did win business from foreign governments.
A month before taking office, Trump named Carl Icahn, a Wall Street billionaire he’s known for decades, as his special adviser on regulatory reform. The informal, unpaid title didn’t require the financier to give up control of his $20 billion business empire. It soon became clear there was only one regulation Icahn wanted to reform: an Environmental Protection Agency rule on ethanol credits he said was costing refineries he owns hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Roger Stone, a longtime Republican strategist and sometime confidant of Donald Trump, was arrested in Florida on Jan. 25 and charged with obstructing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and lying about his communication with WikiLeaks. The indictment says Stone served as a link between the Trump campaign and the release of Democratic National Committee emails stolen by state-sponsored Russian hackers to embarrass Hillary Clinton.
White House Leaks- Constantly!
An anonymous White House staffer published a New York Times op-ed claiming to be part of an anti-Trump “resistance” in the administration. On Sept. 5, The New York Times opinion section published an anonymous op-ed from a senior Trump administration official who claimed to be part of a “silent resistance” of White House staffers reining in Trump’s “more misguided impulses.”
“Many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,” the unnamed person wrote of President Donald Trump. “I would know. I am one of them.” “We are disappointed, but not surprised, that the paper chose to publish this pathetic, reckless, and selfish op-ed,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in response.
“This is a new low for the so-called ‘paper of record,’ and it should issue an apology, just as it did after the election for its disastrous coverage of the Trump campaign,” she added, despite the fact The Times never apologized for its 2016 coverage. The Times also did not apologize for publishing the op-ed.
These include his firing of FBI Director James Comey, his efforts to force attorney general Jeff Sessions to oversee the Russia probe after recusing himself, his knowledge of Michael Flynn’s criminal offenses, and reported attempts to fire Mueller himself. McGahn has since left the administration.
Trump reportedly sought to compel the Department of Justice to investigate James Comey and Hillary Clinton, two of his political opponents. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker speaks at the Dept. of Justice’s Annual Veterans Appreciation Day Ceremony, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, at the Justice Department in Washington. In November 2018, the New York Times and CNN reported that Trump wanted to order the Department of Justice to open investigations into James Comey and Hillary Clinton, two of his political foes.
Trump reportedly raised the prospect of investigating Comey and Clinton with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who took over following Jeff Sessions’ ouster. The idea was shut down by former White House counsel Don McGahn, who told Trump he didn’t have the authority to order a DOJ investigation and the move would appear to be a politically motivated abuse of power.
The White House was ordered by a judge to re-instate CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass after revoking it. CNN’s Jim Acosta walks into federal court in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, to attend a hearing on legal challenge against President Donald Trump’s administration.
The White House took the extraordinary step of revoking CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s hard press pass after releasing video that sought to portray him “putting his hands” on a press aide, which independent experts said was intentionally doctored. CNN took the White House to court, and a federal judge ruled in Acosta’s favor, granting his request for a temporary restraining order to have his pass restored. The White House then decided to fully restore Acosta’s press pass, prompting CNN to drop their lawsuit. They also issued new, stricter rules for the media to follow during briefings.
The Washington Post reported Ivanka Trump conducted government business with a private, unsecured email account. The Post reported that White House adviser Ivanka Trump regularly used a private email account using a domain shared with her husband Jared Kushner for official government business, sending “hundreds” of mainly logistical and scheduling emails to other officials from the private email address.
“She was the worst offender in the White House,” a former senior government official familiar with the review of Ivanka’s emails told The Post about her email usage, which could violate the Presidential Records Act. While Trump frequently attacked his opponent Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email address and server while she was secretary of state, he defended his daughter Ivanka’s conduct. “Ivanka did some emails, they weren’t classified like Hillary Clinton, they weren’t deleted like Hillary Clinton … she wasn’t doing anything to hide her emails,” Trump said.
The US Border Patrol faced backlash for using tear gas on a group of migrants seeking entry at the United States border, including women and children. A migrant family, part of a caravan of thousands traveling from Central America en route to the United States, run away from tear gas in front of the border wall between the U.S and Mexico in Tijuana, Mexico November 25, 2018. Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters
US Customs & Border Patrol faced backlash after using tear gas on a group of Central American migrants attempting to storm the border at the Tijuana port of entry, including several young children.
“We ran, but when you run the smoke asphyxiates you more,” Ana Zuniga, a 23-year-old woman from Honduras, told the AP while holding her 3-year-old daughter. The use of tear gas against unarmed migrants was slammed by civil and human rights groups around the world.
Trump defended the border patrol’s actions, calling it “a very minor form of the tear gas itself” that he said was “very safe.” “Why is a parent running up into an area where they know the tear gas is forming and it’s going to be formed and they were running up with a child?” he added, asserting without evidence that many of the women gassed were not real parents but “grabbers” who came to the border with children who were not their own.
Firing of Whistle Blowers
The firing of whistle blowers has become a pre-occupation of Trump! Rick Bright was in the process of filing what promises to be a damning whistleblower complaint to the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, President Donald Trump announced that he was firing the inspector general, Christi Grimm, and nominating a handpicked replacement. “Two weeks ago, Bright, who, as deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response for HHS, oversaw the government’s purchase and funding of vaccines, treatments, and tests for the coronavirus, said he had been forced out of his job because he refused to cave to pressure to adopt scientifically unproven treatments for Covid-19.
“I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the COVID-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit,” wrote in a statement released by his lawyers, as The Intercept reported at the time.
Grimm became inspector general in January and came under attack from Trump after her office published a report pointing out severe shortages of testing supplies and personal protective equipment. In a tweet, Trump called the report, which was based on interviews with hospital administrators from 323 hospitals in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, “another Fake Dossier” because Grimm had worked for the Obama administration. In fact, while she did serve under Barack Obama, Grimm, who been in the IG’s office since 1999, has also worked for the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Trump’s nominee to replace Grimm is attorney Jason Weida. He also fired Intelligence Community Inspector-General Michael Atkinson, Department of Defence, IG, Glenn Fine, State Department IG, Steve Linick and Department of Transporttion, IG Mitch Behm. The role of an inspector general is important throughout our government and is meant to work independently to root out waste, fraud, and abuse at every level, all with total detachment from politics,” Risch said. “When Congress created that position, this official was designated to serve at the discretion of the president as part of his control of the executive branch. It is the president’s prerogative and within his authority to make decisions regarding the adequacy of performance and continued employment of the inspector general. I have been in contact with the administration over this matter and expect to continue to learn more.”
Sexual Assault Allegations:
Where and when: Various, 1970s-2005
The dirt: Even before the release of a 2005 video in which he boasted about sexually assaulting women—“Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything,” he said, as well as “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything”—there’s a long line of allegations against Trump. Jill Harth says Trump assaulted her in the 1990s. Trump’s ex-wife Ivana Trump once suggested he had raped her, though she has since recanted her story. Former Miss Utah Temple Taggart said he kissed her on the lips inappropriately.
But since the release, more women have come forward. Two told The New York Times that Trump had assaulted them, one saying he tried to put his hand up her skirt on a flight in the 1970s and another saying he forcibly kissed her. A Florida woman says Trump groped her. A former People reporter recounted an alleged assault at his Mar-a-Lago debate, and says he told her, “You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you?” Several former teen pageant contestants said Trump walked in on them while they were naked or partially Trump denies all of the allegations. In the sexual-assault cases,
Trump faces the difficulty that he in some cases bragged openly about just the behavior of which he has accused—whether grabbing or forcibly kissing. Trump has demanded a retraction from the Times, and has threatened to sue several outlets. The paper, in a letter, refused. A woman who brought a rape case against Trump (twice) withdrew her suit in November, but in January, Summer Zervos sued Trump for defamation, after he labeled her claims of sexual assault false.
Women, Women, Women!
Trump has got a problem!
- Three wives
- Two visas violators
- Ivana Zelnickova Trump
- Melania Knauss Trump
- One Sex trade Worker
- Melania Knauss
- Two adulterers
- Marla Maples Trump
- Melania Knauss Trump
- Two sexual affairs paid off by Cohen
- Karen McDougal- she’s suing him
- Stormy Daniels-she’s suing him and has tapes
- Nineteen women accusers of sexual attacks
- Kristan Anders
- Mariah Billado
- Lisa Boyne
- Rachel Crook
- Tasha Dixon
- Jessica Drake
- Jill Harth
- Cathy Heller
- Samantha Holvery
- Ninni Laaksoner
- Jessica Leeds
- Melinda McGillivray
- Cassanda Searles
- Natasha Stoynoff
- Bridget Sullivan
- Temple Taggart
- Ivana Trump
- Karena Virginia
- Summer Zervos
- Two White House Women
- Hope Hicks
- Omarosa Manigault-Newman- she’s got tapes
- Miss Teen USA
- Leering in the locker room
- Bragging about it
- Rape Case of a 13 year old
- Katie Johnson
- Rape case of an adult
- Jean Carrol ( she is now suing the Mad King for defamation)
The Beauty Pageant Scandals-
Where and when: Various, 1992-present
The dirt: The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser reports on the mess of the American Dream pageant in 1992. After years of attending beauty pageants—Trump seems to have always enjoyed the company of beautiful, scantily clad women—he decided he wanted to get in on the business himself, meeting with George Houraney and Jill Harth, a couple that ran the American Dream pageant. It was an ill-fated effort. Harth and Houraney alleged that Trump started making passes at her almost immediately. On one occasion, Trump allegedly asked them to bring some models to a party. Harth alleges Trump groped her at the party. In a limo afterward, another model said she heard him say that “all women are bimbos” and most “gold diggers.” Trump reportedly joined another model in bed, uninvited, late at night. On other occasions, he forced Harth into bedrooms and made passes at her, she said. But after the contest, Trump broke off dealings. Harth sued Trump, alleging sexual misbehavior, while the couple together sued him for breach of contract. In the suit, they also alleged that Trump had kept black women out of the pageant.
The Top 6 Trump Administration Plagiarism Scandals (So Far)
Op-ed Written By President Trump’s Campaign (March 16, 2016)
- Melania Trump’s Republican National Convention Speech (July 19. 2016)
- Monica Crowley’s Book, Dissertation and Columns (Jan 7, 2017)
- Ben Carson’s Prepared HUD Testimony (January 12, 2017)
- The Inauguration Address (January 20, 2017)
- The Inauguration Cake (January 20, 2017)
Executive Branch Turnover- Unprecedented!
The Trump Administrations Turnover- record levels
There have been over 570 members of the Trump Executive Branch who have left the Administration. There have been 75 nominees withdrawn because of improper vetting or other problems These Commission Members have left or were dismissed:
Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity- disbanded-12
HIV/Aids Advisory Board- disbanded 10 fired, 6 resigned
Commission on the Arts – 16 resigned. Commission on Strategy and Policy/Manufacturing Council Strategy of 17 resigned and the Pandemic Team dissolved!
US Attorneys dismissed -46
Trump and the Environment
Last, but not least!
The environmental reversals of the Trump Administration reflective of his administration’s anti-environmental agenda. These policies are almost too long to list!
- Ending protection for Migratory Birds, a policy going back 20 administrations,100 years in 2018.
- President Donald Trump has announced that the United States will no longer regard climate change by name as a national security threat. The stance marks an abrupt turn from the Obama administration, which in 2015 described climate change as “an urgent and growing threat to our national security,” given its effects on natural disasters, conflicts over food and water, and refugee crises.
- In contrast, the Trump administration’s national security strategy, published Monday, discusses climate change only within the context of U.S. energy policy. “Climate policies will continue to shape the global energy system, [and] U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy security interests,” the report reads. “Given future global energy demand, much of the developing world will require fossil fuels, as well as other forms of energy, to power their economies and lift their people out of poverty.”
- As National Geographic has previously reported, humans’ dramatic alteration of the global climate is not only scientific fact, but it also poses numerous security threats to the United States and the world. Depending on the region, extreme weather events—such as droughts, wildfires, heatwaves, and torrential rains—may become more frequent and intense under climate change, posing threats to military installations and civilian communities alike. As weather patterns change, some disease-bearing creatures such as mosquitoes will enjoy longer active seasons over wider areas, exacerbating threats to public health. In addition, rising seas threaten to cripple coastal military infrastructure, an ongoing concern at the U.S. Navy’s installation in Norfolk, Virginia. Melting ice means that the normally ice-clogged Arctic is poised to transform into a major shipping route, altering regional geopolitics. Warmer, more acidic waters will kill off many coral reefs, which supply food and income to millions. And as sea levels rise, flooding will displace coastal populations.
- In a speech delivered in Salt Lake City, President Trump announced his intention to sharply reduce two Utah national monuments established by his predecessors. In a move presaged by leaked government documents, Trump announced that he would reduce the 1.35-million acre Bears Ears National Monument, created by President Barack Obama in late 2016, by 85 percent. The president also said he would cut the 1.88-million acre Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, designated by President Bill Clinton in 1996, nearly in half.
- President Trump signs an executive order that orders a review of Obama-era bans on offshore oil and gas drilling in parts of the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. The Obama policies under review include a five-year oil leasing roadmap that excluded Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and a December 2016 attempt to permanently ban drilling on wide swaths of Arctic and Atlantic waters. NPR reports that the order also halts the designation or expansion of National Marine Sanctuaries, unless the move includes an Interior Department estimate of the area’s “energy or mineral resource potential.” Conservation groups immediately announce their intent to defend Obama’s December 2016 effort in court.
- The U.S. Department of Interior has proposed auctioning off oil and gas leases for 77 million acres of federal waters within the Gulf of Mexico—the largest lease auction of its kind ever announced. In an October 23 statement, the Interior Department says that it will auction off the oil and gas leases for all available unleased areas on the Gulf of Mexico’s outer continental shelf, in waters off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The auction is about a million acres larger than the most recent auction of its ilk, which occurred under the Obama administration in August 2016.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is poised to withdraw the Clean Power Plan, the lynchpin of the Obama Administration’s effort to combat climate change, the New York Times reported Monday. In a speech delivered in Hazard, Kentucky, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt declared that he will sign a proposal on Tuesday that would eliminate the Clean Power Plan (CPP), claiming that “the war on coal is over.” Unveiled in 2015, the Clean Power Plan mandated that the U.S. power sector’s carbon emissions be cut by 32 percent from 2005 by 2030 (870 million tons of CO2), slashing the single biggest contributor to the country’s overall carbon footprint.
- The Trump administration has suspended a study of health risks to residents who live near mountaintop removal coal mine sites in the Appalachian Mountains. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was asked by the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement in an August 18 letter to “cease all activities” involved in the two-year, $1 million research project while the department undertakes a review of projects costing more than $100,000. The review was prompted by “the department’s changing budget situation,” the letter said.
- President Trump has signed an executive order revoking federal flood-risk standards that incorporated rising sea levels predicted by climate science. Trump’s new executive order claims to improve federal infrastructure decisions by quickening and streamlining the environmental review process. A single sentence takes the additional step of revoking Executive Order 13690, signed by President Barack Obama on January 30, 2015.
- The Department of the Interior has released the results of a 60-day review of the Obama administration’s conservation plan to protect the greater sage grouse. The review, ordered in June by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, was intended to determine if that plan interferes with Trump administration efforts to increase energy production on federal lands. In light of the newly published review, Secretary Zinke recommends reprioritizing oil development within the broader 2015 plan, among other changes. Environmental groups have rebuked the overhaul, arguing that changes to the 2015 plan could dilute protections for the species.
- The Trump Administration this week cancelled a rule that would have helped prevent endangered whales and sea turtles from becoming entangled in fishing nets off the U.S. West Coast. Proposed in 2015, the rule would have closed the swordfish gill net fishery for up to two years if any two individual endangered whales or sea turtles were killed or seriously hurt within a two-year period. The same penalties would have applied if any combination of four bottlenose dolphins or short-finned pilot whales were injured or killed within a two-year period
- President Trump said that he will pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, steering away from a group of 194 other countries that have promised to curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. The news came just days after he attended the G7 Summit in Italy, where the six other member countries—Germany, Italy, Canada, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom—reaffirmed their commitment to the 2015 climate pact.
- President Trump’s 2018 budget, sent to Congress Tuesday, calls for massive cuts in scientific research and in a slew of environmental programs that protect air and water. The proposed budget, titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” slashes the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31 percent – a steeper cut than any other agency. Those cuts could translate into a $2.7 billion spending reduction and the loss of 3,200 jobs, according to an analysis by the World Resources Institute. The proposed budget eliminates major programs to restore the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, and Puget Sound. It ends the EPA’s lead-risk reduction and radon detection programs and cuts funding for the Superfund cleanup program.
- The EPA dismisses several members of the Board of Scientific Counselors, an 18-member advisory board that reviews the research of EPA scientists. Some of the dismissed scientists had been assured that their three-year terms on the board would be renewed. In a May 7 story by the New York Times, critics assailed the move, casting it as a gift to business interests at the expense of science. An EPA spokesperson said the decision allowed the agency to consider a more diverse pool of applicants, including industry representatives, for the board.
In addition, the Washington Post reported on May 8 that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has started reviewing more than 200 advisory boards and other entities associated with the Interior Department.