The saga of Felix Sater — a twice-convicted one-time Mafia associate, real estate developer, sometime partner and former “senior adviser” to Donald Trump — continues to grow more complicated and bizarre. Details have now emerged of a second attempted diplomatic intervention by Sater, supposedly to prevent a possible nuclear power plant conflagration in Ukraine.
Danziger can’t help but notice the self-dealing and grasping attitudes that permeate the Trump White House, since they infect everything from “ethics” policies and the entertainment of foreign dignitaries to the administration’s new tax proposals. Of course, Trump is a lot smarter than someone like Lincoln.
On last night’s Rachel Maddow show, the host explored an explosive story about the relationship between President Trump and Azerbaijan’s corrupt officials. An odd business deal might explain why President Trump appears so worried about a probe into his contacts.
In what should serve as a prompt for investigative journalists, the exact nature of the emoluments Trump has received is unclear in many instances due to Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns.
Donald Trump has styled himself as a hardline opponent of the Iranian regime, but new details of a business deal in Azerbaijan point to the Trump Organization’s relationship with an oligarch’s family that has close links to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
These contracts are but a tiny corner of the Trump financial empire. Still, the records add to the suspicion that Trump’s official disclosures exaggerate his accomplishments as a businessman by reporting gross receipts rather than actual profits.
Wilbur J. Ross, Jr., the billionaire investor who is one of Donald Trump’s closest advisors on trade and economics, has extensive Russian financial ties that the Senate must thoroughly explore before voting on his nomination as Commerce Secretary.
Many traits of an effective corporate CEO could easily serve a president well: transparency and accountability, responsiveness to internal governance, and commitment to the interest of the overall corporation. Sadly, that is not Trump’s background. His experience overseeing an interconnected tangle of LLCs and his one disastrous term as CEO of a public corporation suggest a poor background to be chief executive of the United States.
If you measure President Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest by the amount of money at stake, or the variety of dicey interactions with government regulators, one dwarfs any other: his relationship with Deutsche Bank. The bank hoped to eliminate the president’s personal guarantee on loans. But such a move would not eliminate the conflict of interest, since the president’s company, which Trump still owns, would remain on the hook to pay back the loans.
In response to the Twitter comment Trump posted criticizing Nordstrom, White House spokesman Sean Spicer characterized the company’s action as a “direct attack” on the president’s policies. Nordstrom said it routinely cuts brands each year and that the decision to pass on the Ivanka Trump brand had been based on its performance.
This entire exercise in folly has nothing to do with resisting ISIS, a stateless band of murdering psychopaths that nevertheless poses no existential threat to Americans. Instead, it’s about atavistic fears, racial contempt and misplaced zeal for our preposterous comic-opera president.
In the palaces and coffeehouses of Riyadh, Saudi princes wonder how they escaped the list of banned Muslim countries on Trump’s executive order, despite their country’s connection to 9/11. To Danziger, it is no mystery.
The lawsuit filed in federal court by the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington contended that Trump is “submerged in conflicts of interest” because of ties with countries such as China, India, and potentially Russia. It seeks to stop Trump from accepting any improper payments, citing a constitutional provision known as the “emoluments” clause that bans them.
To transfer ownership of his biggest companies, Trump has to file a long list of documents in Florida, Delaware and New York. ProPublica asked officials in each of those states whether they have received the paperwork. The officials said they have not.
A group including former White House ethics attorneys will file a lawsuit on Monday accusing President Donald Trump of allowing his businesses to accept payments from foreign governments, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Morgan Lewis was in the spotlight this week not only for its work on Trump’s controversial plans for his business but also because it received the “Russia Law Firm of the Year” award last year. Morgan Lewis does work directly for the Russian government. At least three lawyers in the firm list work for Russian sovereign wealth funds or state corporations among their accomplishments.
One realization that has emerged during a chaotic week in our nation’s capital is that America’s system for preventing ethical conflicts in government is supremely overmatched by President-elect Donald Trump and his cadre of billionaire advisers.
Donald Trump’s assertion that he does no business in Russia looks past extensive business dealings with Russians who have partnered with him and bought his properties. In fact, Trump and his family have had many dealings in Russia and with Russian emigres elsewhere.
Trump said he would maintain ownership of his global business empire but hand off control to his two oldest sons while president, an arrangement that watchdogs said would not prevent conflicts of interest in the White House.
We’ve been suckered with this tax holiday scam before. In 2004, George W. Bush pulled it on us — and instead of creating jobs, the corporate tax-dodgers eliminated thousands more of our jobs! The way to know whether or not Trump’s tax holiday will benefit workers is to see if it requires that corporations actually create the thousands of good jobs promised before they get the tax break. Anything less is just another swindle.
Even after 16 months on the campaign trail, political journalists never figured out how to accurately depict the unprecedented nature of Trump’s candidacy. Now they must find a way to reckon with and report on a president who has no regard for the freedom of the press or the norms of his office.
If Donald Trump fails to adequately separate himself from his commercial affairs, even his Republican allies in Congress must hold him accountable. Trump sought this job, and while he has made a show of breaking with traditions, he cannot break faith with the American people.
Trump’s transition team is considering the use of discretionary trusts to avoid conflicts of interest for Trump family members or administration officials. Such an arrangement would provide individuals with an alternative to selling off assets or placing wealth in blind trusts, which president-elects traditionally do.
“We’ve never seen this kind of wealth in the White House, and so traditional rules don’t work,” Gingrich during an appearance on NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show” about the president-elect’s business interests. “We’re going to have to think up a whole new approach.”
Donald Trump has plenty of time to meet with Kanye West, tweet about SNL, go on a victory tour, and produce the “Celebrity Apprentice.” He does not have time to attend intelligence briefings, release his taxes, or hold press conferences.