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Tag: trump family

Follow The Money: How Trump's Campaign Financed Jan. 6 Pre-Riot Rally

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

"Follow the money" is a handy bit of kit in a lot of situations. When it comes to looking at the events of January 6, it's good advice. Because, as OpenSecrets.org has revealed, Donald Trump's various campaign funds paid out over $4.3 million to the people who organized the insurgency warm-up rally on January 6. In fact, running down the list of people, there seems to be considerable overlap in the "staff" for Trump and the supposedly grassroots protest. That includes Trump's campaign director of operations, his national finance consultant, and at least half a dozen other people on the payroll of Trump's various campaign PACs.

In fact, the web of connections between Trump's campaign and the rally where he stepped up to urge the crowd's assault on Congress seems so entangled that the whole thing can be read as just another front stretched over Trump's campaign of self-enrichment. Not all of the names on the overlapping list of Trump and January 6 rally organizers have been targeted by the House Select Committee's latest requests for documents, but they ought to be.

It's past time for someone to turn on the lights and reveal just where the "dark money" that funded Women for America First, the "nonprofit group" that secured a permit and locked down a handy launchpad for insurrection.

Last week, the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurgency sent out a long list of requests for documents. That list included documents related to almost every adult member of Trump's family (excluding Tiffany), several long-time campaign advisors including Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, and a long list of others involved in planning or executing events on that day. Several of those who worked for both Trump's campaign staff and the various organizations that put together the "Stop the Steal" event were included on that list, but far from all.

This only shows that, as sweeping as the committee's requests were, they're still insufficient to come close to capturing the full scope of individuals and organizations involved, which should be no surprise. After all, the Republican Party has spent decades setting up a seemingly infinite number of "institutes" and "foundations" and "think tanks" through which a handful of extremely wealthy donors can turn their money into action. Add to this a Citizen's United-fueled PAC infrastructure and the kind of morass of entangled power and money that people visualize when talking about "the swamp" absolutely exists—on the right.

Now introduce to this Donald Trump, a man whose 100 percent one-man-owned "empire" consists of over 500 companies and corporations created expressly to disguise his own real worth, moving money around without visibility, and creating the illusion of actions necessary to generate tax breaks. Trump really was out to drain the swamp … right into his personal swamp.

From the look of the connections on January 6, he succeeded.

That document request wasn't, and won't be, the last. As The Washington Post reported, the committee has already followed up with a request to tech companies that could generate even more pages of text. On that document, it may not be the exact list of names that's drawing the biggest attention, but the request for communications records related to "any Member of Congress or congressional staff" who put in a call to Trump or the White House on that day.

That request has made GOP leader Kevin McCarthy very upset. For good reason. After all, the news has already come out about how Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz phoned Trump from the Capitol and begged him to call off his goons. Again and again, it seems that Republicans understood two things very well on January 6: The people who were attacking the Capitol and threatening their lives were working for Trump, and Trump had the ability to tell them to stand down. But beyond showing how Republicans in Congress understood who was pulling the strings, the committee's review should also show how many were directly involved in planning or executing the assault on the Capitol.

The actions of the Select Committee won't drain the Republican swamp. It's been dredged out over decades, and exploring its labyrinthine bayous of purposeful obfuscation is work that might never be complete. But this much is clear just from the outset:

  • The Trump campaign and the supposedly separate entities that not only planned the January 6 rally but also conducted attacks on democracy across the country were connected by both money and people.
  • Trump's team created a media company to supposedly pay consultants, then lined up to take checks for themselves.
  • Trump's campaign and PACs put out at least $4.3 million to pay those who set up the Washington, D.C. rally.
  • Behind all of this was "dark money" whose sources have not been revealed, hiding behind the farce of nonprofit groups.
  • The members of Congress who are now defending Trump understood—and understand—that he was behind the assault and that the mob and their organizers answer to him.
  • As members of Congress, none of them can hide behind executive privilege, even in attempting to protect their conversations with Trump.
  • Kevin McCarthy is a wiener.

That last part may seem unconnected, but it's always worth noting. Especially since McCarthy's taking the Fifth rather than admitting that he was one of those begging Trump to call off his mob is likely to be one of the highlights of the Select Committee's work.

‘Major Grifting’: Ivanka Testified Falsely In Inauguration Probe

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Ivanka Trump in sworn testimony claimed she "really didn't have an involvement" in the planning of her father's January 2017 inauguration event, but according to Mother Jones she "testified inaccurately during her deposition" in a lawsuit brought by Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine.

Racine is accusing the Trump family of misusing charitable funds to enrich themselves (something of which the Trump family allegedly knows a thing or two.)

"As Racine put it," Mother Jones reports, "the lawsuit maintains 'that the Inaugural Committee, a nonprofit corporation, coordinated with the Trump family to grossly overpay for event space in the Trump International Hotel… The Committee also improperly used non-profit funds to throw a private party [at the Trump Hotel] for the Trump family costing several hundred thousand dollars.' In short, the attorney general accused the Trump gang of major grifting, and he is seeking to recover the money paid to the Trump Hotel so those funds can be used for real charitable purposes."

Ivanka Trump "was part of the decision-making for various aspects of the inauguration, including even the menus for events," despite her sworn testimony that she "really didn't have an involvement" in the planning aside from giving "feedback" if her "opinion was solicited." The report cites "documents filed in that case and material obtained by Mother Jones."

Emails between several individuals suggest Ivanka Trump distanced herself from the events after they were unable to attract "A-listers."

Other parts of the deposition show Ivanka Trump "downplayed her relationship with" Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, apparently a friend of both Ivanka and Melania Trump who later would write a scathing exposé that included then-First Lady Melania Trump's now infamous profanity-laden tirade about kids, cages, and Christmas.

Ivanka Trump "described Winston Wolkoff as 'a person I knew in New York who does events,' adding, 'I didn't know Stephanie Winston that well. I just knew she was very good at planning. I just knew her in that capacity.'"

Emails appear to show that too was false.

Read the entire report here.

Manhattan D.A. Investigating Second Trump Organization Executive

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Major media outlets have been reporting extensively on the role that Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer at the Trump Organization, plays in Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.'s criminal investigation of the company. But Vanity Fair's Bess Levin, in her June 21 column, emphasizes that Weisselberg isn't the only one in the Trump Organization who is under scrutiny by Vance's office.

Vance, Levin notes, is also probing Trump Organization COO Matthew Calamari.

"As part of its criminal investigation into Donald Trump, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office has, for many months now, been trying to get Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg — who knows where all the bodies are buried and could likely put the dots together for a jury — to flip," Levin explains. "Thus far, it doesn't appear as if he's done so, but the fact that Weisselberg could reportedly face charges this summer presumably ups the chances he'll cooperate to save himself. In the meantime, though, Cyrus Vance, Jr.'s office is apparently looking into another figure who may have some extremely helpful information to share. The Wall Street Journal reports that New York prosecutors are investigating Matthew Calamari, Trump's bodyguard turned chief operating officer, and the question of whether or not he was the recipient of 'tax-free fringe benefits,' as part of their probe into the company possibly giving out such perks to employees as a way to avoid paying taxes."

Calamari hasn't been charged with anything in connection with Vance's investigation of the Trump Organization. Neither has Weisselberg or former President Donald Trump. But Levin notes that according to Wall Street Journal sources, prosecutors have advised both Calamari and his son, Matthew Calamari Jr., to hire lawyers — which, Levin observes, is "generally not a great sign."

"(The older) Calamari has reportedly lived for years in an apartment at the Trump Park Avenue building on the East Side and driven a Mercedes leased through the Trump Organization," Levin notes. "His son, Matthew Calamari, Jr., also lives in a company-owned building. Junior joined the family business in 2011 right after graduating high school and was named corporate director of security in 2017, according to a LinkedIn profile."

Vance's office recently convened a grand jury, which, according to Washington Post reporters Jonathan O'Connell, Shayna Jacobs, David A. Fahrenthold, and Josh Dawsey, is "expected to decide whether to indict the former president, according to two people familiar with the development, and is pressing Weisselberg to provide evidence implicating Trump."

New Report Dishes Trump’s Bizarre Conduct In His Own Hotel

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Former President Donald Trump was very meticulous when it came to the high standards of service he required of his Trump Hotel staff, according to a new report. From recited greetings to memorized, repetitive orders and very specific service requirements, employees' claims suggest Trump wanted nearly the same dining experience each and every time he dined at Table 72 at the center of the Trump Hotel's mezzanine.

Now, many of them are shedding light on the scrupulous staff handbook and some of their bizarre encounters with him and other right-wing elites

A detailed piece published by The Washingtonian offers detailed accounts of hotel employees' interactions with the former president. The employees and former employees, some of whom have opted for anonymity, laid out Trump's mundane meal requests which began with recited instructions similar to a skit in a play.

The publication writes, "As soon as Trump was seated, the server had to 'discreetly present' a mini bottle of Purell hand sanitizer. (This applied long before Covid, mind you.) Next, cue dialogue: "Good (time of day) Mr. President. Would you like your Diet Coke with or without ice?" the server was instructed to recite."

An employee also revealed that there were even instructions for pouring drinks. "Directions for pouring the soda were detailed in a process no fewer than seven steps long—and illustrated with four photo exhibits," the publication wrote. "The beverage had to be opened in front of the germophobe commander in chief, "never beforehand."

It added, "The server was to hold a longneck-bottle opener by the lower third of the handle in one hand and the Diet Coke, also by the lower third, in the other. Once poured, the drink had to be placed at the President's right-hand side. 'Repeat until POTUS departs.'"

As for his meal, Trump reportedly orders the same entrees and dishes each time. However, there is one bizarre request that must be adhered to.

Trump always had the same thing: shrimp cocktail, well-done steak, and fries (plus sometimes apple pie or chocolate cake for dessert). Popovers—make it a double for the President—had to be served within two minutes and the crustaceans "immediately." The manual instructed the server to open mini glass bottles of Heinz ketchup in front of Trump, taking care to ensure he could hear the seal make the "pop" sound.

Former executive chef Bill Williamson shared details about his experience working for the hotel and the former president. He noted that the president always requested a "bone-in rib eye or filet mignon" and very little ever changed about his request. "It was the same steak. Both well done. Maybe it was a half-ounce bigger or something, I don't know."Although Trump's requests were out of the ordinary, one of the hotel employees admitted that the former president's personal attorney Rudy Guiliani was "the biggest pain in my butt." The former general manager of the hotel recounted his experiences with the disgraced attorney."The biggest pain in my butt was Giuliani," the former general manager said. "He was constantly in the restaurant. And I complained about it. The guy would come in, expect a table for ten at a moment's notice at, like, 2 pm, when we're not fully functioning. We don't have the staff. But he's the President's lawyer, and what am I supposed to do?"

However, for some, there were perks. Former bartender Michel Rivera revealed he averaged more than $100,000 annually with tips. "People would literally come up to me and give me $100 bills and be like, 'You must be the best bartender in the world if you work here!' " Rivera said. "A group of three or four guys would come up, have a round of drinks—I could easily sell them over $1,000. You don't see that at too many bars."

Trump may no longer be in the White House but his desire for opulence will likely last forever.

Trump Ordered Ongoing Secret Service Protection For 14 Family Members

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The U.S. Secret Service will protect former President Donald Trump and more than a dozen members of his family, including extended family members, after the 45th President, defying usual agency regulations, ordered the expanded protections.

"Trump issued a directive to extend post-presidency Secret Service protection to 14 members of his family who were not automatically entitled to receive it," The Washington Post reports.

Taxpayers will be on the hook for the millions of dollars the additional protections will cost, even after the Trump family decimated the protective agency's budget over the past four to five years.

Once a president leaves office he or she, their spouse, and children up until they reach the age of 16 are entitled to Secret Service protection. Protection for the president and spouse is for the rest of their lives.

But Trump has demanded every family member who has ever been covered to continue receiving protection, for the next six months.

"That means the expensive, taxpayer-funded security will continue for his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, their three children, his son Donald Trump Jr. and his five children, his son Eric Trump and his wife Lara and his daughter Tiffany Trump," the Post explains

In just the first two years of his presidency Trump and his family members who are protected by the Secret Service took more than 4500 trips.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) on Wednesday noted that "the Trump family took more trips that required Secret Service protection in one year than the Obama family took in seven."

Special Gifts For Special People

Ho-ho-ho, wait till you hear about the gifts I gave to some of America's power elites for Christmas.

To each of our Congress critters, I sent my fondest wish that from now on, they receive the exact same income, health care and pension that we average citizens get. If they receive only the American average, it might make them a bit more humble — and less cavalier about ignoring the needs of regular folks.

To the stockings of GOP leaders who've so eagerly debased themselves to serve the madness of President Donald Trump, I added individual spritzer bottles of fragrances such as "Essence of Integrity" and "Eau de Self-Respect" to help cover up their stench. And in the stockings of Democratic congressional leaders, I put "Spice of Viagra" and "Bouquet du Grassroots" to stiffen their spines and remind them of who they represent.

For America's CEOs, my gift is a beautifully boxed, brand-new set of corporate ethics. It's called the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Going to pollute someone's neighborhood? Then you have to live there, too. Going to slash wages and benefits? Then slash yours as well. Going to move your manufacturing to sweatshops in China? Then put your office right inside the worst sweatshop. Executive life wouldn't be as luxurious, but CEOs would glow with a new purity of spirit.

To the Wall Street hedge fund hucksters who've conglomerated, plundered and degraded hundreds of America's newspapers, I've sent copies of Journalism for Dummies and offered jobs for each of them in their stripped-down, Dickensian newsrooms. Good luck.


And what better gift to the Trump family — Donald, Ivanka and Jared, Eric, Donnie Jr. and the whole nest of them — than to wish that they live with one another constantly and permanently? No, really, each of you deserve it.

Yes, I have finally mastered the art of finding perfect gifts for people on my list — gifts that rise above crass commercialism and are genuinely appreciated by the people who receive them. I wholeheartedly recommend such gift-giving to you.

This holiday season got me thinking about America's spirit of giving, and I don't mean this overdone business of Christmas, Hanukkah and other holiday gifts. I mean our true spirit of giving — giving of ourselves.


Yes, we are a country of rugged individualists, yet there's also a deep, community-minded streak in each of us. We're a people who believe in the notion that we're all in this together, that we can make our individual lives better by contributing to the common good.

The establishment media pay little attention to grassroots generosity, focusing instead on the occasional showy donation by what it calls "philanthropists" — big tycoons who give a little piece of their billions to some university or museum in exchange for a building named after them. But in my mind, the real philanthropists are the millions of you ordinary folks who have precious little money to give but consistently give of yourselves, and do it without demanding that your name be engraved on a granite wall.

My own daddy — rest his soul — was a fine example of this. With half a dozen other guys in Denison, Texas, he started the Little League Baseball program, volunteering to build the park, sponsor and coach the teams, run the squawking PA system, etc., etc. Even after I graduated from Little League, Daddy stayed working at it, because his involvement was not merely for his kids ... but for all. He felt the same way about being taxed to build a public library in town. I don't recall him ever going in that building, much less checking out a book, but he wanted it to be there for the community, and he was happy to pay his part. Not that he was a do-good liberal, for God's sake — indeed, he called himself a conservative.


My daddy didn't even know he had a political philosophy, but he did, and it's the best I've ever heard. He would often say to me, "Everybody does better when everybody does better." If only our leaders in Washington and on Wall Street would begin practicing this true American philosophy.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Accepting Biden Win, McConnell Aims To Shut Down GOP Denial

Accepting Biden Win, McConnell Aims To Shut Down GOP Denial

WATCH: Sen. Graham Urges GOP Victory In Georgia To ‘Protect’ Trump From Prosecutors

WATCH: Sen. Graham Urges GOP Victory In Georgia To ‘Protect’ Trump From Prosecutors

GOP Leader McCarthy Echoes Trump’s Lies About Vote Count

Kevin McCarthy GOP Leader McCarthy Echoes Trump’s Lies About Vote Count Photo by Gage Skidmore/ CC BY-SA 2.0

That Debate Over Family Political Corruption Isn't Finished

President Donald Trump spent the final presidential debate listing bogus allegations being peddled by Rupert Murdoch's media outlets against Hunter Biden regarding the latter's business in Ukraine and China. Then he ran a series of TV ads attacking the Bidens for alleged and unproved corruption, with supporting vignettes from his lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, a rotating cast of Fox personalities, and that mysterious "laptop from hell."

Trump and his bumbling Keystone Kops were forced to push the flimsy story because Republican sleuths in the Senate, after an exhaustive, costly search, weren't able to uncover any actual evidence of Hunter Biden's corruption. Shockingly, the whole conspiracy theory is a deep fake. Yet Trump reiterated his slanders against his opponent over and over again. "He's a criminal," Trump blurted out. "And the Biden family is a criminal enterprise."

Never mind that Trump was impeached over his failed efforts to frame Biden and lure the Ukrainian government into interfering with a U.S. election by threatening to withhold financial aid unless the country's top prosecutor launched an investigation in search of bogus claims of wrongdoing. Back in the real world, it was always Trump and his family; Ivanka, Jared, Eric and Donald Jr., who were the real poster children for familial corruption — masters of self-dealing who perpetrate massive conflicts of interest as they pursue foreign business deals. And those far-reaching scandals aren't likely to evaporate even when Trump finally vacates the White House.

Nobody does projection like Trump, who is now leaning on the Supreme Court to help him hide his tax returns from public review. He and his family have torn down all guardrails designed to prevent the wholesale auctioning off of the federal government.

In fact, the endemic corruption of the Trump family enterprise is why he continues to reject the election results, desperately holding out lest he be obliged to answer for his offenses. By delaying the Biden transition, he will be responsible for more death and destruction as the pandemic continues to rage unchecked.

Over four years, the evidence of historic self-dealing and graft, legal or otherwise, has piled up around the president. "From Scotland to New Jersey to Florida and beyond, Trump properties have raked in tens of millions of dollars from those seeking to curry favor with, or at least express their appreciation for, the president," the New York Times recently noted.

The quid pro quo is rampant and out in the open, as hundreds of companies, special-interest groups and foreign governments have shelled out millions at Trump's properties, while cashing in on administration policies. A visit from an entourage of Saudi Arabian officials to the Trump International Hotel in New York City in 2018 helped boost the hotel's sagging business.

There are also the allegations of mafia ties, obvious conflicts of interest galore, and Trump's dubious dealings with an overly generous Russian oligarch, who just happened to wildly overpay for a Trump property. And just before the election, the Times revealed that Trump has maintained a secret Chinese bank account.

On top of ethical conflicts is the fact that several of Trump's business partners are themselves foreign government officials who have been entrusted with prominent public functions, calling into question basic assumptions concerning conflicts of interest and improprieties. Many interpretations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) reportedly consider any monetary exchange with a foreign government official or political official to run afoul of ethics guidelines, raising major questions as to the melding of international politics and business inherent in Trump's foreign business relationships:

In the Philippines, shortly before the 2016 election President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Jose E.B. Antonio, the chairman of Century Properties Group – Trump's business partner in the Philippines – as special envoy to the United States for trade, investment, and economic affairs.

In Turkey, Mehmet Ali Yalcindag – the son-in-law of Trump's business partner Aydin Dogan – in 2018 was appointed head of the Turkish-American Business Council (TAIK), a government entity. Media reports indicate that Yalcindag was appointed to this role solely due to his relationship with Trump

In Indonesia, the Trump Organization's partner Hary Tanoesoedibjo – who is currently developing multiple Trump-branded golf courses and properties – formed a political party in 2016 called the Indonesian Unity Party and is close to other senior leadership figures.

Keep in mind that since his inauguration, the Trump children have sold off more than $100 million of the president's real estate holdings. It was heavily ironic when Don Jr. complained to Sean Hannity that if his last name were Biden, "I could go abroad, make millions off of my father's presidency. I would be a really rich guy."

That, of course, is exactly what Don Jr. has been doing for the last four years as the front man for the Trump Organization, despite the fact that Trump claimed his firm would cancel all of its pending deals and stop pursuing foreign business during Trump's presidency.

Here's what they actually did:

Weeks after Trump was inaugurated, Eric and Don Jr. jetted off to

Dubai to toast the opening of the Trump International Golf Club in Dubai, only to return to Dubai a few weeks later for their business partners daughter's wedding costing the US taxpayer at least $230,000. The Trump Organization's partner in Dubai, Hussein Sajwani, the chairman of property developer DAMAC, likewise attended Trump's 2016 inauguration. In May 2020, an Iraqi parliamentarian announced an investigation into DAMAC on corruption charges, which follow a previous legal case for corruption in Egypt from the mid-2010s. If that was not enough, the Chinese Communist party is building the new Trump World Golf Club Dubai.

Two years ago Don Jr. traveled to India, where he gave a foreign policy speech and then met with real estate brokers selling Trump-brand luxury apartments, giving the political elite in India a way to gain favor with the U.S. administration. He deliberately and lucratively blurred the lines between his role as a businessman and as the son of the president. Further blurring these lines, in July 2019 Mangal Prabhat Lodha, Chairman of the Lodha Group, the Trump Organization's business partner in India since 2013 – was appointed chairman of the Mumbai branch of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling party in India.

In the Dominican Republic, Don Jr. helped sell a piece of land in January 2018 for $3.2 million, violating his father's pledge to do no new foreign deals while in office.

The Chinese government has granted more than three dozen trademarks linked to Ivanka, a senior White House adviser. The trademarks she applied for after her father was elected got approved roughly 40 percent faster than those she requested before his 2016 campaign victory. Seven of the trademarks came in 2018 when her father was pledging to save a major Chinese telecommunications company, ZTE, from going bankrupt.

All of this questionable activity occurred after Trump refused to place his business dealings into a blind trust. Instead, he simply handed over executive duties of the Trump Organization to his sons. And then during his failed re-election campaign, he brazenly insisted on a discussion about corrupt political families.

He lost that debate. Until we know the truth about his taxes, his deals, and his family's abuse of the presidency, however, Trump's corruption is an issue America must still pursue.

Amed Khan is a philanthropist and human rights activist. He directs Paradigm Global Group, a private international investment firm.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.