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DOJ Approves Merger After T-Mobile Spent $200K At Trump Hotel

The Department of Justice announced Friday that it has approved T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint, valued at over $26 billion.

“The combination would reshape the wireless industry and create a formidable rival to AT&T (No. 1 in the United States) and Verizon (No. 2),” the New York Times reported.

Approval of the deal comes after T-Mobile executives spent nearly $200,000 at Trump’s hotel in Washington, D.C.

Before announcing the plan to merge with Sprint in April 2018, T-Mobile executives had only visited the hotel twice. After the deal was announced, records showed that they were frequent visitors — booking rooms at least 52 times.

Because Trump has refused to separate himself from his private business dealings while in office, he continues to personally profit from money spent at his hotels.

Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, hailed the decision in a press release. (Attorney General William Barr recused himself from weighing in on the deal earlier this year, reportedly because of conflicts of interest.)

Delrahim is a longtime Trump supporter who argued in 2016 that the Supreme Court would be “saved” if voters backed Trump over Hillary Clinton. Delrahim was part of the Trump transition team and was later appointed to his position at the DOJ.

The deal also required the approval of the Federal Communications Commission, which is currently overseen by Trump loyalist Ajit Pai, who has a history of supporting anti-consumer policies.

Support for the merger is not, however, universal.

“T-Mobile and Sprint still face an ongoing lawsuit from 13 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia seeking to block the deal on anti-competitive grounds,” CNBC reported.

“This merger would hurt the most vulnerable Californians and result in a compressed market with fewer choices and higher prices,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a June press release announcing the suit.

“The T-Mobile and Sprint merger would not only cause irreparable harm to mobile subscribers nationwide by cutting access to affordable, reliable wireless service for millions of Americans, but would particularly affect lower-income and minority communities here in New York and in urban areas across the country.”

The Trump administration went ahead with its approval despite the lawsuits.

It appears the swamp Trump once promised to “drain” just got deeper.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

Government Agencies Using Trump Hotels, Despite Official Ethics Advice

A bombshell report dropped late Thursday from the Washington Post showing just how much money Trump has pocketed from taxpayers by encouraging government agencies to use his properties for official government events — a practice his own ethics officials know is wrong but have been powerless to stop.

Trump earned at least $1.6 million from both the federal government and Republican campaigns which have used his properties. And the Post cautioned that the actual number is likely much, much higher, given that the numbers they crunched were only from the first half of 2017 when Trump first took office. Since then, Trump, GOP lawmakers, and administration officials have made many more stops at his properties.

In fact, GOP fundraisers admit that’s why they hold fundraisers at Trump hotels — it increases the chances Trump might show up.

Trump has also been successful in getting government agencies to use his properties. The Department of Defense shelled out $12,000 for rooms at Mar-a-Lago in early 2017. Other executive agencies racked up a $30,000 bill for hotel stays in April of that year as well.

The Post went on to report that ethics officials have “sought to dissuade” Trump from holding official events or taking trips to his properties — such as the out-of-the-way pit stop he made to his failing golf resort in Ireland during his U.K. state visit earlier this month — but have been ignored.

In fact, Trump has only gotten more brazen about his use of his properties.

Trump wants to hold a Group of Seven (G-7) meeting at his failing golf resort in Doral, Florida. That would mean foreign governments would be spending large sums of money at his property, putting money in Trump’s pocket in what looks like a blatant violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause that bans presidents from receiving payments from foreign governments.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

Biggest Lobbying Cash Flow Since 2010 Floods Trump’s Swamp

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

Lobbyists are flocking to Washington, D.C., and flooding the city with more money seeking to buy influence than has been spent in seven years. The dynamic where businesses are spending more to pay off politicians and other public figure coincides with a parade of unethical action and behavior from Donald Trump.

Lobbyists spent $3.34 billion in Washington in 2017, the most they have spent since 2010, the second year of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Trump’s campaign rhetoric about “draining the swamp” had an extremely limited shelf life. Not long after he was inaugurated, Trump showed the country that he was dead-set on doing what it took to count his administration among the most corrupt in history.

Instead of a break from his private businesses, where his properties were used to hide international mafia money while he groped women and leered at half-undressed teenage girls at the pageants he owned, Trump kept up the underhanded behavior in the presidency.

Trump’s hotels have become towers of influence, with businesses and foreign powers booking rooms at the Trump International Hotel, putting money in Trump’s pocket as he makes decisions about those same interests from the presidency.

His cabinet is the wealthiest in modern history, loaded with executives from companies he had excoriated on the campaign trail, like Goldman Sachs.

These were the same figures working behind closed doors with Congressional Republicans to craft the tax bill, excluding Democrats from the process as lobbyists inserted sweetheart deals they could profit from while the general public languished.

Despite his campaign rhetoric, Trump has violated ethical standards of the presidency and used his office to enrich himself and his family with no regard for the public good. His behavior, far more than his empty promises, demonstrates the priorities of his administration, and the lobbyists he vowed to banish have instead figured out just how welcome they are in Trump’s swamp.

Oliver Willis is a former research fellow at Media Matters for America who has been blogging about politics since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @owillis.

PHOTO: Flags fly above the entrance to the new Trump International Hotel on its opening day in Washington, DC, September 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

 

 

Danziger: Sheikh Your Booty

Jeff Danziger’s award-winning drawings are published by more than 600 newspapers and websites. He has been a cartoonist for the Rutland Herald, the New York Daily News and the Christian Science Monitor; his work has appeared in newspapers from the Wall Street Journal to Le Monde and Izvestia. 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 as a linguist and intelligence officer, and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. Danziger has published ten books of cartoons and a novel about the Vietnam War. Born in New York City, he now lives in Manhattan and Vermont. A video of the artist at work can be viewed here.