Tag: wilbur ross
Ross Raked In Over $53 Million As Trump's Commerce Secretary

Ross Raked In Over $53 Million As Trump's Commerce Secretary

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Commerce Secretary appointed by former President Donald Trump is said to have earned at least $53 million while collecting a taxpayer salary for a position that required him to work in the best interest of the public instead of focusing on his own profits.

According to HuffPost, Wilbur Ross' earnings were a focal point of a recent complaint filed by the watchdog organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). During his four years working under the Trump administration as the head of the U.S. Commerce Department, Ross reported making "somewhere between $53 million and $127 million."

CREW reports that the figures are based on three different yearly financial disclosures along with Ross' final termination report which the watchdog organization obtained from the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.

Ross' financial disclosure filings have triggered complaints about the conflict of interests between his position and profitable affiliations. The watchdog organization sounded off about Ross' entanglements with a number of private companies while holding public office. Since the federal government only requires outside income to be reported in "broad range," CREW also believes there is a high likelihood that Ross' profits were "significantly more" than reported.

"Wilbur Ross reported making a minimum of $53 to $127 million in outside income during his four years as secretary of commerce for Donald Trump," CREW said in its statement. "It is possible that he earned significantly more as he was not required to specify certain income totals over $1 million. Even in an administration characterized by corruption, Ross became notorious for mixing personal business with his government role."

The statement added, "It is impossible to know Ross's exact income because it was reported in broad ranges, but it is clear that while running the agency in charge of promoting economic growth and regulating global trade for the United States, he made tens of millions of dollars."

The latest complaint against Ross comes just months after the release of a report by the Commerce Department's Inspector General's Office. While Ross was cleared on speculation of insider trading, the report did indicate that he had "violated the federal standard of failing to avoid the appearance of ethical and legal breaches."

Former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

Trump's Commerce Chief Oversaw Security Unit That Spied On Census Critics

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

During Donald Trump's four years as president, his administration was a revolving door. But one person who was part of the Trump Administration throughout most of his presidency was former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who started in February 2017 and stayed until February 2021. The Department of Commerce, as journalist Shawn Boburg reports in an article published by the Washington Post on May 24, has had an "obscure security unit" that was "tasked with protecting" its "officials and facilities" — and during its Trump/Ross era, according to Boburg, it "evolved into something more akin to a counterintelligence operation that collected information on hundreds of people inside and outside the Department."

According to Boburg, "The Investigations and Threat Management Service (ITMS) covertly searched employees' offices at night, ran broad keyword searches of their e-mails trying to surface signs of foreign influence and scoured Americans' social media for critical comments about the (2020 U.S.) Census, according to documents and interviews with five former investigators. In one instance, the unit opened a case on a 68-year-old retiree in Florida who tweeted that the Census, which is run by the Commerce Department, would be manipulated 'to benefit the Trump Party,' records show."

Boburg adds, "In another example, the unit searched Commerce servers for particular Chinese words, documents show. The search resulted in the monitoring of many Asian-American employees over benign correspondence, according to two former investigators."

John Costello, who formerly served as deputy assistant secretary of intelligence and security for the Commerce Department under the Trump Administration, is highly critical of ITMS — telling the Post that ITMS "has been allowed to operate far outside the bounds of federal law enforcement norms and has created an environment of paranoia and retaliation at the Department."

Bruce Ridlen, a former supervisor, told the Post that the ITMS' tactics make it look as though "someone watched too many 'Mission Impossible' movies."

Ridlen, who left ITMS in October 2020, told the Post, "I chose to resign from my position with ITMS after it became clear there was no authority to perform law enforcement functions. There were no policies in place to outline standards of conduct or to establish parameters for investigative activities, which led to investigative inquiries of U.S. persons over protected free speech found on several social media platforms."

Former Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo was sworn in as commerce secretary under President Joe Biden in early March.

Boburg explains, "(ITMS) has managed to keep a low public profile until now, while pursuing investigations into 'counterintelligence, transnational crime and counterterrorism,' as it described its activities in a 2018 budget document submitted to Congress. Incoming Commerce leaders from the Biden Administration ordered ITMS to pause all criminal investigations on March 10, and on May 13, ordered the suspension of all activities after preliminary results of an ongoing review, according to a statement issued by Department spokeswoman Brittany Caplin. The suspension came two days after the Post presented its findings about the unit to the department and sought interviews."

The statement read, "The current Commerce Department leadership team takes this issue seriously. The Department expects that at the end of the review, it can and will implement a comprehensive solution to the issues raised."

Donald Trump

Exposed Corruption Swamps Trump Campaign In Final Week

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

It's been a long, difficult week in Trumpworld with all of the incriminating reports of corruption surrounding President Donald Trump and his administration. With Election Day less than five days away, Trump is likely feeling the pressure as the opposing forces work over time to state their case and prove that he is unfit for the office of the presidency.

Many of the stories raise more questions about Trump's leadership and the hidden agendas of his White House officials and other members of his administration.

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Team Trump’s Collected Remarks About The Pandemic

Team Trump’s Collected Remarks About The Pandemic

Donald Trump and his administration spent the first several weeks of the current coronavirus crisis downplaying the problem and claiming that it might actually be good for the economy, among other things.

Their rosy predictions, unfortunately, have fallen flat.

The nationwide death toll from the virus has now passed 1,000. The United States now has more known COVID-19 cases than any other country, and unemployment claims are at a record high.

Here are some claims that aged particularly poorly.

Everything is under control

Trump claimed on Feb. 25 that the coronavirus was “very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it, and the people that have it are … getting better. They’re all getting better.” As recently as March 15, he was still claiming that it was “something that we have tremendous control over.”

On Thursday, the CDC reported more than 68,000 confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases.

Larry Kudlow, head of Trump’s economic council, made a similar claim on Feb. 25, saying, “We have contained this. I won’t say [it is] air-tight, but it’s pretty close to air-tight.” He vowed it would not be an “economic tragedy.”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also insisted on March 7 that the virus was “contained.”

“It is being contained,” she told skeptical reporters. “Do you not think it’s being contained in this country?”

Trump made an even bolder claim on Feb. 26, suggesting that the then-limited number of cases would go away. “And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done,” he said at a press briefing.

Asked whether schools might need to shut down, he added, “I don’t think it’s going to come to that, especially with the fact that we’re going down, not up. We’re going very substantially down, not up.”

Infections have since risen by more than 100,000 percent.

On March 9, Trump suggested that influenza was a bigger deal than the coronavirus. “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on,” he tweeted. “At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”

Testing is perfect

The Trump administration has repeatedly pushed back on reports of limited coronavirus testing, despite an abundance of complaints from states and localities that they have no way to administer tests to all those who need them.

On March 6, Trump claimed “anybody that wants a test can get a test. That’s what the bottom line is.” He added that the tests were “all perfect.”

On Tuesday, the New Yorker reported “widespread” coronavirus testing was still unavailable and would not be ready any time in the near future, due to a “critical shortage of the physical components needed to carry out tests of any variety.”

Mike Pence, whom Trump appointed to lead the coronavirus task force, claimed as recently as March 10 that “over a million tests have been distributed” thus far, promising that, “before the end of this week, another 4 million tests will be distributed.”

As of Thursday, the COVID Tracking Project, which gathers the most recent test information from across the country, said just 519,338 tests had been conducted in total. And Adm. Brett Giroir, the administration’s coronavirus testing “czar,” admitted on Wednesday, “We’re not at the level of having tens of millions of people tested.”

This will actually be good for the economy

Trump claimed on March 6 that the lack of international fights due to coronavirus would be good for domestic tourism.

“You know, a lot of people are staying here and they’re going to be doing their business here, they’re going to be traveling here. And they’ll be going to resorts here. We have a great place,” he argued. “So foreign people come, but we’re going to have Americans staying home instead of going and spending their money in other countries and maybe that’s one of the reasons the job numbers are so good.”

The travel industry has since ground to a virtual halt as states implement widespread lockdowns and shelter-in-place restrictions.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross went so far as to predict that the outbreak would boost U.S. jobs. “The fact is it does give businesses yet another thing to consider when they go through their review of their supply chain,” he told Fox Business on Jan. 30. “I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America. Some to the U.S., probably some to Mexico as well.”

According to Thursday’s weekly job numbers, 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week.

Back on Feb. 24, as the stock market started to tumble over coronavirus fears, Trump tweeted, “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

Kudlow echoed this on on Feb. 28, telling Fox Business that investors should not “rule out” optimism. “Stocks look pretty cheap to me,” he opined.

As of Friday morning, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 21,734, more than 4,000 points lower than when Kudlow first made his prediction.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.