Senior Trump admin official Mina Chang resigns after embellishing resumé

Senior Trump administration official Mina Chang resigned from her job at the State Department two and a half hours after NBC News went to her spokesperson to ask about newly discovered false claims she had made about her charity work.

NBC News had previously reported that Chang, the deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stability Operations, had embellished her resume with misleading claims about her educational achievements and the scope of her nonprofit’s work — even posting a fake cover of Time magazine with her face on it.

“It is essential that my resignation be seen as a protest and not as surrender because I will not surrender my commitment to serve, my fidelity to the truth, or my love of country,” Chang wrote in her resignation letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “Indeed, I intend to fight for those things as a citizen in the days and years to come.”

Chang said she had been “unfairly maligned, unprotected by my superiors, and exposed to a media with an insatiable desire for gossip and scandal, genuine or otherwise.”

NBC News had reported that Chang, who assumed her post in April, invented a role on a United Nations panel, claimed she had addressed both the Democratic and the Republican national conventions, and implied she had testified before Congress.

She was being considered for an even bigger government job, one with a budget of more than $1 billion, until Congress started asking questions about her resume.

The newly discovered false claims include misrepresenting a trip to Afghanistan as a humanitarian mission, listing an academic who says he never worked for her nonprofit as an employee, claiming a nonexistent degree from the University of Hawaii, inflating an award and claiming to be an “ambassador” for the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO.

Chang had portrayed the 2015 trip to Afghanistan as a humanitarian mission for her nonprofit, but a defense contractor footed the bill and no aid was delivered, according to documents from the company and a former employee.

After the Afghanistan trip, Chang posted photos of herself meeting a group of Afghan women in a room. In a video posted on her charity’s website, she refers to the photo and says the Afghan women are “in hiding” at a secret location.

“This is in Afghanistan, I am sitting with women in our program, they are living in hiding. I can only say they are right outside of the Kabul area,” Chang said in an interview posted on her nonprofit’s website.

But the women were not part of any program run by her charity, Linking the World. They were wives of local employees of the defense contractor that paid for her trip, Automotive Management Services, and they were not in hiding, a former employee said.

“They were photo-ops,” the former employee said of Chang’s trip to Afghanistan, and another to Iraq.

Company documents obtained by NBC News show Chang was asked to help the firm manage an association of Afghan wives, whose spouses worked for the company. The plan would free up AMS to “focus on our commercial prospects,” according to a document outlining the project. AMS, which helped Afghan security forces maintain a fleet of armored vehicles, paid for Chang’s airfare and accommodation, according to documents and the former employees.

On her charity’s website, Chang posted photos from the Afghanistan trip, without indicating that the defense contractor bankrolled the visit and that her NGO conducted no aid work during the trip.

In an email to NBC News, Chang said her organization was helping the defense contractor “create shared value” in Afghanistan. “Our work was not ‘humanitarian aid,’ it was to help a company with critical presence on the ground incorporate [creating shared value] into their business model.”

Chang also continued to claim the women were “in hiding,” saying “it’s irresponsible for anyone to share someone’s identity who says they’re hiding from the Taliban.” However, the pictures of the women Chang shared with an interviewer show the women’s faces.

Ian Dailey, Linking the World’s chief of staff, did not respond to a request for comment about the AMS sponsorship of Chang’s trip to Afghanistan.

The data scientist

In promotional material for Linking the World, under the heading “Who We Are,” the group lists a “chief data scientist,” Michel Leonard, an adjunct professor at New York University and Columbia University.

But Leonard told NBC News that “I was never an employee of this organization.” He said he had never seen the document touting his expertise, didn’t initially recognize the name of the charity and performed no work for it.

Dailey of Linking the World told NBC News in an email, “Linking the World is a volunteer-based organization, so no persons addressed on our site were employees. At the time, Mr. Leonard was employed by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), and I was personally working with him on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two organizations, to share data, skills and analyzes (sic). However, Mr. Leonard left USIP before that MOU was completed.”

In her email to NBC News, Chang also said that Leonard was a volunteer like other advisers.

In numerous bios, including one when she was a fellow at the New America think tank in Washington, Chang said she had served as a “cross cultural ambassador” for UNESCO.

But Chang does not appear on a list of ambassadors for UNESCO. Spokesman Roni Amelan said the organization does not have a “cross-cultural ambassador” category.


https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/senior-trump-admin-official-mina-chang-resigns-after-nbc-news-n1085186?cid=sm_npd_nn_fb_ma

Televangelist Paula White joins White House staff

Televangelist Paula WhitePresident Trump’s spiritual adviser, is reportedly joining the White House staff.

White, who has known Trump since 2002 and who has visited the White House several times, will work in the Office of Public Liaison, which oversees outreach to groups that help organize parts of the president’s base, The New York Times reports.

Her specific role will reportedly be advising the Trump administration’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative that aims to boost the voice of religious groups in certain government programs, The Times notes.

The Times notes that the move comes as Trump looks to maintain support from religious conservatives in the months leading up to the 2020 presidential election.

But while Trump has taken actions — including executive orders, cabinet appointments and judicial nominations — evangelicals Christians approve of, White is a controversial figure, meaning her appointment will likely become another source of contention among this group, The Times notes.

White told The New York Post last week that Trump is “not at all impulsive — he’s so far ahead of everyone, very much a strategic thinker.”

White delivered an opening prayer before his June campaign kickoff rally in Orlando, Fla., saying “demonic networks” have aligned themselves against Trump and vowing that the president “will overcome every strategy from hell and every strategy fro the enemy.”

[The Hill]

Reality

Paula White, a celebrity pastor of the self-serving “prosperity gospel” where she preaches success will come to you if you just send her a lot of your money, once refused a Congressional order to hand over any documents from her multi-million dollar megachurch business but was personally protected by Senator Chuck Grassley from any penalties.

WHITE HOUSE GOES FULL “DEAR LEADER” IN PRAISE OF “GENIUS” DONALD TRUMP

Accused by former White House chief of staff John Kelly of replacing him with a “yes man,” President Donald Trump dispatched a yes woman to rebut him. “I worked with John Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President,” Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement to CNN on Saturday, offering North Korean television a lesson in sycophancy.

The dust-up began when Kelly claimed at a Washington Examiner political summit over the weekend that he’d spoken to Trump before his January departure about the perils of silencing dissent in office. “I said, whatever you do, don’t hire a ‘yes man,’ someone who won’t tell you the truth,” Kelly claimed. “Don’t do that. Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached.” He continued, paraphrasing the conversation: “Don’t hire someone that will just, you know, nod and say, ‘You know, that’s a great idea Mr. President,’ Because you will be impeached.’”

In the months since Mick Mulvaney took over as acting chief of staff, Democrats have launched an official impeachment inquiry into Trump’s efforts to extort Ukraine into opening investigations into Joe Biden and an u founded conspiracy theory that Russia was framed for election hacking in 2016. The irony was apparently lost on Grisham—who has not held a single press briefing since taking over from Sarah Sanders. Grisham issued an almost uncanny “Dear Leader”-style response to Kelly’s claim, proclaiming Trump’s unparalleled greatness.

“I worked with John Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President,” Grisham said in a statement. That president, likewise refused to allow Kelly even the briefest of credit. “John Kelly never said that, he never said anything like that,” Trump replied in his own statement. “If he would have said that, I would have thrown him out of the office. He just wants to come back into the action like everybody else does.”

Kelly—sometimes credited as one of the “adults in the room” when it came to managing Trump—went on to express mild regret at his departure from the White House. “I have an awful lot of, to say the least, second thoughts about leaving,” he added. “It pains me to see what’s going on, because I believe if I was still there or someone like me was there, he would not be kind of, all over the place.”

He concluded of Trump’s recent struggles with the office, “the system that should be in place, clearly — the system of advising, bringing in experts, having these discussions with the president so he can make an informed decision — that clearly is not in place. And I feel bad that I left.”

[Vanity Fair]

Kellyanne Conway threatens to investigate reporter’s personal life in unhinged interview

Trump White House counselor Kellyanne Conway threatened to investigate a reporter’s personal life during an unhinged interview with the Washington Examiner.

The trouble began after Examiner reporter Caitlin Yilek received a call from Tom Joannou, who serves as Conway’s personal assistant, to complain about a story she’d written that included mentions of husband George Conway, who has become a prominent critic of President Donald Trump.

Joannou asked Yilek if the conversation could be off the record, and she agreed. However, shortly after the two started talking, Kellyanne Conway herself grabbed the phone and started haranguing Yilek.

Because she had only agreed to stay off the record with Joannou, the conversation with Conway was now on the record.

The Trump adviser railed against Yilek for writing about her husband and claimed that he was only now making a name for himself because of her relation with the president.

“Let me tell you something, from a powerful woman,” Conway said. “Don’t pull the crap where you’re trying to undercut another woman based on who she’s married to. He gets his power through me, if you haven’t noticed. Not the other way around.”

Later in the interview, Conway threatened to launch investigations into Yilek’s personal life.

“Listen, if you’re going to cover my personal life, then we’re welcome to do the same around here,” she said. “If it has nothing to do with my job, which it doesn’t, that’s obvious, then we’re either going to expect you to cover everybody’s personal life or we’re going to start covering them over here.”

Read the whole interview at this link.

[Raw Story]

Trump pick for education board writes Illuminati self-help books

President Trump‘s pick for a federal education board authors self-help Illuminati books.

The Commission of Presidential Scholars awards high school seniors in the country annually, and its board is comprised of education experts like the 2019 National Teacher of the Year. Trump’s nominee to this board, George Mentz, was announced last week, The Denver Post reported

Mentz, a lawyer and online professor of wealth management at the Texas A&M University School of Law, has written books called “The Illuminati Secret Laws of Money,” “The Illuminati Handbook,” “50 Laws of Power of the Illuminati” and “100 Secrets and Habits of the Illuminati for Life Success.”

“If you conceive of your desire, you can then imagine that your goal will take place with belief, and then you will be able [to] retrieve the opportunity from the world’s storehouse of riches,” he wrote in his book “Spiritual Wealth Management.”

The nominee said he uses the word “Illuminati” in his books about money and wealth partly for marketing reasons.

“Just because I use the word Illuminati, don’t let that get you too excited,” Mentz told The Denver Post. “If you look the word up, it means ‘illumination.’ How to be more aware, conscious, a better person.”

Mentz has donated thousands of dollars to Trump’s campaign and political action committee, after supporting him for three decades, The Denver Post report said.

[The Hill]

A top State Department official at the center of the Ukraine whistleblower complaint just resigned

Kurt Volker, the US State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine, resigned on Friday, following the release of the declassified version of a whistleblower complaint at the center of Democratic lawmakers’ inquiries on impeaching President Donald Trump.

Volker, was mentioned in the complaintthat was released Thursday morning. According to a section titled “ongoing concerns,” Volker met with Ukrainian leaders to help “navigate” Trump’s demands for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after a July 25 phone call. Volker was said to have been accompanied by Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union.

According to the whistleblower, who spoke with numerous US officials who looked at readouts of the meetings, the two US diplomats allegedly “provided advice” to the Ukrainian leaders on Trump’s “demands.”

Volker served part-time in his position, according to The New York Times, and served as the US ambassador to NATO. His resignation was first reported by The State Press, Arizona State University’s student-run newspaper.

House lawmakers issued a deposition for Volker, in addition to other US officials mentioned in the whistleblower complaint, to testify before Congress next week.

Volker’s resignation comes after a whistleblower brought to light the existence of a controversial phone call between the US and Ukrainian president. In a publicly released summary of the Trump-Zelensky phone call, the US president was said to have asked the Ukrainian president for a “favor” in investigating a conspiracy theory about the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 US presidential election.

Trump had also requested Zelensky to “look into” unproven allegations of misconduct from former Vice President and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, according to the summary.

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified on Capitol Hill on Thursday, and the anonymous whistleblower has also indicated that they want to testify about the potential misconduct, according to information obtained by CNN

Trump denied there was a “quid pro quo” arrangement during the call with President Zelensky, who met the US president in New York on Wednesday. Zelensky publicly echoed Trump’s description of a cordial call, and he said he did not want to be involved in the “democratic, open elections of USA.”

[Business Insider]

Update

Volker’s role in helping Trump to interfere in the 2020 election was corroborated by… Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. No really. Look:

Senate confirms Aton Scalia’s Son as Labor secretary

The Senate has confirmed Eugene Scalia to lead the Labor Department, replacing Alexander Acosta who resigned amid questions over a plea deal he brokered for the now-deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The Senate voted along party lines, 53-44, to confirm Scalia. He is the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

At his confirmation hearing last week, Democrats questioned his record on LGBTQ and disability rights, noting his past writings and court cases. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday voted along party lines to advance his nomination.

President Trump officially nominated Scalia in August, triggering opposition from labor unions due to his work as a lawyer for businesses in high-profile labor fights.

Scalia, 55, is a partner at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and is a member and former co-chairman of its labor and employment practice group. He also co-chairs the firm’s administrative law and regulatory practice group.

He also served as solicitor of the Labor Department from 2002 to 2003 after his appointment by former President George W. Bush.

[The Hill]

White House fires DHS general counsel

The White House has fired John Mitnick, who served as the general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), The New York Timesreported on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the department confirmed Mitnick’s exit to the news publication, saying: “We thank John for this service, and we wish him well.”

The official also told the paper that Chad Mizelle, an associate counsel to the president, will fill the position in Mitnick’s place.

Mitnick, who was nominated to the post by President Trump in 2017 and confirmed by the Senate the following year, was the department’s fifth general counsel.

His reported firing comes as DHS has continued to see a series of top aides and officials leave the agency amid tensions with the White House over its handling of immigration policy in recent months.

The news comes months after former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsenresigned from her post following speculation that her position was in jeopardy as the president grew frustrated over the situation at the border.

In the months following her exit, other top staffers, including Andrew Meehan, who served as top aide to acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, resigned from the department as tensions between it and the White House escalated.

The White House and DHS did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hill.

[The Hill]

Kellyanne Conway: It’s unconstitutional for Democrats to ’embarrass this president’ with impeachment

White House aide Kellyanne Conway on Sunday insisted that Democrats do not have a “constitutional basis” to embarrass President Donald Trump by conducting an impeachment inquiry.

Conway made the remarks while speaking to FOX News Sunday guest host Bill Hemmer.

“Complete nonsense,” she said when asked about the impeachment proceedings. “They need to get a messaging meeting and they need to read the constitution of the Democratic Party.”

“Americans, the Congress, they work for you,” Conway continued, talking over the FOX host. “And they’re wasting your money and your time trying to impeach a president where there are no high crimes and misdemeanors.”

She added: “Stop the nonsense of harassing and embarrassing this president and the people around him when you have no constitutional or legal basis to do so.”

Democrats have argued that they have a constitutional duty to conduct an impeachment inquiry.

[Raw Story]

Media

‘I don’t blame Kim Jong Un’: In dismissing Bolton, Trump sides with North Korean leader — again

Having ousted John Bolton from the White House, President Trump delivered a kick to his former national security adviser to illustrate just how far he had fallen. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the president said, “wanted nothing to do with” him during diplomatic talks over the past 17 months.

“I don’t blame Kim Jong Un,” he told reporters in the Oval Office.

Trump’s remarks on Wednesday revealed lingering resentment that, in his view, Bolton had threatened to derail the United States’ historic first summit with Kim last year by taking an unnecessarily provocative position in suggesting that Pyongyang must follow the “Libya model” and relinquish all of its nuclear weapons under any prospective deal.

Trump’s willingness to publicly side with Kim over a recently departed senior aide marked the latest in a string of extraordinary episodes in which he has aligned himself with one of the world’s most brutal dictators against individual Americans, the intelligence community, the military and U.S. allies.

Since the second U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi in February collapsed without a deal, Trump has sought to rekindle dormant bilateral negotiations by flattering Kim — but also by offering him political cover on a list of provocations that cut against U.S. interests.

This summer alone, the president has:

●Reiterated his belief that joint U.S.-South Korea military drills are “ridiculous and expensive” — this time after receiving a personal letter from Kim complaining about the exercises.

●Declared that the North’s testing of short-range missiles did not violate an agreement with Kim, prompting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to call the tests a clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

●Endorsed, while on a state visit to Tokyo, North Korean state media’s mockery of former vice president Joe Biden as a “fool of low IQ,” saying he agreed.

●Stated that he would not have authorized using Kim’s family members as spies against the regime amid reports that the CIA had cultivated the dictator’s half brother as an intelligence asset. (Kim Jong Nam was assassinated in Malaysia in 2017, at the North Korean leader’s direction, according to South Korea’s spy agency.)

Former U.S. officials said Trump’s approach with Kim fits his pattern of trying to maintain good personal relationships with hostile foreign leaders in hope that it will pay off at the negotiating table. Yet they emphasized that the strategy has not led to breakthroughs on Trump’s biggest foreign policy initiatives, including an effort to secure a trade deal with China.

“It’s his idea that you have to be utterly obsequious with your negotiating partner to suggest you’re a good guy and they should deal with you,” said Christopher Hill, who served as the lead negotiator in the George W. Bush administration during the Six Party Talks with North Korea. “Of course, he’s got very little to show for it. The North Koreans have just pocketed it.”

Although Trump has emphasized that Kim has abided by a private pledge in Singapore to refrain from testing nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, experts say the North has improved the accuracy and maneuverability of its short-range arsenal.

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