Donald Trump’s Televised Cabinet Meeting Was Another Nutty Episode

oes it even matter any more that, on Monday, El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago had another televised nutty in the White House? Does it matter more that, in the course of his televised nutty, the president* expressed virulent contempt for the Constitution he swore to preserve, protect, and defend. I mean, I was sitting there when he did it. I had to sit through that awful Roger Corman film of an inaugural address. Did I do that for naught?

Anyway, on Monday, the president* unburdened himself of the following thought-like objects.

On the war on terror:

“I’m the one who did the capturing. I’m the one who knows more about it than you people or fake pundits.”

On the whistleblower:

“I happen to think there probably wasn’t an informant. You know, the informant went to the whistleblower, the whistleblower had, you know, second-and-third-hand information. So was there actually an informant? Maybe the informant was Schiff!”

And then, the piece de resistance, in which Alexander Hamilton and James Madison become operatives of The Deep State…

“You people with this phony emoluments clause.”

I know he burbled on about George Washington and Barack Obama and Netflix and how unprecedented it is that he’s not taking a salary. (Herbert Hoover didn’t, nor did JFK.) But I think I briefly went to another place when he said that thing about the Emoluments Clause. How about the Bill of Rights? How about the powers of Congress? How about the impeachment provisions? What other parts of the Constitution does he consider “phony”?


Trump Lashes Out at Coverage of Awarding G7 to Resort He Owns, Also Extolls Resort’s ‘Tremendous Ballrooms’

President Donald Trump reacted angrily Saturday to criticism of his administration announcing it would hold a summit of foreign leaders at a resort Trump owns.

“I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders,” Trump said Saturday night.

Trump went on to praise the features of his resort like “tremendous ballrooms” and claimed again that he would not “profit” from the summit.

Trump also highlighted Doral’s proximity to Miami International Airport as a positive, but Chuck Todd and David Fahrenthold pointed to that as a negative on Friday, both of them agreeing it was a security risk for the high-profile event.

“Doral is right on the Miami airport flight paths,” Todd said. “I think one of my reporters told me there’s like 20 different flight paths that are going to have to be diverted.”

“This is such a security nightmare to put it in the middle of a neighborhood where you’re going to have the neighbors coming and going,” Fahrenthold said.


G-7 Summit To Be Held At Trump’s Miami Golf Resort

Next year’s Group of Seven gathering of the leaders of the world’s biggest economies will take place at President Trump’s Doral golf resort outside of Miami,acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announced on Thursday.

“We used a lot of the same criteria used by past administrations,” Mulvaney said. He later said it was almost as though the resort had been built for the event.

The Trump administration’s decision to host the high-profile international summit at Doral is sure to stoke the ongoing controversy about Trump’s decision to maintain his ownership of his businesses while serving as president.

“We know the environment we live in,” Mulvaney said, adding that Trump was willing to take the scrutiny.

Mulvaney noted that Doral was Trump’s suggestion that staff followed up on. He said “no” when asked whether it was better to avoid the appearance of self-dealing, pointing repeatedly to potential cost savings. He said he would not share documents on the decision-making process.

Trump made his interest in holding the summit at Doral known in August, while attending this year’s gathering in Biarritz, France.

“We haven’t found anything that could even come close to competing with it,” Trump told reporters. He mentioned the resort’s proximity to Miami International Airport, abundant parking and private cabanas to host each country’s delegation. “It’s got tremendous acreage, many hundreds of acres, so we can handle whatever happens.”

According to Trump’s financial disclosures, he earned $76 million in income from Doral in 2018. But in a sign of how the Trump brand has struggled since he became a political figure, that’s a substantial drop from the nearly $116 million the resort earned for him in 2016.

Reaction from Democrats was swift and negative.

“The Administration’s announcement that President Trump’s Doral Miami resort will be the site of the next G7 summit is among the most brazen examples yet of the President’s corruption,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., in a statement. “He is exploiting his office and making official U.S. government decisions for his personal financial gain.”

When asked whether it was appropriate to hold the international summit at Trump’s property, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told reporters at the Capitol, “No.”

While Trump stepped away from running the Trump Organization before becoming president, he never gave up his stake in his various businesses, which include golf clubs, hotels and office buildings around the world.

There are several lawsuits moving through the courts that allege Trump is violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which bans the president from accepting gifts and payments from foreign and state governments.

Noah Bookbinder — the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which is one of the groups suing Trump over the emoluments issue — described the announcement as “unbelievable.”

“Given the potential consequences the president is facing for abusing the presidency for his own gain, we would have thought he would steer clear of blatant corruption at least temporarily; instead he has doubled down on it,” said Bookbinder.

Since Trump secured the GOP nomination in 2016, his properties have become favored places for Republicans to hold fundraising and political events. Federal Election Commission records indicate that Trump’s reelection campaign, GOP committees and candidates have spent millions at Trump properties.

Mulvaney said on Thursday that he himself was initially skeptical of the idea but said the event would be “dramatically cheaper” if held at Doral. He said Trump had “made it very clear” that he would not profit from having the resort host the summit.

Trump’s international properties also have come under scrutiny. This summer, the U.S. Air Force acknowledged that hundreds of service members had stayed at Trump’s Scottish resort during refueling stops there. Vice President Pence also came under scrutiny for staying at Trump’s Irish golf resort during an official visit to Ireland.


Trump denies bedbug infestation at Doral resort after club settled lawsuit in 2017

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to slam Democrats for spreading a “false and nasty rumor” that his Doral, Florida, golf club, where he has said he hopes to host a gathering of world leaders for a major summit next year, is infested with bedbugs.

“No bedbugs at Doral,” Trump said. “The Radical Left Democrats, upon hearing that the perfectly located (for the next G-7) Doral National MIAMI was under consideration for the next G-7, spread that false and nasty rumor. Not nice!”

But in fact, a possible bedbug infestation was the subject of a 2016 lawsuit, in which a New Jersey man who sued for $15,000 in damages alleging that he woke up covered in bites and sores after a night in one of the resort’s villas.

According to a complaint filed in Miami-Dade County Court, Eric Linder, 66, awoke on the morning of March 8, 2016, “to discover that he had multiple welts, lumps and marks over much of his face, neck, arms and torso.”

Linder said he then issued a complaint to the resort’s management, who went to test both rooms he had stayed in for bedbugs.

“[Linder] was advised by the Trump resort staff and/or management that the guest room in the Jack Nicklaus Villa building tested positive for bedbugs,” the complaint alleged. “Trump National Doral and the Jack Nicklaus Villa building in particular, has a history of severe bedbug infestation, going back to at least the beginning of 2016.”

In a court filing responding to the lawsuit, lawyers for the resort denied all of the allegations leveled by Linder, and leveled an attack against Linder saying he, “conducted himself so carelessly and negligently that his conduct was the sole proximate cause or contributing cause to the events of which he complains.”

The resort never was compelled to expand on that attack, however, because it reached an out-of-court settlement with Linder and the case came to a close in May 2017.

The settlement included a confidentiality clause, so both Linder and the resort have been barred from speaking further about the matter.

Neal Hirschfeld, who represented Linder in the case, told ABC News that the president’s tweets “would not have any effect” on the settlement and said that the case is, “long over.”

Separately, Linder did not immediately respond to calls requesting comment on the matter.

[ABC News]

Donald Trump wants to hold next G7 summit at his Failing Florida golf resort

President Donald Trump wants to hold next year’s G7 summit at his Doral golf resort near Miami.

Trump visited the Doral resort for the first time in his presidency this week after holding a rally in Orlando to attend a fundraiser for his re-election campaign, the Washington Post reported. It marked the 126th visit to one of his properties since he was inaugurated.

Trump likes to visit his own properties so much that he suggested holding next year’s G7 summit, a gathering of leaders from the U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, at the Doral resort or one of his other luxury properties, former and current White House officials told the Post.

Aides said that White House staffers and even the White House counsel’s office have pushed back on Trump’s official visits to his properties and voiced concerns about the appearance of him using the power of the presidency to direct taxpayer money into his own companies.

Trump has not listened to the aides and overruled a recommendation against visiting his Turnberry golf club in Scotland last year. He has since visited his golf clubs in Ireland, Los Angeles and now South Florida on official trips.

The trips have been a boon for the resorts. His companies have earned at least $1.6 million in revenue from federal officials and Republican campaigns who had to travel with Trump, according to an analysis by the Post, which reported that the real number is likely much higher because the data used only covered spending through the first half of 2017.

Republicans have even “reshaped” their fundraising schedule, with one-third of fundraisers and donor events attended by Trump being held at his own properties, according to the report. Republican fundraisers told the Post that several groups have held events at Trump’s properties in order to increase the chance that the president will attend.

“The president knows that by visiting his properties, taxpayer dollars will flow directly into his own pockets. Then, unsurprisingly, the president visits his properties all the time,” Ryan Shapiro of the watchdog group Property for the People told the Post.

An earlier analysis found that the Trump campaign and more than three dozen members of Congress had spent upwards of $4 million at Trump’s properties.

The increased political spending at Trump’s properties is at the center of a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia, who allege that Trump’s profits violate laws barring the president from receiving gifts or additional payments from the federal government. Both attorneys general are also alleging that Trump violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution because his Washington hotel accepts payments from foreign governments.

House Democrats passed an amendment in response to Trump’s frequent trips to his properties, seeking to bar the State Department from spending any money at his businesses.

“It’s against the emoluments clause of the Constitution to be making money out of the job,” said Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, a Democrat who sponsored the amendment. “And he does it every chance he can.”

Last year, taxpayers paid at least $30,000 for meeting rooms and hotel stays for then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other officials in luxury suites when Trump hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.

According to State Department emails obtained by Property of the People, the rooms cost 300 percent more than the maximum amount allowed by government policies. Taxpayers were also hit with a $1,000 bar tab that Trump aides ran up at the club, ProPublica reported.

Trump’s repeated trips to his resorts came as both his Doral and Mar-a-Lago properties have struggled to draw non-government business.

Mar-a-Lago’s revenue fell by nearly 10 percent from 2017 to last year, according to Trump’s financial disclosure. Doral’s net operating income has plummeted by 69 percent since Trump took office.

“They are severely underperforming,” a Trump tax consultant told officials earlier this year while seeking tax relief for the properties. “There is some negative connotation that is associated with the brand.”


Trump Preps for Presidency as He Attempts to Sue a Painter Out of Business

After his election, Donald Trump quickly settled a series of business disputes — but just days before his inauguration, the president-elect’s company is still waging a legal battle against a Florida shop owner over an unpaid bill.

The matter could have been settled for what amounts to pocket change for a billionaire, but the Trump Organization decided to take its chances in court.

Now Trump stands to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars. And if he wins, it could force a small businessman — one of hundreds who say they were stiffed by Trump over the years — possibly into bankruptcy.

That businessman, Juan Carlos Enriquez, owner of The Paint Spot, won the first round of the legal skirmish last summer when a judge found a lien he slapped on the Trump National Doral golf resort was valid.

The court ordered Trump to pay for $32,000 worth of paint, plus nearly $300,000 in legal fees. Trump’s company appealed, and barring a last-minute resolution, the case will be pending when he takes office; the deadline for final briefs is two days before he becomes the most powerful person in America.

Enriquez’s lawyer, Daniel Vega, said he is not surprised it has gone this far.

“The Trump litigation team litigated this case from day one like lions on fresh meat and continue to do so now on appeal,” he told NBC News.

The matter dates back to the fall of 2013 when Enriquez, who owns three Miami paint stores, was tapped by a subcontractor to supply paint for a major remodeling project at the Doral resort, owned and operated by a Trump company called Trump Endeavor.

There is no dispute that the paint was delivered and used on the property, according to court records. But after the subcontractor walked off the job weeks before completion, Enriquez didn’t get a final payment.

In a deposition, a project manager for general contractor Straticon testified that he failed to get the Trump Organization to pay the balance.

“Were you trying to pay him,” Vega asked the manager, Jamie Gram, during the sessions.

“I was,” Gram replied.

“And what happened?”

“Somebody chose not to,” Gram said.

“Who?” the lawyer asked.

“The Trump Organization,” Gram said.

“Who at Trump?”

“I don’t know,” Gram said. “Mr. Trump. Donald Trump.”

In October 2014, Enriquez filed a lien — a legal tool that can be used to recover a debt by tying up a piece of property — against Doral.

Eight months later, Enriquez filed a lawsuit against Trump Endeavor, seeking to foreclose on the 800-acre resort.

The Trump team’s defense was largely technical.

It turned out that when Enriquez took the job he submitted paperwork called a Notice to Owner, which would allow him to file a lien against the property if a bill wasn’t paid.

A Trump official gave him a form to work off — but it listed the general contractor for a different part of the project, and Enriquez repeated the mistake on his notice.

Gram later noticed and flagged the error. Enriquez said he would fix it but never did, court documents show.

At trial, though, Gram testified that the decision not to pay Enriquez “had nothing to do with a defective notice to owner.”

He went on to explain that the bill went unpaid because the Trump Organization had already paid “a decent amount of money” to the subcontractor, M&P, before it abandoned the job. The resort used any money left over, plus additional funds, to complete the unfinished paint job, he said.

Gram’s testimony appeared to distress Trump’s legal team, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jorge Cueto noted in his June 2016 ruling.

“When Mr. Gram made that admission, Trump’s trial attorneys visibly winced, began breathing heavily and attempted to make eye contact with him,” the judge wrote.

The judge found that Enriquez had made “diligent efforts” to comply with the lien law and that being given the wrong paperwork by the Trump official was the root of the mistake. He also dismissed Trump clams that the bill was fraudulent, subtracting only $76.39 for a stepladder from the bottom line.

Cueto then dealt the Trump team a bigger blow, ruling that they had to pay Enriquez’s legal costs. Because Vega had taken the case on contingency, meaning he would not get paid if they lost, the judge tacked on a multiplier to compensate him for the risk he took, nearly doubling the award to $283,949.91.

“Trump elected to fight this case ‘tooth and nail’ instead of resolving it for a reasonable amount, driving up Paint Spot’s litigation fees and costs,” the judge explained.

The Trump trial attorneys did not respond to requests for comment, nor did the Trump Organization’s general counsel. The attorney handling the appeal, Bruce Rogow, did not respond to a question about who should have paid Enriquez for the paint used at Doral.

“Florida Statutes on liens are very specific and the appeal seeks to enforce those statutes which would mean that there was no valid lien to begin with and therefore the plaintiff was not entitled to any relief,” he wrote in an email. “That really is all that is at issue.”

Rogow did not respond to a question about whether the president-elect was personally involved in the decision to appeal the judgement. A spokesperson for Trump also did not respond to questions from NBC News.

Vega said he is confident The Paint Spot will win the appeal. But if he loses, he said, Enriquez could be saddled with Trump legal fees and might face bankruptcy. Trump’s attorney declined to say whether they would seek to recoup the legal fees.

Despite the stakes, Vega said he and his client were not afraid to take on the litigious billionaire.

“The Paint Spot is also owned by a proud small business owner… and he felt and we agreed that he was right factually and legally and therefore, we both decided to take on the risk,” Vega said.

(h/t NBC News)