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  1. #3256

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    I hope they're all arrested and charged with trespassing
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  2. #3257

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    About that AP fact check.
    Nobody is denying that the Dems are blocking the funds for the wall. Because the whole point is that the idea is ridiculous and it would be 5.7BB wasted.
    Starry starry night

  3. #3258
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    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    Quote Originally Posted by ponchi101 View Post
    About that AP fact check.
    Nobody is denying that the Dems are blocking the funds for the wall. Because the whole point is that the idea is ridiculous and it would be 5.7BB wasted.
    Fact check: Many blame the mugger for stealing your wallet. But, it takes two to tango. That the mugger demanded your money at gun point is one side. That you didn't turn the money over is the other.

  4. #3259

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    At Trump’s Inauguration, $10,000 for Makeup and Lots of Room Service

    By Maggie Haberman, Sharon LaFraniere and Ben Protess
    Jan. 14, 2019

    WASHINGTON — Private donors put up $107 million to usher Donald J. Trump into office in style two years ago, and it is now clear just how enthusiastically his inaugural committee went to town with it.

    There was $10,000 for makeup for 20 aides at an evening inaugural event. There was another $30,000 in per diem payments to dozens of contract staff members, in addition to their fully covered hotel rooms, room service orders, plane tickets and taxi rides, including some to drop off laundry.

    The bill from the Trump International Hotel was more than $1.5 million. And there was a documentary, overseen by a close friend of Melania Trump’s, that was ultimately abandoned.

    The details of the expenditures, gleaned from interviews and from documents reviewed by The New York Times and not previously made public, show that the committee spent heavily on nearly every aspect of the events surrounding the inauguration.


    In 72 days, it laid out about $100 million, roughly twice as much or more than was raised by Barack Obama or George W. Bush for their first and second presidential inaugurations.

    Disclosure of the spending details comes at a time when the inaugural committee is facing legal scrutiny over the donations that funded it.

    Inaugural committees are required to document every donation with the Federal Election Commission, and the Trump team’s reports are now under investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Investigators are also looking into whether any foreign donations, which are illegal in the United States, were passed through Americans, and whether any donations went unrecorded, people familiar with the inquiries said.

    People involved with the committee have said that they vetted all donors, but that they could do only so much to prove someone’s money was their own. False statements to the Federal Election Commission can be a crime.

    The investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan was prompted at least partly by a recording that Mr. Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, made of a conversation he had with a central figure in the inaugural planning, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, shortly after Mrs. Trump ended Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s role as an unpaid adviser to the first lady. Ms. Winston Wolkoff was dismissed after initial reports about the amount of money taken in by the entity she formed to help produce the inaugural.


    But millions were written off in lost revenue. That included $6.4 million for blocks of hotel rooms booked for guests who ended up arranging their own accommodations. The Republican National Committee booked the excess hotel rooms before the inaugural staff was even formed, but the committee had to pony up when only half as many rooms were used as the party organization had expected.

    Another $1.2 million in revenue that the committee expected to recoup for a media center never materialized.

    Other arrangements by the inaugural committee also proved unusual.

    Ms. Winston Wolkoff, then a close friend of Mrs. Trump’s, was initially signed to a $1.6 million contract. Along with a friend, Jonathan Reynaga, she formed WIS Media Partners, a firm that oversaw broadcast rights for the inaugural events and worked on the documentary project featuring interviews with top inaugural committee officials.
    The idea was to sell the rights to a major distributor. The project was later abandoned, although the interview footage still exists, as do copies, according to three people familiar with the effort.

    WIS Media Partners became the inaugural committee’s top vendor, acting as a kind of general contractor and overseeing a series of events. It received nearly $26 million, much of which was paid out to other vendors.

    Steve Kerrigan, who was chief of staff for Mr. Obama’s first inaugural committee, said that the firm’s $1.6 million “supervisory fee” was the equivalent of “roughly one-fourth of what we paid our entire 450-person staff” in 2009. Even if Ms. Winston Wolkoff shared the fee among more than a dozen other top managers, as she and others say she did, the charge itself, Mr. Kerrigan said, was “outrageous.”

    Greg Jenkins, the executive director of Mr. Bush’s second inaugural, said, “I have never heard anybody getting that kind of fee associated with any inaugural, ever.”

    Ms. Winston Wolkoff often fought with other top aides, according to people with direct knowledge of events. She was known to threaten to have senior officials fired, at times brandishing a cellphone and saying she would text Mrs. Trump or Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter, conveying a sense of authority that people later came to realize she did not have, three people with direct knowledge of the events said.

    A lawyer for Ms. Winston Wolkoff declined to comment.

    A spokesman for WIS Media Partners said all of the firm’s charges “were vetted, authorized and signed off on” by the committee’s top officials, including Thomas J. Barrack Jr., the committee’s chairman; Rick Gates, the deputy chairman; and Sara Armstrong, the chief executive.

    He said the firm’s fees were “significantly below” the customary charges “for equivalent productions,” and that officials provided the inaugural committee with “all its audited records and receipts.” He said the company could not reveal more because it is legally barred by the inaugural committee from discussing its work on the inaugural events.

    In a statement, Mr. Barrack said he continues “to be proud of the incredible work of all those that were part of the committee” and that it “complied with all laws and regulations, and its finances were fully audited internally and independently. The donors were fully vetted and disclosed to the Federal Election Commission as required.”

    Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee has come under scrutiny in the past for its high administrative and logistical costs. The new details help flesh out how the inaugural spent the money. Among the payments was more than $2 million spent on the firm of the Trump campaign official Brad Parscale for online advertisements to drum up inaugural crowds.

    The Trump International Hotel was paid more than $1.5 million for services including the use of a ballroom, an “annex” and a space called the townhouse, according to records and people familiar with the payments.

    While two other hotels, the Willard and the Fairmont, collected as much or more, Mr. Trump’s hotel was also favored by vendors who billed their expenses directly to the committee.

    Over all, the Trump team’s spending appears “astronomical,” said Emmett S. Beliveau, who was chief executive of Mr. Obama’s first inaugural committee.

    Mr. Jenkins, who handled the Bush inaugural, said the scale of the Trump team’s spending “blows me away.”

    Ms. Winston Wolkoff and Mr. Reynaga brought in nearly three dozen staff members, some of whom flew in from Los Angeles or other cities and remained on the East Coast for weeks. WIS also helped bring in a New York-based party planner named David Monn, who refused to sign a contract, according to two people familiar with the arrangement. Mr. Monn charged the committee a total of $3.7 million, from which he paid subcontractors.

    Among other tasks, Ms. Winston Wolkoff and colleagues managed the 500-person black-tie dinner hosted by Mr. Barrack at the neo-Classical Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium and a 1,500-person “candlelight” dinner at Union Station. They decided the decorations were not elegant enough and needed to be enhanced.

    Mr. Monn spent $924,000 on seven-foot-high wreaths, moss-covered obelisks, flowers and other decorations to dress up Union Station. Makeup was provided for 20 staff members at a cost of $500 per person. For the dinner at the auditorium, table menus, table numbers and place cards, including an on-site calligrapher to correct last-minute mistakes, amounted to $91 per guest. Mr. Monn did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Monday.

    The handling of expenses for contractors like WIS Media Partners was also unusual. Mr. Kerrigan, who also served as chief executive of Mr. Obama’s second inaugural committee, said officials negotiated fixed-price contracts that limited how much vendors could charge for expenses.

    If a vendor’s staff member ran up a big room service bill, “that was on them,” said David Cusack, who was the executive director of the second committee. “They had a per diem, and they were supposed to eat on that.”

    For Mr. Bush’s second inaugural, too, vendors were required to build their expenses into their contracts, Mr. Jenkins said. He said his committee did not even hire vendors from outside the Washington area because “there was no need to.”

    The Trump inaugural committee covered not only a fixed per diem for the people brought in by WIS Media, but picked up expenses including room service, cab rides for assistants who dropped off laundry and an order of McDonald’s. All told, those expenses came to $227,511.

    In less than two months, WIS billed $31,000 for hotel rooms described as Mr. Reynaga’s, including nearly $18,000 for rooms at the Trump International Hotel, according to detailed expense documents reviewed by The Times. He also billed thousands of dollars for meals, room service and travel. On one day, he charged a $560 Amtrak train ticket from New York to Washington, plus a $251 first-class upgrade to meet with Mr. Barrack. That was followed by a $100 Uber ride the next day to “get to Tom’s plane,” the records show.

    The spokesman for WIS said WIS expenses were paid through business cards tied to a few senior officials of the firm, including Mr. Reynaga, meaning that Mr. Reynaga could have been paying for other employees’ costs.

    He also said staff members stayed at the Trump International Hotel “at the explicit direction” of inaugural committee officials. A former official of the inaugural committee denied that the WIS employees were required to stay at the Trump hotel.

    Maggie Haberman and Sharon LaFraniere reported from Washington, and Ben Protess from New York.

    A version of this article appears in print on Jan. 15, 2019, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: At Inauguration, Spending Money At a Record Pace.

    Looks like Ms. Winston Wolkoff is going to take the weight since she's described as the "then friend" of Tiny's wife. These people have no friends.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  5. #3260
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    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    As much as I want everything exposed and out in the open, they should not have the translator testify. If both leaders spoke the same language, they would have had that meeting just between the two of them, and we should treat it as if they did. Now, whether the President should have a private meeting with the Russian President and not tell anyone what they talked about is another matter altogether. But a translator should have a similar relationship with a client as a lawyer does. That translator is sworn to secrecy in that role. You can't flip that confidentiality to burn people later.

  6. #3261

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    T-Mobile announced a merger needing Trump administration approval. The next day, 9 executives had reservations at Trump’s hotel.

    By Jonathan O'Connell and
    David A. Fahrenthold January 16 at 7:00 AM
    Last April, telecom giant T-Mobile announced a megadeal: a $26 billion merger with rival Sprint, which would more than double T-Mobile’s value and give it a huge new chunk of the cellphone market.

    But for T-Mobile, one hurdle remained: Its deal needed approval from the Trump administration.

    The next day, in Washington, staffers at the Trump International Hotel were handed a list of incoming “VIP Arrivals.” That day’s list included nine of T-Mobile’s top executives — including its chief operating officer, chief technology officer, chief strategy officer, chief financial officer and its outspoken celebrity chief executive, John Legere.

    They were scheduled to stay between one and three days. But it was not their last visit.

    Instead, T-Mobile executives have returned to Trump’s hotel repeatedly since then, according to eyewitnesses and hotel documents obtained by The Washington Post.

    By mid-June, seven weeks after the announcement of the merger, hotel records indicated that one T-Mobile executive was making his 10th visit to the hotel. Legere appears to have made at least four visits to the Trump hotel, walking the lobby in his T-Mobile gear.

    These visits highlight a stark reality in Washington, unprecedented in modern American history. Trump the president works at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Trump the businessman owns a hotel at 1100 Pennsylvania.

    Countries, interest groups and companies like T-Mobile — whose future will be shaped by the administration’s choices — are free to stop at both and pay the president’s company while also meeting with officials in his government. Such visits raise questions about whether patronizing Trump’s private business is viewed as a way to influence public policy, critics said.

    Last week, a Post reporter spotted Legere in the Trump hotel’s lobby. In an impromptu interview, the T-Mobile chief executive said he was not seeking special treatment. He chose the Trump hotel, he said, for its fine service and good security.

    “It’s become a place I feel very comfortable,” Legere said. He also praised the hotel’s location, next to one of the departments that must approve the company’s merger.

    “At the moment I am in town for some meetings at the Department of Justice,” Legere said. “And it’s very convenient for that.”

    ...The Post obtained lists for about a dozen days in 2018.

    Those lists showed 38 nights of hotel stays by the T-Mobile executives; because The Post’s data is incomplete, the number could be higher.

    Rooms at the luxury hotel routinely cost more than $300 per night.

    The Post shared details about those stays — gleaned from the VIP Arrivals lists and eyewitness accounts — with both T-Mobile and the Trump Organization. Neither challenged the findings. After Legere’s brief interview at the Trump hotel, T-Mobile declined to comment further for this report.

    Trump’s hotel also has hosted parties put on by the Kuwaiti and Philippine embassies, rented hundreds of rooms to lobbyists paid by Saudi Arabia, and hosted a large meeting of the oil industry’s lobbying group.

    But the T-Mobile case stands out because the company’s executives were expected at the hotel so soon after announcing they needed a win in Washington.

    “It’s currying favor with the president. It’s disturbing, because it’s another secret avenue for currying favor with the government,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics.

    She said that even if they weren’t directly ordered by Trump, the president’s appointees might feel pressured to help Trump’s customers. That might undermine public confidence in the decisions that result, Krumholz said.

    The White House did not respond to requests for comment.


    Legere, the T-Mobile chief executive, also had a history with the president.

    But it wasn’t a good one.

    “I will obviously leave your hotel right away,” Legere wrote on Twitter in April 2015, during a public spat that began with complaints about Legere’s stay at a Trump hotel in New York, and escalated when Trump called T-Mobile’s service “terrible.”

    Later, Legere mocked Trump’s hotels after checking out. “I am so happy to wake up in a hotel where every single item isn’t labeled ‘Trump,’ ” he wrote, according to news coverage. Those tweets appear to have been deleted.

    Three years later, on the day after the T-Mobile merger was announced, Legere was scheduled to arrive at the Trump hotel in Washington.


    That day’s VIP Arrivals list included 39 names. There were executives at a Defense Department contractor called AxleTech; a spokesman said they chose the hotel because they had a meeting at a corporate office across the street. Two other VIPs were connected with the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action, which was hosting a dinner with the president at the hotel that night. A spokeswoman said one room was for the event photographer, the other for staff preparations.

    And there were the nine T-Mobile executives. Of them, only Legere was listed with an “R” next to his name — signaling to Trump hotel employees that he was a repeat Trump customer.

    Inside the hotel’s busy, soaring lobby, Legere was noticed quickly.

    “Everybody knew. You couldn’t miss it,” said Jake Loft, who was in the lobby for a regularly scheduled networking event. He spotted Legere by his outfit, which was — as usual — a walking billboard for T-Mobile. Legere wore a black-and-magenta hoodie with a T-Mobile logo over a bright-magenta T-shirt with another T-Mobile logo. “He wasn’t dressed appropriately,” Loft said.


    In late May, the Trump hotel expected T-Mobile’s general counsel, David Miller, for a return visit, staying two days. Then, on June 17, 2018, the VIP Arrivals list showed that Legere, Miller and T-Mobile Executive Vice President David Carey would be returning for five-day stays.

    By that time — just six weeks after the merger was announced — the list shows that the T-Mobile executives were already experienced Trump customers. Legere and Carey were members of the “Trump Card” program. Carey’s entry also contained the notation “R(10).”

    That — according to Trump hotel staffers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they aren’t permitted to speak to the media — was an indication that Carey was making his 10th visit to the hotel. The listings also contained the words “Long Term” because of the length of their stays. Carey and Miller did not respond to requests for comment.

    After that, Legere came a few days later. On June 27, the same day that Legere testified to Congress about the merger, he was spotted at the hotel by independent journalist Zach Everson, according to an account Everson posted on Twitter. Everson said he saw Legere in the hotel lobby, talking to former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who has advised T-Mobile during the merger talks.


    In the interview at the Trump hotel last week, Legere said that although the hotel was clearly a place to be seen, he did not believe the president knew about his staying there.

    Did he expect that his staying there might earn his company any special treatment?

    “Certainly not. I don’t know why it would,” he said.

    Sometime after that interview, Legere apparently checked out of the Trump hotel. By the next evening, Legere was tweeting about the great bar at “my current DC hotel” — the Four Seasons in Georgetown.

    Brian Fung contributed to this report.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  7. #3262

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    Julia Davis

    #Russia's state TV—which was previously more than happy to exclaim "Trump is ours"— now nervously attempts to refute the idea he is an agent of the Kremlin. Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov complains about the lack of leaks in the Mueller investigation. They smell trouble.

    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

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