In an absolutely brutal takedown in the conservative Bulwark, a former speechwriter for Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) expressed disgust at the lack of outrage by the media — and presumably fellow Republicans — that Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner have been allowed to influence the government response to the coronavirus pandemic from their White House perches despite an absolute dearth of experience in such matters.
According to Amanda Carpenter, who is also a commentator on CNN, it’s time to stop giving the couple a pass.
“One of the most confounding predicaments of the Trump era is how everyone is supposed to keep treating fundamentally unserious people seriously. Case in point: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump,” she began. “Why, for example, is Jared on the television screen again, this time to brief the nation about the coronavirus? Why do we have to listen to Ivanka laugh along as she accepts false credit from her father for creating 15 million jobs? Of course, these are stupid questions because we all know the answer. Nepotism, duh. And yet, nepotism doesn’t even begin to explain what’s so galling about their presence.”
As Carpenter sees it, the press has largely taken a hands-off approach to the president’s daughter and son-in-law despite their lack of experience in government affairs and policy, to say nothing of their conflicts of interest when it comes to their personal business affairs and financial dealings.
“Maybe reporters hoped Jared and Ivanka would provide a friendly access point to the White House. Maybe some commentators thought the couple would serve as a moderating force upon the president. Maybe longstanding journalistic norms about presidents’ “children” being off-limits to close media scrutiny are somehow being applied to this 39-year-old man and 38-year-old woman,” she wrote. “For whatever reason, Jared and Ivanka still don’t get the full criticism they deserve—a fact they use to full advantage. Their carefully crafted calm and cool public images are cheap plaster over unbridled greed and arrogance that leads them to keep assuming positions they have no business taking.”
Singling out Kushner she explained, “In his role as senior advisor to the president, Kushner’s so-called ‘portfolio’ —which is said to include Iraq, China, bringing peace to the Middle East, building the border wall, veterans affairs, criminal justice reform, opioid addiction, government technology, and “reinventing” the entire federal government to make it more efficient—means he spends his time on whatever President Trump wants him to do. Kushner has no ‘lane.’ He dabbles in everything while being accountable for nothing at all.”
Carpenter then turned her eye on Ivanka, who she claims has “her hand directly in the middle of policymaking, business, and money.”
“Then there’s Ivanka, who Axios reports is busy lobbying banks for billions” she wrote. “She is playing ‘a key role in negotiating small-business provisions in the new rescue bill being planned by the Hill and the White House.’ Last year, President Trump said he thought about appointing her to the United Nations and offered her the top position at the World Bank because she’s ‘good with numbers. She declined; why would she leave the White House where she’s at the center of all the action?”
As the conservative activist sees it, lack of scrutiny now may mean the country will be saddled with these two for years to come as part of a “multi-generational grift.”
“How did we get here? Well, the only reason Jared and Ivanka are in the White House today is that President Trump’s Office of Legal Counsel reversed opinions it had given previous presidents, declaring that federal anti-nepotism statutes don’t apply to jobs in the White House office. Special exceptions for Jared and Ivanka are so standard that it actually would be more helpful to find out what rules do apply to them rather than not,” she wrote. “The defining feature of their joint operation involves putting on a nice face while Dad shoves and smashes all manner of norms. They’re Dr. Jekyll. He’s Mr. Hyde. But they’re all running the same game, and they’re all taking the winnings.”
“Really, it’s no wonder why Jared and Ivanka fell in love, given their willingness to accommodate and cash in on so much wrongdoing from their fathers. They’re a match that could only be made in the New York City tabloids. It would be much better if they stayed had there. How they help Dad and how Dad helps them may be their business, but it shouldn’t be the country’s. Not unless, that is, we are willing to accept a government of, by, and for the Trumps” Carpenter wrote before adding a warning.
“Does anyone think Jared and Ivanka are going away once Trump leaves office—whether that’s after 2020 or 2024?”
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Trump and Family Lose Bid to Have ‘Ugly Pyramid Scheme’ Class Action Lawsuit Put on Hold: Report
President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and The Trump Organization were dealt a blow Monday when a federal court judge refused to put a class action lawsuit against the family and the family business on hold.
Calling it an “Ugly Pyramid Scheme,” Law & Crime reports the “class action plaintiffs allege that the Trump family business promoted a multi-level marketing, or pyramid, scheme known as ACN Opportunity, LLC. ACN, the plaintiffs said, was a ‘get-rich-quick scheme’ that relied on Trump and his family ‘conn[ing] each of these victims into giving up hundreds or thousands of dollars,’ in violation of various state laws.”
The anonymous plaintiffs say ACN was paying the Trumps for their endorsement, which included positive mentions on various episodes of “Celebrity Apprentice,” but that financial link was never disclosed.
The judge appeared to agree.
“Plaintiffs were duped about the nature of the relationship between ACN and Defendants,” Judge Lorna G. Schofield wrote.
The original case was filed “as an anti-‘racketeering enterprise’ action,” Law & Crime adds, but “was later streamlined” when two federal charges were removed after the Trumps tried to have the case dismissed.
A 2018 New York Times article on the original case reported that the “complaint alleges that Mr. Trump and his family received secret payments from three business entities in exchange for promoting them as legitimate opportunities, when in reality they were get-rich-quick schemes that harmed investors, many of whom were unsophisticated and struggling financially.”
It called ACN “a telecommunications marketing company that paid Mr. Trump millions of dollars to endorse its products.”
Secret Service Signs $179,000 Golf Cart Contract for Summer at Trump’s New Jersey Golf Course: Report
According to a report from the Washington Post’s Fahrenthold, the Secret Service agreed to a $179,000 contract earlier this week with a company that will supply them with golf carts to be used for just the summer when protecting Donald Trump at his New Jersey golf course.
While the Bedminster golf course is currently closed due to the COVID-19 health crisis, it is expected to open soon allowing the president to golf once again and agents to follow along in the carts that will be available to them until Oct. 31.
“The golf carts are being rented from a private vendor, New York-based Associates Golf Car Service, which has supplied similar equipment to the Secret Service in Bedminster every year of Trump’s presidency,” the report states, adding, “The contract does not say whether Trump plans to visit the Bedminster club soon. The Secret Service also protects his family, and Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her family have already visited the club this year, despite stay-at-home orders in Washington and New Jersey, as the New York Times reported.”
“Trump has visited his properties 250 times as president, including 22 visits to Bedminster,” Fahrenthold wrote. “In the past, Trump has frequently left the cottage to visit the main clubhouse, socializing with members in the restaurant and dropping in on weddings in the ballroom. Those buildings are now closed. In previous years the Secret Service has rented space from Trump’s company, paying $17,000 per month for a four-room cottage at the Bedminster club near Trump’s own.”
Both the golf course general manager and the Trump White House declined to comment on the report.
Mnuchin’s Treasury Dept. Is Letting Banks Seize Coronavirus Relief Checks Up to Full $1200 to Pay Off Debts
Overdrawn? Late on your mortgage? Owe late fees to your bank or credit card company?
If you are expecting a coronavirus relief check, which most Americans are, up to $1200, be prepared to see a portion of it seized by the bank to pay off those debts.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury, headed by multi-millionaire Secretary Steve Mnuchin, has authorized banks to seize however much of your emergency coronavirus relief payment to pay off debts owed to your bank, according to The American Prospect’s Executive Editor David Dayen.
Congress passed the CARES Act to help the tens of millions of Americans who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic put food on their tables, pay their rent or mortgage – literally continue to live. Last week Mnuchin’s Treasury effectively told the banks it’s OK to seize what they deem you own them from those payments.
“Banks would be first in line to grab the payments to offset a delinquent loan or past-due fees,” Dayen reports. “Even if the individual thinks their account with that bank is closed, if the payments post there, the bank could conceivably use them to cover old debts.”
Obviously make sure your direct deposit goes to an account you control with a bank that doesn’t have any bad debts on it, because the danger exists that the bank could use the check to offset those debts.
— David Dayen (@ddayen) April 14, 2020
While the Treassury didn’t tell banks to go grab the cash, Treasury regulators made clear they are welcome to do so, as Dayen explains:
“The Treasury Department effectively blessed this activity on a webinar with banking officials last week. In audio obtained by the Prospect, Ronda Kent, chief disbursing officer with Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service, can be heard explaining that banks had posed questions to her about ‘whether these payments could be subject to collection from the bank to which the money is deposited, if the payee owes an outstanding loan or other payments to the bank.’ She responded—twice—that ‘there’s nothing in the law that precludes that action,’ while counseling that the banks’ compliance officers should consult with their legal offices about what policies their banks will implement. ‘You will want to know for your bank what your bank has decided to do,’ Kent said.”
That’s how it works.
Basically, “we’re not telling you you can’t, so do as you please.”
I checked with the five largest consumer banks. Only JPMorgan Chase said they would not use CARES Act payments to offset debts. The other four gave no response. https://t.co/by1oQ1cNkL
— David Dayen (@ddayen) April 14, 2020
One official told Dayen, “We don’t want to say anything explicitly and are telling you to make a business decision.”
Common Dreams notes Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey says the “payments are supposed to help individuals and families put food on the table during this crisis, not enrich debt collectors.”
Dayen says the Treasury Dept. could easily rescind this grant if it chose to.
The other thing would be that Treasury could end this possibility with a one-page regulatory order flagging the checks and ensuring that private debt collectors or banks cannot use them for garnishment or offsets. Treasury should feel some pressure to do that.
— David Dayen (@ddayen) April 14, 2020
Read the entire report here.
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