October 2, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 6:03 PM


Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father (DAVID BARSTOW, SUSANNE CRAIG and RUSS BUETTNER, Oct. 2, 2018, NY Times)

[T]he Times's investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father's real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.

Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents' real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.

These maneuvers met with little resistance from the Internal Revenue Service, The Times found. The president's parents, Fred and Mary Trump, transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children, which could have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55 percent tax rate then imposed on gifts and inheritances.

The Trumps paid a total of $52.2 million, or about 5 percent, tax records show.

Posted by orrinj at 2:51 PM


U.S. Image Slides As Trump Rated Lower Than Putin, Xi In Global Poll (Radio Liberty, October 02, 2018)

A survey of more than 26,000 people in 25 nations released by the Pew Research Center on October 1 found that only 27 percent trusted Trump to do the right thing in world affairs, compared to 30 percent who expressed confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin and 34 percent who voiced confidence in Chinese President Xi Jinping. [...]

The Pew survey indicated that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the most confidence-inspiring world leader, getting a thumbs-up from 52 percent of respondents -- nearly twice as many as Trump. 

Posted by orrinj at 4:10 AM


The F.B.I. Can Do This (James Comey, Sept. 30, 2018, NY Times)

Although the process is deeply flawed, and apparently designed to thwart the fact-gathering process, the F.B.I. is up for this. It's not as hard as Republicans hope it will be.

F.B.I. agents are experts at interviewing people and quickly dispatching leads to their colleagues around the world to follow with additional interviews. Unless limited in some way by the Trump administration, they can speak to scores of people in a few days, if necessary.

They will confront people with testimony and other accounts, testing them and pushing them in a professional way. Agents have much better nonsense detectors than partisans, because they aren't starting with a conclusion.

Yes, the alleged incident occurred 36 years ago. But F.B.I. agents know time has very little to do with memory. They know every married person remembers the weather on their wedding day, no matter how long ago. Significance drives memory. They also know that little lies point to bigger lies. They know that obvious lies by the nominee about the meaning of words in a yearbook are a flashing signal to dig deeper.

Once they start interviewing, every witness knows the consequences. It is one thing to have your lawyer submit a statement on your behalf. It is a very different thing to sit across from two F.B.I. special agents and answer their relentless questions. Of course, the bureau won't have subpoena power, only the ability to knock on doors and ask questions. But most people will speak to them. Refusal to do so is its own kind of statement.

Posted by orrinj at 4:04 AM


Speaking in NH, Flake says lies would disqualify Kavanaugh (TRAVIS MORIN, 10/01/18, Union Leader)

The senator spent much of his address Monday talking about the modern state of political partisanship, which he described as "a sickness in our system" that has infected the whole country. But he drew an immediate parallel to the Kavanaugh controversy when he referenced pushback he received when he called for his Senate colleagues to hear both Kavanaugh and Ford with an open mind. 

"It is surely a symptom of our disease that such a modest plea was met with rage from all sides," Flake said. "It was an interesting experiment really. Like dipping a toe into a pool of piranhas."

In an appearance earlier in the day in Boston, Flake said he wants to ensure that the FBI is able to do a "real investigation" into the allegations.

Flake has spent the last few days broadening the possibility that he may reject Kavanaugh's nomination when the full Senate votes. In an interview on CBS' 60 Minutes, Flake stated that Kavanaugh's nomination would be over if it was found he had lied in his testimony. 

In an interview after he spoke Monday night, Flake doubled down on that threat but he left room for the possibility that he could still support Kavanaugh if it were found he had lied about his history with alcohol, as some former high school and college classmates of Kavanaugh have charged since his testimony.

"Lying about your drinking, that's a little tougher and more fungible answer, I think, as to what drinking in excess means," said Flake. "But if he lied on particular things that were demonstrable, then that's disqualifying."

If he really wants to run for president he needs to oppose Donald's policies, not just his personnel.

Posted by orrinj at 4:02 AM


Trump's New Nafta Pact Looks More Like a Rebranding Than a Revolution (Shawn Donnan, October 1, 2018, Bloomberg)

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, clinched just before a midnight deadline on Sunday, reads more like an amalgam of the existing Nafta along with certain provisions from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership that Trump pulled the U.S. out of on his first full working day in office.

The risk, according to some economists, is that Nafta 2.0 imposes more regulatory demands on companies including automakers and ends up hurting rather than helping North America's competitiveness versus rivals like China.

...just join up and let him rename that one too.