• Same story, different day...........year ie more of the same fiat floods the world
  • There are no markets
  • "Spreading the ideas of freedom loving people on matters regarding high finance, politics, constructionist Constitution, and mental masturbation of all types"

Is Trump A Good Guy? Bad Guy? Political Genius? A Nut?

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"By age 3, Mr. Trump was earning $200,000 a year in today's dollars from his father's empire. He was a millionaire by age 8.
That doesn't even make sense. If he were paid the equivalent of $200,000 of today's dollars in 1949, that means he actually received approx $2.2 million.
....and if he was paid in 1949 the equivalent of $200,000 of today's dollars, he only would have received approx $19,000. Be hard to become a millionaire by 8yo at that pay rate.


Which is perfectly legal.
....but we won't let that get in the way of promoting class warfare.
 

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REVEALED: Trump could owe $400 MILLION in New York back taxes and penalties if state finds his family used 'dodges' for decades

  • Expert estimates Trump's back state tax bill at $400M after NYT report
  • Report on Tuesday claimed Trump's father used tax 'dodges' to bequeath wealth
  • New York City's mayor says he'll go after Trump for back taxes he might owe
  • Bill de Blasio suggested that there could be criminal prosecutions and big fines
  • The president was a millionaire aged eight, according to the lengthy report
  • Picked up $177 million in cash when Fred Trump's empire was sold off in 2004
  • White House called it a 'misleading attack' and said the IRS 'signed off'
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6238507/Trump-owe-400-MILLION-New-York-taxes.html
 

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President Donald Trump Attacks NYT After Alleged Tax Schemes Report | The Last Word | MSNBC
MSNBC


Published on Oct 3, 2018
Donald Trump is under pressure to release his tax returns after the New York Times revealed Trump borrowed $413 million from his father and engaged in potentially illegal schemes to avoid paying millions in taxes. Ali Velshi discusses what penalties Trump might face with Tim O'Brien and Josh Barro.
» Subscribe to MSNBC: http://on.msnbc.com/SubscribeTomsnbc
 

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'The sh*t's starting to stick': Trump boards Air Force One and waves to fans with TOILET PAPER stuck on his shoe (and Twitter can't contain itself)

  • President Donald Trump boarded Air Force One with toilet paper stuck to his foot
  • Video of his walk aboard the jet with tissue flailing behind his foot has gone viral
  • The video appears to be from Thursday evening, likely before Trump traveled to Rochester, Minnesota where he spoke at midterm campaign rally
  • Video of his strut has racked up 1.80million views as of Thursday night
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ds-Air-Force-One-TOILET-PAPER-stuck-shoe.html
 

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Trump Foundation is accused of 'persistent illegality' by New York Attorney General as state repeats call for President to be banned from running any charities for a DECADE

  • Trump foundation accused of illegally coordinating with 2016 election campaign
  • New York Attorney General called for the president to be banned from charities
  • Barbara Underwood suing Donald J Trump Foundation for breaking charity rules
  • She accuses the foundation of making illegal contribution to campaign fund
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6241931/New-York-AG-fires-salvo-Trump-Foundation.html
 

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Some crazy shit in this one.

Stormy Daniels says she described the shape of Donald Trump's penis to prove she was 'telling the truth' about alleged illicit encounter with president and denies trying to humiliate him

  • Adult film star told Newsnight intimate description was 'checkmate' for Trump
  • She said 'recounting every detail' made it 'obvious' she had sex with president
  • The actress said that the sex was consensual and was not a #MeToo moment
  • Comment comes after women used the hashtag to expose sexual predators
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ld-Trumps-penis-prove-shes-telling-truth.html
 

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President Donald Trump's winning streak


Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
5 hrs ago

Donald Trump may have never had a better time being President.

Only a re-election party on the night of November 3, 2020, could possibly offer the same vindication for America's most unconventional commander in chief as the 36 hours in which two foundational strands of his political career are combining in a sudden burst of history.

Trump will become an undeniably consequential President with the Senate due to vote Saturday to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, consecrating the conservative majority that has long been the impossible dream of the GOP.

On Friday, Trump had celebrated the best jobs data for 49 years as the unemployment rate dipped to 3.7%, offering more proof of a vibrant economy that the President says has been unshackled by his tax-reduction program and scything cuts to business regulations.

While his 2016 election campaign was most notable for swirling chaos and shattered norms, Trump's vows to nominate conservative judges to the Supreme Court and to fire up the economy were the glue for his winning coalition.

The struggle to confirm Kavanaugh split the country, deepened mistrust festering between rival lawmakers and threatens to further drag the Supreme Court into Washington's poisoned political stew. But Trump stuck with it and ground out a win.

So he has every right to return to voters in the next four weeks ahead of the midterm elections to argue he has done exactly what he said he would do. He now has a strong message to convince grass-roots Republicans that it's well worth showing up at the polls.



Testing the new message


He will get his first chance to road-test his new, improved message at a campaign rally in Topeka, Kansas, on Saturday night.

It's ironic that it was Trump, a late convert to conservatism -- not authentic Republicans like President Ronald Reagan, both Bush presidents and beaten GOP nominees Mitt Romney and John McCain -- who finally delivered the Supreme Court majority.

If he is confirmed as expected, Kavanaugh will be Trump's second nominee to reach the court in less than two years, following Neil Gorsuch.

Of course, the Supreme Court win is the culmination of decades of work by conservative activists and was masterminded by the cunning of Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell. But Presidents get credit when they are in the Oval Office when things go well and Trump, whether it is his fault or not, has taken more than his share of criticism.

Trump has so far been uncharacteristically quiet about his banner day -- perhaps to avoid any last upsets before Saturday's scheduled Senate vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation.

He did pump out two short tweets.

"Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting 'YES' to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!" he wrote.

Earlier, he had tweeted: "Just out: 3.7% Unemployment is the lowest number since 1969!"



A President of consequence


There is more evidence than the soon-to-be reshaped Supreme Court and the roaring economy to make a case that Trump is building a substantial presidency that in many ways looks like a historic pivot point, despite its extremely controversial nature.

Largely unnoticed in the Washington imbroglio over sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, the Trump administration is engineering significant changes at home and abroad that often represent sharp revisions of direction from traditional American positions.

This week, for instance, the White House initiated a potentially momentous shift in the US approach to China, recognizing the Asian giant as a global competitor and a threat to American security, prosperity and interests -- reversing decades of policy designed to manage Beijing's ascent as a major power and eventual partner.

The administration is also tightening a vise around Iran in a strategy that threatens to escalate into open confrontation with the Islamic Republic. Elsewhere in the Middle East, a bolstered anti-ISIS strategy has blasted the radical group from its strongholds in shattered Syria. And Trump has rejected decades of US orthodoxy in managing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which could have uncertain results.

Trump's bullying approach to trade negotiations has recently yielded remodeled agreements with Canada, Mexico and South Korea. While he exaggerates how much he changed existing deals, he can still boast that his "Art of the Deal" negotiating strategy -- another core component of his appeal to his supporters -- is working.

An announcement of a deeper slashing of refugee admissions by the United States further cements the "America First" philosophy that has changed global strategic assumptions.

At home, Trump's assault on regulations at agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency is accelerating, in a blitz against what Steve Bannon once called the administrative state that fulfills another long-dreamed-of goal of the conservative movement.



The case against the President


Many of Trump's perceived achievements are hugely controversial, and his opponents will argue that they stain America's image, reverse a march toward human progress and justice, and will ultimately exert a price the nation will be paying for many years to come.

And Democrats carp that Trump is only building off the far more significant economic work of his predecessor Barack Obama in the wake of the Great Recession and argue that his tax cuts sharply worsened inequality and exploded budget deficits in a way that will haunt the economy for decades.

Trump's critics say his approach to the world threatens to buckle the international system of alliances and a rule-based trading system that made America the richest and most powerful nation in US history and a beacon of democracy.

They say his presidency is in fact most notable for a culture of corruption, falsehood and demagoguery.

There is a case to be made that Trump's constant twisting of truth, invention of false political realities and strategy of tearing at the country's racial, gender and societal divides in order to capture and wield power threaten the eternal values and institutions of the nation itself.

This week, the President stood accused of tax fraud after a New York Times investigation into his family finances in the 1990s. And, though special counsel Robert Mueller has gone quiet in election season, Trump's campaign is under investigation to see whether it conspired with a foreign power to win his election.



The voters will choose


Most credible pollsters have the President at only around 40% approval, a level that is rarely conducive to successful congressional elections. Republicans are in danger of losing the House of Representatives, a scenario that could cripple Trump's White House with relentless committee investigations and even the specter of impeachment.

Often the chaos and discord the President sows distracts from more successful aspects of his presidency, and his raging temperament and insistence on waging perpetual political warfare exhaust many voters.

It will be up to voters in November and in 2020 to decide which of the two interpretations of Trump's presidency -- an era of conservative achievement or a disastrous national distraction -- becomes dominant.

But it already seems that Trump's grand design will be difficult for a future President to quickly reverse.

Less than two weeks ago, foreign diplomats at the United Nations laughed at Trump when he boasted about the historic sweep of his presidency -- and there was no doubt that he was, as usual, exaggerating.

But it's also no longer possible to credibly argue -- despite the distracting blizzard of controversy, busted decorum and staff chaos constantly lashing Washington -- that there is not something significant taking place that is changing the political and economic character of the nation itself.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/president-donald-trumps-winning-streak/ar-BBO0Rhk?ocid=ientp
 

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Suspicions that massive trove of documents behind bombshell New York Times report on Trump family tax schemes may have been leaked by the president's COUSIN

  • The New York Times published a report last week based on a cache of tax and bank documents from Donald Trump's father Fred Trump
  • The report revealed Fred's extensive efforts to steer hundreds of millions of dollars into his childrens' hands through shady business dealings
  • A Politico writer who's chronicled the Trump family for decades speculates that the documents may have been recovered from cousin John Walter
  • Walter reportedly kept boxes of Fred's financial records in his basement
  • He acted as the family's historian until his death in January of this year
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...cousin-family-historian-Times-tax-expose.html
 

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Colin Powell slams Trump as making America: ''Me the president,' as opposed to 'We the People''

  • Colin Powell had harsh words for President Donald Trump and his policies
  • The former secretary of state said Trump is not a moral leader on the world stage
  • 'My favorite three words in our Constitution is the first three words – 'We the People.' 'We the People.' But recently it's become 'me the president,' as opposed to 'We the People,' he said Sunday on CNN
  • Powell was harshly critical of Trump's immigration policies, his treatment of the press, and the way he insults people
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...-making-America-president-opposed-People.html
 

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Trump warns Democratic wave next month will 'bring us dangerously closer to socialism in America' and claims opponents will use 'Medicare for all' to turn the U.S. into Venezuela

  • President writes in USA Today op-ed that Democrats will drag the U.S. toward socialism if they win control of Congress
  • Chief complaint is proposal Democrats have branded 'Medicare for All,' a repackaged bid to establish a single-payer health care system
  • Trump claims it would eliminate private and employer-provided health insurance
  • It 'would cost an astonishing $32.6 trillion during its first 10 years,' he predicts
  • 'Democrats are also pushing massive government control of education, private-sector businesses and other major sectors of the U.S. economy'
  • Bernie Sanders says Trump 'has a very difficult time telling the truth about anything' and 'is lying about the Medicare for All proposal that I introduced'
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...-wave-bring-dangerously-closer-socialism.html
 

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Chris Cuomo: Kanye meeting is cartoonish situation
CNN


Published on Oct 11, 2018
CNN's Chris Cuomo calls out President Donald Trump's meeting with Kanye West in the midst of recovery efforts in Florida after the devastation of Hurricane Michael. #CNN #News
 

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REVEALED: Melania Trump says her husband's alleged affairs with Stormy Daniels and others are of 'no concern' to her while declaring she loves the president -and loathes Rudy Giuliani

  • The First Lady is asked about having to 'deal with her husband's alleged infidelities' and whether 'this put a strain' on their marriage
  • 'It is not a concern and focus of mine. I'm a mother and a first lady and I have much more important things to think about and to do,' she replies
  • The First Lady is not asked at any point in the interview previews if she thinks her husband had affairs with other women
  • Later in the interview, Melania expresses how much it bothered her when Rudy Giuliani said she did not believe her husband had an affair with Stormy Daniels
  • 'Being Melania – The First Lady' will air this Friday at 10pm on ABC, and the network claims that no question was off the table
  • She says that women need to show more evidence when coming forward with sexual misconduct claims in a preview that was released on Wednesday
  • The First Lady will speak about her husband's alleged infidelity and why she wore an 'I Really Don't Care Do You?' jacket to a child detention facility on Friday
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...lleged-affairs-Stormy-Daniels-no-concern.html
 

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'It's okay. In the meantime, I'm president and you're not': Trump gets contentious as CBS' Lesley Stahl challenges him on Russian meddling, Brett Kavanaugh, and his running of the White House

  • President Trump talked to '60 Minutes' for an interview that ran on Sunday
  • The 30 minute sit down covered a wide range of issues, including climate change, NATO, North Korea, Russia and Brett Kavanaugh's nomination
  • He dismissed talk Russia helped him win the 2016 presidential election
  • 'Do you really think I'd call Russia to help me with an election?' he said
  • Trump claimed if he hadn't made his speech mocking Christine Blasey Ford, then Kavanaugh would not have been confirmed to the Supreme Court
  • 'Had I not made that speech, we would not have won,' he said
  • He also said 'maybe it was The New York Times' who wrote the resistance op-ed that ran in its newspaper about his administration
  • He again criticized his Attorney General Jeff Sessions
  • He declined to pledge to not shut down special counsel Robert Mueller's probe
  • 'I don't pledge anything. But I will tell you, I have no intention of doing that,' he said of stopping the Russia investigation
  • He said of Washington D.C.: 'This is the most deceptive, vicious world'
  • He denied his White House is in chaos: 'It's wrong. It's so false. It's fake news'

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...eally-think-Id-call-Russia-help-election.html
 

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Trump tweets ego-stroke from columnist for saying he 'could be the most honest president in modern history' – but ignores writer's conclusion in The Washington Post that he 'lies all the time'

  • Donald Trump boasted Wednesday about a columnist who praised his honesty, but omitted his opinion that the president 'lies all the time'
  • American Enterprise Institute scholar Marc Thiessen delivered the half-and-half verdict in The Washington Post and on Fox News
  • President's tweeted a mishmash of a part of what Theissen and with a headline he didn't write
  • The Post's headline left out Theissen's conclusion that the 'most honest president' also takes regular liberties with the truth
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...-president-omits-writer-saying-lies-time.html
 

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Pump and Trump

Heather Vogell, ProPublica, with Andrea Bernstein and Meg Cramer, WNYC, and Peter Elkind, ProPublica
21 mins ago


Since Donald Trump’s fortunes came surging back with the success of “The Apprentice” 14 years ago, his deals have often been scrutinized for the large number of his partners who have ventured to the very edges of the law, and sometimes beyond. Those associates have included accused money launderers, alleged funders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and a felon who slashed someone in the face with a broken margarita glass.

Trump and his company have typically countered by saying they were merely licensing his name on these real estate projects in exchange for a fee. They weren’t the developers or in any way responsible.

But an eight-month investigation by ProPublica and WNYC reveals that the post-millennium Trump business model is different from what has been previously reported. The Trumps were typically way more than mere licensors or bystanders in their often-troubled deals. They were deeply involved in these projects. They helped mislead investors and buyers — and they profited handsomely from it.

Patterns of deceptive practices occurred in a dozen deals across the globe, as the business expanded into international projects, and the Trumps often participated. One common pattern, visible in more than half of those transactions, was a tendency to misstate key sales numbers.

In interviews and press conferences, Ivanka Trump gave false sales figures for projects in Mexico’s Baja California; Panama City, Panama; Toronto and New York’s SoHo neighborhood. These statements weren’t just the legendary Trump hype; they misled potential buyers about the viability of the developments.

Another pattern: Donald Trump repeatedly misled buyers about the amount (or existence) of his ownership in projects in Tampa, Florida; Panama; Baja and elsewhere. For a tower planned in Tampa, for example, Trump told a local paper in 2005 that his ownership would be less than 50 percent: “But it’s a substantial stake. I recently said I’d like to increase my stake but when they’re selling that well they don’t let you do that.” In reality, Trump had no ownership stake in the project.

The Trumps often made money even when projects failed. And when they tanked, the Trumps simply ignored their prior claims of close involvement, denied any responsibility and walked away.

The cycle is exemplified in Panama City, where the Trumps were involved in a project to build a massive tower and complex known as the Trump Ocean Club. The project’s unfortunate turns included bankruptcy, then, years later, the forcible ejection of the Trump Organization from managing the hotel.

There, as elsewhere, the Trump Organization disclaimed responsibility. It emphasized that it had merely licensed the Trump name to developers who handled everything from construction to marketing. “The Trump Organization was not the owner, developer or seller of the Trump Ocean Club Panama project,” it said in a statement last year. “Because of its limited role, the company was not responsible for the financing of the project and had no involvement in the sale of units.”

That was false. For starters, Trump arranged financing — his promised commission: $2.2 million or more — by bringing in investment bank Bear Stearns, which issued the bonds that paid for the Panama project’s construction.

Trump touted himself as a “partner” of the developer. His daughter Ivanka briefly boasted that she had personally sold 40 units. (A broker on the project said he couldn’t remember her selling even one.) Meanwhile, Ivanka told a journalist at the time that “over 90 percent” of the Panama units had sold — and at prices five times as high as comparable buildings. Both statements were untrue.

Not only were the Panama sales figures inflated, but many “purchases” turned out to be an illusion. That was no coincidence. The building’s financing depended on obtaining advance commitments from buyers, often before concrete had started pouring. But in between the sale of the bonds in 2007 and 2013, the year the building went bankrupt, buyers of 458 units in the 1,000-unit building abandoned their purchase contracts. Those buyers forfeited more than $50 million in deposits, and they never took possession of finished units. Given that the “buyers” were often shadowy shell companies or other paper entities, it was nearly impossible to discern who the actual purchasers were, let alone why they backed out.

Trump licensed his name for an initial fee of $1 million. But that was just the beginning of the revenue streams, a lengthy and varied assortment that granted him a piece of everything from sales of apartment units to a cut of minibar sales, and was notable for the myriad ways in which both success and failure triggered payments to him.

Consider the final accounting: In the wake of the project’s bankruptcy, a 50 percent default rate and his company’s expulsion from managing the hotel, Donald Trump walked away with between $30 million and $55 million.

The Trump Organization did not respond to a long list of questions about its transactions. The White House didn’t have a comment.

Trump’s licensing strategy originated with his early-2000s comeback, as “The Apprentice” propelled him to international TV stardom and restored luster to a reputation tarnished by multiple bankruptcies. As Trump put it in one promotional video during that period, “When the first season of ‘The Apprentice’ finally finished shooting, I was able to get back to my core business, real estate, and I’ve made some really incredible deals.” That strategy is still playing out today. The Trump Organization, which pledged not to launch new projects during the Trump presidency, is aggressively pursuing existing ones, including in the Dominican Republic, Indonesia and India.

Some long-assumed beliefs about Trump are being re-investigated, with surprising results. This month, The New York Times published a 13,000-word examination of how Donald’s father, the late Fred Trump, and his estate, funneled millions of dollars to his children, in possible violation of tax rules and criminal laws. With copious documentation showing that Fred directed $413 million in today’s dollars to Donald — not the single loan for $1 million, with interest, that Donald has always claimed — it exploded Trump’s long-propagated claim that he is a self-made man.

This article examines another Trump claim: that his post-millennium comeback and global expansion rested on the brilliant purity of a licensing strategy that paid him millions simply for the use of his name. That, it turns out, is no truer than the notion that Donald Trump is self-made.

'Development Wasn’t Our Big Forte'

A Lebanese importer-exporter with expertise in the apparel industry seemed an unlikely choice as a partner for one of Donald Trump’s first international forays. Yet that’s precisely who Trump would team with to embark on a wildly ambitious construction project in a distant Central American location.

Roger Khafif divided his time between Panama, where he had become a citizen, and South Florida. He was a slick dresser who made big promises and exuded an intensity that could be viewed either as determination or stubbornness, according to people who did business with him. He had worked in the Panama Canal free-trade zone as an importer-exporter of clothing and had recently begun dabbling in real estate, documents show, via ownership interests in two Panamanian beach resorts. “Development wasn’t our big forte,” Khafif acknowledged in an interview with ProPublica.

If Khafif seemed an implausible partner, Panama seemed an odd location for a project that would become a template of sorts for Trump’s international licensing deals. The country was better known as a cog in the Latin American drug trade than as a tourist destination. It was a place to turn illegal profits into useable cash. Money laundering helped fuel the proliferation of high-rises that gave Panama City its sleek, ultramodern skyline.

The deal came together fast, according to Khafif. To get to Trump, he said, an associate put him in touch with a business partner of Marvin Traub, the Trump friend and former Bloomingdale’s CEO who had also brokered Trump Vodka. Traub’s consultancy got Khafif on Trump’s schedule. (Traub’s firm later sought almost $1.3 million for matchmaking, court documents show.)

“We had a quick meeting,” Khafif recalled of his first encounter with Trump in New York in 2005. “Then I left. I went down to Miami, got a call the next day from Donald Trump saying they were interested in the project.” Khafif was so surprised he didn’t at first believe he was talking to Trump.

Trump signed on to Khafif’s plan and decided to bestow the leading role in the project, at least as far as the Trump Organization went, on his daughter Ivanka, Khafif told Reuters. Just entering her mid-20s, she was leading a major deal for the first time. Ivanka traveled to Panama shortly after, and the agreement coalesced quickly.

Khafif’s dream was audacious and grandiose. The planned complex, Ivanka claimed in a promotional video, would amass the largest square footage of any construction in all of the Americas. Fully Trumpian in its luxury and excess, the plan would call for a 69-story sail-shaped building with 1,000 condos and hotel-condo units, offices, a casino, spa, private beach, pool deck and yacht club. (When viewed from Panama Bay, the resulting edifice would look less like a sail and more like a giant lemon wedge perched on a square base.)

One Monday in April 2006 in the marble atrium at Trump Tower in Manhattan, Khafif stood in a well-cut dark suit and pale pink tie beside Trump, Ivanka and Donald Jr. to announce plans for the Trump Ocean Club’s birth. “I really think the time for Panama has come,” Trump proclaimed.

Trump left multiple observers with the impression that he had an equity stake in the deal. “He said the Trump organization does have a financial interest in the project but he would not disclose the amount,” reported a newsletter circulated to clients and associates, alerting them to news and investment opportunities, by the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which would later become publicly known for sheltering wealth in offshore accounts.

Marketing materials for the Panama project also implied that Trump was functioning as a developer. “I am honored to develop this extraordinary high rise with my partner Roger Khafif of the K Group,” Trump was quoted as saying in one promotional statement. Buyers believed the Trumps and their company were functioning as the project’s developers, in partnership with Khafif, according to a lawsuit later filed by dozens of buyers.

But Trump did not have a penny of equity in the development, according to records of the bond sale and bankruptcy. Nor was he the actual developer, as the Trump Organization’s own statement confirmed.

In Panama and elsewhere, Trump’s projects depended on outsiders’ willingness to invest. Trump claimed at the time that banks were “fighting to put up money” for the building. But there’s no evidence that was the case. His five casino and hotel bankruptcies meant financial institutions tended to shy away, and Khafif’s lack of building experience made him a risky financing prospect. (Khafif ultimately brought on the principals of a Colombian construction and design firm to deliver the necessary know-how.)

Still, Trump had a card to play without which the tower would likely never have been built: his two-decade relationship with Bear Stearns. The investment bank agreed to underwrite a $220 million bond issue. Bear Stearns and Trump had worked together on a variety of endeavors. For example, two years earlier he and a Bear Stearns executive, Trump’s investment banking adviser, had launched Trump University, a non-accredited business education program that purported to teach his real estate strategies. (It later collapsed among accusations of fraud. Trump paid $25 million to settle a suit but denied wrongdoing.) And as far back as 1988, Trump paid a $750,000 civil judgment to the U.S. Department of Justice for having Bear Stearns make purchases of casino stocks in the bank’s name rather than in his. (Trump was looking to buy casinos at the time, and the Justice Department asserted that the concealed purchases violated antitrust laws.)

As the bond underwriter in the Panama project, Bear Stearns played a dual role: It raised money for construction and also vouched for the soundness of the bonds it would sell. The bank was supposed to be checking that information disclosed to investors was accurate and provided a complete picture of the investment’s strengths and weaknesses.

In reality, however, “the bank had significant lapses in exercising due diligence over their bond offerings” during that period, according to Gary Aguirre, an attorney and former SEC senior counsel who advocated for more accountability of Bear Stearns and other Wall Street banks involved in the financial crisis and said he researched Bear Stearns as part of that process. The bank, including a member of its Latin America group (which was involved in the Panama deal), faced multiple investigations by regulators into whether its employees in Miami and New York had improperly valued financial instruments, though they did not lead to charges, SEC records and media reports show.

The bond sale barely squeaked through in November 2007. Tremors of what would become a global financial earthquake were already destabilizing markets. At the last minute, Bear Stearns postponed the offering only to reverse course a few days later. “I remember walking up Fifth Avenue and I put my arm around Roger [Khafif],” said Jack Studnicky, a lead real estate agent for the project, “and I said, ‘You are the luckiest SOB I ever met.’” This project, branded with the name of a longtime Bear Stearns client, was the only bond issue among eight at Bear Stearns at that moment that moved forward.

Many investors turned up their noses at the bonds, even though Bear Stearns representatives had traveled to New York City, Miami and London to talk up the deal. Part of what drove some blue-chip corporate investors away was obvious: The bonds for the Panama project were rated “speculative” — “junk” in Wall Street parlance — reflecting what rating agencies viewed as an elevated chance of default. More risk-tolerant, and more anonymous, hedge funds and money managers proliferated among the bond buyers, making up 80 percent of initial investors.

Within months of the offering, it became clear that the Trump Ocean Club would outlive its financial backer. Bear Stearns crumpled suddenly in March 2008 as creditors pounced on the heavily indebted institution. Less than six months after it delivered the money to construct the tower, Bear Stearns disappeared into the belly of J.P. Morgan Chase.

'We Needed Those Extra Sales'

Trump’s connections landed financing for the Panama project, but they could take the deal only so far. The $220 million in bond proceeds wouldn’t have started flowing if Khafif’s team hadn’t satisfied a key prerequisite: Racking up “presales,” the term for purchase contracts signed while the building was under construction (and in many cases, before construction had even begun).

Buyers promised to make a down payment of 30 percent, spread over four installments, and to eventually pay in full. These binding pledges served as collateral for the bond, a crucial source of value that bondholders could seize if the developers failed to pay back what they owed.

Khafif and a cadre of brokers set out to move units, with what appeared to be dramatic success at first. The year Trump joined the project, 2006, the developers reported signing a whopping 585 presales contracts with prospective buyers (nearly 60 percent of the units in the building). The Moody’s credit-rating service cited the project’s rapid sales as a “positive credit characteristic.”

But the project scrambled to nail enough contracts to fulfill the bank’s requirements, according to Studnicky, who worked for the project’s master brokers, International Sales Group (ISG). Over a meal in a Spanish restaurant in New York City, Khafif told Studnicky he needed “another 100 sales to make it valid” — scribbling numbers on the paper tablecloth, according to Studnicky. “It wasn’t fully collateralized, and we needed those extra sales,” he said.

ISG leaned on its agents. “We knew there was a presale requirement in order to trigger the bond issue,” said Jeff Barton, another broker who worked at ISG at the time. “So there was definitely pressure.”

In dealing with potential buyers, the ISG brokers communicated urgency of a much different sort: They acted as if the building were running out of units. The prices were in constant flux, keeping potential buyers off-balance. “You could never really get a straight answer in terms of what was actually available, what had actually sold and what the real price was,” said Kent Davis, who began looking to sell Ocean Club inventory soon after opening his own real estate company in Panama City in 2007. (One buyer echoed Davis’ comments. “When I invested it was ‘Oh wow, it’s almost sold out!’” said Al Monstavicius, a retired doctor who bought into the Panama tower. “I was told the units were selling real well. Well, they weren’t selling real well.”) ISG did not return messages seeking comment.

Davis said he sold a few units, splitting the commission with ISG. “I think some of their projections were exaggerated. I think the way they described how the project would ultimately be built did not come to fruition,” he said. “I think they were overpromising and, to be honest, at times I was complacent.”

Just as Trump took millions upfront, financial incentives in the project were stacked to reward brokers for quick presales — rather than slow and steady contracts perhaps more likely to close once construction finished.

Commissions were front-loaded to an unusual degree, Davis said. Agents making the earliest sales would receive 90 percent of their expected commissions by the time construction started, according to Barton. Only the final 10 percent was held back until closing, when the buyer had paid in full and the unit was ready to be occupied. (Davis said that brokers typically get commissions in increments in line with the percentage their clients have put in.)

Even as brokers were taking cash out quickly, buyers were given time to put their money in. They anted up just 10 percent upon signing a purchase contract, according to the bond prospectus. They paid the remaining 20 percent in increments over the year after that.

Khafif complained of soaring construction costs and raised prices even as brokers hustled for contracts, Studnicky said. “I kept saying I understand the problem, but if you keep pushing the prices up, people are never going to be able to close on these things,” he said.

The higher prices climbed, the more the Trumps stood to pocket. Their licensing agreement gave them a base fee of 4 percent of gross sales when units closed. (This was on top of the $1 million Trump was given in advance for the use of his name.) They also received an “incentive fee”: the higher the price rose above benchmarks, the greater a proportion the Trumps earned, records show. A hotel-condominium unit that sold for $385,000, for example, would produce a payment of $20,650 — just over 5 percent — to Trump’s company.

That was just the beginning. Along with the cut of sales, Trump’s 2006 licensing agreement provided the family other cash streams from the Panama project. The Trumps could take a 20 percent commission on construction costs if money was saved through Trump dealmaking, for instance. Once the hotel opened, they would pocket 17.5 percent of what hotel guests paid for their rooms, including what they spent on minibar items, internet service and even bathrobes; 4 percent for parking unit sales; and 12 percent of commercial space rentals. The Trump Organization would also receive 4 percent of the hotel’s gross revenue for managing it, plus an incentive fee equal to a fifth of the hotel’s net operating income.

If everything went smoothly, according to the bond prospectus, Trump’s take would be $74 million by 2010. That sum was equivalent to about a third of the entire financing for the project.

Of course, things would go less than perfectly. But Trump was protected if that happened, too. His contract created a safety net for him if prices rose so high that buyers failed to close. One provision required that two years after the first closing, developers would pay the Trumps fees for unsold units — basing the amount on the average sales prices of the units that had closed. In theory, avoiding such payments provided an incentive to sell more units; in reality, it meant that Trump would get paid whether or not units actually sold.

The contract required that monthly sales and marketing reports be provided to the Trumps. It was a stipulation the Trump Organization appeared to value: In an email related to another project, Trump’s son Eric chastised business partners in the Dominican Republic for delays in making such reports. “I am getting weekly emails from my team who requests this info on all projects for basic monitoring purposes,” Eric wrote.

His sister, meanwhile, asserted her engagement with the company’s endeavors. “I’m involved in every aspect of our new construction projects,” Ivanka said in a 2008 interview. “[A] lot of what I do is get involved in the acquisition process, from sourcing the potential opportunities and then the initial due-diligence process, but then, of course, I follow the deals through to predevelopment planning, design, interior design, architectural design, sales and marketing, and, ultimately, through operations.”

'Our Biggest Problem Is Not Having Enough Inventory'

Construction on the Trump Ocean Club had begun in May 2007, with customer deposits, investor money and a bridge loan tiding the developers over until the sale of bonds in November 2007. To hear the Trumps tell it, the project was a raging and immediate success, even in the face of a historic global financial and real estate crisis that erupted in 2008 and continued into 2009 and beyond.

At times, the hyperbole crossed over into misrepresentation. In a November 2008 interview, Ivanka Trump bragged that she had “sold 40 units in Panama last month.” She added that “it’s a 1,000-unit building, we’ve sold over 90 percent of it.” The units, she said, had been going at a “500 percent premium to anything the luxury market has ever experienced prior to our entry.”

All of that was exaggerated or outright false. When pressed by her interviewer about what she meant by “I sold 40 units,” Ivanka backed off, saying, “We did, our project,” a transcript of the interview shows. Studnicky, who was deeply involved with Ocean Club sales at the time and generally praised the Trumps, said Ivanka didn’t sell any units that he knew of.

Three months after Ivanka’s comments were published, Moody’s reported that 79 percent of the building’s units were under purchase contracts. The Trump name did carry a premium, according to data filed with Panamanian securities officials. But even at its high point, it amounted to about 130 percent of what similar luxury properties fetched, not the 500 percent Ivanka claimed.

Meanwhile, the Trumps used some of their glamour to encourage sales. Donald Trump himself hosted a gala for the Panama project at Mar-a-Lago where celebrity Regis Philbin dropped in.

But difficulties were mounting and cash was tight. By 2009, some buyers were offered hefty discounts if they agreed to pay the full purchase price up front. (Monstavicius says he accepted such an offer, shaving $100,000 off his nearly half-million-dollar penthouse suite.)

Ratings for the Ocean Club’s bonds were lowered in February 2009, but you wouldn’t have known that by listening to the Trumps. A few weeks after the downgrade, Ivanka gushed about Panama in an interview with a publication called the Latin Business Chronicle. “Given the global downturn, the fact that sales remain so robust is a testament to the product, the brand and Panama,” she said. “Our biggest problem is not having enough inventory. We only have a small percent of the building left.”

The following year brought more trouble. There was another bond downgrade. One of the services that reduced its rating, Fitch, expressed concerns about the market and buyers’ “willingness and ability to close on units upon delivery.”

The developers faced a $27 million construction shortfall and delays by subcontractors performing services such as millwork. Khafif and his team trimmed back some of their plans, which only irked buyers who had already committed their money. For example, buyers said square footage for some units was reduced. The location for a planned beach club was moved to a more distant spot with less cachet. And plans to have Trump manage the casino were abandoned.

The issuing of the bonds hadn’t relieved pressure on the Ocean Club to move units. The developers needed to keep sales commitments and cash high or they risked defaulting on the bonds. By 2010, 25 contracts appeared in jeopardy as buyers missed payments toward their deposits.

Facing pressure from multiple sides, the developers sought bondholders’ permission to make key changes to their agreement. They proposed relaxing the requirements for collateral and reducing the amount of cash they had to keep in a deposit account. In a company statement quoted in the press at the time, Newland International Properties (the entity formed by Khafif and the outside developers he partnered with) was blunt about its need: “The company believes that the proposed amendments are necessary to allow the company to continue construction.”

'Nobody Ever Asked Where These Sales Were Coming From'

From the beginning, the plan at the Trump Ocean Club was to draw a luxury-seeking international clientele with disposable income. With some 1,000 units to sell, brokers tapped networks of upper-crust buyers across the globe. In doing so, they netted purchasers with problematic pasts, including some with ties to organized crime and money laundering operations.

ISG representatives and independent brokers fanned out to Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Dubai, China and South Africa, as well as other Latin American countries. As of mid-2007, roughly 60 percent of buyers came from outside the United States, bond documents show. (Much has been made of Trump’s buyers of Russian nationality or extraction, but the Panama sales were not tracked by nationality. Still, some were found in Moscow and, Khafif said, in developments in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida — an area known as “Little Moscow.”)

Several aspects of the Panama sales raised red flags, according to experts. For example, some buyers bought blocks of units. Purchases were typically made anonymously through shell corporations registered in Panama. That allowed some buyers to change the ownership of the unit in secret, simply by changing the ownership of the company. They often used so-called bearer shares, allowing a stake in a company to be transferred simply by passing a piece of paper.

“Nobody ever asked where these sales were coming from, where the money was coming from,” said Studnicky, adding that this wasn’t unusual for such a building at the time.

The purchase of multiple units and the use of bearer shares or shell companies are not illegal in themselves. But they can be hallmarks of money laundering, according to experts. “We have no idea of the people behind those companies,” said Eryn Schornick, a policy adviser for Global Witness, an international anti-corruption organization. The Panama deal, she said, bore signs of “classic money laundering.”

Meanwhile, multiple buyers claimed they were promised quick profits through flips arranged by the developers, promises they say were not fulfilled. Some of those allegations began emerging in litigation even before the Trump Ocean Club opened.

In late 2010, a group of buyers accused Trump, the Trump Organization, Khafif and Newland, Khafif’s development operation, of misleading them, according to a previously unreported lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Florida. There were 37 plaintiffs, led by an independent broker, Greg Landau. The group — including South Florida residents, a family in Brooklyn, a Massachusetts psychiatrist, a New York fashion mogul and several Russians — had bought 42 Ocean Club condominiums between 2006 and 2009.

The group alleged that Khafif had offered them a sweet enticement: If they put 30 percent down, either the developer or the Trump Organization would finance the rest. Khafif, plaintiffs claimed, said Newland or the Trump Organization would manage the investment — finding new buyers so they could flip it for a big profit before construction was finished and they had to close on the property.

The deal soured after some of the Ocean Club plans were trimmed (including, as noted, reducing the size of units). Buyers discovered there was no developer financing, and no buyers lined up to flip to. They went to court.

Trump had “stood by silently as Khafif made the misrepresentations” in a meeting at Mar-a-Lago in 2007 aimed at attracting investors and encouraging current investors to increase their deposits, the lawsuit claimed. It also cited the marketing materials in which Trump called Khafif his “partner.” “The Trump Organization knew these representations were being made by Khafif to Landau and of the fact that Landau was expected to repeat them to other potential investors,” it alleged. “Defendants Khafif, Donald Trump, and the Trump Organization were culpable participants in the fraudulent scheme.”

In an interview with ProPublica, one of those buyers described what he had expected to happen. “There was an agreement that when the hotel is built, when the building is ready, we’ll sell our apartments, our shares, and quit the project,” said Victor Masaltsev, an internet entrepreneur who lives in Moscow and invested in the Ocean Club through a Panamanian shell company that became a plaintiff in the Landau suit against Trump. Masaltsev said he was invited to visit Mar-a-Lago for an event with Trump celebrating the project, but he couldn’t make the trip.

“I’ve been doing business for a long time and, you know, there’s never a 100 percent guarantee,” he said through a translator. “But I was expecting to make no less than 50 percent profit on my money.” Instead, he said, he lost his deposit.

In their legal papers, the Trump Organization and Newland asserted that the complaint was “completely devoid of facts sufficient to show that Donald Trump and The Trump Organization were conducting the affairs of a ‘fraudulent scheme.’”

Khafif called the lawsuit a case of “buyers’ remorse, of course.” There were “a million” such lawsuits when the financial crisis came, he added. “They tried to invent anything in order to get their money back. It wasn’t our fault.”

A U.S. judge ordered the case be moved to Panamanian courts, but the parties reached a confidential settlement before that happened. Other plaintiffs, reached by ProPublica, have a surprising take on the dispute today. Three of them echoed Khafif and said the project was simply a bad investment. “It’s nothing to do with Trump,” said David Feldman, speaking outside his Brooklyn duplex. He said he did not receive any money in the settlement and added that he thought Trump was hurt by the deal, too, before declining to talk further. Landau did not respond to requests for comment, nor did Roderick Coleman, the attorney named on the lawsuit pleadings.

Landau’s group wasn’t the only one to claim it was sold on an unfulfilled promise of easy flipping. One buyer from Dubai made similar claims, according to emails in the Panama Papers, a collection of documents leaked from Mossack Fonseca and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. “The concept was pay the deposit and they would get it resold before completion,” a representative for the buyer wrote to a lawyer in Panama. “[T]he apartment was going to be resold for them by the agents that came from Panama to Dubai for Marketing the project.” Khafif called it another case of buyer’s remorse.

'Our Project Was the Cleanest One of Them All'

Unfulfilled promises weren’t the only questionable behavior alleged at the Trump Ocean Club. For example, one high-selling broker, Alexandre Ventura Nogueira, was linked to money laundering by Global Witness and a joint Reuters-NBC investigation. Nogueira confirmed in that article that some of his partners and investors on the Trump Panama project had connections to the Russian mafia. (He asserted that he had discovered those connections only after the fact.) Among the buyers Nogueira landed was a Colombian businessman who was subsequently convicted in the United States of conspiring to launder drug money.

Khafif told ProPublica that he hired Nogueira because he was one of the highest-profile brokers in Panama City at the time. “That guy was very famous,” Khafif said. “We ended up suing him because he swindled the clients.” Nogueira, who was also accused of selling the same units to more than one buyer at the same time, fled Panama and described himself in the Reuters article as a “fugitive.” (He denied in that story, but could not be reached for comment for this article.)

The Trump Organization denied the family knew Nogueira. But photos were published of Ivanka and her father smiling with an arm around Nogueira at events at Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago.

Project developers also seem to have made dubious presales themselves — and profitable ones at that — according to emails between bondholders and Newland obtained by ProPublica.

Newland shareholders purchased some of the building’s units at below-market prices with down payments of just 5 percent. “I have never seen 8-10 percent of a 996 unit project reserved by the developers at prices as much as 70 percent less than list price (with just a 5% deposit),” asserted one email from Gary Lundgren, who now owns a sizable part of the building, to others in the project. The purchases were “not disclosed in the Bear Stearns’s bond offering circular, not disclosed in the quarterly financial disclosure, not disclosed in the annual audited financial statements,” he complained.

Newland acquired some of the units by taking over ones that were in danger of default, Lundgren stated in the email, with the developers kicking in the 5 percent needed for the units to continue being counted as collateral under the bond terms. The developers resold some of the properties at higher prices, Lundgren’s email asserted, and they pocketed the difference. These resales effectively cut out bondholders from their share of the proceeds. His emails to Newland did not mention the Trumps. (In 2016, Lundgren was barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority from acting as a broker after he failed to respond to an information request. His filings asserted that the complaint against him, filed by someone who was not his customer, was without merit, and that Panamanian law prevented him from disclosing the records.)

The insider purchases potentially violated the terms of the project’s financing. The bond prospectus required down payments of at least 30 percent, which would “protect the economics of our project.” Since sweetheart deals generated less cash — which meant less collateral for the bonds — a provision of the bond agreement restricted sales made to affiliates of the developers. And if buyers stopped making payments, they were supposed to go through a default process rather than have Newland take over their purchase.

“The developers made bad judgment calls, and they justified it by their support for the project,” said Alfredo “Dino” de Angelis, of Gapstone, which advised Newland in the bankruptcy. Ultimately, he said, the developers added money to stabilize the project, enough to equal or exceed what they appear to have made by re-selling units.

Khafif said that bondholders looked into the questions and “found everything was 100 percent by the book.” He said developers didn’t need to buy units and followed the rules in the bond indenture. Khafif insisted that he conducted business the right way. “Our project was the cleanest one of them all,” he said. “We had to watch out for Trump, we had to watch out for bondholders. We had to work within the indenture, or else we’d be screwed.”

'Replete With Misrepresentations'

Ivanka Trump’s exaggerations about the Ocean Club reflected a tactic she and her father employed repeatedly in other cases, ProPublica and WNYC found. Their statements, typically made in the midst of sales drives, tended to overstate the number of units under contract or the Trump Organization’s equity stake in projects scattered around the globe.

The Trumps’ propensity to overstate sales led them, as ProPublica, WNYC and the New Yorker reported last year, to be investigated on potential felony fraud charges in one case. Ivanka had announced in June 2008 that 60 percent of the units at the SoHo tower had been bought when in fact 15 percent had, according to an affidavit filed by a Trump partner. The Manhattan district attorney’s office considered charging the Trumps but backed off after a visit from a donor — Trump’s attorney Marc Kasowitz. (The DA, Cyrus Vance, denied he was influenced by the donation but later changed his policy and now refuses donations from lawyers with cases before him.)

Similar deceptions occurred elsewhere. In a marketing video for a project in Baja, Mexico, Ivanka referred to Trump International Hotel in Toronto as one of several “sold out” properties. The Toronto tower never did sell out. It was still three-quarters empty late last year, a few months after Trump’s name was removed from the building.

Trump himself also made misrepresentations. In 2006, he said the Trump Organization would be a significant equity investor in the $200 million Baja project and repeatedly portrayed himself as the project’s developer. Yet in 2008, the company admitted it was neither a developer nor an investor.

In Tampa, as noted, Trump told the press he had a significant ownership stake when he had none. Moreover, his licensing agreement contained a confidentiality provision barring “under any circumstances” that anyone reveal the agreement existed, and hence that Trump was only licensing his name. The deal never got financing and ultimately fell apart.

Panama also wasn’t the only project where questions emerged about insider deals. In Tampa, Donald Trump Jr. and three executives associated with the Trump Organization arranged to buy a unit under unusually attractive terms, according to emails between the executives and the developer. As early sales on the project surged, the Trump group — which formed a company called Busy Boys Investments to handle the purchase — bargained both for a discount price and a smaller deposit than other buyers paid.

“Can you confirm the deal?” asked Russell Flicker, a former Trump Organization executive vice president, in a late-2004 email to one of the Tampa developers. “(We had discussed 5% down payment, discounted price and flip rights prior to closing — are all of these on the table?) You’re the man.” The developer replied, “The deal is as you state!”

The Trump group also discussed backdating documents to reduce their tax liability, according to the emails. They excitedly anticipated a quick flip that would yield a $200,000 profit — $50,000 apiece, a handsome return on the $8,604 deposit each paid. (The emails were revealed in a court case filed by unhappy buyers; their suit ultimately settled, with the buyers receiving limited refunds of their deposits.) In January 2005, Flicker forwarded an email conveying the prospect of such a windfall to his partners in the side deal: Donald Jr. and Trump Organization executive vice presidents Bernie Diamond and Jason Greenblatt, with the message: “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

In a July 2005 email, Diamond, an attorney, explained to the others that the developer told him he would prepare a unit purchase contract “for Busy Boys to sign dated in 2004,” as well as an assignment of their contract to the proposed buyer, also “dated one year earlier.” Diamond noted,

“This is good, as it will give us the best shot at capital gains treatment.” (The Tampa tower was never constructed, so the Busy Boys entity did not ultimately cash in. On behalf of Greenblatt, who is now a special representative for international negotiations in the Trump administration, a White House official said “Mr. Greenblatt complied with all applicable laws in connection with condominium purchase agreements.”)

In Baja, Ivanka tried to leverage her own unit purchase to pull in other buyers. “I personally am very excited about it, I actually chose to purchase a unit in the first tower,” she said in a promotional video as she flashed a smile. She did not mention that the deposit she paid was less than half of the 30 percent other investors put in for their units, according to Univision. Univision also reported that the developers overstated the percentage of units sold and had assigned 34 units to their own executives and other related parties.

Written materials became a matter of contention, as well; multiple buyers contended they were misleading. Trump had some say over such materials: Projects including Baja, Tampa, the Dominican Republic, Israel and Panama all required developers and other partners to obtain prior approval from Trump’s company before posting press releases. In some cases, the company had veto power over promotional materials in general, as well.

There were other deceptions. In marketing materials featuring a grinning image of the New York developer, potential buyers in a Trump-branded project in Toronto were shown investment projections that proved wildly optimistic, according to interviews and records from the extensive litigation that ensued. A Canadian appeals court, ruling after the Toronto deal went sour, unanimously found that estimates of profitability provided to purchasers “bore no relation to financial reality.” The panel quoted a trial judge’s findings that the projections were “deceptive” and “replete with misrepresentations of commission, of omission, and of half-truth.” (The case is still pending.)

In Chicago, Trump promised discounts — some with down payments of as little as 5 percent — to friends and colleagues, only to rescind those arrangements when sales in the building picked up. Trump justified the broken promises, saying “we’re entitled” to the higher prices.

Buyers who sued Trump have had mixed success. Most suits settled before trial, but Trump prevailed in cases in Las Vegas and Florida in which buyers accused his company of deception.

The 'Stormy Jack Daniels'

The Trump Ocean Club in Panama was officially inaugurated on July 6, 2011. It was nearly a year behind schedule after cost overruns and construction delays. The Trumps had been more visible again during the final stages. Ivanka picked out design finishes, including helping deck out the “sky lobby” on the 15th floor with wood paneling, pillars and marble that echoed the ground floor entrance hall. The lobby’s “tropical color palette” was “reminiscent of indigenous flowers,” Ivanka said in one promotional video.

July falls during Panama’s rainy season and a downpour swamped the city’s already-overwhelmed infrastructure on the day of the opening, turning the cramped roads near the tower into waterways. Trump had angered many Panamanians by declaring that the U.S. had “stupidly” turned over the Panama Canal “in exchange for nothing.” But the country’s then-president, Ricardo Martinelli, turned up for the ceremony nonetheless. He joined Trump, his two adult sons, Khafif, and other dignitaries to cut a ribbon to mark the opening. Ivanka, days away from giving birth to her first child, did not attend. (In June 2018, Martinelli was extradited on corruption charges, unrelated to the Trump project, from the U.S., where he had fled in search of sanctuary. He has denied wrongdoing.)

Trump was upbeat. “I think this hotel is truly magnificent,” he said, according to press reports. “You look at Panama’s skyline and you see how this one truly stands out.”

The time had come for the hundreds of sales contracts that brokers had amassed over the previous five years — eventually covering about 85 percent of the building — to convert to actual sales. In the months that followed, however, it became increasingly clear that buyers were walking away in droves.

Ultimately, only about half the sales contracts closed, leaving the building largely empty and developers struggling to make bond-related payments. One-bedroom units that once sold for $350,000 could be scooped up for $180,000. In November 2011, developers defaulted on a critical bond payment.

The volume of people who abandoned their deposits far exceeded the ratings agencies’ worst-case predictions. Those predictions rested on the forbidding combination of tight post-crisis financing standards and the high prices that many buyers had agreed to pay. That strongly suggests that many of the remaining people who paid deposits and then vanished may not have intended to do anything more than put down enough cash to trigger the $220 million bond issuance.

Newland declared bankruptcy in April 2013 in federal court in New York City, where it kept much of its cash. The Trumps agreed to reduce their fees, making concessions that bankruptcy records said would amount to $20 million over a period of years.

Even after those concessions, Khafif’s company continued to run in the red in 2014 and 2015, with net losses nearing $28 million in 2014 alone, financial reports show. It missed another payment in 2015.

So Trump didn’t make the $74 million he had hoped for. He appears to have walked away with between $30 million and $55 million, based on fragmentary information in his government disclosure forms, financial statements filed in Panama and estimates by observers.

Khafif seems philosophical about it. At 63, he’s semiretired and travels to the U.S. and Europe often. These days, he said, his main business is laundering linens. The company, Perfect Cleaners, which Khafif called the largest industrial laundry plant in Central America, has served the Trump Ocean Club. (He did not respond to a question about his own financial outcome on the Trump project.)

Khafif said his relationship with the family remains good. “I was in New York a couple months ago. I went to visit Eric Trump,” he said. “We’re fine.” The Ocean Club proved a disappointment in many respects, he said, “but life goes on. … It’s the best building in town.”

As much as $120 million of the original bond was never paid back, according to one investor. Asked about that, Khafif pointed out that many investors sold their bonds — albeit at a discount — after receiving interest payments for years, allowing some to recoup much of their investment at a time when lots of people were hemorrhaging money. “It depends on how you look at it,” Khafif said. “You’re grateful at getting your money back, or you’re greedy and you want to make money when everybody lost their shirt.”

Ocean Club buyers filed a host of lawsuits in Panama, complaining of the delays and changes in the building plans. The beach club was never built. A non-Trump company took over the casino. Some rooms were smaller than planned.

By 2015, a new revolt was brewing, this time by Ocean Club unit owners fed up with the way the Trumps were managing the property — or more particularly, with how they were spending the building association’s money. Led by Lundgren, the owners alleged that Trump employees overspent budgets, taking excessive bonuses for themselves, and mishandled building finances, leading them to propose a steep increase in fees to owners. Trump responded by suing the condo owners, demanding up to $75 million for wrongful termination. (The litigation was settled confidentially in 2016.)

In 2017, Ithaca Capital Partners, led by Orestes Fintiklis, bought 202 of the hotel’s 369 hotel-condo units. In October of last year, his group sought to remove the Trump Organization as hotel managers — alleging in a legal action that it had mismanaged the hotel, leading to drastic drop-offs in occupancy and profits. The Trump Organization countersued, accusing Fintiklis of a “fraudulent scheme” that breached its 20-year management contract.

The dispute reached a head early this year, when Fintiklis’ representatives, with a court order behind them, sought to take physical control of the building. Trump Organization employees and a group of security personnel tried to block the effort, leading to confrontations and shoving matches.

Fintiklis’ group ultimately gained entry but discovered walls had been hastily erected in inconvenient places — in the middle of a hallway, in front of an elevator bank — to impede access to the building’s inner offices. Reports circulated of Trump employees shredding documents.

In March of this year, the Trumps suffered the ignominy of seeing their name crowbarred off the stone wall in front of the tower. It was rebranded the Bahia Grand Panama. In late spring, the hotel, once touted as boasting stratospheric levels of luxury, was quiet, with rooms renting for the decidedly terrestrial rate of $169 a night. At the hotel bar, you could order drinks with a sardonic twist that reflected Fintiklis’ sense of humor, including the “Fire and Fury” and the “Stormy Jack Daniels.”

In June, Fintiklis announced the hotel would have a new manager. “We are thrilled that our hotel will operate as a JW Marriott,” he said in a statement, “and we believe this partnership, together with a talented team and spectacular hotel amenities, will be a success.”

This story was co-published with WNYC.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/pump-and-trump/ar-BBOuKOm?ocid=ientp
 

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Pete Souza: President Donald Trump Disrespects Office Of Presidency | Morning Joe | MSNBC
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Published on Oct 17, 2018
President Obama's Chief Official Photographer, Pete Souza, is known for his trolling of President Trump on social media, and he's back with the new book of photographs 'Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents.' Souza joins Morning Joe to discuss.
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What Drives President Donald Trump's Praise Of Authoritarian Leaders? | Morning Joe | MSNBC
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Published on Oct 16, 2018
President Trump suggested Monday that rogue killers could be responsible for the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Ben Rhodes, Bret Stephens and Garry Kasparov join Morning Joe to discuss the president's foreign policy.
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Biden blasts Trump's 'love affair with autocrats' as White House gets closer to Kim Jong-un and waits for Saudi prince's explanation for journalist's murder

  • 'I'm very worried that the president seems to have a love affair with autocrats,' former Vice President Joe Biden told CBS 'This Morning' on Thursday
  • Biden blasted President Trump for being too close to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin
  • His comments come amid a report Trump is searching to protect the U.S.-Saudi Arabia relationship in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance
  • 'Either he doesn't know what he's doing, or he has an absolutely convoluted notion of what allows America to lead the world,' Biden said of Trump
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6290977/Biden-blasts-Trumps-love-affair-autocrats.html
 

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Another Trump-branded building is stripping the president's name off its facade amid residents' concerns about the resale value of their condos

  • Residents of Trump Place in Manhattan have voted to strip president's name
  • The building will now be known only by its address, 200 Riverside Boulevard
  • It joins three other buildings on the Upper West Side which removed Trump's name
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...anded-building-stripping-presidents-name.html
 

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ProPublica: Trump family misled investors
CNN


Published on Oct 18, 2018
A new ProPublica investigation details how President Trump and some of his children regularly deceived potential investors and buyers in order to profit off of their real estate projects.
 

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E-mail Revelation Puts Neat Bow On President Donald Trump FBI HQ Scandal | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC
MSNBC



Published on Oct 18, 2018
Rachel Maddow reports on newly released e-mails that show how Donald Trump used his position to help his own business, and the lies told in the course of following Trump's orders.
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'We have a president who is a pathological liar': Sanders slams Trump as a 'terrible example' to his seven grandchildren ahead of 2020 speculation

  • Bernie Sanders was in South Carolina for a 'Medicare for Ally' rally that sounded more like a presidential campaign event
  • Sanders repeatedly slammed President Trump as a 'terrible example'
  • 'What is an embarrassment to me,' Sanders said, 'is that we have a president who is a pathological liar.'
  • Sanders said he will make a decision about a 2020 campaign after the midterms
  • Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Michael Bloomberg have also visited South Carolina as they contemplate their own possible presidential bids
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ldren-ahead-2020-speculation.html#socialLinks
 

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'If they screw it up it's not MY fault': What Trump is privately telling friends about congressional leaders as he prepares to shift blame if Republicans lose the midterms

  • Trump has tried to drive up turnout by telling rally-goers they are voting for him
  • The off-year elections hold tremendous stakes for Trump, who could either claim validation or face an onslaught of investigations based on outcome
  • Privately he is saying the 'real election' is in 2020
  • Has said if party leaders blow it, 'it's not my fault'
  • Trump's favorability rating hasn't topped 45 percent during his presidency according in a polling average
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...eparing-blame-congressional-leaders-loss.html
 

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Scaramucci says Trump has 'reality distortion field around himself' and 'curves facts towards himself' but he doesn't care because 'most people in Washington' are liars

  • Anthony Scaramucci served as White House communications director for 11 days
  • He was asked if President Trump has a problem 'telling the truth'
  • Responded that Trump has a 'reality distortion field'
  • Said he has a 'super-serious mode' as well as 'entertainment mode'
  • He said 'most people in Washington' tell 'fibs'
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...mp-reality-distortion-field-curves-facts.html
 

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Trump forgets his differences with old foe 'Lyin Ted Cruz' at raucous Texas rally, claims DEMOCRATS organized the caravan and calls Beto O'Rourke a 'stone cold phony'

  • President Donald Trump greeted former foe Ted Cruz with a handshake and a hug on Monday night
  • At a packed rally in Houston where he professed a belief that the caravan of Honduran migrants that's headed toward the state's southern border may have been organized by Democrats
  • Mocked Elizabeth Warren again as Pocahontas and joked about putting Hillary Clinton on the high court
  • He also proudly declared he was a 'nationalist' and encouraged the crowd to 'Use that word. Use that word'
  • Trump noted that he had a 'nasty' fight with Cruz in 2016 and but now they are 'friends;
  • 'He's not 'Lyin' Ted' anymore. He's 'Beautiful Ted,' ' the president said on Monday as he left for Houston to campaign with the Republican lawmaker. ''I call him 'Texas Ted' '
  • His slams against Cruz during their 2016 rivalry have come back to haunt him in his reelection bid
  • Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke brought up the moniker at a debate at which he said Cruz is dishonest
  • Trump says he doesn't regret the nasty things he said about Cruz's and the senator's family back then
  • Cruz is fighting for his political life in Texas, where is ahead of O'Rourke but only by a few points
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ps-Lyin-Ted-nickname-ahead-rally-senator.html
 

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I'm proud of our country, I'm a nationalist! Trump goes all in on self-professed nationalism saying he has 'never even heard' the term being associated with racism

  • Trump declared himself a 'nationalist' at a rally on Monday evening in Houston
  • Used the term to compare his America First mantra to liberals' globalism
  • He told the crowd: 'We're not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I'm a nationalist. Okay? I'm a nationalist'
  • Liberal groups hit back with claims that Trump is a racist; he said Tuesday that he didn't realize the term has racist connotations
  • Last month Barack Obama said that Trump's positions 'appeal to racial nationalism that's barely veiled, if veiled at all' in a speech
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ountry-Trump-defends-embrace-nationalism.html
 

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Trump Draws Backlash For Calling Himself a ‘Nationalist’
RT America


Published on Oct 23, 2018
President Trump is drawing backlash after calling himself a nationalist at a Texas rally for Ted Cruz. For analysis of the impact of this comment ahead of the midterms, RT America’s Scottie Nell Hughes is joined Liberal panelist, former Florida Democratic Party chair Mitch Ceasar and on the conservative side, Brandon Straka, founder of the Walk Away campaign.
 

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‘In the service of whim’: Officials scramble to make Trump’s false assertions real

Washington Post
Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker
6 hrs ago

The great election-eve middle-class tax cut began not as a factual proposal, but as a false promise.

When President Trump abruptly told reporters over the weekend that middle-income Americans would receive a 10 percent tax cut before the midterm elections, neither officials on Capitol Hill nor in his administration knew anything about such a tax cut. The White House released no substantive information. And although cutting taxes requires legislation, Congress is not scheduled to be back in session until after the Nov. 6 elections.

Yet Washington’s bureaucratic machinery whirred into action nonetheless — working to produce a policy that could be seen as supporting Trump’s whim.

One such option now under discussion by administration officials is a symbolic nonbinding “resolution” designed to signal to voters ahead of the elections that if Republicans hold their congressional majorities they might pass a future 10 percent tax cut for the middle class. And House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) said Tuesday that he would work with the White House and the Treasury Department to develop a plan “over the coming weeks.”

The mystery tax cut is only the latest instance of the federal government scrambling to reverse-engineer policies to meet Trump’s sudden public promises — or to search for evidence buttressing his conspiracy theories and falsehoods.

The Pentagon leaped into action to both hold a military parade and launch a “Space Force” on the president’s whims. The Commerce Department moved to create a plan for auto tariffs after Trump angrily threatened to impose them. And just this week, Vice President Pence, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House all rushed to try to back up Trump’s unsupported claim that “unknown Middle Easterners” were part of a migrant caravan in Central America — only to have the president admit late Tuesday that there was no proof at all.

“Virtually no one on the planet has the kind of power that a president of the United States has to scramble bureaucracies in the service of whim,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. “Whatever Donald Trump wakes up and thinks about, or whatever comes to mind in the middle of a speech, actually has the reality in that it is actionable in some odd sense.”

Consider Trump’s ongoing commentary this week about the caravan of Central American migrants traveling toward the U.S. border with Mexico.

The president tweeted an unsubstantiated warning Monday morning that “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in,” and later repeated it. His claim received extensive news coverage, but administration agencies did not immediately provide information supporting it.

By the day’s end, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Trump “absolutely” has evidence that there are Middle Easterners in the caravan — but she cited only a statistic that each day 10 suspected or known terrorists try to enter the United States illegally.

Though Trump’s claim was not about suspected terrorists specifically, he and his administration seemed to imply — again with no evidence — that his hypothetical “Middle Easterners” may have intentions to commit terrorism.

Pence sought to back up his boss’s claim, saying Tuesday morning in a Washington Post Live interview that it is “inconceivable that there are not people of Middle Eastern descent in a crowd of more than 7,000 people advancing toward our border.”

But just hours later, Trump admitted to reporters during an Oval Office event that he has no evidence to support the claim about the caravan.

“There’s no proof of anything,” Trump said, “but there could very well be.”

Daniel A. Effron, a professor of organizational behavior at London Business School who studies the psychology of lies, said political leaders such as Trump can make falsehoods seem true through imagination and repetition.

“When falsehoods feel familiar, one concern is you don’t actually know what’s true and what’s false,” Effron said. “There’s a lot of information to keep track of, and you use familiarity as a cue to what’s true. The other concern is when you’re invited to imagine how something could be true, you actually know that it’s false, but you don’t necessarily think it’s unethical to say.”

Simon Blackburn, a retired philosophy professor at the University of Cambridge and author of the book “Truth,” said, “If you control the agenda efficiently, then there’s no possibility of independent inquiry, and I think that’s what Trump is a genius at.”

Trump has a pattern of catching his aides off guard with random policy announcements that are rooted more in his imagination and desires than any organized administration initiative.

Trump has sometimes issued directives publicly if he believes his subordinates are not executing his agenda forcefully enough or taking his wishes seriously. “He thinks, ‘Hey, if I say it on Twitter, then these guys will have to follow,’” said one former White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly share the president’s process.

In July 2017, Trump revealed in a tweet his decision to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military. His social media missive preempted a policy review with several options that he was set to receive from administration officials. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his underlings scrambled to react and reconcile the president’s sudden demand with the military’s practices and protocols.

The Pentagon was also forced to develop a “Space Force” after Trump announced last spring that he wanted to create a sixth branch of the military. The president initially said it was conceived as a joke, but “Space Force” has become a frequent chant at his campaign rallies, and he has tasked Pence with overseeing the initiative.

Trump also sent military leaders reeling in January when he said in a meeting with Pentagon brass that he wanted a grand military parade like the one he had gleefully witnessed in Paris on Bastille Day — complete with soldiers marching and tanks rolling down the boulevards of Washington.

Pentagon officials took his desire as a presidential directive and worked reluctantly to stage a parade for this fall, but Trump backed off plans in August, citing cost concerns and blaming local officials in Washington.

After winning the electoral college in 2016, Trump falsely claimed he only lost the popular vote against Hillary Clinton because of widespread voter fraud — leading to a formal commission on the issue chaired by Pence. The panel was eventually disbanded after it became mired in lawsuits and only managed to hold two meetings.

Trump has set off similar surprises in trade, one of his signature political crusades. Incensed that his initial tariffs were not bending Canadians, Japanese and Europeans to his demands, Trump in June threatened to impose import duties on all foreign auto imports before a government plan was ever put together.

The threat, which he had repeated numerous times and once referred to as the “mother lode,” prompted the Commerce Department to move forward with a review and spooked U.S. allies.

Trump’s pledge to cut taxes, which he first floated Saturday, followed a familiar pattern.

The president has been boasting for days about an imminent tax cut, despite the lack of legislation so far — as well as any concrete details of the plan shared by any of the people who would need to be involved.

At a rally Monday night in Houston, Trump said, “We’re going to be putting in a 10 percent tax cut for middle-income families. It’s going to be put in next week.” He added, “We’ve been working on it for a few months,” and singled out Brady, who was seated in the audience and responded with a sign of affirmation.

Trump went on: “This is for middle-income people, all middle-income people, a big tax, 10 percent. We’ll be putting it in next week.”

Meanwhile, racing to respond, administration officials began discussing a far more modest step of asking Congress to eventually vote on a nonbinding resolution for a 10 percent tax cut in the future.

But no decision has been made, and for the most part, lawmakers and senior administration officials are trying to temper expectations and deflect questions over a tax plan that, as of now, exists only in the president’s telling.

Though the president has a tremendous capacity to create his own reality, Jamieson said, the challenge lies in the execution.

“It is infeasible to say we’re going to have a middle-class tax cut before the November elections unless Congress agrees to come back into session,” she said. “But there is a sense of reality about it when someone describes it in the terms that Trump described it. That is, the Republicans don’t stand up and say, ‘No, we haven’t,’ ‘No, we aren’t,’ and ‘No, we won’t.’ ”

By virtue of his position, Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett probably would be involved in crafting administration policy on taxes. Yet he told reporters Tuesday that he could not answer questions on the matter.

“Right now, the person who’s discussing the 10 percent tax cut for the White House is the president,” Hassett said, “and so you should go to the press office and to the president if you want more information on that.”

philip.rucker@washpost.com

ashley.parker@washpost.com

Damian Paletta and Erica Werner contributed to this report.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/polit...s-false-assertions-real/ar-BBONWrn?ocid=ientp
 

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Trump at the top of his dangerous game as midterms loom

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
4 hrs ago


Donald Trump fixed reporters with a hard gaze and declared: "I'm a very nonpolitical person, and that's why I got elected President."

Like much of what Trump says, his comment required a large helping of salt, since it came in a session in which his considerable, instinctive and often cynical political prowess was on full display 14 days before the midterm elections.

With reporters and lawmakers huddled around his Oval Office desk Tuesday, Trump floated conspiracy theories, boasted about his achievements, bent facts, teased future announcements and dipped into a well of racial and cultural prejudice.

Such behavior is more often displayed by autocratic leaders who rule in personality cults than by more cautious and conventional politicians who operate in democratic systems, but it also explains how Trump has bullied much of Washington into submission.

With a chatty intimacy that tempted his audience into his confidence, Trump dominated the Oval Office, coming across as a president increasingly bullish about himself and at ease in wielding his power.

"I'm not worried about anything," he said.

Including a later photo-op at a meeting with military leaders, Trump has now chewed the fat with reporters 12 times in 11 days, and conducted a blizzard of interviews with radio and television stations.

With his spokeswoman Sarah Sanders and political strategists confined to the wings, the President has seized control of the midterm election campaign, and it looks as if the GOP will rise or fall depending on how voters react.

Trump's virtuoso flexing of his significant but often diabolical political skills came on a day when he had no campaign rally. So he just manufactured a moment to add more fuel to the rhetorical blaze he has ignited over immigration.



'No proof of anything'


The caravan of desperate migrants from Central America might be more than 1,000 miles and many days from the US border in Mexico, but that is not stopping the President from whipping it into the perfect political storm.

The now-famous column is becoming the 2018 equivalent of then-FBI director James Comey's late reopening of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which dominated the final few weeks of the 2016 presidential race.

Then, Trump used the issue to hammer home his theme -- that his Democratic foe was corrupt, a liar and unfit for office -- in the process papering over his own character liabilities and drowning out her attacks.

Two years on, Trump is using the caravan in a similar shock and awe assault on the airwaves, bolstering his dark claims that a human tide of outsiders from Central America is laying siege to US borders, bringing crime, violence and even terrorism.

Pictures of massing migrants bolster his theme, even though he rips them out of context and ignores reporters on the ground who are able to show that his claims that the column includes "Middle Easterners" are likely false.

Many in Clinton's camp believe, in retrospect, that the blanket coverage of the email issue stalled her momentum and helped Trump's late surge to victory.

It's unclear if the caravan holds the same potential for Trump this time around. But it helps him reach voters who sincerely believe that other politicians have done nothing as their wages are undercut by undocumented migrants and their jobs have disappeared.

And the spectacle of the march means the President will likely have the opportunity to loudly tout his extreme take on immigration, an issue on which he has built his political career, every day until the midterms November 6.

It also allows him to fold in other themes that animate the Republican base, which he needs to come out in near 2016 numbers to stave off Democratic gains.

That's one reason why he has stoked fear and played into prejudice about "Middle Easterners" -- code for Muslims -- who he hints, without providing evidence, are in the crowd, coming America's way and may be bent on terrorism.

Ever eager to please, Vice President Mike Pence appeared at the President's shoulder, explaining that it was "inconceivable" that such people were not in the column, placing the burden of proof on those who doubt the claim.

But pressed by CNN's Jim Acosta, Pence was not quite as adept at shading truth as the President, who jumped in and said some "real bad ones" from the Middle East had been intercepted at the border recently.

Pence, who has spent the last two days defending Trump's claims on the caravan, then got a reminder of how treacherous life can be on the President's team. The vice president was promptly crushed as Trump reversed a rhetorical bus over him.

"There's no proof of anything. There's no proof of anything. But they could very well be," Trump said, before deftly switching the conversation to a debate about the size of his crowd at a rally in Texas on Monday night.



Sticking a knife in with a smile


The President also unsheathed another skill common to other accomplished politicians: his use of humor to twist a knife, in this case in the unfortunate Sen. Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat who had effectively been held captive after a photo-op to sign a water infrastructure bill.

After Pence said the caravan was financed by leftists, Trump turned to Carper and teased: "And the Democrats maybe?"

On Trump's face was the grin of a man who knows he has power over others and can make outrageous claims and get away with it.

If his rising approval rating and dominance of the agenda in the days running into the midterms with a campaign based on fear and untruths help Republicans hang on to the House and perhaps increase their Senate majority, a comment by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, at the CNN CITIZEN conference in New York on Monday will look prescient.

"The more time I spend with him working with him, the more I realize I don't bet against his instincts," Kushner said, despite polling and historical data that suggest Trump could be heading for a bloody nose in two weeks.

"He's a black swan. He's been a black swan all of his life," Kushner said, suggesting there was something unpredictable and unexplainable about his father-in-law's talents.

However, despite dominating his immediate circle and delighting his base, Trump is a politician with an approval rating in the mid-40s who could end up constrained by a Democratic-led House next year, a scenario that could have been brought on largely part by his extreme behavior and fear-based leadership.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, one Democrat who's itching to take on Trump, hinted Tuesday at the possibility that Americans will reject the President when he said: "This President is more like George Wallace than George Washington!" -- referring to the late populist firebrand and former Alabama governor.

"We have to choose truth over lies. We have to choose a brighter future for Americans over this desperate grip of the darkest element of our past in our society," Biden said in Florida.

Still, Democrats running for president might wind back Trump's performance on Tuesday afternoon for a reminder of what a dangerous opponent -- ready to go low and relishing his own power -- the President could be in two years.

CNN's Steve Brusk and Arlette Saenz contributed to this story.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/polit...s-game-as-midterms-loom/ar-BBOOCku?ocid=ientp
 

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Bomb scare reveals Trump's uneasy embrace of presidency

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
58 mins ago


Washington is locked in a destructive and acrimonious ritual that plays out every time President Donald Trump is called upon to lead in a moment of national peril -- and that ensures that America's political estrangement will only deepen.

The controversy over explosive devices sent to prominent Democrats, a liberal billionaire and CNN -- all frequent targets of the President's rhetoric -- is following a pattern repeated over and over during over 21 tumultuous months.

When a natural disaster, a political controversy or a mass shooting takes place, the media and political establishment set expectations for Trump to invoke a poetic vision of common purpose and unity, craving a spectacle in line with the traditional conventions of the presidency at great historical moments.

Trump then produces a scripted response that is adequate, but in the moment or in subsequent days undercuts that message with radioactive comments or tweets that spark fierce criticism and mobilize the conservative media machine in his defense while he often deflects blame back onto the media.

It suggests the President has little desire to play the role of national counselor being forced upon him -- one that is a poor fit given his deliberately divisive style. The drama usually ends with another layer of bile added to the nation's politics.

That a President who has based his political career on crushing conventions and norms should so constantly be tripped up by the behavioral and ceremonial codes that define the role of head of state is deeply ironic.

But his situation also helps explain why the political divides and mutual mistrust cleaving America -- between Trump loyalists and critics -- are unbridgeable and will produce a bitter 2020 election campaign.

The last few days have stuck to the script.

Undermining his own words
As soon as authorities discovered that homemade bombs had been sent to former President Barack Obama and the home of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as other Trump targets like George Soros and CNN, eyes started turning to the White House.

The President had to say something, and he did so at the top of a previously scheduled event on Wednesday.

"I just want to tell you that, in these times, we have to unify. We have to come together, and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America," Trump said, slamming the "egregious" and "abhorrent" attacks.

It was a strong statement on the face of it, though was notable in failing to name any of the victims, all often the focus of Trump's ire.

But Trump got a passing grade in the eyes of most commentators.

It was only later that his unwillingness to play the role presidential tradition requires became clear. At a rally in Wisconsin, the President undercut his message by appearing to blame the media and his opponents for the sour national mood in which the pipe bombs had been crafted and delivered.

His performance not only flouted the paternal conventions of the modern presidency -- which date at least to Franklin Roosevelt's fireside chats during the Great Depression -- it also suggested that when he's not in a formal, scripted setting, Trump really cares only about his own political motivations.

"It was one of the worst moments in the Trump presidency," said CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. "It was a golden opportunity to be large, to try to say something that would unify the country. ... He came off, in my opinion, as a very small president."

The President's attitude set off a media storm, and then a backlash from his White House. Press secretary Sarah Sanders accused reporters of always focusing "on the negative" and not playing their own role to foster national unity.

Trump next fired off a tweet unleashing new acrimony, sparking fresh accusations about his attitude toward norms and constitutional freedoms and his understanding of what a president is supposed to do.

The fight back on such occasions resonates with Trump supporters, however, who see the President as the victim of unrelenting and slanted news coverage, a factor that endears him to them even more.

One Trump confidant told CNN's Jeff Zeleny that criticism of the President's behavior over the bomb scares just cemented Trump's view that he is "treated with hostility and unfairly -- there's no talking him out of that."

Around 3 a.m. Friday morning, Trump again took to Twitter to defend himself and criticize the media saying that the media has been "blaming me for the current spate of Bombs." He went on to claim that while he faces much media criticism, he is called "not Presidential" when he hits back.

This was not the first time that the criticism of him left Trump brooding after critics charged that his performance fell well short of the standards of decorum and decency expected of a commander-in-chief and revealed a leader unable to rise above political combat to console and steer his nation.

After violence at a white supremacists rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year in which an anti-racism protester was killed, Trump was initially criticized for an inadequate response but then delivered a speech condemning an "egregious display of bigotry, hatred and violence" that has "no place in America."

But he couldn't help himself. A day later in a Trump Tower news conference, he blamed "both sides" for the violence, setting off a days-long debate about race.

"You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I'll say it right now," Trump said.

It was almost as if the President couldn't let his scripted, "presidential"-style remarks have the last word. Maybe it's a symptom of his rebellious character. Or perhaps it shows a need to signal his loyal base, which embraced his revolt against the establishment, that he hasn't gone native in Washington.

The same scenario unfolded when Trump returned from Finland amid outrage over his deference to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit.

He read out a statement designed to make clear he accepted intelligence community assessments on Moscow's interference in the 2016 US election. But he couldn't resist adding a caveat -- "could be other people also" -- in an ad-lib that undermined his statement but was also an act of defiance against Washington's expectations.

Every time the weight of convention and tradition requires him to act one way, Trump the outsider and iconoclast can't bring himself to comply.

And each time, the criticism that Trump stirs, and consequent fury within his inner circle at the media response, makes the polarization even worse.

It's been a trait of his presidency right from the beginning, emerging when he went to the CIA on his first full day in office, attacked the media for its coverage of his inaugural crowds and effectively conducted a campaign rallyin front of the agency's revered memorial wall to fallen officers.

Gravity of the presidency
Some commentators believe Trump simply has no desire to honor the moral authority of the presidency and simply sees it as a vehicle for his own power, prestige and self-glorification.

Others suggest he doesn't understand the magnitude of his responsibilities.

"He is now the President of the United States. He is not on a talk show somewhere," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told CNN's Brooke Baldwin on Thursday.

"When that position of power is spewing hateful rhetoric, that has an effect."

Another theory about Trump's behavior could be that he has banked so exclusively on his political base that he cannot allow himself to do anything that would damage his image as the ultimate rabble-rouser.

The President also knows he's most effective when he's attacking an enemy, in the heat of a fight. And a political method that relies on inflaming cultural, racial and societal divides means he might not ever be accepted by those who despise him anyway.

But that all leaves a bigger question: What will be the impact on American life and national unity of years of such civic discord?

Trump may simply be unable to summon the words and the aspiration to bring the country together -- as President George W. Bush did on a pile of rubble after 9/11 -- or he may not even want to do so.

Ultimately, as a self-styled disruptor, he may realize that it's simply impossible to honor the historical expectations and conventions of his job while being true to himself. And if it comes to a choice, there's no doubt which side of that equation he will choose.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/polit...y-embrace-of-presidency/ar-BBOUXhA?ocid=ientp
 

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Trump blames 'Bomb stuff' for slowing GOP momentum in the elections and complains package attack on Democrats and Trump critics is bumping politics from the news

  • President Donald Trump tweeted about the political implications of a bombing spree targeting Hillary Clinton, President Obama, senators, and others
  • He said Republicans are 'doing so well in early voting' when 'this "Bomb" stuff happens'
  • He claims it has caused momentum to slow and that the news coverage is 'not talking politics'
  • Trump put the word 'Bomb' in quotation marks
  • Trump also tweeted about 'lowly rated CNN' at 3 am
  • Democrats are favored to take the House in 11 days while numerous Senate races are in toss-up territory
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ames-bomb-slowing-GOP-momentum-elections.html
 

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Trump says the media is using the 'sinister actions of one individual to score political points against me' after MAGAbomber's arrest during rant against the press that had his rally crowd shouting 'CNN sucks'

  • President Donald Trump said he has yet to see an image of the white van that authorities confiscated after arresting
  • Cesar Altier Sayoc, 56, was taken into custody on Friday morning in Plantation, Florida after authorities located him by the van
  • The van was decorated with color pictures of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence
  • Trump's face appears at least four times on a single window, and once on the window behind it, according to an image snapped by a driver who saw it
  • It has Hillary Clinton with a red target on her face
  • Lettering says 'I am Donald Trump and I approve this message'
  • Sayoc also posted on social media about Trump and included images of himself at Trump rallies and wearing a 'Make America Great Again' hat
  • Said the media has been 'very, very unfair in terms of the Republican Party and the way it's been covered'

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...r-actions-bomber-score-points-against-me.html
 

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Outrage over Trump's 'bad hair day' joke in wake of synagogue massacre, as the President gets called out AGAIN just hours later for tone-deaf tweet about the World Series on day 11 people lost their lives

  • Trump gave news conference after news broke of the Pittsburgh massacre
  • In speaking to the press, Trump had to brave the elements of rain and wind
  • At a stop in Indianapolis, he said he considered canceling event
  • He joked that he was having a 'bad hair day,' prompting laughter from crowd
  • But social media users slammed Trump for making joke while people mourned
  • Later on Saturday, Trump tweeted about the World Series baseball game
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...air-day-nation-reels-synagogue-slaughter.html
 

Joe King

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as the President gets called out AGAIN
What hasn't he gotten called out for? Since the election it's been nothing but one "calling him out" after another. Anything from this, to "he can't feed the fish right" and everything in between. If you want to see gaslighting, there it is.

At this point I have to ask if there's anything about Trump, that we the public are not supposed to be angry and outraged about?
 

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Trump renews attack on media as 'true Enemy of the People' and blames 'fake news' for 'great anger' in wake of Pittsburgh synagogue massacre

  • Gunman killed 11 Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday
  • Prosecutors are considering a death penalty prosecution against Robert Bowers
  • President Trump is blaming 'fraudulent' political media coverage for creating 'grat anger' of the sort that may have led to the killings
  • 'Fake News Must End!' he tweeted, arguing that a fairer press corps would create more 'Peace and Harmony'
  • Hollywood actors in partocular have blamed Trump for 'dog whistle' language that they see as a wink to anti-Semites
  • Israel's ambassador to the U.S. says Trump is an unusually strong advocate for Jews and heard the president's rally crowd applaud his stern words Saturday
  • Bowers' account on the 'Gab' social media platform included a Nazt hate symbol and a claim that Jews are 'children of satan'
  • The entire Gab service went down Monday after GoDaddy withdrew its hosting agreement and PayPal canceled its online payment abilities
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...anger-wake-Pittsburgh-synagogue-shooting.html
 

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What hasn't he gotten called out for? Since the election it's been nothing but one "calling him out" after another. Anything from this, to "he can't feed the fish right" and everything in between. If you want to see gaslighting, there it is.

At this point I have to ask if there's anything about Trump, that we the public are not supposed to be angry and outraged about?
The guy can create hurricanes.

No worries. The more he calls out the bad action of the bad actors, the more the perps show their hand.
 

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At this point I have to ask if there's anything about Trump, that we the public are not supposed to be angry and outraged about?
Some are outraged...………..some aren't. Some love the guy...……….some hate the guy. We've never had anyone like him as a prez before.

All the stuff that's going on is directly due to him. If he would have just acted like his predecessors you wouldn't have all this crazy news. But he actually believes he's a king and lies through his teeth constantly. Something is seriously wrong with the guy and the news (msm) is simply pointing this out. Nothing more. They're not trying to make him look bad. He's doing it all on his own.
 

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'It was fake and it was make believe what they said':' Trump decries the 'far-left' media for playing up 'small group of protesters' in Pittsburgh

  • President Donald Trump slammed the coverage of his and Melania Trump's visit to Pittsburgh, complaining the protest surrounding their stop was small
  • Trump addressed the shooting in his opening remarks at a rally in Estero, Florida
  • Ripping into the 'far-left media' as his audience chanted 'CNN sucks' and booed at the event's press section, Trump griped about media coverage of his visit
  • He said there were a 'small group of protesters, far away from where we were' during his trip the day before to the synagogue
  • 'They did everything in their power to try to play it up and push people apart,' he said of the media. 'It was fake and it was make believe what they said.'
  • 'Claimed earlier on Twitter: 'We were treated so warmly. Small protest was not seen by us, staged far away. The Fake News stories were just the opposite'
  • Images of the first couple meeting with Rabbi Jeffrey Myers were interspersed with scenes of protesters in coverage from the visit
  • An estimated 4,000 protesters were in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, where the synagogue is located, to confront the president during his Tuesday visit
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ecries-far-left-media-protest-Pittsburgh.html