Donald Trump Just Broke The Law Thousands of Times

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Members of the Parliaments of Iceland, Great Britain, Scotland and Australia were surprised this week to find multiple fundraising emails from Donald Trump in their inboxes, asking for donations for his Presidential bid. And it was not just one member of Parliament, it seems to have been all of them. Many of the email addresses have clearly foreign suffixes like “.is” and “.uk.”

These emails must have originated from inside the Trump campaign, as it seems unlikely that all of these people would have signed up for the list. While the email addresses are available for the public, it also seems unlikely that these addresses were entered as a prank, as the respondent would have to click through the confirmation email in order to be added to the list. Much more likely is that the Trump campaign purchased a list of email addresses and didn’t bother to even check the suffixes before entering them into their fundraising database.

It turns out that soliciting funds from foreign nationals is illegal, and the watchdog group Democracy 21 has filed a complaint with the FEC. The Federal Election Commission rules are quite clear:

The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) prohibits any foreign national from contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly. It is also unlawful to help foreign nationals violate that ban or to solicit, receive or accept contributions or donations from them. Persons who knowingly and willfully engage in these activities may be subject to fines and/or imprisonment.

This is a serious breach of election rules, one that could mean big fines or even possible prison time for the candidate. A more experienced and professional campaign would have never made such a mistake. It will be interesting to see the FEC’s response. They have already begun an investigation.

Sources:
http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/29/politics/donald-trump-fundraising-foreign-emails/
http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/foreign.shtml
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-fundraising-emails-overseas-prompt-complaints-here-and-abroad/2016/06/29/ad66a1e2-3e0a-11e6-80bc-d06711fd2125_story.html
http://www.democracy21.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/FEC-Complaint-Against-Trump.pdf

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Trump Claims “Politicians Did Nothing” To Support US Steel Industry

Trump trade

Donald Trump made another important and scripted speech yesterday focused on globalization and free trade. This speech took place in a Pennsylvania recycling plant, in a battleground swing state that has been hit hard by the changing global economy. Early on in the speech he referred to a scandal about imported steel, that was revealed to be heavily subsidized by the Chinese government.

“When subsidized foreign steel is dumped into our markets, threatening our factories, the politicians have proven, folks, have proven, they do nothing,” Trump said.

Actually, the “politicians” applied a massive tariff to the offending steel, taxing it as much as 236% depending on the amount of the subsidy. After the Department of Commerce discovered the scheme in March 2016 they quickly applied a tariff to steel from the offending countries, including China, India, Taiwan and Italy. The offense is know as “dumping,” when a company, or group of companies, receive government subsidies that allow them to sell their products below cost in order to artificially gain market share.

Sources:
http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/fact-checking-trump-s-speech-trade-n600566
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-03/u-s-commerce-finds-china-steel-subsidies-of-as-much-as-236-
http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-imposes-266-duty-on-some-chinese-steel-imports-1456878180

Trump Bizarrely Calls Elizabeth Warren A Racist

 

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Normally Trump’s name calling doesn’t fall under the purview of this blog, as calling someone “Crooked” or “Little” is not necessarily falsifiable. But yesterday in a phone call interview Trump again attacked the Massachusetts Senator for claiming to be Native American, referring to her as a “racist” and “Pocahontas.” He has repeatedly attacked the Senator and Clinton surrogate in the past, as in the above tweet.

“She made up her heritage, which I think is racist. I think she’s a racist, actually because what she did was very racist,” Trump said. ““We call her Pocahontas for a reason. She said she’s 5 percent Native American. She was unable to prove it. She used the fact that she was Native American to advance her career. Elizabeth Warren is a total fraud. I know it. Other people who work with her know it. Elizabeth Warren is a total fraud.”

Like many Americans and Oklahomans in particular, Native American heritage is often claimed with out documentation. Native Americans of the 19th century can perhaps be forgiven for not trusting white authority and signing the rolls. Elizabeth Warren claimed to have Native American heritage, though no documentation exists, instead relying on family lore. She described herself as “white” on her college applications. Despite Trump’s claims to the contrary, Warren’s heritage was not mentioned during her Harvard interview. “It simply played no role in the appointments process,” said Charles Fried, head of the appointing committee at Harvard when Warren joined there. “It was not mentioned and I didn’t mention it to the faculty.”

Whether she is or is not Native American really isn’t relevant to Donald Trump’s statements. It is unclear in what way claiming to be Native American is racist. It is clear that derisively using a racial stereotype like “Pocahontas” to lampoon someone’s heritage, real or not, is racist. Imagine the outcry if a person said they were Chinese and Donald Trump called them “Mulan” or Mexican and Trump referred to them as “Speedy Gonzalez”?

Sources:
http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/trump-calls-elizabeth-warren-racist-total-fraud-n599796
http://archive.boston.com/metrodesk/2012/05/02/elizabeth-warren-said-she-called-herself-minority-professor-find-other-people-like/SBfS3w5CVV8KCFmN6TLgeN/story.html
https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-controversy-over-elizabeth-warrens-claimed-native-american-heritage/2012/09/27/d0b7f568-08a5-11e2-a10c-fa5a255a9258_blog.html

Donald Trump Flicks Original Zinger At Racist Pocahontas Lady Elizabeth Warren

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/06/donald-trump-elizabeth-warren-pocahontas-and-very-racist

Trump Accuses Clinton Of Laundering Money, Gets Nearly All The Facts Wrong

laureate

The Washington Post reports that the Trump campaign blasted Hillary Clinton’s ties to for-profit universities in an email last week, making serious criminal accusations. These claims appear to be based on the book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich by Peter Schweizer.

“As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton laundered money to Bill Clinton through Laureate Education, while Bill Clinton was an honorary chairman of the group,” Trump said in the email statement. “Clinton’s State Department provided $55.2 million in grants to Laureate Education from 2010-2012. Laureate thanked Bill for providing unbelievable access to the Secretary of State by paying him off $16.5 million. This is yet another example of how Clinton treated the State Department as her own personal hedge fund, and sold out the American public to fund her lavish lifestyle.”

There are quite a few facts in there, but unfortunately most of them are wrong. Laureate Education is a giant network of for-profit universities across the globe. Bill Clinton was the honorary chairman of the group from 2010-2015, for which he was paid $16.5 million.

The State Department did not however provide $55.2 million in grants to Laureate Education at that time. The Washington Post could find no evidence of grants of this size, and it looks as though the State Department only granted Laureate $1.5 million dollars between 2009 and 2016. The vast majority of these grants were given out between 2013 and 2016, after the years of Clinton’s tenure as secretary. “The State Department is not aware of any grants provided directly to Laureate Education since 2009, though we are aware of some grants to educational institutions within or affiliated with the Laureate Education network,” said John Kirby, a State Department spokesman.

Trump appears to be confusing two similar organizations. International Youth Foundation is a sister company to Laureate Education, and the founder of Laureate Douglas Becker also serves as volunteer chairman of the IYF Board of Directors. The State Department did give this organization $52 million dollars in grants, though these two organizations are separate.

There seems to be no evidence that Laureate received the type of grants that Trump is claiming, much less any evidence that these grants were the result of a money laundering scheme to funnel money to Bill Clinton or that Laureate received “unbelievable access.” Trump did not say that there is the appearance of impropriety here that should be looked into, he made the wild accusation that “Hillary Clinton laundered money to Bill Clinton through Laureate Education.” That is a serious accusation, one that Trump cannot back up with evidence and seems to not have occurred at all.

Sources:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/06/27/trump-campaigns-unsupported-claim-that-state-department-gave-55-million-to-laureate-universities-which-hired-bill-clinton/
https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2016/06/23/fact-checking-trump-assertion-clinton-profit-ties
https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/04/18/hillary-clintons-ties-profit-education-companies
http://www.iyfnet.org/letter-iyfs-president-ceo

Trump’s Clinton Speech Vol. 3: Claims There Is No Process To Vet Refugees

trump

Donald Trump would have you believe that extremist jihadist refugees are flooding into the US without any oversight, saying that “hundreds of recent immigrants and their children have been convicted of terrorist activity inside the U.S.” Immigrants and their children (Donald Trump is one…) account for one quarter of the US population, and approximately 139 immigrants and 184 of their children have been implicated in jihadist activity in the US since 9/11. So he wasn’t completely wrong by saying “hundreds” were implicated, he just exaggerated the scope of nearly 100 million people.

Trump went on to assail the system set up to allow refugees in.

Under [Clinton’s] plan, we would admit hundreds of thousands of refugees from the most dangerous countries on Earth with no way to screen who they are, what they are, what they believe, where they come from.

This is simply untrue, and does a real disservice to the hardworking men and women that screen refugees every day in multiple security organizations around the world. As usual, Politifact covered this and did an excellent job of examining the process for a refugee to be admitted to the US:

The vetting begins with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee, which determines who counts as a refugee, who should be resettled (about 1 percent) and which countries would take them. This alone can take four to 10 months.

If the UNHCR refers refugees to the United States, they then face scrutiny from federal intelligence and security agencies.

Their names, biographical information and fingerprints are run through federal terrorism and criminal databases. Meanwhile, the refugees are interviewed by Department of Homeland Security officials. If approved, they then undergo a medical screening, a match with sponsor agencies, “cultural orientation” classes and one final security clearance.

Syrian refugees in particular must clear one additional hurdle. Their documents are placed under extra scrutiny and cross-referenced with classified and unclassified information.

The process typically takes one to two years or longer and happens before a refuge ever steps onto American soil. Ultimately, says the State Department, about half are approved, and there’s no real precedent of a terrorist slipping in through the vetting system.

This system has been in place for 30 years and was reevaluated after 9/11. It is not perfect and has come under criticism. Many refugees are coming from war torn areas where documents have been destroyed. Syrian refugees have more documents than many other refugee groups, but fake documents can be a problem. No system to vet immigrants will be perfect, but to say that there is no system in place is wrong, insults the intelligence of the American public and disparages these victims of war.

Sources:
http://www.npr.org/2016/06/22/483100251/fact-check-trumps-speech-on-clinton-annotated
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2016/jun/22/fact-checking-donald-trumps-speech-about-hillary-c/
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jun/13/donald-trump/wrong-donald-trump-says-theres-no-system-vet-refug/

Trump Praises Scotland For “Taking Their Country Back” as 62% Vote To Remain In EU

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Trump played golf in Aberdeen, Scotland this week as the UK burned. Eschewing meeting with foreign leaders or showing a concern for foreign policy on his trip, Donald Trump instead attended a ribbon cutting ceremony at his own golf course as one of the most momentous political sea changes of the 21st century happened in next door.

A proponent of the Brexit vote, Trump was in favor of the UK leaving the EU. He took to Twitter to praise the people of Scotland, who he said “took their country back.” Donald was apparently too busy playing golf to take a look at the voting numbers because Scotland voted almost 2 to 1 to stay in the EU. Not a single county in Scotland voted to leave the EU.

map

Sources:
http://www.vox.com/2016/6/24/12024684/brexit-scotland-donald-trump-ignorant-tweet
http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21701332-brexit-has-sparked-calls-another-independence-referendum-also-made-it-trickier
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-36616028

Trump’s Clinton Speech Vol. 2: Clinton Didn’t Delete TPP From Her Book, Trump Just Didn’t Read It

trump

In Volume Two of our fact checking in depth look into Donald Trump’s June 22nd “Clinton Speech,” we examine the claim that Hillary Clinton removed entirely the passages from her book where she showed support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that she subsequently denounced in October of 2015. In that speech Trump made the following claim:

Hillary Clinton has also been the biggest promoter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will ship millions more of our jobs overseas and give up congressional power to an international foreign commission. Now, because I pointed out why it would be such a disastrous deal, she’s pretending that she’s against it.

She’s given, and deleted, as you know — and most people have heard about this. “Have we ever heard about her deleting anything? No, I don’t think so — she deleted the entire record from her book. And deletion is something she really does know something about, because she’s deleted at least 30,000 emails.

To say that she deleted the entire record of her support of the TPP is simply not true. The two pages dealing with her encouragement of the deal had the page numbers changed to accommodate the paperback format and editing in other parts of the book, but otherwise remained unchanged. They used to be on pages 77 and 78 in the hardcover edition and are now on pages 69 and 70 in the paperback. You can see a complete record of all of the edits here.

Here is the only part about the TPP that was edited out, on page 254 of the hardback:

So we worked hard to improve and ratify trade agreements with Colombia and Panama and encouraged Canada and the group of countries that became known as the Pacific Alliance — Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile — all open-market democracies driving toward a more prosperous future to join negotiations with Asian nations on TPP, the trans-Pacific trade agreement.

So, a small portion of her encouragement towards other countries was edited out, but the two pages that dealt with her support were left in. Hardly “deleting the entire record.” Polifact rated this claim as “Pants On Fire,” a designation only reserved for the most brazen of lies.

Sources:
http://www.npr.org/2016/06/22/483100251/fact-check-trumps-speech-on-clinton-annotated
http://cepr.net/blogs/the-americas-blog/hillary-clinton-s-memoir-deletions-in-detail
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jun/23/donald-trump/donald-trump-flubs-claim-hillary-clinton-deleted-h/

Trump’s Clinton Speech Vol. 1: US Manufacturing Is at Its Highest Level In History

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Welcome to Volume One of a suite of fact checking on Donald Trump’s “Clinton Speech.”

Donald Trump made an important speech yesterday morning, trying to recover from falling poll numbers and a series of missteps in his campaign over the last few weeks. In the 40 minute speech Trump eschewed his normal stream of consciousness style of oration for a more measured tone read from a teleprompter. He built this speech up as an attack on Hillary Clinton, and he delivered, devoting almost all of the speech to his opponent. Most of his attacks were at least based in reality, but let’s dig into a fact check of some of the falsehoods Trump peddled yesterday.

“Our country will be better off when we start making our own products again,” Trump stated while lamenting the state of global trade, “And bringing our once great manufacturing capabilities back to the shores.”

According to this report sourced by NPR, manufacturing production levels in the US are at their highest level in history. They have more than recovered from the Great Recession, reaching the highest production levels in history. Hardly necessary to “bring back our manufacturing capabilities” as they never really left.

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What has left however are manufacturing jobs. There are 7.5 million fewer manufacturing jobs in the US versus 1977, but it isn’t those “disastrous trade deals” that have gotten rid of the majority of those. It’s a two fold attack of mechanization and subsequent productivity increases. According to the report, “For every manufacturing job lost to trade, nearly 9 have been lost to machines.”

Trump laments the loss of American manufacturing without even bothering to take a pulse. Gains in technology and productivity have cut millions of jobs in the US, but allowed huge gains in individual worker productivity and, again, the highest rate of production in history.

US national unemployment is at 4.7% right now, so what happened to all of those workers? There is a silver lining to the global economy, says Michael Hicks, author of this report. “But trade also creates jobs. We have 7 million more transportation and logistics jobs alone, likely attributable to trade, since the 1970s.”

Sources:
http://www.npr.org/2016/06/22/483100251/fact-check-trumps-speech-on-clinton-annotated
http://www.aei.org/publication/making-more-with-less-u-s-manufacturing-efficiency/print/
http://conexus.cberdata.org/files/MfgReality.pdf
http://www.nytimes.com /2016/06/23/us/politics/donald-trump-speech-highlights.html?_r=0
http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000

Trump Funneling Campaign Funds Back To Himself By The Millions

mar
As the disastrous state of Trump’s campaign finances has come to light in recent days, a new scrutiny has been placed on where exactly the money is going. While it is true that much of the money used in the campaign so far has come from Donald Trump, it comes in the form of a loan that presumably Republican donors will be paying back when Trump raises the funds in the future, under the auspices of the GOP nominee for President.

As his expenditures for May show, the Trump campaign spent just over $6 million in May. The New York Times reports that of that $6 million spent, $1.1 million were paid to Trump businesses and family members. That is a whopping 18% of total expenditures for the campaign in May were funneled back into Trump ventures. According to CNN, Trump has paid $11 million to Trump owned businesses since the start of his campaign, or almost 20%.

Let that sink in: 20% of the money that Donald Trump’s campaign has spent has gone to businesses that Donald Trump owns.

“He could end up turning a profit if he repaid himself for the campaign loans,” Paul S. Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center told the New York Times. “He could get all his money back plus the profit margin for what his campaign has paid himself for goods and services.” Trump also boasted in 2000 that “It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.”

When Trump is still mostly self-funding this might not be a huge problem. Now that Trump is actively soliciting donations, where that money goes could be come under a lot more scrutiny.

Trump has said that he won’t use campaign funds to pay himself back. Forgive me if I have a hard time taking him at his word. Why would he need to, when he has already funneled $11 million, almost a quarter, of the $46 million dollars he has lent his campaign back into his own pocket. And the GOP still owes him that $46 million.

Sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/21/politics/donald-trump-business-spending-fec/
http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-fundraised-an-alarmingly-low-amount-of-money-in-may-2016-6
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/20-of-donald-trumps-campaign-spending-goes-to-trump-businesses-filing-says-2016-06-21

Trump Remains Loyal To and Praises Campaign Manager He Just Unceremoniously Fired

trumplew

After months of support and loyalty, the Trump train fired their campaign manager Corey Lewandowski yesterday. Trump has stayed loyal to him throughout his historic campaign, despite a battery charge against him for handling a reporter (those charges were later dropped) and an unprecedented disorganized and underfunded campaign.

Trump has had a bad week or two. His comments about the Mexican heritage of a judge have cemented in the minds of voters that Donald Trump is a racist, as well doubling down on his xenophobic and Islamophobic plan to ban Muslims after the Orlando shooting. His polls numbers are dropping quickly, as prominent GOP politicians rescind their endorsements and slowly back away from Donald Trump. Then his campaign financials for May were just released and they are really, really bad. Like Trump only had $1.3 million in the bank at the end of May, while the Clinton campaign has $42 million bad.

So it’s really no wonder that Trump decided to fire his inexperienced and likely incompetent campaign manager. What is a wonder is that Trump can’t even admit that his campaign is not going well even after firing his manager three weeks before the convention.

“First of all, he’s a great guy, and you see that a little bit, frankly, he’s a great guy, uh, he did a…” Trump told the hosts of Fox & Friends in the above video. “You know we ran a very lean type campaign, we spent less money than anybody else, essentially. And got the best result. And I spent less than anyone else and won. And Corey did a great job. There were some people that loved Corey, some people didn’t like him as much because Corey was strong and he was tough. I tell you though, I give him a ’10.’ He’s number one, he’s a great guy.”

That really sounds more like a drunken best man speech than an answer when asked why you fired your campaign manager. The fact is that Trump is now losing in the polls, a feeling he hasn’t had since August of 2015. As his poll numbers dive he can longer tolerate the slipshod campaign being run by Lewandowski, no matter how many times he says the guy is “great” and a “10.”

This is the ephemeral quality of of Trump’s loyalty. He doesn’t have loyalty, he only has people that are serving him now, and those who aren’t. He will heap praise on those that agree with him and viciously denounce anyone that is critical to him. Lewandowski knows this better than anyone, being very careful in the above clip to have nothing but nice things to say about his former boss. Mr. Trump, don’t tell us what a great guy Lewandowski is, please, just tell the truth.

Sources:
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHXSxn5ShzU
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/06/trump-funds-trail-clintons-by-41-million.html
http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/06/20/corey_lewandowski_out_as_trump_campaign_manager.html
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/06/trump-kids-ousted-corey-lewandowski.html