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John Bolton Accuses Trump of Catering to Dictators and Asking for Interference in 2020 Election

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  • Former National Security Adviser John Bolton made several major accusations in his new book, “The Room Where It Happened.”
  • Among some of his claims, Bolton said President Donald Trump asked China to interfere in the 2020 election and would do favors for authoritarian governments.
  • Bolton also confirmed that Trump asked Ukraine for investigation materials in exchange for military aid.
  • The Department of Justice has moved to block the book’s release, meanwhile, the President and other officials deny the book has any legitimacy.

The Room Where it Happened

A flurry of reports have come out over the last several days detailing major claims National Security Adviser John Bolton made in his new book, “The Room Where It Happened.”

The book was originally set to release on March 17 but was blocked pending a review by the National Security Council. It’s now set to come out June 23 and is supposed to be a tell-all of Bolton’s time as National Security adviser to President Donald Trump.

Media outlets have been given advance copies of the book to look over and based on their reports, the allegations within the book paint a picture of a president who was unsure for many policy decisions while granting favors to authoritarian leaders.

Accusations

Bolton claims that President Trump doe not really know some of the basics that those in a political leadership position are expected to know. For instance, he says Trump did not realize the UK was a nuclear power and asking if Finland is part of Russia.

He also accused of the president of releasing a letter in November of 2018 to distract from reports that his daughter used a personal email to conduct government business; the exact same conduct the president accused former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton of doing. The letter in question defended Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman after he ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

According to Bolton, Trump said, “this will divert from Ivanka. If I read the statement in person, that will take over the Ivanka thing.”

The author also gave details revealing Trump was allegedly mocked by staff, including people seen as loyal to Trump. In one incident, during a 2018 meeting with Kim Jong-Un, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo allegedly slipped Bolton a note that said “[The president] is so full of shit.”  A month later, Pompeo said that the president’s efforts with North Korea had “zero probability of success.”

Bolton says he only joined the administration because he felt that he could manage the President. He even goes so far as to call himself, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the “axis of adults” in the administration. Together, they allegedly tried to minimize the damage caused by the President.

Authoritarian Friendships

It’s also being reported that Bolton accuses Trump of being friendly to authoritarian leaders and making concerning, dictatorial-like comments. For example, Trump once allegedly said of journalists, “These people should be executed, they are scumbags.”

Bolton also claims that in 2019, when President Xi Jinping was explaining to Trump why China was building concentration camps for the country’s Uyghurs, Trump, “said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which he thought was exactly the right thing to do.”

Bolton added that Matt Pottinger, a National Security Council official, said Trump made a similar comment in 2017.

In another incident, Trump pressured Attorney General William Barr to prosecute former Secretary of State John Kerry for talking to Iran back in 2019. something Trump has publicly stated he felt was a violation of the 1799 Logan Act. Kerry has never faced charges, likely because what he did wasn’t out of the norm for a Secretary of State.

Regarding being friendly with dictators, the book states that the U.S. president would help out authoritarian leaders “to, in effect, give personal favors to dictators he liked… The patterns looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life, which we couldn’t accept.”

Such incidents include Trump allegedly trying to interfere with sanctions against the Chinese firm ZTE, as well as Turkey’s Halkbank. 

That bank is Turkey’s second largest state-owned bank and was being investigated by the Department of Justice for helping Iran evade sanctions. In May 2018, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pleaded for Trump to help out Halkbank, claiming they were innocent.

Of this Bolton says, “Trump then told Erdogan he would take care of things, explaining that the Southern District prosecutors were not his people, but were Obama people, a problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people.”

This is backed up by a public statement Erdogan made to journalists at the time in which he said Trump had promised to instruct cabinet members to follow through on the matter.

Charges were eventually brought against the bank anyways, but they were seen as a response to the administrations abrupt departure from Syria and Trump’s approval of Turkey getting involved. The administration wanted to backtrack from that public image, so they cracked down on the bank after stalling for months.

Impeachment

When looking at what Bolton revealed, many raised questions about Trump’s Impeachment trial. At the time, Bolton wouldn’t testify before the House until a court case said whether former White House officials should testify despite objections from the President. He did agree to testify in front of the Senate, however, nearly every Senate Republican refused to hear his testimony.

Regarding the incident around the impeachment, an alleged quid-pro-quo, Bolton gave his first-hand accounts of the Ukraine deal and says that Trump explicitly linked the security aid to investigations involving Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.

He wrote that on Aug 20th, “I took Trump’s temperature on the Ukraine security assistance, and he said he wasn’t in favor of sending them anything until all the Russia-investigation materials related to Clinton and Biden had been turned over.” 

He added that he, Pompeo, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper tried eight to 10 times for Trump to release the aid.

In a blow to Democrats though, he was critical of the impeachment process. He said Democrats rushed the process and ran investigations that were too narrow, detailing issues like Trump allegedly pressuring Xi to buy American agricultural products to help him win farm states in the upcoming election.

He wrote, “[Trump] stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.”

During a G20 meeting in Osaka, Bolton adds that Xi allegedly told Trump unnamed figures in the U.S. were trying to start a Cold War with China. \

“Trump immediately assumed Xi meant the Democrats. Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility among the Democrats. He then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton wrote.

Bolton said he reported these issues to Attorney General Bill Barr, who allegedly shared his concern. Bolton did not say these are necessarily impeachable offenses, but he does think they were likely abuses of power in some way.

“A president may not misuse the national government’s legitimate powers by defining his own personal interest as synonymous with the national interest, or by inventing pretexts to mask the pursuit of personal interest under the guise of national interest. Had the House not focused solely on the Ukraine aspects of Trump’s confusion of his personal interests [then] there might have been a greater chance to persuade others that ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ had been perpetrated.”

In an ABC interview aired Wednesday, he told the outlet, “I don’t think he’s fit for office, I don’t think he has the competence to carry out the job. There really isn’t any guiding principle that I was able to discern; other than, ‘what’s good for Donald Trump’s reelection?’”

Reactions to Bolton’s Claims

The excerpts have caused major reactions across the political spectrum. Many online are calling Bolton a ‘coward’ for not testifying during the impeachment.

At the same time, others, like former Trump administration official Anthony Scaramucci tweeted out in defense of Bolton. He wrote that releasing this info closer to the election is more likely to yield results.

Current Trump administration members denied many of the accusations laid out. Kerri Kupec, the Department of Justice’s spokesperson, tweeted a statement on Tuesday disputing aspects of Mr. Bolton’s account.

“There was no discussion of ‘personal favors’ or ‘undue influence’ on investigations, nor did Attorney General Barr state that the President’s conversations with foreign leaders was improper.”

“If this is truly what Mr. Bolton has written, then it seems he is attributing to Attorney General Barr his own current views — views with which Attorney General Barr does not agree.”

The President himself had many opinions about the matter. He went on Twitter and sent out a series of tweets admonishing his former National Security adviser, who he called a “Wacko.” He mainly called the book a “compilation of lies and made up stories” and said that Bolton was incompetent for comments he made about North Korea.

Currently, the Department of Justice is trying to block the book’s release. They filed an emergency restraining order saying, “To be clear: Defendant’s manuscripts still contain classified information, as confirmed by some of the Government’s most senior national-security and intelligence officials.”

Although Bolton’s publisher Simon & Schuster doesn’t seem to worried.

“Tonight’s filing by the government is a frivolous, politically motivated exercise in futility. Hundred of thousands of copies of John Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened have already been distributed around the country and the world,” it said in response.

So will the book actually get released? It’s unclear at this time, but it seems like a version might surface at some point if what Simon & Schuster said is true.

See what others are saying: (New York Times) (CNN) (Washington Post)

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Donald Trump and Eldest Three Children Hit With Fraud Lawsuit From New York AG

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AG Letitia James says that the former president “falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself.” 


Lawsuit Filed Against Trump 

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced on Wednesday that she filed a civil lawsuit against former president Donald Trump and his three eldest children over allegations that they fraudulently inflated asset valuations within the Trump Organization.

Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump are all listed alongside their father in the lawsuit. Executives Jeffrey McConney and Allen Weisselberg, the latter of whom recently pled guilty to tax crimes, are also listed alongside other Trump businesses. 

“Donald Trump, with the help of his children…and senior executives at the Trump Organization, falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms than would otherwise have been available to the company, to satisfy continuing loan covenants, to induce insurers to provide insurance coverage for higher limits and at lower premiums, and to gain tax benefits, among other things,”  a press release announcing the lawsuit claimed. 

The Attorney General’s office claims that between 2011 and 2021, Trump and the Trump Organization made 200 false and misleading claims about asset values on annual financial statements.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in a State Supreme Court in Manhattan. 

“The complaint demonstrates that Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and to cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us,” James said while announcing the complaint. 

Her office is seeking to permanently ban Trump and his children from serving as an officer or director in any New York corporation and to bar Trump and his organization from entering into any New York real estate acquisitions for five years. The office is also seeking to recover $250 million in penalty payments, among other forms of relief. 

 The Office of the Attorney General has also referred the matter to the federal attorneys in New York and to the IRS for criminal investigation. 

“There aren’t two sets of laws for people in this nation: former presidents must be held to the same standards as everyday Americans,” James added in a statement on social media. 

“Trump’s crimes are not victimless,” she continued. “When the well-connected and powerful break the law to get more money than they are entitled to, it reduces resources available to working people, small businesses, and taxpayers.”

Trump Allegedly Inflated Key Assets

According to James’ release, Trump “made known through Mr. Weisselberg that he wanted his net worth on his statements to increase every year.”

“And the statements were the vehicle by which his net worth was fraudulently inflated by billions of dollars year after year,” the release continued. 

Among the assets Trump and his organization allegedly inflated was the Trump Tower Triplex, an apartment Trump allegedly claimed was 30,000 square feet when it is just around 11,000 square feet. Because of its ballooned size, the property was valued at $327 million in 2015, roughly three times as much as the sole apartment in New York City to ever sell for over $100 million at the time. 

For further comparison, the highest sale for a listing in Trump Tower at the time was only $16 million. 

Trump also allegedly claimed Mar-a-Lago was valued as high as $739 million based on the “false premise” that the property could be developed and sold for residential use. The lawsuit claims that Trump actually signed deeds donating those rights, limiting the property’s use to a social club. James and her office claim its value would fall closer to $75 million. 

Inflated Clauations Cannot Be “Excused”

“The inflated asset valuations in the Statements cannot be brushed aside or excused as merely the result of exaggeration or good faith estimation about which reasonable real estate professionals may differ,”  the lawsuit states, adding that instead, they are the result of improper methodology intentionally meant to falsely boost Trump’s net worth. 

The investigation into Trump’s alleged fraud began nearly three years ago, and the former president has repeatedly called it a politically motivated witch hunt. His attorney, Alina Habba, doubled down on that rhetoric in a statement Wednesday. 

“Today’s filing is neither focused on the facts nor the law – rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda,” Habba said. “We are confident that our judicial system will not stand for this unchecked abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our client against each and every one of the Attorney General’s meritless claims.”

For his part, Trump has blasted the lawsuit on Truth Social, calling James a “fraud” and a “crime-fighting disaster.”

Trump previously tried to impede the probe but was ultimately ordered by a judge to sit for a deposition and turn over subpoenaed documents. Reports say he pled the fifth hundreds of times during his deposition. 

See what others are saying: (Bloomberg) (The Washington Post) (Reuters)

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Hurricane Fiona Causes “Catastrophic” Damage in Puerto Rico, Leaving Many Without Power

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While power has been restored to some, more than a million remain without it as continued rainfall, flooding, and landslides are expected to cause further damage across the island.


Hurricane Fiona Wreaks Havoc

Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico Sunday, bringing heavy rains, flooding, and landslides, while also knocking out power for the entire island and killing at least one person.

Photos and videos posted on social media show floodwaters consuming major streets and engulfing cars. Some pictures show an entire bridge flooded, making it impassible. Other footage shows a different bridge entirely uprooted and a metal barrier ripped away from the road and floating down a river of floodwater.

Officials have said conditions are still too dangerous to fully evaluate the extent of the crisis. In remarks to the public, Puerto Rico’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, described the damage as “catastrophic.”

He asserted that the storm has been one of the most significant since Hurricane Maria — which hit the island almost exactly 5 years ago to the day — killing more than 3,000 people, leaving many without power for months, and causing destruction that the island is still recovering from.

Pierluisi noted that Puerto Rico has received over 30 inches of rain and that some areas have even gotten more rain than during Hurricane Maria. As of Monday afternoon, the National Gaurd has led 30 rescue operations so far, saving more than 1,000 stranded residents in 25 municipalities, according to the governor.

Pierluisi also added that more than 2,000 people were in the island’s 128 shelters, with officials further saying there is plenty of shelter space for those who need it. On Sunday, President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico, which will allow federal agencies to coordinate disaster relief.

Continued Issues As Storm Rages On

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s water authority has confirmed that just over 70% of the island is still without water. According to poweroutage.us, more than 1.3 million customers were still without power as of Monday morning.

The power company LUMA also stated that electricity had been restored to around 100,000 customers over the course of Sunday night, though it previously warned that the full restoration of power could take several days as the storm has created “incredibly challenging” conditions.

While Hurricane Fiona has passed through Puerto Rico, having now made landfall in the Dominican Republic, officials and experts say that heavy rains and further flooding are still to be expected for the next few days.

The National Weather Service has warned that “life-threatening and catastrophic flooding” as well as mudslides and landslides are expected to continue across the island. As a result, Pierluisi has urged Puerto Ricans Monday to remain home and in shelters so that officials can continue to respond to others in need.

He also noted that the areas most impacted by the hurricane include the southern part of the island, the southwest, and the mountains.

After moving through the Dominican Republic, Hurricane Fiona is expected to head towards Turks and Caicos Tuesday. The National Hurricane Center has said that the storm will continue to grow and by Wednesday, it is set to become a major hurricane — which means a Category 3 or higher.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (CNN

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Government Aid Cut Child Poverty in Half During Pandemic, Data Shows

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The reduction occurred similarly across geography, race, family type, and citizenship status.


Largest Drop in Half a Century

The United States’s child poverty rate sank to the lowest level on record last year, primarily thanks to pandemic relief measures and other government programs, according to an analysis of census data released Tuesday.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analyzed data from the Census Bureau’s supplementary poverty measure, which accounts for safety net programs and tax credits as well as regional differences in the cost of living.

From around 11% in 2019, the percentage of kids living below the poverty line fell to 9.7% in 2020 and 5.2% the year after that.

In just two years, nearly 5.5 million kids were lifted from poverty, marking an almost 60% drop in the child poverty rate.

The Center’s researchers gave most credit to the federal government’s numerous interventions in the economy, from stimulus payments and the expanded child tax credit to eviction moratoriums and expanded unemployment insurance.

Without government intervention, poverty in 2020 would have experienced its second-largest recorded increase, the Center claimed, but instead, it underwent the largest single-year decline in over half a century.

Especially impactful was the expanded child tax credit, which sent up to $300 per child to households with children every month between July and December 2021.

According to the analysis, this policy alone pulled nearly three million kids out of poverty.

But the tax credit’s expansion expired at the end of the year despite Democrats’ efforts to prolong it with Biden’s signature Build Back Better bill, which was blocked by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who reportedly told colleagues he was concerned that families might use the payments to buy drugs.

Poverty Before COVID

Child poverty has fallen by 59% since 1993, when it sat at around 28%, according to another analysis published Sunday by The New York Times and the nonpartisan group Child Trends.

They found that the decline occurred across all 50 states and D.C., as well as in different levels of poverty.

It similarly affected nearly all subgroups of children, — white, Black, Asian and Hispanic, single-parent and two-parent, immigrant and non-immigrant.

The causes driving the pre-pandemic decline included general economic improvement — low unemployment, a higher labor force participation rate among single mothers, and growing state minimum wages — but the researchers pinned government welfare programs as the dominant factor.

They specifically mentioned the earned income tax credit, social security, unemployment insurance, and nutrition and housing assistance.

Despite the positive trend, more than eight million children still live below the poverty line, and that number excludes those who live just above it but still struggle to meet basic needs.

The current poverty line sits around $29,000 for a family of four in a location with typical living costs.

Moreover, disparities still persist, with Black and Latino children about three times as likely as their white peers to be poor.

See what others are saying: (Vox) (The New York Times) (The Washington Post)

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