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Trump Threatens to Send Feds to More US Cities Despite Opposition From Mayors

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  • President Trump has faced widespread criticism for sending federal agents to Portland to crackdown on ongoing protests against racial injustice.
  • On Monday, Trump said he wanted to send agents to a number of cities, “All run by liberal Democrats,” including Chicago and New York.
  • Administration officials have said deployments to Chicago are already in the works, though they are to deal with gun violence.
  • Illinois officials initially rejected the plan, but yesterday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she supported help from the feds as long as it was a partnership between them and local officials, unlike in Portland.

Portland as a Test Case

As violence clashes between protestors and federal law enforcement agents continue to shake Portland, President Donald Trump is threatening to send feds to more U.S. cities, despite widespread objections from numerous mayors. 

Earlier this month, the Trump administration deployed federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Marshals to Portland in order to respond to the protests against racial injustice that have been ongoing for over 50 days since the death of George Floyd.

The move reinvigorated the protests, which had largely died down before the arrival of the federal agents. As a result, state and local leaders in Oregon have accused the federal agents of escalating the violence and demanded that they be removed.

Numerous leaders across the country have also condemned the move and questioned its legality. Some have called the deployment of the federal officers to Portland a political stunt for Trump’s own political gain as he falters in the polls heading into the November election.

However, Trump and his administration have remained steadfast in their decision, and according to a DHS official who spoke to Bloomberg on Tuesday, even more agents have been deployed to Portland as the clashes have grown.

Other critics and experts have also expressed concerns that what is happening in Portland is just a test case, and that Trump is simply trying out these tactics there before moving on to other cities.

“My sense is they chose Portland because if they had rolled this out in, say, Minneapolis, it would mean to come in direct confrontation with many more Black activists,” Joe Lowndes, a professor of political science at the University of Oregon told USA Today. With Portland, it’s a whiter city and they can demonize Antifa or the idea of anarchist looters and kind of take race out of it in a direct way, and make it seem more sympathetic.’’

Trump Threatens to Send Feds to More Cities

Regardless of the political incentives, the idea that Portland is just a trial-run seems to become more and more realistic. 

On Monday, reports began circulating that DHS was making plans to deploy about 150 federal agents in Chicago this week. Later that day, Trump himself told reporters he was considering expanding the deployments.

“I’m going to do something,” he said. “Because New York and Chicago and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore and all of these, and Oakland is a mess. We’re not going to let this happen in our country. All run by liberal Democrats.”

On Tuesday, an administration official told Bloomberg that a formal announcement on more deployments is expected to be made at some point this week. Meanwhile, preparations are already being made to send officers to Chicago.

However, according to law enforcement officials familiar with the plan, rather than being sent to crack down on protests, the feds are being deployed to Chicago to focus on gun violence which has surged in the city over the last year.

Leaders React 

While no official public announcement has been made by the Trump administration, state and local leaders in Illinois have still pushed back against the alleged plan, with many top officials also seeming to indicate that this is already something in the works.

During a press conference Monday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker slammed the move.

“This is a wrong-headed move on the part of Donald Trump, on the part of Homeland Security,” he said. “I have put a call into the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. He has refused to call us back.”

“We’re going to do everything we can to prevent them from coming, and if they do come, we’re going to do everything we can from a legal perspective to get them out,” he added.

Those remarks also appeared to echo similar ones made by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot the day before.

“Our democracy is at stake, and I’ll be darned if I’m going to let anybody – even if their name is Mr. President – bring those kind of troops to our city and try to take on our residents,” she told reporters. “That’s not going to happen in Chicago. And I’m going to use every tool at my disposal to stop them.”

Also on Monday, Lightfoot, along with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and the mayors of several other cities, wrote a letter to the administration rejecting the deployment of federal forces in their cities, and demanding they be withdrawn.

“We write to express our deep concern and objection to the deployment of federal forces in our cities, as those forces are conducting law enforcement activities without coordination or authorization of local law enforcement officials,” the mayors wrote. “The unilateral deployment of these forces into American cities is unprecedented and violates fundamental constitutional protections and tenets of federalism.”

“Furthermore, it is concerning that federal law enforcement is being deployed for political purposes,” the letter continued. “The President and his administration continually attack local leadership and amplify false and divisive rhetoric purely for campaign fodder.

But in a press conference Tuesday, Lightfoot also said that she welcomed a federal partnership to crack down on gun violence, though she reiterated that the federal deployment cannot mirror that of Portland’s.

“What I understand at this point, and I caveat that, is that the Trump administration is not going to foolishly deploy unnamed agents to the streets of Chicago,” she said. “We have information that allows us to say, at least at this point, that we don’t see a Portland-style deployment coming to Chicago.”

“Unlike what happened in Portland, what we will receive is resources that are going to plug in to the existing federal agencies that we work with on a regular basis to help manage and suppress violent crime,” she added. “I’ve been very clear that we welcome actual partnership, but we do not welcome dictatorship.”

DHS Officials Speak Out

However, it is not just mayors that have voiced their opposition to the deployments. On Tuesday, Buzzfeed News reported that interviews they conducted of 17 DHS employees who requested anonymity “reveal that many at the agency disagree with the show of force.”

“This administration’s utterly transparent fearmongering of sending federal officers out against peaceful protesters in Portland and Chicago has no purpose other than to support Trump’s reelection bid,” one employee said.

“It is blatantly unconstitutional and an embarrassment to the agency and the career civil servants who work here.”

Others also told the outlet that the move harms the public’s perceptions of the DHS, thus hampering its effectiveness, with one employee saying the deployments “absolutely hurts the reputation of the agency. Most people have no clue what we do, but now they will have this ham-fisted response in their mind as they think about CBP.”

See what others are saying: (Bloomberg) (USA Today) (The Wall Street Journal)

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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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