The media needs to learn to focus on real scandals

While the media villagers continue to be led around by the nose by Donald Trump and his circus over his medical records, Donald Trump Releases One-Page Medical Summary During ‘Dr. Oz Show’, they are ignoring the serious reporting being done by real journalists, not the idiots in the press pool of the presidential campaigns.

scandalThe Washington Post‘s David Farenthold has done a yeoman’s job of coverage on Donald Trump’s pay-to-play scandal with Florida Attorney General General Pam Bondi, Trump pays IRS a penalty for his foundation violating rules with gift to aid Florida attorney general, and the Trump Foundation. How Donald Trump retooled his charity to spend other people’s money; Three of the mysteries in the files of the Donald J. Trump Foundation have been solved. Here’s what we know.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman had to shame his paper into even covering the scandal in a column last week. Hillary Clinton Gets Gored. Only after his column did Times reporters finally report on Trump’s pay-to-play scandal, Donald Trump’s Donation Is His Latest Brush With Campaign Fund Rules and did the Times editorialize about it. Pay to Play, Mr. Trump?

Of course, all of this excellent reporting was buried in recent days by the feckless media villagers taking their lead from the Trump campaign and obsessing about Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment, a true statement, Yes, half of Trump supporters are racist, and Clinton taking ill at the 9/11 commemoration due to a recently diagnosed bout of pneumonia. The media villagers proved that they are just as sexist as the Trump campaign by playing on the stereotype of “women are the weaker sex” and giving an echo chamber to the right-wing conspiracy theories circulating on the Internet about Clinton’s health. It was not the media’s finest hour, nor an example of “journalism.”

However, there is more breaking news today on the several Trump scandals. The Times reports New York Attorney General to Investigate Donald Trump’s Nonprofit:

New York’s attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, announced Tuesday that his office was looking into Donald J. Trump’s nonprofit foundation, which is facing intense criticism in light of a political donation it made in support of the Florida attorney general.

Mr. Schneiderman said his office was seeking to determine whether the charity had been in compliance with state laws. Mr. Trump’s campaign disclosed this month that he had paid a $2,500 penalty to the Internal Revenue Service because the 2013 contribution in Florida was sent from his nonprofit foundation, in violation of tax regulations.

Mr. Schneiderman did not give specifics of the extent of his office’s investigation but told CNN, “We have been concerned that the Trump Foundation may have engaged in some improprieties.”

Eric Schneiderman is one of the most aggressive state attorney generals in the country, and the state of New York has tougher laws on this subject than does the federal government.

Three years ago, Mr. Schneiderman sued Mr. Trump and Trump University, his for-profit educational company, saying that students had been defrauded out of thousands of dollars with false promises about what they would learn. That case is pending, and Mr. Trump has denied the claims.

Mr. Trump, who contributed $12,500 to Mr. Schneiderman’s campaign in 2010, filed an ethics complaint against him after the Trump University suit was filed, calling the fraud case a “shakedown.” The state ethics panel declined to pursue the case.

Mr. Schneiderman’s office, in response to reporters’ requests for public records, also made public its correspondence with representatives for Mr. Trump, which largely pertained to the foundation’s $25,000 donation to a political committee supporting Attorney General Pam Bondi of Florida.

Earlier on Tuesday, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee asked the Justice Department to investigate the circumstances surrounding a $25,000 donation the Donald J. Trump Foundation made to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi at a time when her office was considering whether to open a fraud investigation of Trump University. House Democrats ask for Justice investigation as New York AG looks into Trump Foundation:

The letter, signed by all the committee’s Democrats, alleges that the donation in 2013 “may have influenced Mrs. Bondi’s official decision not to participate in litigation against Mr. Trump,” and asks Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch to explore whether federal bribery or other laws might have been violated.

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said officials had received the letter from House Democrats and were reviewing it.

* * *

A Justice Department investigation would be separate from that run by the New York attorney general, though the state might have some parallels in its tax and other laws. A person familiar with the New York attorney general’s investigation said it would be broader than the donation to Bondi. The Washington Post recently has reported on a number of possible violations of IRS rules by the Trump Foundation — which appeared to have filed incorrect tax paperwork and twice to have spent charity money to buy items for Trump himself. IRS rules prohibit charity officials from spending their nonprofit’s money to buy goods or services for their own use.

The person familiar with the New York attorney general’s investigation said that inquiry would also examine an incorrect tax return, filed by the Trump Foundation in 2013, which omitted the prohibited gift to Bondi and included a nonexistent gift in its place. The same person said the inquiry would also examine cases of apparent “self-dealing” that The Post reported in which Trump used foundation money to buy both a $12,000 autographed football helmet and a $20,000 portrait of himself.

Aides to Trump have already conceded the donation to Bondi was a mistake stemming from clerical errors. Federal rules prohibit charities from donating to political candidates, and the Trump Foundation did not list the gift in its filings with the IRS in 2013. Trump paid the IRS a $2,500 penalty this year, and representatives for the Trump Organization have said he reimbursed the charitable foundation from his personal account. All of that occurred after news reports and watchdog groups began raising questions.

If the donation were meant to persuade Bondi not to involve her office in any investigations of Trump University — which is the target of several lawsuits by former customers who claim they were misled — that would potentially be more significant.

Finally, Kurt Eichenwald at Newsweek takes a deep dive into the Trump Orgnaization’s extensive global operations and explains why this should raise concerns with voters. HOW THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION’S FOREIGN BUSINESS TIES COULD UPEND U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY:

If Donald Trump is elected president, will he and his family permanently sever all connections to the Trump Organization, a sprawling business empire that has spread a secretive financial web across the world? Or will Trump instead choose to be the most conflicted president in American history, one whose business interests will constantly jeopardize the security of the United States?

Throughout this campaign, the Trump Organization, which pumps potentially hundreds of millions of dollars into the Trump family’s bank accounts each year, has been largely ignored. As a private enterprise, its businesses, partners and investors are hidden from public view, even though they are the very people who could be enriched by—or will further enrich—Trump and his family if he wins the presidency.

A close examination by Newsweek of the Trump Organization, including confidential interviews with business executives and some of its international partners, reveals an enterprise with deep ties to global financiers, foreign politicians and even criminals, although there is no evidence the Trump Organization has engaged in any illegal activities. It also reveals a web of contractual entanglements that could not be just canceled. If Trump moves into the White House and his family continues to receive any benefit from the company, during or even after his presidency, almost every foreign policy decision he makes will raise serious conflicts of interest and ethical quagmires.

The Trump Organization is not like the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the charitable enterprise that has been the subject of intense scrutiny about possible conflicts for the Democratic presidential nominee. There are allegations that Hillary Clinton bestowed benefits on contributors to the foundation in some sort of “pay to play” scandal when she was secretary of state, but that makes no sense because there was no “pay.” Money contributed to the foundation was publicly disclosed and went to charitable efforts, such as fighting neglected tropical diseases that infect as many as a billion people. The financials audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the global independent accounting company, and the foundation’s tax filings show that about 90 percent of the money it raised went to its charitable programs. (Trump surrogates have falsely claimed that it was only 10 percent and that the rest was used as a Clinton “slush fund.”) No member of the Clinton family received any cash from the foundation, nor did it finance any political campaigns. In fact, like the Clintons, almost the entire board of directors works for free.

On the other hand, the Trump family rakes in untold millions of dollars from the Trump Organization every year. Much of that comes from deals with international financiers and developers, many of whom have been tied to controversial and even illegal activities. None of Trump’s overseas contractual business relationships examined by Newsweek were revealed in his campaign’s financial filings with the Federal Election Commission, nor was the amount paid to him by his foreign partners. (The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for the names of all foreign entities in partnership or contractually tied to the Trump Organization.) Trump’s financial filings also indicate he is a shareholder or beneficiary of several overseas entities, including Excel Venture LLC in the French West Indies and Caribusiness Investments SRL, based in the Dominican Republic, one of the world’s tax havens.

Trump’s business conflicts with America’s national security interests cannot be resolved so long as he or any member of his family maintains a financial interest in the Trump Organization during a Trump administration, or even if they leave open the possibility of returning to the company later. The Trump Organization cannot be placed into a blind trust, an arrangement used by many politicians to prevent them from knowing their financial interests; the Trump family is already aware of who their overseas partners are and could easily learn about any new ones.

Many foreign governments retain close ties to and even control of companies in their country, including several that already are partnered with the Trump Organization. Any government wanting to seek future influence with President Trump could do so by arranging for a partnership with the Trump Organization, feeding money directly to the family or simply stashing it away inside the company for their use once Trump is out of the White House. This is why, without a permanent departure of the entire Trump family from their company, the prospect of legal bribery by overseas powers seeking to influence American foreign policy, either through existing or future partnerships, will remain a reality throughout a Trump presidency.

Moreover, the identity of every partner cannot be discovered if Trump reverses course and decided to release his taxes. The partnerships are struck with some of the more than 500 entities disclosed in Trump’s financial disclosure forms; each of those entities has its own records that would have to be revealed for a full accounting of all of Trump’s foreign entanglements to be made public.

You should read the entirety of Eichenwald’s report.

As Greg Sargent snarkily suggests, “Surely the media pressure on Trump to say whether his family will sever itself from the company will now match the scrutiny into the Clinton Foundation’s future.”

Or the media will just be led down the rabbit hole again with a distraction over medical records and Dr. Oz.

2 responses to “The media needs to learn to focus on real scandals

  1. captain*arizona

    unless the media acts like hillary clinton is jesus they are bias against her. wrong again. yesterday cvs edited out of their newscast what bill clinton said about how often hillary faints and collapses. today the entire media except fox (where I now have to go to find any real news on clinton) refused to report on colin powell’s e-mails on bill clinton’s moral degeneracy. the media with rare exception is running interference for the clinton campaign. thats all mad cow odonnel hays and tinkle leg matthews do is attack trump. and hillary is only mentioned with reverse.

  2. Even you, AzBM, partisan that you are (which is to be expected because this is a leftist blog – I do realize that) that almost ALL of these investigations are politically motivated.

    “We have been concerned that the Trump Foundation may have engaged in some improprieties.”

    The New York Attorney General investigation into the Trump Foundation is especially politicially motivated because he promised about six months ago that they were waiting until the September timeframe in order to have an impact on the election by exposing Trump as a crook. His comment above is particularly tepid I think, because they are on a fishing expedition to disrupt Trump in his bid for the Presidency. The same thing has been happening to Hillary with the things like the e-mails and now her health. In both of their cases the “investigations” are being conducted by opposition forces whose main goal is to keep them from being elected.

    It is a sad commentary on this election that both candidates have so many skeletons in their individual closets. Whichever one is elected leaves us with a President that isn’t worthy of the Office. All the various investigations are going to do is make us painfully aware that whomever we elect is a scoundrel that drags a lot of baggage along with them.