An ‘impeachment investigation’ awaits the Grifter-in-chief enriching himself at taxpayer expense (Updated)

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The most corrupt and criminal administration in American history knows no bounds to its avarice and greed. The grifter-in-chief is helping himself to public tax dollars to enrich the Trump crime family’s failing businesses in order to keep them afloat while he still can.

Politico has this disturbing report. Air Force crew made an odd stop on a routine trip: Trump’s Scottish resort:

In early Spring of this year, an Air National Guard crew made a routine trip from the U.S. to Kuwait to deliver supplies.

What wasn’t routine was where the crew stopped along the way: President Donald Trump’s Turnberry resort, about 50 miles outside Glasgow, Scotland.

Since April, the House Oversight Committee has been investigating why the crew on the C-17 military transport plane made the unusual stay — both en route to the Middle East and on the way back — at the luxury waterside resort, according to several people familiar with the incident. But they have yet to receive any answers from the Pentagon.

The inquiry is part of a broader, previously unreported probe into U.S. military expenditures at and around the Trump property in Scotland. According to a letter the panel sent to the Pentagon in June, the military has spent $11 million on fuel at the Prestwick Airport — the closest airport to Trump Turnberry — since October 2017, fuel that would be cheaper if purchased at a U.S. military base. The letter also cites a Guardian report that the airport provided cut-rate rooms and free rounds of golf at Turnberry for U.S. military members.

Taken together, the incidents raise the possibility that the military has helped keep Trump’s Turnberry resort afloat — the property lost $4.5 million in 2017, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018.

“The Defense Department has not produced a single document in this investigation,” said a senior Democratic aide on the oversight panel. “The committee will be forced to consider alternative steps if the Pentagon does not begin complying voluntarily in the coming days.”

On previous trips to the Middle East, the C-17 had landed at U.S. air bases such as Ramstein Air Base in Germany or Naval Station Rota in Spain to refuel, according to one person familiar with the trips. Occasionally the plane stopped in the Azores and once in Sigonella, Italy, both of which have U.S. military sites, the person added.

But on this particular trip, the plane landed in Glasgow — a pitstop the five-man crew had never experienced in their dozens of trips to the Middle East. The location lacked a U.S. base and was dozens of miles away from the crew’s overnight lodging at the Turnberry resort.

Had the crew needed to make a stop in the U.K., Lakenheath Air Base is situated nearby in England. The layover might have been cheaper, too: the military gets billed at a higher rate for fuel at commercial airports.

One crew member was so struck by the choice of hotel — markedly different than the Marriotts and Hiltons the 176th maintenance squadron is used to — that he texted someone close to him and told him about the stay, sending a photo and noting that the crew’s per diem allowance wasn’t enough to cover food and drinks at the ritzy resort.

The revelation that an Air Force mission may have helped line the president’s pockets comes days after Vice President Mike Pence was pressed about his decision to stay at Trump’s property in Doonbeg, Ireland, despite its location hundreds of miles away from his meetings in Dublin. The Oversight Committee is also investigating Pence’s stay at the resort.

More about the complicity of this bootlicker, Mike Pence. The Washington Post reports House panel probing whether Pence’s stay at Trump resort in Ireland improperly ‘enriched’ the president:

The House Oversight Committee has launched an investigation into whether President Trump improperly benefited financially from Vice President Pence’s stay this week at a Trump golf resort while on a taxpayer-funded, official trip to Ireland.

Pence and his entourage spent two nights at the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg, a small town on Ireland’s southwest coast, and traveled in between to meetings with Irish leaders in Dublin, on the opposite side of the country. [120.94 miles / 194.64 km between Shannon and Dublin airports by air.]

“The Committee does not believe that U.S. taxpayer funds should be used to personally enrich President Trump, his family, and his companies,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) wrote in a letter Thursday to Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, seeking documents with itemized costs of the trip and communications about its planning.

Similar letters were sent to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney; Secret Service Director James M. Murray; and chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg. The letter to Weisselberg sought information on revenue generated for Trump’s company from Pence’s trip, including room rates charged to Pence and his staff.

In his letters, Cummings said the committee is investigating “possible conflicts of interest and waste of taxpayer funds,” as well as “whether these expenses may have violated the Domestic Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which provides that the President may receive a salary during his tenure in office, but that ‘he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.’ ”

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On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee also sent letters to the White House and the Secret Service seeking information related to Trump’s promotion of the Trump National Doral Miami as a possible venue to host the next gathering of world leaders known as the Group of Seven summit — an investigation previously announced by the panel.

“Potential violations of the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution are of grave concern to the Committee as it considers whether to recommend articles of impeachment,” wrote Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the committee’s chairman, and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), a subcommittee chairman.

      • The Foreign Emoluments Clause, Article I, Section 9, Clause 8, also called the Title of Nobility Clause and affects the executive branch.
      • The Domestic Emoluments Clause, Article II, Section 1, Clause 7, also called the Presidential Emoluments Clause and affects the President’s salary.

White House officials have offered conflicting accounts about the gen­esis of Pence’s stay at Trump’s family-owned property in Ireland.

Short, his chief of staff, told reporters that Trump himself had suggested that Pence’s team stay there after hearing about Pence’s Ireland trip. Pence’s office later clarified that “at no time did the President direct our office to stay at his Doonbeg resort.”

The next day Trump denied any involvement in the decision.

“I had no involvement, other than it’s a great place,” Trump said. “It wasn’t my idea for Mike to go there.”

Right, just like he did not take a Sharpie to a National Wether Service map. Liar.

In his letters, Cummings noted that “[r]eports indicate that [Trump’s] property has been a problematic investment for the Trump Organization and has failed to turn a profit in years.”

Trump bought the Doonbeg course out of foreclosure in 2014, paying $11.9 million. The course then reported losing more than $1 million every year from 2014 to 2017, according to Irish corporate records.

In 2018, the course’s revenue rose slightly — up about 2 percent from $14.2 million to $14.5 million, according to Trump’s latest U.S. financial disclosures. But those disclosures do not show whether the course turned a profit, and the Irish records that would show profit or loss are not yet available.

In his letter to the White House, Cummings also seeks documents related the costs of that trip to taxpayers, citing a news report that it cost $3.6 million.

All of this is building to this welcome news coming next week. House Judiciary panel preparing vote to define Trump impeachment probe:

The House Judiciary Committee is preparing to take its first formal vote to define what Chairman Jerry Nadler calls an ongoing “impeachment investigation” of President Donald Trump, according to multiple sources briefed on the discussions.

The panel could vote as early as Wednesday on a resolution to spell out the parameters of its investigation. The precise language is still being hammered out inside the committee and with House leaders. A draft of the resolution is expected to be release Monday morning.

The issue was raised Friday during a conference call among the committee’s Democrats. A source familiar with the discussion said any move next week would be intended to increase the “officialness” of the ongoing probe, following a six-week summer recess in which some Democrats struggled to characterize to their constituents that the House had already begun impeachment proceedings. Democrats are hopeful that explicitly defining their impeachment inquiry will heighten their leverage to compel testimony from witnesses.

Though the language of the resolution is still in flux, some sources said it could incorporate elements of traditional impeachment probes, such as offering access to the president’s attorneys or providing for more time to question witnesses. There was discussion among some Democrats on Friday’s call about the strength of the language in the resolution, according to sources briefed on the call.

Advocates of opening a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump have clamored for the Judiciary Committee to more clearly spell out the contours of its investigation — a move they hope strengthens the House’s hand in a handful of court cases to obtain evidence and testimony against the president.

In early August, Nadler publicly declared that his committee had already launched impeachment proceedings despite taking no formal vote to do so. The claim sparked confusion, even among some Democrats, who sought clarification as they faced questions from progressive constituents about the status of the House’s effort to recommend Trump’s removal from office.

The committee has also repeatedly described an ongoing “impeachment investigation” in court filings submitted during the recess, part of legal efforts to compel testimony from witnesses to allegations that Trump attempted to obstruct an investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. By declaring impeachment under active consideration, the committee has sought to convince judges of the urgency of providing Democrats with the evidence they’re seeking.

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In addition to probing potential obstruction of justice by Trump, the Judiciary Committee is weighing allegations that Trump [unindicted coconspirator “Individual-1”] directed hush money payments to women accusing him of extramarital affairs in the weeks before the 2016 election, as well as evidence that Trump has sought to steer U.S. and foreign government spending to his luxury resorts, raising questions about whether he has violated the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.

Until now, Trump-related investigations had been a patchwork effort by six congressional committees. The Ways and Means Committee, for example, is pursuing Trump’s tax returns in court. The Financial Services Committee and Intelligence Committee are seeking Trump’s financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One. The Foreign Affairs Committee has sought details about Trump’s interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who the intelligence community has assessed sought to boost Trump’s 2016 electoral prospects. And the Oversight Committee had initially taken the lead on allegations about hush money payments, calling Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen to testify in February before he went to prison on charges connected to the scheme.

The Judiciary Committee had mostly kept focused on obstruction of justice and the fallout from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, made public in April, that revealed hundreds of contacts between Russians and Trump campaign associates, as well as repeated attempts by Trump to constrain or shut down the probe altogether. Mueller testified publicly to the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in late July, days before the House departed for its six-week recess.

But his testimony uncorked a surge of support for launching formal impeachment proceedings. More than half of the House’s 235 Democrats now support taking that step. The number has grown steadily, even after Nadler suggested impeachment proceedings had begun.

But the momentum has been tempered by Pelosi, who warned Democrats in an Aug. 23 call that public sentiment hasn’t kept pace. Polls show most Americans still generally oppose opening impeachment proceedings, even though Democratic voters largely support the move.

Dear Speaker Pelosi: Prosecutors do not take an opinion poll to decide whether or not to prosecute someone for crimes when there is evidence that crimes have been committed. Putting political concerns ahead of the constitutional duty to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution is simply wrong, and indefensible. Defend the rule of law and the Constitution. Duty calls. History will judge you.

Many of the Democrats who declared support for an impeachment inquiry did so because they said it would help break through Trump’s stonewalling of the six committee investigations [obstruction of Congress, an impeachable offense]. They argued that without formal impeachment proceedings, Trump could continue to claim blanket immunity for his top aides and allies, preventing them from testifying or complying with congressional subpoenas. Trump has blocked several of his most senior aides — including former officials who provided some of Mueller’s most damaging testimony — from speaking to Congress.

They include former White House counsel Don McGahn, who told Mueller about multiple attempts by Trump to have the special counsel removed and described an atmosphere of chaos in the West Wing shortly after Mueller’s appointment. They also include former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, who provided limited testimony to the committee but refused to discuss her tenure in the White House.

All of these court actions are coming to a head in the coming weeks. A formal impeachment inquiry will require the courts to expedite these court proceedings because the Judiciary Committee is pursuing an impeachment investigation, and needs the evidence and testimony of witnesses.

UPDATE: Why Congress needs Trump’s financial records. Mother Jones has an investigative report on a mysterious $50 million loan that Donald Trump has never explained. Donald Trump Has Never Explained a Mysterious $50 Million Loan. Is It Evidence of Tax Fraud?

[F]or years, one Trump loan has been particularly mystifying: a debt of more than $50 million that Trump claims he owes to one of his own companies. According to tax and financial experts, the loan, which Trump has never fully explained, might be part of a controversial tax avoidance scheme known as debt parking. Yet a Mother Jones investigation has uncovered information that raises questions about the very existence of this loan, presenting the possibility that this debt was concocted as a ploy to evade income taxes—a move that could constitute tax fraud.

Here’s what is publicly known about this mystery debt: On the personal financial disclosure forms that Trump must file each year as president, he has divulged that he owes “over $50 million” to a company called Chicago Unit Acquisition LLC. The forms note that this entity is fully owned by Trump. In other words, Trump owes a large chunk of money to a company he controls.

The disclosures state that this loan is connected to Trump’s hotel and tower in Chicago, and the forms reveal puzzling details about Chicago Unit Acquisition: It earns no revenue—suggesting that Trump was not paying interest or principal on the loan—and Trump assigns virtually no value to Chicago Unit Acquisition. Something doesn’t add up. Under basic accounting principles, a firm that is owed money and has no outstanding debt should be worth at least as much as it is owed. The loan has another odd feature: It is identified as a “springing” loan, a type of loan made to borrowers who are viewed as credit risks. Known sometimes as “bad boy” loans, these agreements allow the lender to impose harsh repayment terms if certain criteria aren’t met. These are not the type of loan terms that someone is likely to impose on himself.

UPDATE 10/10/19: The New York Times reports, Trump Had Deal With Scotland Airport That Sent Flight Crews to His Resort. Politico follows up its reporting, Air Force crews have lodged at Trump’s Scottish resort at least 4 times. And CNN reports the US Air Force orders review of all international layover stays following bookings at Trump Scotland resort:

According to Air Force statistics between 2015 and 2019, Air Mobility Command aircraft stopped at Prestwick a total of 936 times, and 659 of those stops involved overnight stays. The statistics do not say which hotel was used during those overnight stops, but the number of overnight stays in the area has increased since Trump took office.

The number of overnight stops at Prestwick has steadily increased. There were 40 in 2015, 75 in 2016, 116 in 2017, 208 in 2018 and 220 through August 2019.




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