I'm pretty certain Elizabeth Warren's bill to force Trump to avoid conflicts of interest isn't going anywhere. The bill would force Trump (and Pence)– and their spouses and dependent children– to divest any financial assets that pose a conflict of interest and place the money into a blind trust. If it were to pass and be signed into law, it would make Trump immediately impeachable, defining his stance on his conflicts as a “high crime or misdemeanor.”
Meanwhile, last night, el Presidente-elect met with Jack Ma. Jack's a billionaire, founder of Alibaba, China's Amazon (plus)– in fact, the richest billionaire, not just in China, but in Asia. I don't know how accurate that is, since there are a lot of shady billionaires in places like Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia and other countries where national wealth often finds its way into personal bank accounts, but let's just acknowledge that Jack's loaded. Trumpanzee, who should ask him why Google, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and DWT are all blocked there, addressed the press after the Jack pow-wow. We had a great meeting… And a great, great entrepreneur, one of the best in the world. And he loves this country and he loves China.” Jack shared his plan with Trumpanzee to create a million new jobs in the U.S. by teaching American small businesses to see stuff in China via Alibaba. Trumpanzee said he and Jack would do “some great things” together.
I was in China yesterday. China wants to turn the Beijing airport into the world's biggest air-hub, replacing Heathrow. With that in mind, I noted that Beijing airport is the most irrational and dysfunctional airport I'm ever experienced, a poster child for gross inefficiency and, on top of everything else, absolutely Orwellian. I'd avoid it at all costs in the future. While late planes in and late planes out caused me have to suffer for hours and hours in a sub-par business lounge, I read a blatant government mouthpiece, the Global Times. The Global Times wasn't dancing around edges of Trump's conflicts of interest– and how China plans to take advantage of them. I'd be laughing at this report… if it was about anyone else but Trump and his crew of criminal miscreants. In the report, Yang Sheng starts off talking about the Taiwan problem Trump has decided to stoke for God-knows-what-reasons, but keep reading, even if you don't care about Taiwan per se.
U.S. president-elect Donald Trump and his team said they will not meet with Taiwan island's leader Tsai Ing-wen during her stopover in the U.S., but Chinese observers said they prefer to see his actions.
As China's influence over the U.S. grows, Trump will learn his lesson and become more aware of China's bottom line, they said.
The Associated Press (AP) quoted Trump transition spokeswoman Jessica Ditto as saying on Saturday that “the president-elect would not be meeting with the Taiwanese leader while she is in the U.S., nor will members of his transition team.”
Trump sounded unaware of Tsai's trip when he was asked about it ion New Year's Eve. “Nobody's ever mentioned that to me,” he told reporters. “I'm not meeting with anybody until after January 20, reported.
“Trump's words are not very trustworthy as he has no basic knowledge and sense of the U.S.' position on cross-Straits relations., sometimes sounding very irrational on Twitter. Compared with his words, his actions better reflect his mindset,” said Chu Yin, an associate professor at the University of International Relations.
Although Trump and his team claim they will not meet Tsai while in the U.S., Taiwan media still says a lunch meeting with people from Trump's team is scheduled with Tsai in her U.S. stopover.
…Chen Yixin, a political expert at Taiwan-based Chinese Culture University, said that “the possibility of a Trump-Tsai meeting is almost zero percent,” because Trump would not stoop to fly to Houston or San Francisco only to meet with her, but members of his team are not yet officials, so there's a possibility they could meet with Tsai.
Chu added China enjoys a strong influence over the U.S. so Trump will learn his lesson if he keeps challenging China's bottom line.”For instance, his family members also have business dealings with China.”
The New York Times reported that Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and advisor, is working on a deal with Anbang Insurance Group, a financial Chinese behemoth with estimated assets of $285 billion. “And a president-elect or president, if he challenges China, not only will the U.S. feel the impact, but his family and businesses as well,” Chu added.
|Trump honored in Shanghai with a statue befitting his stature|
Yeah, Jared's working on a deal, alright. Everyone in Trump's circle is working on deals. But let's focus on Kushner for a moment. Jerry Nadler, Ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee did today– with a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch about his glaring conflicts of interest. This is the letter:
Dear Attorney General Lynch and Director Shaub:
We write to ask that your review a number of legal issues concerning reports that Jared Kushner, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s son-in-law, will be appointed to a White House position as senior adviser to the President. Given the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) central role in enforcing ethics and conflicts-of-interest laws applicable to Executive Branch officials, we ask for your prompt attention to these matters.
To begin with, Mr. Kushner’s appointment may run afoul of 5 U.S.C. § 3110, the Federal anti-nepotism statute. Under that statute, a “public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving” a relative. The statute defines the term “public official” to include the President and defines the term “relative” to include a “son-in-law.” While the anti-nepotism statute does not specify, other statutes that apply to executive agency employees, such as the Hatch Act, have been interpreted to apply to White House staff (excluding the President and Vice President). In this case, given the express inclusion of the President as a “public official” under the anti-nepotism statute, there is a strong case to be made that the White House is an “agency” for purposes of the anti-nepotism statute and that it would apply to bar Mr. Kushner’s appointment as a White House staff member.
As you know, federal government officials are also required to recuse themselves from matters in which they have a financial interest. While the Washington Post reported today that Mr. Kushner plans to resign from his position overseeing his family’s real estate business and divest “substantial assets” in preparation for accepting a potential White House position, it is as yet unclear whether these steps would be sufficient to avoid potential conflicts. His attorney has indicated that he would “recuse himself from any matters having a direct impact on his remaining financial interests,” suggesting that he would not completely divest himself of assets that could raise a conflict of interest. Also, there is no indication that his wife, Ivanka Trump, would divest her ownership interest in the Trump Organization or any other financial interests that could further raise potential conflicts of interest in her father’s Administration.
Moreover, Mr. Kushner’s White House position may allow him to influence policy that benefits his business interests. For example, it has been reported that he will meet with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan this evening to discuss tax policy which, at a minimum, raises the appearance that he may be using his public office for private gain– namely adopting tax changes which will benefit Mr. Kushner and his family.
In addition, should Mr. Kushner choose not to be compensated for his role as a White House “senior adviser” in an attempt to circumvent both the anti-nepotism statute and the general prohibition on Executive Branch officials seeking to use their offices to enrich themselves, his appointment may violate the Anti-Deficiency Act. Indeed, this concern may apply with respect to the appointment of other individuals who reportedly will fill positions as unpaid advisers to the incoming Administration, such as Carl Icahn and Corey Lewandowski, and we ask that you review the lawfulness and appropriateness of their circumstances as well.
In light of the foregoing, and given the potential speed of developments, we urge DOJ to consider our concerns and to take any action it may deem appropriate promptly.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis