President Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime confidant Roger Stone on Friday, using the extensive powers of the presidency to protect a felon and political ally while also lashing out against a years-long probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
The move, which the White House announced in a lengthy and pugnacious statement, is the latest attempt by Trump to discredit special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation after it consumed much of his presidency.
While the commutation was celebrated by Trump’s most stalwart supporters, the muted response by Republican lawmakers and Stone’s own history as a self-described “dirty trickster” indicated that the president’s decision to interfere with the nation’s justice system could be fraught with political risk.
Trump, who has declared himself the president of “law and order” in recent weeks, used his unique presidential authority to undermine the unanimous finding by a jury that Stone broke the law multiple times by lying to Congress and obstructing justice.
July 10, 2020
WEST WING EYEBROW RAISER … THE SWAMP CREEPS CLOSE TO THE PRESIDENT! … On two occasions over the last few days, CHRIS COX — who runs House outreach for the White House legislative affairs office — suggested to colleagues he was doing errands and collecting political intelligence for lobbyist friends on K Street.
— COX told colleagues in the White House that he was seeking information on the executive orders that President DONALD TRUMP was readying to issue so he could brief people downtown — in other words, suggesting he wanted to give lobbyists a sneak peek.
— ON WEDNESDAY, COX emailed with fellow White House aides and officials on the National Security Council, seeking to push along an exemption for Gulfstream to deliver private jets overseas after he had a conversation with General Dynamics’ lobbyist. A spokesman for General Dynamics declined to comment.
AS THE TOP HOUSE LEG AFFAIRS OFFICIAL, COX’S job is primarily to help execute the administration’s priorities on Capitol Hill. He worked in the legislative affairs shop during GEORGE W. BUSH’S administration. Prior to joining the White House in March, COX himself was a lobbyist.
IT WAS NOTABLE TO MANY PEOPLE at all levels of the White House that he was openly collecting political intelligence for corporate special interests and lobbyists on K Street from deep inside the sanctum of the White House.
July 9, 2020
As much as $273 million in federal coronavirus aid was awarded to more than 100 companies that are owned or operated by major donors to President Donald Trump’s election efforts, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal data.
Many were among the first to be approved for a loan in early April, when the administration was struggling to launch the lending program. And only eight businesses had to wait until early May before securing the aid, according to the AP’s review of data released Monday.
The Trump-connected companies obtained the aid through the Paycheck Protection Program, which extends a lifeline to small businesses struggling to navigate the pandemic. Fast-food chains like Muy Brands, oil and gas companies and white-collar firms were all granted a slice of more than $659 billion in low-interest business loans that will be forgiven if the money is used on payroll, rent and similar expenses.
All told, the Trump supporters who run these companies have contributed at least $11.1 million since May 2015 to Trump’s campaign committees, the Republican National Committee and America First Action, a super PAC that has been endorsed by Trump, the AP review found. Each donor gave at least $20,000.
July 7, 2020
Businesses tied to President Donald Trump’s family and associates stand to receive as much as $21 million in government loans designed to shore up payroll expenses for companies struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to federal data released Monday.
A hydroponic lettuce farm backed by Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., applied for at least $150,000 in Small Business Administration funding. Albert Hazzouri, a dentist frequently spotted at Mar-a-Lago, asked for a similar amount. A hospital run by Maria Ryan, a close associate of Trump lawyer and former mayor Rudy Giuliani, requested more than $5 million. Several companies connected to the president’s son-in-law and White House adviser, Jared Kushner, could get upward of $6 million.
There’s no ban on businesses connected to Trump’s orbit receiving money. Democrats added a provision to the CARES Act excluding government officials and their family members from receiving some bailout funds, but not those from the PPP.
The firms sought funding under the Paycheck Protection Program, one of the Trump administration’s sweeping pandemic relief efforts. Created in late March by the CARES Act, it allowed small businesses — generally, those with fewer than 500 employees — to apply for loans of up to $10 million. The loans can be forgiven if used to cover payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities. […]
The New York Observer, the news website that Kushner ran before entering the White House and is still owned by his brother-in-law’s investment firm, was approved for between $350,000 and $1 million, data shows. A company called Princeton Forrestal LLC that is at least 40 percent owned by Kushner family members, according to a 2018 securities filing, was approved for $1 million to $2 million. Esplanade Livingston LLC, whose address is the same as that of the Kushner Companies real estate development business, was approved for $350,000 to $1 million. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The loans to Kushner-related companies were first reported by The Daily Beast.
In addition, up to $2 million was approved for the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy, a nonprofit religious school in Livingston, N.J., that’s named for Jared Kushner’s grandfather and supported by the family.
In April, a bank approved a loan of between $150,000 and $350,000 for the Pennsylvania dental practice of Albert Hazzouri, who golfs with Trump and frequents Mar-a-Lago, the president’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida. In 2017, Hazzouri used his access to the president to pass him a policy proposal on club stationery on behalf of the American Dental Association. He addressed the note to Trump “Dear King.” […]
Firms tied to the president’s children also stand to benefit from the program. A small indoor lettuce farming business applied for funds between $150,000 and $350,000, SBA data show. Trump Jr. had invested in Eden Green Technology, a vertical farming company just south of Dallas, whose co-chair, Gentry Beach, was a Trump campaign fundraiser. […]
Monday’s list included a Manhattan law firm whose marquee attorney has fiercely defended Trump for almost two decades. Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP — whose managing partner, Marc Kasowitz, was at one point the president’s top lawyer in the special counsel’s Russia investigation — was set to receive between $5 million and $10 million from Citibank, data show. (The largest loan a company could seek was $10 million.)
Once dubbed the “Donald Trump of lawyering” by The New York Times, Kasowitz represented Trump in the Trump University fraud lawsuit. and during the 2016 campaign he helped keep Trump’s 1990 divorce from being unsealed. ProPublica reported three years ago that Kasowitz bragged to friends that he made between $10 million and $30 million per year. […]
The loans helped a hospital executive tightly linked to another Trump attorney and confidant, Rudy Giuliani. Cottage Hospital, a 25-bed critical access facility in Woodsville, New Hampshire, received between $2 million and $5 million in PPP loans. The hospital’s CEO, Maria Ryan, is a longtime close associate of Giuliani’s.
July 6, 2020