Posts tagged with "Ivanka Trump"

Cummings presses for records of ‘Javanka’s’ use of WhatsApp and email for White House business

March 25, 2019

Next to MAGA, it is arguable that President Donald Trump’s favorite slogan during his run for office was “Lock her up!”—in reference to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her stint as Secretary of State for the Obama administration.

So who would think that anyone who served on his campaign—or within the Trump administration—would consider using private email or texts for government business? Much less individuals from the president’s immediate family?

However, now that it has come to light that Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has “has been using the messaging application WhatsApp as part of his official White House duties to communicate with foreign leaders”—a direct quote from his own lawyer, Abbe Lowell— and that Trump senior adviser and First Daughter Ivanka has been using her private email for similar reasons, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) wants an explanation.

He also wants copies of the relevant messages for “a bipartisan investigation into the use of personal email and messaging accounts by non-career officials at the White House in violation of the Presidential Records act and White House policy,” he said in a letter to the president’s counsel, Pat Cipollone, on March 21.

In the letter, Cummings asks that Cipollone indicate by March 28 whether the White House will comply voluntarily, NBC News reports. If not, he says, he will resort to “alternative means” to obtain the information.

In the letter, Cummings accused the White House of “obstructing” his committee’s work and called the officials’ practices a potential violation of federal records laws.

The letter is part of an initial strategy by the committee chairman to use his powers to pursue lines of inquiry that have had past bipartisan support, according to committee aides who spoke with NBC News.

In March 2017, then-Republican Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz  (Utah)joined Cummings on a letter to the White House requesting information on any use of non-official email accounts being used by its officials.

White House spokesperson Steven Groves acknowledged receipt of the letter. “As with all properly authorized oversight requests, the White House will review the letter and will provide a reasonable response in due course,” Groves said.

In a letter responding to Cummings on March 21, Lowell disputed he ever told the committee that Kushner had communicated with foreign leaders through any app, the network news outlet said. “I said he has used those communications with ‘some people’ and I did not specify who they were,” said Lowell, noting that Kushner has numerous “friends and contacts abroad.”

He also insisted that Kushner “follows the protocols (including the handling of classified information) as he has been instructed to do.”

In addition, Lowell disputed reports that Ivanka Trump continued to use personal after becoming a senior adviser to her father.

The Presidential Records Act prohibits senior White House officials from creating or sending a record “using a non-official electronic message account.”

Cummings’ letter said that in October 2017, White House lawyers briefed committee staff and said several employees had acknowledged failing to forward official records from their personal email accounts within 20 days, but refused to identify who they were.

According to NBC News, the committee’s request for information is part a broad swath of demands Cummings has made of the White House. In his letter, Cummings noted that the White House has not “produced a single piece of paper” on this or any other investigation. The broad range of inquiries include questions about the administration’s immigration policy at the Mexico border, as well as hush money payments Trump made to a porn star during the 2016 election.

Research contact: @HeidiNBC

Secrets and lies: Why were we misled about Jared Kushner’s security clearance?

March 4, 2019

As Rudy Giuiliani would say, “The truth isn’t the truth.” And that statement, made last August by President Donald Trump’s attorney, now seems especially relevant to the messages spun by the White House about how the president’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, got his top -security clearance

After denying it for months, President Trump finally has admitted that he ordered aides to put through a top-security clearance for Kushner. This presents no problem; it is the president’s prerogative to do so. But why the secrecy and lies?

Let’s go back to the beginning.

According to a report by ProPublica, nearly 18 months into the new administration, Kushner’s F.B.I. background check still had not been “completed.”

Kushner had gone back to make at least 40 changes to the disclosure report that he had filed with the Office of Government and Ethics to obtain his security clearance—and had formally submitted the form at least three times in total.

Yet, Intelligence officials and Executive Office personnel staff were digging in their heels and refusing to move forward to grant Kushner the high-security clearance he needed to access sensitive White House information.

He effectively was stuck in a holding pattern, unable to move forward due to family and business connections—and unwilling to back off from his high-profile White House position.

And in fact, Kushner never would have received his clearance, if he had stuck to the “standard process,” as both the president and ‘First Daughter’ Ivanka have claimed he did.

“I was never involved with the security” clearances for Jared Kushner, the president told two reporters from The New York Times for a February 1 report, adding, “I know that there [were] issues back and forth about security for numerous people, actually. But I don’t want to get involved in that stuff.”

Daughter Ivanka said in a February 8 interview with ABC-TV’s The View, “There were anonymous leaks about there being issues, but the president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband’s clearance, zero.”

At that juncture, however, only one person could have—or would have—ended the standoff.

While the White House’s personnel security office is tasked with granting security clearances, if there is a dispute about how to move forward, the White House counsel makes the decision. However, in highly unusual cases, the president can weigh in and grant one, himself.

And that’s exactly what happened, the Times reported last week. Action only was taken to elevate the security clearance after Kushner and his wife, Ivanka, repeatedly had complained in person to the president—and Donald Trump had opted to take action himself.

In May, the president stepped in to direct his then-Chief of Staff John Kelly to overrule concerns and “fix the problem,” according to a person familiar with Kelly’s account who spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity.

With great reluctance, Kelly moved forward, enabling Carl Kline, director of the Personnel Security Office in the Executive Office to overrule security experts and approve a top-security clearance for Kushner.

However, Kelly took precautions: In the scenario described by the news outlet, “… Kelly, wrote a contemporaneous internal memo about how he had been ‘ordered’ to give Mr. Kushner the top-secret clearance.

In addition, the White House counsel at the time, Donald McGahn, wrote an internal memo outlining the concerns that had been raised about Kushner—including by the C.I.A—and how he had recommended that Kushner not be given a top-secret clearance.

Six months later, and for no clear reason, the entire process still is cloaked in secrecy.

An attorney for McGahn declined to comment. The former chief of staff, who left the administration at the beginning of this year, also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders refused to weigh in on February 28, instead saying: “We don’t comment on security clearances.”

Finally, as Fox News reported when the news of the president’s intervention hit, “A spokesman for White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner’s attorney told Fox News [on February 28] that President Trump’s son-in-law received a top-secret security clearance through ‘the regular process with no pressure from anyone.’”

Research contact @nytimes

Like father, like daughter: Ivanka Trump has ‘zero concern’ about the Russia investigation

February 11, 2019

In an interview with ABC News that was broadcast on February 8, First Daughter and White House Adviser Ivanka Trump said that she “barely” knew about the Moscow Trump Tower deal that her family’s business pursued while her father was running for president.

“Literally almost nothing,” Ivanka Trump said of her knowledge of the negotiations, during which Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly was offered a free penthouse valued at $50 million if he signed off on the deal.

“There was never a binding contract. I never talked to the—with a third party outside of the organization about it. It was one of—I mean we could have had 40 or 50 deals like that, that were floating around, that somebody was looking at. Nobody visited it to see if it was worth our time. So this was not exactly like an advanced project,” the president’s elder daughter said.

Trump further downplayed the significance of doing business in Russia during the sit-down with the network, noting that other major hotel chains have properties there.

“It’s not like it’s a strange thing, as a hospitality company or a development company, to have a hotel or a property in Russia. We’re not talking about Iran. It was Russia. And we weren’t even advanced enough that anyone had even visited the prospective project site. So it really was just a non-factor in our minds. I’m not sure that anyone would have thought of it,” she added.

But if it was not important, why did her father, then-candidate Donald Trump, deny it repeatedly?

“First of all, I don’t know Putin, have no business whatsoever with Russia, have nothing to do with Russia,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Kinston, North Carolina, on Oct. 26, 2016, ABC News noted.

Asked if she has any concerns about any of her loved ones being caught up in the ongoing Mueller probe, Ivanka Trump denied it.

“Are you concerned about anyone in your life that you love being involved?” ABC’s Abby Huntsman, co-host of the network’s morning show, The View, asked.

“I’m not. I’m really not,” Trump said.

Research contact: @JordynPhelps

Three more administration officials head toward Trump’s losers’ circle

November 15, 2018

Insiders at the White House might be humming Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next,” as—just a week after requesting the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions—the president prepares once again to reconfigure his cabinet and West Wing staff.

First on the list of goners is almost certainly Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of Homeland Security. She has long been a target of Trump’s tirades, three people close to the president told The New York Times for a November 13 report. Indeed, the POTUS had floated the idea of dismissing Nielsen ahead of his trip to Paris for World War I commemoration ceremonies.

And if Nielsen goes, one of her strong supporters may be ousted, too. Internally at the White House, the Times said, removing Nielsen is perceived as a way for President Trump to push out White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, without directly firing him.

Although, the news outlet said, Trump and Kelly supposedly arrived at a plan earlier this year for the chief of staff to stay through the 2020 election, the POTUS privately has hinted that he would not bet on Kelly remaining in his job that long.

Kelly’s likely successor already is in the queue: Nick Ayers, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, long has been seen as a prospective replacement for Kelly, if and when he makes his exit—and is favored by the president’s family members, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Trump.

Finally, another administration official who is at or near the departures gate, following a run-in with First Lady Melania Trump, is Mira Ricardel, who serves as a deputy to National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Ricardel, who previously worked at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill, had disparaged two members of the East Wing staff during the FLOTUS’s trip to Africa last month, a Times source said. She also is rumored to have tangled with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on issues of policy and Pentagon personnel.

The rift with Melania Trump hit the headlines this week when—in a highly unusual statement about West Wing personnel matters—a spokesperson for the first lady, Stephanie Grisham, addressed Ricardel’s status. “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” Grisham said.

Since the president hates interpersonal confrontation, he often delays dismissals and then delegates them to Kelly. How these next staff changes will be handled is anybody’s guess.

Research contact: @maggieNYT

Editor’s update (11/15): Mira Ricardel now has been removed from her national security job in the White House and will continue to serve the administration in another role.

Say what? The cost of poorly-chosen words

June 11, 2018

The level of discourse in our nation didn’t need to go any lower—but it did in recent weeks, as two female comics with eponymously named TV shows—Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee—spewed racist and vulgar sentiments about other women in the public eye.

Roseanne’s show was cancelled immediately by ABC-TV. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee remains on-air at TBS —and subject to both ratings, as well as sponsors’ opinions. Based on findings of a YouGov poll released on June 8, neither of them has come out unscathed: 55% of Americans say that Roseanne’s comments about former Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett were offensive, while 43% believe that Samantha’s jab at First Daughter Ivanka Trump was out of line.

The reason for the different amounts of outrage simply may be TV viewership. First, Roseanne had the highest-rated new show of the season—and fully 49% of the poll respondents said they had heard “a lot”  about the comments on her Twitter account, while Jarrett show is lesser-known and just 32% of the American public was immediately aware of her reference to Trump’s favorite child

Second, Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee have very different audiences. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to have watched the Roseanne reboot, which was the highest rated new show of the season; fewer Americans watch Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, but those who do tend to be more Democratic than not.

The two audiences don’t overlap all that much. Most of those who have watched Full Frontal have not watched Rosanne, and vice versa. There are large partisan differences in opinion about the two women, although overall opinion of both is more negative than positive. Democrats have a favorable view of Bee (39% to 13%), while Republicans are overwhelmingly negative (65% to 9%). Conversely, 51% of the country has an unfavorable opinion of Barr, with Democrats even more negative towards her (69% unfavorable to 18% favorable). Republicans in this week’s poll are narrowly favorable toward Barr; although the percentage of Republicans with an unfavorable opinion of her has increased by 14 points since early April, before the controversy.

Large majorities believe both women did the right thing by apologizing, Barr to Jarrett and Bee to Trump. But both apologies are not being taken at face value. More than twice as many people think Bee’s apology was not sincere as say it was; just under twice as many say Barr’s apology lacked sincerity as think it had it. 

Viewers of both shows remain supporters. Nearly six out of ten (58%) Roseanne viewers still would like to tune in to the show; while a full 64% of Samantha Bee’s fans still enjoy Full Frontal.

YouGov points out that the policy issue that Samantha Bee was discussing when she used the vulgar description was an immigration policy that separates children from their parents if they are caught crossing the border illegally. Americans take a hard line on illegal entry to the nation. By 50% to 35%, they approve of jailing all those who cross the border illegally. A majority agrees with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ statement: “If you don’t want your child to be separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally.”

However,t both Republicans and Democrats would prefer to keep families together, either by releasing them with a date to report back (the Democrats’ preference), or housing families together in a detention center (the GOP choice).

Research contact: kfrankovic@yahoo.com

Has Melania bolted to New York City?

May 31, 2018

The most popular member of the Trump family, Melania, seems to have hightailed it back to New York City—at least, for the summer, if not for the indefinite future— along with 12-year-old son Barron.

The 48-year-old First Lady reportedly entered Walter Reed Military Hospital on May 14 for treatment of a benign kidney condition. She is said to have been released from the medical facility on May 20, returning to the White House for a short recuperation. She did not appear at the Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery with her husband and no official explanation was provided for her absence.

But now comes word from the Inquisitr that the popular anti-Trump Twitter commentator, “Tea Pain,” has reported that Melania Trump has switched the location status on her personal Twitter account to New York City. This is fueling  speculation that she has moved out of the White House.

According to the Inquisitr report, despite a recent claim by Donald Trump that his wife Melania could be seen in a White House window, the first lady has not appeared in public since May 10, when she accompanied the President to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to welcome three  who had been held captive in North Korea back to the United States.

Rumor has is that she has settled back into Trump Tower in New York City, where she had lived since her marriage to Trump in 2005.Indeed, she waited until the end of Barron’s school year in New York to move to the U.S. capital formally five months following the POTUS’s inauguration.

Following the recent surge in publicity about Trump’s affair with porn star Stormy Daniels , his wife may feel less embarrassed when she is out of the Washington spotlight.

During Melania Trump’s stay at Trump Tower in the period between January 20 and June 10 of last year, she received Secret Service security protection that Business Insider said had cost taxpayers more than $100,000 per day—a cost that would presumably now need to go back into effect if the rumor proves accurate and she actually has moved out of the White House

According to the Inquistr, earlier this month, shortly before her disappearance from public view, a separate rumor circulated in Washington, D.C., circles, claiming that Melania was not living at the White House with her husband, but instead was residing with her parents and her son in a separate residence at another location in the city. However, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied that rumor as “1,000 percent false.”

Based on findings of a You.Gov poll released in January Melania Trump has an overall 48% popularity rating—higher than her husband’s, which came in at 36%; and seven percentage points up on Ivanka Trump.

Research contact: kfrankovic@yahoo.com

With a favorability rating lower than Trump’s, could Jared be ‘disposable’?

May 7, 2018

Daddy’s little girl may not have to face the big problems associated with the ongoing Russia investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. In fact, Ivanka Trump, who has held an unpaid position in the White House since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, is now being protected—possibly at the peril of her own husband, Jared Kushner—by her father and his new legal counsel, Rudy Giuliani.

On Fox News on May 2, Giuliani sent “a warning” to Mueller that he should not go after Ivanka, because if he does, “the whole country will turn on him.”

On the other hand,  Jared Kushner—Ivanka’s husband, as well as a senior White House aide—was characterized by the president’s lawyer as “disposable.”

“Jared is a fine man, you know that,” Giuliani said. “Men are disposable. But a fine woman like Ivanka? Come on.”

Would the American people agree? Based on an Economist/YouGov poll that was picked up by Newsweek and posted on last week, in January 2017 when Ivanka Trump entered the White House, 42% of Americans had a favorable opinion of her, and 33% had an unfavorable one. While the percentage of those who view her in a favorable light has remained unchanged since that time, the number of those with an unfavorable impression of the president’s eldest daughter has increased to 43%.

A similar scenario has played out with Jared. Considerably less well-known than his wife in 2017, Kushner  then had a favorability rating of 25%, compared with 29% who looked at him in a negative light. Since then, not only has the percentage of those viewing him favorably seen a modest drop (at 22%), but his unfavorability percentage now stands at 42%.

According to respondents, only 22% believe that Kushner can continue carrying out his high-level duties without the top security clearance that gave him access to classified information and was withdrawn in February; while 40 percent think he can’t.

Meanwhile, President Trump is walking back some of Giuliani’s other statements to the Fox Channel this week. There’s no word yet whether he POTUS intends to correct the comments made about his family members.

Research contact: @JessicaGKwong

Americans see Trump as ‘impulsive’

March 9, 2018

Americans don’t perceive a lot of careful thought in President Donald Trump’s decision-making process—at least when it comes to his public statements—and there has been little, if any, improvement in this viewpoint since last July, based on the findings of an Economist/YouGov poll  released on March 7.

A total of 81% of voters—and more specifically, 66% of Republicans and 89% of Democrats—believe the POTUS should think before he speaks.

Indeed, the researchers established that a majority of Americans— Republicans and Democrats alike—believe that Donald Trump speaks without prior consideration most of the time; and often doesn’t listen to his advisers (49% total, 35% Republicans, 75% Democrats) .

What’s more, American voters catch Trump out, at least some of the time, they claim—saying things that are incorrect. They believe that the POTUS either is wrong or is lying all of the time (25%), often (23%), or sometimes (28%). Only 12% say he rarely or never strays from the truth, while 8% are not so sure.

In the last week, the President has changed his public stance on gun control and the National Rifle Association (NRA), and has surprised GOP Congressional allies with his proposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

He also lost Communications Director Hope Hicks, one of his longest-serving staff members and confidants. Hicks, the fourth communications director in the Trump administration’s first year, admitted to the House Intelligence Committee that she sometimes had to tell “white lies” in her job. That is behavior the public finds inappropriate.

It is no surprise that Democrats are especially critical, but nearly half of Republicans agree Hicks’ statement that she told “white lies” was inappropriate. Where Republicans draw the line, however, is whether Hicks “lied about substantive issues on behalf of President Trump.” Twice as many Republicans say she did not as think she did, but more than a third say they aren’t sure what she did.

Public questioning of the President’s decision-making comes at a time when public opinions of his advisers— even some relatives—have declined since the start of his term.

The last week found two of the President’s most trusted advisers, his daughter and his son-in-law, slipping in public confidence. When Donald Trump’s term began, Ivanka Trump was viewed favorably by the public. Now, opinion is closely divided. As for her husband, Jared Kushner, he began 2017 with Americans divided in their opinion of him, but now evaluations of Kushner are decidedly negative.

Kushner’s lost his

Photo source: Alternet.org

top-secret security clearance last week, and the public isn’t sure he can do his job without it. Just 22% think he can, while 40% think he can’t.

Research contact: kfrankovic@yahoo.com

In feud between Trump and Bannon, president is backed by his base

January 5, 2018

In a stunning turn of events this week, President Donald Trump dumped and dressed down his former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, after learning that his once-close friend and adviser had disparaged him in multiple interviews for the new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” by Michael Wolff.

The break came after Bannon was quoted making scorched-earth comments about the president’s children—including observations that Donald Trump, Jr.’s June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russian representatives had been “treasonous” and that Ivanka Trump is “dumb as a brick.”

In a written statement covered by The New York Times, the president characterized Bannon as a self-promoter who had “very little to do with our historic victory” in the 2016 presidential election and was “only in it for himself.”

He denied having a close relationship with the Breitbart executive chairman, stating, “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”

The Times noted that, “Assuming it lasts — and with Mr. Trump, nothing is ever certain — the schism could test whether he or Mr. Bannon has more resonance with the conservative base that has sustained the president through a tumultuous tenure marked by low poll numbers.”

A poll taken overnight portends that Trump will receive the support of the majority of Republicans in the wake of this split—not Bannon.

“In this pissing contest between Donald and Bannon, who[m] do you support?” asked firearms distributor AR15 on a website forum.

Fully 92% of the site’s 500 responses were in favor of Trump;  the other 8% backed Bannon.

The poll can be assumed to be mostly Republican-facing, since, according to Statistic Brain, out of 76 million Americans who own a gun, 49% are Conservatives and 49% are Republicans.

Research contact: @AR15COM

Jared Kushner makes his mark as a Millennial

December 5, 2017

Despite his position of power and influence, Jared Kushner, age 36, turns out to be a typical Millennial in many ways. Not only is he a multitasker—assigned to solve a swathe of issues, from the Middle East standoff to the reinvention of government—but President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser has a soft spot for smiley faces, emoji and exclamation marks, we learned recently from Newsweek.

Emails between Kushner and the administration of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, obtained within the last couple of weeks by Politico, have been rife with multiple exclamation marks, double smiley faces, and “general sunniness.” the weekly news outlet reported.

“Thank you so much for getting involved in the issue with my friend Sandeep. He said you did a masterful job helping to create a true win win win for everyone involved!!!” he wrote to New York City Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen back in February 2015 after she helped one of his buddies with his proposal for a school.

“I think this was more effective than a letter :))” Ivanka Trump’s husband again emailed Glen following the publication of an editorial by his then-newspaper the New York Observer, which supported City Hall’s position on a real estate tax-abatement program.

And in spring 2015, Kushner emailed Glen to say that he couldn’t meet with her because he had to go on jury duty for two weeks, which he blithely described as a privilege.

“We are lucky to live in an amazing democracy!” Kushner effervescently wrote.

A Harris Poll found this past June that 36% of Millennials, ages 18 to 36, were more likely to use emojis, GIFs and stickers “to better communicate their thoughts and feelings than words do.”

This is more than twice the percentage of people over age 65 who use the symbols to communicate, Time magazine reported.

There is just one catch: Kushner may not be very smiley at the moment, as the Russia probe gains momentum. However, while Kushner has many of the same problems with Special Counsel Robert Mueller that his father-in-law does—especially when it comes to the investigation into obstruction of justice—he may get a pass, if the president uses his power of pardon.

If so, we can count on him to keep using those smiley faces for many months to come.

Research contact: mswiatkowski@politico.com