Posts tagged with "Oval Office"

The purge: Team Trump’s destruction of evidence appears to be breaking presidential records laws

December 14, 2020

Now you see it; now you don’t: A recent revelation that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield had ordered staffers to delete incriminating emails has raised questions about what’s going on in other agencies —and in the Oval Office, itself—in the final weeks of the Trump Administration, Raw Story reports.

Redfield directed a staffer, who went public last week, to delete an email from one of President Donald Trump’s political appointees, who had advised the agency to change its coronavirus report to downplay the virus’s effect on children—and government watchdogs told Salon’s Dan Froomkin that the incident may just be the tip of the iceberg.

“Donald Trump has absolutely no credibility when it comes to preserving documents,” said Lisa Rosenberg, executive director of the pro-transparency group Open the Government. “He’s been doing this all along: He deletes tweets, even though they’re public policy, he rips up notes, when they’re even taken—he rips up notes and some of his folks have to go and literally tape them back together again.”

Rosenberg urged reporters to start digging into those efforts to destroy evidence instead of waiting for that misconduct to be revealed.

“Journalists can hold folks’ feet to the fire,” she said. “They can question people and they can remind people of what their duties are to preserve these records.”

Those official documents belong to the public and government officials are legally bound to preserve them.

“Destroying or stealing documents belonging to the United States government is a crime,” said Richard Painter, former ethics counsel to President George W. Bush. “Destroying or stealing documents to cover up another crime, or activity that may be under investigation, is also a crime. Lying about what happened to missing documents is yet another crime.”

Painter added, “A departing federal official may take personal property from the office but no more. That includes perhaps some family photos — and of course that red [MAGA] cap—but everything else stays where it is. Anyone who doesn’t understand that could end up staying with the government a lot longer than anticipated or desired.”

Research contact: @RawStory

Trump to launch ‘America First’ smartphone app for his voter base

September 12, 2019

Although President Donald Trump already has “weaponized” his Twitter account to provide continual commentary on the politics, people, issues, and media that are top-of-mind in the Oval Office, soon he will have another way to get his message out to the U.S. electorate—an “America First” app.

According to a report by Politico, Trump’s reelection campaign plans to launch a smartphone app this fall to encourage his base of supporters to donate, volunteer, and reel in like-minded voters — all while providing the president with more unfiltered access to his followers.

Supporters who download the all-in-one app are expected to be able to sign up for a Make America Great Again rally, canvas a neighborhood, or call voters—maybe even register to vote as the campaign looks to turn passive supporters into activists.

But, perhaps the key feature will be the app’s use of prizes—maybe VIP seats or a selfie with the president—to persuade rabid Trumpers to recruit their friends, rewarding them as campaigns have been doing for top donors for years, according to people familiar with the plans, the news outlet says.

Trump‘s campaign didn’t respond to questions about the app, which originally had been scheduled to debut this summer. But Brad Parscale, Trump’s digital media director turned campaign manager, has spoken about his goal to directly contact and target millions more supporters than the campaign did in 2016.

“This is how Donald Trump stays president for four more years,” said Parscale, holding up his iPhone onstage at a Trump rally last year. “Now this phone is how we connect with you. It’s how we turn you into the army of Trump.”

The campaign already has acquired 200 million voter files from the Republican National Committee, Politico notes—and is spending millions on digital ads, texts, and rally attendee RSVPs to collect data on voters.

Indeed, the app could be used to gather supporter preferences, and then to create profiles that could be used to tailor specific messages to specific voters—down to the color of an ad.

What’s more, the app will not only offer a way to hear directly from Trump, but it give millions of diehard Trump voters a way to communicate with each other privately.

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who worked for the RNC during the 2016 election, told Politico that Twitter, Facebook, and other social platforms allow Trump to communicate with all types of people while the campaign app will rally the base.

“It’s not this or that. It’s all of the above,” Spicer said. “I think in this day and age, it adds one more element.”

Research contact: @politico

Trump continues to ostracize Canada in trade talks

August 28, 2018

Just months after President Donald Trump said he would withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)—which had progressively eliminated tariffs between the United States, Mexico, and Canada since 1994—progress has been announced toward a new deal.

According to an August 26 report by Bloomberg, the POTUS still is threatening to leave NAFTA in the dust—saying on Monday that he would create a trade accord with Mexico that would eliminate Canada from the bloc.

Such a new pact would need to be approved by Congress before it could become effective—and that is unlikely. Although Canada has not been a party to recent talks, the potential for a two-country deal appears small, given opposition by Mexico, American lawmakers and North American industries whose supply chains rely on all three countries, the news outlet reported.

Trump announced the agreement with Mexico in a hastily arranged Oval Office event on August 27, Stars and Stripes said, piggybacking on the Bloomberg report, with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto joining by conference call.

According to the military news outlet, Pena Nieto said he is “quite hopeful” Canada would soon be incorporated in the revised agreement, while Trump said that remains to be seen.

The agreement with Mexico centers on rules governing the automobile industry, resolving a big source of friction, but leaves aside other contentious issues that affect all three countries.

Early on Monday morning, Trump tweeted, “A big deal looking good with Mexico!”

America’s trade relations with Canada have deteriorated in recent months, as President Trump has repeatedly carped on the country’s trade practices and Canadian leaders have insisted they will not rush to sign a deal that does not work in their favor.

On August 24, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said that Canada would be “happy” to rejoin the talks once the United States and Mexico had made progress on their specific issues. “Once the bilateral issues get resolved, Canada will be joining the talks to work on both bilateral issues and our trilateral issues,” Freeland said.

Trump has continued to inject uncertainty into the NAFTA talks, believing that the strategy gives his advisers an advantage at the negotiating table, the news outlets said. He has hit Canada and Mexico with hefty tariffs on their shipments of steel and aluminum and threatened further taxes on their cars.

Research contact: @EMPosts