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THE BIG NEWS
Trump Is Even More Corrupt Than We Knew
A damning new report by House Democratic staff backed by hundreds of pages of literal receipts shows that Donald Trump's companies took in nearly $8 million from foreign governments while Trump was president. You may recall that the term of art for this type of bribe is foreign "emoluments," and they're explicitly forbidden by the U.S. Constitution. But according to House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, the Republican leading the revenge-stigation into President Joe Biden and his son Hunter – which has notably turned up bupkis – Trump's brazen and unlawful corruption is simply "legitimate business." The Washington Post explains Trump's White House racket:
According to information available to committee investigators, China made the largest total payments — $5.5 million — to Trump's private businesses. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), one of China's biggest state-owned banks, was among Trump Tower's largest office tenants during the Trump presidency. The report notes that during Trump's first year in the White House, several Chinese banks — including ICBC — came under scrutiny for financial ties to North Korea, causing the administration to weigh sanctions against them.
Spoiler alert! Trump decided not to sanction the people bribing him.
Saudi Arabia made the second-largest sum of payments to Trump businesses while he was in office, with investigators identifying at least $615,422 spent at two Trump properties. Qatar spent $465,744 at a Trump property, and Kuwait spent $303,372, according to the report.
This information won't swing many votes, but it's still important to get it all down in the public record. If that ever becomes impossible, you'll know we're really in trouble. In other Trumpdates:
- Illinois Voters Petition for Trump's Removal from Ballot "We're not engaging in politics here. We're engaging in the application of constitutional principles," says Matthew Piers, a civil rights and constitutional law attorney who helped draft the petition to the State Board of Elections. "The law must be obeyed. And if the laws aren't obeyed, you lose your constitutional democracy. It's really just that simple." via the Chicago Sun-Times and the Associated Press.
- House Democrats Demand Clarence Thomas Recuse Himself from Supreme Court Decisions on Trump's Ballot Eligibility A letter to Thomas from a group led by Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson argues "your impartiality is reasonably questioned by substantial numbers of fair-minded members of the public, who believe you wife Virginia ('Ginni') Thomas's substantial involvement in the events leading up to the January 6 insurrection, and the financial incentive it presents for your household if President Trump is re-elected, are disqualifying." via NBC News.
- Trump Aide Nearly Grabbed an FBI Agent's Gun When He Was Served With a Grand Jury Subpoena from Jack Smith Trump 2020 staffer Harrison Floyd, a Marine Corps veteran and MMA fighter, told Maryland cops "he initially fled the approaching FBI agents because he didn't see their credentials and thought they might have been reporters or 'antifa' attackers" and that he only decided against grabbing an agent's gun because the agent had backup, and "now I'm fighting two guys with guns, that's not good." via Politico.
- 52-Year-Old Proud Boy Gets 10 Years in Prison for Attacking Cops on Jan. 6 Christopher Worrell apparently faked a suicide attempt as part of what he called "a stupid delay tactic" in his case; during his bench trial, he "argued that he helped police by pepper-spraying left-wing agitators of the riot." via the Washington Post and the AP.
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Wider Middle East War Watch: Horror Upon Horror
- What Year Is It Again? U.S. Bombs Baghdad "A Pentagon spokesman, Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, described the strike as 'a necessary and proportionate action' against a militant leader 'actively involved in planning and carrying out attacks against American personnel.'" via the Washington Post.
- Democratic Republic of Congo Declines Comment on Report Netanyahu Plans to Move Palestinians There "Next week, Israel will respond to charges brought by South Africa at the International Court of Justice in The Hague that its actions in Gaza amount to genocide or a failure to prevent genocide. Ten pages of the 84-page filing are devoted to Israeli officials and soldiers, in their own words, calling for the forcible transfer of Palestinians and the destruction of Gaza." via the Post and the Associated Press.
- Residents of Northern Israel, Southern Lebanon Flee, Fearing a New Front "On Thursday, Israel's defense minister, Yoav Gallant, met in Tel Aviv with Amos Hochstein, a senior adviser to President Biden, to discuss the crisis on the Israeli-Lebanese border. Afterward, Mr. Gallant said in a statement that there was 'a short window of time for diplomatic understandings.'" via the New York Times.
- Elizabeth Warren Joins Bernie Sanders in Demanding Conditions on U.S. Aid to Israel The Democratic Sen. from Massachusetts wrote that "the U.S. cannot write a blank check for a right-wing government that's demonstrated an appalling disregard for Palestinian lives." via Politico.
Second Batch of Epstein Court Papers Unsealed
There are apparently a lot of fakes floating around online, which is predictable given public fascination with the late serial sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein's elite network, but amid the misinformation, another set of previously sealed court papers was made public yesterday. Thing is, they don't reveal much new information. The Los Angeles Times picks up one interesting anecdote:
"The 19 documents released Thursday included few new names and revelations from the lawsuit that Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's victims, filed in 2015 against [Epstein accomplice Ghislaine] Maxwell. ...
"One document released Thursday includes an allegation by Giuffre that [Bill] Clinton 'walked into' Vanity Fair and 'threatened them not to write sex-trafficing articles about his good friend J.E.'"
Per the Guardian, former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter previously denied this story – but then again, he also failed to disclose threats he received while the magazine was reporting on Epstein, such as the time someone left a dead cat's head on his stoop.
- 6th-Grader Killed, 5 Others Wounded in Shooting on First Day of School in Perry, Iowa Campaigning in Iowa with the other Republican also-rans, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis responded "that dealing with such shootings 'is more of a local and state issue,' declining to suggest any changes to federal law he'd support that would make them less frequent." via the Associated Press and NBC News.
- Ohio Disqualifies Trans State House Candidate Because She Refused to Make Her Deadname Public Democrat Vanessa Joy, 42, calls the disclosure requirement "a barrier to entry for many trans and gender-nonconforming people," adding that "for a lot of trans people, they don't want their deadnames printed. It's a safety concern." via NBC News.
- White Supremacist Billionaire Elon Musk Sues Federal Labor Board, Arguing He Has a Constitutional Right to Abuse Employees "Citing a Federalist Paper written by James Madison, [the new lawsuit filed by SpaceX] compares the NLRB's structure to 'the very definition of tyranny.'" via Politico.
- British Nazi Podcasters Imprisoned for Terror Threats to Noted Multiracial Family On one episode of their "Lone Wolf Radio" show, 40-year-old host Christopher Gibbons, who now faces 8 years in prison, "said the Duke of Sussex should be 'prosecuted and judicially killed for treason' and called Harry's son, Archie, who is now 4, a 'creature' that 'should be put down.'" via the AP.
That's how much the 0.05 percent of Americans worth more than $100 million held in untaxed profits in 2022, according to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by Americans for Tax Fairness. As HuffPost reports, the Billionaires Income Tax Act supported by President Joe Biden and carried by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee and Don Beyer of Virginia would tax unrealized gains "and could generate an estimated $500 billion in new revenue over a decade."
ON THE SHOW TODAY
1/5: It's Casual Friday, the first of 2024! Sam and Emma round up the short week in news.
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
The company you keep, eh?
Emma talks with Raga Makawi, editor at African Arguments.
"Hey you f*cking hack, if you're gonna accuse me of literal corruption, get your facts straight and man up and come accuse me to my face. You're a f*cking clown... Watters is a tool, making millions to push conspiracies on tv, and bash veterans like me who [have] barely a fraction of his net worth. Wake up America. ... [L]osers like Watters grew up with a silver spoon... [F]or some reason, people are fooled into believing he's some genuine blue-collar conservative. Yeah he's such a 'conservative' he cheated on his wife and then left her with twins while he went off with another Fox producer."
-- Texas Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw, lambasting Fox News host Jesse Watters in a series of since-deleted Instagram posts after a segment in which Watters accused Crenshaw and other members of Congress of corruption over their unusually successful stock trades.
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