Posts tagged with "Politico"

Trump fraudulently inflated his net worth by billions of dollars, says New York AG

September  1, 2023

Donald Trump fraudulently inflated his net worth by as much as $2.2 billion per year, New York State officials said in court filings unsealed on Wednesday, August 30,  ahead of his upcoming civil fraud trial, reports Politico.

The new estimates came in filings from the New York State Attorney General’s office, which is suing Trump, some of his adult children and his business empire for falsifying his net worth in an effort to obtain favorable terms from banks and insurance companies.

The trial is set to begin on Monday, October 2.

As part of its motion for partial summary judgment in the case, the attorney general’s office provided an estimated range of how much Trump had fraudulently inflated his net worth—saying he falsely boosted it by between $812 million to $2.2 billion (or 17%-39%) in each year from 2011 to 2021.

A lawyer for Trump didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

The lawsuit accuses Trump and his children, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, of creating more than 200 misleading evaluations of the company’s finances, as well as other forms of misrepresentation. For example, the lawsuit alleges that Trump falsely inflated the square footage of his apartment from 11,000 to 30,000, resulting in him declaring the apartment to be worth $327 million. That estimate would make the apartment worth significantly more than any apartment ever sold in New York City, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Letitia James last year, seeks $250 million in damages and a lifetime bar on the Trumps from serving as officers or directors in any New York companies.

Research contact: @politico

GOP, McCarthy on collision course over expunging Trump’s impeachments

July 25, 2023

House Republicans increasingly find themselves on a collision course over efforts to expunge the impeachments of former President Donald Trump—a battle that pits hardline conservatives who are pressing for a vote against moderates who already are warning GOP leaders that they’ll reject it, reports The Hill.

The promised opposition from centrist Republicans all but ensures that the resolutions would fail if they hit the floor. And it puts Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) in a no-win situation.

If he doesn’t stage the vote, he risks the ire of Trump and his allies. If he does, the measures would be shot down—validating Trump’s impeachments just as his legal troubles are piling up.

The issue is just the latest in a long string of debates challenging McCarthy’s ability to keep his conference united while Trump—the GOP’s presidential front-runner who’s also facing two criminal indictments—hovers in the background.

The expungement concept is hardly new. A group of House Republicans—including Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (New York)—introduced legislation last month designed to erase Trump’s impeachments from the historical record.

But the debate reached new heights last week, when Politico reported that McCarthy—after suggesting publicly that Trump is not the strongest contender for the GOP presidential nomination—raced to make amends, in part by promising to vote on expungement before the end of September.

McCarthy has denied he ever made such a promise. But the denial only magnified the issue in the public eye—and amplified the conservative calls for the Speaker to bring the measure for a vote. 

“It should definitely come to the floor and be expunged,” said Representative Byron Donalds (R-Florida), a member of the Freedom Caucus and vocal Trump ally.

“I’m hoping to see it get done before August recess,” Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) a lead sponsor of one of the resolutions, told reporters, later adding that “these are impeachments that should’ve never happened, and so we would like to expunge them.”

The expungement push is anathema to many moderate Republicans—particularly those facing tough reelections in competitive districts, who are treading carefully not to link themselves too closely with Trump.

Some of those lawmakers are already vowing to vote against the measure if it hits the floor—all but guaranteeing its failure given the Republicans’ narrow House majority—and some of them are proactively reaching out to GOP leaders to warn them against staging such a vote.

“I have every expectation I’ll vote against expungement, and I have every expectation that I will work to bring others with me,” said one moderate Republican; who requested anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic, noting “I think my views represent a fair number of principled conservatives.”

“We can’t change history. I mean, that impeachment vote happened. And I just don’t think we should be engaged in the kind of cancel culture that tries to whitewash history.”

 Research contact: @thehill

Representative Adam Schiff raises millions for Senate run after censure

July 7, 2023

Representative Adam Schiff (D-California) announced on Wednesday, July 5, that his campaign had raised $8.1 million during the second fundraising quarter, leveraging his recent censure by House Republicans, reports NBC News.

Schiff’s campaign sent out more than three dozen fundraising pitches mentioning his censure—which Republicans passed late last month after accusing Schiff of lying about former President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign. Schiff urged his supporters to help him “fight back against these relentless attacks,” per one recent fundraising email.

Schiff’s second quarter haul, first reported by Politico, includes the money his campaign raised from April through June. His campaign reportedly ended the quarter with $29.5 million on hand—potentially expanding his financial advantage in the race. Campaign fundraising reports are due to the Federal Election Commission by July 15, and information released before that point comes from the campaign, itself, instead of official reports.

Schiff’s Democratic opponents running to replace retiring Senator Dianne Feinstein have not yet released their latest fundraising numbers. Representative Katie Porter‘s campaign had nearly $9.5 million on hand as of March 31, while Representative Barbara Lee‘s campaign had nearly $1.2 million in its account. Silicon Valley executive Lexi Reese also announced last week that she is running for the Senate as a Democrat.

Under California’s top two primary system, candidates from all parties compete on the same primary ballot. The top two vote-getters advance to the November election.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Miami GOP Mayor Francis Suarez jumps into 2024 presidential race

June 16, 2023

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is joining the crowded field of Republicans running for president, becoming the first Hispanic in the race, reports Politico.

Suarez, 45—who believes that he can broaden the appeal for Republicans nationally—filed official federal paperwork on Wednesday, June 14. On Thursday morning, he appeared on Good Morning America to announce his bid.

“I’m running for president because I think I have a different message than what other candidates have,” he said. “I think what I noticed in the last 24 hours … just an outpouring of support because people want someone who can unify them.”

Suarez joins former President Donald Trump and Governor Ron DeSantis as a candidate from Florida, a one-time battleground state that has become more and more reliably Republican. Miami voters have twice elected Suarez, who is the son of the city’s first Cuban-born mayor, in one of the most important areas politically in the nation’s third-largest state.

Suarez serves as mayor of the City of Miami, a municipality of about 450,000 people that’s within Miami-Dade County, a region of more than 2.5 million people whose mayor is Daniella Levine Cava.

Suarez has touted the city’s low crime rate and economic successes, but he has lately been dogged by news reports about a developer who hired him to allegedly secure permits for a stalled real estate project at the same time the developer was trying to win approval for a city project.

Another looming problem for Suarez is whether he can raise enough money from enough supporters to qualify for Republican debates scheduled for later this summer. Suarez also could be hampered by his acknowledgement that he did not vote for Trump in either the 2016 or 2020 election, although he has been more complimentary of Trump lately.

Suarez also has acknowledged he did not vote for DeSantis in 2018 and tangled with him at one point over COVID-19 restrictions during the pandemic. He did say he voted for DeSantis in 2022.

But he told Politico in May that he was considering a run for president “because I think I can grow the tent—not for an election, but for a generation. I think it matters who is the communicator of ideas and how they communicate those ideas. You can look at my history and know that I’m someone who’s a unifier. You can look at my history and see that I’m someone who appreciates the nuances in a variety of different Hispanic cultures.”

Last month Kellyanne Conway told Politico reporters in D.C.: “I’ve not been shy about telling [former] President Trump that Suarez should be on the short, short list for VP should Trump be the nominee.”

Suarez has argued that Democrats have been “reckless’ in their branding and “messaging” with Hispanics. He argued that Republicans, in general, have a “tremendous opening” in part because Trump supported rolling back policies that the Obama Administration had put in place for Cuba.

Suarez already has a super PAC in place to help him. SOS America PAC on Wednesday said it was spending at least $100,000 on digital ads in New Hampshire, Iowa, and Nevada. The super PAC also hit President Joe Biden over law-and-order issues, while noting that the crime rates in Miami have dropped.

“America needs conservative Mayor Francis Suarez for President,” said SOS America PAC spokesperson Chapin Fay in a statement. “As our nation faces anti-police and pro-crime Democrat leadership in cities across the nation like Baltimore, Portland, and New York City, the achievements of first-generation American Mayor Suarez underscore the need for immediate nationwide adoption of his approach.”

Research contact: @politico

Republicans want Manchin to bow out, fearful that he may have one more trick up his sleeve

May 9, 2023

Republicans’ best option for unseating Senator Joe Manchin: Pray that he retires first. The longtime West Virginia Democrat might be the most endangered member of his party heading into 2024—but Republicans still see the contest against him as treacherous. Manchin is a West Virginia institution who has repeatedly defied the odds in a deep-red state, reports Politico.

A GOP group tied to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell launched a $2 million ad campaign bashing Manchin a year and a half before the election.

National Republican leaders, who have no interest in leaving any room for error in their efforts to retake the Senate, have recruited popular West Virginia Governor Jim Justice to run for Manchin’s seat.

And Justice, who has shared a political network with the senator, has said it’s unlikely Manchin will run for reelection now that he’s in the race. National GOP leaders hope so—or are privately wishing his flirtations with a centrist presidential run turn into a full-fledged campaign.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia)  said she doesn’t know whether her fellow home-state senator will run for reelection and hasn’t asked him about it. But a presidential bid? “He might. He’s talking about it,” she said.

 There’s no sugar-coating the dire position in which Manchin finds himself. After Democrats dominated West Virginia for decades, the state has gone full-blown MAGA in recent years. Former President Donald Trump won it by nearly 40 percentage points in 2020, and there are only 14 Democrats left in West Virginia’s 134-member state legislature. Manchin’s approval rating has plummeted, with 55% of voters giving him a thumbs down, according to a recent Morning Consult poll.

But interviews with 18 elected officials, strategists, and political observers in West Virginia and Washington, D.C., reveal that Manchin isn’t quite being left for dead yet. Even Justice’s former pollster said it would be unwise to count Manchin out.

“There is a reason that Joe Manchin is basically the last standing Democrat in a state that has had a red tsunami since 2014,” said Mark Blankenship, a West Virginia-based GOP pollster who worked for Justice’s 2020 gubernatorial campaign. “You can’t say that it’s impossible for him to win because he’s won so much.”

Manchin’s GOP colleagues agreed with the sentiment: “You can’t take Joe for granted. He’s a formidable politician,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who appeared as a featured speaker at Justice’s campaign kickoff last month.

The early investment from McConnell’s allies at the group One Nation could save Republicans money next year — if it nudges Manchin toward the exit. Otherwise, the GOP will have to spend millions convincing West Virginia voters to part ways with a man who has not lost an election since the 1990s. Without Manchin on the ballot, many operatives see the state as an automatic flip, and Republicans can redirect their money toward other crucial battleground states.

“It would be nice if we didn’t have to,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-South Dakota) when asked if his party would need to spend money if Manchin retires. “We’ll see how it all plays out.”

Research contact: @politico

Prominent retired judge calls for ethics rules for Supreme Court

May 3, 2023

A prominent conservative former federal judge joined a chorus of legal experts from across the political spectrum on Tuesday, May 2—in calling on Congress to enact new ethical standards for Supreme Court justices, after a series of revelations about the justices’ undisclosed gifts, luxury travel, and property deals, reports The New York Times.

The statement by Judge J. Michael Luttig, a retired appeals court judge revered by some conservatives, came as the Democratic-led Senate Judiciary Committee prepared to hold a hearing on Supreme Court ethics. Pressure has mounted among progressives for a stricter code of conduct for the justices, the nation’s highest judges, who are appointed to lifetime terms and are bound by few disclosure requirements.

Congress “indisputably has the power under the Constitution” to “enact laws prescribing the ethical standards applicable to the nonjudicial conduct and activities of the Supreme Court of the United States,” Judge Luttig said in a written statement presented to the Judiciary Committee.

The judge, who served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and was close to being nominated for the Supreme Court, was among several legal experts across the political spectrum who released testimony before a hearing scheduled for Tuesday in which they supported strengthening ethical rules at the court.

“It is time for Congress to accept its responsibility to establish an enforceable code of ethics for the Supreme Court, the only agency of our government without it,” Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and the committee’s chairman, said in a statement released in the days before the hearing.

During the hearing on Tuesday, lawmakers are expected to hear from five experts, including:

  • Jeremy Fogel, a former federal judge who directs the Berkeley Judicial Institute at the University of California, Berkeley;
  • Kedric Payne, a vice president of the Campaign Legal Center, a campaign watchdog group;
  • Amanda Frost, a law professor at the University of Virginia who specializes in legal ethics;
  • Michael B. Mukasey, who served as attorney general in the George W. Bush administration from 2007 to 2009; and
  • Thomas H. Dupree Jr., a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Judge Luttig and Laurence Tribe, an emeritus professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School who is a hero among some progressives, both released statements in support of ethical guidelines, but both declined to appear before the committee.

Tribe said he would leave it to others to say whether the current “crisis is sufficiently grave to call for particular legislative measures,” but that he saw the attempt to use legislation “to impose ethical norms in a binding way on the justices as eminently sensible.”

“I see such legislation as a necessary though probably not sufficient response to the current situation,” Tribe wrote.

Tribe added that he believed it would be “entirely prudent for Congress to enact norms in the form of rules binding on the justices if only as a prophylactic measure” to stop the court from being cast into “an ever darker shadow unhelpful to the esteem required for it to perform its function as a branch of government lacking both the sword and the purse and thus dependent on public respect for its integrity.”

Calls for the Supreme Court justices to be subject to an ethics code have grown in recent weeks after revelations about justices’ gifts, luxury travel, and property deals highlighted how few reporting requirements are in place and how the justices are often left to police themselves.

ProPublica revealed that Justice Clarence Thomas had failed to disclose gifts, trips and a real estate deal with a wealthy Republican donor and real estate billionaire, Harlan Crow. The justice accepted flights on Crow’s private jet to Bohemian Grove, an exclusive retreat in Northern California; an island vacation aboard his superyacht in Indonesia; and trips to Mr. Crow’s 105-acre lakeside resort in the Adirondack Mountains. None appeared on the justice’s financial disclosure forms.

The justice also failed to disclose a real estate deal with Crow in which the billionaire bought properties from the justice and his family, including Justice Thomas’s mother’s home in Savannah, Georgia. Crow paid $133,363 to the justice and his family for the property, according to records filed at Chatham County courthouse, dated Oct. 15, 2014. Justice Thomas’s mother, Leola Williams, still lives in the home.

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch sold property to the chief executive of a major law firm that often has business before the court and did not disclose the identity of the buyer, as was first reported by Politico.

Durbin sought the testimony of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., but the chief justice released a letter last week declining an invitation to testify, citing separation of powers issues. In a statement that accompanied his letter, all nine justices signed onto a “statement of ethics principles and practices” laying out the guidelines that they use to govern their behavior and disclosures.

They said that they follow the same general ethical standards that apply to other federal judges. But they also said they may be limited in what to disclose because of security concerns. In fact, financial disclosures are not filed immediately and must be submitted each year in May.

There has been discussion in recent years that the justices adopt rules governing their behavior.

The chief justice wrote in 2011 in his year-end report that the justices did not need to be bound by the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, which applies to other federal judges.

“All members of the court do in fact consult the code of conduct in assessing their ethical obligations,” he wrote, adding: “Every justice seeks to follow high ethical standards, and the Judicial Conference’s code of conduct provides a current and uniform source of guidance designed with specific reference to the needs and obligations of the federal judiciary.”

Justice Elena Kagan told a House committee in 2019 that Chief Justice Roberts was “studying the question of whether to have a code of judicial conduct that’s applicable only to the United States Supreme Court.”

The justices have not announced such a code of conduct.

“In light of the Supreme Court’s failure to take action, Congress must step in to protect the justices from themselves,” Frost, the University of Virginia professor, said in prepared testimony.

Research contact: @nytimes

Biden Administration to buttress HIPAA to protect abortion seekers and providers

April 14, 2023

The Biden Administration is updating the nation’s main health privacy law to offer stronger legal protections to people who obtain abortions in their state or who cross state lines for the procedure, as well as their doctors and loved ones, reports Politico. 

On Wednesday, April 12, the Department of Health and Human ServicesOffice for Civil Rights said it would issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to bar health care providers and insurers from turning over information to state officials for the purpose of investigating, suing or prosecuting someone for seeking or providing a legal abortion.

The new rule would add language to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act—commonly known as HIPAAwould cover both people who cross state lines to obtain a legal abortion or who qualify for an exception to their home state’s ban, such as in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment. 

The move, a longtime ask of abortion-rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers, comes just days after a Texas court ruling threatening access to the abortion pill—the most common method for ending a pregnancy.

Vice President Kamala Harris will meet Wednesday afternoon with the White House’s Task Force on Reproductive Health Care Access to discuss the new HIPAA rule and other potential responses to the court decision. 

During a call with reporters on the new rule Tuesday night, a senior administration official said that, while the agency released guidance when Roe fell last June—telling doctors they do not have to comply with demands for information from law enforcement or state officials about a patient’s abortion—they have gotten feedback from health providers and advocacy groups that a clearer and more binding rule would offer better protection.

“We found that even with the permissible disclosures [policy], some providers get fearful when they receive a subpoena or they might feel like they have to turn the information over,” said the official, granted anonymity as the condition for the briefing on the new rule.

That chilling effect, the official added, is also affecting pregnant patients and causing them to avoid the medical system entirely.

“They’re scared, they are concerned about their medical information being misused and disclosed,” the official said. “As a result, individuals may hesitate to interact with providers, health plans, pharmacies, or related health applications out of fear that their data will be tracked or shared inappropriately.”

The agency will take public comment on the proposed rule for the next 60 days, and will then issue a final rule.

Democratic lawmakers and abortion-rights advocates have been pleading with the Biden Administration for months—beginning before Roe was overturned—to take this step, and the calls have grown louder as conservative states ramped up enforcement of their anti-abortion laws.

In January, Democrats in Congress introduced the Secure Access for Essential Reproductive (SAFER) Health Act, which would have made similar updates to HIPAA with respect to abortions and miscarriages, but the bill has not moved in either chamber.

Research contact: @politico

Biden issues first veto, knocks Marjorie Taylor Greene

March 23, 2023

On Monday, March 20, President Joe Biden vetoed his first bill—blocking the repeal of a Labor Department rule that permitted retirement investing tied to environmental and social goals, reports Politico.

The veto was expected, after the Biden Administration fought Republican-led efforts to pass the rollback three weeks ago. The House and Senate votes attracted support from three Democrats, including Senators Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia—moderates who are up for reelection next year.

“This bill would risk your retirement savings by making it illegal to consider risk factors MAGA House Republicans don’t like,” Biden said on Twitter on Monday.

“Your plan manager should be able to protect your hard-earned savings—whether Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene likes it or not.”

While Republicans who led work on the repeal didn’t get it signed into law, it marked a partial victory for conservatives, who have targeted the rule and other policies that they say encourage major corporations to elevate climate and social goals in their business practices.

“This is trying to parallel financial return with an ideological push,” Senator Mike Braun (R-Indiana), who led the rollback push with Representative Andy Barr (R-Kentucky) told reporters in February. “I don’t like that.”

The Biden Labor Department rule at issue attempted to undo Trump-era policy that discouraged retirement plan managers from incorporating environmental and social factors into investment decisions. The Biden rule allows them to do so but does not require it.

Wall Street firms and their trade groups largely stayed on the sidelines during the fight, despite being the subject of criticism from Republican lawmakers. Lobbyists were confident that Biden would veto the repeal; and the industry is also laying low as the issue makes its way through the courts. The state of Texas is leading a multi-state lawsuit to block the rule.

“There’s just no upside,” said one trade association representative, granted anonymity to speak candidly. “Why bother, especially when you’ve got 25 state attorneys general who already have said they’re going to pony up and litigate?”

The House is scheduled to vote Thursday on overturning the veto, per a floor schedule circulated on Friday, March17. Near-unanimous Democratic opposition makes it unlikely the effort will garner the two-thirds support needed.

Research contact: @politico

McCarthy rejects Zelensky’s invitation to Ukraine

March 9, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has invited House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to visit the embattled nation amid his hesitancy to greenlight aid—a request the California Republican quickly shut down this week, reports Politico.

“He has to come here to see how we work, what’s happening here, what war caused us, which people are fighting now, who are fighting now. And then after that, make your assumptions,” Zelensky told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an interview.

When informed about the Ukrainian invitation, the Speaker told CNN that he would not take the trip and blamed the Biden Administration for not acting quickly enough to aid Ukraine. Still, McCarthy held his position that the United States should not be sending a “blank check” to Kyiv, repeating a position he initially made last fall that sparked uproar from members of both parties.

“Let’s be very clear about what I said: no blank checks, OK? So, from that perspective, I don’t have to go to Ukraine to understand where there’s a blank check or not,” McCarthy told CNN. “I will continue to get my briefings and others, but I don’t have to go to Ukraine or Kyiv to see it. And my point has always been, I won’t provide a blank check for anything.”

McCarthy’s remarks addressed Zelensky’s comments in the interview about Democrats and Republicans who have visited and seen “the supply routes, every shell, every bullet, every dollar.”

“I think that Speaker McCarthy, he never visited Kyiv or Ukraine, and I think it would help him with his position,” Zelensky said.

On February 20, President Joe Biden made a surprise visit o Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, his first since the beginning of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Research contact: @politico

Elissa Slotkin announces Senate run

February 28, 2023

Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan) is running for the Michigan Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator Debbie Stabenow. “We need a new generation of leaders that thinks differently, works harder, and never forgets that we are public servants,” Slotkin said in a video announcing her 2024 Senate run, reports Politico.

Slotkin is one of the first candidates to enter the race since Stabenow announced in January that she would not seek a fifth term—teeing up a high-stakes contest that could ultimately determine the balance of power in the Senate. Slotkin has since been gradually and methodically preparing for an announcement, according to two Democrats with knowledge of her campaign strategy.

Although the state has a strong bench of potential candidates—including Attorney General Dana Nessel, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Representative Debbie Dingell—Slotkin already is emerging as the “consensus candidate” among the state’s Democratic leadership, according to a senior Democrat in Michigan.

On the GOP side, Nikki Snyder, a Republican State Board of Education member, announced her run for Stabenow’s seat earlier in February. Other potential Republican candidates include former Representative Pete Meijer, one of a handful of Republicans who voted in 2021 to impeach former President Donald Trump; and former Representative Mike Rogers, who served as chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. If Meijer runs, Democrats are banking on Trump resurfacing to campaign against him, as happened in the 2022 midterm election.

The 46-year-old Slotkin has won three races in a row in one of the toughest and most expensive congressional districts in the country. While the district lines have been redrawn, Slotkin’s central Michigan district was originally the same one Stabenow represented before being elected to the Senate. A mix of suburban and rural areas just northwest of Detroit, the GOP had held the seat for 20 years before Slotkin flipped it blue.

“I think she will turn out to be the clear consensus candidate among Democratic leadership. She has a very strong organization, great credentials and a national fundraising network. Very few people have that anywhere and in Michigan,” said a top Democrat with knowledge of discussions among top state officials.

Would-be competitors have in recent days announced that they will not seek the seat, including Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist and state Senator Mallory McMorrow. Benson, likewise, has said she’s “happy” in her current job and is considered more likely to have her eyes on the governor’s mansion, according to the top Democrat who has spoken directly with her.

In her campaign video, the Slotkin touted her background at the CIA, doing three tours in Iraq alongside the U.S. military, and her time working at the White House. She also pointed to the Michigan “values” she was raised under, of coming together at times of crisis, being able to live a middle class lifestyle, and of pursuing the “American dream.”

“Look, we all know America is going through something right now. We seem to be living crisis to crisis,” Slotkin said. “But there are certain things that should be really simple, like living a middle class life in the state that invented the middle class.”

Research contact: @politico