The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.
Showing posts with label RICK GATES. Show all posts
Showing posts with label RICK GATES. Show all posts

Friday, December 14, 2018

ProPublica: Trump’s Inauguration





ProPublica

Trump’s Inauguration Paid Trump’s Company — With Ivanka in the Middle

When it came out this year that President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee raised and spent unprecedented amounts, people wondered where all that money went.

It turns out one beneficiary was Trump himself.

The inauguration paid the Trump Organization for rooms, meals and event space at the company’s Washington hotel, according to interviews as well as internal emails and receipts reviewed by WNYC and ProPublica.

During the planning, Ivanka Trump, the president-elect’s eldest daughter and a senior executive with the Trump Organization, was involved in negotiating the price the hotel charged the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee for venue rentals. A top inaugural planner emailed Ivanka and others at the company to “express my concern” that the hotel was overcharging for its event spaces, worrying of what would happen “when this is audited.”

If the Trump hotel charged more than the going rate for the venues, it could violate tax law. The inaugural committee’s payments to the Trump Organization and Ivanka Trump’s role have not been previously reported or disclosed in public filings.

“The fact that the inaugural committee did business with the Trump Organization raises huge ethical questions about the potential for undue enrichment,” said Marcus Owens, the former head of the division of the Internal Revenue Service that oversees nonprofits.

Inaugural workers had other misgivings. Rick Gates, then the deputy to the chairman of the inaugural, asked some vendors to take payments directly from donors, rather than through the committee, according to two people with direct knowledge. The vendors felt the request was unusual and concerning, according to these people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they signed confidentiality agreements. It is not clear whether any vendors took him up on his request.

The revelations about the inauguration’s finances show how Trump blurred the lines between his political and business lives, as the real estate mogul ascended to the presidency.

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors in New York have opened a criminal investigation into whether the inaugural committee misspent money and whether donors gave in return for political favors, citing people familiar with the matter. In addition, The New York Times reported that prosecutors are examining whether foreigners illegally funnelled money to the inauguration.

Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Ivanka Trump’s ethics lawyer, said: “When contacted by someone working on the inauguration, Ms. Trump passed the inquiry on to a hotel official and said only that any resulting discussions should be at a ‘fair market rate.’ Ms. Trump was not involved in any additional discussions.”

Mirijanian did not provide evidence that Ivanka Trump sought a fair market rate.

A spokeswoman for the inaugural committee said it “is not aware of any pending investigations and has not been contacted by any prosecutors. We simply have no evidence the investigation exists.” The White House and a lawyer for Gates did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for the Manhattan federal prosecutors’ office declined to comment. The Trump Organization did not comment.

“That doesn’t have anything to do with the president or the first lady,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Thursday night, when asked about the story in the Journal.

President-elect Trump was repeatedly briefed on inaugural planning and specific events, according to one committee worker with direct knowledge. WNYC and ProPublica have seen presentations that were shown to the president-elect, complete with renderings and floor plans.

Trump’s 2017 inauguration committee, which was chaired by his friend the businessman Tom Barrack, raised nearly $107 million from donors including the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and AT&T. The January 2017 festivities cost almost twice President Obama’s 2009 inauguration, previously the most expensive. The nonprofit that planned Trump’s inauguration booked many spaces in the Trump International Hotel, located in the Old Post Office building near the White House, including a ballroom, hotel rooms and work spaces, as well as paying for meals there, according to several people who worked on the inauguration.

How the inaugural committee managed to spend all the money it raised remains a mystery, nearly two years after the event. While groups that support political candidates or issues must publicly detail their spending, an inaugural committee is required to list only its top five contractors. That leaves about $40 million unaccounted for.

Greg Jenkins, who led George W. Bush’s second inauguration, was perplexed by the Trump team’s mammoth fundraising haul. “They had a third of the staff and a quarter of the events and they raise at least twice as much as we did,” Jenkins told WNYC and ProPublica this year. “So there’s the obvious question: Where did it go? I don’t know.”

As planning for the inauguration was underway in December 2016, Ivanka Trump was still an executive vice president at the Trump Organization. But she was reportedly preparing to move to Washington and take on a greater public role. She now serves as an adviser to the president.

Around the middle of the month, with Inauguration Day scarcely a month away, Ivanka Trump was asked to help resolve a dispute between inaugural planners and her family’s Washington hotel, according to emails.

The problem: Organizers thought the hotel was charging too much money.

Emails show that Ivanka Trump connected Gates with Mickael Damelincourt, managing director of the hotel. Damelincourt responded with a new rate of $175,000 per day for use of the Presidential Ballroom and meeting rooms, offering a $700,000 charge for four days of use.

It is not clear what the earlier price was, but Damelincourt’s revised rate did not satisfy one of the lead organizers of the inauguration, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.

In an email to Ivanka Trump and Gates, Wolkoff, who had previously managed the Metropolitan Museum’s annual gala and fashion shows at Lincoln Center, expressed discomfort with the price.

“I wanted to follow up on our conversation and express my concern,” Wolkoff wrote in the December email.

“These events are in PE’s [the president-elect’s] honor at his hotel and one of them is for family and close friends. Please take into consideration that when this is audited it will become public knowledge,” she wrote, noting that other locations would be provided to the inaugural committee for free.

“I understand that compared to the original pricing this is great but we should look at the whole context,” Wolkoff wrote, suggesting a day rate of $85,000, less than half of the Trump hotel’s offer.

A former Trump hotel staffer confirmed that the inaugural committee paid for inaugural week events at the hotel. It’s not clear what price the committee ultimately paid. Previous media coverage has focused on spending by outside groups at the Trump hotel but it was not known that the official inaugural committee itself spent significant sums there.

Wolkoff also raised concerns about spending in a conversation with then-Trump attorney Michael Cohen, according to the story in the Journal. Federal prosecutors have a recording of that conversation, according to the Journal. The Times story suggests that conversation took place well after the inauguration.

Wolkoff, who is a friend of first lady Melania Trump, did not respond to a request for comment. Wolkoff’s firm, WIS Media Partners, was the inauguration’s highest-paid contractor, according to the committee’s tax filing. Wolkoff was scrutinized in media accounts this year because the firm received nearly $26 million. Most of that of the money was passed on to subcontractors, according to a person familiar with the spending. It is possible that payments to the Trump hotel were included in that sum.

If the Trump hotel charged the inaugural committee above-market rates, it could violate tax rules, according to Owens, the nonprofit tax expert who is now a partner at the law firm Loeb & Loeb.

If a person with “substantial influence” over a nonprofit group charges the group above-market rates in a transaction with their outside business, the IRS can impose steep fines. In this case, Donald Trump could qualify as a person with such influence. Should the tax agency find that a violation occurred, the Trump Organization would have to refund any overcharge and the inaugural committee would be hit with a 25 percent tax on the money, Owens said.

Owens added that IRS audits of nonprofits are increasingly rare. Since the inaugural committee was incorporated in Virginia, the state attorney general there could also have standing to investigate its operations.

A spokeswoman for the inaugural committee said its finances “were fully audited internally and independently and are fully accounted. … These were funds raised from private individuals and were then spent in accordance with the law and the expectations of the donors.”

The inaugural committee spent money at the Trump International in Washington in other ways as well. Many workers came from California and New York and stayed at the hotel, eating their meals there and holding meetings. Receipts reviewed by WNYC and ProPublica show they typically paid about $350 a night. According to an inaugural worker, 15 to 20 inaugural workers stayed at the hotel most nights for roughly a month in the run-up to the inauguration, at a total cost of what could be more than $200,000.

The professional resumes of top Trump hotel staffers indicate they worked closely with the presidential inaugural committee. The hotel’s director of food and beverage says on his LinkedIn profile that he was “working with PIC [Presidential Inaugural Committee] during the 2017 Inauguration” and a “related series of very special events.”

The day before Trump’s swearing in, the inaugural committee hosted a Leadership Luncheon in the hotel’s Presidential Ballroom, featuring his cabinet nominees and major donors. “This is a gorgeous room,” the president-elect told the crowd. “A total genius must have built this place.” And the night of the inauguration itself, Trump’sfamily and close allies such as Sean Hannity celebrated into the early morning at an exclusive after-party in the Trump hotel’s grand lobby. Thousands of red, white and blue balloons were released from the rafters.

Some vendors for the inauguration became concerned when Gates, a top inaugural committee official, asked them to take payments outside of the normal committee invoicing process, according to two people with knowledge of what happened. He proposed that they be paid for their work directly from a would-be donor rather than by the committee. Gates told the vendors that the inaugural committee had received pledges of more money than was initially targeted, and, therefore, he wished to reduce the publicly reported sum raised.

Gates did not respond to a request for comment. Last February, he pleaded guilty to unrelated charges of lying to the FBI and conspiracy, as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry.
Over the summer, Gates was cross examined about his work for the inauguration in the trial of his former boss, Paul Manafort. Gates conceded that he might have charged personal expenses to the committee. “It’s possible,” he said.

In a separate episode this year, a U.S. lobbyist pleaded guilty to helping a Ukrainian businessman and member of Parliament buy tickets to the inauguration, in violation of rules barring the committee from taking foreign money. The inaugural committee was not accused of wrongdoing in that case.
ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom.  Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.
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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Consummate "Swamp Thing" Manafort



Donald Trump comparing and feed American voters a new political mantra and entry into our lexicons: drain the swamp. While 2.84 million more voters cast ballots for Hillary Clinton, election night was awarded to Trump. Those Clinton voters saw through Trump's carnival barking;  others failed to do so.

Do you remember this? "Drain The Swamp."



The nation elected a literal Chief Shepherd of "the Swamp." In addition, to scandal after scandal among members of his administration, we are now reaching parts of the swamp which more closely resembles "the Quicksand."

The latest swamp creature to come forth has been brought forth due to his alleged criminal background and support for totalitarian despots.  There was a time when it seemed Paul Manafort was a hired gun (metaphorically) for former Soviet Bloc countries, but it seems he has also performed "consulting for the current President of the Philippines. (See video below)

The US legal system has caught up with what was a facilitator of Trump's election and a major international "operator." 

18 U.S.C. § 371—Conspiracy to Defraud the United States ...


Regardless of your social need to hand Trump the US presidency, it is impossible to avoid the reality of crooks hang out with crooks.  They do not perpetuate their illegal and despicable acts or services while hanging out with church bishops, deacons, and the church choir.
The mystical and very (allegedly) corrupt Paul Manafort (video will open in a separate tab). The Monday morning indictments also include a longstanding Manafort operator, Rick Gates.  But, take a read of a few items Manafort is reported to have been involved in over the past few years.00:27 / 01:25
Because both men appeared to be globe-trotting multi-millionaires and faced charges for serious crimes related to their work abroad, the government said they should be held under house arrest. A judge agreed Monday.


A new court filing Tuesday showed exactly what Manafort and Gates told banks and investigators about their net worths and travel histories over the past few years.

Among the highlights:

* Manafort currently has three US passports, each under a different number. He has submitted 10 passport applications in roughly as many years, prosecutors said.

* This year, Manafort traveled to Mexico, China and Ecuador with a phone and email account registered under a fake name. (The name was not disclosed in the filings.)

* Over the past year, Manafort traveled to Dubai, Cancun, Panama City, Havana, Shanghai, Madrid, Tokyo and Grand Cayman Island.

* Both Manafort and Gates were frequent travelers to Cyprus. "Extensive travel of this nature further evidences a risk of flight," the prosecutor's filing said.

* Manafort wrote on loan applications and other financial documents that his assets were worth between $19 million in April 2012 and $136 million in May 2016.

* In some months, like while he served as Trump's national campaign chairman in August 2016, Manafort's assessment of his total worth fluctuated. In August 2016 he said his assets were worth $28 million, then wrote he had $63 million in assets on a different application.

* Gates "frequently changed banks and opened and closed bank accounts," prosecutors said. In all, Gates opened 55 accounts with 13 financial institutions, the prosecutors' court filing said. Some of his bank accounts were in England and Cyprus, where he held more than $10 million from 2010 to 2013.
We will continue to write about Trumps Swamp Things as they are uncovered.

Paul Manafort and his henchman Gates are classic Swamp Things, who worked for a bringer of Swamp Things.


Image result for swamp thing

How could anyone who aspired to the US President have so completely surrounded himself with swamp critters? A very incompetent transition team? Influence for Putin's operatives? Or, birds of a feather really do flock together?
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Monday, October 30, 2017

The Trump Reality Show Yields Indictments And A Guilty Plea



Trump Reality TV... Must Follow Episode: "The Law Cometh"

Image result for the law

Many Americans and millions internationally who care about Russian intrusion in the US General election, probably spend moderate amounts of mental energy on where Special Counsel Mueller is "going" with the Trump investigation. Is it a mere deflection (as charged by Trump and his cabal), is it a fruitless waste of time and when will we see any vestiges of legal proceeding from the months of investigation? An investigation which started well before Mueller was appointed as Special Counsel.

We were informed over the summer months that Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, had been informed of a coming indictment. The report of an October guilty plea form a Trump campaign adviser (official) has placated daily curiosity while moving the case towards what, we feel, will reach into the White House. 

As an investigator, Mueller has reminded us that we are distant spectators to US history and the beginning stages of a scandal which will surpass that of the 1970s Watergate investigations.  It seems we should recognize the clear message from the following graphic.

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Meanwhile, Yahoo dot com has published a good piece regarding today's  episode of Trump In The White House. 

Yahoo.com
PAUL MANAFORT, trumps former campaign manager was indicted on 12 charges: 
GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS, former Trump advisor pleaded GUILTY to lying to the FBI about his contact with Russians. This marked the first criminal count that cites interactions between Trump campaign associates and Russians. 
RICK GATES worked for Paul Manafort and continued working for trump after Manafort left. He is indicted on the same charges as Manafort. In total, more than $75 million flowed through the offshore accounts, according to the indictment. Manafort is accused of laundering more than $18 million.
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Join us tomorrow for yet another episode of Trumpism and its turn in the White House.



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