Ivanka and Jr. were being investigated for felony fraud. Then daddy’s lawyer stepped in with the DA.

In 2008/9, the Trumps found themselves trying to sell condo-hotel units in the Trump Soho. They suffered from impeccably bad timing, the global financial crisis had just hit and no one wanted to buy US real-estate. Ivanka and Jr. were in charge of sales and were struggling to sell units. Caught in a bind, they resorted to making stuff up to entice buyers.

New York prosecutors were preparing a case. Then the D.A. overruled his staff after a visit from a top donor: Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz.

In one email, according to four people who have seen it, the Trumps discussed how to coordinate false information they had given to prospective buyers. In another, according to a person who read the emails, they worried that a reporter might be onto them. In yet another, Donald Jr. spoke reassuringly to a broker who was concerned about the false statements, saying that nobody would ever find out, because only people on the email chain or in the Trump Organization knew about the deception, according to a person who saw the email.

— www.propublica.org/…

The New Yorker also has the story, this was a joint investigation with ProPublica.

From the story, it looks like the Major Economic Crimes unit had a good case. Then three things happened:

  • The Trump organization settled the civil suit with buyers and imposed a gag order as part of the settlement.
  • Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz went to see the Manhattan D.A., Cyrus Vance. Kasowitz had contributed to Vance’s campaign and would contribute again months later.
  • Vance instructed the Major Crimes Unit not to prosecute.

There’s a side-bar. Vance returned Kasowitz’s original contribution before killing the case. Conflict of interest you see. Except, a few months later, Kasowitz hosted a fundraiser that netted far more in contributions. Vance is now saying (five years later), that he will return all the contributions from Kasowitz. This is, of course, after being outed in the press.

I have three observations about this saga:

  1. The Trumps are con-artists. But we already knew that, this is why no one in NYC will do business with them. They need a steady supply of marks from the provinces, overseas.*
  2. Trump actively undermines the rule of law. He bays for punitive action against those he dislikes. He demands impunity for friends and family. This was problematic when he was a run-of-the-mill NYC billionaire since impunity for the powerful undermines our legal and political system. It is a critical threat with him as president.
  3. ProPublica does amazing investigative reporting. You should follow them.

*  People in NYC have a lot of information on Trump. We’ve seen him do business and operate for decades. 90% refused to vote for him, though he’s a native New Yorker. Simply by virtue of being in NYC, the Trumps have access to a steady stream of people who do not have any experience with them. It’s a target rich environment. Paradoxically, higher interconnectedness may exacerbate scams and cons. Immediate access to lots of information can create an illusory sense of confidence. A lot of breadth, but not enough depth to make informed decisions. This is an environment in which people like Trump can thrive despite repeated failures and mis-adventures. As long as they can maintain a thin veneer of success the new guy on the block will continue to fall for their cons.

— @subirgrewal | Cross-posted at NotMeUs.org

Kirsten Gillibrand and 15 out of NY’s 18 House Dems support Medicare for All

New York has a long history of producing progressives focused on delivering health-care to all. Teddy Roosevelt was the first presidential candidate to propose socialized healthcare. FDR was the first president to actually deliver any kind of federal socialized health-care with the EMIC program and Social Security. EMIC provided some maternity and early childhood care, Social Security provided grants to states to provide programs for public health and services to benefit the blind and disabled.

Continuing in that long tradition, New York Democrats have stepped up to support John Conyers’ Medicare For All bill (HR 676). As of today, 15 out of the 18 Democrats in New York’s current Congressional House delegation support HR 676.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is also on record as supporting single-payer, and word is that she will support Bernie Sander’s senate version of Conyer’s Medicare For All bill.

This means three of the most prominent Senators mentioned as likely presidential candidates will co-sponsor the bill (Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand).

We are a far cry from the environment in 2009, when the party leadership was reluctant to bring a public option to a floor vote, or send it to the CBO for a score. The change in mood is perhaps best underscored by the journey that Max Baucus (D-MT) has been on. As  chairman of the Senate Finance committee, in 2009, Sen. Baucus helped kill public option proposals by Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV). Now retired, Max Baucus said he believes the time has come for single-payer.

Speaking of the party leadership, our state’s senior senator (and minority leader), Chuck Schumer has not declared his support for the bill, but he has said single payer is “on the table”. In Schumer’s case, it’s not clear whether he’s referring to a single-payer Medicare-For-All covering everyone, or a Medicare buy-in program with subsidies.

In contrast, 83% of NY’s Democratic delegation in the house has co-sponsored Conyer’s MFA bill, which expands Medicare to cover everyone, and improves benefits. They are:

Every Democratic Congressional representative from the nation’s largest city, NYC has co-sponsored HR-676. Dan Donovan, a Republican who represents Staten Island (11th district) is not a supporter.

There are three Democrats in New York’s house delegation who are not on record as supporting Medicare For All. They are Thomas Suozzi (D-NY-3), Kathleen Rice (D-NY-4), Sean Maloney (D-NY-18). Each of them represents NYC suburbs or exurbs including northern Nassau county (the Gold Coast), southern Nassau county (South shore) and Westchester/Dutchess. These areas are generally less diverse, wealthier and more conservative.

@subirgrewal

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) supports single-payer Medicare For All.

We’ve had a fair amount of discussion about Medicare For All recently, including the various proposal and what it means to different people. Over the past few months, an increasing number of Democrats have expressed support for the proposal. On that note, I’m proud that my Senator, Kristen Gillibrand of New York, supports Medicare For All.

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has come out in favor of a single-payer health care system.

This is a move to the left for Gillibrand, who despite advocating for “Medicare for all” since her first congressional campaign has not outright advocated a single-payer system. She is following in the suit of Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who told The Wall Street Journal last week that “President Obama tried to move us forward with health-care coverage by using a conservative model that came from one of the conservative think tanks that had been advanced by a Republican governor in Massachusetts. Now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single payer.”

— www.salon.com/…

Gillibrand has consistently supported universal healthcare for years. In 2009, during the lead up to the ACA, she was a strong proponent for a public option that she then referred to as “Medicare For All”.

“Standing up for public healthcare is the most important thing we can do,” she said, adding that her goal was a system that achieved “Medicare for all.”

But while at least one previous speaker had encouraged support for the single-payer approach to healthcare, with an entity like Medicare handling all health matters, Ms. Gillibrand did not mention that idea. She focused instead on what has emerged as the most divisive part of the current national healthcare debate in Washington—whether a government-supported health insurance program should be allowed to compete with private sector companies offering coverage under new terms set by the federal government. On that question she said, “if we do not have a not-for-profit [insurer] then we, as Democrats, have failed.”

— www.columbiapaper.com/… (2009)

As Salon notes above, Sen. Gillibrand now supports single-payer “Medicare For All” as the right solution for our times.

Add another major 2020 Democratic player to the list of supporters of single-payer health insurance: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “Yes,” the New York senator does support single-payer, her senior adviser Glen Caplin told me.

Gillibrand first seemed to endorse the idea on the steps outside the Capitol this week, in a Facebook Live hosted by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. “Health care should be a right, it should never be a privilege. We should have Medicare for all in this country,” she said.

However, Gillibrand in the past hasn’t used the phrase “Medicare for all” as a substitute for “single-payer” the same way Bernie Sanders does. Instead, as Caplin pointed out, “since she first ran for Congress in 2006 in a red district, Kirsten has been advocating for ‘Medicare for all’ where anyone can buy into Medicare for a price they can afford” — that is, by paying a fixed percentage of their income.

That all begged the follow-up: Does Gillibrand support single-payer? Her senior adviser’s answer — “yes” — to that question is a major development for Gillibrand. It positions her with Sanders, progressive activists, and as of this week, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who told The Wall Street Journal that on health care, “now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single-payer.” Per the Pew Research Center, 52% of Democrats support single-payer.

— www.cnn.com/…

That Pew research report found that 60% of Americans say the federal government is responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has publicly said that “we should have Medicare for all.”

— www.theatlantic.com/…

The Senate companion to John Conyers’ HR 676 (which has 116 co-sponsors in the house) has not been released as yet. That is largely because Senate Democrats had been focusing on defeating the ACA repeal efforts. Gillibrand has already endorsed the forthcoming bill.

Sanders spoke alongside Gillibrand in March at a press conference in support of the Family Act, and Gillibrand is very enthusiastic about becoming a co-sponsor of Sanders’s forthcoming Medicare for All bill. “People want affordable health care,” she says. For the record, she’s not late to that party; Gillibrand supported Medicare for everyone when she ran in her House district in 2006. “It’s the solution, and it makes sense to people even in my two-to-one Republican district.”

— nymag.com/…

I’m pleased that my Senator and progressive stalwart, Kirsten Gillibrand supports Medicare For All.

100th Anniversary of the Silent Parade.

Silent Parade, New York City July 28, 1917

That large banner has the famous line from the American Declaration of Independence, followed by “If of African descent tear off this corner”. TomP had a diary last month on the 100th anniversary of the East St. Louis massacre that described the events and their causes in detail.

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Silent Parade in New York City, organized to protest that massacre which claimed the lives of 100-200, the vast majority of them black people. Google changed it’s doodle today to commemorate the protest. They are also highlighting a documentary project from the Equal Justice Initiative called Lynching in America which is supported by Google.

The NY Times reported on the protest with this:

NEGROES IN PROTEST MARCH IN FIFTH AV.; 8,000 Men, Women, and Children Demand That Discrimination and Oppression End.

Among the banners was one which immediately attracted the notice of the police. It displayed a picture of a negro woman kneeling before President Wilson and appealing to him to bring democracy to America before carrying it to Europe. The police declared the banner to be objectionable, and the committee in charge of the parade readily withdrew it.

— timesmachine.nytimes.com/… (July 29, 1917)

It’s remarkable that the protesters were asked to remove that banner, almost as if the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights didn’t apply to them.

Along with the 8,000 marchers, another 20,000 black people lined the streets to witness the “silent protest against acts of discrimination and oppression” inflicted upon them in this country and in other parts of the world (we had a diary on the silent parade last year). The parade featured dozens of banners, some of the more notable ones included:

  • “Make America Safe for Democracy”
  • “India is Abolishing Caste, America is Adopting It”
  • “Memphis and Waco — Centers of American Culture?”
  • “Your Hands are Full of Blood”
  • “Pray for the Lady Macbeths” (of East St. Louis)
  • “We are Maligned as Lazy, and Murdered When we Work”

The last banner was a reference to the origins of the East St. Louis race riot, the employment of black persons in East St. Louis factories. Sadly, labor union members participated in and led the massacre.

The Waco reference evoked the lynching of Jesse Washington, who was tortured and burned to death by a crowd of thousands. The Memphis reference was to the notorious Memphis race-riot/pogrom of 1866.100 years on, many of these protest signs remain relevant.

There are contemporaneous accounts suggesting the rapid growth of the city’s population left services (including law enforcement) understaffed and the municipality bankrupt. Echoing the prejudices of the day, the Times reported with little examination on an “epidemic of hold-ups and shootings by negro footpads in the months of April and May” as contributing factors in the riot/massacre. The same article notes that black people and immigrants (from the Balkans and Austria) competed for the “hard, dirty and unpleasant work which no white American would consent to do”. That should be a reminder that though we see ourselves as a “nation of immigrants”, many among us have expressed prejudice towards the most recent group of immigrants, no matter where they are from. Of course, in the background was World War I which the US had entered earlier that year. Many residents of East St. Louis were drafted into the US army, and many newly arrived immigrants returned to their country of origin to enlist or serve.

The massacre was eventually halted by the arrival of the national guard. A mob of 500 was surrounded by the national guard and arrested, quelling most of the arson and killing. While it had raged, young boys and women had joined in to beat or shoot at unarmed black men and women.

The NYC protest’s organizers asked NAACP branches to help prepare signs, some of the “mottos” they distributed are above, others included:

  • “Taxation Without Representation is Tyranny”
  • America has lynched without trial 2,867 Negroes in 21 years and not a single murderer has suffered.
  • 200,00 Black men fought for your liberty in the Civil War
  • The first blood for American Independence was shed by a Negro — Crispus Attucks
  • We have fought for the liberty of white Americans in six wars; our reward is East St. Louis
  • We are excluded from the unions and condemned for not joining them.
  • Repelled by the unions we are condemned as scabs.
  • Our music is the only American music.
  • Race prejudice is the offspring of ignorance and the mother of lynching.
  • If fault is to be found with color, blame God and yourselves.
  • Mothers, do lynchers go to heaven?
  • We have 60,000 iron and steel workers.
  • Patriotism and loyalty presuppose protection and liberty.

The role of organized labor in the massacre is worth examining because it is a window into a dynamic that would play out over several decades as unions desegregated. The NY Times interviewed the local Congressman, Rep. William A. Rodenberg who noted that tensions had been brewing for some time, and a smaller riot five weeks prior had led to the deaths of six black and three white persons. He had this to say about the

“Several months ago there were strikes for shorter hours and higher wages at the packing houses and in the aluminum works. All these demands of the labor men were granted. Then the packing houses and the American Aluminum Company declared for open shops, and there was another strike based on the demand that the employers recognize the unions. This was not granted, so the workmen stayed out. Thereupon the companies concerned filled their plants with black labor. The white strikers declare that the companies sent agents all through the south to induce the blacks to come to the town. The employers deny this, and say that East St. Louis already had a plentiful supply of black labor when the whites went on strike and that the negroes were put to work because they were the only labor available to keep the plants going. As to the truth of the matter, I do not know.”

— timesmachine.nytimes.com/… (July 8, 1917)

The entire interview from the Times archives makes for an interesting read since it reveals both bias and clarity on the part of the Congressman. For example, this statement:

“Of course, the negroes were not members of the labor unions. I don’t know that they could have got in if they had tried; but it is a notorious fact that black laborers are not capable of being successfully unionized. They don’t understand why they should pay dues.”

timesmachine.nytimes.com/… (July 8, 1917)

Rodenberg knows that the unions, much like most other American institutions, were biased against black persons. But in the next breath, he indulges in some straightforward prejudice.

The events of 1917 do have relevance for us today. They illustrate the many ways in which workers and ordinary people can be divided. The organizers of the Silent Parade distributed a pamphlet with logistical information on the protest march. The National Humanities Center has a PDF of the pamphlet, which included a statement of objectives written by the organizers:

Why Do We March?

We march because by the Grace of God and the force of truth, the dangerous, hampering walls of prejudice and inhuman injustices must fall.

We march because we want to make impossible a repetition of Waco, Memphis and East St. Louis, by rousing the conscience of the country and bring the murderers of our brothers, sisters and innocent children to justice.

We march because we deem it a crime to be silent in the face of such barbaric acts.

We march because we are thoroughly opposed to Jim-crow Cars etc., Segregation, Discrimination, Disenfranchisement, LYNCHING and the host of evils that are forced on us. It is time that the Spirit of Christ should be manifested in the making and execution of laws.

We march because we want our children to live in a better land and enjoy fairer conditions than have fallen to our lot.

We march in memory of our butchered dead, thee massacre of the honest toilers who were removing the reproach of laziness and thriftlessness hurled at the entire race. The died to prove our worthiness to live. We live in spite of death shadowing us and ours. We prosper in the face of the most unwarranted and illegal oppression.

We march because the growing consciousness and solidarity of race coupled with sorrow and discrimination have made us one: a union that may never be dissolved in spite of shallow-brained agitators, scheming pundits and political tricksters who secure a fleeting popularity and uncertain financial support by promoting the disunion of a people who ought to consider themselves as one.

You could take that last paragraph and run it verbatim in an article analyzing Trump’s speeches about immigrants or Chicago. Once again, we are plagued by “shallow-brained agitators, scheming pundits and political tricksters” who seek “fleeting popularity” and “financial support” by promoting “disunion”. Once again, we confront the specter of demagogues who seek to further their political careers by pitting us against one another.

 

Warren says Democrats should campaign on Single-Payer healthcare.

Elizabeth Warren has been on a campaign footing to push back against Republican efforts to bestow enormous tax breaks on millionaires and billionaires by decimating health-care coverage for ordinary Americans.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is traveling to Trump-friendly areas of her state hoping to connect with his backers and provide a road map for her party to win back working-class voters. […]

Democrats, she said, would do better if they campaigned on that progressive platform rather than blurring the lines between themselves and Republicans. — WSJ

Warren highlighted the lengths to which President Obama and Democrats had gone in 2009-2010 to garner Republican support for the PPACA.

“President Obama tried to move us forward with health-care coverage by using a conservative model that came from one of the conservative think tanks that had been advanced by a Republican governor in Massachusetts,” Warren told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

“Now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single payer,” she added. […]

“The progressive agenda is America’s agenda,” Warren said. “It’s not like we’re trying to sell stuff that people don’t want. … It’s not that at all. It’s that we haven’t gotten up there and been as clear about our values as we should be, or as clear and concrete about how we’re going to get there.” — The Hill

John Conyers Jr.’s Medicare For All bill in the House now has 113 co-sponsors, that is almost 60% of the Democratic caucus.

—  @subirgrewal


Meanwhile, in California, Assembly Speaker Rendon made a decision to shelve a single-payer bill that had passed the California Senate.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s abrupt decision Friday to sideline a bill that would have established single-payer healthcare in California roused a swift and fiery backlash from the measure’s supporters, who accused the Democrat from Paramount of unilaterally blunting the effort for sweeping overhaul of the state’s healthcare system. […]

But even as the bill advanced through the state Senate, it was apparent that it would have to overcome several obstacles to succeed. Legislators, who voted this year to raise taxes on gasoline, were wary of backing additional taxes. The proposal hinged on approval by voters and the federal government. […]

The bill’s progress alarmed some interest groups that saw crucial questions go unanswered. Laphonza Butler, president of the statewide council of the Service Employees International Union, said her union was eager to discuss the single-payer proposal but worried that specifics about implementation, namely how it would be integrated with care programs offered by county governments, were going unaddressed. — LA Times

David Sirota writes in the IB Times that Governor Jerry Brown, who has previously supported single-payer, did not support the bill. Sirota also outlined millions of dollars in donations to the CA Democratic party and assembly members from groups opposed to the single-payer bill.

Meanwhile, NY’s single-payer bill has passed the assembly but is being held up in the Senate by the Republican speaker (who holds the position with the support of the IDC). The bill is supported by all Democratic senators, except for Simcha Felder. The Campaign for NY Health has been organizing constituent calls to support the bill.

NY Senate is one senate vote away from passing Single Payer Health Care.

The New York Health Act passed the NY assembly this year, just as it has the past two years. The NYHA would establish a single-payer universal health-care system in New York, covering all New York residents. Every New York resident would be eligible to enroll, regardless of immigration status, age, income, wealth, employment, or other status. Coverage would include all services currently required by the state’s insurance laws and offered in the health-care plans offered to state public employees.

The plan would be funded through a progressive payroll tax/deduction that would replace health-insurance premiums for most employees. The tax would be graduated with surcharges for high-income New Yorkers. NYHA would serve as a base insurance plan for all New Yorkers and private insurance would only be available for additional services. Long term care isn’t covered initially, but the bill required a commission to propose a plan for LTC within two years.

The bill is sitting in committee in the NY senate with 31 co-sponsors. One more co-sponsor and the bill will have a majority of the Senate backing it. The entire Democratic and IDC caucus is sponsoring it, except for Simcha Felder.

Continue reading “NY Senate is one senate vote away from passing Single Payer Health Care.”

Kushner family touting Trump ties while selling green cards to foreign investors for $500k.

The EB-5 program allows investors to, in effect, buy a green card if they invest 1 million (or $500k in certain areas). The investment has to create or preserve a certain number of jobs in the US. Real-Estate developers have been using this program to offer investors apartments/equity with green cards attached for years. Trump himself has marketed properties and raised capital by wooing foreign investors with the same promise of a green card.

This week, Jared Kushner’s sister was in China, touting her family’s ties to the White House as she marketed there family’s development in Jersey City, NJ. The slides had a picture of Donald Trump on them, suggesting Jared’s father-in-law could expedite their visas.

 

Mr. Trump’s political power was palpable at the Shanghai event even if his name went unsaid. As on Saturday in Beijing, one slide that was presented to the Shanghai audience, describing who will decide the future of the visa program for foreign investors, included a photograph of Mr. Trump, as shown by a snapshot taken by an audience member. — NY Times

The Washington Post researcher for the story on the ground was threatened and harassed.

Journalists barred from China event pitching investment in Kushner project — The Hill

Jared Kushner still retains his interest in the family real-estate business, though he has resigned from his executive positions. The New Yorker called it his Trumpian “divestment” strategy.

Over several hours of slide shows and presentations, representatives from the Kushner family business urged Chinese citizens gathered at a Ritz-Carlton hotel to consider investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a New Jersey luxury apartment complex that would help them secure what’s known as an investor visa. […]

The tagline on a brochure for the event: “Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States.”

And the highlight of the afternoon was Meyer, a principal for the company, who was introduced in promotional materials as Jared’s sister.

— WaPo

PS. This is a piece about the Kushner family trying to leverage their ties to the White House in their business. This isn’t about the EB-5 visa per se, though there are legitimate questions as to whether its use by real-estate developers to raise cheap capital is in keeping with the spirit of the program. There are numerous comments exploring the drawbacks of the program. Pres. Obama, Sen. Leahy and Sen. Feinstein have all been somewhat skeptical of the creative uses real-estate developers have put the program to. This PBS piece is a good place to start if you want to know more about gerrymandering and lobbying by developers to qualify for the lower 500k investment threshold.