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real-human



Joined: 02 Jul 2011
Posts: 7908
Location: on earth

PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MalibuGuru wrote:
Trump spent way less money than Clinton. He knew he didn't need the popular vote. Why spend the money to get it?


when you talk barf comes out... low level thinker Malibu barfie...

he spent less because the russians and the NRA and so on spent dark money.

Plus fox was spending billions in free advertising for trump so was the rest of the media. Show me where they brought up the rape of a child case against him with several sworn affidavits. I wonder who paid her off to shut up?

again the media gave him free press all the time attacking Hillary on fake pretenses.

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wsurfer



Joined: 17 Aug 2000
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mat-ty wrote:
wsurfer wrote:
mat-ty wrote:
wsurfer wrote:
mat-ty wrote:
wsurfer wrote:
mat-ty wrote:
wsurfer wrote:
mat-ty wrote:
wsurfer wrote:
Why would they claim that? To show how gullible they are?

Barbie, you are still missing the point. Do you think the Russians put a disclaimer on the end of every message and account they controlled saying " I am Vladimir Putin and I approve this message"?
Look if the participants in the electoral side "unwittingly" became involved it does not show any real intellectual forethought on their part.
One account had 100,000 followers.
The election was won by 88,000 voltes.It's a classic example of "fool some of the people all of the time".



Keep dreaming Rim-Lick. Your fantasy of Trump going down(politically) is dwindling by the day.


The American people are growing tired of your pathic, resource draining, and costly fishing expedition.


You know and I know his time is short lived.
That is why instead of having a healthy debate about it, you resort to petty, pathetic name calling. You're (or you are) like a cornered rat Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
PLEASE don't tell me that you are anyone of your kind represent the "American people".


3 years minimum nitwit. He's going nowhere, if you think he is, you are in for a major dissapointment.

He was the worst candidate in history, and you still couldn't beat him. Even cheating, sending goon squads to rallys, sending your talking points to your allies in the press....YOU STILL LOST, YOU F@@KING CHUMP.

I'm having the time of my life. Watching the left squirm and scream like little school girls is priceless. Read some polls retard, the American people have grown tired of your 16 month hissy fit.


More name calling, nice going Matty-boy. When you say "you" what do you mean? I personally had nothing to do with what you insinuate. So who the F is "you". Are you making an attempt to generalize the 64% of the people who did NOT vote for this chump.
Again, you're just like a trapped RAT who can do nothing but lash out and not really add anything meaningful to the debate. Really it's quite laughable Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Try finishing high school before you attempt any more comebacks. You're young, you have time. GED is just a few years out of your life. Go for it Exclamation Exclamation Exclamation




If you're an example of higher education I'm not impressed. 64% ?interesting, where did you dig that up. 304 / 227, do you know what those lopsided numbers represent dipshit???? A F@@KING LANDSLIDE
Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing


You remain undereducated and uninformed Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy



Waiting for you explanation of the 64%. Did you have a senior moment?
Did Trump win with 36%? Confusion and silly limricks are early signs of dementia..


Sorry I was overly optimistic it's actually lower 23%, but his base is about 36%, doesn't mean they all voted.
I can't believe this late in the game you still need this explained to you but try reading a bit, you may get it.

https://www.npr.org/2016/11/02/500112248/how-to-win-the-presidency-with-27-percent-of-the-popular-vote

http://www.weeklystandard.com/the-election-came-down-to-77744-votes-in-pennsylvania-wisconsin-and-michigan-updated/article/2005323


Is this what so called well educated people do when they post a moronic NON-FACT? Dodge and deflect and hope no one notices your stupidity.

48/46 for the irrelevant popular vote nitwit.
Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes


And where did you pull those numbers from? Let me guess, your arse! Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
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Location: Berkeley, California

PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After weeks while Bard the fan-boy has retweeted from Trump and Fox and friends the benefits of the tax bill, the numbers are coming in. Here’s what they look like.

$88.6 billion so far for stock buy backs. Of course, before Reagan those used to be illegal; they tend to prop up stock prices. Stockholders benefit.

$2.5 billion for employee bonuses. That’s right, about 3%. Of course those are one time, so they aren’t even additional spending power over time. Yes indeed, the oligarch rewarded the oligarch’s that he is beholden to—here and in Russia—and screwed the little people. Bard still doesn’t get it. I guess he likes the lube.
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wsurfer



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mac wrote:
After weeks while Bard the fan-boy has retweeted from Trump and Fox and friends the benefits of the tax bill, the numbers are coming in. Here’s what they look like.

$88.6 billion so far for stock buy backs. Of course, before Reagan those used to be illegal; they tend to prop up stock prices. Stockholders benefit.

$2.5 billion for employee bonuses. That’s right, about 3%. Of course those are one time, so they aren’t even additional spending power over time. Yes indeed, the oligarch rewarded the oligarch’s that he is beholden to—here and in Russia—and screwed the little people. Bard still doesn’t get it. I guess he likes the lube.


Ok, I get it, he is OUR president, I just wish he would act PRESIDENTIAL!
Instead he continues his useless tweets.


“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is no acceptable,” tweeted Trump. He accused the FBI of “spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the 2016 Trump campaign”.
Enough said, this shite wears me out.
I'm going surfing to forget about life for a while! Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

But a nice response to our Prez from Florida kids who lost their friends.
"17 of my classmates are gone. That's 17 futures, 17 children, and 17 friends stolen. But you're right, it always has to be about you. How silly of me to forget. #neveragain"

If you are going to be OUR president then please ACT Presidential, you C%nt!
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mac



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Location: Berkeley, California

PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nobody seems to remember the promise to drain the swamp. Let's look at the conflicts of interest present in the White House. This is only a partial list, and ignores the obvious ones like Zinke and Pruitt.

With all due respect, Trump's advisers have one thing in common--an interest in personal aggrandizement trumps ethical considerations. Let's look at the conflicts of interest. https://www.apmreports.org/ethics



Betsy DeVos has made money in many things, including charter schools. She used her political influence to avoid oversight of her charter schools. As the grandfather of a child with disabilities, her stripping of rights for children such as that borders on criminal. Conflict of interest.



Elaine Chao, who oversaw as Labor Secretary a weakening of safety rules for coal miners, kept her stock in a construction company. Hmm, could that be a conflict of interest with decision-making on transportation projects and policies?



Ben Carson hired his son to do work for HUD, despite warnings from attorney's about conflicts of interest.



Kellyanne Conway stumped for Ivanka in the oval office.



The sons and son-in-laws. No distance from their projects, too scandalous to get security clearances. With restrictions on immigration, Kushner can continue to peddle citizenship in exchange for investments in his real estate companies.



Wilbur Ross--you figure out how he moved $2 billion in assets into trusts for his family--and avoided even the appearance of conflicts of interest?



Mnuchin sold some of his interests at a big profit. Is it enough? http://cepr.net/blogs/cepr-blog/steven-mnuchin-s-stealth-conflict-of-interest



Brenda Fitzgerald--trading in tobacco stocks while at Center for Disease Control?



Nikki Haley--violated Hatch Act.



Health Hall--working on railroads and as a consultant?



Mick Mulvaney--helping payday lenders. Certainly in the interest of consumers, eh?



Barry Meyer at NOAA--http://www.campaignlegalcenter.org/document/conflicts-interest-noaa-nominee-barry-myers



Tom Price, Health and Human Services--private jets, stock trades--what more do you need?



Andy Puzder--out at Labor



Dan Scavino--reprimanded for violating the Hatch Act



David Shulkin--Veterans Affairs--lied about European trips. More important to take your wife to Wimbledon than to tend to veteran's health.



Ivanka--influence peddling in China. Did anyone actually expect the Trump family to manufacture anything in the US? They certainly have trouble getting loans here.



Then there are the more than 130 people in the White House who can't get a permanent security clearance. Because...

Why would anyone tolerate so many sleaze bags working for him? The most charitable explanation is that Trump has a high tolerance for sleaze bags that will deliver payoffs for Republican donors. The explanation that best fits the evidence is that Trump is a sleaze bag and expects that everyone else is too.
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jpbassman



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a big, deep swamp mac. It's gonna take more than a year.
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real-human



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

https://www.yahoo.com/news/m/4cc04b5e-1caf-3223-b75d-0accdb1420b9/former-nypd-boss-dismantles.html

Former NYPD boss dismantles Trump's teacher-arming plan as 'the height of lunacy'

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mac



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We've tried smart, now we've tried dumb. Trump replaces Buchanan as the worst President in the history of the US.



https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/opinion/trump-worst-best-presidents.html?rref=collection%2Fissuecollection%2Ftodays-new-york-times&action=click&contentCollection=todayspaper&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=3&pgtype=collection



Quote:
James Buchanan just picked up some pivotal votes 162 years after putting out this campaign poster. Credit Library of Congress
Perhaps you read this week that Donald Trump has replaced James Buchanan as the worst president in the history of the United States.

This was in a survey of experts in presidential politics — people who have an opinion about whether Chester A. Arthur was better than Martin Van Buren. Trump came in last, with a score of 12 out of 100.


I'm surprise he scored that high. JP likes the stupid scum bag team. Nobody that actually knows anything or pays attention agrees.
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mac



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the current New Yorker. I'll highlight the best parts for the reading challenged.

Quote:
By Jeffrey Toobin

In Moscow, Trump partnered with the property tycoon Aras Agalarov, describing him, wrongly, as Russia’s richest man.Illustration by Barry Blitt

The first-round results of the 2013 Miss Universe pageant seem to have come as a surprise to some of the competition’s judges, who thought that they would declare the finalists. The seven judges of the pageant’s preliminary round were charged with winnowing eighty-six contestants to fifteen finalists. Divided into two groups, they had brief conversations with each of the contestants, who then paraded onstage, first in bathing suits, then in evening gowns. The judges—including public-relations professionals, a modelling entrepreneur, and a fashion reporter—rated each woman on such qualities as “appearance” and “personality,” after which the ballots were whisked away. “They told us not to share how we voted with each other, but we did anyway,” one of the preliminary judges told me. When the finalists were announced, he said, the winners included several who hadn’t been selected. “I was shocked,” the judge told me. “I didn’t know what had happened. I felt ridiculous.” The contestants were not so naďve—they understood who was in charge.
From 1996 to 2015, Donald Trump co-owned the Miss Universe Organization, which also included the Miss U.S.A. and Miss Teen U.S.A. pageants. A day or two before a pageant began, Trump would casually visit the contestants while they conducted their final rehearsals. Former contestants told me that Trump would circulate among the young women, shaking hands and chatting with each of them, periodically turning to speak with Paula Shugart, the president of the Miss Universe Organization, who followed him at a discreet distance. (Paula Shugart declined to comment.) Adwoa Yamoah, who competed as Miss Canada in 2012, told me, “He made comments about every girl: ‘I’ve been to that country.’ ‘We’re building a Trump Tower there.’ It was clear the countries that he liked did well. He’d whisper to Paula about the girls, and she’d write it down. He basically told us he picked nine of the top fifteen.” Kerrie Baylis, who was Miss Jamaica in 2013, described a similar scene and added that, when the finalists were announced, “the list looked like the countries that Donald Trump did business with, or wanted to do business with.” Shi Lim, who competed that year as Miss Singapore, told me, “The finalists were picked by Trump. He was really in charge. We called it the Trump card.” (A Miss Universe spokeswoman said that the pageant rules allowed the company’s staff, including Trump, to participate in naming the finalists.)
Trump has long viewed his businesses as mutually reinforcing, with all the products—from hotels to steak, vodka to golf resorts—complementing one another. As he said in the introduction to the first episode of “The Apprentice,” the reality-television show that made him a global celebrity, “I’ve mastered the art of the deal and have turned the name Trump into the highest-quality brand.” Trump often staged the Miss Universe pageant in cities where he had other business interests, and finalists usually came from countries where Miss Universe had strong television ratings. Under Trump, the pageant was held twice in Las Vegas, twice in Florida, and twice in Puerto Rico. In the other years, Trump kept the pageant true to its origins as a swimsuit competition by setting the ceremony in warm-weather locations like Panama City, Săo Paulo, Quito, and Mexico City. (Although interest in beauty pageants has faded in the United States, it remains high in Latin America.) Only once did Trump steer the pageant away from temperate environments—in November, 2013, when Miss Universe took place in Russia.
Today, the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow looks like a harbinger of the Trump campaign and Presidency, featuring some of the same themes and characters. Miss Universe represents a paradigmatic example of Trump’s business style in action—the exaggerations that teeter into lies, the willingness to embrace dubious partners, the hunger for glamour and recognition. Trump got away with this kind of behavior for decades, and he played by the same rules during his run for the Presidency.
Last Friday, Robert Mueller, the special counsel, unveiled the indictment of thirteen Russian nationals, and three Russian organizations, on charges that they conspired to throw the 2016 election to Trump. Their main method, the indictment contends, was the manipulation of social media through posts by Russians operating under stolen identities. The Russians’ diction was sometimes imperfect—one Instagram post said a “particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary”—but their goal was apparent. In the words of the indictment, the conspirators sought to provide information to the American public “supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton.”
The indictment does not explicitly assert that Trump or his campaign knowingly participated in the Russian conspiracy. On Friday afternoon, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said that the President took this omission as vindication, noting that Trump “is glad to see the Special Counsel’s investigation further indicates—that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and that the outcome of the election was not changed or affected.” In fact, Mueller’s charges suggest the opposite. The undertaking had more than eighty employees and a budget of more than a million dollars a month.
The indictment does not address several other efforts that American intelligence agencies have tied to Russia, such as the hacking of e-mail accounts linked to prominent Democrats. And Mueller has not yet made public his findings on the clearest link between the Trump campaign and Russian interests: the link that emerged from the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. The ever-more-pressing question is whether Trump and the Russians used the relationships cemented at the pageant to advance Trump’s goal of becoming President of the United States.
Shortly after Yolande Betbeze was named Miss America 1951, she precipitated a crisis. An aspiring opera singer, Betbeze announced that she would not pose in a bathing suit when she went on tour. Executives at Catalina swimwear, a sponsor of the pageant, were offended, and the company decided to create competing events, which came to be called Miss Universe and Miss U.S.A. (Miss U.S.A., not Miss America, advances to the Miss Universe competition.) That rift still defines the differences between the pageants. Miss America, with its earnest talent competitions and its scholarships for winners, purports to reward a multidimensional female ideal. Not so Miss Universe. As Candace Savage put it, in “Beauty Queens,” her amusing history of the pageants, “The new competitions were to emphasize ‘beauty,’ pure and simple, with none of the ridiculous folderol about talent.”
By the late nineteen-sixties, ownership of the Miss Universe Organization had passed to a lingerie company called Kayser-Roth. Cindy Adams, who was an assistant at the company, and her husband, the comedian Joey Adams, were friends of Roy Cohn, the New York lawyer and fixer who had been a close aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy. “Roy used to invite us everywhere, and once we went to a party on Long Island, where I happened to be seated at a small table with this tall young guy with blond hair,” Adams told me recently. “Roy told me at that dinner that one day Donald would own New York. I said, ‘Yeah, pass the gravy.’ ”
In 1971, Adams arranged for the Miss Universe contestants to walk down Seventh Avenue as a publicity stunt for the pageant, which was to take place in Miami that year. “Cops studded the route. Nobody was allowed near the contestants in the line of march,” Adams wrote later, in the New York Post, where she is a columnist. “I look over. Who’s alongside some nifty beauty from some Who-Knows-Where-Country? My brand-new Best Friend. He wasn’t The Donald then.” Adams concluded, “I also knew then that he loved beauty, loved blondes, and loved the Miss Universe Pageant.”
In 1996, Trump attended the Miss Universe pageant, which was being co-hosted in Paradise, Nevada, by the second of his three wives, Marla Maples. Trump heard that the owner of the organization was putting the business up for sale. “How could I pass up the opportunity to own the world’s premiere beauty pageant?” he later wrote. As with so much regarding Trump’s finances, the price he paid for it is something of a mystery. In “The Art of the Comeback,” he wrote that he beat out several competitors with a bid of ten million dollars; in subsequent interviews, he said that he had paid only two million.

From the beginning, Trump did little to conceal his attitude toward women. As he told Howard Stern in an interview, when he bought the pageant he found that it had strayed from its roots as a beauty contest. “They had a person who was extremely proud that a number of the women had become doctors,” Trump said. “And I wasn’t interested.” In 1997, during his first year as owner, Trump became embroiled in a conflict involving Alicia Machado, of Venezuela, who was the reigning Miss Universe at the time and had gained weight during her tenure. Trump went on a public crusade to shame her. Wearing a suit and tie, and trailed by cameras, he followed Machado into a gym to watch her work out. “This is somebody that likes to eat,” Trump told the reporters. The controversy resurfaced during the 2016 campaign, when Hillary Clinton, in the first Presidential debate, said, “He called this woman ‘Miss Piggy.’ Then he called her ‘Miss Housekeeping,’ because she was Latina.” After a pause, Clinton said, “Donald, she has a name: Her name is Alicia Machado.” (Trump was unrepentant, telling Fox News, “She gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem.”)
Trump also boasted about ogling Miss Universe contestants during the events. “I’ll go backstage before a show and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it,” he told Stern. “You know, they’re standing there with no clothes.” Over the years, when asked about his management of the pageants, he has often replied with some version of the quip “The bathing suits got smaller and the heels got higher and the ratings went up.” The part about ratings isn’t true. As the book “Trump Revealed,” by Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, noted, when Trump bought Miss Universe the viewership in the United States had declined from around thirty-five million in 1984 to twelve million in 1997. The numbers kept falling during Trump’s ownership, and the American audience for the 2013 pageant consisted of fewer than four million. Still, Trump recognized that the pageant was a useful vehicle for expanding his reach overseas, and no country so consistently kindled his ambitions as Russia.
Trump’s interest in the country goes back to the days of the Soviet Union. His first book, “The Art of the Deal,” published in 1987, begins with an account of a typical day in his life, including a phone call with an acquaintance who conducted a lot of business with the Soviet Union. “I’m talking about building a large luxury hotel, across the street from the Kremlin, in partnership with the Soviet government,” Trump wrote. “They have asked me to go to Moscow in July.” Later that year, he did go to Moscow and what was then Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), but his plans to build there never came to fruition.
Trump returned to Moscow in each of the following decades, hoping to add one of his eponymous towers to the city’s skyline. His regular visits have led some to speculate that Trump had a kind of obsession with the country, but he looked for deals all over the world, and he returned to Russia because that’s where the money was. A longtime adviser to Trump told me, “It’s a major metropolitan city, and around the years of 2000, give or take, with the privatization, there was a lot of money in Moscow.”
The atmosphere of post-Soviet Russia also seemed to suit Trump. He travelled to the city again in November, 1996, during the raucous “Wild East” days following the collapse of Communism and the Soviet system. His arrival in Moscow came after a plunge in his financial fortunes. (His 1995 tax return, published in part by the Times in 2016, showed losses of nine hundred and sixteen million dollars.) He had lost the trust of American banks and was forced to search for credit and business opportunities abroad. In a news conference shortly after his arrival in Moscow, he said that he planned to invest two hundred and fifty million dollars to build a pair of luxury apartment towers in the city, one to be called Trump International and the other Trump Tower. In addition, he said that he was looking into renovating and running two famous hotels from the Soviet era. As Trump said in a Mark Singer profile in The New Yorker, published a few months later, “We’re looking at the Moskva Hotel. We’re also looking at the Rossiya. That’s a very big project; I think it’s the largest hotel in the world. And we’re working with the local government, the mayor of Moscow and the mayor’s people.”
The Moskva, steps from Red Square and the Kremlin, was the subject of a bizarre legend. The story goes that during the early thirties, in the midst of Stalin’s purges, the architect submitted a set of plans to Stalin for the dictator’s approval. Stalin didn’t notice that the architect had provided two versions of the front façade. Rather than risk Stalin’s wrath by pointing this out, the architect used both designs, one on the left side of the building, the other on the right. The architect survived the ordeal, but, by 1996, the building was falling apart, and city authorities were looking for investors to renovate it.
During this trip, Trump was accompanied by a prominent American businessman—Bennett LeBow, the chairman of the Vector Group, a holding company with investments in tobacco and real estate. LeBow and Trump arranged to meet with representatives of Boris Yeltsin’s government in a conference room at the Moskva to discuss taking over the hotel.
An expatriate businessman who attended the event that day told me, “I was just a kid, and I was supposed to help out at the meeting. LeBow was upstairs, in a room called ‘the library,’ but Trump was late. So they sent me downstairs to wait for him.” When Trump arrived, he was accompanied by two young Russian women. The businessman said, “I had never met Trump before, and I was nervous as hell. So I started panicking. I mean, this was a serious meeting. So I suggested to Trump that I wait downstairs at the bar with them. I’d keep them company until he was finished. He said no way. He thought it was hilarious. He wanted to go upstairs with them. So what could I do? The three of them went up to the meeting together.”
As with Trump’s previous visit, nothing came of this mission to Moscow. (LeBow declined to comment. A White House spokesperson indicated that the President has “absolutely no memory of any women attending a meeting with him while there and disputes any suggestion to the contrary.”) Later, the Rossiya was torn down and replaced with a park. The Moskva was eventually renovated and converted into a Four Seasons Hotel.
By the turn of the century, Trump had moved away from the capital demands of developing real estate and begun leveraging his celebrity into franchise deals. He had experienced repeated bankruptcies in Atlantic City, and was cut off from traditional sources of funding. As a result, he began to welcome less reputable partners, as long as they had access to cash.
His ambition of putting his name on a building in Russia persisted. A source in Moscow told me that “Trump was always trying to get in touch with Russian money,” adding that in 2007 the source brought a Russian real-estate developer to meet with Trump at Trump Tower, in New York, to discuss a franchise project in Moscow. “The deals were always the same,” the source said. “Trump would lend his name, and the local guy would put up the money, build, and manage. Nothing came of it.”
Trump made his first foray into the Russian market when he lent his name to Trump vodka. “By the summer of ’06,” Trump said in a news release, “I fully expect the most called-for cocktail in America to be the ‘T&T,’ or the ‘Trump and tonic.’ ” The product was launched at a series of parties in New York, Miami Beach, and Hollywood. Among the guests, according to news reports, were Stormy Daniels, the porn actress, and the former Playmate Karen McDougal, both of whom were reportedly later paid to conceal their relationships with Trump. In 2007, with similar fanfare, Trump announced that his vodka would expand its distribution into Russia, with a $1.5 million deal for ten thousand cases. The vodka flopped, in Russia and elsewhere. A longtime vodka executive in Russia told me, “Trump vodka never even showed up on our sales reports—that’s how little it sold.” Production ceased in 2011.
The 2008 recession shattered the real-estate market, but Trump’s position was cushioned by the success of “The Apprentice,” which was being syndicated around the world. Trump SoHo, a hotel and condominium in New York, had already begun selling space. His partners in the project included Felix Sater and Tevfik Arif, two real-estate operators who were born in the Soviet Union and maintained strong ties to Russia. Sater, the son of a Russian mobster, had immigrated to the United States as a child. In 1993, he went to prison for fifteen months after stabbing a man in the face with the stem of a broken margarita glass during a barroom confrontation; and in 1998 he pleaded guilty for his role in a forty-million-dollar stock-fraud scheme carried out with mobsters. In 2010, Arif, who had worked at the Soviet Ministry of Trade, was arrested in Turkey with ten others aboard a luxury yacht and accused of being part of a prostitution ring. (He was later acquitted.) Sater and Arif were principals in the Bayrock Group, which invested in Trump real-estate ventures from its offices on the twenty-fourth floor of Trump Tower.
The extent of Trump’s financial ties to Russia remains unclear, but he appears to have had a number of investors and business partners from the former Soviet Union. In 2008, Donald Trump, Jr., told the audience at a real-estate conference, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. . . . We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” He also said that he had made six trips to Russia during the previous eighteen months. In 2013, Trump’s son Eric told the sportswriter James Dodson, “We don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.” (On Twitter, Eric Trump denied having made the remark.)
In 2013, Trump’s prospects in Russia began to look more sanguine, thanks to a music video featuring a pop star named Emin Agalarov. Emin’s father, Aras, had made a fortune as a real-estate developer in Moscow, and Emin had put the family fortune to work for the benefit of his singing career. The Moscow music scene favors hard-edged rap, but Emin found a degree of success as a crooner in the mold of Enrique Iglesias. In 2013, he had high expectations for a danceable tune called “Amor,” and he wanted an especially beautiful woman to star in the accompanying music video. Emin and his publicist, Rob Goldstone, a former tabloid journalist from Great Britain who was hired to promote Emin’s singing career outside Russia, approached the Miss Universe Organization and asked if the men could cast the reigning champion, Olivia Culpo, the former Miss U.S.A. Emin and Goldstone also suggested that the Agalarovs host Miss Universe in Moscow in 2013, so that Emin could perform for the pageant’s global audience. That June, Emin and Aras travelled to Las Vegas to close the deal with Trump.
In some ways, the alliance between the Agalarovs and Trump seems preordained. The Russian family’s mingled interests in real estate and show business led some to call them the Trumps of Russia. Unlike Trump, Aras came from a family of modest means, but he had roots in Azerbaijan, where work was under way on a Trump hotel and residence tower in Baku, the capital. Emin was married to the daughter of Ilham Aliyev, the longtime Azerbaijani President. (They have since divorced.) Christopher Steele, the former British spy who examined Trump’s ties to Russia, may have hinted at a darker explanation for the Agalarovs’ interest in Miss Universe. Retained by the research firm Fusion GPS, which was paid by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Steele asserted that the “Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting trump for at least 5 years.” Even if Steele is wrong and Russia was not cultivating Trump as an asset, it seems clear that by this point Trump would do business with just about anyone. No licensing deal was too demeaning; he would attach his name to steak, water bottles, neckties, mattresses, lamps, and vodka.
On the trip to Las Vegas, Aras and Emin Agalarov were accompanied by Goldstone and came to an agreement with Trump that the Agalarovs would host the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow that year. With his characteristic salesman’s bravado, Trump later said that there had been eighteen other bidders vying for the pageant; in fact, it’s not clear that there were any others. According to various reports, the Agalarovs invested twenty million dollars to bring the event to Moscow. “Twenty million dollars is not even close,” Scott Balber, a lawyer for Emin and Aras Agalarov who has also represented Trump, told me. “The site fee to Miss Universe was a couple of million dollars at most.”
In 2002, Trump had sold half of the Miss Universe Organization to NBC, which broadcast the pageant, and the network had representatives on the organization’s board. “Trump didn’t decide alone that the pageant would take place in Russia,” Michael Cohen, a former executive vice-president of the Trump Organization and a personal attorney to the President who also served on the Miss Universe board of directors, told me. “The board unanimously agreed that the package the Agalarovs put forward was best for the company and best for the contestants, so we approved it. I suspect that one of the Agalarovs’ motivations was to advance Emin’s career.”
Trump, though eager to take his pageant to Moscow, likely had an exaggerated idea of the Agalarovs’ place in Russian society. “I remember when we first came to him for a meeting, he was sitting in the lobby of his own hotel, which, of course, is called ‘Trump,’ ” Aras Agalarov told the Russian magazine Snob. Trump, Aras continued, “began to shout, ‘Look who came to me! This is the richest person in Russia!’ ” According to Forbes’s ranking of the wealthiest people in Russia, Agalarov placed fifty-first, with a net worth of about $1.7 billion. Anders Aslund, an expert on the Russian economy at the Atlantic Council, in Washington, told me, “Most of the great Russian fortunes come from natural resources, like oil, and the real-estate developers are distinctly second-class in the pecking order. And Agalarov’s stuff is mostly on the outskirts, in what’s called the Moscow region, on the way to the airport.” Nor does Agalarov wield outsized clout with Putin. “Real-estate developers like Agalarov are under the thumb of the government, and they are expected to do as they are told,” Aslund said. “Agalarov is building two stadiums for the World Cup this summer, not because he’ll make much money doing it but because it’s what the government expects of him. Agalarov surely had met Putin, but in 2013 neither he nor Trump would have mattered much to Putin.”
Trump’s mistaken impression of Agalarov seems to have given him an exaggerated expectation of meeting Putin, which was one of his goals in taking Miss Universe to Moscow. On June 18, 2013, just after Trump announced that the Miss Universe pageant would take place in Russia, he tweeted, with a kind of desperate giddiness, “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow—if so, will he become my new best friend?” That fall, before the pageant, David Letterman asked Trump, on “Late Night,” if he had ever met Putin. “I met him once,” Trump replied, falsely.
On Friday, November 8, 2013, Trump travelled to Moscow with Phil Ruffin, his business partner in Las Vegas. Ruffin is married to Oleksandra Nikolayenko, a former Miss Universe from Ukraine, who is forty-six years Ruffin’s junior. After they arrived, Trump attended a morning meeting about the pageant at his hotel, the Ritz-Carlton. Keith Schiller, a former New York City police officer who had long served as Trump’s bodyguard, sat on one side of the room. At some point during the session, Schiller testified to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, someone offered to send five women to Trump’s hotel room. Schiller said that he took the offer as a joke, rejected it, and told Trump of the invitation, which he said the two men laughed about.

Later that day, the Agalarovs hosted a reception for Trump at a Moscow outpost of the Nobu restaurant chain. Emin Agalarov owns several restaurants run by the Los Angeles-based chef Nobu Matsuhisa, who was also in Moscow to serve as a judge in the final round of Miss Universe the next day. About a dozen people attended, including Herman Gref, the former Minister of Economic Development and Trade under Putin and the president of Sberbank, the largest bank in Russia. From there, the Agalarovs took Trump to Crocus City, their shopping mall, west of the city, where the pageant would take place. Aras Agalarov hosted a fifty-eighth-birthday party for himself at which the contestants gathered to sing “Happy Birthday.” The event may have been Trump’s chance to inspect the women and render his judgments about who should advance to the finals.
The following morning, Emin, who had asked Trump to shoot a scene for his music video, brought a camera crew to the Ritz-Carlton. In a conference room, Trump recited his famous line—“You’re fired”—in one take. He also held a news conference and sat for an interview with Thomas Roberts, an MSNBC anchorman who would serve as the television host of the finals, along with Mel B., the British singer better known as Scary Spice. (Andy Cohen, the television personality, had co-hosted the previous year’s pageant but withdrew from the 2013 contest because Russia had passed an anti-gay law that year. Roberts—who, like Cohen, is gay—agreed to take his place.) Asked by Roberts about his relationship with Putin, Trump again dissembled, saying, “I do have a relationship, and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today.” Trump went on, “He’s probably very interested in what you and I are saying today, and I’m sure he’s going to be seeing it in some form, but I do have a relationship with him.” He told Roberts that Putin had “done an amazing job. . . . A lot of people would say he’s put himself at the forefront of the world as a leader.” Maria Abakumova, a Moscow-based journalist who worked for the Russian edition of Forbes at the time and covered Aras Agalarov, told me that people thought Putin would attend the pageant, but he never showed up. Later, Aras told the Washington Post that Putin had sent Trump a sort of consolation prize—a note along with a decorative box.
The faux triumphal arch that greets visitors to Crocus City establishes the grandiosity of the Agalarovs’ commercial complex. It is three separate but connected malls. One, dubbed “Vegas,” features moderately priced retailers. A second consists of dozens of luxury shops, and a third offers home-improvement products. There is also an aquarium, a hotel, a heliport, and Crocus City Hall, the six-thousand-seat theatre where the Miss Universe pageant would be staged.
To accommodate the international television audience, the live broadcast in Moscow began late on the night of Saturday, November 9th. Trump and Aras Agalarov sat next to each other in the front row. One judge, an Italian wristwatch designer named Italo Fontana, told me, by e-mail, that Trump “greeted me like we were friends since ages and with a smile and a pat on my shoulder he told me: ‘I recommend you, vote the most beautiful one!’ ”
The judges included Steven Tyler, of Aerosmith; the supermodel Carol Alt, who had been a contestant on “Celebrity Apprentice”; and the ice-skater Tara Lipinski. An announcer provided a few facts about each finalist—“She never wears flats because she feels she is made to be a beauty queen”—until only Miss Venezuela and Miss Spain remained. (The contestants were referred to by their countries, not by name.) At the end of the show, Olivia Culpo handed her crown to Gabriela Isler, of Venezuela, who became the seventh winner from that country since 1979.
Trump later boasted about how many important people he met during the weekend, telling Real Estate Weekly, a trade publication, “Almost all of the oligarchs were in the room.” This was far from true––very few attended––but photographs and news reports show that Trump did cross paths with some wealthy Muscovites and a variety of prospective business partners. Perhaps the most notorious guest was Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, a Russian businessman widely suspected of fixing an ice-dancing competition at the 2002 Winter Olympics. At the time of the pageant, he was a fugitive from justice in the United States, where he had been charged with running an organized-crime money-laundering operation from an apartment at Trump Tower, three floors below Trump’s penthouse. (He denies the allegations.)
The after-party for several hundred guests took place in a large meeting room on the Crocus City campus. Trump and the Agalarovs presided in one of the V.I.P. boxes, receiving guests and taking photographs. Timati, a leading Russian rapper, came to pay his respects. “It was a pretty sedate affair in their box,” one guest recalled, adding that, in the next box, Roustam Tariko, the founder of the business empire Russian Standard, which was an official partner of the pageant, held a livelier celebration, with about a dozen young women, including numerous Miss Russia contestants. (Russian Standard also sponsors the Miss Russia pageant, a feeder event for Miss Universe.) The parties wound down at around four in the morning.
Trump stayed at the Ritz-Carlton for only two nights, but his presence there has given rise to the most sensational accusation about his time in Moscow. The Steele dossier claims that Russian authorities had exploited Trump’s “personal obsessions and sexual perversion in order to obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ (compromising material) on him.” A source allegedly present at the scene said that Trump had rented the Presidential Suite at the hotel, where Barack and Michelle Obama had stayed, and that he had employed “a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him,” as a way of defiling the bed in which the former First Couple had slept. The accusation seems unlikely, though not impossible, and Trump has denied the validity of the dossier. In any case, he seems to have been in high spirits when he left Moscow. Shortly after his departure, he tweeted to Aras Agalarov’s account, “I had a great weekend with you and your family. You have done a fantastic job. trump tower-moscow is next. emin was wow!”
If Trump had simply gone back to his career in business, the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow would today rank as little more than a footnote in the colorful saga of a flamboyant New York real-estate developer. But a year and a half later, in June, 2015, Trump declared his candidacy for President in a notorious speech at Trump Tower, in which he accused Mexico of exporting criminals and rapists and called for the building of a border wall. Outrage followed, especially in the Spanish-speaking world, and Trump quickly made a deal to sell his ownership of the Miss Universe Organization, to the WME-IMG talent agency. Neither the sale price nor Trump’s profit on the deal, if any, has been disclosed.
In the Presidential campaign, Trump continued his embrace of Moscow with a roundelay of ingratiation and deference to Putin. He had also kept in touch with the Agalarovs. A year after the pageant, he appeared in another of Emin’s videos, to celebrate his thirty-fifth birthday. (“Emin, I can’t believe you’re turning thirty-five,” Trump said. “You’re a winner, you’re a champ!”) In April of 2016, Emin told the Washington Post, “I consider him a friend. We exchange correspondence. We see each other a few times a year.”
As a Presidential candidate, Trump continued working on a plan to build in Russia. In October, 2015, based on a proposal by Felix Sater, Trump signed a non-binding letter of intent to license the Trump name to a potential office tower in Moscow. In an e-mail sent at the time to Michael Cohen, Sater wrote, “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected. . . . Buddy our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this.” Cohen, who negotiated on Trump’s behalf, recalled, “The licensee was intent on developing the tallest building in the world, a hundred and twenty stories or so, with commercial space, a hotel, and residential. But the most important requirement we had was that Felix find the right piece of real estate for it, because the Trump brand is all about location, location, location. By January, 2016, I saw that he couldn’t come up with any location, so I told him the deal was dead.”
The scope of Russian meddling in the election remains unknown, but it appears to have included hacking e-mail accounts affiliated with prominent Democrats, seeding social media with pro-Trump and anti-Clinton items, and, perhaps, directing financial assistance to pro-Trump organizations. According to six U.S. intelligence chiefs, Russia is building on its 2016 efforts by launching a new round of attacks aimed at undermining the 2018 elections. On February 13th, Dan Coats, the director of National Intelligence, warned the Senate Intelligence Committee, “We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen, and other means of influence to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States.” In the same hearing, Christopher Wray, the director of the F.B.I., acknowledged that the President had not asked his intelligence officials to take specific measures to address Russian interference. “We need to inform the American public that this is real,” Coats said, in what sounded as much like an appeal to the President as to the public. “We are not going to allow some Russian to tell us how to vote and how to run our country. I think there needs to be a national cry for that.”
Trump, it seems, has never asked his top intelligence officials for an accounting of Russian activities during the campaign or for a plan to stop such efforts from continuing in the future. As a result, the quest for accountability rests largely with the Mueller investigation, which is trying to determine whether Trump and his campaign staff knew about, encouraged, or sponsored the Russian efforts. To date, the most direct evidence that they did is a result of connections forged in the lead-up to the 2013 Miss Universe contest. On June 3, 2016, Rob Goldstone, Emin Agalarov’s publicist, e-mailed Donald Trump, Jr., offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Donald, Jr., replied, “If it’s what you say I love it.” Six days later, Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, the candidate’s son-in-law, and Paul Manafort, then the chairman of the campaign, welcomed a group of visitors to Trump Tower led by a Russian attorney named Natalia Veselnitskaya. In July, 2017, the Times informed the White House that it was working on a story about that meeting. The President and his advisers, who were returning from a trip to Europe aboard Air Force One, prepared a misleading statement about the purpose of the meeting, asserting that it had been a harmless discussion of adoption policy.
Mueller’s prosecutors have taken a close look at the meeting, and at the President’s public response to its exposure. It is illegal for foreign nationals to contribute to American campaigns, including through in-kind contributions, such as opposition research. The misleading statement may become evidence of obstruction of justice. And the indictments of the Russians on Friday showed Mueller’s determination to reveal the extent of foreign influence in the election and to hold accountable those who facilitated it. For decades, in Trump’s business dealings, he never paid a price for his salesman’s hype, which repeatedly edged into falsehood. The Mueller investigation may now bring an unprecedented and overdue moment of reckoning. ♦

This article appears in the print edition of the February 26, 2018, issue, with the headline “The Miss Universe Connection.”

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wsurfer



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:49 am    Post subject: Nice one! Reply with quote

Nice one mac, actually didn't mind reading the whole thing but thanks for the highlights!
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