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Maher on Trump’s upcoming CPAC speech: ‘The shark is not gone. We need a bigger boat’

Former president’s son slams establishment Republicans, accusing them of bending to the radical left

“Real Time” host Bill Maher sounded the alarm ahead of former President Trump‘s highly anticipated speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where he is expected to tease another presidential run in 2024. 

Toward the end of this panel discussion on Friday night, Maher brought up a subject he “didn’t want to talk about,” which was the 45th president, whose scheduled CPAC address on Sunday in Orlando, Fla., will mark his first major public appearance since leaving office. 

“After he lost, people kept coming up to me and [saying], ‘Are you gonna?’ and I say, ‘He’s gone. Stop obsessing. I don’t want to talk about him!'” Maher began. “But knowing what’s going to happen this weekend at CPAC, I must bring this up. … The shark is not gone. We need a bigger boat. The shark went out to sea for a while, it’s going to come back, and eat more people on the shore.”

Maher continued, “He is going to say Sunday that he’s the presumptive nominee in 2024, no one is going to oppose him, there are nine panels at the CPAC convention all about how the election was stolen, none about why it was lost. That’s where they are. If you think that 2024 is not going to be a nailbiter or that he isn’t going to be the nominee, I think you’re being naive.”

Maher’s guest, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., agreed, declaring Trump the “absolute frontrunner right now,” who “very well might be” the GOP nominee in 2024, citing Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s drastic turnaround declaring that Trump would “absolutely” have his vote despite his fierce condemnation of the former president following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Fellow panelist Ezra Klein of The New York Times insisted that the “problem” isn’t Trump but instead is the Republican Party that “enables him,” adding that they “don’t have the courage” to tell the former president that he is “bad for the party at this point.” 

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“The two wings of the party that I can see are Trump and then the people who want to take his voters, who want to be his successor,” Maher responded. “There’s Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and Nikki Haley. They want to be the next nominee but they’re not about to get rid of his voters. They just want to be Trump’s successor.” 

Munger: A little inequality is good for the economy

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Investing icon Charlie Munger, Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK-BBRK-A) vice-chairman and Warren Buffett’s long-time business partner, says wealth inequality is “the inevitable consequence” of policies that make a nation grow richer and elevate the poor.

“I think that to some extent, the complaint about the rich getting richer as the as a result of the COVID panic, I think that’s a misplaced concern. Nobody was trying to make the rich richer. We were trying to save the whole economy under terrible conditions. And I think, by and large, we made the most practical decisions that were available to us,” Munger said on Wednesday at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders of the Daily Journal Corporation (DJCO), where he serves as chairman of the board.

When asked if the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates low will only exacerbate income inequality, Munger prefaced that “it’s hard to know what exact macroeconomic policy is correct. Because no one knows for sure, just how much government intervention is wise, and what point the government should stop intervening.”

The 97-year-old investor added that he doesn’t have “any great gift” at making macroeconomic predictions either.

The policies made the wealthy owners of financial assets were not a “deliberate choice” but instead an “accidental byproduct of trying to save the whole civilization.” What’s more, it was “probably wise” that those policies were implemented.

“And it wasn’t some malevolence of the rich that caused it. It was an accident. And the next time around why the poor will get richer faster than the rich, that things circulate it. Who gets rich faster by class is going to vary over time, and I don’t think anybody should be too concerned by it,” Munger said.

He proceeded to point out that a prosperous nation requires a free market system.

“And if you have a free market system that’s trying to get rich in the way recommended by Adam Smith, what happens is that it’s a very irritating system because the poverty that causes so much misery is also causing the growth that makes everybody get out of poverty. In other words, to some extent, it’s a self-correcting system.”

“That makes the whole thing very awkward. And it’s a shame that the economics textbooks don’t emphasize how much a growing economy needs poverty in order to get out of poverty. And if you try and reduce the poverty too much, it’s counterproductive,” Munger said.

He added that these are tough questions and most people assume there’s a simple answer.

“If we could make the world richer by just raising the minimum wage to $100,000 a second or something, of course, we would do it, but we can’t.”

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett, left, and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, briefly chat with reporters Friday, May 3, 2019, one day before Berkshire Hathaway's annual shareholders meeting. An estimated 40,000 people are expected in town for the event, where Buffett and Munger preside over the meeting and spend hours answering questions. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett, left, and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, briefly chat with reporters Friday, May 3, 2019, one day before Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting. An estimated 40,000 people are expected in town for the event, where Buffett and Munger preside over the meeting and spend hours answering questions. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Safety nets, not wealth taxes

When asked about the long-term consequences of the Fed’s policies creating financial excesses and income inequality, Munger again said no one knows how well the economy will work in the future.

“I do think that I’m way less afraid of inequality than most people who are bleating about it. I think that inequality is absolutely an inevitable consequence of having the policies that make a nation grow richer and richer and elevate the poor. So, I don’t mind a little inequality,” Munger said.

He observed that rich families “generally lose their power and wealth and pretty fast.”

“And so I don’t worry that the country is being ruined by a few people are getting ahead a little faster than the rest of us.”

Responding to a question about implementing solutions such as a wealth tax to address inequality, Munger said, “any rich nation ought to have a social safety net that expands a little with its wealth.”

“And that’s what we’ve been doing through my whole lifetime. And I applaud the result,” he said.

He noted that the result would have been worse if either political party had been in control all by itself.

“In other words, I think the system of checks and balances and elections that our founders gave us actually gave us pretty much the right policies during my lifetime. And I hope that that will continue in the future. But I do think politics is getting more full of hatred and irrationality than it used to be in America, and I don’t think that’s good.”

In another question regarding the exodus of wealthy individuals and businesses from high-tax states like California, Munger observed that it’s “rising as we sit here.”

“I just see more and more of the rich people leaving. And of course, I think it’s vastly stupid for any state to be user-friendly to the rich people. They do way more good than harm. And, and they lose their money fast enough, you don’t need to worry about. Washington State is actually considering a wealth tax at the state level. I think that would be insanity. I predict that if they do that a lot of people will leave Washington.”

Proud Boys leader has no sympathy for lawmakers targeted by Capitol riot

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Cabinet secretary explains why he took on challenging role

Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys, sat down with CNN to talk about the group after some members had been charged in the Capitol attack.

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Miami (CNN)The leader of the far-right Proud Boys group does not care that lawmakers were terrorized by rioters inside the US Capitol on January 6 as they tried to do their jobs.  ”I’m not gonna cry about people who don’t give a crap about their constituents. I’m not going to sympathize with them,” Enrique Tarrio says.  More than a dozen people affiliated with the often violent, far-right  “Western Chauvinist” group have been charged for their roles in the insurrection, so CNN sat down with Tarrio to hear if he had any explanation or justification for their actions, or if he would now change tack. He gives pointed responses, but then adds lots of caveats.Content by ShutterflyShow your love with your favorite memoriesWith the tech wizardry of 2021 and Shutterfly’s easy-to-use interface, you can give a gift that’s totally unique to the both of you. What he has not done is change his mind about the role the Proud Boys played on January 6 or his feelings about the targeting of members of Congress despite the release of so much stunningly violent video. The attack left five people dead and dozens of police officers injured.The day after the attack, Tarrio posted a photo of House members crouched down and hiding, with a caption, “When the people fear the government, there is tyranny … When the government fears the people … There is liberty.” He told CNN he was quoting Thomas Jefferson, though there is no evidence the third President ever said that, according to his foundation.Enrique Tarrio posted this image on his Parler account following the Capitol attack.Enrique Tarrio posted this image on his Parler account following the Capitol attack.”When they support drone-bombing children in the Middle East … [and] those people are dead and they’re just cowering because a group of misfits came into the Capitol, I’m not going to be sympathetic,” Tarrio tells CNN.close dialog

He doubles down, dismissing the specter of a mob that had hammered on doors to the House and Senate trying to get to those inside: “I’m not going to worry about people that their only worry is to be reelected.”Tarrio was not at the Capitol on January 6. He was ordered to stay away from Washington, after being arrested in the city two days prior to the insurrection on a misdemeanor charge in connection to the burning of a church’s Black Lives Matter banner  in December, in addition to weapons charges. He admitted to both to CNN.He says over and over that he doesn’t support the attack on the Capitol, but he won’t condemn the attackers either.It’s not that simple, he says. “I think condemn is a very strong word.”Tarrio says he understands what got people so frustrated. Donald Trump supporters have felt demonized after being called “deplorables” and have been angry about protests that have turned violent in places like Portland and Minneapolis, shutdowns due to coronavirus and being kicked off popular social media sites, he says. Some, though not Tarrio, believe the lie that the election was stolen.Tarrio believes members of his organization got caught up in the moment, adding he might have done the same if he had been there.But he is also adamant the group never had plans to storm the Capitol.

Notoriety’s double-edged sword

Court documents show the Proud Boys are perhaps second only to the Oath Keepers when it comes to an organized group facing the most charges.Proud Boys are accused of conspiracy, making threats to assault a federal officer, stealing a police officer’s shield, robbery, theft and destruction of government property, carrying a dangerous weapon, assaulting, resisting or impeding officers, and removing barriers and fences at the Capitol.Dominic Pezzola, a Proud Boy from New York, used the stolen riot shield to repeatedly smash through a window at the Capitol.Footage of the attack shows the pro-Trump mob entering through that broken window.Dominic Pezzola smashes a window with a police riot shield.Dominic Pezzola smashes a window with a police riot shield.Tarrio says Pezzola merely “mess[ed] up.” “I just don’t see an egregious [act like] he assaulted somebody or he hurt somebody.”He believes his members — along with some others in the right-wing, anti-government Oath Keepers — are being scapegoated because of their notoriety.

DOJ and House managers zero in on far-right Proud Boys' role in Capitol attack

DOJ and House managers zero in on far-right Proud Boys’ role in Capitol attackHe says his men — and they are all men — were not violent that day and are being charged with felonies for trespassing and interrupting Congress.”They need a head to roll. They need heads on pikes,” Tarrio argues. “The FBI and the DOJ [are] using the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers as their go-to, to show the people that they did something.”The profile of the Proud Boys did soar after Trump told the group to “stand back and stand by” when he was asked to denounce extremists during the first presidential debate.The Proud Boys did fundraise and sell merchandise off that mention, and Tarrio seems happy to report that their membership doubled in the days following.But he is unwilling to accept more scrutiny along with more attention. Instead, he is quick to deflect.While happy to criticize the violence sometimes associated with anti-fascist protesters known as Antifa in cities like Portland, Oregon, he won’t acknowledge the role of Proud Boys in the same violent clashes, saying they fight only to defend themselves.Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys during a Stop the Steal protest in December 2020 in Washington, DC.Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys during a Stop the Steal protest in December 2020 in Washington, DC.He’s even backing down on calling for Antifa to be declared a terrorist organization, not because his loathing of them is any less but because he fears the same classification could be used against his group and others to “silence their freedom speech.”Canada recently did make that choice, adding the Proud Boys to its list of terrorist groups. But Tarrio insists he had changed his mind about Antifa before that decision. Tarrio disagrees with Canada’s designation and says the Canadian Proud Boys are considering their legal options to fight it.Tarrio is close to Trump confidant Roger Stone and even revealed he had been called to testify in front of a grand jury regarding Stone.Stone was then facing seven counts for lying to Congress and witness tampering in the probe to find out if the 2016 Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

A jury convicted Stone on all seven counts but Trump later pardoned him. During that case, an investigation was launched as to whether Stone had threatened the judge after a post appeared on his social media account showing a picture of the judge and what investigators thought could be a target behind her head. Stone testified that a person working with him on his social media accounts had chosen the image.CNN’s Katelyn Polantz first reported last week that a grand jury had been convened in 2019. Tarrio said he testified because he had access to Stone’s phone a couple of times to post social media content.Tarrio says he had nothing to do with posting that image.

What comes next

The Proud Boys leader says he has proof that his group never had any bad intentions on January 6. That proof, he says, is in internal communications in the days, weeks and months before the insurrection and is different from the public messages seen on Parler or Telegram. But in the next breath he says he won’t share the claimed exoneration, at least not yet. He’s waiting for the right moment when it has the biggest impact on the cases against his men.He says yes, he told his group not to wear their normal colors for the rally on January 6. But, he says, that wasn’t planning to evade authorities, it was just to trick Antifa.Tarrio admitted he was an informant for the FBI and other agencies after he was convicted in a federal fraud case, but he now says the FBI is not to be trusted and improperly uses its power.He says that after what happened on January 6, though, his group is looking at changing some of its tactics.”I think right now is the time to go ahead and overthrow the government by becoming the new government and running for office,” he says.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/25/politics/capitol-riot-proud-boys-enrique-tarrio-soh/index.html

Hope is contagious. Spread it: Saturday’s GNR

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It’s been almost a year since life here in the United States was completely changed by the coronavirus.  Almost a year since we learned how serious things might get.  Almost a year since we stopped doing so many of the things that we love.

These have not been easy times for anyone.  Over half a million Americans have lost their lives.  Many millions have lost people they loved.  Millions more have faced serious and debilitating illness. We have felt fear and economic pain and loneliness.  Buckets and buckets of loneliness.

But we have vaccines and people are being vaccinated.  

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My favorite news article of the week was the WaPo one about the people who are administering the vaccine

The happiest place in medicine right now is a basketball arena in New Mexico. Or maybe it’s the parking lot of a baseball stadium in Los Angeles, or a Six Flags in Maryland, or a shopping mall in South Dakota.

The happiest place in medicine is anywhere there is vaccine, and the happiest people in medicine are the ones plunging it into the arms of strangers.

“It’s a joy to all of us,” says Akosua “Nana” Poku, a Kaiser Permanente nurse vaccinating people in Northern Virginia.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had an experience in my career that has felt so promising and so fulfilling,” says Christina O’Connell, a clinic director at the University of New Mexico.

After a year of testing and treating terrified Americans, some of our health care workers are getting the immense joy of working to end this long nightmare.

For health-care workers, the opportunity to administer the vaccine has become its own reward: Giving hope to others has given them hope, too. 

What a wonderful fact about human beings: giving hope to others gives us hope.  Those of us who revel in these Good News Roundups and sharing them know that well.  

Giving others hope gives us hope.  Giving others love gives us love.  Giving others acceptance makes us feel more accepted.

When we tell people to fight the hate and fear and anger on the right with love, hope, and acceptance from the left, we are not providing empty phrases of unicorn/rainbow philosophy.  We are pulling out the strongest and most powerful weapon we have.  People may vote for Republicans when they are scared.  They may follow Trump when they are angry.  They may listen to Tucker Carlson when they are full of hate.

But people vote for Democrats when they are hopeful.  People support equality when they feel accepted.  People love others when they are loved.

So smile at someone.  Give a gift.  Send a loving text.  Call an old friend.  Send a neighbor a card to see how they are doing.  Spread love.  It will fill your heart.  It will spread.  It will make us all better.

Last week I shared a video by my friend Tyler Westcott.  Someone in the comments mentioned that he needed a fiddle player.  So here he is with his band Folkfaces.  Check them out when we can all travel and see music live again. In the meantime, enjoy this brief but beautiful 1 minute and 19 seconds that they created 🎵🎶🎻🎙

Great Virus News

Fully vaccinated people can gather individually with minimal risk, Fauci says

Two fully vaccinated people can gather individually with minimal risk, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Thursday.

“You can start getting together as individual people, even though the risk is not zero, the risk becomes extremely low when you have both parties vaccinated,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not released guidelines about gathering with other vaccinated people.

“My professional judgement is that when my daughter wants to come in here and she is doubly vaccinated, I’m going to have her over to the house, and I’m going to give her a big hug that I haven’t been able to do for a year,” Fauci said.

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Nursing Homes, Once Hotspots, Far Outpace U.S. in Covid Declines

for the first time since the American outbreak began roughly a year ago — at a nursing care center in Kirkland, Wash. — the threat inside nursing homes may have finally reached a turning point.

Since the arrival of vaccines, which were prioritized to long-term care facilities starting in late December, new cases and deaths in nursing homes, a large subset of long-term care facilities, have fallen steeply, outpacing national declines, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data. The turnaround is an encouraging sign for vaccine effectiveness and offers an early glimpse at what may be in store for the rest of the country, as more and more people get vaccinated.

From late December to early February, new cases among nursing home residents fell by more than 80 percent, nearly double the rate of improvement in the general population. The trendline for deaths was even more striking: Even as fatalities spiked over all this winter, deaths inside the facilities have fallen, decreasing by more than 65 percent.

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Biden and the Dems are Doing a Great Job

U.S. State Department creates position of diversity officer

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday announced the creation of a State Department chief diversity officer, an effort to make the diplomatic corps more representative and part of President Joe Biden’s pledge to work to heal U.S. racial divisions.

Income and Spending Gains Are Latest Sign of Economic Recovery

Personal income and spending both surged in January as a new round of government checks hit Americans’ bank accounts.

Spending last month increased by a healthy 2.4 percent, largely because of purchases of goods, while purchases of services lagged as the pandemic continued to weigh on the leisure and hospitality industries.

It was the biggest jump in personal income since April, when the figure rose by 12.4 percent, lifted by nearly $3 trillion in government transfer payments. That was mostly in the form of $1,200 checks that millions of households received from the federal government.

Equality Act with LGBTQ protections passes House

the House of Representatives passed sweeping legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, though it faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

Lawmakers passed the legislation on a 224-206, mostly party-line vote. Three Republicans voted with all Democrats.

The bill is one of President Joe Biden’s top legislative priorities, one he wants passed in his first 100 days in office.

The legislation amends civil rights laws including the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which had banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion and national origin, to include protections on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. It also would prohibit such discrimination in public places, on transportation and in government-funded programs.

Biden actually has a strategy for the Middle East, not just a Twitter account

Last week I noted that President Biden was facing early tests in the Middle East, and the world would be watching how he responded. It’s too early for a final grade, but so far he is passing his early tests with flying colors.

if Biden did nothing in response to the latest Iranian provocations, he would have risked sending a message of weakness that would have further emboldened Tehran — and played into unfair Republican accusations that he is appeasing the mullahs. On Thursday, Biden ordered the right response: an airstrike on a Syrian base used by Iranian-backed militias, including Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada.

Notably, and mercifully, absent was any of Donald Trump’s bloodthirsty rhetoric or juvenile taunts. Instead the White House left it to the Pentagon to announce the airstrike with a low-key statement

This is exactly the right tone to strike. Biden is laying down important red lines by telling Tehran that it cannot attack the United States or its allies with impunity, and it certainly cannot kill U.S. personnel. But Biden is also signaling that he does not want war, and he wants to resume nuclear negotiations. Indeed, this is the only way to deal with the Iranian threat: We need a two-track approach that tries to reassemble an international agreement to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons development while engaging in a policy of active containment and deterrence to curb Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.

Biden is said to nominate three to USPS board of governors

President Biden will nominate a former U.S. Postal Service executive, a leading voting rights advocate and a former postal union leader to the mail service’s governing board, according to three people briefed on the nominees, a move that will reshape the agency’s leadership and increase pressure on the embattled postmaster general.

Lawyers make progress in locating parents of children split from families at the border, latest court filing says

Lawyers are still trying to locate the parents of 506 children who had been split from their families at the US-Mexico border by the Trump administration, according to a new court filing — down from a month ago, when attorneys were looking for the parents of 611 children.

Wednesday’s filing is the first under the Biden administration, which is now responsible for the reunification of families separated at the US-Mexico border as a result of former President Donald Trump’s controversial “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

Biden shifts his operation to DNC ahead of 2022 midterm elections

President Biden has shifted the remnants of his campaign operation, including the donor and volunteer network that got him elected and several key staff members, over to the Democratic National Committee as part of a broader effort to build up the party before the 2022 midterm elections and a potential 2024 reelection campaign.

The decision to house his operation at the national party, and to continue fundraising and organizing efforts there, is intended to signal his commitment to Democratic candidates at all levels, including members of the House and Senate who are supporting his legislative efforts, according to senior White House officials.

Top advisers say Biden is not expected to create a committee for his own reelection until after the midterm elections next year. That means that the money he raises between now and then will go to broader party-building efforts and other candidates, a departure from the precedent-breaking approach taken by President Donald Trump, who filed paperwork to began fundraising for own his reelection on the day he took office in 2017.

Biden readies his first major penalties on Russia

The U.S. is preparing to respond to Russia’s poisoning and jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and is expected to coordinate a sanctions rollout with European allies in the coming weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.

The response would mark a break with the previous administration, which prepared a sanctions package following Navalny’s poisoning but never implemented it, the people said. It would also constitute the new administration’s first major step in holding Russia accountable for human rights abuses, which Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have listed as a key pillar of their foreign policy agenda.

We’re one month and change into the Biden presidency, and let’s just say it. He’s been staggeringly good. He has way surpassed my expectations. And it’s small wonder he has a 63 percent approval rating. Most people like what they see.

What’s he done, in big-picture terms? Three things. First and foremost, he and his team are not letting themselves be bullied by the economic supply-siders and neoliberals who’ve spent the last few decades transferring $50 trillion in wealth from the middle class to the rich.

Second, the Biden team understands that the standard Beltway definition of bipartisanship is useless with today’s Republican Party

Third, they don’t have contempt for Democrats to their left, which is a great thing to see.

An activist named Melissa Byrne was pressuring the Biden team on student loan debt via Twitter and even big ads in the Wilmington newspaper. She expected that she was raising some hackles.

Instead, according to the Times, Chief of Staff Ron Klain “told her to keep up the pressure, inviting her to more Zoom meetings with the transition team.” That’s the social-media era version of FDR’s famous challenge to labor leaders of his time to “go out and make me do it,” and it was so encouraging to read.

I see Klain’s steady hand in all the above. He’s just a mensch.

You probably could not have convinced me two years ago that Joe Biden would be this man. You definitely could not have convinced me 20 years ago that he would be this man. But he seems to understand very well the historical moment he’s in. It’s just a month, but wow, what a month.

Tides are Turning

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You Need to Take the Religious Left Seriously This Time

The religious left is growing and already transforming the conversation about major political issues.

to look at America’s religious left at this moment is to see something genuinely different. Places of worship are participating in demonstrations for civil rights larger than any protest movement in American history. Democrats like the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Joe Biden—political leaders whose faith isn’t just incidental to their public personas, but is a core component of both their identities and their appeal to voters—are staging important victories. The National Congregations Study, an annual survey of America’s places of worship, found 41 percent of self-identified liberal congregations lobbied or marched about immigration in 2018–19; in 2012, it was only 5 percent. Long locked out of power, a growing religious left is pounding on the door. And it has the potential to remake not only American politics, but the way we think about big questions of fairness, justice and what Americans owe to one another.

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Liberal group targets Republicans who voted to overturn 2020 election

A liberal voting rights group is pledging to spend at least $1 million to oust 20-plus Republican members of Congress who voted to contest the presidential election results.

The list, which the organization dubs the “Treason Caucus,” includes Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Josh Hawley (Mo.) and Rick Scott (Fla.). Reps. Devin Nunes (Calif.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Scott Perry (Pa.) and Jeff Van Drew (N.J.) are among the House members the PAC is looking to unseat.

“These are people who perpetuate the big lie [that] this election was stolen from Donald Trump,’” said Andrew Janz, founder of the Voter Protection Project, who ran against Nunes in 2018. “These are people who — after insurrectionists and domestic terrorists tried to overthrow an election — these are the same members of Congress, same politicians, who went back on the House floor, on the Senate floor, and voted in support of these insurrectionists by trying to invalidate a legal and fair election.”

‘Repeal and replace’ is dead. Republicans can’t figure out what comes next.

Former President Donald Trump is gone and so are his promises to throw out Obamacare. Now the Republican Party is left with figuring out what comes after “repeal and replace.”

“The ACA has become sort of embedded in popular consciousness, whether people realize it or not,” said Nicole Huberfeld, an expert on health law at Boston University. Given that Republicans couldn’t repeal the law when they ran the government, she added, “Maybe they’ve learned to move on.”

No amount of disaster can shake the GOP loose from Trump

The damage inflicted on Republicans since 2016 cannot be overstated. Even before his disastrous handling of the pandemic, Trump’s impulsiveness, ignorance, racist screeds and gratuitous personal attacks offended enough suburban Republicans and swing voters nationwide to cause disastrous election results for the party in the 2018 midterms. In 2018 and 2019, Democrats won gubernatorial races in the bright-red states of Kansas, Louisiana and Kentucky.

That Republicans ever saw Donald Trump as their ticket to a governing majority is damning enough. The fact that 76 percent of Trump supporters would vote for him again in 2024, according to the Suffolk/USA Today poll — even after he lost the White House and surrendered Congress to Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) — proves again how destructive their obsession is with this political loser.

As Biden’s approval rating rises toward the upper 50s, Trump’s Republican Party plummets ever closer to catastrophe. And yet, even as their plane disintegrates, Trump’s passengers keep celebrating every wrong move, every wrong turn and every pilot error that will seal their party’s fate.

Donald Trump Jr. deposed by DC attorney general as part of inaugural funds lawsuit

Donald Trump Jr. was deposed as part of the Washington, DC, attorney general’s lawsuit alleging the misuse of Trump inaugural funds, according to a new court filing, the latest investigation in which the former President’s children have surfaced.

In a court document dated Tuesday, DC Attorney General Karl Racine’s office revealed the former President’s son was deposed on February 11.
One person said prosecutors are asking “about everything under the sun about Donald, Ivanka, Don Jr and Eric, [and] Allen Weisselberg,” the chief financial officer.

Trump’s Judges’ Let Him Down. Now He’s in Truly Deep Sh*t.

And so it begins. Trump’s post-presidency promises to be a cascade of humiliating episodes: financial disclosures, embarrassing personal revelations, additionally damning evidence of conspiracy-mongering and insurrection-stoking, possibly even bankruptcy and criminal prosecution. Yes, maybe even jail time. Trump’s legal troubles will make Cersei’s walk of shame look like a warm Sunday in the park.

Just the Manhattan case, led by district attorney Cyrus Vance, raises a host of issues that could land Trump in hot water: fraudulent tax returns, doctored business records, and mismatches between those tax returns and documents that overvalued his business holdings in order to secure loans from Deutsche Bank. Vance has already deposed witnesses from Deutsche Bank and the Aon insurance company, and Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer, has testified under oath that Trump would manipulate his net worth upward to lenders (to get attention and perhaps to secure credit) and downward to the government (to avoid taxes). Vance’s response to the Supreme Court ruling was elegant in its brevity: “The work continues.”

Yes, Donald Trump is in very *real* legal jeopardy

The Manhattan District Attorney investigation is far from the only legal matter in which Trump currently finds himself entangled. Consider:
1. The New York attorney general’s office is looking into how the Trump organization valued its assets.
2. Defamation lawsuits from E. Jean Carroll and Summer Zervos.
3. A fraud lawsuit filed by Trump niece Mary Trump.
4. A possible charge of incitement by the DC attorney general for Trump’s role in the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.
5. Two investigations into Trump’s attempts to pressure Georgia elected officials to overturn the state’s election results.
And what we also know is that the freedom from prosecution afforded to a sitting president doesn’t hold for a former president. Nor is dealing with all of these various lawsuits cheap. Nor does Trump have unlimited resources at his disposal. (In fact, his financial concerns may be even more pressing than his legal ones.)

On the lighter side

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IF you enjoyed that 1 minute tease of Folkfaces at the beginning and want more, here is 20 minutes of bliss!

Enjoy all the great news! 

But also keep in mind that Republicans are going to republican.

The only way they can win is by keeping people from voting.  They are working like heck to make that happen and we need to do all we can to keep 2022 from being a year when they grab the Senate and House back from us.

How do we do that?  Fight voter suppression!   

What can you do?

  • Contact your local representative NOW to encourage them to pass the For the People Act.  This link makes it easy to do!
  • The ACLU plays a key role in filing lawsuits that often stop voter suppression.  Get involved with them at this link.  
  • The League of Women Voters work year-round to combat voter suppression through advocacy, grassroots organizing, legal action and public education.   You can get involved with them at this link
  • Volunteer with Black Votes Matter at this link.   They have on the ground work in 10 states and people from other states can write postcards, phone bank, fundraise, and text.
  • Spread The Vote works to get voters IDs before voting begins.  You can volunteer with them at this link.  
  • Finally, when it comes time to pass HR1 (the new voting rights act) the Democrats will have to end the filibuster to do it. It will not pass without that.  10 Republicans will not vote for it.  So, when the time comes, you will need to call, call, call and call your Senators to push them to do this. If you live in Arizona, Montana, or West Virginia, you may want to put in for some vacation time to really devote yourself to it.  It will be the only option.  Get ready!

I am so lucky and so proud to be in this with you ❤️ ✊ ❤️

Abrams rips Loeffler for launching voter suppression group, begins a counter-offensive

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Not content to be a deeply unpopular near-billionaire, Kelly Loeffler is starting her own voter suppression group in Georgia, which has already been dubbed “Unfair Fight” by critics. It likely presages another run for Senate in 2022, since she knows that she can’t win without cheating.

To justify the future actions of her “grassroots” group, she’s citing the impact that her lying has had on the electorate:

“We had unprecedented changes to our election laws in 2020 because of the pandemic,” Loeffler said. “And we need to take a really hard look at the impact of those changes and why it drove trust in our elections so far down.”

Thankfully, we have Stacey Abrams and Fair Fight going to bat for voting rights. Abrams did not give some smug, mealy-mouthed answer when asked about Loeffler — she went and released a blistering statement:

“It’s deeply disheartening that a former U.S. Senator would spend her time and her resources to publicly engage in the type of conspiracy theories that say that only certain Americans should be valued and have their votes counted. That’s what Kelly Loeffler is proposing. But I can’t be surprised. She accepted the support of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon conspiracy theorist, because in her mind, winning at all costs is more important than protecting the United States and the fundamentals of our democracy.”

Loeffler’s embrace of Trump’s lies helped embolden the local GOP, which is in the middle of setting up an arduous gauntlet that will make it tough for anyone without a personal assistant or a ridiculous amount of free time to vote. The state Senate passed its first suppression bill on Tuesday, which brings the state one step closer to requiring voter ID (either a photocopy of a state ID or the special number on the back of a card) to vote via absentee ballot.

It also introduced a big new omnibus bill that’s jam-packed some of the worst policy proposals, including ending at-will absentee voting and limiting drop boxes.

The House is also assaulting absentee balloting and early voting. It backed off on the explicitly racist banning of Sunday voting (aka Souls to the Polls), but it’s still pushing a multi-faceted attack on democracy. Some of its headline components include:

  • Photo ID requirements to request absentee ballots (not just a serial number, but an actual photocopy of an ID) and return absentee ballots,
  • A witness requirement on absentee ballots
  • Restriction on ballot drop boxes,
  • Reduced time to request and return absentee ballots,
  • Limited set times for early voting

It’s even worse than it sounds. Remember back last summer, during the Georgia primaries, when voting lines wound around blocks and blocks of Black neighborhoods? The average wait time in predominantly white neighborhoods was six minutes; the average in non-white neighborhoods was 51 minutes.

Remember during the first day of voting during the general election, when voters in Atlanta had to wait for 12 hours to cast their ballots? Instead of fixing these situations, they’re only going to make them worse.

And it’s clear they’re doing this to target the quickly diversifying Atlanta suburbs, which have swung so hard to the left that they are now solidly blue. Look at these numbers, via NBC News:

  • In Gwinnett, Barack Obama won 44.5 percent of the vote in 2008, while Biden won 58.4 percent in 2020.
  • In Henry, Obama won 45.9 percent in 2008, while Biden won 59.7 percent in 2020.
  • And in Rockdale, Obama won 54.4 percent in 2008, while Biden won 69.9 percent in 2020.

Here’s Fair Fight’s new video on the subject — they’re striking back hard:

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I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that Democrats go all-out to pass the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in both the House and Senate. They must return the voter protections that were enshrined in the Voting Rights Act before it was gutted by John Roberts’ Supreme Court. To do so, they’ll have to kill the filibuster — Republicans are certainly not going to join in. I know Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have sworn against ending the filibuster, but Chuck Schumer, Biden, and the rest of the Democratic leaders must convince them to do so here.

P.S.  Parts of this come from my political newsletter, Progressives Everywhere, which focuses voting rights and building progressive power nationwide. I also focus on health care, workers’ rights, and economic inequality. We’ve raised over $6 million to help flip seats in tough districts and red states and help progressive causes. I recently reported this feature on saving the Supreme Court, legal approaches to building worker power in the gig economy, and published reports on the economics of student debt and Georgia’s big move toward voter suppression. The newsletter also brings you the news you won’t read anywhere else, with original reporting and expert commentary.

It’s free! You can subscribe to the newsletter here!

Trump’s accountant may flip in D.A. inquiry

Peter WeberThu, February 25, 2021, 10:27 PM

Bloomberg‘s Tim O’Brien, one of the few journalists who has seen former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell on Thursday night he will sleep better now that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance finally has eight years of Trump’s financial documents, from 2011 to 2019. Trump “is very afraid of what’s in these documents, I think,” because they put him in serious criminal jeopardy, O’Brien said, but he isn’t the only one implicated.

O’Brien went on to explain why he thinks it’s likely Trump’s chief accountant, Allen Weisselberg, will flip on Trump. “The thing to really focus in on here is that it’s not just the tax records that Cy Vance has now,” O’Brien said. “He probably has reams and reams of the accountant’s work product. This is a criminal case, they’re going to need to prove criminal intent on the part of Trump, his three eldest children, Allen Weisselberg, and anyone else in the Trump Organization who’s fallen under the parameters of this investigation. And if there are email and notes and other records of communication about what they intended to do when they inflated the value of buildings so they could get loans against them and then turned around and deflated the value of the buildings so they could pay lower taxes on them, and there’s a communication around that that predates any of these tax entries, that is gold for a prosecutor.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/PBiGrhnLURw

A few hours earlier, O’Brien told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace that the particular eight years of documents Vance’s team has “is important, because it predates Trump’s ascent into the White House, and I think helps build the narrative around the money trail and Trump’s motivations for his destructive and obscene dance with people like Vladimir Putin. It’s a shame they couldn’t go back further — think this is one of the tragic misses of Robert Mueller’s investigation, he could have gone back further, I think, than Cy Vance is able to into Trump’s finances.”

O’Brien also underscored that the investigation implicates at least Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, and “it also targets people inside the Trump Organization who might flip on Trump if they’re exposed to criminal liability,” but “the brass ring in all of this is that if Trump has a criminal conviction, he cannot run for president again, and that’s looming over this entire thing as well.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/journalist-tim-obrien-whos-seen-062700346.html

Rep. Al Green’s Righteous Speech from the House Floor

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Rep. Al Green (D-TX 9th) gave a tremendously powerful response to Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL 17th) on the floor of the House this afternoon during the debate on the Equality Act that would establish anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. Watch:

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Rolling Stone has a partial transcript:

You used God to enslave my foreparents. You used God to segregate me in schools. You used God to put me in the back of the bus. Have you no shame? God created every person in this room. Are you saying that God made a mistake? This is not about God, it’s about men who choose to discriminate against other people because they have the power to do so. My record will not show that I voted against Mr. Cicilline having his rights. My record will show that when I had the opportunity to deliver liberty and justice for all, I voted for rights for all.

Rep. Green’s speech came after Rep. Steube said transgender people are an insult to God.

He then read from Deuteronomy 22:5 in the Bible.

“A woman must not wear men’s clothing nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this,” he read aloud. […]

According to Steube, the Equality Act “goes directly against what it laid out in scripture.”

Thank you Rep. Green and the other House Democrats for forcibly pushing back against this discrimination and fighting for all Americans right to equal protection.

Thursday, Feb 25, 2021 · 11:26:55 PM +00:00 · Magnifico

The full exchange on the House floor is in this video. The Democrats’ response begins at 3:21 into the clip.

Ex Called Moron & Turns Over Texts From Insurrectionist At Capitol

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The “projection” feature comes standard in base-model Republican MORONS… 

Morning Call

Richard Michetti of Ridley Park is charged with knowingly entering a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and obstruction of Congress. Michetti was arraigned Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia before Magistrate Judge Henry S. Perkin and released on unsecured bail with electronic monitoring pending an appearance Monday by video in federal court in Washington.

(snip)

According to court documents, Michetti’s former romantic partner went to law enforcement Jan. 7, the day after the insurrection, and reported that Michetti sent her text messages and two videos from the siege. The videos showed Michetti on the Capitol grounds as thousands of protesters broke through police barricades and marched with flags inside the building, court records say. The security breach forced lawmakers certifying Electoral College to take refuge in secure areas of the Capitol complex.

Michetti’s text messages described the crowd storming the building and being hit with tear gas and paint balls, the court records say. Michetti allegedly said his eyes were burning from the chemicals. Michetti’s ex-girlfriend told law enforcement Michetti took a train to Washington the day before the siege because he believed the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, court records say.

Thanks for the play by play, dipshit… Tell us more about the pain!

The Washington Post

Standing on the Capitol steps on Jan. 6, Richard Michetti allegedly took a break from the rioting to argue with his ex-girlfriend over text message. After sending photos and videos of the mob and boasting how he had avoided tear gas, Michetti parroted President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud.

“If you can’t see the election was stolen you’re a moron,” Michetti wrote in a text to the woman, according to court documents.

The next day, the woman he had insulted promptly told the FBI that her ex was at the Capitol, handing over to law enforcement the string of texts, photos and videos he had sent to her.

What’s his motive for texting her? Does he think this might change her mind about him? 

The Philadelphia Inquirer

“If you can’t see the election was stolen, you’re a moron,” he wrote in an exchange quoted in court filings made publicly available Wednesday, adding later: “This is tyranny. They … told us ‘We rigged the election and there’s nuthin [sic] you can do about it’ What do you think should be done?”

Photo and video footage show a man prosecutors identified as Michetti — dressed in a hoodie, White Sox baseball cap, and surgical mask — milling about the Capitol Rotunda and, later, checking his phone in a crowd of people that had amassed on the steps outside.

If you have information about a moron whom you regret dating and stupidly sent you rude texts from the Capitol Insurrection on January 6th, call 1-800-CALL-FBI or leave a tip online. You may also submit relevant photos and videos to the FBI here.

Plot to blow up SOTU address

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A Wednesday hearing before the House Appropriations Committee brought in the acting chief of the Capitol Police Yogananda Pittman and acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodgett for questioning on incidents surrounding the Jan. 6 insurgency. This followed a Tuesday hearing before a joint Senate committee, where former chief Stephen Sund and former Sergeants at Arms Paul Irving and Michael Stenger were interviewed.

The questioning by the House—conducted in a hearing that shows that, one year later, Congress still has trouble managing a Zoom meeting—sometimes became belligerent. Pittman, the first woman and first person of color to be questioned around events related to the assault on the Capitol, faced more more aggressive questioning than any of the white men who spoke on Tuesday. She was quizzed about details of staffing on the day of the insurgency and a breakdown in communications, as well concerns about how the police had prepared for the event.

However, the questioning moved toward the goal of answering some of the questions raised in Tuesday’s hearing. That was particularly true when it came to an FBI document that was issued on the evening of Jan. 5. Still, there were issues that were not resolved, including when the Capitol Police called for National Guard assistance, and when the police board finally gave the go ahead.

During Tuesday’s hearing, a great deal of attention was given to a report issued by the FBI on the evening of Jan. 5. This report, which was sent by email, reached the Capitol Police around 7 PM that evening. However, the information did not seem to move beyond the handful of officers assigned to the department’s intelligence unit. Sund stated that he was unaware of the report until well after he had resigned his position and Pittman echoed that statement, saying she wasn’t aware until days after the insurgency.

Some of the quotes taken from militia message boards which featured in that FBI statement seemed eerily prescient of events that would happen just a few hours later: “Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in. … Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die.” The FBI statement also included information about white supremacist groups coordinating for an attack, exchanging maps of tunnels beneath the Capitol, and arranging assembly locations in multiple states.

In the Tuesday hearing, the fact that this report had not immediately been put before Sund and not treated as a reason to change preparations for the following day was repeatedly raised. With Sund, Stenger, and Irving all claiming to have not seen the report in advance of the attack on the Capitol, this appeared to be a major breakdown in communications.

However, on Wednesday Pittman pointed out additional information concerning this report. According to Pittman, the report was actually aimed at FBI agents embedded with the Capitol Police. Those agents did forward it to one officer involved in House security, but didn’t move it up the chain from there. Had the report moved forward, Pittman stated that she did not believe it would have changed either planning or “posture” for Jan. 6. That’s because, in addition to being considered “raw data,” the document itself contained specific language from the FBI advising recipients not to take action based on its contents.

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a huge mistake to disregard the chatter going on between white supremacist militias and the clear signs that they were planning a coordinated assault on the Capitol. However, this would seem to indicate that the blame for that failure lies at least as much with the FBI as it does with the Capitol Police.

One interesting fact that emerged came as a number of Republican representatives appeared to be pressing the idea that the insurgency was not such a big deal. In particular, Rep. Dan Newhouse went after Pittman for saying that “tens of thousands” had been involved. This generated some interesting numbers all around. According to Pittman, various agencies determined that the total number of people listening to Trump’s speech at the Ellipse was around 30,000. Another 15,000 people were estimated to be elsewhere along the National Mall at that time. Of that group, Pittman said that “well in excess of 10,000” people breached the boundaries around the Capitol and an estimated 800 actually entered the building.

Not only does this give a scale for the size of the assault police faced on Jan. 6, it also shows that the claims Donald Trump made about the size of the crowd listening to his speech was, as usually vastly overblown.

Newhouse also followed up the statements of Republican senators on Tuesday by complaining about continued security at the House. When it came to the issue of the magnetometers, Pittman had a decisive answer—they were actually authorized by House vote. In addition, there is an existing law dating back half a century that forbids carrying firearms in the Capitol, so every member of the House who says they are bringing a gun to the floor is promising to violate that law. Congress, as Pittman noted, “is uniquely positioned to change that law if they want to.”

In response to concerns about why the National Guard and fences were still around the Capitol, Pittman provided what Sund had been unable to give the previous day: details of a specific threat. According to Pittman, they were tracking a threat to “blow up the Capitol” and “kill as many people as possible” during President Biden’s first State of the Union address. So while both Pittman and Blodgett stated that plans were already in the works to phase out all the fences and send the National Guard forces home … that won’t be happening right away.

It wasn’t just Republicans who had some semi-heated exchanges with Pittman. Rep. Jennifer Wexton pressured Pittman to make statements concerning the death of two officers who died in the days following the insurgency, made note of a police union “vote of no confidence,” and accused Pittman of not sticking up for her officers. She also noted that the Capitol Police had not held a single press conference since Jan. 6. Pittman refused to agree to make press conferences a part of her agenda going forward, repeatedly saying that she was focused on what was best for her officers and on communicating with House committees. Both Wexton and chair Rep. Tim Ryan came back to this point, but Pittman would not agree to the holding of any press events.

One other issue that came up again on Wednesday was the timing of requests between the Capitol Police and the two Sergeants at Arms when it came to the National Guard. In Tuesday’s testimony, Sund insisted he had requested the guard on Jan. 4. However, Irving testified that he “did not consider it a request,” and instead said that he recalled Sund saying that he “had an offer” of Guard forces, which was then rejected after further conversation between Irving, Sund, and Stenger.

On the day of the insurgency, Sund stated that he had called Irving to request the National Guard be brought in at 1:09 PM. Irving insisted he had talked to Sund at 1:28 PM, but had not actually received a request for the Guard until 2:10 PM.

In her testimony, Pittman added new data to this discussion. In addition to saying that the Capitol Police requested the deployment of the Guard “repeatedly,” Pittman said that Sund’s phone records confirmed that he reached out to Irving at 12:58 PM and Stenger at 1:05 PM. Irving had previously stated that he clearly had not received a call at the 1:09 PM time stated by Sund, because cameras showed he was on the floor of the House at that time. It’s not clear if this is also true of the earlier times.

In any case, Blodgett continued to hold the same position as his predecessors, claiming that the Capitol Police had not officially made a request of the board until at least 2:10 PM, and that the Jan. 4 discussion “wasn’t seen” as an official request.

This led to Rep. Rosa DeLauro providing what might be the most insightful statements of the entire hearing. The Capitol Police board, consisting of the two Sergeants at Arms and the Architect of the Capitol, no longer seemed to have any purpose. Rather than talking about the exact minute Sund spoke with Irving or Stenger, why was he having to consult with them at all to take action in an emergency? Simply because rules—rules that no one seems to be able to find on paper—require that any request for outside assistance from the Capitol Police be approved first by the board.

“It’s like your appendix,” said DeLauro. “It’s just there. It doesn’t have any real function

Trump properties worthless until his name is removed

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Former President Donald Trump may never fully recommit to his business roots.

Before taking office, Trump’s name was synonymous with his gaudily luxurious brand, and it was an asset. But Trump’s “human brand” is no longer “part of who he is,” Robert Passikoff of the firm Brand Keys tells The Washington Post — and investors say that has cost his business dearly.

Trump’s properties used to target “wealthy, city-dwelling customers and big-time convention planners,” the Post writes. But those audiences won’t touch his businesses anymore thanks to his incredibly divisive time in office, and his new enthusiastic fan base isn’t making up the difference. Several of Trump’s hotels have shut down since he took office, and his debts are continuing to pile up as condos and hotel rooms sit empty.- ADVERTISEMENT -https://s.yimg.com/rq/darla/4-6-0/html/r-sf-flx.html

Investors are now circling the former president, looking to buy his properties as well as his loans to cash in on if he ends up defaulting. Four of those investors tell the Post they’re hoping to get a good deal on the buildings due to Trump’s tarnished brand. Once purchased, “the first thing you do is you take the Trump name off them — which, by the way, could be a multiple-week effort, because it’s on everything,” one potential buyer told the Post. Only then will the building become a “competitive asset.”

Those sales seem possible as sources say Trump remains focused on exacting revenge against his political enemies instead of his business. But so far, Trump hasn’t indicated he’s selling anything, and his son Eric Trump insists the family is still committed to the business.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/investors-trump-properties-worthless-until-155400938.html