Spending at Trump properties raise questions about conflicts of interest – report

Dozens of foreign governments, trade groups are using Trump properties for accommodation and events, raising questions about a possible conflict of interest regarding the president, an ethics group says.

“The Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC has become the central location for currying favor with President Trump,” wrote Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, (CREW) in their 36-page report, The Most Unethical Presidency: Year One released Tuesday.

The research found 64 trade groups, foreign governments and Republican candidates stayed or were hosted at Trump properties. The DC hotel, just blocks from the White House, was the most popular and accounted for more than half of the 64 events.

CREW said this represents an “unprecedented conflict of interests” because Donald Trump oversees the federal government and has not divested from properties that he owns or that carry his name.

Before Trump took office last year, he said he would hand over control of his global business empire to his sons Donald Jr and Eric and move his assets into a trust to help ensure that he could not consciously take actions as president that would benefit him personally,

“While he has apparently transferred day-to-day management of his business to his sons, he continues to own his vast global empire of hotels, golf courses, office buildings, and other businesses; he know what the companies are, he monitors their activities, he profits when the companies do, and the trust he formed allows him to access those profits at any time,” the report states.

Visitors to the Washington DC hotel include government representatives of Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, a scenario which the report argues violates the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution, which was “designed to broadly protect against foreign influence of any kind.”

“The clause prohibits any federal official, including the president, from “accept[ing] of any present, Emolument, Office or Title, of any kind whatever’ from any foreign government,” the report said.

Read more

US President Donald Trump © Jim Bourg

Among the groups making use of the hotel was the National Mining Association, which held a two-day meeting in October where at least three cabinet secretaries spoke to the lobbying group. A group promoting US-Turkey relations held a three-day conference at the hotel in May. The controversial American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which lobbies for small government, and the commercial real estate development trade association are scheduled hold meetings at the hotel.

“The [Trump] hotel [in Washington, DC] was expected to lose $ 2.1 million in the first four months of 2017, but instead turned a $ 1.97 million profit,” states the report which relies heavily on footnotes sourced from news stories and filings to the US Federal Election Commission.

The study also argues that Trump has spent roughly a third of his days as president at his own resorts, and promotes his own businesses by wearing hats sold by his campaign during photo opportunities.

“Another source of personal enrichment and potential conflict of interests for President Trump is Mar-a-Lago, the private club he owns and has dubbed the Winter White House. The club doubled its initiation fee to $ 200,000 shortly after the election, suggesting that President Trump is exploiting the presidency for personal gain while at the same time providing the wealthy and well-connected access to him,” the report states further.

The White House declined to comment on the CREW report, referring the issue to the Trump Organization, where a spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CREW was co-founded in 2003 by Norman Eisen and Melanie Sloan as a counter-weight to conservative watchdog groups such as Judicial Watch. Prominent Democratic media operative David Brock became its chairman in 2014, opening CREW to criticism of partisanship. Through Brock no longer chairs the group, CREW is still considered part of his political apparatus. Eisen returned to chair CREW after serving as ethics czar in the Obama administration.

CREW has brought 180 legal challenges against Trump and his administration. Last month, a federal judge in New York dismissed two lawsuits, one of which CREW had filed, claiming emoluments clause violations. Despite the ruling, the liberal watchdog group is pursuing other cases in Maryland.

The report also scrutinizes possible violations by Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, as well as members of Trump’s Cabinet.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT US News

'I post whatever I feel like on Instagram' – UFC's Alexandra Albu (PHOTOS)

UFC strawweight Alexandra ‘Stitch’ Albu might not be the most famous name representing Russia, but that could change as she continues to work her way up the promotion and catch the eye with her revealing Instagram photos.

The 27-year-old native of the Moldovan village of Vulcănești, Albu, made her debut in the UFC octagon in April 2015, beating her opponent from Poland, Izabela Badurek, via guillotine choke.

She then took a two-year break forced by an injury. Coming back in July 2017, she scored another victory, this time via unanimous decision, when taking part on the star-stacked UFC 214 card.

But fighting alongside the stars did not distract Albu, who adopted her fighting moniker ‘Stitch’ from a popular cartoon character.

You last fought on the UFC 214 card in the summer. That was a pretty impressive card: a top fight with Jon Jones against Cormier, Chris Cyborg, Tyron Woodley. How did you find participating on that card with such outstanding fighters?

I was thinking about my performance and the weight cut before the fight, I didn’t pay attention to the other things. When you are about to take part in an event you’ve been preparing for for such a long time, you don’t pay too much attention to the other things. Although one thing that I remember was the fact that my coach couldn’t come to the States. He had some visa problems. And it was quite difficult for me to fight without him cornering me.

At the end of December Cris Cyborg defended her belt. How would you rate her performance?

I’ve always liked Cris. Plus we know each other personally. I had no doubts she was going to defend her belt.

Do you see anyone who could potentially take her belt in the near future?

Women’s MMA is gaining momentum really fast and it’s becoming more and more popular. Women’s divisions are getting bigger, and of course some sort of competition will occur.

Recently in your own weight class we witnessed a change in champion, when Rose Namajunas defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Were you surprised with the outcome of that fight?

It didn’t surprise me. Rose is also very strong and a tough fighter, she worked very hard and now it’s her time.

Do you see yourself fighting against Joanna or Rose in the future? Who in your opinion would present the most problems for you?

Yes, I see myself fighting against both of them. We are all in the same weight category, so it’s inevitable. It’s only a matter of time. Talking about their level, I can say that all the fights are tough for me. Fighting is a pretty tough job, you know.

Do you know roughly when you’ll be back in the octagon?

I suppose it will happen this spring. For the next fight after that I can’t really predict anything.

We know that originally you come from Moldova, but at the moment you live in Moscow and represent Russia. Do have plans to obtain Russian citizenship?

Yes, I’m still a Moldavian citizen, but I’d like to get a Russian passport. That’s what I’m working on now, but unfortunately it’s not as easy as it might seem.

Could you tell us about the moment you decided to start practicing MMA? We know that you practiced karate originally.

I decided to become a professional MMA fighter after I moved to Russia. I met Andrey Tsarkov, the head coach of the MMA-KEGI fight club, which I represent now. I’d been thinking a lot about my previous martial arts experience, and I didn’t want to just waste all that time that I’d spent learning it. However, MMA is absolutely different. You can’t really compare it with karate. So it took me a few years to hard work and to learn how to fight differently, I had to change my stance, striking technique, and many other things.

Some time ago you said that you combined two training sessions per day with coaching work. Do you still work as a coach?

Yes, I have to combine my work and two training sessions a day. It’s pretty difficult, I always want to sleep. When I have my rest days I can allow myself to combine work and just one training session.

Do you think it’s partially connected with the fact that it’s difficult for a female fighter to find sponsorship in Russia?

Finding sponsorship isn’t easy indeed. Usually it doesn’t go further than talks. I don’t know whether it’s more difficult for girls, there are not so many examples. But this sport is still developing, so I hope that one day it will be become better.

Male fighters often receive financial support by joining certain teams, and then representing them. Did you get any offers of that kind?

No, I haven’t had such offers. But I’m not interested, since I have no intention of changing team. I’ve been with the MMA-KEGI team from day one, and I’m happy to be a part of it.

And what about advertising? Some female fighters get extra money from that. Have you ever received any offers?

Speaking about advertising, yes, I had several offers from commercial companies and we even came to agreements.

On your Instagram profile you have quite provocative photos and videos. Is that your strategy? Something that you do purposely?

You know, I don’t have anyone doing my social media for me. So my Instagram depends on my mood. I’m a live human being. I post whatever I feel should be on my page. I don’t see the point of checking with someone else’s opinion. I suppose that visual attractiveness has an impact on a female fighter’s popularity.

What other difficulties does a female fighter face doing MMA professionally?

I can’t say anything certain about it. The hardest part is the same for everyone, actually. Just the everyday hard work at the gym.

by Denis Geyko for RT Sport

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT Sport News

Bored of Brexit? Eurosceptic Tory MP nods off during crucial debate

Eurosceptic Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne was caught nodding off during a parliamentary debate on Brexit as Ken Clarke expounded on the virtues of the EU. Swayne was seen jolting awake with a sheepish smile.

Clarke, a committed Europhile, was speaking during a debate on the government’s flagship Brexit legislation which seeks to transfer EU law onto domestic statute books.

Swayne could be seen leaning comfortably with an elbow on the bench before he gradually falling asleep. His head dropped further and further down until he was stretched out motionless for about a minute.

The footage shows Swayne waking up suddenly when Clarke cries “The Charter of Fundamental Rights.” Swayne then smirks while Clarke carries on, oblivious of what was going on behind him.

MPs are due to vote Wednesday on whether the bill should pass on to the House of Lords later this year.

Swayne later claimed he was exhausted from an early morning swim, and that debating the bill yet again had taken its toll on him. Many have taken to Twitter to mock the MP, with some labelling his nap “disgraceful.”

Another user mocked him saying:

Some called on him to go home.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT UK News

Fake news media’s ‘Russia hoax’ is dead, says Trump

US President Donald Trump has said that the allegations of his campaign colluding with Russia by the “fake news media” are “dead”, as his former chief strategist Steve Bannon is set to testify before Congress and a grand jury.

Taking to his favorite social media platform, the POTUS accused the mainstream media of pushing conspiracy theories against him and his campaign.

“Do you notice the Fake News Mainstream Media never likes covering the great and record setting economic news, but rather talks about anything negative or that can be turned into the negative,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “The Russian Collusion Hoax is dead, except as it pertains to the Dems. Public gets it!”

The reference to the Democratic Party presumably applies to the alleged wrongdoing on the part of Hillary Clinton in approving a uranium deal with a Russian company.

Trump’s remarks come as his onetime ally Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist and recently ousted executive chairman of the conservative outlet Breitbart News, is due to appear before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday to testify on the Russia allegations. Bannon, who was considered a leading figure in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, went on to take a place in the White House but left in August last year.  

Read more

© Carlo Allegri

Since then, Bannon has fallen spectacularly out-of-favor with his former boss. In the controversial book ‘Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House’ by the journalist Michael Wolff, Bannon is quoted as calling a meeting between Trump’s son Donald Jr. and a Russian lawyer “treasonous.”

“They didn’t have any lawyers. Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s***, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” Bannon is quoted as saying in the book.

After these remarks surfaced, Trump said that his former strategist had “lost his mind.” Within a week, Bannon stepped down from his role at Breitbart.

Bannon has also been issued with a subpoena by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is in charge of the criminal investigation into the alleged Russia collusion, the New York Times reported citing anonymous sources. It’s not clear whether this means the former Breitbart chief is under extra scrutiny or merely a negotiating tactic to get him to co-operate. It does mean, however, that he is likely not the target of the investigation.

The House Intelligence Committee is investigating claims that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, which are also being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller. Although two former Trump officials, foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and national security adviser Michael Flynn, have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, the investigation has yet to produce any evidence of collusion.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT US News

IOC to discuss North Korea’s participation at PyeongChang 2018

The IOC has announced plans to stage a four-party meeting in Lausanne on Saturday to discuss joint proposals made by South and North Korea regarding their participation at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will host the meeting in Switzerland, which will be attended by representatives of the PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee, as well as delegations from the national Olympic committees of the two Koreas. High-ranking government officials and IOC members from both countries will also be present in Lausanne to elaborate on decisions regarding the format of North Korea’s participation, as they missed the deadline for Olympic registration.

Read more

Head of the North Korean delegation, Ri Son Gwon shakes hands with South Korean counterpart Cho Myoung-gyon7. January 9, 2018. © Reuters

I warmly welcome the joint proposals by the governments of the ROK (Republic of Korea) and DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) which have been applauded by so many other governments worldwide,” IOC President Thomas Bach said.

 “This is a great step forward in the Olympic spirit and in the spirit of the Olympic Truce Resolution passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Now the IOC must take the decisions to make this political commitment a reality.”

Last week, North Korea agreed to send a national delegation to next month’s Winter Olympics following high-level talks, held between the two countries for the first time in two years.

During the second round of talks conducted on Monday in the border village of Panmunjom, the parties continued working out details of North Korean Olympic entry, understood to be an attempt to ease tensions between the two nations.

The countries agreed that a top North Korean arts troupe, known as the Samjiyon Band, will give rare performances in South Korea during the Winter Games. The musical group, comprising 80 orchestra members and 60 singers and dancers, will play well-known folk songs from both Koreas, reflecting the idea of reunification.

The two sides also discussed the possibility of conducting a joint march under a unified flag during the PyeongChang 2018 opening ceremony.

READ MORE: Former NBA star Dennis Rodman arrested and charged with DUI

South Korean Sports Ministry spokesman Hwang Seong Un said the two countries are planning to form a joint women’s ice hockey team. If the proposal is approved by the IOC, it will be the first ever unified Korean team to participate in an Olympic Games since Korea was divided.

Despite efforts to strengthen ties between the countries, a recent survey showed that 70 percent of South Korean residents opposed the idea of forming a joint team with their neighbors. More than 80 percent, however, were in favor of North Korea’s participation at the upcoming Olympics. The negotiations between the two nations marked a significant breakthrough in their strained relations, which drastically escalated after recent missile tests conducted by North Korea. The country’s nuclear program has raised serious concerns about security at PyeongChang, with the US even considering a boycott.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT Sport News

Russians increasingly believe in afterlife – report

The number of Russians believing in the afterlife has significantly increased in recent years, according to a fresh opinion poll. Now, four in 10 Russians hold the view that life does not end with death.

The percentage of Russians believing in the hereafter has grown by almost 10 percent over nine years, a survey conducted by independent pollster the Levada Center has shown. In 2008, only about a third of respondents supported this belief, while in late 2017 the figure was 42 percent.

Read more

RIA Novosti/Oleg Lastochkin

Russians are also increasingly developing the conviction that their deceased relatives are able to influence the lives of the living. According to the Levada Center, the number of people believing in the hidden influence of their diseased kin on their lives has risen by 10 percent since 2008, growing from 28 to 38 percent.

The survey showed that religious people are generally more inclined to believe in the afterlife. However, even nonbelievers appear to be inclined to such feelings. According to Levada, 10 percent of those who define themselves as atheists or say they do not follow any religion also believe in the existence of heaven and hell as well as in religious miracles.

Russians’ attitudes to other forms of the supernatural remained largely unchanged, the pollster said. Still, superstitious beliefs seem to be fairly common among Russians. Some 45 percent of respondents that took part in the survey said they believe that lucky charms indeed bring luck, at least sometimes. More than half also believe that fortune tellers have the ability to predict the future and that spiritual healers can help them resolve their health problems.

However, significantly fewer people seem to be ready to test their beliefs in practice. According to the poll, only 10 percent of respondents have resorted to the services of spiritual healers while 14 percent have appealed to fortune tellers or astrologists.
The poll was conducted by the Levada Center in mid-December and involved 1,600 people from 48 Russian regions. Similar surveys were conducted by the pollster in 2008 and 1998.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT Russian Politics News

School bans hijabs & fasting as chairman begins ‘crusade’ against Islamification of kids (VIDEO)

A decision by one of Britain’s top primary schools to ban girls aged under eight from wearing hijabs and religious fasting has divided Muslim parents at the school.

St Stephen’s primary school in Newham, East London has banned pupils from fasting on school days during Ramadan for the sake of their health and safety. Chairman of the school Arif Qawi said some pupils as young as eight were fasting during the religious month despite Muslim clerics usually advising that children do not have to fast until they have reached puberty.

Qawi called on the Department of Education to “step up and [take the issue] out of our hands.” He told the Sunday Times: “We did not ban fasting altogether but we encouraged them to fast in holidays, at weekends and not on the school campus.

“It just seemed wrong. It is common sense,” he said. “Here we are responsible for their health and safety. If they pass out on campus… it is not fair to us.”

Qawi has admitted that he is undertaking “a personal crusade to severely limit the Islamization process and turn these children into modern British citizens.”

The comments were made in a social media post in November 2017, which also celebrated the school’s major achievement when it topped the Sunday Times ‘Parent Power’ school league tables.

One mother, who was dressed in a hijab, told RT that she is “angered” by the school’s decision. “I think it totally contradicts the statement of the school that they are teaching our children to become respectful citizens,” she said. “I feel extremely angered by the fact that they are not respecting us as parents regarding our children’s upbringing.”

Other mothers were supportive of the move, stating that girls of that age are too small to be wearing the religious garment. “It’s OK because at eight years old, girls are too young to wear the hijab,” one mother said.

A spokesman for the Department of Education told the Sunday Times that “it is a matter for individual schools to decide how to accommodate children observing Ramadan, and to set uniform policies. We issue clear guidance on uniform and to help schools understand their legal duties under the Equality Act.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT UK News

Williams confirms signing of F1’s only Russian driver

Formula One constructors Williams have confirmed rookie Sergey Sirotkin will join their racing team for the upcoming season, making him the solitary current Russian F1 driver and only the third in the sport’s history.

Moscow-born Sirotkin will partner with 19-year-old Lance Stroll in the youngest line-up in the sport, completing the 20-man driver roster. The 22-year-old Sirotkin is thought to bring considerable sponsorship money to the team.

“I’m happy to announce that this year I will be racing for Williams Martini Racing! For me it’s a great honor to debut in F1 for this legendary team. Big thanks to the team and SMP Racing for the trust! Can’t wait to get behind the wheel of #FW41! See you in Barcelona on Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya!” Sirotkin posted on his Instagram account.

Sirotkin is the third Russian driver in F1, after Vitaly Petrov and later Daniil Kvyat, the latter being to date the only Russian to have achieved a podium finish in the motorsport.

The appointment may have shocked many F1 fans, especially as the youngster was in direct competition for a racing seat with Pole Robert Kubica, who is making a comeback in the sport after a seven-year layoff due to injuries sustained in a horrific rally accident.

However, after he and Sirotkin raced in Abu Dhabi, the Russian emerged as the favorite for the place, and Kubica subsequently settled for a reserve role.

Sirotkin nearly made his breakthrough four years ago as the result of an investment deal between racing team Sauber and a trio of Russian companies in summer 2013. Sauber intended to hand Sirotkin a race seat for 2014 and planned an intensive development program for the then-17-year-old, although the move never materialized.

Sirotkin has never raced in F1 but drove in four Friday Practice sessions for Renault in 2017, which made him their official reserve driver for 2017.

READ MORE: F1 star Hamilton apologizes for ‘boys don’t wear princess dresses’ comment

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT Sport News

Cryptocurrencies may disappear but technology behind them will remain – Medvedev

Virtual currencies are a new challenge for governments and businesses and could soon disappear, but the technology they are based on might remain, as happened with the internet, said Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Read more

© Alain Pitton / Global Look Press

During his speech at the Gaidar Economic Forum in Moscow, Medvedev said that theorists had predicted the emergence of cryptocurrencies already in the middle of the last century. Nevertheless, digital currencies are a challenge for everyone, including the experts, he said.

“Today, everyone is wondering where’s the end for this ‘cryptocurrency race’. Maybe it’s the dead-end path of the cyber-revolution?” said Medvedev.

He added that he couldn’t completely rule out a repeat of the early 1990s scenario when a large number of new companies emerged due to the developing internet, but later disappeared. The technology itself – the internet – not only remained, but also now plays a key role in our life, according to the Russian PM.

“Similarly, in a few years, cryptocurrencies may disappear but the technology, on the basis of which they evolve, blockchain, will become a part of everyday reality. Such a scenario cannot be excluded,” Medvedev said.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT Business News

Guy Verhofstadt asks if EU official put something in ‘disorientated’ Nigel Farage’s tea

European Parliament Brexit chief Guy Verhofstadt has mocked “disorientated” Nigel Farage and asked whether Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, had slipped something into the ardent Brexiteer’s tea.

Verhofstadt pointed out that Farage had called for a second referendum after he met with Barnier at the European Commission in Brussels recently. Former UKIP leader Farage surprised the public when he called for a second EU vote last week, saying it would strengthen support for the Leave campaign and quash dissenting voices once and for all.

Speaking at the EU Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Verhofstadt said: “I should have asked them what happened in their meeting. I have to tell you that since that Nigel Farage went in this meeting with Michel Barnier he is apparently completely disorientated.

“I don’t know what he put in the coffee or the tea of Nigel Farage because he comes out of this meeting and he backs a second referendum.”

Verhofstadt then took aim at British politics beyond UKIP – calling into question UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s priorities for her nation and the British government’s apparent forgetfulness over EU directives on issues such as plastic bag taxes and credit card charges.

“It’s not confusion only in UKIP, but I see the confusion is a little bit widespread in Britain at the moment,” Verhofstadt continued.“Michael Gove, for example, doesn’t seem to remember that the ban on plastic bags is an EU regulation. The prime minister, Mrs May, does not seem to know that the abolition of the charges on credit cards is a consequence of a directive of the EU.

Read more

© Alberto Pezzali/ Global Look Press

“And then, as Manfred Weber already called it, a whole hilarious thing about passports.
“I’m a liberal so I like blue more than red. So if we can do 27 passports in blue with 12 stars on it, for me ok – but it was certainly not a reason to organize a referendum on it,” said the Belgian MEP.

Verhofstadt then warned the UK government that it will not be able to “cherry pick” benefits after leaving the EU. In a press conference on Tuesday morning he said: “The European Parliament won’t allow cherry-picking in the Brexit transition. All EU legislation, all EU policies will continue to apply. The only exception is that the UK will no longer be represented in the institutions that decide on legislation and policies.”

He added that citizens’ rights and the Irish border issues were still not settled. He called for the withdrawal agreement, which was agreed in principle in December, to be “formalized” as soon as possible.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT UK News

Page 2 of 2047
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons
error: Content is protected !!