GOP Venality Open Thread: Trump Is Stealing From the Military for His ‘Wall’

SupPport My OuR tROOPS!!! Even the Repubs aren’t buying this feral hog in a poke. Per Politico, “Trump defends cash grab for border projects as lawmakers lash out”:

Defense Secretary Mark Esper informed congressional leaders on Tuesday of the cash grab from more than 100 military projects — such as upgrading military bases both at home and abroad — that will now be used to build a wall along the southern U.S. border. The move prompted an immediate uproar from lawmakers, who cried foul that the president had infringed on Congress’ appropriation authority.

Of the $1.08 billion in cuts coming from military facilities inside 23 U.S. states, 55 percent came from states Hillary Clinton won, versus 45 percent from states won by Trump, according to a POLITICO analysis.

Hardest hit was New York, where $160 million that was expected to go towards updating the engineering center and a parking structure at the U.S. Military Academy is being diverted…

(A whole bunch of red-state moms with kids in high school are currently screaming at their local reps, because West Point is a biiig draw for aspiring STEM students whose parents can’t afford to get them into Stanford.)

… Asked by reporters what he told members of Congress who would see projects in their districts affected by the diversion of funds, Trump said Wednesday he had delegated that task to Esper, who had “very good conversations” with “various” members, the president said.

“I didn’t tell [them] anything,” he said of the move. “The secretary of Defense spoke with members of Congress and explained it to them and I think he felt very good about it.” …

Preznit Toddler-in-Chief: Blames the stolen cookies on the dog Secretary.

And, of course:

… The cuts would fall even harder on two U.S. territories: Puerto Rico, which stands to lose $403 million worth of projects, and Guam, which would lose $257 million. Puerto Rico is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria’s devastation in 2017 — and its government has come under repeated criticism from Trump, who denounced it last week as “one of the most corrupt places on earth” even as the island was facing a lashing from Hurricane Dorian.

The five projects in Puerto Rico are primarily to rebuild after severe damage from Hurricane Maria, a senior defense official said…

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Election 2020 Open Thread: Brad Pascale & His (Nominal) Boss, Dirty Birds of A Feather

Federal Election Commission records indicate that Red State Data and Digital has received  $910,000 from  America First Action,  the super PAC formed in 2017 to support the Trump-Pence agenda and  fellow Republican  candidates.

After CNN initially published a story about Parscale’s wife, Candice, being an owner of Red State, her husband contacted CNN and acknowledged he owns the company even though she is listed on legal paperwork. “I am the owner of Red State,” Parscale told CNN.
Parscale said he hadn’t originally wanted to disclose his ownership publicly because there are no available records connecting him to the company…

In a series of texts with CNN, after initial publication, Parscale said that “so, legally we both own it,” and “she is on the paperwork yes.” He also said that “she is my wife and I allow her to file and be on my companies because I trust her. It depends on how you look at it. But no. It is all my company.” Then later he said, “I own the company solely,” and that his wife “listed it incorrectly” on the incorporation document, speaking of her being named as a “member.” “She just checked the box of what she was. I’m the owner.” …

Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of federal candidates, but they are barred from coordinating spending decisions with those campaigns, among other limitations.

Brad Parscale and his wife both insist their arrangement is legitimate and that there is no coordination.

Still, experts in federal election law consulted by CNN said earlier that the appearance of a connection between the President’s main super PAC and a firm set up by his campaign  manager’s  spouse that handles political ads walks right up to the line.

“It calls into question the independence of the super PAC,” said Larry  Noble, the former general counsel to the Federal Election Commission and a CNN contributor. “One would hope a watchdog agency would investigate allegations of coordination.” 

Noble said the FEC has been “lax” about enforcing coordination rules.  The FEC was further weakened by the resignation of one of its commissioners this week, reducing the number of sitting commissioners to three and thereby stripping it of its power to enforce campaign finance laws. Federal law requires four or more commissioners to approve new rules or take actions to punish those who violate election law…

As Trump’s campaign manager, Parscale has come under scrutiny over the amount of money he’s made off his political companies. According to a source close to the company, Parscale was rattled by recent negative press, particularly criticism among his Republican peers over a $13,500 fee he was paid for a speech to the Republican Party of Seminole County, Florida.

Parscale has returned the money to the campaign, according to a source close to the company. In the wake of the criticism, he has begun downsizing, according to the source, who said he had let three employees go from Parscale Strategy in the past week. A Trump campaign spokesman declined to comment about whether Parscale had returned the money to the campaign.

The America First Action super PAC made its last payment to Parscale Strategy on March 13, 2018, and its first payment to Red State eight days later, on March 21.

In 2018, America First paid Red State a total of $837,000, according to FEC records. That makes it the fifth biggest recipient of money from the group last year, according to Open Secrets

This story and the headline have been updated to include additional information given to CNN by Brad Parscale after publication.

More detail, none of it exculpatory, at the link. That’s the GRU’s problem — it’s easy enough to find glibertarian tech geeks to figurehead your foreign-influence vote-rigging campaigns, but hard to find any with the patience not to grab every coin out of the tip jar… or the experience to lie about their grabbiness with any plausibility. Heck, look at the trouble their high-dollar ‘Occupant’ is giving them, with what should be an easy glide to ‘reelection’!

Late Night Petty & Venal Open Thread: Why Trump Is Mad At Debra Messing

She (and her Will & Grace co-star, Eric McCormack) are threatening the two things he cares about most — his current grift, and his access to the company of real celebrities / rich people:

As so often happens, Tang the Conqueror only drew more attention to the event he’d been trying to keep under the radar…

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Late Night Lovers’ Quarrel Open Thread (Rooting for Injuries)

Repub Venality Open Thread: Trump Wants His WAAAAAHll & He Wants It NAOOOOW

They’re a bunch of damaged middle school boys drawing up plans for their Fortress of Evil. Disgusting as this is, take it as one more data point that Trump (or at least his smarter minions) doesn’t expect to be in the Oval Office after 2020. From the Washington Post, “‘Take the land’: President Trump wants a border wall. He wants it black. And he wants it by Election Day”:

President Trump is so eager to complete hundreds of miles of border fence ahead of the 2020 presidential election that he has directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules, according to current and former officials involved with the project…

Trump has repeatedly promised to complete 500 miles of fencing by the time voters go to the polls in November 2020, stirring chants of “Finish the Wall!” at his political rallies as he pushes for tighter border controls. But the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed just about 60 miles of “replacement” barrier during the first 2½ years of Trump’s presidency, all of it in areas that previously had border infrastructure.

The president has told senior aides that a failure to deliver on the signature promise of his 2016 campaign would be a letdown to his supporters and an embarrassing defeat. With the election 14 months away and hundreds of miles of fencing plans still in blueprint form, Trump has held regular White House meetings for progress updates and to hasten the pace, according to several people involved in the discussions…

Asked for comment, a White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Trump is joking when he makes such statements about pardons…
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