New Trump Administration Ethics Problem Surrounds Batman

legobatman

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has ethics groups in a lather as the film producer may have touted one of his releases in violation of federal ethics rules.

In what is becoming a pattern with Trump officials another member of Trump’s administration has become the focus of media and watchdog groups over a possible violation of governmental ethics practices for promoting private business.

What has  Mnuchin in the crosshairs was his statement at a Friday media gathering where he said,  “You should send all your kids to “Lego Batman”. More than a simple film recommendation, Mnuchin has ethics oversight groups in a lather because he is named as an Executive Producer on the film. His Ratpac-Dune company, which he is soon to be divested from, was a financier of the film.

This follows other episodes where private endorsements arrived from the government leadership. Kelllyanne Conway received harsh rebukes when she openly proposed people go purchase Ivanka Trump’s products following Nordstrom’s announcing the store chain would drop her lines. President Trump himself has been criticized for announcing people should watch Fox  News for their political intake.

What is at question regarding Mnuchin’s comment is, did he truly pimp his movie, in violation of federal rules? The Friday meeting was hosted by the media company Axios, but rather than directly come forth with a promotional statement, it derived from a question posed towards him. Mnuchin even addressed the rule directly as he was flippantly answering.

  • Well, I’m not allowed to promote anything that I’m involved in. So I just want to have the legal disclosure that you’ve asked me the question and I am not promoting any product,” Mnuchin said. “But you should send all your kids to ‘Lego Batman.‘”

Despite his qualifying comment ethics oversight groups are focused on his words. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington released a statement: “It’s clear that Mnuchin did not learn any lessons from the Kellyanne Conway affair. This kind of thing happened, and will continue to happen, when there is a White House that does not take disciplinary action for ethical lapses.” Additionally, Open Secrets went after the Secretary following the meeting.

The Treasury Department issued an immediate statement, as well, to address the issue.

  • As his statement reflects, the Secretary clearly recognized that he generally may not promote private interests and specifically gave the legal disclosure that he was not promoting a movie, but answering a question he was asked directly.”

Except “send your kids to see Batman” is pretty much the definition of promotion.

In January Mnuchin pledged that he would divest his involvement from over forty companies within 90 days of his confirmation as Treasury Secretary. His Hollywood holdings were said to be divested after four months.

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In a Move Surprising Nobody, Donald Trump Attacks Conservatives on Twitter for His Failure

On March 11, I wrote a piece where I warned Donald Trump would attack Republicans as well as Democrats if the Obamacare replacement bill failed. It wasn’t a tough prediction to make.  I called a bookie in Vegas, and he wouldn’t even give me 1-10 odds. First, Trump used Judge Jeanine Pirro as his messenger to get Paul Ryan to step down as Speaker of the House. This morning, Trump set his sights on conservatives in Congress and conservative organizations.

He tweeted:

So he fails on the Obamacare replacement bill, and he’s blaming House Freedom Caucus members as well as Heritage and a group that backed him for President, Club for Growth.

I’ve said it before; Trump only cares about winning or losing. He wants to do tax reform but attacks the very people he will need to get it done because it is more important to him everybody else appear to be the “loser” in the Obamacare replacement fiasco. Trump doesn’t care about burning bridges because he still thinks he’s hosting a reality show. Such an approach is a problem because Washington DC is a place where relationships come in handy when wanting to get something done. Trump doesn’t have friends or people who are loyal to him. Trump has associates, lackeys, and sycophants. 

He thought he could be a bully and get Thomas Massie, Jim Jordan, and Mark Meadows to follow along, forgetting the entire time they are c0-equals in government. 

Compiling enemies lists, having staff attempt to berate members of Congress, and then using Twitter to slam the people you will need over the next four years is not a very bright way to go about doing the work of being President.

Then again, we’re talking about the host of The Apprentice. High expectations aren’t in the cards.

 

 

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Fire Weather Warning for this afternoon

The South Plains has been placed under a Fire Weather Warning valid from this afternoon at 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. this evening. Sustained winds at 20-30 mph, warm temperatures and low relative humidity values will create an elevated to critical fire weather risk for our area. A cold front will move through our area late tonight, shifting winds out of the north. Monday morning will be cool and breezy.
Source: KCBD News


Is Trump Considering A TV Personality And 9/11 Truther For The Next Supreme Court Seat?

Have you ever heard something so ludicrous that it sent you into wheezing, nose-running fits of laughter – until you find out it’s true?

For me, that moment came when someone suggested that President Trump could potentially be considering a TV personality for the next vacant SCOTUS seat.

Sure, Senator Lindsey Graham, in praising the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court by Trump, mentioned something about his fear of who Trump would pick for the seat left vacant by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. He said he didn’t know who Trump would pick – possibly a TV judge, or something.

You just couldn’t believe he’d go that far, however.

Then again, if Fox News personality, Judge Andrew Napolitano is to be believed, the president is absolutely considering it.

After meeting with President Trump twice during the transition, first in December and again in mid-January, the Newark, N.J.-born television personality told several people that Trump said he was on the list of judges from whom he was selecting a nominee for the high court.

“He said, ‘Trump said I’m on the list,’” said a source who spoke with Napolitano shortly after one of his meetings with the then president-elect. “He’s been saying that since the transition.”

Napolitano was suspended from Fox News for an indefinite length of time this past week for picking up incomplete and unsubstantiated information from an online discussion board, regarding British intelligence surveilling Trump at the behest of then-President Obama, and then presenting that rumor on air as fact.

The British government have vehemently denied the accusations and subsequent testimony by FBI Director James Comey before the House Intelligence Committee confirmed that there was no surveillance or “wiretapping” ordered regarding Donald Trump.

Still, undeterred, Napolitano sees a payoff that far exceeds a few guest spots on TV.

Friends warned Napolitano not to take the president too literally – or seriously. “He’ll take your call and invite you to the Oval Office, but he just wants you to say nice things about him on TV,” the source says he told Napolitano at the time. But that didn’t sink the ambitious judge’s hopes.

Trump released a list of potential replacements for the late Justice Antonin Scalia before the election, vowing to select Scalia’s replacement from that list — and followed through, tapping Tenth Circuit judge Neil Gorsuch for the nomination in January. Napolitano’s name did not appear on any public list.

I suppose Napolitano’s name is on a “special” list. In fact, the term Napolitano is using with those he’s told his exciting bit of news to is that he’s a “sleeper candidate.” He’s submitted his personal and academic works to the president’s office, so he’s actively vying for some sort of consideration.

He also visited with Trump during the transition to talk about the kind of judge needed to fill the SCOTUS seat left vacant by Scalia.

Trump ultimately chose Gorsuch, but should another seat come open, Napolitano feels like he is as good as in.

I guess with those kinds of ambitions, he’s not very worried that an internet hoax got him bounced, indefinitely, from his TV gig.

He has other options, in the meantime, and he is definitely a keen mind.

“I think 20 years from now, people will look at 9/11 the way we look at the assassination of JFK today,” he told radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in 2010. “It couldn’t possibly have been done the way the government told us.”

Or the way millions of Americans saw with their own eyes being carried out on national TV.

I guess with a reality TV presidency, the next logical step is an InfoWars Supreme Court nominee.

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Lo & Behold: A Replica of the Successful 2015 Obamacare Repeal Is Languishing in Committee

In 2015, Congress passed Obamacare repeal. Now, a replica bill has sat unaddressed in committee since March 8th and there’s a path to getting it to a floor vote quickly.

The Trump spin mill has been in overdrive since House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the abysmal first attempt of the new administration and Congress at the promised “repeal and replacement” of Obamacare.

The Trump administration and the media sold the American Health Care Act as the last best hope for repealing Obamacare, which is a complete joke. The idea that Republicans in the House and Senate, who have largely run on Obamacare repeal in the last seven years, would suddenly give up because a bad bill didn’t pass is absurd.

Since the AHCA was presented and recognized for the dud it was, there has been an incredulity that after seven years of doggedly campaigning against Obamacare, Republicans weren’t unified and ready with a bill to repeal it.

So, now what?

That’s what many in the Republican caucus and outside interest groups are asking following Friday’s events.

Many have astutely pointed out that Congress passed a repeal bill in 2015, so why aren’t they simply doing the same now?

Alas, unknown to many, a replica of the 2015 bill was introduced by Rep. Jim Jordan (R – Ohio) on March 8th, just two days after the disastrous AHCA.

Rep. Jordan, a member of the much derided House Freedom Caucus, reiterated the familiar words of many Republican candidates across the country just before introducing H.R. 1436:

“Our goal is real simple: Bring down the cost of insurance for working families and middle-class families across this country. In an effort to do that we think you have to get rid of Obamacare completely. So tomorrow I will introduce a bill that every single Republican voted on just 15 months ago – the bill that actually repeals Obamacare. Our plan has always been repeal in one piece of legislation and replace in the other.

That’s right. The bill Rep. Jordan introduced earlier this month is a replica of the 2015 bill that passed in the House and Senate less than two years ago.

The bill has been languishing in committee ever since. However, there is one way it could move to consideration on the floor should an ambitious representative choose to take it on.

After a bill has been in committee for a certain period of time, a discharge petition can be circulated, which is privileged, to bring a bill out of committee and to the floor. But it must have a majority of the House. After the AHCA debacle that may seem unlikely, but consider the fact that this bill already passed in the last Congress. Repeal is the one thing a majority ostensibly agree upon.

There have been and will be endless autopsies over what went wrong with the AHCA, but one could insist that Republicans first post-Trump foray into Obamacare repeal didn’t have to go down the way it did.

Conservatives and the House Freedom Caucus took early blame for the AHCA’s passage or failure, even though moderates and the Tuesday Group became august denouncers of the bill as negotiations progressed. However, the HFC was asking for nothing less than what had passed in 2015.

“Conservatives expect nothing less than congressional Republicans to live up to their promises,” Jason Pye of FreedomWorks told RedState. “They passed this bill in the 114th Congress. Why can’t they do it now? This is the one aspect of this we all agree on, and it’s certainly a better option than the half-baked bill that leadership rolled out that didn’t really repeal ObamaCare.”

“But what about after repeal,” one might ask. “[H.R. 1436] gives us two years to work on a replacement that is grounded in real patient-centered, free market principles,” Pye stated.

What a sensible and prudent, but apparently novel, idea.

Rushing a replacement to Obamacare is asking for failure, as we saw with the AHCA. Pushing the bill through committee before the Congressional Budget Office gave it a score and having GOP leadership married to the bill already was poor planning, to say the least.

A clean repeal is what Republicans have been promising the American people for seven years. A clean repeal bill is sitting in committee, ready to go through the same process it breezed through in 2015 but in which the AHCA failed. As has been said before here, should Republicans fail to adequately reduce the cost of health care and increase access by repealing — and replacing to a degree — Obamacare, they will be seen as the biggest scammers in American politics for a generation.

The 2015 repeal bill is there, let’s pass it.

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