POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Guy From Weird Ads On The Bottom Of Websites Interviews Trump

Speculation around Hillary Clinton’s health continued, though no one is asking whether Donald Trump uses all that spray tan to cover a case of whatever that guy in “Powder” had. The U.S. and Russia are ramping up espionage operations against one another, reminding us that nothing sets off the cider vinaigrette in our Sweetgreen grain bowl quite like some polonium. And Colin Powell called the Cheneys “idiots,” though Dick Cheney couldn’t be reached for comment because he is currently eating a child’s heart for its lifeforce. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, September 14, 2016:

THE MOTHER OF ALL LIES - Sam Stein, Dave Jamieson, Ben Walsh and Igor Bobic: “In a television appearance touting her father’s newly released maternity leave and child care plans, Ivanka Trump said that the Trump Organization provided all of its thousands of employees with paid maternity leave. If it does, that’s news to employees at many of the Trump Organization’s hotels. The Huffington Post on Wednesday morning checked the validity of Ivanka Trump’s comments to ABC. Employees at the Trump SoHo, New York and Miami hotels, as well as the Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, all said that they do not offer workers paid maternity leave. Instead, they said that the company complied with the Family and Medical Leave Act, a federal law that requires companies to give employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for the adoption or birth of a child.” [HuffPost]

Feel the breeze coming off the revolving door as you read this item from Elise Foley: “Rep. Dave Brat’s former chief of staff registered to lobby for a company that helps foreign investors get green cards. Erin Siefring, now president of Hilltop Advocacy, is lobbying for for Related EB-5 Regional Center Holdings. EB-5 visas let wealthy people from abroad invest at least $500,000 in the U.S. to create American jobs and then get a green card ― a great way to get a green card, if you can afford it.”

THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION IS PEOPLE, MY FRIEND - Kurt Eichenwald:  “Throughout this campaign, the Trump Organization, which pumps potentially hundreds of millions of dollars into the Trump family’s bank accounts each year, has been largely ignored. As a private enterprise, its businesses, partners and investors are hidden from public view, even though they are the very people who could be enriched by—or will further enrich—Trump and his family if he wins the presidency. A close examination by Newsweek of the Trump Organization, including confidential interviews with business executives and some of its international partners, reveals an enterprise with deep ties to global financiers, foreign politicians and even criminals, although there is no evidence the Trump Organization has engaged in any illegal activities. It also reveals a web of contractual entanglements that could not be just canceled. If Trump moves into the White House and his family continues to receive any benefit from the company, during or even after his presidency, almost every foreign policy decision he makes will raise serious conflicts of interest and ethical quagmires.” [Newsweek]

TRUMP FAT: After a whiplash-inducing morning of mixed messages, Donald J. Trump on Wednesday gave a small window into some of the results from his most recent physical examination, revealing his weight to be 267 pounds and that he takes a statin. Mr. Trump gave the quick synopsis on Dr. Mehmet Oz’s television show after the Republican presidential nominee’s aides had said that he would, then that he would not, broach the topic with the doctor on the show.” [NYT]

Trump also said he likes fast food because “at least you know what they’re putting in it.”

NEVER STOP, COREY LEWANDOWSKI - Sam Levine:Lewandowski claimed [on CNN] that the author of the [Newsweek] report, Kurt Eichenwald, said that former President George W. Bush was connected to the Sept. 11 attacks. ‘This is the same individual who said that he has information that George W. Bush was directly related to the 9/11 terrorist attack. This is the same individual who refused to fact check this story with the Trump organization,’ Lewandowski said on CNN, where he is a paid contributor even though he is still advising the Trump campaign. Later in the segment, CNN’s Alisyn Camerota came back to Lewandowski’s claim and pointed out that it was false. Eichenwald had written that Bush ignored warnings of a terrorist attack before Sept. 11, not that he was involved in the attacks.” [HuffPost]

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MIKE PENCE’S NOT-SO-WARM WELCOME - “Daddy, Donald Trump hates women” is the sort of thing you’d think would be relegated to the fan fiction Ted Cruz writes about himself. Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns: “Congressional Republicans were even blunter in private. An otherwise friendly morning meeting with House Republicans turned awkward when Mr. Pence was pressed by Representative Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska about Mr. Trump’s difficulties with women, said two House Republicans who relayed the conversation. Mr. Fortenberry told Mr. Pence that his young daughter had come to him and said, ‘Daddy, Donald Trump hates women,’ according to one of the lawmakers, who both insisted on anonymity to recount a private conversation...Mr. Pence faced resistance again when he met privately with Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas, neither of whom has endorsed Mr. Trump. Mr. Lee pressed the governor on his reluctance to denounce Mr. Duke and the so-called alt-right movement more explicitly, stressing ‘that Republicans must identify David Duke’s racism as deplorable,’ according to Conn Carroll, a spokesman for Mr. Lee.” [NYT]

TRUMP PAYS FLORIDA MEN - Because you can’t ply politicians with free booze like you can fannypack-wearing moms at the slots, campaign contributions will have to do. Sam Stein and Jason Cherkis: “On Oct. 3, 2006, the real estate mogul cut a $500 check to Walter ‘Skip’ Campbell, the Democrat running for attorney general, according to campaign finance reports. Twenty-five days later, he reversed course, writing a $500 check to Campbell’s Republican opponent, Bill McCollum. As the election neared and McCollum’s prospects brightened, Trump gave a $1,000 check to the pro-McCollum group Citizens Speaking Out Committee, Inc...The money that Trump gave McCollum was dwarfed by the $25,000 his foundation contributed to Bondi before she opted not to join a lawsuit against Trump University. But it still illustrates a side of Trump that has complicated his run for the presidency. His contention that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton engages in pay-to-play politics has been undermined by his own history of deploying his vast financial resources and celebrity to influence politicians. This was especially true in Florida.” [HuffPost]

POLITICS WORKS EXACTLY HOW YOU THINK IT WORKS - Ed Pilkington: “Scott Walker was under pressure. It was September 2011, and earlier that year the first-term governor had turned himself into the poster boy of hardline Republican politics by passing the notorious anti-union measure Act 10, stripping public sector unions of collective bargaining rights.He asked his main fundraiser, Kate Doner, to write him a briefing note on how they could raise enough money to win the election. At 6.39am on a Wednesday, she fired off an email to Walker and his top advisers flagged ‘red’. ‘Gentlemen,’ she began. ‘Here are my quick thoughts on raising money for Walker’s possible recall efforts.’ Her advice was bold and to the point. ‘Corporations,’ she said. ‘Go heavy after them to give.’ She continued: ‘Take Koch’s money. Get on a plane to Vegas and sit down with Sheldon Adelson. Ask for $1m now.’” [Guardian]

COLIN CLEANSE - But when will we get the emails showing Powell asking for Hamilton tickets? Paul Blumenthal: “Former Secretary of State Colin Powell ripped his successor Hillary Clinton for linking him to investigations over her use of her private email server during her tenure, leaked emails show. ‘Sad thing it [sic] that HRC could have killed this two years ago by merely telling everyone honestly what she had done and not tie me into it,’ Powell said in one email. He wrote that he ‘told her staff three times not to try that gambit.’ ‘I had to throw a mini tantrum at a Hampton’s party to get their attention,’ Powell wrote, referencing an interview he gave to People Magazine at the Apollo in the Hamptons 2016 Night of Legends party. ‘She keeps tripping into these ‘character’ minefields.’ He had told People that “her people have been trying to pin” her use of emails on him. ‘It doesn’t bother me,’ he told People. ‘But it’s okay; I’m free.’’ [HuffPost]

ALSO THIS: “Former Secretary of State Colin Powell slammed his former Bush Administration colleague Dick Cheney in private emails seen by BuzzFeed News, saying about the former vice president’s book written with his daughter, Liz, ‘They are idiots and spent force peddling a book that ain’t going nowhere.’ The email, to Kenneth Duberstein — the former White House chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan — was about the Cheneys’ September 2015 book, Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America...When asked about the emails, Powell told BuzzFeed News ‘Ok. Bye bye,’ and hung up.” [BuzzFeed]

THE COLD WAR IS BACK, BABY! - If this doesn’t signal the official end of the “Boris Yeltsin drunkenly getting pizza outside the White House” era, nothing will. Greg Miller: “U.S. intelligence agencies are expanding spying operations against Russia on a greater scale than at any time since the end of the Cold War, U.S. officials said. The mobilization involves clandestine CIA operatives, National Security Agency cyber espionage capabilities, satellite systems and other intelligence assets, officials said, describing a shift in resources across spy services that had previously diverted attention from Russia to focus on terrorist threats and U.S. war zones. U.S. officials said the moves are part of an effort to rebuild U.S. intelligence capabilities that had continued to atrophy even as Russia sought to reassert itself as a global power...U.S. spy agencies ‘are playing catch-up big time’ with Russia, a senior U.S. intelligence official said. Terrorism remains the top concern for American intelligence services, the official said, but recent directives from the White House and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) have moved Russia up the list of intelligence priorities for the first time since the Soviet Union’s collapse.” [WaPo]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s how to transform yourself into Steve Buscemi.

IN OTHER NEWS FROM AMERICA’S ADVENTURES ABROAD: Lee Ferran: “A blistering new report blasts the U.S. government’s pouring of billions of dollars into projects in Afghanistan with inadequate oversight that in many cases fueled corruption on unprecedented levels and ultimately undermined America’s mission there. The 164-page report, published online today by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), is the first in the agency’s ‘Lessons Learned’ series that takes a broader look at the U.S. government’s shortcomings in the 15 years since the 2001 invasion. SIGAR previously released report after report about the waste of millions of dollars in failed individual projects. This report, titled Corruption in Conflict, said that at early on the U.S. government did not ‘fully appreciate the potential for corruption to threaten the security and state-building mission in Afghanistan,’ where some form of regular corruption had already existed for centuries.” [ABC]

COMFORT FOOD

- Why “Alien” was so good.

- College, in a nutshell.

- Apparently a plan is afoot to drain the Mediterranean and connect Europe and Africa.

- Giant, runaway moon balloon terrorizes Chinese city.

TWITTERAMA

@morninggloria: Imagine an obese woman who is constantly making fun of men for not having perfect bodies enjoying the political support of 40%+ of voters

@matthewamiller: I can’t wait to watch how Dr. Oz grilled Trump on his dangerous views on vaccinations & presented him with the science debunking them.

@alexburnsNYT: Like someone going from “I will release my tax returns” to “I’m going to talk about how to save & spend wisely in a Suze Orman special”

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