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For The Record  

FTR #302 Update on German Corporate Control over the American Media

Listen: Side 1 | Side 2

This program supplements an ongoing series, beginning in December of 1998.

1. The program begins with a recap of an article that was highlighted in FTR #299. Because the implications of the article for American telecommunications (and, consequently, this series) would be difficult to exaggerate, it is reviewed here. In a sweeping ruling, the FCC gave the go ahead to Deutsche Telekom (controlled by the German government) to purchase American mobile telephone companies. (The head of the FCC is Michael Powell, Colin Powell’s son.) More importantly, the ruling gives the go-ahead to the future purchase of American telecommunications companies by companies that are controlled by foreign governments. The governing protocol to determine whether such purchases are acceptable will be the WTO’s standard of being “in the public interest.” “. . . . Although extended regulatory debates can frequently lead to documents full of mealy-mouthed bureaucratese, the 97-page order issued by the FCC is as sweeping and precedent-setting as Mr. Powell had wanted. It goes further than any previous ruling in the agency’s 66-year history to open up the U.S. telecommunications market to foreign competitors. ‘This is the green light. This is the paved road. This is the autobahn,” said Rudy Baca, an analyst of international telecoms regulation with the Precursor Group. ‘It’s more definitive than most people expected.’ At the heart of the debate over the deal was a discreet section of the Communications act that contains seemingly contradictory guidance on how to deal with foreign telecoms owned by their governments. One part of the law states flatly that no U.S. phone licenses can be held ‘by any foreign government or representative thereof.’ But another section allows a company to buy the license if the FCC rules it in the public interest. The interpretation of the language is crucial, since outside the UK, most big overseas companies remain at least partially in the hands of governments. After the VoiceStream deal closes, for instance, Telekom will still be 45 per cent-owned by the German government. The same is the case for important international players such as France Telecom and Japan’s NTT. In its Telekom-VoiceStream ruling, the FCC found the wording calling for an outright ban applies only if a foreign government itself tries to acquire a license – a highly unlikely scenario that, for all intents and purposes, makes the clause moot. Instead, all companies where a government owns a stake will be governed by the public interest waiver. In addition, the FCC went even further, saying that due trade commitments, any purchase by a company from a WTO country will be assumed to be in the public interest, a clear sign that the agency has opened the flood gates. ‘The FCC has confirmed that it will be applying U.S. law to U.S. WTO commitments, said Scott Blake Harris, former head of the FCC’s international bureau who worked for VoiceStream in the deal. Analysts predict that the order could lead to a new save of foreign investment, which could target even the largest U.S. carriers. The FCC’s sweeping ruling, however, has incensed the deal’s opponents, including Senator Ernest Hollings, who came within a hair’s breadth of blocking the merger through legislation last year. He has vowed to reintroduce the bill this session and include a provision that would force the German government to sell most of its stake in Telekom if it wanted to retain VoiceStream. ‘They basically rewrote the law,’ said one critic. “They just changed 65 years of jurisprudence.'” (“US Ruling on Telekom Could Lead to Wave of Investment” by Peter Spiegel in Washington; Financial Times; 5/2/2001; p. 8.)

2. As the story indicates, the FCC ruling establishes WTO membership and “the public interest” as the primary criteria for evaluating purchases of American telecommunications firms by companies controlled by foreign governments. Much of the first half of the program reviews information about Robert Zoellick, one of the principal architects of the WTO. (The articles are excerpted from FTR 273. Zoellick was appointed as U.S. Trade Representative by George Bush.)

As noted elsewhere, WTO midwife Zoellick is a fellow and board member of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. (“Robert Bruce Zoellick” by Joseph Kahn; New York Times; 1/12/2001; p. A15.) This organization, in turn, is inextricably linked with the Bormann organization.

3. The economic and political component of a Third Reich gone underground, the Bormann organization controls corporate Germany and much of the rest of the world. It was created and run by Martin Bormann, the organizational genius who was the “the power behind the throne” in Nazi Germany.

4. Paul Manning describes this organization in some detail in his book Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile. “By the 1970s, the West Germans had concluded that influencing U.S. public opinion is better accomplished with a skilled touch than with a meat cleaver, which had characterized their efforts during the two world wars. An example of such skill was the staged news event of June 5, 1972, when Willy Brandt announced at Harvard University that the Federal Republic of Germany would donate 150 million marks ($47 million) to establish a foundation in honor of the Marshall Plan – a statesmanlike approach to the recovery of former enemies, and to the recovery generally of Western Europe. Brandt stated that the money would arrive in equal installments for the next fifteen years, for the establishment and operation in the United States of an independent American-run educational foundation specializing in solutions to European problems, to be known as the ‘German Marshall Fund of the United States – A Memorial to the Marshall Plan.’

5. “The overriding function of this German George C. Marshall Research Foundation is public relations, to cosmetize the German industrialists and bankers whose corporations whose corporations had worked so successfully for the Third Reich. In October 1978, the Marshall Foundation was utilized as a platform for Dr. Hermann J. Abs, now honorary president of Deutsche Bank A.G., as he addressed a meeting of businessmen and bankers and members of the Foreign Policy Association in New York City on the ‘Problems and Prospects of American-German Economic Cooperation.’ This luncheon meeting was chaired by his old friend, John J. McCloy, Wall Street banker and lawyer, who had worked closely with Dr. Abs when McCloy served as U.S. High Commissioner for Germany during those postwar reconstruction years. At that time, Hermann Abs, as chief executive of Deutsche Bank, was also directing the spending of America’s Marshall Plan money in West Germany as the chairman of the Reconstruction Loan Corporation of the Federal Republic of Germany. With them on the dais were Henry H. Fowler, Wall Street investment banker and former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury; Henry Cabot Lodge, former U.S. ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany; George C. McGhee, another former American ambassador to West Germany, also a trustee of the Marshall Foundation and a member of various private and government advisory groups. These, along with the others on the dais and in the audience, represent firms and banks that are among the most prestigious in the United States and throughout the world; all benefited from the rebirth and rebounding prosperity of the new Federal Republic of Germany. Knowingly or no, these figures and their corporations are indebted to the man who was not there, the financial and administrative genius who set the foundation for the postwar recovery of West Germany, Martin Bormann.” (Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile; Paul Manning; Copyright 1981 [HC]; Lyle Stuart Inc.; ISBN 0-8184-0309-8; pp. 261-262.)

6. Manning goes on to describe the function of the German Marshall Fund, an interesting factor to contemplate in connection with Zoellick, his pivotal role in the creation of the WTO and, in turn, the WTO’s important role as the yardstick by which purchases of American telecommunications firms will be measured by the FCC. “The Stroking of American public opinion by German interests, as by those of Japan, is calculated to open further the American market. The United States remains the richest and the most profitable market on the face of the earth, and these businessmen and bankers know that they either buy their way in or negotiate their way in. They know that if they are going to succeed as world companies they must have a generous slice of the U.S. market, and today this can be accomplished only through ties, treaties, and agreements, no longer entirely through retained earnings and bank lines of credit.” (Ibid.; p. 262.)

7. Zoellick’s eventual ascent to a position of power in this institution is particularly interesting to note in the context of some of his other actions, professional associations and beliefs. A member of the Bush State Department, Zoellick was a strong, effective advocate within James Baker’s foreign policy establishment for speedy German reunification, and he played a pivotal role in bringing it about. “Mr. Zoellick, the other leading candidate for the trade job, was a foreign policy wunderkind under Mr. Baker. He helped design and carry out United States policy on German reunification a decade ago. He also helped start NAFTA negotiations from his post in the State Department.” (“Bush Seeking to Overhaul Policy Making” by Joseph Kahn and Frank Bruni; New York Times; 1/6/2001; p. B14.)

8. Significantly, Zoellick midwifed a diplomatic compromise to create the World Trade Organization. (“Robert Bruce Zoellick” by Joseph Kahn; New York Times; 1/12/2001; p. A15.)

9. With regard to German reunification, Zoellick convinced the Bush administration to embrace German unity. “A confidant of former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, he rallied western allies to back a speedy German reunification and finagled a compromise that led to the creation of the World Trade Organization. . . .But he is most widely remembered in foreign policy circles for being the Unites States’ representative at the multiparty negotiation of the future of divided Germany. He persuaded the Bush administration to embrace German unity despite the qualms of allies and alarm in the former Soviet Union.” (Ibid.; p. A15.)

10. Another credit on Zoellick’s curriculum vitae, is his participation with James Baker, his apparent mentor, in the “Florida Recount,” that gave Bush his “victory.” “Zoellick also served as counselor to the Treasury secretary during the Ronald Reagan administration, in addition to other posts. He is a protégé of James A. Baker III, the longtime Republican official. Both traveled to Florida to help George W. Bush during the recent ballot recount controversy.” (“Bush’s Trade Chief Rated as Smart, Smooth Negotiator” by Jonathan Peterson; Los Angeles Times; 1/12/2001; p. A15.)

11. With the types of connections exemplified above, Zoellick is viewed with favor in Europe. “The appointment will be greeted favorably in Europe, where Mr. Zoellick has strong contacts in both government and business. He was one of a handfull of Bush advisers that a senior EU delegation sought out last month when they visited Washington.” By Edward Alden, Richard Wolffe and Stephen Fidler; Financial Times; 1/12/2001; p. 4.)

12. Zoellick’s partisan role on behalf of Germany during the closing phase of the Cold War, his pivotal role in the creation of the WTO, and his significance in the Bush/Baker milieu would seem to augur well for conditions in America for German corporations. Given FCC Chairman Michael Powell’s recent actions on acquisitions of American telecommunications companies, Zoellick’s actions have helped to open up the American telecommunications landscape to German corporate predators. (“US Ruling on Telekom Could Lead to Wave of Investment” by Peter Spiegel; Financial Times; 5/2/2001.)

13. This, in turn, is to be evaluated in terms of the scenario presented in the Nazi tract Serpent’s Walk. Mr. Emory believes that, like The Turner Diaries (also published by National Vanguard Books), the book is actually a blueprint for what is going to take place. It is a novel about a Nazi takeover of the United States in the middle of the 21st century. The book describes the Third Reich going underground, buying into the American media, and taking over the country. “It assumes that Hitler’s warrior elite – the SS – didn’t give up their struggle for a White world when they lost the Second World War. Instead their survivors went underground and adopted some of their tactics of their enemies: they began building their economic muscle and buying into the opinion-forming media. A century after the war they are ready to challenge the democrats and Jews for the hearts and minds of White Americans, who have begun to have their fill of government-enforced multi-culturalism and ‘equality.'” (From the back cover of Serpent’s Walk by “Randolph D. Calverhall;” Copyright 1991 [SC]; National Vanguard Books; 0-937944-05-X.)

14. This process is described in more detail in a passage of text, consisting of a discussion between Wrench (a member of this Underground Reich) and a mercenary named Lessing. “The SS . . . what was left of it . . . had business objectives before and during World War II. When the war was lost they just kept on, but from other places: Bogota, Asuncion, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Colombo, Damascus, Dacca . . . you name it. They realized that the world is heading towards a ‘corporacracy;’ five or ten international super-companies that will run everything worth running by the year 2100. Those super-corporations exist now, and they’re already dividing up the production and marketing of food, transport, steel and heavy industry, oil, the media, and other commodities. They’re mostly conglomerates, with fingers in more than one pie . . . . We, the SS, have the say in four or five. We’ve been competing for the past sixty years or so, and we’re slowly gaining . . . . About ten years ago, we swung a merger, a takeover, and got voting control of a supercorp that runs a small but significant chunk of the American media. Not openly, not with bands and trumpets or swastikas flying, but quietly: one huge corporation cuddling up to another one and gently munching it up, like a great, gubbing amoeba. Since then we’ve been replacing executives, pushing somebody out here, bringing somebody else in there. We’ve swing program content around, too. Not much, but a little, so it won’t show. We’ve cut down on ‘nasty-Nazi’ movies . . . good guys in white hats and bad guys in black SS hats . . . lovable Jews versus fiendish Germans . . . and we have media psychologists, ad agencies, and behavior modification specialists working on image changes.” (Ibid.; pp. 42-43.)

15. Before turning directly to the subject of music, the broadcast addresses the gradual remaking of the image of the Third Reich that is represented in Serpent’s Walk. In the discussion excerpted above, this process is further described. “Hell, if you can con granny into buying Sugar Turds instead of Bran Farts, then why can’t you swing public opinion over to a cause as vital and important as ours?’ . . . In any case, we’re slowly replacing those negative images with others: the ‘Good Bad Guy’ routine’ . . . ‘What do you think of Jesse James? John Dillinger? Julius Caesar? Genghis Khan?’ . . . The reality may have been rough, but there’s a sort of glitter about most of those dudes: mean honchos but respectable. It’s all how you package it. Opinion is a godamned commodity!’ . . . It works with anybody . . . Give it time. Aside from the media, we’ve been buying up private schools . . . and helping some public ones through philanthropic foundations . . . and working on the churches and the Born Agains.” (Ibid.; pp. 42-44.)

16. Next, the program considers an odd lawsuit, which embraces evidentiary tributaries running in the direction of the remarkable and deadly Bormann organization, as well as the issue of culture and historical revisionism. The heirs to Hitler’s personal photographer are suing to obtain paintings done by Hitler. (“Court Considers Ownership of Seized Hitler Paintings” by William H. Honan; New York Times; 5/8/2001; pp. B1-B6.)

17. Some experts view the return of the paintings by the United States government to be conducive to a restoration of Hitler’s image and a rehabilitation of his politics. (Idem.)

18. The rights to photographer Heinrich Hoffman’s pictures of Hitler were held exclusively by Martin Bormann, suggesting at least the possibility that the considerable sum from the lawsuit would be destined for the Bormann organization. (Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile; by Paul Manning; Lyle Stuart Inc.; 1991; p. 44.)

19. Just as the Hitler watercolors were seen by some as presenting the threat of marketing “a kinder, gentler Hitler,” so too were a series of forged sketches attributed to Hitler while he was serving in the German army during World War I. Those drawings received the enthusiastic endorsement of Dirk Bavendamm, the official house historian for the Bertelsmann firm. (“Bertelsmann’s Revisionist” The Nation; 11/8/99.) This “cultural revisionism” would fit in well with the scenario presented in Serpent’s Walk.

20. The broadcast concludes with supplemental discussion of personalities in the Hitler watercolors case whose Nazi careers overlapped Bormann’s sphere of influence. (Quest by Frank Brandenburg and Ib Melchior; Copyright 1990 [SC]; Presidio Press; p. 109.)

Discussion

One comment for “FTR #302 Update on German Corporate Control over the American Media”

  1. With the filing of the Mueller report, one of the biggest questions facing the Trump presidency at this point is which of the numerous other scandals will the press and public focus on now? It’s a big question in part because there’s just such a big selection of scandals to choose from.

    Of all the remaining Trump scandals to choose from, perhaps the most tempting is the blatant and widespread violations of the emoluments clause of the US Constitution. And that’s part of what makes the scandal involving T-Mobile’s conspicuous patronage of Trump’s properties a potentially very interesting scandal. Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the US Constitution prohibits presidents from accepting gifts from foreign governments. And yet numerous foreign governments have dramatically increased their stays at Trump properties over the last few years. So there’s already blatant open violations of the emoluments clause going on there involving foreign governments.

    Here’s what makes T-Mobile’s case kind of interesting: T-Mobile has been trying to get approval to merge with Sprint which requires the Trump administration’s blessing. T-Mobile has also dramatically increased its stays at Trump’s properties, starting the day after they announced the proposed merger with Sprint. So there’s some blatant corporate pandering going on. But unlike the ban there’s nothing in the constitution stopping the President from doing business with domestic companies and this is what makes the T-Mobile case extra interesting. Historically, US presidents have always been willing to put their personal assets in blind trusts to avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest. Trump took a decidedly different approach and decided to hand control of his assets to his children, which is basically the opposite of a blind trust. Then Trump famously declared that the president simply can’t have conflicts of interest so there’s nothing to worry about.

    So we have a situation where both foreign governments and domestic corporations are currying favor with the US president by conspicuous using Trump’s properties. And in T-Mobile’s case, we have a domestic corporation that’s owned by Deutsche Telekom which is about 31% owned by the German government. The rest of Deutsche Telekom is owned by public investors so that means the German government basically has a controlling share of the company even if it doesn’t own a majority stake.

    So T-Mobile is kind of both a domestic US corporation and the asset of a foreign government and it’s clearly trying to bribe the Trump administration into approving its merger with Sprint. And that’s all what makes the T-Mobile proxy-bribes of Trump such an interesting scandal. It’s blatantly scandalous, but whether or not it’s a scandal involving a domestic corporation or a foreign government is kind of ambiguous:

    Reuters

    T-Mobile spent $195,000 at Trump Hotel in D.C. since merger announcement

    David Shepardson
    March 5, 2019 / 10:29 AM

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – T-Mobile Us Inc’s chief executive, John Legere, and other company leaders have spent $195,000 on hotel stays and other expenses at the Trump International Hotel in Washington since the company sought approval for a $26 billion merger with Sprint last April, documents released on Tuesday show.

    The company disclosed the expenses in a letter after Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Pramila Jayapal, both Democrats, sent letters to leaders of the Trump Organization and T-Mobile last month after reports that T-Mobile executives started regularly using the Trump hotel. Photos of Legere, who regularly stays at the hotel, began appearing on social media sites, with him wearing his customary pink T-Mobile-themed attire.

    After questions were raised about the Trump hotel stays, Legere posted a photo of himself from another prominent Washington hotel.

    The company said in a Feb. 21 letter the $195,000 included costs for “meeting space, catering, business center services, audio/visual equipment rental, lodging, meals, taxes and other incidental expenses.”

    The Democrats said the hotel stays “raise questions about whether T-Mobile is attempting to curry favor with the President, who has not fully divested from his financial interests, via their numerous and expensive stays in the Trump Hotel.”

    The Washington Post reported that T-Mobile executives had reserved at least 52 nights at the hotel since the merger announcement, dramatically boosting the company’s use of the hotel.

    The company said the Trump hotel expenses were just 14 percent of its total spent at Washington area hotels during that period.

    The Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission are still reviewing the proposed deal to combined the third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers.

    Trump and Legere feuded publicly in 2015. Legere complained about a street drummer outside a Trump hotel, which prompted Trump to call T Mobile’s service “terrible” in a tweet.

    Legere said in his letter to the Democrats that he has stayed at Trump properties in Chicago, New York and Washington and said the Washington hotel “is located close by my company office … and the Department of Justice.”

    Last month, nine senators, including Warren, urged regulators to reject the merger.

    ———-

    “T-Mobile spent $195,000 at Trump Hotel in D.C. since merger announcement” by David Shepardson; Reuters; 03/05/2019

    “The Washington Post reported that T-Mobile executives had reserved at least 52 nights at the hotel since the merger announcement, dramatically boosting the company’s use of the hotel.

    Yep, ever since the T-Mobil/Sprint merger announcement, all of a sudden there was a dramatic surging in T-Mobil’s use of Trump’s hotels. The CEO of T-Mobile, John Legere, apparently regularly stays there while wearing his signature T-Mobile attire. It’s not exactly subtle:


    The company disclosed the expenses in a letter after Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Pramila Jayapal, both Democrats, sent letters to leaders of the Trump Organization and T-Mobile last month after reports that T-Mobile executives started regularly using the Trump hotel. Photos of Legere, who regularly stays at the hotel, began appearing on social media sites, with him wearing his customary pink T-Mobile-themed attire.

    Trump and Legere feuded publicly in 2015. Legere complained about a street drummer outside a Trump hotel, which prompted Trump to call T Mobile’s service “terrible” in a tweet.

    And this is all happening when the Justice Department and FEC are still reviewing the proposed merger. That’s not super shady or anything. Nope:


    The Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission are still reviewing the proposed deal to combined the third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers.

    Legere said in his letter to the Democrats that he has stayed at Trump properties in Chicago, New York and Washington and said the Washington hotel “is located close by my company office … and the Department of Justice.”

    Last month, nine senators, including Warren, urged regulators to reject the merger.

    And now here’s a piece in Vox that puts this scandal in the context of the larger scandal of Trump’s blatant disregard for the emoluments clause and the fact that foreign governments, especially Saudi Arabia, have been unambiguously increasing their stays at Trump’s properties. And as the article notes, while the constitution does ban presidents from accepting gifts from foreign governments, there’s no such ban on presidents doing business with domestic corporations. In the past, US presidents decided to go with blind trusts in order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest but Trump decided that having Trump Jr. and Eric run the company was good enough:

    Vox

    Report: T-Mobile spent lots of money at Trump’s hotel while awaiting approval for lucrative merger
    The chain of events highlights Trump’s unprecedented conflicts of interest.

    By Aaron Rupar
    Updated Jan 16, 2019, 4:25pm EST

    An explosive report highlights major problems resulting from a president who refuses to divest from or publicly disclose his private business interests, perhaps best exemplified by an upscale hotel located just block from the White House.

    According to the Washington Post’s Jonathan O’Connell and David Fahrenthold, a day after T-Mobile announced its $26 billion merger with rival Sprint in April 2018, T-Mobile CEO John Legere was one of nine company executives among a group of “VIP Arrivals” at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC.

    President Trump still owns and directly profits from the Trump International, and the T-Mobile/Sprint merger requires approval from his administration. While the deal hasn’t received final approval, it recently received the blessing of Team Telecom, which consists of the US Committee on Foreign Investment and the departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Defense.

    Since last April, Legere and other T-Mobile executives have repeatedly patronized the Trump International, with one particular executive making at least 10 visits. Rooms in the hotel regularly cost more than $300 a night. From the Post:

    Last week, a Post reporter spotted Legere in the Trump hotel’s lobby. In an impromptu interview, the T-Mobile chief executive said he was not seeking special treatment. He chose the Trump hotel, he said, for its fine service and good security.

    “It’s become a place I feel very comfortable,” Legere said. He also praised the hotel’s location, next to one of the departments that must approve the company’s merger.

    “At the moment I am in town for some meetings at the Department of Justice,” Legere said. “And it’s very convenient for that.”

    Zach Everson, a reporter who focuses on the Trump International, has documented some of Legere’s visits to the hotel on Twitter, and even posted photos of his April 2018 visit.

    The day after his company announced a merger with Sprint that federal regulators are sure to review, T-Mobile’s CEO John Legere was at the Trump Hotel DC. https://t.co/dyfGLgkklt pic.twitter.com/FJtbH4ZU7Y
    — Zach Everson (@Z_Everson) May 1, 2018

    With a merger pending that’ll need government approval, T-Mobile’s CEO John Legere is back at the Trump Hotel DC. Also Corey Lewandowski is here. And Lewandowski just went over to Legere’s table and they chatted. (Verified with my own eyes .)
    — Zach Everson (@Z_Everson) June 27, 2018

    On Wednesday afternoon, Legere responded to the controversy sparked by the Post’s report, tweeting, “I trust regulators will make their decision based on the benefits it [the potential T-Mobile/Sprint merger] will bring to the US, not based on hotel choices.”

    Wow – A lot of attention on where I choose to stay in DC. I’ve said many times that I respect this process and am working to get our merger done the right way. I trust regulators will make their decision based on the benefits it will bring to the US, not based on hotel choices.
    — John Legere (@JohnLegere) January 16, 2019

    But ethics watchdogs don’t buy Legere’s explanation that his decision to repeatedly spend money at the Trump International has nothing to do with a lucrative merger that requires approval from the Trump administration.

    “It’s currying favor with the president. It’s disturbing, because it’s another secret avenue for currying favor with the government,” Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, told the Post.

    Foreign governments are spending money at Trump’s hotels too

    The problem of companies currying favor with the president by lining his pockets through his business is related to the emoluments issue Vox’s Matt Yglesias detailed on Tuesday.

    Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the US Constitution prohibits the president from accepting gifts from foreign governments. Yet foreign governments, including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, have spent money at Trump’s hotels.

    In August, the Washington Post reported, “After two years of decline, revenue from room rentals [at the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan] went up 13 percent in the first three months of 2018.” The increase was largely due to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s patronage of the hotel during a visit to New York City, during which he and his entourage didn’t even end up staying there.

    The DC and Maryland governments have sued the federal government, alleging that Trump is violating the emoluments clause, and have won standing. The lawsuit is on hold during the ongoing government shutdown.

    There is no clause of the Constitution preventing presidents from doing business with domestic companies like T-Mobile. But before Trump, as a matter of course, presidents would divest from their private business interests before they took office.

    Trump broke from precedent by refusing to divest — or disclose

    Trump has broken a lot of precedents, but one of the biggest has been refusing to release his personal tax returns — something presidential candidates have long done to show transparency — and refusing to divest from his assets or put them in a blind trust.

    The most frequently mentioned example of a president divesting from his business interests before taking office is Jimmy Carter, who famously put his family peanut farm in a blind trust before he was inaugurated in 1977.

    “Well, it was a hard decision for me to make and this is something that I’ve had to face. I’ve literally given up my own method of making a living here in Plains,” Carter said at the time. “But I don’t want any decision that I make as president to have any effect on my own income. The trustee will try to do the best they can and take care of my remaining family here, my mother and Billy, not to disrupt their lives too much.”

    Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy also made moves to distance themselves from assets they owned and managed before taking office. Former George W. Bush ethics adviser Richard Painter told Fortune that before Trump, “every other President in modern times has tried as best they could to act as if the law did apply to them.”

    Trump has, notably, declined to either divest or disclosure. Corruption, or the appearance thereof, doesn’t seem to bother him in the slightest.

    “It should come as no surprise that a CEO of a major corporation would want to stay with us”

    Shortly before he took office, Trump held a news conference in which he unveiled a plan to distance himself from his business interests that amounted to a “sham,” as Vox’s Libby Nelson put it back then.

    He announced that he would put his businesses into a trust managed by his sons Eric and Donald Jr. — both of whom have since emerged as key spokespeople for their dad. Though the trust isn’t blind and Trump still profits from his business, he touted at the news conference that he was doing more than necessary to avoid conflicts of interest.

    “I could actually run my business and run government at the same time. I don’t like the way that looks,” Trump said. “But I would be able to do that if I wanted to.”

    Later, he added: “I have a no-conflict situation because I’m president … it’s a nice thing to have.”

    While the situation may be nice for him, it raises questions about whether the executive branch is making policy in the public interest, or in the Trump family’s financial interest.

    When the Post asked about T-Mobile’s Legere staying at the Trump International, Eric Trump suggested it has nothing to do with politics.

    ———-

    “Report: T-Mobile spent lots of money at Trump’s hotel while awaiting approval for lucrative merger” by Aaron Rupar; Vox; 01/16/2019

    “According to the Washington Post’s Jonathan O’Connell and David Fahrenthold, a day after T-Mobile announced its $26 billion merger with rival Sprint in April 2018, T-Mobile CEO John Legere was one of nine company executives among a group of “VIP Arrivals” at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC.

    Literally a day after T-Mobile announced its merger plans, John Legere was one of nine company executives among a group of “VIP Arrivals” at the Trump International Hotel. Again, they weren’t trying to be subtle. And yet it’s not entirely clear if this behavior was technically illegal. Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the US Constitution prohibits the president from accepting gifts from foreign governments and such stays at Trump’s properties could easily be seen as gifts. But there’s no clause in the Constitution preventing presidents from doing business with domestic companies like T-Mobile. Only the historical precedent that Trump already ignored:


    Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the US Constitution prohibits the president from accepting gifts from foreign governments. Yet foreign governments, including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, have spent money at Trump’s hotels.

    In August, the Washington Post reported, “After two years of decline, revenue from room rentals [at the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan] went up 13 percent in the first three months of 2018.” The increase was largely due to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s patronage of the hotel during a visit to New York City, during which he and his entourage didn’t even end up staying there.

    The DC and Maryland governments have sued the federal government, alleging that Trump is violating the emoluments clause, and have won standing. The lawsuit is on hold during the ongoing government shutdown.

    There is no clause of the Constitution preventing presidents from doing business with domestic companies like T-Mobile. But before Trump, as a matter of course, presidents would divest from their private business interests before they took office.

    Trump broke from precedent by refusing to divest — or disclose

    Trump has broken a lot of precedents, but one of the biggest has been refusing to release his personal tax returns — something presidential candidates have long done to show transparency — and refusing to divest from his assets or put them in a blind trust.

    “After two years of decline, revenue from room rentals [at the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan] went up 13 percent in the first three months of 2018.” The increase was largely due to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s patronage of the hotel during a visit to New York City, during which he and his entourage didn’t even end up staying there.

    Yep, Saudi Arabia alone was largely responsible for the 13 percent increase in room rental revenues in the first three months fo 2018 at the same hotel that T-Mobile has been staying at. So if T-Mobile thought that spending almost $200k staying at Trump’s hotel would earn them better treatment from the Trump administration you have to wonder what Saudi Arabia was assuming it was buying. That’s the kind of situation we have as a result of Trump’s refusal to put his assets into a blind trust. Instead, Trump laughably announced that his kids can run the company instead while declaring that the president can’t have a conflict of interest:


    Shortly before he took office, Trump held a news conference in which he unveiled a plan to distance himself from his business interests that amounted to a “sham,” as Vox’s Libby Nelson put it back then.

    He announced that he would put his businesses into a trust managed by his sons Eric and Donald Jr. — both of whom have since emerged as key spokespeople for their dad. Though the trust isn’t blind and Trump still profits from his business, he touted at the news conference that he was doing more than necessary to avoid conflicts of interest.

    “I could actually run my business and run government at the same time. I don’t like the way that looks,” Trump said. “But I would be able to do that if I wanted to.”

    Later, he added: “I have a no-conflict situation because I’m president … it’s a nice thing to have.”

    So before he’s even sworn in as president, Trump declares “I have a no-conflict situation because I’m president … it’s a nice thing to have.” And now, two years later, we’ve seen a parade of foreign governments and corporations clearly trying to demonstrate some sort of fealty to Trump by conspicuously staying at his properties over and over.

    In the case of T-Mobile, we have a domestic corporation that’s owned by a German corporation that’s 31% owned by the German government. Also note that Deutsche Telekom previously signaled that it wanted to have control over the combined entity and in the recent reports on the proposal merger the largest share of the ownership would go to Deutsche Telekom at 42%, with Sprint-owner SoftBank getting just 27 percent, and the rest held by the public. So Deutsche Telekom, which, again, is 31% owned by the German government, would indeed be the entity running this new T-Mobile/Sprint merged company. So does that make the T-Mobile bribery scandal a domestic corporate bribery scandal or a foreign government bribery scandal? As we’ve seen, it kind of doesn’t matter because both domestic corporations and foreign governments are openly ‘gifting’ to the Trump with these hotel stays.

    And that’s what makes the T-Mobile corruption story such an interesting Trump scandal. It highlights the scandalous payoffs to the president by foreign governments and domestic corporations because it’s kind of an example of both problems.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 26, 2019, 11:05 am

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