Things That Matter

Trump’s Building In Uruguay Is A Bust And It’s Not Even Completed Yet But American Taxpayers Did Pay A Price

Just because Donald Trump vowed to halt constructions on new projects in the U.S. (you know, conflict of interest since he is the president) — that doesn’t mean the Trump name isn’t extended to other projects overseas. Trump Inc. is still plowing through despite mounting legal issues, and the only one that can oversee the corporation is the youngest Trump (not Barron but Eric) since his elder siblings are either working in the White House or are still in the middle of their own legal issues in regards to the Russia investigation. And, so, the Trump name is still trying to conquer another building in Uruguay even though the project seems futile.

Eric Trump is thrilled to be opening a new Trump building in Uruguay, but it’s not really theirs.

Instagram/@/erictrump

While Eric visited Uruguay in January, more details about the trip are now public.

“It’s incredible,” Eric said, according to The New York Times. “We have the best building anywhere in Punta del Este, anywhere in South America.”

The building does look to be very luxurious. It will reportedly be a “25-story, 156-condominium waterfront tower, complete with an indoor tennis court, multiple swimming pools and a rooftop helipad.” Fancy, right? Here’s the funny thing, it’s not really a Trump building.

Like most Trump real estate, the buildings that boast the Trump name do not belong to them. They are merely paying to put their name on the building. It’s like an advertisement. Trump Inc. does “take a cut of the revenue from selling units,” The New York Times reports.

The building is supposed to open by 2020 but according to people who work on the construction site, there’s no way that will happen because no one is actually doing the work. The hold up has a lot to do with red-tape due to the Trump name and the presidency.

Eric’s trip to Uruguay also cost U.S. tax payers almost $100,000.

Instagram/@erictrump

As the offspring of the president, the Trump kids (even if they’re adults) have the option to have a whole security team and who’d say no to that? Perhaps a civic-minded person who has Americans in their best interest? Not in this case. Eric’s trip cost U.S. taxpayers $97,830 which included travel for his Secret Service and embassy staffers and their hotel rooms.

READ: Eric Trump Put On A Sombrero And Had A Mexican-Themed Birthday Party, And The Internet Is Not Having It

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About What Went Down On Day 4 Of The Trump Impeachment Hearings

Things That Matter

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About What Went Down On Day 4 Of The Trump Impeachment Hearings

PBS NewsHour / Instagram

The fourth day of public testimony in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump proved to be one of the most eye-opening days so far. Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, told House Intelligence Committee members that President Trump was the person behind the push to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden in exchange for a White House visit. 

Sondland said President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani asked Ukrainian officials to make a public statement that Biden would be investigated. This would be done in return for inviting President Volodymyr Zelensky to the White House. This prompted one of the biggest moments in the impeachment hearings so far as Sondland said in the clearest terms that there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine. 

“I know that members of this committee frequently frame these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a quid pro quo?” Sondland said. “As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes.

U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s testimony provided House Democrats with the strongest evidence yet in their inquiry into Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine’s

To this point in the impeachment inquiry, Sondland is the most significant witness yet and his testimony reflected that. Having Sondland testify was a challenge itself as he had previously been blocked by the Trump administration from testifying in the hearing but ultimately came forward to discuss his dealings. 

“I agreed to testify because I respect the gravity of the moment and I believe I have an obligation to recount fully my role in the events,” Sondland said. “I did so despite the directives from the White House and the State Department.”

From the ambassador’s accounts, he, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and U.S. special envoy to Ukraine  Kurt Volker, who testified on Tuesday, were told by Trump to work with Giuliani on Ukrainian matters back in May. This didn’t sit well with Sondland and other State Department officials. 

“We weren’t happy with the president’s directive to talk with Rudy. We did not want to involve Mr. Giuliani. I believed then, as I do now, that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for Ukrainian matters,” Sondland said. “We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we were playing the hand we were dealt.”

Another key moment on Wednesday from Sondland was that other senior officials that included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and current White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, knew about the quid pro quo for the potential White House meeting with Zelensky.

“We can see why Secretary Pompeo and President Trump have made such a concerted and across the board effort to obstruct this investigation and this impeachment inquiry,” House Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said during his opening statement. “They do so at their own peril.”

Republicans put Sondland’s testimony under scrutiny questioning his first-hand accounts of everything that went down between Trump and his dealings in Ukraine. 

Constant scrutiny from Republican members of the committee has been a common theme throughout the first week of these hearings. Even as the most damning claims against Trump have been heavily questioned in their legitimacy. Wednesday proved no different as Sondland shut down Republican arguments that the president had any intention of building a relationship and battling corruption in Ukraine. 

Republican members also questioned the validity of the hearings in part because Ukraine got its $400 million in U.S. aid despite Zelensky never announcing an investigation of the Biden family. 

Things weren’t much different from President Trump as reporters asked him what his thoughts were on the testimonies on Wednesday. 

Carrying some notes that he jotted down, Trump responded to Sondland’s earlier claims that he did indeed ask for a favor in return regarding Ukraine. “I want nothing! I want nothing!” Trump told reporters.  “I want no quid pro quo. This is the final word from the president of the United States. I want nothing.”

Trump also told reporters that he didn’t know Sondland saying, “This is not a man I know well. He seems like a nice guy though.” The statement is the latest walk-back from the president about his relationship with Sondland, who donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee. It also follows the president’s usual reaction to negative press by denying a relationship with any of the people involved.

Many Democrats see Wednesday as the first cracks in the impeachment inquiry hearings that lead to a possible criminal investigation. Looking at the way Trump has reacted to these hearings, things aren’t looking that great for him. 

READ: Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg Apologizes For Years Of Stop-And-Frisk Policy Ahead Of Possible 2020 Run

Trump Is Claiming That DACA Recipients Are Criminals But They Literally Can’t Have A Criminal Record

Things That Matter

Trump Is Claiming That DACA Recipients Are Criminals But They Literally Can’t Have A Criminal Record

Victoria Pickering / Flickr

President Trump lied to the American people, tweeting that “some” of DACA recipients are “very tough, hardened criminals.” In fact, any significant criminal activity would disqualify someone from receiving DACA’s protections. So, calling just one of “the people in DACA” “a very tough, hardened criminal,” is a false statement. It misleads the American people and further fans the continued rise of racism against Latinos in a ploy to appeal to his base. While the new normal may be to scoff at the consistent lies and Twitter-fueled intimidation tacts employed by Trump, we must hold each lie accountable. Just over three months ago, a white supremacist wrote a manifesto using much of the language the president uses. Then, he drove to El Paso and slaughtered 22 Mexican nationals and Mexican-Americans.

The morning of a Supreme Court hearing regarding Trump’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Trump tweeted this lie:

Credit: @realDonaldTrump / Twitter

“Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from ‘angels.’ Some are very tough, hardened criminals,” Trump tweeted on November 12. Later, he tweeted, “DACA recipients with arrest records: 53,792! That is a very large proportion of the total.” The percentage is in fact 7.76 percent of approved DACA recipients, according to a report released by The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Trump continues to pander misleading statistics to the American people to allude that any kind of “deal with the Dems” would be generous. 

Those “arrests” include apprehensions from ICE. The USCIS website clearly states, “An arrest indicates the individual was arrested or apprehended only and does not mean the individual was convicted of a crime… Further, individuals may not have been charged with a crime resulting from the arrest, may have had their charges reduced or dismissed entirely, or may have been acquitted of any charges.”

An arrest is not a charge or even a conviction of a crime. Arrests do not necessarily indicate criminality.

Credit: @cdechalus / Twitter

We all know that people of color are often scrutinized by law enforcement more harshly, and often, inappropriately. Innocent people are arrested all the time. Less frequently, innocent people are convicted, though we know it happens. Ruben Martinez, Jr., an innocent man, was just exonerated of all charges this month after serving 11 years in prison. Fact: arrest records do not indicate criminality in any individual. Convictions do. 

There are no public records that offer conviction histories of DACA recipients. The entire basis of this report by USCIS is contrary to the American values of “innocent until proven guilty.” Arrests do not indicate guilt. It is also important to remember that having no criminal record is a necessary stipulation in order to receive DACA status.

Nearly a quarter of the arrest offenses are immigration-related.

Credit: @joaquincastro / Twitter

Effectively, the exact legal basis of why DACA exists: to allow children brought into the country illegally to thrive without fear of arrest for their parents’ actions. Examples of such immigration-related offenses include over-staying visas. The most common type of offense, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all arrests are driving-related (excluding DUIs). Remember all those times you’ve gotten a speeding ticket, or didn’t make a complete stop before making a right on red? That’s your arrest record. That’s the bulk of the “hardened” crimes DACA requestors have on record (not necessarily with conviction).

If an immigrant has been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanor offenses, they are ineligible for DACA.

Credit: @scotus / Twitter

In fact, immigrants with any type of significant arrest history will likely pass on applying for DACA, because it effectively places them on the federal government’s radar. A good immigration attorney won’t allow their clients to give up so much information about their criminal record, place of work, or home address if they feel they’ll be denied by DACA, because it may trigger an arrest warrant by ICE. Arguably, “hardened criminals” don’t even apply for DACA, let alone receive it by the federal government. DACA recipients must reapply for DACA status every two years. So, if a DACA recipient becomes a “hardened criminal,” then they would lose their deportation protections.

READ: Supreme Court Hearing Arguments For DACA, Leaning Towards Elimination