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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Influence Update



 In  Defying the Oddswe discuss  Trump's record of ethical laxity The update  -- just published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Dan Friedman at Mother Jones:
After four days of silence, the White House has finally addressed questions about Cindy Yang, the massage parlor owner who sold Chinese business executives access to President Donald Trump and his family at Mar-a-Lago.

“The President doesn’t know this woman,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, told Mother Jones on Tuesday.





Josh Kovensky at TPM:
The founder of a chain of massage and spa parlors that snagged Patriots owner Robert Kraft was apparently also hawking a different line of business: investment immigration.

Li “Cindy” Yang, a 45-year old Florida woman, has found herself in the headlines this past week for hobnobbing with some of the country’s most powerful politicians (including Trump) at Mar-a-Lago, and reportedly charging top Chinese execs for access to elected officials at the Palm Beach club.
TPM found that Yang, through a Florida-based company called GY US Investments LLC, was also using proximity to Trump and his properties to peddle so-called investor visas. Under the EB-5 visa program, foreign citizens can get a conditional two-year U.S. green card in exchange for making certain investments. Mother Jones first reported the existence of GY US Investments.
David Gelles et al. at NYT:
With more countries grounding Boeing jets and with lawmakers, aviation workers and consumers calling on the United States to do the same, the head of the aerospace giant on Tuesday made a personal appeal to President Trump.
Boeing’s chief executive, Dennis A. Muilenburg, called from Chicago and expressed to Mr. Trump his confidence in the safety of the 737 Max 8 jets, according to two people briefed on the conversation. Two of the planes flown by overseas carriers have crashed in recent months in similar accidents.
The brief call had been in the works since Monday, but it came shortly after Mr. Trump raised concerns that the increasing use of technology in airplanes was compromising passenger safety. “Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly,” he wrote on Twitter. “Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT.”
...
Boeing’s relationship with Mr. Trump has not always been smooth, however. Shortly after becoming president-elect, Mr. Trump assailed Boeing for the estimated cost of its program to build new Air Force One planes, which provide mobile command centers for the president.
The “costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter a month after winning the election, but before taking office. A couple of weeks later, Mr. Muilenburg visited Mr. Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., to try to smooth things over.
“It was a terrific conversation,” Mr. Muilenburg told reporters after the meeting, explaining that he had given Mr. Trump “my personal commitment” that Boeing would build new Air Force One planes for less than the $4 billion estimate. Weeks after the conversation, Boeing donated $1 million to Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee. The company had donated the same amount to help finance President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2013. 
Dan Diamond at Politico:
The White House's proposed budget includes funding for a small children's health program sought by one of President Donald Trump's golfing buddies: Jack Nicklaus.
Under the administration's fiscal 2020 funding plan released Monday, HHS would steer $20 million toward a mobile children's hospital project at Miami's Nicklaus Children's Hospital, named for the legendary golfer.

Nicklaus had lobbied Trump on the golf course in Florida, and he met with HHS Secretary Alex Azar and then-OMB Director Mick Mulvaney in Washington, D.C., to request funds, say two individuals with knowledge. Trump personally directed HHS to earmark the funds to help Nicklaus develop mobile children's hospitals, one individual said.