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BUSTED: Emails reveal Melania friend who planned inauguration ripped officials over sketchy money practices

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A friend of Melania Trump’s who planned the president’s inauguration flagged multiple financial and conflict of interest issues when working on the events — and was ignored.

Vanity Fair‘s Emily Jane Fox reported Thursday that Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former Vogue staffer and New York City event planner, was brought on to plan Donald Trump’s inauguration just days after he was elected president. She had no idea what was in store for her.

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According to people familiar with recordings made by former Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen, Wolkoff can be heard telling the president’s longtime attorney during conversations last summer that she had many concerns with the process that unfolded.

Those recordings, Cohen told the event planner, were later seized by the FBI — and led in part to the SDNY’s investigation into the inauguration that Wolkoff is now involved in.

Wolkoff, the report noted, eventually raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest that could stem from the Trump family businesses’ involvement in the planning — as well as those surrounding deputy inauguration chairman Rick Gates and Tom Barrack, the longtime Trump friend who served as the inaugural chair.

Gates, Fox wrote, “approached a couple individuals working on the inauguration and asked if they would be willing to be paid directly for their work by a donor, rather than by the inaugural committee.”

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“They had received more donations than they’d initially anticipated, Gates told these people,” the report noted. “Skirting the usual payment route could allow the inaugural committee to avoid reporting the full amount raised from donors.”

Wolkoff reportedly raised concerns about the deputy chair with the First Lady, expressing her view that “he exacerbated a situation already fraught with potential conflicts of interest.”

She also questioned Gates and Barrack directly about budget issues, people familiar with the conversations told Vanity Fair — and found she was being left out of meetings soon after.

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“Because part of her responsibilities included reviewing all budgets from her vendors and presenting them to other members of the inaugural committee, she studied the line items in order to be able to explain them,” Fox wrote. “At points, she could not justify the numbers coming in. After circulation of a quote from one of their largest event-production vendors, Hargrove LLC, Wolkoff was shocked that no one in the organization appeared willing to question the figures.”

In an email to Barrack and her staff on December 31, 2016, Wolkoff made her displeasure known.

“I am DISGUSTED by [Hargrove’s] lack of transparency and entitlement to [the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s] funding,” she wrote. “I can not approve any budget line items because I do not have a clue what these numbers represent!!”

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She was particularly concerned about Barrack’s “chairman’s dinner,” which took up ample attention and money, the report noted. Along with Cohen, former RNC finance chairman Elliott Broidy and disgraced Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, invitees included seven “foreign ministers” for Saudi Arabia, one from Qatar and one from the United Arab Emirates.

 

 

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Trump responds to China raising tariffs — by raising tariffs on over half a trillion dollars in Chinese goods

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After US markets tanked on Friday, President Donald Trump dramatically escalated his trade war with China.

"For many years China (and many other countries) has been taking advantage of the United States on trade, intellectual property theft, and much more. Our country has been losing hundreds of billions of dollars a year to China, with no end in sight," Trump tweeted.

"Sadly, past Administrations have allowed China to get so far ahead of fair and balanced trade that it has become a great burden to the American taxpayer. As President, I can no longer allow this to happen," he argued.

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MSNBC anchor blasts Trump’s ‘lunacy’ after ‘a Twitter tirade that sent the Dow spiraling’

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The New York Stock Exchange closed down over 600 points on Friday as President Donald Trump's trade war with China escalated.

MSNBC anchor John Heilemann said, "we’re hours away for the president taking off to the G7 summit in Bairritz, France, where allies are bracing for the Trump-fueled mayhem that is now 100% certain to ensue, with Trump like a drunken traveler in the departure lounge about to take a trip that he dreads, already sewing global chaos, days-long public meltdown typically moved from words to actions."

"Donald Trump beginning this day with a Twitter tirade that sent the Dow spiraling, closing down more than 600 points today and escalating his trade war with China with these norm-shattering, power-abusing words in this tweet," he said, putting the tweet on-screen.

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‘Making things worse’: National Farmer’s Union chief unloads on Trump in blistering statement on trade war

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Roger Johnson, the president of the National Farmers Union, delivered a blistering rebuke to President Donald Trump after he responded to new tariffs from China by issuing a purported "order" telling American companies to look for alternative places to manufacture their goods.

In an official statement, Johnson pointed out that farmers so far have felt the brunt of the president's trade war, as China has slapped heavy tariffs on key agricultural products such as soybeans.

He also crushed the president for failing to make any progress on reopening the Chinese market to American goods.

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