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Businessman tells conservative publication he helped Saudis make millions in illegal donations to Trump campaign

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Andy Khawaja, a Lebanese-American businessman, is making some wild claims to the conservative Spectator publication that he helped Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates illegally funnel millions of dollars to President Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016.

In an interview with Spectator’s Paul Wood, Khawaja claims that he sold technology to political operative George Nader that helped him conceal millions of dollars’ worth of donations from Saudi Arabia and UAE as small contributions made by American citizens.

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“He says that to keep it secret, they disguised the money as small donations from Americans, using stolen identities and ‘virtual credit cards’ or gift cards — donations of less than $200 do not have to be reported to the Federal Election Commission and made public,” Wood writes. “He claims the Saudis and the Emiratis were able to make thousands of such small donations at a time using the latest payment processing technology.”

Khawaja tells Wood that Nader regularly boasted to him about how Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Russia were all in on helping Trump become president — and that Nader even sent Wood photos of himself posing with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman as proof of his access to major world leaders.

Wood urges caution about accepting Khawaja’s claims at face value, however, and notes that both Nader and Khawaja were actually indicted by the Department of Justice for making illegal straw donations to Hillary Clinton during her presidential run against Trump. Nader earlier this year also pleaded guilty to bringing an underage boy into the United States for sex and to possessing child pornography.

Nonetheless, Wood cites two additional witnesses who have corroborated Khawaja’s basic account of Nader seeking to help UAE use payment technology to illegally funnel money into Trump’s campaign.

Read the entire report here.

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Trump administration quietly guts COVID-19 paid leave provision that already excluded 75 percent of workers

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The Trump administration has quietly issued new guidance that will exempt many small businesses from having to provide some workers with paid leave during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Labor issued a temporary rule Wednesday that effectively exempted businesses with fewer than 50 workers from being required to provide 12 weeks of paid leave for workers whose children are suddenly at home from school or child care under the coronavirus stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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Trump is deploying national guardsman to provide pandemic support without any health benefits: report

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The National Guard are an essential part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and thousands of them have potentially been exposed to infected civilians, making it a particularly dangerous and important time to serve.

But according to The Daily Beast, the guard has been deployed in a way that prevents them from being eligible for the military's health care system.

"The approximately 20,000 guardsmen who have been called up to help states around the country deal with the spread of the coronavirus are federalized on what’s called Title 32 status, which puts them in command of their various state governors but with the federal government paying costs," wrote senior national security correspondent Spencer Ackerman. "But according to the National Guard’s advocates and the U.S. governors’ association, the guardsmen are activated on orders that last 30 days. That puts them one single day shy of the requirement allowing the military health insurance system known as TRICARE — think of it as Medicare For All In Uniform — to cover them."

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Vaccine researchers grew ‘alarmed’ as Trump’s CDC wasted weeks of their time with a flawed coronavirus test: report

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According to a report from the Washington Post, in the early days as health officials became concerned about the possibility of the COVID-19 pandemic blossoming out of China, researchers sat and wasted days they could have used to start developing a vaccine because they were assured by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that a testing kit was on its way.

As it turned out, that test was flawed.

Relying on emails and interviews, the Post is reporting, "On a Jan. 15 conference call, a leading scientist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured local and state public health officials from across the nation that there would soon be a test to detect a mysterious virus spreading from China. Stephen Lindstrom told them the threat was remote and they may not need the test his team was developing 'unless the scope gets much larger than we anticipate,' according to an email summarizing the call."

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