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‘No transparency — we pay’: Experts appalled at Secret Service agents paying $650 per night to stay at Trump properties

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A new report from the Washington Post on Friday revealed that Secret Service agents are paying as much as $650 per night to stay at President Donald Trump’s properties, which directly contradicts claims from the Trump family that staying at his resorts saves taxpayers money.

Even though Eric Trump has claimed that the Trump Organization only charges “minimal” fees to the Secret Service for staying at its properties, Secret Service documents reviewed by the Post show that the agency “was charged the $650 rate dozens of times in 2017, and a different rate, $396.15, dozens more times in 2018.”

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The revelations that the Secret Service is being charged high rates to stay at the president’s properties appalled many reporters and experts who have been tracking ethics issues about how the president is using his office to enrich himself.

Andrea Bernstein, the host of WNYC’s “Trump, Inc.” podcast, said that the opaqueness of the president’s travels to his properties gives him the ability to make money at taxpayers’ expense.

“Trump decides which property to visit, and how long,” she writes on Twitter. “There is no transparency on how staffing and spending decisions are made for Secret Service & other staff. We pay.”

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New York Daily News reporter Michael McAuliff notes that the Secret Service documents “dramatically contradict” Eric Trump’s claim that Secret Service agents only get charged $50 per night when staying at Trump properties, whereas they would get charged $500 per night “if they were to go to a hotel across the street.”

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Anand Giridharadas, an editor at Time who has written extensively about economic inequality, expressed horror at the way Trump is making money from his office.

“Donald Trump is asking truck drivers in Pennsylvania to work longer hours so they can pay higher taxes so that those taxes can go to the Secret Service, which can then pay President Trump to stay in his properties while protecting him,” he writes. “This is a de facto Trump tax increase. He is keeping taxes higher than they would otherwise have to be if he wasn’t pocketing your money.”

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And Tiffany Bond, a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Maine, put Trump’s self-enrichment into perspective by comparing its costs to his administration’s efforts to kick people off food stamps.

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“The average SNAP award per participant in Maine in 2018 was $108/month,” she writes. “Each $650/night hotel charge could help 6 Mainers not starve for a month.”


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There’s no respite from Trump’s vindictiveness and foolishness

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As we know, even in the midst of a national emergency, Donald Trump could find time and bandwidth to continue his retribution campaign.

He dismissed Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence agencies, for doing “a terrible job,” satisfying his own thirst for vengeance for anyone who actually adhered to law and practice over blind loyalty to Trump himself. Indeed, asked about it the next day, Trump underscored his action by saying, Atkinson “was no Trump supporter, that I can tell you.”

It was an act that we once would have labeled corruption, by Democrats and Republicans – that is using the office for personal purposes – if Congress and too many Americans had not since become inured by so many like instances.

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This is how Taiwan and South Korea bucked the global lockdown trend

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As the coronavirus pandemic sparks global lockdowns, life has continued comparatively unhindered in places like Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong after their governments and citizens took decisive early action against the unfolding crisis.

At first glance Taiwan looks like an ideal candidate for the coronavirus. The island of 23 million lies just 180 kilometres (110 miles) off mainland China.

Yet nearly 100 days in, Taiwan has just 376 confirmed cases and five fatalities while restaurants, bars, schools, universities and offices remain open.

The government of President Tsai Ing-wen, whose deputy is an epidemiologist, made tough decisions while the crisis was nascent to stave off the kind of pain now convulsing much of the rest of the world.

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Republican ex-lawmaker with coronavirus scolds Wisconsin GOP for forcing voters to risk their health

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On CNN Tuesday, former Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), who is himself dealing with a bout of COVID-19, chastised the Wisconsin GOP for doing everything in their power to block the state elections from being moved — and forcing many voters to stand in line and risk exposure to the virus to cast their ballot.

"I have to tell you, here in Pennsylvania we have a Democratic governor and Republican legislature," Dent told host Don Lemon. "They postponed the election here from April 28 until June 2. Without any controversy. Everybody agreed it was the right thing to do and they moved on. I'm surprised Wisconsin took this risk, knowing they don't have to."

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