Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross didn't divest from foreign companies until a reporter found out he broke his promise
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told the Office of Government Ethics that he had divested from foreign companies, then kept his holdings for months, a Forbes investigation published Monday found.
Ross kept his stakes in a company co-owned by the Chinese government, a shipping firm linked to the Kremlin, and a Cyprus bank that is entangled in the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He pledged to rid himself of all possible conflicts of interest, but he and his family continued to do business with foreign companies affected by Ross' decisions as a government official.
After Forbes contacted him asking about his holdings, Ross said through a spokesperson that his financial disclosures would soon more accurately reflect his holdings. Soon after Ross learned that damaging stories would be published in the fall, the commerce secretary shorted stock in the Kremlin-linked company, setting himself up for more profit.
"The secretary did not lie," said the spokesperson, emphasizing that Ross did eventually divest. However, Forbes reports that Ross may have broken one policy by misrepresenting his finances in a sworn statement. He has reportedly amended that statement since then. Read more about Ross' tangled financial web at Forbes. Summer Meza
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long will not be fired for his inappropriate use of cars owned by the government, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Friday.
Long used federal vehicles and personnel for his weekend commutes from Washington, D.C., to North Carolina. He had a driver take him home, and reportedly brought aides with him, housing them in hotels using taxpayer money. He was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general.
Nielsen said Long, who will repay the government an undisclosed amount, was acting in line with a longstanding but unofficial FEMA practice intended to keep the administrator accessible in case of crisis. That practice has now been discontinued.
"We had a productive conversation where we discussed my expectations regarding the agency's use of government vehicles going forward," Nielsen's statement said. "The administrator acknowledged that mistakes were made, and he took personal responsibility." Bonnie Kristian
China on Friday canceled scheduled trade negotiations with the United States, citing the Trump administration's tariff escalations. President Trump announced a new round of tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports Monday and is expected to target another $257 billion in products this coming week.
"Nothing the U.S. has done has given any impression of sincerity and goodwill," said Chinese Foreign Ministry representative Geng Shuang. "We hope that the U.S. side will take measures to correct its mistakes."
China also slammed new U.S. sanctions punishing Beijing for purchasing weapons from Russia. "The U.S. approach is a blatant violation of the basic norms of international relations, a full manifestation of hegemony, and a serious breach of the relations between the two countries and their two militaries," said a Chinese Defense Ministry statement promising "consequences." Bonnie Kristian
President Trump seemed to respond Friday night at a rally in Missouri to the day's report that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein considered invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from the Oval Office.
"Just look at what is now being exposed in our Department of Justice and the FBI. Look at what's going on," Trump said, never mentioning Rosenstein by name. "And I want to tell you, we have great people in the Department of Justice. We have great people. These are people, I really believe, you take a poll, I gotta be at 95 percent. But you got some real bad ones. You've seen what's happened at the FBI. They're all gone. They're all gone. They're all gone. But there's a lingering stench, and we're going to get rid of that too."
President Trump takes aim at the DOJ & FBI: “There’s a lingering stench and we’re going to get rid of that” pic.twitter.com/K4NfxQTDLG
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) September 22, 2018
Trump also again weighed in on the sexual assault allegation against his Supreme Court nominee. Brett Kavanaugh is a "fantastic man" who was "born for the U.S. Supreme Court," the president said, promising his audience the confirmation would go through. "We have to fight for him, not worry about the other side," Trump said. "And by the way, women are for that more than anybody would understand."
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll published Thursday found a plurality of Americans now oppose Kavanaugh's nomination, and his rising unpopularity is significantly due to shifting attitudes among women since the allegation came to light. Bonnie Kristian
At least 24 people were killed and more than 50 injured Saturday when gunmen opened fire on a military parade in the Iranian city of Ahvaz, state media reported. Civilians, including children and members of the press, were reportedly among the dead.
"Terrorists began shooting from a long distance while inside the park, at the armed forces as well as civilians watching the parade," said Brig. Gen. Abolfazl Shekarch. Three of the attackers were killed and one was arrested, and the attack was claimed by the Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement, a separatist organization.
Officials said the shooters were disguised as military members and accused Saudi Arabia of connection to the attack. "Terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime have attacked Ahvaz. Children and journos among casualties," tweeted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. "Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable for such attacks." Saudi Arabia has not responded to the allegation. Bonnie Kristian
Christine Ford has an extra day to decide if she'll testify for the Senate about her Kavanaugh allegation
Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) granted an extension late Friday for Christine Ford to decide whether to testify about her sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Grassley announced his choice with a series of tweets, sometimes addressing Ford or Kavanaugh directly:
Five times now we hv granted extension for Dr Ford to decide if she wants to proceed w her desire stated one wk ago that she wants to tell senate her story Dr Ford if u changed ur mind say so so we can move on I want to hear ur testimony. Come to us or we to u
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) September 22, 2018
Judge Kavanaugh I just granted another extension to Dr Ford to decide if she wants to proceed w the statement she made last week to testify to the senate She shld decide so we can move on I want to hear her. I hope u understand. It’s not my normal approach to b indecisive
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) September 22, 2018
With all the extensions we give Dr Ford to decide if she still wants to testify to the Senate I feel like I’m playing 2nd trombone in the judiciary orchestra and Schumer is the conductor
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) September 22, 2018
The previous deadline, already an extension, was Friday at 10 p.m. Eastern. Ford's attorney asked for an additional day, labeling this a "modest request" to correct the Judiciary Committee's "cavalier treatment of a sexual assault survivor who has been doing her best to cooperate" with the Senate. Bonnie Kristian
"Let the wild rumpus start" — on stage.
The 1963 picture book Where the Wild Things Are is being adapted for an off-Broadway play, The Hollywood Reporter revealed Friday.
The classic Maurice Sendak book follows a character named Max as he ventures to a wild jungle after being sent to bed without supper. He meets wild beasts, befriends them, becomes king, enjoys a quick rumpus with his new Wild Thing pals, then heads back to his bedroom. The book was previously adapted into a 2009 live action film directed by Spike Jonze.
Though Sendak died in 2012, the Maurice Sendak Foundation is commissioning the new play for development by New York's New Victory Theater. There's no set date for the production yet, but Sendak's friend and collaborator Arthur Yorinks has joined the project to adapt the script. Read more at The Hollywood Reporter. Summer Meza
Andrew McCabe claimed Rod Rosenstein wanted to invoke the 25th Amendment. But that account is in dispute.
Sources told The New York Times on Friday that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed in meetings the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment to declare President Trump unfit to serve and remove him from office, and that he proposed wearing a wire to secretly record Trump. But how the conversation really played out is unclear.
These conversations were reportedly documented in memos written by former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and other sources told the Times that Rosenstein followed up on the suggestions later. The Washington Post reports that McCabe's memos detailed conversations about a wire and the 25th Amendment that both occurred at the same meeting, shortly after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey. But one person who was at the meeting told the Post that the 25th Amendment was not discussed, in addition to confirming that Rosenstein mentioned wearing a wire "sarcastically." The source says a wire was only brought up because of McCabe's needling for further investigation into Trump, not because of Rosenstein's interest in actually doing so. It was "a sarcastic comment along the lines of, 'What do you want to do, Andy, wire the president?'" per the Post.
Another source told the Post that McCabe had previously claimed in private that Rosenstein suggested invoking the 25th Amendment. Rosenstein has denied the Times report, calling it "inaccurate and factually incorrect."
McCabe's attorney told ABC News in a statement that the former acting FBI director "drafted memos to memorialize significant discussions he had with high level officials ... When he was interviewed by the special counsel more than a year ago, he gave all of his memos — classified and unclassified — to the special counsel's office. A set of those memos remained at the FBI at the time of his departure in late January 2018. He has no knowledge of how any member of the media obtained those memos." Summer Meza