May 19, 2020

National Guard members tasked with lending states a hand during the coronavirus pandemic will see their deployments end June 24, just one day before many would become eligible for key federal retirement and education benefits, Politico reports.

Politico obtained audio of an interagency call in May which outlined the Trump administration's plans for the National Guard and it was acknowledged that thousands of members deployed in March would tally 89 days of service meaning they would fall one day short of the 90-day threshold for reducing their pension qualification age and earning 40 percent tuition discounts at public colleges and universities under the GI Bill.

"It seemed kind of weird to me," said retired Brig. Gen. J. Joy Robinson, president of the National Guard Association. "It's a Wednesday. And it also coincides with 89 days of deployment for any soldiers who went on federal status at the beginning. I was getting all kinds of calls about it and I said, 'It's probably just a coincidence.' But in the back of my mind, I know better. They're screwing the National Guard members out of the status they should have."

The National Guard's Hall pushed back on that notion, pointing out that benefits are cumulative, so members can potentially qualify for those benefits during later deployments. A National Guard spokesman also said it's possible a decision to extend the deployments could still come in the weeks ahead. Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

November 29, 2017

The apparent conservative activist The Washington Post busted Monday trying to spread a fake story about an underage affair with Roy Moore, the GOP Senate nominee in Alabama, rented a room in the Washington, D.C., basement of former Democratic National Committee communications director Brad Woodhouse for two weeks over the summer, Woodhouse told the Post Tuesday night. "I was stunned," he said, after recognizing the woman, Jaime Phillips, from the Post's report. "It took a little while to sink in and then it was like, 'Really? Are you kidding me?'"

Woodhouse showed the Post a record of Phillips' two-week Airbnb booking at his apartment, and said she also spent a week in a second Capitol Hill property he owns. Project Veritas founder and figurehead James O'Keefe — who is giving a talk Wednesday night at Southern Methodist University on "Real News: Stopping Bias in American Media" — declined to comment on whether he had asked Phillips to rent a room from Woodhouse, who led an organization targeted by O'Keefe last fall. But Woodhouse has his suspicions.

"That he had one of his operatives stay in properties of mine less than a year after he targeted me in one of his discredited scams seems hardly coincidental," Woodhouse said. Still, he did not recall Phillips asking any particularly intrusive questions. So maybe she just needed a place to stay while she prepared to "combat the lies and deceit of the liberal MSM," as she'd written in a GoFundMe drive a few months earlier. Peter Weber

June 14, 2017

The Chinese government's recent decision to reverse its rejection of nine Trump trademarks has raised eyebrows, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. China granted preliminary approval to the trademarks just weeks after initially rejecting them, and intellectual property attorney Matthew Dresden told AP that the appeals were decided at a speed that's "mind-blowing." "I have never seen any decisions made that quickly. That suggests special treatment," Dresden said, while acknowledging his observations were "just procedural" and that "substantively, it's impossible to say whether any of this is unusual."

Public records did not offer reasons for the initial rejections or for the reversal. Even before The Associated Press reported on the reversals, trademarks had been raised as a potential conflict-of-interest issue in the debate over President Trump's decision to maintain ownership over his business empire while he's in office. AP explained that "trademarks lie at the heart of these complaints because they are granted by foreign states and can be enormously valuable — whether they are intended as groundwork for future business activity or defensive measures to protect a brand from squatters."

Including these nine provisional approvals, China has now granted the Trump family business 39 official registrations since Trump took office in January. First daughter Ivanka Trump's brand has gotten provisional approval on "at least seven new trademarks since she took on an official role at the White House," AP reported.

Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten has maintained the company has not used the president's influence to sway Chinese trademark officials. Read more on the story at The Associated Press. Becca Stanek

May 16, 2017

Moments after The New York Times reported Tuesday evening that President Trump apparently urged fired FBI Director James Comey to close the investigation into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) noted a foreboding topic of conversation among lawmakers leaving the Senate floor:

The New York Times reported that Trump's request to Comey — whom he abruptly fired a week ago — came just one day after Flynn resigned over misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his conversation with a Russian ambassador. Comey apparently wrote a memo about this particular conversation with Trump, including the fact that Trump had pushed Comey to "let this go" because Flynn "is a good guy."

Comey created a "paper trail" of his interactions with Trump, the Times adds, to document "what he perceived as the president's improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation." The White House denies Trump asked Comey to halt the investigation. Becca Stanek

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