Donald Trump’s media empire may actually be happening

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner reportedly approached a major media investor about setting up a Trump television network after the presidential election.

Over the past couple of months, Kushner, who is married to Ivanka Trump, has met with Aryeh Bourkoff, the CEO of a boutique investment bank known as LionTree, theFinancial Times reported Monday. Vanity Fair reported in June that Trump’s inner circle heard the Republican nominee mulling the idea of capitalizing on the “audience” that has grown around his campaign. Hiring former Breitbart News head as his campaign CEO Steve Bannon could, in the long run, be a first step in making a media company, especially if you consider that Trump’s other big-name advisor is former Fox CEO Roger Ailes.

The basic concept is that Trump’s media company would cater to the alt-right and other conservatives dissatisfied with more conventional right-wing media. Kushner already owns a pro-Trump newspaper, The New York Observer, in which Kushner haspublicly defended Trump in the past. Kushner has emerged as an influential adviser for the embattled Trump, and was responsible for the campaign’s attempt to seat the women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct in the Trump family box at the last presidential debate.

Donald Trump severs ties with Ohio GOP chair, then attacks him in letter to press

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

Donald Trump has severed ties with the chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, deepening his rift with the party organization in a state he desperately needs, at a time he can ill afford to lose it.

In a letter announcing the decision to disassociate with Ohio GOP chair Matt Borges, the Trump campaign said that Borges was conducting “a self-promotional” media tour. The press release described him as “disgraceful” and “bizarre,” and called Borges’ actions an act of “duplicity.”

“It’s no great secret that Chairman Borges was never fully on board,” the letter argued, “but his actions over the last week demonstrate that his loyalties to Governor John Kasich’s failed Presidential campaign eclipse his responsibility as Chairman of the Ohio Republican Party.”

Trump was likely irked by the protection of Kasich, the former presidential candidate who has refused to endorse the Republican nominee.

Borges had previously criticized the Trump campaign’s tactics and the candidate’s personal conduct. ( Among other things, Borges described Trump’s campaign by saying, “I still think it’s on life support,” while his wife publicly joked (in reference to Trump’s “locker-room talk”) that “Trump was so bad, he made the dog throw up.”

Borges had previously pledged to help candidates both up and down ballot (meaning national candidates like Trump as well as local candidates), although the status of the Ohio Republican Party’s relationship with the Trump campaign is currently uncertain. This could pose a serious problem for Trump, who less than a month ago was considered very competitive in the swing state. FiveThirtyEight now only gives him a 34.5 percent chance of winning there.

No Republican has ever won the presidency without picking up Ohio’s electoral votes. The state is regarded as one of four “must-win” states for Trump in next month’s election, along with Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida. Yet Trump has a sparseget out the vote operation in Ohio, which has already put him in a vulnerable position. That precarious status has only been compounded by his fraught relationship with established Republican leaders in the state.

Colorado teen kills self as sign of Nazi allegiance: “I have crippling depression but I shall cure it by killing Jews”

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

The suicide of a Colorado teenager has been linked to a Nazi-themed Facebook group that the young man apparently led.

The teenager apparently believed that killing himself would “show his allegiance to the Nazi Party and the killing of Jewish people,” according to local law enforcement officials. The theory stems from a message he wrote shortly before his death, proclaiming, “I have crippling depression but I shall cure it by killing Jews.”f

The Facebook group itself was called “4th Reich’s Official Group Chat” and engaged indiscussions ranging from plans for “executing n***ers” to poems like “You can hang Jews on trees, shoot them right in the knees. Gas as many as you please.”

Republican Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has been heavily criticized forinspiring an increase in the number of hate groups throughout the country. Ideologically, Trump seems to draw heavily from an offshoot of modern conservatism, the alt-right, whose adherents believe that their “white identity” is under attack from the forces of political correctness — something that Trump often attacks.

Trump’s candidacy has also had an observable impact on America’s youth, with an increase in racial or religious bullying as well as normalizing racist ideas that were formerly considered unacceptable.

Two responses to tragedy: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton respond to North Carolina firebombing

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

Democrats raised more than $13,000 in less than four hours to help rebuild the headquarters of the local Republican Party chapter in Hillsborough, North Carolina, which was firebombed on Sunday night in what is being investigated as a possible terrorist incident.

As news of the firebombing spread, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton condemned the attack on Twitter and expressed support for its victims.

The attack on the Orange County HQ @NCGOP office is horrific and unacceptable. Very grateful that everyone is safe.

The North Carolina Republican Party sent out an official response thanking her for her thoughts and prayers.

The attack on the Orange County HQ @NCGOP office is horrific and unacceptable. Very grateful that everyone is safe.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, on the other hand, referred to the perpetrators as “animals” and suggested that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party had been somehow linked to the vandalism.

Animals representing Hillary Clinton and Dems in North Carolina just firebombed our office in Orange County because we are winning @NCGOP

The North Carolina Republican Party didn’t respond to Trump’s incendiary tweet, although it thanked him after he sent out a more subdued follow-up.

ALL SAFE IN ORANGE COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA. With you all the way, will never forget. Now we have to win. Proud of you all!@NCGOP

Thank you Mr. @realDonaldTrump. We will not be silenced nor suppressed by this evil act. We will pray for those who seek to harm us.

Trump’s comment has been heavily criticized by many individuals in the press, with Jeff Stein of Vox characterizing it as part and parcel of the Republican candidate’s “increasing conspiratorial claims that a cabal of ‘global elites’ is rigging the election.”

Two more women say Donald Trump sexually assaulted them: “It was very random, very nonchalant”

Published: Salon (October 14, 2016)

On Friday, two more women accused Donald Trump of sexually assaulting them, joining a list that has grown and grown since he told Anderson Cooper that he never sexually assaulted any woman during Sunday’s debate.

Photographer Kristin Anderson claimed that, when she was a model in the early 1990s, Trump sat next to her on a red velvet couch at a Manhattan nightclub and touched her vagina through her underwear. She said that, when she turned to see who had touched her, she immediately recognized Trump because “he was so distinctive looking — with the hair and the eyebrows. I mean, nobody else has those eyebrows.”

Anderson’s story was confirmed by a friend who remembered being told about it a few days after the fact and by a fellow photographer who recalled hearing the story at a dinner in March 2007.

The Trump campaign denied Anderson’s claim. In a “Mr. Trump strongly denies this phony allegation by someone looking to get some free publicity. It is totally ridiculous.”

Anderson made it clear to The Washington Post that she doesn’t have any political axe to grind and supports neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton in this election. Instead she came forward after reading a recent article from The New York Times that detailed other sexual assault allegations made against Trump. “It’s a sexual assault issue, and it’s something that I’ve kept quiet on my own,” Anderson said to the paper. “And I’ve always kept quiet. And why should I keep quiet? Actually, all of the women should speak up, and if you’re touched inappropriately, tell somebody and speak up about it. Actually go to the authorities and press some charges. It’s not okay.”

Former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos also came forward Friday during a press conference that was carried live by MSNBC.

Zervos recalled a torturous evening in 2007 with Mr. Trump at a Los Angeles bungalow: “He put me in an embrace and I tried to push him away. I pushed his chest to put space between us and I said, ‘Come on man, get real.’ He repeated my words back to me, ‘Get real,’ as he began thrusting his genitals.”

Armed Donald Trump supporters caught menacing Democratic campaign office

Published: Salon (October 14, 2016)

Donald Trump supporters have talked about violence if the Republican candidate loses to Hillary Clinton next month. And now, some of them are starting to put their money where their mouths are.

A pro-Donald Trump protester has attracted attention for standing alone outside a Virginia Democratic campaign office with his gun.

On Thursday, Daniel Parks stood outside a Palmyra campaign office for congressional candidate Jane Dittmar. Witnesses described him as staring directly into the office all day and turning sideways to expose his gun he was legally carrying. He was eventually joined by another protester, who was also armed.

The story is part of a larger trend of implied violence being used by Trump supporters. On Friday, Ed Mazza of The Huffington Post discussed how “members of the press are often the target of jeering by unruly crowds that are egged on by the candidate himself.” On Tuesday, a woman named Rhonda warned Mike Pence that she was “ready for a revolution” if Clinton wins instead of Trump, particularly since she can’t imagine “crooked” Hillary winning without cheating. Similarly, back in September Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (who supports Trump) rhetorically asked “Whose blood will be shed?” if Clinton wins and Trump supporters are forced “ to redeem something, to reclaim something, that we through our apathy and our indifference have given away.”

All of these comments echo an observation made by Trump adviser Roger Stone back in August, when he predicted that Clinton would “fix” the election and warned that Trump was going to “put them on notice that their inauguration will be a rhetorical, and when I mean civil disobedience, not violence, but it will be a bloodbath.” Indeed, Trump has called for violence so often in his campaign that Mashable was able to compile a list of nine incidents dating back to March. There have also been a number of violent incidents, with the most recent occurring last month when a woman punched an anti-Trump protester while the candidate skewered Clinton for referring to his backers as “deplorables.”

Trump has recently asked poll watchers to watch “certain areas” as he’s convinced his supporters that he’ll only lose if there’s widespread fraud.

Donald Trump’s Utah nightmare: Why Evan McMullin could give the deep red state to Hillary Clinton

Published: Salon (October 14, 2016)

Thanks to Donald Trump’s recent spiral into insanity, as well as little-known third-party candidate Evan McMullin, Utah — a firmly Republican state once thought to be a lock for the Republican nominee — may be closer than once thought. It might not even be a safe state for the GOP.

Although it’s still possible that Trump will squeak through with a win in Utah, it is also quite plausible that Hillary Clinton could win because of McMullin splitting the traditionally Republican vote, which would make it the first time a Democratic candidate won the state since 1964. As Benjamin Morris explained at FiveThirtyEight, McMullin is polling incredibly well in Utah, garnering 22 percent of the vote — a 10-point jump from where he was a month ago. Hillary Clinton and Trump, meanwhile, are tied with 26 percent; Gary Johnson is earning 14 percent in the polls.

Nationally, McMullin is virtually unknown and appears on ballots in only 11 states. After the release of Trump’s infamous conversation with Billy Bush, however, McMullin’s stock among Mormons as a conservative alternative to the Republican nominee has taken off. Trump has already lost two of the state’s biggest newspapers, with the Deseret News calling on Trump to quit the race despite having not endorsed a presidential candidate in 80 years. The Salt Lake Tribune, which endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, urged Utah Republicans to vote for Clinton, and “send a strong message to the Republican Party to turn their backs on Trumpism and to work with Clinton where they can, rather than devote themselves to blocking her every move.”

All of these developments are especially notable because, prior to Trump’s nomination, Utah had been drifting farther and farther to the right. Although it gave its largest share of votes to Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984, its third-largest share went to Mitt Romney in 2012. While that may have been partially attributable to Romney’s Mormonism, trend lines indicate that Utah had been in the process ofbecoming more Republican compared to the rest of the country since the 1980s. This means that the rejection of Trump is not due to any major shift in Utahns’ political ideology, but rather to a personal distaste for Trump himself.

And what about Evan McMullin? McMullin is a former CIA operations officer who later became chief policy director for the House Republican Conference. He is also Mormon himself, having been born in Utah and served as a Mormon missionary in Brazil. McMullin particularly emphasizes foreign policy in his campaign, as demonstrated by a recent interview with CNN in which he offered in-depth analysisabout Middle Eastern geopolitics, and has repeatedly visited the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia during his work with both the United Nations and the CIA. His running mate, Mindy Finn, is best known for running the nonprofit Empower Women and has cited her Jewish background as part of the reason why Trump’s candidacy makes her feel “afraid.”

For what it’s worth, an upset Utah victory for Clinton isn’t the only possible outcome here. Morris has also suggested that there could even be an unlikely path for McMullen to go to the White House. “1. Win Utah, 2. Deadlock the Electoral College, 3. Win in the House,” Morris explained, adding that, because Mormon Utahns have very strong negative feelings against Trump but tend to be staunchly conservative, McMullin could serve as a way out for voters in the state who can’t stomach either Clinton or Trump.

Donald Trump: Sexual assault allegations are part of a Mexican billionaire’s conspiracy with The New York Times

Published: Salon (October 14, 2016)

Donald Trump is now attacking The New York Times for covering sexual assault allegations against him by bringing up the name of the “foreigner” who “rescued” the newspaper: a Mexican billionaire.

Carlos Slim is one of the world’s richest men. Last December  he was ranked fifth on Forbes’ list. Slim became the largest single investor in the Times in January 2015, when he exercised warrants that more than doubled his stake in the publishing company.

Slim and Trump have locked horns before. When Trump launched his presidential campaign with comments that suggested undocumented Mexican immigrants are more likely to be rapists, Slim cancelled a television project that one of his companies had been working on with Trump. One of Slim’s spokespeople characterized the comments as racist, while The Washington Post thoroughly debunked Trump’s claims.

Although there is no evidence that Slim’s motives were anything other than financial, Trump has a history of bringing up the ethnic background of powerful Mexicans and Mexican-Americans whom he views as threats. In June he accused U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel — who will preside over a fraud case against Trump University — of having an “absolute conflict” because of his “Mexican heritage.” Trump has even gotten into trouble with members of the Hispanic community when he has tried to praise them, such as his controversial tweet in May proclaiming, “I love Hispanics!” while eating a taco salad (a hybrid dish probably invented in the States).

On Friday morning, Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, said that there will “be more evidence” coming out which would “call into question” the allegations.

Pence: “Before the day is out there will be more evidence that calls into question these [sexual assault] allegations.”