Ethan Miller/Getty

Trump’s reliance on his own businesses is unprecedented in presidential campaigns. It could be a nightmare if he wins.

Back in August, The Wall Street Journal reported that nearly 20 percent of the $90 million the Trump campaign had spent through July had  gone to Donald Trump, his children, or to Trump-owned businesses. On Thursday, Politico dug into the numbers and found that the Trump campaign had paid businesses owned by the candidate $8.2 million. 

As Politico notes, this is unprecedented. “Even the wealthiest of candidates have refrained from tapping their businesses’ resources to such an extensive degree, either because their businesses are structured in a manner that doesn’t legally allow them to do it with flexibility, or because they’re leery of the allegations of pocket-padding that inevitably arise when politicians use their campaigns or committees to pay their businesses or families.” And yet, as he has done repeatedly throughout the campaign, Trump has simply brushed off corruption allegations. In fact, Trump has repeatedly used the campaign to market his businesses

Some have argued that Trump is running a “scampaign,” and trying to make money while running for president. (Back in 2000, he told Fortune“It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.”) Similarly, many believe that, if he loses, Trump will start his own media company to attempt to profit off of his supporters. But Trump forgave a $50 million loan to his campaign in July. The problem, for the moment at least, isn’t that Trump is making money running for president, it’s what this behavior portends for a Trump presidency. 

If Trump wins, his reliance on his own businesses would be an ethical nightmare. Trump’s reliance on his own businesses has been a campaign strategy in and of itself: He uses them to brand himself as a successful businessman and all-around rich person. There’s no reason to suspect that would change if Trump were elected. The only difference is that the money would be coming from taxpayers, not donors. And that’s not even getting into the tangled morass that is the Trump Foundation. 

September 30, 2016

Watch Donald Trump’s much-anticipated videotaped deposition.

A Washington, D.C., judge released the tapes on Monday of Trump and his son Donald Trump, Jr., which were recorded after they sued people who backed out of agreements to operate a restaurant in Trump’s recently opened D.C. hotel following his racist remarks about Mexicans. The video was acquired by BuzzFeed, which filed multiple motions to get it, and a transcript was also released. You can watch both parts of the deposition and read the transcript at BuzzFeed. Part one of the video deposition is below.

Getty/Dondi Tawatao

Rodrigo Duterte wants to kill three million drug addicts because ... Hitler?

Even before Duterte assumed the highest office in the Philippines, his hardline rhetoric on drug addicts and his link to so-called “death squads” in the city of Davao, where he served as mayor, alarmed human rights advocates at home and in the international community. Since his inauguration, his promised war on drugs has been even bloodier than expected, with about 3,000 killed without trial by police and vigilantes in highly publicized street-style executions.

On Friday, Duterte lashed back at his international critics, including the European Union and the United Nations, who he said had unfairly likened him to “a cousin of Hitler.” However, just a few minutes later, he himself seemed to accept the parallel to the Nazi leader, saying, “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there’s three million drug addicts. ... I’d be happy to slaughter them.” Doing so, he added, would “finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition.” (His oft-cited “three million drug addicts” number is not confirmed by the Philippines agency tasked with tracking illegal drug use; they estimate 1.8 million.)

Unfortunately, this is just the latest outrageous statement Duterte has made in response to his international critics. His domestic opponents, meanwhile, have not been any more successful in stemming the tide of extrajudicial killings. A little over a week ago, his main Philippine challenger, Senator Leila de Lima, was removed from her leadership on the justice committee, where she had launched several investigations into the killings. So far, it is clear that censure has only served to incite Duterte further, which is apparent in his latest comments about Hitler.


Endorsing Gary Johnson is not an option.

Two days after The Arizona Republic endorsed a Democrat for the first time in a century, The Chicago Tribune is also getting in on the action. On Friday, the paper, which usually endorses Republicans but endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, endorsed Johnson of the Libertarian Party as a “principled” option for president.

“We would rather recommend a principled candidate for president—regardless of his or her prospects for victory—than suggest that voters cast ballots for such disappointing major-party candidates,” writes the Tribune’s editorial board. This presents Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as equally flawed candidates, and that is not true.

“We offer this endorsement to encourage voters who want to feel comfortable with their choice,” the endorsement continues. “Who want to vote for someone they can admire.” That all sounds great, except Gary Johnson is not that person. Gary Johnson is a spandex-wearing oaf who can’t name a foreign leader and doesn’t know where Aleppo is on the map. He is not fit to be president either. Furthermore, principles don’t really matter when voting for Johnson increases the chances of victory for Trump, who stands in opposition to those principles.

If you’re a Republican-leaning newspaper that cannot bring itself to endorse Trump, then do the responsible thing and endorse Clinton.

Donald Trump would like his aides to please shut the hell up about the debate.

It’s fairly common in politics for aides to use the press to try to send messages to their candidate. After Trump’s disastrous debate performance, aides publicly and privately made it clear that Trump’s debate performance was disastrous. Here’s a CNN report that was published on Thursday afternoon:

The pushback comes amid reports that advisers hoped Trump’s missteps against Clinton in the first debate would convince the Republican nominee to concentrate on his message and tactics before they debate again. Aides had said Tuesday and earlier Wednesday that they have delivered the message (gingerly, one said) that the first debate didn’t go well.”Yes, he’s been made aware,” one adviser said.

But Trump is clearly not happy with this political convention. According to the same CNN report, he made it clear that aides were not, under any circumstance, to concede that the debate, which was lost, was lost. In a conference call, surrogates and aides were told to stop admitting that Trump lost and instead that Trump “successfully reinforced his outsider status, contrasting him with Clinton as a status quo candidate.”

But Donald Trump is not someone who can live with such reports circulating. Which helps to explain the series of tweets he sent in the middle of the night and early morning on Friday.

Got that? Don’t believe the reports that are circulating that say that Donald Trump lost the debate because Donald Trump didn’t say them.

This is obviously not how journalism works, and Trump, as someone who has repeatedly gone off the record with journalists over the last four decades, knows as much. But Trump’s biggest campaign tactic is gaslighting, so this is par for the course.

That said, if we shouldn’t treat anonymous sources as liars, then what are we to make of this tweet?


Jeb Bush has beef with that Kennedy who leaked his father’s support for Hillary.

Since the primaries, Jeb has mostly been wandering around the streets of Boston at night. But yesterday he popped up to deliver a lecture at Harvard, and when asked what he thought about reports that his father was voting for Clinton, Jeb said that it was “inappropriate for a person to overhear a frail 92-year-old man in a private setting, at a reception for the Points of Light Foundation,” and then “go on Facebook and put it on there, and then go on national television and not even show up at the board meeting.” In other words, Kathleen Hartington Kennedy Townsend, you’ve just made yourself a very mild enemy. Oh, and show up to the goddamn meetings!

Jeb didn’t deny that his father is going blue. As for his own plans come November, Jeb is still undecided, but he has said that he is considering casting a ballot for Gary Johnson, a candidate who is, if possible, more hapless than he is.

Donald Trump responds to allegations of fat-shaming Alicia Machado by slut-shaming Alicia Machado.

When asked by Dr. Oz about his long history of public misogyny—especially on Howard Stern’s radio show—Trump said that he was just playing a game. “Had I known I was going to be a politician—Howard Stern is a friend of mine—I wouldn’t have done his show. We have fun. We have fun. A lot of people understand that. We have fun. So we’ll talk about women. We’ll talk about men. We’ll talk about everything, and we’re all have a good time.”

But in the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton made it clear that there was nothing funny about Trump’s comments about women, baiting him into discussing former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, who he had repeatedly and publicly humiliated about her weight. Any normal campaign would have tried to move on from the massive L that its candidate took in the debate, but the Trump campaign is not a normal campaign in large part because the presidential candidate in question has access to a cell phone between certain hours of the day. Very early this morning, Trump sent a series of tweets referring to a reality show appearance in which Machado slept with another contestant. (Trump supporters have also alleged that Machado appeared in pornography, but there is no evidence that this is true.) None, surprisingly, contained the thinking emoji.

There’s a lot going on here. First of all, what is Trump doing? These tweets are timed between 3am and 5am. Was he just stewing, unable to sleep, even after Melania brought him a cup of warm milk? Second of all, there are less than 40 days to the election and Trump has spent the last four talking about Alicia Machado. Third, this basically takes a former Miss Universe and tries to turn her into the new Benghazi: Maybe Alicia Machado tricked Hillary Clinton into giving her citizenship so she could ... mention her in a debate? And how dare we give citizenship to ... someone who had sex with someone on a Mexican reality show? It’s weak shit and the alt right fever swamps really should be able to do something better. And finally, it showcases Trump’s two most un-presidential attributes. He’s easily baited and he finds it impossible to move on once he’s hooked. And his only answer to charges of misogyny is more misogyny.

September 29, 2016

Watch Trump spokesman Jason Miller insist that the sky is yellow.

Online polls are bad. They’re unscientific because they’re easy to rig: People can vote over and over again. Given the right wing’s fixation on the non-issue of voter fraud, it’s ironic to see the Trump campaign, licking its wounds after the drubbing Trump took in Monday’s debate, cling to them. Even as it has become more and more apparent that Trump lost—and as more and more Trump staffers have admitted that Trump lost—the Trump campaign is still pushing the idea that online polls are more accurate than other polls, which is completely false. On Thursday evening, Trump communications director Jason Miller tried to make the case to Chuck Todd.

Even for the Trump campaign, this is some primo gaslighting. To his credit, Todd pushed back, to the point that Miller almost admitted that Trump actually lost. Even within Miller’s blatant falsehoods, there’s an element of something approaching a normal strategy—the way to spin the polls is to say that they represent enthusiasm, even if they are not accurate. But what Miller did here went far beyond spinning. If you needed three and a half minutes of proof of the Trump campaign’s blatant disregard for the truth, this is it.

Joe Raedle/Getty

Is Hillary Clinton conceding Ohio?

Since John F. Kennedy won the state in 1960, every successful presidential campaign has won Ohio. But the Clinton campaign is sending signals that it’s abandoning the battleground state. According to a new report from The New York Times’s Jonathan Martin, Clinton has at least one foot out the door in the Buckeye State, where Trump has held a small lead for the last several weeks. “Hillary Clinton has not been to the state since Labor Day, and her aides said Thursday that she would not be back until next week, after a monthlong absence, effectively acknowledging how difficult they think it will be to defeat Donald J. Trump here,” Martin writes.

Former Ohio Democratic Party chair James Ruvolo told Martin that the Clinton campaign won’t abandon the state entirely, however. “They’ll keep putting in money, but I don’t think they’re going to put a lot of her time in here.”

Martin and a number of the people he spoke to note that Ohio is not quite the crucial bellwether state it once was. Clinton has many paths to get to 270 electoral votes and Ohio, which is “whiter, older, and less-educated” than the nation as a whole, may not be as easy to win as other key states, like North Carolina and, most importantly, Florida.

But the Clinton campaign’s decision not to fight tooth and nail for Ohio is still notable. It wasn’t so long ago that it was eyeing an electoral landslide—six weeks ago they were talking about invading Arizona and Georgia. With less than 40 days until the election, the campaign appears to be shifting to a strategy of putting more resources into fewer states. And for all the demographic challenges Ohio presents, Barack Obama won the state twice, meaning that there is a way for a Democrat to win Ohio if Clinton can convince voters there that Trump is not the populist defender of the working class he pretends to be.

The Washington Redskins are trying to ride the legal coattails of an Asian dance rock band called The Slants.

In 2011, the Portland, Oregon-based band were denied the trademark application for their name on the grounds that it was considered offensive to Asians. The decision seems cut and dry until you consider that the band consists only of Asian-American members who had chosen “slant” as a point of ethnic pride and as a way to confront racial stereotypes. The U.S. Trademark Office, however, had in fact taken the band’s racial identity into consideration; combined with the definition of “slant” at, among other sources, it defended it decision. But on Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the band’s challenge to the federal law that denied them their trademark.

But it isn’t just the fate of The Slants that’s at stake. The Washington Redskins football team, which was stripped of their trademark on the same grounds last year, have hitched their wagon to The Slants’ case, much to the band’s dismay. The band has distanced themselves from the football team, saying that the word “redskin,” unlike “slant,” has a “long history of oppression” and was an “inherent racial slur.” But the Redskins have no such qualms, and filed an amicus brief urging the Court to hear the band’s case and perhaps even hear their cases at the same time, which the Court did not agree to do. Still, the outcome of The Slants’ case would definitely have a ripple effect on the Redskins’ case.

The two cases are similar only in a superficial sense. Native Americans have protested the team’s name for decades. In the Slants’ campaign to receive their trademark, they invoked a long history of cultural re-appropriation of stereotypes by Asian-Americans, from the Slant Film Festival to the popular blog Angry Asian Man, as avenues for tackling discrimination and engaging in racial discourse. At a time when cultural appropriation has become a highly contested battleground, distinguishing between who is doing the appropriating and how groups are affected by such actions seems to be a basic first step in bringing nuance to the discussion.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The “Scholars and Writers for Trump” include a historian who thinks the Nazi perspective isn’t getting its due.

The website American Greatness has compiled a list of “Scholars and Writers for Trump” and there are some very odd names on it, including the historian Christiana Jeffreys. In 1986, Jeffrey had been hired by Ronald Reagan’s Department of Education to review proposed federal funding for a course on the Holocaust. Jeffreys was hostile to the course, arguing in her evaluation that “the program gives no evidence of balance or objectivity. The Nazi point of view, however unpopular, is still a point of view and is not presented, nor is that of the Ku Klux Klan.”

Jeffreys also argued that the course was propagandistic because it sought to “change the thinking of students in the same (way) that Hitler and Goebbels used to propagandize the German people. This re-education method was perfected by Chairman Mao and is now being foisted on American children under the guise of ‘understanding history.’” In 1995, when Newt Gingrich tried to appoint Jeffreys to the position of House Historian, her views on the Holocaust were so controversial the nomination was withdrawn.

Of course, the very idea of “Scholars and Writers for Trump” goes against Trump’s anti-elite appeal. For that reason, while the list includes a few fine scholars, many others are strange oddballs of little repute, such as:

  • Philosopher Hadley Arkes, who once compared those who murder abortion providers to “a band of Jews had killed guards and executioners on their way to work in Auschwitz.”
  • Popular historian Conrad Black, a convicted felon who was deported from the United States.
  • Historian Arthur Herman, who has defended Joseph McCarthy.
  • Anti–gun control advocate John Lott, infamous for fabricating research and creating a sock puppet named Mary Rosh to praise his own work.
  • Politician Newt Gingrich, who has a doctorate in history but is best known for other things, including trying to hire Christiana Jeffreys as the House Historian.