Nation

In veiled shot at Trump, Tillerson warns democracy at risk

NEW YORK — President Trump’s financial disclosure, released Wednesday, revealed for the first time that he paid more than $100,000 to his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, as reimbursement for payment to a third party.

The disclosure, released by the Office of Government Ethics, did not specify the purpose of the payment. However, Cohen has paid $130,000 to an adult film actress, Stephanie Clifford, who has claimed she had an affair with Trump.

Cohen has said he made the payment to keep the actress, who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels, from going public before the 2016 election with her story about an affair with Trump.

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A footnote in the disclosure said that Cohen had requested reimbursement of the expenses incurred in 2016 and Trump had repaid it in full in 2017. It did not give an exact amount of the payment but said it was between $100,001 and $250,000.

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The disclosure of the 2016 payment to Cohen raises the question of whether he erred in not reporting the debt on last year’s disclosure form. The document released Wednesday said that Trump was reporting the repaid debt “in the interest of transparency” but that it was “not required to be disclosed as reportable liabilities.”

Yet a letter accompanying the report sent to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, from David J. Apol, the government ethics office’s acting director, said that the Office of Government Ethics had determined “the payment made by Mr. Cohen is required to be reported as a liability.”

The disclosure also provides the first extended look at the performance of Trump’s Washington hotel, which opened in September 2016 and has become a magnet for lobbyists and Republican aides. The hotel is one of his best performing properties and the disclosure listed revenues of $40.4 million.

And Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, which the president frequents in the winter months, saw revenues of $25.1 million. Last year’s filing listed revenues over a 16-month period at Mar-a-Lago of $37.3 million.

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Other properties have not fared as well, including Trump National Doral, a golf resort near Miami, which is Trump’s biggest cash flow generator. It reported revenue of $74.8 million. Revenue there had tumbled in the filing a year ago, even after a major renovation.

NEW YORK TIMES

‘Animals,’ Trump calls some unauthorized immigrants

WASHINGTON — President Trump lashed out at unauthorized immigrants during a White House meeting Wednesday, warning in front of news cameras that dangerous people are clamoring to breach the country’s borders and branding such people “animals.”

Trump’s incendiary comments came during a round-table discussion with state and local leaders on California’s sanctuary laws, which strictly limit communication between local law enforcement and federal immigration officers, and which the Trump administration is suing to invalidate. It was hardly the first time the president has spoken in ugly and racially fraught terms about immigrants, but it underscored his lingering rage about immigration.

As he has in numerous private meetings with his advisers at the White House, Trump used the session to vent his anger at the nation’s immigration laws, calling them “the dumbest laws on immigration in the world.”

He exhorted his administration to “do much better” in keeping out undesirable people, including members of transnational gangs.

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“We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — we’re stopping a lot of them,” Trump said in the Cabinet Room. “You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.”

During the session, Trump suggested that the mayor of Oakland should be charged with obstruction of justice for warning her constituents in February of an impending large-scale immigration raid and arrests.

new york times

Tillerson warns of growing crisis of ethics, integrity

WASHINGTON — Former secretary of state Rex Tillerson took a veiled shot at President Trump on Wednesday, warning that a growing national crisis of ethics and integrity has put American democracy at risk.

In remarks to graduates of the Virginia Military Institute, Tillerson lamented assaults on facts that he said would lead to a loss of freedom if not countered. And he said that only societies able to pursue the truth and challenge alternate realities can be truly free.

‘‘When we as people, a free people, go wobbly on the truth, even on what may seem to be the most trivial of matters, we go wobbly on America,’’ Tillerson said. ‘‘If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society among our leaders in both public and private sector, and regrettably at times in the nonprofit sector, then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years.’’

Tillerson did not mention his former boss by name Wednesday but alluded to some policies of the Trump administration by decrying those who neglect or ignore long-standing allies or deny that free trade is an engine of global growth.

‘‘We must never take these long-held allies for granted,’’ he said, in apparent reference to Trump overruling the advice of his former top diplomat and others and withdrawing from some international agreements and threatening import tariffs.

Tillerson was asked to be VMI’s commencement speaker before Trump fired him by tweet in mid-March after months of tension between the men over policies including climate change, trade, the Middle East, and North Korea. Trump later explained that he didn’t see eye to eye with Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO, and had more in common with CIA chief Mike Pompeo, who took over as secretary of state.

associated press