As George W Bush taught us: "fool me twice, we don't get fooled again."
Remember when Donald Trump's $25,000,000 fraud settlement was a one-day news cycle because we were all focusing on Trump's insane vendetta against Hamilton?
Well, today, Donald Trump responded to the New York Times's deep dive into his conflicts of interest — even as a consensus is emerging among constitutional scholars that the exotic emoluments clause will require Trump to sell off much of his business empire — by tweeting a series of bizarre, ghastly-fascinating conspiracy theories about alleged "millions of people who voted illegally."
OK, that's just bullshit.
There's going to be a recount. We'll find out what we find out. Even if it turns out — as is likely — that fraud and irregularities are small-scale and add up to too small a hill of beans to affect the election outcome, we should totally be auditing votes cast with electronic voting machines, in every election, both randomly and in close-run ballots.
But the real story this weekend is Trump's conflicts of interest, lavishly documented by the attentive Richard C. Paddock, Eric Lipton, Ellen Barry, Rod Nordland, Danny Hakim and Simon Romero of the New York Times.
* He has business interests with Jose E. B. Antonio, who is also Philippines dictator Rodrige Duterte's Special Envoy to the USA
* Similar conflicts potentially exist is some 20 known countries where the Trump organization has dealings
* Trump also has a long, undisclosed list of foreign creditors, potentially including sovereign wealth funds
* Trump has used his political campaign to curry favor with foreign leaders: after his businesses in Turkey were threatened as a result of his call for a ban on Muslims entering the USA, he stood up for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's firing of 100,000 public servants and shuttering of 129 news agencies, rescuing his business interests in the process
The Times goes on to report, in detail on Trump's political and business conflicts in Brazil, India, Turkey, The Philippines, Ireland, Scotland, and around the world — including filing a trademark on "The American Idea," among other trademarks, that (according to the application), Trump will use to link his global holdings to the office of the US President.
The Times story also includes interactive features and videos, and will reward your close scrutiny (unlike the fact-free accusation of three million fraudulent votes).
In August, Elizabeth Trudeau, a State Department spokeswoman, said the United States was "very deeply concerned" about reports of "extrajudicial killings by or at the behest of government authorities of individuals who are suspected to have been in drug activity in the Philippines." She added, "We have also made our concerns known."
The question now, former State Department officials say, is just what kind of a stand the Trump administration will take as Mr. Trump and his family balance their personal and financial ties with foreign policy demands.
Mr. Antonio first met Mr. Trump casually in the 1990s and has been his business partner in the Philippines for five years. President Duterte named him special envoy to the United States as the Philippines angrily pushed back at President Obama for criticizing his deadly campaign. At the time of the appointment, Mrs. Clinton was leading in the polls in the United States presidential election.
Mr. Duterte has made clear that he does not appreciate American meddling in his country's domestic affairs.
"I am a president of a sovereign state, and we have long ceased to be a colony," Mr. Duterte told reporters in early September, before a scheduled meeting in Laos with Mr. Obama that never took place. "I do not have any master except the Filipino people, nobody but nobody."
Mr. Duterte handpicked Mr. Antonio as his intermediary with the United States, said his press secretary, Ernesto Abella, because of his business success, his previous experience as a special envoy to China and the Philippine president's "deep intuition about people." The appointment will be advantageous for the Philippines, Mr. Abella added, because Mr. Trump already knows Mr. Antonio.
Potential Conflicts Around the Globe for Trump, the Businessman President
[Richard C. Paddock, Eric Lipton, Ellen Barry, Rod Nordland, Danny Hakim and Simon Romero/New York Times]