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What’s old is new: Donald Trump donors get first-class access

After Carl Paladino, seen on the campaign trail

After Carl Paladino, seen on the campaign trail on April 1, 2014, Donald Trump's New York State campaign co-chair, made derogatory statements about President Barack Obama and his wife last week, Rep. Peter King called for the Trump team to sever ties with the Buffalo developer. Photo Credit: AP / Mike Groll

Swamp bling

Remember when Donald Trump bragged during the GOP primaries that his campaign was “self-funded” so that, unlike other pols, he wouldn’t owe donors special access?

Well, he did eventually reach out for big-money contributions to his campaign and the Republican Party.

And Politico finds that more than a third of the almost 200 people who have met with him as president-elect — including those interviewing for jobs — gave large amounts to his campaign and other Republican funding arms.

Multimillion-dollar donors and the jobs they have been nominated for include Betsy DeVos, secretary of education; Todd Ricketts, deputy secretary of commerce; and Linda McMahon, head of the Small Business Administration. In the six-figure donor class are Andy Puzder, secretary of labor, and Steven Mnuchin, secretary of the Treasury, who was also Trump’s finance chairman.

Longtime campaign experts told Politico that the extent to which donors are stocking Trump’s administration is unparalleled in modern presidential history.

Paladino tries to dig out

Carl Paladino, the Buffalo developer who was Trump’s New York campaign co-chair, is belatedly trying to contain damage from his comments last week wishing President Barack Obama dead and suggesting Michelle Obama was a man and should live with a gorilla.

In a statement, Paladino said the comments were meant for friends, but were inadvertently emailed to a weekly newspaper. He offered an apology to “the minority community” he “never intended to hurt.” But he didn’t apologize to the Obamas, and called critics “attacking parasites.”

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said the Trump team should be considering severing ties with Paladino. “You can say things that are politically incorrect. You can say things that you consider a dark humor. But, no, that was totally disgraceful.” See Yancey Roy’s story for Newsday.

The take-away: Unfiltered

From all indications, Trump won’t stop his quick-draw tweeting upon taking office.

The 140-character blurts on Twitter will have the potential to crater stocks, worry populations, advertise his rallies and products, and give his fans cues about how to pillory his critics, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison. It’s already his direct channel to share thoughts, grievances, information and misinformation.

For all Trump's use of the medium, Twitter stock remained stalled all year, Forbes reports. But it remains his microphone. Early Wednesday he used it to attack Obama over Israel and fumed about unnamed "obstacles" that the current president has created in his transition.

What he left out

Even as he moves to bury his foundation, Trump came to Twitter Monday night to praise it, and himself, for giving “millions” and saying “100% of money goes to wonderful charities!”

Except that the foundation was used to settle lawsuits against Trump businesses, admitted violating rules against self-dealing, made a political donation and bought two portraits of Trump, as The Washington Post reported. Trump made no personal donations between 2009 and 2014.

The New York attorney general’s office is investigating the foundation’s practices.

Trump’s China complications

Trump has signaled a hardball relationship with China, threatening a tariff on its goods and engaging in a direct dialogue with Taiwan’s leaders. But Trump’s businesses have been seeking China’s favor.

The president-elect’s hotel chain has been trying for at least eight years to establish a presence in China and predicted earlier this year that it would be able to open 20 or 30 luxury hotels there, The Washington Post reports. That won’t happen without cooperation from the government.

Other ties are already established. The state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is among the largest office tenants in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.

Bush-era vet returns

Trump on Tuesday named Thomas Bossert, who served as an adviser to former President George W. Bush, as assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, Newsday’s Emily Ngo reports.

A statement from Trump’s transition team said Bossert will advise the president on issues related to homeland security, counterterrorism and cybersecurity. Gen. Michael Flynn, as national security adviser, will handle international security challenges.

What else is happening

  • Secretary of State John Kerry is due on Wednesday to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after an Israeli committee delayed construction on new settlements at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's request.
  • Spokesmen for Mayor Bill de Blasio and the president-elect traded snipes by social media over the NYPD's expensive protection of Trump Tower.
  • Obama is preparing measures to "punish" Russia for its alleged meddling in the U.S. elections.
  • Discordant views on deficits, climate change, trade and Russia raise the question of how Trump's Cabinet picks would act in a coherent way, according to the Wall St. Journal (pay site).
  • Trump stewed anew on Twitter on Tuesday over Obama’s remarks that he would have won re-election if he could have run for a third term. Noting Obama’s stumping for Hillary Clinton, Trump tweeted: “President Obama campaigned hard (and personally) in the very important swing states, and lost. The voters wanted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
  • A more upbeat, peculiar tweet has the president-elect thanking himself for higher consumer confidence. 
  • A Gallup survey finds the confidence of Americans overall in the U.S. economy increased sharply after the election. Among Republicans, it tripled, more than overcoming a one-fourth dip in Democrats’ confidence.
  • Chris Christie was shut out from the Trump administration, but his inner circle says the New Jersey governor now expects to be called upon to save the day after the White House troika of Jared Kushner, Stephen Bannon and Reince Priebus turns into a disaster, The New York Times reports.
  • California’s Democratic-dominated government is prepared to bypass Trump and work directly with other nations and states to defend and strengthen policies to fight carbon change, The New York Times says.
  • Trump’s picks to be Treasury secretary and secretary of Health and Human Services have both turned over three years of tax returns to the Senate Finance Committee, CNN reports. Trump has never disclosed his returns.

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